Pet Stylist Health

2011 Annual WAPPS Pet Stylist Invitational

 

Camera April 20 030

Its that time of year again!

Our 6th annual Pet Stylist Invitational will be held this year on October 9th! 

This year's venue has graciously been offered to be held at the Central Bark in Madison, WI.

The day will begin for competitors at 9am for prejudging, and for show attendees not competing in the grooming competition, the doors will open at 10am.

The day's events and lineup are as follows, however, minor last minute changes may take place:

 

8am   Competitors arriving

9am    Prejudging for Competition starts

10am  Invitational opens for all attendees

10am  Two-tiered Potpourri Grooming Competition begins

12pm  Grooming Competition Ends & Judging begins

1pm    Awards & Placement announcements & Competition photos taken

1pm    Catered full lunch served

2pm    Hands on critiques of competition dogs in open forum discussion

3pm    Breeder/Handler hosted breed class: Schnauzers- Miniature/Standard/Giant

4pm    Clipper Vac Salon Demo

6pm    Raffle winners announced

7pm    WCMCS Written Master exam session ends

8pm    Invitational Ends


 

 

                                      **All day**

                          Groomer's Tool Swap & Sale

                               ExcelaGroom  booth

                                    UltraLift Booth

                               Element Shears for sale

       Hundreds of DVDs and Books at hand for leisure viewing

               Free samples and giveaways for all attendees

                On site membership registration & renewal

                 On site WCMCS Master Written Exam class

                    

                              
                                  We've come a long way!


Download Fair Enrollment fee schedule

Download Groom Fair Sign up

Download Competitor Groomer sign up

Attendee insurance waiver

 

For attendees traveling & needing hotel accomodations, email me for the contact for a pet friendly hotel offering WAPPS member discounted rates!




Linden Infused Honey

Permission granted to crosspost:

by Rosalee de la Forêt

I recently spent a month in France to meet my husband’s family. Like most herbalists on vacation, I viewed this trip as a great opportunity to see lots of different plants!

We traveled all over France, staying with different friends and family, and everyone very generously took us to medieval herb gardens and other botanical sanctuaries.

One “herb” we didn’t have to go searching for was linden trees.

These incredibly beautiful and aromatic trees are EVERYWHERE in France. They line the streets of Paris, drape across the boardwalks at lakes in the alps, and shade the castles in the south.

Walking through the villages of France I quickly learned that you can often smell the sweet scent of linden before you find them with your eyes. More than once my nose caught the perfume of linden and we were off to find the culprit.

Just by coincidence this is the herb that we are currently focusing on at HerbMentor.com, so it was especially exciting for me to spend time with a tree that doesn’t commonly grow where I live.


Linden flowers and leaves have been used as food and medicine for thousands of years. It has a wide variety of uses, from being a relaxing nervine to a relaxing diaphoretic, and is even often used for people with high blood pressure.

Linden tea is cooling, soothing and delicious!

Linden is very well known in France for its medicinal qualities. After meals, especially dinner, we were always offered a ‘tisane’ or herbal tea and, you guessed it, linden was the most frequent tea on the menu.

At grocery stores I would prowl the “natural health” section just to see what it was like. Without fail linden flowers and leaves were sold as tea and, frequently, we also saw the bark being sold as a laxative.

Another linden product we occasionally came across was linden honey.

Linden honey is famous for its aromatic taste as well as medicinal qualities. So, of course, we HAD to buy some and it does taste pretty spectacular.

Once home, where our own linden trees were blooming, I thought it would be fun to actually infuse linden flowers with honey. And it is this honey that truly knocks my socks off!

I made the following infused honey with fresh linden flowers. If you don’t have access to fresh flowers you can certainly try dried flowers and leaves from Mountain Rose Herbs.

I also highly recommend making linden tea. Linden is one of my favorite summertime drinks. It is cooling and moistening, quenching thirst while tasting aromatically heavenly.

To make linden-infused honey you’ll need

  • a handful of linden flowers
  • honey to fill a small jar
  • and a small jar


Begin by selecting the most scrumptious linden flowers to be infused.


Place them in a small jar and cover with honey. Stir well.


Let this sit for a minimum of three days, but longer works as well. I turn the jar upside down every day to help “stir” the mixture.


When the honey is done you can use this in a number of ways (There is no need to strain the herbs from the honey).

Enjoy it on pastries or in hot breakfast cereals.

Try a teaspoon to flavor your teas.

A spoonful can be taken to soothe sore throats and coughs and promote rest.

Linden also makes a delicious tea!

Again, if you want to get yourself some dried linden flowers, simply go to Mountain Rose.

Happy summer!

~Rosalee


Herbal Vinegar Cleanser

 

by Rosalee de la Forêt

This is the month where spring officially arrives! Whether you live in a warm climate that has been experiencing spring for weeks or you are still incased with snow, as a lover of plants I know most of us are brimming with excitement for the upcoming growing season.

When I think of spring I think of hyacinths, violets, red-winged blackbirds, apple blossoms and cleaning. Yes cleaning.

I know that cleaning doesn’t hold the same excitement as pink hyacinth flowers, but the ritual of spring cleaning may be as old as spring itself. Opening the windows, cleaning under the bed and letting freshness sweep out the staleness of winter just feels good.

In our efforts to bring freshness into our homes it would be silly to attempt to accomplish this while using harsh chemical cleaning agents. Yet this is what many people do in an attempt to create a sterile home environment. I avoid walking down the cleaning aisle at the grocery store, otherwise that harsh cacophony of scents assuredly reddens my eyes and gives me a headache. No thank you!

Even “natural” cleaners you buy at the grocery store can include not-so-natural chemicals as well as cost a pretty penny.

In this HerbMentor newsletter we are going to make a 100% natural herbal cleaner that is super effective at cleaning counters, stove tops and bathroom appliances. Better yet, this cleaner will undoubtedly cost you less than $5 for a year’s supply!

Though a bit different, this recipe was inspired by the Village Herbalist series on HerbMentor.com.

Before we get to the recipe let’s learn more about our ingredients.

Vinegar

In this recipe we’ll be using distilled white vinegar. You can buy this at grocery stores and is fairly cheap at $2-4 a gallon. Vinegar could be the only cleaner you’ll ever need. It can clean practically everything from the toilet to the windows (just switch out rags in between). I don’t get caught up worrying about germs, but if that is a concern for you, white vinegar is even a natural disinfectant.

Thyme

Many of us think of thyme as simply a culinary herb, but thyme has a well-deserved place in our medicine cabinet as well. Thyme tea is fabulous for lung congestion and coughs. I’ve used it for productive coughs (to loosen and expel mucous) as well as for dry spasmodic coughs (to lessen the cough). Anti-microbial in nature, it has been used for centuries to clean wounds and kill parasitic fungi on the skin. These anti-microbial properties make it great for cleaning your house as well.

Lavender

Its lovely scent is sweet enough for linen sachets and calming enough to relieve stress. I’ll admit that the soothing smell of lavender makes cleaning all the happier. The word lavender comes from ‘to wash’ and it has been used for bathing for eons. It is also antimicrobial, making it another wonderful addition to our cleaning crew. 

To make this recipe you’ll need...

  • 1 quart of vinegar
  • 1 cup of dried thyme leaves and flowers
  • 1 cup of dried lavender flowers
  • quart jar
  • Place the dried herbs in a quart jar.

Fill the jar with vinegar.



Let this sit for 24 hours. The next day the vinegar should be a lovely red color (This red color comes from the thyme).



Strain out the vinegar well and then place it in a spray bottle.



Voila! You have your own super cheap, super effective herbal vinegar cleaner.

We use this exclusively in our house to clean the stove, countertops, kitchen sink, toilet, windows, etc. It cuts through grease and leaves a pleasant scent. If desired you could even add some essential oils to the vinegar as well.

Enjoy!


Cinnamon for Dogs & Humans

Permission to crosspost:

An Essential Spice for Dogs and Humans to Share

From Dogster columnist Julia Szabo


Of all the items in my pantry, the one I never want to run out of is cinnamon. My dogs and I enjoy this amazing, deliciously fragrant spice every single day of the year. The dogs get cinnamon sprinkled over their food at every meal; I like it in and on everything from yogurt, lemonade, and chai tea to vegetable curry, baked apples, and rice pudding.GCR36p

Not only does cinnamon smell and taste great, it has many health benefits, as we’ll see below.

But first, what is it and where does it come from? Cinnamon is a small tree that grows in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Brazil, Vietnam, and Egypt; its bark is dried and rolled into cinnamon sticks (also called quills), then ground into powder.

There are four varieties, but Ceylon cinnamon (its Latin name is Cinnamomum verum) and Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) are the most popular; Ceylon, also called true cinnamon, is sweeter, lighter in color, and more expensive than Cassia, which is the darker type of cinnamon more commonly found in supermarkets and Starbucks. Whichever variety you choose, it’s definitely worth it to spend a bit more on organic cinnamon, which tends to be even more wonderfully fragrant than its non-organic counterpart.  

Traditionally, cinammon has been used around the world to remedy flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, and painful menstrual periods. It’s also believed to boost energy, vitality, circulation, cognitive function and overall brain health, and to improve the digestion of dairy products.  

In one study, sniffing cinnamon was shown to result in improved brain function – test subjects performed better at memory and attention after a whiff of this spectacular spice. So if you’re working with your dog on learning new tricks, definitely offer him or her a sniff of cinnamon before you begin your training session!

Recent studies have shown that just half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day helps to regulate blood sugar and raise insulin resistance; it actually boosts the body’s ability to use insulin to improve blood glucose levels. This is vital for anyone at risk for Diabetes – and that includes senior and overweight dogs. So in addition to feeding a low glycemic index dog food, top his kibble bowl off with cinnamon! Other studies reveal that cinnamon is antifungal; it works to combat Candida albicans, the fungus that causes yeast infections. These infections are often resistant to medication, but not to cinnamon. (Dogs who suffer from allergies are often prone to yeast infections).

Cinnamon is also antibacterial, and slows down the spoilage of food. When I have to store part of a can of dog food overnight, I’ll sprinkle half a teaspoon of cinnamon over it before refrigerating (on a side note, never refrigerate dog food in the can – to preserve palatability, spoon it into a glass storage container with a plastic top). Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon even prevents the growth of E. Coli  bacteria in unpasteurized juices! So for safety’s sake, be sure to add some cinnamon to your raw apple cider.   

CinnamonAn anti-inflammatory, cinnamon is great for senior dogs struggling with arthritis. With my K9 seniors, I’ve had great results mixing a half-teaspoon of cinnamon with a tablespoon of honey. This is the recipe used by researchers at Copenhagen University, where arthritis patients were able to walk without pain after just a week of taking cinnamon with honey every day. Yet more studies show that cinnamon can lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, and slow the growth of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.

Here’s a caveat: Cassia cinnamon (the darker, more common type) contains a compound called coumarin, which can damage the liver at high levels. One more reason to use Ceylon cinnamon instead! But Cassia cinnamon is safe as long as you don’t overdo it; a teaspoon or so every day with food will still be beneficial in all the ways described above, but won’t give you or your dog nearly as high a dose as the higher concentration found in, say, a cinnamon supplement capsule (which would contain a substantially higher amount of coumarin).

Also, cinnamon has a mild anti-clotting effect on the blood, so too much can cause bleeding problems if a person is on blood-thinning medication such as aspirin. And pregnant women (or dogs) should not take too much cinnamon, as it may have a stimulating effect on the uterus.

But in small amounts – half a teaspoon at every meal – cinnamon obviously does a lot more good than harm. Enjoy!


A Working Mom's Wish for Her Kids

Whether a single Mom or Dad, or a married Mom or Dad- as a parent- we all work.  We work physically tiring and mentally strenuous jobs, we work long hours and spend a lot of time away from home- and it takes a lot out of us each day.  Time spent sitting in the car on our commute thinking about the day's events and the things we have yet to get done, or the resolutions for a current issue at hand, and wondering what our family might be doing in our absence.  Often, what gets us through the toughest of days, and makes all the work worthwhile are the hugs around the knees and the, "Yay, Mom's home!!" cheers when we walk through the door.  The excitement from our children to see us again at the end of our day can wash away the tension from even the worst and most hectic workday anyone can trudge through.
Because we need to work, to provide for our family and to give some offering to our sense of accomplishment and personal ability outside of being a Mom or Dad- often we grapple with the reality that at some point, we miss out on some of the things that mark our child's development or a milestone of their growth.  Sometimes it can be difficult to work through the guilt we may feel over missing a school field trip, our toddler's first step, our baby's first word, or any number of achievements that our children grow from in their young lives.  Many times I have stood at my own grooming table, methodically working on grooming and trying to keep back the tears and the thoughts about the call of announcement that I just got of some great happening, or the things that I know I am missing out on that day, and feeling pretty regretful that I wasn't there to share in it all.  At times, the guilt that I have experienced over being away from my home and family when I felt a deep need and even a biological draw to be there with them, was so overwhelming, I considered giving notice at work, or going out at the end of the day, and just not coming back.  Sometimes it would take being back at home and seeing the fruits of all my labors there for my family to have that they needed, and having the time to spend one on one with my kids to help ease the frustration over what I'd missed during the day, and to make me feel any better at all about going back and doing it again the next day. 
And some times, I just took a few days off.
Over the years, I have learned to accept that sometimes the need to provide for my family must supersede my need to always be part of their daily lives. I still feel regret over missing things, but I have grown to realize that with motherhood- or parenthood overall, we always feel that we should be doing more, going the extra distance to cover all that we can, to be the best Mom or Dad ever.  And when we do that- we spread ourselves pretty thin.  We can begin to forget who we were before we became a parent, or to loose sight of what is really important in this already hectic and short life that we share with our loved ones.  We do need to remember and hold tight to those parts of ourselves that don't have a thing to do with being a Mom, and more to do with being a unique person, displaying our talents and our skills, and give us a definite fulfillment in our sense of self. 
I have always been very fortunate in being able to work close to home and my regret over what I had to miss I know is less than what some Moms and Dads have had to endure.  Being a working Mom has helped me to grow, helped me to realize that it is OK to miss out on some of the things, so long as I work with diligence to my efforts to set an example for my children, to provide for their needs, and to earn their respect and admiration, and therefor respect and admire myself.
So, to set out for all, my family included, I have a list of the things that I hope and wish for my children, and will give all that is in me to help see them fulfill as they grow and go out into the world on their own.  My hope is that perhaps knowing that us working Moms share a commonality will help us to all see a greater perspective and give us comfort when being at work is difficult.  To help remind us of the fact that it is possible to work hard, to be away sometimes, to do special things for ourselves, and to still always be a wonderful Mom to our kids.

Things I Want for My Kids....
~to understand the concept of a promise & to respect the value of following through on them as part of honest character.
~to believe in the freeing power of honesty & of avoiding engaging in actions that would cause one to feel they need to lie.
~to feel the confidence of high self esteem & true pride in their physical and mental personalities.
~to never, ever stop using their creative positive imaginations. And to believe in the possibility of making a dream a reality.
~to feel a sense of accomplishment in everything important that they do- even if it is only the accomplishment of learning from a mistake.
~to experience as many new things as the scope of their lives can fit in.
~ to cherish and honor life- especially its fragility, and to value the world and nature around us with their actions.
~to feel the sense of never being alone in the world because we are all connected and can help or hinder the lives of others in all that we do.

~to relish in the healing power of laughter- especially when things seem at their worst, and in the importance of giving laughter to others. 

I wish for all my children to have this peace in life that comes from understanding they can do anything they set their minds on, they can be the person they really are and find grace and honor there.  To be good and honest people, and to never loose sight of that.  To know that they can always rely on family to love them no matter how large the world might seem, and to go out into that world with the drive and perseverance to do great things. 

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I love you.


Stylist Health - Stress & Anxiety

Grooming is a historically stressful career.  The beginning to making positive changes in your overall health and inner sense of harmony is managing stress and it’s counterpart, anxiety. 

How do we deal with the situations that “pop up” in our work almost every day?  What do we do to equip ourselves with the tolerance, patience and adaptability to rise above the occurrences that sometimes bring out the worst in us?  And how can we as groomers by profession become groomers by nature?

The first step is to take an honest look at our gender’s personality differences and tenancies. As women, it is second nature for most of us to multi-task- often even as we sleep! This can be an incredible tool for managing the hectic ness in most any grooming day, but it can also leave us feeling spread too thin and physically as well as emotionally spent at the end of a day.  As men it is often easier for you to stay focused and objective, and persevere through difficult challenges while not becoming sidetracked with other things that eventually will need your attention. However, this tenancy can also make managing time effectively and productively difficult for some.  Stress can be deeply felt and have even more deep influences on both genders, but how each gender and each individual experiences and metabolizes it can be vastly different.  What is universal to us all- is the fact that a life lived with less stress is a happier one, indeed.

The next consideration is for what working environment you are part of.  Do you work alone?  Are you a part of a large staff?  Are you a Manager or Officer over others?  Besides the obvious factors that these differences can create. There are subtle yet important changes that these positions make on your character not only while at work but away from work as well. For instance- the divorce rate among families with a female head of household who is in a Management position in their career is at a higher overall rate than those with men in Management positions.  I know for me it can be difficult to come home to a messy house or rambunctious children and just “turn off” the tenancy to “manage” the situation and “get it in hand” because that is what I have been doing all day at work!  It can be hard to shut off that micromanaging part of me that can be tolerated by those that are actually getting PAID to deal with it - but for family - it can be outright annoying!  I can easily see how it is hard for some- myself included- to not cause more stress and anxiety for themselves and those around them by being in a Management position and not being able to leave your work at work.  As well can I understand how stress can come from being lost in a crowd of co-workers. 

     Some may be searching for a way to shine, in hopes of advancement or acknowledgement. Others may feel happy to just blend in, do their work and leave it at the door.  And still others may have things going on outside of work that they bring to “share” with everyone else- making your day more drama-filled, even if all is quiet on your “Western front”!

Another factor that contributes to stress is your stage of experience in grooming.  Are you a veteran in your field or a newbie?  Are you a groomer who has groomed forever but feels that something is still “missing” in terms of personal satisfaction?  Are you a groomer who is active in seeking out and trying new things?  If you are a new groomer, are you in the company of a supportive and proactive teacher or are you often on you own for learning?  What will you do now, to get yourself to where you want yourself to be?  It is not that hard to take your goals and break them down, working towards them one by one- accomplishing them propels you forward and concentrating on these achievements will give your work far more purpose. 

So many things affect our ability to remain positive and proactive in our days at work.  But then, what can we do to lessen our feelings of stress even if we are in these situations that cannot be changed or “fixed”?

The first good thing that we can do for ourselves is to get enough rest, genuine rejuvenating sleep, it is alright to lose out on some sleep here & there- but a habit of not getting enough sleep which can be- depending on each person’s sleep cycle anywhere from 5 to 9 hours every night, will land you in the realm of Noddingham- physically sacked and emotionally ready for nothing.  Problem solving skills drastically deteriorate as the brain’s time for recycling is cut away.  As does one’s hand-eye coordination and reflex ability.  Knee-jerk reaction is now at it’s highest incident rate! 

It is also proven that not getting enough daylight activity in a normal day can cause serious health repercussions over a long period of time, so if you are a 3rd shift groomer- at the least, be sure to try to get some daylight activity on your days off. Which leads me to my next concern.

Is having one day off enough for you or do you personally not feel refreshed unless you have two days off together? Sit down now and change your schedule to get the time off that you need to come back refreshed- no one else will do it for you!   

Do you work full time or part time?   If you are full time are you getting at the least a one hour lunch and one or two other breaks during the day?  These breaks can be the difference between having the ability to step back & take a deep breath, or standing at your table having a melt down!  I can’t stress enough that scheduling yourself time for relaxing and putting your mind on something else will immediately make a marked improvement on your overall feeling of calmness and achievement at the end of a day.  Again, you have to take the time and initiative to move your schedule around and get this to happen! 

Another thing we need to do is to eat right. Stop and take the time to get SOMETHING into your stomach before you start your day. Obviously everyone’s dietary needs are different, and I will leave that determination up to you- but we all know in honesty where that Ding-Dong and Mt. Dew for breakfast are going to leave us after a couple of hours! 

    

     Eating a solid breakfast gives your body and mind the fuel it needs to run efficiently and faithfully, and a good lunch will get you thru the rest of your day.  Remember too, that eating a large meal too late at night, for most not after 7PM, will cause your body to hold onto all of those calories and turn them to, well, the “F” word.  And skipping dinner will often affect your sleep pattern (as in sneaking to the fridge for ice cream at 3AM!)  Also, remember to keep yourself well hydrated- dehydration can cause a plethora of physical ailments.  And no- coffee DOES NOT COUNT! (Remember here, too that caffeine, as with many things, is only good in moderation) 

And let’s not forget the need for our getting plenty of exercise a few times a week.  Well, those who know me will tell you- with exercise I do not practice what I preach!  But do as I say- not as I do- because my weight has caused me tons of grief over the years- grief that has robbed me of some opportunities and of reaching some goals I set for myself, it is not fun to look back on anything with regret so, take care of yourself- faithfully, you only get one body in this life, so they say and I do believe.

Other ways to beat stress are to do things like delegate.  Delegating is the fine art of maintaining your own sanity while utilizing the natural ability of others.  We should all help each other out, it teaches us to think of others with empathy and compassion, and it shows us just how far we can all get if we work together.

Another way to help your stress level is to actively give yourself a “time out”.  You may accompany this with a personal “pep talk”. Either over your morning coffee (if you are exceptionally NOT a morning person), after you have just acted like a jerk to someone (or someone has been a jerk to you and you are about to retaliate), or as you lay in bed ready to drift off to sleep.  Be sure to recap the day thus far, look at what happened to get you to the point you are at (angry, tired or complacent) and ask yourself what you could have done differently, what you did really well, and what you want to avoid ever having happen again, and how will you make these things happen?  Dramatizing doesn’t always have to be done in the form of thinking of something that would’ve been a really good comeback after the fact; usually it is best used to explore your options with objectivity that you don’t usually get at the spur of the moment. So, think ahead of what you will do if- (insert some conundrum here).  It will help you to react more level headed and even keeled the next time!

Remember, one of the best ways to feel as if what stress you DO have to cope with is still worthwhile is by getting the proper amount or financial gain for the work that you do.  If you feel that you are getting what you are worth after a hard day’s work- it can be easier to get up and do it again tomorrow. 

Here are a few more ways to help make positive changes to your work environment:

v   Play music- music that YOU like, not just what the clients will like.

v   Try lighting a candle.  Candles soften the presence of any room and absolutely everyone looks beautiful by candlelight!

v   Take some time to find out about aromatherapy. Studies have proven that aromatherapy and essences benefit and alter one’s mood and mental state through olfactory stimulation.  You can use a plug in diffuser, an atomizer or scented candles to fill your work area with the scents that compliment your personality and give you support with what you need on any given day.

v   Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. If your feet hurt- everything hurts.  If your wardrobe is repulsive- everyone else’s eyes hurt!

v   Take some time to do your hair or makeup.  I only very rarely wear makeup- as I am naturally beautiful- but I do my hair every day. And I will tell you- whether it is full of Golden Retriever fur or not- I feel much better with how I present myself for my clients- and I think they do, too!  I certainly think it does help with tips!

v   Try deep breathing- no, I don’t mean hyperventilating- but, rather try taking a few deep, purposeful breaths a few times every day.  You can do this at your table, on your break, before sleeping...  This raises the level of oxygen present in your circulatory system this has all kinds of positive benefits! Including being light headed- which can be fun!

v   Try taking a different route to work (DO NOT GET LOST!), try noticing some of the smaller things in your surroundings- this will always help you to remember that you are just a part of the big picture, and that there is beauty there for us to enjoy if we just look.

v   Get organized. Clean out those jumbled toolbox drawers, revamp your client check in schedule, do a mini makeover of some part of your salon.  The newness will break up any dulldrums and it will add some excitement if you forgot where you put something!

v   Learn to say NO.  And be ok with it!  We cannot do EVERYTHING- so why even try? And yes, someone CAN do it just as good as you- or at least good enough!

v   Don’t sweat the small stuff. Really- and it is ALL small stuff.

Grooming days always fly by- it is one of the advantages of working in what we do- but, before you know it, the days turn into weeks, and then to months, and eventually to years. Are they years of enjoyment and fulfilling your creative need or will they be lost to head down, red faced and frantic rushing all day every day?  Starting to sit down right now and make the changes that will last us a lifetime is all we can do to lessen our stress and its affects on our life.  Getting some return out of all that we will always put in will give our hard work more meaning.  We all have had to do what needed to be done to get through a day or the Holiday rush- but having a light at the end of the tunnel can keep us focused and hopeful of when we can finally get a break.