Category: Life Logic

Recently, I had a text conversation with a friend.  I had sent this great piece from a write I like, Tanya Markul (who goes by the oh-so-awesome moniker Thug Unicorn).

This friend commented that they were sometimes empathetic when they should be cord cutting.  I could almost hear their sigh when they typed, ‘I’m a work in progress.’

That really struck me.  Aren’t we all?  Who do you honestly know who is ‘complete.’  No room for improvement.  No goal to push towards.

How many movies or TV shows have you watched, or (if you’re like me) how many books have you read where the main character just trots through the whole story knowing everything they need to know, making no mistakes, not growing or needing to grow.

That’s one boring story, and off the top of my head I can’t actually think of one.  They might be out there, but let’s face it – no one can relate to that person.  We relate to the struggle.  To the striving.  It is a holy journey.  A quest.  Its Frodo volunteering to take the ring.  Its Harry Potter and the horcruxes.  Its Moana leaving the reef.  Its the Rebels facing off against the Empire.  Those are the parts of the journey we see, and we see the end.  Those are not the ends to their journey.  They move forward.  They know more, they have learned from successes and heartbreak.  They continue on their path, though we might not read or watch those stories.

We are the same.  We might look at a time in our life as an episode or a chapter.  That story had a beginning, a middle, and an end.  But there were things that happened before, and things that happened after.  A work in progress.

A couple of days ago (and a couple of days after this conversation with my friend), I happened to be listening to the radio.  I wasn’t paying a lot of attention, but the radio person said something to the effect of, ‘. . . . trying to do everything and beating themselves up because its not perfect.  Don’t beat yourself up because things aren’t perfect.  Because you are a work in progress.’

You see why I started paying attention?  I had been thinking about that holy journey.  The glorious chaos of being ‘in progress.’

Here’s what struck me.  Essentially, it sounds as if the radio person is suggesting that the reason things aren’t perfect is because you are a work in progress.  Therefore, perfection is the destination.

I disagree.  Ok, in reality I snorted steam out my nose and turned off the radio.  NO!  Perfection is NOT the destination.

Imperfection IS.  Its not a temporary feature of a life.  It IS life.  LIFE IS IMPERFECT.  To me, the ‘work in progress’ is not a journey toward perfection, but a journey to happiness within imperfection.  Its ups and downs.  Easy and hard.  Glorious and heartbreaking.  Sometimes all at once.

THAT made me think of two quotes from two good friends of mine (we’ve never met, but I am just sure we would be good friends if we ever did.)

 

Just because you’re a work in progress, doesn’t mean you aren’t gloriously, imperfectly, wonderfully worthy.

 

Take care my friends,

Kim

 

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Life Logic

Spring is here, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve been wearing my glasses for three weeks so I stop ruining contacts (get a move on your pollinating, trees).  And after the first day and a half of enjoying nice weather without bugs, the bugs arrived as well.

A couple of weeks ago, we went on a family hike.  This is also known as a ‘no we aren’t done yet, and once we’re done we still have to walk all the way back.’  Bonding.  Along the way, we saw some bumblebees.

Um, no.  Not that kind.

Yep, that’s the one.

And that, of course, made me think about all the facts I know about bumblebees.

I only know two facts about bumblebees.

  1. They do not make honey.
  2. Scientists have not yet figured out how they are able to fly.

You see, science cannot (at least not yet) explain how the small wings of a bumblebee are able to carry the large fluffy body in flight.  Similarly, I have not yet been able to figure out how my medium-sized child can eat twice as much as I can.

But I digress.

My point here is this – by all current standards of science, a bumblebee should not be able to fly.  It should be impossible.  Yet, everyone knows they do (seriously – you all know that right?).

And THAT made me think about the fact that so much of what we face in life seems impossible.  No matter who you are, no matter what your strengths, your weaknesses, your barriers, your past – something seems impossible to you.

Its impossible to find time to exercise.

Its impossible to find an extra $100 in the budget.

Its impossible to find a job I love.

Its impossible to believe I will find love (or find it again).

Its impossible to believe I deserve better.

Its impossible to get out of bed.

Its impossible love me anymore than I already love me because I love me the bestest of all (Kanye West- probably).

You see what I’m getting at here? (seriously, you do see what I’m getting at here, right?)

Robert Heinlein said ‘Theoretically, everything is impossible until its done.’  Ok, fair enough, Robert.  I believe that with any ‘impossibility’ – at least any that really resonates with us –  comes pain.  That’s not always a bad thing.  There is pain in realizing something you want feels like it cannot be.  There is often pain in achieving that goal.  So what do we do with it.  Sometimes we just breathe, and we realize that the bravest, strongest thing we can do is sit with that pain.  Survive it in this moment, and the next.  We get stronger.  Strong enough to breathe through the third moment and the one after that.

Glennon Doyle Melton says “When pain knocks on the door, the wise ones breathe deep and say ‘Come in, sit down.  Don’t leave until you’ve taught me what I need to know.'”  That doesn’t mean there are any easy answers.  Sometimes what the pain teaches us is that its time to let go.  Sometimes the pain teaches us to step deeper into the fire.

If we go back to the bumblebees, they also remind us that if we’re going to do impossible things, its better to do them together.  Humans are designed to connect (yes, all of us).  Connection can vary pretty widely, but we are designed to work in collaboration to other humans.  Find your community and your support.

So, yes, there are a great many impossible things out there.  Mt. Everest was impossible until Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbed it.  Why did they do it? ‘Because it is there,’ said Hillary.  Totally badass.  I do know that sometimes our Everest is getting out of bed.  Sometimes is trusting someone again.  Sometimes its taking a risk to get to somewhere better.  And those mountains to not feel smaller than Everest.

Trust yourself.  Trust the pain, and learn from it.  Sometimes pain is the fire that burns of everything we thought we were or thought we needed, and leaves behind only the truth.

Find your Sherpa or your hive, and do the impossible.

As Glennon Doyle Melton would say,

Kim

 

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Life Logic

Today, I’m going to tell you a short story. 

 

So a girl, about 12 years old, snuck into Wrigley Field when everything was empty (why Wrigley?  Because I’m the one retelling the story, that’s why).  She had her bat and her ball, and she went out onto the field.  She held the ball in one hand, the bat in the other. One of the older guys who cleaned the stands happened to be relaxing in one of the seats and decided to watch.

 

The girl looked at the ball and said ‘I am the greatest baseball player in the WORLD!’  With that, she tossed the ball into the air, and swung her bat with all her might.

And missed.

The girl picked up her ball and said ‘I am the greatest baseball player in the WORLD!’  Again, she threw the ball into the air, and swung her bat.

And missed again.

This went on for some time.  After a while, the gentleman from the stands decided to come down and talk to her.

He said ‘hey kid.   You keep saying ‘I am the greatest baseball player in the WORLD’ but you haven’t hit that ball yet.’

She smiled hugely and said ‘I know – did you see that pitching?!?’

 

Ok – so besides a good chuckle, what am I getting at?  How often in life do we only see the ‘strikes’ or the ‘misses?’  We see what isn’t going well, but sometimes fail to notice what is going well.  Sometimes these are little things – sometimes not so little.  Maybe things aren’t going so well at work, and you’re fighting with your significant other and now your car broke down.  Its easy to look at those legitimate issues and feel like nothing is going right.  Sometimes we need to look a little deeper.  Maybe you haven’t reached for alcohol – which you’ve done in the past.  Maybe you’ve kept this job longer than any other job you’ve had – and even though it’s a little bumpy you are working through it.  Maybe its just that you are taking a deep breath and thinking things through before saying something.  Maybe you’ve chosen not to cut, or gamble, or shop, or use.  Maybe you’ve stood in the middle of your storm and let it rage.  But you stood.

 

You are pitching.  Don’t forget to see the pitches – the things you do that move you forward or keep you going.  If you don’t think you see any – maybe choose one to throw.

 

You got this.  After all, you are the greatest baseball player in the WORLD.

 

Life Logic

I’d like you to think for a moment about someone you admire for their talent or skill.  Maybe its an artist or a musician.  Maybe an athlete or a writer.

Ok.  I think most of us can appreciate a well-honed craft.  We understand the time and effort it takes to perform that task well.  For some of us (ahem. . .me. . . ahem) there’s just a tiny bit of longing that maybe we don’t have that kind of talent.

Except maybe we do.

As a girl raised on Disney fairy tales and books of medieval fiction, I love me a good castle. 

 

So, picture that grand castle.   It took an amazing amount of artistry, skill, talent, and vision to design and build such a monument.  After all, castles had to be strong and beautiful.  They had to be homes and seats of power.  They had to last.  They were not one-man jobs.

So when you think about it, a castle is really just a well-organized pile of bricks. 

 

Ok – REALLY well organized, but still.

So, a castle needs a brick-layer.  Not a fancy job.  Not shiny.  Not high-paying and well-respected.  Just a job.

After all – how important is one brick in the grand scheme of a whole castle?  I don’t know – but what happens when that one brick is not laid with care?  When it is not placed level, on a good foundation, and in correct position to those around it?  A haphazard brick can bring even the grandest plan down.

But a well-laid brick can be the foundation of something that lasts long after all of us are gone.

Maybe you aren’t the architect of castles.  I know I’m not.  But if we take a step back, we are all part of something greater.  We can each choose to lay our brick with great care, and with great skill.

Maybe we won’t have the glory and riches like Michael Jordan (I stopped watching basketball in high school), or JK Rowling (I’ve admitted my reading problem already), but we can take great care to do whatever task is in front of us with all the skill we have. 

 

And that isn’t less important.

 

 

Life Logic

My Fellow Americans.

That sounds appropriate today, doesn’t it.  Portentous.  Let’s roll with this.

My Fellow Americans,

Today some of you celebrate.  Some shake your heads.  Some are afraid.

You are afraid that the person holding the highest office in our country has publicly said he will not stand for you.  He has mocked you and your cause.  He chooses to incite fear and division.

And around the country we hold our collective breath.  What are we going to do?

As Glennon Doyle Melton would say, ‘Fear is not the boss of us.  Love is the boss of us.’

The power of this country does not rest in the hands of one man, not even that man.  We are the country.  We are the immigrants and the children of children of immigrants.  We hold different faiths – many times those faiths having more in common than not.  We love differently, but the LOVE is the same love.  Our skin looks different, but our hearts beat the same.

That thing you love, that you passionately defend?  It did not go away.  Yes, you hoped for a leader who would help support that cause, and it may not be the man elected.

Here is the real power, my friends.  Its you.  No great change ever happened in this country only because the president wanted it.  We did it.  The country fought a war with itself over the right for slaves to be free.  Women fought to vote.  Black Americans fought for equality.  Individuals with disabilities fought to be included.  LGBTQ individuals fought to marry.  Fought for the love of the cause, the belief that it was necessary, and in truth, the love of this country.  To make it the best version of itself.

Those were our voices.  The voices of everyday Americans who decided they would not remain silent.  They would not hope that 4 years from now a better leader would come.  They didn’t limit themselves to the comment sections of internet posts (legitimately most of them never heard of the internet, but you know where I’m going).

They stood.  They fought.

So fight.  But fight fair.  When we attack and degrade and vandalize, we become everything the opposing view claims we are.  As Michelle Obama said, ‘When they go low, we go high.’

Fight fair.  Fight with facts (real facts, not internet facts – do your homework).  Calm, prepared, firm arguments are generally harder to dismiss than the blustering noise trying to drown you out.  Fight in the right arena.  Your battle is not in the comment section of a twitter feed.  Its face to face, talking with people.  Sharing your story, finding your fellows.  Getting so much (correct) information out there that you overpower the lies.

That is the real America.

Decide what you won’t give up on.  Then fight for it.

Its the American thing to do.

Life Logic

This is the twelfth day I must call myself ‘unemployed.’  Here are somethings I’ve learned:

  • I do not like dusting any more when I do, in fact, have time to do it.
  • When actively working on learning to ‘slow down’ – I will, in fact, choose to shampoo the carpets over sitting on the couch.
  • Digging through layers of stress and years of ingrained strategies to cope with stress is hard.

My goal during this time (although I understand it may be cut short by the need to obtain an interim job), was to stop the ‘do all the things today.’

(actual photo of me)

 

I remembered what it was like to curl up on the couch with a book and a blanket, in front of the fireplace.  To sit and read and escape ‘all the things’ for just a little while.  Reading is one of my great joys.

So I pictured taking the kids to school, walking the dog, getting in a workout – then spending an hour or two reading and (gasp) relaxing.  If only to remember how.  Get the kids from school, prepare them a healthy snack, and then start working on supper.

What I have learned is that remembering the process of relaxing is not as easy as doing it.  Its realizing that my brain has been set on ‘high alert’ for about nine or 10 years, and there has never been enough time to get everything done.  Sometimes there isn’t enough time to get the important stuff done.  There have been a lot of nights up until midnight over the years to try to be everything to everyone.

The reality is that it was never about the time.  It was always about me.  It was always about the pressure I put on myself to ‘do all the things.’  Having more time is not the answer.

Its about me and my brain.  Its about learning that my value in life is not the number of things I make.  Not in how clean my house is, or what I’ve named my dust bunnies.  My value does not rest on what I provide to others.

This is a tough one.  This learning to embrace the fact that you have value simply by being.  I’ve told countless people that over the years and I’ve never once believed it about myself.  The world has given me countless reasons not to believe it.

For a long time I’ve believed that real meaning is to find meaning (If you want to read an amazing book on the subject, I would suggest ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Viktor Frankl).  I have interpreted this to mean that while circumstances do sometimes just happen, my responsibility is to figure out what I am supposed to learn from the experience.  It is often easier to see looking back, so I rest in the confidence that I am on the right road and future me will look back on a path that ended up making perfect sense.

As every journey must start with a single step, so must this.  My goal today is to spend a single hour resting, reading, refreshing my spirit.  Without guilt or shame.  Without worrying about what I should be doing to benefit others.  My goal today is to spend that single hour reminding myself that the love, respect, and regard I hold for every member of God’s creation might just apply to me to.

 

Wish me luck.

Kim

Life Logic

Fun fact: I love Eleanor Roosevelt.  That was a lady ahead of her time.  I would have voted for her for president in a heartbeat.  Except she’s dead, and didn’t run for president (even as a zombie).

I still would have voted for zombie Eleanor Roosevelt. I even named my dog after her.

She was a smart, strong-willed lady, and I admire that.  Seriously – go and google ‘Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes,’  I’ll wait here . . . . . .

Ok, I’m not good at waiting.  She said stuff like this:

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

“I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.”

“Light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.”

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa now Eleanor.  Let’s check in on that last one.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  If that’s true, why do we have so many inferior-feeling people?  Who on earth would consent to feeling ‘less-than.’

The reality is that we humans are all too susceptible to our fellow humans.  We toss out sayings like “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” and in doing so subtly blame everyone who life has beaten down.

The fact of the matter is, if you are told you are inferior, or that you don’t matter, often enough – you will believe it.  True, some people have a stronger fortitude, more resilience, against that message – but everyone has a limit.  Anyone survivor of abuse (physical, sexual, psychological, emotional) could tell you the same.  So many people with the same message, ‘I felt like I was nothing.’

We aren’t just talking about abuse here.  Take a look at the media, and the messages sent to all of us globally.  Beautiful, healthy women are told they are inferior if they dare to wear larger than a size 4.  Even models will talk about hating their bodies, because all they hear about is how this part or that part isn’t quite right.

People of color, the LGBTQ population, persons with disabilities, other minorities have dealt with this for decades.  Being ‘less than.’  Inferior.

We do it – all the time.  We fat shame, we mom shame, we glamorize toxic masculinity.  We are constantly firing our ‘inferiority gun.’

So, yes, you can be made to feel inferior – and it sure as hell isn’t because you consented.

Here’s the good news.  You aren’t.  Please listen.  Please repeat.  You. Are. Not. Inferior.

And you are NOT to blame for feeling like you were.

So, Eleanor Roosevelt, I love you but you had this one wrong.  Its time for a new version.

‘Most of us know what it means to feel inferior.  We must learn to see one another, value one another, and celebrate the beauty of one another.  We must reach out to every ‘inferior’ person and show them love.  The only way we rise is together.’ – Kim Burlage

 

 

Life Logic

I had a couple of post ideas in mind, but figured I should really post about gratitude.  Since its Thanksgiving tomorrow and all.

So, here we go.

You are probably expecting the usual reminder to look around you at all the things you have to be thankful for.  Family, friends, shelter, food to eat, love, and laughter.

Nope.

I can see why you thought that though.  That’s what we (society) always talk about.  Why?  Because sometimes we get so busy, so wound into the hustle and bustle that we forget to stop and look around at the things we have in our lives.  Practicing gratitude is a great (even essential) tool to truly living in the present.  Being grateful for the delightful smell of a burning leaf pile in the fall grounds us, and makes us stop worrying about the past or the future for just a moment.  We are thankful for the present so we pay attention to the present.

That’s all good right?

(Its not a trick question.  Yes, that is all good.)

But- I also said that’s not what this was going to be about.  In many ways it’s a little too simple to ONLY give thanks for those good things.  Yes – we must be thankful for them, and often, but we cannot stop with the good things.

When was the last time you were thankful for adversity?  For challenge?  For pain?  For bad circumstances?  For difficult people?

For most of us – never.  Or close enough.  Sure, we say we are thankful for a challenge because without challenges we can’t grow.  Do we always believe that?

So, here’s a challenge for you this week.  Once you’ve given thanks for all of the good people, things, and experiences in your live (seriously, still do this part), consider the less-than-good parts.

Consider being thankful for and adversity that reminded you what you really needed and pointed out what you only thought you needed.

Consider being thankful that a we endured pain.  Perhaps it made us into a deeper, more real version of ourselves.

Consider being thankful for that difficult person you have to deal with, because they make you increase your store of patience.

Consider being thankful for someone who loudly and often rudely disagrees with you – if only because it forces you to consider WHY you believe what you believe, and it encourages you to do your homework and get your facts.

Consider being thankful for negative circumstances that helped to show you who you can count on (sometimes we are surprised).

Consider being thankful for local or world news stories that break your heart because sometimes what breaks our heart spurs us to take action.

I’m not asking you to be thankful for EVERYTHING.  Some wounds are too deep and too raw.  It is ok not to be thankful for those wounds.  But maybe, just maybe there is a little gratitude for something around the edges that you never expected.

Look a little closer

Today, I am choosing to be grateful for all the “no’s,” all the doors closing and opportunities ending.   They made me stronger, smarter, braver, more creative, and more determined than ever.

And of course, I am grateful to each of you – for taking a moment to consider.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Life Logic

Image result for man in the arena speech

If you like plainer text:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again. Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
– Teddy Roosevelt (often called the ‘Man in the Arena’ speech. Taken from a speech given at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, 1910).

It is not the critic who counts.

How many times do we listen to the critic? How many times are WE the critic? How many times do we look on from the cheap seats and criticize others. How often are we in the arena, getting discouraged by those comments from the safe zone?

Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming

That sounds familiar. . . .

Image result for it is impossible to live without failing

Both Rowling and Roosevelt strike on the same point. Life IS failing. Its making mistakes, getting messy, getting back up, and trying again. Failing means learning that was NOT the way to accomplish your goal. Lesson learned, thank you life, moving on.

but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Here, I believe that Roosevelt is reminding us that we must pursue our passions without concern for the end result – but because there is a fire inside us demanding that we see it through. Win or lose. Succeed or fail. Maya Angelou says ‘A songbird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.’ Your song is your fire. SING LOUD. If some mock you for daring to raise your voice – turn to other people, because you are daring greatly.

So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

How interesting. In Roosevelt’s view (which I share), it is better to have tried and failed, than to extinguish your fire and sit quiet and safe. If any of you out there has seen the first Rocky movie – this makes me think of it. I refuse to be concerned about ‘spoilers’ in a movie older than I am – so here’s the scoop. Nobody boxer gets a chance at the title bout as part of a publicity stunt. Training montage, love story, motivational music. . . . . and then the big fight at the end. And he loses. And that’s not even the point of the movie. The point is that this nobody stood toe to toe with the best boxer in the world and put everything out there. He failed while daring greatly (and then there was a sequel and then like 47 more sequels after that.) I think of those Olympians (especially divers, gymnasts, figure skaters, snowboarders, skiiers) who go for the ‘big move’ only to fail – but they failed trying to do something amazing. They could have gone ‘safe’ and had a clean routine. But then they have to walk away knowing they didn’t leave it all out there, that they held back. And they will always wonder ‘what could have been.’

I came across this speech via Brene Brown – who has called it ‘life changing’ for her. One of her books is even titled ‘Daring Greatly.’ So I am ending with a quote from Brene reflecting on this speech and what it has meant to her. Because while the crowd in the cheap seats can be loud – sing your song – sing loud – because its not the critics who count.

Image result for brene brown quotes

 

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Life Logic

What do you think of when I say ‘ordinary’?

Normal?  Boring? Unimportant?

So then, what is an ‘ordinary life’?

Get a job, pay bills, juggle kids’ activities (if you have them), buying groceries, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, and crying over how bad that last thing you tried from Pinterest turned out.

Right?

The Olympics just wrapped up, and for two weeks we watched, breathless, as some of the most talented and disciplined athletes in the world complete for glory and country.  That, we say, is extraordinary.  I follow a Facebook group called the Jessie Rees Project.  Jessie was just twelve when she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer (DiPG).  As she was going through treatment, she looked around at all the other kids in the pediatric cancer center and wanted them to have something that made them happy.  She and her family started raising money to send ‘Joy Jars’ to kids all over the country (now the world).  She passed away a short time later and her family continues her work.  They are extraordinary.

I think we all admire the extraordinary.  Maybe on the global scale, like those examples, maybe on a smaller scale.  We all know that one extraordinary person who seems to make friends effortlessly, or who has brilliant business sense, or is super creative.

And somehow, I think we feel less when we look at ourselves and see ourselves as ordinary.

I want to challenge that.  There is power in an ordinary life, if you embrace your life.  In not letting your job, or your income, or your house, or your status define you.  In going to work, paying your bills, and finding the happiness in everyday life.  In finally flopping into a chair at the end of the day and realizing you got your work done, got food (of some sort) on the table, the family was where they were supposed to be, everyone is reasonably clean, and the house hasn’t fallen apart.

Yep.  Nailed it.

We don’t, of course.  We take those precious few minutes and think about how we didn’t get that load of laundry done, we were 5 minutes late to soccer practice, and dinner was chicken nuggets (again).  We need to stop.  We need to be kind and gentle with ourselves and grateful for what we have.  I am thankful that we have enough clothes that if the laundry didn’t get done, my family has things they can wear until I get to it.  I am grateful that we have food to fuel us.  I am grateful that my car is working and that my kids have the opportunity to participate in sports to enjoy being outside and moving their bodies.

And once in a while, you just sit back and look at the life you’ve made.  See your choices reflected in it.  Love what you have – even if you see things you want to change. 

Tonight, I’m going to sit with my family around a little bonfire in the backyard and make s’mores and read stories.  A completely ordinary evening.  Nothing special.  Yet, it contains within it everything that is magical and amazing in my life.  It is time to reflect and be happy.

And that, my friends, is extraordinary.

 

Find yours.

 

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Life Logic