Is Sobriety Worth It?

Good morning to each of you and welcome to the start of a new day! I am once again drawn to the search term, “is sobriety worth it?”

Let me simply answer that question. The answer is yes, sobriety is absolutely worth it. That has been my experience, at any rate, and the experience of countless others in sobriety.

You may fear letting go of your good friend alcohol. You may wonder what in the world you ail use for entertainment, for relief from your hurts, your emotional pain. But consider, if you’re reading this, alcohol is no longer serving you, it is probably causing havoc in your life and you are searching for other ways to find relief.

If you are generating hell in your life and it is related to alcohol or drugs, you will find sobriety most appealing. Without alcohol or drugs, you will not have hangovers, a major benefit right from the start. As you sobriety progresses, you will discover things to do to entertain yourself – listen to music, read, visit with friends and family, exercise, write in a journal, and the list goes on.

Perhaps the thing that makes sobriety most worth it is the healing that will occur when you start to look at your emotional pain with clearer eyes. You will learn to be responsible for your own feelings instead of blaming others for your pain. Your feelings of pity for yourself will disappear, and you will find interest, genuine interest, in those around you.

The healing from the past that you experience is precious, simply precious, and you do not want to miss this benefit of sobriety.  You will find a new peace, a new freedom, and you will revel in these feelings.

What is it that you fear most from sobriety? How do you think sobriety can help you? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Move Forward From the Past

Hello rather late in the morning. In fact, good afternoon, as it is 12:30 pm where I am in Novato, California. I hope you are each having a great day. The search term “moving forward from the past” intrigued me, and I wish to say a few things about this.

There is no doubt that our past forms who we are in the moment, and that we cannot change our past. However, we can change how we view the past. For example, I had a rough childhood; it was abusive both physically and verbally. I spent my adult life until the age of 48 drinking heavily over it. The alcohol fueled my rage, self-pity, and blame of my parents. I learned quickly how to play the victim and I played that role very well.

Then, I met my match with alcohol and ended up seeking sobriety. During the course of that life-style, the sober one, I learned to look at myself and my behaviors. I learned how to forgive, and I have since forgiven my parents.

My point is, I learned to look at my past as something from which I can gain strength and healing, and which I can offer my recovery from to others so that they, too, can gain strength and healing.

I have found that it is important to visit the past as a way to move forward in the present. Once we revisit the past for our current growth, it is best thought of differently, as something which happened to us so we can grow and then, share that growth with others, in order to be of service to them.

When you move forward from the past, you will feel a peace and freedom like you have never felt. You will feel relief from the chains that bind you. If you are drinking to numb your pain, sobriety can help you in your growth. I know I could not hear those words when I was at the height of my drinking; perhaps you will be able to. I wish that for you, at any rate, so you can avoid years, possibly, of misery.

What do you do in your life to move forward from the past? I am hopeful for you that you use the past so you can move forward in the present. May it bring you peace when you move forward from the past.

 

 

 

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Easter – A Day of Rising Up by Finding Sobriety

Good morning and Happy Easter to each of you! I wish for you a day of rising up, of being reborn in your life. For me, that rebirth happened after I found sobriety. By becoming sober, I became able to heal form past wounds, and to learn to forgive, to create forgiveness in my life.

Today, I want to address sobriety and then mention forgiveness…

Have you been beaten down so low in your life that you are in great despair, with little or no hope that things will get better? Are you drinking mass quantities to numb the pain and confusion you feel? There is a way out. It is one of sobriety.

Right now, today – a day of rising up – you can choose sobriety. You can choose another course for your life. It doesn’t have to be in shame that you do this – instead, you can be in great relief that you no longer have to drown your sorrows and feel miserable the next day. Ah yes, the hangovers. How I remember them well… getting up and not being able to function until the afternoon, going to get my hangover food – a burrito from Taco Bell or a thigh from Kentucky Fried Chicken – all so it would settle my queasy stomach and quell the sharp pain in my head.

Are you there yet? Wanting to give it all up? Then it is time for you to consider sobriety, to ask for help. There are many support groups around from which you can get assistance. All you have to do is look in your yellow pages, or google alcohol support groups. They are there to help you – right now. Follow that small voice in your heart that wants to be done, that small voice that urges you to ask for help. It will be the best thing you do for yourself in your life!

Once you find sobriety, after a while, you will learn how to create forgiveness in your life, of both others and yourself, and that is the most freeing and peaceful thing you can experience. It will make you glow, make you radiant. You do not want to miss this experience!

The thing about sobriety is, it allows you to heal from all the demons you chase away when you are drinking. Through sobriety, you create a life that is filled with freedom, with peace. But you have to start somewhere, so why not at the beginning and what better day than Easter?

 

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Seven Effects of Sobriety

Good morning to each of you! May your day be filled with goodness and peace inside. Today’s search term I chose is “effects of sobriety,” because it is my 12 year birthday today. Twelve years ago today began my amazingly joyful and sometimes excruciatingly painful journey into sobriety.

And regardless of what I was experiencing, I didn’t drink – no matter what. You can do that, too. Do you want a new life, better than any you’ve ever experienced? Then stick with it – no matter what.

You will find the journey more than worthwhile. You will find it very powerful, very healing, very awesome. The journey is all of these things and more.  Some days, it is negative and extremely painful as you look at past experiences. Know that the experience and pain are being brought forth for your healing. Stick with it. Don’t drink – no matter what. It WILL get better!

So, let’s look at some of the effects of sobriety. I have spoken about these before from a different viewpoint…. today I present the end effect one might experience from sobriety.

1. You will begin to feel more self-respect when you don’t wake up all hung over, drooling puking, barely able to function as a human being. Imagine… waking up refreshed, able to get out of bed and function right away. Well, maybe after coffee. lol Seriously, waking up without a hangover did a work of good for my self-respect.

2. As you move through sobriety, you will begin to feel release from old wounds, old haunts, as you heal from the inside out. In addition to help from an alcohol support group, I needed private therapy help. I recommend this if you need it, as it will speed your recovery from old wounds much more quickly.

3. Your self-esteem and self-love will grow as you continue on this journey called sobriety. You will feel good about yourself for staying sober, and your esteem will grow as a result. The healing work you do will help you learn to love yourself; you will forgive yourself, and your self-love will grow even further.

4. You will feel true caring about the people around you. With your new-found sobriety, you will really care at a deep level for those who enter or are in your daily life. Yu will see others with compassion, see them as fallible human beings, and you will be able to forgive them their transgressions.

5. The blaming and self-pity you feel will diminish as you become more accountable for yourself and your feelings.

6. You will be able to see the world with new eyes… Gratitude for all your experiences, whether positive or negative, will fill you up and it will spill out to others.

7. And finally, you will wish to be of service to others rather than stay stuck in yourself and your woes, rather than blame others and feel self-pity.  Because of that, you will feel freedom in your soul. It will soar, as will you!

The possibilities are endless if you maintain your sobriety! My hope for each of you reading this is that you do, indeed, try sobriety, and succeed at it. Speaking from experience, 12 years of it, I can honestly say that the  journey is so well worth it. At last, I found happiness and peace. May you do the same.

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The Side Effects of Sobriety

Good morning, all! I chose “the side effects of sobriety” today because there have been so many for me, that I want to share about them.

The first effect of sobriety is the absence of hangovers. If you’re like me and experienced terrific hangovers every day, keeping you down until about 2 or 3 pm, then you will love this benefit of sobriety. Waking up clear is a true delight.

The second side effect of sobriety is healing of emotional wounds. For me, this took a bit of time, but the effort and wait were very much worth it. By remaining sober, the deep feelings I had numbed for years, had avoided for years, were brought forth for me to examine. At first it was very difficult, but over time, they softened and even got better as I did the emotional work to heal.

What do I mean when I talk about doing the emotional work to heal? I’m referring first to being present for the feelings that arise, allowing them to “be” within, without running, without numbing. Then there is the work with an outside, objective person to help dispel the ill-effects of various feelings gained along the way.

For example, as I grew up, I gained the feeling that I was worthless. This feeling stuck with me in adulthood and shadowed everything I did or tried to do. With external support and encouragement, I was able to realize that the words repeatedly said by my father, “you are worthless,” were a lie, not said about me. I learned that I was a very worthwhile person.

Another side effect of sobriety is the ability to look at the world around me in great detail. Everything is clearer, more noticeable to me.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of sobriety is the improvement I have had in my relations with others. I am able to come at a relationship with true caring and concern for the other, with true respect and tolerance. My vision of what they are saying to me is no longer skewed by the effects of alcohol, and I am not nearly as hostile or argumentative.

I can see others as spirited beings in sobriety, and this is something totally new for me. I delight in my dealings with others.

What are some of the side effects you have experienced in sobriety? Leave a comment and let us know.

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How to Live In Serenity

Balance of Serenity

Good morning. How to live in serenity was one of the search terms from yesterday and I thought it would be a great topic to blog about, given that that we just finished posts about getting sober.

The picture to the right suggests that when we are in serenity, life is balanced. Webster defines serenity as the state of being serene and serene is defined as not disturbed or troubled, the state of being calm, peaceful, tranquil.

Living a life of sobriety can lead you to serenity. In fact, being sober leads directly to the ability to have serenity. Once you work through all the muck that you drank over, or that you fret about if you don’t drink a lot, then what is left is an abiding calmness, tranquility… serenity.

I think the forgiveness of my parents led in large part to my ability to experience serenity. I was no longer angry at them and I became able to look at the past with calmness, with softer eyes and heart.

You, too, can find serenity, if that is what you seek. The steps to get there include letting go of the need to be right all the time, or to get your own way. It involves learning how to forgive, and my article on forgiveness may be helpful to you. To receive the article, sign up to the right of this post and you’ll receive step-by-step instructions to gain forgiveness.

I stress forgiveness because we all hold grudges and angers/hurts against others at one time or another. In my own life, when I forgave, life became much sweeter, much more easy. It’s like I just glided along from one moment to the next.

Living by the principle of live and let live is another thing you can adopt in your life that will assist you to find serenity. Live your own life as you wish, as long as you are not harming yourself or others, and let others be free to live their life as they wish, as long as they are not being harmful to themselves or others.

Practicing acceptance is another thing you can do to gain serenity. Learn to live with the realization that things are as they are, and unless they need changing, accept them as they are. Accept the fact that your life is not serene, and with that realization, you open the door to allowing serenity in.

Often, simply acknowledging a feeling will get the energy flowing and will allow you to get unstuck from that feeling. It’s like, once the light is shined on a feeling and exposes it, the Universe has the opportunity to step in and dispel the feeling.

Practice a few of these techniques and you, too, will soon be experiencing serenity in your life. It is truly a pleasant place to be.

Today, allow yourself to live and let live. Learn how to forgive others and yourself. That’s a biggie… Practice accepting life exactly as it is and see how much you gain serenity.

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What It Was Like Getting Sober – Part 3

My van

To continue… I must say, I hope you stick with this post. It’s long and I really hated to do a part 4.

The first year and a half of getting sober was difficult, as my feelings were extremely raw and I had nothing with which to numb them. I did a LOT of writing. I took several brisk walks a day.

After several months of doing these things as well as going to 4-5 meetings a day, God brought me the old van I ws telling you about earlier, and I dove in, gutting it, redoing the plumbing and electrical systems in addition to all the woodworking. I designed the interior bulkhead walls and the bookshelves. This project was a life-saver. It eased the difficulty of getting sober and feeling all my emotions.

I left San Diego in the spring of 2002, and headed back to the Bay Area, where I got a job. Soon after, I fell and injured my right, dominant wrist, so much so that I could not write with that hand and started journaling with my non-dominant, left hand. All sorts of deep feelings welled up, out of nowhere.

In fact, some of what I wrote now appears in the book I wrote and photographed, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing. In 2004, I discovered that the writings matched perfectly with some gate photos I had taken earlier in the year, describing their physical characteristics perfectly. I did not plan this; it just happened, which is why I believe my book was divinely created, guided.

Anyway, after returning to Marin and injuring myself in 2002, I could not deal with the weather that winter; the rain was blowing sideways and the van was leaking, getting my journals and books wet. I lost it and became suicidal. After reaching out to the crisis line and getting stabilized, I returned to San Diego and proceeded to receive treatment for my wrist injury.

Surgery was necessary, and I spent the next 3 years trying to find a place to live where I could be and not use my hand for a month following the surgery. It was going to be pretty extensive… First I went to Colorado and then to a friend’s home in Washington state, but these places did not work out and I found myself back in Marin in 2005, having surgery.

My emotional recovery continued, as I delved deeper into my psyche. I got assistance from a therapist. But I still was experiencing great, deep despair over my childhood. I felt the pain I had endured was for no purpose in my life, other than to make me miserable. That despair continued until one day, I discovered my purpose in life.

What I discovered was that my story, my abusive history, was of help to another when I talked about it and relayed how I had begun to heal from it. Suddenly, I saw the reason for the abuse. It was to help others by talking about my experience of healing so that they, too, could begin to recover from their abuse, their pain that they had endured. Suddenly I had purpose, my life had purpose.

After realizing my life’s purpose, my whole attitude and belief in myself changed, and I have not felt despair since that discovery, that day. In fact, my recovery has progressed to the point that I am stable and flourishing. Initially after surgery and for 2 years, I pulled together my book. Then I spent the next 2 years publishing and marketing it. It didn’t really take off, despite the fact that everyone who reads it, raves about it.

In 2008, I bought my humble little home in Marin, so now I am a long-term resident in a place that I love. An opportunity and calling came about, working with the Vietnam vets to help them through the suffering they still experience. What I have to offer today that I didn’t have 38 years ago is a way through grief, as well as how to get past anger and bitterness that is long-standing.

You see, I was finally able to forgive my parents for my upbringing. I carried that deep resentment around for 33 years, and am well-versed in how to forgive a long-time hurt. This is one of the major things I talk about when I work with the vets.

I conduct workshops now, as well as coach others. The topics are as I’ve discussed… grief recovery and forgiveness. I love my life and most of all, I love it when, after talking with someone, I see their eyes light up with hope after being sad and listless, void of all hope. That wonderful peace that I have found is something which I love to pass on… how to get there, how to look at the world and oneself with new eyes, 180 degrees from what one saw before.

You, too, can have a healing journey through all of your grief, your anger and bitterness, through all of your despair and hopelessness. It all starts by getting sober, giving up the drink for a kinder and softer way. Come join me. It is a wonderful life. Learn how to start on that path by coming to my workshop Finding Freedom In Forgiveness on National Forgiveness Day, October 27th. For more information and to register, go to http://findforgiveness.eventbrite.com.

If you are hurting enough, and you want something different in your life, then you are ready, perhaps, to embark upon a new journey. Reach out. Get help. You were not intended to do life alone in a vacuum, by yourself. It is a sign of strength and courage to reach out for a hand. There is love out there, brought to you by God’s countless angels. I wish for you to discover it.

 

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What It Was Like Getting Sober – Part 2

To continue… So, Brad and I were friends and palled around for about a month. During that time, the thought to go on a road trip to “find myself” came to me, so I began preparing my little Audi Quattro (a 1985 runnin’ strong with 350,000 on it) for the trip. My first stop was San Diego where my old Sausalito bar tender was now living, getting sober herself. I packed up the car, made drawers and shelves in the back seat for clothes, pots and pans, and finally left Marin County, planning never to return. I had had it with Marin!

The ironic thing is that I am back, have been since 2005, and now own property in Marin. lol Just goes to show you that you never know where life is going to take you! My trip to San Diego was leisurely, as I stopped at several camp grounds along the way. I would drink my six-pack and go roller blading around the camp grounds, a hobby I had taken up at Brad’s encouragement. (He was a roller blader).

I spent my evenings reading Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch. And drinking, of course. From the book, I formed the belief that there could be a God and that He was constantly sending help and messages my way through other people, songs, ads, etc. I became very open to suggestions by others, seeing that it might be God at work for me.

When I got to San Diego on March 5th, 2001, and spent the night in a Motel 6 in Chula Vista, south of San Diego, I had my last six-pack as I wrote a letter to the man who did not reciprocate my feelings of love. It was a letter explaining the events that occurred that had made me believe he cared, in an attempt to get clarification from him. I became a sloppy and teary-eyed drunk that night, and awoke with a bad hangover, as usual.

I headed to my friend’s on March 6, 2001, and we proceeded getting sober for the next seven days, at which point she claimed she was going to a support group and did I want to join her? As I was taking everything that came along as a sign from God, I said yes. I will never forget that first group meeting I went to. Everyone was going around the circle, claiming to be an alcoholic and giving their name. What would I say when it came my turn!!?? I was terrified to speak.

Miraculously, when my turn came, the words “Hi, I’m Carolyn and I’m an alcoholic,” rolled out of my mouth with no effort or hesitation at all. I cannot tell you what relief that I felt, what weight was lifted form my shoulders. No more hiding. There. Everyone knew, or would know. That meeting was the start of my recovery to a much better place. First though, I had to go through a lot of healing.

It started with looking at my resentments and examining them. After my parents and my ex-husband, came the “white man” for his treatment of and crimes against the Native Americans, and then came the American public for how they treated the Nam vets when they returned home. I was tremendously upset and angry about those things. They were some of the things I drank over.

Speaking of the Vietnam vets, what was my interest in them? Well, I vowed 38 years ago that I would give back to them even a little of what they lost when they returned home. Back then, I had nothing to offer. At this point in my sobriety, I still had nothing, but that changed, and I’ll explain how, tomorrow.  Hope to see you then

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What It Was Like Getting Sober – Part 1

Good morning and welcome back. I am hoping that the last two days of blogging about getting sober have been helpful and useful to you. It’s quite a low point when one realizes it’s time to stop drinking or actually die. At least it was for me. The thing that’s needed  is, being convinced that it’s worth living.

Ah, yes. I remember being in this space for several months, drinking more and more, seeking relief from my grief, my confusion over the unrequited love. Finally realizing I would die if I continued, it was with desperation that I prayed to a God I didn’t even believe in, asking for help. God answered. He sent Brad. Today I know that Brad’s coming into my life was a God-thing; back then I didn’t have a clue. Brad was my angel sent from God.

It got to the point when I was drinking that I’d start my afternoon at about 3 pm, at the local bar. I was there for margueritas… two of them. Then I walked to the grocery store across the street for a six-pack of beer, and then back to the boat I was living aboard at the time. It was an anchor-out, meaning it wasn’t attached to the docks, meaning I had to row back and forth to get to and from it.

I had to transport fresh water to the boat, had to monitor the electrical system and charge the batteries every 2 days, and other such tasks for survival, like watching the anchor in a storm to be sure it didn’t drag, allowing the boat to drift. Thankfully, I never had to reset the anchor in a storm; it always held fast..

I lived aboard from November 2000 to February 2001, through the winter months in Sausalito, California. Winters are pretty rainy and really nasty windy in Sausalito that time of year. I clocked some storms with 80 knot winds. Nighttime most often found me out of beer by about 7 or 8 pm, so I’d row in and go to the liquor store for one more six-pack. Miller Lite. Someone once told me that that was not beer! Well, it did the trick for me quite nicely… Anyway, my rowing in and out during the storms was suicidal.

Back to Brad. He was this young guy, in his early 30’s (I was 48 at the time), who rode his bike past the bar where I sat on the deck every afternoon. We’d wave to each other. One day, soon after I begged to God, Brad stopped and asked how I was. It was when I responded “Just fine,” and he replied gently “No you’re not,” that I began to cry.

We became friends and his friendship helped me start the long journey back from deep, debilitating despair. He helped me gain back a sense of reality, of what was real about my thoughts, my feelings. And I continued to drink, just not with such desperation. I contemplated getting sober many times and was terrified to let go of what was familiar in my life.

Miserable as I was with my drinking and the results of it (severe hangovers every morning), I knew what to expect in life. I didn’t think I could feel my feelings any more than I was already doing when I was drunk, and I was terrified of having to deal with more pain in my heart if I quit drinking. I didn’t know if I could stand it.

What I didn’t know at the time was that, once I asked for help from God, that included helping me through those feelings, giving me relief when they became unbearable, when I wanted to drink again. He brought me a major project to do, to occupy myself in a healthy manner… renovation of a 1982 Dodge full-sized van that I gutted and rebuilt in cherrywood. That became my pride and joy, my masterpiece, my business card when I tried to get varnishing jobs. That all happened in early sobriety… and I have jumped a bit ahead of myself.

This post is getting long and there’s still more to come. So, I shall continue tomorrow. Come back and find out how this relates to the soft spot I have in my heart for the Vietnam Veterans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sobriety Brings an Open Heart – Part 2

Yesterday, I described a bit about what it was like for me prior to sobriety. Today, I’ll continue with my story.

To get sober, I traveled from Sausalito, California, to San Diego, where I lived with my old Sausalito bar tender who was also getting into sobriety. For a year and a half, we lived together and had a healing home. What I mean by that is that we talked a great deal… about our childhoods and the left-over “stuff” from the experience. We both did a great deal of emotional work on ourselves. At times, it was quite difficult…

My “stuff” included a very poor sense of self-worth. I had no esteem what-so-ever. Well, I did, and it was negative. I was in a great deal of shame about who I was as a person, about my body. These were all a result of being shunned until the age of 17 because I was not an intellectual person like my father and two sisters. I was a creative and excelled at writing, crafts, and music. Music was the only thing my father deemed worthy of support. The rest of my abilities were harshly criticized.

When I was 17, I was a lead in our high school musical, and blew the socks off of everyone, including my father. Finally, there was something I did which he praised and encouraged. Finally!! All those years of criticism about who I was took their toll, however, and I was a pretty damaged person. From the young age of 22, I began drinking… like an alcoholic, and I found it numbed my dealings of worthless, hopelessness, and despair.

Back to San Diego… During early days in sobriety, I continued to be in acute grief over the unrequited love, and I tried desperately to figure out how I had mis-interpreted the guy’s signals. Never did figure that one out. To soothe myself so I could sleep, I listened over and over again to a CD of Jens Kruger, a classical banjo player. The beautiful music lulled me to sleep.

During the day, I wrote for hours, and read spiritual stuff voraciously. Melody Beattie, Iyanla VanZant, Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Eckhart Tolle… I couldn’t read fast enough. My heart started opening up and it was acutely painful. To deal with my feelings, I also walked briskly 2-3 times a day and went to 4-5 meetings a day.

It took about five years of sobriety before I felt relief from my grief over the unrequited love, and to begin to feel ok about myself. But before that happened, I was diagnosed with PTSD form all the verbal and physical abuse I’d endured as a child. I had been dealing with PTSD for most of my life until the age of about 53.

Getting diagnosed with PTSD was a major eye-opener. It explained my hyper-vigilance, my startle response, my extreme anger. I sought EMDR treatment and that resolved the PTSD. I still had difficulties, however, with my feelings of despair. I felt the child abuse I had endured was for no purpose, that I had no purpose in life.

These feelings dragged me down and staying sober was difficult during these years. I wanted to numb out so badly! Finally, one day I stumbled across my life’s purpose, which is to tell my story about how I healed, so others might be helped. Since then, my heart has really opened up and I have begun to flourish.

Life has continued to get better from that point forward and my heart has continued to open, to expand. Today, it holds great gratitude for just about everything about my life. I was able to discover how to forgive my parents for how I was treated as a child. I was able to overcome that deep and debilitating grief over the unrequited love.

I have even been able to find self-love, self-worth, and self-esteem. I am so open to others… to helping them out, being of service. I am a happy person today, calm and at peace. Sobriety has brought me healing and with it, an open heart.

Are you dissatisfied with your life, with who you are, bitter about the past?  And are you drinking heavily over it? Have you considered stopping drinking? If not, then have you heard of the glorious riches that occur when you embark upon sobriety? I highly recommend a life lived with an open heart, and if you’re a heavy drinker, I invite you to explore the reasons behind this, and to take action to resolve those feelings. I invite you to open your heart through sobriety. Above all, I wish for you happiness and peace.

 

 

 

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