New Year: Make GOALS Not RESOLUTIONS!

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Hey Hey Guys!

It’s that time of hear again; everyone is coming out with the “NEW YEAR, NEW ME” bullshit that even they know isn’t true.

By making “resolutions“, we are automatically setting ourselves up for a download (1)fall. “Research“, (though how reliable research into young people failing to give up drinking, go to the gym and save enough to buy are Ferrari, are) suggests that the connotations of the word alone are enough to make our brain pre-emptively expect failure. Essentially, it’s too much pressure.

So DON’T DO IT! Chill out, adopt a better strategy instead.

SET GOALS instead!

Simple. By setting yourself a goal you are creating a context where something is a good idea, but won’t make you feel like you are breaking a promise if you don’t achieve it.

Expectation vs. Reality!

Expectation vs. Reality!

Sounds like common sense, but do your self a favour, make them small goals. Not necessarily unimportant, just, don’t make some bold statement that you’re going to own a flying pony named Beranabus! by the end of the year then act heartbroken when you’re left with nothing but a dead hamster and a broken dream.

More likely pet acquisition...

More likely pet acquisition…

Say you will do something a little more general if you are having trouble, like, take up a sport. That gives you room and time to explore and find something you really want to do, so you are more likely to stick to it. Don’t put yourself under too much pressure f you can’t make a decision right away and don’t make it something like sky-diving. Unless that’s easily accessible to you. In which case totally go for it!

Basically the trick is to keep it simple. Even something as simple as be nice can have a huge impact on your mentality and make you feel better, meaning you will have more motivation to achieve the bigger things that would otherwise have been insurmountable.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew (literally or figuratively!) Start with the little changes. They will add up and you can achieve so much by taking your time. Don’t bother with an obscenely long, ridiculous list.

In my next post I will make some suggestions as to goals you can attempt as well as some of my own 🙂 (HINT: I’m not going to be trying to become a millionaire or be fit enough to run a marathon. Though both of those would be nice. Enough money to buy my own flat. Or run for a bus maybe… 😉 )

Here's an easy one to start you off :)

Here’s an easy one to start you off 🙂

unnamedFollow me on twitter: @gemc200

SSDD

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Post Christmas – How Ya Feeling??

So how y’all doing?

The festive season is struggling to maintain purchase as the madness sinks in and people reaslise they have to stop being merry soon and return to their general humdrum lives. After the psychotic ravaging of stores that miraculously have re-filled their shelves with wares for the Boxing Day/that-odd-nameless-time-between-Christmas-and-New-Year sales, we are left bereft, despite our many fresh items.

We have less booze, less money, less yummy food, less presents, less visitors, less days off, less lie ins… Generally just less of all those rare goodies we allow ourselves to indulge in excessively at this time of year.

On the other hand we get more of a lot of things.

We get more work, more time out of the warm house and in the cold outdoors, more time spent travelling, more bitchy co-workers, more worries over money, more micro-meals, more stress coffee, more… General crap. And crap that is only crap because you experience it every day, not because it is particularly bad, just that we tolerate it so often that we come to not really care all that much about it. Like work. Most people can’t be bothered half the time. Uni/college. Too tiring when there are warm beds and XBOX in existence. Travelling. Instead of being a peaceful time of reflection it becomes a place of rampant road rage and body odour, if you are not fortunate enough to be part of a carpool. Reality bites back, soon.

We are alright til January. It is acceptable to pull the “aw, Ok, since it’s Christmas” excuse for being just that little bit decadent but only because we have that all important big part-ay coming up known as New Year (sure to be a messy one if you live in Scotland).

Now, while this started off on a bit of a bum note, I like to be a little unpredictable when I write these posts, so here’s me pulling the old switcheroo on you.

I don’t care that we are metaphorically going from a time of excess to a time of… normal? (because I live in the commercialised Western society so we are always living in a time of plenty and there are too many people who already live in excess) I don’t care that I am going to have less money, less free time and more stress. I don’t even mind the thought of my three hour round trips to Uni every day starting again – the bus may smell bad but I always like the journey and I like Uni. I can’t do anything on the journey so it’s a great place for a little downtime.

Sometimes the world of boundless bounty (not the chocolates… though I suppose sometimes the chocolates. At this time of year, certainly. Those little tiny ones. Who actually eats Bounty’s except at Christmas anyway? Who eats chocolates that size at any other time of year? Alas, tis a pondering for another day) is a little too much. Too much of a good thing, and all that. Then again…

I have just had a few of the best days of my life.

Those of you who have followed these interweb pages for a while will know that I used to  detest Christmas. Loath it. Hated it with a passion that would make hell piss itself with shame at its own feeble flame as it pales in comparison to the passion in my rage. But all that has changed this year. It was AWESOME!!

I know that is hardly the most eloquent of ways to phrase it but it is the truth and I am still young enough to get away with such pithy sayings.adored every second!

Last year I did not really have a Christmas. It was one of the worst days of my life and I will never forget it. However, I cannot regret, now, that it happened. Because, had I not, I may not have fully appreciated the marvelous affair that has been the Clark family Christmas, 2013. These shall forever be hallowed days to me.

And these feelings of peculiar warmth have nothing to do with the fact that I have spent a great deal of time in the last wee while drinking excessive, yet not altogether socially unacceptable volumes, of fermented, brewed and distilled liquid, all with the intent of slowly pickling my liver as well as warming the cockles of my heart. Oh no, it is all to do with my family. And the fact that we were all at home. Together. Having Christmas. For the first time ever. And I meant, ever.

I have never had a Christmas at home, just with my parents, and that is something I have always craved. As has my mum, which, means that since we were spending it at home, she has been in an infinitely better mood of late. Actually we all have. There has been an unfamiliar buzz of general merriment colouring my life in the run up to Christmas. I have been a busy little fritter and filled my time by whole-heartedly flinging myself into the spirit of the event. I’ve never really partaken so I wasn’t really sure what to do. But the fact that I was bouncing around like a workshop elf on crack seemed to help everything run smoothly. Go with the snow-flow,  I thought, see where you end up. Following my celebratory savvy, I reckon.

My life this December has been a blur of bows and bells, elves and electric lightstinsel, tassels and tell-tales signs the Great British weather is taking a turn for the terrible.

I won’t go into details, but will instead allow you to fill in the blanks of your own accord. I don’t mind how you envisage the three of us, but here is a guideline.

Image three people sitting down to a fantastic spread that we are all not quite sure how we managed to produce. Imagine us elated and confused at the fortune of our own situation. Listen to the sound of clinking glasses, popping crackers and belly laughing. Feel the warmth of the oven and the heating blowing a rosy glow onto your skin. Smell everything from booze to parsnips and turkey and perfume. Feel full, spiritually and physically and emotionally. Cover everything in soft lights and glitter. Now imagine a slight haze over the whole image as we have all had a little bit to drink

Merry Christmas.

Boyf opening prezzies on Christmas Eve

Boyf opening prezzies on Christmas Eve

Homemade table decoration

Homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

me and Percy

me and Percy

Gizmo is drunk after his Christmas dinner and some wine... food baby??

Gizmo is drunk after his Christmas dinner and some wine… food baby??

pretty candles

pretty candles

Percy

Percy

SSDD

The Hills Are Alive

The hills are alive, and they are helping me live again too…

I have returned from Fort William! The Ben Nevis region of the world.

I’m a creature of habit. It’s not something I like to admit but it’s true. Certain changes make me uncomfortable which is a pain because I like to try new things and my mind delights in the thought of travel. But I also like the safety of a certain level of routine… Even though repetitiveness kind of makes me want to kill something. Ahhh, paradox. Which is why I’m glad that my holiday this year was the most placid of family affairs rather than an out-and-out 20 year old party bonanza.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a drink and I do turn into MC Hammer when the DJ brings the tunes (oh aye, coz I’m that cool) but there are times when your mind has just had. e. nuff. Peace, tranquility. These are things that in the metropolis of your personal bubble are lost and shoveled brutally into a grave of insignificance.

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It wasn’t til I arrived on one of the most stunning roads I’ve ever seen that I realised this. There is a community in loneliness. Hills feel older than you. They have been around for a long time and will remain there indefinitely (I hope). Human lives are far more temporal. We are lucky to even be allowed the privilege of bearing witness to such ancient features. They rise out of the earth, like majestic guardians. I see them as guardians, because why else would they need to be so tall? They are clearly there to protect nature from man by being stunning and intimidating in a breathlessly  massive way.

Lately my life has taken twists and turns, stagnated and infuriated me with it’s inability to rail itself on a path that is actually going to make me happy.

20130829_085906And that is why I took the Glenfinnan Viaduct and became a Real Wizard. Now there is a rail that makes me very happy!

Fort William is not so much a sleepy town as a town that needs only to rest. Sure, there is a Weatherspoons, but that is about all there is. If you want a little youthfulness, that is where you go, if not… you chill in the hotel bar with the other 195 year olds.

To be honest, boarding the bus made me imagine looking through a looking glass that shows you 75 years into the future. There was not one single person under 100 on there. My parents and I were almost as startled as the old folks on there; they were peering through their 3 inch specs at us as if they were beginning to believe the docs when they said they were going cray cray! We were spied through 50 pairs of scrunched up bug eyes and wire frames as if for all the world they could not understand what the hell we were doing there.

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Yet I didn’t care. We spent our evenings drinking Mojitos and boogying in our chairs to the sounds of Scottish folk warblers. The old timers may have pulled a few muscles on route to their 5th half lager shandy but we were ripe to party til the fun ended… at 10:30pm. We skipped the bingo night. Too much excitement. We re-named that Cocktail Night and Dads-First-Shot Night. Twas excellent 😀

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The strangeness of the entire situation; a relatively young family of three in a hotel full of people old enough to be my parents grandparent;, a 20 year old being absolutely not bored in a place that was essentially nothing but water too cold to swim in; trees to coniferous to climb and pubs too expensive to be worth the pints that are pulled there; was just another part of what made everything so perfect. I was finding solace in the predictable strangeness of the view outside my window. There was nothing new on any given day, except perhaps an extra smattering of drizzle. There was a peace in the quiet 20130828_165037of the hills I was constantly surrounded by. I don’t think the ancient wisdom of historic hills can be properly captured in text. Words are not enough to encompass the all consuming silence that resonated in them. They are so full of age that one feels dwarfed just driving through them. I got the impression that what I was doing was wrong – the only correct way to view these hills should be on foot. To be driving through seemed a travesty, indignation of the more insolent order.

But, as I am not currently able to walk those rocky roads, bus wheels it had to be. What I’m really looking for in this life is freedom. Despite being utterly static and restricted to their station by their own nature, the corries and peaks of the Ben Nevis region seem to have found that embody it, even, in a way that is zen and breathtaking.

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Next time, maybe I will get to see things from up high…

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20130826_134605

 

 

SSDD

Doing The Things That Scares You

Doing The Things That Scare You…

Not always the simplest of tasks, is it. By their very existence, a thing that scares you isn’t something you’re going to be readily willing to do. The question is; why?

The answer may be, evolution.

By challenging the things out bodies repel we are forcing them into situations they would otherwise avoid entirely. From this, we are growing, adapting, learning. Whether we survive or not is in the hands of our own inherent abilities, or lack there of, and our willingness to defeat the obstacle in front of us.

Defeating an obstacle might not be as simple as whipping out your Samurai sword and slicing and dicing some monster, or calling upon your Knight in Shinning Armour (yes, capitals, why give him a real name if he is robed in shiney things??) to slay a beast in your honour and rescue you and offer you a lifetime of unconditional love in return. Not all things in life can be Disneyfied.

young-samurai-young-samurai-29962820-1024-768

Are you a Samurai, or are you waiting to be saved? …

There are things that scare us that can’t be seen. There are also things that others can see that we can’t, and that can be scary.

Epilepsy-ScotlandFor example, in a couple of days, my friend is going to bungee jump for Epilepsy Scotland . You can’t see epilepsy, but for a lot of people, the threat of a fit is something they carry with them on a daily basis. She is 19 and doing a bungee jump (!!) so help someone else feel less scared. As excited as I know the lucky bitch is (I would LOVE to do a bungee jump and she’s a bit crazy so i know she would too!!) I’m pretty sure she is going to be shitting bricks before it. I am not fooled by your calm and ginger demeanor Lambie, no I am not – I saw the twitch when you told me you were doing it!

That mad nutter on the left is Gillian, the other is me :)

That mad nutter on the left is Gillian, the other is me 🙂

Now for a flattering one... ;)

Now for a flattering one… 😉

Then again, Doing The Thing That Scares you can be so much more. It can be a challenge you have to face every single day. Yet it is a good thing to challenge our fears. Sometimes the mere act of questioning a fear can save your life. To acknowledge that something terrifies you is the first step to defeating it. Otherwise, it’s just a part of your life, a feature that refuses to move, like a stain, ingrained from years of neglect, left to fester til it is indelible and indistinguishable from the rest of you. And who really wants that? Who wants a dirty great mark, marring the colourful, bizarre and wonderful path that is your life?

Living in fear is not way to live. Sure, grey is a colour. But what kind of journey would life be if that was all you saw? There are things that have to be black and white, like your morals, the law and so on, all to avoid chaos and anarchy (not meaning that I don’t support free will or that I’m a communist or a dictator or anything, but I do believe we should live to some degree, under a set of rule – just so long as those rules don’t begin to control you entirely).

control

control

To live in the shadows of something is unnecessary, when the means to defeat the darkness is already available to you. You are the key. Face up to the challenge, face up to the fear. Combat the terror. Hold a spider, look down from the top of the tower, eat that slice of triple chocolate fudge cake.

taken from Sally's Baking Addiction

taken from Sally’s Baking Addiction

 

Take baby steps. “Once bitten…” isn’t a phrase for no good reason; if the spider bit you the first time, maybe don’t start with the Black Widow. If you once fell from a 20 storey building then (aside from being a medical marvel and quite frankly, a magician) maybe begin with something lower. If you quake at the sight of food, start small, a biscuit here, a sandwich there. Baby steps.

see things from a different perspective...

see things from a different perspective…

Or you could go all Herculean and raise the bar well above your head and not falter. Go from hospital bed, poisoned and ill to Arachnid Master, Spiderman! Not only look down, but leap off the tallest floor (though this time, might I advise a rope, harness, or very large crash mat). It’s medically inadvisable to go from eating nothing to everything at once so that might be silly, but make the change – fat free to full fat (or as I’ve heard it described, “extra moist, rich, decadent, with an honest chocolate taste and a smooth velvety crumb…” “…Death by Chocolate…”) 

My point is – do not let fear rule – or ruin! – your life. People deserve better than that.

 

SSDD

The Curious Case of the Optimist

Recently I have experienced that curious branch of humanity, The Optimist.

The road to your sunrise may be long, it may be at the end of a scarcely trodden path... but it is there...

The road to your sunrise may be long, it may be at the end of a scarcely trodden path… but it is there…

More often than usual I have encountered this peculiar breed, or perhaps I have just become more atuned to their presence in my life. In an age of austerity and recession and all that bad stuff we are told to be scared of, Optimists seem to be few and far between. Their numbers were slashed dramatically when the worlds money had it’s plug pulled and no-one could finds where the pipe lead to get it back,. Like their will to find the pot of gold drizzled away with the bounty, once they encountered Sir Fred Goodwin and had someone to blame. Those silver linings and golden nuggets have been become ever more grey and tarnished. In America, Optimist did not so much vanish, as go into hiding from all the gunslingers, after that tragic spate of school shootings. Money worries have never been Americas prime complaint, even during the hard times; they are too community orientated for that.

Optimism (1)But now, I find myself bombarded with them! Left right and centre, at my emotional weakest, at my most ill expectant, bang, another one serenades me with pearls of tolerant wisdom, showers me with unrelenting bombs of positivity. Silver linings have  never been my thing. I’ve lived in the shadows cast by the glow of The Optimists glimmering light. I’m hardly the Hades to their Zeus, but that oh-so-familiar form of wit, sarcasm, always took the place of peace of mind.

SAD is a real thing – all Scottish people suffer from it.

It’s a kind of National Affliction I reckon. Everyone is just happier when the sun is out. It was today and I saw people out in shorts! In Scotland! That kind of madness hasn’t been seen since the great heatwave of… well, last March, but still. This year we had snow for godssake.

So why, you are asking youself (coz I can absolutely hear those cogs whirring, voices speaking, irritating little nagging buggers whinging away in your brains, magic as I am) why is she blogging about the weather?

optimism (2)

Well, because happiness is in itself a form of Optimism and one neglected too often, I feel. Simple pleasures such as the sun can noticeably alter a person point of view. It literally shines a brighter light on life. The sun is an illuminator, both in a literal and figurative sense. People see clearer, encouraged, as they are, to crawl tentatively out of their safe, though often chilly and pessimistic nooks and sniff the sweet, warm scent of positivity.

Coose to see the world through rose tinted specs... what's the worst that could happen... in fact, don't answer that...

Coose to see the world through rose tinted specs… what’s the worst that could happen… in fact, don’t answer that…

It can be scary; too much of that heady scent can be overwhelming for some. But an occasional measure of it can truly enlighten. It can boost a persons belief systems enough to get them through. And so long as you are getting by, for the time being, is that not enough?

optimism

 

 

SSDD

The Dog Days of Summer

Dog Days of Summer. Dog Days. The dog days… What the hell is a “DOG DAY”!?

Well I’ll tell you.

I used to think that a ‘dog day’ was another name for one of those lazy days you have during summer. The ones where there is heat rising in a mirage-like haze from the roads, a slight sheen of sweat covers every forehead and more iced treats are floating about than at an Italian gelato vendor.

One of those days that become so bright you could swear some belligerent ten year old had turned on a high watt bulb over you and was trying to incinerate you with a magnifying lens.

One of those days so hot and summery that all you want to do is take a nap under a tree then douse yourself on cool water and guzzle a litre of ice tea from a tall glass filled with ice and topped with lemon.

tall glass of something from my pre-alcohol days… 😉

One of those days. The Dog Days.

But no. This is apparently (and admittedly disappointingly) not the case at all.

Mystic Meg

Apparently, the phrase stems from the Ancient Romans. Those clever little conquerors who invented all manner of things we now take for granted such as roads, cement, plumbing, government, even an EXTREMELY early computer, made a bit of a silly. For all their intelligence they may er… have read a little too much into the stars… kinda like Mystic Meg… except people actually believed them… for hundreds of years

They believed heavily in the power of the stars and their influence over earth. They studied them extensively – at least, as extensively as they could without todays technology.

Sirius Constellation

Once a year (another thing they invented, by the way, the calendar) the brightest star in the Sirius constellation would synchronise with the rise and setting of the sun, outshining all others in the sky. The Ancient Romans believed that it was the energy, light and heat released by this combination that led to the hotter and brighter summer seasons. Hence, Dog Days. It was really just a very early term for summer.

(This all has nothing to do with Harry Potter, by the way…)

The surprising thing is, that despite this being something they came up with simply as it was the only rational explanation they had for the change that came about in the environment around that time, they were not so far wrong; Sirius does shine brightest between July 3rd and August 11th, which is generally the hottest time of the year – it does not, however effect the actual temperature. That bit was all a load of rubbish. But it made them happy to feel clever, so we’ll let them have that as they were rather good at a lot of things.

It was the astronomer Geminus who out forward a more correct thesis around 70 B.C.

He wrote: “It is generally believed that Sirius produces the heat of the ‘dog days,’ but this is an error, for the star merely marks a season of the year when the sun?s heat is the greatest.”

This is what FLORENCE WELCH (of FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE fame) refers to in her song “Dog Days are Over”, used in the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack. Many people originally thought the reference to “dog” was a tip in the direction of the films protagonist. Not so.

Florence Welch

So when you thought you were hippy swaying in a field to a song about breaking up with some “dog” of a guy/girl, or emancipation from being treated like nothing more than a “dog” – you were actually celebrating the end of the summer season, as sanctioned by the Ancient Romans. Go figure!

Not so chuffed about it now, are ya… 😉

It was purely a serendipitous moment that led me to this discovery. I was randomly pondering its implications, trying to make some nuance of sense of it, after hearing our fiery haired Florence on the radio (as you do…). Then the very next day I discovered its origins on, aptly enough, a calendar at work. 😀

Florence Welch

So consider this while you lament the end of the summer holidays:

When the light of the Sirius has waned, will you continue to grieve the passing of its season? Or will you invest your former vigour in new, autumnal exploits?

In other words, wocha up to after summer, anything interesting happening in the Autumn? 😀

Just because the fairest season has lived and left, does not meanthat the sun has to set on life and all its brightness.

And so, in the best of Florence style, I bid you, put on your flowery crowns, don those flowing dresses and RUN! “Run fast for you mother and fast for your fa-a-ather/run for your children for your sisters and b-rothers.”

Would you know, I think I’m becoming something of an optimist in my old age.

NAAAH! More like some kind of wood nymph. 😛

SSDD

“The Dog Days Are Over” still…

Don’t Turn Over A Random Leaf; Turn Over the Right One

Picture the scene.

You are in a landscape. This landscape may be near barren. A smattering of wilting bushes peppering brazen, cracked soil. The shoots that are left are of a variety capable of life in harsh conditions. Perhaps there is a burning sun. Perhaps it is tundra like and cold. This landscape is yours alone. It is not so entirely unpleasant that it is always unbearable, much in the way that even the most unsavoury of areas can be tolerated once you get used to them, but there is something not quite right about it.

There could be many names you could give this place. Limbo, might be one of them. Or perhaps perdition, nowhere, or even confusion. You might prefer not to give that place a name at all. That’s ok. It is yours…

You stir from a most intense day-dream. So intense you might have believes it reality; were it not for that bush.

The lush and leafy, impossibly mulit-tonal green bush, that has attracted your attention. Was it always there or has it just suddenly sprung into being from the drought ridden ground?

unusual and intimidating…

As if independent from meteorological influence, a leaf detaches itself from the bush. It float purposefully toward you. You approach with caution. Lift the leaf: pretty. Unusual shape, not one you are familiar with. Interesting. But not for you.

Take a step back, but take care not to lose sight of the leaf. Something has stirred in you and you know it’s important, even if you don’t necessarily want to encounter that particular shoot again.

pretty and sweet…

Another has flown near you, with a gentle motion, as if to avoid startling you. This time the leaf is colourful. Inhail and discover that the air is sweet, the scent carried on a light breeze and wrapping coolly around you.

Carry this leaf awhile. Twirl it experimentally between your fingers. Hmmmmn, lovely; but not for you. Let the fragile pretty thing float away on the fragrant flurry. It lands close to the bush.

is this your leaf? …

Next, a darker one catches your eye. This one is scary by comparison to the others. Spikier edges. It writhes in the draft, which by this time has become warm, despite the lessening intensity from the sun; it no longer burns.

A glance at the bush shows that it sits there still, innocent and suspicious only in its alien contrast to the tired little sprouts around it.

You stand, stare quizzically at this leaf. A tall shrub sways dozily in the breeze beside you. It never did that before…

The leafy bush seems to glow as you approach the spiky leaf. This one sends shockwaves through you and your nerves alight with a fire that has never been experienced in this forlorn place before. This knowledge seems to make the bush glow brighter still.

The scary leaf continues its dance, with each of your tentative steps seeming to increase its fervor. Your heart races in time with its perilous twist – the feeling is somewhat nauseating after so long in such a place of dry suspension.

But you reach out and pince the stem between shaking fingers. Mouth dry but eyes no longer heavy, the leafs struggle ends. It is course to the touch but fresh and crisp. It feels more dependable that the others. Less likely to die quickly or suffer a tragically short existence, or worse, a promising start followed by a hollowly unfulfilling end.

Sure, those spikes might make it a little difficult to handle at times, but sometimes that is the price of reliability.

The warmth that had been blanketing you from the wind now swirls and glows somewhere else – is it inside you? Somewhere, perhaps, and quite deep. But deep in a way that a well is deep; the only place it can go is up, and this time, what goes down, will come back up.

The leaf has ceased its struggles and sits palliative in you hand. This is the one for you.

Turn it over.

 

SSDD

a lone shrub surviving…

tundra…

could you miss this tree in a desert…