Thoughts & Tips For October 2020

Wood-oct-2020This photo is part of my Wood Collection.  Also check out  my Nature Collection!

CURRENT EVENTS

We are AOK on the COVD-19 front.  We continue to be vigilant and focused: #wear_a_mask; #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, and #stay_home_if_sick.  

My candidate for President of the United States in 2020 continues to be Jo Jorgensen. I think she would have been great in the 1st debate (#letherspeak, #letherdebate), but that didn't happen.  I think the Presidential Debates need to move back to a non-partisan group like League of Women Voters as the Presidential Debate Commission is just run by the Republican & Democratic parties with no interest in real republican democracy and a free marketplace of ideas.

Theoaks1Christy and I had a wonderful opportunity to do a self-guided retreat with COVID-19 protections at The Oaks the last weekend in September. It was an amazing weekend -- where we were able to relax, connect, and grow. Here are some photos of the amazing facilities and grounds.  And here are some pictures of nature from around the area.  Highly recommended!  If you have any questions, then please let me know.

Theoaks2

I also managed to record the event bell on the last day.  There are two versions.  One with little changes from the original recording:

And another where I tried to clean up the audio a little bit:

OTHER THINGS THAT ARE GOING WELL

  • The PodCraft Beer Show continues to put out weekly shows.  It is a lot of fun.
  • Still playing D&D. It is also a lot of fun.
  • I taught a socially distanced -- with additional COVID-19 protections -- Getting Things Done (GTD) class at work in September.  It went pretty well.  Next up is a virtual GTD class in early October.  That is going to be a learning experience!

EXPERIMENTING WITH MEDITATION

I'm still enjoying my emerging meditation practice. I got a couple of emails about my meditation post from last month, and the benefits others have had with meditation. The Oak app that I have been using to help me build out my practice has three main functions  (HOME, COURSES, GROWTH):

Oak1

Under the HOME you will see (I use the Meditate > Unguided):

Oak3

And under COURSES you will see (at the time of this post) just one available course (but more are planned):

Oak2

If you press on GROWTH you will see your personal tracker on how you are doing by day.  I can see my current streak and my longest streak for Meditate > Unguided since this the only one I am using at this time.  It is pretty simple and well designed.  I recommend it if you are looking for something to experiment with.

TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS

My favorite audio editing program is still the open-source application Audacity.  It works on Macs, Windows, and Linux.

The two days a week I am riding my bike with a stationary-trainer on our backyard porch, I am nearly always watching videos from this You Tube channel Indoor Cycling Videos. They are excellent!

For the last month or so, I have been trying to look at my Getting Things Done (GTD) Next Action lists and my Projects list as something doable in the next 7 days.  So far, I've seen more throughput in completing more projects and tasks.  Items that are outside of 7 days are moved to the Later list in Nirvana for my personal system, and a similar Next Actions (Later) list in Microsoft Outlook Tasks for my work system.  These Later lists are then reviewed using  a lens of -- "is this doable in a month" -- and if the answer is "No", then the item moves to Someday/Maybe.  This has definitely increased the number of "Someday/Maybe" items, but that has been manageable since I am reviewing them once a week during my Weekly Review.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

“Having resentment against someone is like drinking poison and thinking it will kill your enemy.” ― Nelson Mandela


Thoughts & Tips For September 2020

Paris-woodPhoto by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

No big change for us on the COVD-19 front.  We continue to be vigilant and focused: #wear_a_mask; #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, and #stay_home_if_sick.  The good news is that Christy's school as been able to go back to teaching kids in person with a host of safe guards which is a blessing and an answer to prayer.

Tour de France 2020. Who doesn't want to watch 4 to 5 hours nearly every day during September seeing some of the best athletes in the world do what most people would consider completely impossible? I am all in. I am watching via NBC Sports via YouTube TV.

Screenshot 2020-09-07 at 19.33.32

My candidate for President of the United States in 2020 is Jo Jorgensen (#letherspeak, #letherdebate). While I don't agree with everything she is advocating, she is in my humble opinion the best option for a President Of The United States who believes in and will fight for:

  • right to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness
  • right to keep & bear arms
  • right to live where you choose & how you chose
  • right to privacy
  • right to worship how, when, & where you choose
  • right to be treated equally under the law

OTHER THINGS THAT ARE GOING WELL

  • The PodCraft Beer Show just had episode 7 and next week is episode 8. I have had some super spectacular craft beers that have blown my palette away.  As a craft beer fan I have actually realized how much I've missed by not paying attention to the special releases that many breweries do and I had no clue how amazing they are.
  • I am still playing D&D every week or so with friends from high school.  It is frankly one of the best unattended consequences of COVID-19 for me.
  • I am still loving my water-proof MP3 player -- AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz.
  • We were able to camp at San Elijo State Beach in August which was awesome ...

Beach-2020

EXPERIMENTING WITH MEDITATION

The book "10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found a Self-Help That Actually Works"
By: Dan Harris (#meditation) got me to do a little experiment over the last month since finishing the book. I've been doing five minutes of unguided meditation using the Apple iOS app Oak from Kevin Rose before I stretch in the morning.  Nothing bad has happened (Ha Ha!) I actually now think a little "mind exercise" is a good thing. My monkey mind is strong! More updates as time goes on.

Screenshot 2020-09-07 at 20.33.57

If you are interested in guided meditations, then the only examples I've had experience with are Mike Foster's Guided Meditations. The Oak app has them but I haven't used them before.

TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS

I have just started using this new Google Chrome browser feature for organizing tabs.  So far it is an awesome new feature.

This what I've been listening to on Audible (you can try Audible for free for 30-days and get two free books if you want). Over the last month:

I am currently doing all my Audible listening on my cell phone Samsung Galaxy S10+.

I also managed to finish a few Kindle books (I am currently using a Kindle Paperwhite for nearly all my reading):

One of my "newer" (I've heard in the past that this isn't a word, but I still use it all the time) favorite bands is Lo Moon.  They opened last year for several shows that the CHVRCHES did, and I'm super impressed with them.  I recently bought their album Lo Moon on Amazon so I could load the MP3s on my AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz  as I really wanted to listen to them while swimming.  Other specific albums I listen to frequently while swimming are: CHVRCHES (Bones of What You Believe, Every Open Eye, Love Is Dead) and Maggie Rogers (Heard It In A Past Life).  I will also drag a lot of 80s New Wave to a folder for 'random' mode listening.

Def Con (the yearly hacker conference I've been going to since #18) was completely virtual this year.  A ton of solid cybersecurity content is readily available if you are interested.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"We are what we repeatedly do, therefore, excellence is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle


Thoughts & Tips for August 2020

Wood-Aug-2020Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

We are still health on the COVD-19 front.  We continue to be vigilant and focused: #wear_a_mask; #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, and #stay_home_if_sick.

ReopeningHELPING LAUNCH A NEW PODCAST

Square Graphic 300 x 300 px - Edited
Two friends Chris & Charlie have started a new podcast about craft beer with my help. You may think I know a lot about beer, but they know a ton more than I do. I learn something new everytime we record a show. The PodCraft Beer Show is currently at episode two, and the third episode should be out on August 3, 2020. I am primarily focused on audio recording, production, editing, and digital distribution.  In addition, I am also helping in setting up some of the services for website development, social media, and other backend stuff. Lots of fun!

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

With over a month of almost daily hands-on testing, I am now a big fan of the AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz. The bone conducting technology does take a little bit of time to get use to, but once I did, I like not having the headphone part in my ear even with the great headphones I had before. The Xtrainerz is a pretty straight forward MP3 player, basically you load files into folders and you can play the folder in order or shuffle them.  At the top level you can also shuffle or play the folders in order.  All in all I recommend them if you are swimming a lot, and want to listen to music while you swim.

Xtrainerz Black Diamond

When I am not swimming, I have been listening to more Audible lately than podcasts.  My main focus is plowing through books that I bought in the past, but have never listened to. You can try Audible for free for 30-days and get two free books if you want. Over the last month:

D&D

Corkin-3D-model-graphic
My Halfling Fighter In 3D!

Dungeons & Dragons continues to be a great new hobby (my personal blessing from CV-19), and it is awesome to be playing with friends from high school on a regular basis. The main physical books that I bought were the: DM Guide, Player Guide, Monster Manual, and DM Screen.  The tools we are using to play online include: Zoom/Discord (for video collaboration), Beyond D&D, (for character sheets & DM resources), and Roll20 (for sharing maps, combat, etc).  Two of my favorite mapping tools are: Inkarnate (for world, geographic, city, and town mapping) and Dungeon Scrawl (for dungeons, buildings, combat level maps, etc).  If you want a demo, then let me know.

OTHER TOPICS

  • My in-person David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) classes at work for August and September are still technically on the calendar, but I'm not confident I'll be able teach them with us still being on maximum telework. I am starting to scope out a Virtual GTD Training Class using Adobe Connect. (Editorial Opinion: I hope Adobe got the memo that Flash (.swf) is dead.  Just get with the program please.)
  • Related to GTD and the above mention of re-reading of "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg, I recently took for work the Power Of Habit class from Vital Smarts.  I am still unpacking the training and will report more in the future.
  • My music listening has been all over the board recently.  One band that continues to impress me is Lo Moon. I was introduced to them as the opening band for Chvrches in San Diego last fall.  I call them the Talk Talk of today. They are on heavy rotation. Music for the soul.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"The more control you have over your attention, the more control you have over your future." - James Clear


Thoughts & Tips For July 2020

Wood-july2020Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

On the health front -- all continues to be AOK with regards to COVD-19 for us and our immediate families.  We continue to be vigilant and focused:

  • #wear_a_mask,
  • #wash_your_hands,
  • #social_distance, and
  • #stay_home_if_sick.

La_Mesa_Walls_Project_Masks_Destruction_With_Art

Related to #blacklivesmatter, and increasing social justice & ending racism, I do like this new YouTube show Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man

Screenshot 2020-07-12 at 13.20.25

I am learning a lot, and working on a bunch mental changes as I become aware of them.

CAMPING

We recently did some camping in the local mountains near Julian in a San Diego County park called William Heise County Park.

2020-06-15 17.24.07-COLLAGEIt was a lot of fun and relaxing.  We had some good food also:

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Wynola Pizza & Bristo
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Julian Beer Company

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

  • I am trying out these bone-conducting water proof headphones for swimming -- AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz -- so far I like them a great deal.  More updates as I get more use out of them.
  • I recently listed to three Audible books that were "free" for being an Audible Subscriber.  If you aren't an Audible Subscriber, the price on these are pretty reasonable:
    1. "How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps" by Andrew Rowe.  This is a fun book about taking on (from a D&D perspective) a very important quest, but doing it in a not so traditional way. 
    2. "Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World" by Michael Pollan.  A great detailed account of how caffeine came into the modern world and the impact caffeine has had via coffee, tea, and now a ton of other drinks.  I learned a lot, but it didn't change my caffeine consumption much.  I have over the years reduced my caffeine use later in the day.  I use to drink a soda late in the day on the way home from work.  That stopped several years ago.  Then I stopped consuming caffeine by 3 pm. And after this book I moved that back to 2 pm without much trouble, and much better sleep.  Maybe 1 pm should be the next experiment?!?
    3. "I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships" by Michael S. Sorensen. This is an excellent book, especially right now with #blacklivesmatter, and the conversations happening around racism, justice, inequality, and opportunity.  The listening skills outlined in this book are simple and easy to learn.  If you want to listen better, then I highly recommend this book.
  • If you are running Windows 10 then I strongly encourage you to buy a 16-GB USB Flash Drive, and follow these recommendations to make a recovery drive.

OTHER TOPICS

  • My in-person David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) classes for July and August are moving to August and September respectively. We are still at maximum telework at work and being onsite is limited to mission essential tasking. I did finally get access to the digital GTD online course content per some licenses we bought for work. My next step is review that material, and then determine when and with what collaboration tool-suite to run a pilot.
  • I am still playing a good amount Dungeons & Dragons with some friends online.  The main books that I bought were the: DM Guide, Player Guide, Monster Manual, and DM Screen.  The tools we are using to play online include: Zoom/Discord (for video collaboration), Beyond D&D, (for character sheets & DM resources) and Roll20 (for sharing maps, combat, etc).  Two of my favorite mapping tools are: Inkarnate (for world, geographic, city, and town mapping) and Dungeon Scrawl (for dungeons, buildings, combat level maps, etc).  If you want a demo, then let me know.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

We all have choices to be made ... attributes that matter ...

Chose Discipline over Weakness
Chose Fortitude over Rashness
Chose Courage over Cowardice
Chose Clearheadedness over Disorganization
Chose Selflessness over Selfishness
Chose Sacrifice over Cowardice

Source: "The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom" for June 13, 2020.


Thoughts & Tips For May 2020

DSC01811Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

COVID-19

Basically all is well with us since the last update. Everyone is healthy. Maximum telework. Virtual school. Social distancing. Major home bodies with home projects in full swing. And a good amount of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) as an escape vice binge watching shows.

WORKING OUT

I am enjoying my two mornings a week (Tue & Thu) riding this bike trainer while watching YouTube cycling videos using this iPad stand, and listening to audio books. I am almost done re-listening to all the Mark Greaney's Gray Man Series books.

One thing I really miss is swimming at the YMCA.  I have been tempted to put on my tri-wetsuit to swim mini-laps in our pool, but I haven't pulled the trigger. They just opened up the beaches and ocean in San Diego this weekend so maybe a swim in the ocean is going to happen sooner than later.

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

SOME MUSIC RECOMMENDATIONS

I have been listening to a lot more music recently.  Here are some suggestions from YouTube:

OTHER TOPICS

  • I have had to postponed by May David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) class at work until July.  The next class is scheduled for the middle of June, however if we still have strict social distancing rules in place at work then I am probably going to have to postpone that one also.  I am still working on getting permission to teach virtually but that has been slow going.
  • Playing Dungeons & Dragons has been super fun and one of the best things that I hopes continues after COVID-19.  The main books that I bought were the: DM Guide, Player Guide, Monster Manual, and DM Screen.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"There's more than one way to look at a problem, and they may all be right." - Norman Schwarzkopf


Gray Man Series - Major Book Recommendation

Screenshot 2020-05-10 at 15.23.41I am a big fan of Mark Greaney's Gray Man Series.

I have consumed all of them using Audible.

These are the books in order (I do recommend listening or reading in order if you can. However, they do stand alone if want to listen or read them out of order).:

  1. The Gray Man
  2. On Target
  3. Ballistic
  4. Dead Eye
  5. Back Blast
  6. Gunmetal Gray
  7. Agent In Place
  8. Mission Critical
  9. One Minute Out

Here are several reasons why I enjoy them:

  • Court has a moral compass.
  • The moral compass gets him in all sorts of unintended consequences.
  • It is action packed.
  • It is fast moving.
  • The story telling is exceptional.
  • The locations are well researched.
  • I like action spy/espionage/intelligence/special operations/covert/clandestine/etc. stories.

Thoughts & Tips for April 2020

Wood-april-2020Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CHANGE OF PLANS?!?

Since last months update, the world has really changed!

COVID-19 has interrupted all of us in an unprecedented level, and caused us all to pivot, change, and adapt to a new normal.

My pivot and those around me seem to be headed in the right direction.  We are all healthy.  I am able to telework 95% of the time.  Christy is teleworking full-time, and Conrad & Spencer are doing all their college classes online.  Carson is supposed to start back to high-school online around April 20th.

My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one, lost their job, or are currently sick. Peace be with you! If you need anything from me (including prayers), then please let me know.

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

REPEAT FROM LAST MONTH -- Some great tips here on how to correctly wash your hands! [REDDIT]

This video - A Trip Through New York City in 1911 (on YouTube) - is interesting to watch.

I have found what I think is a unique feature in the Apple Clock iOS application.  Instead of a alarm or an alert that happens after a timer is finished, you can scroll all the way down the list of alarms, and choose the option to 'stop playing audio.'  This is cool because if you start a timer and then a music playlist, you will know when your time is done when your iPad or iPhone stops playing music.  Very cool for early morning workouts!

Speaking about workouts.  With the local YMCAs closed I haven't been able to swim laps, so I moved to biking using this trainer that I picked up when it looked like the YMCA was going to close in early March.  I also got this iPad stand for watching cycling videos on YouTube while stationary riding in the morning before telework.  This is only two days a week (usually Tue and Thu), the other days I am running or actually biking in the real world (usually on Sun).  I really miss swimming and might need to get my tri-wetsuit on and just swim around in the backyard pool sooner than later.

SOME OF THE STUFF I THOUGHT I'D BE DOING BUT ARE NOT DOING NOW

  • I have had to postponed by April David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) class at work until June.  May is still on the books but time will tell.  The DC course I was planning also for April is TBD.   I am working getting permission to teach virtually but that is still in the works.
  • We weren't able to see John Lloyd Young or go to Joshua Tree.
  • Carson and Christy both had very small family birthday parties.

THINGS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO

  • On April 9th, Christy and I will be celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary.  I got the better part of this deal!
  • More Dungeons & Dragons!  Yes back to some D&D! We are playing at home with me being Dungeon Master (DM) with Christy, Carson, and Spencer adventuring.  And I've re-connected with some great friends from high school, and we are going to start playing online.  It should be very fun.  I did go all in though and buy the latest books & gear: DM Guide, Player Guide, Monster Manual, and DM Screen.
  • I recently picked up a Rocketbook re-usable notebook for my daily journaling.  I mostly did it because I'd like to digital archive them for reflection later.  And I do like journaling with a pen than typing in a computer.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is." - Albert Einstein


Tom Peters - Recession46: Forty-six 'Secrets' and 'Clever Strategies' For Dealing with the Recession of 2008

I recent got an email from Tom Peters:

Tom Peter's Email Header

The email listed his 46 secrets & strategies he recommend during the 2008 financial crisis.  I found a link to the blog article, but when you go there the PDF down link isn't working (hopefully it will get fixed soon).

So meanwhile here they are:

Forty-Six Strategies for Dealing with Gut-wrenching Downturns from Tom Peters:

  1. You come to work earlier.
  2. You leave work later.
  3. You work harder.
  4. You may well work for less; and, if so, you adapt to the untoward circumstances with a smile—even if it kills you inside.
  5. You volunteer to do more.
  6. You dig deep, deeper, deepest—and always bring a good attitude to work.
  7. You fake it if your good attitude flags.
  8. You literally practice your "stage face" in the mirror each morning, and in the loo mid-morning.
  9. You give new meaning to the idea and intensive practice of "visible management."
  10. You take better than usual care of yourself and encourage others to do the same— physical well-being significantly impacts mental well-being and response to stress.
  11. You shrug off shit that flows downhill in your direction—buy a shovel or a "pre- worn" raincoat on eBay.
  12. You try to forget about the "good old days"—nostalgia is self-destructive. (And boring.)
  13. You buck yourself up with the thought that "this too shall pass," but then remind yourself that it might not pass anytime soon; and so you rededicate yourself to making the absolute best of what you have now—character is determined, virtually in full, by one's reaction to adverse circumstances.
  14. You work the phones and then work the phones some more—and stay in touch with, and on the mind of, positively everyone.
  15. You frequently invent breaks from routine, including "weird" ones—"change-ups" prevent wallowing in despair and bring a fresh perspective.
  16. You eschew all forms of personal excess.
  17. You simplify.
  18. You sweat the details as never before.
  19. You sweat the details as never before.
  20. You sweat the details as never before.
  21. You raise to the sky and maintain—at all costs—the Standards of Excellence by which you unfailingly and unflinchingly evaluate your own performance.
  22. You are maniacal when it comes to responding to even the slightest screw-up.
  23. You find ways to be around young people and to keep young people around—they are less likely to be members of the "sky is falling" school. (Naïveté can be a blessing.)
  24. You learn new tricks of your trade.
  25. You pass old tricks of the trade on to others—mentoring matters now more than ever.
  26. You invest heavily in your Internet-Twitter-Facebook-"cloud"-computing skills.
  27. You remind yourself, daily, that this is not just something to be "gotten through"—it is the Final Exam of Competence, of Character, and, even if you're not a boss, of Leadership. (People often make great leaps in a short period during difficult times.)
  28. You network like a demon.
  29. You network like a demon inside the company—get to know more of the folks who "do the real work," and who can be your most dependable allies when it comes to getting things done seamlessly and fast.
  30. You network like a demon outside the company—get to know more of the folks "down the line," who "do the real work" in vendor customer outfits. (They can become, and will become, your most avid allies and champions.)
  31. You offer thanks to others by the truckload if good things happen—and take the heat if bad things happen.
  32. You behave kindly, but you don't sugarcoat or hide the truth—humans are startlingly resilient, and rumors are the real spirit-killers.
  33. You treat small successes as if they were World Cup victories—and celebrate and commend people accordingly.
  34. You shrug off the losses (ignoring what's going on in your tummy), and get back on the horse and immediately try again.
  35. You avoid negative people to the extent you can—pollution kills.
  36. You read the riot act to the gloom-sprayers, once avoiding them becomes impossible. (Gloom is the ultimate "weapon of mass destruction" in tough times.
  37. You give new meaning to the word "thoughtful."
  38. You don't put limits on the budget for flowers—"bright and colorful" works marvels.
  39. You redouble and re-triple your efforts to "walk in your customer's shoes." (Especially if the shoes smell.)
  40. You mind your manners—and accept others' lack of manners in the face of their strains.
  41. You are kind to all mankind.
  42. You keep your shoes shined.
  43. You leave the blame game at the office door.
  44. You call out, in no uncertain terms, those who continue to play the "office politics" game.
  45. You become a paragon of personal accountability.
  46. And then you pray.

Thoughts & Tips For March 2020

WHAT'S BEEN GOING ON?

I did do a Sprint Triathlon hosted by the UCSD Triton Triathlon Team on Feb. 16, 2020.   It was tough but good fun:

Sprint Tri PhotosFeb. 16 was also my son Conrad's 21st birthday.  We had a good time celebrating:

Conrad B-Day

I've also enjoyed a few great IPA-ish beers this month. Here are some recommendations:

Some Awesome Bitter Beers

Thanks to one more day in February (aka the 29th), I was able to get our 2019 taxes done, and see one of our favorite 80s cover band -- Resurrection Radio at the awesome Helix Brewing Co. in La Mesa, CA. This is a setlist from a previous show.

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

One of my favorite authors -- Mark Greaney -- was in town on Feb. 18th promoting his new book "One Minute Out" (this is book #9 of the Gray Man series) at Warwick's in La Jolla.  It is highly recommended this new book and the overall series in general. Here is a picture from that evening:

Mark G Speaking About His New Book

Last month I mentioned that my new HP PC only has USB 3.0 ports on the front of the computer.  I ended up getting this 4-port HUB so I could move more of the high-speed connections back behind the computer.  So far it is working out pretty well.

Some great tips here on how to correctly wash your hands! [REDDIT]

FUTURE STUFF THAT I AM EXCITED ABOUT

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

“Each moment is a place you’ve never been.” — Mark Strand