Live with Intention

Balance business with home life, start living intentionally
and learn to enjoy the present moment with my guide:
10 Tips for Living an Intentional Life.

Stop The Shame – My Anxiety Story

My story, or at least my current one, is an intricate braid made up of trials, a growing faith and anxiety.

What do I mean? Here’s the backstory.

I’ve always been a worrier.

I’ve written about this before, although probably sugar coated somewhat.

As I’ve gotten older, what was once merely “a worrier” turned into more.

As an adult, I now have anxiety.

It’s not a secret in my close circle of friends and family; me having anxiety. But it isn’t something I’ve talked about publicly at all before this.

I don’t know why I feel ashamed of admitting it beyond my inner circle. I think I’ve felt that as the public face of my business, I have to project this perfect image of what I am or who I am, and so I have never felt like I could write openly about my journey and struggles with anxiety.

But you guys, I know I’m not alone in this anxiety boat.

In today’s world, I think anxiety is more prevalent and more debilitating than ever.

Why are we afraid to talk about it? To say we struggle with it?

I have sweaty armpits right now writing about it, so even though I am ready to write freely about it, I still feel embarrassed admitting my battle with anxiety.

Struggles with anxiety comes in many forms and many severities. People have different triggers and people have different ways of coping with it. But the bottom line is that many people struggle with it and there is a lot of shame that goes with anxiety.

Stop the Shame - My Anxiety Story - Laura Radniecki Blogger

 

A little about me and anxiety

I am a Type-A person, and value cleanliness, organization, and methodical ways of doing things.

I also have a tendency to be obsessive about things. For example – when I first bought a DSLR camera, I carried it around everywhere, read everything I could find on the internet about photography, and within months, started a business – one I still operate today.

Add to that, I’m also an introvert which means that along with being allergic to many social situations, I also spend a lot of time inside my mind. [Just kidding, I’m not allergic. I’d just rather stay home most nights than go to any kind of large gathering or good grief, any kind of networking event.]

I think they call it introspective – I spend a lot of time in my own head, thinking ALL THE THINGS. My fellow introvert friend and I describe our brains as being very busy, and very, very complicated.

These traits are not bad traits, and in many cases can be an asset. I’m not being hard on myself either. I like the way I am – Type A and introverted – most of the time. :)

However, over the years, the above characteristics, combined with being a worrier by nature have created some obsessive “circular thought patterns.”

When I get fixated on a particular worry, I can’t. stop. thinking. about. it.

My mind will focus on it and obsess, and no matter how many times I try to distract myself from it or tell myself it’ll be ok, or I’ll worry about it when it comes [cross that bridge when you get to it], I can’t stop.

Well, I used to not be able to stop.

As I’ve grown older, my childhood worry morphed into anxiety. I don’t know when it changed or how to define the change. But I can tell you without a doubt, I’m not just a worrier. I have anxiety.

 

Anxiety and a Phobia

Over the years too, I also developed a specific phobia.

I think the word “phobia” is thrown around flippantly in modern society. “Oh yeah, they’re commitment-phobic.” Or, “I have a phobia of socks with sandals.”

True phobias though, are life altering. They are … well – I think I might have to write a blog post just about phobias.

**Also, just as a caveat right now – I am NOT a therapist or any type of medical professional that can give ANY type of advice. This is not advice. I’m not telling you what to do in any form. I’m simply writing about my own life and what I’ve learned. I hope this wards off any trouble that could pop up. If you want to know more, seek out a professional.

So, here I was – in my upper twenties with a phobia and battling anxiety. Sure, I still lived a mostly full life, and I was an entrepreneur and wife/daughter/friend/doggie-mama etc.

But there was more going on. There were roadblocks to what I wanted as MY LIFE.

Last August, I decided that enough was enough and I didn’t want to live only part of a full life. I had tried everything I could think of and I’d read lots about to “handle” my anxiety on my own. And it hadn’t worked.

So, I found a therapist in my area.

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My Therapist and I

People seem to have a stigma about therapists. Maybe it’s the movies that make it seem like only the people who desperately need it seek out therapists, or that you just gush about your problems while laying on a couch, while someone says “and how did that feel?” with a notepad and pen on their lap.

I’m of the firm belief that everyone, in some way and at some point in their life, could greatly benefit from seeing a therapist of some kind. I’ve seen more than one in my life. If it helps you feel less intimidated to call them “counselors,” go for it.

The therapist I found in August also happened to be a Christian therapist, but that wasn’t really on my radar at the time. I simply wanted someone who speciazlied in adult anxiety.

Fast forward a few months and many therapy sessions; the foundation had been laid to chisel away at the mass of anxiety that had built up in my life. We had started discussing ways to handle external anxiety triggers, and we had begun to discuss my faith life as well.

And then November came along and my mystery illness suddenly happened.

Health happens to be a major area of anxiety for me in the first place. And then I was smack dab in the middle of my worst nightmare…

God clearly knew what ahead for me when He orchestrated events that led to me finally deciding to seek therapy in August.

The foundation was set and I was already going regularly when my illness came.

 

Where I am at now with anxiety

It’s been over four months since the illness onset and nearly eight months since I started seeing my therapist.

I’m still going to therapy. I still have anxiety and I still have a phobia.

But I’m baby-stepping toward recovery. Or healing. Or whatever you call it when you are released from a phobia and you learn to moderate your anxiety so it no longer is a major factor in your life.

I have lots to say about anxiety in future posts. Things I particularly struggle with. Things I’ve learned. Things I wish I knew.

If you’re reading this, and you struggle with anxiety, you are not alone. Even if it feels like it, you are not alone.

If you have a phobia of something, do not be ashamed. Phobias all sound completely ridiculous when they’re spoken out loud. Phobias are irrational and don’t make sense. Trust me, I know.

If you are struggling, it doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to live with it forever and you sure don’t have to muddle through it alone.

Seek help. If you don’t want to see a psychologist or psychiatrist, there are many other therapists and counselors that you can see. There are many types of therapy providers and types of treatments.

As someone who sat and suffered through years of shame and stubbornness, and then finally crumpled and decided to take steps toward healing, don’t wait. It doesn’t get any easier by just waiting.

Anxiety doesn’t have to define you.

And if you’re struggling, let’s ditch the shame that goes along with it. Some people struggle with headaches, others with IBS. Some people have allergies, and others have diabetes. Anxiety struggles are no different. It’s not your fault and it’s not as easy as popping an Ibuprofen or taking a few deep, cleansing breaths and carrying on with your day.

I’m with you.

I see you.

You are not alone.

Let’s stop the shame.

xo, Laura

–If you know someone who is struggling with anxiety, or feeling shame about it in particular, please share this post with them. We can help each other by removing the shame that goes along with an already crippling battle.–

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Carlie + Ole | Grand View Lodge | Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography

Carlie and Ole met during a Gopher Football tailgate a handful of years ago.

Fast forward a few years, Ole proposed to Carlie after the two attended another Gopher Football game.

Last summer, we photographed their engagement session, and this year, on a beautiful late March day, Carlie and Ole became husband and wife.

The joy surrounding Carlie and Ole on their wedding day was infectious. They love to joke and laugh with each other, and there was plenty of that throughout the whole day.

Tears abounded throughout the day as well. They began with meaningful words written to Carlie from her mama, and led into Carlie stepping into her dress for the first time. They continued with the First Look and Ole seeing her for the first time, and continued through the wedding ceremony with Carlie’s entrance with her father and heartfelt words from a family friend and pastor. They remained into the evening with the reception toasts and emotional first dances.

Carlie + Ole: It was an extreme pleasure to be a witness to the joining of your hearts and families on your wedding day. I added my tears to the mix during your wedding day, and I feel lucky to have been able to do so. I wish you a lifetime of love and that laughter you are both famous for, and I look forward to watching your adventures together.

xoxo,
Laura

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

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Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN - Brainerd, MN Wedding Photography - Laura Radniecki Images

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– – –

Wedding Ceremony Venue: Lutheran Church of the Cross in Nisswa, MN

Wedding Reception Venue: Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, MN

Wedding Photography: Laura Radniecki Images

Flowers: Kate Kuepers, Bloom Designs

Band: Tami and the Bachelor

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Lent 2015 – A Lent Unlike Any Other

We are now two days past the most important day of the year.

Actually, past what is arguably the most important day in history.

To many people, Easter Sunday is a good day filled with candy and pretty eggs. Maybe quality family time, and possibly some sports on TV.

All good things.

Easter Sunday is about so much more than that though.

We just finished up the season of Lent, which ends with Good Friday and then Easter Sunday. I’ve experienced almost thirty Lenten seasons in my life, and I can honestly say, I’ve never had a Lent that meant as much as this one did.

I’ve wanted to post about what this Lent held for me, but I’ve been struggling with what to write this past week. It’s almost like things are so profound and this time has been so holy that I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to convey my feelings into words.

You know when you try to take a photo of an amazing sunset and you say, “It looked so much better in real life.” It’s like that…

 

What is the purpose of Lent?

I’m not a bible scholar and this post isn’t about church doctrine. So, bear with my over-simplified, Laura-version of the answer to this question.

Lent is the season of roughly 40 days starting with Ash Wednesday leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, where we prepare our hearts while focusing on Jesus, getting ready for His ultimate sacrifice and following resurrection 3 days later.

It’s a time of prayer and sacrifice; usually in the way of giving up something, and for Catholics, not eating meat on Fridays, as well as fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Many people will give up something they love like candy, pop, ice cream or even something like social media for Lent. It’s a personal decision, with the primary goal to help you focus on Jesus, and draw closer to Him through your sacrifice.

I’ve done many things over the years, and I can truly say that I’ve never really accomplished my goal through any of my sacrifices. That’s no one’s fault but my own.

 

My 2015 Lenten Sacrifice:

My 2015 Lenten sacrifice wasn’t really a sacrifice in terms of giving up something. Instead, I added something into my life, with the hope and purpose to draw me closer to God.

I’ve tried this in the past too, but I always made generalized plans like “I am going to pray more.” Ok… but how and when? It was too generalized, and I often fell through.

This year, I decided that every weekday, I was going to listen to one of Father Mike Schmitz’s homily podcasts from the UMD Bulldog Catholic iTunes channel.

I’d often heard from people how much they loved listening to his podcasts that get recorded during every mass he preaches at up at UMD. I have been to masses that he’s spoken at and I’ve always loved hearing him speak in person, so I figured that’d be a great thing for me to do during Lent.

I was right.

Fr. Mike is one of the best speakers I’ve ever heard. He talks fast and incorporates real life into his messages; bringing the scriptures and the Catholic faith alive.

Every weekday during Lent, except for two that I missed, I listened to a recorded homily via iTunes. He covered topics, themes, bible stories and real life situations that spanned so many ideas and genres.

For the first time ever, I can say with 100% sincerity, I grew closer to the Lord through my Lenten sacrifice. [Or in this case, sacrificing free time or work time to listen to a 25 minute homily.]

Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens on Oahu, Hawaii by Laura Radniecki

 

Easter Weekend:

The Easter weekend services actually begin long before Easter Sunday. Lent is the preparation leading up to Easter Weekend, and the Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday. That’s the first time we read the passion of Christ during the Easter week masses.

Then, Thursday is the celebration of the Last Supper.

Good Friday is next with the passion and death of Jesus Christ.

Easter Sunday celebrates His resurrection from the dead.

[I know I’m skipping over other important parts but like I said, this isn’t a theology lesson, just a blog post. :) ]

Matt and I began our celebration of Holy Week with Palm Sunday mass, and then continued with the masses leading up to Easter Sunday.

I wanted to attend as many masses and services as I could leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The significance of what Good Friday commemorates and what Easter Sunday means for us poured through my veins this year like it never has before.

 

Good Friday:

Once again, during the Good Friday service, we read through the Gospel reading of the passion of Jesus and his death on the cross.

I’m not sure how other denominations do this, but in the Catholic church, it’s a big long reading, and the priest and deacon read different sections, as if they were in a play. There’s a narrator, speaker, Jesus and there’s a crowd section.

We, the congregation, are supposed to play the crowd. So there are a few parts that we say, most notably as the crowds of Jewish people shouting “Crucify him, crucify him!”

We did the same thing the week before on Palm Sunday, and then too, during the parts where we as a crowd are supposed to say, “No, we don’t want to free Jesus, we want to free Barabas and we want you to crucify Jesus” [I’m paraphrasing] – I honestly couldn’t say the words out loud.

It hurt my heart too much to say those words “Crucify him, crucify him” out loud.

I thought to myself, “I could never say that to Christ! How could they have all gone from praising Jesus to yelling for Him to be crucified in a matter of days??”

How fickle of them.

But then, the priest gave his homily and I was confronted with the truth of the whole matter.

I’m just like those people in the crowd. We all are, really.

Every time we turn our back on Jesus; every time we sin, we are essentially saying “Crucify him, crucify him!” We are pounding another nail into his hand…

We change our minds just as easily as those people did. We/I go from feeling connected to God in church, and then I leave, get cut off in traffic, and holler at the other driver.

We praise God for His goodness one minute, and then get a bad phone call or don’t feel well and then we panic or jump right to complaining and doubting.

Good Friday didn’t happen because of people long ago being fickle and not recognizing Jesus for who He was.

Good Friday happened because of all of us humans who sin because we’re broken and we live in a broken world.

 

Easter Sunday:

But thank the Lord that’s not the end of the story.

On Good Friday, Jesus endured the worst kind of horrific torture to save those of us who nailed him to the cross. To save us and give us a way to Heaven.

So, on Easter Sunday, the tomb was empty and Jesus rose from the dead.

Death no longer wins.

Death is no longer the end of the story.

Easter Sunday isn’t just about candy and eggs. It’s not even just about quality family time and good food.

Easter Sunday is about everlasting life. It’s about freedom from death and freedom from hell.

He is Risen!!!!

Oahu, Hawaii by Laura Radniecki

 

Now What?

Easter and the whole Lenten season are now over.

Well, I know that in the Catholic church, we’re still celebrating the Easter Season for weeks.

But in most people’s minds, Easter is over. We’re thinking spring, sunshine, and flip flops.

The thing is, I don’t want the significance of Lent and the incredible meaning of Easter to simply fall away now that Easter is over.

So, how do I not let it slip away?

For starters, I know Lent is over, but I haven’t wanted to stop listening to the podcasts yet. I think I’ll continue listening to those for awhile.

I know the intensity of Easter Sunday will fade as time passes and that’s ok. It’s hard to keep up that level of enthusiasm all the time. But I don’t want to forget the truth of what Easter Sunday means.

Jesus was a REAL HUMAN. He was a man who walked on this dirt, on this earth, and he really was killed in the most gruesome way.

He did that for me.

For you.

For us.

For us lowly, sinful, broken people who sometimes do good and often do bad. We usually try our very best, but we still frequently fail.

We don’t have to be perfect though; that’s the beauty of it. We CAN’T be perfect. Jesus died for us, flaws and all. We are perfect through Him, and our way to Heaven is now clear.

He is Risen, so death no longer wins.

He conquered all.

– – –

If you want to listen to Fr. Mike speak, there is a free app I downloaded on my phone – search “Bulldog Catholic.” It has 2+ years of his recorded homilies on it.

I also listen directly through iTunes on my computer, by searching “UMD Newman Catholic.” The UMD Bulldog Catholic website has his homilies and more information too, found here.

 

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The Beginning of A Faith Awakening

The last four months have been some of the hardest times of my life.

And yet, like most hardships, they have been some of the most growth-filled and spiritually rich months I’ve ever lived.

Even though I’ve committed myself to writing openly and freely, there are some details that are better left to myself, which I’m sure everyone understands. My goal in the posts ahead is to be as open as I can without crossing boundaries.

Since November, I’ve been dealing with some debilitating, confusing and frustrating medical issues. As someone who’s been generally healthy their whole life, I didn’t realize how much I took good health for granted. When it’s suddenly yanked from under you with no warning, it’s terrifying and maddening.

Over the holidays and in the months since, I have seen many doctors and had rounds and rounds of tests with all negative/normal results. That’s a mixed blessing: for test after test to come back negative or normal. “Yay, I don’t have leukemia, but what is making me feel this way?”

Along with weeks on the couch and millions of thoughts that swirled through my head, came the start of an awakening in my faith.

Before I dive into anything about that, the latest with my health is that I’ve been on a treatment plan for awhile to hopefully get me on the path toward feeling better. It seems to be working and I’m cautiously optimistic that I’m on the way to full health again.

I don’t know for sure what caused my sudden onset of symptoms nor do I have a definite diagnosis.

All I know is that feeling ill for months on end is debilitating and humbling beyond anything I’ve ever had to deal with.

For the millions of people around the world who deal with chronic or acute illnesses daily… my sympathy and prayers are with you. You are all warriors.

Senior Photography | Senior Portraits | Brainerd, MN photographer Laura Radniecki

During the lowest points of my illness, on days when I feared the future because I couldn’t possibly ever imagine feeling well again and the “what if’s” threatened to drown me, my choices were to slide into a bitter depression or turn to my faith.

In the last 4 months, I have changed more profoundly than in the 3 decades before.

That’s what prompted my desire to write more freely.

I have things to say and messages to share. Things I want to talk about in case others feel the same way.

So here I am.

Thank you for reading along with me.

xoxo,
Laura

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Opening the Door to Honest Writing

Where to start?

I recorded and shared a video on Facebook a few weeks ago that I recorded while taking a walk around my neighborhood. It was a rare 50+ degree day in March so I laced up my $20 Costco running shoes and headed out into the neighborhood.

I had lots on my mind, like usual. But lately, my mind and heart have been even more full.

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with the desire to write freely. Write openly. Write without censure.

I’ve been blogging since 2009. Last time I checked, I’ve written and published over 1000 blog posts. ONE THOUSAND. That’s a lot of posts and a whole lot of words.

The thing is, in all of those posts, I have NEVER felt like I wrote completely openly and honestly, without giving thought to “what people might think.”

Many of those posts were showcasing weddings or portrait sessions I’ve shot, and I would say I was open and honest about them. There’s nothing to hide or keep to myself about them. 

But the rest of the posts, especially anything pertaining to me or my life, I have simply glossed over the surface.

Now, let’s be real – my life isn’t very controversial or exciting. Not that it’s boring; I just don’t do anything real outrageous and I’m not that type of person. So it’s not like I have scandalous things to share anyway. 

But I have things I’ve dealt with and things I’ve been learning that I share with my closest circle, and I’ve felt the desire to share them and write about them more openly here too.

Why?

I asked myself that the other day – “Laura, why do you want to share these things with strangers?”

Honestly, I don’t really know why. But I do. I love to write and I feel like I think more clearly when I’m writing. I also feel like I might have stories that could help others.

LeahRathe_0053

So, on my walk around the block the other day, I felt angry. I was mad that I spent the last 5+ years writing hundreds of blog posts that merely skimmed the surface of my life and thoughts, for the sole reason that I’m so concerned about what others might think of me that I’m afraid to write honestly and openly.

Then, I got mad at myself for being mad about it. Haha, oh the circle of thoughts.

For awhile, I entertained the idea of blogging anonymously after my friend mentioned reading a blog where the blogger did just that. That sounded intriguing at first because there would be no tie to me, and no repercussions from what I might share. No potential loss of clients or harm on my reputation. 

But then, I thought… “No. I want to feel free to write what I want to write, and if people have issues with it, then that’s ok.”

That sounds so confident and self-assured when I type it out. But let’s be honest… just because I say that, doesn’t mean I feel it or believe it. I said it more like… “If people don’t like it… then I’ll probably cry and lick my wounds for weeks, but … that’s … ok?”

I have a thin skin and I’m sensitive. I always have been and I probably always will be. So the thought of being open and receiving criticism is incredibly scary to me.

But honestly, I’m tired of not doing things because I’m afraid of what might happen. There’s a saying somewhere about one way to know that you’ve never taken any risks is if you’ve never failed, or never had anyone criticize you.

So here I am. I have decided to write more openly. I have things to share, guys. They’re almost BURSTING from my heart and forcing me to take the leap.

I hope you’ll read along as I write more. I could also use your prayers.

This is scary. But I think it’ll be worth it.

xoxo,
Laura

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Laura Radniecki

Hi there! I am Laura Radniecki -- an entrepreneur, inspirational blogger and Minnesota commercial, family + wedding photographer, specializing in Celebratory Story-telling.

I'm married to my high school sweetheart, Matt, obsessed with our feisty toy poodle, Remy, and I believe fiercely in doing my very best to live my life on purpose.

I also have wild dreams of traveling the country in an RV and being the youngest Snow Bird in Minnesota history.

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