Limitless potential

heartbrokenDearest hearts — The spirit is yearning to soar in an endless sky of limitless potential.

This is a message for those of you whose hearts have been broken and have bled from wounds, whether self-inflicted or by others. Divine and sacred vessels, we extend our hands down to you with the fullness of love from the One God who knows and sees all and whose spirit gives you life. Do not be discouraged.

Lift up your hearts to God—the One who loves you unconditionally.

Indeed, many of you have become bitter and hardened your hearts toward one another. There is distrust, anger, shame, and fear. We recognize the suffering and wish to help you be freed from these limitations so that you can experience a fuller range of joy, peace, and love in your lives.

Parama w Sammie at Nancy'sLife is a journey of love.

We understand that the human condition is one of great suffering, for that is what you’ve chosen and created for yourselves, the most impressive and demanding challenge to learn, grow, and triumph, even though there may be a crisis happening, both internally and externally, as a human on earth.

Receptivity and openness are the central themes of our message to you now, brave hearts. You may wish to close your hearts in response to having been wounded, but a closed heart cannot receive the blessing of love. It can only feel pain… death, decay, poison.

We witness your struggles and honor your sincerest efforts to achieve greatness, even while your surrounding circumstances would give you many reasons to relinquish, to remain bitter, to wallow in misery. We remind you, dear hearts, to hold fast to your faith, hope, and love—for yourselves, for each other….

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Faith, hope, and love

portal of time in clouds

You are all destined to live eternally in oneness with the Creator—with everything—all at once. No limitation. Only limitless creation and pure potential: eternal life.

This is a grace that each one of you has the opportunity in every moment of every day to receive through faith, hope, and love. To open your hearts to joy, love, goodness, forgiveness, charity, generosity, purity—the Christ consciousness.

meditation omYes, there have been many great teachers sent down to lead, guide, influence, and model a life of Christ consciousness. Consider their great works: Did they not emphasize unconditional love and forgiveness?—every one of these great teachers and masters throughout the ages, including the great, most esteemed Jesus Christ?

Who among you is really living—today—the way these great teachers taught us to live?

Stop wasting your time, precious hearts!

We can wait for eternity. There is no time. We have eternity; we have everything. We are everything. Who among you is living as if there was no time whatsoever to waste on anything but faith, hope, and love—in each moment?

Every one of you is each other’s opportunity. Don’t miss out!

cell phone towerReaders have written to me recently, asking me to provide a backdrop for the “Ascended Master Readings“—a description of the circumstances of my life at the time of channeling…. Okay, yes… I can do that for you, if it provides a context that gives deeper meaning and significance to the messages of the Ascended Masters. I am dedicated to acting as a channel for these “angels”, and my readership includes those of you for whom their messages are “beaming down” onto the planet at this time. I am honored, and I thank you!

I facetiously employ the term “beam down” (I have been watching quite a bit of Star Trek for the first time in my life), because that is how it feels to me now. As a channel and facilitator for the messages of the Ascended Masters, I not only “receive” the information clairvoyantly (seeing) and clairaudiently (hearing), but I also feel the essence of the messages on a visceral level. This intuitive sense always alerts me that the angels wish to communicate …through me. I think it is no coincidence that where I am currently living has a distinct feature: A tall cell phone satellite tower rises above the landscape and reminds me of my role as a kind of “antenna” to receive and transmit the messages of the Ascended Masters.

1 looking out to seaAs a resident of Belize, a small country just south of Mexico bordering the Caribbean Sea, I have the privilege of access to some of the most stunning, pristine nature on the planet. Belize is a third-world country that has not been pillaged by over-development. Much of the rainforest is still intact, the coastline features white-sand beaches, and the Maya Mountains are home to some of the most diverse flora and fauna on earth.

When I’m not facilitating a retreat at one of the tourist destinations, whether deep in the jungle or on a tropical beach, I am on my own retreat—a writing retreat—where my pen flies upon the paper day and night, at random hours, and I keep myself busy composing, transcribing, and capturing as much as I can into a permanent recorded form. I have friends and family who love and support me in my intention to be a “scribe”, a role that I take seriously and value above all else. At age 39, I have intentionally “abandoned husband, hearth, and home” (as a friend succinctly expressed). Why? To focus, uncompromisingly, on my mission: my service to humanity. Nothing else matters to me.

Sammie with coconutsSammie, a Jack Russell terrier, shares the beachside bungalow with me, where I wake before sunrise to watch as the morning glow brightens to a blaze over the Caribbean Sea right outside my window.

I share this, dear readers, because I want to emphasize that while it may seem that I live in a veritable paradise, it has taken me many years and much personal suffering to “arrive” at what seems like an ideal destination to write and publish the “Ascended Master Readings”. Mostly, it has been a great sacrifice, as I’ve conveyed in my recently published Poetry Collection I: Perspectives, illustrated with photos I took myself, in conjunction with heartfelt poems that tell the story of my life.

At sunset, after sitting all day in front of my computer or at a table writing by hand in my journal, I am ready for some physical movement. I have been jogging barefoot along the stretch of white-sand beach beside a pier that is reportedly over a hundred years old, where pirates arrived and docked on the shore of this tiny colony, previously under British rule, seeking their share of the spoils. As a foreigner in this strange land, I suppose I am not unlike the pirates, in search of something new and exciting and valuable.

cell phone tower 2Over the past week, the daily sunrise and sunset have featured phenomenal and rare cloud formations that have had me racing to retrieve my camera, sometimes just in time to capture the illumination of the sunlight reflecting on the clouds in just the right way to reveal the most unusual imagery.

The light shining through the clouds appears to me as a kind of “portal” – a door opening to a different world, perhaps to Heaven itself. I don’t suggest this jokingly. I believe that the portals are actually opening for humanity’s uplifting, for this is exactly what the Ascended Masters reveal in their readings, which I have the honor and privilege to receive and transmit to you at this time.

Click here to download the Ascended Master Readings.

Thank you.

How yoga works: the relationship between prana, your thoughts, and your chakras

chakras labelledWhat is the real purpose of yoga?

Whether you are a beginning or advanced student of yoga, it is important to understand how yoga works, why it works, and how to maintain an effective yoga practice. There is a relationship between the inner, subtle energy of the body (prana), the quality of your thoughts, and whether your energy centers (chakras) are blocked or open.

I would like to thank my teacher, Geshe Michael Roach, for sharing the teachings presented in this article, which has been adapted from his lecture, “Principles of Yoga: How Yoga Works” given in Tucson, Arizona in 2004.

To fully understand the purpose of yoga, we have to understand how yoga works. First, let’s explore how prana flows through our inner bodies. We have 3 main channels of energy in our bodies: (1) the central channel (sushumna nadi), (2) the left side channel (ida nadi), and (3) the right side channel (pingala nadi). According to the ancient Vedic text, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, there are 72,000 channels in the body, but these three are the major channels. Inside the central channel flows a subtle physical energy called prana, or inner wind. Your thoughts are riding on this energy called prana.

Your central channel (sushumna) starts between the eyes, goes right under the skull and down your back, inside the spine. The spinal cord has formed around your central channel, the ancient texts say, like ice forming around a twig, or like an ice cream cone that has been dipped in chocolate. The central channel goes down to your perineum, which is the base of your sexual organ, whether you’re a man or a woman. The central channel is translucent. It has a crystalline quality to it, and if you could hold it in front of you and see through it, you would see a fiery golden color inside the central channel.

In Sanskrit, the central channel is called sushumna. Su means good. When you repeat it, it means “really good,” so sushu means “really good”. And then mna is where we get the word “hymn”, which means “a holy sacred song”. So, sushumna means “beautiful song.” When prana is flowing freely through the central channel, you have pleasant, happy, healthy thoughts and feelings. You feel joy, generosity, kindness, love, etc. The central channel is the ecstasy channel, the joy channel.

When you have an orgasm, all the wind flows into the central channel and out from the side channels. That’s why an orgasm feels so good, and why it’s highly addictive: The entire world wants it! To have an orgasm is a profound, powerful desire. According to the ancient texts, The only other time you get all the winds collected into the central channel is when you die.

The two side channels of prana run alongside the spinal column, where the central channel is located. The left side channel, called ida nadi in Sanskrit, means “white as a sheep.” The right side channel, called pingala nadi in Sanskrit, came into English as “pink.” It means “a reddish-pink color.” The two side channels are the reason why we have two halves of our bodies: the left and the right side. That’s why we have two nostrils, two eyes, two hands, etc. Our physical bodies have formed around the two side channels of inner energy. The two side channels run down the left and right sides of your body. The two channels follow alongside the central channel except at the nose, where they extend down to the left and right nostrils. Then, they go under your skull, inside your spine, and go down, curve around, and come up at your perineum, at the base of your sexual organ.

Imagine three pipe cleaners side-by-side, representing the three inner channels where prana flows through your body. At certain areas in your body, the two side channels cross over the central channel and then cross back, creating a knot. This knot chokes the central channel (sushumna). Then, the prana cannot flow freely through the central channel and instead gets re-routed into one or both of the side channels.

When the prana is flowing through the side channels due to a knot in the central channel, then you have negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions. The central channel is then choked, and prana cannot flow freely through it. What happens then? You were being kind, nice, and feeling happy. Then there was a traffic jam. You started feeling angry and frustrated. Maybe you had thoughts about cutting the guy off or giving him the finger. Your prana started moving in the right side channel (pingala nadi), in which run our thoughts and emotions related to anger, sadness, and shame. This choked the central channel. Now you are not feeling kind and happy.

The worst place for this to happen is directly behind your heart, at the anahata chakra. Anahata means not struck, like the sound of a drum with no one beating the drum—the sound of your heart. There are three twists around this chakra. This is the only place in your body where the side channels twist around the central channel three times. It is the most difficult chakra to open for this reason. The most difficult thing to do is to love people and to be concerned about loving people.

When the side channels cross over the central channel, that’s called a knot—a granti. When you have your next positive, loving thought, it has nowhere to go, because the central channel is choked. Then, like a clogged pipe, the central channel gets “backed up” above and below the knot. This build-up of pressure inside the central channel causes it to burst! This is what creates a chakra, which means “wheel.” The chakras are caused by a knot in the central channel, resulting in a build-up of prana that spurts out as a wheel.

Let’s consider being in a traffic jam. You are now feeling angry and frustrated. Then, you start having thoughts about cutting people off so that you can get to work on time. Your prana starts flowing through the left side channel, which has to do with fear, greed, and craving. Every time you have a negative thought, it chokes the central channel. In your desire and your anger, you’ve ruined your day, because you can’t perceive anything as pleasant, because of the knot in your central channel. You arrive at work feeling angry and upset. You are easily frustrated and lose your patience easily. You feel especially annoyed with that irritating guy in the next cubicle. You have cravings for junk food. These are all disturbing, negative emotions that result from prana running through the left and right side channels. Your central channel, your joy and happiness channel, has a knot, and prana cannot flow freely through your central channel.

What would happen if you could untie these knots in your central channel before work? What if you could make sure that prana was flowing through your central channel? If you could avoid these knots, what would happen at work? You would have a better day. You would not get angry during the traffic jam. You would have patient, loving thoughts. You would arrive at work feeling happy and peaceful. You wouldn’t feel irritated by that guy in the next cubicle. You would feel creative, focused, fulfilled, and happy.

The purpose of yoga is to release the knots in your central channel so that you can have kind, loving thoughts. If you practice some exercises in the morning that loosen these knots, then your job will change. Your life will change. This is how yoga works: It changes the way you perceive your world, because it changes the flow of subtle, inner energy (prana) in your body.

The heart chakra is the most difficult place to loosen the knot in your central channel. The only place in your body where the side channels twist around the central channel three times is at your heart, where your spine is, where the central channel is coming down. That is why it is so challenging to love people and let people love us. You have to open the heart chakra in order to feel love for other people. How do open the heart chakra? You untwist the three knots! Thus, we practice twists in our hatha yoga (asana) postures. Granti moksha means “to free up the knot.” Twists open up the chakras by loosening the knots around the central channel.

In hatha yoga, there are specific postures (asanas) that twist and stretch the body in different ways. Each yoga posture is designed to open specific energy centers (chakras) in your body.

Classically, there are seven chakras located in front of the spine, from the base of your spine all the way up to the crown of your head. Stretches direct inner wind (prana) out of the side channels and into the central channel. When you practice locks (bandhas) in yoga, you pressurize and direct prana to flow up the central channel, from the bottom to the top of your spine. Linking one posture to the next with steady breathing (vinyasa) distributes the prana evenly throughout all the chakras.

In an effective hatha yoga practice, the yoga postures must be practiced in order. You open up the bottom chakras first, and that frees up prana to the middle chakras, and that lets prana flow to the top chakras. Moving from the bottom chakra gradually up to the heart, throat, 3rd eye, etc. is more powerful than moving down, because you are trying to get prana to flow up to the crown chakra, where you can experience feelings of bliss and ecstasy. But in order to get there, you have to first open up all the chakras underneath. That is the purpose of yoga.

Connecting with nature to regain balance and feel joy

ski chalet

This reader requested a Life Reading to address how he has been feeling lack of joy in his life, a sense of physical and mental imabalance, low energy, and a sense of wanting to define his life purpose.  He writes,

  • What can I do in order to feel more joy in my life?
  • What should I do with my life?
  • I’m feeling totally lost, almost as if I lack the feeling of being a part of a greater purpose.
  • I also wonder about my health. I’ve been going for a few general check-ups, but all seems okay. I’m feeling tired and lack energy most of the time.

The following symbols, images, and other information appeared to Parama in this Life Reading:

  1. The bottom of a foot
  2. A tuning fork
  3. The message, “Go to a chalet in Switzerland”
  4. An image of a succession of people handing down hereditary information in a generational line
  5. The insight that you heard or witnessed a traumatic event while you were young
  6. The following message, “Become a ski instructor. Teach groups of kids how to ski.”
  7. The instruction to sit and observe
  8. The following instruction, “Set boundaries around what you are listening to.” The image that accompanied this instruction was of an ear canal leading to the core of the brain.
  9. The following message, “You move so fast, you don’t give people a chance to see who you are.”
  10. The instruction to walk on rocks
  11. The instruction or guidance to spend less time in the gym and more time lifting heavy things in nature
  12. The guidance to find a job that doesn’t require a lot of driving
  13. The guidance to find a job you can walk to
  14. The guidance to eat root vegetables, such as turnips, carrots, and beets
  15. The message, “Outdoor sports”
  16. An image of a person whose lower body was in the shape of a funnel with energy going down and out the funnel
  17. The phrase, “Kids’ coach”
  18. The following phrase, “Life is so much more than struggling to keep your head above water.”
  19. The following phrase, “Let go of things needing to be a struggle.”
  20. The following guidance: “Putting energy and attention to one area of your life doesn’t have to be at the expense of other areas. Life is a holistic balance. When you improve one area, all others improve equally.”

The following interpretation explains each of these symbols, their meanings, and how this information can be applied in everyday life: Dear Loved One, This reading covers a few general categories. One category this reading addresses is guidance for changes you can make in your daily life: how you live, how you eat, how you work, and what you spend much of your daily time doing. Guidance for changing the outward conditions of your daily life is one category for this reading. A second category that this reading covers is some information about what your underlying needs are at this time and some of the reasons for the physical, mental imbalance, lack of joy, and low energy you’re experiencing. The third category that comes through in this reading is for guidance and encouragement for you to do specific things that will provide healing and can potentially open doors for you in making the kinds of life changes that are healthy for you at this time.

Let’s look at symbol number one, the bottom of a foot. The foot is where your body connects with the earth. The Garifuna, a traditional culture that lives in the area where we now live, believes that the sole of the foot is the actual location of the soul, and that they body connects with the soul through the sole of the foot. The foot is not only the way that the individual connects with the earth, but the sole itself is a symbol of being grounded, being solid, and having a connection with the earth and with all the energy and resources that you need in order to be happy, healthy, and whole.  This is a primary message in your life reading. You are being shown that a major cause of the lack of joy and the physical and mental imbalance, and to some extent, the low energy that you’re feeling is due to a weak connection with the earth and the earth’s energetic field. This is something that you can correct with not much effort, fortunately, and in the following symbols, we will explore how you are specifically being guided as to how you can do that.

The next symbol in the reading is a tuning fork. A tuning fork is used to tune a musical instrument so that it vibrates on the right frequencies and produces harmonious tones when played. Another aspect of what you are being guided to do in general at this time is to tune your life. You are going to bring your life in tune with what your highest guidance sees as your optimal expresssion of your life experience.

Next, we have symbol number three: the statement, “Go to a chalet in Switzerland.” A chalet seems like a good place for you to be, because it could provide you a combination of things that would be very helpful for you at this time. Let’s go to those connecting symbols right now. Symbol number six, the guidance, “Become a ski instructor. Teach groups of kids how to ski.”

Number seven: “Sit and observe.” Number eight: “Set boundaries around what you’re willing to listen to.” Number eleven: “Spend less time in the gym and more time lifting heavy things in nature.” Number twelve: “Find a job that doesn’t require a lot of driving.” Number thirteen: “Find a job you can walk to.” Number fifteen, “Outdoor sports.”

Number seventeen: “Kids’ coach.” And number twenty, “Life is a holistic balance. When you improve one area, all others improve equally.” Our sense is that going to a chalet in Switzerland can help you to make a lot of progress in all of these areas. It sounds from the information in your reading like you are spending a considerable amount of time driving in your car, going to a work situation that fulfills your physical needs but does nothing for your soul, that leaves you feeling disconnected from the earth, where you experience winding up your days feeling physically exhausted and emotionally drained, and sort of looking out the window wondering if there’s more to life  and how on earth you could access that.

The guidance indicates that you would do well to make some radical changes in your life. One of these would be about the way your support yourself, how you make a living. Generally, you’ll benefit from being outdoors rather than inside a building wherever you work. You will benefit from having contact with nature. You will benefit from an environment where you will be drawn toward falling into synch with the rhythms of nature rather than the higher paced, artificial rhythms of man.

A chalet in Switzerland could potentially provide you a work opportunity combined with a living situation that will put you in closer contact with nature. It will take you out of needing to be in your car a lot to go to your job, and it will help you to address the low energy that you have been feeling. We want to help you get your feet on the ground more so that you are in direct contact with the earth. Now, this doesn’t mean that if there is a meter of snow on the ground, that you are walking around barefoot. It means that you are feeling the fresh air, you are directly looking upon mountains and natural feature, and yes, when you can, you are in direct contact with the ground and things from nature.

Eating root vegetables will help as well. Take stock of what root vegetables are available fresh in the area where you live, and I’d encourage you, in place of eating out or eating processed foot at home, go to the market and get a few pounds of root vegetables, like beets, rutebagas , turnips, parsnips, carrots, yucca root, whatever is growing in your area that is available. Take them home, boil them up, and make a delicious vegetable soup. You can eat the cooked vegetables and drink the broth that they are in. This in itself with help you ground, connect with the earth, build up personal energy, and feel more grounded and stable.

I’d especially encourage you to try cooking a pot where you allow the flavor of the root vegetables themselves to come through. You can add a little bit of salt, but try eating the soup with a minimum of strong flavoring ingredients. This is part of the strategy to get you to connect with the earth more. By eating root vegetables, that is a strategy to connect with the earth through your diet.

There is also the guidance to walk on rocks. This is something that you can do as an exercise: Find a natural area near where you live, and it will be important for you to allow yourself the luxury of spending some time alone in nature. I am talking about unstructured time. I am talking about time other than skiing, or teaching skiing, or going on an organized hike. I am talking about time where you can just be in nature one-on-one with the earth, where you can actually feel and connect with the earth.

Create a time and place when you can be out in nature and during that time, I would like for you to remove all your footwear, and simply spend some time walking slowly and gently over rocks. They can be pebbles, they can be medium size rocks, or they can be larger rocks. Just allow yourself to feel the surface, the texture, and the temperature of the rocks on your bare feet. This is an experience that will help you to connect your soul with the earth and to harmonize your internal process with the rhythms of the earth. This will help you to regain the balance that you are seeking.

Why is it important for you to seek balance in your life at this time? Your reading indicates that you bore witness to a traumatic event when you were young. Whether you have any recall of a traumatic experience from your youth or not is of no importance. Bearing witness to a traumatic event as a child is energetically similar to being uprooted, being disconnected from your normal, healthy source of life and sustenance. Helping to bring you back in balance is the guidance in this reading, to connect with nature and give yourself more opportunities to have more direct contact with nature.

Symbol number seven is the guidance to sit and observe. I’d like for you to imagine yourself being outside alone in nature in a tranquil place that you find pleasant. I’d like for you to imagine yourself barefoot, seated directly on the ground, either on some grass or maybe on some rocks. Flowing water is nearby; you can hear it trickling, and you are simply sitting there. All of your senses are open and aware to the subtle wonders of nature. Imagine yourself simply being there with the elements in nature, with no need to follow a clock, no need to do anything, no need to account for what you’ve been doing. Simply to be there.

I’d like for you to put this vision in motion by taking the time to go out and be in nature like I’ve described. This will help to elevate your energy and improve your physical and mental balance. In subtle ways, it will also inform filling yourself with joy and connecting with your life purpose. It is through direct contact with nature that we become clear to the subtle guidance we are receiving from the divine source that intelligently guides all life. Now, let’s turn to what you can do in the company of others when you are in social situations. What can you do that will help you achieve your stated goals?

Symbol number eight is the guidance to set boundaries around what you are willing to listen to, with an image of the ear canal leading to the core of the brain. This symbol is directly connected with symbol number sixteen: A person with a lower body in the shape of a funnel with energy going out. You’ve been allowing yourself to be a sort of dumping ground for emotional toxicity for people. You’ve been allowing people to vent their anger and frustrations in your presence, which is in itself not a bad thing if done in moderation and with respect for your own energetic needs and your ability to receive. However, the symbols indicate that you have been receiving this kind of emotional negativity in a way that enervates you rather than lends you support in building your skills as a pillar within your community.

The reading indicates that you are holding a couple of beliefs that would further enervate you during the course of your daily life. Symbol number eighteen: “Life is so much more than keeping your head above water.” Symbol nineteen, “Let go of things needing to be a struggle.”

Symbol twenty: “Putting energy and attention to one area of your life doesn’t have to be at the expense of other areas. Life is a holistic balance. When you improve one area, all others improve equally.” People in the industrialized world have been taught from birth that they can expect life to be a struggle. They have to work in jobs that they don’t like to get money that they have to exchange for basic things they need in order to live. Industrialized people have been taught collectively that life is a struggle and that it has to be a struggle. You are being encouraged to break free from this cultural programming. You are free to set your own values and find your own way in this life. You don’t have to buy into the general misconceptions of those in your family and those in your community.

The reading is indicating that you should consider a career move and or adding extra-curricular activities that would put you in contact with nature an be in a mentor role. We received the messages, “Outdoor sports” and “Kids’ coach,” along with symbols twelve and thirteen: “Find a job you can walk to. … A job that doesn’t require a lot of driving.” Symbol number six: “Become a ski instructor. Teach groups of kids how to ski.” I’d encourage you to follow up on the ski instructor guidance. Why not look up the chalets near where you live? Maybe you could take a visit to one and check out the programs they have to offer. I think you could find a place where you would enjoy working there, being in a mentor role, being outside in nature, and meeting all of your material needs by having a job that you feel good about that contrubutes to your health.

Symbol number nine: “You move so fast, you don’t give people a chance to see who you are.” The modern industrial lifestyle encourages people to move so fast, that they don’t have the resources needed to form strong, healthy relationships with the other humans in their communities. We believe that this is an intentional part of the design of industrial life that undermines the ability for people to have strong social connections, so they are more dependent on a large, centralized operation for their basic survival.

You are being guided in this reading to go against that dysfunctional social programming by taking opportunities to slow down. Do not be afraid to let people discover who you are by being in contact with them. Give people an opportunity to know you. Give people an opportunity to reflect on what you have to say. Give yourself an opportunity to reflect on what others have to say. Spending some unstructured time in nature, as I have recommended, will actually help to prepare you to listen and to be more present for people in social settings.

Symbol number four: A succession of people who are passing down the same traits to each new successive generation. In addition to having witnessed a traumatic event while young, the reading indicates that you have also inherited the disposition to be encountering the challenges you are facing right now: Something has come to you from your family line that makes these challenges part of what you’re here to work on in this lifetime. It’s helpful for you to be aware of this at this time.

In summary, your life doesn’t need to be a struggle. You can become a living example of balance in body, mind and spirit — a living example of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health — by following the guidance that we have discussed. You can find a more balanced, healthy, and peaceful life by honoring your connection with the earth, by finding a meaningful way to perform your work activities that puts you in direct contact with nature, by activating your capacity to lead and to be a mentor, and by giving yourself a chance to be seen.

-End of Life Reading-

Blessings to you on your life’s journey. Thank you for writing.  –Parama