Have you ever been in a situation where you feel deep in your heart that the life you're living is not the life you were meant to live? Well, that's where Avalaura Gaither found herself, in spite of the fact that she worked...
Have you ever been in a situation where you feel deep in your heart that the life you're living is not the life you were meant to live? Well, that's where Avalaura Gaither found herself, in spite of the fact that she worked tirelessly in her dream profession, had a great income, drove a nice car and had a great family. So why did she find herself in an emotional heap on the floor crying out to God for help?
You'll want to listen to this episode to hear how Avalaura overcame her circumstances and designed a Triple A process for getting in alignment with her passion and purpose.
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Peggie Kirkland 0:04
Welcome to the Momma's Motivational Messages podcast, where women learn to stop putting themselves on the back burner and start paying attention to caring for themselves first, so they can be better for everyone else in their lives. I know you'll be inspired by the stories of resiliency and starting over, of health and self healing, of gaining clarity through journaling, of showing self-love through world travel, and the list goes on. I encourage you to relax and enjoy. I'm your host Peggie Kirkland PK.
Today we are welcoming to our show, Avalaura Gaither founder of Avalaura's Healing Center in College Park, Maryland, and host of 2 podcasts, Avalaura, Heal My Life and Black Women Leave America. Ava is a trained Reiki master and teacher. She's a certified life coach and spiritual counselor. She's a hypnotherapist holistic aroma therapist, and yoga meditation instructor. Over the last 15 years, Avalaura has spoken at a number of sold out retreats, including for the United States Secret Service, the Sickle Cell Association of America, and Andrews Air Force Base. She's been featured for her work on TV shows, such as the Real Housewives of Potomac, and a number of media publications, including the Huffington Post and Reader's Digest. Avalaura, that was a mouthful of accolades. So I'm sure my listening audience is totally curious about you and your accomplishments. So please help my audience to get to know you a little bit better, by telling us a little bit about your background, where you grew up your education, how you got into holistic practices, etc.
Avalaura Gaither 2:15
First of all, Peggie, I want to thank you for having me on your podcast. And I want to thank your listeners for actually listening in and learning ways of better taking care of themselves. Um, as far as your question, I'm originally from Connecticut. And people are always surprised when they hear that. But I grew up in Connecticut, and I now live in the DC Maryland area, which I have been here for over 20 years now.
But what brought me here was going to Howard University in Washington, DC. And so I studied psychology and social work for my master's degree at Howard. And, you know, sort of long story short, I ended up in the social work field really excited. I always knew that I wanted to help people heal. I always knew that I wanted to help give people advice. When my mom told me, you know, when I had to apply for school and decide what major I knew I wanted to major in psychology, because I knew that's what I wanted to do.
And so when I got into the social work field, I was really disappointed that I couldn't really make the impact that I thought that I was going to be able to make, um, I was working at, I was a program director at an outpatient mental health clinic here in Greenbelt, Maryland. And I found that I was very limited and how I could help my clients. And so what I realized is that the system wasn't really set up to help people heal, but really just set up to help people to maintain their dysfunction. And that's not what I signed up for. That's not what I had, you know, long, sleepless nights staying up for a test or writing a paper, you know, getting my degree and making sure that I work to be the best healer that I could be. That's not what I signed up for.
And so when I felt like I couldn't really make the impact that I wanted to make within the social work field, what happened to me and I think, you know, just probably so many of your listeners can relate like when you're not operating in your purpose, I started to get depressed. And I started to feel stuck, and I started to feel like I couldn't really make a difference. And what was I here for, like, what was what was I doing? You know, like if I couldn't fully do the work that I wanted to do, what was the purpose of life? What was the purpose of everything that I had sacrificed.
And even on the outside, it seemed like everything was great. You know, I was married, I had a nice home nice car, you know, working in my profession making pretty good money. I was absolutely miserable. Um, I was gaining weight, I hated going into the office. Um, you know, it was, it was a really challenging time for me. Um, and what made it worse is that here I am, you know, helping other people advising other people, right? My clients, Mm hmm. But I couldn't help myself. I didn't know who to go to for help. I didn't know who to talk to I, um, I, you know, felt really guilty. And felt really embarrassed about asking for help, because I felt like I'm supposed to know better.
Unknown Speaker 5:51
And so that was my reality for a while, until I just got sick and tired of being sick and tired and finally talked to a friend and she happened to be having a woman's retreat. And she said, Look, Avalaura, I'm having this woman's retreat, why don't you come on out. And at that point, I don't think I had ever gone on a woman's retreat before. I didn't even know what it was. But I really didn't care. I mean, if she had said, Let's go bungee jumping, I would have done it. Um, because I was just so miserable. I wanted anything that was going to help me to feel better.
Avalaura Gaither 6:22
And so I went, I went on her retreat, and it ended up being one of the best experiences that I could have had, I got back to soulful self care, as I call it, and really taking care of myself, doing yoga, doing meditation, eating healthy food, spending time in nature, just talking to like minded women, and really taking some much needed time out for myself. And when I did that, um, you know, it really struck me how different my life was, and that I wasn't happy. And I wasn't smiling anymore. And anybody who knows me knows, I laugh every day, you know, that that is, I'm always finding joy in something. And I realized that that wasn't happening. And, you know, it had been so long that I had really just taken a look at myself and what was going on because I was so wrapped in my circumstances, and my misery that I didn't even realize how I was being impacted.
And so that caused me to really just kind of have an emotional breakdown. Um, I you know, literally found myself on my hands and knees crying out to God, like, You got to get me out of here because I can't live like this. This is this is not living. This is not what I signed up for. This cannot be my reality. I just I can't do this anymore. And I cried, and I boo-hooed. And, you know, snot coming out my nose, like everything. One of those really kind of releasing cries,
Peggie Kirkland 7:58
Avalaura Gaither 7:59
After that, I felt better. You know, I felt better. Um, I realized it was a temporary solution. You know, I realized that I still had to go back to work on Monday morning, but I felt better in that moment. Um, and and so you know, life goes on. Right? i The retreat was over, had to go back to reality. I went back to work on Monday morning business as usual. And my boss calls me into his office and he sits me down and he says, Avalaura, you know, it has been wonderful having you. But I have to let you go.
Peggie Kirkland 8:38
Oh, my goodness. Exactly. You can't be serious.
Avalaura Gaither 8:41
I am so serious. I can't even
Peggie Kirkland 8:44
Oh my gosh.
Avalaura Gaither 8:46
And I said, Wait a minute. What? Are you like, are you serious? Me, not me. To put this in perspective for you. I am like the classic overachieving, you know, recovering perfectionist, right. So like, when I do something when I commit to it, you know, like you said, I have all those accolades. I commit, I go hard. No. And, and so I've never been fired from anything in my life. I was I was shocked. And so needless to say, my ego was in a rage, like, How dare you ?I can't believe this is happening to me. You know, you know how ego does like, oh, you know, and like, this is, you know, the world is coming to an end. And, um, but this really, really quiet voice.Um kind of piped up and said, Avalaura, why are you upset? Why are you complaining? This is what you asked for. So what are you gonna do?
Peggie Kirkland 9:43
Unknown Speaker 9:46
Yeah, I had to sit. I had to sit with myself. And so yeah, I did. I prayed for this I needed out. Now mind you, I didn't think it was gonna happen like this. I didn't want that. But it's what I prayed for. And so That became my journey. What am I going to do now? You know, am I going to go back into the social work field and get another job because you know if anybody knows social work, right? It's jobs are a dime a dozen, it's like being a nurse, any any of these human service, there's always a need. So there's so many jobs out there. And so as you know, am I going to go out there and just try to find another job? Or am I really going to do the work to live in my passion and purpose? I'm sure that I would not be sitting here talking to you today, if I did not make the latter choice. But before I did that, I think what's really important is I took what I call my six month healing sabbatical. And I know, Beyonce kind of talked about this after, when she was talking about her twins. So after the birth of her twins, so she took six months, but so I did this way back in the day.
Peggie Kirkland 10:53
You were ahead of your time.
Unknown Speaker 10:54
Yes. I took my six month healing sabbatical, and I did my healing work. You know, who am I? Why am I here? What is it that I can do that nobody else can do? What are my gifts? What is my purpose? What did God send me here to do? How can I make the greatest impact, and I got counseling, and I got life coaching. And I learned Reiki and I studied hypnotherapy and aromatherapy and, you know, immersed myself back into yoga, all the things that you know, I do now, um, I really took that time. And at the end of the six months, I opened up Avalaura's Healing Center. And that was in November of 2005. So we're talking about almost 16 years ago now.
Peggie Kirkland 11:41
Wow. Well, clearly, you've shown us how you could take a situation and a circumstance and really turn it on its head, and turn it into an opportunity that becomes impactful. And one of the things I noticed you've talked about from the very beginning, and you've mentioned it a few times, you said that the system is set up to help keep people in their dysfunction.
Avalaura Gaither 12:12
Peggie Kirkland 12:12
Can you expand on that a little bit more for the audience.
Avalaura Gaither 12:16
Yeah, I said, um, the system isn't set up to heal, is set up to help people maintain their dysfunction. And what I mean by that, you know, the thing that I love about holistic healing, holistic wellness is that the goal is to really get to the root of whatever the problem is, right? And so you might be working at a job like I was that you hate, you're making really good money, the world thinks you're successful. But you're not happy, you're miserable, right? But that's not the root problem. That's a symptom of the problem.
Peggie Kirkland 12:59
Avalaura Gaither 13:00
And so the work that I'm doing is helping you to get to what is the root? What caused this problem in the first place? How did you get there? How can we release that, heal from that and move on. So now you can create the reality that you really want. And then the traditional mental health system is all about the bandaid effect, let's help you with where you are right now, we don't really have time to go back and figure out what caused all it is, we're just going to help you to hurry up and get through this right now. And then, you know, two months from now, three months from now, or heck, even a week or two from now you find yourself in the same situation, because you never really got to the root cause; what was what really is your challenge and what's really bothering you, whether it's childhood hurts, or traumas or, you know, your belief system, or emotions that you've been carrying with you for years that you've never fully explored and let go of , whatever that is. It wasn't really set up to do all of that. It was just trying to make people better in the meantime. And we could say, great, they're done. Let's move on to the next.
Peggie Kirkland 14:10
You mentioned the fact that everything that you were going through led you to the point of just having a breakdown, where you are on the floor and you crying out to God and you asking all the questions we ask when we get to that the lowest point as it were. And so I'm wondering, are there ways to prevent other women from actually getting to that point, or is that necessary? Do you have to go there in order to come out, to rise up like a phoenix?
Avalaura Gaither 14:51
Peggie Kirkland 14:52
And be a new person and be better and to live in your purpose and your passion?
Unknown Speaker 14:58
Yeah, that's a great question. The reason that is a great question is, I would love to tell you Peggie, that there absolutely is the case, there are preventative things that you can do before you get to that point, you can see the red flags, you can see the writing on the wall, I knew I wasn't happy, right, I was gaining weight. Like I said, I wasn't really smiling and laughing, I wasn't finding joy in life, I hated going to work, I would find myself just you know, crying, and, you know, or it's just all kinds of things, all kinds of signs of, of depression, and I didn't do anything about it. I didn't do anything really fully about it truthfully, um, until I got fired. Right. Like, that was my that was my wake up call that was my rock bottom.
Avalaura Gaither 15:56
And so I would love to say that there are preventative things that you can do. And there really are, there are lots of different things that we can do. Truthfully, a lot of the processes that I take my clients through, you can do them now, as opposed to after, but the reality is that most of us human nature, and I am, you know, one of the reasons that I work so well with my clients, and I'm so good at what I do is because I'm fully aware of human nature. Right. So, you know, I don't try to be overly optimistic. I'm also a realist as well, most people don't engage in change, putting their time, their energy, their money into change, until they hit rock bottom, or they simply can't take it anymore, that the pain becomes so great, that they're willing to do whatever it takes to alleviate it.
Peggie Kirkland 16:54
That's pretty heavy people do not engage in change, you said,
Unknown Speaker 16:59
There's always exceptions, right? They are people who are at a certain level of their life, like where I am right now I'm happy, you know, things are good. And I'm always working to improve and be better. And so if I notice things about myself that I don't like or that I want to change, I work to do that. But most people don't engage in that until things just become so uncomfortable for them to stay in the same place.
Peggie Kirkland 17:27
In other words, if you're trying to avoid getting to that point of hitting rock bottom, you need to see the red flags, acknowledge the red flags and act on the red flags. Is that right?
Avalaura Gaither 17:45
Absolutely. Yes. And that takes a place of awareness of really self reflecting on your life on yourself. You know, what do you like about yourself? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are some good things that people say about you? What are things that you know, people say about you that you think maybe not so good, right? Like, really self reflecting, because there's always room for improvement, no matter where you are, we're never gonna be perfect. And so you can do that if you're rock bottom, you can do that. If you're on top, the answers might look different. But the reality is, there's always some level of improvement that you can engage on.
Peggie Kirkland 18:32
I think that, in my experience, I have found that trying to convince somebody to invest when when we talk about my listening audience of Gen X women who are juggling their lives at home, their children at various stages of life, they could be middle school, high school, graduating college, getting into college, they're dealing with their partners, their their significant others, they're dealing with the stress on the job. They're dealing with just what's going on in society at large, even the environment. How do you say to a woman like that, who leaves home early, comes home late, leaves a job, comes home to work again, hits the bed exhausted, just to get up and do it again? Like that mouse on a treadmill. How do you say to this woman, where is this woman supposed to find the time, the energy and the money to take care of themselves?
Unknown Speaker 19:43
So here's the thing. First of all, I am a Gen X woman. Okay? I am I am 45 I do not have my own children but my partner has four girls so I essentially have four bonus children. Okay.
Peggie Kirkland 19:59
Avalaura Gaither 20:00
They range from seven to 16.
Peggie Kirkland 20:04
Okay, you've got a wide range there.
Unknown Speaker 20:07
During COVID They were here 24/7 because there was no school.
Peggie Kirkland 20:13
My hat's off to you.
Unknown Speaker 20:16
And I'm running a business and he's running a business.
Peggie Kirkland 20:20
Avalaura Gaither 20:21
So, I say all of that to say that I get it. Except I didn't get to come home, I had to stay home all day with all of this.
Peggie Kirkland 20:29
Avalaura Gaither 20:30
right. And, and the reality is, that is when you need to create the time even more, because you are in the midst of the fire. And when you are in the midst of the fire, you need to go head on and get that water and get the fire extinguisher. You can't wait until you have time, until you have money. You gotta do it now. Um, I don't think I have ever practiced so much self care in my life.
Peggie Kirkland 21:03
Avalaura Gaither 21:04
You know, I would have to just leave the house, I would have to go out on walks, um, you know, do little things for myself, um,.. You know, there was a time obviously, I couldn't go out with my friends, I'd love to brunch with my friends. We couldn't do that at one point in time. But I found ways of making sure that I was still nurturing myself. And I found that I needed it even more, because things were so stressful. And, you know, I teach, I teach self care all around the world. And I've I've spoken, you know, for Pay Pal, I've spoken for really big organizations to really small women's retreats. And one of the things that I share, um, that so many people are like, wow, I never thought about it like that is the reality is this, the more stressed out you are, the more self care you need.
Peggie Kirkland 21:06
Hmm, please say that, again, Avalaura!
Avalaura Gaither 21:57
The more stressed out you are, the more self care you need. Your self care should match the level of your stress. Otherwise, you're not doing self care, it's superficial self care. So if your stress is at a 10, your self care needs to be at a 10. Otherwise, you're not doing enough. And so when you have all of those things going on work, you know, your, your marriage, children, and still needing to find time for yourself, you have to take that time because if you don't, you will literally burn yourself out. And you won't be able to do any of it, or you won't be able to do it well.
And so one of the things that I hear from a lot of women in particular, um, is that well Avalaura I can't take time out for me because I have all of these things. But here's the reality. Now I know from having these four girls, they like stuff, they want to look like me they want you know, they want makeup, they want you know, clothes and jewelry, right? And all these things, they love all that stuff. But what the thing that I've learned the most is they really enjoy just having us around and playing games, right? Or going for a drive or going to the park, that family time.
And so the reality is the people who love you, your children, your spouse, your your parents or siblings, whoever, the your family, the people who love you what they want more than anything is you. So What greater gift can you give them than your own home? If you are a fragment of yourself, you are cheating them out of having a whole complete healthy you. If you don't find time, because you need it for yourself. Find the time for you because you need it for them.
Peggie Kirkland 24:17
That is pretty powerful Avalaura .I thank you for that. That's quite ... that's more than just a gem. When you think of a gem, you think of something small. That's a whole rock of knowledge that you just rolled down the hill there, and I certainly hope people are waiting to catch it because that was really powerful. And so you mentioned the fact that you started out in psychology, then you did social work and you were able to leverage those skills into creating your own business. What word of advice can you give to someone who's listening, who's also at that point? They haven't they haven't been told yet that they don't need to come back.
Avalaura Gaither 25:10
But they know it,
Peggie Kirkland 25:11
But they know it. They know it. Okay? What would you what advice can you give to someone like that, to give them that encouragement to know that they don't have to stay in something that is not representative of who they are, and the gifts that they have been given?
Avalaura Gaither 25:36
I call this my, um, my three step, you know, success process, my triple A, and I use it all the time, and I use it, you know, it's one of the things that I use with my clients as well and sort of customizing this plan. But the first thing that you really have to do is accept your reality for what it is, you know. Good, bad, right, wrong. It doesn't matter how you feel about it, you simply have to accept it. And accepting it does not mean that you like it. It doesn't mean that is your ideal. It doesn't mean that it is good. It simply means that this is your reality.
So my reality is I was at a job that I absolutely hated that it did not serve me and I could not make the impact that I wanted to make with my clients there. I couldn't really fully, fully show up and serve. That was my reality. So the first thing is you got to accept it. A lot of us want to be in a fantasy world. Oh, no, my marriage isn't as bad as I think it is. Yes, it is. In fact, it actually might be worse.
Peggie Kirkland 26:47
Oh, boy. Indeed,
Avalaura Gaither 26:49
We don't want to accept it because it hurts. Yeah, right? Yes. And so but you can't change something that you're not willing to accept. So the first thing is you accept it. The second thing, the second A is that you ask for help. You ask for help. A lot of times, we can, when you finally get to the point of accepting your reality, you don't know what to do. Right? You create this reality, so you don't know how to get yourself out of it. So you have to ask for help. I didn't know what to do until I went to a friend confided in her and she was able to help me before then I was feeling stuck.
You know, it's the same I you know, said all the time with my car. Look, you know, every we want to drive around a nice car, I have no idea how to take care of my car, none. If anything happens to what I am calling my mechanic because I don't know what to do. It'd be sitting right there stuck. And it could be the smallest thing wrong with it. But that's not my area of expertise.
Peggie Kirkland 27:58
Avalaura Gaither 27:59
And so I'm going to call an expert, and get help. So when you ask for help, you're not asking for help from anybody, you're not going to your mom and your sister, somebody who might be in the same boat as you, somebody who's going to give you bad advice, right? Somebody who can't help you, because they can't even help themselves. You want to ask for help from a professional. So once you accept what the problem is, look for who's a professional in that aspect that can help me with this problem.
And then the third thing that you want to do is you want to take action. We live in a in a society full of hoarders. We like to hoard information. We like to hoard books, we like to hoard clothes, we like to hoard things. And then it sits there and we never use it.
Peggie Kirkland 28:54
So true. So very true, Avalaura.
Avalaura Gaither 28:58
And so what I'm saying in taking action is you got to take the knowledge that you've gotten, take the help, and now you got to implement because it's of no use to you or anybody else if you don't actually implement what you know and what you've received and what you've gotten. So less is more.
Figure out what the problem is, accept it for what it is, ask for help, and take action and implement whatever the person who is helping you tells you to do so you can get the result that you want to get.
Peggie Kirkland 29:34
I think that was very clear, three clear steps that listeners can take to help to get them from point A to point B in their journeys. Now there's one last thing I wanted to ask you about Avalaura. After all that powerful information. My head is spinning; it is spinning, but I wanted to ask you a little bit about the Reiki healing that you do because I did notice in your your bio that you are a Reiki Master, and that you also teach Reiki is this something that listeners can actually use in their own daily lives because not everyone knows what that is or how it can be helpful in their lives. So can you just give us a little primer on that?
Avalaura Gaither 30:34
Absolutely, um, Reiki is one of my favorite healing techniques, and it's one of my favorite forms of self care. And the reason is, is one because it's easy, it's extremely effective. And yes, you can actually use it and implement it into your own life. And so if you don't know what Reiki is, it is a form of what we call energy healing, where it really works to balance out your energy, your chakras, your meridian system; it reduces stress levels it's very calming, it's very relaxing. One of my clients calls it a spiritual massage. It feels really good and it leaves you feeling like you're just floating on a cloud.
And so you can come to somebody like me who practices Reiki and you can receive Reiki or you can learn Reiki so I teach Reiki healing, it's a three step process, Reiki one, Reiki two, and then the Reiki Masters or Reiki three, and you can learn how to do Reiki for yourself how to do Reiki for your friends family. And you can even learn how to do it professionally, if you would like to do that as well. But the key is you can learn how to do it for yourself. And there's also a lot of different health, self care tools that I teach you in Reiki one that really help you to preserve and protect your energy, especially if you know like, a lot of my clients are empaths. Right. So if you're an empath, if you feel other people's emotions, you take other people's energy, um, you have to be even more diligent about practicing self care. And so I teach a lot of energy techniques that help you to preserve and protect your energy from other people.
Peggie Kirkland 32:22
I think that's really important. But I almost feel like we have to do a whole other interview about that. Because that is a really deep topic. The whole idea of being an empath, and I know that I am because people I feel other people's pain, when they tell me they're going through something physical, I can actually feel it in my own body. And, you know, that can be interesting sometimes. But, um, like I said, there's a whole, that's a whole other area that we can explore at a different point, I believe, because the problem we're definitely coming to the end of our interview. And so you I mean, it almost seems ridiculous to ask this question, because I feel like you've told us so much already. But just on the off chance that it hasn't, there's something else that you want listeners to know, and remember, is there something that you want listeners to know and remember, if nothing else, from or time together?
Avalaura Gaither 33:39
I mean, you know, I, you know, I could talk for days.
Peggie Kirkland 33:43
And we could listen for days believe me
Avalaura Gaither 33:47
I mean, this is the work that I love. But yeah, I think repetition for effect, you know, I do, you know, often repeat myself because the more you hear something, the more you receive it and it'll become a part of your spirit. And so I will just simply repeat that your self care must match the level of your stress. The more stressed out you are, the more self care you should practice. So if your self care, if you're if your stress level is a 10, your self care must be at least a level two.
Peggie Kirkland 34:23
Okay, guys, you heard it. The self care has to match the stress level and vice versa. Okay. I tell you, even Laura, it's been an absolute pleasure having you. But before you go, I just wanted to ask, is there anything that you wanted to share with our listeners in terms of how they can get in touch with you or anything you wanted to maybe give to them?
Avalaura Gaither 34:54
Absolutely. Um, you know, first and foremost, I am very easy to find online, Avalaura, I am Google-licious; I am the only Avalaura. So you can easily find me, Avalaura.com Is my hub is my website, and it has all the links to my social media. So you can connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, I started to Tick Tock, I'm not really on it yet, but maybe that will happen, we'll see. But you can connect with me on all social media, you can feel free to DM me, you can also go to avalaura.com if you want to schedule a consultation, and join my mailing list. And what I would like to gift you with is my soulful self care audit. And what that is, is, you know, it allows you to look at and see how well are you practicing self care. And just gives you more information about self care that you might not be aware of, so that you can practice it differently. And so, Peggie, I think is going to include the link, um, you know, but it's said a bit.ly/soulfulselfcareaudits, bit.ly/soulfulselfcareaudits,.
Peggie Kirkland 36:21
Wonderful. We'll include all of your social media handles and where to find you in our show notes. So, listeners, you don't have to be too worried about that. We'll make sure that that's in our show notes. So Avalaura, like I said, it's been an absolute pleasure having you on our show today. I think listeners have gained a wealth of information, and not just information, but some inspiration and some encouragement to take better care of themselves. Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of your experiences, and your passion, we could hear your passion in your voice. Thank you for sharing that with us.
Avalaura Gaither 37:05
Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate you. And thank you all for listening.
Peggie Kirkland 37:12
If you've been inspired and encouraged by the positive messages in today's show, please take a moment to rate and review the show on Apple podcast. This will help to keep the show alive. And remember, sharing is caring. So don't forget to share these gems with friends and family strangers too if you like, let them know it's available wherever they listen to their podcasts. I'm counting on you to share the love. Until next time. This is PK sending you much light and a whole lot of love.