Tag Archives: uncatagorized

The Most Important Question Of Your Life

Such  a great find that I had to share. The form it came in had his name link incorrect, so now you can check out his site. Props, Mark. Props.



 by: Mark Manson, on

Everybody wants what feels good. Everyone wants to live a carefree, happy and easy life, to fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships, to look perfect and make money and be popular and well-respected and admired and a total baller to the point that people part like the Red Sea when you walk into the room.

If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.

A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.

Everybody wants to have an amazing job and financial independence—but not everyone wants to suffer through 60-hour work weeks, long commutes, obnoxious paperwork, to navigate arbitrary corporate hierarchies and the blasé confines of an infinite cubicle hell. People want to be rich without the risk, without the sacrifice, without the delayed gratification necessary to accumulate wealth.

People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately appreciate the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.

People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not.

People want a partner, a spouse. But you don’t end up attracting someone amazing without appreciating the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections, building the sexual tension that never gets released, and staring blankly at a phone that never rings. It’s part of the game of love. You can’t win if you don’t play.

What determines your success isn’t “What do you want to enjoy?” The question is, “What pain do you want to sustain?” The quality of your life is not determined by the quality of your positive experiences but the quality of your negative experiences. And to get good at dealing with negative experiences is to get good at dealing with life.

There’s a lot of crappy advice out there that says, “You’ve just got to want it enough!”

Everybody wants something. And everybody wants something enough. They just aren’t aware of what it is they want, or rather, what they want “enough.”

Because if you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want the beach body, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the early mornings, and the hunger pangs. If you want the yacht, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business moves, and the possibility of pissing off a person or ten thousand.

If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, an idealization, an image and a false promise. Maybe what you want isn’t what you want, you just enjoy wanting. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.

Sometimes I ask people, “How do you choose to suffer?” These people tilt their heads and look at me like I have twelve noses. But I ask because that tells me far more about you than your desires and fantasies. Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns. And ultimately that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have similar answers. The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?

That answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.

For most of my adolescence and young adulthood, I fantasized about being a musician — a rock star, in particular. Any badass guitar song I heard, I would always close my eyes and envision myself up on stage playing it to the screams of the crowd, people absolutely losing their minds to my sweet finger-noodling. This fantasy could keep me occupied for hours on end. The fantasizing continued up through college, even after I dropped out of music school and stopped playing seriously. But even then it was never a question of if I’d ever be up playing in front of screaming crowds, but when. I was biding my time before I could invest the proper amount of time and effort into getting out there and making it work. First, I needed to finish school. Then, I needed to make money. Then, I needed to find the time. Then … and then nothing.

Despite fantasizing about this for over half of my life, the reality never came. And it took me a long time and a lot of negative experiences to finally figure out why: I didn’t actually want it.

I was in love with the result—the image of me on stage, people cheering, me rocking out, pouring my heart into what I’m playing—but I wasn’t in love with the process. And because of that, I failed at it. Repeatedly. Hell, I didn’t even try hard enough to fail at it. I hardly tried at all.

The daily drudgery of practicing, the logistics of finding a group and rehearsing, the pain of finding gigs and actually getting people to show up and give a shit. The broken strings, the blown tube amp, hauling 40 pounds of gear to and from rehearsals with no car. It’s a mountain of a dream and a mile-high climb to the top. And what it took me a long time to discover is that I didn’t like to climb much. I just liked to imagine the top.

Our culture would tell me that I’ve somehow failed myself, that I’m a quitter or a loser. Self-help would say that I either wasn’t courageous enough, determined enough or I didn’t believe in myself enough. The entrepreneurial/start-up crowd would tell me that I chickened out on my dream and gave in to my conventional social conditioning. I’d be told to do affirmations or join a mastermind group or manifest or something.

But the truth is far less interesting than that: I thought I wanted something, but it turns out I didn’t. End of story.

I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way.

People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who get in good shape. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who move up it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainty of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.

This is not a call for willpower or “grit.” This is not another admonishment of “no pain, no gain.”

This is the most simple and basic component of life: our struggles determine our successes. So choose your struggles wisely, my friend


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New place, New moment.

“Ya know something good about being old? Ya just don’t care anymore. You’re lucky, Mom. KBYEEE!”dropping off L. at school in slippers I still remember this sentence coming from my sweet seven-year-old’s mouth, and at the time I was horrified because I knew exactly what he was talking about. He had decided, based on my unkempt presence that day, that I was old enough to not care if I wore shoes or slippers, or even day-time clothes to take him to school. (I had also forgone the bra and makeup that hectic morning, which just made it worse.) He hugged me quickly, jumped out of the car, and thought no more about it.

I went home and ate some chocolate.

That was during my chaotic time as a stay-at-home mom of three boys, one husband, and a household to boot. It was when Elementary School and the ultimate homemade lunch was all consuming for me. Shoulds ruled my life. I SHOULD be a part of PTA. I SHOULD be a better cook/wife/mom/container gardener/scrapbook-er. I SHOULD be put together, somehow. I would SHOULD all over myself regularly, but at least I had my youth. I was twenty-seven at the time, and was pree-ty proud of myself for surviving any given day.

I just felt tired constantly, that’s all.

Now L. had no idea he wasn’t complimenting me. There was real admiration in his words that day. All he knew was that I spent time with him each school day approving some semblance of an outfit for him, but lucky me, I got to wing my wardrobe. And that was something to look forward to. It’s been fifteen years since he bounced off to school after dropping that bomb, and it’s taken me until I reached the ripe old age of forty-two to agree with him.

Now L. was talking about clothing choices, but I am thinking of the SHOULDS.

I never did buy in to the PTA. Or scrap-booking. I just let ’em go, somewhere along the line. Probably in my Thirty’s. I worked on being a better mom/wife/container gardener, and I’d say there is good improvement, but room for more. But I have outgrown the SHOULDS, for the most part. They are exhausting, demanding, and unrealistic, and who has room for those things AND uncomfortable bras?

Just sayin.

I say I am now old enough to start loving the skin I’m in. And shoes? I am old enough to be happy with my choice of shoes, slippers or not, no matter who’s looking, but that could just be because my shoes are of a bit better quality now, and therefore comfy. I dunno. Let’s just call ’em investments. But while I am on the subject of age, let’s get to the good stuff. I am old enough to make myself a priority, and it looks like this:

  1. Aloette skin care product lineSkin Care. I’m not talking about using the same lotion my husband uses for his callused feet. Nope. I mean my own stuff. The good stuff. With words like Moisturizing Beads, Soft and Silky Radiance, and Satin-ee Serum. (I am not doing the Plumpers, Pouty-Faces, or Lashes-For-Miles. Let alone Age-Defying anything. I’m no Betty White, for crying out loud.)
  2. crab-legsCrab legs. Spiders of the sea. Bottom Dwellers. Whatever you wanna call em, I’m a fan, and I am old enough now to splurge a bit for a lunch or three. I frequent Joe’s when I want to sit in the sun by myself, open up my laptop and write in peace and quiet. Scotty the bartender knows me by name, and he knows that when I ask for extra cherries with my Coke, what I ACTUALLY mean is an entire bowl full of cherries. “Because life is like a bowl full of cherries. Maraschino, even.” Scotty says it, and I believe him now.  I tip him well, just for that.
  3. nap with slippersNaps. The greatest part about being old enough for my kids to get themselves up and out the door for school/work is my naps. KA-CHOW, SUCKAHS! While my kids are out using their boundless youth for things like curling luscious teen-age hair for hours on end, or screwing up their 20’s with rash decisions, I am watching them walk out the door with glee, just to book it back upstairs to climb into my very soft, very luxurious bed. With a push of a button, I enjoy a massage at zero gravity while listening to the sounds of ocean waves from Alexa, the electronic robot that husband ordered from Amazon.
  4. bliss-out-yoga-pose-vivian-neoFinding my bliss. I know, I know. My kids and my husband are my bliss. They are, actually. But I have time, now, to enjoy a hobby/job/cause that brings me joy in addition to them, and so I hone my education and skills at being a Financial Coach, renew my annual pass at the Rec Center for Deep Water Aerobics where I am the youngest one in the class, and Write about whatever the heck makes me smile or cry.
  5. lady cryingCrying Whenever I Darn Well Please. Nope, I don’t turn away if my kids come in the door. Or my husband. Or a stranger. I’ve been through some SSS….tuff. I’ve earned the right to be authentic, and nuts to whomever feels uncomfortable about it. I went a lot of years pretending that “It is no big deal”. Whatever the deal was, it was imperative that I didn’t upset the kids. Or anyone else. Well, that phase is done, and they all have big kid panties they can put on. I know, because I gave them as Christmas gifts.

You will notice that cooking classes have not made it onto my list.

So now I am older than 27, and I found 7 gray hairs last week alone. I pulled them out immediately, of course, as I’m not ready to be Betty White, but I realize that I am more fine with them than I was before. I think it is because I simply didn’t know that it could get good. Getting older, I mean. I didn’t really think that becoming a little calmer, wiser, happier, and having a little fatter pocketbook could balance out the start of wrinkles and gray hair, along with a few more lady lumps.

In the youthful years, I did not take into consideration the look that so many parent’s of 20-something’s have on their faces. I didn’t recognize that small, knowing, smile that the oldsters would give me as I passed them in the halls of church, or in a park, or at a store. I thought those faces were smiling at me because they envied my youth and ability to keep it together at 4 pm, in spite of having 3 boys, a stroller, and a dog as my entourage.

Nope. Not even close.

Those 40- and 50-something parents couldn’t care less that I had water bottles for hydration, snacks that were organic, and that I had just managed to have my oldest son hold on to the pet leash AND his terror of a younger brother without having an all-out brawl. In fact, they probably glazed right over the drama and smiled simply because they knew that once I survived that part, I could partake in what they were on their way to do: Go have a conversation that had nothing to do with kids or bills. It was an encouragement smile, tinged with just a bit of relief that they didn’t have to get involved. It was a placeholder smile, just waiting for me and my entourage to move past them so they could high-five each other and say, “We’re out of that phase! Hallelujah!” and then head on over to find something to do that had nothing to do with surviving the day.

Who knew that was an option? I certainly did not, as I let L. out of the car that day so many years ago. It was a hope, but not a certainty, all vague and foggy, and as I learned that I was no longer as young as a youth, it let me start revving up for the good part. The Today’s.

I’m older, sure. But not old. Old, I have decided, is just about 20 years older than I am at any given moment. And when I am Betty White old, maybe I will look to change my passion to acting.

And then they can make a Bobble-head of me, too.betty white bobblehead doll preview




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What Do I Do With What I have?


My mom used to make us kids homemade clay. It was salt dough clay. As a little kid, I would be thrilled to open the twist tie on the little sandwich bag of homemade clay, plopping it out onto the kitchen table and immediately squooshing it into my fingers. It could be red, or yellow, or just plain ‘ol dough-colored, depending on my mother’s ambition that day, and I had no wondering about how she made it. It just showed up sometimes on cold winter days to keep us occupied, and I thought she was magic because 1. SHE COULD JUST….. MAKE!… A TOY HAPPEN, POOF!! and 2. It was ACTUALLY EDIBLE. A FER REALSIES EDIBLE TOY!!!

Cheerios necklaces would have to bump up their game to compete.

OF COURSE, the first time she told us about the clay being edible we were skeptical. But that didn’t stop us from biting into a chunk of it as soon as her back was turned. She knew we would. She counted on us testing it. She told us casually that this was clay that we could even eat, IF WE CHOSE TO. (She said this last bit in a softer, quicker, glossed-over tone that I recognized later as the tone used at the end of a used car commercial.) We ignored the ominous and mysterious tone of those words as she walked away from us and over to the counter.

polaroid cameraShe turned back around with a Polaroid camera just in time to catch our puckered up faces. Which is exactly what I did when I put the foul stuff in my mouth. She pushed the button of the clunky camera just as I took a big bite of the clay and the picture shows a little kid in pig tails making a startling discovery in her mouth. That kid’s nose was wrinkled up, one eye squished shut, and her tongue shoved out of her mouth in an attempt to expel the mushy mess.  It tasted bland and salty and boring. I felt totally ripped off. I assumed that magic would have been better tasting.

I guess Cheerios wasn’t out of a job just yet.

Taste aside, I used the clay and just knew it was there FOR ME. I owned it as soon as it plopped onto the table. It was my blob to use as I saw fit. Sure I would look around, eventually, to see what the other kids had created with their mass, but mostly I was into my own experience and that was enough for me. That clay was the tool I used for my own imagination, and there was no right or wrong way to mold it.

clay snakesIt wasn’t until I got older that I would start to compare my creations with the other blobs around the school tables. I mean, I noticed the clay snakes, and the more advanced snakes that got wound into clay snake-bowls, and, of course, the flat circles with fist prints all over the surface when snake bowls were as far as we could go, creatively. I could admire them a bit. But it wasn’t until elementary school that I would compare my snakes and bowls to the sculptures of elephants and human faces that Jay, the kid on the wobbly stool, would make.

What the?

clay elephant I remember coming to his end of the table and just staring at the miniature elephant and thinking, “Um… Nobody told me THAT was an option or possibility with THIS clay…” It had never occurred for me to use the stuff for anything other than playtime nonsense. Or as a test for my mouth. This dude had taken a toy and transformed it into something that mattered. Something better than what it started out to be.

That was when my mom’s salt dough stopped being a toy, and started becoming a challenge.

My clay bowls stopped being tubes of rolled up clay all wound around on itself, and started emerging with a flattened circle molded up and around just so and… and… that was as far as it went. The sad little bowl would crack on the side as it fell back into a circle, and I would look left and right to see if anyone noticed my failure. They didn’t. They were too busy craning their necks as Jay would create pictures on paper as well. This kid was a genius, clearly.

And then it was time to go out for recess. That trumped all.

Jay had his life, and I had mine. We would pass each other in the halls, or at recess, or in classes, but we simply didn’t have theTrumpet same strengths and talents. Art was merely something I took in school as a class. For him, it became a way of life. I chose the trumpet, instead. That was my dad’s influence as he shared that he had been in a band, once, and, in my imagination, he had traveled the world, practically, so it was my duty and joy to pass on his legacy. Making dad proud got me through some harsh practices and criticism from my band teacher as I started working on my craft. Music became my passion, and between the trumpet, the baritone, and the piano, it still permeates my life today.

So what does that have to do with my mom’s clay?

It’s all about the opportunity. And the work. That lump of salt dough, primitive and simple, opened up a doorway of possibilities. It showed me a way to put my imagination to work, and then see the results in real time. It let me see that, no matter how far down the road I chose to go with my talent and dedication in salt dough sculpture, it was doable to make one thing transform into another, better, thing. That a-ha moment transferred over to baking/cooking (not well, but still). And writing. And tennis. And turning kids, a husband, and a house into a home.

girl-playing-pianoIt transformed my teen years. I was melodramatic, idealistic, and a bit hormone-ee. I would get mad at my siblings a lot. And my mom, for being so mean. She wouldn’t be JUST my friend. She wouldn’t support me in running away to live in a tree-house with my friend. She wouldn’t change with the times. How DARE she be a mom first, not letting me get away with compromising the great for the now! Harrumph!

Middle kid syndrome, and all that.

I would pound out my frustrations on the piano. (Also mom’s fault for giving me the freedom and lessons to play around on those keys whenever I wanted, no matter how loud and repetitive I got.) I would pound and play, and at some point, I reasoned that if Beethoven’s ideas could be turned into song, then nothing was stopping me from using my own imagination to turn teenage angst and passion into writing music that other people could admire. So I started risking. It turned into a joyful outlet. (Also, being over-dramatic helped. Um…helps.)

Now I’m not a world-renowned… anything…, but that’s my choice, as I see it. A chunk of natural ability and affinity obviously helps, in Beethoven’s and Jay’s cases. But the hard work and determination…well…that’s up to them. And to me. I have no idea how far down the road my imagination will take me in different areas, but I’ll never know until I take that possibility of talent out of the plastic baggie. Maybe take that first bite of saltiness and roll it around in my mouth to decide if it is worth working with. Anything is possible, right?

dough-snake Just ask the salt-dough snake.

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Posted by on October 12, 2015 in Life


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Move… (Story Idea)

Dear Husband…

My suggestions worked best as letters, I’ve found. We, Greg and I, have taken to checking the mailbox out front every day, just in case the flag is up. It lets us know we were thought of. We have done this little method of honey-do’s, love letters, and just-because’s for a few years now. Complete with those fake stamps that come in the mail when you order a new set of checks. It’s a more complete look. I am well aware that email is an option, but really, who doesn’t love a handwritten letter addressed to them? Plus, it gives the new mail-lady, Merna, a reason to hang out for a moment, wondering why there is a letter from our address, going TO our address.

Which she does. Every time.

I make it a thing to be there at the front window at noon-ish, to watch. The envelopes are random enough that she scrunches up her eyes all crinkle-like and purses her lips for a minute. I can practically see the lightbulb pop over her head, over and over again. I chalk it up to her advancing years. Amusing.


Dear Husband,
I am writing to inform you that I have come to a brilliant conclusion. We should move back home. Home to our roots. We grew up together there, married there, and it has been a long time since we have been back. Enough time has passed that most of our co-conspirators will have grown mature (like us, heh heh), moved out of town, or still be serving time in prison. 🙂 Our original community, our family and neighbors, and the general feel of belonging may just be fun after our jaunts to The Great Outside, gaining our own habits and traditions.
What say you?

I mailed it, put the flag up, and looked at my list of things to do. House stuff, bills, and errands were at the top, of course. I chose to make another list, however. I flopped down in The Queen’s Chair, my big leather recliner, and enjoyed the quiet as the sun warmed the room through the big window. The King’s Chair had our cat, Move, in it. She was there in defiance of my husband’s proclamation: MOVE, CAT! YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED IN MY CHAIR. She looked at me sleepily, and promptly closed her eyes. She makes LAZY a career. I turned to my phone. It had one of those notebook apps on it, and I used it way too much. It was a jumble of random thoughts, lists, and phone numbers.

I added to it.

I added all the things needed for the move to our hometown. I ignored immediately the reality of the list. Or the facts about things like… details. Nope, I just bounced around to the beginning of the end of our time here, in this house.

-Take a trip to hometown to look for just the right house. Preferably the beautiful one on Main Street with that wraparound porch. I want to watch the parades with ease.

As a former marching band member and parade participant, I wondered what it would look like from the sidelines. I remembered the practices throughout the summer, marching down various streets, lanes, roads, and avenues, carrying an enormous instrument and knowing I was part of the center of attention for those moments. The attention had made me a bit nervous and self-conscious, practicing on songs that I may or may not have flubbed, until I would notice various kids, out playing in their yards before the heat hit, waving and waving and waving for us to… what? Nod our head? Come over and see their stick art in the sand pile? Wave back? They would watch us play, perform our various maneuvers, and as we would march away, would go right on back to their stick play.

What is it that makes people wave at their live entertainment, anyway?

I remember me waving fanatically at a huge cartoon mouse at Disney World, a couple years ago. Couldn’t help it. Just a knee jerk reaction. I didn’t even have a little kid with me to use as camouflage. Other adults would be holding a little one, pulling up their kid’s chubby arm and make it flap in the air. This was the strategy to gain favor with the kid, while using their own grown-up enthusiasm to convince the child that seeing a giant mouse coming toward them for the first time was natural, normal, and pleasant. Worked like a charm. Kids all over the place would giggle and grin, heedless of the drool running down their chin. Older children would jump up and down, one hand on the pantleg of their adult and the other waving desperately to be seen. That grown-up would usually take pity on them and swish them up and over and onto their shoulders for a better view.

There was no one pulling up MY limb, urging me to gain favor with the mouse. That energy just burbled up, and before I knew it, I was just as happy as the 4 year old standing next to me picking his nose with the handle of a lollipop. I waved, the mouse waved back, probably to the 4 year old, and I felt special. End of story.

I would nod my head at those kids as I marched on, by the way. I’d nod my entire brass instrument to do it, and it made me feel gracious, doling out my special acknowledgement as I marched down the street. Hello to you, young one. And to you, flag-waver. Nod for you and your cabbage-patch kid, as well…. It would make up for the enormous, wet ring I would gain from that mouthpiece being attached to my lips for 2 hours. It would make up for the blisters from the ridiculous plasticky shoes I was forced to wear. They matched the Colonel Sanders get-up that someone, years ago, decided was a good idea for a uniform. Bright red WOOL suit? In July? What kind of monster were you, former Band President??

I believe the waving also made up for my face getting splotchy from the dehydration. Sickly white patches would contrast with hold-your-breath-for-as-long-as-you-can red spots around my face and neck when I would exert myself. Ask anyone that played tennis with me. I have heard, “OH YOUR POOR FACE…” way too many times for my own good. It was always accompanied by, “Can I get you something? A doctor?…” and it would bring on my canned answer, “I’m FINE, really. I’m alright. I get this way when I’m having fun. HaHaHa…” Not attractive, a’tall.

The looks I would get from marching were worth it, because as I became accustomed to the routines, the notes, and the stares, I’d enjoy the day. The flags. The floats and Mustangs filled with this county’s royalty or that little league championship team. The fire engines spraying water and throwing taffy simultaneously, daring the kids to come close enough to grab the treasure.

There were the elderly ladies holding court under the big elm trees, their grandkids and husbands opening coolers full of soda for them. They would wave benevolently at the parade participants, many of whom they had taught in church. Their wispy, fine hair, shaped in a perfect ball, would crown them in subtle hues of blues, grays, and silvers.

I would pass the extended family sections, cordoned off by folding camp chairs and die-hards, camping out for the prior 24 hours to get the coveted spot under the broom trees. Dozens of grown-ups and gaggles of kids, all with faces painted red, white, and blue to match the shirts, socks, and hair bows their moms had so joyously created from scratch. All would wave and clap as we went by, hoping we would stop and perform a simple routine for them. Just for them, it would seem.

And then there was the house I loved. Victorian, large, and grown seamlessly from the informal, yet tidy yard, a happy crew of twenty or so would be barbecuing and playing water balloon games on the big lawn. Yelling and laughing would follow my ears as we marched to the cadence of the drums. That house meant love. It meant Rest-From-The-Cares-Of-The-world. It meant a sigh of relief at the end of a full day.

I realized two things then, as I reminisced. 1. Move had moved from the King’s Chair to my lap, and 2. I had started snoring.

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Posted by on August 23, 2015 in Life


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Making Amends……. (via My Life….)

I found this just a few minutes ago and had a quick minute of love for the caring and tang of heartache that created this poem.

To Shan.
And Carol.

I do miss you both. Just not the pain.

I’ve done all I can do to make amends, But it’s clear by your actions you don’t wish to be friends. I’ve asked for a chance to make a fresh start, But there's no forgiveness within your heart. * Without even trying you’ve closed your mind, And are willing to leave a friendship behind. I would like to think you’re not really that small But your silence to me, indeed says it all. * I have tried to talk to break down the wall, But you guard it so cl … Read More

via My Life….

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Posted by on September 18, 2011 in Life


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