Mental health, Spirituality

Further understanding and integration of my shadow self, getting comfortable with discomfort

When I first started this spiritual journey into healing my mental health and searching for just who I am there were two concepts that honestly terrified me. Those two things were the idea of healing my inner child and meeting my shadow self. The latter being the most intriguing yet completely unacceptable to me way back then. November of 2011 was an extremely dark period of my life yet it also marks an important time in my life because I was given the gift of desperation. Once I hit my bottom the only way to go was up and through. Understand that clearly dear readers, the only way to healing is walking through the pain. There are no quick fixes, magic pills that numb your feelings forever because those feelings are sensations in your body that send your brain important messages of what your body needs.

Our society wants to ignore feelings, seeing them as a weakness not a strength. Swallow or stuff them in order to be strong when in essence it is completely the opposite that grows one’s mental strength. This past weekend’s full moon was a very powerful reminder for me to actively release all that no longer serves me. It also brought up some more darker truths, that being the existence of my shadow self. But what is shadow self?

When we are born we don’t know anything about how our body works and what it needs. As our knowledge about theworld around us grows our personality is forming. Based upon what is socially acceptable, some aspects of ourselves are repressed and denied because they are seen as negative. It is the subconscious part that our egos don’t want to identify with, everything of which is unconscious. Basically the unknown. In order to truly become enlightened one must explore, accept and integrate this side of ourselves to achieve true balance and a sense of wholeness. Again, there is no way around this, one must walk through. There are many ways that we can learn more about this mysterious side of ourselves but my favorite is journaling. The kind of writing that is free flowing, not thought out, in order to access those feelings we deem as ugly, the ones we don’t want to admit to having. We all have parts of ourselves that we deny because we naturally seek love and acceptance. Our egos tell us loads of lies to protect ourselves from rejection, abandonment and pain. What’s amazing is that this other side of ourselves is actually incredibly powerful and necessary to our evolement, by becoming more self aware we grow to accept others too. We can identify and show empathy toward others when we see these sides of their personalities emerge. We become less judgemental of first ourselves, then of others. We can forgive more easily and practice humility. When I consciously made the decision to meet my shadow self my ego was screaming at me to stop, close that door and bolt it forever. Throw away the imaginary key that I had created in childhood. The energy that I have now restored within myself by ceasing to repress this side is so empowering. All that exhaustively wasted energy was my egos attempt to keep my true spirit covered. I thought I was protecting myself and staying safe. The exact opposite is true as I was a prisoner of my own mind. Stuck really, feeling as though I was fighting my own brain. I repeated this pattern for a couple years. Put my self healing on a shelf, not ready to deal with it.

The same patterns emerged around facing my inner child. That wounded little girl that was conditoned to betray herself and her needs in oorder to have the acceptance of others. Over time that progamming made me feel unworthy of love and attention cementing within me that I was unimportant. That is where real suffering begins and lies. I had ignored my childhood pain for long enough because these mixed up messages were creating chaos within my relationships. I was constantly being triggered into a trauma response morphing me into this extremely hypervigilant, nervous and fearful individual who had an over abundance of anxiety.

By following me and reading this blog of mine, you should be able to tell by now that I have made a lot of progress in investigating, facing and accepting both my shadow self and healing my inner child. I believe it is a lifelong conscious decision and isn’t something that happens overnight. I am actively reparenting myself by tending to that part of my wounded self. It demands my patience, requires self compassion and asks for me to allow space for showing myself grace. This concept is especially challenging for me because I want to deny myself, blame myself and hurt myself when I feel certain of my needs aren’t being met. It is up to me and only me to fulfill these needs and tell myself new stories, creating a new tape to play in my mind when I am triggered.

Monday morning I awoke feeling so powerful and confident but by that evening I found myself triggered, acting out and all those parts of my shadow self were alive and well in my behavior. I created chaos within the partnership with my fiance because I was relying too heavily on him to mke everything better. He was so confused and alarmed by my words and actions. In hindsight he had every right to question the woman in front of him. In the past I would deny any of this was even happening because I wasn’t ready to acknowledge the darkness within me and the pain inside me that had been laying dormant for years. That is the old Maria, now I am choosing to heal by accepting this new path. I spent yesterday giving myself permission to show myself some love. I practiced self care, rested my overworked body and mind by spending some extra time practicing meditation. Inner peace is only achieved when I can slow down my thoughts, observe them without judgement and become mindful of my breath.This is where the power of choice comes in. Making the conscious decision to understand mysef more fully AND accept whatever comes up is like a new superpower.

Making friends with the darkest of my emotions has sparked a tremendous surge in my creativity. Realizing my shadow self is a reflection of my power, honesty and passion. I can laugh at myself with ease and rerelinquish the perfectionist in me that tells me to hate myself when I make a mistake. I can take myself less seriously. I use my meditation practice to focus on self compassion when I feel like I want to start beating myself up again. Squashing old patterns and forming new pathways takes mental, emotional and spiritual awareness. The mental strength and courage to be my best and most whole self. It’s like meeting myself for the 1st time. It’s the most gratifying and profoundly powerful experience to date on my self healing journey.

Sending love, compassion and understanding to al the other self healers out there, we got this💪🙏✌💖

Spirituality

Signs of transformation

The past two weeks since I last wrote a post have been full of highs and lows, such is life. The best parts have been glorious while the darker ones have definitely served as more life lessons. Now that summer is over and Autumn is upon us, I can look back and really reflect upon how much I have grown since early June.

Since deeply healing from the traumatic events in my past, I have consciously let go of the intense fear that was encompassing my entire life. It felt like a motor, the anxiety constantly coursing through my veins. The self doubt, mistrust of myself and not feeling good enough were beliefs I wore like a shield of armor. It didn’t protect me however, it hindered me and prevented my spiritual growth.

July was an extremely dark time for me while I worked to integrate my shadow self into the lighter side of my personality and spirit. I know now that the pushing away and denying of this part of my psyche caused it only to build and grow stronger. Like it was screaming at me loudly for acceptance all the while I was deaf to it! Refusing to accept these two intricate parts of myself took a lot of deep inner reflection, meditation and letting go. Slowly but surely, as I showed myself grace, while remaining patient with myself all of the pain and anguish disappeared.

Once the clouds had parted I started to see my life transform and take on a whole new direction. Manifesting my intentions and asking the universe to provide me with signs has been life altering. It seems that everyday a new person shows up to validate the truths I am now living! I have an amazing support circle of ladies both on social media and in my own life that uplift my spirits and allow me to soar higher as the free spirit I am!

Let me share with you two recent stories regarding how the universe works itself into my life to provide me with what I need at that moment. I am now managing a cute boutique inside of a popular contemporary hotel in downtown Dallas called The Statler. I absolutely love it because I get to do what I am best at, talking to people and fashion! A woman came in and immediately I could tell she was from Australia. I mention to her that a dear friend of mine lives there and that the two us went to high school togetet over twenty years ago. She then tells me that she and her partner are visiting Dallas for a wine tasting at our hotel. I tell her my friend runs a vineyard near Adelaide. Then she asked me the name of the vineyard to which I couldn’t recall. So then she comes right out and asks for a name. When I told her my friend’s name, she abruptly stopped what she was doing and told me with as much astonishment as enthusiasm that she knows him very well!! Apparantly her and her partner work closely with him on their wine!! There are 23 million people in Australia and this perfect stranger and I know the same person! What’s even more unbelievable is that my friend and I grew up in a small town in Northern New Jersey and here she and I were meeting in Dallas, TX!!! So cool right?

The night just kept getting better from there dear readers. An older couple came in and as soon as they started talking I could tell they were from the Boston area. I lived in Rhode Island for 13 years from 2000-2013. My two sons still live there with my ex-husband. I have a lot of fond memories of the area and the three of us hit it right off! They must’ve spent over an hour in the store shopping and telling me stories! I learned that Rosemary (Rosie) and Bob have been married for over forty years with two sons, one is married and one is close to becoming engaged. They adore their sons partners and even the women’s families which is awesome and rare to find. Such beautiful people, inside and out!

I share these two shining examples of humanity to highlight that we do really live in a small world. We are ALL connected in some way. Love and kindness are easy values to practice if more of us took the time to connect with each other. It’s not hard, takes little effort and patience, add a splash of curiosity and that’s it!! Socializing is becoming a lost art because of our fast paced world and high speed technology. Start making a conscious effort to put your phone down and look away from a screen in order to meet the people who come into your life. Trust me the entire experience is so rewarding!

I also experienced my first phenomenally profound vision. Last Saturday night I came home to a dark sky full of bright stars. One in particular caught my eye as it started to twinkle brilliantly against its black backdrop. I then watched it take on a deep purple hue as it transformed into a rose before turning into angel wings. Big and beautiful while remaining clearly present in this vivid purple color that took my breath away! My mouth hung open as I struggled to come to terms with exactly what was going on. I now believe my guardian angel revealed itself to me as a sign of mercy and transformation.

I started to ask Google in rapid fire succession anything and everything I could to figure out what just happened. I learned that Angel’s are neither male or female but are all knowing entities. This is what Google says:
Abrahamic religions often depict angels as benevolent celestial beings who act as intermediaries between God (or Heaven) and humanity. Other roles of angels include protecting and guiding human beings, and carrying out tasks on behalf of God.

Seeing the angel represented in the color purple means:
The purple angel light ray represents mercy and transformation. This ray is part of the metaphysical system of angel colors based on seven different light rays: Some people believe that the light waves for the seven angel colors, blue, yellow, pink, white, green, red, and purple, vibrate at different electromagnetic energy frequencies and attract the angels that have similar kinds of energy.

This information comes from an article entitled, “Angel Colors: The Purple Light Ray, Led by Archangel Zadkiel” written by Whitney Hopler. She goes to to explain this:

Purple Light Ray and Archangel Zadkiel

Zadkiel, the archangel of mercy, is in charge of the purple light ray. Zadkiel helps people approach God for mercy when they’ve done something wrong, encouraging them that God cares and will be merciful to them when they confess and repent of their sins, and motivating them to pray. Just as Zadkiel encourages people to seek the forgiveness that God offers them, he also encourages people to forgive others who have hurt them and helps deliver divine power that people can tap into to enable them to choose forgiveness, despite their hurt feelings.

Zadkiel helps heal emotional wounds by comforting people and healing their painful memories. He helps repair broken relationships by motivating estranged people to show mercy to each other.

I firmly believe in this explanation Ms. Hopler writes about because I saw it with own two eyes while under no mental stress or chemical impairment. My senses are heightened, my gifts are growing more powerful while my spirituality is always evolving.

Look for signs from the universe my dear readers, they are all around us in abundance just waiting to be acknowledged. Enjoy your weekend. I wish you peace, love and light ✌❤🌠

Mental health

Appreciation for feelings

I’ve come to accept and fully appreciate the fact that I’m a highly sensitive person or HSP. I’ve disclosed before in my blog posts that I’m an intuitive, emotional and physical empath. All that being said, I am an emotional being. That is a fact I used to feel shame for. Others would criticize my emotional responses to certain high intensity situations and I would allow their harshness to hurt my fragile feelings. I definitely am someone who wears their heart on their sleeve. Instead of being embarrassed or ashamed for having deep rooted emotions, today I am grateful for them.

Trusting ones gut is a basic and instinctive response to danger. There’s a reason why we say, “go with your gut.” It’s our bodies natural defense mechanism and a way for us to identify how best to react in a potentially dangerous situation. For too long, I was trying to condition myself to be numb. Ignore what I was feeling, not trusting myself or my own instincts proved very detrimental to my safety and well being.

I’ve now learned that with balance, patience and acceptance that I have held these powers all along I just wasn’t listening to them. I subconsciously became too overly trusting of others for fear that my emotions would loom too large. I always held myself back in one way or another.

I love to listen to podcasts and YouTube videos, a few years ago I came across a series about the dangers of denying ones true self. Our emotions are what make us human. I rewatched these videos a few times until it finally struck me. I remember it clearly, the epiphany I had was a game changing principle that I had been resisting for far too long.

The peace that overcame me when I finally began trusting and believing in myself was something I had never experienced before. The quest for my true self had been lying just underneath the surface all along. In that moment, everything began to change.

Shame was washed away and I finally embraced myself as the emotional and spiritual being that I am. The power in that is great my dear readers. There is nothing I can’t accomplish with these beliefs.

My message to you my readers is to learn from my example. Trust your feelings and use them to your advantage. They serve an important role in life. It’s a strange paradox I know to feel others so deeply and honestly yet I was denying myself. Looking back it was just another lesson I had to learn the hard way. I’m blessed to have this newfound perspective and greater understanding of myself.

Feeling amazingly peaceful on this Sunday. Peace, love and light to you all✌🙏❤☺

Mental health, Spirituality

Steadily climbing a mountain

One of my favorite quotes is by Sir Edmund Hillary, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” Today this quote really resonates with me. I am acknowledging and giving myself the gift of self love by recognizing how far I have come in only a year. My C-PTSD has been in remission for three and a half years. I have gone from being a mess upon the floor, sobbing and in a dissoactive episode to holding a management position at work while self publishing my own book of poetry. I’m really so very grateful and elated with how truly wonderful it feels to have inner peace and strength within my soul.

On Tuesday my team at work and I witnessed a near fatal car accident right in front of our window. It was the most horrible and terrifying scene I have ever witnessed. The sounds and visuals have left their scar on my heart. The gentleman’s truck looked like God himself crushed it with his hands and dropped it out of the sky onto its roof where it landed. My store is next to the freeway and the driver’s truck came literally flying off the road landing on its roof on the grass across the street from us. Airbags deployed, windows busted out and smoke billowing from it, the truck looked unreal. The five of us dropped what we were doing and immediately ran outside. Three of us called 911 while the my two other younger coworkers ran up to the truck itself. One of them had grabbed our fire extinguisher and used it to smother the smoke and kept a fire from starting. Her heroic actions really moved me. She later admitted that her own father had died in a similar situation so I felt it was a kind of redemption on her part in trying to save this man’s life. The EMT’S pulled him from his vehicle alive and consciousness which is truly miraculous given the circumstances.

For the rest of the day we all kept hugging each other. We used our nervous energy to clean our store to a like new condition. When I closed up Tuesday night I felt a sense of pride for how we coped with the days extraordinary and unusual events. I can honestly say when you witness such an extreme example of life and death in front of your own eyes, while in a job setting it changes your perspective.

Here’s what I took away from Tuesday.

1. Life is too short, each moment is a gift. I will not waste my time with frivolous worries about things out of my control. My time is precious, therefore I must prioritize accordingly.

2. I work with 5 very selfless people who I know have my back in a special way. That feeling is priceless both on a professional and personal level.

3. I am getting stronger. This same situation for my past self would’ve driven me up under the covers for a few days. Left me a puddle of tears and nerves.

4. I can do this……I managed and led people through a crisis. I continued to do my job in a professional manner despite the chaos. We all went back to work serving and assisting our customers.

All in all as I reflect now I can see myself steadily rising up from the ashes of despair and heartache. One foot in front of the other I climb. I keep going even though my mind is screaming “NO” and “you can’t do it”. I’m proving to myself everyday that the challenges I face are all preparing me for greater things. The best is still yet to come which is what gets me out of bed everyday!

I never thought I would achieve success again after so many failures. Attempting suicide, being strangled to within inches of my life on my previous job eight years ago, going through a hell of a divorce, surviving domestic violence and rape, losing touch with my children, being homeless, coping with my fiance’s health issues. The list is lengthy and not for the faint of heart.

Last week I made a life long dream come true all on my own. I self published my first book of poetry. It is available as both an e-book and in paperback through Amazon.com. I have created a small following here with this blog and my writing profile on Instagram called Emotional Musings.

I am currently working on putting together a book signing event here locally with family and friends. Sharing my success with those who have loved, supported and believed in me is such a blessing. It gives me the chills that I have so many wonderfully loving people in my life today.

I’m bursting with positivity and gratitude. And yes…….

I have survived and conquered over myself.

Living my motto, “Triumphing over trauma “.

Mental health, Spirituality

The intense feeling of anticipation

Today is the day my dear readers!!! I am sitting aboard a flight that will take me to my son! I have been dreaming of this exact amazing moment for over 2 1/2 years. That’s a long time to wait patiently. This entire situation with my children and becoming estranged from them has almost broken me completely. It definitely tested my courage and beliefs. I have learned an entire new level of being patient and how fruitful the outcome can be! Once what seemed a long shot and something that seemed was never going to happen is now just a plane ride away! Be still my rapidly beating heart.

It’s also been about four years since I have traveled alone. I have been so consumed with caring and helping out others that realizing this fact caught me off guard. I have gotten into a very comfortable routine in these last three months on my new job. I realize now that I haven’t disclosed to you readers what I do exactly for my day job to pay the bills.

Three months ago I interviewed with Starbucks as a barista. When I was well into the interview with my manager she asked me if I wanted to be a Shift Supervisor since she was looking to fill that position as well. I immediately turned her down. I wasn’t confident enough having not been in the full time work force for years. I have spent the past three years caring for my fiance since his medical issues had gotten more severe. In every past position I held in retail, I had been asked to be part of the management team. I never actually thought I could do it and that level of responsibility kind of scared me.

Just two weeks into my journey as a Starbucks barista, the opportunity presented itself again. My manager was in a desperate need to hire a shift because one of ours was transferring. I decided to say yes and go for it. That was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The position is quite challenging and there have been days that I thought would break me yet I soldier on and even surprise myself with how well I am doing. Most people are with the company much longer before they get promoted. Timing is everything. This is my time and I’m beyond proud of myself that I just did it. The level of confidence and self esteem I have acquired by taking this position is immeasurable and priceless. I have toyed around with the idea of working for Starucks for years honestly. It wasn’t until they started to build our new store so close to my home that I took it as a sign from the universe, it was the right time.

This post is about connection and anticipation. These two examples of my reconnection with my oldest son and my decision to work for a company I have admired for years is all about patience and timing. Having a strong faith that everything I have wanted for years would work itself out took a leap of faith on my part. No action was required. Too many times, especially in our busy society we are forced to define ourselves by what we are “doing”. In both these cases I wasn’t doing anything but simply living my life the best way I knew how by putting one foot in front of the other in a patient and steady manner. I wasn’t attempting to make things “happen” by willfully interjecting myself or making demands on others. It was all about the timing.

I know it’s a cliche but, I believe everything does happen for a reason. God needs us to learn certain lessons in life before he moves us along down a new path. Remaining patient was a real challenge some days and I felt like screaming but I didn’t succumb to my anxiety or worries. In time, my son did call and I did get a good job. It’s all working out in God’s time, not mine.

I wrote this poem in the vein of all of these emotions as I process how long I have waited for this week to come seeing my son. It’s my time for reckoning. Peace✌

Ironic addition to this story……as I sit waiting to take off, the pilot comes on and tells us we have a mechanical issue. We taxied back to the gate and are now in limbo awaiting the final decide if our plane is safe for take off or do we all get on a new plane. More patience and more waiting is required of me. I got this😉

Mental health, Spirituality

Why I’m happy I put myself on the list

It’s a brand new year and this is a brand new me! After forty-one years of putting everybody else’s needs before my own, I have decided to put myself on my list of priorities. Here’s the kicker, I feel no guilt about it either!! Honestly it feels so good to take charge and stand up for myself. I’m no longer willing to allow anybody to walk all over me any longer. The buck as they say stops here!

This mindset is years in the making dear readers, it definitely didn’t appear overnight. After years of abuse, trauma and self harm I have finally turned a corner. I am strong, I am confident and most importantly I love myself. What’s changed and how did I get here you may be wondering? I believe the answer is all in the timing. As an intuitive, emotional and physical empath I’m highly interested in our metaphysical world. Astrology has always interested me since I was very young. Whenever I would read about my birthday and projected charts, I always read that I would be a late bloomer. That I wouldn’t “come into my own” until later in life. It’s really just in the last two years that things started to just click for me. Stuff I used to struggle with just isn’t a stressor anymore. All the time spent healing, praying,years of taking medications and rivers of tears have come to fruition. The seeds I started planting seven years ago are beginning to sprout. Writing about this gives me pure elation but actually feeling this way is so peaceful!

I recently had to make a choice at work to stand up for myself with the management. In the past I would of swallowed the poor treatment, condescending tone and allowed myself to feel bad. Those days are over! I took matters into my own hands and went above my direct manager’s head by expressing my frustrations to higher management. The result is respect, both my own and from my manager. I will NOT be treated poorly by anyone because I now value myself. Trust me dear readers, if you have been flowing my posts, you can understand how pivotal this is for me.

In this last week I had to chase down a full refund from my credit card company for something I purchased but never received. I put forth so much effort in obtaining the final refund and I wasn’t taking no for an answer. These two events really spoke to me by showing me that it’s ok to not accept what the world is giving you. It’s alright to say, hey nah….no thank you. I deserve better than what you are offering me.

Growing up I was so shy and believed I was crazy because I could feel other people’s feelings and know their thoughts. I’m a middle child, a team player who’s comfortable having someone else be the leader. I’m a companion type of person who is great at supporting others but I now understand I was letting myself down at times by not pushing forward to reach my full potential in certain circumstances.

In combination with the timing of the universe, I believe my new career has greatly improved my self esteem and proven to me I can be a leader. Making the choice to share my writing has also given me a huge confidence boost and aided me in finding like minded people all over the world. Thank you to all of you who follow me, it means the world to me.

As a child I was unaware of my gifts. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere,just strange and on the outside looking in. A square peg in a round hole, a sore thumb and the black sheep. I can honestly say I don’t feel like that anymore. I believe in myself and I know my worth. I love where I am going and I believe this is my year. This is my time.

Mental health, Spirituality

My grateful heart

Since my last post, I’m happy to report that so much has changed for the better!! Two days after Christmas with the help of my ex brother in-law and my sister, my oldest son Tyler finally reached out!! We have been messaging and chatting every night since!! We have our long awaited reunion set up for next month which will include my family too. I haven’t gotten to hug him in over two years and my parents, sister, niece and nephew have been deprived of his company for over six years!

The last time my family has spent time with him he was a kid. Now he is on the verge of adulthood! He sent me a current picture of him that I can’t stop staring at. He really is my mini me in so many ways both inside and out. I’m beyond proud of the young man he is. My soul is at peace and my heart is bursting with joy.

This whole situation has taught me many invaluable life lessons. The two greatest being patience and perseverance in the face of adversity. Retaining my hope and faith that all would eventually work out is what kept me going daily. Living each day without any communication from my sons has been the worst emotional pain I have ever felt. My heart literally felt broken. Despite it all, I got out of bed every day when my brain was screaming for me not to. I sent numerous letters without a response. I prayed for the strength I required in order to carry on and keep trying to achieve my dreams. I was able to push aside the guilt all mother’s innately feel on most days to pursue my new career. Also, I launched this blog and my poetry profile on Instagram of the same name, Emotional Musings.

I firmly believe that my youngest isn’t too far behind his big brother. Once he sees him talking and visiting with me I think he will come around too. Divorce is terrible for any family. Parent alienation is both real and devastatingly traumatic for the children and the parent that is being shut out by the other parent. I agreed to divorce my ex-husband, but I DID NOT agree to divorce my children.

I’m really proud of myself because I didn’t allow the guilt and shame to shallow me up alive. There were days I didn’t think I would make it through. In the end though the saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” holds true. Again, I’m reminded of how strong I am. I have conquered over many situations and conditions, some even threatened to end my life for good.

I took one of those psychological quizzes today on PsychTest.com

Here are my results:

Both your right and left hemisphere seem to have reached a level of perfect harmony – rather than trying to dominant each other, they work together to create a unique and well-balanced “you”. Your spontaneous, impulsive, and free-flowing right brain creates an exciting and adventurous world, while your left brain helps you make sense of it and keep track of everything.

When faced with a problem or a tough decision, you’re not only able to break things down and make an informed and sensible choice, but you’re also not afraid to go with your gut when necessary. You tend to express your individuality both in words and actions, and although you’re perfectly comfortable running on a schedule or planning things ahead of time, there are occasions when you love to throw in a little spontaneity.

Your balanced outlook and approach to life creates a desire in you to not only understand the world, but to also take it in your hands and mold it as you see fit. With both your right and left hemispheres working together to guide you, you are able to understand yourself and life in general from so many wonderful perspectives.

So my dear readers, my message is to never give up. You are stronger than you think you are, even at your lowest points, there is always a reason to keep going. This too shall pass. Everything is temporary and tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. I am a lover, a giver and a fucking warrior. I believe in you. Thank you for following me and reading this blog. It is serving as a timeline for my children and I. I hope it also serves as a beckon of hope for you all who read it.

I’m very close to finishing my book of poetry that I am self publishing through Amazon. Stay tuned dear readers for more I information on the release date and how to download it. I wrote this poem this morning to reflect my grateful heart.