A final word

The last day of 2017, and as I started on January 1, I end it today at the gym. Nothing big or crazy about my workout. A fun day with my beloved landmines List and working at enhancing better form and technique followed by yoga with dear friends. I am reminded again and again how much room remains for future improvement.

I made huge strides and much progress in 2017. It was not so much transformative as educational and expanding my horizons. I lost some weight, gained some noticeable muscle definition. I literally worked my ass off to make these hard-fought gains.

And I loved almost every single minute of it. Maybe not in the moments of sweating and swearing frustration (there were many), but in the elation of triumph when I finally gained some mastery.

My evolution into humble gym badassery took tiny steps forward.

Despite all that, it has become apparent to me that further change is in order. No easy way to say this, but I am shuttering the blog with this final entry.

There are a lot of reasons why, yet none of them profound or even that interesting. Mostly, it’s because I’m reinventing yet again and hanging a new shingle. While that sounds really dramatic, it’s not. It’s just the last couple of months of not blogging and investing some time and energy in other avenues of my life have shown me that I want a different direction with my writing.

That said, come visit me at my newest venture, TheCookieDoughChronicles.com.

For those of you who have read, commented, followed – my deepest thanks. I love the community I have built, and I hope we meet again with my new venture.

 

 

2017 – Finality of training recaps

Okay, I’ve been MIA way too long for my own comfort. And here we are, final Thursday of 2017, final session of 2017 with fab trainer J.

It’s been 2.5 years of working hard at getting fitter, and it is a long war I am winning. I am so much better off than when I started and continue to maintain this buzzy excitement about the training and the practice and the overall results. No matter how long it seems to take, I have made a lot of inroads toward reshaping my shape. The results are not what I expected, but as I have learned throughout this journey, my initial expectations were based on faulty data and needed to be discarded before real work could begin.

In my fat loss group on Facebook, I made a really stark comment today in response to a friend complimenting me on my discipline and dedication:

I feel it came down to a choice of modifying my lifestyle or accept that I was sitting around waiting to die. When I look at it like that, another BAS (big-ass salad) with chicken seems very, very palatable.

I made the right choice. It’s been a long slog, and sometimes it felt like I was pulling several big weights along with me on the uphill battle. But to feel this good about myself and in my own skin: worth it.

I have ambitious plans for 2018, because frankly, I need to blog to truly feel the weights and measures of my progress. Plus I have missed it.

For right now, though, it has been a busy and somewhat sad time since last I was here. Unless something freakish happens in practices over the next few days, I close out another year completely injury free. Not just for this year, but the entirety of the 2.5 years since I began this adventure from couch potato to gym hamster.

I have also realized some deeper mindset gains, in that I have been able to take days off – as many as 3 consecutive days off – without a mental meltdown of any major proportion. The world as I knew it did not end. I returned to the gym and the equipment was still there (although I did immediately notice the gym sweat smell) and I had not completely forgotten how to wield my beloved dumbbells.

As for today, it was primarily a technical review. We updated my warm-up with new ideas and order of exercises I already do and know well. We reviewed some landmine movements and layered in some new, more technical cues into the mix. I occasionally still wonder what happens when I run out of new skill building. In my head that’s when we add more weight and I start relearning all over again under the new load.

I still love review days. I have learned to embrace rather than fear the trainer eye, which is no small cakes when I look back at the landscape of my journey thus far. Even my own eccentricities about what I think about while lifting or self-examination of where I am going wrong (this time) are positive pursuits, not occasions for crippling negativity and feeling like the village idiot’s dumber sister.

Those days are still prominent in my thoughts, even though I have moved so far away from them. I was telling a friend today that it is easy to unconsciously fall into the trap of thinking we are weak or less worthy or horrible people when faced with new obstacles and challenges that cause us pain or anxiety or fear. From very personal experience, I know how difficult the habit of a negative mindset is to replace with a more positive countenance. My awareness of my negative girl in her cage is important to maintain lest I become lazy and inadvertently free her to overwhelm me and undo all my hard work at the first opportunity.

As the year winds down and I look back at all we have done this past year, I find I have a lot more respect for my own ability. There were 106 training sessions in 2017, and I am very proud of not having had to cancel a single session or, to the best of my recollection, having had to request a reschedule. While I have not always been 110% into the session – I had occasions of not enough sleep, low energy, generally undefined malaise – I have shown up with enough time to warm-up appropriately. I have paid attention and I have learned. I practiced consistently on my own, enough to show definite improvement and advance to new and different challenges and move weightier weights to and fro. I have overcome so many big and little hurdles.

My forward progress with the better health quest continues.

I have also grown so much as a better, more well-rounded person. While I may be stronger, fitter, and overall healthier, I have also gained wisdom, insight, and strived to improve my standing as tribe in all the realms of my life.

With regard to 2017, it was a successful and satisfying year. I am looking forward to and eagerly anticipating all that comes to me in 2018.

The very BEST outcome of today? Another trainer’s genuine compliment on my emerging deltoid muscles. While not a fisher of positive reinforcement, I am also not immune to happy glow of spontaneous compliments. My method of just blindly working at trying to practice, trying to learn, trying to stick with it does not leave me a lot of room to stand around admiring my work in the mirrors. My style is more about when I randomly notice that something has changed. Maybe it’s the way my clothes fit or a new crease between muscles. Maybe it’s just the scale finally giving up and grudgingly dropping to a new lower amount.

I am really happy and content to feel good in my own skin. But to have someone say something nice about the work I am doing, it’s the BEST feeling.

If I don’t make it back here, I wish you all before 2018 dawns, I wish you all a safe and happy new year. I am tying up some loose ends with blog housekeeping and fully anticipate being back in business next year.

PT-83: Practicing wrinkles

I’m still working out issues with my blog. It’s a long slog, and so insanely frustrating. But a consequence of that is that I am learning an awful lot about the under-the-hood technicalities of owning and maintaining a blog.

Because of this inability to feel “heard” in the world at large, my writing has trickled down to a minimal few sentences that are laced with a “woe is me” tone to them. Or I send out massive texts with an edge of whining desperation. It does not help that my anticipated quiet Thanksgiving week for work-work was like exploding popcorn kernels left and right. It is a good problem to have, but I would like everything to just be neat, tidy, and work the way it is supposed to be working

Training continues, even if recaps have slowed to nonexistence. It has provided some opportunities for me to contemplate how to set myself up for writing in the new year.

The format I’ve been using works pretty well, but I need to tweak it a bit. I think.

But I’m still thinking about it.

There is a big, giant part of my brain that likes consistency and streamlined organization. I like things that are reliable and work the way I expect them to work. Same is true of this kind of blogging about training. I do this twice a week, with the same trainer. I always want to talk about the List of the day. If I have some big, little, or no breakthroughs I want my enthusiasm and excitement to bleed over and onto these pages. There is always a bunch of mish-mash thinking that may have little to do with what we did that day but everything to do with memory and remembering for the future.

My practice feels as if it has suffered in my blogging absence. While it may sound like blah, blah, and more blah to you to read, to me its notes on the experience that cements the instruction and brings back a broad range of little details that would be lost in translation.

Not blogging about it – I’m experiencing the “lost in translation” feeling of it.

While my inner negative girl might want to whisper that my lack of focus and memory is putting me into a position of losing my good standing in the training tribe, I know she’s full of shit. I still go to the gym. I still practice. I still work f**king hard and am putting forth the effort to improve.

And I am the only one this level of frustrated that I cannot recall all the interesting details I learn in session.

So yeah, my posts run longer than many blogs I read and follow, now or in the past. Perhaps I need to remind myself that comparison is the thief of joy in all aspects of life, even blogging. Having more or less to report and talk about is not a bad thing.

In that vein, I began a training recap on Friday and did not get it finished. But it was a good start.

From Friday, November 24, 2017 (PT-83)

While blog tinkering continues, so does the writing. I have some time today to write a recap, so I am taking advantage of it.

It is the Friday after Thanksgiving, and as seems to be a evolving tradition I was training with J. In my recap absence we have continued our quest to teach/learn new training techniques, and we are venturing forth into a new phase of increasing strength by focusing on intensity. Or so it seems, anyway. Honestly, November has been a bit of a mess with regarding to training and schedules. There is no fault in that statement either. J was away for a week on vacation for 2 sessions (Thursday one week, Monday the next), and I am the person who needs more structure and predictability. This week was Thanksgiving, so rather than getting back to normal Monday and Thursday, we were Monday and Friday. For whatever reason, it does not work as well inside my own head. Thankfully regularly scheduled programming resumes next week for a few weeks, until the Christmas holidays interrupt again for vacation and such.

I sort of hate the holidays. The weight of expectations associated with them would suffocate me if I allow it, and I do cling to my routines to help me get through the effusive and feels-fake happy-happy-joy-joy that seems to be pumped into the air around me. My plan is to keep my head down and to view the season as a bit of an endurance test with an abundance of flashing, blinking, twinkling lights that light up the nights. I am an enthusiastic consumer of holiday light displays and all the bright and shiney bling that accompanies it.

Sometime in November, we began this new phase of training where J is working with me on focus and intensity. It came up on Monday with upper body, where I really focus on pretensioning and feeling the weight move with the tension in the muscles working versus just whatever limb happens to make the process most expedient. I am doing a poor job of explaining it, but trust me, when you are in the moment with weight in hand, it becomes a lot more a self-explanatory and illustrative. It’s not a zoom-zoom-zoom, peppy-peppy pacing type thing either, much more slow, deliberate, and contemplative.

We started this newest training wrinkle last Thursday, emphasized and enhanced it on Monday, where it has caught fire in my imagination and daily practice thinking. To be sure, for me, this type of focus and intensity does not come naturally, and it feels like I may need a lobotomy (to cut away more natural inclinations) and a transplant (to input the new behaviors). Of course, that type of thinking and feeling is not new either; after 2+ years of training and learning with J, I am accustomed to feeling both inadequately prepared and completely empowered simultaneously.

It takes practice. At the end of every session, I realize that there is no natural talent involved here to learn and acquire new skills. I have the teaching, I can and will gain mastery. I just have to practice.

And as I am typing along, I realize this is not really a typical training recap. With the blog being kinda/sorta out of commission, too, it seems a good time to launch somewhere new. Yet I am still thinking about it. The framework is ready and posts could begin, yet I am not quite ready to completely abandon the very frustrating migration effort.

And now it’s Monday

Another training day with J. It was fun. It was exhilarating. It had more wrinkles. But mostly, it deserves it’s own post.

Giving thanks

Still tinkering with the blog and it’s become this big, ginormous messy project – and likely all my fault.

But today, I’m setting aside my frustration with myself and the technical aspects of the blogging process. There is so much more to be happy about that has nothing to do with the intricacies of WordPress.

I have actually missed writing. I have been away from it now for so long that I’m antsy to get back to it, back to sharing the little and big moments in my journey. There are moments – a lot of moments – when I feel as if I am backsliding faster and more forcefully because I am not downloading my thoughts and ideas here after sessions and workouts. Questions I may have become vaporized because my process for learning includes taking detailed notes. I could, and should, be doing that more. But something fades when I realize I’m not going to be publishing anytime soon.

While I don’t know if this post will be lost or disappear into the back-up, it is important to me to put something up today.

I was sort of making a mental list of what I’m thankful for this year.

Better health. At the top of the list, or the base of my pyramid, I am so grateful to be in good health. It’s been another year of consistently exercising and making better, healthier choices with food. And it’s showing on me physically as well as strengthened my mental and emotional frames of reference.

M. Without M, I would be more than a little lost most of the time. He’s a big part of what keeps me grounded and anchored to pursue my life. There is this small percentage of time that I think about life on my own (usually when I am having to negotiate something where my opinion feels absolute and irrefutable yet he has the balls to disagree with me) when I imagine life on my own and not having to negotiate when I know I am right, but the balance he provides far outweighs the instances of irrational disagreement.

My kids, all of them. My son and daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law are such genuine and amazing people in their own unique ways. I’m glad we’re family.

My tribe. I have suffered a few brutal losses in my tribe of friends the last few years, and I still feel those absences each and every day. Yet at the same time, I have met new people who add so much to my life and times. Far from replacements for those who have crossed into their next grand cosmic adventure, they are unique enhancements that bring warmth and joy. They teach me, they inspire me, they make me laugh and smile, and they make me want to be better.

Work. I have the best clients in the whole world, and I am humbled and grateful that they continue to choose me for their projects and trust that I will take care of their work. It is the quality of professional relationships that makes me happy about my career choice, and I hope to continue pursuing the potential pathways for a long time to come.

Sharing. It seems to me more and more that the world as a whole is losing faith or hope or both. I am not a particularly religious person, but I do feel a degree of faith in the possibilities of rising above and overcoming our individual challenges. For me personally, I’m grateful for opportunities to be a responsible community member and to give back or to share with others. Sometimes it’s money, sometimes it’s time, occasionally it’s advice, and probably too often it’s my personal opinions and outlook. The opportunities to make a positive difference do exist in my life, and if I am awake and aware, I will step up and do the right things.

It has been a nice day. The next phase of holiday craziness has already begun, judging by the overflowing parking lots we passed on our way home. The shopping madness has already begun. Not for us. I anticipate a pretty low-key, low-stress holiday season ahead.

Happy thanksgiving, one and all.

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11/23/2017 – M and I, embarking on our food coma.

 

Tinkering under the blog hood

Chatting with fab trainer J this morning, I verbalized a new epiphany about blogging here: it keeps me focused and on track with my objectives.

Small cakes in the epiphany universe, but through the past few weeks of hardly writing at all, I have become the incredible shrinking woman with regard to my better health quest. Not because I am faltering and not going to the gym or being mindful of my eating strategy, but because I have very gradually become more and more withdrawn and feeling boo-hoo blue about it. Not because I’m doing something so terribly wrong or reversed directions and am splattered all over the couch with favorite sugar addictions methodically moving from hands to mouth, but because I allowed myself to be distracted by other people’s problems and let that take away from my own more promising priorities.

Since today was our last training for the next week, I thought I would return my focus and energy on catching up around here AND returning to my daily check-in posts. Because frankly, I do a lot better when I write about it. No matter how busy I am in other aspects of my life, I can always find a few minutes to jot my thoughts and reflections.

Only as I said, I have been distracted by other people’s issues and trying to be a good and supportive community member. To my detriment. Either I fade away feeling like I am trying to extinguish wildfires by tossing single teaspoons of water at it or I am being smashed to smithereens by wrecking balls seeking care and attention and uninterested in doing that hard work.

Neither are good for my overall mental and emotional health. Me and social media: not a good fit. I have accepted it now and gone back to my 5-minute timer for Facebook a couple of times daily unless it’s something of interest, i.e., written by someone I know and whose thoughts and ideas interest me.

Only another item on my to-do popped up this month: returning to my pursuit of self-hosted blogging. I have been promising myself to get it done sometime before my next renewal, which is now less than 30 days away. While I know this is something I can and should learn to do myself, right now my time is more valuable than the cost of paying professionals to do the work for me. So, I expect to continue to be offline for the balance of this week while they pros move the blog.

And I wonder – what the Hell have I been waiting for to do this? On the one hand, I’m not superwoman; I have plenty of other revenue-producing activities that are a much better use of my time. Besides which – I’m unlikely to be moving the blog yet again after this, so I should leave it to experts … experts I can verbally eviscerate if they screw it up. But they won’t, and not just because they might be worried about what I would do if things do not proceed well.

Which means while there will be no new posts going up after this one, I will continue to be writing offline and publishing as quickly as possible, hopefully Saturday and Sunday.

Because I need this outlet. I’m far more successful and have a much better outlook toward my progress when I’m downloading the thoughts and emotions associated with it. Honestly, it feels (to me) like my distraction shows in my pursuits within the gym, in my focus and any determination I may exhibit to continue to push and to try harder. To say I am feeling rather negatively toward myself the last few weeks as I feel my dedication toward staying with it creep away is a lightweight understatement, but I know myself quite well and understand how much worse I can be when feelings of personal failure come into the mix. I’m human, and just like anyone else, I have a lot of days where the alarm goes off at 4 and I fleetingly ponder staying right where I am under the covers and blowing off practice. I haven’t, not really, but I’ve had low blood sugar incidents and not felt like my usual happy self. I’m not unhappy, depressed, or crying in my water bottle, but I feel off and can accurately pinpoint where it’s coming from.

So I expect the migration process will start this afternoon. Or my willingness to not change anything on the blog will start this afternoon. Hopefully the move will be completed quickly and any new “look” I have for the blog will happen in this timespan as well.

Fingers and toes crossed all goes as uneventfully as expected, and I look forward to seeing you on the other side.

 

 

Snippets

My car is in having its first service at 4911 miles. I purchased the car in April and finally just grew annoyed enough with the idiot light reminders to schedule and bring my car in today to get it cleared and off my to-to list. And jotting a few random things to share since a proper blog post is out there in the ether for me right now.

I could tell you about how busy I have been lately, but I hate that. It sounds to my mind as some sort of lame-ass excuse for why I am not getting my stuff done, including neglecting my blog. I have no less than 3 training recaps in progress, and it is not beyond the realm of reality that it increases to 4 with Monday’s session before anything gets completed and published. But I’m going to try very hard to not let it happen.

Part of my truth is fab trainer J is away on an eagerly anticipated vacay adventure starting Wednesday, so I will be completely off the training leash and on my own for a Thursday and a Monday. And in all honesty, I feel like I have been kinda/sorta on vacay the last couple of weeks myself.

Not his fault, not at all. I’ve enjoyed our sessions and worked hard at the review we’re doing, learned a boatload, put the old-is-new-again challenges into practice during my own time on the loose in the gym. While I took last weekend off due to an unexpected work tsunami – that I enjoyed to an almost embarrassingly geek-like degree – I don’t even care.

But it tells me that things are off-kilter and imbalanced. Not overtraining type imbalanced, but my focus is scattered and divided and I really, really needed to purge a lot of the distraction.

So i’ve been doing a fair navel-gazing self-examination and forcing myself to get back onto the schedule and routines that feel more normal and natural to me, including adequate amounts of sleep.

While I could be updating my in-process posts, I am presently typing from my phone and offering a brain-dump instead of the better health quest and what else is on my mind.

Me and social media – poor match. I belong to precisely 2 groups on Facebook: my fat loss group and another fitness-related group. Both are turning out to be very poor fits for my personality for different reasons.

  • The fat loss group tends to attract more attention-seeking sorts who are ultimately not ready to do whatever it takes to break the bad habits that made them fat. Not a good fit for me. When I was not ready, I was not ready, and I was keenly aware of how much whining and complaining I do/was doing about not getting with the program. Unfortunately after about 9 months of reading and listening and trying to participate, I’m pretty much done for the most part. I have no further good advice to offer, and while my empathy does still flare and ultimately bite me in the ass, my frustration and feelings are my own responsibility.
  • The fitness-related group is populated by other trainers, coaches, and people who are very into pursuing some sort of certifications and the daily challenges that the group’s leadership posts. There’s tons of pictures and videos of people swinging kettlebells or talking about their workouts or asking questions … and it’s just overwhelming. Plus, really not my thing. I’m a-okay with a quick and intense workout, but I’m not a quick and intense exerciser. I try to peppy pacing when the huffy-puffy List calls for peppy pacing, but as a rule I crave my own speed and pace. There is that, primarily. But then there are folks who are “new to kettlebells” and/or new to exercise in general or who have not touched a weight in year trying to pursue some of these hardcore challenges and daily workouts. While I shouldn’t care, I do; I cannot see to look away and adopt a laissez-faire attitude toward complete strangers’ efforts to do themselves harm. It’s a poor fit for me; I am learning nothing, feeling inadequate in my own efforts, and am frankly sick of having all this stuff staring back at me every time I log into Facebook.

So I have had to unfollow both groups. I was going to try to unjoin, but after some back-and-forth with one of the moderators, I gave up and unfollowed them. There are a couple of folks whose posts I might want to see from time to time, so I leave my options open.

Food issues never seem to end. In the last 24 hours, I have had 2 blood sugar crashes. Thursday night I was hanging at another gym with former work friends doing their version of a huffy-puffy List. It was a lot of fun, even if the program they were following made little sense to me. But oh well – I could at least dance to their tunes. At the end of it all, though, I was feeling light-headed and checked my sugar – at 61, I was pretty much crashed/crashing. I thought nothing of it, just figured my lunch and pre-workout protein bar had not taken me far enough – drank some juice and went home for a decent dinner. This morning, though, I crashed even harder at 52, and I had barely gotten started with my practice when it happened. So strange. No real rhyme or reason for it, but I am adjusting my pre-gym meals a bit to try to avoid such unpleasantness.

Managing expectations and disappointments. Not going to lie – I was really upset this morning to have my practice cut short by a sugar crash. It’s been months since it happened, and I thought (silly me) that I was past all that. When it happens I drink some juice to get back into normal range, then feel exhausted for the rest of the day. No question that going back to get busy with my exercise was not happening, and I am disappointed. I know shit happens – even my doctor says shit happens – but it’s hugely inconvenient and annoying. I could go back and eagle eye every single morsel of food that has pass my lips, but I don’t think it’s the salad or the chicken or the broccoli or the fact that there has been Halloween candy in the house (that I did not eat). Thus far I have successfully restrained myself from getting all obsessively compulsive about looking at my food intake and practices. But I am low-level thinking it over, because I have worked hard to become a person who exercises regularly and do not want to be derailed because I’m not fueling myself appropriately.

Mindset is a fragile thing. While I am working hard at stripping fat and strengthening muscles and (hopefully) getting slightly more bendy, I have also watch my thinking and viewpoints change as well. My confidence has soared, and I occasionally find myself thinking about how truly awesome sauce I am in various ways. Imbalance tends to upset my outlook and mindset as well. Negative girl finds wiggle room on the door of her box and fear and anxiety start creeping into my mind where it is not welcome or appropriate. I begin having doubts about my ability, effort, intensity, seriousness in pursuit of my better health quest, and the negative noise starts trying to infect me. I cannot allow that to happen.

And my car is done – all is well.

Except I forgot to hit publish. Back soon with training recaps. 

 

 

Obstacles

I had a text exchange with an online pal today about working with her trainer. At the end of their session on Tuesday, he told her they needed to have a serious discussion about her diet. It’s fascinating to me the different style of training relationships other people have with their trainers. For this pal, her guy is more of an accountability partner and suggester-in-chief with regard to her workouts. Very different than how I work with fab trainer J. Then again, I’m a little different in this regard.

But the exchange got me thinking. And rather than telling you all about the amazing session this morning, I wanted to capture this thought stream before it completely escapes.

The more time I spend working at improving my eating strategy for weight loss and better health lifestyle, the more I realize I do much better when I can address a specific obstacle about food, diet, exercise on a one-at-a-time basis. While it’s not always practical or possible, I’ve come to realize that gaining some mastery over all the little complications of adopting a healthier lifestyle does not happen all at once, at least not for me.

The easier parts were the healthier eating basics – cut out the junk (just don’t buy it), eat lots more fruits and vegetables (meal plan, eat at home, bring lunch), supplement with protein shakes, drink more water. All good things.

While I would also say become consistent about regular exercise, I was already doing that when I started my current eating strategy. For purposes of this post, I will confine myself to diet and food.

A few obstacles in my way right now:

  • Eating out just because or meals with friends.
  • The food concessions at special events.
  • Celebrations and special occasions.
  • Feeling the “deserve” whim because I have been good or I’m bored with my regular meals.

Each of these have their own triggers and emotions and become stand-alone obstacles in my forward progress. The holidays are also coming, and I’m already thinking about what I want to do, how I will handle the pushers and enablers of less-desirable-for-me food in my life.

Some of those obstacles I have mostly worked through, others will be addressed as they come up and feel like an issue to be addressed. Right now, I’ve fallen back into the habit of lunchtime convenience food with the demands of work. Rather than continuing with cans of soup and meat-and-cheese sandwiches from the deli, I’m going to experiment with making my own soup at home for lunches with my piece of fruit. It’s a small thing, but I’m playing the long game and upgrading my lifestyle habits for the balance of my life.

I often think I’m on a 7 days fast loss/20 days slo-mo loss plan. I have started, stopped, given up, restarted too many times to count over the last couple of years. With food and diet, sometimes I feel myself losing discipline and focus on just making positive food choices and meal templates and will go strictly compliant on counting calories and macros for a week, then slowly acclimate back to the habits of slo-mo loss mode. Since I’ve broken it down to “what’s bugging me this week?” I am doing far, far better with the balance. Frankly there is an emotional cost that I attach to falling off the wagon and then feeling as if I am watching it leave me sitting in the dust, so I have really focused on my personal “why” each time I feel myself falling into that dark abyss.

I am doing okay well with all this, and I am grateful every day for my less burdened frame and how far I have come in my lifestyle renovation. As I remind myself just about daily, I am in this for the long game that is the rest of my life.