Step 10 Getting Out of Survival Mode

Written By: JoJoisms - Oct• 30•17

Step ten in Getting Out of Survival Mode is finding tools that make your life easier.  For me, that was my hair.  I have crazy curly hair, but my dh likes it straight and, frankly, so do I. so I’ve spent almost a lifetime straightening my hair, but as chronic illness, surgeries, and overwhelm collide, I find myself in dire need of tools to help me save time.

Here’s what I originally wrote …

“10. Styler

I bought myself an electric styling brush that has been a life saver.  It straightens and even curls my hair when dry.  So when I wake up, I can simply run the brush through my hair and I’m done in 10-15 minutes as opposed to taking 45-60 minutes blow drying, curling and spraying my hair.”

This is what works for me. Your mileage may vary.  You may need to look for other tools to help you with different things in your life.  Here are just a few ideas.

1. There are tons of techie things that can make our lives easier: iPhones, iPads, computers, computer applications software…  now that I can’t get around very well until my foot heals I’ve been using my iPad instead of my computer in order to write, send my newsletters, and post on social media.

2.  There are also a lot of apps that can help you create whatever you need to with ease.  I’ve installed several apps on my iPad to help it function more like my computer since I can’t get my walker into my office.

3.  One of the most amazing techie items that I found recently is that my iPad comes with a voice recognition software that enables me to write without having to type.  This is a fabulous little invention for people who have arthritis, as I do, but also for people with poor eyesight (as I also have) who are  having a hard time typing or seeing the type-especially on a small screen.  In fact, that is how I’ve written this very blog post.

4.  There are many cooking tools on the market now that make it easier and quicker to cook a nutritious meal.  Most of them are advertised on Infomercials,  but many of them have proven to be of great help to those with chronic illness or other issues.

5.  I’ve also found some other handy tools for hair.  Instead of having to spend quite a lot of time styling your hair you can put it up with many new, inventive, and decorative hair thingies.

There is 2017 and there are many tools and devices that can help people with chronic illness or overwhelm or other issues do the things they need to get done each day with greater ease than ever before.  What’s your favorite?



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Step 9 Getting Out of Survival Mode

Written By: JoJoisms - Oct• 23•17

We are up to step nine and here is what I originally wrote in my article, 18 Steps to Getting Out of Survival Mode…

“9. Shower at night

Mornings are usually pretty rushed and I am exhausted when I get up.  Taking a shower at night means I don’t need to do my hair or makeup afterward.  Cuts down on the time.  In the morning I can style and put my makeup on without having to worry about taking a shower. This works for me, though it might not work for everyone.”

Scheduling your time can help in many more areas than just your shower. Here are a few more things that can benefit from scheduling them at a better time.

1. Meals can be easier if you prepare several of them in advance. Cook twice as much on one day and freeze half to use later. Or cook two meals on one day when you have more time and/or energy…or help.

2. Consider when you have more energy. If you’re a morning person, do the brain work or physical labor items in the morning. If you’re a night owl, do them at night.

3. Consider how being rushed zaps your energy.  If doing something in the rush of the morning is stressful, maybe you can do it at night when you aren’t so pressed for time.

4. Schedule smaller bites. Break up house work into sections and schedule the energy zappers at a higher energy time.  If vacuuming zaps you, don’t schedule it on the day you’re running errands.

5. Frequently look at and consult your schedule.  Feel free to say no. Sometimes we feel compelled to help and then pay for it later. If you have an especially difficult week ahead, feel free to NOT add anything else to your schedule that week.


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Step 8

Written By: JoJoisms - Oct• 16•17

Sorry we took an unexpected blog vacation there, but I guess I severely underestimated my recovery time from my fifth surgery.  I thought since it was on my foot, that I’d just be hobbling around on crutches, but it seems that even with the walker, my loose ligaments chronic issue caused me a lot of pain in my hands/wrists such that hobbling travel between my couch and my desk was both slow and painful.  I’m currently wearing wrist braces so I hope I have that under control and that I won’t need surgery on my wrists as I did my foot.

Getting back to my in depth series on getting out of survival mode, I had already shared a couple of practical ideas: #6. Have your kids help and #7. Plan. Coming in at #8. The crock pot is your friend!

Here’s what I wrote in my short article:

“The crock pot is my dearest friend.  I love being able to throw things in there in the morning and have dinner ready by the time the family needs to eat. Cuts down on that frantic time from 3-4pm when I used to run around the house trying to find the one ingredient I needed and then looking online for a suitable substitute I happened to have in my pantry.”

Now that I’m dealing with not being able to get into my kitchen much less carry things while on a walker, I’m invoking #6 and #7 as well as my crock pot.  Having your kids help can be difficult even if they are old enough because they have other things to do and the crock pot makes that even easier.

My poor son is in the middle of studying for his SAT and SAT subject tests as I’m recuperating from my latest surgery so he’s pretty busy.  Aside from all the studying, he’s having to make me breakfast and lunch, help with the laundry, cleaning the house, and…making dinner.  To make things easier for all of us, we’ve employed my crock pot full time.

No matter your diet restrictions, there are crock pot recipes out there! We were vegan for about two months so I know there are crock pot vegan recipes.  Just Google what you want and you’ll find some!

Crock pots are easy to use because you just throw all the ingredients into the pot in the morning, turn it on, and viola!  Dinner is ready for whenever you set it. It stays warm for a few hours afterward so it’s hot whenever the family strolls in.

What I do to make it even easier:

  1. I search for a few recipes a week.
  2. Make enough of each so that we have left overs at least once or twice during the week.
  3. I make one new dish on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
  4. We have left overs from the Monday/Tuesday meals on Wednesday, Friday, and from Thursday on Saturday and Sunday.
  5. Some of the recipes we do are soups, some are stews, and some are other dinners.

The other great thing about crock pot recipes is that you can:

  1. Cook beans along with the meal.
  2. Use left overs as ingredients you’d otherwise throw out.
  3. Easily adapt other recipes to the crock pot without much fuss.

The crock pot is my best friend especially during this last surgery bout because it’s kept us fed at a minimum of time and effort expenditure.



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Step 7: Getting out of Survival Mode

Written By: JoJoisms - Sep• 25•17

The next step in getting out of Survival Mode is another practical idea: Planning.  Here’s what I wrote in my first article:

“7. Plan

Dinners were always my afternoon problem.  Planning out your menu for the week does help because you don’t need to think much about what to make, which I find takes the most amount of time.  Brain fog kicks in and has me running around the kitchen trying to remember what I’m making, much less find all the ingredients. Keep things with you in your purse that you might need when you are out.  If you are on a special diet, keep some approved snacks in your purse in case you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and you need to eat.  A little planning goes a long way.”

Planning is the best way to save yourself time, money, and frustration.  Plan out whatever you can: meals, housework, projects, appointments, etc.  The more you can plan for, the less you’ll need to figure out last minute.

Life happens and so you’ll always have stuff that will come up last minute that you’ll have to work in and fly by the seat of your pants.  Don’t worry, but if you remember step one is to be flexible, you’ll be able to work that in to your plans.  The problems only intensify if you don’t plan out what you can ahead of time and then have to add in something else on top of that.  So…

Plan your meals out in advance for the week if you can.  Make sure you have those in mind when you go to the grocery store that week.  Cook up the week’s dinners in advance if you can on a weekend when family can help you.

Plan out your schedule so you don’t forget things.  I love my iPhone calendar.  I put all my dr appointments, kids’ events, and then reminders for things I’ll probably forget unless my phone dings and tells me (like to take my new meds or a dr appointment).  In addition to putting in what I need to do on my calendar/reminders, I also put in the address and, if possible, the directions.  That way I’m not scrambling last minute to find the doctor’s address.  I even have a wallet with directions to all the places I frequent so brain fog doesn’t set in and I have a panic attack trying to remember how to get to a place I’ve been to three times in the last year and get it confused with the six other doctor’s locations I’ve been to in between.

Plan out whatever you can ahead of time, when you have the time, so that you have at least those things ready to go.  Trust me. There will be plenty of other things that will pop up out of nowhere that can throw you back into Survival Mode where you will need to remember to be flexible.  Planning is just a way to help you avoid Survival Mode as much as is humanly possible.


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Step Six: Getting out of Survival Mode

Written By: JoJoisms - Sep• 18•17

Okay, we’ve had a week break from our series on Getting out of Survival Mode so let’s recap.  Step one was to Be Flexible. Step two was to Develop a Sense of Humor. Step three was to Be Open to New Things.  Step four was Don’t Discount the Silly Ideas.  Step five was Don’t Invest Too Much Time or Money on the Ridiculous.

Step six begins our practical ideas section and we start with Have Your Kids Help.  Here’s what I wrote in my original article:

“The Practical Ideas:

6. Have your kids help

Kids can be a big help to you and, generally, they LOVE helping mom out. They feel special and a feeling of accomplishment to help.  Little kids can get you a glass of water or bring you the laundry basket, or set the table.  Older kids can help the younger kids, do some of the housework, chores or even make dinner.  Teenagers can run errands, if they drive.”

There are really three parts to having your kids help when your family is in trial or you are struggling with chronic illness.

1) Children can and, in many cases, should help around the house and helping a loved one will teach them skills and give them a heart for others.

Having your children help around the house or with a loved one who is struggling with something is NOT child abuse as many in today’s society will try to tell you.  Back in the 1800’s that’s just how life was.  Everyone in the family had chores and most children grew up helping out with housework, field work (farming), and with the other children.  Just watch Little House on the Prairie and you’ll see little teens, Mary and Laura Ingalls, who stayed at home while their parents were away.  Most women got married and had children of their own at a very young age and nothing much was thought about it at the time.  My grandfather had to quit school in the 8th grade to go to work and help support his family.  It’s only recently when society began giving cart blanch to kids giving them nothing whatever to do besides going to school and playing with their friends.

Having your kids help around the house (assuming it means giving them age appropriate tasks with adequate direction and guidance) can actually be very beneficial for them.  They will learn how to do things for themselves so that, when they are adults, they will have a firm grasp on the life skills they’ll need to get along on their own in the world.

2) Kids should still have a chance to be kids so there is a danger in giving them too much to do or too much responsibility at a young age.

The danger comes in when children are given too much responsibility too soon.  Each child is different so each parent will have to decide what is age appropriate and what is enough responsibility for each of their children.  However, unless you are abusing your children by making them do what you can do for yourself or expecting them to do so much that they are not able to do their school work or are feeling pressure to carry more of the family responsibilities than they can reasonably do, this is not something you need to worry about.

I suggest that you discuss this with your children periodically to check in with them. See if they feel a burden or if they need to talk about their role or concerns about the family.  Sometimes there is no other choice, but other times there might be other options you may discover by discussing it with the entire family.  Even if there are no other options, just talking about it as a family can help to ease the burdens you all feel.

3) The battle inside you as you struggle with whatever trial you are in will frustrate you and make you feel guilty if you don’t get set rules and boundaries ahead of time.

My advice, after having decades of chronic illness and issues, is to decide what each family member should do, discussing it as a family and gaining support from each member, revisiting these responsibilities often as the kids get older or as your issues change, and then meeting those expectations as a family.

Now, that being said, let me say this.  Something just don’t need to be done. Some things can be made optional.  Some things will have to wait.  If you are not able to get to the laundry and cleaning the house, you can choose to do the laundry so everyone has clean clothes.  Let the housework slide for that week. Unless House and Garden are coming to take pictures of your home, what harm will it do to leave the dusting for a week?

Prioritizing the tasks can help you meet the needs of the household without having to stress or force a task that nobody is up to.  Some things just don’t really need to get done.  It’s better, sometimes, just to spend time with the family in a house that isn’t ready for the white glove test than to stress about getting the work done.

Either way, giving responsibility to your children can be good for them as well as for you.  Just make sure you open the lines of communication and discuss what needs to be done as opposed to what you’d really like to have done.  Then just have each member do what they can and sit back and enjoy what that brings to your family.


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Do you scar easily…on the inside?

Written By: JoJoisms - Sep• 11•17

We interrupt the 18 Steps to Getting Out of Survival Mode to bring you this important message.

I’ve had a lot of surgeries, especially recently, so when I was looking at one of my scars the other day, I remembered my poor surgeon who was visibly uncomfortable that, for all the care she took to keep my parathryoid scar from looking like someone slit my throat, it looks like someone slit my throat. LOL  They usually turn dark purple (not a bad color mind you!), thicken, and rise to a nice mountain ridge.

I’ve always been that way.  You’ll never believe where/when I got this one.  It was when I was a teenager and I was having my first cyst removed from my left wrist.  In those days, they tested you to see how long it took you to stop bleeding before the surgery was done.  They did it with a tape that had two tacks on it.  It just lightly poked through the skin.  Well, almost 40 yrs later, I still have the scar!  Crazy, huh?

As I was in the shower the other day (That’s where I do my best thinking.  I think the hot water stimulates the brain cells.), it occurred to me that, while I do scar very easily on the outside, I don’t scar very easily on the inside.  Here’s what I mean.

When I encounter someone who hurts my feelings, I usually give them the benefit of the doubt.  I figure they didn’t mean to be hurtful or they didn’t realize they were being rude or they are going through something that is clouding their thoughts…so I cut them some slack and decide not to be offended.  Even if I know the person meant to be mean or cruel, I usually look for the reasons behind why they might be this way.  When my husband was fired without cause, I could see how the owner of the company might be paranoid and harsh due to his difficult family situation…so I chose to forgive and move on.

It struck me that I might be stuck with the scars on the outside of my body all the rest of my days, but I can choose to move past any scars on the inside of my soul.  I think this is something society has forgotten in recent years.  Everyone, these days, seems to be offended by everything!  It’s getting so you can’t say hello anymore without someone taking offense.

If you’re going through hard times, trials, difficulties, dark days, you have enough to deal with.  You don’t need to pile more on top like whipped cream and a cherry.  Yes, I’ve had people think I’m making a mountain out of a difficult molehill.  Yes, I’ve had people say unkind things to me because they don’t understand.  No, I don’t think we should necessarily frequent their company while we are still deep in trial and in need of support or comfort.  But, yes, I do think we can still find it in us to let things slide, pick our battles, choose to forgive, and/or just move on.  While it might very well save a friendship, it will save you added difficulties!


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I’m Living on Bonus Time

Written By: JoJoisms - Sep• 08•17

It’s my birthday today!  I’m 55.  On the one hand, it seems too soon for me to feel 55, but on the other hand, I could have been denied the opportunity.  If you’ve read my Miracle Story, you know that it’s entirely possible that I would have never made it to see my 55th birthday.  No matter what chronic health issues or other issues I face now, I can look to that and feel blessed that I had the extra time to feel however I feel about that issue.  It got me thinking…

You know that old saying, “I’m living on borrowed time?”  I was thinking the other day that I’m living on Bonus Time.  There comes a time in some people’s lives when they are keenly aware of being given extra time here on this earth.  You may not be aware that God saved you from being killed in a car wreck by diverting your traffic to a different street.  You may not be aware that you narrowly missed a gun fight at the OK Morale, but you are keenly aware of the bonus time God has given to you when you hear several of your doctors all in awe of the fact that they found a rare and aggressive cancer in its infancy when most women die because it’s found too late to help them.

Living on Borrowed Time means to me that you have a short time left, but Living on Bonus Time means I have no idea how long I have on this earth just like anyone else.  But it does make me more likely to want to do more with whatever time I have left than most people might.

For all of you who have escaped a death sentence, you know how blessed you are and I’m willing to bet that you don’t want to waste the time you’ve been granted.  But for all the rest of you out there, I’m going to challenge you.  Like me, you have no idea how much time you have left.  You could live another 50 years or you could step off a curb tomorrow into oncoming traffic and it’s all over.

What are you doing to do with whatever time YOU have left?


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Step 5: Getting Out of Survival Mode

Written By: JoJoisms - Sep• 04•17

If you’re living in Survival Mode for health or financial or any other reason, you’ve probably had people share some unbelievably ridiculous solutions with you.  Either that or you’ve found them yourself by trolling the internet in search of ANY answers.  While our answers can come from the most ridiculous places, it is wise not to spend too much time, and especially money, entertaining the ridiculous solutions because they may not actually be worth it.  As I shared in my original article, some things that sound ridiculous, actually are!:

5. Don’t invest too much time or money in the ridiculous

On the other hand, some things that sound ridiculous actually are.  Don’t spend too much time or money on things that don’t work.  I only try things that show a preponderance of evidence that it works.  And I only spend money on things that are reasonable given my financial situation and that evidence.  Otherwise you’ll be a broke and busy chronically ill person.


It may sound ridiculous to spend money on a training program that helps you earn money when in financial trial because you actually need more money, but that’s exactly what worked for us.  We spent money we had, but couldn’t really afford to lose on a real estate investment program and that is what made us money when my husband first lost his job.  It sounds a bit counter intuitive, but it actually worked.  What we had to decide was if we felt this was something we could do, would do, and that it could help us earn money in the very near future.  We did and it did, even though, as it turns out the program no longer works today because the rules have changed.  It did then and that’s all that mattered at the time to make our decision.

But some things that sound ridiculous, actually ARE!  Now the hard part is to determine what is ridiculous for YOU because the very same thing that will help your friend, may not actually help you.  Your circumstances, talents, aptitudes, and situation is different from anyone else.  Only you can weigh all involved in order to come to a decision for YOU.   That program we purchased, when we purchased it, would have been completely ridiculous if we had purchased it today, or if we weren’t really able or willing to work it, or if we didn’t have the cash available at the time.  Someone else may have found real estate too risky, complicated, or in some other way problematic.

Now, if you’re living in Survival Mode, you may feel one of two ways: desperate enough to try anything or disillusioned enough that nothing seems it will help.  Each can be both a blessing and a curse.  Here’s what I mean:

If you are desperate enough that you will give the ridiculous a try, you may either find your answer hidden in an unlikely place or you may find yourself deeper in trial.  If you are desperate enough, I caution you to evaluate the ridiculous as impartially as you can, get opinions from trusted friends and family who ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND YOUR SITUATION, and make sure you do your due diligence in research before you go ahead.

If you are disillusioned such that you can’t see anything working for you, you may miss out on something truly amazing, or you may, indeed, avoid a further tragedy.  My caution is the same.  Make sure you do your due diligence and research all you can find with an open mind.  Then, as open minded as you are able, weigh the costs and benefits against your situation.  Finally, get trusted friends and family to weigh in, but make sure they are friends and family who ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND YOUR SITUATION.

Your answers may, indeed, come from the utterly ridiculous. On the other hand, the ridiculous is called ridiculous for other than ridiculous reasons.


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Step Four: Getting Out of Survival Mode

Written By: JoJoisms - Aug• 28•17

So far I’ve shared three steps for getting out of Survival Mode from my article, 18 Steps to Living Better with Chronic Illness.  Step 1: Be Flexible.  Step 2: Develope a Sense of Humor.  Step 3: Be Open to New Things.  And this week, Step 4: Don’t Discount the Silly Ideas.

Here’s what I wrote in my original article as it relates to chronic illness:

“4. Don’t discount the silly ideas

Those new things can sometimes come in the form of the ridiculous. How can some oil that smells like lavender make me feel better?  Does it make sense that drinking something to give you more stomach acid will help?  Well, yes.  What may sound silly or ridiculous to you, might just help you through something.  Lavender essential oil and other oils have actually helped me sleep better.  And my heartburn isn’t a result of too much acid, but too little such that I am not digesting my food. This causes other issues resulting in my heartburn.”

Some things sound downright silly. Some sound counter intuitive.  Yet others sound completely ridiculous!  I’m not saying you should try or even entertain every crackpot idea people throw your way, but I am suggesting that you look into every one of them a bit further to see if it might be something you should try.

Some things aren’t worth trying after you investigate them for one of several reasons.  They might be too expensive.  They might be something that clashes with your values or your body in the case of health issues.  They might present too great a risk for the benefit they profess.

However, some things, the more you look into them, might be worth a go.  Out of the unlikely places of the corners of the Twilight Zone sometimes emerges a helping hand.  Just because something sounds insane, doesn’t mean it is.  Just because you never heard of it before, doesn’t mean it may not be the answer to prayer.

Now, some things may seem to help or help only temporarily.  At the time I wrote my original article, I was sleeping a tiny bit better after trying essential oils. Unfortunately, it was very short lived and may have been a fluke as I tried to repeat it night after night, I was unable to make any strides in my insomnia.  But it was definitely worth a try!  Many people report feeling better with essential oils, it had no chance of side effects, and smelled heavenly!

From the most unlikely of places sometimes comes a solution you’ve spent years searching for.  Here’s a small example of an answer to something that came from as unlikely a source as I could ever have imagined.  I’ve written a long post about my miracle story before, but the Reader’s Digest Version of it is this.

My doctor insisted I have a test to see if my fibroid was still there.  We were both sure it wasn’t as they tend to disappear after menopause and I was so close to the end after many years of peri.  I would never have agreed to have this test if I had to pay for it on my own, but I had insurance at the time so I consented.  While they found that it had, indeed, disappeared, they found a cyst on my left ovary.  It was the kind that can become cancerous so I had surgery to remove both the cyst and the ovary as they were difficult to separate.  During the surgery, my doctor decided to go the extra mile and remove the fallopian tube as well.  After the pathology report came back positive for cancer of the fallopian tube, I was scheduled to have a radical hysterectomy to remove EVERYTHING else.  Because the cancer I had was very rare and aggressive, they wanted to make sure it hadn’t spread.  It was so early in the diagnosis that I didn’t require chemo or radiation.  And it was very rare for a woman to survive this cancer because it is usually diagnosed too late for a cure.

If I hadn’t had the insurance at the time, I would have died.

If my surgeon hadn’t decided to be on the safe side and remove my fallopian tube as well, I would have died.

If my doctors all hadn’t moved as quickly as they did, they would have found it too late and, I would have died.

My cure, to a cancer NOBODY even knew I had, came from having insurance at the exact timing necessary and doctors who were careful and quick about something nobody would ever have thought to look for.

Be open to new things.  You never know where your solution may come from!


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Step Three: Getting Out of Survival Mode

Written By: JoJoisms - Aug• 21•17

We’re up to step three in my 18 week series, 18 Steps to Getting Out of Survival Mode.  Step one was to Be Flexible and step two was to Develop a Sense of Humor.  Step three is to Be Open to New Things.

So I know how you feel.  I’ve been there before.  You’ve tried just about everything you could afford and remotely sounds feasible.  You’ve listened to friends and family drone on about how you “should do” this or that.  You’re probably tired of people telling you what you should do.  I’ve been there so I know how annoying it is to have people suggest the very same things you’ve just tried or can’t afford or are allergic to or whatever it is that prevents you from it.

But here’s the thing.  Here’s what I wrote in my original article. It’s not much, but it’s powerful. At least it was for me.

“3. Be open to new things
Sometimes you need to be open to the possibility that something new might help you–even if you’ve tried it before. Sometimes circumstances aren’t right and, as you gain more strength or balance your diet or meds, that new idea might just work.”

Sometimes we get to a point where we just don’t want to hear it anymore, but sometimes it’s the very thing we need to hear…just one more time.  Maybe it’s the way it’s done that’s different. Maybe it’s doing it in combination with something else. Maybe it’s just time.

I used to post on Facebook about my chronic health issues and had DOZENS of people PM me with the latest and greatest cure all, sure fire method to solve all my problems.  I seriously got tired of hearing it.  No matter what I did or took, I just couldn’t sleep longer than 3hrs at a time and four or five hours total each night. I tried everything but sleeping pills.  One day, my doctor recommended I take a melatonin and magnesium at night.  I just about had a purple conniption!  I’ve TRIED that before…and Valerian Root Tea…and several other things.  But she said to try it again with a muscle relaxer she was prescribing.  Well, it works for me!  I call it my Triple M!  Two things that never worked for me before along with one I hadn’t tried and SHAZAM!

Sometimes you need to stop the madness and not listen to the same things over and over again…to save your sanity.  But sometimes, taking the very same thing you did two years ago, just might work this time because your body has changed or because it’s taken differently or with something else.  Listen to your doctor, pray, and seek what your gut is telling you.  It might be telling you to be open to new things again…or old things in a new way.


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