Your Beat, Your Truth

 

1755606-Bren-Brown-Quote-Authenticity-is-a-collection-of-choices-that-weHave you ever stopped to listen to the sound of beating in your chest? Have you ever paused long enough to feel the pulsing when you lay your hand upon the center of yourself? It’s intense. It’s proud. It’s living. It’s truth. It’s your existence and where your life source exists from.

Your heart is more than a muscular formation that pumps blood to different destination points. It has more meaning than allowing you to walk in which ever direction you choose simply by doing its job.

Your heart, your heart is you. Without it, the pieces that stitch together the fabric of your being would hold no meaning.

My truth is mine, and it’s where I strive to live from and not simply exist within its walls. My truth is contained inside that thumping against my chest walls, but I don’t want to hold it hostage there. I want it to be what drives me in the tangible actions of how I choose to wander through this world. I want it to be synonymous with who I am. I don’t (and never have been) want to be an energy that speaks words of empty promises or meaning. I don’t want my actions to be those of question or concern to others. I want my truth to be one of comfort and safety fueled by adventure and life’s enjoyment.

My heart is mine, but I don’t want it to exist on its own. I want it to be nurtured with moments that are both calming to my essence and challenging to my soul. I want it to know that it has purpose, and while its presence is making its mark on this world it has value.

I want my truth to lead from the chambers my heart contains. I want to light matches down to their ashes and ignite another until blazes illuminate the darkness. I want its cracks to know that without them growth never would have happened, and a space for kindness and light to get in wouldn’t exist.

I find the challenge in truth living is allowing space for the knowing that not everyone will accept/respect/understand it, and that’s okay. We should not strive to live our truth for the comfort of others, we should live from our truth because it’s honest and raw. It’s the brave vulnerability that brings genuine connection(s). When we hide our truth we hide our existence, and when we hide our existence we cannot possibly be genuine with ourselves or anyone else. It’s the deeper places that make us magnificent and magical. It’s not only the pieces that glitter in the sunlight. It’s also knowing that we have our darkness, too.

Our heart and our truth are the compasses to our life maps. When we allow ourselves to use them and their guidance; the places we go, the people we let in, the journey that we travel is suddenly propelling in a direction of unmapped/uncharted territory. It allows us to leave the every day and experience the moments we used to only dream about.

It’s not always a trip to an exotic location or a big promotion. Sometimes it’s sitting with others and sharing who you are. Sometimes it’s exploration with new to you places/experiences. Sometimes it’s sharing a smile. Sometimes it’s extending your hand to someone not known to you. Sometimes it’s standing up when so many others remain seated.

Whatever it is and wherever it leads you, let it. Let your truth and let your heart; join you/guide you/propel you. It may seem as though you’ll awaken for the first time, but you’ll soon discover that your rebirth had risen long ago. You’re just finally listening to its calling.

 

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Season of Transition

 

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Fall, it’s a time when the bright greenery we have become witness to explodes into palettes of color. The landscape is suddenly bursting onto the scene as if to say, “Here I am!! I know you have been waiting for this.” Waiting for the transition of what used to be into what will become. The art of this change within nature is the impeccable beauty it bestows upon us, not only visually but in the gentle reminder of the importance in letting go.

Beauty can sometimes carry pain and formulate into salted tears, but with each tear that hits the ground below a new seed will be given the chance to plant itself. It is here where the wildness of healing and moving on with the fantastic light that we are can do some serious magic.

As I listen to the waves of a wooded lake lapping the shoreline, I am reminded of the tenderness a cleansing can provide. It makes room in your soul for new light to get in, and it allows for wounds to transition into scars. Scars do not need to be masked over, and they do not need to be buried in the silted sand below the water’s surface. They are part of your human vessel, and despite the damage or pain they may have caused they can also guide you to being lifted as you choose to lift others.

It’s a gift of breathing with a sense of clarity. Your chest no longer cinching in pain and refusing to relax. Your lungs filling with air no longer weighing you down. Your mind finding a resting place without being on a roller coaster that won’t let you off. At times you wonder if you can trust it. This is not to say that the wounded scars will no longer surface. They are part of your truth, and sometimes our truth isn’t the illusion of sparkling sunshine others perceive it to be. Sometimes our truth is an ugly beast that rears its head out of the darkness. It can cause us to walk the halls of restlessness with no sleep in sight.

The delicate balance is to let these shadows know that they do not have permission to own or define you. There is no shame in being who you are, and you should not feel as if apologies need to be made.

We often spend a lifetime walking pathways and darkened woods finding ourselves without the lamp we so desperately need. And, that lamp is a light unique to us all. It’s a light of forgiveness, it’s a light of being free, it’s a light of knowing that we were placed here to be exactly who we are and hiding should not be the only alternative we seek.  It’s a light of hope. Hope that we will feel good enough with ourselves that the viewpoints of another cannot alter the truth that we know.

On any given night when the clouds have cleared and the crispness of the air hits you allow yourself to lay back and look up. You will see a river of stars illuminating unimagined journeys that once seemed out of reach.

Each one of us has gifts to present to this world. They’re found in the actions we choose to put forth and the truth we yearn to live from, our own. It’s where the heart of it lies. It’s the essence of your being. Breathe from those spaces deeply, and let yourself align with the light you were born to exude. Your truth. Your purpose.

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Stop Searching, Start Living

 

155424-Bren-Brown-Quote-I-define-connection-as-the-energy-that-exists (1)There are times when I feel misunderstood. Not the kind of misunderstanding when someone doesn’t connect with something you are trying to explain, but the kind that allows you to feel as if your journey through this world is constantly filled with misfires and shorted out circuits. As if someone can be looking right at me with clear eyes and focused attention and yet go right through me as if I am not even there. It can feel like no matter how genuine you are and how you do your best to live from the core of your truth, it isn’t good enough. Sometimes it feels intentional, and other times it feels as though there is a misfire of aim with a moving target.

It is something that we all crave. To be understood and seen for who we are. It can be tiring to constantly feel as though you are always on the hunt for those human connections that add meaning to your existence, and at the same time the level of loneliness that can surface when it seems that if you were to retreat to your existence and stop the search no one else would be looking.

But, what if we stopped searching so intently? What if we just allowed ourselves to live, breathe, and flow through life with fluidity? Would it be possible that if we allowed ourselves the gift of pause that the pieces we feel are unobtainable would be within our reach? There are feelings of a simple untamed wildness to that. The ability to allow our spirit, heart and mind to sit still breathing and absorbing for no other reason then to fulfill the promise of who we are.

We are constantly faced with this notion that we need to be constantly moving. That in order to be the epitome of who we are there are things that we must have because everyone else around us already does. That to me seems like such a heavy burden to carry. The constant comparison of who we are to the the those who are not us. If I wanted to simply exist I could do that. I could meander through my day(s) without thought, without pause, without wonder. It would be easy to fill my space with meaningless connection(s) to both other humans and the universal sphere with its myriad of zoned out conformity. It would take a lot less work on my part. I could do the same thing, at all times, and not have any independent thoughts to lead me apart.

But, I want more than to simply exist. I find myself constantly craving to have a level of living that is more than that. It doesn’t have to be glamorous. It doesn’t have to be bathed in an illusion of monetary gold. I want it to be more pure than that. I want it to be comprised of the feelings that explode through my inner core when moments of true connection happen; be it when I am standing next to a waterfall feeling the healing spray of its cascading waters or the simple act of a friend asking me to do something because I am important enough to them that being in each other’s company is both a joy and a comfort.

For so many years I have focused very intently on always being the one. The one who always gives. The one who never says no. The one who rolls out the mat for everyone’s shoes to walk on without any offerings to sweep up any dirt that may have fallen. The one who is always there in the darkest of hours. But when my light dims or shuts off on occasion, I have been told to suck it up instead of being asked what happened to my spark. It can feel burdensome when others are not able to tell you that it’s okay to feel that something can be hard, something can be scary, and I am sorry you experienced such things. Everyone needs to have those who will stand in the mud with you when you feel dirty, and pull you out to spray you down with waters of clean.

I am coming around again. I am starting to notice that there are energy humans who have entered my sphere who are those people, and there are those who have been there even if distance and time don’t allow for their presence. In fact, this week I did something I haven’t done in a very long time, I laughed so hard with my “bro” that I literally could not stand up. It’s hard though, it’s hard to trust the new tribe and allow the vulnerabilities of who I am to be exposed. It happens though. A little bit at a time. Sharing a beer with my “bro” today and sharing little things but not to much (yet) it was comforting to hear, “That sucks.” Two simple words, but wow, to not be shamed or caused to feel as if my experiences don’t matter but are in fact understood. It’s okay, and in time I know I will allow my tribe to hear all the pieces that have made me feel not okay enough but also the pieces that make me who I am, because over time I have come to realize that I am (even in the times when I can feel as if I am not)….enough.

 

 

 

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‘Shaming Me, Shaming You’

 

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When they look at me, what are they thinking? Do they wonder if I am harnessing anything inside my mind when I look at them? When I am not next to a person what am I thinking of them? When people are not in my space what are they thinking of me?

We all do it. We all have it. It’s as common as needing air to breathe and water to drink, SHAME.

It’s a force to be reckoned with. You cannot always see it, but you can most certainly feel it. It doesn’t always take a tangible form such as placing your hand on the roughness of a tree’s bark and feeling it’s notable difference and the sensations that come from the touching. Often it comes from the comments, the conversations, and the wondering of our everyday interactions with others. The stares we think we have burning into us, the whispers we are certain that are happening, the sinkable feelings we carry from conversations when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable even when its the last thing we want to be brave enough to do. We carry it so heavily and so deeply we often hide the unshiny pieces of who we are, the pieces that we are certain will immediately cause others to see us differently. And that’s the last thing we want, to be categorized with labels that often come with a barrage of judgement(s). Sometimes we hide the shame so deeply that we then start to look at the world of others as something we are not. Pegs and square holes that we certainly don’t fit into because we are above that. Right?!

I see it all the time. I have experienced it myself. I have dripped so massively in my own shame that I have lived from the definition of what it was instead of who I truly am. I let it define me, I let it own me, and then I started viewing others through the lens of that shame. I would allow myself to look at others and say to myself, “Well, at least I am not_______________.” And, that blank space could be filled with a plethora of things; drug addict/alcoholic/homeless/suicidal. For a little while in my younger years it felt so much easier to compare myself to the “others” and realize even with all of my own shit and all of my shame triggers I was still better off than most.

As I started getting older (but not necessarily growing and moving forward) I began to wonder. Are there others like me? Are there others who have been through things that I have been through? At the very least, are there others who can relate to the emotions even if the experiences did not align with mine? If there were; who were  they, where were they, and how could I find them? Not that I was in a place where I thought I would even speak to them, but at the time I just wanted to know that they existed.

The older I have gotten I have come to the understanding (even if I am not always the best at putting it into practice) that yes, not everyone is deserving of our story. Not everyone has earned the privilege of hearing the chapters of our lives up to where we currently are. But, what would happen if we chose to never share those pages that have been written on? What would happen if we never talked about what is currently in the process of being placed into that book?

I think we would never know, we would never know that we are not alone. And, instead of being able to relate to the human energy that surrounds us we would continue to pretend that we are not one of “them”. It’s okay to protect your story, but it’s equally okay to let others  read over and turn its pages. One of the lessons I have learned is that you may feel someone is deserving of what you have to share, but they may not be in a place to hear/receive the page(s). I have come to the understanding that this is okay, too. There is no shame in not being able to be what you would like to be to someone with support/listening/holding space for them, and there is no shame in letting them know that. It’s hard to be vulnerable with our shame, and knowing when it’s okay for others to hear it can be a great comfort in understanding when to read the chapter out loud.

I have shared different parts of my story here and there. And, yes – I have been shamed for things that I have talked about. It feels like being cut off at the knee caps. I immediately feel stupid when it happens. As if I have done something wrong. When I lost my four legged pup Lakota 2 years ago I had left the house for 15 minutes to go out for an ice cream. During that brief time her congestive heart failure diagnoses got the best of her. I haven’t eaten ice cream since. I actually had a grown adult (a licensed therapist) say to me in front of others when I explained why I was passing on dessert, “You understand the ice cream didn’t cause your dog to die? Right?”. I felt instant shame. Of course I understood that. It’s not about that. It’s about the emotional attachment that happens to me when something traumatic happens. It’s about the feelings that surface with such things. I have many pieces of me that are like this. It can  make life challenging at times. I can own that. I don’t feel ashamed about it. But, my strength can be cut down to size when someone attacks that with shaming. Telling me that I either do something now or stop talking about the things I have experienced.

When I look at others I have come to understand that they are not the other. In fact, I firmly believe that we are all in a place where the other factor is a part of us as well. One choice, one thought, one action away; we are all of these when it comes to what could happen next.

We can choose to be who we are all of the time or only when it is convenient. We all have our shit. We all have pieces that we think would appeal more easily to others, and we all have rusty gears that we feel are less worthy.

I myself am like a robot; built from a variety of gears, sprockets, nuts, and bolts. Some of them run and turn smoothly with no effort at all, and some are laden down with years of dust and spider webs. But, they are all mine. They have all played a part in the human I have become and continue to grow into. And, it’s impossible for the shiny parts to work effectively on their own if the rust isn’t sanded off and blown into the wind from the other pieces. The shimmering effect can only hold its own for so long.

I am many pieces; I am a survivor of trauma, I live and process through diagnoses'(which provided a beacon of light with knowing that I am not alone), the on again off again battle of anorexia, I am darkness, I am light, and I wade through the waters of appreciating/respecting/understanding all of who I am and being a source of mutual appreciation/respect/understanding for others. I am not defined by any one thing, I am many parts. And, although my shame finds reasons to show itself time and time again, it will not own me. I am many things, and I will constantly work to find ways to not harbor my shame and protect it from the light. I will do my best to let the cracks of my humanness allow for unclouded entry into the places I have often hidden away. And, if you find yourself in my presence know this….your rusty parts will not be judged or shamed by me. For I am the other. And, I know this about you, too.

 

 

 

 

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This is ME

 

 

 

There I am. Do you recognize me? I am standing there in a very red gown with a shawl draped over my shoulders like a falling cloud. That dress, it’s full body length. It hangs loosely over the black sequined sandals I wore on my feet. A shiny silver necklace adorns my neck dangling downward.

There are no glasses upon my face for the contacts made my image look less cluttered. I am standing nice and tall and not hunched forward. I am placed on a garden pathway surrounded by flowers and soft evening light. It was a special event and night. A gala they called it. I was surrounded by people who did big and important things. People who had great monetary value to their name(s) and those who were there for the important work that they did. I was on the arm of someone who was a member of the board orchestrating this event, and I should have felt important. I should have felt honored to be there. I should have felt glamorous.

After all, everyone was complimenting me on my outfit and my outward appearance. I even shared laughter with the others as I explained my now ex-partner’s best gay man friend helped me with my shopping and selection of what to wear. As a non-trendy queer girl I needed the help.

Do you see me? Do you see how it all came together and everything is hanging on me just so? I am even smiling. I mean, shouldn’t I be? I am all fancy. I am walking among important people in tuxedos, suits and shimmering gowns. Isn’t this event something I should be dressed to impress for? Aren’t these the moments we wish to stand in to blend versus standing out to be seen? It was only a few hours of  my existence. I could handle it. I can talk to all these people and turn into a chameleon so they don’t pluck me apart. It was important. The event and also the want/need to look my best for the person I was with. This was a big night for them. I could be what they need(ed) me to be for the others.

Do you see me? Do you see the unhappiness that is hiding underneath that brightly colored dress? Or does the brightness dim the light that is actually my own? Do you notice it? Do notice the fakeness in the smile used to adorn my face for photo after photo that night? Can you feel the uncomfortable feelings that the tenseness in my body was cringing with and clinging to? Are you able to sense the inauthenticity on display as I walk around in sequined sandals? Do you feel the sadness of someone who allowed their appearance to be altered for the sake of another who claimed, “I just want you to look your best.” Do you connect to the shame of not being authentic because your perception is that it will cause others to like you less?

Have you shared it? That image of that person whom others say they needed to see as “evidence” because they could never believe that there was ever a time you wore a dress. A piece of fabric flowing long and bright/down and away from your true being. Did you feel confused and more ashamed when those people made you feel less than because they think you look “Great…Beautiful…AMAZING!!” in that image? Did you go quiet because you felt like a complete ASS for wanting to explain the ugliness you felt because the image that they are seeing is not who you are but what others thought you should be? I mean, they were being genuine in their compliments. They weren’t out to offend you, hurt you, or wanting you to being uncomfortable.

Did you forget about it all? Did you let it go until years later it somehow presented itself yet again? “What?!?! You wore a dress?!?!?! We must see this evidence!”

Did you scroll through your old Facebook imagery to share the photographic memory? Did you brace yourself fully expecting to keep your mouth fucking shut like so many times before when the “You look great!!” comments that were certain to transpire made their way through the sound waves to your ears?

Then something very different happened, and you have an unexpected pause. A moment that takes you by surprise because it has never happened before, and you took a healing breath of deep appreciation. Instead of the comments you were expecting to hear something different encircled the vibrational airwaves through your ears and into your soul, I DON’T like it. It’s NOT you. THIS is NOT who YOU are.” 

Did your internal smile expose itself as you let the shame go while you shared how you let yourself be someone you’re not to make another person happy? Did you? I DID! I did all of that, and then I cried in a quiet moment later that day as I never realized how much at different points in my existence I changed myself for others.

It’s been a long journey, but now as you see me that’s what you will see….ME!!! Our shame hides in many corners. We cannot be afraid to let it be exposed. The hiding carries a heavy burden that prevents you the freedom of…YOU.

YOU deserve to be who you are. And, though our pictures may sometimes be cracked and our vessels might fill with water you are not less than, and you don’t have to drown in the expectation(s) of others.

The last time I wore a dress will be just that, the last time. If you’re looking for me I’ll be wandering the wooded mountain side with ripped jeans, a hoodie and a baseball cap. And, on those days when I have a need to feel fancy I will throw on a tie.

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Boundaries are Not Walls

 

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Sometimes we are faced with making decisions that are not going to be the rose colored glasses everyone wishes to wear. Sometimes those boundaries that are so very necessary to align with the human that we are will feel harsh, unkind and lonely. They will keep us awake at night and sometimes cause us to second guess what we have done. It’s okay.

It’s okay because in the course of any lifetime we will often be confronted by cold winter winds and desert storms of blowing sand that require us to protect ourselves and others. Boundaries are not walls. They are important pieces of each of us. They allow us to let others know that there are things that are simply not okay. And, it’s not because we don’t love or don’t care. In fact, it’s very much because we do love and we do care. That love and care is not just for the protection of others, but also for the important understanding that in order to be the best we can be for others we must also be the best we can be to ourselves.

When we compromise the core of who we are we are telling ourselves that we are not valuable. And, in time; this translates to others that we are mats that they are welcome to step on, wipe their dirt ridden demons on, but not help in the heaviness that so much pressure can leave behind.

We all have demons. We all have the corners that light has not touched and very few have seen. Once and awhile they become exposed. I have often carried the shadows of my own and others. And, I am certain that as the human I continue to fall into being, I will never cease to do such lifting. But, under no circumstances must I allow myself to carry the weight so heavily that I feel I am the reason for the pain that has wafted over the soul(s) of others. I did not chose the path. I did not bring to the table what is falling down and away from the comfort of what one wishes/wants to be. In the light of empathy and as one who is very much an empath this is not an easy task.

We are all one decision away from anything being different. That different is not always easily defined and often so hard to understand. Sometimes it can lift us like the whispering pines on mountain tops filled with starlight and whisps, and sometimes that different can drag us behind trains of our overwhelmed and anxious driven minds leaving us bloody and bruised. And, while there are often things that happen in our living that contribute to the choices we make (the things that we have done and do) we have to push ourselves. We have to fight through the tormented pieces of shadows and dark places that allowed our beings to travel from the light. What we must not do is look at the light of others and try to extinguish it because they were brave enough to put a boundary in place for protection of that light, and ultimately for the protection of those who came to them.

Light is a gift. It is something that is warm and good. It allows a glimpse of hope and possibility. It allows for one human soul to show another that there is a place in this world that is filled with comfort, safety and love. With that light comes respect, understanding, and value. A kindness that translates into one human seeing the truth, honesty and bravery in another when even in the fierceness of the love they give some of the most heart felt and most difficult love pieces are the boundaries that are needed now and again. Not to keep anyone out. No, boundaries are not designed to turn people away. They are intended to show that I as a human respect and love myself enough to know that without this piece in place I cannot respect and love another. It shows you that I value the sanctity of my spirit. My core. The essence of all that puts forth the energy and love of who I am. And by doing so…I hold/honor/respect all of the same within another.

 

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A Shelter for Home

For six months I spent my Sunday and Monday nights entering through a door to be a  a part of the lives of other humans who unlike myself did not have a place to call home. From November until May during some of the coldest days I witnessed the human condition….at its best.

The shelter that I became intertwined with was, at first, partly a way to supplement my income. It quickly became a piece of my life quilt that I will forever be grateful presented itself as an opportunity to me. An opportunity to spend those cold winter nights with some of the most beautifully complicated humans I have ever met.

It was an eye opener to the very deep and very real understanding that we are all just one decision away. Just one decision away from what we do and what we know not being anything of the familiar any longer. The morning cup of coffee and that warm bowl of oatmeal is no longer something to look forward to or even depend on. When the circumstances of life both of choice and groundless occurrences now dictate your day to day existence, things become different. The only thing you know to expect and depend on is that you cannot expect or depend on what you once did. And, sometimes what you find hardest to rely on is yourself. The demons of your tortured past keep clawing their way into the present sometimes making it impossible to walk any further.

Each night I stood at that front table, and each night the familiar and sometimes unfamiliar faces would walk through those glass doors. As the one standing inside I never knew what kind of spaces would be entering mine. There were many nights when the spaces coming in were filled with hurt, pain and anger. However,  there were many nights when humor, laughter and quick wit were just as prevalent.

It was almost like a machine at times. Hand me your bag. Let me check it. I’ll place this blade in the lock box for safety until morning, and here is the sharps container for that used needle that took your mind pain away today. Though a machine it may have been, it was more like the Tin Man when he finally received his heart. The outside might show itself as a hard exterior but internally was a breathing soul who just wants to be loved, heard and understood/respected.

There was never fear. There was never a time when I was worried or concerned that something could/would happen to me. There was human connection. There was the deep place of threaded journeys that brought us to the moment(s) we encountered each time we checked in or sat around the dinner table catching up like old friends. They were veterans, and former machinists, nurses and those from other countries. There were the stories that were shared and the quiet reflections kept inside. There was the laughter. There were tears. There were high fives, and there were handshakes. And, above all else, there was the deep and true admiration for the human spirit. The light that emanated from the cracks of understood pain that each of us has endured in our lifetime. The simple recognition that we are all in this together and to be here in a place where judgement had no room to be tolerated we came together.

Since the shelter closed for the season I have found myself missing the space which was created not only by the staff and volunteers but by those who found their way to those glass doors each and every night. I was humbled by the amount of times someone would thank myself and other staff members for doing what we do. It seems so simple to me. Treat each other with kindness, and be good to one another. We should be thanking you. For you are the teachers of what it means to live and to keep going despite the journey you were placed on feeling like a never ending battle. On my last night (which happened to be the last night of the season) I went to say goodbye to a resident on my way out. As I reached to shake their hand they looked at me and said, “Is it okay to ask for a hug?”. Yes, sir, it will always be okay.

 

mr rogers

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