Archive | Spirituality

The Beautiful Lessons of 2018

Ya’ll. I am so happy right now. Like, wow. Wildly happy.

Why?
Because I got the download yesterday.

You know the download? When you’ve been stewing on something and suddenly it all becomes clear?
Yeah. That.

I have gotten downloads (they might also simply be called ‘clarity’ or ‘solutions’) for many things in my life. I used to run women’s self-care retreats and would regularly get downloads for what content my fellow facilitator and I should put in them, how it should run from one activity to the next, etc. I have also gotten them for classes I’ve taught or a series of blog posts. And a variety of other things (including just what to do to turn particular people on- there’s no limit to what one can find clarity for).

I think this kind of clarity comes when we’ve been stewing on something for a while. For me, it often develops this way. I start thinking about something- gathering ideas, brainstorming, looking at details, imagining different ways the pieces could go together. And then- bam- it all falls into place one day while I’m in the shower (usually) or driving somewhere or drinking a cup of tea or laughing with a friend. I think it’s the ‘stewing’ part that helps it all come together in a way that makes sense.

I have also had clarity when I’ve been so frustrated with something and I’ve finally sat down and either bitched about the whole thing to a friend or wrote out absolutely everything about what’s going on and what’s in my mind and heart. And – bam – there it is. The download. Suddenly everything makes sense and I see why it all had to happen and how the pieces click into place to form the whole picture. [Pro tip: you can use both these tools for yourself and probably get the same results.]

That’s what happened yesterday.

I was feeling so frustrated about several things- personal, professional, relational, etc. I finally sat my ass down in a chair and just writing-barfed all over the page. I let out everything- every detail, every idea, every connection, every desire, every frustration. And when I was done, I asked, “What do I need to see here?” I got very quiet and very centered and noticed.

I noticed patterns.
I noticed places I’ve let go of my own power.
I noticed what needed to be fixed and how to do it.
I noticed who I am and how I have not been honoring that.

I found my lessons for the year.

 

Learn your lessons and the sky’s the limit.

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

 

Typically, Fall is the time of year that I have insight into something about my life that needs to be looked at a little more closely. Often, that ‘thing’ also needs to be dealt with- felt, healed, put boundaries in place or change my behavior. This last year I’ve learned a lot of skills and new things about myself, but I haven’t been as focused on what I need to learn as in past years. I haven’t taken any classes this year, I’ve read only for pleasure, and that’s very different than in years past, so it didn’t feel like there was much in the way of lessons for me this year.

Except Life always has the last say, doesn’t she?

So, there I was, yesterday: sitting down and full of frustration and five other emotions. And I just decided to write everything out. Once I did, some things became incredibly clear. And I know they are my lessons for this year because once I saw them and understood their roots inside me and their impact in my life, I felt calm, clear, clean, and more alive.

What are my lessons?

To Just Tell the Fucking Truth. There are a couple of places where, if I had just been straight out about something, it probably would have gone a lot easier and better. Usually, I only tell one or two bits of truth at a time to see if people can handle it, or to see which direction they will take it. It’s easier for me to disengage if I’m not as invested (because I’ve not been vulnerable and not told the whole truth); it doesn’t hurt as much. I like to think my heart is always open, but maybe it’s not. And maybe I didn’t tell the whole truth because I was afraid of being hurt- and that fear turned things into a bit of a mess. If I’d just said, “Here’s the truth…” it would have all turned out much better (even if it hurt). I’m telling the fucking truth in 2019. Be ready.

 

Get On My Level or Leave. I give people a fuck ton of chances. And I realized I do this because it is rare for me to want to invest in people. Most people don’t get me. Most people don’t understand me or don’t want to. Most people are dumber and less strong than I am. And I don’t mind helping those people or hanging with them (to a certain extent), but when I find people I connect with and want to invest in, it’s rare. So I give them a lot of chances to hang with me. But that is just not working anymore.

I know that it’s hard to make decisions for some people. And I know some people need to feel 100% about something before they can jump, sometimes (although, that can also be an excuse based in fear). But I know I’m funny, smart, sexy, practical, creative, sensual, kind, supportive, weird, nerdy, beautiful, communicative, healing, etc. and if you can’t or don’t want to hang with that, I am finally good with it. There are people out there who see me and what I have to offer and have jumped at the chance to hang with me. Those are my people. They get me and they get how good it is to be connected to me. And I don’t have to ask them twice. In 2019 I am sticking with these people and not giving so many chances.

 

I Am Not Afraid. But Other People Are. I’m not as afraid to take chances anymore. I may think about it a lot. I may totally fuck things up in the process. But I do stuff and I think that scares a lot of people. Most people are afraid to change their lives, but I’m a change junkie. Most people are afraid of the pain of healing, but I know that pain results in pleasure. Most people won’t take risks of the heart or mind or spirit, but I will. And, again, I may totally fuck it up in the process, but at least I did it. At least I tried. And I know that scares the shit out of most people. I understand. It’s okay. It’s not a fault- safety is also pretty damn nice sometimes (there are skillful uses for everything). But when I’m ready to jump, I do it.  And that is not for everyone. In 2019 if you don’t want to run with me, I’m not going to hope that you try.

 

I’m Passionate. This Also Scares People. I’m ready to go, ready to walk the line, ready to party: once I’ve decided I’m ready, I’m ready. Like, all the way. I’m not afraid to talk about scary things, I’m not afraid of death (too much), I’m not afraid to make mistakes or go after what I want. And I think that really, truly scares people. Maybe it’s hard to keep up with. Maybe they need their own space and time so my pace and passion are hard for them to take. Either way, I’m not waiting anymore. If you want to run with me, you’re going to have to actually run. Lace up your shoes, grab my hand, and let’s go!

On this particular point I realized something very deeply: I have always done my best, felt my best, had the best time when someone – personal, professional, relational – has said, “Hell, yes, I want to do this with you!” and off we go. The plans might change as we go along, but it doesn’t matter, as soon as someone says “Yes!” then I am off like a rocket. And not everyone can do that or wants to follow.

It’s kind of funny…two of my favorite songs are about this kind of ‘yes.’ Say Yes by Floetry is one of the sexiest songs I’ve ever heard (ooooff). It gets me every time. And it is about this same idea that is now my lesson- that if we just say ‘yes’ it all opens up. I just need someone to grab my hand and I will take them to all the places there are in the universe. Just Say Yes by Snow Patrol is another huge favorite of mine with the same idea: just say yes, it will be fine, it’s easy…just say yes. And that’s really the case with me. When people simply say ‘yes’ to me, I make it the most gorgeous, honest, loved-up ride it can possibly be, whether it’s romantic, professional, friendly, or whatever. It’s just someone agreeing to let my passion flow between us and carry us both.

The lesson here is that I am not going to stop being this way and other people can’t always take that trip with me. And it shouldn’t stop me- it won’t stop me, anymore.

And, Jesus, it makes me giggly happy just to write these things down and feel the truth of them down to my bones, down to my deepest core. Oh, my god. Yes.

It’s the end of Mercury in retrograde today and it’s also a new moon tonight (my favorite phase), which means we (you) should be having more clarity about our lives and our patterns and it’s time to ‘plant’ what we’ve learned under this new moon darkness and let it begin to build into something real in our lives. These lessons are what I know now, and they are what I am going to be making my life from in 2019.

In these last weeks of the year, beloveds, I encourage you to take some time and look at your lessons for the year. Maybe you need to stew on them. Maybe you need a good word-barf session. Maybe you need to put the headphones on and dance like crazy until you sweat out your lessons. Whatever it is, do it. Make the space to find your lessons. Plant them for the new year. Watch you grow.

Under the dark moon, with all my love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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Patience and Pleasure

I have finally started to make some headway on a practice (tool?) that I’ve been wanting to get better at for years. It’s about finding pleasure as we have patience in Life, in requests, in wishes, and desires.

When I was first in the Sex Surge, I was directed to a teacher who talked about enjoying desire in, and of, itself. Primarily this was about not getting attached to a particular outcome. But to enjoy the desire, the wish, the request, the fantasy in, and of, itself. I will tell you: I sucked at this. I attached to outcomes like a mofo. Like most humans, I have a wish and I want that wish to come true. In the way I imagine it. Exactly the way I imagine it.

Of course, that rarely happens.

With time, I’ve learned to let go of some desires in a backwards way of letting go of attachments. But that’s not the same as letting go of the desired outcome completely and just enjoying the desire itself. But this week, I’ve started to get the hang of it. A bit.

I made a request of someone this week. And while I’m pretty sure of the outcome,* I am really enjoying just living inside the desire that was the ground from which I made the request.

::: ::: ::: :::

Before I made the request/wish/desire, I did some things that I know help. I opened up as much of myself and my energy as I could. I wanted flow, movement, options.

I opened as many portals between us as I could. I made offerings to my goddesses and meditated more deeply than usual.

I held open my heart and spirit as much as I could. This was hard to do, for a variety of reasons (and past lessons), but I let desire and courage lead me.

I also thought about what I most wanted from this request. (There are several things I really want, but I needed to decide what I most wanted and try for that.)

I sent good energy to the space between this person and I. (Not the person, but the interaction between us.)

I prayed for what I wanted.

And then I did something that I know helps greatly: I set my intention and purposefully rooted it in the understanding that nothing may come of it. That both outcomes (I get my wish/I don’t get my wish) are equally okay with me.

::: ::: ::: :::

I learned this practice of equanimity many years ago when I was a Christian. For whatever reason, I stumbled upon it and found it really worked. When I got what I wanted, I felt happy. When I didn’t, I wasn’t knocked for a complete loop; it was going to be okay. And it has been grounding in the truth that ‘this might not happen’ that has allowed me to find real pleasure in the desire of the request I made. Because I can imagine the request, imagine the desire that it came from, and just enjoy that – the feelings, the pictures in my head, the joy of taking a risk- without being attached to any particular outcome.

It feels weird, perhaps because we live in such a consumerist (gotta have it! now!) society, but it also feels good. And I’m finally finding pleasure in the waiting, in the wanting.

::: ::: ::: :::

You’re probably wondering what the request was, right? I can’t say, exactly. But it was the simplest desire I had (the other two were rather complicated) and the one I thought would be easiest to say ‘yes’ to. I wanted a simple conversation to see what doors might open. Because as long as we could have a conversation, everything was on the table: every option, every wish, every desire. Complete creation, complete destruction- depends on the desires feeding it all.

The outcome could have been cosmic in its awesomeness. I think it would have lead to fun, it would definitely be sensual (probably creative and sexy af), grounding in the best way (both the ‘grounding’ of making something imaginary real, but also the ‘grounding’ of letting the energy run through your body back into the Earth), and possibly healing. But it had to start with this request for a chat. [I didn’t make these things explicitly clear in my request, so that’s on me.  But seriously, did it need to be more explicit? How hard is it to have a conversation?]

And as I sit here, waiting for the answer (that has already come), I am enjoying feeling the desire of the request, of the possible outcomes, of the wishes and desires.

::: ::: ::: :::

One of the things I had to learn this past year, more so than other years, is that I can’t always have what I want. It’s such an obvious insight, but it’s also still hard for me to accept. I don’t ask for much in this life, so not getting things that seem like simple requests to me is tough. And I’ve had to learn that sometimes I can’t have what I want, even though I want it very much. The flip side of that is: I can’t have something, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting it. (“Can’t have” is different than “don’t want.”)

If you ever hear me saying, “I can’t” it’s only because Life (or someone) has told me ‘no’ and I’m listening. So, I can’t be attached/attracted/desirous of things, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still attached/attracted/desirous. It just means those things don’t get to be alive in the real world; they remain inside me.

I learned to play a strange game this year because of this. I call it “…Among Other Things.” When Life, the Universe, someone, or some situation tells me ‘no’ I do my grieving, but I also try to see why that ‘no’ might be useful or true for me. Instead of saying, “But whyyyyy???” I try to take the perspective of the Universe, the other person, or the situation, and see why the answer to my request was, ‘no.’ I list as many reasons as I can think of, and then I add “…among other things,” to the list, because Life has so many more ideas than I do.

In a weird way this game has helped me accept what I can’t have (or what others don’t wish to give) and also changed my perspective. Sometimes I’ve been able to integrate these things into my story enough that I can believe them (sometimes). But it’s partly because of this practice that I can take pleasure in a desire, wish, or request- because if it doesn’t happen, I have a way to see that the other side is just as valid.

 

If wishes were candles…I’d have burned the house down by now.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

 

I’ve spent the last few days enjoying the desire of my request, but also enjoying some wishes (fantasies?) about possible outcomes. I have found that I have to take a minute and calm myself down afterwards, and clearly remember, “This may not happen.” But it’s that simple action that has helped me enjoy this – to find pleasure alongside my patience.

But, I’ve also watched myself get a little attached at some points. I have stood in front of my altar, one hip popped out, my hand on the other, tapping my foot and looking at my goddesses: “Listen, you! I did not ask for much. I asked for the simplest thing I wanted! I don’t ever ask for more money or power or anything greedy. I simply asked for a chat. Couldn’t you just make that happen?”

The thing I know about magic and prayers is that they always work – they always tell me something about myself, my world, my inner work- but they may not tell me what I want to hear. It is quite possible (probable, even) that by opening up so much, Life will loudly slam things closed. I also know that we all have free will, and so the person I made the request of is quite free to say, ‘no.’ I’m much better at being okay with that now that I know how to play my game and also to gain resilience from pleasure.

::: ::: ::: :::

One other thing I’m enjoying is the feeling of taking a risk- of wanting, of asking. It has taken me a bit of time to understand, but I know that wishes without guts, wishes without actions, are nothing. They are air. Wishes can be quite alive, but they don’t actually become ‘real’ until we take action. I’m learning how and when to do that. I’m also learning that desire is a seed and risk is a kind of nurturing. Risk is a vulnerable tendril, reaching out and hoping. And there is a lot of beauty and joy in that.

[And if it makes you super sad to think about not having something or not taking the risk, it’s probably worth it to take the risk. Especially if it might bring you something you deeply want and the risk is low.]

::: ::: ::: :::

As a way of working with all this, I have also worked to take in as much pleasure as I possibly can. I think that extra pleasure helps feed our souls and increases our resiliency. Am I sad at the outcome of this? Of course. But I have a reservoir of pleasure to keep me buoyed up as I work through what is happening and what comes next.

Things I Have Been Enjoying For My Own Pleasure:

  • daydreaming (about many things, but mainly this request)
  • finished reading Good Omens (omg, fucking edit that book, ugh)
  • started The Little Paris Bookshop (which is wonderful on so many levels and beautifully translated)
  • decorated for Yule/Solstice
  • drank a lot of tea (a lot)
  • wrapped up in a blanket, warm from the dryer
  • watched holiday movies (Elf, The Family Stone, The Sound of Music)
  • long, hot showers
  • almond lotion afterwards
  • got my hair done (the salon: where I have no responsibilities)
  • laughed
  • hugged people I love
  • slurped my favorite soup
  • applied for our next rescue dog (send good juju!)
  • wore my cutest undies
  • cuddled into my warmest socks
  • curled up in my favorite chair with Christmas music playing and just smiled

I have also taken the time to notice what truly pleases me and then indulged myself as often as I can. It feels really good. And it helps me use pleasure skillfully.

::: ::: ::: :::

I’m not sure I’ve made a lot of sense in this post; I will probably edit it as time goes on. I hope you get the gist of it, though. That we can enjoy our desires, just as they are, with no need to make them ‘come true.’ (I mean, it’s awesome if they do, but it’s also okay if they don’t). And that if we can figure out how to enjoy our desires as they are (with little/no attachment) they are a lot more fun and life-giving than if we expect anything from them.

It remains to be seen what will happen in my situation (actually, it doesn’t), but I’m good, either way. I’m super glad I took the chance to do this- and learn and practice something I’ve really been trying to get better at.

And if this weird post has helped you at all, I’m glad.
Big love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

*It’s not going to happen. That’s pretty clear at this point. Not because of anything other than inaction. If they wanted this, they would have acted. And they haven’t. Which, as part of this post, is totally okay. It’s part of not being attached to the outcome. I will probably have a tequila (which I haven’t had to do in years) and let it go. But the bigger point is that I’ve done so much better with just enjoying the desire than I ever have before. And that’s a huge win, even if I don’t get what I want.

 

 

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Getting Naked Is Good For Your Soul

I was going to title this post, “Get Naked With Me,” which would have been enticing enough, but probably not exactly fulfilling, because I’m not getting skin-naked.

I mean, it’s certainly quite vulnerable to take off all our clothes and show our body to someone else, especially if it’s not ‘perfect’ by social standards. But that’s not the kind of naked I’m interested in today.

Today I’m interested in the kind of ‘naked’ that bares our heart and soul. It is the kind of ‘naked’ that comes from telling the truth.

I started this blog as a place to tell my truth. I was going through the Sex Surge at the time, trying to make sense of it, trying to understand how I could be attracted to other people besides my husband, trying to deal with my sexual and sensual energy, and other musings about how I see the world and what I believe and I how I live on a day-to-day basis. It’s been a place where I can be completely open about myself + who I am + what I think because I don’t have to defend myself if I don’t want to (I hate getting in fights. Hate.).

I’ve talked about what it’s like to be lost.

How many of us speak ‘trauma’ as native language.

Growing into the truth of my Wild Heart.

The difficulty and beauty of letting go.

Learning to accept my own desire (a hard-won truth!).

[And sometimes just the truth of what’s on my iPod and why.]

And getting naked in this way – telling my truth – has always been good for my soul.

When we tell the truth, it gives us space inside our minds and hearts. We are free because we are clear. There is no lugging the truth around, hidden behind us, anymore. It feels good.

This is not to say that telling the truth isn’t difficult or ugly. Sometimes the truth is ugly. Sometimes the truth is difficult to say.

I think of the truths we have to say in intimate relationships that are ugly or difficult.

I think of the truths that have been said about racism, sexism, and systemic oppressions of all sorts- terribly ugly and difficult, but so very necessary.

I think of the truths so many of us have told about our families, truths which distance us from them forever.

I think of the truths so many of us have not even admitted to ourselves- about what we truly think or feel- and how that keeps our soul in the shadow.

Some of us run from other truths that might bring us joy, because they will first mean ugliness and difficulty, perhaps destruction. But that makes them no less true, and not telling them leaves us no better off.

 

Photo by Jason Schjerven on Unsplash

 

I am a big fan of telling the truth, of going naked with our heart and soul. Because, even if it is ugly or difficult, I have only seen good come from it in the end.

For instance, when I read the truth of BIWOC online, and I see my part in their pain, it’s not fun (I feel like the most spiritually ugly person there is when I realize how I have participated in the oppression of many others), but it has always lead to me trying to do better, to be better. I know it has been healing for these same women to share their truths (for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is finding community and support by doing so).

When I have told the ugly truth to a friend who can listen with love, I have always felt better. When I am the one to listen, I always feel it is a great honor to witness someone else’s truth. Because I have chosen to tell the truth about my own darkness, it is so much easier to hold that space for others- I really don’t mind listening to your darkness.

By the same token, when I have told joyful truth, when I have heard joyful truth from others it is always a beautiful thing. When someone speaks their truth about what is in their heart, that is a miracle- like a bird set free, in its proper place in the world.

Of course, getting naked like this takes practice. Takes courage. Takes having a safe place to do it. Sometimes that’s the arms of a friend, sometimes that’s just standing by the ocean, screaming our truth into the waves. But telling the truth has always been a boon for me and those I know.

Telling your truth, getting naked with your heart, is good for the soul. I promise.

May you have a safe place to tell your truth, to get heart-naked.
Big love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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The book of ‘Nanette’

I have believed for many years that sacred truths which serve the best of our humanity will continue to speak even if it seems that we have no scribes or bards or druids to hear them, remember them, and pass them on. And while it may seem that we don’t have these guides in this modern age, I believe we actually do. Justin Bieber’s song writer did it. Britney, Christina, and P!nk have given us a fresh rendition of the Divine Feminine. And in this post I shared three writers who are carrying on the tradition of sacred truth, even in the midst of political chaos and no culturally guiding principles except fame and capitalism. These days I would add Alexis Morgan of the Church of St. Felicia to the mix; she tells the truth and gives no fucks, goddess bless her. The truth tellers are out there. The truth will live even if there are no traditional sacred places or people for it to emanate from. New ways will be found, new ways will be made.

I also believe that lots of things can be a Bible. Many books and TV shows are completely capable of being guides for good behavior, handling bad times, and providing us with archetypes for how to live our life. I am partial to Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Wars, among others.

Like a lot of people, I watched Hannah Gadsby’s ‘Nanette’ (on Netflix) a couple of weeks ago and was deeply moved by it. She said new things. She validated the experience of a lot of women. And she told a lot of truth.

Ms. Gadsby turned the trauma necessary to comedy on its head:

“Punchlines need trauma, because punchlines need tension and tension feeds trauma. I didn’t come out to my grandmother last year because I’m still ashamed of who I am. Not intellectually, but right here [points to heart], I still have shame. You learn from the part of the story you focus on. I need to tell my story properly.” 

And also this:

“I have built a career out of self-deprecating humor and I don’t want to do that anymore. Do you understand what self-deprecation means when it come from somebody who already exists in the margins? It’s not humility, it’s humiliation. I put myself down in order to speak, in order to seek permission to speak, and I simply will not do that anymore, not to myself or anybody who identifies with me. If that means that my comedy career is over, then, so be it.” 

 

She spoke very clearly to men who feel uncomfortable in the MeToo era:

“Pull your socks up. How’s that for humiliation? Fashion advice from a lesbian, and that’s your last joke.”

 

Her words on public (and social media) interaction are wise and so very needed:

“This is about how we conduct debate in public about sensitive things. It’s toxic. It’s juvenile. It’s destructive. We think it’s more important to be right than it is to appeal to the humanity of people we disagree with.” 

 

For many women I know, Ms. Gadsby’s words about rebuilding ourselves after hardship (whatever it may have been) resonated deeply:

“There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.”

[Blessed be, blessed be, blessed be. Which is how pagans say ‘amen.’]

 

And this, which is for all of us who are broken:

“To be rendered powerless does not destroy your humanity. Your resilience is your humanity. The only people who lose their humanity are those who believe they have the right to render another human being powerless. They are the weak. To yield and not break, that is incredible strength.”

::: ::: ::: :::

I do not believe that just because something is popular it should be made sacred (far from it). ‘Nanette’ isn’t just popular, though. It speaks truth. It pulls back the curtain and shows the truth- bloody, messy, awful. But it also gives hope in the form of truth- that we can be kind, that we can rebuild ourselves, that we can be resilient and in that resiliency find our strength.

Ms. Gadsby’s words deserve a space in the modern sacred texts, a book in the modern ‘Bible.’ They are sacred because they are true. And true, perhaps, in a way we haven’t understood before. Or rather, true in a way we haven’t understood because these words were not allowed to live in the light before. Yes, that is why they are sacred- they tell a story that has always been true, but just not allowed to live openly.

Here is to your own sacredness and resiliency and truth.
Big love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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Oh, my, my. Oh, hell, yes.

 

Photo by Frank Flores on Unsplash

 

The Serpent Manifesto

Woman-
Go now and build a madness nest
a treasure chest
a place to rest
so every woman who is seeking solid ground can land her feral dancing
can wail her prayers and chanting
her no apology passion
and her sacred, soulful ranting

This is our demand
This is the voice of snakes
and the psalms of hands
All your sisters before you- they knew
All your sisters before you- they walked through this fire, too
They faced the shaming and the shunning
Yet they fanned the holy humming
Then they welcomed a new coming

We need your wildness, Woman
We need your wolf howl, Woman
We need your deep scowl, Woman
We need your truth vow, Woman

We need it as much as we need
your care taking
We need it as much as we need your love making
Because Kings and Queens- they’re one
Because divided kingdoms are done

The world needs all of you, but more importantly- you need all of you- the rushing river cluster star loud scream soft melt hard thrust slither kiss ALL of you

YOU need your wildness, Woman

And it’s not going away
it’s not giving up on you
it’s hunting you like a focused warrior
Ruling you like a golden empress
Rocking you like an ancient cradle
Injecting your life with
holy
healing
venom.

| Jocelyn Edelstein |

::: ::: ::: :::

When you want some of this magic,
when you think you might be ready to beg for it,
come find me.

Big love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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