Trust Not The Theater of The Mind

Learning how to relax and be calm is one of the best ways to find peace in your life. By Madeline Johnson

It happens to all of us. We get caught up in our own drama. Most of the time we are doing one thing, but thinking about another. We are driving the car but thinking about how we have to work over the weekend. We are making dinner but fighting with our ex about how it was their fault. We are meeting with a friend over cocktails but were wondering if were going to meet “the one” tonight.

We are every where but here and the last thing we are is relaxed in our own skin.

We aren’t calm, centered and balanced. Every time we get caught up in the frenzy and fantasy, the theater of our mind, we abort ourselves from reality.

And like any good theater production, the dialogue around drama in our mind is powerful.

There aren’t many peaceful, calm moments in our mind, but we all yearn for them.

Evidently, the search engine query “How to be calm all the time” is a very popular one.  Now why would that be?

It turns out one of the biggest stressors is lack of money. Yes, money is the biggest source of stress for Americans, research shows. Indeed, a survey by Northwestern Mutual found that money was the dominant source of stress for 44% of Americans, followed by the 25% who said personal relationships, and just 18% blaming work. And data from the American Psychological Association also shows that money is the No. 1 stressor for Americans: “Regardless of the economic climate, money and finances have remained the top stressor since our survey began in 2007,” the results revealed.

We all know what stress can do to us. Read more about how chronic stress can debilitate your life, and is the main cause of chronic health conditions and addictions here.

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It seems that so many people are seeking that sense of peace throughout their day, including myself.

We want that feeling that everything is okay, I can take care of it all and I can stay confident, balanced, and chill while I am doing it.  We are all looking for ways to be calm in all sorts of situations. Search engine queries around staying calm and centered also include. . .

How to be calm during an interview.

How to be calm at work.

How to be calm and collected.

How to be calm during a presentation.

How to be calm before a test.

How to be calm and assertive.

How to be calm before surgery.

We are all looking for just a beautiful sense of centered peace and being. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has some very good advice about how to stay calm. Read here.

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Featured Artist

Alia Josephine Fawaz on Instagram @goastray_stayaskew

 

Clarity About Your Contribution

I believe if we can share what we have learned along the way, we might be able shed light on the dark edges of the path for others. By Madeline Johnson

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.  

-Anne Frank

I keep telling myself, “you can’t do everything, but you can do something.”  My issue, is scattered energy. I struggle with staying focused and seeing things through. I start, I stop and I keep bouncing around from one great idea to another. Everything and nothing excites me all at once.

It’s probably why I am reading Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul for the third time. The only thing I can do is laugh at myself. Such a beautiful mess.

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Seeking More Clarity About My Contribution

So, of course I was inspired by Jordan Bach today. Yet another one of you on the world wide web sharing wisdom and inspiration. I am in awe.

Jordan encourages his community to petition God, the Universe, their Higher Power for more clarity about their contribution to the world.  What is it that you want me to do with these gifts I am not sure I actually have?

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Jordan guides us to believe that only loving thoughts are true.  The rest of your fear-based spin outs, that “negative thinking” thing we all do – the “doubting thing” that is  simply false and harmful?

We must remember no amount of negativity will serve us well at all.

To Be Such A Beautiful Mess

We are all human, and to be human is a very complex way to be. Most of our lives are messy.  Some of us have created a more beautiful mess than others, but a mess just the same.

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The question is, as you become more centered and grounded, as you get closer to what your unique contribution looks and feels like – are you going to share your mess or are you going to share your message?

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Are you sharing the grace and illumination you have received from the pain you have suffered?  This, I believe is a hint, a God wink, to where your contribution might reside.

I believe if we can share what we have learned along the way, we might be able shed light on the dark edges of the path for others.

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Inspiration

Wisdom of the Oracle cards

Jordan Bach

 

Featured Artist

Irina Silviu

 

How Much Good Can You Do In The World?

Do what you can to make things better. Find out how much good you can do in the world. By Madeline Johnson

Not my words, but definitely a great notion and something I believe is worth asking yourself.

This idea, that we have the capability to make things better with what we have is inspired by professor and clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson author of 12 Rules for Life.

His wisest advice –

Learn what you need to learn to become wise and work for the betterment of being.

Do what you can to make things better. Find out how much good you can do in the world.

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Do it in a forthright, courageous, noble, eyes-wide open, articulate and embodied manner.

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How to bake better into your every day beingness.

Not sure where to begin?  I like what Brianna Wiest recommends. . .

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Recommended Reading

101 Essays to Change The Way You Think by Brianna Wiest

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson

Maps of Meaning by Jordan B. Peterson

The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton

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Featured Artwork

Borda D. Adrian is a surreal painter and lives in Reghin, Romania. He is an inner traveler, exploring the mysterious and extremely complex subconscious world. In his real life as well as in his art, I don’t care about conventions and the taboos, there are no sacred memes that cannot be touched. His paintings are deep meditations full of symbols about life and our most intimate tendencies and reactions…not necessarily to create something most people like, but to open a window to haunting images impossible to forget.

Energetically in Alignment

How we can better learn and absorb the things we need to know and do to get to a better place in our lives. A place that is true to our hearts. A place where we feel authentic and true. by Madeline Johnson

If you are like most of us, you love a good short cut, a sweet hack.  You don’t have time to read, study, learn. No, you don’t want to get the book or take the course. You just want me to tell you what to do. “Give me the damn advice” you say. Whats the take away? What do I need to know? How do I do it?

Today I was thinking about how we can better learn and absorb the things we need to know and do to get to a better place in our lives. A place that is true to our hearts. A place where we feel authentic and true.  Where we are not fragmented.

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Okay, so there’s an important directive in yoga to help you benefit the most from each posture and to keep you from injuring yourself.  The advice is “Alignment before depth”.

Most good yoga teachers will remind you over and over again, alignment before depth, because if you don’t get the alignment correct first, you will never get the full benefits from the pose. This is really important for people who like to rush through things, those who try to hack their development.

Yoga is not for the impatient. Some postures can take up to ten years to master.

Understanding that your posture must be in perfect alignment before you can go deeper into any pose, you understand that getting ahead of yourself is a complete waste of time.

So you scan your body in the mirror and run through the alignment checklist. Arms straight?  elbows locked? core engaged? and so forth.

I argue that if we want to better our lives, we should strive to energetically align ourselves first. We might follow this same yoga rule in our everyday moments.

There are benefits to aligning our minds with our hearts and our bodies before we get involved in anything or with anyone.  Yes, before making any more decisions, we might take a moment to meditate on whether or not our mind, heart and body is in alignment, in agreement, before we choose to do something or be with someone. Why?

Because without having our whole being in agreement (mind, body and heart & soul) we tend to make bad choices and even worse decisions.

How to begin aligning your heart with your mind and your body.

When your head, heart and body are in alignment, when everything is in agreement and when every part of you is saying yes, yes this is a good decision, you know you are on the right path.

You aren’t fragmented, full of doubt or feeling uncertain. Every part of your body and mind is connected.

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But we can’t get in alignment if we are one big stress ball of angst. So let’s get started with setting up the ideal conditions for energetic alignment.

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Let’s start with how to align our spine, to strengthen our body. Here are four simple exercises to improve your nerd neck and straighten your posture.

Now, a check in with the heart.  Feeling numb? Building your emotional intelligence will help to resolve this issue.  Stop disassociating, denying and disowning your emotions, they serve a purpose. Watch How to Feel Your Emotions

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1. Get in the right mindset

Soothing and calming the mind to reduce stress and to think from a more relaxed state is key to aligning your mind, body and heart. If your mind is scattered, you won’t be able to connect with anything else.

Thinking Mind vs Observing Mind

Most of our psychological and emotional stress happens because our Thinking Mind and Observing Mind are “fused” and we don’t recognize the difference.

Separating your Observing Mind from your Thinking Mind is a habit that takes practice. But once you begin to do it, you’ll feel yourself becoming less and less of a slave to your thoughts and your emotions. You’ll take more control of your internal daily life and feel better about it.

Read the full article Mark Manson’s Your Two Minds

Drain your brain of unnecessary thoughts and empty your mind with a ten minute meditation with Headspace. Do this daily.

Go deep. Read The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer

2. Soften & Strengthen Your Heart

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You can’t hear your heart if it’s pumping wild with anxiety.  Listen to Tara Brach’s Guided Heart Meditation (34 min) for loving presence.

Read her books Radical Acceptance and True Refuge so that you can begin to learn to think and speak from the core of your being.

3. Listen and Engage Your Body

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You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t breathing. Breathing is so underrated. It’s so natural we tend to forget about it, but most of us barely breathe throughout our days. Be aware of your breath. Learn how to breathe to change your body chemistry, a wonderful demonstration from Wim Hof

Soften your neck, shoulders and remove tension from your body using acupressure.

Wake up your brain by banging the heavenly drum

Move for inspiration with this kung fu warm up

Inspired by A 7 Step Process to Align Your Body, Mind and Soul for Optimal Creativity

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Featured Art

Igor Morski

Polish graphic designer, illustrator and set designer. Presently, he focuses on mixed media graphic art, based manly on photo manipulation, drawing, recently also 3D.

 

To Be Real

Seeking wisdom and being true and real to oneself. Madeline Johnson

To be absolutely real with ourselves. Stop playing it so safe. How freeing. What a release. What a relief.  True to you. No more disjappointmenting yourself because you put your needs on the back burner.  You said yes, but you meant no. You didn’t want to hurt their feelings, so you over promised. You took that project for the money.

When we are not true to ourselves, we starve ourselves of care and respect. Integrity begins with honoring our hearts. It’s not selfish. It’s healthy and it helps us all.

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Stripped of all of our masks and desire to be needed.  To understand ourselves fully, to know more about our own existence.

Why I am seeking wisdom. 

  • Lie to myself, no more!
  • Life is tricky. People are strange. I contradict myself. Why?
  • Decisions are difficult. Which are the best ones?
  • Worry is constant. I shall remain calm.
  • This wisdom helps with clarity. Clarity is freedom.
  • I know I don’t have all the answers. We are here together for a reason. I learn from you.
  • Life moves too fast. My strong desire to slow down. Savor. Relish.

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Why I seek wisdom.

  • To be more emotionally and intellectually intelligent about myself and others.
  • Because I am realistically insecure and my experience will only take me so far. What can I learn from your experience?
  • I want to accomplish more of what is important. What is important to you might inspire me.

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Featured Artwork

Dorothea Tanning

Dorothea Tanning was born in 1910 in Galesburg, Illinois and attended Knox College in her hometown before studying painting in Chicago (haunting the Art Institute where she learned what painting was.)   In 1941, now in New York, she met the art dealer, Julien Levy, and his surrealist friends, refugees from Nazi occupied France. Late in 1942 Max Ernst visited her studio, saw a painting, (Birthday), and stayed to play chess. They would have 34 years together, at first in Sedona, Arizona (a mere outpost at the time).  Here she would continue to paint her enigmatic versions of life on the inside, looking out: The Guest RoomThe Truth About CometsEine Kleine NachtmusikInterior with Sudden JoyInsomniasPalaestraTamerlaneFar From. By 1956 Max and Dorothea had chosen to live and work thenceforth in France. Though Paris was headquarters, they preferred the country quiet lure in Touraine and Provence. These years included, for Dorothea Tanning, an intense five- year adventure in soft sculpture:  CousinsDon Juan’s BreakfastFetishRainy Day CanapéTragic TableVerbXmasEmmaRevelation or the End of the MonthHôtel du Pavot Room 202.

Start Fresh Each Day

Start each day with a beginner’s mind. By Madeline Johnson

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

Read: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

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Never become so much of an expert that you stop learning.

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Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted doesn’t mean the future can’t be better than you ever imagined.

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Start each day fresh, like it is the first day. Don’t become complacent. No resting on laurels. Past performance is not an indicator of future results. We must remember the importance of maintaining a beginner’s mind.

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Stay open to starting over. Try again with more strength, knowledge and power.

A new pattern of thoughts, wave of emotions, connection with the world and belief in yourself.

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Read

Ray Dalio’s Principles: Life & Work

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In 1975, Ray Dalio founded an investment firm, Bridgewater Associates, out of his two-bedroom apartment in New York City. Forty years later, Bridgewater has made more money for its clients than any other hedge fund in history and grown into the fifth most important private company in the United States, according to Fortune magazine. Dalio himself has been named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Along the way, Dalio discovered a set of unique principles that have led to Bridgewater’s exceptionally effective culture, which he describes as “an idea meritocracy that strives to achieve meaningful work and meaningful relationships through radical transparency.” It is these principles, and not anything special about Dalio—who grew up an ordinary kid in a middle-class Long Island neighborhood—that he believes are the reason behind his success.

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Featured Art

Fred Stonehouse

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Fred Stonehouse earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin at Madison where he now teaches. His work has been shown in numerous galleries as well as several museum group exhibitions, including recent shows internationally in Germany and Italy, and nationally at The Laguna Art Museum, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, San Jose Museum of Art, The Art Center in Wisconsin, and the Cincinnati Art Center in Ohio. He currently resides just outside Milwaukee. Stonehouse is the recipient of many prestigious awards including The Joan Mitchell Foundation award, the Wisconsin Institute of Visual Arts Lifetime Achievement Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts, Midwest Fellowship award. Fred Stonehouse has shown with KDR since 1997.

 

https://fredstonehouseart.com/#

 

What Motivates Most of Us

What really motivates us is our need to be loved and heard. By Madeline Johnson

What motivates most of us is . . .
. . .the desire to feel loved and appreciated. . .
. . .the wish to be admired and acknowledged. . .
. . .the longing to be heard and to seem relevant. . .
. . .the need to feel important and significant. . .
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When you say Never mind, Whatever, Forget about it, I really don’t care,  It doesn’t even matter . . . .you are lying to yourself.
You’re being dishonest with yourself and with the world.
And this is what holds you back.  This is what keeps you from getting anywhere.
Reality is, you do care.

Now just imagine if you were vulnerable enough to express yourself. . . if you could share your inner truth . . .  see my worth, recognize my value, love me for who I am dammit!

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Then you’d be sharing some hard core truth.
The goal should be to get closer to a state of “self-congruence” — in which what we say, think, and feel is consistent with who we are inside. And the truth is we are dying inside for some unconditional love.
Honor this. . .the truth, because the fact is, you do care. You care so much it hurts.
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So go ahead, pay attention, tend to yourself and your need to be loved, acknowledged and heard.
Grow to become more honest with who you are and less delusional about yourself.
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Artwork by
Rene Magritte was an internationally acclaimed surrealist artist of all time, yet it was not until his 50s, when he was finally able to reach some form of fame and recognition for his work. Rene Magritte described his paintings saying, “My painting is visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, ‘What does that mean?’ It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing, it is unknowable.”

A Heart-Breaking, Soul-Healing, Amazingly Awful & Ordinary Life

Some of my recent morning notes from inspiring books I’ve been reading. Links included.

Our humanity is expressed must fully in our treatment of others. 

Performance psychologist, Jim Loehr in Tribe of Mentors

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Spencer Tunick’s Nude Installations

It is okay to wander. It is never a mistake to get lost looking for the psychic and soulful kinship of our desires. 

Women Who Run with Wolves

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When we get lost, we need only pause and look at what is true and relax in our heart. We arrive again. Remembering the light of our nature.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

When I feel overwhelmed I realize I am bottlenecked. Bottlenecks help me prioritize.  Feeling overwhelmed can prove to be very useful.

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Attitude before anything. It all starts in your head. Anything can be done with ease when you have the right mind set.

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Discipline equals freedom. Discipline with our time by keeping to a schedule; discipline with our sleep, keeps us awake and energized; discipline with our meals and exercise keeps our health optimal. When we are feeling fully alive, we are free. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink

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Everyone has the freedom of choice to express either their high self or something else. Sacred Poetry & Mystical Messages

 

Featured Art 

For nearly seven decades, June Leaf (b. 1929) has created a deeply imagined world of unreal creatures and settings that metaphorically probe the human condition.

 

Enough is a Feast & How We Rise Up

An essay and prayer of gratitude from Madeline Johnson

I do not wish to make sense of life. I wish to dwell in it’s sacred mystery.  For life is one infinite, remarkable, unfolding miracle.

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Every single breath I take, you take, we take is a true gift.  A moment to be held in reverence. I remain humbled for this life given to all of us today, for it is is nothing short of magnificent.

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I look up at the cosmos and pay my respect.

For life is a daily, daring, epic adventure, a thrilling mystery ride to explore. I live for the questions, the seeking, the learning and the strikingly beautiful moments of awe.

I am comfortable and content with this.

I do not need answers.

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Gratitude is my living, breathing moving prayer, and my heart breaks open wide with an enormously huge appreciation for everything that happens today.

My soul cries out a passionate thank you to God and the universe.

This is how I pray.

My heart softening and melting into the moment.

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I am genuinely grateful for this breath, and now this one, and the next. . . For as my friend Julia says. . .

we are all just one exhale away . . .

There is nothing to prove or improve. Not to ourselves or to others. Honoring that we are all made perfect already. No mistakes, all of divine intelligence. We connect to our compassionate soul source, our innate goodness to our loving nature right now.

Love is the only real emotion, every other, the absence of it.

This is our best self, our connected self. Leaning on the cheek of of God, we sway, through our divine dance with life each day.

All of us quite unique on the outside, yet our hearts and souls beating as one.

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All throughout the day, I am grateful for this opportunity, this moment right now, to be awake, aware alive and here and I will not waste a moment of it.

Not a single second.

 

This is how I rise.

 

Featured art Nikolina Petolas is a Croatian based photographer and digital artist.

Perennial philosophy (Latinphilosophia perennis),[note 1] also referred to as Perennialism and perennial wisdom, is a perspective in modern spirituality that views each of the world’s religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth or origin from which all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine has grown.
The Perennial Philosophy has its historical roots in the syncretism of Renaissance humanists like Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, who suggested that Plato, Jesus, Hermes Trismegistus and the Kabbalah were all pointing to the same God (they were almost excommunicated as a result). Leibniz also championed the philosophia perennis. You can see it flourishing in the transcendentalism of Emerson, Coleridge and Thoreau.

Joko Beck 

To Regain the Sureness of Your Soulfooting

I regain the steadiness of my soulfooting
When I feel this rapture of being alive.

– from the poem River Ride by Patti Auguste Hallowell

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“Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.
And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

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Beautiful things I love about me.

My childlike enthusiasm and my a joie de vivre.

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My inner Glow with God.

I love my spirit that shines through with contagious and infectious optimism.

I honor my divine intelligence and love and oh how now you can see my soul so clearly.

My soul spark shines and breathes fresh air now.

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Free to be me with every beautiful new human encounter entered with the intention of honesty and love.

The best type of truth is told with thoughtfulness, a touch of tolerance and tenderness.

Silly, stupid human.  We think the truth has to be raw, harsh, angry and loud.  Something to fear, because you can’t handle the truth. No. No. No.

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You can handle the truth.

Truth can be whispered, softly, gently, and directly to the soul of another.

Let the world change you, so you can change the world.

-Motorcycle Diaries 2004

 

 

Featured Art