All posts by Planet Noun

Buttery ways to heal the skin you’re in

Screenshot of  http://biggsandfeather.com homepage

Big-ups to Biggs and Featherbelle!

They saved my skin!  Literally… Okay, their products helped restore a patch of skin to its former glory.  As much glory as palm-of-hand skin can achieve.
Something went awry when I was visiting my folks a few years ago.  I was glancing at my hands one spring afternoon, and noticed my skin birthing a flake inside my left hand between my thumb and index finger.

What the what? I thought, picking at it.  Ehhhh, nothing much there, ’twas only dry skin.  I left it alone.  After I got back to the East Coast, that spot on my hand started flaking more.

Whatever, I thought.  Lotion to the rescue!  I massaged and rubbed that stuff several times a day.

Only it didn’t help.  Not only did it not help, my skin got worse. It started looking slightly inflamed and purple-ish.
What the WHAT?
I told my mom.
I told my sister.
I asked the Internet.
I asked friends.

“Go to a dermatologist,” some recommended.  Sure, that makes since, because… skin.  And something was obviously wrong with my left hand’s epidermis.

So I went, was handed an eczema diagnosis for that patch of skin, was gifted steroid samples which whipped that hand back into shape real quick.  Relief!

However, when I stopped using it, the irritation revved up again, with a vengeance— wheelies and all.

This is a bunch of foolishness, I thought.  Nothing is working.  So I  returned to searching the only bastion of earth’s certainties: The Internet.
“Natural remedies for eczema,” I Googled, Binged, maybe even Netscaped.
Then this brilliant idea popped into my head:  Shea Butter!
But where would I buy it?  Didn’t know, so I asked the Internet for help.

THAT’S how I met Biggs and Featherbelle products.

They’re based in Baltimore, Md., and are sold in a slew of stores locally and elsewhere; according to their website it’s 33 states and the District of Columbia.

I also started using Shea Moisture soaps, and soaps from Trader Joe’s, stopped using my hand soap and traded it for one of these natural bar soaps.  When I showered or washed my hands throughout the day, I massaged a bit of Biggs and Featherbelle’s scented seasonal Shea butters or cocoa/shea butter combos into the irritated patch on my hand.

These products, especially the Shea and cocoa butter products,  were the things that gave my skin much relief.  That patch healed itself when nothing else worked, thanks to nature’s enabling emollients.

This is my Day 10 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community

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Discovering the deep, discovering voice

I know why I’m here.  My parents copulated and, well… nature kept on moving.

That doesn’t answer the why… it answers the how.  Let’s get to why.

The answer to these questions evolves with each stage of my life.


I was writing in my journal… but that wasn’t “writing,” writing. Only dawdle-thoughts in pastel-colored books. 


When I was in kindergarten, my biggest goal was to graduate from the 8th grade.  When I became a high school freshman, the top two goals became college acceptance and 12th grade graduation.  As a college freshman, the goals were were jobs and putting out quality work, exploring and applying for internships, studying and passing tests, taking inventories to know which careers better suit my personality, learning to roller skate backwards, keeping up with my studies, all of this with graduation as the end goal for that pathway.

During that time, I had always wanted to be a writer. I mean, I was writing in my journal throughout college, but that wasn’t “writing,” writing. Only dawdle-thoughts in pastel-colored books.

Here’s a confession.  It’s taken me years to accept that my penchant for scrawling notes and story ideas on scraps of paper, keeping small spiral notebooks of ideas, scrawling in journals, and these days, using various apps to store ideas on electronic devices might actually mean something.  It’s a sign there’s no shortage of ideas about what to write.  However, all those scribblings will be a whole heap of nothing if I don’t follow through by cobbling then crafting these ideas into complete works.  It doesn’t matter if they’re blog posts, freelance magazine articles, extra projects for work, or complete books.   I am here to think, write, dream, write, establish goals, and diligently work at them to and through fruition.

At work, I have the privilege of telling other people’s stories, which I deeply enjoy.  It’s a key part of my life.  Sometimes these stories are gleeful, other times, downright sad.  But these experiences are important to share.  In addition to telling other folks’ stories, I’m also meant to write my own story, in my own voice.

Discovering the deep

Speaking of voice, when I was a little girl, I spent lots of time tinkering around with one of my dad’s tape recorders.  The mono, black recorder with the little orange rectangle that users had to depress in order to capture audio. That old school thing.   I remember the first time I experimented with it, and recorded myself talking and singing made-up ditties.   When it was playback time, imagine my horror when I didn’t sound like some of the high-pitched voices that other little girls at school or on television released from their larynxes.

“You sound like a boy,” I thought, extremely disappointed with reality.

Fast forward to seventh or eighth grade, when I got the first random compliment for my speaking voice. Jump ahead to college, and my boy-sounding voice (coupled with that kind lady’s random compliment which buoyed my confidence) helped land me a job at the campus radio station.  Fast forward past more jobs in radio, and I’ve learned to be thankful for both my writing and speaking voices.  Even if some poor souls mistake me for a man over the phone.  It’s alright.  Still thankful.

This is my Day 8 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community.

 

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A surprise win and being enough

It was October, nineteen some-ty something.

Calendars marked that day as Halloween, but at my parochial school it was Hat Day.  I was a Kindergarten wreck because I hated my hat.

The night before, my dad brought out supplies to help my sister and I create our contest entries.

With construction and wrapping paper, glue, scissors, fluffy, colorful vintage yarn ribbons (that weren’t yet vintage, to my knowledge) and other crafting supplies gathered on the dining room table, we got to work.

Daddy showed us how to roll our hats to create cone-shaped construction-paper hennin.

My older sister got set making and decorating her own hat, but my little five-year-old hands needed Daddy’s help.

Sissy found a pattern of Christmas wrapping paper she liked, glowing candles, and she started cutting those out and glueing them on her conical hat.  The cutout paper candles seemed so warm, and they were Christmassy, and my sister liked them, so I wanted them, too.

But, Daddy was looking through other crafting items to help me with my hat design.  I wasn’t having it. I wanted to be like my older sister, so I grumbled a bit while my dad kept decorating my hat.  He was having more fun than I was.

We completed our hats (actually, my dad completed mine… my sister completed hers) and left them on the dining table to dry overnight.

The next morning, it was up and at-em to get us to school on time.  Our mom dropped us off, and Sissy and I walked toward our separate classrooms.

I was still distraught over my hat. I still wanted it to be like my sister’s.  Mine was too different.  No one would like it.  People would laugh at it.  It wouldn’t fit in.

It was almost time to enter the classroom, but I didn’t want to go anywhere near the Kindergarten yard.  I was in tears, dragging my hat through the grass and dirt between the first and second grade classrooms.  One of the other teachers or an aide saw me and wondered why I was crying.

“I don’t like my hat,” I wept.

Apparently, she didn’t think was that deep, because she didn’t seem as out of sorts as this poor weepy kid.  She consoled me a bit and got me where I belonged. Inside that-there classroom.

Fast forward to our Hat Day assembly. The entire school gathered in the auditorium and each class, from K-8 paraded their hats before the entire school.  From the dull to the creative, it was always a fun experience.  When It was time for our class to parade our hats on stage, the excitement took over, and I don’t recall being puddle of tears anymore.  Seeing all the enjoyment packed into that one room was a reason to smile.

When the best hat creations were announced for each age group, I was among the winners.  I didn’t go into this to win a thing. I thought what I had to offer, what Daddy crafted for me to present in public, wasn’t up to standard. It was too ugly. It was too different. It didn’t fit in.  This word wasn’t in my vocabulary at that time, but it was way too eclectic.

But I was a winner because I took what my Dad poured his heart and enjoyment into and did what I could do with it.  I wore it.  Can’t say I wore it with pride, but I wore it, I walked the stage and sat down.

That evening, I vaguely remember my sister and I telling Daddy that I was among the winners.  I also recall this distinct thought/feeling. Maybe Daddy or Sissy said it, or maybe it was a divine whisper:  You may secretly think what you have to present to others isn’t up to par, but you might be surprised.  It might be a winner.

This is my Day 7 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community

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Free fun, exploration to bookend National Park Week 2017

Prehistoric granaries along the Colorado River above Nankoweap in Marble Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park. NPS photo by Mark Lellouch.

Mark this event on your calendar, because it spans “from sea to shining sea.” National Park Week is your chance to partake in some of the United States’ national treasure sites, from beautiful natural locales, to spaces where a nation grappled over its past and its future, and pathways tread by those who sought liberty.

National Park Week runs April 15-23, 2017.

Visitors can enjoy free entry at every national park during the weekends that bookend National Park Week: April 15-16 and 21-23.

If you live in or are planning to visit Washington D.C., a newly restored National Historic Site will be open to peruse during the final weekend of National Park Week: The home of Carter G. Woodson, the man known as “The Father of Black History.” In 1915, Woodson established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History which is now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Woodson purchased and lived in his home on 9th Street, Northwest near Q Street from 1922 until his death in 1950. Negro History Week, the precursor of Black History Month, was also established in 1926 while he lived and worked in this home.

The first of a three-phase revitalization project was being completed as Black History Month 2017 drew to a close.

“I know there was a significant amount of work done,” says Carter G. Woodson Home superintendent Tara Morrison.

Morrison says all of the bricks on the home’s facade were taken out, identified by location and catalogued. They were then repaired and placed in their original locations. Historic moldings, frames and decorative pieces were also removed, repaired an replaced. During the first phase of the restoration, fixing structural damage from natural happenings, such as the 2011 earthquake, were a first phase priority. Exhibit development and interpretation will happen during the next two phases.

Not only was the process of structural restoration a painstaking one, but Dr. Woodson painstakingly worked to increase popular consciousness about African American history, work which happened in this home on 9th Street, NW.

Woodson historian and author Pero Dagbovie describes it as a clearing house of historical information about black people.

“He would ship things to people throughout the country who would write him asking for materials on black history. Of course, it wasn’t like things are today where you can just go on the Internet and download anything you want. He singlehandedly launched this movement from this space…”

Dr. Woodson dedicated his life to this mission.

“I mean on average, they say he worked about 18 hour days and didn’t sleep a whole lot, and committed his entire life to popularizing and legitimizing the study of black history at a time when African American history in the broader American society and academy was not seen with great respect, and he used to refer to this movement, this black history movement as a life and death struggle, literally,” Dagbovie says.

Dr. Woodson’s home will be open on April 21-23, the final days of National Park Week. Space is limited. Call (202) 690-5152 to make a reservation, or visit the Carter G. Woodson Home site for more information.

MAP:

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Five things you MUST know about Greenleaf 2.3

There’s this scene:

  1. Grace Greenleaf morphs into a vandal.  Has this child lost her ever-loving mind? Or her ever bat swinging mind? Must be the case. Because why is she doing steak-outs at Uncle Mac’s apartment and watching him closer than a hawk in the sky?
  2. Kevin has a mother.  And hallelujah!  His backstory is unfolding! His mom pays a visit and brings her brand of drama to the Greenleaf dining table.  She’s felt out the loop because Kevin kept putting her off when she wanted to know Charity’s due date.  She eventually found out Kev had been living in a hotel. Kevin didn’t spell out why, but his mom seemed to grasp it quickly.  “Oh,” she said.  ”There it is.” There what is?  What is this IT of which she speaks?  Makes me wonder if she had an inkling he’s gay.  If that’s the case, did she try to talk him out of it?  Did she try to do what he’s trying to do to himself right now?  Try to talk him out of being gay?  Who knows. But I want to find out!  Oh, and Ipecac syrup plays a role in this storyline.
  3. Zora has a thing for that Isaiah Hambrick singing dude.  The same dude Sofia told her she’s crushing on.  Apparently Zora’s crushing on him, now.  The child’s phone is even blowing up with texts from this dude. She’s sitting with Sofia for lunch, and of course Sofia wants to know why her cousin is giggling like the schoolgirl she is. Poor Sophie. She isn’t happy her cousin is in good with Isaiah, but still takes one for the team and covers for Zora when the child sneaks away from a youth meeting to hang with Hambrick.
  4. Back to Grace.  She’s still obsessing over Uncle Mac. Who wouldn’t? He raped her sister who committed suicide as a result. The man raped other girls and is STILL not in prison. Shooooot. Someone crazier than Grace might’ve done more than bust the windows out [of] his car.
  5. Kerissa may have met her match at throwing shade.  Her name is Tasha Skanks, first lady of Triumph Church.  To her credit, Tash was trying to be friendly and helpful to Kerissa.  But K is a do-it-yourself kind of woman, and she rebuffed all Tasha’s efforts to help decorate the parsonage, shop for clothes, do girly-girl things. So she broke the news about Zora’s galavanting away from the youth meeting.  She didn’t want to make it sound as if Kerissa can’t control her daughter, she said.  Then she extended another offer (with a light dusting of shade) to help Kerissa keep an eye on her daughter.
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Persistence, perseverance, success, motivation.  Ain’t going nowhere without ’em

 

screenshot from brainy quotes.com

Isn’t this a relief?  But what if you’re your own worst critic and don’t have the luxury of thinking your first pieces are “good stuff?”  Whether or not you think your words beat out bread slicers for best innovation, it won’t matter if you don’t persist in getting those words out of your head and into the world for folks to see, visit with and imbibe.

Yes, the words you use are accessible to vast hordes of people.  Yes, lots of folks know what they mean.  Yes, they’re common as joy and pain, and swathe open spaces like sunshine and rain (random song reference… sorry).  Thing is, no on can compile words into story like you can.  Just like no one has your handwriting, the distinct timbre and lilt of your voice, your exact mannerisms, or brow furrows, no one can construct your story like you can. If you gave several different artists the same color palette, all their works would be distinct.


No one can color that verbal canvas like you


So persist, because no one can color that verbal canvas like you. Doesn’t matter if your word-paintings start out like stick figures in primary colors.  Keep writing, reading, and learning for access to greater word palettes and more nuanced gradation.  When it comes to learning, no one ever “arrives,” so keep the heart of a student.

And stay motivated, because change will come if you keep honing your chosen craft.

And persevere, because your words, your writing can help color someone else’s understanding of this journey called life.  It’s possible the timbre of your writing, the lilt of your tone can strike the heart of another for good like no one else’s can.  It’s not your job to figure that out, though.  Just write.  Hone.  Craft. Improve.  Seek feedback, and after you do all that, keep writing.

This is my Day 5 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community.

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Knowing what you know now, what are the top 5 things you would tell your 16 year old self?

There are so many things I’d tell my younger self!  Things to remember, reassure, and redirect.  Life is full of teachable moments.  Here are five things I’d tell 16-year-old me.

    1. When you start working for more than school credits, save more money so you won’t have to play catch-up later. Retirement looks far away, but the years will hop, skip, and jump away from you. Whatever you decide to save with those upcoming paid jobs, you really can up the amount and save more. Wondering where you’ll find it? In your wallet when you pay for lunch at the food court 5 days a week. Drop that to one or two days and save the rest of those dollars. Trust me, it’ll add up over time.
    • Just live. Your soul mate will show up when it’s time. Be open to your meeting not looking like an animated film about princesses or mermaids. Huntee, know that love ain’t like TV or movies. Sometimes it requires warm-fuzzies, other times it requires forgiveness and grit…and maybe grits even now and again. SIDEBAR: Practice making sweet AND savory pots so good, it’ll make you want to slap yourself.
    • Speaking of slaps, let’s go from the food-related humorous figurative sayings to the really serious issue. Your already know to NEVER accept that behavior from any romantic interest. But baby, add this to your quiver of self-preservation. RUN at the first sign of emotional abuse. No one’s perfect, but if that person tries to ascribe traits to your character that don’t exist based on their insecurities, bounce. For example, if that person accuses you of cheating because your smartphone battery died, you fell asleep, and he could’t reach you, but you’ve been nothing but faithful, bounce. You’re not a counselor. I can say with authority, you won’t choose that profession, so don’t feel bad that it’s not your job to walk them through their emotional morass. Tell them (with love and kindness) to take that to a counselor… and to the Lord in prayer.
    • Let’s talk about those after school routines… the ones you hate. Hon, I know you want to be “good and grown” and make your own choices, but the need for routine will never go away. It’s the one way to make sure you keep focusing on and plugging away at your goals.
    • Adults aren’t lying when they say “This too, shall pass.” Some sayings withstand time’s tests.  This is one.  Sounds trite, but it’s true.

This is my Day 5 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community.

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Why do you do what you do?

Need drives me. A need to achieve everything on Maslow’s entire hierarchy.

Work feeds my wallet so I can feed my face. Can’t recall how many times my parents reminded me of 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (NIV).

The thought of going without Mom’s peach cobbler or sweet potato pie (not really pressing needs) or even her stick-to-the ribs casseroles was enough to propel me to work. As an adult, I work for the same reasons. Money buys food, shelter, water to bathe and keep my living spaces clean. Those dollars also buy power to warm my home and provide a comfy place to rest, recharge and go at it again.

Yes, need drives me. But it’s not the only thing. I also work to afford as much safety as possible.

Unfortunately, that won’t provide me with another type of warmth. Psychological warmth, which isn’t the same as trying to psych myself out when I’m cold. For me, it means those intimate, reciprocal relationships that make me feel warm and fuzzy, in tune with and accepted by others. From the connection with my immediate and extended family and fiancé, to my longtime friends and other loved ones, that need for connection and to impart warm fuzzies to others drives me to pick up the phone to just say hello.

From there, I do the specific work I do because maybe one thing I write and report will cause someone to smile, to peek at or examine life through a different lens or to look at others with more compassion and kindness. Maybe it’ll cause someone to say “Hey, I never thought about it like that before.” Or “I’ve never met anyone like that before, but we seem have things in common.”

The small part I play in the universe may cause someone to consider something, anything from a different perspective. Changing the world is hardly the goal, but maybe something I write or say can cause positive ripples, change someone else’s mind, and propel them to do great things in the world. That’s the kind of change I may never know. We may never know all the lives we reach with our kind words, smiles, or our written words.

There’s also the accomplishment factor. I recall one of the proudest moments during my teen years when I edited our high school yearbook as a sophomore. It was produced and delivered on time. It had been some years since that had happened at my school. That was THE goal that year, and I did everything I could to make it happen, including staying many an afternoon after school to make sure deadlines were met. At the end of that school year, we gathered everyone in the school cafeteria to make an announcement. It was worded in such a way to gear up folks for a disappointment.

“I just wanted to tell you…(BIG PAUSE) that the yearbooks… are here.” There was another palpable pause. One of my friends let out a scream, then the room was an avalanche of cheers. That, right there? Gave me the one of the biggest senses of accomplishment. These days, I experience that in multiple small doses peppered with the opposite emotion.

These Days…
I love the feeling when I finish a writing project, be it a blog post in my spare time, a writing challenge, or something written for work. I’m driven because I love the feeling of setting a goal and meeting it, be it large or small. Doesn’t really matter if it’s writing and mailing cards to others, to shredding that pile of old mail, to washing and folding that laundry to cooking or baking something something that tastes so good, it makes me want the slap myself.

From tiny things to the more weighty matters, completing goals reaffirms the idea that I am more than capable of doing what I set my mind to do, including reaching my potential as purposeful writer and storyteller. But walking into that purposeful and confident writing starts with putting one word on one piece of paper, or typing a word into a document. Then a phrase, sentence, paragraph, and giving the mind freedom to let the story unfold. Keeping my basic needs met, those on the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs keep me going, as well as the intrinsic need to accomplish everything inside and sometimes just outside my wheelhouse of potential.

From: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/33/MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svg/2000px-MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svg.png

Doing what I do daily is the only way “do” will transform into “done”. “Done” breeds that sense of accomplishment which motivates me to… do more.

This is my Day 3 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community.

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If you could change ONE THING that would make the world better, what would it be?

2 April 2017

Because any question or comment is liable to get me singing the closest related tune floating through my mind, I started singing Change the World by Eric Clapton.

Yup, “If I could change the world, I would be the sunlight in your universe.  You would think my love was really something good, baby if I could change the world.”

Then I got stuck on the love being something good.  Wouldn’t it, if there were more of it?

Here’s why my mind is stuck on love.

Both of my stories for work dealt with tragic anniversaries.  A new exhibit at Arlington National Cemetery marks the centennial of United Sates involvement in World War I.  One hundred years since 116,000 lives were claimed during the Great War from combat and disease. Those were just folks from the USA. Looking at each country, the number totals spike into the tens of millions. That’s a LOT of people.

Sunday’s second story covered the kickoff event for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in a local county.  The whole thing made me want to go weep in the station vehicle. Nine photos were perched on concrete stairs leading to a stage in the middle of a town-center style shopping center.  Each photo represented a life cut short by criminal activity.  From the cute little boy with chubby-looking cheeks, to the 18-year-old young lady who perished in the Virginia Tech shooting nearly a decade ago, to a 22-year-old who was gunned down, and his family still doesn’t know why.

Each photo represents an unknown number of family members and friends who are left to grieve absences that will never be filled by another human being on this planet.  Ever.  Each photo possibly represents an unknown number of first responders who may never be the same after working the crime scenes where these victims died.

Where do the tragic ripples end?  I have no answer for that, but what seems certain is that somewhere, somehow, love for these victims was absent during the slivers of time it took to commit each crime.  Can’t help but think that’s a truism, whether any victim’s life is taken by a stranger, an acquaintance, spouse, lover, or parent.

It’s not up to me to hash out each case and condemn any person.  What I deduce is rooted in another song.  The world just needs more love dipped in compassion and sprinkled with patience.

If I could change one thing to make the world better, that would definitely be it.  Love.  More of it.  I’ll let it begin with me, and put it to practice the next time I want to curse out an awful driver on the Beltway.

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Who inspires you?

1 APRIL 2017

There’s a reason some folks list parents among the most inspiring figures in their lives. I’m no different. My mother and father are two of the people who continually animate me in my quest to keep pursuing my goals. Whether I gather that inspiration when I speak with them or by simply reflecting on their sacrifices for their children, they consistently top that list of personal influencers who keep me trying my best. When I grow weary, their example and kind words remind me to rest awhile, regroup and get up and back to chipping away at making those goals reality.

She, as the oldest of 11 children, was the first to leave home to build a life for herself. Fresh from high school, she traveled west from California’s Imperial Valley to “the big city,” San Diego. Those years were filled with school, work, socializing and dates. She saved up and bought her first car there and ended up teaching a cool Deep South fellow, the sweetheart she met there, how to drive. Mr. Deep South Navy man eventually became her husband… and my dad. My dad would occasionally regale us with tales about olden day driving lessons, and how my mom could stretch her money as a young single woman. She was no crybaby, though. Mom was persistent and she really could (and still can) make a dollar out of 15 cents.

Mom’s inspiration is especially palpable now. With a recent cancer diagnosis, the strength she’s showed in this post-operative period has cemented her place as one of the greatest people I know. She’s a woman with a faith which, from what I can tell, has not wavered during this challenging period. Not only has she not drop kicked her God belief during the ordeal, she also shows a resolve to regain her former strength and ease back into her daily routines with the help of my siblings and my Dad.

Speaking of Daddy, his brand of inspiration got on my nerves when I was a kid. I didn’t realize his influence was taking hold way back then. See, he would leave work every weekday, some days a bit before dawn when he used the city bus to hop across town to work. He got on my nerves because if we were supposed to do chores before he got home he would always arrive too soon. Wasn’t really too soon. We were just too busy lollygagging instead of working on our tasks.

But his consistency and example during my childhood helped impress in me the importance of routine: To work, back home. To church, back home. To the grocery store to get something Mom forgot and needed for holiday meals, back home. Of course we broke the routine every now and again, but that early example left an enduring mark in my mind.

There are many more personal influencers in my life from a longtime friend from church who is battling Multiple Sclerosis, to elementary, high school and college pals who are living their dreams, and to my dear fiancé—they all inspire me to keep plugging away at my goals and developing into the best version of myself.

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