Author Archives: Joan T Warren

About Joan T Warren

Joan is an occupational therapist who loves to build and maintain healthy relationships, encourage others in their journey toward wholeness and hone her creative skills such as writing, drawing, painting, dancing and gardening. Read more about Joan under "About the Author" at joantwarren.com

Diversity

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it burst forth from rock, high in the mountains-

its journey before unseen.

now respendent with light, with movement,

wind catching droplets,

splaying out upon the sky

in joyful play.

then down.

down the jagged crests,

tracing o’er all crevices and round mossy stones,

giving in to grand descent,

trusting powers drawing on its way.

to go, where least resistance begs,

unrelenting,

e’re to make its journey

as it may.

til when upon a jutting cliff,

a solid mass,

blockade,

its forces split.

“Which way?”

the stream,

it wonders,

droplets crash and turn in wild careen,

hesitating e’re so briefly,

then to choose.

or be chosen.

diverse paths from hence-

bifurcating,

two where once was one.

Yet on, no stopping,

naught to bring them back,

or time to pause in retrospection.

down, they travel, each its separate way.

the two,

now different,

lost to what once was.

yet

both-

still valuable with richness unsurpassed.

both-

bringing life and nourishment to all they touch.

both-

essentially the same, though drawn in diverse ways.

until at last

they reach the sea.

again

the two are one

in unity.

the world,

enfolded,

molded,

cleansed and moistened-

life

entrusted

here

so lovingly.

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-Joan T Warren

This free-style prose flowed from my mind and fingertips tonight as thoughts I’ve been pondering for months–thoughts of sadness and turmoil over our polarization as a country, which is torn between left and right political views and personalities, thoughts of the hope for unity and love rising up, embracing diversity, thoughts of value and respect for all living things, born and unborn, bound and free, rich and poor, faithful and disdainful, wild and tame–all came together in the imagery of the water cycle, in what I perceive to be a love-gift from our maker.

May we care for our planet, and may we care for each other: Republican and Democrat, Independent, Green, Black, Blue, Whatever. May we care for each other whether behind walls or by reaching out. May we care for each other whether we feel a need to set personal boundaries and draw lines or whether we feel we’ve been ostracized, abused or neglected by someone’s boundaries or lines. May we care for each other whether worried about losing rights for equality and choice or to bear arms. May we care for each other whether we trace our ancestral culture to Isaac or Ishmael, to Sitting Bull, Dalai Lama, Peter the Great or Henry the 8th. May we do so without having to face a common foe threatening our existence, forcing us to pull together to fight it. May we care for each other, period.

May we care, lovingly.

Daily Prompt: Lovingly

 

 

The Joan T. Warren Process of Writing for an Anthology (or, Sense & Sensibility)

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The Joan T. Warren Process of Writing for an Anthology (or, Sense & Sensibility)

Has anyone noticed how my blog posts have steadily decreased in 2015-2016? It’s true, I’ve reduced blogging to occasional at best. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing, though. Yes, I’m still working on the novel, the one on my bucket list. It’s getting closer to first draft stage (then the hard part begins). As loyal readers know, I also started a blog that draws on my expertise as an occupational therapist and reaches out, forum-style, to therapists and people/families with health challenges. This past year much of my writing effort went into a project that diverted me from my goals, yet is turning out to be a learning opportunity. That’s what I’ll be telling you about today.

My local writer’s group is publishing an anthology through the Florida Writer’s Association. Its many chapters, written by locals, highlight Clay County history. It will be called Embedded in Clay. You can read more about it over here.

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From Embedded In Clay FB page

 

I’m used to writing essays for health science. In college, I impressed my English professor with the best CLAST essay score he’d ever seen; the best possible, actually. I’m used to writing various styles of poetry. I’m used to writing recovery curriculum, personal stories–and I’m somewhat comfortable writing fiction. I’m mostly used to writing in my own way, on my own time, as an introvert, for pleasure.

I’m not used to writer’s groups. I’m not used to Chicago-style referencing. I’m not used to historical, referenced work.

When I accepted the challenge to write for Embedded in Clay, I did so with some trepidation. A transplant from Maryland, I knew little of Florida history, and less of my own county. I wanted to learn more, though. Taking on a writing project was a sure way to force myself to learn. You can’t write what you don’t know. My initial trepidation was well-founded.

Months, and several history books, trips to Clay County Archives and internet searches later, I knew more about Clay County history. What did I know? One thing, mainly: that I knew too little to write for an anthology!

Yet the deadline loomed.

I dug in.

My first draft = my first mistake

I took on too much without clarifying the parameters of the project. I thought the chapter could be anything I wanted it to be, any style, as long as I used Chicago-style references. When I brought it to group, I learned we had a 2500 word limit! How did I miss this? My chapter was more like 7000 words. Everyone else knew the parameters. I searched through my emails and contract, and realized I must have not received that page. How could I have embarked on a project not knowing its parameters?  I quietly received feedback from the small group on how to start slicing and dicing. Some people loved my imagery, which was encouraging. Approaching our new, extended deadline, I carved writing time out of what usually is reserved for sleep and family time.

My second draft = my second mistake

Returning to group with a hard-fought (harshly shortened) second draft, I felt relieved and proud of what I’d accomplished. Again receiving feedback quietly, only one piece being negative, I felt pretty good about the piece. I started working on the summary, the loglines and photos. I was happy to turn it all in before the holidays. Now it was time to get ready for family at Thanksgiving, and, before long, Christmas. No time for anything else.

Then the email came. “Please give me a call when you have a few minutes to talk about your story,” our group leader wrote.

This can’t be good, I thought.

It wasn’t. Turns out the one negative feedback I’d received had been hers. She didn’t like the way I’d presented the historical report. “Their lives are interesting on their own,” she said, “It’s distracting to the reader to take them on a journey through time. Just tell the story.” She didn’t stop there. “Why are so many people trying to write about an imaginary journey through time? I don’t understand it. . . just tell us what happened, it’s interesting in and of itself.”

I realized I was face to face with a professional writer who tells it like it is. She likes to read history as they tell it in history books (I never did; I actually liked Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure!). She likes the facts (I like the human interest side–skip memorizing the dates of this battle and that invention). She likes structure (Me? Freestyle, much preferred). Why, we are Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen, 1811): both valuable, but very different. She, however, is the founder and leader of the group.

After a few questions to clarify the knock-me-off-my-feet-but-okay-I-must-learn-from-this feedback, I swallowed hard and thanked her. After hanging up the phone, I decided to abandon the project. I just couldn’t give it any more of my time.

Then my conscience bothered me. I don’t give up, it’s not my style.

Instead of giving up the project, I gave up that Sunday and rewrote the chapter. I savagely edited everything flowery–all the parts that made it come to life for me. I took out the imaginary journey. I cut the imagery that transported the reader 200 years back in time. Sensory experiences: gone. I’ll reserve those for another publication, I figured. If she wants the facts, okay, she’ll get the facts. I was mad, but I did it. I didn’t have time to figure out how to keep sensation and imagery without the imaginary journey.

I read it aloud a few times. It was okay. It told some pretty interesting stories that really happened. There was only one problem: I didn’t really like it. It didn’t move me. I didn’t feel proud of it.

I decided not to turn it in. I went on with holiday preparations. So what if I’d spent the last nine months nurturing this chapter for naught?

But it wouldn’t stay dead. As the new deadline approached, I decided to take it out again, just to be sure I shouldn’t turn it in. The chapter tells the story of three women in history who faced some serious challenges and made some serious differences. Their stories are truly worth reading. I still didn’t really like the writing style I had to use, under the circumstances, but I decided to turn it in anyway. I promised myself I wouldn’t do much more, though. The holidays are for my family.

My third draft = Apparent success

Wouldn’t you know it, she liked it! I still don’t like it much, but I went ahead and (fairly heartlessly) crafted a summary, loglines and some photos from the archives. It’s all been turned in and is in editing now, so I’m still not sure what it will look like when they publish it.

Will anyone else like it? I honestly don’t know. This is a learning project for me. I’ve thought about publishing both versions here, and asking for your feedback, to see what my readers think. Yet,  I get few comments on my blogs.  I don’t know what to do at this point. I don’t really feel like promoting the piece, since I’m not really proud of it. . . but the women whose stories I told deserve to have their stories told. It’s not about me, it’s about them. It’s about you, the readers, and the encouragement, inspiration and enrichment you may gain from what three amazing women–in what is now Clay County–did between 1806 and 1906.

Final Publication = ?

Still in process. . .

Joan

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Joan in Nov 2016

Flippin’ Fun Over Fifty!

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Lake Chatuge (2)

We usually visit family for vacation, either at Lake Keowee, South Carolina or to the Blue Ridge mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. This year, though, procrastination combined forces with many unsuccessful, indecisive HomeAway and VRBO searches, leaving us without a viable option near family.

Well, to be honest, there were places left to rent, but I’m pretty picky when it comes to the few days a year I get to really relax and refresh from my busy life. I want fresh, clear water to swim and boat in. I want magnificent short and long range mountain views. I want comfy furniture with room to spread out, a porch with a view and plenty of windows for sunlight to stream in. I want a place that’s clean and up-to-date, not a moldy shower, sunken-bed and cob-web corner kind of place. Like I said, picky.

We end up a short two hours from family, in Hiawassee, Georgia. Amazing place. So amazing that I hesitate to write about it–for fear the world hears and rushes in! Of course, with only 512 Wonderful WordPress Followers, I calm myself on that question. The name “Hiawassee” comes from the Cherokee word “Ayuhwasi,” (meadow) but some say it is named for a Native American princess. Hiawassee is a picturesque small town in the mountains at the southern end of Lake Chatuge. The lake is spring-fed, a reservoir with 132 miles of mountainous shoreline. Within thirty minutes of Helen,

Anna Ruby Falls

Anna Ruby Falls

Anna Ruby Falls, Blairsville and Brasstown Bald, we have our choice of short day trips to round out our lazy days on the lake. Our place, a townhouse we rent, is steps from the lake. It has all of the amenities on my “picky-list,” plus. The owner leaves fresh flowers in every room. There is a swing on the balcony overlooking the lake and mountains. The dock offers a swimming area complete with a ladder so I might properly and safely climb into the water–and some shallow areas where my granddaughter digs her toes in to find tiny mussels.

View from Brasstown Bald, highest elevation in Georgia

View from Brasstown Bald, highest elevation in Georgia

 

 

As I relax, I take care to preserve the good feeling. For those of you who follow my posts, you know I’m young at heart. My body doesn’t always share that sentiment. With respect for the old gal’s body, I spend many hours just loafing in the lake on an inflatable lounge chair, enjoying the view–and my granddaughter’s antics. I remember to squeeze my glutes (as my physical therapist emphasizes) with each step of our two hikes, one up the shady trail by Anna Ruby Falls and the other on the steep pathway to the highest point in Georgia (Brasstown Bald). I am doing fine and don’t want to spoil it by overdoing things and waking up the boogie monster. But the wooden ledge on the edge of the dock, resting a few inches below the clean water, keeps calling me.

“Flip!” the ledge calls.

I look away. Such a lovely view. So relaxing. . .

“Come on, do it!”

Is it the ledge, or the child inside, or are they conspiring together?

It is the last full day on the lake. “If it hurts,” that kid inside my head reasons, “well, it’s not like you’ve ruined the whole vacation.”

“I’m scared, though. I don’t want to hurt,” the fifty-eight year-old replies.

“It’s water.”

“Hmmm, so it is.” I have no argument. I really want to do it.

So I make a big production (If I cramp up or get dizzy, someone will rescue me, right?).

“Announcing, one and all, the famous flip of the fifty-something fibro-woman!”

My granddaughter stops to look and laughs. Before long the others have come to attention too.

And I do it!

Jumping forward and tucking my head, body, legs. . . over I go. I plunge into the cool support of Lake Chatuge. Muscle memory kicks in. My arms and legs know what to do. I feel the gentle pressure of water on every inch of my body without the support of a float. I feel it help me rise to the surface. My fist goes up in the air and I shout–no, woop–with victory!

And it doesn’t hurt!

 

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Everyone cheers. Then they seem to want to go back to what they were doing. They obviously don’t realize the courage it took, the incredibly wonderful feeling it brings, this flop-of-a-flip-that-looked-more-like-a-somersault-than-a-dive-but-is-so-great-to-me! So I start clapping rhythmically and calling my step-daughter’s name, over and over again. My granddaughter joins in the call for “Mom-mie! Mom-mie! Mom-mie!”

She complies, leaving the comfort of her water lounger, and we all cheer, and before long we are all doing silly jumps and dives and other antics from the dock, cheering one another on.

And it doesn’t hurt!

And I don’t get dizzy or lose muscle control or cramp or drown or die!

Ha!

 

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Vacation is over, now, and as I write this memoir, I lay in bed nursing a strained back that I didn’t get on vacation. This one came as I reached across the bed grappling for the remote control in the dark. Who knew watching TV in bed could be so dangerous? But it will get better. I won’t give up, or give in. I will take good care of myself and get back to functioning soon.

Maybe next time I’ll be more apt to jump in the lake and less apt to reach for the remote!

This summer won’t be remembered for this present back ache. This shall be the summer of the flippin-fun-fifty-eight-year-old!

Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Hiawassee. Thank you, Lake Chatuge. Thank you, Appalachian Mountains. Thank you, family.  Thank you, body, soul and spirit. Thank you, Hanz Tabora at Access Physical Therapy in Jacksonville, Florida: the best physical therapist EVER.

Flippin’ Fun to you,

©Joan T. Warren

Faulty Fault Lines–When Bad Things Happen to Little People

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RE-Posting an oldie but goodie, from 2013:

Janie smiled through her tears and put her arms around Stella. “How do you do it, Stella? You always seem to find a way to help me put things in perspective when I get like this. I wish I had your …

Source: Faulty Fault Lines–When Bad Things Happen to Little People

stick around

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Reblogging an anti-suicide poem I wrote a while back. It used to be laid out better on the screen. Formatting, where did you go? Click through to the original for the cool Vimeo that accompanies. . . and stick around!

fifteen

heading up the street

toward heavy traffic

stroller with baby inside

thinking it should end right here

for her, for me,

end the suffering

what if it fails

what if only  one of us die…

Source: stick around

How About Another?

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It’s not like I don’t have plenty to do. Actually, I live in Plenty to Do. I know everyone there.

In the center of Plenty to Do lives a tiny little voice named ‘But.’

But, and her best friends, ‘Lemme,’ ‘Justdothis,’ and ‘Onemorething’ have been nagging me quite a lot lately. In fact, they kept me up too late several times this past week, looking at photos to crop, laughing over background colors and arguing over which WordPress theme would let them get their job done best.

I finally got fed up with their noise and decided, “Why not? Might as well have another!” I went on over to help them out today. I missed lunch and some paperwork of my own, but now maybe I’ll get some sleep.

At least until it’s time to get the next post ready!

Want to see what these gals from the land of Plenty to Do came up with? It’s a brand new blog, a forum for interacting about health, functioning well, recovering from injuries and disabilities, raising children with special needs, and the like. It’s a forum for people–patients, families, therapists, teachers, anyone interested in these things. Here, I’ll be writing more about what I know: Occupational Therapy. Here, I’ll be hosting other bloggers who are therapists, health care professionals, parents of kids with special needs, adults with spouses or parents with special needs, and such! There will be interviews, re-blogs and links to great resources.

Sound good?

Then come on, join the fun!

OT Interactions

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Sincerely,

Joan T Warren

 

 

How to Write With a Whip

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Ever get caught up in frustration that there’s just not enough time to write?

Between working full time, homemaking, investigating information we need to write, and a few other significant endeavors, like parenting, many aspiring writers feel they’ve been “tied to the whipping post!”

 

(Here you may imagine I inserted a video of the Allman Brothes playing the song, “Whipping Post.” Or, you can go to You Tube yourself, leaving me no copyright issues.)

Tired of feeling whipped? Let’s take that WHIP in hand, turn it around, and get cracking!

First, let’s clearly identify the factors that WHIP us, ie., detract from our writing time:

W is for working! While some writers are fully financed by someone or something, most of us have to work full-time to keep that ever-so-important roof over our heads and food in our bellies! Read the rest of this entry

Child Mental Health Day

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Remember twirling around on the swing set out back? Tummy on the swing, arms and legs hanging down,  you’d walk in circles to wind the suspended chains around one another, like a rubber band wound up to fly a toy plane, and then lift your feet up, and zoom! Off you’d spin, around and around again, until the swing came to a brief suspension and then spun the other way. Read the rest of this entry

April is National OT Month and Poetry Month

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Note: some posts deserve a second life. Here’s a repost from last April; what do you think, worthy?

April: Not a month for fools! Pull a prank on the first, but the rest of the month is National Poetry Month and National OT Month.

Most of us know what poetry is, but what is OT? An occupational therapist myself, I can say a little something about that!

Let’s start with some spring cleaning and air out the room with what occupational therapy is NOT:

Read the rest of this entry

Take Care of Your Heart

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All this talk about compassion and heart! Now it’s time for a quick word about your physical heart.

 

Click to learn more

Click to learn more

 

February is American Heart Month! How can we reach out to the world with compassionate hearts if our tickers aren’t working well?

Here are a few tips from Healthiest Weight Florida Initiative, to achieve and maintain a healthy heart:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Be active at least 30–60 minutes a day
  • Make an appointment for an annual check up
  • Monitor existing health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Practice effective stress management
  • Reduce salt intake (sodium)
  • Eat at least five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables every day

I hope you’ll join me, keep tickin’ and spread the good thoughts!

Beating Heart

 

©Joan T Warren

http://www.floridahealth.gov/newsroom/2015/02/020315-heart-health.html

http://www.healthiestweightflorida.com/

 

 

Doctor’s Recommendation

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Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Dr. Seuss

(The Lorax)

Compassion: Left and Right

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Marge lay exhausted at the end of a long day, her eyes puffy from too many tears. It has been an emotional day for her. As she lay on the sofa catching a quick break, an ear out for when her son’s trach needs suctioning, she becomes acutely aware that Read the rest of this entry

Weird Things We Hear Ourselves Say When Living With Little Ones

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A little collection from the past year or so:

“Don’t eat your tiara, honey.”

“It’s probably not a good idea to put a straw in the cup with the lizard.”

“Stop worrying about whether you’ll get in trouble or not, and tell me the truth: Where is your fish?”

“Your poop is huge and bright green because you’ve been eating too much candy and not enough green vegetables.”

“Yeah, I’m sure the birds are gonna love the way you put the red berries on sticks all along the driveway there.”

“Really, it’s okay. We would never ask you to go upstairs if there was an elephant up there.”

“You can’t “unpromise!” You already got your part of the deal!”

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Catch some of your words to kids and share them with us (hit comments button).

Joan T. Warren

Compassion and Collective Consciousness

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Hi friends–so many wonderful friends I’ve met here on WordPress, blogging. I ran across a sweet opportunity to join a group of 1,000 (+) bloggers who are writing about compassion. The plan is to “flood the internet” (though I doubt 1,000 blogs will constitute anything near a flood) with perspectives on compassion.

The floodgates open February 20, 2015.

It’s an idea that’s growing rapidly, with bloggers from all over the world joiniimageng in. I wish I could personally invite you all, so instead I’m mass-inviting you!

If you’re interested in participating, look for #1000Speak on Twitter and 1000 Voices for Compassion on Facebook.

Stay tuned here, too. I’ll be posting for compassion on 2/20.

 

Joan  T. Warren

for fellow survivors

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Wow. An amazing manifesto for survivors of abuse found tonight on WordPress. I am reblogging for her to save it, and to pass it on! Please feel free to do the same.

The long Voyage Out

 THE LONG VOYAGE OUT

The Epic Challenge of Recovery from Organized Abuse

– for my impossibly wondrous children

Alone is the lie perpetrators of organized abuse use to ensnare and imprison their victims. No one can hear you, no one can help you, no one will believe you. Others can’t be trusted. In this comply-or-die underworld, the myth of isolation is indispensable.

Compounding this stratum of alone enslavement is the double-edged sword of psychological dissociation. Victims of sadistic atrocities typically instinctively and unconsciously sequester life and sanity-threatening experience from normal conscious awareness in order to survive, creating yet another layer of secrecy and isolation – from one’s self. Perpetrators of organized abuse pervert this natural survival mechanism to control even the sacred inner worlds of their victims.

For those of us who were fortunate enough to survive being tortured and exploited, alone is once again the enemy of emancipation…

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No Need for Eyes to See This

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This morning my granddaughter put on How to Train Your Dragon.  Again.

I sat nearby, reading and thinking, writing a bit, occasionally paying slight attention to the movie.

“In centuries of Vikings, I’m the first one who wouldn’t kill a dragon,” Hiccup sulked to Astrid. Feeling the failure of not living up to his culture’s expectations, feeling the sting of disappointing his father, Hiccup doubted himself. Astrid saw beyond this temporary setback:

“Yeah, the first one who was right.”

 

Hiccup had decided to spare the dragon when he looked into its eyes and realized, “He was just as afraid as I was.” Hiccup saw with the eyes of his heart.

His compassion, as it turned out, changed everything. It changed his father. It changed his village. It changed dragons. It changed him.

We like to think we are far more advanced than the world of Vikings and dragons. But are we?

Do we see with the eyes of our hearts?

Do we find the good?

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©Joan T. Warren

Hang on. Or, Let go.

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Walking out from yoga class tonight, I stopped. A beautiful clutch of autumn leaves held on, unashamed to be the last among all that was gray and dismal.

It is January, in North Florida.

 

I thought of all the times that I’ve heard people say, “Hang on. . . just hang on.”
 
I thought of all the times I’ve heard people say, “Let go. . . just let go and let God.”
 
I thought about how many times it’s been good to hold on, and how many times it’s been good to let go.
 
I thought about the years I struggled, trying so hard to hold on, or trying so hard to let go. Because they said so.
 
Now, at peace. . . with letting go. . . with holding on. At peace with wherever a person is in that process.
 
When it is time to let go, you will know it, and you will be able to let go. When is time for you to hold on, you will know it, and you will be able to hold on.

So hold on, or let go.

Namaste,  salmon leaves of January.

Namaste, Tree Maker.

Namaste, friends.

©Joan T. Warren