Category Archives: Mindfulness

The Meditation Path

365 days ago I started meditating. Truthfully, 365 days ago my therapist made me start meditating. She challenged me to do it twice a week. And I did it because I couldn’t NOT do a challenge. But it wasn’t pretty. I would put it off until the two days before I saw her. I begrudgingly took my meditative position on the floor with much sighing and fidgeting. But only after vacuuming, rearranging the pillows on the couch, doing dishes, brushing the cat and doing every other conceivable thing to procrastinate. Then I would meditate. For ten whole, excruciatingly long minutes. I would cross it off my to-do list with borderline violence, the pen pushing so hard on the paper it left a hole. I practically saluted my therapist when I reported I had indeed meditated two whole times in a single week — Mission complete, ma’am!

Basically I look like this. Except in my living room. In a bathrobe. And sometimes lying down.

Basically I look like this. Except in my living room. In a bathrobe. And sometimes lying down.

Then my therapist told me to meditate three times a week. I sighed. I rolled my eyes. I slumped down on my therapist’s couch. But then something happened. Somehow I began meditating more than three times a week. It’s possible that it had something to do with discovering Insight Timer, an meditation app. Not only does Insight Timer offer lots of guided meditations ranging in time from two minutes to one hour, it also keeps track of your stats.  It tells me how many days in a row I have meditated, my cumulative total session time, and (wait for it …) it has bar graphs! EEEEE!!! (And no, I’m not getting paid tow rite this post.)

Oooh! A Bar Graph!!! Ahhhh!

Oooh! A Bar Graph!!! Ahhhh!

I KNOW – IT’S AWESOME. Especially for a slightly competitive person  who might possibly thrive on PR’s and milestones. I know some of you are probably thinking, “But meditation shouldn’t be a competitive sport. The Buddha wouldn’t approve!” Fair point. But here’s the thing, I’m no longer doing it to beat last week’s minutes or to get to the next milestone of consecutive days. At least not primarily. I do it because it’s a daily habit. If a little competition with myself helps me cultivate a healthy habit, well . . . bring it on!

You’re probably wondering how meditation transformed my life. Have I miraculously  stopped yelling at my kid? Am I soaking up every moment of every day in a state of perpetual bliss? Am I more patient and loving with my spouse? The answers are no, no, and no.

I still yell, although I am slower to anger and much more aware of when I am about to lose it.  I have a deeper understanding that not every moment is meant to be soaked up and loved. Some of our life involves waiting patiently for change, seeking solace in the impermanence of every moment — good or bad. AND THIS IS OKAY. I asked Demetri if he thought I was more patient since I began meditating and he looked at me blankly, paused for about 20 seconds and said, “You started meditating?” He then became very busy with his glass of wine. I took that as a ‘no’. But I am on the path of being more patient and loving with myself. And that, my friends, is no small task. A year ago I couldn’t even find the path, but now I’m on it. I AM ON THE PATH. Or at least I’m on a path. Semantics.


A New Set of Wheels

Over the weekend I was pushed around in a wheelchair. In a very busy store full of not-so-jolly holiday shoppers. By Zoey. That’s right, my six year-old pushed me around in a wheelchair. The kid can corner like nobody’s business. Yes, we might have taken out an entire rack of bras, a cardboard cutout of Princess Elsa, and a bin of fleece blankets that were, frankly, piled way too high. But no one was hurt, not even Elsa. It’s possible we also dented the back of a metal shelf, but it’s the back, who cares. Zoey abandoned me only once, thoughtfully parking me in front of a Ghirardelli chocolate display and saying, “Here, you look at your dreams — I have to go look at those princess watches.”

(pause for wheelchair selfie!)

The reason I was in a wheelchair is this: 15 months ago I got plantar fasciitis in both feet after I spent a weekend walking around in flip flops. Except, of course, it wasn’t normal plantar fasciitis. “Normal” being the kind that responds to physical therapy and/or cortisone shots. In fact, those things made it worse. Way worse. Like I-had-to-crawl-around-the-house-on-my-hands-and-knees worse. So then doctors started saying maybe it wasn’t really plantar fasciitis. It was more plantar fasciitis-y and maybe it was fibromyalgia presenting in a new way. (This is what doctors generally say to me when they don’t know what’s going on or how to help. Sometimes it is fibro and sometimes it’s something else — like strep or a torn lateral meniscus.) They doctors started saying things like I would “just have to live with it” — live with this foot pain that prevented me from walking more than a short block.

This pissed me off. Fortunately this anger propelled me head first into finding a cure. “I’ll show those know-it-all doctors,” I thought. “I will find a way to get better and then I WILL RUB IT IN THEIR SMUG DOCTOR FACES!!” So I made my way to an acupuncturist who did make me better. For a while. For a blissful 4 weeks. Now my left foot is worse than before. It’s a throbbing painful mess. And I’m worried that maybe I will just have to live with it because acupuncture isn’t working this time. I’m scared I will have to live with a limited ability to walk.

Clearly people have figured out to live with way worse situations. I get that. But I have always loved my feet. Not the way they look (although if I’m being honest, my feet have been described as “long and beautiful”), but I love my feet for what they do. I love walking. Walking in my neighborhood. Walking along the Charles river. Walking to get tea with a friend. I am over the moon about running. I L-O-V-E to run. I have always loved to run. I remember sprinting across the bright green of a soccer field in third grade and thinking about what a joy it was — the sun on my face, my lungs bursting, my feet pushing off the grass and then flying through the air. I felt the same in high school and college. And even a few years ago when I very slowly ran a half marathon, I ran with the deep thrill of loving each step. Through some miracle, I never took running for granted. I still dream about running, my feet moving slowing up and down while I sleep.

Now I can’t run. Or even walk very far. It’s painful just to walk the short distances through my house. It hurts to stand. But, wow, do I have a new appreciation for standing. We stand when we cook, when we shower, when we wait to pick up our kids from school. We stand when we talk to other people, when we put away groceries, when we move the laundry from the washer to the dryer. We stand all the freaking time. I am able to stand, but only for a short time, and always with pain.

Hence the wheelchair. I can stand. I can walk. And I’m sure I could run if it meant saving Zoey from an oncoming semi-truck. But I’m not like I was. I’m world has become even smaller because of this new physical limitation and I’m a smidgen angry about it. Once in a while, late at night, my heart feels broken open and raw because of the things I can’t do. Not to be overly dramatic or anything.

But here’s what I can do that I couldn’t do before: I can race around the gleaming floors of a store, my daughter pushing me too fast and taking the corners too hard. She is giggling, high and sweet, her head at the same level as my ear. I can hear her breathing fast and deep. I can imagine the feel of her fluttering heartbeat in in the palm of my hand. This is a new adventure. For both of us. And there’s nothing to do but laugh when an entire rack of triple-D bras come cascading down on our heads. There’s nothing to do but laugh, take the next corner even faster, and aim to take down the entire display of Disney princesses.

“Onward ho!”


The Hamster Wheel

Having chronic illness is a lot like being on a hamster wheel. We’re going-going-going! We’re keeping up! Woo-hoo! Check us out! And then . . . WHOOPS! We get thrown off the wheel. We have to lay in those damn wood shavings for a bit and then, eventually, we have to get back up. Getting back up is harder than it looks. Because it actually doesn’t look like much of anything. It looks like laying low. It looks like starting from the very beginning . . . again. And most of all it looks like teeny tiny hamster-sized steps.

I fell off the wheel about a week ago. I’m fatigued beyond reason. The pain is ramped up. But those two things I can deal with. It’s this last thing that’s keeping me down. My feet hurt. Like really hurt. Just walking through Whole Foods to get five items is too much. Walking the dog to the end of the block is beyond my ability. Standing and talking to another parent at school pick-up is torture.

And do you know what caused this mess? Going to a craft store and standing for too long. A CRAFT STORE. This is not a cool story. It’s not a hey-I-apprehended-a-purse-snatcher-over-the-weekend story. It’s not even an I-ran-a-10k-this-weekend story. It’s a lame story. I mean, if I had been horribly burned by a glue gun or if a shelf of early Christmas decorations had fallen on me, that would be something. But no. My story is that I was at a craft store, you know, standing still.

All of last school year and through the summer I dealt with worse foot pain that this. But then I started acupuncture and it got almost completely better. And for some reason, this getting better and then getting worse has thrown me off the wheel. It’s thrown me off hard. Getting better-ish and then getting worse-ish over and over and over again is what chronic illness is all about. And I thought I’d made my peace with it. But apparently my feet haven’t.

I’m trying to remember all the things that help me get back on the wheel of relative health. Or at least of relative peace in my mind and heart. So here is what I know about surviving the worse-ish part of chronic illness:

1. Keep any health related appointments.
It’s tempting to hole up and stay buried under a blanket with a bag of chocolate chips. But if there’s any possible way to keep my appointments I do it. I may show up in sweat pants with unwashed hair, but I show up. Yesterday I went to acupuncture and today I am going to therapy. HA! I am SO winning this one!

2. Meditate.
Check! Today I’ve already meditated once. Lately though I’ve been meditating twice a day. I always use guided meditations because my mind is too jumpy to be left on it’s own. Meditating is soothing and lets me have a moment of peace in my body. And, frankly, in times like this, it is something to do. I can only read or watch tv or do anything that involves standing (i.e.- cooking) for so long before my body’s had enough.

3. Do something nice for someone else.
It’s good for me to get outside my own head and think about someone else. And actually doing something for someone else is not only a distraction, but it makes me feel useful. I made chocolate covered strawberries for the neighbor . . . and yes, I totally licked the bowl. Gold star for me!

4. Remember that I am like the weather.
This means remembering that my pain, my fatigue, my anger are like the weather — if I wait just a minute it will change. The shift may be subtle. But what I’m feeling now is only that – now. Knowing that this isn’t forever is a huge relief. That’s right, baby! I’m like a hurricane and a spring day all in one!

5. Look at my thoughts, not from them. 
I’m trying really hard to observe my thoughts from the shore instead of putting myself right in the middle of the class five thought rapids. This looks like me going, “Hey, look! Here comes a thought! I’m feeling anger at being physically limited and in pain. What an interesting thought. Let me watch it float on down the river” vs. “OHMYGOD I AM TOTALLY DROWNING IN PAIN AND ANGER AND I CAN’T A BREATHE AND I AM GOING TO DIE HERE IN THIS SUPER PAINFUL AND SCARY MOMENT!” I get an A for effort on this one. So that translates to  . . . a half a point?

6. Write.
Writing every day makes me feel useful. Working on projects makes me feel connected to a larger timeline. It lets me leave my body and go to a place other than pain. And hey, look! I’m writing now! Another point for me!

7. Have something good to read.
Please. I always have something good to read. It’s an escape hatch.

8. Have something good to watch.
Okay, so I’m struggling with this one. I need a new show. I tried to watch the free episode of Homeland last night but then I realized that I’m behind by at least one season. *sigh*

9. Eat healthily.
I’m all over this one! Stuffed zucchini and peppers has already been made and it’s in the fridge waiting to be heated up for tonight! I. Am. Awesome.

10. Connect.
I feel better when I reach out to friends and family. A phone call, an email, whatever. Anything to keep my world from getting too small. So if I call you today, please pick up!

So, basically, I’m winning. Do you hear that, chronic illness??? I. Am. Winning. I’m doing what I know I need to do. And I guarantee it’s WAY harder than it looks. But this how I’m fighting. This is how I am strong. See you back on the wheel, baby!

What do you do when you’re feeling worse-ish?

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A Happy Life (warning: sentimental)

Last night I put Zoey to bed. We read some Harry Potter and then we sat in the dark listening to “The Rainbow Connection” by Sarah McLachlan. I sat in rocking chair while Zoey was curled like a comma under her fleece blanket on the bottom bunk. Her blue nightlight glowed softly in the corner and her dolls were perfectly arranged on the floor next to her bed. Zoey gripped two lovies in the crook of her arm – a pink owl and a slouchy panda bear. I looked around Zoey’s room. On the top bunk sat a large purple and pink unicorn, a witch’s hat, and Zoey’s soccer uniform (which she lays out every Monday for the following Saturday). From the walls hung one of her finger paintings,  a picture of Mickey Mouse, and over the windows, two yellow and pink curtains I sewed for her. A mobile of our solar system spun lazily over our heads, all the planets in shadow. On the floor were various books, an old magazine with a picture of an arctic fox on the cover, and a pair of crumpled footie pajamas that hadn’t yet made it to the hamper. I rocked softly and wished with all my might for Zoey to have a happy life. A life in which she finds her place. A life in which she loves and is loved by others. A life that feels cozy and safe and wholly her own.

I sat there rocking and wondered what it is that my precious daughter will remember. Will she remember how we sat side by side for three hours, each making a holiday wreath? How our shoulders bumped as I reached to glue down a piece of yarn for her? Will she remember dancing in the kitchen to “Proud Mary”? And how we sat on the living room floor together – me combing out the short fluffy fur on her stuffed animals and her affixing brightly colored and fiercely knotted ribbons? Will she remember my apple pie and how I always make a little crust heart with her initials to put on top?

Or will she remember how often before dinner all the little frustrations get to me – everything magnified by fibromyalgia pain? Will she remember how I was snappish and couldn’t be pleased? Will she remember Demetri and I exchanging words in the too bright light of the hallway – the exact tone in which we hurled feeling at each other about something so small that it shouldn’t have been given voice in the first place?

Or maybe she’ll remember it all. Maybe she’ll remember the shadows and the light. Maybe growing up here will leave a few tender places, small little bruises on her heart. Maybe growing up here will help her blossom like the first thick, strong flower of spring.

When I get right down to it, I don’t wish for my daughter to go to Harvard or for her to be famous or rich. I wish for her to have inquisitiveness and strength. I wish for her to have enough. To laugh easily. To love and be loved. And I wish for her to always want to come home.

apple picking

Hey you! You’re Doing It Wrong (Again)!

Okay, so this came up in my Facebook feed this morning:
Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 7.37.34 AM


Let’s look at the tag line, shall we?
“In a brain scan, relational pain–that caused by isolation during punishment–can look the same as physical abuse. Is alone in the corner the best place for your child?”

First of all, I’m not buying that a) having my child sit on the stairs (or in the corner) for 2 minutes with me two feet away qualifies as “isolation” and b) that a time out is the same as beating a child with my fists. Can we all just agree that equating sitting in the corner for a few minutes with physical abuse is . . . crazy? It minimizes the experience of physical abuse, a real and horrible experience for too many kids. And it piles on the guilt to any parent who ever put a child in time out. Which is just about every parent I know, myself included.

I hate this kind of thing. I hate it when people — especially other parents and “professionals” — use fear and guilt to sell their product.Doctors, therapists, and researchers are always telling us there’s a better way. Give it time and then they’ll tell us this better way is actually detrimental, all the while pointing the finger at us. I’m over the whole trend of telling parents we are doing it wrong: We’re feeding our kids the wrong foods. We’re not putting them to bed wrong. We’re giving the wrong consequences.  And the worst one: the way we are loving and connecting with our child is wrong.

Whatever we do seems to be labeled as “not enough” or “wrong” by someone because it’s not their way and/or it’s not giving 100% of ourselves 100% of the time. Maybe we checked Twitter on the 12th round of Candy Land. Or possibly we dared to put ourselves before our child — “No, Mommy can’t have a tea party with you right now. Mommy needs to take a nap because she has a headache.” We have committed the cardinal sin: we were not present for our child. We are bad people and harmful parents. There are books and blogs that tell us so.

These books and blogs try to sell us a quick fix, an easy way to be a “good” parent: Have a sleep schedule! Put down your laptop! Give hugs instead of time outs! I want to tell these people that parenting is scary and lonely and that there is no one answer. Parenting can’t be judged in one moment or with one approach, otherwise we would all fail. Parenting is a layering of moments over years, not one afternoon. I want to tell these people that in each moment, we are doing the best we can with what we have at the time. It’s not always perfect or pretty, and sometimes it’s not even “good”. But we go on to the next minute, the next day, the next year.  We keep doing. And what I want these people to see, to really see, is that we’re doing a damn good job.

And then I wan’t them to give us chocolate and fall to their knees with apologies for the pain, guilt, and divisiveness they have caused. I suppose we can let up to go work on their new book, “You Are Awesome and You’re Doing Everything Right”.

Leave My Dirty Dishes Alone

I recently read a Facebook post by a popular blogger about seeking out beauty in all the parts of our lives — the worn out parts, the broken parts, the every day parts. The post is going viral so you’ve probably read it. It”s on a blog I love by a writer I respect. At first, I was thinking, Right on! Yay beauty! Then the post mentioned dirty dishes. I felt my heart growing tight and small. I felt my mind start to put up its fists for a fight.

Uh-oh, I thought. I stopped reading. I took a deep breath, and I started again from the beginning. I was thinking that maybe this was something I really needed to pay attention to. I was thinking that maybe I was having that oh-man-I-am-about-to-learn-a-reaeeeelly-important-life-lesson-that-might-be-easier-not-to-learn feeling. Because sometimes that’s how my mind works — the thing I most need to learn is the thing I fight the hardest against.

So I kept reading reading reading. I set it aside. I read it again. A let a day go by. I re-read. A few more days passed. I read it again. And each time, I just felt . . . tired.

I understand the post. I really think I do. The post is about gratitude and finding beauty in all areas of our life — including dirty dishes, cluttered houses, and aging, painful bodies. I get it. I can see the appeal of it. And I can most certainly see the beauty in it. I can even do it some of the time. But it comes down to this: I need people to leave my damn dirty dishes alone.

I’m all for joy and gratitude and beauty. I can find beauty in a lot of things. The double dimple in my daughter’s cheek, the deepness of the sky just as twilight seeps into the yard, a Lindt chocolate ball. I am grateful for so, so many things. Sometimes I am so grateful, it brings me to tears. But I’m tired of feeling like I’m not grateful enough or joyful enough, and like I’m not finding beauty in enough things. I’m tired of everything having to mean something. Do dirty dishes have to mean I am lucky enough to have a family and food to feed them? Do dirty dishes have to mean I’m a mother who can’t keep her house clean? Do dirty dishes have to be yet another commentary on my life, good or bad, and how I choose to live it?

Sometimes my dishes are just dirty dishes. I can glare at them or smile at them or leave them to soak in the sink. But they are just dishes. They are not a sign that my life is lived well, or not. They are not a marker of imperfect beauty or unexpected joy. Maybe the dinner that came before the dishes – the one where someone laughed so hard that peas came out her nose – that was beautiful and joyful. (And kind of gross.) But the dishes? Not so much.

I don’t want to feel pressure to look for beauty or dig for gratitude. I just want to be okay with whatever I am in the moment. Happy, thankful, sad, resentful, peaceful. In fact, that’s what I’m trying really hard to do. Be here. Be now. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? Being present for this and this, and oh yeah, this too — no matter what it is.  And, quite frankly, being present most of the time is pretty damn hard.

We are all in this moment – whether it’s beautiful or painful or lonely – until it turns into something else. Which it will. When the beauty comes — which it will, oh it most certainly will — I want it to surprise me, smack me upside the head. I want the joy and gratitude to lift me off my feet. I don’t want to be squinting my eyes and papering over my thoughts to make beauty a trick of the light.

Life is hard. Life is beautiful. But it’s the movement between those two states that creates the gratitude and joy. Sometimes life is a gentle flow, and sometimes it’s a head on collision. But in all the crashing and the drifting — in all the motion — just let me be present. Don’t mess with my dishes.

When I do the dishes, let me feel the tickle of warm water over my hands. Let me lose myself in the rhythm of the scrubbing and the rinsing. Let the sounds of my daughter and husband laughing in the other room wash over me. Don’t make me turn it into something else. Let me do the dishes. And then let me move on to the next thing, the next moment of my life. Let the dishes be done, or let the dishes stay dirty, and that is all.




Jealous Joy – My Messy Beautiful

messy beautiful

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

Lately I have been working on the Buddhist practice of mudita — cultivating joy in the joy of others. It sounds nice. It sounds very beautiful and I-am-one-with-the-univese-y. And it is beautiful . . . when you are cultivating joy in the joy of someone you love. Or even like. However, it can get  can get slightly messy when practicing mudita with a total stranger.

For example, I love running. L-O-V-E love. I can’t run anymore because of fibromyalgia and plantar fasciitis in both feet (what my doctor calls a “medical unlikelihood”). Sometimes I have trouble walking. And occasionally, it’s agonizing to even touch my feet to the floor. When I used to see a runner lithely prancing by, my mind would go through the whole life-isn’t-fair and I-have-been-struck-down-by-a-chronic-illness thing. It made me feel dark and muddy inside. Like something had clogged up my heart.

Then I started trying mudita. At first it was a “fake it ’till you make it” kind of thing. “Look at that runner! Look how the sun is shining on her shoulders and her body is strong! Joy to you, runner-I-have-never-seen-before-and-never-will-again, joy to you! Have a good run!” Translation: I’m jealous of you and your running and I sort of wish you would get a leg cramp and have to sit on that bench so I didn’t have you watch you doing something I miss so terribly much. Also, I wish you didn’t look quite so good in your sports bra. 

But I practiced and practiced. The things, the good things, I was saying began to be true. I found joy in watching someone else run. I re-experienced my own joy of running. I remembered running strong, running beautiful, and, um,  running slow. (Just keepin’ it real.) My heart began to unclog. Mudita as Drano.

I hubristically (is that a word?) dusted off my hands, threw back my head — my hair streaming out behind me like beautiful, non-gray, ribbons, (obvs.) — and said to the universe, “I CAN cultivate joy in the joy of others! Bring. It. On.”

And then the universe did. Because practicing mudita with a stranger is hard, but practicing it with someone you dislike severely and who has hurt you deeply, is, well, VERY messy. One might even refer to it as a “shit show.”

The other day I was on Amazon, trying to decide if I should buy “Frozen” or “It’s Not the Stork: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends” for my five year old. I got distracted by the Best Sellers List. And there, in the top 20, was a book by FFWHM, Former Friend Who Hurt Me. A YA bestselling book. The exact kind of book I am currently writing and trying to sell. A book by someone who I helped start his writing career, who then hurt me, and then acted like I no longer existed.

Tears pricked at my eyes. I thought about how it REALLY isn’t fair. And how he REALLY doesn’t deserve it. I mean, FFWHM is not kind to small, furry animals or children. He once ran over a squirrel on purpose. He tips poorly. Also, he wears sandals with socks. Black socks. He doesn’t hold the door open for people behind him. He doesn’t share his fries. And he doesn’t like ice cream. COME ON. Who doesn’t like ice cream?!

As I saw his book (it even had a cool cover), I wished him a lot of things. Bodily harm. Baldness. Plantar fasciitis. None of them were joy. I took a breath. Then I took many more. I shut my laptop and walked away. I meditated for 25 minutes. I focused on my breathing, on the sun glinting through the window, the new chutes of green in our yard promising flowers.

But really, I thought about him. I thought about how FFWHM was successful where I was not. I thought about how FFWHM was making me feel small and unimportant and not enough of anything. HOW COULD HE DO THIS TO ME? AGAIN?

When I was done meditating, I stalked around the house slamming drawers and doors saying, “I (slam) wish (slam)  you (slam) JOY (slam slam).” I tried again, “Your ****** joy is my ******* joy.” But, of course, none of it was joy. I was slinging fear and hate and jealously. And the thing I really didn’t want to admit was this: I had brought it all upon myself. I was deep in the messiness of life, the messiness of mudita, and I knew it.

I meditated again on self compassion. I ate several chocolates. I went for a walk. I ate several chocolates. I went to the gym. I ate a brownie. I kept trying for joy. I kept trying when I picked my daughter up from school. I kept trying as I chopped vegtables for dinner. Joy joy joy. I kept trying as I curled up under the covers to cry. But all I kept getting and giving was jealous jealous jealous. Meanness meanness meanness. The messy, muddy cloginess getting wider and deeper inside me. I kept trying for two days. When I walked the dog. As I caught up on email. As I bought fresh baked bread from the store. But it was a no go: jealous jealous jealous. Mean mean mean.

But then, when I wasn’t even trying, I felt a tiny bit of joy echo in the clogged up chamber of my heart. I felt joy for FFWHM resonate inside of me. For that second (or maybe half a second) I cultivated my joy through his joy. And just like that, DRANO. My heart was clear and beautiful.

Full confession: I didn’t buy his book. I have other things to read, to look at. Besides, I like to keep my head held high when I travel that well-worn path between the messy and the beautiful. I like to see all the good stuff that’s coming.


When is the last time you got joy from someone else?

"My Blossoming Heart" by Christina Chambers

                      “My Blossoming Heart”                                by Cristin Chambers