Dr. Liara Covert

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« Interview with Max Igan | Main | 7 Keys to Optimal Living »
Thursday
Apr122018

Interview with Dr. Eben Alexander

I am delighted to share this dialogue with Dr. Eben Alexander. Ever since I read his initial book, Proof of Heaven, I felt deeply touched by what he so eloquently presents as a view of reality beyond what many consciously see as their own.

Having myself had more than one Near-Death Experience (NDE) in this lifetime, conversing with Dr. Alexander enables me to gain new insight into NDEs, the brain, Science, and Spirituality.  Exploring these topics here helps me to better understand, accept and integrate more of myself, and even begin to touch on what human existence is really about.  

Thank you Dr. Alexander. I feel privileged that you create time in your busy life for this interview, not only for me, but for the world that now has access to it.

As an experienced neurosurgeon and traditionally-trained scientist, you have earned the respect of the medical establishment and patients through years of medical practice. Your books Proof of Heaven, Map of Heaven, and most recently, Living in a Mindful Universe, are all inviting readers to question their sense of reality, especially popular Western views of life and death. How has writing your books affected your sense of heaven, purpose of fulfillment in this lifetime?

Following my NDE, and hearing about those of others, my view of what is real has changed profoundly. The lessons that continue to unfold provide the content of my books. My experience and its interpretation have offered insights into a far more robust worldview, in which consciousness is fundamental in the universe and generates all of emerging physical reality, and in which human beings have far more potential than conventional science acknowledges in manifesting their free will over unfolding reality. I have come to believe that part of my mission is to share this information with others. We are all eternal souls, loved deeply by God/Source, and this physical life is but one small aspect of consciousness and one of many opportunities for our souls to grow. This knowledge alone has given many people hope and solace in the midst of grief when losing loved ones from this lifetime. And for others, it has opened up new ways of thinking about the world they live in and their broader soul’s purpose.

Like the film Avatar by James Cameron invited an audience of over 1 billion to rethink how they see themselves and the world,  Ready Player One , a new Steven Spielberg film, is to invite a wide audience to realize each human has complete control of the virtual universe it creates. The protagonists in the four new Avatar films in production, also enter new worlds to escape, only to discover something much bigger than themselves. As you share in your books, the protagonists in these films awaken, see with new eyes. Their focus, or reason for living, changes.

After emerging back in this world from your coma, you cite feeling ‘shaken up,’ Similar to Jill Bolte Taylor who had a unique Stroke of Insight, you share key points of reference had lost meaning. How did an NDE alter your sense of being human? What does it feel like to shift and integrate consciousness into our collective ‘human’ notion of reality?

While I was having my NDE during the time in coma, I had no recollection of who I was in this lifetime – I did not reflect on being a man named Eben, a physician, a father, or even a human being per se. I simply was a being that was led on a journey of observing many things. I had no reference of religion to influence my interpretation of what was going on around me. In a sense, my brain (and prior human prejudices) was off-line so I could experience the full spectrum of consciousness. Later, as I returned to my body and my day-to-day existence here, I felt shaken up, trying to integrate the broader knowledge I now have with what I slowly remembered as my human life circumstances.

At first I could not speak or recognize loved ones at my bedside. I knew I had to “come back” for my youngest son, Bond (although I did not remember him as “my son,” only as a deeply entangled soul for whom I had connection and responsibility), and as I would later realize, to share my story with millions of people who have expressed a resonance with it, or who found hope and comfort from learning about my journey. Within two months I had regained all my previous knowledge including that gleaned from almost three decades spent in academic neurosurgery. I had difficulty sleeping, but I used the extra awake time to write down all that I could recall from the experience, and later to study the voluminous literature supporting a much broader vision of consciousness, quantum physics and the nature of human spirit. I now have a new life partner, nine plus years after my NDE. I am closer to my sons and have become better acquainted with my birth family.

Although I hear about other NDE experiences, your sharing here touches me in new ways. As it happens, I stopped breathing at birth and had other NDEs after accidents for reasons I did not consciously understand until recently. In my denial of life, I did not really know what it truly felt like to live. I did not wish to face what I could not change. Much like yourself, I also knew I was meant to 'come back' and am in process of living my destiny. Love how on Gaia, you teach about accessing spiritual realms , invite people to re-view deeper meaning in life experiences.

In this light, you share that surviving a rare form of brain meningitis and coma altered how you value illness, pain medication and injury. Tell us about that. What sorts of lessons can we all take away from perceived adversity?

Whether through illness, injury or trauma of another sort, these events are challenges in our lives. They are often the result of our soul’s planning or our soul group’s joint planning prior to incarnation. Their purpose is to give our individual and collective soul experiences from which to grow, strengthen relationships, learn about love and compassion for others, or how to give and receive. The lessons can be many, and we may not learn everything the first time, so we sometimes experience a challenge recurring in another form, to apply the wisdom gained thus far and go deeper in our learning, teaching and understanding on a particular subject.

Among the lessons and gifts received, I felt much gratitude and joy. The feeling of being loved completely, without judgment or conditions, is very healing on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.

Indeed. Your story is, as Time Magazine states, forcing Science to see the Afterlife differently. It is a friendly reminder that more than one kind of intelligence and way of understanding the reality exists. Every experience we create invites us to review what we think we know. Its worth noting you offer a recommended reading list to expand on the basis of your experience. I really resonate with stories of transplant recipients who develop new affinities based on consciousness transferred in their newly transplanted organs.

We have a unique and beautiful opportunity to grow here, in the density of the physical realm. We should treasure each moment, as we learn much about love that reflects the immense love of pure consciousness. Each time we are on “the other side” it is not forever, but for a period of time between incarnations or journeys that invigorate and educate our souls.

Your response resonates deeply.  Human beings are so often taught to focus on the external world, to take their bodies, mobility, current use of their minds, training or skills for granted, unless/until something happens that prevents doing what is habitual.  Losing what we think is important can trigger a new appreciation, deeper understanding of who we are and why we exist. Part of being human involves the experience of duality, comparing thoughts so the mind can have a reference for ideas. Yet, as you point out, we are far more than thought, multi-dimensional beings, in truth.  We can be wounded without conscious awareness and blind to aspects that only reveal themselves as our perception expands.

Now that you have tasted what it is like to see worlds from expanded consciousness, what, in your view, is the biggest issue for this physical world? 

 Lack of acknowledging and embracing our spiritual nature, thinking that the physical is all that exists and our lives are birth to death and nothing more – these are among the greatest travesties most challenging our modern cultural understanding.

Spiritual nature is gaining increasing attention in the Western world which itself is founded on material and physical principles. Please offer related evidence and an example to clarify your point. 

The most common and profound evidence that the materialist world view is wrong consists of the profound nature of “placebo effect” in medicine, yet we continue to educate medical and nursing students from the disproven “physicalist” position – it is high time to face reality, and utilize a world view that fully incorporates “mind-over-matter.” We may not be able to test things in a laboratory exactly the way one might test a chemical reaction, but the preponderance of evidence from NDEs, after-death communications (ADCs), mediumistic communications, past-life memories in children indicative of reincarnation and similar human experiences, reviewed under specific protocols, provide the evidence not only of the soul surviving physical death, but of its return through multiple incarnations. Consciousness demands a far grander world view than our conventional physicalist one – our new book, Living in a Mindful Universe, portrays this evolving world view in a more complete fashion than prior works trying to unite science and spirituality.

Love the views and examples you offer in this new book. It draws attention to the fact that everything is energy.  Nothing happens except in the mind.  That includes illusion of separation. This said, what is the solution to the biggest issue you see?

As radical as it may sound, Love is fundamental to the solution. Compassion for one another on a very deep level can bring all kinds of change for the good. In addition, although I cannot put it into words, I was astounded by the science at work in the universe that I could observe during my NDE. There truly is convergence of science and spirituality, although humans have not been able to explain it yet in earthly terms. But we can come closer, as more souls become actively engaged and enlightened in working together for solutions.

Swami Vivekananda said, "Spirituality is the science of the soul." Emerging scientific research and increasingly common experience like NDEs, reveal what appear to be separate disciplines are connected yet often misunderstood

As a womb twin survivor (WTS), familiar myself with OBEs and worlds beyond the physical, I have always been connected to expanded consciousness you cite awareness of as the result of your illness. I have long been surrounded by physicians in my family, close relations and colleagues, who see and experience the world very differently. Issues can arise in relating to people who do not see or accept the existence of different realities.

In light of all that has happened to you, what enables you to feel most alive and grounded in this world, continuing in your scientific role, knowing what you know about expanded reality? 

Well, for one thing, I know what my training taught me and how rooted in materialist science I was. So, I understand colleagues who are cautious when listening to my story. It does sound incredible when viewed from that strict mindset. As a scientist, I feel it is incumbent on me to more deeply examine the research around NDEs and other spiritually transformative experiences in order to convey to my physician and scientific colleagues in particular ways to expand awareness and consider consciousness from a far wider perspective.

What has changed and what remains the same?

I no longer see patients, but have a deeper understanding of the healing power within all of us. My role as a “healer” is far greater than I imagined before, but every step in my life was necessary to serve the role I now serve. Now I encourage people to become more involved in their physical and emotional healing through the daily practice of meditation, heart-centering and personal empowerment. Personally, I try to spend at least one hour each day reconnecting to the spiritual realm and the guides I encountered there through a practice of meditation using the sounds of Sacred Acoustics. This keeps me grounded in the reality of knowing myself as an eternal spiritual being. But the real gift of near-death and related experiences applies very directly to how we live our lives in these incarnations – this grander perspective (including the notion of reincarnation and living multiple lives here on earth) is crucial in allowing us to live our lives to the highest purpose and meaning we came here to experience.

It is valuable to hear you echo that healing power inside ourselves is often underestimated.  One view echoes humans are cosmic instruments that are in or out of tune. Western approaches to healing are not all evolving at the same pace.   As you say in your blog, we have cause for great hope in this world. We only experience what we are ready and willing to accept, individually and collectively.

In reality, we are all connected through the binding force of love at a spiritual level -- there is no separation.

In your books and public talks, you highlight the view that Science and Spirituality must come together for the world to move forward. What are you witnessing about the illusion of separation in Religion? 

Religions often focus on the differences between their varying dogmatic beliefs.  This takes us away from the “oneness and primacy of mind” that was so clear to many founding fathers of quantum physics (Max Planck, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, etc.).

How is quantum physics closing the perceived gap with spirituality?

The leading edges of studies on the nature of consciousness, especially in light of ever-refined experimental evidence in quantum physics indicating the absence of an objective physical reality independent of the observing mind, not only support the reality of our spiritual nature as fundamental – they demand it. Our true free will is the gift of this emergent synthesis.

You and individuals like Canadian Wilder Penfield who redrew the map of the brain, determine memories are not stored in the brain. During The Ottawa International Writer’s Festival, October 21, 2017, you speak about The Mindful Universe and say “the brain is a reducing valve. The main role of the brain is to limit, inhibit and restrict conscious awareness. This has survival value.” How is the role and usefulness of this ‘reducing value’ changing?

The conventional neuroscience I was taught in medical school in the late 1970’s was based in physicalism (the notion that only physical “stuff” exists), and assumed that consciousness was the epiphenomenon of the chemical reactions and ion fluxes in the brain. One obvious implication is that our sense of free will is completely illusory – if our very consciousness is just the illusion of awareness resulting from those physical interactions in the substance of the brain, where might one inject any form of “free will”? Modern consciousness studies provide far more robust explanation of all variety of human experience through “filter theory,” which was first discussed by luminaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – William James, Henri Bergson, FCS Schiller, and Aldous Huxley, to name a few. This reducing valve of the brain is necessary so that we may perceive and comprehend the world around us in an orderly fashion.

As it happens, as an undergraduate McGill student, I volunteered at the Montreal Neurological Hospital where Dr. Penfield spent his career. I also participated in a brain experiment there which involved being injected with radioactive isotopes. My brain activity was tracked and studied through Magnetic Resonance Imaging and other techniques. How do you feel about what  is not traceable by current scientific instruments? What does this reveal about consciousness?

Becoming more aware of our expanded consciousness beyond the brain provides the opportunity to know ourselves on a grander level and to feel the sense of our collective connection.

Monks and other experienced meditators have had brainwaves studied during meditation. Varied scientific results are documented. The widespread view is that most humans are not using full brain capacity. Popular views assume ‘enlightenment’ involves using 100% brain capacity. Hence many people work harder, in efforts to activate greater brain capacity, striving toward enlightenment. Another view is using no brain power reflects enlightenment. What is your view?

Given that the brain and physical reality emerge from consciousness itself, and that mental function is not produced by the brain but filtered through it, it is irrelevant to discuss what percentage of brain we are using to support mind. Experiments using fMRI and magnetoencephalography in patients under the influence of psychotropic substances (e.g. psilocybin, DMT (ayuhuasca), LSD, etc) reveal that the most vivid experiences correspond to less active junctional regions in the brain (especially what is known as the “default mode network”). The state of creative flow, for example, when we are fully engrossed in an activity and lose awareness of time, is correlated with decreased brain function in the frontal lobes’ executive center. It seems that getting the brain out of the way allows us to access more of the spiritual realms, and of Collective Mind.

This view is shared by Om Swami in his book,  Kundalini-An Untold Story, as well as insights shared by Gopi Krishna and other yogis who convey directly the nature of enlightenment

Your work provides great insight that empowers millions of people who are on a quest for a deeper connection with the divine. Your books attest to the existence of a universal dimension characterized by peace, acceptance and unconditional love that is accessible to all of us. What role, in your view, does the human brain have in connecting humanity with God?

The brain is simply the filter that allows expression of the mind, and of primordial consciousness. I see the source of that human (and all sentient being) consciousness as the ultimate source of all that is – the God-force so universally found amidst accounts of NDEs and related spiritually-transformative experiences (STEs), that infinitely healing power of unconditional love. In a very real sense, our human consciousness is connected directly with God – we expand our awareness of it through a practice of going within.

You make it sound so simple. Funny, the Western world often teaches things are complicated.  From your view, what can each of us do to connect more deeply to the universal mind?

Begin and continue a practice of daily meditation. Learn to recognize and distinguish between the neutral observer within and the constant mind chatter consisting of our thoughts (including the voice of our ego). Release emotional trauma, which might be blocking us from reaching an expanded state of awareness. Open the mind, and trust that the loving force of the universe will provide all that you need to come to a deeper understanding. There are many methods to choose from and each of us is unique.

That echoes Paramahansa Yogananda who says meditation is the act of becoming one with the Soul. It means seeing we are more than the body and its perceived limitations. Meditation thus points to existence of God. What can people access to help them get beyond limits of the mind? 

For those who have not yet established a regular practice, and especially those who feel the chattering “monkey mind” voice in their head is forever blocking their ability to go deep within, I strongly recommend the powerful meditative tools of Sacred Acoustics.

Agree whole-heartedly about the power of sound. Such meditation triggers shifts in perception. Many meditation techniques exist. What specific meditation would you suggest that would enable people to be more present?  Which parts of the brain do you feel influence growing awareness? 

The recordings of Sacred Acoustics who create brainwave entrainment audio are created using a proprietary blend of monaural and binaural beats combined with harmonic principles. I have worked closely with Sacred Acoustics to develop and test many of their audio products.  Due to what I believe is a profound effect of the lower brain stem, I find them most effective in quieting the mind and reaching expanded states of awareness. Beginners find them very useful and experienced meditators often report going deeper than before. They offer a free download of a 20-min meditation called “Om”. Highly recommend tuning in to this.

What you express here reinforces how spending time immersing in nature is essential to listening to our own inner music. As singer Grace Vanderwaal echos, we must close our mobile phones  (and put other external technology aside) to listen and hear what is so often overlooked.  Breathing deeply along this crazy ride of life helps us realize there is so much more than this.

What kinds of exercises can we do to better get to know the inner self?

The 33-Day Journey into the Heart of Consciousness is our free on-line companion course to the book Living in a Mindful Universe. Each day for 33 days, we offer a bite-sized nugget of a concept from the book and a related practice that can be applied in daily life. These are derived from material in the book and are techniques or practices that my co-author, Karen Newell, and I have found quite valuable.

More broadly, I recommend a frequent (e.g. daily) practice of “going within,” that is of centering prayer or meditation that successfully labels the “voice in our head” or our linguistic brain (also largely the voice of the ego) as merely “our annoying roommate,” allowing a broadening of our sense of conscious awareness connecting with higher soul and providing a bridge to the Collective Mind. This greatly expanded awareness allows a refreshing and even revolutionary perspective.

Imagine you dine with 5 people you have not yet met (from past/present/future). Who would they be and what would you like to ask them?

Each would be asked the Big Questions of the fundamental nature of reality, the binding force of Love, and of the meaning and purpose of our existence:

Jesus Christ –

Albert Einstein –

David Bohm –

C.S. Lewis –

Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha) –

Absolutely love your choices! I would be delighted to join this group encounter and at some point, hear the nature of what is discussed.  Imagine asking fictional characters to ask to dinner too. The topics we wish to ask those we admire tell us a lot about ourselves.  For now, if you could share an insight, revelation or advice for our readers to take away, what would it be?

All of the answers lie within. Dedicate the time to meditate each day, because the very reason for the existence of your soul and this precious lifetime are to become more of who you truly are. The way to achieve that is by aligning more to your spiritual nature.

Please share anything else you feel would benefit our readers.

Each and every soul plays a crucial role in the evolution of consciousness. We are absolutely responsible for all of the choices in our lives. Given the justice and balance that is inherent in the universe, we are wise to realize we will reap what we sow, and living the golden rule, or treating others as we would like to be treated, is essential in providing the smoothest route possible to enlightenment.

Dr. Alexander, again, I truly appreciate your presence during this timely conversation as I know our readers do also. When people speak, audiences can listen with interest or curiousity, and sometiems with the intent to reply.  Yet, communicating as you do so openly right now, on this timeline, sharing insight, invites each of us to listen more closely to ourselves. I invite our readers to read your books, attend events and take steps to deepen understanding of the mind.

In order to share our gifts and be heard in this world, we must hear ourselves clearly first. As the great Confucius echoes, "I hear. I know. I see. I remember. I do, I understand."

Short Bio

Eben Alexander, M.D., was an academic neurosurgeon for over 25 years, including 15 years at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School in Boston. He has a passionate interest in physics and cosmology. He is a New York Times Best-selling author, speaker and event facilitator. Visit his website to explore information about his books, consciousness as well as details of his current events.

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Reader Comments (10)

I have in some ways been obsessed with near death experiences and continue to this day reading books of those who have journeyed to the other side and back to tell about it and often watch you tube video testimonials and panel discussions on the subject. I suppose i too have had a near death experience but not in the traditional way of dying under an operating table or from being in an accident. With that experience and with my spontaneous obe's, i too know for sure beyond doubt that there is consciousness outside of the human body. It is indeed more real than the reality we partake in within the human body. There was a huge heaviness or gravity that had to be processed upon my return. But at this moment, something occurs to me, perhaps more of my sense of me came back into the body and the heaviness was the processing of new information and nerve endings and perhaps brain functioning coming to life as if for the first time, or after a long period of hibernation. More soul energy or spirit or higher voltage was gifted, and the body was in the process of adjusting. And as time goes on and such integrations are taking shape, new insights arrive to match the greater sense of inner and bodily connectivity.

Another reason that I am attracted to death is that it wants me to know that death is an ongoing process and is more likened to letting go of old perceptions to become immersed in greater life or increased spirit. Seen in this way, death is merely the gatekeeper to a higher dimensional platform of experience or a means of reaching the next layer of the onion peals. However, in this version of reaching the other side where a higher vibration exists, the physical body comes along with us, but is in essence upgraded and resurrected with each new insight and integration of new information and spirit through an open heart. The physical body grows then by receiving more qualitative energy which offers it greater health and overall well being with the opportunity to increase one's longevity in physical life, if so desired in one's soul plan.

Yet another death like experience was an emotional dark night of the soul. In this version of death, one seems to descend to the vibrational realm of where the wound actually exists making life feel unbearable and uncomfortable, for one's actual vibration is much higher, but one's sense of consciousness is hovering in the underworld trying to give love to something that seems to be lost. However, when the energy is coaxed to return, one floats to the surface of their naturally accrued vibration, allowing one to fully breathe in deeply the spirit of the moment, where the pressure of feeling depressed or under the surface has been remedied by bringing one's awareness to one's own highest sense of self while living in a body here on earth.
April 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBern
Bern, thanks for your comment. For some people, death is a scary, even unmentionable taboo subject. Yet, more people are also celebrating life and death with humor and light-heartedness. As more people come forward and share heart-felt experiences like NDEs, changes in their interests after receiving transplanted organs and other tangible examples, new levels of conscious awareness are emerging. The collective view and understanding of life and death is shifting in the West. East and West are not really different. Some would say Science and Spirituality are simply expressions of the same energy. Whatever you see is a state of perception and reflects a stage of expanding consciousness.
April 12, 2018 | Registered CommenterLiara Covert
Great interview & grateful for the insights provided. Have read Eben's first two books and was unaware of his most recent one. Love his emphasis in this interview of going within and practicing meditation, which I have been feeling called lately to incorporate further into my daily practice, rather than the previous 'once in a blue.' Thanks for all you do Liara.. it is appreciated beyond measure.
April 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMatt
Dr. Alexander,

Words have not the capacity to convey what this means to me, for me, for us. Firstly, I’d like to thank you for making the time to organize and share this. It’s something I have been making the time myself to do for others one-by-one over the duration of this life. Secondly, this is the first sound understanding including the acknowledgement of the soul, God/source, and all that is inbetween as a whole that I have seen to be able to see, reciprocate, and communicate this mutual understanding that another understands as I do and have. As you are now aware of what synchronicity is rather than coincidence, I must share that I was graciously directed here through Miss Covert; a long time standing, true, and loyal connection through this unfolding of self. Cheers to understanding, Doctor. Root to crown, left and right mind.

Here as in Heaven,

~JiiP (Our Source)
April 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJordan Page. ~Jii
Thanks very much for sending the interview with Dr. Alexander, I enjoyed reading it very much.
April 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBill
In deep gratitude for this synchronicity in this moment. The universe has such a way of letting one know they are on the right path. The information in this interview greatly resonates with where my focus is on a daily basis. I am in awe of what this experience truly is. Until my awakening started I was in total fear of death. So many avenues of fear based thinking. Coming to the realization that this existence is eternal and an opportunity for growth has had the most powerful impact in this physical experience for myself and my family. Sound has become a huge gateway for me to reflect within my space. Each day the thought of death becomes less fearful, and the thought of eternity becomes more real. Chipping away at the false perception of self and inviting Spirit in all interactions. Sending Infinite love. (J)

"Don't rely on your mind for liberation. It is the mind that brought you into bondage. Go beyond it altogether." ~Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
April 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
This is a wonderful read and one I resonate with deeply. The biggest travesty I also believe is what human beings have been led to believe for far to long, this is it ~ your here for this one life and when your gone your gone. These life paths we've chosen can being extremely trying but all was truly set in place for the expansion of humanity and to wake. I'm grateful to be one that is very self realized and aware of my path now. Reading many stories like Eben's were guiding lights over the years. Now being completely submerged in truth, it's my path to help others awaken to their truth as well. So much has been hidden and these things need to be spread far and wide. We are not the physical body, it's time. Thank you and eternal blessings, we are love, we are all creators 💕
April 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterShelley
Interesting interview. Very thoughtful or thought-provoking questions for him to ponder.
April 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterC.C.
Liara Covert has shared a fabulous in-depth interview of Dr. Eben Alexander, author of Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey Into the Afterlife. The various topics they discuss are like candy to me: I can't resist these wide-ranging forays into new thinking, amazing and wondrous experiences, and all the curiosity left hanging...

I've only just started reading it again, yet already resonate with much they share. If you're looking for some thought-provoking ideas to ponder, this is an article for you.
April 15, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJulie R.
Awesome interview! I love that his perspective provides the scientific aspect along with the spiritual, which contrary to popular belief do NOT have to be independent of one another! I got so much valuable info in this article and I now I want the book! Thanks Liara, I've been a huge fan of your facebook posts for a while, and this is the first time I've visited your blog, so I can't wait to have a look around :) Your friend, Nikki Sapp
April 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNikki Sapp

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