Lauren Bacall on Relationships

This is a long video and you need to turn up your speakers as the sound isn’t great. But I think the first 4 minutes has a lot to say about being in a relationship, being alone and then it goes on to talk more about men and her life.

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Don’t Text and Drive

This is a new documentary by Werner Herzog that EVERY driver should watch. We need to bring back common sense to driving and remember that there are other people on the road. Nothing is more important when you are driving then keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. When you lose someone to a car accident, like I have (not because of texting though), you are more mindful of driving. It should not take the loss of anyone to understand public safety.

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The Wonderful World of Sandplay

sand tray photoOver a decade ago I was introduced to “Sand tray” work (this is a different process than Sandplay that I am studying now), during my practicum at John F. Kennedy University. I took a training on this interpretive process and began to put it into practice at our counseling center.  We had a special sand tray room dedicated for practicing this work with our clients. At that time I was rather fascinated by this modality and what came up in the tray. Then I got a job in social services and went away from therapy for many years.

Recently, I met a trainer here in Columbus, Barbara Brugler who has re-awakened my passion for this work. She teaches Sandplay work (which is not interpretive). As a result, I am now on the path to becoming a certified therapist. This is a very long process which involves a certain number of classes, personal work in the sand and a supervisor to consult with me on the trays I do with my own clients. In the end, I have to write several papers in order to be approved for certification. What I love about this process is that they mandate personal work in the sand and that there are rules to follow. Rules work for me, or I should say knowing my limitations.

What I also love about Sandplay work is the unconscious process that takes place with the client. We don’t analyze the symbols they put into the tray. Not then anyway. Also, a client of any age can do Sandplay and it is especially helpful with trauma. Many people I work with who have been abused, or traumatized by some other type of experience, get to a place where they have said enough and aren’t sure where to go next. The Sandplay experience is a way for them to take a risk of working through these past issues without talking about it. It can be re-traumatizing when we go into our memories and dredge up all those scenes, tastes, unwanted touch and scents.  As a result there will be somatic reactions in the moment that include holding the breath. There can be nightmares, flashbacks, and dissociation as well. Then of course, you have this “a-ha” moment and then what?

How Sandplay works is I show them the sand tray and I show them the objects on my shelves. I tell them to look at these symbols and choose whatever ones seem to want to be picked up. They take them to the tray and make scenes that appear to come out of nowhere. I have heard “I don’t know why I chose that but it seems to need to go here.” This is perfect. I tell them that it is not important why they chose something, just to let the process happen.

My job is to take notes and once the session is over I take photographs of the tray, just like I write notes about the session – for documentation purposes. I then put the objects away.

What draws me in this work, is that I feel like I am in someone’s dream. Since I do dream analysis, this is my first time to watch it come alive. Only it is not their dream, it is happening right this minute. Or maybe it is their dream. The dream that has been happening for many years but they can’t seem to remember it. Or they do but can’t explain it. I suppose I will find out over time.

I also find that this work allows the inner child to emerge. For myself as a therapist and my clients, we are in the sand playing, metaphorically speaking and they are doing mindful work in a non-linear way. Doing these actions in silence (without interpretation) allows room for the client to grow without feeling exposed.

Ordinarily, I do not like silence as a therapist or as a person. Sandplay intrigues me in the sense that the room is actually very loud, again metaphorically speaking. So much is going on! If you can imagine being deaf and going to the circus. This is what it feels like when I watch the client in motion with the objects.

This is all that I have discovered thus far. Stay tuned for more to come! In the meantime, go to Sandplay Therapists of America (STA) and if you are not in the U.S., go to the International Society for Sandplay Therapy. This practice is Jungian based and has been around since the 1950’s. It was founded by Dora Kalff after studying at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zürich, Switzerland. Sandplay is also based on her studies of  Tibetan Buddhism and working with Margaret Lowenfeld in England.

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Saying Goodbye to a Child

FTVThe most significant event in my life and that of my immediate family, was May 24, 1987. This was the day that our beloved baby brother, Ferenc Tibor Végh, who was only 16 years old, was taken from us in a car accident. It shocked all of us and took each of us in varied turns. None of us have ever quite gotten over it and I doubt anyone else, who faces such an ordeal has been able to either. You do move on because you have to but the way you carry the memory depends on your ability to persevere through the obstacles life places on you. None of us are meant to live in Shangri-la. We all have tests of “faith,” or will. Our level of emotional intelligence will have us either survive or give up.

You have to survive though, you have to realize this because there are others who will come into your family over the years. We have added 5 nieces and nephews and now have four grandchildren and two more on the way. It is important that your descendants know about the person who has passed. That you keep this loved one’s memory alive by teaching them who he was and what he meant to your family. If you don’t, than their life meant nothing. If you don’t grow as a person than you have lost everything and your family has lost more than a child.

No child hopes that their family will fall apart and never find an ability to repair itself. That is not the values you raised your children on and they would hope you would continue instilling these principles. A positive and healthy family legacy must continue, even in the face of your darkest moments. And if your family has not been healthy and has been negative, it is times like these where you can become better people, to honor the memory of your loved one. Remembering in a happy way, is the best way to go forward.

It has been 27 years since the passing of my brother. I have kept his photo in my front room this entire time. Anytime someone sees it, they ask who he was and then I am able to tell a story about his life. At first it brought many tears and many questions when I saw it there in front of me on a daily basis. Now it brings a smile to my face as I think about what a good child he was. It reminds me to be a good person for him. It also reminds me that life is not one to take for granted. Any day your life could change for the good or the bad.

Suggestions for family and friends, when it has just happened:

1. If you know someone who has just lost a child, surround them with support. Make sure they have food, transportation, offer to help make the arrangements.

2. Keep in touch with them as much as possible throughout the days and weeks ahead. Watch out for signs of not getting better emotionally. Do they talk about death or joining their loved on? Make sure to give them suicide hotline numbers, call their spiritual leader and ask for help or to share with them your concerns. Create a family/friend check-in schedule so that they are never alone. If no spiritual leader is involved, talk to the head of the family and let them know your concerns. You can contact a hotline as well and ask for help. In a worse case scenario, you can always call the police and ask that they check up on the family. (not 911 unless it is an emergency)

3. Stop by unannounced with food or a favorite dessert or something to drink. During the mourning process people can easily dehydrate from their emotions. If they are on medication to sleep, this can also make them lose track of time or needs. Check the medicine bottle to make sure they are using the required dosage. It will have the date it was purchased and the quantity in it. People will say they want to be left alone but they shouldn’t be. Even if you just stay long enough to see how things are. If the kitchen has not been cleaned, start washing the dishes. You can mow the grass, bring in the mail, take out the trash. Tell them you will give them their space but you are just going to help out with some odds and ends, so they don’t need to worry about it. (Leave the child’s room alone though).

4. Stop by for things you normally did together – hobbies, watching sports, taking other kids to school/activities, work-out routines. It is important that people get out of their house when they are ready. Nature is the best healing method, next to animals. Go for a walk with a family member. Ask them if they’d like to go somewhere. Maybe there is a horse ranch nearby that would allow the public to visit.

5. As time passes, don’t tell them they should get over it or to “move on.” Everyone grieves in their own timeline. Sometimes people are getting stronger but they still talk about it and they need to. Tears are healthy as it lets the emotions loose and eases somatic distress in the long run.

6. As the months progress, continue to keep in touch for at least a year. Back off as you see that things seem to be returning to a daily routine but still keep in communication as much as you can. A house can seem normal but it isn’t. Over time, people will clean their houses to cope or do outside chores but their minds are not necessarily strong yet.

7. Don’t give advice unless it is to say, do the best you can or some other positive message.

8. Don’t push religion on the family!!!! They are going through enough as it is. If they ask because they have been brought to question life, answer but don’t offer.

9. If a person speaks of seeing their loved one, even when they are very religious, don’t see this as a bad thing. This can be the most comforting to families – having dreams of the loved one or seeing them and talking to them. I have spoken to people who still get visited (on occasion) by the loved one 30 years later. If they don’t get a visit or a dream, don’t be discouraged by this either. Even Harry Houdini never came back to visit his wife and they made a pact that they would.

Friendship and family, when you love and support them unconditionally, help get people through these times and will make your relationship with them even stronger.

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Alternative Practices in Ohio

Gift of Light Expo  is coming to Columbus this March (the link shows other cities in Ohio as well). This is a nice way to get a taste of various holistic treatments by talking to those practitioners that interest you and learning more about them. Most will be doing mini sessions at low costs so you can spend the day being pampered and catered to. Many of us who became holistic practitioners began by attending these events.

I remember my first adventure at the “Whole Life Festival,” in Los Angeles in the 80’s. At that time, due to the location, I saw one up-coming and now famous actress and I watched the wife of another big celebrity write a check for something else. It was quite neat. You won’t get this in Columbus but this isn’t the point of attending. The first time I got a chance to attend something like this, I learned about a world I was just beginning to be curious about.

Back then, I had already been engaged in hatha yoga practices for a half-dozen years. I was seeing a holistic doctor and taking vitamins. At the festival, my introduction to Kundalini Yoga occurred. I spoke to a lady who owned a store called “‘Objets d’Art and Spirit,” which was on La Cienega Blvd at the time (across from the Beverly Center). It looks like she has now moved to Sunset Blvd. At her original store, we ladies gathered in the back room and awakened our Kundalini energy with various asanas and engaging in what we call “breath of fire.” This was to have a huge impact on my life.

Gift of Light Expo will also have mini workshops on various topics. There will be tarot readings, mediums and other psychics. This is a place to let your mind wander and soak up lots of unique and interesting information that you might have thought about before but weren’t sure. If you aren’t in Ohio and are reading this, check in with your own states convention centers to see when something like this will be coming to you. Or just pop down to your local occult shop or metaphysical store and ask.

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Angry Daughter, Narcissistic Mother

“In my day families stayed together,” so sayeth the character Violet, played by Meryl Streep. Violet is in denial yet at other times she is very ruthless about how horrible her mother was to her growing up. As a result of this, Violet has grown up without being nurtured by her parent, without love and an ability to trust someone. Thus we see the makings of a Narcissistic mother. In order for a child, who has grown up like Violet has, to soothe herself, she must externalize the pain and give it somewhere to go so that she can feel safe as a little girl. Then she grows up to have a family and all hell breaks loose.

In comes Barbara, her eldest daughter played by Julia Roberts. Barbara has lived a life with a woman who has never said she was sorry for anything. Barbara grew up being told she could never do anything right and thus she continued to try to do the right thing over and over again, only to fail in her mother’s eyes. Her father washed himself daily with alcohol, in an attempt to drown in his sorrows. A man can never be “the man,” in a marriage to a Narcissist. He had to defend his wife to the children he loved. A man should not be disrespectful to his wife, even if she is to him. While Barbara desperately needed her father to be there for her, he couldn’t even though he wanted to. She knew this but learned to accept that he could never be the father she craved. Her husband couldn’t play that role either. When women leave the home searching for a partner, without first finding themselves, the man they are led to is their father and those same unmet needs.

Barbara escapes to this new world with a husband. Running away can provide distance and hope. She could make herself believe anything in a world she creates all her own. The truth is there and she wants to believe it is not but over time, not having a father or mother to turn to, in times of need, the pain slowly crawls up inside her. She can’t turn to her husband either, because he doesn’t know what to say to her or how to give her the love and nurturance she so desperately craves. He continues to disappoint her and eventually she tells him, until he is so sick of hearing it that the marriage becomes a wash and the fantasy of her story continues to be passed down to her daughter. A daughter who has no empathy because she just can’t understand the years, the generations of what went wrong in her gene pool.

Barbara has come to realize finally that she is all alone, the bitterness has swelled up inside of her womb, her breath wreaking of the bile that lingers in her throat, she becomes more and more cynical over time, as reality will just not go away.

When her father takes his own life, she is forced to see herself in the mirror for the first time. She wants to believe that she is now in charge yet once again she is reminded that as long as Violet has a breath to breathe, she has no power at all. Her world crashes around her but then she drives off in the end, left to deal with the pain. The result will be that she will go off into her new world, alone with her anger and tears and the madness of living on a daily basis; knowing that she created this mess herself.

“Thank God we can’t tell the future. We’d never get out of bed.” Barbara, the angry daughter who has begun to see that her world will never change.

Unless of course, she enters into psychotherapy. Preferably with a therapist, who empathizes, too much, with the angry daughter.

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The Knight in Shining Armor

Who rides horses these days anyway? If you own them and live on a horse ranch, that is one thing but otherwise, I don’t see many of them around. The knight is a warrior who is going to be off at war somewhere, battling for power so that the king can have more land.  All those fairy tales that are beautiful to read and give young girls hope and older women goosebumps, do you ever wonder what happens the next day? Snow White, Cinderella, the guy has known them for a couple of days, sometimes it is just a kiss on the cheek and then they are thrust into this expensive wedding and the movie is over.

It was the story of Princess Diana that finally made me wake up and smell the coffee. She is the first royal fairytale that made feminist history by speaking up.

Her wedding looked exactly like all those Cinderella stories. Then we found out her husband had been sleeping with another woman before during and after their marriage. I get a stomach ache every time I see Camilla photographed with the royals these days. I want to cry as I see her holding the baby, standing there at the wedding, and Lady Di is nowhere except a ring on a finger. It is Princess Diana’s story that moves me more than any other and it is a story that should cause all of us to wake up and smell the coffee.

Mariah Carey thought she would try to imitate Princess Diana (before she was divorced) and made the designers copy the gown. This marriage ended in a divorce too. Warning: Don’t try to copy people, you don’t know what they are like on the inside.

For men I write this: When you reach out to “protect” the vulnerable woman you must realize that your arms are going to get tired over time. How long will you be able to reach out? Will it be reciprocated? Do you really want someone who needs to be taken care of, when, in this day and age, you can find someone who is your equal? This job can get really weary, when the need to be protected continues to up the ante.

Being a knight made sense in days of old when women had two choices in life 1. Marriage, 2. Spinster. There were very few jobs a woman could get and this was not acceptable to a woman of privilege.  1. Prostitute, 2. Governess, 3. Washer Woman, 4. Seamstress.  She had to choose a knight over love because if she chose love, she might end up getting a job. This story only became romantic because of writers who penned stories to put their kids to sleep at night. Perhaps it was the early manipulation of young girls by their dads, making light of the challenges ahead.

So I ask you, what is the point of continuing to chase after a man like this? The knight. Does he even exist? Usually when I deal with women whose husbands are in the military, police, air, or some other long distance travel for work, they aren’t too happy. Long distance relationships very rarely fare very well. In the age of internet, a guy and a gal can take advantage of their loneliness very easily.

Marrying a prince, King, it isn’t going to happen unless you just happen to be involved with royals or live in a tiny country. Marrying for wealth – what is his personality going to be like? He will have been raised as a spoiled child and will be rather boring in his inability to have any sense of self or pride. Since he is used to being catered too, he won’t have any knowledge of why he should take care of others – he can pay someone to give you gifts, if he even thinks about it. Of course if he doesn’t think about it, his assistant will and can explain that it is protocol and will look good if people find out he has given gifts. This guy is also a child at heart and who wants to be a babysitter?

The women he has been with will be those who are only in it for the money. You’d have to wonder what type of woman does this and should you be vaccinated ahead of time? He will do much better with someone in his own class, someone who understands him and the lifestyle. She will want to combine the wealth, build on the families power and the genes of course will produce good heirs. Don’t buy into this story about the current Duchess being a commoner. She came from a very wealthy family. She most definitely was not on the dole and she does not speak with a cockney accent. What it means is that she has no royal genes, that is all. Common people in the UK are not living the life of privilege that she has known. She does however have a sense of humility and frugality and this gives her a touching image of elegance and stability. She also seems to have excellent skills in diplomacy for the way she appears to have good relationships with her in-laws. She was definitely raised with social graces, wit and charm.

When a guy is nouveau riche, he is uncomfortable with money and either sticks it up his nose or burns holes in his pockets. A person who is new to money does not generally have any class, though I will give him some respect if he has taken training on how to behave in society. Of course there are some who were just born with common sense but don’t expect this. Intelligence and luck have got them where they are but because they have money, they want someone who is easy to deal with. This means lots of compromising – on your part.

If you are looking for the right guy, you won’t get any tips from watching television shows about trophy wives who beat each other up. Your role model won’t be girls competing to have sex with the one guy who happens to be single in the mansion either. Families who petition to get on a television show to make money 0ff of their lives have an extreme sense of entitlement and no sense of self.

You will find the right guy by looking at your self and determining what you like and don’t like in a suitable partner. You will find him by hanging out at events that you enjoy, because if he is there, he does too. You will find him because he looks at you and comes up to talk to you and has respect for you. He will continue taking the time to get to know you and will be interested in what you have to say. This isn’t a one time conversation in the back of a car it is an ongoing conversation of getting to know one another before you actually become intimate. Building a friendship is the key here.

If you absolutely must find the Knight in Shining Armor and are not paying attention to anything said here, than at least do two things – get a degree by going to college, not signing up for a class online and learn to speak another language. This puts you above most other women and provides  you with admirable skills. Men are intoxicated by intelligence. If they are not, you don’t want to be with them anyway. A man who does not find interest in a woman with capabilities, is a worthless sort who will end up nowhere in life.

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Honey vs. Vinegar – What works in Good Marriages

At this time, I am participating in learning and understanding the principles of Dr. John Gottman‘s work. I am currently reviewing and reading the first level of his home study course and wanted to share what I am learning as I go along. In this article, I want to highlight what works in a good marriage and so I summed it up by saying “Honey vs. Vinegar.” I think you will see why.

1. Good relationships have dialogue instead of gridlock with ongoing issues. In other words, arguments happen but how you argue determines whether your marriage will last, not whether or not you stop arguing (which is not going to happen). He found in his research that ONLY 31% of conflicts in a marriage will be resolved, whereas a very HIGH 69% will never be resolved. In other words, get used to it and have some humor about it thus we can see where the term “Honey Do” came from.

Example: “Honey, do you have a moment…” vs. “How many times…” or “Why isn’t…” or “I can’t believe you didn’t…”

2. Since women are generally the one’s who bring up what isn’t being done or needs to be done around the house, here is one for the men. The men who accept influence from their wives are in much happier marriages than those that do not. It is all about respecting each other.

Example: “Yes, I see your point.” or “That is a good idea.” vs. “What do you know?” Or someone who just ignores their partner altogether, whenever they offer a suggestion.

3. Acknowledgement for dealing with past obstacles. Taking the time to give each other some sort of positive reinforcement. What I like to refer to is “The One Minute Manager,” and its timeless advice: Catch them doing something right.

Example: “I really appreciated the way you handled the funeral arrangements for my father. I don’t know how I could have coped without you.” or “Thank you for making dinner tonight, I am absolutely exhausted.” vs. “Oh I hate pot roast, why did you make that, you know I hate it?” or another finding something wrong with the right “Yes, you did make those arrangements but I would have chosen the ebony colored coffin, not the cherry wood.”

Dr. Gottman says the ratio of positive to negative should be 5:1. That is a whole lot of sweetness going around.

What I see that happens is that couples come into therapy who have built up resentments for years, sometimes it only takes months and it is apparent that the collapse is on the verge of happening.  This isn’t futile but it requires some serious thinking about your relationship, values, and what you want for your future. If you are coming into therapy thinking that you are right and it is they who are wrong, and continue to approach therapy with this motto, the relationship is going to be futile.

Yes, I can empathize, I’ve made these mistakes myself in the past. It is annoying when the partner is not holding their weight and you feel like you are doing all the work. I get all of this, believe me I do. However, is this what you want? If so…if you are really really sure, that there is no one better for you then this person…then therapy means you, (even though you are sure you are right) you have to be open to the fact that your technique needs to be looked at. Both of you need to have some discussions, together in therapy about how to work on this challenge within yourselves. Otherwise, coming in week after week, saying the same thing and getting the same results…means you are wasting your money and time.

When I read this part of the home study guide, I thought about movies I had seen about southern women.  It might be stereotypical because it is a movie but the terms “Hon,” or “Shug,” or “Sweetie,” or whatever term of endearment seems to pop up over and over again never seems to be an issue in pulling the partner in. I find that couples who use terms of endearment are those I have known to last a very long time.

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Cars and Trains – Which one are you?

This weekend while taking a workshop, I learned about two different types of people. There are cars and trains. Cars are people who are flexible because they can drive down various roads, do off roads, drive around others, and drive on multiple types of road conditions and pavements. Trains are people who have to drive on a track. They are not so flexible because they can only go in one direction. They can go backwards but only with some support of the train masters who work at the stations. They can jump tracks, but this causes quite a considerable amount of stress and casualty. They can switch tracks but basically, they are going forward.

There is nothing wrong with either character trait but it is important to recognize which type of person you are as you begin or continue to build self-awareness or a sense of self.

English: An Amtrak train on the NEC in NJ, as ...

Many people who have been traumatized in life, become trains. It is part of the survival skills system that we create to feel safe. A train track is connected to something, overall it is rigid and strong. This means boundaries, stability, safety and having some power over your life. This would show up as someone who has a vision of what they want for their future. While they may switch tracks along the way, they are still very clear where they are going. It means when they do go backwards a bit, they need someone there to help guide them and show them what is needed. Perhaps this would be a teacher, tutor, older and wiser friend, parent, spouse or partner. When an obstacle gets in front of the train, the train has to make a very quick decision.

I was on a cross-country Amtrak quite a few years back and while we were sleeping, our train came upon several cows that had taken over a section of the track. Unfortunately, to the demise of this herd, it was either them or us. Having lived on a farm, I know that a cow is not going to move at the sound of a horn. You literally have to get out there and smack their behinds and yell at them to move. As we were going quite fast and they came upon us suddenly, the train conductor had to think quickly. Stepping on the brakes would have meant people flying through the air.

Train people are planners, goal setters, organizers, leaders, timekeepers, budgeters, and the like. Impatient.

An obstacle for a train character trait is almost always quite the disaster. You get settled into your seat and going in your direction and don’t like dealing with obstacles. However, as life would have it, they are always there. Realizing you have this personality, it is important to know it, love it, share this with others so they are aware of your boundaries and needs and develop skill sets on how to manage this without losing friends and lovers.

cars on freewayCars are people who have come from more easy-going households and find life is not so difficult to take. When stuff happens they get out-of-the-way or find ways to get around it. Cars take the roads as they come. They don’t necessarily need maps and atlases in the back of their cars and if they have them, it is only for the rare occasion. Cars can stop faster than trains can because they aren’t always going at quick speeds. Trains have many cars behind them, cars are on their own. Less to deal with, smaller amounts of concern. Cars can handle multiple cars on the road – lots of people in life.

Car people take the day as it comes, can switch agendas easily – if they have to have one, wait till the need arises before they act, are spontaneous, adventurous, and the like. Patient.

Car people have to work with the train people and be able to understand that not everyone is able to have the luxury, mentally speaking, to be of free will. Train people have to work with the car people by learning from them, allowing themselves to let their hair down once in a while and enjoy the ride. There are pros and cons to each of these situations, neither is the right way to be. From learning from our opposites and not staying stuck, it helps us to be more balanced in our life.

Which one are you?


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Don’t Shop this Holiday, Tell a Story

When I hear children say to me “I don’t like history, what is the point of it,” this tells me that their grandparents are not around to share the stories. Or, if they are around, they are spending too much time worrying about Black Friday rather than keeping up the traditions of old. I have also seen grandparents sitting around a restaurant table with their family, everyone on an Ipad. Where will this lead?

Holidays are not about shopping, except of course for the food to put on your table.  If you have time off this holiday season, spend quality time with your family. Make popcorn balls, bake cookies, create garlands, show off old films of childhood, bring out the photo albums and tell what is happening in the photo or do scrap booking. Indulge your children now – while you can – in a holiday classic they won’t soon forget. The memory of the [insert surname] family traditions that they can pass down to their own loved ones some day. What children really need more than anything is love.

The movie above is a Dylan Thomas film about a grandfather sharing a story of holidays past with his grandson. It is rich in history and filled with the warmth of love you could hope for in such a touching Welsh classic. This film is available on Amazon and you can view it here or on You Tube itself. A rare film to find and one you will want to add to your list of classics to show each season.

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