You Gave Me Your Heart

Each year Father’s Day comes around. And each year since my Dad passed away I think about how much I have grown, how much my life has changed, and how much my heart has shaped me into the person I am today.  I think about all the things I have done since he has passed and it seems I have lived a lifetime without him.  But then again it feels like he has been there every step of the way.  And he has been there with me…in my heart.  You see my Dad gave me his heart: his big, strong, passionate heart is the same heart that beats inside me.  There was never a moment when he was still living that I doubted he loved me.  Every night he would say goodnight and tell me he loved me, even through high school.  Every time we said goodbye, he’d say, “Love ya!”.

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I was never that girl who got her heart broken by boys in school.  Honestly, I never really had time for them or cared to have a boyfriend.  During my school years, I just couldn’t find the boy I wanted to give my heart to because it already belonged to someone else…my Dad.  He was the only man I needed in my life.  He never disappointed me.  He was a role model on how to love.  He loved my mother so very much, and I alway knew I wanted, no needed, to find a love like that.  He helped me create the expectations of the man I needed to give my heart to.  And I always knew it was going to take a while to find that man.

Mom & Dad '80 and '08

Left: My parents as an engaged couple. Right: My happily married parents dancing at my cousin’s wedding.

Pops and I dancing at Garard wedding

He was my first dancing partner.

Pops and I eating oreos

He taught me how to eat Oreos.

Pop looking down on me

He’s always looked after me. Now he does from a higher view.

It wasn’t until I was 19 that my heart was broken for the first time.  On November 27, 2009, my Dad broke my heart.  I couldn’t believe that he was the one to first break my heart. But then I had to understand he answered God’s call to go home to heaven. Although I was heartbroken, it didn’t last long.  You see, something else happened on that November night.  As I was at the scene of his accident, I overheard my mom say, “What are we going to do about Sarah?”.  Everyone was so worried how I would be after he died because I was very close to him.  After I heard her say those words, it was like someone had picked me up and wrapped my heart with assurance that I would be just fine.  And I know who did that act I needed so much right then and there.  It was my Dad healing the heart he had just broken.

My Father and I

But my heart didn’t heal overnight.  Over the course of these six-and-a-half years, I have pieced together my heart with the help of my friends, family, God, and my Dad. I am happy to say that now my heart is healed.  I know my Dad didn’t mean to break it, and I am the person I am today because of my once broken heart.  I am also so grateful for the people who have helped me heal it.  I pray that it will never break into those many pieces again, but that’s “just part of it,” as my Dad would say.  Part of this thing called life is about all the pieces it takes to make it a great one.  And I know that he is so very happy that my heart is healed and how I have given it to a man that far exceeds his and my expectations, the Fish Farmer.  Now, I am looking forward to everything my healed heart has to give in the years to come.

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Me and the Fish Farmer who has my heart.

To sum it up, my heart is full this Father’s Day, and I wish all those Fathers out there a day of heart felt wishes and a blessed day.  To my readers, thank you for giving me an outlet to share stories of my Dad and the story of my once broken and now healed heart.  To my Pops, thank you for giving me your heart.

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Celebrate the Women of Agriculture

By Katie Thomas Glick and Sarah Thomas

The following was written by my sister, Katie and I and was featured in our local newspaper.

Many things change over the course of a year and even a decade; kids grow taller, the wise gain more wrinkles, we celebrate new life and praise lives as they depart this earth. However, some things never change, like the core values of agriculture. It’s been the same for centuries. As our first President, George Washington, once said, “Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man”.

Sure there have been significant changes and positive strides in the way we raise our animals, produce a crop and care for our land but the values are the same. Farmers produce more with less land, less water, and less environmental impact. But the core premise of agriculture has been a mainstay and tradition forever–work hard with integrity, provide for your family, grow a good crop and trust God knows what he is doing (especially with the weather).

Farmers work hard with their worn hands and calluses that stay with them for a lifetime. They rise before the sun and many times don’t come home until the moon is high in the sky. As kids, we liked to sleep in but our dad would come in and say, “girls, you’re burnin’ daylight”. He, as a farmer, was always ready to get up and take on the day. Working hard and long hours has always been a part of farming.

As farm girls one thing we have learned is that on the 8th day God created the farmer, but on the 9th he created the farm girl, the farm wife and the farm mom. While our mom didn’t grow up on a farm, the values she taught us alongside our dad were the same–work hard with integrity, provide for your family, grow a good crop and trust God knows what he is doing. As a young girl she wanted to own a piece of farmland just as much as our dad, and she eventually got the chance to do so.

This month we dedicate and celebrate not only the farmer but the women on the farm. We know they may not be the face of the farm or at the forefront of decisions or farm chores. However, they do need to be appreciated for raising the farm kids, caring for the farmer, doing chores when needed, caring for a baby calf in her house, running errands in town, and feeding the family. She is the woman who realizes her floors will never be clean and the laundry will never end. She needs to be thanked for working with her children on their 4-H projects last minute, running kids to club meetings, and for buying their 4-H showing outfits while she watches them work hard with the integrity she taught them.

As we celebrate Agriculture Appreciation Month this March and National Ag Day on March 15th, we encourage you to learn something new about agriculture or reach out to those working in agriculture. And as you are eating each meal, thank a farmer and pray for the farm women who also sacrificed to bring food to your table.

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Katie and I with our mom, Mary Lou in the mountains of Colorado at my sister’s wedding.

Celebrate National Ag Month With Us

This month is National Agriculture Month.  With spring right around the corner, March is a perfect month to plant seeds and share the story of agriculture with people.  My sister, Katie and I are passionate about working together to share and educate others about the work farmers and ranchers do for us.

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We loved visiting the sunflower fields with Dad. To this day they are my favorite flower.

Katherine, (that’s what I call her) recently started her own blog, Fancy in the Country where she shares stories about being a farmer’s wife and her life of all things fancy and country.  She also uses her blog as an outlet to share her passion of agriculture.  I started my blog for similar reasons, but the thing I love most about our blogs is they share stories about our father.  The first farmer we knew and loved.  That passion we use and share so immensely in our writing came from him.  He taught us to do things with passion or not at all.  He taught Katherine first and then me.  Now that he is no longer with us, I look to her for this guidance.  Boy she does a fantastic job filling his shoes!

My sister is the most passionate person I know.  I am so lucky and blessed that I get to do this thing called life with her.  I also love that within the past year we have combined our writing skills, thoughts, expertise, and ideas to produce some of the work we share on our blogs.  Looking back I think it’s ironic that the first piece we wrote together was the eulogy we read at our father’s funeral over 5 years ago.  I like to think of it as Dad’s way of making us work together and to discover we have a way with our words when they are written together.  I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us as we continue to work together in sharing our passion for agriculture.

To sum it up, I ask you to celebrate National Agriculture Month with us!  Mark your calendars for Ag Day on March 18th and stay tuned for more from the Thomas Sisters!

A Generous and Giving Breed

By Katie Thomas Glick and Sarah Thomas

It was a chilly December Saturday on the farm. The barn lot was covered with snow and filled with several semis, but our family didn’t own all of them.  So, why were there so many semis parked in the snow covered barn lot? While many of you were listening to Christmas music and finishing up your shopping, our family was trying to finish harvest.  Yes, just because the seasons according to the weather change does not mean they have changed for the farmer.  Only a few of those semis belonged to our family, the others belonged to different farmers. Farmers who were so generous to give up their time and help our family.  This year was a bountiful harvest (the largest in our state’s history), but it was a wet harvest. We needed more space to store the corn and soybeans we grow in our grain bins. These farmers came with their semis to load and haul away grain so our family could have room to store our grain in the bins.

Semis that belong to our fellow farmer friends that came to help us back in December.

Semis that belong to our fellow farmer friends that came to help us back in December.

That day was also a familiar scene. The barn lot was full of other farmers’ semis over five years ago, the day after our father’s funeral. Some of our farmer friends came out to the farm with their semis to help take loads to a grain elevator and give a beautiful tribute to our father. It was amazing to see our farming community come together when one of their own needed help. That’s what farmers do.  They give help when it’s needed. They are a generous breed.

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Semis lined up in our barn lot the day after our Father’s funeral, November 28, 2009, as tribute to his life and work on our family farm.

 Farmers are also dreamers and gamblers.  They dream for a perfect year that brings perfect weather that will help yield the perfect crop.  But they know that the perfect year will never come, and yet they still take that gamble.  Farmers know that there can never be a perfect year because there is always different types of circumstances that get in the way.  Whether those circumstances are the weather, a death of a local farmer or the fluctuating markets, they will continue to make that gamble and strive for the perfect harvest.  And when these circumstances begin to slow them down, others from their breed come with helping hands, and in our case, a semi too.

 They give so much of their time to their farm and their lives to the land while every season brings new challenges but new opportunities.

 Farmers live and die by seasons, and they learn to appreciate each one of them.   All four bring their positives and negatives.  Spring brings warm weather to melt the snow and warm up the ground where the farmers plant their seeds and begin again.  They pray that a late frost doesn’t coat their crops and that rain doesn’t flood and wash them away.  Farmers’ prayers in the summer include timely rain in June and July for the corn and in August for the soybeans.  And it shouldn’t include heat and dry weather that lasts weeks on end.  The harvest prayer is for safety in the fields, on the roads and at the farm.  Winter is a time to plan for the spring planting season, rest up a little and spend time with fellow farmers at meetings learning about new farm practices or how to make our farms better for our families and all those we feed.

 We aren’t saying that farmers work harder or give back more than other professions.  Well, we might be a little biased especially during some of God’s seasons like spring and fall.  What we are saying is that they appreciate the seasons and care for the earth they are given and the people they provide for.  We were fortunate to learn that lesson on our family farm and hope to share it with others.

The year our father passed was also a late harvest.  At times we watched snowflakes coat the corncobs that were left standing in the field.  But they weren’t there long thanks to the farmers who came to help with our harvest.  We are forever grateful for your friendship, commitment to agriculture and your hard working, caring hands. You are a generous and giving breed.

Summing It Up: II

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I haven’t had much time for writing. Well that isn’t true, I have been writing everyday. Turns out I got a teaching job as a writing teacher! So, not only am I writing everyday, but I am talking about writing all the time too.

I am a kindergarten, first, and second grade writing teacher at an elementary school in my home county. It is the perfect fit for me. I am enjoying and learning so much as a first year teacher. I knew this time wasn’t going to be easy, but I am constantly seeing the rewards and blessings from all the work. Teaching is quite rewarding. I am glad I didn’t give up my  dream of teaching and having my own classroom.

As a writing teacher I am teaching my young writers all about the writing process and what writers write about. I am so busy trying to get them to write and find ideas to write about that I have put my own writing on the back burner. Then I did a lesson about how writers can write anywhere and about anything. So, I decided I better get back to it. I need to practice what I teach. Here is a part II to a similar post I did “Summing It Up.”

Making: lots of lesson plans for my kindergarten, first, and second grade students
Cooking: nothing. Still working on getting the motivation to do this
Drinking: black coffee
Reading: over my lesson plans and state standards
Wanting: more time in the day
Looking: still looking for that road less traveled
Playing: lots of Red Dirt music
Wasting: thoughts and ideas not written
Sewing: knowledge into my students
Wishing: all my favorite people were in the same place
Enjoying: the changing leaves
Praying: for a safe harvest season
Liking: how things do workout for the better
Wondering: what the next chapter will be
Loving: my new teaching job, my students, staff and the community my school is in
Hoping: the weather stays nice so farmers can stay in the fields
Marveling: at these pictures I took a couple of weeks ago in Kansas
Needing: a good book to read. Suggestions are always welcomed!
Smelling: the beautiful fall days
Wearing: boots. Boot season is finally here!
Following: still trying to follow God’s plan
Noticing: people and times are changing
Knowing: I am blessed beyond measure
Thinking: I need to head west again very soon
Opening: new chapters in my life
Giggling: at all the funny things my students say and/or write to me
Feeling: still just dandy

To sum it up, stay tuned for much more writing! Have a fabulous fall day!

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Lessons On How to Eat an Oreo

My Dad loved Oreos. We ALWAYS had them in this jar labeled, “Munchies” because that’s exactly what he would do after dinner. He would munch on a couple of Oreos or a couple spoonfuls of apple sauce. It was weird but it gave him his sweet tooth fix I guess.

This is one of my all time favorite pictures of my Dad and me. I don’t know why because it goes to show even at a young age I was a messy eater. But Dad was always right there beside me so I could use his shirt sleeve to clean my face off. I blame that act on why I seem to always forget to grab a napkin when I sit down to eat. But I love how he is right there beside me, bent down to where it looks like he is telling me something. I am sure he was just sharing with me lessons on how to eat an Oreo. But then I bet he got tired of telling me how to do it, so instead he showed me.

Dad was always right there beside me if or when I needed him. He was there in all his silent yet very much known presence.

Dad was never critical of my mistakes or decisions. He never really told me what to do. He SHOWED me what to do.

The man was ALWAYS on the go and you just had to learn to keep up if you wanted to learn anything from him at all.

He was a role model in the truest sense.

He modeled how you should care for yourself, and for others.

Whether it was working all day long at the farm, Sunday nights, rainy or snowy days the man never could sit still for long. I remember during the winter months when there wasn’t much physical labor for him to do on the farm, he would go down to the basement and jump rope. Jump rope for what seemed like FOR-E-V-ER (read that in the voice from that kid on The Sandlot). And I could never get out of that jump rope session, especially during basketball or volleyball seasons.

“You need quick feet Sarah,” he’d say as I counted my jumps and he’d take a seat on the couch after he was done with his jumps and change the channel to AMC or TCM to find an old classic movie to watch. I remember asking if I should stop so I wouldn’t be in his view of John Wayne or Gary Cooper.

But no worries I was never in his way because he’d say, “Oh, you have quick feet now?”

So I would say nothing to him but start my new count of jumps.

Now that I am telling this story I should probably go pull out a jump rope and work on my “quick feet.”

He also showed me how to be strong…..

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And he showed me how to have a sense of humor.

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The thing that I took away most from my role model was how to treat people.

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He had such a way with people. Through his actions you could tell that he really did care about his friends, family and even strangers.

After he passed away, some of my closest friends and I were sitting in the basement drinking some Miller Lites and looking at pictures. One of the boys said, “You know when he asked you how you were, he was really asking because he wanted to know. And he’d listen.”

I remember sitting there hearing that statement and thinking, “man my Dad really cared about him and he knew Dad did too.”

The man was a great friend to have. He was there if you needed help or if you just wanted to have a good time.

He had friends of ALL ages. He could go to dinner with the camping group, otherwise known as “The Village”, but end his night hanging out with my sister, me and our closest friends. He was old and young all at the same time.

He loved going to Purdue Football games and meeting up with his college roommates.

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He loved going camping and to the Elks with the men from The Village.

He loved taking me to volleyball practice and starting a game of horse with some poor girl’s bored brother on an empty court.

He loved working along side his first friends, his big and little brothers on the farm.

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He loved sitting around a fire with my sister and her friends drinking Miller Lite and jumping over badminton nets with the boys just to show them he’s still got it.

He just loved being around people.

You want to know how I know he loved all these things? Because he showed up, asked how they were or how he could help. He SHOWED up.

My Father and I

To sum it up, thanks Pops for showing me how to eat those Oreos and so much more.

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Read more lessons from my Dad here and happy Father’s Day to all those dads out there!

Where’s the Farmer without the Farmer’s Wife?

With this week being National Agriculture Week I want to continue sharing the story of American agriculture. While I love AGvocating for America’s farmers, I cannot forget to thank the women who stand next to them, the farmer’s wife. The three most important women in my life are farmer’s wives. My grandmother was a farmer’s wife for 37 years, and my mother was one for 28 years until the day God made the call to take their Farmers to their heavenly home. My sister became a farmer’s wife just last year and many of my closest family friends are farmer’s wives. Through their examples I know exactly the kind of wife and woman I want to be.
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So, today I celebrate the women who stand next to and support the hands that feed us, the Farmer’s Wife. To sum it up, thank you for being farmers too.

Below is a poem inspired by Paul Harvey’s, “So God Made a Farmer,” written by Sierra Shea.
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To My Valentine…

I promise this is not going to be one of those posts confessing how much I hate Valentine’s Day. I am single. Does this mean I hate Valentine’s Day? If you asked me this question on Monday I would have shouted, “HATE IT!” But, for some reason I have had a change of heart (no pun intended here). As I started thinking about this holiday where people pour out their love, I thought well goodness I have a lot of love to pour too…

I have a love for:

1. Homemade salsa. Favorite snack EVER!!!!!!!!

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2. Cowboy boots. I love every single pair for a different reason. And I will continue to add to my collection.

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3. Stationary. I should not be unsupervised in this section at T.J. Maxx.

4. Children’s books. So much so, that I hope to write my own down the road.

5. Sitting on my front porch. Rain or shine.

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6. Indiana. My flyover state is pretty great.

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7. Westerns. Yep, my favorite actor is John Wayne.

8. Speaking of John…Wooden definitely makes my list. The coach, man, teacher, that I gain many of my “words to live by.”

9. The wonderful ladies in my life. Each one is so special to me.

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10. Campfires. I don’t even care if it makes my hair smell. Give me a fire under the stars and it’s my perfect night.

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11. Beef. I have to have this protein in my diet.

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12. The man who raised me and who continues to help shape the person I am. He always looked after me. Now he does it from a higher view.

He's always looked after me. Now he does from a higher view.

My Father and I

13. Speaking of higher views, my dad has some help sitting next to my heavenly Father. Thank you both for doing your jobs so well.

14. And of course I cannot forget about Farmers. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be able to love half the things on my list.

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There it is, my love poured out for you. So who is my valentine? Well it’s everything on the list above and so much more. To sum it up, my valentine is me and the things that remind me to love this life.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

I love that you are reading my blog.

There’s Just Somethin’ Bout a Farmer

For the past couple of months a certain story keeps popping up in my newsfeed on my social media accounts. It’s a story of a fallen Farmer from Illinois. I’ve read it and every time I see this story I’m reminded of a similar story. The story of my own fallen Farmer. The stories are not the same, they never are. But one similarity they do share is the word, “farmer.”

When I go visit my dear friends in Greens Fork, Indiana, one of my homes away from home, the story of my fallen Farmer always comes up in conversation. It especially comes up when I am talking to the mom in this family. She has a story of her own fallen Farmer. She, like me, will always be a Farmer’s daughter. I feel so comfortable talking to her about my Dad and I think she feels the same about hers. Every single time we talk about them she says, “You know Sarah, there’s just somethin’ bout a Farmer,” and she stops there. Neither one of us finishes the sentence. We sit there in silence. Both of us finishing the sentence in our own way. We say the words about ours Dads that are too hard to say out loud, we see the memories we made with them, we hear their voice. We take a moment of silence to remember our Farmers. We take a moment to be thankful for them.

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As you sit down tomorrow to give thanks for the many blessings in your life, take a moment of silence to remember those that are no longer on this earth with us. Take a moment to be thankful for them. Especially those Farmers, well to sum it up, there’s just somethin’ bout them.

Weddings, Weddings, Weddings!

For the past two months my weekends have been consumed with weddings. I attended these weddings as a bridesmaid, a friend, and a sister. Each one was so beautiful in its own way and I had such a good time at all of them!

I was a bridesmaid in my dear friend, Courtney’s wedding. While I did have my bridesmaid duties at this wedding, I also didn’t know many people so I got to spend pretty much the whole night on the dance floor. It was a blast and both of their families made feel like one of their own. After the wedding and honeymoon my dear friend joined her husband, Kevin in North Carolina. I miss her so much but thank goodness for SnapChat!! Courtney and I send snaps throughout our days to keep each other informed of what life looks like these days. I can’t wait to go visit them!!

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The next weekend I celebrated my sister, Katie’s marriage. She and Brett got hitched out in Colorado with a beautiful mountain backdrop. Just close family was in attendance and it was the most intimate and emotional wedding I’ve ever been to. After the ceremony I told Katie and Brett that I loved that they chose to have the ceremony there in the mountains because we were closer to heaven, we were closer to our dads. But, the weekend in September was a time to celebrate their marriage with their friends and family. It was on my sister’s new family’s farm under the most beautiful fall sky between the cornfields.

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I had a little break from weddings the weekend after that. I headed up to Boilermaker country for homecoming festivities and when I say festivities I mean Harry’s. That’s the only place my sister and friends went and of course we had a blast.

The first weekend of October my sister and I headed west to Kansas. My blonde sister friend, Lindsay married a Kansas boy back in August in Indiana. That October weekend was a celebration of their marriage on Cody’s family’s ranch. My sister and I had a great time road trippin’, talking about our lives, agriculture, our beliefs, our outlook on the future and jamming out to our favorite songs. We also learned our lesson to stop and fill up our gas tank before getting off the turnpike. That was probably the most nervous I have ever seen my sister. So, now we know that there are no gas stations between the turnpike and Council Grove, Kansas. Speaking of Council Grove, Kansas, such a neat town that I can’t wait to visit again! And I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Lindsay and Cody!20131024-173552.jpg

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The weekend after the Kansas road trip my other blonde sister friend, Amy married my best friend Liz’s big brother Marc. I remember when these two started dating back when I was in elementary school. It was such a joy to see these two tie the knot, finally. Amy has done my hair and makeup for every school dance I have attended, spent many a nights with me in my mom’s basement, been there for me through all the laughter and tears my life has brought me. She is without a doubt my sister and has become my mentor as I start my teaching career. Amy and Marc are both pretty much family and I couldn’t be more happy for them as they start a new life chapter.

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Speaking of new life chapters, I have started a new one as well. I have a teaching job. While it is only temporary (I am teaching for someone while they are on maternity leave) it is a job and more experience. I am so grateful for this opportunity and hope that it will lead to something else.

Now that I am on fall break I’ve had time for myself again. Wednesday night one of my favorite bands was in state. The Josh Abbott Band is from Texas and I am so glad they came to Indiana! I got to meet them and of course I thanked them for coming to Indiana about twenty-five times…embarrassing! But it was a great show and a great night with some of my favorite people.

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I know that it’s been a bit since I posted last, but to sum it up I’ve been busy.

Thanks for reading and catching up on my life. Have you been busy like me?