Day 23 – My spiritual beliefs in one sentence
I am not a particularly spiritual or religious person, but there is one rule that I try very hard to live by, that is found in one way or another in most major spiritual or religious practices.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
That’s right, the old golden rule. Be kind to people. Treat them the way you want to be treated. Do what you wish as long as it does no harm. To me, this is something that is sorely lacking in the world right now. It would be a much better place if more people would do this.
Day 20 – A high and a low
A high – As of 4:30 PM this afternoon, I am officially on vacation! Whoohoo! Heading out tomorrow morning for Seven Springs, Pennsylvania and the World Boardgaming Championships. Geeks of the world, unite!
A low – I am still worried about these weird health issues and will be headed to a specialist once vacation is over. Every test they’ve done so far has given no indication what is causing the symptoms and the specialist will cost a fair amount.
Day 19 – Today the sky is . . .
The sky is a mixture of things today. There are streaks of gray clouds mixed with white, small pockets of blue in between, and poking through the trees, a glimmer of sun.
And today is also a very special day – my mom’s birthday! Happy birthday to one of the most patient people in the world!
Day 18 – A recipe
It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I do not like to cook. No, scratch that. It’s not that I don’t like to cook, it’s that cooking can sometimes completely stress me out.
Unless . . .
Desserts, man. All the desserts. Why do the things that are bad for you taste so damn good! In any case, I am going to share one of my favorite recipes. This is not original – I am definitely not good enough to create my own. This recipe comes from Kitchen Comforts: Recipes to Feed Body and Soul.
I do love me a lemon bar!
Incidentally, when I pulled this book out, it was dusty like you would not believe. So that tells you two things: one, I don’t cook often enough, and two, my house is very dusty. And yes, I should probably do something about both of those things.
Day 17 – My Patronus
So for anyone who doesn’t know (and seriously, y’all should know this by now), a Patronus is from the Harry Potter books. It is a spell that creates essentially a sort of spirit guardian in animal form that is capable of chasing away Dementors, evil creatures who are able to steal happiness away from people. When I saw this was the topic, I honestly wasn’t sure if they were speaking literally or metaphorically. When dealing with fictional concepts, it’s sometimes hard to tell.
So I’ll start with this: what do I use as a Patronus in my real life? The answer for me would be theatre. I adore it. There is nothing like the feeling of being onstage and having the support and camaraderie of the cast, the crew, and the audience. I haven’t been able to take part in a show for a while now, but nothing is able to lift me up like that does.
Going back to Harry Potter, of course, you can’t end a post about Patronuses without taking an online quiz to see what yours would be, and if you’re going to do that, you might as well take the quiz written by J.K. Rowling herself over at Pottermore. And it turns out:
That’s pretty cool!
Day 16 – Three celebrity crushes
This one is slightly tricky for me, because I follow different celebrities than most people do, with one or two exceptions. But here we go.
- Ramin Karimloo – This one has got to be number one. He is a singer and actor who has performed on Broadway and the West End in many, many productions. Can’t get to either of those? Check out the 25th Anniversary concert of Les Miserables (he played Enjolras) or the 25th Anniversary performance of Phantom of the Opera (he played the Phantom). He is amazingly talented, beautiful to look at, and on top of all that, is a super nice guy. I have actually gotten to meet him twice, once at the stage door when he was in the Les Mis revival on Broadway, and once after a smaller concert he gave in Virginia on tour.
- Matthew Mercer – This one could be considered a crush, but is also someone that I just straight up admire. He is a voice actor who has been in many animated features and video games, but what I know him from is as the Dungeon Master on Critical Role, a web series where a bunch of voice actors play Dungeons & Dragons. He created the world they play in, the story arc, and a whole slew of characters, each with a unique voice and personality. It’s really remarkable what he does. Plus (again), he seems like just the nicest guy! Someone you would want to come over to hang out and play games with.
- Alan Rickman – Sigh. RIP Alan Rickman. I was so unbelievably sad when he died. I was at work when I found out and had to go into the bathroom and cry for a while. This one might seem a bit odd, since he would be old enough to be my father, but I have always loved the man. I first saw him in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, where he played the Sheriff of Nottingham. A lot of people don’t like that movie, but I always enjoyed it, especially his scenes. His character was so over the top crazy! And then . . . he played Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films. That was it. I was done for. Seriously, I could listen to him speak all day long. His voice was just amazing. He could read the dictionary and I would just sit there enthralled. I got to meet him too (sort of). He was in a play in New York called Seminar, which was really funny, and I got to meet him at the stage door and get his autograph.
Day 15 – An unsent letter . . .
I’ve never told you just how much your friendship has meant to me. I’m not the easiest person to be friends with, something that I have tried to work on with varying degrees of success. It is my instinct to push people away, to insulate myself from anything that could hurt me. Despite this, you are one of the people who has touched my old, crusty heart. While we don’t see each other as often as I’d like, the times we do get to spend together always bring a smile to my face. And while I’m fairly certain that you mean more to me than I do to you, I know that you always have my back. For that, I am forever grateful.
Day 13 – Something I’ve always wanted to be good at
So many things! I always had a bad habit of quitting at things that I didn’t master, or at least feel like I could master, right away. So right off the bat, I wish I was better at being persistent at things. Besides that, here are two other things I wish I was good at.
Music was a big thing for me, especially when I was younger. I started playing the piano when I was six or seven and then started playing the flute in sixth grade. For a while, I wanted to be a professional musician. I thought the best way to do that would be to learn more instruments, so in the summer between ninth and tenth grade, I started learning the oboe. And I LOVED it. Except . . . when I played, it sort of sounded like a tortured duck. I tried really hard and got a little better, but it was never something anyone would want to listen to. When I moved before eleventh grade, I had to give it up and was never able to go back to it.
Another thing I wish I could do is draw. My daughter is an amazing artist and loves to draw anime characters. I’ve always liked drawing, especially when I was a kid, but I was always lucky that I could color inside the lines, much less draw my own pictures. I’ve thought about trying to draw, maybe see if my daughter could teach me something, but every time I’ve tried in the past, the results were laughable at best.
Day 12 – Describe a great day (real or imagined)
One of the best days of my life was back in 2007 when I found out that I had received a financial aid package that was going to be enough to quit my job and focus on my education full-time. Up until that point, I had been attending the local community college and working, which was challenging to say the least, especially since I was also a single mom for most of that time. I would not have made it without my mother, who my daughter and I were living with at the time and who always did anything she could to help me.
My mother came with me to attend the orientation/open house for UNC-Greensboro, the university I would be transferring to, and it made me cry. I knew that I would never be able to take advantage of most of the offerings there because I was still going to have to work almost full-time to afford anything and probably have to carry a full course load as well in order to finish my degree or to qualify for even the slightest bit of financial aid. It was as if I was looking through a window at these golden opportunities and wasn’t able to reach them.
A few days later, I received my answer back from FAFSA. Turns out being a poor, single mom with perfect grades (I graduated both schools with a 4.0 GPA) makes the financial aid people give you money. It wasn’t a fortune by any means, but it was enough to not only afford full tuition, but to be able to quit my full-time job at the law firm and focus solely on my education. It was as if that window had suddenly become a door that was open wide, welcoming me inside. The possibilities suddenly seemed endless.
I did end up getting a part-time job at the university library to supplement my finances (best job EVER!!!), but since it was part of the university system, they were completely understanding and flexible with my schedule.
I consider those years spent at UNCG to be the best years of my life. I felt free for the first time in a long time. I felt like I had a chance to build the life I wanted (which totally didn’t happen, but it was a nice feeling in the moment). And it all started that one day with a FAFSA letter.
Day 11 – Three favorite scents
- Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy Stress Relief – I don’t care what form it comes in. Candles. Lotion. Body spray. The combination of spearmint and eucalyptus is so soothing to me. When I have a really bad day, I just hide my face in it and it makes me feel just a bit better. The tension literally melts away, especially from my shoulders for some reason. I hold a lot of tension there.
- New York City – This one might sound weird. NYC is one of my favorite places in the world, with it’s theater and literature and culture. If you want to learn about anything, you can find it in New York. The city just has a smell. It’s a combination of wet concrete and garbage and a mixture of food scents wafting from various restaurants along the street. Whenever I smell it, I know that I am in my home away from home.
- Coconut scented sunblock mixed with chlorine – Nothing says summer and childhood like the combination of these two scents. How many days did I spend at my aunt and uncle’s house swimming in their pool? How many days did I spend at friend’s houses swimming? So many! That scent brings back lots of happy, fun memories and always promises a fun time.