I have made many television, podcast, and other media recommendations in the past, but this is different. It’s important. I strongly believe that everyone should watch Netflix’s limited series, Unbelievable, about the true story of an 18-year-girl accused of lying about her rape and the two female detectives that investigate a series of rapes with a similar modus operandi. The series stars the inimitable Toni Collette and Merritt Wever as real-life Detectives Edna Hendershot and Stacy Galbraith, respectively, as well as Kaitlyn Dever, who plays Marie Adler. Marie a pseudonym for one of the true victims of this serial rapist who was active in both Washington State and Colorado.

This series is heartbreaking, infuriating, and highly informative with an outstanding ensemble cast including Toni Collette and Merritt Wever. Wever brings understated energy to Detective Karen Duvall; she is the vitality of the investigation with her quiet anger, empathy, and steady leadership. She, partnered with Collette’s more seasoned and cynical Detective Grace Rasmussen, give viewers the most empowered female duo since Thelma and Louise. Don’t worry; they’re not vigilantes but they have the same exciting grit and tenacity of Sarandon and Davis.

As a woman, these are the detectives I would want to be out there chasing bad guys. As Rasmussen demands in frustration at one point in the series, “Where is their outrage?”. She is referring to the even-keeled demeanor of their male counterparts when exploring different angles of the investigation. This is a question asked many times in this series. Where is the outrage? Why are women not believed?

Though the show makes it easy to celebrate these very human lead detectives as champions for justice, we also must bear witness to abhorrent mistakes by the institutions meant to protect people like Marie. Marie was put into the foster care system at a very young age and unfortunately, but not surprisingly, dealt with physical and sexual abuse. She does her best to move forward and we first meet her when she is living in an apartment complex subsidized by a non-profit that assists individuals transitioning out of the foster care system into the real world. It is in this apartment complex that she is threatened by a man in a mask in the middle of the night, tied with her own shoelaces, raped of the course of three or four hours, and photographed before being told she should be more careful and lock her windows.

The two male detectives that investigate the crime scene have little DNA evidence; the rapist used a condom and wore gloves. And yet, after one of Marie’s former foster mother’s contacts them about her doubts and Marie’s dubious behavior, the whole investigation shifts from the rape incident to Marie’s credibility. She is ultimately bullied and coerced into a confession that she lied about her assault. She is subsequently charged with false reporting, ordered to pay $500 towards legal fees, undergo mandatory counseling, and remain on probation. Throughout this ordeal, she has lost her job, all of her friends, and is the victim of threats and online bullying.

Denver as “Marie”, based on a true story of an 18-year-old rape victim charged with false reporting in 2008.

What I took away from this show was that there simply is no “normal” way to cope with trauma. Marie may have behaved strangely to her foster mothers after the fact. She may have vacillated on the details of her story. But I still must ask; why is there inherent disbelief of female victims? The system failed Marie over and over again. Fortunately, in the show and real life, she received the vindication she deserved but at an enormous cost. Denver’s portrayal of Marie should be mentioned; she maintains a tiny flame of dignity and strength throughout her ordeals. It is nearly extinguished by the ones that were meant to protect her, but ultimately, Detectives Rasmussen and Duval restore Marie’s faith in humanity.

After watching the series (and believe me you’ll binge it) listen to the Anatomy of a Doubt episode on This American Life‘s podcast detailing Marie’s case. While we hear sincere remorse from one of the male detectives that botched her case, we still get victim-blaming from one of her awful foster moms, Peggy Cunningham. She refuses to take responsibility that she put in motion the destruction of Marie’s life. I am truly outraged about it. Watch, listen, do your research. This is a true story. Share your thoughts below. And believe women.


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This weekend, Saturday in particular was quite eventful and so much fun. I started the day at the gym as I knew I’d be eating very well and without holding back for two celebrations.

The first was at Radio Flyer’s 102nd Anniversary Barbecue that I attended with my brother Bill who works in their warehouse as the “Prince of Parts”. I was so impressed by the building and grounds, the cheery dispositions of his colleagues, and the execution of a lovely family-oriented party. It was picture perfect out, if a little muggy, but it certainly was ideal for this outdoor party. There was mini golf, face painting, balloon art, and fantastic food available including a corn on the cob station, a DIY macaroni and cheese station, pulled pork sandwiches, great salads, fruit, and ice cream. Not to mention an open bar and an actual pig roast (the latter was not so much my speed).

The decor was delightful; the picnic table runners were red and white gingham, very appropriate given Radio Flyer’s colors, topped with happy yellow sunflowers. Bill and I participated in a water balloon toss with a large number of people, which was very entertaining. I met and chatted with some of his colleagues, including former temps of my firm that have since become full-time employees, as well as our staffing contacts there. People could not have been nicer and I can tell Bill is well-regarded for his hard work, fun personality, and his punctuality in the cafeteria at lunch hour!

We stayed for a few hours until it was time for me to head to Arlington Heights for Emma’s 5th birthday party at the Newmans’. Unfortunately, it seemed that the Lyft drivers in the area near Radio Flyer were not keen on making the trip. Eventually, after nearly 25 minutes of waiting, I was picked up and taken to the suburbs, though the driver seemed skittish of the highways, so it took much longer than I thought and the pizza was already getting cold. Luckily, I enjoy cold pizza as much as I do warm!

I said hello to all the adults, then the kids. I played with Izzy for a while in the backyard. She is a toddler now and still as smiley and fun as ever. We admired the many planes flying overhead that she pointed to and the beautiful pink sunset. The Iowa vs. Iowa State game was on in the backyard and everyone was enjoying themselves with drinks and good conversation. Later on, I housed a few slices of cold pizza. It was a fun night and Emma’s gift was a success since it was on her wish list and she screeched when she opened it!

The next morning I headed back to the city with a few bug bites on my ankles but feeling good. I took the Metra and a Lyft from the Clybourn Station to my place. Cleaned, did laundry; the typical Sunday activities. It’s an Indian summer out there. The locusts are buzzing rhythmically and Chicago’s clinging on to humidity. I’m not too mad about it, though I am always ready for fall. It will be a few short weeks until my 30th birthday, which is hard to believe, but I’m looking forward to celebrating. Life has so much to celebrate.


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In the summer leading up to September 11, 2001, and the surrounding terrorism events, I was very sick. Physically, I was seriously wasting away. Mentally, I couldn’t deviate from living a perfect life where I had 100% control. This manifested itself in severe anorexia, depression, and some obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Emotionally, I was regressing into a more innocent person. A non-person, really. I wanted to protect myself from the world around me so I imploded.

By September, I was completely withdrawn and a shell of my former self, which had been confident, gregarious, and social. I focused all of my attention on being an exceptional student, and not eating. I remember distinctly sitting in my sixth-grade classroom at Highcrest Middle School. I felt weak and diminutive in my chair. At this point, I barely made eye contact with my fellow students. However, I was lucky enough to have two teachers that I trust implicitly and treated me like a person.

On that September morning, I remember being vaguely aware of something very serious happening, and yet, I felt very insulated in Chicago and in my classroom with a trusted teacher. In my limited and distracted perception of events, this was something happening in New York. I didn’t understand the implications until I got home from school and witnessed my mom glued to our analog television in the kitchen, which was highly unusual.

I also remember making American flag beaded pins with my soccer team to fundraise for the recovery efforts. I was still not talking to anyone if I didn’t have to, but I did feel a sense of purpose that I hadn’t for a long while. I felt part of something good that was bigger than me and my personal struggles.

Years later after I recovered, I remember meeting a candidate that had lost a significant other and many friends during the attacks, as she had worked in the World Trade Center. I’ll never forget when she shared that part of her life and career story with me. It was a reminder of how impactful, devastating, and tragic it was for so many Americans.

While my September 11, 2001 experience was very indirect and shrouded in obscurity given my mental state at the time, I do try to pause and reflect about it, especially as I get older.


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Recently, I’ve been doing a little research on the world of Outsider Art. Outsider Art is created by individuals that haven’t had a conventional education in art; they’re self-taught. They are also not considered part of the conventional art establishment and many, though not all, suffer mental illness. The springboard for my research was when I came across some works by artists featured in German psychiatrist and art historian, Hans Prinzhorn’s Artistry of the Mentally Ill (1922).

Prinzhorn’s groundbreaking study, the first of its kind, gained much attention in avant-garde circles of the time, interesting artists such as Paul Klee, Max Ernst, and Jean Dubuffet. In the 1940s, the latter went on to coin the term Art Brut (Raw Art), which along with the related concept of Outsider Art, has continued to capture the public interest, to the point where it has today (some might say ironically) become a successful art marketing category in its own right.

And indeed, it did capture my interest. In doing further research, I realized how mainstream Outsider Art has become. It is regularly showcased in galleries globally, including my beloved Chicago. Since 1991, Intuit: The Center For Intuitive And Outsider Art, has been showcasing Outsider Art exclusively, eschewing the notion that you need an MFA or a certain kind of CV to be successful and have your work displayed. While I’m just scratching the surface with my research on the world of Outsider Art, I wanted to share a few of the artists that stuck out to me.

Adolf Wölfli

Wölfli was a Swedish Outsider Artist that endured a rough childhood, having been physically and sexually abused. As he grew older, he began to show signs of predatory, deviant behavior with a few instances of child molestation that got him sent to prison. Later, homeless, he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and exhibited violent and psychotic behavior. What calmed him? Drawing. Prolifically. And he only discovered his obsession with drawing at the age of 35. He would use pencils until all that was left was a nub of lead. He bartered food to get his hands on more pencils and paper.

Over the next three decades, he will paint, compose music and write a semi-biographical book that has 45 volumes, approximately 25.000 pages, and more than 1.600 illustrations.

Wölfli exhibited horror vacui in his works, or “fear of empty space” in Latin. Indeed, you’ll notice that his works are full and leave no blank areas. I find this fascinating and venture that it comes from some sort of compulsion.

Madge Gill

Madge Gill was born illegitimately in England, unwanted and shuffled from orphanages to relative’s homes due to the embarrassment of her birth. When she grew older, she married her cousin and gave birth to a few children of her own, unfortunately including a son with a fatal case of Spanish flu. After recovering from the illness herself, she took up ink drawing at the age of 38. These drawings are detailed, mesmeric, and in stark black and white, often featuring women in the garb of the time (the 1920s).

Interestingly, her prolific career was motivated what she called “Myrninerest”, or “my inner rest”. Gill was a spiritualist (later working as a medium in the 1930s) and believed she was a vessel for the spirit that produced her art as opposed to being responsible herself. This disassociation combined with the style of her work made her stand out to me and I rather wonder if she suffered from mental illness as well.

August Natterer

Natterer was a German artist featured in Prinzhorn’s book. The onset of his schizophrenia occurred after he married and established himself as an electrician. On April Fool’s Day in 1907, he hallucinated the Last Judgment, culminating in a suicide attempt and subsequent committal into a mental asylum for the remainder of his life. I couldn’t find much more information on his biography, but his artwork is striking, stark, and endlessly haunting.

My Eyes in the Time of Apparition (1913)

Citations:

(2019, April 23). August Natterer. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Natterer

Bentley, C. (2019, April 11). ‘Outsider’ Art Is Going Mainstream. But In Chicago, It’s Always Been In. Retrieved from https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019/04/11/outsider-art-chicago

(2019, August 8). Hans Prinzhorn’s Artistry of the Mentally Ill (1922). Retrieved from https://publicdomainreview.org/collections/hans-prinzhorns-artistry-of-the-mentally-ill-1922/

(n.d.). Home. Retrieved from http://madgegill.com/biography

(2019, June 22). Horror vacui. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_vacui

(2019, August 9). Madge Gill. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madge_Gill

Rhodes, C. (n.d.). Outsider art. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/art/outsider-art


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Except it wasn’t all that frightening…

My brother Bill and I went to see It Chapter 2 last night and while I found it quite entertaining, I was laughing more than jumping in my seat. The film itself was quite long, almost too long, running at two hours and 50 minutes. The comedic relief and imagery, particularly the purposeful goofiness of Pennywise the Clown, was substantial. There were some great jump scares but the film lacked the skin crawling terror and seediness of its predecessor, It.

Bill and I agreed that the casting choice of Scotsman James McAvoy was rather odd and he had a few cringeworthy moments riding his old bike silver. Other than that, I appreciated the choices for the adults Losers. Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, and James Ransone particularly shined as adult Beverly, Richie, and Eddie. Steven King, the author, made a fun yet goofy camoeo. Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise was great, as usual, but I do wish they’d let him retain the level of depravity and danger of the first film. I felt they made him a little too clownish, for lack of a better expression. Honestly, I found It Chapter 2 a bit reminiscent of The Goonies, which isn’t a bad thing, but I just didn’t find it scary.

This reviewer hit the nail on the head:

This nearly three-hour sequel has well-rounded, appealing characters and even some laughs, but it lacks the nerve-rattling scares and appealing simplicity of its 2017 predecessor.

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/it-chapter-two

Still, I recommend it as it was quite entertaining. That being said, I would plan to make a bathroom trip right before the film starts and make sure you’re not going in hungry since it’s so long!

Bill and me at the movie theatre!

Bill and I were running late for our dinner reservations (I didn’t account for the lengthy movie trailers) at Masa Azul in Logan Square, but the host was very understanding and we were sat immediately. We had this misfortune of choosing a wine that ended up tasting like Welch’s Grape Juice and was essentially undrinkable. The tacos were phenomenal as they had been the last time we went. We ordered:

  • Pork Chile Verde: tomatillo salsa-braised pork, onion, cilantro, Mexican crema, queso fresco
  • Lamb Barbacoa: braised lamb, onion, cilantro, avocado
  • Pollo en Pipian Verde: chicken thigh, pumpkin seed sauce, pickled guero chiles, queso fresco, cilantro
  • Asada: grilled flank steak, cilantro, white onion

All of them were tasty, but the Pollo en Pipian Verde was the most delectable, surprising given my usual preference for all things Asada.

I did happen to notice one of the wall decorations at Masa Azul; it reminded me very much of a scene from It Chapter 2. You can only imagine, otherwise, you’ll just have to see it…


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Female black Labrador retrievers are what I grew up with. The first that I remember is Reilly; she was pretty old and a bit of a mess from what I recall of her. She had patchy fur and was constantly scratching her skin, apparently due to horrible allergies and “a million health problems”, according to my mom. I loved her of course, especially her lovely white goatee, that of a grande dame. Unfortunately, I remember her always being a little bit stinky, so I didn’t snuggle her too often. At the age of 14, she passed away having developed cancer and as I was still quite young, the impact was not so profound.

Reilly on the left (as I remember her best) snuggling with Maggie, our family friends’ sweet yellow lab.

The dog that I really connected with the most was Jonesy. We got her circa 1999, so I would’ve been about 10 years old. She was the most athletic dog you could ever imagine. Under her glassy black fur were rippling, defined muscles. If ever you thought, “that dog is ‘juiced'”, one might suspect her (of course we would never do that). She had an infinite well of energy and would play fetch in the backyard or in Lake Michigan for hours until her humans got too tired. Once, she ran through our family friends’ screen door like a sleek black bullet; straight through, just to get to the back yard to see Maggie (Maggie was around for both Freeman dog generations and she was well-loved by all).

Jonesy wasn’t one for excessive snuggling, but you could get her to lay at your feet on the couch, feeling her rib cage rise and fall, hearing an occasional sighing exhalation escape her snout. She had glow-in-the-dark, iridescent green eyes; a truly beautiful face. I would give her a big kiss on her wet nose or her raspberry-colored belly, which she didn’t like. We went through a lot with her. She was hit by a car and survived, like a true Incredible Hulk.

Young Jonesy; I miss her so much!

Unfortunately, she was put down my freshmen year of college in 2008 after suffering from blastomycosis. She was only nine and I was truly devastated, especially as I was not there to say goodbye. Thanks to Jonesy, my fondness for black labs continue on. I get excited whenever I see one and I’m sure in the future, I will own one myself.

Being a single lady in the city, I realize a Labrador Retriever would be an inappropriate apartment dog. What the hell would it have room to retrieve in a studio apartment? It’s not the kind of breed that functions well without a ton of exercise and time outdoors; something as a full-time employee, I’d be unable to give at this time.

That said, I’ve looked into other breeds and am set on getting a smaller dog, particularly one from the “squish face sector” as I call it, also known as a brachycephalic breed. Think French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers. I love their bulbous eyes and stout front bodies. My entire Instagram feed is full of videos and pictures of these dog breeds and the itch to have a little buddy steadily grows.

It’s a huge responsibility and I am carefully considering the potential health issues (breathing problems, hip dysplasia, overheating, etc.) that can very quickly result in financial issues; queue an emergency vet visit! I would also have to pack up and move to a dog-friendly building. It would be quite an undertaking, but one that I’m feeling readier for with each month that passes. Perhaps when my lease is up in May of 2020, it will be time to move forward seriously with one of my biggest goals in life: getting a puppy!


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It took several weeks, but my fingernails are almost completely regrown. I haven’t had a stitch of polish on them for that duration. I’ve been trying to heal them after all of the damage done by no-chip gel manicures. My nails were paper-thin, breaking and peeling constantly, and painful to the touch. I realized that I had to quit cold turkey to get them fully grown out and healthy again.

At this stage, I’m not even sure I will ever get a no-chip again or at least very rarely. To start, manicurists seem to have to buff down the nail for the gel to adhere well. Then, you need to stick your hands under UVA light for each coat of gel to harden. This may not seem like much, but it adds up over time if you’re getting regular manicures.

Dr. Adigun says UV exposure during gel manicures should be a concern for everyone, not just people who know they are especially UV-sensitive, because the lamps used in these manicures emit UVA rays. Although these rays don’t burn the skin like UVB rays, she says, they do penetrate the skin to damage DNA and collagen, which can lead to premature aging and may increase skin cancer risk.

(n.d.). Gel manicures: The good, the bad and the UV. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/gel-manicures-dermatologists-share-tips-to-keep-nails-healthy

I am also guilty of peeling off the polish once it does start to chip, which takes off layers of your nails. Obviously, this is not the intended method, but even if I am patient and do it the correct way, it’s still not so great for your nails:

Acetone, the chemical soaked on the nail for removal, is very drying, and can leave the nail thinner, causing it to become brittle making the nail bed more susceptible to infections and fungus.

Staff, health enews. (2013, October 4). Is a no-chip manicure no good for your health? Retrieved from https://www.ahchealthenews.com/2013/10/04/is-a-no-chip-manicure-no-good-for-your-health/

Now, I do understand the draw to no-chip: it’s relatively quick, requires no drying time, and lasts for a couple of weeks if done properly. Still, I have to imagine that some point no chip gel manicures will phase out. Maybe dipping powder will replace it, or perhaps there will be a new, healthier method that’s developed. Regardless, after the wear and tear over the last few years, I’m thinking I would much rather get a normal manicure and wait a few extra minutes for it to dry than ruin my nails again.


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At least twice a week, I like to do a little three-step, at-home routine for my face using three different tools. It takes probably 20 to 35 minutes in total, hence why I don’t have the time or energy to do it as often as I would like, but I thought I would share it with you since I have been enjoying the results: refreshed, younger, tighter, and more moisturized skin.

Step 1: ORA Microneedle Face Roller

With a clean, make-up free face, I use the ORA Microneedle Face Roller with 0.25 needles around my forehead, temples, cheeks, chin, and jawline for three or four minutes. Essentially this creates microscopic wounds in your skin, which stimulates cell growth and regeneration in addition to allowing skincare products to absorb more effectively. And no, it doesn’t hurt! The needles are so small that you can comfortably roll your face without any sort of numbing agent.

Step 2: NuFACE Mini & Aloe Vera Gel

After microneedling is completed, I apply organic aloe vera gel to one side of my face, including the forehead, cheeks, jawline, chin, and neck. This works as a barrier/conductor for the NuFACE Mini facial toning tool (I dislike their included gel primer because it runs out quickly). The NuFACE is timed for five minutes and I use it for five minutes on one side of my face, followed by the other. If I’m feeling ambitious or binge watching something on Netflix, I’ll repeat this process, reapplying aloe vera gel as needed. The microcurrents from NuFACE also help to stimulate collagen and elastin. After that, I take a warm, damp washcloth and wipe the residual aloe vera gel from my face and neck. At this point, my skin feels tighter and more lifted.

Step 3: Farmacy Beauty Honey Potion Renewing Antixodiant Hydration Mask

I recently got this facial mask as a sample from Sephora and I liked it so much that I purchased the 4.1 oz version. At this point in my routine, I take a dollop and massage the mask into my face for two or three minutes. As you massage it in, the product begins to warm your face, which is a very soothing touch. I leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes, though you can rinse it as soon as 10 minutes. The mask leaves your skin feeling highly moisturized and plump. The raw honey ingredient has natural hyaluronic acid, which draws moisture in. Plus, the lingering smell of honey is really pleasant.

Fin!

At the end of this routine, I feel as though I’ve left a professional facial. Yes, it’s time-consuming and you’re doing all the work, but I keep revisiting this three-step process because the results are there.


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A little over a year ago, I wrote about my hurt from the estrangement I imposed between my father and me. I also wrote about our subsequent reunion, which was made possible by serious efforts on my behalf, which included visiting a therapist for guidance and processing. The results include not only a healed relationship but healed personal wounds as well.

I had made a lot of assumptions about my dad for many years regarding the way he thought and felt about me. At some point, I decided for him that he didn’t care about me enough. He wasn’t on the surface like the other dads I admired. I didn’t stop to think that he had his struggles. He was just Dad, and a lousy one at that, I thought.

These decisions I made were not only untrue, but they were incredibly damaging. I was not mature enough to understand that the way my dad is and what he didn’t do is irrelevant to his love or care towards me. I know very little about his life except how it relates to me. Until therapy, it didn’t occur to me that perhaps his own experiences and emotional scars inhibited him as a father.

Overall, when I look back at the timeline of my relationship with my dad, I realize the greatest lesson I have received from it has been that of compassion. We expect our parents to be a certain way, but often don’t realize until later that they are flawed human beings just like us. They don’t have all the answers. They have limits that are different than their children. I would like to think that now I am better equipped to deal with other people that I don’t understand or connect with as well with more compassion, thanks to my dad.


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Hi friends. My apologies for the radio silence this week. I had another post planned but decided to postpone the scheduling of it given the events of the last few days.

Firstly, work has been extremely busy, which is a good thing. I interviewed 10+ candidates internally, sent active ones out on several interviews, and did quite a bit of scheduling and administrative work. This saw me in the office early, fully engaged throughout the day, and leaving later. We also had a very fun after-hours event by the river on Wednesday night, sitting close to former Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel. It’s a rewarding feeling considering that the more volume I produce as a recruiter, the more chance for making matches between clients and candidates.

That said, I do feel as though I’m running on fumes a little bit even though I have managed to prioritize a good nights’ sleep all week. My energy reserves are quite depleted and I haven’t been able to focus on the blog. I plan to take the opportunity of a long weekend ahead to create and write and I’m very excited about that.

Interestingly, I found myself in Evanston Hospital after work on Tuesday evening. My poor mom underwent a surprising emergency appendectomy! Fortunately, it won’t affect her nearing travel plans to Africa and the surgery was successful; even post-op she was her normal funny, chatty self and she was able to return home the next day.

It made me think about life; particularly health, aging, and friendship. One of the most profound aspects of this experience was seeing the overwhelming outpouring of love and concern from my mom’s family and friends. Man, my phone was blowing up! I always say that if I post anything via social media with my mom involved, my “likes” grow exponentially.

My mom is a wonderful person with so many people that care about her. Even though this ended up being kind of an odd blip in her health history, it goes to show how her kindness, reliability, and sense of humor has put her high on the priority list for many people to extent where it was easier for her to do a mass email update than keeping up with all the individual messages she received.

As mentioned, I am looking forward to being creative this weekend as well as spending more time in the gym; haven’t gone since Monday. I’m also indulging my guilty pleasure of rewatching the first two seasons of Twin Peaks. When you need R&R, I believe that you feel it in every single cell of your body and I certainly do now.

I hope everyone reading takes great care of themselves and enjoys their long weekend in exactly the way that they want to!


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