You are free to choose, always.


Does remaining silent mean I am somehow complicit? Does speaking up mean I am judging? I don’t know. I’m just tired of normalizing trends that take what is inherently beautiful, and twist it into something else entirely.

Today I came across a Facebook post by a start up company I follow who makes custom leather boots. Their new post is marketing baby boots, because “you are never too young to rock your first pair…” And as I looked at the photograph of a tiny baby, dressed in a skull and crossbones diaper, with a pair of black leather high tops, a lumberjack plaid neck fleece, and laying on a bold graphic blanket, I was saddened. Why? Because I saw the potential for awe squelched by an all too common human desire for projection of image.

The baby in the photograph with bared belly and umbilical cord still healing, was only a couple of weeks old. Surely the parents of this beautiful new human were still in the process of adjusting and welcoming and healing themselves. Surely they were still sharing birth stories with their closest friends, describing the difference of before and after, the shock of their wide eyed and brand new unconditional love. Surely they were wearing out their phones taking photos, planning futures and parties and surely, somewhere in all that, they were struck by the miracle of what just happened…and the wonder and innocence of this creature now entrusted into their hands. Surely they see the helpless purity of the creature that is a blending of their DNA and the outcome of months of waiting. Surely…

But somehow, somewhere, in this particular ad campaign, and in society in general, I sense that the function of keeping children warm and dry has run amok and become a commercialized train wreck. And we’ve seen this, haven’t we? Little boys in gangsta wear, and little girls in belly tops. But babies? I fear we are now in the business of transforming our precious newborns into our own image, into our own idea of what is hip and cool and trendy, rather than resting for just a little while, in the unadorned, unseasoned, raw versions of who they are…from the very beginning.

And perhaps facebook posts and instagrams and the incessant need to show off images of our most personal and intimate treasures, including our newborns, perhaps our overwhelming desire to (over)share the visual, is causing us to lose sight of what matters most, what happens when we are off camera and naked and fully ourselves.

Today you can find niche fashion sites that allow you to outfit your baby boy in biker gear or tattoo sleeves, or your baby girl in slutty slogan onesies. You can find skull and crossbone slippers, diapers, and pretty much anything else in most mainstream outlets. And while how we dress our children is absolutely a personal matter of taste, and has been effected by cultural and social norms through the centuries, I just want to say I am sad about what is happening in 2015. And maybe it doesn’t matter to you, maybe this is far too serious a consideration when buying baby clothes, because they are just so cute and fun and everybody else is rocking them too. But maybe you find a hint of truth in what I’m suggesting. I wonder why we are so easily convinced of what is normal and acceptable. I wonder…

All I know is this. I am not willing to trade in my sense of awe at the warm curl of a newborn’s fingers around mine, or the poignant sight of first hair worn thin on the backs of tiny heads, or the way it feels to breathe her smell straight out of the bath, all wet and shiny and bright, or hear his first musical cooing. I will hang onto it tight, and I will celebrate the sweet innocence of new beginnings. And I will not tarnish my experience of the miracle or the glory I see in each brand new life, by bowing to clothes or accessories that suggest otherwise.

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Along the way…


Years ago I began to see. At birth, my physical eyes opened. At the age of 40, my spiritual eyelids lifted to reveal new and meaning filled sights. And, another (almost) ten years later, I recognize that the second sight that comes with the spirit focused eyes must be intentional, often requiring of me a tuning up, a dusting off, a wiping of my glasses to ensure that I am seeing as best I can. God has things to reveal to me… even when I forget (see this post) or when I’m distracted or simply focusing on myself way too much.

Ten years ago or so I often saw things as I walked my dog and talked to God along the way. I was reminded of those wonderfully intimate times this morning as I drove to meet a circle of women who are becoming very important in my life and spiritual development. I saw things along the way today… and they revealed a deeper sight that I will share with you. May it bring you peace. God often brings peace in the midst.

I saw… a soldier dressed in his fatigues walking a very happy dog with tail back and forth and tongue lolling and face turned up to his master with an obvious ‘smile’ to share (those of you with dogs know this canine ability to smile). The dog was so full of joy at the walking with the one he loved that I almost didn’t see the obvious, that this pup had three legs, not four. At some point the fourth leg was removed due to an accident or disease and the dog carried on in a way that appeared to be without any real impact on his ability to enjoy the life he’d been given.

and I saw… a man waiting at a traffic light, a man whom I’ve noticed for years now, pocket protector in his short sleeved dress shirt, comb-over hair almost all grey, dress pants, and in one hand his black briefcase… very much the ‘Death of a Salesman‘ image here. And his body, his 60-something body, had conformed to the weight of whatever was in the briefcase, turning in, shoulders dropped forward, arms almost lengthened by the pull of the case. He was heading… somewhere… no smile, no joy, yes purpose, but no outer signs of pleasure.  Compared to the dog.

And here’s what I think I’m going to take from these images that linger in my mind, I’m going to take what I saw and own the truth that speaks. How we each have a choice to carry or to leave behind that which is diseased, that which weighs us down, that which we do not have to carry. And with that another choice, to leave the burden behind and embrace the joy of the moment, the gift of what remains rather than what could have been, might have been, and maybe still is. The dog made adjustments to how it walked to enable him to bounce on three feet. The man, burdened for years, his body also made adjustments, but in a way that left an impression of sad emptiness and pursuit of something just beyond his reach. Yes, I’m reading much into this, but I believe there really is something to it… a revelation of truth in the ordinary.

Thought I’d just lay it out there for you. To do with as you wish.

Journeying and watching, sometimes spirit sight,

Lesley-Anne

Midweek Random Ramble018


1. I’m taking a break from Facebook right now. No judgment, no soap box, nothing like that. Just decided that my other writing was taking a hit because I was giving away so much time to writing creative profile updates and so little time to writing other more time intensive projects. Other than peeking last night for under 2 minutes (yes, I timed it) I’ve been away for 4 days… or is it only 3? I don’t know, but it sure is hard to not go there, not wander around to see what all my friends are up to, not post witty responses to their posts and update my profile every couple of hours… oh dear… did I really update THAT OFTEN??? I’ll keep you posted apprised of my progress. And hey, have you noticed how much more blogging I’ve been doing in the last few days… could there be a connection?

2. So I got up this morning prepared for my ritual… shower, blow dry, dress, set table, wake up kids, make coffee… HALT!!!… COFFEE MACHINE NOT WORKING!!! So, I took a deep breath, held it for 10 seconds, and made tea instead. Only by about 9 AM I realized that the tea just wasn’t cutting it… the foggy feeling in my brain required more caffine than is found in Red Rose.

I got creative. Boiled some water, put the paper cone with ground coffee in it, inside a small sieve resting over my coffee cup, and poured the hot water slowly into the cone (you know, camp style!). Only the cone didn’t hold up well wet, and suddenly I’ve got this soggy, sloppy, coffee ground mess all over my counter, down the front of the cabinets, and onto my freshly mopped floor (yes, this is what happens when you mop… if you don’t mop, no mess, as soon as you mop… mess) And, after I cleaned it all up, I enjoyed a mug of hot coffee with milk and sugar and a smile.

Worth all that trouble… you betcha!!!

3. Heading out the door to the frozen dog park. YES! Frozen again. I’ve had several visits lately that were more Spring-like than Winter, and the result was mud, mess (I seem to have a mess theme going here) and then there was the head to toe shower of poop-infused water that put me over the edge. So, I’ve been away. And now it’s frozen and I’m going back. And Emmy will thank me. She’s been a little stir-crazy without the running and romping and wrestling of the dog park. I just wish there were an easier way to transition to Spring with a dog… without mud!

4. Wrote 2 3 poems these last few days. See #1. Perhaps there really is a correlation… just saying.

5. Getting ticked at WordPress and their built in ‘filters’… been having so much garbage coming at me here on my blog… one day there were 200 so-called ‘referrers’ that were not only ‘spam’, but bad, rude, inappropriate, yuck… you know what I mean. So I emailed support and asked for help… still waiting for someone to help me be proactive about this! Anyone know anything that might help?

6. So what’s with the Starbucks ‘Via’ instant coffee anyway? I mean, we’ve always mocked teased my father-in-law for not drinking ‘real’ coffee. He mixes his mug of morning coffee by the tablespoon (is it Folgers or Maxwell House?) and says it’s just fine. But, when he comes here to visit us, he does seem to really enjoy making pot fulls of the percolated kind. I’m just surprised that a die hard coffee drinking Starbucks culture would find this ‘Via’ to be an acceptable alternate to real percolated coffee? And if ‘Via’ turns out to be a successful product line, does that mean Folgers was right all along about ‘the best part of waking up’?

Maybe I won’t have to go out and buy a new coffee maker today… just little boxes of individual packets of ‘Via’? … no…I’m not convinced.

(Settled on a ‘french press’… 1/10th the cost of a percolator and strong, hot, black coffee!)

7. OK, I guess that’s it. Duty calls. The dog calls. My To Do List calls… so that I can spending some time just being when it’s done. Or, should I be being before… betwixt and between… is writing being… is blogging being… and other questions!

Peace will come,

Lesley-Anne

The ‘discipline’ of first things first.


apron garden

Image by klynslis via Flickr

I first wrote this piece in 2006, but it came to my mind this morning as I was facing yet another kitchen full of the aftermath of getting the family up and out the door to school. There were so many things I would rather do than clean up. Yet, as I reflected on the fact that putting my house in order is my ‘job’, well, I just did it. And I stood back and admired the tidy kitchen before I sat down at my computer to work on some other needful things. Better than facing the dirty kitchen later in my morning, when feelings of resentment would probably accompany my tidying efforts.

In any case, here’s what I wrote, which still rings true in my life today.

I had to apologize to my children yesterday after school.  I have been home ‘sick’ for the past few days, and after my energy level began to pick up I found myself cleaning and tidying like I haven’t done in some time.  And the only reason I can think of for the renewed interest in cleaning, is that I’m actually AT HOME.

My life as a homemaker is usually quite busy, and I don’t enjoy all of the chores that come with my job description.  Many of my tasks are outside the home too, and most of those are more enjoyable.  So, my days usually include a variety of things, from walking my dog, to helping in the classroom, to grocery shopping, to errands, and even the occasional coffee with friends.  I have tried a number of different ways to accomplish my tasks in the home, both scheduled and non-scheduled.  The scheduled approach is best for me, so that on Monday I know it’s laundry day.  There isn’t any doubt that its laundry day, it just is.  I don’t have to justify, rationalize or wonder, It’s just laundry on Monday.

Problem is, on Mondays I’m not always home for the day.  And our laundry piles are pretty prolific.  So, making it laundry day doesn’t get it done.  Only being at home and working through it systematically gets it done.

So, this week, being at home and sick, reminded me that I haven’t been home enough.  As my husband kindly reminds me from time to time, it’s all about balance.  And when the scales are full of dirty clothes on one side and no clean ones on the other side, then that’s definitely not balance.

When I was home I saw other indications of unbalance in the form of cobwebs, burnt out light bulbs, grubby bathroom taps etc.  And I felt badly for two reasons.  One, that the job that I’ve been entrusted with isn’t being done to the best of my abilities, and two, that I’m setting a less than excellent example to my kids.  How can I, with good conscience, tell them off for not making their beds, when I haven’t made mine.

So, my apology to my kids was for both of these reasons.  I want them to know that I blow it some times, and that I’m human.  But I also want them to know that our family values include doing our best, keeping our commitments, and meeting our responsibilities, even when it’s not fun stuff.  Would I rather be out grocery shopping than scrubbing toilets – absolutely!  Does the thought of 10 loads of laundry fill me with joy?  Not really, but I do feel joy when the job is complete.  Even if the hamper stays empty for only a few hours, I feel a certain sense of accomplishment at a job well done, at having given my best to the task, and at having been true to my commitment to care for my family.

Because I love words and the impact they have on me – they stick – I thought of a little line of words that I could think about when the lure of e-mail is greater than  the messy kitchen.  It’s simply this, “The discipline of first things first”.

The word discipline might not sit well with you.  It’s received a bad rap, I think, as we immediately consider the negative connotations of disciplining our children, or the stern teacher disciplining students.  But discipline has another side to it.  It’s about choosing to do what you have already committed to.  It’s about meeting priorities, even when they are not pleasant.  It’s about choosing the important things over the needful things of the moment.  It’s about lining up my behaviour with my values.

My spiritual life requires discipline.  It’s so much easier to call up a friend for emotional support than to pray to my heavenly father.  It’s easier to keep on doing chores and running errands than stop for a quiet time of reading, meditation, and praise.  It’s so tempting to sleep in on Sunday morning rather than joining together with God’s people for worship and teaching.  You may think that choosing the latter in each case sounds like legalism, but for me anyway, the discipline combined with the desire allows me to make better choices.  Better choices for me anyway.  You will have to decide what’s ‘first’ in your own life.

Today was a good day.  I chose to read my devotional before I started my day’s work. I chose to clean the kitchen before I answered personal e-mails.  I chose to finish what I had started, before beginning a new project.  Not martyrdom, simply honouring my priorities.  Everyone’s will be different.  But everyone has them.  It’s a matter of sticking to them, and that does take discipline.

Trying to be faithful in the little things,

LA

Thursday, all day.


Its hard walking by faith, that daily struggle polarized by seeing with physical eyes and knowing there is more than meets the eye.

I want to see the path clearly laid out in front of me, the obstacles coming up, the views all around, how everything works together.  That’s what I’m used to and that’s what I’d prefer. I want to control “see” the end result.

I once prayed for God to ‘show me’ what he wanted me to do, specifically.  I wanted the answer and then I promised that would obediently act upon it.  I thought my heart was in the right place, that I was being Godly and good   and all that.  But, in this case and most other times, God did not show me the detailed picture, and that could be a purposeful thing.  Rather than looking for the one right answer (if there is indeed only one) I believe God would rather have me pay close attention to the particularities of my life, and then respond by making the best choice in a particular situation at a particular time.

My husband suggested to me that one needs to make decisions fully prepared to bear the outcome of those decisions… both good and bad. That is so hard to do.  Making a good and Godly decision can bring difficult things to me… offended feelings, no affirmation, silence from friends where words would have been better.  Being a people pleaser (wanting people to like me has always been an issue for me) in decisions, draws me to sometimes choose directions that will bring the most confirmation from the most people… which is really a lack of personal resolve.  It keeps me from choosing anything or choosing too many things at once.

I remember one difficult decisions I had to make alone.  We were looking for a new dog. After praying and searching I found a potential dog at the local SPCA.  I did my due diligence, brought him to the vet, brought him home to meet the family, had him for a sleep over, and now faced with… would he stay or would he go? I asked my husband for his input and he said this, “This decision is for you to make.  I’m ambivalent.” Man, that bugged me.  I wasn’t 100% sure.  I was nervous and wavering.  But I made the decision based on all the information I had at the time.  Yes, I kept the dog. You probably remember Buddy… I’ve written about him before.

My daily life with God is a lot like that.  I don’t know 100% what God wants me to do.  I don’t hear the audible voice of God very often, and I struggle with the many voices of influence in my life.  But, I recognize that God is providing me with all the information I need to make good decisions.  Some of it is very obvious stuff related to my age and stage of life and the priorities attached to that.  Some is based upon an understanding of how he has made me, gifted me, and empowered me to live. And some is based upon my limited knowledge of God himself, his character, his purposes for me and for this world I live in.

At times my indecision is because I’m preoccupied with internal conversations of should I do this… what if I did that… or what about this… Like the conversation between the author and God in ‘Conversion Diary‘, a blog I follow, all the ‘dithering’ drags me down, tires me out, and takes the passion right out of me. I get caught up in the whirlpool in my mind, complicating things, rationalizing, arguing, rather than keeping my eyes on God and what he’s already up to all around me.

God will place opportunities in front of me every day, if only I would see them. He’s busy everywhere… it’s not that difficult. And what he wants me to do isnt’ that difficult either. God isn’t causing the confusion, I am.  God isn’t causing the procrastination, the double-guessing, the inaction, I am.

Yet, I don’t believe God wants to fix me. I do believe he wants me to keep looking to him for all I need, rather than inside myself where I get lost and messed up. This person who he created me to be is complex, raw, and a slow learner.  I will probably continue to have times of confusion and lack of focus in my life, because that’s who I am.  But baggage and all, He simply wants me to show up every day ready for action.

The Bible says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  1 Corinthians 13:11-13

That partially obscured glimmer of God, is enough to give me forward momentum most days. It keeps me curiously expectant of what is coming next, keeps me waiting wide-eyed, for the unique God planned opportunities to present themselves.

And I pray that they will.

Lesley-Anne,

Sol Deo Gloria

Fence sitting…


It’s been 5 weeks of intermittent chaos in our home.

Emmy (our new adoptee 2-1/2 yr. old German Shorthaired Pointer) is making a huge impact on us, on our lawn, on our things, on our sleep, energy, patience. It’s stressful. It’s unclear what to do.

I bounce back and forth. I’ve met with dog trainers. I’ve tried many ways to make the transition more bearable. Talked about it from both sides. And I’m still wondering daily if this is the right dog for us? I’m wavering like a drunken sailor on shore leave.

A good friend, wise counsel for me in many areas of my life, suggested determining my motivation for keeping or not keeping the dog. She says it doesn’t matter the details of how we make it work, but the foundation of why we want the dog is all that matters. If the decision is built upon a good foundation, then the outcome will be good. Ok, I said, I’ll do that… I’ll look at my motivations. That’s easier said than done, I recognize as I begin to write things down. A pros and cons list is much easier because it’s about the dog, rather than about my inner workings and what drives me to do or not do certain things. So I’ll share the easy list with you now, and (maybe) my motivations at another time. When my head is less foggy and my resolve to be transparent is stronger. And maybe when I finally have the courage to decide instead of sitting on the fence where the view of both sides is equally difficult, or wonderful, depending upon the moment!

So, here’s MY LIST;

Pros of dog ownership~

Having a dog expands the concept of family to something ‘more’

Dogs share unconditional love, adoration, unmatched in any other relationship

Companionship – never alone (someone to talk to rather than talking to yourself which can be a problem to some people me)

Mental health benefits (see above)

Feeling of guardianship over the family – no need for an alarm system or a door bell

Teach all of us empathy, mercy, kindness

Children love petting dogs, cuddling dogs, sleeping with dogs, talking to dogs, the idea of having dogs

Husbands can also love dogs if the list of pros is longer than the list of cons

Training dogs is also a lesson in self-discipline

Cons of dog ownership~

Messes – Spotted lawns, dug up planting beds, dirty paw prints on carpets, pet hair on clothes (and Emmy doesn’t appear to know how to eat or drink without slopping both food and water quite a distance from her dishes)

Endless walking and biking when I don’t really feel like it

Strict training regime –  repeatedly saying, ‘No, ______, no, No, NO!!!

Mistakes – Chewed couches, pee stains on carpets, tent walls chewed through

Lack of freedom and being spontaneous

Cost of care

Cost of kenneling to allow for being spontaneous

Weight of responsibility

Yard cleanup never shared by other family members because at the end of the day the dog is always ‘my dog’

Anyhoo, that’s my list at the moment which appears to be pretty equally weighted on both sides. As I write Emmy is upstairs sleeping in Claire’s room, until I go get her and bring her to our room where she will hop up onto our bed and cuddle until morning, when she stretches, and yawns and kisses me, and then I’ll let her out and give her breakfast and we’ll start another day together again. For now, anyway! And by the looks of it, probably for a long long time.

Signing off for now,

Lesley-Anne

My Buddy



This is my attempt at writing through what is currently a very sad and difficult time for our family. I’ve written about Buddy, our German Shorthaired Pointer, many times before, including here, here, here, here and here. He is the inspiration of much writing over the past five years, as he has been my constant companion and noble friend.  Now we are in our last days with him at home. He has cancer in his beautiful birdy nose, and it’s aggressive, and affecting his ability to breathe. Ironically, I recognize it is about my Buddy, breathing.

Buddy needs us to let him go.

The letter below is words that our Buddy might say to us, his family. Words expressing some of the many moments that bond us, and granting us permission for his peaceful release.

It’s not the first time for us, we’ve lost three dogs over the years we’ve been married, yet it doesn’t get any easier to deal with. So many emotions. Such a feeling of powerlessness and loss. Yet there’s a foundation of trust that God will be enough for us as a family, and will comfort and heal our hurting hearts as we walk with him beside us.

And through it all, I’m believing in a God that has a future planned for his creatures without words. My hope in all of our pain, is that one day my family will be with Buddy again.

With a deep sadness,

Lesley-Anne


Dear family,

When I first met Mom at the SPCA, I laid down on her feet, doing my best to keep my excitement under check because she seemed to show more than just a passing interest in me. She took me into the visiting room and stayed for a while. Then she went away, came back and brought others with her. You all petted me, looked into my eyes and you smiled. I could tell you were kind. I knew I could trust you. I couldn’t believe my good fortune, because I’d been in and out of the pound and SPCA for what seemed like forever, and then you came.

You took me. We went home. I stayed. My sleepover never ended. I remember being nervous at first when you left me for any length of time. I just wanted to be with you every minute. So I howled when you left, got a little frantic and paced around the house, pressed my nose against the window glass waiting for you, hoping you would come back. You always did.

Now I had a family. Claire was afraid of me at first, but I just waited. I was so big compared to her little. So I laid down and rolled over and grinned and tried to show her that I was gentle and loving and not to be afraid of.

I know I was fat, and my body didn’t fit my age or energy level. But you had a plan for that too. Soon we started to walk every day along a beautiful creek with smells of wild things and birds that would set my heart beating faster and faster. I felt safe walking there with you. You talked to me. Sometimes you sang. And then we would come home again where I would rest and watch you do all the interesting things you do. I began to feel a rhythm to my life with you.

One of my favourite times of the day were when I woke up each morning. Mom would come down the stairs and say in a bright voice, “Are you hungry boy?” “Oh yes, Oh yes,” I would pant, and bounce and turn in circles and show you just how happy I was at that idea. In the afternoon after we had picked up the kids at school, I knew that it was time to eat again, and I would dance for you, barking sometimes with excitement. “Speak!” you said, so I spoke in my loud voice and smiled at you. I love food! Even now I get excited when I hear you say, “Time for your pills, Buddy,” because I know there will be food.

Our home is heaven to me. Lying in the sun on the front porch without a worry in the world, watching quail cross the road, listening to the sounds of morning while you fold clothes in the laundry room, greeting the mailman and neighbours as they walk by. “What a good dog,” the neighbour lady says… and I think, I’m not being good, I just know there’s nowhere better to go than right here. I used to run away all the time, but I think I was running trying to find someone who’d love me like you do. And the backyard, full of birds and creatures that I can smell and point at and hunt for hours, the backyard was an adventure every time you let me go outside. And you didn’t leave me there like my last people did. You brought me back inside, kept me warm and dry and honoured to be your companion.

I know I didn’t come to you perfect, and I’m sorry for the times when my good nose led me to butter dishes, loaves of bread, oven warm muffins and cinnamon buns, and the Belgian chocolates that Malcolm brought home from school. I was so sick that night after the chocolates, and I know it was hard for Mom to lie on the floor with me all night, but it helped me feel better. With you, I’ve had the best second half of my life. The first half is gone from my mind now. I never could imagine having a family like you all. When Dad let me start sleeping in the couch I felt spoiled and undeserving of that, but I also felt loved. So I laid on the couch a lot after that, knowing I must be special to deserve that place.

Malcolm’s bed was another place I didn’t expect to sleep, but laying there beside him I felt safe. I never had to worry about being alone anymore. Graeme walked with me, and I know he told me things he never told anyone else. When he trained me to be a visiting Pet’s and People dog… I really felt like I had a really important job to do and it made me proud. Claire called me ‘baby’, and the happy stories she told me as she played beside me on the floor were always fun. I walked over her toys, and I didn’t mean to knock them down, but I did. I just wanted to be close up to all of you, touch you with my paws, let you know I was still here. Like when I would climb right up on Dad as he sat on the couch, I just wanted to just be closer than I could be, maybe sit in his lap to show him I loved him. I would follow Mom around the house most days, looking up at her to say,  “Hello,” and, “I’m still here, and I still love you,” and, “Do you want to do something together soon? Walk?”

I know you are all worried about me now, because I feel it and I see it in your eyes. I know I’m sick. I’ve tried to fight it, but it’s too much for me. I’m so tired. I want to stay with you, because it hasn’t been long enough for us. Five years has gone by so very fast. You look at me and cry, and I want to comfort you, so I look back into your eyes for a long time to let you know it’s OK. I trust you. I always have trusted you with my life. And now I trust you with the ending too. Thank you for giving me a second chance at a happy life. Thank you that I was good enough to keep.

God will make me well again soon, and I will wait for you.

I love you with all my heart,

Buddy

xoxoxoxo