What is a Modern Farmer

Two years ago, I was hit with a powerful waterfall of emotions and tears as I blurted out I wanted to be a Modern Farmer, in the last hour of the last day of a Sonia Choquette six-sensory workshop. A Modern Farmer, what the heck does that mean?!! Aside from the magazine of the same name, I was very unclear about where this explosion of feelings came from, and laughed and scoffed the entire way home, no way could I be a modern farmer, oh the audacity!

Truth be told, once I uttered those words, I felt as if I had been hit by lightning; the spark had been lit but I had no idea what to do with it. A modern farmer, you say!? Oh stop.

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Moments after declaring my Modern Farming ambitions

I did spend the first few years of my life on a dairy farm in Huntley, Illinois, although I have little-to-no-memory of it. But now that both my parents were dead, the pull to be in the country was strong, much to my chagrin. I fought it, dug my heels in, as I really believed I was supposed to be in Chicago. I was a Big City Gal, in fact, I was afraid of the country and all its creatures that go boo in the night; the wide open spaces made me terribly nervous. Give me a deserted city street at midnight any time over a quiet country, star-lit night. Once while house-sitting for my brother and his wife in Hebron, Illinois, I called 911 because I heard noises and was certain I was about to be terrorized. After a brief inspection, the policemen said to me, “do you realize that’s the wind?”

I called the cops on the wind.

There had been such tremendous and rapid loss at this point in my life; jobs, addresses, jewelry, my truck — my mom — and through all this I could feel the magnetic pull back to the country. Or maybe it was fear? Or, I know, it was shame, because how embarrassing to lose my everything, so why not run to the country with my tail between my legs? And what was I supposed to do, pray tell, become a tomato farmer? Can I support myself on tomatoes? Maybe a sprout farmer? My track record with plants has never been great and now I think I can be a sprout farmer? Fat Chance. I may have been sitting squarely in the farmlands of Northern Illinois-Southern Wisconsin, but I had a snowball’s chance in hell to become a farmer, modern or old-timey, at this point.

I filed the day dream away and continued my desperate search of WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE?!

Days after Sonia’s workshop, it was Thanksgiving, and thanks to a wonderful invite from my generous ex-husband, Reed, I made my way back to San Miguel de Allende and then to Austin, which I now call home. I quickly forgot all about my farming declaration and moved on to the task of cleaning up the wreckage from my past. I was a fairly miserable girl when I was married to Reed and had felt terribly guilty about how our marriage ended. It ended badly. Certainly not the worst divorce in the world, but I never got over the guilt for my bad behavior and selfish ways. The years I lived in Illinois after the divorce were one big alcohol-fueled guilt trip. This was my opportunity to make amends for my harmful behavior.

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Whether he would agree or not, I believe I have made amends to the best of my abilities, first and foremost by being kind to the deserving Reed, and then by trying to be there in ways I had not been in the past. Not everyone gets a shot at this, nor would many want one, and even though it’s been messy and painful all over again, I am super-grateful I had this opportunity to make right a few of my wrongs. This has helped me to grow up. I like growing up, it feels good.

In early August of this year, after returning once again to San Miguel, I overheard Reed on the phone making a deal to sell his Mexican cows to a factory farm in Northern Mexico. Wait, wait, whoa, whoa WHAT?! I said as he hung up the phone.

Reed purchased his ranch in Dolores Hidalgo after we married in 2005; there were little or few cattle when he purchased it, and he spent the past 10 years adding to and cleaning up the breed of Limousin cattle to create a fine, handsome, beautiful breed of cattle; in addition to drilling for water and creating a majestic, sprawling, lush, 250-hectare Guanajuato rancho. The sound of the wind is amazing out here; I would never call the cops on it.

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Majestic Rancho Santo Niño

Given my recent experience with a thyroid condition and the need to eat paleo, yet finding little-to-no resources for grass-fed beef in San Miguel de Allende, I chimed in with, “we need grass-fed beef right here in San Miguel and that’s what you have. Why don’t we make meat right here instead of shipping them off to a feed lot, where the cows are mostly wanted only for their arrachera?” Reed responded, “If you can find someone to process the cows, you can have some cows.”

The next day I was at Via Organica, aka, Central Mexico’s Whole Foods, and within two weeks, the team was assembled to produce grass-fed beef.

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The handsome Limousin cattle of Rancho Santo Niño

And so began Rancho Santo Niño.

I had spent the past year living with the cows at Reed’s ranch in Texas; I practiced reiki on them, played crystal bowls for them, and especially loved watching the Texas sunsets with them within an earshot. I loved those cows and had (have) great regard for them. Reed says, “cows are dumb.” I say no they are not! They are amazing mothers and any creature that is a wonderful mother is not dumb.

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Playing the crystal bowls off the back of the pick-up for the Texas cows

While I have great respect for the cows and their place in the world, I do know why these cows are here. They are fuel for the people. Oh but how to get them to the people?!

I think factory farming is an unspeakable, horrible injustice to all the animals churned out through them, in turn turning out sick food; to which some people have responded, yeah but you kill the cows too! This is true, but how the cows are treated until it is their time to become fuel for the people is where I want to do it different. I see the hidden videos of how animals are slaughtered; it bothers me tremendously as well. Have you see the Temple Grandin’s movie? She understood this on an entirely different level.

The hard-working cattle ranchers out there producing responsibly raised grass-fed beef are my inspiration, and I don’t pretend for one moment to be a fraction of a rancher, nor skilled tradesperson that they are, but I have learned amazing things through them and with my own experience of working with the ranchers and butchers of Dolores Hidalgo. I have thrown my hat in the ring of producing responsibly-raised grass-fed beef and this makes me incredibly proud and I am excited as I forge ahead and learn new things everyday. I am in on every step of this process and believe it has made me a kinder person, a more mindful person and the gratitude I feel each day when I drink my bone broth is a feeling I don’t want to shake anytime soon.

Producing grass-fed beef been a profound experience thus far.

Cattle ranching done right can save the world’s global warming demise, so says Allan Savory; his TED Talk is extremely moving and inspiring.

Oh and that declaration I made two years ago? I suppose it came true…

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Remember that time my dog was kidnapped in Mexico?

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Friday evening, 7:30pm, I slipped into a bit of a staring jag after I paid for the piece of cake at Café Rama. A middle-aged Mexican couple caught my attention, eating their dinner at a small, window-side table. They were leaning in towards each other as she chatted a mile a minute, both eating their dinner, which is what caught my eye.  The kicker was that the woman was engaged in an enlightening conversation on her phone, tucked under her chin, as she ate her dinner looking straight through her husband. “How odd,” I mumbled as I gazed at them both.  “Aqui tienes,” the joven behind the counter handed me a piece of carrot cake and out the door I went.

Swooooooosh, I stepped into slow motion as my head spun around. I looked to my right, I looked to my left, Henry was not near the door, where I had left him moments ago. Just as I’ve done a million times over the years. Henry isn’t a roamer, he doesn’t trot away, he never leaves my side, well, not since I had him neutered in 1987 –errr 2004. He’s a very well-behahaved dog and he’s also 13 years old, so he’s in no hurry, ever.  I stood there in a stupor; my fever was still high and I really was in no shape to be out in public; I had been battling the worst flu of my life all week, and in fact this trip out was to finally buy some drugs at the farmacia because I could take the pain no longer. My thinking was fuzzy. “Where did I leave him?” I spun around in a circle. I went back inside and asked if they saw my dog. “Yes, we allow dogs, he’s probably here.” I took a spin around the place, Henry was not inside, which I knew because Henry doesn’t go anywhere without asking me. I was speechless.

This is not a busy street, in fact it was about two blocks away from home. I went up one block and two mariachi fellas were practicing on a bench. “Have you seen a little white dog run by here, wearing a leash?” “No, no ma’am.” I went to the other side of the block where a family had pulled their truck over to sell their hand-carved wood headboards, “did you see a little white dog walk by here, wearing a leash?” No, no dog.

Henry had vanished.

I was in shock when I arrived back home a few minutes later and asked Reed if Henry had arrived before me, “What? No, Henry’s not here.” Holy crap. Henry was dognapped!

Dognapping is big, easy money in Mexico; our little pampered pooches are a big bullseye for easy money to desperate thieves. They know all they have to do is swipe a dog, keep it for a few days for panic to surge, call for ransom, then arrange a hand off.

The first thing I did on this rainy Friday night was make a sign to post in Facebook. Then I posted the sign in Adopciones Perrunas San Miguel de Allende and Rescue San Miguel: Saving Lives One Dog at a Time. It was a Friday night, so there was not much else I could do. Except worry. And toss around all night.

Were they being mean to him? Was he out in the rain? Will they feed him? Was a angry dog going to beat him up? Or rape him? All my fears became louder and louder as the weekend inched by. This is a nasty little crime, yet don’t expect any help from the police; there are actual people being kidnapped all over this country for Pete’s Sake. Ahhh, but the social networks are alive and kicking, and many of my friends and acquaintances shared the message of the missing Henry in no time. How grateful I am for lightning-fast stretches of the social networks. I met some new friends along the way too!

And now, the waiting game. A little time needs to pass; the panic needs to surge. This is Mexican time and do NOT try to rush it.

Saturday morning I put signs up all over town and placed an ad at the radio station. The entire town listens to the local radio station, so when you lose anything or need to make an announcement, the radio station is where you go. I spent the rest of the weekend pacing and trying to recover from the flu; it didn’t work out so well because I was a runny, sneezy, teary mess. Sunday arrived with no new news, except my panic was ramping up.

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Oye Hark! The call came in around 3pm Sunday afternoon; the woman had Henry, wanted to know how much was the ransom, and to let us know we had to pay for her taxi to return the dog. (grrrrrrrr)

All Told:

$35              Print a copy of the original sign
$20              Make copies for distribution in Centro
$480           XESQ Radio San Miguel ad ($120 per announcement; I ran 4 ads)
$1,500        Ransom, puta madres!
$60             Taxi for Coyote (this was when I wanted to slap her, the nerve)

$2,051       Mexican Pesos
$120          US Dollars

Although it only cost roughly $120 to get Henry home, it was a very stressful and long weekend of worrying about his safety and whereabouts. Mexico has a way of reminding you who is in charge and it is never you, no matter what measures, nor precautions you take. The very legs of this wild-west country are built on corruption, yet for the most part, I admire Mexico and am calling it my home, with Reed, for now. Henry’s dognapping was a reminder not get too comfortable, because Mexico will always pull the rug our from under you. Donnie Trump may want to watch his back because the country also has ways of exacting revenge that I wouldn’t even wish on that baffoon.

People move here because of a lack of rules (sure, there are other reasons), but there’s a price for that lack of structure, as in things that disappear in the middle of the afternoon. And then I find myself questioning whether or not I’m a fit dog parent, onto shaming myself for ignoring him all those times I went out carousing and left him on his own. Brutal. Henry didn’t reminisce about any of this nonsense; he, naturally, was THRILLED to see me when he arrived home

It’s no scene from Law & Order, but the moment Henry was returned by the Coyote:

It was a huge lesson in the importance of being aware at all times, something I take great pride in, as I am a big proponent of strengthening my six senses. This particular day was especially off for me because all of my senses were compromised due to the flu; my throat was super-swollen, nose plugged, eyes watering, ears jammed, skin crawling; my 6th sense was practically DOA, and yet Mexico chose to kick me when I was down, as it does. Still, awareness.

While in the restaurant, I focused on the odd couple and how they were so intently ignoring each other, yet had I expanded my focus just outside the window behind them, perhaps I could have seen when Henry’s Captor made the dastardly move. Or not.

Aside from appearing a bit beat and dirty, Henry was the same Happy Little Neurotic Guy, although he did let me hold him a bit longer than usual. I’m getting back on my feet after this bout of flu (or whatever it is, Mexico) and will continue to ask of myself the following, “eyes-see, ears-hear, nose-smell, skin-feel, aura-interact.”

Gotta stay sharp! xx

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What’s an Energy Healer?

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“An energy healer is someone who can assist in moving your energy in an attempt for better mental, emotional and physical health.”

I’ve often asked myself what IS an energy healer and then mumble, “it’s not real”, even though I am surrounded by the study, practice and fascination of all things energy. Here is my laundry list of current energetic practices:

– Attuned in reiki — I now have hot hands!
– Student of Lee Holden‘s qi gong
– Student of Lydia Wong‘s Meridian Dance Massage (I LOVE her Mambo T’ai chi classes!)
– Student of Sonia Choquette‘s Six Sensory studies
– Student of Tarot and various other oracle cards
– Officially a NIA technique white belt dance teacher (!!)
– Each morning starts with one hour of sun salutation meditations that include the energy medicine practices of Donna Eden (and oooooh I can’t wait to take her classes!)

I also love to read about angels, intuition, psychics, faeries, meditation, mediums and have discovered one common thread in all these modalities… it’s all ENERGY. Fascinating, beating, twirling, moving, pulsating energy; I can feel it, I can change it — I have totally improved it, and I am enamored by it. Ironically, energy healing can freak some people out.

I totally get this, I have long had my doubts about energy so much so that I totally forgot about it for years and paid no attention to it whatsoever. I remember thinking it was a deceptive way of saying, “I make stuff up” or “I like to day dream and ride white unicorns over sparkly rainbows”. Even though I have always come back to the healing arts, I have been and remain somewhat skeptical about what it actually means. My Irish sarcasm runs deep to this day.

These days, however, I am more curious than anything and am ready to dive into this.

My mom’s deathbed apology totally changed everything for me, and once I emerged from the hellacious panic attack I was trapped in, I began to experience life in a very, different manner. Life suddenly seemed quiet and crisp. I felt as though I had no choice, I simply HAD to clean up my life on every level and even now, I pay dearly if I eat junk food or I feel the foggy after-effect of one glass of wine for three or more days, so I don’t drink. I feel people in a visceral way that is new to me. I hear their stories in my nose. When I am out in public these days, it is a very different experience. I am affected by sounds, lights, crowds, smells and cellphones (hello!). It’s why I prefer to be in the country now.

This is not religious experience, because I am not aligned with any one religion, although I do fall back on some of my Catholic tendencies. I believe most religions are dangerous and encourage punishing thinking, so I don’t go there. I am also quick to not describe this as a spiritual experience either, because once I label myself as spiritual, it raises an eyebrow, an eyebrow that loves to scrutinize our humanness.

I’m not into labels. I like energy. I am flawed and have bad days. I suffer rejection, but not as years gone by; I get over things pretty quickly. Including when I sometimes wonder if I am a delusional or perhaps the butt of jokes, but then I say, “who cares?”. I love where I’m finding myself these days, with its imperfections and all, and I feel totally grateful to have this opportunity to wake up. It’s what I have wanted for years.

I have also experienced some amazing insight on people in my immediate and not-so-immediate circles; I feel my nose get tapped and then I’m flooded with thoughts. It is energy in motion and I can read it somehow. I have been told I am an Energy Healer. I have been told I am an Intuitive. I continue to search for understanding.

Naturally the internet has a boatload to say about the subject, after I made my way through the ads for several local area energy healers, and if it is one thing, energy healing is vague. Rife with scam artists and bally-hoo-magical thinkers, so says Wikipedia. “Physicists and skeptics roundly criticize these explanations as pseudophysics — a branch of pseudoscience which explains magical thinking by using irrelevant jargon from modern physics to exploit scientific illiteracy and to impress the unsophisticated.”

Therein lies my challenge. I believe in energy healing and the positive changes it has made in my life, but I now am ready to dig deeper.

~~~

When I was 26, I took a job as a Production Manager at a photographic and design studio in San Francisco, which kicked off my journey into healing my inner kid, or rather, my search into “how not to be in so much damn emotional pain”. I was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, thrilled to be in San Francisco and I was about two years sober at that time. This was the perfect city for me; I had amazing adventures on my bike (huge calves and thighs!), at my job in SOMA (it was called the Multimedia Gulch back then), and enjoying my first “healthy” relationship with a pastry chef/marathon runner, who had me running with him all over the Marin County trails.  It was a tremendous place for me to be and I was “tippy-toed-excited” about all that lay ahead of me.

I first lived on Russian Hill and rode my bike to work over Nob Hill to SOMA, or I took the fantastically aromatic #30 bus through North Town and Chinatown. The bus was usually serene and roomy when I boarded in the Marina, but when we pulled onto Columbus, suddenly the bus turned to a sea of people with no personal boundaries, nor indoor voices, all carrying plastic bags full of duck stew. I was happy to ride my bike up and over the hills as often as possible, and honestly there was no feeling in the world like blasting down the streets of San Francisco, even though that required pedaling up those same streets. I was a biking machine and I loved it!

It didn’t take me long to take notice of Mill Valley across the Bay, and within a few months, I was living in a log cabin on Mount Tamalpais and riding my bike to the Sausalito ferry each morning to cross the Bay. It was a glorious way to start and finish each day and I don’t know that I was ever in better shape in my life. My super beefy legs may not have ever been considered sexy, but they sure were strong as oxen and for that I have always been grateful. Even today, my legs are oh-so-hardy.

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It was in Mill Valley where I started to meet “energy healers”. Whhooo-whhoooo-what?  I was curious but highly skeptical, as this sounded like a bunch of hooey. The first weekend at the log cabin, my roommate had a Shaman come to the house to do a sage clearing. A what? A long-haired gentleman, dressed in all white robes strutted around the house with rattles and a lit sage wand as he traced the windows, door frames and spun in all the corners of the house.  It smelled like weed. I was fascinated and a bit scared. Was this an exorciscm? Was the house haunted? Will there be goblins and ghosts?

There were no goblins nor hauntings, and since this experience, I now practice space clearing and have learned so much about it from the powerful teachings of Denise Linn. I love this woman’s energy! I am also a fan of Tess Whitehurst‘s books on the subject of space clearing, as well. Once I started looking, the information was plentiful.

I love, love, LOVE working with energy, healing energy and learning even more about energy. It is my thing. This is one of the many gifts of my mom’s passing; and her apology to me before leaving. I finally eased up and off myself and my God, the difference it has made in my life. The message has not been lost on me at all.

But the message of energy healing was a hard one to grasp. Last year, when I was fired from yet another ill-fitting job, I found myself scrambling…. “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW???!” as I stayed up all night reading about healing through reiki, angels, prayers, psychics, t’ai chi, yoga, kale, crystals, breathing, vibration, praying, chakras, qi gong, breathing, walking in nature, silence, Law of Attraction, spirituality, religion and let’s not forget the FAERIES!

“Oh my, Meagan is totally OUT THERE now.” I know, isn’t it fantastic?

The results of being at odds with myself my whole life has made for a very chaotic, albeit it, exciting life. I am ready for this new chapter as I dive into the energetic world.

Until I get my unicorn, I’ll fly without him for now… xo

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The Dance of Impeccability

MB White Belt

This past week, I had the golden opportunity to attend a NIA White Belt training at a crystal farm located just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. I chose this instead of driving to East Austin every day for 7 days, as this option included a free stay at the farm.  I discovered NIA dance several years ago, well after I had trained years earlier in Gabrielle Roth’a dance, and felt its principles were speaking to me now as I prepared to deepen my practice. As of last Friday, I can now teach NIA and will be doing so at the end of September at two studios in Dripping Springs, Texas.

It’s an intense training; the days are long and obviously, very physical.  I loved every sore-muscle minute of it! The farm was absolutely beautiful and I am completely grateful to have had this opportunity to learn and get certified in Little Rock.  I especially enjoyed the early mornings with my roommates; I so rarely get the opportunity to have coffee and spirited conversations with such diverse characters, well before the sun’s day break. I feel a bit smarter and a dollop stronger for having completed this week on the farm. I’ve made some awesome new friends and hope to know hem for years to come.

It was a tremendous experience — including the few days I arrived early to explore Arkansas. Who knew this state was so gorgeous??! They call it the Natural State, I had no idea! Arkansas is an easy target for hillbilly jokes, and while of course I made many, I also learned an awful lot, and that’s a beautiful thing. Arkansas has quartz crystal mines, so there is quite an influx of people in search of said crystals; I even found myself in a mine and spent an afternoon digging. Amazing!! I explored the hot springs of Hot Springs, climbed a few mountains, greeted the rising sun from some breath-taking perches and spent an afternoon in the William J. Clinton Presidential Library; it moved me to tears more than once.

I’m thankfully out of hillbilly jokes because I have seen “the purdy” side of Arkansas. It was an amazing week and I’m excited to start teaching NIA!

A quick 9-hour drive home, a few loads of laundry and then Reed and I were off to Aspen, Colorado to stay with his Aunt Lucy and see the high country burst into the autumn season. Oh what a gorgeous country it is!

Hello Aspen!

I think back to where my life was one year ago — it’s completely different today and thank God for this. I was working a corporate job (or two!) in Chicago and really thought that would be my path, but obviously I kept falling flat on my face. Losing so many jobs — okay being FIRED from so many jobs, having to sell all my belongings and then eventually moving out of Chicago, was extremely painful and has deeply changed me forever. The cake-froster was my mom’s death. Only one year ago I was crawling out of the mire and uncertain about where my life would go next. It was, in a word, terrifying.

Reed came back into my life last Thanksgiving when he invited me to Mexico for Thanksgiving. I never thought I would see him again after our divorce in 2008, but alas, never say never. I never felt right about how things ended between us; so I am grateful to have this opportunity to get right with him — but mostly to get right with myself, because I cannot help others until I help myself.

When we were married, I was restless and had absolutely no direction. I was adrift in my pointless life and unmotivated to change it. I had lost that sparkle in my eye, that spark that had enabled me to endure almost anything in my life. Reed had offered to let me do anything — yet I could not decide and chose to do nothing instead. Can you imagine? We did a lot of traveling and moved into many houses, yet I became increasingly annoyed by it all. “Unattractive” is the word I would use to describe myself. I was once an artist! Not anymore; I would pick up a paint brush and cast it aside, feeling literally nothing except a dull pressure to be something I was not anymore. I blamed the world and especially blamed Reed for my injustices.

Injustices. How outrageously arrogant of me.

I have never been more focused in my direction, nor more excited to live an adventurous and colorful life, than I am today. I have pangs of guilt for not currently having a job, but I’ll get over it. I am working toward an entirely different career experience and how lucky I am to have the opportunity to explore these new heights. I start teaching NIA later this month, but that is only the beginning. I am aiming high!

~~~

I believe we cross paths with people who are meant to teach us something, even if it is delivered through a painful, one-two-punch lesson. Upon arriving in Aspen, Aunt Lucy completely nailed me to the wall, ridiculing me, wagging a finger in my face, wanting to know why I am so happy and what is my secret because she DOESN’T UNDERSTAND. It was scary and unsettling  — this is a very angry woman who is deep in her Stage 4 cancer battle and is duking it out with her demons. Lucy has everything and more than the “American Dream” would suggest, yet her heart is cold and empty. And scared. She does not like unicorn-chasing, skip-to-the-loo-tree-huggers like myself, yet she is surrounded by them and pursues them here in Aspen. She went above and beyond to hurt me and succeeded.

I was a wounded pup for a few hours but quickly recovered. The fruits of my emotional labor; I now pull myself out of the hole, rapidly, with very little drama.

I composed myself in all that is gorgeous and illuminous in Aspen, Colorado and it dawned on me that no matter who we are, we are all searching to get out of our pain and to know what love is all about. It can take a lifetime. Thank God we all have one.

im·pec·ca·ble
(of behavior, performance, or appearance) in accordance with the highest standards of propriety; faultless.

During my NIA training, we were asked to be impeccable. Impeccable in our words and actions. Interesting! It has caused me to think before I speak and I am now acutely aware of my impeccability — even if I am anything but impeccable at times. I am responsible for my happiness and my involvement in life. I am not expecting a doctor to hand me a happy pill, nor do I feel that anyone owes me anything. My life has become impeccably easier to navigate since I lost everything last year and re-discovered my true self and a deep desire to be helpful. I have that spark in my eye once again.

My research continues, as it is not over… xoxo