100 Things to Do Before “Getting The Ring”

[Image credit: https://pixabay.com ]

Preparing and writing this post has come with many mixed feelings. Part of me has been so excited to meet women in their pre-marital season and provide fresh ideas on how to love life before the next chapter. Though there is also a part of me that has worried about this post being received the wrong way. In the age of social media, it is very common for people to take serious posts and conversations as subliminal. I thought…“What if someone thinks this is directed toward a certain person?” “What if people get offended?” “What if people miss the whole point and see it as a opportunity to ask me numerous personal questions in relation to the post?”

As I constantly debated, I heard God telling me in a clear voice: “I am instructing you to write this. It doesn’t matter what others say or think”. You’d think that would be all I needed but I still struggled. Though with every moment of struggle, I felt God pushing me toward posting. I see this as an opportunity to minister (informally) to women pre-marriage from totally single to those in a serious dating relationship; encouraging them to display the ultimate love toward themselves and enjoy this season of their lives. This post was inspired by the women I have encountered over the years, especially within the last year or so, who are discouraged because they are unwed. My heart is softened for the women who believe their lives will truly begin once they “get a ring”.

And might I add that I intentionally timed this post so closely to Valentine’s Day. 🙂 Because there is a woman (or group of women out there) who is dreading seeing proposal posts pop up on social media February 14th and 15th. My sincere hope is that this list will provide an array of ideas that will meet those dates with excitement and planning, not self-pity and jealousy.

This post is not a guide for how to get married. It is not a checklist that must be completed pre-marriage. Nor is it to say that married women can no longer enjoy some of the ideas on this list. It is simply various suggestions of encouragement specifically for unmarried women to fully embrace life where they are and to rethink viewing marriage as having “arrived”. I pray that each woman this post is for can embrace the message that God has given me to share. May you be inspired to expand upon this list as the possibilities do not end at 100. If the message is not for you, please pass this list along to a woman you believe can benefit from this information.

With lots of love…

  1. Don’t “wait” solely in anticipation.
  2. Find yourself.
  3. Travel (near and far).
  4. Do something that scares you.
  5. Discover a new hobby.
  6. Start a business.
  7. Start a passion project.
  8. Give back (charity/philanthropy)/Volunteer.
  9. Be a mentor.
  10. Grow your spiritual life.
  11. Get physically fit.
  12. Get emotionally fit.
  13. Advance in your career.
  14. Pay off debt.
  15. Get financially grounded.
  16. Get a passport.
  17. Make a bucket list.
  18. Start checking off your bucket list.
  19. Read marriage and relationship books.
  20. Learn from wise, happily married women.
  21. Find resolve from past relationships (within yourself).
  22. Have fun!
  23. Dance!
  24. Laugh!
  25. Write a book.
  26. Buy yourself flowers.
  27. Write a love letter to yourself.
  28. Pray over and send positive vibes to your future husband.
  29. Make an investment purchase.
  30. Set short term goals.
  31. Set long term goals.
  32. Gain inspiration daily.
  33. Update/play with your style.
  34. Build a supportive network.
  35. Finish something you’ve been putting off.
  36. Maximize on quality time with loved ones.
  37. Appreciate your current partner (if in a relationship).
  38. Appreciate your children (if already have).
  39. Trust God’s timing.
  40. Embrace your pre-marriage season as once in a lifetime.
  41. Don’t obsess over planning your wedding until it’s time.
  42. (Re)decorate your living space.
  43. (Re)decorate your office.
  44. Attend networking and social events.
  45. Pray for and send positive vibes toward someone else’s love life.
  46. Get organized.
  47. Reconcile any broken platonic relationships (i.e. family, friends).
  48. Play a recreational sport.
  49. Join a book club.
  50. Use your talents to teach someone else an activity.
  51. Learn to play an instrument.
  52. Dedicate one weekend per month to do something you enjoy.
  53. Make a list of reasons why you want to get married.
  54. Reflect daily – devotion, journaling, etc.
  55. Forgive yourself for past failures.
  56. Advance your education.
  57. Take a hobby class for fun.
  58. Live in a different city.
  59. Document your waiting period to look back on.
  60. Take lots of pictures – you’ll one day cherish these memories as you create new ones.
  61. Hold yourself as wife material.
  62. Speak encouraging words to a man.
  63. Speak encouraging words to another woman.
  64. Set personal goals post marriage.
  65. Re-evaluate negative relationships.
  66. Contribute toward a cause close to your heart.
  67. Don’t settle.
  68. Listen to accounts of positive, inspirational relationship stories. (Let me know if you need some recommendations. 🙂 )
  69. Talk with a pastor or trusted leader about marriage and relationships.
  70. Be open to when, how and with who it may happen.
  71. Set reasonable standards for the type of mate you desire.
  72. Don’t base your relationship goals off someone else’s social media pictures.
  73. Don’t envy other people’s relationships.
  74. Celebrate when others get engaged and married.
  75. Pray and reflect over any jealousy you may feel.
  76. Forgive – your ex(es), your enemies, etc. – and press forward.
  77. Live!
  78. Have “me” time.
  79. Always steal moments away for peace of mind.
  80. Count your blessings.
  81. Know your value.
  82. Always stay ready.
  83. Celebrate and be grateful as if the ring is already here.
  84. Reflect on what a ring symbolizes for you.
  85. Ask what the ring you give your future spouse will symbolize.
  86. Don’t rush into a permanent disaster for temporary satisfaction.
  87. Ask confidants for honest advice on what you should work on.
  88. Don’t be hard on yourself.
  89. Know that becoming a wife won’t increase your worth – you do that.
  90. Participate in a cultural experience outside of your own.
  91. Listen to music outside of your usual genre.
  92. Stay out of other people’s love lives. (I’d put this one twice if I could. 😉 )
  93. Don’t obsess over an uninterested man. Who’s for you, is for you.
  94. Be pursued.
  95. Don’t entertain men who are already taken.
  96. Ask the question: 20 years from now would I be happy with my today?
  97. Keep a “God Box” or prayer journal.
  98. Ignore the timetables others try to pressure you into.
  99. Give praise for your future husband and marriage as if it has already happened.
  100. Know that you are absolutely enough if you never do get married. You are and will always be amazing!

Throw and Go: The Art of the Dress [Mini Post]

[Photo Credit: Shot by Kelley]

I love dresses! They’re so versatile. From the weekend to workplace week days, I love the idea of throw and go style options. Not to mention they can be a silver lining on those days when you just don’t feel like putting together an outfit. I can think of a few occasions when I’ve received a compliment about my appearance in a dress when little did they know, I hopped out of bed that morning and tossed a dress over my head to avoid any parts of planning an ensemble.

Now this is not to say that I only do dresses on lazy days. But boy do they come in handy!

I got the shirt dress pictured from Target. I love how it’s thin enough to wear in warmer weather but can also be layered for cooler weather. It’s also comfortable enough to navigate office temperatures that go from the need for a space heater to the desire to blast the ac. 😊

What’s your favorite fashion go-to for the office?

[Outfit details: Dress (Target); Necklace (vintage); Leather Jacket (NY&Co.-old); Tights (Target); Boots (Zara) ]

“Do You: Lessons from the Flying Trapeze”

A few weeks ago I took a flying trapeze class. Not only was it the toughest physical workout I’ve completed to date but also, maybe even more so, one of the most challenging mental exercises of my adulthood. Before beginning the class, the instructor greeted each student upon entry and prepped us individually for what to expect. He asked me “Are you able to follow directions?”. I answered “yes” but had I known what I was getting myself into a “maybe” probably would have sufficed. :/ He continued with “This exercise is all about timing. If you follow my direction at exactly the time I call it, you’ll be able to execute”.

Lesson #1: Timing is everything so stay ready for your opportunity.

Boy was he right. For the first  5 tries I hesitated and missed the landings. Upon try #6, I decided that this man probably knew what he was talking about so listening would be wise before I missed yet another try.

Meanwhile, my classmates (mostly other amateurs) seemed to be catching on more quickly. Even if they were a bit hesitant in the beginning, they seemed to land just right at the end. While I was determined not to give up, I did feel a bit discouraged. Even though I was not following his direction as I should have been, the instructor kept encouraging me. At one point he gave me a very valuable tip intended for the exercise yet very valuable to life at large. He said “Don’t worry. Everyone gets it in their own time. For some, the most challenging part is climbing up to the platform. For others, it’s the initial swing. But everybody gets it in their own time. Don’t worry about what level your classmates are at”.

Lesson #2: Do you.

Had I kept worrying about my classmates being ahead of me, I may have been too defeated to even make step one. After the advice of “do you” was embedded in my brain, the exercise became easier and I was finally able to make the land. My classmates, a group of strangers, cheered me on. One classmate even said “You’re getting better each time”. This made me feel better considering I thought I had went from bad to sub par at that point. (*sigh*) But none-the-less, I did it!

And I have a message for those of you reading this post who may be thinking the following: “I could never do that” or “She makes it look easy”. Trust me, I pushed myself way beyond my comfort zone. Not to mention it wasn’t as glamorous as it looks.  My entire body ached for days. I couldn’t lift my arms over my head for a week. Bruises spotted my legs for days after. (Thank God it’s winter!) And I didn’t reach the ultimate goal for “catching” the instructor at the end.

Bonus Lesson: Your comfort zone is unique to you. Keep pushing yourself at your own pace. As long as you’re striving to push beyond it.

In the end…I came, I saw, I conquered and most importantly, I remembered to do ME!

Holiday Style: Party Sparkle

 

(Photo Credit: Shot By Kelley)

So I looked up and found Christmas staring me dead in the eye! (*gasp*) I think with each year that passes December 25th comes sooner and sooner. And once that big date passes, on to the New Year celebrations.

Whether you’re preparing for a fancy family gathering on Christmas day or a night out with friends on New Years Eve, I’ve got your fashion inspo covered. Check out how a simple swap of accessories created 2 different party looks. (Second look pictured below.)

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Let’s Party!!

[Outfit Details: Sweater (Target); Skirt (Target); Black Tights (Target); Polka Dot Tights (Target); Boots (Zara); Ear Muffs (photographer’s own)]

Holiday Style: The Office Party

(Photo credit: Shot By Kelley)

Well in case you haven’t noticed, the holiday season is in full effect! Just look around. You can’t drive down the street without a full display of gigantic red bows, strings of lights and sparkle galore.

Can you guess what comes with all the holiday tinsel? Office parties! I think the holiday season has got to be one of the most fun times of year around the office. Everyone (for the most part) is full of holiday cheer, there’s more food than office supplies lying around and everyone is well balanced due to the multiple extra days people are taking off during the season. It’s great!

So you picked up your red velvet cake ingredients for your potluck contribution. You found the perfect gift for the white elephant gift exchange. Next you need to figure out just what to wear.

My inspiration for the look pictured was business casual with a twist of fun. Something that’s appropriate for the office yet festive enough for the holiday season. I didn’t spend a whole lot. In fact, the majority of my look came from the stylish, pocket friendly Target. (See outfit details below for full deets.)

What I love about this outfit is how the separates work for other outfit possibilities. The festive sweater can be paired with jeans for a more casual look. And even better, the cropped pants can be worn all year around as part of the work wardrobe rotation.

So what are you wearing to the office party? See you there! 🙂

 

{Outfit details: Sweater (Target); Pants (Target); Loafers (Zara) }

Natural Hair In the Workplace with Joetta Little

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[Photo credit: Shot by Kelley]

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Joetta Little, the owner of Hairfood Junkie Beauty Supply in Bellflower, CA.  While Joetta made sure to inform me that she is no “expert” in natural hair, I myself find her to be quite knowledgable. Make that…notably knowledgeable. 🙂 In addition to being a beauty supply owner who assists male and female clients at different points on the haircare spectrum, she is also a naturalist when it comes to her own hair.

I find Joetta’s transition from the corporate world to being an entrepreneur in the beauty industry to be very interesting. Where hair, particularly natural hair, and the workplace intersect can be quite the topic. Considering the rapidly increasing number of African American women sporting natural styles on the daily, curiousity from colleagues of various backgrounds is accompanied.

Note: While this interview is approached from the perspective of the African American woman, it is not limited in that regard. Each gender of various ethnic backgrounds undergoes appearance changes at some, if not many, points in their career. This may come in the form of a haircut, hair color change, new makeup- the list goes on. Though the common outcome is always going to be perception and perhaps even some degree of curiousity amongst colleagues. While it should not matter how others perceive us, the fact remains- they are looking. And quite naturally, questions will arise.

9toFlyGirl: Please tell me about your professional background.

Joetta: I have a background in marketing and advertising. I was the Marketing Director for an educational brand. For about 10 years I worked at a college which was a very corporate career path. Before that I worked for other agencies dealing with media placement and buying.

9TFG: What are your thoughts about natural hairstyles, specifically for African American women, in the workplace?

Joetta: It depends on if you’re in the process of getting an entry level job or if you’re in a more seasoned position. It also depends on the type of job. You have to understand the culture of the environment you’re entering. Understand the department you’re working in also. For example, marketing is a more creative environment.

It is good to wear you natural hair. Though I wouldn’t recommend interviewing in braids or colored hair. Always make sure you’re polished, manicured and neat.

9TFG: What was your experience like wearing a natural hairstyle in a corporate job?

Joetta: I had been employed for quite some time so that helped. Sometimes you just have to have conversations with your co-workers like “One day my hair may be short, the next day it may be long”.

Be open to the questions they may have. Don’t be offended. Other cultures may not know. This is why it’s important to know your audience.

9TFG: Let’s talk about your new career path as a beauty supply owner. How do you plan to support women in similar positions through your new business venture? What advice would you give to the woman who wants to wear her hair natural but is reluctant about how she thinks she will be perceived in the workplace?

Joetta: It’s a choice. People know where they stand with their jobs. They have to know the culture and what types of things would jeopardize them. Be observant first. Make small changes before making a big change. Or if you do decide to just go for it – be confident!

9TFG: I repeatedly hear African American women express frustration regarding the comments they get about their hair. Particularly from those who may be less familiar with certain natural styles. What is your feedback on this topic?

Joetta: Usually people are just curious. Whether you allow people to touch or feel your hair is a personal space thing. It’s up to each person. I’m okay with it but some people feel different because some people see their hair as an extension of their body. It’s all about how you handle it.

9TFG: It’s interesting to hear your take on this. I often hear the opposite – that many women take offense. Often quickly. I can understand why but it’s never been a big issue for me. I’ve gotten comments and questions myself but I’ve never been offended. In my experiences, it’s come off more as curiousity from their end.

Joetta: Right. Though you never know, those women could have had a bad experience.

9TFG: True.

9TFG: Switching gears a bit, what made you go into the beauty industry?

Joetta: For freedom. I worked in a corporate environment for quite some time. When you go up the ladder, you can only get so far. Also, in a corporate environment it all comes down to money. Decisions are made for money. I felt like the decisions weren’t genuine. I speak up when I feel things aren’t right. It got to a point where I was like “this is just unbelievable!”. People in the workplace (often) don’t like to speak up because they’re afraid to lose their job.

9TFG: Right.

Joetta: [As a business owner] I’m in control of my own destiny. I have no fear because no one else can control my decisions.

I’ve always loved the beauty industry. I asked myself what I’d do for free and this was it.

9TFG: Can you share more information about your beauty supply?

Joetta: I am located at 9251 Alondra Blvd. #C Bellflower, CA 90706 . I can be followed on Facebook and Instagram under the user name “hairfoodjunkie”.

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If you have any comments or questions for Joetta, please feel free to post below. Also make sure to stop by her social media pages to check out her latest posts on everything haircare and beauty. And last but certainly not least, head over to Hairfood Junkie Beauty Supply to stock up on your favorite products!

Pearls of Wisdom from “I Almost Forgot About You”

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Lately I’ve been reading all non-fiction books. Nothing intentional. I just have been finding more attention-grabbing titles and topics in that area. But I recently found the need to escape in a good fictional story line for a change. Before a flight a few months back I stopped in one of the airport shops for a snack and magazine in preparation for being stuck on the plane for 4 hours. (The sacrifices of traveling. Sigh.) I looked up on the shelf to find a book staring back at me. “Terry McMillan has a new book?!”…I thought in awe to myself. “Well this has to be good!”. I read the story summary and was sold!

I don’t want to give away too much of the book. Instead of sharing too many details of the story line, I’ll share 5 pearls of wisdom (some more so reminders) that I gained from the book. Particularly when it comes to taking leaps of faith and making key life decisions.

1) Have patience in pursuing your dreams.

If you’re like me, you may dream in full color then go into hyper-planning mode, envisioning your dreams coming to reality like…tomorrow. Just the other day I planned a full on vacation to the UK equipped with a business plan that would fund the whole trip. Mind you in my excitement I had envisioned this all happening within a matter of a few months. Then I slowed myself down with a gentle reminder that these things don’t happen overnight.

Likewise the main character in “I Almost Forgot About You”, Georgia, is also planning a trip and has some business plans of her own in mind. Though along the course of the story, she finds herself having to take care of a few matters close to home before preparing for her trek. What she thought would take months took years to fulfill with many hiccups along the way.

2) It’s never too late to live the life you want.

Now I know this sounds like the ultimate cliché but it’s true. This novel proves it! Georgia, a middle aged woman, finds herself ready to embark on a career change, find love and explore new destinations. Without telling the story, I”ll just say that by the end of the book she has a pretty high success rate at achieving these goals. Though her success was based on her strategy. Planning was everything for Georgia. Though many of her plans changed, fell through or yielded different results than anticipated, her planning provided a sense of direction and purpose along the way.

3) You have to confront the past to live a clear future.

I know, something many of us don’t want to hear. But it’s true. You can’t vacuum a carpet full of stains. Clean the stains up first, then vacuum. (My little metaphor for the big picture. 🙂 ) Georgia thought the past was in the past. Until a bit of shocking news woke her up to the fact that she had some unresolved issues to address. And as she worked through those issues she found that there were some things…and key people…she forgot about. Hence the book title. 😉

4) Know what you’re willing to sacrifice for your dreams.

Despite the fact that Georgia was an established woman that had the means and beyond to achieve her goals, there were still sacrifices that she had to make. For instance (without giving away too much) she considers a move to a new city at one point in the story. While it’s an exilerating thought initially, she begins to reflect on the children, grandchildren and beloved home she’d be leaving behind by moving forward.

5) Enjoy the present.

On the subject of beloved family and a home, Georgia reminded me that we must enjoy the present while chasing our dreams. It’s easy to get caught up in the splendor of personal, career and travel goals. But what about right now? The family we need to spend more time with, friends we should appreciate more or the job we need to be grateful for because it is funding what we need to prepare for the future.

 

Ready to go out and get the book now?! Please let me know what you think if you decide to give it a read!

Pre-Fall Lookbook

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[Photo and Video Credit: ceedotcee]

My second You Tube video is a Pre-Fall Look Book featuring some summer to fall transitional pieces. Please let me know if you enjoy this lookbook. If so, I will feature more on the channel.

And please don’t forget to subscribe for new video alerts! 🙂 You Tube: 9toflygirl

 

5 Tips On How To Change Career Fields

 

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[Photo and Video Credit: ceedotcee]

I’m now on You Tube! Please check out my channel: 9toflygirl.

In this video post I share ideas on how you can change career fields without necessarily having to go back to school.

Returning Back to Work After Childbirth: To Be or Not To Be? with Amena Mebane

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[Photo credit: Tristan Quigley Photography]

Through the years I have witnessed many little ones make their debuts on this earth. It’s always exciting to go to a friend’s baby shower or visit a loved one to see their new bundle of joy. I can imagine being a new mother is a very exciting time in life. Though the big question often follows: “When are you returning to work?”. (At least for those who were actively employed prior to giving birth. ) And if that isn’t enough, an even bigger question may follow: “ARE you returning to work?’.

I’m sure these can be daunting yet relevant questions. Questions that one’s career, family and newest little one depend on answers to. At this point in my life I have not had to answer these questions – someday I will. For now, I thought I would pick the brain of someone who has been there, done that and has an inspirational story to share regarding the results of her decision.

In this interview I am speaking with my friend and sorority sister, Amena Mebane, about her experience with making key career decisions after giving birth to her first child. During our interview period she was expecting her second child who has since been born and is now making waves with the cutest pictures alongside his proud big sister. 🙂

I hope you enjoy hearring Amena’s story as much as I did.
9toFlyGirl: Can you tell me about your professional background?
Amena: I went to UC Berkeley as an undergrad and completed my Bachelors of Arts degree in American Studies, Honors. My focus was race, law and social movements. Right after graduating in 2007, I attended Univ of WA law school where I received my JD. During law school I worked at a law firm as a summer associate and I also worked for the King County Prosecutor’s office. I ultimately decided to start my career at the Prosecutor’s Office after graduation because I wanted the trial experience. I worked there for about 5 years before I decided not to return to work.

9TFG: What moment did you decide that you would not return to work?

Amena: My husband and I were expecting our first child in April 2014. Initially, when I became pregnant I was planning to take some time off when the baby came but I was still contemplating returning to work after my leave was over. Shortly before I took my leave, I had a domestic violence trial. I was very pregnant, maybe 39 weeks by the time the trial was over. It was incredibly stressful and I remember having high blood pressure readings, swollen feet, and not sleeping or eating properly. Whenever I was in trial, I usually would only get about 3-4 hours of sleep because of the amount of preparation it required. I took off shortly after the trial was over and I remember walking out the office my last day and thinking to myself “I’m never coming back.”

9TFG: What factors influenced the decision?

Amena: Even though I said to myself “I’m never coming back” as I walked out of the building, I didn’t make the decision right away. I wanted to make the decision after I had some time to be a mommy and when my head was clear. What if I didn’t like staying at home? What about embracing my independence? I have so much more to contribute to society than wifely and mommy duties, right? I’m pretty good at this trail stuff, I shouldn’t just let my talents go to waste, should I? What about having some adult interaction? I’m sure I’ll need a break from being a full time mom, right? These were all the questions flowing through my mind. I needed time to reflect before I made a decision about returning or not.
I took my entire 18 week leave and then ended up extending it for a year. Honestly, my ambitions and goals changed a lot after I became a wife and mother. I really enjoyed my time off and I loved being a mom and also having more time to support my husband and his work. My husband plays in the NFL and as a busy trial attorney, I rarely had the opportunity to go to my husband’s away games and take the time to enjoy the NFL experience because I was so busy with my own work. NFL careers are short compared to other careers, so it was really awesome to take time off to enjoy the games and travel with my daughter to different states to see daddy play. He will only be doing this a few more years and I didn’t want to look back and say I missed out on that experience. I really feel blessed to have the opportunity to focus on family life as I know a lot of families cannot live off of one income.

Now, we have two kids and I’m still not practicing law. But I do other things that keep me busy. We started a small online business that I manage and I also taught trial advocacy at UW Law once a week which was so fun but not too overwhelming. It still gave me an opportunity to be involved without being over worked and exhausted.
9TFG: Did you seek out any particular resources for the transition?

Amena: Looking back, I wish I had sought out more resources just to aid me in the transition. But I did speak with a number of women (both those that did return to work and a few that did not). That was incredibly helpful because I was able to get feedback from both sides of the spectrum.

9TFG: What advice would you have for a mother questioning whether or not to return to work?

Amena: I would say just remember whatever decision you make, it does not have to be a permanent decision. I like to think of my life in “seasons.” That helps my brain process change easier. For me, this is the season of being a new mom. I’m enjoying it while it is here and embracing it. I don’t think about my old job much or even miss it because I’m fully engaged in my mommy/wife/family season right now. That may not always be the case. There may come a time when I want to get back in the courtroom, when changing dirty diapers and singing the Wheels on the Bus to my toddler 100 times a day won’t be fulfilling. And that is okay. If and when that time comes, just embrace it.

Embrace the change and the need to transition into a new “season.” I think if we look at it that way, it takes some of the pressure off making the decision to return to work or not. As women, we should support each other’s decision. Oftentimes the stay at home moms criticize the working moms and vice versa. For those that decide to return to work, don’t worry about missing out on key moments in your child’s life. Your children will know you and love you and you will be an excellent mom! For women who decide to stay home, if you start feeling like you want more out of life, you can always return to the workplace and still be a great mom.

Being a mother is probably the hardest job I’ve ever had but it is by far the most fulfilling. I’m loving this season of my life right now!