The Other Side Of Depression

In my last post, I talked a bit about my parents and their recent struggle with one another. That post made me think about a topic that I haven’t covered but semi-relates to the previous post; depression.

However, I’m not going to write an article that articulates the warning signs of depression, or what it’s like being depressed. Many of you have probably read those articles, or, if you have a family member or friend that’s experienced depression, you’ve witnessed everything first hand. What I am going to write about is what it’s like for those on the other side of depression; the family members and friends (such as some of you reading this) who sit in the emotional sidecar and get pulled every which way. I’ve been there, and I’m hoping that if there is anyone out there with depression that this piece can help demonstrate what it’s like for those that love them.

1. My Mother: I never knew that my mother was prescribed anti-depressants until about a year ago. If you’ve ever met my mother, you’d think she was one of the sweetest, nicest people in the world. When I found out about the anti-depressants, my heart sank. Thoughts of, “am I a good enough daughter?” ran through my mind constantly. I worried that if I caused her trouble or made a rude comment that she would have an awful day and rely on her medication even more.

I felt so lost and I didn’t know what to do to make it better. Should I be spending more time with her during the week and on weekends? What if I volunteered to cook a few family meals? Do the laundry? Wash the dishes a few times a week? Would any of these make her feel less burdened, happier, healthier?

When she retired to care for my brother and the house full-time, I knew she was happy at first, but her joy quickly faded. As if she didn’t think her life was exciting or meaningful before she quit, now, her daily routine consists of household chores and running errands. She was and is lost. She wants to go back to work, but she doesn’t think she has any skills. I constantly worry that one day she will just up and leave because she’s sick of doing the same thing day-in and day-out.

I try to get her out of the house and go on adventures as much as possible, but nothing changes. She’s still lost; I’m lost. I don’t know what to do to make it better. I don’t know how to help her, and every time I ask, I get the same response, “nothing.” But, she’s living in a state of ‘nothing,’ and ‘nothing’ can be a dangerous thing.

2. My Boyfriend: Meeting Matt, you would have no idea that he used to severely suffer from depression. He was a freshman in college and I was a senior in high school. We were living in different zip codes (something we’ve gotten used to) for the first time, and he wasn’t making as many friends at school as he would’ve liked. He had also lost contact with a lot of individuals from our high school, and he felt more alone than ever before.

Almost every night of my senior year was spent sitting by my computer with a TV tray off to the side. While I did my homework on the TV tray, I would be talking to Matt via MSN messenger. The conversations went back and forth for hours. But, the conversations were the same every day. Every day he told me that he had an ‘ok’ day and was feeling worthless. He felt that he didn’t have any friends and wasn’t good at what he was doing. He would then advise a plan to get more friends, or to reconnect with the old ones, and it would fail…miserably…for no good reason!

It was hard watching him struggle. I told him over and over again how much I loved him and gave him advice on what to do about his extreme sadness, or reassured him about his plans for the future. We saw each other almost every weekend, and I even tried bringing a few of my friends to visit him..but nothing worked. On multiple occasions, he brought up suicide. Even though he said he wouldn’t do it because he loved me, I stated that I was the only thing keeping him on Earth. How could I give up on him? What could I do? I thought I’d tried everything.

This pattern continued on into my first year of college, but it got better. I was still on messenger with him every night, but it was hard to see each other every weekend. Eventually, we broke up. But, when we did break up, he was at least on his feet. Of course, we’re back together now, and he’s doing much better.

For both of these beautiful people in my life, I had no idea what I could do to make it go away. I tested multiple ideas, did what I thought was right…what THEY wanted me to do…and no matter what, meds or not, I couldn’t get through to them. It’s something that they need to overcome on their own, but they need help just as much as the rest of us do with our daily lives. Talking to specialists or reading articles can work, but only so much. To those that are depressed, we love you, and we’re hurting because we see you hurting. Communicate with us, help us help you.

Granny Smith – over and out

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A Day Without Peanut Butter and Other Nutritional Mishaps

I’ve written a bit about it before, but my nutritional journey has been fairly similar to a lot of other individuals; some days, it looks like I’m on the right path, and others, I feel like a fat child who’s received free range at a local doughnut shop. My health has gone up and down over the years, but like many of you, I’m looking to get it back on track.

As a child, I was raised with two grandmothers who made sweets…ALL.THE.TIME! Sweets are my downfall, but I know that it’s something I need to eliminate. Couple my love off sweets with my moderate exercise routine, and I was….an average sized child. As I got older, I quit a lot of the sports that I joined as a kid. One summer, I decided that TV was going to be my best friend, and I gained about 15-20 pounds…in three months! I stepped into the first day of the following school year unrecognizable. And, ever since that summer, it’s been a struggle for me to lose any weight…and keep it off!

But, I found myself on an exercise kick years later and managed to lose about 30 pounds and shed some inches! I felt good, but not skinny enough. As I strived to keep losing, my body shut down and I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. I was constantly going that I had forgotten to get proper sleep. And finally, it had caught up with me. Once I was diagnosed, it was hard to bounce back. No matter how much sleep I got, I was still tired the next day. I was doing yoga almost every day, but I was losing my results; my muscle was slowly turning back into fat.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I joined a zumba class and started to get my body working again. And, recently, I’ve joined Team BeachBody as a coach and have completed programs like the 21 Day Fix, Rockin’ Body, and Hip Hop Abs in order to get myself back on track. I’ve started drinking a protein shake that helps cut cravings, and I’m reading a great book by Maria Menounos, “The Everygirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness,” which has workout tips, nutritional information, and a plan to help you live a more active life.

While all of this wonderful information is coming in, I keep hitting brick walls and getting flustered. It’s hard for me to resist sweets and my favorite restaurants. I was reminded of how important my health is this week when I came down with a terrible cold. I still haven’t bounced back, but it’s making me refer back to my old ways. I’m not exercising as much as I should be, and I’m eating with more of a carefree attitude. That’s definitely NOT a part of the plan!

So, what can you do if you constantly feel like you’re hitting a brick wall like me? Going back and forth, not being able to truly commit to something is the worst. I’ll share with you a trick from Maria Menounos. At first, enjoy what you want, but start cutting back you’re food intake and moving more. It’s simple! Say you typically have 8 slices of pizza for dinner, try eating only 7 and then have a side salad. Week by week, cut back a bit more and make that salad bigger, and soon you will be eating 1 or 0 slices of pizza and enjoying the salad! Second tip: move more! Instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs. Instead of parking close to the store, park further away in the parking lot. By making small changes today, you can create healthier habits that last a lifetime! Make goals for yourself, start a food journal. See what you’re eating and what you’re doing every day, and think about how you can improve.

For me, I eat peanut butter daily. So, one day, I said to myself, “Let’s see if I can go the whole day without peanut butter.” And, when I accomplished that, I tried two days, three, four, five. Before I knew it, I had gone ten days without peanut butter. Simple, small cut backs and additions can get you back on track.

Have a happy and healthy life! And remember, we’re in this together!

Granny Smith – over and out

I Want to Win!

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Are any of you contest junkies? I’m really not. But, sometimes I see a contest sponsored by a company that I really like, etc. and I feel COMPELLED to enter it, even though I’m 99.999% positive that I have absolutely no chance of winning. 

Recently, I entered a contest to win a trip to Italy with the guys from the hit MTV series, “The Buried Life.” If you’ve never seen the show, it’s completely inspirational and I highly recommend it. But, a brief overview is that there are four guys (Jonnie, Duncan, Ben, and Dave) who created a bucket list of 100 things they want to do before they die. And, every time they check something off of their bucket list, the help a stranger accomplish something that they’ve always wanted to do. The series was popular when I was in college and has since gone off the air, but the guys still continue to make dreams come true and help people.

To enter the contest, you had to write the guys a letter explaining why you should be the individual who goes with them to Italy. I’ve included a copy of my letter below. Let me know what you think!

What’s the craziest contest you’ve ever entered? Did you win?

 

Dear Jonnie, Duncan, Ben, and Dave,

By now, you’ve probably heard hundreds of thousands of reasons as to why specific individuals should go to Italy with you. And, there are hundreds of thousands of individuals who are probably more deserving than I am to join you on your trip.

However, this letter is supposed to serve the purpose of convincing you all as to why I should be the lucky fifth member in your group. So, let’s get back on track. I could select to tell you that “I love you all so much and have seen every episode of The Buried Life,” or that “I’m a Catholic and I need to see the Pope.” While those reasons are both true, I feel the need to tag along for a different reason, a better reason…

My whole life, I’ve been afraid to step outside of my comfort zone, try new things, and basically experience life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve taken the easy way, or the safe way, out. When I wanted to move out to California for college and study theatre, my father suggested I stay at a state school and study communications so that “I’d have an actual chance at getting a job” post graduation. There are even a number of “normal” foods out there that I’ve never tried because I don’t feel like breaking away from the PB&J I eat every day.

After graduating from a local college, I took a job at a corporate office where the work was meaningless, but I got paid a lot! I quickly learned that many Americans take jobs that they’re not truly happy with because of bills, the location, etc. And, I quickly began to reflect on my own life and realized that I had been having the same experiences over and over again because I was comfortable with routine and security.

Needless to say, after seven months on the job, I was let go because my boss didn’t believe that I was “committed” to the position. Now, I’m back at square one, looking for my next opportunity. And this time, I don’t want to hold back.  This time, I’m looking for a crazy adventure. And this time, I want to go after what I want and be a part of something that I really want to do!

Would you like to be the first step in helping me start my crazy life journey?

Granny Smith – over and out

I’m An Author?

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So, while embarking on a journey to figure out who I really am and what I’m really good at, I decided to begin writing a book about my life a few months ago. I know, I know, it seems like that’s what everyone is doing these days because their lives are sooooooooooooooo toooootttallllllllly interesting, right? Yeah, not so much. But, I thought, if Kris Jenner can do it, why can’t I? Thus, I’ve begun my journey. The book, properly titled “Ignorant Bitch,” is about different moments and people that have come through my life that I thought I knew all about..but was definitely proved wrong. And, I think a lot of people can relate to that…because I’m assuming none of us had lives or situations that turned out EXACTLY the way we thought they would. Needless to say, the ultimate goal is for individuals to laugh at my stupidity. Below is an excerpt from the section of the book regarding relationships. I broke it up into guys I have dated in the past or came “close” to dating, our background, and what I learned from being a part of their lives. Enjoy!

Justin

Let me start with my experience in elementary school. From an early age, I thought that all boys were just naturally attracted to girls, and if a female worked hard enough, she could land any man that she wanted. I made this my mission as I went through all of my awkward moments as a pre and regular adolescent. Now, of course, I’ve always been attracted to the most expensive item in the store, so I set the bar high in elementary school and only went after the popular guys. My personal favorite was a kid named Justin. Justin was the class clown of my grade and went after anything that moved (seriously, he had ADHD). I thought that Justin was an easy first attempt at my man-handling goals, so I began plotting my attack. I studied hard! I took every move, cheesy line, and style cue that I could from popular movies, television shows, and even video games. Justin came into my life in the early 90’s, so, I naturally stole a lot of my tricks from “Saved By the Bell.” Now what seemed like a long, hard journey to the perfect plan probably only took me a day, but I was a kid! And when you’re a kid, everything seems to take too long. But finally, I meshed together the perfect plan, and as the night before my attack set in, I prepared my outfit, took a bath, and plotted out each move. I was ready!

  Luckily, Justin and I were in the same core class, so even though we sometimes went to different rooms for our reading, math, or English lessons, we were in the same room for the majority of the day. For this man plan, I decided that I would perform my execution closer to the end of the day so that Justin wouldn’t have a lot of time to become distracted by other things (like I said, he had ADHD).

And finally, the moment came, it was perfect. Justin’s assigned seat was near the front of the room, mine was near the back. As the clock quickly inched forward, I stood up and slowly waltzed my way to the front of the room. Once I neared his desk, I lengthened my pace, thinking that he would look up if he felt that someone was standing close to him… But, as I dillydallied my way across the front of his desk, no such luck. For once in his life, Justin was paying attention to the work he had in front of him instead of focusing on others in the room. Fuck, I thought, now I just look like an idiot wasting time. But, I decided that I wouldn’t just go back to my desk because part one of my plan had failed. I would finish what I had started! So, I inched my way over to the water fountain in our classroom and lightly pressed down on the knob. I slowly drank the water that came out, making sure to keep my lips pursed and some of my hair near my mouth, just like in the movies! And, as I finished my 45 minute drink, I mustered all of the adrenaline that I had in me and flipped my hair from one side to the other. And what do you know, out of the corner of my eye I saw Justin looking at me! Success, I thought. But, I still had to complete the walk back to my desk. So, I lifted my fingers to my lips and wiped away the “extra water” that was left and elongated each step past Justin’s seat and beyond. At this point, I was feeling very talented and proud of myself because I was watching him watch me from the corner of my eye and still acting like a total babe. Damn, I thought, I do have this in me. As I began to slowly drop down into my seat, I noticed that Justin had fully taken his eyes off of me and began staring at two other kids in the class who were probably having an in-depth conversation about boogers. My heart immediately sank. All of the planning, practice, blood, sweat, and tears that went into this; wasted. He wouldn’t even come up and talk to me? He’d already forgotten about me? “Fuck you, Justin” is what I wanted to scream. “You’re supposed to be paying attention to me!” “I just pulled a “Save by the Bell” move on you. What the hell?”

Needless to say, Justin never did get up and talk to me that day…or ever for that matter. So, what did I learn from this experience? Sexy, slow moves that you pick up from TV shows will get a man’s attention. But, if he has ADHD, these moves won’t keep his attention for very long.

Update: I have no idea where Justin is now. Shortly after this incident happened, he moved to a different school district. But, do I think my efforts to get his attention were a complete waste of my time? No. I just look at this instance as a practice session for the next hunk I tried to reel in. If I had to guess, I’d have to say that Justin’s current journey is probably no different than a lot of other former class clowns that I know… a technical college dropout trying to make it as a musician. So Justin, wherever you are, thanks for the practice session! 

Granny Smith – over and out

Mom..Dad..I’m Home!

After college, I did what 45% of college graduates do and moved back home with my parents.  Now, did I really NEED to move back home? No. But I did because they were more than willing to take me in, and, like millions of other college graduates, I have to pay back my student loans.

Moving back home has been an easier transition than I expected. When I was in college and would come home for a weekend or the holidays, my parents always wanted to know where I was, they bombarded me with questions, and felt the need to cling on to me every moment. I felt like I couldn’t get away from them…and of course, when I would leave to go back to school, my dad would shed a few tears.

But, now that I have a full-time job, I only see them for about four hours a day..and I guess that’s enough for the both of us. Moving back, I thought that my parents would purpose chores, curfews, etc., but they’ve actually backed away from those items. I certainly don’t feel like a guest in my own home, but I do feel like they’ve realized that I’m an adult with a grown up job who’s just trying to make it week-by-week.

However, I realize that my situation isn’t exactly the norm, and that many new college graduates, and even grown adults, struggle when they choose move back in with their parents. So, below, I’ve compiled a list that I’ve received from the lovely internet, with a few tips that should help you survive when you move back in with your parents.

1. Set reasonable expectations. True, you may have been able to come and go as you please, leave your room a disaster, and have a new guest over every night before, but this arrangement may not work for your folks. Set some reasonable expectations — for everyone involved — before you even step through the door.

2. Set some ground rules. Alright, you may have to have a curfew so your poor mother doesn’t think something terrible has happened to you if you’re not home by 4:00 in the morning — but your mom also needs to understand that she can’t just barge in to your room without any notice. Set some ground rules as soon as possible to make sure everyone is clear on how things will work.

3. Expect a combination of a roommate relationship and a parent/kid relationship. Yes, you’ve had roommates for the past several years, and you may view your parents similar to them. Your parents, however, will always view you as their child. Do your best to keep this in mind as you figure out how things will work once you move back in. Sure, it seems ridiculous for a roommate to want to know where you’re going every night. But your parents probably have a legitimate right to ask.

4. Set a time frame for how long you’re planning on living there. Do you just need someplace to crash between when you graduate from college and when you start graduate school in the fall? Or do you need somewhere to live until you can save enough money on your own to get your own place? Talk about how long you plan on staying — 3 months, 6 months, 1 year — and then check back in with your parents once that time frame is up.

5. Discuss money, no matter how awkward. No one really likes to talk about money. But addressing the topic with your parents — how much you’ll pay in rent, for food, to get back on their health insurance plan, or if the car you’ve been borrowing needs more gas — will help prevent a ton of problems later.

6. Have your own support networks ready to go. After living on your own, living with your parents can become very isolating. Do your best to have systems in place that provide you with an outlet and support network that is separate from your parents’.

7. Thing creatively about how the relationship is give and take — both ways. Yes, your parents are letting you stay at their place, and yes, you may pay rent to do so. But are there other ways you can help, especially if money is tight for everyone? Can you help around the house — with yard work, fix-it projects, or technical support for the computers they can never get to work right — in ways that will make your living relationship much more symbiotic?

8. Remember that the person who moves back in with your parents is not the same person who left. Your parents may have a very specific — and outdated — idea of “who” is moving back in with them. Take a deep breath and do your best to remind them that, while you left the house as an 18-year-old college freshman, you are now returning as a 22-year-old, college-educated adult.

9. Remember that time at your folks’ is still an opportunity to build your own life — not put it on pause. Just because you are at your parents’, waiting until you can move out on your own, doesn’t mean your life is on pause. Volunteer, date, explore new things, and do your best to continue learning and growing instead of just waiting for your first opportunity to move on to somewhere else.

10. Enjoy yourself! This may seem completely unthinkable if moving back in with your folks was the last thing you wanted to do. However, living at home can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to finally learn your mom’s secret fried chicken recipe and your dad’s amazing way with woodworking tools. Live it up and take in as much as you can.

Granny Smith – over and out

College Lies and Other Truths

As I’ve mentioned numerous times before in other blog posts…I’m new to this whole “being an adult” thing. And as I come across my four month anniversary in the working world…I’ve started to think about what I wish I would’ve know before entering the workforce. Now, there are many things. But, the number one thing that I wish I would’ve know is that there’s a very big difference between a “job” and a “career.” See below…

College lies to you, and internships lie to you. The real world isn’t anything like either one of them. When I was in college, I was told that maybe classes wouldn’t teach me about the real world, but that’s what internships were for. WRONG AGAIN! I had four internships while I was in college, and not one of them adequately prepared me for the shit storm called, “real life.” And let’s face it. When you’re an intern, companies don’t trust you. And that’s fair! You’re not an actual employee; you’re a temp; you’ll be gone within months. So, what do they do? They give all the “shit work” that they don’t have time to do on a regular basis.

When I had my internships, I thought I received extreme value from them. The companies that I worked for really let me “take the wheel” and provided great mentorship. But the fact of the matter is, when you’re an intern, you don’t have that “weight of the world on your shoulders” feeling like you do when you’re out in the workforce. As an intern, you step in for a bit, arrive early, do whatever they ask you to, and after a few months, you leave. So, if a problem comes up that you feel can’t be solved, you take it to your internship supervisor, and they deal with it.

And, of course, that’s not how the real world works. In the real world, the main reason your boss hired you is because they have a problem that they can’t fix, and they want YOU to solve it. So, if you’re constantly going to your boss saying “I don’t know…” they may let you go.

And that’s the unfortunate thing about internships, college students are never truly on the other side of the table. When I was at my internships, I remember thinking, Yeesh! I wouldn’t want my boss’s job. All I would ever do is worry.” I never actually experienced the kind of stress that any of them had to deal with on a regular basis.

I think that another part of the reason I never fully understood what it was like to have a “real job” before I actually got one, was because of the word, “job.”

In a lot of the career courses that you take in college, and even in regular courses, when you talk about the “job” that you’ll have after you graduate, that’s what it’s always referenced as, “a job.”  When I went to school, it was rarely referred to as a “career.” And when you hear the word “job,” what do you think of? For me, I thought: you work from 9-5, go home, eat dinner, exercise, watch some TV, go to sleep, wake up, do it again. And then the weekend would come, and you get to spend it however you wanted. You’re freer than a bird.

WRONG AGAIN! What they don’t tell you in college is that the definition that I just described is the definition of a “job.” And a job is probably a place that you won’t stay at for awhile. An example of a job is working as a cashier at a department store. When you graduate from college and start working at a “bachelor’s degree level”…you don’t have a job, you have a career. In a career, you wake up early, you arrive an hour before you’re supposed to, you work through lunch, you leave an hour after you should have, you take your work home with you, and on weekends, you’re checking your work email and working on work related projects..BIG DIFFERENCE.

When you have a career, you need to be devoted to the company that you’re working for. Kind of like when you’re in a relationship. You can’t just be in a relationship from 9-5, Monday-Friday. You’re in that relationship 24/7, 365. And this is for every higher level position that you have after college, even if you start out as an entry-level individual. You’re going to need to be there for your company like you would for your significant other.

So, after all this negative talk, what’s my advice for someone approaching their college graduation and looking for their first position?

DO NOT settle! Just don’t! Before I graduated, I was applying for anything and everything under the sun. I wanted to start working right after I finished school because I wanted money and at least some form of experience. WRONG! Don’t just take any job off of the street. So you’re unemployed for awhile, or you have to resort to picking up some hours at a department store. Take some time to really look through positions and make sure that you are going after what YOU WANT.

Take me for example. Now, I like my position, and I’m getting used to it more and more every day, but do I wish that I had calmed down after graduation and taken more time to look at other opportunities? I’ll admit it, yes. When I was interviewing for my current position, I had my final interview with my current supervisor and the head of HR. My supervisor made me feel like an idiot during the interview. Now, she was being harsh because she was testing me to make sure that I would be able to stand working in their type of environment, and under pressure; which is understandable. But after the interview was over, I ran to my car and balled like a baby. I felt like I just been slapped across the face and screamed at. And when they called me a week later and offered me the position, I was in shock. But, I accepted it anyway because all I saw were the dollar signs attached to the job description. I didn’t know what the company culture was like, and I didn’t know my benefits. All I knew was who my supervisor was going to be, a rough idea of what my duties were, and how much I was going to be making.

Looking back, I feel like a complete idiot, and since then there have been other opportunities that have popped up that I almost wish I could take advantage of. Although, on the brighter side, I am learning a whole lot, and the people that I work with are too good to be true! 

And, there are going to be ups and downs in every position. But before you accept an offer, ask about the company culture, even ask them to take you on a tour of the facilities and meet people that you’re directly going to be working with. Ask what a typical day looks like for someone in the position that you’re applying for, and ask the company what a successful candidate would look like and bring to the table. ASK TONS OF QUESTIONS and don’t be afraid of asking those questions. Because if it’s a good fit, you’ll wake up every morning satisfied and your “work” won’t feel so labor intensive.

So, to my college grads, happy job hunting!

Granny Smith- over and out

Let’s Defunk Ourselves!

I’ve been in this huge funk recently, and I can’t seem to perk up and realize all of the amazing qualities about myself.

Having only been a member of corporate America for about 4 months, it’s been quite the shift, and both my body and mind haven’t responded as well as I’d hoped.

So, what do you do when life hands you a problem and you don’t know the answer? Consult Google of course!

Below are five things I found that you can do if you’re in a funk:

1) Take Responsibility – Happiness is a choice. If you’re unhappy right now, it’s because of the things you choose to think about. And you have the power to change that instantly.

2) Be Here now – Whenever we’re leaving behind a great chapter of our life, whether it’s our College days, a great relationship, or an amazing trip, we have a tendency to hang on to it. We keep thinking about it, wishing we could go back. This only creates sufferance. The past is gone. Right now is all we’ve got.

3) Surrender to What is – Whenever we’re in a sub-optimal situation, whether it’s being stuck in traffic, or going through a challenging period at work/school, getting upset about it serves no purpose. It’s like trying to argue with reality, with what already is.

4) Stop the Hamster Wheel – Have you ever stopped to think about the sheer number of thoughts that go through your head every day? Thousands and thousands of thoughts. All day, every day. Perhaps it’s because of the fast-paced world we live in, but it seems like we all struggle to slow our mind down. A lot of this thinking is unnecessary… and exhausting!

5) Get out of Your Head and Into the World – In a world where so much happens online, we have to be careful to not neglect the importance of real face-to-face connection.

If you’re going through a tough time, you might feel especially inclined to isolate yourself, but it’s only going to make things worse. Seek the presence of people you love, people who inspire you. And go a step further: Do your best to make them happy! Smile, ask how they’re doing, and help them with their challenges.

To read the full article, click here.

Now come on gals and guys, let’s defunk ourselves!

Granny Smith – over and out