Posts Tagged ‘brain game’

Grab Bag Meditation Station:


I say meditation can be found in many places; once you tune your mind to what it feels like, you can go there while singing, while walking, while refinishing a door (but that’s another story).

bird-singing walking refurbishing-entry-door

As someone who dabbled with meditation in my 30’s, then hooked into it from a whole different perspective much later, I can wholeheartedly endorse your practice and assure you that the positive effects of meditation are directly correlated to the amount of time you give to it. Perhaps a bit of a struggle at first, think of it as a mind massage that will, in due time, be available to you wherever and whenever you choose.

The internet brings free guided meditation right to you. Try some of these sites:

A Moment of Calm

Three Minute Meditation


The Chopra Center

The Art of Living

The Ocean Breath

Point of Focus

Sahaja Meditation

Here’s a brief video byte that helps to remind us why this practice is perfect.

Meditation Then and Now

Grab Bag Green Tea Update:


It has been awhile since I have espoused the many virtues of my best friend, Green Tea. In this post back in 2011, I talked about the “gift of thin” that green tea can bring, and mentioned my weed of choice, Teavana’s Gyokuro.

Recent analysis by ConsumerLab.com has confirmed that Teavana’s Gyokuro (or really any loose leaf Gyokuro) may be one of the best choices, for reason’s other than taste. If you are drinking green tea for health reasons, it’s all about the catechins derived from it. Those are the antioxidants that do such amazing things for your whole body. From the New York Times:

Another phase of the study looked at green tea in its more natural forms – loose tea leaves sold by Teavana and tea bags sold by companies like Bigelow and Lipton. A single serving of Teavana’s Gyokuro green tea, about one teaspoonful, was chock-full of antioxidants, yielding about 250 milligrams of catechins, a third of which were EGCG. It also contained 86 milligrams of caffeine, slightly less than a regular cup of coffee.

A single bag of the green tea sold by Lipton and Bigelow contained somewhat smaller amounts of antioxidants than Teavana’s green tea and generally minimal amounts of caffeine. But Teavana’s recommended serving size was large, and the tea was also far more expensive, resulting in a higher cost per serving. The report calculated that the cost to obtain 200 milligrams of EGCG ranged from 27 cents to 60 cents with the tea bags, and $2.18 with the Teavana loose tea leaves.

But the most surprising phase of the study was an analysis of the lead content in the green tea leaves. The leaves in the Lipton and Bigelow tea bags contained 1.25 to 2.5 micrograms of lead per serving. The leaves from Teavana, however, did not contain measurable amounts.

I will also share that very new studies (and there aren’t many really big, shiny studies on tea because…. well… there’s not bags of money to be made by doing them) have shown contrary advice for green tea preparation.

Traditional instructions will always say to avoid boiling water (too hot for the delicate leaves), and to use 170℉ water. They may also suggest you steep for no longer than 90 seconds.

The new study showed that maximum catechin release is achieved with boiling water, and the longer the steep the better (20 minutes was the max release tested). The taste will change and not be so delicate, but the benefits may increase. All depends on what you are drinking it for.

Grab Bag Query Quest:

It’s all in how you ask…..

The Question

Grab Bag Troop Scoop:

The Miami Dolphin Cheerleaders made a video of themselves lip-synching “Call Me, Maybe”. Some of their biggest fans were all the way over in Afghanistan, and wanted to mimic in appreciation… here are the two videos, side by side, for your enjoyment.

Call Me, Maybe

Thanks to SlimPaley.com for finding this 🙂

Grab Bag Outfit Outrage:

OK…. let me take just a few moments atop this digital soapbox to vent.

And by vent, I mean to first ask the world at large…. how do you respond when you see outrageous prices on very mediocre goods? How do you feel when you see stickers in the stratosphere for things that just don’t seem that special?

• Is it a “to each his own” shrug?

• Or perhaps a “WTF are they (the sellers) thinking?

• Conversely, it might be “WTF are they (the buyers) thinking?

For me, I get kinda perturbed with this. Actually, more than kinda. Don’t get me wrong…. I am so very appreciative of art and design in all its forms. And I’m OK with placing value on uniqueness and craftsmanship.

But when I see really mediocre… even truly bad… design priced outrageously just because they can get away with it… well…. I’m gonna call that BS.

And this issue hit me square in the eyeballs this week when I saw these pieces of clothing from Michael Kors, recently marked down (gee…. I wonder why??). The prices I quote here are the original prices for these pieces… all of which are, in my estimation, either incredibly ordinary or downright heinous, the likes of which can be seen at your local discount chain… or garage sale:




$3995… wow










$1495 (perhaps the ugliest, cheap-looking, thrift-store, expensive outfit ever)


$6995 (!!!)


$1195 (really??? How special does this red cardy look??)





So, Mr. Kors… if you’re wanting to charge caviar prices, please don’t try to spoon feed women this kind of salmon-egg schlock.


OK… I’ll step down off my cyber soap box now.

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Very cool… an auditory game for the brain. This surprised me, as I consider myself to be fairly musical… but I flopped on this… more practice for me 🙂

Music Memory

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

Someone had fun at Barnes and Noble…

Well Played

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happy mother's day animated gifs ecards photo flowers graphic art Send free Mother's Day ecards  Mother's Day greeting cards free download HD i love mon kisses happy mother's day e cards gif

Grab Bag Break Brief:

Mother, daughter, father, brother… whatever you are, if you are living on this planet,


And I mean that in the simplest of forms. A few minutes, spent in the right way, with the right intent, can lend a whole fresh perspective to the hour, the day, the life.

Here are 50 ways to get that breakPrint…. Practice…. Repeat 🙂


Grab Bag Convo Coaching Part II:

Last week we reviewed the “10 Commandments for Conversing with a Sick Friend”. As an adjunct to those commandments,  I share here clinical psychologist Susan Silk and arbitrator/mediator Barry Goldman as they offer up this great exercise to understand the “circle of grief”:

When Susan had breast cancer, we heard a lot of lame remarks, but our favorite came from one of Susan’s colleagues. She wanted, she needed, to visit Susan after the surgery, but Susan didn’t feel like having visitors, and she said so. Her colleague’s response? “This isn’t just about you.”

“It’s not?” Susan wondered. “My breast cancer is not about me? It’s about you?”

The same theme came up again when our friend Katie had a brain aneurysm. She was in intensive care for a long time and finally got out and into a step-down unit. She was no longer covered with tubes and lines and monitors, but she was still in rough shape. A friend came and saw her and then stepped into the hall with Katie’s husband, Pat. “I wasn’t prepared for this,” she told him. “I don’t know if I can handle it.”

This woman loves Katie, and she said what she did because the sight of Katie in this condition moved her so deeply. But it was the wrong thing to say. And it was wrong in the same way Susan’s colleague’s remark was wrong.

Susan has since developed a simple technique to help people avoid this mistake. It works for all kinds of crises: medical, legal, financial, romantic, even existential. She calls it the Ring Theory.

Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. For Katie’s aneurysm, that’s Katie. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. In the case of Katie’s aneurysm, that was Katie’s husband, Pat. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order. One of Susan’s patients found it useful to tape it to her refrigerator.


Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.

Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.

When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it. Don’t, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, “I’m sorry” or “This must really be hard for you” or “Can I bring you a pot roast?” Don’t say, “You should hear what happened to me” or “Here’s what I would do if I were you.” And don’t say, “This is really bringing me down.”

If you want to scream or cry or complain, if you want to tell someone how shocked you are or how icky you feel, or whine about how it reminds you of all the terrible things that have happened to you lately, that’s fine. It’s a perfectly normal response. Just do it to someone in a bigger ring.

Comfort IN, dump OUT.

There was nothing wrong with Katie’s friend saying she was not prepared for how horrible Katie looked, or even that she didn’t think she could handle it. The mistake was that she said those things to Pat. She dumped IN.

Complaining to someone in a smaller ring than yours doesn’t do either of you any good. On the other hand, being supportive to her principal caregiver may be the best thing you can do for the patient.

Most of us know this. Almost nobody would complain to the patient about how rotten she looks. Almost no one would say that looking at her makes them think of the fragility of life and their own closeness to death. In other words, we know enough not to dump into the center ring. Ring Theory merely expands that intuition and makes it more concrete: Don’t just avoid dumping into the center ring, avoid dumping into any ring smaller than your own.

Remember, you can say whatever you want if you just wait until you’re talking to someone in a larger ring than yours.

And don’t worry. You’ll get your turn in the center ring. You can count on that.

Grab Bag Safety Psych:

Complex issues deserve thoughtful answers, and biologist/activist Sandra Steingraber gives just that to Bill Moyers as he asks her, “Can you give me a few ideas of what mothers and fathers can do to protect their children in this environment?” Her answer is unsettlingly accurate.

Bill Moyers

Grab Bag Wow Moment:

Creative film work… this is what giraffes do when we’re not looking:

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 10.34.46 PMThanks to Pat M. for sending this in.

Grab Bag Gehry Getaway:

For a unique hotel stay, check out Hotel Marqués de Riscal, in Elciego, Spain. Designed by Frank Gehry, when you unpack your bags here you know you are somewhere different.

Lifted from the pages of Houzz.com (if you aren’t a free member of this amazing site, you should be), here is what they say:

Opened in 2006, Gehry’s hotel is in the medieval village of Elciego, near vineyards and historic wine cellars.

The purple and blue titanium ribbon-curl roof cuts a striking scene against the picturesque countryside.

The hotel is actually two wings connected by a suspension footbridge. Each of the 43 luxury rooms and suites has its own distinctive shape and design.

The Executive Suite overlooks some of the hotel’s stunning architecture and comes with a dining area that has modern furniture.

The rooftop lounge and wine bar have panoramic views, a fireplace and a library.

From 300 euros (about U.S.$390) per night

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Grab Bag Good Tips:

Whiten Nails

Nails can yellow over time from wearing darker polish. Here are some remedies to try:

Denture Tablets

Denture tablets whiten and brighten dentures, and denture tablets can also whiten and brighten yellow fingernails. Simply follow instructions for dissolving denture tablets in water, and soak your nails for several minutes. Repeat the process until your nails are lighter and brighter in color.

Real Lemon Juice

Lemons are good for more than making lemonade and other sweet and tangy lemon treats. Real lemon juice can help whiten and brighten yellow nails. Slice open a fresh lemon, and squeeze the juice into a shallow bowl, or use reconstituted lemon juice. Soak your nails in the lemon juice for several minutes, and repeat this treatment as often as necessary. Wash and rinse your hands after treating, and apply lotion to replenish valuable moisture.

Lemon Essential Oil

If you want to moisturize your nails and cuticles while whitening yellow fingernails, try lemon essential oil. Simply pour your favorite lemon essential oil into a shallow bowl, and soak your fingertips for several minutes. Repeat this process whenever you need to whiten, brighten, and condition your nails.

Light Buffing

Fingernails can be lightly buffed to remove light discoloration, but care should be taken when buffing. Besides removing discoloration, buffing encourages nail growth by increasing circulation. Buff in one direction, and use quality buffing materials. Too much buffing or incorrect buffing can actually weaken nails, and if nails end up breaking it won’t matter what color they are.

Whitening Toothpaste

If you get yellow nails after months of wearing dark polish, try scrubbing your nails with a nail brush and whitening toothpaste. It gets rid of the yellow color. Try it—it works pretty well, and you end up with minty fresh toes!

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Build 3,4,5 and 6 letter words from the letters given and watch your garden grow…

Garden Grow

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

More postcards from the edge of decency:

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Grab Bag Wow Moment:

Check this out… this video was edited to look like a stop-action film, with some filters added to appear as if this might be a miniature city.

For some reason I found this microcosm of human habits endearing. With that suggestion in mind, enjoy Miniature Melbourne.

Miniature Melbourne

Grab Bag Crisis Convo Coaching:

Pulled from the pages of the Wall Street Journal online, here is an article by Letty Cottin Pogrebin with an excellent set of guidelines for avoiding the most common mistakes when trying to converse with someone facing serious illness – I think I may have made some of these mistakes myself 😦 :

Hospital visit

‘A closed mouth gathers no feet.” It’s a charming axiom, but silence isn’t always an option when we’re dealing with a friend who’s sick or in despair. The natural human reaction is to feel awkward and upset in the face of illness, but unless we control those feelings and come up with an appropriate response, there’s a good chance that we’ll blurt out some cringe-worthy cliché, craven remark or blunt question that, in retrospect, we’ll regret.

Take this real-life exchange. If ever the tone deaf needed a poster child, Fred is their man.

“How’d it go?” he asked his friend, Pete, who’d just had cancer surgery.

“Great!” said Pete. “They got it all.”

“Really?” said Fred. “How do they know?”

Later, when Pete told him how demoralizing his remark had been, Fred’s excuse was, “I was nervous. I just said what popped into my head.”

We’re all nervous around illness and mortality, but whatever pops into our heads should not necessarily plop out of our mouths. Yet, in my own experience as a breast-cancer patient, and for many of the people I have interviewed, friends do make hurtful remarks. Marion Fontana, who was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years after her husband, a New York City firefighter, died in the collapse of the World Trade Center, was told that she must have really bad karma to attract so much bad luck. In another case, upon hearing a man’s leukemia diagnosis, his friend shrieked, “Wow! A girl in my office just died of that!”

You can’t make this stuff up.

If we’re not unwittingly insulting our sick friends, we’re spouting clichés like “Everything happens for a reason.” Though our intent is to comfort the patient, we also say such things to comfort ourselves and tamp down our own feelings of vulnerability. From now on, rather than sound like a Hallmark card, you might want to heed the following 10 Commandments for Conversing With a Sick Friend.

1. Rejoice at their good news. Don’t minimize their bad news. A guy tells you that the doctors got it all, say “Hallelujah!” A man with advanced bladder cancer says that he’s taking his kids to Disneyland next summer, don’t bite your lip and mutter, “We’ll see.” Tell him it’s a great idea. (What harm can it do?) Which doesn’t mean that you should slap a happy face on a friend’s grim diagnosis by saying something like, “Don’t worry! Nowadays breast cancer is like having a cold!”

The best response in any encounter with a sick friend is to say, “Tell me what I can do to make things easier for you—I really want to help.”

2. Treat your sick friends as you always did—but never forget their changed circumstance. However contradictory that may sound, I promise you can learn to live within the paradox if you keep your friend’s illness and its constraints in mind but don’t treat them as if their illness is who they are. Speak to them as you always did (tease them, kid around with them, get mad at them) but indulge their occasional blue moods or hissy-fits. Most important, start conversations about other things (sports, politics, food, movies) as soon as possible and you’ll help speed their journey from the morass of illness to the miracle of the ordinary.

3. Avoid self-referential comments. A friend with a hacking cough doesn’t need to hear, “You think that’s bad? I had double pneumonia.” Don’t tell someone with brain cancer that you know how painful it must be because you get migraines. Don’t complain about your colicky baby to the mother of a child with spina bifida. I’m not saying sick people have lost their capacity to empathize with others, just that solipsism is unhelpful and rude. The truest thing you can say to a sick or suffering friend is, “I can only try to imagine what you’re going through.”

4. Don’t assume, verify. Several friends of Michele, a Canadian writer, reacted to her cancer diagnosis with, “Well, at least you caught it early, so you’ll be all right!” In fact, she did not catch it early, and never said or hinted otherwise. So when someone said, “You caught it early,” she thought, “No, I didn’t, therefore I’m going to die.” Repeat after me: “Assume nothing.”

5. Get the facts straight before you open your mouth.Did your friend have a heart or liver transplant? Chemo or radiation? Don’t just ask, “How are you?” Ask questions specific to your friend’s health. “How’s your rotator cuff these days?” “Did the blood test show Lyme disease?” “Are your new meds working?” If you need help remembering who has shingles and who has lupus, or the date of a friend’s operation, enter a health note under the person’s name in your contacts list or stick a Post-it by the phone and update the information as needed.

6. Help your sick friend feel useful. Zero in on one of their skills and lead to it. Assuming they’re up to the task, ask a cybersmart patient to set up a Web page for you; ask a bridge or chess maven to give you pointers on the game; ask a retired teacher to guide your teenager through the college application process. In most cases, your request won’t be seen as an imposition but a vote of confidence in your friend’s talent and worth.

7. Don’t infantilize the patient. Never speak to a grown-up the way you’d talk to a child. Objectionable sentences include, “How are we today, dearie?” “That’s a good boy.” “I bet you could swallow this teeny-tiny pill if you really tried.” And the most wince-worthy, “Are we ready to go wee-wee?” Protect your friend’s dignity at all costs.

8. Think twice before giving advice.Don’t forward medical alerts, newspaper clippings or your Aunt Sadie’s cure for gout. Your idea of a health bulletin that’s useful or revelatory may mislead, upset, confuse or agitate your friend. Sick people have doctors to tell them what to do. Your job is simply to be their friend.

9. Let patients who are terminally ill set the conversational agenda.If they’re unaware that they’re dying, don’t be the one to tell them. If they know they’re at the end of life and want to talk about it, don’t contradict or interrupt them; let them vent or weep or curse the Fates. Hand them a tissue and cry with them. If they want to confide their last wish, or trust you with a long-kept secret, thank them for the honor and listen hard. Someday you’ll want to remember every word they say.

10. Don’t pressure them to practice ‘positive thinking.’ The implication is that they caused their illness in the first place by negative thinking—by feeling discouraged, depressed or not having the “right attitude.” Positive thinking can’t cure Huntington’s disease, ALS or inoperable brain cancer. Telling a terminal patient to keep up the fight isn’t just futile, it’s cruel. Insisting that they see the glass as half full may deny them the truth of what they know and the chance to tie up life’s loose ends while there’s still time. As one hospice patient put it, “All I want from my friends right now is the freedom to sulk and say goodbye.”

Though most of us feel dis-eased around disease, colloquial English proffers a sparse vocabulary for the expression of embarrassment, fear, anxiety, grief or sorrow. These 10 commandments should help you relate to your sick friends with greater empathy, warmth and grace.

Next week, we’ll explore Part II of Crisis Convo Coaching, and I’ll share a diagraming exercise that neatly suggests how to support someone while processing your own feelings at the same time.

Grab Bag Random Kindness:

If, like me, you have found yourself extracting foot from mouth, here are a few inspirations to rebalance your karma :-):
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15-random-acts-of-kindness-faith-in-humanity14 15-random-acts-of-kindness-faith-in-humanity10

Grab Bag 50 Ways to…..:

… not “leave your lover”, but Eat Healthier!

50 recipes to inspire a healthier mealtime from WhatsGabyCooking.com:

What's Gaby Cooking?

Grab Bag Brain Game:

A Japanese-inspired graphing game of deduction:



Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

Don’t shoot the messenger… I didn’t write these 🙂

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Happy 34th Anniversary to My Wonderful Husband 🙂

Grab Bag Workout Warriors:

In case you get bored in the gym:

Workout Warriors

Grab Bag Sleep Snacks:

Super foods for super sleeeeeeeeppp.


Hot cocoa at bedtime!: Chocolate contains tryptophan to make you happy and relaxed, and chocolate is, in fact, one of the richest dietary sources of magnesium, a natural sedative that can greatly improve sleep. A deficiency of magnesium can result in difficulty sleeping, constipation, muscle tremors or cramps, anxiety, irritability, and pain.


Tea time: Just pick the right tea for bedtime: Try Valerian, chamomile, sage or lemon balm.


Go nuts: Walnuts. Super high in melatonin, which offers super sleep and is an antioxidant.


Cheers! Cherry! Juice!: ½-1 cup of tart cherry juice one hour before bed has been shown to improve sleep.


Seeds of change: If you have trouble staying asleep or wake frequently throughout the night, your serotonin and melatonin levels may be out of whack. Sesame seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds all can help. Pumpkin seed powder is the new “warm glass of milk”. Try an evening snack of ¼ cup pumpkin seeds (or 2 tablespoons pumpkin powder), 1-2 tablespoons chia seeds and ¾ cup of unsweetened Greek yogurt.


Nighty Night 🙂

Grab Bag Good Tips:


Get rid of labels and sticky gunk: Equal parts veg. oil and baking soda… leave on 2-3 minutes and use your fingers to rub off.


When buying fruit and veggies, always soak them in a 1:4 ratio of vinegar and water to help remove toxins and pesticides. Leave them soaking for up to an hour, longer with nonorganic apples. At the end of the bath, sometimes you can even see cloudy like stuff in the water from the skins and waxes, and dirt on the bottom. The vinegar is KEY.


Put onions in pantyhose, and tie knots between onion. Plus it makes a freaky wall art installation 🙂


Place ethylene absorbers in your fridge. A set of 3 costs $16. These little pods absorb the ethylene emitted by fruits and vegetables to keep them fresh up to 3x longer. Here’s a handy list of ethylene-producing and ethylene-sensitive foods.

Grab Bag Inspire Me:

There’s a great website called Quora.com, where they pose all kinds of questions and the answers are shared and voted on.

Here are the top answers to the question,

“What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done that no one knows about?”


7765 votes

My ma has my kidney. 

I can never tell her. She would have never agreed. And she will regret it forever if I told her now.

She thinks it’s someone who sold it to us. And that she was so lucky to have got a “donor” within 3 months of needing it.

The amazing feeling of having done this for my ma is something I can never explain to anyone. No one knows about this – except my wife!


2802 votes

At 27, I used all my money to buy my parents a house. They didn’t know it was all my money at the time.

I sold a tech company for a small exit in 2010. Everyone was extremely proud of me, but no one knew the exact amount I made, but everyone assumed I did really well. In actuality, I only made just over a hundred thousand dollars. I purposefully hid the amount because I wanted to use all the money to buy my parents a house, and I knew that my parents would never accept me buying them a house with the money from my sale. So with no one knowing, I drained my account (after paying taxes) and bought my parents a 1-story house in Texas (where I grew up). I did this because they had been living in a small two-story house that, in recent years, could no longer accommodate my sick and increasingly wheel-chair-bound dad.

Everyone assumed I had made a large amount of money and that this was one of many things I used the money on. In reality, this was my exit and my dream gift. This gift allowed my dad to live out the remainder of his life in dignity and it brought a tremendous stabilizing force to our family life. It stands as the nicest thing I’ll likely ever do.

Since then, I’ve made more money, my dad passed away, and my mom lives in that house, now full of great memories. We look back with great joy at those last few years with my dad, and I’m glad I could make it as comfortable for him as possible.


2717 votes

One day as a young child I found $23 scattered on a field and it brought me great joy.

I’ve grown old, and I’ve never told anyone this but now when I walk past an empty playground or schoolyard I go in and take some money from my wallet and drop it on the ground.

Clare Tomlinson, Paramedic

544 votes

A few years ago one of my friends was really struggling for money, so I took her out for lunch and while we were out and about, I put £20 in her pocket so she would find it later on and think it was just money that she had forgotten about! She was one of those people that never would have asked for help and never complained about “being skint”, She never would have accepted a handout from anyone, so I thought this was the next best thing!

A few days later she told me about finding the money in her pocket and how pleased she was that she could use it for some food shopping.

To this day I have never told her where the money came from, and I never will. It was only a small amount of money (Which was all I could afford to give away at the time) but it meant a massive amount to my friend.

Lucas Mund, History teacher and trivia geek

222 votes

Just after college my wife and I were planning our wedding. Both of us did not have good jobs but had lots debt from college. We both were living at our parents’ houses until we could get enough money for the wedding and an apartment. We had a hard time even paying for gas to drive the 30 mins each way to see each other.

Then one day my mom found an envelope in her mailbox that had my wife and I’s names on it so she gave it to us. It didn’t have a stamp or address. Someone had just dropped it in her mailbox. Inside was $300 cash. No note, name or anything. That $300 went a long way for us at the time.

Now that we are on our feet, when my wife and I know someone is in need we drop $300 cash in their mailbox in a plain envelope. We have done this 3 times so far and we love it each time!

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Some language skills to practice! Good game with various types of challenges and levels.



Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

Sent to me recently:

This is a deceptively simple philosophy that I have been working on, and refining, for most of my life.  I am delighted to say that, finally, I have refined it down to its essence sufficiently to share it with a select band of friends who may appreciate its elegance and simplicity.


Thanks to Pat M. for sending this in.

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Happy Easter

Do not weep at the foot of the cross for long.

The crux of the matter is not hanging there,
cannot be hung there.

Try as you may to shut that body down
and slay its prophecies,
the living and the dead, mother and child, the best of friends,
cannot ultimately be separated by
jealousy, betrayal, cowardice, or death.

The open heart is the cross of light,
arms outstretched to bless

It matters more, is more scandalous,
than any splinter of wood
broken bones
or thorny crown.

The crux of the matter is the love of the mother,
the life of the father,
the hands of the child
extending beyond self
to the familiar and the strange.

It is the heart burst open
not by the thrust of a sword
but by the breadth of the embrace,
stretched to include all.

The heart so opened,
this spring of life beyond time
never dries.

It spills forth blood and water,
love and mercy
free and effervescent~
spreads laughter, releases prisoners,
heals the sick, and raises the dead
to life.

This heart of service, is a storehouse
of treasure.

It is the leverage for rolling away the stone,
and filling the grave with light.

Walk forth then, stride away
from this hill of broken bones,
leave behind your dread and sorrow,
and cry for joy

(From Beyond the Leaving, Gil Hedley 2011)

Grab Bag No-hop Hop to It:

A workout designed with no jumping…

No Jump Workout

Credit to Back On Pointe

Grab Bag Concussion App:


Brain bruises (concussions) have received a good deal of attention lately, due in large part to the tragic suicides of a few football players who were likely suffering devastating cognitive changes resulting from multiple concussions.

TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) account for an incredible 1.6 to 3.8 million sports injuries every year. Add to that the countless concussions occurring among U.S. soldiers, and we have a seriously large issue that needs to be addressed.

With nearly 90% of concussions going undetected, and therefore untreated, a team of scientists at Notre Dame set out to improve that statistic. Success! They have developed a tablet-based testing system that can be administered on site, according to Sciencedaily.com.

The “app” captures the voice of an individual before participating in any high-risk activity. If a suspected concussion occurs, the app captures the voice of the individual again and analyzes the speech pattern comparisons for signs of a potential concussion, immediately, in real time.

In a separate article in the NY Times, it appears the NFL will provide all 32 teams with independent  neurological consultants at each game who will be using a different app with an iPad starting this next season. That app coalesces numerous test results on balance, awareness and concentration.

Who knows what’s next… maybe our iPads “beam” us to the nearest hospital?

Grab Bag Snap-a-Day:

Today is the first day of the rest of….. your life in photos!

Shuttercal is a cool website which encourages you to snap and upload a picture every day, building a visual history of memories. What a great way to journal.

Give it  try… your descendants will love it!


Grab Bag Juggle-tease:

I think this took a bit of practice….


Thanks to Stina H. for sending this in.

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Test your memory for a series of decisions you must make and recall. A good work out!


Memory Lane

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

These plumbers have discovered the fashion strategy of diversion:


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Grab Bag Health Boosters:

These 9 tips contain a broad spectrum of really effective habits. I have added my own thoughts and suggestions on #3. Be sure to hit the full screen button in the lower right hand corner of the player.

Grab Bag Soul Searching:

Here is an AMAZING and eye-opening talk about the research behind love and happiness and connectedness. There is something here for everyone to take away. It touches on self-worth, vulnerability, and the attempts to numb our disappointments. Watch for yourself, your loved ones, and for the parenting aspect of all of us… (these principles apply to how we interact with adult children, too).

Here is how this talk is introduced on TED:

Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

Here’s a teaser on the section about parenting:

We perfect, most dangerously, our children…… They are hard-wired for struggle when they get here. When we hold these perfect babies in our hands, our job is NOT to say,  “Look at her, she’s perfect”, and make sure she makes the tennis team by 7 and Yale by 18….. Our job is to say, “You know what? You’re imperfect and wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging”. That’s our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that and we’ll end the problems we see today.

She makes such a good point. I think so many of us feel as if it is our job as parents to keep the “perfect child” that was born to us on a path of least resistance, and to optimize her perfection and save her from exposure to any faults or challenges. On the contrary… we would do well to spend less energy “smoothing the road to success” and better serve our kids by making sure they feel loved and connected and worthy in the face of their imperfections, struggles and failures.

But don’t assume this is a lesson on how to parent….. it’s a lesson on how to live:

Truly immerse yourself in this wisdom… go with the Full Screen option in the lower right corner.

Many thanks to Austin H. and Nancy H. for sharing this with me.

Grab Bag Jurassic Spark:


In the current issue of National Geographic magazine is a truly provoking article about where we stand with current science technology to resurrect extinct species.

That’s right. I said RESURRECT EXTINCT SPECIES. À la Jurrasic Park.

Kind of.

I’m not going to give away the punchline. I suggest you read

this article,

because the bottom line iswe are there. And we need to go into this with 6,973,738,433 (current pop. of the world…. did I miss anybody?)  pairs of eyes wide open.

And to quote a line from the song “The Way We Were”….

“Could we? …..Should we?”

You won’t get all the fabulous photos I’m seeing in the magazine with this online article, so I’ll give you a few substitutes here:

Mammoth 6894sabre-tooth_tiger

Grab Bag App Applause:

Did not even have time to try this app, called RePix, but the reviews are great, it’s on Apple’s “Hot” list, and it looks incredible.


Take your photos and turn them into art like this:

RePix Screenshots

Repix - Remix & Paint Photos - Sumoing Ltd

Grab Bag Sweater Better:

Thought these were so cute:

Sweater Makeover

Sweater Embellishments: Take an old sweater. Cut a slit in along the shoulder down about 7″. Fold over raw edge and sew in place. Sew a piece of ribbon about 15″ long to one side of neckline and another ribbon to the other side of the neckline. Tie together!

Lace Insets

Cut a section of a long sleeve shirt or sweater and use fabric glue to hold lace in place. Stitch the lace into place, and wash inside out, hang to dry.

Grab Bag Brian Game:

Looks like a simple kids’ game, but is a fun puzzle strategy session:


Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

978dab8e30f4fa357f0e4ffd58463bca e4754d201d3790f56adf50176e4bd881 1411e7fd94e0cec15aa19c2ba7aa7550 677128bef45c66c797006cfc37ad3ee1 d3376512079a0c2e35912a2bc2670a00 26fc7accf2c253e1a5d885e93222bea9

And this one has a HILARIOUS story behind it that is worth reading (click on the photo) … the caption to this photo reads, “Knock, Knock, mother f*****”:


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Grab Bag Gratitude Attitude:

How many times have we voiced our frustration because “my internet is so slow“? So…. your web pages are taking a few extra seconds to load sometimes, and it’s annoying, right?

Well, let’s all take a deep breath and recognize what is actually going on when we click on that link….

A Packet's Tale

Sooooo stop your wanking….

Many thanks to Pat M. for sending this in.

Grab Bag Pillow Talk:

From the super-popular blog, “One Good Thing by Jillee”, this wake up call promises a good night:


…..the more research I did, and the more I asked around, I realized that pillows that become yellow over time is a pretty common thing!

One of the most common reasons why pillows can turn yellow is sweat. Even when you’re sleeping your body continues to sweat to keep your body at a comfortable temperature. Depending on the type of fabric your pillowcase is made from, sweat can seep through the fabric. As the sweat dries, it can leave a yellow stain on the pillow. Even if you use pillow COVERS underneath your pillow CASES, the yellowing can still occur.

In the past when the yellowing got really bad, I would simply toss the pillow and buy a new one. But I hated doing that because the pillow was still perfectly good.

Recently I came across an old article from Martha Stewart Living that suggested pillows should be WASHED at least twice a year…….

Read her short tutorial on washing your pillows here, and sleep better tonight.

Grab Bag Speaking of Sleep:


I think many of us have trouble sleeping. I know I resemble that remark. I’ll admit I have read many articles, but probably only followed the advice of the things I was willing to do. Over time I am growing more serious about each suggestion, as I know they have merit.

Check this list below from the blog IQ Matrix and give these a try if your slumber is sub-par. (Learn about further sleep therapies they suggest here).

Your Sleeping Environment

The environment within which we sleep on a nightly basis is absolutely critical in the ongoing promotion of better sleeping habits and patterns. If our sleeping environment is substandard and does not fall inline with our biological needs, than it will simply interfere with our sleeping patterns and as a result we will suffer the consequences by getting inadequate amounts of quality sleep. Here are some suggestions on things you can do to enhance your sleeping environment to promote a better and a more restful night’s sleep:

Remove Clocks from View

On nights when we just can’t seem to get to sleep, what is it that we tend to do? That’s right, we stare at the clock every 10 minutes and stress every second about how tired we’ll feel the next day if we don’t fall asleep right NOW! In instances such as this, your clock is simply a liability on your time.

Firstly, remove your clock from sight.

Secondly commit yourself to the fact that you don’t need to know the time unless it is time to get out of bed. Understand that you are in control of your life, and that no clock is going to take that away from you.

Remove All EMF Fields

EMF stands for Electro-Magnetic Fields. EMFs are released by electronic appliances that are present within your sleeping environment. EMFs are known to disrupt the pineal gland and interfere with the production of melatonin and serotonin, which are essential in promoting good sleeping patterns. Either remove all electronic appliances such as televisions, stereos, and computers from your bedroom or unplug them from their power-supply.

Some sleeping doctors strongly suggest that people should pull their circuit breaker before heading-off to bed in order to kill all power in the house.

Good Ventilation

We all know what it feels like to step outside in the early hours of the morning and just breathe in that fresh crisp air. It feels so invigorating and enlivening. Well, the same principles apply at night as you are sleeping. Our bodies require good amounts of fresh air to promote a greater sense of health and well-being. By closing your windows at night you are doing your body a great deal of injustice by suffocating its oxygen supply.

If opening the window at nights isn’t an option, consider purchasing an air filter or purifier.

Darkness is Essential

If you are not sleeping in complete darkness, than you are interfering with your body’s circadian rhythm. Any small amount of light that reflects or shines into your bedroom will disrupt your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin.

When getting up at night, you should also avoid turning on the lights whenever possible. If this isn’t an option, than purchase a low volt bulb that emits as little light as possible. The less the better. You will find that by following these simple guidelines that your sleep will be more restful and sound.

As Quiet as a Mouse

Some of us have a tendency to fall asleep while watching television or listening to the radio. Even though in these instances you might have fallen asleep, it however doesn’t promote a restful type of sleep.

In order to achieve a deep and prolonged nights sleep, you must ensure that you remove all sounds and distractions from your sleeping environment. Although there are some exceptions to this rule, which we will explore a little later.

Keep Temperature at Comfortable Levels

The temperature within your sleeping environment should be at no more than 22 °C / 70 °F. Any higher than this and biologically your body will feel discomfort and this may interfere with your sleeping patterns.

Comfortable Pillow and Mattress

Since most of us spend about one third of our lives in bed, it just makes sense to purchase a good quality pillow and mattress that will support us where we need it most.

Everybody is different and requires varying levels of support. Visit a sleep specialist or chiropractor for further information about getting the right sleeping support for your body. Investing wisely here could be one of the best decisions you make.

A Sleeper’s Mindset

Those who tend to sleep soundly each and every night have developed a number of mindset strategies that promote a deeper and faster onset of sleep. Here are some suggestions that will assist you in taking control of your mind:

Control the Voice in Your Head

When we have a lot on our minds, many problems to deal with and uncertain plans for the day ahead, we can easily get lost in a river of thought that just keeps going and going, until it literally overwhelms us and sabotages our sleep. Take control of this voice by making a pact with yourself that as soon as you lie down to bed you will not think about any problems or plans that may be lingering on your mind. If you do lie down to bed and your mind just gets out of control, simply get out of bed and write your thoughts down on paper. Only once you have exhausted your thought process on paper should you venture back into bed.

Focus on Staying Awake

It’s a reverse form of psychology. Instead of tossing and turning and trying to get to sleep, simply keep your eyes open and focus on the fact that you are going to be staying awake for the rest of the night. This strategy really works as long as you don’t start thinking about other things that are on your mind. The key here is to focus only on the process of staying awake.

Visualize Tranquility and Serenity

Deep within the recesses of your mind create a quiet, serene and tranquil place where you can spend time relaxing. Whether this is somewhere on a secluded beach, in the outback or simply by a creek or mountainside; create this place in your mind and return here every night just as you are falling asleep. Absorb yourself within the beauty of this environment, experience all the nature sounds and the seclusion that you are currently experiencing from the rest of humanity. Actually take-in this place through all your senses, and just relax and bathe within the magnificence of this environment you have created.

Through the process of just relaxing within this environment you will discover that your body will find the peace and tranquility necessary to slip into a deep and restful nights sleep.

Get Out of Bed if Unable to Sleep

Yes, literally get out of bed if you are unable to fall asleep within the first 20 to 25 minutes. When you do get out of bed make sure to do something mellow that doesn’t stimulate your brain to a significant degree. Reading a book or simply undertaking a boring task or activity that doesn’t require much movement or thought, will tend to paralyze your brain back into sleeper’s state.

Grab Bag Great Morning:

This will give you something to look forward to.

I rarely include recipes, so trust me, this one is great. Thanks to Michelin-starred chef Daniel Angerer:

Quinoa Porridge

Quinoa Breakfast Porridge

Serves 4:

4 Cups water

2 Cups quinoa

2 pinches sea salt

2 Tbsp. maple syrup (I use less… adjust to your desire)

1/2 Cup almond milk

1 TASTY apples

2 Tbsp. toasted coconut shavings (I am NOT a coconut fan, but it’s great here)

2-3 Tbsp. sliced or chopped toasted almonds


In a 1-gallon pot, bring water and salt to boil. Add quinoa, cover the pot with a lid and cook quinoa on a low heat for 20 minutes.

Cut the apple into small wedges, then slice 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.

Warm the almond milk.

Combine quinoa with apple bits, maple syrup and almond milk and fluff lightly with a fork.

Serve in bowls and sprinkle with toasted coconut and almonds.

Options: Cinnamon is a good addition. Preparing a day before, and serving chilled is apparently very tasty, too.

Grab Bag Wow Moments:

A “Best of”, reportedly from the folks at National Geographic…. amazing shots. Be sure to hit the “full screen” icon in the lower right corner (hit “escape” to return to your normal screen view).

Grab Bag Brain Game:

This is a fun twist on the old game of Concentration:

Welcome to Flip Out! The object of this game is to match the tiles in each level based on the themes provided at the bottom of the screen. Try to complete as many levels as you can, before times runs out, for a high score. Good luck!

Flip Out

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

dd768e1516f93d91526de8fdd156dfce a2a2f9f68ca618944c285278ac5c3073 02dee02bacc2f56bce0482b63e50fbaa 92990f926a21f8b6224ce8c79a50eecb 284479a4d0d38d5a78e52ec89906e9c3 beb2394e309107d3b26ff5ea0fc4729c sc00254d2b d23d791abf78cd0fcacaef65e520029d 3b2d88f2b3ca00f9c321ac0547ee8685 ad0e5fccad0a73daacfcd181df19d78c Slug Trap

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