And then?

And then what? Stopping the Worry Demon

Lately I’ve had a few people ask me how I stopped the “What if” demon. She’s been in my family for generations and had a rather cozy spot in my life for so long, along with her brethren of friends.

Now I’ve read more positive thinking & self help books, articles, on line email threads, than I could count on all of my fingers and toes times.. 10. (Maybe more) And I’m not bashing them, they’ve all offered me something, in some way. Some, of course, far more so than others (“Feel the fear and do it anyway” – that title alone got me from 16-30).

However what has actually “cured” me, and saved the villagers of the small town living below the snowball that becomes an avalanche when I worry and get lost with the “what if” demon is this..

I simply take the fear and follow it through, quickly, simply, but honestly.

Example:

I’m out wearing a dark colored shirt, and I realize it’s covered in cat fur (white cat fur). I wonder what people think of me, what if they see it? what if they judge me for it? what if they don’t like me because I’m so untidy? What if I were out with a friend, how would they feel being seen with me? And … it begins.

So I take it from there. And then what?

They see it. And then what?

They judge it. And then what?

They care, or they don’t. And then what?

Do I care what they think? Possibly. And then what?

Well, why do I care? Will my friend be embarrassed? And then what?

Perhaps they won’t want to go out with me. And then what?

I’ll go out alone in the future. And then what?

I won’t mind who sees the fur, it’s my cat, I love her, I’m not harming anyone with a few cat hairs. And then what?

Ok, they judge me and give me a snide look or turn away. And then what?

I continue on my day, never to run in to this complete stranger again. And then what?

Now, this is how it goes with 90% of the worries I have, and 95% of the worries I hear from other people – so concerned with the approval of others, and their presentation to people they will never meet again that they get caught up in the what if game.

Even if it’s what if with people they know, co-workers, spouses, friends, lovers, parents..

So I’ll add in the positive way this event actually happened today, before going on.

Now..

I run in to someone I know, the cashier at the grocery store. And then what?

We actually get in to a wonderful conversation about our cats, I find out he’s a cat person and is very concerned with how my cats vet visit went. And then what?

I actually fell like I connected with someone, they cared, and I cared, and we were better for it.

 

Ok, so lets take it even further into the demon realm, and say it is someone I know. And then what?

They judge me, dislike me for being so unkempt and unpolished. And then what?

I don’t talk to them again, they won’t return my calls. And then what?

Lets be honest, anyone that doesn’t get me and my love of my cats, isn’t someone I really want to be friends or close acquaintances with – they can’t understand me or appreciate me. So I decide to move on. And then what?

Well… and then I make friends that do get me, that love cats, and dogs, that don’t mind a few cat hairs on their clothes and we have great, relaxing times together. And then what?

Perhaps it doesn’t go so well. Now this is where the demon really sinks her teeth in.

Perhaps I can’t find any new friends, perhaps they all seem to hate animals or my cat hair shirt. And then what?

 

Do I die? Does anyone die? Is my cat hurt in any way? Is this event so catastrophic that life itself ceases to exist because of this event?

 

No? Well then.. I move on, I let go, and the crazy, neurotic snowball that was building steam has suddenly disappeared. Poof!

There is no fuel for the fire.

My best friend hasn’t called me back, my husband hasn’t texted me, my boss didn’t smile at me as they normally do each day. And then what?

Do I die? Does anyone die? Is someone going to end up in the hospital because of this moment? (perhaps if I don’t stop the snowball, yes.. mental hospitals count) No?

Well then, move on.

Life is beautiful, and this particular turn of ours, on this merry go round of nuttiness – this act we play out on the stage that is called life. It’s short in the scheme of things.

Too short to be caught up in worry, in fear, in letting snowballs bury the poor villagers of the cute mountain town below.

So there’s my secret. Something I haven’t found in any book so far.

And then what? What then? Can I live with what happens next? Literally.. Yes? Good. Let’s move on.

The whirlpool vortex of Depression

(Did you know Vortext is a “new” word? Typos CAN teach us lessons..)

As I sit here procrastinating on the creation of my dream site and all the content for it – and I was pondering the value of plagiarism in society and in the act of creation (more on that later), I was reminded of how easy it is to get sucked in to someone elses depression.

I’ve spent much, most?, of my life depressed. It’s only been the last 3, maybe 4ish, years that I can say I spend more of my time happy, upbeat and positive (or at least mildly neutral) than otherwise. From the time I was 6 or so, perhaps even younger if you listen to my family, I went from a happy outgoing little girl to a rather quiet, sometimes morose, ghost.

There are many.. explanations for that, of which I’ve talked about in some detail already.

But I came to realize fully recently how often my mental, emotional and even physical state of being is something I diminished for the sake, or seemingly so, of others.

I’ve read so many supportive quotes, texts, prose, wonderfully full vibrational thoughts on not doing so:

I will not die an unlived life.

I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.

I choose to inhabit my days to allow my living to open me;

to make me less afraid, more accessible,

to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch,

a promise.

I choose to risk my significance;

to live so that which came to me as seed goes

to the next as blossom

and that which came to me as blossom,

goes on as fruit.

And I read it, and reread it, memorized it and held on to it as truth.

But I was an awful lot like the character on the dark road, alone, in the middle of the night, with but the barest of even a small pen light to guide the way, whistling in to the shadows, jumping at every twig that breaks and every leave that rustles in the trees. Repeating to myself that everything will be ok, just keep walking. And yet, deep inside, feeling terrified and wishing I could just run all the way home and never have to look any deeper in to that darkness.

Because I was depressed, and while I would read the words and know their truth, I could not live it.

As I was washing the dishes yesterday I grasped that I have, for the better part of 30 years, taken on so much from others – feeling I was sparing them somehow.

As a child it came out as being somewhat subdued, not demanding anything extra, anything more than my mother (who could barely crawl off the couch at times, much less even muster up food or sustenance of some sort) could possibly give. Which was next to nothing.

As a teenager it came out as being sick, caused I know by insane amounts of stress overloading every aspect of my being until I literally collapsed from exhaustion, and offering my mother a confidant, a .. kindred souls experience.

In my 20′s, under the weight of nearly two decades of chaos, I spiraled in to depression and often found myself in arguments, fights, full blown episodes of utter blackness, not often helped my a partners belief that life is hell on earth and nothing good comes of it. (It’s hard to see the bright side when no one else wants to even imagine it let alone hear about it)

My 30′s has been a parting of the clouds, a release of the need to provide others with support I .. well, I don’t believe in.

Yet standing at the kitchen sink I saw that I still do this, in small, twisted ways. And that it’s still killing me slowly, although that’s been picking up pace too.

When my husband is depressed I’m far more likely to watch a movie with him, or play a game, or just (ho hum) putz around online, rather than choose to put energy in to my dreams and my projects and plans – because I don’t want him to be alone, to feel so lost and depressed.

Not just because I know how it is, and oh boy do I. But because I have, since I was a little girl, tried to make everyone else feel better, to dim my light, to suffocate the fire, to crush the blossoming hope, so that they wouldn’t feel so.. alone.

Yet I’m now able to see how very little this actually benefits anyone. Them, or myself. And that I’m ready to be a bit more, well, selfish. And be happy, doing what I need to do, what my heart longs to do – from that state I am far better situated to offer a helping hand to others.

It’s a lot easier to lift someone up when you yourself aren’t drowning with them. Which is what depression really is, drowning in emotion, in sorrow, in loss, in anger, in apathy. And it’s so easy to get sucked in to that if you don’t secure the rope your throwing out at them first.

I wish my love, my hope, my happiness, my simple (awesome? sorry.. sarcasm) presence alone would be enough to light the way for someone lost in the darkness; however now I finally see, and know, how important it is to be the light for ones self, and to so be it for others.

It beats stumbling around in that darkness, alone or together, eternally lost and afraid.

Off, off & Away again

It started simply enough, a couple of emails back and forth, a few phone calls to talk about the details, an offer to fly away in just a few days – to a place I’ve never been, with someone I’ve never met. Oh this life of mine.. Here I was craving a trip off, off and away, and here I go..

***Note to self, never take a split flight red-eye again without drugs at the ready, or sound cancelling headphones at least…

Breakfast Tacos

 

And that was how I found myself at the Austin airport, enjoying (ok maybe that’s too strong a word, partaking of…) a couple breakfast tacos at a time when I’d usually be deep in my dreams with hours to go before I wake. While the sounds of country music kept me entertained.

I mean, there’s nothing quite like eating eggs, microwaved bacon and a potato piece or two (with lots of salsa thank you kindly) at 5:30am listening to a classic country song:

She’s a good hearted woman
In love with a good timin’ man
She loves him in spite of his ways
That she don’t understand

Farewell Austin

She’s a good hearted woman
In love with a good timin’ man
And she loves him in spite of his wicked ways
That she don’t understand

Farewell Austin, perhaps one day I’ll know your weirdness further!!

And onward I flew, with less sleep than is smart – to a place I’d never considered going before, not for lack of beauty or pleasure found there but because up until this point, the list of places I want to visit (when I find the resources) has been rather small, and specific..

Last year was Tokyo, Japan, a city, and a country that was just so far out of reach financially I left it way on the sidelines. Yet when chance favored chance, I found myself there, and in love with .. everything.

Poolside

Here I am again… finding myself in a far off land, filled with amazing experiences to tease me and leave me longing for a more I never knew I’d crave.

The pool, so blue isn’t it?

But it doesn’t stop here – and amazingly enough, I never stuck more than a toe and a finger or two in this beautiful looking water (and oh so warm)..

Why, you may ask?

Well there was something else that drew my attention..

3 Blues

Oh, what’s that? Off just at the edge of this tempting pool?

It’s a little bit of an even more amazing blue, and green and … life filled colors.

As far as my eye could see.

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And here, I dove right in, I didn’t linger at the edge..

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But for just a second, to prove I was here at all, to myself and to you.

Feet in the Sand

The sand is like walking on a soft cloud here, the water, welcoming me in, and home for now.

I am mildly ashamed to admit I visited an old friend, a lover of sorts, that I had not consorted with in almost a year..

Happy Hour!

“Grown-ups love figures…

When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters.

They never say to you “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? ”

Instead they demand “How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? ”

Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”  

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery  (the quote on the Starbucks board here, as are all of the non-Waylon Jennings lyrics in this post)

That’s right, I’m in fantastical Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico – and I’m at Starbucks!! (Shhh)

Indulgence

The only place I found soy milk (they even offer lactose free milk here! Though I have as many issues with that as milk usually…) was offered with coffee in my short visit.

Never leave

I spent a very brief 48 hours here, but found many wonderful sights and a few friends…

Maya Portal

http://thetravelguru.org/448-tourist-attractions-unveiled-in-playa-del-carmen-to-enhance-its-beauty

Nibbler

Agouti (Funny Friend)

 

Sweetness

“She cast her fragrance and her radiance over me. I ought never to have run away from her…

I ought to have guessed all the affection that lay behind her poor little stratagems.

Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her…”  

My sweet canine friend, one of a few homeless dogs we ran in to here, this lovely lady was .. one of the sweetest critters I’ve been blessed to meet – and she ended up with my dinner in her belly (chicken, she wasn’t a fan of the baked potato) and most of my companions steak too.

 

Those eyes!

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it.

You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed.”

If they wouldn’t have halted me at the airport, this dog would have been at my side back home… perhaps if I go back, a bribe will suffice.. as it seems to work for nearly everything else here!

Sometimes I wonder at the moments in our lives, this one, meeting this sweet lady, is one of those that left me with a distinct awareness of something inside, shifting, awakening.

Rescue Me

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Fred (Ethel and the kin were hiding)

 

For my last few hours I spent my time at the spot I could never get enough of.

Floating, resting, in the presence of the holy divine. For though my trip was not entirely as calm and centered as I would plan, and hope, any trip to be (it started out VERY BUMPY), it was amazing, and I am grateful for the chance that I was given to visit.

“Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.”  

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To see, to feel, to be felt…

“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.”  

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And as all beginnings do, this one had an eventual end.

Farewell Mexico

Farewell Carmen Del Playa – may I be graced with your company again someday.

“All men have stars, but they are not the same things for different people.

For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides.

For others they are no more than little lights in the sky.

For others, who are scholars, they are problems…

But all these stars are silent.

You-You alone will have stars as no one else has them…

In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing.

And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night..

You, only you, will have stars that can laugh!

And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me…

You will always be my friend.

You will want to laugh with me.

And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure…

It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh”  

If I should never come back…

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I’m going somewhere soon, moving on, and away.

To a land with high reaching mountains, with caps of snow, even here in the middle of these hot, sunny days.

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Without a ticket in hand, or a destination in mind, I will be on my way.

To a beach, with deep blue seas, as far as the eyes can imagine they see.

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I’m going somewhere soon, far, far away.

I will stare at the departure board, and wait for a flicker, for a sign. A light in the darkness.

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Then I will be off, on my own, with just this bag on my back and these words in my head.

To a meadow, vast and infinite, in it’s green beauty. Where purple flowers dance with blackberries.

 

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Where the softest sigh comes floating in, just a breeze to show the way.

Taking me down, down a hidden path, to the waters edge.

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And away, away I will go.

Over the land I call home, up, up and beyond the borders laid down by men, and women, to keep people out, to keep some of us in.

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I will wait in line to board that plane, not knowing if the way I am going is forward, or back.

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Off, on my own, I will go on – up, up and away.

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Soon, goodbye shall be on my lips.

 

I’m going somewhere, where there will be no looking back, no wondering at the choices I’ve made, no doubting if I should ever come back.

 

 

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What am I doing here?

Sitting here, tonight, scanning through my emails, old photos on my external drive, checking texts I don’t want to reply to, flipping through profiles on dating sites I don’t know why I belong to, listening to music as I haven’t in weeks… loving that.

And I have no idea, what I’m doing here.

I’m calm, but testy. I’ve meditated, and pondering some yoga or qi gong.. something to do.

Because I don’t know what I’m doing here, now.

I was waiting on a friend to come over, but work happened and they can’t;
but I wasn’t.. I wasn’t really waiting too much because, well, I knew they’d be too busy.

There was no holding my breath here.

I managed dishes today, and yard work.
I even knocked out several pages and adsense set up with Google on one of my other sites.

Yet somehow I feel as though I didn’t do what I needed to today. Whatever that may be.

And I still, have no clue, what I’m doing here, now.

I want to hear from someone, not sure I know who though.

I’d love to head out and travel the world, without a ticket in hand, or a destination in mind.

I’m lost, without a sense of why, I’m depressed, without a sense of where, I left off…

Normally with all this space, and free time, I’d rejoice in the chance to do.. something.
To become something more, in that time, in that free space.

Yet here I sit, completely, and utterly, unsure as to what I’m doing, now,

or ever.

Oh, the Places you’ll Go!

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Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
by Dr. Seuss

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ‘em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

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And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

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You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

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And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

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And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That’s not for you!

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Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

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But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Dancing with the Ghosts

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I have been so angry, for so long, at so many people – including myself.

It wasn’t something that you’d see from just looking at me, it was something that was simmering, submerged deep within.

I remember when I was 12, and in Childrens Hospital for a while, I told them how angry I felt. They suggested I take it out on one of those large, exercise balls (you know the kind people can sit on), hit it and not hurt it.. and I was getting more and more frustrated with them as we discussed this, because taking out this rage, this anger, on a bouncy ball.. was not going to be enough.

I wanted to break something, I wanted to take a glass and throw it, watch it shatter in to a million tiny pieces - something you couldn’t fix. I wanted to do this over and over.

They looked at me, alarmed, as though somehow they saw someone much larger, much .. more, than a 12 year old girl, in front of them. I don’t think that I ever expressed the depth of my anger again to someone, anyone, for over 20 years. Somehow it was easier to add it all to the growing rock of anger held deep within.

And up until recently, that’s what I did. Even when my therapist/guide suggested we have a special session to address the anger, I held back.

My dreams were even, clearly, showing me a need to work on it, to let it go.
I’d be traveling somewhere, ready to go, going to move on, when someone or even something, would stop me and tell me that I needed to let go of the anger before I could go to the next place in my journey.
Of course, I’d feel a bit frustrated at that (in my dreams and in waking life), but… I got the messages.

Though I needed to let go of the anger, it felt as though it had taken on an almost super nova capability. And that if I dared to open the door to it, in any way, it would consume me and everyone around me.

As much as I had worked past a lot of anger, a lot of pain, sorrow, hate, hurt and abandonment – I could still feel this amazing ball of terrible energy within.

 

Pissed off at a family that stood by and did nothing, at a mom that was involved more than I’d like to admit, at a father that dissapeared, at all of the people that do nothing… at everyone and everything that wasn’t as my little girl self felt it should be..

I knew that all of these people were simply coming from a place of their own pain, their own fears, their own angers and hurts, but it didn’t matter – they didn’t take care of me, when I needed them most. When they knew I needed them.

I began reading Wishes Fulfilled by Wayne Dyer, and talks about how we hold on to energy (anger, joy, all of it) for so long and that after a while, who we were angry at (or whatever) is gone, even if it was at our self.
That every cell in the body has actually changed and been replaced.

I was feeling this resonate at some level deep within. In a way, it brought so many things together, so many thoughts and memories, so many emotions (energy).

And then something happened this past weekend.

I went in for my, now, regular acupuncture visit and I talked about how my legs were still experiencing so much discomfort and it started in my hips and lower back – it has been a sensation as though my legs are stuck in ice. And it had been getting worse. So he decided to work on my spine this time. My Qi has been out of sync for some time and I felt it.

I felt it there in my lower back. It wasn’t some injury done recently, or sitting poorly in my chair, or not doing enough Yoga… (all of which have some truth though)

I felt my anger, I found where it had been resting. Where it had been hiding, growing, consuming me from inside out.

Then it all came together. And apart.

I discovered I’ve been angry at ghosts. My own and others. That I had held on to them, and they to me. That I’ve been dancing with these ghosts of anger for most of my life, caught up in some sorrow filled angry melody.

I found that I was ready to let them go. Dancing with them as I have, has had it’s own beauty, but that I am ready to dance with the living spirits now.

Now, suddenly, when I try to touch on those ghosts of anger again – they have been my dancing partners for over 30 years after all, I don’t feel them as I once did. I feel them as they are, Ghosts. Wisps floating in the wind. I can’t even manage to conjure them up as I once could, as I once did, even mere days before.

And I can finally see my anger inside (I can SEE it), as a .. piece of darkness, like a lump of coal in my stomach and back. I see it dissolving, slowly, resisting even at times, but it is growing smaller and smaller.

I told my therapist I was afraid of this loss, yet also afraid of calling them back.

I have been dancing with these ghosts for so long, now I wonder if I’m dancing alone. Or who’s dancing with me at all?

Maybe that’s ok though. Maybe.. in dancing alone, I will discover my own dance, a dance of joy, of love, and hope. I know the ghosts are always waiting, but I’ve been waiting too.

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