disney world: animal kingdom!

it’s safari time! and finally the weather was not chilly or cold. in fact, we even took off our jackets a few times (yay!)… only to have to put on ponchos later in the afternoon. but you know what? that did not stop our fun one bit. we were silly, happy girls even in the rain. i mean, doesn’t rain make everything more adventurous? i always say that i want to soak up the moments… and this day, i did just that. literally.

we noticed that it had rained during the night, but we remained optimistic! after entering the park and being overwhelmed by the beauty of the natural surroundings (that had been planted, mind you) and greenery everywhere, we made our way to have some breakfast. it was a big, stick to your ribs kinda breakfast, perfect for this day. then, we got right to it.

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first up, the finding nemo musical performance! but, we had a little time to kill, so we wandered around dino-land and took in the sights. then, it was time for the show! as we waited, there was a kid sitting directly behind us. he was kicking my seat continuously and was too smart for his own good. he talked, chattered, and made a comment on everything constantly without ever taking a breath. it was exhausting just sitting behind him. and i found myself worrying that i’d never make it. if this continued through the show, i was gonna have to say something to the parents. luckily, as soon as the show – the amaaaaazing show – began, he quieted right down. i even forgot he was there. whew.DSC_0227 DSC_0651 DSC_0654 IMG_7897 IMG_7903 IMG_7912

after the show, we did some rides (i won’t say i freaked out, but i did a little. when did i become so wussy?), which turned out to be so much fun and then headed over to the asia part of the park to explore the animals and the sights…DSC_0667 IMG_7920

we walked through a jungle area and one thing became very, very clear to me. i have to go to india, indonesia, and asia. i mean, i’ve know that my wanderlust tendencies extend to that continent, but i felt so connected – even in a disney world created asia. the prayer flags, the trees and thick vegetation. it was all so peaceful. so spiritual. i truly have to go.

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then, it was off to africa and our safari! first, a quick bite for lunch, though. some african, curry something under a thatched roof, where birds and rain were still enjoying our meal with us. though, the food was not great (the one & only time we had not so great food), we entertained each other (and everyone else probably) tremendously as we caught a case of the giggles and could not settle down. when we decided to move on, it was raining properly, so i had to buy a poncho with a big ass mickey on it. lina had hers with her. mine was in the hotel room. typical me.DSC_0693

but, it was time for the safari! rain or no rain. we did not care. bring it on! you know, if i’m honest, sometimes it’s fun to have a day when you just get wet and don’t care. you just let the rain pour down on you, step in all the puddles, and know that the water will not kill you. and then, then it becomes fun!IMG_7934 DSC_0697 DSC_0716 DSC_0726 DSC_0734 DSC_0744IMG_7956

that’s it folks! our hotel, all four disney world parks, downtown disney, a luau, and lots and lots of laughs. memories and fun that we won’t soon forget. thanks for traveling with us through my blog posts. of course, i highly recommend disney world – for anyone who likes magic, laughter, surprises, imagination, and time with family.

now, let’s see… where to next? hmmm… perhaps a trip to new orleans is in the very beginning stages of planning. mouahhahaha.

peace and love. and wanderlust! xx

disney world: hollywood studios!

i love movies and tv, so hollywood studios is always an exciting part of the disney world experience for me. and there’s nothing like getting a little behind-the-scenes sneak peaks, right? so, our third day at disney world was spent enjoying and exploring and experiencing the wonderful world of disney – hollywood style!

we flew through space on a star wars ride, attended a muppets 3d show, explored backlots and city scenery, learned a lot at the walt disney exhibit (soooo informational, and it changed our view and appreciation of disney and his dreams & visions!), rode through the great movie ride, and walked down “sunset boulevard”. we saw a “beauty and the beast” performance and indiana jones in action. then we ate a crazy, awesome dinner at a sci-fi drive-in. of course, we had milkshakes and hot fudge sundaes there, too. and, on our way out, we saw that the last “american idol: the experience” performance of the day was starting in one minute, so we spontaneously ran in and grabbed some seats in the theater. there were 5 finalists and they were quite good. we were surprisingly very entertained!

hollywood studios closes fairly early, so we headed back to our hotel in time to enjoy some some quiet time in the bar/lounge area of our hotel. nice, calm, relaxing, and just perfect. just me and my love after a day under the bright lights and big screen.

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i can’t believe how fast time flew by! tomorrow is the final post in my walt disney world series. and we saved the animal kingdom for last! so, check back tomorrow to see all the lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

peace and love. xx

disney world: incredible, imaginative epcot!

day two of our week-long disney world party continued at the amazing world of epcot – a place of imagination, science, techology, and international flair. and let me tell you, we soaked it all in. every single stink in’ bit. it was a beautiful day to explore, ride rides, and visit all the countries, but when the sun went down it turned windy & cooooold, so we enjoyed a three course dinner in paris (hee hee) at a fabulous french restaurant and watched the fireworks from there. well, just check it all out!


did you know that there is a ride in the big epcot ball? yep. it’s called spaceship earth & it’s freaking awesome.

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we grabbed breakfast after a few rides and some starbucks coffee to warm us up. like i said, it was beautiful, but it was cold.IMG_7733

after some space and dinosaur stuff, it was time for the land area… and an amazing ride called soarin’ and then some more sun worship.
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time for the countries!! they are all situated around a lake, so we planned to start on the left and walk all the way around. each country had authentic architecture and natives working in their stores/restaurants. it’s like taking a mini trip around the world. sooooo cool.DSC_0477 DSC_0482

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norway ( a little scandinavian treat for us!)DSC_0499










our amazing dinner at the french restaurant ended with creme brulee, chocolate mousse, & fireworks.
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what a great, amazing experience!DSC_0532

as much as i have loved epcot and magic kingdom, i cannot choose a favorite between the two… and there are two more parks to go! all of them are so individually fantastic and inspiring. stay tuned till tomorrow, when i explore hollywood studios!

peace and love. xx

disney world: the magic kingdom!

on our first day, we were so excited there was no trouble getting up early and getting going. so much to do. so much fun to have! lina was like a kid, hell, so was i. there is something purely magical about the magic kingdom. the original park (of walt disney world in florida – disneyland in california is actually older). the one filled with fantasy and micky and all things that you think of when you think of disney. so, breakfast eaten and bags packed, we were off to catch our bus!

main street madness: even on the first monday in january!


and all the obligatory shots that follow… hehe.DSC_0071 DSC_0284 DSC_0288 IMG_7596

first ride of the day: the haunted mansion. i love it to pieces.DSC_0302

and who can resist “it’s a small world”? not us!DSC_0075

characters & disney cast members dancing on the street… i’m in!DSC_0091

exploring adventureland and liberty square for lunch…IMG_7632 IMG_7634 DSC_0107 DSC_0116 IMG_7637 DSC_0122 DSC_0332 DSC_0341

tomorrowland’s main attraction: space mountain! i knew lina would love it. and i was totally right. she giggled, i screamed. the whole time.DSC_0381 IMG_7648

night fell, and it was time for the fireworks and light show to end a perfect, kinda chilly, and super exciting, over-the-top fun day! since we had the magic bands, we had a reserved, prime location for fireworks viewing. yep. only vip seats will do. DSC_0414 DSC_0432 DSC_0442 IMG_7680 IMG_7678

two very satisfied chicks. and three more days of this craziness to go!IMG_7601

tomorrow’s post is our epcot day. oh, how i adore epcot for so many reasons. you’ll see why soon… 

happy weekend, lovelies! peace. xx

disney world: our home away from home.

it’s time! i’m ready to start releasing and sharing photos from our trip to disney world last week. i can’t wait for y’all to see the things we saw, and i hope you enjoy and get to live a little vicariously through my photos. i know i always do that when i look at all of my blogging friends’ pics when they are traveling. i just love sharing and learning about tips and places that i eventually add to my bucket list after reading what others say….

my first post in my disney world vacation series is all about our accommodations – our home away from home. so, here’s my little plug for walt disney world in florida and the animal kingdom lodge!

ok. first things first. i have to say that i am overwhelmed and still giving thanks throughout every day for this incredible trip. i am completely aware of the amazing opportunity i have had to make a dream come true. i do not take my passion for and ability to travel for granted. ok. enough of that… picture time!

we left on sunday and hopped a flight down to orlando. the amazing thing was that when we checked our bags in, we weren’t going to see them until they appeared in our room. whaaaat?! after leaving a cold, rainy, dreary charlotte, and enjoying a silly and snuggly flight, we landed in sunny, warm orlando and hopped a shuttle train to our ride to the resort. i snapped some palm tree photos along the way because we were so very excited to see them. palm trees = warm weather. yay!

we passed baggage claim by (felt great) and found our way to the disney magical express bus line. there, we waited a total of maybe 10 minutes, scanned our magic band bracelets, and boarded the bus to be dropped off at our hotel – the animal kingdom lodge.

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the magic band bracelets are something new that resorts offer. they are used for everything – they are your room key, your fast pass (= skipping lines at rides), meal tickets, and other purchases. let me just say this, i almost never touched my wallet or my money or a key. it was amazing. that little magic things holds all information about our reservations, dining, and vacation package. crazy stuff. and very convenient. i highly recommend them.


we chose the animal kingdom lodge resort because of its african theme. if you know anything about disney resorts, you know that they all have some sort of theme, from animation to key west to wilderness to contemporary to island, and so on. the african themed resort with animals wandering about the savannah outside the lodge sounded just perfect to us. and let me tell you, it did not disappoint!

we got off the bus and were greeted by people telling us “welcome home” (which they also did every time we came back in the front doors during our visit). walking into the big lodge, we both just started giggling. it was beautiful, big, overwhelmingly breathtaking. a major wow factor – which i completely expected from a disney place. it was wooden, tribal, and oh so african. at the back of the gigantic lodge space was a huge window overlooking the savannah – where african animals roamed freely. there were also sofas, tables, chairs, fireplaces. everything cozy and natural. african drums were beating, music was playing, people were milling about. it was phenomenal. an indescribable first impression.





i had already done online check-in, so all we needed to do was pick up our paperwork and find our what room we had. we had chosen a pool view, just to ensure that we didn’t look at a parking lot, since we couldn’t really afford a savannah view (the most expensive rooms). still, i didn’t really care. i was excited about our pool view. as the lady showed us a map and explained where our room was, i was a little confused. then she asked me, “what room did you reserve?” and i replied that it was a pool view. and she said, “well, it looks like you’ve been upgraded to a savannah view.” gaaaahhhh! for free! amazing!

we were all but skipping down the hall to our room (we were also on the main floor, just off the main lodge amazingness) to see what it looked like. when we opened the door, our mouths fell to the floor and we spent the next few hours just soaking up this amazing luck and gift we had been given. animals roamed outside our balcony. we had palm trees all around us. and i think our room was in the perfect spot. the following photos are all taken either in the room or on our balcony. gaaaahh!



after coming back down to earth following the excitement of our room, the rest of our first night at disney world was filled with yummy african food and ambiance, a walk under the florida moon, and a quick trip to downtown disney for some fun nightlife experiences. it was time to get moving!



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we enjoyed cozy mornings with the animals all week long. and we freaked out every time we looked out and saw a different creature grazing outside our window. it was so awesome…
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to be so busy during the days at all the parks, i think we actually soaked up the atmosphere at our hotel as much as possible. usually i feel stressed out about only sleeping there, but we made time in the evenings to do things at the hotel, so it all turned out to be really well-balanced.

throughout the week we enjoyed the balcony, watched animals, and relaxed in our room.  we explored the whole resort. we ate dinner at one of the african restaurants, enjoying spicy, african cuisine and sangria. we hung out at one of the lounges/bars one evening. and we even ordered room service on our last morning before heading to the airport to return to north carolina.

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we were extremely pleased with everything at the animal kingdom lodge. every. single. thing. it was truly an incredible experience! everyone was friendly and ready to help us with any questions, making sure that everything flowed for us. nothing was a hassle, but instead anything that involved a process was handled and taken care of already – like magic. on the day of check out, we had a knock on the door, and when i opened, a nice african lady handed me a letter which said what time our bus wold pick us up to take us to the airport. our bags would already be on the way and we would get them in charlotte. and it was like that all week long. helpful, friendly, inspiring people. great accommodations.  and some majorly good karma which got us a free upgraded room. fun, new, exciting. oh yeah, i’d totally go there again.

tomorrow’s post… the Magic Kingdom!

peace & love. xx

hi there, friends.

it’s sunday, and we’re back in the mountains of north carolina after a week in not-so-sunny, but not-so bad-weather-either, florida. disney world was magical, amazing, and spectacular – all the things you expect and hope that it will be. and experiencing it with my love was sooooo fabulous. as you might guess, i have tons of photos to share with y’all, but not just yet…

we actually arrived home friday night, but had planned a fun weekend upon our arrival. the incredible paige, who blogs at for the love of wanderlust, planned a stop in asheville on her month long, solo south/southeast tour. so, we are hosting her this weekend. and it is so much fun! paige and i have been blogging friends and instagram buddies for a little over two years now, but this weekend we have become face-to-face friends. so freaking awesome.

so, we’re quite busy doing asheville, touristy things and just enjoying the moments. therefore, i’ll get back with you during next week with photos and such. it’ll be our first dive back into regular life again this coming week after a long, restful, and amazing holiday break. but, you know what? i am totally ready for that.


not until we do a little exploring and fika-ing with paige first, though! yay!

happy weekend! love & peace. xx

the most magical place in the world.


Happy Monday from Walt Disney World! We’re two really excited chicks ready to spend a week laughing, playing, eating, and relaxing with Mickey and his friends. YAY!

Yesterday afternoon we arrived at our hotel, The Animal Kingdom Lodge, and when we got our Disney’s magical package, the lady said that we’d been upgraded to a savannah view room… What?! These are the most expensive rooms at the resort and they have balconies that look out over the savannah, where animals roam. That’s right, there are zebras and wildebeests right outside our room. It’s amazing! Gotta run, today we’re exploring the Magic Kingdom!

Wishing you a happy Monday wherever you are!

Peace and love. xx

celebrating renewal!

easter sunrise 2009. cocoa beach, florida. road trip with my love to the florida keys for spring break.

easter sunrise 2009. cocoa beach, florida. road trip with my love to the florida keys for spring break.

“the secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living the life of your dreams today, in every little way you possible can.” ~ mike dooley

“i have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.” ~ j.b. priestly

“easter is the demonstration of god that life is essentially spiritual and timeless.” ~charles m. crowe

“there is a fragrance in the air, a certain passage of a song, an old photograph falling out from the pages of a book, the sound of somebody’s voice in the hall that makes your heart leap and fills your eyes with tears. who can say when or how it will be that something easters up out of the dimness to remind us of a time before we were born and after we will die?” ~ frederick beuchner

“things are always better in the morning.” ~ harper lee

“i couldn’t imagine living in a state that didn’t reach the ocean. it was a giant reset button. you could go to the edge of the land and see infinity and feel renewed.”
~ Avery Sawyer.

“reshaping life! people who can say that have never understood a thing about life—they have never felt its breath, its heartbeat—however much they have seen or done. they look on it as a lump of raw material that needs to be processed by them, to be ennobled by their touch. But life is never a material, a substance to be molded. if you want to know, life is the principle of self-renewal, it is constantly renewing and remaking and changing and transfiguring itself, it is infinitely beyond your or my obtuse theories about it.”
― boris pasternak

“i believe that when you stop renewing and are no longer open to change and the possibilities that continually unfold, you stop being alive and are just getting through the years. transformation doesn’t happen unless you’re willing: it’s your choice.” ~ oprah winfrey

“perhaps the earth can teach us. as when everything seems dead, and later proves to be alive.” ~ pablo neruda

come out of the darkness. celebrate the light. a new day is upon us! with the morning, life is renewed once again. we have a new beginning.  a new chance to follow our dreams, to live life, to be who exactly who we are. the question is… what are our dreams? who are we? and what are we going to do with our life today?! one thing is for sure, we have one more opportunity to celebrate life!

happy easter, everyone! peace, light, & love.

tapping into our inner atticus finch.

i’m sure i’ve mentioned it before sometime… (here.) my favorite book of all time. to kill a mockingbird by harper lee. well, as i was catching up on some news this morning, i ran across a blog post relating the book’s main character, atticus finch, to the votes on equality & inclusion facing the methodists at the conference in florida these next few days. it is an amazing post. short, simple, to the point. and since it discusses issues that are near & dear to my heart in light of the main character of my favorite book, i just had to post it here to share with all of you.

i most definitely could not have said it any better, so here’s the post below: (or click here to go to the website).

The African Americans (we were called “Negroes” then) were in the balcony of the court room after the jury had found Tom Robinson guilty of raping a white woman. Rev. Sykes, the Negro preacher, had invited the children of Atticus Finch, the white lawyer, to be with them in the balcony because the court room was so crowded.

Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) sat in the court room after everyone else had gone out, but the Negroes remained in the balcony with his children, waiting for him to leave.

As Atticus Finch got up and walked to the doors of the courtroom, passing under the balcony, Rev. Sykes had everyone stand up (he had to coax the daughter of Atticus Finch to stand up). They stood because this was their way of honoring a white man whose conviction and conscience about rightness and fairness were so strong that he dared go against a history and a culture of prejudice and bigotry that in so many ways said that Negroes were unworthy of respect, equality, and justice.

As I saw that scene, I thought of another white man of long ago. His name was Gilbert Haven, a New England Methodist preacher who became a Bishop. He was an outspoken ally and advocate of black people who felt that the bans against interracial marriage, from a faith and democratic perspective, were wrong.

My preacher father and my mother named me Gilbert Haven Caldwell, not because my father was named for him, but because they, like Rev. Sykes, believed that those who allow their conscience, rather than a culture of bigotry to guide their words and actions, were worthy of respect.

I wonder how many United Methodist delegates in Tampa, when matters related to same-gender loving persons come up for discussion and vote, will allow their inner Atticus Finch to come forth? Once, many persons used the Bible to support their bigotry against persons who were black. Today, there are those who ignore Jesus and the message of love in Scripture as they judge and condemn persons because of whom they love. But hearts are changing.

I believe some delegates who have been unable to be “Atticus Finch” before now will remember him in Tampa as they vote “yes,” to affirm the humanity, equality, and God-given gifts of all those who are called to serve God, regardless of whom they love or how they express their gender.

How could they do anything else in light of Jesus command to Love Your Neighbor?

~ Gilbert Haven Caldwell, Jr.. A Retired United Methodist Minister

i am holding onto hope that everyone’s “inner atticus finch” will guide their thoughts and actions in florida during the next week. actually, in all areas of life, we all could learn to let our “inner atticus finch” lead us.

wishing you all peace & love for your neighbor.

things i love.

if you know me, then you know that there are a few things that i truly love…

  1. i love my wife. so, so much. she is my everything.
  2. i love the united methodist church (umc), of which i have been a member my whole life. it’s in my blood. grace, love, hope, the important balance between social & private faith.
  3. i love my calling to be ordained in the umc. ok. truth be told, it’s been a long journey. so it’s a love/hate relationship.
  4. i love all things that support equality for all people.
  5. i love faith & spirituality that is based on relationships & acceptance, rather than rules.
  6. i love inclusion, rather than exclusion.
  7. i love daises.
  8. and i love rainbows.

right now, in the united states, there are a bunch of things happening that affect all these things i love. way over here in sweden, i’m a tiny bit addicted to my twitter feed, following the news coming out of north carolina and tampa, florida. what’s happening, some of you wonder? well, let me explain. one thing at a time.

1. in north carolina, the early voting has begin on Amendment One… a proposed change to the NC law in which the new law would say that “marriage is only between one man & one woman”, thus making it impossible for same-sex marriages to be legal or recognized in the state. plus, a whole crapload of other things. but, let me make this clear… the laws already forbid NC to recognize same-sex marriages, so it’s already impossible to be married to my wife there. in fact, right now, nc already considers me single. how sick is that?! this amendment is taking law that is already against equal rights & writing more discrimination INTO the nc law. seriously. in 2012. we are considering becoming MORE discriminatory in nc. makes me feel sick to my stomach. all this means that  lina & i will continue to have no choice of where to live. sweden it is.  because here we’re married and not discriminated against.

the only way we move forward (or actually just stay where we are, which is still unrecognized as a couple), is for everyone to VOTE NO, to vote AGAINST the amendment between now & may 8.

needless to say, i’m glued to the nc news right now. it’s so important to me.

2. in florida, the united methodist church (umc) has begun their general conference = the gigantic meeting of united methodists from all over the world that occurs only every 4 years. i have been a member of/worked in the umc my whole life. during the 10 day/2 week long meeting, many things are discussed, debated, and decided. 8 years ago i got to attend the conference in pittsburgh, pennsylvania. it was crazy, amazing – in wonderful & in horrible ways. people coming together & people arguing.

the most influential part of the conference was observing all of those who were fighting for equality within the church. to be honest, it overwhelmed me, in a scary way. it was so intense. these people cried. they just wanted to be seen, to be heard, to be able to live their lives just like everyone else, no matter who they loved. i was so touched. but, i couldn’t quite connect with them, i couldn’t understand their perspective. their feelings of discrimination and abandonment.

ha. funny how life goes, huh? now it’s eight years later, and i know exactly what they were feeling. back then i had no idea i’d fall in love with, much less marry, a woman and at the same time feel so confident in my sense of calling to be ordained. back then, i was married to a man, working in a church, studying to be a minister, but not sure if i wanted to be ordained or not. but, my journey these past 8 years has cleared up everything (though it has been a crazy, long, tough, amazing journey). i am amazingly happily married, to a woman; and i feel so strongly, so assured in my calling to be ordained in the umc. i know who i am.

but, there’s one problem though. according to the umc, i can’t be both happily married to a woman & an ordained pastor. the umc does not recognize who i am.

somehow, even though i was once married to a man, completed all of my seminary studies, was on track to be ordained (only a few months left), and worked in a church for 7 years, the minute that i spoke the words that i was now married to a woman, all of my gifts/talents disappeared, and my calling seemed to become irrelevant to the umc. all of the sudden, though i am exactly the same person, i was rendered unfit to be ordained. because of who i love. this decision is based on who i LOVE. the loving part is wrong, but how is loving someone wrong? and when i met lina, did all of my gifts/talents and qualifications which i had (and which were affirmed by others) just disappear?  did they?!

i’m angry. i’m pissed. i’m hurt. i’m confused. and i now understand those masses of people from general conference 8 years ago… their pleas and cries to be heard, to be treated fairly. i have not changed. i am still me. i’m just in love. and in a healthy marriage. and, what, that makes me unfit to complete my ordination process according to some freaking paragraph in the UM Book of Disciple (rule book)?!

ok. breathe. i’m sorry for that. it’s just that this is who i am. and every time i truly think of it, i can’t help but well up with tears. i am called to be ordained, in a church that is flawed (just like all of us), but that i love anyway. i just want to be recognized by the umc for who i am. of course i can work outside of the umc (which i am doing now, sort of.), but i know my calling. i know my soul.

anyway, for the next 10ish days methodists from all over the world are gathering to worship, talk, discuss, plan, and decide things that will then become the way we run the umc for the next 4 years. of course, there will be discussions & arguments regarding equality – marriage for all people and ordination of all people. i am praying so hard that the umc votes to include, rather than exclude. i am hoping that there will be a change, that the umc will no longer refuse to ordain people because they love the “wrong people”.

so, i’m glued to blogs & my twitter feed to find out what’s being said & decided. in florida & in north carolina.

and i’m so emotional. big stuff is gonna be decided over the next 2 weeks. it could affect me greatly. but, more than just me, i am thinking about all people. in all situations, i believe that we should always seek to bring more equality, love, acceptance, respect, and justice into this world. we should not just keep the status quo, and we most definitely should not decide to discriminate even more. no matter what, though, i’ll never give up. change is gonna come.

can you, will you, please think thoughts of reconciliation, justice, and equality with me? thanks for reading & for listening, dear blog friends. it means so much to me.

peace, love, understanding, and rainbows.