Into Habit: Bikram Part II

I have officially attended 15 classes in 3 weeks. Phew! I actually joined the challenge they offered, 20 classes in 28 days. 10 of my classes count towards this, so I’m right on track. Can I just say how proud of myself I am right now? I’m SUPER proud of myself!!!

These are the hard things I’ve noticed:

1. My knees hurts.

2. My back hurts.

3. Ok. Everything hurts. They remind us it’s supposed to hurt. I remind myself I’m not alone.

4. It’s freaking hard to make it to 5 classes a week! Do these people have jobs????? I mean, seriously.

5. I have to do way more laundry than I want to. Stinky sweaty clothes and towels everyday!

These are the positives I’ve noticed:

1. I can literally see myself melting away. Ok. So that’s not literal, but I like saying literally. (In an English accent)
Really though, in 15 classes, my clothes fit better and my tummy is slimming. Total win!

2. My skin is sooooooo soft! Is this supposed to happen? Maybe the constant sweaty detox action. I love feeling my oh so soft skin! Another win!

3. I drink tons of water now and skip the soda. Maybe it’s because I know I’m working so hard. I don’t wanna ruin it, or maybe I just realized how much I like water. Come to think of it, maybe all the water has everything to do with my soft skin. Hmmmm Win again!

4. I have made my lunch for work every night before bed. This is a result of trying to save money, cause Bikram money is no joke. Ouch in the pocket book! But also, it’s helping me eat smaller portions, experiment with yummy recipes, and all around add to the happy feelings I have about myself.

4. I drink less alcohol. I like to drink, not like fall down drunk, more like a drink after work drink. I like to hang out at my neighborhood hole in the wall and watch the Spurs with friendly faces. I walked in the other night on my yoga night off and I heard “Where have you been” from several peeps. Maybe I was there a bit too much.

5. I am more pleasant to be around. I’m not as grumpy. I feel light and centered. Balanced. I even did my taxes early! Coincidence? I think not people!

6. I’m making yoga friends. These people are REALLY nice. It’s sort of weird how nice they are. It’s sort of weird how nice I am. Weird, weird, weird. I mean, my friends think I’m awesome and all, but I wouldn’t call myself nice exactly. “I smiled at the son-of-a-bitch ‘for I could help myself!” If you don’t know where that’s from you are missing out. Look it up.

7. I want to go. I don’t like missing. So far, I’ve been to five classes a week. If I didn’t have night meetings, I would go another day.

This is starting to be a habit. I bought a one month unlimited membership, but I will definitely buy another, and maybe the six month membership. This feels too good. I can’t stop now, and I won’t. #winning

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Back to Bikram: Yikes!

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It’s a new year! Yay! Of course this means it’s time to whip myself back into shape. (Let’s all chuckle together)

Ok. Done? Now for some back-story.

If you are unaware of what Bikram Yoga is, it is a type of hatha yoga characterized by a set series of postures and breathing exercises, performed in a room heated to a very high temperature. It’s comprised of 26 postures that usually take about 90 minutes to complete. You do the same postures every time. This allows for you to gauge your progress from session to session. The act of going through this (torture) is called your practice.

If you take a look at my online account, you will see that I have been practicing Bikram since Nov. of 2009. Yup. It looks like I’ve been doing this forever. I should be able to teach it. Nope. If  you take a closer look at my account, you will see that aside from a few months of auto pay at the student rate while I was in grad school, I have usually payed and attended sporadically, maybe a month at a time at the most. First of all, Bikram is expensive, not for for the masses in my opinion, and I AM the masses. $100+ per month means less of lots of other things, but since gas is so cheap now, I feel like I can maybe do it, maybe with just small cuts here and there. Maybe. And also, I applied for pay as you earn for my student loans…but let’s also not think of that because the anxiety is already creeping in. Also, my car is about to die, but dammit I deserve this!!

When I say that I deserve this, it is the part of my brain that remembers how great it feels to be in that room for 90 minutes, my meditation, my workout, my 90 minutes of peace.

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No, the picture above is not me, and no, at my third consecutive day of practice (this time around), I do not feel any of those peaceful feelings…yet. See, when you begin again, it is HARD. I don’t mean hard like zumba hard, or running hard. I mean, OH MY GOD I THINK I MIGHT CRY hard, or, AM I HAVING A HEART ATTACK hard. Also, this time, I am much heavier than I was before. Yoga while chunky is NOT fun. Now wait, I am a body positive person. I think I am sexy at any weight, but now I notice things, like some questionable marketing tools that I’ve seen in the dressing room, like one cartoon of a large person, biggest loser style as motivation to join a challenge. Harmless? Perhaps. Yes, I think I need to be healthier. I was thin and toned and sexy in that way for much of my life, and now my body has changed in ways that sometimes I am not used to, or comfortable with, so back to Bikram. It works for me, but what I’ve noticed, by the cartoon, the postures, and the directions for the postures, is that it REALLY isn’t meant for fluffy people, overweight people, people like me.

So, a posture like the one above, standing separate head to knee pose or Dandayamana – Bibhaktapada – Janushirasana

looks nothing like that when I do it, well because, boobs, and belly. Ouch. It’s like this with several poses. As I struggle and stretch and will my boobs to shrink during a pose, I hear the calm voice of our instructor. “It doesn’t matter how deep into a posture you go, just that you are attempting it the correct way. You are still getting the benefits.” So all is not lost. It may look ugly, but it’s still working, and one of these days, I’ll relive the feeling of peace I remember. After all, I keep coming back for a reason.

This IS for me, and I’ll get there, wherever there is.

I’m happy to report that I have already seen a small bit of progress. Yesterday, I only lay in Savansana once. Yay me! Small victories people.

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Today, my goal is to not lie down at all. We shall see.

This is my new mantra as I begin again. “It’s never too late. It’s never too bad. You’re never too old or too sick to start from scratch again. ” Let’s see where it takes me this time. Wherever it takes me, it’s always worth it, and so am I.

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*I am hoping to keep this up, blog posts and all. Hopefully, I will be able to go for more than a month this time. Have your own Bikram story? Feel free to share in the comment section.

From Me To You

Some words of wisdom from me to you, and possibly back to me in the future.

Stop giving up. I mean, just stop. Finish what you start. Give it your all.

Am I saying you’ll never fail? No way. Failure is inevitable, and mistakes will happen, but I believe that mistakes aren’t mistakes and failure is only fatal if you come out learning nothing, and not changing a thing.

I’ve heard that life is not a sprint, it’s more of a marathon, but I see it more like 752 marathons in a row. You think you can’t, but you can. You have been training for this your whole life, because everything you learn has its place and has a lesson to teach. Each lesson takes you to the next place, the next adventure, the next fall-flat-on-your-face moment. And so what you fell? So what you have to start over? At least you have that chance. I know of a few parents this year who are having to celebrate Thanksgiving without their children. Violence took them. Oppression took them. A system that disregards them took them.

And you are still here.

Don’t give up. Fall and get up. Try and practice love until you get it right. Learn from the lessons that come. Make it right when you are
wrong. Be grateful. And never, never give up.

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Passion

Passion- any strongly felt emotion/intense desire, ardent affection, or enthusiasm
———-

I’m busy, and I like it that way. Once in a while I like the opportunity to kick off my shoes and silence my mind, but there are to do lists zipping by and tasks that beg to be checked off. All the while, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Here’s why.

I choose it. Yep. I do it to myself, and I do it for myself.

A long, long time ago (ok not that long ago, maybe three years, two months, and a few days ago) someone told me she didn’t see that I was passionate about anything. It didn’t seem to matter, that at the time, I was quite passionate about her, just FYI. (See definition)

That sort of hurt. By sort of, I mean it sort of hurt like I imagine getting run over by a car sort of hurts.

You see, I have always thought of myself as a passionate person. Oh yeah, I have the actual word tattooed on my back. Well, it’s a symbol actually, Japanese. I was young, and perhaps it was a bad decision, but you get my point. Don’t judge.

I had always been the girl that never needed pushing. I pushed myself. If there was something new to try I’d do it. I was the girl who did math for fun. I was the girl who practiced the dance till exhaustion cause dancing was amazing, and practiced her violin to relax, because music. I acted, I played, I sang, painted, geez, I wanted to do freaking EVERYTHING, and I did.

Ok. Then college, then grad school, then believing in something, then protests, then voting, then Chicana power, then gay rights, then EVERYTHING! Ehem, passion.

Phew, and here was this woman, standing in front of me, telling me that she didn’t think I was passionate… about anything. Blink…(silence) blink, blink.

The sad part was, she was right, if just for that moment. In all of my ridiculous passion for her, I lost the passion for me, and all the things that mattered most to me. Cliche? Perhaps, but it’s cliche cause it’s a common occurrence that happens to lots of people, which then sends it to the realm of unoriginal cause it is, which
makes it cliche. I’m going in circles here.

So…I went and started being everything I knew I was. Now I’m awesome again. The end.

Not really. But really, after a while, (a long while, consisting of over consumption of alcohol, under consumption of food, and months of over analyzing and reflecting)I realized she wasn’t really talking about me, not the real me. She couldn’t be, and finally, I understood that it didn’t matter that much anyway. What mattered was that she didn’t and couldn’t see me at all. She had no idea who I was or who I wanted to become, and had no interest in finding out.

That brings me to now. Why on earth am I still thinking about this and her and what impact she made blah blah blah. Who cares already?

I do. All of it matters. She was a kind of backhanded motivation after all. Applause. The applause are for me. Whatever the motivation, positive or negative, (and we’ve already seen that it was quite on the negative side of the spectrum) I have fully come back to myself. I am me, the me who pushes herself, who is adventurous, fearless, and fierce. I am who I want to be, and all the tasks on my plate are of my choosing. Now, passion is a conscious choice. It’s where my groove is. It’s my jam. It’s making choices one after another to do the things that matter. It’s me, being fully present in every moment possible. It’s who I’ve always been.

Yeah, so maybe we all need a break sometimes, me included. But for me, I know that break will only be long enough for me to reflect and refuel. Then, it’s up and at ’em. There’s lots of life to be lived, and only so much time to live it. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself in my 37 years, it’s that I’m passionate about life, all of it.

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Poema

Quiero que crezcas dentro de mí. Como una flor que nació antes, y finalmente encontró su sol.

Quiero que me busques de nuevo, amor.

No soy la chica de aquellos tiempos. Ya se mi valor.

Ya respiro ganas, con pedacitos de sentimiento y sonrisas.

Todas las lecciones que he aprendido, me han llevado a este punto, cuando te puedo entender completamente.

Ya se que el temor que cargas siempre en tu alma…nunca fue mi culpa.

Yo no fui la que te rompió.

Y por fin, perdono a todo.

My Two cents: Elisa Chan and the #NDO4SA

I live in San Antonio, Texas.  I’m a lesbian. I am brown.

My life experiences have fortunately taken me to many places in the U.S. and the world.  I have heard over and over again, “Yikes, you live in Texas,” or, “sorry, that must be hard,” or the occasional “No need to even vote in Texas, super red state,” and, “You should move,” and my personal favorite…”Don’t you just LOVE the Alamo?”  No, I’m not kidding. I wish I was.

So yes, I am quite aware of the perceptions that other more “progressive” parts of our country think of Texas, and must imagine our lives to be.  And, they would be right in certain cases.  For instance, one of our City Council Members was recently caught spewing ignorance and hate in a staff meeting.  Seriously? Ugh.

Now, I am not naive enough to think that because we have “come so far,”  it means that we are now free to hold hands with our partners and skip down the streets in our rainbow attire, all the while having passersby gleam at us with gushing sentiments of approval.  (I actually think that would be a fun day though)  However, I do think that an elected representative must at the very least, NOT think her constituents are “disgusting.”  Hmmm, maybe there are no LGBT people in her district… Um No.  Watch this.  Yes, we are everywhere in San Antonio.  Tan tan tan!!!

That being said, perhaps she should not be in office. Ex Council Member Leticia Ozuna recently called for just that, Chan’s resignation, when it was revealed that during the full version of the recording, Chan made disparaging remarks about Ozuna’s family and her transgender life partner.  Cheers to Ozuna for “coming out” to everyone!  Seriously, putting a well known and respected face on “disgusting” makes reasonable, non-bigoted people say “Hey, hold your horses there ma’am!”  That’s exactly the point.

Now, forgive me for backtracking…I am convinced I have untreated A.D.D., but in case you are not aware, all of this comes on the heels of A LOT of hard work done by some amazing people.  C.A.U.S.A. has been working with both local and national organizations to update San Antonio’s Non-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and Veteran status.  Yes, we also have gay veterans in San Antonio. Who’d a thunk it?  What does this mean? Councilman Diego Bernal breaks it down here.  Perhaps a bit over simplified, but sometimes simple is good.  What he does not explain in this bulleted breakdown, is what it actually means to these communities.

I know that for me, it means that my city values my contribution.  It means that as a lesbian, I can be confident in my position as a Director of an empowerment program for girls, because my community stands behind me, because no matter my sexual orientation, I do my job well, and deserve equal protection under the law. Here is a bit that I found particularly offensive in Chan’s discussion.

“If you wanted to choose that lifestyle, we don’t want to discriminate you, but you shouldn’t affect the young people,” she continues. “How terrible. … They’re going to be confused. You see two men go into a bedroom. You see two women kissing. Is that not confusing? It’s confusing.“It is actually, what you call, suggestive, for the kids to be corrupt, which is against nature. I’m telling you, anything that is against nature is not right.”

Um, excuse me Ms. Chan, but that shit doesn’t fly with me.  I LOVE kids, though as of yet I have none of my own. Perhaps I’ll adopt. Moreover, I love the kids I work with enough to “suggest” to them things such as higher education, civic engagement, community responsibility, using their voices against oppression (ehhem), love, kindness, and self worth. Shameful I tell you!

All  snark aside, this ordinance is important to a hell of a lot of people.  It’s important to me, and for my future, but it is also important for future generations.  Schools all over the nation have anti-bullying programs now, and that’s great, but if our policies continue to relegate certain communities to that of second class citizens, then there is not a bullying program on the planet that can stop violence and discrimination against LGBT people.  Our policies have the power to change culture.  They at the very least give the protected class protection against those who may want to do harm.  And I hate to state the obvious, but Chan makes a pretty good case for us needing the ordinance updated. Just sayin’.

My friend who told me I should move comes to mind.  I love you friend, but the answer is a resounding no. Not now. Not anytime soon. THIS is where the work has to be done.  We cannot leave this place to the bigots and the willfully ignorant.  No way, no how.

Here is a link to C.A.U.S.A’s petition to City Council.  The ordinance will be voted on by City Council September 5th.  I will be there with my red shirt on, in support of Equality and Fairness in San Antonio.

*To our City Council Members who support Equality and Fairness, thank you.  To those who don’t…step it up. Be on the right side of history. (I’m talking to you Ivy Taylor)

I’ve heard you should write about what you know

Here’s what I know.

I know how to be single.

I know how NOT to be single, which curiously, is not the same thing as knowing how to be in a relationship.

I know that in gay years I’m 375 years old and I’m on the 6th or 7th incarnation of myself.

I’ve got a long way to go.

Yes, I keep coming back as me…a nuanced version.

Like the new and improved Iphone tadaaahh!

Or sometimes like the New Windows that has to be sent back for glitches that can’t be fixed, not this time around. Live with the glitches.

I know that each new me looks a little different; smells a little different, depending on who’s touched me, or held me in their arms.

I know that I’ll pick up a new word, forget an old song

and not be able to place why I hate peas now, when I used to love them.

I know that I know that I know that I know how to be single now.

I’m not afraid to admit that I like it…

Especially when my clothes pile high in the corner of my room and there is no sign of me lifting a finger to fix it

I like single when I can go to bed at 8 pm or 8 am and no one will frown at me in disapproval.

I like it when I sing too loud or want to stay silent for days.

I like single because it CAN be all about me

Or it can be all about giving         all         of          me           for something I love.

I know I hate single because I have to fold the sheets alone.

I hate single ’cause there’s no one to help with the dogs.

I know  how    to    be     single though.

Now, this time around

and I’m good at it.

I know how to be the only single person in the room and still have fun.

I can go to a new restaurant sans company and leave full and proud of myself.

I can challenge myself to do something I’ve never done before but always wanted to try

and be my biggest fan when I succeed.

I can fall flat on my face

lose my mind just a little

and see

that I am good enough anyway.

The Day After Tomorrow (written on Nov 5)

Tomorrow is important. Everyone I know is posting political opinions (one way or the other).  We are all waiting in anticipation for the imaginary voting bell to ring…and we’re off.  Most of us voted early. I am a fairly impatient person, and I despise lines. Republicans are right. If they want to win, taking away early voting is one way to possibly stop people like me from getting to the polls, but not this time.

Tomorrow is important because there is the possibility that progress can be undone, that “all the us’s” (Harvey Milk speech) will go back to being the outcasts, the marginalized, and the…well, squashed minorities.  Sometimes I cannot believe that we (LGBTQ people) are closer to equality than I had imagined we could be just four years ago.  We no longer have Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and my friends in the armed forces don’t have to hide anymore. Can you believe it? I have had more than a couple of friends who have been discharged, or worse, had to hide a part of themselves for their entire lives. Not anymore.

LGBTQ people now have hospital visitation rights. It seems like such a small thing, but it isn’t. It’s huge.  In my early twenties, my then partner was rushed to the emergency room. I couldn’t do anything. Her mother lived out of town, and was shocked when I told her they wouldn’t allow me to see my partner without her there. I was no one. I waited in the lobby all night, until her mother arrived  and gave the doctor permission for me to be there. It was one of the most painful experiences I have ever known. I even had a nurse spew hateful words at me. I didn’t want to be kicked out, so I remained quiet.

Earlier this year, the President of The United States of America stated that he believed that “I” deserved the right to be married.  There was a collective cheer from me and my friends I was with, and I couldn’t help but cry.  I can’t explain the feeling, but I’ll try.  When I was a teenager, like many, I hid.  I didn’t date. I didn’t care to date. I met a woman and I fell in love. I hated myself for it. When we broke up, I dated a lot of men…too many. I was pretending that I was straight, overcompensating for the struggle I was going through.

Thankfully, my struggle didn’t last long. I found a community of gay men and lesbians who not only didn’t care that I was gay, but welcomed me into their world, their families, their homes. I knew I would be ok. The outside world was scary, starting with my own family (excluding my supportive mother and a couple of cousins).  I knew life would be more difficult for me, for all of us. I remember hearing over and over that my “lifestyle” was a choice. My answer was always the same. Who in their right mind would choose to be a societal outcast? I had once been a servant team leader in my church.  According to my old church “friends” (granted, not all of them) I was going to hell. I was the worst kind of sinner.

So when President Obama voiced his support for same-sex marriage, it meant that he was acknowledging my full personhood. I know I’m a full person, who deserves the same dignity and rights that heterosexual people enjoy.  But finally, if in word only, the most powerful leader in the world, said “I” deserve the opportunity to pursue happiness in love and life.

I will never forget that.

But I am not “just” a lesbian. I am a Chicana, a woman of color. I am a brown woman. The brown part…I am a U. S. citizen, as is my mother, and her mother before her, but I remember the border town fear of the Border Patrol. I remember hearing the word “migra” and knowing that there was some reason I should fear them.  As I grew into myself, I changed that fear into activism.  I believe in the Dream Act. I loathe SB 1070.  I have protested, marched, written letters, and organized. Others who are brown like me, but have no documents, deserve the right to pursue their dreams and live without fear.

The woman.  I was not around when Roe v. Wade was decided, but I have reaped the benefits.  I have had the right to choose, and as a lesbian, you might think that it doesn’t mean much to me. It does.  It means that I am the master of my own body, and that I have the power to decide when and if I want to start a family.  Granted, starting a family is more complicated now that I have stopped trying to prove that I am straight…cause I’m not. And women’s healthcare and choices are so much more than pregnancy and termination.  I am the ONLY one who should have dominion over my body, period.

All of this means that tomorrow is indeed very important. If Romney wins, he has vowed to stand with right-wing-fundamentalist-anti-woman-anti-comprehensive immigration reform types.  This means that the day after tomorrow could bring the reality of a drastically different future, at least in the short-term.  History moves forward, and backlash is inevitable, but I am banking on the progressive momentum of this country’s people to keep the wheels moving in the right direction, towards equality and fairness.

The day after tomorrow I will be able to have lunch with my Republican friends again. I’ve been avoiding them pre-election. Come to think of it, I’m sure we are avoiding each other.  The day after tomorrow, I will unhide them from my Facebook feed.  I hope, that after Obama wins, they will unhide me also, and perhaps we will still consider each other friends.

Dia de Los Muertos

Today is November 1st.  Halloween parties have ceased and I only have gummy bears left in my candy jar.  We had our students color decorated skeleton masks and dedicate them to someone they have loved and lost.  It may seem morbid to some, but to me, and many of my culture, November 1st is a day to celebrate the lives of those who have passed.

My mother and I make a traditional altar every year. It has pictures of family members who we have lost, along with their favorite foods, and drinks, and trinkets. Sadly, we have added one more picture this year. After the altar is finished, all there is left to do is remember.

My Grandma was one of 11 children.  She was born in Terlingua, Texas in 1915.  She only finished up to the 6th grade, but she was the wisest woman I have ever known.  She had 6 children, one of whom died at the age of 3.  My brother is named after him. My grandfather was a hard worker, but an alcoholic.  My grandmother left him, but wanted to be buried next to him when she died. She was.  She knew English, but refused to speak it. She was a cook at an Italian restaurant in El Paso, Texas. I always remember her hating pizza and spaghetti.  She paid $12,000 for her small two-bedroom house.  I remember her always telling me how important it was that I finish school.  She warned that without it, I would be “dumb” like her.  We both knew she wasn’t.

She taught me to sing by loving singing herself, and if I close my eyes I can hear her deep melodic voice.

“Tengo una muneca vestida de azul, con sus medias blancas y sombrero azul.”

I still remember all the coros she sang to me, and sometimes I sing them out loud to myself…and she is with me.

In my early twenties I took my then partner home for the holidays.  I was the defiant niece who refused to hide in the closet or behind closed doors.  I never told my grandmother, but during that visit, she called my female partner my “husband,” in front of all of my family.  I never heard a negative thing about my being gay from anyone in my family again.

………………………………….

My Uncle Ray lived in Corpus Christi, Texas for all of the time that I knew him.  He was the only man in my life of any consequence.  I didn’t really know my father until I was 18. (a story for another day) My mother and I spent as much time with him as we could. We both adored him.  We lived with him when I was very young, and then moved back to El Paso at some point that I don’t remember.  Even in El Paso, so far away, my mother would curb bad behavior by telling me she was going to tell Uncle Ray. The behavior stopped.

Uncle Ray was a Vietnam Vet, and we always knew there were things we couldn’t talk to him about. Sometimes he would fall silent, and we knew he was somewhere else. Other times I remember hearing him sob from behind his bedroom door.  He wasn’t a mean man, but he rubbed and pinched my cheeks red when I told him I wanted to wear makeup. I didn’t ask again.

We went to the beach a lot. That was our favorite place. One time he was stung by a man o’ war. We were scared.  Another time a drunk man in a truck almost ran over me and my cousin while we were making sand castles. He pulled the man out of his truck. I didn’t see what happened next.

He didn’t like tv, but he loved his guitar, and so after dinner we would gather in his small livingroom and he would hand us instruments.  My favorite was a percussion instrument that had rows of silver beads you would turn with you palm. To this day I have no idea what it is called.

My mom would sit in the most coveted place in the room, by his side.  He would begin to strum Neil Young, and I would wait in anticipation of my mother’s amazing voice.

……………………………………….

My Aunt Julie lived in Philadelphia. She passed away this summer.  She had a beautiful family of a husband and three boys, one of whom is gay.  According to stories I’ve heard throughout the years, she never liked school.  My grandmother would drag her there by her braids.  She was a stubborn woman.  It runs in the family.

I didn’t get to spend enough time with her, but this Spring I was sent to D.C. for work and I was able to drive up and see her.  I am so grateful for that now.

Today is a day to remember, but it is also a day for the living to celebrate life.

It’s a time for us to be grateful for all the beauty and wisdom that has been passed on to us.

I remember, and I am most certainly filled with gratitude. Thank you.

Aunt Julie