Making Homes out of People: The House that’s Building Me


~For the Doghouse Boys- Chris, Dru, Evan, Flip, Harris, JC, Kealand, Reese, Sean, and Tuck~

Thanks for being my new home.


Hey, friends! I hope you’re all doing well. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how incredibly thankful I am that I ended up going to school at Furman, even though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I’ve gotten to know the absolute best people, and nothing could ever compare to that.

One of my largest complaints with Furman was that my older brother, Dru, also goes to school here. I was really tired of being “Dru’s little sister” for my whole life, and I thought that if I had to spend one more year being identified by his name and not mine, I might (1) explode or (2) lose all sense of myself as an independent being. (That seems a tad melodramatic, but you don’t know what it’s like to have your friends stand up and applaud when your brother enters the room.) I have three brothers, but he’s the only one that I’ve never experienced life without. In what can only be described as an act of sheer grace, Dru has become one of my dearest friends, and I have grown to love being his little sister. I’ve also become friends with all of his friends…and they are so much greater than New York City could have ever been.

I’m one of those people who is very much influenced by the people in my life. I think people are a living example of love, and I think that true friendship—the kind that shows up for you and loves you right where you are—is just a string of moments of really pure love and life experienced alongside someone who gets you. I also think that I tend to make homes out of people rather than places, and at various stages of my life, they help make me into who I am. The idea of “home” is so comforting. There’s plenty of room to grow, but you can rest in who you are, knowing that there’s love there no matter what. For me, that feeling could never be confined to certain places; I get it when I’m with certain people, wherever we are.

I don’t even get homesick for my bed, my room, or my house. I get homesick for people, though, and one of the only things I don’t like about college is that so many of my “homes” are far away. Missing people is hard, but I think the home I’ve found here is exactly what I need.

Last week, I read a paper as part of a small session during Furman Engaged, which is a day we get off class and present research. Somehow, my brother and his friends found the time in the middle of their football meetings, other friends’ presentations, and one of their only real days off to come listen to my paper. They made signs, and stood in the back corner, even though there wasn’t enough room for all of them to sit. I don’t think I’ll ever get over how much love I felt as I looked up from my paper and saw all of them.

They live in the on-campus apartments, right next door to each other: Dru, Chris, Sean, and Evan in one and Harris, Kealand, Jon Croft, and Tucker in the other, with Flip and Reese as honorary roommates. They’re the most fun people I know, and they make me laugh more than anyone. They’re as messy as you would expect; they believe very strongly in pushing each other’s buttons as a love language.

Reese and I study together and vent to each other. He’s my pal forever. Flip is the essence of a good time, and seeing him always brightens my day. I have a huge soft spot for Tuck, even though he has better hair than me. JC has mad kicking skills, and I feel so cool when I get to hang out with him. Kealand is sweeter than he is strong, which says quite a lot. I’ve never met someone as intelligent and just purely good as Harris. One of my favorite parts of existing is seeing Evan around campus. Sean always takes time to talk to me and make me feel welcome. Chris is kind, good, and always looks out for everyone. Dru’s overprotective but means well, and he’s such a hard worker.

They’re everything that’s good in the world, and even that is an understatement. They make me feel so completely at home. Every time I’m with them, I learn a little more about how to love people well.  Someone asked me once what my favorite spot on campus was, and I have a much better answer now than I did at the time. It’s the hill in the outfield where we watched a baseball game, the balcony where we talk when it gets too wild inside, the practice football field where I sat with them when they stayed late at practice, the sink in their apartment where we wash the dishes, the small room in which I read my paper. It’s all the places where they’ve made room for me and taught me how to love big—all the places we’ve happened to be when I’ve been at home.

I hope with all of my heart that you get to experience the joy of friendship that always shows up, helps you grow, and loves you when you don’t. And, I hope you know that if you ever need a home, you can always come to me.

All the love in the world,



The view from one of my favorite spots. 






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Of Grace and Dirty Dishes: Life More Abundantly

Happy spring, everyone! I hope this season brings more flowers than allergies, more bright and sunny days than showers. I like to think of myself as someone who just absolutely loves everything, but if I’m being a little more honest, I am not, in fact, a walking ray of sunshine all the time. There are some things that I honestly just hate for no real reason, and pretending to love them has done nothing to erase my detestation. Mornings exist for the sole purpose of keeping my life from being perfect. Roller coasters aren’t actually all that fun. Snow is overrated. I could really do without screaming in my music, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t stop hating cockroaches. But, nothing is worse than washing the dishes…

I have somewhat of a fixation on living a “big life.” I couldn’t care less about the typical things people want—a large salary, a nice home. As long as my life is big, it can look however it looks. I’ve been trying to force myself recently to consider what actually constitutes a big life because I was worried that I wasn’t living one. I’m not living in a big place, and I’m not really doing anything that has a big, broad impact on the world. I drink coffee and I go to class and I work and I live out my typical college student existence. But, is that really big enough for me?

When I started thinking about it, I realized that what looks to be an incredibly normal everyday life somehow feels incredibly big. There’s nothing all that spectacular or grand about my life, but it feels so full. I also realized that some of the most meaningful moments I’ve had this year center around a sink…and washing the dishes.

One of the first weeks of school, I was up late baking, and I had a stack of dishes that I was trying to wash in my bathroom sink. My roommate asked if I needed help, and I said I didn’t. But, when she heard me drop something, she came into the bathroom anyway and asked, “what do you need me to do?” We washed and dried the rest of the dishes together, and I just remember being amazed at the kind of love that must exist in the world if someone who barely knew me was willing to help me do what I considered to be one of the most detestable things in the world.

My brother and his roommates let me come to their apartment to bake whenever I want. They talk to me and make me feel like home. I always add dishes to the pile in the sink, but I try to wash whatever’s there before I leave. I try to leave the sink empty because I always leave with my heart so full.

Over spring break, I stayed in my brother’s apartment with him on campus. We worked, and one night we went to the store because we decided we were tired of sandwiches and microwavable meals. He cooked tortellini, Italian sausage, and brisket, which is definitely an odd combination, but I think there’s something really beautiful about looking over to see the kid I was forced to grow up with cooking for me, not because he had to but because he wanted to. So after, I did the dishes…because I wanted to.

Sunday morning, some friends and I made breakfast and ate together. (I love eating with people I love because it feeds your body and your soul at the same time.) We huddled around the bar, snacking on pancakes and bacon before the grits and eggs were ready. Then we ate, some standing and some sitting, music playing in the background. I walked outside for a minute and came back to a friend washing the mountain of dishes. I asked if he wanted help, and he said yes. We worked together for a while, and as he found a dish towel, another friend came to help. I can’t really explain why, but I’ll always be very fond of those few moments, when there was enough love for help to be offered and enough grace for help to be accepted, those few moments when washing dishes seemed a lot more like washing feet. My dad has always done the dishes at my house, and I think it’s so fitting that the best, most faithful servant I’ve ever known has always done the dishes…even if it’s taken me this long to see it as an act of service.

Washing the dishes is probably one of the most mundane activities in the world, but under the right circumstances, it makes my life feel so big. I’ve decided that a “big life” is life more abundantly, a life that’s overflowing with community and friendship and joy, no matter how ordinary it seems. It’s a life where I love to do the dishes, and getting up early in the morning is worth it. From a distance, doing the dishes seems so small, so unimportant, so not worth my while. It’s not impactful or exciting; it doesn’t even qualify as an experience. But, my life would be less abundant without it, without the people, the love, and the grace I have found standing at the sink.

Dirty dishes, much like dirty people, have a way of making room for grace. They create space to be fully known and still fully loved. I hope you always have someone to tackle the dirty dishes with—the ones in your sink and the ones inside yourself. I hope that you discover what it means for your life to be more abundant, and I hope it’s everything you ever wanted.

If the biggest thing I ever do is wash the dishes and have the pleasure of knowing all of you, my life will have been extraordinarily abundant. And, I’m eternally grateful.

All the love in the world,




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Whose Man is This?

Hey, friends! I hope this wintry season of second chances and self-improvement is full of hope and sunshine. I have somewhat recently adopted the phrase “Who’s man is this?” from one of my best friends, as in, “Who’s man is that because whatever he is doing is absolutely ridiculous and someone needs to come and get their boy so that it can stop.” Since my family first heard me say it, it has become an all-encompassing running joke, especially between my dad and me.

As my father so graciously pointed out, over the years of growing up with brothers and working with football players, I’ve sort of adopted lots of boys as my own, so more often than not, the answer to the rhetorical question is “Mine. He’s my man,” and the ‘someone’ who needs to go get their boy is, unfortunately, me. I spend a lot of time laughing at myself because, as long as it’s not early in the morning, I have an extremely high energy level, and it takes all of two seconds for me to get worked up about something, which creates these really comical moments of my “Whose man is this?” rant being followed by a laugh and “YOUR man” from my dad.

Sometimes I love to claim them- when my little brothers are being sweet or one of the players makes a great play on the field. Sometimes they are really, really easy to love, and I’m so proud of them. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to claim them- when my love/hate relationship with my older brother kicks in and the little sister in me hates how much I love him. I actually want to claim him, but part of me hates it and will never, ever admit it to anyone. Sometimes I hate to claim them- when they do something idiotic or childish or wear clothes that don’t match. But, at the end of the day, they’re mine, and no matter how loudly I want to scream, “Whose man is this?!” the answer will always be a wholehearted, though sometimes begrudging, “my man.”

The slightly more embarrassing and less fun side of the story for me is acknowledging that, in the midst of all of my perfectionistic façade, there are frequent moments of the world looking at me and saying, “Whose girl is that?” Usually it’s lighthearted and funny, like when I try to drive the gator (fun fact: I am nineteen years old and don’t have a driver’s license, and yes, it’s as funny and sad as you think it is) or when I trip over air or spill food on myself or put way too much effort into something trivial. Thankfully, I have people in my life who are nothing short of angels who claim the imperfect, messy, can’t-drive-at-nineteen me just as readily as they claim the organized, dressed-up, has-my-whole-life-together me.

The other day, the broader implications of my favorite joke hit me for the first time. I was giving paper to two of the football players in one of my classes, thinking “Who doesn’t bring paper to their college classes. Whose idiots are these? Oh wait, they’re mine,” when it occurred to me that another one of my boys might be sitting in class down the hall or even across the country without paper. It seems like one of the most inconsequential things in the world, but making sure people have paper and pencils has always been big with me. I started to think about all these people I loved so much from elementary, middle, high school, and college, and I just kept hoping that if they needed paper, there was someone around to give it to them. Then, I realized why it actually matters so much that we have people who are willing to claim us when we’re only a tad of a struggling disorganized mess.

If no one is going to claim us when we need something as simple as paper, who’s going to claim us when we encounter the parts of ourselves that are messy and broken and unlovable and complicated and not just funny and quirky and forgetful? It’s a lot easier to love the can’t-drive-at-nineteen Shannon than it is to love the condescending or crying or lost Shannon. A lot easier. And it’s a lot easier to go get your boy when he needs something tangible, like a piece of paper, than it is when he needs unconditional love and compassion and someone who sees all the messy and complicated and sits down with it anyway.

I always say that I found some of my most treasured friendships in the most unexpected people, and the other half of that story is that those people are the ones who showed me how to love a lot bigger because they loved me a lot bigger than I ever knew how. They still claimed me (and they still do) when I was irrational and emotional and frustrated and stressed and sassy and irritated. They knew exactly what they were getting themselves into, and they chose to walk into it with me anyway. They face the complex and the broken head-on, with tough and tender love every time. I’m still blown away at how they can know me so well and still love me… and I’m even more blown away when I think about how much more God must love me than they do and how unfathomable that amount of love is.

My favorite part of this whole realization is that each and every one of us belongs to each other. I think that everyone deserves to know what it feels like to be loved amid all their broken. We’re all part of the human race, and we can all do that for one another. The people I don’t know, the people I don’t like, the people I disagree with, the people who do things that are incomprehensible to me- they’re all mine, and they’re all yours. Please, don’t be scared. Take a big, deep breath, and run head first into a bigger mess than a lack of paper. Sit down, get to know the worst parts of people, and love them anyway. Decide to care more about the good parts, and stay anyway. I hope with all of my heart that you always have someone who is willing to do that for you, too. You deserve that kind of love.

When it comes right down to it, how well we take care of each other is the single most important thing in the world. So, love each other well. Go get your boy.

All the love in the world,



Whose men are these? Oh, wait…






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A Little Bigger


Hey, friends! It’s been way too long, and I hope that the world is being kind to all of you. My first semester of college was crazy­­- the good kind of crazy, when your heart is full and steady in the midst of the whirlwind. I’m in awe of the incredible people I have gotten to meet, the love and friendship I have gotten to experience. I have sat down to write countless times, and somehow, every time something stops me. An opportunity to interact with another person arises, or I simply cannot find the right words for what I want to say. Maybe, in some cases, I’ve been able to find exactly the right words, but I’ve been lacking the courage to fully and honestly confront all the “stuff” going on in my head. Whatever the reasons, I’m excited to be back. I hope that I find the time, words, and courage to be back much more often.

I had this idea in my head of the person I would be in college. I would go to church every Sunday; I would get up and watch the sunrise while reading my Bible on the lake; and I would start to do all the other things you’re supposed to do that I haven’t consistently done in a really long time. Here I am, finished with a semester, and none of that has been accomplished. I read my Bible on the lake one solitary time. Sometimes I feel guilty for not being one of the girls on my hall who wakes up early on Sunday mornings to drive to church or who does a Bible study every morning and goes to every Christian club meeting on campus… but then I think about myself and wonder why on earth I had such a ridiculous expectation for myself.

I believe very deeply in a lot of different things, two of them being: (1) treating everyone, including ourselves, with tenderness is essential to being able to function and (2) God is content with us, exactly the way we are at any given moment. I haven’t found spiritual connection in any of the things you’re “supposed to do” in a really long time, but I find spiritual connection many times throughout each day. I find it when I help the girls on my hall who get hurt and when I talk to my friend of Jewish faith about our beliefs. I find it when I bake in my brother’s apartment and leave treats on the kitchen counter, when I clear dishes for people at lunch. I find it everywhere, all in the time in my interactions with other people… And I have to believe that God is really okay with that.

I have to believe that God is a lot more okay with my insecurities and idiosyncrasies than I am. My Bible sits on a shelf on my desk at eye level. Sometimes I look up at it and I get really angry because it reminds me of all the times Christians use it as justification to hurt other people. Sometimes I get really upset with myself because I just can’t interact with God that way, and sometimes it makes me really anxious because I know I’m supposed to be reading it but I’m choosing not to. I have to believe that God knows my heart so well and that it’s exactly the way he wanted. I have to believe that He’s constantly speaking love and life into me, regardless of the medium through which He has to speak in order to get through to me.

I read a prayer early on this semester that, for whatever reason, got through. “Help us to be brave with one another. For these are the days.” I’ve adopted it as one of the personal prayers I repeat often to myself throughout the day. “Help me to be brave with the people around me.” A lot of the time, it’s scary to love the people around us as fully and as extravagantly as we want. We worry about how our kindness will be interpreted and the conclusions people will be tempted to draw. It takes a lot of courage to exemplify love in ways that aren’t common and comfortable, especially when you’re in a new environment with new people who aren’t used to the way you love.

People still think it’s weird when I try to clear their dishes in the dining hall or go slightly out of my way to do something for someone else, and at first, the perception that my actions were weird made me hesitant to continue them. Then, I realized that the general public’s reaction to the way that I wanted to love people broke my heart more than it embarrassed me. We are so unfamiliar with genuine, unadulterated love that it’s not only rare but also somewhat peculiar in nature. And, I decided that I couldn’t perpetuate that state of our existence. I had to become brave enough to love as fully and extravagantly as I wanted, regardless of what other people might think.  A lot of the time, I don’t do nearly as good a job loving other people as I should, but I have a lot of hope in the belief that God is going to find ways to help me grow and that He’s still going to love me until then.


We don’t get to be here for very long, so I hope that we all find the courage to love each other a little bigger while we are.


All the love in the world,                                                                                                                    Shannon


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The Really Good Kind of Baggage

If you’ve ever seen me out of the house, I was probably carrying a giant bag of some sort. My dad affectionately calls whatever bag I happen to be carrying “the magic bag.” I have this really compulsive and altogether unnecessary need to carry around anything that anyone might need at any time. There’s just something so “me” about being able to pull out some obscure item that someone needed but never expected anyone would have.

My sophomore year of high school, my English teacher was also the yearbook adviser, and we all had to go outside with him to take a picture of the seniors. We got outside, and he asked if any of us happened to have sunscreen. Unlikely, right? I had two different kinds. Freshman year, someone had a splinter, and I got it out with tweezers and a plastic toothpick.  I can’t tell you how many football player’s phones have been charged with my portable power bank on the way home from an away game. During midterms, I was in the public library studying, and a junior came up to our group, asking if we had three different colors of highlighter. I had way more than three. Someone broke my Tide to Go stick, and I still have the replacement he bought me. People laugh at how much stuff I carry around all the time, but I really do love it. I love being able to help people, and I love all the memories I have because of my oversized taupe tote.

I carried the same gray backpack all throughout high school. It was the biggest backpack I’d ever seen, and I needed the extra room for all my books. But, my favorite part about that book bag is the friendship bracelet that’s tied to the handle. It looks a little raggedy, and parts of it are held together with tape. I still keep it, though, because my roommate from a summer camp made it for me. It’s been three years, and I haven’t seen a single person I met at that camp. But, I still look at that bracelet and smile.

Another important bag in my life is the medical bag I carried when I helped the athletic trainer at school. There’s an athletic tape bow tied to the handle. It’s gross, but I can’t bring myself to take it off. One of the football players put it there. The sweet athletic trainer actually let me keep my bag. It’s fully stocked and everything, sitting on my porch waiting for someone to get hurt. I can feel it pounding against my back as I ran onto the field to make sure a player was okay. I remember throwing it on the ground so Asia or Chas or Tarrah or Brinae could pull supplies out for me so we could get one of the boys back on the field quicker. I look at that bag and three years of memories warm my heart.

I also have lots of little bags that go in my bigger bags. My favorite one is aqua. Sometimes it holds snacks, and sometimes it holds cough drops. It floats between the medical bag and the tote. A bunch of football players signed it once. (Yes, I carry around a make-up bag that a group of sweaty teenage boys signed. Yes, I care more about that bag than anything any famous person could ever sign.) It’s really cool carrying around a part of people you care about.

One of my magic bags got stolen out of my mom’s car a few years ago. I have this really nice thought that whoever ended up with my Kavu needed some magic that day, and they found it in my bag. I like to believe that the magic, the love never stops.

Our baggage makes us who we are. All the stuff we carry around- the good stuff, the bad stuff, the embarrassing stuff, the stuff we don’t even have words for- is completely us. The memories we can’t let go of, the people we hold onto. Maybe carrying around too much makes us heavier. But, maybe it teaches us to let other people help and to help other people.

I could get tired of carrying around bags that are a little on the heavy side. I could stop, and I could simply respond, “No, sorry,” when someone asks if I have something. I could stop carrying my physical baggage the way we’re supposed to stop carrying our figurative baggage, but I don’t really subscribe to the theory that letting go of everything is best. You can tell me all day long that I should just leave my bundle of “doubt and questions.” I’m still going to carry it. People don’t need “doubt and questions” the way they need a pair of clippers or Advil, but they might need to know that it’s something I’m carrying, too. They might need to unpack some of their own baggage, and they might feel a lot better knowing that they aren’t experiencing something alone. Sure, it takes a little more effort and a lot more emotion to carry around a bunch of “stuff” waiting for someone to need it. But, being able to help someone is absolutely worth it. Every. Single. Time.

Baggage keeps us empathetic. It brings back memories, and it helps us grow. Baggage makes us strong enough to carry one another without thinking anyone is too heavy.

I really do think that my bags are magic. The magic isn’t in the stuff, though. The magic is in the love that surrounds every interaction I’ve had because of those bags, the love people have for me, and the love I have for them. The magic is in the beauty of our humanity, the depth of grace we learn from each other. May the magic never cease to touch your life.

All the love in the world,


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Graduation Speech

Hey, friends. This is the graduation speech I delivered this year. I hope you like it; I hope you learn something from it; and, I hope all of you wonderful people I went to school with know how much I really, truly mean what I said. You make saying goodbye so hard, and those are the best goodbyes to have- the ones full of love, friendship, and grace. Don’t ever be afraid to take me up on my offer to call. 

All the love in the world, 


​​Do the hard thing: In order to live a meaningful life, we must become a fearless people, unafraid by the possibility that what is right is not always popular, that often goodness and love are not easy. The hardest things are usually those most worth doing. 

Choose love: We have to stop the glorification of politeness and insincere conversation, and we have to start valuing genuineness. We can’t stay on this surface level of our humanity and expect to get something deeper out of it. Experience things that make you feel; let your empathy grow to be so great that it can’t help but overflow to everyone you meet. Use your freedom of expression to love the people around you.

Make a difference: Do everything in your power to fall in love with life, with people. Fill your life with sunshine and smiles…because a life focused on yourself and materialism will only be questionable at best. We are all capable of big, meaningful, kindhearted lives, and we are all capable of changing the world for the better.                                    

 Be bold: Question the truths that you blindly accept. Truth is relative and there is so much to learn from asking hard questions about who you are and what you believe. Seek out adventures that will open your mind, going boldly into the world and learning the value of accepting those unlike yourself. Tolerance and compassion are qualities of fearless people. Remember to be brave.

 I believe in a brighter someday, but someday is only possible if we challenge the status quo, if we fight with everything we’ve got for what we believe in, if we find the courage somewhere deep within ourselves to stand, unrelenting, for what we know is right. Someday is only possible if we choose acceptance and generosity and authenticity and love. If we don’t, someday looks just like today. And, there’s no growth in staying the same.

Growing up with all of you has been the biggest pleasure. I believe that each of you is capable, brave, and significant even when it feels like you’re not. Wherever life takes you, remember that someone out there believes in you, remember that you’re loved, and remember that if you ever need a friend, you can always, ALWAYS call me. Now, let’s go out and choose love. Let’s go out and be bold.



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More Fish

Hey, friends. In light of recent events at my high school, I have been uncertain of what to say about the most influential teacher in my life. So many people have shared their stories, and mine sounds very similar to all of theirs. I’m just going to share one story out of many-the story that would eventually change who I was. 

It was early on in my sophomore year, and I was in Mr. Fish’s English III class. I was offended by foul language, rule-breaking, and hard questions about my beliefs. I didn’t question authority at all. 
We were learning verbs, and Mr. Fish asked us to stand up if we knew the difference between “lay” and “lie.” A few people stood. Next, he asked us to remain standing if we thought we knew how to conjugate both verbs. I was the only student left standing. He told me to go up to the board and write out the conjugations while he sat in my desk. I stood at the board, suddenly unsure of how the conjugations went exactly. I looked back at him, and he told me to just go for it. When I was still unsure, he said, “Be bold, Duke.” 
I know it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. But, I hear that voice in my head all the time. I hear it when I’m about to do something that scares me. I hear it when I’m doing something I believe in. I hear it when I’m unsure of myself, and I hear it when I need a reminder that somebody out there, who didn’t have to believe in me, decided to believe in me. Some people like to memorize Bible verses and repeat them frequently in their heads. I like to hear whatever part of Jesus lives in Greg Fish. 
It’s hard to walk into a classroom for a week expecting a much needed conversation with someone who isn’t there. It’s even harder to know that he might not ever be there again. Nobody made me love to learn, love to think more than Fish. Nobody took the time to care about me quite like he did, and nobody taught me more about acceptance. 
To everyone who was impacted by this incredible teacher: don’t forget to fight . Every day for the rest of your lives. 
Fight apathy by deciding to feel, even when it hurts. Feel deeply, and don’t become numb. 
Fight the status quo by never blindly accepting. Ask hard questions like Fish would. 
Fight censorship by expressing honest emotion, finding the courage to be true to all of your feelings. 
Fight self-righteousness by never thinking of anyone as “less.” Take the time to really know people. 
Fight close mindedness by making a genuine effort to understand people who aren’t like you. Accept them exactly how they are, not in spite of anything about them. 
Fight a lack of love with compassion, with an interest in people. Use your freedom of expression to love the people around you. 
Be bold in whatever you do, and remember how proud Fish would be. Don’t give up the fight. The world needs more boldness, more love- more Fish. 

All the love in the world,


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