Parenting Reboot


5 Steps to overcome a Miserable Parenting Day

NO one is happy. Everyone is crying. Someone hates you–they all hate you. You left the house a mess. You started off late, continue to be late and spilled your coffee.

It is OK to not be your best all the time. We all have those days — days when we would rather binge watch Netflix and eat M&M’s and Kettle Corn…(mixed together BTW).

If today is not turning out to be an award-winning, memory making day, hit the reboot button. Shift your focus–recharge, restore and renew. How does one do that? First, turn off the tech…(after you read this of course.) Next, focus on the golden nuggets that are hiding in the mess.

Here are Five simple things to turn your day around

NOTICE the Light

If you look at some of the great artists, like Rembrandt, his paintings are dark at first, and they could be called ugly. But, the beauty in a Rembrandt is found in the subtleties of light. If you observe the painting long enough you will see it: the very faint touches of light on the side of a face, on an arm, on a sleeve, or a piece of fabric. Rembrandt’s predominantly black masterpieces are a study of light.

When you take the time to see the beauty, you begin to notice the smaller things you may have missed if you had rushed by. As an artist I can tell you, those values are important to making a composition work — the contrast of light to dark. The darkness allows us to see the gentle light which we would not otherwise notice.

In life, there is always some light. Even in the murkiest of times, hiding in the muck, there is something that you can find to hold onto and give you hope. Hard days, just like difficult phases in life, are an opportunity to see situations with new light. We simply need to shift our thinking by weeding out the clutter. Sometimes, we have the opportunity to do that for ourselves, sometimes life does that for us.

One of the greatest things you can learn when you’ve been stripped down to nothing is that what’s left in front of you is often what’s most valuable. (from Crushed:When Parenting is Hard)

If life has hit you hard and you feel like darkness surrounds you, stop to notice — what do you have left? You have the gentle light — the small joys– that’s what is most important. If you’re too busy, you could miss those little morsels of gold. Choose to notice. Look at your schedule and cut out anything that isn’t a top priority today.

Start there today. Begin again. What is left in front of you is where you need to focus.


Are you holding your breath? Stop that!

Take some deep breaths — in through the nose [1, 2, 3, 4,] and out the mouth [4, 3, 2, 1.] Count 4 in, and 4 out until you feel yourself relax. Stress has an awful side effect that causes some of us to hold our breath. I noticed myself doing so when out older kids were teens, in the middle of the suicide cluster that hit our community and after our son’s night in the ICU from binge drinking. I had to intentionally recognize when I was holding my breath, and force myself to breathe. If you haven’t heard of the APP Headspace, check it out. I wish I had known about it back then.

Reflection and quiet are important for your outlook. Hard times or hard days, if you see them as an opportunity to readjust your sails, could end up being powerful and pivotal moments in your life. It is usually in the quiet that we give ourselves the space to learn. Stress is the pull from what our reality is, and what we are expecting it to be, reflecting on what our focus should be is very helpful. It’s human nature to learn from our wrong turns in life, so take advantage of the teachable moment for yourself. 10 minutes could redirect your whole day.



Get out of the house, change your surroundings. Go outside; go to a coffee shop, stop in church, mosque, synagogue, or the beach and say a prayer. If you’re at work, take a break and change your location. There’s something about fluorescent lights that will make you a little nuts. Keeping yourself if one spot for too long isn’t good for you. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that make you feel good! Boost them naturally, go walk. 20 minutes of walking makes a

Your body-brain connection is real. Be attentive to how you take care of your body, and ultimately how you feel. Exercise boosts endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that make you feel good! Twenty minutes of walking makes a HUGE difference in your brain function and how you feel.


Find Joy

It’s the small things. I’m sure you all saw the Chewbacca mom. Find joy: watch something funny or reach out and talk with an old friend! Jolting the good things in your life lets joy take over the negative. Do not keep to yourself. People are socially connected, we need one another. Reach out and make a connection.

Oxytocin is the relationship bonding hormone, and like endorphins, our brains need Oxytocin —  another “happy” neurotransmitter. It’s secreted during childbirth, nursing a baby, intimacy, and by simply laughing or hugging someone. A good long hug, 20 seconds or more, could change  your whole mindset. Try taking that kid, who is driving you nuts lately, (maybe even out of school) out for ice cream.

Sometimes our lives are so cluttered that we miss the small moments. We need to stop the full steam ahead craziness long enough to recognize the simple, small, golden nuggets in the day.


Be Grateful for Something

One thing!. Be grateful for one small thing. You may look around and see piles of mess or a laundry list of tasks, but be grateful for that one bowl that made it to the sink. It’s one less thing on the counter! Score! For me, I hate laundry. We have 10 people in our family…. I

For me, I hate laundry. We have 10 people in our family…. I really hate laundry (and shoes, but we’ll talk about that another time.)

An attitude of gratefulness can change a morning of mess into one of peace.

I had a mom who was about 10 years ahead of me in the family journey help me shift my attitude about my detest for laundry. She suggested that I pray for each child as I fold their clothes. She told me to pray for every aspect of their little lives; for their friendships, character, sadness, joys, and future. Slowly, folding laundry turned into a time to focus on the gratefulness I have for the lives of my children.

So GO! Take a break. Call a friend, go for a walk. Read that cranky kid a book, take the disgruntled teen out for food, put your feet up and breathe.


You will find yourself — Recharged. Restored. Renewed.

NOW it’s ok to turn off the tech.

More from Melissa:


Twitter @daytonmom8

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I’m disgusted, as you all are, by the news this week. I am proud of my feminist activist friends (Go girls!) using this news story to discuss a topic no one wants to address. But on a deeper level, are you outraged enough? Let’s be honest, the Stanford story is the end result of years of entitlement and bailing out a kid who was ‘special’ and above the rules of society. That is a parenting issue. If we want the disregard for others to stop, we must take back parenting.You Can NOT Be Replaced

Peel back the layers.

Consider this, the rape can not be the first time this young man has been bailed out by his parents. Their language flowed too easily playing down his ‘bad decisions’ and shifting blame. As a community of adults, what we need to recognize is, they are not the first parents to attempt to erase their kid’s actions and consequences. This kind of parenting or lack of parenting is an epidemic.

Zamboni parenting.

Smoothing out the impact of a child’s bad behavior so they feel no pain, is a serious issue in parenting that has to be addressed. We’ve seen parents, whose child had broken the school’s athletic code, by getting arrested for underage drinking, go after the school for suspending their child from a team. They even went so far as to sue the school board to remove the policy. They didn’t want their child’s college scholarship impacted. The child signed the school policy contract, and so did the parents, but that didn’t matter in their eyes. We have a similar contract we have read with our kids, discussed the seriousness of, and signed as well. So- my child would have had the consequence enforced, but yours is ‘special’?

We’ve seen school administrations let entire athletic teams off from a 2-week suspension after getting arrested for a house party, saying ‘let’s hop over this one’ because states were around the corner. The team was ‘special’. We’ve asked parents in other communities, who have had several student deaths, to have zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol at graduation so as not to trigger hidden emotions and increase the chance of a repeat. Only to have found out weeks later their community had several parties with ‘the keg flowing’ and ‘copious amounts of alcohol everywhere’, graduates and underclassman, it was a ‘special’ occasion.

I had a teen reach out to me for service hours from You Can NOT Be Replaced after getting arrested for creating thousands of dollars in damage to a property with friends, only to turn down the few hours I offered because ‘I have football’ and was ‘much too busy’. I never to heard from him or his parents again. Did he ever do his hours? Too bad, volunteering with our organization is fun and an opportunity to have a strong mentoring experience with some great people.

A missed opportunity- A lesson in entitlement.

“The rules don’t apply to me, I’m special.”

Teens have told us they drink at home, their parents allow it. Parents tell us, ‘they are honor students and work so hard, what the harm in letting them drink?” Have you ever stopped to think the hidden message you are teaching? You know it’s developmentally inappropriate, against the law, tell them don’t get caught, but you allow it, why?

Too often parents think getting angry with their kids, and showing them how disappointed they are when they have done something stupid, is lesson enough. That is not enough to teach what they need to learn. There needs to be an act of reparation with a life lesson. If not they begin to learn…

“I’m above the law, those rules don’t apply to me.”

Until parents are all outraged, it won’t stop. We have to shift focus. Stop this movement within our culture of the ‘special’ kid. Parenting goals have to stop being to raise a kid who gets a full ride to a division one college. It’s too easy to excuse illegal behavior because they ‘work so hard’, ‘getting the scholarship is their job’. We are allowing the ‘whatever they please attitude’, regardless of the wake they leave behind them, as long as they achieve for us.

The goal for parents needs to be character focused.

What kind of adult are you raising?

All parents think their kids are special. My kids are special. All eight of them. I have three who are over 21, highly functioning, bright, funny, compassionate and contributing to their community with their gifts and talents.

Yes, a virtual pat on the back.

That didn’t just happen! It was work!

The sacrifice of our own wants, focusing on cultivating strength of character and being willing to have them hate us for doing what ‘no one else’ ever had to do! Chip and I worked to intentionally form their moral compass, provide outside influences that supported our goals and used incredible tenacity to enforce the consequences to that needed to be imposed when they failed.

I’m “that mom’…the crazy one.

The mom who says NO! The one who will not allow drinking, who makes their friends come to the door, look us in the eye and shake our hands. Chip and I call other homes to make sure parents are home (we draw straws, it’s hard to do!). I’m the mom who sent a letter on social media to all my son’s friends when he almost died from binge drinking and I’m the annoying mom who tells you stats of student loss at a cocktail party.

Yes, I’m that mean mom.

I’m the one who is the kill-joy, the fun-sucker and the buzz-kill (seriously, friends call me that). But I’m old enough that I don’t care what anyone thinks of me. My job is to raise kids that are self-aware, have a developed conscience and empathy towards others, not care what anyone thinks. And I don’t care if the information I share makes you uncomfortable or squirm just a bit. Because I would rather piss you off now, have you make some ‘adjustments’ while hating me a little, than have you call me in tears in the aftermath of a crisis. I’ve met too many parents who are Crushed.ebook

Our job as parents is to raise highly functioning adults.

Our job is not to raise D1 Athletes, Rhode scholars, music or movie stars, and Wall Street billionaires. It is our job to raise good people, who understand that each person is worthy of being treated with a deep level of dignity, integrity, and respect. Our kids need to learn that we treat people that way regardless of whether or not we like them, agree with them or know them. If emotional strength and character are the focus, then regardless of their career path, we have accomplished what we set out to do. We have raised a highly functioning adult.

My kids are leaders, all eight, and have been since they were little.

Other kids follow them. It’s their call in life, and our job to cultivate. I make them all a little nuts reminding them that they are visible, athletic, attractive, artistic and talented and being watched. They are ‘special’. So are yours. But, they are NOT above the code of conduct. They need to understand and appreciate the power of their influence in the lives of others.b16 (1)

It’s our job as parents to show our kids ‘how’ to be a contributing member of our larger community by modeling what it means to be a selfless and responsible adult. All of us have a responsibility to impact others for good, and through the visibility of our gifts, we can do that. Our gifts make us special, but not entitled and above the basic goodness that people are capable of.

What makes me sad is, I have actually had other parents leave the athletic field their kids were playing on to stop and watch one of mine, then proceed to apologize for their kid’s lack of talent. How tragic for their kid, gifts aren’t always visible. My kid’s gifts only give them more responsibility to act with integrity. Not to mention 8 kids is a visible thing, we stick out anyway, gifted or not.

We have worked VERY hard to make sure our kid’s character comes first. There’s no excuse for lazy when it comes to the formation of character. Mediocre has to stop. If we can demand excellence in their athletic and academic life, why can’t we demand it from their character? That means obeying the law too.

That effort to consistently remind them of this responsibility has worked for our family so far, we are often stopped by teachers, store owners, people who have met our children at work or out in the community who have told us that our kids are exceptionally polite and kind. They’ve won leadership and character awards and Emily was even a Coach Wooden Citizen Cup award semi-finalist as a sophomore in college. That award was won by Tim Tebow and Mia Hamm. A happy and proud parent moment.11356449_1461444864174252_1963355944_n



Guess what?

My highly functioning, bright and compassionate adults


Multiple times.

We have had the call from the school, the letter from the superintendent (oops), the call from the screaming parent, the police station, and a hospital visit that ended in a miracle. We’ve had semesters home for bad grades and even had to kick out a kid for spending so much money on clothes that he was getting hand written notes from the sales people. We did that because that money was supposed to be paying off students loans. Integrity and keeping one’s word is an essential successful adult character trait. He had to learn the lesson before that bad pattern was cemented in him.

As parents, those failures are hard to watch, hard to discipline and hard to follow through with consequences. We wanted so much to make the uncomfortable situations go away, and it was a pain in the tail to have to enforce those consequences. We had to suffer too. But it was our responsibility to do so and raise kids that were aware that their choices impacted others. They needed to learn through the smaller situations so that they didn’t continue with the bad behavior into adulthood. We all know undisciplined adults, that just doesn’t happen either, that takes years to form.

They need to fail while still in our home to learn:

Life is not about them
Choices impact others- good and bad
They will be held accountable for their actions

So are you outraged? Are you pissed at me? That’s ok.

Harness that emotion and stop. Reevaluate. Set goals, goals for you as parents, for your kids and for your family that are established to create core values. Continually evaluate how you’re doing. If you are unsure of how to strengthen your family, look for an outside support system to help you. Take the steps to find a community of adults who will support you in the character development of your child, so that one day you can look at your adult children and be proud of not just the job they have, but the people they are.

Take back parenting!

Follow Melissa on Twitter @daytonmom8

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Brittany Barbera


By Brittany Barbera

In the aftermath of a crisis, nothing really fits. We feel shaken and afraid, and often, incredibly alone. As the depth of our pain threatens to consume us, we wonder if we will ever be happy again. At times, we secretly wonder if we’ll ever want to be happy again because, more than learning to flourish in our “new normal,” what we really want is our old life back—and that is no longer an option.

Despite our internal pain, life keeps on going. Our responsibilities don’t suddenly stop because we no longer have the energy to deal with them anymore.  Life continues to force us into routines, and, day by day, we trek on. We force ourselves to function when we’d rather stay in bed all day.  We watch as other people move on and forget what we never will. To the outside world, it seems as though we are doing alright, but deep down we are still in the throes of anguish and grief, and maybe even despair.

The healing process can feel like an arduous uphill climb, with a vague idea of where the summit is, or if it even exists. If you are upset about the slow ascent up healing hill, I feel your pain.  I wish I could just snap my fingers and miraculously un-do whatever has caused your fragile heart to break. Since I can’t change your circumstances, I’m simply praying you will find comfort in knowing you are not alone. We may never meet in person, and I may never hear all the details of your story, but:

I see you.

And I see your pain.

And I care.

As you grieve, please be kind to yourself. You’re doing the best you can, and that’s enough. Take baby steps and acknowledge the small victories, the things that are easy to dismiss as insignificant, because there is nothing small about them.  Look for beauty in the tiniest of things: the comfort of a hot cup of coffee on a cold day, the resilience of a flower blossoming in the spring after a rough winter, making it through an entire day without tears, or genuinely laughing about something silly.  When you are surrounded by darkness, even the faintest light serves as a lifeline, connecting you to a world beyond your ever-present pain, where living seems possible again. If you keep your eyes open, eventually you will find something worth noticing.

The unfortunate reality is that healing, like time, does its own thing. No matter how much you want to speed it up, it keeps a steady pace and refuses to be manipulated. Give yourself permission to experience your emotions, but be willing to work through them as well. Sometimes, the most seemingly futile things are the most fundamental part of healing. It’s not fun and it certainly is not easy, but allow grief to help you get to the other side of your agonizing loss. Though the passing of time will not heal our wounds, as many promise, it will not drown out all future joy either.  So, be compassionate toward yourself and let your barely-aliveness mingle with the flames of hope until something catches, and healing begins.





Brittany Barbera is a Nashville-based, singer/songwriter and the bestselling author of Let Me Be Weak: What People in Pain Wish They Could Tell You.  Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter, and download a free mp3 here.


You Can NOT Be Replaced National Suicide Prevention Week 2015

The You Can NOT Be Replaced National Suicide Prevention Week 2015 campaign is called NOTICE.

Reach out. Connect. Give Hope.

suicide prevention week campaign 2015

suicide prevention week campaign 2015

People are born into community. We need to empower our young people to know the risks of not reaching out and coming to a trusted adult for themselves or others in crisis. There is a difference between isolation that causes people to retreat from the things and people they love and a break from friends that they come back refreshed from. Our teens need to be watch dogs on social media, and as adults we need to build trust with teens so they are more likely to reach out for help.

Check out our campaign  here:

Or consider having us come speak to your students.

Bridge 1 filter

The goal of a YCNBR presentation is to add value to each of your students, empower leaders to notice fellow classmates and help you reach the ones that might be struggling. Our message for parents is the same. Build trust, evaluate expectations and value your child for who they are, not what they produce.

When teens understand they are irreplaceable, it just makes sense that their peers are as well. By addressing underlying issues that can lead to destructive behavior, reasons for bullying, taking risks, or abusing substances begins to fade. Those struggling with mental health issues are encouraged to keep working on coping and resiliency by focusing on the gift their life is to others. With self-worth intact; relationships improve, teens become forward thinking, choose better friends, value family and embrace a life of purpose.

You Can NOT Be Replaced December Campaign #BeAGift 2014

You Can NOT Be Replaced Board of Awesome Hurricane Sandy

Chip and I found this old notebook with one of our stickers on it from our Hurricane Sandy days a couple weeks ago. I thought it would be appropriate to tell the story of the sticker now as we head into the holidays full force.

The holiday season is a time when we all put some effort into giving; to our loved ones, friends, neighbors…and also ‘people in need’. During Sandy, we had an intimate view into the lives of ‘people in need’ and how it feels to be given help.

Receiving help is not easy.

‘UR the one’ is what we said to each person who came through those doors and would tell us ‘save that for someone who really needs it’. We would say, ‘that’s YOU! You are the one!’ Not one person was comfortable receiving help. NOT ONE. To lesson the blow of an already stressful situation we all would ‘personal shop’ and take things off the shelf for them, remind them the items were already theirs….day after day.

Hurricane Sandy Campaign UR the one

Hurricane Sandy Campaign UR the one

Its a very difficult thing for people to be flooded with ‘stuff’ when they are in crisis mode. Whether people need the items or not cant be the focus. We need to stop and reflect on how some people.. not all…feel receiving help.

People on the receiving end can feel guilty, not worthy, like failures for not being able to provide those ‘things’ themselves. Grateful, but embarrassed…it goes on. The hurricane experience was a very interesting lesson for all of us. There needs to be an emphasis in sincere and gentle giving.

During the holdiay’s we often have surges of self reward as we put that $5 candy land game in the toy bin as if we done something extravagantly awesome. We need to stop and think. How would it feel if I was on the other end of that gift… very different for a child vs an adult.

When we give, when we help ‘people in need’; remember that they are often in some kind of crisis, life transition, or turmoil. Their hearts are burdened, heavy and stressed. To truly give, to give with all your heart means to do so with sincerity, gentleness, kindness and to so quietly. We show the ultimate gratefulness for our lives when we show empathy for others, when our gift is sincerely from the heart.

The real gift we give others is in HOW we give. If we truly are to #BeAGift to others, it means our focus is them…not us.

Sign up for our email newsletter and see our acts of kindness for December:
Have a good Sunday

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Instagram YCNBR and Grace.Kelly.Effect

Heroin: Reality|Recovery|Hope You Can NOT Be Replaced

Piece By Piece (11/06/08)

My life is like one big puzzle right now…

I have to start putting it back together…


I will have to learn to love myself and eventually others will grow to love me and slowly my life will come back together…


Gradually my life will become worth living…

My smile and my laugh will come back…

You Can NOT Be Replaced would like to invite you to an inspiring and creative evening to reach our young people. ‘Step Back for a Moment’ concert series will begin on June 7th and serve several purposes:


  • Connect and establish relationships with local young people and families
  • share information about various topics through story telling
  • fundraise for the 5013c nonprofit You Can NOT Be Replaced to continue community outreach, education and school presentations
  • Percentage of the proceeds of the concerts will go to help families with the cost of recovery, mental health and resources to heal, strengthen and empower them in their journey to recovery from crisis.


Back in January we were introduced to a young man named Billy Egan who immediate impressed Chip and I with his honesty and desire to make an impact in the lives of young people. This August he will be celebrating 5 years in recovery from a Heroin addiction. His story is an amazingly powerful journey of the hard work that recovery requires. We knew that Billy’s story would save lives.



You Can NOT Be Replaced team member Billy Egan

You Can NOT Be Replaced also has a young woman on our team named Quinn who has been a part of our organization’s team since the beginning. Sadly, in September Quinn lost her childhood best friend to a heroin overdose. With two very powerful stories in the midst of an epidemic, Chip and I decided that we wanted to film their stories so we could impact as many young people as we could with their message. We hired a production company that we have worked with in the past and spent a day interviewing Quinn, Billy, and several other young adults on not just heroin but various topics that effect young adults and teens today.


Billy, who had put together a series of concerts as a teenager raising money for an orphanage in Africa suggested we ask one of the musicians to come back and do a show as a fundraiser so we could continue to create awareness, and for families that are struggling with recover. We combined the two efforts and the Step Back Concert was born. Our daughter Emily, who co-founded the organization, and Billy chose the name Step Back for a Moment from the lyrics from one of Will Evans songs. They thought the phrase encapsulated what we’re hoping to accomplish. We want everyone to take a moment, ‘step back’ and learn from the hindsight of others. People have the amazing gift of being able to learn from the experience of others if we’re open to the message.


The concert is being coordinated by our team of local young adults, college and high school students with the help of our core team. All who are passionate about sharing their stories and making an impact with the event that will be appealing to their peers and teens in a creative and intelligent way. Students from Monmouth University will be at the event filming and interviewing people for a joint project. You Can Not Be Replaced encourage young people to use their gifts and talents for others, the project is just that. These young people are coming together hoping to make an impact in their community to choose a life of purpose and remember their value.


‘Step Back for a Moment’ will have great music; food, videos featuring honest story telling of real life experiences and tangible ways to strengthen and guard our young people through proactive prevention.  The event is meant to begin dialogue, create hope and offer support. Alone the event is not enough, everyone needs to take the time to educate themselves and be responsible for what they do have control over. Each person, family, group or organization needs to bring to the table what they have to help in this crisis. We hope to bring honest story telling to begin dialog and reflection that will inspire each person to make a difference in their own circles. We will have a message of hope, recovery and moving forward as a community.


Will Evans has spent the last decade as the primary song writer, and drummer/ front man of the roots rock outfit Barefoot Truth. Four full length albums and several EP’s were recorded with Barefoot Truth, including their latest release “Carry Us On” which debuted at #10 on the Itunes rock chart. Recently, Will competed in  Guitars Center’s ‘The Search for the Next Great American Songwriter’. Out of 10,000 participants he finished 3rd overall in the competition. His music has been called, ‘“The Finest Soulful Americana meets Rock with a Genius Pop twist. A timeless voice and sense of melody that you will not forget.”- Waltz Mastering


Food opens at 6:30 and we’re really excited that Local Band Chevy Lopez will be playing as an opener. The local effort to raise awareness has been humbling and encouraging. Chevy Lopez is a band with many local young adults and eagerly and graciously to get involved. Its just proof that the young people in our community are passionate about making a difference in the lives of others. Their music is soulful and straight from the Jersey Shore, we always down for a Lil bit of Funk. “Chevy Lopez flat out killed it with their soulful, jazz-rock fusion style and impressive jam sessions.” – Michael Molinaro We are really pleased Chevy Lopez will be joining us, the night should be an amazing community event.


The film interviews with be shown for 15 minutes before Will Evans takes the stage. Each concert goer will be given a pass to a webpage with the full length versions of the interviews as well as links to resources and information to view at  home after the show is over. We hope to have several other concerts planned as we continue over the next couple months with various musicians and topics.


The Show is at the Algonquin Theatre in Manasquan


Tickets for the show are $15.

The day of the show the tickets for the show increase to $20.


All concert information and a link to buy tickets is on our website click on the Step Back Tab and on our Facebook event page. For more info email us at .


I will become some people trust and they will take my word for more than just a word because they will see I am putting my life back together,

One moment at a time,

One Day At a time,

One piece at a time,


My opportunities will become my accomplishments,

My fear will become my past,

My outlook will always be optimistic,

My smile will never fade away,

My friends will become my family,

As long as I continue to take one step at time

One piece at a time,

My puzzle of life will come together…