creativity

A visit to NYC’s Merchant’s House Museum

Me and Ashley at the Merchant’s House Museum and the Tredwell family photos and bios

Last night I had a blast taking a ghost tour of the Merchant’s House Museum on the Lower East Side of Manhattan led by one of best and dearest friends, Ashley Semrick. She was, as always, incredible. A fellow tour guide who is responsible for me taking the NYC tour guide exam (which is a grueling 4 hours long!), we always nerd out about the incredible history of our city. Her dedication to the museum, a vital piece of NYC history, is a gift to all of us.

Built in 1832, the house in the only building in NYC that is landmarked on the federal, state, and city level, inside and out. When you enter, you are literally stepping back in time into the 19th century. The house is perfectly preserved with the original furniture and furnishings, personal belongings, books, artwork, dishes, kitchenware, piano, and even their clothes!

The house was occupied by the Tredwells, a wealthy merchant family, and their four Irish servants from1835-1865, when the mercantile seaport of New York City emerged as a growing metropolis and the commercial emporium of America. In 1865, just as the Civil War was drawing to a close, the patriarch of the family passed away in the house. Gertrude, the youngest of the 8 children, passed away in the house, in the same bed where she was born, in 1909 at the age 93. And that’s when things really got interesting from a paranormal perspective. 

There have been 100s, perhaps 1000s, of reports of supernatural activity in the house. It is the only museum in the country with a full-time all-volunteer paranormal team that employs impressive technology to capture activity. Though I didn’t see any ghosts on the tour, the house does have an energy to it that has to be experienced. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, a visit is a-must do activity in NYC.  

And the museum needs our help. For 10 years, they’ve been fighting an intense legal battle with a developer who wants to build an 8-story hotel right next to the museum. Engineering experts have said that if that happens, the museum will be rendered unsafe for anyone to enter. To lose this museum and this piece of NYC history would be tragic. With an all-volunteer staff, every dollar you donate and spend on tickets to tours and events goes directly to preserve this stunning space. 

Self-guided and guided tours operate on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The staff is entirely volunteers and they offer numerous events year-round, both in-person and online. Though most aren’t ghost-related and focus on the history of the home, the family, and our city, they all give you an opportunity to walk in the literal footsteps of the Tredwells. 

The holiday season is particularly special as the house is decked out in 19-century Victorian style, just as the Tredwells did for their famous celebrations and parties. There are musical events, readings, and performances. Go to https://merchantshouse.org/visit/ to learn more.

creativity

This is the secret of life

If you get to the end of this story, I’ve got a secret to share with you. The upper left picture is me exactly two years ago right before I had a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery for early-stage breast cancer. My “Good Trouble” photo. The lower left is me the next morning at sunrise. My “I Survived” photo. The right is my official matriculation photo from the University of Cambridge taken last month as I began my graduate studies there in sustainability leadership. My “A Dream Deferred, but Not Denied” photo.

I have so much empathy for the woman on the left. It was the first time in my life I’d ever been admitted to a hospital and the first time I’d ever had surgery. I was terrified and also determined to be brave and evict cancer from my body.

With surgery I placed my life in someone else’s hands. I told Brian, my therapist, a few days before that I was terrified of surgery because there was no way for me to product manage the operation. He listened patiently, as always, and said, “Honey, you’re talented but even you can’t give yourself surgery. You have to trust someone else. The only way to conquer fear is to run right at it.”

It was a 5-hour tag-teamed procedure to remove all my breast tissue and 37 lymph nodes, and place chest expanders under my chest muscle. 14 months of constant pain later, they were swapped for much comfier implants. I smiled through the prep, thanking the nurses who helped me, determined not to crack.

Before entering the surgical suite that looked like a NASA space station, Dr. Schnabel, my breast surgeon, and Dr. Cohen, my plastic surgeon, visited with me. Dr. Schnabel looked me in the eye and said, “Sweetie, you’ve been stoic through this. It’s okay to have a moment. Then we go into battle.” Good trouble. I wanted to be as brave as John Lewis whom Audrey, my friend Stephanie’s daughter, painted onto my mask. That photo is the last day I had any cancer in my body.

I decided to walk into the surgical suite on my own two feet, even if my only armor was my surgical gown. I was scared and I ran right at it. This was going to be the last day that I had any cancer in my body. My last thought before closing my eyes was I hoped I lived to see the sunrise the next morning.

I have no memory of the surgery. I closed my eyes at NASA and woke up in the cloud of the recovery room. I was told they’d given me just a touch too much fentanyl and my blood pressure took a nosedive. I thought this was hilarious and laughed hysterically. Then I asked for some apple juice. Ah, narcotics.

I was in recovery for a long time and wasn’t admitted to a regular room until the wee hours of the morning. My dear recovery nurse, Esther, ran all over the hospital trying to find me a fresh turkey sandwich. I hadn’t eaten solid food in 24 hours and that plain turkey sandwich was one of the best things I’d ever eaten.

I told her my wish to see the sunrise and she was determined to make it a reality. I watched Harry Potter and munched on my turkey sandwich until daybreak. Maybe it was the drugs but I did feel like a witch with magical powers, as bandaged and bruised as I was.

Esther came back as soon as the sun started to come up. She helped me walk to a corner room where I could see the east river and the first rays of light illuminate my beautiful city. She left me alone to have my moment. I survived.

Back in my room, Dr. Schnabel and Dr. Cohen visited me. When I saw Dr. Schnabel, I cried for the first time. Again she looked me in the eye, two warriors on the other side of this one battle in a series of many more to come in this war. “Sweetie, it won’t always feel like this. You’re going to get to the other side. There’s a whole team of people focused on getting you there.”

I thanked her for saving my life, and she said, “I’m just part of the team. Team Christa.”

A few hours later my friend, Marita, picked me up at the hospital to take me home to where my sister who was graciously waiting for me with my dog, Phin. I had a giant bag of meds and surgical drains hanging out of my body. “How do you feel?” Marita asked once we got into her car. “I lived,” I said. “You did,” she said. “And you will.”

Fast-forward two years after climbing mountain after difficult mountain. That war on cancer was more epic than I ever imagined it would be. I nearly died, twice, from a severe and rare chemo allergy that shut down my lungs. I lost my long wavy hair to chemo and regrew 1940s ringlets. I was badly burned by radiation and completely healed. Now I’ve got new hard-earned boobs the same size as my OG boobs. That day in surgery was the last day there was ever any sign of cancer in my body—two years clear. Dr. Schnabel was right. I did get to the other side and I don’t feel the way I did before my surgery. This journey made me fearless.

When I was first diagnosed, I was just about to hit submit on my graduate school applications for Cambridge and Oxford. Then cancer struck and I had to put those applications away, afraid I may never get to submit them. I would sit in the chemo suite and dream about those far off places, dream that someday I would swap my surgical gown for an academic robe.

In September 2022, that dream happened. I took the train from platform 9 at King’s Cross to Cambridge, my own version of the Hogwarts Express just ¾ of a platform off. I thought about how I had watched Harry Potter’s train chug along on my TV screen in my hospital room two years before.

When I arrived at Cambridge, I dragged by very large bag that felt like a trunk onto the platform. I had myself a good cry in that train station. Here it was—my dream deferred, but not denied.

At my recent appoint to get the all-clear and graduate to annual checkups rather than 6 month checkups, Dr. Schnabel called my healing and this new academic chapter of my life a triumph. The dream became a reality, and I’m beyond grateful to everyone who helped me get here.  

I’ll never get back the life I had before the photos on the left, before cancer and COVID. I mourn the loss of that life. I miss it. But in exchange, I got something better. Environmental pollution was one of the main contributors to my cancer. Now I’m healed and dedicated to healing the planet.

Now for that secret I promised you at the start of this story. Along the way on this painful and difficult journey, I learned the secret of life. It’s love.

To love fiercely and be loved that way in return. To love whom we spend time with, the place we live, and the work we do. To love the planet that gives us everything and asks in return only to persist and continue giving to all of us. To love this life so much that our heart swells with gratitude for every day we’re given, the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. To love and honor your time, and the time of others.  That’s it. That’s the secret, and it will transform us and our planet for the better.

Get into good trouble; the planet is counting on us. Survive, and then share your story because your story’s going to save someone else. Even if you have to put some dreams on hold right now, you can still make them happen bit by bit and they’ll be sweeter when you do get there.

Love, this and every moment. That’s the only secret there is, and the only work we really have to do.

creativity

Another hopeful cancer milestone

Today I graduated from 6 month exams with my breast surgeon to 1 year exams. Being 2 years cancer-free is a huge milestone because the risk of recurrence drops significantly.

I’m so grateful to my medical team at NYU Langone Health, friends, and family who helped me restore my health. Celebrating today and every day.

If you or someone you love is facing cancer, please know there are millions of us out here with stories of triumph, resilience, and renewal. We may get knocked down but we can rise stronger, braver, wiser, and healthier with more love and more compassion than ever.

This is my story and it can be yours, too. Eyes up. Keep going.

creativity

Join me on Literati to talk about Elektra with the Joseph Campbell Foundation

Elektra by Jennifer Saint

In November I’m facilitating a month-long discussion about the book Elektra by Jennifer Saint on the Literati app for the Joseph Campbell Foundation Myth & Meaning book club. This will be an exciting reading adventure. 

Authors of new books rooted in mythology are asking fascinating questions of classic stories and providing provocative answers. Jennifer Saint’s glittering retelling of the classic tale Elektra is a brilliant example. 
 
 She showcases forgotten women of Greek mythology, ties that bind them to one another, and betrayals that threaten to sever those ties forever. With alternating chapters from their perspectives, Saint gives us a front row seat to their psyches as they grapple with a family legacy entangled with an ancient curse.

Vivid and evocative descriptions from page one carry us away into their tale of rebellion, revenge, and redemption where no one escapes unscathed and everyone is utterly transformed.

Throughout November, I’ll be posting some thoughts about the book as we read it together over the month. This is a highly interactive experience, and I’m excited to read and learn with all of you. 

I hope you’ll join me. To sign up, hop on over to the Joseph Campbell Foundation’s Myth & Meaning book club on Literati. The cost is $22 / month if billed annually and $26 if you pay monthly. It includes the book shipped to your address.

A special thank you to Torri Yates-Orr and John Bucher for bringing me into the Editorial Advisory Group. I’m honored to join such a fantastic group of thinkers and myth devotees. 

creativity

JoyProject podcast: The Joy of Baking Birthday Cakes with Dana Phillips

The Joy of Baking Birthday Cakes with Dana Phillips

Cake sculpting is an art form, and gifting a personalized cake to someone is as much a source of joy for the giver as the receiver. Dana Phillips shares how she got started baking and decorating elaborate cakes as a promise to her children, and how it grew into a way to spread joy to so many others in her life. As a Certified Wilton-method cake decorating instructor, Dana takes us on her sweet journey through the wonderland of cake and gives us tips to help us bake and decorate with joy and confidence.

Topics discussed in this episode:
– How Dana’s children lead her to pursue cake baking and decorating
– Her favorite cake flavor profiles and designs
– Cake baking tips and ingredient substitutions to make delicious gluten-free and dairy-free cake
– Product brands for gluten-free flour and flavor extracts

Links to resources:

– Dana on Instagram — @pixiestavern
– Christa on Twitter—@christanyc
– Christa on Instagram — @christarosenyc
– Christa on Facebook — @AuthorChrista
– Christa on Medium—@christaavampato
– Christa on TikTok — @christanyc
– Christa’s website — ChristaAvampato.com
Wilton cake classes
King Arthur gluten-free flours and mixes
Earth Balance vegan butter
Thrive extracts
– Michael’s cake baking and decorating tools

About Dana: 
 “City girl who moved into the woods with a knack for making edible art.” As a young mom the one thing Dana thought would be the most memorable tradition she could create for her kids was customized homemade cakes for their birthdays. She’s 53 cakes in and her three kids who are almost all adults can’t imagine life without a cake from her. When she’s not baking she’s fighting for a better South for future generations, getting the dinner party and game nights planned now that everyone is vaxxed (nothing beats making good food for good people), disappearing into the woods to see the stars, and going on countless motorcycle adventures with her partner, Adam.

creativity

Spend time with trees to fight cancer

Blue Atlas Cedar tree in Central Park – photo by Christa Avampato

Last week I went to a talk by Dr. Diana Beresford-Kroeger, a botanist and medical biochemist. She’s also the author of one of my favorite books, To Speak for the Trees: My Life’s Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest. She was speaking at the New York Times event titled How Can Art and Technology Help Us Tackle the Climate Crisis? You can watch it on YouTube and Dr. Beresford-Kroeger’s talk is from 1:55:35 — 2:30:38.

How forest bathing reduces cancer risk
In her talk and her book she advocates for 15 minutes of month forest bathing, particularly near evergreen trees, as a way to reduce cancer risk. As a cancer survivor, I do everything I can to prevent recurrence. Sadly, there’s a lot of nonsense out there and plenty of products that claim to prevent cancer. Most of it is just slick marketing taking advantage of people through scare tactics. But does this recommendation from Dr. Beresford-Kroeger have scientific research to back up the claim? Can 15 minutes a month with trees really help us reduce the risk of cancer? It does and it can. 

Numerous scientific studies (here, here, and here to call out just a few) have found that the biochemicals in our immune systems (collectively referred to as Natural Killer (NK) cells such as lymphocytes) are strengthened with even brief 15- to 20-minute visits to wooded areas and the effects can last more than 30 days. These research findings support Dr. Beresford-Kroeger’s recommendation and the ancient wisdom she’s studied and accumulated her entire life.

Combining indigenous knowledge with modern medicine for optimal health
Now, does this mean we can substitute forest visits for regular checkups and exams with our doctors or forgo medical treatments if we are diagnosed with cancer? No, I would not recommend that course of action. Modern medicine found and treated my cancer, and I’m forever grateful for the care I received at NYU. But did I also benefit from good nutrition, exercise, my time in nature, and my determination to find joy every day to keep up my spirits during the darkest days of my life? Yes, I did. 

Preventing and fighting cancer requires a multi-pronged approach. We can benefit from ancient wisdom and modern technology. I used both to keep myself healthy before, during, and after treatment. I’ll use both for the rest of my life that I’m so fortunate to have. 

Why I still got cancer even though I live a healthy lifestyle
Now, you might be thinking, “Well, Christa, you go to Central Park every day and you still got cancer. So how do you explain that?”

Yes, that’s true. I did get cancer even though I have no genetic predisposition to any kind of cancer, I eat a healthy plant-based diet, I exercise regularly, I’m a healthy weight, I control my stress levels, I spend a lot of time outside in nature, and I see my doctors regularly. Cancer is a sneaky set of diseases. It wears a lot of costumes and disguises in its attempts to thwart our immune system. Even in the best of circumstances, a cell can get past our immune system, not because we’re weak but because cancer is such a deft and relentless shape-shifter. All it takes is one microscopic cell. 

The Hudson Valley is a cancer hotspot
We also live in an increasingly toxic world, which can wear us down without our awareness. I grew up on an apple orchard in the Hudson Valley of New York State in the 1980s and 1990s. Sounds bucolic, right? In many ways it was. 

But what you may not know is during that time the rampant use of chemical pesticides was practiced all over that area. I have vivid memories of bright red tankers full of pesticides being sprayed in the air on neighboring orchards for months on end to keep the apples pest-free. Those farmers didn’t realize their sprays were poisoning our food, air, soil, and water. 

At the same time, General Electric (GE) dumped 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River from its capacitor manufacturing plants in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, New York. Though they ended that practice in the last 1970s, the PCBs remain in the river sediment to this day. PCBs are known carcinogens (meaning they cause cancer). 

These practices of farmers and GE have partially caused the Hudson Valley to become a cancer hotspot. My family had well water. The toxic chemicals from the pesticides and GE’s practices seeped into the water table, not to mention were directly linked to our food and air. The truth is we can do everything right as individuals but collectively, the practices of others can harm us and we are powerless to avoid the impacts once they’ve happened. 

Though it’s difficult to prove, my cancer was likely caused, at least in part, by environmental pollution I was exposed to as a child. As the New York Department of Health explains, “Cancers develop slowly in people. They usually appear five to 40 years after exposure to a cancer causing agent. This is called the latency period. This is one of the reasons it is difficult to determine what causes cancer in humans. Also, many people move during this period of time, making it hard to link exposure to a cancer causing agent to where a person lives.” 

So, yes, I live a healthy lifestyle and yes, I still got cancer. But as my doctors always point out, because I was so healthy when I was diagnosed, I was able to withstand intense surgeries and treatments, and emerge on the other side healthier than ever. The combination of my good health, modern medicine, and indigenous knowledge saved me.

Fighting climate change is another way to fight cancer
Preserving and expanding natural areas and mitigating the impacts of climate change is another important piece of the puzzle to maintain our health. Said another way, our best defense is a good offense. We need to have nature on our side to maintain our environments, and that means we must care for natural and wild areas. 

This is why I advocate for the planting, maintenance, enhanced access, and expansion of forested areas, particularly in cities like New York where I now live and where trees are necessary for our health and wellbeing. Trees save and enhance our lives in so many ways by cleaning our air and water, lowering our stress levels, and enhancing our immune systems.

My forest bathing practice in Central Park
I’m fortunate to live near one of New York’s City’s green gems, Central Park. Forest bathing doesn’t mean you need to retreat to the far corners of the wilderness (though if you can, I recommend that kind of trip as well). Urban forest bathing once a month (or more) is highly effective, easy to do, and accessible. 

On a sunny Saturday, I went to Central Park with my dog, Phineas. For 15 minutes, we sat near a majestic Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica glauca) that stands near the Reservoir. The effects for both of us were palpable. Phin closed his eyes and went to sleep as I soaked up the sun and clean air, all the time quietly expressing my gratitude to this tree. 

When we got up to go home, I bowed to the tree in reverence for what this beautiful being had freely given me. “I’ll see you again soon,” I whispered.

I left with my heart and lungs full with all good things, thankful for what nature offers us if only we will take the time to accept her gifts and wisdom. When we take care of nature, nature can then take care of us. Go sit near a tree for 15 minutes once a month. You’ll be better for it. 

(Below are a few photos of me and my dog, Phineas, on our most recent forest bathing trip to Central Park).

creativity

Why we create art—inspired by the words of Scottish actor, Robbie Coltrane

“50 years on, my children’s children will sit down to watch these [Harry Potter] films. Sadly, I won’t be here. But Hagrid will.” -Robbie Coltrane, Scottish actor

This is the most true thing I’ve ever read about art and the motivation of artists. It’s our chance to be immortal, to get down stories and put them out into the world. They will be here long after we’re gone. Someone will see them or read them or hear them and a part of us will be there. Our energy, our hopes, our dreams, our fears, our disappointments, our joy.

It will mean something to someone across space and time who we never had the honor to meet on this plane. And maybe they will feel less alone.

They will find in our art someone like them, someone who validates everything they’re feeling, someone who makes them feel seen and heard, who helps them see that they matter. Art is the gift that never stops giving. It becomes our home, in the truest sense of the word, the place where we will always belong.

This week we lost Robbie Coltrane, the actor who immortalized Hagrid, a character who is dear to so many of us. His memory lives on in his work and his art.

creativity

What will the world be like if we take no climate action now?

We hear a lot about climate change and how devastating the impacts will be if we do nothing. To save the planet is the reason I decided to go back to graduate school at University of Cambridge in Sustainability Leadership and pivot my career to focus on this cause. But what does a lack of climate action mean specifically, decade by decade? What happens to the planet, and to us, if we stay on our current trajectory? And just as importantly, where do we go if we have an idea for climate action?

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has a 2-minute video outlining some of the specific impacts of continued climate change on our current path starting in the year 2030 and going through 2100. The impacts are sobering, backed up by scientific research referenced in the video, and outlined in the list below.

But all isn’t lost. We do have a short period of time right now to make massive changes to save the planet, the species with whom we share it, and create 395 million jobs with the transition to a nature-positive economy. Said another way, biomimicry and creating our built environment, products, and services based on nature’s design principles is the answer—we must transition to a nature-positive economy and society.

And if have an idea for climate action, WEF wants you to share that idea and get involved through their free online community portal called UpLink where you’ll find hope, information, data, and updates on climate action projects that are underway right now.

What does the world look like in the coming decades if we don’t take climate action. Here’s a sampling of that future:

The 2030s:

  • Ice caps and crucial ice sheets continue to melt, swelling sea levels by 20 centimeters [7.87 inches]
  • 90% of coral reefs threatened by human activity, while 60% are highly endangered
  • Dwindling crop yields push more than 100 million more people into extreme poverty
  • Climate change-related illnesses kill an additional 250,000 people each year

The 2040s:

  • The world has shot past its 1.5-degree Celsius [2.7-degree Fahrenheit] Paris Agreement temperature rise limit
  • Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Thailand are threatened by annual floods, sparking mass migration
  • 8% of the global population has seen a severe reduction in water availability
  • The Arctic is now ice-free in summer
  • Sea levels have risen 20 centimeters [2 feet] in the Gulf of Mexico, where hurricanes deliver devastating storm surges

The 2050s:

  • 2 billion people face 60-degree Celsius [140 degrees Fahrenheight] temperatures for more than a month every year
  • In much of the world, masks are needed daily–not for disease prevention, but to protect our lungs from smog
  • The Northeast United States now sees 25 major floods a year, up from 1 in 2020
  • 140 million people are displaced by food and water insecurity or extreme weather events

2100 and beyond:

  • The average global temperature has soared more than 4 degrees Celsius [7.2 degrees Fahrenheit]–and even more in northern latitudes
  • Rising sea levels have rendered coastlines unrecognizable, and Florida has largely disappeared
  • Coral reefs have largely vanished, taking with them 25% of the world’s fish habitats
  • Insects have been consigned to history, causing massive crop failures due to the lack of pollinators
  • Severe drought now affects more than 40% of the planet
  • An area the size of Massachusetts burns in the US every year
  • Southern Spain and Portugal have become a desert, tipping millions into food and water insecurity

This is a terrifying, painful future and it’s only a few years away right now. But again, we know what we need to do—create our built environments, products, and services to mimic those of the natural world. Biomimicry can save us and the natural world. This means we must:

  • exit fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy sources
  • restore, protect, and expand natural habitats and wild areas
  • end the use of single-use plastic and harmful chemical pesticides

None of this will be easy but the choice is truly one of life—ours and all the other species who are counting on us to change our ways and clean up how we live on this planet—or death. Either we choose to make these difficult choices now in our companies and governments, or we are forced to make them later when it may be too late. To learn more and get involved, please visit UpLink: https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/. We have no time to waste and the planet needs all of us to take action.

creativity

JoyProject podcast: The Joy of Baking Challah with Vicki Eastus

The Joy of Baking Challah with Vicki Eastus

What could be better than freshly baked challah? Talking about baking challah with one of my nearest and dearest friends! In this episode of the JoyProject podcast, Vicki tells us how she got started baking challah with her daughter during the COVID-19 lockdown. She shares her baking process, the traditions of challah, and the joy and memories that food provides for all of us. We also talk about the storytelling community that brought us together and the stories that connect us to our past, to history, and to one another.

About Vicki:
Vicki Eastus is a lawyer, teacher, improviser and storyteller. A native Texan, Vicki declared herself a feminist at age 10 and started her long career as an advocate for women. She has been a campus advocate on sexual harassment issues, a lawyer for the largest group of women to ever successfully sue the government for sex discrimination, and a Title IX Coordinator. Vicki earned her B.A. in Russian literature, focusing on Russian formalist criticism and the distinction between plot and story. She carried those concepts into her legal career, bending traditional legal writing rules to make her clients’ stories more compelling. Now a professor at New York Law School, she integrates storytelling and improvisational techniques into her classes on legal analysis and advocacy. She has given presentations at national and international legal conferences on using storytelling and improvisation to teach legal analysis and to help law students find their legal voices.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • How Vicki bucked her fear and started baking her own challah with her daughter
  • Some of the traditions and history around challah baking
  • The memories and joy we can all find in homemade and home baked food
  • The inspiring work of Jose Andres and his organization, World Central Kitchen
  • The Instagram account @challahbakeoff

Links to resources:

creativity

A big milestone this week

This week marks 2 years since my early-stage breast cancer diagnosis. I worried I may never feel whole again. Now I feel great—physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’m grateful for every day and for everyone who helped me get here. Onward!❤️

For those now waging their own battles with cancer and to all the people who love and care for them, please know that healing is possible. There will come a day when you look back and see how far you’ve come and how far your life stretches out in front of you, full of dreams and hopes fulfilled. You’ll be there. Keep your eyes up. Keep your head up. Keep going. And when you feel like you can’t, please call me and I’ll remind you that yes you can. And you will.