Oh Captain My Captain… There But For the Grace.

It is the 2nd anniversary of Robin Williams’ death, and I still miss him. I know, he wasn’t a personal friend; I didn’t know him in “real life,” but I loved him. He was out there making magic, for most of my adult life… and several years before that. I miss him. I am sharing this post again, while I struggle to write new ones, to remember all of the things I loved most about him.

This post also marks my own coming out. I had not shared my own struggle with suicide and depression, until I posted this piece. Much has changed in the past several years. I am well. I am strong. But Robin Williams is a reminder that many of us stumble. We feel alone; we feel sad and hopeless; we don’t know what to do. Robin Williams is a reminder that endings like his leave only pain and lost opportunities. I am here, as a reminder that things do change. We do find strength, and joy, and reasons to live. If you are struggling, please reach out.

 

*As you start this post, know that there are some great links here. I spent a lot of time digging them up– there are so many, it’s hard to choose!  Play them. It’s been a full week since I he…

Source: Oh Captain My Captain… There But For the Grace.

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The Importance of the Heart

** I don’t “re-blog” other posts very often. I know, it’s something we are told to do, to increase traffic and to bring in more readers. That’s probably true. I don’t avoid it because I don’t like to share other bloggers’ work, or because I don’t think there are good posts out there. On the contrary! There are just too many wonderful posts, and I sincerely feel guilty when I share one person’s work, and not another’s. I know… it may not make sense to everyone, but it’s something I’ve struggled with since I started blogging. Generally, I post my own work, and avoid ruffling some feathers–– while stroking a others.

However, when I read this post this morning, I was so moved, that I wanted to share it! I have followed Sara from nearly the first year of my own blogging; she was just starting too. I loved her thoughtful approach to life; her sweet life, in a magical piece of woods and river, of Australia, and her wisdom. I’ve enjoyed watching her journey, as she seeks out what she needs to nourish herself as a mother, wife, woman, caring human, deep thinker and feeling mystic. She is a wise woman, who shares meaningful insights on so many aspects of life.

So today I am sharing. Because Sara expressed so many things I have felt and continue to feel, about so many things… in this one, beautiful, insightful post. I hope you enjoy it too, and check out more of Sara’s writing. You won’t be disappointed! And maybe, in the near future, I will get back to my own blogging!

Sara’s words:

Yesterday I heard that huge tracts of the giant sea kelp forests in the ocean off Western Australia had completely vanished, destroyed by rising sea temperatures, and I died a little bit too. Yeste…

Source: The Importance of the Heart

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It’s The Zombie Apocalypse!

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A diamond night!

If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, and you thought the Zombie Apocalypse would go down with flesh eating creatures all around, spreading their contagion, while everyone scrambles for food and resources– you got it all wrong. The Zombie Apocalypse is here, and it’s a much kinder, gentler event. It involves folks with cell phones, generally held aloft, out for a walk. It does in fact seem to be very contagious, having spread faster in a few weeks, than anything I’ve seen in my 53 years. It has definitely had an impact on parking, where I live, and crowds, where I like to walk, but no food shortages, and no rotting flesh… so far.

But make no mistake: Pokemon go has taken over! If you are my age, you have probably wondered why there are a lot more “young people” out walking, in recent weeks. It’s not just the summer weather; it’s Pokemon Go. On Sunday, July 10th, the fourth day of release, my husband and I went for a walk along the boardwalk, where we live. We happen to live in one of the most beautiful places possible. The boardwalk extends out over the bay, and that night the sun left millions of diamonds sparkling on the water. We had noted that there wasn’t a single parking spot– unusual, but not unheard of, on a warm Sunday night. We also noticed that a lot of people had their phones out– a little stranger. When I noted that many of them were yelling things like: “I’ve got 490,” and “I just got a fairy,” I made the connection.

Four days before that, my son and a friend of his, had come home and enthusiastically told me they’d been out looking for Pokemons on their phones. I hadn’t heard my 20 year-old son mention Pokemon, since he packed up his card collection, ten years earlier. They explained that it was a new App for phones, which works with your GPS, to put you in a Pokemon world, using your surroundings as a backdrop. Imagine: you look through the camera on your phone screen and there’s a Pokemon character in the scene. Now, imagine that you touch the screen (I’m simplifying here), and you get points for catching these characters. That is Pokemon Go… over simplified, the very enthusiastic Pokemon zombies would tell you, and this is indeed an epidemic. On that Sunday, day four of the game’s release, after already having walked past at least 100 people, I began asking EVERY SINGLE person we passed, if they were playing Pokemon. Of the 100 people I asked, only 6 were not playing Pokemon Go!

Further evidence that this is the Zombie Apocalypse: just pause for a moment and watch these folks. They stagger around waving their phones in the air, or stare off at the landscape, with a feverish look: zombie. They cluster together, and non-players have to jump out of their way, zombie. They touch you, and show you their screen, and next thing you know, you’re playing too, zombies. I have seen folks run into the street, phone held high, entirely unaware that I almost killed them. I’ve seen single zombies as well as groups, hustling down the street, headed for the nearest “gym.” This is not an actual gym, where people work out, but a Pokemon Go site, where epic battles are fought, generally located in places that the rest of us would otherwise enjoy for… say, taking a walk at sunset.

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When I posted my initial findings on my Facebook page, as a humorous observation: “100 people asked, only 6 not playing Pokemon,” along with a photo of said diamond night, there was lots of criticism. “This makes me so sad,” said one friend. Others criticized the overuse of cell phones, and one more thing that takes young people out of the “here and now.” The consensus was that we are indeed going to hell in a hand basket. And that’s when something strange happened: I found myself defending the Zombie Apocalypse. Having avoided the trend in zombie-everything, for the past several years, this was more than a little surprising to me. Me, defending zombies? Me, defending more tech distractions, and smart phone use? Me defending a crowd mentality? Apparently, yes.
These folks are NOT playing Pokemon Go:

Let me explain. I am one of the first people to complain about what I perceive to be a lack of connectivity in society– with people texting, rather than phoning; Facebook being the main venue for many people when it comes to “friends,” and a sense of alienation that many people feel. We rely on smart phones for so many of our needs and connections. It’s nearly impossible to go out to a restaurant, concert, movie, (you name it), and not find a sea of screens lit up. If we have a question while out with friends, it’s a race to draw out phones and look up the answer. God forbid we simply remain uninformed for the course of a meal. In some circles, entire relationships are started, had, and ended online, not in person! While I love my smart phone, and use it for a lot, I resent the way these pervasive trends dominate so many social interactions, often isolating people, rather than connecting them. Throw in video gaming, where people are inside, and often playing with others, only through a screen, and… well, as you can see, there’s a lot to be potentially critical of.

However, Pokemon Go seems to be changing a lot of that. I have seen more young people outside, over the past two weeks, than I recall seeing in a very long time! Yes, they are playing a video game, but most of them are doing it with other people. They are playing and having fun, outside. Many of them are pausing to look up and take a photo of a sunset, which they might have otherwise missed. They are out in the parks; they are downtown getting a bite to eat, while they play; they are laughing and talking to each other. They are going places that they might not have gone, and as a side advantage: we saw a lot of dogs getting walked in the deal!

My husband noted, “some of these people don’t look like they’ve been outside in a while!” This was confirmed moments later, when one of the young women I questioned, told me just how much Pokemon Go has changed her usual routine. Her enthusiasm was contagious! “I’m a total Geek,” she stated matter of factly. “Normally, I’d go to work, and then I’d come home and be gaming. We are outdoors people, but this really makes it more fun!” She went on to tell me that she feels like this huge Pokemon Go bubble is her chance to not miss out. “I missed the whole Sega wave, and I’ve always wished I had been around for it. This gives me a chance to engage in something exciting and new!” I heard that a lot: “I’ve always been a geek, and now I feel like part of something! We’re all out here doing the same thing!” And, “It doesn’t matter where you come from, everyone’s having fun, doing the same thing!”

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A diamond night!

As with anything, there has been plenty of criticism as well. Pokemon Go made the news this past week, when it was revealed that Pokemon characters were showing up at The National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, and equally horrifying, at Auschwitz, itself. This is unacceptable, and doesn’t make for good publicity for the game. I believe it’s incumbent upon the makers of the game to show integrity, as players are going to play the game that is provided. Pokemon Go should not allow characters in places that are sacred or publicly important. Graveyards, holy sites, sacred lands of First Nations and Native Americans, National Memorials and museums, to name a few. As the game spreads around the world, it is appalling to imagine people playing the game at Hiroshima, in Japan; the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock Mosque, in Israel; Pearl Harbor; the 9/11 Memorial; the Wounded Knee Massacre memorial; the Holocaust death camp memorials, and so many other important and sacred places. These are sacred spaces, not places to play games! And yet, that’s what has been happening. While we should all know better, again, I believe this is something the makers of the game must be responsible for.

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There are plenty who disagree with me, when I defend Pokemon Go, and the masses of people playing it. No doubt, I haven’t been happy about not finding a parking place for my favorite nightly walk, or the folks who don’t watch where they’re going, in search of Pokemon wins, but I have been equally amused and happy to see so many other people out there enjoying the same places I love. I have been happy to see parents playing with their kids, rather than checking their texts and Facebook, while their kids vie for attention. I have enjoyed watching kids explain the game to their parents and grandparents. However crazy it may appear, I’ve loved watching the moments of connection.

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And for now, that’s what I’m taking away from this craze: engagement. People of all ages, though mostly younger, are engaging. They’re talking to me, and happy to tell me about what they’re doing. They’re talking to each other, as they all try and get new high scores. They’re engaging in their communities and the out of doors. These zombies are not the brain dead creatures that I expected from a zombie apocalypse; they’re fun, and excited to spread more fun.

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The arrival of Pokemon Go is not all bad; this is not the apocalypse we planned for. These zombies are engaged; they’re having fun, and they’re making history! Whether we like it or not, this is probably where things are headed for many other things. If you missed the massive jump in Nintendo stock– which has now plummeted, as investors learned that Nintendo does not own Pokemon Go, there will be other companies finding ways to make our phones interactive, other ways to pull us in to a tech world. We may all look back and realize that this was just a sweet beginning to much crazier zombie apocalypse; but for now, we are all safe to either join in or carry on. It’s hard to deny the joy and playfulness here!

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Are you or someone you love a zombie? What are your thoughts on this incredible phenomenon? Share your thoughts in the comment section; I’m listening.

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GIPYHelp Me Reach My Goals! KAPOW! I’m going big in 2016: I’d like to hit 1,200 Likes!! Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (yes, for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, as soon as they’re published, with no spam.

©2011-2016  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

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Friday Fictioneers: Because They’re All The Same

Rumors of my demise are vastly exaggerated, but… it’s been way too long. Stick, stack, stuck… too much going on, and not enough writing being done!

If you’d like to read more of the great stories from the Friday Fictioneers, or contribute your own, check out Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog Addicted to Purple. This week’s photo prompt comes from Jan Marler Morrill. As always, I welcome honest, constructive feedback.

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©Jan Marler Morrill

 

Because They’re All The Same

“Hate is hate, Lovey, regardless of the how others spin it.”

Jo held Tawny’s hand, the child searching her face.

“But aren’t they all terrorists, Gramaw? That’s what Josh said at recess. He said it’s better they’re killing each other, than killing us.” Her brown eyes filled with tears. “Are those people gonna kill us?”

“Sugar, bad people do bad things, but there are no those people. The people in that market were celebrating a time of peace, just like we want peace.”

She hugged her granddaughter.

“No one is gonna kill you, baby, but narrow minds hurt us all.”

(Word count: 100 exactly)

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GIPYHelp Me Reach My Goals! KAPOW! I’m going big in 2016: I’d like to hit 1,200 Likes!! Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (yes, for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, as soon as they’re published, with no spam.

©2011-2016  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

 

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The Mother of All Heartbreaks

Dear readers, I have been working on a piece for days… but mostly, I’ve been working on a lot of things, and getting no where! However, I got an invite to contribute something to the Today show Parenting Team site (you can too), and the words just flowed. Who knew I could write something in barely 700 words, that isn’t flash fiction? So, I’m giving you the link, and hoping that a few of you will stop over and hit the “Vote up!” link, just under the title. Apparently votes count over there. I’d love to see my work get noticed by “their people,” so that “my people” can negotiate terms for my million dollar contract. Your help is much appreciated!

I remain in a writing slump, with 39 (THIRTY-NINE!!) drafts in a folder, but I’m working my way out. I hope you’ll support this effort and go cast a vote. If you don’t like the piece, hold your vote, until I write something you like. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Here’s the link to The Mother of All Heartbreak

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GIPYHelp Me Reach My Goals! KAPOW! I’m going big in 2016: I’d like to hit 1,200 Likes!! Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (yes, for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, as soon as they’re published, with no spam.

©2011-2016  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

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Malia Obama Is Taking a Gap Year, What About Your Child?

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Middle Man, at his high school graduation

Warning: This post is about one of my children. Admittedly, I am not entirely objective when it comes to my kids; who is? Beware, there may be random acts of bragging, but this kid is pretty awesome, and I could not be prouder of what he’s been doing with his life. There, you were warned.

When our youngest son told us that he wasn’t interested in college tours, and needed a break from school, I wasn’t really surprised. He had been miserable in school for most of his four years of high school, and the idea of going straight to college was something he did not want to do. “I’d like to take a Gap year,” he told us, the summer before his senior year. In typical type-A personality mode, his father and I began researching Gap year programs that would allow him to have an adventure and do something that would look good on college applications. It never occurred to us that he really meant: I want to take a break, and not go to school for a while… And if it did occur to us, we were sure we could steer him in the “right direction.”

We were wrong, and letting our son figure some things out on his own, was exactly what he needed. It was also exactly what we needed.

My youngest child has always been on a different path than his siblings, both of whom were driven in school and were researching colleges long before senior year. They both researched details in Princeton Review, College Board, and other similar sights. They knew which schools were party schools, what the teacher to student ratios were, what academic and social life was like, at the various colleges and universities. They read lists of qualifications that had them both making their own lists: of schools to visit; which schools were a reach; which were “safe,” and a host of other details that eventually led to tours, and getting ready to leave for college. Their “baby brother” had not lists; he did not want any of that.

“A” struggled with ADHD throughout his grade school years. He was well liked by teachers and peers, for his sense of humor and sweet nature, but he definitely marched to his own beat. While teachers knew he was bright– it was not uncommon to have a teacher tell us: “he could teach this class as well as I can,” his issues with focus and test taking did not reflect those skills. He struggled to get assignments in; his grades were low at best, and he couldn’t seem to find a groove that allowed him feel successful and confident. He was the youngest in his graduation class, and often fell behind in social changes, that his peers were charging forward with. He had a small, but close group of friends, who had his back, but aside from his friends and long-distance running, school was tedious at best, and often a soul-sucking experience for him.

As parents, we felt constantly thwarted in our efforts to get our son what he needed, to be successful in school. 

While testing showed that he had significant challenges with his ADHD, but he was “too smart” to qualify for help in reaching academic goals. All of this lead to a boy who was unhappy with in the school environment, and anxious to get out of it. Still, when he first showed no interest in doing college tours, during junior year, we assumed he’d come around later. However, after plenty of conflict and debate, I reached a place where I was able to set aside my own expectations for him, and listen to what he was saying. I could see that he was burned out, and that his self-esteem was low. This transition was a lot harder for my husband. We both went straight from high school to college, and then on to grad school– no breaks, or short cuts. My husband is driven and successful, and it was hard for him to accept our son’s insistence that he wasn’t ready for college. He worried that “A” would fall off track and not go back.

In the end, whether it was my prompting or my son’s, my husband and I were both able to support “A’s” decision to do what he wanted; we “let go.” We stepped back from asking him if he was getting assignments done; we stopped searching for programs that would be “right” for him; we let him lead the way, with less attachment to the outcome. It was a huge challenge at times, but exactly what our youngest needed.

As soon as we stepped back, he stepped up.

Just after high school graduation, the one Gap program he had applied to (despite our urging that he pursue several) fell through, and our son was faced with the disappointment and the consequences of those actions. Suddenly he had nothing else lined up, and all of his friends were leaving for school at the end of the summer. There were a rough few weeks, as reality set in and “A” realized that he had nothing planned, but he rose to the challenge. He got a job at the local grocery store, and surprised us all by enrolling in a class that interested him, at our local community college. A week later, he came home and told us that he’d picked up a couple more classes.

We were gobsmacked. The last thing we expected was to see him enroll in any class, let alone several– including two that would be “requirements for eventually transferring.” The more we stepped back, the more our son took on bigger challenges. By the time summer ended, he had signed up for a full course load, and was working 30 hours a week. He was hardly recognizable from the kid who only wanted to play video games and hated school, for the past few years. The management where he worked, really liked his upbeat personality, and appreciated his hard work, intelligence, and commitment. He came home from work feeling good about himself, and was putting away money. By the time school started in September, we were living with an entirely different child; he was motivated and invested in both work and school! He began expressing interest in seeing colleges, and by January was actively talking about a transfer. Still a procrastinator, he didn’t do as much about that as we thought he should, but we remained determined to maintain some distance and let him continue on a trajectory that was showing positive results. The more success he experienced during this unusual “Gap year,” the more invested our son became in his own future, and it was clearer and clearer that part of that, involved us staying in the background.

As his confidence grew, his interest in moving forward increased.

In summer 2015 I flew to New York to accept an award from BlogHer, as Voices of the Year, and then was flying on to Israel for the birth of my first grandchild, our eldest daughter’s first baby; I was going to be gone for five weeks. Because he hadn’t really invested in filling out transfer applications, I was anticipating that “A” would be attending the community college for another few months (at least), and would be might consider a transfer in the spring; anything sooner was entirely off my radar. I figured I’d have one of my chicks left in the nest for another year, along with two nephews who had moved in in the spring. “A” is easy to live with, and that was fine with me. He was doing very well in his freshman year of college, and living at home; all of this felt just fine. When he sent me an essay to edit (ironically, I have tutored high school seniors in college essay writing, for the past 9 years, but he had refused to let me read anything!), I agreed– assuming it was for spring.

The week before my grandson was born, my youngest child informed me that he’d been accepted to three colleges, and he would be starting his sophomore year of at the University of Denver, at the end of August. You could have blown me over with a straw! I knew he’d visited the school during a ski trip with his dad, but he’s seemed most interested in other schools. I knew nothing about University of Denver, and now my son was telling me that he would be living there, starting two weeks after I would return home!

Our son’s Gap year was not the Gap year that most people envision: he didn’t travel abroad, do a “mission” trip, or even leave his own backyard, but it was his Gap year, and he got exactly what he needed from it. He figured out his path; he did the research; filled out applications, had transcripts sent; set his own course, and followed through. He grew up a lot, and we learned to trust that he could do those things, without our “management skills.” Nearly nine months later, he is about to finish an incredibly successful year at an academically challenging university. His grades have been excellent; he has participated on University of Denver’s mock U.N. (and was even asked to mentor high school mock UN participants for three states); he’s gone to concerts and skiing with friends, without asking for money; he’s figured out his banking, personal care, and managed to keep all the balls in the air, while mom and dad watch and learn.

We have learned that one size does not fit all.

Each of our children had different needs, and different paths. What was best for us, or what was expected for us (back in the 80s!) is not what necessarily works today. We learned to let go and let our son experience his own success and failure. We will always provide a safety net; we love our kids and are here for them, but we had to learn these things through our son’s guidance. In the end, his Gap year did as much for us, as it did for him. As he prepares to return home for the summer, and then spend a semester abroad, we are confident that he can manage his own life. Our son took a Gap year, and we all grew and changed; that’s an investment worth making!

Has your child done a Gap Year? Are you/they thinking about it? Share your thoughts in the comment section; I’m listening!

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GIPYHelp Me Reach My Goals! KAPOW! I’m going big in 2016: I’d like to hit 1,200 Likes!! Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (yes, for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, as soon as they’re published, with no spam.

©2011-2016  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

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Friday Fictioneers: Rainy Day Thoughts

If you are inspired by this photo, or would like to read more stories in the collection, check out Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog Addicted To Purple. Rochelle organizes this weekly challenge, that keeps me hooked. She also provided this week’s photo prompt.

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© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

Rainy Day Thoughts

 

Wave upon wave, rolling forward, ebbing back; the clock ticks.

I look at these photos and count the times I’ve remembered a moment, long gone: you a babe, suckling from my breast, safe in my arms; you on the arm of your father, given away–– the years marked in precious moments. So many photos, so many memories, of babes, of children, of young adults all grown now, and a life that has been full.

Wave upon wave of sorrow, of joy, of contentment, and angst, of moments come and gone, washed up on my shore.

(word count: 95)

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GIPYHelp Me Reach My Goals! KAPOW! I’m going big in 2016: I’d like to hit 1,200 Likes!! Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (yes, for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email,  no spam.

©2011-2016  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

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