2 YEARS OVERDUE

As I count the days before I leave my 20’s, I thought of challenging myself with 30 THINGS TO DO (OR SHOULD HAVE DONE) BEFORE I TURN 30. I searched google and I have browsed on several articles about the things to do when you turn 30. Well, I paused and thought to myself. What’s with that age, 30, that people are so frantic about? For me, being in your 30 means leaving all those childishness behind. It means that you are stepping on to a new chapter of your life wherein you are expected to act and to decide like a real grown-up does. Big deal? For some, yes, maybe. Hitting the big 3-0 is a milestone in one’s life, at least for me. And so before I celebrate my 30th birthday, I list 30 things that I should have accomplished by then.

1. Drive defensively. (Yes, should be defensive. These days, a lot of people are too offensive.)

2. Expand network as in double or triple my network database. (This means I have to meet more and more people. Why? Simple. I’m in a profession wherein my network database is the foundation of it all.)

3. Slide and swim. (I am not afraid of heights. But I am scared of drowning. So, I haven’t really tried sliding and swimming. But now, I courageously will.

4. Lose 30 pounds or more. (Oh yes. I gained a lot of weight. With my 2 years of stay in the southern part of the country, I gained experiences as much as I gained extra pounds. So now, gradually, I will attempt to lose some fats again.)

5. Finish my goodreads book challenge. (With my so busy schedule, I don’t have as ample time as I had before to read.)

6. Bake any goody. (I am no baker nor cook. But I love it when my family appreciates every little thing that I do in our kitchen.)

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This photo is a painting by Ben Cab at the Ben Cab Museum

It has been a while since I got my fingers here. I was practically busy enriching my life. I am a highly ambitious person. I know exactly what I want and I will do everything to make my dreams into reality.

Life has not been easy for me. I grew up proving myself to my parents. I love them so much that I always wanted to make them proud. I was the pride of our family. Until I grew up to become a very stubborn lady. Because I always do what I want, I ended up making wrong decisions. Over and over again, I make wrong choices. I am the typical give-me-advice-but-wont-do-it person. My head is so hard that I don’t feel hurt when I slam it on a rock.

Years passed and I evolved into a woman who is independent and career-and-goal-oriented. I got married at an early age, 21. And started my own family. I am blessed to have a wonderful son who is the source of my inspiration. Marrying a man who loves you more than you love him is a dream come true. I know that he loved me so much and he would move mountains for me. He even promised me the sun, the moon, and the stars. And true to his words, he gave me the world.

Love made my world go round. It is a many splendored thing. I was lost in ecstasy and was drowned by his love. He loved me like I wanted him to. He loved me like everyday is the first time.

In all marriages, commitment is an essential ingredient. Slowly, our commitment had faded away. We drifted apart. Maybe I was too focused on succeeding in my career. Or maybe he was too busy accumulating wealth and too afraid for my success. While we were too fond of our personal goals, we found ourselves changing. These changes made us grow apart.

A relationship to last, I have learned, is needed to be nurtured and cherished. For a marriage to succeed, there should be a daily conscious effort of committing to each other. It is a vow to be regularly renewed. And we just woke up one day that the commitment is gone.

Whose fault is it? I think it’s both. It always takes two to tango. And marriage is never a one-way street.

If there is one thing that this marriage has taught me, it is that effort is always better than promises. I know I’m strong, but I am tired. There is no looking back.

Bitter experiences usually lead us to become better persons. My perspective in life has changed now. I learned to value my time and guard my health more. It is about time for me to repair the broken heart that he left inside of me.

And now I’m singing:
🎶 I know the other girlies wanna wear expensive things
Like diamond rings
But I don’t wanna be the puppet that you’re playing on a string
THIS QUEEN DON’T NEED A KING. 🎶 (to the tune of Sit Still Look Pretty by Daya)

To my ex-friend (as inspired by the Facebook page of open letters that matter)

Dear Ex-Friend,

I have come to write this blog as an inspiration that came from a Facebook page I recently read. Thanks to my one true friend, that is also my best friend, for sending me the link to it.

First, let me tell you that I miss you. Yes, I do. And the moment I read the open letter to an ex-friend, I thought of you. And I miss you more.

It is Easter Sunday today. I woke up so early to bring my husband to the airport for he is going back to work. And then I thought of you. I thought of us. Years back, during holy week, we spent time with our families on out-of-town trips. If not, we just stayed home, eat, and chat. Endless chats. Oh how I miss chatting with you.

If by any chance that I will meet you, one day again, I will smile at you. I will probably say hi and even ask you how have you been. Believe me or not, time has healed me. I admit that when we chose our separate ways, I was deeply hurt. It even felt like I broke up with a boyfriend or someone I’m in a relationship with. But after a few years, I’m not sure if it’s 2 or 3 or 4, I can say that I’m OK with it—with all the hurt I felt way back then.

Honestly, there were a few times before when I tried looking up your Facebook page, twitter, and instagram. But we ended up bitterly so you decided to just block me. I can’t blame you for feeling hurt, too. I may have hurt you more than I knew.

But like I said, time has healed me. The hurt was replaced with feeling of longingness. I long for your sound advice whenever I have life challenges. I long for your sweet messages and late night texts that when we weren’t able to reply, that meant we’ve fallen asleep holding our phones. I miss how you took care of me whenever I’m at your place, serving me food you cooked. I miss the feeling that I know I always have you around whenever I want to vent out some of my frustrations without any judgment. I miss seeing you once in a while to have mom talks,  wifey talks, or even “in-law” talks. I miss sharing my achievement and accomplishments with you. I miss how you tell me that you were proud of what I have become and would want me to serve as your inspiration. I miss you. I miss us.

As time passed by, gone were also the days you and me would sneak some time to have some night runs and a few cigar sticks puffing time. Gone were the days when we were partners in crime—crimes worthy of keeping as secret until the end of time. Gone were the days when we will go on dates, just the two of us, to spend some time of our own. Gone are the so many days that I can’t even remember them all.

For now, let me just tell you this: Thank you. Thank you for being a huge part of my life. We’ve known each other for more than half of our lives now. Thank you. Just thank you.

If ever one day, you find in your heart that you miss me, too, I’m just a tweet or message away. We don’t know each other’s numbers anymore that is why I want to rely heavily on social media for our reconnection. That is, if you want to be reconnected again.

For whatever it is worth, I hope this open letter (as a blog) comes to you. Whether or not we go back to the way we were, I am happy that time helped mend my broken heart and helped me realize a lot of things in life. If there is one important thing time taught me, it is to realize the value of people/person in your life when they are gone.

To you, my ex-friend (best friend actually), I wish all the best in life to come your way.

 

Until then,

Valen

Hopeful for HOPELESS

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Photo: One of the best paragraphs from the novel – screen grabbed from phone

“Im not going to wish for a perfect life. The things that knock you down in life are tests, forcing you to make a choice between giving in and remaining on the ground or wiping the dirt off and standing up even taller than you did before you were knocked down. Im choosing to stand up taller. I’ll probably get knocked down a few more times before this life is through with me, but I can guarantee you I’ll never stay on the ground.”

Not a 5-star rating despite the beautiful passages found in it. I was just so overwhelmed by the gravity of the conflict. i think it’s too much to take in. The focal point isn’t really on the aspect of cheesy and teeny love story. It’s more about facing life as it is laid to you as ugly as you don’t want it to be. Anyway, apart from the moral juices I gained from this, I think the names of the characters are all cute.

To be honest, I expected more from this novel, as this was recommended to me. I thought I’d be super enthusiastic whenever I’m immersed in the reading. It had me a couple of breaks before I finally finished the book. That’s a clear sign of me being a little unattached to the novel. But I guess I’ll be having an “author break” first. I will read other authors’ works next. Hoover is one bright writer, I can say. But her other works might be needing a little more time to be sleeping in my library.

On Chasing Rainbows

“In life, you either choose to sing a rainbow, or you don’t.”

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I was actually looking for a good material other than my typical YA novels in my collection, one fine day. Just when I saw Chasing Rainbows under the category life and philosophy. This novel appealed to me from the very few pages of it. With coping up with loss and death of a father, I was certain that I would be having a certain degree of relation to what the novel offers. And you know what? I did.

As I read on, I was truly overwhelmed by the feeling of grief, not just by the loss of the protagonist’s father, but also by losing her daughter. So the progression came in. There was this certain air of motivation of moving on with life after stumbling down. I think losing people who are so dear to you, permanently, is the greatest burden to bear. In this novel’s case, Benadette had lost a father, a daughter, and subsequently, her husband. I can imagine how her world has been stumbling down, crumbling into pieces right before her very eyes. And yet, she managed to deal with all these unfortunate sequence of events with the help of the remaining people in her life—her mom, brother, and her bestfriend Diane.

 

Lucky is what she is for having a best friend she’d known for almost all her life. But just like in any other friendship, squabbles and conflicts were never absent. And here again, another life issue has been given to her, amidst her constant motion to move on. But do you know what makes me like Bernadette’s character here? It’s her personal affirmation to live her life forward despite the fact that she had been through all these heartaches and loss. The not-so-many scenarios of her attempt to change the direction of her life added humor to the story. I love the idea that she wanted to lose weight, cut her hair for a new look, tried to have a makeover, and bought “hot” boots. These acts were so real I even remembered doing these same things when I was…well…younger.

 

There are two things I like the most in this novel. One is the incorporation of an obedience school dropout dog in the name of Poindexter. I love how this dog portrayed a confidant to his beloved owner. A dog chasing airplanes and afraid of confrontation of any sort is such a wonderful and playfully crafted product of the author’s imagination. Two is the developing romance of Bernie to a cat walker neighbor in the name of Aidan a.k.a. Number Thirty Six. Isn’t it cute to use code names to love prospects? I remember when I was still, well, a lot younger, I also used code names for my crushes.

 

I commend Kathleen Long for writing a novel such as this. I so love the idea that she incorporated meaningful and related quotes at the very end of each chapter, as part of the cryptogram that her primary character was solving in the story. Yes, I am a fan of quotable quotes, that I can call myself a “quote woman”. For me, it adds substance to whatever you are trying to say. I also like Long’s style of writing—not so flowery, but not boring. Just right for a mature appetite. Chasing Rainbows is not so lengthy that you can finish it without putting it down. The story is not so grand, but that’s what makes it as real as the worldly life. The novel ended just so lightly with lots of possibilities.

After finishing Chasing Rainbows, again, I gained a lot of realizations about love, friendship, motherhood, and life in general. Actually, I think the novel encompasses all possible aspects of life. First, in dealing with any loss a significant person in life, it is always alright to grieve, cry, and sob. People grieve differently. That’s true. But one thing is certain, all the tears won’t bring back the life that was already taken. So it is just ok to feel grief for a while. And after that, just not that long after that, move on. Life is full of possibilities. You might miss to catch the sunshine when you are busy comforting yourself in the rain. Another one, in dealing with marital issues such as divorce, it might also feel like a loss. You lose that one person you envisioned your life to be with for the rest of your life. But the catch is, never take your relationship with your partner for granted. In the process, you might be losing that vital bond with your spouse while you were so down. Never ever forget that you don’t carry the world, you don’t need to shoulder the grief all by yourself. That is the purpose of having a partner in life—to share your ups and downs with. As cliche as it may seem, it will always be prevention is better than cure. So better be cautious not to let that one person you love the most slip out of your life. Because if he/she does, you might not bring him/her back. Sometimes life has its own way of proving to us that we better get a good grip of what we have at the moment. And if the case is irreparable, then let it go. There’s no use holding on to something that will not make you feel loved anymore.  If ever that happens, just maintain a positive outlook that the future is always better and brighter. On the issue of friendship, not all people are so lucky to have true old friends. And when I say old, I mean knowing them for almost the rest of your life. Friends, real friends, are extension of yourself. In most cases, your truest and best friends know more things about you than your family does. And true enough, keeping a handful of them is like treasuring a handful of the rarest gems in the world. Lastly, in living life in general. As some songs say it, who says life is going to be easy? It is going to be just worth it. So live life according to how you want to live it. Never ever be dictated by anyone or anything on how to lead your life. After all, we’ve only got one shot. Therefore, we should chase our own rainbows and live the best life we all ever wanted.

This Is Not Just An Ordinary New Year’s Resolution

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2013 was one of the toughest years for me and my family. Not only did the Philippines, my country, experience the negativity of 2013, I did feel the challenges and difficulties, too. It seemed to be a relief of some sort that I share the agonies and struggles of the previous year with most of the Filipinos. A shared grief has always a lessened impact.

This evening, I was able to watch ANC’s year-end report. They summed up all the biggest news in 2013. And I was saddened that most of the big happenings last year were actually very bad news. There were tinges of good news, but 2013 was dominated by negative issues. And I said to myself, “Indeed, I’m a Filipino.”

I decided to write this blog as an answer to a note written by Mr. Francis Kong in his Facebook page. Well, I can say that I am one of his avid followers. It is the new year, anyway—a great time to look back to the year that was and time to prepare for the year to come. He wrote in his note New Year Preparations a three-part self-evaluation and self-preparation in living a good year ahead. I thought of answering and listing down here all the responses to his questions there. So the moment I re-read this in 2015, I might be able to say if I did a really great job in setting and achieving my goals.

I. REVIEW AND LEARN FROM THE PAST

 1. What was my greatest blessing last year that excited, stretched, and made me most grateful for?
I thought so hard of what really was my greatest blessing this year. At first, I wasn’t able to think of any, honestly. I know I am blessed in every little way. I am also aware that blessings come in many forms. So I finally realized that the recovery of my son from his two consecutive hospitalizations really made me most grateful for. My son is the most precious gift I have from God, therefore, anything that harms him, harms me a million times more. Those times when he was ill were the most anxious and burdensome times of my 2013. And with his fast recovery, I was able to breathe well again. I am so thankful for all those who extended their help in any means.

2. What was my greatest achievement, accomplishment that really paid off and made me proudest last year?
Raising a child and having a complete and happy family that stays together is always one of my greatest achievements in this phase of my life. I always say that it is never easy to become a mother and a wife. Aside from that role, I also regard my personal competence as one of my accomplishments. I decided to leave my career and pursue a full-time housewife status in 2012. But towards the end of that year, some opportunities came up and I grabbed them. I became a licensed financial advisor then. I know that was a good choice as I can work in my own time, no pressure. But in 2013, I once again decided to enter the workforce in full-time. I thought I am really honed to be a career woman. But of course, being a mother and a wife will always be my priority. So I tried to apply to several job openings where I am qualified. And I once again proved that my personal competence is still my best weapon. I consider passing and qualifying in all the positions in all my job applications my greatest achievement this year. This gave me more confidence that I can be a good contributing member of a good institution. Though I did not pursue any one of those opportunities, for some important reasons, I am optimistic that I’ll get what I really wanted in 2014. No more job mismatch nor wrong expectations for me!

3. What are my three most important mistakes?
This question may be the most asked in my head, all through the years. Yes, I always ask myself whenever I face difficult situations. In 2013, I can say that the three most important mistakes that I made and helped me realize a lot of things evolve in friendship, personal choices, and parenting.

On friendship: 2013 was a tough year for me and my circle of best friends. Last year, I chose not to associate more often and bridged a gap with one of my best friends. I had my reasons. That was hard and emotionally draining, too. I thought, after the turnout of events later, that I might have been too harsh on her. She might not have read and understood my signals. I thought that was it. But there’s more. A huge misunderstanding broke my friendship with one of my closest friends, too. Until now, I did not know how it all started. But all words were said, and we decided to part ways. Where did I go wrong? I may have trusted too much. I may have opened up everything to them too much. And I may have tolerated that kind of relationship with them. Who did I offend? I am not sure if I did. But in all honesty, I never thought of offending any of my friends. Where did I miscalculate? I may have hoped that what happened will soon be fixed. But I was wrong. And I already accepted that fact now. I may have thought that our issues will be talked about in a way everyone can speak the truth. But I was still wrong. And what can I learn from this experience? A lot. But being me, I can always forgive easily. And I can also forget. But I hope that when I forget, I may not forget who my true friends are and those who don’t matter. Because I tend to forget the past and history repeats itself. Lesson learned the hard way.

On personal choices: It is all about my career moves this year. I somewhat wasted some of my energy, time, and money. I applied to different prospective employers, and fortunately, I passed them all. Yes, all! They wanted me. That’s not to brag, but that’s the truth. But when the offer was given, I was disappointed. I may have expected too much. Maybe because I’m in a more rural region of the country. Maybe because I was used to the glam and promises of the corporate world in the city. So I guess, it was me. Anyway, those experiences boost my self-esteem and confidence more. And I just told myself, “charge to experience”.

On parenting: Because I was too preoccupied of finding a new career, I might have missed taking care of my son delicately. And so he got sick and was confined to the hospital twice in 2013. With that, I promise him that I’ll take care of him more. I’ll cook for him more yummy and healthy meals. And I’ll have more quality time playing and learning with him. No more sickness in 2014!

4. How would my spouse, my best friend, my mentor look at these things? What would they say about last year? How would they evaluate my successes, my mistakes, and the things I’ve learned?
Well, these mistakes did not happen the first time in 2013. I almost always do these  in my life. I may be so stubborn that I do not learn from my mistakes. That is why these things keep on happening again and again. As what my husband always tells me, I should know how to be more frugal in emotions with my circle of friends. This is in order to guard myself from being hurt, backstabbed, and taken advantage of. I was too kind and too nice, he said. And I know that any thing that is too much is  also bad. With my best friend and my mentors, I know they know me so well. They never run out of words of advice for me. I appreciate that a lot. As to what these important people say about my 2013, I can tell that they sensed that I had a rough year. And knowing them, I’m sure they are all proud that I was able to once again face and surpass this challenging time of my life. 2013 is over and I am so ready to leave all the “negativities” behind. And sometimes, lessons are learned the hard way, mistakes are made repeatedly in order to fully come into senses that enough is enough.

II. PREPARING TO ADVANCE

1. How will I enrich my life and my family this year? How can I make my relationships more fun, more intimate, and more loving?
One of my most-lived mottos is ENDURE WHEN YOU MUST, ENJOY WHILE YOU CAN. I also believe that in order to live a happy life, you must live to the fullest. I am the type of person who doesn’t really care about what others will say. I always live my life according to my own perception and own decision. This is my life, anyway. And to  enrich my life more? I will continue to become an adventure-lover person. I love to discover a lot of things, even at my own risk. It is also my trait not to stay in my comfort zone. I always seek for new and more worthwhile experiences. For nothing can substitute experience. I will spend more and more enjoyable quality time with my family. Seize every opportunity to be happy together. And to make my relationship more fun, more intimate, and more loving? My mom told me to become my husband’s wife and mistress at the same time.  Also, as I always do, never forget to take care of myself to look perfectly beautiful in the eyes of my husband. In that way, he’ll keep on drooling and wanting me. (LOL) But seriously, in order to keep your man, you should be everything he wanted and needed. Everything. And for my friends and family/relatives, I will always give them the gift of time. Time given is a part of yourself given to them. Time is the most precious gift we can give to our loved ones. But of course, make that time a quality and unforgettable time.

2. What would I like to add, change, or eliminate in my daily routine this year? What tolerations must go? What joys and ordinary pleasures will I add to my schedule starting today?
The first time I read this part, my mind almost crowded with a lot of answers. First things first. What will I add? I will exercise more. I swear I badly needed some physical workout. I am more of a mentally-active person rather than a physically-active one. I can read books all day, or write anything the whole day. But I can’t withstand working out for more than 5 minutes. I feel so tired easily. And this year, I want to be more physically active and get back to shape (fingers crossed). I would also like to challenge myself in reading more challenging materials. I find learning really fun. I am always hungry for new information that can fill my not-so-filled head. For the things I want to change? Maybe I want to lessen my coffee consumption. I drink 3-4 cups of coffee a day. And sometimes, I palpitate so hard that I can feel my whole body shaking. I am almost addicted to coffee. And so I want to lessen my consumption into just a maximum of 2 cups a day. I would also want to have more sleep. I am so insomniac. I cannot sleep early. I want to have a lot of sleep and beauty rest. I should be sleeping before 10pm, and not to sleep at 2 or 3am every single day. That is the main reason I am so iron-deficient and anemic. For the things I want to eliminate, I think I should stop eating a lot of sweets and junk food. This year, I am turning 30 and I want to take care of my body more. I want to start a healthy living. No more fatty, salty, and sweet foods for me! For the joys and ordinary pleasures that I will add to my routine starting today, I guess more hugs and kisses for my boys will complete my day. I will hug and kiss them more the moment I wake up until the time I sleep at night. Their hugs and kisses are my best comforter at all times.

3. What financial goals do I have in 2014?
Everybody dreams of becoming adequately wealthy in their lives. I do, too. I am not asking for so much wealth. All I just wanted is a little bit more of enough. In that way, I can give more and be a blessing to more people. As a registered financial advisor, I want to help educate more people who need financial literacy. It is not a valid reason to say that your earnings are not enough. Everybody can live a better and more fruitful life with just the right attitude, discipline, and thinking about handling finances. For my financial goals, I would like to stay optimistic that my future and my family’s future is becoming more and more promising. In 2014, I would like to save more and invest some more. Less spending means more savings.

4. What will I do to maintain my health?
In 2013, I can say that I became reckless in taking care of my health. Gaining several pounds of weight is one indication that I lost control of myself. Though I started some physical activities, I also ended them so soon. As what I’ve said in the previous section, more physical activities for me starting this year. No more excuses. I should get up and be on my feet at all times. Laziness aside, I should start more exercises and eat more healthy foods. Here’s to a healthier and new ME!

5. Intellectually, how will I improve this year?
I always find learning so much fun. That is why I read a lot of articles that I find beneficial and entertaining, too. This year, more readings, more materials. Also, I want to learn new skills this 2014. I always wanted to learn how to bake. So I guess I can start this year. I also want to enroll in a financial program online and enhance my financial knowledge more. I would also want to continue working for a good employer that I can be a good contributor to. It is because I want to have more experiences in life. If I broaden my horizons more, I can grow more and be better. Honestly, I want to do a lot of things. I always want to. But for some reasons, time is not enough. That holds true for everybody. But anyway, I will just do more as I can with my limited time and resources.

III. DREAM BIG DREAMS

1. Where am I going in the next 10, 15, or 20 years? What will I achieve?
As a believer of Chinese zodiac, my sign, a Capricorn, says that I am an extremely ambitious person. That is so true. That is why when I dream, it is always big, and people will say it is almost impossible. Almost. But still, possible. I will not state here what my BIG dreams are. There are actually a lot in my list. But when asked where will I be 10-20 years from now? I see a happily contented woman having everything she needs, helping more people, and successfully fulfilling her purpose on Earth. What will I achieve by then? Real happiness and contentment in life. I prefer to be generalizing here and keep the details of my dreams to myself, because that would take me endless hours to finish narrating. What’s important is that I see myself in that stature, in the flesh, a solid picture, not just a vivid dream. I will be who I wanted to become.

2. What are my major values and purposes for the next phase of my life?
People always tell me that I can give sound advice and words or wisdom. Credits to my life experiences. Without my past, I will not be as learned as I am today. I may not realize these things if those never happened. And many new-found friends and acquaintances always say that I am an inspiration to them of some sort. By just telling them the story of my life, I was able to touch their lives and made them realize a lot of things. With that remark, the urge of being an inspiration to others grow in me more and more each and every time. I am not a preacher, but I can be a good counselor. And for the next phase of my life, I would like to touch and inspire more lives, for their betterment, too. I would like to help more and more people as much as I can. I don’t intend to have a monument when I die. I would just like to be remembered as someone who is not a saint but is willing to give a helping hand to any extent. I am not a selfish person who will wish all the best only for myself. Because I know that we are all better off when everybody is living a better life.

3. If I could do only ONE BIG PROJECT in my lifetime, what would it be?
With a heart of a philanthropist, one of the things in my DREAM BIG list is to have my own foundation. I may not be that wealthy enough at this point of my life to found my own charitable institution, but I hope to build one when the right time comes. Again, the word HELP is my principle here. I know how good it feels to share your blessings with others. It is achieving the highest form of need in Maslow’s hierarchy: Self-Actualization.

To sum up all my responses in this three-part New Year Preparations, it all boils down to one thing: BE BETTER, DO BETTER. The past year is over and done. The new year has come with a promise of new hope, new beginning, and new life. We will not advance in this future if we will carry all the negativities of the past year nor if we totally forget the lessons the past year taught us. It will always be the best to look back, just a glance of the past, and keep moving forward. As for me, I have never surrendered in any battle that life had given me. I can say that I have experienced the “downest” of the down moments of my life, the saddest of the sad experiences, and the “toughest” of the tough moments of my existence. I never gave up. And I never will. Because I will always hold to my truth that THE BEST IS ALWAYS YET TO COME.

Happy 2014! May we all be blessed with a pure heart and a better life this year. The New Year is a gift from God so may we use it for the betterment of others and for the betterment of ourselves. Cheers!!!