Saturday, 18 June 2022

Not-So-Mocktail

 Let's have a look at what happens when a sober alcoholic accidentally sips a cocktail. It happened to me. Yes. I met my friend for lunch. When I ordered my drink, I asked the waitress if they had mocktails. She seemed confused for a moment but right before I was going to say something like a Shirley Temple, she said Caesar and I exclaimed yes, because I usually have a VIRGIN Caesar. I stated that I am sober, and my friend said to the waitress that I don't drink.

Well, the waitress brought me a caesar and I smelled it, like I always smell my drinks when I eat at a restaurant or pub. It passed the odor test and I took a sip. It was super spicy and that was all I could tell at first. They made it with tomato juice and (I think) Tabasco sauce in a glass that had been dipped in spice, salt and pepper. I noted there wasn't a pickled veggie in it, like many establishments will have, but other than that, I licked the spice off the glass and had another couple of sips. It tasted fine and not particularly unusual until all of a sudden there was the faintest old familiar taste. Like what I imagined vodka tastes like. I had not had a drink of vodka in almost nine years up until then.

I immediately said to my friend, can you smell vodka in this? I handed her the glass. She took a big whiff and said No, why? does it taste like vodka? I said, well now, maybe not, I did say mocktail. My friend says, you didn't say virgin. You're right, I said. I took another tentative sip, trusting in what I believed was a mocktail. I was very hungry and thirsty. I laughed then. No. I pushed the drink away. There is vodka in there. Just then, the waitress walked by. My friend asked her if there is vodka in my drink. The waitress answered enthusiastically, Yeah! Do you want a double? I laughed and exclaimed No thank you! I'm sober. I haven't drank in eight years! I laughed again and said, Except for that. 

The waitress apologized and said she should have known when I said mocktail and my friend said didn't say virgin, I had to agree that I had not specifically said the word virgin. The waitress brought me a pop to drink then. I have to say I was a little shocked at how weak the drink was that I didn't even notice it. Shocked that my sniff test was not a reliable test! But I went on to eat my lunch and my friend and I had a good conversation. At some point, I laughed and told my friend how I had just come from a check-up and insisted to the Dr that I don't drink. Then I promptly drove over and met my friend and drank.

Maybe upon reading this it sounds like I laughed a lot at this but I did and continue to take it seriously. I quit drinking when I knew it was an alcoholic beverage. Come to think of it, the remainder of the drink was on the table the entire meal and I never looked at it again. What little aftertaste there was, just tasted gross and sickly to me, it was not appealing. I remain sober and the urge to drink/get drunk is still removed from me. For that, I am grateful.

Earlier in the day, I had been angry. I had been late to the Dr. There was no parking. It was difficult to get out of the parking lot due to paving. Late in the evening, when everyone is asleep, I have to admit, the incident with the drink was rather humbling. It makes me think of all I would lose had I been failed in this test. But the grace that has kept me off the booze for almost nine years was sufficient to keep me sober for another day. 

I am uplifted by this truly amazing and on the other hand rather embarrassing experience. It is a good lesson for me. To remain diligent. To be more fearful of my kryptonite.



Sunday, 19 September 2021

8 Years No Booze

One crisp winter night I was walking "across the tracks" to a place I used to go and visit sometimes when I was binge drinking in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. As I walked, I slipped on the ice and fell flat on my back in the alley. As I lay there staring straight up into the chilly atmosphere, I could see that the sky was filled with brightly glittering stars. To the left, the huge spotlight that shines out from the Gold Eagle Casino was flashing around in circles like it did in those days. Tears of pain and frustration welled up in my eyes and I cried out to God as I surely had times before. (I had been drinking and apparently slipping and falling on the ice in an alley was the last straw that day.) Even though it was probably close to seven years and many petitions of the same stripe later, I do find myself today without the urge to drink, drug or smoke. It has been eight years. In fact, I was able to quit drinking coffee and caffeinated teas by the same power. And that Being, that Abstract Entity that I have been crying out to my whole life, that is God to me. My Maker.
 
 

 
Pre-pandemic, I had been anticipating an upcoming global poverty fundraiser slash awareness party. The important selling points to other would-be-party-goers were the two cash bars. For me, two cash bars meant two good reasons for me to have a party plan. When I quit drinking, I had to plan out much of my day-to-day activities. Especially parties! I must not go hungry or thirsty. I still keep a plan of several ways out in case of an alcoholic emergency, which I think I personally have never had since I quit drinking. Although I do not have urges to drink ever, I can NEVER take that for granted. Sometimes a pocket candy will suffice. Perhaps a safe alcohol free person to call in case I suddenly want to drink. I am pretty sure I am on guard from alcohol today about the same as I was when I first quit eight years ago.
 
 


I remain happy to be here writing about one of my all-time favorite topics! Freedom from Alcohol and Drug Addiction. I want everyone to be left with valuable “Sober Li” info on how to get healthier, have a better personal life, and make more money and, of course, possibly get and remain booze free, when they finish reading my blogs. 
 
Anyone can find out more about me on social media. I have active Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. I still write at Lisa's Sober Blog. I own Lisa’s e-Store and More, an online gift shop. One of my followers once wrote a wonderful testimonial that goes like this:
 
“Lisa, I was really moved by what I have read and felt deeply about the abuses you have been through. I still cannot get my head around the 10 relationships filled with abuse! No one should go through that.
 
I really feel so sorry for you for having had to grow up like that and equally relieved to learn that you pulled through it all and have come out on top. Like you, I abhor any form of abuse against women and children. Being married with two beautiful kids, I understand how one would feel if such abuses were done to my daughter or wife. 
What I don't understand is how you've survived so long and make a very strong comeback! That feat is truly remarkable! I fully support your cause. 

Keep up the good fight and continue to stay clear headed. I feel your pride in your accomplishments through your story and I really really am happy for you. Please continue to stay strong as you're a big inspiration for many.”

 -RJFOSTER
 
 


First of all, Maslow's hierarchy of needs; when I was drinking and drugging, I wasn’t getting my basic needs of food, water, warmth, rest, security, and safety. Once these needs were met after I quit using alcohol to make my problems worse, I was able to move on. I could start thinking about my relationships. Some unhealthy relationships had to end. Some relationships needed work. Some relationships needed a break to consider things. After a while, I was even ready to start new relationships. While this was going on, I wrote some books. I trained to be a Peer Support Worker. Now I'm taking university courses to get a Bachelor's Degree.


Thanks for reading.
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While you are here,

Lisa L'Heureux is the author of 7 books. Her work includes the Lisa's Sober Blog Series, This and the Man in the Moon and This One is About Domestic Violence. She lives in Alberta, Canada, with her family.

​More than 8 years ago, Lisa retired from practicing alcoholism.

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Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Leveraging Technology to Get Out of a Domestic Violence Situation

(This post is written and made possible by Techwarn, founded in March 2014 by a team of passionate bloggers as a website featuring the latest tech news from around the world. We are grateful for this post especially that it can help domestic violence survivors learn how they can protect themselves online.)

Domestic violence is not an isolated incident to only one part of the world. Sadly, it is ravaging a lot of homes and relationships even around us today.

The worst part of it all is that abusers seem to be finding new ways to keep their victims under their control. From extreme monitoring to cutting off the victim’s access to a possible support network, the possibilities are almost endless.

If you are a victim – or have been one – of domestic violence, this does not have to become your new reality. 

In this piece, we discuss the use of technology to protect domestic violence survivors and victims, among other things.

Preventing Surveillance
It is not uncommon for abusers to just show up to where their victims are, unannounced. This becomes creepier when the victim/ survivor does not remember ever sharing information about where they are with the abuser.

This is, sometimes, a psychologically tactic used by the abuser to make the victim feel powerless. After all, the survivor/ victim in this case would feel like they cannot outrun their abuser, no matter how much they try.

This is not true, though.

As long as you do not have anyone in your circle funneling the abuser with your movements, they could be using technology against you. Some things that you can do right now are:

- Turning off the location settings on your smartphone and other devices. The abuser could have synced up your device location to theirs so that they can know where you are at all times.
- Delete suspicious apps on your phone, especially if you do not remember installing them. They could be silent trackers/ parental control apps that are used to approximate your location at all times.
- Be careful of what you share on social media. Some social media pictures can be used to identify landmarks around where you are, giving off your location. Likewise, make sure your social media apps are not sharing your location information either.
- Have your car checked for trackers. It is recommended to take your car to an expert for this. Since trackers can be so small that they are hidden in inconspicuous areas, go for a thorough check.
- Get your phones/ laptops/ other devices checked for physical trackers too. This is especially important if these devices have ever been taken away from you in the past under the guise of getting a repair done, seizure, etc.


Communicating Safely
One of the many tactics that abusers employ is to ensure their victims cannot reach out to anyone for help.

Even though an abuser might seem like they have all the power, that is not true. Their only power is in isolation – and the support system of the abused person not knowing about what is going on. Thus, you have more power over them than they are letting on.

The problem here is that you might not be able to get any text/ call out without the abuser knowing about it. In that case, you can employ any of the following systems:

- Get a burner phone. Make sure this phone is well hidden too. It will be your go-to communication device with your support network as you plan to get out of the relationship.
- Go for encrypted communication channels. Examples of these are WhatsApp, Telegram, iMessage, and Signal. With their end-to-end encryption systems, you are not at risk of getting your chats broken into from a remote location.
- Never trust free or public Wi-Fi networks when communicating. Most of these networks are unencrypted and will leave you exposed to anyone who knows how to snoop around your internet data. If you must use an unencrypted network, make sure your connection is layered over a VPN.
- When browsing the internet, opt for an incognito mode of browsing instead. This way, you don’t have to worry about not clearing your browser history, getting your session logged, etc. You can pair your browsers with a VPN for an advanced level of data encryption and security too.
- Create a fresh email account for mail communications. Make sure this email account is never kept logged in. Only log in when you want to use it.
- Use public computers (in the library or an internet café) for highly-sensitive conversations.


Establishing Financial Independence
Still, on the side of control, it is not out of place for abusers to take control of their victim’s finances. This makes it harder to escape. After all, the victim is left cash-strapped if they do escape. 

Even before escaping, they might not be able to put some things in order for themselves. 

Everything, in this sense, hinges around money.
The banking model of nowadays is not helping matters either. All financial standings will have your name associated with them. Thus, it becomes easier for the abuser to know where their victim might hold anything of value.

Once again, though, technology steps up to make things easier for the soon-to-be survivor:

- Keep your bank accounts in your name. Ask your bank how easy it could be for a relative/ family member to take over your account. That should prepare you for circumstances when the abuser might want to make such moves
- Desist from using internet banking/ phone banking services. That way, your accounts are insulated from impersonation
- Don’t use cards. If you must get a card, make sure it is linked to your least funded account at any one time.
- Never subscribe to the idea of joint bank accounts. You might find it very difficult to access or lay claim to the money when you finally escape the relationship
- Put some money away slowly but steadily over time. In a little time, you will have a good stash of cash to make your first moves with
- If you are familiar with cryptocurrency, you can hold some of your money there. Since they are practically untraceable and anonymous, they provide a hedge to fall back too. The good news is that cryptocurrency also allows you to move your money across borders easily.


Documentation
All abusers should pay for what they have done, but we don’t want you to take the law into your hands either.

Unfortunately, most cases of domestic violence do not progress as they should under the legal system. This is usually because of a lack of evidence to support the claims. This should not be your portion.

Likewise, you can also leverage technology to stay documented for your own sake. Let’s see some of the ways to make these happen:

- Create a cloud storage folder with your new, secret email address (suggested above)
- Document all proofs of abuse (physical or otherwise) in the cloud folder. This will help you to create a stronger case to ensure that the abuser is brought to book and made to face the wrath of the law for their actions.
- Scan important documents (certificates, travel documents, licenses, receipts, etc.) and store a copy of them in your cloud folders. Doing so ensures the abuser cannot keep you under their thumb by holding on to a document of importance


Post-Escape Tips
When you finally get out of the relationship, you still have some work to do. 

These days, the claims of technology-enabled domestic abuse are on the rise. 

A roundup of the things to do as soon as you get out are:

- Changing your contact details: this will ensure your abuser does not get to reach you anymore. Share the new contact details with only your close friends and family. You can also choose to simply block them on all channels (social media, calls, text, etc.)
- Change your passwords: most abusers know the passwords of their victims. They can hold this over your head in retaliation. It is not uncommon for abusers to send distasteful emails to the victim’s employers, post explicit content on social media, etc. All these while impersonating the victim too.
- Leave behind any devices that the abuser might have bought for you. This could be a phone, laptop, smartwatch, etc. That way, they cannot report a theft with the police since they would be right. Remember to do a security wipe of the devices before you leave them though.
- Form a support network that you can reach out to in times of emergency. Once the abuser knows that you are never alone, they are less inclined to seek you out again. 
- Get in touch with a legal advisor/ relevant authority to build a case of domestic violence. This can earn you anything from a restraining order against the abuser to varying levels of judicial rulings against them.


Wrap Up
Domestic violence is never not ugly, and our heart goes out to everyone who is, or has been, in such a situation. Employing the tips in this guide, we believe it would become easier to leave the undesirable situation – and do so safely too.

______
Techwarn.com showcases the latest tech news, reviews, and downloads with coverage of entertainment, gadgets, security, enthusiast gaming, hardware, software and consumer electronics.  Techwarn has since grown to become a digital safety advocate, warning tech users of the dangers in the digital world and empowering users to take control of their digital lives.


Thanks for reading.
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While you are here,

Lisa L'Heureux is the author of 7 books. Her work includes the Lisa's Sober Blog Series, This and the Man in the Moon and This One is About Domestic Violence. She lives in Alberta, Canada, with her family.

​More than six years and nine months ago, Lisa retired from practicing alcoholism.

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Buy the Lisa's Sober Blog Books!

Like us on Facebook at Lisa's Sober Blog


Saturday, 5 September 2020

One Day At A Time

One day at a time. What does that mean really?

When I went to the treatment centre in 2013, it was the all-time low of my life. Believe me! I've been low before. Nothing compared to this.

While I was there, I remembered various comments in various rooms where the phrase "one day at a time" was written on the walls. I did not know what that meant. It wasn't as though you could do more that one day at once!

My life was in a shambles at the time, I was sick, I couldn't stand another drink. 

This simple phrase I contemplated daily because once I got home, I could not handle one day at a time. It was impossible. In fact, in those days, I sometimes could only do one minute at a time. Chaos prevailed. Depression was rampant.

I think after a while, either life changed, or else I got used to the mess. I got right to work, ironing out the mess that Drunk Lisa had left behind. If you had seen Drunk Lisa you would understand why I talk about myself as though I were another person back then! It's a joke but it's not. I know it was drunk me that did all those things.

So there I was, newly sober. I attended meetings back then. I still do today. I talk to other sober drunks. Every day, and I think I do this everyday litrally, I consider my life as a drunk. I consider my life while I am now sober. There's much I do today that I would have never been doing if I was drunk. 

I spent a good while apologizing. 

Now we know we cannot live more than one day at a time. However, do we know that in essence, thinking about tomorrow helps but it cannot change anything in the present moment? One day at a time also means to be present. Not dwelling in the past we can't do anything about.

One day at a time means that I have been given one day of reprieve from the incessant urge. The urge that would never let me rest. Today I am grateful. Today I can do the thing I could never do while I was a practicing drunk.

One day at time means today I add on the the length of days I have in sobriety. 

It means that today I may die. But I won't die drunk today.

Thanks for reading.
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While you are here,

Lisa L'Heureux is the author of 7 books. Her work includes the Lisa's Sober Blog Series, This and the Man in the Moon and This One is About Domestic Violence. She lives in Alberta, Canada, with her family.

More than six years and nine months ago, Lisa retired from practicing alcoholism.

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Buy the Lisa's Sober Blog Books!

Like us on Facebook at Lisa's Sober Blog


Monday, 6 July 2020

Six Years and Ten Months!!?!

Yes. It is true. It has been almost six years and ten months since I had my last alcoholic beverage. I can barely believe it myself. Had you been me seven years ago, you would not believe it either. I am glad about it. I am still delighted.

I have not posted in a while. You all might know what has been happening in the world lately. However, not many know I have two new children since February. I have had three of "my own" children over the past three years. They happened to be "born" to me at varying ages. Please do not ask me to explain all the quotation marks there, all I can say is, it is complicated. It is all a little complicated. Is it not said, Keep It Simple?

All said, good things can and do happen every day. With training. I have been able to see it. I hope that others can see it too. I train myself. I use a gratitude list. I focus on what needs to be done.




The take-away of my life right now is this: I am a raging alcoholic. By the grace of God, and I believe this with my whole heart, I have been granted a daily reprieve of my alcoholism. I know who I was praying to while I was a staggering drunk so nobody can say this does not exist to me. I already proved time and time again what I would do were I left to my own devices. I lost or destroyed or burned every bridge to every home I had since I was a teenager. In real life, I did not burn anything but maybe a cigarette since I was a teenager. Burnt bridges as a figure of speech... I did quit smoking cigarettes around the same time I quit drinking. I do not vape.

When I first quit drinking, I was sick. Over the years I have become healthier, I have aged too, but who knows what I might have been at if I had not quit the booze? I have seen my drinking friends, those who are still alive...




As the time goes by, being sober becomes more and more the normal for me. I enjoy outings and regular life without having to pick up a drink. Funnily, not funny, I generally got drunk rather quickly so either way, I was not necessarily there for any events anyway. In fact, one guy took me to a hockey game and at one point I was yelling at him and another moment I was asleep in the stands. Please do not get me wrong, I like hockey. The booze took that away from me. I still do not watch enough. However, life has become busy. Later, I keep telling myself, later I will do this or that. I am not fooling myself. I know there are things I will never do again in this life. If drinking alcohol is one of those things then I shall be a happy woman.




Life is a blur sometimes. It is said, time flies when you are having fun!

Thanks for reading.
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While you are here,

Lisa L'Heureux is the author of 7 books. Her work includes the Lisa's Sober Blog Series, This and the Man in the Moon and This One is About Domestic Violence. She lives in Alberta, Canada, with her family.

​More than six years and nine months ago, Lisa retired from practicing alcoholism.

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Buy the Lisa's Sober Blog Books!

Like us on Facebook at Lisa's Sober Blog


Thursday, 5 December 2019

I Am Sober

It's been six years now. I still wake up fresh some mornings like, can this be real? How did this happen? It wasn't ten years ago when I slipped on the ice in a back alley. I was crossing the tracks in North Battleford, SK. I lay there on my back, staring at the night sky. There's this huge light that flashes across the sky all night there from the casino. My heart was beating hard. I continued to lay there. A couple of tears squeezed out of my eyes and coldly ran down the side of my head. I cried out, begging to die now or else be saved from this life. The casino lamps flashed around. This wasn't the first time I begged this same thing. This time, and times thereafter, I cried and I prayed.

I wasn't completely sick yet that day. I had to go quite a ways down still afterwards before the end came. But the end did come and that's why I'm writing here today. Six years ago I was sober. I was very sick though. It was years before I could boast any semblance of health. I don't really boast you know. I did nothing on my own. In fact, those years leading up to the end of my drinking career were the very proof of what I would do if left to my own devices. I made a lot of bad decisions. Some of those I live with day to day. But it's ok. I think I can live because I am sober. I believe that everything is going to work itself out. I just need to do my part. That is not pick up a drink today.

Then do the same thing tomorrow.



Thanks for reading.
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While you are here,

Lisa L'Heureux is the author of 7 books. Her work includes the Lisa's Sober Blog Series, This and the Man in the Moon and This One is About Domestic Violence. She lives in Alberta, Canada, with her family.

​More than six years ago, Lisa retired from practicing alcoholism.

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Buy the Lisa's Sober Blog Books!

Like us on Facebook at Lisa's Sober Blog

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Here!

I saw a post on Facebook today from a recovery centre close to me. It was of Macklemore talking about his recovery. I wanted to like the video on YouTube, so while I was searching it, I found his video Starting Over. I gotta tell ya, I almost cried so hard when I listened to that song. FYI: I am still sober. It has been more than six years since I was drunk or had my last alcoholic drink.

My bio mom passed away over the summer. A lot has changed. I guess one of the reasons I got a tear in my eye when I listened to the song was partly because I thought about my mom. In the beginning, she was so happy about her recovery. The day she sobered up for good was New Years and she was seven years alcohol-free at her passing. Another reason is because of the friend I lost long ago who was a drinker. It has been over ten years now since I saw him last. In fact, I have several friends who did not make it back to starting over. May they rest in peace. A moment of silence...

🙏

Six years does not feel that long when I think about how I feel about my sobriety. I would have to say I am as careful today with it as I was in the beginning. I respect sobriety like a friend I know that could kill me in an instant. Really. Yesterday, I was in the restaurant with my love when he (he's sober too) bought a non-alcoholic malt raspberry drink. It fizzed at the top like a beer, (I think, it's been a long time), and offered me a sip. "Are you sure it doesn't have alcohol in it?" That's me at more than six years sobriety. I am careful.

One thing I do, which I know can be dangerous for my recovery, is I occasionally get mad, angry, livid and sometimes hold grudges for a little while. Strong feeling like this have brought me to the bottle before. Trying to remain sober and happy? Don't hold grudges! Forgive! I know, I know. My adopted mum used to say, "Practice what you preach." Honestly? Yes, I strive to be honest. If I am mad, I don't hide it much. I still have a little bit of a temper. Why did my one sponsor tell me, "You have to be like this, *gestures a straight horizontal line* with your emotions."? I cannot agree with that for myself just yet. I like feelings. I also feel happy, elated, glad, enthusiastic, etc. The list goes on. When I first quit drinking, I used to feel annoyed, angry, sad and depressed. Not much of an array for feelings back then at all.

Today I am not and was not particularly upset about anything. The music video caught me off guard. I get busy with the day to day things. The past, the good, the bad, the ugly, sneaks its way in when I am not expecting it. I realized how much my sobriety means to me, how very important it is, and how much I missed sharing about it here at my blog. No matter what, sobriety remains high priority on my list of items I am truly grateful about. I didn't have much of a life when I was drinking. I didn't have many, or any friends, I was lonely even when I was around a bunch of people. I was totally lost.

Things are different for me now. I enjoy the day to day experiences as much as I can. There are obviously certain things I don't like, radiation, my mom's cancer, sickness, being hurt, being treated badly, ugh, all things I abhor. I do not set my focus on this bad stuff though. I can not. Another thing I cannot do is isolate. I have to keep talking to people. There's no way around it. I also have to share. I also have to donate some of my time and some of my money to others. I cannot just think about myself all the time. 

Over the six sober years, I have figured some answers out. First, and this is what many people ask is "What is your secret of staying sober for such a long time?" Truthfully, I don't pick up. That's the main thing. Spiritually, I pray, I am grateful. Physically, I am conscious of eating better, and exercising. Mentally, I work hard, I do a lot of schoolwork. I have friends, I talk to people, I write pages, I listen to music. My health is important to me. The second most asked question is, "Do you miss drinking?" The answer is a resounding no. I never miss drinking. I did that plenty before. I might still die later on from the after effects, (like cancer). 

I understand that my not drinking today is a daily reprieve. I am grateful that I have never had the urge to drink in at least five years. I don't know exactly when the urge went away but I knew one day it was gone. Otherwise I would have drank. That's the truth. The urge to drink was always what got me going and made me drink again. I also prayed and tried to quit drinking for years before it finally kept for this long.

Thanks for reading.
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While you are here,

Lisa L'Heureux is the author of 7 books. Her work includes the Lisa's Sober Blog Series, This and the Man in the Moon and This One is About Domestic Violence. She lives in Alberta, Canada, with her family.

​More than six years ago, Lisa retired from practicing alcoholism.

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They can be purchased at Lisa's e-Store and More
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