10.29.16 Effervescence and Men’s Deodorant




So recently, I started to wear men’s deodorant.  Classy, I know.  But you know what!?!  It works!  I’ve tried around five different brands of women’s in the past, and felt like I needed to “reapply” like four times a day.  Mens?  Just once thank you very much!  It really struck me though, and kind of disturbed me, to tell  you the truth, that I … a five foot three inch woman who isn’t typically a “sweater” would need it.  I couldn’t understand, that is, until I did a little anthropological experiment of my typical day. 

On Wednesday, of this past week, I took a small slip of paper and kept a tally of all the times someone asked me a question.  As a teacher, and mother, and wife … you might imagine it was quite a few.  But would you believe that between 6:30 in the morning, and 5:30 at night, I was asked one hundred and thirty-two different questions!?!  No joke!  It is no wonder I’m often so fragmented.  I realized that questions often come in the form of interruptions … and therefore, I usually have an air of distracted, disjointed, and well … just plain lostness about me.  

My favorite thing, is when people tell you to relax.  “Just breathe and take it slow,” they suggest.  I suggest a reality check … because how can a person form a logical thought in their head with one hundred and thirty-two interferences?  Sometimes I wish that I could begin my day like Ronald Regan began one of his presidential speeches, “Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement.”  Genius!  Only life doesn’t work like that does it?  We are often going to need to answer the questions of children or adults who act like children (depending on where you work). It is just a part of the human experience I’m afraid. 

One thing I have learned in all of this, is that people really do respond to the way that questions are answered.  I’m certainly not perfect at this.  Sometimes an answer from me is “Mad as a hatter” off topic.  Sometimes it’s wise with split infinitives like Yoda.  Sometimes … as much as I hate to admit it … it’s a sarcastic eye-roll.  A lot of cliche lovers like to say, “There’s no such thing as a dumb question.”  I say, why lie to kids?  Some questions are dumb!  Regardless of the intelligence of the question (or the person asking it for that matter) I do believe in giving people the honor of time.  I’m really convinced that there are times, after all, that someone is only asking a question to build a bit of conversation, or to gain a moment of attention. 

Yesterday I introduced my husband to a new acquaintance of mine who said to him, “Wow.  This one’s got a ton of energy.  How do you keep up?”  My husband laughed and said he tries his best.  The gentleman went on to say, “She and I had a great conversation, and we’re all talked out.” To which my husband replied, 

“Yeah, but then she comes home and keeps on talking!  She’s never all talked-out.”  

He was appropriately glared at, but then I realized that my bubbly, enthusiastic nature and “talk-all-day” personality  (which rightly so annoys some people) is something that makes me useful.  God gives us what we can handle, and apparently, he intends that I handle those one hundred and thirty two questions a day.  I may come back kind or cranky, sweet, or snarky … but with me, I suppose at least you’re always guaranteed an answer.  I’ll keep praying for patience, but until then, I guess I’ll just keep being me – filled with effervescence, and of course … men’s deodorant. 

Talk on, 


9.28.16 The Memory Box



I have this vintage box of letters in my office.  Faded with printed flowers and scrawling text, this box has, tucked within it’s brass latch, more memories than I’d ever be able to hold in my mind without its weathered assistance. All those years ago, when I began collecting the notes, scraps, photographs, and messages it now contains, I never could’ve known they would become so much more than the simple correspondences they might originally seem to be. 

There, layered in paper, are private jokes with friends, confessions from past loves, and pictures that hold me forever still on a page. And I am so thankful, that for whatever reason in my adolescence, I had the foresight to know that I’d need these reminders of who I was then.  The truth is, life doesn’t give us many opportunities for reminiscence, things go too fast, years blur in colorful streaks past my consciousness until I force myself to slow, and visit a memory.  

Some of these letters are joy personified, littered with smiles, and coded words that no longer make sense but invoke pleasure anyway.  Lined with plans of what we’d do, or where we’d go, or even where we had already been. Some, are harder though.  They are the letters that, even now, I can’t bear to read, but need to hold onto, because they are the last proof of the people I can’t let go of … not entirely at least.  Cataloged haphazardly, whether dark or delicious … each memory in turn serves its purpose, and found residence in that treasure box for a reason clear to me alone. 


Like a silent-bound old friend, this box keeps my secrets, benign as they may be, and guards them until I am ready to whisper glances at them some random, nostalgic day. 

Some pieces of a heart remain a mystery. And open as one might claim to be, there will always be chambers and alcoves none can enter.  And so it goes. There are depths and passes that remain unexplored, but there are also pathways well worn with remembering.  

American Author Roman Payne captured the desire of a woman’s heart perfectly saying, “The only thing higher for a girl and more sacred for a young woman than her freedom and her passion should be her desire to make her life into poetry, surrendering everything she has to create a life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in her imagination.” 

My letter box reminds me of those beautiful dreams I once had, and gives me the courage to know that same girl, the recipient of each precious letter, is still in me somewhere.  It’s time we honor our hearts, our ambitions, and our imaginations.  It’s time to pay reverence to the memories that formed us, but to look forward to what is yet to come.  Like elongated silhouettes, memories can cast a lovely shadow … but only when you take them in context of the light before you here and now.  Walk on my friends. 


9.15.16 Black Sunshine



American business man Frank Lane once said, “If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm.” Well, today, I think I was the storm.  Exhausted after another seemingly endless day, I dragged myself and the kiddos to the grocery store, pretty much letting them buy whatever they asked to throw into the cart because I was too tired to say no.  So what did we end up with?  A whole lot of food with impossible-to-pronounce, genetically-engineered crap for ingredients!  That’s what!

You see, starting a new school year, a new job, and a new slough of practice schedules while trying to maintain a house, and writing ambitions isn’t going so well. I’ve got about ten baskets of laundry I’m notoriously hiding under my bed, and an overweight Bernese Mountain Dog in need of more than a quick walk around the block.  To top it off … my awesome husband has found a perfect time for himself to work out daily, and has come home from work refreshed and fit, as his office has a built-in gym. Needless to say – if he tells me about one more “great workout” he’s had, he’ll be sleeping alone. I can’t seem to find thirty minutes to call my own, let alone three miles worth!

So today, after grocery shopping, and starting laundry, and taking care of the pets, and making dinner … I was feeling a little feisty.  As soon as my husband got home, I threw on the first clothes I could find and announced, that I needed to go workout before I, “lost it.”  Looking at me as if I already had, my husband grinned, reading the t-shirt I had on, “You are my sunshine.” Laughing at the irony of my stormy personality, he said, “Aww, you’re my little black sunshine.”

And you know what … it is okay. Today I am a little black sunshine.  I am happy, but in a bit of a thunder-cloud mood.  I’m ready to joke around, but am also ready to misinterpret or read into comments at will.  I am at peace with the fact that peaceful is not the way I feel … and if I had to define myself in one word at the moment … spitfire might be the one I’d choose.

There are plenty of things I don’t love about myself in this very moment: my new blemish (aka: zit), my cramped muscles, my straw-like hair, my nicked nail polish, my pile of to do’s, but that’s alright. Because I’ve decided, that just for today, I’d like to agree with Marilyn Monroe when she said, “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” So I’m going to focus on what I do like about me right now instead.

I like my witchy-purple nail polish that’s just a shade too dark.

I like that my broodiest moods still involve lots of laughter, a bit of glitter, and “I forgive you’s.”

I like that while putting away groceries, my husband and I turned up  rap songs and danced in the kitchen until our kids came in from the yard and we ran to push, “mute!”

I like that even on a school-night (as a teacher) I let my kids stay up until way too late because it was the first time my daughter requested to watch Star Wars.

I like that half of my dinner tonight consisted of spoonfuls of peanut butter, and sea-salt chocolate caramels.

I like that my sister and I took a few minutes on our long-distance phone call to pretend that we lived closer, and even planned out what movie we’d watch if she were here.

I like that even on a day like this … when I’m an absolute troll, my mom texted me, “Goodnight beautiful.”

I like that tomorrow is another day … and I know it’ll be even brighter.

And I like that I should be sleeping, but instead am up typing to you … whoever you are … in the hopes that you relate, and find a likable list about yourselves too.

Carry on my little black sunshines – carry on.


9.8.16 Thirty-Four Wishes



So it is my birthday.  My thirty-fourth birthday to be exact.  I know I’m not supposed to tell you that.  I am well aware that when you are no longer twenty-something, age is not supposed to be something that you share … but I’m sharing it anyway, because I’m grateful.  I’m grateful that in these thirty-four years I have memories that keep me in good company, regardless of the number that is growing ever on.  While I may not want the visual affirmation of decades of candles on my cake … I do like what my mother believes about wishes.  She says you get a wish for every year, for every fire lit sparkle that keeps hope dancing above the frosting.

I have no idea what this new year holds, but I wanted to mark and welcome it with a bit of a retrospective peek into who I’ve been, and what each year has held for me so far.  Me in  time-capsule-doses.  This life has been ordinary magic … and I thank so many of you for quite literally bringing my wishes to life.

Year One: I was blessed with an exceptional mom and dad, who inspire me still.

Year Two: My sister decided to love me, and has never stopped.

Year Three: My best-cousin and I become life-long partners.

Year Four: I believe with every fiber of my being in Santa Claus.

Year Five: I met the boy next door, who pretty much shaped my sister and my play days ever summer thereafter.

Year Six: I discover that not all teachers should be.

Year Seven: I become enamored with dinosaurs.

Year Eight: I discover the fun of Halloween (matching Pandas mommy and me).

Year Nine: I move for the first time.

Year Ten: I lose my dog … my first best friend.

Year Eleven: My kindred-spirit grandmother moves in.

Year Twelve: I meet my best friend.

Year Thirteen: I am immersed in the power of sleepovers!

Year Fourteen: High school begins, and all that goes with it.

Year Fifteen: I become a dancer.

Year Sixteen: I fall in love for the first time … and recognize the influence of a heart above all things … even sense.

Year Seventeen: I meet someone who calls me back to myself.

Year Eighteen: I go away to college with the best roomie a cousin could ask for.

Year Nineteen: I meet the man I am going to marry, who picks up and protects my heart.

Year Twenty: I enter into the School of Education to become a teacher.

Year Twenty-One: I graduate, get married, and get lost in Europe with my new husband.

Year Twenty-Two: I get my first teaching job, and become a first time auntie.

Year Twenty-Three: I experience infertility and the heartache that goes with missing something you’ve never even had.

Year Twenty-Four: I graduate from graduate school, and we drive the Romantic Road in Germany.

Year Twenty-Five: I get to know the wonder of my world … my son.

Year Twenty-Six: I choose to stay at home with my son and begin to write.

Year Twenty-Seven: I get to know the second wonder of my world … my daughter.

Year Twenty-Eight: I am diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease.

Year Twenty-Nine: My parents move, and my grandfather dies … and I feel the last bit of my childhood taken from me.

Year Thirty: We get our first puppy, who now weighs 100 lbs.

Year Thirty-One: I get my first children’s book published.

Year Thirty-Two: I taste a fairy tale and meet my husband in Cannes, France for the weekend.

Year Thirty-Three: I get published by my favorite magazine in the world twice.

Year Thirty-Four: Yet to be determined, but sure to be an adventure!

My wish?  Tell me about your most memorable year!  Share, post, comment! Give me the gift of words … they’re my favorite treat!


8.18.16 My First Guest Blogger!!!



This is my first, but hopefully not last blog hosted by a guest! An amazing writer, photographer and kindred-spirit … I am completely honored for her debut blog to be showcased on my site!  Please read through her bio at the end and encourage her with comments by finding her on Facebook and Instagram.  And now … without further delay …

Finding the Pieces Within – Courtney Johnson


“We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there, too.”
–Kristen Martz

I am a lover of life. I love finding the celebration in anything I can. Sure, life’s big milestones are amazing and forever ingrained in me. But I revel in the day to day! It is just as beautiful, and I desire to hold on to those feelings and moments, and relive them. It might seem ordinary to some, but to me, my life is exquisite. The prevalence of love and beauty is never lost on me. It is exactly that which I choose to center myself around.
Like any fairy tale, my life is not without its struggles; pieces of myself have come and gone, making way for what was necessary. And sometimes I put away bits of myself that no longer fit into a particular time and space. But those elements are still there, waiting for the perfect day to come back.
Unfortunately, one true piece of me that I have stifled for some time now has been the expressive part of my soul, the creator. She was right there with me for years until certain aspects of my life pushed her aside, trapping her, and closing her off from the best parts of me. Other pieces have since developed and taken over the show, but she’s been quietly watching and reminiscing … all the while hoping for a chance to show herself again.
Ever since I could write, I did. In fancy journals with vintage pictures on the cover, or old notebooks with the metal spiral poking into my skin as I carried them. I would tap away on my grandma’s antique metal typewriter, loving the sound of each key inking the paper. And Post-Its were essential; perfect, yellow squares to hold my lists, love stories, mysteries, poems, and songs.
It was no different with pictures. I documented everything with pictures … digital and physical albums containing tens of thousands of images telling the story of my life.
With a love like I had for pictures and words, I never understood why the version of me who created them could be lost. Back then writing and photography felt like something I just did – but I get it now, that version is the best version of me, she is still a huge part of who I am … and I need to keep her close.
Now I have this irrepressible urge to write, to photograph, to capture meaning in everything. Not necessarily to be heard by others, but to be heard by myself. Sometimes you just need you to hear you.
The old soul who values reverence, sentimentality, time, and music … they all rest with her … and she’s not satisfied with just a front-row seat anymore. She wants to create. She wants to perpetuate as much of my beautiful life as she can. She needs just a little stage time.
So if you notice her out and about, give her some encouragement, a smile, a hug, or a high five. Keeping her going will take some work, but it will be so worthwhile. If you feel like a part of you is missing or unfulfilled, look inside yourself. Chances are you will find a piece of who you used to be too. Immerse yourself in something inspiring and bring you out to play. Create a little space in your life to pick things up again, and don’t let the other pieces of you say no.
Here’s to you, dear one, for swooping in, befriending her, and helping me escort her out in a parade of wonder and amazement. She has been missed, and I need her more than I ever realized. She has so much to celebrate! This beautiful life I live is her muse, and she is mine.

Courtney’s Bio


Courtney Johnson is a lover of life and a seeker of fun in every day.  As a teacher and mother of three little ones, she and her husband conquer each crazy day with love and laughter.  Along the way she pens thought-provoking narratives and captures beauty where she sees it, letting her life be her muse.

6.22.16 Vulner-Ability



“Don’t talk – don’t say a thing, because your eyes they tell me more, than your words.  Don’t go, don’t leave me now, because they say the best way out, is through.” – The Fray

I hate when people tell me they’re fine.  If I know you as more than a simple acquaintance, I’d go so far as to say it offends me a little, because no one’s ever just “fine.” I realize that sometimes we are in places that we aren’t ready to talk about, but then say that.  Say I’m not okay right now, but I will be soon, and we can talk then.  My mom is excellent at transparency and I love this about her.  Having lost her brother in December and a good friend only last month, she openly admits when sorrow takes her, but admonishes the darkness with a follow up telling me, “I’m sad right now, but I don’t wanna leave you sorrowful because I promise I won’t stay there long.”

I realize it is not realistic to expect such vulnerability with strangers, but can you imagine what it would do to the social fabric of the world if people were just a little more authentic with their emotions?  I can picture the decay of feigned strength with people being honest.  Pride, which often gets in the way of healing, would absolutely crumble.  Saying I’m not fine … I’m missing my brother, my friend, my spouse, myself?  Admonition is a powerful cure.

I think it not unintentional that the word “vulnerability” ends with the word “ability.” It truly is an ability to be able to share what and who and how you are for real … and from where I stand, the world needs practice.  Because if we were real, just a little bit more, I think it would give humanity the opportunity to practice being humane. 

Today is the anniversary of the day my husband lost his cousin growing up.  He was only eighteen when he passed, and though it is decades later, the memory of this wonderful life remains.  And I have to commend his mother who shared her raw emotions with details that fractured the banality of words like “fine.” She shared what she remembered about the experience of this day, all those years ago stating, “I didn’t cry, but all of me found its way to the tiniest space somewhere in me that I go when I am beyond devastated.”  Then remembered a detail in funeral preparations that completely fractured me, “We needed to buy dress shoes … boys don’t have dress shoes in the summer.”  In reading her words I simply HAD to write, I had to thank her for the beautiful example of brokenness she allowed us all to see, well past time and still yearning for her baby.  I cry, quite literally in gratitude for her openness and the ability she gave all those who read her words to practice compassion, and to love her boy, for a moment, through her memory.

We are called to be there for one another.  That’s what this life is about … being there.  Walking with.  Crying with.  Laughing with.  And repeating the cycle again.  If you’re not fine, don’t be.  If you are, share the blessing of your joy.  Whatever you are, be real so that others have the chance to really meet you in that moment, and potentially carry you through.

All my love,


6.8.16 Sweet, but Messy



Someone once said, “Chocolate doesn’t ask silly questions … chocolate understands.” I am pretty sure this is the most accurate thing I’ve heard lately, because I personally experienced just how intently chocolate “gets it” the other day!  The end of the school year was a barrage of lovely expectations mixed with an inordinate amount of time to accomplish half of what you set out to do.  From end-of-the-year-gifts, to final projects, to swim lesson sign ups (which I still haven’t done and they start Monday) … it is just too much!

This year, my amazing sister, whom I would spend every waking moment with if it was my choice, is visiting from NC early.  That means, that we had girl’s night early.  I wasn’t even finished with the school year, but one weekend away, we chose to do our thing and hang out with a group of our good friends anyway.  In between our air conditioning breaking, our front brakes needing replacement on one car, our battery dying in the other car, and my son’s soccer tryouts being rescheduled due to the rain … I was just a little bit late for our date.  Needless to say, the chocolate I’d decided to bring was more than a little bit melty.  Those Ghirardelli squares might look solid, but they were as squishy as a stress ball.  But you know what?  Chocolate does understand, because they were still delicious.  Just like life, melted chocolate is sweet, but messy!

This morning marked my first official day of summer, and I’d fully intended to wake up slow, read a little, write a little, and do a crap-ton of laundry.  Instead, I woke with a wrath-like Noah’s Ark moment, looking at the absolutely trashed house around me thinking, “That’s it!  I’m getting rid of everything and we’re just starting over!”  There were half-clean, half-folded, half-started but not finished basketfuls of clothes; there were half-drawn masterpieces scattered about with pencil tips and markers barely capped; there were blankets and pillows left-over from my husband’s one night love affair with soccer as the U.S. dominated Costa Rica; there were black tumbleweeds of fur littered about from our over-heated, hundred pound hairy baby; there were dishes, and crumbs, and toothpaste stains, and … and … and … ! After a bit of frazzled, harried, manic tendencies of picking up and purging, I eventually lost steam and decided that what we really needed was to leave the house!  Thank God lunch with a friend and a farmer’s market were all it took to bring me back to a balanced sense of reality.  Rest assured, our house is clean now, and I (though very, very tempted) did not in fact rid the world of our belongings.

If you’ll excuse me … I’m going to go eat something sweet, and more than likely – melted.

Here’s to summer!



5.31.16 For Everyone Who Ever Loved Henry



When I was a little girl,  my aunt had this beautiful picture in her house.  I remember telling her how much I loved it each and every time we came over.  Fast forward twenty-years, and I’m at my baby shower.  Imagine my shocked surprise when I opened the picture. “When I found out you were having a son,” she said, “I just knew I had to give it to you.” All these eight years, we’ve kept the picture … and I’ve admired it for the memory … for the nostalgia … and for the likeness of my own baby boy who is already quite grown.

“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” – Agatha Christie

I believe in this formidable love, because I’ve felt it.  Every time my son or daughter make me laugh, every time they make me cry, every time I am blessed by their presence alone – I feel it like a tangible string tugging between my heart and theirs.  Sometimes, as they grow, that line seems to stretch incredibly taught as I feel them stretching into their own sense of self and purpose in this world, and instinct draws me to follow them, but life gently reminds me they need to find their own way. The love I feel as a mother makes me believe more than I ever was able before, that love never fails … and a friend of mine recently reminded me, it also never ends.

The first day I met my friend Spring, I was delighted by her gentle spirit and pure heart. She giggled openly, she didn’t shelter or hold back genuine interest in our conversation, and she shared her life stories without the careful filter most people apply.  She was real … and it was refreshing.  Having only known her for a couple of months, I almost forgot – almost but not quite, just what she would be dealing with very soon.  Sure enough, it happened last week.  Spring sent out a prayer request for strength because it was going to be a tough day.  I instantly flashed back to that first day, and that first conversation. Because like any unassuming stranger, I’d made small talk, and asked what people our age asked, “Do you have any kids?”  She remarked that they had one boy, and his name was Henry – was.

One year ago, Spring uncovered her own definition of mother’s love.  And I imagine it was something like Uma Thurman’s description that said, “Before I had my child, I thought I knew all the boundaries of myself, that I understood the limits of my heart. It’s extraordinary to have all those limits thrown out, to realize your love is inexhaustible.” But where Spring is concerned, her love also needed to become ethereal, and the string that tethers her heart to her son’s needs to stretch from heaven to earth. Henry was born with a defect in his diaphragm which caused internal complications too large for his tiny, perfect heart to handle.

And my own heart, at this story, was anguished.  As I witnessed happy birthday wishes to their little prince, I struggled to even know what to say.  Even as a writer, what words can you offer that bring any semblance of peace? I found none. But suddenly … I remembered that picture, from all those years ago.  I wondered if it might be time to pass it on, if it could offer any comfort at all.  So I did.  And I hope that in the frozen embrace she can: feel the tiny hand that held hers ever-so-briefly, imagine the way his perfect head rested on her shoulder, picture the divine moment when she gets to hold him once again.  Sometimes, the love of God is fierce, so much so that it overpowers even a mother’s love.  And in that unquenchable moment of love, God chooses to not let go, because that child is just too special, too gentle, and too endeared to be gone from heaven so long.

I know this, and yet my mother’s heart breaks for her, and for everyone who ever loved Henry.

Please pray with me today,





5.24.16 Stay Found (As Featured on Grace Notes)


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“We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” – Oprah Winfrey 

So today I am honored that my post is actually featured in Bella Grace Magazine’s Blog: Grace Notes! I hope that you will take time to click on the link and experience a bit of Bella! Thank you for going on this “field trip” with me!

Stay found,


5.18.16 Melancholy


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Victor Hugo once said, “Melancholy is the pleasure of being sad.” I know it is a paradox, but I think he was really on to something there. Why do we like tragically, heart-wrenching movies? Why are so many classic novels somewhat desolate? Why does it feel like such a release after a good cry? Why do we like to remember broken relationships with a sort of sweet farewell? As Edgar Allan Poe penned it, “And so being young and dipped in folly, I fell in love with melancholy.”

As ironic as it seems, I don’t find that sitting just a little inside of this hushed, “lost-in-thought” attitude is all bad. Sometimes life has too much going on and happy can seem false, like florescent lighting on a grey day. As positive and optimistic as I am ninety-percent of the time, I’ve found that it is alright to let yourself embrace just a hint of blue space.

Caught in a moment of change … of in-between and loss and gain, I am wading in this pensive pool – just for today. Tomorrow I will be, “me” again, smiling and attempting to change the world, but right now? Melancholy fits me like my favorite pair of faded jeans, holed and worn … but necessary for the flaws I love. I hope you can find comfort in the middle places, and I hope this helps you understand that you don’t always have to know, sometimes you can just be.

Melancholy Beautiful


It’s that thoughtful, in-between here and there place that cannot be pinpointed

(in-descript and mysterious).

In an age so demanding and decisive,

there is something quiet, and lovely about not always knowing:

… why you feel the way you feel …

… where you’re meant to go next …

… what you want … or don’t want …

… who you might decide to be.

Melancholy is that place between good and better that allows you to

pause –

to think –

to breathe –

to accept.

It isn’t fake; it isn’t false.

It isn’t anything other than pensive – allowing time for contemplation

rather that reaction.

Some of the most formative moments of my life were born out of this place,

where what at first seemed impossibly sad,

evolved into a beautiful memory.

Like the last day of summer,

the loss of first love,

or the pain of a final goodbye you can’t change.

It might not be easy.

It might not be comfortable.

But do not mistake it for sadness …

because melancholy can grow your emotions if you let it.





That melancholy really can

be beautiful.


Feel whatever you need to feel today.

All my love,