LIVING WITH DIFFERENCE & BEAUTY THAT’S BENEATH.

  

A laid bare post..

The Mad Blog award ceremony is only days away and I’m absolutely bricking it….but not for the reasons you’d think. 
So here’s why I’m petrified of the awards pretty much just the same as I’m petrified of school runs, playgroups, meeting people, socialising….I’m hoping a little honesty may support me a comfy shoulder. 
Vanity is shite, there’s no getting away from it, it’s a natural blanket that either keeps us warm or gives us a chill….some personal perceived flaws can be hidden, make-up and clothes do a good job..some flaws can be hidden by radiance or smiles, or a confidence that flattens your flaws.

Others cannot be hidden or no matter what you do or what logic tells you, those flaws, which are teeny, even unnoticeable to those around you are the hugest thing in your life. 
There’s an ironicness to the natural play ethos that we live by…we love sticks! We love climbing trees, throwing, rolling, jumping…living dangerously within childhood…we don’t care about ‘you’ll have your eye out!’ or ‘you’ll break your leg!’ echoes… we’ve not got cotton wool here, we’ve got bruises and war wounds and oodles of knee scraping memories to keep smiles forever with us. We get our hands dirty, filthy our fingernails and fill our hearts.
At 3 years old I lost my left eye in a childhood accident involving sticks.

It really puts play to the term that ‘everything changed in the blink of an eye’.

Damaged beyond repair I was left with a hideous looking ‘dead & deformed’ eye. I was provided with a contact lens shell for vanity purposes which I wore through school but due to health problems I had my eye completely removed at the age of 8. This was then replaced with a full bodied non moving artificial eye, which i still wear today. 

I was fortunate in my school years to never be bullied much, there were occasion but all in all other children were often in awe of the girl with the glass eye. Friendly banter, a harmless acceptance. But inside I hurt. 

I’m a girl, vanity runs deep. Mirrors don’t lie and every time I looked in them the truth confronted me, and quite frankly the truth hurt. I could not hide my flaw. I still can’t. 

Isn’t the saying ‘the eyes are the window to the soul’?….

Monsters were always portrayed with a disproportion amount of eyes, or with just one eye, like me. Badies always seemed to have missing eyes or patches. It was constantly accepted and still is now to make yourself look like a fool or a freak by crossing your eyes….even today my newsfeed is full of people thinking it’s the norm to post selfies of eyes out of line/crossed etc…. I don’t do selfies….I wish I could. 
Truth is, it’s easy to acquire a confidence when sat behind a computer screen….people can judge by portrayals you give but they can’t judge on what they see. If first impressions last like they say then the impression I give is not pretty, but there’s nothing I can do to change that so I avoid first impressions where I can. There’s no getting away from looking someone straight in the eyes…that’s what you’re supposed to do, it shows confidence, self worth, spirit etc…..unless you’ve a glass eye and are faced with inquisitiveness, confusions & on occasion looks of horror. In a nutshell that’s the truth. It’s human nature to be inquisitive about difference but unfortunately when that difference is a deformity in the eyes there’s no ability to display discreetness. Apparently the eyes don’t lie and are the first point of contact. 

With no movement in my artificial eye I often look at people and they look over their shoulders to decipher if I’m looking at them or somebody else. It’s a natural thing to do but momentarily reminds me of my difference and breaks my heart.
The eyes don’t lie..

But the eyes do lie. 

Strange really as its so easy to paint an unrealistic picture of yourself from behind a screen, to big yourself up, show the good bits, but equally, sometimes it’s the only way that some people, like me, can be who they are without judgement, be themselves without giving the false first impressions that people naively take when faced with difference, the only way you can get to see the beauty that goes beyond the skin but is often shadowed by the first impressions that are left by either disfigurement or the issues that make us unapproachable, not able to fit in, the things that we deem to be unacceptable flaws within social circles that make us refrain with the sad knowledge that because we’ve got little confidence, we may have anxiety, body issues, self doubt etc, we refrain knowing that we’ll be viewed unsociable, rude, ignorant, arrogant, better than others…..it’s a vicious circle and it hurts.
Most often the people that seem the most comfortable in being solitary are the ones that really would rather not be but can’t bring themselves to step forward. 
We don’t help ourselves sometimes, not because we don’t want to but because are scared to do so.

We all have reasons that make it hard for us to fit in, low self esteem that situations put on us. We all want acceptance. Some of us can be deemed as loud but still amble along the sidelines feeling teeny and unable to jump in.
We’ve all got our own insecurities that can make social situations excruciating…..most of us hide that really well. 

What may be a mountain to me could be a molehill to you…and most often is.
I’d like to be the life and soul of the party, I’d like to fit in, I’d like to rock up and slide into the conversation with ease. I don’t want to stand on the sidelines scared of unacceptance feeling meek when I’m really not. I don’t want to be the weird one. The loner. I don’t want to feel pushed out….But i make myself feel pushed out. 

Socialising is ridiculously tough, and it’s not because you make me feel uncomfortable, it’s because I do that to myself.  

 
The brutal honesty of my post is that I am so so SOOO proud to be going to the MAD Blog awards…proud of myself beyond belief but I’m petrified and sad that I’m anxious, I’m scared & i’m embarrassed for who I am, what I look like in the flesh.. for my flaw…it’s what circumstance has given me and no matter how hard I try I can’t shake off my feelings of difference. 

If there’s a sore thumb in the room then that’s me.

I don’t want to feel like that and that’s what I hate most.

I’m scared of the cameras, photos which capture reality and never lie, photos that I don’t have chance to pose for that capture hideousness…I’m scared to be me with false first impressions.

I hate that it’s such a small thing to everyone else in my world but such a stupidly overwhelming thing to me.

It’s the people who care about me that matter, I know that, but I care about myself and I want confidence, I exude confidence in so many other ways but am void of it within social situations.  
 
I don’t even care if I’m not deemed as beautiful on the outside I just want people to have the ability to immediately see what’s beneath without judging from the outside in.

  
I’m still Mrs FD..my heart is laid bare on FD because it comforts me that it remains a place without vanity, a place without face to face judgements…a place I feel I can be accepted for who I am. Not a rosy portrayal or bullshit made up words to turn myself into something I’m not…it’s a place I’ll happily give warts and all….I may sit behind the screen and make my choices but I don’t choose falsely, I choose to be honest, to grasp onto confidence that the shadows gives me. I don’t bring with me a vain disfigurement that I struggle with in tow….I just bring me…deeper than the skin..a beauty that’s there without a face & I fit in. 
So there you go… the reason I might hide behind my shades at a red carpeted awards ceremony than I’m ridiculously proud of. 😎 It’s not because I’m arrogant self obsessed rude or a vanity driven woman… 
It’s because I’m scared to be me although that’s all I want to be.
Maybe a little vanity driven too. 
Vanity is shit.
Most importantly though, I absolutely know that whoever I am or what i look like, I’m loved and am soaked in the beauty that surrounds me when I shut my front door. It’s those who see me without glasses and look into my eyes directly at who I am that matter most. 
My family make me feel beautiful but no matter how I try I can’t grasp onto that feeling of beauty and take it with me into society… 

 
Maybe one day I’ll shed that.

The aim of this post is a completely selfish one in the hope that laying myself bare will help me step out and not give a shit what others think..truly. To look people straight in the eye….And smile. 

EARTH HOUR IDEAS

🌍 Turn your lights off for an hour tonight at 8.30! Make a den or a shelter or step outside with blankies & watch the stars!….just turn off your lights.
Take part in ‪#‎earthhouruk‬ & show your support & love for our planet…..follow the link to sign up..

http://earthhour.wwf.org.uk/

Here’s some ideas to use during earth hour… 

Buy yourself some glowsticks and have loads of fun…

  

                                        

  

 

The daughter that’s nestled in our hearts.

We’re not shy about awareness here and our hearts are often open to the reality of life, regardless as to what it may bring.
I wanted to write about Holly, the quietest member of our family who was born to give us an appreciation of the rain and an ability to see sunshine through the storms. She sure did rock our world and nestled in our hearts to be remembered forever in every delicate, fragile & beautiful detail.
I’ve thought long and hard about this post, about the realities of what we faced and the incomprehensible most ultimate decision that we’ve ever made, and hopefully will ever have to make as parents.
Our daughter entered the world on the very same day she left it…

Silently.

Holly was our 5th child. Planned for and very much wanted. My pregnancy was no different to any other, I had sickness, I craved, I bloomed….I marvelled every single day at the evident life growing in my belly.
Our 12 week scan came and bought with it relief and an added wonder of the additional life that was going to be joining our family. We told everybody and embraced what was to come and looked forward to our anomaly/gender scan a few weeks before Christmas. Having 2 boys and two girls already we’d decided to find out the sex and really involved the kids every step of the way during the miracle of making a life, we built excitement everyday and hid nothing from them, they saw the ups and equally the downs of pregnancy, everything that Mother Nature provided us with we shared with them.

We all watched as my belly grew, we poked & prodded, talked to and sang. We made plans, bought clothes, teddies…. Like all other pregnancies it was a beautiful, happy & exciting time….as pregnancy should be.

But that changed in the blink of an eye. The world as we’d known it, our naive bubble that we’d lived in was burst and the realisation of the fragility of that bubble that had given us a blissful ignorance was instantaneously shown to us. A harsh reality of life slapped us in the face, instantaneously stopped everything in it’s tracks and threw our world upside down. Our bubble didn’t just burst but seemingly shattered into a thousand harsh pieces which we were left to pick up.

It was the beginning of December and we’d spent a few months willing the time away to get to our 20 week scan, the hospital was busy and our appointment ended up being made for 22 weeks gestation. That extra two weeks meant our chances of determining the gender were much higher and the scan would fall closer to Christmas, so we weighed really heavily on it falling at such a special time, we decorated the house for the festivities, hung fairy lights and tinsel galore, planned, wrapped and generally threw ourselves into the excitement of the beginning of December & the official kick off of those celebrations would come from the peek into the comfy world and snugness of the growing addition to the family.
Our expectations were so very far away from reality.
We knew the routine, we had our tokens for scan pictures, I’d drank, drank a little more and then drank some more again, til bursting point in the hope of a crystal clear view of our baby as awe’d waited in the hospital for our appointment, the kids all waited at home for news…it was excruciatingly exciting.

It was plain sailing to that point and then the storm viciously washed other us.

I think I knew almost immediately something wasn’t right, I’m pretty sure hope just left me there and then. Maybe an instinct that suddenly hit me….who knows.

The sonographer had only briefly started her examination when she’d announced to us that she needed to gain further opinions from a colleague, she was stern, ungiving of opinion & quite sombre in retrospect as she turned the monitor off and left the room.
She was right to be, how the hell do you tell parents at such a beautiful time in their lives that things aren’t right, things are not ideal, Mother Nature had made us one of the heart wrenching statistics you read about in the books.
She confirmed we were having a girl along with the reality that it appeared she had extensive water on her brain and evident problems with her heart amongst other things that would be confirmed later, things were absolutely not what they should be. We took it in but absorbing it was hard, the screen showed a different picture to us, it showed our daughter, it didn’t shown harsh reality or the severity of the situation….it showed her heart beating, her arms and legs kicking, it showed a baby on the screen no different to the way all her siblings had looked in the past. On the outside she looked perfect but on the inside she was poorly.

We were examined by the sonographers colleague and shown to a side room in the hospital to wait. There we were told of the severe prognosis, our daughter was to be born brain damaged and disabled….
It was a very bitter & hard pill to swallow, we couldn’t run and hide, there was no sweeping under the carpet, we couldn’t ignore it and time was not something we had, we were already at 22 weeks of pregnancy and the situation would change at 24 weeks and decisions would be different, at 24 weeks the life of a gestational baby becomes about rights to life and sometimes based on the severity of prognosis that right to life can mean the difference between suffering and not. Putting a time frame on decisions regarding our daughters life were heart wrenching, it seemed so wrong and unfair, almost cruel….but it was a reality we had no option but to face it.

We faced the option of ending our own child’s life.

We were given details of our options and an appointment a few days later to gather a more detailed scan within another hospital but firmly told that regardless of the more detailed scan it was very evident that things were severe. There were no percentages to consider, our percentage of severity was 100%.

We returned home in a blur. Under the cover of darkness with Christmas lights twinkling and the kids eager to open their advent calendars, learn of their new brother or sister and commence Christmas…. It was so very different to what we’d planned.
I can’t explain how my brain hurt, how I craved to switch off, how every kick and movement within me broke my heart that little but more. I couldn’t understand how the world could appear so normal when it had crumbled around me, within me.

We were truthful with the children, we told them the baby was very poorly, we did not hide from them the realities that life brings…it was a very sad time.

The next few days whilst we waited for a second opinion were again lived in that bubble but with naivety shed, I wasn’t heavily pregnant but was showing if I had tight clothes on, my pregnancy could of been mistaken but I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to point out to people I was having a baby, I wanted people to understand how proud I was to be carrying a child. I wanted to regain the excitement and wonder that had been lost.

A few days later we met for another scan in the hope of a miracle, a percentage we could deal with, a different opinion….but it didn’t happen, if anything the prognosis was delivered worse that before.

We were told our daughter would almost certainly die during childbirth or very shortly after, she would have no quality of life and be expected to be in a vegetive state should she survive, she would not talk or walk, she would not be able to see or hear, her movements on the screen were involuntary reflexes, her brain would not function and was severely damaged along with other major problems, at the lowest case scenario it was evident she would have no quality of life and to be born into this world would bring with it pain and suffering and non communication, should she survive which was not to be expected.

Somehow the severity of what we were being told was a blessing, we were not given any ‘maybes’ or ‘it’s workable’ or ‘corrective’ hopes…the doctor was blunt, he gave us detailed findings of what would be based on the scan, he didn’t need to detail what additional problems our daughter could face, the harshness of what was already apparent was sadly ample.

We didn’t want our child to suffer, to bring her into a world with no hope to die would be painful for her, painful for her siblings. Mother Nature had been cruel and we found our option was then to be cruel to be kind.

We choose to terminate, the most out of context word I have ever come across in my whole life. We terminated our child. It seems such a wrong statement, a horrid and harsh descriptive word of a choice we made. We let her go, we stopped her suffering. We gave her love with every morsel of our hearts and broke our own in doing so.

We don’t need judging. We stand by our choice, we don’t take guilt with us. We terminated out of love & an understanding that life isn’t given to be partaken by suffering, solitary pain or with zero quality. Our daughter did not deserve that just because we could not face to let her go. To keep her would of been selfish.

On the 10th December 2006 at 23 weeks pregnant I was booked in to give birth to our child. I was induced with a pill that would bring on labour and it was expected that our daughter would pass away during the birthing process.
Labour has always come easy for me but this was the hardest, saddest day of our lives.
With the support of my fiancé our daughter entered the world that evening, she did not cry. She had already gone. She was perfect, she was tiny and fitted in my hand, she looked perfect and it was so very hard to understand how she could look so perfect but be so poorly inside. Her eyes were still fused and it broke my heart that we’d never see them and the thing that stays with me most is the temperature of her cheeks on my lips as I kissed her and tried to imprint those moments with her on my mind in an attempt to never be forgot.

I have not forgotten.

We spent the next 24 hours with her. We dressed her in dolly clothes which we’d heartbreakingly shopped for in Mothercare after our final scan.
We introduced her to the children still holding on to the belief that showing them the realities of life would help them gain understanding within their own lives as they grow. We gave them choice but were never forceful.
I returned home the next day leaving our baby in the mortuary, we were greeted to the normality of Christmas lights but with the complete randomness of the Salvation Army brass band outside our house playing Christmas Carols….a contrast of both sadness and poignancy.

Picking ourselves up just two weeks before Christmas for the sake of the children was something we had no choice but to do, carrying on like normal when we were miles away from normal and the only thing we wanted to do was curl up was hard, but we had to. School nativities were attended, carol services & Santa visits were all done. We received seasons greetings with condolences.

We had a postmortem a few months later that confirmed again to us that the decisions we had made were right but the reality was still an awful confirmation. There was never any reason for why things went wrong, we were just a statistic. Something as delicate and intricate as growing a life is an unbelievably complex thing & it doesn’t always go to plan. It’s a sad but harsh reality of life that we naively take for granted until we find ourselves in situations that remind us in the most cruelest of ways.

4 months after our daughter entered the world we arranged her funeral, her coffin was no bigger than the bouquet of flowers it nestled beside in the back of the hurst, we had a service, had readings and played songs in the chapel.
Our daughter read words I had wrote…

I feel the wind blow, for you..
I watch the rain drops, for you..
I feel the sun shine on my face, for you..
I taste snowflakes on my lips, for you.

I hear the birds sing, for you..
I see the trees dance, for you..
I scoop up a flower, for you..
I make a daisy chain, for you.

I tread the green grass, for you..
I footprint the sand, for you..
I hear the leaves fall, for you..
I smell the dawn break, for you.

I feel the cold sea, for you..
I watch the stars shine, for you..
I feel the moon touch my dreams, for you..
I whisper a Christmas wish, for you..

I’ll hear brass bands play, for you..
I’ll smell chestnuts roast, for you..
I’ll remember for always, for you..
My heart beats…
for you.

We said goodbye in the week she was due to enter the world.

Holly was never a result of anything we’d done wrong, the way she touched our lives could never of been predetermined, predicted or prevented, she was just a path that Mother Nature had directed us down…she was a sadness that was given to us to install an ethos of grasping life with both hands, valuing everything we have and being thankful for both the sunshine and the rain and each day that we have..
We still live life in that bubble and it does bend and squish a little sometimes but we live with a hope that it will never be shattered in such a way again.

She’s still there. Nestled in our hearts and fleeting through our thoughts always, she is dancing on the breeze and playing within the sunshine, she is the twinkle from a snowflake and the warmth in summer rain.

We miss her every day.

We respect everyones opinions & decisions to things they face during their lives, we do not judge.
Please respect our decisions too and keep judgement to yourselves.

x

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THE FAMILY DAYS ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE

20140823-163449-59689540.jpgWe decided that we wanted to take THE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE to raise awareness of ALS ,MACMILLAN, WATERAID, & THE BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION
Here are our reasonings for these chosen charities…
Awareness needs to be raised for WaterAid because we’ve always actively supported them, it’s a charity which is very important to the plight of clean water, hygienic sanitation and treating water for its values to life in its purest form. We also walk and have the teeniest comprehension of what some lesser fortunate humanity need to do to endure they reach water which all too often is dirty. It’s a delicate line which Wateraid are tirelessly trying to thicken.
Walking with ample filled beautifully cleaned or naturally sourced water bottles from the shop is something we take for granted.
We choose to do our challenge at the waterfalls to prevent wasting water, & our Wateraid bucket was filled with dirty water.
We felt that our challenge stuck with the FAMILY DAYS TRIED & TESTED ethos.

ALS is the main focus of the ‘icebucketchallenge’ & has been a great & fun platform to raise much needed research money and awareness for ALS & Macmillan for cancers which are on such a wide scale and affect so many people on so many levels, as a family we know first hand the importance of endeavouring to find a cure for such an unforgiving disease that continues to take loved ones undiscriminatingly.
(Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord)

We choose to supporting the British Heart Foundation as the ‘ice bucket’ struck a similarity for us with Mila, 5. She’s been dipped in ice buckets and even iced waterfalls on emergencies on numerous occasions to try and shock & correct her heart back to a safe state, it’s a journey which the BHF has supported us with & helped us gain knowledge of and a comfyness of living with a child with a heart condition. Their work through research is especially close to our hearts.

We choose to incorporate our challenge with a walk to the waterfalls carrying our bags of ice with us to give some understanding to the children of what people around the world go through in their need to find water.

The kids did really well in their challenge and most importantly we text our donations when we got home…

Here’s how our ICE BUCKET CHALLENGEwent…

20140823-164929-60569777.jpgeverybody carried a bucket..

20140823-165030-60630786.jpgand the bigger kids carried bags of ice..

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20140823-165240-60760499.jpgthe kids grasped at an understanding of the difficulties of walking a long way with a valuable load..

20140823-165527-60927991.jpgwe waked for around 2 miles to reach a waterfall deep in the Brecon Beacons..

20140823-165655-61015736.jpgwe finally arrived at the waterfall to set up..

20140823-165743-61063932.jpgwe filled our WaterAid bucket with dirty water as we know that some people walk for miles and miles in search of water only to find dirty water they have no alternative but to use..

20140823-165939-61179118.jpgand we filled our buckets with the ice..

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20140823-170048-61248335.jpgand then we were set!!

20140823-170147-61307154.jpgTO VIEW THE VIDEO PLEASE SEE OUR FACEBOOK PAGEhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Family-days-Tried-tested/287237957955725?ref=bookmarksthey did really well

20140823-170434-61474790.jpgDONT FORGET TO DONATE!!

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20140823-170628-61588188.jpgwith a quick emptying of our wellies we started our walk back, soggy, wet and a little cold but really pleased with ourselves..

20140823-170742-61662088.jpgand the wellies didn’t last long though..

20140823-171118-61878971.jpgand as always we couldn’t resist stopping on the walk back for some well earned tree climbing..

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20140823-171242-61962940.jpgwe enjoyed our challenge and had fun doing it…

20140823-171347-62027603.jpgand the kids carried their buckets all the way back to the car 🙂

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Our 3 nominations are chosen with fun in mind and will have a longer timeline of completion due to having to personally request individuals once school resume in two weeks…
We nominate any of our followers whom are willing to donate to either or all of the above charities, the teachers of Undy Primary School, South Wales & our lovely Welsh beauty & the voice of Wales Charlotte Church (whom we are trying to contact)

MOST IMPORTANTLY, DON’T FORGET TO DONATE!!!

For more info on he charities we have tried to raise awareness for please visit their sites.
http://www.wateraid.org/uk
http://www.bhf.org.uk/
http://www.macmillan.org.uk/IceBucketChallenge%E2%80%8E

AUTISM AWARENESS

Autism is something that never really touched my life, I knew nothing of its effects on people lives, I couldn’t comment on the subject and I was always blind to how common it actually is and the enormously wide scale in which it graces people’s lives.
Please don’t take offence of my ignorance, I’m learning.
Facebook and the honesty of friends I have made online first introduced me to autism, ADHD & the spectrum scale.
I was given an insight to the trials and tribulations that families faced on a daily basis, the traumas, the prejudice, the ignorance and the pure misunderstanding and more often the unwillingness for society to not only not want too but also sadly not even try or attempt to accept the difference. I was also given an insight into the love, innocence, pure laughter and happiness that autism can also bring.
I’ve read statuses that have made my heart sink, made my brain baffle and my words fail, I’ve read statuses that have tickled me, swelled my heart and made my belly hurt with laughter.
That’s the beauty of Facebook, it can bring you realism, a true and heartfelt portrayal of life and a realisation of the world we live in and the things that should not be hidden, avoided or given no thought too.

I still have very little understanding of the spectrum scale but i’m learning, I’m willing to educate and if I can raise awareness within the simplest of things then I owe it to the honesty of the friends I have made on Facebook and the eloquence they have shown in opening up their hearts, through ups and downs and accepting me into their lives and showing me raw emotions & their beautiful families laid bare.

Today we headed to the beach for some fun, I took this as an opportunity to make a huge mark in the sand with my children in the hope of leaving just a little mark in their thoughts and a teeny bit of understanding of what we were doing and why. I explained to them that people are like a puzzle, there’s all different pieces, shapes & sizes but we all fit together snugly if we work together. I also explained we are all different, we may not look the same, talk the same, react the same way but we all posses a heart that exudes love and absorbs it too.

I’ve got a lot of education to gain about autism, ADHD, Aspergers etc but I’m willing….
And as I grasp that education myself I will pass it onto my children.

Please don’t take my lack of knowledge as ignorance, shedding that ignorance is as good a place as any to start….

If you have any links, information, words, thoughts or feelings please feel free to pass them on for ourselves and others to see.

You can find out more information here..http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/autism-and-asperger-syndrome-an-introduction/what-is-autism.aspx

Here’s what we did today….

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I would like to thank the Facebook friends whose honesty has helped move people’s attitudes forward, they may not realise it but in that honesty of emotions and glimpses into every lives they are changing people’s attitudes, they are enforcing acceptance and they are raising awareness for the world to move forward the way it should. They know who they are.