Animals Reveal to Maribeth Her Gift of Virtual Mind-Melding (Part 2)

Intuitive animal communicator Maribeth Decker believes it was her training as a Reiki Master that opened her spirit to her pets’ attempts to communicate with her.

meeting-a-kangaroo-in-a-unexpected-placeThe International Center for Reiki Training defines Reiki as “a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.” It is “based on the idea that an unseen ‘life force energy’ flows through us and is what causes us to be alive.”

“The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words—Rei, which means ‘God’s Wisdom or the Higher Power,’ and Ki, which is ‘life force energy.’ So Reiki is actually ‘spiritually guided life force energy.’”

Maribeth didn’t realize immediately it was the training that opened the door. The realization came only on reflection on what changed to allow her pets—dead and alive—to open lines of communication.

“It took me until I had my dog Tibor to realize something really has changed here,” Maribeth said in a phone interview. “My animals are communicating with me intuitively. They’re showing up after they’ve passed and making themselves known. They’re telling me what they think. They’re sharing visions with me. And I think it was Reiki that started me on that path, which I guess I was meant to do, obviously.”

logo-2-1Maribeth owns and operates SacredGrove.com, “where people and pets heal and connect.” She connects “telepathically with animals to allow people to have a two-way conversation with them.” This allows animal and human to solve issues between them, such as anxiety or aggression issues. But she is not a pet trainer or behaviorist. She simply allows humans and animals to communicate.

Maribeth performs a quick mediation to “connect intuitively, telepathically, through a mind-to-mind—if you watched enough Star Trek, it’s a mind-meld, but not really,” she said laughing. “It’s not a physical connection. I don’t have to be staring in their eyes or hypnotize them.” In fact, Maribeth prefers connecting over the phone or a video call to lessen distractions.

“I connect to the animal and see how they show up,” Maribeth said. “It seems like they walk into my office and hang out during the session. They might slink in, dance in, strut in—however they show up gives us information about how they feel. At some level, they’re actually in the room with me.” And Maribeth’s dogs react to their presence. “If it’s a cat, I’ll just say, ‘That’s Tibor, and Tibor doesn’t mind cats. He won’t bug you.’ And my little dog, Stella, when some of the animals show up, she’ll whine a little bit, like she knows there’s something else in the room with us.

“Then I ask what they’d like to share and start a conversation about what the person wants to talk about. If we find the animal has negative thoughts, emotions, or memories, I will do energy healing to release them. Many times, we also do some emotional release for the person around the issue. Sometimes I’ll get body aches and pains, or sensations, that sort of physical information.”

If there are behavior issues, Maribeth talks to the animal about the person’s feelings, such as when the cat doesn’t use the litter box or the dog barks at every other dog on walks. Then she shows them a mental image of how the person would like them to behave and shows the person’s emotional reaction of joy or relief once the animal starts to change its behavior.

If it’s called for, Maribeth will also perform some energy healing to resolve issues that linger for both human and non-human animal.

“If people want to, I will take them on a visualization to enter the brainwaves that I was taught is most effective in communicating with animals,” Maribeth said. “It is my hope I can help them to start picking up things themselves. My picture is that there’s an animal communicator in every family, and one available in every veterinary office and animal rescue center. And if I give people the chance to feel that connection, then that just opens the door for them to have that ability.”

Not every session works out in the human’s favor, however. One client had a dog that liked to chase skunks. “We were talking about how yucky that was for the human and how the smell was awful. And we actually got more of a lecture from the dog saying, ‘Well, our tastes are different between humans and dogs and I find the smell delightful.’ I don’t think we convinced her she should stop.

“I don’t think we think about the fact that animals have free will, just like human beings,” Maribeth said. And just like humans, they can be forced into a behavior, but it’s neither right for humans or non-humans. You can enslave humans and treat animals the same, but recognizing their free will, understanding the motivation behind the behavior, and seeking change through communication is the more humane way for people and animals.

Maribeth doesn’t expect that the quizzical smirks she at times encounters at networking meetings will disappear.

“Honestly, I still get surprised when I have a session with a dog in New York City who has been acting rather nutty at the owner’s place of business who’s doing better. I say to myself, ‘Wow, this stuff works!’”

Maribeth’s book, Peace in Passing: Comfort for Loving Humans during Animal Transitions, tells many stories of people and pets Maribeth has connected in life and death and the peace it has brought them. I had a hand in persuading Maribeth to write the book and I was her editor. It persuaded me her gift is real and precious.

Read: Maribeth Finds Her Spirituality—and Her Gift (Part 1)

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Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.

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Maribeth Finds Her Spirituality—and Her Gift (Part 1)

maribeth-aboutImagine you have an unusual gift you have turned into a career. But when you tell people at networking mixers, their initial reaction is a quizzical smirk.

Welcome to the life of Maribeth Decker, intuitive animal communicator. Maribeth owns and operates SacredGrove.com, “where people and pets heal and connect.” She connects “telepathically with animals to allow people to have a two-way conversation with them.” This allows animal and human to solve issues between them, such as anxiety or aggression issues. But Maribeth is not a pet trainer or behaviorist. She simply allows humans and animals to communicate.

That includes communicating with pets that have passed, a subject she tackles in her book, Peace in Passing: Comfort for Loving Humans during Animal Transitions. The book tells the stories of people and pets Maribeth has connected in life and death and the peace it has brought them. (Full disclosure: I had a hand in persuading Maribeth to write the book and I was her editor.)

On her website, Maribeth says she didn’t come out of the womb and immediately begin to talk to the animals. But she has had an ethereal connection since a very young age.

logo-2-1“What happened to me was that as a young teenager, probably 12 or 13, I had what I consider a major spiritual experience,” she told me in a phone interview. “I was going to Catholic education classes, CCD, and was wondering if there was a God. So I asked if there was a God and, lo and behold, I had an experience that said, ‘Yes, absolutely yes.’ What astonished me was I received a response in such a clear way that I knew I wasn’t making it up. I had the experience of understanding that God—and I mean that in the non-generic way—The Creator—infuses everything around us, and because It infuses everything around us, we don’t notice it. What The Creator did was give me a sense of what it would be like if It wasn’t infusing our whole life. And it felt like somebody had sucked the air out of the planet for a little bit, and I thought, ‘Oh, oh, I get it.’ And then the air came back.

“What I learned is we live in a world where we are surrounded by a loving and intelligent Creator. That question was answered very clearly.”

Maribeth did not share her experience then. Catholic classes taught her about saints and others who had had such spiritual awakenings but she did not feel—and still doesn’t feel—she was on a level of saints and didn’t want to be accused of claiming to be.

She had a second spiritual awakening in her early twenties by gaining sobriety through the 12-step program. “I did have another experience of incredible love and forgiveness, which was just like a waterfall cleansing me. … That was another affirmation that I was still loved and that I still had a spiritual connection available to me. And it became a part of me and how I saw the world in a more positive vein.”

Still, it would be decades before that spirituality revealed itself in the gift of animal communications. First came marriage and the bearing and raising of two children while engrossed in a career in the U.S. Navy. “On the life to-do list, connecting in a big way with unseen forces was not there at the top,” Maribeth said. Raising the children, making a living, and making a marriage work were much higher priorities.

It wasn’t until Maribeth became a Reiki Master in 2007–2008 that she came to realize her animals—alive and dead—were attempting to communicate with her. And thus began her journey into another side of spirituality she didn’t realize existed.

(Next: Animals Reveal to Maribeth Her Gift of Virtual Mind-Melding.)

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Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.

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Build Your Credibility with Style

I recently read a press release from a healthcare organization that spelled “healthcare” as a noun, but also spelled it “health care” and “health-care.”  All may be acceptable spellings, but to spell it three ways in a 500-word release is distracting, to say the least, and credibility-damaging, to say the most.

CVC-StyleGuide-RD2If you communicate as a company, organization, or personal brand, you need a personal style guide based on a standardized stylebook. They provide consistency to your messaging. Without them, you’re at the whim of the moment.

For example, do you use the Oxford comma—also known as the serial comma—before a conjunction in lists of three or more? Is it the Washington Post with a lower-case, unitalicized “the” or The Washington Post?  Should The Washington Post be italicized? Is it acceptable to use CVC in first reference to Consistent Voice Communications? Why is The Washington Post italicized and Consistent Voice Communications isn’t?

Those are the questions stylebooks and style guides answer. For the purposes of this blog, a stylebook is a commercial publication, such as The Associated Press Stylebook or The Chicago Manual of Style. A style guide is an organization’s in-house publication. A style guide usually builds on and provides exceptions to a stylebook.  It also provides style information particular to that organization. For consistency, every business and organization should have one.

That’s why my company is giving away our style guide for businesses and organizations. We hope you’ll steal from it and use it as a guide to build your own. Then you and everyone else in your organization will use AM and PM, or am and pm, or a.m. or p.m. consistently. You’ll also build your credibility. Yes, I’m a stickler, but I’m not the only one who wonders if I can trust a company that is careless with its language.

A quick quiz: Is the correct spelling “adviser” or “advisor”?

According to Merriam-Webster, both are acceptable. So you can use “advisor” all through your copy or “adviser” all through your copy. You can even interchange them throughout your copy and still be technically correct, like using healthcare, health care, and health-care.

Because the dictionary advises both adviser and advisor are correct, a style guide would spell out one or the other as the “authorized” spelling for your organization. (Some dictionaries note “advisor” is the preferred spelling. If your style guide designates a dictionary as your base dictionary that makes that distinction, you don’t need to list it in your style guide.)

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t be. By basing your style guide on stylebooks, you don’t have to completely reinvent the wheel. Three of the most popular stylebooks are the aforementioned The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style, along with the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. In addition, many organizations have their own stylebooks publicly available, such as the American Psychological Association, which many healthcare organization use as their base stylebook.

The Chicago Manual of Style is your generalist stylebook. But if your target audience is the media, choose The AP Stylebook as your baseline. If your target audience is the world of scholars, choose the MLA Style Manual.

Then build on it. If “The” is part of your name, as it is for The Washington Post and The Associated Press, your style guide would reflect that. If CVC is acceptable to use in a second reference for Consistent Voice Communications and in media release headlines, your style guide would reflect that.

The English language is inconsistent. Stylebooks and style guides provide that consistency—and help your organization build its credibility. Download our style guide today and start building credibility through consistency.

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Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.

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Give Your Brain & Heart a Boost on World Chocolate Day

To prepare for this post, I ate a couple of Snickers Minis.

Cheerful woman eating chocolate © Can Stock Photo konradbakToday is World Chocolate Day. Chocolate is good for the heart and brain, studies show, so if you have been avoiding it to slim down you just may have a stupid heart attack. It also reduces stress in women, which is why chocolate is a popular and heartwarming Valentine’s Day gift.

Forget why you walked into a room? Drink a cup or two of hot chocolate.  Harvard Medical School scientists found that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day reduces memory decline in old folks. It apparently increases blood flow to the brain for two to three hours. But you don’t have to be a geezer to enjoy the benefits. Flavonoids in chocolate have been shown to increase brain power in youngin’s too.

A study conducted in Denmark found consumption of dark chocolate results in a significantly lower risk of being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a dangerous type of irregular heartbeat. The study didn’t say you wouldn’t develop it, only that you won’t be diagnosed with it. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Speaking of bliss, chocolate also is associated with increased endorphins, that feel-good brain chemical. It triggers a neurotransmitter similar to consuming marijuana. A legal high in all states! (Keep this quiet though so the government doesn’t feel a need to regulate or outlaw it.) Chocolate is so powerful that its buzz lasts longer than the most passionate kiss, according to one study.

Which doesn’t mean chocolate will slow you down in bed. The compound theobromine in chocolate is thought to make it a mild aphrodisiac.

Chocolate also contains a substantial amount of magnesium, which reduces stress by suppressing the release of the stress hormone cortisol.

So stop stressing about eating chocolate and instead embrace its benefits to your brain and heart. Give it to a lover and you just may get lucky tonight. World Chocolate Day: Valentine’s Day in July.

Resources:

Sunni, Ahmed Al, and Rabia Latif. “Effects of chocolate intake on Perceived Stress; a Controlled Clinical Study.” International Journal of Health Sciences. October 2014. Accessed July 07, 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4350893/.

Alban, Deane. “9 Brain Boosting Benefits of Dark Chocolate.” Be Brain Fit. June 19, 2017. Accessed July 07, 2017. https://bebrainfit.com/brain-benefits-dark-chocolate/.

“Health | Chocolate ‘better than kissing’.” BBC News. April 16, 2007. Accessed July 07, 2017. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6558775.stm.

Nordqvist, Joseph. “Chocolate: Health Benefits, Facts, and Research.” Medical News Today. June 1, 2016. Accessed July 07, 2017. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270272.php.

“Study strengthens case for heart benefit in chocolate.” Harvard Gazette. June 26, 2017. Accessed July 07, 2017. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/06/study-strengthens-case-for-heart-benefit-in-chocolate/.

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Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.

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Learning Enough about Graphic Design to be Dangerous

My graphic design skills are minimal at best. Still, whenever I write copy for a client’s brochure, flier, or website, I sketch it out to make sure the copy fits. I attended Calibre Systems graphic designer Lauma Wingrove’s workshop this week, titled Build a Flier That Sells, to pick up some pointers to better sketch my ideas and better marry my copy to design.

graphicdesignwordcloudThere’s a psychology behind graphic design, Wingrove said. Color. Placement. Font choices. Shapes. White space. Photos. They all tell the viewer something on a subconscious level and can make or break your message.

One of the biggest mistakes designers make is to cram too much text on a flier. “If it’s not absolutely necessary, leave it out,” Wingrove told participants at the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce Coffee & Conversation workshop. Instead, she said, direct the viewer to your website for more information.

When using text, confine it to a maximum of three fonts and consider the hierarchy, Wingrove said. The first level is read by the viewer and should be noticeable and in your face. It should be in a san serif font. The second level is skimmed by the viewer. The third level is virtually ignored.

Make the text easy to read. All caps are difficult for the brain to decipher, as are drop shadows. Diagonal text draws the eye. Straight line text connotes stability and horizontal text connotes movement.

Being a word guy, my notes don’t reflect much on color or shapes. Wingrove did say to choose colors based on their emotional impact. Dark blue, for instance, signifies stability and confidence. Red, in addition to being the color of love, signifies excitement to the brain. Use yellow to be playful and orange to connote affordability. HubSpot has an excellent infographic on using color in graphic design.

Circles, not surprisingly, suggest unity to the brain. Squares and triangles signify stability.

Two other elements are critical to every design. First and foremost is your audience. Who is your audience and what do they need to know? What is going to attract them? Build your design with your audience in mind.

Also, make sure you have a call to action. After all, you’re building a flier that sells.

I won’t be designing brochures or fliers any time soon. My graphic designer, John Body of BodyShots, will continue to marry my words to a layout that sells. Unfortunately for him, I now have enough knowledge on design to be dangerous.

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Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.

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Move Your Story File Out of Your Head

Whenever someone asks if I have a story file, I say, “Yes,” and point to my head.

Portrait of a smiling senior woman reading a book at home Old-fashioned style Can Stock Photo Inc.  prometeusBut after attending two storytelling workshops in recent weeks, I have started a written story file. Retrieving stories from a brain that can’t remember why it directed me to walk into a room is iffy at best. I’ll probably miss the best one to illustrate the point I want to make. Having them stored in written form makes it more likely to hit on the right one.

What kinds of stories should go into the file? All kinds, because you never know how they may fit in. For example, here are a few stories from my file that haven’t made it into a speech yet, either because they weren’t available in my head when I was looking for them or I haven’t raised a point yet that they fulfill.

Story 1: I was climbing up a tree-lined mountain trail with a 50-pound pack on my back. I was 11 years old and 80 pounds soaking wet. And I was soaking wet. It had been raining since my Boy Scout troop began the climb. The rain turned to hail. The hail turned to snow, then back to rain. Rivers of water pushed rivers of mud beneath my feet. I slipped and fell, my cold young hands buried in the nearly freezing muck. I began to cry. Our scoutmaster, my dad, pulled me up by my collar. “Real men don’t cry,” he growled. “Get moving!”

Fast-forward 41 years. My 19-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer. We rode the muddy river through hell, up the mountain and back again. One night we nearly lost her. On my way home from the hospital, a river of tears broke the dam. I was crying so hard there may as well have been a blinding thunderstorm outside the car. But the storm was behind the wheel, not in front of it. Unable to see, I pulled onto the shoulder until the storm passed, thunder erupting from my vocal chords as my body shook in violent spasms.

Real men do cry.

OK, that’s actually two stories that make a point. Perhaps I can find a couple more and actually make a speech from it. The next two don’t make a particular point, yet.

Story 2: My wife and I were concerned my dog, Galadriel, would be a danger to our newborn twins. Galadriel by then was about 7 years old and never liked children. She had to be locked up whenever children visited because she would attack them. A day or two after the twins came home, some friends came over to meet them. Galadriel knew the couple and liked them. But when we sent them down the hall unescorted, Galadriel scooted past them, sat at the entrance to the twins’ bedroom, bared her teeth, and growled. It was only when my wife and I came down the hall that our friends were allowed in the bedroom. Those were her pups now.

Story 3: Matt and Peter Viaggio lived across the street from my two older brothers and me. We were good friends. Except when we were fighting each other, which was often. At those times, our parents would forbid us from seeing or playing with each other for a week or a month, depending on the seriousness of the fight. After a few days, however, we were sneaking in play time. I don’t think we fought while we were on suspension—but we would as soon as the suspension ended!

Those three stories are among the first dozen to go into my story file. With more than six decades of memories, there will be many more. What’s in your story file? Have you written them down or are they still bouncing around your head? If they’re in your head, do you remember why you walked into the room?


Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.

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History of the United States Flows through Fairfax County, Virginia

The history of the United States flows through Fairfax County, Virginia. Two of our Founding Fathers called the county home, George Washington and George Mason. Washington and Mason were the brains behind the Fairfax Resolves, the first document to outline the colonies’ grievances against England.

historic courthouse 600But it goes much further back than that. Capt. John Smith explored the Potomac River area of the county as far north as Great Falls in 1609, shortly after the founding of Jamestown. And, it didn’t end with our first president’s death, either. The first turnpike in America, a 15-mile stretch of Little River Turnpike, ran through the county to Washington, DC.

The Historic Fairfax County Courthouse opened in 1800, the same year as the U.S. Capitol and the White House. And, of course, one of the first land battles in the Civil War occurred at the courthouse, which led to the first Confederate officer to die in the war. A monument to the officer, Capt. John Quincy Marr, stands outside the courthouse. The monument faces north, as do the two Civil War cannons on either side of the monument.

Those are some of the tidbits Jenée Lindner, president of Friends of the Historic Fairfax Courthouse, shared Wednesday at the courthouse during a lecture titled, “Who Was the Fairfax Family? The Colonial History of Fairfax County.” The lecture was part of a series of ongoing events celebrating the 275th anniversary of the county’s founding.

The county receives its name from Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron. He is the son of Thomas Fairfax, 5th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, and Catherine Culpeper, heiress to Leeds Castle, Kent, England, and of the land that would become Fairfax County. While Fairfax laid claim to the land with his marriage to Catherine, Culpeper County and the incorporated town of Culpeper, about an hour’s drive southwest of the courthouse, pay tribute to her family’s contributions to the founding and development of Virginia.

historic courthouse plaque 600Culpeper met Fairfax when he rescued her after a probate hearing during which she successfully wrested control of her inheritance from her father’s mistress, Lindner said. She was just 19 and a mob of men clawed at her following the judge’s decision. Lord Fairfax picked her up and carried her safely to her carriage. The rest, as they say, is history. (Actually, that’s history too, if you’re keeping score.)

Our nation’s first president is closely tied to the Fairfax family. The family schooled Washington in high society customs and traditions after Washington’s father died when George was 11. Washington and Bryan Fairfax, son of the 6th Lord’s cousin William Fairfax, would become lifelong friends. Bryan Fairfax also would inherit the title of 8th Lord.

Not surprisingly, Bryan Fairfax and Washington had different views of breaking with England. Bryan Fairfax strongly urged Washington not to endorse the Fairfax Resolves. He wrote a lengthy letter outlining his protests that was delivered to Washington the day of the vote, Lindner said. But Fairfax remained neutral during the war.

After the war, the two men socialized regularly. In a sign of how strong their bond was, Martha Washington asked Bryan Fairfax to be chief mourner at Washington’s funeral. Martha was too distraught to attend.

On the other hand, Washington and Mason, an instrumental pairing in the founding of the United States, rarely spoke after Mason refused to sign the Constitution over its lack of Bill of Rights, Lindner said. The eventual Bill of Rights added to the Constitution is largely based on Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights, which was added to the Virginia Constitution in 1776. James Madison, another Virginian, ushered them through Congress. They were ratified in 1791.

Mason’s ideas also crossed the Atlantic Ocean. His Declaration of Rights influenced the French Declaration of Rights of Man and the Citizen, which was issued after the French Revolution. Not to be outdone, the Fairfax influence crossed the continent when Charles Snowden Fairfax, 10th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, caught the ‘49er Gold Rush fever. He and his wife, Ada, officially settled in Marin County, California, in an area now called Fairfax, California, in 1855.

Fairfax County, Virginia, has had its economic ups and downs over the centuries. It remained primarily agricultural until its growth spurt began in 1930, coinciding with the growth of the federal government under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Today its economy is diverse and international, with 400 foreign-owned companies representing 45 countries operating within its borders, along with eight Fortune 500 companies. And the county continues to influence. Celebrity database company IMDb lists 113 celebrities who were born in the county. Olympians and an astronaut also called the county home.

Although the Fairfax nobles have resided exclusively in London, England, for three generations, Nicholas Fairfax, 14th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, will cross the pond to help celebrate the anniversary with his wife, Annabel. While here, he will lecture on what Brexit means to Great Britain and the European Union. The Fairfax history and its effect on the world continues.

Additional sources:

Fairfax History – Page 1. Accessed June 1, 2017. http://marindirect.com/fxhistory/history.html.

“History of Fairfax County, Virginia.” Accessed June 1, 2017. http://www.fairfaxcountyeda.org/history-fairfax-county-virginia.


Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.

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