#dailyspark: I mean… who doesn’t want to be on Team TobyMac?

Back in high school (ah, the good old days) I saw TobyMac in concert at a Christian music festival. I waited through two opening acts so I could jam out in the front row… and I was not disappointed. While I was l listening to one of his newer song’s last week (“Lights Shine Bright feat. Hollyn“) it brought me right back to that night: “music for the people to illuminate soul”.

 

 

And, uh.. TobyMac, if you’re hiring let me know. I do music videos

#dailyspark: Delaware Stork Bus

From their website:

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Photo Credit: Delaware Stork Bus, Inc

Delaware Stork Bus Inc. is a mobile mini-bus that will provide FREE ultrasounds and FREE pregnancy testing to women. Ultrasounds will be administered by a health care professional and read by a qualified doctor. The results of these tests will be made available to the women confidentially. Delaware Stork Bus Inc. will also have many resources to help a woman and her family through her pregnancy. These services are much needed in the communities that the Stork Bus will primarily look to serve. Delaware Stork Bus Inc. is an affiliate of the national Save the Storks Project which has established these mobile ultrasound buses across the country.

Please visit the following sites to support the mission of Delaware Stork Bus:

Website

Facebook

Go Fund Me

#dailyspark: Made in Hope

Made in Hope is a non-profit organization based in the Philippines which ministers to women who have been freed from sex trafficking and those “still enslaved”.

From their website:

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Photo credit: Made in Hope

MADE IN HOPE empowers exploited women and children with choices. We partner with on-the-ground ministries that seek out and shelter trafficked women and children, giving them the opportunity to continue their education, learn skills that lead to sustainable employment, and begin the healing process supported by mentors, counselors, and prayer.

Specifically, MADE IN HOPE raises money for scholarships so formerly exploited women and children may pursue an education, markets products made by rescued women to generate a sustainable income, and supports the healing process with both human and financial resources.

MADE IN HOPE also advocates for the still enslaved by sharing stories of exploited women at churches, conferences, and other events.

Connect and support this organization by visiting the sites listed below.

Website

Facebook

 

A Lesson We Can Learn From Road Rage

While driving on I-95 South this morning, I waited as four cars passed so I could merge into the left hand lane. I saw a large enough gap before a trailing red car and went for it. Well, I guess it wasn’t a big enough gap for the driver, because after I changed lanes in front of him I watched the disgruntled individual promptly flip me the bird through my rear view mirror.

Uh, what? You dont even know me.

I guess it was for the discomfort of having to slightly apply his break.

But, honestly. How angry have we become as a culture that we are giving complete strangers the middle finger?

If I was having a bad day I reluctantly admit that I would’ve given it back to him. 

It makes me realize how important a choice is; and to not allow anger to fester. We need to be more willing to break the chains of resentment and hostility and instead replace them with chain reactions of kindness. Like the drive thru stories where one thoughtful person decided to pay for the driver’s meal behind him in line and pretty soon the whole drive thru is repeating the same decision. Kindness begets kindness; people catch wind of it and they want to be a part of it too.

It’s a reminder to myself to look for areas of my life where chains of anger and hate need to be broken: gossiping, impatience, jealousy. I know when I see people exhibit virtue in these areas, I take notice and I strive to be like them.

So, instead of making the world an angrier place, let’s be examples to eachother and choose to put some wise words by a woman named St. Mother Teresa into practice:

 “People are often unreasonable,  irrational and self-centered. Forgive them anyway… Be kind anyway”

Guest Post: A Day in the Life of a Nurse

Guest post by a dear friend of mine. If this doesn’t make you want to hug a nurse, I don’t know what will.

I’ve been up for twenty hours.

I’m currently sitting on my couch with my feet propped up on two pillows. I’ll get up eventually, but right now I can feel every muscle in my body pulsating, and I’m (quite frankly) too lazy to move. If I get up to walk up the stairs to my bedroom, I will not be able to feel my feet. Its 1:15 am and I just ate two McDonald’s cheeseburgers (my dinner tonight). The wrappers are sitting on the floor beside me. Next to them are the socks I wore all day. Maybe I am a lazy, overweight (from my McDonald’s eating habits), sloppy insomniac with nerve problems that make me unable to feel my feet.
Maybe, I am a nurse.
In the last 17 hours, I’ve peed 3 times. The most recent being when I got home. I started to eat my lunch but had to stop because someone needed pain medication. It’s okay though, because my lunch was soup. It wasn’t going to be enjoyable anyway. What’s wrong with soup you ask? What’s wrong with soup is that you simply don’t eat it when you have been cleaning up and catching vomit for five people who have all puked at least three times in the first four hours of your shift. This has resulted in the need to administer drugs through non-traditional bodily entryways. And these aren’t people who can get up and walk themselves to the toilet, clean themselves up and flush.
My medication cart weighs much more than I do and I’ve walked over ten miles pushing it today.

I push it from room to room and give everyone their medications, until I get to one certain room. The person in that room has decided to just be plain angry today. She is angry because she wasn’t the first person out of the twenty-five to be cared for. She is angry that I would not stop tending to someone else’s needs for her wants. Therefore, she simply will not take them. Not now, not in one hour, not the ones you try to give her later. None. None that is, until she decides one minute before the end of your shift that she is anxious and in pain. When I ask if there is anything else I can do, she simply mocks me.
I have spent two entire hours today with someone standing over my shoulder. He wants to watch what I do. At least I know where he is. I like to know that he is safe and not attempting to leave via ALARMED doors. I ran down the long hallway three times today to catch him from going out those doors as the alarm was sounding. It’s so loud it sounds like there is a firetruck parked down there. And, I also ran down the long hallway twelve times today to answer the door to the floor for harmless friends and family who were behind locked doors because we didn’t want him to be unsafe . After there is no more running, I pass by someone else’s room to catch him about to pee on the TV, I stop him just in time. He opts for the floor instead.
I go through the list of names I have been called today and they have provided some good laughs. These include a very confident “Amy”,  “NURSE! “, “little lady”, “sexy” , “miss America” “missy moo moo” and best of all “granny grump grumps”. Whatever, I will answer to them all. Every now and then you get a good name calling of “f-ing bastard” or “damn ignoramus” to brighten your day. I think back to the person who remembered my actual name on their death bed.
I think about one of the last patients I saw tonight. I saw her several times today and told her about the night before when a terrified me learned when I came home from
my shift at midnight what a fox actually does say. (For anyone who is wondering, it sounds like a death scream). When I said Goodnight to her she said ” don’t let the fox get you!”. Another good laugh.
I think about my patient in the furthest room away with a low heart rate. I think about walking over there many,many times throughout my shift to check her. I told her she would get tired of seeing me. As I said goodnight to her she said ” thank you for caring”. Definite smiles ( like the deep down from the heart smiles) were exchanged. In those cases, “you’re welcome” just doesn’t really cut it. It’s better not to use any words.
I think about my patient who while on the phone said ” I have to go, I have the most beautiful nurse here to take care of me”. He didn’t feel very well, and said the only good thing in his day thus far was seeing me.
I think about my guy who peed on the floor and thank God that it was a non porous surface. I also am grateful that he kept his clothes on today. I also think about how today was the first day in weeks I’ve had a somewhat coherent conversation with him.
I think about my own clothes and am grateful that although they do not smell great, they are not soiled in bodily fluids. I dodged the bullet on that one quite a few times today. Score.
I think about my patient who sang ” good morning to you, good morning to you” in the tune of ” happy birthday” to me. She doesn’t know what day it is, but she is happy.
I think back to being present for people entering into this world and people leaving.
Some of these moments force me to take a deep breath before I face it. Some of these moments force me to let out a drawn out sigh afterwards. Some of these moments have warped my sense of humor, but have provided some good laughs. Some of these moments make everything else worth it.
I think about how there is no way to predict what is going to happen from day to day. There’s a definite to do list, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s not about how you tackle to do lists, it’s about how you handle what is thrown your way. A lot of stuff was thrown my way today (literally and figuratively). Overall the day was great ,and it was terrible. I kind of like to think I kicked ass at powering through those sixteen hours. That may be self-centered and a little crude for some of you (although you probably would have stopped reading by now) but I will allow myself to think that way just for a minute.
All survived the day.
And now I will walk upstairs on the parts of my feet that I can feel, step right over those McDonald’s wrappers, and go to glorious bed.

The Article Groupon Doesn’t Want You to Read

Going out to eat? There’s a Groupon for that! Need a new straightener? There’s a Groupon for that! Need a new nanny? Heck, there’s a Groupon for that too! Ok, maybe not the nanny.

Everyone knows the discount haven Groupon.com. It’s plethora of savings range from accessories to concert tickets, yet contrary to your typical coupon these deals need to be purchased (Ex. “a $45 value for $25”). The first time I patronized the site, I purchased a coupon to a hair salon which talked me into extensions when I arrived for the appointment (so, I didn’t really end up saving money). But, that was just a fluke.

I learned my lesson.. or so I thought.

Last fall, I found a groupon in mid-October to a restaurant that my boyfriend and I patronize frequently just knowing we would be stopping by to eat there within the next few weeks. Before I knew it a month had passed and I was continuously reminding him of that e-coupon I so proactively had purchased.  As I mentioned above, the deals on Groupon have an expiration date and mine was fast approaching (as in the day after we decided to eat there). And, of course on that same night the rest of Delaware decided to show up too (Yep, that same darn groupon). What made the situation more frustrating was that the crisis would have been averted if I had just remembered to make a reservation earlier in the week.

It’s almost like Groupon planned it this way… Did they?

I sure hope not. But, with the jam packed schedules people have nowadays of working forty hours a week, grocery shopping, catching up with friends-  I’ve begun to wonder if websites like Groupon bet on time slipping away from the customer. The nice thing is that even after the groupon expires it still holds the same monetary value that you purchased it for and you can use it to pay your bill at a future date.  But, you still spent $25 bucks, lost a deal and you might not make it to that restaurant again for another six months. For someone who is very frugal about money it kills me to know I was temporarily wasteful when I could have spent it on something I need right now. It also can take the enjoyment out of an event that is supposed to be relaxing. You’re going to a particular restaurant not because you want to go there, but because you HAVE to go there. And, what if you just felt like cooking at home?

My advice would be to give Groupon a peak if you are trying to decide where to eat, or keep a box of coupon cutouts from magazines and flyers you receive in the mail. There’s no pressure to use them because you haven’t paid for them. If you remember to look before going shopping or heading out to dinner, great . If not you can just throw them out.

Better to save your money until you are sure you are going to use it.

What are your thoughts? Tell me your Groupon stories!

 

 

A Tribute to Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the Life I Left Behind

It truly is “funny how a melody can bring back a memory” just like country musician Clint Black said in his 1993 hit “State of Mind”. The last couple of days I have been hearing Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” a lot on the radio and besides it giving me flashbacks to me and my friends watching White Chicks while binging on cheap candy, it brought back a time when I called Wernersville, Pennsylvania my home.

When I was twelve years old and had just moved to Delaware, “making my way down town walking fast, faces pass and I’m home-bound” meant a confused adolescent version of myself trying to get back to the life I left behind. Being thrusted into a new state meant making new friends, discovering new favorite places, and adjusting to being raised by a single mom. I did a convincing job of fitting in, but for a long time I felt that a piece of me was still waiting in PA and I would return to it someday.

I think all people struggle with this to a degree. We come across people and places in our lives that leave an impression on us. “Someday I’ll move here” or “It’s a shame we don’t live closer” are phrases I’ve heard countless times. But, I’ve come to realize over the years that it is dangerous to live your life looking over your shoulder; always mourning the life you used to have and comparing it to the life you live now.

I may have spent the first half of my life in PA but it doesn’t mean I belong there. The people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had in DE have shaped me into who I am today, and I wouldn’t be this person if I was still in PA. This revelation may seem like a no-brainer, but after growing attached to a place that holds happy childhood memories of a more stable, predictable life you can talk yourself into believing the past is what defines you- when it doesn’t. It’s the new memories you choose to make by living the best life you can… wherever you are.

Though it’s a lesson I’m still learning, at least now when I hear that opening line to “A Thousand Miles” I imagine myself somewhere in my hometown looking forward to getting back to the state I now call home: Delaware.

Top Five Places to Shop on Small Business Saturday

small-business-saturday-2015With Black Friday fast approaching, it’s been endless TV commercials informing you of the bargains available at local retail stores on November 27th. If you’re anything like me, the last thing on your mind during the Thanksgiving holiday is embracing the cold in the early morning hours to face massive crowds and super long lines; but you still have a list of gift purchases to make and you want to save some money along the way. Do not fear! Small Business Saturday is the day after Black Friday and to make it more convenient for you, dear shopper, I have compiled my top five favorite small businesses to patronize in Delaware (and beyond!). Skip the lines and the stress and choose to shop small this weekend.

1.) PENN’S PLACE (& Trader’s Cove Coffee Shop) – HISTORIC NEW CASTLE, DE

Ever since stumbling across this gem by accident with a friend five years ago, the coffee shop at Penn’s Place has become my little oasis for relaxation and fellowship. But, this historic landmark is also home to many talented artisans who will be running specials this Saturday. On the first floor is colonial inspired gifts by Jean Norvell (“Bit of History”), as well as Kenneth C. Sturgis of Snickers Ditch Trunk Company who sells refurbished trunks and other collectibles. He will be offering 10% off that day. Upstairs you will find one of a kind creations by Sami ( jewelry), Very Venetia (purses, tea trays) and Donna Teleis (equine, still life and landscape artwork). And, if all that wasn’t incentive enough to stop by, Trader’s Cove is giving customers a free 12oz latte of choice with a $20 purchase from one of their artisans.

www.pennsplace.net
www.facebook.com/PennsPlayce

206 Delaware Street, New Castle, DE
302-322-6334

2.) HEDGEAPPLE ANTIQUES- HISTORIC NEW CASTLE, DE

When you’re finished at Penn’s Place, head a couple doors down to HedgeApple Antiques and let the magical shopping experience begin. Perhaps growing up an auctioneer’s daughter is the reason why I love all things worn, rusty, chipped and re-purpose; it’s from being surrounded by antique treasurers throughout my childhood. If this sounds like you too, don’t miss out on HedgeApple’s early bird special this Saturday. The first twenty customers who spend $20 will receive a complimentary packet of vintage-inspired holiday trimmings (Um, YES!). You’ll have a blast picking out gifts with the store owner who always makes your shopping experience a memorable one.

www.hedgeappleantiques.com
www.instagram.com/hedgeappleantiques
www.facebook.com/HedgeAppleAntiques

200 Delaware Street, New Castle, DE

3.) ZONNEBLOEM (Upcycled by Mary) – ONLINE (+ @ World Cafe Live this Saturday)

11953344_10204966115247845_6931048957583035685_oNot only is this next lady a talented artist, she also happens to be my cousin. After creating masterpieces with old clothing fragments, Mary was encouraged by her sisters to take a sewing hobby to the masses- and Zonnebloem was born. You’ll find an eclectic display of upcycled home decor, clothing, jewelry, dream catchers and soy candles when you meet up with her at an event or art festival. This Saturday she will be at World Cafe Live in Wilmington from 12:00- 4:00 pm. If you can’t make it, you can shop to your heart’s content on her Etsy page. Follow her on Instagram to find out when she’s coming near you.

www.instagram.com/zonnebloeeem
www.etsy.com/shop/LXXXVI

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4.) SHOP MAMIE – TROLLEY SQUARE, DE + ONLINE

When I am scrambling to find the right dress for an event, I know I can always count on Shop Mamie to have a unique outfit that will fit my budget. This quaint boutique located in Trolley Square was started by two friends who shared a common goal: fashion at an affordable price. All their featured items are under $100, which makes a gift card to this store a great present for the fashionista in your life. Along with their clothing selection, Shop Mamie sells Toms footwear, Kate Spade accessories and much more. If you are unable to shop on location, browse their online catalogue at www.shopmamie.com. Host a Shop Mamie trunk party and you receive a complimentary gift.

www.facebook.com/Shopmamie
www.instagram.com/shopmamie

1942 Gilpin Ave, Wilmington, DE

5.) VINTAGE DOYLESTOWN – DOYLESTOWN, PA + ONLINE11150184_10153212450069235_4643008148757670536_n

I’m very sad that come January 31st of 2016, I will no longer be able to stop by Vintage Doylestown whenever I venture up to PA. Thankfully, the owner of Vintage is not closing down indefinitely, but has opted to remain solely an online store. You don’t have to wait until February 1st though to stock up on vintage goodies; her Etsy page is already up and running. Worried how a dress will fit? Or, what a hat looks like on? There is a detailed description for each item and often a picture of someone modeling the piece accompanies it. Locals can receive 20% off their purchase when they shop in store between now and January 31st.

www.instagram.com/vintagedoylestown
www.facebook.com/vintagedoylestown
www.etsy.com/shop/VintageDoylestown

63 W State Street, Doylestown, PA

So, there you have it. Now go blow that paycheck!