Sunday, December 28, 2014

In my own hands.....

I get overwhelmed with the weight of so many things. The business of holding a home together, the business of getting myself where I need to be and everyone else where they need to be, keeping track of it all, managing my home business and all the marketing and producing that I feel should be done versus the marketing and producing that I can truly get done. The reeling in of my big ideas, what to wear , should I cut my hair or let it grow, are my kids doing okay, eating healthy, getting fit, making dentist appointments, cleaning toilets...all of it sometimes feels like a freaking avalanche coming  hard. You know life, it happens fast and EVERY SINGLE DAY!  Throw in a ginormous amount of overthinking and working on some hard stuff and I'm a hot tangled mess.....chaotic, wild hearted and tangled. I am not organized, effortless or easy at all. A bit of a bouncy storm.

At night in bed when I can't sleep it gets a little rocky in my thoughts, so I head out to the back yard, stand under the stars and breathe deep...I take a breath or two or fifty so I can calm my crazy thoughts and anxiety down...and then I look at my hands, I mean really look at them and I remember that with these hands I can do anything.  With my hands I can  hug my children and grandchildren, my hands can carry what I need, my hands created this kitchen table business and my hands will carry it through. My hands know the touch of a loved one's face and the grasp of a friend reaching out. With these hands I can make and making is what I do. It is my world and my passion and these hands of mine are my tools. I talk with my hands, I touch materials and know they will work with my hands, I use my hands for knitting, sewing and every other thing I do. I use my hands to measure fabric at work . I love to throw my hands in the air when I dance, celebrate or exclaim. I clap my hands together in joy, I cup them around my mouth so my sons will hear my voice on the football field, I reach to the stars at night in the quiet dark solitude when I pray. 

And so it is with all of us. We have in our hands the possibility of everything. Helpless never, hopeless, certainly not. Not when we have our hands for making and for holding. For reaching out and touching, for grabbing what we seek and keeping it tight.  I am so grateful for my hands, my heart, my truth, my tangled messy mess, all of it. This life of mine, is in my own hands; yours is  too. So here is my new business card photo, I love it so much I want to hand them out to everyone I see because this picture is my heart and speaks to who I am.... I love it, and that's that... With these hands I will find my way.....

"The final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands"
Anne Frank

Throw your hands in the air......

Friday, December 26, 2014

I hope I make you proud......

It's December 26 and I'm sitting here pretty darn proud of myself for surviving , I mean shining right through Christmas. I did ride the Joy boat all through the month of December instead of wallowing and thinking about the love and holiday spirit I wish surrounded me. I concentrated on the best of things and I said  "Merry Christmas" to EVERY person I could. And each time, my heart filled up just a little bit more. I made cookies, I decorated the tree, I made gifts and I sang Christmas songs. I launched myself into the holiday like it was my job and guess what. It was great, really. Because joy got me through... So now what?  Time to tackle the hard stuff...

I miss my dad these days, more than the usual every minute I miss him. I so wish he was here with me right now for guidance and his gentle wisdom. A girl needs her dad for these kind of things. Someone to say "you deserve better" or "nobody treats my girl this way"...but he's not here and probably he wouldn't exactly say it like that. Because my dad was the kind of guy who taught me that being a girl didn't excuse me from handling hard things. I had to change a tire before I was allowed to drive the car. I learned to use a hammer and hand saw, I could sail a boat, ride a big horse and make a fire all before I was 6. Sometime I forget that is who I am and that is what I need my dad for.  His last words were to tell me to remember that I am strong and not to let anything break me down. I'm guessing he has been shaking his head at me lately because I have been broken down, feeling helpless and weak. I don't think he would be proud of my whining, wallowing or all.... 

My dad taught high school wood shop and there was a sign in the classroom portion of his shop that said "Your mother isn't in this class, clean up your own mess".....That sign has popped into my head more than a little lately. So while I've been wishing my dad was here to help me fix my stuff the truth is he is here....and I know I need to clean up my own messes. I'm out of shape, I am not healthy, my  marriage is not healthy or viable, I've been broke and broken, I'm a little terrified of making tough changes.  I'm afraid of being strong because then it truly does feel like I am alone in this world and I don't want to be alone in this world. It's hard stuff  my friends on a deep heart level but then again it's simple stuff. What doesn't work must be fixed or let go of. If you want to be strong, be strong. If you want something different, do something different... Stop talking...DO THE WORK.... It's my mess and I will clean it up.  I know my dad will be proud of me, I'm a little proud of me last...

Thank you Melissa Rice for passing this graphic on.... it was exactly perfect.   

<3 Barbara

p.s. I promise I will talk of better things soon, thanks for riding along with me these days. You are all my favorites. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Joy from where I stand.

I love the holidays. I mean LOVE LOVE LOVE the theory...... I love  the celebrations, the get togethers, surprises, time spent just enjoying family and friends....all the stuff in the commercials and in my heart and mind. The problem with all that is that many times that isn't the reality and we start measuring up against commercials and our friends as they post their families all dressed up nice and share their party schedules for the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

And then there are the ones who bake and make and create amazing spreads of food and decor, they have family pouring into their homes and all kinds of wonderful memory making times. Multiple trees in the house all theme decorated and done with Pinterest worthy precision.  Time set aside for traditions and gathering... This is all totally inspiring and awe worthy. And overwhelming..... 

For a moment, let's consider those who don't have a house full of holiday enthusiasts, money is tight and even a new box of Christmas lights is has to be weighed as to whether it's a worthy purchase or frivolous.   And what are we to do when we don't have invitations or places to go. No dressing up or holiday parties to attend... what about those people, how are they to celebrate and enjoy the holidays feeling left out and overlooked... 

I've spent some years as one of those people and it's all my fault. I let the joyless spirit of someone else steal my joy or rather I gave up because I guess it was just easier than fighting the scroogeness. I stopped decorating with any enthusiasm, I stopped baking cookies (this is in some cases a good thing), I stopped thinking about Christmas cards, Christmas parties and social events.I did the bare minimum and wrapped myself in hurt and waited for the whole thing to be over. I've sat on Christmas Eve watching my family opening their pajamas knowing that there were none for me. I know I'm supposed to be an adult but truly that does sting a whole lot when nobody cares if you get any Christmas jammies. I've cried every Christmas for many years feeling left out and alone ...that is the truth. I gave away Christmas and I suffered for it.  And I've probably not been a good Christmas mom to my children. I've tried to fake it but I'm pretty sure they saw right through all of that. Christmas for me has just sucked for a fault but suckage just the same. 

So what to do when money is still tight and there are still no invitations to parties or reasons to dress up?  Well I believe I will start with a little joy...or a lot of joy. Shower with it, breathe it, say it, sing it, wear it, seek it and believe in it. And when you start to slip a bit...go find some more... I don't know what else to do. Being sad and feeling lonely is not the deal. Filling myself with envy by looking at everyone else's Christmas morning pictures or wishing life had dealt me something more "fair"...not the deal...Joy is the deal. I know it sounds simple but honestly it's working. Every time I start to slip and believe me I do, I go outside, take a deep breath and remember that there is always love and it starts with me...I have two children left in my home for the holidays and the three of us deserve to feel the holidays even in the simplest forms. I have three grown children and five gorgeous grandchildren I don't see enough, and that will change, somehow, some way, I will fight for my Christmas joy and make sure the people I love know how much they matter.. I won't give up ever again

There will be cookie making  tonight and hot chocolate with candy canes hanging on the edge of the cup. There will be a trip to a picture taking place tomorrow with my iPhone to take a picture for Christmas cards and in the boxes of mixed up Christmas decor in the garage there is enough stuff to make this little house sparkle enough that Santa would be proud. I will buy my own Christmas Jammies and rather than wallow in pity and the sting of no Jammies, I'll just fix it. My boys won't have to feel badly that they were not allowed to purchase anything for me because I will give them money to shop for me.  I think I'll invite some girlfriends out for an ornament exchange and I'm going to dress up a little, rock my Grandmother's Christmas pin, drink something festive and laugh until my heart bursts wide open again.

My gifts are going to be simple, loving and handmade and I'm super excited to be working on something special for all the people I love.  There is always a way to squeeze a lot out of a little but it's truly all about where your heart starts from.  I won't have a Pinterest worthy Christmas tree in every room but you can believe that my little Christmas that Joy made will be sparkley and bright.....It may be from glitter, glue and cardboard but that's will shine....and I will remember this as the year I took my joy back... 

I wish you all the best of holidays and please know that however much or how little you have, it's okay.  Be happy my friends, it's going to be wonderful.  

Joyfully yours

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.

Friday, October 3, 2014

You Deserve....

Oh my I have done what I promised myself I wouldn't do. I disappeared for a few weeks. And I apologize to you and to myself.  This is no way to run a blog!  So I will do a little catch up and tell you what is on my mind and be better at staying current.

I want to talk for just a teeny bit about what we deserve in life. I'm one of those girls who has waited for the World/Universe/People I know to give me what my heart aches for. Love, acceptance, encouragement and comfort.   I'm also one of those girls who never really felt that those things are mine to count on because I haven't been given enough permission to claim them as my own. It makes it hard to be totally comfortable in my own skin although I am probably 200 times better at it now than in my younger years, I still struggle with it. Because it is hard for me to say to my own self. I deserve love, I deserve acceptance, I deserve encouragement and I deserve comfort.  The thing I've been overthinking thinking about is learning to tell my self that I am deserving of all those things and more. That I deserve the best in life, that I am beautiful no matter the shape of my bottom and that I can be happy because I deserve it. Simply being here, being myself is good enough and the only one who can give me permission to accept all that is me.   I love big, I deserve big love. I encourage and in return I am worthy of encouragement. All good things are mine to grab onto but I need to stop standing back waiting to be noticed and offered the good things. Good things come to those who claim them without hesitation.  And I've been working on that. Which is why I've been quiet, I am facing down my own demons on this one sweet friends. There will never be enough to fill my cup until I start to fill it myself.

This is all part of that 100 better days thing I spoke of in my last blog about a month/ hundred years ago..... I have to make a conscious choice every moment to treat myself with kindness and love that I can give to anyone else but not myself. So my simple mantra to me ...YOU DESERVE THE BEST. I LOVE you no matter what.......   Maybe that sounds simple and silly but it's been a journey and a bumpy, twisty turny, cry in the middle of the night kind of journey, self acceptance and love. No longer waiting for the World/Universe/People I know to fill up that part of me that has waited for all those best things, breaking down the walls of untruths I tell myself that don't feed the good things.  Grabbing them for myself because I deserve them. You all deserve them and I hope that you already knew it before I rambled on about it but if you didn't, now is the time to believe You deserve the best of everything. You deserve love...

"I want you to know, that you deserve the best. You're beautiful."
~Lil Wayne~

....  Lastly...It's October, OH HOW I LOVE OCTOBER!!!   The weather where I live has shifted a bit, the nights are cool and although the days are still warm, the promise of cooler fall weather is whispering in my ear.  I got myself a new orange mug this morning, to celebrate the time of year when I feel the most alive and creative.  And truly if I was a color, I would be orange. Firey and demanding but warm and loving too. It used to be said that Orange didn't go with Red or Pink or even Aqua...but I think orange goes with everything, she compliments more than she clashes.....   And orange deserves  some love....We all deserve the best. Thank you Lil Wayne.

With Love

Sunday, August 31, 2014

100 Better Days

In the spirit of telling my story, I have with the support and loving encouragement from friends decided that the best way to be better is to do better. One step at a time. Not discouraging but encouraging myself and with every decision, choosing to be healthy. I'm NOT an expert in any of this, I'm a girl on a journey to be the strongest and happiest version of herself. So since I seem to love to throw the number 100 around, I've decided to go with 100 better days. Positive attitude, excited about what I can do to make myself healthier and more fit ...

That being said, I didn't convey how important I think it is that we make peace with our bodies and be comfortable in our skins. That bit of self love and drive has to come from what's inside and I know that. I just had a bit of a teeny meltdown because I am that kind of girl, a little stormy sometimes. Still I don't think it is ever ever a bad thing to want to do a little better.

So here is my plan, I'll try to gather real information and tips and will share with you how it's going for me . I would love love love if  you came along with me for this exciting and positive 100 days and see what happens. Please follow any Doctor's orders and don't take any of what I tell you for science. This is my real life journey and not anything close to being a strict regime or plan of any kind, because I'm messy and disorganized and need liveable changes that don't turn me inside out. Those never last. So here it is a bit at a time starting today..

Day 1. Stop eating processed sugar and flour and most importantly no fast food. I've done this before and I will tell you the first few days I get a little edgy.  Processed foods are not good for me and I want to only bring good things into my body.  I also did a little pool exercise for an hour. Drinking lots of water... There it is. A bit of change I can live with...

I won't be boring you all with EVERY SINGLE DAY updates, I don't want to be only about this process, it's just life changes.. I'll just check in and keep you posted randomly and I hope you do the same with me. And you can always email me at and we can privately keep in touch. If I find a healthy recipe I love, I'll share the link and anything else that comes to mind. I will also do some Instagram updates at @Barbarasuew which is my personal profile.

Love wins

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The victory in defeat

 This morning defeat is sharing space in my house. My son Hank is a high school senior and football player. Last night was the season opener in our stadium and the air was heavy with anticipation and expectation.  Months of preparation, early morning practices all summer, afternoon practices in 100 degrees, you know the story. These kids work hard, they persevere and they prepare...And the first game holds a magic promise of a successful season.  Well last night, the band played, the boys ran onto the field, pictures were taken with parents wearing jerseys and when the ball was kicked off to start the game, everyone on our side of the field expected a decisive and big win.   Well that happened alright... for the other team......

Hank is a cornerback and he is a darned good one. He is flashy and fast with some of the best hands around. He has handled his job against some of the best players this area has to offer and handled it well. Rarely are balls caught on his watch and it's a joy to watch his work in the air. Electrifying ...There was no doubt he would put on a show. But the show belonged to the receiver. He was faster, lots faster and for a fast kid to get out fasted in front of a stadium full of people screaming at's not an easy situation.    

So we lost and we lost decisively. Hank had 3 balls caught on his watch and 2 for touchdowns. He knocked down 4 other passes but those 3 undid him. My son left the field in tears of defeat and carried his mistakes heavy on his heart and there were no words to ease the hurt he carried home. Defeat moved in.

Last night was also parent night which means the moms wear their son's jerseys and the parents parade on the field to be introduced to the crowd and have a picture taken.  In front of a huge stadium full of students and supporters.   The night before, Hank handed me his away jersey to try on and I knew right away this was not going to be a good situation. The jersey was so tight, I think my eyes were popping out of my head. I looked pretty much like a sausage in a tight casing with a big #4 on the front. And it was unbearably uncomfortable. Now in my defense, Hank is a slender kid and these jerseys are very narrow through the body. A hard look for anyone with curves not wearing big shoulder pads. But for this mom, it was impossible. I knew there would be pictures which would just make the whole thing even worse, not only would I feel massively self conscious, there would be photographic proof of how horribly bad that jersey fit.  Hank and I talked and he said it was more important that I was comfortable and there for him... so I wore a cute football mom shirt with sweet football mom accessories and some sparkly gold sandals and looked in the mirror. And thought that even though I am a little fluffy,  I still looked pretty cute and headed off to the game. 

Surrounded by the moms in their son's jerseys waiting to walk onto the field , I felt really out of place and not so great about the situation but still thinking I was pulling off the mom style. I smiled for pictures, took a few selfies with friends and as the boys ran onto the field with the band playing the fight song, goosebumps on my arm and the atmosphere full of possibility and excitement, I wasn't thinking about how I looked, just how much I loved to be there.  The game was ...well you already know how that went. 

I woke up this morning and went to the site where all the pictures are posted and first thing I saw this picture of myself...
And suddenly I realized that while the mirror was telling me what I wanted to hear, the pictures are telling me the truth.... I'm not going to lie. I've been crying for a couple of hours. I can give you all the reasons I am not as healthy or fit as I want to be but that is simply no longer relevant. What to do about all this, that is the question. This is my defeat; aging, having babies late in life, not putting the time in and quitting when there are no results. When the expecations don't measure up to the outcome. When effort isn't rewarded fast enough. When I want something to eat that I know isn't going to feed my goals and I have it anyway. When I stop because it gets hard and I excuse myself from the effort.

 I don't judge others on outer beauty. I believe we all are worthy of love and I believe in the beauty of every single person. But, I haven't done anything for my health or well being and that is the real deal. I love the people I love the same when I am thin as when I am not and my creative chaotic brain works in amazing ways no matter what size I wear. But I want more than this for myself. I want to do better. Defeat moved into my room as well and it feels really awful and mucky.

So as defeat is taking up space in my house I wonder what to do about it all. Clearly both Hank and I need a plan.   Three steps, accept the mistakes, learn the lessons and then move on without carrying the defeat with us. Let defeat remind us that we are made of more than giving up. By talking about defeat with no judgement or shame, I believe we will not give it more attention that defeat deserves. Instead I thank defeat for showing up and reminding me that I can do better, Hank can do better, we all can do better. And the beauty is, every minute is when we get the chance to do exactly that. Every single minute of every day... we get to dance with victory.

This cuff is something I wear most days from my friend at  .  So we stand up...again, again and again.   Hank is watching film and talking with his coaches early this Saturday morning so that he can be done with the mistakes of last night and move on. I am making a better grocery list, meal planning and buying some cute socks to sew pom poms on so that I have a bit of happy to put on my feet when I hit the streets when it cools down this evening so that for this day, I found a little victory in the stinging truth and   that is a place to start. I have  let the defeat hang out for a few hours already and by facing the truth, sharing the truth and taking away defeats shame I am saying  there is only room for one guest in this house and she is victory. 

Love wins

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Give a Little Bit-100 Hats Project

I may have shared with you my LOVE , I mean BIG LOVE for knitting, specifically hats. Hats are my favorite of all for so very many reasons.... They are cozy, they feel like love on a cold day, they are inherently adorable on almost everyone ( Please don't say you are not a hat person unless you have tried a hand knit or crocheted hat). To a homeless person, a hat can provide a shield against the elements, keep warmth in the body, help prevent ear infections and add just little bit of caring to hard life. To a preemie, a knit hat keeps their tiny bodies regulated by not allowing precious body heat from escaping and a little love to welcome them to this world. To children fighting cancer and other life threatening illnesses, a hat feels like soft bit of protection and brings a bit of style and coziness to a rough time. For a mom and kids in a shelter who are struggling with every bit of every day, a hat is just something soft, warm and kind when life is coming at them a little hard and fast.

 In my Dad's name, I work  to send off 25 each December to various charities. I have long wanted to do a 100 Hats Project (I just like the way that sounds....100 Hats)  but,  I didn't know how to link up with a pattern source that would work for people, still trying to figure out the logistics, I was fumbling around knitting blogs for some answers.

And then this happened. I stumbled on She Makes Hats....And read this story   And then I looked at her amazing hat patterns and fell in a deep hat knitting crush.  Robyn is a girl who also loves to knit hats and her patterns were so gorgeously simple but oh so lovely. ( I am  big fan of simple loveliness) . So for the last  few months I stalked/followed her blog, on Facebook and Instagram. She is a charity knitter and hat giver of epic proportions and a very cool chick. And then.....she started putting her patterns up for free...I mean really you guys, she has an AMAZING library of hat patterns and they are there as a gift.  I really really wanted a perfect hat pattern for you all to use and my pattern originated from a purchased pattern, which I tweeked and rewrote and adapted but because it's origins are protected, I can't give it away. So....I got super brave and wrote to Robyn to ask if I could direct my charity knitters to her site for the purposes of this project. And what I got back was an enthusiastic YES and a copy of her book to read. Which I did late into last night and I'm about done. The story telling and honesty are beautiful. The intentions are so loving and kind and she has knit more hats than I dream about. You should read the book. I mean the girl designs hat patterns, knits abundantly for charity and wrote a book about her story. She is a wife and mother and I'm in awe....stalking is totally justified.

So let me introduce you all to Robyn Devine, seriously the cutest name ever...and look at her wearing her new Peaks and Valleys hat.

So here is how it is all going to work... Starting NOW, I am accepting hats in all sizes, preemie, baby, child, teen, adult. I am asking that you use a washable yarn that is soft and lovely to wear. I personally love and use Vanna's Choice yarns from Lion Brand.  and Woolease also from Lion Brand Both are available at your big box craft stores or online at a reasonable price but, please use what you prefer. You can search the free patterns at thanks to the generosity of sweet Robyn who has given her permission to use her patterns for this project.  She has so many patterns to choose from and they are all just right for charity knitting.  I am dreaming big that we will have 100 hats but I don't mind at all if maybe we surpass that number. When you are done, you can send them to me at the address below and I will divide and share them with the  many awesome agencies who are in need. I am setting a deadline of  December 1st so that I have time to get hats shipped and delivered.  However, if I have enough to ship some out before Thanksgiving I will. This is about more than Christmas, it's cold weather and the Holidays in general. 

I want to thank Robyn Devine, her inspiration and generosity are boundless . Most importantly she didn't block  my email when I revealed myself and my crazy plan along with my stalking tendencies.  Get her book, follow her blog, give her some Facebook love and follow her on Instagram @shemakeshats and you can become a stalker like me. And please as always, gifted patterns are for charity and personal use only.  Follow her blog, it's one of my favorite knitting blogs .  Be inspired and enthused by the loving and giving  of this girl. The world would be a little better if everyone had a hand knit hat. Just my opinion.

I will also take crocheted hats, I am not discriminating at all, I just don't have a pattern I can recommend at this time because I don't crochet. However, you can find a million/bunches of free crochet patterns at ..  I know this post is full of links and information but I really would love it if you all joined in on the Give a Little Bit-100 Hats Project with me this fall. I will keep you posted and share the progress with you all both here and on my Wildflower 57 page on Facebook and my Instagram which is @Thewildflower57.  If you have any questions, my email is

The address for shipping hats is
Wildflower 57
1061 Stanford Ave
Clovis, CA 93611

Thanks for the support and for being a bright shiny star Robyn and thank you in advance for any help and support for the Give a Little Bit-100 Hats Project 2014. Love to you all and happy Yarn! <3 Barbara

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

25 Things

I was tagged yesterday on Facebook by my friend Lisa to start a Gratitude chain. She challenged  me to post 3 things I am grateful for for 5 days and tag 2 people each day. Because I am a scattered messy girl I am doing one big gratitude post and calling out everyone...all of you....And I couldn't stop at just 15 things so I allowed myself 25..or more...

1.  Abby, Tyler, Becky, Hank and Jack, my children. I am grateful for the way they fill my heart and teach me more about love and life than I ever thought possible..I am grateful for the last bits of children in the house and trying to appreciate every moment.  I am grateful for all of them, for every part of our relationships, all of it.  For marrying Chris, Tiffany and Michael and bringing more people I adore to my life.  Love multiplied
2. Five healthy and happy  grandchildren who I don't get to see nearly enough....I need to smush all your faces ASAP
3.. I am grateful for friends in all forms.  Those I have never met, those who I have spent time with, and those yet to come.... you all listen, understand and bring something important to my heart. The people who have picked me up, given unexpected gifts, said things that warmed my heart and shared their stories with me when they are broken.. Accepting, encouraging, and embracing.You rock my world. that's the truth. and you make me much...let's do more of that.
4. I am grateful for my little business, my big dream with a life of it's own.  I'm grateful that with a smart phone, computer and sewing machine, I can bring my passion to life and make it work in a way that makes sense to me. Trusting instincts, making mistakes, learning lessons.....I wouldn't trade all this for anything.  and I'm not done, I'm grateful for that.
5. I'm grateful for my big ideas ...they keep me up at night and give me purpose and a plan.Watch out for a girl with a purpose and a plan....She will change the world.
6. I'm so grateful for my days working at Quilters' Paradise and all the ladies that are there. You provide love, inspiration and encouragement plus lots of laughter. I am so lucky to spend hours with you all and know  each of you.
7. I am grateful for a warm, safe roof in a safe neighborhood. My children know there is food in the house every day and they have more than they need. I don't take that for granted.
8. I'm grateful for the parents I had,  My pursuit of creative expression, sense of adventure and my wild  yahooty heart came from them. They let me run barefoot and unfettered through childhood and here I am doing the same in my adult life.. Kindness, honesty and story telling...all of it came from them...
9. I'm grateful for my brothers, sister in laws, nieces and nephews. More people I miss daily and need to see more often.
10. I am grateful for music and the need to dance when I hear a beat that moves me.  For feeling it in my soul. From the epic concert days in the 70s to music on the streets of New Orleans, I love it all....there is a soundtrack to my life.
11. I am grateful for barefeet.   I love the feeling of the ground under my sole, I feel connected to the Earth and life walking without shoes  However,. I also love shoes; cute shoes in any form make me weak..I know... the conflict is real...
12. I am grateful for knitting and the fact I can take a couple of sticks and some yarn and make stuff, while I am watching tv or in the car. I don't sit still well. And I like knit hats, they are cozy. I love yarn...seriously, I just love yarn.
13. High school girlfriends that have stuck around, you know who you are. I could find you at anytime and ask anything and you would wrap me in love and make me laugh...without hesitation. And they also will cause trouble at the drop of a hat...I love that about them..
14. I am grateful for the little pool in our backyard and for floating on a hot summer day...weightless and careless for a little while.
15. I am grateful for things in the sky so that when I look up, I remember how amazing the world is. Clouds, stars, rain and the moon to name a few....
16. I am grateful that I know the view from the back of a horse, the smell and feel of the gorgeous coat, the feel of a coarse mane, the sound of hooves on the ground and the closest thing to flying I have found on this earth.  I found truth and love in the eyes of my mustang and I miss her so. I am grateful for the horse girl in me.
17. messy hair, I love that too
18. High School Friday Nights....the  marching band, the cannons, cheerleaders and my son running onto the field through the big huge Cougar Head, two boys  of mine doing what they love, knowing that these are the days of their lives. And I yell, a's so fun.
19. Jeans with patches.I love them lots...sparkly earrings, pedicures, cowgirl boots, perfect tee shirts, swirly skirts, stacks of bangles on my wrists, cardigans, denim jackets and sunglasses. Hamburgers, red wine, pepperoni and pineapple pizza, Disney animated movies, good books, girls night out, rain storms, the beach, the mountains, wild daisies and the wind in my face. And October, I seriously love October.
20. Business people who lift up, shout out, advise, understand and encourage. We are in this together and opportunity is not a pie with only enough for a few. There is some for everyone..Here's to ones with big dreams who cheer for other's big dreams.   Rockstars all of you...
21. Mistakes, I am grateful for those. Skinned knees, bruised ego, broken heart and embarrassing mistakes ...all of it, messy and honest..own them, learn from them and leave them behind.
22. My tangled nature...It's not easy to be a girl who is emotional and a chronic overthinker but I think it leads me to a deep sincere understanding of where I fit in the world. At least I hope so.
23...Being 56...Best kept secret ever is finding comfort in your own skin that comes with this age. Learning that I am okay the way I am without intensely grateful for finally getting this one figured out.
24.  Possibility...anything and I mean anything is possible.  You just have to work TOWARDS it not away from it and believe..
25.  Mostly, I'm just grateful and my list got longer than I expected because gratitude brings more gratitude....I am grateful for faith, truth and love in all forms.... And I went over the original 15. Because I can't seem to leave well enough alone...Now it's your turn, start a chain of intentional gratitude, make your list and see what happens.

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” 
― Elizabeth Gilbert


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Saying Goodbye

   I feel like I need to step back a little and tell you about how my company started.   I've made stuff from other stuff for as long as I can remember. I am the daughter of very creative parents and the granddaughter of  two women who learned to  sew and knit when it was a necessity but kept their craft alive long  after they were able to afford to buy sweaters and dresses. The making of things is as much a part of me as my brown eyes.I only wanted two things as a young girl. To make things and to be a cowgirl. As I went through high school, college, marriage, babies, career, divorce, career burnout, marriage and more babies, the constant thing, my safe haven has been my love of making things.

Many years down the road, I had two small boys, a mustang horse and not much money; living on a farm outside a town called Pumpkin Center which consisted mostly of a feed store, small post office, gas station and thrift store. I wandered into the thrift store one afternoon and back in the corner stumbled on a stack of gorgeous sheets and they were cheap! I spent $10 for  five vintage sheets and rushed home to make aprons and bags that afternoon. And I took this picture and decided I had a business, making things from other tattered and faded things.  I was lucky enough to have a horse named Gypsy and my cowgirl life, so I named my company on a whim.  Shabby Cowgirl, just like that....

    Another fast forward, my boys were bigger and the farm was being sold and there was a move to a  new town, Gypsy had to go to a new home and I was a cowgirl without a horse, living in a neighborhood with sidewalks and fences.. I joined Facebook, opened a page and without a better name for my company and still clinging to my cowgirl life (saddle in the garage and spurs on the dresser mirror) , I opened my Shabby Cowgirl page and lucky for  me, good things happened, AMAZING things happened. However,  fast growth and an inexperienced business girl are sometimes hard to manage, the idea gets bigger than the ability to handle things and I got the high speed wobbles a few times, took more orders than one girl could produce timely and committed to everything because you feel like that is what you must do. I couldn't run as fast as I needed to and there were bumps in my road. I had super good days and days when I wanted to run away but always there was the making of things and wonderful people who loved my work. My page grew in a way I could never have imagined or hoped and Shabby Cowgirl was experiencing so many wonderful opportunities that I didn't want to say no to any of them..  I clung to the notion that I knew what I was doing even though I knew I needed to seriously regroup and gather myself up, take a breath and sort it out.

As happens in a sorting, I realized that I wanted to take back the intention of my work, the joy and the excitement of designing from my heart. I needed to get a grip and do this right or not at all.   I love the name Shabby Cowgirl but I had been encountering the issue of the domain name being bought and offered to me at a high price and the social media names  were taken by someone who offered to sell them to me at a price. I found out this is a common practice when there is a perception that a small business has enough of a following that people will pay to keep their name. I didn't want to pay to take back a name I was not sure was the right one for me.   But also, I don't do strictly western or shabby style and I was struggling with the notion that the company name didn't reflect the true design aesthetic of my brand. I felt inconsistent and then there was the fact that I don't have a horse right now and although I have the heart and soul of a cowgirl, I am not one at the moment.  Small detail but it nagged at me.

The word Wildflower popped up over and over in songs and quotes, it's always been a word that I connected with, I am not highly manicured, I'm a bit unruly, disorganized and tangled. I am at home in rocky and rugged places where blooming isn't always easy. At a crossroads with my work and my world, this was the time.  And in a quick moment, again on a perfect whim I knew it was Wildflower. I added 57 to the name. I have 5 children, 7 is my favorite number, I was born in 57 and this is my 57th year. So there you are, Wildflower 57 it is. I am happy with the change, I am happy with the direction of my work and I am happy with what I have learned the hard way. I love love love Shabby Cowgirl, she is after all, me. I am not leaving her, she is with me always in my wild heart. My design work comes from a deep love for farm, faded prairie, vintage, fresh,  gypsy, boho and  cowgirls, always cowgirls...I expect that Wildflower 57 will reflect all that and the love of making things from other things. As I close the door on Shabby Cowgirl with gratitude and love, I will  let myself fully fall into the field of tangled, sundrenched wildflowers that will carry this dream on down the road.

Shine and grow.....<3 Barbara

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pinatas and other stuff

I've told you I have a couple of teenage boys in my house and they sometimes bring me right back down to earth with their comments. The other day I posted something on Instagram about getting to work with the music loud and how much I love my work (I seriously do) and my almost 17 year old said "I feel like you try to make your life look way more awesome than it is...I mean, look at our house."   So in the interest of full disclosure here is the truth.

I don't have a gorgeous, organized work space. I have piles everywhere in most of our living spaces and my sewing machine is on the floor in the corner so I can put it on the table after breakfast is done. I share the kitchen table with well everything else... I do play really good music loud. have office snacks on the counter and lose myself in the creating  and for those hours that I am working, it's my amazing gorgeous work space where fun things happen  That being said..... this is the true scene at my table this morning. Sewing machine, football helmet and my youngest having breakfast he got for himself because I'm in the middle of organizing a pile of papers.  Please note the stack of fabric in the upper right of the picture about to fall on the floor and demanding to be folded.... The struggle is real my friends, I'm a hot mess, always have been, always will be, I'm messy and happy. And this kid at my table doesn't mind.

Also this week I got a haircut. This is a significant event because I hover between let it grow and all the adorable haircuts in my Good Hair Day Pinterest board.   It's hot here, my weirdly wavy hair was getting all flat which is not as cute as weird waves , so I got the cut...3 inches off and it looked amazing leaving the salon, soft curls swishing in the breeze. I was feeling like I looked like the Pinterest example until the breeze turned into a decent hot wind while I was trying to take a picture, my hair got all whipped up and this is the picture I got.
. The good news is, it washed up perfectly and the weird random waves have returned (I've convinced myself it's "beachy")  and I don't even have to dry it or do fancy things every morning. That is a good thing because we have probably already established that I'm a bit of a tangled and messy girl...hence the long random pieces that I specifically asked for...

So the last piece of what is on my mind.... I am feeling a bit like this...
photo from
A pinata....I feel like a pinata, like the hits keep coming from all directions. Nothing major, just stuff. Life; car breakdowns; power outages on a hot day; witnessed a horrible accident; very early morning football practices; lost paperwork;  mean comments from people I love; comments that feel like judgement from people I like and stuff that probably has more to do with all of them feeling a bit pinata-ish than anything else.    Somehow I get the feeling you all know what I'm talking about. Pinata-ish.... I don't have any big earthshaking words of wisdom for myself and all the other pinata people. For me I get a little quiet on social media, put my phone in another room and let what I love wash over me.  And I try to is gather all the grace and kindness I can and just search for happiness among all that candy that falls to the ground when I break into pieces.   

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Velcro rollers, naps and all that

Today I woke up feeling particularly frumpy. Maybe because I haven't shopped for clothing in a very long time  and my wardrobe is worn out ; or maybe because my hair is in desperate need of coloring sons keep saying "what's wrong with your hair?"; or maybe because on a daily basis I wear what is comfortable to do what I do around the house and at my work table which is the same pair of black work out shorts that should have been retired 4 years ago; OR maybe it's the fact its 105 outside and I have a raging headache.   Regardless, I'm feeling frumpy today. So in an effort to defrump myself I took a shower, washed and dried my hair (with it's glaring shiny streak at my part) and decided to spiff it up a bit. I used the big hair velcro rollers, threw on some makeup, some insanely hot dangly earrings and even wore a tee that slides off my shoulder to get that "I woke up looking this good" casual look.. Took out the rollers, shook my head and looked in the mirror  There ya go boys, look at your mama now...... wearing a cute denim skirt and rocking the 60s movie star hair.  I still got it.

For about 10 minutes.... I was on top of the world, feeling like a big haired hip sassy girl who happens to be way too cool  and  is wayyyyy too young looking for these kids that follow me around.  Then my frumpy reality came running back.  My hair is in my eyes and the skirt is not working for cleaning the bathrooms. I guess I'll save all that fixing up for when I am actually going someplace. Life is not always a photo op....

I know better than to try to be something I'm not, but sometimes I think I could step my game up a bit more...I think I'll color my hair and get a pedicure so that when I pull on those black workout shorts and sit at my work table, I'll be feeling pretty fancy. But, for today, I think I'll take that nap and let the big hair get squished. After's still 105 outside......

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sunscreen in my eyes

Today my youngest, Jack asked to go to the waterpark with a friend which is a normal summer occurrence for us.  It's close by and the kids are of an age where they get dropped off  (because nothing is less cool than having your mom hang out with you at the water park when you are 13 going on 17).   So we were packing Jack up and then something happened to unravel me.  He asked me to spray him with sunscreen.

Let me back up a teeny bit.  Jack is the youngest of my five kids. The older three are grown and have babies of their own and I've adapted to the notion that they are not little kids anymore. I don't like it but I've learned to accept and embrace their grownuphood.  And then there is Hank who is on the verge of his senior year and clearly has started his climb out of the nest, I only really have interaction when he wants to talk about his laundry or wants to go shopping. I am allowed to watch him play football but not to interfere much except take a picture after the game, before he is off with much cooler people than I. 

That's okay because there is one  guy left to hold this mom's heart together and he is Jack.  Jack was made for this job, he is sweet, funny and oh so patient with me and after all we still have ahundred four years of time left in childhood. He is  taking it for the team by spending time with me when all his older siblings are off having their own lives but seems to shoulder the responsibility with all the patience in the world. .   I once asked him what I was going to do with how fast he is growing up and his response was "I worry about it too, but, let's just take it one day at a time."   Which I was doing well until today.  He asked me to spray the sunscreen and, in my mind I was dealing with this child.

But in reality, I was spraying sunscreen on this kid.

He is a good 4 inches taller than I am and he is shaving. His voice is deep and he has muscles. And I don't know if it was the sudden realization of how grown up he is that brought me to tears or maybe it was just sunscreen got in my eyes.  He is off to the waterpark to talk to girls, walk around looking cool and eat lots of food with his buddy and I'm pretty sure he isn't thinking much about the ugly cry face I made as I resisted the urge to get my suit and join him. It's about 10 more seconds before these last two guys of mine are off into grownuphood along with those that went before them.  And then what will I do with all this sunscreen?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Do Something

I get stuck .... I am thinking we all get stuck and tangled up sometimes, it's hard to know how it happens or why, but, you know when you are there.  I shared that I am taking this summer slow and all the reasons why; family needs, mess cleaning and time to be. All valid and true, however, if I am being totally honest with myself, I got a little stuck. I lost my mojo and creative drive and I didn't know what I wanted to do next.  

My stuckness started as I did a local vintage show. It's a fun show, I love that it's in my hometown, the girls who put it on are insanely awesome, the vendors are fun and its overall a great show to do.  I was super excited with all kinds of fresh goods and displays and my space looked just how I wanted it to. The show opened and customers came in and I stood there in my cute tank and apron with a smile on my face and fluttering excitement. People filled the show spaces.... and they walked by my space without stopping or slowing down. It was early and patience is always important as is letting go of expectations. Trying to just have fun with the day, I said hi to everyone who wandered by my space and engaged anyone I  could in little bit of "how are you" banter. I was having fun and  I was in perfect spot for great traffic.  But still, not many took even a second look, I mean COME ON PEOPLE, I have really great things here!!!   There were some who wandered through my little "shop" and took a better look but mostly, people walked on by.  Now to be totally fair, I had some sales and wonderful friends stopped by as well as some who I knew from Facebook and Instagram. And it was a really really hot day.  But..... for whatever reason people didn't stop and shop with me. I saw other booths carrying out sold items s and selling their goods but not so much for my stuff.  As the day went on, my smile stayed intact but admittedly, my heart was sinking just a bit.  Sunday came around and I made a huge effort to just enjoy the day and all it brought and not worry about the sales, however.....I'm a handmade business and it is about the sales as well as the experience.  I didn't fare much better on Sunday which was even hotter than Saturday.  So, let me state clearly, I LOVE this show and it was a fun time,  but I felt like a failure.  I brought fresh new goods and they were displayed well and I  was sure they would sell and they didn't.   Bottom line...they didn't.

Now, on the plus side, I am going back, I looked at the setups and tents and made some exciting changes to how I will situated in the that isn't the deal.  What to do with what felt like failure and lack of interest was what weighed on me hard, that is the deal.  And the internal battle began, fueled by the criticism of people who also judged my success on how many dollars were made versus my expenses.  I questioned everything, including my own ego and abilities.  Did I just assume my stuff was cute because I made it or am I fooling myself?  And how could it just not appeal to ANYONE?  Add in a slightly funky unrelated misunderstanding  and I was stuck, as in quicksand the "I can't get out" kind of stuck.  Quicksand of self doubt and letting other people's (who don't understand why I do this anyway) voices into my head.  Not how I usually am in life but then I was stuck and when you are stuck, you don't even really know what to do or if you want to do anything at all... because you are well....stuck.

So without any clear answers and a whole list of negative thoughts in my head and heart, I got more stuck, up to my neck in muck stuck.  I shipped off the extra goods to a friend's shop and put my sewing machine away and declared this a summer of time off.  And now I can shaemlessly admit/tell you that a great deal of my summer off was running away from the doubt that was chasing me. I needed a break.   For a month I didn't sew....not a thing and I didn't even think about it.  The thing that has always been my joy and refuge became my nemesis.  I took the cowards way out .   Yes, I was a chicken and was walking away, no pulling up of big girl panties or getting back on the horse, I just turned away from what I love because I was afraid of failing even more. You could say I wallowed a bit, in the muck and doubt. Hiding and wallowing, never attractive and never will those things get you where you want to be.   

Somewhere in the depths .... as always happens with me, after a month of hiding I began to hear the voice  that says  "Don't be a jerk, get up, DO SOMETHING" , the voice that won't be quiet was speaking again ...I ignored it a bit longer, like a couple of weeks longer. But it's a persistent kind of voice, and will not be silenced. I ignored it because I wasn't quite ready to face the possibility that everyone was right and I'm not succeeding and never will, chicken to even find out, chicken to admit I still cared.  Afraid of possibility that nobody would like what I was doing even if I did my best, it might not be good enough. Afraid of the voices telling me to quit and afraid they were right. Afraid to have people walk by again without looking at  my stuff. Afraid to put myself out there.

 HOWEVER, I am not that girl, the one who listens to the negative voices or gives in to fear. Because this is my story, I didn't want it to be a story of "I tried and just quit".   I'm the girl who bends rules and does things her own way. I am a girl who does things the way I do because I believe in myself.  I'm the girl who falls down 7 times and stands up 8.  I'm the girl who can't sleep with a brain full of ideas and visions. I'm the girl who is always positive , who trusts my gut and instincts and follows them to the end of everything.  I'm the girl who started with a stack of old sheets and a basket of yarn and created a business and I'm the girl in charge of all this, not a quitter.  I am a tangled wildflower kind of girl whogrows where she shouldn't and shows up over and over again because I believe in the truth of my passions. Tell me I can't and I will do it just to prove that I can... It just took me a bit to remember that and pull myself out of the muck which it turns out wasn't so neck deep after all...I was just standing in a shallow puddle and all I had to do was take a step, a teeny step but one taken with conviction and intention.  I just needed to want to try and the moment I took that step back into my world, I was free again.  Unfettered, unraveled and unstuck.

Do Something... probably the best advice/reminder ever given ( a big shout out to my friend for the butt kicking) , so good I wrote it on my wrist where I would see it as I sewed and worked. Turn up the music, dust off the work table and get back to it.  Just start with anything,  just start.  I was able to post some new things yesterday and to my delight, there wasn't the sound of crickets in response, to my great delight, everything I made found a home.  It feels super good to be unstuck, to make a plan and again have a purpose.  To remember who I am and what makes my heart beat a little faster.  Indeed I still need days off and it's still summer so the pace will be slow to spend time with my boys, but, all the failure and all the negative voices are not welcome here and have enthusiastically replaced by the mantra of Do Something.  Because that something will inevitably lead you to something else and before you know it you are back home where you belong.   Doing what you love in peace and truth, no more chicken  run away from a little challenge kind of behavior...... I'm back at work, watch out world....... 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

In defense of selfies

    I have a confession..... I take selfies and not just one or two but more than I should admit. And to the horror of my teenage children, I post them on Facebook and Instagram.   But truly I think selfies are getting a bad rap and I would like to throw out a bit of perspective.   
    I am a mom  to 5 wonderful people between the ages of 13 and 33. I spent their baby and younger years asking them to "Look at Mom" so I could capture moments with my little cameras.  I would then throw the film rolls in a drawer/take the rolls to be developed and when the envelope of new pictures came home, I was nowhere to be seen.  All those photos of my children as they rambled through life. But.....rarely are there pictures of me with my kids or family.  Or me at all  because as the mom, I was the taker of the pictures.  And this is how it was until the smart phone with a reversible camera came into existence and the selfie was born.
    I admit that I like documenting not only the life and events of people I love, but, I like documenting the fact that I am here too.   
   Decades slipped by and I have little photographic evidence that I was around but thanks to smart phones, social media and selfies. that has changed and I'm not sorry.  It's okay to be the one who take the picture that says "I am here... this is me"....A selfie allows us to do just that.  So celebrate your good hair days, share your new shirt you love and capture yourself doing what you love with who you love. And if by chance it embarrasses your kids just a little bit....even better. 

<3 Barbara

p.s. if you want to follow my Instagram and see my world and work I am at @Thewildflower57

Friday, July 11, 2014

Knitting, avoidance and healing

   Some days, all I want to do is knit.  I crave the calm, meditative, mind managing peace that comes with the repetitive motions.  I love the way the yarn pulls through my fingers.  I love the colors, the softness and the gentle click of my wooden needles.
   This last year, I found that life had thrown some big rough things in my way.  I picked them up, carried them along and as also happens, I broke down a bit from the load.  But this is a story of goodness, peace, the gift of clarity and fresh starts that come only after carrying the biggest of rough loads.  The kind of goodness where  you learn that you actually get to make a  choice as  how you deal with the loads.  I had spent much too long  being really pissed off and sad and seeing the world through a whole lot of struggle. Clearly not the best approach at all.
    Summer got here right after I did a big vintage show which I did right after I had barely begun to shake off my pissedoffness and I would say that I just hadn't gotten my feet under me in many many months.  I came to understand   be told in no uncertain terms by my children that I needed to slow it down and when I say "it", I mean everything. They wanted me to pay attention to them and NOW, not when I get the next project finished.
    My youngest sons are both in high school, the oldest is a senior, halfway out the door and they both simply asked if I could just not always be in the middle of rushing or attending to my projects and business.  They asked to not have my business take over our home and every moment I was awake.  They were asking me  to be present and interested in them.  At first I had loads of reasons why I filled my days and mind with everything else; I vigorously defended my parenting style, my intentions and time management.  I proclaimed that I was doing "my best"; that was proven the fact that I attended and participated in everything for their football and events.  But, I can admit it  now,  I wasn't fully present in heart and mind when we were at home.  I was avoiding the mess I had made in our house, the mess I had made of managing my time with them and the fact that I missed knowing more of who they are.  They were more upfront and honest than I was in saying that they just wanted me around, really around. I was hiding behind my "business" as if that was a good reason to be so distracted from life. I was failing in the finding of balance. 
     So.... for the first time in as long as I can remember, I  put away the sewing machine, started moving fabrics out of every nook and cranny of our small home, put things into the shelves in the garage and stopped spending every moment either at the computer or the sewing machine. I just stopped it all.  I started hanging out, working with them to clean bathrooms, clear up piles of outgrown clothes and toss out what we don't need that is cluttering our living space.  We are doing this together.  I am working to give them back our home and give them back my attention. I will be ready soon  to check back in to my business, the sewing machine is calling my name and I've missed it but I've learned a great deal by getting a bit more present.   
   I call it Summer Girl Life, my slow quiet summer way of being.  Taking back the notion that life even quiet and noneventful at times is of value. It's not a flashy "look at me" life that I see on Instagram, (its hard to not compare, I admit I am competitive)  its more about small moments, time to listen to Jack tell a ridiculous joke, or watch World Cup Soccer with Hank because he wants me to be there with him.  I've read a book and watched movies in the cool  house instead of finding something more "important" to do.  We were gifted a sweet pool; we have floated, talked and ran in circles to make a whirlpool that sweeps us around the edge of the water like a carnival ride. There have been days when nothing much happens at all except hanging out and making big bowls of macaroni and cheese.  And I've been knitting and immersing myself in the calm meditative, mind managing peace found in the knits and purls of many hats. .  I needed to forget the big rough loads that came into the path and how heavy they were to haul around.  They needed me to just be here now.   There has been no greater gift  than a summer spent  just having a summer. And knitting hats. Lots and lots of hats.  

<3 Barbara

Thursday, July 10, 2014

So this is my blog.....

   So hey.....I've been scaredtodeath excited to write this blog for a long time. I honestly have no idea what I am doing here but it's going to be fun(if you like pushing yourself off a cliff into the unknown kind of fun).   I'm hoping you hang in with me while I learn, improve and polish up this blog. It's a mix of regular life, insights and thoughts and of course the stuff I make. 
  I tend to be a little random and scattered, it's my nature and often my brain has been called the drunken squirrel party by people who love me.  And that is the truth of it, so many things roll around at the same time and it's hard to nail me down or explain why I do what I do. I do know that for as long as I can remember I have loved to make things from other things. Specifically fabric and yarn things. When I was supposed to be picking a college to attend and a major when asked what I wanted to do, I told my high school counselor "I want to make things"...she told me it wasn't a job. So I tried some other things but always at the heart of it was my desire and need to make things. 
   So this is my first post, I thought it would be much more perfect and sensational, I've certainly thought about it all for a very long time but when it comes right down to it, I'm not a perfect or sensational kind of girl. I 'm a little ragged and tattered. And always barefoot. Hence the name of my blog.  I am so very very happy you are here with me, and the drunken squirrels. 

<3 Barbara

P.S.  please follow me on Facebook at
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