Nominations Needed for Great Non-Profit Organizations!

 

Nominations needed

Know of a Non-Profit organization that you think everyone needs to know on a first-name basis? Do you volunteer for an organization that’s doing good and deserves to be in the spotlight? When you hear the phrase “making a difference” does a special group instantly come to mind?

Then nominate them for a spot in my Non-Profits to Love: 2018 Edition. (You can read about last year’s featured non-profits here.)

I’m looking for Baltimore and Maryland non-profit organizations of all types, focuses, and missions to showcase in February’s special feature. It’s an annual post that gives locals a different way to show love in the season of hearts and cupids. The only qualifications for nominations are as follows:

  • MUST be a Not-for-Profit Organization
  • Be Baltimore or Maryland based

To nominate your non-profit simply answer the following questions:

  1. What is the name of the awesome non-profit you think should be featured?
  2. What do they do that makes them so special?

You can answer in the comments below or or email me at justbmore@gmail.com. Who knows? Maybe they’ll get a little extra love this season!

What could just ‘B’ more thoughtful?

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Fun Things in Mighty Packages: An Interview with ‘mightyPigeon’

Mighty Pigeon - Trio of Monsters

PC: mightyPigeon

As the holiday season nears and the year comes to an end, there is no one I would rather feature than the mighty imaginative Danamarie Hosler of mightyPigeon. I mean it — spending time with her will inspire you and make you smile! With creative monsters, an open minded way at looking at unfamiliar creatures and an uplifting spirit, Danamarie’s energy and animals will get you in gear to take on anything 2018 throws at you!

Mighty Pigeon - Girl and Pigeon

PC: mightyPigeon

Just B More: So how did you get started in the making of monsters, Under Appreciated Animals cards and other imaginative finds? Have you always been making fantasy products or did you have another artistic outlet before this?

Danamarie Hosler: Professionally, I started out as a Children’s Book Illustrator & Muralist, but I actually started making my dolls back when I was a sophomore in college. I went to MICA and was fascinated by this girl in my Art History class who used to knit socks during the lectures. I’m from Miami, so the whole concept of wool socks was new to me in general, but also that she could come to class with a ball of yarn and leave each day with an entire sock was just… whoa.

So I taught myself to knit and it turned out that socks were kinda boring for me, but I had these silly little paintings I was doing of happy big-nosed creatures with little horns and cats with one big eye and teeny little feet, and one day I just decided I needed to know what one of them would feel like to hug, so I set to work knitting it. I called them Knitimals and the rest is kinda history. I don’t really knit the dolls anymore, but I’ve since expanded my line to include a number of new “species” of creature (all of them have the same sort of design style, which originates from the way I drew faces when I was little) and that keeps me on my toes.

In general, my work is about making childhoods happier, brighter, smarter, more imaginative & more representative. I want kids to look at my stuff and feel inspired by it, excited by it, to see themselves in my characters and see faces that look like theirs. And I want all those same feelings to reach grown-ups too, and tap into their inner child and feel connected to that part of themselves again. So, having all these different outlets and imprints/collections helps me do that.

 

Mighty Pigeon Underappreciated Animals

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JBM: I adore your Under Appreciated Animals line! Where in the world did you come up with that line of merchandise?

DH: The Under Appreciated Animals project actually started as something I was just going to make for my son. When he was two, his favorite animals at the zoo were the Okapi and the Dik-dik and he asked me one day, while going through one of his many ABC books, how come they weren’t in any of them.

I was just going to draw them and stick them over the O & D pages, but then realized that EVERY kid should know what those animals are and there’s no reason to keep giving kids the same animals over and over again. As an educator and with my Children’s Book background, it was something I knew I could (and should!) pursue. Once the cards came out, the rest of the merchandise grew out of customer response and request, believe it or not.

JBM: How long have you been in business?

DH: I officially launched my business in 2000 when I graduated, and used to balance other full-time/part-time work alongside it… and that got old fast. I wasn’t able to fully commit to my work and myself and eventually had to make the choice to just strike out on my own and see what I could do. I’ve been happily working for myself full-time since 2006.

JBM: Why the name mightyPigeon? (It’s adorable!)

DH: I LOVE PIGEONS.

My business is actually twofold; the plush side is called *might and the Illustration side is mightyPigeon. *might is a play on the double meaning of the word — possibility and strength, which is what I think of when I think of my younger audience. Little kids have so much amazing potential and possibility, and I think if we give them the right tools, they can be fortified and grow up strong & resilient and ready to take on the world!

mightyPigeon is who I am… the grown up version of the *might kid. I’ve still got the possibility in me, but I’ve already been fortified and I AM taking on the world! I relate very strongly to pigeons. They’re actually incredibly smart and skillful birds with rich histories & cultural importance all over the world… but they’re deeply misunderstood and taken at just face value, you assume you know everything you need to know about them (and a lot of it is actually false). People tend to see pigeons as a cluster, as opposed to each individual bird as unique and special. I want to change that! I want my art to make people pause and reflect. And for people to see their own value & strength — the mighty pigeons they are.

Mighty Pigeon - Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse

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JBM: Your creatures are so whimsical and unique. Where do you get the inspiration for your pieces? 

DH: I’m inspired by a lot of things. Color is a big one for me; color is so emotive and sometimes I’ll just lay a bunch of fabric out on the desk and see what combinations occur naturally and pull my eye to them, or I’ll just let myself paint and move colors around the paper until something starts to look like something. I love patterns and repetitive shapes and designs. I’m inspired by my kids and the things that get their attentions or seem to be interesting them. I love seeing the world through their eyes — the perfect way they draw, without rules and restriction, the connections they make, the words they use to tell stories.

I’m inspired by current events too — though, most of the time these days, what I’m trying to do is make work that can brighten a dark day, give voice to the voiceless, draw attention to an issue that needs addressing, or simply say, “I see you. I hear you. I value you.” Its hard to stay positive all the time, but if I can find one thing to make me smile each day, that helps and sometimes I need to be the one to make that thing exist for myself.

JBM: So I have to know, do you have a favorite collection? 

DH: A favorite?!?!?! DONT MAKE ME CHOOSE!! I don’t think I can pick favorites. I love them all for different reasons. There, that’s my “mom” answer for you.

Mighty Pigeon - Megacon 2017

PC: mightyPigeon

JBM: Do you have any fun stories from the business?

DH: My work has traveled far more than I have. In fact, I have sent work to every continent on Earth, which is a pretty fun claim to fame.

I did MegaCon, a convention in Orlando, FL last year though and it was SUPER fun. I’d never done a con before so I was anxious and had no idea what to expect, and then the doors opened and whoaaaaa! It was SO crowded, SO fast. And EVERYONE was so incredibly kind and patient and passionate, it touched my heart every day since.

I LOVED seeing all the cosplay and how people would stop and pose for pictures with strangers of all ages — and the cosplay was so detailed and intense; people clearly put so much pride into their work and then would stop by the table and buy something from me and tell me that they wished they had my talent. Meanwhile my jaw is in my lap because I’m gawking at this larger-than-life, fully functioning, robo-exoskeleton something-or-other that they’re wearing like it’s nothing. I don’t know… I just loved that experience so much. I love geekery. I love seeing the things people are REALLY into… because, like, I get really into stuff and geek out about it and have to collect the heck out of whatever it is and can talk to people about whatever it is for hours on end, so to have an entire convention center full of people with all these various but often overlapping fandoms, and to see them all connecting over it, it was kinda beautiful.

It was clearly an environment without judgment and there were people of all ages mixing and mingling. It was all a really nice reminder of how lovely the world can actually be.

Mighty Pigeon - Monster

PC: mightyPigeon

JBM: You’re such a joyous person and you seem to absolutely love what you do! What do you love most about mightyPigeon? Is this your forever job?

DH: This is absolutely my forever job. I will probably continue to ebb and flow, add products, do less sewing and more drawing and then come up with some great new idea for a new doll design and go back to doing more making than painting, but I will be an artist and will run my own business forever and ever and ever and ever.

I love the freedom it affords me, both in terms of actual physical freedom (hello working in my pajamas!) and mental freedom (I just don’t feel like doing anything today… so I won’t). I love that I can homeschool my kids and still work — that I can prioritize without having either side of my life suffer. I love that if and when I have some nagging idea that has to be acted on, I can just go and do it and I don’t have to wait until I finally get that vacation time I’ve been accruing, like when I was managing another full-time job.

But mostly, I love that I am doing exactly what I have always wanted to do, ever since I was little. And its not easy… at all. And money is very often tight. And I am very much at the mercy of other people’s tastes and budgets and gift-giving lists (all of which I completely understand). BUT I am also very lucky to have found and cultivated a wonderful following of supportive art lovers, who appreciate what I do and have made room for it in their lives. And I love that about my job too. I’ve met incredible people and knowing that other people are out there loving my work as much as I do is just the coolest thing.

JBM: I’m thinking that people should all own at least one of your creatures to give them some of your positive spirit. It’s hard not to smile when you look at them. How can people get in touch?

DH: Follow me on Instagram for (nearly) daily posts — sneak peeks at works in progress, studio scenes, inspiration and more — @mightypigeon_art.

Shop online at SHOPdanamariehosler.tictail.com and email me knitimal@gmail.com for commissions or custom work, or to be added to my mailing list for coupons and announcements.

JBM: Thank you so much for your time. This was a delight!

DH: THANK YOU!!

Mighty Pigeon -Pigeons

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I’ll Be Row-Home for Christmas: An Interview with ‘Row House 14’

Holiday Cards Row House 14

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There’s no place like home for the holidays, and there’s no better way to say it than with a greeting card from Row House 14. Seriously, if you want your gifting to stand out this season, then you need Heidi Shenk’s funny-’cause-they’re-true cards and adorable wrapping paper.

I chatted with Heidi about how it all started, a cute orange cat, and my love of her wrapping paper.

Pencils Row House 14

PC: Row House 14

Just B More: First things first, where does the name Row House 14 come from and how long have you been in the business of making fun paper products?

Heidi Shenk: Just until recently, my studio was in our [husband’s and my] tiny guest bedroom in our Baltimore row house. Fourteen was the address number of our home and my studio, hence the name Row House 14.

Row House 14 turns seven at the end of November. I can’t quite believe that myself, but time certainly flies when you’re having fun!

JBM: What made you think, “I’m going to make stationery and awesome pencils?”  Did you make other items before Row House 14?

HS: This is my first official small business endeavor, but I’ve always made things to sell, even as a small child. I come from a family of makers, so it always seemed natural. Illustration has probably been my favorite form of art. My parents are both self-employed makers, so doing something of the same always felt more normal to me than more traditional occupations.

I also love humor and writing and so I think it came naturally that I could do all of those things with greeting cards. I used to teach in Baltimore City and I needed a creative outlet for the days that burned me out. Illustrating and writing were those outlets and that’s essentially how Row House 14 came about.

Wrapping Paper Row House 14

PC: Row House 14

 JBM: So about that humor.  Where do you get the inspiration for your hilarious pieces?

HS: If you find yourself chuckling about one of my cards, mostly likely there is a personal story behind it that you can relate to. I draw from my own personal experiences, jokes amongst friends, or other daily life realities. I believe laughter in life is essential. If you can’t laugh about your own downfalls or mistakes, then it’s harder to get through life.

My husband and I also have a very twisted sense of humor, so some of my best selling cards have come from jokes made while sitting at the table eating dinner. Some of my favorite cards are those starring my orange tabby, Finn. He’s the epitome of the phrase curiosity killed the cat. The cards that he stars in are representations of true stories about him, and they also happen to be things that many other people can relate to.

JBM: I’m very partial to the ‘Holy Shit Balls’ wrapping paper. I remember I HAD to have it and I get so many compliments on it. Everyone loves to get a gift wrapped in it!)

HS: I’m glad people love the gift wrap! It’s one of my faves!

Happy Ho Days Row House 14

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JBM: I know that in the world of small business, shows and events are a common part of life. Do you travel far and often with your work?

HSI don’t travel much specifically for work, though I do sometimes vend at art markets in Philadelphia and Richmond, Virginia. However, when I do travel for fun, which is fairly often, I’m always on the lookout for new card shops and interesting paper goods. I love finding inspiration in these kinds of places while I’m taking time off from my own work.

While I don’t travel very far, my cards do! My cards can be found in many retail stores across the country, and one of the most rewarding feelings is getting a text message from a friend who happened upon one of my cards while they were traveling or shopping at a local store.

Row House 14 Greeting Cards

PC: Row House 14

JBM: I always ask this question: What do you love most about what you do? 

HS: I love hearing different stories from my customers about why they buy my cards or the significance behind a card they are giving to someone. When I sell my cards at art markets, it’s so much fun watching people reading my cards, laughing, and listening to their reactions. Often, people will open up to me about something that they were able to relate to through my work, and hearing those stories is why I do what I do.

JBM: Your cards are so great, I could see them in the big box stores. Are you hoping to “get noticed” and become a staple at one of the large corporate retailers?

HS: While it would be fun to find my cards in larger stores, it’s not a priority for me. Enjoying what I do and sharing that with other people is a bigger driving force for me. I prefer being a part of locally owned shops that I can build personal relationships with rather than larger chain stores, because I think it’s important to support that community wherever you live.

JBM: So when someone wants one (or ten!) of your awesome cards, what are the best ways to get in touch with you ?

HS: People can find me via my website or Etsy shop. I’m also a huge fan of Instagram and love connecting with people there @rowhouse14. During the holidays, you can find me at all sorts of local markets. And I’ll be at the Last Stop Hops and Shop event at Peabody Brewing on the 21st of December.

JBM: So fun talking with you. Have a great holiday!

HS: Thanks!

Row House 14 Cards

PC: Row House 14

Breaking Dishes this Holiday: An Interview with ‘The Broken Plate’

Matyland

Photo credit: Juliet Ames

Many people have the urge to break things from time to time, maybe even more so during the holiday season. But did you ever think of making a living by breaking dishes?

The unbelievably creative Juliet Ames of The Broken Plate did and she’s been breaking plates since 2006. That’s quite the run for a job that doubles as fun stress relief. Here we discussed with Julia how breaking a plate to make a mosaic turned into a creative small jewelry business.

Teacups  Jewelry

Photo credit Juliet Ames

Just B More: So how in the world did you get the fantastic idea to break plates for a living and then turn it into jewelry? Did you make other jewelry before or was this your first go?

Juliet Ames: I started as a photography major in community college but when my credits didn’t transfer (because of the death of the darkroom) I realized that my quickest path to graduation was by getting an Interdisciplinary Craft Degree from Towson University. I took an odd mix of classes to learn all sorts of different materials such as glass, paper, ceramics and metals. I spent most of my time in the metals studio. Upon graduation, I didn’t make anything for about six months when the creative bug struck and I spent a weekend in the basement, manically making myself a mosaic mailbox out of an old plate that I bought at Goodwill. When the project was complete, I still had so many pretty shards leftover that I decided to make them necklaces. The rest, they say, is history. 

JBM: So how long has this been your small business? Have you always been a small business owner?

JA: This company began in 2006, but I have been making and selling my own jewelry and photography since high school. I even managed to earn the “Most Likely to be a Millionaire” superlative in high school, but unfortunately I don’t think selling jewelry is the path to that. Maybe my next business. 

Before and after The Broken Plate

Photo credit: Juliet Ames

JBM: Where do you get the inspiration for your pieces? Do you have a favorite collection? (Mine is of course the Pyrex!)

JA: I’m usually inspired by the pattern of the plate, but lately I have been really enjoying just using simple stained glass. Since I make so much jewelry, I am finding most pleasure in making some self-indulgent art with my shards, like the map of the US or animal shapes. 

JBM: Do you have any fun stories from the business?

JA: I was honored to be invited to have a solo show in Hong Kong last year. I initially thought the invite had to be a prank, but I took a chance and traveled across the world to show my work. It was an incredible experience to be treated like a pop star for a few days. They even built me a plate breaking stage and massive broken teacup for photo ops. 

JBM: What do you love most about what you do?

JA: I love the creative process and assembling all of my pieces.

The Broken Plate Jewelry

Photo credit: Juliet Ames

JBM: Do you think this will be your “forever job” or do you see something else on the horizon?

JA: This is my forever job for now. I will never get rich doing this, but I can work in my pajamas and be there for my boy after school. They only other thing I am half qualified for is maybe being a line cook, but even that would probably kick my ass. 

JBM: Now that you mention it, don’t you have a cookbook?

JA: Yes, I made a cookbook last year.  Will have some at Holiday Heap and in my Etsy shop.

JBM: It’s the holiday season, how can people get their hands on some plate jewelry for gifts (or to treat themselves)?

JA: Email is best for me.juliet@ibreakplates.com 

My Etsy shop is www.thebrokenplate.etsy.com

My only holiday show is Holiday Heap with the Charm City Craft Mafia on December 16th at 2640 St Paul Street. 

Art on display at Silver Queen Cafe until January.

Studio visits by appointment.

JBM: Thanks so much for speaking with us!
JA: Thanks for the opportunity!

cookbook

Photo credit: Juliet Ames

Giving Thanks to Mongolia

 

 

Flaming Cliffs

Flaming Cliffs and I

In this time of giving thanks for all that we have, I can’t help but focus on the incredible trip I took this past summer to the planetary middle of nowhere. It was one of those trips that hits everything on a traveler’s to do list and then some. And while I call Baltimore home, this begins the season of home being where you heart is, and my heart is now scattered all over the world thanks to this land called Mongolia.

 

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I say that my heart is scattered and not left in Mongolia because this trip opened more of the world up to me than my previous travels, and I have traveled a LOT. I’ve hosteled my way through Europe, snorkeled reefs at home and abroad, and spent more hours of my life than I care to count in airports. But this trip was different than the rest. Sure, I saw the incredible landscapes of the steppes, drank hot milk tea and marveled at the music of throat singers—and I do not want to belittle those experiences. Trust me, never say “No” to the chance to visit the land of the blue sky. But for me, the thing that made all the difference was the people I met and lived with along the way.

Travel means meeting new people and seeing new ways of life, but honestly how often does it mean new friends? With all the travel that I have done I can’t honestly say that I’ve collected a ton of friends along the way. Yes, I’ve broken bread or swapped a social media handle, but rarely have I made a connection with anyone that turned into true friendship. That changed in Mongolia, where making friends seems to be the unofficial national sport.

Mongolia Crew

#mongoliasquad

In a land where you can literally drive up to anyone’s ger, knock on the door and be treated like family, making friends was the norm. By the end of my two weeks, I realized that the people I spent this time with squashed in Soviet vans, waiting out dust storms and counting lichen on rocks, had become my international family. These were the people I never thought I needed to know but now couldn’t fathom my life without. When we went our separate ways to our true homes in different parts of the world, my heart went with each of them and I knew it would stay that way.

I’m so thankful for that trip because it gave me more to be thankful for than food, electricity and travel. It gave me an international family to follow and love and proof that no matter where you go you will never truly be alone—there will always be an open door.

What could just ‘B’ more great?

Cat Squad

Gotta Rep the Cat Ears

It’s Halloween – Here’s the Party!

Halloween decore

Getting my decore on at Paper Source in Pikesville!

As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to enjoy Halloween more and more. Not that I ever had a problem with the idea of getting candy for dressing up, but when going door to door was no longer an option I was less into the festivities. Luckily, that was a short-lived phase and now I look forward to what the season of spooks and scaries brings.

Being in Baltimore, there’s a lot of fun things to do on Halloween night. Who doesn’t enjoy a good walk around Fells or Canton to see the creativity that is the local Halloween scene?

However, I’m challenging you to think about the days before the big night and get into the thrills and chills a little earlier. Here are some things to help you get the most out of the season of Halloween!

Time Warp with Creative Alliance

Rocky Horro Picture Show

If you’ve seen Rocky Horror Picture Show you know it is a timeless cult classic that is best seen with a few dozen or more strangers. If you haven’t seen Rocky Horror Picture Show there is nothing better than seeing it for the first time with those previously mentioned strangers. Honestly, search RHPS costumes or put on your PJs and head to The Creative Alliance for showings, complete with dancing and sing-a-longs. What makes this even better is that there are showings Thursday, Friday AND Saturday night so once you realize you have to see it again – with friends – you can easily do so. Or do back-to-back showings on Saturday, October 21. Or go to them all, I won’t judge. (But I will see you there.)

*Rocky Horror picture show, October 19-21, 2017. Admission $15, see link above for times.

Go Brunching with your Witches

Halloween Brunch

I know that dressing up is thought of as more of a nighttime activity, but I challenge you to think outside the box. With Halloween on a Tuesday this year, the weekend before is the unofficial-official party scene. So go out to brunch on October 29 with a bunch of your best witches in full-on costume glory. Plus, if you hit parties the night before you’re already dressed and ready for some hair of the dog.

OR you can switch up your invitation-only Halloween Party in the evening for a Costume Brunch at your own haunted house. And there’s plenty of time to plan this out: just send the invites, make some themed food and don’t forget the Bloody Marys.

Do the Monster Mash with WTMD

Shake your bones on October 26 at the first ever Spooktacular hosted by WTMD. Local Baltimore musicians will be covering Halloween songs sure to make you howl with delight. With tickets starting at $15, you get great music, a little spooky poetry, scary stories and maybe even a ghost or two. Costumes are encouraged – don’t be a scaredy cat!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get some treats!

What could just ‘B’ more spooky?

 

 

Hey Baltimore, what ever happened to those New Year’s Resolutions?

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Recently I was home, frustrated that I wasn’t able to complete the goals I wanted to accomplish for this blog over the summer. This was because of unforeseen surgery complications and major life events that were beyond my control. The fact that these hurdles popped up and were indeed more important than my self-imposed deadlines was something I recognized, but it still hurt that my plans had been derailed yet again.

Dealing with an injury that won’t go away has been a real challenge for me the past two years and I was feeling like I had achieved nothing, both professionally and personally. After all, how do you write a blog about the goings-on in your hometown when you often can’t participate in the goings-on?

So I got to thinking about my January post on goals for the new year and whether I had actually accomplished anything.

Imagine my surprise when I found that I had! Since 2017 is now over half-way through, I thought I’d share my progress. Plus, the  new school year is (unfortunately) upon us and is a perfect time to remember and restart those goals you made at the beginning of the year that may need a little push to the finish.

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Travel (around town) and Support Local Businesses

Being unable to get to places has been a struggle for me. I had plans to have some fun day trips and extended weekends – I’m looking at you Ocean City. Clearly, that didn’t happen, and sadly, my Thrashers fries appear to be more of a 2018 goal at this point. (Funniest part? I was able to get to Mongolia. Life just makes no sense sometimes.)

BUT I was able to check out local businesses and organizations, which happened to take me all over Baltimore and parts of Maryland. So far I have racked up: visiting the awesomeness that is The Foundery, seeing art among flowers at the Rawlings Conservatory, treating myself to local art at Charm City Craft Mafia events, getting my science on at Baltimore Underground Science Space (BUGSS), attending the opening of Hysteria Brewing Co, and chilling with Baltimore’s newest Zine Queens over at Nasty Press. And that’s not including the local restaurants and beers I purchased. I feel that’s a respectable showing from January to August.

art

Add a Skill

When my best friend suggested I get my Katniss on with her and take an archery class, I had only one answer, “Hell yeah!” And so, with mandatory braid in place, I went with her to *forgotten the name so must look up and tried to find my inner tribute. I was not a natural, but by the end of the lesson I could hit the target 9 times out of 10. Not bad for one hour’s worth of work. Since that March outing I’ve been back and intend to continue – I have a bullseye that needs to be hit.

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Hit the Books

Last year I read a total of 2 books. It hurts just to type that. So my final 2017 goal suggestion was to try to up my book reading this year to one book a month for a grand total of 12 entire books. In the end I just made it a point to make time to read (sorry Netflix binge weekends!) and didn’t count the books as I went. I did keep a list though, and when I went back to count I found I’ve already read 14 books! I smashed my goal and there’s plenty of time to add more.

All in all, I’d say it’s not too bad of a goal run for a person who had stretches of time where she couldn’t leave the house or drive. How did you do on your goals? Did you reach any? Have a way to go still? Like I said, it’s not too late to pick them up again or even make new ones. You just have to try.

What could just ‘B’ more encouraging?

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I also made it to Light City.