Upholding Ma'at

Journeying through the modern world with ancient ways.


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20 Days to a New You

I like a lot of what Queenmother Imakhu has to offer.  I know some criticize her, but I found her wisdom to be helpful and transforming.  I’ve signed up for her course on personal transformation and, with her permission, am sharing that information.  You can find out more on facebook and through her shenu yoga website.

I hope to see you there!


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Kemeticism 101: Offerings

One of the things I haven’t discussed in better detail are offerings. It seems pretty apparent what they are, but I thought I’d delve into their purpose and the type of offerings.

Offerings101

 

What Are Offerings?

Offerings are items which are presented to a god as part of prayer. In this sense, I’m using prayer to include ritual use and not solely petitioning. Offerings served different purposes such as providing nourishment for a god, purification, dressings, as well as other purposes. In Ancient Egypt offerings consisted of food, drink, bouquets of flowers, livestock, cosmetics, clothing, as well as votive offerings. I’ll go into a little bit more detail with each category so it’s understood a bit more for the beginner.

Food Offerings

This is pretty straight forward. It is believed the gods needed Offerings101foodsustenance and it’s provided for Them. There were possibly some foods which weren’t offered, but this is up for debate as taboo foods were found in the offerings. There are known offerings of foods, such as various breads, cooked meats, in addition to fruits and vegetables. As with many things in Kemetic rituals these have symbolic significance.

Bread was a staple in Ancient Egypt. It was also a common offering. In one temple Amun was offered different types of breads. I’m sure bread was tied to some symbolism in ritual, but my research hasn’t turned up much on what that is.

Some of the meats offered were from animals which may confuse beginners. Some of the animals have dual representations not only of gods but creatures labeled as “the enemies of Ra”, which were also representations of enemies of the king. More on this fact in a moment.

Produce was also offered in Ancient Egypt. One of the most notable offerings occurs in the ritual of The Offering of the First Fruits. In this instance the offering marks part of a ritual of the beginning of the harvest season.

Liquid Offerings

Like food offerings this is also self-explanatory. Some of the offerings include water, milk, beer, and wine.

Possibly the most common liquid offering is water. Every temple had Offerings101watera water source from which to draw. Modern Kemetics offer water to the gods as it is easily accessible for many. In ancient times they recited a formula while offering water. This is done today by some groups, the Kemetic Orthodoxy being one. While all offerings coincided with some utterance formula the others are less accessible for some.

Beer is another common liquid offering next to water in modern Kemeticism. This was also offered in Ancient Egypt on holidays and the daily ritual. Some Kemeticists have issue with offering this and

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other alcoholic drinks. The most common issues are alcohol abstinence or being underage. Luckily there are alternatives today, such as non-alcoholic beer. If I don’t offer beer physically I have some image of a beer jar as a stand-in while I recite the beer offering. In modern times this is a fairly popular offering still, even though the other common offering is equally available for some.

Wine represented a couple of things in rituals, and it depends on the context which symbolism is used. In most cases wine is offered in connection with Wesir and rebirth, not to mention the association with crops (and with wine in this respect). As is the case with beer some may not offer wine due to abstinence from alcohol or being underage. I’ve seen some Kemeticists subsitute grape juice. I’ve also seen non-alcoholic wine (though I’m not sure how it’s processed to be like wine and non-alcoholic), though I’ve not heard of Kemeticists substituing this for actual wine. I personally have an image of a wine jug stand in for the wine while I recite the offering.

Another drink offering was milk. The significance of the liquid is not only purity (thanks to the color and its association with purity) but also in strengthening. The latter association refers to mostly child deities –for example, Harsomtu –though other gods sometimes received milk as well.

Livestock Offerings

Various types of livestock were also offered in Ancient Egyptian rituals, namely cattle and waterfowl. While obviously offered during temple rituals and not by the layman the livestock offerings had their place. The livestock and slaughtering of it usually represented some enemy of a god (and also the king) which was considered subdued. In this way it was considered upholding Ma’at when the meat was prepared for cooking after the slaughtering.

Bouquets of Flowers

In Ancient Egypt bouquets of flowers were also presented to the gods. They Offerings101flowerswere even presented for certain rituals. Unfortunately I can’t see to find anything else about them nor their significance, but the bouquets offered in temples were later distributed to the tombs of the king during certain holidays.

Votive Offerings

Votive offerings are essentially items which are offered to a deity. They can take on many forms, but it was offered with the premise that it stood in place of something in order to answer a prayer.

While most votive offerings found at archaeological sites consisted of Offerings101prayerjarfigurines, stelae of people presenting offerings to the gods, and ears (in hopes the god can hear the prayers of the person) the concept found a place in modern Kemeticism. Some use food offerings made out of clay, some offer their own figurines or artwork of a god, where others may offer jewelry or stones.  In this case I have a prayer jar representing the votive offerings, a practice I learned from the Kemetic Orthodoxy which has a similar function.

Offerings Based on UPG

Modern Kemeticists offer additional foods which weren’t available during the time period. Since these seem to be accepted without too many reservations (if any at all) it tends to fall under Unverified Personal Gnosis (UPG). Some of these offerings include: chocolate; coffee; tea; instant ramen; various candies; toys; bacon; and New World meats like turkey. The offerings vary in significance from shared gnosis of certain deities enjoying such offerings to the devotee’s available resources. This doesn’t indicate the offerings are deemed insignificant by the devotee, however. Oftentimes the offerings are presented with sincerity and honest intentions. Due to the nature of such offerings, however, it can be hard for a new devotee to assess if a UPG-based offering is deemed welcome by a deity.

The question becomes, then, how to assess if a deity accepts an offering outside of the more traditional offerings. Most of the time it seems to be based on the devotee’s intuition. Since the subjective nature of such offerings means a deity can accept a type of offering from several devotees and not others it leads to interesting discussions.

What Happens to the Offerings?

Regardless of the offering type it was removed from the offering table. I have a blog post which addresses what to do with food and liquid offerings. Votive offerings, however, were and are still handled differently. In ancient times votive figurines were buried, but most votive offerings today are kept on the shrine.

Thanks to Big Rip Brewery Company for letting me show off their beer.  You can learn more about them at this link.

 

Sources

Pinch, Geraldine and Elizabeth A. Waraksa, 2009, Votive Practices. In Jacco Dieleman, Willeke Wendrich (eds.), UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, Los Angeles. Online database. Retrieved 2013.

Poo, Mu-chou, 2010, Liquids in Temple Ritual. In Willeke Wendrich (ed.), UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, Los Angeles. Online database. Retrieved 2013.

Nelson, Harold H. “Certain Reliefs at Karnak and Medinet Habu and the Ritual of Amenophis I.” Journal of  Near Eastern  Studies. Vol. 8, No. 3 (Jul., 1949), pp. 201-232. JSTOR. Retrieved 2/12/2011

Nelson, Harold H. “Certain Reliefs at Karnak and Medinet Habu and the Ritual of Amenophis I- (Concluded).” Journal of Near Eastern Studies. Vol. 8, No. 4 (Oct., 1949), pp. 310-345. JSTOR. Retrieved 2/11/2011


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Festival of the Beautiful Union: An Introduction

It’s time for another holiday by my calendar, and this time it’s the Festival of the Beautiful Union. This holiday goes by other names, like The Festival of the Beautiful Embrace, The Sacred Marriage, or the Festival of the Beautiful Reunion. I’ve only seen the latter with members of the Kemetic Orthodoxy, however. Regardless of the variation of the name the holiday is celebrated the same way. The actual date of the holiday is the new moon during the third month of Shomu. Depending on the calendar observed this is marked either in May or June on the Gregorian calendar.

The significance of the Festival of the Beautiful Union features some complexity. This holiday focuses on when Het-Hert marries Heru at its surface. In Dendera this roughly month and a half affair where the Het-Hert statue travels with an entourage to the Temple of Edfu, where She marries Heru-Behedity, consummates the marriage, then returns to Dendera to give birth to Ihy. Sources note this holiday marks a harvest festival as well, though it seems there is more to it. There are some mortuary elements to the holiday celebrations in addition to creation aspects. Those rituals and aspects will be addressed in later posts.

The observance of the holiday is very lengthy and contains a lot of complexity. The main celebration in Edfu itself is two weeks long with an additional two weeks for preparation, the procession to Edfu also included. Each phase of the holiday repeats the same motifs but enforces the importance of the themes, which focus on the harvest, birth, and death. While the information I present is by no means exhaustive I hope to add to it as I learn more in future posts. The current posts I have will focus on the preparations in Dendera, the procession to Edfu, the rituals within Edfu, and the procession back.

Preparations in Dendera

The Procession to Edfu

Hethert Arrives in Edfu

The Festival of Heru Behedity

Celebrating in Edfu (Days 3-4)

The Gods Emerge (Days 5-6)

The Festival of Behedet (Days 7-13)

The Procession Home (Day 14)

Sources

Bleeker, C.J.  Hathor and Thoth: Two Key Figures of the Ancient Egyptian Religion. With 4 Plates.  Google Books.

Coppens, Filip. “Temple Festivals of the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods”. In Jacco

      Dieleman and Willeke Wendrich (eds.), UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology Jan 2009. eScholarship.

      Web. 5/8/15.

El-Sabban, Sherif. “Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt. Google books.

The Festival of the Beautiful Reunion.” Asetmeri, n.d. Web.

Lloyd, Alan B. A Companion to Ancient Egypt. Google Books.

Ritner, Robert Kriech. “The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice.” Studies in Ancient

      Oriental Civilization 54 (1993): 59. PDF.

Wilkinson, J. Gardner. The Ancient Egyptians: Their Life and Customs. New York: Bonanza Books,

1988. Print.


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The Transformation

I’ve spent a lot of time devoted to my business lately. I fear I devoted so much of myself to it that I’ve neglected my blog more than usual. It’s a shame since I enjoy writing it, regardless of the reason. Much of it has to do with the transformations in my life. Transformations, for me, are very similar to changes. The difference for me lies in how the changes impact a person. I believe transformations last longer than changes.

Funny enough, much of focusing on my business right now is personal. I’m at a point financially that I can afford to live on my own. I hope to resume things with my etsy store soon enough. That is another topic for another day, though. That transformation is almost a different topic. Nonetheless I realized that I will have to change some things with the store. That will take time, and lots of it.

The part few admit about change is true change takes a long time. It also takes a bit of effort to change, which is much harder when those resources for it are limited or inaccessible. I’ve had to bootstrap much of it in a way I find amusing. It’s not so much the reference to certain 80’s TV characters or a George Harrison song as much as reminiscing about my college days. My first go round as a music critic required much work and balance. Between school, work, persuing spiritual work, and then that hobby required me to grapple with a bit. Moreover it required some recognition by the community, online and off. That had its own share of obstacles. Another thing few admit about changes and transformations is their tumultuous nature.

I think what really stuck out was how I left. It was spurred by a breakup combined with a sense of betrayal from the entire music scene. Around that time I received my acceptance letter for courses at the House of Netjer. I felt it signaled a time to do something I should have done a long time ago: tread my spiritual path with a bit more dedication and with less to juggle. I declared that four years ago, and I had a very bumpy path to follow.

Despite the struggles, losses, and tribulations there have been some incredible gains. The certifications I’ve gathered, the diplomas, and the life experiences all culminate into the person I am now. I know for certain there are many who think I’m worse off for it, but I know my thoughts and current bitterness aside it’s just another growth spurt. In many ways I’m still that college kid who wrote her English essays between bands. Instead of writing about bands, I scribble down my contemplations about my spirituality and religious beliefs between various writing projects and playing shopkeep. I’m not moshing, but I bear a few bruises from slamming against life. My faith serves as a poultice and guides me through the pain. It is looking at those bruises now with my religious path and some of the old wounds I’ve reopened with juggling everything do I see one common pattern. As I juggle a job, my hobbies, and my blogs have I realized my major flaw in my character. I try to be too many things at once for myself and other people. I felt betrayed in the same way I’m sure others felt upset with me, maybe even felt betrayed by me: in trying to be everything I was only letting myself down. Ultimately I can only answer for who I am and what I’ve done. I should know what I want and how to rise to the occasion. That is where my transformation always emerged.

I’ve learned a bit more about human nature from those final, painful moments as a music critic. I’ve learned how they apply to any setting that requires interaction and how to differentiate between a common vision and a projected vision onto me. It’s why the clarity of my vision of goals are integral. That vision includes occasionally peering into my past so I can spot things in my present cycle.

I will probably always be that wide-eyed college kid trying to be everything to myself. However that doesn’t mean I am currently living as a college kid; that part of my life has ended. Instead I’ll apply those attributes to my current life so I can grow and learn new skills and attributes.


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A New Perspective: Plagiarism Is Against Ma’at

Back when I first wrote this post I angered a few folks.  By now, this isn’t new to me as I can’t seem to be in a Kemetic or Pagan community without stepping on someone’s toes.  It’s not something I set out to do, mind you. Folks have a strong reaction to what I say sometimes. At the time I talked about yet another Kemetic group ripping off others’ practices and taking credit for it as original work.  People stamped their feet and used empty words like “negative” when called out.  Luckily people are speaking out more against such practices, mostly on the subject of lifting artwork and writing. The lack of positivity is ignored.

Despite what some people argue a piece out in the public doesn’t make something “up for grabs”.  I don’t know how this thinking got so prevalent in the Pagan community, but that’s where I see it the most.  Taking something without giving proper credit is plagiarism.  That’s not to say we haven’t misattributed a source or cited something incorrectly from time to time (which is technically plagiarism), or forgot to cite or give credit.   This is not directed at those instances. This is directed at the people who knowingly take from everywhere without feeling they need to attribute credit where it’s due.  I’ve seen some pieces outright claimed as an original.

What I can’t seem to comprehend through all of this is why there would be a need to plagiarize. There is no actual reason to steal someone’s work, as that is the nature of plagiarism. Even with internet memes few pretend it’s an original work.

When I first wrote this post I noticed a pattern between plagiarism’s prevalency and the lack of accountability. While there are rapid changes to both it is still difficult to hold leaders and Big Name Pagans accountable. Some of that will resolve itself with making those expectations clearer as well as deciding on a new generation of leaders.

This is where we are unique in regards to religious organizations. We get to set the new standards, provided we can agree upon something beyond what isn’t in a practice. It also means we may have to finally centralize and agree on certain practices, maybe even create discernable sects. In centralizing we have ways of holding leaders with improprieties like plagiarism accountable. Since we’re relatively decentralized at the moment that means the followers hold those leaders accountable.

Plagiarism, as far as I’m concerned, is against Ma’at. It not only displays a willingness to steal but also laziness. When it’s found inherent in any organization I grow concerned because it means it goes unchecked or even outright ignored. Without the accountability found in other organizations these actions undermine an entire practice. If we want a more from our leaders we should expect more, make those expectations clear, and hold the leaders to it. In addition to making those expecations clear there should be a clear reprimand for it and others. I feel in making leaders and Big Name Pagans accountable we at least set the framework for followers and solitary practitioners alike.

So how can we all curb plagiarism? Apart from calling it out we can credit artists and cite sources. I know the latter is difficult at times, but it’s getting easier. There are even reverse image search engines like tineye which help. Search engines in general are a great boon. It will also help others get the recognition they deserve.


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A Blog Award

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I received a blog award the other day.  Well, it was actually months ago but I’ve been behind on things.  I got this blog award, and I must fulfill some things as part of the stipulatuon (though I’m not sure that’s an award as much as a chain letter-type thing).  On that note here I go.

1.  List the rules. 

2.  Thank the nominator.  Thank you, K.M.H., for nominating me.  It is always wonderful when I can impact my readers meaningfully.  It is through this impact and support I feel inspired to keep my blog going.

3.  State seven facts about me.

     1)  Even though I state I have an anxiety disorder I was specifically diagnosed with PTSD.  I don’t like to go into the nature of my disorder because I don’t want people to get so distracted by it they miss the message I want to convey.  I don’t want to hear about how managing my illness “makes me a strong person” or how I “need to get over it” and other well-meaning, but damaging phrases.  I write about how my religious practice has enhanced my life, managing my mental health issues included.

     2)  I have been a Kemeticist for 10 years as of May.  I am only reminded because I found my old journals.

     3)  I have many art and writing projects to work on.  One draft of a chapbook is near completion.  I will most likely be dissatisfied with said chapbook.

     4)  I have fallen in love with a local beer called Hathor’s Sweet Brown.  While one reason is obvious, it’s also a nice tasting beer.  It is highly unlikely they brewed it through the Ancient Egyptian method.

     5)  Despite being engaged before I have no desire to marry, nor do I desire  to have children.  This has led to interesting encounters, including someone who claimed God “wants me to have children,”  or some weird phrase implying I’m defective for not wanting those things.

     6)  During my 20’s I was asked to run two spiritual centers and bugged constantly to become priestess.  I don’t regret turning down the spiritual centers or the role of priestess (I felt even then I was too green for either).  I do, however, feel a little more ready to become a priestess these days.

     7)  I’m not photogenic at all.  I’ve been kicked out of group photos by photographers because I’m so terrible looking in photos.

4.  Nominate 15 other blogs.  Sadly, this is where I break the rules.  Of all the active blogs I know the few who would partcipate have already been nominated.


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Craft Friday: Decorated Eggs

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I made this craft last year, but I felt with the spring equinox upon us I could share my rendition of this craft.  Obviously I went for an Ancient Egyptian theme so I could use them around a Kemetic holiday.

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I used paper mâche eggs in lieu of real ones and an image from an Egyptian stamp.  I also added a bit gold acrylic paint to add some contrast to all the green acrylic paint.

I hope others give this project a try, and I’d love to see the results.


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PBP: I Is for Isfet

I started writing a post about this topic about a year ago, but abandoned it because I saw how controversial and triggering it could be.  Now I can look back at it with a clearer intent and less controversial.  While I can’t guarantee it will be less triggering I can trust my readers to decide if they want to read further than this paragraph.

The word for chaos in Ancient Egyptian is isfet.  This is not the same as primordial chaos.  This concept of chaos was disorder, the anti-thesis of Ma’at, and above all destructive.  One could equate this concept to the epitome of evil.  In Ancient Egypt isfet was personified by Apep, who was depicted as a snake.

Modern Kemeticists tend to proscribe many things as isfet.  I’ve seen everything from unpleasant behavior to human rights violations called isfet.  I will not discuss how I feel about using isfet because I feel it’s on some level determined by the individual.  What I can discuss are the ways I deal with it.

I go into combating isfet a bit in my post of finding peace amidst the hustle and bustle.  The key to defeating isfet, though, is to look at it for what it is.  In Ancient Egyptian texts part of defeating Apep was recognizing his nature.  When we see a situation objectively and recognize the nature of what we’re dealing with we can defeat it.  Some of this, however, will require experience and discernment.

Sometimes in defeating the isfet in our own lives we first have to evaluate what isfet means to us.  Then we must ask why we consider these things as isfet.  Sometimes what a person considers isfet is, in reality, an inconvenience.  While that can feel chaotic it helps to differentiate to act accordingly.  Even a small act of changing an approach can help in major ways.  It also helps in establishing healthy boundaries.

I personally draw my line between isfet and inconvenience at the potential for destruction and harm.  While some inconveniences may harm me on some level, they tend to not cause major harm nor destruction.  I also refognize how the inconveniences accumulate and eventually evolve into isfet.  I then examine this and address it.

While these approaches deal with everday problems it takes much more when isfet is something such as a social injustice.  It takes a combination of addressing the issue for ourselves, addressing it socially (which is a feat in and of itself), and finding ways to ensure Ma’at prevails.

In this way I’ve found ways to deal with the inconveniences and isfet in my life.  I’m not perfect in my approach, and I’m aware my approach has flaws.  However in knowing my flaws in this approach I can find new ways to address the isfet in my life.


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PBP: H is for Het

In Ancient Egyptian het translates to “house”.  This takes on many meanings and interpretations.  We see it as a possible mortuary reference in the name Nebt-het.  In this sense the “house” is a tomb.   Long ago I read where the name of Het-Hert was also a way of saying She was a mother of Heru, and in that sense “house” is a reference to the womb.  The Kemetic word for temple includes the word house. 

Imakhu presents another idea which is interesting to me.  She presented the idea of one’s being as a house.  It’s something I’ve appreciated.  When I first listened to the podcast I decided to incorporate the concept of myself as a house.   I found it to be a helpful tool.

The first function this concept serves is the idea of who or what I let in my life.  While I’m far from perfect at this I’ve already seen the benefits.   When new people want to come into my life I can evaluate them based on what they show me.  I can see if their values are similar to mine and, if not, how detrimental those differences are to me.  If I think that person is too incompatible I don’t let them in to my life.

There’s still the physical element of my home and what I let in.  As I rebuild my life I’ve taken inventory of what I still have for a home and what I still need.  Thanks to my job I can now pay for items such as towels and dishes.  It’s been tough balancing just what I need as opposed to buying “in case”.  Moreover I once again have the means to fill my home with items I want, things that fit my vision of a home.  For me, that means a home which is calm and peaceful.  I’ve picked things which I feel work to that end.

In order to have the peaceful and calm home I desire I have to monitor my habits. Not only do I need to be aware of the values I share with others, or the values I want in a physical home, but I must keep dilligent in my health.  When I realized I neglected my health I took measures to regain it.  I reviewed my list of what I consider healthy living.  After making an inventory of my health I’ve made more strides to take time for activities I enjoy, time to rest, dietary change, etc.  In looking at my list I’m reminded how much of what I consider essential for my health connects to people in my life as well as what I consider a home.

Home can mean many things, and for me many of those definitions intertwine.  Ultimately it ties together to mean a balanced life for me.  In losing some of my inner balance I lost some of my health, based on how I define both for myself.  In my process of regaining those I repriortized and revised my lists and my discernment process.  I am rebuilding my home.

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PBP: G Is for Growth

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I’ve been working on this post for some
time, and because of circumstances in my life have taken some time to post.  More on that in a moment…

This particular post was inspired by a friend who performed a Tarot reading for me about my life.  He pulled only one card, partly because he was still learning the cards and partly because I didn’t want to be much trouble.  He drew The Empress.  The short of a long was since my break up the reading indicated I had nowhere to go but up.  It was a time to grow, and grow is what I’ve done.

In March I started a six month temp job where I often worked 50 hours a week.  Even though the job has been stressful and led to some immense weight gain it allowed for me to plant the seeds for a new life.    I have a personal bank account again, I have my own cellphone and account to go with it,and I have the means to replace things I lost to my ex.  I also have the means to streamline more things in my life.

I rarely have a chance to sit in front of my computer due to my job.  This blog and other things suffered for that reason.  I realized recently how much my work on this blog is tied to my devotion to my shrine.  The less time I spent on writing, the less time I had for Het-Hert.  I got tired of that and finally downloaded some apps as a solution.  In providing myself the means to grow financially I realized I neglected other parts of my life.

While I hope this plan will strengthen my religious practice I hope it will strengthen my spiritual and personal growth.  If I’ve learned nothing from my job about myself,  it’s how much I lack in self-confidence.  One way I lack in self-confidence is with the language disorder I have.  It’s part of the reason why it takes so long for me to write.  In dowloading the wordpress app I have to trust in my writing abilities more.  Does that mean I’ll have moments of atrocious grammar, incoherent ideas, or malapropisms more often?  Yes.  All I can do is learn from it.

Trusting in my abilities or my financial growth aren’t the only things growing in my life.  My integrity is growing too.  In devoting myself to only Het-Hert and my personal growth I have strengthened and redrawn my boundaries.  While they aren’t perfect, it provided the strength I needed to stand up to my ex when he thought he could waltz back into my life and demand a Reiki attunement.  It provided me with the strength I needed to distance myself from him when afterwards he messaged me to tell me he had a new girlfriend.  That same strength provided insight and confrmation of my suspicions about his intentions, as well as the means to comfort myself.

The growth has provided much in terms of regeneration.  People who’ve known me for years are seeing the “old me” return.  For me, the old me consists of accomplishing things quickly.  It also meant being able to stand my ground, incredible spiritual insight, a sense of adventure, a desire to create, just to name a few traits.  When I felt pain I sought comfort in Het-Hert and trusted friends like I used to do.  I’ve even considered becoming a priestess for Het-Hert given how I much I feel She’s aided me. 

If the coffee flood was indicative of my previous year based on growth through destruction, then this year will be marked by my determination.  This year when I performed my rituals for Wep Ronpet just about every possible distraction came up, including a thunderstorm .  Not only did this fail to deter me, but I felt the weather complimented my resolve.  Nothing and no one was going to stop me.  It is a sentiment I find pervasive in my life in recent months and continues even now.

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