10 Daily Currents – 05.09.16

It is Monday at 6:18 pm and I am currently…

1. listening: to dad watching the A-Team in the kitchen, the hum of my fan, birds singing outside, traffic on the road, kids’s laughter as they play outside

2. eating: scrambled eggs and sausage with salsa

3. drinking: coffee with cream and stevia

4. wearing: green t-shirt with Save Tibet printed on it, black pedal-pushers

5. feeling: a bit sluggish this evening… this gloomy weather is making me tired, a bit clogged up too. Forgot to take the vitamin C and pantothenic acid (B5) last night and just remembered a few minutes ago

6. weather: warmish, cloudy, gloomy, humid – about 75 degrees

7. wanting: chocolate… will be glad when Friday gets here and I can buy some

8. needing: to do more writing and read some others’ posts

9. thinking: do I  write or watch some mindless nothing on Netflix

10. enjoying: reading some of the A2Z Reflections posts

I had a thought, dear readers… if you’d like to grab these 10 Daily Currents and write your own, link back to my post so I can share along with you!

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A-to-Z Reflections

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]

It’s really hard to believe that another A2Z Challenge has come and gone. I told myself that this year, I would stay on top of things and for the most part, I did. I completed the challenge with not one blog, but two. This was only possible by writing and scheduling posts for one of the blogs ahead of time. What I still found incredibly difficult with this challenge was visiting others’ blogs during the challenge. The volume of participants is enormous. It creates a huge amount of pressure and anxiety, at least it does in me. It is probably the one aspect of the challenge that makes me question whether or not to participate each year.

I must say though that the quality of posts this year has been amazing. I’ve only read a small fraction of the participating blogs, but those I have read so far have blown me away. There are so many gifted bloggers out there and the A2Z brings out the best in them all.

I also learned a few interesting things that I would love to share:

  1. Feedly became an invaluable tool for me. I added nearly every blog that participated in the challenge to it. Hopefully this will enable me to go back after the challenge and read A2Zs without needing to check the sign-up list every day. So if I haven’t visited you yet, please know, you are on my Feedly and I will get around to you eventually!
  2. Using a signature this year improved my chances of visitors to my blog. I use WordPress and Blogger is not all that friendly toward us WordPress users when it comes to allowing us to comment under our WP ids on Blogger accounts. The signature gave me the freedom to just comment and go with minimal fuss. I will admit that sometimes Blogger still frustrated me with the hoops you must jump through to prove you are not a robot. Now along with checking the little box, you have to identify pictures of things. Often the pictures are so small and unidentifiable and it became very frustrating.
  3. One area that I am still quite irritated with though is the lack of Archives, Calendars and even in some cases, no Categories sections on some people’s blogs. This put me off more than anything last year and it is still an issue in some cases this year. I’ve decided that when I go back to visit other blogs this year, that if none of these things are present (which would force me to scroll through months of posts to find the A2Z posts), then I will just not be reading those blogs.
  4. Another minor irritant is that some people have their comments section set to close comments after a certain set time period. They may not even be aware that they have this set as an option, but if they do, then it makes no sense to me. Don’t you want someone say in two months to be able to comment on your post? I know I would. Still, this is a minor thing as I rarely run across it, but when I do, it is irritating.

I am not sure I have many suggestions for the facilitators of this challenge. I think you all do an amazing job hosting this each year. I cannot even begin to imagine all of the planning it must take to put this together and have it run smoothly. I really enjoyed the tips that were posted on the A2Z blog before the challenge and all of the wonderful words of encouragement posted during the challenge. Those made a huge difference for me and really helped me have an enjoyable experience this year.

The only area that I wish there could be improvements made is the category codes. I wish they were mandatory, that if you didn’t include a code, then your blog would be deleted. It would really help to know what ALL of the blogs are categorized as. This way I could direct my attentions say on just hobby related or writing related. I don’t much care for surprises or wasting my time on things I would never have an interest in. Gosh that sounds horrid, but it is honestly how I feel. One thing I was thinking about during the challenge was I wish there were separate sign-ups for each category. I know that would probably cause a lot more work for the facilitators, but it would certainly make things easier for those of us interested in just certain topics. And I wish the categories lined up with the themes of the A2Z and not what the blog itself is all about. Some blogs are so random as to not even have a theme. And well, I guess not everyone does themes either, but those could be in a category titled random or general. The only area I would see a conflict is for blogs that post Adult Content. But I am sure there would be a way to work that out. Like using two codes instead of just one. Anyway, just a thought that I am sure will never be implemented.

Here are a few stats from my A2Z posts:

As the Fates Would Have It

  • Most viewed post: Adele (didn’t really surprise me as it was the first post)
  • Least viewed post: Billy Zane (again, no surprise as it was the last)
  • Most liked post: Buddha
  • Least liked post: W.B. Yeats (huge surprise)
  • Most commented on post: Adele
  • Least commented on post: tie between John Updike and W.B. Yeats (huge surprise too)

Promptly Written

 

  • Most viewed post: Adam 2.0 (not that big a surprise as it was the first)
  • Least viewed post: Signaled (huge surprise as I was prompting a friend’s book that day too)
  • Most liked post: Byal’s Mission
  • Least liked post: Signaled (again, huge surprise)
  • Most commented on post: Centran Awakens
  • Least commented on post: Quiescent No More (this one received ZERO comments. Huge surprise)

Well, that about wraps up my Reflections for this year. I enjoyed the challenge and I look forward to visiting more of the A2Z posts on others’ blogs now that the challenge is over. See you all again next year!

 

 

05.01.16 – End of Day Notes

What I did today: The ‘day’ started at 1 am. I just woke up in the wee hours of the morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. So I decided to do my writing projects. I did manage to complete everything today. I am also attempting to read more of the A2Z blogs that I missed over the April Challenge. Today I read 4 blogs, but only 3 of them completed the challenge.

What I learned today: The following cool stuff from reading those A2Z blogs:

  • JK @ Thoughts & Opinions where he gave us a tour of India for A2Z
  • Keith & Nicki @ ‘Til the Butter Melts discusses their upcoming sailing trip from Maine to Florida this summer and all the prep work it takes
  • Annette @ Annette’s Place explored mythological creatures for her A2Z. I learned some myths I’d never heard of through these posts!

What I am most proud of today: I am getting back into my regular routines. April was a mess of a month.

What did you do today, dear readers? Learn any lessons? Have a reason to be proud? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!

A2Z Wrap-Up

I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who has joined me throughout April for these Inspiring posts. Your comments have enriched my life and often given me moments of pause and consideration. If you missed any of my posts or just want to read them again, they can be found HERE

I have enjoyed making rounds and have visited some amazing blogs this month. For those I have not visited yet, I will still try to get around to all of you during the upcoming Road Trip.

In case you are curious, here are some other People Who Inspire Me that didn’t make the cut for the A2Z this year, mainly because there were others more important. These are also important, but not nearly as much as those I posted about. I had considered doubling up a few of these, but eventually decided against it. These are not in any particular order:

  1. Richard Gere
  2. Gertrude Stein
  3. Kim Stanley Robinson
  4. Orson Scott Card
  5. Linkin Park
  6. Neil Diamond
  7. k.d. lang
  8. Pema Chodron
  9. Neil Gaiman
  10. Audrey Hepburn
  11. John Lennon
  12. Mary Oliver
  13. Michelle Obama
  14. Ernest Hemingway
  15. Oscar Wilde

There are many, many others. Way too many to mention. As my list continues to grow, perhaps I will do inspiring people again next year for the A2Z. Thank you all again for joining me.

Love & Blessings
Lori

 

#atozchallenge – Billy Zane Inspires Me

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zane_bztchThere are a lot of actors who inspire me (Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Eric Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden and Ingrid Bergman, just to name a few), but there is one actor who doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his versatile and often dramatic acting and that is Billy Zane. Not only is he easy on the eyes (omg, but he is!), but he can step into any role, be it a villain, a romantic lead or a classical character. He usually plays over the top roles and adds his own dramatic flare to them. The first time I laid eyes on him was in the Back to the Future movies. I was spell-bound! Who was this gorgeous man and would he marry me? *laughs* And then I started seeing him not so much from his physical appearance and began paying attention to his acting style. I was blown away by his role in Dead Calm, as Hughie Warriner . Although he played a crazed psycho, I kept thinking to myself if I were to ever be kidnapped, I would want it to be by him (Zane and Warriner!). The next role that I saw him in was in Titanic. While most people’s eyes were on Leonardo DiCaprio, mine were on Billy Zane. His role as Cal Hockley was devious and so well done. He really does have the villain down to a science. I’ve seen in him in dozens of movies and television shows (remember him in Twin Peaks? awesome!) but the one television role that I enjoyed the most was as Drake, the ex-demon, on Charmed. What fun it must have been to play that role. If you haven’t seen him in it, he played a teacher at the magic school and had quite the dramatic flare, reading poetry and acting like a classic Shakespearean actor. Brilliant!

And because you can never get too much of Billy Zane….

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So what is it about this great actor that inspires me so much? His versatility, his charm, and his ability to get into a psychological mindset to play the roles he has. Any time I write a villain, you can bet there are Zane qualities in there.

Here are a few quotes of his:

And a few videos:

You may want to turn the volume down on this one. The background music is insanely loud:

And keep it down for this one too:

Interesting Facts: Billy Zane is of Greek descent and his family name is actually Zanetakos, but his father anglicized it to Zane when they came to the US. In November 2010, he was awarded an honorary degree from Lium University, Bellinzona, Switzerland, for his contribution to cinematography. He is the chairman of the Francesco Fucilla Film production company 21st Century Filmworks. Zane has starred in 98 films and comprised 35 television roles. (source)


 

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Thank you for joining me for the A-to-Z Challenge. If you’d like to see who else is participating, check them out here.
Each day (except Sundays) I have shared with you The People Who Inspire Me.

#atozchallenge – W.B. Yeats Inspires Me

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William_Butler_Yeats_by_George_Charles_BeresfordMost people who know me well, know that I am not sentimental or overly romantic. So when I tell you that I love a romantic poet, you can bet there is something else about his work that I also love – the dark undertones, the mournful, melancholy themes. That poet is the Irish poet, W.B. Yeats. I remember clearly (something not so common with me) the day in High School when we were reading some of his work. I was 16, a senior and in my English Literature class. My teacher loved Yeats and told us that his work wasn’t normally discussed in HS English Lit classes because he is an Irish poet. Although he was included in the textbook, most teachers just passed his work by or only assigned one poem to be read. That didn’t set too well with me because I am an Irish American. So of course, I had to read more than just the assigned poems, of which, we read three in class. Here is the first poem of his that I ever read:

O Do Not Love Too Long

SWEETHEART, do not love too long:
I loved long and long,
And grew to be out of fashion
Like an old song.
All through the years of our youth
Neither could have known
Their own thought from the other’s,
We were so much at one.
But O, in a minute she changed –
O do not love too long,
Or you will grow out of fashion
Like an old song.

~W.B. Yeats

Notice the mournful, melancholic undertones in that piece. That is what drew me to his work initially, but his use of symbolism is what kept me reading him. He chose symbols that had many meanings, so that what when reading him, you get various interpretations. He also used a lot of Irish mythology in his work. He mostly wrote in classic forms, but did write some free-style pieces. In the following poem, written in his latter days, he uses a symbol that I use a lot in my own poetry – bones. It is a classic form called ottava rima and consists of 3 parts.  This is probably my favorite of his poems.

The Circus Animals’ Desertion

I

I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last being but a broken man
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.

II

What can I but enumerate old themes,
First that sea-rider Oisin led by the nose
Through three enchanted islands, allegorical dreams,
Vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose,
Themes of the embittered heart, or so it seems,
That might adorn old songs or courtly shows;
But what cared I that set him on to ride,
I, starved for the bosom of his fairy bride.

And then a counter-truth filled out its play,
`The Countess Cathleen’ was the name I gave it,
She, pity-crazed, had given her soul away
But masterful Heaven had intervened to save it.
I thought my dear must her own soul destroy
So did fanaticism and hate enslave it,
And this brought forth a dream and soon enough
This dream itself had all my thought and love.

And when the Fool and Blind Man stole the bread
Cuchulain fought the ungovernable sea;
Heart mysteries there, and yet when all is said
It was the dream itself enchanted me:
Character isolated by a deed
To engross the present and dominate memory.
Players and painted stage took all my love
And not those things that they were emblems of.

III

Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

~W.B. Yeats

If you are curious about what others have thought of that poem, you can read what some critics have said about it here. Personally, I think Yeats was reflecting back not only on his poetry, but his life in general. I think the Circus Animals represents his old age. *sighs* his language is just so gorgeous and those themes and symbols! So much in his work has inspired my own writing – themes, symbolism, the dark undertones, melancholy and mournfulness, and yes, even the romanticism. If you want to read more of his poetry, check some of them out here (you will also note that he wrote fiction, non-fiction and plays!).

Here are some of my favorite Yeats quotes:

Interesting Facts: Yeats was an Irish Nationalist and desired a free Ireland. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first Irishman to do so. His muse was Maud Gonne, to whom he proposed marriage to four times, but was rejected all four times. Yeats loved mythology, mysticism, spiritualism, occultism and astrology. He was the driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and founded the Abbey Theater where his plays were produced. Yeats died in 1939 in Menton, France and was buried at Roquebbrune-Cap-Martin. Later his body was removed and buried in Drumcliff, Ireland.

His epitaph is taken from the last lines of “Under Ben Bulben”, one of his final poems:

Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by!

(these facts have been taken from this source)


 

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]
Thank you for joining me for the A-to-Z Challenge. If you’d like to see who else is participating, check them out here.
Each day, I will be posting about People Who Inspire Me.

 

#atozchallenge – Malcolm X Inspires Me

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mystery15n-11-webBack in the 80s when I was doing a lot of research on the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, I disregarded on important figure of those times because I thought he was too militant. I am referring to Malcolm X. It wouldn’t be until I was in college that I began taking a closer look at him and his movement. I had joined a feminist club and there was an older woman in it (she was also studying at Hollins under the adult program) who had known Malcolm X and she began telling us stories about him. Her words have stuck with me all through my life. She said, “He was never racist. He never wanted war. He wanted a world where everyone lived peacefully regardless of skin color. But he was willing to fight and die for it if necessary.” Those are almost the exact same words he is known for. As a life-long pacifist, I found it hard to understand fighting of any kind, but then I am white and have never lived under oppression. I began to put myself in his shoes. While I still believe I would have gone the route that Martin Luther King, Jr. took, I can definitely see why some would go in the opposite direction. What inspires me so much about him is that he stood by his convictions. He approached the Civil Rights Movement from an intellectual perspective, realizing that integration would probably not work and that separation was the only way for blacks. While I don’t believe that stance was a correct one, I honestly believe that he genuinely cared about the plight of blacks in America.

Here are some of my favorite Malcolm X quotes:

Here are some wonderful videos of his speeches, interviews and a biography:


Want another opinion on Malcolm X? Check out this well-written post by JD Holmes on Why Malcolm X Matters


Interesting Facts: By March 1964, Malcolm X had grown disillusioned with the Nation of Islam and its leader Elijah Muhammad. Expressing many regrets about his time with them, which he had come to regard as largely wasted, he embraced Sunni Islam. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, which included completing the Hajj, he repudiated the Nation of Islam, disavowed racism and founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. He continued to emphasize Pan-Africanism, black self-determination, and black self-defense. In February 1965, he was assassinated by three members of the Nation of Islam. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, published shortly after his death, is considered one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century. (source)


 

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]
Thank you for joining me for the A-to-Z Challenge. If you’d like to see who else is participating, check them out here.
Each day, I will be posting about People Who Inspire Me.

 

#atozchallenge – William Goyen Inspires Me

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william-goyenI wasn’t introduced to William Goyen until college. I wasn’t overly impressed with the cover of the book I was handed by my professor. It had a blue background with merely a white wooden house on the cover. What did impress me was the title, The House of Breath. The thought of a house breathing intrigued me. As I began to read that book, I was in awe of the beautiful way it was written, like poetry with its rich imagery and repetitive style. It’s themes include home and family, place, time, sexuality, isolation, and memory. The house and the river are not mere objects in this book, but they are characters themselves. It is the one book I have read more than 10 times. I make it a point to read it once a year. It is also my most well-worn book. I’ve had to tape the cover back on several times over the years. I’ve read his other works, which include four other novels, two non-fiction books, his book of poetry, and his collection of short stories. Although all of them are good reads, none of them inspired me as much as The House of Breath. William Goyen’s writing style – stream of consciousness flow, descriptive nature, and repetition, has greatly influenced my own writing. 

Here are just a couple of quotes from the book:

“I wanted to put my hand on this hand and hold it still under mine, made still by his made still. Oh he was bright and I was dark and I gave him all my darkness on that ship; but we joined, for all good things in the world, and to find somethin together; and loved, I never knew I could do it and was afraid; and on the bow of the ship that night that he said, “What have we done Christy?”
I said, wonderin too, “But somethin good will come of this, I know somethin good will come of this…”
Only sorrow came.”
― William Goyen, The House of Breath

“In summer the rich pond water was a vat of ripe simmering fruit, of varnish color: golden in the sun, holding like a rich syrup all the stock and plankton of the woods: loam-wealth, growth richness, leaf and sap goodness, the potlikker of the secret woods—all untouched and rare and gamy. There lolled fat, torpid, safe fish, bobbling languorously over in the thick piny syrup, bubbling their rubbery globules, like plump ripe fruit in their juices.”
― William Goyen, The House of Breath

And here is a poem that I wrote based on a scene in the book:


Through the Window

In the hottest summer’s day
you never opened
the shutters, kept us closed
off from the world

I took my chance to escape
The circus came:
clown and lions and her
Emerald eyes laughed
behind the made-up mask. I beheld
the world through those jeweled eyes
riches beyond the window you wouldn’t gaze
through. And you
you descended into madness
unsure of the day, the hour
the moment I fled
still sure that you heard
my footsteps, my shallow cry
from the well shaft

Now, Mother, your skin is wilted, ashen
your eyes are sunken, deranged
and your hair is sallow, matted
Look, Mother. Look through the window!
That’s where you will find me

© 2011 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.


Interesting Facts: In 1963, Goyen married Doris Roberts, the actress perhaps best known for her work in Everybody Loves Raymond; they remained together until his death in 1983. His style has been compared to Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, and Gabriel García Márquez. (source)


 

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]
Thank you for joining me for the A-to-Z Challenge. If you’d like to see who else is participating, check them out here.
Each day, I will be posting about People Who Inspire Me.

 

#atozchallenge – Virginia Woolf Inspires Me

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NPG P440; Virginia Woolf (nÈe Stephen) by GisËle FreundI have a confession to make. I’ve always loved melancholy writers. I am drawn to them because of my own mental illness and melancholy ways. Such is the case with Virginia Woolf. I was around 11 when I first read Mrs. Dalloway (another book my mother had to sign at the Library for me to read!). I was drawn to those opening words, “Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” I was intrigued as to why she would buy them herself. What were they for? But it wasn’t just the words she wrote, it was how she wrote. Her book was the first introduction I would have to stream of consciousness writing. I was also intrigued by the themes of feminism, mental illness and homosexuality. I was just beginning to realize that I was not an average young woman sexually and already suffering from bouts of depression. I wouldn’t read To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own, and Orlando until much later, during college. By then, I understood my sexual preference (bisexual), was well acquainted with my own mental illness, and was a feminist. Her works took on an even greater role in my life as inspiration while I experimented more with my own writing. Without her influence, I would have struggled with who I was as a woman and would never have discovered the flow and rhythm of stream of consciousness.

Here are some of my favorite quotes by Virginia Woolf:

Here is a reading of the suicide letter that she left for her husband Leonard:

And a biography of her:

Interesting Facts: Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals. She wrote Orlando for her lover, Vita Sackville-West. Woolf committed suicide by drowning in 1941 at the age of 59. (source)


 

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]
Thank you for joining me for the A-to-Z Challenge. If you’d like to see who else is participating, check them out here.
Each day, I will be posting about People Who Inspire Me.

#atozchallenge – John Updike Inspires Me

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JOHN UPDIKE

As a young teenager, I was quite a curious reader and if I was told not to read someone, I generally disregarded the warning and read them anyway. Such was the issue with John Updike. I was told that his themes of death and sex were unsuitable for a 13 year old. I remember the school librarian telling me, “You are too young to understand such things.” I laugh at that notion now because I had already read War and Peace by that age and was told the same thing about it. So, as that curious young reader, I did the opposite and I read him and read him and read him. His Rabbit series was my first taste of his writing, which I continued to read up until the last one was published in 1990. I also read The Witches of Eastwick around 1984 and The Widows of Eastwick in 2008. Over the years, I have probably devoured around 15 of his novels, two of his poetry books and even a few of his non-fiction works. What inspires me the most about Updike’s writing is that he speaks to the everyman with his topics of morality, mortality, religion, death and sex. And as my old High School English teacher would say, he “knows how to you use his words.”

In the introduction to Picked-Up Pieces, his 1975 collection of prose, I learned how to read and understand a writer’s intentions (and how to write amazing book reports!). He listed his personal rules for literary criticism:

1. Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt.

2. Give enough direct quotation—at least one extended passage—of the book’s prose so the review’s reader can form his own impression, can get his own taste.

3. Confirm your description of the book with quotation from the book, if only phrase-long, rather than proceeding by fuzzy précis.

4. Go easy on plot summary, and do not give away the ending.

5. If the book is judged deficient, cite a successful example along the same lines, from the author’s œuvre or elsewhere. Try to understand the failure. Sure it’s his and not yours?

To these concrete five might be added a vaguer sixth, having to do with maintaining a chemical purity in the reaction between product and appraiser. Do not accept for review a book you are predisposed to dislike, or committed by friendship to like. Do not imagine yourself a caretaker of any tradition, an enforcer of any party standards, a warrior in any ideological battle, a corrections officer of any kind. Never, never … try to put the author “in his place,” making of him a pawn in a contest with other reviewers. Review the book, not the reputation. Submit to whatever spell, weak or strong, is being cast. Better to praise and share than blame and ban. The communion between reviewer and his public is based upon the presumption of certain possible joys of reading, and all our discriminations should curve toward that end.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes by John Updike:

And here are a couple of videos of John Updike via Youtube:

Interesting Facts: John Updike was awarded 30 awards from 1959 thru 2008, including two Pulitzer Prize for Fiction awards. Politically, he was a life-long Democrat.

For a complete list of his works, go here


 

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]
Thank you for joining me for the A-to-Z Challenge. If you’d like to see who else is participating, check them out here.
Each day, I will be posting about People Who Inspire Me.