Comfort in the midst of conflict

I was taking Mercy for a typical walk as the sun was setting. We went through the playground like we have so many times before. There is a group of kids that often come out to pet Mercy. She had her typical interactions with the kids, a few girls and a small boy. The small boy tries to climb on Mercy and so I gently correct him so as for him not to climb on her. Mercy was smart enough to walk away this time.

Suddenly, I heard a woman raise her voice, using profanity as a boy ran off of the playground. Apparently, she was infuriated as to how he was treating the other kids. “He’s just a boy.” said one of the other adults. I am not sure if the person defending the child was his father. The woman continued to yell using profanity as she walked our way. She quietly slipped past Mercy while the other kids were stroking her, obviously in need of her comforting prescense. One of the girls petting Mercy was the woman’s daughter actually. The argument between the woman and the other adults then escalated. One by one the kids bid Mercy farewell.

As I left I could her her yelling and asking her daughter to get her father.

My heart breaks over kids having to witness loud exchanges, or arguments, which can sometimes escalate into domestic disputes. I wish to minister to children and adults who have been victims of domestic violence.

Disputes and conflict, unfortunately, are all too common. It is possible that the lad the woman was yelling after had been bullying other kids. Kids needs to learn responsible behavior and to be taught not to mistreat others, however, it is also not okay for adults to verbally abuse children, regardless of what they have done. I am determined to do something to promote peace, unity and harmony and decrease strife among peoples after I get my counseling degree. I am passionate about peace and I wish to make my contribution to the world by helping others resolve conflict with or without a dog at my side.

Posted in Accuse, Advocacy, Agreement, Anti-Bullying, Arguments, Boys, Bullying, Calling, Change the World, Children, Comfort, Conflict, Cooperation, Counseling, Disapproval, Discord, Displeasure, Division, Dogs, Domestic disputes, Fear, Golden Retriever, Harmony, Healing, Human Animal Bond, In Agreement, Judging, Ministry of Reconciliation, Mission, Paradise Lost, Peace, Peacemaking, Pet therapy, Purpose, Reconciliation, Strife, sweetness, Therapuetic, Therapy, Therapy Dogs, Uncategorized, Unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Striving to be enough?

Often times I struggle to be fit enough for some things. I often feel degraded then rejected and excluded from what is important to me for messing up even with those things I am passionate about. I have been dealing with a lot lately, but I will spare the details for now. We should not feel like have to measure up in order to be included in what is worthwhile to us. I have felt that way however, and consequently, I feel as though I have to strive for achievement in order to live a satisfying life. I often feel degraded and devalued and therefore don’t feel capable of pursuing my endeavors. It need not to be that way. I recently visited a beautiful church, and God told me inside the church that I am not supposed to be able to make my life better. That’s up to Him. I will also believe in myself in Jesus Christ

We are often taught social norms that are contrary to God’s teachings, and me end up with a works mentality or achievement mindset, which combines legalism with materialism. As a result, we strive for control out of fear of losing what is valuable to us. We end up chasing happiness, seeking it in the wrong places. So please, if your children make an honest mistake, please don’t accuse them of doing something serious, lest they feel shamed. It certainly doesn’t empower them. They don’t need to be feeling stressed about being good enough for what matters by the time they are grown up. Unfortunately, it has happened to me, even into my adulthood. I am still seeking God for His grace and other answers and not giving up.

In light of all of this, I also encourage people to spend time with one another eating at one another’s tables instead of being about work and performance. This is the attitude Mary chose while Martha concerned herself with making everything perfect. Obligation driveness  and people pleasing out of fear of being disqualified is what society has wrongly taught us. It is far better to love someone from the heart. Don’t allow anyone to doubt your ability and willingness to serve (at least “correctly”) when you have a servant’s heart who wants to give to people what is best for them. There are no persons succeeding at the expense of the other or rejection or disqualification when we work together in cooperation, unity, and harmony since together, everyone achieves more.

Posted in Acceptance, Accomplishments, Accuse, Accused, Achievement mentality, Achievements, Advocacy, Agreement, American Culture, Animal Assisted Therapy, Approval, Authenticity, Autism Awareness, Being fit enough, Believe, Belonging, Bi-polar Disorder, Burnout, Calling, Challenges, Christianity, cliques, Closed Doors, Cohesion, Common Purpose, Compassion, Competence, Competition, Cooperation, Degraded, Demoralization, Demoralized, Depending on God, Destiny, Devalued, Difficulty, Disappointment, Disapproval, Discord, Discouragement, Discredited, Division, Dog Training, Dreams, Driven, Empowerment, Encouragement, Enrichment, Exclusion, Faith, Fulfillment, Fundamentalism, Giving, Giving up on someone, Goals, God's Glory, God's Love, God's Presence, God's Will, Good enough, Grace, Growth, Guidance, Happiness, Harmony, Healing, Health, Health Care, Heart, Hope, Human Animal Bond, Identity, Important Endeavors, Included, Inclusion, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Jesus Christ, Judging, Leadership, Light, Luke 10:38-42, Making a difference, Making an Impact, Matters of the Heart, Meaningful, Meaningful Life, Meaningful Purpose, Measuring up, Mental Health, Messing up, Ministry of Reconciliation, Mission, Mixed Messages, Opportunities, Overcoming, Passion, Peacemaking, Persistence, Pet therapy, Prayer, Purpose, Qualified, Quality of life, Reconciliation, Rejection, Relationships, Relaxation, Respect, Second chances, Seeking God, Serve, Serving, Setbacks, Shame, Social Norms, Stress, Strive, Struggling, Success, Teamwork, Thriving, Togetherness, Trust, Trusting God, Understanding, Unity, Values, Vocation | Leave a comment

Persistence pays off

After a few setbacks, Mercy and I are back in the saddle. God was dealing with me for a while, purifying my heart and humbling me. Back last November, I decided that I would let my Therapy Dogs Inc., (now Alliance Therapy Dogs) expire. I attended a Pet Partners workshop, then took the Pet Partners evaluation a month later. We passed. I saw a saying on the wall motivating me to give my life to serving God, for the evaluation actually took place in a church. I filed my paperwork, and received my credentials. I found out about the Animal Assisted care program at Inova  Fairfax Hospital through the Pet Partners workshop I attended. It took a while, a few months to go through the volunteer requirements and in the meantime, no other prospects appeared to be opening up like two TB tests and a flu shot. I remember how depressed I felt as I dragged myself into the pharmacy to get the required flu shot. I was wondering, “Is this even going to work out or be worth it?” since it seems that for the last couple of years, my efforts went unrewarded. I have had so many trials and errors both in pursuing activities with Mercy and other areas of my life with roadblocks and such. I also took my fifth class in pursuing my Masters in the behavioral sciences department at Liberty University, Multicultural Competence in Counseling this past winter.12994543_960744733980580_1911693422186824092_n It is only by God’s grace that I made it as far as I did. Even now, my computer seems to be resisting me typing up this blog. It is not how much one appears to be accomplishing on the outside, but what they have had to overcome that counts. I finally made it into the program. My first visit with Mercy to Inova Fairfax was on April 1st. We went this past Friday as well. It was so worth it. Mercy got to visit pediatric patients and get on the bed with them, wagging her tail the whole way, while the patients were overjoyed with smiles and giggles! Stacey Harris has been so helpful in initiating me into the program. Unlike some other therapy dog groups, where there seems to unspoken rules, the requirements of the Animal Assisted Care program are more explicit. I had also been invited to perform a shift at the Accessibility Conference, which took place a McLean Bible Church this past Saturday.

I am learning self-acceptance as I focus on believing that I am lovable, capable  and valuable as I focus on God’s love. I depend on God’s goodness and righteousness. I shall continue to share His love with others and glorify Him as I do His bidding and pursue the highest cause in the universe, His kingdom.

Posted in Access Ministry, Accomplishments, Agape Love, Animal Assisted Therapy, Assessibility Summit, Autism, Autism Awareness, Behavioral Health, Believe, Belonging, Calling, Career, Challenges, Change the World, Children, cliques, Closed Doors, Comfort, Compassion, Competence, Confidence, Counseling, Dealing with Reality, Depending on God, Depression, Destiny, Determination, Difficulty, Divine, Dog Training, Dream, Dreams, Embrace, Empowerment, Encouragement, Enrichment, Faith, Faithfulness, Fulfillment, Future, Goals, God, God's Glory, God's Goodness, God's Grace, God's Kingdom, God's Love, God's Presence, Golden Retriever, Goodness, Grace, Growth, Hard Work, Health, Heart, Hope, Human Animal Bond, Humility, Identity, Important, Important Endeavors, Included, Inclusion, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Inspiration, Jesus Christ, Joy, Kindness, Leadership, Liberty University, Life, Life Change, Life Transformation, Light, Love, Lovelyness, Making a difference, Making an Impact, Meaning, Meaningful Purpose, Mental Health, Mercy, Ministry, Mission, Obedience, Open Doors, Overcoming, Patience, Pay it Forward, Peace, Persistence, Prayer, Priorities, Purpose, Pursuing, Reassurance, Righteousness, Seeking God, Service, Serving, Setbacks, soothe, soothing, Special needs kids, Struggling, Success, sympathy, Tenderness, Therapuetic, Therapy, Therapy Dogs, Trust, Trusting God, Uncategorized, Unspoken Rules, Valuable, Worth, Worthwhile, Worthwhile Endeavors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God is directing me on a new path

I know I have not written in a long time. I have suffered some setbacks with Mercy since my last post. Mercy has needed more training to renew her skills and manners lately. Needless to say, life has been very stressful lately.

I need people who believe in me who will help build me up and set me up for success, instead of other dog people giving up on me, excluding me or ratting me out when Mercy and I are having difficulties. I know that Mercy has great potential. I am made to feel like Mercy and I must stand on the porch because we are facing a few hiccups. The lack of grace in the dog world is more than I can stand sometimes. It makes me feel as though I do not matter. Some people involved with therapy dogs will devalue rather than compassionately help someone to overcome who is slipping up. What I really need is more understanding and support, not penalization. For one, I struggle with social skills because I have a form of high functioning autism as I mentioned before on my blog. I am also working on dealing with fear drivenness, shame and arrested emotional development from my past.

Thankfully, I have found a dog trainer 30 miles away who will help me get Mercy back on track.

I have strongly considered giving up my Therapy Dogs Inc. (Now Alliance Therapy Dogs) credentials and trading them in for Pet Partners credentials. Yes, they are stricter, for good reason, but they are also more supportive. If you are sincerely working with your dog, doing your best to be a competent therapy dog handler, some local Pet Partners instructors/evaluators will work with you to ensure success. I was a Pet Partner 10-12 years ago with my previous dog, a Lab/German Shepherd mix named Coal. I retired Coal from therapy service after I got married in 2006. Coal then died in 2009 when my son was only 3 months old, so I was without a dog for 2 1/2 years before I obtained Mercy. Since it had been a long while, I need to go through the steps all over again as a new Pet Partners handler. I attended a Pet Partners class yesterday as one of the required steps to get my Pet Partners credentials. The woman who taught it was awesome. In fact she was the evaluator who passed Coal in 2003 and again in 2005. Leslie Horton is everything I have been looking for in a mentor. She has high standards for excellence, but she is also fiercely loyal to her volunteers, working with people, not giving up on them, even those who have gotten a Not Ready on their evaluations. She runs the Animal Assisted Care program at Inova Fairfax hospital and has been running it for 15 years. She is such an expert in animal behavior and is also understanding and patient with people. She is amazing. She has the life experience that has helped her to be more compassionate and accepting of people from all walks of life. She recognized me right away.

I am having my Pet Partners evaluation with Mercy on December 5th (Not with Leslie). I also have an interview with someone at a program for troubled teens on December 11th. Things are looking up. I could still use all of your prayers. Encouragement will be very helpful to me at this time. I have my work cut out for me over the next month to get Mercy in tip top shape for the Pet Partners evaluation. I still have to get another copy of her rabies certificate and a cat brush among other things to do to prepare for the evaluation. I will certainly keep you all posted as to how things turn out.

Posted in Acceptance, Animal Assisted Therapy, Approval, Arrested Emotional Development, At risk youths, Autism, Autism Awareness, Believe, Bi-polar Disorder, Calling, Career, Challenges, Cohesion, Comfort, Common Purpose, Compassion, Competence, Comrade, Confidence, Cooperation, Disappointment, Dog Training, Dogs, Dreams, Encouragement, Faith, Fear, Goals, God, Grace, Hope, Hurt, Love, Mental Health, Outcasts, Purpose, Rejection, Respect, Second chances, Setbacks, Shame, social skills, Stress, Struggling, Support, Understanding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Oppression Is An Epidemic In Our Culture

I wish to combat social oppression in my ministry.


In a land that professes to be a place for “the free and the brave,” we have a society that is full of the “oppressed and the scared.”  We read in the Times Dispatch where several employees of Henrico County Public Schools spoke out about living and working in fear for their jobs.  They voiced how this fear drives them to silence, even when they know that they lives of children are in danger or that the welfare of a peer is compromised by those that are the “oppressors.”  

Why Henrico’s board and superintendent are sleeping at night, knowing that they are cultivating an atmosphere of fear that will not even stand up to save the life of a child is unknown to us.  They should be ashamed of themselves.  Only bullies and dictators rule through fear.

Our hearts go out to those employees in Henrico County Public Schools…

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People With Depression Are Strong, Not Weak: Here’s my case 


1. You’ve had to struggle. Struggle makes people grow in strength, wisdom and compassion. When we are happy, we can relax. You’ve had to constantly work. You are a better person for that, and incredibly strong because of it.

2. You’ve had to deal with stigma, misconceptions, ignorance, and your well-meaning friend that keeps telling you her cousin Mary cured her depression with yoga. You’ve opened up to someone about your mental illness and they’ve changed the subject because they’re not able to hear it. You’ve had to deal with a lot of total crap and that takes strength.

3. You’ve had to deal with a double standard. Joe Jenkins broken his leg and he’s so brave. Everyone is bringing him flowers, signing his cast, and making him apple pie. You broke your brain and everyone is ignoring you. You are strong, dude.

4. You’ve had to keep showing up…

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I Wrote A Musical About Mental Illness: video, more info, how to get involved!

This woman speaks my language!


Ten months ago I started writing a musical about mental illness. (See video below where I explain more about the show, share clips, and let you know how to get involved) I started writing the show on the notes app in my iphone (on the subway) on my commute to NYU. Part of me thought the project would never see the light of day and be more like just a diary for me. (Of course my diary would be a huge, wacky musical- it’s so “me”) What I was writing was so personal, and I didn’t think I was ready to say, “Hey everyone! I know this world of mental illness because I’ve lived it!” It made me feel scared and vulnerable.

Eventually I realized that sometimes we need to trade fear and silence for bravery and making noise, especially when our writing may help others and serve a bigger…

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Miracles and Beautiful Adventures

DSC_0978Our trip to Blue Ridge Mountains this past weekend was breathtaking. I finally got to slow down and really enjoy the moments of our time together like a child. Granted that God had to intervene a few times to get us out of a few jams. The divine miracles that God performed whether to overcome an attack of the enemy, or to just enhance the moments, were awesome! God showed me some awesome things personal just to me that I cannot explain. the most memorable time was when we were hiking up to a waterfall with various other waterfalls in the river along the way. My son Joshua and Mercy explored the rocks and the pools of water at the base of the smaller waterfalls on the way to and from the main waterfall. There were so many divine moments throughout this adventure, including being able to see deer in the glowing setting sun. I could feel the presence of God and when we played a Christian station, all of the relevant sayings and lyrics from songs came at just the right time. I felt the most alive as I had felt in such a long time.


While in Southwest Virginia, we visited Liberty University, where I am currently taking online classes for my second Master’s in Human Service’s Counseling. We went on to the Monogram and God kept us safe as we climbed the rocks.


Anyway, the time at Roaring Run Falls in Eagle Rock Virginia, not far from Buchannon VA, was so ethereal, epic and adventurous. Mercy and Joshua were looking out for each other as my son was living a boy’s adventure tale. They were inseparable!

Posted in Acceptance, Adventure, Art, Autism, Beauty, Believe, Boys, Childlikeness, Divine, Encouragement, Epic, Ethreal, Faith, Golden Retriever, Human Animal Bond, Inspiration, Intimacy, Love, Lovelyness, Mental Health, Mercy, Nature, Refreshment, Rejuvenation, Sacred, sweetness, Tenderness, Therapuetic, Well-Being, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Child’s Heart – Love of Animals

I care about the hearts of children. Maybe it’s because my own heart is wounded. Deep down, I am still a hurting little girl. God is using this to help me identify with and relate better to children. Sadly, there seems to be a lot of disdain for childlikeness in society. Maybe, not as much now, but the old adgage “Children should be seen and not heard.” still remains, unfortunately. Authoritarians, and parents who themselves were emotionally abused tend to be the least understanding of children’s loves, desires, hopes, needs, wants, dreams, longings, feelings, hurts. etc. As an adult I still feel a though I am on the receiving end of people not understanding my loves, hopes, hurts, struggles, battles, dreams, etc.

Anyway, I was visiting a friend’s apartment to have dinner with her and swim in her complex’s pool. Her son, who is emotionally troubled told me about a couple of stray kittens in the drainage pipe. He was not kidding. I was trying to figure out whether they were feral or not. James, (not his actual name) was able to pet the kitten and he picked her up too. Normally, I look the other way when I see stray cats, but this one kitty, although shy, was still adoptable from what I could tell. When I see this child caring for the kitty, I cannot help but care and identify with his sensitive nature towards her. Children’s love of animals and other forms of nature is a form of childlikeness. It is to be praised and acclaimed, because I still love animals too, but I am especially biased towards Golden Retrievers. I called the local cat rescue, and left a message since it was Saturday. I still have yet to ask my friend what happened, whether or not the cats were rescued.

I am still trying to overcome adults having disapproval and displeasure towards what made me happy. I don’t have exact memories, but when I see a child berated in public, I cringe. I admit, I am no perfect parent either. I still lose my patience towards my son. He has autism, so it is even more of a challenge to keep him happy. I long to give emotional support and continue to give Joshua the proper emotional development he needs, but I am emotionally troubled myself, and I need for God’s love to truly set me free from fear and shame. I know that God will do a wonderful work in me, resolving my hurts, and meeting my emotional needs, so that I might pay it forward and help other hurting children feel loved, using my dog Mercy, when it is the Lord’s timing for me to do so.

Posted in Advocacy, affection, affirmation, Alley cats, Animal Assisted Therapy, Animals, At risk youths, Beauty, Believe, Calling, cats, Change the World, Childlikeness, Children, Comfort, Cooperation, Desires, Destiny, Disappointment, Disapproval, Disdain, Displeasure, Dreams, Embrace, empathy, Enrichment, Hopes, Hurting, Intimacy, Kindness, Love, Nature, needy, Passion, Pet therapy, Rescue, stray cats, sympathy, Tenderness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giving the mentally ill access to healing and a future

I have been trying to find a psychiatrist to help my husband overcome his broken heart for so many years now, but to no avail. The latest one we tried, which I was really counting being the one who could finally understand him and give him the true compassionate care and help he needed was the exact opposite. We were very discouraged to say the least. The whole operation was a big bureaucratic mess. Ever since ObamaCare came into the picture, more doctors left the Blue Cross/Blue Shield network (My husband had to leave his previous good psychiatrist because they dropped Blue Cross) Those psychiatrists who remain are so full they are no longer accepting new patients. It’s a nightmare! In this office where my husband went, they treated everyone like they were cattle, “next!”. Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating, but I have been desperately counting on my husband finding the psychiatrist that will help him. I have employer’s insurance Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Now it feels like Blue Cross/Blue Shield is the new Medicaid, where working middle class people now have to compete with previously uninsured people for the same doctors, while the well to do see the more reliable high quality doctors middle class people used to have or may never have had. I know what Medicaid is like because I used to be poor, and I dug myself out of poverty by the grace of God. ObamaCare, while giving healthcare access to the uninsured, also caused quality healthcare to become more out of reach for working people as good doctors drop out of insurance networks since ObamaCare includes Blue Cross Blue Shield, which makes it more of a hassle for doctors when a whole slew of people come pouring into the office that didn’t used to come. I’ve noticed a doctor I was seeing since before went into effect now has an overstuffed waiting room. He still gives great care, and he is a compassionate doctor for me. Unfortunately, he can not help my husband. So we’ve looked through the list of every psychiatrist from A-Z literally that were on our insurance plan. I believe insurance companies and drug companies are paying low quality doctors who are only in it for the money to give substandard care to as many people as possible, not giving them the dignity they deserve, keeping them incompetent and stuck in a rut, so that nobody who is really troubled can become well or whole again, causing them to remain unable to make a better life for themselves and disallowing them a chance at a more meaningful future? They might as well be put away in an institution for life. I have trying to get a psychiatrist who really understands my husband and be his ally in his healing for years and years. Ironically, the doctors who are not in it for the money are not as likely to accept insurance. Unfortunately many people who are dependent on their insurance are no longer able to access quality doctors. I don’t mean to be political. But my whole point is that the healthcare system treats people like they are expendable rather than people of value. True, the previously uninsured now have access to healthcare, but it is relatively of very low quality. They are happy to have a doctor at all even if they are terribly inconvenienced. has become the new Medicaid.

I visited the National Holocaust Museum and Memorial and in there I learned that under Hitler’s government, they put the mentally ill away so they would not be in the way of the rest of society. They were also killed in institutions.

Now the middle class patients in this country who also have mental illness are at greater risk of becoming have nots since quality behavioral healthcare has become out of reach for them while low income people especially those without connections are still denied what they really need and therefore have less hope of bettering their lives and are also at greater risk of falling through the cracks of society as well. ObamaCare has not improved this dynamic. Low income people who did not have access to quality healthcare before, still do not have it. The whole system is rigged to keep hurting brokenhearted people excluded from privileged society.  There is now less hope for struggling mentally ill people to get well. I am not going to say in every case that people with certain kinds of insurance cannot have access to quality healthcare. It is just becoming more evident that quality mental health care is becoming more out of reach for those who need it to keep functioning at their jobs who have managed to find a career for example (sometimes by the skin of their teeth) or those who need to find some kind of hope for healing to have the best chance of doing what they’ve been created by God to do.

Our system is broken. As are many people who are troubled, hurting and lonely who are at risk of giving up on themselves due to others not caring. I see that everybody is looking out for number #1. Certain people in the healthcare industry do not care about the true needs, hopes, dreams, desires, values of those who are struggling to fulfill their God given longings. It is not unlike people from low income families being unable to afford a college education so they are at greater risk of staying hopelessly in poverty.

So much more could be done for the kingdom of God if the right people got the right services needed to better their lives or to make a difference in the lives of others. There are a lack of services, programs, ministries to give people the hand ups that would truly benefit them. There are people struggling with mental illness due to unresolved hurts that they needlessly went through. Only affluent people are able to access high quality care including mental health treatment. Meanwhile, the people who really need help are being neglected, disrespected, devalued, undermined, unsupported. It appears as though het devil is sucking the life right out of this world. I want to do something about it before it’s too late.

Only a miracle can help my husband now. I am still relying on God to come through for us, for now we are in a position to receive a miracle. I believe God has called us to a life a privilege so we can give the help to others that they really truly need that other organizations, agencies, non profit mental health ministries and especially government sponsored healthcare doctor’s offices may not be willing to give. I promise to God that if He will come to our aid in our time of need, that we will pay it forward it to others and provide help to them to get back on their feet so they can be empowered, lifted up and equipped to do something worthwhile and meaningful for the kingdom of God according to the desires that God placed in their hearts that they otherwise would not get, for God has not called them to a life of poverty or meaninglessness.

Posted in Behavioral Health, Broken Hearted, Calling, Compassion, Destiny, Division, Exclusion, Have Nots, Health Care, HealthCare Marketplace, Hurting, Love, Meaning, Meaningful Life, Mental Health, Middle Class, Passion, Purpose, Support, Troubled, Valued, Worthwhile | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment