Woman Wednesday: Ruby B. Johnson

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.         


Q and A with Ruby B. Johnson, Sierra Leone, West Africa

“Three things: take care of your mental health, control your narrative, and work smart and do your research.” 

 

Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I am a mining engineer and currently work at a gold mining operation. I am also the founder and editorial director of STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine. Premiered in September 2018 with its autumn issue, STEMher Magazine is a print magazine showcasing the education and experiences of girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics (STEM) academia, careers, and programs. STEMher celebrates women thriving in their careers and inspires others to fuel their curiosity and interests in STEM; the status of individuals featured range from middle school through retirement. In one year, STEMher has featured more than 50 STEM girls and women worldwide from countries like the United States of America, Australia, Ghana, Canada, South Africa, India, France, Nigeria, Channel Islands, The Bahamas, Sierra Leone, and England. All magazine issues are available for purchase on stemher.com and Amazon Marketplace.

 

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Summer 2019 Cover

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone [in West Africa]. I moved to the United States when I was 12 years old, which meant growing up and completing my middle school and high school education in Maryland. I graduated from Virginia Tech with a BSc in mining engineering and a minor in women’s studies leadership. While in college, I founded When You Believe Foundation, a program that empowers women and girls through social media engagement, workshops, and donations. In 2012, I competed in my first pageant, Miss Sierra Leone USA, with the platform of advocating for the recruitment and retention of girls and women in STEM fields, since I was a STEM college student at the time and women’s empowerment was something I was passionate about. I won the pageant and with that title, I was able to travel across the country as well as in Sierra Leone, encouraging girls and young women to pursue STEM. After the crowns and titles, STEM advocacy and women’s empowerment continues to be my lifelong platform. I wanted to take this platform to another level to be able to reach women and girls I may never cross paths with, so I created STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine last year. 

 

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Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A: Three things: take care of your mental health, control your narrative, and work smart and do your research. (1) From Monday through Thursdays, I work ten-hour days and a two-hour commute to and from work. Additionally, I am an entrepreneur who runs her own business creating content and putting together each issue for STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine. I also serve in a couple of ministries at my church. Life gets busy. In the last year, I’m being intentional to prioritize my mental health. Making time to rest and slow down when necessary. In order to be productive with work, I have to take care of myself by sleeping, eating healthy, exercising, spending time with God through prayer, and meditation as well as reading my Bible. I have to be intentional about making time for myself, family and friends, as well as work. It’s okay to say “no” or “not yet” sometimes. I cannot fill the cups of others when my cup is empty. It’s also okay to ask for help—whether it’s in prayer, family and friends, community, or therapy.

 

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(2) As I navigate through the professional world and life in general, I’m realizing how important it is for one to control their narrative. Of course we cannot fully control what people say about us or how they feel about us; however, I believe we can play a role in those things. The way we carry ourselves is very important. We have to learn wisdom on when to speak up or be silent. We must be our biggest defenders and tell people how we want them to treat or address us. (3) Running a business is no easy feat and it’s time-consuming. In college, I learned to not study hard but study smart. I believe that’s important to do when you are a business owner. Being that I don’t have a business or journalism background, I spend a lot of time learning—asking questions, reading articles, listening to podcasts, and everything else in between. I want this magazine to go beyond, so that means I have to put in the work. I may not see harvest immediately, but sowing seeds each day counts. All in all, I believe it’s important to know who you are, stand firm on your values, always remember your why, and never lose your humanity no matter what environment you are in. 

 

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: To me, feminism means being my authentic self, living out my God-given purpose, and being intentional about making a difference in the community. While working on my women’s studies leadership minor in college, I learned about intersectionality. I am a Christian woman, born and raised in Sierra Leone, a naturalized American citizen, a woman in STEM, usually one of few or only black people in some professional settings, and a family-oriented individual. I thrive because of these lived experiences but also have a heart and a curious mind to learn about those who are different from me. Feminism to me is never compromising my faith and also being compassionate to others. To me, feminism means to reach for excellence and nothing less.

 

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Woman Wednesday: Ioana

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.    


 

Q and A with Ioana, Cluj, Romania

 

“What I would like everyone to know and apply is passion! Find something that you love doing and go for it. Take time for it, show what you do to other people, involve your loved ones in your passion. Whenever you feel completely disappointed, desperate, and that life is completely pointless, turn to that color or canvas, pot or music, or whatever makes you feel joy.”   

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: Since I was very little, I loved playing with stones, rocks, mud, wood, and pretty much anything I could find on the ground of my parents’ garden. When I was about 12, my parents introduced me to a well-known visual artist here in Cluj, a sculptor.

 

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From that moment on, I started creating carved pieces out of stone, wood, clay, resin, bronze, and many other materials. This began as a childhood hobby but soon became a lifelong dream and career. I applied to the arts high school, followed by arts university, then a master’s degree in cultural management and then another master’s degree at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels.

 
I traveled a lot, this being one of my greatest passions in life—discovering new places and cultures and becoming inspired by other ways of living. Through many of these travels, I also organized exhibitions, cultural events, theater and performance events in countries such as Morocco, Armenia, Belgium, France, Spain, Sweden, and I also made a lot of friends everywhere. All of these experiences have shaped me, both as an artist and as a human being.

 

 

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Pictured: Art by Ioana.

 

Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know?

A: None of it was easy. Each time I left, moved, traveled, I did it alone. I enjoyed traveling alone because this allowed me to discover the world in a very personal way. I lived in France for one year, didn’t speak the language very well, and didn’t know anyone in the city I moved to. It was very hard at times, and I wanted to come back home more times than I can count, but slowly, I learned the language, started meeting people, people began interacting with my art, and so, by the end of my stay there, I had an exhibition, friends, and a new language under my belt.

 

Armenia was another challenge, as I went there in an Artist in Residence program (AIR), without any idea of what to expect. My great-grandmother was Armenian, and I had this strong desire to visit the place I also had roots in. At that time, I was still working on war-themed art pieces and was deeply inspired by the history of Armenian people, both during the genocide in 1915 and the more recent one committed by Azerbaijan in 1988. I had this drive to show people what has happened before in our history because I believed that this could change mentalities and ensure a better present and future for people. I was quite rebellious and hardheaded in regards to my beliefs.

 

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When I came back from Belgium, where I got my master’s degree in sculpture, I was 25. At that time, I started craving order and responsibility in my life, so, because I was surrounded by doctors in my family, I started working in an oncology clinic as a manager. One year later, I started working at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy here in Cluj, and by the time I was 27, I had two jobs, no creative time, and a big hole in my life. I missed the sculpture and the arts. I missed my years of creative events organizing, so I started, slowly but surely, infiltrating my creative side into the business part of my life. I started designing posters and commercials for the institutions I worked in, developing promotion campaigns, and started making soap to giveaway to our oncology patients.

 

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Soap making was actually the moment of my awakening—as I was quite numb since I returned to my country. The colors, the essential oils…it’s a true therapy, this soap making activity. After that, I started making jewelry and slowly grew back my inspiration for sculpture. As I moved to a new house with a tiny garden, I rediscovered my love for gardening as well, and this became one of my biggest passions. Growing plants! And landscape design. This month I decided to start growing a vegetable garden for my family and am constantly reading about seeds, soil, and getting inspiration on landscape architecture sites. I guess I get this from my mother, who is a professor in landscape architecture and my grandfather who was a phytopathologist (doctor in plant disease).

 

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Pictured: Hand-crafted, natural soap by Ioana.

 

At the moment, I still work two jobs, but when I get home in the evening, I create something. This is my goal every day, whether it’s a silver ring, 20 soaps, or just transplanting plants, every day is a creation day! My dream is to be able to quit all jobs and only focus on my passion: art! So, I have these 3 things as creative pillars: sculpture, soap-making, and gardens. And the one thing I was lacking also arrived in my life, once I regained trust in myself and my creative side, my boyfriend.

 

What I would like everyone to know and apply is passion! Find something that you love doing and go for it. Take time for it, show what you do to other people, involve your loved ones in your passion. Whenever you feel completely disappointed, desperate, and that life is completely pointless, turn to that color or canvas, pot or music, or whatever makes you feel joy.

 

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Have faith in yourself. Also very important: Will is a self-training thing–if you don’t stimulate yourself, you won’t pursue your goals, so find things that stimulate you! Be it that one extra like on Facebook, a kind word from your partner, or selling one of your crafts at a fair, just do it! Be brave!

 

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: If we ask ourselves, “Is feminism important?” Just check this little historical fact: Women in Switzerland gained the right to vote in federal elections after a referendum in February 1971.

1971! One of the “most civilized” countries in the world!
So, what does feminism stand for? I believe that if we were not forced to live in a world ruled by men, in which we were treated as subhuman, pets, or worse, we would not have been obliged to react. Feminism is a reaction to oppression, demanding equality in rights, equality in perception, and equality in labor. This is what it means to me:
a necessary movement and attitude in the 21st century.

 

 

Connect with me! I’d love to chat with you! 

 

Personal contact:

ioanas.tanasescu@yahoo.com

www.facebook.com/ioanas.tanasescu

 

My pages:

https://www.facebook.com/ArtfusionTransylvania/

https://www.facebook.com/SoapySculpture/

https://www.facebook.com/desculptura/

 

 

 

 

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Woman Wednesday: Jessica K

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.    


 

Q and A with Jessica from Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada  

 

“We are human. We can only learn from that and try to be better next time.”  

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I’m passionate about so many things! I’m an enthusiastic person by nature, and everything I discover is always “the best thing ever” [laughs]. Things I love that have stuck are reading, cooking, red wine, and hiking.

I’m also super invested in (and passionate about) helping other women succeed in their own entrepreneurial businesses. Once upon a time, I was a freelance copywriter and found such success that I was able to quit my full-time job to focus on my writing. Now, I’m giving back and helping other women achieve success like I once did, and girl, it feels amazing!

 

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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: It’s funny because I don’t really feel like my younger years influenced where I am now. I’m completely different from my family and have always marched to the beat of my own drum. My family is very much the “you get a good job, work all day, come home to live your 4 hours of normal life until it’s time to wake up and do it again” mentality, whereas I’ve always been extremely expressive, creative, and nontraditional.

My mom often asks where the heck I came from [laughs]!

But you know what? I really enjoy that part of me. I love being able to teach my family new things and hearing the surprise in their voices when they hear my latest endeavor because it’s just so different from anything they are used to. We certainly learn from each other!

 

 

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Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know?

A: I’m an extremely positive person by nature and genuinely love helping others find their way. Over the years, I’ve really learned to be accepting of others and keep the judgment at the door because you never know what someone else has been through. Above all, always be kind!

Of course, I’m not perfect and neither are you. Try and practice these things, and if you catch yourself being judgmental, don’t beat yourself up. It happens, we are human. We can only learn from that and try to be better next time.

 

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: To me, feminism is about equality. No matter what gender we are, we all deserve to be treated as equal human beings. And that’s it. It’s quite simple really. Treat others with kindness, respect, and equality. Women are strong, and we deserve the same treatment as any man. Girl power!

 

 

Connect with me!

You can find me here:

Facebook

Instagram

Website 

https://www.bravedigitalcoaching.com/

 

 

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Woman Wednesday: Jess

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below. 


 

Q and A with Jess, Howard County, Maryland 

“If you have a setback in the process of achieving your goals, and you feel as though you’ve failed, take a moment to reflect on why you weren’t successful and what you can do to ensure that you won’t make the same mistake(s) again. Then forgive yourself and get ready for another try. Self-improvement is not an endgame; it is a constant process.”

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I’m passionate about self-improvement in all areas of my life. I am constantly reflecting on how I can become the best possible version of myself, the person that I visualize when I think “this is who I want to be.”

As a third-grade teacher, I am always looking for better ways to engage and instruct my students, whether it’s something small like using a magnifying glass to be “Story Problem Detectives,” or something big, like transforming my classroom into a tropical rainforest, complete with a humidifier and real plants. Every lesson that I teach, I ask myself, “What went well?” and “What could I do differently to make this lesson better?” The book that I’m reading now, “The Wild Card: 7 Steps to an Educator’s Creative Breakthrough,” is a great source of inspiration, and it also provides concrete steps to help me improve my teaching.

I strive for self-improvement in other areas of my life as well. I want to be physically stronger, I want to be more organized, I want to be more financially secure, and I want to be more fearless in pursuit of things that excite me. I’m always working on some part of myself.

It can be hard not to beat myself up when I make mistakes that put me further away from reaching my goals. But it’s something that I’ve been working on a lot lately.

 

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Pictured: Jess in her classroom. She does whatever she can to make learning fun for her students. 

 

Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know?

A: Striving for perfection doesn’t work. It’s an absurd amount of pressure to place on yourself, and it’s setting yourself up for failure. You are a human being. You’re not perfect, and you never will be. Perfection is an unattainable goal, and it’s unreasonable to expect it of yourself.

You can, however, always strive for improvement. I personally have started changing my mindset to think “progress, not perfection,” and that has done wonders for my stress level.

I wrote a lot about this in a post about my New Year’s resolutions on my blog, which you can find here if you would like to read it: https://averageadventuress.blogspot.com/2019/01/new-year-new-words.html

 

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Pictured: Jess rock climbing. 

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: One of the stories I’ve heard the most about my childhood is the one that my dad likes to tell: When I was about three years old, my family was getting ready to leave the house (we may have been going out to dinner or to the park, that’s the part that no one really remembers). I was sent upstairs to get my shoes. After several minutes, my dad hollered up the stairs that if I didn’t come back down with my shoes soon, I would be left behind. No response from three-year-old me. He came up the stairs to investigate, and there I was, on the floor of my room, silent tears streaming down my face as I fiercely struggled to tie my own shoelaces.

I like to say that this story sums up two of my three main personality traits: stubbornly independent (to the point of pigheadedness at times) and a perfectionist, holding myself to high standards (sometimes impossibly high). This simultaneously drives my desire for self-improvement and makes me very anxious.

 

 

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Pictured: Jess at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. 

 

My third main personality trait: I’ve always been an introvert. As a kid, I remember feeling tortured every time my parents made me order my own food at a restaurant or introduce myself to someone new. Speaking to strangers was the absolute bane of my childhood existence.

I started playing the violin in 3rd grade, but I was hands-down the quietest in the entire orchestra until high school when the director decided he was going to bring me out of my shell. Throughout my four years of high school, he pushed me to take on leadership roles within the orchestra, and he even tutored me during the summer (to the point that I became concertmaster of the orchestra and played a solo in the spring concert my senior year). This was something beyond unthinkable to my ninth-grade self.

That one teacher had such a profound impact on my life. The confidence I found in orchestra spilled over into other areas of my life. It also cemented my desire to become a teacher. I want to do for students what my high school orchestra director did for me.

I’m still an introvert. I’m still stubbornly independent. And I’m still a perfectionist. I think these things are the anchors of who I am. But I’ve found ways to make these traits work for me, rather than allowing them to be obstacles between me and my goals; I’m turning them into strengths.

 

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Pictured: Jess playing kronum (a hybrid sport of soccer, handball, and basketball, played on a circular field with 4 goals). 

Q: What would you like others to learn from your story? 

A: To become the person who you want to be, you must make a plan; it’s not just going to happen on its own. I start with the big goals I want to achieve, and I look for small steps to get me closer to achieving that goal, one step at a time.

For example, reducing the amount of trash I send to the landfills is one of the big goals that I’m working on. Small steps toward this goal include using reusable grocery bags and produce bags, using reusable water bottles and coffee cups, and saying “no” to freebies that I don’t need. As I master each “baby step,” I move on to another small goal. Big changes don’t happen all at once; the small changes add up to big change.

If you have a setback in the process of achieving your goals, and you feel as though you’ve failed, take a moment to reflect on why you weren’t successful and what you can do to ensure that you won’t make the same mistake again. Then forgive yourself and get ready for another try. Self-improvement is not an endgame; it is a constant process.

 

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Pictured: Jess during her recent skydiving adventure. 

 

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Pictured: Jess surrounded by Legos in Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

 

 

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Woman Wednesday: Jen

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below. 


 

Q and A with Jen, Green Bay, Wisconsin

“You can do what you set your mind to. Everything takes work, and learning is a constant part of life. If your dream is to one day own a business that makes money, you need to make sure you have all the skills and knowledge to make that happen.”

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: In a few words, my passions are my family (including my collies and cat), my business, and flyball. I own Candy Social Media. I am a digital marketer helping real estate agents and mortgage brokers generate exclusive prequalified leads. I also offer social media management, social media strategy, and social media marketing and consulting. My main focus, however, is on generating leads for real estate agents.

 

 

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I found this passion when I realized that my previous passion for technology simply wasn’t there anymore. I felt the fire burning out. Back in 2003, I was overwhelmed with technology, and I was excited to help people. I finished my degree in network security from the local technical college. I was president of the computer science club there for two years while attending college. I really enjoyed being in charge of the club, and I enjoyed the extra responsibilities involved of being president.  I moved on to get my bachelor’s degree in business management. I enjoyed learning about business management. I yearned to be in front of technology. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and learn more about it.  From 2007, I have worked in the technology field in various roles from being level 1 support to network administrator. All of these required some sort of certification requiring me to renew it every three years. As if spending 10k on my education wasn’t enough, Corporate America wanted me to spend another $500 to $10,000 dollars to show that I know my stuff.

 

 

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Pictured: Jen and her collie, Candy.

 

I was tired of not being recognized for my knowledge and education that I worked hard for. I wasn’t able to move up in management positions because of my lack of certification.  One day, the job that I enjoyed required the support team to learn to programme of C++ or C#. I knew that it was too detailed for me to do. I quit my job and decided that I wanted to work for myself. I wanted a career change.

 

I saw this 9-5 killer ad on Facebook. I signed up for the webinar. I didn’t have the money to pay for the course, but I talked with other people who joined the course. It changed their lives, and they were able to make a living. The business involved creating websites that focused on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is difficult to keep up with because of the fact that almost every second, it’s changing. By the time I finally knew what I was doing, something new came out. I tried that for about 6 months. It didn’t work out. I went back to work for someone else at a college. The people there showed me that I didn’t have a passion for helping people in technology. I was reminded that I didn’t want to work for someone else. I wanted to make myself money; I did not want to make money for someone else. I saw another ad for a social media manager. People pay you to play on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et cetera. I spent the last year learning about how to engage, the software required, the content required, et cetera. This is all great, but you aren’t making money from your knowledge. It’s an expensive hobby. From there, I signed up for one more class of how to prospect your clients and reaching out to our potential clients. Then I jumped in! 

 

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Up until about October, I was friends with a digital marketer who was looking for different people to complete his challenges. I signed up for his challenge and immediately was blown away. The first thing I learned was sales. I learned about how to get the clients. And from October, I have been able to gain the knowledge and confidence for me to put myself out there connecting with real estate agents and mortgage brokers. I was too scared to reach out to clients. I thought if I friended them on Facebook and made nice with them and offering them advice about social media, they will ask me to be their social media manager. Nope. This isn’t the way things work. You have to put yourself out there constantly to make yourself known. I have reached out more to potential clients in the past three days than I have in the past year.

 

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Outside of business, I am passionate about health and pets! I have three collies and one cat.  My company is named after my dog, Candy. Candy is a 14-month-old border collie who gets to travel the country with me (attending flyball seminars and tournaments). Flyball is the past time passion that I enjoy doing when I am not working. It’s something that makes me happy.  I was able to train Candy from my past experience training with Gunner. Gunner is a 2-year-old border collie who knows flyball, but he seems to have a jock mentality [laughs].

 

Q: How has your past experience shaped you?

A: All of my past experiences and education and personality really helped to develop who I am today. The motivation and ambition have to be there every day. Also, never let your disability get in the way of your dreams! I have a stuttering disability and rather than hiding behind it, I use it to my advantage to work harder! I am sacrificing time being spent on training my dogs and time with my boyfriend, but in the end, I am putting time into my company, which means that I am putting time into myself. I am finally living the life that I want to without having to worry about paying those bills or worrying about my cell phone bill being cut off! And it’s nice knowing that if I need an extra day off, I don’t have to call my boss hoping that she or he will give me the time off.

 

 

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Q: What would you like others to learn from your story?

A: You can do what you set your mind to. Everything takes work, and learning is a constant part of life. If your dream is to one day own a business that makes money, you need to make sure you have all the skills and knowledge needed to make that happen. If you would like to do what I do, you will also need the right software. It is also important to have the capital to put into your business. I worked a part-time job to have money to put into my business.

Also, always make time for those who matter in your life.
Happy Holidays from my family to yours!
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Click here to check out Candy Social Media.

 

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