Oprah on How to Tell If a Friendship is the Real Deal

Great article from Oprah.com

Oprah and Gayle King’s road trip

img_5185Photo: Kirby Bumpus
I thought I knew a lot about friendship until I spent 11 days traveling across the country in a Chevy Impala with my best friend, Gayle King. We’ve been close since she was 21 and I was 22, and have been through a lot together: my previous bad relationships, her divorce. We’ve vacationed together and worked together on this magazine.

On Memorial Day, we set out to “see the U.S.A. in a Chevrolet.” Remember that commercial from years ago? Well, I always thought it was a charming idea.

When we pulled out of my driveway in California, we were singing the jingle loudly, with vibrato. Cracking ourselves up.

Three days in, around Holbrook, Arizona, we were mumbling the tune. And by Lamar, Colorado, five days in, we’d stopped singing altogether.

The trip was grueling. Every day, six, then eight, then ten hours with nothing but road stretched ahead.

When Gayle drove, she insisted on constant music—XM 23 the Heart. I wanted silence. “To be alone with my thoughts” became a running joke. As she sang along boisterously, I realized there wasn’t a tune she didn’t know. (She called almost every one her favorite.) This was as nerve-racking for me as the silence was for her when I was behind the wheel.

I learned patience. And when patience wore thin, I bought earplugs and headphones.

Every night, landing in a different hotel, we were exhausted but still able to laugh at ourselves. We laughed at my merging anxiety, interstate anxiety, and passing-another-vehicle anxiety. Oh, and crossing-a-bridge anxiety.

Other than that, Gayle will tell you I’m a great driver.

She is indeed a masterly driver, taking the curves on the Pennsylvania Turnpike with ease and steadily leading us into New York. Only one glitch: Her contacts had been in too long and her eyes were tired. So we’re approaching the George Washington Bridge, relieved to end the long run of eating Cheetos and pork rinds at gas stations. Dusk has fallen, and night is approaching fast. Gayle says, “I hate to tell you this, but I can’t see.”

“What do you mean, you can’t see?” I try to ask calmly.

“All the headlights have halos. Do they have halos to you?”

“Uhhhh, no, they do not. Can you see the lines on the road?” I’m shouting now, envisioning the headline—Friends Finish Journey In A Crash on the GW Bridge.

There’s nowhere to pull over, and cars are speeding by.

“I know this bridge very well,” she says. “That’s what’s saving us. And I have a plan. When we get to the toll, I’m going to pull over and take out my contacts and get my glasses.”

The toll is a long way ahead. “What can I do?” I say, near panic. “Do you need me to steer for you?”

“No,” she says. “I’m going to hug the white lines. Can you take out my contacts and put on my glasses?” she jokes.

At least I think she’s joking.

“That would be dangerous and impossible,” I say.

“Then turn up the air, I’m sweatin’.”

We both sweated our way to the toll-booth. And safely pulled into New York.

The crew following us had T-shirts made: I SURVIVED THE ROAD TRIP.

What I know for sure is that if you can survive 11 days in cramped quarters with a friend and come out laughing, your friendship is the real deal. I know ours is.

What Oprah Knows for Sure
Oprah on real love
What it means to live in the moment
Discovering a new perspective

 

We’re All Doing The Best We Can

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When we take a step back and remember that most of the time people aren’t “out to get us,” purposefully doing things to upset or annoy us, or consciously trying to make mistakes, disappoint us, or create difficulty (they’re simply doing the best they can and what they think makes the most sense) – we can save ourselves from unnecessary overreactions and stress. And, when we’re able to have this same awareness and compassion in how we relate to ourselves, we can dramatically alter our lives and relationships in a positive way.
Give people the benefit of the doubt. Most of the time people have good intentions. Many of us, myself included, have been trained to be cautious and suspicious of others, even seeing this as an important and effective skill in life and business. However, we almost always get what we expect from people, so the more often we give people the benefit of the doubt, the more often they will prove us “right,” and the less often we will waste our precious time and energy on cynicism, suspicion, and judgment.
Don’t take things personally. One of my favorite sayings is, “You wouldn’t worry about what other people think about you so much, if you realized how little they actually did.” The truth is that most people are focused on themselves much more than on us. Too often in life we take things personally that have nothing to do with us. This doesn’t mean we let people walk all over us or treat us in disrespectful or hurtful ways (it can be important for us to speak up and push back at times in life). However, when we stop taking things so personally, we liberate ourselves from needless upset, defensiveness, and conflict.
Look for the good. Another way to say what I mentioned above about getting what we expect from other people, is that we almost always find what we look for. If you want to find some things about me that you don’t like, consider obnoxious, or get on your nerves – just look for them, I’m sure you’ll come up with some. On the flip side, if you want to find some of my best qualities and things you appreciate about me, just look for those – they are there too. As Werner Erhard said, “In every human being there is both garbage and gold, it’s up to us to choose what we pay attention to.” Looking for the good in others (as well as in life and in ourselves), is one of the best ways to find things to appreciate and be grateful for.
Seek first to understand. Often when we’re frustrated, annoyed, or in conflict with another person (or group of people), we don’t feel seen, heard, or understood. As challenging and painful as this can be, one of the best things we can do is to shift our attention from trying to get other people to understand us (or being irritated that it seems like they don’t), is to seek to understand the other person (or people) involved in an authentic way. This can be difficult, especially when the situation or conflict is very personal and emotional to us. However, seeking to understand is one of the best ways for us to liberate ourselves from the grip of criticism and judgment, and often helps shift the dynamic of the entire thing. Being curious, understanding, and even empathetic of another person and their perspective or feelings doesn’t mean we agree with them, it simply allows us to get into their world and see where they’re coming from – which is essential to letting go of judgment, connecting with them, and ultimately resolving the conflict.
Be gentle with others (and especially with yourself). Being gentle is the opposite of being critical. When we’re gentle, we’re compassionate, kind, and loving. We may not like, agree with, or totally understand what someone has done (or why), but we can be gentle in how we respond and engage with them. Being gentle isn’t about condoning or appeasing anyone or anything, it’s about having a true sense of empathy and perspective. And, the most important place for us to bring a sense of gentleness is to ourselves. Many of us have a tendency to be hyper self-critical. Sadly, some of the harshest criticism we dole out in life is aimed right at us. Another great saying I love is, “We don’t see people as they are, we see them as we are.” As we alter how we relate to ourselves, our relationship to everyone else and to the world around us is altered in a fundamental way.

Love Allison💛

 

Tips to Transform Your Prayers

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Tips to Transform Your Prayers

You can become a prayer warrior. Here’s how:

Use Scripture to boost your prayer confidence. If you want to become a prayer warrior, saturate yourself with the words and examples of prayer warriors found in the Bible. For example:

Moses in Exodus 15:2, 3: “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my victory. . . . The Lord is a warrior.”

David in Psalm 28:7: “The Lord is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in him with all my heart. He helps me.”

The three Hebrew captives in Daniel 3:17: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.”

The prophet Micah: “But as for me, I am filled with power and the Spirit of the Lord. I am filled with justice and might” (3:8).

Jesus in Mark 9:23: “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Paul in Ephesians 3:20: “Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.”

Pray for the “impossible.” Prayer warriors don’t hesitate to pray for the impossible. They take seriously these words from Jesus: “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible” (Matthew 19:26).

No matter how grim the circumstances, pray boldly, even when the request seems impossible.

Robert W. Zinnecker of Rexford, New York, writes about a time when he felt frightened and alone. He was sitting in a garden area outside the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “I had just agreed to have my second major surgery in three weeks for a rare form of cancer,” he recalls. The prospects were dubious. Mayo had handled only 25 cases like his in its history, and no patient had survived.

Throughout his illness, Zinnecker’s faith had remained strong, but now he felt abandoned by God. Returning to his motel room, he found an envelope had been mailed to him. It was from a work colleague and contained a card and a small pewter pin replica of a small child in the palm of a giant hand. The accompanying Scripture was from Isaiah 49:15, 16: “I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.”

As Zinnecker read that verse and held the little pewter pin, he felt a warm glow of assurance that God had not forgotten him. He prayed for the “impossible,” a successful surgical outcome. “The next day, after I was four hours in surgery, the surgeon told my wife, ‘There is no trace of the cancer.’ Now, 15 years later, I continue to rejoice in the warmth of that assurance of God’s love. I am in his hands,” Zinnecker says.

Pray in simple, concrete language. That is what Jesus instructed us to do when he taught people the Lord’s Prayer. That prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13, is only 57 words long in the original Greek. In English it is 52 words and can be recited in less than 30 seconds. And most of the words in the prayer consist of one syllable, which by today’s standards means the written form of the Lord’s Prayer is on a second- or third-grade level.

The lesson: use simple, concrete language when speaking with God. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Consider this wisdom from author John B. Coburn:

Be yourself. Be natural before God. Do not pretend to emotions you do not feel. Tell him whatever is on your heart and mind with whatever words are most natural to you. You do not have to speak to him in “religious” language about “spiritual” matters only. . . . Speak as naturally and as easily as you would to a friend, since God is just that..

Offer bold prayers. When praying, think about this insight from writer William Arthur Ward: “God wants us to be victors, not victims; to grow, not grovel; to soar, not sink; to overcome, not to be overwhelmed.” Offer bold prayers that reflect a large faith and a large hope.

A prayer warrior who offered bold prayers was Archibald Campbell Tait, an archbishop of Canterbury in the 19th century. Between March 11 and April 8, 1856, Tait and his wife lost five of their six daughters to scarlet fever. At the height of his enormous grief, the archbishop offered this bold prayer of gratitude for God’s blessings in his life:

O God, you have dealt very mysteriously with us. We have been passing through deep waters. . . . Yet, O Lord, shall I not thank you now? I will thank you not only for the children you have left to us, but for those you have reclaimed. I thank you for the blessing of the last ten years, and for all the sweet memories of these lives. . . . I thank you for the full assurance that each has gone to the arms of the Good Shepherd, whom each loved according to the capacity of her years. I thank you for the bright hopes of a happy reunion, when we shall meet to part no more.

Have great expectations. Some people are prayer worriers not prayer warriors. They are filled with worry and self-doubt when they pray. This spiritual condition results in weakened, ineffective prayers.

The apostle James addressed this very issue: “When you ask him (God), be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. . . . They waver back and forth in everything they do” (James 1:6-8).

When approaching God with your needs, be strong and positive. Believe with all your mind and heart that God can and will respond to you. Pray big. Believe big. Think big. Cultivate a strong, positive, vibrant faith.

Tansform Your Relationship With Money and Change Your Life

imageStatistics show that within seven years of coming into money, the average person will be living at the same economic level as before the windfall appeared. The explanation for this typically lies in a person’s “money scripts”, the powerful beliefs they formed about money, usually in childhood. These money scripts tend to remain unconscious and tend to be “generational” in that they frequently get passed down from parent to child.

Money scripts can be difficult to spot because they’ll often feel “true” to the person and, in certain circumstances, may even be true. However, if they remain unquestioned, they mean we repeat patterns that deprive us of prosperity and peace of mind.

To give you an idea of what money scripts look like, here are some common ones:

WORKAHOLICS

Once you have enough money, then you’ll be able to relax and enjoy life
You must work hard for money
The more money you have, the happier and safer you will be
Your worth is determined by how much money you make

THOSE WHO HAVE MONEY

You can’t trust anyone with your money
People only want you for your money
You didn’t work for this money, so you don’t deserve it
You mustn’t lose, or make a mistake with, the money you’ve got

THOSE WHO DON’T HAVE MONEY

This isn’t enough money – so there’s no point in trying to save
You’re not worth more (so stay in the job you hate)
Money is bad / evil / unimportant
Rich people got that way by taking advantage of others
You deserve to treat yourself so spending beyond your means is okay

WOMEN

Husbands take care of money so wives don’t have to
Making money is difficult / overwhelming / impossible
You’ll never be able to earn enough, so you need a man with money

MONEY IN RELATIONSHIPS

Understanding what messages you received about money in your childhood is the first step to learning how to communicate with others about money. If you don’t understand your own history and “childhood tapes”, then conversations about money (with spouses, friends, family members, bosses) are unlikely to be as easy and straightforward as they could be.

Statistics suggest that 70% of marital breakdowns are due to money problems. Of course the arguments aren’t actually about the money per se – these disputes happen whether funds are tight or plentiful. What couples are really arguing about is their own attitude to money, and what it represents. Is money for spending and giving away? Is money for safety and security? Does money equal power in a relationship? Does money equal love? Is it acceptable for a wife to earn more than her husband? Does one have to share everything or is it okay to have secret funds (or secret debts) that your partner doesn’t know about?

All sorts of relationship dynamics can get unleashed around money which can represent so many things – power, control, safety, security, status, worth, love. According to research from the American Sociological Association, the more economically dependent a man is on his female partner, the more likely he is to cheat on her. Whilst for women, economic dependency seems to have the opposite effect.

Life changes that shift income – a promotion, a redundancy, giving up work to look after children – also typically shift the power balance in a relationship. When one member of the couple earns less, they may feel they have to take on the role of “pleaser” in the relationship, to make up for not bringing as much to the table. Equally, if the poorer partner feels beholden to the richer one, they’re likely to drop into victimhood or resentment (or both) especially if they’re having to ask for money which can feel humiliating and disempowering.

*awesome article by Psychotherapist Sabrina Weyenth

10 Ways to Let Go and Open Up to Love Again

Imagine if we only had one chance in life to be happy or successful.

In our careers.

In our choice of friends.

Or in love.

What a very sad world it would be if we were all doomed to work in jobs we hated or to hang around people we no longer connect with. Worse yet, what if we lost our chance at love?

Why put yourself through so much pain and suffering for a love that hurts and could end?

Tiny Buddha nailed it.

The reason to give love another shot, I’ve learned, is that by loving better and deeper, we become even more whole. Our hurt and tears clear the fog around our heart and illuminate the soul.

The journey to love is a journey to one’s self, your highest, most sacred and loving self.

There are plenty of obstacles keeping us from loving again. Sad to say, I’ve experienced them all.

Here are ten way to let go of the obstacles preventing you from having love in your life.

1. Let go of pain.

You can’t let go of pain  by resisting it. You could avoid the pain for some time, but in order to move on you must fully embrace the pain.

Embracing the pain means experiencing loss, sadness, and grief. As difficult as it might be, allow the tears to flow and share your experience with your friends and family.

Write down your feelings and come to terms with the emotions you’re going through.

Instead of judging yourself harshly for your feelings, wash yourself in compassion for finding the strength to move through your pain.

2. Let go of trespasses.

When you break up, you feel like you want to blame everyone for causing your heartache. This includes not just your ex, but also their parents, your parents, their friends, your friends, and everyone in between.

The only way to stop blaming others  is to forgive them. No matter how grave the offense or how unacceptable their behavior, your healing starts when you let go of the gripe. Yes, it was unfair; yes, it was unjust; and yes, they did you wrong. But there’s nothing to be done now but forgive.

Forgive people, because they, like us, have many imperfections. They know not what they do. They don’t live up to our expectations and have had difficult pasts that we may not understand fully.

3. Let go of bitterness.

The way to let go of bitterness toward others is to think of the many positive qualities and experiences you’ve had with them.

Your ex is not an evil person; they just weren’t the best person for you.

Instead of being stuck on their flaws and wrongdoings, allow the power of forgiveness to overlook what they’ve ‘done’ to you. Look at what good they’ve done, how much they’ve helped you be a better person, and the happy times you had together.

Remind yourself of their redeeming qualities. See their light.

4. Let go of resentments.

We let go of self pity and resentments by being more grateful.

Not only be thankful to your ex and the relationship you shared, but start living a life filled with gratefulness.

Notice the small things and the big things that are constantly occurring around you.

Appreciate the kind gesture, the words of encouragement, and the favorable circumstances that unfold in your life.

Making a small gratitude list as you start or end the day can help you move from focusing on resentments to focusing on thankfulness.

5. Let go comparing yourself to others.

What I’ve learned is that no relationship is perfect and most relationships look good from the outside. Comparing your relationship to others isn’t very constructive.

Once again, transform bitterness toward others to gratefulness that others have found love in their lives. If others have found love, let that be a message of hope and possibility for you.

We are each on our own journeys to better understanding ourselves and loving better. Our journey is independent of anyone else’s.

Your day will come. Your broken love and loss are the seeds of true love.

6. Let go of expectations.

We’ve grown up to expect a lot of things to turn out a certain way. But like the weather and weather reports, you can’t count on sunny and bright all the time.

If we can’t expect good weather, we sure can’t expect a perfect love or a partner to behave a certain way.

The way to be happy in and out of relationships is to let go of expectations and conditions.

Your Mr. or Mrs. Right isn’t a certain height, a certain profession, or a specific personality.

Be open to the magic of possibilities.

7. Let go of resistance.

Although love can be painful and heart-breaking, be willing to open your heart anyway.

Be open to meeting new people, be open to being vulnerable, and be open to falling in love again.

Love can only bloom if you’re open to love in your life. Set the intention for love to enter again.

8. Let go of being tough.

I know the feeling well. “The stronger and I am the more closed I am to others, the less likely someone else will hurt me again.”

If you close your heart and feelings to others, you may avoid pain but you’ll also miss out on happiness and joy.

Seek to be your most honest self. Instead of hiding behind a cloak of someone you’re not, be yourself in the world, which will only make you more attractive.

By being true to yourself, you’ll also attract people who are better suited for you.

Being vulnerable means being honest about your shortcomings and sharing your feelings. It’s choosing honesty over trying to look good.

9. Let go of telling the same story over and over.

You want to tell the same sad story repeatedly to friends—a love gone wrong, a love soured, a love that fell apart.

What if that story simply wasn’t true?

There are many perspectives and stories in every relationship. Are you holding onto a story of resentment and bitterness?

Are you willing to see a different story? A different perspective?

Could the lost love have helped you grow? Heal some part of yourself? Learn about an open wound?

Is the story you’re telling yourself blocking love from entering your life again?

10. Let go of fear.

The way to let go of fear is to recognize and embrace it.

How is fear holding you back? Is it keeping you stuck from living the life you want or the love you desire?

Call fear out for what it is. What is the worst that can happen if this fear came true? How likely is it that this fear will come true? Have you overcome fears like this in your past?

When you confront fear and acknowledge it for what it is, you can have an honest conversation with fear.

Ultimately, a partner is a mirror and guide to help you complete the journey to your truest self. Even if you break up with them, they can be a conduit to healing and being made whole.

Let go of your blocks keeping you from experiencing joy. Let go and choose love again.

An unknown author wrote, When two who have suffered find each other, the bond is like steel. They become each others’ soul mates and comfort from the storm of life. At the same time, they stir the deepest, darkest desires in each other.

Finding someone you love and who loves you back is a wonderful, wonderful feeling. But finding a true soul mate is an even better feeling. A soul mate is someone who understands you like no other, loves you like no other, will be there for you forever, no matter what. They say that nothing lasts forever, but I am a firm believer in the fact that for some, love lives on even after we’re gone.~Cecelia Ahern, P.S. I Love You

Because I let go and chose love again, I found my “Perfect For Me” husband to be. My forever. My left arm. My soulmate. My Mr James Garrett. PS….I Love You❤️

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7 Things You Must Leave Behind To Get Ahead in 2016

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To move forward, you have to leave some things behind.

1.Beliefs That No Longer Serve You: If you want to move forward, you have to be willing to shed the old beliefs that you hold but that no longer serve you.

2. Your Willingness To Rationalize: It’s easy to find something external on which to place the blame for the areas where your results aren’t what you want them to be.

3. Your Willingness to Procrastinate
You are not a procrastinator because there is no such thing. You are a human being who happens to procrastinate.

4. Making Small Choices: Most television is a small choice. Spending time arguing about politics is a small choice.

5. Your Desire for Comfort: Once you reach this point, you’re comfortable. And comfort is a dangerous state. You were born hungry.

6. Your Fears: This is a big one. The one thing most likely to keep you from success is fear. You might be afraid of what other people will think.

7. People Who Don’t Support You: There are some people that can’t be happy for your success.
If you want to transform yourself, you are going to need to leave part of your old self behind. That’s the price you pay for transformation, and the price you pay for becoming the person you were born to be.

Love Allison💛

10 Signs of Walking Depression

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Do you suffer from walking depression?  I read this article by Alison Gresik. While she talks about walking depression in writers and artists, I found it profoundly relevant to many everyday women I work with and coach.
On the surface, people might not know anything is wrong. You keep working and keep looking after your families.

But you’re doing it all while profoundly unhappy. Depression is negatively impacting your life and relationships and impairing your abilities.

Walking depression can be hard to recognize because it doesn’t fit the more common picture of severe depression. But it can be just as dangerous to your well-being when left unacknowledged.

1.Nothing is fun. You root around for something to look forward to and come up empty.

2. You can’t find flow. Working on your creative projects feels like a grind, but you keep plodding away. There is research that shows that neuroticism (the tendency toward negative moods) is associated with lower rates of flow.

3 Your energy is low. Maybe you’re not getting enough rest because you’re too anxious to sleep, or you’re trying to cram too many tasks into a day, or you’re punishing yourself by staying up. Whatever the reason, you are effin’ tired.

4. You feel worse in the morning and better at night. I remember explaining this to a friend, who found it mystifying. In the morning I felt the crushing weight of all the things I had to do that day. In the evening I was temporarily free from expectations and could enjoy a moment’s respite.

5. You have simmering resentment toward others. Sure, you’re still doing what everybody asks of you, but you stew in anger the whole time. You are jealous of and bitter toward people who look happier than you feel.

6. Your self-talk gets caustic. You say nasty things in an effort to shock yourself into action. You use shame as a motivator.

7. You feel distanced from people around you. It’s hard to have genuine, intimate conversations because you have to keep up this front that you are alright.

8. You deprive yourself of creative work time. This helps you exert some control and stirs up feelings of suffering that are perversely pleasurable. Also, taking on new projects that prevent you from writing or making art lets you prove to yourself that you’re still strong and capable.
9. You notice a significant mood change when you have caffeine or alcohol. A cup of coffee might make you feel a lot more revved-up and optimistic. A glass of wine might make you feel really mellow and even ~ gasp! ~ happy. (That’s how I finally realized that I was depressed.)

10. You feel like you’re wasting your life. Some people have a high sensitivity to the inherent meaning in what we do. If our daily activities don’t carry enough significance ~ if they don’t feel like a worthwhile use of our talents and passions ~ then soon we are asking ourselves,  “What’s the point? Why should I keep going?”

Why is it hard to admit that you have walking depression?

You may recognize many of these signs in your life but still be slow to admit that you are depressed. Why is that?

Because it feels presumptuous to put yourself in that category when you’re still getting by. You feel like it would be insulting to those who are much worse off than you. You may feel like you have no real reason to be depressed.

Because your pride and your identity take a hit. You have to admit vulnerability and allow that you are not the all-conquering superhero you thought you were.

Because you realize that you and your life need to change, which feels like more work piled on your plate.

Because you are admitting your own responsibility for your unhappiness and that can trigger self-judgment.

Because you might uncover grief or anger at those around you for not seeing and taking better care of you.

Prison Break Action Steps:

Rest.
Make use of medication and other physical treatments.
Do therapy.
Practice gratitude.
Make connections.
Reduce your responsibilities.
Spend time creating.
Change your thoughts.
Develop a meaning practice.
Change your life.
These steps are simple to say, not easy to do, so make sure you get as much support as you can.
As a young adult, I longed to make my mark on the world and be successful. But life got in the way, I started to sabotage my own happiness. I got sidetracked by all the demands of an ordinary life.

Soon I joined the ranks of the walking depressed. I was working and looking after my family, but I was also desperately sad.

I found the path out of depression by following my desires—to write, to travel, to support criminal justice issues and became a certified life coach. Eventually I left ordinary life behind.

Find and follow your path of desire! Walk out of walking depression and into an extraordinary life!

 

Love Allison 💛