The Friday 56: #228 – May 22, 2015

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This photo was part of a blog meme I did with Naomi Wittlin at www.poeticaperture.com.

My friend Deborah Weber has a way of introducing me to things that lead me to things, that lead me to other things. In my latest Alice-in-Wonderland romp through the Internet Looking Glass, I found this meme called The Friday 56. It’s apparently been going for some time as it is at #228 and it’s a weekly meme.

Anyways, you can learn more about it here but essentially the instructions are to pick up a book, any book, turn to page 56 and post a quote from somewhere on that page. I cheated a bit and went through a couple of books before I found a good one for you:

Nevertheless, his suspicion that plant tissues could pick up human thought and emotion slowly became more concrete in the light of Backster’s achievements. Lawrence was reminded that years previously Sir James Jeans, the British astronomer had written that ‘the stream of human knowledge is impartially leading toward a non-mechanical reality: the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter. We are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of this realm.’ (Page 56, The Secret Life of Plants, 1989.)

Eckhart Tolle has said, “The future is a thought form. No one has ever encountered it, except as a thought.” (Along similar lines.)

So, really, most of what we spend our mental energy with – past and future – are just thoughts. We create our entire reality around what is either behind us or in front of us and most of us spend very little time in what is here in this moment.

Part of the beauty of plants is that they live forever in the present moment. A flower does not worry about its life being so short. It just is. How would our lives be different if we did that? What does it mean to live in the present moment? Plant tissues pick up human thoughts and emotion simply because those are the energetic stamps at that moment in time. Each moment, we display an emotional field. What is that field like? Some might say, “he carries around a dark cloud”. This is what the plants are sensing. This is what everyone is sensing. The energy is palatable. Even though the thought forms that this person is thinking about are in the past or the future, what is in the right now moment is this dark energy, this “cloud”.

This cloud comes along with the thought forms, but is not reality. Reality is that everything is just fine right in this moment. Even in the very worst of situations, if you chop it up into tiny bite-sized bits of reality, you are fine. You are going bankrupt? Fine. What is happening right now, at this very second? Nothing. The not-fine part is from thoughts of the future but has nothing to do with the right now.

Our job is to bring it back to this moment. We will undoubtedly stray. We may get very caught up in many emotional or psychological games with ourselves, but we are free at any moment to just BE. The more you practice this, the better you will get at it. The more you practice it, the more it will become just the way you live your life. That is Tao.

I hope you will join us for this Friday 56 next time or perhaps you would also like to join me for our weekly #whatareyouworkingon series where we share what we’ve been working on… either way, it’s fun to connect with other bloggers! Thanks for stopping by!

The Conscious Parent: [Video] with Marie Forleo & Dr. Tsabary

Since we are studying The Conscious Parent through this blog, I wanted to share this video that Michele Bergh sent me today…enjoy!

If you want to read more on this, check out the COMMENTS that were generated when Marie Forleo posted this video discussion on her blog!

You can also check out my other posts on this topic for more about this book.

 

The Conscious Parent {Book Study}: Week 3

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We are in the third week of our Conscious Parent book study. This week, we are talking about creating a conscious environment in our homes for our children.

Throughout this book, the focus has been on us parents working on ourselves rather than trying to do or say anything that “fixes” our children. In this area of the book, more than any other, it was obvious that children very naturally have staying in the present (AKA: being conscious) figured out already and it is our culture and our parenting that messes it up.

Case in point: The Family Calendar. I think that our family is unusual in how little we actually have scheduled. Most families have a plethora of sports for each child, parents have meetings of whatever sort or sports of their own and of course there are the social gatherings. I was talking with a friend of mine about our calendars and I mentioned that I try and only schedule ONE thing per weekend. She was surprised by this. “How can you fit it all in?” Well, the truth is that I like my life to be quiet and calm. I don’t want to spend every weekend running around everywhere here and there (it often is filled with that ANYWAYS!) Because of this system, I chose my social engagements very carefully. I have many dear people in my life and I try to focus most exclusively on that small few. I may only see many of my friends once every few months, but this is OK. Our time together is precious and meaningful.

I cannot even imagine it being busier. My daughter is not in any sports or any after-school activities. I would actually like for her to be in something since she is an only child and this is one way for her to work on her social skills, but her preference is to just be at home like ours is.

All that being said, I have a lot of work to do when it comes to being present for my daughter. Just as I was putting together the topic for this post, she walked into the living room and I shooed her out. I want to write, undisturbed. I rarely ask for this sort of space to do my own thing so I felt justified – I normally write in the early hours of morning before anyone is up so that I can spend time when I am with my family being WITH my family, but this is definitely not how it always goes. This weekend was very busy with taking her out to a movie with her friends and hosting a sleepover so I guess I am not doing TOO bad, but still – I felt kinda bad for shooing her out to write about parenting her consciously! LOL.

Then there’s dinnertime. Ideally, I would ask Tatia to help me in the kitchen to cook something. This serves a multitude of purposes: 1) it helps me to spend some time helping her with her cooking skills and, God knows, this generation could use it! 2) it gives us time together. Even if we are measuring out flour and chopping veggies, we are being together. 3) it shows that what is IMPORTANT to our family is spending time to prepare and eat together.

What actually happens most days? I don’t think about dinner until oh, about 4:30 or 5 PM. Nothing is prepared, I have no idea what’s in the fridge and so we go out to eat. For us, going out to eat means a 20 minute drive to the nearby restaurant. Once there, we do have a rule that cell phones are not to come out at the table which is followed the majority of the time but on the way to the restaurant, Tatia’s nose is often in her phone browsing websites like Cracked and who knows what else. We don’t talk much with her on the way there.

In The Conscious Parent, Dr. Tsabary talks about how all this scheduling is based on the idea that the parents just are not able to sit still. I think that this is true for me. Even though I do not have a ton of things scheduled, I have a very difficult time quieting my mind and, if you’ve ever visited my #whatareyouworkingon posts you know how much I am working on! My mind is constantly either in the past worrying about how I did on something or in the future, wondering how I will accomplish all these things I want to do in my short little life.

“Worrying is a mask for fear of being present.”  ~Dr. Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent

Dr. Tsabary also talks about how anxiety (in the form of “busy-ness”) is due to our fear of death, ultimately. I think that she has a really good point there. She says that if we are able to face our death, we realize that we should stop wasting time. How many times have you heard stories of people who were faced with a near-death experience and they totally changed after that? If you were faced with death, what would suddenly fall off your “to do” list? What people would you stop hanging with? What activities would seem irrelevant?

Living our lives consciously is a HUGE undertaking, but to me it is one of the most valuable things I could do as a parent. I am in no way perfect, but I feel good about trying. Every day, I make little steps forward on being more conscious. They are little steps, but if I keep doing them every day I will be at least moving in the right direction.

What about you? What do you think of this? In what ways are you trying to be more conscious in your life? Tell us about it in the comments or join the discussion over on GoodReads.com!

I Ching #26: Great Restraint

 

 

 

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When you are accomplished, there is no need to prove yourself. You should move forward, i.e.: “cross the Great River” as it says in this hexagram of the I Ching. This hexagram is represented by Heaven under a mountain. Although mountains are strong, Heaven is all-encompassing.  If Heaven is contained within the boundaries of a mountain, there takes huge restraint to hold it in.

This restraint can have many faces. Perhaps someone you love is behaving recklessly and you are challenged by their behavior. A person of great restraint holds their tongue and lets the other person work through their own challenges. Another possibility is that someone is rude to you. Although it may be tempting to be rude back to them, a person of great restraint will not fall prey to the easy response of returning like with like.

In many of the variations of this hexagram, there is the suggestion to “cross the great river”. In the days when these hexagrams were first written, and even now in certain corners of the world, crossing a great river is a dangerous undertaking. River depth can be unpredictable, even when the river area is known. To “cross the great river” in modern terms is to undertake something difficult and unpredictable. The advice suggested by this hexagram is that you should go forward with the crossing if you have prepared yourself with great restraint.

People of virtue practice the qualities of virtue every day. Another suggestion made by this hexagram is to “not eat at home”. In Chinese culture, it is a good omen to share your meals with others when you have been fortunate. Eating at home signifies keeping your good fortune to yourself and this is not a good thing.

We all have been put here to accomplish great things – to cross great rivers – in our lives. If we are fortunate, our job is to share the good things we’ve learned and to bite our tongue when we know more than others in some areas. Everyone’s rivers are different, but you can be sure that we all have them. What is your great river? What is it that you are here to do? Be bold today. Take this sagely advice and move forward.

The Conscious Parent {Book Study}: Week 2

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For the second week of our Conscious Parent book study group, we are looking at the different stages of parenthood. As I read the book, I could not help feeling a bit disappointed that I did not find this book earlier in Tatia’s life. But it is what it is. It’s fine. Now, I am able to look back and see how the different stages were impacting Tatia’s life, whether I realized it or not.

Here is a brief summary of the stages of childhood. For each phase of parenting, we connect with our children differently based on where they are at physically, psychologically and emotionally.

Infancy. When your child is just a baby, they are very reliant on you for everything. If you are a first-time parent, this period can be very shocking as you are adjusting to your new life as a parent. Suddenly, your life is no longer your own and it can be both scary and exciting as you have this sweet little baby to hang out with every day! I can imagine that later children are less of an adjustment, but this phase still carries with it many sacrifices to your personal boundaries. During this first phase of your child’s life, the spiritual significance of this phase is that we are able to discover our capacity for giving. However impossible it seems to keep that baby fed, cleaned and happy, we do it. Willingly.

When your baby is an infant, he or she is observing everything that you do and forming their self-image based on how you respond to everything. For some parents, this is not a comforting thought. Some women go through traumatic births or they suffer from postpartum depression and thinking about such things may only exacerbate these feelings. It is very important to realize that the MOST important thing that you can do for your child(ren) is to practice self-forgiveness. No matter what happens, please forgive yourself.

Toddler. When your child is a toddler, they are finding their boundaries. They are both comforted and frustrated by the limits you set for them. Their JOB is to test those limits in order to feel safe. While it feels like “NO” is coming out of both your mouths way too frequently, this is an important time for your child to learn who they are. It is their first time to discover their own passions and feelings. As their parent, it is your job to practice setting clear boundaries while giving them enough space to explore the parts that are truly their own. Small choices is key in the phase. “Do you want peas OR carrots?” “Would you like to wear this shirt or THIS shirt?” SMALL choices make them feel safe and in control.

School age. During their school years, our children are seeking out friendships to help them define themselves. They still want us nearby, but they don’t want to hold our hands in public anymore. Our role as parents is to keep the boat steady as they sail the stormy seas of childhood. We are the anchors, but we need to give them a really long rope.

Teenage years. If you’ve been keeping a pretty tight rein on your children throughout their childhood, the teenage years can be a bit difficult as they are starting to leave the nest. They will need to learn how to fly and it is our job to make them practice – if not more for our own sake than for theirs! They still need us, but our role must be as a guide rather than a disciplinarian at this point. They need privacy and space and they need you to accept them AS IS. It is challenging when they sometimes seem like an alien has inhabited their body, but it is required.

Adult children. Although this book focuses primarily on children still at home, I believe that parenting continues for the rest of your life. My parents have continued to be a great help to me in my adult years, sometimes even more so than it seemed they were when I was growing up – mostly because I have now been an adult for much longer than I was a child. It is never too late to be a good parent.

In every stage, there is a unique opportunity for us as parents to reconnect with our role as parents. Parenting is one of the most intense spiritual quests that we can do in our lifetimes. It is certainly one of the most enduring challenges! If you would still like to join our group, it is not too late. It will be happening during this entire month over at GoodReads.com.  (The current month is May 2015, so if you are reading this post months later, you can still join us but we are probably on a different book!)

#Whatareyouworkingon has MOVED…

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Over the last few months, really since the Tao Tuesdays project ended in January of this year, I have been taking a bit of a different direction with my writing. I am still writing about Taoist philosophy, but I am also starting to write about things that are unrelated to the topic of this blog. So what is a girl to do? I did not want to close down this blog as the projects I do here are an important part of my own spiritual development, but I also wanted to give the other parts of me a chance to grow and develop without diluting this blog topic too much. So a few weeks ago, I created a new blog called My Artful Abundant Life. The website is www.myartfulabundantlife.com.

Now that my new blog is live, I am moving some of my projects over to the new blog. One of those projects is #whatareyouworkingon. I will also be sharing about simple living, food stuff, craft projects and recipes over there. I am keeping a few projects going here as well… I will continue to write my regular posts about the I Ching and I am keeping my posts about our Conscious Living Book Study here as well.

So from now on, please check in at www.myartfulabundantlife.com for future posts related to #whatareyouworkingon! Thanks!

I Ching #25: Innocence

A Lotus Pod

We are all in a state of becoming.

This post is #25 of 64 hexagrams in a series of posts about the I Ching, an ancient Taoist text that has many ties to the Tao Te Ching. For those of you new to this series, you may want to start by reading my post called “What is a Hexagram?” that helps to explain more about the general idea of the I Ching. If you are just starting this series, you may want to take a look at some of my other posts on the I Ching.

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Innocence

This hexagram is represented by Heaven over Thunder. The Chinese term for this energy is called Wu Wang, which has a double meaning: innocence and accident. The general idea of this hexagram is that you should live your life as well as you can. By that, I mean that you should take care to do the right thing in every circumstance, even when you know that no one is watching you. If you do so, you will prevent unnecessary problems in your life.

This weekend, we had a family situation. My daughter’s cellphone had gone missing. Fortunately, we were blessed with honest kind people who were able to set it aside for us until we were able to retrieve it, but it was a very disturbing experience. This was definitely a situation where an accident was placed in our path to test us. In this hexagram, it is suggested that when your innocence is true and honest, all things will work out in the end. My daughter has tried to take good care of her things. I know that it is hard sometimes, even for me as an adult to do this. Sometimes things go wrong and there is nothing you can do about it. This is when the innocence of wu wang takes place.

I am learning in my study of The Conscious Parent that any situation that occurs in my parenting is an opportunity for me to grow personally – especially those situations where we were tested like we were last weekend. It definitely threw me off my center. I have struggled myself with taking care of my things. I have had experiences where I have misplaced valuables, so my faulty modeling is partially to blame here.

The spiritual life is not easy. If we are to follow our true path, it is not a passive thing. We must always be diligent to do the right thing. We will fail sometimes, but that is part of the design. Our failures make us stronger in our weak spots. This hexagram reminds us to stay alert and do our best to keep our lives smooth and minimize our troubles.

What does this hexagram remind you of? Can you see a situation where this may have affected you lately?

 

The Conscious Parent {Book Study}: Week 1

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For the first week of our Conscious Parent book study group, we are working on getting to know our children in a whole new way.  As parents, we can sometimes become rather authoritarian in the way we deal with our children. I know that I do. One thing I learned from The Conscious Parent is that I need to be giving a lot less advice and listening a lot more.

This week, we are taking the NY Times Love Quiz with our kids. The quiz was originally posted to do with your spouse or significant other, but it can be adapted and taken with anyone, really. This quiz is really about doing more listening. What is important to your child or loved one? What are some of their biggest fears? Their biggest loves?

When I think of this, it reminds me of a quote that Naomi Wittlin had used on a recent post about parenting:

“To honor our child’s feelings is bedrock to effective parenting because it’s where connection is established. If a child doesn’t feel connected to us, our presence in their space immediately generates tension in them. They don’t see us as a partner and don’t sense we’ve come into their room in the spirit of an alliance. To them it feels like the two of us are worlds apart. Because they experience no meaningful connection with us, when we ask them to do a chore, it’s as if they are being ordered to do something by a drill sergeant—or worse, an enemy. This is why they either ignore our instructions or, if pressed enough, retaliate. When we react by punishing them, it reinforces their perception of us as their adversary, which results in increased hostility toward us.”

I would like to think that this sort of reaction is not what I have with my daughter, but there are days when I do experience this, like any parent of teens. My hope through diving deeply into this book is that I will find ways to practice being a better parent than I was yesterday.

If you would like to join our group, it is not too late. It will be happening during this entire month over at GoodReads.com.  (The current month is May 2015, so if you are reading this post months later, you can still join us but we are probably on a different book!)

#WhatAreYouWorkingOn – No. 5

Welcome! This is part of my weekly (Friday) series called “What are You Working On?”!

You can find out more about this challenge here or if you are interested in joining us, you can share photos with us on Instagram (#whatareyouworkingon) or join our Tao Te Ching Daily FB group for future prompts to remind you to share your week with us! Add your post to the Mr. Linky section at the bottom of this post if you want to add a link to your blog. Please be sure and check back and COMMENT on others in the challenge! 

Each week, I will offer a list of categories and what I am working on in each category. Other participants may have different categories to describe their own interests and projects. I hope you will join us!

What am I working on? Here are some things…

ART

OK, nobody officially said this but my #whatareyouworkingon posts are just wayyyyy too long. So I will attempt to make them shorter for you this week. More photos, less talk. This week’s art was knitting some bird nests. I made two this week to be sent to the Wild Care Bird Nest program. If  you are not a knitter, you can donate to help the baby birds as well. It was fun to make these nests and imagine the tiny birds being helped by them! This program is to create artificial nests for orphaned birds that are being nursed back to health at a bird hospital.

Here are some photos I took of the little lovelies… (with some of my bird sculptures volunteering to model!)…

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My birds were a bit camera shy, but they eventually got comfortable and even got a bit silly for that last shot!

I still need to make more gifts for my Pay It Forward Art Project. I haven’t forgotten! These last few weeks have felt a bit sloggy and I haven’t done much art. I am going to try and send out at least my first one VERY SOON! Once I know they are received, I will post photos.

 

HOME

Last weekend FLEW by and I was like, “Waitaminute!!” I did not get to my kitchen! Sigh. I’m working on a super secret project which I can’t tell you about yet, which fully distracted me. I did clean the tub, though, which badly needed it. That was about it on my home last weekend. It is Friday as I write this so today my plan is to work on my kitchen this afternoon! WITH PHOTOS!

For our SoulSpace Facebook group, we have been working on our clothes, shoes, coats, etc. All of this has spurred in me a renewed interest in what I am wearing on a daily basis.

Last week, I went through my shoes. I am happy to report that there was only one pair that I ended up getting rid of. Then, this morning I went through my clothes, coats and handbags. It was not an inspiring exercise for me. As I looked through all my stuff, I wondered if I just didn’t love clothes? It’s not like I haven’t been trying. I’ve been building a board on Pinterest called My Ideal Wardrobe. I’ve been shopping. My sister thinks it may just be that I am going through a phase where I am changing who I am. She could be right. I like to think that I am morphing into my coolest self and I just haven’t quite arrived yet. We shall see…

LEARNING/DISCOVERY

This week, I won’t talk about my Spanish or my cooking lessons because those have taken a back seat. This was a rest week for me, so I spent some time online. Here are some of the great discoveries I made this week in my online adventures…

Louis Weltzer. One of my favorite online jaunts this week was to the blog of a friend of mine, Louis Weltzer. If that name sounds familiar to you, it is because Louis is the guy that went through the entire Tao Tuesdays series with me! In this post, he was writing about the concept of evil. Louis has one of the most amazing minds I know. We got into quite an interesting debate on how to approach evil.

Jessica Brogan. I met a new blogger this week through our Inspired Blogging group on FB. Her name is Jessica Brogan and she is an artist. I like her. She’s a bit rough around the edges but she’s vulnerable too. Her writing is fresh and raw.

Sarah Fought. I suppose this link should be best put under the HOME category because it is about our dear Tidy Lady, Marie Kondo. This post is a personal account of Sarah’s experience with the Tidy Lady’s teachings and it is SO GOOD. She got me unstuck.

 

READING/BOOKS

The Conscious Parent. Today is the first day of our Conscious Living Book Club! This is the book that we are studying this month (May 2015) and I will be posting about it more during the month of May, so I won’t say a lot about it here except to say that part of my spiritual practice this week continues to be working on my awareness as a parent. I tested out one of the exercises on my daughter. If she knew that, she would not want to do it again with me, but I was sneaky and didn’t tell her! Heehee. It’s all good. If you want to know which exercise I did with her, you should join our group! I will post it in there during our book study.

The Untethered Soul. I started reading the book that we will be covering in next month’s Conscious Living Book Club group. I read part of it a few months ago and knew that it would be the perfect book for us to study together. I like to read the book before we study it so that I can prepare the exercises and posts ahead of time and spend my time during the study on the group and the participation. This book challenges us to take the “seat of our observing self”. Not sure if that is exactly what he calls it, but we are practicing being the observer of our mind. My mind is a super busy, crazy mind, so this is all good.

VB6. My husband is a meat and potatoes guy. I used to eat mostly vegan but once we started our “less than 10 grams of sugar” diet, it was tough to maintain both so I gave it up for a while. But since finding this book, I am considering doing this. I am finding the transition from “no added sugar” to “no meat/cheese/animal products before dinner” to be a challenging one, for some reason. Like this morning, for example. I was at Caribou and I remembered to ask for no cream in my coffee but I totally spaced the fact that my spinach swiss mini (the only low sugar thing on their menu) actually has CHEESE in it and I ordered one. Oh well. I will keep working on it.

 

BODY

I may have mentioned last week that I started a new challenge with a friend of mine to help us stay motivated to exercise regularly. The challenge is that we will text each other every day to report how many days we’ve exercised. For example, yesterday my text was “6 – walked to work”. Whoever gets to 30 days first gets to be treated to dinner out by the other one. So far, I’ve only missed two days and Ashley only missed one. I must admit, it does motivate me! Not that I would mind buying dinner for a dear friend who has taken on such a challenge, but it’s a fun way to play with it.

Tomorrow, I am doing a color run. I’ve never done one before. To be fair, I should call it a “color walk” because I have no intention of running but still. It’s 3 miles. And it raises money for technology in our school so I am happy to do it.

 

Well, like I said, I am going to try and keep this short so that’s it for today. I hope that you will join us in creating your OWN #whatareyouworkingon post or by taking some photos of your projects and posting them on Facebook or Instagram with the #whatareyouworkingon hashtag! It is FUN!

I haven’t had much luck with Mr. Linky, so I am trying out a new blog link-up tool called “SimplyLinked”. I hope you will play along & enter your #Whatareyouworkingon BLOG POST LINK below!

 

Book Study (May 2015): The Conscious Parent

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I am very excited for our Conscious Living Book Study group to start in a few days. Our first book in the group is called The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. I will be writing about it throughout the month of May (2015) on this blog and we will have accompanying exercises and discussions happening over at GoodReads. I hope you will join us. Even if you are not a parent or if you have grown children, this is a good book for learning about how we pass down our patterns from generation to generation, mostly unwittingly.

After putting together the SoulSpace Book Study on Facebook, I found this book to be quite challenging to put into a format where we could practice its principles and discuss it – in comparison.There are no clear cut STEPS to becoming a conscious parent. You just have to practice it.

For those of you who read my blog but aren’t familiar with GoodReads (or don’t want to be), I will walk you through some of what we will be talking about here on my blog. For the introduction, I am curious to find out from you the following information, if you are willing to share it…

  • Do you have any children? If so, what are their ages?
  • Are you a grandparent? If so, how many grandkids do you have and at what ages?
  • What sorts of challenges do you have with your role as a parent? As a grandparent?

If you want to tell us about yourself, you can just add a comment at the end of this post. I’d love to read about you. For myself, I have one daughter. Her name is Tatia and she is 13 but will be 14 in May, so she is into her teenage years. This is a public blog and I am sensitive to anything I say about her being visible on my blog to anyone who wants to read it, so I will refrain from writing too much personal about her here and leave that part for the GoodReads (private) group. I will say that she is a good kid. In Conscious Parent speak, my calling her a “good kid” might be creating an expectation that she pleases me. I am still working on that one.

In the first part of the book, Dr. Tsabary explains how it is natural for parents to try and imprint their expectations for life onto their own children. We treat our children as “mini-ME’s” and hope that they will do all of those things that we were not able to do in our lives. Or that they will follow in our successes. We also hope that they will not mirror our failures.

She goes on to explain that our children each have their very own path in life to follow and it has little to do with us. Yes, we birthed them. But this does not give us the right to decide how they are going to live their lives. This letting go begins with infancy and carries on until we die. It never really ends.

It is not too late to join us. The group is free and membership is private, so anything that you write in the group discussion can only be seen by members of the group and not by anyone else on GoodReads. CLICK HERE TO JOIN.

 

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