Tears in Heaven

I’ve heard it said that when we get to heaven there will be no more tears and no more pain… But I now believe there will be tears in heaven, at least for me there will be.

Today is our daughter, Shantel’s, birthday. She is 24 years old today.

Shantel lost both her eyes to cancer before she was two years old. Because she was so young when she lost her sight, she doesn’t know what Bill and I look like. In fact, when she first lost her sight, I would always say “hi, Shantel, it’s mama” whenever I picked her up from her crib etc. so she would learn to recognize my voice.

As she got older, and I would go to pick her up from daycare, or even a little later when I would go to pick her up from school…, I would always approach her saying “hi Shantel, it’s mama”, and she would always answer “hi mama”.

A couple of weeks ago I had a dream that was so real, and affected me so profoundly, that I couldn’t even tell Bill about it because it just overwhelmed me with emotion. I dreamed I had passed away, and was in heaven, and I became aware that it was Shantel’s time to come to heaven, and I was sent to meet her at the gates of heaven. I stood at the gates of heaven and watched as Shantel approached me. Of course, she could see now because she was made whole and had both her natural eyes again. As she came closer to me I said “hi Shantel”, and she looked into my eyes and said “mama”? I said “yes”, and she said “oh, mama, you’re so beautiful”, and we hugged each other so long, and so hard, and let me tell you there were tears in heaven that day… tears of pure joy!

Happy Birthday, Shantel.

I love you,

Mama

A Perfect Day

As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved horses. As a little girl, I dreamed of living on a ranch, and having horses of my own to ride whenever I wanted… But my life path was full of many different twists and turns to say the least, all of which I am grateful for. Because, every step I took, and everything I did in my life, made me the person I am today, and brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I didn’t have a horse when I was growing up, and as an adult, I couldn’t afford to own a horse, and still can’t… but that never dimmed my dream of living on a ranch with horses…

What I’ve learned is, when you keep your dreams alive, and never give up on them coming true, some way, some how.., God, the universe, and life… will lead you to your dreams… I know that because I’m living my dream life right now… and everyday is “a perfect day” for me now. Here is but one example of how I’m living my dream life after retirement…

Bill and I work/camp at San Tan Mountain Regional Reserve Park in Queen Creek Arizona for the winter months. This park has over 10,000 acres of land, and over 20 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails… We love it here, and we have made friends with all of our co-hosts, co-workers, and venders here at the park.

Last week, on one of our day’s off, we  started out our day with a “cowboy/cowgirl breakfast of potatoes, onions, peppers, sausage, and an over easy egg on top of a skillet breakfast… We don’t do this everyday, but we do enjoy this once a week…

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It was a picture perfect day here at San Tan Mountain Park as you can see by this picture below…

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Well, guess what…? San Tan Mountain Park is “THE PLACE” for horse folks, and they come in droves… The picture below shows the early arrivals… but let me tell you the lot you see will be FULL of horse trailers and horses on any given day and this is all happening just outside our motorhome fence that you can see… So lucky me… I am living my dream of living with horses (I may not own the “ranch”, but I live here from Oct-may) and that’s all I need….

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And, just to make life even sweeter…, Matt, the owner/operator of MD Ranch, is contracted with the park to provide trail rides for park customers… and guess what??? Matt told us whenever we want to go on a ride with him all we have to do is let him know…

We never want to take advantage of Matt’s generosity, but he often just asks us if we would like to go on a ride with him…. Well, if he asks, I don’t have to be asked twice… I’m getting my riding pants, and shoes on, and out the door as fast as I can… Which is what I did last week when Matt asked us to go on a two-hour ride with him…

These are Matt’s horses which are just outside our fenced compound on any given day… Did I mention I so love horses and wanted to live on a horse ranch….? Is this not the next best thing for that life dream…?

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This is Matt, getting his horses saddled up for the two-hour ride he invited us on… Matt is 39 yrs old and owns the MD Ranch that is contracted with San Tan Mountain Park throughout the winter/spring months. Then, he goes to Oregon where he has a ranch and many, many, more horses… Matt is VERY accomplished in his field, he has trail horses, rodeo horses, breeding horses etc. He also competes in events and has won many, many  times… We love our life here on the “dream” ranch… and we love Matt…!

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When Matt invites us to ride, he will never accept payment ($30-$50 plus per person an hour depending on the ride…) but we always give him a nice tip, and I scoop his horses poop around his trailer at the end of the day just so he doesn’t have to do that after a long day on the trails… I don’t mind one bit because I’m living my dream of having horses in my life…,and having the “perfect day” EVERYDAY…!

And the ending to the “perfect day”  for me, was, when a gentleman, our age( me and Bill),  said to me as I took his payment at the window with Bill standing behind me said, “did anyone ever tell you “your smile could melt Alaska..?

What a perfect ending to a perfect day!

Stay Tuned!

Stay Tuned!

Strange And Beautiful Sightings

I went to visit my mother today. I try to visit her on Tuesday’s now because there is musical entertainment in the activity room on Tuesday’s, and my mother seems to enjoy listening to the music provided mostly from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Her favorite entertainer is Karl Block. He is a very energetic entertainer that comes right down among the residents, holds their hands, and sings right into their eyes. He also provides different musical instruments like tambourines, and different small hand-held things that the residents can shake or rattle along to the beat of the music…

Today’s entertainer was Jim Bing. He plays guitar and tries hard to sing but I don’t think anyone ever told him he sings very much off-key… However, apparently that doesn’t seem to bother the residents, or they are so hard of hearing that they think he is on key… Either way, today was a good day for my mother as she enjoyed the music and even sang along with Jim.

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She even tapped her fingers on the table to the keep the beat of the music…

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All of that was a beautiful sight to see…

The next thing I noticed while sitting with my mother in the activity room, was a resident (little woman in blue shirt next to the wall of tiny windows), who never smiles, or even talks to anyone unless to lash out at them for one thing or another, get up and dance when one of the CNA’s went over and started dancing in front of her… It’s amazing how music transforms some of these residents who are otherwise thought “empty and void of emotions…” They danced through three songs together and that resident not only smiled, she was actually laughing… and that was another beautiful sight to see. 🙂

Strange sightings

On my way home from the care center, I just had to stop and take a picture of this cactus (in the center of the picture) in the desert just before you enter San Tan Mountain Reserve Park. I’ve been looking at this ever since we arrived here last October, but I just never stopped to get a picture of this strange and unusually shaped cactus, until today. I think it looks like a Sea Horse, if you take away the arms…, My husband, Bill/Bro, thinks it looks like a Giraffe. I’m interested in hearing what my readers think this cactus looks like to you..? What ever we think it looks like, or reminds us of… I think we can all agree, it is a strange-looking cactus right?

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Once I was home I noticed yet another strange sight when our cat, Carmen, started running back and forth, back and froth, from one end of our motorhome to the other as fast as she could. When she finally stopped running, and settled down, I went to see what she was doing and found her lying on our bed, belly up and feet in the air… I laughed thinking to myself, I’ve got to get a picture of this strange sight…

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I experienced another strange, and beautiful, event a couple of weeks ago while visiting my mother that struck me so profoundly that I couldn’t write about it until now, when out of the blue she said to me “I want you to know I really do love you, and maybe if I had done things differently with you when you were growing up, maybe you would have known that.” She said “do you believe me now? I have to be honest here and say that one of the things I always heard in our home when I was growing up and an elderly person that might have done something to my parents to upset them said they were sorry… my parents would say “I wonder if they really mean that or if they are just an old person trying to get into heaven now…” Those words ran through my mind when my mother asked me if I believe she loves me, but in that moment, I looked through my tear-filled eyes into hers, and accepted that as real, and told her “I believe it now mom, and in that instant I let go of past hurts…

A few months ago I had a similar experience with my father, even though he has been dead for 10 years this September. I gave my word to never fully write about what happened between my father and I, but let it be enough to say he broke a bond with me, and caused a hurt that changed me, and my family forever. He never said he was sorry, and never asked for forgiveness while he was alive. But he came to me in a dream a few months back, and without words spoken, in that dream… I accepted the apology he never gave me, and gave forgiveness he never asked for from me, and the next morning I woke up to this…

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And ended that day with this

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And that is a beautiful sight to see…and finally, I felt the peace I have been looking for…

Stay Tuned!

 

 

San Tan Graves

One of the biggest attractions at San Tan is Goldmine Mountain, which composes the majority of the north end of the Park and extends up to 2,500 feet in elevation. This mountain not only contains gold, silver, copper, iron and turquoise but a “Rich” history as well.  Heavy mining activity took place between the late 1800’s and 1980, where prospectors  were hoping to strike it big. During that time, there were 55 claims made on goldmine Mountain alone. Today the vast majority of the mining sites have been filled in, for safety concerns and only 5 active claims remain. Arizona Game and fish partnered with the Arizona State Mine inspector to fill in these potentially dangerous mines as well as to protect abandoned mines housing native wildlife. The “Bat Cave” is a mine that extends roughly 30 feet back and houses a small population of local and migratory bats as well as rattlesnakes and other creatures brave enough to venture into the dark. It has been sealed off at the front by steel bars to protect both the animals and humans who visit the area. The “Bat Cave Hike” is a popular ranger led hike which guides guests to the secret location of the cave and promotes responsible interactions with fragile species. This mountain seems to be a popular destination because along the way to the top of the mountain you can see amazing views, prolific wildlife, mines, and even the grave sites of Mansel Carter and Marion Kennedy (two miners who were associated with the Park’s mining history).

Man of the Mountain:

Many visitors come to the Park in search of the “Man of the Mountain, ” a unique and iconic legend imbedded in the local history. Mansel Carter was his name, and he was a simple man whose passion warmed the hearts of both the people and wildlife that surrounded him. His story starts in 1902 near Quaker City, Ohio and takes him all over the U.S. working odd jobs as a mechanic, a pilot, a photographer, a sheep herder, and even a logger. After being drafted into the Army during World War 2, he finally decided to settle down in Gilbert, Arizona to manage a photography business in 1941. Here he became good friends with a man named Marion Kennedy, who was a Cherokee Indian from Oklahoma who delivered ice to Mansel’s shop. They would go on weekend mining adventures together and enjoyed it so much they decided to move to the Goldmine Mountains in 1948 to look for gold. For their first year on the mountain, the two lived underneath the shelter from a palo verde tree. They never struck it rich but between what they did find and a small pension Mansel received from the Army, they made enough to get by. As time went on Marion began to lose his eyesight, but still wanted to help in the mining adventures. Marion trusted Mansel so much that he would hold the chisel while Mansel would drive it into the rocks, not being able to see what was going on. His eyesight became too poor to be wandering blindly in the desert, so Mansel created a network of ropes that would help guide Marion around their campsite. In later years Marion Kennedy’s health slowly declined and he eventually passed away in 1960 from cancer and other complications.

Even after Marion had passed, Mansel remained on the mountain and soon became a local celebrity. Travelers would visit him from far and wide to hear his stories, try his famous biscuits or buy one of his famous “Cactus Curios” wooden carvings. Visitors and animals alike were captivated by his charm and compassion. Mansel kept log books filled with the signatures of all the people who came to see the “Man of the Mountain.” The animals in the area trusted him; it was a common sight to see him with his pet quail, Maude, following him around the desert or perched on his shoulder.

In 1987 Mansel Carter passed away and was buried next to his friend, Marion Kennedy, on Goldmine Mountain. The grave sites of these extraordinary men can be seen on the Goldmine trail 1/4 mile south of the Goldmine trailhead in San Tan Mountain Regional Park.

Bill and I spent the morning with our Park Supervisor at the Goldmine Mountain entrance today. This entrance to our park does not have a pay booth, but uses an Iron Ranger payment system. In past years there was little interaction with park staff at this entrance to the park simply because there was not enough staff to go around…. However, now that the park has four Park Hosts, we rotate responsibility for going to the Goldmine entrance. We spend four hours per shift, three days a week, interacting with the visitors, making sure they know how to use the Iron Ranger (to avoid receiving a failure to pay ticket), answer any questions they may have and are there to welcome them in and help educate them on safety concerns… We bring water and a first-aid kit with us just in case anyone is in need… but mainly we are there to provide great customer service to the folks that utilize the Goldmine entrance of our park.

Naturally, this being our first time at the Goldmine entrance… Bill and I were given the opportunity to visit the graves of Mansel and Marion. I took the opportunity to capture these pictures of the gravesites while I was there.

This is the grave of Marion Kennedy.

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And this is the grave of Mansel Carter

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This is a picture of the enclosed gravesites of both men, best friends, buried side by side…

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Being the mother of a blind adult child, this story so touched my heart when I learned the lengths Mensel went to, way back then, to help his friend Marion, get around their campsite, and still help with the mining adventure… with ropes after he lost his eyesight to help him feel his way through… Now that’s what real friendship is all about in my opinion. Finding ways to help other’s, no matter what hurdles get in the way…

What I know for sure is “if there is a will… there is ALWAYS a way…,” if we just look for it, accept one another as we are…, and simply show love, and simple kindness to one another… If we would ALL do that, I know for sure, this world can and will be a much better place…

Stay Tuned!

 

Good Things Happen

When You Do The Right Thing…

I work two shifts a week at the gate booth at Quail Creek State Park, Tuesday and Wednesday from 7:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

I like it when it is busy, but not swamped!! Swamped being when there is a fishing tournament and every boater in the state of Utah shows up unannounced, and unbeknown to the person working the gate booth i.e. me…, and you have to get the bow numbers off each boat as well and find out what body of water the boat was last on while praying it was not on a body of water that is contaminated with quagga or zebra mussels like Lake Mead, Lake Powell, Deer Lake, etc. Because if it was, you have to ask them to pull forward, pull the plug on their boat, and let you inspect the boat for any water…If you find water you have to fill out a form and send them six miles down the road to be decontaminated (de-con) which is never what they want to do, and never a pleasant interaction between you and the boater… However, too bad, because I have come to learn that ALL boaters, unless you just bought your first boat and this is your first time on ANY Utah water… you know the rules… I’m only here to enforce the rules because Quail Lake is quagga and zebra mussel free and we want to keep it that way…. so even when the gate booth gets swamped, I’m still going to “do the right thing” and inspect every boat that tells me they were on contaminated water…

That said, last Wednesday, I had the entire Dixie Technical College show up, unannounced, and unbeknown to me, for a “going back to class ” annual thing. That was another “swamped day”, with boats coming from every direction all day long. Then to make matters worse, seven of those boats had been on contaminated waters, within the last seven days. So, that meant I had to inspect them, and sure enough I found water, and had to piss them off by sending them six miles down the road to the de-con facility… Sometimes “doing the right thing” isn’t the thing that makes you popular…

OK, as if that were not enough to make for a bad day…, I had an elderly man walk up to the gate booth, with his oxygen tank in tow, and ask to buy a senior annual pass. Senior passes (for those 62 and older) are $35. A regular annual pass is $75. Without boring you with all the detail of logging in ANY annual pass, lets just say it takes longer than any other function we do other than assigning a campsite for campers.

As I was trying to get the elderly man his Sr. pass, a line of Dixie Technical College boaters was starting to form at the booth. If you let the line get to you, you can get flustered, and make mistakes, like giving out the wrong change, charging the wrong price for a day pass, annual pass, etc. So I make it my practice to stay calm and just work one customer at a time. After all this is not a life and death situation…. it’s just boaters wanting to get on the lake and fish etc. Hey, the fish will wait for your bait…

I finally got the elderly man’s transaction completed and got the line of boaters that had formed what they needed and sent them happily on their way to launch their boats on the lake. Then, I took a minute to re-group and get ready for round two… That is when I realized, I accidentally gave the elderly man the wrong annual pass. I charged him the correct $35.00 for a Sr. annual pass but gave him a regular $75.00 annual pass. I tried calling his phone number which is part of the information we collect when selling a Sr. pass, but he didn’t answer. Now, I have a situation. I am short one $75.00 regular pass that will show up at the end of my shift as my money drawer being $40.00 short, and we would be short on a $75.00 annual pass that would not be accounted for…. Then to add insult to injury, I realized that the elderly man paid with a check which I forgot to write his driver license information on and that is never a good thing in the event that check should bounce… Tried calling the man again to get him to come back and exchange the regular pass for the senior pass and to get the information I needed for the check he gave me, but again no answer…after the man got his pass he left the park and never came back that day…

It so happened that my supervisor, Karen was out of the office due to a death in her family, and the park manager, Laura, was not available by phone. I was going to be off for the next five days and wanted to make sure that Laura had a good understanding of what happened, how it happened, what I did to try to correct the error etc. because I always believe it is better to tell your supervisor/manager you made a mistake yourself than to wait for them to come and tell you they found out you made a mistake. Most of the people that work the gate booth here at Quail Creek are young kids fresh out of high school and they don’t seem to get that at all…

I finally finished my shift, and was running my financial report that shows how much money I brought in that shift and that is the amount you are to deposit into the safe before you leave… when I realize, my drawer is $10.00 short and I have no idea why… I counted and recounted the money but every time it came up $10.00 short. So I made a note of that in my financial report comment section, printed it out, signed and dated it, wrapped it around the money and deposited it in the safe.

Now, what to do about letting the park complex manager, Laura know about the error I made with the annual passes… I went home and immediately put together an email outlining the details of “who, what, when, where, why, and how it all happened… I also included that my drawer was $10.00 short that day…. I copied my supervisor, Karen on it so Laura would not have to try to convey the details to Karen when she returned to the office, I apologized for my errors and asked them to let me know what more they might need me to do.

The next day, the Parks Complex Manager, Laura, came to our home, knocked on the door and gave us tickets to go see Sister Act!  Well, blow me over…., I just couldn’t believe my eyes… I screwed up three things on my shift and she gives me a gift… ! 🙂

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This is showing at the amazing Tuacahn Amphitheatre not far from Quail Creek. The photo below is from their website. Laura even gave the other winter camp hosts tickets because she said she wanted us to have someone our age to go with and that it would give us an opportunity to get to know each other better. How nice and thoughtful that was.

 

When I talked to Laura about the mistakes I made, she said that didn’t matter, we all make mistakes…. She said she was just so impressed with how I handled the situation and especially that I documented the error in such detail which made her job, and my supervisor, Karen’s jobs so much easier…

Like I’ve said, and it has been my life long experience, that “good things happen when you do the right thing…”

Stay tuned!

Shameful

In my last post, titled Shredding The Past, I mentioned one of the projects I’ve been working on from my “to do list” was cleaning out closets and giving everything we no longer use to Goodwill. I ended up with nine trash bags full of clothes,  shoes, and even purses Shantel left when she moved out because she can no longer wear and/or use them. I also had clothes I no longer wear all bagged up and clearly marked for the Goodwill truck to pick-up today.

In addition, we were donating this corner unit computer cabinet we no longer need.

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It too was clearly marked Goodwill on the back facing the street so the Goodwill truck, or anyone else can see.

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When I scheduled the Goodwill pick-up for today I was told the truck will come sometime between 7:00 A.M. and dusk. We were told to have the items clearly marked and sitting at the end of our driveway, which we did, and NOT on the sidewalk or street so the items would not be in the way of cars driving down the street, or people walking down the sidewalk, AND, so anyone who saw the items would know they were for Goodwill. And since they were set out on our property, and not the sidewalk or street, they remain our property until Goodwill came to pick them up…

Bill and I followed all the instructions we were given by Goodwill, trusting everything would go as planned. Then we went along our merry way this morning as we left the house to go to Total Wine and Costco…

However, when we returned home, Bill said I see Goodwill hasn’t been here yet because the computer cabinet was still sitting at the end of our driveway…BUT, all the clothes etc. were GONE!!

I was so upset when I saw someone came on our property to steal the bags of clothes etc. we set out for Goodwill. I told Bill how can people stoop so low as to steal from Goodwill? Bill said “let’s just hope they needed it more than the people who would have benefited from it at Goodwill…” I said ” I will try to hold that thought, but it really makes me angry because I see visions of whoever took those items just selling them at a yard sale…” Bill laughed and said “well, we did see that Goodwill was having a 50% off sale today… maybe the people that helped themselves to our items decided what makes more sense… 50% off everything at Goodwill or FREE at our house…?”

Personally, I don’t care what the reason was for the people that helped themselves to our items clearly marked for Goodwill, I think they ought to be ASHAMED of themselves, because that, in my opinion, is shameful… just SHAMEFUL!!!

I think Happy Hour is calling me now… 🙂

Stayed Tuned!

 

Oh Rats

As I mentioned in my past post, our family has been dealing with a difficult challenge for the past month, and we are still very much in the middle of getting things under control and back to “normal” or at least back to whatever our “normal” is…. And, because I was asked not to blog about the details of the situation which was all-consuming of my time, energy, and emotions…I found it easier not to blog at all this past week.

However, over the past week, I did a lot of praying, self talks, long walks, and trusting that everything will work out to a positive outcome as I know it will…. and, I continued to look for something, other than our challenge to blog about so here it is…

Our daughter, Shantel, is taking Biology 201 this semester, which is Human Anatomy & Physiology. She really wasn’t looking forward to this class in the beginning. However, she really likes the Professor, Dr. Spencer. She said he is really great about getting your attention and keeping you interested throughout the entire lecture and lab which is a total of 2 1/2 hours every Tuesday and Thursday.

On day one of the biology lab, the class was divided into groups. Shantel is in a group with three other students. The first assignment was to chop up squash as a way to help the students learn the biology terms, and how to use the tools used when they advanced to actually dissecting RATS, which happened in the very second lab.

Since Shantel is blind, she said she and the group all very quickly decided Shantel would not be the one using the scalpel… good decision on their part I think. But that did not mean Shantel would not have every other opportunity to fully participate in the lab experience.

Each group was given one rat and told to “pin it down so it wouldn’t move around” which quickly struck panic in one girl who said “OMG, you mean they are alive…”  Shantel said the whole class erupted into laughter at that. Dr. Spencer pointed out that no, they were not alive, but if you don’t pin them down on the tray, they will slide around when you are cutting into them…

So, once the class was back under control, the dissecting began. Shantel said Dr. Spencer insisted she hold the heart of the rat her group dissected, and that she touch the liver.

One group had a rat that was pregnant and that group had to take the unborn baby rats out of the mother. Then, Dr. Spencer had Shantel hold one of the unborn baby rats.. I asked Shantel how big the unborn baby rat was and she said about an inch long including the placenta that was still attached and hanging off the tail.. oh my!!! I wish I had a picture of that…

Now, for those of you who may not know, Shantel has REAL issues touching things she thinks might not be clean. She won’t even touch raw meat when we are cooking together, not even if she has gloves on… So for her to hold the heart, touch the liver, and hold an unborn baby rat was a HUGE achievement for her. HUGE!!

I asked Shantel what she was thinking while she was touching the heart, liver and unborn baby rat. She said “all I could think of was putting it down” She said she thought the whole experience was gross! I’m sure she did. But the main thing is she did it, and that is something to be very proud of. She didn’t let her fear get in the way of fully participating in the assignment. She knows she has to pass this class to earn her degree and graduate in May so she can move on to her next goal of attending Grand Canyon University in the fall.

I reminded Shantel that overcoming a fear is sometimes just a matter of changing your thoughts. It’s been said when you change your thoughts, you change your world… If we could all just remember that, and do it, we might not find ourselves thinking “Oh RATS!!!

Have a GREAT weekend.

Stay Tuned!

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