Sacred

I’ve come to an extremely important and potentially life-altering realization. The seeds of this knowledge have been with me since birth, but have remained hidden from sight, and yet somehow nurtured, even in their dormancy, by every experience I’ve ever had. Every hardship and every triumph along the way has fertilized the soil of my life and been integrated into my growth, leading me to this place.

And when I look back in reflection on the myriad of experiences that have brought me to where I stand now, I can easily see the evidence of this one indisputable fact: my life is sacred.

Please, don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to say. With this statement I do not assert myself to be any more important or special than you or the next person. Rather, I am hereby staking my claim to being a physical manifestion of a Divine spark of light. I might add for the record this is something every human being can say of themselves, because it is the absolute truth for all of us. All you need to do is choose to see it, acknowledge it, and believe it to be true.

I was born unto the Creator of all things (call it God/Source, or whatever other moniker suits your fancy), and by virtue of this, I am an extension of the Divine. The ever-present universal energies of love and light from which I was created are always with me, and part of me, because it is my essential nature and the ultimate truth of who I am.

“What if you were to simply take in the entire world in the same spirit as if you had just walked into a holy place?
Because we are in a holy place.

The divinity that you see outside you is also within you.
Know this.
Don’t doubt it or question it—just for today.”

“I am everything you experience.
Your life is my gift to you.
And you—you are my most beloved creation.”

Panache Desai, Discovering Your Soul Signature

This realization represents a considerable shift in my thinking. It has left me feeling shook, with literally no option other than to accept complete responsibility for my life and everything in it. For better or for worse, my life is a masterpiece of my very own design.

Speaking from recent experience, the level of love and attention I focus on myself has a direct impact on how I choose to spend my time and energy. Subsequently, the energy that ripples out from the decisions I make in every moment is what creates my reality. Placing myself last on my own priority list has shown me, time and time again and in no uncertain terms, how to feel like junk and live in diametric opposition to a purposeful and intention-driven life.

However, the idea of regarding my life as sacred single-handedly places such emphatic emphasis on my raison d’être that it brings every other detail into focus and becomes a yardstick by which I’ve started to measure my thoughts, words, and actions. Knowing that when I begin to veer off track or lose my footing, which will no doubt happen because I am human, SACRED is the compass that will bring me back to my true north.

Sacred is, at once, holding myself to a higher standard while allowing myself grace to make all the mistakes. It’s a lofty and ambitious—even holy—word to focus on, but it’s appearance on my radar screen of life is a beautiful, divinely-timed, and completely necessary occurence. I may even dare call it a miracle.

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The rub of choosing to see the Divine in my human self is the obvious and interesting point of contrast, and the challenge of navigating the complexities and potential pitfalls of this duality are not lost on me. If I’m being completely honest, which I know no other way to be (honesty is an important core value), the deep sense of devotion, dedication, reverence, and veneration to myself above all, as the word sacred connotes, is a foreign concept to me for a number of different reasons.

I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious or church-going family, and aside from a short-lived stint of curiosity around the traditional Christian God, religion, and the bible when I was seven, I’ve never really worshipped any particular God or deity. The idea of worshipping at the altar of myself on the daily, quite frankly, seems a little bit cray-cray. Yet, by the very same token, it’s likely the exact thing I need at the moment. And on the brink of one year—and a decade, even—ending, and another year and decade about to begin, I’m willing to give sacred a try.

“To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
Alexander Pope

Yes, I’ve realized the error of my past ways (I am still human, after all), and as I continue along my path of learning and evolution, I’ve chosen to forgive myself for my previous misgivings. Standing in the present and looking toward the future, I’ve wiped the slate clean, and I couldn’t be more clear about my desire to invite sacred to a very prominent seat at my table. And as I do the work of crafting my intentions, goals, plans, dreams, and vision for the coming year, I will create sacred rituals and allow myself the luxury of reveling in the feeling of holding myself, sacred.

I am in the process of deciding where to direct my energy and how to spend my time in 2020, getting clear about what feels good and right to my soul. Although I’ve completed similar processes a number of times before, this time around is a bit different as I am guided by the knowledge that I am sacred. From this deep sense of reverence, I am inspired to move forward with both confidence and purpose into the year ahead.

And when I begin to slip back into doubt about who I am and why I am here, as I know I inevitably will, I will say a little prayer and gently remind myself:
I am luminous. I am both a wave in the infinite ocean, and the ocean, itself. I have access to infinite creativity, boundless potential, and the field of infinite consciousness. I am grateful to have my own unique set of gifts and talents that I am meant to share with the world. All of this and so much more is true because I am a spark of the Divine.

The life I have been given is sacred.

Yes, friends, the time has come to honour myself and my life as sacred.

SACRED.

And just in case you haven’t picked up on it yet, this is the word I have chosen for 2020—the year when, no thanks to corrective prescription eyewear, my vision is crystal clear and everything is coming completely into focus.

If you’ve made it all the way through this post, bless you! I know it’s been a long one! Please accept my sincere wish for you to make 2020 your brightest and most beautiful year yet.

And if you’re interested in choosing a word for yourself to guide you in the coming year, or visioning/planning your goals and intentions, or creating a vision board (I’m doing all of these, by the way, because…why not?), I’ve compiled the following list of questions to guide you through the process. By no means is this an exhaustive list. Rather, it is a process of inquiry compiled from a number of sources to be used as a starting point in planning and creating a life of intention and meaning.

Before jumping into the questions on this list, I recommend you first get comfortable and still, whether seated or lying down, and become very quiet. Do a guided meditation or simply focus on your breath for about five minutes, or however long you’re able to focus. Then begin the process of listening deeply to what bubbles up and what your heart is telling you. Grab a journal and a pen and start writing down whatever comes up for you, without editing or censoring yourself. Above all, enjoy the glorious ride, knowing that you can create a life that looks and feels exactly how you want.

Questions for Reflection:
Looking back at the previous year, what worked for you and what didn’t? What were your some of your wins and your losses? What did you learn from these situations?
How did you use the past year to grow (or stay stuck)?
Is there a goal that you didn’t achieve that you still would like to work toward?
What are you grateful for from this past year (or even the past five years)?
What do you want to keep from the previous year, and what do you want to throw away? (consider habits/routines, relationships, material possessions, and more)

Present Day Assessment:
Are there any commitments that no longer feel good and right to you?
What are your core values?
What are your strengths?
What do other people tell you you’re good at? What lights you up and what do you love to do?
In a very general sense, what does feel good and right to you? List it all…
Who are your role models and why? What traits do these individuals possess that you aspire to?

Looking Ahead to the Future:
In which areas of your life would you like to learn and grow in the coming year?
Which areas of your life require more attention and focus?
If you won the lottery tomorrow, and no longer had to work to earn an income, how would you spend your time?
How do you want to make the world a better place?
What does your ideal day look like, from start to finish?
Do you have a bucket list? Create a list of 25 things you’d like to do before you die.
Going into the year ahead, how do you want to feel?
How can you look to align your life with your strengths, core values, likes/dislikes, and how you want to feel?
What do you want your life to look like in three years time? Five years? Ten?
What are three things that are holding you back from accomplishing your wildest dreams? Choose one of these obstacles/impediments and write an action plan to overcome it.

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A Sign

A song played at the end of last week’s episode of This is Us. The lyrics stirred up something from deep inside me, like I’m talking on the level of my soul.

I grabbed my phone and quickly opened the Shazam app. The result came up in about 2.3 seconds: 42 by Mumford & Sons from the band’s 2018 album Delta.

I did a slight double take when I noticed the song was called 42.
Well, that’s very interesting, I thought…

I hit the button to purchase the song on Apple Music without hesitation. And I’ve pretty much been listening to it on repeat ever since.

As much as I love a nice melody or sweet harmony, the soulful strum of an acoustic guitar, the unexpected twist of a bridge, or the dynamic rise of a full orchestral crescendo (special thanks to my college Music Appreciation class for this knowledge and terminology), it’s usually the lyrics, or the message a song imparts, that evoke emotion and make it memorable, keeping me coming back for more.

I’m actually kind of obsessed with song lyrics. Case in point: I recently told a friend how I constantly think in lyrics, like pretty much ALL. THE. TIME. My husband and I have entire conversations in song lyrics, both by text and in person in a call and response fashion. AND I have a secret dream about writing song lyrics. Oops, I guess the cat’s out of the bag now and it’s really not a secret anymore.

The words are layered over chords played on an organ, as the song begins with a feeling reminiscent of a church hymn…
“Where do I turn to when there’s no choice to make? And how do I presume when there’s so much at stake?

Building…
“I was so sure, oh, of it all. And what if I need you in my darkest hour?”

Fear. Uncertainty. Isolation. I have been marinating in all the feelings, and it often feels like a certain type of darkness. So many questions plague my mind, yet so few answers have appeared.

An electric guitar is layered in over the baseline and back beat…
“And what if it turns out there is no other?”

I’ve been doubting myself again lately, in all the majorly important ways, and then I this song comes along, so unexpectedly, as the punctuation mark at the end of my most favourite TV show. Really, the only show I watch religiously each week. And it feels a bit like a hug from an old friend, as if it was played specifically for me.

Quieter, with guitar strings plucked to a staccato beat…
“If this is our last hope, we would see a sign, oh, we would see a sign.”

I’ve scoured the Internet, and I cannot find any indication of why the song is titled 42.

My mind trails off, as I think about how I am building a new foundation—one that’s based on a strong sense of my truest self. As I process and grow through my challenges, I continue to learn I am wise and wonderful and capable of anything I want to do. And I am doing everything in my power to integrate this knowledge into my way of being.

Yet, I find myself needing to learn and relearn these truths. Repeatedly teaching myself as I attempt to believe—fully and completely—in all that I am. I remind myself that I am everything I need, and that all of the answers to my own questions are already within me. I also know that as I follow this path—my yellow brick road to freedom and peace—I will continue to stumble, and to forget, from time to time.

I suppose it’s quite normal, really, for those of us who identify as seekers to look for answers, validation, and signs beyond ourselves. I believe it’s our humanity that makes it so. We are wired for connection to other humans, after all; we are literally programmed to seek out others to whom we can relate and with whom we can share this human experience. It’s a fundamental part of our existence. Through all the joy and the pain, we just need to feel like we’re not doing this life all alone.

Louder again (mezzo forte)…
“If this is our time now
we wanna see a sign, oh,
we would see a sign…”

I am exactly 42 years old (and two months plus a handful of days, if you want to get technical), and dare I say, albeit strange, this song is a very timely reminder. It’s a sign so simple and obvious that I could have easily missed it had I not been paying attention.

It is a true beacon of hope. A clear signal of inspiration. A symbolic guiding light, if you will, giving me the courage and strength I need to continue on.

Everything has been building to this precise moment. It’s a sign that, in spite of how I’ve been feeling, I am not alone. I know I am loved and supported. Life is giving me what I need in each and every moment, and everything is working out for me exactly as it should.

THIS IS MY TIME.

I thank the universe for this message of gentle reassurance, delivered in the best possible way, at the perfect time for me to hear, all while lovingly wrapped in the beautiful poetry of the special lyrics of this song.

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This is also a sign. Clever, isn’t it? Found while on vacation in Paia Town, Maui in 2017.

And, for what it’s worth, I also strongly believe this isn’t just about me. I feel compelled to share this story with you, for the universe works in strange and mysterious ways, and just in case you may also be looking for a sign of hope or reassurance, too.

So let me do a quick recap just in case you might have missed it:
You are strong enough to get through anything life throws your way.
And you are enough, period. Exactly as you are.

xo

Do you believe in signs from the universe? I’d love to hear from you!

Where do I turn to when there’s no choice to make?
And how do I presume when there’s so much at stake?
I was so sure, oh, of it all
But what if I need you in my darkest hour?
And what if it turns out there is no other?
If this is our last hope
We would see a sign, oh
We would see a sign
Well I’ve been running from the ashes we left
Forgiveness begs for itself but how can I forget
When there’s a stain on it all
But what if I need you in my darkest hour?
And what if it turns out there is no other?
We had it all
If this is our time now
We wanna see a sign, oh
We would see a sign
So give us a sign
I need some guiding light
Children of darkness, oh
Songwriters: Benjamin Walter David Lovett / Edward James Milton Dwane / Marcus Oliver Johnstone Mumford / Winston Aubrey Aladar Marshall

Bad Blogger (Made for More)

Hi, I’m Andrea, also known as MyPhareLady. I’m going to make a bold and shocking statement: I might just be the world’s worst blogger, by social media industry standards, anyway.

The following is a list of eight solid reasons to support this claim:

  1. Historically speaking, I haven’t done the best job of posting regularly and consistently.
  2. I don’t have a large following.
  3. Sometimes when I put my stuff out into the world via a blog post, I have absolutely no idea if anyone ever reads, or moreover can relate to what I’ve written.
  4. I don’t receive many comments on my posts.
  5. My blog isn’t driven by a specific product or service. (I’m not trying to sell anything to anyone.)
  6. I don’t put much energy into curating beautifully staged photos with perfect lighting to complement my posts.
  7. I make absolutely no money running my blog. I don’t have companies approaching me about sponsorships and endorsement deals, nor do I accept paid advertising on my site (not that anyone has ever asked me about any of these things…lol).
  8. I don’t really advertise or promote my blog, apart from sharing with family, friends, and on my personal social media feeds.

There. I said it. These are my blogging “failures.” The many reasons I suck at blogging. But I can also say that none of these things had anything to do with me wanting to start a blog in the first place.

So, the next (and most obvious) question is, if you’re not doing it to make money, why bother having a blog, right?

Well, the reason I started this blog was simple: because it originated with a tiny whisper from my heart. And although this small voice from within was barely audible, I was incapable of ignoring it. Well, I suppose I did try for a while, but it was persistent and just kept getting louder and louder, so I eventually caved to its demands.

I couldn’t make much sense of it at the time, but I knew I must honour the deep longing to share my writing with an audience, even through my uncertainty and fear. There was a reason for listening to the whispers of my heart that I couldn’t comprehend then, nor am I even sure I understand now—to not only take that leap of faith into the world of creative self-expression, but also to make myself vulnerable to a vast Interweb of strangers at the same time.

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Switching gears—and please bear with me as I promise to bring these thoughts full circle by the end of this post—I recently discovered an author, momprepreneur, and all-around magical unicorn of a woman by the name of Ms. Rachel Hollis. Seriously, this woman was not even on my radar two months ago, but a friend invited me to go see the final screening of her documentary, Made for More, in our city in August. I jumped at the chance (because, who doesn’t want a night out with a girlfriend?), and I was pleasantly surprised to learn how authentic, raw, and vulnerable she is, not to mention her determination to inspire and uplift other women is unstoppable. Needless to say I found the documentary (and Rachel) to be refreshing and inspirational in every possible way.

I’ve since started following all of her social media, devoured her book, Girl, Wash Your Face, and, in an effort to end 2018 with strength, intention, clarity, and grace, have been participating in her #last90days challenge. In the relatively short time I’ve known of Rachel Hollis, I’ve received so much inspiration from her work and the simple truths she has made it her mission to share. Among these are the importance of: being completely and unapologetically yourself; maintaining a growth mindset; going all in, as in being 100% invested in your goals (still working on this one); paying no mind to other people’s opinions; and, last but certainly not least, that all women deserve to belong and be supported by community.

Discovering Rachel Hollis has reminded me about what’s really important to me, what’s important in life, and also why I started this blog in the first place. For me, it was never about making money and having a billion subscribers. Rather, it was always supposed to be an online space dedicated to authenticity, growth, community, and connection.

Thanks in large part to Rachel’s wisdom and teachings, I’m able to see it all so much more clearly now: my passion, and ultimately my goal for this blog, is to bring women together in the spirit of community to create dialogue around topics that matter. This is a vehicle for sharing my thoughts, opinions, and experiences, and using them as a catalyst or starting point for conversations with other women. It’s a way for me to use my voice for good, to help others on a parallel or intersecting path—to build a sisterhood of like-minded souls who, just like me, are seeking a community in which love, support, and kindness reign supreme.

Even though I know all too well the metrics that define a successful blogger, and even though I admittedly fall way short of these metrics on all accounts, I cannot shake the feeling that I must continue to forge ahead. I must keep writing. I must keep sharing the pieces of myself and my life experiences I feel called to share. I must do so, not because I’m seeking fame or notoriety, but because this blog is here for a reason, and dare I say I think it’s supposed to serve a far greater purpose than anything that can be defined solely by monetization or subscriber statistics.

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And perhaps most important of all, this blog has taught me, time and time again, that when my heart speaks, what it’s telling me is not up for negotiation. I MUST listen. And if listening to my heart and following my dreams in spite of the evidence that’s stacked against me means I’m the worst blogger out there, I suppose I’m alright with that.

And I’m pretty sure that it’s all because I’m learning (and maybe even starting to believe) that I am made for more.

With all my love,
MyPhareLady
xo

WAIT! Don’t go yet…just one more really IMPORTANT thing:
I want to know what big dreams and goals are you working on, and more importantly, what are you doing to get through the challenges and push past the setbacks you encounter along the way? Are you working toward something that feels so completely out of reach, or even impossible, that you often think about giving up, but choose to keep going anyway?
I’d really love to hear from you. Let’s get this conversation started…drop me a line in the comments below!

Brisk Walk

Yesterday, late in the afternoon, I bundled myself up in warm layers and ventured outside, no specific destination in mind. Just the intention to get outside and go for a walk.

It’s been quite cold in my neck of the woods this past week, which actually made it feel more like a month (some might even argue this past frozen week has felt like a year in and of itself). But the mercury had climbed enough yesterday afternoon to make it humanly possible to go outside, with plenty of extra clothing to pad my flesh against the harsh sting of the cold, of course.

I had been longing to be outside, to breathe the fresh, crisp air into my lungs. And so I walked, putting one foot in front of the other, focusing on my breath, and feeling the steady beat of my heart inside my chest. I walked. At some point, each of my footsteps  naturally and effortlessly synchronized with an inhale or an exhale. I walked in perfect rhythm and harmony with myself, each step a sacred partnership of movement and breath.

Not tiptoeing and not sauntering. Neither crawling nor running.
I walked, briskly and with intention, guided by inspiration and my intuition.

Call it symbolism or metaphor if you like, but I prefer to think of it as my new reality.

Intention – The deliberate approach I am consciously choosing for myself, to be all in for my own life. I like to think of intention as the opposite end of the spectrum from chance and coincidence. Sure, there’s always room for a little spontaneity, but I plan to begin each day with a strong intention to guide me. 

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Intuition – Trusting the quiet whispers from my heart and my soul, even when they don’t make sense. I am learning how it really is that simple. Intuition is like a muscle: the more you listen, the more you hear. I am listening.

Inspiration – Allowing the world’s beauty, emotion, and passion to fill my heart so full that I have no choice but to create something just as beautiful myself, as a way to express my gratitude and appreciation for all that is. To live an inspiring and inspiration-filled life, and maybe even to inspire others along the way.

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Taking in the first few deep breaths of crisp winter air as I walked made my nose run and cheeks rosy, but it also brought warmth and brightness to my soul. And perhaps the most beautiful thing of all is that I really don’t know where any of this is going, or where I’m going. But what’s more important is how, through willingness and an open heart, I’m learning to practice the art of surrender and to trust my journey.

I am grateful for the New Year that is now upon us; for the perspective and the clean slate it affords. Even if all of this is just a silly notion generated by my overactive imagination, it feels real. I am realizing there is an untapped energy source that has been resting dormant inside me. A swirl of ideas are fueling a renewed sense of curiosity, and a zest for experiencing the fullness of life is starting to take shape.

My path is not clear, and I really have no idea where I’m going. I suppose it’s possible, and even quite likely, that I could take a wrong turn. In fact, I could get very lost. I could get it all wrong and make terrible mistakes along the way. I could continue to be paralyzed—stuck in place—frozen by all-consuming fear. Or, I could walk on in spite of the obvious challenges and risks.

I choose to walk forward, one bold step at a time, along with my three faithful companions: intuition, inspiration, and intention.

There’s no way of knowing for sure what this year has in store, but I’m excited to take the walk.

 

What are you excited for in 2018? I’d love to connect with you! Drop me a line and let’s chat about what dreams and schemes you’re cooking up for the future.

 

New York City: An Inspirational Tale

Skating at Rockefeller Center with my honey.

Skating at Rockefeller Center with my honey.

I am completely in awe of how being in a place for just a few days can have such an impact on me. It’s tough to describe the feeling, but I left New York City feeling somehow different than when I arrived. I am at once exhausted yet energized, and even more in love with the city than I was after my last visit over 10 years ago.

For me, part of the the magic of NYC is found in its inherent contrasts: the visible extremes of rich and poor; the ever present underlying theme of struggle and triumph; and the prevalence of despair set against a backdrop of constant hope.

The people are, without a doubt, one of the city’s greatest attributes. I can’t help but marvel at their gritty determination and sheer awesomeness. It’s evident it must take a tough skin to live—and thrive—in NYC, yet most of the people we encountered didn’t seem to be too hardened by living there. Everyone we came across—from retail and hotel staff to people on the street—was friendly and helpful.

For those with a hearty appetite, one of the best things about New York is the food. The city is a mecca of multiculturalism, and nowhere is this more evident than in its culinary offerings. Some of the highlights for me were the poppy seed ‘Pick your Bagel’ with lox and house made cream cheese, thin crust pizza from Lombardi’s, and chicken eggplant rollotini with penne and fresh tomato sauce from 44SW Italian Eatery. The mussels and frites from Brasserie La Hasse were also amazing!

No trip to NYC would be complete without taking in at least one show on Broadway, and we were lucky enough to see two in our short four-day trip. The first was Rock of Ages. My husband and I actually went on a date to see the movie when it was released a few years back, so we were already familiar with the story and new it would be right up our alley. Also, it’s one of the few shows that plays on Sunday evenings and we lucked out getting half-price tickets from TKTS on the Square the day of the show. Wahoo! The plot strayed from the movie version a little, at the same time offering even more electrically charged raunchiness and hilarity. It also included a couple of unexpected songs in the second act that weren’t in the movie. All in all, Rock of Ages is a great show and tons of fun to take in.

Based on the recommendation of nearly everyone we talked to, the second show we saw was Kinky Boots. Let me just say this was the greatest show I’ve ever seen, bar none. Lola is the drag queen and central character of the story about a struggling mens’ shoe factory in England at the turn of the century. Played by Billy Porter, this performance earned him a Tony in 2013 and it’s not hard to see why, it was spot-on. With a score by Cindy Lauper, phenomenal supporting cast, and wonderful message of accepting others and being yourself, Kinky Boots was awesome!

Seeing the amazing Jimmy Fallon during the second week of his new Tonight Show format was another major highlight. I’ve always regarded Fallon as extremely talented, and getting to see his live show only served to reinforce my belief. While we were in the neighbourhood for the live taping of the show, I made my husband’s year by asking if we could go skating at Rockefeller Center. (He’s a good, hockey-loving Canadian boy, and we had never been skating together in the nearly 20 years we’ve been a couple.) Aside from the steep price tag for our two admission tickets and skate rental fees, I’m glad we had this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I had a blast, and dare I say may have even redeemed myself as an adequate skater —both in my husband’s eyes and as a good Canadian girl.

I find the history and architecture of NYC absolutely fascinating. I could literally walk around for days just gawking at buildings—admiring the architectural details, and sheer magnificence of it all. I particularly fell in love with SoHo’s quaint buildings and adorable cobblestone streets. The charm had me caught up in a daydream, losing myself in a fantasy of becoming a writer and spending countless days in coffee shops.

By far, the greatest gift of our trip to NYC is the indescribable feeling of change it sparked in me. We stayed in an adorable boutique hotel, The Muse, and the city itself is beyond amusing. I may even go as far as to say New York has been a muse for me. Irrefutably, it stirred something in me. The tiniest spark seems to have ignited a little fire in my belly, and I have the sensation of a dormant dream being awakened.

Maybe it’s the symbolism as a place where dreams are born and made. Or maybe it’s the people—so many of whom have had to overcome all kinds of adversity, and others who continue fight every single day for the chance to do what they love. I’ve noticed I now have a slightly different view of life and many new ideas are starting to bubble up to the surface. Is this what they call inspiration? Maybe.

Whatever you call it, I feel as though the stories of my heart, which have been locked away deep down inside for so long I’d almost forgotten were there, are now trying to break free. And so I’d like to thank you, New York City, from the bottom of my heart, for loosening the shackles and helping me see a whole new world of possibility. I am forever grateful we had the chance to meet once again, and I sincerely hope to return to you before another 10 years pass.

Until next time.