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Cheering for Brainy Beauties~

Gator_Cheerleaders
UF Cheerleaders     Picture credit: Norwalk James

 

Seeing a story on our news this morning about some pretty cheerleaders who both love and excel at science, made me smile, but it also brought back some not so pleasant childhood memories.

This cheerleading group has a website called,  Science Cheerleaders,  with all of the details of  their individual stories and shows what they are doing both on and off of the football field.

Besides being involved in science at school and in their jobs, this group also makes public appearances in their communities, showing other girls that they can do the exact same thing that they do.

They are beautiful and they are very smart, and this is a positive thing.

As a child and then again as a teenager, I and many others who had the good fortune, or misfortune, of being born blonde, were too often referred to as ” dumb blondes.”

The public and film personifications of Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe only cemented this thinking.

In my entire life, I could never understand how the color of your hair could affect the level of your intelligence.

I learned that I was not dumb quite early in my education, as my IQ was constantly referred to by teachers when they did not believe that I was trying hard enough.

Their remarks were both a source of embarrassment and humiliation.

As for the comments on the color of my hair, sometimes it was whispered, other times it was said as a jeer or a slur, but always it was the same, hurtful and cruel words, dumb blonde.”

My love of science began early in elementary school.

Could it have been the influence of my first science teacher Mr. Monroe, who made the subject both exciting and interesting?

I can still remember a teacher showing my mother the results from my  ” Kuder Preference Test. “

She seemed astonished when she said to her,

” she scored  2% on everything except one subject,  science and her score in it was 98%.”

Seeing these beautiful and brilliant high achievers who will be leading the cheers at today’s Super Bowl, was almost like a sweet vindication for me and all the others long ago, who endured years of insults because we had the misfortune of being pretty and liking science.

I admire and am extremely proud of these young women for the fields that they have chosen and the years of hard work behind them and also ahead of them.

Thankfully, it is a different world today and young girls and women are no longer treated as freaks for loving science, they are now, finally being admired for it.

Yes, I will being watching them with pride today and you can believe that I will be cheering for these brainy beauties~

 

Places to learn more:

Science Cheerleaders

Super Bowl cheerleaders pitch something really sexy: Ph.D.s

Will this cheerleader be the smartest person at the Super Bowl

 

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Keeping Them All Safe

Autism_spectrum_infinity_awareness
The Autism infinity symbol        Picture  credit:  Eric…

 

There have been so many stories on our news recently about people and children wandering away from their families and home, I felt obliged to write about them.

For years after moving here, I often was alarmed by the numbers of elderly persons we saw here in various stages of Dementia or even Alzheimer’s, who are still driving and out on our roads.

What are their families, their doctors and the state of Florida’s DMV thinking?

These people need to be off of the roads, before they kill themselves and/or others.

They are not safe to drive.

They are also not safe to be left alone in their homes without any supervision.

The story today was about an autistic young man who had recently done this and his mother Donna chose to bring his/their story to the press in the hopes that others might be learn from it and also be helped.

She makes some really important points, especially about the fact that drowning is frequently the primary cause of death in a wandering autistic person.

Donna can also expect to be engaged in a battle,  at least here in Florida, where our politicians are still dragging their feet to allow extremely ill children to have access to the already approved medical marijuana, under the Charlotte’s web provision.

This mother wants to speed up the political process (bill) now being considered for an electronic tracker that will locate him quickly, if and when he does wander away again.

My thinking as a former Rehab and Geriatric Nurse, as well as the mother of a physically challenged son, is that there are others with challenges who should also have access to some sort of tracker, not just autistic children.

Here in our own neighborhood, an elderly man wandered away from his home weeks ago and still has not been found.

Quite often, patients in Nursing and other types of care facilities, walk right out the doors, often, with no one even noticing.

Thankfully, most of them are found before they are harmed.

But if they had a tracker on, this would protect them and save the caregivers at the facilities hours of searching for them.

The tendency to wander away is quite strong in those with Dementia, Alzheimer’s and other affective disorders, especially those with Autism.

So as this bill is being reviewed, in my opinion, it must absolutely cover and include providing tracking devices to all who need and will benefit from them.

Those who care for persons with emotional and/or mental or physical challenges, are often suffering in silence and forgotten about.

This is a terrible tragedy in our society.

Being a caregiver can and does drain these people to the point in some instances, of doing unspeakable things, even murder.

Unless and until you have been in their shoes, you may never understand the despair, the fear, the grief, the hopelessness and the guilt that they deal with on a daily basis.

So, if there is even one thing that we, their families, friends, co-workers, care givers or government representatives can do to alleviate any of it, we should do it without a single moment of hesitation.

Special children and adults are part of our Global family, they belong to all of us.

We need to, we must do, everything that we can, to keep them ALL safe.

 

Places to learn more:

New bill proposes voluntary program to monitor those with autism, other conditions

Senator Calls On Feds To Address Autism Wandering

What’s Different About The Brains Of People With Autism?

Autism

Dementia

Alzheimers

Marijuana stops child’s severe seizures

 

 

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Sí, se puede!

Habana_P3

Beautiful Havana, the capital of Cuba
Picture credit: Vgenecr

 

In a move that I believed would never happen in my lifetime, resuming relations with a tiny country just 90 miles offshore from Florida, the President of this Country, has just changed the political status of our two countries once again.

The Island Nation of Cuba has until today, been rejected, cut off and shunned by us for more than 50 years.

This has always struck me as two-faced, as we have had, although frosty at times, relations with other Communist Countries, like China, Russia and Viet Nam  for many years and this seemed  a pretty cold-hearted way to treat this once much admired and loved Island Nation just to our South.

In our efforts to punish the Castro Regime, we ended up instead, mostly hurting only the people.

Yes, there will still be problems, diplomatic and political issues to be worked out, but with this new thinking, the thousands of Cubans who already live here, may soon be able to finally go home and see family that they had lost all hope of ever seeing again.

The fact that we should be willing to treat Cuba as well as we do the others, was so long in coming for some fairly ugly reasons, they did not, as do the others  we have kept relations with, have anything that we want.

We tend to only ” forgive” those who have a product or “other”  that we can use to our benefit.

As for this day, today people were exchanged, secrets were kept secret and assurances may have been made.

Will this be the first step in Global efforts to embrace our differences with the other smaller nations who like Cuba,  offer us little more than trade benefits?

Hopefully other big Nations will begin to think about the Humanitarian reasons to also engage.

As President Obama said today, none of the reasons for cutting our ties with Cuba have had either much impact, or truly changed the situation.

America’s total and complete embargo of Cuba, failed to achieve the desired results.

So, millions have suffered for more than fifty years, for little more than pride and vanity on both sides.

The Castro Regime and the Americans at the helm here, both dug in their heels and innocent people on both shores have suffered.

Each and every week here in Florida, boats are washed ashore with those who risk all, just for the chance to either be free, or to rejoin other family members here.

Historically, the impact of Cuban people here in America is legendary.

They have representation in every imaginable aspect of our Culture from the arts, in  film, and music, and especially in sports, they are extremely well represented in all professions and every corner of our American society.

They are also quite well represented in our political forums and as with all who come here, the great joys of political freedom, also comes with tinges of pain, when thinking of those that are left behind.

Now, on this day, President Obama, working with many others including the Government of Cuba, has changed all of this.

For the people from Cuba, more than fifty long and painful years will hopefully soon come to an end and Cubans can rejoice with those of us who have friends and family from the Cuban Nation.

It is looking good just now because starting today, we will renew a friendship that has been painfully put on hold.

Once again America and Cuba can be allies for their people with a potential prospect for Peace.

Let freedom ring.

I for one, am thrilled at the imminent good things yet to come.

Yes, we can,  America and Cuba,  Sí, se puede!

 

Places to learn more:

Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba

Cuba releases American Alan Gross, paves way for historic easing of American sanctions

President Obama’s statement on Cuba policy change

Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba

 

 

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Can You See My Pain?

schizophrenia
How the world feels like with schizophrenia
Picture credit: Craig Finn

 

Watching the horrific story unfolding yesterday at FSU brought back memories, that I was sure had long ago been sent to an unretrievable place in my mind.

The young man who opened fire at the College Library had recently done some, according to neighbors, out of character, or extremely odd things, giving those near to him an insight, a clue as to what was coming.

But that only would have helped them help him, if they had been aware of the signs, or signals, that predict, or point to violent behavior.

If you have been here for a while, you know that many years ago, I was treatment Nurse in a California Rehab Center for four years.

It was the most rewarding, most fulfilling time of my life.

During those four years, some  of the 125 patients at the facility became close to me.

One in particular was especially dear and we had many memorable conversations.

This young man was a college student who had attempted to take his own life,  by jumping off of  the roof of a building at  the same school that my three children and I were attending at the time.

Although his effort to end his life failed, he was ultimately hospitalized and became one of my patients.

Over time, this sweet, soft-spoken boy/man learned to trust me and opened his heart and thoughts to me.

Some of the things that he said, were never really confirmed, Google and computers would be years away.

So, I had no real way to prove, or disprove, the explanations he gave for his past behavior that he shared with me.

On several occasions, he told me that the greatest time of risk for mental breakdowns, at least he believed for males, was during late puberty, around the ages of 18-20, which is when it happened to him.

He also said that those with higher IQ’s, who were under great pressure in College or other, with  little or no strong family support to absorb some of it,  were usually the most at risk.

The powerful surge of hormones, during this period of time, he explained could cause those with a propensity for mental, or emotional trouble,  to  ” go over the edge,” as he did.

I listened to him every day, telling his stories and sharing his thoughts, with no clue as to what was to come.

He seemed fairly well-adjusted to the facility at the time and seemed to function well and interact with others.

I had no way of knowing that what I saw was an act.

He was not truly adjusting to the environment and was apparently still extremely unhappy.

This sweet young man finally succeeded at ending his life.

I came in to work one morning and the reaction of the other staff, was the giveaway that something terrible had happened.

The Charge Nurse came to me and consoled me about what he had done.

Overnight, he, like Robin Williams had recently apparently done, hung himself with his belt.

I was completely overcome with grief because I felt guilty.

I had been close to him and failed to see what was going on.

To this day, I have never forgotten him or what he did..

Seeing the young man yesterday and what happened to him brought it all rushing back.

This young man who went on a shooting Rampage at FSU yesterday,  like my patient so long ago, apparently had much of the same conditions in his life as well.

Many of these shootings, or what appear to be random killings, are not being done by hardened, career, or violent criminals in  recent years.

Consider the Sandy Hook shootings.

They are being committed by troubled souls many of whom come from what seems to be good families without any financial troubles.

For me, one thing that they all seem to have in common, is that they needed to get to someone and they frequently do attempt to reach out, but in most cases,  too late.

If there is any lesson in these tragic stories that just keep repeating, it is that if we, that is you and me, don’t get involved when a little alarm or bell goes off in our heads, we must bear at least some part of the blame for what they ultimately do to themselves and others, for not speaking up,  or acting on it.

When my particular young man was sharing and baring his soul to me, I was quite new to the environment of a Mental Health Facility.

I spent the entire time in a room and they were brought to me for their treatments.

I was not expected to be involved in any other part of their care.

Had I had years of training, hopefully I would have picked up better on any clues that he may have been sharing with me and possibly have intervened or stopped him.

I will never really never  know if I could have or not.

But, what I do know,  is that he is always right here in my heart and I wish I could have done more.

Like the young man yesterday at FSU, I wish that someone could have reached him somehow and helped him.

Today, as you go through your normal daily routine, will you think of these young men and all of the others like them?

Every day, someone, somewhere, is asking for help and no one hears them.

They could be a neighbor,  a co-worker, a relative, a friend, or just an ordinary person that we see everyday and if you look into their eyes, perhaps you may see a clue.

I truly believe that they want us to know that they need help, but don’t always know how to say it, or ask for it.

We must all try to be better listeners.

They are speaking to us and asking:

Can you see my pain?

 

Places to learn more:

Reports on FSU Shooter Describe Sudden Mental Deterioration, No History of Violence

Gunman at Florida State Spoke of Being Watched 

Police: Gunman killed after shooting at FS

Officials reveal details about FSU gunman

Shooter was FSU grad, ex-prosecutor ‘in crisis’

Schizophrenia – Wikipedia

 

 

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Caught Up in Charlotte’s Web

Cannabis_sativa_(Köhler)
Medical Marijuana or Cannabis
Picture: Public Domain

 

On our local news today was a story about this controversial treatment for those with severe illnesses.

The term  Charlotte’s Web was named after Charlotte Figi who has long suffered with multiple seizures and has revolutionized the thinking on the drug.

It has been around since 1996 in California and it was nearly passed here a week or so ago, losing by only a very narrow margin, by voters, who likely had little, or perhaps no idea, of the millions who could be helped by it.

Medical Marijuana or Medical Cannabis, as it is called, can give tremendous relief to those suffering from a wide variety of long-term diseases, or illnesses, like epilepsy and its accompanying seizures, all forms of end stage cancers, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and others.

The drug is made from the oil of the plant and will be sold here in Florida, ONLY by legally authorized people.

The use of Medical Marijuana has for years been shown  to give comfort to those suffering with great pain.

The objections to approving this world-wide, as a former treatment Nurse, have always miffed me.

My son is a paraplegic and through out his life had to deal with a great deal of pain,.

Although he never used this, I knew many who did and do, to stop unbearable pain.

Yes, I came of age in L.A. in the late sixties, I was surrounded by all manner of drugs.

I never used them, they did not appeal to me.

But if my son had needed them and he was in extreme pain, I most certainly would have gotten them for him.

In this country, you can legally buy alcohol, get drunk and kill yourself and any number of others.

You can buy cigarettes that after a period of time, can cause cancer, which can also kill you.

You can buy a myriad of legally prescribed drugs which can quickly become addictive and ultimately destroy your life.

Think the TV Series, ” House. ”

The list is long, the point is, why this huge outpouring of fear on Medical Marijuana?

In California where it has been legal for many years, there are many more problems and deaths from all of the other forms of “legal drugs” than there are from this substance.

The situation is extremely sad, because many families and children especially, could be helped tremendously by this, yet those with the legal ability to do so, our Judges, are turning this legal process into a living hell, telling those who needed it,  “yesterday””  that they will have to wait even longer.

No amount of prescription pills can replace the same level of pain alleviation of Medical Marijuana, as children simply cannot take enough of them safely to get relief from their debilitating pain.

Not to mention the potential and possible deadly side effects of these powerful pills for a child.

It is time for the judicial system in this and other states to get on board with the medical community and do what is right for those who are suffering.

Everyone here has seen the pictures and the videos of the people on the Beach at Venice in California and are convinced that the entire state of Florida will become a “weed” version of a tawdry Cheech and Chong movie.

We have so many horrible accidents each year in Florida that are caused by those who drive drunk or the wrong way on our freeways.

It seems that no one was too worried about the dangers of alcohol and driving when they approved it to be sold in every state in the Country, all those years ago.

Apparently, just the name Marijuana makes people absolutely terrified of what might happen if it is allowed to be sold publicly.

Is it just possible that the real or true reason behind this aversion or objection to Medical Marijuana, might be that those who sell it will make money and greedy politicians and others, have not yet found a way to get their share of it?

Better yet, ask the parent of a child who is suffering from debilitating pain what they think.

They don’t care who makes the money, as long as their child is not one of those caught up in Charlotte’s Web.

 

Places to learn more:

Judge tosses out rules for ‘Charlotte’s Web’ medical pot

More than 3,000 new patients will soon have access to Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web – Wikipedia

Meet The Children Who Rely On Marijuana To Survive

 Charlotte’s Web medical marijuana program delayed 

Charlotte’s Web Of Suffering: Six-Year-Old Colorado Girl With Dravet Syndrome Finds Relief From Marijuana High In CBD

 

 

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Is Helping The Hungry And Homeless A Crime?

Abbott

Arnold Abbott: the Police and the Politics of public feeding.
Picture source: Unknown

 

At first glance this story appears to be just another case of politics bullying charity, but not so fast.

This story should have been written a few days ago, but it was not to be, as I was once again up in Gainesville getting my  melanomas tended to.

Now it’s back to work this morning…

If you have not heard of this man yet, you will.

His name is Arnold Abbott and he is a 90-year-old advocate for the homeless and hungry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Arnold has for many years been feeding the homeless on the beach at Ft Lauderdale.

There are many who support him in his charitable endeavors, but as usual, there are also those who are very much opposed.

There are kind generous souls in many places around Florida and the Country,  who also do this, some make the news, others do not.

When too many complain, laws get passed and ordinances are put into place, to shut those who feed in public down, not just here, but  all over the country.

In the past ten years, the warmer states in America have been inundated with the poor and hungry.

And, as the economy went South, so did the homeless.

When providing food to those with none, there is always a risk of offending those who find it unpleasant, even dangerous to themselves, their families, or their businesses.

In the past in some places throughout the state, there have been reports, or incidents of public displays of indecency, or eliminating in public.

There have also been some petty crimes associated with these public feedings.

The list is long for each side.

The point is, there are simply not enough places to provide either shelter, or food for the current abundance of homeless here in Florida, which now ranks third in America, for numbers of  homeless, after New York and California.

The desperate come from all over the country to find relief here, knowing that for one, they will not freeze to death while being homeless and that there are more than just a few places to go to find protection from the situation they find themselves in.

When the two sides collide, as they are doing right now in Fort Lauderdale, is when the public out cries begin and many outsiders, along with the press, get involved.

Many people want the hungry to be fed inside, not out in the public view.

Does it make them uncomfortable in  this tourist rich state to see the plight of those with nothing?

Florida depends heavily on the lavish spending of rich visitors and if they are appalled or turned off by the sight of the poor and hungry being fed, it may hurt this state’s bottom line.

What is that old saying about  “walking a mile in my shoes?”

It only takes ONE big negative life impact to make any one of us homeless and hungry.

Which brings us to the story of Arnold Abbott and his mission in life and to honor his wife, of feeding the homeless and hungry of Fort Lauderdale.

He also works with and teaches the homeless and tries to help find them work.

Much to the great chagrin of city leaders and some businesses, this stubborn World War II Veteran is not going to back down.

As he said today, ” I have fought in the wars, and I know how to do this, I will not stop…..as long as there is breath in my body”

Arnold and his helpers, have been arrested, cited and fined for  “illegal actions on behalf of the hungry in Fort Lauderdale.

The Mayor of the city, Jack Seler, is in a tough place.

He must uphold the laws, to avoid an outbreak of charity feedings citywide, but he also does not like all of the really negative publicity the city is getting.

Being the focus of this heavy heat and intense scrutiny is not new for Arnold, who has fought against the city for more than twenty years to do what he considers God’s work.

Can anyone of us know with any real certainty, that there but for the Grace of God go we?

We must ask ourselves: Is Helping The Hungry And Homeless A Crime?

 

Places to learn more:

Arnold’s Group: Love thy neighbor

‘Chef Arnold,’ 90, Cited Again For Feeding Homeless In Florida

90-Year-Old Arrested For Feeding Homeless Will Continue ‘As Long As There Is Breath In My Body’

Florida Finds Tricky Balance Over Feeding of the Homeless

Arresting Arnold Abbott unconstitutional. He’s won in court 3 times, won 2 appeals.

Arnold Abbott keeps feeding the homeless: Charity or crime?

Arnold Abbott Re-Arrested 

Russell Brand: $4 Billion Spent on Elections, But Feeding the Homeless is Illegal

National Coalition for the Homeless

 

 

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It Must Be Our Choice!

brittany
Brittany Maynard, an end-of-life choice advocate.
Picture credit: The Maynard family

 

On our news this morning was a story that needed to be shared.

As many of you by now know,  I am dealing with Cancer.

Mine is,  as far as I can see, likely under control.

The story this morning was about a very young girl,  whose was not.

She had stage four Brain Cancer and had been told by her doctor that she had six months to live.

This is news that no one her age should ever have to hear.

What she did after that point,  is why you must know about her.

Brittany Maynard lived in California and made the long trip to the state of Oregon to do, once again, what  no one her age should ever have to do, die.

California does not have the law that Oregon does called,  “Death with Dignity.”

In the interview this morning, Brittany expressed her feelings with enormous grace and courage.

Her strength in making this decision was way beyond her tender age.

I am not sure that in her position, I could have done it.

As a former Nurse in California,  I have cared for many Cancer patients and know the excruciating pain that they endure until they either recover,  or succumb to this ravaging disease.

My own mother in law passed away with the same disease, Brain Cancer.

She also did not live in a state with the law that Brittany used to choose her own path to dying.

My mother in law suffered terribly, had great pain and finally went into a coma from which she never recovered.

She lingered for a brief time and then she was gone.

Would she have, if allowed, have made the same choice that Brittany did?

We will never know.

When ever I spent time on the Oncology Ward, the sounds of pain were so very hard to hear.

Imagine how it must have been for those with the disease?

Someone who should know better,  this week told me that Cancer does not hurt.

I beg to differ with this person.

If it didn’t hurt,  why do nearly all of the patients in Oncology have Morphine drips?

But back to Brittany and her decision.

I may be in a minority here, what’s new, but my personal belief is that dying is each persons decision and no one should have the power to prevent,  or alter it.

Reaching the end of your life, whether as in Brittany’s case, or an elderly person who has had a long and full life, the decision as to when it should end,  should be theirs and theirs alone.

Anyone who disagrees with this,  needs to talk to those suffering with a terminal illness, or better yet, spend an hour or a day in an Oncology wing.

That should do it.

Dear Sweet beautiful Brittany, I did not know you, but I will support to my death,  your right to make that choice and you should not have had to,  in your time of suffering pain and illness,  have had to travel hundreds of miles away to another state,  to complete your final choice.

California and all states,  should recognize this situation and change it, now.

Every state in America needs to have a “Death with Dignity”  law.

I can nearly guarantee that it would happen instantly if and when,  any of those with the power to do it, had a beloved family member who was in Brittany’s  position.

America and  the world must admit that dying is extremely personal and how each of us does it, needs to be the patient’s choice.

We must each have the right to choose our own path to dying.

This is a Human Right and it MUST be our choice!

 

Places to learn more:

Brittany Maynard Could Revive the Stalled ‘Death With Dignity’ Movement

Brittany Maynard, terminally ill, takes own life

Brittany Maynard, 29-year-old right-to-die advocate with brain cancer, ends her life in Oregon

Brittany Maynard, advocate for ‘death with dignity,’ dies

Brittany Maynard – Wikipedia

The Brittany Maynard Fund

 

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My journey as an anti-fur activist: ____________________________________________________________________ "Every step forward is also a step on the way to the end" ~ Milan Kundera ~

Amber Danette

Writer ~Flying to neverland and having tea with fauns

Ta hendene til din kjære – se på dem og hold dem hardt Disse hendene skal du følge, leie og lede. Du skal få føle på varmen fra dem og kjenne en inderlig glede. De skal stryke deg og de skal holde rundt deg – de er ikke skapt for å såre i vrede For du skal ikke alene mer vandre. De skal klemme og kose og aldri klandre De skal skjerme deg for det du ikke selv ser. De skal elske og aldri forakte – bare hjelpe når du ber. Disse hendene skal jobbe for at dere skal få det godt De skal gi – og du skal takke for det du har fått. De skal tvinnes sammen i kjærlighet og være ømme og gode og et tegn på inderlighet Hendene du holder er sterke og unge De skal gjennom mye for din skyld når dagene er tunge De skal stryke og klemme og være gode og fromme De skal ruske i ditt hår og takke når dagen er omme Disse hendene skal følge deg gjennom livet. De skal holde fast ved deg og verne om samlivet De skal være hos deg når alle andre har gått De skal aldri slippe men holde fast og tørke tårer når du har grått. Hendene skal bære din ring med rette Den skal skinne og for alle berette Jeg elsker deg! – kan den bekjenne Det er bare en som har maken til denne En dag er hendene blitt ru og grå Hver fure og rynke forteller om livet som bak dere lå Dere kan minnes den dagen i dag - da et livslangt bånd Ble knyttet Og fra denne dag dere gikk Hånd i hånd.

Mens du flyter med livets hastighet,er det lett å overse det grunleggende-de enkle,gode beslutninger som gjør livet enklere og bedre;)

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