Soap Operas & Modern Times

Flashback to March 4, 1997; North Shore University Hospital in Long Island. I wake up (I think wake up) in a recovery ward somewhere. Everything is a blur. I hear voices around me, talking about something… me? There is one and only one voice I recognize. That voice says “Mag her”.

Mag her? I realize the ‘her’ is me. The voice I know is Dr. Seaman. All jokes aside, he is my OB/GYN.

As my mind comes around, I remember I am in the hospital and had a scheduled cesarean section earlier. I was 100% conscious during the procedure per medical standards. My then beloved husband stood dutifully alongside me watching the medical team help bring our first born breach baby son Thomas into the world.

More than 22 years later I can’t tell you whether or not I was fully conscious the whole time… but the memory I recall is that my BP sky rocketed and I was in the high risk maternity ward where I remember hearing this “Mag her” phrase.

The ‘’mag’ was magnesium. Until this day I have no idea why or what for- but I do completely and 100% remember the TV show that was playing in the recovery room.  It was NBC daytime and Kristin DiMera had a baby as well on the day time soap Days of Our Lives.

In my murky state of mind I was strangely intrigued by this story line. I watched in a beguiled state. I wanted to see my son. I only remember a little bit of him being put on my chest and some camera flashes. He was nowhere near me. I was in a lot of pain. And the show was a pleasant distraction.

Fast forward about a week or so. No sleep and a lot of pain. The days were initially filled on the couch with my husband and I taking care of a newborn. At some point the TV was on in the background when I noticed the same characters and thickening plot from the recovery room days before. It’s Days of Our Lives. My husband is about to change the channel- but I ask him to wait. I want to see someone else with a newborn.. and some baby switch.. and whatever plot lines are taking place at the time.

And there begins the love affair with Days of our Lives (DOOL).

Since, through the years I’ve watched the show. At first daily as much as I could live on TV. When Thomas was an only child I watched the show on days off ath home with while a cook in the US Coast Guard. When I got out of the military and was a military wife and reservist, I would put Thomas and his younger sister Gabby down for their afternoon naps around 12:45 pm, then make popcorn and pull out a Diet Coke over ice to cozy up with DOOL.

In 2002 I started working full time. Out came the VCR tapes. Even though I was no longer at home during the day, I wasn’t ready to give up Days! Most days I caught some of the show in the evening while making dinner. Sometimes I bundled up on a Friday night while my ex worked the night shift and the kids were in bed to catch up. And other times weeks may have gone by where I didn’t catch an episode – but they were always there when I wanted them, and because of the pace of soaps; it very easy to catch up when I had the time.

 

More years went by. I switched to DVR. And in modern days I just watch it on the NBC app, as every episode is just there- waiting for me when I’m ready.

 

The characters are like family. The Hortons, Bradys, DiMeras… The actors/actresses and the extended families are relatable. The traditions seem as important as my own. The baked goods the motherly and grandmotherly characters make, the town square, the Brady pub and their comforting dishes, the holiday traditions. The upscale bars that open. The seedy port in a shady area. The mansions and apartments that are used through the years. The town of Salem is my home away from home.

 

It’s bittersweet. Some of the characters that passed away in real life and were celebrated/mourned on the show after their death, make it a very large extended family of DOOL watchers all over. Many actors/actresses spent many years of their lives on the show. The show is their family as well as a pseudo family to the viewers.

 

Jack and Jennifer were getting divorced around the same time that I was. I skipped the show for a few weeks while in a very blurred and semi-depressed state. Even though I initiated the divorce, in many ways I felt like a failure because I couldn’t make it work. Then one day while making dinner I put one the latest DVR’d episodes on in the background, and to my surprise Jack and Jennifer were getting divorced! Silly as it may be, I felt better. If Jack and Jennifer couldn’t make it, how could I? They are back together btw, but not the point!

 

Just two years ago after spending a month in a mental health outpatient treatment facility I took another extended, yet unintended break from Days; and when I put it back on, JJ was struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. It was comforting.

 

When Kate had cancer on the show, I was able to relate and felt better about the reactions around her after watching my own mother and grandmother struggle with it (only they didn’t survive).

 

Just yesterday watching Maggie, Brady, and JJ in an AA meeting with Eric as the facilitator – helped me to feel more normal about my own struggles with addictive issues. They fall off the wagon. Even Maggie who was sober since I started watching the show a few decades ago and known as the rock that brought so many to AA for the betterment of their lives fell off the wagon last year. She is back now, better than ever. The show humanizes issues that we all face, whether or not we want to admit them.

 

Yes, yes, yes… there are ridiculous story lines too. Marlena possessed by the devil, brain switches and characters who come back from the dead. Just like all the jokes about soaps – there is always someone in the hospital (usually in a coma), an illicit affair, a baby switch…. There are the characters who talk to themselves with raised eyebrows only to be accidentally overheard. And speaking of “over hearing”, there are one too many people skulking around listening in on conversations, intentionally and unintentionally learning things they shouldn’t.

 

Soaps are campy and melodramatic. It’s what they are known for. In between all the scheming and constant trips to the hospital, there are real current day stories well woven in. Days has covered police shooting issues, same sex marriage issues, suicide, bullying, racial issues, depression, loss of children, addiction, job decisions that affect relationships, to mention a few.

 

It’s a comfort to know that it’s not abnormal for these things to happen. It is abnormal that people wake up looking like they stepped out of a fashion magazine – that is always stumping! But when you see a beloved (or not so beloved) character struggle and then overcome a problem, and have the support of people around them either during or way after the issue has passed is very encouraging. Time does heal anything that plagues you at the moment.

 

I took to writing this because a few days ago the show jumped ahead by a full year. That is not a normal thing to happen, so I went to google to see if it was for real or someone’s dream sequence.

 

It turns out the time jump was real, but I also learned the show took a hiatus from taping, but is already taped eight months ahead. All the characters were let go from their contracts. There is a lot of speculation on the future of Days. It’s future seems uncertain. No known decisions about the show at the time were made.

 

Modern Days soaps are perhaps not what they originally were. They cover serious relevant contemporary topics that the world faces. I can attest that it’s not just the lonely housewife with nothing to do in the middle of the day. Sometimes at work around noon I’ll walk through a waiting area at the hospital where I work at and see veterans in their 60s and 70s watching the show. I’ve heard two patients once a few years back softly arguing both sides of same sex marriage while Will and Sonny were up on the screen.

 

Maybe the ratings have dropped. Or maybe it’s impossible to capture how the audience watches these kinds of shows. It’s not all just silly fluff, bubble gum and characters who never seem to age. It’s a family for the actors/actresses as well as the viewers. It’s stability for the audience when the world seems unstable. And even when the fictious town of Salem is unstable (like when a serious killer is on the loose or Stephano comes back from the dead again), it’s truly a comfort to know that is how the world works on and off screen. Days is the crazy family and town you can relate to.

 

I do hope it does not go off the air. It would feel like a major loss to my life. Like sands in the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.

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On the Bible & Homosexuality

I have been so bothered as of late by the term “Life is Unfair”.

 

During a rather intelligent discussion not long ago regarding the disparity between the rich and poor with someone I very much respect, this individual stated – “Well, life is unfair”.

 

Well, yes it is; but I also ask the question – Does it have to be unfair in the way it is? Or should we strive for the post-apocalyptic version where bad things still happen (sickness, natural disasters, accidents, etc), however unfairness of any living beings by other living beings is not practiced.

 

I’ve been contemplating this quite a bit since that conversation. This morning I’m especially contemplating why humans have historically pointed to the bible to condone some beliefs, particularly homosexuality. There are so many ways to treat other humans unfairly based on beliefs, but why do we do that? Why do we point to the bible to say it’s ok? Doesn’t the bible clearly state over and over in the new testament that we are all equal and to treat our brethren with love and respect regardless of anything?

 

Why point to anything in old testament where slavery, polygamy, killing your brother, rape, and sacrifice of life seemed like everyday occurrences? We know better than that, so why refer to the lousy story of Sodom and Gomorrah? This is the same story where it seemed ok to offer up virgin daughters. Or accept in the current times that other baby-making sexual acts that were banned in the bible long ago are fine, but same gender sex is not? It doesn’t make sense.

 

On top of it… commit hate acts? Be disgusted? Why?

 

How does this affect you? If it’s your child or parent or sibling and you say this, why are you thinking about what youdon’t like and passing judgement? Didn’t that same bible preach non-judgment?

 

If I detested the taste of onions and someone else just loved them – what gives me the right to believe I’m higher and mightier than them? To beat them up or worse – kill them?

 

Not apply the same laws?

 

Judge them?

 

Personally I don’t feel this is acceptable to practice or teach.  This applies to women, slaves, dominion over animals and a host of other common bible blaming that have plagued our past.

 

Why gloss over the ‘We are all equal’ parts in the newer more relevant testament after Jesus came to tell us that how we feel against one another is not in the spirit of love? What happened to take care of one another?

 

I get the sanctity of marriage argument, but if we just switch that same sanctity to non-heterosexual couples then what is the argument? Babies? Do we really need more humans to feed in the world right now? Aren’t foster homes and orphanages around the world full of children that need a home? Shouldn’t a couple who wants to raise one of these children in a home where love is shown to one another and a child be encouraged?

 

I am open to understanding other views, but not open to hate and mistreatment of others for any reason. Ever.

 

Natural life with sickness, accidents and disasters is “unfair” enough. We don’t need to add the life if unfair prose to look past humans not taking care of one another with all the resources we have to do so.

 

Can’t we just accept one another and get along? There is really no reason not to if you think about it. Saying humans are evil is just an excuse to remain evil. We all have it in us to love. Every single one of us.

 

 

 

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The One Reading at the Beach

Tonight I’m in Branford, CT. Alone with my dog. A rare Memorial through Labor Day moment when our second home isn’t rented.

 

I’m noshing on pretzel sticks, olives, edamame, and chocolate from Daren & I’s trip last week to Santa Barbara and to the cutest little chocolate shop I’ve ever seen in the town of Los Olivos, CA… while sipping on an inexpensive (the hubs would cringe at the low cost) glass of Chard.

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Chocolate Shop in Los Olivos

I was outside earlier. The sun came out for a few minutes when I first arrived. It was warm & comfy in the sun. I met the contractors working on our neighbor’s sea wall. They had some (maybe– fingers crossed!) bad news about our own possibly poorly constructed sea wall. Time will tell, right???

 

Now I’m inside reading a book I picked up from the library just this afternoon. I’m just on page 34 and almost done with my snacks (aka ‘dinner’) when I came across this line.

 

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I want to be her. Not her friend. I look just past my own feet at Koji and admire him…. But I am the friend. The narrator of this part and Koji are not me. I envy them because I don’t know how to relax.

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View of the inspired picture of Koji

I’m the chick on the move. I truly can’t stop moving. If I have to I must twitch or shake while not moving. So many things feel wrong with that. But that’s me.

 

Somewhere in my not so much younger life, I received advice I took to heart from well meaning friends and colleagues on keeping weight off (not due to my weight, just a coincidental state of mind I kept running into). Keep moving, eat light, no eating after 5pm or forget it….

 

Forget what I thought only to myself?

Self answers: Obesity, heart disease, triple bi-pass surgery or another one of these cases where 45-year-old otherwise healthy individual kicks the bucket out of no-where. Family and friends are astonished.

 

Other advice – from my father when I was even younger…. Don’t be lazy. People who don’t look around for what there is to do won’t amount to much. Do as much as you cant. Seize the moment.

 

Seize the moment? Not amount to much? Get fat and be in the newspapers because I kicked it at a healthy 45-years-old… That will be the destiny of the chick reading at the beach. Right? Right?? Right (read- sound of crickets)…

 

So… I’ll be the one swimming. Meeting the cute guys in the water. Being thrown back in with some other girls as we play chicken or whatever that water game is called. And I’ll be the one in an hour coaxing my reading friend to get up, showered and dressed with me so we can hang with these cute dudes at the restaurant/karaoke bar right there – look you can see it on the boardwalk; at 7pm sharp. Hurry… hurry… hurry.

 

34 pages into the book. These 2 girls went to grad school together. At this point they just couldn’t be more than 26 years old, though this is my educated wicked cheap chardonnay guess.

 

So fast-forward to me now at 43 with my sleepy only 5-year old dog. Rocking, twitching, whatever you may call it. My ex used to call it an Elvis shake. I can’t stop moving. So even when I’m sitting/’relaxing’I should be burning calories twitching??? Do I have body issues? NO!  but yeah, who doesn’t?

 

I want to be the reading chick. I want to be Koji. I don’t want to have to worry about achieving something every moment of every day. Seizing every moment by running to capture it. These ‘others’such as my beloved dog seem to capture it by staying still. Are one of us right and one of us wrong?

 

My brain tells me yes, but my heart/soul say no.

 

My yoga background says there are two sides to everything. The proverbial ‘They” are Tamasic and I’m Rajistic. The pendulum swings both ways. Somewhere in the middle is Sattva. A place almost none of us achieves because early on in life at some point some how we choose sides. More on this

 

Sides by skin color/fur color, ethnic background/animal species, gender, income level, housing type, you name it! And sides by if one wants to be on the move or still.

 

I chose to be on the move. Later in life I realize stillness is the “key”. Meditation. Quiet. Where the magic & wonder is.

 

But is it? Doesn’t stillness lead to boredom, inertia, obesity & depression. The minute I think of these things I’m on the move again, in case the thought of them may entice me and I’ll turn into what I can’t stand.

 

BUTTTTTTTTTTTT….. what can’t I stand about it? So I’ll move, miss life and be anxious? Better than being bored, lazy, seeing every slow (yawn) moment, and having my heart not pump out of my chest 24/7/365 due to the anxiety I’m creating. Gulp….

 

I envy them. So why do I try to avoid being like them??? Is total stillness, meditation and quieting the mind the key to life? I always thought so and oddly strayed from that path to the MOST opposite end I could conjure up before knocking myself out with exhaustion at the end of every day; times 43 years to date. Straying from what I believed rather than moving toward it.

 

But is it the “KEY”?

 

I did always think so until right now when I opted to pick up the laptop and capture these thoughts. No, it’s not the key. The key is in the middle.

 

Even Buddha says to choose the middle path. Yeah, google it. No one extreme or the other is the answer. In some weird way I feel that applies to everything. Democratic/Republican. Black/White. Hot/Cold. Day/Night. Sun/Moon. Hot/Cold. Yin/Yang.

 

Thousand of years ago the Tao tried to explain this with a simple symbol of the Yin Yang.

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Very last painting I did on 4/22 (though it feels like a life-time ago). My brother Mario bought it from a fundraiser for Mental Health a few weeks ago. I plan to write a blog about it, as it’s meant to represent the yogic koshas.

So WHYYYY. WHY, Why, why….. (this is me metaphorically shouting from the rooftops) Why do we have to take sides?

 

In a completely yet totally unrelated story…. My step-son visited our home just a bit over two weeks ago for just one brief evening and took something without asking from my eastern (albeit sun-rise) facing window sill mock alter I constructed in my son’s (who recently moved outwith a full-time out of town job) old room. It was a statue of Shiva that my husband brought into my life. It had been a fixture in our basement for years until it moved to a new room when my son first moved out into college, then to oldest my step-son’s room when he took it one day from that common room (as he has taken quite a many things that were either ours or his father’s over the years into his room, to his mother’s or in the trash), then to my altar where it stood as my epitome of the Lord of Dance; the Destructor/Creator of Change… and in my mind the one who makes so much change and moves things SOOO fast that they end up culminating into a silent moment. The way the autumn changes, destroys and culminates in winter- which is the only thing that could help spring bloom again. Where the flowers, trees, bushes, fishes, animals – whatever is to come only evolve smarter with age, passing along the wisdom they learned from generation to generation.

 

And back to the present. Shiva is the most Rajistic of the Hindu Gods in terms of the Gunas. The next Hindu God if this were a circle, would be Brahma who is the creator before leading to Vishnu (the sustainer). All three circle round & round in that order. Create, Sustain, Destroy/Change…. So we can start again.

 

The Shiva “taking” mentioned above prompted me to purchase a Saraswati staute. Saraswati is a Goddess I briefly learned about at the end of my 300-hour yoga teacher training (for those who don’t know – it’s level of study past the required yoga teacher requisite). Similar to a masters – yet not quite a Ph.D as to those who lead the Master level students.

 

Saraswati… Just her name kind of touched me the first time I heard the vibration of sound in the air. She’s the Goddess of Wisdom, Knowledge, the Arts. I didn’t remember at the moment I ordered the statue, but she is the “female” Goddess of Brahama, the creator. In my memory she was the consort of Vishnu who sustains what is. Kind of similar to the middle part of life. The summer. The heat. The least of anything I’m attracted to. I’m moved toward super movement, but attracted to rest.

 

Symbolically Saraswati intrigued me, though the male version of Shiva raptured me. Probably because it’s where I am in the scale of life. In that late stage of change, heading toward rest/rebirth/spring.  I don’t know why I was and may possibly continue  to [until the end of my life] hold onto to this habitual thought pattern. As humans, I know we are drawn to habits and repetition, but ultimately we are meant to pass through the cycle and keep moving.

 

If ‘keeping moving’ when you need to move to the next change toward rest is what you are holding onto/fighting against, then you are stuck. When you are stuck you are fighting the laws of nature. Similar to attempting to swim against the tide. You can either go with it or let it overtake you. Nature always wins.

 

That may have been TOO much for some. I perplex myself sometimes and have to stop and think about what I’m thinking or writing about. But yeah yeah yeah… that is just one more sign that I’m at that edge before slowing down, just trying to keep on holding on by moving.

 

It’s funny I felt drawn to Saraswati. The most Yin of the trio of the dual male/female God-beginning of the cycle. Drawn to the Goddess of Wisdom, Knowledge, and Creativity. Aside from the last 3 years of my life being the most anxiety ridden of my life, they’ve also been the most creative.

 

Maybe I’ve been on the cusp in these three years toward change. Maybe I was on it long before then; perhaps I was born that way. Whatever the case, the people and experiences in my life shaped my habitual thought patterns.

 

But that doesn’t mean I need to hold onto it and not accept the transformation so desperately trying to take place within me. It doesn’t mean I should build walls around myself to protect what is old and crumbling.

 

It’s funny the crumbling physical sea wall just a short while ago was brought to my attention here at the very place I write this from. It’s not a coincidence my silly black lab mix was peacefully laying beside me as I read a line from this book that struck a cord.

 

There’s a reason why I want to be the girl who is reading at the beach and not the one swimming. I don’t know why I’m fighting it. To be honest, it’s quite exhausting.

 

Let’s just stop choosing sides and all get along. Perhaps that will quench our inborn desires to swing one way or the other towards the middle where we can all just stop swinging and see the beautiful life we were given without all the surrounding opposite end issues, and enjoy the miracle together. Accepting all that is from every view.

 

Namaste.

 

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On the Tangled web we weave 




Where to begin?

Daren and I have been in Africa for the past week. We started out in South Africa and are currently in Zimbabwe. The economic disparity between the first world and third world is almost inconceivable. The modern day effects of corruption and apartheid are prevalent with just a glance out the window. How can such an atrocity be in the year 2017?

It’s so complicated. We have been having conversations with one another, friends, and locals about this very topic for the past week. I think we were both surprised how much the lower paid locals know about the US political system and have critically considered how to remedy an ugly situation created by our ancestors and governments. There isn’t an easy answer.
What has also surprised me is seeing first hand what South Africa looks like today and reading older media materials about their apartheid. From a brief glance, the population of mixed race was not enraged or agitated about one another; it seemed to be something the government was enforcing. Many citizens were recorded to have said even though apartheid laws were on the table, they didn’t think they would be passed. Then when they were, they thought in this modern day there is no way that can be enforced. Until people of non-white descent were suddenly removed from their homes. That was not but 50-70 years ago. AFTER WWII and all we learned as a human race. The same thing happened here in Zimbabwe but on this end the whites were forced off the land.

Then interestingly enough, I heard an entirely different perspective from the “white” side. We have some friends from the states that have been living out this way for the past 9 months who have met all types of locals. They have friends of Dutch descent that presented a point I had not considered. In essence the passed along viewpoint is that if we are forced to live together with two different viewpoints for living, it can make for an ugly situation. For example- if one party doesn’t believe in taxes, schooling, and maintaining the land and the other does; the party that doesn’t only makes it more difficult for the party that does. From their Northern European perspective, apartheid was meant to separate folks by their beliefs. They say when their ancestors arrived no one was on the land, they didn’t push anyone out (disclaimer, I don’t know the specific facts of the Dutch settlers particularly in SA, and we all know that it did happen in many other places). A few hundred years later, the cultural beliefs were still clashing. For instance, the Dutch wanted their schools one way, and other groups wanted it another way. So instead of trying to mix and mash when one party won’t have a conversation with the other about it, they felt it might be best to live apart and do what each party would both like in separate camps. So apartheid laws appeared. Since it was the European settlers who built the infrastructure and cities, they felt they had the right to keep that part and the others could have the land the way they found it when their ancestors were there.

Wow… on the smallest scale within my own home, having a blended family I completely understand how trying to mix two backgrounds in a living situation is practically impossible. And in my family we are almost completely similar in color, believes, religion, education; not to mention a really small group of people. How can you mix communities, countries and cultures that have hundreds of years of history ingrained into their being and ask people to get along and work together? I do know apartheid wasn’t the answer. As I know Daren and I setting up separate homes or rules within our family wasn’t the answer either.

The answer is that there is no easy answer. Some might point to education, but education doesn’t make you smarter or right about how living in the world should look like. What is wrong with living in a hut and dancing around in the bush? Is the ultimate goal to keep building and making things to make human kind’s life easier? What is wrong with just loving life, living with the land and passing away when and how the universe decides? Is spending your life looking for a cure to make someone else’s life better someday so noble that you don’t appreciate what is around you in your own life? Does that make you a better or more important person? If you believe that, does it give that person the authority to make decisions for others that don’t believe that?

Let’s not forget about the people that were enslaved, killed, and removed from their land. This is still happening in 2017. What about those who were freed? How can their groups catch up and make a living and have the basics like food shelter and clothing when the commonly accepted mechanism to get a job is education. You need money for the basics. You need even more money for an education. You need a job for these. No job = no basics and education. No education = no job. A rather circular problem that one can’t escape. Their culture before enslavement didn’t require this, but they are forced to live in it now with little opportunity for a way out. In some ways they are still enslaved. Should those folks just get back some raw land to live as they did before enslavement now that we have introduced them to medicine and technology and act like there is no other civilized way to live but this way? That is what I believe apartheid tried to do. No one has even taught them to farm the land. And forbid they were given any where useful minerals and resources were abundant.

Affirmative action is one solution with lots of complications in and of itself. It could be a whole other blog. It’s a conversation we have included alongside this one in the past several days.

These are complicated questions. Questions we don’t consider often in our day to day lives. It’s so much easier to proverbially close our eyes to get on with the day, tending to our own small lives. That is important too. We need to keep our own house in order for any chance of success in happiness and being an asset to our communities.

The scariest thing I believe I heard in the past week was the trust in government that all the free people in South Africa had when apartheid was announced. No one was scared because they didn’t think anything unfair could happen in such an advanced society. I shudder at how the US could easily fall apart if we allowed the differences in skin color, gender, sexual orientation, culture, country of origin, etc to influence any kind of law when any human can lose any human right(s). I know our government deals with absolutely nearly impossible dilemmas with limited resources and has to make decisions for the greater good. I wouldn’t want to be in higher office with the pointed fingers when most people have never considered how incredibly complex and tangled the web we have woven is.

It’s almost too much for anyone to contemplate. But is it too complicated and messed up for an individual to make a difference? I don’t know. What I do know is that we have domain on how we show up in the world. Perhaps we should consider the following recipe for living:

– Be kind to others.

– Don’t take more than you need.

– Treat everyone equally.

– Learn to think critically.

– Become informed about potential laws and take action as a voting citizen.

– Make decisions for the greater good in your own life.

– Take care of yourself and your family (sleep, nutrition and movement) so you can be healthy and gain the respect of your community.

– Make time to relax and play so you are the best version of your creative self.

– Find just one to two things you really believe in and feel passionate would make the world a better place. Direct your working energy toward that. You can make a difference.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

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