Posted by: clearspaces60 | July 31, 2020

2020-Seven Months In

As we close out the seventh month of a year we hope to never repeat, we still have five long months to go.  Today is National Avocado Day and we are ending National Ice Cream Month. 2020 is The Year of the Woman and the Year of the Rat.  As a woman who turned 60 this month, I was born in the Year of the Rat.  “The Rat is the Chinese zodiac sign for being inquisitive, shrewd, and resourceful. The Rat is also the first in the rotation of the 12 zodiac signs, meaning that a Rat year is a year of renewal.”- The Internet

I certainly hope this is a year of renewal, and I will keep that in mind as I continue eating avocados and ice cream while being inquisitive, shrewd, and resourceful. I think as women, we need a do-over year!

In these precarious times, I try to remember to check in with myself and be honest about it.  How am I doing? No, really, how am I doing?  At times I am doing great.  Other times I can feel the dark cloud of the pandemic, unequal justice, discrimination, and other frightening news weighing me down. I prefer to look at how I can help others but as they say, if you don’t put on your oxygen mask first, then you become the one who needs the help. I strive to regroup and replenish before I am mentally and emotionally depleted.

Once I was a corporate manager and ran meetings, I opened them by going around the table asking, “What’s working?” Each person had to answer, it created an uplifting environment with plenty of space to also discuss what was not working. 

“What’s working?”

I am looking for bright spots in my days along with expanding my comfort zone.  I love having a box outside our front door for delivery drivers. It is filled with water bottles and snacks that change every time we go to the store.  I started it before Christmas last year and now it is more important as I appreciate beyond measure that people may be risking their lives to deliver to us.  I went outside my level of comfort by recording a Zoom video about tithing for our church.  I am comfortable on a stage but not being in front of a camera alone.  I learned more about Zoom and myself. It was well received and gave me an opportunity to truly receive compliments.

In numerous conversations, I am realizing that many people, including myself, have given ourselves the false impression that we are going to finish many projects during this time.  I think the first thing we need to do is determine what is an unfinished project and what is an ongoing project.  Decades ago, I found that releasing an unfinished needlework project was a step towards freedom.  I had moved on to different hobbies.  I learned that there are people who love to finish projects that had been started, who knew?  An ongoing project for me is anything to do with paperwork, books, photos, magazines, drawers, cabinets, and flat surfaces. 

Back to basics is working for me, sharing some ideas that have worked for me consistently and using words that work for me.  For example, make sure your oven is empty before you turn it on, read a recipe completely and make sure you have all of the ingredients and are prepared for steps like “refrigerate overnight” before you start cooking.  Put your spray bottles of cleaner with the sprayer towards the back of the cabinet when storing.  Don’t put glass jars at the front edge of any shelf in your fridge.  I prefer the word sorted to organize, tidy up to straighten up, effective to efficient.  Acknowledge yourself for at least five things every day, big or small things, write them down or say them to yourself. 

  1. Prayer partner call
  2. Morning pages
  3. Vitamins (I hate taking vitamins especially gel capsules)
  4. Wrote a blog post
  5. Posted it
Posted by: clearspaces60 | May 31, 2020

Look It Up

“The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.”
― Thurgood Marshall

I wanted to write a blog post by the end of the month, self-imposed deadlines can be great motivators, but what I am working on feels light and fluffy, or maybe it feels white and fluffy.  I am a white woman about to turn 60. I have experienced sexual discrimination and harassment.  That is not the same as racial discrimination and I would never even think that I know anything about that firsthand.  I only know what I have witnessed and intervened when possible, heard about from other people, seen on a screen, or read about.  

Last week I had hoped that all eyes would have been on the SpaceX Crew Dragon as it lifted off with American astronauts to dock at the International Space Station. A first in many ways.

This week has been horrible for thousands of people, many have lost loved ones to COVID-19 in addition to other horrible diseases, accidents, and acts of violence.  Then the whole country and now world has witnessed the brutal killing of George Floyd by one or more police officers.  I am enraged by all the police brutality I saw just last night.  I am heartened by the actions of the police who joined their communities in protesting and grieving. I want to believe that positive change is possible.

Then I saw that today is the 99th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, (originally called a riot), my heart broke again.  I had a wonderful history teacher in high school, and she taught us a lot that was not it our textbook.  This horrific event was one of things we learned about.

 I titled this essay “Look It Up’ because I do not have the energy to see through my tears and give you all the details I would like to share. If you do not know about the NASA/SpaceX partnership, I invite you to look it up.  If you did not learn about the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, I invite you to look it up.  If you are not sure about the difference between saying protest and riot, or riot and massacre, I invite you to look it up. If you want to know how you can help change things and be an ally, I invite you to look it up. 

When I started this blog, this is what I wrote- ClearSpaces is a place to take a break with humor, reality and hopefully a little insight.  It will be slice of life with a dollop of information about dealing with clutter (yours and others).  My wish is to help create beautiful spaces in hearts, minds, homes, and lives.

This is still my wish.  I have a lot more work to do.

If you have helpful, positive suggestions, please share them in a comment.  Thank you.

Posted by: clearspaces60 | May 1, 2020

May Day or Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

It’s the first day of May! I remember colorful print dresses, baskets of flowers, teachers trying to instruct us how to braid the long ribbons around the May pole/tether-ball pole. My friends and I were just trying not to let the boys give us cooties.  What a difference 50 years can make!

A few days ago, or maybe longer, April lasted several years, a memory from five years ago popped up on social media,

“Art is the set of wings to carry you out of your own entanglement.”

Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

Wow, I thought. The world is certainly in an entanglement? It is even possible for me to think about art or creativity in a meaningful way right now?  And where was I five years ago? What was I doing? I made myself stop and think about this.  It took a while. I had to focus hard, THINK. What was I doing back then? I first figured out my age and that I would turn 55 that July, that helped. I pondered some more.  I figured out my son was a junior in high school, that helped.

Then memories rushed in like a wave hitting the shore. I was a little overwhelmed with emotion. I remembered, as Board President at our church, I was leading our congregation in the search for our new spiritual leader. It was a dream leadership opportunity. Leading a large group of wonderful loving people in an open, healthy, transparent manner. We were fortunate not to be a church in distress, we could take our time, we were not in a rush.  Our minister had retired from the pulpit in January, and there was a great deal of loving sadness going around.  We were so happy for him and his wife to start their next adventure. Yet fear of the unknown was present as well. Who we would select? Would they select us? How would things be different?

The hills and valleys of this journey prepared our church leadership to step up and lead the congregation through this unknown territory. We asked for guidance from seasoned ministers. We asked for input from other churches who had searched for a new minister.  We prayed and meditated on the input and guidance. We chose what would work for us and created our own playbook.  As a Board, we made all decisions with cooperation, collaboration, and cohesiveness.  We all agreed on a decision before moving forward.  We kept the church drama to a minimum.  Transparency was our highest goal.  As a community we elected our new minister in July of that year.

One lesson I learned during this time was to ask for help when I needed it. Most people love to share their experience and insight. I was also reminded that not everyone has the capacity to reach out for help. I am realizing that now is the time for me to check in with those around me and do what I can if they need help.

While I am no longer on the Board, I am loving how our Board is handling this new way of doing church.  They are creating wonderful online programs and opportunities to connect.  All of our ministers and leaders are available for the distress calls as well.  I am the most proud to hear that they are reaching out on a daily basis to those who are not on-line, those who are in the greatest need, those who do not have the capacity to ask for help in this moment but may need it.

Traditional May Day celebrations are different around the world, but they mainly focus on Spring, love, fertility, good crops. Celebrating the new, with a bright hope for the future.  I am hopeful that I will create new ways of caring about others, connecting with others, and using all my gifts to celebrate my world and to make it a better place.

I pray that May feels shorter than April.  Stay Home/Stay Safe.

“O May, sweet-voice one, going thus before, Forever June may pour her warm red wine Of life and passions, –sweeter days are thine!” » Helen Hunt Jackson

May 1, 2020

Posted by: clearspaces60 | March 31, 2020

Quarter End

At the beginning of the year, I vowed to post once a quarter at minimum.  I have a little over 4 hours left.  Four times a year minimum, how hard could that be? Especially since this quarter feels like it has been going on for years.  If you aren’t in the mood for attempted humor, feel free to skip this post and maybe come back to it another time.  Our world is experiencing tremendous suffering and grief, and it appears much more will follow.

For now, I wish to share a few things as they come to mind, in the stream of consciousness format, as my deadline is looming.  I am following the style of Betty White in her book, Betty White-In Person, it is a true favorite.  I lost or gave away my copy years ago.  A year or two ago, I downloaded it onto my Kindle, but my Kindle hasn’t been charged up since before Christmas.  Dear Reader, when I find both my Kindle and my charger (I obviously have loads of time on my hands these days), I will marry the two and read Ms. White’s words of wisdom once again.

Talented friends are posting on their blogs regularly.  Two I highly recommend are New Thought Evolutionary https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/36805720, and Jenny Kissed Me  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/981219   You will fill inspired and spiritually fed after reading these two wonderful writers.

As we learn to live in the Stay Home-Stay Safe environment, I have seen a lot of humor, memes, GIFs, etc. to both wake people up and to cheer them up.  Sometimes we are in the mood for self-reflection or humor, and sometimes we are not.  Let’s be gentle with ourselves and elevate our kindness to others.

How am I coping?  Chocolate, vodka, wine and potato chips are my favorite things to have on hand.  But I am also eating a much healthier assortment of foods (partially due to what is available) and my lovely husband is also making us juice several times a week.  I am getting more exercise because it feels imperative to be as healthy as possible. I have added zinc, vitamin C, and olive leaf extract to my vitamins.   I am turning 60 in July and am wondering if this will be over, or if I will then be able to shop with the seniors at the crack of dawn each morning.

I am promising myself to wear regular clothes at least every other day so make sure my pants still fit (although I may be getting a little smaller in this process, only time will tell.)  Men kindly move on to the next paragraph.  Ladies, how often are you really wearing a bra?? Who invented these things again? I no longer run or jog, so what’s the point?

I am living in a constant state of gratitude and/or fear.  I vacillate between the two.  I am grateful that our financial situation has not changed, we are paying for services that can no longer be done so that these folks still have some income.  People lost their jobs overnight and my heart goes out to them.  We have great doctors if we need them, but we don’t know what will happen next.  For the first time ever, I do not know when I will see our son who is at college in an off-campus apartment.  His university has been fabulous in communicating to the parents.  They even have an online mindfulness website which I need to check out very soon.  I don’t know when I will see my mom again.  She is about 3 hours away and I am thankful one of my sisters lives close by and can help her out when needed.  I have three sisters, when will I see them again? I visualize hugging everyone!

When the fear and panic get too big to handle, my latest plan is to grab any David Sedaris book and read a story.  His writings often make me laugh out loud. I have a daily prayer partner call with a best friend that is keeping me sane.  I just downloaded Zoom today so that will be a whole new world of communicating.  I am walking with my fear while being focused on the blessings, at least that is my well intentioned practice.

I’m on the West Coast but am meeting the East Coast deadline!

Thank you for reading this clunky and unedited post.  If you would like to share how you are thriving, coping or not coping, please share in a comment.  We are each other’s best hope in this moment.

Posted by: clearspaces60 | July 31, 2019

The Lift in the Gift

Although I was unable to attend, I recently purchased a seat at Vicki Abelson’s Women Who Write monthly salon (a definition I like) – in the past, a regular meeting of artists, writers, musicians, etc., usually at the home of a rich, famous woman.  I may have written about this before, but I can never say this too often- Vicki has a gift for bringing together THE most talented authors, writers, musicians, composers, actors and performers. Since she live streams her salons and archives them, I can watch them when I have time.  To me, this is a nominal price to pay to support my creativity, her creativity and everyone else’s.  Whenever possible, she gifts my ticket as a scholarship to someone who would not be able to afford a seat.  I think this is a lovely gift.

This month I was reminded of a time almost 10 years ago when money was tight, really, really, tight.  I wanted to attend a workshop at our church about finding your purpose and passion.  Not something you really focus on when you are wondering how to make your next mortgage payment.  It was held over a weekend, Friday night, all day Saturday, and then Sunday after church.  Our son was in elementary school then and I was feeling guilty about being gone so much over the weekend.  My husband encouraged me to go and we agreed that the cost was not going to amount to much in the long run.  Despite my unbearable guilt about the time and the money, my intuition was pulling me with a stronger conviction, and I went.

As I arrived at the registration table pulling out my wallet, the volunteer said that my registration had been paid for by my friend Yvonne.  I cannot describe the relief that cascaded over me.  I had known her for about a year and we were going to attend this workshop together, but something had come up and she had to go out of town.  Yvonne is one of the most generous human beings I have ever met, generous with her time, her ability to talk to anyone in any situation and will give you whatever you need if she can.  Yvonne has lifted the spirits of more people than I can count.  I honestly knew little about her financial situation, but I decided whether or not I thought she could afford it, she obviously knew she could.  She had encouraged me to go to this workshop and when she wasn’t able to attend, the thought of going alone was a little daunting.  And in that moment at the table, it felt like everything in me was aligned for the first time in a long time.

The workshop was truly life-altering, the presenters were supportive and encouraging. I learned that I still had some personal passions and a purpose beyond, wife, mom, and household money manager.  I met my friend Layne ( who found Vicki and took me to her salon several years ago) at that workshop and introduced her to Yvonne.  We all have a passion for writing and became great friends.  Although we may not see each other often, there is a thread running through the three of us.  I believe that thread is a result of lifting one another with our gifts.

We know there is giving in receiving and receiving in giving. Whether you are a part of the giving or receiving, the gift lifts us all.

Posted by: clearspaces60 | May 7, 2019

Decluttering My Decisions

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!  Right now, as I am typing, our kitchen and family room are being remodeled and it is very noisy.  It feels like we made thousands of decisions before this project began but, I am pretty sure it was less than a hundred.  We are still making decisions as things are changing and problems are cropping up.

Since this is my first blog of the year, I have taken a hard look at why I have not written and posted up until now.  I spend a lot of time thinking about writing something, lots of ideas come to mind and then quickly disappear as I get sidetracked or am too focused on my too long To Do List.  Other times I am just plain tired, lazy and procrastinating.  I like to think that by thinking, I am being thoughtful, careful, perhaps wise, in order to make a space for something profound to occur to me, something worth sharing.

The truth is, there are endless topics to write about.  I write Morning Pages nearly every day, there is sure to be a gem in there occasionally. The fact is, I have not made a conscious, committed decision to make my love of writing a priority.  This is a decision I want to change.

Making all the decisions around the remodel, in addition to all the other decisions I have made this year; financial, health, business, personal, daily planning etc., made me realize that at times, I am putting too much time and energy into some of them.  When the idea of “decluttering my decisions” came to me, I was struck by the thought that I had never thought about this before.  Decisions are a huge part of decluttering and organizing.  People make decisions in different ways for different reasons.  But decluttering the decision-making process itself, that was a new idea to me.

I think it was planted by all the people who have commented on all the fun we must be having in selecting everything. FUN?? And we must be so excited about all of it.  How about PANIC/TERROR/FEAR of choosing something WRONG!!  I started looking at how much time and energy I was putting into every decision and started to see the imbalance.  If I was trying to decide when to do something, if it could be done now instead of in the future, I did my best to just get it done. If it wasn’t urgent, I let it wait.  Is the decision something that can be changed or something permanent? Am I giving too much time and energy to things I cannot control? Am I accepting that at times I procrastinate?  Can I forgive myself and begin again?

I am looking at my decisions, especially to write, through a lens of joy and fun.  I am much more conscious of my time, what I am thinking about, and where I am focusing my attention.  Having played with this idea for about a month, I invite you to see if your decisions need some decluttering.  Let me know if it works for you.

 

Posted by: clearspaces60 | December 24, 2018

CHANGE

I wrote this about eight or nine years ago.  I read it to my beloved writers group every year whether they want to hear it or not! I ended my facilitation of the group last month and this was the last piece I read to them.  It was truly a bittersweet moment, but as Jeffrey in the group wrote, Nothing Lasts. Here we go again 🙂

There is a vase on our dresser that is nearly full of change from my husband’s pockets or when my wallet is too full.  We use it once in a while for lunch money or when my son repays me for some item we have bought for him and he needs change from his dollar bills. We used to roll the coins and take them to the bank but that has become more difficult over time.  Now every so often we take the vase to one of those coin machines in the grocery stores to get cash and the service charge balance on a gift card.

Many years ago my husband and I were on our way to a Christmas Eve party and we stopped at a liquor store to buy some lottery tickets for his mom.  The store was next to a Laundromat and I was surprised to see quite a few people doing laundry on Christmas Eve.  This struck me as sad because these folks did not have access to a washer and dryer where they lived or maybe theirs had broken on the holiday.  I had a thought of giving these people quarters some day and parked that idea somewhere in the recesses of my brain.

This past Christmas Eve as my husband, my mom, our son and I got ready to go to a friend’s house, I remembered this idea I had many years ago.  I thought to myself, we are going to do this even if my husband and my mother think I’m nuts.  I enlisted my son’s help and we put $5 worth of quarters into seven Ziploc Bags.  This took about 15 minutes and barely made a dent in the amount of change in the vase.  I explained to my husband and mom what I wanted to do, so on the way to the party we stopped at the same Laundromat.  We all went inside and gave a bag of quarters to each person.  It turned out to be one family with seven people doing their laundry.  We wished them each Merry Christmas and they said thank you several times with questioning looks of surprise on their faces.

It was a great experience for us as well.  I was thrilled to have acted on an idea I had thought about many years ago.  Using a little change to make a big change felt wonderful.  It reminded me to act on my intuition sooner rather than later and not to worry about how crazy some intuitive thoughts can appear to be.  Change comes in everything we see, hear, do, own and create.  They say the only real constant in this Universe is change.  So perhaps if we want consistency and peace, we must wholeheartedly embrace Change on every level.

Wishing the merriest of Christmases and a New Year filled with wonderful blessings ❤

 

Posted by: clearspaces60 | December 21, 2018

Can’t Fail Fudge or Christmas-Revisited

UPDATE:  A couple of friends recently asked me for my fudge recipe and rather than typing it up and emailing it to them, I remembered that I posted it on my blog.  I did not remember when I posted it, and I did not remember writing a post to go with it. It is December 21st, two years later, I am a little ahead of the game this year with help from family members especially one of my husband’s nieces who is not much younger than me but is a yoga teacher with tons of energy.  And isn’t it always easier to help someone else clean their house!

Feel your feelings and take care of yourself. May the gifts of joy, peace and love be yours this Christmas!

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Right now, nearly every woman I know is at least a little stressed about Christmas.  It comes with the territory every December.  Yesterday I realized that pre-Christmas is like the movie Groundhog Day.  Why do we vow that next year will be better, easier, more organized, we will start sooner, we will plan better? Some of us have been doing this for DECADES and are in the same boat every year.  How can we be kinder to ourselves?

First let’s take a deep breath and actually exhale it COMPLETELY!  Second, let’s take a minute or two to write down a short list of things we would love to do this holiday season.  Third, do any of these things match the list (that I know you already have made) of what we believe we must do?? Fourth, can we incorporate two or three Loves into the Musts?  Fifth, and this one can be a little rough, can we feel our feelings as memories rise up, happy or sad, celebratory or tragic?

It’s December 17th, Christmas is one week from tomorrow and we have not started decorating.  We had new window coverings installed in three rooms yesterday and are nearly done remodeling a bathroom that has needed a redo for almost 6 years.  My husband and I decided to get all this done before company comes for Christmas!   Oh, and we took a long-awaited trip to Napa for five days at the beginning of the month.  Every one of these things is a blessing yet the guilt still crept in.  As long as things are “good enough” on Christmas Day, which they usually are, then why can’t I Let Go and Let God?

As I walked myself through this process, I mightily exhaled.  I love to make fudge, play Christmas music, and have our home feel Christmassy without feeling obligated to put our every single decoration we own. I would love to watch my favorite Christmas movies with my husband a glass of wine instead of frantically wrapping gifts while listening to the dialogue.    Can I incorporate these into my schedule beyond the cleaning and rearranging and shopping that Must be done?  Yes, I can if I set my intention and focus on my love of beauty, comfort and joy.  I  realized that many past Christmases were surrounded by illness, surgeries, accidents and death.  Events happen and we dearly miss people.  If we don’t feel our feelings, then all hell can break loose when you least expect it.  Being emotionally healthy is the biggest gift we can give ourselves.  And let’s be honest, except under the most extreme situations, when have we ever failed at Christmas?

Now on to the fudge.  My mom found this recipe when I was a teenager and I have been making this fudge for about 40 years now! It is easy to make and it is delicious. I  often get rave reviews, one from a woman who told me she was a judge at the County Fair and is now one of my best friends.  (One of these summers I will get my act together and enter it into the competition, hmm, a future blog post.)

Can’t Fail Fudge

  • 4 Cups              Miniature marshmallows  (Fresh from the store, not stale from                                                                                  your pantry, I know you)
  • 2/3 Cup            Evaporated Milk
  • ¼ Cup               Butter/ half a stick                 
  • 1 ½ Cups              Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon         Salt
  • 12 oz./1 Bag       Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Teaspoon         Vanilla Extract
  • ½ Cup                  Chopped Nuts (optional)

 Combine marshmallows, evaporated milk, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium/medium high heat.  Cook and stir until mixture comes to a full boil.  Boil for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and add in chocolate chips beating until melted.  Do not overbeat.  Gently fold in vanilla, (then the nuts).  Pour into a 9” square pan or pie pan and chill until firm.

Makes approximately 2 ½ pounds.

 

Posted by: clearspaces60 | October 26, 2018

What Are You Ready to Win?

Most people would love to win the lottery.  Lottery Fever is in the air with the recent record-breaking billion-dollar jackpots.  Even matching some of the numbers could lead you to becoming a millionaire. Daydreaming about how you would spend the money is a wonderful way to spend some time.  Many people say that they want to help their family and give to charity.  These are great goals and of course mostly fantasy, yet there are winners, few and far between, but people do win.

If you were one of the lucky winners, are you ready for it? Do you know your state’s laws about the lottery? Most states force you to be publicly identified, are you ready for that? Are you prepared for the onslaught of requests for money and the incredible number of long-lost relatives that are going to come out of the wood work?  Do you have a banker, an accountant, a financial adviser, and a lawyer?  Is it better for you to create a trust or a LLC?  Have you investigated the charities you want to give to? Do you want to start your own charitable foundation? Do you know how? Are you aware that you can only give a person $15,000 a year without any tax ramifications? Do you have a strong backbone as you will need to get really comfortable with the word “no”?

These are all great problems to be solved.  As with any dream or desire, we need to spend some time preparing ourselves for it to come true.  Turning our dreams and desires into goals helps us figure out what we need to learn as well as what steps to take.

Some lottery winners’ lives take a turn for the worse. They trust the wrong people, they find out the true nature of their relatives and friends, or they simply could not accept the windfall of wealth and spend the money until it is gone.  Greed, jealousy, anger and resentment fully come to the surface when someone does not support your success or good fortune.

Prepare yourself for receiving your dreams and desires, no matter what they are.  Surround yourself with spiritual armor so when people tell you that your idea is nuts, you’re crazy, you don’t deserve it, etc., you can boldly stand in the truth of your vision.  Spend some time thinking about what great problems you need to solve to get what you want, and then go about the business of learning how to solve them.  What are you ready to win today?

Posted by: clearspaces60 | October 6, 2018

First Blog Post of October

Message to Myself-

Feed your Soul

Listen more, to your inner voice and to the voices of others

Engage in your passions

When you don’t know where to start, clean out your purse

Eat more fruits and vegetables

Be Love and Peace

Work to Live, don’t Live to Work

Acknowledge yourself daily

Empower and encourage others when you can

Support organizations that empower and encourage others

When you crave calm, close your eyes for a few minutes

Sitting is the new “smoking”, stand more often

When you know you are done with something, let it go with grace

Follow your Bliss

Add Joy and Beauty wherever you can

Eat more dark chocolate

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