ABC Reads January

This year I am participating in the ABC Reads Challenge that is being hosted by Mia and Andrea. The goal is to read a book that begins with each letter in the alphabet by the end of the year. The first one to finish gets a prize!!!  Here is what I have read so far this year.

Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline
This was my first book of the year and my first book with the book club that I'm in - The Literary Trio. I absolutely loved this book. Once I got into the story I couldn't put it down. It follows the life of Vivian Daly from the time her family arrives in New York from Ireland all the way through her old age. We also meet Molly, a seventeen year old girl in the foster system.  The way that Kline interweaves these two lives together if phenomenal. I highly recommend it.  My Review Here

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Disney Little Golden Book
This lovely little book was a Christmas present from a dear friend. I really loved this and I actually related to it so much!

The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith
Robert Galbraith is actually JK Rowling and this book was fantastic! It is the first book in a crime drama series about Private Detective Cormoran Strike. It was a little slow to start, but once we got into the nitty-gritty I couldn't put it down. I totally didn't see it coming at the end. JK Rowling has created a great character with Strike and I can't wait to read the next one.

Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them, by Newt Scamander
Yay for finding this randomly at Target :)  I grabbed it up right away. Ever since I found out they were making the movie based on this book I had to read it. It's mostly an encyclopedia of all of the Fantastic Beasts.  Some of them are super icky too! I'm curious to see how many of these beasts we'll get to see in the movie.

You can keep up with what I'm reading on Goodreads or here on my Book Page.

Weekly Goals & #SaveMyHeart Update {2}

I weighed on Friday morning and was at 155.4 which is a 1.4 pound weight loss.  Not too bad for my first week.  I went to the gym Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday - doing cardio all three days.  I wasn't very good about keeping track of my food (writing it down), but I've also been really hard on myself too.

Wednesday was a very frustrating day at work from beginning to end. I used that as an excuse to eat poorly.  I tend to go to these extremes where I allow myself all or nothing when it comes to food. Moderation Moderation Moderation...I'm so bad at it, but it's my own fault.  I have to remember that I have the ability to make choices.  That is an amazing thing to have - the ability to make choices.  If only everyone was so lucky.  I'm going to take this one week at a day at a time.

1. wear my fitbit every day - aim for 7,500 steps at least
2. hit the gym 5 times - between Saturday (1/30) and Friday (2/5)
3. eat breakfast each morning - it all starts here for me
4. drink 78oz of water every day - i've heard you should drink half of your body weight in ounces

start small...with small steps!

Also, I'm hosting a #LeoDiCaprioThon in honor of his 2016 Oscar nomination for The Revenant. It all begins Wednesday, February 3rd with Catch Me If You Can.

Friday Feelings

I am having one of those days. I've had one of those weeks. I'm so ready for the week to be over. My mentor and I had a 'come to Jesus' talk...again...this week. I keep falling into old emotional habits that lead to my 'excuses' for eating poorly, not working out, etc etc etc. My mentor has given me some homework to do and that's going to be a big focus for my weekend.

When my mind over runs with thoughts that take up waaaay too much space in my head (coz the other person is most likely not wasting their time thinking about me) I turn to You Tube to make me laugh.

Tom Cruise lip syncing is amazing and makes me so happy :)

The Rock lip syncing to Shake It Off equally amazing! Such a big guy singing to such a tiny voice!

Then there is my anthem right now...Fight Song. This song totally speaks to me right now. I blast it in the radio and sing at the top of my lungs!


Meet My Babies

If you follow me on Instagram, then you probably see all of the pictures I post of my little kittens. I adopted them on December 1st when they were just 10 weeks old and it was the best decision I ever made. I would like to formally introduce you to Cosima and Helena.

You're probably wondering where their names came from. I knew that I was adopting sisters from the start and I wanted to name them something fun. I thought about Themla and Louise at first, but then decided that I wanted sister names. I thought about Anna and Elsa from Frozen, the March sisters from Little Women, and so on and so forth. I even googled 'sisters in fiction.'  I was talking to my mom about it via text message when she texted me "sestras!" And then I was like, DUH - Cosima and Helena from Orphan Black. Let me tell you, they both live up to their namesakes!

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On Orphan Black Cosima is definitely a lover, not a fighter :) Helena is hell in a handbag! Helena is a trouble maker, just like my little Helena.  Helena is Ukranian-English and she calls her sister clones 'sestras,' so that's where sestras came from.  Cosima is happy and carefree and  really smart. My Cosima is a cuddler and the ultimate lap cat!

This is furry bundle of joy.

Cosima is a domestic long hair cat and is a silly little kitty. She sleeps on her back all stretched out. She'll also sit with her legs straight up in the air.  Cosima has a thing for my bra straps that I don't understand. When I'm in the kitchen cooking she follows me in there and cries when I'm not devoting my attention to her. She follows me around like a little shadow. Whenever I sit down it's not long before Cosima shows up and takes a seat in my lap.  Her fur is so soft and fluffy!

This is little hellion of a troublemaker.

Helena is a short hair domestic cat and my TV buddy. She loves to watch television with me. The photo on the left is us watching Once Upon A Time. I came home for lunch one day and we watched The Mindy Project and then she watched the New England Patriots game with me the other weekend.

She does tend to get into trouble...

I have a fireplace in my apartment that I don't use. I'd like to put fake flickering candles in there eventually. It's still sooty from the previous tenant and Helena got into it a few times. The first time was while I was home. I had to drag her out of it. She had soot all over her. So cute!  The second time (that I'm aware of) was while I was at work. I came home to find little kitty paw prints on the tiles outside the fireplace. At first I wasn't sure which cat it was, but then I saw Helena's little gray paws and the soot spot on her chin. She just now learned how to get onto the kitchen counter and has even made it to the top of the fridge. Helena also has a thing for paper - envelopes, mail, book covers, toilet paper, and paper towels.  Helena will chew on just about anything. She's chewing on my feet as I type.

Cosima and Helena love climbing into things and investigating! Baskets, bins, La Croix boxes, even the dishwasher.  When I'm doing laundry they climb into the dryer. They are so much fun to play with and cuddle with...

I could just watch them sleep all the time! They are so cute. Look at that top picture of Helena and her big hazel eyes!

They are the light of my life.  I have become a cat lady and I'm okay with that :)

Do you have furbabies?
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And the Nominees Are . . .

I'm sure you have heard about the great uprising that the Oscars are receiving due to the lack of color and diversity in the acting nominee categories. I didn't see Creed, Straight Outta Compton, Concussion, or Beasts of No Nation. I have nothing against those movies, I just haven't gotten around to seeing them. I wait for Redbox a lot these days. Hopefully some of them will come to Redbox before the Oscars on February 28th.

Anywho, I'm here today to share with you the 2016 nominees for the Oscars. They were announced last week on January 14th and they are everywhere on the internet, but I love being able to share them with you because I love movies so much! Without further ado, here are the nominees...

The Nominees For Best Picture Are -
I've only seen 4 of the 8 movies that are nominated (The Big Short, The Revenant, The Martian, and Mad Max). I think that The Revenant will take home this award. It's amazing in every possible way!

The Nominees For Actor In A Leading Role Are - 
I believe that Leonardo DiCaprio will take home this award. He was absolutely fantastic as Hugh Glass. He's way over due for winning an Oscar and I truly believe this will be his year. I'll be so sad if it's not.
PS - Even if Will Smith or Michael B. Jordan were nominated, I still don't think they would win. It's Leo's year!

The Nominees For Actress In A Leading Role Are -
I haven't seen any of these movies and I really hope they get to Redbox or I'm going to be making a crazy movie weekend at the movie theater. I really don't want JLaw to win. Brie Larson is getting all the hype for Room and I think she has an amazing shot at winning. 

The Nominees For Actor In A Supporting Role Are - 
Sly Stallone is the favorite to win, since he won the Golden Globe. However, Tom Hardy was fantastic in The Reverant

The Nominees For Actress In A Supporting Role Are - 
I haven't seen any of these movies either. I love Kate Winslet and the fact that she sent a selfie with no makeup to the director for Steve Jobs.  She won the Golden Globe for this role and I think she'll win the Oscar as well.

Here are some of the other categories and the nominee that I think is going to take the Oscar home:

Animated Feature Film - Inside Out
Cinematography -  The Reverant
Costume Design -  Cinderella
Directing -  The Revenant
Film Editing -  The Revenant
Foreign Language Film - Son of Saul
Makeup and Hairstyling -  Mad Max: Fury Road
Original Score - The Hateful Eight
Original Song - "Writing's on the Wall," Spectre
Production Design - Mad Max: Fury Road
Sound Editing -  Mad Max: Fury Road
Sound Mixing -  Mad Max: Fury Road
Visual Effects - Mad Max: Fury Road
Adapted Screenplay - The Big Short
Original Screenplay -  Spotlight

If you haven't seen Mad Max: Fury Road, then you should definitely check it out. It is an absolutely crazy ride. Literally.  It is non-stop. Visually it is amazing and I think that it's going to win a lot of the sound awards. If it doesn't, then I think The Revenant will take them. There are some categories that I did not include, because I have absolutely no idea about them.  You can see a full list of all categories and nominees HERE.

Who do you think will take home an Oscar?

The links below will take you to articles about that lack of color/diversity in the acting categories.

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#SaveMyHeart Update {1}

Happy Sunday! I hope you are having a wonderful weekend. As promised, here is my first update with my health goals. This is only Friday and Saturday.  Next Sunday it will be Sunday through Saturday. Make sure to keep up with me on Instagram HERE where I'll be posting pictures of my meals and snacks.

I weighed myself on Friday morning (after going potty..tmi..haha) and the scale showed 156.8.  I will weigh on each Friday until my doctor's appointment on March 21st.  I decided not to measure myself and use before pictures instead. Here are mine above. I'll take another set of pictures after 30 days on February 20th.

What I Ate This Week
Meal #1 - 3 egg omelette with red/green peppers and mushrooms and one banana
Snack #1 - 1 apple
Snack #2 - handful of cashews
Meal #2  - Keilbasa with a sweet potato
Beverages - I had green tea, la croix sparkling water, and regular water all day.

Meal #1 -  scrambled eggs (3) with ham, banana, green tea
Snack #1 - handful of cashews
Meal #2 - (out at Martin's Downtown with some girlfriends) fried chicken finger salad with ranch dressing
Beverages - I had green tea, regular water, and a diet coke at dinner.

Friday was perfection and Saturday was good, but not great because of dinner. At least it was a salad and not pizza :)

I need to make it clear that I am not doing the Whole30.  I am steering clear of dairy, red meat and sweets. I'm not going to purchase bread products (or dairy, red meat, and sweets), but if I'm out at a restaurant and there's a bread basket, then I'll allow myself a piece of bread.

What I Did At The Gym This Week
I did not work out on Friday/Saturday. I was snowed in completely.  Today I dug my car out and it took me an hour to do so - upper body workout! Haha!

That's it for today. I'm going to try and make it to the gym this week. I have a training session on Friday morning. Now that I can get my car out I have no excuse to get my butt to the gym.

Have a great Sunday and Goooooooooo Patriots!
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#BeBold2016 - My Health Goals

My lovely friend Kate is co-hosting a link up called Be Bold In 2016.  I've decided to join them today and talk about my health goals.

I know, I know, AGAIN?!!?!  You guys are probably sick of hearing me talk about my health and fitness journey. Well, get used to it! This is about to become a health/fitness blog.  I'm no health/fitness guru and I'm certainly no Jillian Michaels (i LOVE her!).  I am me. There are probably more people out there like me than there are like Jillian Michaels. Don't you worry, there will still be plenty of books and movies discussed on this here blog! In fact, I'll have an Oscar post on Monday!

Just a few weeks ago I told you why I changed my tagline to My Journey to a Better Self.  The main reason behind the tag line is my health. I'm going to get so real today, that you might just cringe! Here's the down and dirty. On December 16th I had my annual wellness exam with my primary physician.  The nurse took my blood as usual.  I waited all day (appointment was at 3pm) to eat because of blood being drawn and I was starving! I was looking forward to Carrabba's with my friend that evening. Pizza!

The doctor came in and he wasn't so chipper. My family has been seeing Dr. K for as long as I can remember.  A good 20+ years and he is always chipper. When he's not chipper, then you know something is up.  Well, I'll tell you what was up - my Cholesterol. Before I tell you what my cholesterol currently is, here is the breakdown of HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol):

Want to guess where my numbers are?  My HDL is 85 (good) and my LDL is 182 (BAD!!!).  There are also Triglycerides that go into your total cholesterol number - mine is 69 (that's good).  My total cholesterol is 280.8 - NOT GOOD! I am in the High Blood Cholesterol with twice the risk of heart disease. So, basically every bite of pizza I have been eating is sending me to my grave.  

My mom suggested that I do some research on heart disease, because she's certain that is what the doctor is most concerned with.  I did some research and here's what I found:

Heart disease is the #1 Killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year.
That's approximately one women every minute!

The American Heart Association website for women (Go Red For Women) has so much helpful information. It also puts a lot of myths to rest. I looked through different heart issues (stroke, congenital heart disease, etc) and have a good idea of where I'm headed if I don't make a serious change: ATHEROSCLEROSIS. What is it, you might ask?

Atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis. The name comes from the Greek works athero (meaning gruel or paste) and sclerosis (hardness).  It's the term for the process of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin (a clotting material in the blood) building up in the inner lining of an artery.  The buildup that results is called plaque.

Arteriosclerosis is a general term for the thickening and hardening of arteries. Some hardening or arteries normally occurs when people grow older.  Plaque may partially or totally block the blood's flow through an artery. Two things that can happen where plaque occurs are: A piece of the plaque may break off and/or a blood clot may form on the plaque's surface.  If either of these occurs and blocks the whole artery, a heart attack or stroke may result. No bueno!

What it boils down to is if I can't get my cholesterol down, then I risk plaque building up in my arteries and having a heart attack or stroke at a ripe old age of thirty-something. That would suck!

Why did I wait 37 days to look all this stuff up? I don't know...coz I'm lazy and didn't want to deal with real life. I wanted to hide in my little pizza bubble for as long as I possibly could. The thing is, every moment matters. It's taken me more than a month to get my shit together and I now have two months from yesterday to get my cholesterol down.  I'm already on Lexapro for my depression and I really don't want to go on another medication for my cholesterol.

My doctor wants me to stay away from dairy and red meat. The only form of dairy I eat is cheese pizza and I don't really eat red meat very often at all.  He also wants me to keep a food journal. I've tried the phone apps and I don't like them, so I'm using good old fashion pen to paper.

I need to stay accountable. So....I'm going to start posting about how I'm doing with everything: working out, food, beverage (diet coke..I'll miss you), etc. I'm using the hashtag #SaveMyHeart on Twitter and Instagram. Fair warning - I post a lot of cat pictures on Instagram :-) I'm thinking that on Sunday I'll do some weekly updates. Sunday I'll post 'before' pictures (I apologize in advance) and my current weight and measurements. I'll update every Saturday until my follow up appointment on March 21st.

*have a great weekend*
*stay warm and enjoy the snow*

All the information  above can be found here: Go Red For Women.
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Always...Alan Rickman

Today started out as any other day. I woke up late, rushed to get to work, arrived four minutes late...all very typical of me. I got here in time to see the remaining Oscar nominees announced for the 2016 awards that was being broadcast live (I'll post about that next week). I get on my TweetDeck and notice some sad tweets from a friend of mine and I didn't understand why.  Then, I saw a tweet that was sad about Alan Rickman. My breathe caught and immediately went to Google. My fear was confirmed that he had passed away. Alan Rickman died at the age of 69 after battling cancer.

I've loved Alan Rickman for as long as I can remember. He's best known for movies such as Die Hard where he played villain Hans Gruber and Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film franchise. Films such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Love Actually, Alice in Wonderland, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Galaxy Quest and A Little Chaos were among other acclaimed performances.

Rickman's career began on the stage in England. He performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company for years as well as on British Television. He earned a Tony Award nomination in 1987 for Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Rickman's film career took off after Die Hard, but he never left the stage behind returning the the Dublin stage as well as Broadway throughout his career.

He has two movies that are due to come out this year.  The first is Eye in the Sky where he costars with Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul (March 11, 2016). The second is Alice Through the Looking Glass reprising his role as the Blue Caterpiller along side Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and Mia Wasikowska as Alice (May 27, 2016).

Our hearts are sadden today, but it is with much joy that he will be remembered.

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Book Review: Orphan Train

I recently finished Orphan Train and immediately wanted to share with you all about it. It's such a fantastic story! I don't think there are any spoilers, but if there are then I apologize in advance :)

Synopsis from Goodreads
Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from "aging out" of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only think keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Main. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past.  As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life - answers that will ultimately free them both.
goodreads page for Orphan Train

What I Thought About the Book
I was hooked on Orphan Train from the very beginning.  I love historical fiction of any kind, set in any era. I love learning more about the times I was not around for. When there are children involved I definitely want to find out what's going to happen to them. I'm a sucker for books like this.

The biggest draw for me, however, was that it was about immigrants from the 1920's.  My family came to America from Italy around that time. I was on a youth group trip in 2000 and we went to Ellis Island where my brother found our surname on the wall. Reading this book made me want to research my family history. Lucky for me I have an aunt that is crazy about all of the ancestry stuff!

The Cover
The little girl on the cover seems so sad. I was immediately drawn to this book just based on the cover art. Clearly she's an orphan. I get that from the title, but what is this business about a train? How could you not pick this up to find out more?

The Characters
There are two main characters in the book - Molly and Vivian.  Molly is 17 years old and in the foster system about ready to get kicked out of her current foster home. Vivian is a 91 year old window who lives alone in a great big mansion. These two woman are not as different as you might think.

The World
I find it so interesting to read about how other people grew up. This poor little girl that's been pulled from her world and forced to live in another. The Midwest in the 1920s/1930s was a hard life if you weren't affluent. Reading how this little orphan girl grew up was, at times, heart breaking. When we learn about Molly's life in the foster system and her birth parents, it's not much better. Molly's had it rough too.

I have one book read for the year and the letter 'O' marked off of my alphabet list.

What have you read so far this year?

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And the Golden Globe Goes To...

I had so much fun watching the Golden Globes last night. It was a great night for movies. Leo won (like I knew he would).  I also love seeing the stars in their amazing gowns and tuxedos.  It's so glamorous!  If you didn't catch the award show last night, have no fear, I have the winners here for you today.  Last week I went over who was nominated for Movie and Television categories. For Movies I shared who I thought would win. For Television I shared who I thought as well as who I wanted to win.  Let's take a look at who won last night . . .

Who I thought would win - The Revenant

Who I thought would win - Brie Larson for Room

Who I thought would win - LEONARDO DICAPRIO!

Who I thought would win - The Martian

Who I thought would win - Amy Schumer for Trainwreck
Who Won - Jennifer Lawrence for Joy

Who I thought would win - Matt Damon for The Martian

Who I thought would win - Inside Out
Who Won - INSIDE OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who I thought would win - Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs
Who won - KATE WINSLET for STEVE JOBS!!!!!

Who I thought would win - Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation
Who Won - Sylvester Stallone for Creed

Who I thought would win - Alejandro G. Inarritu for The Revenant
Who Won - ALEJANDRO G. INARRITU for The Revenant

Who I thought would win - Charles Randolph & Adam McKay for The Big Short
Who Won - Aaron Sorkin for Steve Jobs

Who I thought would win - Empire
Who Won - Mr. Robot

Who I thought would win - Taraji P. Henson for Empire
Who Won - Taraji P. Henson for Empire

Who I thought would win - Jon Hamm for Mad Men
Who won - JON HAMM for MAD MEN!!!!!!

Who I thought would win - Transparent
Who Won - Mozart in the Jungle

Who I thought would win - Gina Rodriguez for Jane the Virgin
Who Won - Rachel Bloom for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Who I thought would win - Rob Lowe for The Grinder
Who Won - Gael Garcia Bernal for Mozart in the Jungle

Who I thought would win - American Crime
Who Won - Wolf Hall

Who I thought would win - Lady Gaga for American Horror Story

Who I thought would win - Mark Rylance for Wolf Hall
Who Won - Oscar Isaac for Show Me A Hero

Who I thought would win - Uzo Aduba for Orange is the New Black
Who Won - Maura Tierney for The Affair

Who I thought would win - Damian Lewis for Wolf Hall
Who Won - Christian Slater for Mr. Robot

The nominations for the 2016 Academy Awards (aka the Oscars) will be announced on Thursday (01/14/16) at 8:30am EST. I will be watching online :)  The Oscar Awards themselves are February 28, 2016.  Mark your calendars!

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My Journey to a Better Self

By now I'm sure you have noticed the new design as well as the new tagline. The tagline was previously A Movie Star At Heart. I am and will always be a movie star at heart. Currently, though, I'm working on ME, so I changed the tagline to My Journey to a Better Self.  2016 is going to be MY YEAR! I just know it!

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Here's why 2016  is going to be my year . . .

I've talked openly on here about my health and fitness. The good stuff and the bad stuff. The struggles and the accomplishments. Remember how I did the Whole30 back in July/August? I did so great with that! I've tried several times to return to the Whole30, but have failed with each attempt. I went to the doctor for my annual wellness exam in December and found out that my cholesterol is really high. So high that I should be on medication. The doctor is giving me three months to get it down. I go back in March and it needs to be waaaay down by then. I have some work to do.

Last year I was so focused on finding a boyfriend. Right after the new year I joined eHarmony. Over the summer I was on Tinder. After my birthday I joined Match. I can definitely say I put myself out there. I dated in 2015 more than I had in a long time. However, I was so focused on finding someone to complete me or someone else to fill this void that I seemed to have. I wasn't taking the time to figure out what I wanted or what I needed. My mentor had me make a list of what 'sanity in a relationship means to me.' I made that list in November and the things on that list are really important. Until the person I'm meant to be with comes into my life, I am going to focus on myself spiritually and emotionally. Once I'm at peace, then the pieces will come together.

I've been saying for a loooooooooooooong time that this will be the year I am finally out of credit card debt.  Well, THIS WILL BE THE YEAR! I have a budget plan and I'm going to stick to it. It's going to be an extremely frugal year, but I feel more focused than ever. I have things I want to do (London, NYC at Christmastime with mom, a cruise) and if I'm in debt for the rest of my life, then I'll never get to do any of those things. By the end of July I should be out of credit card debt and then by the end of September I'll have paid my mom back.

Those are the biggest things that I'm focusing on this year. All of them are about ME and I'm totally okay with being selfish. I can't love anyone else without loving myself first.

I'm linking up with Mia & Vashelle for Write or Die Wednesdays. Next week will be more interesting than a personal essay ;-)

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