The Dance

Dogs give us so many gifts. The two that are most poignant for me are how they bring play into our lives, reminding us to get out of our heads and into our bodies, hearts and souls, and how they remind us that Life is precious, and not to be taken for granted.

Dogs give us this second reminder by dying before we do. In a world where we are so divorced from death, this gut-wrenching gift is as profound as it is difficult. Death is hard because it reminds us that we also will not live forever. Yet this is exactly the awareness we need to live a life that will not be filled with regret.

I believe that death keeps us on the straight and narrow, keeps us alert to staying alive in our bodies while we can. I was initiated to the gifts of death early on.

My birth father died 10 days before my “sweet 16.″ I wanted a cherried-out VW bug … convertible, if possible. Instead I got an initiation into becoming who I am today. In case I had not learned the lesson, my paternal Grandmother died three days before my 20th birthday, and this was just the beginning of the journey. These were not happy times, but now, 30 years later, I know I would not have been as determined to live without regret had I not received those odd and terrifying birthday presents. And I am grateful.

Being a dog trainer means I outlive so many four-legged creatures who are friends, family and soul mates. I used to consider it part of my “dues,” the price of having a vocation that brings me so much joy. But this gift has also taught me so much about how I want to live. I am privileged to share in both the lives and deaths of dogs, especially my own. I’m a better human because of dogs in life and in death.

I’m experiencing that difficult gift right now. My dog Winnie the Pooh-dle crossed over to the other side recently. Less than a week before he died we had a fabulous dance party in the living room. It started out as a party to help my other dog Gracie to “find her rhythm.” Winnie and I eventually decided that Gracie just wasn’t going to find her groove that day. (Though we had a ton of fun trying to help her!) I put my fun but dance-challenged Gracie away, and Winnie and I shook our groove thangs!

Winnie was the most amazing dancer (of any species). Probably because he usually let me lead. But mostly because Winnie was Life incarnate. He was radiant and soft and gentle. But not perfect. He had his times of being a neurotic mess … like many of us. And yet that was strangely perfect as well. At some point along the way I became protective of Winnie’s right to be Winnie in all his glory and deep messiness. It’s funny how it’s the annoying bits that become beloved and are then missed. Just as no other dog will love me exactly as Winnie did, no other dog will annoy me in exactly the ways he did either. I will miss both.

For today, I celebrate his joy, his laughter and his delight in dancing. I miss him.

Before motherhood … and Winnie, I used to dance every Sunday. I would “sweat my prayers” in a practice of ecstatic dance. It had been well over a decade since I’d had that in my life, but this March I made the decision to resume the ritual. Two months later, though, I still hadn’t been able to drag myself out of bed. Sunday is my only day to sleep in after all.

Yesterday, I went for the first time, in honor of Winnie — I thought. To my great delight, the experience brought me much more than a way to honor him. It opened up a way for me to dance in a new and different way with Winnie. It was magnificent and healing, just what I needed.

In less than two hours of dancing, I let go of so much mourning. I’m not under any illusion that I’m done. Still, as I danced I remembered that I don’t believe in death and why I don’t believe in death (which is a story for another time).

What I believe instead is that there is only birth, birth into a body and then birth into Spirit. So really there is no reason to mourn, because birth — whether into a body or into Spirit — is a time for celebration.

I’ve had the tremendous gift of being in a state of such deep love and gratitude for a life shared that at the time of Birth into Spirit there was no room for sadness. I know that experience is possible, and it is amazing when it happens. There is freedom and truth in it.

But that isn’t the experience I am having with Winnie. There are tears. They come at odd times, beginning and stopping with a whim all their own. Except mornings, which are always difficult.

Something changed, though, at the dance on Sunday. During the first part, I could feel Winnie there with me, and we were whole and connected, and there was peace and decadence and surrender to the sheer perfection of Life. I’ve never danced like that before. I broke free.

During the second part of the dance, I was on my own at first. I couldn’t sense Winnie at all. Winky, our instructor, suggested we focus on our “inner landscape,” but on either side of me noisy exhales were interrupting the silence. I struggled to not judge, not to move into annoyance or to ask my fellow dancers to please tone down their breathing, which was not synchronous to each other’s or to mine. My raw edges were hard to smooth.

And then the music began with a whooshing sound that both masked their breathing and encouraged harmony. I wanted to move, but the song wasn’t really Winnie’s groove. He liked music with that beat that made it hard to not to dance. So I began to move without him, not as sure of myself but wanting to find my way.

A beautiful white-haired woman in a hot pink shirt was smiling and meeting my eyes. I wanted to dance past her, and it seemed that was where things were heading … and then she linked her arm in mine and swirled me around. As she did so I was startled to feel her energy and find that her eyes were full of Winnie. She let go and danced on, as did I.

Still, all these hours later, I remain stunned and processing how I could find Winnie’s Spirit in a beautiful woman in a dance class. Once I found my bearings, I thought, “I’ll have to keep an eye out for Winnie!” It would be so like him to show up at random playful times in the eyes of a soulful stranger. That fleeting moment is helping me be OK.

We cannot avoid death, or any other unwanted experience. But we can learn how to dance with them. We can try to find the beauty in them. This is the freedom and truth of Winnie’s birth back into Spirit. It is a truth that breaks me open to set me free. Life is perfect.

Joy and pain are like the Yin/Yang symbol. Within Yin there is a small circle of Yang and within Yang there is a small circle of Yin, resulting in perfect balance. Within Joy there is always the reality that we can’t live in Joy forever. If we could remember that in our time of Joy, it would deepen the preciousness of that moment. And within Pain there is the potential to find Joy because of the Pain, not in spite of it. The ability to experience Joy directly corresponds to the willingness to experience Pain. You can’t be numb to one without also becoming numb to the other. There is no avoiding Pain, so I want to lean into it, to dance with it, to try to make friends with it.

What I’ve come to realize is, Pain is a part of Life … especially Life lived well. It’s a part of Life and of Growth. Beauty and Optimism are available when you allow Pain to give meaning to your Life. In that way, Pain is neither bad nor good, it just is … in the same way that pleasure just is. Like peaceful days and natural disasters, one feels good and one doesn’t. But both have been a part of Life since the very beginning. It is the dance.

At various points in that second session Winnie came in and out of the dance. When he showed up, he gave the part of me that misses him enough nourishment to make everything OK. I was then free to find that I didn’t need him there all the time. I began finding my way with the music without him and finally ended the session lying on the floor, my tears streaming, simultaneously sad and emotionally full. It was perfect.

As we gathered in a circle Winky spoke about what had come up for her during the dance. I hadn’t told her that I was there because of Winnie, which made what she said so magical. She’d been reading a book and was contemplating Christian and Pagan world views, sharing that Pagans seemed to have trouble with the concept that Heaven was someplace other than on Earth. She wondered, “What if Life was living through us? What if Life was loving ITSELF THROUGH US? Maybe Life is celebrating itself through each of us?”


And once again, I saw Winnie. I heard him merge with Winky and laugh as she paid homage to the Dance of Life and in doing so, paid homage to Winnie, to his aliveness, to his love of Dance and his ability to let Life dance through him. The energy within those questions is the energy of Winnie, and what fueled the sparkle in his eyes and the fire in his heart.

Winnie was and is such an alive being. How can I not miss him? May my tears for him help me let go of the places in me that have forgotten to live fully.

Today is precious. Be with your dog and other loved ones in whatever ways bring meaning to your lives.


why be relationship based

My career in dog training truly began when I was 10 years old. There weren’t as many dog training “experts” back then. But I’d been reading the books of the experts that we had since I was 6. They were based in theories of behaviorism, same as always. Back then the trend was alpha pack leader type behaviorism. Luckily, my first dog, Midnight would have none of that alpha pack leader stuff.

Midnight was a female, abused Shepherd mix with an endearing curly tail. She was terrified of life. She didn’t like me because she didn’t like kids. But no one else in the family liked or wanted her. She’d been my Grandmother’s dog. We got her because my Grandmother moved into an apt. that didn’t allow pets. My grandmother wasn’t really into dogs but she didn’t want Midnight to go to the shelter. All the back-story meant to me was that she was a dog and she was mine. I felt sure everything else would work out.

We had a rocky start. I’d always assumed my first dog would like me. Undeterred, I found that lunch meat and table scraps did wonders to change her mind. Eventually we were best friends, delighting in the simple pleasure of snuggling together, each leaning a bit into the other. Then I helped Midnight learn to play. She blossomed. Finally we were ready to begin training. I got out my books with excitement. I’d been waiting so long! Midnight would do ok with training at first. But eventually she would become sullen and retreat into herself, refusing to work or engage. I’d stop training and eventually things would get back to where they were before training; happy go lucky, playful and in love. I’d start back, and soon after our relationship would be on the rocks.This happened many times before I sat down and dissolved into frustrated tears one day.

I wanted to train Midnight. Midnight wanted to please me. There were moments that she totally enjoyed training. We both did. So it wasn’t that she simply hated training. I knew the books like the back of my hand. I was doing everything they said. I was doing the right things. Where was I going wrong?

That moment of pained frustration was the beginning of relationship-based dog training. I realized I was listening to the book, the supposed expert and I had it all wrong.

Midnight was actively telling me how to train her all the time. She had the most expressive eyes. Body language that was unmistakable. She couldn’t have been a better communicator. But I’d missed it, because I’d been having a relationship with the book instead of her. That was the end of me listening to supposed human “experts”. Dogs know what they need if we will only stop and listen. Midnight became my expert and teacher. She taught me to listen with everything. She taught me to listen the way I’d need to listen if I were living in the wild, with Earth and things that could eat me. To listen to her with my eyes, ears, touch, instincts and most importantly my heart. She always met me more than halfway, she had a heart of gold, my mentor.

But she was such a tender soul that she was never forgiving of training mistakes. She couldn’t be. She hurt her too much when I didn’t listen to her. It was hard as a 10 year old to train Midnight. But it intensified my ability to listen so deeply and intently that I learned to simply not make mistakes.She taught me to stop and listen. I learned it was best to just stop when something in me knew I was going off track with her. When Midnight looked at me with eyes that said, “Please no, not again.” It was better to stop and listen than to push forward because a few minutes of mistakes was going to take 2 weeks or more to heal.

Midnight was pushed herself to give me all she had. There was never a moment she wasn’t giving me all she could give. I never needed to push her. It’s worth saying this isn’t true of every dog. There are dogs that need me to push and my push comes from believing in them. But books never tell seem to tell one that dogs are individuals and need to be treated as such.

There is no magic one way that is going to work with every dog or person you meet. You need to be prepared to adjust to the being you are in relationship with. Furthermore that relationship will change and then so must you. I believe growth is the mandate of healthy relationship.

I’m grateful now that Midnight did not have the ability to forgive me when I failed her, she had to insist on impeccable listening. What a life lesson to learn so young! It’s a gift and I will forever go deeper with this lesson and gift. There so much there. I can always learn to listen more deeply.

Behavior and behaviorism was a small part of training Midnight. I didn’t know it then but our journey together was based on healthy relationship. Dogs have taught me about healthy relationship. I’ve taken a look at wolf packs and dog packs and found that in healthy packs there is a lot of give and take. The reality of them was different than what I’d been taught. Over the years I came to consider what it would be like that if the alphas of wolf packs ran their packs as trainers using the “alpha pack leader theory” often suggest. I concluded that they’d be so busy worrying about hierarchy that they’d have no time to hunt or mate. They’d be too busy keeping the other wolves in line.

In East LA, where strays are plentiful and form packs, there is a lot of switching around in many packs. But then there are a few that are stable. These are packs with leaders that allow everyone to find harmony within the pack. There isn’t a lot of haggling over hierarchy. In fact, it seemed like hierarchy was more like a comfortable pair of jeans than standoffs and power struggles. Dogs liked following a strong leader that is also safe; not overly dominating but willing to set boundaries.In such a pack leadership is not rigid. Different dogs may take a leadership role in different situations.

Dogs and wolves don’t focus on behavior. In fact, a leader may specifically and literally turn his or her head so as to not see another dog or wolf take something of value, like a bone. It’s not stealing the bone. It’s not relinquishing authority. It’s give and take of both the bone and the authority. That’s not behavior. It’s healthy relationship on a societal level.

Healthy relationship is healthy relationship.

There’s a reason why in our relationships with other humans we don’t focus on behaviors. Or we do, but that is when really unhealthy relationships are involved, like domestic violence. For most of us, we want more than a shift in behaviors. We want healthy relationships, which will automatically include healthy behaviors. Our dogs want the same things.

Current trends in dog training are still based in behavior. We’ve moved to treat based behaviorism. Most people don’t get dogs thinking they will need to become versed in Skinner’s operant conditioning theories to train them. I understand the allure of thinking treats can fix everything. When it first came out I totally tried it. “Yay, the end of needing to say no!” But it wasn’t as effective as what I was already doing. I already used much of the theories. But found the absence of no, was not healthy communication and then less effective. It was not healthy relationship.

Fast forward 20 years and there has been a huge surge in aggression since we moved into treat based training. (And I love giving treats. I use treats. Treats are a huge business expense for me because they are an important tool. I’m not anti-treats. I just think they are tool, not a complete training program) Aggression is a behavior. But it’s not the problem. The problem, typically, is emotional and behavior based tools often do not help emotional issues. They may help with coping temporarily but for the most part they aren’t the answer. It’s like cut the stem of a weed and leaving the roots. Then when behavior based methods don’t work people say, “We’ve tried everything.” and then feel justified in killing these dogs.

Dogs with emotional issues are why I’m a relationship based trainer. I want to be able to help every dog. (And who among us doesn’t have an emotional issue or two?) What I’ve found is that Häagen-Dazs can help. But not for long. It is not truly a solution. (Darn!) If I am looking for help with my emotional issues or relationship issue, I don’t want a friend to shovel ice cream at me and think that’s a meaningful way to help me or our relationship. I want and need more than that. Though I won’t refuse ice cream AND healthy relationship skills! The same is true for dogs. All my dogs like Häagen-Dazs but they need healthy relationship to truly enjoy it. 🙂

But seriously, if I focus on healthy relationship then I ask different questions and I find different answers. I find answers that help dogs that have had multiple trainers hand them a death sentence. Shifting the focus to relationship makes all the difference.

Before I can ask, “What do I need to do to resolve this dog’s aggression?”, I ask, “Who is this dog?” Just like any other relationship, who the dog is will influence every relationship and behavior he or she has. “Wherever you go, there you are”; even if you are a dog. So if I see an insecure dog with an aggression issue, my big concern is not the aggression. I’m deeply concerned about the dog’s insecurity, because that’s the root of the issue. If dog is not insecure, chances are the aggression will often seem to magically disappear. If I focus on the aggression and ignore the insecurity, I’m likely to conclude that the dog is not safe for society and then needs to be put down. Furthermore, it is likely to in fact be true. What is also true is that dog will die because I focused on behavior.

So often people tell me their dog has been an amazing, perfect dog but then one day became aggressive and all their training has flown out the window. The reality is that the dog has emotional issues, which upon reflection, the owner will acknowledge had always been there. The owner’s assessment of the dog being “amazing and perfect” was based on the dog’s ability to exhibit behaviors the owner liked. But if the owner had assessed the dog from a place looking for wholeness and balance, they may have seen the emotional issues. This would have allowed them to resolve the emotional issues before the aggressive behaviors started.

Relationship based tools let me support the whole dog. I’d rather do that than support certain behaviors. This approach prevents issues, sometimes serious ones.

It’s counter to the current culture to advocate for relationship-based dog training. We are so enamored with the idea that a treat or withholding a treat can fix everything. But our dog training culture is just a microcosm of our bigger cultural issues.

We are in dire need of healthy relationships. We are out of balance with ourselves, each other and the planet. Dogs allow us a safe place to practice coming into balance and remember what it is to be in healthy relationships.

How many relationships in your life are healthy, nourishing and supportive? Do you handle conflict with grace, using it as a path to intimacy? Do you have healthy communication skills? Can you hold space for another in their time of need? Or do you need to disconnect or even run away? Can you ask for help? Can you say no? Can you let happiness into your life? Do let others support you? (And if you don’t attract people that are supportive, the unfortunate answer is no. But you can grow into changing that.) Do you think our society is healthy? Do we as a society and as individual even ponder what is healthy relationship?

What are the components that make a relationship with any species a healthy one? While we can ponder this in our heads, and that is useful, this is actually a question for the heart. We’ll find the answers that truly work over the long term for all concerned, in the heart.

Dogs, like wolves, are actually wired for healthy relationship. So are we, by the way. We’re just more practiced at over-thinking things to the point that we ignore our own instincts toward balance. Most dogs, even aggressive ones, still have their instincts towards healthy relationships intact.

We should be listening. For many of us, dogs are our biggest links to nature and healthy relationship. As we find our way to healthy relationship with them, we may very well find we’ve found our way to healthy relationship with ourselves and each other.

Lean into listening with everything, but most of all, with the heart. If you’ve forgotten how, ask your dog to teach you.

Finding Beauty in the Dark

If you’d like music – One More Time – by Steven Walters

I think as a culture, we are afraid of the Dark. This fear prevents us from celebrating Winter Solstice the shortest or darkest day of the year, as a day to celebrate the Dark. Instead we will celebrate the “Coming of the Light”; the Sun, a masculine energy. In 6 months or so we will celebrate Summer Solstice, and we will again celebrate the Light; the longest day of the year and masculine energy. Yet there is a reason for the seasons. Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall each have their gifts. The Light and the Dark are both worth celebrating.

The Dark can be thought of as the Shadow parts, the hidden, the unknown, something inherently uncomfortable for most of us.

Our culture has not done a good job with creating a meaningful frame of reference for the Dark. But other cultures have created paradigms that allow the celebration of the Dark. In Native Americanism it is the Great Mystery, the place of birth of all things. It is interesting to consider that if we look at the Big Bang theory, the Earth and all life were born from the Dark of the Great Mystery. In Eastern philosophy there is the concept of Yin and Yang, the masculine and feminine, the Light and the Dark; yet neither is viewed as positive or negative. Yin and Yang are about balance and both sides are seen as necessary to achieve balance. This is exactly my point.

Without a willingness to celebrate the Dark we will be out of balance as people and as a culture. It is said that to the extent one is unwilling to feel pain, sadness, anger and other negative emotions that one will also mute the ability to feel joy, love and happiness. Chronically avoiding the Dark may be why our culture has such issues with depression. I know what it is like to live that journey.

I used to get depressed every January and stay that way until late February, around the time of my birthday. The pattern mirrored my father’s hospital stay and death right before my 16th birthday and 4 years later my grandmother’s hospital stay and death right before my 20th birthday. (And yes, if the Universe wants you to ponder Light and Dark, having people you love die right before your birthday will give you a nudge in that direction 🙂  At 16 and even 20, I was unprepared to deal with those events, so I didn’t. I was sad but more focused on survival than morning. A few years later, the cycle began of being depressed and struggling to keep my head above water. I had begun my career as a professional dog training and I’d show up and train and then cry as I drove between sessions. I could see the obvious, that it was probably related to the deaths but what to do now? I apparently couldn’t cry enough to heal. Each year was a bit harder to function until finally I’d had enough of the struggle. I decided the next year I wasn’t going to struggle to keep my head above water, instead I would dive in to my pain and try to find out what it was trying to teach me. I would dive into the Dark, my Dark. It was a scary decision. I didn’t know if I would drown or become lost and never find my way back. I think this is always the fear, no matter the journey with the Dark.

What I found was my Beauty. I was strong and deeply emotional. I gained my strength through emotions and so I found a place of nourishment that I’d avoided for too long. I found my power as the Wounded Healer. I found my Self. It was not easy. I was profoundly sad throughout the journey. I was not able to hide my sadness at that point. People around me wondered why I was so sad. I was usually so happy, seemingly. They didn’t know what to do with a less than happy me. Our culture doesn’t know how to be with pain and not fix it. Yet it is a healing experience to have some tend to one’s pain in that way. This is empathy. My friend, Susan just sent a video that explains it well.


My depression went away after that year of diving in. I missed it. I realized it was the time that I was deeply with myself, even as I had struggled against sitting with myself. I have different rituals now. Without the depression, I have to take responsibility for creating a space to be with myself deeply in whatever is there to explore.

Interestingly, the deaths did not come up when I dove into my Dark. I think what came up was the gifts of the timing of the deaths, and simply realizing there was a gift available in such a tragic event. In fact there were many, if I was only willing to look and explore the Dark. Two significant, change my Life forever gifts were: it was impossible to not passionate question the meaning of Life and why so early in my life I had such pain and that lead to the next gift of not taking one moment of Life for granted. I live with awareness that I will die one day. I have an unusual peace with that because of my early relationship with death. My work has intensified those gifts. Being a dog trainer for so long has meant I’ve gone full circle with many families and their dogs, from puppies to death to puppy again. It’s an odd thing to walk into the home that I’ve had that cycle with. Death and rebirth are poignantly in that one moment where I feel like I should greet and be greeted by the first dog, who is now gone… and there before me is this innocent puppy wiggling and wagging, so alive and joyful in the moment; just a young sprout starting on the journey of being loved, exploring the world and figuring out healthy relationship. Sadness and ecstasy in the same moment. Yin and Yang… the Great Mystery.

It changes you, if you let it. Deep breaths become a way of Life. Seeing various perspectives becomes a life skill. Sometimes you have to hold the Light and the Dark in the same moment, trying to be ok with both equally.

This is one of those times for me. The need to process my grandmother and father’s deaths did not go away. I didn’t escape that. I’m actually doing some of that work now, when I can see how it shaped me and decide if that served me or if I want to make different choices. No doubt there will be more gifts to add to these:

I try to live without regret. I know how to make myself happy. I am willing to be in pain and really feel it. I am willing to be in joy and really feel it. I can see and feel the beauty of every feeling, though I do prefer joy! I am committed to living as me, not whoever society says I should be. I realize I’m so very flawed and still reaching to be my best… and knowing my best will be flawed and that there is perfection in that… and at times being at peace with this imperfect perfect and at times being frustrated with it! These are the gifts of death and depression. I would not be me without making friends with the Dark.

Because I have the experience of the Dark being laden with great gifts, I am concerned with the trends in dog training.

We have thrown dog training out of balance with our hyper-focus on methods we hoped would be positive. With the advent of  “positive dog training” we have created a shadow side that wasn’t there before. Twenty five years ago, when I first started dog training we didn’t have all these dogs with aggression issues. Aggression issues were maybe 10% of dogs. Now we have entire classes devoted to and filled with dogs with these issues. Today if dogs have aggression issues and they don’t respond to positive dog training they are often euthanized, clearly not a positive outcome.

I think there are dogs that need to look at their personal Dark… sniff it; put it in their mouths; give it a good shake before sniffing it again… then running with it into the Light, where they can put it down again and maybe pee on it… before walking away from it, a healed being. When this is the journey they need, we don’t do these dogs any favors by insisting they turn to the Light, insisting they focus on the treat or our faces or the toy or anything but the issue. (And doesn’t this sound familiar? Isn’t this how we create dysfunctional relationships with other humans??? Avoiding talking about the elephant in the room sometimes for years on end.) When the dogs fail to move past the aggressive behaviors that are really just a symptom of a bigger issue; a wounding that needs healing, not training… we blame the dog because in order to see the dog needs something different we’d have to be willing to look into the Dark and come to terms with our fear of the Dark. We have to stop avoiding issues. It’s easier to blame the dog.

I know the Dark doesn’t feel safe… at least not at first. But the Dark is not inherently evil. The Dark can be a bit like the night sky with a meteor shower of gifts you  can’t know exist if you sit inside the house with the Lights on. The Dark can be a soft womb space in which we birth a more whole version of ourselves.

I love the idea trying to be the person my dog thinks I am. I like to believe the person my dog sees is whole, and thus able to celebrate the Light and the Dark with equanimity.

Today, on Winter Solstice, I invite you to celebrate the Dark, that Great Mystery Birthplace within you. The Dark can birth the Light, the reverse is not true. So find a sense of wonder and consider, “What gift have you hidden from yourself?” Dare to take an adventure to find it.

Be your best Self… and be gentle with yourself along the journey.

Happy Winter Solstice!

Trusting the Heart is a path; a way of Life. I think Life is better if you live from trusting the heart. Relationships are deeper and have less conflict.The conflict they do have creates intimacy.

I learned how to trust my heart from the animals. My first start with training my first dog,  Midnight was also my first start at Trusting My Heart. It the beginning of listening in the way that Trusting the Heart requires. It became a way of Living.

It sounds so airy-fairy. And sometimes it is. But it is also a challenge. The challenge to grow.

This challenge is not just for the animal companion involved. It is also for the human.

I am always inspired by the fearlessness of our animal companions. So often in a few weeks they conquer issues that would take a human years and years to scratch the surface of healing. I watch how they do it and I emulate the animals that I help. There is so much we can learn from animals.

Wiley coyote – Coyotes for me are symbolic of Trusting the Heart as a way of Life.
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