יום הולדת שמח אמא

יום הולדת שמח אמא

❤ Happy Birthday Mom ❤

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You came into this world unknowing your purpose but yielding a great light that no one knew would lead you across the globe and back again.

You have lived many lives within your time here on earth. The unwavering thread throughout them all is your un-foundering strength that is like a light in the distance that carries us through.

As a young girl raised in the post WWII era of the east coast which bustled with your fellow second generation Americans, making their way through their daily lives, you made your way. The daughter of a soldier turned business owner and a frustrated artistic mother whose endeavors were anything but colorful and brilliant. You were taught to work hard, stand up for yourself, and respect what had come before you. Your knowledge, wit, and wisdom took you through careers untold, friendships passed by, and roads few have traveled.  You paved a way for future women to stand their ground and challenge what was to come.

You passed on this wisdom to both your daughters and now your grandson. We never once doubted if mom shed advice. We would question when we wanted to have the conversation when we would face telling ourselves our own truths that you revealed through loving advocacy.

I owe you a great debt, obviously my life itself. Thank you for nurturing me for eight months in bed, in order for me to be your miracle baby, to live and to breathe.

You invested in my future and held my hand when I was scared, and you still do today. Thank you for introducing me to the greats of music, art, literature, both on the stage, or on the page. Thank you for instilling a love of the natural surroundings of earth both man and God made. I have a depth of knowledge of plants and architecture rolled into one. I always have my students stop and breathe in the crisp cool air while admiring the colorful sky line before we go into our classroom each day. You reminded me to take in the scenery of my childhood. For all the eye rolls and sighs I responded with, I heard you.

You are the most knowledgeable human being I know. Your wisdom knows no boundaries and your memory will not fail.

I know this day might not be seemingly filled with the one person we miss most, but she’s here still. Just know that with your love, support, and encouragement, her words still reach out towards others. It was you behind all those paper we wrote, book reports you edited, and books you slid onto our laps. These are the moments of the unsung heroine in both of our lives. Our mom.

We love you ever so much. For all the quips, and snaps, all the back-breaking soups you have made, and the hugs you have given, just know that they were all appreciated and much loved. Sometimes being humble is difficult, but not when it comes with the gift of your mother’s hand. Thank you mom and happy birthday. I love you to the moon and back.

*Here are some sparkles for your next year, and some Joni Mitchell with our favorite friends too. * ❤

Melancholy…

“Tears are words that need to be written.” 
― Paulo Coelho

The feeling of sadness I will liken to going through the ebb and flow of the tide. It rises and falls steadily each day. Sometimes I can ride it through, other times it crashes right over me. It seems unexplainable and if allowed all consuming.

Key word being: if.

I continue to fight through the fear, the feelings of sadness, and I turn towards things that bring light into my heart. Sometimes they might seem mundane, but they bring me joy.

Warm laundry.

My cat’s swishing tail on my lap.

The sound of the alarm going off allowing me to rise for another day.

The thought occurred to me to seek comfort in other wise human’s words on this subject. I paused at these quotes and found them to be harkening back to what I was finding troubling alone, when in the midst of my own thoughts today…

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”
― Jonathan Safran Foer

“They say when you are missing someone that they are probably feeling the same, but I don’t think it’s possible for you to miss me as much as I’m missing you right now”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay

“Any fool can be happy. It takes a man with real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep.”
― Clive BarkerDays of Magic, Nights of War

“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.”
― José N. HarrisMI VIDA: A Story of Faith, Hope and Love

“I don’t know what they are called, the spaces between seconds– but I think of you always in those intervals.”
― Salvador PlascenciaThe People of Paper

Sometimes I find it difficult to put into words what I am feeling. When I talked to my little classroom students today I said this when they wanted to know what I was absent on our last Friday before winter break, “Someone I was very close to and loved greatly was very sick, and then passed away. It makes me very sad to talk about it, but I can if you want to know more. Please ask me privately, another time, and I’ll answer your questions as best I can. For right now, let’s focus on all the happy things we have the opportunity to do together. :)”

I think she would have liked my explanation.

They all looked at me with such seriousness and we moved forward with the day, as we should, and as she would have done.

I hope that with the words of Ms. Stacy from the tales in which Anne Shirley found challenging, I will look anew at the next day, “Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.”

❤ Sparkle on friends. ❤

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Comunidad para mi hermana…

Community: 

A unified body of individuals.

The people with common interests living in a particular area. 

I am always astounded at how many beautiful people there are in the vast communities that surround my tiny nuclear family. In the last twelve days this community has exploded into a vast array of artists, writers, teachers, friends, family members, doctors, nurses, musicians, and humanitarians.

If you look for the bad in (hu)mankind expecting to find it, you surely will. -Wise words from Mr. Lincoln.

I like to think of it this way: When you look for the good in people you will surely find it… -A Rachel take

In a time of grief and loss there are no words that can absolutely console or express the feelings that reside within. Although, all I have left are words in fact. These words helped guide me through the last handful of days. The first day I sat and read words, re-read emails, searched and searched for more of her words, looked at photographs, and cried. I read and wrote and cried some more. She would have understood and so appreciated my quiet little tribute on the couch with the cat.

I wish no family member or friend to go through the grief of watching someone so full of life slip away before your eyes. And yet, even in those moments of gray clouds there were bursts of energy, twinklings of starlight that illuminated our little room. These messages, these outpourings of concern, of love, of humor, of photographs, of inspiration, of hope, and caring kindness from a community that once I thought of with fondness and now feel akin to with love.

A friend from afar shared with me a bit of ideology I shall insert here:

“You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.”

-Aaron Freeman.

This so eloquently embodies how I feel. I realized that what I miss most is the immediate sense of being able to share with Debbie. It felt so natural for me to email, write, text, call, Facebook message, FaceTime, Skype, JUST BUG her in general with these flutterings of ideas, jokes, blogs, story ideas, lesson plans, links, pictures, videos, DIY plans and suddenly I realized but wait….where do I send these now? Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “Oh I gotta tell Debbie that, she’d think that was so….” Dang it. Then the thought occurred to me…

I can still tell her. I can still write to her. That I shall do.

I feel a sense of energy when I fall asleep, and when I rise up each morning. I work through those moments in time when I feel like becoming moss on the silent log in the woods. I push myself as she did every day, I do not succumb to the voice in my head that says no, I turn around and scream back in response a resounding: YES.

Life is too short to not partake in the ample opportunities that surround you. Reach out to your community whomever that might be. Find those that inspire you and shed light on the joint ideologies that lift up one another.

I shall leave you with a quote from one of our favorite humans, Mr. Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Look for the helpers my friends, be a helper, and shed love wherever you go.

❤ Sparkles for Debbie, always. ❤

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The sounds of silence…

When you grow up in a musical home you look back upon your life through melodies…

My earliest memories are interwoven with the sounds of ’60-70’s folk music. One of my favorites for washing over the soul is, Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.

They trickle down from there into the sounds of klezmer. Occasional 90’s beats that move into more traditional Jewish music. I can see the years through bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, and times of ruach shared with these melodies. One favorite is L’cha Dodi by Debbie Friedman who my sister introduced me to. Her voice feels like an anthem for my childhood days…

In times of crisis, joy, and heartache I have always drawn the melodies of familiarity toward my soul. They dance throughout our minds and hearts right now, leaving trails of healing beats on our souls.

The sounds of silence came to me earlier today, and I found solace in Simon and Garfunkel’s words.

I have no words for what is happening before my eyes. Only melodies that seem to flutter into my brain, I find them online, and share them with my family at this time of imminent need.  I’ve seen and experienced so much love for my sister and our family within the last four days, and it has been such a blessing. I’m left with only this, Mi Shebeirach by Debbie Friedman:

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I wrote the above as a blog that I now edited while I sat with my family surrounding my dear sister. I have no words for what has happened. Her passing feels surreal. Someone who I thought would always be with me, a rock steady in the stream of life has now taken flight and moved forward. I do not feel lost, I know what she would have wanted. I feel as though part of my soul is now in a region I do not know of.

She believed in love, life, laughter, literature, and above all else, education.

She was an AMAZING human who will now wink down upon us from the sky. A shimmering diamond in the sky taking on new endeavors and ventures that know no boundaries of us earthly forms.

I asked close friends and family to please read a book to their children or read on their own in her honor. Please hug your family tighter and read more often. If you feel so inclined, donate a book in her honor to a local library or children’s organization. (For Debbie Alvarez) Let your life take flight, explore, encourage, and enrich your life through adventure and literature.

I love you Debbie and I always will, to the moon and back.

Love,

Your little sister Rachel

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Here is more information on my beautiful sister if you’d like to read what our newspaper wrote: http://www.oregonlive.com/beaverton/index.ssf/2015/12/debbie_alvarez.html

Think: P-O-S-I-T-I-V-E

“Positive,” this word’s meaning, per our friend Webster is defined as: consisting in or characterized by the presence or possession of features or qualities rather than their absence. (or) With no possibility of doubt; clear and definite.

When my sister’s struggle with cancer began three years ago she was given a diagnosis, a surgery, and a new decade of life, all in the same moments of time. Taking on the decade of 40 was a challenging task beyond belief. She had no idea what this would all entail.

When you watch a loved one experience pain, there is no worse feeling in the world I assure you. Worse yet is being powerless to stop it all when it takes place before your eyes. It’s like a form of Chinese torture. That slow grip on your soul that just never quite releases and squeezes you without warning when the worms of cancer release.

I remember my beloved Cosby show father character once telling his daughter, “There’s a battle going on inside of you. See you’ve got the white blood cell good guys fighting for you, and then you’ve got these other bad guys and they’re just waging a war inside your body.” Sometimes I think about that moment of hearing an explanation of disease. It makes sense and is simplistic and honest.

The unpredictability of disease has not stopped her from the positivity in the world of experiencing life, living, reading, loving, educating, reaching out, traveling, dancing, laughing, being sarcastic, fighting, and questioning and exploring. She always puts the conscientious thought of love first. That’s something that I have learned from her. “Don’t shut yourself off from being open to the possibility of what someone can bring in, connect, and appreciate Rachel.” We’re doing that together. She has wonderful care right now. Each day has been a blessing of opportunity to laugh, and experience things together.

I felt the desire to write, about what in particular I was not quite sure. What is currently on my heart and mind, my sister Debbie.

I have found writing and music to be extremely therapeutic over the last 72 hours and will continue to share that with Debbie. Currently I am playing d.j. while she dozes and we are all enjoying some Schumann. Thank you for the positive thoughts and love friends. Keep the energy going. ❤ Sparkle on.

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I’m feeling 32…

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My mother said that the night before I was born she had a conversation with me in the womb. She told me it was time for me to come into the world. She had stayed in bed for nearly 8 months in order to bring me forth into the world and that it was finally time. 

I generally follow directions, but I definitely march to my own drum beat still to this day thanks to my mom.

I followed the plan she laid out before me, but I arrived with a bang before my father even had time to arrive that early morning. My mother had her best friend Ann with her.   I like to think that she lives on within me, inside my heart, with my middle name and hers being the same. 

Friendships run deep in my life. Clearly from the first moment I breathed life, friends were surrounding me. 

I am a loyal human. I may kick, and I may scream my way through situations, but I will remain by your side. Much like my childhood likeness. I was the type of friend who would steadfastly watch their best friend branch out with other people and friends, but stay rock steady when they returned. I sought no comfort in constantly seeking other’s approval. I knew who I was even as a little one, and I loved my friend even from afar. I never looked at friendships as an, “end all be all per say,” but rather I cherished those whom I felt made a lasting hand print on my heart. 

The last 32 years have brought forth many recollections when I stop and consider the life that I have lead thus far. 

A few things hold true: life will always ebb and flow. It will continue to test you. No matter how prepared you might be, you can never prepare for the change that will set forth when you least expect it. 

I’ve found within the last year that spontaneity, pushing my limits, and testing my boundaries and also the human’s within my life makes my vision become clearer with this life.

We are given a gift to wake up and face each day for all that it will bring into our lives. 

I have watched those closest to me fight a battle of cancer.

I have seen love and loss.

I have experienced the unimaginable. 

I have discussed.

I have cried.

I have written. 

I have sang.

I have acted.

I have performed and put on a mask to make the smoke and mirrors reflect what they should from the stage. 

I have gotten up each day. Taken many deep breaths and washed away my sorrows through sweat and tears combined.

I have found solace in the arts.

Ultimately I have danced away carefree in those melodies and sparkling lights. 

I have worked towards relinquishing my desire to control. 

I continue to struggle with many things. 

I have found love, and shown kindness whenever possible. 

Life will always be challenging, and yet, I am anticipating what lies ahead.

The small, simple moments bring me boundless joy.

Cheers to you my blogging friends. Here, where readers and writers unite. 

I applaud all of you for sharing your quandaries and quests. May we all bring forth a flood of words to wash away our tears, and the anguish that our world is pulsing with. 

Peace, love, and sparkles is my wish on this, my 32nd birthday.

 

Sagittarius Birthday Eve…

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My husband should blog. Poem courtesy of him.  Thank you to all the amazing fellow bloggers through wordpress. It’s been wonderful to connect, write, and inspire one another. I am so grateful for this community. Sparkle on friends.

I leave you with a few of my favorite things on this 32nd birthday eve:

Hong Kong a year later…

Hong Kong a year later…according to my brain as of late

“Here and there and every where.

The bustle, the travel, the hustle, the flow.

The ebb of the tide, the flow of the roll,

the glow of this city’s lights.

Entrancing, never letting go.”

A poet, I am not. I shall leave that genre of the written word to my father, however, I may tilt my pen towards the muse of rhyme from time to time… 

“Reflections 365 days later…”

Life in this city was astounding, loud, noisy, enticing, invigorating, crowded, thrilling, overwhelming, amazing, and technologically fascinating.

The circumstances in which I went to Hong Kong were dire. Traveling to visit a loved one fighting the battle of a life time was so overwhelming, and humbling. I couldn’t wait to sit at my sister’s side, hold her hand, and give her hugs all…the…day…. long.

We did all of these things.

And so much more.

I provide for you a visual imagery of some of the things we saw, felt, touched, and experienced together.

Life is so precious. Remind yourself to appreciate the little moments. BREATHE, reflect, and appreciate.

Every day is a struggle, every day is a gift, every day there will be a whole bundle of tumult rolled into a package we call life.

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When I arrived on Halloween, we wore matching wigs as a necessity of course. “Hi there, yes we are sisters, yessss….we are wearing wigs, thank you for staring. Good day sir.”

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This view from a high rise building where I waited while she attended healing yoga for cancer patients astounded me. This is a really large city. I am jet lagged. I sat down and faced another direction because I got dizzy so quickly.

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Hello peaceful turtles in Hong Kong park. 🙂 I did a little jig when I saw turtles, because I mean, TURTLES!

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This is my beautiful nephew, we take selfies, yes he’s cuter than me. Shhh, don’t tell him though, it’ll go to his head. 😉 JK!

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There was this waffle place, when one sees a waffle place, one stops to eat of course. He even posed for a photo patiently before digging in.

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Photo session on the bus back home after synagogue. This took 3 photos to actually capture all of our heads, but I mean who was counting?!  It was so much fun. Except for the part as we went to get off 2 blocks before our stop, and we waited 12 minutes because of traffic….. 🙂 thank you Hong Kong.

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After a long morning of chemo, we took a walk through the park to get sunshine and matched with our smiles.

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What caught my attention was the first two bold printed lines. My brain role played back as follows, “Yes, you have my attention, awesomeness, I’m interested…”

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My first panorama attempt at a fancy posh-y soccer/ dare I say football field. Thank you brother in law. 🙂

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I like this quote today, “Don’t find fault, find a remedy!”

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I took a lot of bathroom photos. My brother in law thought this was quite strange. What can I say? I’m pretty strange…that’s an understatement.

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I was really interested in this pink wig option. She didn’t feel it was an every day look though…. Beautiful salon visit to help with a wig adjustment. Loved those stylists.

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Colorful and lovely back drop of the H.K. smog-city sky line.

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These photos are included…just because they are funny and we were laughing. 🙂

The photo list could go on and on. I’ll reflect more later at some point. Sparkle on friends!

The Versatile Blogger Award, Rachel’s take

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First of all, I’d like to thank the academy, “Applause…. applause, thunderous….” Ok, no but really… I would like to thank the blogging community. As a shy introverted sometimes extrovert, generally through my thinking, I have found a voice through my writing. It’s been AMAZING to connect with fellow bloggers and realize that we can support, uplift, and encourage one another through the means of clicking, reading, and responding. I love it. So thank you so much new friends for reading and sharing.

Thank you stephellaneous for being supportive and inspiring. Acknowledging one another’s thoughts and feelings has been awesome. Rock on, or should I say, write on! 🙂 Here is a little bit more about this award: https://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com/about/

Seven+2 tid bits about moi:

  1. Sometimes I sing amazing concerts in the shower that can cover a vast array of genres that may or many not include: Jazz, opera, musical theatre, punk, rock and roll, pop, torch songs, standards, songs in Hebrew, Disney….It could be an embarrassingly long list.
  2. Continuing the music theme: I once won $100 cash in a karaoke contest I had no idea that I entered. I went to the restroom after a few songs passed after my last song. A woman bursts into the bathroom shouting, “ARE YOU STILL HERE?!” I left the stall and proceeded to the sink, she gulped,”OH GOOD, don’t leave cuz (wink) I think you’re gonna win!” I squinted at myself as I am doing so now in the dark of my bedroom staring into the lit screen before me. “What?” I left the bathroom and proceeded back to my friends. Sparing a few details…I beat out my husband, and I won the cash prize, who knew? I never even realized that a random Chinese restaurant in a tiny town in Oregon could make for such a profitable visit. Moral to this #2 share is: I win karaoke contests. 😉
  3. When I was a tiny kidlet I could turn the waterworks on quite well. So said my sister, she called them, “Crocodile tears.” When feeling sensitive about something, it is still my defense mechanism. I’m more like the character Rachel Greene from Friends than I care to admit. 
  4. Sometimes I stay up ALL night to finish a book. One text that was worth doing so for was, “Night,” by Elie Wiesel. Haven’t read it? Read it. 
  5. I repeat stories. I learn through stories. I love to connect through stories, and to share through my usage of empathy.
  6. I teach little people during the day, I can tap dance a bit, mainly I dance in sneakers, or bare feet most nights. I sing on the weekends, and I type a lot.
  7. I love the phrase, “Life’s too short kid, don’t sweat the small stuff.” Thanks Dad.
  8. I’ve made a concerted effort the last year to ALWAYS greet any cashier, sales rep, or customer service employee with a smile and ask them how they are doing. Sometimes I find them caught off guard, while others happily chat with me about something random. I love it. The random particulars in life, and the conversations are what make these little moments in humanity wonderful. 
  9. I do this a lot: Smile. 🙂 It makes other people wonder or consider the following: “What is she up to?”  “What’s she so smiley for?”  “Why is she smiling….Oh I bet I know!”  “Ooooh I feel like smiling too.”  “She’s got something in her teeth…should I tell her? Naw…. :-P”

I nominate/recommend checking out the following people/bloggers who are awesome. 🙂

  1. Little Calico: https://xiaohuamaobiji.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/little-steps-definingsuccess-memeespoetryparties/
  2. Meme: Memeesmusings http://memeesmusings.com
  3. Dayna: just breathe and blog:  https://justbreatheandblog.wordpress.com/about-2/
  4. Elizabeth:  The crumbs of my life https://thecrumbsofmylife.wordpress.com/why-are-you-here/who-is-this-crazy-woman/
  5. Jacob: Thats So Jacob: https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/11349179/841373138
  6. https://phoenixcrimson.wordpress.com
  7. Debbie: The Styling Librarian
  8. Tonya: http://fourthgenerationfarmgirl.com
  9. Jess: jess a dreamer: http://jessadreamer.com
  10. Views of Venus
  11. Liz: http://belovelive.com
  12. Exp10sive 3nTry:  https://howfastisasnail.wordpress.com/about/
  13. Dan: https://hurdlestohappiness.wordpress.com
  14. https://themisfitscloset.wordpress.com

תודה Thank you

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When I started my blog I got this idea and I went with it. I sat on the floor of this random house we stayed in with six other people in Whistler, Canada and I wrote. My husband was embarked on a journey to complete an Iron Man and I embarked on a journey to finally put my voice out there in the world.

I have always loved to write.

I discovered my voice through journaling and diaries at a very young age. It was not until my freshman year of college that I realized, “I really love this.” I took a creative writing course in which the objective for the term was to create entries in a giant journal that expressed ourselves as humans. We practiced amazing exercises in visualization, drawing, found objects, art that inspired us, prompts, you name it. I absolutely loved it. The reason why I even took the course was because my general studies teacher praised my metaphoric usage on some random paper. It goes to show, you never know what kind of impact you might have on another person.

Thank you to my new blogger friends:

Jessamayann: https://jessamayann.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/one-lovely-blog-award/comment-page-1/#comment-17

and Stephellaneous: https://stephellaneous.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/the-versatile-blogger-award-the-one-where-i-follow-through/

for being so kind and nominating me for the, “One Lovely Blog Award,” and “The Versatile Blogger Award.” These are my projects for the weekend friends!! Time to get crafty with words and of course, sparkles.

Muchas gracias.  Merci beaucoup.  Danke.  Grazie.