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my morning with a shaman

2 Feb

shaman

I was in the mood for something recently. By something I was thinking maybe a physic reading. I was not thinking…a session with a shaman. I’m not even sure what I was seeking at the time but I was feeling open to some guidance. The past year has been filled with so many transitions- it feels like my soul has been on a wild ride and with motherhood around the corner I don’t see the ride coming to an end anytime soon. I’ve been feeling so much energy surging through my body- negative energy that I’ve been trying to shed and positive energy that I’ve been trying to embrace. It was making me feel scattered.

I was in the process of compiling a list of physic referrals (yes, this is possible when you live in Los Angeles) when one friend instead recommended a shaman. A shaman? Now that’s one I have never been to before, I thought. My interest was immediately peaked. I asked her what she got from her session and she could only describe it as…a clearer vision. She said it was hard to put the experience into words. Even with little to go on something about it seemed…right. So I took the shaman’s contact information. It actually took me a few months to reach out to her. I think I was a bit intimidated by the word “shaman”. What little I did know about them, I’ve learned from the movies. Did you ever see the Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts movie, “While We’re Young”? There’s a hysterical scene in which they attend a ayahuasca ceremony in a shaman’s home. Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic brew from the Amazon that people drink in the hopes it will bring them personal insights through optic and auditory hallucinations. While that does sound like it could be quite an interesting experience, that is most definitely not what I am currently seeking. Can you understand my hesitation now?

In search of more information I googled…”what is a shaman”?…good ol’ wikipedia had this for me…

A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing.

Shamanism encompasses the premise that shamans are intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds. Shamans are said to treat ailments/illness by mending the soul. Alleviating traumas affecting the soul/spirit restores the physical body of the individual to balance and wholeness. The shaman also enters supernatural realms or dimensions to obtain solutions to problems afflicting the community. Shamans may visit other worlds/dimensions to bring guidance to misguided souls and to ameliorate illnesses of the human soul caused by foreign elements. The shaman operates primarily within the spiritual world, which in turn affects the human world. The restoration of balance results in the elimination of the ailment.

Feeling safer with this new information I decided to reach out to the shaman. I was surprised to find myself  on the phone with a woman named Samantha. Don’t lie…you were expecting some elaborate “shaman name” like Angakok or Sheripiari too, right? We had a great conversation and I loved her energy over the phone so I decided to move forward with booking a session. Before hanging up she said to keep a lookout for an email that would have notes on how to prepare for our session. A few hours later I received these…

1) What help or healing do you want in your life at this time? Tell me briefly what is most important when we meet. When we meet be prepared to share a brief spoken life review of main facts and key events – no more than 15-20 minutes.
2) Please no alcohol or recreational drugs for at least 24 hrs. before/after our session, preferably more. Prescription meds or supplements are fine, but please advise if you take meds such as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety or anti-psychotics. For balanced blood sugar, please eat before session.
3) Several nights before meeting, ask for help or healing information in your dreams re: our work together. If anything comes, make note of it and tell me. Sometimes other recent dreams may be helpful.
4) Bring a small gift to thank the spirits.

The perfectionist in me immediately focused on “bring a small gift to thank the spirits” and felt anxiety. What the hell do I bring a spirit as a gift? I have a hard enough time finding a gift for Brian for Christmas. If the spirits don’t like my gift will they send me bad mojo? What stores do spirits like to shop? Do I wrap this small gift? After days of intense thought about what to get the spirits I settled on a tiny gold elephant with its trunk in the air (a sign of prosperity). I still don’t know if it was well received by the spirits and yes I still wonder.

The morning of my session I made sure to follow directions and eat breakfast (although, at six months pregnant I’ll admit I don’t skip many meals) and packed my bag with my life review notes and my gift for the spirits. Our session was held in a yurt nestled in the Topanga Canyon mountains. For those of you who have never been to Topanga Canyon, it really is a world unto itself. You don’t even feel like you are in Los Angeles and I think the people who live there like it that way. I asked Samantha how often she makes it down the mountain and she answered, “As little as possible”. The yurt was adorned with ethnic rugs, bright artwork & a table full of crystals and feathers. It felt so magical in there- I wanted to spend an afternoon reading or writing in it. I went into the session with an open mind. I decided to be fearlessly honest about my “stuff”. Luckily, she is a very easy person to open up to. You feel zero judgment from her. Truth is she really didn’t want to get into the details. She reminded me that she’s not a therapist. The broad strokes were all she needed. After probably 1/2 an hour or so of talking she asked me to lie down on the couch. She covered me in a warm blanket, put a pillow under my head and covered my eyes with a cloth. She then led me through a meditation which was followed by chanting, rain makers, bird noises, her soft touch on my head and the feeling of her breath on my throat. This went on for at least an hour. I felt like I was shedding layers in the process- that’s the only way I can describe it. I felt lighter and lighter as our time together passed. There was an understanding that everything was and is in its perfect order. Gratitude washed over me. A calmness. A sense of peace and acceptance. A few tears ran down my face. When she chanted the baby would move so I put my hand on my belly. I think he was a fan. When it was all said and done she swept me down with an eagle feather. Almost as if she was dusting away the “bad” stuff. I didn’t ask a single question about what any of it meant or was supposed to mean. It didn’t matter. I felt light.

After the session she shared with me that my spirit animal- a wolf- showed up. A wolf! Don’t think I don’t have  tons of photographs of wolves around my house now- kidding. But I do have a new love affair with all things wolf.

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“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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happy list…

15 Jan

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image via 

things that have been making me happy recently…

– feeling baby boy move. After the bad news about the location of the placenta I wasn’t expecting to feel him move for quite some time and then BAM I felt him! Now I feel him move all the time (he has certain times of day he is most active). It truly is one of the most magical things I have ever experienced

– my alloted one cup of coffee. Now that I can only have the one each day I look forward to it immensely each morning. Who knew I could be so grateful for a cup of coffee

– my super snuggly pup. He’s been such a lover recently. Maybe he knows his time as an only child is limited?

– Brian got another promotion at work. That makes two in one year! I’m just so damn proud of him. He works so hard and to see him get the recognition he deserves brings me joy

– the green dream smoothie (almond milk, green apple, frozen banana, kale a parsley) from Kreation. I want one every day right now

– a prenatal yoga class held at a doulas house that totally blissed me out

– long walks on grey days

– watching episodes of “Girlfriends Guide To Divorce”. They are mindless fun and give me a laugh

– my growing baby bump. I have such an appreciation for my body these days

– a bright light filled space that makes being home more right now manageable

– a trip we are taking next weekend to Carmel by the sea for a friend’s wedding. I’m looking forward to celebrating the nuptials and being up north. It’s so pretty up there

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What’s been making you guys happy recently??

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
Dalai Lama

 

Dalai Lama

 

and baby makes four…

30 Nov

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I’m guessing from the title of this post you know what’s coming…A BABY!!!!!!! Can you tell I’m happy about this news? Actually, happy isn’t a grand enough word to describe how I feel. I’m literally bursting at the seams with joy. I can’t seem to wipe the huge smile off my face. It’s been 75 days since I first held the positive pregnancy test in my hands and I still feel like I am floating on a cloud. The whole thing feels unreal despite the bulge at my midsection.

Brian and I started “trying” for a baby in June. I had heard it could take up to a year to get pregnant but I decided I was going to get pregnant the first month. Such an overachiever, huh? So imagine my surprise when I didn’t get pregnant that first month. I immediately started worrying. From then on, getting pregnant became all I could think about. I researched everything on the subject…what to eat, what not to eat, fertility boosters, stress relievers, positions, blah blah blah. In an attempt to get my body in tip-top shape I cut out alcohol, limited my caffeine intake, got off any anxiety medicine and started eating even healthier than I already did, all in hopes it would boost my chances of getting pregnant. After three months of trying…still no baby.

I was feeling rather defeated by the whole process. I am a person who believes that actions should yield results and my actions weren’t yielding the desired results.

I am aware that three months isn’t a very long time but it felt like an eternity to me. When you’re ready…you’re ready, you know? The process was a good lesson for me- I don’t control the universe. As much as I’d like to…I don’t and sadly, I never will. For a person who craves control, this is always a hard pill for me swallow.

I realized I had to refocus my energy. Instead of tightly griping on to my ideas of how it should go, I had to trust the process. I had to trust that our baby would come when it was meant to be. I had to trust the divine timing of it all. There’s magic in the things we can’t control. I truly believe the universe has an order to it and once I reminded myself of that I was able to surrender.

It was around this time I got pregnant.

September 16th…

My period wasn’t due for four days but I had been feeling “off” for close to a week with cramping and lower back aches.  I just felt weird. Of course this made me excited that I could possibly be pregnant but I also tried to remain cautious about getting too excited…I didn’t want to be disappointed.  After Brian left for work that morning I was lying in bed sipping my coffee when I remembered that I had an unopened package of First Responses under the sink in the bathroom (a pregnancy test that you can take six days before your missed period). So I thought…why not? If it’s negative I will try another test in a few days again. Nothing lost, right?

So I took the test…set the alarm for three minutes….sat on the bathroom floor in my pjs and continued to sip my coffee while I waited.

Three minutes later the alarm went off and I peered at the test.

And there it was….

yes!

That moment was an out-of-body experience. A billion thoughts rushed through my head in a millisecond. OMG!  It says YES! I’m going to be a mother…we’re going to have a baby!!!…I can’t wait to tell Brian!!…OMG…Holy shit…I’m going to be somebody’s mom…HOLY SHIT…HOLY SHIT…HOLY SHIT…there’s a tiny human in my belly! What a fucking miracle! Shit…am I allowed to drink coffee now that I’m pregnant??? The last thought left me running to the sink to spit out my mouthful of coffee. I continued to stand there and stare at the positive test in my hand- unable to grasp the fact that this was really happening. Becoming a parent is such an abstract thought…until it isn’t. A wave of emotion came over me and I started to cry. I felt so grateful. So elated. So nervous. So shocked. So insanely happy.

 It makes Frank very uncomfortable when I cry and he anxiously peered up at me with his big brown eyes. I kept reassuring him it was ok, that I was just happy. Then I informed him he was going to be a big brother. ha.

Still unable to catch my breath and with tears streaming down my face I picked up the phone to call Brian. Then I thought better of it and hung up. I didn’t want him to find out he was going to be a father in a hurried phone call between meetings at work, so I dialed my mother instead. She sleepily picked up the phone (it was 7 am after all) and I began to sob even harder.

To which she fearfully replied, “Kate??? What’s wrong???! Are you ok??!”

“I’m preeeee- ga- nant!!” I said between tears.

“What???”she said

“I’m PREGNANT!” I said

“You are!!? Why are you crying then???”

“I don’t know” sniffle “I guess I’m just overwhelmed.”

So, that’s how my mom found out.

After hanging up with her I began to ponder my next step. I felt emotionally paralyzed. I guess I was supposed to go to the doctor for blood work to confirm it? Yeah, that seemed right. So I got dressed and drove to my doctor’s office. A few hours later I got the call…I was most definitely pregnant!  The next thing on my agenda…how to tell Brian the news. I went back and forth on various ideas. Even googling “how to tell your partner you’re pregnant”- let me tell you…there are some really creative people out there. So many brilliant ideas. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put on a big show or just tell him the news. I tried to think of ways to bring Frank into the announcement as well. Maybe I could find a shirt that read “I’m going to be a big brother” and squeeze Frank into it before Brian got home? Sadly, I was crunched for time so instead of driving around town in search of a big brother shirt for Frank, I headed to the bookstore in search of a book about becoming a father for Brian. I settled on a book that’s cover read…“DUDE, YOU’RE GOING TO BE A DAD!” with a bunch of sperm swimming around. I thought the swimming sperm was a nice touch.

I taped the positive test stick to the cover of the book (not quite sure why I thought the book title wouldn’t be clear enough?) and put it at the bottom of a newly folded pile of clothes out of the dryer. When Brian got home from work I asked him to go thru the pile to make sure everything was his before putting it away. He went thru each shirt…yes…yes…yes…yes…no…yes…then he got to the book..looked right at it and moved on- clearly, it didn’t register at first. Then he stopped in his tracks…went back to the book…peered at me with wide eyes and said…REALLY??!

I said…YES!!!

He stood there quietly. I wasn’t quite sure what was coming next. Tears, maybe?? Brian doesn’t do well with surprises. After a few moments…he made a move…hugged me tightly and said…”I’m so happy for you!”

HAAAAA.

“I’m so happy for you” Best. Response. Ever. Like I was some stranger on the street who just told him she was pregnant.

I said, “You’re so happy for ME? You are aware that I didn’t get pregnant on my own right?”

He will never live that response down- NEVER. I won’t let him. I was expecting tears. people! Poor boy was in total shock. After an hour (and a few beers) the shock had worn off and he was excitedly touching my belly. He just needed a minute to let it all sink in.

So there you have it…we’re having a BABY!!!

And we found out last week it’s a baby boy!!!

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two

9 Nov

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Two years ago today I married my best friend. Such a cliché thing to say but it’s the truth. He is my favorite person. He is the bacon to my eggs. When we said “I do” I wasn’t sure what marriage entailed but I was sure that I was willing to step into the unknown with him. I knew with every fiber of my being that he was the one that I wanted to spend my life with. He was the one I wanted to share my whole heart with. He was the one I wanted to go on adventures with. He was the one I wanted to build a home and family with. He was the one I wanted to experience it all with.

He was the one.

So much has happened over the last two years- personal struggles, career heart breaks and victories, loss, joy, laughter, surprises, triumphs, sadness, growth…the list goes on. Marriage is indeed hard work, just like anything worthwhile in life. I’ve learned the rewards are huge though. Over the last two years we have seen each other’s flaws and imperfections and know each other better for it- actually I’d even go as far to say love each other more for them. Our marriage is not perfect; but it is my favorite thing. It’s the thing that brings me the most joy in my life. It’s the thing I am most proud of. It’s the thing I am most sure of.

The list of reasons that I love this man is long. I seem to add to it every day. He is a good human- like an exceptionally good human. He does the right thing even if nobody is watching. He’s fiercely loyal to those he cares about. He’s passionate about all things he touches- luckily that includes me. He never puts anything less than 100 percent in at all times. He means what he says. You can trust the words that come out of his mouth. He’s surprisingly funny…it’s a dry and sarcastic humor that comes when you least expect it. There is nobody that makes me laugh harder than he does. He’s a wealth of knowledge. I am shocked at the information that comes out of his mouth. Seriously, bring up any topic and he will have something to add to the conversation. He knows how to make a mean cup of coffee and brings me one every morning in bed. He is tender and loving- a hug from him can cure-all. He craves adventure, travel and new frontiers as much as I do. I feel most alive when we are on adventures together. He is attentive and intuitive. The depth of his soul surprises me daily. He has the most handsome face I have ever laid eyes on. I love every feature on it and often find myself thinking…I hope our future child gets his this or that. He loves me with his whole heart and doesn’t just tell me but makes me feel it every day. He lets me be me- he has never once tried to change me and that is the best feeling in the world. He has my back and there is nobody I trust more than him.

Dearest, Bri. I love you endlessly.

Happy 2nd wedding anniversary goose. I have a sneaking suspicion this next year is going to be a really good one.

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“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
– Mignon McLaughlin

meditation update

13 Oct

 

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In an attempt to meditate more frequently I signed up for a month-long membership at Unplug Meditation. It’s a guided meditation studio in Los Angeles that offers 30 and 45 minute group meditation sessions. They range from mantras to crystal healing classes. While I would like to get to a point where I am meditating by myself at home, I thought a group atmosphere and guided practice might jumpstart my practice again. I was right. This place is a little oasis and it makes meditation easy. It’s a calm atmosphere with soft light and candles. They offer cushions that fold into little chairs on the ground- you can keep them flat if you want to lie down or fold it to give you support when you sit. These cushions are pure gold- I’ve found that if I am not physically comfortable during my practice then my mind never stills. Instead I’m focused on the fact that my foot is falling asleep and my back is aching.

I’ve taken a range of classes at Unplug led by a different people and found that each teacher brings a whole new energy to the practice. One guided meditation that I absolutely loved (it may sound a little strange) the teacher led us back to the days of our ancestors- we weren’t told how far to go back so I decided to visualize 100 years or so back. I found myself standing by myself on a hilltop in Ireland…different shades of green as far as the eye could see…I could literally feel the wind in my face and hear the waves crashing on the rocks below. It was so incredibly powerful. I felt tethered to all that came before me. It was interesting letting my mind explore the new world- I wandered villages, watched people work, children play & animals wander.

When I left class that morning my perspective had shifted from what I could only see and touch in front of me to a vast and endless world beyond…past, present & future. It’s truly amazing where your mind can take you.

My visualization looked much like these photos…

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Slea Head - County Kerry Ireland

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My membership ends at the studio soon (after the month-long new student deal it’s pretty pricy to continue- major bummer!) so I will have to develop a space in my home that inspires me to calmly want to sit for long periods of time. Preferably one that Frank can’t bring his tennis ball into.

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For any of you interested in meditation here are some tips that have worked for me.

meditating in the morning before the day begins. I find my head space is clearer at this time

setting a timer for a desired amount of time so my focus can be on my practice and not the clock

stretching my body before so I feel less restless and more open

putting on light music or an online guided meditation (these free guided meditations are great)

focusing on my breath to anchor in the present moment

lastly, when unwanted thoughts appear I gently let them go by returning my focus to my breath. Don’t try to stop your thoughts; this will just make you feel agitated. Imagine that they are unwelcome visitors at your door: acknowledge their presence and politely ask them to leave.

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“Meditation is to dive all the way within, beyond thought, to the source of thought and pure consciousness. It enlarges the container, every time you transcend. When you come out, you come out refreshed, filled with energy and enthusiasm for life.”
David Lynch

 

fall / winter 2015

9 Sep

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(image found via pinterest)

With 2015 nearing to a close…I know, I know, we still have four full months, but once September hits I can’t help but reflect on how I want the year to wrap up. September – December always seems to fly by and I find myself surprised every year on January 1st- it almost seems impossible that we are there again. The next four months also happen to be my absolute favorite time of year- I find myself most creatively alive during this time. I also love everything to do with the holidays and what they represent- family dinners, our wedding anniversary, carving pumpkins, dressing Frankie up for Halloween, cooking, warmth, bundling up, decorating trees, cuddling & new beginnings.

The last eight months have been an introspective time for me. Rather than exploring the world around me, as I usually do, I have been instead making the journey within. I knew at the start of 2015 that something was off.  I had baggage that I still hadn’t worked through and I was dragging it around with me. I couldn’t hide from it anymore. It was time to do the hard work, even if that meant that other things had to be put on the back burner. Something very hard for a person who desires immediate results like me to come to terms with. Instead I had to trust the process. It reminded me of that quote by Zora Neale Hurston –  “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Thus far this year has most definitely been asking me some questions. Ones that needed answering and ones that positively shifted something in me once I did. I feel empowered and for that I am incredibly grateful.

Life man, such a wild ride sometimes, right?

When reflecting about how I want the next few months to unfold, it was clear to me that I want them to feed my soul, creative mind, relationships, home & belly. I want to soak in every bit of goodness that 2015 has left to offer me. I have a feeling the next four months will bring an entirely different energy than the first eight did and I am ready for that new energy.

Some of the ways I would like to spend the next few months…

Deepening my meditation practice. I know I have only been scratching at the surface and I am feeling a pull towards more. In addition to developing a stronger home practice I want to explore Unplug Meditation, Against The Stream & Shambhala Center.

Reading! There are fifteen (I might be setting myself up for failure on this one) books I would love to read before the end of the year. I’ll share them in a later post.

Cooking- I plan on spending some quality time in the kitchen! Again, there is something about fall and winter that inspire me to want to cook. I love hearty recipes and the feeling of warmth that comes from the kitchen this time of year.

I would love to put a small dinner party together in our home each month to bring our family and friends together. I want to make a point to enjoy the ones that matter most in my life. I also love to entertain.

I want to finish a few work projects that have been on the back burner for many many many months. As I mentioned previously, I put some things on the back burner to focus on me and it’s time to dust them off. They involve getting two book proposals finished and ready to submit in the new year and revamping my personal website which has been in purgatory for the last six months.

Practicing yoga. I want to make my yoga practice more of a priority over the next few months. My love for it has been renewed recently and I would love to keep the love affair going. My body just feels so much more balanced when I am practicing regularly.

I would love to finally find a property for the business Brian and I have been building with a few partners this past year. I can’t wait to share about it in the new year! Granted we find a property and the ball gets moving.

My home life- one of the most important aspects of my life. It has been in an incredibly solid and fulfilling place and I want to continue to watch it grow.

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There are years that ask questions and years that answer,

Years that

fall apart

and years that come together…

There are years that cry and years that laugh,

Years that wonder

And years that strike and clap and thunder.

. . .

Your job isn’t to know — not right now, not quite yet.

Your job is simply

to breathe,

to trust,

to rest

To know that it is all a part of the path —

The mystery and the clarity

The hardship and delight

The darkness and the light alike.

. . .

Dear One,

Haven’t you heard?

“This place where you are right now

God circled on a map for you.”

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happy post

4 Sep

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-It’s September! I know it’s not officially fall just yet but once the month of September hits I start my transition into my favorite time of year.

– Bringing out my fall wardrobe…Hello!…boots, sweaters, scarfs and leather jackets!

– A date with my girlfriend Ali, her husband David & little boy Charlie who were visiting from New York. I hadn’t met Charlie yet and he is so damn cute! I’ve said it before and I will say it again…seeing your closest friends become mothers is the sweetest.

– Being invited into two book clubs this month. Clearly, I’ve got some reading to do. The books on the line-up…”Everything I Never Told You” & “The Luckiest Girl Alive”

– Our newly painted bedroom accent wall. It’s love

– Planning a trip in November to visit my step father Irv in Kansas City and my girlfriend Chantal and her family in Atlanta. It will be so funny to travel without Brian- I haven’t done it in years!

– The green monkey smoothie…kale, coconut water, almond milk, dates, cinnamon, bananas & coconut meat. OMG

Maha Yoga

– One of Brian’s projects, Pershing Square Renew, launched on Tuesday. I decided to go to the launch of it which was held downtown at City Hall (I’ve never been there- such a beautiful building). It’s always so fun to see him in action and support his passions. Here’s a write-up about it complete with a quote from Bri!

– Red toes and nude nails

– The way Frank cuddles into my legs in the morning when Brian delivers both him and coffee to bed.

– This note from the Universe I received yesterday…

Start it; you don’t have to be fancy.

Keep moving; you don’t have to go crazy.

Visualize; you don’t have to admit it.

See the end result; it doesn’t have to be material.

Expect miracles; they don’t have to be huge.

Pretend you’ve arrived; you don’t have to dance on tables.

And above all else, Kate, have fun.

This is why you started it, right?

Life, what a trip –
The Universe

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So…what’s been making you guys happy recently??