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The Blog Tour Blog Post

Thank you BetterNotBroken for your wonderful and thoughtful blog; you have helped me and many others.  And thank you for the invite to be part of The Blog Tour!

Let’s see there are a few rules…..   I need to answer 4 questions, write an original piece, and nominate 4-5 other bloggers.   If I nominate you, and you accept, you are supposed to answer the same 4 questions, nominate other bloggers, and write your original piece to be published on Monday, June 8.

This is not the first time I’ve been invited to something similar or given a blog award. It’s not the first time I’ve accepted. But it’s the first time I’m following through. I have been worried about having too many people read my blog. But, as I’m in “conquer fear” mode, well….. let’s do it!

1             How does your writing/ creative process work?

Oi. I don’t really know. I write how I feel at the time. That’s about the only prerequisite I have for myself. I don’t write on a prescribed topic or stick to one thing. I write when I feel like writing, I don’t stick myself to a schedule. I’ve tried a few times to do the 30 day challenge and I have yet to complete one. Doesn’t mean I won’t, just haven’t yet. My process: write when I feel like it about what I want to.

2             What are you working on at the moment?

Right now, I’m working on how to spot the abusers. I’m trying to pull out the secrets and display them so that we can all just be safe. No one should have to worry about their safety. There are tells, I want to put them out there.  Oh, and my fear of dogs.

3             Why do you write or create what you do?

I started as a way for my friends and family to know what I was up to as I finished University and embarked on my journeys around the world. Now I write because it keeps me whole. And hopefully it brings goodness to the world on some level.

4             How does your work differ from the others in your genre?

Well, how does it not really? I think all diary type blogs are unique. We all have different lives, learning different things. Maybe mine is different in that I jump from topic to topic.

The blogs I nominate are:

MarriedNomads

MeerkatTravelGang

Taiwanna Adventure

Our Life in 3D

And now for my original post:

Dear Me,

I hardly ever tell you, but I know how strong you are. I know I tell all the ways you aren’t strong too often. I’m sorry. I know you put your brave face out there and make comments about how awesome you are to make-up for all the awful stuff I tell you.

Those words are not true, but you don’t like to hear how good you are. I was just trying to keep you comfortable. I shouldn’t keep repeating them. It’s not fair to you. You’re good with uncomfortable. It’s one of your strengths. I’ll be better.

I don’t tell you often enough how brave you are. I know you say you aren’t, you’re just living your life. But you live your life by your heart. That’s bravery. You don’t take no for an answer when you make up your mind. That’s bravery. I sit silently hoping nothing goes wrong and ready to help you pick up the pieces in case it does. But maybe if I told you more that you are brave, told you more that your courage in the face of obstacles, that taking that first step, every time, made me so proud of you, maybe you would take more first steps.

Your fearlessness scares me sometimes. But we get to have wonderful adventures because of it.

It’s ok to stay open. It’s ok to still be all of who you really are. You have been so true to yourself these last 10 years. I know I keep telling you that you should be more like other people. Sometimes I get so frustrated when you refuse. But, it’s only fear I’m speaking.   Why should you listen to my fear? I’m really grateful you don’t. It’s habit, but all habits can be broken. I will work so hard on this. I don’t really want to be like everyone else. I like you just the way you are.

I’m sorry I keep stringing out those mean questions, flooding you with doubt. You don’t bring these terrible circumstances to you. You are not defective. You don’t have a sign that says, “abuse me”. Those people are out there, with or without you. It’s their place to choose their actions, not yours. It is their wrong doing to harm you, not yours. Their abusive nature is their legacy, not yours.

I know you’ve been hurt. It’s ok to feel the pain. It’s ok. Feel it and keep speaking. Speak up. Speak out. You have a voice that can help others, which can help stop abuse all over the world. Your strength can help, can make a difference.

Go ahead and do it. I will be here supporting you. Along the way there will be more people supporting you. Look how many friends you have supporting you right now. Please forgive me for a life time of misguided thoughts meant to derail you from the inside. Remember this when the naysayers start talking. Remember to dismiss them. They are not speaking from truth, but rather from their own derailing misguided inner voices.

You are kind and patient and accepting and loving. That is your legacy. You know thousands of people and only a small handful have hurt you. Kind and accepting are not bad traits lady, they’re pretty damn good ones. Thank you for not entertaining those doubt-inducing questions, no matter how persistent I was. I am ashamed I ever asked them. I won’t again.

I want you to stop joking when you say that you are awesome. Please believe it. You are. Keep taking the hands of others and help them see how awesome they are, but believe it of yourself as well. Because it’s true.

It’s almost lunch time, so I should probably stop writing so we can eat. Keep strong my darling. There are bright beautiful skies ahead.

If YOU also want to join the Blog Tour, let me know  :)  

Good Luck to you all in your many adventures!!!  Thanks for reading  :)

 

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Graceful movement

Graceful movement

As I laid quietly, I began to feel something under my hands, something with hardness and warmth. I tried to feel my abdomen but it was no longer there. There was movement, an undulating, left, right, left, right. I tried to figure out what I felt. It wasn’t a horse, but it had that type of rhythm and movement to it. But the shoulder blades were different, more pronounced, a different angle. The gait was different, but similar. As I let my mind wander, I realized I was no longer lying down, but rather, sitting up and riding a still-unknown animal.

As I quickly ran through several animals it could be in my mind, I heard, “Just look down”. And there, below me was a magnificent and lustrous giraffe. Her long, strong neck was just ahead of me. I looked down past her shoulders, past her neck, to watch the ground move smoothly under me. Graceful.   She was so elegant and graceful. As she bent down to get a drink she told me to scoot further back that I shouldn’t fall forward onto her neck.

I marveled at the course, yet thick soft hair, at the beautiful angles of each spot on her, and the strength that was so obvious with each movement she made. She raised her head and I hugged her neck as we continued on. I felt her smile.

A piece of my soul that had fled during my time in Mozambique was found.

Before my beautiful spirit animal sent me back into this reality, she nuzzled my face and neck. She let me feel her face and we saw each other.

I came quietly back into consciousness with such a peaceful feeling of strength.

It has been 6 weeks today since I was brutally attacked. Each day brings more healing, more strength, more resolve, and more opportunities. I am grateful for the journey that I am on now. I am grateful for my strength. I am grateful for friends who support and encourage me.

And for those still struggling with what to say, or not to say, ask, or not to ask, it’s all ok. Do or say what you are comfortable with. I am fine. I am strong. I have many more wonderful stories of my travels than the one of a pathetic little man with an abusive mentality.

There are so many more stories of times with friends, trips to beautiful places, teaching beautiful children, and the wonderment of new places. I have had an incredible last 3.5 years and plan to have many more travel stories in the future. I can’t give up the travel bug. I’m already beginning the processes for next spring. I love being out there in the world.

I need to write still about the situation, how I see the situation, etc. I need to write it, to let it not dictate my future. Much of what I will write will be to have a final send off, a sort of farewell. It’s one thing to free yourself of the emotional attachment to these traumatic situations, but you also have to let go of the story, stop retelling the story in your head. And for me, I stop retelling it in my head, if I write it on here.

And I can hold on to the stories I want as I write them on here. Who knows, maybe someday I could forget about the dream with the giraffe, except now that I have written it, it becomes more deeply etched in my memory.

Life is really good. In the words of Kid President, “Go be Awesome!”

 

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Progression of the life

Progression of the life

I’ve been painting a lot these days.  A little every day.   Painting lots of different types of things, but being commissioned for paintings of Power Animals for people.  I like it.  It is definitely expanding my abilities.  There are many things I’ve never painted before and it’s pretty fun to see what comes out.

Here are a few

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The raven is turning out pretty good, but the leopard needs a lot still…… not to mention I haven’t even started on the jungle stuff yet! I’ll keep you posted.

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Elephant and peacock joy. The new owner of this painting loves it, I’m happy :)

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A fun little project with my son. Each canvas has aspects that are the same and then we’re each painting our canvas differently but the same too….. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out :)

I didn’t post his, because I haven’t asked him if I could… but it looks pretty good!!!

They are works in progress and I’m learning as I go, but it’s been fun so far  :)

I’m working on two posts right now.  One about emotional abuse and how it clouds the reality of physical abuse, and one for the BLOG TOUR which I’m supposed to post on Monday the 25th.

I’m doing the first work on my path to becoming a shaman.  The wonderful spirituality of it has been good.  It reminds me a lot of the Bahai faith in that it encompasses everything and does not shame or negate any faith or person.  Like modern Christianity, it speaks of believing that angels are here to help us. Like Judaism, it encourages education and observance.  Like the ancient belief systems, it shows me how connected we are to Mother Earth and everything that lives on her.  I like that it is spiritual without being religious.  Mostly I like that the entire purpose is help and heal.

The fam is pretty happy I’m home for the time being and I’m enjoying way too much amazingly good home cooking!

Peace and love folks.

 
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Posted by on 18/05/2015 in Uncategorized

 

You need consent to touch me

You need consent to touch me

Let’s talk about a more round meaning to a new buzz word: Consent

Disclaimer:        Absolutely all of this post is about adults. I am not even going to venture into the world of children with this post; not parent/child, child/ child, adult/child. This post is about adult/adult behaviors, and more specifically about violence against women.

I hear consent being used a lot these days, and for good reason.

Consent is agreement or permission to do something, for something to happen or be done or to allow something to happen.

But it’s becoming a very squared off version of a much rounder word. I’m finding that consent is being squared off into a meaning that solely relates to sex. And it’s being narrowed down more and more into that, as we try to define what is and is not considered consensual sex.

Giving / receiving consent for sex is SUPER MEGA AMAZINGLY IMPORTANT CRUCIAL and UNDENIABLE. I am not saying it isn’t.

What I am saying is that isn’t *all* consent means.

Consent over what happens to my body should not stop at my lady parts. My WHOLE body needs consent to be touched in any way, at all times.

It’s my body.

Sexual Assault is a part of Physical Assault. You can’t touch me sexually without touching me physically.

Any means in which someone continues to touch you sexually, without your consent is sexual assault. All sexual assault is horrible. Rape is the end all worst thing that can happen in a sexual assault.

Non-consensual sex is rape. End of story. It is. And it is a crime.

But, what about the rest of my body? What about the rest of Physical Assault? If I’m not getting raped, does that mean they don’t need consent to touch me?

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

What’s the end all for physical violence against women that doesn’t involve sex? Death

Again, let me state that I am NOT trivializing rape, –rape is a form of death. I know. I’ve been raped. I know the shroud and have spoken with the reaper. But I am trying to complete the whole here.

Consent does not stop at sex. Consent means any way you touch me needs to have my approval.

If I reach out my hand to shake yours, that’s consent. Feel free to grab hold and shake my hand. If I reach out to hug you, and you want to hug me back, that’s consent. Hug away. If you come up behind me and put your hand on my shoulder, I turn, see who you are, smile and say something nice, then shaking my hand or hugging or other forms of nonsexual touch will probably be ok.

If I see who you are and pull away, then you no longer have consent to touch any part of me. Not even my fingernail. You don’t get to reach out and try to pull me in. You don’t get to grab my arm. I don’t care how much you want to talk to me.

If I want to leave the room, there is NO way that you can stop me that is not abuse.

It’s a very general but important concept.

No one can make another person do something. You can’t control anyone.

No matter how high ranking you are, the other person still has their own ability to decide.

The only way to MAKE someone do what you want is through coercion, manipulation, deception, and physical means. Each of these is a form of abuse. No one can make you do anything without being an abuser. ( *this does not include those incarcerated by the law)

You can’t make people do anything.

Each of us has the right to choose what we do.

Sexual or not, you don’t get to touch me without my consent.

So here are a FEW things that I don’t consent to have happen to my body that don’t involve sex:

Having your face in my personal face space. Don’t crowd me. It’s a threat, it’s meant to be a threat, and it’s not ok.

My hands squeezed to a point that my fingers and knuckles press together painfully.

My shoulders or neck squeezed or grabbed with intent to hurt or stop me.

My chin pinched to turn my head or hold my head still.

My hand/ wrist/ arm yanked in order to turn me or stop me from going somewhere I choose to go.

You probably shouldn’t flick me either. I will probably not see that as an acceptable way to touch me.

And some real for sure definite no ways:

Getting pushed up or down stairs, through a hall, over a chair or table, or down into anything.

Being shoved up against a wall or door.

Being picked up and thrown down.

Having my arms wrenched behind me and pulled up.

Being hit, open-handed or closed-fist. Neither one is acceptable.

Having my throat closed by squeezing.

What are the little physical clues? The things that abusers start with? They ways they test the waters? No one starts out the way the man who assaulted me did. The level of violence he went to the first time he chose to assault me went far past testing the waters.

My ex husband started with small things; things I didn’t notice because I was already used to them. But even at his worst, he never reached the level this guy did the first and only time. Yes, this guy knew I’d been abused in my marriage. Because of that knowledge, he felt safe to jump in right where he left off with his last victim.

The thing is abusers start small and subtle. How much power can they take? It’s a rush. It’s about control and power. And abusers use control and power like a drug. They have to have more to keep the rush. They need to see loss of power in the other in order to feel the rush. It’s not a Snap! There’s no moment when all of a sudden a normal guy goes all abuser on someone.

I want to open this discussion up to you. Let’s help each other. What are the physical clues that a man is an abuser? What are the subtle ways they test the waters to see what they can get away with? What physical touch do you not consent to?

I’m going to write about emotional abuse soon, because that is a predecessor to physical abuse. It may not always lead up to, but physical abuse is never without emotional abuse. But this post is about the physical.

 

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Waffles and Waze: Why Elvis Remains King and It’s Never Too Late For Change

Ms McKahsum:

So I’ve been nominated for the Blog Tour by betternotbroken, whom I’ve been reading and enjoying for a while now. Thanks to hers and many others courage I continue my journey to finding my voice!

Here we go!

Originally posted on betternotbroken:

It is with much gratitude that I thank Melinda at Looking for the Light for an invitation to join the Blog Tour. Melinda has triumphed through so much adversity and was s a founding member of  survivorsbloghere.wp.com, which was a collaborative of  like-minded writers with various backgrounds who supported survivors of various traumas, domestic violence, sexual assault and mental illness. I highly recommend following Looking for the Light for inspiration. I have been in the dark and seen the light and I can tell you that the light is better, hands down. I hope Melinda can help you find a glimmer of light in the darkness, I wish this for everyone struggling, there is enough light to go around.

Now I must answer 4 questions!

How does your writing/creative process work?

It works in tune with my anxiety level and coincides with the lessons of life I am learning and processing.

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Posted by on 11/05/2015 in Uncategorized

 

I forgive you

Dear Louis and Caroline,

I am writing to let you know I forgive you.
I forgive you for writing your Facebook post.
I forgive you for feeling you needed to write it when I had only ever sung your praises both publicly and privately.
I forgive you for writing it while you knew I would be flying and unable to read or answer it until after all your friends had seen it.
I forgive you for deleting any responses my friends put on it and then making it only for your friends to read.

I forgive you for believing that such a violent act against another human being needs nothing more than his say so that it won’t happen again with no consequences.
I forgive you for taking such a harrowing experience and trivializing it.

I forgive you for lying to me about what you felt I owed you.
I forgive you for lying to me about paying for the classes I taught.
I forgive you for believing that asking to settle between what I owed and what the classes cost, was asking for money.

I forgive you for not emotionally being there for me.
I forgive you for blaming me, instead of John Goosen by assaulting me, for the inconvenience of my staying in your home and eating at your restaurant.

I forgive you for accusing me, not John Goosen, for any part of the missed honeymoon time of our friends.
I forgive you for saying I “complained”.
I forgive you for only helping me move my things after being asked to by the honeymooners.
I forgive you for refusing to help me to have John Goosen arrested for his crime of assault and battery.
I forgive you for calling me selfish because I hadn’t gotten over it a mere 9 days after having been violently assaulted.

In replace of anger and frustration, I give forgiveness and compassion.
I give you a brush, with a mirror, for your daughters.
I give you a long, two person hammock that will easily fit two very tall individuals.
I give you all the things I left you, knowing that you could use them well.
And I give you the knowledge that if you ever need to stay in my home or eat at my expense, my door is open.

I know that you both are also victims of the abusive cycle. It hurts me to see two sensible people behave the way you have, but I can
understand the need to find release from such a frustrating situation.  I understand it’s easier to release it on someone who isn’t there.

It hurts deep inside a person to know that they have been and are friends with someone who is a violent abuser. You have long known that John is verbally assaulting at most times, that he becomes physically aggressive and out of control when he drinks, and now you know he is actually emotionally capable of killing someone with his bare hands.

That is hard to deal with on a very deep level. A level that many people don’t like to uncover and look at in themselves.

I didn’t like looking at that part of me when I was married. How could I love someone who hurt me all the time?
But I’ve already had to take that part of me out and give it a good long look-over. I’ve already spent many years and dollars on dealing with that part of me.

I’ve already had to deal with knowing and understanding the capabilities abusers have; the capability to look remorseful in order only to escape consequence; the capability to use faces, lies, and time to change how people see what happened.
I’ve already had the experiences that show me what to do in this situation. You haven’t.

I’ve had someone stand up for me before and have learned how to stand up for myself because of it.  You haven’t.

No one likes to stare abuse in the face.
People want it to go away. They want to think it isn’t really true, it wasn’t that bad, he wouldn’t really do that.
Because it’s easier that way.

Humans like things to be easy, simple, and not abusive. But this situation isn’t any of those things.
I only know what to expect and what to do, because I have already overcome it before.  You haven’t.
I don’t blame you for wanting things to go back to normal.
And I forgive you for expecting it to.
I forgive you for the pain you have caused me in addition to the pain of having been assaulted by your friend.

From this second on, I completely forgive you both, Louis and Caroline.
I cut my cords to you both with forgiveness, compassion, and love. Forgiveness of the acts, compassion for where you are, and love for who you are and what good you did do for me.

I forgive you.
Good-bye.

 

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Of course hindsight begs the questions that can’t be known to ask at the beginning.

I keep asking the questions and having to remind myself that I couldn’t have known before what I know now.  Reminding myself that I am not the one to blame here.

Many people don’t understand my wanderlust, or how I can travel alone as a woman. And even those that understand that, have trouble with the fact that I let Spirit guide me as much as research. Thankfully there are a few that totally get me.

As I look back on the events that led me to Mozambique, I keep looking for my faults. There are some. One is that I could have taken more time to get my ducks in a row beforehand and not gone in so dead broke.

Even with that, I went for the job the same way I have other jobs. You get to know the people, get trained, get to know the area -once you’re there, not beforehand.  I did my research.  I googled the guy that offered me the job. I did some research into Mozambique.

I did not run willy-nilly through the wildflowers towards the great wilds of Africa without a care in the world. I checked it out. I was offered a job as an administrative assistant for a construction company, with room and board provided and a small, but for the area very good, monthly salary. I was told my visas would be covered by the company. The guy even gave me his full given name to look up. Everything seemed on the up and up.

Of course now I ask myself, why weren’t you more careful, why did you just believe him, why did you travel across the globe alone because some guy offered you a job?
Because the truth is, I was the same careful I was heading for Czech and Taiwan. I knew one person going in, I had not met before arriving. Turkey was a little different because I went with a friend. But I still went in with the idea that sure, there will be adjustments, but things will be ok.

Why do any of us believe it when we’re offered a job?  Um, because it’s normal to.

I’ve travelled across the globe, alone, for jobs several times now. There was nothing heading in to this that was more abnormal than any other job you get from online contacts. Hindsight is the only reason I, or anyone, is asking these questions.

And this is the more prevalant form of victim blaming. Why did you/I do that? Why didn’t you/I do that? Why weren’t you/I more careful?

-This is IMPORTANT –

These questions put accusation on the victim, when it is the assailant/abuser that needs the questions!!

Why did he think it was ok to lure someone in, knowing full well that he didn’t own any company and couldn’t provide
any of the things he lied about? Why did he think it was ok to lie? Why wasn’t he more careful with this person
that trusted him? Why did he think it was ok to send off their passport so they couldn’t leave the island? Why does
he think it’s ok to verbally, physically, and situationally abuse the people around him? Why did he lock someone in
a room? Why did he assault that person? Why did he plan out the lies he would tell others about the assault, in
advance of the assault? Why does he think he shouldn’t have any consequences for his actions?

These are the real questions that need to be addressed.

If I keep asking all those victim blaming questions, I can’t grow and move forward. The questions I need to ask need to come from where I am, not where I was. Some of the questions I need to actually ask myself are: Do I feel like someone is going to attack me everywhere I go? Is travelling alone a bad idea? What can I learn from this situation? What do I want to do next? Am I really going to go back to Africa? To Mozambique? How can I do my part to protect others from the harm this guy is capable of?

I know that Spirit told me to go to Mozambique. I don’t even question that. One could ask why, seeing as how my entire time there was one frantic disaster after another, and I totally see that point. But I never felt and don’t feel that it was wrong to be there. I questioned the things that happened, but not that I wasn’t supposed to be there.
I believe there are two main reasons Spirit led  me there.
One: I do have work to do there, I do need to go back for that work. But it is a harsh land, a harsh people, a harsh spiritual environment. I was under near constant spiritual attack while there. I was given a glimpse of what I need to gather before going back. I needed to experience, in order to understand what I need, so I can accomplish my work there.
Two: I believe that this man sensed my unguarded personality and preyed on it. However, unlike the average woman seen as vulnerable, I am a spiritually, emotionally strong woman. I am not weak just because I choose not to close myself off and present a guarded and leery woman to the world. I believe I was Spirit’s way to stop this man from preying on someone without my strength, and damaging another human being past a point they could deal with, or for many years, or both, or possible killing them.  Am I ok with having gone through this in order to have protected someone else?  You better believe it.

Do I think someone is going to attack me everywhere I go? No, by and large people are good. If I judged the world only by the harm that can be done, well, I’d never leave my room. Is travelling alone a bad idea? No. I’ve been doing it for a while. One out of hundreds of people I’ve met in my travels does not deter me. Do I need to be more careful than a guy travelling alone, yes. Sadly. Should it be that way? NO!

And when we start putting all the blame where it belongs, ie the abusers and assailants, and catcallers,
people who think that women are property, then women can start being safe just because they are a human being with
equal rights to safety, not because they’ve armed themselves enough.

Am I going back? Yes, I need to gather my resources in order to do it right, but yes, I will be going back. I have work to do there.

One big lesson I am learning is to let go of the emotional pain that comes when you feel betrayed. I had no emotional connection to the guy that assaulted me. But I had an emotional connection to the family that turned their backs on me and began flinging ridiculous accusations at me. Spirit will take care of me and them in whatever way it sees fit, and I have to let go of that feeling of betrayal. I am, but I’ve had a couple days of frustration over it.

Losing a trust is such a big deal to me. Partially because I know that others can trust me. Partially because I have witnessed time and time again, that when you give people trust, they become trustworthy, when you give them honor, they become honorable, and when you give them abasement, they become corrupt, etc.

I choose to see the best in people, give them the best of me, and believe that it will bring out the best in them.  Nine times out of ten, that’s the case, so that one kinda hurts when it’s a “friend”.

I answered all the questions going in, to the best of my ability to without being able to see into the future. Sure, the same questions looking back will result in different answers, but we don’t live life in reverse. So I take my lessons, my insights, and my resolve into the future. A future in which I will travel, I will teach, I will not let fear get the better of me, and I will do my best to create positive change wherever I go.

Remember as you go through life and encounter similar situations, to ask yourself  if the questions you are asking put accusation and blame on the victim in the situation, or on the aggresor/abuser, where it belongs. At no point, under no circumstance, no matter what they believe in, who they love, what they are wearing, drinking, etc., should anyone feel that violence or a crime against them is their fault. We have a basic human right to dignity and safety, period. No one has the right to violate, hold hostage, assault, or commit a crime against us for any reason. None, there are no reasons that are acceptable. No moments, no amount of alcohol or drugs or jealousy, or
anything, ever, for anyone. Ask the questions that support the victim: How can I help you? What do you need? When do you need me there?

I want to thank all of you for your wonderful support and kind kind words! I haven’t posted many of the comments that I’ve gotten, but know that I have read them and love you for them!  Soon I’ll be back to posts that are less grave.

 

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