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Seven Things I Love Lately

I meant to have this up earlier, but better late than never?

It’s always fun to share things I’ve been enjoying.

I love when people share “finds” with me, and I also love sharing with you.

Some of these items might have been mentioned in the past, but they’re worth repeating.

•  Skincare –  I have the most sensitive skin imaginable.  Seriously, I can’t even use most of the “for sensitive skin” products. But, I’ve had great luck with the Skinceuticals line of products. (They’re sold mainly in doctor’s offices, but I purchase mine online. It’s important to order directly from the actual company because there are unauthorized people selling “fake” Skinceutical products online.  Amazon is NOT an authorized seller.)  I don’t own all of their products, but I can tell you I consider one of their products to truly be an-almost-miracle-in-a-bottle.  And? I won’t lie – it’s very expensive. But a bottle lasts a LONG, LONG, time and it’s worth every penny.  The product I’m referring to is Skinceuticals C E Ferulic.  My dermatologist recommended it to me years ago (after I was found to have melanoma – an often deadly form of skin cancer) and it’s amazing. I saw an immediate change in my skin and I’ve never looked back.  If I was being sent to live alone on a desert island this would be the ONE skincare product I’d bring with me. Yes, Skinceuticals makes a lot of other great products too … but it took years before I could afford to add a few more of them into my skincare routine.

•  Curling Iron  –  Can you believe I’ve been curling my hair lately? I haven’t curled it in years. No, I’m not suddenly girly-er-ish. I’ve been growing my hair long and it’s just finally gotten to a length where I prefer it with a few loose waves and/or curls.  My decades old curling iron no longer worked so it went in the trash.  My stylist recommended the Hot Tools Curling Iron and it’s great.  Wow, curling irons sure have improved in the last  two  decade s!  It even has a temperature gauge on it so I can adjust it for my particular type of hair.  (Stop laughing at me!)

•  Viral Extreme ColorWash  –  I mentioned my pink hair in a previous blog post.  I now own THREE different colors of this shampoo. One is light pink, my favorite is hot pink, and I also own purple.  I plan to eventually purchase red and blue also so I can make my hair patriotic when I feel the need.  I love this shampoo because it’s so easy. I take it in the shower and shampoo the bottom half of my hair with it.  (You can shampoo/color ALL your hair if you want, but I happen to like the top left blonde and the bottom bright and cheery.)  I will warn you, as I’m rinsing the shampoo out, it looks like I murdered someone in the shower but the color washes away easily.  Because this is just a colored shampoo, the color fades quickly … making it fun for a few days without making a true commitment.  If you want to keep your hair a bright color, you can just keep shampooing with the color of your choice.  Personally, I’ve been only doing it about once a week.  I let it fade away and then, if I feel like it, I pick a new color and do it again.  It’s FUN!

•  I Wrote This For You by Iain S. Thomas.  This book was recommended to me by one of my artist friends. I had zero expectations when I purchased it and, truth be told, I didn’t even know what type of book I was purchasing.  When it arrived, I opened it to a random page and read, “And when I asked you how you’d been I meant I missed you more than I’ve ever missed anything before.”  The words were below a blurred photo.  That was it … those were the only words on the page.  I began flipping. Some pages … well, the words cut like a knife.  Others were comforting.  It is an amazing, profound, touching book of words, emotions and photos.  I find this book to be both haunting and soothing.  It’s hard to imagine anyone would not be touched in some way while perusing this book.

•  Secura Stainless Steel Electric Water Kettle 1.8 Quart  –  I make iced tea daily.  My son bought me a big glass pitcher to keep it in.  I finally caved in and listened to the advice of my non-American friends who all own electric water kettles.  (Why aren’t electric kettles a THING here in America?)  I wanted an electric water kettle that would be big enough to heat enough water to fill my pitcher. I didn’t want any plastic or silicon parts to be in contact with the water. I wanted it to have a cool exterior to the touch so I wouldn’t burn myself, AND I wanted it to heat water REALLY FAST.  This is the only water kettle I could find that fit all those criteria.  I use it every day and I love it.  It’s a small thing but it’s made my tea making easier and faster and much more enjoyable.

•  Yeti Rambler 30 oz. Tumbler  –  People who know me well know I always have a cold drink of tea or water with me.  If it isn’t it my hand, it’s in my car, on the table next to me … or within easy reach.  I’ve tried every type of cup/tumbler I can get my hands on and I haven’t found anything to beat the Yeti.  If I fill it with ice one morning, and use/refill it with my drink of choice all day … and then leave it sitting on my kitchen counter all night … THERE WILL STILL BE UNMELTED ICE IN IT THE NEXT MORNING.  There are a lot of fake Yeti cups out there.  I even watched a YouTube video of some man sawing through a Yeti imitation and an actual Yeti tumbler to see why the Yeti works so much better.  Splurge and get a REAL Yeti cup. You’ll have it forever, and you’ll never regret purchasing it.

Hot Man does not come with the Yeti cup!

•  Trish McEvoy Essential Pencil in Nude  –  I don’t wear much makeup … and, on many days, I don’t wear any.  I like this pencil because it can be many things.  You can use it as a lip liner if you’re so inclined.  It’s a fat pencil. I use the side of it (like a crayon), for a light all-over lip color. In nude, it adds just a little color.  I can be out the door quickly – looking just a little more put together than if I did nothing at all.  It lasts way longer than most lipsticks and/or lip glosses. (I often put a little lip gloss over it just because I have very dry lips and want extra moisture.)  The pencil itself is not drying.  I have a friend who has used this pencil on her eyes and cheeks also.  Really, it’s just a great thing to have in your bag … easy to use, and great for those of us who prefer a low maintenance lifestyle.

OK, I think that’s probably a lot for one day!

I hope you enjoyed reading this.

If you have a recent favorite thing, I’d love to hear about it!

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Monday, April 10th!

Happy Monday!

I hope you had a nice weekend.

I ordered a new mattress this weekend, isn’t that SUPER exciting?

It will be delivered today, and I imagine I’ll have sweet dreams tonight?

Age of current mattress = 25 years!

Distress caused to my back by my very old mattress = Extreme!

How long do most people keep a mattress?

Maybe 10 years?

It was an odd-weather weekend here.

Saturday morning I woke up to light rain.

My backyard view on Saturday morning.

The canyon and mountains are the greenest I’ve ever seen them.

We got a LOT of rain this year.

(The browner/dirt areas you see are where fire prevention folks have cut in firebreaks to aid in the event of a wildfire.)

Saturday’s morning rain shower didn’t last and I was out hiking on trails along ocean bluffs before noon.

There are a lot of pretty wild flowers on coastal bluffs right now.

There is yellow everywhere you look in Orange County these days.

Our hills are covered in yellow wildflowers … primarily wild mustard, but also yellow daisies as seen in the above photo.

I’m a little tentative hiking these days.

I can’t risk a fall because it would rupture my starting-to-heal tendon … so I take safer/flatter trails for the time being.

Eventually my hike led to a late afternoon walk on the beach.

Purple and yellow wildflowers cling to the side of the bluffs by the ocean – pelicans fly overhead.

It was such a beautiful afternoon.

I brought my camera and took a few photos.

Midday isn’t a good time for photography, but that’s okay … because my arm can’t take very many yet anyway.

I walked a couple miles until I arrived at The Beachcomber where I stopped for a very late, light, lunch.

While I was having lunch, a strong wind kicked up.

The ocean was covered in white caps and a weather advisory had been put out for small boats.

I had a few miles to walk/hike back to my parked car.

It was a struggle to walk directly INTO a strong wind the entire time.

(Post-lunch, I would have preferred to take a nap in one of the Crystal Cove Beach Cottages while waiting for the wind to subside.)

But, it helped to know I had company chaperoning me along my way.

Several dolphin swam and played nearby as I made my return trip.

It was really a nice way to spend a Saturday …

Hiking, followed by a beach walk, lunch with an ocean view, and frolicking dolphins to accompany me on my journey home.

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April 4, 2017

The universe seems to be conspiring against my blogging efforts lately.

I’ve been very busy, but I’ve also been getting absolutely nothing done.

Seriously!

Frank had all sorts of skin problems so he had to get his Newfie fur cut short for the time being.

Newfies are not supposed to get short haircuts, but it was necessary in his case.

Frank The Newf looks ridiculous with his short hair. I laugh just looking at him!

Frank seems quite happy with short hair.

I honestly think he LIKES it.

He probably doesn’t know he looks REALLY silly?

Fred is getting groomed this week, but he’ll keep his long coat because he doesn’t have the skin problem/s Frank has.

I’ve been continuing to look at model homes.

I’d like to move somewhere with an ocean view, but it isn’t likely to happen yet.

In the meantime, I know I need to remodel and update my current house but I don’t even know where to begin.

I continue to look (and look, AND LOOK SOME MORE!) at model homes to get ideas.

One thing I really need?

A giant sized doggy door.

Right now, there’s no place to install one and I spend my entire life (well …?) letting my gentle giants in and out, and in and out, and in and out, and …!!

I have a painter scheduled to paint my outdoor deck and the wood trim on my house.

But, I had to delay the painting because I have two new babies I couldn’t leave homeless.

Baby hummingbirds in their nest.

My painter wanted to come power wash the house and begin prepping for paint.

But, if he power washes the house the nest will be destroyed so the whole project has to wait.

The babies will be out of the nest in about two weeks.

Once they’ve flown away, he can power wash to his delight.

These are the babies of the mama hummingbird who I found flying around upstairs in my house.

I’m glad I was able to rescue her because she was able to return to her nest, and she now has two healthy babies.

I’m still checking on April The Giraffe a few times each day also.

Can you tell I like animals?

As of writing this, April has not delivered her calf.

(Perhaps she will have had it by the time this publishes?)

I’m also still spending a few days each week at PT where I’m doing “gentle strengthening” per my surgeon’s orders.

I have photography jobs pending, so I suggested to one of the aides yesterday she should tell Paul Newman how REALLY strong I am.

She laughed (!!!) at me.

(There is NO fooling Paul Newman – that man sees and knows EVERYTHING.)

I’ve also had a lot of family stuff going on lately ….

Like I said …. busy, busy, busy ….

But, sometimes it feels like I’m just spinning my wheels.

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March 29, 2017

I’ve been busy looking at model homes (and more model homes, and then – even MORE model homes).

No, I’m not moving.

I’m just trying to get ideas for a possible home remodel.

My house is old and needs some major (!!) work.

It’s overwhelming – I really don’t even know where to begin.

I wish I could just wave a magic wand and come back to a completed house.

(Or have someone bulldoze the entire house and rebuild it the way I want … in a week?)

I’ve also begun making time to take a few photos each day.

I’m trying to build my arm strength up so when I get the “get out of jail” card from my surgeon (probably in May?) I’ll be able to hold my camera.

The other day I brought home some beautiful pink hydrangeas and decided I’d take a few macro shots of them.

It’s an easy-ish workout for my arm because I can do it at home without hauling any gear.

Of course, there are some other … complications … which frequently develop when working from home.

Frank The Newf was obsessed with smelling the flowers!

Frank didn’t want to stop smelling the flowers.

Apparently, they’re Newfie-Nose-Delightful!

Here’s one of the completed photos:

Macro photo of pink hydrangeas.

I also shot some craspedia flowers.

They’re ball-like flowers.

Craspedia Flowers –  aka: billy buttons or woolyheads

Craspedia were a LOT of fun to shoot.

There are so many funky abstracts you can make out of them.

I’m going to print the above photo BIG … it will look awesome!

Paul Newman and I are ALSO continuing to work on getting me stronger.

I’m trying to adjust my expectations to be a little more realistic.

But, not many people go eleven years without using their arm …

Which means I have no one to compare myself to.

Am I failing?

Succeeding?

Will I ever get there?

And where is THERE …

And what does THERE mean?

Paul Newman has more patience than I do, but maybe that’s because he understands the process better than I do.

I’m **trying** to learn patience.

It’s a roller coaster process.

I accomplish something NEW and I feel like I can conquer the world.

“Look!  Look! I held a ONE POUND weight!!”

It’s pretty exciting to do something, even a small something, if you haven’t been able to do it for eleven years!

But then …?

The next day I’m in a lot of pain and regress.

I struggle, and fail, and get really mad at myself.

Getting an arm to work after 11 years is not a NORMAL process.

But …?

I’m happy because I *think* I’m headed in the right direction.

I feel like a one year old learning to walk.

I take a step, fall, and try again.

Sometimes I take two steps in one day.

Other days I walk backwards instead of forward.

I’m tentative even on a good day.

There are a lot of uncertainties and fears after all these years.

But …?

Anyone who’s ever met me knows there’s also a lot of determination and stubbornness.

And, my camera …?

It’s calling my name, begging me to return to it full time.

I will.

Soon.

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It’s FRIDAY and I Have Pink Hair!!

I spent most of my week trying to get caught up from everything I neglected while having my kids in town for a few weeks.

I’m *almost* caught up …!

My filthy car is now clean and sparkling.

Franks’ fur-mats have been brushed and/or cut out from his many swims/mud rolls.

The piles of neglected laundry have been tended to.

I even had time to get my bangs slightly trimmed ….

Pink hair for spring?

My hair stylist washed my hair with Viral Light Pink Shampoo (twice) to give my hair the spring-ish pink tint you see in the above photo.

It wasn’t something I planned for, but she offered to make me pink at no charge and I thought, “Why not?”

Some of you, who have been readers for a long time, know I’ve done all sorts of things to my hair/hair color in the past.

This was the simplest thing imaginable.

All you have to do is shampoo once for the lightest of shading … more times if you want to build up color.

It will wash out a little each time I wash my hair.

How long until it’s all gone?

I’m not sure, but I imagine not long.

I have low-lights put into my hair regularly, and they seem to wash away much faster than I’d like … and this color is “made to” wash out.

One “pink shampoo” would probably have been perfect if I was doing it myself at home.

But, I was afraid the pink would be completely gone as soon as I washed my hair at home the first time, so we decided she would give me two quick back-to-back shampoos to build up a little more color.

I’ll let you know how long the color lasts.

Will I do it again?

Probably – as long as it washes out relatively quickly so I don’t feel “stuck” with one color for too long.

Sometimes, it’s just nice to change things up a little.

Happy weekend!

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The Latest & Greatest

I’m anxiously waiting for April The Giraffe to have her baby.

She might have HAD her baby by the time you read this.

I’ve seen a giraffe give birth before and I have to say it’s not a pretty sight.

(Also, the baby drops about six feet when born – ouch!)

And yet?

I keep waiting for April’s calf anyway.

My son left on Saturday afternoon and I’m now trying to catch-up on everything I’ve ignored over the last few weeks.

Sunset in Newport Beach

Yesterday, I spent my morning with Paul Newman and my afternoon in Los Angeles with my surgeon.

I’m eleven (11!!!) weeks post-op.

The good news is very good …

The worst of my pain-causing injuries are gone/repaired/removed …

Which means I’m in a LOT less pain.

YAY!!!!!!

If nothing else ever happens, I’ll be forever grateful just for that.

The bad news …?

After nearly eleven YEARS of not being able to use my arm and/or use it normally ….

I still can’t.

I get SO frustrated!

(I have a logical understanding about my Arm Situation, and an emotional tantrum about it happening simultaneously.)

Since the teeth-clenching pain is gone I feel like I should be progressing very quickly.

But, even the simplest, very-beginning, post surgery PT exercises are still defeating me.

Paul Newman is encouraging …

He tells me he sees progress even though I don’t.

My surgeon explained to me it will be harder for me to see day-to-day progress than it is for Paul Newman.

“It’s like you’re watching paint dry,” he said.

“You don’t see it changing, but other people do.”

I’m allowed to do some light shooting if I’m careful and if I don’t carry my equipment (extra cameras/lenses/lighting).

That means I have to leave my gear at home or hire someone else to carry it.

And, my surgeon also told me he expects it will take a year of strengthening work until I’m done.

I wasn’t expecting that, and it made me SAD.

And “done” is also an unknown …

No one really knows exactly what my arm will be like a year from now.

I was thinking I’d be finished with arm rehab by the beginning of summer, so BUMMER!

But, hell – what’s another year after nearly eleven years, right?

I’m focusing on the positive …

I can start taking my camera out and about now, even if I can’t haul a ton of gear with me.

Just the thought makes me very happy.

So, that’s what I’ll try to stay focused on.

Even if I have to start with just a few photos a day …

It’s a start.

And that …?

Is a very good thing!

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California Poppies!

The hills are alive with … wildflowers!

There’s a “super bloom” this year in Southern California due to all the rain we got this winter.

Yesterday, my son and I drove across Ortega Highway ….

Leaving Orange County and heading out towards Lake Elsinore.

My original plan had been to visit Anza Borrego State Park in the desert, but my week just didn’t have enough free time.

I decided a shorter trip was in order, and I’m so glad I ended up at Walker Canyon in Riverside County.

I’ve lived in Southern California since the dinosaurs roamed and I’ve NEVER seen so many California poppies.

California poppies cover the hills this spring due to a Super Bloom.

In fact, when I was still miles away I didn’t realize what I was looking at.

“Why are the mountains such a weird color?” I asked my son.

And then, mile by mile as we approached … the answer became clear.

Wildflowers turn the California hills gold.

We ended up hiking way up the mountains, and far back into the canyon.

The views were more and more stunning the further we went.

It was 93F as we hiked and by the time we returned to my car we were tired and very dehydrated.

(Neither of us had planned to hike so far, but we kept wanting to go “just a little further” once we started.)

With the heat we’ve had this last week, I’m not sure how long the flowers will be blooming.

I’m so glad I had an opportunity to view such a spectacular display of natural beauty.

Please don’t pick the flowers!  (California Poppies)

If you live in Southern California, I suggest a visit but you’d better do it soon.

Also, I imagine the weekends are probably packed with visitors.

The prettiest sights are further along the trails though, and many people don’t want to exert the effort to hike back.

My advice is:  go soon before the blooms are gone, take water and sunscreen, and hike a decent distant back on the trails for the most spectacular views and blooms.

Most of all?

Enjoy!

It isn’t often Southern California gets enough rain to make a super bloom possible.

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Summer in March

It’s been HOT lately.

(It hasn’t been quite as hot on the coast, but it’s been VERY hot 90F/ 33C back in the canyon where I live.)

A great day for a walk in San Clemente!

We’ve gone from months and months of un-California-ish rain to summer.

I’ve had all three of my kids in town and they’ve been loving the pool and beach time.

My oldest son returns to North Carolina today, my daughter is back at work …

My youngest son is here for about one more week.

We’ve spent a LOT of time swimming … even me – with my recovering arm!

There are no words to convey how happy it makes me to be able to swim again!

It’s been a LONG time.

And yes, I can only do a short bit with my arm, but it isn’t that painful …. just very weak.

I’m so excited to continue getting stronger …

By summer I should really be able to USE it!

Yay!!

Frank makes a big splash jumping in for (another!) swim!  (Fred doesn’t like to swim.)

I’ve also been enjoying some beautiful moon-rises from my backyard.

Each night the moon rises over “my” mountain and it never fails to take my breath away.

Moon Rise over my backyard mountain.

On Sunday night I went for an evening walk high up on the bluffs overlooking Laguna Beach.

I left my very hot house only to find it much cooler by the ocean.

In fact, I couldn’t see the ocean at all because it was covered with an extremely thick blanket of fog.

I hiked around for about an hour.

At sunset, I decided to stay and see what would happen.

Imagine my delight to see a sunset ABOVE the thick fog.

I’ve lived in Southern California forever and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.

It was pretty incredible in a very unique way.

Sunset above the fog – the ocean is about a mile straight below the top of the fog bank.

Once the sun dipped below the fog, it couldn’t be seen at all and the “sunset” immediately disappeared.

Sometime soon, I’ll share more photos of the very unique fog blanket pre-sunset.

(Fog by the beach is very normal here, but this was … different!)

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Around Me Now

I thought I’d share a few, unrelated, photos today.

Some of these photos were taken with my “real” camera, and some are from my iPhone.

When I take “real camera” photos, I use my good arm only  . . . as I’ve had to for the last decade.

I can’t wait to hear the doc say I can begin shooting for real!

I’m getting very restless for some camera adventures.

It’s definitely spring here now … even if the calendar doesn’t officially say so.

Mountain view from my backyard deck on a puffy cloud day.

My favorite scent in the entire world is the smell of fresh orange blossoms.

It’s intoxicating.

When the breeze blows the scent through the windows of my house, or when I’m in my backyard ….

I want to bottle it up and save it to enjoy year round.

Orange blossoms on my backyard orange tree – the best scent in the entire world.

Fred.

Fred is around me always … even when he’s just napping.

Honestly, he’s the sweetest, kindest, soul I’ve ever encountered.

A comfortable, napping, Fred … on “his” couch.

We had a long, wet, winter here … and I imagine we might have a few more storms to come before we’re done with it.

After several years of extreme drought, we needed the rain desperately.

The hills behind my house are almost neon green in their “we got rain!!” joy.

I’m also happy we got rain, but let’s be honest …

I’m over it.

I’m ready for lots of days filled with sunshine.

My backyard view just before our most recent storm.  (Taken with a polarizing filter.)

As I’m gradually healing and feeling more like my normal self,

I’m returning more and more to real life.

That includes, of course, walks on the beach.

 

I’ll try to take a few nice beach photos for you soon … most likely with my iPhone until my arm gets a little stronger.

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March 6, 2017

Hello, hello!

My oldest son is home from graduate school in North Carolina for his spring break.

Later this week, my youngest son arrives from Texas for his college spring break.

And, also later this week, my daughter and her boyfriend arrive.

It will be a busy, but fun, few weeks.

Also, I’m hoping to make a trip to Bowers Museum sometime VERY soon to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit.

I’ve always related to Frida Kahlo.

She was in a serious traffic accident when she was eighteen.

She spent her life dealing with her injuries, surgeries, and chronic pain as a result.

She expressed so much of her resulting isolation through her creativity, painting, and photographs.

I know, all too well, how isolating it can be to have a similar type life and I’ve always admired her work greatly.

I’ve been gradually moving forward with my own recovery from Surgery #12.

Paul Newman is trying to restore my confidence.

Right now, he has a lot more faith in me than I do.

I spent the first five years post-accident fully believing I’d make a full recovery “someday.”

Somewhere during the last five and a half years I gave up hope I’d ever use my arm again at all.

All I wanted and hoped for was LESS PAIN.

And now, I have less pain … and, it will hopefully, continue to be even less as I heal more and time goes on.

Paul Newman suggests to me I might someday be able to do Real Arm Things and I scoff at him.

It isn’t that I don’t WANT to believe him, it’s just I can’t even fathom having a working arm again.

Last week he had me put my arm against a wall and, using the wall for support, raise my arm above my head.

The goal was to do this in two sets of 10 … a total of 20 times.

This “exercise” is as easy as it gets post-shoulder surgery.

After four times, with help from my healthy arm/hand to help raise my bum arm, I thought I’d die from the effort.

I managed SIX before needing to stop.

The tech helping me suggested I start practicing at home.

“I have been!” I answered, defiantly AND embarrassed.

(“This was my VERY BEST with lots of home practice,” I wanted to say.)

After time out to rest, I did a second set of six.

This is where I am folks ….

The simplest of tasks are major accomplishments for me.

Also, what I wasn’t expecting?

The chaotic jumble of emotions over this process.

I’ve never been able to “strengthen” my arm before.

Sure, PT’s have tried many times –

And I have failed many times.

Fail, fail, fail, FAIL …. over and over again.

But, this time is REAL.

This is it … the final try.

I am as fixed as I can ever be ….

And now the question is –

What amount of function will I be able to regain?

I bounce from excitement to anxiety.

From fear to fearlessness.

I feel like a failure for not being able to do what “normal” surgery patients can do.

I feel like a rock star for being able to do ANYTHING after 10 years eight months and 12 surgeries.

One minute I’m hopeful, the next I’m totally defeated.

I’m constantly embarrassed such “little” things are so difficult.

No one ever warned me how emotional and confusing this could be.

Am I doing well?

Am I doing terrible?

Should I be able to do more?

Should I be able to do what I’m doing?

Will I be able to do more?

How much more?

How long will it take?

How close to “normal” will I ever get?

Why do I want to laugh AND cry as I struggle through this?

It is so very, unexpectedly, emotional.

I’m filled with fear, hopes, and doubt …. and absolutely zero confidence.

I feel like I’m a one year old trying to take my first steps … wobbly and uncertain.

This is so difficult ….

And so scary ….

And so exciting …

And ….

Did I mention …..

So difficult?

I never thought I’d get here,

And now that I’m here,

I’ve been surprised to find it’s so confusing, and emotional, and crazy!