42 Things That You Don’t Know About Me

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Year Four: The Year of Growth

You might already know this, but this past Wednesday (November 2nd) was my 42nd birthday!

And, in what’s become a bit of a tradition on my birthday, I wanted to share with you 42 random things about me that you probably don’t know about me.

Don’t get confused though, I’m not writing this blog post for me–as always, this is about us.

Specifically, it’s about creating an even deeper connection with you by sharing how much we have in common–and I’m willing to bet that it’s more than you thought before reading this blog post.

As you probably know, one thing that I do around here is mark my birthday as my own personal New Year, as opposed to January 1st (makes sense, doesn’t it?) Also, I have celebrated four birthdays at The Positivity Solution, and each year had a central theme.

Year One was all about authenticity, Year Two was all about perseverance, Year Three (last year) was all about courage…so what’s the theme for this year?

This year’s theme is going to be all about growth.

I’ve always believed that there’s only two options in our lifetimes for all of us: we’re either growing or we’re dying. I think that I’ve lost sight of this recently, so this year is all about intentionally moving toward growth.

Say it with me: Growth, baby!

I’ve done this birthday post for the past four years, and since it is such a big hit and a great way to make an even deeper connection with the only reason why I’m here (that’s you, by the way), I figured why not do it again?

Some are new, some are repeats from last year for the many new readers in the house, but all should give you a little deeper insight into who I am and why I’m here.

Without further ado, here they are in no particular order. Enjoy! 

42 Things About Me

1. (I shared this one last year, but I have to share it again) True Story–Ever since October of last year, my cell phone auto-corrects my name from “Shola” to “Ebola.”: That’s pretty unfortunate, right? Do you want to know what’s worse? Sending a quick work email before I caught a flight (remember, I work for a hospital) about an important upcoming meeting that only said:

“I missed the previous two meetings, but I’ll make a point to make my presence felt at the next one. Best, Ebola”

Yup, true story. I guess if they start handing out precautionary masks at the next meeting, I’ll know why.

2. A lifetime streak sadly ended last week: For the past 41 years, I dressed in costume for Halloween_10.31.2015Halloween every year, without fail. Well…I am very sad to report that for this past Halloween, I was in Fort Lauderdale, FL attending a speaking workshop, and I did not bring a costume with me (and yes, I was irrationally upset about it).

It’s all good though, I plan on starting a brand new streak next year, and I already know what my costume is going to be. Make sure to stick around to see it, because it’s going to be EPIC.

While we’re waiting for that to happen, I figured that I’d include a picture of last year’s costume for your amusement. I decided to be an old school basketball player, complete with some scandalous short shorts! One downside of this outfit is that I wasn’t able to sit down all night (for what I’m assuming, should be obvious reasons.)

3. I cannot wait for this year’s presidential election to be over. I’ve seen a lot of presidential elections during my 42 trips around the sun, but I’ve never experienced an election that has brought out the worst of humanity in millions of people, like this one has. I could write an entire blog post about this topic (don’t worry, I won’t), so I’ll mercifully leave it at this: I can’t wait for it to be over tomorrow.

4. I hug people and smile A LOT. You’ve been warned. In fact, I hug people and smile so much, that people at the hospital where I work have given me the nickname “Brother Teresa.” You can’t make this stuff up, man.

5. The proudest moment of my life (besides the birth of my two daughters, of course) was when Making Work Work was published: In fact, it’s not even close. For my entire life, I’ve always been really good at starting things, and horrible at finishing them. The fact that I actually stayed the course and finished writing a book is something that has filled me with so much peace and happiness.

6. Do you want to know the secret to writing a book? Good! Here it is: BICHOK. I really wish that I could take credit for this acronym, but it stands for Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard (clever, right?)

Whenever I didn’t feel like writing (which was very often), I would yell “BICHOK!” and then get to work. Seriously, if a chucklehead like me could write a book with nothing more than dream to create a kinder world, then there is no doubt that anyone else reading this could do the same. The key is simply to remember BICHOK, and then do it.

7. Almost four years ago, I gave up soda, cold turkey: I used to be completely addicted to soda (3-4 cans a day), and then on January 1, 2013 I challenged myself to give it up. By far, the first three weeks without soda were the worst (understatement of the decade), but somehow, I pushed through it. Now, not only do I not crave soda at all, but I replaced soda with green smoothies from my Vitamix blender! Believe me, speaking as a dude with less-than-average willpower–if I can do it, then anyone can.

8. Calm is strong: That is my daily mantra.

9. Please don’t think that because I write about positivity that I’m somehow immune to being annoyed by things. I’m still human, people. Here is a list of some of the things that drive me nuts:

Anyone who uses the words “retarded,” “gay,” or “ghetto” to describe anything that they don’t like, litterbugs, people who pronounce the word “processes” as “process-eez”, orange juice with pulp, people who constantly interrupt during conversations, racists/sexists/homophobics, people who mistake kindness for weakness, limp handshakes, rude and/or moody people, bullies of any kind, and grown men who sag their pants beneath their ass and show off their underwear in public (this is a “fashion trend” that needs to die a swift death.)

10. On a more positive note, here are some things that I love, in no particular order: My family, random acts of kindness, mid-90’s hip-hop, the color red, parentheses (they’re great), massages, people who can laugh at themselves, good listeners, companies who put their employees first, the very rare date nights with my wife, inspirational podcasts, good huggers, people who believe that they can positively change the world and actually take action to do so, Pai Gow Poker, swype texting (seriously, it’s one of the best tech innovations EVER), warm weather, foreign accents, any type of competition (especially the Summer Olympics), TED talks, daily meditation, the feeling of soreness after a good workout, and emotionally intelligent people.

Gas tank

Yuck…

11. True story: When I was young, I drank gasoline from my parents’ lawn mower gas tank because I liked the smell of it. To say that I “got sick” afterwards would be like saying Beyonce is “kind of cute.” Fast forward 30 years later, and the smell of gasoline makes me want to vomit uncontrollably. As you can imagine, this makes every gas station on earth my least favorite place to visit (for most people, it’s only about the gas prices), and the process of gassing up my car is like a moderate form of torture for me.

12. I absolutely hate to eat/drink some things that most people love. Okay, if you haven’t thought that I was weird up to this point, I’m thinking that you will now. Here are some things that you will not see me eat/drink: Chocolate, peanut butter, coffee, most cheeses (besides mozzarella–I love that stuff), ketchup/mustard/relish (and pretty much any other condiment besides BBQ sauce and A1 sauce), any type of seafood, and any meat off the bone.

But then again, this is coming from a guy who willingly drank gasoline, so…there’s that.

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That’s me, right before dropping the robe and going inside the cryo chamber. Brrr…

13. I love to try new things. Two of the strangest…? Cryotherapy and sensory-deprivation chambers. Both sound a little crazy, I know. Cryotherapy is all about standing in a chamber that is -200 degrees Fahrenheit for three minutes, while wearing nothing more than your underwear (yep, you read that right). If you’re dealing with constant low energy or chronic inflammation of any kind (and you’re willing to push yourself to your limits), it can be life-changing.

Sensory-deprivation chambers are very different. In this chamber, you’re completely naked and floating on your back in an Epsom salt solution that simulates weightlessness. Also, since you can’t see or hear anything while you’re inside, it feels like you’re in floating in outer space, or that you’re back inside of your mom’s womb–it’s unreal. If you’re looking for an intensely powerful meditative experience, I would check it out.

14. I don’t like horror movies AT ALL. I remember watching The Ring, and when I saw (spoiler alert…?) that creepy little girl crawl out of the damn TV set I was practically scarred for life. My horror movie watching days were a wrap from that point forward. I don’t think that I turned off the lights at night or watched TV for a week.

15. There are some seriously tough people who follow this blog: For real, in the past four years, I’ve had readers share life experiences with me that are so horrific that it boggles my mind how they’re able to be such positive and highly-contributing members of society. Their levels of resilience and mental toughness are near super-human, and I am honored (and surprised, to be honest) that they feel like they have anything to learn from me.

16. Do you know what never gets old?: Hearing that I’m making a positive difference. That will never get old. For the people who have told me that in the past year, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

17. Here are the names of a few people who influence me that you might not know (but you should): Eric Thomas the Hip-Hop Preacher, Liz Gilbert, Brené Brown, Marie Forleo, and Gary Vaynerchuk. I cannot say enough positive things about all of these people. I really hope that I get to meet all of them in person one day so that I can thank them personally for what they’ve done for me.

Shola and Wayne Dyer

Me and the late Dr. Wayne Dyer

18. One big influence on me, who you probably have heard of, was the late Dr. Wayne Dyer. I had the honor of meeting him at one of his speaking engagements in Pasadena a few years ago, and it was amazing. People say to never meet your heroes because you are guaranteed to be disappointed, but that was not the case at all. He was kind, gracious, and was everything that I hoped he would be.

When he passed away in August 2015, I felt like a family member died. That probably sounds crazy to most people, but I’ve been reading his books for over 15 years and outside of my parents, he played the largest role in leading me down the path of positivity. I owe a great deal to him, and I hope to honor his legacy through my work.

19. I love meditation. It is quite possibly the best free stress reliever ever. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to climb to your nearest mountaintop, purchase a holy tapestry, dress in all silk, and find an uninterrupted two hours in your day to do this.

Just a desire to fully relax, breathe deliberately, and three minutes is all you need to start. Do it consistently and you’ll start feeling the effects before you know it.

20. Over a year later, I still can’t believe that I was able to pull off this epic April Fool’s trick on my readers. Seriously, I still laugh whenever I read it. Good times!

21. I am a huge fan of Oprah’s OWN Network–specifically, Super Soul Sunday. For real, I could sit and watch Super Soul Sunday nonstop for weeks and not even be slightly bored. I seriously cannot get enough of it.

22. Speaking of Oprah, meeting her is on my bucket list. In addition to meeting her (or more specifically, being interviewed by her), my bucket list also includes: doing a TED/TEDx Talk, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, throwing out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game, skydiving and/or bungee jumping, building a recreational center for kids in my hometown of Amherst, MA, and creating a law that will officially make workplace bullying illegal.

Pretty ambitious bucket list, huh? Believe it or not, I’m actually very close to crossing one of those things off of my list…stay tuned!

23. Nothing makes me happier than serving others. I know that this point might sound a little cheesy, and I’m okay with that. Helping people to get more happiness out of their lives–personally and professionally–has filled me with a sense of joy that’s almost impossible to describe in words alone.

24. One thing that you might not get by reading my blog posts is that I’m a complete goofball: Some of the topics that I cover here are pretty heavy (workplace bullying, dealing with toxic people, refusing to be anyone’s doormat, developing resilience, etc.), and I think it’s easy to think that I’m just as serious. Believe me, I’m nowhere close.

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I don’t take myself very seriously at all. I’ll break out a stupid dance at a moment’s notice in the middle of the sidewalk, grab the mic at a karaoke bar without hesitation, or pretty much do anything within the limits of the law to make someone laugh.

Life is way too short to be stuck wearing poopy pants all day (yeah, I said poopy pants), so while I’m alive, I’m going to have as much fun as I humanly can.

25. I find at least one typo in every single one of blog posts: It is one of the most annoying things ever, and no matter how many times I proofread my stuff before I hit “Publish,” I always find at least one afterward. If I wasn’t able to update my blog posts after they went public, I’d be screwed.

26. I am the most laid-back dude in the world, but there’s one thing that really annoys me: I can’t stand it when people don’t give their full effort. I don’t care if you’re not good at something, that’s fine as far as I’m concerned. All I care about is this: are you giving your best effort? If so, you’ll always be cool with me.

27. People think that I’m fearless, and that is SO untrue: Besides the obvious fears, like something awful happening to my loved ones, I have lots of other fears too.

I’m scared every time that I hit the “Publish” button on a new blog post. I’m scared that I’ll do/say something that will permanently damage The Positivity Solution brand. I’m scared that someone will abuse my vulnerability and hurt me. I’m scared that I’m not good enough and that people will eventually realize it and stop reading this blog. I’m scared that I’ll run out of ideas for blog posts.

I could keep going, but you get the point. I’ve said it before, and it’s worth saying again–we’re all scared. 

The one thing that I’m proud of is that I no longer let my fears stop me. 

28. I love (not like–love) the taste of white chocolate. Last year, I shared my love of white chocolatey goodness, and I thought that I was alone in my love. I was SO wrong. I was bombarded by people who shared the same love for white chocolate that I did! White chocolate lovers, unite!

29. I’m a very spiritual guy, but I’m not the slightest bit religious. Confused? Ever since I was young, I have always looked inward to create my own spiritual relationship with God (or the universe, infinite source, or whatever name works for you) and find my own spiritual truths instead of looking outward to find those truths from churches, ministers, etc.

In other words, I’m a Namasté type of guy.

I’ll admit, my way isn’t for everyone, but the spiritual route has worked wonders to bring me a deeper feeling of joy, love and appreciation for others, connection to the world around me, and a soul-nourishing inner peace.

Either way, as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter to me if you’re spiritual, religious, atheist, agnostic, or worship a tree in your backyard named “George,” I’m 100% convinced of one thing:

It’s not your beliefs that make you a good person, it’s your behavior that does.

30. I once had a 30-minute argument with a complete stranger in a doctor’s office waiting room about who would win in a fight between the Justice League and The Avengers: And it was awesome. And of course, the only answer that makes sense is the Justice League. Sure, The Avengers are way cooler, but this isn’t about “cool.”

The Justice League would completely destroy them. As always, feel free to tell me that I’m right or insane.

31. According to the widely-used Myers Briggs Personality Test, I’m a very proud ENFP.  If you want to read more about ENFPs (or if you want to skip the remaining 10 points below) you can pretty much find out what I’m all about simply by clicking here.

Okay, it doesn’t tell you everything about me, but it some areas, it was ridiculously accurate in pegging my personality type.

32. I’m not a fast writer, at all. I’m secretly envious of the writers who can bang out a 1,500-word blog post in 30-45 minutes. I won’t share how long it takes me to write one of my blog posts, but let’s just say that it’s longer than 45 minutes. The fact that I was able to write my book from beginning to end in nine months is a minor miracle, as far as I’m concerned.

33. Speaking of writing, there are few things more violating to a writer than having your writing plagiarized. If you’ve been around for a while, then you know that one of my blog posts was plagiarized by an Australian bikini model (yes, seriously.) In the four years that I’ve been writing online, that was one of the strangest episodes that I’ve dealt with.

34. I am a die-hard morning person: Believe it or not, I haven’t woken up past 7 a.m. in close to 15 years. I’m normally up at 5 a.m., and even if I wanted to sleep in, my body clock wouldn’t even let it happen. I actually love it now–I don’t know what it is, but there is something so peaceful about the early morning that I would never want to miss because I’m asleep.

35. My #1 fear is regret. The thought of looking back on my life and sadly asking myself: “why didn’t I try that sooner?” or “why did I give the naysayers so much power over the decisions in my life?” would be absolutely devastating to me. Life is way too short not to go after my dreams, whether anyone else “gets it” or not. I might not always get it right (in fact, I often don’t), but I’ll never be the guy who refuses to try. We all only get one shot at this life. I’m here to make my one shot count.

36. This year, I need to figure out a way to meet more Solutionists in person: I mean, it’s cool to interact here on the blog and on social media, but I want to reach out and connect with more of you in person. I need to brainstorm ways to make it happen…<rubs chin in deep thought>

37. Random embarrassing story: Years ago, during a hypnotist show in Las Vegas years ago, I volunteered  to go on stage with a few other people in the audience to get hypnotized. Ridiculous right?

Well, I thought so too until I walked up on stage fully aware of what was going on, I listened to the hypnotist guy do all of the predictable silliness that you see on TV (“relax yourself, count backward from 30, you’re getting really sleepy, blah, blah, blah…”) and then out of nowhere the hypnotist loudly clapped his hands and I finally “woke up.”

The craziest part was that I looked at my watch, and I noticed that I lost an hour of time! Seriously!

As I walked off the stage and back to my seat, I was completely sweaty, and people were pointing and laughing at me as I walked down the aisle.

This is all that I’ll say about the buffoonery that I unknowingly engaged in while hypnotized: Toni Braxton’s Unbreak My Heart, a lustful attraction to an empty chair, and imaginary turtles. Lots of imaginary turtles.

Yes, I know that previous paragraph makes no sense and it wouldn’t make sense to me either if I didn’t see actual video footage of what I did at that show in front of hundreds of complete strangers. I don’t embarrass easily, but I’ll be damned if I can’t watch two minutes of the video without wanting to curl up into the fetal position and start muttering to myself, “make it stop, please make it stop…”

I can safely say that hypnotism is real–I have the video to prove it.

38. I absolutely LOVE sports. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when my TV is on, you can bet that I’m watching sports. It’s the best unscripted drama in the world. Every sport from football to tennis is completely riveting to me.

Well, every sport with the exception of NASCAR.

Believe me, I know that it takes extreme talent to drive a car that fast, but for the life of me, I don’t get the entertainment value in watching cars drive in a circle for three hours. I’m not mad at you if you’re into that, but like I said, I just don’t get it.

39. One thing that I don’t watch is the news. Not only is the news super depressing, but it also lowers my faith in humanity and makes it harder to be a positive person. Contrary to popular belief, I believe that it is possible to stay informed about what’s going on in the world without consuming a mental junk food diet of wars, rapes, and murders every night before going to bed.

40. Every blog post that I have ever written on The Positivity Solution was written for either one of two reasons: 1) to help me work though a problem that I am currently dealing with, or 2) to share a solution to a problem that I was able to successfully overcome. I don’t think that I have ever mentioned that before.

41. The biggest problem facing our world? The idea that we believe that we are more different from each other than similar.

42. I deeply value each and every one of you: Okay, so I snuck in something that you already know about me. I cannot say it enough–thank you so much for being here and for being a part of the solution. I’m excited for what this year will bring, and I’m thrilled that you’ll be here on this journey with me.

Let’s do this!

Your Turn

Is there an area of your life where courage is needed? Did any of the 42 points above resonate with you? Jump into the comments and make your voice heard!

Shola

Shola

Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.
Shola
Shola
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Comments

  1. Happy belated birthday Shola, sorry for making you eat chocolate lava cake.

  2. Happy Birthday Shola! I simply love reading your posts, its my Monday dose of positiveness!! I wish you a wonderful and blessed new year of life full of excitement and success! 🙂 you are an inspiration to all of us! I wish you all the very best to you and your family.

    P.S. I also LOVE WHITE CHOCOLATE!! ts the most delicious thing in the entire world!

    Cheers!!

    • Yay Sofia! Another white chocolate lover! I appreciate your kind words more than you know, and it is a HUGE honor to be considered an inspiration–I promise you that I don’t take that lightly. You are the reason why I’ll continue to do this until the day I die!

  3. Happy Birthday x
    My first thought when reading this post was 42?? No way!! I’ve been following your blogs (yes I was around BEFORE you started The Positivety Solution) other than that another great post. I loved looking back at your other posts, except the April fool’s day one…that was just mean 😉 I, and I think everyone else, thought you’d lost your mind!! I hate to be cliche but you have had a HUGE positive affect on my life. Not just with all the health issues, for instance years ago you posted about being positive for one weekend. No negativity just positivity. Well that weekend turned into a week, then a month and now it’s a way of life. Sure I slip and have pity me parties, but I snap myself out of them and always look for the positive. That’s had a huge impact not just on my life but my families lives, my friends lives and even complete strangers lives, I hope!, I smile A LOT more, even to complete strangers, a smile and a good morning costs nothing but it sure brightens up the day. I hope you had a wonderful day xox

    • Yes Tessa, you one of the VERY few people (outside of my immediate family) who believed in me when no one cared to read what I writing. I am so, so, SO thankful that I earned your trust enough to keep you around for all of that time :). I’m sending you huge hugs, my friend–you words sustain me. Thank you so much for being here for the entire ride!

  4. Happy Birthday Shola, and I loved your 42 things. Thank you for sharing all that with us! I have taken the Meyers Briggs test as well, and am an INFJ. Although I was curious for a long time, I avoided it, as I was afraid of “labeling” myself. I finally took the test last year, and I found instead that it gave me great peace, to fully understand things about myself that I knew, but seemed so different from others, that I wondered if I was defective in some way, perhaps damaged irreparably by my upbringing. Now I understand that this is actually one of the more rare personality types, especially for a female (3-4% of females), while also on the spectrum of 100% normal, naturally occurring variations. So yes, I’ve always felt a little different, because I am. And I can be ok with that. My self-acceptance is much healthier now. And I really would like for members of this group to have opportunities to meet you, and each other. Maybe we can brainstorm on this one?

    • Donna, I love the Myers-Briggs stuff! Actually, I love any assessment that helps others to learn more about themselves and become more self-aware (in fact, I believe that if people were more self-aware, the world would become a kinder place overnight). And believe me, based on your intelligence and insight of the world, the pain that you endured as a child did not leave you irreparably broken. If anything, you are the poster child for you inner strength and resilience.

      As for the Positivity get-togethers, that is something that must happen before I write my 43 Things blog post next year. I have some good ideas about how to make it happen, so stay tuned, my friend…

  5. Happy Birthday Shola! I’m sure you had a wonderful birthday. It was interesting reading the 42 things about you. I could relate to many of the things that you listed. I think it’s great that this year your focus is on growth. It’s helpful to have a focus no matter what happens in life, good or bad, to learn from it, learn and grow. I found that the most challenging situation produce the greatest growth. If it’s easy the growth isn’t as great.

    With celebrating your 42nd birthday, I appreciate all of your experiences up to this point that has allowed you to write these posts, and glad you hit “publish” to add light to another person’s life.

    I could totally see you sitting in a chair being interviewed by Oprah on Super Soul Sunday or speaking at a TED talk! I do believe this will happen to you!👍 Thank you for sharing with us!

    • Gigi, from your mouth to God’s ears! Seriously, sharing my message of kindness and positivity on Oprah’s couch or on TED’s red circle would be a dream come true. If doesn’t happen, I can promise that it won’t be due to a lack of trying, that’s for sure! You’re very right about growth–if it’s not challenging, then the growth is usually minimal, at best. I’m going to try some very challenging things this year, and I’m excited to see where the growth will take me from here. Thank you so much for reading and for being a part of The Solution!

  6. Happy Belated Birthday, Shola.

    I am so sorry I am a week late in posting to you. Honestly, the election turned my world upside down. The day itself was crazy busy for me and by the time I actually got time to sit down and look at your post, I had gotten to the point where I chose a strong drink and going to bed instead. Sorry.

    I love your posts about yourself. I need to respond to a few in particular:

    I LOVE Brene Brown. She is a huge part of why I went back to school after so many years. I know we can make a difference in each other’s lives through vulnerability. It is the way to truly connect.

    I LOVE the Steelers, but not all sports. I could not tell you much at all about the Penguins or the Pirates, but the Steelers are my team. They lost to the Cowboys yesterday, though. So yeah, that’s a bummer.

    White chocolate is disgusting. It’s not even chocolate. It’s waxy and gross. My mom, however, adores it. So there’s that.

    I hope your birthday was as amazing as you are. I am so very grateful that you exist. If I knew your parents’ address, I would send them a thank you note! <3

    Hugs,

    Kathy

    • Oh man Kathy, I hear you. A stiff drink was definitely needed on 11/9, and I could write an entire blog post (scratch that, an entire book) on the topic. But for now, just know that I’m more fired up than ever to fight for kindness, inclusion, positivity, and for anyone who may feel marginalized.

      On a much lighter note–deep down, I think that you secretly love white chocolate. Don’t worry, you’re amongst friends, so you can admit it here. I’ll make sure to send you a super-sized box of it for the holidays 😉

      Thanks as always for being here and for keeping a smile on my face–it means a lot!

  7. Dear Shola! Happy, happy belated birthday! You deserve everything good in the world and more! I didn’t know where to reply after you words of encouragement today 11/14 so here I am. Thank you for keeping up your positivity and blog! I need it more now than ever before; I’m not perfect but it’s getting tough to keep a thick skin and remain positive now that the election is over. So keep the emails coming. When I see “Shola” in my inbox, it makes me happy and I smile.

  8. Aww, thanks Yolanda! Believe me, your thick skin and your positivity will be needed, so thank YOU for showing up to fight the good fight for kindness :). I promise that I’ll keep showing up in your inbox with emails, if you keep showing up to read them. Deal?

  9. leslie goode says:

    I will be attending your workshop in Gainesville next week and am sooooo looking forward to it!

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