Posted onDecember 7, 2014
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Samhain is a festival of death as it is the death of the year and of the waxing Sun. It is also the death of the earth when Plants, seeds, and acorns are now slowly descending underground to ready themselves to be reborn in Spring. Animals will start to hibernate, and the earth will appear Barron as it sleeps through the winter months.
Earth energies are being pull inwards at this time, this is the time we should also be looking inwards at ourselves. Contemplate the year we have had and what lessons we have learned, whether they were good or bad, what can we take from them and use in the future.
Although a time of death Samhain is also a time of fresh starts and new beginnings. It is a time of ‘out with the old and in with the new’ To start looking forward and to our future.
On Samhain we should light a fire as this is primarily a Celtic fire festival where the villagers and towns folk would light giant bonfires to say goodbye to the God of the waxing Sun and to thank the Goddess for her harvest of gifts bestowed upon the earth. There would also be big feast with stews, corn and breads and we would give thanks for people in our lives and show gratitude for all that we have, and we give thanks to the people who are no longer with us and invite them to join us at the feast.
Light a candle tonight and put it at a window facing West, to light the way for our lost loved ones and invite their spirits to visit us.
Today is a great time for divination, for doing tarot reading and looking to the future and asking ourselves how we can improve our lives and move forward for the coming year.
Have a Blessed Samhain.
Thank you to everyone that sent me a message on any form of social media today, as well as the many e-mails I received. It was heart-warming to wake up this morning and see that I already had an influx of birthday wishes. It means a lot to me.
To my best friends and close friends: You are all SO amazing to me. I’d take a bullet for every single one of you.
I was gifted with a lovely little friend, who I think is going to be a tiny bestie.
I have been so busy with work that I really haven’t had the time to say much here, but I promise there will be more info and photos soon. Again, thank you everyone! 🙂
Truly good friends are hard to find. Honest, decent, caring friends are even harder to find. I am BLESSED to have 10 that I would KILL FOR, if need be. Special thanks to a few in particular this week who have been so kind, caring, supportive, and just plain AWESOME.
When you begin a new project, it takes you on a journey. Those that have supported me over the past month on this new journey mean the world to me. You all know who you are because you’ve all received personal messages from me over the last 10 days or so.
Hugs all around.
This is a quick note to inform readers that I will be pulling back a lot on the day-to-day function here. I’ve been doing it for a while now, but it may become more pronounced as I move on to a brand new blog and a new writing job that is likely to be full-time. I’m not shutting this down or disappearing, I’m simply re-focusing and re-branding. If you are interested in the new blog, please let me know directly, via private message. I will not be advertising or promoting it here whatsoever.
All I will say about it is that it’s something that makes me a lot happier. It is a place where I feel comfortable to be myself without being judged, and without petty bullshit. It is what I originally envisioned for myself, but probably did not have the foresight, design abilities, or patience to think through at the time.
I’m not dead, I’m certainly not blind, and I’m not unaware of a lot of the bullshit that has been going on. Silence is profound, because it means that bullshit and those that spread it is all the proof you need of who those people are, and never proof of who I am.
I will continue to post that which I feel is relevant here, that which people have been enjoying for quite some time. I thank everyone for reading, and I look forward to continuing with those of you that come with me on my new journey.
Friendship -vs- “Friendship”: Sincerity or Malice?
If there’s anything I truly hate in this world, it’s people not knowing how to be decent friends. It takes two, truly. Both people have to be committed to the same cause, which is the core of the friendship and what it is built upon. Unfortunately, you will often find that the other person generally doesn’t know your intentions and you may not figure out theirs until it’s too late.
Throughout the course of my life I have had both friends and “friends”, and it’s fair to say that we all have. The latter are the bottom feeders in this world who only come to you with falseness in their hearts. They pretend to be genuine, but they’re either intimidated by you, scared of your strength, jealous of you, or never have good intentions towards anyone. Sometimes it’s a mass combination of all of the above, and so much more. They are the types of people that are 1000 shades of fucked up and, no matter how sweet, kind, entertaining, genuine, or funny they appear to be, they are hiding behind a facade and not only lying to you, but lying to themselves. They will seem selfless, but they’re selfish, self-possessed, and have cruelty and hatred residing within their souls, and they choose to take it out on people that do not deserve it, as opposed to directing it at those that do.
I can only use myself as an example here. I give a LOT to the relationships in my life. I don’t know any other way to be. Need advice? I’m your girl. Need help hiding a body? What body? No one will ever find it. I have helped friends whenever they have needed help, regardless of what that help entailed. I feel that is the right thing to do. I do not like seeing my friends struggle and suffer if I am in a position to do something about it. I will talk to you for hours about anything and nothing, and I will truly listen to you. I’m not on the other end of the phone rolling my eyes or making faces, I am fully engaged. I am loyal and I am devoted. In short, I know my worth and value in all things, but especially as a friend. It is one of the things in life I am most certain of.
A lot of missteps in friendship are based on poor communication. If you choose not to say something to someone when, and if, it bothers you, that is YOUR fault, not THEIRS. Take ownership of your short-comings. I have my own faults here too. Sometimes it will take me a few days, weeks, or months to call somebody out on something I feel was inappropriate, wrong, and/or offensive. I don’t allow disrespect. However, even if it takes me some time, I will still do it. I do not avoid confrontation, and I always feel better once I’ve clarified with someone what is, or isn’t, going on and how to come back to a good place. It doesn’t happen with every single friendship, sometimes a friendship has run its course, reached an end and that, too, is ok, but the effort still needs to be made.
If ever you want to end a friendship, as in all relationships, it is crucial to tell the other person. For one, it shows good manners and two, it brings closure to the relationship. It doesn’t matter if you were friends for three months, six months, a year, or if you’ve been friends for 30 years, have some fucking decency in your dealings with others, lest you gain a reputation for the way you handle your personal relationships. Especially with other women. I can assure you that women talk. If you’ve been a bitch to a woman and later become friends with someone she knows really well, she won’t hesitate to tell that friend exactly what your deal is. I’ve had more than one or two of my close friends warn me about other women, and they were always right. Thankfully, I wasn’t fully invested into the new people, so it wasn’t a big deal or the end of the world.
I always encourage people to communicate with me. If you don’t like something I’ve said, come to me and Spit.It.Out. Just be honest. You’re not sure what I meant by something? FUCKING ASK. Things like that frustrate me. I don’t like wasting my time with anyone, nor do I like it when people attach my name to bullshit stories that are fictional beyond words, and delusional by half.
If you have an issue with me, say it to my face. Be direct. Don’t run and hide like a toddler, and don’t tell lies. I may not be perfect, I’m certainly not winning any awards for warmth, fuzziness, or coddling, but at least I know what respect, loyalty, and real friendship is all about. Once I lose respect for you, you do not exist. If you close the door, I will put Wolverine’s adamantium claws on my end of the door so that if you ever try re-opening it, you get to hang on your own sword, and your own mistakes. That’s how it works. If you want to be someone’s friend, have honor and dignity. Unless you’re incredibly self-absorbed and shallow. I assure you, NO ONE wants a false friend.
Choosing to be a part of someone’s life as their friend is something so many take for granted. Extending the hand of friendship, to me, is a big deal. If you bite that hand, be prepared for what comes next. People often underestimate my nice factor, which I can tell you from experience, is limited. Treat people the way you want to be treated. If you want love and acceptance, be loving and accepting. If you want or need a certain thing in a friendship, as in any relationship, it is perfectly ok to ask for it. If you’re going through a rough time and you feel like you need a little extra emotional support, say so. Don’t expect everyone to be a mind reader, because the simple fact of the matter is, there’s no such thing as mind readers.
If friends or family treat you like shit and you always allow them to return to your life, you are allowing the behavior and accepting it. In fact, you’re encouraging the cycle to continue. Over time, you lose sight of what it’s like to be treated the right way. In the grand scheme, your acceptance of such negativity allows the chains to wrap around you. This extends to all relationships in ones’ life. Allowing bad behavior, accepting it, and never saying anything in response is encouraging it. If I, as your friend, have encouraged you to put your foot down and you ignore me, I lack sympathy when it continues to happen to you. Not because I’m a cruel person, but because you have been repeatedly given sound advice. I do not mince words and I do not suffer fools gladly. I mean what I say, unless I’m pissed, in which case I will probably say nothing until I cool off. If I am wrong and I know I am wrong, I will always apologize.
This was not written for any particular reason, so do not presume it is directed at you, the reader, in any way, shape, or form, except maybe in an advisory capacity. I’ve had this on my mind for a while and felt it cathartic to put it into action.
We have three different types of friends throughout the course of our lives, and in some instances, for many, many lives, until we learn our lessons and get it right. The different types of friends are “those for a reason, a season, or a lifetime”. If you’re going to be the type of friend to me that I am to you, then you’re ride or die, and you are in my life for a reason and a lifetime. I will always be loyal and devoted to you. However, if you’re only sticking around long enough to use me, please, fuck off now, and take your insane monkeys with you.
If one person is a flake, don’t take it personally. If one person is over-sensitive and cannot handle the truth, then that person needs to work on themselves and letting them fly is the best thing to do when they refuse to listen. Not every friendship is forever, but maybe that’s because the ones that are, are so much more valuable, and are built on a solid foundation, as opposed to being built on one person’s immediate interests.
In closing, I am incredibly GRATEFUL for the lovely, talented, graceful, elegant, mature, beautiful on the inside and outside, kind, generous, hilarious, devoted, loyal friends in my life. I can count them on two hands, but quality is far superior to quantity. Some have been a part of my life for a short period of time, but are no less special to me. Many have been with me for 18-25 years and, despite our imperfections and character flaws, despite agreeing to disagree, we love each other, we care about each other so very much, and we’d do anything for each other. A friend recently told me that I have been there for her through EVERYTHING, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and she thanks God for me. Another told me how people are always using her, but that I am the bright spot in her life. In friendship, things should be positive. If they aren’t, detox yourself from the poison. You’ll find a lot of clarity there.
copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
“Why Do You Write?”
Recently a friend asked me an interesting question. It was related to what I do as a writer; What I write about and who I write for. It was asked in a place where an elongated answer was too complicated to process, so I decided to “answer” via this post. It’ll probably be helpful for anyone that has never really heard me talk about my work before.
~As a quiet, ultra-observant child, communication was often an issue for me. I was shy and introverted (shocking when you read my work, I know.), and after a few initial “first words”, I spoke in full sentences once I began speaking. I remember looking at my Aunt like she was insane when I was about two years old and saying “That is obnoxious. Please stop doing that.” She was astounded at how direct I was, but because my childhood was a difficult one, my Aunt tried very hard to bring a sense of fun and silliness to my life. It didn’t really stick. I was definitely born ancient.
I am still relatively quiet, but now I know full well that I am an introverted extrovert. In the proper setting, I somehow become the center of attention, the life of the conversation, and I honestly have no idea I’m even doing it. I have no idea what makes me interesting to others or why they listen when I speak, but they do.
Before I started writing, getting my point across often meant I was greatly misunderstood. It somehow gave the impression that I was different than I actually am. A few weeks ago my brother informed me that I’m not a bitch, I’m simply misunderstood. It was an insightful remark, and amusing as hell.
I began writing as an alternative form of communication. I was lucky to be published in most school related publications in regard to poetry and extended avenues. I didn’t always have a choice what was submitted and published, so I decided to do something about that.
In 1994, along with one of my best friends, I decided to produce a by subscription only newsletter. This was prior to the Internet becoming so popular and easily accessed. At this particular juncture in time, newsletters were all the rage. A year into that project, a different opportunity presented itself. I became President & Editor-In-Chief of a fan based organization for a professional athlete. I had his permission and carte blanche, and soon found myself catering to about 1200 people from all over the world. On an extremely regular basis, I’d receive inquiries from people in countries so small, most people had never even heard of them. It was impressive, and I took it in stride. After all, I was just being myself.
I was producing membership newsletters from scratch. Design, layout, photography, and written material. It all had to be put together by me, and I did at least 90% of the writing. I was also handling merchandise, t-shirts and other custom-made paraphernalia. Word of mouth was pretty astounding. I quickly developed a reputation for my no bullshit approach. It’s something I treasure to this day, despite the very sour end to all that hard work.
When I made the decision to leave, to stop completely, it was after the loss of my Grandmother. About two and a half months later a friend died in that sport. No one should EVER fall to their death and have it blown off with a “The show must go on.” attitude. No one, but especially not someone so undeserving of such a tragic end. I backed away slowly, but surely. I was done. I had not only had enough, but I was traumatized, without truly knowing it at the time.
Coming off the heels of that, I threw myself into two other pro-sports related projects involving other athletes, but eventually stopped altogether right about the time my father’s cancer returned for the third time.
I took time to re-focus my interests. I began writing a book around that time, and it remains half completed. I truly doubt it will ever see the light of day, and I am more than ok with that. My heart no longer resides with that body of work, so I’ve made peace with the fact that it won’t be completed.
I’ve never truly stopped writing. I’ve taken breaks for my health, for my sanity. I’ve gone off and done other things temporarily to gain knowledge, but writing has always been a gift for me. It allows me to be heard on so many levels, and gives strength to a voice that, clearly, someone in this world wants to hear.
I tend to live in my own head quite a bit. The genres in which I read are just a peek into what’s bubbling in my writing psyche at the moment.
Four years ago this month, I broke down a system for a dark urban fantasy series. It’s leaning more towards being mythological fiction steeped in history, set in present day. It has had time to simmer and bubble and become something very different from what I originally began writing. It has developed beautifully into something I’m really proud of. I originally set it up as a 17 novel set where each book is an extension of the previous one. I have since pared it down to 8, but at any given moment can twist it and put it in a new direction that extends the story-line out. The first book is nearing completion, and large chunks of the second and third books have been written. I’ve worked in chapters for books four and five as well. I dislike the “write straight through” phenomenon. It’s wonderful if it works for you, but it doesn’t work for me.
You will often read or hear genre writers speak of their characters “coming to them” out of the blue with information, advice, etc. I have not a single weak character, so for me, it’s about slipping into their skin and writing their thoughts, explaining their appearances and mannerisms, and dipping ink into each personality. I LOVE my characters like a dog loves a bone. Anytime someone annoys me, they get cut from the story completely. Pretty much all of my characters are based on someone in my life, however loosely interpreted they may be, but several are immense amalgamations of too many different people to count. Perhaps that is why I love them the way I do. They don’t really talk back, they don’t give me attitude, they don’t judge me, and they’re not rude. Hmm, now that I think about it I realize I like them over pretty much everyone I know!
Writers are artists and I know that I am precise, efficient, and conveying exactly what I want to convey when I write, be it fiction or non-fiction. Some people are simply gifted writers, and I’m egotistical enough to know I’m not some poor man’s imitation of anything or anyone. I know my strengths and I will always, alwaysuse them to the very best of my advantage. In a world where writers are a dime a dozen, you have to be unique to stand out. You have to bring something different to the table and God, the competition is fierce. At the beginning and end of each day, the only person I compete with is myself. If I break a previous record on word count or I complete a chapter so that it fits in seamlessly, that is really all that matters. You write for your audience, yes, but your first audience is yourself, and maybe a few trusted friends, and before a finished body of work is submitted to a publisher, you aim to please audience #1.
Editing? I self-edit because I always have, and yes, I know what I’m doing, however I am not opposed to cutting material under advisement that I trust. There are days I delete nearly everything I have written and start from scratch, and I am almost always better for it, even if it’s painful to cut material. When you’re skilled, you know what works and what does not. When you’re intelligent and skilled, you know sentence structure, how to place dialogue, and you do not use run-on sentences. It’s important to know what you are best at. Not everyone is a writer, this is a given. I am not self-important and I do not need to pat myself on the back or call myself anything I’m not. I know who I am and I know the direction I am taking.
I’m not sure if this answers the why and what, but maybe it provides some insight into what I do when I’m not on here. In short, I create.
“Why Do You Write?” is copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Coming Out of The Ancestral “Closet”
I find it more than a little appalling that in 2014, I am still being asked “What are you?” Not “What religion are you?” or your average, inappropriate social questions, which, by my standards, are still rude. No, it’s always been “What ARE you?”, with such profound emphasis, as if I am my own species. It’s become ridiculous, and as we’ve established, I am not a patient woman.
Growing up in New York City; a small, fair skinned, dark blue eyed, dark haired child, I was utterly adorable. I have pictures to prove it. My peaches & cream complected blonde, hazel eyed mother was very clear in my genes, but so was my olive skinned, raven haired, dark brown eyed father. I was clearly a genetic mix of my parents and maternal Grandparents. For years, my eyes had that perfect Asian up-tilt, a gift of my Tribal Siberian and Mongolian ancestry, something that I now enhance with eyeliner. I was about six years old when they changed in color from dark blue to hazel. It normally doesn’t take such a long period of time for a child’s eye color to change.
Where am I going with this? Well, I will tell you. I’ve known for about 8 years now that I am indeed part Latina. I have absolutely no reason to hide it or not discuss it if it comes up in conversation, especially now that Spain and Portugal are allowing Jews to return for citizenship. I have to say I was very sorely tempted to pack my bags and leave.
Growing up, everyone assumed I was either 100% Puerto Rican or 100% Italian. I am neither. In fact, I’m not 100% anything. I am so blended, I should have my own flag. My Latina roots come from Spain (Zaragoza) and Argentina (Buenos Aires).
Several months ago, while filling out some forms I checked the Caucasian box, as I’ve done my entire life, and followed up with Hispanic on the second portion of the form. It is truly the first time I’d done it, but I simply felt like not putting it down was to lie, and it bothered me, so I checked the box proudly. The woman handling the paperwork looked at me immediately and said “You’re Sephardic?!”, with such utter disbelief as she looked at the color of my skin and eyes, that I glanced up briefly from filling out the forms and said “I am Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Russian Siberian, and Jewish Asian.” In truth, that’s not even the half of it, but it was short and to the point. I didn’t owe her an explanation of my lineage, but I’d be damned if I was going to be treated any differently.
Really, why the hell does anyone give a shit?! Why did she? I later found out that as an immigrant to this country, she did not want anyone knowing she was Sephardic. I was slightly astounded, but anyone who is at an age where their Grandparents or parents may have died during the Holocaust is probably still hiding what they are. Having been born here, I suppose I do not feel the need to hide. I’ve never felt the need to do so, not ancestrally or religiously.
People tend to forget that Latinas come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are blonde and blue eyed, some are more like me, and others are dark haired, dark eyed, and always look naturally tan. I cannot tan to save my life, and since I detest sun damage and the sun on a whole, I religiously wear sun protection. Some of us speak Ladino, Yiddish, Spanish, Portuguese, or older versions of various languages. Some of my cousins, also Sephardic, speak French (My brother does, I do not.). I grew up in a bilingual home, my closest family friends did too, and they all spoke Spanish. I spent years studying other languages, and am now teaching my brother Italian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Spanish. I understand languages I don’t speak, but I base that on the fact that some of them are incredibly similar. I have been trying to learn Swedish for a couple of years now. Not for any other reason than I think it’s beautiful when spoken.
I’m a great observer of others, but I try very hard not to judge people based on race or religion. Everyone is an individual. If you treat me like shit, I am not going to judge your ethnic background for that, just you. If you treat me well, I’m not going to automatically assume that everyone like you will show the same kindness and respect.
I have friends from all walks of life, and I accept and respect them for their individuality. I don’t care where a person is from, so long as we treat each other with respect and courtesy. Most of the people in my life who are closest to me are not American born or American citizens (though I can now say for a fact that more are). Two of my best friends are Israeli and German. My boyfriend holds dual citizenship. He is Welsh born, returns to Wales several times a year to visit older relatives, but is not an American citizen. His parents and siblings are not American citizens either, but they’re some of the loveliest people, and to me, that’s all that matters.
I have a friend who, for damn near our entire friendship, would openly declare herself Hispanic “From SPAIN!”, she’d tell people loudly. She’s also part Cherokee, which shows. Honestly, it doesn’t matter, but now that our friendship has declined so badly, I have noticed more and more that she is embracing the fact that her ancestry is actually Mexican. It’s always been pretty evident to me, but would I ever have said a word to her about it? No. That’s disrespectful. That’s like catching me on a dumb day and then pointing out that I have some Polish ancestry. It’s rude and it’s not something you say or do.
I think what bothered me the most about her saying it so often is that people would ask her if she was Hawaiian, saying that she looked “exotic”, and I’d then think of Stefanie (FAWKESTEARS on this blog), who is Native Hawaiian. There’s a definite difference, not just in looks, but in so much more. She is not simply born and raised there, you can see her Hawaiian and Japanese ancestry in her hair, eyes, skin, and beauty. It shines like a beacon. Her Italian mother, we often joke, barely got a gene in. Between her and her siblings, she is the one who most looks like her father’s side of the family. For the previously aforementioned friend, ancestry and honoring it is clearly a big issue, so I never, ever tried to make her feel uncomfortable, nor did I ever press her on it. I feel it is something to honor and show respect, not hide from or deny, but that’s me and my otherworldly view since I’m still being asked “What ARE you?”
The next time someone says that to me, I might very well declare myself a vampire, purchase a really cool pair of colored contacts from Italy, and not say a word to anyone ever again, until the sun sets. Stupid questions deserve stupid answers, do they not?
So, this is me. Part Latina. Owning it, not ashamed, remembering to use my Spanish instead of forgetting that I can speak it, completely unconcerned if my honoring it bothers someone else. It’s my genes, my ancestry, and if you’ve taken issue with it, fuck off!
“Coming Out Of The Ancestral ‘Closet’” is copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
How Much Does Music Influence Your Writing?
As a writer, I get asked this question quite a bit. As I work on the first four novels in what will be, at the very least, an eight book series, I do have a playlist I refer to when I am researching.
I have eclectic taste in music. It may or may not be the kind of music you like to listen to, but it’s truly all over the place. For book one, I have a 500 song playlist on my Kindle Fire. I listen to it at the grocery store, the nail salon, at home, in the shower, etc. I have the same playlist on my phone. Some songs really speak to the individual characters, and others just set the tone for the world in which I have created. I have a similar playlist on my computer, but apparently due to some cross over repetition, there are less songs in that particular playlist. That, or I never bothered to update it when I switched over to the new laptop. Since I tend to access it via my cloud, that’s probably why.
Do specific artists influence my characters? No, but a few songs are like theme music for them. I have that moment where I think “Ok, so and so is on the page.”, as if Elvis just walked into the building. But again, there’s such an eclectic mix that I’m listening to Halestorm one minute and something classical the next. I always have my music on shuffle, always. I cannot listen to it any other way, and much like bad TV, I will often skip over songs obsessively until I find precisely the one I want to listen to. At certain moments, a song is often on repeat.
Unlike many genre writers, I do NOT have music playing when I am writing. It’s irritating and distracts me from the task at hand. When words are playing out in my head, the music has to be paused, muted, or shut off completely. But prior to that, I often have something on for long, or short, periods of time. It just depends on the mood I am going for and whether or not something external is influencing my brain in the moment. It also depends on whether or not I am writing in the midst of a migraine, in which case, I want it as silent as possible and might actually be writing silently in a notebook with a pen.
I do not have individual playlists for each of my characters. I have songs that intensely remind me of them, but that’s pretty much where it ends. Because I have eclectic taste, I do not feel the need to weave a ton of music into my work. In book one, I think exactly two bands are mentioned in total. No music is mentioned in the beginnings of the other novels, but that doesn’t mean that won’t change.
The protagonist is, much like me, a music lover, but she tends to use music in the same ways that I do in her daily life. That wasn’t intentional, it just sort of flowed that way. Some of the other characters, if this wasn’t for book purposes, would have some pretty epic songs involved with their appearances if this were being written for television or movie purposes. Because the characters themselves have both visual, mental, emotional, and musical impact. I can’t describe it any better than that. The protagonist, perhaps, is a bit more meditational, a lot more internally verbal, yet still strong and influential.
My current musical influences as I write, at the moment, for different reasons, are The Band Perry, Kacey Musgraves, Carrie Underwood, Ed Sheeran, Miranda Lambert, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and Snow Patrol. A very odd grouping indeed. Trust me, this can, and will, change on a dime.
Are there specific artists influencing your writing? If so, let me know who in the comments.
“How Much Does Music Influence Your Writing?” is copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
People have no idea exactly how serious I am about this!
Photo credit to M.J. Rose. If you haven’t read her books, I highly recommend them.