Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie

November 16, 2011 3 comments

If we let sleeping dogs lie, should we expect them to tell the truth when they wake up?

I’m feeling grammatically cheeky this morning, but this idea actually encapsulates what I’ve been thinking about lately. I am neither a historian nor a social scientist so I won’t even attempt to inject anything but my own observations into this, but it seems like a pattern is emerging.

Three things caught my eye on Facebook this morning. One read:

Everybody!!!!!!!, let’s do this. We should flood Facebook with this: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under GOD, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all”. RE-POST IF YOU THINK GOD, OUR COUNTRY, OUR FLAG, AND OUR MILITARY DESERVE RESPECT!!!!. Let’s just see how many people will!!!!..

Another said:

It is interesting to me that when you do something with a giving spirit, there are often those who need to search for an ulterior motive.  (Renee F.)

And the third:

On our way home …. a deer leaped out and landed on the car. What that did to the car and everything that involves is secondary to how we feel about the Deer. I’m still processing…and, finding that I’m afraid to get back on these country roads. (Michele S.)

What tied these three ideas together for me was their common theme of TRUST.

As we are wrestling to find a way out of the mess our economy has become and people stand in public squares all across the country to voice their disillusionment about it, the dog that is our collective conscience is waking up …. and it’s hungry.

A college community is feeling shaken to its core by the shattering of trust that has been accomplished by the revelation at Penn State of a scandal involving the sexual abuse of several young boys by a former coach of the football team. Though this is not the first time such an incident has happened in our country, it points to a much deeper issue involving our collective morality. A revered community leader has engaged in a most base violation of those in his care and yet he can’t bring himself to admit that his actions were wrong. Those surrounding him who were aware of the problem had a similar dilemma. It makes me wonder how this pathology of deception and abuse of the powerless has become so prevalent in our country.

Since 1954 when Congress changed the Pledge of Allegiance to include the words “under God”, our country has been in spiritual turmoil. A decade earlier, we had righted one of the most egregious wrongs in recent history with WWII but our victory had created a taste for rooting out evil. We began to see it everywhere and in everyone.  Fear of our country being overtaken by Communism resulted in this knee-jerk decision to amend the original Pledge of Allegiance, written by Francis Bellamy in 1892, in an effort to fend off Godlessness, like a necklace of garlic warding off a vampire, as though a profession of allegiance to God in the public square could force people to abide by the rules of the United States and by extension, the Bible. All it did was incite rebellion.

This rebellious pioneerism has come to define most Americans. We want to be free to choose our actions with a minimum of interference. When we feel our ideals are being compromised, we are allowed to stand up and protest. Too often, though, we have left the dog to slumber too long while our rights were being impinged, relying on the stink of injustice to reach its sensitive nose and bring it back to consciousness.

Now, the sleeping dog has shaken itself awake to the smell of what’s going on and it is snapping, growling, and barking at what has been happening to the freedoms in our country, a Constitutional Republic that had been formed in reaction to this very oppression by government that had demanded control over how people worked, worshiped, and contributed. It has become increasing clear that we have allowed the misplaced perception of evil to once again invade our trust and shake our confidence.

In the early part of the 20th century as America became more prosperous, we seemed to forget why we existed in the first place. We had declared that every man had the right to determine his own destiny, with the idea that if we all pitched in and lifted ourselves up by helping to fulfill each other’s needs, we could create something that had never existed before — an open society of opportunity, free of the constraints of an oppressive government that would demand to determine our course.

Little by little, as our country grew beyond our wildest expectations, we panicked and lost our ability to trust that ideal. Companies bought other companies in order to squeeze out competition and maximize profits. In reaction to unfair business practices due to the size and power of these organizations, we thought that if we created laws to dictate fairness and prosperity for all then everything would be made equal. We thought that if we told people how to behave toward one another, we could create an atmosphere of mutual respect, but we can see now that the corporations ultimately won out. The concentration of economic power we had so eschewed in our early years, then in the form of government, had become the kind of bully we thought we’d escaped by rising up against it. The accomplice was looking the other way as the abuser took advantage again and again of the little guy who had no say in the matter.

I don’t know what inspired the coach at Penn State to initiate the violations he is accused of, or who was the first banker to make the decision to sell and profit from a bad investment, but history reveals that if we get away with something once, we’re likely to try it again. If no one disturbs the dog, we have carte blanche to do whatever we want, right?

We can declare our allegiance to God, the flag, and apple pie in public all we want, but does that absolve us of what we do when we think no one is looking or does it simply cover up the misdeeds of some very unrighteous people, like the bankers and politicians in our country, buoyed by a lack of regulation that allowed them to flagrantly cheat their way to unprecedented personal profits at the expense of those who trusted them to be the backbone of our economy? Were the jobs of the other coaches at Penn State more valuable than the spiritual and emotional health of a young boy whose life would be irrevocably altered by their indifference? Did they forget to pledge their allegiance to a higher moral call or were they the ones shouting it the loudest?

We, the people, are feeling the visceral ache of a trust violated. In the wake of a violent raping on 9/11, we were encouraged to take a ride in search of prosperity on our bucolic country roads in an attempt to build a brighter future for ourselves and our families, but then a huge deer suddenly ran out in front of us and there was no way to avoid it. The peaceful grandeur that had been our country was suddenly laid across the hood of our common vehicle and we were faced with the decision to put it out of its misery or try to save it. Meanwhile, the vehicle is wrecked and we’re going to have to figure out how to get to work as we ponder whether the deer was being chased or if we had simply built the road in its way.

Our society, once based on mutual nourishment, not a commune but a community, has lost its sense of responsibility to the health of the whole and our appetite for hunting down evil has grown stronger again. When a neighbor comes to welcome us with a fresh batch of cookies, we immediately wonder what they want from us. When a friend is experiencing need, we think they must have done something to deserve that lack. We don’t want to get involved but we’ll throw money at a charity so we don’t have to look into the eyes of the homeless person that used to be our neighbor or get our hands dirty by touching theirs; we might catch their bad luck. And we definitely don’t trust the government to decide how to fix the problem. Everybody knows that dog is vicious and unpredictable….

So, if, as we pledge, we do trust in God, then we will do the right thing even when God and the dog seem to be napping. We’ll stop poking God awake and whining, “God, tell those guys to cut it out! They don’t love you as much as we do so they don’t deserve anything!” It seems to me, as in any good relationship, that God needs to be able to trust in us just as much, yet we’re too often proving ourselves unworthy partners. Are we honoring our own pledge?

In these struggling relationships that are eating away at our collective trust, will the Penn State victims be able to forgive their abuser and his accomplices? Will our politicians and bankers stop encouraging us to blame each other for our troubles when they were the ones speeding down the road in the car that hit the deer that got us into this mess? And will we be able to give of ourselves to those whose spirits are so diminished that they feel they have nothing to lose, with no questions asked and  no expectation of return? Are we willing to offer them a ride until the car gets fixed no matter how long it takes?

Oh hey, since the dog’s awake, I guess I’d better go feed it something nourishing. Wouldn’t want it to go in search of evil just to satisfy its appetite. Nice talking to y’all.

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Steve Jobs Was My Spiderman

October 14, 2011 1 comment

“To design something really well you have to get it. You have to really grok [to intimately and completely share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity] what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to thoroughly understand something – chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that. Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask a creative person how they did something, they may feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after awhile. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or have thought more about their experiences than other people have.

Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. They don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions, without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better designs we will have.”

-Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple, 1955-2011

Yup, I could have written all this myself because it says what I’ve been trying to articulate since I was young.

I got in trouble a lot for daydreaming in school. It wasn’t that I wasn’t listening; I was simply connecting what I was hearing to something other than what the teacher might have intended. The information was a spider and the activity in my head was the web being spun, shooting itself off in all directions while remaining attached to a solid center.

The way we’ve been trying to educate kids today through standardized testing seems to assume only a solid center floating in empty space, as though making it more dense will somehow make it stronger. But if you’ve ever walked down the street early in the morning and been caught right across the eyes by a single strand of spider silk, you know that can’t possibly be true. A spider knows that to walk the distance a microfilament of webbing can travel in an instant would take forever, so why do it?

If Steve Jobs did anything for humanity, it was to teach us to think like the spider and imagine a whole new universe all in the midst of an intricate, spectacular, ever-expanding web.

Categories: Art, Life, Really?

And A Little Kid Shall Lead Them….

September 26, 2011 10 comments

A friend lost her father suddenly last week and she has been sharing her experience of grief with us in a way that reminds me of the profound days and weeks after my own father passed away nearly 20 years ago.

When I was 28, my father had been unwell most of my life. After suffering a near fatal heart attack at age 50, he was forced to retire from a busy job as the senior minister at a large Congregational church in New York and start over again somewhere less stressful. We moved to a farm my parents had bought a few years earlier in southern New Hampshire.

For years prior, we had traveled from NY to a summer retreat near there with a large group of families from the church, and one of our favorite destinations to visit was The Friendly Farm in Dublin. We’d all show up and spend the day feeding the vast array of farm animals with the food provided. It was an exciting experience for a bunch of kids from the suburbs.

When he heard we were moving to the farm for good, the owner of The Friendly Farm presented my dad with a beautiful Jersey calf as a gift. We loaded the week-old calf, whom we named “Irene” (eirênê) after the goddess of peace, into the backseat of our VW bug and took her home.

Over the years, Irene was mother to several calves, many of them not her own. They were Holsteins, Herefords, Ayrshires …. she had no qualms about who nursed off of her as long as her udder was empty and comfortable when they were done feeding. She lived for many years as matriarch of the farm.

So it seemed right, many years later when it was time to make a transition in my life, to spend a summer working at The Friendly Farm as a way to clear my head with some hard physical work at a place that represented good memories.

As the warm, early April sun filtered through the tall pines to melt the remaining snow, I would arrive early each day to begin the Spring chores. A batch of tiny goats had arrived for the season and my first task was to feed them — all twenty or so. In a 5-gallon bucket I would combine warm water with a powdery formula mix and fill twenty 10 oz. Coke bottles, fitting each one with a rubber nipple. In order to not lose track of who had already eaten — goats are tricksters — I would lift two at a time over a wooden gate and when they were done they’d be replaced by two more. The ritual made my spirit laugh.

But even as my own heart was expanding, my father’s was shutting down. When I told him I was working at The Friendly Farm, instead of his usual feigned disappointment that I wasn’t studying to be a brain surgeon whenever I’d tell him about my latest occupation, he just said, “That’s great, El.” His fight was gone. On April 22, 1992 — Earth Day — he finally gave up for good.

I thought about him in the weeks that followed as the farm began to come alive with new babies from the cows, sheep, chickens, and goats. I remembered all the creatures that had been born on our own farm in the early dawn before school, finding a new baby calf or foal all slippery and slimy being licked clean by its mother, and the amazement at watching that hour-old baby stand up on its shaky legs and begin nursing. All around me, new life was springing up again even as I struggled to fully understand that another had come to an end.

I worked through those days feeling some sense of comfort in the routine of the farm but still wasn’t experiencing acute grief. I wondered why I couldn’t feel anything. I decided that I had grieved him so many times over the years that what I was feeling was relief that he finally wasn’t suffering anymore.

Then one day a goat gave birth to triplets. Twins are the norm so when a third is born chances are that the little one won’t survive. It was clear when I saw this tiny kid plop out after the other two that he would not live for long. He was half their size, his breathing labored, and he couldn’t stand up to nurse. His mother refused to help. I tried to get him to drink some formula but he wouldn’t take it.

I did the only thing I could think to do and brought him to a quiet place in the bottom of the barn where I made a soft bed out of sawdust and hay. I lay down beside him and stroked his tiny frightened head and assured him that he needn’t be afraid, that it was okay to let go.

And then I remembered that those were the very thoughts I had spoken in my mind as I watched my father’s life drain away in the week before he died. I picked up the baby goat and put him in my lap, cradling him against my body as he took his last heaving breaths and when at last he became still I threw my head back and let out a guttural sob…. and then spent what seemed like hours weeping and rocking that little kid as though he were my big bear of a father who had died all alone in a hospital room.

In my heart I knew that this sweet baby goat, this little kid only hours old, had been sent to help me let my father go and I watched with my mind’s eye as the two of them, healthy and strong, walked side by side into the early Spring sunlight….

Let Me Introduce You To My “Family”….

September 18, 2011 6 comments

No matter where we come from, regardless of what was true for us growing up, we all end up with a family living inside our heads.

At least I do…

They are not real people, though they represent archetypes that we all recognize. The baby, the bully, the mediator….. You name ’em, I got ’em. Here’s the lineup:

Trixie is my inner child. She’s about 3, just learning to talk about the things she sees but can’t quite process. She only understands simple pain and simple joy. She’s full of questions and silly observations that mostly make people laugh. Her parents are:

Warren Peece, an old hippie activist who had his name legally changed to distance himself from his family legacy. He just can’t seem to stop being offended by everything that happens and speaks up whenever he perceives an injustice being done to powerless people. He’s not very good at constructively putting his efforts where his mouth is, so he married:

Anne Chovey, a reporter he met at a demonstration against some cause he can’t quite remember due to a previous propensity for illicit substances. Anne was that stable influence, like so many women are for their husbands. She has an uncanny ability to gather the facts and prioritize them, though she doesn’t do it unless she’s asked. And you know free-spirit Warren doesn’t want his passions made constructive. He’s simply acting out against his father:

Thaddeus A. Bunchable, a conservative blowhard, a “self-made man” who can’t stop spouting about how the world is going to Hell because of these hippie, Bible-bashing deadbeats who’ve never done an honest day’s work. He doesn’t want his hard-earned money going to bail out the lazy good-for-nothing welfare cheats who are dragging down the beloved country that he fought so hard for. And since he doesn’t believe in divorce, he has been married for too many years to:

Fritzi, a compulsive, unrepentant hedonist who copes with Thad’s chronic grumpiness by seeking out a party anytime and anywhere. Heck, she doesn’t even care if nobody’s around — she’ll have a party by herself, all dressed up with nowhere to go. Her motto is, “If life hands you lemons, make mine a Stoli Lemon Drop!” But deep inside, Fritzi is sad. Really, really sad. Usually after a bout of trying to entertain away her inner despair, Fritzi turns to:

Sister Ellen, a non-denominational nun that the whole family secretly goes to when the world gets too hard to take. Sister Ellen loves to sit with Trixie on her lap listening and laughing at the stories Trixie makes up about stuff; she understands Warren like few others, knowing that his heart is pure even if his actions aren’t; she respects Anne for being objective, but wishes her heart were a little more open to feeling something; she sees the pain in Thaddeus that can only express itself by lashing out; and she secretly idolizes Fritzi for being able to let it all hang out, even though she knows the exuberance is false.

This family, the family that is me, the one that is so dysfunctional yet so passionate, so hateful and hurtful and yet so kind …. is where I come from. They blame and forgive, dishonor and repent, yell and cry, but always come back together in laughter. They care for each other deeply, even when their words and actions seem to indicate otherwise. Time has allowed them to understand each other and give one another the space to work things out. It’s not always easy to bear witness to someone else’s growing pains, but they always manage to come back together when the dust settles.

I love my family, warts and all……

15 Years and a Quarter Million Miles

September 13, 2011 2 comments

My dog and my car….

Vying for longevity records…

And me….

Wondering how long the three of us will last…..

We’ve been traveling together for a long time now, since I was in my early 30s and they were both brand new.

My car used to go faster and get speeding tickets from time to time. Now, she just toodles along, irritating all who find themselves in her remarkably clean exhaust wake. An occasional oil change and a few replaced obsolete parts assure me that she’ll start every time I turn the key. I try not to go looking for trouble under the hood. As long as she’s humming, so am I.

My dog has eaten everything she could manage to get past her esophagus, including dirty diapers, animal bones, small electronics, various neighborhood trash concoctions — with only minor disturbances to her normal digestive process. She doesn’t seem to much care what it tastes like. The process of ingesting is the goal.

I’m kind of a hybrid of the two. I’ve been known to try things that others have the good sense not to go near and have so far managed to survive the disruptions to my spiritual health, and my physical body has yet to seriously balk at my actions. I try to keep both systems running at least reasonably well but I have my reckless moments — just to test the limits, for risk-taking’s sake.

Murphy riding shotgun in Big Red

I used to say that when either my car or my dog decided to call it quits, I would park them somewhere and cremate them together. But the closer that day gets, the more likely I am to want to join them.

I write this, not as a cry for help, but as an observation of our human decision to survive. My car doesn’t choose to keep running — it just does. My dog, well, she just seems to have more exploring to do in search of new things to ingest. She doesn’t seem to think much beyond that.

Me? Some days I don’t know. I don’t understand how or why I keep waking up in the morning…. I just do. I have no more sense of why I’m here than either my car or my dog. I just am. I envy their lack of need to know.

I wonder if lots of us don’t feel this way sometimes. We create externals that require us to get up and keep going, but what are we without those external drivers? If I didn’t put gas in the car and just let it sit there, it would probably continue to exist indefinitely. If I set my dog free to make it on her own, she would because she just does.

I will likely continue to be here when the other two have stopped running because something in me will always expect that there is more to experience. I will probably not decide to rev my car up as fast as it will go and slam head-on into a live oak tree in order to obliterate us all in a giant fireball as I have occasionally fantasized about doing.

257,000 miles and still going…

No, my car will eventually deteriorate enough to not be worth repairing and so will my dog. Heck, so will I. But since I am not quite there yet, their passing will precede me and I hope I’ll be able to see it not as an ending, but as a new beginning. A shiny new car, a healthy young dog and I will begin the process all over again even though I know I will have to endure the same re-evaluation someday … and I will again make the decision to survive … or not.

And so it goes for each of us. Parts of us die over and over again throughout our lives so that something shiny and healthy can emerge. Someday soon I will let these two witnesses to my disjointed mid-life go but I will still be here because they taught me what it means to just keep going until your parts wear out.

And I will smile gratefully, knowing that I survived…. again.

Giving Birth?

July 21, 2011 3 comments

Don’t get all excited — I’m not having a baby. That’s my gift to humanity. One of me is enough!

But if you ever read what I write, you’ll notice a theme.

I’m a reluctant religious fanatic.

I don’t actually want to take part in any of the organized versions but I am fascinated by all of them. Reading people’s ideas about faith and humanity is like crack to me. I’m addicted, and these days my drug is amply available. Facebook alone assures me a lifetime supply — I’m one happy junkie!

But I don’t go in for the hardcore stuff. Can’t afford it. It’s too much of an investment so I get what I can when I can.

I got a good nugget the other day regarding God’s command to us to “be fruitful and multipy”. Most people look at that and say it means that God wants us to have lots and lots of babies (does that mean they should be good at math and not be fruits? After all, “fruits” can’t multiply. Hmmm…. another subject to explore). In a world where our population is causing us some major labor pains, could that possibly be interpreted differently?

I come from a large family. Ten of us, if you include my crazy parents who thought this would be a good idea. You don’t see those numbers much these days and if you do, it’s often within a religious sect known as the Quiverfull movement where women have as many babies as their reproductive organs will withstand (see: Duggar Family. I’m fairly sure that Mrs. Duggar’s uterus must be made of kevlar).

But not all of us were cut out to give birth to human beings. Sure, biologically the goods are all there, but could it be possible that others of us were meant to be impregnated with ideas, or abilities that help us to better serve those whose gift it is to raise children?

I can’t compare what happens for me to actual childbirth since I haven’t experienced it, but my life seems to cycle through “pregnancies” — the initial glow of an idea, the morning sickness with the changing hormones caused by anxiety, the eventual realization that this is really going to happen and I’m going to have to deal with it, and finally the “get this thing outta me before it kills me!!” stage.

That’s the birthing process of a creative idea. Where I have trouble is with the thought of having to raise the idea to adulthood. I know the soul-crushing angst of aborting ideas over and over again so I practice birth control. I sabotage conception all the time. I’ve even thought of just giving birth to a concept and letting someone else raise it but I’m too afraid of what will happen to it if I give up control.

Maybe this is the world we’re living in. Someone tried to tell me that we have to give up all control to God but I just can’t wrap my head around that idea. As human beings we have mastered control over so much in our lives and yet we are just as out of control as ever.

What would the world look like if we didn’t stand in the way of creation?

The Pain in the Joy

July 15, 2011 6 comments

I watched my life pass before my eyes last weekend.

No, not like that.

I mean that I felt all the phases of my life so far through the experiences of others in my family.

A beautiful wedding in a beautiful setting made my eyes well up as I watched my sweet niece marry a wonderful man that she had patiently waited to find. The ceremony was every bit as lovely as its surroundings but the formal Catholic service touched a resentful spot in me knowing that I too could now get married in that state…. but not in that church. I hadn’t thought it would matter to me, but on some level it did. I tried not to think about it.

I felt a strange melancholy realizing that all of my nieces and nephews are coming of age or are moving into new phases of their lives and I found myself remembering what it felt like for my brothers and sisters and me to be their age as we heard about their different challenges, from those just starting out, looking at the huge world and trying to find their place in it, to those who have fallen down and gotten back up again and are digging deeper to find the meaning in it all, we have been there. We are still there. I tried to push down the sense of envy I was feeling that they are just starting out and have their whole lives ahead of them. I wanted a do-over.

I did my best to control these paradoxical feelings that seemed to have no place in the midst of this joyous gathering, but when my niece, Cara, the bride, took a moment to chat with me, unexpectedly acknowledging the awkwardness I might have felt about the Catholic wedding, she brought up an event from when she was a little girl and I lost it. Completely and utterly.

When Cara was just 3 or 4, her mother became gravely ill. Her father, my brother, was doing his medical school residency and with two toddlers to care for, things were tense. They needed help.

About the time of my 21st birthday, I traveled with my parents to visit them. I had dropped out of college after two years and had lived at home for five months because I couldn’t figure out what to do next. I was a mess. I had a lousy job at a drug store in the town where I’d gone to college, just 15 miles from home, and I would frequently see my former classmates, most of whom I hadn’t really become friends with. I was at the lowest point of my life.

Sweet little Cara and her younger brother Jim had no idea how serious their mom’s situation was. They laughed and played and did what toddlers do, just like my younger sister and I had when our own mother had been sick. When it was suggested that I stay with them for a while to help, I bowed out, saying that I couldn’t get time off from my job (that I hated). I was giving in to my fears and thinking only of myself. Instead, my sister, who was about to embark on her own journey with illness, stepped in. She was able to offer her time to assist in the recovery process.

As Cara was reminding me of that time, my mind and heart flashed back to how hard it had been for everyone, especially her mother. But what finally got me was when she told me that she and her mom had gone to the mall before we arrived to get a birthday present for me. While it touched me to think that even through all their struggles they had thought of me, when Cara told me that she had been the one to pick out my gift, a purple sweatsuit with green stripes and arms that zipped off to make it short-sleeve, I plunged headfirst into a deep pool of tears. Little Cara, with her giant blueberry eyes and relentlessly cheerful outlook had chosen one of my favorite gifts of all time. And now she was a grownup married woman still thinking of others first. Her Catholic mother had taught her well.

As I looked around at my siblings and their children, all of whom have faced difficult choices and situations but have managed to muscle through, I was humbled in a way I have never been before. I realized how often I have taken the path of least resistance and have shied away from challenge, how I have blamed others and felt resentment toward those who didn’t deserve it. In that moment, I felt acutely the fear and pain of growing up as though I were still in the midst of it.

And I realized that I still am in the midst of it.

If I have any words of wisdom to offer my up-and-coming family they are these:

  • Never shy away from challenge. There is a reason you are being asked.
  • Don’t give in to any voices that tell you you’re not good enough, smart enough, disciplined enough. JUST TAKE ONE STEP. The others will follow.
  • Learn to take criticism and praise with a grain of salt.
  • Keep learning new things.
  • If your heart yearns for something, figure out how to oblige it.

I am ever faithful that each of us will manage to break through the roadblocks in our lives, that we will come to forgive ourselves and others for not being perfect no matter how long it takes, and we will learn to appreciate every painful moment as well as every joyful one even though we won’t always be able to experience them separately.

To my niece, Cara, who, on her special day was gracious enough to make part of it about me, you have already mastered the secrets of life listed above that many of us struggle a lifetime to learn… Bless your beautiful, open heart and may you and Andy have many wonderful years together.

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