Choose Love

man-wearing-a-black-face-mask-3952245
Last month I unloaded my grief and frustration at our current pandemic on this page. Today, I have grief and frustration of a different kind. I am grief stricken and heartbroken over the continuing racism in this country which has led to more murder at the hands of those we trust to protect all citizens. I am frustrated by the responses of some people I know, and some I do not know. They are the folks who claim not to see color, who declare their discomfort at wearing a mask to protect those around them from an insidious, mysterious virus that is also killing people of color at a disproportionate rate.

I will not pretend to know all there is to know about racism. I don’t know even a fraction of what it is to be afraid to walk or jog or eat an ice cream cone or drive my car in traffic or any other normal, everyday task of life. But I do know that being afraid of doing those simple things is just wrong. I also know that it is wrong for large groups of people to be at a higher risk of infection with COVID-19 simply because of the color of their skin. And it is wrong to say you don’t see color and believe that makes you, “not a racist.” In fact, it is just the opposite.

This country has a long, complicated and ugly history when it comes to the treatment of people of color. That history must be acknowledged and recognized for what it is. And that begins first with, “seeing color.” We must see that which is in front of us. We must see that, while we should all be entitled to equal protection under the law, that simply is not the case for anyone who is not white. Surely this current pandemic has proven that to be true. And yet, there are those who will deny that truth and who will continue to move about their lives without wearing a mask, without concern for those around them, all in the name of freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to do whatever makes them comfortable.

But real freedom comes with responsibility. We are not free to yell, “fire,” in a crowded theater. We are not free to fly on an airplane without passing through security. We are not free to drive in our cars without wearing a seat belt. And we should not be free to treat some people as less than and deny them basic protections because of the color of their skin.

Yesterday morning on The Today Show, I watched an interview with Reverend Michael Curry, presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, and I found some comfort there. He stressed the importance of recognizing that all people are, “children of God.” Regardless of individual spiritual tradition, or no tradition, I believe his meaning is that each of us is linked together as members of the human family. He invoked the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools. The choice is chaos or community.” Bishop Curry said the way forward is through love and through working together for the good of each of us. And, he finished by showing his idea of a symbol for love. The symbol: a mask. He said, “I wear it to protect you, and you wear it to protect me. And when we do that, we all win.” I choose love. I choose community. I choose to wear a mask.

 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the current Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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Here we are in the middle of an absolute world-wide crisis.  Can this be the “Apocalypse” predicted for such a long time by so many?  Maybe.  I know many of us have suspected “something” was coming, while trying so VERY hard NOT to focus on it, NOT to think about it, NOT to put energy on it.  Many of us believe in the power of intention; What we focus on, we get more of.  Just as discussed in the book/movie “The Secret,” we have been FOCUSING on this virus moment by every moment, day by every day for nearly four months now.  And what keeps happening?  Numbers look a bit better, so we feel hopeful.  We talk about loosening up.  Then it all becomes a big (political) discussion, and numbers rise.  I truly believe it is indeed the Law of Attraction.  That is to say, the more we focus on this, the more we’re gonna get.  Am I crazy?  Well, yes, many of my friends do think so I know, but they also think I might be right…

Here’s a thought: How ‘bout we all get out in the fresh air and sunshine like our mothers and grandmothers used to tell us to do?  Eat our oranges.  Take our Airborne (or Emergen-C, if you prefer), add some extra zinc, fresh green veggies, and think positively.  I mean, what have we got to lose?  It just might work.  What happened to the reports back in February of hospitals using vitamin C intravenously?  That made sense.  True, too many people have lost their lives to this terrible debacle, but many more have overcome it.  They survived.

There was a song about accentuating the positive.  Remember it?

Indeed, the economy has tanked because of all this, but we’ll get through that part as well.  There will be new and amazing opportunities coming out of all of this.  Right now, families are getting to spend much needed time together, quality time.  Home schooling has gotten a real go.  The technology we all love is helping to get us through by keeping us connected.  We ARE going to get through this, dear ones.  I know we are.  And we will have learned so much about life and ourselves.  We’ll create new and better ways of living and embracing change.  After all, as it is said, “The only constant in life – is change.”  Peace.

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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Hero Fatigue

A few years ago, everyone wearing a U.S. military uniform was called a hero.  Now every firefighter, police officer, EMT, nurse and doctor on the frontlines of the covid-19 pandemic is called a hero.  It’s inexpressibly fatiguing.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a hero as “one that shows great courage”.  Doing your job should not be equivalent to showing great courage.  Undoubtedly, there are times when individuals in all these professions (or any other) go beyond what is expected of them and perform on a heroic level. But calling everyone a hero diminishes truly heroic action.

It’s like elementary school sports where every child gets a medal or an award to “build self-esteem”.  But it doesn’t.  Children know when they haven’t put in the extra effort that would justify receiving an award.  Knowing they haven’t earned their award can lead to shame and insecurity that undermines their confidence the rest of their lives.

If a child can recognize hollow praise, so can an adult. Being called a hero heaps tremendous pressure on the recipient. Must the individual take outrageous risks every work shift in order to perform deeds worthy of being called a hero?

What of the emotional toll?  Heroes are generally portrayed as individuals without fear or self-doubt or exhaustion.  But everyone has fears and self-doubts. Everyone suffers exhaustion.  Trying to live up to being heroes may deter emergency response and medical people from seeking help to cope with their fears and depression lest they be thought unheroic.

Some might see our hero worship as acceptable based on another of Webster’s definitions for a hero as “an object of extreme admiration and devotion”.  Certainly we can admire the emergency response and medical staff for continuing to do their jobs despite the danger of infection and possible death due to infection.  But those risks existed, even if they are now enhanced, the day they signed up for the job.

I’ve read many interviews given by World War II medal winners who are now labeled as heroes.  Each of them denied being a hero. They said “I just did my job” or “I didn’t think about what I was doing, I just knew I had to do it”.

Let’s show our appreciation for the emergency responders and the medical teams working the front lines of the covid-19 pandemic by reducing the pressure we put on them.   Let’s drop all the hyperbolic hollow talk about “heroes” and just let them do their jobs.

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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The Other Side of the Couch – Goodbye to the Music

 

“It’s a lesson too late for the learning, made of sand, made of sand

In the wink of an eye my soul is turning, in your hand, in your hand

Are you going away with no word of farewell,

Will there be not a trace left behind

Well, I could have loved you better, didn’t mean to be unkind,

You know that was the last thing on my mind.”

 

This song by Neil Diamond has been playing in my mind off and on for days.  I know it is meant to be a song about a lover who is leaving someone behind – but what it is meaning to me is something else.

I learned this week that the process of making music – of singing in a choir, or playing in a symphony, or listening to a congregation singing hymns, or attending a concert – all cause greatly-increased possibilities of exposure to the Corona virus.  Going to a play is also part of this problem – the projection required to be heard in a theater increases the risks of infection.  Time exposed plus being in a closed environment plus the presence of people who may have the virus but don’t yet know it results in vectors of disease.

We have endured so many losses due to this pandemic – loss of control, loss of the illusion of control, loss of being able to be with and hug our loved ones and friends, loss of safety, loss of income in many cases.  My personal loss involves being unable to be close to my daughter and granddaughter – she is only two and would not understand social distancing. Losing music – that really was the last thing on my mind.

Finding out about the music and about live theater has really thrown me.  Being able to sing together is such a wholesome thing, such a joyful experience.  People who sing together experience a symmetry of rhythms – blood pressure and heart rates synchronize, breathing synchronizes.  Studies indicate that group singing results in increases in positive affect and decreases in production of cortisol (the stress hormone), as well as increases in immune functions.  To lose all this to a virus – incredibly sad.

It feels as though the music has gone – gone in the wink of an eye, with no opportunity for farewell.  Who knew that mid-March would mark the end of symphony as we know it, the end of church choirs, the end of group singing?

I would like to come up with something positive and hopeful at this point.  However, the truth is I do not feel hopeful.  I feel sad, and bereft, and lost – and loss of the music is part of that reality.

I can listen to music – and I do.  I can sing, and I do.  It is the creation of music together that is lost.  Creation of music in real time, in the same room, breathing the same air.  This will not come again – not until there is a vaccine and better treatment.  The time will come – but oh, I am so sad for now.

“Could have loved you better – didn’t mean to be unkind,

You know that was the last thing on my mind.”

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

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Pandemic Overload

blue and white face mask on white laptop computer

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Okay everyone, I am about to unleash a whole pile of emotions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the new “Safe-at-home,” lifestyle we’re all now living. I say, “lifestyle,” because as far as I can see, life as I knew it is officially over. Yes, we will eventually leave our homes and go back to work, to shop, to gather in small groups and maybe even larger ones. But honestly, can anyone imagine that our pre-pandemic life is out there somewhere, waiting for us? Will we ever think the same way about a cough, a sneeze, a fever? Will we ever not think that the stranger next to us in line at Starbucks might be carrying a virus? Will we ever hug someone who does not live in our house without asking for permission? Will we ever forget that for a time we were confined to our homes, isolated from our children, grandchildren, siblings, friends and extended family? Will I ever erase the images of people dying alone in a hospital with only a doctor or nurse for comfort?

For most of the last couple of months, I have cycled through the stages of grief over and over. From shock, to denial, to bargaining, anger and acceptance and back again, sometimes not even in that order. I’ve observed the social media accounts of people I know, and don’t know, who seem to be enjoying this time as some sort of staycation. And yes, everyone copes differently. I suppose if my children were young and needed to be schooled, entertained and otherwise taught the lessons that are part and parcel of this historic time, I’d also find the wherewithal to be a good model. But honestly, I just can’t seem to shake the grief and despair that I carry all day and most of the night. My usual exuberant energy feels dampened, my sunny outlook is overshadowed by sadness and my heart literally feels heavy.

I read once that trauma can be characterized as splitting life into two parts: life before the occurrence and life after. I believe our world is experiencing one giant collective trauma that will forever divide our lives in two. There will undoubtedly be other traumas that come along and supersede this one, much like my parents’ generation defined life before the Great Depression and life after and then, life before World War II and life after. And on and on and on…I. Hate. It.

Are there lessons to be learned from this crisis? Good that will come from all the deaths, the risks on the part of first responders and others who face danger everyday delivering essential goods and services? Who knows? There are those who believe this is some sort of cosmic payback for our collective bad behavior and disrespect of each other and our planet. Some believe this is nature’s way of thinning the herd and cleansing our overpopulated world. Some even believe this is all a hoax perpetrated by one political party or the other, one government or another, this or that corporate giant. I have become distrustful of most of the information I hear or read. There are a few sources I rely on, but I’m often skeptical of even those.

So how does all of this stack up for me? I still don’t know. Every day is different. I’m working on finding some peace, but it’s a struggle. I dread leaving my house, but when I do, I feel a bit better. As for some sort of deeper meaning, I just can’t see it, but maybe in time I will. Maybe it’s all just a senseless tragedy with no explanation or meaning to be found. I do hope that I can learn to be more patient, more compassionate, more accepting of things I can’t control. Mostly I hope someday to again feel safe in the world.

 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the current Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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Hi, my name is Frankie.

 

Yes, I’m Frankie and I’m going to a new home.  I’m pretty excited about it.  I’ll miss my foster parents and their doggie family, but I’m going to have a sister and she needs me.  We both came from bad situations, so we’re really lucky someone with a big heart, a nice home, and LOTS of treats is going to make us a family.

My new sister, Winnie, was put out of her home to roam the streets for weeks until some folks picked her up.  She has a chip (my foster folks are getting me one for my new person) so Winnie’s rescuers were able to find her owners and return her, but imagine their surprise when her people told them, “Oh, we don’t want her anymore.  That’s why we turned her out.”  They just threw her outside and wouldn’t let her back in!  Here’s what her scared little self looked like then.

Well, I actually ran away from home.  My people were very mean to me, so I started running to the next door neighbors who have all kinds of rescued pets.  They were very nice to me, but always felt like they had to send me home.  Then my “people” brought a Pit Bull home and that dog nearly ate me up.  I fought back, though, and made it to my borrowed family next door.  The vet patched me up and, there’s a bit more to it, but let’s just say, the “neighbors” didn’t let me go back to those “people.”

So, as I understand it, and I understand human speak pretty well, the neighbor’s friend has a friend who helps children like me find new and better homes.  But, guess what!  This time, she had been thinking about finding a pal for her Winnie! Poor Winnie has pretty bad separation anxiety, which is understandable, and whenever her person leaves for work and stuff, she gets real upset and frets while she’s away.  Well, Winnie and I got to meet and we got along quite well.  She even let me play with her “Squeaky,” which is pretty special I hear.  When she and Jan get back home, I’m going to live with them.  I can hardly wait!

Stay tuned for updates…

Love,

Frankie

 

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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What’s Your Angle?

One of the most obnoxious teachers I ever had actually said something useful that I never forgot.  He told us that every writer has biases which will influence the way the story is told. He said we should always look beyond the words on the page to the motivations of the writer.

My teacher’s advice rings true today.  Our country seems to be splitting between those who watch and believe only Fox News and those who watch and believe only CNN.  Few people admit to watching both TV news channels.  The fear is that our country is splitting into two warring factions with little in common.

While it’s difficult and annoying to watch people talk past each other, it’s not a new phenomenon.  Our country has always been split between opposing viewpoints. Most towns had a local version of the Fox News and CNN split because they had two hometown newspapers.

Nashville had two hometown newspapers, The Tennessean and the Nashville Banner. The papers were owned by men who disliked each other and always took opposing sides on every hot topic of the day. Subscribing to both papers would have allowed readers to see two angles to every story, particularly the political news.  But it’s much more likely that readers subscribed to the paper that aligned with their own beliefs.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Any psychologist or anthropologist can point to countless studies showing how reluctant we are to change our views.  We tend to select friends who agree with our worldview.  We also choose either Fox News or CNN based on which channel supports our existing ideas.

We’re not going to change human nature.  That means we’re going to continue living in a country full of people who choose to listen to the news sources that support their beliefs.  The most we can do is to stop vilifying the people on the other side of the divide.

People on the other side of the divide are not stupid or vicious or uncaring.  They simply have life experiences that have taught them to believe differently.   That’s their motivation, their angle on the story.

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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The Other Side of the Couch – Denial in the Time of Pandemic

As the corona virus pandemic enters its third month, the United States continues to struggle with a coordinated response to the situation.  A strong federal response has been hampered by misinformation, ignored information, and struggles for power.  States have been essentially left to go it alone and as a result have been caught in some cases in a bidding war with other states to secure the essential protective equipment needed by health care workers and the essential medical supplies needed by patients.

The economic impact of the shut-downs required by social distancing have had catastrophic effects on the financial well-being of millions – and so often, the people who are most affected are those who can least afford it.  Small business owners, members of the entertainment and hospitality industry, artists, actors and musicians, servers, bartenders, taxi drivers, Lyft and Uber drivers – all are suffering.

On an individual level the requirements of social distancing have created huge holes in the normal experiences of family and friends.  Internet virtual get-togethers, carport Happy Hours with neighbors at least 6 feet apart, church and synagogue services played to empty sanctuaries – all underline the radical changes forced on normal social engagement.

People are reacting to all this with a variety of activities and responses.  Some, early on in the shutdown, just seemed to ignore the reality – examples of this were seen on the beaches of Florida as teenagers partied on, ignoring the very real possibilities of infecting others with the virus.  Some became so panicked at the idea of being shut in that they began “panic buying” with the resultant shortage nationwide of toilet paper. Some immediately decided to stay at home before such an order even came down.

Something that I am seeing, and that, as a therapist, I see with a significant amount of concern, is the rush to finding the good in this pandemic.  Please don’t misunderstand – I do think that it is useful to find ways to be grateful even in the midst of turmoil and pain.  Yes, I am grateful that even though I cannot see my family, I can “see” them through technology.  Yes, I am grateful that the stores are still stocked, although not as fully as I am used to.  Yes, I am grateful for the beautiful spring and the lighter footprint on the planet that humans staying indoors has offered.

However, we human beings are often too quick to move to the good – because we are SO UNCOMFORTABLE WITH DEALING WITH LOSS, PAIN AND DEATH.  This epidemic is making us confront the reality of mortality in very direct ways.  People we know and love are at risk.   Every day we hear that more people have died.  By the time this is contained most citizens of the United States will know someone who has died as a result of this pandemic.

We don’t like to think about this.  We don’t like to face it.  We don’t like to recognize that mortality is staring us in the face.  It could be you.  It could be me.  It could be a close loved one.  We just don’t know.

What to do in the face of this?  I would say, face it.  Grieve it, be angry about it, fight with it – but don’t ignore it and move too quickly into the platitudes of gratitude.  This virus is a bear, and unless we face it and its implications head on, we will not heal from the trauma.  It seems easier to turn our heads, to look for the lemonade, to skate lightly over the painful truth.  My fear is that in so doing, we will lose the important and central lesson in this whole experience.

We are mortal.  We will die.  We do not know when or how.  Facing that truth makes living every single moment that we are given in this life a sacred time to be treasured.  May we all face this reality, because in so doing, we can transform our way of living and our relationships with one another.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

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Why is This Year Different?

traditional jewish matzo

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

This Wednesday evening marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover.  It is a well-known fact that it is also the most celebrated of all the holidays.  The observance lasts eight days during which we focus on the theme of our people’s exodus from slavery in Egypt, crossing the Red Sea in a hurry with little time to prepare.  The first night consists of a festive meal, or Seder, when we retell the story through questions and answers, singing, eating and drinking four cups of wine.  The point of this exercise is to both remind us that freedom is precious, and to teach the younger generations about our story.

One of the highlights of every Seder is the asking of The Four Questions.  These questions are designed to provoke discussion and thought around the significance of the holiday.  Usually asked by the youngest person at the table, the refrain is always, “Why is this night different from all other nights.”  The answers to the four questions are the heart of the rest of the Seder.  But the overarching theme is always: freedom.

 

Over the last couple of weeks, I admit I’ve engaged in bouts of self-pity.  I have felt afraid for myself and my family.  I have been depressed about the changes in my life.  I have been angry, too, that those in leadership who could have mitigated some of the damage, did nothing.  And I have felt sad and helpless.  These negative thoughts and feelings are foreign to me.  I am usually an optimistic person who can find fun and joy in most places.  But our current state of affairs has been really tough for me to accept.

A therapist would probably say I’m moving through the stages of grief, and that’s likely the case.  I know from grief.  My people know from grief.  Generation after generation of Jewish people have been chased around the globe, experiencing plagues, famine, Holocaust and antisemitism.  And we are not alone in this.  Other cultures and peoples have faced similar obstacles and discrimination.  I can’t speak for the others, but I can speak for myself and my people.  The one thing we do to defend ourselves against the darkness is to survive.  We survive by carrying on our traditions.  We survive by being joyful.  We survive by telling the stories.  We survive by holding tight to each other, even if it is only in memory.

Most years we host a large group of friends and family to join our Seder.  I spend weeks planning and preparing the ritual foods and the traditional festive delicacies.  This year, obviously, the usual crowd will not be joining us live in our home.  It was with a heavy heart that a couple of weeks ago I emailed everyone to cancel.  And it was at that point that I really felt the enormity of what we are dealing with today.  I was also able to relate to the story of my ancestors and the challenges they faced.  Personally, my world has become pretty small and my life has slowed to a pace way out of my comfort zone.  But we will have our Seder.  We will include my son in California via Zoom.  I will make my chicken soup the way my mother taught me.  My husband, who will now be home, will make the brisket.  We will drink four cups of wine (really, the best part).  And, we will retell the story of our exodus and our journey to freedom.

The final prayer of the Seder meal is one in which we express our hope that next year we will celebrate in Jerusalem.  For me, the meaning is not to literally be in Jerusalem, although that would be amazing.  I think of Jerusalem as my spiritual home, the place where I can feel free to express my faith and tradition.  But my actual home, here in Nashville, is also a place where I can feel free to be myself and to enjoy life with my family and friends.  So, this year when we say the prayer, I will be thinking ahead to next Passover, when I can once again open my home and share the story of our survival and freedom with 30 of our nearest and dearest.  In the meantime, stay healthy, stay home and wash your hands.  xo

 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the current Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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So I received this yesterday,

…in an email from an ex.

Don't Worry

 Yeah, perfect.

 

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

Like what you’ve read?  Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit.  Thanks!

1 Comment

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