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Life du Coeur

Join me as I explore Depression as an invisible illness, on my journey into gender, and through life in general.

“I was not ladylike, nor was I manly. I was something else altogether. There were so many different ways to be beautiful.”— Michael Cunningham, A Home at the End of the World.

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Depression Posts

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Transgender Posts

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Life in General Posts

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General Post: Productivity

So, I’ve been applying to a ton of jobs lately. My wife and I have been planning to make a move to another city where we think we’ll be happier. It’ll be a move from a house that we’re renting from her parents to an apartment of some sort. So, in a sense, it will be a downgrade in our living standards. However, the more queer friendly environment will more than make up for the smaller living space. Besides, we should probably be making due with much less than we have anyway.

There is a caveat to the move, however. I have to find a full time job. As we are now, we’re barely making ends meet. But, my wife is starting a full time teaching position in July so we should be doing much much better. Her position alone, unfortunately and somewhat outrageously, will not allow us to afford a two bedroom apartment. Mind you she has a masters in teaching and has been in the profession for eleven years, and she still doesn’t make a living wage.

The reason she and I weren’t full time for the past year is that we were trying to heal up our mental scars from having worked for the past three years. She was burnt out from having taught and worked extra every night and weekend. I was burnt out from a string of hostile bosses. I experienced so much stress from these experiences that I know have what amounts to a phobia of the workplace. I managed to get a temporary position with a very nice boss who was definitely understanding of my time off, despite her knowing nothing about my depression and transgender identity. Yet this still gave me anxiety, because I was expecting every moment to be berated and belittled for everything I did. It never really happened. Yet, the anxiety was there. I can no longer experience work without feeling that anxiety regardless of the personality of my boss. I’m preconditioned to expect bad behavior now.

Our culture does not make exception for healing. There is no insurance coverage from time spent away from the workplace due to burnout. There’s no coverage at all, and in fact, spending any time away from the workplace becomes a stigma upon your permanent work record. I’m having issues finding a new job and I can only assume it’s because I have two temp jobs that are far between after I left a permanent job of one and a half years. In short, Capitalism is starting to take notice of my illness. “We need someone who is going to be here,” is what I frequently hear from employers who are willing to talk to me. The worst part is that I cannot bring up my illness to combat this outdated ideal. It’s been proven time and again that attendance doesn’t necessarily correlate to productivity. In fact, religious attendance has a negative correlation with productivity. We, as human beings, need rest. We need time outside of work. Capitalism has become our religion and workaholism has become our beckon call. It’s become the norm rather than the exception. Perfection in attendance has become the standard by which we are all judged, despite the fact that perfection can be reached by no one.

Capitalism and all its ideology has begun to replace all the aspects of our lives. Religion is fading, politics is rhetoric, money is pervasive, productivity is everything. Having children and being poor has taught us to seek out those activities which do not cost money. I urge you all to try and seek out activities that don’t cost money. Think about that prospect and you’ll shortly come to the conclusion that you think of nearly everything in terms of money now. The necessities for living are not provided by nature any longer but are provided by the state, and in doing so, the state requires that we pay for them. Because nearly all things have been commoditized. How scary is that, that there is nearly nothing left that is free to us to enjoy anymore? Even the nature we can enjoy is commoditized. We pay the state through our taxes or we pay entry fees in order to upkeep and access it. Everything is commoditized, even human beings.

Only the already wealthy can afford to simply exist anymore. The nature of the stock market is such that as long as the belief in capitalism prevails, the relative worth of companies will continue to rise. As long as this is so, those wealthy enough to access this system of passive wealth creation will be able to simply exist. There is a monetary threshold for this means of existence and it is rapidly getting higher and higher and hence less and less accessible. Wealth funnels to the top, and the top hoards wealth. So, where does that leave the rest of us?

Outright slavery has been outlawed, but it has been replaced with forced labor in the prison systems. So, it still exists in spirit if not in definition. We can quibble over semantics, but the truth of the matter is that a great number of people have lost their rights to freedom and are being forced to work for next to nothing in hostile environments. The rest of us who are not independently wealthy or enslaved by the prison system are defined more and more by society solely by our productivity in a very strict definition of the word. This version of productivity doesn’t even have anything to do with what a person actually does or does not do. A person like me who writes regularly in a blog is considered unproductive because that blog is not seen as valuable. I unproductively write short stories and am studying religion. I am seen as unproductive because I do work outside the monetary system that is not meant for strictly monetary gain. Let me stress that it is especially since I do not do work for others who own a business and are already wealthy that I am seen as unproductive. I have a side business doing bookkeeping that I run, but I cannot put that on a resume because it is seen as a detriment to my productivity. I cannot put my short stories or blog posts on my resume because that is also seen as counterproductive. I cannot tell employers about my transgender identity or my depression because those are seen as counterproductive. Lately, it seems that everything that makes me who I am is seen by the world as a lack of productivity.

So, the question becomes, how does one exist within or without that system? You can’t be a non-productive member of society because it takes money to run all the machinery. You can’t live outside the society because there physically is no place for that. What is one to do? I feel I’m not entirely alone in this either. I’m one of a growing number of people who are being marginalized and steamrolled by the machinery that is Capitalism. Capitalism doesn’t care if you live or die. In fact, it stresses that those that cannot cope within the system should die. I just cannot believe in a social system that espouses that value: death to the unwealthy. It’s only a matter of time before the pig gets too fat and chokes itself. Those that funnel have gotten more and more blatant about their funneling, and it’s getting more and more obvious how the system works. It’s only a matter of time before they learn to skim less obviously or before the guillotines come out.

Positivity Journal #5 – Setting a Good Intention

Prompt 5: Do you believe that setting a good intention for your day can help you have a better day? Why or why not?

I definitely believe that setting a good intention for the day can be helpful in having a good day. Life is all about goals and working toward them. You have to set your own goals in order to have a meaningful life, and the goals you set all depend on what is meaningful to you. Really that’s the deal with life, the only meaning we can derive from it is what meaning we ascribe to it ourselves.

So, yes, I do believe that setting a good intention for the day will help have a better day overall.  When you set a good intention for the day you’re really setting your mood regardless of what the rest of the events of the day have in store.  You’re setting yourself up to be positive and to try and overcome the things that bring you down during the day.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be able to accomplish this.  There might be something that happens during the day, an offhand comment by a boss or coworker or something else completely out of your control, that sends you on a downward spiral.  However, if you’ve set your good intention for the day, you have a much better chance of getting out of that spiral.

I think it’s worth taking a look at the opposite situation, setting a bad intention.  I think it’s especially easy to do this with depression.  What does it mean to set a bad intention?  If you tell yourself at the beginning of the day that you’re going to do poorly in everything you do or that you’re going to fail or that people will treat you poorly, that is setting a bad intention.

It might be helpful to talk a little bit about how your mind works.  The first path along which the mind works is upon impressions and perception.  There are millions of little random thoughts that happen throughout the day and those are beyond our control.  That is inner life.  It is influenced by memory and such.  There is also outer life which is what impressions come to us through our five outer senses (your inner consciousness being the sixth sense).  Both of these influence the little randomnesses that pop up in our brain based on memory, logic, reason, emotion, etc.: i.e. everything that’s been stored in your mind and the various ways that your mind functions.  These two things, inner and outer impressions, are basically uncontrollable.  If you meditate, they will quiet down a little bit on their own, the same way a pond quiets down on its own after a rock is thrown into it.

The second path of mind is the mood or intention.  It can be positive, negative or neutral.  What mood and intention do is flavor the uncontrollable impressions either positively or negatively.  It flavors the way you see the world, both inner and outer.  I think I’ve said before that depression is a disease of mood.  With depression, your brain typically sets a negative mood which triggers negativity in the following pathways.  It is worth nothing that there can be choice at this stage.  One can choose to have a positive or negative mood.  As I mentioned though in my post on optimism though, depression works to automatically flavor things negatively.  So there is extra work involved in setting a positive mood for those with depression.

The third path is reaction.  This is the rise of the six or eight basic emotions and their various combinations.  Emotions and thoughts arise automatically based on the interaction of impressions and mood.  It’s a complicated mix of the flavor of mood you have at the time of the impression as well as life experiences held in your memory and your capabilities in terms of logic or reason and the way in which you interpret impressions.  When an emotion arises is usually the first time we are aware of the influence of an impression.  Emotions and thoughts can be positive or negative.

The fourth path is action.  Based on the emotions and thoughts that have arisen and the mood or intention that has been set, we act upon impressions in different ways.  Action is the first step at which we connect the inner world to the outer world.  It’s the step at which we attempt to shape things outside of ourself.  This is also typically the first place that we really exert any control.  This is the point at which each of us has a choice.  It’s interesting that our choice always lies at the boundaries between self and other.  

Maybe it works conversely too?  Maybe the point at which other interacts with us, the path of impressions and perception, that the universe exhibits its own choice.  This would make sense according to quantum physics.  In the double slit experiment, it appears as though the photons get to make a choice upon interacting with the slits: they can go through one or the other so long as the overall appearance is that of the wave of light going through both.  Even down to the smallest bit of information in the universe is choice allowed.  The universe is filled with choices every time anything interacts with anything else.  Imagine all the choices that go on within your own body every single time one cell interacts with another.

If you liked what you read, please consider sharing the post with your friends or on your own page. Please also consider checking out my Patreon, Facebook page, and Instagram to pick up some great freebie poetry and flash fiction that I’m putting out for the month of May only!

Thank you again!

-ClearlyCassy

Positivity Journal 4: Create a mantra for yourself.

Hello all,

So the actual wording for this prompt is as follows: Create a morning mantra for yourself that you could use to start each day off right.  Write about what it means to you.

So, first off, just what is a mantra and what is the point of a mantra?

A mantra is a set of words or phrases that are meant to be repeated to help remember some underlying meaning that may or may not be contained within the words themselves. They’re kind of like mnemonic devices for remembering bigger ideas. I think a point that some people miss about mantras is that they don’t have to be literal.

So, in order to create a mantra for myself, I need to know what it is that I need to keep reminding myself of throughout the day. I have to remind myself of several things. I have to remind myself that the thoughts I think sometimes aren’t true, and that I need to be careful and evaluate each one before letting it reign in my mind. I need to remind myself that when I feel anger, I need to step back and stop myself from performing any rash actions. Next, I need to look at what made me angry in the first place and realize that it probably wasn’t something personal that I should be angry about in the first place.

So all that being said, I’m not going to come up with some literal crap that helps me remember those things. We have to at least make it sound cool. So here goes:

The mind clouds
seek the cleansing of light
While the god Lyssa rages
depart, seek refuge in reason
and untie the knots to uncover the underlying plague

There, I think that’s a suitable mantra. It covers my depression and anger, includes a references to a forgotten Greek goddess, and it doesn’t literally mention any of the things it actually talks about. Plus, it will be cool to recite in the morning right?

Thank you for listening and feel free to use my mantra if you think it might help you. I think I should probably try using it for the next week or so and see if it does me any good. Perhaps I’ll actually gain something from it, who knows?

If you liked what you read, please consider sharing the post with your friends or on your own page. Please also consider checking out my Patreon, Facebook page, and Instagram to pick up some great freebie poetry and flash fiction that I’m putting out for the month of May only!

Thank you again!

-ClearlyCassy

Positivity Journal 3-Do you consider yourself an optimist?

Well at first glance this is an easy one. I definitely do not consider myself an optimist in general, but the question begs deeper analysis.  

Depression

Most of my outlook on life is tinged by the glasses that I look through, and the major pair of glasses I wear are colored by depression.  Depression really isn’t a character trait.  I think people sometimes fail to understand that.  It isn’t actually a part of me.  It’s an outside influence that just happens to be in my mind.  It taints my view of the world and things that are happening to me, and because of this tainted view of the world, it’s difficult to regulate my behaviors in a proper way.  People think that depression is a character trait, which means that just being sad and misreading people is part of who I am as a person, but that’s not true at all.  The truth is that it is an outside source of information, a thing separate from myself that gets to intrude in between the normal processes that occur within my brain. So really the question, “am I an optimist,” is more difficult to answer. Do I typically see things positively throughout the day? No, not really. However, my processing function is really messed up. So, I’m not really experiencing the world like everyone else is because I have that extra, added layer of interpretation between me and my senses. In reality, depression is a diseased sense of optimism. I don’t really know if it’s possible to be depressed an optimistic at the same time. Maybe at certain times during your life when your depression isn’t hitting you as hard or is latent, then maybe optimism can come out, but otherwise, it’s relegated to the background. Optimism happens first and then depression kicks in and ruins that view.

Preview/Postview?

So the question really is, before the depression taints everything, is my view optimistic? I think that it might be impossible to tell. I think that the process whereby depression skews the viewpoint happens so quickly that the argument could be made that it is instantaneous. I know for a fact that it is possible to fight against the preview that depression gives us. That’s basically what cognitive behavioral therapy is. So it might be possible to have depression and still be an optimist, but it’s very difficult depending upon the level of depression that you face. So, basically you are either an optimist or not naturally in the first place. Then, you face the influence of depression upon your thoughts. At this point you are automatically pessimistic. Finally, you have the ability to fight or choose not to fight the depression and regain a sense of optimism. I don’t know if this is true for people without depression, but for people with depression, this makes optimism somewhat a choice. Of course, there is the matter of having enough willpower left over in order to fight the depression enough that you can actually overcome it. This is definitely not the case for all people, i.e. not everyone can actually overcome it and not everyone who can overcome it can overcome it at all times. Sometimes it’s a losing battle.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my posts. If you like what you see, please consider following me. I also have a Patreon page that I’ll be posting poetry and flash fiction to. If you enjoy what you read here, please consider donating to help support my writing and to read some really good fiction!

Positivity Journal 2-What is the best way to lift someone else’s spirits?

I’m having trouble with this prompt because my spirits have been so low lately. I’ve recently begun switching medications for my depression, and it’s left me pretty much back at the beginning in terms of my emotional control. Basically I’ve been a mess for the past couple weeks, and I’m still trying to hold things together, but it keeps getting harder and harder the longer I’m off meds. I guess this should give me some inspiration for this post though. What actually raises my spirits?

What lifts my spirits?

Well, currently it’s been writing, reading, and listening to music. I’ve been working on some short stories lately, and that has been a godsend. In fact, I have one that I have in beta reader stage. It’s called “My Crush the Mind Reader,” and it’s about two young, college aged women who start a relationship, but one of them happens to be a mind reader. The story covers both the development of their relationship as well as the implications that come along with a person being able to read minds. I really enjoyed writing the first draft, and I’m proud of my work. I’m really looking forward to getting feedback from my readers, and I can’t wait to edit this time around.

I’ve been reading a lot as well. I’ve been diving in pretty heavily into LGBTQ fiction, especially lesbian romance. It’s really helped raise my spirits seeing two people fall in love. Being trans, it has affirmed my own relationship with womanhood and lesbianism as well. The two books I’ve read so far in this genre have been “Tipping the Velvet” (which I highly, highly recommend) and “Waiting in the Wings“. I’m planning on going to a reading club meeting in May in order to talk about the new gay novel “Eleventh Hour.”

Social Interaction

I’ve recently also been trying to talk to new people and reach out into several communities. I discovered an app on my phone called “Patook“. It’s basically like a dating app without the dating. It’s meant to develop strictly platonic relationships, and it’s full of people just like me who have trouble developing relationships. I’ve already met quite a few people on there, and it keeps snowballing. It’s really nice to see how much can be accomplished when the awkwardness of dating is out of the way. Everyone has been fairly nice so far, and I haven’t had any problems being trans at all. Everyone seems cool with it. Like I mentioned above, I’m also planning to attend an LGBTQ book club in May. I also had the opportunity to join a small meetup for trans femme people in Northampton, MA. That meetup wasn’t quite as fruitful as I had hoped it would be, but it was still a good opportunity to meet a few people in the community and see what some of the major issues facing younger trans women are. I think I’m slightly out of the age range of the participants, so it wasn’t really that helpful to me.

How to lift others’ spirits?

So, I’ve been talking a lot about myself, but the post is really supposed to be about how to lift the spirits of others. I think that a lot of what I wrote above about how I’ve been trying to raise my spirits really applies to introverts. I get my energy from self-reflection and writing tends to be a very good way to go about that. I think in order to raise another person’s spirits, one could offer to critique their writing. I know that I really enjoy receiving feedback from my friends about my writing whether its positive or negative, it’s all helpful.

In terms of reading, I think that sharing books together would be a great way to raise someone’s spirits. I know I seek alternate realities through reading, and sharing those realities is a way to bring them to life. This is why I really want to go to the reading group in May. I really think that it’ll help on more than one front. I’ll be able to share my love of reading and socialize at the same time!

Transgender Journey – 11 months

So it’s been eleven months on hormones now, and it’s more than time for an update on my progress as several things have changed.

Bodily Changes

So I’ve started finally noticing a lot of bodily changes. My hair everywhere on my body has started to get a lot thinner than it was 11 months ago. I’ve really noticed it on my legs, my chest, and my face. With my legs after shaving, the hair hasn’t seemed to be coming back in as thickly as it was. That also means it’s like slightly easier to pluck using an epilator on my legs.

The hair on my chest is really thinning out. I used to have really dark hair all over my chest in kind of a cross pattern going through the center of my chest, but now it’s basically just the center of the pattern that’s still noticeably there at all anymore. It’s, unfortunately, still there though so I stubbornly have to shave my chest pretty much any time I shave my face. Otherwise, if I wear something low cut, you could see chest hair.

Finally, my face has also started thinning pretty considerably. There’s definitely still a lot of hair growing there, but I’ve found that it’s all along my jawline and my chin. Nothing really grows in my cheek area anymore. The hair is still dark enough that I still have to shave every day if I want to maintain a smooth face though. I could probably still grow a neckbeard if I wanted (I sincerely don’t). I’m eventually going to have to start laser and electrolysis, but I think that the hair is on a good path toward being much less visible.

Speaking of my face, my skin has gotten considerably softer, and I believe the fat has redistributed enough to start to give me a more feminine appearance.

My breasts have been consistently growing little by little. I think that I’ll probably end up with an A or B cup ultimately. I don’t think I’ll probably grow too much more than I already have. This just means I’ll have to lose weight to give the appearance of having any sort of chest. I still have yet to buy a bra if that tells you anything. I don’t think I really need one yet, certainly not for support of any sort. I think I’ll still be buying some just for the aesthetic mainly. Plus, it will give me a bit of padding.

Sex talk follows:

So, sex has continued to be weird for me. Orgasms are pretty much a fraction of what they used to be before the hormones. I’m definitely not experiencing this whole body stuff and multiples like some girls talk about. I don’t know if it’s because my hormones have been so low for so long or how I’ve been going about the process or what. I don’t know what it is, but I plan to talk to my endocrinologist about it. Overall, it’s been disappointing to say the least. Hopefully, it will get better as I continue the hormone therapy.

End Sex talk

Emotional Changes

So, my emotions have continued to be a lot stronger than they were before the hormones. I do like it. I’m able to cry a lot easier, and I’ve been crying fairly often. I wish I could say the same about my positive emotions, but it’s mainly been negativity lately anyway. I talked to my psychiatrist about my depression meds and we decided to wean me off the venlafaxine. The process of weaning off the medication has been okay. I haven’t experienced any of the nasty side effects that they talk about (head buzzing, electric finger tips, etc.). However, my depression is definitely coming back en force. So, I’ve had to deal with that during this not particularly unchallenging part of my life. Not going to lie, I’ve had some pretty bad days. Especially when things tend to pile up. Like, a week or so ago I was sick with a weird, one day version of the flu and my son had an ear ache that he ended up having to go to the ER for (mainly because nobody else was open). I wasn’t able to go with him because my emotions were so out of control that I just couldn’t stop myself from crying. I actually ended up crying for about two hours straight because things were just so out of control. It was a complete break down. I’m hoping that at my next psychiatrist appointment I’ll get put on something a little more effective.

Cultural Changes

Since I’m passing a little bit now, I’ve been trying to dress in female clothes a bit more often. I’m definitely dressing “feminine” at home–female jeans and a t-shirt or a skirt and a t-shirt. The big change though is that I’ve gone out a handful of times dressed en femme already. I’ve only been dressing if I feel like I’m going to a relatively safe space though. Like, I haven’t gone to the grocery store or anything. I’ve definitely been dressing for my therapy appointments. I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in female clothes than in male clothes these days. I think that “full time” is definitely on the horizon.

Another change I’ve made culturally is that of my name. I’ve been starting to use the name Cassandra, or Cassy, rather than Kris. I’ve been using the name for Instagram, my short stories, and other social media. I’ll probably end up changing it on here soon.

Denouement

That’s pretty much everything I can think of currently. Of course, if any of you have any questions, feel free to ask. Thank you all for taking time to read about my journey!

Transgender Journey – 6 months

Transgender Journey 6 months

Physical Changes

Body hair

I’ve noticed that the hair on my arms and legs has finally started getting a bit softer and lighter.  I’ve also noticed that the hair on my stomach is starting to turn blond rather than the darker black that it used to be.  The hair on my face is pretty much the same, but it definitely seems to be slightly less thick and full than it used to be.  It’s still a pain to shave.  Of course the thinner look of the hair could just be because of the softer nature of the skin on my face too.

Boobs

I have them.  I have to admit that now.  When I shaved my face for these pictures, I also shaved my chest, and it is undeniable that I have some little booblets going now.  Mind you, they don’t look like boobs at all, they just look like I have a fat chest, which is why I’m not really happy with them yet.  They don’t really match my weight at all so far, but I know that it can take quite a while for breasts to grow during puberty 2.

Face

There are some changes in my face My skin is definitely softer looking and smoother than it used to be.  You can see that pretty plainly in my timeline picture below.  My eyes also do seem a little wider/bigger.  I don’t know what’s going on there.  My eyebrows seem different in the picture too, but I swear I haven’t done anything with them at all.  I should note that in the picture below, in the top left and bottom right, I’m wearing makeup.  I have on eye shadow, eye liner, and mascara as well as some lipstick.  I’m not wearing any rouge although it looks like it.  I have on a little bb cream on my chin and over my mustache area.

Chris Six months hrt vs day zero

My Marriage

I had one request that I talk about how I’ve been able to keep my marriage going strong during all these changes.  There really isn’t any secret trick or anything.  The only reason it’s going strong is because my wife and I love each other, she’s open to being with a transgender woman, and she and I communicate openly and often.  When I was first starting to consider that I might be trans, I told her everything up front and decided that it would be best for both of us if I were to wait to do anything until she’s comfortable with it.  I didn’t immediately go out and buy a female wardrobe or anything.  I started small with makeup.  That’s still all I’m doing now basically.  I’m looking into starting to try women’s clothing after the holidays.  That’s mostly because I feel like I might actually start looking better in them than in men’s clothes.  I cannot stress enough that the only reason we’re going strong is that we’re both willing to work together.  If either party isn’t willing to work on things together, then it probably isn’t going to work out.  There’s no magic spell that I’m casting on her or anything either.  It’s all her choice really.  You’re basically introducing your spouse to a new person when you find out that you’re trans.  And, your spouse has the right to decided that she’s immediately not interested in that person.  Some people just aren’t interested in other women/trans women, and there’s nothing that you can do to change that, unfortunately.  Like everything else in a relationship, it comes down to respecting your spouse as a free person.  I’m doing everything in my power to make this transition easy on her, but ultimately it’s her choice whether she stays or not and I don’t have any power over that.  I guess the only thing I can really say is that if you love each other a lot and you communicate well with each other then you have a better chance of staying together than if not.

My First Chaser

I did post these pictures up on Reddit, Instagram, and Facebook before writing this post so I’ve received some feedback on them.  Before I took the pictures I did my makeup based on a video by another trans girl named Luna Black.  She had a really good simple makeup tutorial on YouTube.  Here is her YouTube Channel.  You can also find her on Instagram, @lunasnapspics.  In any case, I found her video on Reddit, and told her that I subscribed to her channel and that I used her tutorial in order to do my makeup for my 6 month timeline photos.  She saw that, and included me in one of her stories on Instagram.  I ended up getting 71 likes on that photo, more than ever before.  However, I also got a random message from some dude trying to hit me up.  He was mostly nice, but he kept asking for selfies, so I eventually decided to block him.  It was a weird experience because I’m not used to people being attracted to me.  It was both eww and validating at the same time, which I guess is a common experience for trans women.

Well thank you for listening to me.  As always, if you like this post, please give some of my others a read.  Please like and share if possible.  You can find me on Facebook,  @fictionducoeur.  Thank you!