Saturday, May 11, 2013

"Willful" wonders never cease

I am 24 again. I feel like I felt when I was 24. This was what 24 felt like.

Three years ago, my life was all about the see-saw. Either extremely up and "free" of food, or subversively down and in the ping-pong game of binging and exercising/restricting.

It's been over a month since I over ate like I did this afternoon/evening. With a sense of panic, of rising anxiety even as I ate more and more food. Until my senses and mind and soul and heart were sufficiently numbed.

This will never change; I am a compulsive over-eater. I have an addiction with food. I 'use' food like others use drugs, alcohol, sex. I have even used those as ways to lesson the discomfort of life, but it always comes back to food. Sugar, salted crunchy foods, breads...these are my beer, wine, booze; my crack, opiates, weed.

This I accept. So afterwards, I don't fight it. I write about it. I call my sponsor and leave a message. I make some calls to friends, BUT not to OA friends. This is a big difference. This is me trying to be normal, trying to appear normal to myself.

Must. Control. Something. Laundry...laundry to fold! YES. Then, a walk. Short, fresh. Then, my wake my husband up from his nap. Control his attention. We are moving in a month, packing lists to make, jewelry boxes to go through, closets to...okay. Enough is enough. Take a couple deep breaths. Shake the shoulders, shake the head, let the shimmy go all the way down through your pelvis and out through your toes.

Go to bed.

[p.s. If anyone is out there reading this, I would love to hear from you. Your reactions, your experience. Feel free to share comments below, or email me @]

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

To battle

"They" don't prepare "you" for life. You go from one grade to the next, climbing the ladder of education. Then you go to another form of school, be it a university or a technical college. Then you get a job. Hopefully. Then...what? Life is so much more complicated than that. Where is the manual? How do we learn to life through each day? I guess we each compile our own set of rules, based on our experience and what we have been taught by our elders, peers and media. Each person walking around in their own stew of reality.

Mine is darker tonight. My reality right now is tainted with the sour flavor of resentment that lingers after the decadence of denial, thick with creamy ignorance. I deny that I have to plan for tomorrow. I deny even that there is a tomorrow and I have a place in it. I deny that there is anything else than this space and time right now, where I am going to stuff myself with food to ensure that myself in this time and space will not travel anywhere else but here. I deliberately entrap myself with compulsive eating, thinking myself so cunning, wrapping myself in a cocoon of food, so that time bends around me, and I exist outside of the stream of life.

If I exist outside, I don't have to take part. If I don't have to take part, I have no duties, no responsibility. Without these there is no effort. An absence of effort leaves no chance for failure.  And no chance of mistakes means no growth...however, my pride remains intact, and the dark worm eating away at my soul feeds on the fear that keeps me from participating; in isolation.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bubbles rising

What to write, what to write. Need to write something, there is something rising inside of me, both ferocious and giddy, like champagne bubbles after a bottle is shaken. Inside me, something is racing to the surface and I feel both alarm and excitement. Could this be, the return of "me"? The return of eager anticipation and determined endeavor? Wow, it's been a long time since these feelings have come around...

Almost two weeks since I started taking anti-depressant medication and I feel human again. I feel competent enough to face the challenges in front of and ahead of me. I know where to reach out for help, and I know that I can reach inside too. I have enough experience in student teaching now to help me through these last 25 and a half (school) days. There is hope. I see that light at the end of the forest path in my previous meditation and it is pulsing with a furious energy, beckoning me towards it, cajoling me to move past "one foot in front of the other" and, with a deep breath of courage, break into a trot. Or at least a steady, brisk walk. It is there. I am so close.

There are a few hurdles yet to surmount. Two portfolios, one significantly larger than the other, and three weeks of "full time" takeover of running the classroom. Its happening though. Here. Now. And I am so immersed in it, it is a miracle to not over eat right now. There have been instances of compulsion, such as the four protein bar marathon in 5 minutes hidden in the bedroom at my in-laws. And the two full dinner night, where I had both a mexican feast and a hearty BBQ plate. Yet this is in between days ...DAYS... of continuous, intuitive, natural eating.

My sponsor reminds me that medication is a temporary relief and "not a spiritual solution!" This is true. But God damn, I am so grateful for what I am experiencing right now and SO grateful to have access to medical care that can provide me with supportive treatment. Wow. Kind of incredible how appreciative and in awe I feel of the help available to me, in this moment.

Do you have support? Do you have access to care? What is stopping you from researching your options, from reaching out? It took me a long time to reach out, and when I did, a while again to wade through the declinations of my insurance.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Meditation exercises

A couple days ago, I listened to about ten minutes of the intro session of a webinar class about finding your "truth" and awakening to your life's purpose:

"Imagine a parallel life in a parallel universe and yourself there..." the speaker cooed. It's about "repatterning your brain, mind, psych a kind of happiness...beyond imagination...creating new patterns in the brain...creating new possibilities in the real existential world...get off the same old same old and the narrow band of consciousness you now inhabit. You put your dreams on hold for so long that you get bored/disgusted/frustrated with yourself...but its never too late! Put yourself in a state of yearning, as in 'somewhere over the rainbow'...longing...grow your capacities for being..."

It was interesting. It also related to other pieces of information and wisdom floating around lately, such as 'you are what you think' and 'what you think about, expands'.

Yesterday felt fresh. Or was it Saturday? Change is most definitely upon me. My whole being feels different. I find myself at the cross-roads of several forces. Medication, connection through program (OA), and counseling. And also, the efforts of my husband to change and face his own demons. We live in a co-dependent microcosm where we are both so wrapped up in each other's lives.

I notice as I gain a bit of freedom from compulsive eating, my need to control spreads out from food and exercise. Mainly, to my husband, because he is the closest thing in reach of my voice. I find myself getting pettily annoyed at situations and circumstances that I can normally let go of. Dirty counters. Untidiness. Is this how I am without food? Needing more order in my environment? Or am I simply transferring my need to control over to another issue.

This morning, he went to a mediation group for veterans. Quietly and calmly, he told me about it when I got home from work. "The topic was acceptance; I know you know about that," he said, nodding his head towards me. [Acceptance is the key to 12 step programs...well, along with surrender and willingness] "Tell me anyway" I replied.

He related the meditation practice they went through. Sitting with your back against a chair, try to meditate on the sensation of the chair against your back until the physical feeling disappears. What happens? You can't do it. Or, it becomes increasingly difficult. For me, the chair became more pronounced, and I experienced mental and physical discomfort trying to think and feel anything else; pretty dresses, the feeling of my toes in the carpet, sex. Nothing worked. The second part is to try again, but allow yourself to meditate only on the sensation of your back against the chair. And see what happens. For me? My back and the chair became one, and I couldn't tell where one ended and the other began.

The more you try and shut out a feeling or situation, the more pronounced it becomes, even uncomfortable. However, allow the feeling or situation to be present in your mind, accept it, and its resolution will be more natural, after a space of time.

Another metaphor: you are having a family reunion. There is one aunt, Aunt Ida, who you can't STAND. She belittles you, causes discord, eats all the food, and drinks too much. The gathering is underway. She knocks at the door. You have two options. Do you lock the door and grip the handle and hold it tight against what you imagine to be the headache on the other side? Imagine actually doing this. She would probably bang and scream and kick to be let in. The other family members would be uncomfortable and drift into corners or leave. The party would be over. The second choice? Let her in. Welcome her politely, and let her run her move through the house unobstructed, running her course. Accept she is a part of your family, that you can't do anything about it. Fighting the truth will only make things worse. The sooner she gets in and makes her scene, the sooner she will leave. Delay it, and you only delay what is inevitable.

When an emotion or sense of pain/agitation/anxiety rises, let it come. Allow it to work its way through your body. Accept it, and it will pass. Fight it, and it will become harder and harder to resist, until it is so uncomfortable and in your face, you have to deal with it, and by then, its a shit storm of an issue/problem.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Meditation - online guided mantras and music

This is cool! I would recommend it. Just listened to the one for today, "Protection" and fell into sort of a relaxed trance state, sitting on the couch with my cup of coffee, closing my eyes and letting the pretty music sooth my grumpiness and fill me instead with a soft energy...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Prozac and Tapping

Deep breaths...deeeep breaths...

Thank the mighty calendar that it is Friday. Oh Friday, I haven't felt this way about you since high school. After that, college days became nights and nights became full of booze, and the time of day of the week only mattered for reasons of traffic and classes. Even after a stint in Americorps working a regular 9-5, the weekends were just a "place" to pass the time. And for the past year and a half of my certification program for teaching, the weekdays and weekend sort of melded together because of the amount of homework to be completed. Now, the weekend is the gasp of breath I take in between swimming lengths underwater as I attempt to wade through the weeds of student teaching.

This week: prozac and tapping. Tuesday night was hell, because of the double observation plus filming I had on Wednesday. I also had a doctor's appointment where I was prescribed anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications.  I felt conflicting emotions leaving the pharmacy with the clicky-clack of the pills shaking in their clear orange tubes. I felt a deep sigh of relief that this may provide just the same as that breath. But also skepticism, as always, of this sort of thing. Skepticism as to, "do I really need this?" and "will this actually do anything for me...will this work or just put strange chemicals in my body?".

It's interesting (maybe another word would be more appropriate here), how after 10 years of struggling with this eating disorder and the fear and anxiety and psychological issues that go along with it, something in me (the disease most likely) puts a seed of doubt in my mind when it comes to any sort of help outside my own mind. I have seen enough hard proof from counseling sessions, and felt the effects of a good solid talk and meditative search, to weed out the distrustful thoughts that sprout up around the benefits of paying someone to sit and chat with me. Therefore, I feel mostly comfortable with the new lady I am seeing (covered my by insurance, whew) and even cooler - she works through Tapping! A really cool technique. I've dabbled in it since discovering it on the web a little less than a year ago. Check it out:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Tears today. Twice. Both times in my car. I seem to cry there a lot now. Full on, knees to chest, head bowed, terrified tears of pain and confusion. 

Fear leads to anxiety. Through my years, to cope, I would numb out by turning to denial (compulsive eating) or apathy or conversely try to control the situation/my environment with perfection (restricting food or purging after binging with exercise). Denial, apathy and control. These have been my tools.

So much crying now!

Program feels like a ‘detox’ right now. First, the toxins are released in your blood stream. My bottled emotions and fears are now coursing through my veins. I feel like crap. Full of anger and sadness, negativity, with a short fuse. I am hurt at the loss of my ‘best friend’ (compulsive eating and purging) which was also my answer to everything, my way of understanding and relating to the world around me. I am lost now that I realize my whole reality is false.

Progress? I asked for help today. Perfectionism and pride kept me from asking for help in the past. Being told I was the best and perfect growing up inflated my little ego which held the false assumption that I could do anything on my own. I really can't do anything on my own right now. That's how I feel. Complete opposite end of the spectrum. DEflated. Incapable. Small. Helpless. Oh God, that food is calling to me, a sweet siren song of "blissful" extremely temporary relief. The satisfying crunch of a tortilla chip that could be akin to the satisfaction of kicking your mortal enemy in the face and hearing their bones crunch. Yes, this is where I am right now. Craving violence. Craving a release of energy. How the fuck did I ever come to this place where I decided that gnashing my teeth together was the solution?? The solution to everything?? BRAGLLLEEEFARRRFFFIIDDDGGICKLE...I imagine myself a giant viking like man in a bear cloak with thunder crashing and lighting bolting in the background...not the sexiest war cry, but it's how I feel. Silly. Stupid. Angry. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Phone call, poi and protein bars...

The roller-coaster of one single day...

Woke up to BRIGHT light, after a strange dream...felt a bit like I was still in a place of reverie when I opened my eyes. The bedroom was so lit by the rising sun. If only that sun would drench our ever shaded little patio area, instead of the bedroom at 6 am. Had to wake up an hour later, so I tossed a pillow over my head and tried to doze. More strange half-sleeping dreams chased me groggily out of bed.

Put on a "tough-girl" mask on my heart as I got dressed. Not caring seems to help me get through the day. Seemed like it was a successful solution, until my cooperating teacher pulled me aside as school ended, shook his head and told me I needed to plan better. "They ate you alive today". "I'm thinking about going back to nannying," I retorted, with a sideways glance, half shrug, and cross between a snort and sigh. Bubbles of anger begin to rise to the surface.

They continue through grocery shopping, the most haphazard one in a long time. I had a list, but also tossed things in the cart with abandon. Spent over the limit of what I had hoped the till would total. Pulling into the driveway, I slid up the windows, turned up the electronic music station loud, pulled my knees to my chest and let the sunshine wash over me until my cheeks were hot. It was semi-calming. Passively aggressive  I put away all the groceries while my husband slept on the couch, through the cupboard banging and paper bag crumpling. Then, I made some phone calls. I paced in the neighbors patch of cement, drenched in afternoon sunlight (its always sunny over there; though abandoned too - the fairy house in the small garden area is choked with weeds and the curtains are drawn behind a set of venetian blinds missing ivory pieces like a 1st grader's smile). This helped dull the throbbing in my chest, head and heart. Then, I put on my man's tee-shirt, picked up my poi, set up my laptop and spun for about 10-15 minutes. This also helped. But wasn't good enough.

The next step was a meeting. I turned on an episode of Once Upon a Time instead and then had a beer and scarfed down some pasta. And more. And other things. Ending with three "protein bars" (glorified candy bars). The last one was disgusting, but I was in the "oh, well, its in my hand and I might as well finish it" phase.

Attempting to calm my burbling stomach with hot water now. And get work done for tomorrow. Ha.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

God, oh God, where art thou?

There is no where to run.
There is no escape.
Eventually life catches up with you.
And you realize how little and small you are.
And how much you have to learn,
About yourself,
About those people you knew judged
About life's rules and terms.
I don't want to.
I don't want to hurt.
I don't want to cry anymore.
I don't want to be face to face with my character defects,
every day.
And feelings! Oh boy.
Don't get me started.
Feelings suck.

That's how I feel right now. Pouty. Cynical.

Sighing at this inevitable state I'm in, in order to reach a more compassionate and joyful state. I have to trek through the mire that is the shit I caked on myself throughout my life.

By hiding, procrastination, pretending.

I don't want to be grown up. But I can't remain in Never-never land anymore. They kicked me out a couple weeks ago. I'm crying and clawing at the exit door.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I forgot how much I adore books

Time is a luxury, and being of the no-income bracket, I spent the past seven days of vacation sprawled out, curled up, indoors, outdoors with books. BOOKS! What magical creatures that can set your mind to spinning and take your brain and heart and - if you're lucky - spirit places that you couldn't fathom on your own. A week of reading has reminded me, I do have a brain! I can think! Deep thoughts! It's been a while...

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran [2011], is one such paperback I am currently devouring. I'm about half way through, and it's like no book I have ever read. I've never really been much into autobiographies, but I realize now it's because I have never read them! This book will shock you, perhaps bore you at parts, have you cringing, and make you burst out loud in  barks of laughter. I highly recommend it.

The last chapter I just finished was about Fat. With a capital F. With unapologetic flair, Moran takes us through her experience of growing up female, piecemeal. This chapter was dedicated to her experience of fatness as a teenager. She finishes the section with a brilliant essay on what being Fat means and exposes the ridiculousness of the perception of compulsive overeating being farcical and absurd compared to that of other addictions or compulsive behaviors (drugs, alcohol, sex). Why do people flagrantly expose, and even boast, of their misdeeds with narcotics and booze and f***ing ("Wow, I got SMASHED last night and woke up with a stranger, naked) but furtively hide any evidence or trace of excessive consumption of food? If we talked about our food behaviors,

"Then people would be able to address your dysfunction as openly as they do all the others. They could reply, 'Whoa, dude. Maybe you should calm it down on the high GI-load carbs for a bit, my friend  You have gone a bit bongo-mondo. I am the same. I did a three-hour session on the microwave lasagna last night. Perhaps we should go out to the country for abit. Get our heads together. Clean up our act." (p.113)

Disordered eating for me is about secrecy and isolation, from my own consciousness and others. However, the more I can push at the the precarious pedestal that is my pride, by sharing my experience and admitting my actions, the closer it will be to tumbling to the ground in pieces. And that's what I need. My pride to be blown to bits. So I can regain a sense of humility in my fallibility as a human. So I can regain the knowledge and wisdom that I NEED other people, to connect with, to help me, to offer help to them.

About a week ago, I wrote this [April 15th]

FREEDOM. Spring Break! (from student teaching) Today is dedicated to doing nothing, with a little bit of necessity and obligation sprinkled in. As a garnish.

Lately: I had a week of abstinence from last Sunday to the Saturday of two days ago. That end-of-clean-eating-binge sparked the morning of the 13th and picked up fuel throughout the course of the day, culminating in a fireball at my parent's house - the place where I started this blog, and a space that continues to haunt me, as far as eating goes.

It began with not measuring out my breakfast food. Something I do to be reasonable. And I have done it long enough to know how much is just right for my body. Then, I had a second bowl. Afterwards, although I appreciate my home group gathering, my face was grumpy and feet were dragging to the OA meeting. Deep and light-hearted insight and connections with fellows helped to pull me out of the slump. For the duration of the event anyway. Drove home to a lunch that was scattered, prolonged, excessive. My chews matched the speed of the clicking of the remote. Left to meet my mother and drive south an hour and a half to a "typical get fat american restaurant" as she unapologetically labeled it. My extended family from Canada was staying at Great Wolf Lodge for one of the kid's birthday celebrations and wanted to eat at Red Lobster, for the seafood and the 2-for-1 online coupons they brought with them. Several hours later my mum and I left to return to the house I grew up in. Just us, as my brother and sister were staying with the rest of the family and my step-father was out of town.

We arrived, my phone was dead, I didn't plug it in. STRIKE 1. I needed to talk to someone immediately upon entering the premises of potential over-eating doom. "Let's watch Netflix" she suggested. I was tired. I did not want to watch Netflix. "Okay" I said cheerily. And got popcorn (a big no-no) and salted nuts (an even bigger NO-NO). STRIKE 2. "I'm going to bed," she announced after two episodes of Psych. "I'm going to watch one more episode", said I, attempting nonchalance while my eyes shifted and twitched nervously. "Will you be okay with food tonight?" she asked concernedly? "Oh yes, I'll be okay." Lie. STRIKE 3, light it up and watch the day and night and next day burn up in the farts of over consumption of carbohydrates.

Thank the Earth Goddess for a fresh, cold, bright Spring morning upon awakening. And the luscious trails behind my parents' house that I walked around with the puppy while my mum raked and clipped and cleared. Spinach is a cure all, and a bowl full with balsamic and strawberries helped me break the curse of the day-after-binge-restriction that always perpetuates the cycle.  Then, that afternoon, the blessing of a massage gift certificate left me walking out of a deep tissue experience feeling like a new person into a brand new day. Though later, I would feel like I had been hit by a truck, and miss an evening meeting (guiltily pleased). Think the release of tension released other toxins or energies in my body and feel a little bit sick today. Could also be the poor nutritional choices and poor sleep quality from Saturday night.

Friday, April 19, 2013

[p.s. blogger is being all weird, and if I don't use a color behind the bottom portion of this post it looks like a bottle of white-out was spilled on the text]

Yesterday, I lived a vision. Felt a paradigm shift. I was a rock - a grey, dull, cold stone in the empty black cavern of my abdomen. Through visualization, I metamorphosed into a dancing multicolor energy field in an expansive, bright golden-yellow meadow under the dome of a deep, bright blue sky.

This is the letter I wrote to the woman I think of as my "spirit guide" and refer to as "counselor lady":


Thank you for the clarity that yesterday brought. I woke up today and felt a feeling of being "up to the challenge" instead of "drudging through". Already seeds of excitement, hope and vision for the future are pushing out the cynicism. It was really powerful to acknowledge my truth and not be afraid of it. And to let it take me where I am supposed to go, on whatever path that will be. The experience of connecting with a future version of myself - one that was confident, full of energy and even a bit mischievous - (things I haven't felt in a long while) was inspiring. It reminded me of what I have felt like before, and that I can feel that way again. 


This is what I felt like beforehand, going into the session:

I have felt the joy and sense of freedom that can come from abstinence. But in this time, whatever I have been trying to shove down with food is surfacing and I realize I need help. The cycle of compulsive eating and exercising was my purpose in life. It demanded all my attention, and everything else was relative to it. It was a  way of managing anxiety and fears of the futility of life. 

Now, I feel bouts of anger followed by sadness and then periods of grey. There is this sensation that a ceiling is in my head, and continually pressing down on my brain. I am tired all the time. I feel disconnected from people and events around me: like I am seeing them, but not a part of them. It has been suggested that I ask about anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications. I feel like I am wearing cynical tinted glasses that show me my previous dreams and aspirations as fantasies. Fantasies that are unrealistic and unattainable. My perspective of and attitude towards my current situation is choking my spirit and my heart. 

With food...for the first time in my life, I feel disinterested in it. It's not working. Its not helping me cope. Where do I go from here? what do I do? OA is interesting and giving service pulls me out of isolation and into the "stream of life". I feel a force that is pushing me to reach out to everything and anything that can help. It is both a Need and a Want (!) to soak up support. 

Change is happening/has happened. The food I put into my body is "cleaner". I try to eat more natural and attempt intuitive eating, listening to what my body wants. Spinach for breakfast? Okay, why, that was delicious! Also with exercise, listening to the intelligence of my cells instead of the impetus of my ego. The loose structure of "3 meals, 2 snacks if needed" has proven flexible enough but also gives me some boundaries to stay within. This is progress not perfection. Distraction (from eating) and extension (of eating a meal) are common occurrences. But replacing breads and sugars with whole fruits and vegetables...I really have to stop and check in and realize how much more "together" my body feels, even if other changes are taking place in my mind and spirit. When I do overeat, eating more nuts, plain yogurt and fruit does not destroy my body like bread products did. There is less recovery time. Also, over time, with practice, letting go has become a viable choice that I can turn to. Instead of over exercising. Instead of pounding myself into the dirt. Instead of cleaning the whole house like a mad woman. I write about it. Then go to bed. Miracle of miracles. Just writing this out is filling me with a sense of awe at where I am and where I have come from. I would recommend it. Sit down and write with the intention of identifying where you are now, and from where you have come. Focus on the changes. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A letter to my sponsor

I've been lying. By omission. Not telling the whole story, keeping parts of the picture covered. Had to burst the bubble of guilt sloshing around inside me. I wrote my sponsor a letter, trying to type out the state of thoughts and feelings I find myself at:

 Hi Lady, Sending an email first, before calling (tomorrow now, its getting late tonight) because its easier to organize my thoughts through typing than talking. I hope you are doing okay, saw your post in the OA facebook group the other day.
 The fear I harbour about being 'one who is incapable of being honest and therefore not able to move forward with the program' has manifested in an idea that the reason I cannot move forward is because I am not ready. I don't know if I will ever be ready. "The grass is always greener" seems to be my constant mantra through my life. I whine that my abstinence is too restrictive then all hell breaks loose when I can eat cereal again. Binged today and yesterday, on grains and sugar. Then exercised after. Not premeditated. But a way for me to feel a measure of stability after chaos. I have A and want B, then cry out for the former when the latter is in my lap.
 I think this contrary nature is part of my disease. I want to eat my cake and have it too. But that's not how life works. And I can't seem to accept that, and let my willful ego go. So I'm putting it out there that I don't want to be wasting your valuable time; valuable especially because another sponsee could take my place who is actually ready to do all that is needed to move forward. I guess I'm just not there yet, because I feel like if I was, it would have happened by now. Going to sleep in a bit, will write on it, pray on it, dream on it and give you a shout to talk about it.
 Namaste, *Me*

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Happiness Project

I'm reading a book. It's called, "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. So far, I feel like I am reading the work of my future self, that is how much I exactly relate to what Ms. Rubin is saying, sharing, remarking upon. It's a little bit scary. But also exciting. I am engrossed in a book like I haven't been in a long while. My book tastes are changing. I still enjoy the escape of fantasy, science fiction and fiction in general. But since program, since Overeaters, rather, since my rather recent participation in the program...I have found myself wanting - no, craving! - immersion in the magic that is possible in Real Life. I am beginning to taste the sweet and salty of my feelings, instead of the food. Life is no where near perfect, but it's darn well pretty far from where I was when I wrote last. So, by that account, from that standpoint, maybe where I am now is perfection? Humans tend to think we will be slightly happier in the future, than our current state. This is the future. And I am happier :) The challenge (one of them) for March in THP [The Happiness Project], is to take on a challenge [ha]. So, here I am, coming back to this space, this place of spilling my heart out. And it makes me realize, I guess I always did have a heart, to spill. And that I use way too many commas in my writing. Sheesh.