Feeling My Age

When I was a kid I thought there was this magic moment when you kind of went “poof” and turned into an adult. I thought your mindset changed and you instantly knew how to do things like pay bills and invest in stocks and bake gourmet dinners. And you knew how to take care of a family and plan vacations and you’d go to your dream job every day and come home to your perfect little house with your perfect little family.

It was a naive notion and if I told that little kid that at 31, almost 32, she hadn’t hit “poof” yet, I bet she’d be quite surprised.

Of course we know that “poof” doesn’t exist. It’s more like “steam.” We gradually rise from childhood into “adulthood.” Although I’m not really sure what that means.

I’ve grown and matured. I understand how to do adult tasks. I have a husband and a child. I work every day (dream job part did come true) and I guess by all society’s standards, I’m a well-functioning adult.

But I’ve never really felt my age. I still have the same crazy imagination and need for fun than I did at 13 or 18. I still worry about really dumb stuff. I still need to call my mom when I have a question. I still feel like I’m playing dress up sometimes. I still watch shows geared towards a  younger demographic on TV and still relate to it all.

I always told myself that no matter how old I got, I’d never get too old for parties and fun and general rowdiness.

Of course those parties look a bit different from they used to, and my friends and I cannot believe what we thought was ok to post online back in those days. But I’ve still never really felt 31. Until a few days ago…

My husband and I were going to be hosting a little get together for St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday always celebrated in our household, and we were looking for some green attire.

Back in the day, you could find me in any number of get ups from giant green and white striped hats, to feather boas, and green hot pants, but I was just looking for a shirt this year.

We went to Spencer’s, at our mall, because they always have a lot of fun novelty shirts. They had a big selection and a really cute, perfectly sized tank top that said “Let’s Get Sham-wrecked.” Now a few years ago, pre kiddo and all, I wouldn’t have thought twice about buying that shirt. I would have totally bought it. But good old 31 crept up and I thought to myself, “You cannot possibly wear that,  you are far too old. What if someone posts a picture of you and one of your clients sees it? Or one of Cenzo’s therapists? (Told you, I worry about dumb stuff. Honestly most of my clients would laugh and love it).

As I was looking over the shirt, caressing the awesome criss-cross shoelace detail in the back, I noticed a few teenage boys come in. They were looking at me like I was their principal and I swear kinda snickering. I was instantly embarrassed, like I had to get out of this store. My husband and son were perusing in the back, and I had to walk past the teenagers to get to them. I accidentally bumped into one of them as I was getting through the aisle way and when I apologized, he said, “It’s cool, lady.”

Lady?

LADY???

I feel like lady equals old in this exchange. I then became intensely aware that everyone around me looked super young, even the people working, and I kinda nodded at my husband and did the big eye thing, like, “Hey let’s get outta here.”

I know I was probably making all of this up in my head and no one was looking at me weird, and lady might be the coolest thing going to call a girl these days. But at that moment, I kinda went “poof.”

Even though I will always party and have a good time, (and let me tell you, our St. Paddy’s party this year was off the hook! Is that still cool to say? LOL) I know I’m in my 30s. I get it and I embrace it.

My sister and I at the party

My sister and I at the party

The day after our party, after a few hours of clean-up, and spraying lots of air freshener to remove the stale beer smell lingering in the house, we picked up our son and went to breakfast as a family.

At one moment during a break in the party recap chat, my husband and I looked at each other across the table and smiled. We both knew what it meant. We love the parties and the friends and the wild times. But there was nowhere we would have rather been in that moment, than right there, just the three of us, enjoying Sunday Brunch.

Cheers to the “poof!”

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Life Transitions: Getting To The Next Slide

I’ve been thinking a lot about transitions. Life transitions. Some of my friends are going through major ones in their lives right now.

I have friends that have ended long relationships, friends dealing with divorce, friends dealing with loss of friendships, all the way to the other side of the spectrum where friends are welcoming new babies, new jobs, and new homes.

I was emailing one of my friends and relayed to her that life transitions remind me of PowerPoint transitions. You know, good old PowerPoint. That ever so user-friendly, not so much used anymore, presentation tool we have come to both loathe and love.

Transitions are the things that happen in between slides. Just as in life, transitions are the thoughts and actions that get us to the next part of our story, the next slide.

I opened up PowerPoint on my Mac, literally for the first time in years, and looked at the many, many choices.

The Cut for instance – quick and easy. Nothing much to this one. One slide one moment, another the next. Blink, and you won’t even notice.

Checkerboard is a wild one. It not only cuts up the pieces of the slide to get to the next one, they flip and turn, a very intense and dramatic graphic.

Ripple – blurry becoming clear. Vortex and Shred – my GOSH! They look just like they sound, blatant ripping and colors changing and a million pieces scattered everywhere.

And then pretty ones, like Flip or Switch. Just like they sound. Not too much going on. Again, a change for sure, but neat and happy, no drama, if you will.

Life transitions follow these styles. Some of them are fantastic. They may change our view, they may flip us around or switch us to a new understanding, but the transitions are fun, like a ride at a carnival, exciting and thrilling.

And some of them are MESSY. They rip us to pieces, they take things out of focus. One day your content, your story, your life is perfect. Bullet points, images, colors, everything fits right on the page. But along comes a transition and life is turned upside down.

The good thing about transitions is that they don’t last. You eventually get to the next slide. The pretty content. Things always go from blurry to clear. In PowerPoint, you can even set the duration of those transitions. Wouldn’t that be a nice feature in daily life?

But to everyone going through a transition right now. To everyone trying desperately to get to that next slide, remember this…

Those transitions in PowerPoint do serve a purpose, and life transitions are important tools, as well. They make us stronger. They show us that no matter how dark our life may seem, there will always be a clearer day, a clearer slide ahead. Whether you find that new strength in faith, family, friends, or even an unlikely source, you will find it.

Those transitions teach us how to write the content for the rest of our slides. They give us perspective, they hurt us, they help us, they make us grow, they make us change, they give us chances, they take those chances away, they bring people in and out of our lives, they create our presentation.

No matter what you are going through in your life right now, I hope today you smile reading this silly analogy. I hope today is a little easier, a little brighter. I hope today is one day closer to your new slide. I believe in you and I feel for you.

Fade out…

 

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We Just Booked Our First Flight Ever…And We Need Your Advice

I just spent the last half hour booking our first flight ever. At ages 31 and 32 respectively, people always balk at the fact that neither my husband nor I has ever been on a plane. “Never?” People repeat it like maybe we just forgot. Nope, never. It’s not that we haven’t been to a lot of places, we just never had to fly, so we’ve always driven.

But the time has come. My best friend, Cindi, has been living in Orlando for many, many years, and she has made countless trips to Pittsburgh to visit me. She has been here for my shower, my wedding, my kid being born, and her husband, Zach, has traveled with her to visit, too. So now that our kiddo is older and loves staying at Grandma’s house, we are ready to take the trip down to the Sunshine State.

Cindi and Zach were married in September and we were all together in New York for the wedding. (Yes, we drove, lol). We were realizing that we didn’t have any future plans to get together after this, and that made us really sad. Cindi and I are two peas, and when you only get to see your best friend every couple of years, it’s depressing. So I knew Justin and I had to plan a trip for this summer. Plus, Justin has never been to Disney World, and I haven’t been there in about 15 years, so we need to go!

This summer, it’s happening. And Justin and I are nothing short of anxious, nervous, excited, pumped, did I mention anxious??

This is where all of you come in. We want your expert advice! Because we are starting with absolutely zero knowledge.

Our flight is very early in the morning on a Saturday. I’m talking before dawn, so how early do we need to get there? What’s the best luggage to bring? Brands? How about for carry-on bags? Any special things we should know before we go through security? Walk us through that process.

We are flying Southwest. Is it worth it to get that early bird check-in? Or just take our chances on when we board? What seat do you think is better? Aisle or window? Can you have your phones on up there? Is this what the elusive airplane mode thing is?? LOL. I know both of our flights say free Wi-Fi.

I’m terrified that my ears are not going to handle the flight well. This is legit my worst fear. I have nightmares of blood running out of my ears or having tunnel hearing for the rest of my life. I have crappy ears. They don’t pop on their own (something about a large ear canal?) and sometimes I get crazy dizzy and off-balance due to these buggers. So my fear of elevating into the abyss is real. Everyone tells me not to worry and the plane is pressurized and all that malarkey, but until I’m up in the air, or down on the ground, and can still hear everything, I’m going to worry. It’s just me. Anyone else have this issue? Ear plugs? Benadryl? What works?

I am also afraid of the claustrophobic factor and I think just the lack of control. Even though I know flying is much safer than driving, you have a false sense of security when driving, because you feel like you are technically in control. It’s a short flight, only about two hours, so I’m hoping we are pretty much there before we even know it. Tips on overcoming this? Music? Movies? What is the best way to relax?

We really welcome any and all tips, suggestions, advice, etc., and we thank you for being a part of this journey with us. I can’t wait to write about the actual trip and give you all the details :)

Thank you so much!

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My Greatest Love: A Pen and A Piece of Paper

I met someone new yesterday and they asked me what I did. To which I quickly responded, “I’m a writer.” As soon as I said it, I felt embarrassed. I’m a writer who hasn’t posted a new blog since October. I’m a writer who spends so much time on other people’s content, that I haven’t been writing anything of my own.

I may be a writer in the traditional sense, but my goal for 2015 is to get back to my favorite thing in the world, which is to share stories and posts with all of you. My blog is my own personal heaven. I love being a part of this giant world of bloggers. Even if just one person reads this, even if just one person is inspired or motivated, then I did my job and my heart is full.

So to you, my reader. Thank you for being here. And I promise to do a better job of writing for you, and writing more often.

I started this blog post when I was sitting at my son’s speech and occupational therapy sessions. One day a week, I sit in the waiting room for one hour while he completes his tasks. Sure, I could run errands or go back home. But I like to be there in case he needs me, and it also gives me one uninterrupted hour to do whatever I please.

There is no Wi-Fi, and due to my already over usage of data, I stay off the phone. I read books, I doodle on paper. But today, I did something really old school.

I had a client’s newsletter that I needed to edit, so I printed it out and brought it with me. I took a pen to the paper and began using the ever so familiar editing marks. The caret, the slash for the letter that shouldn’t be capitalized, the three lines under the one that should. I can’t tell you when the last time I did that was. I am always editing on a bright screen, barely taking in the message while ads, social media posts, emails, and sounds swirl all around me. It. Was. Awesome.

I wrote this post out long hand. It felt good. Not only was I much more focused on what I wanted to say, I could actually feel myself being brought into the post. Living it.

My hand was cramping, my nails were digging into my hand giving my palm that indented look that only people whose brains works faster than their hand can understand. I irritated that ever present little bump on the side of my middle finger from pressing it against my pen. I could smell the ink, got it on my hands. My heart was pounding as I wrote. No clicks of keys, just scribbly words that I am now sitting here deciphering.

Pen to paper, or pencil to paper, whatever you prefer will NEVER be replaced. I don’t want to say words and have them magically translated into text. I don’t want to use one of those fancy digital pens and write on a tablet. I don’t even want to be typing this, but I guess that’s the only way to share with you right now.

I should have just taken a photo of my handwritten blog with all its cross-outs and numbers and arrows and posted that for you. Because then you would really see me and how my brain works when I write. You would understand my chaos, you would see my transitions, and how my mind bounces all over the place.

Writing is a beautiful and perfect thing. It’s the love of my life (of course Justin and Vincenzo, you are, too).

My 2015 resolutions are simple.

1. Be thankful
2. Love
3. Give to others
4. Write often

As if by magic, last night I got a notification that someone had commented on one of my blog posts from 2013. It was a blog I had written about my son being my best friend, one I hadn’t even really remembered I had written. But a mom sent me the most beautiful comment. Part of it is here:

“Then i came across your article and started bawling and laughing because that’s us. More than anything it finally showed me I’m not just a authoritative figure, a teacher, a chef, a maid, a chauffeur… I am their world. I am so blessed God gave me my best friend i had been praying for…”

This is why I write. This is why I will never stop. Thank you for reading. Thank you for letting me write.

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A Day In Cook Forest: Family, Nature & Mini Pumpkins

This Saturday was one of those perfect days. When everything you planned worked out, the rain mostly held off, and your preschooler was impeccably behaved. I have been doing some work for the lovely Clarion River Suites in Cook Forest, PA for the past few months, but haven’t had the opportunity to actually visit. It’s a few hours from my house, but this weekend, my husband and our son, along with my mom, sister, and brother, made the trip.

The drive there was nothing short of breathtaking. I think this weekend must have been the peak of fall foliage, because around every corner and bend we were given oranges, reds, and yellows galore. Not to mention, it was an overcast, chilly day. The ominous sky was oddly comforting and added to the October/Spooky/Halloween feeling. There were hardly any cars on the road and we thoroughly enjoyed the dark and rainy country drive.

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After getting slightly lost, (we really were in the middle of the forest) we found the sign that would lead us up to the Suites.

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They sit on top of the world, at least it feels that way, right above the Clarion River and literally in the heart of Cook Forest. The rain was impending, and we did have a few bouts of downpours, but in the dry time, we were able to capture the essence of this beauty. When you look at these photos, picture the smell of a bonfire all around you, as the fire was burning strong. A true smell of fall, if there can be a smell of the season, and if you mix that with the smell of rain, well geez, if I could bottle that all up and bring it home, I would never need another candle.

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This is the deck where many people snap photos, as you can see in the next few shots, what lies behind you is just a blanket of color.

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My husband walked down the hill a bit to get some closer shots. You can see him blending in to his surroundings. I think he would have stayed down there all day.

photo (14)And here is the view from inside one of the Suites. I mean, really? I could sit on this balcony for hours. I wouldn’t even need to say a word. A good book, a cup of coffee, good company. It’s one of those places that doesn’t quite seem real. Photos don’t even do it justice. It feels like a place in your favorite book or a place from another time. You have to experience it to really understand it. And that sky!

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My mom, sister, and brother, who got a little more lost in the forest than we did, ended up finding us and we got to spend some quality time together taking photos and taking in nature. Cell service was shoddy and that was honestly wonderful. To not be able to get a call or a text, to not hear those emails streaming in, or see what everyone was posting on Facebook. It was just us, on top of the world, family time, no distractions. The sound of the river and birds all around. It. Was. Everything. We. Long. For.     …    Peace.

Soon it was time for lunch, so we headed close by to Iron Mountain Grille and sure had our fill of pizza, salad, sandwiches, soup, and more! Photo below courtesy of their website.

grilleThen we decided to just drive along the road and see where it led. Going somewhere without a plan, although scary to an obsessive planner like me, is always fantastic. Not knowing what you’ll find along the way makes the trip that much more exciting. We found a craft fair going on and stopped into this general store.

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My sister ordered me an amazing candle online last year for Christmas, and low and behold, this store carried those very same candles. Of course we had to purchase some of those and I suggest if you ever find these near you, buy one! This one has three different scents and they not only engulf the room in aroma, but they last forever! I adore the jar look to this, handle, and screw off lid. Not only smells great, but looks great, too.

candleLining the outside of the store were mini pumpkins and my son was thrilled to pick one out for himself. He carefully looked them over and then grabbed one, clutching it the entire rest of the trip. He brought it with him into every store and I think he would have slept with that thing if I let him. The fact that he picked it out himself and that it was just his size meant the world to him.

photo (20)We also stopped at the Pickle Barrel. Another cute shop with all sorts of gifts, and a lot of, you guessed it, pickle-themed novelties. We started to do some Christmas shopping for one another and sat outside on the rocking chairs just enjoying the beauty all around.

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My brother captured this shot of my son and it pretty much sums up our day. Pure joy.

photo (21)If you can get away from it all, do it. We can always spend more time with family. We can always make more memories. We can, and should, always be reminded of what’s important in life.

Enjoy these last few weeks of Fall, East Coasters. Soon, the snow will cover our colors and it will be another year before the magic of this all-too-short season returns.

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A Love Affair With Red and Orange In Photos

If you asked me my favorite color, I’d quickly reply green. But in this beautiful season of Autumn, I can’t help but fall in love with reds and oranges. I guess I’ve always liked these colors, but maybe I didn’t realize how staple they were in my everyday until I started to examine a few things. I added some pictures to make this more interesting, so here we go.

First up: Leaves! If you live in an area where you don’t get to witness this phenomena, I feel for you. I know some of my friends who have left the East Coast for warmer climates (Caitlin!) miss the trees at this time of year almost as much as they miss me ;) It’s just magical. One day everything is lush and green, and all of a sudden little areas of red and orange start to appear, and in days, an entire tree is transformed.

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Could my son look any more joyful playing in these leaves? Even when they fall to the ground, they still have a little bit of magic left. From their crinkly texture and their crunchy sounds, to their reminder that Halloween is right around the corner. Who doesn’t get a little frightened when they aren’t ready and a leaf falls off a tree and lands on them. A little, “got ya,” from our tree friends up above. And making piles to jump in: Classic!

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Household items. Geesh, I didn’t realize how many everyday things around my house are red or orange. Like my toaster… (excuse the 1970’s counter top, someday we’ll replace that)

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My mouse…

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My teapot…

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This awesome sign on my door…

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My candle: Apple Pumpkin. (Yes, this is the cheap version from Wal-Mart) and it smells magnificent!

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And my favorite pants. I think I’ve had these pants for 15 years, and I still wear them all the time. It’s like a stuffed animal or a blanket, or a favorite mug, or whatever. They are not only the most comfortable pants in the world, they’ve been with me through half of my life. They are basically an old friend.

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I was in my best friend’s wedding a few weeks ago and they had a super cool photo booth with all the fun props and accessories. And what did I choose?? You guessed it, an ORANGE hat. Subconsciously obsessed with this color? (My husband rocks purple pretty well too, eh?)

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And last but not least, my husband and I both have red hair! Although mine is fake, his is 100% authentic. It’s actually only his beard that comes in red (just like his Dad) and I love it. We are both Italian and Irish, and we definitely got the Irish skin, so red suits us. (P.S. All of our sibling get amazing tans in the Summer, and then there’s us? What the hell…)

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So I guess now if you ask my favorite color, I might have to throw red and orange in there as high seconds. Red is the color of passion, a word and a concept that I believe in deeply, and orange reminds me of fire, feeling alive, vibrancy and living life to the fullest.

So enjoy the reds and oranges around you today and everyday. What colors inspire you?

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Top 10 Adventures on our trip to NYC and AC, Lots of Pics!

No one has time to read long blog posts. So why write them? I want to tell you all about our trip, but you just want the good parts, so I made it easy for you. Here are the top 10 adventures from our trip to Long Island, Manhattan, and Atlantic City, complete with pics, so you won’t get bored. Enjoy!

1. Hilton Garden Inn. Awesome hotel in Ronkonkoma, NY. K-cups and a Keurig in my room, yes please! Awesome staff and service, too.

Hilton Garden Inn

2. Rehearsal Dinner by the water! Working at home, I don’t have a lot of chances to get dolled up anymore, so it’s always fun to put on a dress and go glam with the hair and make-up. Plus, my hubby is pretty damn cute all dressed up, too.

us23. Seeing old friends and meeting so many new ones! When you’re “old” like we are, you don’t get to do a lot of partying and bond with new people over a shot of Jameson, but we sure did a lot of that on this trip. We love everyone we met and have formed new friendships with people all over the globe.

friends4. The Empire State Building. It was my hub’s first time in the Big Apple and we only had one day to “do it all.” Our first stop was the Empire State Building. We did the Skyride, which was awesome, but after staying up the night before till 3 am drinking like we were 21, it was a little rough on the stomach. But Kevin Bacon’s soothing narration got us through. Then it was a lot of lines, a lot of elevators, some more lines, and then the observation deck! It was FREEZING up there, and we were NOT dressed for that, but we braved the cold and still got some great pics.

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5. Times Square. Really doesn’t need much of a description. We went in the giant Toys ‘R Us, and we ate a slice of pizza on the street. We also got hustled and somehow ended up buying some new CDs. But, we got to see the Naked Cowboy, so day made.

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6. Rockefeller Plaza. As a big Today show fan, I had to go over and get a glimpse. I went and stood where the crowd always gathers and peeked in the windows. It was a weekend so no Matt Lauer, but still a cool experience.

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7. Central Park. We walked FOREVER to get there. But it was an overcast, cool day in the City and it was kind of perfect. We were on a time schedule so we only got to sit in the Park for a few minutes, but it was absolutely beautiful. For that to be sitting in the middle of a concrete jungle, is truly a treasure.

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8. The Waldorf-Astoria. My favorite movie is Serendipity, and my husband and I wanted to go in here to do the elevator test. We each go in a different one and hit a button, to see if we pick the same floor, just like Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack did in the film. But, we couldn’t find those same elevators and there were too many people around. BUT at least we went inside. Felt a little magical.

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9. THE WEDDING!!! Everything about this day was perfect. The weather, the ceremony, the reception, the dancing. Even my speech went off without a hitch (seriously worried about this for weeks leading up to it). As matron of honor, AND a writer, people expect you to do well. I actually was complimented from many people on the speech, which meant more to me than they will ever know, and when someone told me I “nailed” it, I figured life couldn’t get any better. Much love to you Mr. and Mrs. Miller!

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10. Atlantic City. Since we were only a few hours away, we popped over to AC for the second part of our trip. Our favorite place on Earth. A second home, really. Even though it was a little sad since some of the casinos were closing, our casino: The Tropicana Casino and Resort was thriving! Packed with people and full of energy. We ate at awesome restaurants, drank fancy beverages, walked up and down the boardwalk, won some dough on the slots, sat in the sand, walked by the ocean at dusk, and held hands through it all. A perfect end to a perfect vacation.

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So that’s our trip in a nutshell. It’s back to work, back to everyday life, back to me realizing my fantasy football team is really bad this year, and even though we miss these fantastic places already, there is NO place like home. It’s the first day of Autumn, and the cool, crisp weather is getting me excited for the season to come.

So thank you Summer, for another experience for the books, but we welcome you Autumn: your sweaters, your football Sundays, your hot coffee, your colors, your leaves, your warm embrace.

Until our next adventure…

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