Self-Study: Atha-Yoga-Anusasanum Yoga Sutra 1.1

 

Hi, Lovelies!

I come back to study the Yoga Sutra over and over again. The very first one is perhaps the most important and significant for me.

The Yoga-Sutra of Patañjali: A New Translation and Commentary by Georg Feuerstein Ph.D. defines the first yoga sutra as Now commences the exposition of Yoga.”  

“Yoga is Now. Feel God_s presence.” (1)

Nischala Joy Devi’s definition in The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras  says: “With humility (an open heart and mind), we embrace the sacred study of Yoga.”

“Yoga is Now. Feel God_s presence.” (2)

Easy enough to study. Easy enough to say. More difficult to put into practice.

On my mat, I can more easily put all else aside for a couple of hours and just focus on my practice. Yet, even that isn’t always possible for me, unless all of my children are with me, and I know everyone is completely safe! Trying to implement this first sutra caused me to be taken aback as I became more aware of my ongoing struggle!

I stopped in the middle of making my bed to open my curtains. I brewed my coffee while starting laundry. I picked out my clothes while brushing my teeth. I seemed to dislike having my radio on one station as I commuted, so I alternated between radio, CD, and podcasts. I drank my smoothies on the road, and made any phone calls then, too. I ate lunch at my desk while working. I lost count how many times a day I checked my phone for texts, social media notifications, messages, and voicemail. While scrolling through social media feeds, I got distracted by friends’ posted articles and curious about how others commented. While surfing the web, Google wouldn’t let me only make one or two inquiries. No way! I had to browse several sites until I found just the right pages that held my interest for the longest amounts of time. I don’t know how many times I stopped what I was doing to talk with my children, co-workers, or friends…but worse…how many times did I pick up my phone to make sure I wasn’t missing anything while I was in the middle of a conversation?! That is rude, and I cannot apologize enough!

None of this includes going about my daily tasks while simultaneously having continuous thoughts about anything and everything other than the task at hand, and try as I might, I just couldn’t successfully tune out other people’s’ conversations that were in no way of concern to me. Did I mention I put away tons of clean laundry while binge watching a new Netflix fav?  

It is no wonder, I am tired, stressed out, and overwhelmed. It is no wonder my health has been in a fragile state. I’m in a constant state of multitasking!

There was not much pause to be present with any one thing, much less find God’s presence.

Yet, Spirit was there, in everything and in everyone I encountered, being ignored and going unnoticed and unappreciated. Except on a few occasions when I was made to shut up and listen!

This week, I’ll try more diligently to be still in the present moment and more aware of all that is. I’ll try to focus with more clarity in all situations, and speak more carefully.

As I continue to meditate and contemplate both of these translations, they resonate within me as such, “Yoga is Now. Feel God’s presence.”

“Yoga is Now. Feel God_s presence.”

Tonight, I will remember Yoga is a practice. Being still is a practice. Listening for God is a practice.

Namaste,

Nikki

One, Yoga Mat…Two, Yoga Mat…Three Yoga Mat…Four…

Hi, Lovely!

I have been met with some health and family issues which caused a great deal of overwhelm and exhaustion.

Part of being human is to face challenges, overcome obstacles, and restore health. It’s life!

How do I deal when life happens? I come to my Yoga mat!

Yoga has much to offer, no matter my energy level or my body needs. When I’m stuck in chronic fatigue and my body is inflamed in pain, I rest and relax in restorative asana. When I feel a bit stronger, but still need to go slow and withdraw inward, Yin Yoga is my go-to practice. On my strong and energetic days, I love practices that incorporate Vinyasa Flow. Of course, I have some favorite Kundalini practices that bring my whole being into balance at any given time.

What is your Yoga like? Are you wondering what mat is best for your needs?

I use three mats on a regular basis.

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My favorite mat of all, cheap and generic, is my very first yoga mat. It has seen the most tears and transition. After 20 plus years of practice, it still holds me in its grip, but the sticky these days might be from years worth of grit, grime, and kiddo sticky stuff! This mat stays in my home teaching space, to remind me how I first came to yoga, and how I wish to use my yoga stories to serve others.

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I recently started using a Gaiam Print Premium Yoga Mat  originally bought for my daughter several years ago. For the price, I am impressed by its grip and quality of this lightweight mat! It travels with me when I teach at Take Charge Fitness, and it stays in my car for impromptu yoga practices in parks, on work breaks and road trips.

My most expensive and heaviest mat stays home, for my personal practice, and it is used inside and out. The Manduka PRO Yoga Mat is quite pricey. At first I was skeptical because I found this mat very slippery. However, I have had this mat for a couple of years now and realize it still isn’t fully broken in! This is my thickest mat, perfect for days when tender trigger points are present. The extra cushion is a blessing! My naturally  oily and sweaty body still slips and slides in some vigorous workouts, but a yoga towel on top of the mat helps absorb extra moisture. This high quality mat just may be the last yoga mat I will ever need to purchase!

There are some great yoga mat options out there, and some I wasn’t aware of until I stopped to check out Reviews.com.

While I’m NOT an expert on yoga mats, my friends over at Reviews.com ARE! I love what they have to say, learned a few tips for my Manduka PRO, and I’m awesomely impressed at how they’ve spent hours surveying, researching, and testing top brands at varying prices. They’ve talked with experienced yoga teachers and experienced asana in extreme temperatures and in all asana practices imaginable. Yoga dedication is seen through their ongoing studies, and reviews are updated accordingly to include the newest products available.

I am confident you’ll find YOUR perfect mat as recommended by Reviews.com. Check them out today!

Your Yoga practice is waiting for you!

Namaste,

Nikki

 

A (VERY) Long Week of Healing

Dear Lovely Soul,

It has been a very long week!! I have still been releasing energetic cords attached to codependent tendencies that keep me stuck in unhealthy behavior patterns, and afraid of moving forward.

Stored emotions related to codependency and other things yet to be dealt with have made home in my physical body and often show up as chronic body pain and blocked energy channels. In this week’s yoga and meditation practices, I became aware of particular holding areas.

My adrenal glands caused low back pain. I experienced pain along the entire right side of my body, with emphasis on tightness in my right shoulder blade, right groin area, and the stabbing pain near my right temple. Visually, Codependency showed itself as a wooden stake and an emotional rapist. Lovely, huh?

My exploration with Dr. Kate Flynn’s Fear Release Technique, brought up a new list, including but limited to, and in no particular order, fear of: failure; my messy life forever being a mess; not being able to do everything that needs to be done on my own; rejection; never being understood; letting people see my crazy; not being an effective yoga teacher; vulnerability; love; showing my femininity; loneliness; relationships; weakness; inadequacy; happiness; reverting back into old, unhealthy patterns; my kids getting hurt; getting hurt myself; hurting others; losing myself; compromising my beliefs and values; compromising my health; not having enough quality time for my kids; not having enough ME time; being in yet another commitment that leaves me feeling miserably lonely.

Who knew I was afraid of so much?! I have been living my whole life in fear, no doubt, but one day, I will live fearlessly. I will live as if there is no tomorrow.

This past week, I needed yoga practices to bring balance and restore health in my Triple Warmer Meridian, which is all out of whack, while I continued to cut through any and all energetic cords of codependency.

My Triple Warmer Meridian practices helped me to realize burdens brought on by habitual codependency behaviors such as being/doing what others need, taking on other people’s responsibilities and guilt, denying my own needs and desires, and the feeling of never being good enough. I heard my my hips and inner thighs scream “Have mercy!!” while in Kurmasana (Tortoise Pose). However, afterward, I did feel more balanced energetically, and felt tension start to release in my head, neck, shoulders and upper torso. The practices seemed so simple, but there was really lots happening, physically, mentally energetically, and spiritually!  

I practiced a much needed Traditional Chinese Medicine Spleen yoga class which reminded me to be sure to set strong boundaries. In the physical realm, my boundaries can be too rigid these days, however my energetic boundaries still seem to be super susceptible to other people’s vibrations. I became increasingly aware throughout the practice that I am now carrying other people’s stuff on a subconscious and energetic level. I felt a shift in my energy and in my mind mindset. I was reminded to replenish and nourish my own energy. This means I need to be more mindful to fuel my body with my proper nourishment and allow for self-care sessions and enough sleep. I often fall into the habit of becoming too tired to care for myself after I’ve seen to it that everyone else is taken care of.

During a mudra practice, I felt a tight spot loosen in my chest with an audible pop. That knot had been there for quite some time, but this past week it was so bothersome that it had my awareness enough that I tried my best to massage it away to no avail.

I feel much gratitude for the wealth of knowledge Dr. Melissa West provides her students throughout her membership community. That is where I found these practices for my Triple Warmer Meridian and Spleen, and Melissa’s belief in me allows me to take on a leadership role. I had put together a playlist in the Daily Yoga Connection section to focus on Forgiveness two weeks ago, and this past week’s follow up playlist was intended to focus on Grief. I often find after I practice Forgiveness, I must grieve!

Let me reassure you, practicing Forgiveness and Grief are appropriate when dealing with codependency issues that made their impression very early on in life!

In my Yoga for Grief practices, I realized that codependency caused me to lose my childhood too quickly as I took on responsibilities beyond my years. I lost my innocence very early in life, as I created a me that made everyone else happy and tried her hardest to find their love and acceptance. I had no idea I was a habitual liar as little girl, but now I am aware that every single time I put on a fake smile and did what everyone expected of me, I was creating my own prison, my own pain. While practicing Parighasana (Gate Pose), I could feel just how much pain resides in both sides, all along the rib cage. Forward folds reminded me to stop striving for perfection. The Perfectionism Prison is another codependency trait that has been with me from very early on! This practice reminded me to relax into exactly where I am today – in all areas of my life and on all levels. I was reminded to surrender to my present moment, and allow everything to unfold organically. Experience has shown me that too much effort only leads to illness, exhaustion and overwhelm. I deserve better.

I also had another knot release with the same pop as earlier! This one resided in my left lower back! That knot must have been holding an awful lot because let me tell ya…when you are in a healing process, stored emotions will always find their way out at some point, in some way…

Earlier in the week I was the target of a stranger’s anger. He triggered me, in a very strong way. I had to leave the situation because I was afraid of what I was going to say or do in response. Usually, I do well keeping myself pulled together, until I’ve absolutely reached my limits, at which point I’ve been known to explode. I am, after all, well versed in pretending that everything is fine and painting a smile on my face! Sometimes, though, too much is all I can handle!

This incident was seemingly out of the blue, as all had been going quite smoothly in my life! I gave myself permission to take the rest of the day to feel absolutely anything that came up for me. My near-rage anger turned into sadness and grief followed by sheer exhaustion! The next day I felt a bit of embarrassment for my very-loud-and-adult-language venting that came out to a friend, but for the first time ever, I did not feel those deep-rooted codependency rules of guilt or shame toward these formerly perceived “negative” emotions.

Today, because of yoga, I feel grateful for Mean Man’s presence. He gave me the opportunity to experience a different attitude toward emotions I use to try my hardest to avoid. He provided an opportunity to explore who I am at my heart’s core. He taught me that I have developed a very low tolerance for my allowing people to treat me in a degrading and disrespectful manner. Most importantly, he reminded me that even on my worse days, I (usually) have the ability to still treat others with kindness and respect, as I noticed myself praying for grace and for peace toward this man that I hope to never see again.

I love a good  practice with Sun Salutations! This time with previously mentioned man on my mind, they made me question if it is possible to teach people how to treat me differently as I undergo inner changes.

I recalled one person who knows I was taught that I was not capable of caring for myself, to avoid conflict, and to deny my own needs and wishes. She knows I was taught to dismiss my own feelings. I have very recently been able to recognize how she is still stuck in her own codependent behaviors. However, I am happy to say, our relationship is overall a good one.

As I’ve come into my own truth, I’ve set certain boundaries that she has learned/is learning to honor. Our new dance will be one of continued practice. My prayer is that as she continues to watch the changes in me, she’ll find her own strength to do certain things in a healthier way for herself.

Life’s turbulence once broke me into a million pieces. Yoga helped me cry, put me back together, and daily teaches me to bend, so I don’t break again.

“I am OK. I’ve always been OK. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone. I am already enough.”

Until Next Time,

Nikki

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Fear, Forgiveness, Going Forth

Dear Lovely Soul,

I’m in a transitional period.

Changes are taking place on my yoga mat, in my inner being, in my physical body, and in my life. This happens from time to time, and every time I feel apprehensive.

This can be a lonely place. I notice the trend of people walking out of my life. I feel like nobody really understands what is happening, and if they do, they don’t seem to care. The truth is, they aren’t able to comprehend it. All they realize is that they don’t fit into my life anymore.

It has taken time for me to understand this and accept it. In the past, it broke my heart to watch those I care about become less and less involved in my life. Not so much anymore. Now, I see it as a blessing of sorts. By another’s choice to leave, they are usually taking away some type of inner struggle for me, thus creating space for another person or opportunity that will fulfill a current need or desire.

That does not mean it’s easy to watch people go away. It does not mean I don’t miss them. It does not mean I feel no sadness. It does not mean they are gone out of my life forever and that there will never be any contact again. It does not mean that I’m not intrigued when they wander back in a flattering manner. What it means is that eventually I’ll remember they no longer have a lesson to teach me or a significant role to fulfill. I trust that all who have ever entered my life will always know that I love and appreciate their presence, and I will hold them close in my heart.

I am thankful for quality time spent this weekend with my children and their friends. I am thankful for time spent with an old friend whose love never fails, and with a new one who entered my life as unexpectedly as others have walked out. For now, these are my precious people, and I pray not to take them for granted.

This week, I have been practicing Holistic Dr. Kate Flynn’s fear release and one of her meditations to help dissolve any and all physical and energetic attachments to codependency behaviors.

Many fears have come up this week, after a while of not noticing very many. While perhaps not my favorite thing to deal with, I do know that FEAR is real, creates much of my anxiety, and keeps me stuck in unhealthy patterns. Here are some fears I am facing head on: failure, success, relationships, inadequacy, finances, vulnerability, speaking my truth, discovering who I REALLY am, judgment, criticism, rejection, weakness, my own strength and power, not being able to manage everything on my own, transitions, The Unknown, Love.

Over the past few weeks, I have failed to practice ahimsa toward myself. I failed to eat in  nourishing manner, and I failed to practice Brahmacharya or using my energy wisely.

Enter the Daily Yoga Connection over at Dr. Melissa West’s membership community, where I am a proud member of the leadership team. Our focus has been Forgiveness, and at first I thought it would be awesome because I needed some self-forgiveness! I also assumed old issues would arise and my awareness would see those people I unknowingly had been holding deep seated grudges against.  

I was reminded that Forgiveness allows me to move on. Forgiveness is really all about me, as it honors my difficult emotions regarding any unresolved wounds. Forgiveness helps to purify my heart. Forgiveness sets me free.

My forgiveness yoga practice included some heart softening. Just thinking about softening my heart makes me feel weak and vulnerable! Fear arose and offered resistance, but when I was reminded to look at myself truthfully, I was able to continue. Physically, I felt the exhaustion of my adrenal glands. Energetically, Shakti moved me to a full surrendering to the Divine.

Codependency quickly surfaced. AH. I see now my object of forgiveness!

I heard my inner voice clearly say, “I trust that it is now safe to let it all go.”

A beautiful kriya continued to cut away those codependency energetic cords Dr. Kate first brought to my awareness. I was being given the opportunity to let go with more clarity specific aspects of codependent behavioral trademarks. Control, manipulation, judgment, criticism, guilt, shame, anger, bitterness, low self-worth, the need for other people’s approval…I watched them all dissolve. Did you notice some of those were also mentioned on my fear list?

In a forgiveness toward self meditation, I was again reminded to fully trust God, and to trust in my own truth, power and strength, to trust in my own Inner Divinity.

In a yoga practice designed to connect with Veera Lakshmi for Courage, Strength and Power, I found that I was way more wobbly in Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III) than usual, and ordinarily this would frustrate me. Instead, I realized that my practice is indeed reflective of my spirit. This pose is representative of taking action, and while I understand that I will move forward with great willingness, I am not yet certain how to proceed from here.

I will be patient, and allow things to unfold naturally instead of overwhelming myself and stressing over The Unknown.

“I am Beauty. I am Light. I am Love. I am Divine. I am Free.”

My friend, I leave you with that until next time.

Namaste,

Nikki

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I teach from my own experiences! If you are looking for a bit of an unconventional yoga teacher, I’m the one!

FREE Community Yoga are invited!

Hi There!
I will be teaching in Knoxville on January 11, 2017.
I would love for you to join this FREE community yoga class!
See you at 6:00pm @
Norwood Elementary School
1909 Merchant Dr, Knoxville, TN 37912

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Feel free to contact me with any questions or for more info!

Namaste, Nikki

January 2017 Liberate ThySelf Challenge Day 7: Self-Reflection with a Mudra

Hi Lovely!

Liberate Thyself with Prithvi-Vardhak Mudra.

I Am Liberated!

This mudra helps me to feel grounded and less fearful. Often, I use it as I deal with fears that keep me from teaching yoga. I use it to help me overcome fears regarding relationships, too! This mudra has helped me take a giant leap of faith, even helping me to put myself out here in Social Media Land!

Prithvi-Vardhak Mudra has also been helping me to restore my health from chronic fatigue, helping to heal my overworked adrenal glands, spleen, and kidneys.

Prithvi-Vardhak Mudra is also beneficial in helping me recover from a long-standing Inflammatory disease that some might call Fibromyalgia. In reality, though, changing to a Gluten-free diet seems to have made a huge difference, but since adding Prithvi-Vardhak Mudra, my stomach acidity has been quickly reduced and those ulcers in my stomach are being healed sooner than expected! Since those are what sets off the inflammatory (and pain) response in my body, this mudra is helping me to live my life more fully.

Did I say already?

I Am Liberated.
( I’ll carry that mantra with me until next time!)

Thank you to those who made this opportunity for self-reflection and sharing available to me!

Namaste, Nikki

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Contact me today to learn how yoga, when used in conjunction with a medical doctor or holistic health practitioner can ease symptoms of any type of ailment!

January 2017 Liberate ThySelf Challenge Day 6: An Inverted Self-Reflection

Hi there!

Liberate ThySelf with Viparita Karani

How can I turn my vision into reality? Slowing down long enough to realize there’s something big waiting for me!!

Obvious, right?!

Guess who needs reminders?!

Yep! Me!

I love the much needed restorative benefits from this inversion tonight. I especially love that this pose helps me keep the migraine I’ve been fighting from getting worse! Thank goodness for yoga!

I placed my bolster along the length of my spine below the shoulder blades to create more heart-opening action because…well…I needed that!

This week has left me feeling fatigued. I know when I’m not well-rested, I’m less likely to open myself up to new possibilities. Without an open heart, there is no true calling.

So, what is my vision? As a newly certified yoga instructor, my dream is to show others how yoga can help heal from certain traumas, on all levels of being, just as is happening for me. For now, though, I rest, while I wait patiently for clear direction on how to proceed next.

Viparita Karani reminds me to be still and know that I’m supported and loved. It reminds me to be receptive to my own needs and desires so that I can be fully available to others. Viparita Karani also reminds me to use my energy wisely, and to trust that small voice within for guidance.

Much Love, Nikki

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Let me help you begin to heal and help you remember that you, too, are loved!

January 2017 Liberate ThySelf Challenge Day 5: Self-Reflection in a Forward Fold

Hello!

Liberate Thyself with Paschimottanasana

The intention for Liberate Thyself Day 5: I have hidden talents and gifts that I’m ready to unleash.

I look at this, and immediately I cringe.

I don’t have any hidden talents!!

Thank goodness Yoga can change a girl’s mindset!! I have begun to break unhealthy patterns that kept me stuck thinking that I have nothing to offer others. Of course my mind bully kept me from following my heart’s desire…Sharing yoga! So I stayed hidden, practicing all alone in my living room for years!

Truth is, if I feel passionate about something, I give it my full attention. My faith in a Something Bigger Than me helps me find strength from bad experiences, create change, and use it for good, more specifically, to help others who share similar experiences. I genuinely feel empathetic joy for other people’s successes, even if I am left behind! I don’t give false compliments, and I find something about everyone, even those who trouble me, to love. I don’t communicate well verbally, but give me a pen and paper, and I can write all day long. This enables me to deeply explore Self, pass on my insights, offer support and encouragement, and to show others they are loved in Yoga with Dr. Melissa West‘s membership community.

Today I needed to calm the brain with a gentle forward fold! I feel a bit stressed and emotional! My adrenal glands are in overdrive, and I’m fighting off a migraine. Enter Paschimottanasana to pull my awareness inward, helping me forget the rest of the world for just a little while! No doubt this asana will help me sleep well tonight!!

Namaste, Nikki

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Come Yoga with me and discover YOUR hidden talents! We can also relieve stress! Now is the time to take time for you! I’ll create a yoga practice, individualized to your unique needs. Private lessons are available in person and online.

January 2017 Liberate ThySelf Challenge Day 4: Self-Reflection in a Back Bend

Sweet Reader,

Liberate Thyself with Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

Today, I’m exhausted, and other people’s drama has made me feel a bit anxious. My digestion is still a bit wonky since the holidays made too easily accessible certain foods I know make me feel ill. Oops! Did I mention sitting at a desk working at my computer all day created lots of tension in my back, shoulders, and neck?

I greatly appreciate Dhanurasana tonight. It’s been awhile since I visited, but I know I’ll return regularly!

My favorite thing about this backbend after I’ve properly prepared and connected fully with my breath?

I love how that wave-like motion carries me away to a simpler childhood memory where I first experienced this asana in the only dance class I ever took. I loved that dance class! It’s that sweet, child-like girly spirit I wish to get to know again in 2017.

Here’s wishing you playfulness and lightheartedness Today and every day!

P.S. I love this stay put tank from SQUEEZED 😀 The color makes me smile!

Namaste, Nicole

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Make 2017 the year YOU get in touch with your inner child! Come practice yoga with me in a fun, light-hearted way!

January 2017 Liberate ThySelf Challenge Day 3: GASP! Arm Balance Self-Reflection

Hi Again!

Liberate Thyself with Crow Pose, Crane Pose, or whatever is my variation thereof! (Bakasana)

Last year challenged me to face fears of various forms.

FEAR.

That’s what arm balances bring to mind.
I just began to gather the courage to attempt to practice this arm balance at the end of last year. See what I did there?! 😂 What I mean is, I began to play around with the idea that perhaps…just maybe my bully mind was wrong! What if I stopped listening to the voice in my head yelling “You’ll never be able to do it!” and found I could do arm balances after all?! I remembered that in loving-kindness, I was able to teach my younger son how to do it.

What if I approached my own arm balance practice with that same ahimsa?

Uugh. I did not want to accept this challenge tonight!! I certainly didn’t want pictures taken. Didn’t want to post, but especially didn’t want to see for myself what this pose really looks like!

Here it is though. In the top picture I stop to remind myself:

“Determined LOVE is greater than all fears.” (I love my personal yoga practice. I love sharing yoga with others. I love you!)

So…What I learned…bottom photos show the asana base is not well grounded, unsteady; core and shoulder blades are not fully engaged; and the spine could lengthen more fully.

I’ve learned I can say this as fact, not as self-criticism and then choose to improve (or disregard) those very basic truths as I see them.

I realized that I can be afraid to fall, but it’s more important for me to remember all the times I’ve fallen face down in my moments of being worn down or in my own total surrender, with a renewed determination to get up stronger than ever.

I learned that this pose isn’t picture perfect, but it meant more to me to share with you than to hide from this challenge.

2017…here I come with the willingness to continue facing fears and practicing arm balances. I might fall, but that doesn’t mean I fail.

Namaste, Nikki

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Ready to take on your own challenges? New to yoga or want to go deeper? I commit to being a forever student, so I am learning with YOU! I want to learn from you, too!