USA: Shopping At Macy’s

USA: Shopping At Macy’s

tara_macysThe first time I met my future mother-in-law, she insisted on taking me shopping. She raised two sons and was hungry for female companionship. I worried about disappointing her because I am not a shopper. Department stores stress me out. I very much dislike wading through racks of fancy clothes. I rarely carry a purse, and I don’t want to go anywhere near a fragrance counter. I recognize that this is a silly, first world problem, but my mother-in-law, while frugal, loved shopping. Wanting to make a good impression, I went with her. She bought me clothing, which I accepted as graciously as I could.

Soon afterward, my husband and I moved across the country and started a family. My mother-in-law always remained involved. She visited, sent care packages, and supported us in so many ways. She encouraged me and would occasionally offer gifts that sparkled. I always appreciated her tokens, whether they were to my taste or not. I knew it was her way of female bonding.

Earlier this year after a stroke, she learned that she had advanced cancer. She made the decision to move to our area for her care, so she could spend as much time with us as possible. As we talked about goal setting for physical therapy, she kept coming back to one thing. She wanted to go to Macy’s on her own.

Let me back up a little. Many years prior, her eyesight deteriorated through macular degeneration. No longer able to drive, she relied on her husband to take her to Macy’s, often not on her terms. When she moved, she wanted to reach the point where she could hire a car and go on her own. We offered to take her, but she declined. There were so many decisions to be made about doctors, living arrangements and finances that she was unsure about, but what she was crystal clear about was the idea of going to Macy’s and looking at blouses for long as she wished without family poking around her. Macy’s became the ultimate symbol of her will to recover. Unfortunately, this outing never happened.

When she passed away, I offered to pick out the clothing for her burial. I didn’t want to select something from her limited wardrobe, so I pulled myself together and did what she wished she could do. On Halloween morning, I stood outside Macy’s in the pouring rain waiting for the doors to open. I had so many emotions running through me, and I held a warm cup of tea to steady myself. A man dressed as a banana came to unlock the door. I took that as a good omen. I was the first person in, and I walked past an army of smiling, eager sales clerks. I didn’t think I could get through explaining to them what I was looking for, so I decided to go it alone.

At first I looked for a dress, thinking I’d find something in the color she wore to my wedding which suited her so well. I walked section by section, and saw how much there was to sort through. I started to feel overwhelmed. I wanted it to be perfect, but everything felt flashy and loud. Nothing seemed like her. I worried that I was in over my head.

I took a deep breath.

She liked a touch of femininity, but she was sensible – a college professor and savvy investor.  A dress was the wrong way to go. I needed a sweater and pants. I came upon a pretty cream sweater embossed with a floral pattern. It was simple yet elegant. I found black pants to go with it. Feeling emboldened, I moved to the jewelry area and picked out a pearl necklace. Lastly, I hit the shoe department. I really struggle in shoe departments, but I pushed on and decided on a pair of black flats. After rounding out the other needed items, I checked out and was on my way.

My mother-in-law was laid to rest on a beautiful, sunny fall morning. The service was intimate and heartfelt, and I think she would have enjoyed the lovely yet not ostentatious flowers. I hope she would have approved of my choice of attire. As for Macy’s, I plan to stop in now and then, wander around, think about my mother-in-law, and enjoy the sparkle. And if I do ever need to pick out a handbag, I trust that she will guide me to the perfect purchase.

Do you have a mother-in-law? What types of things do you do together to bond?

This has been an original post for World Moms Network by Tara B. Photo credit: Diariocritico de Venezuela. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.

Tara Bergman (USA)

Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Network!

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GREECE: The Lessons of Loss

GREECE: The Lessons of Loss

lessons of loss

The last photo of the author and her brother with their mom.

There once was a little girl who lost her mother. She was too young to fully understand the concept of never. She had a secret belief that people were making a silly mistake when they gently   explained that her mommy would never be coming home again.

The little girl secretly believed her mommy had just taken a long vacation. Her Daddy told her that Mommy was in a special type of hospital for people who were sick and needed to rest.

Since the little girl was smart and precocious, she imagined her mother had  taken a much needed rest and gone on holiday with the traveling circus, which recently had been in town. Hadn’t Mommy admired the clowns and acrobats SO much? Wouldn’t this be a great way to get better after all the medicine the little girl had secretly seen her mommy  take when she thought nobody was watching…

As the months and then years dragged on and Mommy didn’t come back, the girl started to realise that the traveling circus probably wasn’t the reason her mother had left.

Instead, she started to suspect that her parents had gotten a divorce and her father had custody of the 2 children since his wife was sick. This had happened to a boy in the little girl’s class at school.

She still couldn’t accept the fact her mother was gone for good.

Things began to get difficult at home and at school too. At first the other children were sympathetic because their teacher had told them that the little girl was going through difficult times at home and needed help and understanding from her classmates.

Eventually though, when the girl started coming to school with untidy hair and wearing grubby, mismatched socks, most of the kids started calling her names and telling her she was a freak.

She DID look and act weird, she knew. The sad truth was that she FELT like a freak, and that was even worse.

When other girls went on sleepovers and to birthday parties, on shopping trips and visits to the local swimming pool with their moms, the little girl wasn’t invited. The mothers felt awkward and embarrassed trying to organise these things with the girl’s father. The father said he needed his daughter to stay home and look after her little brother and he couldn’t spare her as he had to work. After a few kind attempts, the invitations dried up.

Although help was offered to the father at first, his depressed and confused mental health gradually repelled those who were trying to help him support his 2 young children. After losing all of his teeth and most of his hair due to extreme stress, he realised he couldn’t cope alone anymore. He suffered a nervous breakdown and was forced to go back to his country of origin to seek help from estranged relatives.

This is the traumatic beginning of my early life and the reason I lived in a fantasy world following the death of my mother, when I was just six years old.

My family had left England a few years earlier and gone to live in Australia for a better life. We really did have a perfect lifestyle for a couple of years until my beloved mother became sick and died of cancer before the age of 30.

I remember with utmost shock how I refused to believe my mother was actually dead. I’m staggered now at how I stubbornly clung to elaborate fantasies about her REAL whereabouts and my utter refusal to grasp reality.

The other thing I remember with clarity is the nastiness of some and the true kindness of others.

Although virtually everyone was supportive and helpful at first, this really didn’t last long. After a relatively short period of time, I became an object of ridicule and target for bullies. My father was going through his own catastrophic demise and I basically had to  fend for myself as well as bring up my  younger brother.

It’s not easy for a 6-and-a-half-year-old to cook, clean and look after herself and her 4-year-old brother as well.

I went to school looking unkempt and bedraggled most of the time and the fantasies I told about my mother must have scared my schoolmates, who knew she had passed on. I was called names and  kids threw stones at me because I was so different from them. In my class I was the only one from a single-parent home at that time.

Nowadays, of course, single-parent families are commonplace. Back then it wasn’t the norm and other kids made me feel that somehow it was my fault; I was stigmatized.

Coming from another country and speaking with a different accent didn’t help either. I was unacceptably different on so many levels.

When I first met my Greek husband decades later, one of his relatives praised him for being such a good Christian, offering to marry not only a foreigner but an orphan too!!!

It seems that in many cultures the child is responsible and pays for the parents “crimes.”

I remember a limited amount of kindness during my formative years and so try my best to instill a sense of compassion and respect for ALL living things in my children. I tell them that it really doesn’t matter how many possessions a person has that gives them value but how they treat others that counts. The way they interact with others is the true measure of their worth.

As a result of my childhood, I know that the kindness and compassion we show to a person can shape their whole future, for better or worse.

If we could all impart this wisdom in our children, wouldn’t the world be such a better place?

Have you had any childhood traumas that have made you passionate about something in adulthood? How do you encourage your kids to show kindness to others?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our contributor in Greece and mum to two, Ann Marie Wright.

The image used in this post is attributed to the author.

Ann Marie Wraight

Having lived in 4 different countries, Ann Marie finds it difficult to give a short answer about where she's from. She regards herself: Brit by birth, Aussie by nature, with a sprinkling of Greek and German based on her insatiable appetite for tasty food and chilled beer! This World Mom has been married to her Greek soulmate for 16 years and they are the proud but constantly challenged parents of two overactive teenage boys. (She secretly wonders sometimes if she was given the wrong babies when she left the maternity clinic.) She can't explain the fascination and ability that her 13 and 14 year-olds show in math and physics or that both boys are ranked 1st and 2nd nationally in judo. Ann Marie can only conclude that those years of breastfeeding, eating home cooked meals and home tutoring really DO make a difference in academic and physical performance! The family is keeping its fingers crossed that---with the awful economic crash in Greece---continued excellence in math and/or judo will lead to university scholarships... In addition to writing, enjoying a good glass of wine and movies, Ann Marie also works as a teacher and tends their small, free-range farm in the Greek countryside.

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It’s How You Live Your Years That Matters

It’s How You Live Your Years That Matters

locked heart

Had she not been a patient of mine and had my eye not been trained to see the telltale insults that cancer leaves on a body, I never would have known that her life was anything but perfect.

There are people like that in the world. People who smile through the worst. People who bring light to others and who know how to appreciate every moment with a vitality most of us lack.

She was one of the special ones. A special person and a patient with whom I connected on a deeper level. I was there to help guide her, but she was there to teach me about gratitude, optimism, tenacity, acceptance, love, courage and happiness.

She was an inspiration and a joy to be around. How I hoped she would be one of the few to beat the odds of metastatic breast cancer. And it looked like she might because she never stopped planning for the future or living her life in the present.

Unlike other patients and friends of hers who closed off the world or shut down when things took a turn for the worse, she never lost her huge infectious smile, energy, positive attitude or sparkle in her eyes.

Except for the last few days, and even then there was no self pity, just strength and determination. She was dying, in pain and in and out of consciousness but still fighting to hold on until her last wishes were fulfilled. She wanted her 8 year old daughter to come and say goodbye to her so her daughter would have some closure and she wanted her month old son, born to a surrogate mother, to be circumcised in Jewish tradition.

And she fought with her body to hold on. She saw her daughter for the last time and as soon as her son was circumcised later that same day, she took her last breath and our world was left a little dimmer as the light and joy that was her was released from her pain.

My only comfort is that she left behind an amazing family. A husband no less special than she, a daughter, a son, a mother, 2 sisters and a brother who all loved her deeply and will make sure that her special light and her precious gifts are not forgotten.

Every person who had the privilege of knowing her will never forget her, because although her years on this earth were short, she lived them to the fullest in a way many of us will never succeed in doing.

In these heartbreaking days in Israel, as we suffer our own private losses as well as national losses we choose to make our own, I think about my patient and the 29 young Israeli soldiers who died in the prime of their lives while fighting terrorists. Their deaths are more than just a grave loss. I think that their deaths are meant to be a “living” reminder for me. A reminder that it’s not how long you live, but rather how you live those years that you are given.

May all the families who are mourning the unfathomable loss of their loved ones somehow find the strength to continue to live life in the way they did.

And now I’m asking you all, how well are you living your years?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our contributor, Susie Newday in Israel. You can find her on her blog New Day New Lesson.

Photo credit to author.

Susie Newday (Israel)

Susie Newday is a happily-married American-born Israeli mother of five. She is an oncology nurse, blogger and avid amateur photographer. Most importantly, Susie is a happily married mother of five amazing kids from age 8-24 and soon to be a mother in law. (Which also makes her a chef, maid, tutor, chauffeur, launderer...) Susie's blog, New Day, New Lesson, is her attempt to help others and herself view the lessons life hands all of us in a positive light. She will also be the first to admit that blogging is great free therapy as well. Susie's hope for the world? Increasing kindness, tolerance and love. You can also follow her Facebook page New Day, New Lesson where she posts her unique photos with quotes as well as gift ideas.

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IN MEMORIAM: Neta of Israel

IN MEMORIAM: Neta of Israel

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of a fellow World Mom, Neta.  Neta, who was a good friend of our contributor, Susie Newday in Israel, lost her fight today with metatastic breast cancer.  Our thoughts and sincere condolences from around the world are with her family and friends today.

Neta volunteered an interview about her life of living with metatastic breast cancer on World Moms Blog with the hopes of encouraging more mothers to get tested.

Neta sat down with World Mom contributor, Susie Newday in Israel to talk about living her life with metastasis breast cancer.

Neta sat down with World Mom contributor, Susie Newday in Israel to talk about living her life with metastasis breast cancer.


Goodbye, Neta.  Thank you so much for letting us get to know you and for sharing what you knew with all of us. For that, we are forever grateful.

Neta’s 4 part interview of what it was like to live with metatastic breast cancer: Part IPart IIPart III and Part IV.

— The World Moms Blog Community

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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IN MEMORIAM: Neta of Israel

ISRAEL: Part IV of IV: Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer

Neta sat down with World Mom contributor, Susie Newday in Israel to talk about living her life with metastasis breast cancer.

Neta sat down with World Mom contributor, Susie Newday in Israel to talk about living her life with metastasis breast cancer.

This is part two of our contributor and oncology nurse, Susie Newday’s, moving and in depth interview on breast cancer with her good  friend. Grab a cup of something warm, and come be a fly on the wall with us, as two friends discuss living with metastatic breast cancer. There is something for us all to learn.

(To catch up, click here to read Part I, click here to read Part II, click here to read Part III.)


Susie: What has changed now after your husband has also been diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer?


Neta: When two parents are sick it’s something completely different. In the past when I used to feel unwell or weak, I could allow myself to go to bed because I knew he was around. In the evenings he would be with the kids and I didn’t have to be there. They saw me at lunchtime when I gave them lunch, they saw me in the afternoon and it was no big deal for my husband to make the kids dinner and be there with them. Now there isn’t that option. He goes to work. He’s also exhausted in the evenings and he climbs into bed. In the beginning he had more energy but for the past few months he’s been exhausted when he gets home from work. I don’t have back-up anymore. It’s very hard without backup because you can’t allow yourself to be tired for even one day. I have to function at a different level than what I had been functioning at before.


S: Did you tell your children when you were diagnosed?


N: Yes. All three times; when I was first diagnosed, when I had the recurrence and when my husband was diagnosed. We consulted with a psychologist about how to tell the kids. We told them the truth. We told the boys and girls separately because there is an age difference between them.  I don’t remember the first conversation being very traumatic. The kids were also younger. They didn’t really understand. They were surprised and it was the first time they had heard the word cancer. We told them that mommy has breast cancer and it’s not so bad, a lot of people get better. I told them that I’m going to get treatment and I have the best doctors who are going to help me recover. There is going to be a period of time that I am going to get strong treatment so the cancer will die. I don’t remember any tough reactions or trauma.

When the cancer came back it was a little tougher because the kids were already older. My two older children cried. I didn’t tell them it was terminal. I was told not to say that because no one knows how much time I have so not to limit it by time. I told them that the cancer was back and that this time it was in my bones as well and that the doctors had found the reason for my back pain. I told them I was going to go for treatments now so that I can cope with the cancer. Again I told them that I had good doctors and that I was in good hands.

When my husband got sick less than a year ago, telling the kids was traumatic. When we told our older daughters the younger one sat there and cried. My older daughter was angry and yelled What??? It’s not fair!! You’re sick already. Now daddy? She cried and yelled at the same time. It was a very tough conversation. She already understood as this was the third conversation she had gone through. I started to cry when she started screaming “it’s not fair”. My husband spoke, my younger daughter and I cried silently and my older daughter cried and screamed. The conversation with the younger boys was easier, they didn’t really understand as much. They know that daddy has cancer in his belly and mommy has cancer in her bones

I worry a lot about the kids because obviously it’s very hard on them. My oldest is very angry with God. She’s not willing to pray anymore. I understand her anger. I’m angry too. How can this happen to both parents? With my second daughter I see more sadness.

We haven’t really had any more outright conversations about our illnesses with our kids. There is the day to day coping like if I’m not feeling well then my husband will put the kids to sleep. Or visa versa. So the kids know when we’re not feeling okay. The other day my youngest who is 6 1/2 asked me how much longer are you guys going to be sick? When are you going to be healthy again? I explained to him that it is a very tough disease and it takes a very very very long time to get better. I can’t explain to him that you don’t get well.


S: Physically, how do you manage? With yourself, with the house, the kids.


N: It’s not easy. In areas that I feel are less meaningful and more technical,  we have help. We have someone who cooks and someone who cleans. We had someone to fold laundry and we will probably use her again. We used to have a babysitter in the afternoons. Now we have the kids in afternoon programs. In the areas I can release and get help, I have done so. There are certain things I’m trying to keep as is,  like having everyone sit down for dinner together. I try to make sure that there is always food in the house. It comforts me to know that there is food in the house and there is what to eat.

It’s a pity to waste energy on things that are not meaningful. I save the energy for things that make me feel good, like if the kids want to go shopping, even though it’s already tough for me to walk a lot.


S: What has been the one most difficult or scary thing that you have gone through since you were first diagnosed with cancer?


N: When I lost my eyesight. Not being able to see was really scary. You lose your connection to the world. I was also very confused. It was a real trauma. After my eyesight came back I was afraid to fall asleep at night because I was afraid that maybe when I woke up in the morning I wouldn’t be able to see again. In general, the scariest thing is losing your abilities. Suddenly, I won’t be able to see. Suddenly, I won’t be able to walk. Basically, it’s about losing your independence. It’s very important to me to be independent. I’m very afraid of becoming dependent. Losing my eyesight meant losing my independence. I needed people to be with me, to go everywhere with me. It was a complete lack of control. Seeing is such an important sense and suddenly you lose it. You only hear and you lose your ability to do things. For me the fear of losing my independence was the worst. If you ask my husband, for him the fear of me being confused was worse. He was able to imagine being with someone who couldn’t see. He didn’t know how he could manage with someone who was confused. I remember the blindness as traumatic, my husband remembers my confusion as the traumatic part.


S: A lot of people want to support friends or family who have cancer but we often say or do the wrong things. Do you have any advice about what we should or shouldn’t do?


N: There is a lot of good will and a lot of people want to help but you have to remember to respect the person and the household. Like in the beginning, friends wanted to come and fold laundry for me but I didn’t want anyone to. That was something I could handle on my own. Also when people were cooking for me in the beginning, there was a constant stream of people coming in and out of the house bringing food. You feel like you have no control over what is going on in your house.

It was very important for us to return the sense of control over our household to ourselves, to conserve the sense of independence of our family. Our good friends who were a constant presence in our house beforehand did stay a constant and that was fine. Those friends also knew to ask beforehand. I told friends and family when it was okay to visit.


S: Sometimes, we say no because we don’t want to trouble other people and when someone insists on doing something anyway, sometimes in the end it is a big help and appreciated.


N: It is possible. Like the few times we’ve had company over in the past year and they wanted to wash dishes and out of manners I told them no but they did it anyways, it was appreciated.


S: Is there anything someone said to you that really bothered you?


N: It really annoyed be when people told me “Be Strong”. What? Like I wasn’t working on that enough? Another sentence was ” I’m sure it will pass.” What exactly will pass? Where is it going to pass to?  I am sure there were other things but I don’t remember anymore.


S: Were there people who found it hard to talk to you afterwards?


N: I don’t think so. People tell me that because I’m so open and speak so freely that it wasn’t so hard to talk to me. There were some people who told me they were afraid to talk to me at first but when they did speak to me the conversation flowed. I talk to people about what is going on. I don’t hide it.


S: It must be quite a financial burden to have all the help with the cooking and cleaning and other things.


N: It is. I’m not working anymore and I get a small government stipend. My husband is still working which is lucky. If he has to stop working, the financial side would be very tough.


S: So what things would you suggest that people do if they want to help?


N: Always ask. What is right for me might not be right for someone else. First ask if they want the help. Like with food, say “I really want to make something for you guys, can I?” If you got a yes, then offer a choice of what to bring so the person can pick something that is right for their family. Make sure to ask first because maybe they really don’t want anything. To bring forcefully is also not good because it infringes on their domain. It also obviously depends on how close you are to the person. To bring without asking doesn’t seem to be respectful of the home.


S: Any tips about cancer in general?


N: Go get checked! Every woman needs to be checked even if there’s no family history that you know about. Just go get checked. I really don’t know why they don’t start the screening from a younger age. I was diagnosed at age 38. If they would have done routine scanning from an earlier age they would have caught my cancer sooner and I would be in a very different position right now. I found it on my own and I found it too late. The difference between early diagnosis and later diagnosis is huge. After I was diagnosed, all my friends went to get checked.


You have to gather strength. We don’t know what life holds for us. Who ever imagined that I would have breast cancer and bone metastases? If you would have asked me six years ago, that wasn’t even an option. I didn’t even think of it. When we get sick, it will always catch us by surprise. We’re never ready to be sick. Even if we know there is a possibility, we are never truly ready. When it happens you have to rally a lot of strength and understand that we can’t control our lives and we just have to do our best. That’s what I try to do. I’m fighting the best I can. I can’t do more than that. Ever new day I try to find the energy to fight and I say to myself I’m fighting this. When you succeed in having a good day, it gives you a lot of strength to continue on. If you don’t do that you can sink emotionally and that can’t possibly be healthy. I think that the reason I am not sinking into depression is because I’m invested in doing.

Sometimes it’s better not to think too much and to just be busy. When I had time to think it was really not good for me.


S: What is your wish for world moms?

N: I wish for either a way to catch cancer early or for better drugs to fight it and cure it or at the minimum turn it into a chronic disease that you don’t die from. Breast cancer rates are way too high.


I wish for mothers around the world to enjoy every minute of their parenting because we never know when it will end. I was sure that I would raise my children and live to see my grandkids grow as well. Today, I am not sure I will even see my kids grow up.


We never know when we will leave this world. Don’t push things off. Don’t say when I retire I will do this or that. Parenting is a very precious gift that has no replacement and we don’t know how long we will be parents or grandparents for. Take advantage of now and don’t push things off. We went on a family trip overseas a while back and I am so happy we did. It was a great experience. It was better than having a new kitchen done, buying a new car or having the garden done.

The experience of motherhood, parenthood, of family is the most precious experience in the world, so invest in that and less in material things.


It took a lot of openness and strength on Neta’s part to do this interview series. I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to share her story so that other people might benefit from it.

As far as helping people who are going through any difficult time, be it medical or emotional, I think this article about the “comfort in, dump out” theory is a must read.


Cancer can happen to everyone. Listen to your body, treat it well and educate yourself about cancer symptoms. Learn not just about breast cancer symptoms (which are varied) but also the symptoms of ovarian cancerGI cancerlung cancerpancreatic cancer and all the other cancers out there. Ask your parents about your family medical history. Do the recommended screening tests that are available to you because early detection of any cancer makes a hell of a difference.


Most of all enjoy every minute of your life because there are people out there who are dying for more time.


Who hasn’t yet gotten screened and is now going to get themselves checked?

Susie Newday (Israel)

Susie Newday is a happily-married American-born Israeli mother of five. She is an oncology nurse, blogger and avid amateur photographer. Most importantly, Susie is a happily married mother of five amazing kids from age 8-24 and soon to be a mother in law. (Which also makes her a chef, maid, tutor, chauffeur, launderer...) Susie's blog, New Day, New Lesson, is her attempt to help others and herself view the lessons life hands all of us in a positive light. She will also be the first to admit that blogging is great free therapy as well. Susie's hope for the world? Increasing kindness, tolerance and love. You can also follow her Facebook page New Day, New Lesson where she posts her unique photos with quotes as well as gift ideas.

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