Category Archives: Inspiration

To Survivors of Depression, Chronic Illness, Mental Illness, & Trauma

*trigger warning*

If you’ve been hit hard by suicides in the news this week, you are not alone. It’s crushing to learn that these two incredible artists have chosen to end their lives.

I don’t doubt that Anthony Bourdain was influenced by the passing of Kate Spade’s suicide just days prior. Kade Spade was influenced by Robin William’s death, according to Kate’s sister. Now, while it’s a common topic of conversation, address these issues with your friends and family so that together we can help end this pattern, spread awareness, shed light on issues that most often stay buried in darkness, and forever stop people from calling suicide “selfish” ever again.
Sharing our prayers and thoughts for their families and loved ones now.

Sometimes life feels impossible to carry on. Sometimes you feel there are NO OTHER logical options. Sometimes suffering is our only reality, and there appears to be no end in sight.

In depression or in suffering, your feelings lie to you until your own inner compass is off course. When your own thoughts and emotions are steering you into a storm, lean on facts as your anchor instead, or the lies of depression and pain can sweep you away.

Facts:
-Things will change even when your mind tells you that nothing will ever be different.
-YOU MATTER, even if your thoughts tell you that you’re worthless right now.
-The world is BETTER OFF because you’re in it .
-Your life has purpose, even if you can’t always clearly see what that meaning is.
-You are lovable.
-You are loving.
-You are an important influence on people’s lives even if that doesn’t feel real to you today.
-You are MEANT TO BE here.

Depression can decieve you until you can’t even trust your own emotions. What might make sense to you one day, can be like the thoughts of a stranger on another day.
Depression isn’t only caused by mental illness, it can be caused by grief, by loss, by chronic pain, by trauma, by changes in your health, by a vitamin deficiency, by evironmental changes, or even small changes in your diet.
It can be a slow spiral, and sometimes you may not realize you’re living with depression until your brain has been lying to you for so long that one day you look around and feel trapped in your own story.
If you believe you might be losing control of your life, and worthlessness is heavy on your shoulders, please make an appointment to talk to your doctor asap.

Together you can create a plan to help you get on a path BACK TO YOURSELF.

*Your life is worth fighting for.

To talk to someone immediately, call your state’s Behavioral Health Department hotline to speak with a professional therapist day or night.

There is always hope, that’s a fact ❤

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Self Care Plan

If you know someone going through a bad breakup, someone grieving a loss, someone who lives with mental illness, or someone going through a new or ongoing health crisis, share this image with them to save on their phone or computer.

If you’re going through a tough season and *need* to ask for help, I pray you have the courage to do so, and a compassionate soul who will answer that call.

Sometimes what we need wins over what we want. Our pride never wants to concede in that battle of wills.

There’s no shame or guilt in doing the right thing for your survival. Don’t let those ugly whispers (of guilt or shame) predict how you should live ♡

If you are struggling today, please call your State Behavioral Health Crisis Line. They are professionals and are trained to listen.

What are your basics?

If you made a list, what would be on it?

What helps you feel like a human being again?

Maybe you like to brush your hair, or maybe drinking coffee in the morning does the trick. Some people must first put on lipstick, and for others, it’s saying hello to their furry friends that begins to restore their equalibrium.

Core Basics:

-Drink Water

-Eat Something

-Take your Pills

-Brush your Teeth

-Wash up

-Change Clothes

Secondary Basics:

-Move your body/Stretch

-Read something inspiring

-Call/contact a loved one

-Pray, Rest, Meditate

-Do something fun/hobby

You’ll notice, I didn’t add “Eat something healthy” because sometimes the best we can do is eat anything at all. After you have fed your stomach, hydrated thoroughly, and you’ve taken your meds and/or vitamins, make sure to feed your soul.

Feeding my soul is just as nourishing as feeding my body. If all I set my eyes and heart on is social media and television for a week, I can’t be surprised if I’m feeling nervous and low by the end of the week. I love the term “Inspirationalizing” as an active verb. We have to go out of our way to find uplifting articles for hope, books and quotes by our role models for wisdom, seeking out words of wisdom from your faith for guidance.

What ways do you like to feed your soul?

Since my divorce, I have overhauled my self care. In a relationship, you each have a schedule and you’re attuned to the other person’s needs. They know you, and are able to remind you of your needs- you lean on one another, and develop patterns. These habits and patterns had become  engrained over 15 years. But patterns can be changed- and self care is a pattern that we all have to develop.

As I continue adjusting to my single life, in time, I’ve learned to check in with myself with as much effort as I would have my spouse. Having a schedule of sorts helps, and prioritising is especially important for me. In the beginning, the transition was especially difficult. It took time. If you are facing a transition, give yourself time… Things will find their place again. Please don’t neglect your well being in the mean time.

Whichever self care step you’re struggling with, find a way to make it easier on you to accomplish. For instance, if washing your hair has become your arch nemesis, then get creative. Maybe it’s due to chronic pain in your arm, or a slow healing back surgery. In that case, keep a bottle of no-rinse shampoo handy. Keep it with you at all times so you can do your hair washing at the times you feel able.

Similarly, if it’s tooth brushing that you can’t seem to fit in twice each day, know that you’re not alone and don’t be ashamed. Get creative.

There are plenty of solutions to make your personal care work for your special needs and your unique schedule.

What are some goals you have on your self care list?

What self care would you like to set as a priority for yourself this year?

Kiss my Affirmation

If you like someone to boss you into positive thinking, this affirmation list is the perfect place for you. Welcome! By the way, that was your first affirmation. I’m charging you per happy thought- they don’t come cheap these days, you know? If this makes you smile, that’s double. Technically, it’s not exactly a mantra, but it still counts as positivity. I didn’t make up the rules! If you don’t like it, take it up with the Bureau for Good Vibes. They are monsters when it comes to positive thinking. Just try to have a single doubt in their presence, and security will escort you straight out of the building. Those people sound laid back and relaxed, but that’s just what they want you to think. The truth? Two words: Illuminati. 

In an attempt to get on their good side, I’ve bribed them with a vintage set of Bob Ross, The Joy of Painting VHS tapes. I’m crossing my fingers that Bob’s “happy little trees” and positive vibe-spraying hair will get me some good karma with the underground happy committee. So I’m sweetening the pot with this affirmation list. 

All kidding aside, below is a mix of uplifting words, and useful reminders for you and any friend who might need a pick-me-up. I like to tack encouraging messages for myself up on my wall as a simple way to keep focused on bright spots in my life. (Especially when that darn happiness bureau is out there😉).

  • Your butt is the perfect size. 
  • You give good Facebook.
  • Repeat after me: “It’s ok if the house is messy.”
  • You folded the socks today- good job! You deserve a cookie.

  • You are enough- as you are.
  • You don’t have to be fearless to be brave.
  • Try being grateful instead of guilty.
  • It won’t be perfect, but it will be epic! 
  • Don’t forget that you’re a stone cold warrior.

    • You didn’t swear in front of the kids today! A++
    • You changed out of your slippers! Well done, you.
    • You almost worked out? Gold star🌟 You earned yourself another cookie 😉
    • The plants are still alive- that’s the way! 

    • You paid all your bills on time ✔✔
    • You wore a bra today- Killing it!
    • A nap is a great idea!!!
    • You ate a salad? Beast mode.

    • Face each day like you have a glue stick in one hand and a jar of glitter in the other. 
    • Punch today in the face like it’s bullying your kid. (But don’t be seriously punching kids for real though, k? Weirdo.)
    • Take your vitamins, get some sunshine, wash behind your ears, and never forget to DVR Project Runway.

    • Stop. Freaking. Out.
    • You’ve got this.
    • Deep breaths.
    • Tomorrow is not for today.

    • You are meant to be. 
    • Your purpose goes beyond the walls of a building. 
    • God has always loved you, and always will.

    • No need to make the bed- what kind of psycho does that anyway? 
    • In some cultures, tummy rolls are a sign of beauty and prosperity. True story.
    • If you wish you had more curves, smile more. Your smile is the best curve on your body.

    • Smile. Take selfies. Wear what you want. Be happy in your skin. There are millions of people who would love to look like you (including you in about 20 years.) 
    • You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy chocolate. And that’s pretty close. 
    • I followed my heart, and it lead me to the fridge.
    • I’m learning to be my authentic self…my authentic self believes you should be doing the laundry.
    • On an emoji scale from unicorns to poops, make today a unicorn kind of day🦄

    • In today’s world, caring about other people is about the most radical thing you can do.
    • If your grandma were going through what you are now, what would you want to tell her?
    •  All of this will be worth it in the end. 

             

            According to studies in positive psychology dating back since the 1980’s, the way affirmations work is you must be mindful to repeat the same phrase to yourself over an extended period. Say the positive affirmation every time you have the compusively negative or harmful thought you’re trying to replace. For example, each time you have a reocurring thought or feeling of loneliness, use the same powerful phrase, quote or prayer to affirm that you are loved. In time, you can actually change your own mind and the way you think!


            I would love to hear your personal favorite affirmation in the comments section below.

            Inspiration, for a bad day

            You have every right to feel overwhelmed, as though no one understands. Maybe you feel like a burden, afraid of your future, or even lost of all hope. As far as I know, everyone living with long-term illness understands these feelings well. I know I do. 

            It doesn’t make it any less horrible to know that 100 million Americans with chronic pain feel this way, but it may help in some way to remember that your feelings are normal. 

            Illness, pain, long-suffering literally deprives the brain of the chemicals and hormones required to feel happiness and at peace. It’s not pain or illness alone that causes depression, but the high levels of physical stress, constantly, over a long period of time which can inhibit the production of important nerve cells. The “optimistic”  neurotransmitters like  serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine are no longer in balance to counter feelings like uselnessness, loneliness, fear, and hopelessness. What might have been a passing thought, thanks to the rigors of chronic illness, can become a spiraling pit of despair. Pain wriggles into your very soul, and drains you of every resource. 

            This month is my 13 year anniversary with chronic pain (RSD/CRPS). When I became very ill 6 yrs ago, after several more illnesses struck suddenly, I felt as though I completely disappeared. Illness swallowed me up.

            If anyone is reading this and is being swallowed up by sickness, then you know it’s the loneliest feeling in the world to watch everyone go on and live happy lives while you fight for your own life in the shadows. Being drowned by an invisible adversary can seem like a practical joke. Everyone is in disbelief it could be “that bad.” But truly, aren’t we all in disbelief that it’s this bad?

            I want to tell you what your brain would tell you if she were allowed to work at her full potential. I want to share what your soul is crying out for that pain has hacked. 

            You have a purpose, you always have. Your purpose did not end when you were diagnosed. A calling is not just a job, purpose goes beyond the walls of a building. You are meant to be. 

            You are enough. You are just as worthy and amazing as you always have been. Even though you might feel weak, you are gaining strength of character, wisdom, and you are learning valuable lessons from this battle that no one can ever take away from you. Please don’t accept the lie that you’re a failure, you are not. You are in the midst of the fight of your life. We can’t allow ourselves to believe we are losing. 

            If your daughter, son, or grandparent were suffering from the very same condition as you, what would you want to tell them? 

            You can do this. Though you may be exhausted and fragile right now, and you aren’t even sure how you’ll  go on another day, the pain might be pushing you over the edge of what you can bare…but somehow you have risen to meet every single day before this. Remember every sickening treatment, painful surgery, and frustrating doctor appointment. Never forget how many miles you have walked already. You have overcome so many impossible days. Just get through this day. Tomorrow is not for today. 

            You are beautiful. Sometimes we lose touch with our bodies as protection from all of the horrors we are living through physically. Weight gain or weight loss, hair loss or teeth changes, swelling or skin changes…. we can look in the mirror and see a complete stranger staring back. You may not look or feel as you once did, but you can still get to know this amazing, lovely, and beautiful person. You are worthy of love. (P.S. it’s ok to take selfies even if you don’t look like your old pictures!) People love you for all of you. You don’t have to appear perfect, no one is.

            You are still the same person. Illness has a tricky way of detaching us from the longing of our past, splitting us apart from the face in the mirror, and isolating us from people we care for. Who we once were can float away, and illness can feel as though it’s taking us over. You are still her. You are still on your journey. Your path, your life, your experience is no less meaningful than anyone else’s. 

            One last thing that I think your brain would want to remind you… Things won’t be this way forever. Chronic conditions change over time. Life changes. Our perceptions change. Yes, any day your condition could progress and worsen. Or any day, you could begin to improve or go into remission. The truth is that we hear about progression and complications 10x more (TEN TIMES MORE)  than we hear about people regaining health and wellness. 

            There is no doctor or article online that can assure you what tomorrow will hold. As much as your body and mind whisper terrifying words like “incurable, degenerative, progressive,” it’s easy to let that be your daily mantra, or you can make HOPE become your weapon of choice. 


            As illness continues to speak its lies to us, we must scream back truth to ourselves so loudly that every part of us can hear!


            “The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they may both lead to the same destination.”

            -Marion Zimmer Bradley

            Self Portrait Chronic Pain

            “Life on Fire”

            These are 2 self portraits expressing the neurological and autoimmune disease RSD, also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

            “Outer Smile”

            There are those who wonder why those of us confined by pain and illness choose to continue a life suffering when all has been done, and there is not much more to do than to try to make us as comfortable as possible.

            Most will never know as much torture as those who live with chronic neurological disease. But to be miserable, to be a victim in your spirit, that you must fight with every effort. 

            It may take all you have and more, but you are indeed needed in this world. Never, never give up.

            Dear friend, never lose faith that your life purpose for being on this earth is so much more powerful than your pain. 

            I believe in a loving merciful God who lends strength when we get to the end of ours. 

            I fight to survive, to choose life every day when my body begs the opposite. I want to encourage you today to take on your battle in your own life.

            Hugs gentle warrior. 


            Please share below how you continue to press on despite seemingly insurmountable challenges.

            What is Your Purpose?

            We should all have a calling, right? A passion that drives us. “If you find your purpose, you will never work a day in your life”, and will be wonderfully successful, respected, admired, and make loads of money. At least, that’s what I’ve always heard, so it must be true. 

            What if I told you that having a “Life’s Purpose” is a myth. 

            We are taught by society, and modern culture that to be fulfilled, we have to find our one special calling, that career we love, and it will bring us prosperity and fortune all of our days. 

            Why is this philosophy problematic? 

            …Because we aren’t built to have only one purpose. We are each meant to fulfill many unique and diverse missions throughout our lives. We have dreams and goals for ourselves, but we are multidimensional beings and our greatest life passions and fulfillments may or may not be wrapped up in that job we desire. 



            Most of the time when we say, “What is God’s will for my life?” We are referring to our careers, right? But God allows purpose to thrive in so many aspects of our lives.

            You can be a passionate artist, a wife, mother, doctor, friend, AND a passionate writer. You can find calling, drive, and fulfillment in multiple areas of your life. 

            The world hands us such an impossible task of figuring out our one and only sparkling, unicorn reason for existing, and it puts sooooo much pressure on all of us. Once we believe we’ve found our “life’s calling”, complete our degrees or training, we can finally pour our passion into the work… but some time later, there’s an itch that comes over us. We feel unsettled, maybe even claustrophobic. If you’ve felt this way before, it’s miserable. And it’s also a huge disappointment that the dream we wished for doesn’t feel like we hoped it would. You do everything you can to refresh that passion you once had in your work, however, more than likely, the feeling of displacement whittles away at your spirit. 

            A Life’s Purpose is not the same as a Life of Purpose

            We were not built to stay in one place. God has so many plans for each of us. Some of us are amazing multi-taskers, juggling projects and people all at once, and others of us pour everything we have into one job, person, or other undertaking, and then we are diverted to our next chapters. One season ends, and the next begins. Sometimes there are painful seasons in between for our growth, for pruning, and for us to prepare for whatever we are meant to do next. And for some of us, those painful seasons last, so we seek out purpose and meaning in the big and small moments. 

            Callings come in seasons. We all hear the stories again and again: Someone had a career they loved, then a crisis struck, but that sideroad somehow illuminated a new and exciting path. It happens all the time. 

            Like me, you might be asking, “What is God’s will for my life now?” You might feel a little bit lost in the fog, the upside-down, so to speak. Very rarely, we have these beautiful gifts of some extended time when we are just waiting to find out- what’s next? It can seem like forever, but rest assured, you are never forgotten by your Creator. 

            I’m not very good at being still and peaceful while I wait, because I am so impatient. It is such a comfort to know, we are always fulfilling our Life’s Purpose when our desire is to please God. When you’re seeking to do the next right thing, you can be at ease that you are living inside of your destiny.  

            Inspirational quote by Marianne Williamson


            Full quote:

            “We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

            -Marianne Williamson 

            You are an Overcomer- Never forget

            I just want to remind you of something that may have slipped your mind this morning, or this week, or this month since the seasons of life are changing and the colder months can cast a darker, colder shadow at times.

            Each morning, you might want to start fresh, and leave the past behind you, right? But please, friend, don’t forget everything you’ve overcome.

            Don’t forget the challenges which seemed impossible…when you said “there is no way I can get through this” but you did, and you are. Don’t ever forget.

            Don’t forget when you ran out of every last molecule of energy you had left to give, and you had no idea how you would keep going another moment longer…. but instead of giving up, you found something else inside of you that carried you forward. Don’t forget that driving force within you.

            Don’t forget when you had experienced all of the torture you thought you could shoulder. Don’t forget when heartbreak, physical pain, and sleepless nights pushed you past your breaking point. You said, “I can’t endure this nightmare for one more moment.”

            Remember when you were ready to forget it all?

            How are you still here after everything you’ve been through?

            Don’t forget how you made it!

            Don’t forget that force inside of you that begins when you’ve reached the end of yourself.

            Don’t forget.

            Ever.

            As seasons change, as life continues to surprise you, carry yourself as the OVERCOMER you are.

            ******

             

            Links to the featured artist: The Last Sparrow (artistic home furnishings on Etsy), Follow Voilet D’Art on Flickr, Twitter 

            Second Annual Disability Pride Parade in NYC!

            Today was the second annual Disability Pride parade in NYC! 

            Here in this video you’ll see disabled individuals dancing together to commence the opening of the parade. This dance speaks to the nature of disability- the diverse disabilities we can see with our eyes, and those which are invisible.

            As you watch the video, and think about some of the reasons for a parade like this…

            Many who have declining health feel ashamed of their bodies, and in time, may also feel ashamed of themselves. Friends stop reaching out as health issues just sound like “drama” to most people who have never faced a health crisis. So many have been forced to leave behind a career, or dreams they once held dear. Although it sounds harsh, it’s not uncommon at all for family members to tease or bully as individuals change physically and/or mentally, leaving them extremely self conscious. People can be very judgmental of body shapes, walking aids, and challenges that are unfamiliar. Others are quick to call out what they see as “inconsistencies.” Even strangers in public call those in wheel chairs “liars at times when they don’t understand that paralysis isn’t the only reason one might need the aid of wheels, or that a handicapped parking spot might be needed by someone who can walk normally.

            It’s no wonder that people start to lose their self worth, and isolate themselves as a disability changes them.

            You know what? FORGET EVERYONE!

            So, this isn’t a news flash, but people don’t get it, and they don’t get you. You, my dear, have so much to be proud of, and SO MUCH to share with the world! 

            You are an over-comer, a warrior, a never-giving-up, wheel rolling, cane sporting, walker toting, re-inventing, hope finding, doing it anyway, sometimes invisible illness (but never invisible)- always working to conquer your challenges: BRAVE fighter! Heck yes you should be proud!!!

            You don’t have to prove how much pain you’re in every day, how badly cancer changed your body, you don’t have to show your prosthetic, or tell anyone what your mental illness is… unless you want to. You are living proof of pure strength. You don’t have to work to be an inspiration to anyone, but hey- you already are, kiddo. You’re pretty spectacular just the way you are, in the body you have right now.

            Please don’t keep your amazing self on lock down. You’re the only you this world will ever have! Heart (((hugs))) going out

            What do you think of the Disability Pride Parade? How are you #DisabilityProud in your own life? 

            I don’t have the Privilege of opting out

            I can’t sleep. I feel so helpless and outraged over the losses and violence in the last week. I don’t want to pray about it. I don’t want to blog about it. I definitely don’t want to discuss it incessantly with others on facebook or twitter while we sit safely in our homes.

            I want to do something.

            I want to help.

            I want kids to stop being killed on our American streets: black kids, gay kids, cops… are we at war? Because we are tearing our own people apart.

            I don’t actually feel like I have a card to play. I’m a white woman in a safe neighborhood. I have plenty to eat. I am certain I’m privileged in ways that I haven’t even thought about.

            Until I was in high school, I was raised in a home with bars on the windows, guns shooting every night, across the street from the projects, all the kids in the community had to be inside by dark. We were the only white family around, but our neighborhood was so diverse, that I grew up without the concept of racial divisions. But this world is going backward. My mother said yesterday that this week reminds her of the riots of 1968 as tears rolled down her face. We are going backward.

            I told my sister this weekend that I’ve been having nightmares about her upcoming vacation to FL ever since 50 kids out at a gay night club were murdered. She said that she and my sister-in-law have been cautious after dark, and try to stay around areas with police even if they are out to eat after the sun goes down. They are an interracial gay couple, and theoretically this America accepts them today. But if you follow the news, you know that they BOTH remain in danger, so they show up in my bad dreams.

            There’s a whole lot of sharing right now about forgiveness, unity, and praying from white people like me, but where is the outrage? Where is the responsibility to DO SOMETHING?

            I might be white, but I don’t feel I have the privilege of doing nothing right now.

            We are ALL responsible, don’t you see? This our world.

            Use the hands and will and talents God blessed you with to rise up and help when something terrible happens in our country. Give blood, go to a peace rally, set up a GoFundMe page for one of the families involved in the shootings, organize a fundraiser in your community for an ending gun violence organization.

            Instead, a lot of people are saying things like, “all lives matter” not just “black lives matter.”

            Listen, it’s easy to say that when you aren’t part of a disenfranchised community who is desperate for a voice. If you have said that, remember that you have children right by you who don’t have enough to eat, young women, men and children being sold into sex slavery right in your community, and someone within walking distance is home-bound for the rest of their lives because we haven’t received competent medical care. These lives matter, and there are groups concerned to raise awareness for these victims as well.

            My point is that it’s hypocritical to give children with autism a voice who need it, and also say that the black community shouldn’t raise its voice also. To have an ALL LIVES MATTER world, we have to be equals, and ALL have an equally loud voice.

            You don’t have to use a hashtag or join a group of protesters to help build equality. Compassion, empathy, and action are the missing links that can help build bridges that we are craving for unity.

            I pray this video from poet, author, and life force of nature, Maya Angelou is a peace to your heart, and an encouragement for you as she is for me.

            I may feel helpless today, but never hopeless for change. Please be safe. God be with you.

             

             

             

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