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St.Lucians Celebrating Jounen Kwéyòl in the National Capital!

On October 26th, 2013, St. Lucia celebrated it’s annual Jounen Kwéyòl (Creole Day) which is a festival, celebrated across the island since 1984.  In Ottawa,  we were very proud of the St.Lucia Ottawa Association for organizing the festival and ensuring that everything was in place so that  St.Lucians and their guest from around the world, had a memorable experience. It was a great crowd – a mix of children and adults and the elderly, most dressed in something which symbolized their loyalty to our beautiful island of St.Lucia.

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The day was filled with traditional foods and entertainment.   Vendors lined up against the walls promoting their businesses and the kitchen was busy with a dedicated group of people cooking goodies from St.Lucia. There was an entertaining show put on in the afternoon which was hosted by two nationals, Toni and myself.

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The president of the St. Lucia Ottawa Association, Mr. Raymond Peterkin,  encouraged St. Lucians to be part of the Association and to support the activities for us to create a more vibrant Association in Ottawa.

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The vice-president, Noella Charles, ensured that event was properly coordinated and supported all the various activities of the day.  She is well-known in the community and recently received an award from the United Way in Ottawa, for her work and dedication to community service.

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Mr.  Michael Willius, the Consul General of Toronto, came to support the activities of the Association and celebrate Jounen Kwéyòl with the community.  He motivated the audience by sharing the history of Jounen Kwéyòl and the importance of it to our cultural heritage.  Visitors travelled from Montreal, New York and Toronto to support the event – it was so much fun reconnecting with some people I had not seen for many, years!

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Jaunty, our local celebrity musician who won Road March King four times in St.Lucia and who currently lives in New York, blessed the audience with a few of his songs, which had great relevance to the festival.  He later performed again that evening during a dance and got the crowd going with his ever favourite hit, “Bobolis”.

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Eric Sarah blessed us with some amazing African drumming, where he got the crowd engaged with him.  He is a young university graduate and has a deep passion for drumming. He runs his own business and teaches others how to drum!

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“Memories of St. Lucia”, a creole story telling drama,  was written and performed by Mr. Eurick Charles, who dramatically acted out his poetry as he walked the audience down memory lane with what the “good old life” looked like in St. Lucia, many, many years ago! He too had the crowd rocking with some of our favourite songs such as “It was under the coconut tree…” A song which brings back the sweetness of young love and a mother questioning her daughter about how she got pregnant… back then, so much of the romance happened in the small secluded places like under a coconut tree…. along the beach side. In the picture below, the young girl dramatizes what happened under the coconut tree!

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Esther Charles, a budding poet, recited some of her poetry to the crowd.

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There were outstanding performances by  young children and adults  from the by Cultural Arts Studio School of Afro-Caribbean Dance and an amazing fashion show by Sarah Charles Watermarked Designs and Helen Glasgow. The display of St. Lucia National wear  and the wob dwiet were amazing!  It makes us proud that both Sarah and Helen have been able to keep and promote this part of our culture in Ottawa.

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Below are only a few of the great array of beautiful dresses designed by Sara Charles, a St. Lucian national who has made a name for her brand in Canada.

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Helen Glasgow below, one of the long standing members of the St.Lucia Association, has been creatively designing various styles for our national wear in Ottawa.  She had a fabulous set of designs modelled at the festival.

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blue national wear final

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The dancers below electrified the crowd with hot and sizzling African and Caribbean music.  Their performance was professional, captivating and very well choreographed!

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In between the show, we engaged the crowd with creole jokes, games and prizes.

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Living away from home brings great moments of nostalgia when you wish you could in your home country celebrating special festivities and events. Our home countries have strong emotional ties in our hearts and this is why  those of us  who live abroad for the most part,  try hard to organize activities to keep the spirit of our culture alive, to help our children gain exposure to a part of their heritage and also expose our friends here to experience a part of our culture.

No matter where you are in the world, there is something about connecting to your heritage which is sacred.  TuneIn to understanding more about your culture and how it has shaped you over the years. Even though you have never been in your home country, you will be surprised to see how your mind and heart can suddenly connect, when you actually do connect authentically to your roots.  StepUp and participate in activities to support your home country.  YOU can make a difference and make your home country proud.

Congratulations to the St.Lucia Ottawa Association! Here are the names of the current executive /committee members who worked so hard  to host this  fabulous Jounen Kwéyòl Day. Let us keep on promoting those amazing opportunities for all St.Lucians and others to connect to our history and culture.

  • Raymond Peterkin- President
  • Noella Charles – Vice President/Public Relations/Membership
  • Yvette Lubrun – Secretary
  • Madeleine Glasgow – Treasurer
  • Giselle Jean-Baptiste – Diaspora Affairs & Youth
  • Nathalie Peterkin – Entertainment Committee
  • Adelaide Jean-Pierre – Hospitality Committee
  • Mary Williams – Telephone Committee

For upcoming activities from the St.Lucia Ottawa Association, please see the website at http://www.stluciaottawa.com/

Love,

Magdalene

Magdalene Cooman-Maxwell is from St.Lucia and currently lives in Ottawa. She blogs as a hobby but blogs ONLY for things which will bring inspiration and help make our lives better.  You can follow her blog or share it with others to continue the flow of good thoughts into the world.

                    

 

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The tipping point… when you realize you can’t “fix” anyone!

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Last night, my daughter took this photograph of  her brother as they played  around with the camera. I look at his prayerful stance and can’t help but love him but also laugh at the so many moments this kid has driven me crazy.  We are a bit similar in nature. Free-spirited, sees only the positive, does not take anything too seriously, lives life in the moment; does not see danger, does not plan a lot …. all this is good, but when you are a mother trying to manage a kid,  this type of personality can be very challenging. (Now, I have a better appreciation for what my mother went through with me).

Jelan was about 16 years old and very, very unsettled at school, to my mind.  In my attempt to solve the problem and “fix” him, I decided to take him to a psychologist.  The cost of the visit was $150.00 for one hour and for my budget, it was a lot of money.  But hey – what wouldn’t a mother do to save her child?

“Mom, save your money.” he said. “There is nothing wrong with me.” he argued,

Nothing would stop me.  We walked into the psychologists  office and the psychologist  asked us, “So what is the problem?”

Jelan said, “I don’t have a problem.  There is nothing wrong with me.”

The psychologist continued to dig deeper while Jelan sat on the chair, completely disengaged; he  held his face in his hand, slightly bent over and made no attempt to respond to questions.  I struggled trying to explain the situation to the psychologist  so I could find a solution to motivate the kid to do better in school.

After an hour, the psychologist looked at me and said, “Mom, you need help.  You need to find support for yourself  and maybe see a psychologist a few more times.  Jelan is fine.  He has to go through the “University of Hard Knocks” so that he can learn and find his way through life.”

I was completely baffled.  I needed help?  I came here to get help for Jelan!!!

Jelan looked at me with a smirk on his face.  I was furious.  I had just spent $150.00 to be told that I had a problem. Jelan was still NOT FIXED!!!

Jelan and I walked out of the door and as we hit the sidewalk, we both started to laugh.  I realized the absurdity of the situation, $150.00 less and an “unfixed” child.  I laughed until the tears rolled down my face and he said, “See I told you that you did not have to pay $150.!  I am fine!”

Across the street was a Gelato store.  He teasingly said, “You just paid $150.00 for one hour to see this psychologist.  It should not be too expensive to get me a gelato… it is only $5!.”  We both laughed some more.  While we were having the gelato, he said, “It looks cool to be a psychologist.  You just need to sit there and listen and let the people solve their own problems!” 

Jelan is 18 years old now, studying Media and Communications at College.  I learnt to let go of him and trust that life would guide him.  I had to trust that his soul would grow and learn to fulfill his mission here. Indeed he has gone through some hard knocks but I am glad that I allowed him to crash when he needed to because altogether, it has helped him become more aware of himself and make better  choices in life.  Sometimes we try to protect our children but we have to keep in mind that  each one of us have an individual journey and we can’t protect them from everything.

That experience  gave me a new perspective on how to  deal with situations in my life. I reached the tipping point where I realized that I don’t have to fix anything or anyone.  I only need to fix my response to situations and people.  That is the only thing I can control. No one can fix us.  We can step up to make changes for our lives but the only way real change will happen, is when the change is intrinsically motivated.  The psychologist was right – I needed help to cope and I got it – in fact still get it – from my wonderful friends who are great listeners.

Join us for a TuneIn and StepUp Challenge in 2014!  We are looking for participants worldwide!

https://tuneinandstepup2013.wordpress.com/signup-for-a-tunein-and-stepup-challenge-2014/

Love,

Magdalene

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If you believed in this one thing, you would likely live every moment fully…

DSC07717Death.  Do we choose it or does it choose us?  Some say that we CANNOT die before our time but we don’t know when that time will be.

My sister Anthia died when she was only 27. We can say that she was too young to die.  On the other hand, how can I say that, when I was given the premonition of her death and I had dreams of her death a full year before she died.  I was only 16 at the time and these dreams were quite confusing to me until she died and I was able to put it all  together and realized that life was preparing me for her death.

What I remember most clearly about her life, was that she lived it and enjoyed it.  She loved buying beautiful shoes and clothes. One day, I overheard my mom scolding her about buying too many shoes.  She said to her, “You must save your money.  Why do you keep on buying all these clothes are shoes?”  This did not bother Anthia – she continued shopping for beautiful things.  I can still see the happiness and glow on her when she dressed – she was exquisite.  I am so glad that she shopped for her heart’s desires.

We spent many, many evenings in my parent’s old kitchen talking about books, movies, boys and life.  Being several years older than me, I felt it special that my oldest sister and I could talk for such long hours.  Her best friends became my friends and I still love and adore them because of the gift that they too gave me by accepting me in their lives so completely.  Now, I know why God, in his wisdom, granted me so much time with her, in her short time.

Did her soul know that she had only a short earth life and she needed to make the most of it?

I also know, based on my dreams and connections with the spirit world, that there is also nothing to be afraid of death as the soul only transitions to the other life with a higher dimension. Anthia, my mom, dad and other loved ones continue to communicate with me. They are still very present in my life.

Anthia had high expectations for me and expected me to excel at school.  For every prize and award that I have received, I silently thank her for her confidence in me and always speaking to me in a way that made me think of  using my talent on this earth. She had an aspiration that I would be a writer one day because she loved reading the poems and silly things I wrote about.  Well, so many years later, here I am writing away on this blog.

TuneIn to  LIVE YOUR LIFE FULL. StepUp to listen to that inner voice within you and that calling within your heart even though it means that sometimes you have to take a risk.  Don’t be afraid to say what you need to say to someone or do what you need to do for them.  If you had only the next moment left to live, what would you do or not do?

If you have lost a dear one and you are reading this blog now, I am receiving a message now, to let you know that your loved one is perfectly fine.  They have entered into a spirit dimension which is all love and light.  It was their time to go and nothing could have stopped it – they chose to go back to the spirit world.  All they ask of us is to continue remembering them as loving us.  Don’t be sad for their crossing over – celebrate their life and their spirits.

Here is a video by Steve Jobs which takes the message closer home.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5SMyfbWYyE

Love,

Magdalene

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Can you live your future in the NOW?

” Do you live your future in the now?”  I asked Mr. Luis on the train while he took a break from attending to the passengers.

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“No.” he said. “My future? I cannot even think about it.  I have to live in the present now, to take care of my wife and children and make sure that they have everything they need.  Having children is a lot of responsibility – I never imagined that it was so much work!”

He shared with me what his single life was like as a flight attendant in Brazil and the thrill of flying all over the world. Settling to having a family, has certainly had an impact on his sense of freedom and adventure although he totally loves his family.  He thinks that one day, he will perhaps have his old life back.  He feels that his life is on pause while he is waiting for the kids to grow up.

But what if there is no pause?

When my kids were younger, I too thought my life was on pause while I raised them.  I could not fully enjoy raising my kids because of the void of not having my previous lifestyle.

However, one day I realized that,  “This is your life.  This family is your future.  There is no pause – you have to find a way to make everything you do now, matter enough so that you can  connect the dots. You can live your future by paying attention to what you do  in the now.”

Years later, I can see that if I had continued to focus on the single lifestyle I no longer had, I would have missed out on the new opportunities that life was presenting to me to grow and invest in my role as a mother and also living in the now with them.

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Across from my seat on the train,  were three young people, so I seized the opportunity to interview them as well. When I interview people, I actually live my future now, as this is all part of my bigger future and I can feel how right it feels for me.  They were from Vietnam, studying in Toronto and heading to Ottawa for a two-day visit during their study break.

“Do you live your future  in the now?” I asked them.  At first, they looked a bit confused.  Elise tried to explain that the future was something that she was planning for as she is studying Human Resources at school,  Loane said that she plans the future step by step – she needs to have a map of the plans and so far she is on track with the plan;  Will said that he lives fully in the present and enjoys his life in the now, although he has bigger plans for the future. Will shared  his favourite quote by Steve Jobs:

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked  myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am  about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a  row, I know I need to change something.”

Will had only learnt of the trip to Ottawa the night before but he jumped on board because it was aligned with what he likes to do – travelling, exploring, meeting new people. The three shared their life experiences in choosing to study in Canada and I was touched by their motivation to make their lives better, to make sure that their parents were proud of them; to increase their knowledge of life and the world so that they can live better lives.  Will’s contact card. spoke about his own philosophy.  The front was black and gold.

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He designed it himself with the crown symbol at the top and a dot in the center which represents three people.  His belief is that three people makes things better than 2 people when they come together. There is a balance to solve conflict and to create more opportunities. Interestingly enough, he was travelling in a group of three.

The back of his card was black and white and said, “Different is beautiful.”  I think that this says it all!  By just living now from that inner space, does make you live your future now – it is your mental mindset about life.

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The three young people left a few tips to other people to “Live their future now.”

  • Balance your health daily.  Workout, eat right and think positive.
  • Increase your socialization so that you build relationships and not live in isolation.
  • Make a big enough plan as a guide but enjoy your life fully in the present. You need to have an idea of where you are going.
  • Live your life before you die.
  • Increase your knowledge everyday of something which you are interested in. Learn something new – it makes your mind feel fresh.
  • Travel – it makes you see new things.
  • Follow your interest and do what you love.
  • Do good for others because life returns it to you.

Loan shared with me that one way she lives her future now, is by going to various coffee shops and taking notes of how the business  is managed. She is passionately interested in having her own coffee shop in Vietnam one day!

I live my future in the now by consciously creating moments  that naturally leap me into the bigger future. It is all  about the choices were make, moment to moment.

TuneIn today to your conscious choices.  Do these choices feel right for you?  Can you see how each of those small choices are leading to the bigger future?  StepUp to live your future in the NOW, using your imagination and your amazing internal power to create the life you want to live!

Love,

Magdalene

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Don’t be afraid to look at the half-empty cup…there may be important pearls of wisdom…

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In our attempt to keep positive, we are always encouraged to look at the cup half-full instead of half-empty. Lately, I experienced a situation which made me realize that by looking at the cup half-full all the time ( I am too much of an optimistic sometimes),  I was actually missing out on some important pieces of information which life was presenting to me.  As soon as I started to think about the emptiness in what I was investing so much energy in, I felt empowered to make some decisions and take some more affirmative steps to help me create balance.

Here are some things to think about which may help to see how a half-empty cup may be a hint for us to take some action.

  • Are you in  job that feels so empty but you keep on thinking that the cup is half-full because you earn a salary, you do make a difference and you do a job?  How else can you use your talent, skills, experience and expertise?
  • Are you in a relationship which makes you feel stuck where you feel you give up so much but don’t get anything back in return?
  • Do the people in your life make you feel happy, inspired, uplifted or beautiful?  Or do they make you feel drained?
  • Are you making financial choices which leaves you feeling disempowered about how you spend your money?
  • Do you feel that you are moving forward in things that are important to you?  Or do you feel that you keep on turning around with the same old issues time and time again?
  • Are you living more from fear or from a place of love and trust?

TuneIn today to what makes your cup feel half-empty. StepUp to asking yourself, “Is it worth the investment?  Will investing more and more in this half-empty cup, ever make it full? Or even half-full? Think about the pearls of wisdom which life is presenting to you to make better choices!

Love,

Magdalene

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A few life lessons we can learn from this 4-year old kid!

The most inspiring part of my weekend was being tuned in to 4-year old SId and his 9-year old  brother Jonah, whom I baby sat in Montreal, while their mom, my friend Christina, shopped with her daughter and my daughter.  It was the boys first time being with me alone,  so we were all warming up to each other. I attempted to hold Sid’s hand on the busy St. Catherine Street.  He looked at me and said, “I can walk by myself.  I don’t want to hold your hand.” 

Jonah immediately jumped in the conversation and said, “Well, you will hold MY hand.” and took charge of his little brother from that moment on. It was so cute watching them walk together that I could not help but take that photo.

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The boys are passionately in love with the Apple Store and I promised to take them there. Somehow, we got lost and walked for almost 30 minutes before we realized we were heading in the wrong direction. Poor Sid looked completely exhausted, as he already had a long morning before that. I suggested that maybe we should go back to meet their mum.  Sid said, “But we have to find the Apple Store.  It is what we were looking for. Maybe we need to change the directions.”

Life Lesson: Don’t give up.  Change directions if things are not going where you want them to go.

We changed direction and found the store by walking back another 40 minutes. The poor child was completely exhausted but as soon as he saw the store, he started to dance in the street and rushed in.  They  were completely oblivious to everyone around them as they engaged in the games.  Sid was the smallest child in the store full of adults but I don’t think he ever noticed anything else except the games!

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Life Lesson: When you know what you want, you can recognize it when you see it.  

Sid and Jonah playing...

When he was done with playing his games, we sat on the floor of the Apple Store chatting while he ate his chocolate brownie. (Getting that chocolate brownie earlier was another scenario when he made it very clear he wanted ONLY  “Chocolate.”)

Sid - on floor

While we chatted, he asked whether we could go out to buy a drink because he was thirsty. I explained to him that I could not leave Jonah in the store alone because it was not safe.

Sid replied, “He is not alone.  There are so many people in the store.  Why wouldn’t he be safe?”

I told him that I was responsible for Jonah and I simply could not leave him here on his own.

Sid thought for a moment then looked at me squarely in the eye and said: “So, is it yes or no.  Are we going or not going?”

I was taken a bit aback by his bluntness.  He certainly does not operate in  shades of grey.  He knows what he wants and is very clear and seeks the same clarity in others.

“I will check with Jonah and then we will decide.” I replied.

“Why can’t you just decide yes or no.  If you say yes, then we will just all go and if you say no, then we stay.” he said quite assertively.

Life Lesson:   Take charge and make decisions.  Don’t stay in the grey zone.

At that moment, I decided that it was time to  go.  Jonah had no problem following.

I found myself quite intrigued by this young 4 year old “ball of fire” as him mom describes him. He is full of life, full of humour, starts trouble with his older siblings as often as he hugs him and shows affection to them; he is clear and articulate about what he likes and wants as well as what he doe not like and does not want; he asks questions about everything around him and won’t stop asking until he is somehow satisfied with the answer.  I watch him dance when he was happy and not afraid to cry and show his emotions when he was not happy.  He lives in the present moment.  There is no future and no past.

Looking at the easiness with which Sid lives make me wish that I was clearer about my life.  I wish I could make decisions as quickly as Sid does.  I wish I did not have to spend so much time always trying to balance things for fear of hurting others or making sure that everyone is involved in decisions that drown my voice and passions.  I cannot help but wish that all of us never left that beautiful space of being four, where we can  speak what is in our mind and soul because it has not yet been too contaminated with the thoughts and ideas of so many who try to control us in an effort to keep things running smoothly.

  • What are you clear about in your life  in NO uncertain terms?
  • Are you stuck going down a road which has no ending?  Do you need to change direction?  What is stopping you?
  • How do you express your emotions of happiness and sadness; anger and fear; anxiety and pain?  Hurt?
  • Can you forgive quickly and let things go?
  • Can you live in this moment without being too caught in the past and in the future?

Tunein today to that 4-year old spirit you were.  StepUp to live life from that space where you can hear the truth in your own voice.

Love,

Magdalene

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I just can’t help myself – falling in love…with you…

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I have been there helplessly.

I don’t think anyone can give a tutorial on how to fall in love because we simply fall in love.

Some of my friends from various cultures who are reading this are likely thinking, “Magdalene, in my culture, we don’t fall in love.  Our marriages are arranged, we make a commitment and we build a life!  There is nothing like falling in love… this is all crap!” O.K.  got it and I know that this formula works as well!  People who have been married for many years, will also tell you, that staying married and in a long-lasting relationship is about commitment (and sometimes not necessarily happiness).

But if you have experienced falling in love helplessly, you know what I am talking about. It is one of those  things that I find fascinating but which also leaves me feeling a bit baffled because there is something in that experience which is not logical at all but which is exhilarating beautiful and leaves you feeling completely vulnerable.  Worst yet, you can fall in love helplessly with  nothing tangible to glue the relationship together.  Ouch!   My sister Angela, gave some words of wisdom to a young cousin at her 16th birthday.  She said, “You will fall in love but you will need to learn how to use your mind and your heart together!”  WOW, I thought.  How do you train a 16-year-old to do that!

At 16, my parents almost disowned me for falling in love with a man who they would have never considered to be a likely prospect for their daughter. I still remember the day I first saw him, completely intrigued with his hands drumming away at his drums during my first dance class, with a dance group. Did I fall in love with his hands? The drums? His soul rhythm? What happened next had no grounding in anything real – we became entangled in something exhilarating beautiful, led to complete heartbreak a couple of years later but now that I am writing about this almost 30 years later, I know that there was nothing I could have done to stop me or him from having that experience.

What do we fall in love with? A physical look? Touch? Smell? Connection? Achievement? intelligence? Personality?

One person in a powerful position once said to me, “I think the women are falling in love with my position.. not with me.”
Another person said, “Oh they fall in love with my wallet!”

I don’t think that either of these are about falling in love.

Why does one person linger on your mind than any other person?  Even after a relationship breaks off, you still continue to think of that one person who just lighted your life, even for a brief moment.

I wish that falling in love was like traffic lights – tells us when to go, when to slow down and when to stop!

Falling in love does not mean you have a relationship with someone.

Falling in love does not mean that the relationship will last either.

Falling in love does not mean that he will love you back or she will love you back.

Falling in love may mean that you are sharing a past life together and there are still karmic ties that need to be completed.

Falling in love may also lead to everlasting love!

Falling in love is  complicated because we have no control over it!  When we fall… we fall so helplessly.  It makes us so vulnerable! 

Yet, if you have experienced this, you may agree that there is  little more powerful than that indescribable feeling you feel when you are in love…. intoxicated with the sound, smell, taste, feel… of this person, even when you know you can do nothing about making them love you back! If the experience is mutually shared, falling in love is sweet. it is like walking with God where  your energy is so high that  life just becomes more beautiful all around.  You have the ability  right there to invite all kinds of miracles in your life because you vibrate at such a high frequency in the universe.  Just take a look at someone’s face who is in love.  It literally glows!

Why am I writing about falling in love?  Am I in love?

I live in love.  I breathe love. I simply love loving!

But this one is dedicated to my young friend who is in love.  In a recent conversation he shared with me that he is so much in love but does not know what to do. When is the right time to let her know?  How should he let her know?  He said, “I just can’t stop thinking about her!”

My advice – enjoy the feeling.  Tell her. Show her. Take a risk and be vulnerable.  Give it time because she too is vulnerable.

If she returns that feeling, YOU are a winner.  If she does not, YOU are still a winner because you have opened your heart a bit more by allowing yourself to experience such a beautiful emotion.

Now, what if she does not love you back?

Keep on falling in love with yourself!  Keep on meeting new people!  Find a way to love her and let her go because you know that at the end of the day, love is best when it is reciprocated. When two people are not on the same page, it can be quite painful.

When you love yourself, like no one else can… you will be surprised to see how much love you get back in return. You see, you can’t love someone else, without loving yourself first!  And love, is the greatest of all.  By simply finding ways to love and to give love away, you naturally increase your vibration in the universe and attract more love to you.

My friend, have fun falling in love with yourself this weekend! TuneIn to your loving self and Stepup to make every moment of your life, WORTH LIVING!!!!

Love,
Magdalene