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Archive for August, 2014

I dedicate this to my beloved middle child, Keegan, who died at the age of 17 on May 30, 2001. We all miss you, baby boy.

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Glenn B Crowley; 1943

In My Daughter’s Eyes

Martina McBride

 

In my daughter’s eyes, I am a hero.

I am strong and wise, and I know no fear,

But the truth is plain to see.

She was sent to rescue me.

I see who I want to be

In my daughter’s eyes.

In my daughter’s eyes,

Everyone is equal.

Darkness turns to light,

And the world is at peace.

This miracle God gave to me,

Gives me strength

When I am weak.

I find reason to believe

In my daughter’s eyes,

And when she wraps her hand around my finger,

Oh, it puts a smile in my heart.

Everything becomes a little clearer.

I realize what life is all about.

It’s hanging on when your heart has had enough.

It’s giving more when you feel like giving up.

I’ve seen the light.

It’s in my daughter’s eyes.

In my daughter’s eyes,

I can see the future,

A reflection of who I am and what we’ll be,

And though she’ll grow and someday leave,

Maybe raise a family,

When I’m gone, I hope you see how happy she made me.

For I’ll be there,

In my daughter’s eyes.

 

I’ve used this song before to describe how I feel about my own daughter.  Our relationship is strong and solid, something for which I worked hard and something for which I will be forever grateful.  However, it also describes my father and me.  I remember when I was roughly 15, hearing my grandmother describe me as “daddy’s little girl”.  It embarrassed me at the time, but now that I’m older, I admit … I like it.  He and I had a unique relationship.  I’ve described it before a little, but suffice it to say that both of our personalities are hard-headed and that neither one of us was ever willing to back down in a disagreement.  However, our off-beat sense of humor matched … and our willingness to outwork anyone that attempted to put us down … and our sense of determination … among other things … made us understand each other, even when things may have been strained or when we were not near each other.  He was one of the strongest men I ever have known, and he would do anything for his family if he could.  When you read the words above and look in my eyes, you will see the reflection of who he was and what he was and still is.

My daddy’s middle name was “B”.  Yes, that’s right.  “B”.  It didn’t stand for anything.  It was simply “B”.  That always fascinated me as a child, because, I mean, doesn’t EVERYONE have a middle name (at least in the simple-minded thinking of a child)?  There’s a story behind that which makes me laugh every time I remember him telling it to me.  Apparently, he was supposed to have the middle name of “Brooks” but when my grandfather, a Kansas farmer born in 1901, recorded the birth certificate, he didn’t realize it was an “official document”.  He wrote in the name with just an initial, figuring that this was how most people would refer to him as he grew up, even though he had a middle name that his family would know.  My daddy always thought that his middle name was “Brooks” … until he was inducted into the United States Navy during World War 2.  They required his birth certificate.  When he received it, he found the truth … and decided not to bother changing it, because (1) he was going into the Navy and didn’t have that kind of time; (2) it cost money to do which he didn’t have; and (3) he liked it because it was unique.  I know that I have needed to explain it to people my entire life when asked for my father’s full name … that “B” was in fact his official middle name.  Hell, even on my own birth certificate, next to the area where they put in your father’s name, someone put “ok” next to it and initialed it, which makes me laugh that it even showed up as something in question on my OWN birth certificate.

He was born August 25, 1924.  He was 30 years older than me, so his age was always easy for me to remember: take mine and add 30 years.  Since I just turned 60 years old in July (which very few people realized), he’d be 90 today.  However, he died August 28, 1992 (3 days after his 68th birthday).  To me, that’s mind-boggling, as that was 22 years ago.  It’s also only 8 years older than I am right now.  The thing is: his face, his voice, even his aroma are still vivid in my brain.  I miss him still.  My mother, who turned 86 on August 17th, misses him still also.

My mother came from a completely different background than he did.  I have mentioned that previously, but I’ll go into that in more detail in another blog-post at some point in time.  My main point right now is that she came from a solid family and never had to worry about the simple things while growing up.  My father, on the other hand, was raised, as he always said “on the other side of the tracks”.  My mother and he met in college, which he was attending after World War 2 on the GI Bill.  I have always admired that drive in him to better himself.  I think that’s where I get a lot of my drive and my entrepreneurial spirit … but I will admit that both sides of the family have strong-willed entrepreneurial ancestors, so I come by it quite naturally.  In any event, I’ve mentioned before that he was raised mostly by a divorced woman in the 30s that moved to California with him and his younger sister out of the Dust Bowl.  Have any of you read “The Grapes of Wrath”?  Well, then, there you have it.

Anyway, growing up, it was my sister and me with my mother and him raising us.  We were suburban kids born smack dab in the middle of the Baby Boom Generation.  I remember him telling me specifically that part of what he admired so much about my mother is that she was an intelligent college-educated woman who could fend for herself if need be.  I also remember him telling me that he wanted to make sure that both of his daughters could handle being on their own if it ever came down to it, because he didn’t want to ever see us struggle as much as his mother did.  I remember him telling me that, while he hoped we’d never have to worry about being on our own, he wanted to make sure his daughters could survive alone if ever it was necessary.  My sister’s beloved husband died unexpectedly a few years ago.  While it was a major shock and a very sad day, she has been quite able to take care of herself since.  I have been divorced.  I have had a child die.  I have been through major financial set-backs and job layoffs.  I have survived and taken care of myself and those that I love.  I have, as he would have said, landed on all 4’s like a cat.  My daddy, along with my mother, helped instill that in me. 

My mother has always wanted the same for us.  She was a college-educated lady in the 1940s when that was rare, and she taught school while I was growing up.  She also became a trainer at a major national department store chain and retired as a store manager many years later.  She has always been quite adept at handling herself.  However, from her background, she also always tried very, very hard to raise us to be “ladies” and to be able to fit into any society event there might be.  I learned very young how to function in formal society, how to handle formal banquets (for example, what plates, silverware, glasses, bowls, etc were to be used for each course), how to dress “properly” for whatever the occasion might be, how to do and/or be however was required.  I may not always choose to be in those situations or to even do what I’m “supposed” to do, but I know how (at least generally) if I so choose and if the occasion arises.

So, while I love the fact that I can fit in anywhere when I need to (which is another reason why I think I can handle the political/government environment in which I work), this is where my daddy would say he “won” … because I prefer the country … out of “formal society” … away from the cities … out where I can run barefoot if I want to … out with my dog and cats … out where I can just be me.

 

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 I guess from their diverse backgrounds and from the fact that we moved so much when I was a kid, I learned how to fit in anywhere any time with anyone.  My father was a corporate transferee in the 60s and early 70s as a credit manager.  While I was born in Southern California, I have lived in California, Ohio, Texas, and Illinois, and I have travelled to approximately 45 out of the 50 states.  I love this background quite honestly as it makes me very versatile.  I will also state unequivocally … while I know how to fit into high-society if I need to … I’m much more of a “down home” and “tell it like it is” kind of personality.  I don’t like playing societal games, trying to fit in with the neighbors, keeping up with the Jones, putting across a social façade.  What can I say?  That was my father’s doing.

“Don’t be fake, Jill.”

“Go for broke, Jill.”

“Don’t let anyone ever put you down, Jill.”

“Never feel inferior, Jill.”

“Stand tall, Jill.”

“Have an opinion, Jill.”

“Stand up for yourself, Jill.”

“Tell people what you think and who you are, Jill.”

“Believe in yourself, Jill.”

 

Red Neck Woman

Gretchen Wilson

 

Well, I ain’t never been no Barbie Doll type.

No, I can’t swig that sweet champagne.

I’d rather drink beer all night

In a tavern or in a honkytonk or on a 4-wheel drive tailgate.

… You might think I’m trashy,

A little too hard core,

But in my neck of the woods, I’m just the girl next door.

Hey I’m a red neck woman.

I ain’t no high class broad.

I’m just a product of my raisin’.

I say, “Hey, y’all!” and “Yee Hah!”,

And I keep my Christmas lights on on my front porch all year long,

And I know all the words to every Tanya Tucker song.

So here’s to all my sisters out there keepin’ it country!

Let me get a big “Hell Yeah!” from the red neck girls like me!

HELL YEAH!

 

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My father definitely knew that I didn’t fit into the “sugar and spice and everything nice” sort of mold of which little girls are supposedly made (at least as per the old rhyme).  While I have a very unique sense of style and love to dress up in my own manner, I am not one that is the typical frills and lace kind of woman.  My father always knew that I was made more out of gunpowder and lead instead of sugar & spice (or lace & satin … or whatever).

What can I say?  If it’s true, well, then, it’s true.

We’ll just put it this way:  he made sure that I can quite clearly hold my own no matter what.

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Essentially, I was taught to have my independence if need be but to have a partner in life if I also so desired; to have my own sense of style (because I’m taller than average [he was 6’5”], he taught me to carry my height proudly and not be like a lot of women that try to be something they aren’t); to have the ability to fit in however, whenever, wherever, and with whomever as necessary.  So I do …

 

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He taught me to expect to be treated like a lady by the man in my life but to be an equal partner like my mother was with him.

Oh … and by the way … Roy agrees … I am an equal partner … I am treated like a lady … and I most definitely do deserve bigger diamonds …

 

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… but then again … I digress … as that’s not the point of this blog-post …

 🙂

 I have a lot of great memories of my father, even though it’s been 22 years since he died.  I remember him teaching me to ride a bike.  I remember him teaching me to sled down a hill when we lived in Ohio. I remember him quizzing us so that we’d memorize all the state capitols.  I remember him taking us to places like New Orleans and Big Bend National Park and New York City and Monterey and Balboa Island.  I remember him teaching me how to pour beer and champagne so that it wouldn’t bubble over the top of a glass … when I was 10.  (No, he didn’t let me DRINK IT … he just taught me how to pour it properly at that age.)  I remember him building snow men with us.  I remember him trying to teach me to drive, with me returning in tears and him swearing and yelling … so my mother took over that job.  I also remember him yelling at us (quite loudly I might add) when we did something wrong, but I more clearly remember the twinkle in his eye when my mother was mad at us and he didn’t want to interfere, but he wanted to let us know that they still loved us.

I remember him walking me down the aisle at my first wedding and seeing his eyes tear up.  I remember he used to check on me even while I was married to make sure I was ok.  (I was.  That marriage collapse is not part of anything I’m willing to discuss here ever as it’s between my ex-husband and me.  Suffice it to say that he and I are good friends, and he’s a good friend to Roy also.  We all sat side-by-side in the front row at our daughter’s wedding and joked between us the entire time.)  In any event, I wish my father could have met my second husband too.  I wish he could have been at my second wedding.  He’d have loved Roy too.  He supported me in whatever decision I needed to make for my own life.  I wish he could have been at my daughter’s recent wedding.  At least his picture was on the memorial table along with my 2nd son’s picture.  (Keegan died 13 years ago.)

Again, however, I digress. 

I think one of the fondest memories I have is how much my mother and he loved to dance.  I grew up watching them dance to Big Band music and loved it.  He would dance with my sister and me around the living room … or wherever.  I have a clear memory of being about 8 or 10 and out to dinner with the family at a nice restaurant.  I remember standing on his feet while he moved around the dance floor with me to a jazz ensemble playing.  He had a major love of music … but didn’t love any particular kind.  He loved hearing my mother play the piano.  You also might just as well hear him listening to Big Band as you would Rock or Classical or Jazz or Country, and even though his singing was not something anyone with a normal ear would classify as “singing”, he would “sing” anyway, and it would always make me feel happy inside.  I miss dancing with my father.  I still miss it.  I know my mother does also.  It was part of who he was, which makes it part of who I am.  Like I have said above, he’s a reflection in his daughter’s eyes.

 

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Dance with My Father

Luther Vandross

 

Back when I was a child,

Before life removed all the innocence,

My father would lift me up

And dance with my mother and me and then

Spin me around till I fell asleep.

Then up the stairs he would carry me,

And I knew for sure

I was loved.

If I could get another chance, another walk, another dance with him,

I’d play a song that would never ever end.

How I’d love, love, love

To dance with my father again.

When I and my mother would disagree,

To get my way I would run from her to him.

He’d make me laugh just to comfort me

Then finally make me do just what my mama said.

Later that night when I was asleep,

He left a dollar under my sheet,

Never dreamed that he would be gone from me.

If I could steal one final glance, one final step, one final dance with him,

I’d play a song that would never ever end,

Because I’d love, love, love to dance with my father again.

Sometimes I’d listen outside her door,

And I’d hear how my mother cried for him.

I pray for her even more than me.

I pray for her even more than me.

I know I’m praying for much too much,

But could you send back the only man she loved?

I know you don’t do it usually,

But, Dear Lord, she’s dying to dance with my father again.

Every night I fall asleep and this is all I ever dream.

 

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I have other great memories of my father, but I’ll just focus on a couple more.  I have said this often, but we moved a lot when I was a kid, which means that we weren’t always near family at holidays.  I love that on holidays we would find other “strays” as my father would call them (as well as us) that also had no family nearby and would get together with them.  We really learned a lot about other people that way.  I love that I can fit in anywhere.  I love that I met all sorts of people. 

However, it also made it so that we learned to depend on each other very strongly, because we were all we had that was “constant”.  The last time I moved with my family was when I was a sophomore in high school.  My mother was a school teacher and needed to finish her contract through the semester.  My sister was a senior in high school and wanted to graduate with her friends there.  Along with my parents, we decided that it was best for me to move mid-year at Christmas break, as that way I’d be starting back to school with everyone else, and I’d be able to make some friends throughout the rest of the year at my new high school.  My father had started his new job in Northern California, and my mother and sister were still in Southern California.  I moved the beginning of January to live with my father until my mother finished her contract a little after that.  My sister stayed with friends after my mother left until she graduated from high school in the spring.  My point in this, however, is the time frame that it was just my father and me.

No matter how many times you move, it’s still very difficult moving when you are 15 years old and in the middle of high school.  I left behind my very first “boyfriend”, which was, of course, my massively major heartbreak of the century to my tender teenage heart.  As most long distance relationships at that age go, it didn’t last.  I was a disaster case.  My father did everything in his power to cheer me up.  We even took little weekend trips.  I remember one in particular where we drove to Oregon on the spur of the moment to visit long-time family friends.  That was probably one of the most fun times and one of my best memories of things that he and I did together ever.  I remember him telling me each and every time I got teenage weepy or teenage weird that we’d “make it through together” as it was “him and me against the world”.  This man even let me try to make dinner for us most nights when he came home from work.  I had never cooked meals in my life.  Suffice it to say that I learned fast … and any man I’ve ever cooked for since was the beneficiary of him smiling through clenched teeth and telling me that my cooking was WONDERFUL.  It wasn’t … but it was “him and me against the world”.

 

You And Me Against The World

Helen Reddy

 

You and me against the world!

Sometimes it feels like you and me against the world!

When all the others turn their backs and walk away,

You can count on me to stay!

Remember when the circus came to town,

And you were frightened by the clown?

Wasn’t it nice to be around

Someone that you knew,

Someone who was big and strong

And looking out for you?

You and me against the world!

Sometimes it feels like you and me against the world!

And for all the times we’ve cried,

I always felt that God was on our side,

And when one of us is gone,

And one of us is left to carry on,

Then remembering will have to do.

Our memories alone will get us through.

Think about the days of me and you.

You and me against the world!

Daddy, my memories of you supporting me NO MATTER WHAT have gotten me through things that I wasn’t sure how I’d get through.  I have always known … that if you could do it through the Great Depression with a divorced mother … through World War 2 … through supporting yourself through college with the help of the GI Bill … through numerous moves around the country … through your health issues … through your financial issues … through whatever you had to go through … well, then so could I.

So I’ll end with this.  I remember the day I heard that you were dying.  I remember my mother calling me and telling me to come to the hospital.  You had been in and out with all sorts of issues relating to your heart, your lungs, and your diabetes.  Your strength of character and iron-will brought you through so much.  However, as you always told me to do, you had played the cards you were dealt in life, you had never ever folded, and you had enjoyed the game while you were in it.  You had also said, “When the game ends, leave gracefully with a smile on your face.”

I left home an hour away and brought my children, then almost 10, 8½, and 3½, to their cousin’s house to be watched by older cousins.  I arrived at the hospital and came up next to your bed.  Your health was tenuous at best.  I could tell that you were hanging on for us … particularly for Mom.  I put my hand in yours, and you gripped it.  I saw you smile.  You were still fighting a valiant battle, but it was time for your game to be done, and you knew it.  You even had that smile on your face.

Up until that point, this became one of the hardest things I’d ever had to do.  I lay my head down next to you on your hospital bed while I sat in the chair.  I told you, “It’s ok, Dad.  It’s ok to let go.  We’ll be ok.  Mom will be ok.  We’ll all make sure each other are ok.  You helped make us strong.  Go be with your God.  You can let go now, Daddy.”

The first time I heard this song, I remember crying myself to sleep.

 

You Can Let Go

Crystal Shawanda

 

Wind blowin’ on my face

Sidewalk flyin’ beneath my bike

A five year-old’s first taste

Of what freedom’s really like

He was runnin’ right beside me

His hand holdin’ on the seat

I took a deep breath and hollered

As I headed for the street

You can let go now, Daddy

You can let go

Oh, I think I’m ready

To do this on my own

It’s still a little bit scary

But I want you to know

I’ll be ok now, Daddy

You can let go

I was standin’ at the altar

Between the two loves of my life

To one I’ve been a daughter

To one I soon would be a wife

When the preacher asked,

‘Who gives this woman?’

Daddy’s eyes filled up with tears

He kept holdin’ tightly to my arm

‘Till I whispered in his ear

You can let go now, Daddy

You can let go

Oh, I think I’m ready

To do this on my own

It still feels a little bit scary

But I want you to know

I’ll be ok now, Daddy

You can let go

It was killin’ me to see

The strongest man I ever knew

Wastin’ away to nothin’

In that hospital room

‘You know he’s only hangin’ on for you’

That’s what the night nurse said

My voice and heart were breakin’

As I crawled up in his bed, and said

You can let go now, Daddy

You can let go

Your little girl is ready

To do this on my own

It’s gonna be a little bit scary

But I want you to know

I’ll be ok now, Daddy

You can let go

You can let go

 

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Roy, we have now known each other for well over 10 years. I still am amazed (and amused) by how we met and how we got together. People tell us it was “coincidence”, but, as we both know, there is no such thing as “coincidence”. The Hand of God was definitely in it, with a Higher Power in control.

 

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There are times we both are “unlovable” … but we continue to love each other in spite of our shortcomings.

 

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There are times that we know that God and our “guardian angels” have a major sense of humor for the things we’ve encountered. Driving each other as well as anyone around us crazy … well, isn’t that part of the fun in life?

 

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There are things we’ve been through that would have shaken most people to the core. We continue on in spite of it all.

 

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ANYWHO!!!

This was supposed to be originally posted on your birthday on 7.6.14 … but I couldn’t pull it together this year for either your birthday OR my birthday.

 

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Nevertheless, after all you have done for me … as well as for all three of my children, whether they are here physically or in spirit … and for the wedding of Kara and Alex (our newest son) … and for working with me to build businesses of our own … and for loving me even when I wasn’t sure I loved myself …

 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU (exactly one month late but whatever)!!!!!!

 

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I JUST CALL YOU ‘MINE’

Martina McBride

 

I pinch myself

Sometimes to make sure I’m not in a dream.

That’s how it seems.

I close my eyes

And breathe in the sweetest moments I’ve ever known.

It feels like home,

And here I am.

I want to be your everything!

There you are,

Turning winter into spring,

And everyone that sees you

Always wants to know you,

And everyone that knows you

Always has a smile.

You’re a standing ovation

After years of waiting

For a chance to finally shine.

Everyone calls you “Amazing”.

Yeah,

I just call you “Mine”.

I fall apart

And just a word from you somehow seems to fix

Whatever’s wrong.

Oh,

You reach into

The weakest moments and remind me that I’m strong.

You gotta know

I’d be a fool

Not to see or, even worse, to forget

That you’re more than I deserve,

‘Cuz everyone that sees you

Always wants to know you,

And everyone that knows you

Always has a smile.

You’re a standing ovation

After years of waiting

For a chance to finally shine.

Everyone calls you “Amazing”.

I just call you “Mine”.

Nothing makes sense when you’re not here,

As if my whole world disappears.

Without you what’s the point of it,

‘Cuz everyone that sees you

Always wants to know you,

And everyone that knows you

Always has a smile.

You’re the dream that I’ve been chasing

After years of waiting

For a chance to finally shine.

Everyone calls you “Amazing”.

I just call you

MINE!

 

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As The Beatles sang: “… can’t buy me love, money can’t buy me love”.

You’ve given it to me freely. I give mine in return.

 

 

 

Carry on, all!

🙂

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This post is not meant to whine or complain. It’s just to state a fact. When it seems that I’ll have a guardian angel allow something great to happen, something else happens and my guardian angel is off duty … or something … so maybe it’s a little bit of whining … so yes, I’ll have some cheese with that.

 

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Now don’t get me wrong. I’m quite well aware that my life and what I do with the things that happen are my choice … to a certain extent anyway. At least it’s my choice to handle what happens in the manner that I choose to handle it. I’ve had my share of “what the hell happened there” moments in life … but I think we all have. I just choose to keep getting up and swinging back at whatever knocked me down. I never quit. I always choose an optimistic outlook on life. Overall I choose to accept what is and carry on … but there are times that I just need some of that cheese to go with my whine.

 

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On July 22, I turned 60 years old. That’s surreal in my brain. I don’t feel 60 … but then again I don’t know what age I feel, so I guess this is what 60 feels like. All I know is I don’t mind the age I am, so there you have it.

Anyway!!! I wanted to do a big bash birthday party for this year (60 is a big milestone, doncha think?), because I never really had one growing up and through the years. I moved a lot when I was a kid, so I was either in the process of moving between school years or I had just arrived so I didn’t know anyone or with my birthday in the summer, everyone was gone on vacation so parties were small. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be this year either, however, because I just didn’t get myself organized for one and the day came and went fairly innocuously, particularly since it was theoretically a day I had to work, but I ended up sick and at home. It doesn’t really matter though. It’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen … or not as the case may be.

Life goes on. It’s simply a day like any other day … but it’s something in my brain anyway. However … I couldn’t even get it together to write something to actually post on my birthday.

Again … life goes on. I am always willing to celebrate my birthday on my own … with Roy’s help as always … which is what we did.

🙂

 

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I guess there’s no real point to this blogpost … at least in the opinion of the “average person”, but since I’ve never claimed to be “average”, I carry on as is. Therefore … since the only recent picture I have of myself is one Roy took of me at a recent business banquet 4 days after my birthday (I generally am not one that gets caught on camera.  Whether it’s on purpose by me avoiding it or whatever other reason there might be by whoever is taking pictures, it’s actually rather odd, since I can’t say that I have ever been one to blend in and not be noticed … with the fact that I’m tall … red-haired … green-eyed … fair-skinned … freckled … and very outspoken), I’ll use it as my 60th birthday “portrait” if you will (it was taken on an iPhone … LOL) … and say …

HAPPY 60TH BIRTHDAY TO ME … PRECISELY 2 WEEKS LATE!

 

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I’ll end with this … since it’s a song I always have liked, corny as it may be. It fits me … and doesn’t … all at the same time.

 

“It’s not easy being green,
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves,
When I think it could be nicer being red or yellow or gold or something more colorful like that.
It’s not easy being green.
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things,
And people pass you over, ‘cause you’re not standing out like flashy sparkles or stars in the sky,
But green’s the color of spring,
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like a mountain or important like a river or tall like a tree.
When green is all there is to be,
It could make you wonder why,
But why wonder?
Why wonder?
I’m green and it’ll do fine.
It’s beautiful and I think it’s what I want to be.”
Jim Henson

 

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So with that … I post this picture of my favorite red-striped frog that lives in the plants on my front deck at home.
I can relate to this little guy.

Like this frog … I’ll never just blend in and be green … no matter how many people wish I would.

Carry on, all!!!!!!

🙂

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