A Letter to My “Doctor”/Abuser

 

“Two times a week, I work right across from the doctor’s office, where I was sexually assaulted.”

I said this phrase a few months ago to a friend over dinner.  She nodded and asked, “How do you feel when you pass the office every week?”

“I’m able to stay in the present moment, but I still do feel sadness and anger.  Sometimes I want to walk into the office, and just yell at her.

Other times, I take several deep breaths & just pray, ‘I hope she doesn’t hurt anyone else today.'”

I still pray this prayer twice per week, as I drive across 116th Street in downtown Fishers.  I felt this prayer bubbling up again in my body as I watched the impact statements from the brave women sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar.

I let myself watch the impact statements for a few hours, letting myself cry, letting myself see the bravery, see the righteous anger, see justice coupled with compassion from Judge Aquilina.

As I watched these women and girls share their unique stories, we also all had the same common themes.  I saw myself; and I knew that if the circumstances allowed, I would be the one standing up, telling my story.

Yet, I also know this.  I may never get that chance.  However, I can choose to heal anyway.  And I have chosen to heal anyway.  Here is a letter written to my “doctor”/abuser.

Dear D_____________,

I wonder if you’re scared right about now.  I wonder if you were scared when the Indy Star wrote the article about Larry Nassar, who used the same abusive techniques that you use in your practice.  I wonder if you were scared of being found out.  You knew that USAG, housed in Indianapolis, was covering up the abuse, and intuitively, I know that this allowed you to flourish.

I wonder if you watched the impact statements and had flashbacks of all the people you’ve abused under the guise of medical treatment.  I wonder if one day you will ever feel any remorse.  I wonder what you would have said to me, if I would have allowed you in the room, when I met with the head doctor who just defended your sorry ass.  I wonder if you treated your daughter the same way you treated me.

I will never have answers to these questions.

There are some things I know about you though without you ever having to utter another word to me again.  I know that you’re a human being whose entire body is filled with intense shame, whether that is something you will ever acknowledge or not.  You would not abuse if you engaged the journey of self-healing.

I know that you have not accepted your sexuality.  For the things you said in that room were shaming of anyone who isn’t straight.  You would not openly shame diverse sexualities if you were secure in your own.

I know that you’re terrified to heal yourself.  To actually look at what you’ve done and who you’ve made of yourself and cry.  I know that you feel terribly hurt & so you hurt others.  And what’s worse, is that you claim to be a healer, but all you do is tremendous damage, because you can’t even look at yourself.

I know that your smile is hollow.  There’s nothing but utter chaos behind it.

I know that there is nothing more sad in the world than to see a 60-something year old woman who doesn’t know who she is.  You’ve never healed  & excavated your essence to see what healing purpose you were brought on this earth for.  You settled for the same old traumatic family dynamics,  and became a hollowed-out, vicious, and dominating version of your true self.

You should know that I’m strong and healing-more and more every day in fact. I am a brave and dynamic woman who is  realizing the extent of her own innate power. This is something you will never be able to take away from me.

You should know that I will never be like you.  I work with children, and I will never, ever abuse them.

The rest of my story you don’t deserve to hear or know.

Although what you did (and continue to do) is evil, you did teach me one thing.  Behind your gray eyes and cynical smile, I saw a decaying human being, the result of a woman who was not courageous enough to accept herself.  And so I learned that the acceptance and love of oneself, must be paramount.  It must truly be a narrow road that few find.

Well D-I’ve found it, and continue to find it.  While it’s narrow, it is freeing.  And because I have the audacity to take this narrow road, I also have the audacity to reach for forgiveness.  For I need to move on with my life and leave you behind.  But before I say goodbye forever, I do have a blessing for you.

D-before your deathbed, may you find your body and your soul.

May you know that to be curious like a child again-you will have much grief to wade through.  In order to feel that innocent again, you must be able to forgive yourself.

May you find the courage to speak the truth, even if it costs you everything.

May you actually be receptive to touch, not seeking to always manipulate and control.

May you know that Love is still looking for you-but you have to be looking for him/her/them.

Goodbye D.

 

 

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Breathwork

 

It’s time that I finally write about this life-giving practice–and how it’s changing my life.

I encountered a deep form of breath work, through the instruction of a resident teacher named Beth this past summer. At this time, I was still very in-my-head.  I thought this breathing of 2 deep inhales, followed by one deep exhale all through the mouth while laying down was kind of weird.  I didn’t understand it (and that’s the point!)

To be honest, the side affects scared me.  I thought I would start breathing too fast.  My hands would start tingling, sometimes they would tighten up.  Sometimes my feet would fall asleep momentarily.  Many times I cried.  At first, my question was, “What does this mean?” although I came to learn and accept that all I was doing was moving stuck energy.  Also, breathing in this way could also be considered an active meditation.

I kept practicing once per week on my own.  I experienced some clarity, yet it became just another aspect of a self-care practice for me.  It was not yet a defining part of my inner work.

Beth left Indy, yet came back this winter.  I came to several of her group breath work classes, and it made me realize that I wanted to dig deeper.  I attended an individual session with Beth, where she invited me to try to practice this form of breath work daily.  Since the beginning of the year, breath work has become a key part of my emotional and spiritual care.

This type of breath work has guided me straight into my heart, into my intuition.  It helps me approach the unknown in my life with greater ease.  It is helping me to reach for compassion and forgiveness, while allowing me to explore my voice–and what I have to say.

Through breath work (and my work in Qigong, but that’s for another post!), I’m receiving messages that I never would have with just my rational mind.  I’m exploring intergenerational trauma and my purpose as someone who values justice and truth-telling.  I’m receiving so much gratitude for my journey, for the people who cross my path every day, and for the gifts even within my illness.

I’m watching some of my limiting beliefs melt away (not like magic, yet sustained breath work feels like a domino effect) and the effects on my health have been extraordinary.  My constant food cravings are gone, my energy is more constant, and the general energy moving through my body is more vibrant.   I’m experimenting with introducing more foods and it’s working!

My breath work practice is helping me to align more completely with my values.  I’m looking forward to more healing and more self-love that will transpire this coming year.

Diagnosis Day!

On Saturday, I celebrated my diagnosis day.  3 years of having lived with the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s.  It’s been a crazy journey these three years, often very difficult and isolating.  In the midst of the pain and seeming unfairness of it all, there have been some beautiful moments: being attuned and witnessing my own healing journey, the friendships that have formed, starting my own business, and learning to sit with difficult emotions more fully.

I’ve discovered a love of cooking and I’ve honed my writing skills. I’ve found yoga and meditation, contemplative Christianity, and my own inner drive to persevere.  I’m learning to lean into my intuition, my emotions, and my spirituality.  I’m writing a book about the gifts that have been gained from my illness.  I’m gaining life and wisdom from stories, both in digging more deeply into my own and in listening to others.

I posted a few weeks ago about Sick Woman Theory.  After I read it, I wrote a poem, dedicated to Johanna Hevda, the originator of Sick Woman Theory.  This is for all those who are sick, and who feel like they have to fight to be seen and who have been dismissed way too many times.

To All Those Who Shouldn’t Have Made It, But Did, And Do

for Johanna Hevda

You’re here.  You’ve gotten out of bed in some miraculous way.  

 

You showed up.  Maybe that took all your spoons.

 

I’m honored that you chose to spend your limited energy here, with me.

 

But I realize that you didn’t have to; and that would not be wrong.  

 

Funny how we define right and wrong, isn’t it?

 

Funny how we place blame on the sick bodies, those lazy people lying in bed

 

And yet, we are too afraid of their power when in public?

 

 

In our society, sick bodies are queer; and in fact, many queer people are sick.

 

We feel the deviance in being a mystic; so many of the contemplative texts come from sick bodies.  

 

So white contemplatives:  next time we quote from Hildegard of Bingen or Catherine of Sienna or Joan of Arc or Theresa of Avila or Julian of Norwich: remember their female sick bodies.  

 

Do not steal from them their insights, while ignoring their bodies.  

 

Back then they were mystics; now we shut people up in psych wards, give them medicine to numb them, and cut them off from community.  Maybe we should be listening.

 

We are cut off from community, even as we long to find each other.  And find each other we will.  We must.  

 

Blessed are you when you get out of bed, but people feel you should stay in bed to prove you are sick.  

 

Blessed are you when you stay in bed, because you know what rest means more than anyone around you.

 

Blessed are you when you speak up in order to be visible, but people prefer your invisibility.

 

Blessed are you when you are silent, connecting with the Divine, but people prefer to call you crazy.

 

Blessed are you when you go to the doctor, but the doctor calls you hysterical.  

 

Blessed are you when you are your own best doctor, because this white hetero-normative patriarchal medical institution really isn’t for you.

 

Blessed are you when you smile at the cashier, the first person you’ve made eye contact with all day.  

 

Blessed are you when someone looks away from you, because you just parked in a handicapped spot, but don’t look handicapped.

 

Blessed are you when you take time to breathe, for sometimes the earth is your best friend.

 

Blessed are you when you take time to scream, for your rage is justified.

 

Blessed are you, lying in bed all day, still hoping, still yearning for community.  

Blessed are you, seen though invisible, beautiful, though sick, hopeful in your agony.

Dear Larry Nassar,

I am relieved that you will spend the rest of your life in jail.

Honestly, the rest of your life isn’t enough time to consider what you have made of your life.  How much pain you have caused.  How much you have altered thousands of lives for the worse.

I am relieved that these women had a kick-ass judge.  I’m glad she was a woman and saw the truth for what it is.  Saw you for who you truly are.

Larry,  you desire a cheap forgiveness.  A quick forgiveness, when neither of these are the definitions of forgiveness.

You witnessed 7 days of nothing but extremely brave, truthful testimonies.  Not a media circus.  An actual judge who believes in the power of story & doesn’t discount it because there isn’t enough evidence. A judge who believes that each story has a right to be heard.  That in each story is incredible pain, and that justice plays a part in each woman putting their lives together again.

You spent your whole life wanting women to feel extreme shame, just so you could use your perversion to “hide” your own shame.

You spent your whole life hiding and living a double life, and distancing yourself from love.

You wanted your power and prestige so you could fool institutions.  You played nice guy and made friends so that thousands would stand by you, even when young girls were confused about how a “nice guy” could have abused them.  Even when the beginning of the accusations were made public, you still ran for the Holt County School Board to look like an involved citizen.  And the sad part is, you got votes.

I’ve watched your story, because it resembles my own in many ways.  Now my abuser doesn’t quite have the acclaim you do.  But she’s a doctor.  And she has many backing her.  And the courts side with the abuser until sufficient proof is given.

But maybe, just maybe, more people are listening now.  Maybe people see how predators use their power to prey on the vulnerable.  Maybe people see how abusers play the “good guy” and that’s why it’s so easy for the survivor to get caught up in self-doubt.  Maybe people see how difficult it is to live with injustice when women have told others in authority and it was disregarded.

As I watched the testimony of the women you abused, all I thought was, “They are brave.  They are strong.  You didn’t knock them down.  They have more grit and strength & vulnerability and love than you ever had or will have.”

Each woman you abused will find her own way to wholeness in her own way, in her own time.  Just the fact that hundreds came forward already means that they are on their own healing journey already.  May they heal.  May they heal in spite of you.

May you have the courage to look at yourself for the first time in your life & truly grieve.  And grieve.  And grieve some more.

And realize that the hardest thing that you ever have to do awaits you.  You have the opportunity to look at your yourself honestly, and if you are courageous, learn to forgive yourself.

May the jail cell provide the place where you realize that you are not beyond love–and yet for you to find love, you must find it in yourself.

As a spiritual person, I too, must believe that you are not beyond love.  Because in order to say that, I must have such incredible love for myself, for my worth & dignity.

Find that for yourself, Larry Nassar.  Find that for yourself.

 

Processing Sick Woman Theory

 

Last week, I needed to rest more deeply.  I needed to lie down, take baths, breathe, and just say no to what I thought my day was going to look like.

My period started and it was more painful than usual, as I haven’t gone to acupuncture for 6 months.

I started with this feeling of guilt, this sense of responsibility.  That in order to “feel better” or “be well,” I needed to make sure that I scheduled an acupuncture appointment for next month.  That somehow I needed to be “more on top of” the self-care game so I could show up like a “normal” person in this world.

I quickly recognized what I was saying to myself and apologized to my own body for my self-sabotage. But I did ask myself, “Where does this come from?”

That answer would take a lot longer to answer than this blog post.  But while I was lying in bed I came across Sick Woman Theory, and I kept saying “yes, yes, yes” over and over again.

Please read it, even if you don’t agree with where she is going politically-there is such beauty in her piece.

I also realize in myself, that the more I heal (or cope) in body, mind & spirit, the more I am able to show up for myself, but also allow my anger and gifts of being an advocate to channel in not only productive, but beautiful ways.

And to a great extent, this showing up is political.  For any person who is marginalized (especially for those trans and queer women of color), showing up as themselves is the act of resistance.  And then the question becomes, “How can more of us show up more fully in this world?”

Showing up will look like many things to people who cannot get out of bed.  Showing up looks like texting other sick friends and just asking, “How are you today?”  or “I thought of you today.  How are you feeling?”

Sometimes showing up is going old-school and getting serious about having a pen pal who understands what you’re going through, without the pressure to respond instantly.

Sometimes showing up is just being vulnerable with people and saying “I need this.” Your gift is your vulnerability, although we have been trained culturally to feel like a burden.

Sometimes showing up is your own self-care, just for you, without needing to serve any productive purpose. And without needing to explain to anyone if self-care is self-indulgence. (Thank you Audre Lorde!)

Sometimes showing up is your own tears, about taking all the pills in the world and still not feeling how you want to feel.

Sometimes showing up is taking pain medicine, just to be able to walk out the door, knowing that you’ll probably be met with scrutiny in whatever space you enter into.

Sometimes showing up is your own laughter, your own ability to learn to live in a body that others don’t approve of, your own belonging you create out of “not belonging.”

Sometimes showing up is trying to explain the isolating effects to someone who is able-bodied.  To learn the delicate art of informing, without feeling like you are doing all the emotional labor (energy you don’t have!) for someone else.

Sometimes showing up is just saying “I see you.”  To yourself.  To others. For the sake of the beauty of the world.

Spiritual Dimensions of Showing Up to Illness

December and January have been deeply healing months.  I knew that I needed to slow down; that I needed to show up to myself more fully.

I wanted my smile to come back.  I turned to nature, knowing that I also needed some time to hibernate, that I needed to let certain things die, without knowing where this journey would end up.  Historically, my healing accelerates in the winter, and so I intentionally have made time to invest in myself at the start of this year.

I intentionally took a 4 week Christmas break.  It was so restful & needed.  I had a session with my therapist.  I set up an individual healing session with a resident teacher at my old yoga studio.  I have been participating in a weekly breathing circle.  I’m learning Qigong.  I traveled to Chicago to attend Mystic Soul and visit with friends.  I celebrated my birthday & came out as an asexual. I took several epsom salt baths.  I loved myself well.

What has been the result of all this healing work is a lot of grief dissolving, allowing creativity to come forward.  I’ve needed time to continue to explore certain spiritual practices in order to figure out how I am going to grow my energy reserve as I continue to grow my business and work more hours.

What this looks like right now is that I’m writing a book!  I have no idea where this will lead, but right now, I’m just focused on my shitty first draft.  It’s a memoir; my journey with chronic illness and the gifts that come along the way.  I wake up every morning, do some breathwork and then dive into writing for about 25 minutes, at the beginning of my day.  It’s becoming a beautiful rhythm, and a wonderful way to start my day, and my resistance to show up to my story is lessening day by day.

Although I still live in my body day to day and am affected my by illness, I’m gaining the skill to look at my life more objectively.

I’m learning to say, “The fact that I have a chronic illness is not my fault, and yet I do have the responsibility to show up in my body and be attentive to the lessons it gives.”

What I keep coming back to is that autoimmune disease is the pattern of the body attacking itself.  There’s a scientific way to describe this, but that’s not what I’m interested in now.  What I’m interested in is that in order for my body to attack itself—I must have moved very far away from my true self.  I must have tried to conform to someone that I was never meant to be.

So I’m learning to stop throughout the day and breathe.  I’m learning to check in with myself, to feel my own energy, to understand my own essence.

At Mystic Soul, we were encouraged to sit with this question:

“Who are you and how do you know?”

In one sense, I will be answering this question for the rest of my life.  In another, I am a healer, a witness, a truth-teller, an advocate, a friend.  I am a work-in-progress–yet there are spiritual dimensions to stepping into my own narrative, telling my own story.  Ultimately showing up to myself, so that I can show up with others.

To Breathe More Deeply

There’s so much I could say about Mystic Soul, and yet I’m not ready to.

Above all, it was an experience.  A very different experience of spirituality and justice and healing, than I’d ever experienced before–and it was so good.

Maybe all I can do for now is talk about the shifts, speak to how my friends of color across the country are trying to decolonize Christianity.  There was a tangible feeling of healing in the body, for everyone involved.  We all breathed much more deeply together.

We faced each other in a circle, rather than sitting in rows.

We never sat for a full-hour lecture.  We talked to each other, engaged in spiritual practice together, got out of our seats and talked to people we didn’t know.

We told personal stories, rather than just quote highly-acclaimed authors.

We participated in healing silence and ritual in community.

We valued rhythm over time, not prioritizing order & efficiency over healing.

We engaged the reality that sometimes contemplation is quiet & sometimes it is loud.

We returned to the effects of trauma and how we all need to be in touch with our personal narratives in order to heal.

At times, the room of 400 people was silent and we all just breathed deeply together.

I don’t think any of these realities fit into the questions, “How was it?” or “How were you impacted?” or “What are you going to do now?”

I experienced wholeness in community.

I knew I was in a room filled with the leaders of contemplative spirituality for today & tomorrow.  And I want to listen and keep listening.

 

 

I Resolve…

2017 was a rough year.  Most of us can agree on that.  And yet 2017 did have white evangelicals having to make a decision if we were going to wake up or not.

What’s hard for us white people to come to grips with is that Trump, in many ways is the white, heterosexual, patriarchal, evangelical consciousness.  He reveals our sickness, our evil, our complicity.  And just patting our backs and thinking, “I didn’t vote for Trump” isn’t going to cut it.

For much of my life, I’ve been pretty ignorant.  And yet, I cannot be anymore.

There’s too many people of color hurting and dying.  There’s too many sermons about the Good Samaritan without it having any effect in the streets. And I am among the guilty.

On Wednesday, I leave for Chicago to attend the Mystic Soul Conference.  It’s a POC-centered conference bringing to life what the Christian contemplative tradition and healing justice looks like, led by those who have been silenced again and again.  Yet their voices are dynamic and strong; and I know that I will be richly blessed by them, as they ask me to follow, not to lead.  As a white person, I’ve been invited to attend to learn, and to continue to let go of the many layers of white supremacy and patriarchy that infiltrate my being.  I will definitely write more about the conference when I get back.

 

In 2018, I resolve…

  • To follow the lead of black women (make sure to watch the video)
  • To lean into difficult conversations, rather than shy away from them.
  • To support local POC-led organizations financially
  • To make steps to figure out how my business can reach those without access to high-quality dyslexia resources.
  • To call out racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, religious discrimination, etc when I see it.  To confront it in myself.

I want to dig into the question more, “What do I do with my privilege?”  I’m grateful that I’m on this healing journey-and yet I’m also very aware that it’s possible because of my privilege.

And having just moved to Westfield, I’m aware that I’m grateful that living in this apartment has caused greater healing for myself.  I’m also aware that I live in a town that’s 91% white, and I live down the street from the 6th best high school in Indiana.

In 2018, I resolve to be aware, to question, to be myself in the present moment.  And out of this awareness, hopefully come a little bit closer to loving my neighbor as myself.

 

Honesty Is a Good Way to Start the Year!

 

 

 

 

I’ve been considering this post for about a year and a half.

In the spirit of starting 2018 being more honest with myself and the world, it’s time to write this post.

I’m asexual.

Yep, it’s the A in LGBTQIA.

Being asexual simply means that I do not experience sexual attraction towards anyone.  That being said, I do experience romantic attraction towards men.

This post is not going to be a Q and A or what asexuality is or isn’t (but you can check out AVEN if you are interested!)

This post is about acceptance and visibility.  I’m going to reveal the questions I asked myself as I considered if I wanted to come out publicly.

I considered for awhile, “Why add another label?”

It took my awhile to realize that this wasn’t really my deepest question; it reflected what I thought other people might ask me.  Especially because this was true when I started speaking up and writing about chronic illness.

When I first started owning the fact that I indeed had a chronic illness, and started speaking that way, I inevitably faced the question, “Why do you so closely identify with your illness?”

For those who were Christians asking this question, it was in the context of “Why do you put your identity in your illness rather than in Christ?”

Simply stated, I needed to identify with an unknown illness, then to be Hashimoto’s, so I could integrate it into my being.  Acceptance could not come without integration.  But not to identify with it in some way, meant to ignore this part of myself.  It also meant leaving people to assume that I was a healthy, vibrant mid-20-something when I wasn’t.  I needed a label to say “I am sick, and this is lifelong.  I may manage it well, but it’s something I do manage every day.”

Also, notice how odd it would sound if I started asking people, “Why do you so closely identify with your health?”

A label simply says, “I experience life differently than you and both of our experiences are valid.” 

However, those with illness navigating living in a world of health, which can often feel foreign to us.  We want our experience validated as we live on the margins in a society that glorifies health and young able bodies.

Ok, back to sexuality.  Asexuals comprise 1% of the population and most people don’t accurately know what asexuality is.

So why a label?

Because I experience sexuality differently than most people.  And that’s okay. And it’s valid.

Labels have to do more with “the majority” (and that can mean many things depending on the context) accepting diversity which means changes in language to depict that diversity.

Another question I thought for awhile about was, “Why come out when you can pass as a straight person?”

Deciding that I needed to come out publicly is a personal decision related to my own emotional health.  I felt like I was hiding a vital piece of who I am, which was just breeding shame and self-contempt.

Also, for celebrating my uniqueness.  For visibility. To challenge assumptions. For a more complete acceptance of myself.

I experience my life as a white cisgender asexual woman, living with chronic illness.  I could add other identity markers like Christian, middle class, American. These are all true.

Labels can be seen as over-kill or they can be seen as an incomplete, yet important way to talk about how we experience the world differently based upon race, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, religious affiliation, health.

For we all have labels if we bring them out.

A white cisgender heterosexual Christian male born into an upper-middle class family are all labels too.  We are just taught that this is the norm.

Here’s to 2018: more honesty, more listening to the perspectives of others, more love, empathy, compassion, and forgiveness.

Advent, Healing Justice, & Cake

Yesterday was the third Sunday of Advent yesterday and I’m sitting in an Episcopal church in Carmel, Indiana.  98% White.  Scripted prayers (not bad, but scripted nonetheless) and out of this formal setting, the first reading:

“They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.  For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense…”

We sit there, respectfully following along in our bulletins.

And I ask myself, “Who are they?”

The image in my mind as the passage is read is my POC brothers and sisters who lament and know what systemic oppression looks and feels like.  Who keep on lamenting, trusting, and hoping in community because that’s the only thing that brings dignity in daily life.

Who clings to the faith of their ancestors, who survived slavery and lynching, and still believed in Jesus, in their desperation.  Who believed that they were the crucified ones.  That maybe if Christ could say, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” they could have the courage to forgive those behind their daily experience of multiple oppressions.  That they could find their voice even in the midst of white supremacy.

We in white culture like to sanitize the Christmas story.  We like to make sure Jesus’ skin tone was white and that all the animals were behaving in the stable and that kids look cute in their choir concert.  Truth is, Mary and Joseph were poor and they had a dangerous journey to Bethlehem.  Mary had to have her baby outside (no health insurance).  Jesus was a refugee who barely escaped genocide.  (Good thing Joseph believed the angels in a dream!)

We in white culture have a hard time sitting with the Christmas story as one of multiple oppressions.  Then we have to take seriously the fact that we oppress, directly or through silence.

I believe that people of color will repair the ruined cities.  They have the persistence that I don’t yet have.  They know that lament and joy are always intertwined.  Healing must be grassroots work and be collaborative.  I believe that people of color are finding ways to practice healing justice, to find ways to heal the devastations of many generations, while still taking care of themselves and their community.

A big part of my job is to get out of the way.  To amplify the voices of color and learn from them.  To take an honest look at my life and see ways that I oppress.  (A big shout out goes out to Faith Matters Network and Mystic Soul Project for the work that you are doing.  Thank you for allowing me to see faith from a different vantage point.)

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I also wanted to write about ways I’m smiling and laughing this Advent.  I’m waiting for my smile to return and I’m doing small things to recharge this month, rather than scurry around like crazy.  Yesterday, I made a cake, along with the help of my roommate.  If you have food allergies, you know how hard it is for cake not to taste like cardboard.  Well, this 6 layer-cake with layers of an Oreo cookie crust, chocolate cake, and chocolate mousse did not disappoint! It’s also gluten and nut-free, so if you want the recipes let me know!