Undoing Some Empath Bullshit

 See yourself in others.
Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?” ~ Buddha

One of the reasons I began the empath myth-busting task was that as I worked with people struggling how to navigate this way of being, I began to realize that their distinct experiences, fears, and the responses to the fears they’d adopted, were not unique, not occasionally similar but were damn-near identical. The latter were mostly tied to ‘I’m too literal, I can’t possibly be psychic’ and the myths one stumbles upon when googling ‘what is an empath’. Before the Fuckery became my life, I was well into writing a book demystifying all things empath-related. Since that book may not come to fruition, I’m going to bring the drafts here and expand on them as we go.

Another reason I chose to dive into it is because I’ve known since the first time I facilitated the healing work, the first day of my only class, I’ve known that it isn’t ‘just’ a ‘spiritual gift’. It, indeed, may be a gift but it is beyond spirit in that it is observable, measurable, and replicable. Similar effects on physiological and psychological systems can be reproduced by technology. If science could measure the energy that moves from my hands and the physiological response of the client I’m working with…..Actually science can, the tools and technology exist. The previous sentence should probably read ‘If science would…’  Traditional ‘energy’ medicines have been doing this same thing for a long time and have been long studied around the globe.  Does that change it’s often perceived and described spiritual or ‘Divine nature’? Nope. That’s like trying to separate daylight from the sun. It is all of that; divine and holy and inexplicable and measurable and replicable, even by objects associated with what we identify as tangible and far removed from ‘spiritual’ like electrodes or acupuncture needles. I’ll share more on that if there’s interest in it but, for now, let’s come back to the object of my attention–the empath.

For eons, the capacity for feeling the way empaths reportedly do has also been called a ‘psychic’ or ‘spiritual’ gift. It’s not. There’s magnificence to how we’re individually wired and universally interconnected but it’s not magic. Energetic, though? Absolutely!

I feel the need to state here that I’m taking us down the science-trail not to diminish the powerful, often spiritual, nature of energetic work. I’m steeped in it, led by it (or rather, it’s got me by the nose pulling me along like Toucan Sam), believe in it, and am alive because of it. I have visions of the future,  speak in ‘tongues’ in ceremony and have been prophesied. People I work with experience the Christed heart merge with theirs, out of body experiences and, as one man put it, “I just met God.” I work with Ancestors, angels, invisible animals and plants, and other beings every day. I’ve seen them, am touched by them, have great respect for and receive responsibilities from them. They are those with whom I have the most intimate relationships with. However, it is time to put to rest the fears that have led most of us away from these kinds of relationships. I want to demystify the things that frighten people into disconnection from themselves and their communities. It’s time for truths that offer new explanations and stories and room for growth of our greatest potential–our relationship with each other.

Before we explore some research together, I want to create something of a framework that begins with a story. The complaints I receive from empaths I initiate work with remind me of one traditional Buddha story. Sakyamuni was born into a royal and wealthy family who, at the time of his birth, received a prophesy that he was born to be either a great spiritual leader or a great warrior. His parents attempted to prevent the former and cultivate the latter by keeping him ‘protected’ from the larger world. He was reportedly confined within the castle walls while the lame, sick, homeless and dead were banished from within sight of those same walls. All of this to keep young Saky from being aware of and responding to those suffering around him, to be compassionate toward them. Then, like any self-respecting youngster who felt confined, he snuck out.  His initial exposure to the realities of the world from which he’d been protected, and his courage to walk away from the throne, have brought us some of the greatest teachings.

For me, the ‘feeling too much’ and ‘anxiety’ that is nearly universal to those empaths I’ve been connected to is directly connected to their deepest ownfineself, trying to sneak out. To emerge, engage, and respond. And not knowing what the fuck to do about it.

As we meander this together, through story and science, I’ll share what to do about it to make life more fluid, satisfying, sane and hearted.  One blog post at a time. Join me. Ask questions. Do the homework. Bitch about it. But be curious and invite some of the questions I offer into your own life.

If you are new to my empath myth-busting, start here:  Myths of Being an Empath, Some Empaths are just Ath-holes, Traits of an Empath and The Importance of Being an Empath.  The most recent is here: Empath Bullshit

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Healers as Channels

A Response to Responses

Several folks have responded to my I’ve Cured Cancer post with a variation of: “I’m just a channel of universal energy that…”

One of the reasons I don’t subscribe to that aspect of teaching is because it intentionally limits the relationships between the practitioner and client, practitioner and their responsibility, as well as the recognition of their own power, and, equally important-in my opinion-the relationship between human & cosmic energies and the relationship to one’s ownfineself.

Unless we’re willing to consider that our plumber, electrician, landscaper, artist, architect, professor, parking lot attendant, washing machine repair man, and physicians are all ‘merely channeling universal energy’, I’m not one to use that as an explanation.

That there is a separate and singular ‘universal’ energy or super/supra/consciousness that merely moves through us healer types discounts any notion that, at the very heart of it all, is that healing doesn’t happen without engaging and nurturing a relationship between human heart and human heart.  If it didn’t we’d be superfluous.

There is a reason why, in many indigenous cultures, a healer spends decades learning both from a teacher, within community and in solitary connection to things universal. It is to study how to be responsible for the development of the relationships with human, plant, spirit, elemental and other universal energies, as well as, a key element forgotten in our attempt to commercialize this kind of work, the relationship with elements of the self.

Do we work in partnership with everything around us? If we’re doing it openly, yes. Absolutely yes. Our role, though, is not as a channel for something else to do the work. We do the work.

The first dog with osteosarcoma I worked on was this galoot of a mutt. I had to visit with him three times. The second time I was there, I’m not quite sure what came over me. The need to impress his owner, my own fear of failure. Whatever it was led me to start asking for St. Francis to show up, for any other umpteen whoevers I’d read about to show up.. The singular voice that responded said this: “Just shut up and do it.”  There was no Nike-like fuzziness in the direction given. There was a demand for action.

There is a difference between what I call getting out of my own way (shutting up and doing the work) so that what occurs is a relational flow outside of thought processes and telling myself to let something else do the work. I’d have never done it for a math test or pre-sentence investigation and wouldn’t dream of doing it with a person I work with.

When I”m working, I’m often in the body of another; feeling it, listening to what it has to say. where things within it are resistant. In response to what it tells me, I noodge, pull, love on, and yank as needed. When I open myself to everything the body in front of me has to say, I feel the fear trapped in thighs that have been forced open again and again. I feel the desperate need for affection held in the liver. I feel the lineage connected to traumas that have repeated on auto-pilot for generations and release those ties that bind. I feel the sacral and solar plexuses have been locked in a trauma state for decades and can release it. I feel the guilt of self-love that has morphed into self-loathing and can guide through that.  What I feel intuitively and intellectually and then do with all that information for the person or people in front of me is my responsibility, not that of the ‘universe’ as it moves through me or afterward.

However, in the same way I have the capacity to ask a human for help, I can ask other invisible energies (Kathryn Kulhman may pop in or someone’s great-grandmother may join),  or I can pull in the energy of a plant that’s needed, or I can accordion out and have more than one me participate.

The evolution of the healing arts being taught as a form of channeling may have come from a well-minded instructor attempting to move students past identification with ego. Possibly, probably, but we’ll never really know.  Sometimes, even now, that may be part of a teachers plan.  But it has become rote in a way that wouldn’t make sense in any other profession or way of being.

Those who name it and claim it—their role, their responsibilities related to that in both the care and community—have different outcomes than those who don’t. It’s worth experimenting with yourself to find out what kind of difference that makes in your practice. It tends to broaden the awareness of all things universal, creates space for creativity, and a deeper connection to those spaces in between.

It’s been asserted on more than one occasion that healers who claim success are egotistical. Clearly some are. However because their gift itself provides not just relief but  cures and more isn’t what makes them egotistic. The two are separate issues and worth reflecting upon and discussing more.

That’s my two bits.

 

Q & A of the day: How can I be sure that what I feel is ‘real’?

Like all magnificent things, it’s very simple. ~ Natalie Babbitt

Question: How can I be sure that what I feel is ‘real’ and I’m not having a hallucination? Or that I’m inventing the feeling?

This is so simple. In fact, you may say something like, “It can’t be that simple” or “No way.”

Ask yourself. When you find yourself on the edge of or in the midst of an unusual experience merely ask yourself if what you are feeling or seeing is real. Ask yourself if you’re having a hallucination or if you’re mind is inventing it (because it could be doing something else more productive, right?).

Way.

That simple.

Ask and listen to the response. It also helps to heed it but that may take more trust than you’ve got at this moment. For now, just turn this into an experiement, one in which you are participant and observer.  You’ll begin to notice that your created mental responses are different than ‘inspired’ ones or ones from outside of us entirely. If you haven’t taken the time to differentiate between these, try wrapping your head around the differences between these:

“Gee, I wonder what I should make for dinner?” = an example of the created thought. Maybe it appears as you’ve opened the refrigerator for the third time and nothing new has appeared on the top shelf.

 “Ice cream and pickles.” An inspired response. One that just ran through your head for no particular reason. It might be followed by a created one that says, “Where the heck did that come from” or “Am I pregnant?”

 “Hey, honey, let’s have black bean soup for dinner.” A response from outside of us.

The only difference between the latter with a breathing, visible companion and that of a not-so-visible, unbreathing one is how we ‘hear’ the voice.

Many times the response comes back to us in our own voice and in our own head. This confuses people who aren’t used to talking to themselves. There is a difference between you talking to you (and, yes, it is often the most intelligent conversation you might have on any given day) and another talking to you in your head. No, it doesn’t mean you’re crazy. It means you’re becoming adept at discerning what’s yours and what is not.

Seriously, y’all, this is not complicated stuff.  It is simple and can be quite fun and enlightening when you can begin moving through the unfolding of it all with a sense of curiosity rather than fear.

Q and A of the day: Have you ever had a spiritual attack?

Hmmmm…I’m not sure how this person is defining ‘spiritual’ here but I’m going to make a short leap and guess that he meant ‘Have you ever been attacked by something invisible?”

Yes, I’ve been in a relatively uncomfortable situation with something, that to others, was not visible.   However, because it was invisible does not mean that it was of ‘spirit’.   The interaction I had was with what I’ll call an aspect of a living, breathing human in the room next to mine.  I’ll not give real details because associates of his remain in my Facebook and Twitter stream.  So, the people and place that will make this identifiable will be changed or just not use so as not to embarrass anyone.

As many folks know, I travel to bring the work and, for the most part, when I’m asked to come someplace or receive the calling to go there, I don’t know who I’m going to stay with until things become revealed.  In this case, though, I was actually invited by a spiritual teacher/guide type to come to his home.  He agreed to host me as traveler and an event.  Bonus!!  Right?!  Notsomuch.

So after my first stop in a fine, wacky unnamed city in an unnamed southern state, I headed to his place.  And what I drove into is something for which I’d just had no preparation.

Ya know that feeling when you step into ‘it’?  That thing that gives you the instantaneous ‘ruh roh’ and ‘ew’ at the same time?  Like stepping in cat barf in your bare feet?

Well, this was that but in a situation with something like 12 tick infested dogs.  Behind an 8′ foot fence topped with concertina wire.

Ya know that feeling when you just know what’s behind the facade but you just can figure it out exactly?  (If you know this and struggle w/ it, you need the class!! )  Well, this was that but he was soooooooooo nice.  I mean so nice.  And spiritual.  He told me all about the energy work he’d done on the land (don’t get me started.  Ok, do, but later.), what energies stayed outside the fence (because fences…riiiiight), how he’d adopted some Native American elements in the ‘healing’ work, and, more importantly took me out to a great Mexican place.  Yum!

We hit it off, had great margaritas (real lime juice, please.  Not that mix that glows in the dark), interesting oneupsmanship discussion, and played with really cute dogs.

And then we went to bed.  And then I had an invisible visitor.  Ya know when folks think they’re being sneaky but they really aren’t?  Like when you try to not make any noise but you end up making more?  Kind of like that all-too human facade crap?  Yep, it carries over into many aspects of ourfineselves.  So, when I was confronted with this only vaguely invisible energy I knew exactly what it was and from whence it originated.

Us silly humans.  We’re so bloody freaking obvious sometimes.  So, stuck in that paralytic sleep state with something trying to be an invisible bogeyman,  I let loose a stream of language that would make George Carlin SO proud and an energetic right hook that shut the whole thing down.   In an instant.   And then I got up to pee.

And, when asked the next morning how I slept, I said, “Fine, thanks!”

So, kids, don’t get caught up in the stuff you see on all the ghost-y shows.   This stuff isn’t as complicated as you think.

 

Is remote energetic work effective?

A few days ago, I received an email related to the upcoming Empowered Empath class.  Tanya asked, “I guess the only question I have is- whether the energy work is as effective over Skype as it is in person? Do you feel that it is?”

My response was this:  “Remote work is just as effective (if not more so in some cases) as in-person work.”  That said, when we do remote ‘energetic’ work, there is no technology involved.  I find the use of it when doing energetic work like a leash.  So we connect etherically and no one is tethered to phone, speakers, video, etc.”

When I do remote work, it’s just like being with someone physically and often they can feel me physically–hands on head or heart, rubbing their back, patting their head.  I use the same intensity of focus (often more because I, too, can get distracted when the client isn’t with me.   And I move.  A lot.  I often dance around in the same manner I do when bringing Love on Fire to folks.  It often resembles something akin to a head-bobbing, dervish-twirling, energy-conducting voodoo priestess.  So being tethered to a camera or computer really confines me.

Sometimes remote work really is more effective than in-person work.  Those that are afraid to be truly open–open-hearted, open-minded, open emotionally, wide-freaking-open when around people often can do so in the comfort of their own home and pajamas surrounded by their cats.

That said, I actually prefer hands-on work.  Because, for me, this work is about about relationship.  It may be only three hours at a shot but, for many, it’s the most intimate they’ve ever had.  For me, the magic that happens, the ‘real’ opening that occurs when my physical hand touches someone’s heart (or hips or knees or belly or feet or ears or head or back or…) cannot be duplicated remotely.

And, although people have tangible, worldview-shifting experiences remotely, in my opinion (based solely on what I’m told) they aren’t necessarily implemented in the same fashion (if at all) as if they are coached through interpretations, guided through their own messages and mental/bodily responses as can happen when we are face to face.

As far as I know people I’ve worked with remotely have had visitations of yours truly but haven’t had the transformative (if folks choose to transform with it, btw) physical & visual interactions with Jesus or Manasa or Running Rabbit or folks from their lineages.  I know they’ve (okay, only one person) experienced a string of multiple orgasms as a form of released sexual trauma for themselves and a string of matrilineal women.  But, since I’m not with them, I’m not sure if it’s a full-on-let’s-get-pentacostal-up-in-here bodily release of trauma or just a ‘regular ol” popping off of something specific.  I do know that knees & hips have no longer needed surgery, suicidality has vanished, shoulders can be used again, eyesight (and foresight) have improved, ulcers have healed, urinary tract infections disappeared, kidney stones & breast lumps have dissolved.

And, usually, when I work with people remotely, it’s easier for them to ditch their own responsibility, disengage from the work, and otherwise not follow through–particularly if the work is given for free.   When that happens I just wait for them to return.

Either way, remotely or within physical proximity here’s what this sometimes feels like.  Please give me and yourself the courtesy of closing other open tabs & windows, then connect to your breath and click play.

 

Money Madness

On Why I Do and Do Not Charge

Would you ever consider not enlisting the services of or think the following were a fraud if they called the work they do their calling or a gift, or, say, charged for it:

  • massage therapist
  • mechanic
  • podiatrist
  • pediatrician
  • photographer
  • pharmacist
  • herbalist
  • nail technician
  • hair stylist
  • maid
  • chef
  • florist
  • delivery service
  • veterinarian
  • grocery clerk
  • farmer
  • gardener
  • doctor
  • landscaper
  • painter
  • plumber
  • artist
  • musician
  • trainer
  • coach
  • therapist
  • dancer
  • hooker
  • preacher
  • teacher
  • doughnut maker
  • engineer
  • electrician
  • barista
  • bartender
  • seamstress
  • tailor
  • butcher
  • baker
  • candlestick maker

And, if you’re rolling your eyes because you don’t think any of the above have a ‘gift’, I call bullshit.  You pay more or drive farther to, say, get your hair done by the gifted girl who does your hair ‘just right’ and ‘gets’ you because you’ve met those who aren’t gifted. Same with the others. We’ve all had experiences learning the difference.  Heck, you also pay the preacher and tithe at least 10%, right?  However, I digress.

I got knicker-knotted last week when someone in the community essentially accosted a client of mine for choosing to work with me.  And, again (because it happens at least once a year) one of the arguments/derisions was, “Why would anyone who claims to have a gift charge?”  Well, now, let’s ponder that for just one hot second.  Could it possibly, maybe be that we also need to live?

Before our communities ‘advanced’ into their current state, those who do the work of shaman-healer were supported by their communities (and in other places in the world, still are).  People who relied on healers made sure they had homes, those homes were roofed, and the larders within stocked.  The healer’s role in the community was not merely a revered, mystical role but one that nurtured a symbiotic relationship to help ensure not just health but cohesion and communication for everyone.  There was a recognized symbiotic relationship. We do not live in those types of communities any more.

In fact, those in that role now are lucky to live in communities that actually believe in ‘the work’. So we pay for gas, food and other living stuff just like everyone else.  And, to do that, I work.  My gift is my work, more than it actually.  It is who I am. It is what I was born for and survived some of the most shitty stuff humans to do others humans for.  And, so I charge a fee.

Except when I don’t.

The other knotted-knicker issue arose last week when a friend said, “You just need to stop working for charity.”  And, my response–after I made sure she hadn’t grown two extra heads–was, “NO.”

All work I do for military service personnel (active and veteran) is for free always.  Many pay but I make it clear they do not have to. I do that because they are my tribe and I will do everything for them.

However, I have never, ever turned someone away because they cannot pay.  Three-quarters of the work I do, I do without charge and do so because how the universe works through me is for everyone (just sometimes not when they think they are ready for it) no matter color, religion, faith, bank account or lack thereof.

My work isn’t just valuable.  It is invaluable.  Within a single breath or a series of sessions, people move from wanting to put a bullet in their head to wanting to ‘really, really live’ and know exactly what that means for them.   Some forever walk and dance without pain or medication ever again.  Some sing with joy at learning a new way to see themselves and the world around them.  Some get to spend years longer with death-sentenced animals.  Some have an awakening experience that connects them to their god in a fashion that completely changes their life-path.  Some learn that they aren’t who they thought they were and then learn anew their purpose and passion.  Some realize that there was never anything wrong with them in the first place.

An interesting human lot we are.  Why the myth of martyrdom for those with ‘gifts’ is perpetuated is beyond me.  The Starving Artist or Monkish Mystic or the Pauper-Healer. We’ve become ‘advanced’ in other ways but not in this regard.  We still won’t hold them in much regard while they’re living but will saint ’em after they pop their clogs.  I’m convinced that it is one of the reasons the arts struggle to survive and alternative methods of healing will never be mainstreamed.

To say to anyone ‘you never pay for that kind of work’ does a couple of things: it diminishes the gifted nature of the work as well as the other types of work and it ignores the larger picture entirely. I’ve sarcastically written before, “What am I going to do? Send a Navajo god an invoice?”  Well, no. However, I’m not going to show up to a Navajo hand trembler or hatali without cash in hand.  To know I have the gift to heal people with a touch and some water, I paid $300. In the old days & ways, I’d have paid with a sheep or something else suitable. If I ever need a Yébîcha, I know to expect that’ll be about $10,000–that’d be a lot of sheep.

I’ve been excoriated for ‘advertising’ my spirituality or expecting an exchange by folks who claim a particular Cree way and, by others who have adopted the same way, I’ve learned through their teachers that, in addition to asking appropriately with tobacco and a blanket at the very least, you also show up with cash. All of this is to say that, historically speaking, whether one paid for services somehow related to spirit or Spirit, is culturally based.

I have tried to find a balance of being in service to others while living somewhat comfortably.  Most folks don’t know that I chose to become homeless two autumns ago so I could more easily follow my path & get to people who need me.  When I travel, I often sleep in my car.  That’s just the way it is has been. For a while, it was my way.  I tried to crowdfund when I appropriate and I actively reached out to those who can pay while seeking to work with those marginalized populations that can’t.

I’ve set some very clear boundaries lately that have made some folks uncomfortable. When medicine men have asked that I participate in ceremonies far away, I’ve said no.  When others, especially friends, have said, “Hey, could you…?”, I’ve asked them to consider some kind of exchange because I realized that some of my poverty is my own doing. I’ve chosen to work with anyone, no matter their bank account or lack thereof. I’ve chosen to remain afraid of asking for financial help. I’ve judged those whose work creates vast monetary wealth for them. I’ve judged myself as being wrong, not doing things ‘the right way’, being ‘at fault’ or otherwise ashamed of needing or asking for help. My boundaries have shifted to reflect that I must be sustained for the value and growth of the work to be sustained. I think the language created around the fees for healing is reasonable and the fees for things outside the ‘healing’ are not ‘what the market will bear’ but are fair.

And, I’ll still do free work. For military service personnel, all the time. For those upon whose front door I knock because their Great Uncle Walks on Water sent me, always.

Our current culture does not support the shaman-healer in the way former communities were structured and taught to do. Those of us of this gifted way  of being either need to be supported in that ‘old way’ or in the ‘new way’. That includes recognizing our own responsibility in shaping things so that can happen.

And, for fuck’s sake, tip your waiter.  Money matters and money manners.

 

 

Healer on the Highway

Ingrids Card2

Traveling Light, posted a few weeks ago, has now taken on a life of it’s own!

I have started an Indiegogo campaign to help me make this happen!  Part social experiment (moving paying it forward from fast-food lines to miracle-making, eh!) and all-encompassing healing, I embark on leg one this Sunday where I’ll travel to meet with people in Pennsylvania who happen to also be connected to the work I’ll be doing in Montana the month of February. Yes, I know.  Girl who doesn’t like cold is going to Montana.  In February.  Shitballs.

From the Indiegogo site:

What this is about:
The healing gift I have is meant to be shared.  With everyone.  My life, my existence, & the experience that people have through me, is a treasure, a distinct expression of the mystery.  This is a treasure to be shared widely & openly, not to be hidden or waiting to be found. I will go to where I am called and where I am asked to come.  So, I’m hitting the road.

Funding supporters will help me answer the call to serve others in the unique fashion I do.  My goal is to end the suffering of those in need–either physically, emotionally or spiritually, and to document these experiences.

In addition to bringing healing to others, this is about changing the dialogue about non-medical healing: moving it from myth & metaphysics, faith & spirit into a discussion about it’s reality, effectiveness and limitations. 

Why this is important:
Four years ago, I was blessed to become an amazing catalyst for profound change in people: I heal physical & emotional pain, dissolve disease and bring forth others’ unique gifts & an experience of awakening (defined however they choose).  I’ve decided that I need to bring myself to where those that need that kind of healing are rather than wait for people to find me.  This puts me on the road, bringing ‘Spanx for the Soul’, wherever it takes us, to whomever it takes us.

There are & have been others who do what I do. However, their work has been grounded in religious faith or metaphysical beliefs and they have had a variety of Church or other kinds of sponsorships & support.

I do not. I am not associated with any religion, faith or metaphysical belief system.  And none is needed for those who wish to have this transformational experience–it is as much for atheists and skeptics as it is for others!  My faith is ground in my knowing and my capacity to put one foot in front of the other while standing in love, grace & service for each of those who cross my path.

This healing gift is an expression of love that needs no condition, no prerequisite, no reason to exist, to be shared, to heal and permanently connect people with a sense of worthiness, wholeness, and health.  For a list of things that have been cured in people and animals, go here: Healing FAQs

And, on this trip, there will be no condition, no prerequisite of money.  Those who can pay, will be paying it forward so those who cannot will be allowed to share in this experience.

What I Need:
Any monies received will go directly to funding the Traveling Light tour.  In order of importance:
•   Getting car ready for the winter hinterland (travels begin in Montana, in
Februrary!):  4 new tires, tire chains and clutch inspection
•   An emergency car fund for repairs and gasoline (because you never know what
might happen 1000 miles from home!)
•   A more suitable replacement for my iMac (it’s dying a slow logic-board death
*and* takes up the entire front seat!)
•   Lodging (most of the time I will find a house sit or will be hosted but will
occasionally need my own space for a night or two)

Other Ways You Can Help
Ask me to come to you, your community center, church, yoga or dance studio; homeless shelter, rehab facility, detention center, or living room.

Ask me to share your experience of life as you know it.

Share this with everyone you know–without regard to what you think they’ll think about it–and those you find on indiegogo, too, that may need some assistance.

Gas cards, gift certificates for restaurants & hotels usually found on major highways, road-trip worthy tunes on CD (because out in the middle of nowhere = no good radio), joining the stream on FB and sharing goofy jokes….

 

Please consider donating and helping me help others.  If you cannot contribute financially, please share, share, share this in your electronic streams!