A Brighter Day

The sun still shines above the clouds.

It is a fact.

Move the clouds, and if it is daytime, there you see it.

Dark days become the norm in the mountains of West Virginia at certain times of the year.

Drive through Virginia, and it appears to be sunny.

Cross the state line, mountains get higher.

Your head is in the clouds, so they say.

A Florida girl living in West Virginia, I was like gee, is the sun ever going to shine?

So I lit a candle.

Its light warmed me.

Captivated by its glow, it made for a better day.

Candles were a memory from my childhood.

Grandma Ferguson had red candlesticks she lit during the winter. If the power went out, she lit the hurricane lamp.

Dark.

I don’t like dark rooms.

Neither do I like flourescent light above my head.

Tiny bits of light. A salt lamp. A desk lamp. A lighted tree. Ambient glow from a well kept aquarium. Light.

The surgeon.

Years ago, when wheeled into surgery, all I could see was the surgeon and the super bright light over me. Before they knocked me out, that is.

You want guys like that to have a really good light, lol.

Light versus darkness. Bright days versus dark days.

We cannot control the darkness at times.

Just our response to it.

Getting ready for work now. Someone is rolling a trash can the length of a country lane, a muffled rattle in the distance, as others make their way to work, or school, or wherever they are headed today.

heart shaped candle
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Where do I go from here?

The bruises on her delicate form told the story: he laid hands on her in anger, again. She found in the days after, that she could not speak, silent, she suffered inside as she tried to make sense of everything, retracing her steps.

Another woman was on her second marriage when the man she was with decided to regularly tell her she was ugly, that she was no good, to “go away,” that she was stupid, and he made fun of her teeth that were missing because she had no money to fix them. She went to work and supported herself, although married to a millionaire who had bags of gold and diamonds in his safe at home. When she first started dating him, his “flash” anger was something she chalked up to him having a bad day. Or that, she thought, she really was, as he said “no good.” One example of the terror in their home is the night he took out a large knife he had purchased, looked at her and caressed the knife, knowing she was terrified of knives. He did the same thing with guns, and forced her to hold each new gun he bought. He also forced her to buy ammunition when they went to the store, when bullets seemed to be getting harder to get. The community (to include the church) loved him and had no idea he had an arsenal in his house. 10,000 rounds, she said. He did not like to be questioned about anything, even simple stuff like hey, what would you like for dinner. He did not like her using the phone at home. He became agitated. He told her he was going to buy one way passports to leave the country and her kids would have to travel to see her, because she would not have the money to leave. They used to go to restaurants, and he would scream at her for every little thing. The nail in the coffin of their marriage was the night he loudly proclaimed at a restaurant “why do you always have to have an F-ing attitude every time I have to give you correction?” She left the table and went to the restroom, and almost heaved. The next day she was gone, and she never returned. And the church and the community were like, hey, what happened, he was such a nice guy.

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Another story. A man came from poverty and rose to great wealth. Married a retired school teacher, their second marriage for each of them. He bought her a home in Hilton Head and it was pristine. She had everything a woman could want or need. But it was not enough. Day and night, she fussed about him and how “stupid” he was, how he could never do anything right. He just took it. He sometimes made excuses for her. But the line became more clear when she, not more than a year after moving into a brand new house, wanted the house across the street instead. So he did. It was not long before the complaining continued.

People who have lived through domestic abuse have seen it all.

And the question rises to the surface, where do I go from here?

Getting out of an abusive relationship is not easy, many would attest.

Those who moved on from it say that the best thing you can do (besides go to God with it) is to treat yourself as you would a child in your company. You would not talk down to a child, you would not allow the child to be hurt, you would nurture, love, and cherish the kid, making sure there are plenty of opportunities for growth and fun. You would plan for the success of that child.

Think about it.

What can you do for you to help yourself succeed?

Surround yourself with quality people, fun things to do, education, church, music, art, sports, nature walks, etc. The world is full of things to help us all heal.

And most of all, remember you are special. A unique creation. Wonderful. Smart. Your life has value. Reject anything that will harm you from this day forward. Read up on how to recognize toxic personalities, the warning signs. Invest, if you can, in you. If money is an issue, the library is free. Set some goals. Be safe.

May you have a wonderful day today.

Perfume, Prayer, Potential

A faint smell of gardenias was with me all day after I got a hug from a former member of Destiny’s Child, LeToya Luckett. Surrounded by crowds mesmerized with her grace, she spread wisdom and cheer wherever she went.

To her, these gifts of hers created a platform for her to bless others.

A few days later, during a meet and greet with a lady who may be our church’s next youth minister, I got a hug from one of our church leaders, John.

A faint smell of musk, with notes of pine and perhaps, lime, surrounded me, staying with me as I left church after the event.

And I thought of influence. The way John prays is as if Moses himself were raising a staff to – at God’s direction – part the sea.

When John prays for you, you walk away knowing you have truly been covered in prayer.

Perfume. And prayer.

It is true that our inner spirit is transferred to those around us, whatever that spirit may be.

Is it pleasant? Confident? Kind?

Books A Million.

For some reason, every time I shop at Books A Million, some sort of spiritual impartation occurs, whether someone blesses me, I witness someone bless another, or I bless someone I have just met.

“Your eyes just have the most beautiful gaze,” said the man before me, the cashier.

“Most people come through this line and never look us in the eye,” he said. “They look down at their phones. They look at the floor. Thank you for making me feel as if I matter .. simply by looking me in the eye.”

We spoke of “the past,” and how when we were growing up, that was standard.

I never thought I could bless someone just by looking them in the eye.

Perfume. Prayer. Potential.

Just as the perfume from the R & B superstar, and her grace toward me stayed with me, encouraging me that “all things are possible,” though we did not speak of me and my goals and dreams, and just as John and his fragrant offering of prayer blessed me, so it is that we all bless others by the beauty and fragrance of our souls.

Perhaps this is how also we show God we love Him.

Here is to a blessed Monday for you. I am off today, and thus .. I will clean the house. Maybe also this will be an act of worship.

shallow focus photo of pink ceramic roses
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Practical tips for survivors of trauma

The sun is not up yet, and there are dew drops of condensation on the windows of this old farmhouse.

Another brand new day awaits.

I write this from the couch, as my cat, Molly, has snuggled up for a morning nap.

I have been catted.

As you know, from time to time, I share blogs specifically aimed at encouraging survivors of sexual abuse and trauma heal from the past.

Truth is, there are more people than you would think who have been through such atrocities.

In 2013, I wrote my story, The Brighter Side of A Darker Thing, and it was published by WestBow Press.

Since then, I have slowly, quietly, had hundreds of conversations with fellow survivors.

“Get over it,” she said.

The woman sitting across from me at a fast food restaurant said that is what she was told by her family when they heard she had been abused.

Here is a blog of a few tips that may help you in your healing. Remember we are all different, and if you stumble across something that helps you heal, please share with the rest of us so we can explore that as well.

Number 1: Recognize the abuse was not your fault. It does not matter the circumstance. What you were wearing, or whether you were friendly, or whether you were a boy or girl, or young or old. Nobody else has the right to abuse you. It was not your fault.

2. The unfortunate thing is that while the abuse was not your fault, the journey of healing and steps you take rest upon you and your willingness to move forward. We will never forget what happened. It is always with us. But one thing that helps me is this: “I am not there now.”

3. Celebrate the Now. I have found that numerous survivors become highly gifted people in the arts and other occupations because they look for an outlet for all of the energy that is pent up from the fact that either justice was not served, the fact that we cannot change the past, etc. What are you doing with your gifts? Explore that.

4. Watch what you say. It is true that we as survivors oft morph into the negative. Self esteem and dignity is battered and it proves to be a challenge to speak positivity. For example: “I will never amount to anything. I am a freak. I do not fit in. I am ugly. I am dirty. I am permanently broken.” The positive of that is “I am able. I am gifted. I am special and created by God, therefore, I am good. I am beautiful (or handsome). I am pure because the abuse did not change my heart. I have gifts and I have survived, and the sky is the limit as to my future.”

I will share more in future blogs on this.

Meanwhile, must get ready for work.

Know today that God loves you and you are a blessing.

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The real of real

“She is so fake.” “He is way too positive.” “Why don’t they tell me what is really going on? Why do they keep me at arm’s distance?”

“What I want to see is the real deal.”

“You can photoshop anything you want.”

“I think people who use filters are phony.”

“Nobody is perfect.”

Social media and the search for the real, extraordinary, fantastic or ridiculously awful.

Recently, I heard a few people, on different occasions, say they were tired of fake people.

Comedy.

Listen to any comedy routine, and oft you will find truths to which you can relate.

We know what life is like.

“Tell it like it is.”

Seems like there are a few groups of people.

One group is running a massive public relations campaign so everyone thinks their life is fantastic. Another fights to be positive every day. The lifelong struggle with depression yields itself in positive mantras all over the place. Still another group, realists, are the ones who will let it all hang out so to speak. They will share more than they probably should and others judge them for it. “Back in my day, we did not talk about things like that.”

So true, it is.

Then there is the group that does not care. You can try to connect, find a common bond. The only thing they hear is the sound of their own voice. The only real in their lives is they are focused solely on themselves.

I am a realist and like many others, desire for people to be themselves. If they like yoga and green tea, great. They pile their hair on top their head in a blue man bun, and to me, I am like ok. If that floats your boat.

Whatever. The word whatever is a conversation in itself.

What exactly is real and what do you do with it?

For one person, real means that what I believe in is absolutely real.

Another person says “hogwash.”

And add to that so many people are afraid of being real about their life or their beliefs

photo of night sky
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for fear the head hunters will figuratively storm the island and make a mess of things.

Example. On Facebook. I can post a photo of a fresh tomato or pineapple from my garden. Everybody loves a pineapple! I can post dog or cat photos. So popular. People love pets! Post your vacay photos. That is safe.

Post anything spiritual and the line goes quiet. Post political and the cacti flood the timeline.

So we have learned what people like and do not like. It is acceptable to have a rant once in a while. But is every post a complaint? Enter the court of judgment and have a seat.

Post continuously positive posts, and people start believing you are living in a dream world. Wake up. Enter the court of judgment.

Try to balance the positive with a few peeves, stir in some funny or beautiful selfies, and yet the truth is .. nobody knows the real you unless you spend time together.

And even then, there are those who are guarded.

“If I don’t share, I won’t get hurt.”

“If I am quiet, I will not make waves.”

“What would they think if they knew how much effort it takes me just to get out of the house?”

Real.

Like a glittering snowflake as it floats to the earth. Like a diamond’s shine when it is seen for the first time. Like a pearl of precious value. A baby’s belly laugh. A dog’s kind eyes and concern when you stub your toe. Like the contrast of darkness and light, a thousand stars in the night sky. Real.

Everyone is real and has real. But not all choose to share it with others.

Contemplation on this Sunday afternoon.

Knowing when to rest

The dizziness and nausea was just too much. Left work early to head for my doctor appointment, which I had moved back a day.

Doc determined there was a strong possibility that I was reacting to some antibiotics and illness from a week prior, and maybe also to the contrast in the CT scan (as that always makes me ill as well.)

There are two meds I take regularly, and neither works well with the CT dye.

Rest and hydration, he said.

So I did what I loathe to do: I took an actual sick day.

My company allows for sick and personal time, in addition to vacation time. Personal time is scheduled. Sick time is where you realize it is better to be just ten steps, instead of a whole building, away from a bathroom.

!

My editor, knowing that I am a consistent, show up for work kind of person, told me if I was not feeling well, then take a sick day, it is ok.

So I did just that.

Went back to bed. Slept in a little. And all day did nothing of consequence except focus on eating, drinking lots of water, and resting.

Rest.

The word has often conjured up images of laziness, to me. Others can rest, and I am ok with that.

But for me, well.

Have to admit the day to rest did wonders for me. Called my Mama, and she is like, yes, when she takes antibiotics or has scans with dye done, same thing happens to her.

Feeling better today, just tired. I am accustomed to working “tired,” though. I think most of us do 🙂

“Well, now that you are edging past 50,” a friend said.

Lol. “Hush yo mouth,” I said.

I do not subscribe to that train of thought.

Meanwhile, all night long, frogs and crickets have been striking a loud chorus outside my bedroom window. In celebration of all the rain? Or in anticipation of more? In the south, we are well acquainted with tropical systems that visit our state.

And yet a bug-eye frog knows when to rest.

So there you go.

The real deal here is this: why do I have a hard time relaxing? Rest and recuperate have never been friendly words of mine.

Both sides of my family are what I would consider productive people. They are scientists, business folks, artists, teachers, people who worked in the communication industry (3 generations, actually.) And more. Until the last 40 years, there were farmers. County clerks. Midwives. Seamstresses. Even a cosmetologist.

“I’m up on mah pegs,” Grandma Ferguson used to say.

But rest is not a bad thing. Rested people are productive people.

“Sharpen the saw,” say

closeup photography of purple petaled flowers
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the Franklin Covey folks.

Have a good day, all. It is Friday, and I have much to do.

Ponytails, scissors and the ocean

Mom grabbed a hairbrush and bottle of detangler as she fixed my hair for school. My long blonde hair was almost down to my waist. Even with her best efforts and Johnson and Johnson’s “No More Tears,” I felt like I was being scalped, and cried. Two ponytails, tightly anchored to each side of my head, emerged. School pictures. Must look nice, you know. Age 6. Most of the time that is how she fixed my hair. A child who could not sit still, I was, curious, creative. Energetic. If someone asked me a question and I wanted to say “no,” I flipped my head back and forth until the ponytails slapped me in the face. This, I had practiced with other girls at school. We had such fun. Until my teacher informed me that is not how you say “no.” Those were the days of “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am,” and consequences for disrespect.

How did I not get dizzy?

My Grandma Ferguson was a cosmetologist for many years.

A few tries at detangling my hair, and well.

Here she came with scissors.

“It will look so cute,” she said. “You don’t need all that long hair in your way. It will be clean, and cool.”

Goodbye, ponytails. Every time Grandma took care of me for any length of time, those scissors appeared.

My mother cried, and was furious that Grandma had cut off about 22 inches of blonde glory.

It grew. Hair does that, you know.

Looking back on my school pictures, the length of my hair went short and longer, though never as long as it was when I was 6.

The first time I willingly asked to get my hair cut short was when Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill hit the tv screen. Everyone at school wanted to be just like her. And I was ready for a change.

Actually, that should have been a sign to those who knew me that something was not right. It was not long after the first full blown rape (I was about age 9) that I cut my hair.

Through the years, it grew again. All little girls were following the trends of whatever teen idol hit the magazine cover.

Then Princess Diana emerged. My grandparents spoke much of England .. grandma’s family way back were from Yorkshire. I watched every tv interview with the princess. Bought every teen magazine I could that featured her. Watched her entire wedding .. live on television in the middle of the night.

Beautiful.

The teen magazine gave a diagram you could clip and take to your hairdresser, for the perfect “Lady Di” haircut.

I felt free and beautiful.

Until the first time I washed my hair, and an alpaca appeared. There were duck flips everywhere (we had no flat irons then.)

So I grew my hair again.

My current hairdresser told me that whenever a woman goes for a “change” in her hair, there is often something else going on.

The ocean.

By age 16, my hair had grown below my shoulders and I made peace with my curls. I washed it every day. Air dried it at night. And put hot rollers in every morning. An easy routine. Tied a scarf around to keep it off my face and let it fly.

I walked along the beach on a windy, sunny day. My hair dancing in the breeze as I just enjoyed the vastness and power of the ocean, its tides, the waves and salty smell.

Ocean air has a way of kissing you, even your car when a little sand gets inside on the floormats.

One of the sweet pleasures in life .. that peace of letting go of cares and troubles.

Everyone has a happy place, I suppose.

And that was mine.

The story of short and long, I believe, has many twists and turns throughout the years. In one relationship, I was required by my man to get a haircut that was almost as short as a guy’s haircut.

Years later, he told me that it was because he was afraid someone would “steal me.”

I guess it was all about control.

Hence, hair decisions. “What do you like?” my friends ask.

And I am tossed. My kids all want me to grow it out, as that was the mommy they knew for years. Will it look stringy and unkempt? I am old, I say.

Then I go grocery shopping and see occasionally, a lady in a well defined feminine, short haircut. That cut needs no entrance. It makes an announcement of its own. Just like Princess Di.

It says, I am organized. Clean.

There you have it. These blogs, you know, I write because I enjoy living creatively and pursuing adventure and a brighter point of view. It is no secret that my target readership are those who have been abused.

How is it that just this year, I finally learn the true reason I wrestle with short and long.

The struggle for control, being neat, not feeling unkempt (many survivors of sexual abuse are meticulously clean .. it is how we cope.) Versus the desire to not worry over said hairstyle and be free. What will I choose? It does not matter.

I know who I am, and that the true victory is this: just like the ebb and flow of the ocean’s tides, my decisions on hair may go back and forth. But sand is sand. I am still whole, no matter the shape of how I present myself. Whether a storm comes and piles the sand on the shore, or takes it away as it recedes, my life has meaning. I am free to be me.

photo of woman walking on seashore
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Thunderstorms, tennis shoes, and a blue patch of sky

The day ended like any other work day, as I hopped into my car to head home.

Clouds.

Well anyone who lives in Florida knows we deal with those pop up rain showers on any given afternoon during the summer.

Toodling through town (is that a word, not sure), I finally made my way to the parkway and then.

The clouds became darker. Wind picked up a bit.

My foot accelerated about the time I saw three forked sky to ground lightning strikes, and I felt it, whether because of fear or the actual change in the atomo

lightning and gray clouds
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sphere, my throat went dry.

“Dear Jesus,” I said. Praying all sorts of protection as the lightning got worse, the rain hit and that is when I knew.

I was driving into a storm.

The road is treacherous enough without the interference of said storm.

I tried as I could, without speeding, to move along quickly so I could get out of the mess.

But there we were.

About 25 cars stopped at a traffic light on a busy road at rush hour.

Something that sounded like metal shavings was hitting the top of my car, hail? If it was, I could not see it.

All I could think of was the scene in the movie where one actress, on the phone with someone in the middle of a tornado, says “Julie, we got cowwwsss” as they fly by helplessly in the wind.

Freaked out? Yes I was. I love a good storm. Just not when I am in my car.

I looked around, as others looked around, to see if something was going to fly through the air pretty as you please.

Green.

Thank God, the light turned green.

And all I could think of then is hey my law enforcement and firefighter friends go out in these kinds of messes all the time.

Chicken I was, I admit that. About a quarter mile down the road, the rain hits so hard that everyone slowed to a southern crawl on the road, as visibility was terrible.

One car on the opposite side of the road had stopped (bad idea, keep moving, albeit slow).

A few minutes later, I see it.

A patch of clear blue sky ahead of me.

And in my rear view mirror, darkness and streaked lightning.

Made it to the light just over the railroad tracks to hit the stretch where I turn for home, and yes.

The light turned red.

Behind me were the motorists making haste to outrun the storm, running like a band of people across a parted sea to get to the other side.

Several minutes passed.

Finally made it home. Was thinking I should have worn tennis shoes for the sprint from my car to the house.

Looked over my shoulder to see the sky of darkness billowing towards the farm.

And exhale I did.

Thankful I was, to let the storm roar. The lights inside flickered.

Where did the blue sky go?

But then, it is still there.

The sun is still shining above the storm.

Off now to get ready again for work. I pray you navigate safely through the storms of your life.

Point A to Point B can be difficult. Hold on to the wheel. Keep moving. Watch out for anything that flies your way. And when it is over, give thanks.

 

The road and the offroad

Travel is a celebration of time off and the chance to see new things.

My inner soul at times craves wide open spaces, uncrowded roads, and a meandering off the beaten path.

“Have you ever noticed how friendly travelers are?” my aunt said, as we took a small road trip from her house in Indianapolis to the Oliver Winery.

Mildly busy, the winery was full of good vibes and fantastic energy. Inside, a wine tasting was underway, a building with a pristine gift shop and a decked out inside standing bar.

Quiet chatter, some giggles and wrinkled noses here and there, the group seemed a jovial bunch.

A couple celebrating their wedding anniversary asked us to take a photo of them. They were glowing with that “wine” happiness to the point that I wondered which of them was the designated driver, or if they really were going to take themselves out like that on the happy highway.

Things a public safety reporter thinks about.

Nevertheless, my aunt was right. Everyone in the room and outside, was sipping wine and having picnic lunches under tree canopies that arched over the winery and the steep, majestic grassy embankment that led to a small lake below. Conversations unfolded as to where people were from and where they were headed.

In the midst of middle America, what appeared to be a Sultan, sat nearby with his wife, both dressed in brilliantly shiny satin embroidery and white tunics. He was leaned back against a bannister, as she sat gracefully on the picnic bench. A broad smile came across his face as he saw us. He did not speak, but a smile is universal.

My bestie and I had brought my aunt to meet my second cousin, and we unfolded our picnic and talked about travel, traffic, and other things. I mentioned how many trucks were on the interstate on our way up to Indiana from Florida.

My bestie said as often as possible, she likes to get off the interstate.

And we did.

Upon leaving the winery for the day, we took a series of turns, guided by GPS.

The road became more narrow, the trees taller, the forest denser, and the road turned into gravel and rock instead of pavement.

Of course, my aunt not being the country sort (never mind we come from a farm family lol), was not enthused about this sudden scenic route.

She is riding with a deputy (who is also a scout), and a reporter, both of which have a sense of adventure, and suddenly, my aunt says, “where are we??”

She is not liking being off the beaten path. But the beauty thereof was amazing.

“We are somewhere,” I told her. “GPS says so.”

The bestie and I are both laughing.

Behold, a sign. The Monroe Morgan State Park.

The road did become extremely narrow at one point. Roads did not used to be wide, and we figured the route we were taking was the one the oldtimers used to use. After about an hour, we suddenly resurfaced from the forest to paved roads with stop signs and beautiful, smaller farms with exquisite barns.

My aunt breathed a sigh of relief.

When was the last time you explored the unfamiliar?

We had many such explorations during our July trip to Indiana.

And it proved to me that there are still places in this country where you can go to get some fresh air and be in the midst of God’s creation.

rain passing through at clearing in the woods
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The sage speaks on a rainy day

The pattering of the rain was both comforting and depressing all at once. A series of grey days, grey thoughts, cloudy moments, dismal ponderings had somehow engulfed my spirit and I was sad.

Well that is not a great way to start off an inspirational blog, is it?

Glitzyadventure.com is all about light and joy, hope and creativity.

I was at work and though it was thus far a productive day, the grey meh had settled in.

So I did what I do when I want to kindle my creativity.

I stood up.

Walking to the other side of the cubicle, I visited a coworker who “gets it.” She is kind of like the character “Wilson” on actor Tim Allen’s comedy show where he is a handyman, “Tool Time.” Wilson’s face is rarely seen, but he is a sage of great advice for his neighbor.

“Death,” I told my coworker. “I am surrounded by death. We write about people who are dying. I have friends who are fighting cancer. Everywhere I look, that is all I hear. And I am sad.”

To add to that, I told her, I felt like I was accomplishing nothing.

This clearly is a carryover from childhood, and I call it like I see it. Real people address real issues. They don’t run from them.

She smiled. I smiled. My sadness evaporated because I knew she understood and did not judge me for that.

So she shared with me something she heard from someone else.

“Write down three ways you bring value to this day,” she said.

Remarkable.

Although I am a list maker, and a checker-offer of said lists (I know that is not a word), I never thought about the concept of the word “value” as it applies to me. Self esteem, yes. Empowerment, yes. Goals, yes.

The word “value” gets you thinking, hey I am a part of this puzzle of life, this team of forward thinkers, this gathering of creatives.

Value.

It could be listing something as small as I held a door open for someone. Or I wrote an announcement for the paper so others could attend an event. Or I loaned a book to someone.

When I think of value, I see my contribution, as well as the bigger picture.

Outside, the rain was still coming down in long, steady sheets. The skies were pearly grey, and though the day was dark, something inside me changed.

What if I had not stood up, sought encouragement, stretched forth to take hold of a golden cup of wisdom?

Something so simple is both glittery and adventurous all at once.

Now, I have one more thing to pass on to others because I learned something new.

splash of water
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Project: Take out your journal or your favorite notebook. Maybe you are stuck today. Grey. Meh. Whatever. Write down three ways you bring value. For sure, it will lift your spirit.