Monday, September 9, 2019

LIFE OF A POET ~ HEATHER HENNENBURG

We have a really special story for you today, my friends. One of our newest members, Heather Hennenburg, really caught my attention when I read the name of her blog, and its description:  H HENNENBURG: A home for truth, joy and wonder. Wonder is what keeps me in thrall to the beauty of this world, so she is a poet speaking my language. As always, her story blows me away. This is what keeps me hooked on doing these features. Every poet's life is so amazing, and there is nothing I love more than stories (other than wolves and dogs. Smiles.) Plus, she has dogs!!! Bonus! Heather prefers to be called H, so that is what we shall call her. Smiles.






Sherry: H, it is so nice to be chatting with you. First, tell us about the truth, joy and wonder. I love that outlook, having lived much of my life in a state of wonder.

H: Hi Sherry. I was delighted with your invitation and appreciate the opportunity to wonder with you and this great community at Poets United. About my name, I prefer to be called "H". The woman who mothered me and the woman who married me call me "H" and that is where my heart is at home. :-)

I believe that truth, joy & wonder, among other things, are experiences that unite us and in ways that can uplift us and move us forward. And I’m using these terms in their larger senses. So, I’m exploring what might be universal truths beyond the minutiae of everyday life. Truths that centre us, bring us into balance and guide us to a loving worldview. And joy, in my view, is a great deal more than mere happiness. It is the feeling you embody when your thoughts, beliefs, circumstances, words or actions are consistent with what is true. 

And then there is wonder which, when practiced, opens our minds and hearts, inspires new creations or solutions, helps us understand each other and ourselves, moves us to care about things outside ourselves and deeper within. It helps us discover potential we wouldn’t otherwise know we have. My hope is that some of my writings on these themes might inspire curiosity about interconnectedness and possibility and the value in seeing ourselves in each other.

Sherry:  I could not agree with you more! Tell us about yourself, won't you? Where on the planet do you live? With whom do you share your life? (Don’t forget the pets!)




Romy and I on a ski day on Cypress Mountain


H: I would never forget the pets! I have the great privilege to live in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. I share life with my wife who is incredibly funny, intelligent, kind and cosmically bonded to every furry being. Speaking of furry beings, we are occasionally granted some space on the couch by our two precious pups. 






Tupelo admiring the wildlife
on Saturna Island


We have a husky mix, Tupelo (“Fur Pants”), whose favourite catch phrase is “I do what I want.” 




Finnegan reminding us
it's time for his afternoon cookie

Then we have a Formosan mix, Finnegan (“Love Sponge”), whose favourite catch phrase is “grrrr”. The irony is not lost on us.




Flyer keeping an eye on me

And I have to mention my canine soul-mate, Flyer. She was with me for 15 years. Sweet, soulful, sensitive and ever watchful…those blue eyes! So grateful that I got to be her person.

Sherry: Such beautiful doggy faces! The "treat" face especially knocks me out. And, as you know, I had a wolf-dog soulmate too, so I completely understand what Flyer means to you. Sigh.  

When did you begin writing, Heather? What came first, poetry or prose? What do you love about poetry?

H: I started writing songs when I was about 11. Apparently, I sang in my crib before I could talk, and I always loved music. I really wanted to write good songs, so I resolved to keep writing bad songs until something I liked emerged. I became very passionate about writing songs, and it wasn’t long before I was equally enamoured with writing poetry.

Sherry: Wow. That is cool. Was there someone in your life you believe had a significant influence on your becoming a songwriter and poet?

H: Absolutely! My grade 7 English teacher was a very important figure in my life. She gave me and my classmates lots of opportunity to write. More importantly, she gave me a great deal of encouragement, and spent extra time with me when my home was troubled. She gave me a sense of stability and self-worth and she believed in the value of my writing. I think that probably solidified my life-long habit of turning to verse to express those things that feel otherwise beyond words.
 
Sherry: They say it only takes one adult believing in a child to encourage and ensure their success in this world. She sounds like a wonderful mentor.


Your About page states you are a lover of prose, poetry and song. Tell us about your music.




A much younger me singing with
The Artie Ball Swing Band


H: Music is always swirling around in my head. I write more poetry than songs at the moment, but there are times in my life when the opposite is true. I’ve written different styles of music, but the work I’m most proud of are the tangos, bossa novas and cabaret songs I wrote with my dear friend, Steve. We met when we both played with the Artie Ball Swing Band. Steve and I formed a second band under my name with other members of Artie Ball, who then also collaborated on the songs we performed together. Those moments, the people and the music will always be one of the best highlights of my life.

Sherry:  How wonderful, to have created and performed music with fellow musicians. I think there must be nothing more fulfilling. You have an interesting career, H. Would you tell us a bit about it?

H: In addition to writing, I also work as a life coach and focus on helping outside-the-box thinkers who have a strong sense of purpose and drive to make a positive contribution to the world. I lean on my belief in the power of truth, joy and wonder in my work as a life coach, and I generally strive to inspire curiosity, courageous choice and committed action.

Sherry: That sounds like extremely rewarding work! I am impressed.
When did you start blogging, H, and has it impacted your work?

H: I just started my poetry blog this past May. It was a major celebratory act for me, as I was utterly unable to write poetry, as recently as a year ago, and for all the preceding 5 years. 


This was due to debilitating after-effects of cancer treatment and subsequent brain injury. There were days I had difficulty preparing a simple breakfast or remembering how to cross the street safely – writing was a non-starter. I was very tenacious about finding the right treatment, and once I did, I worked hard at it. Early this year, I felt like my brain really started to come back on line. 

Now I’m living a normal, active everyday life and I am able to write! That is a gift of fulfillment I never imagined I would have again. And to have found this community at Poets United, to be able to engage and interact with other poets, has truly meant quite a lot to me. It pushes me to keep honing my skills, challenging my brain and opening myself to inspiration.

Sherry: H, what a story! And what an accomplishment! Good for you, working so hard on your recovery. We are so happy you found us at Poets United. I remember when I found it, in 2010, it literally opened the world of online poetry to me. It changed my writing life. So welcome aboard!   

Would you choose two or three of your poems to share with us? If you would like to say something about each, please do.

H: As you asked about my music, I thought I would share one of my songs, if that’s okay. This one is called Waking and is the title song of a musical I was once trying to write about the true inner self seducing the heart and mind away from the trappings of the false outer self.




Waking

It’s not too late
it’s not too late for us
I still can feel you dancing there

Inside my heart
where the flutter always starts
when you don your red shoes

And back in time, my love
you don’t remember, but I do
you were my joy
and I was yours
and I can hear it calling, calling you

CHORUS:

So say goodbye
to everything you know to be true
and whisper to me gently
of all the passions in you
say goodbye
and forever let desire say yes
to the love that you deny yourself
and the heart that steals your breath

Where do you sleep?
Do you creep into
the shelter of my longing?

And when I open up to you
do you feel it waking too
outside your dreams?

‘Cause before time, my love
you don’t imagine, but I do
we were enchanted
and now it’s in our dreams
and I can hear it calling, calling

Chorus

When night has gone
And the dawn is all aflame on the horizon
Do you seek your fortune there
Or are you unaware how deep love burns

How deep inside, my love
You don’t surrender, but I do
And time awakens
And I’ll be yours
And you will always hear me calling, calling

Chorus 

_____

Sherry: I love this! How wonderful to hear you singing! Your voice is so full of life and good energy! Thank you for this treat!

H: You know how you can be just going about your business and suddenly you feel the presence of your next poem – and you know that muse is just waiting for you to sit down and write. This is what ensued in one of those moments. A very direct interaction with that sudden spark:

Genesis In Motion

Oh, you are a sliver of impish delight
In this cave of my endless toil and reaching
Ever flexed and outstretched
My arms seek you
Fingers grasping
Great paw-like swaths through the dark
I rip and claw
For just a hint of you
You are my joy
And my single temptation
My genesis in motion
The dance of my living, and
Oh, how this cave is alighted by you
Wholly righted by the infinite swing
From toil to dream and back again
We are life in its making
Hurtling through space and time
Enraptured by now
This one tour of the universe
Here inside this rock
This moment of dense matter
No labour nor chase bind
For I am your impish delight
And we are tethered
By a mutual charge for being

___

As much as I love words, I sense there is something beyond words that is the most real thing of all. I love being in direct experience with that. Love, music, art, animals, absolute immediacy. A oneness that can only be experienced beyond words.

Reach

Nothing beyond words is ever out of reach
If I am inside a dream, inside a life, inside a plane of existence
Then I am inside you, swimming in the pool of all that is I AM
And the world swims inside me
And we are, none of us, out of reach

Sherry: Your  work carries a very affirming message, H. Thank you for sharing these gems with us.


What other interests do you enjoy, when you aren't writing?

H: I really enjoy woodworking, something I inherited from my grandfather. My wife and I are currently transforming an old shed in our backyard into a woodshop. I’m very excited about it. I also enjoy reading – I usually have 2 or 3 books going at once. But my favourite activities are traveling and doing anything with my wife and our pups.





On one of our road trips,
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California


We road trip down the Pacific coast each year, visiting lighthouses, standing in awe of the redwoods, and I take photographs and draw up plans for new creative projects. Last year, I took the opportunity to study a little Spanish as we cruised down the road. It’s a great time to just follow whatever inspiration arises.
Sherry: It sounds wonderful. That coastline is so beautiful! I have done it twice, Back In the Day! 

On one of your posts, Hope Is Not Passive, you said "hope is investing in life." I love that. How can we hold onto hope in times that are as discouraging as these?

H: My piece, Hope Is Not Passive, addresses the importance of the frame of mind from which we choose our responses to the world. I was inspired to write this piece when I kept hearing people respond to messages of love for life with statements that seemed to imply, “don’t love life, don’t get attached, don’t hope.”

I think people are afraid to hope. People are in pain and they feel betrayed by choices others are making that negatively impact our world. To hope is to open oneself up to the possibility of more pain. But that is only one aspect of hope – one that focuses on outcomes. There are other aspects of hope.

Hope is about how you courageously go about being your loving self in this moment of life, right now, today. This hope recognizes that what we make of life today matters, even if there are huge losses tomorrow. And this hope is the only way we have to truly influence what tomorrow brings. When we operate from a stance of hope – being present, investing in life rather than investing in fear – we create in-roads and opportunities; we spark ideas and ingenuity that never would come about otherwise. Believing in possibility is pre-requisite to inspired action.

I think that is what we have to bring to bear if we want to bring about change. Even if that change does not always lead to the exact and full solution that we want. We must not feed ourselves hopelessness so that we then feed only hopelessness to the world. Those of us who feel discouraged by others’ carelessness must stop saying, “but sadly,” and start saying, “I’m here.” Because it matters that we are here. WE love. And WE care. WE are our hope. There are people and animals and a whole living planet that need loving action, regardless of outcomes. It is the only thing that matters - especially if the outcome is not what we want.

Sherry: Well, you have said this so well, you have increased MY hope exponentially! DO keep writing this message. The world so badly needs to hear it.

Wasn't this an amazing visit, friends? Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


40 comments:

  1. H, Romy and you make such a stunning couple. And goodness, your pups are adorable, too (such pretty eyes!).

    I love hearing that you reclaimed your-Self after cancer treatment. I am still in the very early stages of the same, and as you might know I am still very tired. I yearn for the day when I will wake up and not have to coach myself into exercising or writing or... heck, some days, getting out of bed! I showed my Piano Man the bit about you crossing the street. He worries about me and my walking stick, about me and my exhausted limbs waiting until the walkway is free before crossing a road (my balance is still messy). I showed him that you are better because I wanted him to know that it does get better (or, we'll find a way to make it so).

    I love so many things about your experience, most of all, I love seeing that it didn't leave your heart hopeless or put a cloud over your smile. You shine, my friend. And that is wonderful to see.

    And yes, yes, YES! hope is not passive, neither is recovery (or poetry or storytelling or music or living...).

    Sherry, thank you for a fantastic feature.

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    1. P.S. "Waking" is delicious. I'm adding it to my warmup dance, before starting my trampoline run!

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    2. I am certain you can relate very much to H's journey, Magaly. Judging by her energy and the light in her eyes, she is proof it does get better. I am glad you find some hope and inspiration in her story. As you are so positive yourself, I trust your outcome will be the same.

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    3. Magaly, I know if my soul you are as tenacious or moreso than I am, so I know you will make it better. It is incredibly frustrating at times, because they don't really tell you going into treatment how long it will be after treatment until you feel truly well again, a year or more. But it sounds like you're taking it head on. I love that you have your Piano Man at your side. I always love seeing the true love between you in the pics you share now and then. That makes me happy that someone will be dancing to my song - especially someone with an incredible spirit like yours. Big hugs to you!

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  2. Thank you for this, Sherry. That was so much fun! Hello, Poets United friends. I am on the road today, crossing Vancouver Island, heading into breathtaking Tofino. My connection might be spotty here and there, but I promise to check back in whenever the connection is strong. Have a wonderful day! :-)

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  3. Welcome to Tofino, kiddo. I have arranged no rain for you today. Enjoy. LOL.

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    1. It's a gorgeous day. I'm not surprised you have such power in the natural world!

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  4. This was the delightful dose of positivity I needed on a Monday! Thank you for giving us a peek at some of the inspiration behind your optimistic style. Your discussion on hope warmed the spot on my heart that is apt to soreness due to some of the awfulness of this age. And I love how that joyfulness effortlessly swings into passion in Genesis in Motion and Waking (that is an awesome song).

    Also...OMG...another Ro(m)my! (LOL, my folks named me after Romy Schnieder, but for some reason only known to them, they decided to add an extra "m") Say hello to her for me. It's always nice to hear of another person with the same name (I'll bet she never got key chains or other novelty items with her name on it either).

    Safe travels, and give the puppers some belly rubs for me when you get home to them!

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    1. I'm so glad you found needed warmth in my words, Rommy, as I so often find the same in yours. Romy is at my side driving, and we had a good laugh about the coincidence of your names. I assumed yours was pronounced differently because of that extra "m" - maybe your parents just wanted to keep people guessing. The really funny coincidence is that Romy's grandmother suggested the name...also after Romy Schneider! And Romy now wants to make you a keychain as, yes, she feels your childhood pain! Sherry's quite right, the pups are along with us. If we didn't bring them, they would mutiny, and I'm not sure Sherry would agree to meet us if we didn't bring her some puppy love! ;-) We'll be sure and pass out the belly rubs on your behalf.

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  5. I think the puppies are coming with. I hope so, as I have some treats waiting for them, lol.

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  6. What a wonderful treat this interview is! I love it all – the song, the poems, the chat, the doggy faces, your wonderful smile H, and Romy's wonderful smile too.

    I've enjoyed your poetry since you began sharing it with Poets United, and it's great to discover the vibrant person behind them. Bravo for your determination and recovery, and hooray that you can write again!

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    1. Thank you so much, Rosemary. I enjoy your work immensely too. It is such a special gift for all of us, I think, to be able to share and enjoy each others poetry. Thank you for liking my song as well. It has been years since I shared it with anyone.

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  7. H., I really have gotten to enjoy your poetry when you have posted in the pantry; so seeing this interview and learning more about you is a wonderful treat. I like some of your thoughts as expressed in this interview. I hadn't thought about it for a while, but I do think you are right on when you say that often people are afraid to hope. And nice to consider that nothing is out of reach. I think oftentimes we have hopes and dreams when we are very young, but seem to lose the ability to hope and dream as we age. Your words reminded me that hoping and dreaming is for all. As Sherry said, your work carries a very affirming message. Nice to read such hopeful words in these challenging times. A dog lover myself, I enjoyed the pix of your dogs. You ad your wife seem to have a wonderful life - involving a lot of travel as well. I will continue to read and enjoy your poetry. Thanks, Sherry, for a really nice interview once again.

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    1. Thank you, Mary. I find your poetry very inspiring and I love the pics of Violet, Basil and Tulip on your blog; though I must admit I get distracted by their cute little faces sometimes when I'm trying to focus on what you've written. Nothing personal, but just look at them! I know you understand. Yes, hoping and dreaming is for all. And I find it fascinating to observe the changes in what we hope for as we age and when circumstances change. Give those pups a scratch for me, please.

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  8. My pleasure, Mary. I so enjoyed putting this together, and it is amazing that I will soon meet the poet in person! THAT doesnt happen often!

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  9. So, we have just arrived at our campsite in Ucluelet (Tofino adjacent for those of you who don't know), and were greeted by one of the locals, a beautiful black bear...who, I hope, will keep his distance. Sherry, did you arrange that welcome wagon? :-)

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    1. Oh my goodness. The critters are hungry these days! Hope he goes home. You must walk the Wild Pacific Trail. You can see the Broken Group Islands from the trail and there are wonderful old trees all the way along. It stretches a long ways in both directions. Have fun!

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  10. This post is pure joy to read and listen to … Beautifully rendered lines of poetry/lyrics … The song is totally COME-DANCE-WITH-ME awesome … I LOVE … LOVE … LOVE the music AND What a splendiferous voice you have H !!!

    Your story of courage and triumph and soaring and love is wonder full. Thank you so much for this fantastic and fascinating share, Sherry and H.

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    1. Wow! Thank you, Wendy. I don't think it can get better than "COME-DANCE-WITH-ME awesome." Much appreciated and I'm glad you like it. And if you can't turn adversity into a good story, then what the heck are we doing here anyway? :-) I really enjoy your poetry - the imagery, imagination and the details of life you hone in on and bring to our attention.

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  11. You are so welcome, Wendy. Maybe you will make it over here for a visit one day. Smiles.

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  12. Each year, we seem to get a little less mobile than we were the year before … Eeech … the seventies, sure aren't the days-of-liberation I remember them being … the first time I went through them, 50 years or so ago ~ lol ~ but never say never. We may just get across that creek again, yet.

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  13. Thank you so much Sherry and H for this interview - I feel I know H well. I particularly like the way she explores ‘universal truths beyond the minutiae of everyday life’ – how can one not get joy and wonder from that? The dogs look so friendly and happy, and I love their names. Tupelo reminds me of one of my favourite songs by Van Morrison, ‘Tupelo Honey’ and Finnegan is just so Irish! It’s interesting that you were a songwriter first, H; my husband wrote songs for years and has recently tested the water with a couple of short stories. I’m listening to your song as I write this, and really enjoying it! I’m heartened by your strength and courage in the wake of cancer and a brain injury. Poetry is a great healer – which is implied in your poem ‘Reach’.

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    1. Tupelo is named for the honey that the song references. It is said to be extra sweet, so it suits her. Once in a while I play the song to see if she notices her name coming from the speakers. But this is Tupelo we're talking about, so likely she does hear it but will never give me the satisfaction of knowing that - our little jester. And our "Irish" Finnegan is actually a rescue from Taiwan. I think we gave him a bit of an identity crisis. How fun it would be to hear your husband's songs and how lovely that the two of you share the writing bug. Thank you for your kind comments, Kim, and may poetry continue to see to our wellness.

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  14. What a wonderful talent you are, H! The gift wrapped within you just keeps giving! I enjoy your writing.... sensing that your words are just the tip of an iceberg of wonder. My German Shepard, Zeus is quite intrigued by Tupelo and Finnegan. I’ll raise my coffee cup in a toast to Flyer. May she continue to chase rabbits in the sky❤️

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  15. Oh, I love Vivian's comment, that the gift within you keeps giving. A lovely thought, and true.

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  16. Thank you, Vivian! How very kind. Oh, we love German Shepherds. Please give Zeus a good scratch for me. And thank you for toasting my sweet Flyer - how did you know she LOVED chasing rabbits?!

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  17. What an amazing interview and an opportunity to get to know this talented poet and singer! Thank you to you both. Sherry for this wonderful feature, and H for allowing us a glimpse into your life and work. H, I really enjoyed reading your story it’s inspiring, and rich with beauty and love. You and Romy look stunning and happy, and your pets are simply adorable.

    I’ve been admiring your poetry since I discovered your blog. And your message about hope “Believing in possibility is pre-requisite to inspired action” is both powerful and encouraging. Your voice, what can I say! It’s a delight to hear you sing. And, and...I’m still at awe with your spoken word skills, I've listened to your poem, Heart Open, quite a few times.:) Thank you for your positive message.

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    1. Thank you so much, Khaya, for your thoughtful comments. I am indeed very fortunate for my life to be so rich with love. Thank you for listening as well as reading. I am working on another spoken word piece - it seems to be taking me longer than the last one. But it is encouraging to learn how much you liked the first one I posted. Thank you for being so supportive of everyone. It is beautiful to see how you balance commitment to yourself and others. And your poetry knocks me out!

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  18. What a beautiful story, spirit, music, poetry, love.. I too suffered a brain injury. It awakened poetry and brought me on a journey of dealing with a different person than the one who entered an intersection to be hit by an 18 year old texting. Thank you Sherry and Heather for bringing us this incredible interview. It certainly blessed my day.

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    1. Susie, I can so relate to that sensation of finding yourself - your own self - to be a different person after brain injury. I'm truly sorry you had to go through that and I hope your recovery efforts found as much success as mine eventually did. Thank heaven you are writing your beautiful poetry. As healing as it is to the souls of your readers, I can only imagine what it must do for you.

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  19. So glad you stopped by, Khaya and Susie. Happy you enjoyed this visit. Susie, you have made such a journey - your brilliant poetry is informed by it. Thanks for weighing in, kiddo.

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  20. Wow. What a treat! Thank you Sherry. Good to meet you H. Your voice transported me--as did the lyrics. I am still humming the chorus. I enjoyed reading your poetic imagery and realizing each poem could be talking to the inner true self as well as an external ... How we fear when we could hope! This is my favorite line in the entire interview: "We are life in its making": nothing is finished, we create hope by living it. You made my day.

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  21. Susan, that makes my heart happy that you are humming my song! Yes, I love the thought that we are perpetually in the process of creation. We can create hope by simply making choices. And now you have made my day!

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  22. Sherry, I want to say what a truly lovely job you did putting all this together. I appreciate your thoughtful and sensitive questions as well as your support and enthusiasm. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to share and interact with this community. Thank you for thinking of me!

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  23. So wonderful to get to know you better dear H. What a sweet and melodious voice you have! Enjoyed your song adorned with such precious words. "And this hope is the only way we have to truly influence what tomorrow brings." This will stay with me. Thank you Sherry and H.

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  24. Thank you, Sumana. I am honoured you found something in my words to carry with you as I often find things to carry with me in yours. Very best wishes to you.

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  25. I'm soooo sorry to visit this post so late, especially since it contained such inspiring words which I needed to have reinforced. My muse, as well as other aspects of my spirit, have been a little down lately. But I will rise.
    As always, thank you for all the work you do Sherry.

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  26. You are a person of many talents and you keep surprising me with each new one. love dad

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