The Real Lesson Learned

I for one am ready for 2012. 2011 has had some rough spots that I’d like to make disappear with the wave of a magic wand.

This year started off with realizing that the relationship I thought I had, was a lie. That’s always fun! Still is. However, the emotional pain from heartbreak quickly took a backseat when a car accident resulted in me having a broken neck. Before the accident I was hopeful — hopeful that one day soon the sky would deliver a warm, brilliant sunshine and the ice block that had encased my heart would melt; I would be healed. My reality check came in a completely different format — it was fast, harsh, and painful.

I am now faced with daily reminders of what true pain is. I thought the wounded heart was bad. But the neck and shoulder stiffness and soreness has compromised my ability to sleep. I just can’t get comfortable. I have every pillow shape to wedge around me. Ones shaped like peanuts, the letter C and even one that is delightfully squish. I even tried to sleep by sitting up on my couch. I woke up in my neck brace covered in drool. That was sexy. I may need to rent an adjustable hospital bed. Oh goodness! Doesn’t that put me one step closer to a tennis balls under a walker?

I’m tough and have a high tolerance for pain, but this is ridiculous. I’m writing this blog entry on my iPhone because it’s the only way to stabilize my arms while holding the phone at eye level. But I am thankful for my thumbs still being able to fly across the screen.

I am thankful that I was able to walk away from the wreck. I thank God daily for that. And if you saw the MRI, you’d be amazed too! In this experience I have recognized that having supportive family and friends is essential to survival and getting through tough times. Perhaps that is God’s lesson in all this. I was focused on heartbreak and what I believed I had lost –love, value, worthiness. But maybe I didn’t lose those things. Maybe He wanted me to see that love, value and worthiness do not come from another person giving them to you — those are not commodities that can be taken away. Instead they are freely given by people who matter most — people who love and care for me. Those are the loved ones who would never allow me to feel lost or broken.

Addendum: 11/2/11

However, there is another lesson I failed to mention in the first draft of this blog entry. It is really THE most important lesson of all. So what if the man of your dreams waltzes out of your life…or makes a mad dash. It happens. It sucks but it is not the end of the world. I ain’t gonna lie. It FEELS like you’ve reached the end of the Earth but you haven’t. At the moment you feel abandoned, stuck in neutral, paralyzed by loneliness, remember at some point you loved yourself first. As you shake off the sadness please remind yourself that your value is not found in the eyes of another.  Remembering to love yourself is probably the third step in the recovery process. The first and second steps involve drinking yourself into a recovery haze and crying while watching a chick flick. After a few months of that damaging behavior, start rebuilding you. Go running, watch an Ironman race on TV, wear your favorite outfit, volunteer for those less fortunate than yourself. My cure for the day is to wear my “I love me” t-shirt. Though it is wonderful to have cheerleaders in your corner it is best to have that inner voice whispering from within “I am amazing,” “I am awesome,” “I love me.”




Three Weeks Ago Things Were Very Different…

Three weeks ago today I was in a pretty bad car accident. My neck is broken and slowly fusing back together. I missed being a quadriplegic by about a centimeter. I am happy to have the ability to walk, but an accident of this magnitude makes you re-evaluate your life, goals, and what is important.

Once I heal I will return to blogging. It may take a week or a few weeks to be able to type for an extended period of time. But I promise to return to the virtual world, better than before. I’ve got a new perspective to share.


Oh to be a Jerseylicious Girl

Cast of Jerseylicious

Everyone has a vice. Some drink, others over eat, or do drugs. My vice is painless – a private method to depleting my brain cells. When I am in the mood for an at home vacation, I entertain my brain with 60 minutes of cheesy TV. I hate to admit it, but I love to watch “Jerseylicious.” It’s a reality show about hair and make-up stylists in a New Jersey salon. I’m not sure how much of the drama is real vs encouraged but it makes for some seriously entertaining downtime.

Every time I watch an episode, I think to myself, “How fun it must be to have so few responsibilities in life.” To be in my 20s again with no house note and a skewed view of what constitutes small, medium and large – oh to be a Jersey girl. The girls wear big nails, big hair and unsightly amounts of their asses spill out from underneath mid-thigh hugging dresses. It’s all part of the over the top, boisterous Jersey style.

I can’t say I know a lot about The Garden State. In fact what I know is all based on what I see on the show and dear goodness I hope my perceptions are not all reality. If I were an alien from another planet I would think all the Jersey residents’ skin color ranges from bronze to orange; hairless, toned men like curvatious women (not a bad thing) and almost every time someone opens his or her mouth, either yelling or proof of ignorance comes flying out. I’ve never heard so many arguments about absolutely nothing. Because of their limited vocabulary, their altercations consist of — stupid, bitch, bleep, bleep, and then they start swinging at each other. It’s great!

Two characters in particular, Tracy and Olivia are arch enemies. These two lightening rods hold the whole show together. Tracy, a chunky hair stylist, is very focused on her career and has made some bold steps towards her goals of working for a major fashion magazine and owning her own runway/stylist company. Most of her outfits need more fabric in width and length. Now that’s my opinion.  She dresses like she put the “ho” in Hoboken. Then again, most of the girls on the show do. For as much as I appreciate and respect her determination, I loathe her character. She’s just downright nasty to Olivia.

Olivia is a fashion freak – really, that’s the best word I can use. She emerges on the set with all kinds of odd combinations of animal print and pleather, oversized jewelry and blinged out accessories. Though her I.Q. points may not exceed the number of make-up brushes she owns, Olivia is likable, midly amusing and  bi polar (if provoked). She means well, but she isn’t going to win any saintly awards. Olivia isn’t innocent. She has uttered her fair share of cruel comments, but Tracy is the catalyst who antagonizes her. Their verbal wars usually end up as wrestling matches of  zebra vs leopard. It’s such high quality programming; I just can’t change the channel. Way better than Jersey Shore.

So what’s the allure of the show? I think part of it is the complete departure from my real life of tasteful dress, calm and conservative values. Watching Jerseylicious gives me a sneak peek into a crazy life I will likely never have and pretty sure I don’t want. But it’s still fun to watch the scissor flying mayhem while being thankful I live in the quiet suburbs of a Texas town.

Image source:

Two Strikes and You’re Out

Bad boys, bad boys. What choo gonna do? What choo gonna do when he cheats on you?

According to the data, you will forgive him (or her). How do I know? Because lately I have been trolling the internet, reading about the romantic misfortunes of others. The problems people have with their relationships are incredibly disheartening. I am amazed at how many adulterous mother f—kers there are out there in the world. This is why I seriously question if marriage is a good idea. I’m nearly convinced that the human species is not designed for monogamy and marriage. After reading many heartbreaking stories about emotional and physical affairs, lying and abandoned marriages, I began to wonder how many victims of cheating would take back the cheater. Therefore on my new guilty pleasure website, I posted this note:

“Would you take them back after cheating?

A friend of mine and I were recently chatting about our exs. Both exs cheated and left us for other women. She asked me, “Knowing what you know now, if he came back and apologized would you take him back?”

I told her in all honesty, “I don’t know. I still love that jerk. I would seriously have to think about it, but I wouldn’t rule it out.” She felt the same way. Are we stupid? WOULD YOU TAKE HIM/HER BACK?”

The responses surprised me. I thought more people would adamantly denounce cheating and send their mate packing. But apparently people are far more forgiving than I realized. Most respondents said they had been cheated on and willingly forgave their mates. But the “take back” was contingent upon some stipulations being met. Some required counseling, others asked for complete transparency with their mate’s email, cell phone and regular “check-in” phone calls. One man described how his wife is virtually imprisoned by his rules.

The “no’s” were not far behind in the tally. However, this data is skewed because the majority of the “no’s” were really second chance failures. Out of the “no” responders, more than half indicated that they originally gave their mate a pass for cheat number one. But after the second one, the relationship had to end because the trust was gone. Two strikes and you’re out!

So why are we so forgiving? Is it because we realize that the same piece of ass “till death do us part” marks the beginning of a lackluster sex life or is it because we have set the bar so low on relationship expectations, that we have given up?

When someone cheats or walks away, our love doesn’t just go away. We think about all the good things we loved about the person. We are desperate to hold onto our rose colored version of the way things were. See the problem? We were in a happy place. Apparently our mates were not and tested the boundaries of our faithful love. And so here we stand – trying to duct tape together a relationship and we aren’t even sure what caused the person to stray. But we do know that the trust has been compromised and it will take an act of Congress to get it back. But because we love the person so much, we are willing to become vulnerable again, with hopes of erasing their tarnished record. We are in love. We are willing to stick our necks out there again, reopen our wounded hearts and forgive for the sake of the illusive, happily ever after.

Expiration Dating

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to avoid heartache. It seems every woman I know (and a few men) has experienced some sort of catastrophic end to a relationship that causes them to construct the Great Wall of China around their hearts. “Nope. No one is ever going to get that close to me again,” we proclaim. Daily, we struggle with the disappointment and unanswered questions. Heartbreak is a lousy experience, but it’s a painful part of adulthood. We try to keep ourselves busy and occupy our time with mindless crap. The only way out is a lobotomy or shock therapy and that seems a bit invasive, don’t you think?

So how can we avoid the sleepless nights and puffy eyes? What about Expiration Dating? Expiration dating is hanging out with someone for a predetermined amount of time. When the time has expired, the relationship is over. Here’s how I imagine it working. You meet someone interesting and you both enjoy each other’s company. Before “I love you’s” are exchanged, and too many promises are made, agree to see each other exclusively for 2 months. It’s like a dating contract. At the end of the two months you each have the option to walk away, no strings attached. Usually you’d be emotionally attached by this point, but if you constantly remind your brain that this is only a two month trial relationship, then you hopefully won’t get too wrapped up in the other person. If the relationship is going great then you can sign another contract for longer. If either of you have started eyeing the latest eye candy at the gym, well you know its time, not to renew.

I have proposed this brilliant plan to a few friends and not one of them thinks this theory will work. But I figure it is worth a try. Anything is better than wondering when you will wake up truly happy and back to normal.

40 is not 30, it’s 40. Just ask your uterus.

When I was 39 I looked forward to 40. I had completed several goals on my bucket list; I had a great boyfriend who wanted to have kids with me in the coming year. I was fit as hell and madly in love. But just before my big 4-0, I realized the relationship I thought I had, was headed south. The visions of strollers and engagement rings quickly faded away like spring time in Texas. I was crushed. Pissed. And mostly I felt lost. But almost every woman has a break up story. Mine is no different.

The thought of starting over in a relationship and getting to the “baby” stage caused my uterus to twinge with angst and remind me that she and the remaining eggs were shifting to bond funds since retirement was imminent. And then I heard it, the clock. I had never really heard it before. Maybe I wasn’t listening. Maybe I didn’t care. I never really wanted kids until I met him. But after my sperm donor of choice pulled a Houdini, I understood why Cinderella high tailed it back to the carriage. Because she knew that once the clock struck midnight, that stunning chariot that had sprung to life out of magic and fairy dust, would soon be nothing but a useless gourd.

Forty wasn’t supposed to be my scary year. You know, the one you have predetermined is your reproductive cut off year. I know there are banks and willing donor participants, adoption and fostering, but that was never in my plan. I want the whole package, great dad, healthy and happy kids, and a rockstar for a mom (that’s me). That was supposed to be my fairy tale.

Yeah, yeah the story isn’t over yet; I know that. It’s just another chapter in a tale that better have a happy f–king ending. Now solidly in my 40th year, I am reprioritizing my goals and life’s ambitions. Perhaps babies won’t be in the future. Perhaps they will. I am happy that my annual doctor visits all came out okay. Really glad the mammogram was clear because if I had to do THAT test again I would definitely need the lab tech to warm her hands and buy me a drink first.

Forty is a new horizon. I’m turning the page and starting again, not over, but starting again. Starting over implies something ended and there was a defeat. This cougar is far from facing an ending point. She’s just sharpening her claws and headed out for some fresh meat. Okay, not really. I’m just headed out to enjoy my friends for dinner, some much needed girl talk and more than a few cocktails.

To Tell or Not to Tell: What to do When Someone You Know is Cheating

Discovering that a friend is cheating on his or her mate stirs up many moral and ethical questions for us. When we find out, we immediately wonder, “Should I or shouldn’t I tell?” After many hours of careful tallying of surveys and questioning real and online friends, I have a rough guideline that will help you decide whether or not to tell. It is not an absolute dichotomous key, but it does help you sort out your thoughts. First, let’s investigate the data and the reality of the emotions behind our decisions.

The data

When polled, 99% of the respondents said if their mate were cheating, they would want to know. But here’s the interesting part, fewer than 60% would actually tell their friend or associates if their mate was stepping out of the relationship. It would seem that if 99% of people want to know, then an equal number should tattle, right? Nope and I believe I know why.

Why the gap between “I want to know” and “I will not tell”?

About friends who would tell: For most people, the answer comes down to a relative degree of relationship closeness. We have friends and we have associates. We treat them differently. Friends are the people we talk to regularly, who you could borrow money from and have your back in a fight. Associates are co-workers who you politely say “hello” to when you pass in the hallway. Many surveyed said, they would tell a friend (implying a close contact relationship) if the friend’s mate were cheating. The belief is that the friendship is strong enough to sustain truthful and honest facts, even if the truth hurts. You are more likely to tell the truth to a friend because you want to see him or her happy. Since your friend has a direct connection to your life, his or her romantic relationship affects you. You are an invested stakeholder in your friends’ lives.

A true friend will be honest, always! You can candy coat the facts, but as part of the friendship creed it is our responsibility to be truthful with friends and support them when they need it. I once had a friend ask me if her butt looked big. (This is the short version.) I was silent. She was hurt because she knew the answer was “yes.” She was PISSED at me with a capital P! But after six months and a loss of 30 pounds, she thanked me. As a friend, sometimes you can speak the truth without saying anything at all. But lying is not acceptable to a friend or anyone – EVER! If your friends and family can’t tell you the truth, who will? Not everyone has access to Clinton or Stacy.

About friends who would NOT tell: If you fall into this category, you are not alone. Originally I thought, “You are not a friend if you remain quiet.” Then over lunch my steadfast black and white rules began to fade to grey. A good friend of mine, I’ll call her Rachel, told me a story that changed my perspective and offers empathy to those who are silenced by their own inner conflict. While shopping in a mega market one day, she saw her mother on what looked to be a “date.” She and a male companion were shopping together and were uncomfortably close for Rachel’s eyes. Rachel was fairly certain that her father was not aware of the fling. Never did Rachel mention what she saw to her mother or father. It remains her secret. When I asked her why she never questioned her mother she said, “My mother’s relationship with my father is none of my business and they are still together. Mom and dad still seem happy together so why should I rock the boat? You never really know what is going on in other people’s relationships.” Shit! She wouldn’t talk to her own mother about suspected infidelity. This makes my theory nearly invalid. I guess this is why we have outlier data. Not all data fits into perfect packages.

The common denominator here is, these respondents do not want to risk losing the relationship. Originally I wondered, what kind of friendship do you have if the relationship cannot sustain truth? But after hearing Rachel’s story I had to validate the outlier opinion. It is the fear of losing a friendship, the fear of being the source of emotional turmoil and the fear of causing drama that make the outliers think long and hard about telling the truth. If this is a short lived affair, is it my place to say anything? Outliers rationalize, it is in everyone’s best interest to remain silent.

About Associates: When it comes to sharing fidelity tales with associates, lips tend to be iron clad. Reason being is their lives are not intertwined with yours. They do not interact on a regular basis with you therefore you are not obligated to tell him or her about confirmed infidelity. There is limited loyalty to an associate. And furthermore, why would they believe you? When talking about associates, survey respondents said, anything dealing with an associate would be “none of my business.” Several said that because he or she will eventually find out, it is not necessary to say anything. “I don’t want to start drama” was another popular response.

Why cheating is so easy and common

Because they can. People generally do not want to get involved in other couples’ affairs – whether friends, family or associates. Cheaters know they have the upper hand because no one wants to be the bearer of bad news. There are no industry watchdog organizations like, Mothers Against Cheating Spouses to fall back on for support. I guess we could consider Maury Povich the cheating spouse spokesperson, but many of us dealing with infidelity do not want our dirty laundry aired across the globe in hi def. We are desensitized to adultery. It is common place. But the pain it causes is still very hurtful and real. As a society is there a way to reduce the number of cheaters? The scarlet letter “A” didn’t seem to work very well. And we can’t take them out back and shoot them. So what is a society to do?

It’s a Wrap

I would love to hear from a cheater. I would like to know why they do it. Is it a rush? Is one mate not enough? Tiger Woods is this decade’s biggest cheeta’. He had to know that if Elin found out about his conquests that she would walk away. Did he value her as a wife and mother? Do you risk what you love? Perhaps we will find out one day if Tiger or one of his boys writes a tell all book. As for the rest of the prowling cheaters out there, what is it that they want? Why do they risk hurting those who love them? Maybe they don’t really love their mates. I wonder what a cheater would say if he or she discovered their friend’s mate was creeping. Would a cheater turn in a fellow cheater?

I found some answers in my research. I also developed more questions. Infidelity has existed since the beginning of time. It is doubtful to prevent it. So perhaps learning the causes can help reduce the number of heartache.

Cheater image from:

Samson Wasn’t Stupid. He Was Hopeful. The reason Samson continued to confide in the back-stabbing, Delilah

I admit it. I am judgmental. When Hillary stayed with Bill after the Monica Lewinsky debacle I thought, “How could she stay with him? He’s an adulterer! How humiliating for her and her daughter!” Hillary’s emotional state must have been all over the map during those months of invasive investigations and hearings; but the one emotion that most likely pulled her through the storm of embarrassment was hope. She hoped the accusations were false. She hoped the whole situation would blow over. She hoped the whole world wasn’t watching. And she probably hoped Bill would figure out a way to dodge Kenneth Star and skate out of this messy predicament. Unfortunately, hope often clouds our judgment and in this case, hope bit her in the ass.

You can't blame a man for hoping.

Hope. It is the precursor to falling head over heels in love. The butterflies we feel on a first date, lead us to hope for a phone call and a second date. Hope empowers us to move to an unfamiliar city to follow a dream. This powerful four letter word fills our hearts with potential and warm fuzzies. Hope. It can also be a tricky word because with hope we expect enjoyment, happiness, some sort of fulfillment. We believe with hope on our side, love is not far behind. What we hope for is a honesty, faithfulness, and sincerity. Unfortunately, hope can be stripped away in the blink of an eye. Tragedy can swoop in causing you to question everything you thought you knew. The tragedy could be an earthquake, a traffic accident or even the end to a promising relationship. In life we must be prepared to accept that hope has a vicious underbelly: suffering.

Hope can lull you into some very foolish choices. Just look at the story of Samson and Delilah. Samson possessed God given strength as long as his hair was never cut. Oh yeah, and he wasn’t supposed to tell anyone the source of his freakish strength either. When his lover Delilah asked him why he was so strong, he was wise to mislead her because she was no longer looking out for his best interest. The Philistines offered her money to find the secret to Samson’s strength in order to capture him. Clearly the Philistines and Samson had major issues.

Delilah asked Samson for the source of his strength multiple times. Each night he made up an answer. Each night when he fell asleep she tested the veracity of his story. And each morning she would be upset that he lied to her. It should have been painfully obvious to Samson that Delilah was trying to harm him, right? But Samson loved her so much; he could not see her hidden agenda. He was blinded by his love for her. He could not see that she was out to sabotage him. Samson had hope. He hoped that she really loved him as much as he loved her. He loved her to the point that he sacrificed himself to satisfy her desires. His hope led to his suffering and eventual death. The night Samson told her that his hair was his strength, her conspirators cut it off. Samson was then captured, his eyes were gouged out and he was committed to a life of humiliating servitude. Delilah took her booty and was gone. See why hope can be so dangerous?

Men will argue that Delilah was a gold digger. (Actually the Philistines gave her silver.) Women may say Samson was just an idiot who chased the hottie harlot, who didn’t really love him for who he was. I agree with both, but the romantic in me wants to believe he did it all for love. He adored her and couldn’t stand keeping secrets from her. He hoped the feelings were mutual. He hoped for a happily ever after. But he hoped wrong, which resulted in his painful demise. And isn’t it always the case? Delilah got off scott free. Bitch!

So where do we go from here? Hope is like the fulcrum centered beneath life’s love-hate teeter totter. Lean too far left and you begin to fall madly in love. Slide too far to the right and experience unfathomable heartache. If you stay balanced in the middle, you can’t fall off and you can’t get hurt. And where’s the fun in that? Should we hope for everlasting love knowing that suffering could be waiting around the corner? The choice is yours. But I say this — once you have healed from a devastating blow, jump back into the arena. It’s not easy but if you don’t, you run the risk of missing out on an amazing future. Hope will be restored in your heart. It just takes time and a willingness to accept that you may fall on the sword again, and again and again before triumph finds you. In love there are no guarantees, and that sucks. But without hope, finding that fairytale would be impossible.

Hillary knew that Bill had a thing for the ladies. Heck we all knew it. But she loved her man and stood by his side, just like Tammy Wynette! Hillary had hope in her marriage and hope in Bill. I won’t say they have the perfect marriage, but for them, hope and love prevailed.

Here’s to all our happily ever afters — no matter how long they take to arrive.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Kids are way smarter than adults realize. Their incite is based on simple facts, not emotions. They tend to be brutally honest when it comes to things that really matter. They do so without trying to make a grand point or catch you in a “gotcha.” I recently had dinner with my good friend Josh and his 10 year old son, Kade. He’s a chip off the old block – handsome, carefree and well-mannered. Josh and I are good friends; but that is it, only friends. Josh is forty-something, thrice divorced and he recognizes that he and the general female population are all better off if he remains single. He tends to pick the car by examining the exterior for dents and dings, but seldom checks under the hood to find out how reliable the mechanics are. Afterall, he’s a guy awestruck by T, A and colored roots.

Early one summer evening, I invited Josh and Kade over for burgers on the grill. Much of the dinner table conversation was spent with Josh trying to convince me to get myself back on the dating market. I explained that my last break up hit me pretty hard. I had lost my desire to even try and that my broken heart was nowhere near ready for a venture out into the big city. “I enjoy my time with friends, family, and my laptop these days. When a guy hits on me, I just stare at him. I don’t even get excited. I’ve given up. Dating just hurts too much these days.”

Shocked by my surrender, Kade’s eyes darted towards me. He quickly swallowed a bite of burger and in a near panicked voice said, “So, you’re just gonna quit?!” I sat at my tiny kitchen table in silence — stunned. His words echoed loudly in my head. What could I say? Admit to a ten year old that it is okay to quit? Kade had me over a barrel and we all knew it. Josh, like a deer caught in headlights, stared at the ketchup bottle right in front of him. He dare not make eye contact with either of us and took a huge bite of his burger to keep his mouth busy. Kade’s sermon continued. “Dad said that when things get tough, you’re s‘posed to hunker down and try again.” I felt naked, completely exposed and blanket free. I had no witty quip, words of wisdom. Nothing.

Kade’s stare was so innocent. All he wanted was to hear me agree with him. I wanted to tell Kade he was right; but in this case, I couldn’t. “Sometimes in life Kade people hurt your feelings and it’s hard to trust new friends again.” I was quite proud of my simpleton response. That’ll certainly stop the bleeding. But, Kade forged ahead in his argument.

“Yah, but you’re nice. You can make lots of new friends that are better than the old ones. When things don’t go your way, you don’t get to just quit. You have to keep trying until you get what you want.” Kade wisely rested his case and turned to his father, nodding his head in search of validation. Josh knew how I felt about men, which is why he kept his mouth shut. He too had visited Been-cheated-on Island and Heart Break City many more times than I had. He often suffered from loneliness, but it wasn’t a topic we spent a lot of time on. It was too painful for either of us to admit previous defeats.

Here I was hoping to enjoy a laid back summer night with my male partners in crime. Instead his son was giving me agita. I’m sure Kade wasn’t aware of the nerve he hit. He was just being a kind-hearted cheerleader, just like his dad. I didn’t want to break his bubble and tell him that once he gets older, he will likely cause some great young girl to cry her eyes out, just like I’ve done over the past few months. But that’s how life is sometimes. Lovers and friends filter in and out of your life. Some stay. Some set up camp in our hearts and then vanish in a flash. Those are the ones we can’t seem to forget, but should.

I offered Kade another burger and a big plate of homemade strawberry cupcakes. They were an offering of gratitude for his simple wisdom. As my pint sized, Justin Bieber hair wearing young friend reminded me, I am a nice person. In fact, I’m downright awesome and I was allowing a bad ending to road block a new beginning. “You know what Kade? You’re right. I guess it’s time I made some new friends. That’s the best idea I’ve heard in a while.” Josh looked relieved. Kade was quite proud of himself. And why shouldn’t he have been. He proved that day that children are at times wiser than adults. He also reminded me that somewhere out there, was a man waiting to be my cheerleader.