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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bullying Part IV: Bullyproof Your Child for Life

                           Gracie Bullyproof - Prepare Your Child for Life

Thought for the day: My last few posts (Bullying Part I, Bullying Part IIBullying Part III) have presented problems connected to bullying in our schools. In addition to highlighting the problem, I want to offer suggestions of programs that can help fight bullying. In my research, I came across the Gracie Jiu Jitsu & a video about Monique Coleman, actress from High School Musical & founder of Gimme Mo (a nonprofit organization producing online TV to empower teenagers). She went to Torrence CA to learn about the Gracie Jiu Jitsu program. (To see the 14 minute Gimme Mo' episode click here.) The technique teaches children non-violent control holds which they can use as a last resort against a bully. Although other programs may make children more aggressive, the Gracie Bullyproof program promotes non-violence, respect, discipline & compassion. The clip above explains their educational method. They help children do the moves & encouraging them, instead of correcting their mistakes. By building physical self-confidence, they believe it gives children the psychological strength & ability to stand up to bullies verbally, thereby avoiding the need for physical confrontations. They have taught these techniques to both children who have been the targets of bullies & to bullies. Interestingly, it helps both groups. The children who have been bullied learn to speak up & avoid being bullied. The bullies learn to treat others with respect.

I would like to see school systems learning more about programs like this one & offering them in Physical Education classes. If you know of this or similar programs that could help fight bullying, please share your thoughts & experiences. How have they helped your child? Together we can make a difference.



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bullying Part III: Punish or Honor? 18yr Old Student Punished for Defending Bullied Special Needs Girl

Punish or Honor This Student Who Came to defense of Special Needs Student?

 You Be the Judge

Thought for the Day: You be the judge. What grade would you give to this school system's handling of a report of bullying of a special needs student on a school bus? Today I saw yet another Huffington Post news story that raises serious questions about what is happening in our schools. Click on the link above, to view a 3 minute video news story about a student who has been punished for taking a stand against bullying.  Stormy Rich, an 18 year old honors student from Umatilla High School in Florida, reported daily bullying of a special needs student that was occurring on a middle school bus. Stormy was on the bus as a special privilege to miss the first period of her high school classes. The Middle School special needs student, according to Stormy Rich, "couldn't comprehend what was being done to her. "Just because she doesn't understand doesn't mean that should be happening to her," Rich told WOFL-TV." Stormy complained to the bus driver & reported the abuse to the High School authorities, but nothing was done to stop the bullying. Finally, the teen stood up to the bullies & told them to stop.  In response, the school district revoked Rich's bus-riding privileges, saying Rich exhibited bullying behavior. School officials are standing behind their response, telling WOFL-TV that "two wrongs don't make a right." Rich says she's being punished for following school policy, which calls on students to report any bullying they witness.

How can we expect students to come forward & take a stand against bullies when nothing is done to stop the bullying & they then become targets for punishment? Although the school says this is just one side of the story, it seems that if the bus driver or the school system had intervened, Rich would not have needed to take a stand. Post a comment & I will make sure your comments are forwarded to Lake County Schools communications officer Christopher Patton.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bullying Part II: Anti-bullying Assignment Gone Haywire: Should This Student Have Benn Suspended?

 

This Fake Fictional Video by Jessica Barba, age 15, led to suspension from school

Thought for the day: On Monday, I posted a 1 minute video to share with parents, teachers, & students in the 1st in a 4 part series on Bullying. Today I'm sharing a video made along with a fake Facebook Page as a school project by15 year old High School freshman, Jessica Barba. The project got Jessica suspended for 5 days for "disrupting school" in Middle Island, New York. The video portrays the years of physical & cyber abuse leading up to the character's suicide the day before the video was posted. Although Jessica put disclaimers, letting viewers know that Hailey Bennett, the character portrayed in the video & in the facebook profile was fictitious, a concerned parent of another student, did not see the disclaimers, saw the video, called the police who called to warn the school. The school reacted by suspending Jessica. The suspension lead to the Today Show's interviewer to say, "This just does not make sense," while interviewing Jessica & her parents (the school refused to comment due to student confidentiality rules). Did Jessica deserve to be suspended for posting the video & facebook page that simply tried to encourage others to, "Speak Up, Speak Out Bullying is 100% Preventible." You be the judge should she have been suspended or commended for the project?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bullying Part I: Why Do We Allow Kids to Bully Children Who Are Already in Pain?

video
Thought for the day: I made a one minute video for today's blog. It is a poem written by Lynn Frederick. If you are a parent, please share it with your children & speak with them about bullying. If you are a teacher consider sharing it with your classroom & start a discussion about bullying & how it hurts children who may already be suffering. If you ever bullied anyone, think about finding them & apologizing. It took 25 years for Lynn Frederick to share this with her classmates who were brought to tears & apologized (See the story in a Huffington Post article). It should not take 25 years to stop the epidemic of bullying. We must teach our children, parents, teachers & our broader communities to be caring & supportive of one another. To eliminate prejudice & bullying, we are all responsible for making respect & tolerance for differences a priority.

I hope this will help you ask & answer some difficult questions. Start the discussion. Please share this with parents, teachers, students & friends.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts & comments on this post & how it helped you open up this difficult, important discussion.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wheel of Fortune Versus Planning & Working Towards Dreams

Why Do People of All Ages Love Wheel of Fortune?





Who in America Doesn't Recognize

     Pat Sajak & Vanna White?

Thought for the day: Are you wishing you were luckier? Do you blame fate or the economy for keeping you from accomplishing what you want in life? Are you discouraged when dreams don't happen quickly? If you feel that way, you are not alone. Our society may be undermining your journey towards your dreams by the allure of immediate gratification versus planning & working to attain dreams. I'd love to hear how this impacts on you & will be Live on the radio on 5/17/2012 to answer your questions (see details at the end of this post).

I admit it, I am a closet Wheel of Fortune addict. I don't watch much TV, but watching Wheel of Fortune is an almost daily event for me. I record the show & fast-forward through commercials, but love to compete with the contestants. I like to think it is a way to stay young & an insurance policy against alzeheimers, but it is more. The show premiered in 1975 & is the longest-running syndicated game show on American TV.  My grandmother, who watched it daily, introduced me on to it during a visit in the 1970's. I began watching regularly when I moved back to the U.S. in the 80's. From Pat Sajac's natural ability to joke with contestants, to Vanna White's elaborate wardrobe, to the prospect of winning trips & money & to the puzzles, what makes the show so popular with people of all ages?

The psychology of this game show's success appears to be related to our wish for dreams to come true magically. Yesterday's bonus round puzzle was: __ __ __ __ __   __ __ N __ after they gave the contestant the letters R, S, T, N, L  & E. He chose the letters M, C, D, A & the bonus letter G. What he had before his attempt to solve the puzzle was M A G __ C     __ A N D. He guessed Magic & then got stuck guessing, "hand, band, sand..." Just after the buzzer, he figured out the word, "Wand," for the solution of "Magic Wand." (Which I, & probably 99% of the audience, already solved.)

Are You Disappointed When Dreams
      Don't Happen Magically

Oddly enough, the feeling of having a magic wand is what the show seems to give to all viewers. Even though the likelihood of a Wheel Watcher Club fan winning is miniscule, the vicarious prospect of winning keeps fans keep coming back. Like any addiction, gambling, drugs or any habit for that matter, if every now & then you or someone wins, you will return for another chance to win.

Since this is a word game show, much like Jeopardy, there is another element to winning beyond luck. Winners must also be skilled at word games. Without a great vocabulary & problem solving abilities, contestants could not solve the puzzles. So a combination of intelligence, skill & luck is necessary for success in this game.

In the game of life, some people place more emphasis on fate & fortune & see themselves as failures when their dreams don't come true as quickly as they would like. Rarely do not they know how long & hard others may have worked to reach their dreams. When people attain their dreams too quickly, they often do not know what to do next nor do they appreciate their accomplishments. Sadly, stories of people winning the lottery & ending up bankrupt are well documented. How many movie & sports stars have squandered their wealth on drugs & alcohol? The saying, "easy come, easy go," arose in response to these kinds of magic wand accomplishments.

The word success is intentionally avoided in my book. Even though there are many best sellers based on the promise of "quick success," I see "wake up" dreams as a journey which requires planning & hard work, not instant gratification. People have asked whether it works like the theories proposed in the book The Secret using the law of attraction. Those theories are more like the Wheel of Fortune approach than mine. I believe that once you start on your journey, new opportunities may present themselves, but it is not some magical attraction that makes these opportunities arise. It is hard work & intention that brings you into new arenas & introduces you to new people & places.

Are you discouraged when dreams don't happen quickly? Have you had a lucky break & then lost it or not appreciated the accomplishment? Tomorrow, May 17th, 2012, 2 PM EDST, I will be on a live radio show with Coach Marla www.rsdcoachlive.com. If you would like to ask questions about this or other things I have discussed in my blog, you can call 347-324-5661. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this issue & how it affects you.




Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Part V: If My Daughters Ruled the World



Boston  Globe

Thought for today: If you'd like to laugh out loud about modern motherhood, it is worth a 99 cent trial subscription to the Boston Globe to read the article referenced above. (If you are not familiar with the Globe, it is a great paper.) I was in Boston on Friday, to see my granddaughter's dance recital. I saw both my daughters & all my grandchildren. When I told my oldest daughter that I was adding one more post (Part IV) to my Mother's Day series that I thought was a completed trilogy (Part I, Part IIPart III) she said, "You need: If My Daughters Ruled the World." Which led to this 5th & final post for mothers who are in the midst of parenting the next generation. If you have children below the age of 18, I'd love to hear your thoughts & dreams of how things would change if you were in charge of the world.

I asked my daughter what she would like me to say, if I wrote a post from her perspective. She told me that she needed to think about it. My daughters will need to write their own views on this topic, but I'd like to speak about how I see them as they inspire my grandchildren. Both of my daughters are busy women juggling child care with their own aspirations. As they continue their own work & education, they nurture their children's growing interests in dance, football, tennis, music, lacrosse, basketball, fencing, & baseball to name just a few! Add cooking, cleaning, laundry & sleep, & there is little time for their own needs.

I am proud to see that despite all the duties they fulfill for their children, they are making space for their dreams & aspirations. By doing so, they are role models for their children, teaching them that mothers continue to grow & dream throughout their lives. My younger daughter's kids have been "high-fiving" their mother since she began reporting her grades as she completed her BA. They continue to be her biggest supporters as she works on her Masters in Special Education. My older daughter's kids have read their Mother & Great-great Grandmother's Memoir, Stored Treasures which their mother published. They helped her develop the cover of her book to find just the right design.

Every day my daughters & all mothers have the opportunity to change the world by teaching their children that with perseverance & hard work, you can make a difference. As they recycle, study how much electricity & gas they are using, they are showing their children simple things they can do to reduce our carbon footprint. When they donate clothing or canned goods to needier families, they are making a statement on helping others. During meals, they talk about current events. Over breakfast, on Saturday, my 16 year old grandson asked whether research projects can be banned by public intervention. An interesting discussion of the pros & cons of the banning the study of viruses that might help cure diseases resulted.

So, even when you feel overwhelmed by the day-to-day chores, carpools & challenges (& lesser known maladies of Motherhood) of running a busy household, remember, you are in charge of changing the world & the future of the world is in your hands by influencing your children. Use your influence wisely. Happy Mother's Day!

I'd love to hear ways you as busy mothers today are helping change the world.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day Part IV: If My Step-Mother Ruled the World

                                             Step-Mothers in Fairy Tales
Thought for the day: Step parents have gotten a bad rap in fairy tales & Disney movies for generations.  Cinderella was forced to clean the house for the entire blended family & not allowed to go to the ball. Snow White's wicked step-mother poisoned her & forced her to sleep till a prince awakened her with a kiss. It is no wonder that children of divorce have a hard time accepting step-mothers when they enter their fathers' lives. It's time for a new fairy tale, which I may write for children depicting a different kind of step-mother. Perhaps I will write one. Here's my story about a wonderful step-mother. I'd love to hear your stories, too.

I thought that my post yesterday was the last in a 3 part series (Part I, Part II, & Part III) but realized that I have 2 more posts which I need to include in this series. I decided to post this series in the timelines of most of my friends who are mothers. With the new facebook, I know that I often do not even see the posts of many friends & even family. I haven't figured out how to change that, but that is for another post! When I sent it to my step sister, I realized that I needed to write another post. I failed to give my step-mother, Noni Bogdanow, a voice in how she would change the world. Noni, who I called my "other mother" when I was an adult, would certainly want to speak up & be heard on this topic.

Noni entered my life when I was 13 years old. At the time, I kept a polite, but reserved tolerance for this new person in my father's life. I had a mother, was a teenager & believed I did not need any additional parenting figures. If I could turn back time, I would have found a way to be more open to Noni. As an adult, I realized that Noni became a bridge for me & my brothers to our father. Our visits with him became more pleasant & positive thanks to her wisdom, humor & patience. Noni was truly my second mother whom I called on Mother's Day for many years before she passed away.

So if my other mother ruled the world, she might teach children & step-mothers that we have room in our hearts for more than two people who love us & care about our lives. She would teach ways to wait patently for children to mature & realize that we all have room for multiple "dream" parents. She would also find a way to help children dealing with divorce laugh & discover the positive sides to what is never an easy situation.

Happy Mother's Day to the step-mothers in your lives.

Did a step-parent help you growing up or as an adult? I'd love, as always, to hear your stories.

There will be one more post in this series tomorrow, so please come back.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day Part III: If My Mother, Grandmother & I Ruled the World

                 Photos & Lyrics are Great on this Mother's Day Video

Thought for the day: I've always felt that the best gifts are either ones you make (or write) for someone or the gift of spending time with someone. If you are inspired by what I have been writing in this 3 part Mother's Day series please share your stories about your mothers & grandmothers here & with your loved ones. At the end of this short blog, I will post a list of other last minute gift ideas for Mother's Day.

My 4 Generations of Mothers Many Years Ago

In my earlier posts in this series, I told you about how the world would be if my mother (Part I) or grandmother (Part II) ruled the world. Today, I'd like to add my my twist on one of the lessons my mother & grandmother taught me which might help solve problems big & small. My mother & grandmother were not the only ones who believed that, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." As a therapist, I help people express all their thoughts & feelings. You may think I was not listening to or rejected the wisdom of that saying. I actually believe that I've added my own twist to that lesson. I would suggest that, "If you can't say something nice, find a nice way to say it." 

So if my mother, grandmother & I ruled the world through the three lessons I've discussed this week, what would happen? People would encourage their children to change the world by teaching them new ways to resolve conflicts. They would not only encourage them to lower their voices, but also to find creative sensitive ("nice") ways to talk about tough topics. In addition, they would use the new technologies which my mother would have embraced on facebook, twitter, Google+  & YouTube to build a strong world family of man better equipped to resolve all conflicts.

As Mother's Day approaches, I miss my mother & grandmother, but they are with me & continue to inspire me & my children every day. How are you, your mother & grandmother changing the world?  I'd love to hear your stories, too. We all can inspire one another! Let's lead the way!

As promised, here are some last minute ideas for gifts for the mothers in your life:

If you live in or near NYC or will be visiting soon, take your Mom to the Museum of Motherhood where they celebrate Motherhood 365 days a year. Or take them on May 20 (Sun) 11-5PM 9th Annual MAMAPALOOZA Outdoor Extravaganza at Riverside Park So. NYC with Summer On The Hudson, New York (entrance at West 68th St and the Hudson River) FREE.  More
While you are in NYC you can visit the MicroMuseum as well.

You might want to inspire the women who taught you to believe in your ability to accomplish your dreams by giving them books that will inspire them. You can order one of my books that contributes 1/2 of the profits to a cause your mother supports or one that supports mothers like Enchanted Makeovers, which uses handmade projects to makeover shelters for homeless mothers & their children. There are 21 amazing NPOs benefiting from my book. Type in the name of the nonprofit to find the book that supports your cause.

Other inspiring books  & a video to choose from by authors I have met since I published my book include: The Thin Threads Series (available online & in Hallmark Stores) including one on Mothers & Grandmothers, edited by Stacey Battat,  Mother Teresa, CEO, by Ruma Bose & Kathy Eldon's award winning video about her son, Don Eldon Dying to Tell the Story [VHS]. 

If you want to read more about my grandmother's inspiring story, check out her memoir, Stored Treasures.

Have a Happy Mother's Day!





Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother's Day Part II: How the World Would Change If My Grandmother Ruled the World

Thought for the day: Here's another video that any mother would be happy to receive as a gift on Mother's Day. If you went back to just before you had your first child what would you tell yourself?

Yesterday, I gave a glimpse of what the world would be like if my mother ruled the world. Today, I'd like to tell you what the world would be like if my grandmother was in charge. Whenever my brothers & I would start to argue, my grandmother would say, "Shush, lower your voices." Somehow, magically, we would quiet down & she'd help make the argument would disappear. 

Speak Softly Listen More Than You Speak
How she raised 4 grandchildren & never yelled still amazes me. I only remember one time when she got angry with me. I accompanied her to a family gathering in Atlantic City in the winter. I was a petite 6 or 7 year old. From the airplane, I could see there was snow on the ground. Having grown up in Houston, Texas, it was the first time I ever saw real snow. As we left the airport, I was so excited that I tried to walk on a pile of snow by the sidewalk. I ended up waist deep in wet snow! My grandmother did not realize I thought snow was hard & would support me like in the movies! I believe it was the only time I remember her raising her voice. 

My grandmother wouldn't rule the world, the world would follow her like the pied piper. She would teach people how to resolve conflicts by lowering their voices, talking out differences & simply treating people with love & patience.


Tomorrow there will be a third & final Mother's Day segment. In the meantime, I would love to hear your stories about how your mothers & grandmothers would change the world. 

My grandmother and her inspirational life is now available as a book: Stored Treasures, A Memoir.  

Look for Part III of the Mother's Day series, If Mother's Rule the World 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Part I: How the World Would Change If My Mother Ruled the World

 
A Gift for Mother's Day

Thought for the day: Need a Mother's Day gift? This YouTube video created by ajj402 would be great for any mother. Ajj402 asks you to, "Please share this with your mothers, grandmothers, or any woman who has made an impact in your life." I hope that my 3 part blog post will inspire you to share here & with your mothers how the lessons your mother taught you would change the world. 
Part I: If My Mother Ruled the World Today, she would have the largest personal page on facebook. You may think Mark Zuckerberg invented facebook. Actually, my mother developed her own personal facebook not long after the zerox machine was invented in 1959. Her one woman social media platform was distributed manually (or should I say womanly) with zerox copies, polaroid photos, an electric typewriter, carbon paper & the US Post Office. She sent out thousands of copies of photos, articles & letters to relatives & friends. She kept everyone informed about her children, grand children, family & friends. Her pride compelled her to share their accomplishments. We neglected writing since we knew she would pass news on a regular basis. 
Electric Typewriter

My mother would embrace the new technologies & teach the world to encourage one another. She would be liking & supporting causes, sharing photos & encouraging friends, family & people she would meet online. Tune in tomorrow for how the world would be if my grandmother ruled the world today.

 How would the world be if your mother, grandmother or you ruled the world? What lessons would they want the world to know? I'd love to hear your stories.
Polaroid SX-70 Model 2 (1960's)

To be continued;
Part II- Mother's Day Series: If My Grandmother Ruled the World
Part III- Mother's Day Series: If My Grandmother, Mother and I Ruled the World.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Part IV: Help Me Start A Gratitude Project Deep in the Heart of Texas

Eva Cassidy Over the Rainbow Live at Blues Alley, Washington DC in 1996

Thought for the Day: In this fourth post in the Deep in the Heart of Texas series, I am starting with another version of Over the Rainbow by Eva Cassidy & closing it with her version of John Lennon's Imagine. Although the story behind Eva Cassidy's amazing voice & talent is inspirational, I will save that story for another post. Today, I am sharing these wonderful recordings with you & with someone who was an "Over the Rainbow" person for me in hopes that it will give her joy. My wish is that you (I know you are out there since I have had close to 5,500 page views since January) will help me today by sharing your stories of gratitude with that person. She is wheelchair bound & doesn't get out much. Read on & I hope you will take a few minutes & help me by sharing your comments, e-mails or cards, so that they can be forwarded to a special person to help brighten her days.

My visit to Texas, as many of you know from my previous posts, had many highs & some lows. It was an emotional, nostalgic visit. During my visit, I reconnected with what I called "Over the Rainbow" places & people who helped me believe in my ability to accomplish my dreams. Before I went to the Camp Young Judaea TX reunion, I paid a visit to Bellaire High School. The school seems to have tripled in size since I attended. The student body has changed & is now populated with immigrants taking advantage of the opportunities the American Dream has to offer. As I entered the building from a side entrance, I realized that the guidance office was exactly where it was when I worked there in my Junior & Senior year of high school. I decided to start there to donate my book to the school. The office also looked exactly the same, actually it seemed smaller than I remember, but often perception of space changes as we get older & see the world.

A student aide asked if she could help me. I told her I was a graduate & that I wanted to speak with someone about donating my new book to the school. She went into an office. A moment later, the head of the counseling department, Charles Lawler, came out to greet me. I introduced myself, told him about my book & asked for his help in deciding where it would be best placed in the school. He offered to read it & share it with the other counselors. He promised to then, either leave it in the counseling department's library or transfer the book to the main library of the school, whichever place will be most beneficial to students. Since we were in the same office my guidance counselor & mentor, Barbara Edwards,  had occupied, I asked how she was doing. I had not seen her for at least twenty years on an earlier visit to Houston. He was not sure where she was, but gave me the name of a facility where he thought she might be. I did some research & decided to visit Ms. Edwards to give her a copy of my book.

Ms. Edwards had been an amazing counselor & role model for me. There were 1,000 students in my graduating class. How she remembered everyone's name & interests was phenomenal. She always remembered graduates who would come to visit, as well. She cared about every one of them & encouraged them to reach for their dreams. When I graduated, I was surprised when I received a $1,000 scholarship for which she had nominated me. She worked at Bellaire High from 1957 till she retired as the head of the department in 1995.

Over the course of her career, she helped at least 30, 000 teenagers start on their way to their dreams. Two are famous actors, Randy & Dennis Quaid, others are doctors, lawyers, psychologists, businessmen & architects. I don't know how often people come back to thank their teachers & guidance counselors for their help, but that is what I wanted to do one more time. In my mind, Ms. Edwards will always be the youthful vibrant role model of my high school years.

Her life today is far different & it was hard for me. As always, she greeted me by name. She continues to live with simple dignity in a small room taking joy from the company of her cat, television, cards & photos from family on the walls, & visitors. When I asked if the facility arranges to take her outside, she said, "This is where I spend most of my time." I gave her my book, thanked her for all she did for me & left feeling sad that I could do so little for her.

After I left Ms. Edwards, I dropped my book off at Temple Emanu El, the synagogue where I went to religious school as a child. I had made an appointment with the current Rabbi, who happens to be married to the grandson of Rabbi Robert I Kahn, another "over the Rainbow" person for me. He was more than inspirational, in the eyes of a child (& many adults for that matter) he was the personification of "God." I told young Rabbi Kahn about my visit with Ms. Edwards. She assured me that I had done what I could & that she must have been touched by my visit, but I wanted to do more. I had no idea what I could do & did not like how it made me feel powerless.

I woke up the next day with the idea to write a blog post about Ms. Edwards & to ask you to help me brighten her life. I will make sure this post gets to the Bellaire High School Alumni Facebook Page, but I would like your help even if you did not know Ms. Edwards. I spoke with her niece & she will make sure that her aunt, gets all comments or e-mails that you send to me (so that you can add pictures or music videos) (my e-mail is DrBarbaraLavi@ACTNowPsychotherapy.com). If you would like to send a physical card, you can send it to my office at 15 Beaver brook Road Weston CT 06883 & I will make sure Barbara Edwards gets it. If you did not know her tell her how a teacher or guidance counselor helped you believe in yourself & reach for your dreams. How they woke you up & got you back on path if you were headed in the wrong direction. If you did know her, I'm sure she will appreciate hearing from you personally. Rest assured she miraculously still seems to remember everyone! She likes cards, photos & cats, so be creative. I hope she likes the music I selected & the wonderful photos from the music video as well.

In the last post we spoke about paying it forward, in this one I want your help to pay it back & join me in this gratitude project! Thank you all in advance for your help!


                                                   Eva Cassidy Imagine by John Lennon