Interruptions Don’t Have To Interrupt

Have you noticed how interruptions can come along so unexpectedly?

You can be in the middle of a conversation and your child comes up to you, grabbing at your pant leg, seeming to need your immediate attention … and you didn’t even see him coming.

People interrupt us all the time. They step into a conversation as they pass by; they pop their head in your office while you are on the phone.

You can even be telling a story, and when you take a breath, someone interrupts and begins to tell their related story … interrupted again!

Life can get interrupted too … like last fall when I was driving in the dark and out of nowhere a deer crossed my path and crumpled the front corner of my car.

That little interruption cost us a week without a car and the expense of having to buy a new one. (You can read about that here.)

The other day a grapefruit interrupted my life.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been doing great physically. I’ve lost some weight; I’m feeling good; I have more energy.

Playing sports has never been more enjoyable. I couldn’t be happier in that department.

But the other day, I bent down to get a grapefruit out of the fridge and, BAM – I put my back out.

No, the grapefruit wasn’t 250 pounds, and it wasn’t a fake one made out of cement either.

It was just a grapefruit; I eat one every day.

I must have twisted a little when I bent down and aggravated an old injury.

Several years ago I pulled something in my lower back and since then, every once in a while, I injure it by doing something very simple … like an ordinary daily action.

I’d been mountain biking, building trails, and no problem. I played hockey all winter and nothing. It was a grapefruit this time that tripped me up.

And for the last three days, I’ve had to be very careful how I sit, what I sit on, and how I stand.

It’s been a real interruption.

Other times this has happened, I’ve ended up flat on my back on the floor for a day or two. This time it wasn’t that bad.

The worse part was I thought the back injury would interrupt my exercising streak. … I have exercised for 198 days in a row and I was afraid my streak was over.

It was really disappointing. I kind of moped around most of the day.

It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that I got a phone call from my son. We chatted about a bunch of things, and then I told him about my back and my exercising streak.

Then he interrupted my interruption.

He said, “Why don’t you just ride your bike on the streets, and go for an easy ride? Or take a slow walk?”

With that inspiration, I decided to see if I could get on my bike. And what do you know, one of the most comfortable positions for me is bent forward a little on my bike.

What was going to be a major interruption to my exercising, ended up being a little interruption to my comfort, but not to my life.

Here’s the thing: When you get interrupted in life, don’t take the interruption at face value. You have a God who can turn an interruption in life into a change of direction, into a better circumstance, or into something that has way less impact than you thought it would.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What has caused an interruption in your life? Leave your comments below.

I Finally Found A Solution To Flossing

For a long time, I’ve been searching for a permanent solution to a small supply issue. I think I might have finally found the right product.

I like my dentist – in fact he’s a friend of mine and we golf together. However, I don’t like going to see my friend when he is working in his office … especially when I’m sitting in one of his chairs.

I’m, therefore, a big fan of flossing my teeth to help cut down on things he might find wrong with my teeth when I visit him.

The problem with flossing is that I can never get the floss to those back teeth of mine.

My fingers are too big to get that little, white string to my wisdom teeth way at the back. It’s possible that I don’t have a big mouth, but I’ve never been accused of that.

For me, a flossing solution has always been to use an apparatus to reach those hard-to-get-to teeth. Over the years I’ve used several different kinds.

I started with a big “Y” shaped instrument that worked for many years until I couldn’t find them in stores any more.

Then I found a version of that apparatus that came with dental floss built into it. I actually came to like this one better and had no issues for years … until again they didn’t sell them in stores any more.

Right around that time, a family member found a gazillion of the first type I used at a dollar store and bought them for me.

Not too long after that I happened to come across a quantity of the second type … I bought the store out.

For several years I kept using these products until recently I broke the last one.

Trying to find something similar and suitable has been difficult.

I think the manufacturers felt they needed something that would break more easily – the old types lasted too long. They want to make more money.

Well, everything I’ve tried is horrible! … until a week ago when Lily brought home a pack of single-use flossers that are the same shape and style as my old ones. They aren’t perfect, are a little flimsy, but they work.

Many of the other types are shaped in a way that you pretty much have to put your fist in your mouth to reach your back teeth.

With some, the floss is so weak that it breaks after using it between a few teeth. Sometimes the floss isn’t tight enough to get in between some teeth.

This new style, however, keeps most of my hand out of my mouth and the floss stays tight, even getting between those molars.

In the long run, the manufacturers win by getting me to spend more money on flossing … but having an option that works for me is worth it.

Here’s the thing: Sometimes we like things the way they are. We are satisfied with our life, or our relationship with God, and we don’t see the need for it to change. However, God wants to stretch us and go deeper with us and that does require change on our part. It might not be comfortable at first, but don’t resist. Move towards where God is stretching you or how He wants to go deeper with you. In the end, it will be worth it.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you been holding on to that you should let go of? Leave your comments below.

Oh, The Sweet Taste Of Victory

I can almost taste the victory – that’s the victory of completing the Apple watch fitness challenge.

I’m not sure if Apple thought that we weren’t using their watches to succeed at keeping up with our fitness goals or routines … maybe they just wanted to help us all be a little more motivated to get exercising at the beginning of the new year.

At any rate, they put out a challenge to Apple watch owners to complete their fitness rings every day for a week in January.

There are three fitness rings that the watch measures. One is standing. You complete this ring by standing a minimum of one minute per hour for 12 hours a day.

This sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? But if you work at a desk or sit in a car, or do both, those hours can easily tick away without you standing in every hour.

You have to be conscious of it and get out of your seat for at least a little bit each hour.

Then there is the move ring. This measures the calories you burn simply by moving about in your day. You don’t have to put out much effort at all to get this ring swirling, but it won’t budge if you are sitting down most of the day.

And then there is the exercise ring. This ring measures when your heart rate is elevated – not like in a stress-filled meeting, but by exerting yourself physically.

These three simple rings wind around my watch face, and this week I’ve completed all three rings for six days.

Tomorrow is the last day and I know I will be able to do it.

I haven’t set the bar too high, but it did require me most days to do specific workouts for at least 20 minutes. For me, it’s either I play hockey, or use my stationary bike and rowing machine to get my exercise in.

It wasn’t a cinch but it also wasn’t hard for me to accomplish. The trick was to be aware of what I needed and make sure the day didn’t slip away without me getting in those necessary, needed elements.

For example, I knew on Thursday that I had an evening meeting in which I would just be sitting. During that day I was mostly sitting as well.

But I did have a midday meeting outside the office and so I decided to also spend a half hour on my bike and rower to ensure I completed my exercise ring before my evening meeting.

So what’s the prize for all this? Do I win a new Apple watch or get a discount on a new Mac computer?

… It would be nice to win some free software or something.

Unfortunately, none of the above. All I get is an achievement award that shows up in an app on my phone.

It’s not much; it’s sort of like the online course I took at the end of the year. When I completed the work, I got to print out a completion certificate with my name on it.

Wow … it probably won’t get framed or put on the wall.

But along with the satisfaction of completing the challenge, there is the knowledge that a healthier body will enable me to live longer and with more energy. … Sweet victory!

Here’s the thing: Though there may not be any big wow’s for daily living for God, you do experience God working through you and you get to spend eternity with God in heaven. … Sweet victory!

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What do you find satisfaction in? Leave your comments below.

I Just Renewed My Muscles

I finally have some life back in my muscles. I am feeling better than I have in a long time on the ice.

It’s sort of like Popeye in reverse. Remember that cartoon character? Popeye would get beaten down, usually by Brutus, and just when it looked like Brutus would finish him off, Popeye would say, “That’s all I can stands; I can’t stands no more.”

Then he would pull a can of spinach – yes, a can of spinach – right out of his shirt.

It’s only through the magic of television that he could hide that spinach there.

But once he ate that spinach, he got new strength and “he was strong to the finish cause he ate his spinach. He’s Popeye the sailer man (toot toot)” … You have to see the cartoon.

I did the opposite. I didn’t eat anything to give me renewed strength; I cut something out.

Back in November, I wrote a post about how my muscles were really giving me some pain when I played hockey. I was trying to figure out what was causing it – maybe medication, maybe my heart, maybe sugar. You can read that post here.

I decided to try cutting out sugar … well, not cut it out entirely; we were just about to head into the Christmas season.

My plan was to reduce sugar by cutting out snacks and junk food.

It’s been two months, and I said I would report back on this topic. This is what I discovered …

I dropped some weight over these two months – about eight pounds to be exact – and I didn’t do anything other than reduce my sugar intake.

Yes, I still have my hot wings and a can of Dr. Pepper on Saturday nights, but that’s pretty much the only time I have pop or fried food all week. … I’ve tried to cut out french fries as much as possible.

I purposely didn’t try to exercise any more than I had, so the weight loss is due solely to the diet change.

Here is something else: I feel good. I actually want to remember how I feel right now because that might keep me going when I get tempted to get back into sugar.

The other thing that seems to have changed is my hockey playing. I was experiencing muscle pain and fatigue in a huge way. That pain and fatigue is gone.

Now, I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not ingesting sugar like I was or if it has to do with me having a few less pounds to carry around on my skates.

But I will take that mystery and live with it.

The last several times playing hockey have been a treat for me. I don’t feel like an old man out on the ice.

I feel more like Popeye – strong to the finish. I like how this feels, and it’s way better than the momentary enjoyment of a chocolate bar.

Here’s the thing: After you have confessed your sin, take a moment to think about how you feel, how close you feel to God, how grateful to God you are, how you want to please Him with your life. Then remember that feeling because you will be tempted to sin again. And when you’re tempted, remember how you feel pleasing God with your life. That may keep you from falling to sin again.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What do you need to add to or cut out of your life? Leave your comments below.

If It’s Out Of Sight, It’s Out Of My Mind

There is a saying “out of sight, out of mind” and it is particularly true with me. If something is out of my sight, there’s a good chance I will forget about it.

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Case in point: I’m not a great guitarist, but I like to play my guitar a bit. I used to keep it in its case, but I would never see it so I never thought of playing it.

Eventually I got a stand so my guitar now sits in our family room in plain sight, creating a much greater chance that I’ll pick it up and strum a little.

I need to do that with a lot of things because if I don’t see them there’s a good chance I will forget about them.

Maybe that’s why I have so many papers on my desk. I’m afraid that if I put those papers somewhere, like in a filing cabinet or file folder, I will forget about them and not get at the work they represent.

Lily doesn’t really like my “out of sight, out of mind” system for getting things done. For her it creates clutter.

The other day there was a new piece of clutter: I received my renewal for our car licence plates. I don’t need to renew for a couple of months, and since I don’t like giving the government my money earlier than I have to, the way I operate means the renewal form will be on our kitchen table for some time.

Now maybe right about now you are sympathizing with Lily, but here’s the flip side …

A week ago I was getting low on Bisoprolol – it’s a beta blocker, and one of the pills I take for my heart. So it’s kind of important that I don’t run out of the stuff.

What I do when I get low is I put the bottle on the kitchen table to remind me to call the pharmacy for more. I can’t just call in at any time, however, because my insurance company, who pays part of the cost, doesn’t want me to start stockpiling the little pink pills. I have to wait until I’m down to 4 or 5 pills.

Since I load my pill dispenser every Saturday for the next week, I have to have that bottle on the kitchen table for a few days.

So there the bottle sat, prominently displayed. … The problem was that we were having company and so Lily moved the bottle.

She moved it out of sight which meant it was out of mind for me. I never thought of it until Saturday rolled around and I was filling up my dispenser.

Not only could I not find my Bisoprolol bottle, I had forgotten I needed to order more!

So Saturday morning I was scurrying around trying to find my pills and then trying to get my order in a.s.a.p. so I didn’t miss a day.

We’ll be keeping those bottles on the table from now on.

Here’s the thing: If you want to be consistent in spending time with God, keep your materials (Bible, devotional book, journal) in plain sight, ready to go for when you meet with God. Being able to see them will remind you that you have an appointment to keep with the Lord.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What do you do to ensure you keep your time with God each day? Leave your comment below.

I Got Sick Anyway

I did everything right and I still got sick! Has that ever happened to you? Well, that’s where I ended up.

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My wife came down with a flu of all flu’s. I’ve never seen her down for so long before. It hit her quick and it hit her hard.

Lily was in bed for two days, and dragged herself around the house for over a week. She even said that maybe next year she would get the flu shot … that on it’s own tells me just how sick she was!

This was not something I was going to catch if I could help it. So I did something I haven’t done often in our 30 years of marriage: I slept in the spare room.

There was just no way that I was going to breathe in what she was breathing out. I would get infected as I slept, completely unaware of what was happening to me.

It kind of reminds me of two guys back in college who decided they were going to prank their neighbours next to them in our dorm.

Their room was just on the other side of the wall and there happened to be a hole in that wall … on one side anyway. The guys made a small hole in their room at the same place.

During the night as the neighbours slept in bliss, the guys blew baby powder into their room. The neighbours next door never knew what hit them.

In the morning they woke up to their room covered in what looked like fresh fallen snow. The white powder was everywhere, on the beds, in their hair. … I think there was retaliation the next night.

The thing was the powder was silent. It came over them when they slept; they never noticed it at all.

And there was no chance I was having my immune system hijacked by Lily turning towards me and breathing flu germs in my face all night.

She realized this flu was not something that should be passed on and volunteered to sleep in the spare room for another four nights.

That’s five nights we slept in separate rooms while being in the same house. That has never happened before!

We did all the right things. I stayed away even when she desperately wanted a hug, just some human contact … well, I sort of hugged her at arms length. I was also washing my hands like a surgeon – I hope surgeons wash their hands as much as I did.

In the end, she slowly came back to the land of the living, yet still low on energy. She seemed to have recovered enough for me to let her back in our bed.

And then it happened. I was drinking lots of water – tons of it – getting plenty of sleep, exercising and taking care of myself. But I woke up one morning with a scratchy throat.

I didn’t end up as sick as she had been, but for all my purposeful, proactive prevention, the sickness didn’t escape me. I’ll be okay.

Here’s the thing: Sin has this kind of ability to sneak up on us. We can do all the right things, stay clear of triggers, give a wide birth to temptation. But when we are not looking, when we least expect it, sin can creep in when we thought we were in the clear. We can never let our guard down.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What has snuck up on you, even when you took precautions? Leave your comment below.

I Gained Weight Just Being There

What is it with conferences that you automatically feel about 10 pounds heavier when you come home?

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Is there something in the water or the air that adds weight to your body? I’m not sure what it is but I don’t like it.

I don’t think I’ve ever come back from a seminar or conference feeling like I even broke even in the weight department.

Is there anyone out there who knows my pain?

This weekend my wife, Lily, and I flew to the metropolis of Steinbach, Manitoba for a church conference.

I only had a glass of water on the plane but I was sure I felt a little heavier as I walked into the Winnipeg airport.

The feeling that I put on weight in all the wrong places didn’t go away since the first thing we did when we pulled away from the airport was drive directly to a restaurant.

It certainly didn’t help that after lunch we drove an hour, then sat in an orientation session for another hour, and then guess what we did?

We had another meal!

There is no way my body had time to process all the food I’d eaten at 1 pm. I don’t think an athlete with a metabolism that’s fine-tuned like a violin could process what I’d packed away for lunch and be ready, waiting and eager to partake in evening morsels at about 5 pm.

Conferences are good for two things: long meetings where you sit down and don’t move much for a couple of hours and breaks where you stand in one spot, usually close to a table that has some kind of food on it.

You repeat this process only to break it up with large meals and spending time in a hotel room that’s about twenty feet long.

Is it any wonder that by the end of the first day I felt like I was waddling into my hotel and crashing onto my bed, almost bouncing Lily off the other side? (… just kidding about that one.)

Day two I had a plan. This time I wasn’t going to take in any snacks between meals … but the fruit looked pretty good on the tables so I stayed close by and ate an apple.

I thought I needed to walk around more because in just two days my legs felt like they were covered in cellulite – can a guy even get cellulite? … at the very least, I’m sure I had lost all muscle tone.

At my age you don’t rebound quickly either. No, weight that only takes one day to gain will take a week to lose!

The thing is you don’t even realize you’re gaining weight when you are there. It’s like your body adjusts to the new weight overnight and you wake up feeling like you’re carrying the same poundage as the day before, which you’re not.

I think you have to be vigilant; you have to have a plan. You need to be disciplined to fight the conference convexity (look that one up).

So today I plan on no snacks at any break. I’m spending my time walking around the halls … maybe that will work.

Here’s the thing: Sometimes just being in a certain environment can have a negative spiritual impact on you. It’s not that you are doing anything wrong, but where you are is not generally conducive to spiritual health. You need a plan to ensure you can stay connected to God and are able to maintain a Christ-like attitude and posture.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What do you find difficult to maintain when you are away? Leave your comment below.

A Momentary Action Can Change Your Life

A momentary action can make a huge impact on one’s life. The repercussions of that action can have long-lasting effects.

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Let me tell you about it …

This week as I was playing hockey, I crossed the blue line with the puck. A defender was right in front of me so I made a quick direction change in hopes that he would zig to my zag.

It took probably less than an second; it was just a subtle move to give me some free ice to keep moving forward.

That move may not have fooled my opponent, but it sure fooled my back. Immediately I felt a tweak down low near the base of my spine.

“Whoa!” I thought, “This doesn’t normally happen.” But I also recognized the feeling which brought a truckload of memories to my mind.

This was not the first time a momentary action had caused some pain in my back.

It started about three years ago when I was mountain biking on vacation. I carry a folding saw in my backpack to take care of small trees that have fallen across the path.

This particular summer there was a big tree too high to go over, too long to go around. I needed to get rid of it. It was too big for my saw but I thought I would just saw a little every day until I got through it.

I worked on it for a couple of days but then got impatient. I jumped on it … nothing. I kicked at it … again, nothing. So I put my arms around it and yanked.

It was a momentary action, but it sent a sharp pain to the base of my spine that left me lying on the floor of our trailer for about four days.

Since then, there has been a couple of other instances that a momentary action has given me the same result.

One time I bent down to pick up a knife I had dropped on our kitchen floor. That led to some more flat out time for me.

All these memories came back to me the moment I felt the tweak in my back. I went to the bench and stretched a little. And then a curious thought was planted in my brain: “Maybe I can just work it out by playing the rest of the game.”

So I did, but I spent the next two days pretty much flat out on my bed. The rest of the week, I’ve been moving pretty slowly. I’m hoping to be able to stand and preach on Sunday without any twinges of pain and without seizing up.

One momentary action about three years ago has now weakened my back so that new momentary actions continue to make a big impact on me.

Here’s the thing: Coming to faith in Christ is like a momentary action. It’s a decision to turn from self-rule to Christ’s rule in your life. There may be many factors that have contributed to that momentary decision, let alone the years it may have taken to get to that point. But in one moment you are changed and the impact of that change has long-lasting effects, right into eternity. You can also expect other momentary actions, triggered by the first one, that will cause more long-lasting effects as God continues to mould you and shape you into His image.

I don’t recommend the momentary action that caused my back issues, but I do encourage the momentary decision to give your life to Christ. You won’t regret those effects!

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What momentary action has left long-lasting effects on you? Leave your comment below.

Real Time Adjustments Keep Life Enjoyable

I’ve been thinking lately about my body, and how it has changed since I started taking medication. It’s been three and a half years of swallowing foreign substances and I figure that will continue the rest of my life.

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I realize that I need to take the concoction of pills I down every morning. They are helping my body – at least they better be helping!

I never took medication until I was 56. I used to like filling out medical forms and checking “no” beside all the questions. I very rarely took even an aspirin.

But the other day at the dentist’s office, the hygienist was updating my file. She asked if I was taking any medications; my response was, “Oh ya; I sure am”.

Compared to many people, I don’t take that much, but to me, I feel like I’m taking a ton. It’s four pills a day, but I like to call it 3 1/2 because I got my doctor to reduce one pill in half.

For all the good these little formed chemicals do for me, there are a few drawbacks. One of them is with my muscles.

When I play sports – especially hockey – I feel that the circulation in my legs and feet is restricted. It was really bad at first. I couldn’t skate for more than a minute without feeling like I needed to sit down and allow the blood to flow through my veins again.

When I mentioned it to my doctor, he looked at me like I was making it all up, but told me to take a break from one of the pills for a week and see what happened.

That week I had no symptoms at all; it was great. I concluded from that experiment that it was my cholesterol pill that was creating the problem.

When I went back on that pill the symptoms didn’t return as strongly as before. I began to notice that how tight my equipment or my skates were made a real difference to how I felt on the ice.

So I didn’t tie my skates as tight, and I was gentler when it came to wrapping shin guard tape around my pads. It made a significant difference.

But this year my feet are in great pain when I come off the ice. I can’t sit down they hurt so much. But I noticed that about halfway through the game my feet stop hurting.

I’m realizing my skates naturally give a little the longer I am in them. Possibly what’s happening is that my skates get looser.

So, for the next outing, I won’t tie my skates as tight and see how that feels.

It’s little adjustments that I find I have to make to keep me doing the same things I’ve been doing and not give up on some of the things I like in life.

Here’s the thing: As natural as it is for us to have to make adjustments for our bodies as time goes on, in order to keep doing things that are meaningful to us, we also have to make adjustments to our time with God as life stages and circumstances change. These adjustments are necessary to keep us having a meaningful time with God. Don’t give up or hope to get back to God later. Make adjustments now and keep your relationship with Him fresh and enjoyable.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What adjustments to your quiet time with God have you made in the past year? Leave your comment below.

How You Can Tell It’s Really Fall

Go ahead, say it, it’s officially fall. The weather has turned colder, we’ve lost the humidity, and I got my first cold.

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I was really hoping for summer weather to last right through to the end of October, but sadly the air has a feel of fall to it. Even on warm days, it’s a fall warm and not a summer sizzle.

Temperatures through the night dip a lot lower now. It’s brisk out when I’m leaving for work in the morning. The thermometer gets a bigger workout at this time of year with all its ups and downs. The weather is more unpredictable.

Conditions outside are one thing, what concerns me most is the condition of my body. I could blame it on the weather with its hot and cold effect, or I could blame it on some late nights and not getting the rest I need.

But I’m going to blame it on my wife! Lil has been saying she thinks she’s getting a cold for the last few days.

It’s hard for her to tell at this time of the year because she has some killer allergies that really put a strain on our Kleenex supply in the house.

But there were a few signs like the body aches and the congestion that gave it away.  Unfortunately for me, I didn’t know soon enough because I’m pretty good at staying clear when she’s under the weather.

That’s right, I’m not the greatest nurse in the world. My policy is if you’re sick, you’re on your own and it’s your responsibility to keep a distance of several feet from me.

I know you are probably thinking that I have a double standard when it comes to sickness, but I don’t. I don’t want people hovering around me; I don’t want anyone trying to give me special treatment either.

My motto while I’m sick is, “Leave me alone and stay clear”.

I’m having a little easier time living up to my motto today because Lil is away right now and I’m alone. There isn’t anyone around to stay clear from; there’s no one to offer special treatment.

Though I want to be left alone when I’m sick, I don’t like the fact that she took off after infecting me with her disease.

But there is nothing I can do. I have to accept the fact that I’m sick and I need to ride it out or try to do something about it.

My son has a cold busting solution that he uses, called the Cold FX bomb. It’s about a three day cycle of pumping your body with various doses of Cold FX medicine.

I don’t like drugs. What works for me is to sweat it out. I’ve got rid of a cold in one day with this method. And today is perfect – I have a day off, and I’ll be going to the hockey rink for a little pick up.

I’l wear a few extra layers under my equipment and hopefully, by the end of the game, the aches will be gone and tomorrow I’ll be a brand new man.

Here’s the thing: There are many things in life that can negatively influence us towards God. We need to be vigilant to keep ourselves away from them. But when we slip and recognize that we have been influenced negatively, we need to take bold steps to rid that influence from our lives. Today I read Psalm 119:7. The message was this: Keep an upright heart before God while you learn your righteousness … Good to keep in mind.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What are the influences you have to keep an eye out for? Leave your comment below.