Living on Purpose

My munchkin is 9 months old today! Nine months on 9/11/13.

Last night was one of those sleepless nights that mom’s often have with their babies. One of those nights where we woke up every two hours from either teething pains, a bad dream, or hunger. One of those nights where the only person who could soothe those pains and fears is, “MaMaMaMaMaMa!” Yes, that’s my name!

As I collapsed into bed each time, after being startled awake and comforting my munchkin for 20-40 minute sessions , I prayed I would fall back asleep quickly to savor the few minutes of shut-eye I hoped for.

Along with not sleeping much through the night, we were wide awake two hours earlier than normal.

As I peeled myself out of bed I realized a very important detail about today: My munchkin is 9 months old on 9/11.

Like most people in The United States of America, I know exactly where I was, what I was doing, and every specific detail of that day.

You might be thinking, “How do these two topics share any relevance to each other?” Let me tell you…

My son is growing faster than I can blink my eyes. As hard as it was to wake up this morning I couldn’t help but think of those precious moms, dads, sons, daughters, grandmas, grandpas, aunties and uncles and cousins that were on those planes that early morning twelve years ago.

Who did they rock to sleep the night before? Who did they kiss goodbye before walking out the door? Did they wake up exhausted, in distain, from no sleep? Did they say words or think thoughts they wished they could take back had they known how the next few hours would play out? Did they whisper softly in someone’s ear, “Goodbye, I love you!” like my husband did before leaving for work this morning?

I’ve always tried to live each day with a purpose, but today more than ever I’m reminded to take my thoughts captive. I’m reminded to smile, stretch, get up, have a good attitude, enjoy each moment, love, say, “I love you!” Because I don’t know what tomorrow brings. I’m not fearful because I’m confident in where I will be for eternity. However, if today is my last, I want everyone in my life to know how much they mean to me. I want to enjoy my son each milestone of his journey. When I’m gone I want my friends and family to know that I lived each day learning from my past, preparing for the future, and relishing the present!

My heart and prayers go out to all who loved and lost victims of 9/11.

Until my munchkin’s next nap time: enjoy each moment, be careful what thoughts you entertain and what words you speak. Live with love. Live with purpose. Love on purpose. As always, don’t forget to smile, you might just make someone’s day; what if its their last?

I love this picture! Here’s me being present with my gift present🙂

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Two Words Doctors Hate: Juicing & Miracles Part 2

If you read Part 1, you know that I just recently had some tests done to find out why I’ve been experiencing some unpleasant symptoms after having my son 8 months ago. Before going into further details, you must know that these symptoms are completely different and unrelated to what I’m about to share with you. I’m a little hesitant to take you down this next path with me, but I feel like it’ll encourage you, so I can’t be selfish and withhold my story.

I started blogging hoping my life’s lessons and experiences would give you some tools, if not to help you through some of your biggest challenges, at least maybe to put a smile on your face for the moment. My intent was to explore with you this chapter of my life, on my road to healthy living, with lessons from friends and family, with hope that you’d see my lessons as beneficial in your circumstances.

Its hard to be vulnerable to the world, or at least the small, hopefully growing population of readers, so bare with me through this process. I made some poor choices in relationships as an adolescent, escaping and recovering from the devastation of divorce. I ruined some friendships as a result of the hurt I was experiencing (not to make excuses, but unfortunately hurt people hurt people). As a young adult trying to find my own identity, my communication and ability to articulate my emotions has cost me some friendships as well. I’ve gone through the wringer of doctors because of mysterious health issues. Now, venturing into the world of wifedom and mommyhood, I want to pass on wisdom as I nurture my son; I want to show him what a healthy, loving, committed marriage looks like. I don’t want to parent him out of resentment of my past, fear of making mistakes, or desperation to avoid him feeling the hurt I did.

My intent was avoid mentioning my relationship with God as my foundation and strength in overcoming these obstacles because I know the mention of Jesus sends a lot of people running for the hills. The reality, however, as much as I don’t want to scare people off, I can’t deny that the only true reason I am who I am today is because of His overwhelming grace.

This is my story of how my healing began, where I am now, and how we need to protect ourselves from the negativity people speak into our lives, including doctors. If you’re a skeptic of faith or maybe discount it completely, I’m not here to try to change your thinking, in fact, until this happened to me I probably wouldn’t have believed this story either. With all of the bad that happens in the world, I just encourage you to stay with me for the next few minutes and read something good, something positive; it’s pretty cool what happened actually.

My first miracle:

My whole life I suffered from a chronic digestive disorder that was finally diagnosed in 2004 as microscopic colitis. Most of my life was experimenting with possible solutions: trying different ways of eating: increased fiber, eliminating dairy, gluten-free, superfoods, organic; Yoga for stress relief (because in the medical realm, everything has to do with stress and anxiety apparently); undesirable herbal remedies, suggested by my semi-granola, holistic mother with whom, by-the-way, I now agree with most of what I thought were ridiculous solutions; colonics: this is weird, just weird; three different prescription medications, to humor my dad, who is the polar opposite if my mom–Vicks, Ny-Quil, a glass of wine, and sleep are his solutions to everything (and maybe a Diet Pepsi); two colonoscopies; one endoscopy; and a partridge in a pear tree.

After being “diagnosed” there was a brief sense of relief because there was an answer, but upon diagnosis was the information that “nothing can help”, “there’s no known cause”, “no treatment”, I was. “just going to have to live with it for the rest of my life or hope it goes away.” You would think that being raised in a Christian home the first response would have been to actively pray about it. Somewhere, however, was a huge disconnect between believing in God and the miracles of the Bible, and the reality that He’s the same God today that made the deaf hear, the lame walk, and blind see two thousand years ago.

Fast forward to 2009. After hiding this cramping and discomfort that overwhelmed my body for so long, embarrassed to talk about it even with my family, I decided to share with some new friends at church what I had been suffering from and asked them to pray for me. Just weeks before this happened I had moved 400 miles, found out I had a small brain tumor that was going to prevent me from having children, and got married. Nonetheless, I was starting a new chapter in my life and was sick of being debilitated; it was time for change, time for a fresh start, time to do something I had never done before; actually have faith not only that God exists, but that he could also help me–and heal me.

We started going through a book called Life’s Healing Choices by: John Baker. This was a rough few months of digging up my past hang-ups and habits and chiseling away the bricks I had built around my heart to protect myself. After much anger, many tears, lots of conversations, I started to feel a sense of identity again, but the weird reality was I had to meet myself. Who was I? Who did God create Danielle Marie Kazarian to be? What was my purpose?

Although my heart was healing, I still had this aching through my body everyday. Our church held a conference for young adults. Before attending we were each asked what we were believing God to do in our lives. Mine was obvious.

At the conference one night, I finally just surrendered my pride, walked to the front of the room to be prayed for, lifted my hands and out loud said, “God, I’m yours. I want you to use me. I give up trying to do this on my own. I stand in faith that You will heal me in your timing.” God’s response very clearly (if you don’t know if you’ve hear God’s voice, just ask Him to show up, he will!), “You already are healed.”

I began to weep uncontrollably at the comfort of His gentle words to His daughter.

The following two weeks were the worst two weeks of health I had experienced, but they were the last two weeks. Almost five years later I have not had a single symptom. I can eat whatever I want with no issues. If that’s not a miracle then I don’t know what is.

After experiencing this miracle my eyes began to open to the reality of God’s Grace, Freedom, and Forgiveness.

Now, remember that tumor I mentioned? My baby boy is another miracle story! I invite you to follow my journey as I share his story next time.

Until my munchkin’s next nap time, breathe, smile, trust, have faith. There’s no freedom living life as a skeptic, worried and criticizing everyone else’s opinions. Sharing this story with you, is one small step toward my freedom. I hope it encourages you today!

Dichotomy: Mommy vs. Work

I’ve always wanted to be a mom. Being one of the oldest grandchildren I remember watching very carefully as my aunts and uncles raised my cousins, always excited when I could step in and help. My sister, being the oldest, was always recognized as the nurturer and “natural mother”, which she is, but I would watch from a distance with much anticipation of one day having my own children.

I was helping my sister babysit when we were just 8 and 10, which is unheard of these days, and by 12 I babysat our neighbors kids on a regular basis.

When I got to college, I immediately met a family with two kids, who quickly became my second family, that I babysat once or twice a week as a side job. Diapers never bothered me, tantrums were just a normal part of learning, and the messes were cleaned after the kids were bathed and tucked in bed with time to spare before the parents would come home from their date night to a spotless house and sleeping children.

Then there came the first few years of marriage where everyone around us was having children, but we just weren’t ready yet. We knew we wanted at least a couple years to transition into our incredible life together before adding to our family. I loved being around these young families. Even though they constantly reminded me how I would “never understand until I was a mom,” I still immersed myself in their environment. I’m learning to roll those types of comments off my back, but at the time I swore I knew what motherhood was all about!! They just didn’t know how much experience I had with kids.

Now I know what they meant. These comments weren’t made to be rude, even if my insecurities interpreted them that way, they were just matter-of-fact. There is something about being a mom that is absolutely undefinable until you actually experience it. There is an unexplainable love and calling on our lives as women that cannot fully be grasped or understood until becoming a mom.

Along with playing with dolls and practicing being a mommy, I always turned my desk into a bank, grocery store, or local business. I longed to own my own business one day. It is such a crazy dichotomy, this world we live in. We have come so far in women’s rights and equality in the workplace, and yet that tug on our heart strings yearns for a family.

I have always thought it was possible to be a working mom. My mom stayed at home until we were in elementary school when she returned to working full time. In my mind, that seemed ideal: I would get to be home during the crucial developmental stages and when my kids were gone part of the day at school, I’d be gone to work and be off in time to pick them up or meet them at home. Is this picture even possible anymore? It’s a nice thought, but with the amount of competition that exists in the work force, you’re always replaceable. What boss is going to let you tailor your schedule to meet your family’s needs, when you could either stick your kids in daycare or there is someone else that will willingly take your place?

As I neared the end of finishing my business degree, with this cutthroat corporate chain reality, the idea of being a salon professional became more appealing. I could build my business, make my own schedule, while still being a mom when the time came, and when the kids got older I could eventually open my own salon. This is now my reality. The ironic thing is there still seems to be a level of exhaustion and stress from dividing my time. I understand my situation is more ideal than most, but the reality is that until my son came in to the world I never would have imagined how difficult it would be to leave him every time I go to work. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, and I love the relationships I have with my salon guests, but my heart now understands why I was called to be the nurturer of this precious little life; what a huge responsibility, what an honor!

I am a part of this incredible group of moms and we’re reading The Mission of Motherhood. This book lays out what the role of a mother was designed to look like. It gets my gut wrenching every time I pick it up. It’s the weirdest sensation. There’s this inner turmoil where part of me wants to throw the book down and stop reading because it seems so “traditional” and old-school, just not the way things can be nowadays. Then there’s this other part of me that can’t put it down because I so badly want to provide this amazing, loving, nurturing, supportive environment for my son’s soul. Although the author repeatedly suggests she supports the idea of working moms, it creates a separation anxiety between my two worlds. What I realized today when reading, in order to have peace in this division, I must rest in each role; I must completely give up myself despite society’s push toward pampering and independence. Rather than thinking I need or deserve my own time, rather than wishing my son would fall asleep “on schedule” so I could get some sleep or get something done, I am deciding to let go.

I am deciding to enjoy each moment with him even more than I did before. I am deciding to think ahead of the day what we will do while he’s awake to teach him, stimulate his creativity, and develop his senses. I am deciding to savor every moment, even the screaming, flailing-arms-and-legs-teething moments, as my opportunity to comfort him and soothe his mind, body, and tender unadulterated spirit. I am Mommy for a reason. Even though society tells me to use a “learning” program as the best babysitter, I will teach him these crucial lessons not the television.

All these ideas were what I knew in my heart I wanted to do when we chose to start our family, but in the midst of a chaotic world of running around trying to balance everything, I was beginning to to settle into the “exhausted mom” category, thinking I deserve a break or a day to relax. It’s amazing what a simple shift of perspective does to the soul! Back on track with this renewed mind, I have had the most rewarding day so far. I was actually a little sad when it was nap time because I was having so much fun with my munchkin. We’ve never had sleep issues, but the past few weeks have been a huge struggle putting my 7 month old down for naps. I was just trying and trying, and he was fighting and fighting. Today I hardly had to do anything and he was out! Hhmmm? Could it be because I put my distractions away, was more present and intentional with my time, and therefore wasn’t passing on my anxious tension? Just a thought. We’ll see how everything goes tomorrow.

We’ll, until my munchkin’s next nap time I hope this encourages you to find your purpose and be intentional with your day. Even if you don’t have kids, be intentional with your relationships. I couldn’t get through life without my friends. I appreciate each one for her unique personality, wisdom, and sense of humor.

P.S. If you want kids one day, evaluate these ideas before you get started, it’ll save you some stress when the time comes. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when there’s a plan; it’s amazing how flexible you can be with your time! Don’t forget to smile!

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Opinions: No one wants them, but we’ve all got them

Venting…Ready….GO! People are really opinionated! It doesn’t matter if I even know the person, people are ready and willing to share their plethora of vomit wisdom and knowledge even if you don’t ask for it. Scccrreeech!! Time for the breaks before I lose you. Can I let you in on a little secret? I am too. Eeeekk! I said it!

Ugh! So, I had an epiphany: the things I despise about myself, I am so quick to criticize about other people. I have, however, been on a mission to change my negative, critical way of thinking for a few years now, but there’s still pieces to chisel away.

This epiphany, fortunately, was a quick reminder of how important my support system is to me. I have those friends I call when I’m having a really rough day; those friends I can call on a great day who will be excited with me; friends I call when I need to vent about rude comments I get from people, like, “Enjoy your pedicure now, because once your son gets older this will never happen!” and they’ll give me some humor to lighten the mood; others who know when to listen; others who have the perfect wisdom, experience, and encouragement to offer like, “the only reason you care so much about what others say is because as moms we put enough pressure on ourselves, we don’t need others to do it for us.” They remind me, and all my opinions, to breathe, and see the good intentions in those “opinionated people.”

Then there’s my best friend, who I proudly call my sister, who knows which of the above I need and when, without me even opening my mouth. (Thank you for that, Em!)

Then there’s my amazing sister, who I call my friend, who also falls into most of the above categories. I love that I can call her to tell her about the goofy, awkward, overly concerned customer service I received, and she knows I’m not judging the poor guy who asked five times if I needed to talk to the supervisor about not being satisfied, simply because at the register I decided I didn’t want to buy that $40 bathing suit…and…we laugh!

Here’s another lesson on giving myself some grace: 1. For not being perfect, as much as I’d love to always be right, I know I’m not (shhh don’t tell my husband I admitted that); 2. For caring unnecessarily about strangers opinions, or anyone’s for that matter; 3. For giving my opinion when it isn’t asked; 4. For being hypercritical of myself and circumstances, trying too hard to control everything.

My friend gave me some great words last night, ” We aren’t meant to control balance every part of our lives, so why do we strive so hard to achieve it? Instead, we should wake up every morning asking, ‘what is my purpose for today?'”. After all, in order to achieve “balance” something’s gotta give. So why stress about it every day? Just let go! Ask God! Let God!

I was looking at my son’s precious prints and it reminded me. We’re all unique. We were given our own design to make a mark on this world. We have one life on earth to live out a purpose. Here’s my point: I want to be the person anyone can call for any reason and know without a doubt I will be the one to listen, encourage, offer advice (using wisdom to know when it’s warranted and when to keep my mouth shut). I want to help people; be a light to people, be a mentor, be a friend. I am a work in progress, but aren’t we all?!?

Until my munchkin’s next nap time:
I hope my transparency will help you find peace and joy in your circumstances! If you’re looking for that support system, I’m here for you. I may not have all the answers, but we can learn together. In the mean time, smile! It’s amazing what a smile will do.

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Does anyone care what I have to say? Validation

Validation
We all want it! Don’t we? Why exactly is it so important to thriving in our work, home, relationships? Is it that we want to be heard? Understood? Encouraged?

Maybe you long for your boss to acknowledge how hard you work. Or is it your boss that needs to feel important and respected in his or her position? Do you wish your spouse (or maybe a roommate) would thank you for doing all the dishes, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom and doing the laundry after a long day at work or taking care of the kiddos?

Think about your conversations with your friends. This topic and awareness of the human need for validation keeps smacking me in the face. A friend reminded me this weekend that everything we talk about can be debated. It made me think. When I was younger I used to love to get in heated discussions, sometimes without a leg to stand on. The ironic thing is now that I actually am educated or have life experience to back up my perspectives, I find myself more annoyed by how argumentative people get if they don’t agree with you.

A few years ago my husband brought to my attention that me an my loud Italian family constantly cut each other off when we’re talking and don’t actually pay attention to what each other is saying. To me, this fact was just our way of showing we were participating and caring about the topic of conversation. To him, who comes from a family of amazingly active, attentive listeners, us cutting each other off was rude! This awareness made me realize why I thought his family was so compassionate and soft spoken. The result: I started working on listening more and asking more questions.

Now, here is the crazy thing I’ve found (most of the time): people get defensive with questions (confirming that his family is on a different spectrum of effective communication than the rest of the world). We’ve become so confrontational as a society and so quick to give our opinions. When someone asks us a question, we think they’re getting ready to tell us what we’re doing wrong. As more studies are done and an increasing amount of information is available to us, we’re becoming more ignorant and close minded. This information should foster an environment for people to make their own educated decisions, but instead it’s stirring up fights all over social media. What are we trying to prove?

Take parenting for example. My friend who’s expecting a baby in a few months posted a comment asking if anyone had a couple specific baby information books she could borrow as she prepares for this amazing and exciting journey. I was appalled at the responses. Her simple question was followed by a floodgate of people vomiting their opinions on those particular parenting philosophies; sharing how wonderful their kids turned out because of everything they did “right”. One person went as far as saying one of the philosophies has actually killed babies.

It’s just not fair! Parenting is one of the most rewarding adventures, and everyone thinks its their right to tell moms what they should and should not be doing. My favorite is when other moms tell me how easy I have it compared to them. When I wasn’t a mom I got the you-just-don’t-understand tone, “oh just wait until you have a baby.” Now that I am a Mom I get, “oh, just wait until he’s older, now is when it’s easy,” or “just wait until you two kids,”the best was, “you’re not really a mom ’til you have two.” Really? Is me thinking this is extremely rude because I need validation as a mom? Or are these moms so under appreciated they need to put other people down so THEY feel validated? What moms really need is to support each other and, yes, learn from each other, but not judge how each is raising her child(ren)!

Does this need for validation come from insecurity? Or is it just apart of the human experience of community? How do arguments or misunderstandings happen in the first place? Is it because we’re so anxious to be heard that we’re not listening to the other person.

Recently, my friend was going through a really difficult situation and needed to process her thoughts and talk out how she was feeling. Rather than allowing her to express herself, her other friends turned the situation into how they were emotionally affected by the circumstances and how upset it made them. Empathy and sympathy are both necessary at times, but so is discerning when its best to simply be quiet and let someone else talk.

What would happen in our relationships if we all just stopped thinking about the next thing to say and started appreciating the way other people think? We’re taught to ask good questions, which is important, don’t get me wrong, but are we spending too much time thinking about the next question that, again, we’re not actually listening? If everyone is seeking to be heard and understood, then questions really aren’t that important because we already have our mind made up of what we are wanting to say, right?

I’m not by any means claiming to be the best in this area. In fact, maybe because I’ve seen it as a personal weakness is the reason I’m so passionate about it. So, I’m getting off my soapbox now, but I really want your validation opinion on this topic! 🙂

Well, until my munchkin’s next nap time: I encourage you to smile, lighten up, start listening, start loving, start appreciating differences. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone! Please, no! Autonomy is boring! Just look at the person talking and hear her heart rather than the subject with which you may or may not agree.

What a Ride!

So…I’ve been gone for what seems like eternity to me, but the reality is only a couple of weeks. I’ve missed you WordPress and fellow readers and bloggers! Here’s why I’ve been MIA:

Last week I learned what being a Mom really is all about. MIA in my world is redefined as Mommy In Action. Up until two Mondays ago at 4:30am I had been enjoying all the amazing thrills of smiles, laughter, and watching my baby boy achieve all the developmental milestones.

I woke up startled by a shrilling scream. This was not a normal cry; I knew something was terribly wrong. I ran into his room to find him burning up. I immediately pick him up and try to feed him and minutes later he proceeded to projectile vomit all over me, him, the rocking chair, and the floor around us.

I took his temperature, 102 under his arm which is typically a degree less than accurate. I carefully carried him to give him a bath. His temp dropped suddenly and he started to shiver and throw up more as he’s sitting in his little bath. I immediately wrap him in a towel, dry him quickly and call the doctor.

I got an appointment first thing when the office opened. Of course, once at the doctor’s office, my son’s temperature had dropped to 99 degrees. I was instructed to keep monitoring him, give him infant Tylonal if his temp went up, and make sure he stayed hydrated; since he’s only breastfed, he needed to eat frequently. A long day of fluctuating temperatures and throwing up almost everything he ate, he finally passed out.

At 2:30am Tuesday morning I’m awoken to that same shrilling cry and a fever of 102 again, I feed him and he keeps it down this time, so I bring him to bed next to me to make sure he’s okay. Not long after I wake up startled because he was radiating heat next to me to find his underarm temp was 104!!! I gave him Tylonal and put him in the bath, and here we go again. This time I wake my husband to hold him while I call the doctor and my poor baby throws up lime green all over him. We are instructed to get to the ER within the hour.

As a new mom I’m doing everything I know and my poor little baby is rapidly getting worse. They set up an IV at the emergency room to hydrate him and he shows a good response, sigh of relief, but his fever was still above 103, eeek!! Still? He was severely lethargic; they decided to admit us into the hospital.

Test after test. Blood tests, full urine analysis, X-rays, ultrasounds, he got the full gammet. Everything negative; which in the medical world is a good thing.

My first reaction that Tuesday morning was mommy-to-the-rescue. After that didn’t work I sat in bed paralyzed by anxiety and fear. Every negative thought went whirling through my head like a tornado taring apart my faith and confidence that he was going to be okay. Holding him sobbing; I felt so helpless. The one thing I can always do that no one else can is nurse him, but he was too weak to eat. When I woke my husband his first question was, “did you call the doctor?” My teammate, my partner, my point of reasoning. The calm in his voice reminded me of where our strength comes from. We prayed, and this overwhelming peace and call to action took over.

Two nights and almost three full days in the hospital we were at complete peace. The love and support of our family and friends was the most overwhelming. Being reminded of how important relationships are. Our community was praying for us, calling or texting us, offering words of encouragement as simple as, “take a shower, it’ll make everything just a little better” (which saved me the second day of no sleep); some brought food and even a care package with a toy for my little munchkin.

Don’t get me wrong, it was the worst feeling in the world to helplessly watch my baby lie in the crib, hooked up to wires, unable to hold him without beeps and alarms sounding. He was exhausted, sick, lethargic, and pale. I had to tell the doctors he was supposed to have his Dad’s beautiful olive complexion, because they looked at me and thought his pasty skin color was normal. My husband and I just held each other with tears streaming down our faces each time they had to hold him down for another round of tests. Our happy, bubbly little boy was screaming in pain. In spite of the tears, there was still this covering of peace knowing that we were blessed with the miracle of our son, and he was going to be okay.

Sitting in the hospital I had so much to write about, so I sat awake at all hours jotting my thoughts, excited to share with the world!

We arrived home Thursday night with a little boy on his way to being healthy again. He was finally able to eat and we wanted to come home so he could actually sleep. I had family coming in town for Mother’s Day weekend and I was eager to clean house and then finally sit and publish my blogs from the hospital. I plug my phone in to make sure it would be fully charged as I awaited a flood of messages from people arriving and my phone decides to no longer charge. I lost all of my information, along with the pearls of wisdom I wanted to share 🙂 So here I am (with a new phone that I now backup regularly), back on the horse again to embark on this journey. There will be bumps in the road, hopefully not as terrifying as this last one, but I thank you for joining me on the ride.

Besides learning patience and how to breathe in stressful situations, I gained such a respect and appreciation for the people in my life. I hope I never take them for granted! I hope I can be the friend to them as they have so graciously and selflessly been to me! It is so true that you can look for friends everywhere and never find any, but the moment you are a friend to someone, you’ll find your friendships are incalculable.

Until my munchkin’s next nap, or maybe a little longer:) :
I hope my experience has helped you find peace in whatever crazy circumstance you might be facing. You’re not alone, and if you ever feel that you are, I’ll be a friend.

What obstacle are you facing today? Can I offer you some encouragement? Let’s chat!

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