How To Help Our Mental Health at Least a Little

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A few weeks back, I got hooked on watching Suits with my husband.  I really enjoyed the first season and loved that we could binge watch the show as there was already 6 seasons available on amazon prime.  As a coach, I master manage my time, so initially, I would get my work done pretty fast to get back to TV and watch some more.  The beginning was inspiring to me, I liked the character development and would comment on it with my husband as we would relax for an hour or so before we go to sleep.

Then, naturally,  we started getting busier and we could no longer sit together and watch so my husband gave me a go ahead to watch on my own.  I watched it shamelessly: episode after episode, season after season.  I starting doing everything I possibly could do with a show in a background because at some point, and this often happens to me when I binge watch something, the show looses it’s charm, the plot loosens, things begin to be less believable and it gets very obvious that the writers are milking it.  All of this works because by season 3, most people are so in love with the characters, and for those of us who binge watch, curiosity trumps desire for quality and value.

But here is the thing, I pay attention to what I am thinking and how I am feeling, part of it is my job and I do that with others so I naturally do the same for myself.  The more I watched the show, the worse I felt about myself.  I often, when I get into a show like this and watch it for a couple of days, even dream about characters being in my life.  Luckily, I allow this to happen so rarely that I can just watch my experience almost like it’s not happening to me, appreciate that life is really not about sitting on a couch and watching someone else’s life but rather living your own.

Yet, I wonder, how many people give into show after show on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu or whatever else is out there and begin to slowly lose sense of living their own life.  I studied Film in my undergraduate and graduate studies and I truly appreciate what a piece of good writing for film and television can do and the message it can send to the masses, but I worry, I truly worry about our minds getting slowed down and sloppy over time.  I worry that watching fictional lives before our eyes has us not make an effort in our own.  Having a great life, accomplishing your dreams and having success requires an effort and I worry that getting used to stories presented to us makes us lazy thinkers.

Here is my truth, I watched the Suits for a few days, 6 seasons and 90 or so episodes I believe.  I want you to know, I felt it.  I felt the effects of being almost lost in my own life from being fed someone else’s story for such a long duration.  I had a couple of dreams with those characters in them and I definitely felt down on myself.  It’s been a bit more than a week that I stopped and I feel I snapped back into reality, but I worry that there are people out there who do this all the time.  And if so, it’s not surprising that things that we witness on news are happening, that people are losing their mental health and that the issue is seemingly out of control.

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Our minds are vulnerable and if we feed them information that makes us feel angry or paralyzed, it is easy to drift and feel a heavy heart.  I am not saying that this can prevent all the suicides and crimes that happen in the world, but I am sure that if we spent less time in front of the screens and more time with our feet in the grass looking at the sky, we will feel happier overall.  I know I feel really crappy after I eat junk food and watch stupid TV shows.  When I don’t, when I eat clean and read inspiring books, I inevitably feel high on life.  Sure, this is not an answer for everyone but it can sure help prevent an experience of despair and going down to rabbit hole to most of us.  As humans, we are vulnerable, so the more we work on feeding ourselves the good stuff, the better chances we have of staying sane.

What are you feeding your body, mind and soul with?

10 Reasons to Pay Your Own Bill when Dating

Where I come from, men pick up the tab.  They get “seemingly” offended if you even try to get the bill yourself.  Offering to split it is out of question as you are immediately labelled as cheap:  either pay it all up or shut up and let it be paid.  My culture, however, is not my reference but the years of working with individuals and couples on relationships is.

I remember talking to a friend from Montreal years ago and her complaining that men from Quebec don’t offer to pay the bill.  This was a turn off for her and she felt that, if they were not going to pay, she wouldn’t give them the time of the day.   I could relate to what she was saying as all throughout college and even graduate school, I really wanted and liked it when men picked up the tab when I went out with them.  The only difference was, I never waited for them to do it, I always offered to pay my part.youblur-close-up-cutlery-370984

Here is what I think some women don’t get:  men are human beings too and in the game of dating, it’s often not so much that they can’t pick up the tab, it’s that when they don’t just go for it, it tells them if the woman who is with them is just along for a free ride or she cares about him more deeply.  Whether or not you pay your part shows that.  And while so many women out there are coaching you on how to get the most out of men, here are 10 solid reasons to pay for your own shit:

  1. When you pick up your part, it shows you wanted to be there, you are willing to invest your time and money to spend the time with person.  While you may split or cover the bill once, doing it the second time is a proof of commitment: putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak
  2. You prove that you can’t be bought, you can order what you wish knowing you are treating yourself fully to this enjoyment.  If you are prepared to pay for it, you will never be disappointed
  3. You release the attachment and the desperation that comes from waiting for someone to pick up your bill or wondering throughout your time together about who will get it at the end
  4. You prove yourself to be feminist, that woman have a voice and can make all decisions the same way men can.  After all, aren’t most of us always trying to prove this to the world
  5. You are energetically invested, when you pay up, there is no guilt or even a remote wonder if you need to do something in return.  Your bills are paid and all is squared, everything that comes after that is a choice
  6. Men are impressed by women who take care of themselves and real men will respect it, even if they insist on paying
  7. You will release all those men who think their money can buy you and your attention, you will not be their player, you will be your own
  8. You will know if you want to do this again, because when it hurts your wallet, you get to be more mindful of how and with whom you spend your time
  9. You will leave the guy with an impression that you are stable, responsible, dependable and he will think much more highly of you
  10. You will never have an experience that you sold out for a glass of wine, or a 10 course dinner; no matter how big or small it is, selling out is selling out.

Hope these reasons make you reconsider waiting for a guy to pick up a tab.  Nobody is born in service of you.  This is such an archaic way of thinking and people who expect it are bound to be disappointed.  The more you expect the less you have ownership over your life and what happens in it.   When you take care of yourself, do your part, everything else is a bonus, it becomes much easier to live in gratitude and that is the energy that attracts men, money and good things your way.  Which one will you choose?

 

RIP Kate Spade

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Nobody will really know what happened that had Kate Spade decide to take her own life, especially not the public.  We make up stories about other people and live vicariously through the famous few.  Sadly.  I guess the effort to make our own lives work is more than it takes to plug into social media, TV or read newspapers.  We, then,  naturally live on sidelines and comment.
I glanced at the article today that read: “it’s lonely on the top”… What a way to frame what happened and tell a story that might have nothing to do with Kate’s story.  I don’t blame anyone who comments or writes because I can feel it, we are all impacted and we all need to process things our own way.  I am taking a moment myself to digest the fact that a 13 year old girl came home yesterday to find out her mom was gone and now she will know from her dad, papers, friends, etc, that she took her own life, because her mom’s life was public.  I can’t and don’t want to even imagine what that must be like for that little teenage girl.
What can cause someone who seems to be having resources, to not find a way through and out.  I never followed Kate’s life but if depression was the cause, is it possible she never reached out for help?  There is no shame in asking for help no matter how successful or unsuccessful you are. People are not meant to live alone and deal with everything alone, that is the assumption that is destroying lives.
People around me and I have dialed friends or hotlines in times when life felt painful. It doesn’t mean anything. It just means you need someone else to support you to see things you can’t see from where you are standing.  It’s not a shame and you may get a “no” a few times before someone says yes.  We have to find strength to keep on looking.
My grandma the other day told me she didn’t want to bother anyone. She is in her 80s and lost her husband and older son within a year and my uncle lives far away. I keep telling her to not hesitate to ask for what she needs, but I can hear it that it doesn’t come naturally to her.  When we are children and at the old age and any time in between when we are sick, we need support.  Please make that right.  Please allow yourself to ask for what you need and not be attached to where it comes from.
We can only give when we are full and we must be able to receive when we are not.  That is a flow of life.  There is nothing shameful about asking for help, needing something and reaching out.
In meantime, here is the

Call 1-800-273-8255
Available 24 hours everyday
When you allow someone to help you, you give them a gift of being someone who contributes.  We are all in this together.

A Sure Way to Screw up Any Relationship, Especially with a Man

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I’ve been watching Suits in the past weeks with my husband.  It all started with my being curious to figure out who the new Duchess really was as an actress because I didn’t have a clue.  Naturally now, I have my eyes on her character Rachel.  I must admit, I was “royally” annoyed by her from the get go, but somewhere in a middle of third season, I could find a clear strong why that I can actually blog about.
The relationship between Rachel and Mike Ross in a show is actually fairly complicated from the start.  The whole premise of Mike being a fraud in general is something that is not easy to carry in real life. Namely, there is no freedom when you know you have to hide.  Surely, this is fiction and the character of Mike had such a sad childhood losing both parents that will probably have audience sympathize with him. 
But here is what Rachel does that lots of women do (and men too probably):  she does what she wants and not what works.  Namely, when she cheats on Mike and he asks her for some space to deal with taking that image out of his head, she continually comes to talk to him to apologize, to explain, to convince him to forgive.  This is the opposite of giving someone space.  And by the way, I know what it’s like to be there, to feel so strongly about something that you feel you just simply must unload it to the person you love, but when someone asks us for space, what we need to give them is space.  
You see, when women say NO and a man keeps going at her anyway, we consider that abuse.  Consider that when a man asks you not to call, to give him space or alike, that not doing that is just as bad.  In fact, the more you do it, the more you are actually proving how selfish and undeserving of a second chance you really are.  People say I am sorry and insist on it to make themselves feel good, not because the “I am sorry” actually helps the other person.  Now, saying it is a good start, it shows you regret what you did and that is a good thing, but repeating “I am sorry” doesn’t repair the mistake made.  Time heals it and taking actions that show you are being different now do too.
Many women are driven by wanting a guarantee in relationships: “Oh, if he can just forgive me, then things can be back to normal,” or “if he promises me to be there, then I can just relax and will do better” etc.  This is normal.  Women need to feel safe in relationships and when that is compromised, we feel a little off balance.  Again, I have been there too.  But our being out of balance is still not a reason to not give someone else something they are asking for, in a case of Mike and Rachel, space.
I say this so often I feel like I am boring everyone, but rest assured, I can back it up with more than a decade of study: we don’t “find” people, we attract them.  So if relationship in front of us is not happening, we are the ones who need to change the dial, not them.  We can’t control other people no matter how tempting that may be.  It’s not possible.  The only thing we can shift is who we are and what we do.  If you want someone to give you a chance in life, when they ask you for space, you give them space.  By doing this, you are proving to be easy to be with, you take no effort and people are most likely going to be OK having you around.  If you keep on insisting on reasons why they should change their mind, even if they take you back, they will always know you are a “royal” pain in the butt and they will not like being around you, for the simple reason: you don’t let them be.
Men, I find, are really good in detecting women around them who allow them to be themselves, who make them look like heroes and the ones that make them feel like they are constantly falling short, and making them feel like what they are asking is not ok to ask for, as if they are wrong all the time.  So when a man says he wants something, no matter how you feel about it, let him have it and then go on and forgive yourself the mistake you made instead of running after him for forgiveness and approval.  If you can do that, something in that relationship may be possible.  Otherwise, it’s a matter of time when it will be over and it will definitely be a drag along the way.
It’s been a while since I actually had to sit on my hands when my fiance at the time, now husband, once asked me to give him a bit of time to forgive something I did.  I remember doing it.  It wasn’t easy but it gave him space to forgive me at his own pace and it gave me space to actually forgive myself because regardless of our relationship, that turned out awesome, my relationship to myself always comes first. 
Please share your comments and if you think someone would benefit by reading this, please share it.
PS I don’t endorse the show Suits.  I loved the first season but then it spiraled down in my view.  Watch it at your own risk 🙂

Missing grandma, understanding loss

Sharing this blog from 6 years ago as I am clearing my draft folder.  I found it just in time for grandma’s birthday next week.  I had a few losses after grandma passed and thought it would push my missing her aside.  It didn’t.  It merely reminded me that her spirit must be with me all the time.  Here is my blog:

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“I cannot sleep.  I keep thinking of grandma and how quickly she passed.  There really was never a right time for her to go, I am sure of it.  Even though I am 34 years old, I seriously never once got friendly with an idea that eventually people we love will die.

I am sure someone will read this blog and think how immature I am on the subject.  It’s probably surprising to so many that I am a queen of creating and manifesting things in life and that I am so deeply shaken by this loss.  And, I am.  I am shocked, shaken, heart broken and forever changed.

We become prisoners of guilt, perhaps, way too fast to really be able to be face to face with a raw feeling underneath.  So long as we feel guilty, we truly don’t take any responsibility for that we are killing ourselves along with the person we just lost.

It took me days to figure out that I wasn’t willing to forgive myself for that I didn’t speak with grandma the day before she passed.  I learned a lesson long ago about how to forgive myself.  It worked then so I asked my husband to go find my note to him when I shared it.  And there it was, simply put: “my actions were completely correlate with the way the world occured to me….(I simply didn’t know that that was the last time I would ever get to speak with grandma, else I would get off my call and spend time with her)…why punish myself for that?”

And I did forgive myself for not knowing.  There truly isn’t anything new I would say to grandma at that time. I kept her really well updated throughout the years and often time it was all “too much information.”  Years ago when she was in New York, I made sure I shared how much I appreciated her and why and she was able to share her love with me.  So, there isn’t anything else I would say, or anything other than “I LOVE YOU” that I could repeat an infinite amount of times. And now that the guilt is gone, I truly am dealing only with a loss.

This isn’t anyone’s fault. This isn’t good or bad.  It just is.  I am facing the reality of life for what it is. I remind myself over and over again to be grateful for what I had.  I remember grandma.  I think of her all the time.  She is even more present now that I know that she is gone because I can see all of her in me.

There isn’t a better advice in life than the one we learn because someone did it not told it.  Grandma had grace that I only hope to achieve in my life time.  She was nice to people.  She got along well.  I cannot say that I am the same, but in honor of her, I want to be.

I am so lucky to have a wonderful husband who is my shining star in good and in bad.  I know grandma wanted me to have this kind of love in my life. She knows I believed it was possible and she, for sure, was helping me make it happen by believing in me every step of the way.  She never took off her wedding band, even 30 years after grandpa was gone. She loved, so much, so forgivingly.  Ah… There is nobody like her, and nothing can replace her.  I am blessed to have shared my lifetime with her.”

I love you grandma!!!!

 

Glamorized

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Here is what I shared on Instagram account last year right after I completed watching the 2nd season of The Crown:

The most disturbing thing about season 2 of the Crown was watching the queen and the way she, even as her Royal Highness, acts merely as a puppet in a man’s world.

“Female power involves women taking part in the conversation either in the public arena or the dinner table, and having the same emotional space in which to do so as men.  It means women not having to fear punishment of any kind.” ~ Marianne Williamson

I am not a historian so this post is not about monarchy, or a direct judgement of the queen, but rather a reflection of us women, and people in general, losing our own power. The “attachment” to an outcome is surely always going to cause us to compromise and tolerate things we would never tolerate otherwise.
While in the Crown this attachment to preserving the old ways and honoring the ancestors was completely exposed, I think that each of us constantly does this in our own lives. In wanting to belong, we often sacrifice what is possible.
I never wanted to change my last name (that was my father’s) even though it made so much more sense to go with my mother’s.  I was in agony for so many years growing up, so much so that I only finally broke through it when I got married.  Even then, I decided to wait for my citizenship to actually formally change it.  Feeling like I am “disobeying” was way stronger than my personal desire to break free.

I wonder if anyone sees the places where being faithful to the old ways is robbing them of opportunity to owning who they really are and can be.”

I remember taking so much interest in monarchy when I watched this show and following up with many documentaries about the queen herself, Lady Diana Spencer, Kate and William and so on.  The more I watched, the more I felt that being a royal was almost like a curse, one is born into this privilege but then is completely robbed of a normal experience of growing up – paparazzi follow your every step of the way and while I would personally love to have more audience, I can’t imagine that someone would fill tabloids with my every move.  Nor would I find it important – and it’s not just because I am not a celebrity but because certain things don’t need to be glorified.

There is something that has us get fascinated by the stories we see on TV and buy as real.  I am still blown away by the popularity of Kim Kardashian for example. While I actually admire her ruthlessness and probably great marketing skills, I can’t help but feel that her content literally has no value.

This is a bit how I felt after watching the royal wedding.  I got curious and wanted to see – I fell for the fairy tale and even thought of myself as jealous and less than.  In allowing all those feelings to come up, even writing about them, I realized: something here doesn’t add up.  Naturally, I won’t spend time trying to prove the point, as far as I am concerned, I really don’t care what happens, but what I do care about is that this fairy tale princess story feels a bit like a drug of choice. Mesmerized by what they see, the surface of it all, people all over America have been glued to their screens and social medias commenting and sharing their love for the royal couple, their view of the whole thing and alike.  In a process, I think many don’t realize, this smoke screen of happily ever after is just as dangerous as photoshopped models that have us create unrealistic expectations of ourselves and our bodies.

I am happily married:  I define it as being committed and in love with my husband and able to solve any problem with him in a conversation.  We haven’t gone to bed mad at each other for the entire time we’ve been married (and while we dated).  We don’t agree on everything, we even have loud disagreements but we keep it real and we work on it and when it comes to it, we have space to work through whatever our limitations are so that when we come together, we can still be a team.

Duke and the Duchess of Sussex are surely in love, that shows and they are blessed to have found each other in this.  But let’s not compare ourselves to them.  Let’s not pretend that Meghan “lucked out” when she married Harry, because she is yet to prove that she can stomach all the restrictions that come with her role: the one she married into.

My concern with the messages I see all over social media is that we are creating a fake standard for what ordinary people, women, relationships should look and feel like.  There is nothing wrong to aspiring to marry well or into a royal family if that is what you truly desire, but let’s not pretend that anyone, regardless of their fame, has a better life just because they have status and money.  Granted, this is not true for people who are in a “survival” mode, but it is for everyone else who makes a decent living – because happiness, that’s not something money and fame can buy.

I think we often miss the blessings in our lives because we watch TV more than we mingle with real people.  It’s a form of escapism that I think doesn’t do us good on a long run because we have unrealistic expectations that cause us to feel bad about things that are actually good.  There is a fashion designer/youtuber who did an experiment with real people and had them pose like models in magazines.  Not one of those woman could actually physically make the pose they saw in the magazine.  Other words, we are attuning out eyes to visions that are not possible for us and then we use that to turn on ourselves.

How about we try being wise enough to detach from the buzz, appreciate what we have, and create what we really want.  Be better than you were yesterday and understand that happiness comes from you and the choices you make and the life you create and not from anything you see on social media or TV.

 

Royal Wedding – Access to my World

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I woke up this morning to take care of my younger son while my husband took our older to his theater class.  Of course, as soon as I was conscious, I wanted to watch the Royal Wedding.  I know opinions on this are mixed: majority of people will be glued to the screen and some will inevitably not care.  Wherever you are about it is right, I suppose.  Inevitably we all have a view on it and that’s just how it goes with royals, celebrities and people who seem to be the ones setting the trends for all the others.

I grew up in a small country and my mom was well known in my early years – all until I left to study in America at the age of 16.  Somehow being around artists, musicians, writers and other celebrities of my home land had me feel both entitled to mingle in those circles but also living in pretense that I don’t really want that kind of life.  Moving to USA where I was nobody was a rude awakening, I was no longer known as my mother’s daughter but an immigrant who worked hard for everything in life.  While I had a life of a privilege at home, in New York City all my special talents were nothing in comparison to all the talented people who lived here.  None the less, I can’t say I didn’t succeed, I got my Master Degree, studied numerous spiritual disciplines from yoga, mediation and Reiki and was in leadership training where  I was highly effective.  In fact, I felt like I was a front runner in most of what I did, so when I got married a little over 6 years ago, I was even courageous enough to start my own life coaching business.

People I knew for those 2 decades of living in the USA were amazed by my results and I am sure some of my friends from Montenegro.  After slowing down a tiny bit to birth and raise my two boys, I felt ready to scale my business feeling like I knew a thing or two about how to create your own happiness in life.  And then, on my 40th birthday my dad had a stroke at the age of 61.  I began to see how success and failure, happiness and loss were so intertwined that it was difficult to isolate which one of those experiences vibrates the strongest so that I can fully honor it and move through it.  Luckily for years of doing Vipassana’s 10 day silent meditation retreats I am able to move through the difficult parts of life, understanding that things always and continually change.  But this is where fear becomes stronger too because the more I have, the more it feels I have to lose.  I know all the moms out there can relate to this, as our fear drastically increases after we have children.

Why am I calling this blog a Royal Wedding?  Because ever since Kate Middleton, who shares my birth date, married her prince William and I married my husband Jason, I have been obsessing around what it must be like to be in her shoes, to be a royal. Of course, I was uncomfortable with my obsession, even envy, so I tried to set it aside, push it down and not worry about it.  I clearly remember in one of the moms’ groups how many moms were doing the same thing: looking at their kids age and comparing it with George and Charlotte.  Yet, when William and Kate had their third child, I realized, the similarities in our stories are no more and it was time to move on.  That is when Meghan Markle came along – a true American success story, the modern life fairy tale.  Here she was, someone who began to succeed in Hollywood, stands up for woman’s rights and is now marrying a prince.

For days, or even weeks, I tried to not think about it but I was truly uncomfortable, so much so, I even told my husband I wanted to explore my jealousy once and for all.  Watching numerous TV interviews and commentaries on the subject didn’t help either: words like: American, commoner, royal, princess, were all doing a number on me and I couldn’t quite let it simmer enough to see the wisdom that it could bring.  I truly believe that anything we feel, any strong emotion is here to tell us something and that the way to hear it is to be willing to explore it and be with it.  I don’t think people should act out of emotions, on contrary, but I do feel emotions are necessary and full of lessons we need to learn to move forward in life.

Everyone had an opinion about the royal wedding, I even saw titles where people go as far as predicting if this marriage would last or not, when the baby will be born, will Meghan be able to sustain the pressure, but also the boring aspects of the life she is about to embark on.  The more I saw, the more I realized that what we think we know and see and the life they really lead are not one and the same.  Biographies, even when they written in partnership with the person who is a subject are never objective and I believed Prince Harry when he said in an interview: “people think they know us, but they have no idea.” When I recently watched documentaries on Princess Diana, I was shocked that she didn’t seem more confident, outspoken and extrovert given the way people spoke of her.  And also, the scandals over the years with royal family were mind boggling to me drawing me more and more into the life of people I actually will never even know.IMG_6795

All that aside, my discomfort over the past few days in anticipation of the royal wedding was growing.  I couldn’t help but feel encouraged by a story of possibility: a young girl born in LA, already divorced and 36 is about to enter royal family.  Perhaps now all the issues that she deeply cares about will be that much closer to being resolved as she now has a platform, popularity and the means to attend to them.  How amazing that must be to get married not just for love but for the mission that you have in the world, I thought.  And then, the envy hit me again.  It hit me hard.  I discussed it with my husband too and tried to use my own coaching training to get to the bottom of it.  I will never forget a relative who once told me that jealousy was a low vibration feeling and I remember I instantly started pretending I wasn’t jealous.  My mother would call me on it, even make fun of me for it, but deep inside, this wasn’t a laughing matter to me – I actually felt the pain.  And then I realized:  the way out is through, let me let myself allow this.

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I turned on the Royal Wedding.  I so wanted to be there, to be a part of it, to be in Meghan’s shoes only to feel what it must be like to live a kind of life where you truly bust through limitations of the mind, the so-called “upper limits.”  I was hanging out with my younger one, both of us congested, with runny noses, watching the rerun.  Interesting phenomenon, the more I was letting myself be jealous and leaned into the pain I felt about it, the more I started grieving my own lost opportunities.  Suddenly, the finger that was pointing at the royal family, began to point at me and looking with eyes open wide at what I am doing with my life.  I felt  desperate at first: I am 40, I am happily married and love my husband and my 2 boys, what is it that I am still longing for?  I wanted the attention, the status, the privilege and the more I allowed myself to want it, the more my life looked like I can never get to it.

As Meghan walked down the aisle and the camera showed the picture of her mom crying, I felt the emotions of change, letting go to receive, growth, life.  Suddenly, I no longer witnessed royals and celebrities but people and then I didn’t see anyone at all, I saw myself and my desires to contribute, to be more and do more.  Instantly, I allowed myself to melt into that everything I see is my own creation and it had me feel deep in my bones that whatever people say or think about me – which often stopped me dead in my tracks – is really their own creation.  I was free.  I am free.  I can’t be 30 again, I can’t change who I am or the life I led so far, but I can make the most out of what is left.  After all, this is what I tell all of my clients and was brutally humbled into feeling it myself.

I could’ve waited to write this blog another day, spent time perfecting it, but I realized, it is when we wait that we experience life passing us by.  After watching a royal wedding today, I got reminded that we create our life and our own modern fairy tale every day and if there is something we can do to move through our emotions, to speak our minds, that we should not wait another second to do that.

To all of you who read messy blog, and regardless of how you feel about the royal wedding, what do you now want to do that you absolutely don’t want to put off?