non fiction

Book Review: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

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Given the popularity of Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, I’m surprised I only just read it this week. It’s been in my queue for years, but I never had a copy and for some reason, I just didn’t buy it. Earlier this year, I found a copy on my apartment building’s bookshelf, so I snatched it up and included it in my September TBR list. I enjoyed it a lot, but it wasn’t as good as I expected it to be. Knowing how much you can take away from the messages, I ended up with 4.5 stars even though part of me thought it could have pushed the envelope a bit more. Then again, it is almost 15 years old and this type of literature has only become popular in recent years. For its time (minimal social media or digital blogs!), it was definitely motivating.

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Rather than critique the book, I’ve decided to focus more on the messages within it. Life is short. You should remember the valuable things when you’re in the latter stages approaching death. Perhaps if you develop a terminal illness, you’ve been given an opportunity to squeeze in as much as possible before you do actually pass on. It seems odd to phrase it in such a manner, but rather than just die unexpectedly, you have a rough time period in your head… you can try to achieve a few goals and make whatever changes you can before it’s too late. Of course, a terminal illness comes with extraordinarily negative impacts, but I’d prefer to focus on the benefits you can reap from the messages in such a book.

It’s not important how clean your house is, tho I often obsess over it. It doesn’t matter if you traveled the world and saw amazing things when you don’t have anyone you love by your side. And you’re not gonna focus on the little things in those last few moments. So make the most of it… find people you care for and share your feelings. That’s basically the gist of the autobiographical work on a very cursory level. Albom goes back and forth between his younger days with Morrie and his older days with Morrie, and as readers, we see the change in him across time.

I kinda feel like this was one big way to accomplish a goal, but we can also implement his ideas in smaller form across each day. That’s where I found the greatest lessons in his words. I’m on a kick to read a few more of his books this fall, too.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: Watching the Daisies by Brigid P. Gallagher

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I began following a blog entitled Watching the Daisies earlier this year shared by Brigid P. Gallagher and discovered she’d also written a book, Watching the Daisies: Life Lessons on the Importance of Slow, a few years ago. I purchased Ms. Gallagher’s holistic memoir last month and dropped it into my reading queue this week. It came at a great time and helped provide a few clear reminders we should all remember when things get too complex or tough.

Life can be difficult, especially when we encounter illness, pain, and death. It can also be wonderful when we meet new friends, fall in love, or share our days with family. Ms. Gallagher covers it all in this ~50 year memoir of many key events that occurred in her life. One of the biggest impacts I felt from reading her personal insights and history is an acute awareness of how lucky many of us are to have little to no physical pain or be raised by two loving parents who hadn’t died young. The author spent lots of time in hospitals, surgeries and doctors trying to diagnose symptoms that ultimately took a rather long time to discover. Along the path, Gallagher shares her home remedies for dealing with the pain, both mental and physical, as her career develops and she travels throughout the world studying and learning about different medicines, approaches and healing powers. I enjoyed reading about the path she took and felt sadness and happiness with each of her own ups and downs.

From losing family members she loved, to moving back and forth from Ireland and Scotland, to adopting and saying goodbye to many pets, Gallagher shares all the occasions in life that help craft who we are as people. We can face our obstacles with our head held high or sneak away letting no one help us. Gallagher teaches us about medicinal, herbal and other holistic healing options, teases us with trips we want to take in the future, and offers ideas to explore in our own lives on how to be happier and healthier. I next saw the bravery in this woman for not only living through many of the ordeals she’s experienced but in sharing them with readers like me who may have little or no knowledge about the difficulties of a disease or the unknown forces impacting our bodies.

The book is an easy-read with memoir moments, teaching opportunities, and whimsical thoughts. Some hit home for me, others were just a laugh or a nod of my head in acknowledgement of what the author’s been through. In the end, it’s the kind of book where you have a few hours to breathe the same air as someone else, learning how she would deal with all the curves and fun being thrown at her. Stepping out of my own shoes is always a good thing as it helps provide perspective and alternative opinions and ideas. Kudos to Gallagher for sharing such a wonderful life journey with us… I can only hope she’ll share the second half of her life sometime in the future as it sounds like she’s got a lot more planned as accomplishments.
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If you enjoyed this review and think the author and/or book are for you, definitely check our Brigid’s blog as her insight and voice are a wonderful addition each week. You can find life lessons on the importance of slow and a whole lot more @ Watching the Daisies.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Simple Observations by Patrick Dykie

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A few weeks ago, I saw a post that a blogger I follow, Patrick Dykie, had published a book called Simple Observations: A Humorous Look at the Absurdity of the World Around Us. He’d offered the book via BookGrabbr, a fun new site I am also now following. In his debut, Dykie offers an alphabetical collection of ~25 essays (fun discussions?) basically having a conversation with his readers about various thoughts gallivanting through his head. I thought I’d read a few each night before bed while I was also reading a mystery novel, but after the first few, I found myself unable to put down his book.
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At many points, I had to because my stomach hurt from laughing. At others, I had to so I could contemplate what he’d just told us… on many levels, his observations were completely accurate and eye-opening. On a few others, it was purely just a good laugh. All in all, it’s a fantastic read that will give you a bit of sarcasm, sass, humor, comedy, and eye rolls… we all know people like the one’s he’s described. We’ve all said the same things (a mumble under our breath) when it happens… and on some occasions, he’s probably even talking about something we’ve done ourselves.

Kudos to him for taking his blog writing to another level and sharing a wonderful treasure with us readers! See his blog here.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Losing a Pet by Gary Kowalski

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Last week, my ten-year-old shiba inu dog, Ryder, unexpectedly passed away. My grief was raw and unmanageable, as this amazing creature stood by my side, offering unconditional love and support 24/7. My other half, equally as impacted, purchased a few books to try to help us understand how to find any solace or ability to move forward, as Ryder was part of every moment of our day. I picked up a paperback copy of Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet by Gary Kowalski as the first one to read this week.

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The author is a minister who approaches the loss of a pet from a spiritual perspective, but the book is carefully balanced to not be excessively religious. I bring this up, not in a good/bad way, only to point out that if you are a religious person, you’ll find helpful content, but if you’re not a religious person, you will also find many chapters focused on the emotions of the grieving process. It’s essentially a good read for anyone — without pushing any one belief or philosophy.

The author’s tone is charismatic. He shares personal stories of his own pets, those of friends and others from his congregation. He quotes verses from works of literature and various religious tomes, including outside of Christianity. All-in-all, it provides strong perspective on what’s happening in your mind and in the animal’s mind during the final days of losing your beloved pet. When he spoke of the euthanasia process, or the inexplicable appearance of pets that had previously passed on, you will shed a tear for a minute thinking about your own experiences. In these moments, I connected with the book. In others, where it was more generic, it seemed like things I already knew; then again, the reminders can provide subtle help we’re not even aware of.

It felt like the kind of book not to read all in one sitting, as there are poems and stories you can read separate from the advice and guidance he provides. There are links to other articles or books that could help you. It’s a good, basic approach to beginning to understand your grief and determine how to step forward. If you’re looking for something deeply analytical, thoroughly psychological or lengthy stories about beloved pets, this wouldn’t be the right book to read for that purpose. But I am glad I read it, as it did push me to think differently in a few areas of my mind. I’m grateful for that help.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

365 Challenge: Day 278 – Elucidate (Author Alert: Atwood Cutting)

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Elucidate: (a) to make lucid or clear; throw light upon; explain, or (b) 365 Daily Challenge word for today’s author alert — Atwood Cutting

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If you are new to the ThisIsMyTruthNow blog, the 365 Daily Challenge, or the Author Alert segment, check out the About Site section from the main menu. Below are some key things to know about this author, but at the end of this post, you’ll see the permanent page I’ve added to my blog. You can return to check out more on who she is, what she’s writing and how to buy her future work. 

I am pleased to present the very talented Atwood Cutting, who I met about three months ago through our WordPress blogs. Atwood, or Kate, as she’ll confess to you shortly, is a wonderful woman who I’ve been exchanging emails with every week. She occasionally gives me a ‘difficult’ time about all the *.gifs I use in my posts (and I’ve cut down based on her input), which we joke about all the time. She also comments on all my posts and shares her perspective on life, having lived quite an unusual one compared to most of us. You’ll find out more if you read one of her published books, which I have just completed this week. You can check out my review here.

One of the best things I’ve come to adore about this woman is her voice and tone. She has an earthy, charismatic and brilliant approach to living and building relationships. Whether it’s the words she chooses, the things she doesn’t say, or the love she’s shared with those around her, you’ll find something quite worthy of learning in each experience. It’s rare to find a kind soul who knows how to share her gift with others, but when you do, you cherish it. I’m grateful to have a chance to chat with this lovely woman and I hope you’ll take up more time to do so after reading her post and one of her books. Without further ado, let’s watch her elucidate…

———-

Me thinks ’tis time to expose Atwood Cutting for what she really is: a literary device used by Kate Peters, the much older woman who pioneered during the late 20th century in Alaska and wanted to write about her experiences, but feared possible retaliation for doing so. After thirty years of self-hindering, Kate Peters determined that fictionalizing someone of the next generation could make the perfect teller of a mother’s stories. So, Kate created an “author” daughter—not to be confused with her real daughter who did actually ride home on the back of a snow-machine—to be her personal biographer to write her story. Would such a ploy provide protection from ex-neighbors who might take issue?

Bravely, the stories were penned and the saga was introduced to all readers.

All too soon, a friend, who saw an early copy of the story, commented on the photo of the author at the back of the book. “You don’t look like this,” he challenged.

“I used to look like that. Now, I look like my grandmother,” old Mrs. Peters rued.

It was obvious that the real Kate Peters would not be able to publicly masquerade as a fetching young authoress. Kate would have to become two people: the fictional and shy young author of a nearly-true saga about life and circumstances her parents encountered at the end of their remote Alaskan road; and the older woman, who actually lived the tale, “saw the elephant,” and is still alive to share her stories with interested listeners.  In our modern social media world, projecting such a double-identity has proven to be quite complicated. How can one communicate honestly with people, and not have them realize that she is not the young author, but rather a much older gal who has lived an interesting life, and loves to share stories and simple wisdoms with others?

She can’t.

Through the kindness of James Cudney and his invitation to participate in his Author Alert series, I can now elucidate that I am both the mother and the daughter; the pioneer and the artist; the young dreamer as well as the aging survivor of an actual Last Frontier “elephant” sighting.

By saying this, I am blowing my cover. But hopefully this public interaction with Jay will make things clearer for everyone, myself included. So, here is my true story:

I stood at the threshold of my life adventure back in 1972, when, as college graduates we were being honored at a Phi Beta Kappa dinner. During the event, each graduate was asked what they were going to do next? One stated that he was going to be a doctor. One, a lawyer. One, a professor, etc. When they got to me, I could only say, “I don’t know.”

A year later, disregarding the recently earned degree in Dance, Vocal Music and Theatre, I opted to avoid any fame to be earned playing the lead role in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” and instead took a quick dodge to the left. I ventured north to Alaska, where I met and married a man who harbored a rustic pioneering dream. This jibed with my own Emerson-inspired vision of self-reliance, and I followed his lead. Together we worked on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline construction project and saved up a good nest egg. Then we settled at the end of a remote mountain road near Sleeping Moose, Alaska. That’s where the saga begins.

* * *

As you might imagine, my work history was varied, and I never found a career. Museums, mental health clinics, universities, plant nurseries and elementary schools all called me “an employee,” but no one ever offered me tenure.

When I retired at 62, my sister urged me to write my story of life on the Last Frontier, and the next five years reignited a long-abandoned love for wordsmithing. To date, I have managed to self-publish and indie-publish several versions of my story, as well as a few coffee table photo books. They are all available on Amazon today, but revenues have been slow to come in. That’s okay. I’m content with my children happy, my husband wonderful, and my view spectacular.

* * *

And what of the future? When all three volumes of SLEEPING MOOSE SAGA have been published, and Kate’s story has been told, Atwood Cutting will be free to create her art, and Kate will allow herself to be old.  She intends to continue to use her talents to delight others, by singing, sharing in humor, watching the glory of a setting sun and reflecting on life, as well as her own great fortune. Meanwhile, Atwood plans to be producing books of beautiful photography “until the cows come home.”

So, after following the road “less traveled by” for most of a lifetime, Kate Peters has arrived at a state of contentment. Thanatopsis.

And how have the doctors and lawyers and professors at that long-ago collegiate table fared? Hopefully, just as well.

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A younger Kate, primed to find her truth in nature

 

Thank you, James J. Cudney IV for this opportunity to gather my thoughts and prepare for today’s chat. Radio interview on FM KCME 88.7 in Colorado Springs. Interview taped 12/15 airs MST (mountain time) on “Culture Zone” 12/31/17 at 5:00 PM and again on 1/1/18 at 7:00 PM. Check out KCME 88.7 FM and kcme.org.

 

Links To Learn More About This Great Author

Sleeping Moose Saga — Atwood Cutting (WordPress Site)

Amazon Author Central

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Pinterest

Goodreads

LinkedIn

To see more about Atwood Cutting on ThisIsMyTruthNow, check out her dedicated author page where future content and books will added as she publishes them and I review them. Thanks for stopping by this edition of the Author Alert.


 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Book Review: Lady on the Hill: Biltmore Estate by Howard E. Covington, Jr.

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Book Review: I read Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon by Howard E. Covington Jr. over the last two weeks, absorbing a few chapters each night to reminisce over my stay at the beautiful estate last September. I miss it and want to go back right now, but alas, a short book review will have to do.

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Summary 
It’s a 3.5 star read for me — a good account of the transition of the estate from what it originated as through what it became in early 2000. I don’t often read non-fiction unless it’s someone famous I admire in history (I don’t read current celebrity/political books, just not usually my thing) or a great account of some marvel or period in history. This fell into the second category, as I was anxious to learn about how the Vanderbilts changed over the years. It’s hard to maintain a fresh voice in a book that is informational. At times, I felt this was a tad dry, even for the type of book it is. I went in knowing there’d be information dumps, partial history and a different take on how it currently runs. I learned a lot more than I did on my visit, but at the same time, it felt like it was missing enough of a lure to keep me wanting to read more. The writing is strong. The information is great. Yet, it came from a starting place of facts rather than the passion behind everything that went into the estate. You feel it from the Cecil family in a few chapters, but not always. The author did a good job at balancing all the information, and it’s worth a read for anyone who loves the estate. If it’s your first time to get acquainted, it might be a difficult read. All in all, I’m glad I revisited the place and took the time to read over several weeks in between other books, as it made the magic last a bit longer.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Where the Moose Slept by Atwood Cutting

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Book Review: ‘Where the Moose Slept’ by Atwood Cutting (fellow blogger!)

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Why This Book 
I met a wonderful blogger about three months ago who I began exchanging emails with each week, chatting about books, life, and many other topics. After a while, she casually mentioned her book, which of course led me to reading a little more about it and her. I recently started a new segment on my blog called ‘Author Alert,’ where new authors can share a message with my friends and followers – Atwood Cutting, author of Where the Moose Slept: An Account of Two Late-20th Century Pioneers Who “Saw the Elephant” on the Last Frontier, is today’s (Fri 12/15) latest author. But first I had to finish reading her book this week and write this review…

Approach & Style 
I read this ~300 page book via Kindle Reader on my iPad in 4 hours over three days. It is a cross between fiction and non-fiction, as it is a true account, almost a journal, of a woman and her family’s experiences; however, a few things were changed around in how the story was told so that it reads more like a story. Atwood tells accounts of her life through letters home to her mother, in episodes focused on their trek around Alaska, and via pictures from the entire time period.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Kate and Tim Peters were recently married, making the trek up to Alaska for the oil boom during the mid-1970s, several years after college. Picture frontier life in a more modern world (still didn’t have electricity in the beginning, tho!) and learning how to adapt to life in the wilderness where animals — and people — attack. Through building a home, getting to know their neighbors, learning how to adapt to married life, finding ways to earn money and survive, they meet some potentially life-long friends (I only read the first book… not sure of the ending even though I know and chat with the author) in this beautiful backdrop where the moose sleep – in search of seeing the elephant (you’ll have to read the book to know what that means).

Key Thoughts 
Atwood’s voice is the best part of the book. Writing an account of your life, understanding what to include about the mundane versus existing parts of your life, is critical. Through the characters, Kate and Tim, she achieves a charismatic and earthy combination of humanity. Life for many of us who live in a city or the suburbs seems difficult, but you don’t know difficult until you truly rough it on land that’s never been lived on before. Seeing (the pictures are fantastic) and reading about their lives gives you a bit of the goosebumps, worried for their safety and mental health. It can be lonely and cold; it can be dangerous and boring. But through trust and a strong relationships, two people can achieve a lot of success — success which is measured differently when you go through a non-traditional path (building your own house in frigid temperatures with practically no neighbors around in a place you’ve never been and no knowledge of how to make it all work!), but in the end, you still experience that wonderful amazement of knowing you did it all with your own two hands.

This is the kind of book you want to read when you are bored with mysteries or general fiction, when you need something inspirational without being pedantic. It’s a light yet heavy account of a really different side of life, one we should all experience for ourselves at some point. But if you’re not the kind of person who will rush off to Siberia or Alaska, then dive into this book for an intense picture of what it might be like. You’ll enjoy some of the sentimental moments and many humorous conversations between Kate and Tim. I won’t spoil them here, so go read it.

Summary 
I’m normally a fiction reader, who will throw in 5 to 10 non-fiction books each year. When I do, they’re usually based on a famous figure in history or a remarkable informational piece. When I chose Atwood’s book, I knew it would be a different kind of read because it was a personal journey with an incredibly charming voice — that alone makes it worth the read. But once I started it, the story became so much more. I look forward to reading more from this author and will keep on chatting with her to see how everything turns out in her life.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.