Finding Your Blue Flame

Does anyone remember the early 2000’s when everyone was all about the film The Secret? Oh my goodness, it was manifest-mayhem. People were out manifesting their destinies all over the place.

Hats, t-shirts, socks, pashminas everywhere, all engraved with the Super Secret motto of “follow your bliss.” I can even hear the creepy whisper from the film, supposed to be your Best Self telling you from the future the things you already carry in your heart from a universal knowledge held firmly within Source and delivered to you via the umbilical energy of using affirmations to train the subconscious to live your Best Life.

Now, I know that sounds a little bit critical, and maybe that’s a good thing. I’m always in favor of weighing and measuring the logic of stuff, mostly because that’s what I personally need to do, otherwise I’ll wind up cooking up some kooky/ridiculous life plan that always gets me into trouble. Seriously, when The Secret came out, I probably watched it a hundred times, and if you knew the absolutely ridiculous mistakes and mis-steps I made during that time period in my life, you’d be totally on board with me taking an extra moment or two to question my current buffoonery levels.

Image from Pexels

All tone of criticisms aside, I actually like the term “Blue Flame.” It makes an abstract concept a whole lot easier to talk about! Here’s the meaning behind the symbol:

The Blue Flame

The idea of a Blue Flame calls to mind an ordinary flame, like the one on a candle. The hottest part of the flame is not red, or orange, or yellow. The area that is the hottest part of the flame is actually blue.

Therefore, your “Blue Flame” is that thing, that mission, that purpose that totally ignites the spirit within you. You’re the whole candle in this scenario, in case you couldn’t tell.

If you’re Catholic (and even if you’re not), you can think of it as that thing that God put you here to do. Your life purpose! In Secret terms, it’s your bliss, and you’ll simply not be happy or satisfied with what you are doing with you time until you follow that bliss wherever it may lead you. Commit! Or forever know you’ve missed the opportunity and you’ll be a sad candle for all of your days!

But, here’s the thing:

You are not a machine.

You are a person, and YES it is true that God put you here in these days, on this planet, during these times. YES, it is true that you are here for a reason.

You’re not junk. You are not worthless. You are not some cosmic twist of fate of atoms colliding, or whatever the Atheists are saying, I have no idea.

You are not just some meaty animal.

You have a soul.

You have a soul! You have a soul that was given to you by a Creator who loves you.

And you are here for A purpose, but I don’t want you to feel that you are here for only ONE purpose, not the way we humans think of it, anyway. You are not an order number in some catalogue of humanity, meant for others to push some button and receive one talent from you, like you’re some sort of vending machine. That’s consumerist thinking. We don’t consume people, it’s just bad manners, not to mention nutritionally unbalanced.

…bet you never thought you’d get your daily motivation from someone who talks about life purpose and cannibalism in the same post, DID YOU?

You were meant to be a celebrity life coach……

Sincerely, -your Best Self telling you from the future the things you already carry in your heart from a universal knowledge held firmly within Source and delivered to you via the umbilical energy of using affirmations to train the subconscious to live your Best Life

Anywayyyyy,

I mention this because there are TONS of people who have zero idea what their Blue Flame could be. Or worse: they have 8,000 different ideas of what their Blue Flames could be! Now that’s much worse–now we have people running around distracted, trying to hit marks in all 8,000 different categories because they just don’t know which one is going to be a spark that catches fire and darn sparkly blue flames distracting us everywhere and Katniss Everdeen!!!!

It’s chaos, people!

PANIC! At a Blue Flame Disco Ball

Image from Pexels

I have had a fascination with words my whole life, but I still can’t find any that could describe what God sounds like.

But I know what God does NOT sound like….God does NOT sound chaotic. Ever. Chaos, separation, distraction, those are things that are not of God. If you are searching for your Blue Flame, and you are spinning around in circles, stop a minute.

Seriously, just hold still for one second. Read my proposal here:

What if you do have a Blue Flame, BUT ALSO
What if you’re meant to have several Blue Flames over the course of your life?

What if all you can do is live in the present moment, where you are in your life, today, right now?

Maybe you’re not meant to know what your Blue Flame is for the whole course of your life. Maybe God knows that you are a mere mortal (perhaps because God made you that way) and that you are meant to grow and change in this life, in preparation for becoming more holy on your way to Heaven. Maybe your mission is one thing today, and it’ll be an entirely different thing in 5 years. What if you’ll need lessons from this mission in order to complete your next one?

One little light at a time

Image from Pexels

When you get a quiet moment, just sit and enjoy for a second. Seriously, be comfortable. I want you to actually get to experience feeling grateful to be alive in this moment, right now. Just for this moment, you’re not going to worry about the past. Just for this moment, you’re not going to worry about the future. You don’t have to be an overachiever right now.

In this peaceful state, think: What is it in my life that could be A (meaning ONE) Blue Flame? I don’t have to think about all my Blue Flames right now. If a friend were to ask what they were, if I were to make a list, what is ONE of them that I would tell my friend?

List one. STOP AT ONE.

Hey, maybe you have more flames inside you. I hope so! After all, like I said, you are not some product in a predatory world, meant to be consumed in one particular way. You are multi-faceted! AND, you are only human.

(I KNOW–so intricately made AND a mere mortal? How could those things possibly go together? Well, as we Catholics say: I dunno! It’s a mystery!)

Work on one flame. Work on what you’re supposed to be doing right now.

Do it with your heart, do it with your soul. Really have the bravery to decide to care about it, make changes in your life to nurture it, fall in love with it, cherish it. It doesn’t have to be your whole identity, and then you’ll somehow whither away when it’s done. You’re not the boss over when your life ends, or why, so stop trying to be. Just do the one thing right now. It’s enough.

What is ONE FLAME I can nourish and keep burning in this current time in my life, today, right now?

You’re enough. You’re worthy. You’re growing. And you’re loved.

Sweet Freedom

The best part about letting go in this way is that now you are actually able to give yourself permission to bump into other talents you may have along the way, and to actually get to enjoy them without feeling guilt. It’s a wonderful life!

Love, Margaret.

Want more?

The following recommendations utilize affiliate links, which means if you buy any of these things, I’ll get a few pennies from them from Amazon! Thank you in advance for shopping these links, and subsequently supporting me and my writing shenanigans.

Recommended Reading

Hildegard von Bingen: Entire works.
You can’t really go wrong with anything from her. Talk about having a Blue Flame–friends, Hilde Von B was the whole birthday cake. Seriously! Author, apothecary, abbess (like a Mother Superior big boss lady), traveller, visionary, musical composer, speaker…all of these things are impressive enough, now add the fact that she did it all as a woman in the Medieval era, and it’s hard not to start bust out singing some Aretha Franklin. Make sure something of hers winds up in the stockings of all of your feminist friends this holiday season.

Jennifer Fulwiler: One Beautiful Dream
Ok, Ok, it’s certainly convenient to me to mention her, since any way you slice it, she’s trending. But I’m very glad she is. Here’s a woman who really had to find her Blue Flame, and she talks about it often with humor that many of us can enjoy. People can sometimes think one little sign is now the prescription for their whole lives–women especially, thinking “Oh, I had a child, so motherhood is obviously my ONLY BLUE FLAME!” but then they write something that, turns out, is meaningful and benefits lots of people, so they think “Oh NO I did another good thing; how could God give me another talent, since developing this talent that God literally gave me would be CHEATING ON MY BLUE FLAME oh noooooo!” Jennifer Fulwiler shares her insights on how to do what God put us here to do without ruining our lives trying to be control freaks over the whole shebang.

St. John of the Cross: The Dark Night of the Soul
Of course, if you’ve already gotten to the point where you have tried to become a super control freak over the whole shebang of your life, you’ll probably really feel it when I say that you’ve likely left yourself unsatisfied…dare I say it, disappointed. Disillusioned. St. John of the Cross uses more complicated language, but it’s still worth a read for anyone who has encountered pride, and has gone-th they way pride goes….bang. This is a great book to read little bits of at a time, savoring and ruminating, and eventually coming back to a place of peace and relaxation in God’s presence.

Mother Angelica: Practical Holiness
Here’s a different perspective on what we’re meant to be up to. According to Mother Angelica, our one and only job–the one thing we are meant to do with our lifetime–is to learn to be holy, and to prepare ourselves to be reunited with God in Heaven. Don’t worry–she’s got ideas, tips, advice, and tons of comfort to offer in this book that anyone can follow, at every stage of life.

And of course,

Margaret Nelson (Yours truly!): The Ten Minute Quit
This book was written for folks who are recovering from smoking nicotine like I did. However, the methods I used sent me on TONS of discoveries about who I really am, my natural skills and talents, and the passions in my heart that were waiting, buried under hurts and issues I had been using cigarettes to cope with.

Thanks again for shopping these affiliate links and supporting this blog!

More Recommendations

Pollyannie
A dose of positivity to your day, Pollyannie shares her discoveries exploring her God-given talents in her blog, as well as shares the surprise adventures that God sends her on. Find her at: www.pollyannie.com

Mother Angelica
Yes, yes, I know: MORE Mother Angelica?! I just love her. I’m so grateful for her work, and for recording so many of her talks so that I could enjoy watching her get off topic for a joke, tell her renditions of what may have happened during Biblical times, and quoting Scripture in-between sips from her mustache cup–which she needed because her nose was too long to avoid the ice cubes in her water! She was a great teacher who taught me about the faith, while also teaching me not to take myself so seriously. Worth a watch, or in my case, a few dozen watches.

Got a book, blog, product, or idea that would fit into this discussion? Email me at contact@maggieothevalley.com OR info@maggieothevalley.com
I’ll review things weekly, and if I like ’em, I’ll put links up on my blog

If you have any comics or illustrations that would fit in this post, I would love to post them and promote your work!

SHARE WITH ME: Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter if you want to share your Blue Flame adventures (or misadventures). I would love to support and encourage you on social media! Just look for me at maggieothevalley

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Biphasic Sleep: I tried it for a week!

Here’s a breakdown of my progress during my exploration of biphasic sleep.

Thursday
Daytime: wakeful the entire day.
Bedtime: 8PM
Nighttime Wakefulness: Nope. Slept through the whole dang thing.
Takeaway lesson about my sleep: I seem to need more of it than I’m getting.

Friday
Rise Time: 4:30AM. Felt rested, felt great!
I loved being up before the sun, before the day began. I did chores, wrote, did schoolwork, had a huge workout, shower, and completed an entire beauty routine all in the morning.
Midday Rest: Slept 1.5 hours.
I woke up feeling as though I had slept a whole entire night all over again. I woke up feeling as though it surely must be sometime in the evening, and it blew my mind when I checked the phone and saw it was only noon!
I had a hugely productive afternoon doing grad work, author work, and entrepreneur work. I gassed up the car and felt rested and almost optimistic about things. Also, my appetite was really normal! I didn’t need an afternoon snack, or even a pick-me-up in the form of a soda or a cookie.
Bedtime: 11PM, after staying up to have a late dinner and watch some television.
Nighttime Wakefulness: Nope, I slept through the whole dang thing tonight as well.
Takeaway: Quality rest produces a quality work/home/life/mood day.

Saturday
Rise Time: 7 AM. Felt groggy. Really needed some coffee.
This morning I felt a little directionless and very cranky. I wondered if it was due to insufficient planning for the day or if it was because I was yet again on my older schedule. I lamented a little bit–now that I had gotten a reminder of what it felt like to be rested, it was a little frustrating not to get to enjoy that today. I decided to go to the gym to let off some steam.
My appetite was off the charts. I ate sugary foods and pre-packaged ramen–anything that could be ready quickly.
Midday Rest: I tried to see if I could repeat yesterday’s success with a nap, but I was restless and couldn’t settle my mind down.
Bedtime: 8:30PM. Tossed and turned from being too sore and from starting (unwisely) to think about wedding planning instead of writing down ideas to think of later.
Nighttime Wakefulness: Wasn’t able to fall asleep yet, so I put on some old YouTube Videos of Mother Angelica to help me drift off to sleep with happy thoughts.
Takeaway: I need to train myself to have a sense of completion about my day, and to give my mind permission to let things go when it’s time to settle down and rest.

Sunday
I did not log my sleep today.

Monday
Rise Time: 7 AM. Hit “snooze” a few times. Got up and had to hurry. Today was a good day, as I got to visit with friends, and house-cleaning efforts left the house still in pretty good shape today.
Midday Rest: Had a short snooze in the very late afternoon. Woke up groggy, but otherwise in a good mood.
Appetite was huge today! I had three-bean salad with olive oil and tuna, and it really hit the spot. Also, I was pretty thirsty today.
Bedtime: 9PM-ish. Eugene and I like to look at funny articles together and comment about them until we get sleepy.
Nighttime Wakefulness: Nothing yet!
Takeaway: Maybe I have recovered after several days of good sleep, and I no longer really need bed by 8:30 PM. I feel my clock changing and natural waves of sleep beginning to emerge.

Tuesday
Rise Time: 5:30 AM. Naturally woke up at this time, but still wanted to rest a little more.
Midday Rest: I did take a nap for about an hour.
Appetite: Was good, not great. I think considering symptoms of Long-Distance, I was doing pretty darn well today.
Bedtime: Around 10. Felt a natural wave of sleepiness, which allowed me to drift off pretty quickly.
Nighttime Wakefulness: STILL nothin’! It’s like I am needing and using every moment of sleep that I’m getting.
Takeaway: When I am going through waves of coping, more rest, and more meaningful rest, seems to be beneficial in helping me get through it.

Wednesday
Rise time: 6 AM. Hit the snooze button a bunch.
Midday Rest: Didn’t want one. I was plenty satisfied following right along with the work day, going right into grad schoolwork and author work, even working through lunch.
Appetite is normal, maybe a little on the low side. I had a slice of bread and butter for breakfast, and several cups of green tea. My body seems more interested in the warm tea than in anything else.

Takeaway for the Week

I’m more convinced than ever about the benefits of adequate sleep. It’s also fascinating to note my body going from needing an extreme phase of recovery, to now starting to fit into a natural sleep rhythm from about 9:30 to around 5 or so in the morning. Anything outside of those hours seems to make it inevitable that I’ll either need a nap, or will likely hit “snooze” more often than I should.

Perhaps when I’m not feeling so mentally taxed, I won’t need such extreme amounts of sleep. It’s a theory. In the meantime, my plan is to continue to nourish good, healthy sleep habits.

Summary: Did it help me at all?

I initially wanted to know if following a biphasic sleep pattern would improve the quality of my life and my mental health. Here are what I’m measuring and how I’m doing, now that I’ve been practicing this sleep pattern for a week.

  • Sleeping through the night: IMPROVED. Not only am I sleeping through the night, I feel as though I have been getting extra sleep that I’ve sorely needed, probably due to the current mental load my brain is dealing with.
  • Enough energy for daily demands: IMPROVED. Not perfect, but at the very least, I’ve had time every day for health, hygiene, paperwork, author work, schoolwork, social time, and extra things like putting on makeup and keeping up with chores.
  • Extra energy for working out and/or tackling projects: IMPROVED. I have started having enough energy for longer, more intense workouts every day.
  • Relief from depression-like symptoms: MILD IMPROVEMENT. Im still experiencing some blah’s, but having enough sleep has helped me with finding words to communicate with loved ones, and for prayer as well.
  • Appetite (not over- or under-eating): IMPROVED. I’m the type who will either eat too much, or forget to eat at all. Having enough sleep has helped me naturally enjoy healthy food, plus feel satisfied with small, consistent meals.
  • Naturally-occurring pattern of two phases of sleep per day: NO IMPROVEMENT. Not only was I sleeping through the night each night, I often found a ton of rest in midday naps this past week. Whatever it is that I’m recovering through psychologically, I clearly have needed the recuperation.
  • Peaceful time of wakefulness during the night where I could spend time in prayer and meditation without distraction: NO IMPROVEMENT. I’ve been sleeping, seemingly round the clock! BUT, lll
  • Productivity; in other words, the amount of work I am able to accomplish every day: HUGE IMPROVEMENT. As much as I’ve been sleeping, I feel as though I’ve accomplished 10 times as much as I usually do, and without being over-stressed or strapped for emotional energy afterwards.
  • Memory; the amount of information I am able to retain: IMPROVED. I’m currently studying for exams, and actually starting to feel more confident about them. A little.
  • Synthesis; the quality of my ability to think about what I am learning in school, and to synthesize ideas and discussions from it: IMPROVED. This has been a huge week for developing more creative ideas in my studies, in business, in writing, and I’ve even been able to help encourage others who are developing their ideas as well.

Well I’m convinced.

So typing up my experience and the improvements I’ve seen, it’s pretty clear that this has been a beneficial exercise for me.

I can feel my body naturally craving sleep at different times–and hey, that’s a huge step too, right? It’s a big accomplishment to know what being sleepy actually feels like, much like someone who overeats has to learn the difference between physical and emotional hunger. Now I know when I’m sleepy. So I just go to sleep.

In the coming week, I hope to have more regular times for sleep. I have a feeling that the exercise aspect of my routine is directly related to the quality and quantity of my rest. Perhaps as my body gets accustomed to physical recovery, the mental aspect of rest will be something that will be more routine as well? Plus, I’d really like to get to a point where I am so “caught-up” with rest and recovery that I actually naturally do get to enjoy some quiet nighttime hours of repose, prayer, and thoughtfulness. I’m looking forward to that a lot.

Margaret Nelson is the founder and contributor to Maggie O’the Valley, and author of THE TEN MINUTE QUIT, available on Amazon

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Biphasic Sleep Patterns

For good mental health, thou shall tackle thy bedtime.

What is biphasic sleep?

Biphasic sleep refers to portioning a day to include two segments of sleep instead of one. Most folks I know only do one.

Why choose biphasic sleep?

For starters, without going into too much detail, I can say that I am entering into an incredibly stress-heavy period of life at the moment. Experiencing symptoms of general “blah” feeling, perhaps even a little depression, have prompted me to pay some extra attention to my current state of mental health.

Biphasic sleep is a term I encountered when researching the biopsychology and behavioral science of leisure, learning, and brain health. I do plan to make my discoveries a part of my Masters program; but in the meantime, I could certainly see the benefit for my personal life first.

Biphasic sleep is a sleep pattern that was common to most people before the Industrial age. Folks who did not have electric lights in the home (aka most everyone) followed the patterns of the sun for their day-to-day activities. This meant they would naturally go to bed when the sun went down, and would also naturally wake with the dawn, without the use of alarms or artificial light to help them get going.

In other words, for thousands of years, humans went to sleep this way. It’s only in the past sneeze of the human timeline that people have been going to bed when they say so, forcing themselves to wake by literally surprising themselves with blaring alarms and lights.

From what I’ve read, there would also be naturally-occurring times of wakefulness during the night. How wonderful this information would be to an “insomniac”–to know that may be it’s actually ok, and even good, to wake up in the middle of the night?! People used to use this time to write, meditate, pray, spend time being intimate with their spouses, reading if they were educated, or simply looking out at the stars. And since children and teens naturally need more sleep and would likely sleep through the whole night, the adults experiencing these adult sleep patterns had natural times of quiet and parental “downtime” built into each and every day.

Don’t get me wrong; I never thought biphasic sleep would be a cure-all for all my problems. Still, when endeavoring for health, wellness, and healing, it never hurts to stack the deck in our favor, right? So I figured I would give it a try.

Trying it for a week

I wanted to know if my life would improve in these areas:

  • Sleeping through the night
  • Enough energy for daily demands
  • Extra energy for working out and/or tackling projects
  • Relief from depression-like symptoms
  • Appetite (not over- or under-eating)
  • Naturally-occurring pattern of two phases of sleep per day
  • Peaceful time of wakefulness during the night where I could spend time in prayer and meditation without distraction
  • Productivity; in other words, the amount of work I am able to accomplish every day
  • Memory; the amount of information I am able to retain
  • Synthesis; the quality of my ability to think about what I am learning in school, and to synthesize ideas and discussions from it

I’ll definitely post a follow-up as I continue to learn about this pattern of sleep. It definitely feels counter-cultural, which is so interesting since this used to the the normal way people ran their lives. Maybe there are important things we can learn from the past!

Until next time!

Love,

Margaret

Margaret Nelson is the founder and contributor to Maggie O’the Valley, and author of THE TEN MINUTE QUIT, now available on Amazon!

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March: Thank you Readers!

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Howdy neighbors!

I’ve gotten a few new readers this month, and I wanted to create a post as a kind of welcome.

Now that you’re here, I wanted to thank you personally for buying my book. It was a joy to discover the materials I wrote about, and an absolute honor to write from start to finish.

It’s my very first book ever! Eugene and I laugh because I had to write, edit, preview, and format it all myself. He and I designed the cover together, and he actually generated it for me because he’s awesome. Anyway, it was definitely a DIY endeavor. We still joke about the fact that we couldn’t hire someone to format this for me–we laugh about how I literally couldn’t even afford page numbers, HA!

It was challenging, but it was so worth it. Know why? Because of you. I told my best friend during the time of the final edits that all the effort would be worth it if the book helps just one person let go of unhealthy feelings of guilt or shame.

It’s worth it if one person can actually imagine a life of freedom for the very first time.

It’s worth it if just one person starts to hope for the future.

It’s worth it if just one person has the thought of: “I think I can actually do this!”

If just one person looks around and sees that life is worth living…

If just one person starts to get the idea that they are worth loving..

Then it’s worth it. It’s all been worth it, and will always be. And the best part is, whatever benefits you might gain from exploring my book belong to you, 100%. I’m just a friendly voice of encouragement to walk with you through this transition, so that you know without a doubt that you aren’t alone.

So thank you. Thanks for letting me walk with you. Thanks for reading my story, and trying some of these things out yourself. Thanks for your feedback–it makes me a better writer every day. And thanks for following along with me. It makes me a better human every day.

Love,

Margaret

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Fiance Visa: A Real Timeline

Buenos Aires, Obelisco.
Copyright 2017, Margaret Nelson.

Getting married to someone from a different country is a long process. Here’s a look at the time it took for Eugene and I to get that stamp!

I’ll be updating this post periodically to give you an actual timeframe of the time it took for the whole process. Hopefully any engaged people out there can use it to plan things with their significant others accordingly.

This is just how it was for us; I have no idea whether we’d be a typical case or not. And neither of us are affiliated with any immigration offices–we’re just ordinary people, and I’m hoping this information helps bring comfort and more experience to other couples who find the process a little intimidating and need hope and community, like we did.

Our Timeline

JANUARY 2019:
-Completed and submitted paperwork for I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance
-Bank statement showed check for visa processing fee had been withdrawn from my account.
-Received text message notifying me that USCIS had received paperwork and would begin processing our case (Form G-1145 gave USCIS permission to use my phone number in order to text me that our packet had been received.

Wait time so far: 13 days

FEBRUARY 2019:
-Received form I-797 in the mail. This form is an Official Receipt Notice, and told us which processing center would be handling our case.
-Checked USCIS webpage practically every day and plugged in receipt number to check status of our case. No change.

Wait time so far: 42 days

MARCH 2019:
No change in Visa status. We’re still waiting for processing.
-Oh my GOOOOOOSH it’s so hard to wait for news!

Wait time so far: 73 days

APRIL 2019:
-Received a notice of approval! Now to wait for approval form to arrive in the mail. This will inform us of our next steps!
-Received our notice of approval in the mail! Now to wait for the NVC to process our paperwork and send everything over to Argentina, where Eugene will have his interview!

Wait time so far: 103 days

MAY 2019:
-We hadn’t heard anything for 30 days, so I followed instructions on our last notice about how to inquire about our progress.
-Received notice that our packet has been processed by the NVC! Now we wait for the U.S. Embassy and/or Consulate to process our information. My understanding at this point is that they’ll take several weeks to go through everything, but once they do, they’ll schedule an interview and make sure Eugene’s applications are in.
-It’s our first bit of homework time to do since putting our initial packet together; now it’s time for us to make more applications and gather documents to bring to the interview.
-Finally got an official packet of instructions from the consular office in Eugene’s country. Luckily, it’s the same information as the stuff we found from our own research, but it was great to get some validation that we are “officially” on the right track!

Wait time so far: 134 days

JUNE 2019:
-This month is all about getting Eugene’s paperwork in order. He has to fill out some forms, get biometrics done, and get his police report printed.
-Once these things are done, we can call the NVC and schedule his interview at the Consulate in Argentina! It’s getting close, folks!

Wait time so far: 164 days

JULY 2019:
-This month has been busier for Eugene than for me. We have gathered as much evidence to prove the duration and commitment level of our relationship as possible, including written things from my family that vouch for us, too. Eugene has been running around meeting with translators, notaries, biometrics appointments and such.
-His interview is scheduled for the end of the month! I hope we’ve remembered everything!

Margaret Nelson is founder and contributor to Maggie O’the Valley, and author of THE TEN MINUTE QUIT, available on Amazon

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