Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Natalie the Explorer. It’s a warm day, and Zen green tea is my wakeup beverage of choice. What’s yours?
Bixby was really anxious for a walk this morning. I had let him out back earlier,but he kept following me around. It was a little after ten when we went (I had slept late), and it must be in the eighties here in Northeast Florida already, because I worked up a sweat!
Bixby was sure happy though, and who could blame him. The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and the smells of Spring are freely available to all who wander out.
It’s Easter weekend in my faith tradition. I dislike the Easter bunny and candy rituals. The Easter story is a spiritual tradition. I went to church on Palm Sunday but stayed home and watched the Maundy Thursday service. I’ll be going to church with my mother tomorrow and my boyfriend. Hopefully, my son will go as well.
In whatever faith tradition you practice, I wish you a blessed weekend. I think I’m a fairly secular person in my writing, but I’d like to think I convey a sense of spirituality. Ramadan and Passover are also going on in April. I have many students participating in Ramadan. It’s wonderful when we can all love and respect one another’s differences.
My search for a Bible verse of the day yielded the following, which I will share in a screenshot:
It is truly a verse that means and says a lot. It brings to mind the Russian war against Ukraine. If only things were different. I pray for them. In daily life, I work to treat others like I’d want to be treated but then pause to find a balance with personal boundaries. Hopefully, this all gets better with age. 🙂
I am so longing to travel but am in a phase of finishing out the school year, while planning some summer travel. Today, I’m on the home front, helping tidy up the house for tomorrow. There is a time for everything, yes?
Have a great weekend, whatever that entails for you and yours!
Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, in which I have reached Earth Week in the 28 days “Soul Coaching” book. Earth Week (and Fire Week too for that matter) has been full of water. Rain, rain, rain. At any rate, as we sit in my ‘cafe’ with Agnes Obel in the background, a solid favorite with beautiful piano notes, I drink green macha tea and I am so grateful for the sunshine this morning.
Yesterday, we had a morning of sunshine as well, which was such a blessing after days and days of gray wake-ups and rain. After breakfast, I sat in the sunshine in my driveway with the dog at my side. He sought the shade of my chair after a few minutes. I don’t really know how many minutes. Do I really have to know? My skin felt good, my eyes were shut, and my dog did not complain. I seem to know when is too long for Vitamin D exposure. My body and spirit did need those few moments to warm me, especially since I was suffering from a sinus infection this week.
Yes, ironic isn’t it, that during Earth Week I had a body that did not allow me to do a five mile walk or get out of the house much? The rain discouraged me, too. I got the appropriate rest, ate well, slept late when I could. I exercised to an extent that did not push things too far. I read, continued the 28 days book, and took care of Bixby. I do think I appreciated the earth in fitting ways. That one morning of sunshine was wonderful, since I was just feeling well again.
I certainly would have done more if I felt up to it, but I imagine I’ll make up for it next week. It has been too long since I walked the beach! Two weeks, at least, and it is such a centering practice for me. A part of Earth week in the book suggests imagining being a rose, a willow tree, or a pebble. I would prefer being a willow tree or a pebble. The willow is motherly and familial, peaceful, and soulful. The pebble is a young child/ tomboy’s dream, always useful–be aware I climbed trees when I was a child! I would not choose the rose, for I feel I’ve lived that: the sweet flower pruned to look good and often plucked to die in a vase. Sigh, the plight of many women before this generation; the vase being a ‘good’ marriage that puts a girl on a shelf. Yet, I was allowed to climb trees! Not so bad after all, but society sort of tried to hold us back, you know? Things are changing though, but I digress.
Earth week reminds me of my kinesthetic field. A quiz once told me I was equally visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Sometimes I just dwell on one, but my life is happiest when I honor all of them. So, I’ll seek to do my 5 mile walk in a few days! I’ll sit in the sunlight again, soon. I will laugh with a friend again as I did yesterday….no details needed, it’s just something I am wisely making room for in my life even through stress or rough days. 🙂 And I will always add music and buy clothes that hold a color that draws me in. Perhaps it will soak up the sun into my spirit more strongly, but am I digressing again? 🙂
In the realm of writing, I self-published a short story that is sort of supernatural and metaphysical in nature. You can find it on Amazon by searching Crossroads Diner Kindle. There is a contest I have entered through an online Book club, and I also just want people to read it. Reviews on Amazon are a great way to get feedback on this story’s ideas and are so appreciated! I plan to work more on the Ellie manuscript this summer, though I do have my little trip to Rochester coming up. I so look forward to it!
So, as of July 1,we’ve made it through the first half of the year! I survived the first half, including the end of a pandemic teaching year. My son is still not speaking to me or his dad, not to anyone in the family. He had an issue in his life, and I wanted him to solve it a certain way; he did not want to do that. It seems he’s doing it his way, and I pray it works. Now, I send him loving or encouraging texts. That’s all I can do, since he is grown. I am still trying to live my own life, since I know he’s living his own life. I am practicing acceptance. He is venturing into his own life and will reach out to family again when he’s ready. I believe that.
The rest of the year may bring more changes, and they may be wanted or unwanted. I am going to have faith that I have instilled strength and willingness to work hard in my son. I am going to keep laughing for the sake of laughing. I will surround myself with those who encourage me to smile and laugh yet listen if I need an ear. I will accept others for what they are and give them leeway to be that while trying to bring out their best. I am going to move toward tomorrow fearlessly and avoid expecting the worst; yet if it approaches, I will battle it like the warrior that I am, like a flexible, sturdy oak or an empathic willow tree (depending on the day :).
So, how’s that for setting my intention for the next six months? I don’t remember what my New Years’ resolution was, and who cares? I think I’ll set six months’ intentions each year, one at summer solstice and one at winter solstice–a great way to honor the physical world and this Earth that we have been granted by a marvelous Creator. Enjoying nature brings me closer to my spirit. I hope to do more of that this week!
Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Natalie the Explorer. After a matcha green tea, I am taking my time this morning. Why? Because I can. 🙂
It is Fire Week in the Soul Coaching book, which involves stepping out of the usual routines. It being summer, I get to step out of my work routine anyway! One new addition to the routine is walking 5 miles on Tuesday evenings with a Meetup group, traipsing through neighborhoods I don’t normally frequent and seeing wonderful new sites. I do know one person in the group, but taking these walks is a new thing for me, and I love it!
There has also been plenty of time to rest, take my time, and live in the moment. If that is the water part of my life, it is a slow-moving, lazy river. I love those, and they certainly represent living in the moment. It is such an important thing to do, isn’t it? Of course, we may not be able to do it all the time. Still, living with uncertainty with all of the shake-ups and changes in my life recently has made living in the moment necessary at times. I have to maintain the balance.
Perhaps I will blog more on my journey through the Soul Coaching book, if the spirit moves me. It has become a welcome routine every morning with a long, drawn-out breakfast. When it is done, I’ll be changing up my routines again. I actually worked on writing the Ellie book this week. There will be more of that to follow!
Have a great weekend, everyone, and thanks for stopping by for my coffee share!
Today was my 15th day in the “Soul Coaching” book which gives 28 days of digging deeper and examining our lives with each week representing one of the four elements.
This is Fire Week. As you can tell from Monday’s Flash fiction post, the concept of fire has been present in my thoughts and my life, with its ability to destroy and rebuild things, to give us opportunities to start anew, etc. I, however, have found a need for balance. Still, fire showed up in my life and I said, “Okay. I will survive.” I had to let go of some things I held dear and move on toward newness. As the book says, “face your shadow self,’ and ‘examine your fears.’ I am now aiming to thrive amidst the fires of change and maybe even use them to my benefit.
Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Allison at Eclecti Ali. It is a coffee day for me, though three days a week it is Matcha green tea. And my coffee today is half-caff. I believe this is better for my health and ability to sleep, and the Florida weather is very sweat-producing lately, which disagrees with my age. 🙂 Half-caff seems to be all I need, though I am pretty tired in the evenings now. We’ll see how that goes when we have less daylight.
My focus is all over the place. I brought home work to do last night and still have some to do this morning. Tomorrow there’s a drive through Trunk or Treat in the afternoon at church and I’m taking pictures. It should be fun.
Focus being as it is, let me just pick a word and ponder on it. Random Word Generator says: Heal. Gosh, if that isn’t the word of the year for me, then I don’t know if words even exist. Take a gander at what I’ll call a free-flow poem:
Mudflower, by Pamela Schloesser Canepa (c) 2020
If you heal, you are a flower growing out of the mud.What matters is not that you were in the mud, but that you are a flower. Should one forget the mud? It was a cool, nurturing place for you. Maybe forget the bugs. Mud grew you into a flower, and not just any flower. You may be a tiger lily or a wildflower but with thorns along its side. You are not easily plucked, friend to the bees, protecting itself, yet opening to flourish and receive the sunshine. Do not feel ashamed, but empowered. What matters is that you are a flower.
True story. My life. I think I’ll try these sorts of poems more often. After all, I grew tired of griping about my health, the state of politics or education budgets, or my temporary writer’s block. This could start a prolific trend…dare I hope? Virtual hugs, my friends. Have a great week!
From Matthew 26:36-37, ESV: “Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘“Sit here, while I go over there and pray.’37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.”
In the Christian faith, we are nearing the end of Lent, which means the story of Gethsemane is near, a telling of the hours leading up to Jesus death as he prayed and prepared himself. It is a dark, somber story, which tells of: the evil that men do, the weakness of someone who is supposed to be a friend, violence, betrayal, suffering, death, all of which happened to Jesus. Sadly, all of these stem from the human condition.
Yet, something else is at the heart of the human condition and this story of Jesus and Gethsemane: the desire of mankind to strive towards spiritual nurturing and enlightenment, to find our way to the light. To believe, when times are darkest, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, a benevolent power that will calm us and give us what we need to sustain such dark and painful times.
Jesus’ disciples were hitting rock bottom. Betraying their Lord and leader is certainly at rock bottom, and I just imagine how that felt when he actually died. But the whole Easter story does carry a light of hope, a promise of spiritual gifts, forgiveness, and resurrection. I used to want to avoid the story of Lent. I studied it in depth throughout my whole childhood in Sunday school and parochial school. But the truth is, you have to go through Lent before you get to the joy of Easter. Otherwise, you really don’t know just what it’s all about. It’s sort of like childbirth. The pain is 100% worth it.
We are bottom feeder humans. Many of us would deny our Lord or our faith when it is more convenient. But even we can ask and hope for forgiveness. This is the story of the contrast of dark and light and of rebirth. Many might say it simply represents Spring. But it is the epitome of faith, belief in things not seen, and things that we once believed impossible.
**The AtoZ Challenge theme for my blog is “Who I am.” Yes, it’s wide open. In April, I will blog from A to Z to include little tidbits about me, poems I’ll share, and stories. Each day I will write something based on the next letter in the alphabet. It’s been fun so far, yet it has really given me a chance to pause for reflection as well.
This time of year brings back all kinds of memories. I volunteered to take a Bible verse and write a devotion to go in my church Advent devotional. The memories were easy; the challenge was training my thoughts around a scripture as well. Here’s the result.
Scripture- Psalm 16:11 “You show me the past of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Advent season is a time for many memories. Opening the door to the past, I think of my first Christmas memory. Mom gave me a new red, velvety dress and pressed my hair in curls. I was seven and we lived in Virginia. Well, she dressed me up all pretty but it seems I caused her some embarrassment, plugging my ears and yawning a lot during the musical service. Maybe I just wanted to be in the nursery with my little brother. Despite my lack of decorum, we went home and Mom, Dad, and my little brother spent time listening to the record player together as I fell asleep watching the candles flicker, waiting for morning. As close as I am to Mom, it’s odd that this is my first Christmas memory! Yet what matters is that we enjoyed our time together as a family, my immature behavior was forgiven, and the occasion was still joyful.
Then there is the memory of two years later being allowed to go into the ICU on Christmas Eve to see my dad through the glass. *He’d had surgery on his esophagus and was in critical condition, but ultimately, lived. It was a rough Christmas, but friends and neighbors all over shared their Christmas joy and cheer with us for the weeks he was hospitalized. I was overwhelmed; we’d only known many of them for just one year. Years later, as an adult, Dad said he saw me look through that window, and it felt as if he was visited by an angel giving him assurance. Being told this made me feel really special. I didn’t realize I could be so important to him.
While I recall many who have given over the years to share their joy and Christmas spirit with my family and with me, it is as deeply rewarding to do this for others. I had a few opportunities to do so when I worked in retail. I missed church service working late one Christmas Eve, and was anxious to get home to give three-year-old Austen his new tricycle. Yet, I found joy in making one customer so happy when I found her a sought after TV in the stockroom, that she hugged me, saying, “God bless you.” This was two minutes before closing time. I talk about how retail zapped my Christmas spirit year after year, but this woman’s happiness and relief truly warmed me spiritually, and my son was still happy when I got home!
Prayer: Lord, when I look back, please help me to see the good in all that I have endured, the lessons learned, the moments when I was someone else’s light in the dark whether I knew it or not, the many times that I was shown how much I was loved. Help me to share that love and joy with others, for there is no greater pleasure. Please help me to see that the goodness you have bestowed on me all my life will continue, for with faith in you, dear Lord, comes the knowledge and assurance that I will always be loved.
*Addendum: If you were wondering, my father’s esophageal issue was due to a history of binge drinking and alcoholism. He sought sobriety and finally, it stuck, after he stayed in a 30-day rehab when I was 20. Almost thirty years later, he is still firm in his recovery.
Light at the end of the tunnel. Photos courtesy of Pixabay.
When life is hectic and people are dumping too much on you, and you’re not getting enough sleep, you just want to escape or at least get your hair done, but there is not enough time…..What can you do?! Short of pharmaceuticals, that is, which are wrought with their own problems… I have to try a “cocktail” of strategies to keep myself from cracking. Here is my recent mixture:
* I am strengthened by biblical scripture and have tried to get closer to this since the beginning of the Lenten season. I believe my pastor discussed this scripture at the beginning of Lent, and it is a staple of my spiritual diet lately.
Matthew 19:26: “But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men [it is] impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”
I have lived through parenting a teenager and being faced with realities I did not want to be a part of. He has been in the E.R three times in his life due to his playing with danger, and I prayed furiously, fighting the worry. Yet, here he is. After wavering and wallowing over his confusion after high school, when it seemed impossible to motivate him, he is taking a test today that will determine if he can get into trade school. It involves some Algebra, and yes, I want to worry, but instead I’ll write my blog entry, which is actually a sort of prayer. I am going to have faith, even if things don’t turn out the way I want, that things will work out just fine.
*I am rewarded when I look to Literature for an escape. It is fairly inexpensive, and there is no hangover. To believe in impossible things, one must be an optimist, and may even be a scientist. I am probably a dreamer. But guess what, someone has to dream up the ideas in the first place! And it nourishes my soul. From Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass:
Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
I had abandoned this book long ago, because it seemed so out there, it just lost me. Well, it must be just what I need right now, because it is sticking to me like a well-balanced meal sticks to your sides. I lick my lips in delight like a full Cheshire Cat after reading a chapter of this outrageous masterpiece of wordplay and riddles. It’s the escape I needed from worry over my son who is a grown-up now, and over my job where I sometimes feel I am given an impossible task, where what I do is never enough. But guess what, I am doing fine and I need to remember that.
*Music. It relaxes me, it awakens me, it pumps me up, and helps me forget the little nit-picky things that can really bother me. I especially need it when driving in traffic to get to work in the morning. Case in point, horrible traffic on the way to work yesterday. I was playing Coldplay’s “A Rush of Blood to the Head.” Just the right song makes me not care that I am getting to work later than I had hoped (For Pete’s sake I am always there before my contract time anyhow)! So, I sat in a line of cars at the light yesterday jamming to Coldplay’s Politik, enthralled in the notes that went higher and higher, trying to sing with the notes (I was singing “eyes” in every note up the ladder while Chris Martin was holding and breathing through that word….Eyyyyyyessssssssssssssssssss). I hope I looked as crazy to those around me as I felt, since I truly did not care what they thought.
*It has been too long since I had a true vacation, and I am feeling that one will be in order pretty soon. Therefore, my photo with this entry is of another time, in another place, when I was on vacation with family, including my nine year old son who was amazed at the beauty of the mountainside he had never seen before. It was a place where you think of the silence or the birds singing around you, and what beautiful wonders are just ahead as you make your way through the trees or up the hill. That is the best. Those memories also help me to hang on, but they are certainly helped along by prayer, song, and a steady diet of just the right reading at the right moment.
So, I sit here after dropping my son off early for his test, knowing he just wanted to get out of the car and away from my questions or reminders. I know how my worry bothers him; I dealt with the same thing from my mother. I am working on it, as I know it is to my physical detriment, in other words, not very good for my health. Heck, my worry bothers me too. But I have sent out my prayers for things to work out, and for him to never give up, which I hope he has learned from me. Now I think I can fill my mind with something else. It is a beautiful day, and there is still more to read about Alice!
As I sit here sipping coffee, to go along with my Advil-to-chase-away-my-wrist-pain, I am grateful. Here is a new morning, and my little dog Bixby is as spunky as ever, chewing on his miniature toy by my side. A part of me wants to feel old, but a much needed good night’s sleep has renewed me. I have come to a good place in my life, started saying yes to things I formerly wouldn’t, the dog being one of them. These things have brought such rewards and my life is full, not empty, and not lacking, but full of goodness. So I’ll take a moment and be grateful. I realize there must be a Bible verse that communicates all of the hope and gratitude I am feeling. Thanks to the internet, (which makes so many dubious things available, so why not just the right Bible verse), here it is:
It being Lent, I wanted to do something selfless. The fact that I have not given up much because I am so sporadic in my asceticism, (meaning I have practiced it as a response to anxiety or extreme emotion, never on purpose, so choosing to do so is hard for me lately), leads me to try other ways of being selfless. I just in the last six months have started feeling healthy again after an extremely emotional year in my family. As a result, I’ve decided to give things away for Lent, donate things more, and to actually study the Bible more. So, I looked in my long untouched Bible to verify the verse the internet brought me at my request before I shared it. It’s officially verified.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The Bible has been unused for a while, yet I am a woman of faith who attends church and likes to stay involved in many of the good things happening there. I have read probably 80-85% of the whole Bible in my lifetime, due to a religious upbringing that included four years in a religious private school. Having said that, what people use the Bible for at times frightens me. The many possible interpretations unnerve me. People who interpret the Bible and have no give or compromise on what they think it means are scary. The fact that the Bible contradicts itself in many places is quite confusing. How many different men were involved in its production? What can a person in search of spirituality do with all this? I don’t know,but I do think attending church and listening to the sermons of a person well-educated in the Bible is helpful. Bible discussion is helpful, though I would probably run the other way when someone takes the Bible literally and argues until they’re red in the face because, for example, I don’t think women have to be subservient to men. What my love for the Bible comes down to is the story of the New Testament. The story of Jesus is touching, redeeming. Someone once said to me, but it’s only a story. “Is it, really?” I asked.
“Well, no one can prove it,” he replied.
“That’s a definition of faith, isn’t it?” Even something unproven is still possible. Believing in the possible makes my world grow. That makes sense in this expanding universe. Studies show that faith, which is akin to positive thinking, is healthy for the soul and the psyche. I may slip at times, but I am finding my way to appreciate each morning of a new day, and the possibilities it brings.
His mercies are “new every morning.” When I believe that, I can feel the sun’s rays on my face at daybreak; it is a glorious feeling, of a power far beyond mine. I am glad there is a power beyond mine, because sometimes I am week, and I like knowing there’s someone I can rely on and ask for help. This gives me comfort, just like the sunrise that comes and gives us the promise of a new day.
Sunrise, my son, and the birds he loved to chase. Circa 2008.
“There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won’t feel insecure around you.” Marianne Williamson
The dream goes like this: I am sick. I cannot speak or make a single sound with my mouth. I hear beautiful music and it frustrates me, yet pleases me at the same time. I open my mouth and feel pain, but cannot produce any expressive noise or words. I move closer to a plant that is growing beautiful flowers; they are orchids or lilies. I take the outer petals of the flowers and eat them. Suddenly, I am singing beautifully. I am growing, and I am life.
In a training session for elder duty at my church I was asked to look at this poem in relation to my faith. The first thing this line reminds me of is the term “shrinking violet.” While my reasons for being a “shrinking violet” were probably not to protect others feelings, my role as shrinking violet certainly was not enlightened. Digging deeper into my faith has caused me to dig up a lot that I haven’t thought about in a long time. There are dark spaces inside, but there are also places that filter in the light.
Among the dark spots on my faith journey are the many times I stuck to being a shrinking violet, not to prevent others from feeling insecure, but to avoid conflict. Avoiding conflict was a constant goal of mine, or perhaps we should say it became more of an instinct. Needless to say when avoiding conflict is your ultimate goal, one is not living fully to their potential. There is also a saying “Don’t squander your talents”, “Don’t hide and your light under a bushel.” Evidently people do this all the time, and I’m not so unusual. But when we were singing that song about this little light of mine in Sunday school, I suppose I didn’t get the metaphor. Or maybe survival was more important to me.
My upbringing in a household with one alcoholic parent and the other frustrated and constantly the peacemaker taught me that I should be the person to avoid conflict. Maybe because the peacemaker was the woman? Perhaps that’s how I learned my role ? Maybe I took the role of man to be “rules the house with anger.” To this day I can’t stand sitting at a table when someone pounds it in excitement, anger, or frustration. Fortunately, my dad went on to rehab when I was 20, and was no longer a drinker. By that point, my habits and misconceptions were set. However, I must give my dad thanks for strongly encouraging me to go to college, because when I went through high school, my life was not geared towards that. The only honors class I took was English, because I just love that subject and wanted to see if I could do it. It seems that drying out helped him become more supportive and encouraging, even if it was through long-distance. So I have to say, I went to college and excelled because he told me I could do it, so I wanted to prove him right. He even funded my first two years.
Flash forward to age 25. I am about to get married to an attractive guy I met at a party. He blew me away with his ownership of me. How he could not live without me or bear to see me with another guy. I actually did have second thoughts the day o f the wedding. I did not heed them. I am a sort who usually sticks with a choice I have made. Abandoning the relationship would have hurt him. Calling off the wedding would as well. Everything seemed to hinge on preserving his feelings. What about mine? They were on the back-burner. I had to be the peace-maker. His heavy drinking did not help matters. But I was still the peace-maker. I had earned a college degree and a professional job in management, but he overshadowed and made me second guess every decision I made. Saying certain things at a party could set him off as well. I obviously wasn’t growing as a person. My spiritual growth was stunted. Sunday morning would be a hung-over day just as much as Saturday. Then came my pregnancy, and the birth of our perfect baby. Keeping the peace was more important now.
Let me tell you, that only lasted so long. Knowing my son would one day understand all the horrible things my husband was saying to me, the accusations, the name-calling, even thinly veiled threats, made me fear the way his perception of a mother’s role or even a wife’s role might turn out. Would he one day believe all those things his dad was saying TO MY FACE and I would just try to go into the other room, being a survivor, never a fighter. My only way to fight back was to preserve my dignity and my sanity and leave. Looking back, it is apparent that I was forever shrinking so that he wouldn’t be insecure around me, or because of me. But this was also motivated by fear. Insecure people grow angry, they manipulate, they try to cut you down to size. I would allow that so his anger would JUST STOP. I did not want my son to grow up in that household. Sadly, he later came to see his dad as the outcast family member, cut-off. For years, he would fight to defend this perceived “underdog.” But that is an entirely different battle.
For the most part, I have raised my son as a single parent. There were some relationships. They grew stale or were revealed to be the wrong situation, for one reason or the other. I pride myself on the fact that I did not get married prematurely again. I did not jump into another family situation or have another child, thus making myself dependent on a man. I can’t see how some women go through pregnancy alone, my hat’s off to you. I have often used my gifts as self-therapy, not always to help others. But I would like to share them with the world. It still purges my spirit to produce something with my gifts, words, a song, prose or poems. The world may take it or leave it. And I still have my voice. I feel an increasing need to speak out with this voice. I want to speak and plant seeds with my words. Ideas will grow, and there will be no more shrinking.