Friday, January 29, 2010

Flashback Friday: Que Sera, Sera

Do you know when I finally realized I’m old?

No, it wasn’t when I started walking with George, although that would have been a good guess.

It was when I made reference to the line “Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” from the TV show Different Strokes and a blog reader had no idea what I was talking about. So, I emailed her this video to jog her memory:

The problem is, it didn’t jog her memory. Because it couldn’t be in her memory. Because she was too young to watch Different Strokes.

And I’m not talking too young in the way that my parents didn’t let us watch Three’s Company because of the scandal that two girls living with a guy would inflict on our young minds. I’m talking about being too young because she didn’t exist. [If anyone here isn’t familiar with Three’s Company, just please don’t tell me about it.]

On a side note [not that I ever veer off from the topic at hand, but just this one time I will], don’t you hate it when the shows that you don’t remember being scandalous as a kid end up being a bit scandalous, and you realize that fact while watching with little people? Like, I remember Daisy Duke wearing short shorts, but when I got Season 1 of The Dukes of Hazzard for my friend Susie’s boys a few years ago, neither of us remembered Daisy sashaying around in a bikini with sexual innuendos. But, apparently, she did.

And a few years ago when my friend Kelly and her daughter Megan were at my house and we thought it would be fun to watch the movie Grease, it didn’t take long before Kelly and I were wide-eyed and holding our collective breaths that her then-too-young-to-catch-most-things daughter would actually not catch most things. We were out of luck when the scene in the back of the car came about and Rizzo and Kenickie started discussing whether or not he had his insurance policy.

Of course, I was the lucky one Megan turned to and said, “Sara, what’s an insurance policy?” Somehow Kelly refrained from laughing as I went into an explanation about how my brother Steve works for Northwestern Mutual Life and the value of having life insurance. That was either not my most shining moment or my most brilliant, I’m still not sure.

Anyway, realizing that I’m old and that many of you may not remember things like Arnold talking to Willis, or Jan trying to get rid of her freckles or Tootie with her roller skates, I realized that writing Que Sera, Sera at the end of my post on Monday may have escaped some of you.

When I was little, my Aunt Janella used to sing the song Que Sera, Sera to me whenever she’d visit… of course I thought my name was in it and she was just saying it funny, but hearing the tune or the mere mention of the words still just makes me happy. So, for all of you young people, who I’ve recently learned don’t understand half of my references, this is a very old song that makes me very happy:

Now, excuse me while I go get my shawl so I can be ready for dinner at 4:30.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

People Should Listen to Me More

Ok, just typing that title is cracking me up. Because I seriously could not be more sarcastic if I tried, and I can’t pull off that kind of statement with a straight face. But the truth is, I can never pull off anything with a straight face. I am hands-down the world’s worst liar. The harder I try to pull off a prank the more obvious it is on my face. It’s definitely not a talent of mine.

Even if it’s not about trying to lie or fool someone, my expression will show every emotion that crosses my mind. When I used to sing at St. Stephen’s there was no covering up if I hit a wrong note or messed up a song. Even if I recovered and no one would have noticed, I would still get this huge smile on my face and shake my head back and forth as if to say to the congregation, “Oh, for heaven’s sake… so sorry you had to hear that.” Which usually elicited a lot of smiles and laughs back. My only version of cool under pressure is to laugh at myself. And then be relieved when others laugh with me [hopefully] instead of at me.

Which reminds me of a time when we were in college, and my friend Susie’s boyfriend [now husband] Mark was in the academy to become a state trooper. I always made fun of him because I thought he had a total cop attitude [which he does]. He’d get this look on his face and do what I called his “cop walk” that had a mixture of superiority, intimidation and cockiness all wrapped into one. He was very good at it and could be extremely intimidating even when you knew you hadn’t done anything wrong.

I, having the mouth on me that I do, was trying to take him down a peg or two and act like I was just as tough and cocky as him. My problem is that I can talk smack but have nothing to back it up. To try and help me out, he decided he would teach me the cop walk… from the attitude to the expression to the perfect cocky canter.

People, I could not be a cop. But apparently I could have been a physical comedian because he is still laughing about it. Which means I’m no good at lying OR intimidation. There goes my fantasy of being Sydney Bristow.

But where I fail miserably in the qualities of a super spy, or even a good prankster, I make up for with weather predictions. Yes, that is what I was originally talking about with that post title. I know, it took me a long time to get back here, but I usually get to my point eventually.

And the point is, I had a three-day migraine over the weekend … the kind where I can have no noise as I lay in the dark and fantasize about new ways to remove my head from my body. Susie wondered why it was so bad because, while we had rain two of those days, it wasn’t a bad storm and there wasn’t a huge drop in the temperature. There were no storms predicted, so we just figured my radar was off and the migraine was from the joints in my neck.

Imagine our surprise when a completely unexpected and unpredicted blizzard hit on Monday. High winds, snow, freezing temperatures. Schools let out early, people said the visibility was so bad they weren't able to see if their car was still on the road while driving. Interstates were closed and I saw a report of a 40 car pile up. No one had any warning because no one saw it coming.

People, I saw it coming.

Which is EXACTLY why people should listen to me more. I could have told everyone to stay home if only the meteorologists would have consulted me. Let’s face it, people. My illness could save your life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gitz Bits 2010: Week 3

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Friday, January 15, 2010

1.15.10 Such a poor, neglected puppy. Would you just look at those paws? I told you all awhile ago that I had given him a haircut, but ran out of steam before I could trim his front legs. That was, oh, about three weeks ago. And I’ve decided there’s no point in trimming them now… if I procrastinate a little longer it’ll be time to give him a haircut again anyway!

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

1.16.10Just like I cut Riley’s hair in stages, I eat my vegan cookies in stages, too. There’s a very good reason for this: the calories are redonkulous! I figure I can eat one cookie a week, so I just break off bits each day. They are so super filling, though, I honestly don’t think I could eat a whole cookie in one sitting. It works well that Dawn comes every other week with two cookies… I’m set!

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

1.17.10I may have been just a little happy when the Vikings beat the Cowboys last week. Here’s the thing… I’ve always been a Vikings fan, and I will become a fan of anyone playing against the Cowboys… so this was pure bliss. Many friends on Twitter were commenting about the game, and I posted: “Dear Brett, I know a lot of people say this, but I mean it. I love you. And your Wranglers.”

Somehow, Brett Favre managed to hack into my friend Candy’s account and send me this message through her twitter: “Dear Gitz, I love you too. Don’t tell Twitter our secret. Love, Brett.”

Twitter just makes everything more fun. :)

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Monday, January 18, 2010

1.18.10Sometimes I wish I knew what Riley was thinking, but when he gives an expression like this, I think it’s better off I stay ignorant. That pup just looks like he’s up to something. Regularly.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

1.19.10I try to find foods that I only have to make once, and then heat up leftovers for the rest of the week. That became a little more difficult once the whey allergy hit, because most of my casseroles or rice dishes in the crock pot contained cream of mushroom soup. And cheese.

I miss cheese.

Anyway, I can eat Prego, so once a week I brown some hamburger, throw in a jar of Prego and call it good. [I know, my culinary skills are confounding you…] Then, I take the Tuscan Herb flavored Stacy’s Pita Chips and scoop up the prego/meat sauce like a dip.

If you close your eyes real tight and squint, while standing on your head and imagining you’re in Italy, you might be able to pretend that the flavor remotely resembles pizza.

The saddest part: I was super excited when I figured that out.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

1.20.10Several of you asked about this canvas, as a bit of it was peeking out of last week’s Christmas tree photo. [By the way, I’m keeping the tree and getting new lights. I live to be tacky.] This was my first venture into painting/creating something on a canvas. I had no idea what I was doing… I used my house paint colors and a black Sharpie marker and just started.

The photos are of my 10 perfectly adorable and kind-hearted nieces and nephews. I love having their pictures all in one place so I can think of them and smile at them every day. I’m pretty sure most of them would roll their eyes at me if I told them I smile at them each day, but they’ve known me long enough to not be surprised that I’m weird.

The photos are from 2007, but they can be removed and changed out... I’m just not home to make them pose for head shots anymore. And I’m quite certain none of them are complaining about that… I was a bit constant with the camera. :)

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

1.21.10This may surprise you, but the focus of the picture was not intended to be the cute white pup, posing so nicely. I didn’t plan on him being in the photo at all, but he noticed the camera and promptly placed himself directly in front of it. What can I say… he’s vain.

What I wanted to show you is the amazing quilt my friend Suzanne made for me this past Christmas. Isn’t it lovely? I’m still overwhelmed by it… quilting is a totally new hobby for her and, like everything else she does, it obviously came naturally to her. She even made it a lighter weight quilt since she knew I was always hot these days because of the Cushing’s. What a gal.

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Thanks for sharing my week with me! I have to tell you, my creative brain needs to get in gear because I’ve almost run out of ideas for pictures already. I also realized I rattle on so long that some of these could have been individual blog posts in and of themselves! :) Jessica may have created a monster. Click on the button below if you want to go to Jessica’s site and check out the other participants showing off their weekly photos as well:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Inappropriate Suitors

I’m sorry to announce I have to postpone the A 2 Z blog post [brought to you by the letter P] until next Monday. This is due to the fact that I’ve been busy all weekend trying to negotiate a divorce from my migraine. I’ve offered to pay a handsome settlement if said migraine would agree to move out, surrender his key and promise never to return.

Negotiations are ongoing, as it seems we both have a stubborn nature about us. Thankfully, I’m beginning to see glimmers of defeat in the eyes of the migraine and fully anticipate posting Gitz Bits tomorrow, when my brain should be single once again.

Migraines are just so needy, aren’t they? I mean, how many times can I say, “I’m just not that into you…” before Mr. Migraine takes a hint and leaves for good?

It’s so my luck that the one suitor who finds me irresistible just so happens to be the one I don’t find the least bit attractive.

Que sera, sera.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Flashback Friday: Pictures of Uganda

Today, I’m flashing all the way back to last week.

Remember back that far? When I told you about my friend Matthew’s mission trip to Uganda for World Vision?

He’s been there all this week and his stories have been amazing. And I realized that within the past week, many would have forgotten about that post where we talked about being needy. It’s easy to forget, because we’re safe and fed. After seeing Matthew’s trip unfold this week, and after hearing so much about what’s happening in Haiti… my heart’s desire is to not forget. To not let the simplicity of my life stop me from pointing to others.

“Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.” 
                                                               (Matthew 25:40)

This is one of Matthew’s recent posts that explains so well what World Vision does, not only for these kids, but for their whole families. Do me a favor and take a minute to see Uganda through his eyes:

Though I've spent my fair share of time this week soul-searching and emotionally lamenting all of the circumstances and experiences I've encountered in Uganda, ultimately, this isn't about me or my emotions. As a writer and a person of faith, it's easy for me to get caught up in "me." Of course, more than you will ever know, my experiences during the last eight days has made me want to change, and hopefully the changes I make in my own life will be good and helpful to some degree. But let's be honest: If this trip was only about "my change," I should stop writing and you should stop reading...

But it's not about me and my personal change.

Today I saw real change, change that started with something that World Vision was doing for people. Today, I met people who once had to walk a day's journey to get clean water in their own community. I witnessed people pursuing healthier lives. I watched as forty or so children learned the truth about HIV-AIDS. I hugged people who were cheering because a health center that World Vision erected allowed them the benefit of receiving their vaccinations without having to walk miles and miles to do so. I met people who were learning how to grow crops in their own backyard.

As some of you know, I've been working with World Vision in some capacity for four years. Since the beginning I've believed in their work to help suffering children and families all over the world. But this week I witnessed World Vision working. The gatherings of people I met weren't about me getting to meet poor people – any ministry or non-profit can introduce me or anybody else to poverty. But sadly, not nearly as many can show somebody poverty and then tell them how they are planning to change that poverty into sustainable living. During my time as an author and speaker, I've worked alongside many non-profit organizations/ministries, and most of them have good intentions and are helpful to a certain degree. But when you're entrusting a certain amount of money to a ministry or non-profit on behalf of a child, good intentions don't often lead to sustainability.

So I thought I'd give you my personal reasons as to why I love and believe in World Vision... and why I trust them to do their best to not simply save people's lives... but to help them live better lives...

I believe in World Vision...

... because its goal is never to enable... it desires to empower...

...because every World Vision worker believes in the words on this sign…

...because they aren't afraid of being controversial when it helps people remain healthy…

...because this HIV-positive woman is receiving medication because of World Vision, and now volunteers to care for others with HIV-AIDS…

...because these kids, as well as their families, have a health care facility that helps heal them when they’re sick and educates them to live healthier so they don't become sick again...

...because this orphan now has a home with more than twenty women on a farm with chickens, pigs, cows, and crops... and has future...

...because this baby's mother is receiving HIV medication, and now has a much better chance of seeing her daughter grow up and not make the same mistakes as she did...

...because this woman has a deep well within walking distance where she can now get clean water for her two children...

...because the man who gave my friend this avocado learned how to grow his own avocados...

...because this 19-year-old is a World Vision sponsored child who is now studying to become a teacher and volunteers his time caring for orphans and widows who have been affected by HIV-AIDS...

...because World Vision works with a multitude of local churches (at least, in Uganda) and never turns a child away because he/she is Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or from any other religious or non-religious background...

...because World Vision is not simply about saving a "child," World Vision is about helping to sustain communities...

And ultimately, it's World Vision's hope that one day that community can live healthily without them...

That's just a few of the many reasons why I love and believe in World Vision... more to come...

To sponsor a child from Uganda, click here...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blog Peep Questions: Prayer

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What does your prayer life look like? What do you pray for regularly?

Honestly, my prayer life is pretty constant. It could be because I’m alone all the time without anyone else to talk to. :) But it’s more accurate to say I was always this way… constantly talking to God and listening, although I didn’t realize it was prayer when I was younger.

I used to think prayer always had to be structured, with the right words and posture. I think those things can be incredibly beneficial and helpful, but when I place too much emphasis on that I often find myself more caught up in how I’m saying my prayers than what I’m saying. And that really doesn’t work for me. It just doesn’t feel as sincere. Just like we all have different ways of learning and communicating, just like our ways of organizing and processing are different, I think our prayer can be different as well.

For me, pretty much all my thoughts are a conversation with God. I’m a thinker. I could sit without the television or music on all day… just reading or writing or, when my body is exhausted, just laying in the quiet letting my thoughts wander. And as I think of people in my life, events in the world, situations I am facing, the back and forth thoughts in my mind are just as conversational as talking to my best friend. It’s me wondering and processing and talking things through in my mind, and listening for answers. Not great, audible, booming-voice-of-God answers but the whispers that settle into my thoughts and resonate in my heart.

There are days when I’m worried or unsettled and the words for my thoughts don’t come as easily. When I know I need His guidance but am at a loss for what to say… what to ask… how to begin… those are the days when I appreciate the memorized prayers I grew up on. Those are the moments I say the Memorare or the Acts of Faith, Hope and Love. I am such a visual person that sometimes it’s easier for me to pray the rosary… get into the repetition of the prayerful words and visualize the people I am praying for, seeing them wrapped in grace, at peace and well. Even when “original” words of my own don’t come easily, I know God understands my thoughts and the desires of my heart.

And there are also those recited prayers that I use simply because I love the words. It’s kind of like the idea of not needing to reinvent the wheel. When someone has said something so perfectly, something I desire with all of my heart, I don’t feel a need to find new ways of saying it. For example, this is a prayer that I say every morning, because it’s what I want for my life:

God Alone Suffices

I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you; my words: to have you for their theme; my actions: to reflect my love for you; my sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.

I want to do what you ask of me: in the way you ask, for as long as you ask, because you ask it. I pray, Lord, that you enlighten my mind, inflame my will, purify my heart, and sanctify my soul. O Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, pray also to Jesus for me.

For me, I don't think prayer is about changing God's mind in regards to my circumstances... I think it's about letting God know I’m here, I’m paying attention, I love Him and honor Him and am in it with my whole heart. Just this past week I’ve had a rough situation with my doctors and realized that, in order to maintain the progress I’ve made with the Cushing’s over the past few months, I needed to make a change in my health care. It was stressful and scary and reminded me how much being homebound limits my life and my choices.

I was praying a lot. And I had other people praying for me like the fierce friends they are. Despite the stress and the knot in the pit of my stomach, I knew full well God already knew the outcome. I wish I could say that made the knot go away, but it didn’t. It did, however, help keep me focused. My conversations with God kept repeating as I would tell Him that I trusted Him, I knew he already knew the solution, but that if He had found a way to bring this to resolution without me having to jeopardize my health, I would be so beyond grateful. I would be willing to go where He needed me to, but I really, really, really would prefer the path be clear.

During this conversation one night, it struck me that Jesus basically said the same thing in the garden. He told his Father he would do His will, but he’d rather the cup pass him by. It made me feel better about asking for my will, letting Him know what I desired, even though in the end I still wanted His will to be done. And I feel so blessed that a resolution was found for me this time.

I’m obviously not an expert on prayer or anything, but I will say I don’t think it’s something that only helps us build our own relationships with God. I believe it helps us build relationships with each other as well. I whole heartedly believe that I am at peace with my life because people pray for me. They don't even need to pray for my healing or for my physical life to change... I have asked so many to just pray that I have the strength and peace to deal with what comes for me.

That prayer continues to be answered.

I don’t think prayer is just about changing circumstance, although sometimes it does. It’s also about changing my heart... aligning my will with His. Asking Him to give me a heart that would rather serve Him than serve my own desires. To me, that is the most powerful thing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gitz Bits 2010: Week 2

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Friday, January 8, 2010

1.8.10Speaking of Christmas [not that we were, but we are now], I’ve been trying to convince myself that it would be ok to leave this tree in the corner, lit up, year round. Because really, is there anything more relaxing than white lights in the evening? Before I got the chance to upload these photos yesterday, the string of lights burned out and I’m afraid it was the universe’s way of telling me it’s tacky. What do you all think? Get new lights or put the tree in the garage?

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

1.9.10Saturday was a GREAT day, as you can tell by the almost-empty jug of wine. My neighbors, Dave and Laura, stopped down with Moscato in hand since we hadn’t celebrated Christmas together yet. We drank, chatted, laughed, chatted, drank and laughed a little, too. It was the most normal-feeling day I’ve had in ages.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

1.10.10I took this picture on Sunday, but it really relates to Saturday. When Dave and Laura came down with the wine, they came bearing other gifts as well. They declared we were celebrating the feast of the Epiphany… and they were the wise men bearing gifts. I guess in this analogy, I would be baby Jesus, but really I was just an undeservingly spoiled friend. Meet my new iPod Touch. I’m thinking of naming her Stella. Life here will never be the same… I so rarely set the thing down I’m afraid my skin may attach itself to it.

What a fun problem to have. :)

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Monday, January 11, 2010

1.11.10Do you know that I can’t remember ever using this pot before? Yes, that should give you some insight into my lack of cooking skills. Because I react to so many cleaners and smells, my cleaning lady uses these special rags to clean my house. They are made by Norwex and require no cleaners whatsoever… it has something to do with silver particles fighting bacteria. Anyway, Dawn was incredibly skeptical until she used them and now she’s ordered some for herself. Every other week before she comes I boil them for 10 minutes and they’re ready to be used again.

Thank God I know how to boil water.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

1.12.10Tuesday. The day Dawn came to clean. She comes from her day job at Hy-Vee where she apparently found vegan cookies, which means they contain no whey/dairy products. People, they are yummy. I thought the word vegan would indicate cardboard, but I now know it indicates delicious.

My most sure-fire way of knowing if something is safe for me to eat is to check and make sure it’s vegan, which has been incredibly helpful. Although most vegans would hate me for this, I can best describe myself as a vegan who eats meat and eggs. :)

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

1.13.10I had a long day on Wednesday. It involved doctors and confusion. And it just didn’t seem right to leave that little bit of Moscato wine left in the jug. Cheers!

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

1.14.10I’ve spent many days this past week with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Gupta. There were moments when I wanted to turn off CNN and escape the Haiti disaster, but then I reminded myself the people of Haiti had no way of escaping it. The very least I could do was be informed, pray for them and make sure I tried to spread awareness. This is one of those times when it seems like no matter how much money you give, it just can’t be enough.

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Thanks for sharing my week with me! Click on the button below if you want to go to Jessica’s site and check out the other participants showing off their weekly photos as well:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Brought to You by the Letter O


Ordinary Miracles

Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.
                                                                     - Betty Smith

Sometimes I wonder how changed my vision would be if I had never gotten sick. I have no doubt the core of me would be the same… I would still be compassionate and kind and, some would say, ornery. I know I would have a heart of gratitude, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be as aware of the little things.

Sometimes, when someone is sitting in the chair across from me or are sitting cross-legged on my floor, it will suddenly occur to me that they don’t feel their body. They get up or lay down or sit still without giving a thought to how they are going to manage any of those things. And I am amazed. Because I have actually forgotten that living without that awareness is possible. Sitting without feeling every part of my body is not something I can remember… mostly because I never stopped to notice when I had the chance. I thought it was ordinary, but in truth it was a miracle.

There are so many little ordinary miracles. There are times when, out of the blue, I’ll notice that I’ve been breathing without thinking… something that doesn’t happen for me every day. I can’t breathe deep, but when I am breathing easily it’s not something I do without noticing anymore. I’m amazed at the difference the air purifier has made and find myself consciously appreciating sitting still and simply breathing. It’s ordinary, but it’s also a miracle.

Isn’t it funny that when a baby suddenly finds their hand and are mesmerized by it’s motion, we all sit and are mesmerized at it as well? Or when their giggle over an inanimate object becomes so contagious, we suddenly notice the object again for the first time, too? The ordinary in our lives gets overlooked because it seems to have always been there… seems as though it always will be. Until we look again with new eyes and see the miracle in the ordinary all around us.

My life changing as it has certainly changed my vision. Watching people in Haiti who were going about their normal lives suddenly living in what must feel like a war zone changes my vision. Realizing there are homeless living in the cold who had jobs a year ago changes my vision. It doesn’t mean I need to feel guilty for what I have, but it does mean I need to be consciously aware. To not take the simple things for granted.

I want to remember to not just give thanks for the extraordinary moments in my life… the times when I am overwhelmed by grace. I want to be grateful for the ordinary. The basics. The mundane that we assume will always be present. I want to remember to look with eyes that see the ordinary as miracles, so my life can be filled with glory.

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a to z

Don’t forget to leave a comment with a [P] topic suggestion for next week!