Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Picnic magic

When I first thought of this topic, I was thinking sort of literal.  I thought it would be neat to talk about magic that could be tied into the food and accoutrements of a picnic.  In many ways, the process of preparing, setting out and consuming a picnic has a lot of ritual structure.  You are planning a meal, but you aren't going to be in a traditional eating place, so you need to make sure you have all your prep work done and that you don't forget something.

There is something very magical about picnics.  I've loved them since I was little.  I think that when we swap things up, even something simple like where we eat, it completely changes the experience.  Many times, picnics are as much about the location as they are about the food, and being out in nature makes me pay more attention to the experience.

A picnic can be simple or fancy.  It can range from pure finger foods and basic things to fancy meals with silverware and plates.  Some meals take more planning, if you are bringing foods that need to be kept cool or warm, or that need special dishes to eat.  But part of what makes a picnic special is that extra effort that was taken to make everything just right.

There is more to a picnic than just food too.  Whether you are using a picnic table or laying out a blanket, whether you are on a towel at the beach or around a campfire in the woods, it all feels very different from how we normally eat.

I think this is even more true in today's cultural environment.  Meals aren't always a regular 'sit down at the table and let's talk about our day' affair.  It seems to be more common now to eat while doing other things, while in different parts of the house, or on the run between different activities.  When we picnic, we are really taking the time and making the meal special.  Just that level of interpersonal bonding make the time special.

There is a lot you can do to magically enhance a picnic.  First, you will definitely want to pick the location with your purpose in mind.  What type of picnic are you wanting to have?  Is it a laid back and fun family outing?  Or perhaps a romantic pause, a break from the hectic daily grind and a chance to connect to your partner.

You will also want to consider how simple or fancy you want your picnic to be.  You can easily just pack up the food in a backpack and stop where you feel is right along your favorite nature trail, but you can also pack a basket with all the things you will need, bring blankets to lay things out on, and chairs (or pillows) to sit on.  If you know of a camping site or park with tables, you may need to reserve them.

There are lots of options for cloths to lay out, so it is quite easy to match your cloth to your purpose!  You can buy flat sheets or blankets (like for a bed) for a simple cloth, and can often find these with lots of pattern choices.  Another good option is table cloths, and if you like, you can find waterproof ones (which can be nice if you think the ground might be damp at all).

Depending on how discrete you want the magic of your picnic, you can really turn the whole process into a ritual.  A picnic makes a lovely basis for a ritual meal, especially for a Sabbat celebration.  You can tune everything from the setting to the foot to the seasonal theme.  As you prep the foods and pack, make sure to pack all your other ritual needs as well.  Then, when you are laying out your things, do it like you would set up for a ritual.  You may choose to lay out and prepare all the food before you start, or you can have the serving of the food be a part of your ritual.

If you are wanting to be more discrete, you can easily work in correspondences into things like dishes without anyone the wiser.  Pick foods and ingredients that work well together and that feed your magical purpose.  You can add tokens or symbols into decorations as well.

While there are many things you can do with an actual picnic, I also think the picnic metaphor is a great one for magic on the fly.  I tend to do most of my planned rituals here at home, though I also participate in several larger rituals throughout the year with local people.  But I have planned rituals on my own that aren't at home, and the picnic analogy works great when thinking about taking your magic with you.

Just like with a food picnic, you will want to make sure you have all the things you need, and that they are all packed in a way that makes them easily accessible and portable.  Just as some foods might require special considerations, so do several ritual items.

It is always a good idea to keep legalities in mind, when practicing outside of your home.  There are laws about how alcohol can be transported (I believe the laws in my area say that any open containers must be in the trunk or somewhere that the driver can't get to them while the car is in motion).  There are also often rules about carrying weapons (which many of my ritual blades would raise concerns with law enforcement I'm sure).  You definitely don't want to cause alarm in people who may come upon you, so you might need to change up how you normally work.

This could also mean that you might use other alternative supplies, besides changing up what tools you use.  At some points in the year, or in some places, fire might not be allowed, so if you normally use candles or incense, you may want to try other ways to work with those elements without risking open flames.

While at home you may use full sized things, for portable magic you may consider scaled down versions or even replicas.  I have done workings using laminated pictures for different purposes (as quarter representations or for the deities), and have recently made art journal pages that represent altars and tools both!  I really love painted stones, and could see a whole working set made with nothing but stones.

There are many ways to carry your magical tools when you work away from home.  The simplest way is to use a backpack, and to pack everything inside of it.  You might also consider a fabric roll (like the kind that artists use to carry a selection of pencils) for things like wands, or a fancy dice bag (which may have sections within a bigger bag for lots of smaller items). 

I have used a tackle/tool box before and really found that useful.  It  had hard sides so it protected all the things inside, and had an inner layer that lifted out so it was very easy to keep everything organized.  There are even more elaborate options, such as hard cases that fold out into small tables (which would make a really handy altar when you are out and about).

If you know what you are planning on doing, it is much easier to plan what you might need, but I have also found it nice to have a basic set of things that were pretty much ready to go at the drop of a hat.  I find there are certain things I use all the time (salt, candles, favorite stones) that I would want to have if possible.  I have several small boxes with compartments, and have made portable magic kits in them.

When I know I want to bring specific things with me, I will often package them up in either containers with compartments or small plastic bags.  I try to keep things as waterproof as possible, just in case!

The final thing to remember when you are done with your picnic, whether it is of the food or magical variety:  always pick up after yourself!  You want to plan ways to take away any trash or leftovers you might have.  If you have things that can be safely left out (like extra food), then you may wish to leave it as an offering.  But remember that other people may want to use the space as well, so be sure to put it somewhere considerate (don't just leave food out on the picnic table or chalk drawings all over the benches).

Picnics can be great and magical things.  They can be a lot of fun, not only to plan, but also to participate in.  With a little planning, you can make a lovely experience and not miss the comforts of home (much).  And the benefits of stepping outside for food or magic can be amazing!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


I have a sort of strange relationship with money.  In a lot of ways, I am very good with money.  I don't spend a lot, and when I want something big or nice, I have no problem saving up money until I have what I need to get it (as opposed to buying things outside of my means or using credit for things that I just 'want' and don't 'need').  But, I also typically don't have a lot of actual money.  On any given day, I will probably have less than $20 in my wallet (and if I don't have the cash in my wallet, I don't spend money).

Of course, I am only talking about fun money here.  We have money in our accounts, and I go grocery shopping and pay bills and do all that other money stuff every month.  So the essentials get handled, I just have this strange outlook when it comes to spending money.

I sometimes have odd moments, where someone will mention that they just found out about a thing and had to have it, so they put in an order or bought it right then.  Or that they are out of spending money 'for the month/week' and will have to wait until next month/week to get something.  While I am starting to build up some personal income (with things like Patreon), this is sort of a foreign concept in my daily life.  For most of the past decade, I haven't had any sort of regular personal income, so either I had money or I didn't, but money was never something I planned on having.

We have this concept of wealth and money as an indication of how successful you are in life.  And of course money gives you opportunities, many of which you can't have otherwise.  It allows you to purchase things you may want or need, but more importantly it allows you to have experiences.

In some ways, I am a stuff person.  I love certain kinds of things:  books, tarot cards, games, dice.  These are mostly things that I always want more of, there are always new ones I would love to have and work with.  I enjoy other things in more limited ways:  clothes, nail polish, food (as in more splurge food instead of just basic food).  These are things that I very much enjoy, but I don't typically spend much time looking at things I might want to have.

I don't have a lot of regular personal expenditures.  I don't wear makeup or perfume every day.  If I am on my own (which I am a good chunk of the week) I don't eat out or order in.  I often go months without spending any 'extra' money at all.

And what I have come to realize is that there are lots of ways in which I have a ton of abundance in my life, that I sometimes don't appreciate.  It's not that I feel like my life is lacking, but more that I don't stop and take the time to really be grateful for all the things I have.

I have pretty broad tastes, so it is easy for me to find things that I enjoy, which means that there are always tons of things to keep me busy.  I own more books that I can read (in a lifetime if you count digital books).  I have more games than I have time to play.  I actually have quite a lot of time on my hands that I can fill with whatever I wish to do.

While I appreciate high quality things, I can also find joy in simple things.  I do art, and most of my supplies are things that we had on hand:  old school supplies, free magazines or catalogs, dollar store paint.  What makes art fun for me is the process more than anything, so simple supplies often work just fine for me.

I am blessed in that I have (mostly) good health.  I have a wonderful family that cares for me, so even when I am under the weather, I feel safe and secure and well taken care of.

I think that it is easy to put too much focus on stuff and money when we think about how blessed and abundant our lives are.  But money is nothing but little pieces of paper that we have said are 'worth' something.

When you think about the abundance in your life, don't think about the cash you have.  Think about the things in your life that bring you joy!  Think about the experiences you have, the friends that are part of your life, the things that make you smile.

If you don't feel like you have abundance in your life, look to see where you can bring in more joy!  Find things that make you feel happy, and work them into your life.  Try new things, to see what might work for you!  There are lots of ways to fill up your life, even if you don't have cash to spend.

There are a lot of workings out there for abundance, but most focus on monetary of physical things.  There is nothing wrong with working to earn more money or get that brand new outfit you want!  But I really feel that true abundance is the feelings behind all of that.  You want the money because it lets you feel free (to buy whatever you see that you like).  You want the outfit because it makes you feel good or powerful or pretty or whatever it makes you feel.

But when we start to look beyond the physical, we can uncover the roots of our abundance.  We can see what the physical things bring into our lives, and really embrace those underlying emotions.  This can be especially necessary if we find ourselves constantly chasing 'new' stuff for that initial rush of having something new...but then we need to get the next new thing as that rush starts to wear off.

It can also be easy to equate gifts with affection, and we definitely do use gifts (whether it is something we bought or something we made) to show how much we care about someone.  Whenever we look at something someone gave us, we are reminded about them and that they liked us enough to gift us.

When we find ourselves feeling that emptiness, that sense that our life is lacking, it can be helpful to take stock.  Look at the different areas of your life, and see what you have and what you feel you need.  But make sure you look below the surface, look beyond that basic things in your life to the energy that runs below it.  Think about the ways in which your life is rich, even if those ways aren't obvious.  And spend some time really letting all the blessings in your life, no matter how small they seem, sink in.  Wrap yourself up in them and keep reminders around you, of all the ways in which abundance touches you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Prayer flags

This is the time of year when I think about flags more than I usually do.  Often when we think of flags, we think about our country flag.  We may also think about flags that are used on ships, whether it is a flag used to communicate messages over large distances or simply flags used to identify the ship and it's purpose.

One of the distinctive qualities of a flag is that it is used to represent an idea.  Often they indicate that one thing belongs to or identifies with a group or person.  We use flags to represent clubs, in parades or other large group gatherings or that we personally support the person or thing depicted on our flag.  Flags can represent concepts, even as symbolic as letters or warnings (like the Jolly Roger or flags that were raised over a household to indicate there was sickness inside).

Flags make a beautiful addition to our practice, in that we can create flags for many different purposes.  Not only are they beautiful, but the represent things that are important to us.  We can fly flags for the deities we work with, for the elements when we cast circle, or as part of our spell work.

I have a small set of Tibetan prayer flags that I received in the mail, simple paper flags on a string with block printed designs on them.  The paper that came with them said that when the wind blew through them, your prayers would be carried away on the wind.  Of course, I hung them inside so the wind that moved them was mostly the wind of my own creation...I would blow on them when I had a prayer to send out.

One of my favorite novel series (The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind) has a character that wears a prayer dress, which has small scraps of cloth all over it, each one was added to her dress by one of her people, so that when she went out into the world she literally carried their prayers with her.  I always thought this was such a beautiful idea.  I have this vision of making a prayer belt or prayer cloak to add to my ritual gear, where I can add on prayers or have other people add prayers, that I then carry with me.

I think what really makes something a flag in my mind is that it hangs up somewhere, wind can move it, and that it represents something.  Many banners are a variation of flag.  We use banners for celebrations and the like, why not for ritual as well!  You could create a flag that represents the celebration (for things like Sabbats) or purpose (for spells), and then have it flying while you cast circle.  Even after the ritual is over, the flag could be hung outside (from a tree) or inside (on your wall or from your altar), and when you want to refresh your working, you could make sure it is out where the wind can catch it.

I also really like the idea of worship flags.  Making flags for the different deities you work with can be another version of a deity statue, in some ways more portable (definitely less breakable than many statues).  A worship flag could be painted, embroidered, quilted or printed.  You can pick a single image to represent your deity, or have several symbols.  You could even just write their name out on cloth, if that works for you.

If you have a permanent altar, but work with different deities at different times, you can use your flags to represent this.  You could also make flags for the different seasons or Sabbats or moon phases, to tailor your altar to what you are working on.

The simplest flag is simply a piece of cloth with several holes or loops along one side (to be used to hang the flag with).  But you can absolutely make your flags fancier by adding on trim or using loops to hang them from wooden dowels (which could also be embellished).

Making a flag for a particular working might incorporate symbols or words to represent different aspects of what you are doing.  If your working involves a particular deity, you might include their name or a symbol that is dear to them.  You can work in colors that represent the elements you are drawing upon.

I also don't think things like prayer flags need to be fancy works of art, so if you don't feel like you are artistic, don't worry!  Think about a lot of country flags that use very simple symbols and bold colors to represent the country.  Likewise, your flag could be a couple of symbols painted on in carefully chosen colors.

One simple way to mark shapes on cloth is to make stamps.  You can find a simple shape or symbol you like, and trace or print it onto paper.  Then get a potato that is big enough to hold the shape, and cut it in half.  Place your paper on the potato and carefully cut out your symbol, cutting away any potato outside of the outline.  You have now made a basic stamp that you can paint and press onto your cloth to stamp the picture onto it.

You can also make very personal flags by laying out your hand prints or foot prints.  For a spell working, you could make your paint a part of the working, not only picking the color, but adding herbs or other components to the paint, and then using it to make your flag.

If you want more complex images, consider checking out thrift stores and looking for tee shirts or other printed cloth with images that work for you.  You can cut out the ones you want and either sew or glue them onto your flag. And of course, you can add things like glitter or trim!

We fly flags to show the world what we believe in.  We fly flags to declare our allegiance.  We fly flags to get our message across.  What flags will you fly?

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Goddess in America (review)

The Goddess in America  (link to Amazon page)
by Trevor Greenfield

There are a lot of books out there that speak about the Goddess in her many forms, but The Goddess in America looks at the Goddess from a specific viewpoint: that of the American. Speaking as an American, we have a national identity that is one of cultural melting pot. With many Goddesses being closely entwined with the culture and lands they belong to, it can be hard to find the right Goddess to connect with.

One thing I really like about this book is that it talks about some very hard subjects right from the start. While not everyone who works with Goddesses is Pagan, I am, and I do find that I am drawn to connect with not only the land I live in, but also the land where my ancestors are from, and even sometimes cultures to which I have no historic or blood ties, but rather a deep spiritual connection that I want to explore.

But for many people, this is a very touchy thing. Many people feel that in many ways, deities belong to a culture, and that those who are not steeped in the culture will not be able to fully understand or properly work with them.

Unfortunately, this leaves many of us in a place with no deities of our own. While I am half-Chinese, I wasn't raised in the Chinese culture. So what do are we to do, those of us who feel a calling, or are drawn to different Goddesses?

This book seeks to offer up different perspectives on how this may be approached. It examines the many ways that Goddess manifests in America and to Americans, and the ways in which Americans may connect with her.

The book itself is divided into four main sections. The first deals with Goddesses native to the land. The second looks at Goddesses that we may be tied to through our ancestry, and how their worship followed the people who came to this country. Then there is a section on how different categories of people might relate to the Goddess. And finally a look at how our modern viewpoint has changed how we approach the Goddess.

Each section offers several articles that give different perspectives and insights into how people are working with and understanding the Goddess. The reader is offered not only basic information, but food for thought. They are invited to consider their own thoughts on things and how the different visions of the Goddess might manifest in their own life, and what influences she may be drawing from.

When thinking about Goddesses native to the land, there is a lot of history to work through. But for many of us, this is our home, this land is the only land we have ever called home. The Goddesses who were here before our ancestors may call to us and we may not know how to respond or where to look for more information. The articles in this section offer an introduction, not only to some of the Goddess stories, but also the role they played in the lives of the people who worshiped them.

I enjoyed that South America was not forgotten either. I feel that the influence of Goddesses from South America reaches up and touches us through the people who have immigrated North, and these Goddesses embody part of what I feel is the spirit of America.

The section on migrating Goddesses starts with an article that looks at cultural appropriation, which I feel is something that deserves more discussion. This has become a huge hot topic within the Pagan community, and as it is expressed in this book I think it highlights one of the biggest issues that is often overlooked when people talk about appropriation.

I definitely identify as American, and I think that is a sort of culture all it's own, but I wasn't raised with strong cultural ties beyond that. By many cultural appropriation arguments, I have no rights to any cultural deities because I don't have those cultural roots. This is not a standpoint that I agree with at all.

I think we all are called by many different things, and it is through exploring where we are drawn to that we find the deeper meaning that makes our lives full and uniquely our own. What I really loved about this article on cultural appropriation is that it addresses the fact that we, as Americans, might not have any strong cultural upbringing, and yet may feel a need to explore cultures that we have blood ties too or deities that live in the lands we live. In light of that, the article offers up suggestions on how to explore Goddesses and cultures in a way that is respectful.

Another very deep question that is explored in this section is whether or not Goddesses themselves can migrate. Can we feel the presence of them in a land that is not their own? Do they travel with their people as they moved? This is something that I don't think has an ultimate answer, but many people feel the presence of Goddesses that originated elsewhere very strongly here in America.

I found the next section really interesting. I think that it can be hard for many people to start working with Goddesses because we live in such a masculine centered world. Many of us grew up only knowing of divinity in a male form. We may struggle to find our connection to the Goddess, or think that Goddess is a little woo-woo.

These articles explore several different ways for people to understand the Goddess in her many faces. And I really appreciate that they look at the Goddess in more than just a spiritual light. The Goddess has been a symbol used politically as well as psychologically, and there are a lot of really good ideas and concepts that center around these aspects of Goddess. I also like that Goddess spirituality is explored from different religious standpoints, so people who identify as Christian but still are drawn to the Goddess are offered ways in which they can connect to the divine feminine without stepping outside their faith.

In some ways, I think the final chapter might be the most controversial, especially for many modern Pagans. Pop culture crosses some lines that many Pagans have fought very hard to draw. We want our beliefs and practices to be taken seriously, and it can be hard sometimes to explain how ancient beliefs and modern culture can work with each other and don't have to be at odds.

One thing I found particularly fascinating was looking at the usage of the word Goddess in reference to non-traditional deities. Specifically, naming women (whether they are alive or important figures in history) as Goddesses. This is another place that I think has no absolute answers, there is no hard right or wrong way to use the label Goddess.

The book finishes off with a look at nine amazing women in American history, what their role was, and how you might work with them. I think it was a very powerful highlight of the role women have played in America but also how we can see the women around us as embodying different aspects of the Goddess. It provides a framework for working with other historical heroes that you might be drawn towards.

I think The Goddess in America is a unique book that explores a lot of ideas about working with Goddesses as an American, but even more than that, I think it can be used as a launching point for anyone seeking to explore connections that they have with the Goddess in whatever form they experience her in. It is thought provoking and encourages you to really examine what you believe and why, and to think about how you can embrace the Goddess as she calls to you. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the Goddess, especially if you are struggling to figure out how to connect to a Goddess that may have originated far away or from a culture that is not your own.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Self-care is a sort of tricky subject for me.  I have written before about my thoughts on the term 'self-care' and how it many times feels like a chore.  There are a lot of aspects of self-care that I think are more accurately labeled Self-Joy because they are really about more than JUST taking care of basic needs.  For me, the difference between self-care and self-joy is in degree.

The mental image I love is that of filling up a cup.  If you think of the cup as a container for your energy, you want to fill your cup to overflowing.  This way, you can give from the overflow, without depleting yourself.  Self-Joy is what fills your cup, but self-care is what keeps the cup from being broken.

When we neglect self-joy, we may find ourselves 'running on empty'.  We may be tired or worn out, but many times we can just keep trucking along.  We may be going through the motions or not able to really shine, but we can keep putting one foot in front of the other, we can manage our days and our tasks, and we can make it through.

When we neglect our self-care, we have not only let our cup empty, but we have ignored the signs and let cracks form.  Even if we start pouring energy into our cup, we now have to work harder and put more in because we have these slow leaks that let the energy seep out.  Worse, if we continue to ignore the cracks, they can get worse, and eventually our cup can shatter.

For me, this is what self-care is about.  And in many ways it is a chore.  Self-care is all the things that we know we need to do to take care of our selves.  It is the things that may not be fun but are absolutely necessary.

As adults, we have the ability to choose to honor our self-care and be responsible and take care of our selves, or to do things we know aren't good for us (but may be more fun).  It is often literally up to us to make the hard choices, to set boundaries, and to do the things that are good for us in the long run.

In some ways I am good at self-care.  I am pretty aware of my self and my body and what I need.  I have a high sleep requirement, and I know this.  If I push myself and don't get my eight hours a night, everything in my life suffers for it.  I can sometimes manage a few days, but if I am constantly pushing that edge, then I will be miserable, I won't get things done and I will be grumpy (therefor making the people I care about in my life miserable too).

I also know that my body likes movement.  While many of the things I enjoy doing (playing games on the computer, watching shows/movies, reading books) are pretty sedentary, when I go for too long without doing some kind of physical exercise (even fun stuff like dancing!), my body will start to ache and I will just hurt.

And I know that my digestion doesn't tolerate tons of rich foods, lots of meat or too much sweet/salty stuff.  I suffer if I eat too much dairy.  I feel miserable if I overeat and am too full (or if I wait too long to eat....I am a grazer).  If I eat too much sweet stuff or too much salty stuff, the tastebuds in my tongue get over sensitized, and one will get all swollen and make eating anything that isn't very bland sort of painful. 

But even with all of these reminders when I am not taking care of myself, it is easy to slip up, to not be mindful of my self-care.  And once those cracks start forming in our cup, we really have to work harder to keep them mended so they can heal.

When my grandmother was in the hospital once, they told her that for every day she had been bedridden it would take her two days of physical therapy to build up her strength just to get back to where she had been before she was hospitalized.  And this seems to be fairly true in other situations.  It takes more effort to fix things that have been broken than it does to maintain them.

I have a lot of stubbornness, which works both for me and against me.  A friend recently told me that I was someone who kept commitments.  If I said I was going to do something, then it was going to happen, no matter what got in my way.  This is absolutely my stubbornness coming into play.  And it is something I am very proud of.  I like that I am dependable, and that if I give my word that I will do something, then it will get done if it is at all in my power to do so.

However, because I know that, and I know how hard I can push when I have to, I also have the tendency to procrastinate and then feel pressured to get things done to make my own deadlines.  In addition to these blog posts, I write a monthly story for my Patreon page, and I have had to write furiously several months because I kept putting off writing until the last week when I absolutely had to get things done to finish in time. 

I try really hard to manage my self-care, but too often I find that I am doing the bare minimum.  I know what I need and I do what is necessary to meet those needs, but I don't often go beyond it.  Even knowing that doing a bit more would make me feel even better, would tip over into self-joy and would help me fill my cup, I still find that I struggle to go that extra yard.

I am starting to realize, though, that what I am doing is like treading water.  I may be staying afloat, but I'm not going anywhere.  I don't think that it is enough to not be drowning.  I have dreams that I want to follow and bigger goals that I want to work on.  And if all my energy is devoted to this cycle of avoidance and then trying to catch up, I am never going to move forward.

I was reading a novel last night, that talked about this very idea.  The character was plagued by physical needs, that would literally hijack her body if she didn't take care of them.  But as she grew, she got more control.  She thought it would mean that she would eventually not have those needs anymore, but what it actually meant was that she wouldn't get the smack upside the head to take care of would all be on her. 

And I think that is something that I don't always take ownership of in the way I should.  It is my life, and my body, and my time and my energy.  Each choice I make, throughout my day, leads me to where I am at the end of the day.  If I choose to goof off, then I am setting myself up for having to work twice as hard to catch up later.  If I don't do the things I really want or need to do, they don't get done, and I may miss out.

Sometimes we don't have a choice in life.  Sometimes life smacks us and our cup gets cracked, and we have to do the best we can to adjust.  But we also need to stop dropping our cup because we just weren't paying attention.  We need to check in with our selves, and keep an eye on our cup!  Every day, we have a new opportunity to make sure our cup is whole and being filled.  If there are cracks, we can tend to them, so they can heal.  But we have to open our eyes, and really look, or we won't have any clue what we need to do to fill ourselves up.