D.G. Kaye on growing self-esteem

Working through the past
to live powerfully in the present

Guest Blogger:  © Debby Gies (author D.G. Kaye)

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Returning the favor

In mid-August I was honored by a request to write an article for blogger Debby Gies, (author D.G. Kaye), so that she could spend her time getting her latest book ready for publication.

I chose to focus on the brain-based benefits to those of us who take frequent vacations between the pages of a book.

(CLICK HERE to read the entire article on her site)

I had a wonderful time putting something together for the writing/reading followers of Debby’s blog.  However, I made her promise that she would write something suitable for the readers of ADDandSoMuchMORE.com — as soon as she had a bit of that illusive free-time that seems to be in short supply for most of us.

And so she deliberately set aside time in her super-busy life to return the favor. I was thrilled when I discovered that she decided to feature self-esteem, one of the topics she covers in “Words We Carry,” a wonderfully heartfelt book I devoured on my Kindle and recently reviewed.

Because so many of us in Alphabet City have heard so many times that “we’re not doing it right,” we frequently develop low self-esteem as a result. A few of us struggle with it still.  I’ll let Debby explain a bit about how she battled that particular demon below.

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Words We Carry by D.G. Kaye

Thank you for inviting me here today, Madelyn, to your esteemed blog. For those who don’t know me, I’m D.G. Kaye, a Canadian nonfiction writer/author. All my books are written from my own experiences about some of my life’s triumphs and tribulations.

I wrote Words We Carry by taking what I’ve learned through life, relationships, people, and growing up with a low self-esteem.

This book contains short essays on those elements, sharing my own insecurities and how I overcame them, creating awareness on relationship pitfalls, and sharing some of my own hang-ups and quirks I developed through the process of growing my own self-esteem.

I titled the book Words We Carry because much of our character is built on the way in which we’re treated by friends and family when we’re young. When we’re not given any confidence boosts by the people in our lives and endure teasing about our flaws, those are the qualities our self-doubt tends to focus on. Alternatively, if we grow up in a healthy environment where we’re made to feel secure and loved and appreciated for who we are, we will look at ourselves in more positive light.

I use an example in my book where I talk about growing up in my teen years struggling with weight issues. But as I started working on boosting my self-confidence and finally lost the weight, I still had body image issues because I was the same me who looked in the mirror and still saw myself as the chubby girl. This is a common issue that many girls struggle with and often wind up turning Anorexic because of what their minds continue to focus on regardless of what they see in the mirror.

Growing up with family nicknaming us ‘pet names’ they might think are cute, but in fact are demeaning, implants those words within us, and I can tell you it takes a lot of mental work and willingness to learn to love yourself, especially when nobody is offering a helping hand. I was fortunate that I had the determination to learn to love myself and spent many years reading self-help books which finally brought me to the point where I was happy with myself and those hurtful words finally became hidden scars instead of remaining open wounds.

Words are powerful. They have the power to break us or inspire us. Nobody is a bigger person because they belittle someone. In fact, they become the smaller person when inflicting hurt on others.

I’d like to share an excerpt of my book here relating to some of the issues I’ve just talked about here.

Negativity and Jealousy 

It’s a fact that negativity underlies our fears, and our guilt can play a big part in lowering our self-esteem. All of these traits connect with our levels of confidence, our strength of character, and our wellbeing. When we’re constantly berated and not placing ourselves in positive circumstances, our energies are drained, which can hinder our ability to maintain a positive outlook on life.

Our fears can cripple us, holding us back from living our lives to the fullest. If we can take a moment to assess the things in our lives that aren’t fulfilling us, and acknowledge what we feel is holding us back from what we wish to attain, we can begin to do some damage control. But if we choose to live our lives in the same unhappy patterns we’ve grown accustomed to without bothering to figure out the root cause of our problems, those problems become nearly impossible to overcome.

Sometimes facing our demons is hard, but that’s the only way we can grow and become stronger. If we choose to remain complacent in our unhappiness, we become trapped there, and many people’s lives remain stagnant because they fail to recognize why they’re unsatisfied.

It’s all about taking the time to stop and listen, paying attention to the things that bother us instead of surrendering to them. If we can learn to take charge of ourselves and dig deep within to confront our fears and the injustices we face, we’ve made a great start, and we can then begin taking action to resolve our issues. We have to make a positive out of the negatives in order to become happy and emit our positivity, attracting similarly positive people into our lives.

Many women tend to surround themselves with negative people, resulting in damaging effects to their state of mind. We not only have the ability to inflict our own negativities, we sometimes find ourselves existing in negative surroundings because of the people we allow into our lives.

Take our moods, for example. Have you been in a great mood but found yourself in a conversation with someone who complained about everything, unable to show any happiness for any of the good things you share with them about your life? This type of negative force sucks out our enthusiasm like a leech.

This negative power can also linger from childhood.

As children, we experience negative forces from incidents such as being reprimanded by a parent. In those moments when a parent is disciplining us, we immediately recoil and begin to feel inadequate about ourselves. If our actions are not explained to us with kindness, we’re inclined to shrivel back in fear, a fear created by the negative approach used to rectify our wrongdoing. Incidents such as these are the beginnings of allowing negativity to steer our emotions.

The critics, naysayers, and unhappy people we allow into our lives have the ability to drain our good energy, leaving us feeling unoptimistic, as though they have let the air out of our enthusiasm. The influence of negativity becomes the barometer for our moods. People who constantly live under this umbrella of negativity get so used to it that they may not even realize where their happiness has gone. They’ve simply adjusted to living that way.

If a child grows up under those influences, he or she will more than likely grow into a person with low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence. As we mature, we may also acquire friendships with people who have flawed perceptions of life and the world because of injustices that occurred in their own lives.

I’m the type of person who is very sensitive to energies. When I’m around negativity, I feel low. My compassion for others forces me to try to uplift them. If I try with my best efforts to no avail and don’t walk away, I feel very uncomfortable and begin to question my own optimism. This is not a healthy situation. Some might call this a bad vibe. However we choose to label them, these energies are very contagious.

It has taken me half a lifetime to learn to walk away from those situations.

For the first few decades of my life, the veil of negativity I felt in my mother’s presence made me very uncomfortable. The unhappiness she felt in her own life reflected in the way she spoke to my siblings and me. Eventually, through enduring her moods for decades, I made a decision to walk away. Nobody should have to subject themselves to toxicity, whether from friends, family, or strangers.

Sometimes we make bad choices about who we allow into our personal lives. We may overlook someone’s flaws or feel as though we can make them better. When it turns out we can’t, we find ourselves unhappily saddled in those relationships. We tend to feel obligated to these friendships out of some sort of loyalty instead of allowing ourselves to walk away.

It took me decades before I realized I couldn’t be the caretaker for everyone in my life. When I reached the point of feeling brought down by those negative influences, I learned to leave. It wasn’t easy for me to do this as a young adult. At the time, I was much more susceptible to allowing negative thoughts and people into my life, and this took a toll on me emotionally. I discovered I wasn’t feeling inner peace, yet I stayed in relationships for too long to avoid hurting others’ feelings.

Dwelling on negative thoughts doesn’t open us up to appreciating and attracting positive forces or people. When I began to reassess my life and discover ways to better myself, I read self-help books and uplifting stories about spirituality. One book in particular that made me begin to understand the effects of being positive was The Law of Attraction, by Esther and Jerry Hicks. It’s a universal fact that we attract what we project and focus on.

The old cliché “Misery loves company” is profound. It equates well with the theory of the law of attraction. Just think about it for a moment. If we’re miserable and go through life moping around with nothing positive to offer anyone in spirit or with words, what can we hope to attract? Most likely, we’ll attract likeminded people—or possibly nobody at all. In the event that we may be lucky enough to attract a high-spirited person who extends a helping hand to us, it would be a blessing and a longshot.

You can read more of this book by purchasing at Amazon HERE.

ABOUT the Author

D.G. Kaye is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir writer who writes about her own life experiences and about how she learned to overcome emotional abuse and low self-esteem. She writes on topics such as: kindness, forgiveness self-growth, and compassion. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When she isn’t writing books, you can find her on her blog at DGKayewriter.com where you’ll find an eclectic mix of life lessons, rants of injustice, writing tips, book reviews, and featured interviews of guest authors. She’s known to inject humor into her work whenever it’s warranted. D.G.’s motto is: Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!

Find and follow Debby

Blog/website     Goodreads     Amazon author page     Facebook     Wiseintro
Google+     Instagram     Stumbleupon    Pinterest     LinkedIn.com
www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (Of course there’s a story to this name!)


Conflicted Hearts    MenoWhat? A Memoir    Words We Carry
Have Bags, Will Travel    P.S. I Forgive You        

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

219 Responses to D.G. Kaye on growing self-esteem

  1. K E Garland says:

    Excellent! This is perfectly described/explained.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Norah says:

    Great post, Debby and Madelyn. It may have taken a while, but I got here eventually. I enjoyed reading the excerpt from “Words We Carry”, Debby. They carry so much truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Liesbet says:

    Thanks for sharing this insightful excerpt of “Words We Carry” here, Debby. You sure have a way with words. Everything you say sounds so familiar and to the point. I recognize what you describe in regards to your mother in a relationship I have with a dear loved one. You are correct about the loyalty feeling. And, while I initially thought I could be the positive and encouraging side of this relationship, after years, I have to give up. I have realized that I have become more negative because of it. So draining…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so sorry to hear that you struggled for so long with a difficult relationship out of loyalty – but it seems as if you distinguished that loyalty could be a good thing or a bad thing, and that sometimes you have to walk away when your your own emotions are being dragged down repeatedly. (Been there myself – and I know it isn’t an easy choice to make.)

      I agree that Deb articulates it wonderfully, as well as giving us hope that we, too, can get beyond it. Thanks for ringing in.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jennie says:

    Excellent, Debby, really excellent! Thank goodness these important words are being posted. And, thank you, Madelyn.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marianne says:

    Wonderful post! It’s true that words can bless or curse, and as children we don’t know that we have the power to agree or disagree with words aimed at us, so everything seems to stick. Until we become adults and hopefully learn that we have the power to unpack the bad words and decorate our lives with the good ones. Thank you for sharing this.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. An excellent share from Debby Madelyn. and I can so relate to her statement of it taking a many years to learn to walk away from those words..
    Thank you for sharing
    Wishing you a wonderful week.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. olganm says:

    Thanks, Madelyn. I have read one of Debby’s books, but must read some of the others, for sure. I think that, like a lot of people, sometimes I can churn over and delve on what others tell me, but in recent years I try not to take things personally, as most of it has more to do with the person saying the words and how they are feeling than with the person they address them to. Great advice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I, too, have other books by Deb on my TBR list – and now that it is getting blustery outside I may get to more reading, snuggled up on the couch with my puppy.

      It took me some years to jettison a tendency to personalize, but it gets progressively easier — the older I get, the less I care what they think – and the more empathy I have for the folks who have to be snarky to feel good about themselves.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.


  8. It’s amazing how a negative nickname can be so damaging. Your article, Debby, along with so many comments on this made me think about Trump’s tactic of demeaning people by giving them nicknames. It is mean and cowardly to raise yourself up only by demeaning others. A well timed and well needed article.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you Debby for sharing this. I read your book, Words We Carry, and it was powerful. I recommend it — there were so many experiences of yours with which I related .

    Liked by 1 person

    • I felt the same way, Luna. I think most of us struggle with self-image and self-esteem until we work on ourselves. Even those with excellent parenting have to deal with school bullies, taunting and mean comments from kids where were NOT so fortunate, and those words sting as we take them in, too young to have developed cognitive defenses.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.


  10. marianbeaman says:

    This post hits home to writers like me who must reckon with assaults on our self-esteem merely by choosing the writing life. Those who get published usually have to bear criticism (well-intentioned or not) from beta readers, editors, publishers who reject, etc. Writing of any kind is not for sissies.

    Like many others here, I have many of Debby books on my Kindle shelf, including Words We Carry. Thank you, Debby and Madelyn! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Took me a while to get here, but definitely better late than never. Fabulous post by Debby. You can see by all the comments how much many of us relate to ‘naming’ and self-esteem. When I was pre-teen, my dad loved to called me ‘Tubby.’ I wasn’t fat, but I wasn’t thin, either, like my mom, who was tiny and lithe. From then on, I always thought of myself as chubby and ugly. I’m not blaming my dad. He loved me. He thought it was a cute nickname. But it took me many many years to not think of myself as a “Tubby.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • PERFECT example of how supposedly “cute” nicknames can affect us negatively. I wish all parents – all people, actually – were aware of how powerful repeated words can be, and how long-lasting.

      Too bad your Dad didn’t know to show his fondness by calling you “beauty” or something with a totally positive connotation. It makes a HUGE difference.

      I did it to myself in a couple of situations, but fortunately for me they were at opposite ends of the spectrum.

      In one place we lived I had a friend who was extremely thin, so, by comparison, I labeled myself fat. When we moved I had an overweight friend and my label (to myself) was “skinny.” In reality I was at the perfect weight for my height in both situations. Fortunately for me, neither of my friends (or anybody else) ever called me names based on a comparison between our physical appearance – so I was able to find my way relatively quickly, with a little help from my Dad.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Christy B says:

    Reblogged this on When Women Inspire and commented:
    This is an article about self-esteem that I highly recommend you read when you have a few minutes. It is written by author D.G. Kaye as a guest post for Madelyn Griffith-Haynie’s quality site ADD and So Much More. The sections of the article about negative power and pet names in particular were educational to me.

    On a personal note, I consider Madelyn and D.G. to both women I look up to as they are intelligent and openly express their opinions in respectful ways without apology. They inspire me! Feel free to leave a comment for me below about a women (whether you know her personally or not) who inspires you.

    Wishing you all a wonderful weekend ♥


    Liked by 2 people

  13. Christy B says:

    How wonderful to see Debby here at your site, Madelyn! I love the reciprocal posting 🙂

    These lines in particular spoke to me: “It’s all about taking the time to stop and listen, paying attention to the things that bother us instead of surrendering to them.” Yes! It’s so much easier to ignore what feels uncomfortable but that won’t help us grow emotionally.

    I never really thought about the damage that “pet names” could do until I read that part of your post here, Debby. I will be extra careful if ever I happen to use one for somebody. I wouldn’t want to unintentionally scar them!

    I love you both so much, Madelyn and Debby. I already have my posts set for today so I will reblog this one on the weekend. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Jennie says:

    Where do I begin? Thank you Debby and Madelyn for such wisdom and insight. You have given a gift to many, just in case you didn’t know.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Great guest and intriguing post, Madelyn!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Jane Sturgeon says:

    Thank you, Debby and Madelyn ❤ You have highlighted how a 'label' (pet name) from my sister hurts. Goodness me, the gifts and love that flow in our global writing village are beyond price. ❤ ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Brilliant post Debby. You are an inspiration. Thanks Madelyn!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Non-fiction author D.G. Kaye also known to us as Debby Gies, is the guest today of Madelyn Griffith-Haynie. The subject is self-esteem, which is a precious commodity. Not the showy, narcissistic ‘I am the greatest’ kind of esteem but one that allows you to live life to the full, happy with who you are and able to share that with others. It is a fragile state that if not carefully nurtured in a child can turn into a life long fear of being who you really are. Debby does not sugar coat the actions you need to take when in a relationship that is toxic…. head over and heed wise words. #recommended

    Liked by 2 people

  19. A very interesting post, Debby. I thought your comments on nicknames were intriguing. Everyone in my family has a nick name and I have nick names for both my boys. I will have to check now and see if they don’t like it. I do recall that my youngest sister, who we used to call baby, requested that we stop calling her that name when she was three years old. Just as well or she would probably still be Baby.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are such kind-hearted person to immediately think about asking your boys about their nicknames, Robbie – even when the nicknames are simply truncations (Rob for Robert, etc.). My mother Jackie and my sister were both named Jacqueline. It turned out my sister never liked JJ, Jaydie, or Jayde (“Jaydiebird” as a tiny girl) – but she never spoke up about it until she was an adult and insisted on Jaye. It was so tough to remember that after several decades of calling her JJ – but we all really tried and eventually succeeded.

      I was like your “baby” sister. I forcefully corrected adults who called me Maddy when I was about three as well — too young, even, to pronounce my own name correctly (which led to a different nickname which my father used until he died – the ONLY person allowed to do so).

      A Spanish teacher in the 7th grade gave us all Spanish names and made us use them – and, as the perpetual “new girl,” I really hated that stupid idea. Some kids didn’t ever learn my “real” name before my family moved again and I changed schools. (it almost ruined my eagerness to learn Spanish evermore!)

      Even today it really rankles when people assume that calling me some truncation of Madelyn is cute – “friendly” even. Some actually DEFEND that bad habit when I nicely correct them. I tend to avoid those folks – ONLY a very few people in my life who’ve known me for decades get a pass on that one, emotionally.

      I learned early on to ask for another reason, too. In my childhood, family friends were always referred to by their first names – Mrs. or General so-and-so was NOT a sign of respect. It meant “keep your distance” in all but a few cases. So I find it actually off-putting to use the more formal convention, but I don’t automatically assume others feel “closer” when I call them by their first names, even now. I use the name by which they introduce themselves.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Interesting, Madelyn. I have been called Robbie all my life and never Roberta. I don’t like Roberta. I do get some interesting variations like Robyn, Rebecca, Ronnie and even Mr Cheadle [smile]. When I was young we called all adults by their surname, teachers and parents. Relatives were Aunt or Uncle. This was a sign of respect. I like it and wish it hadn’t fallen away.

        Liked by 1 person

      • dgkaye says:

        It all makes sense M. I love calling you M, but remember, I did ask your permission 🙂 I have a habit of shortening names of people I become friends with, especially ones with 3 syllable names, lol. It’s amazing I can keep track of the so many writer friends just by their initials like you, and at least 5 others I refer to by initial. Call me crazy, ok, but they know it’s done with affection. I think we have to earn those freedoms. 🙂 xxx

        Liked by 2 people

        • Yes you did – you were very respectful about it too.

          “mgh” came about to distinguish me from another of the only 7 TeleClass Leaders in the world at the dawn of that particular day (phone-based training). Otherwise we would both have been “Madelyn from New York” (how both participants and TCL’s identified themselves before speaking) — which would have been very confusing for the participants.

          Earlier in my life, working as an indie contractor for a Big Eight Consulting Firm (at the time), members of the team had to initial communications. We developed the habit of identifying ourselves in the same manner over the phone. I didn’t mind since we all did it – so when it came up in the Coaching universe, it seemed the best way to handle “the Madelyn problem.” It stuck (and certainly is quicker and easier to type). 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

    • dgkaye says:

      Hi Robbie. I’m glad this post made you stop and think. It’s so easy to take these nicknames for granted and they stick, not always a good thing as I share more in my book about a childhood name that still remains out of habit today with my siblings. Sounds like your sister was smart at age 3! 🙂 x

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Adele Marie says:

    A wonderful article. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  21. dgkaye says:

    Madelyn, thank you so much for having me over to your esteemed blog. I was thrilled to share a little bit about a topic that I feel strongly about. So many of us suffer or suffered self-esteem issues. Fortunately topics like this have been brought to light and discussed with so much help available, therapy and books. Books helped me overcome many issues I suffered from growing up in a dysfunctional family, so I felt compelled to write one myself. I’m astounded by the amount of people that took so much from this book. So I continue to write about life.
    Just a treat to be here my friend. 🙂 And you know I’ll be reblogging this too after it’s marinated here for a bit, lol. 🙂 ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Brilliant guest post that does credit to your wonderful blog!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Tina Frisco says:

    Such a powerful post, Madelyn and Deb. At times, people don’t even realize they’re troubled, much less operating from a place of fear. As you said, Deb, getting to the root of the problem is crucial. This requires a heightened level of awareness that escapes some folks. Perhaps if we were not afraid to be honest with one another regarding our behavior, more of us would evolve positively. You exemplify this so eloquently in your books, Deb. And you, Madelyn, are the queen of candor on your blog. I love you, girlfriends, and am so grateful to know you ❤❤

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Great post from the two of you, Debby and Madelyn. It is amazing how long those negative experiences hang on, what a significant impact they had on our formative selves. It takes a lot of painful work to undo them, but how liberating to step out from under the old hurts and realize that we don’t have to lug them around forever. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  25. paulandruss says:

    Brilliant Debby- its naked honesty makes it truely relateable. I think many of us struggle with self esteem in various times in life especially in the shadow of a negative relationship. I think that points of learning to deal with it are extremely valid: the past cannot harm you it’s a ghost and you can with patience try to relearn your habitual reactions to old circumstances that seem much like those that triggered it all in the past.

    Finally I always thing we need to bear in mind that we should show ourselves the same compassion we would grant to a troubled stranger without a second thought. Thank you for sharing and Madelyn thank you for hosting.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. A great guest writer…I love Deb’s work.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. It’s a sad statement on society that I know very few people who don’t have issues with low self-esteem. Like you, Debby, it took decades before I was happy in my own skin and had learned to love myself. Something has to change in society and specifically in parenting to end this.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. -Eugenia says:

    This is an excellent share, Madelyn. Self-esteem is a problem for many.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Great book. I’ve just finished reading it.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. It is a constant battle for me to feel worthy of the good things in my life and I have been so blessed. I’ve had dark times, too, of course and some resulted in me being at the lowest points of my life thus far. I, too, have found I must limit my exposure to toxic/negative people or it will bring me down. I am very protective of my psyche and my husband is also good at identifying when I am on a negative bent and lovingly points it out to me so I can change direction. I love Debby’s positive message!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. May I say a perfect combo here today ladies xxxxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  32. jenanita01 says:

    Personally, I have always had a problem with self esteem. For most of my life I never thought I deserved any, but I seem to have picked up a little along the way. Something about old dogs and new tricks comes to mind!

    Liked by 2 people

  33. interesting… I think the part with the nicknames is very true… and I pondered the first time about the “real” meaning… I was (and I am) the parrot… because I talk(ed) too much…

    Liked by 2 people

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