Keeping Busy at Home During a Pandemic #WATWB

We Are the World BlogFest (#WATWB) celebrates special people and small stories of inspiration and hope in the world. Let’s face it, we need some inspiration and hope during this time of pandemic and social distancing. I am now officially in lock-down with my children here in the UK, since all the schools closed last week, and we don’t know when they will reopen. We are prepared for this to last until September, but for now we estimate twelve weeks, in the hopes that we might resume at least the tail-end of school summer term. In just a few days my elder daughter (aged 9) has discovered the joy of video calling and has managed to speak with some friends from school. Our dance teacher is planning to run online classes using video technology, which will hopefully keep up some of a sense of routine. And our local Girlguiding coordinator for Rainbows (girls aged 5-7) is posting regular videos in our private Facebook group, offering activities that the children can do at home.

#WATWB We are the World Blogfest black

My town has organised a Covid-19 support group and already has a wide network of volunteers enabled that can deliver food and medicines to vulnerable people in the community. I haven’t volunteered for this, but I have made it known that I can help friends, neighbours and family where necessary. For now I am at home mostly alone with the children and a high-maintenance dog, so all my energy is focused on them. Our dog is a rescue, and he’s only been with us for four months. His current trick is to escape from the garden at every available opportunity, so we have spent a fortune reinforcing the fences and we watch him closely. He is now known as “Houdini-dog!” I plan to try and post amusing and uplifting blog posts in the coming weeks, my small attempt at lightening the mood during these uncertain times. Stay safe, my friends, and keep your distance!

Keeping Busy at Home During a Pandemic #WATWB

We are the World BlogFest (#WATWB) focuses on positive stories no matter where they’re found. It is all about spreading peace and humanity on social media. All participants post on the last Friday of the month, sharing a positive news story that contributes to making our world a happier, safer, and better place to live.

Here are your hosts this month:

Sylvia McGrath,
Damyanti Biswas,
Dan Antion,
Shilpa Garg,
and Belinda Witzenhausen

We are the World Blogfest #WATWB

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A Tarot Reading for Difficult Times

Today I asked the Tarot for guidance on a very personal matter. My emotions are running wild following the death of my grandad and the outbreak of coronavirus here in the UK. My grandad died on the same day that our pandemic officially took hold, so it has been a strange month as we waited for his funeral and watched the news on world events. Now I am home alone with two children for at least the next twelve weeks, possibly longer, with no possibility of a break.

A Tarot Reading for Difficult Times

To say I feel highly stressed is an understatement, despite my connection to reiki source energy. I randomly opened my Tarot notebook and focused on the “Foot in Mouth” spread. Here is what the Inner Child (Fairy Tale) Tarot had to say on the matter:

Inner Child Tarot Card Reading

1, Why did I say that?

Three of Hearts – Because it needed to be said. You have a solid network of friends to support you, and they remind you to be joyful in the face of despair. Remember your true self and your connection to a higher source. You are making a change that is needed. You are worth far more than what you currently accept.

2, What positives can come from it?

Little Red Cap (The Fool) – Your spirit is strong, and you are ready for adventure. Life has thrown a few obstacles into your path, and you might have strayed from your spiritual self. Now you may return, having learned to fail and succeed along the way. Your mistakes are lessons learned, nothing more and nothing less. Be proud of your efforts and appreciate what you have achieved.

3, What negatives can come from it?

Three of Wands – Why should you expect negatives? Your life has been a series of disappointments for a long time, and you deserve something better. Rejoice in the company of your divine female guides and welcome a joyful new adventure.

4, How should I proceed now?

Six of Hearts – You have already begun the healing process. All you should do now is welcome deep inner healing using the tools at your disposal. Resolve the hurt that you have harboured for so long. Release it. You are free to move on and find happiness in your life. You deserve peace.

Tarot Reading for Difficult Times

There we go. I am in a whirlwind of chaos, trying to comfort my daughters as they make sense of a world that just got a heck of a lot smaller without warning. They see TV adverts warning about the dangers of coronavirus, and yet their daddy still goes off to work in his key worker role and we don’t see him all day. It is just me, my girls, and our dog. We will get along just fine and so will you. Let’s all take some time to heal while we are in lock-down during the pandemic. Blessed Be.

Witchy Wednesday SpookyMrsGreen

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Phew, what a Crazy Week! #StayHomeSaveLives  

Wow. Our world has come crashing down around us in the space of seven days. Just over a week ago I went out for a meal in Manchester with my husband. At the time we were not sure we should go, but it was to honour a friend who died earlier this year, and we wanted to pay our respects. We knew that was our last night out for a while. We saw my brother at home on his birthday and he was subdued. Our conversation was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic as we shared advice we had heard from various sources and tried to decide what news was trustworthy. And then came Monday.

It began with the announcement from school that our Year 4 concert had been cancelled. They had rehearsed for this since last September and it was a big event hosted by the Love Music Trust. A neighbouring school had closed due to a suspected case of Covid-19, and they should have attended this concert with our school and a few others. My daughter was very upset, but our school managed to host a small version of the concert in their main hall, so I still got to watch her perform. And then came Tuesday. My Grandad’s funeral. He died on 5th March, which apparently was the day when Covid-19 really took hold in the UK. It had passed me in a blur as I grieved with my family. We decided to proceed with the funeral, but we all kept a safe distance from our Nan and my Mum, who are now in self-isolation.

Phew, what a Crazy Week! #StayHomeSaveLives

Tuesday was also the day when our school swimming lessons were cancelled, and we heard that the planned Year 4 Residential in Wales was cancelled. They were supposed to go on 1st April. Yet another disappointment for our children, who had been preparing for the trip and planning their activities. After that I knew it was only a matter of time, and sure enough we heard the announcement that schools were closing. In just a few days my whole life changed dramatically. I no longer have to do the school run, but now I have to be Teacher to a 6-year-old and a 9-year-old. We have no more dance classes, no more Girlguiding groups, no more daily walks by the canal with my dog. My children simply refuse to walk that far!

Now we are preparing to start up a new life for the foreseeable future. We are lucky that I was already working from home as a freelancer, so my work pattern won’t be disrupted too badly. My husband is a key worker, so his life and routine remains the same. We are also lucky to have a comfortable family home with a large front and back garden, so we can have fresh air and exercise without leaving home if we need to. There is also a convenience store and pharmacy just a few hundred yards up the road, so we really don’t have to go too far for essential items. I just hope that people as a whole will stop panic buying and that the supermarkets will quieten down. I am feeling anxious about going shopping for food for my family, and I am a healthy person. I really do not want to get this virus or pass it on to my children. Let’s hope people listen to the guidance from government and stay at home. We can do this.

Mummy Mondays SpookyMrsGreen

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Coronavirus and Me

Wow, what a strange week we are experiencing! Coronavirus has hit the UK, and everyone is veering between panic and ignorance. My children are still in school, but all of their extra-curricular clubs are cancelled until further notice. We have no more swimming lessons, no more Girlguiding groups, and the planned school residential trip is off. Our plans for an Easter party are cancelled, and now I’m wondering how long before the school has to close completely? And yet, life carries on as normal. Last weekend my husband and I went out in Manchester (and yes, we do feel mildly ashamed). It was a pre-planned meal in memory of a friend who died just after Christmas, and since we missed his funeral, we felt it was only right to honour his memory at his favourite student restaurant. The city was a lot quieter than usual, but people were determined to carry on with their lives as normal.

Coronavirus and Me SpookyMrsGreen

Then there was my Grandad’s funeral yesterday. This was a very strange day. He has been ill for many years, and we didn’t expect him to live past Christmas since he was in and out of hospital. He was a Navy veteran, and I believe that his body had been trained to endure hardship, which is why it took him so long to leave us when his time came. Anyway, we were not going to miss attending his funeral, and mine and my husband’s health is good, so we attended. Besides, if my children are in school, my life has to carry on as normal, doesn’t it? And my husband cannot shut down the waste treatment site that he manages because that has knock-on effects to public health. The crematorium staff advised us not to stand too close to each other, and we were asked not to hug, shake hands or touch other people wherever possible. My Nan practically had a bubble around her, and my Mum is high-risk due to health complications, so my siblings and I took extra care to shield her where we could. We did attend the planned wake in a local pub, but the staff in there looked very uncomfortable. It was a nice send-off, but a weird one due to the underlying worry about coronavirus. Let’s see where the next week or so takes us…

How is your life impacted (or not) by current events?

Coronavirus and Me

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What Am I Doing Here?

I joined the social network for A Chronic Voice because I needed to find people who understand what life is like with chronic pain. Today I have written a post using the March link-up prompts, to show my experience of living with a chronic pain disorder. Click here to find other blog posts from fellow chronic pain sufferers, or #spoonies as we call ourselves online.

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Staying

Life is pretty boring right now. My daily routine revolves around the school run and caring for my family, alongside whatever part-time jobs I can fit in. I wanted to book a vacation for me and my children during the Easter school holiday, but now it looks like we are staying put due to restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic. I would usually send them to my mum’s house for a few days, and I probably will do, unless anything changes during the next few weeks. My mum has a chronic health condition and low immune system, so if coronavirus comes close to my town, I will have to stay away from Mum until I feel it is safe to see her again. It is all very unsettling, and yet for now our boring life is probably the best thing for all of us.

Doing

Despite my life being boring, I have been doing quite a lot during the past month. I took big steps in our home improvement project (well, my home improvement project – my husband refuses to get involved). It took me around four months to strip away the old anaglypta wallpaper that covered our lounge/dining room, and the floral anaglypta wallpaper in our hallway. I still have to finish stripping the hallway and move up to the landing, but I simply don’t have time for all of it. I did get tradesmen in to plaster over the holes that were left from our rewiring and central heating job eighteen months ago, and I feel a huge sense of accomplishment just for having this seemingly small job completed. Now I can seriously consider doing some decorating and putting my personality into our living room. Exciting times!

What Am I Doing Here_

Being

I am a busy human being, what with family demands, home improvement projects, a large garden to maintain, a rescue dog to train and settle, and my freelance writing work. I like to be busy, but I also recognise when it is time to settle down and be quiet. My reiki practice is what keeps me sane when the world overwhelms me. It is very hard living with a spouse that has severe mental health challenges but refuses to seek medical help. It is very hard feeling like a single parent because of these mental health challenges. Sometimes all I can do is be a human being, which means screaming and shouting to vent my frustration, or meditating to bring in some reiki self-healing energy and regain control of my frazzled mind and body.

Targeting

So, what is the next item on my target list? This week it is a rather sad one: attending my grandad’s funeral. My family has been through huge challenges for the past year, with my Nan, my Mum and my aunts caring for both my uncle and my grandad as their health declined and they finally succumbed, one to cancer, one to old age. My target here is to hold it together and be strong for my family. There has been all sorts of drama and tension, which is to be expected after such stressful times. We are all targeting a better quality of life going forward, where we can grieve quietly and move on with our own plans and activities.

Weighing

My mind is heavy with lots of deep thoughts. Due to the way my life has been recently, and the fact that I feel underappreciated and taken for-granted, I am weighing up my options for how to improve my mood. Some days it feels like I want to run away and start afresh, but I know that is not the answer. Some days I feel thankful for my place in my safe, little life. Other days I want something bigger and more spectacular, but I don’t know what that is. Ultimately whatever life choices I make will impact on my daughters, and so I will weigh up all possibilities before I reach a considered and sensible solution.

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Mother’s Day Gifts and Hampers

I do enjoy Twinings Tea, and here is a selection of wonderful gifts and hampers for the deserving Mother on Mother’s Day… hint, hint!

*10% off for new customers at Twinings – NEW10Click here*

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MUM’S ULTIMATE TREAT HAMPER

Spoil someone special with this Ultimate Treat Hamper. They deserve it!

The Ultimate Treat Hamper includes:

Discovery Collection – London Strand Earl Grey 15 Pyramids

Discovery Collection – Golden Tipped English Breakfast 15 Pyramids

Cartwright & Butler Lemon & Dark Chocolate Viennese Whirls in Tin

Tokyo Design Studio Star Wave Mug Light Purple

18″ Pewter Wicker Hamper

Price: £40 – Click here

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MUM’S BEST START TO THE DAY GIFT BOX

Start the day the right way with our English Strong Breakfast Gift Box.

This gift box includes:

English Strong Breakfast – 80 Tea Bags

Cartwright & Butler Fine Cut English Breakfast Marmalade

Cartwright & Butler Chocolate Oat Crumbles

The English Tableware Company Bee Happy Mug – Green

Twinings Tea Tidy

Twinings Large Black Gift Box

Price: £22 – Click here

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BEE HAPPY HAMPER

Brighten every day with this delightful hamper which includes The English Tableware Company’s “Bee Happy” range, paired with our tasty teas.

This hamper includes:

Everyday – 50 Tea Bags

English Breakfast – 50 Tea Bags

Lady Grey – 50 Tea Bags

Assam – 40 Tea Bags

The English Tableware Company Bee Happy Teapot

The English Tableware Company Bee Happy Mug – Yellow

The English Tableware Company Bee Happy Mug – Cream

The English Tableware Company Bee Happy Sugar Pot

The English Tableware Company Bee Happy Milk Jug

The English Tableware Company Bee Happy Teabag Tidy

20″ Wicker Hamper

Price: £65 – Click here

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TWININGS BREAKFAST TRAY GIFT SET

This breakfast tray gift set makes an ideal gift for the tea loving couple. Complete with two porcelain mugs and packs of our bestselling, award winning Earl Grey and English Strong Breakfast. All wrapped up in a lovely Twinings wooden branded tray ready for you to serve. All you that’s needed to enjoy this gift set is a big comfy sofa and perhaps a biscuit or two.

The Breakfast Tray Gift Set contains:

Wooden Tea Tray

Two Porcelain Mugs

A Pack of 4 Earl Grey Teabags

A Pack of 4 English Strong Breakfast Teabags

Price: £20 – Click here

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MUM’S FAVOURITE TEA SELECTION GIFT BAG

Mum’s sure to find her favourite with our Favourite Tea Selection Gift Bag.

This gift bag includes:

English Breakfast – 50 Tea Bags

Lady Grey – 50 Tea Bags

Earl Grey – 50 Tea Bags

Twinings Tea Tidy

Cartwright & Butler Lemon Zest Shortbread Rounds

Twinings White & Gold Gift Bag

Price: £14 – Click here

1-Mums-Favourite-Tea-Selection-Gift-Bag

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Strong Women and Death Midwifery

This week began with International Women’s Day, which passed quietly in my family because we are recovering from a very traumatic time. Late last year my uncle deteriorated and finally lost his battle with brain cancer. The whole family managed to visit him both in the hospital and the hospice where he spent his last days. At around the same time our grandad (and my uncle’s dad) began to fade away. He was in and out of hospital, and with each visit we thought it was his last. He was a military man, however, and I believe that he had trained his body to withstand the worst kind of strain, which explains why he finally passed away last week, almost four months since he began the decline towards death.

Strong Women and Death Midwifery

Image Credit: Hannah McLane

Today I want to celebrate the strong women in my family (myself included), who have helped support each other and those people who died. I learned about death midwifery from books, although I can’t tell you where exactly I found the phrase. It basically means supporting someone as they die, much the same as midwives in hospital support mothers as they bring new life into the world. I think in Western society we have forgotten how to celebrate older people, and when they become frail and ill, we leave them in the care of health professionals and tell ourselves that’s the best we can do. Not my family. My Nan has nursed Grandad for over ten years, and they were together for 66 years. She was devoted to him, even though they frequently argued. Their love for each other was clearly obvious, no matter what trivial incidents might put them at odds. The past four months or so have been exhausting for my Nan, and for my mum and my aunts. My cousins also helped with the passing of our uncle and our grandad, as did our other uncle (by marriage). We are a big family!

Strong Women and Death Midwifery (1)

Image Credit:  NEJ Photography

Watching my family members nursing the dying and the elderly has touched me in ways that I cannot explain. All those strong women (and men, not forgetting our uncle and male cousins) are brilliant for the unrecognised work that they do for family and beyond. My Nan refused to send grandad to a care home in his final months because she was determined to be with him to the bitter end. Perhaps she pushed herself too far, but I know that she is proud and satisfied that she did her job as wife and mother. Now she can grieve for her lost son and her husband, and we can all come to terms with a new family dynamic. It is not easy to care for a dying person. There are the practical elements of physical care, assisting with personal hygiene and feeding, administering medicine, and then there are the emotional and mental implications. I won’t give the gory details out of respect for my family, but they all worked very hard to ensure that Grandad and Uncle Bill were not alone when they finally passed away. And I am very thankful that they were able to do that.

Church Yard @SpookyMrsGreen

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Top Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

At English Heritage Shop we have a range of New Arrivals for you to enjoy, including some delightful gift ideas for Mother’s Day. With gifts for the home, souvenirs, historical inspired trinkets, jewellery and much more, you’re sure to find something for everyone. Don’t forget you can also get up to 15% off with our voucher codes. See full details of the codes below. All codes expire 5th April 2020. Codes exclude Sale, Barbour range, Outdoor Play/Fun Lines and Gift of Membership.

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10% off orders over £30 with code ‘AFF310’

12% off orders over £45 with code ‘AFF412’

15% off orders over £50 with code ‘AFF515’

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Deco Fan Drop Earrings

Add some Art Deco glamour into your outfit with these fan drop earrings. Crafted from Sterling silver, the earrings feature a fan shaped pendant that takes inspiration from the shapes and textures of the Art Deco movement.

Our Price £50.00 – Click here

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Alice Scott Set Of 2 Slim A5 Notebooks

Use these Alice Scott A5 notebooks to jot down ideas and lists while on the go. The black and white striped book features the words ‘Never-ending notes and lists’ and the other is patterned with a tropical tree print and has the words ‘Dangerously good ideas’ printed on the cover.

Our Price £12.00 – Click here

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Sara Miller Hand Cream Collection Gift Set

Keep your hands hydrated at all times with this Sara Miller Hand Cream Set. Including 6 mini bottles of hand cream, you can carry them on your day to day endeavours, so you are never left with dry hands. Each bottle is decorated with different tropical creatures, from zebras to flamingos. Why not give this set as a gift to someone that loves all things nature?

Our Price £30.00 – Click here

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Acorns and Foliage Wood Carving

This highly detailed carving makes a great display piece for the home. The design features intricately carved leaves, branches and acorns, taking inspiration from wood carvings found in churches and cathedrals from the medieval period. It has a hanging fixture on the back, making it easy to attach to a wall, shelf or mantelpiece.

Our Price £20.00 – Click here

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Deco Hexagon Mirror

Add some modern, Art Deco style into your home with this black hexagon mirror. The minimalistic mirror has metal edging and a decorative chain for hanging. Why not give this mirror as a gift to someone who is passionate about home décor?

Our Price £18.00 – Click here

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Large Handmade Chessboard with Case

Challenge your opponent to a luxurious game of chess with this handmade chess board. It is hand crafted from walnut veneer and synthetic mother of pearl, to create a true collector’s piece that will also look great on display in the home.

Our Price £565.00 – Click here

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Drinking Horn with Stand

Enjoy your favourite beverage in this drinking horn. The extravagant drinking vessel comes with its own stand, perfect for display. It is crafted from cow horn using traditional methods of manufacture that have remained largely unchanged for more than 250 years.

Our Price £36.00 – Click here

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Stainless Steel Drinks Tray

Become the perfect host at a cocktail party with this Art Deco inspired drinks tray. It is crafted from brass finished stainless steel and has a blue metal base, creating a luxurious final piece that looks at home in any drinks cabinet.

Our Price £30.00 – Click here

Top Gift Ideas for Mother's Day

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Book Review: You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce

You Let Me InYou Let Me In by Camilla Bruce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an advanced review copy of this novel due to my being a contemporary English Gothic novelist. The blurb sounded intriguing, and I love the idea of it being a story within a story, meaning we don’t know what or who to believe right from the start. Can you ever really believe what an author tells you? That question has never occurred to me before, but now I think about it, our reality can be very different from the realities of our readers. But enough of that. Back to the story.

You Let Me In is creepy and disturbing right from the start. We begin by learning that the reclusive author, Cassandra Tipp, is surrounded by mistrust following the apparently violent death of her husband many years earlier. We then learn that Cassandra has disappeared and has left instructions with her lawyers that her niece and nephew should visit her home and find out the truth about their strange aunt. I was hooked in right from the start, loving the traditional theme of mystery and suspense. There was a lot of description that put me right there in the story, and I could almost picture the author’s house in the woods near my home.

Then the story turned even darker, and the real fairy tale was revealed. These are faeries of old, living from the land and the people they connect with, taking their lifeblood and forever entwining them in a world that is dark, deadly and where nothing is as it seems. Did Cassandra literally run away with the faeries in the end? I don’t know. All I know is that there were parts of this novel that disturbed me, but I couldn’t stop reading it. I felt like I intruded on a world that I am not meant to be a part of, and it’s a world that I am quite happy to leave well alone. If you like your stories creepy and Gothic, then you will enjoy this!

View all my reviews

Book Review_ You Let Me IN

 

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My Spiritual Toolbox

What is a spiritual toolbox and why do you need one? For me a spiritual toolbox is a collection of exercises, rituals, songs, videos and whatever else makes me feel relaxed and happy. As a reiki practitioner you might expect me to be in a constant state of zen-like bliss, radiating calm and serenity. I have young children and a mischievous dog, however, so some days my zen seems very far away!

My Spiritual Toolbox

The beauty of creating a spiritual toolbox is that you can make it whatever you want it to be. I have piles of notebooks with information jotted down that I find in books and articles. These include Tarot card readings, incantations, meditations and symbols that resonate with me on a deep level, making me feel connected to a world beyond the physical. They give me hope that there is a bigger picture, and that my mundane reality is not the only one available. There are specific books in my spiritual toolbox, like my reiki course manuals. I can read these whenever I need a boost. I have incense, scented candles, and smudge sticks to cleanse the air in my home and help clean my aura when it feels clogged and murky. I also have a collection of crystals, and I pick which ones I feel drawn to on different days, or when I am working towards specific goals, so that they might help in my task.

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Of course, it isn’t all about spiritual or magical items. My spiritual toolbox also currently includes regular playtime on a game app that I enjoy. It helps me to relax when I feel stressed, and it gives me enormous satisfaction when I crack the puzzles. I enjoy drinking wine or gin, and I like to eat chocolate and sweets. These all add up to my spiritual toolbox, because they help to make me feel better when I am stressed or cheer me up when I feel down. What is in your spiritual toolbox?

My Spiritual Toolbox SpookyMrsGreen

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