Connectedness

While it might seem odd to say this, I believe there is Spiritual Connectedness in the Resistance we are seeing. The Resistance that began after Trump’s election with citizens proclaiming …

Source: Connectedness

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Connectedness

While it might seem odd to say this, I believe there is Spiritual Connectedness in the Resistance we are seeing. The Resistance that began after Trump’s election with citizens proclaiming “not my president” and that really reached a climax with the well orchestrated Women’s March. I was really impacted by the Women’s March. I am very grateful for the friends who were willing to share their experiences with me in last week’s blog. The joy of their words jumped off the page as I read them. I could feel what they felt. It felt like a spiritual experience. It felt like Connectedness at its best.

Out of what may have started as a deep feeling of hopelessness, worry, pain, anger, disbelief and anxiety of Trump’s election is now evolving to a Spiritual Connectedness. We are talking to each other more. We are connecting either in person … at the mailbox with our neighbors, at the grocery store with someone we may not have talked to before … or on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram with friends who are sharing similar loss of eight years of brilliance of President Obama, with colleagues who say no way are we are going to be silent for four years while a man tries to take over our democracy using a white supremacy champion as a chief strategist.

When I introduced this blog in early January, one of the topics I wanted to explore was Connectedness / Spirituality. In an unexpected way, the past 10 days are revealing a new Spirituality through marching, through protesting, through recognizing how much more alike than different we are. I have a new hashtag, #Unitytrumpspolitics. The Women’s March, the protests to keep the Affordable Care Act, and the Muslim Ban protests are showing us this. Watching the person who took an oath to be President of the entire United States of America defy the Constitution has done more than nudge us to Connectedness, it has down right shoved us to Connectedness. We are so deep in this together now.

The onslaught of what looks like a dictatorship issuing executive orders that are not yet being greatly challenged by his party members in Congress, although they did so under the previous President, has created a fiefdom foundation that we are startled by. We are connected in a way that we might not have done otherwise. While my son did not expect that Trump would win, he said to me one thing he knew would happen as a result. He knew that I and people like me would not sit still for injustices if Trump were to follow through on what he campaigned about. My son was right.

So, as I walked the blocks of the Women’s March in Raleigh on January 21st and even as I went to the Moral Monday Rally in Raleigh by Rev. William Barber on January 30th, I felt like the Holy Spirit was all around me. No one can convince me that this isn’t the case, that we are not in the midst of a spiritual experience of Connectedness as much as it is a Movement.

It’s more than a Movement, it’s God’s Work to care how others are treated. It’s God’s Work to believe that Women’s Rights are Human Rights. It’s God’s Work to want Affordable Care for All. It’s God’s Work to protest for Equal Rights for All. It’s God’s Work to stand for Equal Pay for Equal Work. It’s God Work to accept refugees fleeing persecution. It’s God Work to say a woman has the right to talk with her doctor & family to make her health decisions. It’s God Work to want children in this country to have a Secretary of Education who actually cares about public education. It’s God’s Work to stand up for what is right. It’s God Work to speak for the voiceless.

Connectedness is you and me and everyone else saying if  they come for the Muslims in the morning, they will come back for me in the night so I will stand at the door for my Muslim sister at dawn so she is not taken.

Connectedness is saying slavery was an atrocity, Jim Crow was another version of it, voter suppression tries to continue it and we will not be quiet about it.

Connectedness is saying the Holocaust was about 6 million Jews being killed simply because of their religion so we will not sit by while a President tries to persecute Muslims just because of their religion.

Not this time.

We are connected in a virtual and spiritual way. I am having a spiritual experience while in this human form and connected to each of you on this journey. This I know.

Why We Marched …the Women’s March

The day of the 21st of January in the year 2017 will forever be marked as the Women’s March on the day after the inauguration of a misogynist, race-baiting, opportunist man who bragged about being able to sexually assault women … a man who got 3 million less votes than his opponent. The Women’s March had more attendees than the inauguration and it ended up bringing together more than 500,000 in Washington, DC and an estimated 4 million worldwide. Not to mention all the sites in the US because every state had a march somewhere in the state. But a global effort included in London, Paris, Sydney, Berlin, Antarctica, Iraq, Johannesburg. Two professors put together a spreadsheet that now estimates nearly 1 in every 100 American participated in a March somewhere. The number in DC was two or three times that of the inauguration. Some places broke records for marches of all time.

Even after a couple days, the exhilaration of being with the other marchers is still with me. It was truly phenomenal. It’s almost hard to describe. So, the blog this week features several women who marched in several different cities around the country. They’re talking about how it felt, why they marched and what it meant to them. I am letting their voices speak. I will give my own reflections in another blog later this week.

Thia Boggs marched in Oakland, CA: I prayed for good weather and the rainbow came. I helped a small Asian woman onto the train to get to the March and she turned our to be a McNair Scholar I had gone to Berkeley with over 20 years ago. I hadn’t seen her since we graduated. There were so many beautiful people at peace with each other. There were 85,000 marchers and zero arrests. My son, Zendo, experienced his first “We the People” display. I hope it stays with him. What I think about now is, I want more.

Camille Lamothe Moore marched in Washington, DC: It’s still difficult for me to believe that a segment of the US population is willing to overlook the lying misogynistic, racist, narcissistic, delusional bully that DJT was exposed as, just to vote against an overqualified, supremely intelligent, experienced, Democratic woman. We were and still are all heartbroken. The numbers still don’t add up for me (that’s another conversation), but in going through the stages of grief that we all went through, helplessness was the overwhelming feeling. Participating in the Women’s March on Washington was one way I could physically show my outrage, my dissent, my unwillingness to bend, so I could do my part to overcome the helplessness. I will not let the intentions of a small greedy group of people discourage me from doing what little I can to mend this country and to mend my own heart. It was wonderful banding with all types of people, seeing our like-mindedness, and feeling that love truly does trump hate. As #stillmypresident Obama said, we’ll be OK, but in the meantime, this is #whywemarch.

Gabby Reissland in Columbus, OH (she knitted more than 4 dozen pussyhats that were mailed and worn by marchers in Washington, DC, Raleigh, Orlando, Philadelphia, New York, and Columbus): I am proud of the women and men who marched in whatever city they were in. I could not be in every location but I contributed by providing pink pussyhats to people across the East Coast. This cause is a worthy cause because it is about the basic rights all women, men and children should be afforded. We need to stand up for those who can’t. And we need to do it until everyone is respected, cared for and loved by this Trump administration.

Anastasia Gray traveled from Philadelphia to march in Washington, DC: Wow what a journey! From the bus ride to the return trip home it was electrifying. Women, men and children as far as you could see were sharing stories and loving each other.  My heart was pounding and chills were felt with each chant from the crowd. The energy was electric, the tears real, the hugs frequent, and the power was so evident. Woman power, black, white, and all different hues were there in solidarity to fight for our rights.  The faces had strength and determination, for them it is only the beginning of advocacy, and justice for all. Black Lives Matter, voter’s suppression, women’s right … every issue that involves our family, our children, and our society were on display. I will never forget this experience for the rest of my life.

Angi Porter marched in Minneapolis/St. Paul: We all had different viewpoints, paradigms, approaches, and allegiances, but there was something remarkable and subtly encouraging about being in a crowd of people who all agreed about one thing.  It was nice to see that crowd get together, a world gathering against the new American regime. It was a moment when we all needed to do something, even if it was as simple as voicing our dissent.  In that effort, folks set their differences aside and an awe inspiring storm gathered.  I’m really glad that I didn’t sit on my couch with my arms crossed that day. Instead, I was part of that storm. Perhaps it’s a storm in a larger climate change. At the very least, it was a disruption and an indelible mark on the Trump story.  Either way, I’m happy to be able to say I was there.

Danita Ferguson Terry marched in Washington, DC: As I stood in the sea of marchers on Saturday I was awed by the shear numbers of women of all ages, ethnicities, cultures, colors and religions that had come together in this moment. Many of us, YES, are angry about the outcome of the election (and many of us have the right to be; we carried out our civic duty and voted. Some of us even donated time and/or money to campaigns reflective of our beliefs), but most of us are concerned about the future of our country and how our way of life could change. I spoke with a woman from Alaska, another from Michigan and countless others from various cities across the country. The fear that results from having an individual who clearly does not have the aptitude, diplomacy, knowledge of government and/or the Constitution running the country is real! And that reality becomes threatening when the protections for women, our rights, and, our hopes for progress in this never-ending fight for gender equality are dealt mighty blows. That’s why I marched. Not just because I am angry. I marched because I felt like that was something I could do to become energized to take action and encouraged that my actions could make a difference.

Marguerite Harper Scott marched in Raleigh, NC: Saturday’s Women’s March was not just a kumbaya moment, but a serious call to action. We were asked to turn to our neighbor and state what we were going to do post march. For some, probably nothing. I will continue to email, phone, and visit the members of the North Carolina General Assembly that affect retired teachers (that’s mainly women who depend on a pension with little or no COLA increases and health insurance that continues to rise). The political arena needs your help. Electing women is a priority.

Leilee Weyerhaeuser marched in San Francisco, CA: In November, on the night of the election, a woman in California searched for something she could plan that would actively counteract the destructive dynamics of the incoming President-elect. She envisioned people crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in a unified stand against bullying. On the morning of the inauguration, I walked towards the March she had planned. I looked up from a distance as I walked towards the bridge and saw a line of bumps. Then closer I could see it was the thousands of people lining up across the full span of the Golden Gate Bridge. We joined hands in unity and commitment to protect the rights of all people in our country, wearing purple to signify opposition to bullying. This was a powerful visual image of forming a human bridge across one of nature’s most dramatic chasms. This demonstration seemed different in tone than many of Women’s Marches that happened the next day. This “Hands Across the Bridge,” #bridgetogethergg, was focused mainly on solidarity with people whose rights are in jeopardy. Many people in the crowd talked with each other about standing up for understanding and love among all people, and the need to counter the words of hate that have streamed out of Trump group. Instead, this was a quiet, peaceful show of solidarity made manifest in 2,700 people linked by a common intention and commitment to equality.

Donna Wilson Peters marched in Kansas City: It was important to me to connect with like-minded individuals to express my opinions on issues of importance and to send a message to the new Trump Administration that we will not be silenced … we will stand strong and fight for those matters that impact us. And, it was more than a Women’s March … it was a phenomenal gathering of people worldwide .. a beautiful showing of humanity. Going forward, we must harness the energy from this historic movement and work to get more citizens engaged in the election process, and get more progressive women elected to local, state and federal offices.

Lizette Rouson Benefield marched in Washington, DC: We made a powerful statement that will forever move us forward.  It is up to us to keep the younger generation hopeful. I heard too many say that they did not understand how the march would do anything and could not understand the color of the hats. Some felt the hats should have represented the colors of people. From that day on, it shows what unity is all about. No matter how hard it gets, we cannot give up. We shall keep chasing, running and accomplishing. This day extended all women’s hopes and dreams.

These women marched for many reasons, some of the reasons overlap but some of the reasons are different. Their experiences were different but there was a common thread of unity, of oneness, of wanting to achieve fairness for all who have the privilege of life. Some people think for instance that to be pro-choice is to not be pro-life. Yet, on a day in January in 2017, women and men and children of all hues and background said we are both pro-choice and pro-life. We believe that when we come through the birth canal and land on the side of life in the land of the United States of America, we deserve the best this country can provide. And no one man, even after elected and inaugurated, will deprive us of the rights we know to be ours. Not on our watch. Not this time. And, we’re not done yet.

(post script: Clarence James designed some special posters for the Womens March in Raleigh and a limited number of prints and t-shirts will be available with these designs for the next 30 days. Send inquiries to 1984pvmt@gmail.com)

What is the cost of freedom?

Last week in his farewell address, President Barack Obama said that after January 20th, 2017 he will join you and me as a citizen. He sees citizen as the most important office in a democracy. I think being a citizen in a democracy comes with a cost. It is one of the cost we pay for freedom.

“It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we, in fact, all share the same proud title, the most important office in a democracy: Citizen. So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands.  It needs you.  Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.” – President Obama

Frederick Douglass said: “Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.” Yes, Mr. Douglass seems to agree that there is a cost of freedom, freedom is not free. If you aren’t interested in working to get it, then you aren’t really interested in freedom.

Malcolm X said: “If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.” “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace without freedom.” While dying may not be the extreme that we must go to, we do have to be willing to be uncomfortable.  We have to see that without each of us having the freedom to live our biggest dreams, none of us should be satisfied. All of us should be willing to sacrifice something.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” Recent elections have shown us very profoundly that those in power will give up nothing voluntarily. Republicans were even willing to accept someone who least mirrored their purported values in many ways in order to gain power. And they will have no shame in taking affordable health care from 20 million people unless we demand otherwise. Bitterness and hatred on our part will not resolve it but rather we must demand with resolve what we believe is right. And we cannot let up, we cannot concede.

There is an excellent article on five lessons we can learn from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that apply to Trump and I recommend you reading it on Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/5-lessons-from-martin-luther-king-for-trumps-america_us_5874fae0e4b043ad97e5bf75.

What is the cost of freedom? From President Obama’s farewell address: “Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift.  But it’s really just a piece of parchment.  It has no power on its own.  We, the people, give it power.  We, the people, give it meaning.  With our participation, and with the choices that we make, and the alliances that we forge. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms.  …  But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.”

For me, the cost of freedom is making choices every day to speak up for what I believe to be right. In the span of my lifetime, it has taken many forms. Sometimes it took the form of telling a senior partner at Arthur Andersen that we needed to do more than recruit at the University of Miami; that recruiting at NABA’s student conferences was important too because diversity mattered (and that was in 1982). Sometimes it took the form of speaking out at a board meeting as the lone dissenting vote when I just didn’t feel the organization was ready for the action being proposed. Sometimes it took the form of a letter to the editor bucking the way the powerful diocese was spending money. I think one of the costs of freedom is speaking up to keep power in check. Unchecked power becomes privilege  that thinks it can do whatever it chooses.  Trump is surely an example of the extremes of unchecked power up to this point in his life. We cannot let that still be the case once he is President.

There was so much in President Obama’s farewell address that convey lessons for us as we enter these final days of his presidency, and as we launch the resistance that we must engage in as the cost of freedom in the Trump era. To close out this week’s blog, I am sharing more tidbits from his address, they are just so good:

  • “A great gift that our Founders gave to us:  The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat and toil and imagination, and the imperative to strive together, as well, to achieve a common good, a greater good.”
  • “For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back.  But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all and not just some.”
  • “All of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power happens to be swinging.”
  • “Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear.  So, just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.”
  • “And so we have to preserve this truth with “jealous anxiety;” …It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.”

“Show up.  Dive in.  Stay at it.” – President Obama

Are you willing to incur the cost of freedom?  Keep in mind, if they come for your neighbor in the morning, they could be back for you in the night. Freedom is not free but I am convinced that the cost of freedom is worth it.

An age is called Dark, not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it (the light). – James Michener

That quote makes me think of the era we are about to enter. It is up to each of us to continue to be aware, to stay informed, to educate others and to shine the light on the truth. The Trump presidency stands a better chance of darkness if we don’t keep the light on the injustices, if we don’t call our Congressional Representatives, our Senators, our Governors, our state legislators. But, this week I am also shining a light on our health. There is so much for us to do in 2017 to stay sharp and be ready for what the Trump administration is going to throw at us. We have to be strong and up for the challenges to come. Women will march on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC … that will take energy and a healthy body. More marches will be planned, more protests will be needed. We cannot be silent and we cannot be weary. Let’s be healthy for what’s ahead.

Healthy focus – Healing the world starts with you. “There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophies.” – Friedrich Nietzche  “Your body is the vehicle for your spirit and your soul. It is the piece of the universe you’ve been given to tend, to care, to cherish.” – Geneen Roth. So, all this to say that January is a perfect time to get healthy, be healthy, and re-start your focus on having your best body to carry you through.

I was blessed to really focus on my body’s health in the last quarter of 2016 and I am starting 2017 healthier than I started 2016. My challenge is to keep it going, and that takes just as much focus as getting to this point. I love sweets but I had to learn moderation. In fact, moderation is a key to all of the foods we consume. So, I can’t drive up to Edible Art or Goodberry’s Frozen Custard every week. I can make my mother’s recipe for New Orleans pralines but I have to have someone to give them to and not keep them in the house. I used to love to bake biscuits on Saturday mornings when our daughters and son were growing up and bake a cream cheese pound cake but can’t keep doing that when it’s just me and hubby here to consume all of those calories.

I eat more salads and drink more protein drinks than I used to. I give credit to our son for sharing some new recipes for very creative salads. Forget about just using iceberg lettuce. Kale is flavorful and rich in nutrients. Add chick peas, chopped bell peppers, grated carrots, crispy onions, radishes, chopped broccoli. You can make a large bowl at the start of the week that will last the whole week. Go very light on dressing, try just a little olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, little bit of mayo and Mrs. Dash. This saves money and calories.

Learning new habits is what we all must do as our bodies “mature” so I encourage you to adapt to new habits in 2017 so that these physical vessels will carry us through the journey for many years to come.

Are you exercising regularly? My goal is to walk three miles every day. Some days it is only two miles but I rarely miss a day. Some days my energy level is low and I might not want to go but I never regret getting out in the neighborhood for a walk. I do regret the few days that I miss getting out for a walk. For 2017, my goal is to add in weights more often, three times a week is a good target. And, don’t be a pansy. Starting with three to five pound weights is fine but progress to 15, 20 or 25 pounds. (I will let you know how I’m doing.) Jumping jacks and squats are simple additions. We don’t have to spend money on fitness clubs, there is so much we can do to be healthy without opening the wallet for a club membership. If you will be more motivated by joining a club, then do what will get you going. The main thing is to do what you can to be your healthiest this year.

Keep in mind that the mountain is not going to lower itself to you. It is up to you to rise up to the greatest accomplishments in life.

In The New Yorker magazine, President Obama gave some good advice a few weeks after the election: “This is not the apocalypse,” Obama said. History does not move in straight lines; sometimes it goes sideways, sometimes it goes backward. A couple of days later, when I asked the President about that consolation, he offered this: “I don’t believe in apocalyptic—until the apocalypse comes. I think nothing is the end of the world until the end of the world.” Obama’s insistence on hope felt more willed than audacious. It spoke to the civic duty he felt to prevent despair not only among the young people in the West Wing but also among countless Americans across the country.

“A President who fought with dignity to rescue the country from economic catastrophe and to press for progressive change—from marriage equality to the alleviation of climate change—was putting on a mask of generous equanimity for a visitor whom he had every good reason to despise, an ethically challenged real-estate brander who had launched his political career by promoting “birtherism,” and then ran a sexist and bigoted campaign to galvanize his base. He fully grasps the nature of the bigotry and the nihilism that Trump has espoused in the name of working-class empowerment. Obama’s way is to keep cool while insisting on, and embodying, a faith in institutions.

Obama was convinced, accordingly, that Trump won less as a champion of working people than as an anti-establishment insurgent. “The President-elect, I think, was able to make an argument that he would blow this place up,” he said. “Hillary may have been more vulnerable because she was viewed as an insider. …I don’t think it was fair, but that’s how it played itself out.”

“Our job as a citizen and as a decent human being is to constantly affirm and lift up and fight for treating people with kindness and respect and understanding.”

A link to the full article interview is here: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/11/28/obama-reckons-with-a-trump-presidency?mbid=nl_Sunday%20Longreads%20(12)&CNDID=46597679&spMailingID=10183133&spUserID=MTcyNjEzODI2MDYwS0&spJobID=1080500581&spReportId=MTA4MDUwMDU4MQS2

Thanks for reading this second edition of The Calliope Hummingbird Project Blog. Have a good week.  

Janine

January 2, 2017 – Yes, I am starting a blog …the Calliope Hummingbird Project

A new year, now we must do more than consider who we are and what we will do. We must actually decide and take action. We have concluded 2016, for many of us it ended unexpectedly with the US Presidential election of a misogynist, racist, con man, liar who took advantage of tactics similar to Hitler to win an election. I choose not to wait to see what he will do, he has done enough already for me to be fully on guard and mindful that he can do a lot of damage to our country. I will be ready to call out his actions and call on our elected officials and media to respond.

Beyond the national politics, we must also focus on local & state politics. We must realize that elections on state & local levels, at a minimum, matter even more than a presidential election. State legislatures and governors make decisions every day that set regulations and policies that govern many things from the schools our youth attend to simple things like the streets we drive on. It matters. And, Congressional elections happen every two years, not every four years. Politics is local. We need good candidates at every level. Find out who your state representative is, who your state senator is, know who your judges are, your state attorney general, and of course Governor and other state-wide positions. Local & district judgeship court officers make decisions that impact ordinary people every day … think about Trayvon Martin’s case and the Charleston, SC church shooting case. Judges impacted those court cases. Many of those positions are elected directly and others are appointed by elected officials. Voters do make a difference.

So, what I am doing with a blog. I want to talk about what matters.

  • Yep, Politics is one of my subjects but it’s not the only one.
  • Health & fitness matter a lot for our quality of life. I will post thoughts and information on those topics. We all want to live well and live long.
  • Community and giving back matters a lot to me. My parents were actively involved in the community when I was growing up and their blood runs through my vein so my daughters and son have seen me do the same so I will blog about that.
  • My academic training was accounting / finance and while I haven’t been stellar in this area myself, I know folks who are so I will have guest bloggers who will give insights on these topics. Financial literacy will keep us all strong.
  • The other topic that I expect to blog on is Spirituality / Connectedness. I believe deeply in our oneness and that there is something bigger than all of us. I personally spend less time narrowing my view on one religion or another because I believe that is a personal choice so I leave that up to each person. I do choose to believe in God and our Connectedness as one in this universe where we each have the capacity to reach our best self. So, I may blog on various aspects of spirituality and connectedness.

Why the name “Calliope Hummingbird Project?” My mother’s favorite symbol was a hummingbird because it illustrated soaring despite experts saying it shouldn’t be able to fly. “Because of its speed, the hummingbird is known as a messenger and stopper of time. It is also a symbol of love, joy, and beauty. The hummingbird is also able to fly backwards, teaching us that we can look back on our past. But this bird also teaches that we must not dwell on our past; we need to move forward. When the hummingbird hovers over flowers while drinking nectar, we learn that we should savor each moment, and appreciate the things we love.” I often like the butterfly so I sometimes use it in addition to references to the hummingbird.

My mother grew up in New Orleans in public housing called the Calliope Projects. Coincidentally, I found out there is a calliope hummingbird and it is the smallest bird in North America north of Mexico. Tiny but tough, these birds are the smallest long-distance avian migrant in the world, spending winters in Mexico and a few small pockets of the southern U.S. So, it makes me to smile to name this blog the Calliope Hummingbird Project.

I may often relate similarities of hummingbirds, butterflies and other things in nature to what is happening in the areas I mentioned above that I will blog about. Just maybe they can remind us of the beauty in each moment to help strengthen us for life. I expect weekly updates to the blog, possibly several times a week. It’s free for now but quite honestly, we’ll see how it goes and whether a nominal subscription / fee might eventually be requested (maybe $1 to $2 per week, I’m not trying to bankrupt anyone but hope to stay above water in my retirement years). Your ideas and thoughts are welcome. Send them to calliopehummingbird29@gmail.com

Thanks for checking out the blog. Happy new year!

Janine