A Mile In My Shoes 2014

A Mile in My Shoes Scholarship and Photography Show
~ Perspectives and Portraits of a High School Senior ~

We created this scholarship opportunity for incoming high school seniors with the goal of continuing education around the importance of positive body and self image especially as a teen. The idea behind this scholarship is to give applicants a chance to share who they are and why they are important. This is something that will be asked of them often in the future as they prepare to apply for more scholarships and/or jobs. The scholarship combined art show has been a three- part process. Starting with creative writing piece “How you see.” Then each applicant with the photographers designed a photo shoot together “How you want to be seen.” And to conclude the process is the art show on August 7th 2014 at Studio & where each portrait was displayed “How we see you.”

Students from Animas High, Bayfield High, Big Picture High, Colorado Connections Academy, Durango High and Ignacio High participated in Photo Divine’s first annual A Mile In My Shoes Scholarship and Photography Show. Portraits of applicants and an image of their shoes/feet were paired with their creative writing piece that depicts what it is like to “be in their shoes.” The Scholarship winner announced on the night of the show was Kaylynn. The “People’s Choice Award,” a second scholarship that was awarded after this one-night-only show, went to John. Adrianna won our “lucky bucks” drawing for $50.

Adrianna

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I have a lot to say, I also have a lot of shoes. I am the adult in my household, I raised my sisters. Allyson is 13 years old, and summer is 9. They were taken by their mother after my dad divorced her. She abused me, I took all the beatings, all the blame. I fight like mad hell to be treated right by everyone. I found someone who was strong enough to lift all my heavy burdens and love me for who I really am. But now things are kind of a mess and I live day to day hoping I get to see him, just so he can carry my heavy load for a few hours on a Saturday. When he leaves it’s almost too much for him to handle and I take my dirty laundry back and try to hide it well enough that he can leave after I reassure him. That we will make it through this, and he’s gone, and we aren’t together for a whole week again. Same thing every time. I want my sisters to meet him, he is the reason I still sing, the reason I still wake up every morning. After I had a major falling out with my dad, I didn’t know where to go or what to do, but I knew that there is no end for me. I have to do this, I set the positive example for my sisters. I am a role model. I am classy, elegant, yet daring. I set a goal and if I reach it or not, I am not to blame no one but myself. I am selfless. I am not doing this for me, I wake up and say, “This long drawn out process, this is for them, this is for the world. So they know that if I could get through anything and still have a fighting chance, they can too.”

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Hailie

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Wonder

Have you ever wondered about the moon? The deep, majestic beauty of its strange luminescence? Or the peculiar glowing creatures of the deepest waters.

If so have you ever considered yourself as one of those thousands of twinkling stars, or as different as the creatures of the deep? I know I have, but then I realized something; I am not just another twinkling star, for I am as unique and as powerful as the moon. The moon with its strange, eminence glow is me. The luminescence is my soul, shinning brightly, even through the nearly impenetrable darkness, given to me by God, the creator, to be my guide. It is what I shall see and follow through the darkest, blackest of nights. Its craters are woes and sorrows that will dissipate in a world of wonder and dreams. The mighty Everests of the moon are challenges that I will face and overcome in life. They will slowly be eroded away into fine, gray dust; an everlasting reminder of life that can one day be tread on by future generations who can learn from the erosion of my challenges.

The earthy tides, controlled by the alien like forces of the moon are like my emotions; like the emotions of all human beings. Anger, sorrow, hatred and remorse are the tyrannical waves of the tsunami proportions. Love joy, and prosperity are the low serene tides, lapping lazily against the shores of humanity. My individuality and creativity are the creatures lurking far beyond the reach of the tides. They are unique and different.

I am the moon and the tides; for I am an individual with a luminescent soul, like all human beings. I have a tide of emotions, mountains to overcome and craters to fill. I am a human, who is just as unique as the creatures of the deep and as luminescent as the moon.

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Haley

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A mile in my shoes starts with conventional travel.

Firstly, I think you should know how I feel about roundabouts. Sometimes I go past my exit just to relive the past, full circle: roundabouts sell a sense of completion (don’t worry they don’t mind being used).
Miles and miles of roundabouts.

Secondly, how I feel about road signs. To me road signs are symbolic of excess, while I see the necessity for direction in life, I wouldn’t mind if something’s were left to the imagination. There are too many miles of road signs.

The third step is a yield sign in the Denver Metro area. This particular yield, is adorned by a square, white sticker: “EMMA, I MISS YOU”. I hope Emma yields here every time she walks in new shoes.
Miles and miles of many missing Emmas.

Four: I think if  you should realized there are miles and miles of space between where the land meets the sky, where irises meet pupils, and where good intensions meet something else.
Miles and miles of something you ought to start looking four.

There are miles of too-black, asphalt roundabouts with road signs yelling to all the people we miss.
I’ve walked and run and skipped more miles than I know, I hope I never become so serious as to effectively exit this roundabout.

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Kaylynn

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Two years ago, a first impression of me might include basic thoughts of “She’s shy,” “She seems sad” or “She seems angry.” Well, although unappealing, those assumptions were ultimately and unfortunately true. My frame of mind during the beginning of my high school career held that I was a victim of circumstance, and that I hated everyone I had never met. And, through my lack of desire to branch out in a new high school, I found myself feeling more and more alone.

My sophomore year in high school was a year that dealt with extreme changes in my life. I was introduced to new people who, though I never thought this possible, changed my attitude toward the world. With many new supporters at my side, I found myself working through pains and traumas that I thought were not affecting me, and bringing out a side of myself I had no clue I had. That side of me cared to learn about other people and wanted to actually speak to people! I even wanted to join in after school activities, which was another thing I thought I hated. This massive change was strange. Everyone was telling me that I was improving, and I had no idea I was.

It felt slightly funny, actually. I subtly felt pain leave my body in an unheard of way, almost like finally getting to lie down after a long day of being on your feet. At first, there was no relief. Although lying down, I wasn’t satisfied; the ache was still there. But after tossing and turning and positioning myself in all sorts of different ways, I was finally rested. This moment was at the end of a school year, when I let out all of the deep breaths I’d been holding in and let myself be a true version of the new person that I was. The feeling I got from knowing I did so much and worked so hard on solely myself was the greatest accomplishment I could ever experience.

Through everything I learned that school year, the most important and valuable lesson taught to me was that I needed to love myself; I needed to love my natural shyness, my skinny body that I always wish I could change, and my scattered and sometimes unpleasant emotions. I learned that it was okay to feel sadness and to feel uncomfortable, and I learned that it was okay to show people who I truly am. Loving myself came in many forms, and came gleaming with a warm hello. Though loving myself is still not fully developed in my new self, I am absolutely, positively sure that I can do it. I can one day accept the being that I was created to be.

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Morgan

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Your words are like knives racking down my skin
You say I don’t listen
But when have I ever ignored you?
Ignored your feelings?
So the fire that is our love is burning me up inside
My heart is on fire
Shattering into a million pieces
I don’t know if I can be fixed this time
I’m falling apart
Losing my resolve
Because “I love you” can’t fix everything
So why does this hurt so bad?
Because you’re my whole world
I have nothing without you
I know you’re stressed
So am I
So if you don’t listen why should I?
So the razor is calling my name
Begging me to take the leap
To hurt myself
Maybe that’ll show you
If I carve love into my skin
Will you finally see
What you’re doing to me?
I’m a broken soul and I thought you could fix me
I thought you wanted me
Wanted to be with me
So I gave you all I had
What do I have left but messy love poems
And meaningless words?
I fill this page with my feelings but it comes down to this…
My heart is aching
I’m going numb
Because love is fire
It is so destructive
But where would we be without that fire in the sky?
It keeps us alive and well
The fire that warms us when the cold is too much
One day our sun will go out
Fires melt away if you smother them
And you’re smothering me I’m gasping for breath
And you can’t seem to see the ache in my heart
The hole in my chest
Without your love I am nothing
I am cold
The bitter taste I’m swallowing makes me sick
I gag and try to releases this tension But you won’t let me spit out this poison
I’m holding it back
Sacrificing all I have
To see you smile
To see you happy
Alive and well
I am a human being I am imperfect
But you want perfection
And that is not some thing I am able to be
I cry like any other
I have my vices, my downfalls
I say things I don’t mean
And that’s all you seem to absorb
Because when I say I love you the words burn me tongue
Catch in my throat because “I love you” means pain
Heart ache and regrets
But I regret nothing with you
I just want you to see what you mean to me
But you’re blind to the world You shut me out
Make me feel worthless and stupid
And I don’t know what to say other than “I love you”
Because fire keeps us alive
Right?

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Cole

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My name is Allen Cole Crawford, I am 16 years old and I live a very different life. A day in my shoes is very fun, full of hard work, and sometimes interesting. I live on a 70 acre ranch with my parents, and grandparents. I drive tractors, buck hay, and have a cow that I am going to show in 4-H this year. It has been an honor for me to be the fifth generation in my family to live on this property. That is not very common in the world today.

I also am an active member in the 4-H shooting sports. At only 10 years old I became the first shooting sports state champion in La Plata County history.  I have had a lot of success and have met a lot of my friends in shooting.  I won another state championship two years later and then two years later I went on to the national competition. Before I started there wasn’t a very big shooting program here and now almost 1/3 of the kids in 4-H are in shooting sports projects. I have a lot of pride in what I have accomplished in 4-H Shooting Sports.

Now, let me tell you about a day in my shoes. I get up at eight or eight thirty and feed my show cows. From there I will either go help irrigate our field or go back inside, clean my room and do school work. I have home schooled since I was in the third grade. However, I like spending time outside more than staying inside. There is always a fence to build or things to work on in the field. I am learning to weld so I enjoy welding and building things by hand. I love watching things that I put hard work and time into being built, and in a way, come to life.      When I am not working I am thinking about hunting. As a hunter I think about conserving land and managing it so that future generations can enjoy the same hunting we have now. I am always trying to watch for deer and elk populations that come through, and I count how many are in the herd so that I know whether or not I should try to hunt them when season comes. I feel so privileged when I go for a hike or just sit in the hay field enjoying what I have and where I live. Hiking and hunting connect me with the outdoors and the wild animals. I think it is so important to properly manage our forests and the animals. Their lives and habitat are critical to our own.

I also love riding horses and roping. I would love to become a team roper someday. I keep my rope handy so when I have a free moment, and I’m not thinking about hunting, I will go outside and practice roping. My evenings are usually made up of playing my guitar to the radio, watching a rodeo on TV, or spending time with family and friends. I like to stay busy because it makes me feel like I’m working hard and earning everything I have.

I am so lucky to have grown up here in Hesperus, Colorado. I have the drive to work hard, be dedicated and do the right things. Sometimes I view the world as a big scary place, but mostly I see it as beautiful and full of adventure. I take things day by day and try to remain calm as I look ahead and try to plan my future. Occasionally bad things happen, but we can’t be afraid to go forward because the reward is worth the risk. There is so much to take in and learn in the world. I have many great memories of my childhood here, and they will take me far. I look forward to every moment of the rest of my life.

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Yan Yan

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My life has been a cross-country journey around the world and I wouldn’t change a thing. Being adopted just means that I have finally found my way home.   I want to be known as a visionary. My goal is to create something that will be seen for generations. I do not even need the credit, I just want what I do to be awe inspiring and to hopefully inspire others like I have been.   The world is a canvas and I intend to leave my mark. Even if my mark is not permanent, it will still be there and will continue to influence despite being hidden by someone else’s mark.

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Keagan

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This is Me

I know this may sound a little cliché coming from a native Durangoan, but I really am in love with the outdoors. I always have and I always will love the rush of backpacking, whether it is through the thick ponderosa and spruce up north or the scrub oak down south. The way I see it is that they don’t call it the “great outdoors” for nothing. Some people may ask, “But what’s so great about going out into the wilderness with nothing but the pack on your back, and some hiking boots?” My response to that will always be the same: the greatness comes from the freedom it allows us – from the freshness – the crisp woodland air – the breeze that cools you off during a long hike, the raw beauty and glory of what God has created – the untouched freshness of the nature surrounding me – the fact that it’s where I love to be. This is how I see the world, and this is how it makes me feel.

I want to be seen as an outdoorsy, creative and adventurous young man. I don’t particularly enjoy playing videogames and I’m not a huge fan of all of this technology. I don’t enjoy the hustle and bustle of being in a city or around large amounts of people. I prefer being with only one or two friends, either out in the wilderness or riding horses on someone’s ranch. I love drawing and having a great time being active and out where I can explore. I love getting out and about. I love getting high above our little mountain town. Who needs 420 when you can have 14,000? Who needs weed, crack or heroin? I have altitude, adrenaline, and the high of reaching the top of the mountain. This is my drug. This is my addiction.

The outdoors are breathtaking in every way imaginable. They are not only stimulating, but appealing to all of my senses – the smells, sights, sounds, how it all feels is so natural and perfect to me. Even in its imperfections; the twisted, gnarled trees, dead leaves, raw dirt, shattered rock as boulders, shale and scree fields. It all seems so beautiful in my eyes, in my heart, in my soul. Edward Abbey, an American nature writer and environmental advocate said, “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.”  His words really capture how I feel about my sense of place. It shows that a connection to the wilderness is necessary for the well-being of our spirits and souls.

When I’m in the backcountry, what I feel is more than just the thrill of the hike- I feel complete and utter freedom, peace, and a sense of place. To me, a hike is more than just a walk in the woods; it is my connection into the untamed and uncut wilderness, the freshness and crispness of the outdoor air and atmosphere as a whole.

The connection that I feel to the place I call home is far stronger than the connection I’ve ever felt to any city, town, or countryside. When I’m surrounded by pines, junipers, boulders, mountains and more animals and plants than I could ever count or name, I feel like I’m right where I need to be. Sometimes I feel like the over-protective father – only wanting the best for my environment – waiting for the right person to care for it as much as I do. I believe that having been born and raised in such an amazing and natural outdoor environment is what has given me such a deep rooted connection with all that surrounds me including the La Plata Mountain range, the Needles range east of Durango Mountain Resort, and Engineer Mountain to the north. All I hope is that our outdoor environment will have the same care in a hundred years as it does now. I would love for my grandchildren’s grandchildren to be able to hike the same trails and woods as I do now. The memories I have, and the memories I have yet to create are what inspire and compel me to support our environment. Every fishing trip to Vallecito, Lemon, Molas and Haviland bring great memories of my father, my uncle, my grandpa and I having a great day at the lake. The feeling of waking up at 3:45 in the morning to go hunting gives me a thrill every time. Sure there’s a lot to do, and of course I’m barely half awake! But after getting dressed, and loading up our packs for a long day of hiking and hunting, I’m ready to head for the mountains by 4 something in the morning to get out before the elk begin moving around. Whether our hunt is successful or not, it is always the experience that I find most meaningful. I mean I get to spend a full day out in the open, crisp air and thick woods doing what I love with who I love. This is what makes me feel at home. I feel connected in my heart, my mind, and my soul. When I’m consumed by my place, this is where I find my roots.

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‘Ilima

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A History of the Moon
“Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars.” –Les Brown

 I strive to be extraordinary. I strive to wake up every morning and make a difference in this world. Maybe this is a pipe dream or a shout into the void, but I embrace the thought, because I believe that we all have a destination in this life, and how or when you get there is completely and utterly up to you. I thoroughly invest in the concept of “two halves to a whole”. When observing the night sky, which I find myself doing frequently, I allow the moon and the stars to captivate my thoughts concerning this concept. A dark side and a light side of the moon exist, always balanced in the black sky. In the same breath though, they are always changing. On this observation, I have built up my interpretation of my very own generation. I believe there are two halves of us as a whole; the invincible and the invisible. The invincible obliterate blackness and the invisible blanket the world to illuminate the stars.

In my experience, my generation believes we are one of two types of individual. It’s a common misconception amongst the daredevils and thrill-seekers that we will stay young until the end of time. The general populous believes that our taught young skin will stay that way until the day we kick the can. And yes, when that time does finally arrive, the tattoos we opted to ink in during our prime will still look just as badass as they did sixty years prior. We live in the now, because we are invincible. On the flipside, there are the introverts of us, who walk with the invisible. We hide behind masks, shielding us from the great beyond, and take refuge in the security of the bubbles we create, in the hopes we’ll live comfortably. We conform to the masses, because the masses know best, and we live solely due to the fact that we as humans were placed here to do just that. This is plain and simply, how I perceive my generation as we branch out and infiltrate the world. The issue I face consists of where exactly I fit in to this model.

I recognize that my future, sprawling itself in front of me, demands my attention and focus. School drives me forward to obtain my goals, and I am determined to aim high. In the same breath though, I am determined to make a difference. I strive to leave my mark on this world. You see, I see the world as the invincible and the invisible. This is my perception, and yes, it’s an incredibly biased one, but its mine. The issue I face on a daily basis lies with where exactly I fit in to the system I’ve mapped out. I see the extremes because, after all, I am a tiny piece of my generation. I see the invisible fade into the abyss, and I see the invincible push the limits past self-destruction. Regardless of whether or not the path I’ve chosen for my future faults, I believe in making a difference. I believe in leaving an imprint on this world; one that will benefit future generations and inspire the masses. The moon, a luminous orb that contains daunting amounts of power, inspires my outlook on my generation, and in turn, my future; because there are two halves to every whole, a balance that demands to be felt. So therefore, I’ve decided to bypass the entire grand scheme I’ve created and reinvent how I fit in to my own theory. No matter what my future holds, I, ‘Ilima Rose Umbhau, will be neither invincible nor invisible. I will shoot for the moon, and if I miss I will be among the stars, and I will be extraordinary.

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John

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Take a Walk with Me

Before you can walk a mile in my shoes, you’re going to need to ask me a few questions about myself, and the first one might be:

Who are you?

My names: John, Johnny, John Boy, Long John.

Where I am from: Parker, Colorado.

What I look like: Tall, Lean, Brown hair, Brown eyes, Big Smile.

My personality: Bright, Happy, Friendly, Calm, Collected, Funny.

I have been told that if I were a color, I would be Lime Green, and if I was a month, then I would be July.

But all those adjectives don’t answer “Who are you?”; they’re the answers to a different question: “What are you?”

So, Who am I?

I am a Musician, an Athlete, a Student, a Sharpshooter, a Cow Whisperer, and lastly, but perhaps most importantly, a Gentleman.

I have adorned these titles so that you can better understand who I am, and what I represent as an individual.

I am a musician. I have played the piano for eleven years, and played concerts in the Denver University Concert Hall as early as the age of 8. I earned a Superior rating during the Solo and Ensemble Contest here in Durango.  I play in the Durango High School Symphonic Orchestra as the Second chair String Bassist, and have helped the ensemble earn the achievement of being the only High School Orchestra in our region to be rated as a ‘Superior’ group.

I am an athlete. I have been on the High School Track and Field team since my freshman year, and last year was my best year by far. After dealing with a knee injury from earlier in the year during wrestling season, and then knee surgery, I managed to set personal records in every event that I competed in. At the League Meet, I took 3rd place in the 110 meter High Hurdles, and 7th place in both Long and Triple Jumps. Being voted the Hurdle Team Captain was just an added bonus, and helped boost my confidence in my abilities. I made some major leaps (pun intended) towards my goals as an athlete, and even if I hadn’t won those medals and ribbons, I would have been satisfied that I did better than ever before.

I am a student. After moving from Parker to Durango, I decided to make a surge in my academic career. So, during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of 8th grade, I pulled through with straight A’s, which for me was a huge achievement. Last year I was awarded the CHSAA Academic All-State Honorable Mention award, which means that I maintained above a 3.3 GPA while participating in school activities. I have taken advanced and accelerated classes since 8th grade, and they helped me prepare for taking AP classes in High School.

I am a sharpshooter. I got my first rifle when I was 11, and it gave me a base for my shooting abilities to grow. I have been in 4H since I was 9, and it allows me to practice and shoot competitively against other shooters in my age group. I really started focusing on shooting sports two years ago, and since then I’ve done extremely well. I have been on the La Plata County State Shotgun and .22 Long Rifle teams for the past two years, and earned an ammo pouch for being the ‘Most Improved Shotgunner’ of the year in 2012.

I am a cow whisperer. Ever since starting 4H, I have had a market beef project, and for some reason I always connect with my animal(s) and work well with them. I have 3 younger siblings, and now they also do market beef projects in 4H, and so whenever they need help catching or walking their steers, they call me. At the County Fair, I have had people come up to me and ask if I can help them walk/wash/trim/fluff/spray/hold their steer, and if I can, I say yes. I’ve had neighbors come to me, asking why my animals are almost always calm, and I can never give a direct answer. The steers and cows are just calm around me, and I can’t give a reason as to why they act like that; they just do. I have won many Showmanship awards during my 8 years of 4H, and I think the only reason I do so well with showing my animals is because of how I connect with them.

I am a gentleman. I have been raised by two career military professionals, and they have taught me how to be respectful to people, as well as how to be a respectable person. They taught me how to have manners and be considerate, as well as the value of hard work and communication. I am proud of being a gentleman; it’s a choice. It is how I choose to present myself to the world. Regardless of who I’m with, what I’m doing, where I am, and when it is happening, behaving as a gentleman allows all situations to be the best they can be. It requires self control, the ability to see the big picture, and being aware of your actions and their effects on others. Being a gentleman requires one to be a bit more selfless than most people are willing to be. I was given the Citizen of the Year Award by the Marvel Grange in 2012 for my acts of service to the community that I am a part of.

But none of this just fell into my lap, nobody just handed any of this to me. I had to work very hard to get to where I am today, to be able to say these things about myself. I’ve spent thousands of hours playing the piano, gone over hundreds of hurdles, read many books, shot tons of lead down range, spent countless hours with my cows, and met many people. I wake up each morning with all of these titles, and I get to decide whether or not I’m going to be dynamic or static. Will I just go through the routine and stay the same? Or will I work hard to get better, and possibly make another title for myself?

My goal as an individual is to be successful. In my mind’s eye, you don’t have to make six figures to be successful; I believe that being successful is doing the best you can, no matter the circumstances. I’m not holding myself to anybody’s standard but my own, so that allows me to be the judge on whether or not my last attempt was good enough, or if I should saddle up and try again. I believe the reason I have been successful in so many things in my life is because I strive to be the best at what I do to my standards. I know I can’t be the best at everything. I don’t want to be the best at everything, because if I were, then I would have nothing to learn, nothing to challenge myself with, and I find that would be quite boring.

So if you think walking a mile in my shoes is going to be a stroll through the park, then you couldn’t be any more wrong. The standards are high, and I take the path less traveled, so lace up your hiking boots, because we’ve got a long way until we get to the top!

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Ashley

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I don’t stand out. Why should I? I wear no makeup, geeky tee-shirts, and old, faded jeans. I’m just some plain jane.  But if you stop and talk to me, get to know me, you’ll discover something new.

I love to sing and dance and act. My imagination is as boundless as a child’s. My soul is that of a wise woman. My love is as strong as a mother’s for my friends and those close to me.  I may look ordinary but get to know me, and find that I’m anything but.

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