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You CAN Go Home Again

Sis and I recently went back to our hometown for our 40th high school reunion. And what did we discover?! That you can go home again.

Manhattan Beach Pier

The Manhattan Beach Pier looks about the same as it did in 1976, except for the plaques honoring famous local volleyball players.

Well, sort of. We probably couldn’t afford to buy back into Hermosa Beach real estate prices, but we could definitely enjoy living there and rekindling many of our high school friendships.

Would you ever return to your hometown for a visit? #FitFluential #MidlifeBlvd Click To Tweet
Film lights in Hermosa Beach

A lot of film people live in Hermosa, so it’s no surprise to see movie lighting on the Strand.

Whether it’s a high school reunion or something else that draws you back to your hometown, I definitely recommend it if you have positive memories of the place, especially after 40 years. Prior to going to the evening reunion, we wandered around town a bit, taking a few pictures, and reminiscing about our past. Mostly I think we bored my niece with our “that’s where our dentist used to be,” and “this is the hill where I learned to skateboard” kind of narrative.

Mira Costa cookies

Mira Costa High School Mustangs – in cookie form at the 40th reunion.

sailboat off the Hermosa Beach pier

Sailboats on a warm day in Hermosa Beach, taken from the end of the pier.

In any case, enjoy these pictures from our stroll down Hermosa Beach Memory Lane. And let us know a memory or two from your high school days.

View to the north from the pier

View to the north of the Hermosa Beach Pier on a warm weekend day.

 

helicopter flying over lifeguard tower at the beach

22nd Street Beach is the beach where we hung out when we were kids.

Alexandra Williams, MA

5

Exercise, Confidence, and Attractiveness

Does exercise make you feel more confident and attractive? According to research, the answer is Yes.

happy friendsIn 2014, Mayo Clinic released a study that stated, “Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.”

Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Click To Tweet

And the journal Evolution and Human Behavior did an analysis that noted, “this study provides limited empirical evidence that more facially attractive people (N = 100) may be physically healthier than unattractive people.” Makes me wonder if the reverse is true – are healthier people more facially attractive?

In both my education and writing career, I use (and respect) good research, yet I wonder how much culture influences our self-perception of our attractiveness.

Grove of tressI am especially wondering this lately, as I recently went on a walk with one of my best friends. I’ve known her for over 30 years, and she has always been considered attractive. I find her to be still attractive, and have assumed she had the same opinion. She exercises regularly and is very disciplined about her health habits. Yet (after a 6-mile hike together), she mentioned being frustrated about her weight and “unattractiveness.” I put it in quotes because I strongly disagree with her, so refuse to give it legitimacy.

According to research, all her exercise and healthy habits should lead to her feeling pretty dang good about herself. Yet that definitely wasn’t the case. If she were in Russia or Greece (or most any other country), she’d be the cultural ideal (think blond hair, blue eyes and Marilyn Monroe curvy). Yet here in the U.S. we still reward women who are size 0 (how can someone be a null and actually exist) or 4. The average U.S. woman is size 12, so quite clearly reality and cultural expectations are not in sync.

Do you judge yourself by your smiles or by your weight? Why accept outdated cultural norms? Click To Tweet

This makes me sad. Women, whether your age is 35 or 55, do you judge yourself unfairly, with an emphasis on looks? How often do you judge yourself based on your health? I have several friends with lifelong issues (MS, Hashimoto’s), yet every day they work really hard to have good health. To me, they are attractive because their faces reflect their determination, spirit and feistiness.

post-exerciseBe honest, do you judge yourself by your smiles or by your weight? Why do we accept outdated cultural norms? Why do we compare ourselves to our 25-year-old selves? How can we possibly win against unrealistic opponents such as these?

When I was a grad student in systemic counseling, we learned the expression “Fake it till you make it.” It was advice for our clients, based on cognitive-behavioral theory. I think it’s good advice, and I use it on myself.

Here’s how – My “resting” face is more of a frown than a smile. I don’t have the classic nose, cheeks, eyes or chin that our culture says is beautiful. Yet I don’t want to be 75 and wish I’d appreciated my 50-year-old self. When I was 50 I regretted not appreciating my 25-year-old self, and vowed not to do that to myself anymore. So I tell myself NOW that I’m good-looking. I work on my posture, which is an easy way to look more confident. And if you look more confident, you feel more confident. “Fake it till you make it” in action. I pose for lots of photos and I smile in them all. Then I post the best ones online so other people can comment about how much fun I’m having. My brain hears that and the repetition makes it part of my self-concept that I have a fun life. When someone tells me I look great, I say, “I agree (except on genuinely bad photos, such as a recent close-up of my sweaty nose).”

Alexandra in West Berlin 1983

See how adorable I was at 25? Yet, no smile. I thought I was ugly.

Vista Point, Palm Springs

The is me now – the cutest cutie-pie you ever did see. Because I’m smiling.

Focus on good posture. If you look more confident, you'll feel more confident. Click To Tweet

If I tell myself I’m attractive, fun and confident, that’s what I’ll exude. And that’s how I’ll be perceived. So this post is dedicated to my truly beautiful friend, and I hope every woman who reads this thinks I’m talking to her. Dear ________, you are attractive, fun, and confident. It will make me very happy if you would do me the honor of agreeing.

ACTION: Now, get out there and kick some ass. And subscribe while you’re at it. You’ll look, feel, and move better for it.

Alexandra Williams, MA

Photo credit for birthday party: Ross Barrett.

FYI, none of the fabulous women in these photos are the friend I mentioned, though they are all definite hotties too.

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14

Live Better with Meditation, Menopause, and Memory

Longevity, Memory, and Mood Benefits of Meditation

Rancho la Puerta flowers and statues

Who wants a solution to reduce menopause symptoms, decrease stress, minimize weight gain, improve memory, and even boost longevity?

Kymberly: Those who know what a high energy, chatty, loquacious, interactive mover and groover I am will be surprised to hear the answer coming from me. (Or not, as you already saw this post’s title. Menopause might make us forgetful, but not stoopid.)

 Anyone else find menopause a little stressful? In the award winning category of  “Stating the Obvious,” menopause stress can contribute to memory loss and weight gain. As in, “I sure don’t remember gaining those 30 pounds.”

The “No Exercise Plan” to Live Longer, Leaner, and Kinder

Anyway… turns out Meditation can turn back the hands of time and pounds. Additionally meditation has even been proven to make us nicer, kinder, more compassionate people. (Hear that hubster? I’m not menopot moody. I’m meditation deprived). If you want to breathe more life into yourself, read our post on meditation lite). Also check out my Tip #3  in our post “10 Ways to Get Healthier in Under 10 Minutes.”

Just a few daily minutes of meditation can calm us, reduce stress, and slow our heart rate. Sounds a lot like the benefits of exercise, right? But without moving! Meditation may also reverse the effects of aging on the brain. It thickens the prefrontal cortex, the area of brain that helps with planning and attention. For people with memory loss, meditation helps increase memory via more blood flow to brain. But wait, there’s more! Meditation also decreases our body’s stress hormones, heals our wounds faster, and lowers our blood pressure.

Meditation may reverse the effects of aging on the brain Click To Tweet
Which twin has the longer telomeres? Not telling!

Which twin has the longer telomeres? Not telling!

Longer Telomeres = Longer Life; Tell It Telomeres!

Factor in recent studies that show meditation increases telomere length, and you have your longevity, happier life bonus plan! In the DNA world, telomeres are the little plastic pieces on the end of our chromosome shoelaces. The longer your telomeres, the longer your life span. Short telomeres accelerate aging and correlate to a shorter life. People who meditate daily for at least four years have longer telomeres than those who do not meditate. For ten added quality years of life, be the first to enter the word in the comments for that plastic shoelace piece without having to google it. Hint: It starts with an “a.”

I’ll take an order to go please of a young, long-living brain garnished with my years of experience. Since I have big plans to be around four years from now, I might as well get on that telomere lengthening program.

Meditation Room at Rancho la Puerta

Meditation Room at Rancho la Puerta

Meditation Options: From Silent to Guided

On when of my guest teaching trips to Rancho la Puerta Fitness Resort, I decided to attend three meditation classes. Loved them! Not only did I stay still and quiet for record time (ok, half an hour for each), but also I have stuck with meditation since coming home. More on that later in this post. Remember to keep reading!

The sessions were totally different from each other: one was a guided visualization that the instructor talked us through from start to finish. Another was a silent meditation with the instructor giving directions and suggestions at the start, then setting a timer that lulled us back at the end. The third had verbal guidance that segued into soft music and nature sounds. All three meditations left me revved, calmed, and focused enough to learn more. One thing the Ranch teachers stressed — perhaps better to say “emphasized” — is that meditation comes in many forms and styles. Pick one or a few approaches that resonate with you, as there is no right or wrong way. We reap the active aging benefits regardless, in as short as seven hours in some cases.

Support Your New Habit with Meditation Apps

10 Minute Meditation App

Meditate Now App

Meditation App Calm

My current fave: Calm

Since I am a meditation novice I asked one teacher whether having phone apps would help. Cha Ching – Ohmmm! That got a resounding thumbs up, heart rates down as a good idea! As soon as I crossed the border back into the U.S. (also known as “covered rate plan for my cell phone”), I downloaded “Relax and Rest,” “Take a Break,” “Calm,” and “Meditate Now.” All are free. So far my favorite is “Calm” as it offers verbal guidance and a 7 day progressive program. My mind wanders less when I have a voice calling me back from my mental to-do lists, thoughts of the past and future, and sleep’s siren call. Try them if you have a smart phone and are wanting to reap meditation benefits. Heck, you may end up with a youthful, sleek, brainy phone once you download these apps!

I am on Day 6 of meditation, with some sessions lasting 5 minutes, others hitting an ambitious 13! So far I have noticed a bit more ability to focus and my creativity has been on the upswing. I thought of this post title after meditating, for one thing! Now to be nice to my sister. Might need those four years of meditative practice first. snarfle snark

Alexandra relaxing at Rancho la Puerta

Alexandra looking memorable if not meditative

Alexandra: I was going to meditate, but I forgot. Maybe next time.

Use meditation to help you remember to subscribe to our blog. We come to you twice a week with professional, proven, active aging advice.

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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

 

25

Fit Over 50? Achieve it with These 6 Age Specific Tips

unlock these locks to be more fit over 50

Unlock 6 Secrets to Aging Well

Do you want to be fit at 50 (plus any bonus years)? The aging population is big and getting bigger as we baby boomers continue our march, hop, skip, and jump into the next decade. Is one of your goals to be fit over 50? Do you plan to continue working out while anticipating and minimizing stresses on your “not getting any younger” body? But how?

Based on 1) our group fitness teaching experience, 2) educational events we attend focused on serving the needs of women over 50, over 60,  and other active older adults, and 3) Kymberly’s certification as a Functional Aging Specialist, we suggest the following:

Exercise to slow down aging

Hang On a Sec, or a Dec…ade!

Minimize Ab Exercises that Depend on Head Lifting

1) Reduce ab work that requires forward spinal flexion such as crunches. Decades of hunched posture and rounded shoulders take a toll on the spine. Look for opportunities to strengthen your abs that do not require more forward curvature. So long “old lady” back hump; hello stronger abs and a more comfy neck! Reverse curls, planks, and abs exercises that keep your head on the floor and lower spine protected are great options.

Reverse curls and planks protect your spine while strengthening your abs. Click To Tweet

Want to see one of those options? Then head over to Abs and Core Exercises Safe for the Lower Back. Eager to get more for your core? Read this post as well: Get Ultimate Abs: Better Yet, a Strong Core.  In fact, if you want heaps of No Crunch moves designed for the young at heart, but older in body, click this link to a program we created: The Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50

The ability to hop or jump, even if low and close minimizes risk of falling. Click To Tweet
Try Side Planks with Stability Balls to be Fit over 50

Forward Looking, But No Forward Flexion

Create Instability to Increase Stability

2) Integrate stability ball activities into your exercise program. The ball is a great tool, as you can do both cardio and toning with it. For example, did you know you can lie on your back and relax your head while doing an exercise to strengthen your obliques?

Take a look at this video for ideas:

Obliques Side-to-Side Abs Exercise with the Stability Ball: Right and Wrong Way to “Trim the Waist.”

Here at Fun and Fit: Active Aging Answers for Boom Chicka Boomers, we love anything that combines lying down with exercise. No, we don’t mean what you just thought! Hmm, come to think of it, having sleek abs and a strong core can improve your sexy status. Again we suggest you take advantage of our “Ultimate Abs” digital product.Ultimate Abs binder image

Consider Your Transitions from Floor to Feet

3) Organize your workout from standing to sitting to kneeling to lying down or vice versa in order to minimize the times you get up and down from the floor. Having said that, do practice coming from lying to standing as part of your workout. You can even make this an exercise. Try going from standing to sitting to standing without putting a hand on the floor and you’ll see what we mean.

This ability is so important that we made a short video about it for you. Watch and test yourself with the: Sitting to Rising Test. Not so easy was it?

Add Power Back Into Your Day

4) Integrate two-footed take-offs and landings into your activities. The ability to hop or jump, even if low and close minimizes risk of falling. Most people stop jumping and doing any power moves as they age. However, unless joint pain precludes even small jumps, having power becomes more important for injury prevention with age. Click this link to see more on power training and avoiding falls.

The ability to hop or jump minimizes risk of falling. Click To Tweet
Flowers at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Resort

We Said “Boomin’ and With It,” not “Bloomin’ Idiots.”  Darn Hearing Issues!

Ask Yourself Whether Any Senses are Slowing or Going

5) Note any changes in your capabilities and account for them in your workout plan.  For instance, is your vision deteriorating? Could that be affecting your balance given the role sight plays in staying upright and balanced? If so, incorporate more balance training into your exercise program.

Tone Down Turns and Twists

6) For cardio training, maximize movements that take you forwards, backwards, and sideways. However, cut down on quick turns, pivots, and sharp direction changes. Such moves can throw you off balance and tax your knee joints if you cannot anticipate them to react with perfect form.

Doing power moves & 2 footed hops becomes more important for injury prevention with age Click To Tweet

If you are a fitness pro who wants to work with baby boomers and “matures”, this magazine article, What Older Adults Want  by Alexandra will tell you what older adults desire from their teacher.

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Sign up to start "youthifying" today.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

5

Ready for Some TransformAging?

TransformAging webinar seriesIf all goes well, you will age. How you grow older is largely under your control and  a result of choices you make. Are you ready to transform yourself to a more fit, energetic, beautiful you?

Then mark your calendar now for the afternoon and evening of June 3-4 when we host our first webinar, TransformAging.  You will have free access to top fitness professionals who specialize in the movement needs of midlife women.

Are you wanting to start a movement program but get overwhelmed? Fallen off the workout wagon and having trouble hitching yourself back up? Thought back to the exercises you used to do and though “hayul no, that sounds too painful and intense now that I am in my second half of life”?  Yet you still want to enjoy all that life has to offer, in a comfortable, sensible way?

Then TransformAging is the webinar for you!

Web and maze

Enter our web! Be A-Mazed!

Billy Preston might sing in your eager ear that,

“Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’

You gotta have somethin’ if you wanna be with me, that’s right, ha yea

Gotta have somethin’ if you wanna be with me

You gotta bring me somethin’ girl, if you wanna be with me.”

Our expert panel will bring strategies, pro tips, and shortcuts to your awesomesauceness ; you bring your attention and questions. You pay nothin’ but you get somethin’! Something super special, such as:

  • Actual results.
  • Movement programs and exercises that are specifically designed for women who have stared down youthful 6-pack abs and said “pffft, give me an 8 pack without a menopot and I’ll be happy.”
  • Old Fashioned Whoop AssGuidance to show your partners, grown kids, hormones who’s boss.
  • Secret strategies for stuff that starts with “S.” ……….   Such as supplementation and skin care. What did you think I meant?

Session titles for the webinar series include:

(Go ahead and click on each person’s link. You’ll be impressed by these experts!)

  1. (Re)Starting Fitness After 50 with Yours Truly, K and A
  2. Never Grow Old!  Functional Exercise Strategies for Making the NEXT 50 years BETTER than the first! Brought to you by THE top Functional Movement Specialists, Dan Ritchie, PhD and his co-hort, Cody Sipe, PhD
  3. Midlife Weight Gain, Hormones, and Menopot: Strategies for Staying Slim Without Losing Your Sanity with Tamara Grand, PhD, whose interview on this subject ranked FIRST with our former Voice America radio show.
  4. Resistance Training: Your After 50 Easy Weight Management Program brought to you by the highly qualified, quite funny, action-oriented, fitness pro, Debra Atkinson
  5. Supplementation and Skincare to Transform Aging Inside & Out: What’s Really Needed? From north of the US borders comes Mo Hagan, an award-winning, internationally known presenter whose passion is elevating baby boomer women.
  6. Age Be Damned brought to you by Colin Milner, CEO and founder of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), who squeezed us in between globetrotting speaking engagements and whose stats and humor you will enjoy.
Mom swinging in Nepal

If our mom can swing into action, so can you!

Need we say more? Probably, but you have enough now to raise your heart rate and to keep your June 3-4 evenings open. You’ll get notification soon on how to register (remember we used that magic word “free”). That is to say that if you already are a subscriber you’ll get registration details from us very soon. Very soon, grasshoppers!  If you are not yet a subscriber, then subscribe! Good golly, you’ll get great fitness solutions targeted to your baby boomer needs plus the insider track to achieve greater midlife goodness!

Share this post if you have friends seeking some TransformAging! Have them join you online June 3-4 for this special webinar series.

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

6

Father’s Day: Happiness, Love and Health

Alexandra Williams, MA

Father & DaughterWhat does Father’s Day have in common with exercise? Is there a link between movement and how positively your view your life and relationships?

Sunday was the designated day to celebrate fathers. If your father is alive and you get along, then it’s a day of love and appreciation. If your father is no longer alive or you are estranged, then it’s a day that seems to highlight that loss.

Yesterday morning I went to the memorial service for the father of a friend of mine. In the afternoon I called my own dad, with whom I am quite close. In the evening I watched as my son did chores he knew would make his dad happy.

As the circle of life (curse you, Lion King for co-opting this phrase; I prefer Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game” ) is on my mind, I got to thinking about what this means to us boomers. More memorial services, more taking on of responsibilities by grown children, more contemplation on love, happiness and longevity.

A Paddle Out Memorial Service to Honor a Man Who Doted on His Daughter

A Paddle Out Memorial Service to Honor a Man Who Doted on His Daughter

Sometimes I get sad, thinking about the few years I have left with my dad, or the fact that my kids are on the path to leaving this home and creating their own. But getting sad just makes me feel stuck and powerless. So I try to think instead of the many years I’ve had with my dad and how much we’ll enjoy the ones still left to us. And I think of the pride I feel, seeing my boys make their way as contributing world citizens. That makes me feel hopeful and happy. And I go for walks. Those really clear my “stuck” moods. Which is good for my health!

According to the Mayo Clinic,  physiological and emotional links between movement and happiness have been established. And the exercise doesn’t have to be hardcore; it can be softcore. Hmmm, that sounds slightly off. In any case, gardening, strolling or washing the car (anything that’s movement) counts. Exercise can:

Release feel-good brain chemicals (neurotransmitters and endorphins)
Reduce depression-related immune system chemicals
Increase body temperature, which may have calming effects
Help you gain confidence as you meet exercise goals or challenges, even small ones
Improve your assessment of your appearance
Take your mind off worries.
Increase your chances to chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
Help you cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive is a healthy coping strategy.

Additionally, life satisfaction increases when you exercise. Not only is that good news for me, it’s especially relevant to my college-aged son, as his age group is at the most risk for life dissatisfaction. So, my happiness goes up if I exercise, and my worry-warting goes down if he exercises! Win Win!

sound of music photo: sound of music the_sound_of_music.jpgSo go for a walk! Or wash the car. Better yet, wash MY car. My happiness will definitely go up. And in case you’re wondering – I took my own advice and went for a hike up the mountain this morning. The views helped contribute to my feeling of joy as I walked above the fog blanket. And it’s fun to do the “Sound of Music” spin when I near the mountain top. Try it. You’ll feel loved, lovely and loving. Just try not to burst out singing, “The hills are alive….” when bicyclists are passing. It might make them crash.

What do you do to make yourself happy?

I dedicate this post to my friend Caitlin and wish her many joyous memories of her dad.

 

Photo of Julie Andrews courtesy of Photobucket

While spinning and singing, subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness and health. So satisfying! Have you subscribed yet to our blog?  Please also follow us on Google+: Alexandra and Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

 

 

6

Brain Envy: Be Thinner, Smarter & Happier

Dr Amen at IDEA Convention with K and A Brain envy time

Dr. Amen is amazed at our brains!

Do you have brain envy? Even better, would you like others to have brain envy of you? We do! We just got back from the annual IDEA international fitness convention and found all kinds of interesting stuff to share with you. Dr. Daniel Amen, author of “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body” and 27 other books gave a lecture called “The Secrets to Being Thinner, Smarter and Happier.” Want to know those secrets?

Alexandra: The brain is linked so strongly to what you eat and how much you move that its size, shape and function actually change. As your weight goes up, your brain size goes down. You do NOT want to become a victim of Dinosaur Syndrome – big body, little brain = extinct! Sadly, the brains of obese people look 16 years older in scans than they are. And Dr. Amen showed a picture of a very healthy 82 year-old brain, so age does not guarantee brain deterioration.

Dinosaurs had tiny brains and Brain envy

Dino Syndrome: Big Body / Little Brain = Extinct

Kymberly: However, having a birthday this weekend guarantees age! Only 6 more shopping days until twinnie’s birthday. I hope she gets some new dendrites, ganglia, and neurotransmitters for her big day.

Having read 6 of Dr. Amen’s books, I developed serious brain envy, so for my birthday I plan to work out and eat healthfully. Right after the small piece of chocolate cake. I want to do what it takes to stave off any mental decline and have the heaviest, most active brain possible into my 90s and beyond!  My real birthday wish is for you all to have the same!

A: The mind controls the body, not the other way round. It’s your brain that tells you it’s okay to eat a second helping of ice cream, and it’s also your brain that tells you to push away from the table.

Tips to help you put your brain consciously in control:

  • Get rid of as much sugar in your diet as possible. Research has shown sugar to be more addictive than cocaine. And guess where sugar is usually found – in high-fat junk food!
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. When you get less than 7 hours, you have lower blood flow to the brain.
  • Say no to liquid poison. Alcohol is not your friend. If you drink every day, your brain gets smaller. Alcohol penetrates the blood/ brain barrier and literally acts like a poison within your brain.
  • When making decisions about food and movement, ask yourself, “Does this hurt or help my brain?” When you are making these choices consciously, it’s hard to believe you’d choose to hurt yourself.
Does your lifestyle enhance your brain power or detract from it? Click To Tweet
  • Move more. Sit less.
  • Meditate, do yoga, go for a walk–anything that calms your mind. When you are troubled, you are more likely to have a troubled brain and body.
  • Avoid eating excess fat, which has exactly the same effect as eating toxins. Do you want toxins?
  • Keep a food journal.
  • Engage in new learning.
  • Make yourself aware of which friends or relatives help you, and which ones sabotage you. Plan accordingly.
  • Write down your motivation and look at it every day.

K: So, does your lifestyle enhance your brain power or detract from it? Remember, the choices you make today affect your brain TODAY and into the future. Hey, if my brain is the ultimate controller, why does Alexandra keep saying she’s in charge?

Choices you make today affect your brain TODAY & into the future Click To Tweet

Dear readers: This seems like a perfect moment to direct you to our TrasnsformAging webinar slides and recordings. If you are ready to improve your brain and body, click to see what’s on the other side.

Dino photo: Creative Commons

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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