summer has arrived!

Jun 13, 2017 by

June is nearly half over and summer is here! We just completed our 14th year of Swim Camp. There were 49 families camping with us, 110 kids in lessons, and many other children not in lessons. SO MUCH FUN.

The next few weeks are full of family reunions and camping with Tami (cousin), Mikelle (sister), and my mama on the banks of a beautiful, slow-moving river the kids will play in all day long. This summer we will also have our regular trip to the Wind Rivers, a wedding for my niece, Andie, in Fort Collins, and many days at our local lakes and rivers to kayak and paddleboard and soak up sunshine.

Summer time is just what I need. Amazing how it comes around every year at just the right time to fill my soul up with family, nature, time on the water, blue skies, and Vitamin D from that glorious sun.

I am recovering from my trip to Mexico for stem cell treatments four weeks ago and I can feel my torn ligaments healing. It is ever so slow, but it is working. We went kayaking and paddleboarding on Memorial Day and my hands were able to paddle. It hurt my shoulder with the still recovering subscapularis tear to pull on the paddleboard, but kayaking was okay. It must engage a slightly different set of body parts. My goal is to be in my boat and on my board as much as possible so I can grow some serious muscle. Last summer I was able to grow 5 lbs of muscle between May and September because of all the kayaking I did. I lost nearly all of it over this long winter of injuries. Now, I want to grow more and then NOT get injured and be able to keep growing muscle all winter long.

Bring on the sun and sea (or beautiful rivers and man-made lakes which populate Idaho!). Bring on the family time. Bring on the camping in the majestic mountains and fresh air. Oh, how I love summer.

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he carries me

Apr 4, 2017 by

I had a pretty big epiphany this weekend during General Conference. I started to have this epiphany during the 2015 October Conference when President Monson seemed to nearly collapse at the pulpit, but it came even more strongly into my heart and mind this time.

President Monson, our prophet, is not doing very well physically. Richard and Dallin told me that at the Priesthood session on Saturday night, he only spoke for a few minutes and his words were so slurred that captions were used so the audience could understand him. On Sunday morning, he again spoke for just a short while, but his voice was clear and strong and completely understandable. He was able to announce five new temples and share a message on daily scripture reading and pondering. He did not attend the Sunday afternoon session because he was too weary.

As his situation settled into my heart, a new understanding of my own life started growing. So very often, I can muster the energy, the capacity, the presence to show up and do something big…like present at a conference or teach a class or throw a party or go on an adventure. But then I crash. Hard. I will pass out, have seizures, spend a whole day in bed, stop digesting food, have a crazy heart rate, or the whole shebang of other symptoms of dysautonomia. I often think to myself, I must be making this whole thing up. Because if I can get up and do the BIG THING, whatever it is, I should be able to do big things all the time and be just fine. So, I must be making this up or wimping out or just not having enough grit to do ALL THE THINGS.

This may be a long-term struggle for me, this internal yo-yoing back and forth, but as I heard his voice on Sunday morning and stared at his empty chair on Sunday afternoon, I felt God whispering comfort and peace to my soul. I felt Him telling me that He is helping me do the BIG THINGS and that just because I can sometimes do them does not mean I can always do them.

My mind still doesn’t really understand how I can do a thing one day and not be able to do the same thing the next day, but somehow, in those sacred moments of Conference, He let me know it is the reality of my life and that I am not making anything up, am not a wimp, and am certainly not lacking grit. He helped me to understand, through watching our brave prophet’s example, that He can and will sustain me in doing the big things, at least some of the time.

Beautiful lesson from my loving Father.

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five days till our hugs

Mar 30, 2017 by

Our girl comes home in FIVE days. Oh, my goodness! It is so hard to believe that her mission, the thing she prepared for her whole life, is coming to a close.

I had all sorts of goals for while she was gone. I was going to lose twenty pounds. I was going to be not passing out, not injured…I was going to have made so much improvement physically that we would both know it was a mission miracle. I was going to make her a quilt with all sorts of cool mission pictures on it. I was going to have a darling room for her. I was going to have all her emails and photos printed out and made into a book. Certainly the yard would be de-junkified, the garage organized, and the house clean. At the very least, all of her weekly emails would be posted here on my blog for the sake of posterity.

The reality is that none of those things are going to happen. Perhaps some of them could have happened if I hadn’t been hit hard this month with new injuries and dozens of passing out episodes. We are focusing on surviving and thriving on the essentials…morning snuggles, nighttime read-alouds, and people fed some sort of sustenance (most likely not made by me).

Instead of the aforementioned list, our missionary will come home to a real family with real challenges and heaps of love for her that will be shown with lots of hugs, homemade signs, listening ears, and maybe some ice cream. The Pinterest version of a missionary homecoming isn’t all that necessary and I probably shouldn’t have let myself go down that road in the first place since I can’t even figure out how to make dinner or write a blog post on any sort of regular schedule.

Richard has been able to rip out Keziah’s poorly organized closet and build a new space that we are hoping will hold two young ladies’ clothing. Keziah has purchased two new twin beds for both of them and we were able to get new mattresses and bedding. So, she has an awesome place to sleep and a place to put her clothing. Total win, right?

In other news, my body is a mess right now. A hot mess. On the 10th of March, while STANDING and watching Annesley dance her heart out at an Irish Dance performance, my foot dislocated AND a ligament tore. I was doing NOTHING at all, just standing. The next day, while shifting myself in bed, I reinjured my right hand that we have spent the past 17 months healing. I had been out of my splint completely for two months and had been working out of it for about four. It is SO sore. I am back to not being able to write or mouse or do my hair. My foot is incredibly painful. I spend a lot of time in my wheelchair. When I do walk, I am hobbling around, all taped up in an effort to hold the bones in place. My left hand is still in a brace from the fall on October 29th and my left shoulder, though much better since the stem cell shots into the subscapularis tear in January, is still hurting and not able to do much. On top of all that, these new injuries have wrecked havoc with my nervous system and it is going haywire. The prior issues of food not digesting, heart rate skyrocketing and plummeting, passing out, seizures, and constant exhaustion are now pretty constant and I am tuckered out.

This is NOT the state I wanted to be in to welcome my girl home. But it is reality. It is the ride we are on right now and I am determined to make the best of it and not give in to despair and throwing in the towel. January and February were amazing months where I felt normal and capable and had SO MUCH HOPE that I would never pass out again. Everything changed in March and I am learning once again to turn to Him, to listen to His voice of peace and love, and make the best of what I do have control over.

Five days till we get to hug our girl and listen to her stories. Five days to make peace with the reality and NOT make my family crazy for everything we are not.

Life is good. For realsies.

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eyes to see and ears to hear

Dec 10, 2016 by

Perceptions are a funny thing. They determine how we see things, how we understand the world around us, how we evaluate other’s motives, and yet, they are so often wrong. Last night I had one of those moments when I realized, once again, how incorrectly I can perceive the world.

Last night was our Ward Christmas Party. When I finished eating, my heart rate went up like it usually does, and I leaned back in my chair and tried to relax and think calming thoughts to help it come back down. But all the stimulation of kids running around, people talking to me, and the mass chaos of hundreds of people being in the same room together were too much for my nervous system to process. I tried closing my eyes and breathing deeply for awhile and that helped it calm down somewhat. Eventually Richard left to go figure out a way to get our car right up by the door and I counted heartbeats, willing them to sloooooowwwwww down and tried everything I knew to calm my system. The men were all working hard taking down tables and chairs, but could see something was wrong with me and left my table and chairs alone.

Fisher, my dear son who hates to be an inconvenience to anyone, came over and said, “Mom, can you move?” Barely lifting my head, I mumbled, “No, no I can’t.” I thought, “Oh, my heavens, can’t he see I am on the verge of passing out? Does he really care more about inconveniencing the men putting away tables than he does about my body’s needs?” He asked again, “Mom, can you move?” Again, I mumbled “No” and tried to get him to understand that I wasn’t using the table and it could be put away as long as they didn’t move my chairs or try to move me. Not satisfied with my answer, he persisted, “Mom, can you move? They are playing basketball.” In my nearly unconscious state of mind, I nearly exploded inside thinking, “Seriously! He is wanting to play basketball when I am having an episode? He wants me to move so they have more room to play!” But I couldn’t say anything because I was fighting with everything I had to stay conscious and calm. Finally, he said, “Mom, I’m worried the ball is going to hit you and hurt you. We’ve got to move you because they are playing basketball.”

I opened my eyes and looked around and saw that there was a group of teens playing basketball and I was right on the 3-point line. They were running all over the floor and the ball was flying wildly near me. I had had no idea any of that was happening and the boys had no idea anything was wrong with me, they were just trying to have fun. Grasping the situation, I told Fisher, “I can’t move, so you are going to have to protect me from the ball.” His response, “That is what I have been doing, I just think you would be safer if we could move you away from here.”

Oh, my goodness, the tears of gratitude welled up inside me for this good, good boy of mine. He wasn’t embarrassed of me. He wasn’t worried about inconveniencing the clean-up crew. He wasn’t wanting to play basketball and have more room on the court. He was watching over me and protecting me without anyone asking him to and without me even realizing what he was doing.

So often I respond too quickly, long before I understand the real situation. I am grateful for a body that was unable to speak and lash out in irritation and was instead able to hear his quiet voice, full of love, trying to help me.

Eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to understand…those are the gifts I yearn for.

p.s. Yes, I did pass out a few minutes later. As we slowly made our way out to the car, my body collapsed in the hallway with Richard and several other men catching me and taking care of me. I am surrounded by angels, both heavenly and earthly ones. Thank you to those of you who so willingly walk this journey with me.

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four weeks with this crazy, dislocating pile of bones

Apr 16, 2016 by

Four weeks ago I did a little baby cartwheel called a monkey jump at gym. It is just a little hop with your feet while your hands are on the ground. A small child didn’t understand what I was asking him to do, so after explaining it multiple times I finally did one. I never thought it would hurt me. And certainly never imagined it would cause the big mess I am in now. All I was thinking about was how this precious child couldn’t understand what I was saying and the only way to help him understand was to show him.

My hand isn’t getting any better. At all. The bones will not stay in place. I am having an MRI on Monday to look for torn ligaments. They are probably not torn as my ligaments don’t normally tear, they normally stretch for a gazillion miles and lay there limp and weak not holding bones where they need to be.

Right now Jeremy has it taped up with about 12 layers of criss-crossing tape.

image

Then I wear my hand brace on top of all those tape layers. With all the tape and bracing, I can barely move it. Do you see the lasso-type tape around my ring finger? It is to hold that bone up. There are four layers of tape there and it is still sagging. Do you see that?

I am under strict orders to not use my hand for anything. It is nearly impossible, but I am trying. Really trying. I need a How-To guide on how to function without your dominant hand. I cannot figure out how to get contacts in and out. How to brush my teeth. How to wipe. My left hand is not competent at doing any of those things, so even if I go the whole day not using my right hand, I still can’t figure out how to not do those things.

Once the MRI results come back, we will decide how to proceed. Jeremy and I both think I need a hard cast to completely immobilize my hand. Knowing I need it and being happy about the prospect of being in a hard cast for the entire summer are two very different things. I am still holding on to my kayaking dreams for this year, but am coming face to face with the reality that I may not be able to paddle for many months to come.

ARGH. The heartache is nearly more than I can bear. I love being on the water, gliding across the lake or coasting down a river. It is close to the feeling I have cycling and the only outdoor activity my body can handle. So I am not giving it up yet. I am hoping and praying and dreaming of miraculous healing while at the same time trying to open my heart to accepting this new injury and the ramifications it is handing me.

Writing is what I miss most. I feel like part of my brain is gone because I can’t write anything down. I can’t take notes on the books I am reading or write in my bullet journal or attend a lecture and record what I am learning. It is painful to my writing-loving soul. An integral part of my life has been removed and while it may seem like a small thing, it feels huge to me. Writing with pen in hand is a very different experience for me than typing or speaking into an electronic device.

We are slowly figuring out how to function without mom’s right hand and my left hand is getting slightly more competent at household tasks. We will figure this out, I am sure. In the meantime, I will be sporting lots of ponytails and glasses.

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my hand is a mess

Apr 4, 2016 by

So my hand is hurt. Not a little hurt, really hurt. It has taken me some time to come to that realization, but this weekend I finally let the truth enter my mind.

At each of my put-my-hand-back-together appointments, Jeremy has told me it is a big, fat mess and is going to take months to heal. I heard his words, but kept thinking it couldn’t be THAT bad and we would just keep putting it back together for a few weeks and then it would be all better.

(I know. I know. I am delusional.)

At times the pain has been intense, at other times, just a throbbing ache. When it is a throbbing ache, I am able to convince myself that this is not a big deal and will be over soon. When it is a shooting pain that brings tears to my eyes, I seriously wonder if I will ever be able to use my hand again. Well, the past few days there has been a lot of the shooting, help-me-not-scream pain and it has got me remembering when my foot had 13 bones dislocated in February 2014. I read all of the posts about that injury and remembered the pain. Remembered the hopelessness. Remembered the sheer courage it took to get through that injury. Remembered how incredibly long it took for those bones to stay in place again.

And then I realized, this hand injury is just like that foot injury. It IS going to take a long time to heal. It might not ever be back to 100%. It is a big deal and I need to face that so I can muster up the courage and skills to give my hand the best shot at healing. It is time for daily BF&C applications, using my Patches essential oil, resting it as much as possible, and clinging to hope.

I really don’t know how to not use my hand. My wrist has been injured since October 30 and I had to start learning how to not use it back then, but this is far worse and I haven’t figured out how to adjust to its new needs. Maybe I need to put it in a sling? Maybe it needs a different type of brace? Maybe I need a new brain, haha!

There are moments when I nearly think amputation would be better than dealing with the pain. Then there are moments I think it isn’t really a big deal at all. I’m pretty sure somewhere in the middle would be the better choice.

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stem cells

Feb 28, 2016 by

I am chock-full of courage! It probably sounds ridiculous for me to be shouting about my courage from the rooftops, but I am so grateful to God for filling me with courage and so stinkin’ proud of myself for accepting His gift that I have to shout it far and wide.

The story starts over a year ago when I went to a medical clinic in Mexico with the hope of getting stem cell injections in my knee (and other joints as well, but especially my injured knee). At that time I was told my body wasn’t ready for injections and that my nervous system needed to calm down before they could do anything in the clinic. I came home with oral stem cells to help my nervous system and a lot of disappointment that my quick “miracle cure” (HAHA!) wasn’t going to happen.

I went back in April and my nervous system had calmed down a little, so after much pleading, the doctor consented to try one stem cell injection in my knee. The results were fabulous and within a few short weeks I was in significantly less pain and had more stability in my knee. But I still wasn’t able to receive the other treatments the clinic offers and came home somewhat disappointed.

This past week was once again spent in Mexico. Before I left I was a pile of convoluted emotions: so excited to go, hopeful that perhaps I could receive stem cell injections, terrified of the pain of the injections, and scared to allow myself to get my hopes up at all. The roller coaster ride of going back and forth from one emotion to another wore me out and I spent significant time meditating and praying for several days before I left to get centered on peace and truth. It took lots of courage to choose to get off the roller coaster and go deep inside to the messages God was trying to send me.

Then when I got to the clinic, I was told I could have an IV and if it went well and I didn’t have a seizure, we would do an injection in my knee. Oh my, the excitement! And also a bit of worry about the pain. Last year’s injection into my knee was excruciating and I didn’t know if I could face the pain again. I spent over four hours receiving the IV on a very slow, careful drip in an effort to be as gentle as possible to my nervous system and I used that time to pray and ask God to be with me and take the pain from me.

HE DID! He filled me with courage and He totally made the shot doable. It was a gazillion times better than last April’s injection. Many people were praying for me back in Idaho and I could feel the power of their faith carrying me.

Since my body did so well the first day, we planned more injections for the rest of the week. In addition to the initial shot in the knee capsule, I ended up having both ankles, right wrist, LCL, my hip labrum (twice!), and both shoulders injected with stem cells as well. Before each injection I would feel some fear of the pain come into my being and I would turn to God and plead for courage. Each time I could feel Him giving it to me. It was amazing!

Injections into joint capsules without local anesthetic is painful and the hours afterward are a sore, stiff, barely moving time. But I did it. God did it. He helped me show up with enough courage to get through each injection and to get up again the next day for another round. I could feel heavenly angels attending me and am so grateful for the earthly angels that were with me holding my hand.

Now, it is time to let the stem cells do their job and get to work repairing the torn cartilage and stretched-out ligaments. I am trying to hold my hope of real, tangible healing and dreams of riding my bike in one hand while in the other facing the long, slow rebuilding of tissue and eventually muscles. My doctor told me to take things one step at a time and trust the process. I am committed to doing just that.

My heart is full to bursting with the love of so many people and my Father above who carried me through this week. If you would like to join me in prayer that these stem cells will work in repairing my connective tissue, I would be so, so grateful!

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hip, hip, hooray, it’s four years today!

Feb 20, 2016 by

February 20 is the 4-year anniversary of my initial hip injury. I need to both honor and celebrate this day. My heart is SO full of gratitude for the heaps of service, love, sacrifice, and true friendship I have been blessed with over the past four years. You, my dear friends and family members, have carried me, filled me with courage, helped me see hope, and have stayed WITH me in this fight. You have not abandoned me. You have not given up. You have prayed and smiled and hugged and cried and laughed and loved more than I ever knew was possible. Your words of encouragement, acts of service, and downright awesomeness have made all the difference in my ability to keep going with a smile on my face. Thank YOU for helping me stay strong!

Please join in this celebration by doing these four things:

1. Share a hilarious/interesting/touching moment from this hip/ankle/shoulder/ribs/feet/knees/seizing/passing out/peeing journey.

2. Share something you have learned from this journey of mine.

3. Share a message of courage with me and all my friends!

4. Do something kind and loving for someone else today. It will make me SO happy to have hundreds of acts of kindness done in honor of my Hip, Hip, Hooray Party!

If you can’t do all four, choose your favorite…just share something to commemorate this day.

I love you all! Thank you for joining my celebration!

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farewell 2015

Dec 31, 2015 by

Today is the last day of 2015. Wowsers, it is hard to believe this year of growth and change and pain and joy is gone. We have all learned a lot about doing hard things, giving and receiving, finding hope, enduring, and most of all, deep-down-in-your-little-toes joy.

The biggest change for our family has been Blythe leaving on her mission. She started the process of filling out papers in January, submitted them in April, received her call on May 4th to the California Irvine Mission, received her endowment in August, entered the Missionary Training Center on September 16, and arrived in California on September 29th. What an experience it is to get a missionary out the door! So much time and money and effort and heartache and happiness and precious moments all wrapped up in the same package. The two days we were able to spend with her in the temple before she left are among the most sacred and glorious of my life. I will always treasure seeing her dressed in white as she made covenants with God. And now, 3 1/2 months after she walked out our door into her new life, all I feel is peace and radiant joy. It has been a huge blessing to have my whole being wrapped up in a blanket of God’s love as my baby girl has gone out into the world to share His message of love and redemption.

We have had so many blessings this year: medical treatments and tests, working vehicles (and rescuing when vehicles broke down!), spending time with family, Annesley’s baptism, our long, bumpy driveway covered in gravel, an unexpected change in Richard’s job that gave him the hours he needed, many, many angels both on earth and in heaven who have taken care of me while I have episodes, Keziah’s job, gifts from the heart, magical days at the lake, camping in my mountains, donations to Blythe’s mission fund, and most of all, love. Heaps and heaps of love have been poured out upon us. My heart is full to bursting with the love I am surrounded with.

There is much I didn’t accomplish this year. I didn’t lose weight. I didn’t grow muscles. I didn’t keep a spotless house. I didn’t find a cure for connective tissue disorders (I mean that somewhat seriously…my brain is continually trying to solve the issue of defective collagen.) I didn’t read as many books as I normally do. I didn’t put on a big fundraising event. I didn’t clean out my closet. I cancelled my book discussion group more than half the months of the year. I didn’t write the book I wanted to. I didn’t figure out how to cook on a regular basis. I didn’t figure out how to make our budget work to save more money. I didn’t excel at personal scripture study (or family study either!). I didn’t finish my chalkboard project…or the skateboard swing project. Or stain the deck. Or clean out the garage. Or clean out under the stairs. Or finish the clothing purging project. Or burn the garbage pile. Or remodel the camper. Or defrost the freezer. Or plant a flower. Or beautify my yard in any way. I didn’t create a fabulous training program for the Primary Music Leaders of my stake like I wanted to. I didn’t make it home to my mom’s house even once. I didn’t start a business to bring in more money. I didn’t clean out Blythe’s room. I didn’t blog about Swim Camp, our GRL camping trip, Blythe’s endowment, her farewell, or hundreds of other important and wonderful things that happened. I didn’t do a lot of things.

But I did learn more about love. I did learn more about sacrifice. I did learn more about receiving and giving. I did learn more about grace. I did grow to love my Savior more. I did enjoy lots of snuggles with my children. I did deepen my relationship with my husband. I did serve and love and give my heart more fully to the people who have needed me. I have missed my friends who have moved away fiercely and have learned that love is worth the pain of loss. I have learned, more fully, that the power of God is real. I have connected more fully with my ancestors. I have learned more about forgiveness. I have chosen kindness more often than anger. I have chosen to feel more and build walls less. Somehow, through the grace of God, I have made peace with my body and its challenges. We did spend many days kayaking at the lake. We did have lots of family game nights. We did read beautiful books together. We did spend seventeen days in the mountains. We did float the river in Island Park. We did attend our family reunion at our favorite location. We did have family pictures taken. We did get our daughter on a mission. We did throw a fabulous ice cream fest at our home before she left. We did pray together. We did laugh and we did cry. We lived, in spite of injuries and episodes and pain and heartache, we chose to live. With hope and faith, we lived. What an amazing year!

God has given me thousands of opportunities to learn needed character lessons and while I am certain He has much more to teach me and I have much more to learn, I am grateful for the lessons I have been given and received this year. I failed many times and I hope I learned from the failures to love and give and serve just as much as from the successes. There have been many days of sorrow and loneliness and hopelessness and fear and despair and He has been here with me, teaching me, comforting me, and helping me to choose love over all else.

There is a lot of pain and heartache in this world. Right now, among many of my dear friends and family, there is gut-wrenching, soul-splitting pain. I cannot solve the myriad of challenges they are facing. I have no magic wand to end the suffering being experienced by those I love. But I can take them into my heart and pray and listen and serve and lift. I am reading For The Love by Jen Hatmaker and it is a balm to my soul. In the introduction, she shares her mission. I wish I had written it, for it is my mission as well.

After a friend of hers asks her child what she does for a living and the child doesn’t really have a good answer and says, “Yeah, but she doesn’t have a job where knows about something. Jen decides to write down exactly what it is she spends her life doing.

Besides being obviously esteemed in my own home, maybe I ought to clarify what exactly I specialize in, since is appears very, very unclear to my own child. Certain foks love numbers and columns and reconciled accounts. (I barely even know what this means.) Some of my good friends love organizing and administrating; they are weirdly good at it. I have family members who excel at web design and creative technology and others who are craftsman and builders. Educators, chefs, sports medicine specialists, realtors; all people people in my circle who obviously know about something.

A little closer to my space, some of my girlfriends are true theologians and love the ins and outs of sticky hermeneutics. Others are preachers with fire in their bellies. Some are academics working on graduate degrees in God. Some are social entrepreneurs doing great good with their companies and organizations. Still others give their lives to justice in hard places. This is how they are gifted and this is what they love.

I love people.

It’s what I know.

God has always made the most sense to me through people, His image bearers. I crave dignity and healing and purpose and freedom for me and mine, you and yours, them and theirs. I want us to live well and love well. The substance of life isn’t stuff or success or work or accomplishments or possessions. It really isn’t, although we devote enormous energy to those goals. The fullest parts of my life, the best memories, the most satisfying pieces of my story have always involved people. Conversely, nothing hurts worse or steals more joy than broken relationships. We can heal and hurt each other, and we do.

I’m hoping to help lead a tribe that does more healing and less hurting.

I consider that my job.

Oh my, isn’t that breathtakingly beautiful? I love her words and my goal for 2016 is to more fully live them – to heal more and hurt less.

We can do this. Will you join me?

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