It’s Easter Weekend, I’m poor, and I’ve got too much time…. What now?

Well, I’ve now got four days of free time on my hands (other than going to church and the like) and in here lies the question: what should I do with my free time? Most of my friends have gone home, there are no classes to go to, and although there’s homework, there are no deadlines pressing enough to force me to do it.

So I’ve comprised this list to help me, and you, if you’re in the same predicament I’m in, to help you spend your free time without feeling like you’re wasting it and without spending too much money. As much as I’d love to say I could just read books for four days straight, not everyone can do that (and neither can I. Well, I could, but where’s the fun in that?).

So here it is:

  • Take a walk
    • That’s right. Take a walk. Even after you’ve gone to the gym and sweated your butt off, go take a walk. For me, it helps me cultivate ideas, and since the weather’s FINALLY warm enough where I’m at, it’s the time to take a walk.
  • Call someone you haven’t seen or heard from in a while.
    • Call some high school friends, or middle school friends, or just that neighbor that moved away all those years ago. Doesn’t matter. Could be someone you held a grudge on. Could be your childhood sweetheart. Could be your crazy uncle who raves on about laundry. Who cares who. Just call them.
  • Start on a Project you’ve been holding off on.
    • If you’re a procrastinator like me, then you’ve probably got some things that you’ve left to simmer in the back of your mental closet. If you’ve got free time, take it off the back burner and just START it. Starting it is the best way to not procrastinate. Go clean out your yard, plant those flowers, or write that novel you’ve always wanted to write.
  • Try a new restaurant
    • Basically, if you’ve got time to burn, then try something new. You might find something, or you might not.
  • Do some errands
    • I know, boring, right? But do these first if you can, and then do fun things later. Leaving errands off to times when you’re busy can end badly.
  • Do your homework
    • Great. More boring things. But if you do have an essay that you could be starting, do it now. Don’t let it be the monster that rears its ugly head right after you’ve enjoyed your Easter dinner.
  • Go to church
    • I did say that this list was to fulfill meaningful tasks, right? Well, here’s your main mission. Go to an Easter service. Chocolate and bunnies are nice and all, but they’re not the real reason for the holiday.
  • Do something you’ve wanted to do.
    • Wanted to take a class for a while? Do it. Wanted to learn something new? Find someone who can teach you. Go paint a picture, watch a TV show, whatever. Find your list of suggestions given by friends for shows that you haven’t started yet and at least knock a few of them out.
  • Go to the mall
    • You don’t have to buy anything. Just look. Be the annoying customer that looks at stuff and doesn’t buy anything. Sure, it’s awkward having to deal with over-friendly store clerks. But ignore them. (Or an alternative: kick them and run. Although violent, it’s effective.)
  • And finally, read a book.
    • Sure, this isn’t something you should do your entire weekend, but still take it into consideration. Books are wonderful. Maybe visit Barnes and Noble or BAM and get a latte while reading. It’s still meaningful, calming, and stories always teach you something.

       

    I know, life can be hard when there’s just so much time, and so little to do. But do not fret! This list can help it pass right by. I think. If you look at it hard enough.

     

    See you next week!

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LL Back to School Edition: How to get your act together

If you were to peer into my room right now, you wouldn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that I’m not a fan of ‘tidying up’ as they say. A more accurate representation for my living bode would be…. A hurricane caught a cold in my room and started sneezing out clothes, art supplies, my college dorm stuff and books. I can never find anything in here, nevertheless walk comfortably through it. I probably spend an hour each week just trying to locate something I happen to need. It’s annoying, but the truth is: I’m just plain unorganized.


    If I translate that same problem to schoolwork, it means problems with grades, problems with finding homework, resulting in hair-ripping frustration. I’m already a terrible procrastinator in the first place, why would I need disorganization to throw a wrench into my already lazy lifestyle? That’s why, as the little materialist here, what I need is more stuff to fix my ‘clutteriness’, as I will now deem it.

    The easiest way to help a disorganized lazy person, like me, to fix his or her ‘clutteriness’ and actually be able to find stuff is to compound as much things as possible, into one (preferably large) place.

    What I mean is, when you’re disorganized, it’s so easy to lose things. It’s as if your brain was carrying a suitcase of memories of where you put your things, and then suddenly, when you need something, the brain hurriedly throws that memory away so your moving socks can go hide it somewhere else. You know for a fact you usually put this one thing there, but then it isn’t there. Us daydreaming human beings tend to have a cluster of ‘usual’ places we put things, for example keys. My mother love to either put them in the kitchen, or on the counter, or someplace like that. However, there’s always going to be one of those days when she leaves it in the bathroom instead, and WALAH, suddenly she’s running out of time and she can’t drive until she finds those keys.

    This used to happen to my homework when I would just stick the paper into my notebooks, or my backpack, where it would get crumpled and lost, which resulted in the ruination my day. That’s why I recommend getting something like a file folder for disorganized peeps.


    In high school I used my file folder for every subject; I would put every handout, every piece of homework into this ONE PLACE. A file folder is not as easy to lose as a bunch of random papers. Plus, it can look SUPER COOL if you’re kid’s artsy like me, and the file folder is blank and there’s a pack of sharpies at their disposal. I tell you, there are endless possibilities, even with black file folders, because there are such things as metallic sharpies.

    A file folder wins because even if it can get heavy, it can hold many subjects, and it can come to school with you. I recommend it 100%.

    My second recommendation includes two items, a planner and highlighters, and here’s why I like them.

    I honestly don’t like planners very much, I don’t like recording the exact homework assignment every day because I’m a lazy butt sometimes, but here’s the idea: You don’t have to record the whole assignment. This is where the highlighters step in.

    Assign each subject a highlighter, then, with each day, if there’s an upcoming homework assignment, make a little mark in the planner that day so when you check it later, you know to check your syllabus if you’re a college student. If we’re talking about high school or younger, you may need to write down what you have to do. You might still want highlighters though to make it look cool and colorful, if you’re into that.

    Other supplies that help the disorganized: pencil cases, multiple subject notebooks, a sturdy backpack they **LIKE**, multiple colorful pens for the different subjects, and one more thing.

    A Folder for home.

    This folder might include past worksheets and syllabi; it might hold papers for projects and other important things. It’ll be a little work-base at the home. The key thing needed to have this utensil become useful? Have someone else be in charge of it.

    For example, if it’s a project folder, with the papers with all the different information on how to do it, then you’re going to want to have someone OTHER than the disorganized person watching it. This might even be necessary for the file folder as well, because you can’t trust us disorganized people to remember it ourselves all the time. That’s why planners are nice because even if memory fails, the planners REMEMBERS. Let someone else be the elephant that never forgets the important home folder. Then they can be the little nag they’ve always wanted to be they can boss the disorganized person around.

    Remember though, be sympathetic to the disorganized person, it’s not entirely their fault that their brain just can’t keep the clutteriness away. That’s why there is the J and P difference in the Myer’s Briggs personality test. The truth is, not everyone can be super organized. The real test is patience of the J’s for us P’s.

    Trust me on this one folks, you need a LOT of patience for people like us.

    Hope this helps you disorganized peeps or the parents of disorganized students. I hope the school year treats you well. See you next week!

    

Finding your vocation and eating it for breakfast.

“This is a gift I have, simple, simple; a foolish extravagant spirit, full of forms, figures, shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions, revolutions… But the gift of good in those in whom it is acute, and I am thankful for it.”

                                    -William Shakespeare

I want to celebrate that I am a writer today.

Writing is the dream I held onto the longest. On that day, when the fleeting thought transformed into a dream, writing became what spurs me onto another day, an imaginative life, an expansive world. It is something I feel my God pushed me head-first into, although I haven’t a clue what I’ll find on the opposite side of the mountain.

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.”

    -Edwin Land

Before I knew myself as a writer, my future was hazy, my dreams scattered across the heavens and entangled in the ethereal. It was a scary thing, trying to recall the names of constellations when I’d never seen the stars that made them up.

But the beautiful thing about stars is that they’re beauty does not need constellations to make the sky any more beautiful. They shine on their own.

The reason why I celebrate writing is because it makes me feel free, wonderful and that I am made up of beautiful things. I am more than dust or dirt, I am a writer. I know God wants me to feel that way.

Writing is a gift that was given to me.

A career counselor came to my English class one day, and showed us a video on finding our vocation, which my college has a definition for.

Their definition of vocation is: where your passions and the world’s need meet.

The man in the video spoke about finding the activity in which sparks inspiration and happiness. All one needs to do to find it is to think of what part of the day that flies by the fastest. When do you feel the best about yourself? When does it feel the world is right for a moment?

“While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die – whether it is our spirit, our creativity or our glorious uniqueness.”

    Gilda Radner


That is what writing is to me.

I’m glad for dreams; glad to see children with their hands reaching towards the sky, a fraying red towel tied around their neck. I’m glad to hear my friends taking courses in the interest of achieving their goals, and starting to take their first steps up the ladder. Having a dream is the first of many stepping stone to discovering a vocation. Finding the rest of the path is up to you. The stepping stones are there, although you may have to wait until the tide lowers.

Celebrate your wonderful, creative self. God gave it to you for a reason. Now enjoy it.

See you next week!

Get rid of ‘Should-Have’s’, and pick up not not habits.

    One of the most annoying devices that are inevitably, painfully installed into every human’s heads is the little guilt monger. He says things like ‘oh, you should be doing the chores little missy’, and ‘oh, you just totally embarrassed yourself in front of that person’, and he comments on every other little thing that makes us want to hide in a corner or bury themselves. Probably, right now, your inner Grammar Nazi is telling you that my title is a misspelling, and though Microsoft Word would agree with you, shut that little bugger away and listen to me.

    First of all, human beings are flawed to some extent. You’re going to make mistakes. You’ll feel guilty for them. I can’t get rid of that part of you, nor will this advice make it entirely go away. Although we hate to admit it, sometimes we fall into moments of desire, and end up with our head in our arms, bags under our eyes, with a brain that feels like a stone was painfully inserted through your skull and the doctor sucked at stitching it up. It happens. In all honesty, writing has been really hard this week. As much as I love to do it, it feels like I’m dragging a ball and chain to my desk, and that none of my ideas will work because I was so distracted that my brain isn’t functioning properly, and I feel like a failure, and the cycle repeats.

    Trying to achieve something without a schedule will only lead to any habit dying out. It’s hard to become tied to anything that doesn’t have a set time or place. We tend to put it off, bury it into the back of our minds, until the opportunity is gone. Procrastination is certainly a habit of mine. It happens everyday. I’ll write TOMORROW. I loved a shirt that said ‘Procrastinators unite!…. Tomorrow’ for the truth it has. Habits can be blessings and demons in disguise.

    Though, that’s just a habit, am I right? What about a not not habit?

    A not not habit is similar to a habit, but it’s more of a promise to yourself. Instead of trying to beat yourself into submission, and tying yourself down to a chair to get something done, it’s a sort of compromise to yourself. What I mean is, instead of telling myself ‘I should be writing’, I promise myself to not not write. It’s a double negative for a reason. I promise to not not write before I go to sleep. Although I go to bed at different times, as long as I write before bed, I’ve kept this promise to myself, even though my muse certainly is not with me every night. But if I can make this promise a habit, it’s not me just beating myself into something, and it’s not an activity I’ll grow hating because I must do it. It will be something I can smile back on because I fulfilled a promise. Habits should not be little things charged by the little man squirting guilt into your veins. Not not Habits, I think, are kind of refreshing for that very reason, because instead of thinking I’m some failure when I haven’t done something, it rewards me when I keep it up.

    Habits should be agreements with one’s self, a contract to be signed, sure, but one that won’t cause more guilt. There was a reason why a person I loved very well did not choose music as her career for the simple fact she did not want to hate music in her life by forcing it to become what made her money for her. Some things out there are good for us, as much as we may hate them. However, if we continue to believe it’s some chore and put it off until it’s too late. One can start hating things that are a necessary part of your life.

    I dislike hating things I need. It gives the guilt monger even more reason to start talking. Don’t let him talk too much. Not for things you need to do. There’s already too much stress in this day and age anyway. Think of your habits as agreements, as a reward when accomplished, more than something you ‘should be doing’.

    Put the ‘should have’s’ away already. I will not not take care of myself anymore. You should too.

    See you next week!

How Fire Emblem teaches you to choose your friends

BEFORE I BEGIN THIS POST: youve got till tomorrow EVENING! 11:59 pm EST to share, post it on this blog, and have a chance to win two FREE books: Drawing in the Dust and The Shamans Crossing! If youre interested in free stuff (plus free shipping inside the US) then just share anywhere and show where you shared by posting on any of my posts/my facebook!

    For those of you that don’t know Fire Emblem, allow me to give a brief explanation. It’s a strategy game, sort of like chess, except you have characters with names and faces, and they don’t necessarily die in one hit, like the pieces in Chess do. These faces, of course, include generals, mages, clerics, knights, halberdiers, etc. I’ve been currently playing a lot of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, which has loads of different parts where you’re fighting Civil Wars, wars for revenge, and other such battles, all in a continent named Tellius. I definitely recommend this game, although, I suggest that you play its predecessor, Path of Radiance, before playing this game, because there are some references to the past game that might frustrate you, if not knowing things frustrates you.

    The premise of this post is to connect the unreal to the real. Video games are not simply torture weapons for the brain, which will cause your kids to go nutso. If you step into the video game realm with somewhat of a rational mind, you can actually learn from them. The people who develop video games probably never thought to themselves ‘oh, this will definitely make the children of today become shut-ins and cause them to develop violent tendencies’. They put in a lot of thought into it, and you can milk their thoughts and nourish your life.

    The reason why I use Fire Emblem as my example is because it is a fun strategy game, which has really good lessons to teach, if your imagination allows.

  1. All of your friends are important, but play on their strengths.


    A healer who does not have much physical strength is not going to scratch a full-armored general, because that’s not what they’re designed to do. However, someone who’s fast and strong will be the one to pick him off. However, a general can’t really heal anybody, and usually can’t hit archers, etc. This might be going over some people’s heads, but that’s okay, I’m getting to real life examples.

    Your friends are the same way. Some of them are going to be the ones who use their phones and text you all the time. Some of them are party people, some of them are introverts that go at their own pace. If you choose to be with them, then they will bring a different side of you, good or bad. The key is to find the people/units who will bring out the best in you, in your best and worst moments. Not everyone will be perfect for you all the time, sometimes you have to wait for someone to get hurt for the healer to come out, and etc.

  2. Some of your friends will be bad for you. And will always be bad.

    In Fire Emblem, the way units become stronger is that when their levels go up, their stats go up, for example, their strength, speed, magic, defense and some others. As you go on through the game, they get stronger and stronger, to match the units that grow in level with them. However, each unit has a generated amount of stats they get. Some units will never be good for the battle their fighting, no matter how much you train them. Inevitably, there are better, stronger units, who will not die on you quickly, that you could choose. In a game, it’s easier to tell who they are, because you can use the internet to investigate this. In real life, use your observation.

    The fact of the matter is, there are going to be people who are not suited for you. I’m not saying you should ditch someone because they fail your expectations in the beginning, but you have to know when someone is never going to be much of a friend to you. It’s the same in Fire Emblem, when you watch the unit grow, you can see how that unit is growing, and they can be some help to you. In all honesty, when dealing with real people, you can’t just exclude them immediately, as long as they’re there, they could be just what you need for some specific situation, like information or someone to hug when you need it. However, keeping someone who’s just going to ‘die’ out in your battlefield is not something that’s healthy. Then you spend all your resources trying to keep them from being completely destroyed, but in the end, that could destroy you.

  3. If you dont strengthen your connection, the time you need them most, they wont be strong enough to handle it.

    You’ve read the internet pages, you know this unit is good for fighting generals, and is a good unit overall, but you forgot to train them. Just when you needed someone to take care of that general over there, this unit can’t do enough to end it. Instead, they’re so weak the general takes them down when he attacks back. Now, there’s no one to defeat the general, and you have to keep this unit away until someone else can take care of it. This could also mean lost opportunities, and lost chances to have that unit grow.

    Same for real life. Although, it will never be as obvious as watching a unit die in a game, it is still true. We may never know if that neighbor could have been the girl who would sacrifice her time to come comfort you when you’re stuffing ice cream down your throat. The most frustrating thing is… you’ll never know. It might have been.

  4. There is no reset button.

    Need I explain? Fire Emblem can be reset. It just reminds me that I can’t reset broken relationship even more.

    What is most important in relationships though, is dedication. Your units, your friends, will be right up for the challenge of being with you, and your ups and downs. And of course, when your friend’s biorhythm is down, you’ll be ready for the challenge. What’s most important is that you have friends though. It can be a small mercenary group, or an army. Either way, your friends are important, remember that!

See you next week!

On Writing a Novel: 3 Reasons why you CAN write (AND a book giveaway!)

    “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

        -Toni Morrison

    I’ve often told my teachers that the time I chose to be a writer was during High School, when I chose to take a Creative Writing course from a nearby occupational-school. That somehow, I miraculously found my love of writing when words began sprouting from blank pieces of paper, and that the white walls, table and white people in this classroom sowed the seed of passion and desire to become a writer. Perhaps it was the words of Stephen King, in his book On Writing, which shoved this thought into my head, and stirred it into a riot, now prancing in my mind like a stampede of angry bull. Maybe I was just thrilled I could create something.

    In all honesty, I don’t really know.

    I do not have the same inspiring story as the budding writer Stephen King. I did not end up selling things I wrote in school for pocket change. I never came up to my mother with my stories and bathed myself in praise. In fact, the extent of my writing career was my Diary back in elementary school. Now, I often flip through the pages, picking fun at my horrible grammar and scraggle drawings that I would include with each entry. Back then, all I would seem to worry about was whether I would get the extra Friday Recess in the rare occasion I was able to complete all my assignments that week in school. The funny thing was, I was never in it for the extra recess, apparently, back then, I was more interested in those old Bionicle toys. I was particularly interested in these villain type characters that could roll into a ball.

    I know nothing of the Bionicle storyline, and I never did. I think my interest sparked from when I used to play with a neighborhood kid who had the same type. When I was playing on my own, I would love to give the different colors different personalities, the angry one being the red one, the nicest one being the blue one, etc., and they would often go to bed just so I could tuck their webbed arms and army-tank-tread feet against their bodies. In all reality, as a child, I role-played more than I wrote.

    This does not mean that I never wrote stories, though it took me a while to even start. It wasn’t until my melodramatic tween middle school years that stories began to unfold in my school notebooks. I remember there was one about a purple girl, one store I made into a comic about a princess who is engaged to a man who apparently had 3 kids and had never told her, and blah blah blah. In general though, these children stayed in my notebook. It wasn’t like I wasn’t proud of them, but I never had any need to share them, they were MY stories.

    I think you get my point, yes? If I was ever considered a writer when I was young, I was a closet writer.

    I bet there are a lot of writers out there who could tell me the same thing. I doubt all of us had this undying desire to write and share it with the world when we were still playing with Furbies and Barbies. Does that mean you aren’t cut out to be a writer? Not at all! Writing is certainly a daunting task, but never impossible. Don’t believe me? Here is 3 reasons why I think YOU can write a novel.

“Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do.” Benjamin Spock

    There are a million reasons not to write, and we all inwardly groan whenever our friends so KINDLY remind us of how unlikely this vocation is. This takes me back to my senior night in high school, when I proudly strode onto the stage while my band teacher announced my intended major: English Writing. I wanted to revel in the moment, and I remember looking into the crowd, self-conscious, of course, but proud that I knew what I wanted to do. Then, the senior next to me, a music major, turned to my direction and whispered “Get ready for no-money, because there’s none of it out there for people like us.”

    I remember steaming because of that kid, even if he was a friend of mine. I had chosen this major because I wanted to, and I knew right then and there he was underestimating me. I would show him!

    I say the same thing with you. If you know in your heart that you want to be a writer, trust yourself. Trust God. He placed the thought, the desire, and this love in you for a reason. No one would be pursuing this career if it were simply for the money and the fame. We would not be taking the hard way if that was our true goal. Even if the path is an unsure one, trust your instincts, your gut, you know more than you think.

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” Phillip Pullman

    Stories are a fundamental part of life, they brings conversations to life, rekindle smoky memories and bring light into the eyes of children. An example of this was when I used to babysit this spunky kid who would drag me around everywhere. Being the boring adult I was, I didn’t want to go everywhere, so I decided to drag the kid to his room, and began to tell superhero stories. It was hook, line and sinker. Our original hero, ‘Green Boy’ turned into ‘Pink Girl’ and ‘Black Boy’ and I would weave stories of the multi-colored heroes, and keep him interested for at least half an hour. Enough time for me to sit down and refill my play-meter.

    Stories are powerful things. Whether it’s reading before bedtime or keeping a monster boy at bay, stories are often something that can be our best friend. You know the best part of it all? We all have a story inside of us. Human beings may share 99% of our DNA with everyone else, but we sure do not share the same memories, sometimes we don’t even recollect the memories we shared with friends who were at the same event. No matter where you’re coming from, you have loads of stories and characters stocked up in that head of yours.

“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.” Neil Gaiman

    One of my favorite writing moments is when I feel like material is pouring out of me. Both time and words fly together and a wonderful harmony of feeling useful and artistic sprouts from within me. Sure, there will be bad days, and that blank screen may seem like the monster under the bed sometimes, uncertain and considerably ugly. However, if you’ve ever been in a working relationship, you probably know this: there will always be ups and downs, but in the end, it will be worth it.

    Writing is going to be like your lover. It will court you, cook you a fancy dinner with scented candles, sweep you off your feet and kiss you passionately. It will go on trips, and stow away its possessions in suitcases if you neglect it, and will hate you if you mistreat it. It will fart and burp and gross you out, and then, when you’re trying to raise the kids, sometimes it’s going to make you go quiet the baby in the middle of the night, even if it was your turn. That’s life. It’s not a walk in the park, but my question is, when is it ever?

~~

    I’m now about 6,000 words into my novel, and there have been days where I’ve had to scrape myself off of Facebook, and choke myself on my own bad storytelling. But, I’m now looking at over 20, not novel sized, pages of writing, and gosh, I’m trumpeting my joy to the Lord. When you can finally immerse yourself into a novel, and feel it come together, each page becomes a beautiful petal that will either be plucked, or pop beautifully out of its stem. It’s worth it when you finally take that first step: making the title, the characters, etc.

    If you decide to write a novel, I say this, GO FOR IT! Good luck!

BOOK GIVEAWAY: For anyone who posts/shares/recommends this blog on another site, like facebook, twitter, a writer’s group, etc., will have a chance to win Shaman’s Crossing by Robin Hobb!
Make sure to COMMENT on this blog with a link to where you shared it! The Deadline is by July 20th!

    Want a peak? Here’s its Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Shamans-Crossing-Book-Soldier-Trilogy/dp/0060758287

See you next week!

My Favorite Writing Quotes

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” 
 Mark Twain

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” 
 Saul Bellow

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” 
 Robert Frost

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” 
 Ray BradburyZen in the Art of Writing

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” 
 Kurt Vonnegut

“We live and breathe words. …. It was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone. They could be honest with me, and I with them. Reading your words, what you wrote, how you were lonely sometimes and afraid, but always brave; the way you saw the world, its colors and textures and sounds, I felt–I felt the way you thought, hoped, felt, dreamt. I felt I was dreaming and thinking and feeling with you. I dreamed what you dreamed, wanted what you wanted–and then I realized that truly I just wanted you.” 
 Cassandra ClareClockwork Prince

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.” 
 Sidney Sheldon

“Why does one begin to write? Because she feels misunderstood, I guess. Because it never comes out clearly enough when she tries to speak. Because she wants to rephrase the world, to take it in and give it back again differently, so that everything is used and nothing is lost. Because it’s something to do to pass the time until she is old enough to experience the things she writes about.” 
 Nicole Krauss

~~

Just felt like I needed some quotes today. They really help inspire me and spurring me forward when things feel all stopped up. Hope these help you as well!

See you next week!

A.C.Rooks