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Kathy Marshack News

Do You Know Your Brain Type? Take Dr. Amen’s Assessment

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


Do You Know Your Brain Type? Take Dr. Amen’s AssessmentDo you like taking quizzes to learn more about yourself? Dr. Daniel Amen has a fascination Brain Health Assessment that determines your brain type. He says that “knowing your brain type will help you make specific lifestyle changes to optimize your brain, sharpen focus, and increase energy.” Sounds good!

This free quiz will ask you questions about being organized, distracted, attention span, patience, losing train of thought, ability to delay gratification, memory, diet, anxiety, exercise, quality of relationships, and more.

Rather than racing through it, I recommend you use a notebook and take notes, as you deeply think about your answer to each question. Pay special attention to the areas you find difficult or the ones that you know need to be improved. Then do some research and think about how you can improve your brain and you life.

After you finish, why not ask someone who knows you well to answer the questions for you, to see if he or she agrees with your results. That will reveal any blind spots you might have.

Yes, you will have to give your email address to receive the full assessment, but I trust Dr. Amen completely. In the past he did SPECT scans on my daughters, and his recommendations were extremely helpful. Plus you can unsubscribe at any time.

Immediately after entering your email, you’ll go to a page with a partial summary of your assessment. It also offers you some paid services on the assessment page. But the real goodies are delivered into your inbox.

The full report gives you your brain type – there are 16! And you’ll find your brain assessment, grading you on the following seven areas:

  • Brain Health
  • Sleep
  • Memory
  • Exec Function
  • Inner Peace
  • Mood
  • Flexible Thinking

Then you’ll see personalized recommendations for your brain type in eight different areas that affect your brain health.

As in any assessment tool, the goal is to become more aware of what you’re doing and how you can improve. Assessments like this are used by thousands of medical and mental health professionals around the world. Of course, you should always talk with your healthcare professional before making any changes.

To make lasting changes, many people need to enlist the help of a professional. There’s no shame in that. The only shame would be if you fail to seek help when you need it. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Take Dr. Daniel Amen’s Brain Health Assessment

How to Turn Adversities into Transformational Experiences

Monday, April 16, 2018


After an adversity or challenging situation, we’re often advised to “give it some time, and you’ll bounce back.” But I’d like to challenge you. Rather than being satisfied with “bouncing back,” learn to use your setbacks as opportunities to grow and make a difference in the lives of those around youIt’s inevitable. At some point, you will face challenging circumstances. In that moment, it will feel like life is crumbling around you…that you’ll never be happy again. Reassuringly, that’s part of a normal process. The big decision in that moment is how are you going to handle it? Will you retreat, hang on, or blaze ahead?

We’re often advised to “give it some time, and you’ll bounce back.” But I’d like to challenge you. Rather than being satisfied with “bouncing back,” learn to use your setbacks as opportunities to grow and make a difference in the world around you.

How can you turn adversity into a transformational experience? It calls for developing resiliency and fully participating in the following six stages. (Remember, there are no shortcuts.)

1. Build a comfort zone. We all establish systems for life…what we eat, how we dress, when we exercise, how we pay our bills and so much more. During the calm, we need to mindfully build a safe space that gives us the courage to face the world.

2. Experience disruption. It is gut wrenching to face adversities. That’s normal and natural. The key is to fully engage with your emotions, without trying to block them out. Everyone feels discomfort and pain at this stage. It doesn’t help to pretend everything is all right.

3. Feel out of control. For a time, you’ll struggle to make sense of your new situation. If you’re not careful, you might start retreating from life, drowning your feelings in non productive ways, like mindless TV watching or substance abuse. You may go through denial and grief, as you come to grips with your new reality. It’s important to be kind to yourself, allowing yourself to adjust. Reach out to others for a dispassionate point of view, which will help you guard against overdramatizing or imagining what’s not real.

4. Shaken loose. Eventually something happens, or someone says or does something, that shakes you out of your despair. You see that life isn’t over. New ideas flood your mind. You let go of the life you had before and begin embracing the life you have now.

5. Embrace your new reality. At this stage you’ll experiment with your new sense of identity and place in the world. Try to learn new skills and activities that push your boundaries.

6. Establish a new comfort zone. You’ll reach a point where everything is okay again. But instead of settling in, this is where the challenge enters: use your new found knowledge and understanding to help others.

Personally, the adversities I’ve faced have brought me to serving the NT/AS community. They are also moving me to reach out to those who are suffering at the hands of unscrupulous individuals. That’s why I wrote my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.” By reading it, you’ll learn my story and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I encourage you to download the first chapter for free.

Is It Possible You’re Being Too Nice?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Today the word “nice” means “pleasant and agreeable”, “respectable”. But did you know it first meant “foolish” or “stupid”? Is there ever a time when being nice is a foolish thing? Can you be too nice? Actually, yes. It happens when a person goes overboard, is too sensitive, becoming hyper-empathic.Today the word “nice” has the meaning of “pleasant and agreeable”, and “respectable”. But did you know it first meant “foolish” or “stupid”? Is there ever a time when being nice is a foolish thing? Actually, yes.

Please don’t misunderstand. There’s a place for niceness. It’s good to be nice and open the door for a disabled person. Or to diffuse your partner’s frustration by being nice and speaking calmly.

But what if someone is being abusive or manipulative towards you? Should you grit your teeth and stand there taking it, because you want to be nice? Not at all. You don’t have to be rude, but you don’t have to, nor should you, put up with it.

Being kind, nice, and compassionate are all degrees of being empathic. Empathy is what holds human society together, because we look out for each other. But there are times when being nice and empathic can go horribly wrong.

In attempts to help others, a person can go overboard and be too sensitive, even becoming hyper-empathic. Another term for this is “pathological altruism.” That’s when people, with the best of intentions, cause harm because they’re blind to the potential consequences of their actions.

For example: What if your husband regularly cheats on you, “because he was abused as a child?” You love him and sympathize with his horrible childhood. You don’t want to add to his suffering, so you’re nice, turning a blind eye, pretending the infidelity isn’t happening.

A better way to handle this situation is to think of the long-term consequences. Is being nice going to improve your relationship? Is it going to make you feel cherished? What message is it sending to your children? Is being “empathetic” going to help him recover from his childhood trauma? Are you holding him accountable for his actions?

Another example: Your sister has just been diagnosed with diabetes. She’s overweight and has a terrible sweet tooth. You know she loves Whoppers, and you want to give her a special treat. Are you going to be nice and sympathize with her desire for candy? Is that really what’s best for her?

Always being “nice” can also make you more vulnerable to exploitation by manipulative people. Narcissists and psychopaths prey on empathic and altruistic individuals. (You can learn more about this in my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.”) So the next time you’re tempted to be nice, take a moment to think about the consequences and make sure it won’t harm either yourself or others.

Radiant empathy has clear boundaries, because it’s governed by the good of self and others. Those with the greatest empathy, EmD-5s can detach from the games others play yet keep constant in their love—for themselves—and others. They hold dear the thoughts and feelings of others while staying true to themselves.

Would you like to explore how you can increase your empathic skills? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

How to Protect Yourself from the Epidemic of Fake News

Monday, April 09, 2018


It’s human nature to love gossip, the juicier the better. And technology makes it so easy. So we’re assaulted daily with new revelations about how vulnerable we are to hacking, disinformation, and fake news. But we don’t have to be a victim. We can make a difference, by carefully choosing what repeatEvery day Tweets, Facebook posts, fake news reports, and cyber attacks spread lies that are widely believed. It’s human nature to love gossip, the juicier the better. And technology makes it so easy to share it, before we know if it’s true or not.

Researchers are studying how fake news affects us and why humans fall for it. A NYTimes article shared a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They examined the flow of Twitter stories and found that people prefer false news across the board – from politics and urban legends, to business, science and technology.

Here are some highlights from the article:

  • “False claims, versus true ones, were 70% more likely to be shared on Twitter.
  • True stories are rarely retweeted by more than 1,000 people.
  • The top 1% of false stories is routinely shared by 1,000 to 100,000 people.
  • It takes true stories about six times longer to reach 1,500 people.”

We are assaulted daily with new revelations about how vulnerable we are to hacking, disinformation, and fake news. Sure, cyber espionage has been going on awhile, but it’s become far easier for the average person to use it to evil ends. A savvy social media user—especially one with a grudge—can ignite a vicious firestorm of slander, bullying, overt and covert threats, and online stalking.

I experienced this personally. For more than a decade, I endured many cyber attacks from my Vancouver neighbors and public officials, as well as, people who tried to stop me from writing books on Autism.

For example, the libelous scroll-like poster you see to the right was put up by my Steamboat Landing neighbors during their reign of harassment. It read,

“SBL Homeowners —Kathy Marshack, who lives east of this community, is not permitted on SBL property at any time. A restraining order has been filed on 7/6/06. If you see Ms. Marshack in SBL, do not approach her! Immediately call the Police.”

Neighbors downloaded my photo from my website then added it to a defaming poster at the front gate of their private riverfront community. The information on the poster is false. There was no restraining order. It was the opposite: I had a court order barring them from publicly discriminating against me. My neighbors came after me anyway, costing me thousands of dollars in attorney fees plus untold damage to my reputation.

It happened because I stood in the way of influential people who wanted to develop property along the Columbia River, at the expense of community safety, by trying to skimp on proper train crossing guard gates.

Could something like this happen to you? Without a doubt. Defending yourself from these invisible and hard-to-trace onslaughts is tough. That’s one of the reasons I wrote my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.” I share what I learned and how I survived this and other cyber attacks. If I can do it, so can you.

Remember: Lies only become powerful, when we listen to them, believe them and repeat them. We have the responsibility to check out the truthfulness of a story before we share it. We can make a difference.

Sitting on the Fence? How to Say “Yes” Fully or “No” Completely

Wednesday, April 04, 2018


How to Say “Yes” Fully or “No” CompletelyDo you have trouble making decisions? Do you hold back, because you don’t want to hurt or disappoint someone? Do you avoid making decisions because you don’t want to be viewed as selfish or too assertive?

It’s true that our decisions may impact the lives of other people, so we should take that into account. Yet many people are unnecessarily paralyzed and exhausted because they don’t have a firm grasp on their core identity. They haven’t set boundaries around the things they’re truly passionate about.

How do you set boundaries so decision making becomes easier?

  • Know yourself. Ask yourself: "Is this important to me, my goals, my values, my wants and desires?” If the answer is “no” or “not really,” then don't feel shy declining the invitation or request. Your “no” gives someone else the opportunity.
  • Be prepared to miss out. Every decision costs something. You’ll miss an opportunity, but you’ll keep your health and sanity. So every "no" is a "yes" to something you value more.
  • Decline graciously.Thank the person for thinking of you and trusting you with the request, but tell them you won’t be able to do it. You’re not rejecting the person, only her request. You can be firm, without being rude.
  • Explain, if you feel it’s necessary. If they’re satisfied with a simple “no”, let it suffice. But at times it’s important to offer an explanation, so give your honest reasons for not being able to comply.
  • Practice. Look for opportunities to say “no.” Choose inconsequential situations like saying “no” to every Costco food sample offered.
  • Call them on their pushiness. Some people won't give up. That's on them, not you. You can make light of it by saying,"I know you won't give up — but neither will I. I'm getting better at saying no.”

If you’re someone who always says “yes,” it will take more empathy to say “no.” Does that surprise you? Those with highly-evolved empathy skills do not confuse the psychological boundaries between themselves and others. They can care, feel compassion and sympathize without taking on the responsibility for another person’s intentions or feelings. This distinction is critical. Empathy is respectfully allowing the other person to take responsibility for their life.

Do you see areas where you need to increase your empathy skills? My new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS,” will give you the warrior training you need. It’s available on Amazon in paperback or kindle edition. I invite you to download the first chapter for free.

Parents - Remember Football Brain Injuries Lead to Family Tragedies

Monday, April 02, 2018


The long-lasting damage caused by brain injuries sustained while playing games like football and soccerHow many stories do we have to read or hear about football brain injuries before things change? I recently read, in the New York Times, Emily Kelly’s heartbreaking story about her husband Rob Kelly, a retired N.F.L. player. When he retired at 28, he had no idea of the long-term consequences of the “game”. He went from being a loving, sensitive, family man to a reclusive man who doesn’t eat and is often paranoid.

Emily points out that NFL’s top medical experts obscured the dangers of permanent harm to the brain. She shared a link to an OPB resource that chronicles the NFL's Concussion Crisis. It’s very enlightening to see they knew and said nothing.

Throughout her story, she speaks of how alone she feels, as she deals with her husband’s strange behavior. It changed their lives. They’re sharing their story to alert parents to the dangers associated with this sport. It has serious and deadly consequences. The money that is made is not worth the lives that are destroyed.

I was especially struck by the following description of how it changed Emily:

“When you live with someone with brain damage, you become highly attuned to your environment and develop an intimate relationship with your senses and intuition. Your hearing becomes excellent, almost unbearably keen, like a movie character who develops supernatural abilities overnight. Rob’s mood swings scare me sometimes, and I always have to be in tune with early signs of his agitation. I try to protect him from stress so he won’t be overwhelmed. It’s exhausting.”

Her story is not unique. I went through all of this with my daughter who played soccer. At 23 she assaulted me, knocking me across the room into a plate glass door. She accused me of attempting to pour wine on my sleeping 8 month old grandson; I was totally taken aback by this crazy accusation. She called the police and was so convincing that I was arrested and jailed. Later all charges were dropped when it was evident that I was the victim. The mood swings, the paranoia, the assaultive behavior— it’s sad and frightening. Healing from the destruction of my daughter, our relationship and our family drove me to write a book about it, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.” I invite you to download the first chapter for free.

If your life has been turned upside down because a loved one has TBI or CTE, please don’t try to go it alone. Find a supportive group and enlist the help of a mental health professional. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

How to Handle “Micro-Hits” without Losing Your Cool

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Do you often feel belittled and trivialized by a family member who has autism spectrum disorder? “Micro-aggressions” is a phrase coined by psychiatrist, Chester M Pierce, MD, in the 1970’s to refer to the intentional or unintentional ways of invalidating, degrading or insulting an individual based on a bias. Usually it’s used in the context of bullying and discrimination in schools and the workplace. However it perfectly describes much of what we experience while living with someone with Aspergers Syndrome.

Aspie micro-aggressions are those subtle messages that deny your reality and denigrate your status with your Aspie partner or family member. But not all subtleties or micro-behaviors are aggression, are they?

I call this other category “Micro-Hits” because they still throw us off balance. When your Aspie shuts you up with a comment like, “You don’t know that!” that’s a micro-hit. It’s confusing, since you may have been stating your opinion (which you are entitled to, by the way), but now you have to explain why you said what you said.

Isn’t it okay to chat, to offer conjecture, to suggest another possibility, without having to prove your point? We get this. Aspies don’t. They’re not aggressions exactly, but micro-hits still confuse and derail us. It’s time to learn how to stay on track with a snappy comeback, instead of that dazed and confused feeling, as your Aspie walks out of the room.

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, please join us at the upcoming free teleconference: Micro-Hits. It will be held on Thursday, April 19th. We’ll figure out some snappy comebacks, plus discuss tools to stay confident and calm. Perhaps we’ll even discover new ways to help our Aspies a bit.

And if you haven’t heard yet, my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS,” can now be purchased on Amazon in paperback or kindle edition. Its down-to-earth advice will teach you to protect yourself from those with Empathy Dysfunction. As a favor to me, can you please add your review on Amazon, after you read it? I’d appreciate it.

Confused? Learn the Differences between Sensitivity and Empathy

Monday, March 26, 2018


. If you confuse sensitivity for empathy, you’re not alone. I’ve discovered that both neurotypicals and Aspies have trouble understanding the differences between sensitivity and empathy“He’s a really sensitive guy.” “She’s such an empathetic person.” You may think these statements describe the same characteristic. If you confuse sensitivity for empathy, you’re not alone. In my practice, I’ve discovered that both neurotypicals and Aspies have trouble understanding the differences. For example, how would you answer these questions?

  • Is it sensitivity or empathy to cry at the sight of an injured pet?
  • Is it sensitivity or empathy to feel comforted by an embrace?

Would you be surprised to learn that neither instance is empathy? To produce empathy a person needs an integrated symphony of neurology, traits and skills. Here’s how I define empathy in my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you”:

"Empathy is a dynamic, evolving process—not a human trait. From empathy comes the ability to hold dear the feelings and thoughts of others.
Those with highly-evolved empathy skills do not confuse the psychological boundaries between themselves and others. They can care, feel compassion and sympathize without taking on the responsibility for another person’s intentions or feelings. This distinction is critical. Empathy is respectfully allowing the other person to take responsibility for their life. (In AA and other 12-step programs, the ability to do this is called detachment.)
A symphony may best represent the dynamics of humans empathizing. A great composer creates a musical score that allows for the best use and sound of each instrument, while staying faithful to the melody and the meaning of the piece. Sometimes we hear a solo. Other times we embrace the resonance of the horn section or the rumble of the tympani. Often the room is filled with what sounds like a thousand string instruments. We may feel thrilled, calmed, or seduced by the music.

A symphony is not complete without the audience, which provides energy to the musicians. Have you noticed how much more alive a performance is when the audience emotionally joins with the orchestra? Empathy is like this, too. It is far more than the sum of its parts. It is the sense that everyone in the room is breathing the music. So, too, empathy creates a powerful oneness that lets us know we are not alone.”

Would you like to improve your ability to tell the difference between empathy and sensitivity? If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, I invite you to attend the one of the upcoming Video Conferences entitled “Sensitivity is Not Empathy.” They will be held on three different days: Thursday, April 5th, Wednesday, April 11th, and Wednesday, April 25th. Spaces are very limited, so grab your spot early.

If you haven’t heard yet, I’m pleased to tell you that my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS,” can now be purchased on Amazon in paperback or kindle edition. I urge you to get a copy today. Its down-to-earth advice will teach you to protect yourself from those with Empathy Dysfunction. After you read it, please add your review on Amazon. I’d love to know what you think about it.

My Book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you” is Available!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying youWhat do these all have in common…narcissists, sociopaths, addicts, brain injured, autistics, a vengeful ex, corrupt city officials and greedy neighbors, bullies, stalkers, fake news mongers? Some people are upset that I include autistics and the brain injured in the same list as sociopaths and narcissists. But I do so only because they all lack some level of empathy. I ought to know. I’ve endured a 12-year perfect storm of a high conflict divorce, lawsuits, assaults, cyberstalking, false arrests, predatory prosecution, and the loss of my daughters to parental alienation. Throughout all these experiences I’ve noticed a common theme, namely people with Empathy Dysfunction (EmD).

The increasing prevalence of Empathy Dysfunction helps explain societal and family decay today. On the other hand, empathic acts are the stitches that hold the fabric of all relationships together. As neuroscientists map the human brain, we see the numerous connections that must be made to activate empathy. It’s a complex system that requires the brain to connect Emotional Empathy and Cognitive Empathy, and multiple transitions between the two. If one part of this amazingly intricate and complicated connection of circuits doesn’t work correctly, the system malfunctions. When the brain is damaged, whether through a war or sports injury, substance abuse, or congenital brain disorder, Empathy Dysfunction occurs. Empathy Dysfunction is so prevalent it's no longer if you meet someone with EmD, but when...

Have you ever...

  • Been victimized, swindled or lied to by your best friend?
  • Loaned money to loved ones who squandered the gift and never paid you back?
  • Had to fight unscrupulous prosecutors for your freedom?
  • Been forced to defend yourself from your vengeful ex or your ungrateful children?
  • Bumped into a beguiling, but shifty, stranger?
  • Felt someone following you?

If so, you've crossed paths with someone operating with Empathy Dysfunction (EmD). My new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS,” helps you not only understand why this is happening, but how to protect yourself from those hell-bent on destroying you. 

What will you find inside “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS”?

  • Hard-learned lessons on how to stand up for yourself when dealing with people who literally couldn’t care less about you.
  • A way to identify those with a dysfunctional lack of empathy using the new Empathy Dysfunction Scale (EmD Scale), so you can shield yourself from the destruction they leave in their wake.
  • Clues you should never ignore for your own safety - like a rotten neighbor, friends who start believing the nasty gossip spread by your ex-partner, or a nagging feeling you're being watched. Pay attention, it may be because "they" really are out to get you.
  • Warrior training to protect yourself from dangerous people. If you've been hurt just once, or maybe too many times to count by a person with EmD, apply the warrior training in this book, increase your own empathy to a higher level, and reclaim the beautiful life you are meant to live.
  • Seven life-preserving tips that will protect you and enhance your own level of empathy.

The truth is, sometimes, people are out to get you: Be prepared. Use “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS” to help you navigate the unruly world of Empathy Dysfunction. If you haven’t done so already, please download a free sample chapter. I’m pleased to announce that you can now order the entire book on Amazon in paperback or kindle edition. And after reading it, please be sure to go back to Amazon and leave a review. I’d appreciate it!

New Romance? Will Your Heart or Head Lead You to Happiness?

Monday, March 19, 2018


It’s only natural to want to fall in love. Our heart says go full steam ahead because it feels so good. But impulsive action is not always wise. Too many relationships fizzle as fast as they flame.

How can you get your heart and head to work together in a way that leads to happiness? I do believe you can find your soul mate. However, if you’re only in it for a casual relationship, say so before anyone gets hurt. If you want a long-term committed relationship, remember these basic principles:

Commit to your boundaries. Before you begin a relationship, determine what you will or won’t tolerate. Also, identify what you will allow yourself to do. Each of us gives importance to certain ideals and values. Sticking to these creates integrity.

Don’t lose your identity. Hold onto some of your alone time, friend time, and work time. That way you won’t have to fight to get it back later. Your heart may be telling you to ignore your ideals and values for the momentary pleasure, but in the long run you won’t be happy if you sell out. It’s the beginning of losing who you are and what’s important to you. Remember, you won’t be happy if you have to suppress important parts of yourself to keep the peace.

There are three stages to romantic relationships:

  • Stage one – the honeymoon stage of total togetherness.
  • Stage two – you start to assert your individuality again.
  • Stage three – you both meet in the middle and create a genuine, healthy integration of your lives.

Learn to deal with disappointments. No relationship is perfect. Unrealistic expectations undermine your ability to see and appreciate the good in your partner. If you find someone who can work with you to manage disappointment, you can build an enduring trust that lasts a lifetime.

Open up to each other slowly. Think “delightful discovery” not a brain dump. Reveal your story over time as it becomes contextually relevant. At first, the temptation may be to idealize yourself, creating a high, and not altogether accurate, expectation you can’t live up to. Ask yourself, “What mental image is he (or she) forming of me?” One caveat – if you’re dating someone who makes you want to hide your true self, beware.

Ask for what you need. Know what you need and how to ask for it. Yes, this takes self-awareness and forethought. I can’t stress enough the importance of doing this introspective work before you begin a relationship. Then don’t be too shy to talk about your intimate needs.

Be on the alert for narcissistic tendencies, because empathy dysfunctions such as this are more common than you might think. If the other person only wants to be noticed, validated and affirmed, without giving the same to you, end things quickly and don’t try to change him or her. Toxic relationships can damage your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health for a long time.

My new book, “When Empathy Fail – how to stop those hell-bent on destroying you”, (now available for purchase) is designed to provide practical, no-nonsense advice that helps you protect yourself from toxic relationships. The first chapter is free for download, so feel free to download your copy. I’d love your honest feedback after you’ve read it. Please come over to my Facebook page and share your thoughts.



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