ATTITUDE RECONSTRUCTION: A BLUEPRINT FOR BUILDING A BETTER LIFE
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procrastinationTerry said “I procrastinate. There is no doubt about it. I have to prepare to teach a subject I’ve never taught before. All those lesson plans…”

“Why do you think you put it off” I asked.

She said “fear … I’m afraid it won’t be perfect. I know it stems back to not meeting my father’s expectations as a child. He would give me a lecture about how I could improve instead of telling me what a swell job I did.”

“What did you want to hear from him?”

Terry paused then said, “I’m proud of you. Look at what a marvelous thing you’ve accomplished.”

“So you’ll need to start saying it to yourself, I said”: I’m proud of myself. I like all that I’ve accomplished.

We came up with these additional support statements to repeat over and over every day before sitting down at her desk to work on her class plans.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect right now. It’s just a first draft. It’s a work in progress. No need to judge it. It’s part of a process.”

She was smart and realized the need to break the big task into small doable pieces and focus on each one, one at a time. This is “being specific” one of the 4 constructive attitudes associated with peace and sooth, not stimulate fear.

After she repeated these phrases over and over with single focus for several blocks of 90 seconds, she had a realization and said, “I’ve had and have enough stress in my life. I don’t need more.”

She realized she’d enjoying doing the creative project she enjoyed so much… putting together a course on local history to graduate students.

These insights and truths became her anchors and would be ideal repellent whenever she felt the procrastination bug starting to buzz around her head:

I don’t want to feel stressed. I’ve had enough stress in my life.

It doesn’t have to be perfect right now. It’s a work in progress. It’s part of a process.

I’m proud of myself. Look what I’m accomplishing!

When we next emailed she reported that she was way into her course creation. Easy breezy. She knew she was changed forever. She didn’t want to feel stressed when there was a good alternative.

Tip: When the tendency to put something off, rears its ugly head, tenaciously remind yourself that you’ll feel so much better if you attend to it in a timely fashion. Combat your bargaining mind that justifies inaction, with what is true. Repeat that over and over, until you win the battle and take the necessary action. It might be scary to do, but you’re going to feel it regardless of when you do it, so you might as well not compound the issue by getting down on yourself or denying the repercussions that procrastinating brings.

daily-drinkingSarah came in confessing of drinking daily and wanting to look at it. She knew this habit had increased since she retired. I asked her what time of day was the urge the strongest. She said when she was at home without any plans, that 5 – 7pm time frame was the hardest. Sarah would feel sad, and start to put herself down, feeling unlovable and unworthy. Sarah started to drown her sorrows, those thoughts, feelings, and emotions. If she made it past 7 she was fine.

And Sarah, what happened at that time when you were growing up? My mother came home from work. Instead of paying attention to me, being excited about hearing about my day and me, she was preoccupied with her own plight and the big drama with my father. She was so critical and put me down instead of loving me and seeing my wonderfulness. I was so lonely. I felt so sad and often cried.

What did you want her to say and do?
“I wanted her to tell me she loved me and that I was beautiful.”

You’re never going to fill that old hurt and extreme feelings of isolation without having the truth to support you. Together we came up with these truths: “”Stop. Breathe. Cry. I love myself unconditionally.” “You’re so beautiful. I love you.” She was instructed to repeat these phrases over and over, especially from 5 to 7pm, while hugging herself and crying.

She also decided to rejoin a club where she could take an afternoon swim and sit in the Jacuzzi.

Tool: Figure out what was missing at the time you want to indulge your addiction and what emotion you were feeling. Express that emotion, cry (sadness), shiver (fear), or pound (anger), while thinking and saying to yourself what you yearned to hear from others back then and now. To soothe and comfort ourselves and our fears, we must remember the higher reality everyday until we get on a cellular level what we needed to hear back then. In Sarah’s case, and most frequently, it goes back to loving and honoring ourselves.

I recently came across this book that a couple of clients really found life altering. It’s by Jack Canfield and Dave Andrews and called, The 30 Day Sobriety Solution: How to Cut Back or Quit Drinking in the Privacy of your own Home. You might want to check it out!

http://www.amazon.com/30-Day-Sobriety-Solution-Drinking-Privacy/dp/147679295X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1462290311&sr=1-1&keywords=30+day+solution

accepting-illnessRachel was crying frequently for the last months. She was so sad that her younger sister, Irene, the one she’d always looked out for, was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Rachel had already told Irene that she would send her money each month to help ease the financial burden that she and her husband were experiencing. But somehow that didn’t seem like enough and it didn’t ease Rachel’s pain.

They lived two thousand miles away. Rachel had to accept that she couldn’t protect Irene from her cancer and couldn’t visit her but once a month.

More importantly, Rachel had to accept that she was doing everything she could. She needed to face and internalize the reality. She repeated, There’s nothing more I can do. I can’t do anything. This is the way it is. Irene had cancer.

Then she needed to stop projecting into the future about all the what-ifs. So in addition, she repeated over and over, “I’ll handle the future in the future.” Rachel realized that all that she could do was to be there for Irene on the telephone and by Skype, as frequently as Irene so desired. She could listen and offer emotional support over the phone. That was all she could do, and that’s was exactly what she needs.

Rachel realized that she was doing everything she could. And that indeed, she was there for her sis. She felt a palpable relief wash over her.

Tip: Accepting the reality doesn’t leave you feeling passive and defeated. It creates the foundation for you to listen within and decide what is your best course of action, and then do that without the mental static of beating yourself up and feeling sad.

 

corporation-numbersI wish you or someone would provide an approach to dealing with the corporations which run our lives. Corporations who collect our money (telephone companies, dating services, TV providers and many more), seduce us with promises to give a service, and then are totally unreachable to hear our voices about their LACK of service. They bury themselves in cocoons of automated telephone numbers, leaving messages which don’t get answered, writing emails which receive form letters… endless issues which don’t get addressed. It’s often impossible to reach a human being, and when one does, he is a powerless robot of the company.

How can one deal with them, or how to adopt an attitude that doesn’t ruin ones equilibrium? I so dislike how anonymous we have all become: just numbers and more numbers.

According to Attitude Reconstruction, the first step in finding an approach with the corporations that run our lives is to truly accept that here in 2015, that’s the way it is. That “People and things are the way they are, not the way I want them to be.” Accept that the services we receive are impersonal. Repeat these phrases over and over, until you truly get it that, “that’s the way it is.” Also do the same and accept that we have all become anonymous — just numbers and more numbers. “We have all become anonymous — just numbers and more numbers” “Yes. That’s true and I have to accept that fact if I want equilibrium.”

True acceptance takes you from anger to love, from perceiving the corporations as the enemy to figuring out what your heart tells you is the best course of action – for you.

This process is accelerated by expressing your anger constructively and physically because non- acceptance yields feelings of separate, alienation, and isolation. We have to deal with the emotion on an energetic level. That means while you are releasing the pure sensation you feel in your body by pounding, or stomping, or yelling nonsense words, just make sounds or repeat over and over, “that’s the way it is.” (Saying that should increase your anger, because the impersonal-ness feels like a violation or injustice and so naturally evokes the anger pure sensation in your body — hot extremities, wanting to strike out aggressively.) Use as your model, a little kid having a temper-tantrum. If not interrupted a child will dispel the anger energy and then move on getting interested in something else in the present.

Then from a state of equanimity you can look within yourself, your heart, and determine on a case by case basis, if there is something you can do or not. If so, do it. If not, make peace with the reality (repeat until you get it: “Corporations run the way they do, not the way I think they should run”) and you can easily move on back to grooving on what works, paying attention to what is in your power to change.

Tip: From a stance of true acceptance, you can look within and determine what resonates in terms of action. Without acceptance, you can take action but it’s easy to distract from your point by your destructive and blaming delivery style. Repeat the old adage coined by Dr. Albert Ellis “People and things are the way they are, not the way I want them to be.” And you will feel more loving and handle the situation more constructively.

anxiety-stress

You’re rolling along, and then all of a sudden that familiar feeling returns. There is a knot in your gut, your heart rate jumps, you can’t breathe, and your muscles tighten. You feel like you’ll die. Anxiety sets in. It doesn’t matter what triggers you: thoughts about an upcoming surgery, a job interview, pressure at work, or being around someone with a temper. Your survival feels threatened. You’re in a state of fight, flight, or freeze. You feel frantic and numb. All thinking stops and confusion and indecision descend.

Overwhelm is what happens when we have too many responsibilities to do or too many topics to address and not enough time. It’s easy to lump everything together. Typically, we leap from specifics that need attention to global generalities. We launch into exaggerations and drama. Small things become earth-shattering and nearly impossible to do. We feel like we’re in a pressure cooker.

Stress is feeling there’s too much to do and too much pressure. It manifests as a need to control. Stress defines our culture today. We’re trying to juggle too many things–and sacrificing our health and well-being in the process. All of the feelings of overwhelm are interfering with our ability to truly relish the moment and enjoy our lives.

Regardless if we call it anxiety, overwhelm, or stress, the underlying emotion we are feeling is fearThe price we pay is agitation and a loss of perspective. It’s difficult to enjoy the journey or present moment when entertaining thoughts about all there is to do in the future. We lose efficiency. And because our minds and bodies are racing, we can’t hear what other people are saying and lose personal connection.

The Rx is simple. I offer 7 solutions

  1. Let This Fear Energy Out of your Body. Fear is the emotion underneath anxiety, stress, and overwhelm. It is a pure sensation in the body. And so shivering, like a body in shock after an auto accident or a dog at the vet, is the most natural and efficient method to quickly release fear physiology. Keep taking full, deep breaths to regulate your breathing and acknowledge what you’re feeling, “I’m just feeling fear. It’s okay.” Rather than holding it in, let the fear energy out by trembling, shuddering, quivering, and shivering.You must move fear energy out of your body by shivering, shaking, trembling, and quivering with vigor. Think of a dog at the vet or a person addressing an audience of 5000. Though it sounds silly, you’ll restore calm and clarity by shivering and reminding yourself, “It’s okay. I just need to move this energy out of my body.
  1. Change Your Thinking. At the same time, interrupt those thoughts that convince you that this will never end and replace them with something reassuring. Look at things in specifics, attending to one issue at a time.Support yourself by picking one or two phrases that resonate and say them often, especially when you start getting anxious, overwhelmed, and stressed. Rigorously interrupt your fear-based thoughts and tell yourself:
    • Everything is all right.
    • This feeling is temporary. This will pass.
    • Everything will be all right.
    • Think small.
    • Stay specific.
    • One thing at a time.
    • Little steps.
    • Little by little.
  1. One Thing at a Time. From this more present and relaxed space, make a list of issues, topics, and projects needing attention, being concrete and realistic about what each entails. Cut each one into chewable pieces. Order your priorities, develop a detailed plan, and break down the mountain of responsibilities into doable steps. Focus on and do only one thing at a time, shivering when you feel stuck, renegotiating what’s not possible, and delegating as necessary.
  2. Make a detailed task list. Writing down a list of to-dos is a good way to break a big problem or all you have to do down into smaller, easier tasks. Make a list of what needs to be done and attend to one thing at a time. Remind yourself “One thing at a time.”
  3. Don’t go it alone. Delegate. Ask family members, friends, or coworkers to help. Be willing to ask for help so you can attend to what you need to do.
  4. Be gentle with yourself. Interrupt all critical thoughts about what you didn’t do well and what you haven’t attended to. Instead lavish yourself with appreciations and repeatedly remind yourself that you are doing the best you can or you did the best you could at the time.
  5. Get into the now. When you feel stressed or anxious, do something that gives you a short break and brings you into the now. Close your eyes and focus on taking some deep breaths. Shiver! Throw water on your face. Do some jumping jacks. Walk around the block. Or take a 15-minute nap.

If you practice any one of these strategies, you will notice a shift towards ease. Do several, or do them all, and you will find yourself feeling more content, more calm, and better able to get the upper hand over your life.

FamilySome of our biggest emotional challenges come from family dynamics. It’s a rare situation where everyone in the family gets along. If you tend to be the peacekeeper, you’re usually the one carrying around the heavy emotional burden of the discord.

If this role is getting old but you can’t seem to stop yourself from meddling in the middle, read about the session below with my client Tom. You’ll find practical tools on how to let others handle their own drama, without getting caught in the crossfire, no matter their age.

Big-hearted Tom just wanted the three brothers and their families to get together and celebrate Bob, the eldest sibling, big 40th. But there was a problem. David and Bob were barely talking. Bob was upset (and experiencing stomach aches) over David’s wife borrowing money two years ago and never paying it back. Bob wanted Tom to take his side.

Tom had recently visited Bob, who was still going on and on about the unpaid loan. Adding to that, on the phone and in texts, David kept wanting to know what Tom and Bob had discussed when they were together.

The biggest (and most challenging) thing for peacemaker Tom was to not get drawn into the middle. He needed to tell Bob he saw how much pain he was in, but he wasn’t willing to arbitrate in business that was between him and David. He reminded Bob how much he valued their brotherhood, but he didn’t feel right about talking about David and his wife, since he had no idea about their side of the story.

In terms of a gathering, Tom felt it was best to put this off until the spring. He didn’t see himself trying to make the visit happen until David and Bob resolved their conflict.

So, to take care of himself and work to get out of the middle, he practiced saying, “I don’t want to talk about it. Please take this up with David/Bob yourself.” Tom repeated this message over and over like a broken record, until he felt confident that he would not succumb to the pressure to intervene.

When he felt rooted in the freedom of not getting caught up in the middle and letting people communicate directly, Tom called Bob and spoke his truth and delivered the message that he felt it was best to put off their reunion until David and Bob cleared the air.

Tom wanted to tell Bob it would be better if he held positive thoughts about David and his wife for his own sanity and so he wouldn’t continue to have digestive issues. As the counselor, I stepped in and told him that was a dicey proposition. Giving unsolicited advice is never a good idea. If Tom wanted to offer his perspective, he needed to first ask and RECEIVE permission before tendering advice.

Then to shore up his relationship with David, Tom made the same communication, offering him reassurances and reminding him “I like our relationship and want to share that.”

It took a while but David finally reached out to Bob. In talking and listening it became apparent to both of them that there had been a misunderstanding about the loan, money, and a payback schedule. They were both relieved after they spelled out a clear agreement. Both confessed how much they had missed hanging out with each other and their families. They were eager to keep the channels of communication open going forward and make plans to get together for the belated celebration.

TOOL: DON’T TAKE SIDES AND STAY OUT OF THE MIDDLE

Regardless of age, stay out of the middle and encourage family members to talk directly with those that they have the issue with. You need to let their plight go. It’s not yours. You’ll just be fueling side-taking accusations and muddy the waters even more. They need to learn how to speak what’s on their minds in a constructive manner.

Your job is to focus on enjoying each person individually and not get sucked into a discussion where you are expected to take sides. Just offer encouragement for them to “go direct” and praise them for their successes.

Also, giving unsolicited advice is a slippery slope without checking and double- checking to see if the recipient is really open to hearing your opinion. Your job in the midst of family upheaval is to take care of yourself and relish a new authentic role rather than that of the perpetual peacemaker.


Jude Bijou, MA, MFT, is a respected psychotherapist, professional educator, and workshop leader. Her theory of Attitude Reconstruction® evolved over the course of more than 30 years working with clients, students, couples, and families as a licensed marriage and family therapist. It is the subject of her award-winning book, Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life.

sad_happy

Attitude Reconstruction is based on the fact that all of our problems, our bad habits and attitudes, stem back to unexpressed emotions – that is sadness, anger, and fear. To feel more of our other three emotions – joy, love, and peace — we need to acknowledge and express our sadness, anger, and fear naturally, physically, and constructively.

It’s important to realize that our emotions are just pure energy. Look at the word “emotion.” It’s made up of E + motion. Energy in motion. If we move the energy out of our bodies, it passes and calmness and clarity is restored.

Here’s how to deal with the emotion of sadness:

Sadness

Feeling heavy and deflated in our bodies and sinking easily into thinking, “I’m not okay” are hallmarks of unexpressed sadness. Sadness comes when experiencing hurts or losses, or because we are entertaining destructive thoughts about ourselves. Hurts and losses include death of a loved one, disparaging remarks, being fired, losing our home, feeling betrayed, or being misunderstood. When we don’t cry enough, our thoughts about ourselves turn negative and we tell ourselves that we are unworthy, need other people to approve of us, need to be and do better, or are small, hopeless, and helpless.

When young children cry, there are no words. They’re expressing their emotions cleanly. They sob. They bawl. And afterwards? They return to their present, happy, curious, loving selves. We need to follow their lead.

Deal with sadness by crying.

To dissolve sadness, you’ve got to cry cleanly. Through the crocodile tears, you must doggedly interrupt negative thoughts or state something like “It’s okay that I feel sad. It’s okay to cry. I’m fine.” Just sob, wail, and let it out. 

If you are crying about specific hurts or losses let the tears flow. However, if you’re just feeling down, it’s crucial to identify exactly what demeaning messages you’re telling yourself about yourself and find some opposing statements that are true to substitute. Repeat your phrases over and over, such as:

  • I am whole and complete.
  • I am alone, and I am connected.
  • Life is for learning. We all make mistakes.
  • I am responsible for what I think, feel, and do.
  • I can do this.

 

By befriending your sadness and tears to fully process hurts and losses, and reminding yourself what’s really true about you, you’ll come to know your real worth, gain more energy, and take more personal responsibility. You feel more joy. You’ll respect yourself more, and hear your intuition – inner knowing – more clearly. Then you can determine what’s needed to communicate in any situation, and speak up and take action on what’s best for you.

 

fear

Attitude Reconstruction is based on the fact that all of our problems, our bad habits and attitudes, stem back to unexpressed emotions – that is sadness, anger, and fear. To feel more of our other three emotions – joy, love, and peace — we need to acknowledge and express our sadness, anger, and fear naturally, physically, and constructively.

It’s important to realize that our emotions are just pure energy. Look at the word “emotion.” It’s made up of E + motion. Energy in motion. If we move the energy out of our bodies, it passes and calmness and clarity is restored.

Are you afraid of speaking in public, not having enough money to pay the rent, or seemingly almost everything? Do you often feel anxious, worried, or overwhelmed? Does your mind catapult backwards, forward, or out into the wild blue yonder, but never resides in the present? These are symptoms of living with unexpressed fear, and fear severely diminishes your ability to feel peace and enjoy the present moment.

Fear is the natural reaction to threats to our survival, such as natural disasters, accidents, and things we haven’t done before. However, when we don’t handle fear physically, our minds become the enemy, jumping into the future, losing perspective and leaving us confused and scattered.

Conquer Fear by Shivering

Shaking and shivering is the most effective and natural method because fear is just physical energy in the body. Act like a scared dog at the veterinarian when you feel the bodily sensations of fear – heart racing, hands freezing, solar-plexus tightening. It can feel silly at first, but if you allow your body to shiver, quiver, shudder, tremble, or quake – what it wants to naturally do – you’ll restore calm and your attention will come back to the present moment. Ham it up. Persist until you feel tension drain out of your body. It just takes a minute or two.

Don’t give in to agitated thoughts of “always,” “never,” overgeneralizations, and doom and gloom about the future. Use your mind to keep peace nearby and fear at bay and continually repeat:

  • It’s okay. I am just feeling fear. I just need to shiver.
  • This feeling is temporary. This will pass.
  • Everything is all right.
  • I’ll handle the future in the future.
  • I will deal with one thing at a time. 

 

If you express the fear energy and replace your old thoughts with what is true, you’ll feel calmer and be able to determine what’s best to say or do to handle what beforehand seemed scary. Then you can break that goal into little, doable steps, and just do it, one step at a time.

When facing fear head on, you’ll be entertained and inspired by the moment. Paralysis will be replaced with forward movement; confusion with confidence. You’ll live in each moment and stay specific, hold on to what you know is true for you, surrender to what is, enjoy it, and participate in life more fully. You’ll feel more peace.

 

getting_a_grip_on_anger

Attitude Reconstruction is based on the fact that all of our problems, our bad habits and attitudes, stem back to unexpressed emotions – that is sadness, anger, and fear. To feel more of our other three emotions – joy, love, and peace — we need to acknowledge and express our sadness, anger, and fear naturally, physically, and constructively.

It’s important to realize that our emotions are just pure energy. Look at the word “emotion.” It’s made up of E + motion. Energy in motion. If we move the energy out of our bodies, it passes and calmness and clarity is restored.

Anger is the body’s natural reaction to injustices and violations. A violation could be feeling betrayed or slandered. It could be your house being robbed or someone taking credit for your project. An injustice could be witnessing discrimination, hearing about corruption, or being called out at home plate when you were safe. When we experience injustices and violations, we naturally feel angry. Our temperatures rise and we want to strike out and do some damage.

We also perpetuate our own anger by focusing on other people and situations, thinking the world and those in it “should” be different than they are, negatively judging what we don’t accept, and believing everyone should conform to our wishes because we know best. Wanting to strike out, saying or doing mean things, or viewing other people, things, and situations as enemies won’t bring you love. In fact, your anger-based actions can land you in jail or locked up in an emotional prison of feeling separate and isolated.

Dissolve anger by pounding, stomping, or yelling

Deep breathing or thinking your way thru flashes of anger is not realistic. Think about what children do when they feel anger. They have a temper tantrum and then it’s over and they resume their activities. We must deal with that hot, urge to lash out and inflict damage in a constructive way and express it safely, physically and naturally.

  • Express anger energy physically without damaging a person or anything of value. Find a safe place to push against a wall, stomp around the room, or pound the heck out of old phone books. Do it hard, fast, and with abandon. While expressing the anger don’t say negative things and swear. Just make sounds and move the physical energy out of your body.
  • Interrupt destructive thinking about how people and things “should” be different and accept what is. Repeat 100,000 times or until you truly get it, “People and things are the way they are, not the way I want them to be.”

 

When you get rid of anger’s emotional energy, you get back to yourself, your heart. You’ll feel more loving and assert yourself with honesty, kindness, and empathy. Barriers you’ve built with others will come crashing down and your connections will be real and healthy.

Each time you own and deal with your anger physically and constructively and accept what is, you create love. It’s hard at first. We’ve got our pride. Our ego is strong and we feel so justified. But it works. It’s effective. Natural. Fast.

dealing_with_loss

Loss of a loved one can be a triple whammy. There’s the excruciating void from the loss itself, but our ability to feel open, safe, and vulnerable also vanishes. We feel forever shattered, and the world seems cruel. We lose interest in everything or the opposite, carry on as if nothing significant happened.

Here are three suggestions to help someone move through a loss, according to Attitude Reconstruction:

  1. You need to listen and repeatedly, lovingly encourage them to talk about what they miss and what they appreciated most about the person. Even if they say “no thanks” keep softly offering. In order to heal, they need to talk.

    Your job is just to provide a safe place — not give your “wisdom” or personal experiences. As the silent witness, respectfully keep extending your invitation. It often takes repeated respectful invitations. Be sure to genuinely listen and thank them for sharing.

  1. Freedom comes from facing their loss and allowing themselves to feel their emotions – sadness, anger, and fear. At a neutral time, talk with them about this fact: emotions are just pure energy in the body.

    Crying is healing because it’s the body’s natural reaction to hurts and losses. They can cry alone, with you, in therapy, or with a friend. Encourage them to say the “dreaded” G word — good-bye — to fully acknowledge the ending. This can be incredibly hard and usually brings up more sadness, but they must say “I miss you. I love you. Good-bye.”

    If they feel more anxious that awful things will happen in the future, show them how to shake and shiver fear out of their bodies while saying, “Something greater than me is in charge. This is not in my control. Be here now.

    Anger can also be lurking because of how unfair this tragedy seems. Encourage them to find a constructive way to pound, push, shout, or stomp out the anger energy – hard, fast, and with abandon — where no one or nothing of value is destroyed. While moving the anger energy, they need to remind themselves that, “They are gone. That’s the way it is.”

  1. Whenever you feel they are sinking, spacing, and just going through the motions of living, encourage them to talk about the person some more and maybe take a few minutes to cry and say good-bye again.

 

It takes time to heal when we lose something or someone dear. By talking and emoting, they’ll find their energy gradually return. Gently but persistently don’t allow them to tell you that they are okay, when you know in your heart they aren’t.

 

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Mark your calendar!

Two-Day
Attitude Reconstruction workshop:

BUILD JOY, LOVE, AND PEACE
Vancouver, British Columbia
October 22-23, 2016

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Jude Bijou, Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist, educator, author, and speaker.  Meet Jude

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