Tag Archives: freedom

If You Stare, You Pay

The shakes, the racing heart, the sweat, the confusion. They happen every single time.

This is nothing new, and it happens all the time. The moment puberty hit, speaking in front of and to a large group of people has been really uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I thrive in large groups of people. I’m often the life of the party and would rather be surrounded by people than be alone. But, having to deliver news, information, or any kind of speech to more than three people? I’d really rather not.

I am sure many of you feel the same way. It takes a certain personality to be comfortable speaking eloquently to a large audience. One of my favorite public speakers is Martin Luther King, Jr. How he managed to calmly talk to thousands of people blows my mind. Never faltering, always level, he managed to get his message across with love and strength. I wish I had that ability.

But, I don’t.

I get nervous and clam up. My heart feels like it’s going to explode out of my chest. My palms get sweaty, and I shake very noticeably. I’m never confident that what I am about to say is real, true, correct, or even kind. I’m too concerned with making everyone happy, and I’m equally as concerned that I won’t sound intelligent enough. Sounding intelligent is a very big issue I constantly struggle with.

Casually put me in a room with a bunch of people, though, and I can wax poetic in small conversations about things I am passionate about. The desire to sound intelligent melts away. If I’m wrong or confusing, I’ll gladly take that to heart and seek out the correct information. A casual conversation has never been an issue, and probably never will be.

So, at 33, I’ve decided that if I ever am put in a situation that requires me to speak to a large group of people, I better get paid. That way, I will have the financial resources to research what I’m speaking about. And, I’ll have the financial resources to get help for the fear of public speaking. I promise, therapy is wonderful. Therapy is a great tool to guide people in positive directions. However, good therapy isn’t always cheap. For public speaking, I know that I would need an actual, physical human opposite me, giving me the right tools to melt the fear away.

Fear of public speaking is very real and very legitimate. Delivering information to large numbers of people requires a somewhat deep understanding of what is being discussed. It also requires the belief that what is being said is real, true, and correct. [Not all speeches have merit or are true. Look at Adolf Hitler. One of the things he is known for is his public speaking skills. Was a lot of what he said good or right? Of course not. But, he believed it, and that allowed him to be firm in what he said.] I’m decently educated. I attempted a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and a minor in English Literature. I’m two classes away from a Paralegal Associate of Arts degree, and plan on eventually going back to university and getting a BA. But, I’m not educated perfectly. There are a lot of things in this world that I have to learn about. There is only a small handful of things I can comfortably talk about, and I know that there is a lot more to learn about these things. With that knowledge about myself, I am naturally scared that I will be judged by people listening. I automatically think to myself, “who here knows more than I do and will want to immediately judge and correct me?” I don’t mind being corrected. I welcome being corrected. But, the judgement? That’s scary.

Long story short: if I am going to be watched and stared at, someone better pay me.

Naked with Black Socks

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Our Favorite Books and Why We Love Them

There are some standard reads in here that everyone is recommended to read in high school honors English & college Literature classes. And, there are a couple others that I haven’t heard of. Good list!

The Daily Post

At Automattic, we have a plethora of book lovers. We love to read and we love to share. And today, we’re going to share books we’ve loved with you, in the hopes that you’ll return the favor and share your favorite books with us in the comments.

lorilooLori McLeese

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Joan Didion allows us into her year after her husband, Gregory Dunne, died. I read this book once or twice a year, and it always brings tears, though I know the outcome. It’s not a romanticized love story, it’s a real love story, and it’s about those incredible, raw, numbing, forgetful moments you find yourself emerged in as grief washes over you.

My favorite passage:

Was it about faith or was it about grief?

Were faith and grief the same thing?

Were we unusually dependent on one another the summer we swam and…

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Required Reading from Journalism Professors

I would love to take these classes. Each seem truly enthralling and worth my time.

Longreads

Below, six syllabi from journalism professors on what you should be reading.

* * *

1. Journalism 494: Pollner Seminar In Narrative Non-Fiction With Esquire’s Chris Jones (University of Montana)

“The purpose of this course is to teach students how to write publishable magazine-length narrative non-fiction: In other words, my aim is to help you learn how to write good, long, true stories. The course outline will mirror a typical writer’s progress through the birth of an idea to a finished, polished piece, including reporting, writing, editing, and fact-checking. In addition to classroom discussion, course readings will help students understand the difference between good and bad work. My hope is that by the end of the semester, you will have written the Best Story of Your Life So Far (BSOYLSF) and it will help you reach your future potential as an award-winning literary journalist.”

2. Journalism 141: Professional Problems and…

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Ssssh, It’s A Secret.

Earlier this month (October), the retailer that I work for opted for stores to put out holiday products. The retailer next door to us has even played the occasional holiday song already. For those of you who don’t come from capitalistic, Christian dominated pockets of the world, my use of “holiday” refers to Christmas. When you work retail long enough, you’ll hear people say “the holidays come earlier every year,” and you’ll roll your eyes, understanding that truth, yet fervently hoping the opposite.

I have a feeling that in a decade, it is very likely that every single day, there will be a premium put on Christmas shopping. This is why I hope that in ten years, I can afford to escape from the states between the months of October and January. If I am running my own business, I plan on giving my employees the entire month of December off on top of whatever vacation they have accrued. If they want to stick around and work, awesome. I won’t stop them. But, I’d like to give them the option of enjoying life.

With all of that said, I have some secrets for everyone who has never worked retail (or in hospitality of some sort) a day in their life.

  1. It’s just stuff. Does your co-worker’s girlfriend who he’s been casually dating for three weeks really need the latest makeup palette from generic brand x? Is it necessary that your dog walker’s niece have the most recent variant of a celebrity fragrance? Sure, it’s one thing if the person you are shopping for works in a relevant field of the store you are in. Let’s say your fiancé is a personal trainer. Yes, please, buy him or her new workout clothes and/or state of the art exercise gear. How about your aunt who is a makeup artist? Go ahead and buy her pro gear from an upscale cosmetics brand. My point is, it really is just stuff. How much stuff do we really need? Do women really need five exceedingly similar versions of the same thing? NO! We definitely DO NOT!
  2. Know your audience before you leave the house. That means know who you are shopping for, what things they like, how much money you want to spend, and which stores will cater to all of the latter. Don’t walk into a busy store on a Saturday afternoon and ask a sales associate (who probably is already helping two other people in your same situation) what you should buy for someone. Especially a week before Christmas. We don’t like having to pick out presents for people we’ve never met. Sure, it’s our job to guide you. But, if you know nothing about the person you are shopping for, how can we guide you? Every year, my coworkers and I each have to help at least 20 of you clueless drones. And, we’ll tell you all to buy whatever we have excess of. We won’t spend an hour with each of you interviewing you about the recipient. We won’t make personal phone calls to them either. We have limited time to help you. So, HELP US HELP YOU! Please!
  3. I cannot emphasize the importance of the phrase “IT’S JUST STUFF.” I will repeat it over and over again until y’all wrap your head around that idea and truly understand it.
  4. People (yes, human beings) who work in the hospitality sector have lives outside their jobs. We don’t magically appear the moment the doors are unlocked. We don’t magically disappear when we lock the doors in the evening. We are not magical hospitality fairies. Most of us working hospitality are doing so to pay bills, put food on the table, support a family, etc. We aren’t doing it for the love of serving others. Most of us working hospitality would give an arm and a leg to have someone wait on us all day long. The only difference is that hospitality workers are genuinely grateful whenever they get any kind of service, even sh*tty service.
    1. Three Golden Words: PLEASE. THANK YOU. Even if you don’t mean any of them, just say them. And crack a damn smile when you do, even if it’s fake. We’re getting paid meager hourly wages to be on our feet anywhere from 6-12 hours a day (sometimes up to 18 for some people with families, mortgages, debt, student loans, etc.). A little bit of gratitude goes a very long way. Be grateful that you have the option of spending your money on STUFF and going to nice restaurants and staying in nice hotels. Many of us working hospitality don’t have that option.
    2. As we are not magical hospitality fairies, we’d really appreciate it if you plan your shopping wisely. Don’t show up to a store as the doors are getting locked and say “Oh, but I really need to buy ONE thing!” We know that buying one thing will take at least 15 minutes, usually extending the time employees need to be clocked in. Be aware of store hours. Even if you need to buy one thing, show up an hour before the store closes. That way, you can shop at a leisurely pace and we don’t have to say “we’re closing up our registers, so if you need us to grab you anything and take it to the counter, please let us know.”
    3. We do have lives outside our place of employment. We have families to go home to. We have friends we’d like to spend time with. Many of us cannot afford therapy, so our intimate relationships and social lives are incredibly important. We like having the option of going to the gym or sharing a bottle of wine with friends or taking our dog for a walk. Humans are social. So, after spending all day getting paid a meager amount to interact with people we otherwise wouldn’t outside of work, we need to be surrounded by a like minded community.
    4. Many of us who work in hospitality are, in fact, educated. Just because our yearly income usually falls below a truly livable wage doesn’t mean we are idiots. A lot of the people I work with have spent time at college and many of those people have degrees. I spent three years at a university before I started working retail. And, I am back at school finishing a Paralegal Studies degree. Even though we make significantly less money than most people who shop at our store, many of us are as intelligent (if not more) than you. Again, we are not magical hospitality fairies. We are human beings, with functioning brains.
  5. Don’t be that asshole that makes it a point to say Merry Christmas to everyone. If you are really that jolly, say “happy holidays! Thank you for working hard!!” We meet a lot of the adamant “Merry Christmas” agenda pushers every day during the holiday season. Your schtick is not original nor funny. Plus, if you tell me “Merry Christmas” during Hannukah, I will respond “Chag Urim Sameach! Hope you have enough oil!” If you say “Merry Christmas” to me on December 20th or 21st, I will say “Happy solstice! Blessed be! May the sprites be with you tonight!”
  6. For those of you living in the United States, never expect any sales associate to spend more than 10-15 minutes with you between Black Friday and January 6th, unless you are shopping at a tiny, exclusive boutique. If you are shopping at a major retailer, chances are the shopper to associate ratio will be 10 or 15 to 1, and that is including the six to eight cashiers ringing up an already horrendous line.
  7. Remember, IT’S JUST STUFF! Please, thank you, and a smile are all helpful.

 

With that said, have a wonderful Halloween and All Saint’s Day. Enjoy Thanksgiving. Ask the sprites and fairies and sky and earth to bring rain and snow. Live in the moment. Don’t focus all your energy on Christmas until Christmas is here.

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I’m Not Lost, Just Wandering

Those who know me well enough understand that I get bored quickly. Because of that boredom, it’s hard for me to settle into much a groove. For a brief time, I thought I had ADD. Then it dawned on me that I haven’t settled into my ideal life and I am completely terrified of doing so. While I’ll find something interesting to pass the time, I ultimately put it aside and move on to something else. Most of the time, I’ll find my way back to the unfinished business.

But, I’m too old for that.

Three things I would love to spend the rest of my life doing: writing, taking photographs, and walking.

If I could walk for three hours and take photos along the way, stop to rest, eat, and write, then walk for another three hours, I would be in heaven. I might just be happy living a (quasi) nomadic life. All I need is a camera (with a back up battery and extra CF cards), a notebook or two, some pens and pencils, and a PO Box address (and possibly someone to check the box a couple times a month).

A few years ago, I came up with two photojournalistic type projects I wanted to do. I keep coming back to them & toying around with the logistics. How will I get to the places to photograph the people I need to? How will I convince these people to allow me to photograph them. These are things I learned and could have learned while at art school had I stuck it out. They are things I can still learn if I just go out and do it.

But, I’m poor. I am (or will soon be) a starving artist.

Alas, I will continue to write, will continue to photograph, will continue to walk. And, I will continue to will some sort of success and be grateful when it arrives.

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Cultivating Joy

We are more than halfway through the year and the time has flown by. For the first six months, I barreled through a full time school scheduled and attempted to work 20-25 hours on top of that. I understand that there are people who work full time while going to school full time and are able to make that happen. For some reason, I can’t quite get that balance. I would love to be able to do that, but in the last few months, I seemed to sink back into an incredibly blue, lost place. I struggled to get out of bed every day. I found little joy in anything, even doing school work – something I had been enjoying thoroughly up until April.

A couple weeks ago, I became frustrated with myself for allowing myself to sink back into an uncomfortably comfortable depression. The frustration doesn’t help, it doesn’t solve any problem. So, in the last few days, a mild shift happened. Putting on jeans that felt fine now feel a bit too tight. My torso is rounder than usual, and that’s awful, because my torso is already too soft.

And, let’s be real: I simply don’t want to be unhealthy, mentally and physically. I need to be healthy.

I devised a plan. Every single day, I have to do something creative, I have to do something physical, and I absolutely have to be grateful for something. How will I accomplish that? Write somewhere what (or who) I am grateful for. If it is a person, I will tell them. And, if I have ten spare minutes, I have to write down exactly how I am feeling or have felt that day. Twice, if not three times, a week I will go to the gym, even if I get on the treadmill for just 20 minutes. Four or five times a week, I will pick up the weights I have sitting in my room and MOVE. Even if I just do steps back and forth with weights in my hand while I watch a movie, that’s still movement. Once or twice a week I will do one of the many doable workouts I found on YouTube. I will set up a reward system for every hour of school work I do each day. Another thing I need to do is write down everything I eat and drink. Mindful eating and consumption is a practice that is effective in my life. By being accountable for how I am treating my body, I will become happier with myself.

One thing I plan on doing that isn’t going to be a daily thing will be the upkeep of my blogs. Twice a week I will do a post at any three of my blogs. I will write about whatever book I have just read, new music I’ve been enjoying, exercise that is fun & effective, fun craft projects I’ve done, and many more.

With all of these simple things I am going to do, I am going to mark reminders on my wall calendar and I am going to set up reminders on my phone. If I don’t see or hear any reminders, I won’t stick to the plan. Right now, I am hopeful. The anxiety that was surging through my body earlier has subsided. I’m excited to go to the gym tomorrow before work. I can’t wait to finish my book this weekend.

What do you to keep yourself happy and excited about life? Please share!

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Reborn

Daily Post, January 2nd 2014:
When you look back at your blog on January 2, 2015, what would you like to see?

There has been a lot of talk about writing more. In the last few years, I have gotten frustrated with myself because the writing seems to come to a complete halt for a few months at a time. I’d give up, move on to something a little more shiny, then forget I was even writing in the first place.

What happens when I don’t write regularly? I get antsy, frenetic, and combustible. Can a frenetic being be combustible? Am I being redundant? That’s what happens when I don’t write. I lose my focus and forget what words mean. That is very serious.

By January 2nd, 2015, I hope to have a combination of 156 blog posts. That means each blog of mine needs to be posted in once a week. Guess what? I’ve challenged myself to write a blog post every single day of January. I never promised I’d write a post in every blog every day of January. Ninety-three posts? Yikes. No thank you! With the 156 posts, I am allowing myself to not beat myself up if I miss a week.

Apart from frequency, I hope to see more viewership and subscribers. But, I think that goes for most bloggers. Many of us are writing to have our voices heard. Some readers might not like what we have to say and that is allowed. Humanity would be really boring if we all felt and thought exactly the same way. To boost viewership, I think I am going to start YouTubing. Depending on the response I get, I may do one vlog a month. If I manage to entertain enough people, I may vlog once a week later in the year.

Lastly, I am going to actually start writing about concerts I go to, books a read, and movies I have enjoyed seeing. That was the original purpose of my blogging, so why not get down to business? And, I plan on actually having some vacation time this year. I deserve it. I have been working hard at school while trying to not let work in a retail environment get me too wired. I want to be able to sit outside and look out at a lake or the ocean with a cup of tea, a book, and a pen & some paper. I would love to be still for awhile… Still…

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New Habits

Every year, I always tell myself I am going to write more. Somehow I seem to fall short a few months into the year. This year, 2014, I feel it is going to be different. Now I have three blogs going and am back in school, I have more passion in my life. The environment I have chosen to be in cultivates the habit of writing and learning and general curiosity.

On a friend’s Facebook page, she mentioned a site called 750 Words. I wish I had heard about it two days sooner! The premise of the site is that you are to write at least 750 words a day. No one (but the site admin, I assume) has access to what you write, so you can write whatever you want. Some people use it to help with their writing skills, others use it as a therapeutic tool, and some use it to get their creative juices flowing. I am so grateful to have found this site! Within half an hour of signing up, I was able to write almost twelve hundred words (I’m not a fast typer, I just have a lot to say).

For any of you who are creative in any way, please use this tool! It is a great way to help break up any blockage you may be experiencing!

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Bucket List

I’m nearing 32 and I haven’t created a concrete bucket list. So, here goes! This is just a small list. I will add to it when I get more ideas!

  1. Travel to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.
  2. Complete a sprint triathlon.
  3. Live on a farm.
  4. Have my own vegetable/fruit garden.
  5. Spend a month in New York City, writing & photographing every single day.
  6. Travel to Greece & Turkey.
  7. Hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
  8. Hike around Corsica.
  9. Throw a dart at a map and travel where ever it lands (unless it is the middle of the ocean).
  10. Visit all 50 United States and Puerto Rico.
  11. Drive across USA diagonally from Southwest to Northeast & Northwest to Southeast.
  12. Speak with everything but my physical voice for a week.
  13. Take at least one class at ACT.
  14. Audition for 3 plays.
  15. Do a volunteer vacation.
  16. Host a 100% vegan dinner for 30 people.
  17. Write a novel and/or collection of short stories.
  18. Complete a paralegal AA.
  19. Attempt to take the California State Bar.
  20. Run a bookshop/cafe.
  21. Have writing published.
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50 Facts About Ellie, part 2

Some of you may have snuck over here from part 1 of this list featured on Daily Ellie. If you haven’t and would like to take a look at it, please do! Things might make more sense if you do, although I’ve tried my best to keep things fairly random.

  1. In high school, my favorite band was The Black Crowes. I still love them and am kicking myself for not figuring out a way to catch one of their gigs on this tour. However, a few years ago, a friend had a spare ticket to The Black Crowes & Tom Petty at the Berkeley Greek. I happened to be available that evening. It was a phenomenal evening & I am happy I got to see TBC live. [I’ve seen Tom Petty live I few times, but he’s still amazing.]
  2. One of my first concerts I went to was Tom Petty when I was six or seven. My parents are very hip & were happy to bring my brother and I along to concerts when we were children. I remember two people with really long silky hair dressed in leather pants & vests dancing in the aisle next to us. They must have seen how into the music I was and invited me to dance with them. My parents were completely fine with that invitation, so I joined them and danced my tiny six (or seven?) year old bottom off. I remember having the time of my life.
  3. When I’m having a hormonal few days, I’ll eat one or two teaspoons of coconut oil before bed. The taste is soothing and my bad food cravings diminish.
  4. I love the smell of coconut. I love the taste of coconut water & coconut oil. But, I’m not a fan of most dishes prepared with coconut meat or coconut milk. I’ve found I’m still on the fence when it comes to Thai cuisine because of that fact alone.
  5. I was born in London, am still a UK citizen & a US Permanent Resident. My mother is first generation Irish-English. My dad is half Irish, half English. My paternal grandfather (who is Irish) was born in Agra, India and spent the first couple years of his life there.
  6. I want to visit India because of the fact my grandfather was born there. There are a few things stopping me. Mainly, I can’t afford the flight to and from India. Also, I wouldn’t know where to start or what to do. I don’t want to go there alone. I’d rather visit with two or three other people I know well, one of whom who has travelled throughout India or is a native of India.
  7. My top five favorite movies are:
    Bonnie & Clyde
    Singin’ in the Rain
    Boys On The Side
    Fried Green Tomatoes
    The Wizard of Oz
  8. I miss the hustle & bustle of London. I also get nostalgic for London circa mid-90s. That was a rad time, especially Camden. I’d love to live in Camden for awhile.
  9. I’d love to work for Ren Skincare. It’s such a simple and straightforward skincare line that offers amazing results. No, they aren’t paying me to say that, otherwise I’d actually be working for them!!
  10. I’ve finally chosen a degree. I am pursuing an AA in Paralegal Studies. My goal is to power through all of my required classes and be done by August next year. When I’m done, I am going to take a month or two off and travel around Europe going North West to South East. I’ve accumulated enough airline miles to get me between the US and Europe, so all I’ll have to worry about is lodging and food. Soon, I’ll start doing some research & chatting with friends who’ve done a lot of traveling.
  11. If I could stand the nitty gritty of veterinary school & everything else being a doctor entails, I’d probably be a licensed veterinarian by now.
  12. My parents got me in a swimming pool as soon as they got the okay, creating a major water baby. I don’t remember learning how to swim. In my active memory of my entire life, swimming has always been a part of it. I used to scare people when I when I was really young. At three or four, I’d take off running into the pool. Moments later my head would pop up & I’d paddle around giggling. It took me years to realize that not everyone knows how to swim. I’d always assumed that swimming was innate. Working as a lifeguard & swim instructor, I enjoyed teaching young children water safety and developing their swimming strength. The true reward was teaching adults how to swim.
  13. About four years ago, I injured my shoulder snowboarding. I didn’t have health insurance at the time, so I didn’t get it tended to. Now, it gets irritated if I don’t sleep well or if it is cold out. I haven’t let it stop me from snowboarding or doing any kind of strenuous physical exercise.
  14. I have also sprained my right ankle five times. It is now in a permanent minor swollen state. Every time I run or am on my feet for more than four hours, the swelling gets worse. Like my shoulder, I don’t let it stop me from being active. If I still have full mobility, I’m not going to stop moving. I don’t take my physical abilities for granted. I’m grateful I can go for a run or a swim or jump on a trampoline.
  15. Twice, I have participated in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Overnight walk. The first time I participated was in 2011 in New York City, and I made a week long vacation out of it. Last year, the event was held here in San Francisco. The event is approximately 18 miles long and starts at about 6.30 or 7.30pm. My legs were made to move, so each time I was able to finish the walk in about five and a half hours. This year I wasn’t able to participate as they didn’t announce the city with enough time for me to plan. I’m considering participating next year, but I have to decide soon. It’s a great cause that raises funds to help with mental health research & support.
  16. People have told me I’d fare well in the South. I don’t know if I should take it as a compliment or an insult. I’ve told myself to take it as a compliment and attribute it to my respect for respect. I’m a huge fan of manners & social graces. I believe in holding the door for women with children or those older than me. I believe in offering my seat to those who might need it more than me. I love “please” and “thank you” and know that a smile speaks volumes. I also believe that there is a way of being honest without being rude. I’ve found that people in the South and Northeast parts of the USA value manners and honesty, things the West Coast seem to lack.
  17. I love Bikram yoga, but sometimes my shoulder hinders my ability to do it. That’s why I’m still searching for an instructor that is patient & educational The one instructor I used to take classes from switched yoga centers and I have no idea where she teaches now…
  18. I loved sleep away summer camp as a kid, and wish I spent the entire summer at camp instead of just a week or two. If I ever have kids, sleep away summer camp will be essential.
  19. If marriage is in the cards for me, I definitely want to elope. A low key party would be in order though. It’ll be our way of saying “surprise, we’re married!!”
  20. I love roses. I love the way they look. I love the way they smell. And, I love skincare that is rose based. However, I don’t like receiving roses. Giving roses are very cliche. I’m not a roses as a gift, date on Valentine’s day type of girl.
  21. My favorite kind of dessert is a fresh pear or two with some agave syrup & roasted, salted almonds. YUM!
  22. I love red wine, but rarely drink it anymore. Pinot Noir is my go to wine.
  23. Sometimes, I crave raw onions. In fact, there has been an instance the craving was so severe I had to peel an onion and bite into it like an apple. Two bites and my craving was gone. One of my favorite snacks is popcorn with salt and onion powder. That keeps the craving at bay.
  24. Another dream job I have is a holistic nutritional counselor. I’m always on the hunt for a legitimate educational program to help me on that journey. If I get back into shape and become super regular with my fitness, I may even become a certified physical trainer which will allow me to incorporate nutritional counseling as part of my service.
  25. I love to laugh. That’s why my DVD collection is full of silly comedies. This means that I am exceedingly the Dumb and Dumber sequel has been confirmed.
  26. (Since I love mutiples of three, number 26, which is technically number 51, is your lucky cherry.) I love the idea of World Peace, which is why the best way to describe my political leaning & overall world view falls closest to Libertarian-socialist ideas. Deal with it. I am who I am. 🙂
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