Tag Archives: empowered

Dressember in April

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So I told you that you would hear about this whole “slavery” thing again and that it would likely be a recurring theme across my blog from time to time.  Well, here it is popping across your feed again.  Recently it came to my attention that IJM was doing another awareness campaign.  They have called it #stand4freedom & it is a 5 day campaign to let people know that slavery in the modern age needs to end.

I have decided to take this campaign and do a #dressemberinapril campaign since I cannot stand for the whole 5 day campaign.  I have to work. While I do stand a lot when I work I do not stand for the whole time.  So, in lieu of standing all day I will be wearing dresses and writing every day this week.

Here is my epiphany from the last two days…

Christ died.

Christ has risen.

Christ will come again.

He came for ALL of us, not just the few elect and prestigious.

But he also asks what have we done for the least of these.

What have we done for the hurt and the sick.

That what we have done for the least of these we have done for him.

I am still trying to figure out how I can really, actually make a change in the world where slavery is concerned.   I know awareness is a very tangible way to bring about change.  How can you change something if you do not know about it?  So I am making my small step toward making my little part of the world aware of slavery and it’s impact on our world.

This week my classroom of students begin to wade its way into the research project that I have decided needs to be a social justice project.  My students & co-workers will see me AGAIN wearing dresses.  They will again hear me talking about slavery.  They will hear me talk about ways to combat slavery right here in our own town.  I’ll fill you in on that as it progresses. (it will last till the end of May so bear with me).

When I was posting in December the number of slavers was estimated at 27 million.  It is now estimated at 36 million.

I have learned that one of the best and EASIEST ways to combat slavery is to buy from the thrift store.  No money goes back into the store you bought it from or subsequently to the plantation that grew the cotton. AND many thrift stores are local and help around your neighborhood.

BONUS!!

PS if you want to see my pictures from this week you have to head over to my instagram (imacurlygirl), twitter(syndlazo), or facebook profiles.

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Where am I

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So I am embarking on a journey.

I want to be a writer.

I feel called to write.

I will write.

I AM A WRITER!

My daughter is my accountability partner as she is a writer as well.  An amazing one that that.

She is in an out patient treatment facility and has asked that as practice and exposure I write for her blog for the next few weeks.

I have practice writing every day (remember Dressember??) but that was super-hyper focused writing and had a concentrated purpose.  Now I am kinda flailing and not writing because I am not sure what to write, how to write, grrrrrr.

So frustrating.

ANYWAY, everyday is a new day and a chance at renewal.  So you can check me out blogging at cathyterranova.com

19 down ~ 12 to go!

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I have spent the last 3 weeks working Monday through Friday.  I work at a high school, in case you hadn’t noticed from previous blogs.  It’s funny what students notice.  It’s also funny what happens when you engage with them.

I have been trying not to be impatient with my students this week.  It has been hard.  They have been a little squirrelly due to the 2 week break that is now here.  They have also had changes in schedules both here and many times at home.

There are concerts to attend, cookies to bake, projects to complete, unit tests to study for, & so many other things that make this holiday lovely.

Some of my students moved, found out about illness, lost their homes, made bad life choices, forgot about projects, didn’t study for those unit tests, and many other things that may not only make the holiday less lovely but also the life that comes after the holiday.

The last three weeks at work have been good and my eyes have been opened to their conditions in and out of school.

I came to a startling realization this morning when, at 6:00 AM my husband went and gently woke our younger son up so they could make fresh salsa for the cultural experience they had today at school.  Ethan helped his dad make salsa and my mom helped him carry it into his school this morning and give proper storage and warming directions to the teacher for this afternoon.

My children have had that sort of support their whole lives.  They do not know what it looks like to have their safety or well being jeopardized by anything!

While I am fairly certain (notice I do not say 100% certain) that I do not have many students who are held in bondage against their will or who have been sold I am certain that I have quite a number who have not known the certainty of the love and support my children have had their whole lives.

To have both a parent and a grandparent go out of their way to take food to a school party is something many of my students do not understand.

That sort of support allows a freedom to be who you want and to pursue a life of freedom and choice.  That sort of freedom can also be very scary without close conversation about direction and purpose (we make sure we try to give the proper guidance).

What is fantastic is that they have me (and the other teacher and support staff) at our school.  My students share information with me that I can either counsel them on or send them to the right person who will be able to counsel them appropriately.

It is nice to be the person they see and then walk in the room (actually having been looking for me) with a “hang dog” look on their face to tell me something they think they did wrong. It is nice to tell them they are over reacting or that they aren’t and they have a chance to change their direction.  It is also really  nice when I can challenge them to do better and BE better.  I always smile when they call me mom because they have no idea what calling me mom allows me to do 😉 they just trust me enough that they want me in the inner circle of confidence.

I love that I am able to reach them on a different and life lesson level not just on a textbook and test level.

That is what this whole month has been about, so far, right?  A chance for others to have a different life? A chance? A choice, finally? A change?

If you haven’t already check out the change IJM is making in the world.  It has been amazing what the 700 staffers around the world are able to do with the money that people like you and me give to their organization.  This month the dresses you have been watching me wear are similar to a 3-day or a 5-k that other people do.  Mine just last a lot longer! I am wearing dresses so that I can help raise awareness about the 29.8 million slaves in the world and also raise money to rescue them.  I am also spending time in prayer and meditation about their plight and the courage it takes IJM to find them and rescue them. My friend wrote a fantastic holiday meditation book called O Antiphons.  While is it about the holiday the tip that you leave on Noisetrade will benefit IJM as well.  You should check it out!

Will you join me? Hit any of the links above to find out more or to give.  If that isn’t something you can do then I know you can pray. That is something we all can do.  A short simple prayer of supplication for freedom and courage for those who need it most.

Thank you for joining me so far….only 12 days left in this journey!

PS aren’t my students adorable?!

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My 3rd period senior class.

vertigo & understanding bosses

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So last night while I was blogging the room began to spin and my fingers forgot how to type.

This morning I got up and went to work, still spinning.

When students have prepped for a presentation and the teachers isn’t there to see and grade the presentation then some trust is lost between the two. Plus, I didn’t want to write lesson plans! We are two days from a break & I wasn’t feeling bad enough this morning to call in so I went to work.

During first block my brain wasn’t connecting to my mouth and I felt sluggish and dizzy. I had them do vocabulary while I tried not to fall out of my chair.

Luckily 2nd & 4th block were presenting their career research and I just had to grade their work as they presented.

I came home during my planning, (after I finish with students) crept to the basement and slept for 3 hours.

I am blessed (always!!) to have a boss and family that care about my well being.

When I messaged (I had to rewrite the email a few times due to finger brain lack of communication) my boss to let her know I was headed home due to extreme vertigo she asked if I could drive and also to take care and rest.

I have worked at the school for 9 years now.  At my old work, which shall remain nameless, my last boss was heartless (for the record I had more AWESOME bosses there than this last one but he is the one who drove me out!).  I would have to justify absences and it was often easier to go to work and stay for an 8 or 9 hour shift and put up with him than listen to him passively a aggressively complain about my absence. It is so nice to work for a boss who cares.

As soon as I got home my son came out a greeted me at the car to see why I was home.  He also asked to make sure I was OK and to see what he could do to help.  (My boys! I tell you I am raising an awesome pair of men.) My husband and other sone went and got dinner.

Now it is the end of the day.  I am going to work at my second job (I teach online school too).  Then bed.

My vertigo is annoying more than anything. For instance as I look at the keyboard, it is moving back and forth like a boat on the water.  It makes me nauseous. I can’t talk properly.  There are other problems that the vertigo poses too. That is a post for a more lucid time.

What became clear today is that I have options.

I left my old job because I didn’t like the boss.  Is my new boss perfect? No-one is! But is she understanding?  Yes.  She knows I get my job done and take care of my students.

I have choices.  I get to choose to wear a dress to work or not every single day!

Today I made the choice to wear black and white houndstooth leggings, a black and white dress, with a velvet-ish jacket that has flowers on it. I added a green scarf to the ensemble.

I make choices everyday.  Some are good & some are meh. But the point is I still get to make them.  I own them.  No-one makes me do things I do not want to do.

There are so many people in this world who do not have that luxury and many of them are in bondage.  In slavery because they needed to feed their family and this long term solution seemed the good thing to do so their family can be fed. In slavery because their parents sold them due to a promise of a “better” life.  Working for pennies a day unable to see the end of the tunnel, plan for retirement, a vacation, a sick day, a mental health day.

My vertigo changes my day.  I am unable to do things I want to do.

My boss changes my life.  I do not call in sick for random things nor do I call in often.  But when I do I am not afraid to take the day to watch my kids or to heal myself.

Check out what IJM does for people to free them and then after they have been freed from slavery.  A bondage that they could not escape without our help.  My Dressember donation site is a good place to give.  As a collective we are raising $500,000 for IJM.  That money will go to help so many people discover a freedom they may never have known. Of course you can also pray, always, for the enslaved, the people working to free them, and the people who are helping the free in after care.

Just blessed

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So cliche.

At Christmas we say such cliche things.

You can look at and say, “Man, I am so over that!”

Or you can say, “Oh tradition!  So wonderful to have the same things said at this time of year.”

Some may even choose to just go against the whole idea of anything anyone has ever done and say, “Festivus for the rest of us!” (HA! Seinfeld, gotta love some old school sit coms.  They just don’t make them like they used to.)

Anyway, all I have to say today is that I am just blessed.

Blessed to live in the US

Blessed to work for the public school system

Blessed to worship how I like

Blessed to have friends over for dinner in the middle of the week

Blessed to go see movies with my son

Blessed to have 3 beautiful children

Blessed to have an amazing husband

I am just blessed

As cliche as it sounds, I am.  I am blessed! Part of my family just had a fantastic dinner with a family we have gone to small group with for the last (almost) 4 years (in Feb.). Lauren and I have shared so much and our boys are such good friends.  It is nice to have a closeness with a family, share a meal, & a faith.  So blessed.

The thing about being blessed is that many of us have no idea how blessed we are.  We take advantage that things will always be the way they have been. We shouldn’t, we should savor every moment.

I try to remember how blessed I am without being arrogant about it.  I try to look at the gift of life, liberty, & pursuit of happiness I have been given and remember that not everyone has those blessings.

This month I am reminded of that as I talk to people about IJM and my Dressember event.  I ask if they are reading my blog and tell them they should.  I ask if they know that there are 29.8 million slaves in the world today.  When they say no and get that far aways look in their eye, I just encourage them to come here and read about my self discovery.  I hope that they are and that it is ok to not realize.  It is ok to still be learning about the world.  No-one is expected to know everything about everything.  But once you are exposed to it you can no longer feign ignorance.  I am trying to learn and do.  I am trying to teach so others can help too. I am not perfect.  Never will be.  I am not better than others, that’s not my thing.  But I do want to be better than I was last year.  I want to share what I have with others.  I want others to be blessed.

Uncompartmentalize

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In life I have been so busy at times that I compartmentalize my friends and the “church”, “work”, “school”, and so on. Friends never came home with me.  And if the truth were to be told I never wanted to let them in.  I had a full life with my family and the outside friends made the other components of my life nice but I didn’t want to be burdened with them in my home.  They are all excuses because I have now realized that I do need those relationships (well, some of them) outside of their compartments and I like them too.  I am trying to be more intentional now that I know.  Being a good friend is hard when you are also a compartmentalizer. I have to learn to uncompartmentalize in order not to treat people in a manner that I do not want to be treated.

This is the beginning of a blog I wanted to write 7 months ago. Now that I re-read that paragraph I see that I have been a little more intentional recently than I every thought I would be.  I have allowed more people to enter my life.  Like, in a real way not just surface.

In November we had a house guest. Nope, that’s a lie.  We had family come and stay with us for a week.  The reason why I said she was a guest is because, though I call her my daughter, she has never slept at our house before.  She chose us to be her parents after she was well into adulthood and married. She came to celebrate our familyhood for a week prior to the crazy holidays of owning a bookstore.

Having someone stay in our house is not something “we” do (as a family rule).  It allows people to see who we really are and the facade may fall a bit and you may see us for who we really are.  We have had other family live with us and that didn’t go very well.  One of them moved out 4 and 1/2 years ago and now we really don’t speak.  The other moved out and now has a job that keeps her busy so we don’t see her either.  Now, granted they stayed for a year or more….but it still was family who stayed with us and it didn’t end well.

Allowing someone we cared about to stay with us, even if just for a visit, was a stretch.  But, it went well, I think.  She hasn’t stopped talking to us and has mentioned coming back again ❤

We are having dinner guests tomorrow.  That is also a stretch for us.  We are relatively private people after we get home.  We like our space so much we don’t even really know our neighbors.  But we have a meal planned and we are excited to have a family we care about to our house.

I know for myself the compartmentalizing was easy for a long time.

My work was miles away from home and I didn’t really have the same lifestyle as the people I worked with.  I had young children and a mortgage, they were single and lived in apartments.  It was a different phase in life for the people who were in my circle.

My church was a place I went on Sundays only.  The people all worked and I didn’t want to bother them during the week.  I was very involved with my church and loved it and the people but it didn’t leave its cubby hole of Sunday mornings.

If I am honest this way of living is still the easy way out.

Now, I foray out and try to incorporate people into my life. I am finding that my eyes are opening up to the fact that there are things and more important people outside of work, church, home, repeat.

I am seeing that there are needs outside the little circumference that I run around in like a hamster (most weeks).  They are needs that I can fill most of the time.

Dressember has started to help me see more often that I need people just as much as people need me.  We need to support each other outside our out comfort zones.

While you are enjoying what this season of joy and stress has to offer spend a few minutes praying about your compartments. Who do you need to start letting in a little more?

Think about the people who I have blogged about this month who are enslaved and don’t have the luxury of compartmentalizing.  Pray for them. Learn about their plight. Better yet, help our the dressember donation campaign to help release people from slavery.

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It is day 16 and I am more than half way done with my campaign. Make sure you check out IJM and Dressember to learn and support the cause.

A new dress

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I woke up late again.

Seriously, is this a Dressember thing?

Maybe it’s because I am staying up late blogging after my family goes to bed.

They are so distracting during the day.  Wanting this and that.  A girl can’t get a break to write. 😉

But maybe it is just the writer in me that wants to stay up late when inspiration strikes best then the sleep deprived teacher gets up late for work.

Due to waking up late I wore a dress you haven’t seen yet.  I know the dress I wore on 12.13.14 was new but you knew that was coming ;).

Anyway, the dress today wasn’t a new dress it was just one I hadn’t planned on wearing this Dressember.  It is to summery. You know the dress that has the amazing color and is sleeveless? The maxi that wants gold sandals and makes you feel like a Grecian princess? Yeah, that’s the one I wore today.

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Ok so maybe the sitting, the cat, and the c cardigan don’t really show off the princess BUT what you can’t see is the polka dotted leggings OR the polka dotted pink and green fuzzy socks.

Really this isn’t about the dress but I am having fun owning my own quirky style of clothing (or is it I need to have clothes on, quick, what’s clean?)

Today one of the assistant principals said, “I heard you were doing a dress thing?”

We were in the bathroom and I proceeded to tell her all about IJM and their mission in life and the fact that after they rescue the enslaved people they give them after care and make sure they are reasonably safe.  She seemed impressed by that part.  I don’t think many of us give a thought to what happens after.  Are they given a safe place to go or do they just get released to fend for themselves and we all rejoice? Let’s be honest, most of us don’t think about people who are living in slavery every day.  We don’t consider that our clothing may have been made by slaves.  The dress I am wearing in this picture may have been made by slaves.  I am coming to an awareness that most of us to not want to face because it is a hard pill to swallow.  Where did my clothes come from? I don’t like to shop for clothes much anyway but now when I look for clothing I am questioning their origin.

I, like most Americans, buy my clothes on the cheap or at sale prices.  I don’t “have” money to spend on expensive clothes.  But do I have money to spend? The answer to that is yes. Yes I do! Could I work towards trying to spend my  money with more conscience? Yes I can.  It is a choice like every other one we make in the day.

Will you join me in making a choice this month?  Instead of buying something you may not need will you help out my donation campaign?  That is what dressember is all about for me.  It isn’t about all the pictures of me wearing dresses.  It isn’t about my quirky sense of style.  It is about helping to free slaves from around the world.  It is about justice for those enslaved and about helping those who cannot help themselves. Will you help?

The busiest season of all…

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…Is the holiday season.  It doesn’t matter what you celebrate.  I happen to celebrate Christmas in all it’s glory.  We enjoy time worshiping and fellowshipping with family, friends, eating delicious meals together, and of course the giving and receiving of gifts.  My children are old enough to know exactly what they want and usually pick it out.  We have always had a very limited budget on their gifts and have made that clear to them.  We started this when we couldn’t afford much but continued the tradition because we didn’t want Christmas to become a “want” fest or a “pout because I didn’t get it ALL” fest.

This limit means that they sometimes can choose to have grandma and mom collaborate on a gift that may be more expensive than my budget allows. It also means that they can connect money from birthday past or future to get a larger gift.  The limit also makes them very aware of the cost of their toys and the power of thinking about how you spend your money.

Our family has always been a giving family.  We have family in El Salvador that we help on a regular basis.  It is nice to know that they benefit from what we are able to give.  Recently we have also been helping out a family from our community with some basic needs and building relationships. I believe that our frugality in giving to our children (during holidays) has allowed us to save and be able to give to others more generously.

The hardest part of the holiday’s is BUSY-ness.  I hate that we are so busy during this season of the year.  So busy that we wake up tired, go to bed tired, don’t get done what we want to (see boxes of Christmas ornaments STILL in boxes in my living room), and then end up feeling incredibly stressed out and cranky.

I want that to stop.  I want to have an afternoon like I did today.  I went to visit a friend because our boys had a sleep over.  I kept looking at the clock thinking that I had to rush but time nearly stood still for 2 hours. We chatted and laughed.  We listened to each other and chatted with our children.  It was a wonderful rest in an otherwise incredibly busy time of year.

Tomorrow I go back to the grind.  We have 5 more class days left until “winter break” AKA Christmas break for 2 weeks.  That will be filled with busy too.  (I know I will eventually write about that so you’ll have to wait and see what that busyness looks like.)

The best part of all this busyness is that I can control my busy.  My friend at work had nothing planned for the weekend, on purpose.  She decided that she needed to control the busy in her holiday season.  I admire that ability to control the busy.

What if you couldn’t control the busy? What if there were someone telling you when to wake up, when and what to eat, if you could sit or stand to work, and you had no choice but to listen? That sort of busy you couldn’t control.  I know I have said this statistic before but the number kept rolling around in my head, according to IJM there are 29.8 billion people in slavery.  They are kept busy without controlling why or how they are busy.  It isn’t because they are taking children places or making fun gifts for family and friends.  It isn’t because they are working at a job they love.  It is because they are in bondage.  I am trying to help make a difference for people in bondage.  I am asking that people who read my blog this month learn more about modern human slavery, say a prayer for those who are fighting slavery and those who are in bondage, or donate to my giving campaign. I am wearing dresses all month.  This is way out of my character but it is my choice.  I am able to choose to wear a dress.

Please consider stepping out of your comfort zone this month and learning about this human tragedy that is a very real and pressing issue.

What a wonderful Saturday!

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Today began with an alarm that was set for 6:22 PM.  I had a meeting to be at at 7:30 am and a friend who needed a ride to the meeting coming at 7:00 am. ACK!

Still wore a dress though.  Didn’t feel like it and it would have been so easy to just wear some sweats and a tshirt.  It was 29 degrees when I went out this morning.  Not my kind of dress weather.

Got home from my meeting and went to a wedding for a very dear pair of friends.  Such a beautiful celebration of love. I made a point of taking a picture with the bride so you could see how beautiful she was today.

On the way home I had to stop and get gas from the “cheap” gas station.

For some reason, we are always in need of entertainment at every moment of our days.  There is a TV on the gas pump that shows news and other clips of interest.  The first time I saw this I was a little ticked that I couldn’t have the outside noise while I pumped gas, have a few minutes away from the constant bombardment.

Tonight, when I stopped for gas I heard an interesting article about instagram.  Apparently they have a lot of people who use instagram. Try 300 million!

What if all those users took a stand for something they believed in as opposed to making it all about themselves?

I have to say I post pictures of food, my cats, kids, and random tchotchkes.  Every once in a while (when it isn’t Dressember) I post pictures of myself but usually there are other people in the pictures.

I had an immediate thought while I was at the gas station: what if all 300 million people posted about freeing slaves once an hour, a day, a week, or even a month?  What if?  People I talk to are surprised that I am doing this project.  Maybe because it is me or the dresses.  I think it is more because of the slaves.  It is something we teach our children is history.  It is the now story though and needs to be addressed.

I know I cannot save everyone who is enslaved but with your help I can help to rescue one. Go to my Dressember donation site, say a fervent prayer for those enslaved, or go and check out the IJM website to see what else you can do to make a difference.

I know today’s blog wasn’t really moving or an epiphany like past posts but seriously, if we are on social media’s we shouldn’t just play the PC line and “not step on toes” but try to show people how much we can love others and use it to help as many as we can.

I am working on it and trying to be brave by stepping out. You should join me.

Exhausted on day 12

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I am exhausted. Like take a nap at work exhausted (I didn’t BTW). There is no reason for me to be exhausted. None at all, but I am exhausted. I started my day planning my nap.

I woke up this morning so tired. I was also cold.  I stumbled out of bed and to the shower.  Turned it on so the water, warm in the basement, could travel up the pipes, cold from disuse for the past 24 hours, and be moderately warm when it hit my back as I washed myself for the day ahead.  The water covered me with warmth like bed sheets keeping me from the cold December morning. I don’t remember most of my shower. My eyes were burning like I hadn’t slept in days. I felt like the morning after being up all night for finals, a baby who wouldn’t sleep, or any number of other reasons people don’t sleep and feel tired in the morning.

I thought about that nap all day. I left work on time and went to my mom’s to take a nap but instead ended up doing other things. When I left to go get my son at school I napped(-ish) while I waited for him to come to the car. Then headed to target for milk (I have teenage boys,  need I say more?). Finally. I get home and to my bed. A nap!

But that was to be put off so I could help get something from the carport and into the basement. Finally, after wanting a nap since 545 this morning….at 455 this evening I get a nap. A laying down, under covers, pillow under head nap. But I could only rest for 20 minutes because I had a wedding rehearsal to go to.

Normally this sort of day would be one to complain about due to having to cram so much into one day. But reflecting on my purpose this month I have no reason to complain.

I get to choose all of those things. I have the luxury of napping. I have the luxury of buying milk for my children. I have the luxury of attending weddings and celebrating beautiful things.

All of this because of a nap.  I wanted to just nap.  I had the blessing of working with students all day at a job I enjoy.  I could quit if I wanted to do so.  No-one would track me down if I quit.  I would be able to find another job with reasonable ease.  I may even make more money at the new job.  I am truly blessed.

In case you haven’t noticed I am raising money for IJM to free people from bondage.  People who do not have the luxury of showers, warm comfy beds, jobs they want to go to in the morning, weddings to attend, and so many things I often take for granted.

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Today’s dress is a repeat.  I am already deciding what next year’s campaign will look like.  I don’t know if in a year I will finally be brave enough to wear the same dress 31 days in a row.  That is a big commitment with all the holiday festivities and teaching high school.  Making the commitment this year to participate in the adventure has been eye opening and refreshing for me.  I am so glad I am not even half way done and more is yet to come. The writing every day is helping me stay focused to my purpose.  If even one person can be freed during the campaign then that one starfish has been saved. I don’t want to take things for granted any more.

That being said, I am still exhausted and I have another long day ahead tomorrow.  I am going to bed.