Skiing With My Bereavement Counselor

It’s unbelievable to think that it has almost been two years since I finally realized I needed to talk to someone about the death of my father and began working with a bereavement counselor. Mary gave me weekly assignments (I kid you not, one of the first ones was to “have a stupid conversation with someone”). She never let me just “talk about my feelings” and instead made me analyze them, and whenever I came to a realization she’d say, “It’s great that you had that insight, but now what are you going to do with it?”

This past Monday, I took a trip to visit her and catch up. In a strange way, seeing her straight dark hair with gray streaks, her polished and clean cut way of dressing, and coffee cup in hand makes me feel like coming home. Because I know that even when I struggle to find the right words, she can piece together enough fragments to help me sort through my feelings and find what is lying hidden down below.

After sitting and blabbering about the fluff in my life for half of our session, I finally got down to the juicy stuff.

I told her about May and how I handled her death. (Written about at She praised me for doing so well without having someone to talk to. But there was still something bothering me.

Hesitantly, I began. “Well, let me ask you this…because this is what’s really bothering me and it keeps coming up.”

Mary nodded, her eyes already all-knowing.

“This fear of my own death. Sometimes, I’ll be standing doing the dishes and think my heart could just give up any second. I mean sometimes, I just want to give up.”

Her brow furrowed. “What do you mean by ‘give up’?” She wasn’t condescending. She was genuinely curious to know.

“Well…uhh… see…umm..errr..” I struggled for words longer than usual. I didn’t want to say kill myself because that’d be a little ironic—scared of my own death but wanting to kill myself? That’s not right.

“How about this…is it kind of like you’re at the top of a ski slope and you look down and it’s really steep and really scary and instead of trying to go straight down you just decide to sit down at the top and slide? Like getting the fall out of the way since you know it’ll happen later?” She’s such a shrink. I love it.


(This is most definitely not my photograph but it sure is fitting!)

“Well, almost. It’s more like I look down the slope and instead of going down at all, I want to take my skis off and walk back to the lift.” We laughed. I was really digging the whole metaphor thing.

She justified my fear of death but also reminded me that it’s unusual because most young people my age think they’re invincible–that’s why they engage in risky behaviors. But because I’ve had loss occur all around me at such a young age, I am fully aware that I will die. In at least this sense, it’s nice to know I have confirmation that I am abnormal for my age group.

I told her that sometimes, I feel like the world is so big and there’s so much to do that I get overwhelmed that if I don’t try and do the coolest and most amazing thing, I’ll somehow have missed out and not have “lived life to the fullest” as they say.

But then Mary said the most miraculous thing. “Instead of trying to ski straight down the mountain, go side to side, it’s much less steep.”


The Month of Maying

Last Wednesday, after teaching my violin lesson, I happily returned home and found one of my neighbors parked in my driveway. It was one of my grandpa’s best friends, May, and her son Marty. I hadn’t seen them since the winter at a volunteer party at church. May had her white hair set in ringlets that night. She was the belle of the ball.

I waved hello to Marty, his smile spread wide across his face, and leaned in the passenger side window to give May a kiss on the cheek. She was pleasantly surprised that I played the violin. In her lyrical Irish accent, she asked if I would come to her house one day over the summer with my grandma and sister for dinner. And of course, I agreed.

As I walked back into my house, I heard May’s voice. “She’s such a sweet girl…” I couldn’t help but smile.


Monday morning, I sat in my Jeep before heading home from Nina’s after getting my wisdom tooth pulled below the dark sky threatening rain. I pulled my cell phone out.

“Hello,” my grandpa answered. His voice sounded deeper than usual.

“Hey Grandpa, I’m just calling to—“

“Hold on.” Click. He switched over to the other line to finish a call with someone else. He always does this. I couldn’t help but feel a little frustrated. I only had to say “–I’m coming home now.” Nevertheless, I listened to the silence and waited for his voice to sound in my ear.

“Yea, hi.” I heard him shifting in his seat. I could picture him sitting at the wooden kitchen table, in a plaid button up t-shirt, his FDNY mug filled with coffee, still deciding on what to have for breakfast.

“I was just calling to let you know that I’m coming home now. That’s all.”

“Oh, okay…well, drive safe okay?”

“I will.”

He hesitated.

“Because we had a big tragedy here today…” My heart dropped. The world stopped. All that existed was my grandpa’s breath on the other line and the water that had begun streaming down the windshield.

My mind raced. Someone had died. But it couldn’t have been anyone in our family. He would’ve told me immediately. Or maybe he would have waited until I got home? My thoughts raced to my grandma who had been sick with a cold the last few days. What would I do without her?

“My friend May Loftus is dead.”

What? I just spoke to her a few days ago. I can still hear her voice in my head. “She’s such a sweet girl.”

“Oh my gosh…Grandpa, I’m so sorry. What happened?”

“Her and Marty got into a car accident. We just found out this morning…” his voice trailed to a whisper and I could see his lip quivering, fighting to maintain composure, his blue eyes squinting against the tears that would be pooling in his eyes. “Here…talk to Grandma.” His voice cracked.

“Hi Abigail.” Her voice calm and steady as usual, if only a little scratchy from her cold.

“Grandma, what happened?”

Shocked, I hung up the phone promising to drive especially careful in the downpour. I sat in silence while I drove—something I never do—and let my mind wander.

I knew that this was not my loss and I shouldn’t let it consume me the way the death of my father had. But I couldn’t help but feel like the world was once again reminding me how quickly things can change. Literally, here today—gone tomorrow. And so easily. What are the odds that it was our neighbor driving at that exact moment? What if they had left five minutes later?

I couldn’t help but contemplate my own mortality as well. Will I die suddenly without feeling satisfied with my life? This is a fear I battle all too frequently. I’m not sure if other people my age think about this. For me, I think it’s the result of having been exposed to such a close loss so early in my life. But then again, I know this question rests in everyone’s minds.

There are so many things I’ve yet to do. So many people I want to meet and places I want to see (cliché I know, but who cares at a time like this). And after being reminded of how easily this beautiful life can be taken away—just in a matter of seconds—I realized how much I take for granted. I need to be more appreciative of what I have now instead of what I could have in the future.

You might be thinking I’m having a bit of an existential crisis. And you would be right. Mark Twain said, “A man [or woman] who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” I want to be prepared.


I don’t think May’s death happened to teach me a lesson. That would be narcissistic to think. But I do think that when tragedies happen, there is a lesson to be learned. It may not be a lesson we learn today, tomorrow, a month from now, or even years. But there is something to be learned from loss. Even if it is just to value our own lives and the lives of those around us just a little bit more.

For May.


Writing Tips I’ve Learned


This weekend is my last one here in New York and I wish I could say I was spending it doing really cool things like chasing down every Mr. Softee truck and eating pretzels from street vendors till I puke. However, I’ve found myself inside doing homework and working on my final piece for the program. I’m pushing myself with both the content and quality of my writing, so today’s post will be short so I can save my energy for the piece. I’ve accumulated a list of writing tips from each day of class and decided to share a little bit of what I’ve learned for all my fellow writers out there.

1. Make a schedule. If you wait for inspiration to strike, you’ll be waiting forever. Pick a few hours a week that you can devote to writing. Even if you sit and stare at a blank page or screen, eventually something will start to flow and even if most of it isn’t very good, you may write one great sentence that you want to expand upon later.

2. For creative nonfiction writers, treat yourself as a character to be toyed with. Be honest about your thoughts and perceptions of other people and yourself. If you are honest, you’ll earn the readers’ trust.

3. Always remember to trust your readers’ as well. It’s not always about the words on the page, but rather, the words you’ve left out. Trust readers to fill in some of the facts for themselves. Not every moment must be captured explicitly. In other words, “pluck the strings for your reader, don’t give them the whole orchestra.”

4. Choose your endings wisely. Do not keep writing unnecessarily after your point has been made. This comes across as over-explaining and makes the reader feel as though you do not trust them to understand the message your story carries. Again, do not make your reader feel they haven’t been trusted.

5. Let different voices into the story. This is especially helpful for creative nonfiction writers, as it is easy to get caught up in our own internal monologue during a piece. By letting other characters speak, we can enrich our stories and create more enjoyment for our readers.

6. There is a difference between tension and surprise. Surprise is when both the reader and the characters’ do not know what is about to happen. Tension is when the reader knows what will happen but the characters’ do not. Creating tension is a good way to engage a reader.

7. Pace your story. Take the necessary time to develop your ideas. Do not rush to the punch line. Your audience will be disappointed from lack of build up (which can be accomplished by tension, as mentioned in #6).

8. When starting to submit pieces of writing to publications such as literary contests and magazines, don’t be alarmed by rejection. It happens. Just because you have been rejected, does not mean you are not a writer.

9. There will be plenty of people that find flaws with your writing and do not like it. On the flip side, there will always be someone out there who does enjoy your writing. Even if that person is just your mom.

10. Trust yourself. You will get criticism from editors, but for the most part, you have the last say in what is published. If there is something you feel cannot be changed, stick up for what you want. It is your art that you are putting into the world. Don’t put something out there that you are not proud of.

11. And lastly, the writer you are now may not be the writer you will become. Just as we change throughout our lives, so does our writing. There is not “one shot” when we have the chance to become writers. Unlike athletes, who have a prime age in their life when they can become professionals, as writers, we have many opportunities. Don’t give up.

The Meaning of Life: Abbey Gallagher Style


Last night I was video chatting with one of my best friends Kaitlyn (who I wrote about here: and she decided to give me suggestions of things to write about for some upcoming posts. She kept the list short and ended with, “Oh yea, and if you could…can you please write about the meaning of life?” Sure Kaitlyn, because I’m such an expert on that one.

And since I’ve realized my best ideas come to me while I’m either showering or brushing my teeth, I headed to the bathroom with toothbrush and paste in hand. As I scrubbed away at my pearly whites (rather aggressively–the dentist is never happy with me) I realized I don’t have any answer for Kaitlyn about the meaning of life. I do however know some things that give life meaning.

So coming to you from my stuffy NYU dorm I give you:


1. Cats. Or pets in general. They are cute and cuddly (for the most part) and are always there when you need them. They are perfectly content to listen to you talk about how you and your ex-lover broke up when all your friends are sick of it. And unlike that ex-lover, they never fight with you. Plus, they are so darn cute:


even when they’re grumpy:

Grumpy cat

and even when they’re naked:

naked cat2. Frozen yogurt. Because finally, there is a place where I am allowed to have all the toppings I want on a sundae and don’t have to feel guilty for making the waiter write them all down. And besides being delicious, it’s an opportunity to get together with friends and enjoy a night out.


3. Sunsets. Or sunrises. The simplicity of the sun rising and setting is often an act of nature that is often taken for granted. I highly recommend taking a morning and evening once in a while to stop and simply enjoy the beauty of the natural world that we live in. You won’t regret it.


4. Books. Books to entertain. Books to instruct. Books to inform. Bad books, mediocre books, any books. Story books. Cook books. Old books. New books. Books, books, books. And not just having the books! Reading the books!


5. Music. In a few short minutes, a song can take the listener (or the musician playing) on an emotional journey that cannot be replicated in any other art form. It’s hard to describe in words the importance of music and even though I have this pretty picture below, I think you should just go listen to your favorite song right now.


6. Helping others. While it’s nice to go on and enjoy our very exciting and interesting and busy lives, it is very important to give back to others. This could be by financially helping a friend when they need it, volunteering at an animal shelter or nursing home, or teaching a child a new skill. However you do it, you’ll be surprised to know that yes, you’re helping someone out, but the reward of that feeling will stay with you long after you commit the act.


7. Family. This can include the people that raised you and love you unconditionally and the friends who love you with no obligation. They are the people who choose to be a part of your life and that you choose to keep in it. They make you feel important and understood. They encourage you to pursue dreams and help create new ones. These are the people you share your life with, who make it all worth while.

Group Shot1

From left: my Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, Dad, and Auntie Barbara

In other words– much shorter words–the things that give life meaning (for me) are:

  1. Our non-human creature friends
  2.  Food
  3.  The beauty of the natural world
  4. Knowledge
  5. Art
  6. Charity
  7. Love

Although I don’t have the meaning of life for Kaitlyn, I do know that it has to do with being happy. And I know that all the things I’ve listed above do that for me.

And whenever I am worried that there is no meaning at all, I think about what my dad asked me one hot summer night: “Why is there something instead of nothing?”

I’d love for you to share what gives your life meaning in the comment box below! Have a great day everyone and keep doing the things that give your life meaning! 

What the Big Apple Has Taught Me So Far

I’ve only been in Manhattan a couple of days and I’ve already learned quite a few lessons. Surprisingly however, none of them have to do with writing. But for the price I’m paying to be here, I better keep learning things (any sorts of things) at this rate.

1. Not every apartment (or in my case, dorm room) has a beautiful view onto the New York City skyline.





2. The closet in my dorm room has a light that beeps like a fire alarm if I forget to turn it off. I guess this is the university’s way to conserve energy. By saving wattage…in closets…can you tell I’m rolling my eyes?

3. Dorm room mattresses are very uncomfortable. I’ve never slept in a dorm before so I highly suggest purchasing a mattress cover for anyone heading off to college in the fall!

4. You can’t go outside to see what the weather is like when you live nine stories up. This was particularly problematic for me yesterday morning when I was trying to get dressed but couldn’t really tell what the weather was actually like (rainy? hot? humid?)

5. Which leads you to learning that umbrellas (which you bring with you in the event it actually does rain) really do turn inside out. I was that girl yesterday in the rain who was fighting with the damn thing.

6. Don’t talk to people on the street who wave you down like airplanes. They’re most likely trying to sell you something (a material item or an idea) and will waste precious time out of your walk to class (which you don’t have to spare) trying to convince you to purchase something or join a cause that you will decline at the end of the fifteen minute monologue they somehow manage to engage you in.

This happened to me already while I was walking to get my student ID. I had my headphones in (which you would think would automatically signal to oncoming salespeople/activists that I am clearly NOT INTERESTED—but alas, some people are quite persistent. They like a challenge.) and some guy waved me down and commented that he liked the color of my cardigan (green) because it meant I liked the Earth. This was news to me since I thought wearing green just signified you liked the color green but hey, I’ll let him off the hook. Then he complimented my nose pin (which is in the shape of a flower—which I’m now realizing probably also encouraged him to thinking I love the Earth—which I do, I’m just not an environmental activist, which turns out is what he wanted me to 1) Sign up to be 2) Donate to and 3) Well, actually I can’t remember the third thing he wanted because after he said the word “donate” my broke-college-student-mind tuned out. I politely told him I’d think about joining his activist group (lie) and continued on my way. On my walk back to my building I got lucky as he had trapped another poor unfortunate soul in his monologue and couldn’t devote his full attention to me except to say, “I’m still waiting for you!” in a sing-song voice, in which I sang back “I’m still thinking!” and continued walking, head down.

7. Food is painfully expensive. So expensive that you don’t want to buy it. I now understand why most people in this neighborhood are skinny. Also, the term “starving artist.”

8. You should really exchange phone numbers with your suitemate. Because when their alarm clock goes off at 8PM instead of AM and continues beeping for the next half hour because they aren’t in their room to turn it off and you can’t turn it off because they locked their door, communication would be helpful.

9. There are other places in the world besides America. And people actually live there. Yes, people live in Canada, Singapore, the Netherlands, Colombia (besides Shakira), India, and China. And yes, I met people yesterday from each of these places so I have real live evidence.

10. These people are crazy enough (like me) to want to pursue a career as a writer (just like me). It’s amazing to be in a room with people who all share your passion. It’s terrifying and slightly intimidating, but it’s also inspiring and somehow feels like home.

11. Tony Bennett lives next door to the building where I have classes and Daniel Day Lewis lives across the street. The lesson learned here: Celebrities exist in real life. Who knew?

12. However, the best lesson I’ve learned so far has nothing to do with living in New York or my classes at NYU. Quite the contrary actually. It’s that nothing can make me happier than knowing the person you wrote a piece for actually read it and enjoyed it. Especially when that person does work that you not only admire, but are inspired by. It turns out you don’t need a fancy school name under your belt or be part of a “prestigious” program to have your writing give you pure unadulterated happiness by having others enjoy it.

Check out the picture below to see the reply I got from Andrew Jenks after sending him the piece I wrote about his show ( It’s short and simple, but it’s all I need to know I did well by him and his show. It’s an amazing feeling 🙂

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 10.45.57 PM

What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?


In a few days (two to be precise) I’ll be moving into Manhattan to participate in NYU’s Writers in NY program specifically for creative non-fiction. I can’t believe that I’ll actually be embarking on this journey for the next four weeks. And because this is going to be one of the most exciting things I’ve done so far in my life, I’ll be using my Wednesday and Saturday posts to document my time in the program. I’m really hoping to have some great stories to tell.

I also think it’s important for me to use today’s post to reflect on what it’s taken to get me to be a part of this program. As mentioned before, ( I’ve been writing my entire life. (After I wrote that piece I even remembered the two books I had started writing when I was in middle school. It’s funny how vividly I still remember them.) I always considered writing a hobby of mine, or just a way for me to express and reflect on my emotions—never really considering it something I could pursue as a career. I’ve always dreamed of writing a book but never thought it was possible. At least not right now. I just thought I would write it later, when I had more experience, or something like that.

Over winter break however, I was truly inspired after coming across a TV show (yes, another one!) that I had watched in high school called The Buried Life. Similar to World of Jenks (which I wrote about on Wednesday– the show is filmed as a documentary. The show is about four guys who created a list of things they wanted to do before they died and follows them as they travel across the country crossing things off their list. What made the show truly inspirational however, wasn’t just watching their shenanigans (they competed in a Krump competition, snuck into a party at the Playboy Mansion, and helped deliver a baby); it was that for each thing they crossed off their list, they helped a stranger cross something off of theirs. With every stranger they met, they asked What do you want to do before you die? When I watched the show in high school I didn’t think about it too much. I never even asked myself What do I want to do before I die? But now that I’ve experienced a loss so close to me with the death of my father, I know that I won’t be here forever and I better make the most of the time I have.

So I decided to make my own list of things to do before I die. As I read over the list, I realized just how bizarre and outrageous some of the things on it were. #48: Spend a day talking with a British accent. #33: Kiss a stranger on New Years Eve in Times Square. #56: Be a nude model for an art class. I scoured the list for something I could start working on now, because I realized that once I had written my dreams down they no longer felt so unattainable. Suddenly, they just became projects to cross off the list.

Scanning the two sheets of loose leaf I had written my list on, my eyes fell upon

#7: Write a book.

 As I sat there, I realized that there was no reason to wait any longer to start working on this dream. Because hey, there might not be a later for me. Who knows? Why not start now?

And as it began to sink in that I could start working on this dream right now I began to think about how much work it would actually take. I accepted the fact that you don’t just automatically sneeze out an entire book in one sitting. I don’t imagine J.K. Rowling sat down one night and started writing “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much,” all the way to “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.” * It’s a lot of hard work. There are a lot of tiny baby steps to creating such a big piece. And so I thought, what’s the first step I need to take?

And with that, I went to lunch with one of my dearest friends, Brian, and posed my idea to him. Just like he had told me the previous summer when I came to him saying I wanted to write seriously, he suggested I start a blog. But this time, unlike last summer, when I had protested the use of technology, I decided that creating a blog would be the best way to start writing regularly and to an audience (something I was absolutely terrified about—the pages of my journal were the only audience I had before). It would be my way of seeing if I really had the chops to write seriously. Would I get writers block? Would I run out of ideas? Would anyone even read it?

Despite my fears, I started this blog with my first piece The Only Thing We Have To Do In Life ( couldn’t believe the overwhelmingly positive response I got. I’ve been writing consistently since then and I’ve got to tell you, creating this blog was the best thing I could have done. I’ve proven to myself that I have an endless amount of ideas. (And that when I have writers block, I can easily hide it from my readers by posting fiction for two weeks.) And I’ve gotten a great confidence boost in knowing that people read my pieces and actually–dare I say it–enjoy them.

The most important thing I’ve learned however, is that taking the first step toward a dream project is really the hardest part. After you’ve taken the first step, the next ones don’t seem as difficult. After you’ve taken the first step, the dream feels more achievable, not so scary, and you feel motivated to take the next steps, one after the other.

And so after writing this blog for a few months, I decided I was ready to take another step toward writing a bigger work. While my blog has given me experience and confidence, it’s now time to take my writing to the next level and focus on perfecting my craft. Knowing that this was a necessary step toward reaching my dream, I applied to NYU’s summer writing program. To my surprise I was accepted and to my even greater surprise, my grandparents agreed to let me go (with a lot of persuasion on my part). I can’t believe I’m going to have the opportunity to work with professors who are published authors and I can’t wait to see how my writing will change over the next four weeks with all the things I will learn. It’s going to be amazing.

So I’d like to thank The Buried Life guys for inspiring me to finally pursue my love for writing right now instead of waiting until it might be too late. And I’d like to thank Brian for pushing me to start a blog despite my initial hesitation. Without these two influences, I think I would still be searching for happiness even though it’s been at the end of my pen all these years.

So now I open up the question to you: What do you want to do before you die? Feel free to leave your answers in the comment box!

*First and last lines of the Harry Potter series.

Here’s a trailer of The Buried Life for anyone who’s interested!

Why Do I Write, Anyway?


Last night I sat down to write the first version of today’s blog post. It was a particularly personal (read: exploitative) tale about my loving (read: insane) family (as per usual) but by the end–I don’t know how–I came to think about why I write in the first place. And that’s when I realized I needed to write a new post for today.

Because I got excited. I mean, really excited. My gears started turning and I couldn’t stop thinking of things to write–about why I write– long enough to brush my teeth efficiently. I mean let’s face it; I’ve had a pretty atypical childhood and adolescence. But last night as I wrote just how dysfunctional everything can feel at times in my family, I realized that I don’t just write for fun. I write to survive.

I’ve written my whole life. Before I entered kindergarten (I never went to pre-school) I made my mom write the letters of the alphabet down the left side of a sheet of paper so I could copy each letter over and over again all the way across to the right side. In the first grade, my class spent most of the year creating our own stories that we made into books. I wrote a book about my favorite color (which was green at the time), the baby my mom miscarried before she had me, and one about a pacifist princess who was trapped inside of a castle while a war was raging outside. Each page had an illustration and at the end of each book was a page entitled “About the Author.” Here, I wrote about where I lived and who I lived with and what I wanted to be when I grew up. With each new book, my dream profession changed. In one book, I wanted to be a ballerina; the next, a mother; the next, a rocket scientist. I guess I didn’t realize that writing could be a profession.

As I grew older and the world became more confusing, writing became an outlet, like many artistic endeavors. It became, and still is, a way for me to release emotion in a safe, healthy, and creative way. In this way, writing has been a way to heal. Writing has helped me make sense of a world that I don’t understand.

I write to solve problems in my own life and to help solve problems in my friends lives. I write to help others in the hopes that by sharing my stories, someone else will feel as though they aren’t alone and that one person in the world understands.

I write to escape a life I sometimes feel too big for because my dreams sometimes feel so grand that they feel impossible to accomplish. I write to escape a life I sometimes feel doomed for. Writing is my way to create a better life for myself than the lives of my family before me. It’s not that their lives haven’t been fulfilling to themselves, it’s just that I want something different. Although I’m scared I’ll never reach my dreams, I’m even more terrified of staying exactly where I have been the last twenty years and never reaching farther than the safety of my backyard. And that fear, of never even attempting to fulfill my dreams, is much scarier than the grandness of the dreams themselves.

And so with each piece of writing I complete, I feel more motivated and more inspired to write the next piece. One great idea can sometimes spawn off a slew of other great ideas. It’s self-perpetuating inspiration. Sometimes the thoughts come so fast I’m afraid I won’t be able to capture them all. They race one after another through my mind, as if they’re testing to see how quickly I can respond to their demands of being written down before they disappear forever.

One of the most exciting things about writing for me is that when I start, I can never be sure of where I’m going to end up. Like last night for instance. I started out by writing about my family and ended up writing about my need to write. Writing for me, is like a road trip without a map. Sometimes you end up in a really cool place like a water park or a zoo. Sometimes you end up in weird places like your ex-boyfriends house. And other times you end up in really painful places, like your dad’s hospital bed. But by traveling through language, I learn about myself and suddenly, I’ve created something. What was once a blank piece of paper is now filled with my thoughts. What was once nothing, is now something.

To conclude with all my writing about writing, I’m happy (and super proud) to announce that this summer I’ll be taking the next step toward my dream of becoming a writer. At the end of May I’ll be headed to NYU for their creative nonfiction summer writing program for four weeks. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and I thank each and every person who has ever taken the time out of their day to read my blog. You are helping my dreams come true.