Did You Miss Ayize & Aiyana Talking “All Things Relationships” on WPFW 89.3 FM’s Empower Hour? Listen In Now!

By Team BLAM

We enjoyed hanging out with our good friend DeShuna Spencer  on her consciousness raising and life changing  radio show emPower Hour. We talked about what we love to talk about the most—-Healthy Relationships!

We always tell folks that our company’s mission and focus is to increase people’s relationship self-awareness and raise our community’s ability to engage in…..not just any old relationship…..but healthy relationships! So, just what does that mean? What does a healthy relationship look like? What are the signs and symptoms of  an unhealthy (i.e., messed up) relationship?

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…and hear us share our professional and personal expertise on what it takes to have a HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP!!!

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My Husband And I Love Each Other And We Make Sure The Other Knows It

By Aiyana Ma’at I just want to take a moment to give my husband and best friend all of the honor, respect, love and adoration in the world. He takes care of my heart and mind in such an intuitive and intentional way and I know that I am so blessed to have a true friend who loves me unconditionally and goes out of his way to make sure I know. I woke up last night and caught him looking at me with such love in in his gorgeous brown eyes and there really are no words to describe the love he makes me feel inside. Sisters….we must pay attention and articulate privately and publicly when our men elevate our trust, elevate our self-esteem, elevate our ability to be open……elevate our lives. #IfYouDontSomeoneElseWill #LoveHeals #StopPlayingStartPushing

Your Word Is Your Bond Rings True in Relationships Too

by Teresa Marita McGuire

How many times has your lover told you something that he or she failed to deliver? Is there no follow through on even the most simple things like showing up for a date, or taking out the trash as promised? Even when he or she knows how important the promise is to you.

Words without action can kill a relationship. It can cost you to lose respect for the one you love, and eventually cost you your marriage. I encourage us all to commit to our words and deeply listen when we are called on our shortcomings. Your mate will be delighted when you keep your promise and your relationship will grow with honesty and trust.

Your word is your bond. I hear such joy in my friend’s voice when she talks about her new boyfriend who “calls when he says he’s going to call.” And if he’s running late he calls soon after the intended time and apologizes even though she understands and doesn’t think it’s necessary.

On the flip side, I hear disappointment and hurt in a dear friend’s voice because her boyfriend continues to say one thing and sometimes do the opposite, seemingly oblivious to her expressions of how it makes her feel.

Disappointment and hurt can be minimized as couples make the effort to complete what they promise. Better yet, think long and hard before you say you are going to do anything because it is unacceptable to shrug it off when you let someone down. I don’t remember the first time my ex-husband broke a promise to me, but I remember the day he nonchalantly came home hours late to take me out for my birthday. He didn’t understand why I was bothered because he didn’t call to say our plans were changing. All he said when he walked through the door was “I’ll make it up to you.”

That became the famous line I would hear when his word was not his bond. That line was never fulfilled, just as his original words became void. After a while, it becomes clear that a person with empty words lacks the substance to sustain a healthy and loving relationship. When we peel back the layers and think rationally, we realize what may have been obvious all along. So, let’s commit to keeping our word once it is given and to valuing those we love. Don’t stop communicating with honest commitment to the one you love.


Teresa Marita McGuire was born to write. She grew up in Memphis, Tennessee writing birthday cards for family and poetry for her favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals. She embraced writing as a gift when her 5th-grade book about a “fuzzy wuzzy” mouse was displayed in the school library. Teresa fell in love with poetry after the Cardinals responded to her poems by sending glossy team photos.

She received a B. A. in Journalism from the University of Memphis and became an intern at the city’s morning daily. A former media representative at her alma mater, Teresa is the self-published author of My Soul Speaks Poems about Love, a book of inspirational poetry sprinkled with magical, honest and fun love stories that make hearts twirl. She is a professional school counselor who writes from the heart to remind men and women that real love does exist.

Don’t Take Your Marriage For Granted

By Nancy J. Wasson, Ph.D.

It’s not enough to rely on a marriage license to hold your relationship together. Relationships need time, effort, energy, attention, and nourishment in order to thrive. Think about it like this: Your “first child is your relationship” and this relationship “needs as much care and attention as a human infant.”

It’s not enough to say that spouses “shouldn’t” walk away from their marriages or “shouldn’t” divorce. The reality is that many unhappy spouses do walk out the door, and marriages do wither away and die a slow death.

Read through the following list and see if any of the behaviors mentioned apply to you and your marriage. Each behavior represents a “land mine” of trouble in a marriage:

1. “If your partner isn’t complaining, everything is probably okay.”

It’s important to keep communication channels open and to take the time to routinely listen to your spouse and talk deeply about any issues or concerns. Don’t take for granted that all is well if your communication has dried up.

2. “If you let your appearance go, it’s no big deal.”

No one likes to feel that their mate doesn’t think they are worth the time and effort to look their best. Being taken for granted in this way won’t keep your romantic and sex life sizzling.

3. “It doesn’t matter that you’ve stopped doing the little romantic things to show that you really care.”

When a partner stops making romantic and thoughtful gestures, the mate often concludes that the partner’s love is lessening. The mate then feels taken for granted, and romantic feelings may dull.

4. “Now that you’re married, you don’t have to express appreciation or say ‘thank you’ as often.”

When a partner doesn’t show appreciation or say “thank you,” the mate can feel unimportant and taken for granted. The mate may start thinking, “She’s only married to me for my paycheck” or “He doesn’t value my contributions to the marriage.”

5. “If you’re too busy (work, hobbies, friends, etc.) to spend quality time together and share some fun activities, it’s okay because you’ll make it up to your spouse later on.”

People can’t be “put on hold” for week, months, and years. Neither can relationships. If you take your spouse for granted in this way, you run the risk of losing your emotional connection and discovering that when you’re finally ready to devote time to the relationship, your partner doesn’t want to be with you.

The commitment you and your spouse made to each other at your wedding is unlikely to be enough to sustain your marriage at a high level of quality over a period of years. If you want more in your marriage month to month, you have to give more – consistently and continuously.

Remember, your relationship is like a garden. You have to care for it consciously and consistently if you want it to produce fruit. And we all want the fruit of love in our marriage, don’t we?

Respect Where You Are In Your Relationship Process

We can’t stress it enough….relationship healing is a process.  If you fail to respect the process you’ll find yourself right back where you started…STUCK STANDING IN A HEAP OF SH!%  There are too many people who turn to therapist, life coaches, mentors, pastors, and spiritual healers for a quick fix BUT unfortunately totally miss the struggle they must go through to get to an abiding solution.  My late aunt once told me, “struggle is ordained”.  In essence, respect the process….it’s where true healing occurs.

How To Minimize Arguments And Increase Closeness In Your Relationship

By Guy Winch

Every couple argues but what distinguishes happy and unhappy couples is how they argue. There is one relationship skill that when used correctly, has a practically magical ability to calm things down, reduce tension and anger, and even increase closeness—emotional validation.

Validating someone’s emotions involves taking their perspective and conveying you ‘get’ why they’re upset from their point of view—something that at first glance might seem risky and even foolish. Indeed, when someone is angry or upset with you, telling them they have every right to feel the way they do might seem like the last thing you should do. First, because you might still think you’re right and you don’t want to convey you’re not. And second, because you probably fear that telling an angry or upset person they are entitled to feel as they do will only make them angrier or more upset.

However, both those concerns are unfounded. Conveying you understand why someone is upset does not mean you’re admitting you’re wrong, as you can and should also express your own perspective on things. And most importantly, when you convey you understand how your partner feels and do so with sympathy and understanding, something magical happen—rather than make them angrier and fuel their fire, your message of emotional validation will actually douse their flame and make them calmer.

Why does this paradoxical result happen?

Getting our feelings validated is something we all seek and crave, often far more than we realize. When we are upset, angry, frustrated, disappointed or hurt, the thing we want most is for the other person to ‘get it’, to understand how and why we feel the way we do—to validate our feelings and to convey their understanding with a generous dollop of sympathy.

Think back to a time you were angry or upset and someone totally got it and was able to validate exactly how you felt—you probably experienced tremendous relief and an authentic visceral ‘release’, and by doing so you were probably able to let go some of the feelings you had built up.

That is how your partner will feel if you are able to convey emotional validation to them, and yes, even in the midst of an argument. Providing emotional validation will not only calm things down but it will allow warmer feelings to return and a more reasonable discussion to ensue. Indeed, when both members of a couple practice emotional validation, they tend to have longer lasting and more satisfying relationships than couples who do not practice this skill.

Emotional validation does not come easily to most people and as such, it does need to be practiced. But it is has such a powerful and positive impact on relationships, it is one investment that is very much worthwhile.

Guy Winch is a psychologist, speaker and author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries (Hudson Street Press, 2013). Follow him on Twitter and check out hisblog!

I Will Not Have Children With A Woman Who Smokes

Hello family, I am a 25 year old man and I have been dating my lady who is 28 for 3 years. We have been through a lot in these three years. Long distance relationship and relocation together to another state a long way from home to name a few. I love this woman – and her 4 year old daughter – with everything that I have. She is a good mother, a hard worker, fine, and cares for others. My concern is her health. Throughout our entire relationship she has had some (womanly) health issues that doctors cant help with. She is also a cigarette smoker. Before I met her, a woman who smoked was unattractive to me but she was the exception. I recognize her will to quit and have witnessed all of the different attempts at doing so. I give her encouragement, as well as tell her my concerns about her health and the health of MY future children should we have some. I am increasingly growing impatient with the smoking and feel resent toward her because sometimes I feel as though she’s negatively impacting the health of my children and they’re not even here yet. I expressed to her that when she takes a moment to go outside for a smoke, that is a short time of “happiness flat line” for me, and it lingers until I don’t think about it or can’t smell it. This, coupled with the other health issues doesn’t get me excited about getting married and starting a family of my own with her, and I don’t want our future children to be exposed to that unhealthy lifestyle. I am strong and confident in how I want to lead my family as the man, and this is one thing that is not and was not in the picture.

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4 Sacrifices Newlyweds Must Be Able To Make

By Philip Wakefield A man is most vulnerable during the first few years of his life because he’s entirely dependent on his parents. Innocent and helpless, without prior knowledge and experience to make him stand on his own feet – literally and figuratively – he has no recourse but to lean on his parents. In some ways, a marriage can be exactly like that. In its early stages, a marriage has no years of togetherness to rely on in times of trouble. In its early stages, a marriage likewise has no recourse but to depend on the couple’s relationship in order to survive. For a couple to manage the early stages of their marriage with their love and trust for each other still intact, they must be willing to make the following sacrifices. Priorities – A person’s priorities will always have to be adjusted, even in the smallest of ways, when he becomes part of a marriage. For a marriage to last, both persons involved must make a real effort to show each other and the rest of the world if possible that their marriage is important to them, important enough to become one of the top priorities in their lives. Time – And because the success of your marriage is now a priority, it’s naturally expected that you spend enough time solidifying the foundations of your marriage. This means spending enough time with each other, doing things together and being there for each other. If it’s your wife’s birthday, surely it ranks higher than attending the monthly meeting of your Hotwheels Die Cast Car Association, right? Likewise, if your husband is inviting you to spend one whole day with him fishing, surely the exclusive company of your husband for 24 hours is enough to give up a day spent shopping. Money – Although this is a sacrifice that doesn’t affect all marriages, if and when it does become a factor in your marriage, remember that you married each other for better or for worse and for richer or for poorer. Pride – A marriage can only work if both man and woman works together and not against each other. That also means not letting pride rule your actions. Pride can be a very good instigator of fights and blowing things out of proportion. Don’t let this happen especially in the early stages of marriages because you might not be able to undo the damage later on. And lastly, remember to pray. Even if you’re agnostic, surely praying wouldn’t hurt?

The Science Of Compassion

By Emma M. Seppala, Ph.D.

Decades of clinical research has focused and shed light on the psychology of human suffering. That suffering, as unpleasant as it is, often also has a bright side to which research has paid less attention: compassion. Human suffering is often accompanied by beautiful acts of compassion by others wishing to help relieve it. What led 26.5 percent of Americans to volunteer in 2012 (according to statistics from the US Department of Labor)? What propels someone to serve food at a homeless shelter, pull over on the highway in the rain to help someone with a broken down vehicle, or feed a stray cat?

What is Compassion?

What is compassion and how is it different from empathy or altruism? The definition of compassion is often confused with that of empathy. Empathy, as defined by researchers, is the visceral or emotional experience of another person’s feelings. It is, in a sense, an automatic mirroring of another’s emotion, like tearing up at a friend’s sadness. Altruism is an action that benefits someone else. It may or may not be accompanied by empathy or compassion, for example in the case of making a donation for tax purposes. Although these terms are related to compassion, they are not identical. Compassion often does, of course, involve an empathic response and an altruistic behavior. However, compassion is defined as the emotional response when perceiving suffering and involves an authentic desire to help.

Is Compassion Natural or Learned?

Though economists have long argued the contrary, a growing body of evidence suggests that, at our core, both animals and human beings have what Dacher Keltner at the University of California, Berkeley, coins a “compassionate instinct.” In other words, compassion is a natural and automatic response that has ensured our survival. Research by Jean Decety, at the University of Chicago, showed that even rats are driven to empathize with another suffering rat and to go out of their way to help it out of its quandary. Studies with chimpanzees and human infants too young to have learned the rules of politeness, also back up these claims. Michael Tomasello and other scientists at the Max Planck Institute, in Germany, have found that infants and chimpanzees spontaneously engage in helpful behavior and will even overcome obstacles to do so. They apparently do so from intrinsic motivation without expectation of reward. A recent study they ran indicated that infants’ pupil diameters (a measure of attention) decrease both when they help and when they see someone else helping, suggesting that they are not simply helping because helping feels rewarding. It appears to be the alleviation of suffering that brings reward — whether or not they engage in the helping behavior themselves. Recent research by David Rand at Harvard University shows that adults’ and children’s first impulse is to help others. In fact, when we are taxed, our first impulse is to help others, suggests research by Francesca Righetti of VU University Amsterdam. Research by Dale Miller at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business suggests that this is also the case of adults, however, worrying that others will think they are acting out of self-interest can stop them from this impulse to help.

It is not surprising that compassion is a natural tendency since it is essential for human survival. As has been brought to light by Keltner, the term “survival of the fittest,” often attributed to Charles Darwin, was actually coined by Herbert Spencer and Social Darwinists who wished to justify class and race superiority. A lesser known fact is that Darwin’s work is best described with the phrase “survival of the kindest.” Indeed in The Descent of Man and Selection In Relation to Sex, Darwin argued for “the greater strength of the social or maternal instincts than that of any other instinct or motive.” In another passage, he comments that “communities, which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members, would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.” Compassion may indeed be a naturally evolved and adaptive trait. Without it, the survival and flourishing of our species would have been unlikely.

One more sign that suggests that compassion is an adaptively evolved trait is that it makes us more attractive to potential mates. A study examining the trait most highly valued in potential romantic partners suggests that both men and women agree that “kindness” is one of the most highly desirable traits.

Compassion’s Surprising Benefits for Physical and Psychological Health

Compassion may have ensured our survival because of its tremendous benefits for both physical and mental health and overall well-being. Research by APS William James Fellow Ed Diener, a leading researcher in positive psychology, and APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Martin Seligman, a pioneer of the psychology of happiness and human flourishing, suggests that connecting with others in a meaningful way helps us enjoy better mental and physical health and speeds up recovery from disease; furthermore, research by Stephanie Brown, at Stony Brook University, and Sara Konrath, at the University of Michigan, has shown that it may even lengthen our life spans.

The reason a compassionate lifestyle leads to greater psychological well-being may be explained by the fact that the act of giving appears to be as pleasurable, if not more so, as the act of receiving. A brain-imaging study headed by neuroscientist Jordan Grafman from the National Institutes of Health showed that the “pleasure centers” in the brain, i.e., the parts of the brain that are active when we experience pleasure (like dessert, money, and sex), are equally active when we observe someone giving money to charity as when we receive money ourselves! Giving to others even increases well-being above and beyond what we experience when we spend money on ourselves. In a revealing experiment by Elizabeth Dunn, at the University of British Columbia, participants received a sum of money and half of the participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves; the other half was told to spend the money on others. At the end of the study, which was published in the academic journal Science, participants who had spent money on others felt significantly happier than those who had spent money on themselves.

This is true even for infants. A study by Lara Aknin and colleagues at the University of British Columbia shows that even in children as young as two, giving treats to others increases the givers’ happiness more than receiving treats themselves. Even more surprisingly, the fact that giving makes us happier than receiving is true across the world, regardless of whether countries are rich or poor. A new study by Aknin, now at Simon Fraser University, shows that the amount of money spent on others (rather than for personal benefit) and personal well-being were highly correlated, regardless of income, social support, perceived freedom, and perceived national corruption.

Why is Compassion Good For Us?

Why does compassion lead to health benefits in particular? A clue to this question rests in a fascinating new study by Steve Cole at the University of California, Los Angeles, and APS Fellow Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The results were reported at Stanford Medical School’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education’s (CCARE) inaugural Science of Compassion conference in 2012. Their study evaluated the levels of cellular inflammation in people who describe themselves as “very happy.” Inflammation is at the root of cancer and other diseases and is generally high in people who live under a lot of stress. We might expect that inflammation would be lower for people with higher levels of happiness. Cole and Fredrickson found that this was only the case for certain “very happy” people. They found that people who were happy because they lived the “good life” (sometimes also know as “hedonic happiness”) had high inflammation levels but that, on the other hand, people who were happy because they lived a life of purpose or meaning (sometimes also known as “eudaimonic happiness”) had low inflammation levels. A life of meaning and purpose is one focused less on satisfying oneself and more on others. It is a life rich in compassion, altruism, and greater meaning.

Another way in which a compassionate lifestyle may improve longevity is that it may serve as a buffer against stress. A new study conducted on a large population (more than 800 people) and spearheaded by the University at Buffalo’s Michael Poulin found that stress did not predict mortality in those who helped others, but that it did in those who did not. One of the reasons that compassion may protect against stress is the very fact that it is so pleasurable. Motivation, however, seems to play an important role in predicting whether a compassionate lifestyle exerts a beneficial impact on health. Sara Konrath, at the University of Michigan, discovered that people who engaged in volunteerism lived longer than their non-volunteering peers — but only if their reasons for volunteering were altruistic rather than self-serving.

Another reason compassion may boost our well-being is that it can help broaden our perspective beyond ourselves. Research shows that depression and anxiety are linked to a state of self-focus, a preoccupation with “me, myself, and I.” When you do something for someone else, however, that state of self-focus shifts to a state of other-focus. If you recall a time you were feeling blue and suddenly a close friend or relative calls you for urgent help with a problem, you may remember that as your attention shifts to helping them, your mood lifts. Rather than feeling blue, you may have felt energized to help; before you knew it, you may even have felt better and gained some perspective on your own situation as well.

Finally, one additional way in which compassion may boost our well-being is by increasing a sense of connection to others. One telling study showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. On the flip side, strong social connection leads to a 50 percent increased chance of longevity. Social connection strengthens our immune system (research by Cole shows that genes impacted by social connection also code for immune function and inflammation), helps us recover from disease faster, and may even lengthen our life. People who feel more connected to others have lower rates of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show that they also have higher self-esteem, are more empathic to others, more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. Social connectedness therefore generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional, and physical well-being. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true for those who lack social connectedness. Low social connection has been generally associated with declines in physical and psychological health, as well as a higher propensity for antisocial behavior that leads to further isolation. Adopting a compassionate lifestyle or cultivating compassion may help boost social connection and improve physical and psychological health.

Why Compassion Really Does Have the Ability to Change the World

Why are the lives of people like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Desmond Tutu so inspiring? Research by APS Fellow Jonathan Haidt at the University of Virginia suggests that seeing someone helping another person creates a state of “elevation.” Have you ever been moved to tears by seeing someone’s loving and compassionate behavior? Haidt’s data suggest that elevation then inspires us to help others — and it may just be the force behind a chain reaction of giving. Haidt has shown that corporate leaders who engage in self-sacrificing behavior and elicit “elevation” in their employees, also yield greater influence among their employees — who become more committed and in turn may act with more compassion in the workplace. Indeed, compassion is contagious. Social scientists James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard demonstrated that helping is contagious: acts of generosity and kindness beget more generosity in a chain reaction of goodness. You may have seen one of the news reports about chain reactions that occur when someone pays for the coffee of the drivers behind them at a drive-through restaurant or at a highway tollbooth. People keep the generous behavior going for hours. Our acts of compassion uplift others and make them happy. We may not know it, but by uplifting others we are also helping ourselves; research by Fowler and Christakis has shown that happiness spreads and that if the people around us are happy, we, in turn become happier.

Cultivating Compassion

Although compassion appears to be a naturally evolved instinct, it sometimes helps to receive some training. A number of studies have now shown that a variety of compassion and “loving-kindness” meditation practices, mostly derived out of traditional Buddhist practices, may help cultivate compassion. Cultivating compassion does not require years of study and can be elicited quite rapidly. In a study Cendri Hutcherson, at the California Institute of Technology, and I conducted in 2008 with APS Fellow James Gross at Stanford, we found that a seven-minute intervention was enough to increase feelings of closeness and connection to the target of meditation on both explicit measures, but also on implicit measures that participants could not voluntarily control; this suggests that their sense of connection had changed on a deep-seated level. Fredrickson tested a nine-week loving-kindness meditation intervention and found that the participants who went through the intervention experienced increased daily positive emotions, reduced depressive symptoms, and increased life satisfaction.

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Taking An Honest Look At Your Relationship Patterns

By Team BLAM

We tend to pick a partner who is most like the parent from whom we wanted additional love, attention, acceptance, and praise as a child. The reason? We still want to receive what we desired or deserved to have as a child. When we pick a partner similar to one or both of our parents, we’re striving to heal childhood wounds. Even if our partner is not like a parent, we’ll often re-create the scene so our partner acts or we imagine them to act like our parent, so hopefully we can now have what we needed as a child. As we begin to recognize that this “same old dance” doesn’t work for us, or our partner, we can then take responsibility for ourselves. We can either choose to ask our partner for what we need or hope for, or we can choose to find the wisdom and courage to find healthy ways to give it to ourselves.

When we do this we can stop expecting our partner to be our “parent” and we can stop being the “child” in the relationship. This is so imperative to helping us meet our partner on equal territory and discover healthy ways to meet each other’s needs.

When we know the type of partner we tend to attract, we can take better responsibility for choosing wisely. When you really take the time to look at your past relationships you may be surprised how many similar characteristics and negative traits are in the partners you’ve had.

If you really want to understand your relationship patterns you have to be prepared to do THE WORK. 🙂 “What work?” you ask. You have to be intentional about looking at and thinking about who you are and how you’ve been shaped by all of your life experiences. Here are some first steps to truly looking at and understanding your relationship patterns.

#1 Examine Your Parent’s Marriage History

Write down a clear account of what did and did not work in your parent’s marriage. This is not about judgement. Be an observer, as if you were watching a movie of your parents’ marriage, divorce, or relationships.

#2 Examine Your Relationship History.

Here’s where you write down an account of what did and did not work in each of your primary relationships.

  • Start with the relationship you had with each of your parents.
  • Then write about the first person you were in an intimate relationship with.
  • Lastly, write about each significant relationship that followed. This does not have to be every person you dated. Pick the relationships that meant something. Focus on the ones you had a real connection with.

#3 Compare Relationships.

Compare your parent’s relationship with your major intimate relationships. Do you see certain trends, themes, or patterns? What patterns do you find yourself repeating? This is not to blame anyone from your past. It is to give you insight on how you have learned to do relationships so that you can choose to do them differently.

The lesson here? What did not work does not need to be repeated. Look back so you can free yourself and move forward!

Adapted from Journey To Love by M.P.Wylie, Ph.D.

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