My Adoptee Awakening and Cutting Through Spiritual Shortcuts

Disclosure Statement: If you are someone who considers yourself a Christian, Jesus Follower, Church Goer, Religious Guru, Or if you believe your way of spirituality is the only way, I am asking you to save your comments, judgments, and opinions and share them on other platforms as there are many churches, online platforms and religious circles that would love to use the glory in your story to promote their church and religion. Please don’t come here to use your story to discredit mine. This page and article isn’t for you. We are all free to have our personal spiritual beliefs and journeys. My space’s boundary is not allowing others to use their personal stories to belittle mine.

Chapter 6.

“Spiritual bypassing frequently presents itself as an opportunity to fast-track spiritual progress, a shortcut through delusion to enlightenment. The real delusion here, of course, is the very idea that one can actually cut corners in spiritual practice. All of our attempts to dodge the messy world or difficult relationships, unpleasant emotions, and whatever else we would rather avoid only sidetrack and obstruct us, eventually generating enough suffering to draw us back to the steps we skipped or only partially took — of honoring, digesting, embodying, and integrating the essential lessons in our lives.” – Spiritual Bypassing, When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters. Page 37.

In the recovery world, in my world, this concept of Spiritual Bypassing actually set me up for a false reality that I was healed and that I had done the work to get to authentic happiness and wholeness. Don’t get me wrong, I did the work, but it was fast-tracked as if I was running out of time.

Part of my reality was, I never accepted my adoptee truth in a way that allowed me the space to sit with the feelings as I was groomed to bypass them from my early childhood. I never learned it was legitimately okay to be sad about being adopted and that my sadness could last an entire lifetime. I never understood that the grief and loss process is something I would be navigating from the moment of being born by being separated from my biological mother and processing relinquishment trauma for the rest of my life.

Instead, I learned to be hyper-focused in my adult years on being healed because of the spiritual teachings I learned, which stalled my healing and disrupted it. I was set up for a downfall I had no idea how to process. I was made to feel disgraceful and not good enough all the way back to the spiritual concept of being born a sinner. Expectations to be thankful weighed me down for as long as I can remember. My adoptive moms’ feelings of happiness were always highlighted and celebrated, while her happiness was at the expense of the most significant loss of my life, my biological mother.

 As a child, teen and adult, I was still feeling anything but pleasant and happy thoughts about being adopted, which caused more damage. I was told my feelings were a choice, and it was my choice to hang onto them or “let them go and give them to God.” I was also told that God was in control, and being adopted was all a part of God’s plan for my life. Gaslighting at its finest.

If I was still feeling pain from adoption, it was clear I was doing the praying, fasting, and serving all wrong. My heart must not be pure enough; I must be sinning too much. Maybe I wasn’t grateful enough?

Relinquishment Trauma isn’t something you can just let go nor is adoption trauma. Trauma can and will impact us for life unless we seek professional guidance and therapy to work on these root issues. No amount of praying has helped erase the trauma, as it always finds a way to circle back around. It’s no wonder, so many in spiritual settings and religious circles are walking around on the pink cloud, yet they are walking dead men and women deep down. That was me for so many years.

I will never forget the beginning of my recovery journey back in 2012; a woman in my step study said sarcastically, “Must be nice, Pamela, to be so high up on that pink cloud!” and I had no clue what she was talking about.

What is the Pink Cloud?

“A life of addiction causes so much pain, hurt, and grief, so sometimes it’s assumed that in recovery, everything will be different. While life in recovery is much more rewarding, it’s not always flowers and sunshine. In early recovery, people often experience a mixture of highs and lows as they gradually adjust to living a life without the influence of drugs or alcohol. Sometimes though, they may experience a short period of elation and euphoria known as the pink cloud.” Eudaimonia Homes

I can relate to this now, but I was taken back by it then. I can no appreciate the fact that I was sitting on my pink cloud, but my activities in the church and with Christianity helped escalate me to my pink cloud. I like to think of the pink cloud as similar to my experience with spiritual bypassing and how these two concepts can be intertwined. The truth is, the whole time I was in the religious and spiritual settings, I was spiritually bypassing all the hard things I had run from processing my entire life. I might have skimmed over a few topics regarding my birth parents and adoptive parents, but I didn’t sit in it or sit with it, but it was always there. They don’t talk about trauma in church, but they love, support, and promote adoption, which is the root of my trauma.

Outside of church, I was a big part of Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered recovery ministry for 4+ years, and I began talking about my adoption/adoptee in the recovery journey there.

Before this, I attended AA for a few months, and it was apparent to me that it wasn’t somewhere I was welcome to share my grief, loss, and trauma from adoption. That’s a whole separate article in itself. While most people were talking about what took them to the rooms of AA, I was focused on what caused me to drink for 27 years.

What was the root of my issues?

Although I believe they are fantastic resources for many, It was clear to me I didn’t belong in these rooms or spaces. At AA, sharing tears and sadness about the loss of my birth mother, siblings, history, family knowledge would easily be laughed at if I was brave enough to share. So occasionally, I shared at Celebrate Recovery but never in AA.  The story they wanted to hear at Celebrate Recovery was the story of how “I Gave it all to God, and he healed me!”

I won’t deny, I wanted to believe I had given it all to God, and I tried. I also tried to forget about my pain and that it even existed. It was hard to pretend all the time, but adoptees are the kings and queens of pretending anyway! This created an extra layer of who I was presenting myself to be, but I was not healed deep down. From an early age, I learned to live with a broken heart and how to put on a front for the world. It’s no wonder I fit right into the church and Christian circles. I was an imposter from day one.

One of my many dangerous and traumatic experiences with God, religion, church, and the bible is that I was groomed and conditioned to NOT tune into my feelings because they are evil, immoral, and corrupt. I was lead to believe I should not listen to them or put action behind them as they can’t be trusted. In other words, I should never trust myself and my feelings were sketchy at best. The level of damage this has caused is something I can’t put into words. The spiritual practices of fasting, serving, praying were all pacifiers to keep me busy, floating around on the pink cloud pretending I was whole inside.

I found an interesting article – Feelings Are Not Facts,

“Are Feelings Reliable?

I don’t believe God intended for our feelings to guide us. He wants that job. God wants to be our guide. Our feelings should not be what drives our decisions but rather an indicator of what’s going on inside us.  We must put our trust in what God says and check our feelings at the door with the Word of God. Living by faith means allowing God to be our guide and not our emotions.” – by Starla Hill

This toxic and disgusting article is precisely what I mean when I say we are wholeheartedly conditioned not to trust ourselves but put our trust in God and God alone. Little girls are growing up learning this turn into young ladies and women with a deep entrusting feeling not to trust themselves or how they feel. Even boys, growing up to be young men and men, are damaging on every level. So how am I supposed to believe in the bible when so much of it is oppressive? It’s simple; I have no argument for your scriptures because I no longer believe in them. I can’t believe in something I know to be harmful. See, it’s much more than my bad church experience.

Being adopted, the layers of being taught not to trust our feelings and intuition combined with being told how to feel about our adoption experience and our feelings are always the back seat to others in our lives, specifically our adoptive parents. We’re entirely silenced for many of us, and it’s no wonder so many adoptees have deep-rooted issues, rightfully so. As if relinquishment trauma isn’t enough, we’re placed in the middle of a complete mental mind fu*k left to navigate it all alone.

I have witnessed Adoption, Religion, Christianity, Church & Institutions set up to separate, divide and destroy people, and they are destructive in more than one way. So, no, I didn’t just have a bad church and adoption experience! I will be writing about that soon!

“We are all in such a hurry to get it, whatever it may be. Greed for speed – fast food, fast money, fast relationships, fast spirituality. Drive-through divinity with organic fries and easy-to-swallow highs. Who wants to spend years doing spiritual practices when the same results can apparently be gained – given a sufficiently open mind and a wallet – in just a weekend! We may even be told that the only thing that could prevent us from seeing the desired results from such a weekend is OUR LACK OF BELIEF IN THE PROCESS. And so the shearing of the sheep goes on. Business as usual.” – Page 41. Spiritual Bypassing.

One of the many dynamics of Christianity’s damage that I have experienced is shaming that we are guilty of not believing enough or being good enough. But, unfortunately, this is usually used in the context of us not receiving the healing or wholeness we desire.

Many years ago, I asked some church friends to come to pray for a terminally ill friend with Cancer just a few weeks before she died. It was the end of her life, yet she prayed to be healed and wanted to live to be with her three children. As they prayed for her to be healed, even with cancer-consuming her body, organs shutting down, etc. when they left her house and walked to the car, they whispered, “Wow, she must have been harboring anger, resentments, and unforgiveness for God not to give her the healing she wanted.”  

This is one of the many examples of my experience with my journey in Christian circles that I am ashamed of to the fiber of my being. I remember being so confused by this and not understanding it at all. So God didn’t heal her because she was “bad?” What if she didn’t have the tools to work on her anger, resentments, or unforgiveness? What if she tried to work on them, but she wasn’t where she needed to be yet? This is why she didn’t receive her healing?

This was one of the many deciding factors of me leaving the fold and no longer co-signing in favor of this Christian God everyone spoke so highly of. One example of many I have had that didn’t sit well with my spirit and intuition now that I had walked away and could FEEL MY FEELINGS and acknowledge them.

Equally intertwined into the fiber of my being adoption and relinquishment trauma combined with religious trauma from Christianity, it’s a miracle I’m here to share my story. I see many parallels to conditioning beliefs from very early ages and being told how to feel. Christianity was introduced to me at no choice of my own, and being adopted was a considerable part of my life that was made at no choice of my own.

Of all the years of my life, I spent trying to stay alive, trying to figure this mess out. Finally, in 2012, I found myself in secular recovery programs dedicated to the church, God. After spending several years in these environments, my healing started to happen when I walked away from all of these systems, institutions, and what I was told to believe.

Straight out the door…

My healing started to happen when I looked deep within myself and started to believe in myself like I believe in God, people, places, and things outside of myself. (church, biological family, adoptive family, etc.) It began to happen when I learned to listen to my body and respond to my feelings. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen overnight when we spend most of our lives being told not to trust ourselves and our feelings don’t matter. It’s a slow and organically moving process. No one told me how to do this, and without God on my side, as I had always believed in my past, I went through a grueling process of no longer believing in this higher power but finding the glimmer of hope I needed to believe in myself. It was scary when I was told not to believe in myself and sacrifice myself for God and my adoptive parent’s happiness. It’s like everyone was happy but me.

But once again, I felt like I was alone on an island, but adoption prepped me for this. I already felt this way, but it was scary for me, and I had to process grief and loss all over again. I lost the church and church family I had spent years investing in and pouring into literally at the flip of a switch. It was a new chapter and a new door, and a harrowing one. I put up walls and swore to myself I would never allow so many people to get close to me again for fear of losing them all over again. And I haven’t, and I won’t. I’m very cautious of who I let in my space, and not many make the cut.  

I walked away from the church in 2015, thinking I would find God outside the church more than inside. I did to some extent, but that was an awakening process as well. To walk away from the church and God all at the same time is a terrifying thought. It’s taken me 6.5 years to find my voice and to have enough courage to share my life experiences with Christianity. While I began sharing my adoptee experiences and feelings in 2010, it took me 35 years to get to that point.

More healing started when I began sharing my feelings about these experiences OUTLOUD and writing about my adoption journey without apologizing for how I felt. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do this while I was in religious and spiritual settings (church) because of the happy and positive mindset believers are supposed to have. I also couldn’t share my adoptee feelings until I was estranged from most of my adoptive family. So it’s been a hell of a painful journey to be here to share my story.  

I had to get ALONE with MYSELF for this spiritual awakening process to begin, and while years have passed, I’m still evolving and discovering who I am and who I’m not every single day. For me, one of the keys was finding my biological family, and although what I found (rejected by both parents) was heartbreak on top of heartbreak, at least I know my truth. Adoptees need to see it for themselves instead of everyone else telling us or secrets and lies standing in the way.

I’ve been on a spiritual awakening, deconditioning, and deconstructing journey for over six years now when it comes to Christianity. I have been coming out of the fog with my adoption journey since 2005. I entered the recovery realm in 2012 into a new path, living life alcohol-free. I have walked away from everything I have always known on three different occasions to find who I am, so I could be a better version of myself – the one I lost when I was surrendered for adoption. I might as well have been stripped butt naked on a mountain all alone because that’s how it’s felt coming to terms with the realities of all of these areas of my life.

Finally, I’ve been able to look myself in the mirror and shed off all the old things that I carried I no longer wanted to carry. But the depts of everything I have had to lose to get here is something I can’t even begin to put into words. I feel like I’ve lost everything over and over again, but today I am humbly reminded that at least I have myself. I promised myself that no matter what happens in life, I will be true to myself even when my feelings don’t line up with the popular narrative.

There is a lot to be said about being true to oneself. But, unfortunately, many people spend their entire lifetimes fitting in the mold, not wanting to ruffle any feathers, just going with the flow, swimming to their graves.

Not me.

At the end of the day, as lonely as I feel and as painful as it’s been to get here, feeling like I’ve lost everything three times over, at least I am honoring myself and being true to myself in the process. I’m not giving all the glory to an invisible being who has allowed me to be in pain and suffering all my life since birth. Instead, I’m patting myself on the back for finding the glimmer of strength needed to get up every day and try to find happiness amid a lifetime of pain. I’m cheering myself on when I feel like giving up. Finally, I’m getting up enough strength to share the painful pieces of my journey in hopes of reaching other deconstructing adoptees so they don’t feel as isolated and alone as I have.

If you have made it this far, thank you for reading. I am thankful for my followers and hope to gain support from those who have different beliefs and views from me; however, I am prepared to lose some. But, when I’ve already lost everything four times over, I’m used to it. Being born and relinquished, I didn’t have a choice. I have chosen all the others, but it was to honor myself and be true to myself.

Four times in 46 years, I have lost it all.  

1.   Being born & relinquished on August 13, 1974 – the original root issue of relinquishment trauma.

2.   Coming out of the fog about adoption, moving across the country, legally changing my name, starting my life over in 2005

3.   Starting my Adoptee in Recovery Journey August 13, 2012 (Alcohol-Free after 27 years of dependence)

4.   Deconstruction, walking away from the church, religion, & spiritual conditioning. 2015.

I have lost a lot, but I have my true authentic self, and for me, that’s everything.

For my fellow adoptees, have you ever had to walk away from everything in order to find yourself? What was that experience like for you? For those who consider themselves deconstructing, can you relate to any of what I have shared here?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova

The Difference in Today, Feeling the Feels

I’ve come to a recent discovery after doing some self-reflection that I am someone that takes longer than your average person to process feelings, especially ones that are considered heavy or disheartening. I’m naturally a BIG feeler and a deep thinker.

While discovering this, it has been said that this is a “hang-up” or a “bad thing.” As I ask myself, “am I defective for taking so long to process things?” or “is something wrong with me for taking so long to process things?” I’ve been trying to process why I am this way, and I had an epiphany this morning.

I take longer than the average person to process things, because I’m feeling the feelings and processing them. I’m not side stepping or avoiding truly feeling and processing feelings. I’m doing the work, I’m evaluating my part, and caring enough about myself to not rush the process. This is self-care. This is self-love. This is putting myself first, and in return I can show up for others in a more grounded way. I spent 27 years drinking alcohol to numb my reality, to escape.

While running, I didn’t have to put in the work to feel the feelings and process the pain. I jumped from one shit storm to another for 27 years. I didn’t show up but a shell of me did. Avoidance worked until I decided I wanted to get real with myself, and all the problems I had been running from for 27+ years showed up at my front doorstep. I could only run for so long… 27 years is ALONG TIME!

The difference in today…

Today, I’m no longer running home to drink so I don’t have to feel. A shell of me is no longer showing up, but all of me is, along with my imperfections. As I approach a 9-year milestone in my recovery and alcohol-free journey (8/13/12) I am taking note of the way things are for me now, verses the way things used to be. I’m no longer depending on alcohol to take the pain away; I’m depending on myself to put in the work to do that.

This takes a while.

I’m not a robot.

While others might say this is a negative thing, or something they can’t live with or tolerate, I can say I’m proud of myself and how far I’ve come. It’s taken a lot of self-work, blood sweat and tears to learn how to process real and raw feelings after spending 27 years escaping them. No one has shown me how to do this, I have no mother, father, siblings, aunts, or uncles pouring into me. I have figured it out on my own.

Let me add, responding after a trauma response is triggered, is a whole new beast. Acknowledging the problem is half the battle. Admitting and committing to help is another piece of the battle. I’m a work in progress as we all are but I’m not sitting in denial. I have work to do.

It’s all a part of the growth process, I think. As we grow and move forward in life, we discover new things about ourselves. Some of them will make us pick our face up off the floor, and some we ease right on into depending on the circumstances. We’re all a work in progress, and we’ve all adapted to life’s circumstances using survival skills, some healthy and some unhealthy. It’s up to each of us to put in the time, work, and effort to figure out new ways to work things out, especially when the old ways don’t necessarily serve us a great purpose.

Sharing because if I’m ever late to the party, likely I’m over here processing and feeling the feels just so I can show up at all. But when I show up, I will show up with all of me. Not fragments or broken up pieces of me like I did for 27 years. I won’t show up avoiding my reality, masking my feelings with alcohol. I call it self-loyalty and being true to me. It’s not for everyone to accept and not everyone will understand this. That’s okay. I’ve accepted I’m not for everyone.

My main focus is on being true to me. Then, I can show up genuinely for others in a more well rounded way. Wherever you are in your healing and processing journey, be easy on yourself. You are right where you need to be. 💛

Pamela A. Karanova

Honoring My Rebirth-Day!

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Here I am again as another trip around the sun comes to an end while the last few months of 2020 is fast approaching. Yesterday I embraced the beginning of a brand-new trip around the sun.

A new page.

A new chapter in this book called LIFE. 

This year has had a million twists and turns and I have found myself slipping into a surreal state of bewilderment on many occasions. I think many of us have.

August 13th is my earthly birthday and I turn 46 years old yesterday. This means that 46 years ago yesterday I experienced the saddest day of my existence, the day I lost my birth mother. Birthdays are difficult for adoptees. If you don’t believe me, check out my friend, David Bohl’s most recent article Happy Birthday Relinquishment Day to Me! I know I’m not alone. I know many other adoptees feel a deep-rooted sorrow on this day. Here’s another article to consider reading – How Adoptees Feel About Birthdays.

I have been celebrating another milestone on my earthly birthday and that is my Rebirth-Day. My Rebirth-Day is my yearly milestone of living an alcohol-free life. I wholeheartedly feel this is the day I truly started living. This is why I’m calling it my Rebirth-Day.  8 years ago, on August 13, 2012 was the last drink of alcohol I had. It just so happens these two “occasions” fall on the same day. Spending a lifetime of running from adoptee pain, my Rebirth-Day is the day I started processing relinquishment trauma, grief, loss, C-PTSD, abandonment, rejection, anger, and rage from my adoption experience FREE FROM ALCOHOL. It’s the day I stopped using alcohol to numb the pain.  Not many people can say they have done this without substances of some sort. Adootee pain is SO GREAT! It’s not easy, but my kids have made it worth it. 

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My Daughters & I – My sons missing from this picture. ❤

Even when I have a great reason to celebrate my 8-year milestone, the realities of the BIRTH day still haunt me. To be completely honest, I have been dreading this day all month, even before August gets here. It has taken every bit of strength in me to get out of bed and even be halfway functional. This year has been hard, not just on me but our entire world.

Remaining SOBER through the stresses that have come due to the pandemic and this year has been a challenging feat, to say the least. More and more I am learning how to handle uncomfortable emotions, that I would not process in my old, PRE-REBIRTH-DAY ways. Alcohol was my best friend, in good times and bad for 27 years.

What have I done to live an alcohol-free life for the past year? Besides finding enough strength to pick my face up off the floor on many occasions, there is much more to it for me.

  • I have set hella boundaries for myself.
  • Be true to me, no matter what.
  • I completely removed myself from Adoptionland. It is taken a toll on my mental health, and I can no longer participate.
  • I have ended relationships with people who are the type of people who only allow those to sit at their table who believe like them. This is a true gift I have given myself. I will never fit in their box. It is time to move on from these relationships.
  • I have listened to my intuition on how people make me feel when I interact with them. Interactions that leave me feeling drained that no longer serve me in a healthy way will be discontinued.
  • I put myself first, and stay away from blood suckers who drain my energy dry.
  • I am getting more sleep and making my body rest when I feel tired.
  • I discontinued the use of many of my social media accounts. I no longer have Twitter, a personal Facebook, Snapchat or TikTok. I cannot tell you how much this has helped my overall mental health and well-being. I still have a public Facebook, and I have Instagram but I’m not as active as I once was. Disconnecting from social media apps and electronics in general has been a wonderful boundary I am setting for myself, especially from my current state of affairs.
  • I am reading more books and I’m educating myself about topics I’m passionate about.
  • I am being very intentional with my time and who I spend my time with. I will always believe time is the most valuable thing any of us have. Certain things I used to entertain; I no longer entertain.
  • I am sleeping grounded. It is helping my mental and physical health in many ways. Click here to learn more. Grounding is one of the most amazing ways to heal our bodies. When I can’t be connected to the earth 24/7 I am now connected to the earth when I sleep at night. This is one of the best investments I have made on my health.
  • I am trying new plant-based recipes and changing my eating habits. It is taken time, and I am not exactly where I want to be, but I’m headed in the right direction.
  • I am learning as much as possible about cancer and getting educated on alternative preventative ways to stay cancer free.
  • I am creating my own happiness in my surroundings at home, and out in nature. I spend AS MUCH TIME AS POSSIBLE out in nature, connecting with Mother Earth! This has been one of the number one ways to heal in my personal journey. I’m still chasing waterfalls, as Kentucky has over 700! This has been great for my mental health, and I always feel rejuvenated when I return from one of my hiking day-trips.
  • I purchased a flip phone, and I also have a smartphone. I keep the smartphone put away on airplane mode about 99% of the time. It is a huge distraction and blood sucker of time. The older I get; I feel this way about all electronics. I do see the need for some, but the way the world is going with AI taking over, I am not a fan AT ALL.
  • I am calling my friends more and talking on the phone. It seems like a lost art these days, and I am doing all I can to stay connected to my friends and family. I want to talk and hear their voices. Everything is so digital, and I truly feel people are missing out on real connections because of it. If you want to talk, CALL ME!
  • I am cutting back on texting all together. If you read the above message, you know why.
  • When I get angry, or feelings overwhelm me to the point of paralyzation, I make myself go to sleep. I do not respond to these emotions.
  • I stopped saying “Sorry for the delay.” We are all busy, and I do not want to keep apologizing for being human and not responding to text or emails like a robot.
  • I stopped explaining myself when others do not have the willingness to listen.
  • I no longer insert myself into spaces that are not adoptee centric. I have been shafted and had one too many gaslighting experiences by adoptive parents and birth parents. My presence is a gift and I choose to insert myself into spaces where my fellow adoptees reside offline that are safe spaces. We get one another and I’m saving my sacred energy for them.

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Believe it or not, I am still learning how to process life on life’s terms by living a life without alcohol. Every day is a new challenge and a new milestone. I have recently experienced some setbacks. To be honest, I was not sure how I was going to overcome them. I have spent a lot of time sleeping, because that is the only way I know how to shut my brain off. But instead of feel “dysfunctional” I am learning that resting my body and mind is a healthy thing to do. More so when I am going through what feels like an emotional or mental health crisis.

One of the best things I have done for myself is acknowledge that no matter where I am in life, I will always have setbacks, and things happen that make me feel bad and sad. Embracing this truth as a “part of life” has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself.

Processing 2020 without alcohol is a milestone to be celebrated. While my birthday is a sad and sore subject for me, my REBIRTH-DAY is something to be honored. So today I shall save space for my sadness of loosing my birth mother 46 years ago today. I will also save space for the celebration of 8 years living life alcohol free.

I cannot end this article without extending a special shout out to my main squeezes who have supported me along the way. My kids, my close friends and family. My kids always have been and always will be my motivation to keep going, even when I have not wanted to keep going for myself.   My friends & family, thank you for listening to me, and sitting with me in my sadness. I would not have made it this far without the support of some amazing people in my life.  Thank you!

Cheers to 8 years!

Even in the middle of a pandemic, I still have so much to be thankful for. 

Q. For my fellow adoptees, how are you maintaining your sanity in our current times? What have you done to shift your atmosphere to be in better alignment with the added stresses we’re all going through?

Sending you sunshine, love & light,

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