All the Things

I don’t know whether I should apologize, explain my absence or dive right into this messy, stream of consciousness blog entry. Nothing new is happening but so many little things have brought joy to my life.

I had a great week at the Bizzy Hizzy. I spent most of my week in QC, and I hit 80% of the daily production metric except for one day when I hit 90 percent. But I just can’t seem to replicate that success. Last night I was in receiving inbound processing where I unboxed and received a pallet which included Democracy Jeans and Market and Spruce shirts. I caught a mix-up in tags. And I met a young man whose name is an abbreviated form of Jesus’ Angel because he was born three months premature as I was.

A few nights ago, I was listening to a podcast, probably Mayim Bailik’s Breakdown. They were discussing the ACE Childhood Trauma Test. So I took it. That was a mistake. It made me think about a lot of things— my past, my mental health, my relationships. I didn’t expect the results and I suppose in a way it was profound.

But as much as life may have had some dark spots, the foster cats sure bring joy. Hermes of the Greek Pride is already starting to bound with his new dad. (And even broke something expensive.) Louise the Tripod had a meet and greet with someone interested in adding a new cat to their household. And Parker and Extra Crunchy of ten little kittens are now playing and acting cat-like. Even Touch of Grey seems cheerful.

Evening with Louise

Videos:

Parker and Extra Crunchy

Touch of Grey

I picked up my new glasses, replacing my previous pair. I have abandoned my sexy librarian look and regained depth perception.

New glasses

On another podcast, I heard a host discuss someone who wrote a memoir from her 20 journals. What a joke! He said 20 as if that number is impressive. I have been journaling for 30 years! I lost count after 100 volumes.

Speaking of journals, I splurged on a Silk and Sonder self-care planner/journal. It’s a monthly subscription and I am already anxious that it will stress me out. My regular journal is more or less a bullet journal now. I think another book that requires a daily check in might not be worth the pressure. And it’s $20/month. That seems expensive. More to come. Including unboxing and review.

Speaking of unboxing, I bought myself a Lite Brite in a moment of nostalgia. #NoRegrets

Video: Unboxing my Lite Brite

The copyrights for my novels so as soon as they return from the proofreader we can start production and get Parisian Phoenix off the ground. Expect my novels hopefully this summer!

And if you miss my Goffin’s cockatoo Naughty Nala, she was in a mood today! Video: Nala steals my underwear

My neighbor let me know I appeared in Lisa Boscola’s newsletter for my role in delivering her public service award given by ASPIRE to Autonomy.

And last in a long line of rambling, I reviewed the Dunkin Double Coconut Macchiato: Video Here

Why I Aspire

It’s been an exciting week for Aspire to Autonomy, Inc., and an even more exciting Friday night!

As early as Monday, the communications team at Aspire will be sending out a press release talking about all of this excitement. If you are reading this, you are getting a taste of what the media will learn Monday.

On Monday, our new team of 6+ social work interns from the graduate programs of Kutztown and Marywood universities started work with Aspire. So it’s great to have new people with new energy and new voices.

In the middle of the week, as Darnell and I were trying to put the finishing touches on the organization’s 2019-2020 Annual Report, Amber let us know that Northampton County had approved Aspire’s grant application for more than $8,000 to provide masks and hand sanitizer to the underserved and unsheltered.

Today, Aspire learned that Just Born has awarded the Community Intervention Service pilot program a $2,500 grant.

On top of all of this, Aspire had the opportunity to host a hot meal distribution of quality vegetarian Indian food from Aman’s Artisanal Indian Cuisine on Northampton Street in downtown Easton.

Aman’s worked with Lehigh Valley Sikhs to pay for and prepare these generous meals that Aspire distributed to the elderly, disabled and other underserved individuals identified as part of the Communities Impacting Communities program, primarily in West Ward, Easton, but also in Wilson borough.

Bulk meal distributions happened at Third Street Alliance for Women and Children and other Lehigh Valley non-profits. I helped distribute some meals at Third Street, with teenager in tow, and delivered others to families in my own neighborhood who I know have been furloughed since the beginning of the pandemic.

As I was leaving, Darnell gave me one of the single person bags to give to my blind, senior citizen friend, Nan.

I hadn’t even thought about her— her fixed income, her disability, her reliance on friends for what she needs, and her age. To me, she’s just my good friend and partner in crime. I was touched that Darnell remembered Nan and wanted the outreach to help her too.

This is why I Aspire—the Lehigh Valley is one of the most populated regions in the state. Its transportation infrastructure makes every other region of the country super accessible. It has proximity to New York City, Philadelphia and the New Jersey shipping ports.

Human trafficking happens here and it may not look like what you expect it to look like.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery.

Aspire to Autonomy wants to find trafficking victims and give them the tools and support they need to rebuild an independent life. But they are forward-thinking and broad-reaching and grassroots in their vision.

They celebrated their second anniversary in July and they are gaining momentum every day.

Their anti-trafficking vision also helps strengthen our communities and forges partnerships and connections that hopefully will improve life for every underserved citizen. Because traffickers prey on the vulnerable, and if we strengthen our bonds in our neighborhoods, traffickers won’t have a place to hide. Or a place to hunt.

This is Why I Aspire. Anti-trafficking may sound like a niche, but helping our neighbors is not.

So, as I wrote this, Nan finished her first meal of the goodies from Aman’s that I brought her. As a blind person, she couldn’t quite recall what everything was but she offered strong reviews of the deliciousness.

She had some of the “cross between vegetable soup and vegetarian chili” (lentil and black bean curry) and loved the “cucumber salad” (cucumber salad with chick peas) and had to dip a spoon in the “fruity pudding” (sweet pudding). She reports that the individual bag is at least two meals, but the cucumber salad probably won’t last the night.

She confirmed that she has never had Indian food before and that she is now a fan.

And she asked me—after making me promise to thank Darnell, “is it okay to have Indian food for breakfast?”

Aspire featured on Lehigh Valley with Love

I’m very excited to announce that my dear friend and colleague, Darnell Davis, from Aspire to Autonomy, Inc., “appeared” on George Wacker’s Lehigh Valley with Love.

Episode 113: Lehigh Valley with Love Podcast

George and I worked together at Lehigh Valley News Group in 2006, when he served as editor of the E… oh dear me I am old and senile… I know it was East Penn/Emmaus area, but I can’t remember what the newspaper’s name was… East Penn News sounds right because each paper was named after the school district and it’s the East Penn School District and Emmaus High School.

Sorry to babble like that but it was almost 15 years ago. My teenager was younger than his daughter is now.

I served as managing editor when those papers launched and George always had a certainty creativity and a penchant for thinking outside the box. We had a weekly entertainment column shared by all six of our papers and if I remember correctly George pitched most of our concepts.

So I was not surprised when George developed his own media company and that he’s scooped the main media outlets in town and created some phenomena— google “Lehigh Valley Snow Camel” and know that George broke that story.

Now, like George, Darnell has a big creative energy, vivacious speech, and will not shy away from what needs to be said.

So I wanted to get these two together. And George put a call out for potential guests on his podcast.

Today George shared with me the link for that final podcast. And I’ve very excited to share it. The content may get heavy at times but these guys kept the conversation going in a natural organic manner.

They reference some of the Valley’s food— I won’t spoil it here. But when it comes to cheesesteaks I vote for Joe’s Steak Shop in Phillipsburg and hot dogs would have to be from outside the Lehigh Valley and go with Hot Dog Johnny’s in Belvidere, N.J. A few years ago it would have had to be Charlie’s Pool Room in Alpha, N.J.

Public relations and mini adventures

The last two days I have been hectic busy. But, yesterday, despite my activities and the sporadic heavy rain, I still walked about 9,400 steps.

Go, me!

Oz the Regal (random cat photo)

I started my day with a video chat with my fellow volunteers at Aspire to Autonomy, Inc. This anti-human trafficking organization helps connect underserved populations with services, while educating about human trafficking and looking for trafficking victims. It then helps victims rebuild their lives and get whatever help they need to reach autonomy.

They are also currently hosting monthly “Feed Northampton County” pandemic response food distributions at the Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley and in the West Ward of Easton. Using a pop-up food pantry model, Aspire and their network of ambassadors distribute food, masks and hand sanitizer.

The organization works with interns from Kutztown University’s Master’s of Social Work program. Currently I am working closely with Sarah, who has embraced the idea of learning more about public relations and how it can benefit her in promoting her future activities in her career.

Sarah and I were scheduled to have a video chat to strategize pitching the press release she had written the day before on a training session she and two other interns—Kayla and Sam—are facilitating next week on Pennsylvania’s Act 197. (More on that in a few paragraphs.)

Kayla and organization co-founder Darnell (and my supervisor) joined us to catch up on the list of activities we have going on right now.

I left the meeting energized and started pitching to my end of the media list, while Sarah handled the others. This morning, we noticed that The Valley Ledger had already posted our material. Thank you to them!

To read more about our upcoming training (please come!), click here: Act 197 training .

I hopped from there to a meeting for the fundraising committee of Mary Meuser Memorial Library. We had to cancel our annual book fair, due to Covid-19, and met to discuss future possibilities for fundraising. I floated what I felt was a good idea to use key space in the library (and facing a major thoroughfare) to promote local businesses. The committee like the idea and I am to prepare a proposal.

And the teenager made arrangements with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab (FURR) to get our kittens fixed next week.

Fog, my office companion

The rest of the afternoon is a blur. But I know I helped with some correspondence for Aspire and pursued some networking opportunities on behalf of the group. I also asked my peers at the organization about an idea I had to promote the enforcement of Act 197 via a social media campaign.

Last night, I visited with my neighbors, watched Golden Girls with the teenager, went for a walk with “my other half,” Buddy’s mom who lives in the other side of my house, cuddled with my cockatoo and watched Indian Matchmaking on Netflix.

This morning somehow I slept until 8:30. And my email alerted me that it was National Drive Thru Day. I wrote a corporate sponsorship letter for Aspire and submitted it to the founders for review. Then, the teenager borrowed Buddy and we went to gather up cheap eats at the drive thru.

First I stopped at Dunkin as I still have more than $30 on my Dunkin gift card. They were offering 100 points on any purchase. I cashed in the free beverage I had on my card and bought the teenager hash browns. Then we stopped at McDonald’s as they were offering a free medium fry with any $1 purchase.

I bought her a $1 large Diet Coke and they kept offering me a $1 McChicken. The teenager told me to get it, so I did, but I had them make one without mayo and with lots of pickles.

There is still much work to be done in coming days as Aspire has several major happenings next week, but it’s exciting that between Aspire and the library board I have the opportunity to freely share my ideas and work to move both agencies forward.

Friday Adventure: Slateford Creek Falls

One of the women I went to school with took her kids to Slateford Creek Falls, a place about 5-6 miles from my childhood home. I have never been there. Her pictures left me captivated.

How could something so beautiful exist so close to my former home?

Gayle joined the teenager and I for a morning walk. We did a little web research— apparently not enough.

Gayle drove and I took her on a scenic detour to my childhood home between Tuscarora Inn and Driftstone Campground in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

We arrived at the main parking lot on National Park Drive in one of the first parks that make up Delaware Water Gap.

And we knew from our research that the falls weren’t by the main parking lot but we decided to follow the main trail anyway. Maybe we thought the falls would move just for us.

We were rewarded for our adventurous spirit by seeing two very large woodpeckers with vivid red heads.

Arrow Island Trail Head

Someone gave us helpful directions that the falls were across the street and by the “pull off” between the guard rails. I remembered seeing the pull off on the way in, and I was sure it wasn’t that far.

I was wrong. We followed the road, on foot, down the steep, windy road. And we almost made it, but we weren’t sure how far it was and wasn’t sure we could walk to the falls AND make it up the hill.

Gayle offered to get the car, which didn’t make much sense because Gayle doesn’t do well on hills. Her knees have aged faster than she has.

The teenager volunteered me to go get the car. I asked if she was coming too— she said no, that I would only slow her down. Apparently, the now-16-year-old can’t keep up with me on hills. And I have cerebral palsy!

So I hauled my butt up that hill, huffing and puffing. Gayle and The Teenager almost made it, too!

I didn’t move Gayle’s seat so I was sitting on the edge barely reaching the pedals and then I couldn’t get the doors to unlock but Gayle took over and saved the day.

And when we found the trail, it was intimidatingly vertical. I’ll let Gayle’s blog entry cover the specifics of the trail:

Click here for Gayle’s blog entry .

My Photos

The teenager got to play in the falls, and Gayle and I didn’t end up on the wrong side of gravity although Gayle did bump her head on that tree.

It occurred to me— as the teenager and I gathered slate for future spiritual purposes, climbed among the rocks and fallen trees in the middle of the creek, and enjoyed the peace of the rumbling water—that this moment was full of freedom, nature and life giving resources.

The stats on this hike weren’t accurately counted. The teen got 4 miles, I got 2.5 and Gayle’s numbers were different from those. I got credit for 3 flights of stairs, Gayle got 14.

And perhaps it was no coincidence that I had received notice that I am losing my job with the full moon and “Independence Day” approaching.

With this in mind, I arrived home in time to meet up with our favorite little dog, Sobaka, who is hanging out with us while her “mom” is at a picnic.

Sobaka laid at my feet while I did some public relations work for upcoming events hosted by Aspire to Autonomy, Inc.

I am constantly blessed to work with such a wide range of people with different outlooks and different strengths. I learn something from everyone of them— admiring one person’s brilliance, another’s kind heart, and yet another’s passion and willingness for boots-on-the-ground work.

It’s a lot to think about.

Maybe I’ll get out my tarot cards tomorrow.