Trust

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T – Truthful

R- Reliable

U- Uphold

S- Steadfast

T- Take For Granted

 

This has been a week where I have been put in the position of feet to the flames in regards to trust.  I have been in a situation where I have had to CHOOSE to believe or not. A test for my soul, my heart, and my head.

You would think that trusting would be easy. After all, we enter this world as trusting human beings and if we are lucky we maintain that trust in ourselves and humanity at least until we get into school and we find out what “mean girls” are. But then, as we age, life begins to teach us that trust is not as easy or forthright as we once imagined it to be. It no longer is blind or innocent and often for many of us it becomes something that has to be earned rather than something that is freely given.

This week as I contemplated the issue of trust I decided I needed to understand just what that word meant to me. I discovered there were some essential ingredients that I feel must be evident if trust is to be maintained.  These are:

Truth- For me trusting means that your words and actions must be truthful. NO games, no secrecy, and no purposeful omissions. I want to know that what you say and do is based in truth.

Reliable- I must know that I can count on your words and actions to mean what you say they will mean and that those words will be acted upon and be done.

Uphold-In the old English sense of the word it means to maintain in good condition;to take care of.  It means that you will be constantly doing things to take care of our marriage. To me this fundamental if a relationship is to grow and thrive.

Steadfast- Unwavering in purpose, faith and attachment. Firmly fixed in place or position. You are not going anywhere.

Take for Granted- To accept without question and being able to believe what is said or done is true.

I suspect there is a whole lot more to trust than the things I have written and I know that trust is not just a one way street. Trust also involves making yourself vulnerable by believing in your partner when circumstances appear that it would be in your best interest to protect yourself. It means opening up your own heart, taking off the armor, and allowing possibilities to drift into your life when it makes you uncomfortable. It means looking for the best in the person or situation rather than the worst.

In theory, I believe that trusting with all your heart and soul is the best thing you can do for yourself and your relationships.  I would rather have my heart broken than to never have tried to trust.  But in practice, trust takes two, and you have to know that your partner is trustworthy in all realms of your relationship in order for it to survive.

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Storms and Baggage

I wait in the shallows

Like a fish hooked to a line

Splashing frantically

Mistaking love for oxygen

Your words driving me backwards

As you release the hook

That has pierced my lip

And held me still for so long

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Like a gale churning and throwing

Our life far, far away from

All we knew

I am here

You are there

Yet, your words

And sometimes the lack of them

Take me under

Scraping the sandy bottom

Of what our relationship used to be

I think I can no longer be with you

Because you do not know who you are

And in not knowing

You drag me down to skin and bones

Clinging to life, yet lifeless

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I am a soul who still wants to dance

Unafraid of your pronouncements

Of whether that movement

Is good or evil

I want to feel the wind for myself

Let life wash over me again

Unhampered by your sea walls

Meant to keep the shoreline in place

I have done the work

I was meant to do

Have you?

For now I wish

To let the unknown be born

Let the necessary changes occur

Which will free us both

As we are no longer one

We are now separated by a quay

Of hurts larger than the boulders

Which have created it

I want to find wisdom

In how I am living

In what I am feeling and doing

Touching and tasting

No longer content to munch on stale bread

I want the life force

Of action and touch

I want to look outwards

Not back towards your shadow

Which tries to hold on to mine

Refusing to free it

But now…finally

I’m throwing my baggage to the sea

So once again I can be me

Do not try to retrieve it

There is nothing new there for you

All it contains is what

You already rejected

Time and time again

No, let that baggage float out to sea

While I go pack again

With those things that are

Meaningful just to me

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372 DAYS TO FIX THIS

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When I began this blog it was with the intention of blogging everyday for 365 days as I fought to keep my marriage intact. I didn’t because life got in the way. A lot. Life has a tendency to do that when you have a husband, 5 children, a dog and 3 grandchildren.

I purposely decided not to blog about reaching 365 days on the one year anniversary of B telling me how unhappy he was in our marriage and that he might want a divorce. I didn’t want to “celebrate” much less acknowledge one of the most agonizing days of my life. That day, one year ago, was a full of intense pain, enough tears to officially end the drought and it lead to months of increased struggle, anger, and hurt. The “I Think I Might Want A Divorce Day” brought me to my knees and my life changed at that instant. Thirty years of togetherness, memories, marriage and great sex were on the verge of disappearing in a blink of an eye. I am not sure why but on that day I asked B to give it 365 days to fix our broken relationship and with it a blog was born. Six hours later he left for a week to take the boys to scout camp.

Frankly, it was never my intention to spill my guts the way I have; nor allow my anger and dismay to swallow me whole with witnesses along to pick their way through my mess. But I did and it did. I am not really sure what I expected when I started writing but the rawness of some of my early posts bring me back down to earth with a thud. Divorce was for other people. Not me. Damn it.

There are many things that have happened this year that have stretched and surprised me. The major one was that at some point in the past year B and I reversed roles and I decided I wanted a divorce but to my surprise he didn’t. That was an awakening and hurt almost as much as when he said he might want one. Frankly, I didn’t know quite what to do with that. But we both know that with three kids in the house, two of them with autism and other issues that impact our marriage in a big way; that divorce would be akin to picking up tiny pieces of a huge pane of shattered glass and that someone would get cut. Deeply.

I wish I could say I handled all of this with grace. I didn’t. I did however get a therapist whose help has been invaluable. She has taught me to be mindful. To sit with things and let them brew without my influence. We have also been going to joint counseling and B now has his own counselor too so that he can learn to express himself rather than keep things bottled up inside for years.  But the best thing we did was attend a Marriage Encounter weekend. It is what has started us down the path towards healing, understanding and really listening to one another. I am not sure that had we not attended that my blog would count off 372 days. Really, it made that big of a difference. We just had to be open to it even though we are not Catholic and the things were heard were nothing more than what we would have heard at any religious gathering. I urge any of you who are struggling in your marriage to at least consider attending.

The changes I have made over this past year have been accomplished through a lot of hard work and perseverance . At times I have taken one step forward and two steps back. Those steps have been humbling, courageous, and have often felt like I had a huge splinter in my shoe while I was taking them. I have had to do a lot of changing. I used to try and live my life with a guarantee arm-wrestled from others…an impossible task. I try not to do that anymore. The biggest thing I have accomplished to date is that I have stopped yelling. That was a major victory and has changed our family for the better in so many ways. I am now working on trying to remove a sense of harshness from my voice and it is a challenge to say the least.

I have implemented many new ways of doing things and new ways of considering how to occupy my place in the world. This is what I have done that has been helpful for me:

  1. I listen to the Meditation Minis podcast by Chel Hamilton. It’s free and it is only 10 minutes a day. Those 10 minutes have allowed me to decrease the negativity I has feeling in my body and mind and replace it with acceptance and positivity.
  2. Thanks to my therapist I now have a Place Of Mysteries. This is a place in which I put on a shelf things I do not have enough information about so I do not carry them around with me. I then examine them when I have more facts so that I can make intelligent decisions.
  3. I am working really hard on not saying things the moment I think them. I now try to let my thoughts gels before spouting them.
  4. I try to look for the good instead of the negative
  5. I make a conscious choice all day long to CHOOSE LOVE. When things irritate me I CHOOSE LOVE and try to act accordingly.
  6. I try to give the benefit of the doubt to the positive attributes I know that B has instead of jumping to conclusions.
  7. I try not to TIME TRAVEL to the future and the past. Instead, I try to stay in the present collecting the golden nuggets of life that are in the here and now.
  8. I try to think rather than just react and ask for time to do so when more time is needed.
  9. I get more sleep realizing that there is always tomorrow to get things done.
  10. I keep a sex calendar which serves as a gentle reminder that too much time has slipped away since our last loving encounter.
  11. I work on being mindful of what is going on around me and within me. I have slowed down to really think about the ramifications and unintended consequences of what I am doing.
  12. We dialogue every night in the way we learned to do at Marriage Encounter. This has allowed us both to learn more about what the other is feeling and gives us a loving perspective in which to view our mate and his/her actions. Dialoging gives us the time to ask questions and clarify, not just assume what is meant by words/actions.
  13. I have lost weight but not for him. It is for me only and it shows.
  14. I am learning to just sit with things and not try to force a desired outcome.
  15. I am trying to learn to do things with joy in my heart while doing them. After all, the house does need to be cleaned so why not do it with joy instead of resentment?
  16. We try to have a date night every week or so. Time spent with each other without the interruptions of family life has allowed us to look at each other as individuals with unique feelings instead of as just Mom and Dad.
  17. We have a GRATEFUL log that we keep to remind us of all the wonderful things the other has done for us and is useful to pick-up and read when things are a little bit off.
  18. Whenever I feel like I am getting “hooked” I try to take a pause and relax.
  19. I have come to realize that life is not static. We are fluid beings and as such things will change. I don’t have to stay “stuck” in a particular way of acting or doing things especially when it is causing me or my loved ones harm. I am sowing seeds everyday that will blossom as suffering or joy depending on how I plant them and care for them. I try to keep this in mind as I interact with others.

So a year as come and gone. A year in which I did not get divorced or separated although we came close. A year in which we both worked hard to improve ourselves and our marriage. It has been a lonely year that has been frightening yet also enlightening. We have had to expose our own vulnerabilities as we have attempted to open up to one another in very deep and personal ways. And as painful as it has been I am grateful for it because I have become a better person, a better partner, and a better mother because of it. I have grown and become a better me. A person I am proud of and a person who is more comfortable in her own skin. And I have a marriage that is better than I believed would ever be possible. Does this mean that in 365 days I was able to “fix this”? Heck no. Does this mean I have a perfect relationship? No. Does this mean we will be together forever? I think the opportunity for that has increased tremendously but I no longer try to look for guarantees because there really are none for this type of thing.

What I do know for sure is that once again B is at camp for the week and this time when he left my heart was filled and my brain was quite. For this time around, I have a confidence in myself  and a belief that together we can conquer those things that are holding us back. Things may not be perfect but they are getting better everyday and that is really all you can hope/work for. But perhaps the most important thing is that I am happy, really happy, and sometimes even joyful. I am becoming who I want to be as I enter into my mid 50’s and discover what it is that is really important to me and what I can leave behind.

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So thank you for sharing this journey with me. I am sure there have been times you have wanted to kick me in the ass. I am sure there are times where you would have liked to have screamed “WAKE UP.”  But believe me I have felt your loving arms wrap around me and hold me close when there was no one around to do so. And for that I will be eternally grateful!

 

Departing Wisdom

Running-Late

Recently I saw a sign which read: WHEN ANGER ENTERS, WISDOM DEPARTS. These words touched my heart as well as the profound which rests in my soul. I felt as I read this simple truth that the words were meant for me alone and that they were there because I needed that gentle reminder.

This summer has been hectic what with sports practice five days a week, my volunteer work and with my chauffeuring  kids to college and high school summer school. The reason for my increasing anxiety over the summer is a very tight schedule in which pick up and delivery had to be perfectly timed. Frankly, I don’t do being late well. For whatever reason since I was a little kid it was hardwired into my brain that you are not late. EVER. And I have lived by that rule my entire life. Except once. That was the time I was 5 minutes late and it haunted me for days.

“If you are late it shows a complete disregard for others and that you think that your time is more important than theirs. Your time is no more or less important than any one else’s. Don’t forget that!” admonished my father throughout my growing up years.

And so I have a heightened sense of anxiety if I have the slightest inkling that I (or anyone I am responsible for) will be late.

The lengths to which I go to ensure that I am never late come with a price…my sanity. I am three hours early before taking an airline flight. I am 30 minutes early for my Gracie’s orchestra performance. I am early enough to get my choice of premium parking spaces and my favorite pew at church. I get the best seats at the movie theater and I am always the person who is waiting for their friend to show up for coffee. Anyone who knows me knows that if I am 10 minutes late that means I am probably stone-cold dead.

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And so with back-to-back obligations this summer it is hardly surprising that I found it difficult to just stay calm. Unfortunately, as my anxiety rose it often turned to anger. This is not to say that I yelled…I didn’t…but irritation crept into my voice way too often and words came out of my mouth that that are not meant to be heard by a child. Thoughts of shooting the bird to that 85 year old woman driving at a speed of 10 miles per hour entered my mind on way too many occasions. And as my anxiety/anger increased I became distracted and I once almost mowed down a kid on a bike doing stupid tricks in the street to impress his buddies.

As I reviewed my actions during these dog days of summer  it became apparent to me that in those moments of high anxiety and anger; my wisdom did indeed depart because:

I said thoughtless things.

I thought evil thoughts.

I showed my children a side of me that they do not want to see.

And I disregarded my own health by letting stress take minutes off my life multiple times a week.

So in an attempt to increase my sanity I made a change. I now have the saying WHEN ANGER ENTERS, WISDOM DEPARTS taped to my dashboard. I find it comforting. And now as I drive along and the tension starts mounting, I just look down to give myself a gentle and loving reminder that wisdom in all aspects of my life are important if I am to become all that I am meant to be.

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Life’s Necessities

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I’ve had people tell me that I have had a very different and an interesting/amazing life. I would have to agree.  But how does one create a life that is interesting and  worth living? That is something I have contemplated for a while now. While I am not close to figuring it all out, I do think that there are some universal components that help to craft a life worth living, these being:

  1. Be daring. Believe in yourself and take chances as you move through life. No one ever got anywhere by sitting in a recliner. You have to “Just DO It” enough to make it seem routine so you don’t scare yourself silly.
  2. Help others.Until you have done for others you really have not done for yourself. Everyone needs to experience the gift of giving of yourself freely in order to know what is needed for your soul and the souls of those around you. So many important lessons come out of helping those who need it but mostly it allows you to discover who you want to be and how you want to live your life in a way that is meaningful to you.
  3. Practice your skills. Everyone has things that come naturally to them or something that they enjoy doing. You cannot create your masterpiece without practicing all the components that go into it. Just as Michelangelo did not create the Sistine Chapel by doing a single paint-by-number canvas, you cannot do your best without first examining and putting into action those things that are important to you and practicing the skills that it takes to enhance and complete the task. There is a reason for the saying, “Practice makes perfect.”
  4.  Be adventurous. Without the planning, excitement, and the sense of accomplishment that comes from stretching your wings while creating your own adventures, you might as well be moving through life as if in a big bowl of jello.  As dynamic human beings we are not meant to stagnate so exploits are an important part of the game.  Adventure = expansion and growth both of which are the spice of life.
  5. Spend time working on meaningful projects. In the early part of our marriage we spent three years of weekends traveling 4 hours one way to a house that we were building. It was when we ran out of projects and the sense that “we” were accomplishing something together that our marriage began to fall apart. We all need to feel a sense of accomplishment for a job well done that has occupied our thoughts and moments for an extended period of time. That feeling of having a task to do and completing it to the best of our ability is what boosts our confidence and instills in us the belief that we can take on whatever is thrown our way.
  6. Be reverent. Seek opportunities to be in awe of something greater than yourself. For some that is being with God and for others it is communing with nature while hiking. Find those things that take your breathe away and then find a way to make them a more regular part of your life.
  7. Love deeply, purely, and like there is no tomorrow…because there may not be.
  8. Get rid of the vices whether they be excess food, alcohol or drugs. If we take ourselves to places that make it difficult to do the things we must or the things we want to do; then we are harming and cheating ourselves of all that we have been given. Intentionally harming ourselves is idiotic not just because we hurt ourselves but more importantly because we are often hurting others.
  9. Never stop seeking knowledge for it is the key to life. It creates, it destroys and it allows you to achieve beyond your wildest dreams. If you aren’t learning several new things a day then you are not living fully in a way that is beneficial to yourself and humankind because lifelong learning is what makes us human.

 

Looking For The Good-Positive Post #2

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The other night B and I were out taking our usual late night walk. It was a beautiful evening, cool and crisp, for this area of the country. The moon shone bright and the stars were singing the Twinkle song. Everything was perfect…except… where was the sparkle between us?

About mid-way through this jaunt we stepped into a quiet and very dark place where I told B, “I think that instead of concentrating on all the characteristics I don’t possess or all the things you feel are missing from this relationship, perhaps it would make us happier if we both looked for the good in one another.”

“That’s funny,” replied B. “That is exactly what my therapist said tonight and she gave me some homework to do in this area.”

Instantly we reached for each others hand, reemerged, and continued walking along.  Immediately I got that sense that both of us realized that by looking for the best in each other, instead of the worst, things felt immediately different. Better. For while you are in the dark there is nothing to see, but when you change perspective and step into the moonlight, the sparkle returns, and you can begin to be able to shine once more.

What Is Happiness?

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Lately I have been thinking a lot about happiness…as in… what is it really, how do we get it and most importantly how do we hold on to it?

Sometimes I know what happiness is. It is a warm cuddle with a baby who looks at you, eyes wide, and smiles so broad you wonder how it is contained on such a small face. It is laying my head on my husband’s chest and feeling its rhythmic rise and fall and with it the feeling that everything will fine in all that we have created. It is writing the ‘perfect’ piece in which you feel you have gotten your point across and a bit of your own humanity as well.

But, I wonder, is happiness suppose to be this fleeting…small moments in time that when added together don’t account for all that much? And what is the difference between being content or feeling joy? Is joy just happiness on steroids and is contentment just joy three times removed? Or is happiness just a deep appreciation for a moment felt whether it lasts three seconds or five minutes? And the big question… how do I feel more of all of these positive feelings and hold them in my hand like pearls savoring their smoothness, shape, color and beauty?

I once had a friend named John who swore he never had a bad day. His secret, he told me, was that he would get up in the morning, look in the mirror and say out loud, “John, you are going to have a great day!” And according to him he always did. For John, a “great day” was simply a state of mind, a place that his mind took him to and stayed with him there as the hours counted down from midnight and back.

I’m not sure what happiness really is but I know I would like to experience more of it and expand that feeling for a longer period of time when I do happen upon it. I would like to find more of that “elusive state of mind” that allows happiness to be seen easily and enjoyed fully. And finally, I would like to one day be able to define for myself and others exactly what it is because until I can answer question I suspect that it will remain a random feeling instead of a large part of my everyday life.

So here’s to happiness…may it find us all easily and may we chose to see it when it arrives.

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Trying To Find Our New Roles In Life

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Throughout our lives we have roles we take on. Some have been forced upon us and some we take on willingly. Many of these roles we discard as time goes by, some we reinvent in a slightly different form, while some we seem to keep until the day we die. Somehow the latter seem to be the ones that we like the least and yet we retain them the longest.

This weekend was difficult for us. I think that when you are over 50 and going through a “maybe divorce” that one of the biggest issues is the discarding of roles and the discovery of new slots out of which you are now going to behave. After operating from one set of expectations for thirty years it is difficult to recognize and accept new patterns of doing things and unfamiliar ways of thinking. Years of acting one way are difficult to channel into something else and difficult for “the other” to accept.

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I know that in your 50’s it is suppose to be a time of gains. Money, richer relationships, second homes, etc. For me, it feels like a time of discarding stuff including those parts of myself I no longer need or wish to operate from. As I take out this “stuff” I am forced to really look at it and contemplate whether it is of value to me anymore. As a result, I am feeling lighter and freer than I ever have before. But that doesn’t mean it is easy especially for the other person involved. Honesty, in the form of being true to myself, has moved to the forefront of my life which at times hurts B. And while I dislike seeing B feeling uncomfortable and knowing that I have caused his discomfort; at this point in my life I am not sure that I care anymore as long as I know that the truth of who I am…who he is…will make things better in the long run. But what exactly is BETTER? What does that mean?

I guess I won’t know the definition of BETTER until we reach the end of whatever all this is. And I’m okay with that because either way whatever changes I have made I suspect will have led me to a more authentic me.

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And this relationship? It will either be or it won’t but in the end I will be all that I have envisioned and right now that is what feels important.

Shine Like The Sun…286 Days To Fix This

Today I want to shine like the sun

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My shadow lightly parting the clouds

Providing guidance and love to those who are experiencing darkness

Today I want to hang on the moon

Dipping dangerously towards a gravity-free way of life

My spirit untethered and with no restrictions

Today I want to dance without shame

To move and groove unencumbered by others expectations

Turning off my mind and letting my body move to its own rhythm

Today I want to say “FUCK YOU”

To anyone who tries to put me in my place

And tells me I can’t be happy, smart and beautiful in my own way

Today I want to ride the rapids of life

Challenging myself to steer my own boat

Away from the gullies and those that may try to pull me under

Today I want to lie naked in the sand

My body coming alive under the sweet whisper of the wind and spray of the sea

Remaining in the moment, unaware of those watching and who may disapprove

Today I want to be everything I am meant to be

A 100% true original

I want to dwell in the depths of my soul

I want to embrace my spirit

And be cognizant of all that I am and can be

Today I want to be ME.

Transracial Adoption And Old Age

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Our three youngest are transracially adopted. This makes for good times and bad times especially when in concerns being out in public together.

When our children were young we saw a lot of what we now refer to as “ping-pong” eyes. As I was pushing the stroller someone would look at me, then down at the baby, then back at me and back down at the baby with a quizzical look on their face.

We often get the “are you their mother/is she your mother” type of questions. When we’ve had enough I sometimes reply, “No, I’m their Nanny.” Cracks my kids up every time.

Today Gracie and I were at Target when we noticed a young Asian girl about ten years of age staring at us…BLANTENTLY AND FOR A PROLONGED PERIOD OF TIME.

Gracie said, “I just want to smack people when they stare at me like that.”

” I know it is uncomfortable to be seen with a slightly overweight middle-aged white woman, I replied with a laugh. “Maybe she was just thinking you are a pretty girl,” I replied trying to lighten the mood and knowing full well that was not the case.

“No she was staring at me because I look different from you,” Gracie said.

“Well, you are probably right but since her family is Asian, and you’re Asian, maybe she hasn’t seen a combination like ours before. Cut her some slack. Or did you ever consider that maybe she was staring at me because I am a beautiful woman?” I said switching tactics.” You know when I was younger people did look at me once in a while.”

“Why, were you wearing funny clothes?” Gracie asked.

“Did your hair look weird?”

“Were you wearing hippie earrings?”

“Were you smoking cigarettes?”

“No, honey, its just that I wasn’t hard on the eyes,” I said with a smile.

To which Gracie replied, “so what happened?” (stab me with an icepick again my sweet child)

“Life, baby, just life”

“So are you telling me that it is all downhill for me? Is that what you are saying? That all I have to look forward to in life is growing up, growing old and getting (sorry mom) out of shape?” (yep, she did it again)

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“No baby. You can look forward to getting wiser, becoming stronger, being bolder, forging your own path, finding yourself, doing what makes you happy, learning to be true to yourself, falling in love, learning about what real love is, teaching your children, teaching your grandchildren, learning to look at the world and realizing it is not just black and white, practicing tolerance, having great sex with your partner, making a difference in this world is some small way, finding your spirit,practicing perseverance, learning to be content with what you have, following your dreams, laughing in the face of adversity, being more honest, and loving, loving and loving some more even when you are not sure you have it in you. And if you are lucky you will get to discover all of this and participate in some much that you hadn’t even considered. And you will appreciate and be grateful for this life that you have been given which so many people are denied. Hopefully, you will live your life to the best of your ability and when you will die secure in the knowledge that you made a difference. Yes, it’s all something you have to look forward to, everything except saggy boobs, you don’t have to look forward to that.”

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