Getting to Know You

I’ve noticed something here in San Diego. The lesbian community feels siloed. They eat together, socialize together, form communities, but it’s my perception that they have cut themselves off from mainstream society. I am sure I haven’t been here long enough to make a valid assessment, and I am probably talking out of my own ass of death, lol; It’s just a newbie’s observation. Since my move to SD I have made some lesbian friends and some straight friends as well. Honestly they are all my friends, and my comfort level around all of them is equal. They know my sexual orientation, and I am aware of theirs but for me this has never been a criterion for friendship or socializing. I like having friends who bring with them different views and perspectives on life whether it is because of their sexual orientation, political affiliation, gender, religious beliefs, race, socioeconomic background, childhood…  I enjoy getting to know PEOPLE.

When people meet me, I hope I am not being pigeon holed because I am a lesbian mother of 5 who was raised Jewish in New York. None of those things define me although they are all part of who I am.  I am also a democrat, a former Texan, a member of the middle class (maybe?), a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, a singer, a painter, a writer, a jewelry artist, a true Pieces, and on and on.  We all have so many facets to who we are, some of which are undefinable. Not one thing, or even a few things can explain a human being.

I hope my blog reaches people from all walks of life. I know I have had readers across the country and the world (WordPress gives amazing statistics!). I hope I continue to draw readers who would feel inclined to comment or contribute here or on our correlated Facebook page. I want to get to know the people who show interest in this blog. It is important to me. Feel free to reach out with comments, questions, etc.

20161102_140741.jpgFor my weight loss readers… I dropped 3.2lbs this week!! Moving in the right direction. You moving with me?

Gardening & Growing

As some of you may know I recently took up gardening as a hobby. I’ve planted a huge raised vegetable garden and now I have planted flowers and bulbs for spring in the front to add some color to the house. I don’t know what I am doing and I’m basically googling as I go along, but plants are forgiving and they seem to be growing. I planted 8 flats of dianthus,screenshot_smartselect_2016-10-27-13-48-38 about a dozen hyacinth bulbs and about 200 tulip bulbs (many colors and varieties). Tulips are my favorite flower so I sincerely hope for a beautiful spring.  I am just finishing planting the last of the bulbs. Let me repeat I am a newbie. Growing up in New York I never had the chance to garden and when I have tried indoor plants I have just killed them within weeks. Even the rose bushes (that from what I understand are an art of their own) are blooming.  I am deadheading (yup a rose term, lol) and removing burnt and diseased leaves if any. Learning where and how to cut them back so that they will continue to bloom.

It is very satisfying. If you live in an area where you can garden, I would encourage you to try it even if you think you don’t have a green thumb. If you don’t have a yard many communities offer communal gardens where you can go and plant whatever you’d like.  It’s a cheap enough hobby if you start from seed.  But let me tell you these bulbs can get pricey. I am hoping I’ve made an investment that will bloom for a few years.

Gardening is a great exercise – especially the digging and planting part! I am proud to say I have woken at 4:30 the past two mornings and gone to the gym, but gardening is far more enjoyable.  We walked the dogs last night too. Not a long walk, just around the block, but its moving my body regardless.

I’m back to my steel cut oatmeal with cranraisins and a sprinkling of chopped nuts, flax seed and cinnamon for breakfast. This seems to tide me over well.  Sometimes I need a mid-morning snack. I am trying hard to keep to one of those Dannon Greek Okios 0-0-0 yogurts. I know I am not drinking enough water, so I am working on that as well.  I saw an ad on Facebook for a funny water bottle that lights up to remind you that you need to hydrate.  Kind of a cool idea.  I don’t know if it would work for me or not.  I drink at the gym and with meals, but I know I need more water as it also helps curb my hunger.

Fatigue is still present most of the day. I think it’s just going to take a while to adjust. The best part of working out is that feeling you have right after you are done.  You are proud of yourself, there’s the adrenaline and the post workout shower feels unbelievably amazing. It’s getting there, doing it, and then the fatigue that hits once the adrenaline wears off that is the problem. But I have started to work isolated parts of the body for the strength training part of my workout.  I do 30 minutes of cardio every morning and then approximately 30 minutes of strength training. Yesterday was biceps and pectorals and today was back. Tomorrow will be legs and that usually leaves me very achy.

I will put my oatmeal recipe up here on the blog on the recipe page and on our Facebook page as well for those who are interested. I cook enough for the week and reheat it as needed.  Oh, and I am back to drinking green tea instead of coffee every morning. Green tea is better for you and it’s an appetite suppressant. I still drink coffee occasionally but I am trying hard to limit my caffeine intake as well.  Limiting it while dieting seems to have a positive effect for me.

Keep swimming friends. I hope the Facebook community takes off and can offer support through others sharing their stories, routines, ideas, recipes etc.

Starting Our Facebook Community and Jumpstarting My Journey

Well it hasn’t been easy waking up at 4:30 in the morning again and getting to the gym. My body is still not used to it.  I know it’s for the best, but I am remembering just how hard this is.  I had terrific energy this morning, full of adrenaline after the workout. But then I crashed early afternoon. Just keep swimming…

I’d like to start an online community.  Support for anyone and everyone who is struggling with weight and/or fitness.  I think I will create a Facebook Page for the blog where we can all share and add local events, goals, achievements, pics etc. Additionally, I would like to start some local fitness groups here in Southern San Diego County. And encourage online community members to do the same in their area.  Pages on fitn2016_10_26_13_23_23ess, diet, recipes, style, gardening, crafts – whatever our community wants to talk about.  Our commonality will be the journey we are each on to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I am even thinking about a Fitbit group which we could ALL be a part of!

That being said. Look for OUR page @ www.facebook.com/theassofdeath/

If you are local to the San Diego area my family and some friends will be participating in the Foam Glow 5K on November 12th in the evening at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Chula Vista.  Come join us and walk, jog or run off some calories and/or stress!foamglow

I am going to have to take another before and after pic I think as I have gained an uncomfortable amount of weight. I was 147 just four months ago and now I am up about 20 lbs. Here is my before pic with a scale shot.  I am not depressed about it, a bit embarrassed, but most of all disappointed with myself.  This disappointment will lead to motivation, perseverance and ultimately success.20161026_15370320161026_154407

Back on the Bandwagon

Who knew life could be this normal? This is not normal in a bad or boring way, no, quite the opposite; normal in an amazing, satisfying, happy and fulfilling way. A life I thought I did not deserve has found me.  Love, joy, laughter, family, friends, even just a daily routine… life is good, very good.  Some might argue that everyone (well almost everyone) deserves some basic happiness.  Maybe this is true. Life is neither always fair, nor are we capable of understanding why things happen or don’t happen the way we might like them to. Given the aforementioned, I will neither question nor attempt to understand how or why my life is good – it just is, and I am very grateful for it.20160815_064810

Romance has put a few pounds back on – yes… I haven’t been careful enough.  A lot of eating out and a lot of simply enjoying myself. I know how to take it off and my intentions are to do so. My journey however has taught me personal joy apart from the weight I carry, or the size clothing I wear.

I have embraced my role as a survivor and a voice for sexually abused women, but I am no longer a loud lone voice. Thirty years later I have an army of women and men behind me.  I am not fighting the battle on my own.  I am standing with thousands of others who now hear me, whose voices resound with strength and power. I have passed the torch to those with the power and strength I can no longer afford to offer.

For me happiness is not about settling or acceptance. It is about savoring joy, passion, feeling content and connected. The “pursuit” of happiness now seems somewhat futile. I feel happiness comes when you are meant to have it simply because you now understand it, and can appropriately appreciate it.

So once again I embark on weight loss and fitness training.  I am very happy, but I am aware that sustaining a healthy BMI and staying in shape will enable me to remain happy, and physically and emotionally strong for a long long time.

I am embarrassed to say I have put on about 15+ pounds and I haven’t been exercising with any regularity.  Back on the bandwagon for me.  But like my tattoo reminds me each and every day – PERSEVERE. The 15 will drop off and I will regain my physical strength again. I love my family, my partner, my friends, my home, San Diego, my job, my garden, my writing, etc., but I must love me more and put my health, and ultimately long term happiness first.  I know how great I feel when I am healthy and satisfied with my appearance. I am healthy and satisfied with my appearance, but I feel it slipping and it scares me after everything I went through to get where I am.20161018_08280320161018_082716

With the support and love of everyone around me I will get back to the best me I can be.

The rest is still unwritten;

A new life, a new place, a new state, a new climate, a new group of friends, a new dog, a new fitness regime, and now finally a new blog entry… new is good and change can be positive and healthy even though it may be scary.

20160623_16314820160612_16210120160706_173841.jpg

People keep telling me it will take two years before I will comfortably call California my home – adjusting to a new culture, terrain, surroundings, people etc.  I’m not sure if it will take me quite that long, but it helps to know these growing pains are more than normal.  I’ve been here almost four months now and with each passing day I feel more relaxed and at home.

The past is finally just that… the past.  I may still have things to process but that is my individual journey which may or may not be shared on this blog as appropriate.  I will no longer bring it into my present by dwelling on it, or worrying about how it may effect my future.

I am learning mindfulness and doing yoga almost daily (in the most AMAZING studio).  I hike about once a week as well since San Diego is chock full of beautiful places to explore. These things are incredibly grounding along with returning to blogging.  I find my home in writing.

DGY 2012
1440 S Escondido Blvd, Suite G www.danggoodyoga.com

So this brings me to another lesson about my physical health and weight loss. The stress of the move and changes had me drop another 10lbs since I got here.  This was not healthy and I was not trying to lose more weight.

My appetite is returning and being physically active in such a wonderful climate is no longer a chore. I don’t have to “go to the gym”.  For those of you who are reading and struggling with weight loss, the take away from this is just that seeing things in a different way or a new environment may be what your mind and body are craving and needing – even just a temporary change (not as drastic as mine necessarily – LOL) to gain perspective.

When you step back and become the observer of your own life, emotions, thoughts, decisions and behaviors, change, albeit frightening almost seems inevitable an necessary for growth.

“No day but today!” – Jonathan Larson.  If you wait for motivation you may be waiting a very long time.  Sometimes you just have to “do”. Make that push. Make that change. Take that first step on your unwritten journey.

I am not going to sugar coat it and say this is an easy wonderful process chock full of rainbows and unicorns – it is not.  It is difficult, arduous and at times very painful; but nothing worth anything in life comes easily.  During this process patience is a necessary virtue as everything changes at its own pace.  Trust that your higher power (if you believe there is one), will bring you exactly where you need to be, when you need to be there.  But, faith I believe is not entirely enough to exact change. You must put forth an equal or greater amount of mental, emotional and physical effort and energy to reach your destination.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that during this process you do not criticize or judge your progress. Some days may be one step forward and two back.  The important thing is that you persevere. Never give up.  The rest is still unwritten;

OK I am BACK!!! One Foot In Front of the Other!

It has been a full year since I lost all  my weight and I am now an ENTIRELY different person. Stronger physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.  By making decisions from the heart I have benefited in the long run.  I may have struggled and not seen the benefit upfront, but upon reflection I can see where following my heart brought both goodness and peace into my life.

286 lbs of self hatred.
286 lbs of self hatred.
146 lbs of self love.
146 lbs of self love.

I am back to exercising three to four times a week. Mostly just cardio, but my move (hauling boxes, etc.) seriously increased my upper body muscle tone.  It takes effort when you are alone to get out of the house, to walk or sometimes to just move.  But those four aspects of your life change positively when you push yourself to do so. The physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual being grows and strengthens.

The endorphins released, the pride you can take, the peace you can find, the thoughts you can process all seem to emerge and come into focus when you push yourself to move in one way or another. Take a walk, a stroll even, walk the dog, ride a bike, do some gardening, sweep the porch -the easy stuff that doesn’t feel  like exercising is the stuff that you need to incorporate into your everyday life.

Each and everyday is a struggle when you are learning to live on your own for the first time. It is a very personal journey filled with tears of sadness and joy as you find yourself again. Learning who you really are and accepting and loving that person is not always easy.  BUT it IS obtainable.  It is a reachable goal when you do not set a time limit.  Commend yourself for every moment spent content and at peace.  Do not beat yourself up for the moments you find yourself sad and lonely – that is to be expected and is going to happen.  Let it happen the emotions will pass. You can choose joy when you wake up each morning.  Start your day in a place of happiness – find something when you wake up that brings you peace.

Choose to be optimistic, chose to be positive, choose to smile, choose to forgive, choose to be kind. When you consciously make these positive choices again, like physically moving, you grow physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually whether  you realize it or not.  The parts of who you are begin to sync.  By working on all four parts either individually or simultaneously will show you positive growth and strength in all aspects because intrinsically they overlap.

Some days will be good and others not so good.  When you start seeing the good outweigh the bad actualization begins.  “Wow! I did it – I can make it through the bad days.  I can use healthy coping mechanisms.  I can choose a happy, healthy lifestyle!” When these realizations are made, accepting and loving who you are as a human being starts to become easier.

Everyday I put one foot in front of the other – literally and figuratively.  As long as I am committed to this I know I will continue to grow stronger in every aspect of my life and find my path to understanding and fulfillment.

Losing Yourself & Losing Weight

personal independenceThe reflection I have done recently has helped me understand things that many adults may take for granted. Being a truly independent human being is not an inherent skill.  We come into this world and leave it very dependent upon other humans for all our needs to be met.  Regardless, I believe it an important skill to learn.  Many species give birth to their young  and leave them to fend for themselves – that is not the human experience.  As a parent you hope that you raise your children well enough so that they too will learn this skill as they mature into adults.

As a child I had to be independent to emotionally survive. This necessity created an insatiable need to be emotionally dependent, and cared for.  Unfortunately, this insatiable need left me vulnerable to the sexual abuse I suffered as a teen.   It has taken this new awakening to realize that I must return to those necessary survival and self taught skills of independence in order to truly become the person I was meant to be.

This is a very difficult emotional journey. Questions that may be simple for others are less so for me. Continuously allowing myself to become lost in someone else, in a relationship – created an individual who was not an individual, and caused damage to my soul that I am now repairing.

Losing yourself in another makes it easy to no longer care for, or take care of you. I am certain many people can tie their personal weight loss journey to such a feeling of emotional dependence. Once you begin to find yourself again, be the independent person you were meant to be, both the emotional and physical weight will slowly disappear.

It is very hard for me to be alone, or simply by myself. But these past few months have taught me not only how to cope with the difficult moments, but to embrace many of them as productive opportunities for growth.  Sure, I still have many difficult times, but when the emotions (loneliness, sadness, fear, anxiety) rear their ugly heads, I am able to work through them more easily with each instance.

Eating a meal out by yourself, seeing a show on your own, just sitting still with your thoughts and no outside influences, are all skills for me to learn or more accurately re-learn.  New circumstances present themselves daily, and as they do I am learning to find myself, my strength and joy, individually from others.

Although it has been difficult, I return once again to gratitude. I am so very thankful for the opportunity to grow as an independent individual, an independent woman. This opportunity has allowed me to reflect and really look at simple, basic questions like: who you areWho am I? Why was I created? What is my purpose? What can I give back? What are my passions, talents and skills? How can I use these to be the best person I can be, help others along my journey, and both attract and reflect positive things?

This is kin to a rebirth of sorts. Trying to remember how I found the strength as a child to be independent and answer similar albeit less sophisticated questions as I grew, has not been simple. Certainly the coping mechanisms  I turned to as a child are very different from those I have learned as an adult.  Not only are they different, but they have matured, and become healthier, more efficient and more mindful.

So here I sit, ALONE – writing, reflecting, enjoying the sunrise, the birds singing, the breeze blowing (a very productive use of alone time in my opinion – LOL).  I can be happy and not need to share the joy.  I can be sad, and not need a shoulder to cry on.  I must admit, for myself the most difficult one is anxiety. I am working on being able to say: I can be anxious and not need someone to help calm me down.  Certainly it is easier to have someone there during difficult moments, and even preferable at times. But wanting someone there and needing them there are two very different things.

I am learning. I am growing. I am so thankful for this opportunity – this fresh start, this new beginning – this rediscovery of me.

 

SURPRISE!!

When unexpected things happen it can be very hard to “go with the flow”. surprise-01Change is one thing; unexpected out of the blue blindsiding is completely another.  I welcome change, new beginnings, growth… But even really GOOD surprises have always been an issue for me. It’s as if my startle reflex kicks in and I jump in fear and react regardless of whether the surprise is ultimately positive or negative. This is not something I can explain other than I just have above. It is what it is and I try to cope with it to the best of my ability. Let me tell you it is not easy at times because life can throw you many a curve ball (even good ones that you do catch).

Now some people love surprises. These people baffle me as I am sure I baffle them. Today was filled with good surprises, but surprises none the less that had me reactive and fearful. Once I move past the reaction (which honestly can sometimes take a bit), the reality and essence of the surprise comes into the light and I can make a clearer distinction between a valuable and welcome surprise and a more negative unpleasant one. Honestly sometimes after stepping back for a while a surprise can be a bit of both simultaneously.surprise

I sit now and write watching a beautiful pink and purple sunset. The day has been eventful to say the least.  But once again I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the strength I’ve gained from coping with today’s surprises. When surprises are good, what strength is there to be gained? Because I was caught off guard it tried my emotions and it took while to put it all in perspective.  I learned from it and hence became stronger.

The need to bring food into this blog exists because I know there are some of you who read this because of the weight loss angle.  I think this topic is apropos.  We can compare this to the surprise birthday cake brought to your office. Here is a surprise that seems both negative and positive. So cake surprisehow do you react?  Unfortunately, given my nature I react quickly with fear. When I was actively trying to lose weight my internal thoughts might have gone something like this: “Oh my goodness,
what do I do?  I can’t eat this. I shouldn’t eat this, but I don’t want to offend so and so who remembered my birthday and went out of their way. I don’t want to hurt their feelings.” So the fear may paralyze me for a bit. But since this is kind of low down on the “surprise” scale, I probably could take that moment of brief fear, step back and be able to just thank the considerate individual and so as not to hurt their feelings take a small piece and let that be my cheat for the week.  There are harder surprises with food, more difficult to navigate; The surprise catered lunch from a client, the free dessert you didn’t know came with the meal, the caloric count of the meal you just ate at your friends’ house; these surprises are a bit harder to navigate for some of us. The holidays, parties, going out to dinner, etc., these can be somewhat “prepared” for.  But surprises catch us off guard and can make rational decision making very difficult

It’s helpful to know what triggers a person’s negative reactions. Whether you are a person who enjoys surprises or not I hope this blog was helpful in someway. I use this space to chronicle my journey with the hope that it may help even just one person.

Ruling our Emotions… A very human task.

Life has its share of ups and downs and no one is immune to the emotions as humans we have been gifted with.We all know elation, joy, sadness, loneliness, jealousy, pain, fear, anxiety, anger… It is difficult to be “thankful” for the less desirable feelings, but each and every one is part of the human experience. How we handle these emotions ad grow with each experience of them determines quite a bit of who we are and who we will become.emotion

Once one can truly appreciate and recognize that as an individual you can choose to gain strength from all emotions, and learn patience, tolerance, pity, gratitude, forgiveness and true compassion, there is an enlightened opportunity for immense individual growth.  Ultimately it is the understanding that not only are emotions temporary, but they are shared equally by everyone that enables one to learn compassion, patience, tolerance, etc.  Every feeling can produce something positive or something negative and that is entirely up to the individual experiencing it. Our reaction to each emotion we experience is an opportunity for growth. To step back and reflect on choices made and behaviors, helps one move forward, learn and make positive change at their next opportunity.

dominoesFor me the hardest part of the more difficult emotions is reacting too quickly, not stepping back from them and assessing them before reacting.  I am learning to do this and mindfulness is the key. You don’t necessarily need to react to every feeling you have. You can just have that feeling, acknowledge it internally and move on. Thinking before reacting and putting the emotion into context and perspective is an extremely useful tool, yet very difficult to acquire. Take for example the obvious one of anger: Stepping back both physically and emotionally is almost always the right thing to do. Take anxiety – learning to breathe and really assess the situation for what it is worth can significantly reduce or even eliminate the anxiety – realize we are truly never “in control’.

fattening foodsThe emotional aspect of eating is difficult to address because I believe most of us are emotional eaters. We are sad we turn to comfort food, chocolate, baked goods, macaroni and cheese; When we are angry we usually turn to crunchy stuff like, chips, popcorn or nuts. We can eat when we are lonely or anxious as well. But just as I mentioned earlier, if we identify the emotion and step back from it briefly before reacting, we can prevent some if not all of the emotional eating that plagues so many of us. Asking yourself why you are feeling a certain way can help. Then asking yourself how you can productively cope with that emotion is the next step. Productive coping mechanisms are learned and difficult, they take practice. That final step would be using your productive coping mechanism towards a productive joyful behavior that does not involve eating.

All these things are very easy to say but very very hard to do. I am learning each day to me more mindful, more aware of my emotions and reactions. Learning to ask myself the right questions and alter my reaction accordingly. This takes a LOT of practice, and I have a long way to go. But through this journey I am also learning to have some patience with myself. The skills will come when they are most needed.

Music & My Soul

broadway showsI’ve been thinking a lot about music recently and how it has completely shaped who I am as a person. I can’t remember when, but I was roughly nine years old when I saw my first Broadway musical. It changed my entire life. It was as if from that very moment I understood joy – which up until that point I had so little of. It was the purest form of joy I had ever experienced. I always thought some day my creative expression would come a live on one of The Great White Way. There is still that glimmer of hope, a glowing ember. It literally ignites and explodes inside me whenever I see a live performance.

Over the years I have seen and performed in too many shows to count.  Of course none of my performances have been professional, but they have all been incredibly rewarding, uplifting, enlightening and full of learning and growth.

Music in general has become such an integral part of who I am. I have a scary uncanny ability to remember lyrics to almost any song I have heard more than once. The words just stick. More than enjoying listening to music, I love to sing. I was a vocal major at the High School of Music and the Performing Arts in Manhattan before Marc Gafni’s abuse temporarily destroyed my life.

I sing all the time because it brings me that same pure joy from childhood. I sing in the shower, in the car, on my walks, around the house… It brings me comfort which is good for the soul.

20160227_075224Yesterday morning on my walk I was listening to a play list of love songs. I was singing along (as I usually do) to each when it hit me. Ninety percent of what is being said in these lyrics one could apply to the universe and our relationship with it.  I have a weird eclectic taste in music, but here are some examples with snippets from parts of each song:

  • All Of Me (John Legend)

Cause all of me – Loves all of you – Love your curves and all your edges – All your perfect imperfections – Give your all to me – I’ll give my all to you – You’re my end and my beginning – Even when I lose I’m winning – ‘Cause I give you all of me – And you give me all of you

  • Can You Feel The Love Tonight (Phil Collins)

Can you feel the love tonight – The peace the evening brings -The world for once in perfect harmony – With all its living things – There’s a time for everyone if they only learn – That the twisting kaleidoscope moves us all in turn – There’s a rhyme and reason to the wild outdoors -When the heart of this star-crossed voyager beats in time with yours

  • For Good (From the Broadway Show Wicked)

I’m limited. Just look at me. I’m limited. And just look at you. You can do all I couldn’t do. Glinda… So now it’s up to you, For both of us. Now it’s up to you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit – As it passes a sun, Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood. Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better – But because I knew you. I have been changed for good.

  • Heaven Is A Place On Earth (Belinda Carlisle)

When I feel alone, I reach for you – And you bring me home – When I’m lost at sea I hear your voice – And it carries me

In this world we’re just beginning -To understand the miracle of living – Baby, I was afraid before – But I’m not afraid anymore

Ooh, baby, do you know what that’s worth? Ooh, heaven is a place on earth. They say in heaven love comes first – We’ll make heaven a place on earth

  • Smile (Uncle Kracker)

You’re better than the best – I’m lucky just to linger in your light -Cooler than the flip-side of my pillow (that’s right) – Completely unaware -Nothing can compare to where you send me – It lets me know that it’s okay (yeah, it’s okay) – And the moments when my good times start to fade – You make me smile…

Once again it brought on this overwhelming sense of gratitude. You can love so much – the universe and its supreme power, your partner in life, your parents, your children, your friends, what you do with your time, and most importantly yourself, and what you give back to that which you love.musicNone of these songs are spiritual to say the least, but segments of their lyrics can apply to your relationship with the universe and it’s view of you; to you relationship with other human beings and even that with yourself. Be grateful for all these relationships.  I think we must be grateful for the gift of music, it certainly can help us stay motivated to keep moving, and it can bring us closer to all that we hold dear, lyrics or not.

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