Domestic Violence & Firearms

Domestic violence refers to acts of abuse, physical or emotional for example, against one person by the other in a mutual relationship such as a spouse or intimate partner. But it may also involve acts against parents or children. In the majority of cases, it involves acts perpetrated against females, but this does not mean that men are never victims.

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In terms of physical abuse, methods could include using fists or some type of weapon to inflict hurt and pain to the victim. The choice of weapon can include a knife, cutlass, piece of furniture, a bat, a household tool, acid, a stone, a gun or almost anything on which the assailant can lay his or her hand.

According to Trinidadian criminologist, Dr. Randy Seepersad,  domestic violence “includes, but is not limited to, kicking, shoving, pushing, slapping, clubbing, stabbing, shooting, or verbal and psychological terrorization of the individual concerned. As well as causing physical damage, domestic violence can lead to psychological distress and trauma, with effects possibly lasting a lifetime.”

Classification of physical trauma may include blunt force trauma or penetrating trauma.

The first, blunt force trauma refers to injuries that occur at the surface of the body but which may or may not lead to deeper levels of injury including bone fractures.

Penetrating trauma is injury that occurs when an external object breaks the surface of the skin and enters the body, for example when a bullet bores into someone.

Penetrating trauma is associated with the use of firearms. Firearms are weapons that can be carried by hand and inflict wounds by utilizing missiles or small projectiles such as bullets or fragments that possess sufficient kinetic energy to penetrate living tissue.

The type and extent of injury inflicted depends two main factors: the dynamics of the projectile and the local reaction of the tissue under attack.

Generally all firearms are made up with a tube of variable length called the barrel. Within the barrel is an area, called the chamber, that contains the cartridge of ammunition, the bullet, a propellant and a primer.

When the trigger is pulled, the propellant undergoes combustion, a reaction that is highly exothermic ( a lot of energy is given off). This helps to develop a high pressure due to the presence of expanding gases in the chamber and causes the bullet to be accelerated down the barrel.

As the bullet leaves the firearm, it spins and yaws (moves from side to side along the main axis of the trajectory). The amount of kinetic energy transferred by the bullet to the tissue and the angle at which the bullet enters the tissue determine the extent and nature of the injury.

The types of injuries received by women as a result of domestic violence result from some of the most gruesome violent attacks. The statistics internationally on acts against women are staggering. [Please note that this is not a comprehensive study on domestic violence but one that focuses on the use of firearms to commit acts of domestic violence.]

Strangulation seems to be a common means for murder in this context. Beatings by hand or the use of some other tool, use of acid or knife may leave the victim with significant signs of battering. The victim may end up in the hospital needing stitches, painkillers, surgery and other medical assistance.

The use of firearms in domestic violence raises the bar. With a gun or firearm, the capacity to kill is greatly enhanced.

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Empirical evidence provided by American criminologist, Franklin Zimring, points to the conclusion that whether a victim lives or dies in an attack depends on the lethality of the weapon with which the first two strikes are made.

A firearm is a tool designed for destruction. Any tool that makes a task easier will encourage that task to be done more frequently and with greater probability of success.

Thus, the ready availability of firearms, internationally and locally, make them an increasingly more popular choice for domestic violence with the accompanying more appalling and lethal results.

What this says then, is that violence with the use of a firearm is heavily weighted in favour of murder as opposed to violence using weapons with less capacity to kill.

Violence of any type is unwanted and unnecessary. Domestic violence, violence against “loved” ones, is abhorrent. Domestic violence with the use of a firearm is sure to result in critical wounding or fatality.

We must make efforts to stem the tide of violence resulting from frustration, anger, lack of coping skills and the need for control and immediate acquisition of wealth or property.

We need to do all that we can as a nation to remove firearms from our streets and homes, to make them less easily accessible.

It is alarming that the man on the street who may be experiencing domestic problems or who is either a criminal or potential criminal can easily obtain an illegal firearm while persons seeking through legitimate channels to obtain licensed firearms have great difficulty accessing same.

I do not endorse the possession of firearms, legally or illegally.

Reducing the volume of available guns, reduces the chance of violence that results in fatalities.

Saturating every aspect of school life with character development programmes is highly recommended for long term and sustainable crime prevention. This can lead to reduction in anger, frustration, self-absorption and lack of respect for self, others and life and to an increase in modes of conflict management, leading to decreased violent responses.

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Christmas time again

It has been some time since I wrote here…yet it seems that the time has sped past so quickly.

Today one of our local radio talk show hosts and political activist, Barrington “Skippy” Thomas is at hospital. He was shot in both legs during a robbery last night.

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Our beloved country is a haven for indiscriminate acts of violence by criminals. Men with guns have acquired a false sense of courage with this extension of their manhood.

Take away the gun and watch how easily they will whimper at the slightest threat, perceived or real.

I am saddened that it has come to this but we cannot lose hope that every positive action can still have a significant effect.

These criminals need to experience justice in its true form, not the perfunctory attempt at it that seems to be the case in Trinidad.

Beyond that we need to be able to reach our young men and women so that we can offer them alternatives to crime and violence that are meaningful. Alternatives that show them how their negative actions can redound to their own family members.

This post was not intended to be about gun violence but it seems that, much as I try to compartmentalize my different functions, I am unable to disconnect them.

My intention today was to remind you folks about my two books that are so great as Christmas gifts. These two books explore the effects of gun violence in the life of a victim. They are both written to imbue hope and to inspire others into change processes.

One of the books, Bounce Back Better, provides valuable guidance for persons seeking to rebuild their lives after experiencing some life setbacks. It is also the foundational text for a crime prevention programme, Touching Minds, Saving Lives.

If you are concerned about the spiraling statistics for violence, particularly gun violence, then take a leap of faith and be a part of the solution.

Purchase a copy or copies of each of the two books, From Lion to Lamb and Bounce Back Better as gifts for young persons especially or for someone who is going through a tough time.

You may call me at 1-868-370-4086 or buy them online at amazon.com

 

Peace not Violence

We have all been in conflict at some time, with someone. Conflict is not unusual. In fact our very individuality is what leads to conflict. Differences in beliefs, values, customs, cultures or opinions are bound to occur because of our unique combinations of personality, intellect, emotions and spirituality.

This is not a bad thing. Conflict however, becomes a problem if we do not learn or know how to manage it. In managing conflict we are able to agree to disagree as the saying goes. Unbridled conflict on the other hand, can easily become unmanageable and lead to violence.

To avoid violence arising from conflict that is not tempered with reason and compassion, we need to resort to a variety of skills and talents, some of which can be taught and learnt.

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Skills to side step violence and lead to peaceful resolutions include critical thinking, thinking before acting, listening compassionately, responding with respect even if you are in disagreement with someone and of course, genuine love for people that overrides the urge to dislike or hate a person because of a difference in opinion.

As Martin Luther King Jr. elegantly put it, “You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.

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Adopt an attitude of love, compassion, humility, respect and peace today. Refuse to hate anyone because they are different than you.

 

 

 

Bounce Back Better: Build Social Networks

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking sites have large followings. This is a reflection of the basic need of human beings for love and fellowship as well as the need to feel as part of something bigger than ourselves.

We are social creatures. We need each other, to form strong bonds. We need the safety net of social support systems when other areas of our lives come crashing down.

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Several years ago a home was burnt to ashes, leaving the family with no possessions. All clothing, food, school supplies, appliances and everything else in the house were destroyed.

There was an outpouring of love from a variety of persons. This love was practical, consisting of donations of food and other supplies. It came from other relatives, community members, friends and well-wishers, their children’s school fraternities, local government representatives and churches.

The family had all the support they needed to survive, eventually re-build a home and to carry on with life in a relatively short time. The ability of that family to withstand and overcome their adverse situation was greatly enhanced by their external support systems.

Similarly, when natural disasters strike, nations come together to assist those undergoing the misfortune. When Haiti and the Dominican Republic were hit by separate hurricanes some years ago, the Government and people of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago graciously and generously assisted them.

The point is that we do not exist in isolation. We need to support each other and we need support from others to survive and thrive.

By working and playing together, our bodies produce hormones such as dopamine and serotonin that promote feelings of well being.

Supportive networks help us differentiate between what is and is not important.

Through our interactions with diverse people, we learn and improve skills that help us stay afloat during difficult times.

Just as we are advised to back up our computer systems, we need to build relationships as our human back-up systems  when tragedy strikes.

Tell me, do you have a strong support network?

6 Ways to Feel Great, Even When Things Are Not So Great.

We all have good days and bad. Some of us spend many hours lost in the mental haze of sadness, exclusion and depression.

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At critical points in our lives, we experience the heartache of a breakup, loss of a loved one, loss of a house or car or job.

It may even be that we become terminally ill or have a chronic disease or become seriously injured through an accident or crime.

Yet some people seem to be energized whether things are going good or bad. How do they do it?

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Apparently apart from adopting a positive attitude, there are ways that we can ensure we feel good although our situation may not be good.

I have found this works for me (when I do follow it). Sometimes though it is easy to lapse into laziness or complacency and not practice the steps diligently. This takes away from the feeling of being on top of the world in spite of all that may be going wrong in your corner.

  1. Eating properly

Most of us know in theory what types of foods our bodies need. The question is how many of us actually take our high school nutritional education into account when eating?

We all need to eat from the following main food groups – fresh fruits and vegetables; fish, meat products and eggs or soy products for vegans; peas and beans;  whole grain or high fiber cereals; ground provisions; and milk and milk products or substitutes.

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Of importance, is the need for us to blend our foods in the correct proportions for optimum uptake of nutrients for cellular requirements.

 

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2.  Supplementing your diet

Over the many years of farming agricultural land, soils have become severely depleted.

So the fresh foods available to us in these times are in many instances, highly fertilized and treated with herbicides, pesticides and other potentially toxic chemicals.

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Our so called fresh foods are lacking in key and trace nutrients. To be proactive and take responsibility for your nutritional health, consider supplementing your diet.

Dietary supplements include:

  • vitamins
  • minerals
  • herbals and botanicals which provide phytonutrients
  • amino acids
  • enzymes.

Important questions to consider when supplementing would include, what to take, when to take it, in what combinations should supplements be taken and the use of water rather than other liquids for consuming them.

3.  Hydrating

Many of us, I know I do, forget to drink sufficient water during the course of the day. Our bodies are made up mostly of water. So it is vital that we drink water to replace what is lost through perspiration or excretion for example.

But not only water is lost during these processes. Electrolytes are those vital chemicals needed for proper functioning of our heart, kidneys, nervous and muscular systems among other functions. These electrolytes are soluble in water. This means that when we lose water from the body, we lose electrolytes.

It is vital for us to replace the electrolytes as well as the water.

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When hydrating the body, we need to drink lots of water as well as electrolytes. An extremely good isotonic drink or good natural source of electrolytes is coconut water.

4.  Fasting occasionally

Eating and drinking are critical for life. However sometimes the body becomes overworked and overloaded.

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To compensate for these times, controlled fasting is necessary. Fasting times help eliminate toxins and gives the body time to recover after periods of “abuse”.

5.  Sufficient rest and sleep

We live in times where we never seem to have enough  time to do the things we feel we have to do. This leads to sacrificing our sleep time to complete tasks, watch television, catch up on social media or meet deadlines.

But, our bodies are like machines. They need to be cared for like we look after our cars or computers. One of the ways to keep the machinery well oiled for us is to get sufficient rest and proper sleep.

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Different people have different sleep needs. Determine your optimum amount and strive to attain that everyday.

6.  Exercise

Finally, having eaten, supplemented, drank, fasted and rested properly, we need to exercise.

Exercise produces “feel good” hormones. It eliminates toxins. It tones our muscles and increases our energy levels. It may also be a time for socialization or reflection.

Exercise should include cardiovascular activities, resistance training and flexibility training.

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Of course if you are over forty, like I am, consult a professional before beginning a new programme of exercise.

For more information on these steps, you may read Chapter 4 in my book, Bounce Back Better, 10+1 Key Steps for Building Resilience.

Let me know if you feel great even when you are not so great.

Zebra 101, Stark Contrasts!

Perhaps for me the most outstanding memory of being in Cape Town, South Africa, was the extremes between rich and poor. And perhaps most noticeable was that in as much as some things were different, some things were so similar to home.

The stark differences between the townships, like our local Beetham, and the residential areas was heartrending. Particularly when I viewed District 6 a few days later and saw the areas from which the people were relocated to the townships.

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The cultured speech and bearing of our driver was another contrast as he was well dressed, driving a Mercedes Benz van and going home to his makeshift room in a township.

The townships there in Cape Town consisted of three types of dwellings. There were the houses built by the government, very small and inadequate mind you.  There were the leased rooms  by those who had government houses and there were rented rooms that were like squatters rooms.

The squatters have started building two storey galvanised dwellings as space is definitely a problem in the townships.

My heart was filled with compassion. It is so difficult to see the conditions under which some of us have to dwell. It exists here in Trinidad too. It is so easy to judge others and yet it becomes so difficult to judge when their challenges are considered.

On the one hand though there are people who work hard and honestly to improve themselves and their families. On the other, there are those who turn to crime as a means of survival. What makes one person work assiduously with integrity and another become a criminal?

I was so moved by the performances of some of the young people that we were privileged to witness. We had spoken word performances, singing, musical entertainment, dance and an instrumental performance using buckets and drumsticks only!

Wow!! That is the best sentiment I can offer. Thank goodness my socks were only figuratively blown off. The centre at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens was unheated. I was the only person who had on gloves but I was still extremely cold.

The others suffered in silence except for when I was acknowledged as being smart enough to have gloves! They did not know just how unaccustomed I am to the cold!

The dedication, commitment, diligence, skill and talent of those young persons tugged at my heart strings. I literally cried after one dance performance. The pain was so clearly etched on their faces.

The excellence they achieved with solemn, focussed looks on their faces made me feel as one with them. I felt everything they were expressing and so I could not help but cry.

They performed in an elaborate setting with basic equipment and a tee shirt and pair of jeans or other trousers. Another contrast!

Yes! it is easy to choose to be filled with hate and anger and to be unforgiving but surely at some level we can find it in our hearts to find ways to deal with the unfairness and the beastly behaviour of some persons and not choose to hate a person simply because they bear similarity to another who may have caused pain or hurt.

Tell me how can one not be filled with love for fellow human beings when there is so much we have in common, whether white or black, global north or south, rich or poor…

Peace in Turbulent Times

How do we move past the deep wounds of our turbulent times?

How does one deal with sometimes multiple hurts and misfortunes, that accentuate the unfairness of life and circumstances?

How does a mother or father, a sister or brother, a son or daughter find it somewhere in the heart, the mind, the soul, to get to a point of peace after one or more grievances?

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When you have been dealt with the murder of a loved one, or the ravaging of your personal belongings or person by attackers and if at the same time, you lose your job or have other financial or health challenges, it becomes difficult to believe in the concept of peace and hope.

I have had to deal with multiple losses after a difficult time in my own life. My challenges were not greater or lesser than anybody else’s. They were my unique combination of trials, designed to shape or re-shape my thinking, my approach to life and my destiny.

It can be easy to lose your way and to stay forever lost. To miss out on the blessings and joys that are further along in your journey because you become stuck in the mire of hurt, pain and a lack of forgiveness.

The truth is that for a while remaining in that dark, messy and confusing place filled with anger and frustration is sometimes the best thing to do…providing that doing so supplies the fuel that is needed to create the driving force to pull yourself out of the downward force of negativity.

If you can come to the point of becoming an alchemist of sorts, turning the negative into shining positivity, then you would have found a peace and hope that becomes a beacon for others who have yet to meet their customised difficulties.

Of course bear in mind that good and bad circumstances in life are juxtaposed for greater appreciation of one over the other. This simply means always be alert that life can bring unexpected good or bad.

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So currently in our beloved country of Trinidad and Tobago, there seems to be a negative cloud of darkness overtaking our people. It seems that there can be no hope. It seems that at every turn there is violence, hatred, racialism, killing and destruction. Peace, love and forgiveness have become difficult concepts to grasp.

How can you tell a mother whose only son is brutally murdered that peace will come? How does she relate to forgiving the beasts in human form that committed that criminal act, forever changing the landscape of her life?

You don’t. At least not now. Not right away. She needs time to process. Time to digest and time to come to some form of understanding. The rest of us need to give her the gift of time to come to terms with what has happened. That time can only be determined by her but we will know when she is ready. She will let us know.

In the meantime, we must not allow ourselves to become like the very beasts we wish had never existed. What in their own lives must have molded them into the creatures of destruction that have manifested?

Martin Luther King Jr. and others have postulated that violence breeds violence. True words that are easy to overlook when faced with the harsh realities of murder, rape, kidnapping and other criminal acts.

But we are embarking on an even darker journey if we give in to our base desires for revenge. Violence by “peaceful” men only sends the wrong message to impressionable minds. We must find a peace through doing good not through destroying others, good or bad.

I am not suggesting that you forget the bad but that a way is found to propagate good in the face of evil. Will you stop planting roses or peas because the field is currently overgrown with weeds?

Or will you try to plant the roses or peas in an effort to replace the weeds with the crop?

Maybe not the best comparison but the idea is that peace and goodwill must not be abandoned in the face of seemingly unending negativity.

This morning let us reaffirm our faith in a greater good. Let us pray for a spirit of peace to overcome us all in spite of all the darkness surrounding us.

As we do this, reach out to others in peace and love.

Five ways that we can maintain equilibrium in devastating circumstances:

  1. Allow yourself to experience any feeling to its fullest. Allow yourself to grieve in your own way, at your own time.
  2. Live by the moment. Experience each moment for what it is or what it brings.
  3. Grow into acceptance of what has happened. Not an easy task but a realistic one.
  4. Slowly in your time, reset goals and action plans, short term initially until you get to the point of being able to think in longer time frames.
  5. Get enough rest, nutrition, exercise and hydration. Do not neglect your physical needs. You need to be strong physically so that your body does not collapse inwardly under stress.

Focusing on these five objectives helps to deflect thoughts onto positive pathways, bringing peace where there was only strife, frustration and hurt previously.

Let me know how you dealt with your particular situation or share with me the pain you may be undergoing that seems insurmountable. Someone else may be able to throw the lifeline you need to stay afloat until you can devote and self promote once again.

Yours in faith, peace and education, my friend.

Customer Service

Great Customer Service! In Trinidad that is an oxymoron. However I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised on Monday 5th June.

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There I was harassed and concerned about obtaining my International Visa Travel Card. I had joined a queue. You know how waiting multiplies times. Well… I felt that I had been there for a long, long time.

Just as I got to the top of the line, from almost nowhere, another bank customer rushed to the counter to “ask a question”. I was so annoyed but I kept my peace and waited to see what would be the outcome.

Thankfully, something wonderful happened. Something I hardly ever witness. The attending clerk very politely informed said customer that there was a line and everyone else was waiting to ask a question also.

I was relieved. I really thought that the person would have gotten through by breaking the line and it was a breath of fresh air to encounter fair customer service.

I got through but ended up having to visit another section in the same branch. Again, as I sat awaiting my turn, a hot and bothered woman rushed to the counter, with the look on her face that she was very busy and needed attending to right away.

There was already another customer at the counter, so I told her that she had to take a seat and wait her turn. Her response? “I just want to ask a question.” Well ‘dearie’ that is exactly what I was waiting to do as well. I shrugged and let her be.

The clerk noticed her standing impatiently in the way and addressed her with a pleasant, “Good morning”. That was her cue to rush in and “ask her question”.

Again I was fortunate to witness another moment of impartiality, rightness, courtesy, integrity…call it what you will, I witnessed it and was so pleased.

The clerk very nicely asked her to sit and wait her turn. She sat next to me and sought a sympathetic ear. I usually do lend such an ear but not this time. I could not condone her actions.

Would you believe that I witnessed yet another such incident mere hours later at another financial situation? My, my I just may have to reassess the level of customer service in Trinidad. It seems that slowly the apparently uncaring servers are evolving into people with a conscience and a kind, considerate and gentle disposition.

Kudos to those two financial institutions. My faith in humanity and goodness was nurtured on Monday.

Series of Workshops on Resilience

We all go through rough times.

It may be a loss of job, loss of a loved one through death or breakup, loss of good health, loss of sense of self after a devastating blow or business or examination failure.

Whatever your particular loss may be at this point in time, I have come to realize that there are some basic steps that can help to smooth the transition to a “new normal”.

I recognized a pattern of behaviours to overcome tough times through my own life’s journeys down a rocky road that at one point involved being a survivor of gun violence.

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My third book,”Bounce Back Better, 10(+1) Key Steps for Building Resilience” discusses the steps that all of us need to employ as we traverse this unpredictable, sometimes bumpy life pathway.

 

Out of the third book, I have developed and am developing a series of workshops that will soon be available. The workshops are entitled:

  • Women’s Leadership Workshop: The Resilient Woman
  • Girls’ Empowerment Workshop Series: The Resilient Girl (Ages 12 to 18)
  • Boys’ Empowerment Workshop Series: The Resilient Boy (Ages 12 to 18)
  • Men’s Leadership Workshop: The Resilient Man

The series are 12 part series based on the principles in my book, Bounce Back Better. Each workshop is specifically modified for the the selected audience. The workshops include specially designed workbooks and can be done as half day sessions (12) or whole day sessions (6).

The series :

  • develops definitions of success and resilience,
  • evaluates participants current level of resilience,
  • provides and develops the steps needed for resilience and
  • includes interactive exercises on faith, personal strength, social networks and higher values.

I am planning to host the various workshops online at some point in time and will soon make available an introductory video.

If you are interested in the workshops, online or offline, leave a comment below. You can follow my blog to receive information as it becomes available or leave your email address in the form below.

Bounce Back Better

 

Are you at a crossroad in your life? Have you experienced the loss of a loved one or the loss of your job? Did you just go through a defining moment in your life such as a major ill health diagnosis, an accident  or trauma due to a violent attack?

Maybe you are feeling burnt out at work or have a sense of restlessness, like there is something missing.

If you are overwhelmed with uncertainty about the future or if a friend or loved one seems to be feeling like this, then my new book, Bounce Back Better is for you!

This book is highly recommended by Trinidadian educator and education consultant, Raymond S. Hackett. Here is what Mr. Hackett had to say about the book in his foreword:

As an educator for the past five decades and three years, I cannot honestly admit that I have read a book more comprehensive than and relevant to the times as Bounce Back Better 10 (+ 1) Key Steps for Building Resilience.  Inspired by the message and advice which characterise this book, I look forward to an outcome which will cause the general public, magistrates, judges, lawyers, members of the Lower House and the Senate of our Parliament, policemen, doctors, nurses, social workers, probation officers, teachers, particularly secondary school students above Forms One and Two, guidance officers, clinical psychologists, and last but not least advocates of Restorative Justice to read this third book which Caron Asgarali has written. Without doubt, it is prescribed reading for all.

Click on the link below to get your copy of Bounce Back Better, 10 (+1) Key Steps for Building Resilience.

https://www.amazon.com/Bounce-Back-Better-Caron-Asgarali/dp/1504368568

Let me know if you think you need a book like this right now in your life, in the comments below.