Believe this

I was reading something this morning, and as usual there was a portion of the text which had me thinking about something different, and so off I went to my dear friend Google, and ended up at the picture above.

Of late, difficult situations seem to abound – and not just for me!
There are so many things going wrong and so many tragedies around here, and not just through losing people to Covid.

People are changing, as things are changing. Their hearts and attitudes are changing – and not always for the better. And it can be really hard to see/experience.
I keep thinking of the saying/concept : You are only responsible for YOU – your choices, your attitude! You can’t take responsibility for them, or allow them to affect you!
And yet, when it happens in ‘close proximity’, it can be tough to remember that – to not take things personally or be hurt by what is said or done.
Especially when you have a soft heart!

And so it becomes one of those things in life where I think that maybe we should train our brains and then operate from a place of ‘what we know, not what we feel’. So we’re still allowed to feel (because bottling up emotions is never good for anyone!), but we can’t allow those feelings to affect our lives in a way that stops us in our tracks, or prevents us from being the person we were created to be. Well, that’s what I think for me anyway 😛

I have grown into ( and I am still growing) and become the woman I am for a reason. Maybe even for such a time as this.
I know who I am – and in the words of a dear friend : it works for me!
Who I am is not only of benefit to some in so many ways (even though it irritates others a lot 😛 ), but it is also of great benefit to me, because in times of great loss and fear, I still have peace and joy, and am able to continue on with encouraging and assisting others.

It is NOT EASY to be in difficult situations.
But today’s exercise for my brain training is to CHOOSE to continue to believe that somewhere in these difficult situations there truly is something of value – and to recognise all that I have that is valuable to be grateful for!

Gone Looking! 😉

What do you say to yourself?

My car has gone in this morning to my local mechanic for some rather major repairs that simply had to be done. I am told that when I get it back, it will be like driving a new car. I sure hope so! I also really hope I will get it back today as I am on Mom’s Taxi duty this evening, having made arrangements for all the taxi duties for the day.
The lady who runs his office for him is in her early fifties, and is one of those really attractive ladies who always looks ‘well put together’. I find it quite daunting being in her presence 😛 But she’s a really great gal, and whenever I find myself there we always end up having lengthy conversations.

Last week I learned that she got divorced two years ago. So of course our lengthy conversation this time was pretty much based on ‘being single in our town’, and how important it is to have girl friends to hang out with, especially ones you can trust to ‘have your back’ if you do decide to venture out. She told me that she has a great lady to do stuff with, and that they’re always looking to add to their ‘girl’s group’. That they usually get together one night on the weekend just to alleviate any loneliness they may be experiencing, and have some good fun. She promised to let me know the next time they did anything, so that I could join them. And she messaged me the next day with an invite to a local craft brewery pub called Table 58, where they would be dining the following evening. Unfortunately, I had to decline as I had already committed to plans with my daughter.

This morning Leigh (the lady who works for the mechanic) was quite insistent that I need to join them tomorrow evening. They are having a braai at her friend’s house, with two other couples. She claimed that it would be rude of me to let her down two invites in a row 😛

Now if you don’t know what a braai is… it’s very similar to an American barbeque. It’s the same sort of concept where we grill/cook meat over an open fire. Most of these fires are wood-burning, and so if you visit here and someone asks you to come over and ‘burn wood’ it may have two meanings: it could mean to either just sit and watch the flames and drink beer or brandy; but most times it means they’re inviting you to a braai, and you need to bring the meat you want to eat to be cooked on the fire for you. In 2016 I wrote a post mentioning some amusing and ‘odd’ things in my country, with the above braai explanation, and if you’re interested then you can read it here.

My response to her invite was, ”Maybe. I’ll see.” Which opened me up to some prodding from her side, and me inevitably blurting out, ”But I don’t know anyone else, and I will just be so awkward”. And she stared at me in amazement. The rest of the conversation pretty much centered around the following :

I am not a person who has an issue with doing things alone – going to the movies, going out to eat, going for coffee etc. I can stand up on stage and perform in front of an audience; I can address a large group of people without anxiety. Many of my friends say to me, ”I wish I could be as confident as you are.”
But when it comes to more intimate settings? That dreaded self doubt looms its ugly head and I struggle – as in, just thinking about it, makes my palms sweaty and anxiety creeps in.

And I laugh at myself. Every time.

We truly are our own worst enemies, and I know I am not alone when it comes to being critical of myself. I have learned over the last year (because I became curious about my silly reactions to the ‘more personal’ settings) that it has to do with self-compassion. Yes, that really is a thing. And the more I have learned about it, the more I realise that it certainly is a ‘failure’ of mine.
I have a more than generous portion of compassion, acceptance and patience…. with other people! Too often, I forget to apply these things TO MYSELF!
And I know I am not alone.

The strangest of all (or perhaps it’s a part of the application process) is that I still feel like a worthy soul, and I do not doubt that I am loved. Even with the self doubt saying things like, ”You won’t fit in; you don’t dress as well as they do; your make-up is shoddily applied in comparison; their figures are even better than yours and they’re older than you!”
At the same time as all those horribly negative thoughts were bouncing around my head, it didn’t make me feel like I had no value. So perhaps it’s not such a failure, right?

My neighbour came to fetch me, and we spoke about the invitation on the way home, and in the driveway when we got here. He listened, with a smile on his face, and in his 63-year-old wisdom said this to me, ”If you go to the braai, dressed like them and made up like them, would you be comfortable?”
Nope. I would not.
He then said this : ”You would feel just as awkward, and like you didn’t fit, because that isn’t you. Who you are, and the way you are, is what makes you beautiful. And you are a stunning woman! So you’re not ‘supermodel material’? If I was younger, I would still date you. Because you are not like them!”

He reminded me, yet again, that I am uniquely me – and I may not be to everyone’s taste in many ways, AND THAT IS OKAY!
People! Women and men! Be originally and unapologetically yourself! The only person you need to be better than is the person YOU were yesterday! An original is worth far more than a copy!
And each and every one of you has worth!

I will go to this braai tomorrow, in my jeans and sneakers. I will wear my smile (because it looks great on me 😉 ) and my ‘slapped on make-up’ and just be myself. Because no one is better at being me than me. And I AM a beautiful me 😉

referring time…

I have referred, more than once, to posts written by Wic, at Letters To Pogue.

It’s not just because sometimes I find them amusing (and he shares some good music every now and then), or because they are well written (and for the large part, well researched) but also because most of the time I find them to be incredibly thought provoking. And I guess I am a girl who likes to think – especially if it sometimes means being able to avoid doing the dishes 😛

Now… I have to say… unfortunately there are times where doing the dishes becomes a ‘priority’. And usually it’s because I open the cupboard and there isn’t a single plate to use – only to discover, after washing and packing away, that half the dishes are still missing… and can usually be found in my teenage daughters bedroom! FORK! No, I am not swearing… just reiterating that I also usually find where all my forks have gone too! 😛
Anyway…
So dishes become a ‘priority’ – but not one by choice, more out of necessity. Which I guess turns them into a commitment/responsibility?
Please stay with me here… the point is coming – like the full fork drawer 😛

Wic offers up a ‘Monday Musing’ post which is always worth checking out 😉 Yesterday’s post was definitely worth ME reading. (Might be helpful to the rest of the world out there too.)

I am pretty sure it was a personal dig at me 😛 😛 😛 Have you ever done that? Identified so much with something that you stop and go, ”hey, should I be offended? I’m sure they mean me!” I am laughing here, because it’s ridiculous! But is it? Here’s the thing – sometimes we identify with something so much because it was exactly what we needed to ‘hear’… and perhaps there are changes we need to make. And some are more drastic than others – and not so pleasant. In this case (and maybe I missed the point – or maybe it is just different for me – or maybe my mind is still processing and avoiding dishes 😛 ) it was very much an ‘adjust your thought pattern and watch what you say and how you say it’ moment.

I am not particularly fond of the word ‘priority’. It’s defined as ‘the fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more important than others’. It’s no wonder so many people get offended by it!

And it’s no wonder we are often made to feel guilty and ashamed of what we have ‘chosen’ to do with our time.

By the same token, perhaps we also need to practice a little more understanding and compassion with others regarding theirs?

Not everyone who says to us, ”Sorry, I can’t, I just don’t have time”, is trying to tell us that we have no importance in their lives.
Personally? I would prefer that they keep their job, or give their attention to their children/husband, or spend some time refilling their soul.
It doesn’t mean that I am not important to them, or that I have ‘less value’ in their life. It just means that they have other commitments and responsibilities that need to be fulfilled.

Time is also the one thing we can never get back once it has gone. And I was reminded that I personally need to remember to have an ‘attitude of gratitude’ when someone shares a piece of theirs with me. So a big thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my own ‘personal musings’- sorry, Wic 😉

So those are just my thoughts on that… and in closing, I found this, which was very appropriate 😛

And in case you are wondering… I have TWO dogs 😛

What’s your superpower?

I’m sure we all have many 😉 except they wouldn’t get us into any comic books 😛

I read this little story again this morning, and wanted to share it with you :

”A well-respected speaker began a seminar by showing an audience of 150 people a crisp $20 bill. He asked, “Who wants this $20 bill?”

All 150 people nodded.

He said, “I am going to give this money to someone, but first….” Then he proceeded to crumple the bill up.

He asked the crowd again if anyone wanted it.

All 150 hands went up in the air.

The speaker then dropped the money on the floor and stomped all over it.

He then raised it in the air to show the crowd. The money was filthy.

“Does anyone want it now?”

Every hand went up.

The speaker proceeded to tell the crowd that no matter what he did to ruin the money, people still wanted it because its value remained the same. It was still worth $20.

The moral of the story?

Life often beats us up to the point where we feel inadequate. We deal with bad circumstances and make bad choices that we have to deal with later. However, no matter what you go through, your value will remain the same. You have something special to offer that no one can take away from you.

Here’s hoping that you all remember, no matter what, you STILL HAVE VALUE! You are still worthy! You are incredible! And….

So keep trying to be the best version of you that you can be 😉

Where are you, Meg?

I am not sure who it was exactly who said it originally, but there is a very well known saying (slightly abbreviated from the original version) :

”Time waits for no man.”

And in case there is any confusion : sorry ladies, it doesn’t wait for us either 😛

The last couple of weeks saw me reaching a whole new level of being busy, because as I have mentioned before, life happens even when we are busy making other plans. 😛 Circumstances out of my control meant that a lot of things happened at once, and I had no choice BUT to give them my immediate attention – trying my best to juggle a multitude of balls, and yes… I definitely dropped one or two. But I made it through the chaos, and that matters.

There were some friends who I remained in contact with during this period, although not as much as I would have liked to. I was honest with them about the demands on my time, and shared a bit of the ‘busy’ side of things. But I only shared what I guess would be considered the ‘physically’ busy side of things. ”Driving from here to there for ‘x’, meetings and endless phone calls to sort out ‘y’, etc.”

I have one particular friend with whom I am in very close contact – as in ‘every day conversation’ via messaging. I started to share the emotional side, I guess you could call it, that was absorbing my ‘other time/free time’ that I get given every day, and unfortunately it opened a door that caused me a lot of hurt and pain.

But it reminded me yet again that I have been shaped and molded the way I am for a reason.
That we are all DIFFERENT and that it is okay. And that my acceptance of that is not a weakness, despite who may think it is, but ultimately a strength.
That the ability to still see immense value in others just because they approach things differently and do what works for them is also a strength.
That still being able to love them with all my heart and treat them with kindness when they are adamant I am completely wrong and need to change my views, is strength.
That choosing to still treat those who have hurt me so very deeply, and tried to pretty much destroy the good in me, with compassion and respect is also A STRENGTH. And trust me, the fact that there is still a small spark of a love that I cannot explain for them absolutely astounds me.

Regarding that last statement in the paragraph above – a lot of people criticise me for it, and provide a host of reasons for it that link back to abuse. And while I can see the validity in what they are saying, and appreciate that abuse does shape certain things in us and spark reactions that are not natural, my ultimate reason for MY conclusion and my feelings is one that defies comprehension for many (including me sometimes) and is also one that is a PERSONAL thing and not something I can tell you how to do or even begin to properly explain.
My ultimate reason is this : part of this very painful emotional journey from the last couple of weeks has been the realisation :

I have needed mercy SO MANY times in my life, especially in times where I have hurt others in so many ways – even if my lashing out was deserved by them. What right do I have to not show it to others, even those who have done nothing other than to try and destroy me?
If I am willing, and live my life, being kind and loving to strangers who will not always return the same to me, then how can I not be willing to also extend mercy?

There IS a pill that I am struggling to swallow though – something I really struggle to understand. But there is a Voice that whispers to me that I don’t NEED to understand EVERYTHING. I try very hard not to argue. But man, oh man, it’s tough! I don’t fully understand why, when we all want respect and want people to accept that we have our OWN views and opinions, we fight so hard to force others to think exactly how we do… to a level that we disrespect their own views and opinions and choices.
I KNOW it’s a human condition, and something I have been guilty of in my younger years… but it still frustrates me trying to understand the why. , because I can’t even tell you why I used to do it 😛 I really HAVE to just ‘let it go’.

I am hoping that somehow, some way, something in the above has been of help to someone. I don’t expect anyone to take anything ‘away’ from it though, simply because it is MY views and opinions, the choice I have made when it comes to living my life, and you may not agree. And guess what, I am okay with that. You still have value in this world. It’s not up to me to try and change you… it’s up to me to change ME, and just keep loving YOU for who you are.

I DO want a to share an image with you in closing though. Something I have had to remind MYSELF of EVERY DAY for the last two weeks, more than once a day….

Sending love to each and every one of you ❤ Here’s hoping you all get to experience LOTS of wonderful things this week.

Little Big

Photo credit : smallthingsmatter.org
Photo credit : Facebook

I love the little things in life. The simple things. And I love small random acts of kindness.
These are things you will sort of be aware of if you are a regular reader of my posts.
I want to do BIG things though…
Not quite like Pinky and the Brain
I don’t want to take over the world 😛 But I’d like to help change it for the better.

The pandemic has taught me how much of a desire in my heart this actually is. I didn’t think the ‘love’ side of me could grow much more (love = kindness, compassion, sacrifice) …. I didn’t think it was possible for it to almost consume me.
But it has. And at times it has been overwhelming. Especially when I am not feeling up to doing much….
My mind is still ‘up to much’, ha ha!

I bumped into acquaintance – a lady who doesn’t know much about me at all. What was strange was that we ended up having a rather meaningful, deep conversation, centering around purpose and goals and personal growth. I expressed my frustration to her because I want to do BIG things, and at the end of our little ‘meeting’, she left me with this :

”Just an observation, Meg. You notice the little things – the things that other people don’t. You’re the same with people – you notice, while others just continue on with their day and their tasks. You did something the other day for someone, and I heard about it from that person. It was a random kindness and something small, but let me tell you that at the particular moment you made a BIG difference in that person’s life. Don’t underestimate YOUR small things – they’re achieving the BIG stuff.”

And my heart soared, and I decided there and then to keep doing the little things!

I had a big thing happen yesterday. And I can’t help but wonder if it is partly the little things I do that led to it. (But it’s mostly a person with an incredible heart who did a HUGE good deed for me 😉 )
The pandemic has been tough on everyone, and many are suffering financially.
And let’s be honest, I have had more than my ‘unfair share’ 😛 of troubles these last six months.
Without going in to too much detail, let me say this : thanks to someone with a kind and generous, very beautiful spirit, in this Summer heat I will be able to replace my fridge and fill it.
A BIG thing that made a HUGE difference.
A small thing that made a huge difference to me just this morning? A lady standing in the queue next to me said, ”I can tell you have a lovely smile, even though you’re wearing a mask – it shows in your eyes.”

BIG things. SMALL things. They ALL have value and make a difference! Please keep looking for opportunities to spread love! ❤

Quality Street

Six years ago, I was invited to attend Friday night youth, and give ‘a talk’ for the teens. When I unpacked my ‘visual aid’ for my talk, I had the attention of each and every one of them…. especially when I proceeded to open the bags and allow the taste delights to spill out on to the table in front of me. Because, you see, I had brought with me three large bags like this :

The image comes from the Nestle website, and you’ll notice in the fine print below the ‘Choice Chocolates & Toffees’, it states that it is ‘everyone’s favourite favourite’.

Funnily enough, the pictures alongside that (the green, yellow and purple chocolates) happen to be MY favourites in the bag 😉
Now Quality Street has always been ‘an expensive treat’, and when growing up, if our family gifted a box of chocolates, this was usually the one that was given.
We had them for ‘us’ a few times a year…. and I can remember many a battle over MY favourites, ha ha ha!
They are still one of the ‘more expensive’ boxes/packets of chocolates, and I think we probably only get them once a year now – usually around Christmas time.

One of my reasons for using them for the Youth Talk was this : Like the bag of chocolates, with it’s variety, we are all different. And we all have different things that we ‘prefer/like/favourite’ as well as different strengths and weaknesses – ‘tastes’, if you will.
But what if I said to them that they could have any chocolate from the bag, just not their favourite? Would they still choose one? Their reply was a unanimous yes.
And I used this to illustrate to them that just because someone wasn’t their favourite, or wasn’t ‘like them’, didn’t mean that that person didn’t have value. That person was still SOMEBODY’S favourite, and deserved kindness and love, just as much as they themselves did.
And that even if they felt they themselves were different, they still had worth!

And as I look around me in the world today, I see a whole lot of people with a variety of talents, and weaknesses, and strengths, and ‘differences’.
And I may not always ‘approve’ or be comfortable with their choices, or choose to spend ‘quality time’ with those people – they may not be my choice at all….
But they still deserve kindness (which is an expression of love!!!) no matter what I think or feel. Because they are still Someone’s favourite.

IN A WORLD WHERE YOU CAN BE ANYTHING, BE KIND!

(And yes, I let the teens eat the chocolates – although supervision was required to ensure that they were evenly distributed 😛 )

Big Wins

We all have those moments. The ones where there is a ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ moment, and everything just seems to crumble. Staying afloat is a struggle and sometimes we find ourselves gasping for air. More so in the current pandemic – the stress that it is bringing to our lives is something none of us have ever been prepared for.

I was speaking to someone the other day, and laughing (yes, actually laughing) about all the terrible things I have been through in my life, and having been made an entirely single mom with no financial or emotional support 12 years ago, and how I have learned and worked so hard at finding tools for survival and implementing coping strategies and mechanisms that are healthy – and that I felt that I was doing okay and could pretty much cope with anything. And then? Covid19.

It’s a whole new ball game.

No one has ever taught me about what to do in a worldwide pandemic, when you live in a third world country that was falling apart even before the crisis hit. No one has prepared me for it, or offered me applicable coping mechanisms. And I really thought I was doing okay in the beginning. But I think that as with many other aspects in life, my sub conscious needed a little bit of a ‘reprogram’.

And it was in trying to help someone else last week, that I actually helped myself. Which should come as no surprise to many of you. Because isn’t that just the ‘circle of life’ –

showing kindness begets kindness;
giving freely begets receiving;
helping others emotionally begets assistance for ourselves

And I found myself wondering….

What if I apply all I know to this unknown situation as well – whether I think it’s applicable or not? What if I continue to live as I always have, despite the circumstances? What if I do as much as I can, with what I have, and what I am allowed to do legally (I can’t pop in for a coffee with a friend who is struggling)? What if I just keep being me and celebrate each new day without worrying about the next one?

I have always been someone who has an ‘attitude of gratitude’. I try NOT to complain a lot, but sometimes we do just need to get things off our chests. But even after moments of grumbling, I am still mindful of gratitude for what I DO have.

What we sometimes forget is that our ‘small wins’ and the little things, are things of monstrous value to others. I think that taking things for granted is a human condition, and not always something we do intentionally. I slip up many times – it doesn’t make me an ungrateful and bad person. When I realise what I have done, it creates an awareness to be more grateful for that particular thing – which is good! (And I can’t help but wonder if that’s the point 😉 )

In my country there are far too many people who don’t have access to clean running water. I live in a built up residential area and so this is not a problem for me. And although my heart aches for those people, and I get angry at my government infrastructure that has failed them, I don’t think I ever fully understood their reality until we were without water for six whole days. It certainly changed things up for me and as silly as it sounds, I am now grateful every time I shower, am able to flush the toilet, wash dishes, do a load of washing in the washing machine etc. Previously, I would have seen these things as small wins – now I know how big they actually are! (And it has also led to us being more aware of the amount of water we use, developing good habits to not waste 😉 )

I can also tell you from personal experience, the small wins that are celebrated for what they truly are (big wins for others) attract something powerful.

In the same way, the small things that we do for others attract something powerful too. In EVERY aspect of our lives. The more we think about good things, and do good for others, the more we invite it to attach itself to us 😉 

Every day is different. Some days are ‘bad’, where everything seems to go wrong. But even on those days, I challenge you to find three good things too – because you WILL find them if you consciously look for them 😉

And don’t forget to give something away every day – even if all you have to give is a smile, or ten minutes of your time. Little things to you may signify big wins in someone else’s life

inside the box

As I have been making my way through the book a second time, noting down things that are important for my journey, I was reminded of something that I would like to share.

I thought of the ‘me’ I was twenty years ago, and how she would have reacted had she read this book back then. That ‘me’ was inclined to still be quite naive, and opinionated in a sense that what I believed was the only way and if you didn’t agree, you were wrong.
Oh my! How I missed out on so many valuable things along the way!

It had a lot to do with the belief systems that were taught to me from a young age – passed down to me. (I wrote a post about belief systems here last year – pardon the language.) The thing is that I was never encouraged to form and build on my own belief system. There was no freedom to think out of the box – it was a scenario relatively close to ‘’it’s my way, or the highway’’. And if I didn’t live inside that box, then I was a failure, and unworthy. And I BELIEVED I was!

But you see….

That particular belief system probably originated from the generation prior. Because we build and live according to what we know. And some of us are not fortunate enough to ever ‘broaden our horizons’. I’ve had a lot of life experience in a lot of areas – sometimes I feel like I’ve already done life three times over. 😛

There are studies that have shown that as a child, the more we get exposed to, the more our immune system builds. It gets strengthened by the yucky stuff. I often joke that part of the reason my immune system is so strong can be accredited to gravel (a selection of small stones all together).  When I was 5, our school had gravel beneath the swings. In hindsight, it wasn’t such a wonderful thing because if you jumped off the swing and lost your balance, it hurt! I would sit in that swing and gently rock myself back and forth, sucking stones that I had picked out from the gravel. Ewwww! I know! I also played in the dirt a lot, even in my white dress with red polka dots, much to my mother’s horror. (I ruined that dress on my 6th birthday at my party when I fell out of a tree 😛 )
But I also wasn’t very sick as a child, so perhaps that’s why?

Here’s how I think this relates to my own belief system (which is continuously growing, just by the way) :

I was brought up inside the box. To the extreme. And from a little girl, I fought with that lid.
I have had more than my fair share of bad experiences – some where I carry the responsibility, and some that were circumstantial and out of my control. I have also had some good experiences, and although they have left me with positive emotions and a lot to laugh about, none of them have ‘changed’ me.
The bad experiences have allowed me to grow, and become stronger. The lid has flown right off that box, and I am no longer bound by the way I was taught that things ‘should be’.

I don’t fully agree with everything written in the book I am now ‘studying’. Does that make the author a bad person, a failure in some areas, not worth listening to? NO! Because there is a LOT that I do agree with, and needed to hear. And the things I don’t agree with? I have ‘listened to’ anyway, because it has given me another view of something in me that was ‘concrete’ (no, I didn’t swallow any of the gravel 😛 ). And quite honestly, I need to think about what she has said.

It comes down to a firm belief that everyone is different, and that just because I believe or think the way I do, you don’t have to! And it doesn’t mean that you are worth less as a person, or that you cannot impact my life, or that we can’t be friends.

My perspectives and my beliefs and values? They’re mine. I can share them with you, I can hope that my experiences will help you or just impact you positively. But I can’t fight with you and be angry with you just because you aren’t in complete agreement with me.
Besides, you may have much to teach me if we don’t think alike, and I might miss out of the beauties of friendship and life in general if I build myself back into a box.
(I do have to add this though: I can’t put myself in harm’s way, and so sadly there are some interactions that I am forced to avoid. But these are definitely few and far between.)

We need to embrace what makes us different – celebrate your quirks, and even the things that you can’t do. And then pause for a moment and accept that someone else is probably in the same boat as you : different… trying to embrace themselves.

I’ll end with this : Someone told me the other day (in agreement with me saying that I am a very open person who doesn’t leave much to the imagination) that ‘mystery is not my superpower’.
I loved that! And had a good laugh! Of course I’d like to NOT always be so open, because I love a good mystery and so do many other people out there, but it’s the way I am and it makes me ‘me’. And I have learned to embrace it and celebrate it.

Besides, I have other superpowers 😉 *stands and swoops her cape dramatically and clicks ‘publish’*