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Archive for the tag “society”

Racing To November

Rushing through these months. Every day politics, politics and more politics. I think what bothers me more than anything is that I am coming a face to face with the fact I know NOTHING about the political process in this country.
Through misinformation or misunderstanding, what I thought to be true is false or it has an addendum.

Transparency is non-existent. One could easily fall into feeling like “It is pointless, why bother?” However, we cannot give up. It is up to US to fix this “structure” that we have been told stands and operates a certain way.

We need to understand and repair what is broken, in order to return to the business at hand in our lives. We should not have to wonder if we are successful in putting an individual in office who said they stood for what we liked or thought, once in the position will unmask and go the other direction. If that happens we should have a rapid way of getting that same individual out of that position, of which he or she is clearly not able or willing to do.

We want to have the ability to adjust, adapt, and promote change, well it cannot happen when someone is put in a position for LIFE! Hell we are oftentimes not even capable of deciding what looks good on our own bodies throughout our entire lives, let alone decide what will be good for our country and most of her people when we are dead and gone, at the tender age of 80 plus!

Our officials, elected AND appointed, should have the ability to start to make changes and even stay around long enough to see them implemented and start to take shape, but they should not be in office long enough to wonder or try to remember why  that something was implemented in the first place. TERMS people; everyone should serve a reasonable term, and always remember just because you can doesn’t always mean you should.

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Facing Your Fear

The bump in the night awakens you, the light at the end of a dark corridor, the still quiet in the middle of the day; what may not seem to be very much to others is major for you if there is something that frightens you.

Fear is a peculiar thing; sometimes it is blatant, sometimes it is subtle, it can be paralyzing, or it can make you turn and run. However, it does  have one common denominator, it stops you.

We resist change because we do not know what the outcome will be. We know what present conditions are;they may be bad, they may be tolerable, they may even be good as far as we are concerned. Therefore, we can be alright with present circumstances staying the same. For even if the situation is bad we fool ourselves by saying, “Well at least I know what I am up against.” That can and will console you IF you know for certain that things will be worse. Remember you MUST KNOW things will be worse.

None of us knows what is going to happen next in our society; we all have hopes, wishes, aspirations and even preferences. If you are on the bottom you may want to be on top, if you are on top you may well prefer to stay there. Wherever you are, you concede that an effort will be necessary to change or preserve your spot. We all have to know that  CHANGE is going to come into our lives. It has to, for it is the way of life.

I recall how many individuals laughed and made light of Rodney King’s statement, ” Can’t we all just get along?” People laughed at a simple statement coming from an individual, who many would like to think of as, not being all that bright. How could someone like that get philosophical. Yet my Christian friends are familiar with “Out of the mouths of babes…” We are willing to believe a child could have wisdom and insight, but not a man who may have had his very life flash before him, as he managed to stay alive after being beaten within an inch of his life. Save your cynicism, for even a drunk person will sober up a bit after having ice cold water thrown all over him. Think about a life altering experience YOU may have had in your years upon this Earth, didn’t you walk away with something positive, insightful, or inspirational to say. I think A Brush With Death has that type of effect on one.

Yes, absolutely we can all get along, we just have to want to.

License To Kill

Remember that movie? Well I don’t; I was never a James Bond fan, I vaguely remember the song, and I had to research it to find out who was singing the song. It was Gladys Knight. I also found out that Bob Dylan wrote a song with the same title different lyrics. Neither is pertinent to this piece, except they share the same title.

Who are these people charged with the task “To Protect and Serve”? In a  time of controversy or civil unrest we may even ask ,” Who do they protect and serve?” Think about this one; what do you think about police in general and specifically related to YOU?

Many years ago I thought about becoming a Los Angeles County Sheriff. I did a little research, registered to take the exam, but when the time came I decided that I was not really interested in being a part of law enforcement, all I wanted was the money that was promised in salary. I knew at that point in my young life, money alone should not be the reason one gets into law enforcement.

I had a friend who went a bit farther than I did, she was a beautiful young woman with gorgeous hair. What impacted me, what made me know that she was serious was, when she cut her hair off to wear a short cropped afro because she wanted to be a part of that community. She did the ride-alongs first, she took the exam, and even passed the interview. On her was to the psychological testing, the next thing I heard was she decided against moving on. Now we can guess at or assume what may have changed her mind, but this was just a  personal tid-bit as to why I am here writing this piece now. My turning point was the idea that one day I might have to pull a person from a car who had been fatally injured, or having to aim my weapon at a suspect with the intent to “stop” them and by mistake or intentionally end their life, or knocking on the door of some unfortunate survivor to tell them a loved one would not be returning home to them.

Police/law enforcement officers are a special breed, in my opinion I was NOT that “kind” of special. Strong, stoic, yet compassionate. Honorable and trustworthy, calm and well trained. I am so very happy we have them, but when you find them abusing the power they are given, it frightens, angers, and appalls you. Why shouldn’t it. They are entrusted with our lives.  When they take that power and use it incorrectly, use it against the very ones who are looking to them for help; what do you say about individuals like that? The officer who demeans a man in the presence of his child, the individual who places an individuals life in danger by using a hold that has been forbidden and illegal for decades, the individual who hides/misplaces evidence, the wife beater, the alcohol abuser and yes this same individual still has a badge. Common sense, sensitivity, and reasoning are no longer the tools of their trade. Yet the public is told these are community leaders and turn to them for help.  These are the individuals who look at their positions and think in a manner that demonstrates they think they do in fact have a license to kill and it is open season on citizens. How safe do you feel?

A Matter Of Trust

Have you ever been betrayed? Of course you have. You recall how badly you felt. There was a lot of emotion involved no doubt, there was anger, there was hurt and pain. Time was the only thing that would help to neutralize or erase the damage done. Then once the time had passed, what was necessary to get that individual back in good graces with you. Hold that thought and carry it with you throughout this piece.

Being a 54 year old American black woman, I am once again having to reach back and  regain my composure. I have a husband, I raised 2 sons, I have brothers, I have nephews, and then there are my friends; I must try to exist with a real monster hanging over my head, and over the heads of people I know, love , and care about. Understand the use of the word monster here, and if you don’t get it, look it up.  Fear… monsters are effective because they control us with  our very own fear.  They need not do a thing, but make their presence known and our very own psyche will do the rest.

There are some of us  who want more, so we choose to go to where the monsters can be made more tangible. Theme parks, haunted houses, and movies help provide us with a hands-on scare. However, you have to say one is still able to get a portion or even their fill and walk away. That is not the case with the monster I spoke of earlier though. This monster is ever present lurking in the dark corridors, the recesses of your mind, and maybe to some of your surprise he comes at you in broad daylight too. You don’t know exactly how to fight him because the mention of his name suggests, you are imagining things, monsters aren’t real. The “naysayers” would have you believe just that, I ask you how do you explain the dastardly deeds then? How do you defend and protect yourself from something like that. The moment you give in and say,” well maybe I am over-reacting, maybe it isn’t the way I think it is, you get hit once again. Later you ask yourself how am I ever supposed to be able to trust again.

The human spirit is resilient, but it can only be trampled over, ripped and torn, beaten up and knocked down so many times, before one invariably will lash out. The monster never thinks about that, the monster is always in the pursuit mode. Yet think of the many monster films you have watched over the years, in the end the monster usually get destroyed.

You have to realize we are talking about real monsters here, not the ones in the movies.  The monster that has treated us badly, the monster that has abused us, the monster that has lied to us and we have gotten hurt because of the monster. Then the monster says, “I have changed. I am not like I used to be, I will show you.” After all the monster has done to us, how do we forgive him, how do we begin to trust that which has been so terrible to us, when all we have is a history of being mistreated. All we want from the monster is to be left alone and at volatile times we  do want to see the monster destroyed in order for us to go back to our lives and just live. Even though we’d love to have the same outcome as in the movies, this is real life. We still have the tendency to expect the same result in real life as we get in the movies, it does not always hold true.

 

Worn Out Welcomes

This should be short and sweet.  Only a couple points to make; first don’t do it, second if you do leave quietly. End story right? However, when you factor in _____________ the list becomes virtually endless. Saturday Night Live did a spoof of 1950’s horror movies and theirs was  a trailer called, “The Thing That Wouldn’t Go Home”.  Complete with cheesy music, obvious lines blatantly suggesting departure should take place NOW, and timed screams, “The Thing”  just did not get it.

When you  talk about a guest in your home well it can be touchy. Yet once they are gone you can do things to avoid a  recurrence. Making sure you aren’t available for the next visit, risk friendship by telling them the truth about the previous visit, etc. What do you do when it is a resident in your neighborhood? What if “The Thing” is your next door neighbor who owns his home and your horror movie isn’t about him going home, it is about him and/or his behavior going away, period?

“The Thing” has, in essence, worn out his welcome in the neighborhood. He has not taken the subtle and/or blatant hints. His defiance has upset the cozy environment, now something must be done about him.

They say “You Can’t Fight City Hall”, but you can. The problem is you have to keep at it long enough for two things to happen; 1.city hall realizes you have a problem, 2. you will not go away until they do something about it. Depending on  the size of the city will determine how much noise you must make and how long you have to keep at it.

Sometimes in the midst of situations you may wake to find that you have now become “The Thing That Wouldn’t…. No one ever said that being right or correct keeps you safe from being labeled that which is unwanted.  The truth is having to make someone perform at a higher level is not always welcome. How many calls or complaints from one individual constitutes an annoyance? You think, “I am only  asking that they do their job”, while the party on the receiving end is thinking, “Will you let me do my job”.

When it is finally over and all is said and done, you may come to realize that all that you have accomplished has not had the affect you hoped for.  Individuals who push to a point where all one wants from them is for them to be gone are clueless;  while you can push them out the door or kick them in the behind, that does not mean you will cure that invasive part of them and keep them from doing the very same thing again. You must come to grips with the fact they were never really welcome, just merely tolerated, and now they have reached zero-tolerance.

Hoardertown, U.S.A.

Duluth, Georgia quiet suburb northeast of Atlanta. Part of Gwinnett County one of the largest if not the largest counties in Georgia. Diverse in a demographic sense and down-right picturesque. However, if you look closely we have an on-going problem. Hoarders love Duluth.

I live next door to a hoarder. Now over the years I have to say, I must consider myself very fortunate. I say this because there is a bit of gypsy in me (I have moved around). Coming from a family that stayed in one house almost all of my childhood(and my mother still lives in that home), I have to take into account changes are minimal when you stay in one place. Neighbors become familiar and if you are lucky they are extended family.
While I grew up with that, in my adult life the experience has been different.

Searching for an ideal location, jobs, and economics have played a role on my semi-transient lifestyle. People want to believe they have a right to do whatever they please in the place they call HOME. While in many instances this is true, one must remember one small addendum should be included in that thought pattern; it only holds true as long as you do NOT interfere with others right to enjoy their respective homes.

Many hoarders have mental defects, but can still function somewhat normal. Therefore, their environment looks one way to them and quite different to others. My hoarder neighbor is no different. His living space, the exterior of his mothers home screams to passers-by,” there’s a problem at this house”.
What must it be like to be lost in illusions, what must it be like to have nothing so you imagine the rubbish and refuse you pick up along the road is important.  Couple that with his identity is directly connected to his “stuff” and that “stuff” is worthless thereby translating onto “he” is worthless.
I on one hand pity him but on the other hand want nothing more than for him,and all that is associated with him to disappear.
I wish I could say I don’t hate him, but that is not true. Hate is the first word I would associate with this man and his mother. It is a genuine effort for me to rise above this distasteful feeling. I do not want to relinquish the power the bad thought pattern associated with the word “hate” holds , but do not want to be the bigger person  either. I would try like to see them suffer because they deserve it and I am further angered by his mere existence and this has made me become more primitive. On my better days my wish is for him to simply vanish.
One must always remember that others have rights;this fact makes our society great but during your personal battles the appreciation for this is not foremost on your mind. As I combed through city and county codes, as I contacted agency after agency, as my frustration mounted I saw how our great system allows people who clearly have mental defects to walk and live among us. We, the so-called normal ones ,those if us who are only mildly deranged and manage to remember to take our meds; we must endure and accept people who whether consciously or unconsciously would deny or interfere with us exercising those very same rights. You run into a brick wall most of the time and heaven forgive you if you be incorrect on any level as you seek a remedy for your problematic neighbor. It feels like you are being punished for making these agencies work.

Solution the pen is mightier than the sword . Enlist news services and social media. Contact city, county, state representatives make them work. If you must endure this annoyances, literally let them feel your pain. I believe wholeheartedly the reason we have the animal hoarders and hoarders in general is because it take so very long to get to step one in the process of making these people comply to laws, rules and regulations, and if you let up for even a moment the process has to begin again. No one wants their lives to revolve around such negativity but you must be aware if you stop your problem will not only return, it will persist and worsen.

Uh… Discussion About Race

Well here we go.. AGAIN. I stood uneasy and in disbelief! Just when I think he cannot be more insensitive and  tactless he proves me wrong. I was livid and sweating bullets at the same time. I mean this guy is a friend and a valued customer. How can I recoup this obvious flub. My mind raced. The more time that passed, the farther from an answer my mind wandered. At last on a seemingly good note we all parted.

On the way home making general conversation ,I could NOT wait for an opportunity to tell my spouse how terrible I thought he was. I had the adjectives and nouns lined up. I was prepared to be as condescending as possible, for he needed to know, just because you feel and think one way it doesn’t give you the right to just go off on these tangents with people you claim to like…

I began with a simple question to bait the trap. “Did you realize that you were talking to someone white when you said that”, I asked. He replied, “yes..” Well with both barrel blazing I prepared to attack, but he through me for a loop and I had to re-group and re-consider. He continued, ” Why do you think it is that we in this country time and time again, talk about having an open forum about race yet it never seems to take place?” Whoa, whoa wait a minute.. he was actually making sense and in a fashion I was ill prepared and possibly ill-equipped to answer…

I am driving home, after a weekend of football controversy about bullying and misuse of words and charges of racism, and here I am being confronted with my own possible missed opportunities to address subject matter that arises again and again. I thought he was being mean when in fact he was doing what we on one occasion or another like to say we believe we need, to have a discussion about race.

Well it’s not the time or place.. question when is it? Things can get heavy and deep when you examine them “head on”. I was so concerned about what my/our Caucasian friend would think about the brash comments my spouse made. I didn’t bother to give either of them credit of being the types of people that, one hopes, open forums create and foster. It did not occur to me that perhaps they were already in the place I say I dream will come to be one day, before I move beyond this Earth. I did not consider that maybe THEY had truly evolved. I was too busy being uncomfortable and judgmental of them both.

When is the right or proper time to have this discussion? Dare we be so exact? In a classroom sounds good, a place where ideas are meant to be exchanged. At work, certainly not unless some problem has arisen. In church, that again is a safe place because no one would  be confrontational in the house of the Lord. What about at home and not your home? That is something to ponder. You see all the examples I gave were easily identified as basically safe or non-safe.  However, out of these antiseptic, tagged areas one doesn’t know what might occur and that makes one reluctant to broach such  a subject in that type of environment. Not in your house out of your comfort zone,  anything can happen. Would YOU take that chance?

The biggest problem I see with a discussion of race, is the subject matter is uncomfortable and volatile.  You want to be expressive and honest, but at what risk. Can you be truly open with people you care about, work with, attend classes and church with..? The truth is most of us walk around and ignore race until it affects us directly and depending who you are, the frequency of those direct affects varies.

When racial tension hits the headlines, there are naturally more rumblings about the problems, solutions, and yes the existence of racial issues. Case in point Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin, the Miami Dolphins, and the NFL. There are rumblings of bullying, hazing, and most prevalent racism. I, being a football fan, have an image in my mind of a football player. I cringe when I see rules changing in the game, even knowing it is to protect the players. It is a rough and tumble game, and you have to be resilient and tough. Yet we are talking hits here, when one goes on the field he has his body armor, but what about the psychological armor. The helmet protects your head, but what do you have inside of yourself to protect your “head”? What about sportsmanship, team camaraderie, and here’s a little blast from the past word for you  R-E-S-P-E-C-T! (I will cover this particular incident  more detailed on a different post, for now it merely serves as an example.)

The truth is we do not know how to communicate with one another in most instances, so what would happen if we start a discussion about something that makes most of us uneasy. There would likely be arguments, harsh and hurtful words, perhaps a fight would ensue, but maybe something positive could result from this dialog. Never know unless you try, and remember it doesn’t necessarily need to be a planned event. However, you MUST make every effort to “keep-it-clean”.

Completely Wrong

Thinking about us, human beings, I am forever amazed. Tragic events unfold daily. Someone gets angry in traffic and an all out riot erupts. “Our” House of Representatives sit in Washington D.C with their genitals in their hands while the citizens of the United States of America suffer, trying to place the blame elsewhere. I say,” be responsible, do your job”, but wait it isn’t that easy when you realize that we all are nothing more than high functioning illiterates.

Yes, face it folks there is something wrong with each and everyone of us. In some cases something MAJOR! Press us and disaster is seconds away from happening. How did we get here? Well to my target audience(everybody) there was a time in my life that  some people who we see on the streets today, given the generic title of homeless were not running rampant in the streets. How many individuals have you personally encountered (directly or indirectly) that exhibit behavior that you as a layman would deem worthy of  controlled observation? Realizing that if you can only answer one, most of the population can say the same.

Homeless is an unfair and oversimplified term; it covers former veterans, unemployed, under-medicated, runaways, many individuals whose only common link is they do not have a residence. It angers me. When I was a little girl in Kansas I remember seeing a man who was at that time called a “hobo”, maybe some of you all from Southern Cal remember “Hobo Kelly”? Hobo was endearing,  he rode trains carried a handkerchief knapsack and smiled at you harmlessly. As time moved forward the hobo was no longer endearing as the fight for survival became more and more challenging, the hobo became frightening and dangerous. The term disappeared the individual did not, a simple name change came about and his identity was forever altered.

I think of how I observed children when my kids were young, and how I noticed our society placing individuals with special needs in schools/classrooms with individual who did not have those same challenges. On the one hand you say great, acceptance but on the other maybe there is neglect. Children can be cruel, they say what is on their minds, I wonder if adequate research was done before it was decided a child who is in a wheelchair is going to be okay with self and accepted by others, if you put him or her into an environment where they are going to stand out.  Then if it is okay for the child in the wheelchair what about the child who is not learning at the same rate. We try to sugar coat the world, but the truth is that child may very well be there, in that seemingly NORMAL environment, because of a lawsuit rather than benevolence. In our fight for NORMAL we may be creating something  dangerous.

What about Sue in the cubicle next to you.  Did you know she was in the throws of yet another divorce, number three, and she has been on xanax so long she takes them like vitamins? Oh course not she comes to work, she does her job, and doesn’t bother anyone, that is as long as she takes her meds. Joe who is a recovering alcoholic has lunch with Sam everyday, he knows Sam needs help because Joe has been there. However, Sam is in denial Sam is great at what he does and Sam is the boss. Does this sound familiar, could these people be people you work with?

The children, the co-workers, the homeless; we have become so insensitive to our fellow man because we are all wrapped up in problems of our own, and we don’t realize how messed up we all are because we have to function and go on. That’ my point. One of my favorite sayings, “nothing is completely wrong, even a stopped clock is right twice a day”. Oh how I found renewed hope when I read that, but now practically everything is digital so when a clock stops working the screen goes blank. I hope that is not what has happened to us in the “community of man”.  I know better, I know we are not at the point of completely wrong. After all, we are still making watches and clocks with dials.

“The Butler” A Review and Beyond

A couple of days ago, I saw The Butler. No matter how much one thinks they know about history, there will inevitably be something that rises to the surface to let you know you haven’t scratched it.

At first I did not pay close attention to the demographic of the people in the theater. However there was a delay due to technical difficulty, which gave me an opportunity to actually look around and see who was there.  My friend and I went to an mid-morning show; it was very balanced by gender and race, the age range was (in my opinion) across the board 50-somethings and you can imagine why.

Based on the life-story of Eugene Allen; the movie had all the intensity and impact of that which is genuine. It grabs you within the first five minutes and jars your soul, then it slowly brings you back with astounding and amazing experiences. You will be oblivious to the fact, this is not a real person. End credits and research afterwards brought this back into my recollection.

I tried to think as I watched the story unfold; overcome with emotion I abandoned any hope of connecting facts and information, the objective now was for me to allow myself to simply feel. How must one feel to be opinion-less in an environment of the opinionated, colorblind in a sea of color coded reality, silent and invisible all the while wanting to scream.

The movie began when the character Cecil was a child, the era when my own father was a child; my heart ached as I came to terms with what was probably my father’s reality during that period in America. I tried to escape my emotions as I watched the Presidents, I was aware of, and the events that were taking place during their terms in office. Civil Rights Movement, Assassinations, Vietnam War, Impeachment and “Reganomics”. I reflected on how these historic events touched my life and affected me. I could not fathom what it would have been like, right there at the pulse of these very same events and be stifled. Life does not allow spectators, you HAVE to be an active participant and there are no exceptions. The film did a great job of depicting the turmoil and challenges of an individual placed in a position that went against numerous natural and human reactions.

I wondered what went on in the hearts and minds of an overall unjust people, in the presence of the people their group actively oppressed and harmed. I questioned if they had any idea about what risks they took, entrusting their very lives and lives of their loved ones, with people who had nothing but  overwhelming reason to want to destroy their very being.  I thought,” what a sad, sick society we live(d) in.” Then I related to the “two faces” one must display(and generally does) in the presence of the group in power.

I wondered what the audience in the theater with me thought of the film. All of my friends and family who have seen “The Butler“heralded it wonderful, in short. It is a box office smash, therefore it can be deemed a success. The movie made a tremendous mark upon me and I only hope it has the same effect on all who see it. If that happens it then can be said, “mission accomplished”.

Casualties

When you think of a casualty what is the first thing that comes to mind? This writer connects it to war and loss. Well there are many types of wars and even more types of loss.

As we age our relationships and connections change, they evolve at an astounding rate. Perhaps we notice the changes more so because of what we are preoccupied with, CHANGE. I was reviewing photos and articles surrounding the March on Washington and came across  something that “blew my mind”.  There is so much amazing and rich history surrounding that event that one should not be surprised at what they see, but fifty years ago I was not quite 4 years old. Alive but not aware of the world outside the protective walls of my home and the arms of my parents.

There in the midst of my scrolling through pages I came across a shot of James Baldwin, he was flanked by what was considered “Hollywood Royalty” . I sighed and wished that people cared about one another again. I wished that we could look outside our own personal needs. Then I symbolically shook myself; I had to go back to that photo when I realized who I saw in that same photo and I had to confirm it. There he was James Baldwin small, in stature only, with Marlon Brando on one side and Charleton Heston on the other.  Gun toting, “they can pry it from my cold dead hand” , NRA poster boy, Charleton Heston! Now I grew up with Charleton Heston attached to the image of Moses; surely you cannot play a good man, a man of God like Charleton Heston did, and not be “good”.  However in adult life I saw another side of Mr. Heston, and I didn’t like it or HIM anymore. After learning of his politics and affiliations with the NRA and his stance on guns, as much as I LOVED ” The Ten Commandment” I could never quite view the film the same.

I asked myself what happened to the man who was pictured attending and participating in an event that screamed to the United States of America and alerted world JUSTICE, EQUALITY, and FREEDOM must be for all or none truly possess it. The first thing that came to mind was he got old, a casualty of age. He was not unique for if we are fortunate enough to continue living, age will take prisoners of us all from one aspect or another. Yet we eliminate or overlook the positive aspect of aging, we look on and fear loss of the familiar.

You see it all around; in politics it is especially clear, we put these people in office because they “SAY” they understand us and know what we want and need. Adamantly insisting “THEY” will deliver. “THEY” lie, practically(I am being generous here) all of “THEM”. Once they have secured their position they go about and pursue their own agenda and at the top of that list is to make sure “THEY” have all “THEY”want need and desire… and we look on with shock and anger.

I wanted to be amazed by Charleton Heston, but then I realized I actually knew about him and the March on Washington. I had chosen to have selective amnesia, I could pull it off because I am becoming a part of the group I refer to as “older”. There it was my built in excuse.  My conscious would not allow me to overlook the fact things that I exuberantly sought out in my 20’s have now somehow lessened on my priority list in my 50’s.

Today I want to challenge you to think beyond yourself; think of your children and grandchildren, remember being younger having hopes and dreams. Think of what or who came into your young life and tried to bash the gifts of your youth for no apparent reason. Gather those thoughts and look at them closely; recall (and admit to it) thinking “old bastard” and know now someone sees that in you when you get ugly especially.  On the flip side to the younger folks who read this, if you are fortunate, your day is coming; the next gray haired individual you cut off in traffic, chose to use offensive language in the presence of with NO regard, the very image/representation of your parent or grandparent today, WILL be you tomorrow. Keep having hopes and dreams of something beyond YOU. Resist becoming a casualty.

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