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Child Loss


I remember it like it was yesterday, the elephant standing on my chest. It was so hard to breathe, the weight hurt so bad. I never knew I could feel such pain or immense sadness like I did in the days, months after my daughter died. I’m not sure that there are words in the English language that accurately describe the feeling that I felt. It was kind of like having tunnel vision, being able to see around me but not actually registering what was going on. The lump in my throat was ALWAYS there, like a golf ball choking me every minute of every day. Sometimes I would just lay in bed and cry. Sometimes I would go next door and sit on her bedroom floor, bewildered as to how this was my life now. People would call, message, or stop by…but I couldn’t tell you who, or what they said.

There’s this thing, its called trauma induced memory loss. I remember trying to drive to the gas station a mile away and getting lost….not knowing where I was. I don’t remember her funeral at all, or who was there. I don’t remember the weeks or months afterwards, or what happened, or who I talked to. I just remember that I didn’t understand why my Juliet, my bright and shining star was gone. I didn’t understand how people outside could mow their lawns, or laugh with their friends- while my whole world had stopped. I was frozen in time and everyone else was moving forward.

Now I am part of an elite club with dues so high that no one can afford to pay. Its the child loss club, and I wouldn’t invite my worst enemy. The members of the club share such a strong bond. Instantly our souls connect knowing that we have each felt a pain so deep that no one but us has ever felt.

There’s a saying that when you lose a parent you lose your past, but when you lose your child you lose your future….I lost a part of my future that day, when my child died out of turn. I will always notice the empty chair, the one less voice, the empty space in the picture, the empty bedroom. Twice a year I grieve the most. Her birthday….I grieve for years unlived, the smiles unshared, the jokes untold, the weekends home from college, the son in law I’ll never meet, the grandchild I will never hold.

I will also grieve her death date. Just like you celebrate and count the days from birth- I count the days from death. Its the day my life changed forever.

The world gets uncomfortable when people talk about child loss. I have actually lost a job over talking about Juliet because it made the client uncomfortable. If someone can’t handle me talking about her when they ask me about my children then maybe they shouldn’t be asking so many questions. If someone will fire me over it, then they are not a person that I want to be working for.

I wouldn’t shut up about Juliet when she was alive so why start now? I have such an opportunity to help people by sharing her story that there is no way that I’m not going to do it just because it makes one person feel uncomfortable. SHE is the reason that I became a make up artist, SHE is the reason that I became an interior designer, and SHE is the reason that I am writing this blog. If you see me, please say her name, and I will too, because she was here. She existed, and she changed so many lives, and still is. Tell me a story about her. Tell your friends, and their friends too. share this blog, share her picture, share her story. Tell the world about her, and maybe, just maybe, you will save someone from doing what she did.


I’m pretty sure I didn’t obsess over things before my daughter died. I feel like the older I get the crazier I am. Not in the way like “Oh Rachael? She’s crazy, I always have fun when I’m with her!” More along the lines of “Rachael?” (raised eyebrows, and shaking head) “She’s crazy.”

I used to be the type of person who was always down for whatever. A free spirit. Spontaneous. I lived my life with reckless abandon.

Not anymore! My idea of a good time is an evening on the porch with a glass of red wine and The Honey. Most days I don’t even leave the house. I’m perfectly content being at home with my family. The days of reckless abandon have been replaced with responsibility and a sense of belonging.

I’m sure that all sounds nice to you, except the truth is I don’t like to leave my house because I’m awkward, and I have social anxiety. I panic when I’m around a group of people and I don’t know what to say. When I do speak its always a STUPID joke that sounded funny in my head but makes no sense at all when I say it. Usually I just keep my eyes down and try to avoid people, cling desperately to The Honey, or drink some wine to try to loosen up and end up polishing off the whole bottle  while simultaneously peeing my pants and drooling on myself. I may or may not be exaggerating a little.

No one wants to see that.

Since Juliet died I have noticed that I obsess. I obsessively obsess. A typical day goes like this: “Honey did you know that blue is in right now?”

“Honey everyone is painting their walls white, can you believe that?”

“Honey I think I might stencil our walls, do you like this?”

“Honey I really need you to bring me some wood home from work.”

“Honey I want to make a blanket ladder, and then a coffee table, and then a dining table, and then maybe ill build a house!”

“Honey can I just show you this one thing on Pinterest I really like?”

“Honey can you buy us dinner? I didn’t have time because I was at HomeGoods.”

All these questions fly at The Honey one after the next. Why? Because I obsess. I eat sleep and breathe interior design- to the point that it may be unhealthy. I know for sure I’m driving The Honey crazy because at one point I could see steam coming out of his ears and his eyeballs looked like they were gonna POP out of his head.

I have promised him on several occasions that I will try to keep it to myself from now on, but sometimes I feel like a geyser that’s ready to burst.

 You know on hoarders how the people usually start hoarding when something traumatic happens in their life? Well I think that’s what happened to me. When Juliet died I started obsessing over Pinterest because home décor made me happy and it was a way to keep my mind occupied. The only problem is that I don’t know how to shut it off.

I guess for now I’ll just work on not driving The Honey crazy.

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Before I get started I just want to apologize for the constant emotional roller coaster this blog is. One minute I’m happy and excited to talk about home décor, and the next I’m getting down deep about child loss. That’s just life when you have lost a child… emotional roller coaster.


Have I ever killed myself? No I haven’t, but that doesn’t make me any less educated on the subject. When you kill yourself you also kill your family.

Your mom who you thought wouldn’t miss you shatters into a million pieces. She quits her job and lays in bed day in and day out. She cries the minute she wakes up until the minute she goes to sleep. She turns into an empty shell of the person she once was. She stops taking care of herself, and shuts out everyone around her. She becomes afraid to leave the house because she doesn’t want to bump into anyone that might ask her how she’s doing.

Your mom second guesses everything she has ever done that lead up to your death. She blames herself, and fantasizes about the things she could have done differently until its the only thing she can think about. She convinces herself that everyone else is better off without this person she has become and she too tries to kill herself.

When you kill yourself your little brother slowly falls apart. He has to sleep in bed with your parents now because he’s afraid to be alone. He wont let your parents out of his sight, and if they are 5 minutes late getting home he has an anxiety attack because he thinks they are dead just like you. He starts getting into trouble at school so your mom takes him to get help from the doctor. He’s too young for the medication they put him on so he starts self harming and attempts suicide. He ends up in an institution for 2 months and your parents have to drive an hour every night to go visit him because before this he’s never been away from home. He’s diagnosed with PTSD and an attachment disorder. Apparently he’s no longer able to form relationships because he thinks everyone is going to die. He gets out and gets sent to an IU13 school because his school can no longer handle him.

When you kill yourself your dad tries to be the strong one. Secretly he thinks he is to blame and knows he will never forgive himself. It was his job to protect you and he let everyone down. He cries to himself when no one is watching, but keeps it together in public because someone has to. He is pushed to his breaking point because the woman he once loved is gone- she died with her child, and his son is losing it, and there’s nothing he can do to fix it, and its happening all over again. He throws himself into his work to try to busy his mind. He misses you so much, how is he going to fix this?

When you kill yourself your sister loses her best friend. She becomes bitter and angry, and pushes people away. She doesn’t care anymore, why should she? She sits and thinks of all the things you wont do together. She picks up the phone when her heart gets broken, and then realizes that she cant call you because you’re dead. Life and relationships kind of lose their meaning when your sister who was your best friend kills herself. She wonders why you didn’t call her? It eats her up inside. What could she have done? Are you proud of her? Can you hear her?

Its been two and a half years since my daughter Juliet killed herself. I still cry all the time. I’m crying right now. Please know the signs…..

Not everyone talks about wanting to kill themselves, in fact most people who commit suicide don’t say anything at all. My daughter didn’t. Don’t wait until its too late. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts please talk to someone. Get help. If not for you, do it for your family. To read what happened to my daughter click here.

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Child Loss

Having a Project

I think its SUPER important to have a project when you lose a child. After my last post I was flooded with messages and love from so many people, and I just want you all to know how much it means to hear from you. I also was asked how I’m healing through home decorating, and I realized that I should probably explain. When Juliet died I was an Esthetician. Some people can go back to their jobs after a great loss, but I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t want anyone to ask me how I was doing, and I didn’t want to have to look anyone in the eye because I knew I would burst into tears.

Instead of going back to work I just laid in bed and cried. FOR MONTHS. In my mind moving into this house was going to be the answer to EVERYTHING.


    1. I was going to keep my mind busy by working on the house.
    2. I would finally be away from the house that Juliet shot herself in.
    3. It would give me a reason to be on Pinterest which made me happy.


We moved in and it kept me busy painting, but my daughter was still gone, and I was more depressed than ever. I thought the house would solve a lot for me, but the realization that it hadn’t made me even more depressed than before. Here’s the thing- While I believe strongly in having a project, you can’t actually start to heal until you get your mind right. I learned that the hard way. By hard way I mean that I let myself get so low that one night I drank several glasses of wine, swallowed a bunch of sleeping pills, and ended up in the hospital. TALK ABOUT A WAKE UP CALL.

Depression is a really scary thing. It can be deadly. It was for my daughter, and it almost was for me. But I had a family. While I was so depressed from my grief all I could think about was how they would be better off without me. I wasn’t fun anymore. I didn’t smile anymore. I didn’t get out of bed anymore. Who wants to be around someone like that? All I wanted was to be with Juliet because I missed her soooo much.

I realized while in the hospital what a huge toll my depression was taking on my family, and that I needed to figure it out or I would lose them. So I started taking an antidepressant that also helped with anxiety. I know that medication is not for everyone, but for me it changed my life. I was getting out of bed, showering, and even starting to smile for the first time in a really long time.

Back to having a project. Like I said before in order to heal you must first get your mind right and in order to do that, you have to be able to get out of bed. So step 1… check. I think it’s important to have a positive outlet. You have all these thoughts and feelings inside, and they can consume you like they did me. Its a scary place to be. By having a project you have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. You have something productive and positive to focus all that energy on. You also have something to concentrate on other than death, which isn’t exactly the best thing to focus on.

For me, my positive outlet is designing and decorating my house. Its something I absolutely love to do. It brings me joy, happiness, and a sense of pride… It also gives me something to talk about other than losing my child. For my friend Dan who recently lost his daughter to suicide, it’s a boat. He got a run down boat for next to nothing, and him and his other children are working on it together. When it is all done they are going to name it Elaina, after his daughter. Both of Juliet’s grandmothers started purple flower gardens because purple was her favorite color. My point is- find something you love and do it. A house, a boat, a camper, a car, a garden…. WHATEVER! In life you get back what you put into it. If you chose to lay in bed rather that helping yourself like I did then don’t expect life to get any better. Because it doesn’t. If you build, grow, create, or fix something then that positive energy will come back to you. Maybe not over night, but it will.

What has helped you get through tough times? Please leave a message in the comments section!


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Child Loss



Juliet was a bright light to all who knew her. She was just as beautiful inside as she was on the outside. When she walked into a room all eyes were on her. She was smart. No common sense at all, but she was very intelligent, and was set to graduate a year early. She always made people laugh. Whether she was making pterodactyl noises, crawling around like the grudge, dramatically falling everywhere, or just making jokes in general, she was the type of girl that everyone loved and wanted to be around. But she didn’t love herself.

Juliet lost her dad to cancer. They didn’t have a very good relationship, and even though my mom and I encouraged her to make amends with him, she was very strong willed and refused to do so before his death. I don’t know if she had regrets, or how his death even effected her. She definitely wasn’t the type to open up about her feelings, but I do know that she had a huge heart, so it had to weigh on her. If I had to guess I’d say it bothered her a lot.

About a year after her dad died Juliet tried to commit suicide. I was at work when I got a phone call from Mike saying that Maddy, Juliets sister, had called him in a panic to tell him that Juliet posted a picture online of a bunch of pills saying that she was gonna end it all. I left immediately.

I got home from work and ran to the house. Juliet was sitting at the table pale and confused. I started yelling at her to go pack a bag and I helped her up the stairs to get ready. I just stared at her in shock, a million questions going through my head. I grabbed her bag and Mike and I helped her to the car. I took her straight to the emergency room, and we slept there until they could find a bed in a psych unit for her to be transferred to.

She stayed in the psych unit for about a week. It was the week of Mothers Day. Spending Mothers Day in a psych unit with your child isn’t exactly what any mother dreams of. I cried and begged her not to ever do it again. She promised me she wouldn’t. It was a promise she wouldn’t keep.

It was bike week in Ocean City Maryland. Mike and I were on our way back, having taken a much needed weekend break. My mom had stayed at our house with Justice and Juliet. We got back, unpacked, and picked up some Chinese takeout. Juliet was grounded at the time and not allowed out of her room until she apologized. I’m the type of mom who cant stay mad long. I love on my kids even when they are in trouble, and I like to keep the peace. Mike always told me that I gave in too soon and I needed to learn how to stick to my guns. Justice wanted to get Juliet for dinner, but Mike said “No”. I was trying really hard to “stick to my guns”, so I just kept quiet, even though I really wanted her to eat with us. We finished dinner and I put Juliet’s in the fridge in case she got hungry later.

I put Justice to bed around 8:30 and went downstairs to watch TV with Mike. About 20 minutes had past when I got an alert on my phone that Juliet was on Twitter. Juliet wasn’t allowed on social media because of a bad choice she had made with it back in May. That bad choice was what lead to her attempting suicide the week of Mothers Day, and going on Twitter was the reason she was currently grounded. She wasn’t even supposed to have a phone, we had taken hers from her two weeks ago when we grounded her.

Mike and I went upstairs to her room. I was so upset. I just wanted her to be happy, healthy, and make good choices, and most of all I wanted her to not be grounded anymore so I could spend time with her and hear her laugh. I busted through her door asked her where the phone was. She looked at me with a look in her eyes I had never seen before. Juliet had big, bright blue eyes, but when she looked at me they were black and empty, and her face was pale. It scared me. Later I asked Mike about it, and he said he saw the same thing. She told me she didn’t have a phone, and I yelled at her for lying to me. She handed me the phone and I told her I was gonna have her liscense suspended. What else could I do? She was already grounded.

I stomped downstairs heartbroken that she let me down, even more that she let herself down. The phone had a passcode and Mike and I sat there for a minute trying to figure it out. We were just about to give up and go ask her what it was when we heard a “POP”. There was an old TV in the hallway, and I thought maybe Juliet had kicked it, or that she was upstairs breaking things because she was mad. I sent Mike upstairs to see what was going on.

“Rach call 911. She shot herself”

I sat there for a minute not understanding what was going on. I dialed 911 and ran up the stairs. By the time I got to Juliet’s room I was talking to the 911 operator. I could smell gun powder and saw the gun on Juliet’s dresser. I handed the phone to Mike and ran to were Juliet was sitting on her bed.

In my mind her and Mike were playing a joke on me. She was sitting up, leaning on her headboard, hands in her lap, and the gun was across the room. How could she have shot herself if the gun was across the room? I held her hand. I didn’t see any blood. I heard a gurgling in her throat and she moaned. That’s when it hit me.

The next half an hour was a series if me running down the stairs to the kitchen screaming, calling my mom screaming, calling my dad screaming, and running back upstairs to look at her, or hold her hand. Mikes mom lived in the other half of our house, and I must have woken her and her boyfriend up because they came over and she was sitting with Juliet, talking to her and holding her hand while I ran around screaming and acting like a crazy person.

The police got there first. They questioned Mike and I and ask if one of us had done it. I found out that the gun was on the dresser because Mike took it out of her hand so she wouldn’t shoot herself again. The EMT’s arrived and as they carried her down the stairs to the ambulance I saw it. The giant whole in my beautiful little girls temple. I’ll never get that picture out of my head for the rest of my life. I wasn’t allowed to ride with her in the ambulance, because the police had more questions. After about half an hour of questioning I began to panic. “I need to go to the hospital, my daughter is dying!” The police kept telling me no but finally I told them I was going and I didn’t care what they said. One very nice officer offered to drive me.

On the ride there I calmed down a little. The officer told me that his nephew had shot himself too. I asked him if he lived, he told me no, he didn’t. I asked if he thought my daughter would be ok, he told me I should probably prepare myself. I remember the finality of what he said, and how it made me realize that I was probably going to have to say goodbye. I got to the hospital and was met by my mom and her husband. They took me back to Juliet’s room where she was hooked up to a ventilator. Her head was bandaged, and her eye was swollen with blood. Every time she took a breath her teeth made a tapping sound on the ventilator tube in her mouth. The doctor came in. I asked him if she was going to be ok and he told me I needed to decide if I wanted to stop life support.

The bullet went into her temple and out the other side. They gave her blood transfusions, but they couldn’t give her anymore and eventually her heart would just stop pumping. Mike was still at the house being questioned by the police when I called him. “I need you to come to the hospital now, I’m going to pull the plug.”  “What do you mean you’re going to pull the plug? She’s not gonna be ok?” he was crying, and I was still in shock. When something like this happens you just believe that everything is gonna be ok. You tell yourself it is, because reality is too hard to face. Your brain shuts down and you do everything on auto pilot, so having to understand that your child is gonna die is not exactly something your brain is ready to comprehend.

Mike got to the hospital around the same time as Juliet’s paternal grandparents, stepmom, sister, and her sisters mom, and the 9 of us stood around her bed as the nurse cut off her life support. “how long does it usually take after cutting life support for someone to die?” I asked the nurse “It varies from patient to patient but usually anywhere up to 2 hours.” Two hours is a long time to watch and wait for your child to die. Seven hours is even longer. That’s how long I was at the hospital waiting. Seven hours. It would be the longest seven hours of my life. The nurse said the reason it took so long was because she was strong and healthy and young. I thought maybe it was because she changed her mind. Mike said it was because she was a fighter.

Juliet told me once that she had no friends. I would rattle off names of people and she would shake her head and tell me that no one ever wanted to hang out with her. The day of her funeral around seven hundred people showed up. People got up and told stories of how Juliet was there for them, how she stuck up for them against bullies, how she befriended them when no one else would. They told me how she changed their life and helped them to believe in themselves, and how she was someone they could always talk to and get advice from. We released purple balloons after her service, and they all went up in different ways and then came together in the shape of a heart. Her last “I love you”. I’m glad that we all got to witness that because it let us know that wherever she is, she’s ok.


This post contains affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission when something is purchased. For our full disclosure policy please click here. When we first found our house it was only a few months after my daughters death. I had my mind set on decorating the third bedroom for her. Yes you read that right, I was gonna design a bedroom for someone who would never get to see it. I was actually very excited about it.

The thing about losing a child is that you literally LOSE YOUR MIND. Imagine a beautiful glass vase filled with water. The vase represents a parent and the water inside represents all the parents emotions, sanity, self worth, and reasoning. When you lose a child its like taking a sledge hammer to the glass vase. All the stuff that was  nice and neat and tidy inside is flung in every different direction because the glass is shattered. As a mother I was broken in a million pieces, desperately trying to put myself back together. The rational part of me had splattered all over the place, along with any sort of reason. It’s been two and a half years, and I’m still picking up the pieces.

It took lots of arguing, explaining, and frustration, but Mike was finally able to get me to understand why decorating a room for my daughter was not the best use of the space.

It began as a guest bedroom, which turned into Mikes office, which turned into my office. Here is a before picture of the room (from the listing)

This is the only picture I have from before but you get the picture….it was boring. White walls, beige carpet, and builders grade lighting. So I got to work! First I painted…. here’s that exact same spot only with paint, and a picture I scored from Home Goods

Next I applied  these gold dots that I bought from amazon to the wall at random. 

I put them on opposite corners of the side walls. I love the way they turned out, randomly beautiful! After I was finished painting and sticking my little dots to the wall I unpacked my new vanity that I pieced together from Ikea. I bought 2 sets of Alex drawers and a Linnmon table top. In case you are wondering “Why does she have a makeup vanity in her office?” it’s because my full time job is as a freelance makeup artist, but that’s a whole other post in itself.

Next I set up 2 Ikea Lack shelves on either side to put all my little nick nacks on. Last but not least I set up my lighted make up mirror that I bought off Etsy, and the mister hung a new light fixture for me that I bought at Home Goods for about $30! Here’s the final product, what do you think?



Mikes dream dog was a male blue pitbull. He literally talked about it ALL THE TIME. I also literally said “no” ALL THE TIME. We already had 2 dogs and 2 cats. I fed the dogs, took them out, fed the cats, cleaned their litter box, and the LAST thing I wanted was another animal to take care of! He harassed me for years and every time it was a big fat “NO”.  No way in hell.

The summer that Juliet died she won Justice a big stuffed dog at the beach on one of those games where you shoot a water gun at a bulls-eye and race to the top. He hasn’t put the dog down since. He sleeps with it every night, takes it to friends houses, and it sits on the sofa with him when he watches TV.

Around the one year mark of Juliet’s death I was on Facebook scrolling through my news feed when I saw a picture of the CUTEST puppy I have EVER seen. I immediately clicked on the picture to get a closer look. The puppy belonged to one of Juliet’s friends and his name was Mason.

Here’s the first picture I ever saw of him. Seriously, look at that face!

I began obsessing over Mason, checking Kaitlyn’s Facebook daily hoping to catch a glimpse of him. I woke Mike up one night to show him a picture she had just posted. “Isn’t he the cutest puppy!?!” I asked him, to which he responded “Yes, but you said we cant get another dog”. Did I mention that Mason was a blue pitbull puppy? What was wrong with me? Why was I obsessing over this dog? What was it about him that drew me in over and over. I don’t even want another dog.

It was the week of Juliet’s 18th birthday. Mike was out of town on business, and I was bored out of my mind when my phone dinged with a message. I opened the message to find that it was from my friend Rebecca who helps run a group called Help Find Sophie. HFS is a local Facebook group that helps find missing dogs by sharing their picture on Facebook. They also foster and rehome dogs, and Rebecca and her family fostered one of my dogs for us when Juliet died.

Rebecca messaged me and proceeded to tell me about a girl by the name of Kaitlyn’s whose boyfriend had broken up with her and kicked her and her dog out. Kaitlyn couldn’t keep the dog where she was staying and she had to surrender it to HFS. She was very upset, and Rebecca saw that we were mutual Facebook friends so could I please message Kaitlyn to reassure her that Mason was in good hands, and that HSF would find a good home for him. I SERIOUSLY could not believe what I was reading. I immediately called Rebecca.

“I’LL TAKE MASON!” The words were out of my mouth before I could even process what I was saying. “Maybe you should talk it over with Mike first?” Rebecca suggested. At least one of us was thinking straight. “Ok, your right, I’ll talk to Mike.” Rebecca thought it would be a good for us to take Mason because Kaitlyn knew who I was and that he would be in a good home. I just needed to convince Mike. No problem, right? I text Mike a picture of Mason that said “isn’t this puppy so cute?” to which his response was “Awww he’s adorable” to which I replied “Good because I’m adopting him.” As soon as my finger hit send my phone rang. It was Mike. Haha.

I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. I am an optimist, I’m spiritual, I look for answers from the universe, and I look for signs from my daughter.

  1. My son was obsessed with a stuffed dog my daughter won him
  2. Mike had been asking for a male blue pitbull for years
  3. Justice was really struggling with his sisters death
  4. We all were
  5. I for some strange reason was fixated with Mason
  6. It was the week of Juliet’s birthday
  7. Rebecca called me about Mason (she had no idea I was obsessing over him)

Based on all the things that happened the way they did I came to the conclusion that Mason was Juliet’s birthday gift to Justice. This was my argument when Mike called. I’m pretty sure he thought I was crazy, but when I laid it all out for him he agreed to talk about it when he got home from his trip. That was as good as a “yes” to me.


“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.”

Orhan Pamuk

The rest as they say was history. He came into our lives and brought nothing but love and snuggles. He licks Justices tears away, makes me laugh when I’m sad, and plays tug-o-war with Mike. He is a gentle giant, wrestling with Justice, playing endlessly with our yorkie, the cat even loves him. Whenever I am sad Mason always cheers me up. He licks, snuggles, smiles, and loves like no dog I have ever known. He has filled places in all of our hearts that were empty from grief. He became a best friend to my son, and a family member to us all. I can’t imagine our lives with out him, and I’m positive that he was sent to us by Juliet. He came into a family that was broken and lost, and he made us whole again. I have never loved an animal as much as i love this dog. None of us have.


Do you have a pet that has changed you life? If so I would love to hear about it!


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