Getting To Know Your Inner Drunk Girl

Getting To Know Your Inner Drunk Girl

Getting To Know Your Inner Drunk Girl

Have you ever had a bad experience that hits you right in the heart? Of course you have, we all have. By my own admission I am an extremely sensitive soul.  I will own my mistakes and have no issues apologising for any wrongdoings. However, being at the blunt end of someone’s emotional outburst leaves me quite upset and perplexed. Much like anyone I suppose.  Another reason why I was never good at working in retail. Sometimes you just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and you are the closest target for somebody’s aggression.

If negative emotions start to rise due to a situation it can be very easy to react with defensive behaviour. If you are anything like me, shock is normally my first response.  I cocoon myself with like-minded people, so this rarely occurs.  In fact, I can count on one hand how many times this has happened in the last year. But when it does, it takes me completely off guard and I feel thrown off my axis. Not just a little, I’m taking about all consuming thought process that take me down a spiraling pathway of traumatic experiences.  I understand why they are coming up now and I am taking them as an opportunity to finally release them and let them go.

Being locked up in isolation for the last few months has not assisted with some people’s emotional intelligence, tolerance and showing a little kindness, let alone staying professional. In fact, for some it has brought out the worst in them.

I have created a folder in my brain for some of these very people. It’s called ‘Arseholes’. This is where I put those nasty and unwanted perpetrators. These people have not two but three sphincters, yes, we have two at the anus (I am both funny and educational). Their lack of empathy or narcissistic privilege belongs in that little box surrounded by an imaginary electric fence with a big neon KEEP OUT sign. It’s a small but necessary folder.  I acknowledge its existence, but I also understand that it is a very small portion of my life.

So how do you find something good out of a bad experience? The most important but painful part of this process is to experience the emotions. Yep, you heard me right ALL of them.  Feel that pain, anger, hurt, shame, guilt, fear, embarrassment, frustration and all the rest of those nasties.  Feel the full impact of the emotions created by the situation. Feel through each and everyone of them, take days or weeks if you have to.  Become the observer of your own thoughts as they start to overlap like the tide and bring up the past and seemingly unassociated situations.  Kind of like that drunk girl in the toilets who starts bringing up every single bad thing that has ever happened in her entire life. Be the kind sober friend to yourself as your inner drunk girl starts her verbal vomit.

Most of us have no patience for our inner drunk girl so we may start this process of ‘feeling’ and instead of seeing it out to the other side we shut ourselves down or we begin to lose clarity. We find ourselves stuck in an emotional loop where we head down paths of unresolved emotional experiences.  By this time, our inner drunk girl has numbed her pain and is back on the dance floor or she has passed out in the corner somewhere.  I get it, I did it for years and guess where it got me….SICK, like am I going to live or die sick.  As Caroline Myss, one of my favourite spiritual teachers said in her book “Creation of Health”, our life history and experiences, become intertwined with the cells of our physical body.  Your emotions reside physically in your body and interact with your cells and tissues, our biography becomes our biology.’

Every time that inner drunk girl starts, and we shut her down we are holding negative emotions within the cells of our body.  Does that hurt the person who created the emotional reaction in you? Absolutely not, but it can have detrimental effects on you.  If we just allow ourselves to ‘feel’ into an experience you can find the light at the other side.  By ignoring or blocking negative emotions you are doing a disservice to your own health and your own personal growth.  With thoughts come emotions and with emotions come feelings. If you get the formula right then those feelings can open to lessons, growth and opportunities.

Let me take you on a journey.  Yep the J word!  No one likes emotional pain, unless you are the narcissist inflicting it.  The minute you get upset, angry or feel like reacting like a three-year-old who can’t put lollies into a shopping cart, people want to shut us down.  Ever noticed that? We cry and instead of holding space for us people want to automatically calm and comfort us with tissues and a cup of tea.  I am not saying that it is okay to display random acts of violence or to hit out at people because we need a sales assistant to abuse because of our frustrations.  But when we feel intense emotional reactions to situations, we need to think of the sober friend holding space for our inner drunk girl.  Here are some techniques you can use to support your inner drunk girl.

Firstly give her some room to vent. Allow her to talk through all her problems. Let her cry, let her get angry, let her bring up the past.  By simply listening to her and writing things down and giving her time you can start to unravel the big ball of complexity we call emotions.  You would be surprised how many times she answers her own questions if you truly hear what she is saying.  The next step is to separate the emotions and the feelings. This is the tricky bit and the most common place when we let our inner drunk girl back on the dance floor because things can start to feel overwhelming.  Note: You are under no obligation as the sober friend to solve all your inner drunk girl problems at once.  You have an entire lifetime (and then some) to unravel and its not all going to happen over one bottle of Merlot.

Usually a big emotional reaction will occur over an accumulation of events.  The one that triggers the biggest reaction is not necessarily the worst event. It could be quite a small situation that brings up an over-reactionary response.  You see every time you send your inner drunk girl back out onto the dance floor because you can’t ‘deal with her’, she holds onto all your stuff.  A few bits might drop off as she stumbles her way back through the crowded bar but most of it is still hanging off her.  The next time she is triggered by a situation she has all that baggage accumulated from the time before, and the time before that, and the time before that.  If emotions are not worked through, then we can start to build walls that end up feeling like mountains.  We can become resentful, bitter, closed off, unfeeling and worse of all, sick.  We don’t allow ourselves to be open to new experiences because we become so stuck in believing they will cause us pain, distress or hurt.  Here’s a News Flash, that doesn’t stop ‘life’ from happening.   It is our ability to put things into perspective that gets screwed up. It always has to come   back to YOU.

Have you ever met two people that have experienced the same situation, yet their responses were completely opposite?  Meet Kylie and Karen. Both ladies had a rather unpleasant conversation with a Printing Company. The salesman acted and spoke in a very unprofessional manner when they decided to take their business elsewhere.   Kylie spent a day with her inner drunk girl and has processed through her emotions. At the end of the day Kylie can see that even though it was an unpleasant encounter, this situation was a good thing because she wanted to align her future business dealings with the right people. Clearly these were not the right people.   Karen on the other hand does not like to be spoken to in a rude manner. She feels totally disrespected and never got to have her say because the call was ended rather abruptly.  Karen is infuriated with the company and spends the day writing them an email about how unhappy she is and bitching to anyone and everyone that will listen.  She gets so side-tracked with feelings of rejection and righteousness that she does not want to deal with another printing company ever again.  Karen gives up in anger, lets her inner drunk girl go back onto the dance floor and self-sabotage’s her dream of self-publishing her first book.

Karen’s reaction may seem extreme but is very normal and more common than what you think.  Under all of Karen’s anger is a fear of failure. What if her book is a massive flop? What if people laugh at her? What if she isn’t good enough? What if no one buys her book? Could she cope with the rejection? What if she is successful? Does she fear success? What if people think she’s a fake? Karen’s inner drunk girl was triggered by one small conversion. She was trying to tell Karen to face all those things that she feared but instead she misdirected her anger as a means to shift the responsibility away from herself by projecting that feeling onto someone else.  Remember every experience can teach us if we look for the lesson.

So next time you are confronted by a situation that brings up some unpleasant feelings sit with your inner drunk girl and really get to know her.   If you take the time to listen you will find a deeper level of understanding within yourself. You will start to unravel why you do what you do. When you become aware of the ‘Whys’ you have something to work with and that’s how we open to new opportunities and experiences.

Remember THOUGHTS = EMOTIONS = FEELINGS = EXPANSION = OPPORTUNITIES

Photo Credit: Justin Aikin | Unsplash

 

 

 

When Life Gives You Lemons

When Life Gives You Lemons

Fifteen years ago I became a mum. I left the workforce and became a full time stay at home parent. Still wanting to keep my mind active I studied to become a swimming teacher but ended up paying more out in childcare fees than my actual wage. When my second baby arrived I decided to put my work life on hold until he was a little more independent. That was 11 years ago. When my youngest was heading off to four year old kindergarten I thought great, now I can get back into work and start contributing to the household finances, then I was diagnosed with cancer. That was 7 years ago.

Over the last seven years I have worked a casual job which ended rather abruptly after I had a dumping episode. Unfortunately a side effect of living without a stomach and a boss who was not willing to compromise. I’ve also done contract work but the pay and the hour and 20 minute round trip wasn’t even covering my petrol.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of pluses.  I get to stay at home, attend children’s events at school, dont have to compromise my boss if any of the kids are home sick, volunteer my time to the school community, eat when I want, rest when I want, go out when I want and work on my art portfolio. Its like being on one big holiday only there is no sightseeing or spending money and you have to motivate yourself to get out of bed every single day.

Sacrificing all the things that come with working full time and being able to up skill in the creative sense has been the most selfish and fulfilling part of being at home. Launching a website and Page on Facebook, doing commissioned art pieces for people all over the world. Pushing myself on a daily basis to be better, to be more visible, to extend my experiences into meditation classes, art classes, craft workshops. Advertising, daily posts, sticking flyers up around local shops. Expand, expand, expand, doing what I love in the hope that I can not only help others but give my family the financial freedom we so desire.  Here I am nearly eight years down the track and I feel like a bit of a failure. I am so tired. So tired of trying to balance my health, my family, my support page and my business. So tired of feeling guilty for not being able to financially contribute to the family income, so tired of feeling I am not where I thought I would be.  Watching others around me so motivated, meditating daily for blasts of inspiring feel good posts, feeling into the rhythm of the universe and working with the cycles of the moon, bla bla bla, plastering positivity all over their social media, watching friends who have their shit together and feeling I could be doing more,  I should be doing more, I need to be seeing and being more.  But I can’t because I am SO TIRED of trying and failing.  Seriously, there are only so many times you can pick yourself up before you have to stop and reevaluate your entire life and the current direction you are facing. And now a quiet pause…….

“Hey Spirit, here is your opportunity to send that big bolt of 
lightening I have been waiting for.” 

I can understand why so many amazing Artists simply give up trying to make a living from their Art. I really wanted to be the exception. After all I am a walking miracle and by all accounts I shouldn’t be alive right now. Should’nt that mean something? Didn’t God let me live so that I could see out a much greater purpose? I thought I’d been grasping life by the big kahunas to create the successful abundant life I deserve, but I haven’t succeeded and being granted a second chance at life doesn’t make me special, it just makes me extremely lucky.  My life holds no more value than anyone else’s. My experiences certainly make me look at life with a different perspective and I always look for every possibility.  If I didn’t I could possibly be the most miserable person on the planet.  Here’s a depiction of me looking miserable with a pair of useless big kahunas.

Is there a part of me that has had a sense of entitlement that because I survived that makes me somehow special? Reality check …… I think there might have been.  My shadow just got a big slap in face and knows this is a complete fabrication to cover up any insecurities and fear around lack and acceptance. Getting through cancer doesn’t make me special, it makes me a liability.  Lets face it letting a few organs go is going to compromise a lot of things and those that say it was a small price to pay to survive, well lets just say that comment is not helpful. They have absolutely no comprehension what price I have had to pay and continue to pay for everyday of my life.  I simply do not have the capacity to work full time anymore. I don’t even know how I will cope part time. If I disclose the reasons for the gap in my of employment then I can almost guarantee that no matter how experienced I am or how much of a kind competent person I maybe, my resume will be cast aside quicker than yesterday’s newspaper.  Let’s just look at the term cast aside for a moment. Abandoned, unwanted, undervalued, overlooked, ignored, forgotten, unused, depreciated, declined, passed over. Ever fiber in my being fights these words every single day, consciously and unconsciously.  PTSD is very real in my world and it comes out in various ways, some of them extremely healing and creative and some not so constructive.

What does success look like anyway?
A large social media following? –  These people probably have no time for anything else or they have lots of people working for them so stop comparing.
A healthy bank account? –  Who doesn’t want an endless supply of cash but think about all of the things that are sacrificed in order to have this, including being with the most important people in your life.
A balanced body? –  This is hard work in every sense of the word.
A great job?  – Whats that? Unless you are extremely fortunate to love what you do or work for yourself in which case there are also big sacrifices.
Holidays? – That was nice for all of three seconds, now go chain yourself back to your desk in a job you hate with people you don’t really like but have to tolerate so you can save up for your next holiday.
Healthy relationships? –  Saying no, creating boundaries, letting toxic people go no matter how much it hurts – did I also mention hard work.
Lots of friends? – The more friends you have the more drama you are likely to be pulled into – keep your circle small.
OR
Just the fact that you have somewhere soft and warm to sleep with food in your cupboards? – Some may call that gratitude others might call that living in survival energy. Either way it’s all a matter of perspective.

I am also under no illusion that what people post is what they want you to see.  Most people do not  want other people to see that they are not coping, that their marriage is falling apart, that they cant afford to feed themselves, there are bills on the fridge they cant pay, that their health is failing, that their job is taking a mental and physical toll on their well-being and that life can sometimes be really tough.  A beautiful made up face and cute baby photos do not equate to a good sleep and a well adjusted baby!  All the misconceptions and in-authenticity out there in social media land causes a ripple of self doubt and anxiety that we all should be more that what we are or what we are capable of achieving. One big Snap chat filter so the world never has to see the real us.  Even the most positive posts can be full of falseness and fishing for more likes or comments. Ive seen it happen in groups where people strategically reply over several days to comments on posts to bring their post back up to the top of the page for more exposure.  It happens and these people are sprinkling spirituality out of their calculating fingertips. Sometimes I cant work out if I admire their enterprising genius or despise their disingenuous.   Like it or not social media is such an integrated part of our daily lives that it plays a part in what I consider part of my success and some days like today I am just as messed up as the next person.

As I approach my eight year cancer free I am also contemplating what the future holds for me.  But for today I do nothing but write as my head hurts from projecting, my heart aches from my past failures, my body is completely and utterly exhausted and my soul is so so tired. I know this shall pass and when the waves of emotion retreat I will have found another spark of inspiration from God knows where and a renewed sense of hope for better more abundant days to come. If there is one thing I love about me its the fact that I can recognize when I need to stop, retreat and give myself the time to reinvent myself.  Kind of like Madonna but without her bank account!

When life gives you lemons, you say F?@k lemonade. Then google every single recipe you can using lemons!

Michelle <3

Obstacles are Detours in the Right Direction

Obstacles are Detours in the Right Direction

Most of us make life so complicated, like a pressure cooker of expectations all thrown together in a massive soup of exhaustion and stress.  Then all of a sudden, your body screams STOP and you have no choice because the Universe does it for you.   
If you have ever been through a cancer journey, then you would understand the weight of getting through another year.  I rarely announce it anymore, because those that don’t understand may look at the celebration as an opportunity of glorifying my own self-importance.   Lots of people get through cancer right? Just get over it already.  Quoting Kerwin Rae ‘ Your problems don’t make you special because everyone’s got them.’ *BTW actually a really good article . The problem is, this is not like a cold or flu.  You don’t just get over cancer and get on with life like it never happened.  
The fall out from my surgery has been huge, more than anyone around me can appreciate let alone understand.  Not only did I discover that I carry a genetic predisposition for gastrointestinal cancers, I have gone ahead and had preventative surgery to eliminate some of them.  Do you know how many organs the human body can live without? I certainly do because I’m missing quite a few of them.
I never thought that becoming a Light-worker would be quite so literal.  I joke about being a pure chancel of light and that the only thing they cannot surgically remove is my sense of humor.  I even like to tell people if I was abducted by aliens they would transport me back thinking they’d accidentally picked up one of their own!  
So lets fast forward to 2018. This was the first year in 7 years (colonoscopy/endoscopy excluded) that I did not have to go under any major anesthetics.  I managed to keep all my organs and only lost a few nasty polyps, good riddance to those.  Then in November I started to develop tinnitus. A constant ringing in my ears that would drive anyone crazy.  One night I went to bed and the ON switch in my brain got stuck.  
If there is one thing that my cancer and gastrectomy taught me it was to be my own advocate.  To be aware that there are many options out there to try and to never give up if one thing doesn’t work.  Even when the experts in the field tell you ‘There is nothing further we can do, go home and learn to live with it.’  I consider myself a walking miracle so if I can find my way through to a solution then I will do everything I can to find it.  I have become a seeker.     
Not all questions can be answered with Western medical solutions and other times we have to wait for technology to catch up.   In the meantime, it is important to find new ways of being.  If this new condition has taught me anything it is that I really need to look after myself more.  Its like a forced holiday but with self-care.  I now sleep with BOSS Sleep buds.  An expensive but necessary part of keeping my sanity.  I have been meditating, soaking my feet in epson salts, fine tuning my supplements and giving myself time to ground my feet in the Earth and sit in nature.
Being your own best advocate also means being pro-active.  Go to the doctor, have all the required tests.  Anxiety and PTSD in cancer patients can take an enormous toll on your mental health and well-being.  To many sleepless nights and I know I am unable to function as a human being.   Seek help where you need it but do not look to others for the answers.  Sometimes its about listening to your own inner voice and following your intuition.
Remembering each experience, good or bad is just an experience.  If you can learn what works for you then you can share your findings with others.  Sometimes just having one person who understands you can make all the difference in the world.  
I do not understand why this is happening to me now, but I can tell you it is making me step out of my comfort zone and forcing me to seek out new and different things.  It is hard work, annoying, frustrating and uncomfortable because I like routine, organization and knowing what tomorrow is going to bring.  I’m not going to lie, when this first started it completely sucked the sparkle out of me and I just managed to grab hold before I went into an uncontrolled tail spin of depression.  
  
I have to remind myself that every time I am forced to jump in feet first I learn something incredibly new about myself.  As Gabby Bernstein suggests there are many moments where obstacles are opportunities to see things differently and I choose to see this as a detour in the right direction.  
The Universe has my back! 
Michelle Potter
I Have Lynch Syndrome

I Have Lynch Syndrome

I was a normal six year old girl enjoying a carefree life, laughing with my friends, and starting my second year at primary school. I was Daddy’s little princess and my life literally changed overnight. My childhood was ripped away from me and the harsh reality of Dad’s death stole my innocence. It all seemed to happen so fast — my tiny little head did not have time to take in the reality of it all. Having been diagnosed in December of 1977 with a secondary bowel cancer, my Dad died four months later at the age of 36 in April 1978. After my Dad’s death, I was thrown into a world of grief; I no longer had my Dad to comfort and to hug me. I no longer had my Dad to read me bedtime stories, to tuck me into bed at night, to praise me after my ballet concerts, or to hold my little hand when we went for a walk. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my Dad had Lynch syndrome.

Experiencing the death of a parent at a young age is certainly a character building experience and can be the catalyst for a young girl to develop “daddy issues”. These daddy issues manifested themselves in the form of  manipulation and promiscuous behaviors during my teenage years. I sought father figures in all my male relationships throughout my twenties, which only led to broken partnerships and a failed marriage. Independence was my armor and I gave power to the masculine side of myself and not necessarily in a healthy or productive way. I consciously quelled the very essence of my feminine side down. I feared I was weak, could easily be hurt, and was vulnerable — I was a survivor who needed to be in control.

My second marriage came with its own set of challenges. Despite our backgrounds and former spouses, our union seemed strong but after ten years of financial pressure, challenging teenage stepchildren and two babies of our own I had started seeking a way out. I began with riding my bike taking every opportunity to escape. I had commenced self-development class once a week in the hope of rediscovering myself, picked up a part-time job, which got me out of the house mainly at nights and on weekends because blended family time was finally taking its toll. I just couldn’t do it anymore. It broke my heart to be despised in my own home every fortnight; I was at a complete loss. The environment around me was becoming so toxic and I didn’t know how to fix it. If I really wanted to self sabotage my life the Universe was about to give me a permanent way out if I chose to accept it.

You know when you just know certain things? Well, my intuition knew that I had cancer even before the doctor’s appointment. My husband and I went up to the mountains and sat quietly in a little tea house. We held hands, cried and made a promise to each other that no matter what the diagnosis we would get through it together. We walked to a small gift shop and I was drawn to purchase a beautiful aquamarine pendant. I didn’t know at the time but the benefit of using this crystal is that it aids you to let go of emotional issues from your past that you have been holding on to. When I paid for the pendant we started talking to the owner of the shop, she just happened to ask what my star sign was. When the word “Cancer” fell out of my mouth I just knew the heaviness in my heart was a fear I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to face. It wasn’t just my star sign, that same afternoon my doctor confirmed I had stomach cancer.

 During treatment and surgery something beautiful happened. That little girl that lost her Father resurfaced. She finally had an opportunity to grieve the loss of her Dad. She looked into her own children’s eyes at night and felt the heartache her Dad must have felt, knowing he was not going to see her grow up. She had time to sit on the floor and play with her boys. She had to hand all the masculine stuff over to her husband from the running of the house to the organising of everyone’s life. She only had one job – to get her adult self well so she could love and guide her little boys into men. The cancer diagnosis exposed the my feminine side that had been so carefully hidden high in my subconscious for so long, had finally re-emerged, and spilled back over into my life.

I took my power back, faced my own mortality, beat the statistics, and chose to live a life of self awareness. My feminine side was not to be feared. She is kind, nurturing, creative, healing, and most of all incredibly powerful. Allowing the creative side of myself to explore my emotions through art was my modality for healing during my illness. Painting was my passion prior to my illness but the work I was starting to produce began surprising me.

Yes, I have Lynch syndrome, but it does not take over every thought of every minute of my life. I am not my genes and I am most certainly not the cancer. I have used the experience to empower my life and to make a difference. I count, I am a survivor but I am also a creator, a healer, a mother and a wife. I am grateful for the knowledge of my genetics because I can now be a proactive, a happier person who doesn’t sit in drama or sweat the small stuff. My perspective and ability to bring hope and healing to others through my experience and my artwork has changed my life. The cancer and the Lynch syndrome diagnosis have opened my eyes, saved my marriage and awakened me to possibilities far beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

Michelle Lykokapis
Melbourne, Australia
http://michellepotter.com.au

 

But You Look Great!

But You Look Great!

Truthfully, people say this alot and I’m not just saying it.  If you can pull through a very serious illness and inspire others by walking the talk then I am very humbled by the complement.  The life I choose to live is a healthy, proactive, productive and positive one and when I walk out into the world this is the face I would hope most people see.  

However, with every ray of light there is a shadow and that is also what I have had to accept and to learn to live with with eveyday. Having gone through the physical, emotional and financial experience of cancer it is not uncommon for people to come and ask for my help.  I would average at least one person a month either asking me to call their friend or requesting my number “to give to such and such’.  I am a loving, caring person but in all honesty I simply cant. Not just for my own health and well-being but I am not a professional counselor.  Don’t get me wrong, I do understand the importance of  being able to connect to someone when you are going through a tough emotional time or not coping with prescribed treatment, but there are structures within society that will assist those that need it.
 
Just like most of us, it takes me all my own energy to get through each and everyday and I would hope people understand that one can only extend themselves so far.  For me life has always got to be about boundaries and balance. It is actually a critical part of my life now and I don’t expect people to understand unless they have lived through this surgery and have the looming threat of cancer over their heads.  I discovered through my journey I have a genetic disorder called Lynch Syndrome. In a nutshell I have a faulty cancer protective gene which is in each and every cell of my body. This means I am far more likely to develop one or more cancers throughout my lifetime as this is the more dominant gene in the cell. So, you see I live with the threat of disease everyday of my life. As proactive and as positive as I am nothing helps the anxiety leading up to quarterly blood tests,yearly scans and intrusive procedures. I will never be ‘over’ cancer, this is something my human side has to deal with for the rest of my life, period
 
I wanted to give back to society after my illness so I put a structure in place to be able to do that. I created a Support Group on Facebook called https://www.facebook.com/SupportGroupForPartialTotalGastrectomyPatients for people who live with partial or no stomach.  Along with four other administrators (all stomachless) I am able to help people on a daily basis just by living my life and sharing personal experiences and information.  I do not extend myself further than that unless someone locally with stomach cancer comes through the No Stomach for Cancer website (http://www.nostomachforcancer.org) , my GP, my surgeon or my oncologist.  For my own sanity and to stay out of the depths of other peoples despair this is just one boundary I am constantly having to uphold. 
As well as being extremely lucky, I am also not your average type of girl. I am committed to do the work on myself to evolve. I believe anything is possible and I want to express myself and inspire people through my artwork and hopefully light a few internal flames in those who are searching for more than this human experience,  I have committed myself in spiritual meditation classes for over five years and I’ve had to do alot of self healing and releasing during that time. The more I define myself the clearer the decisions and choices I have to make.  This includes finding that cold compassion with people and being able to detach from those who are no longer a reflection of me, no matter how long they have been a part of my life.  Letting go of the past is incredibly difficult and emotionally hard, but for those committed on this journey of higher consciousness there is no room for illusion just the truth.  It takes a lot of hard work spiritually, emotionally and physically to ‘ Look Great’. So when someone pays me this complement, I know I’ve earned it!