A note from someone left behind

Do you understand what losing someone to suicide is really like? Do you know what it’s like to be someone left behind? Do you think you have a better idea after watching the latest TV show? Well, I watched it. And my best friend killed herself when I was 15. Here’s my two cents.

The latest Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” was another show clogging up my social media newsfeed. Much like a viral funny video, a big news story or controversial celebrity gossip, you start to see it everywhere and it makes you quite curious. I am on social media constantly working my business so I tend to be on the up and up with trendy things in pop culture.

When I heard about the show, I googled it and saw the subject matter. At first I was surprised to see this subject matter as a mainstream Netflix series. I was intrigued. I am a mental health advocate. I’m part of a non-profit surf organization, One Wave,  which is raising awareness for mental health so I am very vocal about this difficult and often taboo subject matter. I lost my best friend to suicide in 2006 and grew up with my mother suffering from severe mental health issues. My family is also riddled with mental illness and I suffer from mental health issues myself. So, I may not be a psychologist or a doctor, but I have a lot of real-life first hand experience that I feel must be shared.

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What is it really like to have ADHD and anxiety?

Why are you thinking so much? Did you take your medicine?

You’re in a great mood, why are you worrying about that?

Why can’t you focus? Use some self control.. Come on.

But you really should be starting this now instead….after you send that email and check on that load of laundry. Oh look, you forgot about that you started yesterday. What should you really be doing right now?

It’s not that it won’t let you focus, it lets you focus on 75 things at once. That’s normal, right?

When you finally get that focus channeled, there is no stopping you. It may be hours dedicated to one task or project.

When you lose the passion and excitement for the task, it’s hard to recreate that type of focus.

When you don’t feel passionate about something, you will do it but it has some strange soul sucking quality to it. Don’t they feel that too?

When you feel nervous about the smallest thing, even though it has no relevance to the situation.

When your room or your house is a mess you literally feel sick to your stomach, and your eyes and brain are darting around the room endlessly.  If you just clean it you’ll feel better.

When you don’t want to have a plan, you’re a free spirit. But you need a plan. You need the steps to follow.  You’re nervous with one and you’re helpless without one.
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Make your bed= Change your life?

 So the burning question? Should you make your bed? JK.

Everyone is asking me…How is New Zealand?

I know you are picturing me in wide open grassy fields with picturesque mountains, huge sparkly lakes and perfect flowers in the foreground. Maybe bungee jumping, diving into caves or sipping wine in sunny vineyards? Quintessential adventure traveling in New Zeland. I wish that was the case but the nomad lifestyle isn’t always what Instagram portrays it to be. No matter how positive my attitude is the adjustment into a new country, culture, and lifestyle is never simple especially when you leave everything to sort out once you’ve already arrrived. Bank accounts, hours searching for apartments, flatshares, house shares, Air Bnb’s online and then viewing them only to be told they aren’t available for short term leases or you’re sharing the apartment with 6 other strangers. No wifi, finding new phone plans. This is not a rant or a complaining session, it’s simply a dose of reality because I want to help my readers to understand all aspects of the nomad lifestyle, even the not so sexy parts.


Luckily, my first week in New Zealand did start on a high note. My favorite nonprofit organization, One Wave celebrated it’s 4th birthday last Friday. If you haven’t read my blog before or you’re just stopping by One Wave is a non profit surf organization raising awareness for mental health by dressing up in Fluro gear every Friday and heading to the beach for surfing, yoga, and some serious heart to hearts about what it’s like to suffer from mental health struggles. This organization introduced me to the coolest humans and my closest friends in Australia and I was stoked when I found out for the 4th birthday they were celebrating at the a beach suburb in Auckland, Takapuna, which coincidentally was a 25 minute walk from our Air Bnb. I see you Universe, you beautiful thing.

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Harry experienced his first Fluro, I got to see my Fluro sista from Sydney who recently moved back to NZ, and we paddle boarded in the serene waters at Takapuna Beach. Nothing could make me feel more welcome than bringing my normal Friday tradition with me to my new home. Harry and I headed to the city for brunch and then entered into the life admin stage. Adulting sucks sometimes.

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Repacking My Life and My Blog

Never fear, my free form headspace articles have not been forgotten. As my blog has evolved over the past few years, I have felt the desire to do more with it. With daydreams of being a nomad,  I have watched countless webinars and read many blog posts on how to turn your blog into a profitable business. I already have my own coaching business which I began separately from my blog. I started my blog as my passion project, a way to communicate with my friends and family when I moved abroad to Thailand in 2013. I had NO IDEA what would come of it.

At the time, I was graduating with my MA from WVU in Secondary Education with a specialization in English. My BA was in English. Since I was a young child, I loved to write. I loved reading, creative writing, and creating entire fictional universes. I couldn’t understand why my classmates hated writing so much. If the assignment was one page I wrote three. I couldn’t fathom why it was so difficult for most people, but it just came so naturally to me.

Take a minute and think of your favorite teacher you’ve ever had. Every single one of us have “that teacher.” For me it was my 9th and 10th grade English teacher, Chapman. Chap. Chapstick (my personal favorite.) He is a living legend when it comes to teaching and he saw something in me I couldn’t yet see in myself. I am happy today to call him a friend and mentor to this day. In recent years and more stints living in foreign countries, I haven’t spoke to him as frequently as I would like but he will always be someone who I credit for my passion for English and especially writing. He made me believe I had something special, an actual talent. Mind you, both my parents were incredible teachers and my mother was a phenomenal English teacher whom I greatly admire,  but it’s really hard to believe your parents when they tell you you’re “special.” Mr. Chapman was that teacher for me and for that, I will always be grateful. I wanted to pursue this hobby because of him and I’m not sure where I would be without that spark to this deeply burning flame.

In high school, shortly after Chapman’s English class, my best friend tragically committed suicide. How on earth does a 15 year old cope with that pain? Partying. Check. Drugs. Check. Numbing the pain. Check. Writing. Check. Writing was my saving grace. I turned to this former hobby and past time as a form of therapy- an escape. This was really the only healthy coping tool I had at the time. I didn’t share much with others but finally I decided to share something I wrote for the one year anniversary of Corey’s death(which I shared again here for the piece I wrote about the 10th anniversary earlier this year.) I quickly realized that my words could help people. They could reach people. They might even be able to save people.  Then I thought they might be saving me.

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Single, Taken, Heartbreakin: Why we all need Self-Love

Valentine’s Day seems to be a day we obsess over being in love and more so being lonely. I have friends who hate Valentine’s day whether they are in a relationship or single. But love is so much more than the feeling that people share in a romantic partnership. How can you love yourself a little more today? Are you sick of hearing about self-love? Are you confused by what people even mean by that term? I don’t care if you’re married, divorced, or a baby right out of the womb- we all deserve our own affection, attention and adoration. Self-love is a necessary component to being fulfilled, challenged and whole. Ultimately, you loving yourself shapes a better world for all of us. What should you remember to ensure you’re practicing self-love today and everyday?

It’s not selfish– People are typically hesitant to take time for themselves. “I’m too busy.” We pour ourselves fully into our jobs, families, lovers and hobbies so that at the end of the day what is left over for us? Nada. It’s not selfish to put yourself first in fact, that is the only way to ensure you are the greatest lover, teacher, friend, daughter, mother, or  coworker possible. You cannot pour from an empty cup. The first step towards loving yourself fully is realizing it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

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The 2016 Collection: Change 

Change


“When you focus on changing yourself for the better, everything around you gets better too. My goal is to continue to fight HARD to be the best me I can be. I am so happy with my life right now but that is a continual process not a finish line.”

“I tried to get a few friends to come with me but everyone was busy, instead of NOT going I decided just to go by myself.People are friendlier than you think, JUST GO FOR IT.”

“If you are brokenhearted by the “perfect guy” I promise you that is not your good guy. As hard as that might be to accept, in hindsight you will see it all too clearly. A good guy is not your whole life but he makes your heart feel whole. You will never forget the pain of true heartbreak but luckily it shapes you into an even better partner to your good guy.”

“Traveling and being an entrepreneur have both opened my eyes to following MY path even if it’s not the path I expected. “A #girlboss is someone who’s in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it…You’re a fighter-you know when to throw punches and when to roll with them”

I am learning and growing and being pushed to better myself every single day. I am immersed in a world full of dreamers and it’s so much better on the other side.”

 “Because I believed that the best was yet to come… the best came and is still coming.”

“So whether you are having a shit week or an awesome one, the moments are fleeting and the impermanence of your circumstance is what makes life the unique, fragile and beautiful experience that it is. Carry love with you and spread it around whenever you can and I promise if you do that, when you need love, it will be there for you.”

“I don’t just wake up everyday feeling awesome and motivated and ready to take on the world. I found things that MAKE ME feel that way, like exercising first thing in the morning, yoga, reading personal development books, and listening to inspiring podcasts. I also am highly influenced by the company I keep so I have learned to find a solid, positive and supportive tribe wherever I wander. When I don’t do these things, I don’t feel as motivated. I know myself and I know when I don’t keep myself busy I get into trouble, which is why I have designed a life where I am entertained, challenged and engaged constantly.”

“If you are making the transition to a healthier lifestyle, just remember it does not have to be all or nothing. Deciding that you are going to change takes effort, practice, and a whole lot of self reflection and control. But if you find things that speak to your soul, if you find things that make you truly happy- do more of those and less of things that drag you down.”
“But make a decision to consciously seek things that light you up and when you find them LISTEN. I feel so free to live my life the way I please. I feel free to push myself towards my dreams and have a damn good time while I’m at it. Don’t waste time sticking yourself into categories or worrying about what other people think- let your true self come alive and keep feeding yourself things your soul likes (mine really likes donuts and blogging.)”

“The day I gave myself permission to evolve was the day I started living.”

The 2016 Collection: Pain

This week I’m going to hit you with all 7 themes I collected from reading & reflecting on my 2016 blog posts. All excerpts are from past blogs.  Before we move on and chase new horizons, it’s important to acknowledge all we have learned on the current journey.  Hope you enjoy the look back… I know I sure did 

Pain


“I grew up with sadness. It shaped me into myself. I didn’t hide from my pain. Sometimes I definitely drank through it.”

“Today, if you meet me or when you look at me, you DO see a girl who “looks so happy” and for the first time in a very long time, I can say I genuinely am. Losing Corey at such a young age and fighting for myself in the sadness afterwards made me into this person who is not afraid to take chances. I learned my lesson quickly and painfully that our time is so limited and we must explore, absorb and cherish the world around us every single day. So many people don’t have the capability to follow their dreams due to a plethora of reasons, but I am so fortunate that I am capable, supported, willing and EAGER to live a life that matters. For such a seemingly happy person, it feels strange to have such a strong tie to death, sadness, grief and despair, but I refuse to be silent about things that matter. I am here to tell you and to show you that there is HOPE no matter what situation you are in, things will always change and things can always get better. Don’t shy away from how you feel. Don’t forget WHAT YOU FELT.”

” ‘Storms make trees make deeper roots’ Struggles give us a deeper connection to the world around us and to ourselves and successful people become unstoppable when they learn to mold that struggle into a message.”

“The more I learn about people the more I learn about myself. The more I realize how important it is to be vocal about things that hurt us. I genuinely believe on focusing on the positive aspects of every situation but not in a manner that discounts the pain. Pain and hard times are real and important. They teach us a lot about life and about others. Pain, like joy, goes away quickly…”

“What is meant for you never passes you by. Respond to life with courage, compassion and a dose of honesty. It’s refreshing for you and everyone that crosses your path. We all feel pain in different degrees and at different stages of our lives. Pain is powerful. Pain is real. Pain is not something we can avoid but we can construct what we do with it. The choice is yours. I choose to use my pain for you and for me. I choose to paint my pain in words like watercolors on a canvas hoping that slowly the colors bleed into something beautiful, meaningful and worth keeping. The pain isn’t worth keeping but the stories are. Remember that next time you start to worry, respond to life with action and transform the pain into passion.”

“We need to realize that everyone struggles, cries, eats a whole tub of ice cream for dinner (that can’t just be me) but we also need to recognize that we live in a world where so many women are still voiceless. We need to be the voice of reason, respect, and dignity for those women who live in places where they don’t receive any of that. We need to be women who our husbands are proud to call theirs, and our children and grandchildren will be proud of our legacy long after we are gone. We need to think about what we send out into the universe, what we represent and how we make others feel. We need to realize that being all of these things, does not mean we need to hide our flaws, shortcomings and imperfections. We need flaws to be. We need to constantly question who we are, where we are going, and what impact we want to leave on the world.”

“Right now, I feel vulnerable in pretty much every area of my life, but I refuse to lose my capacity to feel that. I refuse to wait until the storm has passed to find the rainbow. I truly believe that the ability to take risks is a double edged sword. When you risk it all, you also risk things not turning out the way you expected. It’s scary. It’s painful. But, fortunately, when you focus on all the abundance still overflowing in your life, the tides will turn and you wash ashore.”

My Space

As I sit and stare at the Opera House on a sunny Thursday afternoon in Sydney, my mind is taken to so many different places and spaces. I want to live in this moment again and again. I’m not sure how …

And then my laptop died. To me, a sign from the Universe to drink in that moment and write about it later. Remembering it now, it still feels like just as sweet of a space.  

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I feel as if I am neglecting my words like the VCR that slowly got replaced by the DVD player or the walkman that got tossed aside for the iPod. But every time I turn to them again it feels like an old, familiar, and comforting friend. My words are the ratty t-shirt you wear to sleep that has a hole and some permanent stains but still feels just right. Even when things steal my attention (Facebook Live) or make it difficult for me to write (broken laptop) I still know in my heart this is my purest form of expression, therapy, joy and creation. My words are my space. 

So here I am, on a Sunday night, with my ever looming to-do list and my stack of ungraded papers. My apartment is clean, my workout is complete and my inbox is empty- all of which give me great satisfaction. But my words are still looming waiting to form and reflect. My words still give me the deepest satisfaction I can ask for and that’s how I know they are my truth and my space.

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But you’re always happy..

 

There is something that happens when you begin to share your journey on a large scale with an audience whether it be through a blog, social media, Youtube, or any other online platforms. When we open up and become vulnerable with our past hardships and struggles and how we overcame them, we have a chance to sugar coat the story with hindsight, distance and almost a narrator’s perspective. Even when we share the pain, it tends to sound beautiful and meaningful.  Part of being a powerful voice and sharing your life to inspire others is the fine line of how to be open with present struggles and difficult times in your life without encroaching on your own clarity, experience or privacy.

Social media, for even the most vulnerable and open people, is meant to be a highlight reel. We get to choose what we share and what we don’t. “But you’re always happy.” False. I show you my optimistic positive self because that is who I aim to be but that does not mean I’m happy 24/7. It is extremely unattractive for people to complain and vent negatively on their social media. It is sad to see people’s private lives and matters thrown all over media outlets or Facebook and Instagram. Luckily, with the gift of creativity and inspiration, we slowly learn what pulls on our heart to share and what we know is too fragile or too personal.

I try to be an open book. It’s how I am in person and basically the only way I know how to be. I can’t lie- I feel as if I have been cheating on my writing. Ever since I have started using Facebook Live consistently to speak about topics weighing on my mind and answering questions from clients, friends or my social media circle- I’ve found it hard to write my weekly headspace. No matter who you are, how inspired you feel, how many podcasts and self-help books you are reading- we all run out of material. I read a great blog post from a friend of mine reminding me of this right when I needed to hear it. So, I feel compelled to write this.

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1,2,3… UNPLUG 

Preface: I wrote this two days ago. Since then the wifi has successfully been installed in my apartment! YES… life &a business is back in order. That same day my Mac Book Pro absolutely freaks out starts flashing a black screen and has to be taken for emergency treatment at the Genius Bar and since I am no longer under my 2 year Apple care plan this could be an extremely expensive hospital stay. My Mac Book is the center of my business, my blog, and my teaching career. 3-5 days without it is a hard pill to swallow. It makes this blog even more necessary and quite frankly ironic. Is mercury in retrograde? I know the supermoon is coming but seriously there is some STRANGE energy floating about. I’ve had so many highs this week but also many setbacks that just seem to keep on being thrown my way. It feels like a great outcry for an increase in my unplugging. I hear you universe, I’m doing my best to listen. Without further delay, here’s the original piece: 
My heart is racing because my Mac Book is at 9 % as I write this. I am down to the wire but feeling the itch of inspiration. Much like the mosquito bites I collected on my camping trip this weekend, that itch is relentless. Let’s see how much I can bang out before this beauty dies. 

For a blogger and online business owner-Wifi is pretty much my blood type. Unfortunately, the wifi is Australia proves time and time again to be stuck in the 1990’s.No offense Australia, but come on, I think I could have faster Internet if I rubbed sticks together and created my own connection. Between wifi problems at my last apartment, moving into a new apartment and getting the wifi set up (only to find out this process apparently takes 2 ½ weeks) and a 4 day adventure in the Australian promise land that is Jervis Bay I have been semi-disconnected for about a month now. Of course, I have data on my phone, I have wifi at work, I can pop to the library or a local cafe, but these all prove to be much more difficult than working from home in my Nike Pros with my apartment that serves as my home gym, office, and restaurant. Not having the access to internet is something that is annoying for most people, but for someone who coaches ONLINE this is panic inducing. For the sake of my sanity, I am trying to roll with the punches, control what I can control and keep calm waiting patiently for tomorrow. 

The lack of wifi has gracefully reminded me how ultra connected we all are at all times. Not only our wifi but just to our phones & devices in general. My boyfriend’s phone has been broken for about two weeks and seeing how inconvenient it is for him and also the people who need and want to talk to him is frightening. 

What time is it? Check your phone. Do you have that appointment tomorrow or Friday? Check your Google calendar. Need your alarm? Grab your phone. What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow? Weather app. How much money did you actually spend on your bar tab? Online banking app (if you’re brave.) Are you going to be late for dinner? Text your friend. Need directions? Google maps. Need to find a local grocery store in a new town? Google. What time does that pharmacy close? Google. 

How many times a day do we rely on our phones, wifi, internet, Google, etc. for all of life’s needs? How much do we rely that other people will have these luxuries as well? When we text someone, when expect them to reply pretty quickly. So much so that we have to apologize and explain WHY we didn’t answer even if it’s only a few hours later. 

Man, technology is AWESOME but it is also very overpowering. I am genuinely sad and scared by how dependent we are on our little devices. I live in probably the last generation who knows what it is like to live in a world without cell phones and I am still part of the crew who were infiltrated by cell phones by about 7th or 8th grade. I remember what it’s like to call someone’s house and have to ask their parents politely if you could speak to so and so. I also remember having boys call my house and my dad answering or even worse, if they called too late and he proceeded to tell them so. AOL dial up internet, YUP. These seem like they were so far away and now I can’t stand living in a world that doesn’t have 4G or 5G speed wifi. Well, I can… But I chose to start a business that is run online, so it kinda made my ties to technology even stronger. 

I admit my dependence but I don’t do this to moan and groan without a solution. I don’t do this to claim a holier than thou attitude. Parents moan about “kids these days always on their phone” and then you hang out with a group of 50 somethings and they are all clinging to their iphones with the classic one finger, reading glasses on the tip of their nose swag. It’s a societal thing…not a generation thing. And the scariest part is- the kids who are growing up in today’s world are just taking our lead.
They are following what we are doing at a much more impressionable and tender age. The job market and the business world is expanding to the online marketplace in all career fields. It is extremely common for people to have side hustles online whether it be fitness, makeup, skincare, jewelry, leggings, consulting, selling goods on Etsy, you name it. Technology is not going to stop. We need to learn how to take a stand for ourselves and our society. How do we use it as a tool to enhance our lives not a means to control it?
These are some tips that I have learned, lived, experimented with and am still trying to implement. I would love it if you joined me in a quest for a technology rich life but also a life rich life. Nothing in the world can replace actually digging your toes in the ocean, smelling fresh mountain air, bear hugging your bestie, looking in someone’s eyes and FEELIN’ them, the sound your glasses make when you clink them after an important and beautiful cheers. How can our social media, technology obsessed world take a step back and appreciate the small things right in front of our face?

Have a cut off time
. There should be a certain time at night before you go to sleep that you (and your partner if you’re in a relationship) cut the ties to your phone, iPad, laptop, or any other gadget you have. Talk to each other, cuddle, read a book, or just get to bed early. We are all guilty of scrolling and staying up late but my boyfriend and I literally will say to each other, “OKAY, NO MORE. We’re cut off.”

Take Now & Post later
. I am all about pictures. I love photography and I love capturing memories. I am always the one to ask a stranger to take a photo and also the one to shamelessly force people into a group shot. So I am not hating on the photos but I am a take now, look/ post/share later. If you are at an amazing beach, concert, mountain, or travel destination, of course you want to take a pic but take them and forget them until LATER when you’re back at the hotel, on a 10 hour bus ride, at a layover in the airport, etc. If you take it quickly now and then you look later it’s like enjoying it twice. You rule the photos, the photos don’t rule you. I hate seeing someone in an amazing location spending 25 minutes changing the filter and scrolling through pics they JUST TOOK! It’s right in front of you, look up!! 

Dinner Date= No phones
. Despite a quick snap of my brunch before I eat it (foodie probz) if I’m sharing a meal with a friend, family member or lover- I stick to a no phone policy. Why go out to eat if you aren’t going to talk to each other? Of course there are exceptions, if someone is supposed to meet you, an emergency, an SOS text, but come on for the most part everything can wait 1-2 hours until you finish the meal. Some of the best conversations and memories of my life have happened around a table, eating good food, drinking wine, talking about dreams, the universe, how to change the world and sometimes, still talking about food while we eat other food. Okay let’s be real, with my people about 80% of the time is spent also discussing food. Live in those moments. Cherish them. 

 Listen to signs
. If you can’t find wifi that works and you are traveling and you really want to ______________(insert semi emergency here) I believe the universe is telling you to LIVE IN THE MOMENT. Sure, you miss your peeps back home, you wanna check your inbox, your email, Snapchat, etc. But the world still turns without you. And you may waste your whole trip searching for wifi. Even if it is work related, it is not the end of the world if you take the day off or find wifi at a later time. 

Be purposeful. My business has been my greatest lesson for this. Most people spend some time every day online. For some people it’s on social media, online shopping, researching travel destinations, blogging, chatting about various topics, reading articles or watching YouTube videos. I don’t know about you but sometimes I actually frighten myself by how easily I can waste time on the Internet. I also have learned how to be focused and intentional with my time online. If I only have 2 hours to work my coaching business, I do the essentials- the vital things that serve my clients, my coaching team and potentials and then I GET OFF. Staying focused and being intentional about what you are doing online cuts down significantly on the amount of time you need to spend connected. 

Force yourself to unplug. Hey, maybe you can’t do it for a whole week or even a weekend but everyone can unplug for an evening or even chunks of time. Unplugging is hard for me, every single time. But every time I find clarity, inspiration and a sense of rejuvenation. I am more excited to use technology when I return to it and more aware of how beneficial it is not to be glued to something you need to charge 24/7. I am huge advocate for hikes, camping, coastal walks, etc. because being in nature is one of my favorite ways to bring me into the moment. 

Constantly Question: If you find yourself caught in a rapid stalking circle on Instagram or lost on your 37th youtube video from a blogger from Iceland who is learning how to play the guitar (not an actual example just sounds random enough for emphasis) ask yourself WHY am I doing this? What value is this adding to me? What could I be doing that is more beneficial or interesting for me? There is nothing wrong with using the internet and technology for entertainment but I personally would rather be spending it fueling my mind with positivity and inspiration than agonizing over which color bodysuit I should buy for my perfect weekend outfit for 2 hours. Don’t give in to MINDLESSNESS. 

Technology is a tool to enhance our lives not a means to control it.

And remember, like the writing goddess Anne Lamott once said, “Almost everything will work if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.”
 Let’s unplug our technology rich life more often and tune into that life rich life that is waiting for us. 1,2,3…