I is for Improvise

(Excerpt from my book, “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance”)

We all improvise on a daily basis. We just aren’t aware of it because it happens so naturally. When we have spontaneous conversations with people during our daily interactions we are improvising. Our dialogue is not “memorized” or practiced. Tapping into this natural improv skill has helped me in dealing with my kids and with not-so-great life situations.

People tell me it makes them tired just watching all the adventures my kids and I have. We really don’t do that much. It just seems that way to those on the outside of our little world. By nature, I am an introvert. I love staying home; but I also know I want my kids growing up learning that you can turn just about anything into an adventure. Be spontaneous. Making things up as we go along is the ultimate adventure. It may not be possible to do this all the time, but with practice you can incorporate it at every opportunity. Our kids will learn how to tap into their own improvisational skills the more they see us doing it. By our example, they will learn how to turn the everyday into an adventure and how to cope when things don’t go their way.

Recently we arrived at an event that my kids had been anticipating all day. As we got closer to the building we saw a line that snaked around the entire building. There was no way I was going to stand in that line. Fortunately, Thomas and Lillian agreed; but they were still disappointed. This was an opportunity to improvise and save the situation. On the way home we stopped at one of our favorite places in Reno, Audrey Harris Park. The earlier excitement in the car returned as we made our way. It’s not really much of a park. It’s very small, with only a couple of benches and it sits at the edge of a ridge. It’s a special place to us though. I am in love with the amazing view of Reno and the skyline which infuses me with peace and awe. I take joy in the drive there and the drive back home. Thomas and Lillian enjoy the view too. More than that, it has become a special place for the three of us as a family. What a great day!

Being a single parent to Thomas and Lillian has indeed been an adventure. In fact, my entire life is a great improvising adventure. Being that I am a procrastinator, with an added pinch of spontaneity, you could say that I am quite the adventure for my kids. Even though I make much of our escapades up as I go along, it is perfect, and I look forward with a happy, smiling heart to every single adventure yet to come for me and my little family.

Tip for the Journey:

Find some time during your day NOT to have a plan. No planned activity, no schedule to follow. Wait until that specific moment and ask yourself what you would like to do for the next hour or two. If you are with your kids, ask them what they would like to do, what kind of an adventure they would like to go on. Kids can come up with some pretty amazing ideas for adventures. Most likely you will not really be able to have the exact adventure they suggest, but this is where improvisation comes into play. As parents, we improvise all the time, and don’t even realize it; when a toy breaks, or the scissors are missing, or they want something to use as a ramp to play cars. You name it! Practice transferring this great skill to other areas to create peace in your life.

When we aren’t happy or not truly living in the present moment, it’s hard to improvise. Practice keeping yourself in the present moment. As often as possible repeat thoughts and activities that help you to pay attention to the present moment, experience joy, and be inspired. When you live in the present moment you are better equipped to tap into your improvising skills, be spontaneous, and go with it.

Heartfuly Inspired,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

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Book Musings: Snowflakes and Love and Words

Snowflake Bentley Book January 2016

Snowflake Bentley (amazon affiliate link)

We enjoyed this book to the moon and back! Awesome!

“The average dairy farmer gets up at dawn because he has to go to work in the cow yard. I get up at dawn, too. But it is because I want to find some leaf, hung with dew; or a spider web which the dew has made into the most delicate ropes of pearls ….

I take my camera with me, get down on my knees in the wet grass, and photograph these exquisite bits of nature. Because I do this I can show these lovely things to people who never would have seen them without my help.

They will get their daily quart of milk, all right. Other farmers will attend to that. But I think I am giving them something which is just as important.” -W.A. Bentley

How to Expand Love Book February 2016

How to Expand Love (amazon affiliate link)

“The external emanates from the internal. If your motivation is coarse and rude, it will be felt no matter how pleasurable the circumstances. Your internal state is most paramount. If you become overwhelmed by mental discomfort, external things will not help at all.

However, if internally there is love, warmth, and kindheartedness, external problems can be accepted and faced more easily.”

Incredible book! xoxo

Noah Webster and His Words January 2016

Noah Webster & His Words (amazon affiliate link)

In 1828, after 20 years of research and writing, Noah Webster’s “American Dictionary of the English Language” was published.

He gave it to America with these words: “To my fellow citizens …. for their happiness and learning …. for their moral and religious elevation … and for the glory of my country ….” …

Team TLC LOVED this book!

Blessings,

Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Did you know I wrote a book? It’s titled “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance” and you can read more about it here.

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G is for Gift

(Excerpt from my book, “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance”)

Each and every person on this Earth is unique, and holds a gift to share with the World . . . our true selves. This includes those in our society who have a handicap, disabilities, and those with special needs. Many of us keep our true selves buried deep within, as I did, for fear that we will be considered different and unaccepted. Some of us just need a little extra help in the form of guidance to nurture and grow our special gifts. Okay, maybe a lot of extra help! Everyone benefits when we let our differences and gifts radiate and glow.

Our differently-abled children simply process the world, information, and life, differently than we do; but they are in good company. There have been many throughout history who also processed differently; like Albert Einstein; Michelangelo; Thomas Edison; Amelia Earhart; and Steve Jobs, to name a few. They had amazing, life changing, life improving gifts, and were successful in spite of their label as freaks and kooks. Today the labels may have changed, but the thoughts still remain.

Lillian is a young lady who shines like no other, and has a beautiful inspiring energy about her. She and children like her teach us lessons about acceptance and change. This is one of their gifts. As an integral spoke in the wheel they can turn around societal and stereotypical views that they don’t have anything to offer; are a drain on our country’s resources; or views that they, and their family are unhappy and should be pitied.

Another one of Lillian’s gifts is showing us the benefits of embracing technological innovation, and the shift in the way we communicate. Technology can be life changing and life improving for some amongst us, and should be approached with an open mind. We no longer solely communicate with our mouths and voices as a society. A great majority of us use technology and social networking sites to stay connected, communicate, and conduct business.

On a beautiful summer day in 2009, I visited Lillian at school. Her class was at recess. As I stood chatting with Lillian’s teacher, I was scanning for Lillian among the sea of kids. My eyes landed on a petite young lady pulling a cart behind her. Yes, that was my Lillian, pulling a cart loaded with her DynaVox unit. Tears welled in my eyes, a lump formed in my throat, and my knees got weak. I thought, “There has to be something better.” I made a firm commitment to myself and to Lillian in that moment that I would find something more mobile and compact for her to use to communicate, something that did not make her stand out. I began monitoring the use of keywords and phrases like speech impaired, nonverbal, and AAC on Twitter and Google Alerts. Almost immediately I came across Twitter mentions of an application for the iPhone and iPod touch by the name of Proloquo2Go that had just been released four months earlier. Proloquo2Go is a communication solution with natural sounding text-to-speech voices for people who have difficulty speaking. I researched a bit more, went to the Apple store, and bought Lillian an iPhone. With Proloquo2Go installed, I gave it to her that day when I picked her up at the bus stop. A meeting with the school followed that same week to inform them she would no longer be using the DynaVox and would be using the iPhone instead. Lillian figured out the iPhone and Proloquo2Go within a week. This was technological innovation at its absolute best! Turning Views Foundation’s Gift-a-Voice Project was birthed from this experience (Learn more at www.TurningViewsFoundation.org).

Today, our communication methods have shifted and are literally evolving to include more of our society than ever before. When a mother of a speech impaired, or nonverbal child “hears” “I Love You” or “Mom” for the first time, it touches their heart like nothing else can. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 7.5 million people in the United States have trouble using their voices for one reason or another. This includes people who are nonverbal, speech impaired, autistic, hearing impaired or who have dysarthria, apraxia, or aphasia due to chromosome abnormalities, Multiple Sclerosis, stroke, Cerebral Palsy, brain injury and many other conditions.

To fully grasp the impact technology has in your daily life, take note throughout your day just how often you communicate using technology via email, text or social networking sites. If you still conduct many of your conversations over the phone, or face to face, stop and think, “How would I be having this conversation if I did not have the use of my voice, or if I could not articulate what I’m trying to say?” There are options now that weren’t available years ago. One of Lillian’s gifts is using my voice to show how technological innovation is benefiting society.

Our children with special needs are not broken, and do not need to be fixed. When we use negative words like “problems”, “cannot”, and “deficits” to define disability it is difficult to see the positive gift our child possesses. Focusing on what our child cannot do, is a barrier to seeing their gifts. When we accept that it is their “normal” to have special needs; our eyes can be opened to see our child’s gift that probably has been right there all the time.

Some will continue to only view those differently-abled as having something wrong with them and being limited. These same people won’t take the time, nor would have the patience to connect with those who are differently-abled. Unfortunately, they miss the experience of being on the receiving end of a unique heartfelt gift, a gift that only those with patience and peace can receive.

Until we have moved past the guilt stage and are well on our way to acceptance of ourselves and our children, it will be impossible to see the gift in situations, and the gift of our children, with and without special needs. No matter what, guilt gives power to the wrong thoughts and is a barrier to acceptance. Even in our most painful lessons there are hidden gifts whether we see them as such or not. The process requires patience with ourselves and not forcing the process to get over the guilt and “why” questions quickly. Guilt is a stage we simply must make our way through. Rest assured, when you arrive on the other side of guilt, you will realize the gift you hold, the gift your child holds and the gifts revealed through situations.

Tip for the Journey:

Identify and embrace your child’s strengths, needs, interests, fears and motivators. Focus on your child’s strengths and be open to providing opportunities for them to express themselves and their thoughts. Remember; don’t discount qualities that you or others find odd, irritating, or annoying. That just may be the wrapping paper around the gift they hold. Provide opportunities for them to paint, play an instrument, make crafts, dance, practice yoga, swim, play sports, write and use their hands to create.

Heartfuly Inspired,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

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Z is for Zigzag

(Excerpt from my book, “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance”)

Conventional wisdom says “do it this way, this is the way it’s always been done.” I am the type of person who questions conventional wisdom. I pause to think about whether the way it’s always been done is really the right way for me and my family.

Conventional wisdom says that the best path for Lillian is to attend traditional public school to benefit from what she’s entitled to according to federal laws and what’s established in her IEP. Well, that worked for us through fourth grade, but it doesn’t work now. You see, I simply believe with all my being that this little lady will not follow any conventional route in her life, or in her career. I believe she will be self-employed, and I don’t believe she will reach her full potential staying in a traditional public school. Of course, I will accept whatever career path she chooses, but for now, I choose us to zag instead of zig.

I’m not saying that we should always zag when others zig. But, that we pay attention when something inside us is saying, “not so fast there, find a different way,” or “don’t keep doing that.” We may hear these messages, but dismiss them due to doubt, fear, or laziness. As these messages bounce around in our mind, we find that we have invited another person’s voice telling us we are crazy for thinking that way.

Happy and successful people didn’t get where they are today by making the same choices as the masses. If you take time to study them, you will find there’s something different in the way they think, their attitude, and how they make choices.

One of my kids made a statement once that we are poor. I explained that I don’t agree and here’s why. We may be broke at the moment, but we are not poor. I consider us to be rich because of our relationships with one another, our adventures, and the joy we experience. I believe there’s a fundamental difference between being poor and being broke. Poor vs. rich is all in how you look at it. Being broke is temporarily having no money. Being rich depends on how our attitude and thoughts perceive our reality. How do we measure “rich”?

It is most important to me that I try to not take myself so darn seriously. I fully understand that we have some serious situations to deal with, especially as parents of children with special needs. I’m not advocating that we ignore serious medical conditions. I’m only suggesting that we become aware of our attitudes and thoughts concerning serious matters. Do your best not to dwell in the past, or get stuck in the “why” questions. Accept the present moment for what it is. Really and truly listen to your gut. Listen even if you don’t understand why it’s pushing you in a certain direction.

The bold overriding theme of this entire book is the ability to accept ourselves, listen to our intuition, and live in the present moment. That’s why it is repeated throughout this book. I know I need to be continually reminded of this. I forget. Acceptance, courage, flexibility, and our view of life all comes back to how we think. Our emotions are an expression of our thoughts. Take it slow and have patience with yourself.

Tip for the Journey:

Awake each morning and realize with awe that you have been given a very special, unique gift. You have been given a precious gift of another full twenty four hours to make your own. Twenty-four hours to do with as you choose, to experience joy and happiness, and to share with those around you. I truly believe the more we share joy and happiness, the more it will spread. Every day you get another twenty four hours to work toward your dreams and goals, and another day to enjoy the heck out of while you’re on your journey. I like to refer to this as a Sunrise Gift and no two Sunrise Gifts are the same. You choose the nature of the gift and what you will do with it. Make the most of your Sunrise Gifts.

Heartfuly Inspired,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

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Your Intuition Knows What To Write

“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.” – Ray Bradbury

I was given the wonderful opportunity to guest post on 2 Dream Productions’ blog about why I write and what led to the writing of my first book, “D iz for Different”.

Here’s an excerpt:

How Purging the Garage Led to Writing a Book

Call it intuition. Call it my gut. Whatever it’s called, there is something inside of me compelling me to write. Sometimes gently, other times strongly, it nudges me saying, “You’ve just got to share that.” I fought this feeling for a long time, thinking I had nothing meaningful to contribute. At this point in my life, I know that the treasure lying within me, the one I am to share with humanity, is my view of everyday life. I most often share this through writing.

Sometimes I question myself with thoughts of, “What are you doing? Why are you wasting time on this? Who cares what you think? Who cares what happened with you today?” These thoughts can be very discouraging and cause me to doubt myself. However, time and time again, I magically and miraculously receive confirmation that what I’m doing and the path I have chosen is inspiring and helpful to others. These powerful, undeniable moments cause my fears and hesitation to disappear.

My writing journey started …. ” (Go here to read more.)

Head on over and check out 2 Dream Productions if you are an author or aspiring author!

2 Dream Productions, Inc. is a book publicist company that specializes in working with authors and publishers to get more publicity for their books, brands and products. 

Blessings,

Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

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Happy Birthday to Me 2016

It’s my birthday month! February 26th will mark the beginning of my 46th year of living, learning, and loving in our beautiful paradise of a world.

I feel moved to celebrate in a different way this month. I am moved to share, give, and to allow myself to receive. Although I’m not in a position to give financially; I do want to honor this inner urge. I can give my time. I can spread loving-kindness and I can show my gratitude for BEing alive!

I have books! During the month of February, I’m offering 2 for the price of 1 for “D iz for Different”. You can email to CamillaDowns (@) gmail (dot) com if you’re interested.

“Sometimes we don’t need advice. Sometimes we don’t even need to talk. Sometimes we just need an authentic and loving hug.” -Me

I’m also planning to give free hugs on Friday, February 26th. I’m not sure of the location or exact time yet. I’ll be accepting hugs too! If you don’t need a hug, you can stop by and give me one! Stay tuned to facebook. I’ll post the time and location as it gets closer. If you don’t use facebook, you can email at the address above.

Lastly, I open my arms wide and face the big, beautiful sky. I say, “I welcome the blessings and answered prayers being sent ……. And, I allow myself to receive with grateful wholeheartedness.”

Happy Birthday to ME!

Blessings,

Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

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I Help You Love Your Self

“The meaningful question is never what we did yesterday, but what we have learned from it and are doing today ….. No one can help with anything like someone who has been through the pain themselves.” – A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

Why do I write on this blog?

I feel it is my purpose to help others by openly sharing my own life experiences. Specifically, how to heal oneself and how we relate to the children of the world and the effects of this relation from an adult perspective.

I know if I am urged to write something, what I share will help others either not go through the un-lovely experiences I’ve had or will help others through un-lovely experiences. I write about mindful living, simplicity, gratitude, and emotions. Additional topics are self-love, emotional connection, compassion, self-awareness, loving-kindness, self-actualization, special needs parenting, living in a tiny home, and resiliency. I also share book and movie musings, nature photography, and recipes.

So many children have an early and teenage life full of emotional neglect and harsh self-talk. I know. Because I was one of those children. I’m not speaking of purposeful emotional neglect. I’m speaking of not being taught what to do with my feelings and having those around me not know what to do with their own feelings.

My parents loved me. I was fed, clothed, and pretty much got my heart’s desire. Yet, I morphed into a people pleaser, and bearer of negative thoughts to myself.

I was not taught to love myself or to value who or what I am. Emotions and living in the present moment were never discussed. There was a great deal of arguing amongst the adults in my life …. sometimes violent arguing. I never wanted to upset others and only wanted those around me to be happy. I walked around anxious that I say the right thing, in the right way so that others liked me.

I’m absolutely not saying that my parents were wrong. I dearly love them and I know they were doing the best they knew how to do. For whatever reason, I was the way I was.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My mind was constantly analyzing things and processing according to how I was viewed in the eyes of others. In some instances, I did not speak up for fear of drawing negative attention to myself or how it would make others feel. And in other instances I hooked into the drama of the situation, big time! As I became an adult my response to life was a mixture of both of these. I didn’t let my unique essence shine through.

I feel if we practice the following we will heal ourself and the world’s children will continue to have the self-love they are born with, to feel secure, to feel loved, to feel successful, and free to be who they are ……. LOVE.

  • truly love ourself and model that love
  • practice mindfulness in our own realm and lovingly share mindfulness with our kids
  • learn emotional connection and model and teach it to our kids
  • practice gratitude and model and teach it to our kids

It’s not in my nature to tell people they are doing something right or wrong, or to teach them how they should or shouldn’t be doing something. Nor, do I dish out tough love. That has never been in sync with my heart. If it works for you, then wonderful!!

What do I “do”?

Short Version: I help you love your SELF and be at PEACE ….. and that spreads to your family, friends, neighbors, and all beings.

I am to let my life be an example. One for which others can apply what is in sync with their heart and simply ignore what’s not in sync. I share through this blog, facebook, my first book, “D iz for Different”, and speaking to groups.

Topics discussed when speaking are:

  • mindfulness
  • self-love
  • gratitude
  • emotional connection
  • compassion
  • self-awareness
  • loving-kindness
  • self-actualization
  • resiliency
  • special needs parenting
  • how to decrease stress and worry
  • how to notice when you get “hooked” by drama
  • how to increase self-confidence

I freely explain and share lessons I’ve learned and practices I use that work for me and my family. If needed, I listen with love and compassion and intuitively share thoughts and examples from my own life.

I do not claim to know the One Way, or One Size fits all approach to living a joyful, peaceful life. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I am to work with and help those whose heart urges them to connect with me and to learn more. I am to hold a nurturing space for those who feel moved by what I share so they can discover what it means to love oneself and to awaken who they truly are within …… magnificence and LOVE.

Please go here if you are interested in having me speak at your event or gathering.

“Until we understand what is within, we can’t understand what is without.” – Anita Moorjani

10 Most Popular Posts of 2015

Top 10 Blog Posts With the Most Views (Culled only from 2015 blog posts)

  1. Living in a Tiny Home Adventures
  2. Oil Cleansing Method – Update
  3. Living in a Tiny Home Adventures – Week Seven
  4. Living in a Tiny Home Adventures – Week Two
  5. Living in a Tiny Home Adventures – Week One
  6. Divorce – A Life Changing Experience
  7. Embrace the Emptiness
  8. Thank You Dr. Wayne Dyer
  9. Mindful Christmas Countdown 2015
  10. My Journey with Intellectual Disability and Relationships – A Short Memoir

Top 10 Blog Posts With the Most Views for 2015 (Culled from all blog posts)

  1. Olive Oil as Facial Cleanser and Moisturizer – Oil Cleansing Method
  2. Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint Oils
  3. No Powdered Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
  4. Lavender Oil and Eczema
  5. Living in a Tiny Home Adventures
  6. Oil Cleansing Method Update
  7. 17 Free and Easy Ideas on How to Rejuvenate Yourself
  8. Almond Flour Cookies
  9. Living in a Tiny Home Adventures – Week Seven
  10. Living in a Tiny Home Adventures – Week Two

Top 10 Blog Posts of All Time With the Most Views

  1. Olive Oil as Facial Cleanser and Moisturizer – Oil Cleansing Method
  2. Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint Oil
  3. Lavender Oil and Eczema
  4. Almond Four Cookies
  5. Help Team TLC with a Christmas Miracle
  6. No Powdered Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
  7. I Wish I Wasn’t an 18p- Girl: Moment of Defeat – Take Two
  8. 17 Easy and Free Ideas on How to Rejuvenate Yourself
  9. Moment of Defeat
  10. Lillian and Being Different Presentation

Happy New Year 2015!! Welcome 2016!

Blessings and Oceans of Love,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

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Happy 14th Birthday Lillian

To a being who is one of my greatest teachers in this life … May you have the most amazing 14th journey around the sun. You have helped teach me more than I ever thought possible, the meaning of life and why we are here …. Love and Kindness … xoxo

At 11:27 pm tonight the next journey begins for you, Lillian Darnell. I wrote a birthday post for Lillian’s 12th birthday detailing how she flew into the world. She continues to spread her wings and fly with her amazing imagination and the wonderful stories she shares on her blog. You GO Lillian!

Love,
Camilla
aka … MOM!

Heartfuly Inspired™,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

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I Am An Artist

As I completely lean into writing and blogging, I am tweaking the website a bit to bring more clarity to the type of content one can expect to find here.

“Be Mindful … Super-sized thoughts with a wee bit of photographs, recipes and tips.” (And, possibly soon, some other type of art. We shall see where my experimentation leads with this.)

This website and blog bring together all the pieces of my life, like a snapshot. I am a writer, author, blogger, photographer, an artist, and a life coach. I am Mom to 8 year old Thomas and 12 year old Lillian. (**Update: Lillian is 14 years old now and Thomas is 9 years old.)

Lillian has a chromosome abnormality simply called 18p-. This means she is missing a piece of the short arm of chromosome #18. Her younger brother, Thomas, is an amazing and loving helper!

I love taking pictures with my mobile devices. Currently an iPhone 3G and a Samsung Galaxy Tab (mine is a Model gt-p3113). I purposely shoot all photos with these devices as I don’t choose to invest in a fancy camera and/or deal with and learn all the details involved and to show others we can easily and economically capture the beauty and awe of nature anywhere and anytime. (**Update: Now using an iPhone 4G and I have an instagram account for posting pictures as time allows … @camilladowns …)

I love writing about mindful, inspired, simple living as it relates to the choices I make, daily living, being a parent, experiencing nature and …. food.

I am inspired by this place I have chosen as our home … Reno, Nevada. When he was 7 years old, my son, Thomas, summed it up with one beautifully crafted comment. “It’s like we are at an art show and nature keeps changing the art for us.”

I freely and openly share my journey as I sail through life. The ups, the downs, the loop the loops. I have good days, I have bad days. I share in the hopes that you will find at least one nugget to take away and apply to your own life. My wish is that you become inspired, your own passion to simplify life is ignited, or a path to mindful living is illuminated.

I am available for freelance writing opportunities and guest blogging. I’m a life coach too! Contact me here to inquire further.

**Disclosure: I am not an expert on how anyone should be or could be living their life; except for my own …. and that’s only sometimes! I attempt to be non-judgmental and to allow others to BE! Go forth and BE MINDFULLY YOU!

(To help support my blogging I will include an Amazon link to items I use or you will see google ads from time to time. I LOVE sharing my journey and choices with you and this just helps to keep me going!)