Delete Sheet Rows

If your life were an Excel spreadsheet, what would be in its columns and its rows? 

computer glass plant

Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

This question occurred to me while volunteering in an administrative position at a local non-profit agency for the aging.  The organization had recently sent out an appeal letter asking for donations to help support aging well in our island community.  As is the case with any sort of bulk mailing, letters were returned for incomplete or incorrect addresses, changes of residence, and, in some cases, deaths during the previous year.

Upon arriving at the center this day, I was handed a hefty stack of envelopes that had been returned for the various reasons mentioned above.  It was my assignment to edit the organization’s mailing list on an Excel spreadsheet so that future mailings would have a lower return rate from the post office.  It wasn’t until I got to the bundle labeled “Delete” that I realized that a sizable number of the previous year’s elder members and donors had passed away.

A variety of notes were scrawled across the face of the returned envelopes to denote a person’s passing: Deceased . . . No longer alive . . . Departed the planet . . . My father transitioned in July . . . Bertie died this year.  This sort of thing.  One envelope was as succinct as it could be: This person is dead.

My task was to find each person on the spreadsheet, delete the contact information from the mailing list, draw a line through the address label on the face of envelope to indicate the edit had been taken care of, and then build a new stack of envelopes to my left to be deemed “Done & Entered.”

As I deleted, crossed out, and placed envelopes on the “Done & Entered” stack, something overpowering came over me, amplifying my awareness of what I was actually doing.  As I highlighted a row with someone’s name and clicked on the Delete Sheet Rows in the top ribbon of commands, I felt like I was dishonoring an important and essential life with the irreverent blitheness of a keystroke.  It was reducing someone’s lifetime contributions to a thoughtless Delete command.

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Photo by Shaun Bell on Unsplash

I stopped.  I looked at the stack of envelopes already piled in the “Done & Entered” stack and started over with my handling of each envelope with a different sense of care.  As I read each person’s name and address, I wondered what kind of life he or she had experienced. Were they musicians, artists, welders, teachers, truck drivers, writers, baristas, chocolatiers? Public figures, homemakers, philanthropists, grocery clerks? Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives?  Did they have families and pets who missed them?

As I looked at each envelope in the stack, I sent their families, friends, and loved ones my sympathies and hoped that they were coping with their grief from losing a loved one.  After each of these mini-celebrations of life, I would draw a big heart around each address label with a pink highlighter and put the envelope back on the stack that I was now labeling “Honored.”

Delete Sheet Rows . . . During my walk later that afternoon, the Excel entry work from the morning stayed with me.  I started to wonder: If my life were an Excel spreadsheet, what would be in its columns and its rows?  Later that evening when the house was quiet, I pulled up Excel on my laptop.

How to Journal with an Excel Spreadsheet

Across the top row of the spreadsheet, I randomly labeled boxes with my priority categories: people, dreams, goals, favorite activities, work, projects, etc.  There was nothing organized or prioritized with this labeling.  I just tabbed and listed what was near and dear to me across the top row.  I eventually had to rein myself in as I realized how impossibly far my columns were stretching to the east. Having to tab ad infinitum to the right was not going to make future journaling fun, so I started to organize columns into broad categories.

As I categorized my columns, it became clear that the spreadsheet was turning into a focus wheel – only in the form of a graph.  Eventually, by condensing the number of columns to eight, I was able to really focus on what I want to prioritize this next year.

After skipping the first column to allow for listing my activities and such in the rows below, my focus categories were labeled across the top line in columns 2-9:

  1. relationships
  2. health & exercise & outdoors
  3. dreams & goals
  4. music & art
  5. awareness & mindfulness
  6. writing
  7. play & fun
  8. learning

I then started to list activities, creative efforts, wanting, dreaming, and conceptualizing down the first column on the left that I had left for “actions & experiences.” (Examples: go to spin class, play mandolin, call my big brother, meditate, take Bronte to the beach, finish writing chapter 3, do an acrylic pour, etc.)

I then typed a number “1” into each box across the row below each priority column corresponding with what this “action” row item incorporated.  This was to allow for auto-summing columns later so I could assess my “tangibility” of focus.

For example, an afternoon of painting ceramic pots at a local pottery shop with my two best friends translated into entering a “1” across the row under six columns: relationships, dreams & goals (we talked a lot about this topic as we painted), music & art,  awareness & mindfulness (another great part of the afternoon), play & fun, and learning.  That is a lot of boxes!

Results and Discoveries

Research shows that engaging in reflection will boost and grow your memory and enrich the quality of the experience.  I discovered that the recording and the categorizing of my experiences on the spreadsheet served as this enhancing reflection.  And to carry it forward, by having these columns of focus spread out on an Excel spreadsheet, I could really embrace and grow my awareness of what was undeniably my life’s priorities and remind myself to stay focused and balanced.

By looking at – and really studying – the spreadsheet, I began to feel a renewed motivation to make my life feel engaged and rewarding and balanced . . . and not just let it slip into what has been a tendency to become “default mode.”  For example, I pushed myself to organize a fun activity to do with friends that involved seven of the columns.  While the goal is not about simply checking off all the boxes, it is about paying attention to what makes life feel balanced by incorporating preferences into memorable moments.

What really came out of my “Study in Excel” is I realized how long it had been since I had taken the time “to plan” inspiring moments into my life and “to follow through” by becoming more proactive and conscious about how globally some of these feel-good times blessed my life.

It showed that I had been slipping into the role of a passive talker – and sometimes complainer – and not an active do-er.  I had somewhere along life’s timeline given myself permission to succumb to the numbing acceptance of “whatever” and was ignoring any prompts of self-dissatisfaction to take more control of my choices in life – inspiring me to steer my time into my Priority Columns of 8 and beyond.

This process of Excelling my life has surpassed my initial curiosity that first night of musing and journaling.  This exercise has grown to guide, to inspire, and to humble me.  My name and address on an envelope may someday become a Delete Sheet Rows keystroke in an organization’s mailing list . . . but to the people who are important to me?  I want them to see their names and our shared experiences listed over and over on my life’s spreadsheet and to understand and to feel the beautiful meaning that their essence, time, and love have infused into my life.

Truth, we are far, far more than the sum of any rows and columns on a spreadsheet.  It is the little things in living that make for a life fulfilled.  By living a life infused with more intention and connecting the dots between relationships and actions, we can better appreciate the time that we have during our time on planet Earth and with the people we love.

 

 

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No GPS Required

image. expectations vs realityExpectations.  Yikers.  The mere mention of the word has the needle on my perfection-meter bouncing all over the place.

What is an expectation anyway?  An expectation is the idea that we hold ourselves or others to an experience or achievement that we believe will, without a doubt, happen in the future.  And assumptions are as attached to expectations as ice cream is to the hips.  We make the assumption that because of ABC, well . . . DEF surely must follow  . . . and so it will merrily go until XYZ gives us a cute curtsy at the final curtain call and we can all go home.

There is a certain, oftentimes hidden, agenda of chronological events — an order Continue reading

Does this really matter?

Does this matter?

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There are different types of weight that we carry around with us, both on the frame of our body and in our mind, heart, and soul.  Yes, there are those few extra pounds of body weight that remind us every time we step onto the scale and then there is the weight of our responsibilities, worries, and burdens that slow us down and drag behind us as we attempt to carry them through the day.  One way to lighten up our respective loads is to ask ourselves:

 Does this really matter?

This question can apply to many different things, events, and encounters throughout the day and is of greater benefit for your quality of life than simply checking to see what number shows up on the bathroom scale.  If there were a scale that quantified how heavy my heart is while carrying the various burdens and responsibilities that I lug around with me throughout the day, I would fear even stepping onto it.  Perhaps the sheer possibility to acknowledge such spirit weight would prevent me from getting out of bed in the morning. 

In an effort to lighten my spirit along with my body weight, I have begun asking, “Does this matter?  I mean, really matter?”  Here’s a good example of a recent situation where I am actively trying to turn a Yes response to this question into a No.

Yesterday, my neighbor came over to inform me that she had “accidentally” trimmed all of the beautiful green vines that laced and encircled my mailbox on my property.  I loved this entwining greenery and have admired its lushness every time I walked out to retrieve my mail.  This neighbor since moving in next door has adopted a scorched-earth policy and has been mercilessly hacking away at any living plant in her yard.  As disheartening as this has been to observe, I have accepted that it’s her yard and she can do with it as she wills.  But my property and my mailbox?  I wanted to scream!

When she came over to tell me that she had mistaken my mailbox for hers and that she had stripped away all the beautiful vines and plants to bare earth, I wanted to come completely unglued.  As I walked out to the mailbox with her so she could show me the carnage she had wrought, I had to quickly ask myself, Does this matter?  I wanted to shout, cry, and say bad words to her about the death and destruction that she has wrought on the neighborhood.  I wanted to tell her that she was a bad human being and that she had no business messing with my property.  That she had some kind of obsessive death wish on anything growing and living and that she should move to the desert.  That I was super hurt and angry.

But being a believer in the power of allowing my rational brain to catch up with my emotional brain in order to avoid an emotional hijacking, I surveyed the damage and told her that I wasn’t in a good place to talk about it at that time.  That I was going into the house to absorb.  And then gently told her to kindly stay the hell away from my property, my mailbox, and all growing plants that are between our two houses . . . and that if she had future intentions of annihilating any plants on our shared property line, to come talk with me first.  

In review, I handled the situation pretty well.  I actually delivered my message with an admirable deadpan that contained all of my frustration, hurt, and anger.  All because I paused to ask myself, “Does this matter?”  In the big scheme of life and its real global problems, the hacking away of some greenery by an obsessive neighbor is neither a global threat nor a personal tragedy.  It bugs the hell out of me, but I have to hope that I will eventually get over it and that Mother Earth will heal and replenish the victimized plants.  Amen.

One way I try to ultimately deal with annoyances of this kind and move on is to ask,

“At the end of my life, will I still be obsessing over this?”

At the end of my life, will I still be obsessing over the crazy neighbor lady with the pruning shears?  Chances are the answer is “No,” so I will let it go.  I have to let it go.  Or at least I will continue to work on letting it go.  And if I want to live an authentic life that is true to my beliefs, I have to let it go.  Otherwise my life will be predicated on another’s thoughtless actions and not on my own beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and actions.  I choose peace over strife, love over dislike, and forgiveness over a grudge.  Let the healing begin by answering, “Does this matter?”  And I send up a prayer: Please, Mother Earth send up some healing green vining shoots from this offensive massacre.  

How about you?  The next time you find yourself getting super annoyed by the daily coffee grounds scattered all over the kitchen counter by your house mate . . . does it really matter?  Or when that annoying co-worker steals the credit for your creative idea – again! – and makes it his own . . . does it really matter?  Or when you finish off that pint of chocolate ice cream at midnight while standing over the sink . . . does it really matter?  Go easy on others and on yourself.  

What is it that really matters to you?  Align yourself with your beliefs and your awareness of what they are.  Revisit them.  Journal about them.  Live them.  Share them.  Write a manifesto or a mission statement that represents your beliefs.  Know thyself and imagine yourself getting on a quantum-physics scale that weighs your spirit.  Do you want it to read “light as the air found in a bird’s hollow bone” or do you want it to read “denser than a ton of blue whale blubber”?  (No offense to the beautiful blue whales of the planet that grace our oceans with elegance and beauty, but they sure are heavy.  And the amazing thing?  They float!)  It’s your choice, your process, your control, your letting go, your destiny.  What do you want this quantum scale to read? 

When you catch yourself getting caught up in the petty, annoying, silly frustrations of life, ask yourself “Does this matter?”   If you are able to answer with a “No” and add a laugh to your answer, you just lost an immeasurable weight from your mind, heart, and soul.  Be one with your mindfulness, and do not ally yourself with another’s thoughtlessness.  Forgive and move on.  You are the ultimate recipient of any forgiveness that you are able to give. (I know.  It can feel like a hard thing to task yourself with but it’s worth your focus and effort.  Promise.)

Time for some journaling.

Be still for a moment and relax.  I mean really relax.  Sit down.  Lower your shoulders from your ears.  Empty your hands and put your hands in your lap.  Take five deep breaths. 

What matters to you?

Make a list of people, pets, qualities, things, circumstances, events, dreams . . . that matter to you.  Just go for it.  Don’t filter yourself.

Now go back through your list and circle your top three or top five or top ten, whatever circling activity that makes you happy.  Let these circled items guide your decisions, shape your beliefs, inform your reactions, and create your relationships.  Let them become the things that matter.  Embrace, nurture, and live what matters.  

a brand new year

Our Subsumed Lives

to subsumeto include or place within something larger or more comprehensive;   encompass as a subordinate or component element

When you were a child, what did you want to be when your grew up?  

seashell-754015_960_720If you are doing something quite different from what you imagined you would be doing, what happened? What swerved you onto a different path that led you away from your childhood dreams?  Or maybe you are still very much there, living the dream, without even realizing it?

There are many subsuming elements that our lives encounter, embrace, deny, or challenge.  Elements that distract us from who-we-are and steer us onto paths into what  feels to be a foreign country where we don’t speak the language and we don’t understand the customs.

When I was a child, I wanted to be Continue reading

The Things I Thought I Wanted: a diary with a lock and key . . . and the thing about secrets

diary-1449287_960_720Oh, how I wanted a diary when I was a girl.  You know the kind . . . a beautiful girly girl’s diary with a lock and key.  And I was simply ecstatic the Christmas when I was ten years old and I received one.  Mine had a navy blue cover with gold embossing and “1 Year Diary” gold-stamped into the cover.  I simply loved it!  I can still remember the sound that the gilt-edged pages made when I opened it for the first time . . . It felt like that crinkly sound was opening its pristine, glued-together pages to the secrets I was about to share with it.

Well, that’s the thing about secrets.  No matter how much we try to preserve them or hide them from the prying eyes and inquiring minds that intersect our life, they are [sometimes] doomed to be discovered . . . paraded . . . maybe even disrespected.  We feel violated when our secrets have been made public without our permission.

It takes a lot of risk and guts to commit a secret to the page . . . a lesson that I was quick to learn at this young age.  My hopes of finding my true self via those gilt-edged pages were temporarily dashed when my big sister read my diary entries aloud — pages that detailed my first big crush [Dean W.], in front of said crush, who was my big brother’s best buddy.

maple-leaf-638022_960_720I learned a lot that day about secrets and sisters and writing and locks and keys.  I learned that just because something has a lock on it, doesn’t mean that it can’t be jimmied open.  I learned that secrets can be made un-secret when they fall into the wrong hands.  That, although it can be risky, it’s okay to be honest with my thoughts.  That what someone else chooses to do doesn’t define who I am.  That although I might feel a wee bit discouraged, I am going to keep writing.

It took some time to view things from my sister’s perspective.  I learned that people do things that they don’t really intend to be hurtful in long-lasting ways.  That what might seem funny at the time, never really was in the first place. And that sisters somehow stick together, even when they do things that aren’t very nice.

french-1040839_960_720I am happy to have survived the awkwardness, and — now all the stronger — I have maintained my love and discipline of writing.   And in the ways of true forgiveness, I have since pardoned my diary-reading, secret-disclosing sister.  We are still the best of friends.

But you know how writing is.  It liberates us, even when life sort of sucks.  Writing asks us to pay attention to the details, even when it hurts.  Little does this sister know that she is the muse for an extremely unattractive, glowering villainess who gets her payback comeuppance in one of my current short stories.

But this is the way of writing.  You can change what is now by writing it into a different room or even onto a different planet.  Does reality change?  I don’t know how to answer this.  I only know how to live it.  And write it.  And tell my sister that I love her dearly, because I do.  And keep my journal hidden when she comes to visit.

Your choice. Choose you.

door. lock. unlock your dreams

theunseenwordsproject.com

Greetings, lovelies.  Today is a great day to Choose You.  

  1. Grab that key.
  2. If you can’t find the key, teach yourself how to pick a lock.
  3. Open the lock and swing the doors wide open.  You might be surprised to discover that you have actually, all this time, been the one who has been locked inside — not the other way around, with all this time thinking that your dreams are the ones that have been locked up and inaccessible.
  4. Step outside into the world of possibility and let your hair flow in the fresh breeze.
  5. Open your arms and embrace the many opportunities that are all around you.
  6. There are so many that are designed especially for you.  For you.  Believe.
  7. Step forth and choose.  You only have to choose one to make a difference in today.  Like choosing a puppy from a darling litter of adorable choices, pick the one that picks you.
  8. Nurture your choice.  Let it know that it is loved.  Feed it, water it, walk it, clean up after it.
  9. Groom your choice.  Brush it, bathe it, pick the sticks and burrs that get stuck when it is out running around and exploring.
  10. An opportunity is a choice.  You are worth the time and care that making the choice to choose you requires to nurture it.  Love who you are.  Believe in yourself.  Choose well.

Are you an InstaGoogler?

passionately curious. einsteinAgain . . . Albert Einstein leads us by the hand and takes us to what it is about our own selves that makes us who we are.  What a remarkable person he was.

Question: What are you passionately curious about?  What is One Thing you enjoy learning about?  What is One Thing that you would like to spend some time exploring?  

What is the first answer that pops into your head?  Got it?  Next, download a [FREE] journal worksheet that will take you just a little bit further into and  farther down your Road of Curiosity.

I sometimes think that we have simply been so inundated with so much information.  

I love having Google at my very fingertips . . . but still.  Anything you want to know is just a Siri-command away.  Who wrote Stand by Me?  What is the Mariners – Angels score?  What are the health benefits of turmeric?

Are you an InstaGoogler?

Are you one of those Instant Googlers that reaches for your phone when you or someone else wonders something aloud?  Does having Instant Information at our fingertips or voice command rob us of deepening our curiosity?  Do we learn an answer and then dismiss it and maybe even forget it until the next Wonder enters the room?

I wonder.  Does having this wonderful advantage of instant information simply stuff us full of trivia and rob us of our passionate curiosity at the same time?  There is a difference — a chasm — between Knowing and Wanting to Know . . . a gap between Knowing An Answer and Wanting to Know more about stuff.  At least this is what occurs to me.  It seems that I know more and more about less and less than I used to . . . which is all good.  But still.  Don’t we truly want to know more, possess more knowledge, feel that depth-scraping satisfaction that only deep learning  provides?

Make curiosity a rewarding habit.  Explore your Curiosity with this free journaling download.

To download a free (and empowering) journaling worksheet that will help you explore and enjoy your Passionately Curious Thing, fill out the contact information below.  [This will not add you to any mailing list for future journal worksheets — unless you specify that you would like to receive them.]  This journal exercise is a journey into your curiosity, your passions, and your area of interest that defines who you are.  It’s good stuff!

Life is simply so interesting and there is soooooo much to be passionately curious about.  Live life large and expand your curiosity’s range of motion.  Think like Albert and less like a Googler.  Be you.  Be interesting.  Expand who you are.

Start with a Simple Idea

IMG_1611. a simple ideaStart with a Simple Idea.  

It’s as simple as that.  Or is it?  We hear stories about people who are fulfilled and successful, motivated and inspired.  What many of these people have in common is that they started their Journey of Success with a simple idea that ultimately sparked growth in their personal lives while contributing to the world around them.

I had some crazy dream about Skylab, America’s first space station, last night — how I was trying to walk on one of its pinwheel arms while maintaining my balance in a gravity-free environment — not an easy task even within the fuzzy confines of a dream.  All of which got me thinking, mid-dream, about what a wonder the whole contraption of Skylab is.  Having experienced its interstellar wonder in my dream, I woke up thinking about how much research and groundwork and hope and intention and vision and forward thinking went into creating it.

Skylab didn’t just happen.  It started with a simple idea and it grew.  Maybe someone scribbled his or her original idea of it on the back of a bar napkin.  Maybe it was the result of some astrophysicists having breakfast together at a conference.  Maybe some scientist woke up with a detailed dream of it.  I don’t know Skylab’s true genesis, but someone had to take it and move it beyond a doodle or an entry in a lab notebook.

In a TED talk (click on the link below), Tony Robbins tells the story of his family receiving an unexpected and generous Thanksgiving Day kindness when he was younger.  As a teenager, Robbins wanted to pay this stranger’s kindness forward, so he anonymously provided a different family with a Thanksgiving dinner.  This generous and simple idea grew into the creation of an organization that now feeds millions of people.

I love stories like this.  Still, as inspiring as they are, they can also feel to be a bit overwhelming.  The obvious questions enter into my thoughts: How did Tony Robbins grow the organization from this one simple gesture?  How did he organize enough people to join him in his vision?  Where did he get the capital to grow the organization into such a large one?  Sure, the amazing and energetic and dynamic Tony Robbins could pull this off  . . . but could I?

Believe-in-yourself-and-believe-in-love.-Love-something.Details, details, details.  I so often get lost in the details.  If I were to look back on my life and pushpin myself onto any given past moment, would I have imagined all of the dynamics of Today?  Parts of Today?  Maybe parts, yes. But all of the amazing-ness that I now experience?  No.  I don’t think I could have foreseen a tiny glimpse of the bigger picture.  I had to take one simple step.  And believe.  And know.  And feed the vision.toaster oven

Skylab was originally launched unmanned but there were eventually several different crews delivered to the station.  On the latter missions, there was even an additional spacecraft orbiting to rescue the crew should they encounter any emergencies.  Imagine these baby steps.  First, unmanned.  Next, manned missions.  Ultimately, backup and support.

Albert-Einstein-Quote-Happy-Life

For a free download (in workbook format) of today’s journal prompt “Start with a Simple Idea,” provide your email address, and I will send you your inspiring journal exercise for you to print out and to start journaling.  Time to make a differrence! 

And to conclude on an uplifting note . . . This is such an inspiring TED talk: Why We Do What We Do.  If you have 21:45 today to take the time to just relax and to open your mind to possibilities, this is a great TED talk.  In fact . . . watch it before you begin journaling.  The ideas that Tony Robbins shares will expand your thinking and your creativity and your perceptions of what is possible.

Love is all you need.

436. let love in. cardo

theunseenwordsproject.com

Love is all you need.

“The Starbucks Love Project: In one amazing moment, the world came together to sing about the one thing we all have in common: love. People from around the world sang the legendary hit All You Need is Love in a single voice on December 7, 2009 at 8:30 am EST.”

Happy Monday to all of you good people.  This musical project is such a beautiful testimony to how music brings us all together.  All you need is love!

And here is a journal prompt for you today to write about in your own favorite tidbit journal:

  1. What is one thing that you think would happen if you let love all the way in?
  2. If love were a color, what color would it be?  And why would it be this color?
  3. Is there someone who might need to feel some extra love today?  Who is it and what would you like to say to him or her?  Why not take a few moments and share some love with this person.

I found this journal online (image and link below) with this same message of love on the cover.  It seems that I can never have enough journals!

Eccolo World Traveler Journal Essential Collection, All You Need Is Love


http://amzn.to/2brx13j

And then I found this cute purse!

‘Ale By Alessandra Women’s All you need is love Clutch


http://amzn.to/2aUX5W0

The Sunday Share: A Perfect Way to Spend a Sunday Morning

coffee. sunday morning. journal. coffee cup

It’s Sunday morning and what better way to enjoy a Sunday morning than to grab a cup of well-brewed coffee (with some raw sugar and organic half-and-half added to it) and a journal.  I just ordered this new journal (see below) that I simply love.  It is one of those super cool organizers that has dream-planning and monthly goals built into it.

I can easily answer each of the questions below with a resounding YES!
❶ Need to Transform Life With Yearly Goals ?
❷ Want to Set Motivating Monthly Goals ?
❸ Ready To Make Every Day Count ?
Boost Quality of Life by Investing In Your Future Now:

Tools4Wisdom Planner 2016 2017 Calendar July to June – 4-in-1: Daily Weekly Monthly Yearly Goals Organizer (8.5 x 11 / 200 Pages / Spiral / Academic Year)


http://amzn.to/2bffIWS

You can click on the image (or on the hyperlink) to take a look at it.  I love sharing things like this and have already ordered another one (with a different cover) for a friend who is in the midst of re-defining her life by starting a new business.

I sometimes feel like a Goal Nerd because I so enjoy mapping out my many dreams and ideas on paper.  The great part about this book?  It lets me step away from my scribble-y white board in my office and actually organize what it is that presents as the next steps.  I truly appreciate innovative people who create organizers like this.  I have been trying to find one exactly like this for several years . . . and here it is.

I so wish you a happy Sunday and happy planning as well. I sometimes think that planning gets a bad rap from those who think that too much structure creates its own brand of chaos.  While I can agree with the thought behind this opinion, I know that I always feel an added benefit to writing down my creative ideas so that I can see them, rather than just think them.  I am ready to make every day count!

follow your dreams. they know the way. IMG_0704

theunseenwordsproject.com