If It Makes You Unhappy…Unfollow

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Many of us are looking forward to the end of 2018, which will forever be branded under the word “tumultuous”. I am one of those people.

But before this year of truly trying our patience ends, maybe think about also saying good-bye to what doesn’t fill you up, and I am specifically speaking to our tenuous hold concerning social media.

I know this is not a light bulb moment but you actually get to choose the accounts and people you follow on social media. Yes, I am stating the obvious, but just because someone “follows you” doesn’t mean you have to follow back.

Mind-blowing, I know.

Here’s the thing: social media can be a good thing in the right doses. But when you follow accounts and/or people who bring you down or don’t make you feel good about you, it is time to clean house with these accounts.

For example, I know that no matter what part of the world we are living in, there seems to be some upheaval. Do you really need to follow several media news outlets on Twitter? Do you need to constantly see what so-and-so is tweeting about in regards to said issue? Do you find after checking your Twitter feed and seeing that the same crap is happening, it is just a different day, feeling low?

Unfollow.

This doesn’t mean sticking one’s head in the sand and pretending that everything is fine, but you don’t need to follow EVERYBODY. The world will keep spinning without you needing to know what is going on every single minute. Your well-being will thank you. And if unfollowing all the news people, news outlets and people advocating for change is way too difficult, that is fine. Start with unfollowing one or two people/news outlets once a week and see how you are getting your information. See how it is making you feel.

Then keep pressing forward the next week with that unfollow button.

Say it is people on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook who are constantly talking about how much money they earn and you are over here wondering if you should turn on the heat or throw on another sweater and tough it out. You look at their fabulous lives and wonder why yours isn’t fabulous and then the cycle of feeling crappy rears its ugly head again.

Unfollow.

Seriously.

If these accounts are making you feel bad about yourself, feel good about yourself and unfollow.

If there are people whose blogs you used to follow but don’t anymore, but are still following them on social media, maybe that is another avenue to explore in regards to unfollowing. Maybe you used to be a mom blogger and now you are a personal finance blogger but you still follow all these mom bloggers/blogs from your past life, consider clicking that unfollow button.

Because here is the thing: social media, in theory, is supposed to make us happy. It is a medium for us to communicate with others and be happy about it.

If social media and the accounts you are following are bumming you out, take a good hard look at what and who you follow and what you are occupying your time with.

Really look at all of your social media accounts and think about 2019: do you really want to start the new year following people and/or businesses that you are truly not getting any value out of?

Less is more. Always.

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Looking For Wisdom In All The Wrong Places

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I am writing this post for you as well as myself…

There is a dissatisfaction permeating the very air around us. This isn’t a menacing thought or one stated haphazardly, but something that I have been thinking about.

You reach a certain point in your life and start looking backwards. “I should’ve done this differently” or “gee, I have not accomplished AT ALL, what I thought I would have at this point”.

Fruitless ruminating.

Social media doesn’t help because it seems that everyone else has it together. Fabulous lives with fabulous homes and fabulous families and fabulous kitchens with just the right amount of subway tile.

“What am I doing wrong?”, we think. “What is wrong with me?”, we wonder.

The answer of course, is nothing. Nothing is wrong with you. You are more than fine.

The problem isn’t necessarily social media either. I have met blogging friends in real life whom I consider friends, and that never would have had happened without social media.

I feel that as people striving to try and find our “why”, we are trying to find answers from people and things and gurus and everyone and their mother, when the answer is really within ourselves. No, I am not spouting some new-age mumbo jumbo, I am saying that we ignore our gut feelings and what we really want out of life because we are doing things because that is what we are supposed to do.

Take myself as an example:

Growing up, I was a smart kid. I got good grades, took an AP class when it was merited, got into college, graduated from said college with a Bachelor’s degree, followed the blueprint that was my life. What precise job I was supposed to hold, I am not sure. I took a mediocre job after college graduation, got raises that barely covered my cost of living, and eeked out an adult-this-is-supposed-to-be-what-it-is-like living.

In my spare time I read voraciously and occasionally wrote.

But all I really wanted to do is be a mother.

I had this epiphany the other day when reading a post from a woman who always knew she didn’t want children and how people keep hounding her about it and at the end of the day, it is her choice.

For me, it is always been the complete opposite. I always knew I wanted my own family, I always wanted to be a mother, and even more to the point, I always knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mother. I wanted to pick my kids up from school, bake chocolate chip cookies, go on field trips with the class, kind of mother.

This is what I always wanted.

And it clicked for me, why I never wanted some kind of professional career when I was younger, and why I don’t want one now. I think for the longest time, I kind of felt bad about that, like I had to hand in my feminist card or something, because I didn’t want to conquer the world. My generation was supposed to do it all, right? Well, I didn’t.

And the other day, after reading this woman’s post and her choices in life that had led her to this point in her musings, my epiphany non-withstanding, I realized that I have the life I have always wanted.

Yes, let me repeat that. I have the life I have always wanted.

It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, let me tell you. There is no sugar coating here. There are aspects of my life that I want to change and am putting in place, the proper tools to do just that. I still struggle with my depression, which is and can be, a daily battle. I lost my home years ago and still struggle with the guilt of that. My finances could be better, sure and living in a super expensive state comes with its own woes.

But at the core: I have the life that I want. I am married to my best friend in the whole wide world and I have two daughters whom I love fiercely.

Everything else will fall into place.

I have been, to quote a song that I love, looking for wisdom in all the wrong places, but that wisdom is really and truly inside of me. I have been on this earth for several decades now, and no one knows what is better for me, THAN ME.

Me. I know what is best for me.

And maybe deep down, I always knew.

Direction

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My friend Tanya wrote a great post this week about feeling a bit lost right now with certain aspects of her life. She spoke about having ideas and wanting to implement them but also lacking the motivation to do so. It is hard when you feel like other people are accomplishing things and you feel like you are just languishing.

My other friend Tonya (no relation, ha!) has moved from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho, looking for a new start to her life. She felt “stuck” here in California and thought a change of scenery would be just the thing to get her proverbial gears going and forge a new and interesting chapter.

I am totally rooting for my friends as they look to make changes in their lives.

But I also root for them not just because they are my friends, but because I can and do relate.

I feel like my generation (Generation X), was told that we needed to work hard to get into college. After college, get the super well-paying job, find the person you will marry forever and ever, buy a humongous home, have some kids, live happily ever after. The end.

Oh and throw in some female empowerment because The Spice Girls told us so.

Well, fast forward to the here and now and all of us Gen-Xers are in our 40’s and for many of us, we are saying what the hell happened? What am I doing? This life has not gone at all like I expected.

I did everything right.

I followed the rules.

I trusted my intuition.

I did what I was supposed to do.

Why am I unhappy?

And if unhappy is too strong of a word, why do I feel unfulfilled?

This is the part of the post where I say that I do not have the answers nor do I know anyone who does.

But I am putting this all down in writing because I need to get this out. I need to speak what is rolling around in my brain when it is not being diluted by super-happy images of people living their best super-happy lives on social media and/or television.

Because the truth of the matter is that life is not all unicorns and rainbows and I am sure by the time you are old enough to remember watching Molly Ringwald movies in an actual movie theater, you know this.

I think as women, we were sold a bill of goods. We are supposed to have a fantastic career, fantastic husband and children, fantastic home, fantastic friends and family, fantastic coming out of the wazoo, if you catch my drift.

When one of these supremely awesome fantastic things doesn’t happen, we wonder what went wrong with the plans. Here, let me look at that blueprint again, and see where I messed up, so I can course correct and get back on track.

But that is not how life is. That is not how life works. And it doesn’t take into consideration things that happen that are out of your control. We have had happen to us or know someone that it has happened to them, things that occurred that were out of their control, whether it is a job loss, depression, debt, infidelity, infertility, substance abuse, etc… These things that happen to people, are not in the blueprint that we created for our lives.

And yet they happen every day.

For me personally, I feel bad that we lost our home 8 years ago. When the recession descended upon our country, it took my house right along with it. I feel bad, not every day, but most days, that I do not have an actual home for my girls to grow up in, and that we are in an apartment and do not have a backyard. It kills me as a parent that I am unable to provide this for my girls.

And yet I know that losing my home does not define who I am. It does not define me as a person. But some days, the shame washes over me and I feel baaaaaaaad.

Just as having depression does not define who I am, neither should not having a home. I am blessed in other ways and I know that. But my point is, plans go awry. And that is where the lack of motivation, the inability to move forward, and the feeling of ineptitude to overcome, just come roaring in.

If you feel like your life’s blueprint has gone missing, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. I am here and I hear you.

I too, feel lost.

I too, feel unmotivated.

I too, feel unqualified.

But deep down , I feel the flicker of a flame. I feel this thing that just won’t let go. I feel this voice inside me that is screaming for me not to give up and to implement Phase Two, whatever that is.

Direction is moving forward.

My steps may be tiny, but my inner voice is mighty.

We can do this. Who’s with me?

 

No Spend September

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September means back to school and a renewal for many to turn the page. With that in mind, I thought September would be a good month for finances to be re-worked so to speak.

Quick Backstory: Because of the kind of health insurance we have, it didn’t cover all of my needs as well as the baby’s when I was pregnant. In addition, there were extra tests I needed during my pregnancy and more doctor’s appointments than usual and so we are still paying on medical bills from last year. Add to that, my husband had an emergency room visit during that time last year due to an allergic reaction he developed from taking a doctor-prescribed medication. ER visits are a cost onto themselves.

Suffice to say, we have all these 2017 medical bills that we are still paying for and we would like to make more headway with these. So a few weeks ago, I brought up the idea of a “No Spend September” to my husband and he was on board!

Basically, we are only spending money on “needs”, not “wants”.

We are spending money on:

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Insurance (car, health, etc…)
  • Phone
  • Internet
  • Groceries
  • Other bills not listed above

We are not spending money on:

  • Eating out
  • Random purchases
  • Anything else that is not a need

Any money saved this month, will be directed towards these medical bills.

Anybody else doing a “No-Spend September”?  🙂

I Don’t Know Who I Am Without You

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Really feeling the need to share what is on my heart right now…

As most of you know, I had a baby back in December. All was right in the world. I had my family, I was starting to eat right, I even managed to get in a few blog posts! I thought, hey, I got this! I can manage all of the things and I am Superwoman.

But the reality is, is that nothing was really okay. I thought it was and maybe on the outside, it looked like that, but it wasn’t.

It took my husband to point out to me my mood swings and constant crying and dark thoughts were all symptomatic of post-partum depression. I didn’t realize it because I didn’t have post-partum depression after the birth of my first child and also, I already suffer from depression as it is, and didn’t realize the volatility of my current situation.

If you are a new reader, then yes you may not know that depression is a part of my life.

I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that this wasn’t the case, but I know, it is true.

I don’t know who I am without you…

I had a tumultuous childhood. I had a lot of stuff happen in my life at a time when the real world shouldn’t intrude the way it did. I am not going to go into any kind of specifics because they are private and personal. But needless to say, I found myself “retreating” from others for reasons unbeknownst to me, and feeling sad for days at a time. These feelings would “magically” go away, until the next time they came knocking at my door, and I felt the sadness envelop me once again.

This cycle had been the blueprint for my entire life until one day, I broke.

In every way possible a person can mentally brake, I did.

And I realized that this thing, whatever it was, it was bigger than me. The beast needed to be tamed, and I needed help in doing just that.

With the help of my wonderful husband, a caring psychologist, and medication, I began to put my life back together.

This was years ago and there have been dark days since then and that is the truth. Depression doesn’t just “go away”. It is always there, for lack of a better term, “lurking”.  As people who deal with depression, we have to have tools in place, so that when the dark days come, we can better cope.

I don’t know who I am without you…

My whole life, whether I was aware of it or not, I have dealt with depression. I don’t know really, who I am, without it. It is a part of me, like an extra appendage.

All this to say that when I was made aware of this different kind of depression, this un yet mitigated for me post-partum variety, I was defiant and also at the same time resigned.

“I don’t have post-partum depression. I am fine!!!!”

“Oh no, not another depression. Why is this happening???”

Suffice to say, I realized that everything I was feeling, the everything is off-kilter feeling, the everything is wrong feeling, the uncontrollable sobbing, it was all true and I acknowledged it and attempted to move forward.

I am here.

It has been a tough road, I’ll be honest with you.

I have had to dig deep into reservoirs I didn’t even know I had. I had to trust myself and trust God. I have had to make changes in my life that are still new to me.

But I am here on the other side.

I just wanted to share a bit of me and who I am because I feel it is important. Blogs and social media tend to show the highlights and glossy side of life, but there is always an underbelly.

Thank you for reading ♥

I Could Never…

This post is 100% completely inspired by Courtney from Be More With Less

Courtney had this awesome email from last year that I have saved in my inbox for the past six months. I didn’t delete it. I didn’t archive it. I didn’t stick it into an electronic folder to be forgotten.

I kept it in my inbox, knowing it was important, and that when I had an opportunity, I wanted to write a post about it.

Courtney’s email talked about exploring crazy ideas and about how we have them, but tend to dismiss them. She wrote about the crazy ideas she had (she thought they were crazy at first) but then she thought about them, and followed through with them.

“Wouldn’t it be crazy if we downsized and sold our house” she thought. And guess what? Her and her husband sold their 2,000 square foot house and downsized and moved into a 700 square foot apartment.

“Wouldn’t it be crazy if I dressed with only 33 items for 3 months” she also theorized. And voila! Project 333 was born and it is utilized all over the world!

Courtney lists several other examples of how “wouldn’t it be crazy” sounded exactly that at first but ended up fulfilling so much more that what she thought possible. She asked her readers to think about things differently and see the possibilities in what could potentially be life changing opportunities.

Because the truth of the matter is, we are the absolute best when it comes to battering our own self-esteem. We see flaws in ourselves that no one else sees. And to be honest, sometimes those flaws are just figments of our imagination. We brutally attack our own strengths and tell ourselves that we could never do the thing we really want to do, because we simply aren’t worthy.

Pay attention to your self-talk.

You are not flawed. You are exquisite.

You are worthy.

If there is something in your life that you want to accomplish, I am here to tell you that you can make that happen. Don’t say “I could never…”

YOU COULD.

And you can. Challenge yourself and disregard those “nevers”.

Courtney had a list in her email for contemplation:

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Think about this list. Is fear holding you back? Is there something you want to change?

Is there a way for you to remove the word NEVER from your vocabulary and start moving towards your goal?

YOU CAN DO IT!

Turn “I could never” into “Guess what I just did!” and “Wow! I am so proud of myself that I accomplished that!”

You. Can. Do. It.

Currently: Spring Is Here!

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Happy April Everyone! 2018 is in its fourth month 🙂 Can you buh-leeeeeve it???

My oldest daughter is on Spring Break this week, so I’ll make this short but sweet!

What I Enjoyed This Past Month: Coffee and books. Period.

What I Am Absolutely Over: Too many things to list, but a few in no particular order: the news, stories that trend that are so stupid, that I get mad at myself for clicking on it, the news, and oh yeah, THE NEWS! The world has gone mad, hence my burrowing in coffee and books. It is literally the only things that make sense right now.

On The Healthy Living Front: I am eating carrots again! I know that sounds like a weird thing to say, but when I was pregnant, the baby had a serious aversion to carrots so I couldn’t eat them. They made me nauseous. It has taken me a few months postpartum to actually go to the refrigerator and deliberately pick them as a snack. Woo hoo for small victories!  🙂

What Blog Posts I Am Loving:

Stop Filling All The Spaces by Courtney Carver

I Lived on an Average of $31,000 For 7 Years in Los Angeles by Tonya at Budget and the Beach

How To Be Anxious by The Minimalists

How is everybody’s week going so far? Let me know!

Extra Square Feet = Extra Anxiety

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When I first started this blog, one of my first posts had to do with the size of our apartment at the time which was 530 square feet. This housed myself, my husband, my daughter, and my cat. And it worked for a while. Honestly.

But last year, we found out that we were expecting a baby at the same time my husband and I were starting to feel that after 18 months of cozy togetherness, the walls were starting to close in our beloved 530 square feet. So last spring, we upgraded to a bigger apartment and added another 150-ish square feet.

So now we are a family of four humans and one cat resting comfortably in 700 square feet.

Or are we?

Here is the thing: I absolutely try my darndest to limit what comes in our apartment. I freely admit that clutter and messes give me anxiety. I am also aware that I have two children who will inevitably make messes and am also aware of the hilarious dichotomy between the two.

Now to some, 4 people and a pet living in 700 square feet sounds just fine, while to others, the word “claustrophobia” probably comes to mind. And that is okay. This just happens to be our season of life right now.

I find that with the extra square footage that we acquired last spring, it is easier for items to make their way past our front door. It is easier for paperwork to pile up on the kitchen table and counters. It is easier to shove items in the master bedroom closet since it is bigger than our last one and now voila! items are now unseen.

And all of this ramps up my anxiety.

I understand that another reason we have additional items is because we now have a baby. Babies need clothing and diapers and wipes and…well you get it. They have things they need and all of this stuff has to go somewhere. My older daughter also has her items whether it is homework stuff, or her books or toys.

So being methodical about what comes in and out of our apartment is something that I continuously have to work on because I do absolutely love the size of our apartment. I love the natural light we get and I love all the trees I can see outside of my windows.

But I also need to find a healthy balance because anxiety is no joke. Clutter drives me crazy. I need to get a bit of Zen in my day-to-day, for reals…

Do you guys live in a space with a limited number of square feet? Any tips and tricks you can share? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

Capsule Wardrobes: A Love Story

I know capsule wardrobes get a lot of heat for being boring or too small, or how can one possibly get along with only two pairs of jeans or one black t-shirt?

But here is the thing that I think people may miss: a capsule wardrobe can have however many pieces you want. There is no arbitrary rule stating you must have X number of pieces or you get kicked out of the capsule wardrobe club. They don’t take away your minimalism fan club identification card, if you have more than one striped shirt.

A capsule wardrobe can have however many pieces that make sense for you and your lifestyle.

A few weekends ago, I did a massive wardrobe clean-out of my closet. You can read more about that here.

When I was done, every single item that I had placed on a hanger, was indeed a piece I would wear and wear often. Gone were the “just-n-case” clothes. Out the door went anything that I didn’t LOVE. Yes, the word love is in capital letters because that is how I had to feel about the item. I wanted to be able to get dressed in the morning effortlessly and seamlessly. No more hemming and hawing in the a.m. trying to figure out what fits and what doesn’t.

Every piece in my closet fits me and I enjoy wearing them.

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I also realized that living in Southern California does not require two separate seasons of wardrobes. I don’t need to have separate winter and summer clothing because our weather here just really requires a healthy affinity for layering.

For example, in the winter it can be in the 60’s during the day. But we will also have random days during winter where it can be 75F or 80F outside. And then at night, it can drop down into the 40’s. So being here just requires layering of clothes for when it is cold. No layering required if it is warm 🙂

Now that may not be the exact definition when it comes to capsule wardrobes but the beauty of the thing, is that it works for wherever you live, whatever climate you are currently habitating.

My learning of capsule wardrobes and how to utilize then came from the blog of Jessica Rose Williams and her printable helped me do my sorting!  🙂

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I also learned quite a bit from blogger Sarah Anne Hayes. She has this super informative article, Slow Fashion For a Simple Life, which I found to be super helpful.

“We associate comfort with things like yoga pants and oversized t-shirts and convince ourselves we just have to deal with pants that dig into our waist and shoes we can barely walk in. The truth is, you can look amazing and be comfortable if you choose to be. You don’t have to sacrifice function for fashion”. -Sarah Anne Hayes

For me personally, I guess I would call my style “California Casual”. My every day outfit is jeans and a t-shirt, and a pair of Converse. If it is chilly outside, I throw on a cardigan or a sweater/jacket. In the summer, my converse are still worn, but I also wear flip-flops. My jeans make way for shorts, and occasionally I am rocking a tank-top.

That’s it. No other bells and whistles.

I also tend to wear the same colors over and over again. I have reached an age where I know what colors go with my skin tone and which do not. I am also not a big color person to begin with, so neutrals have always been my go-to.

When I sorted out my closet, I stuck to a specific palate to make it easier to get dressed. I stuck to four colors as these are the ones I tend to wear over and over again:

• Grey

• White

• Blue

• Khaki or Olive Green

That’s it. Those are my four main colors. I do own a black cardigan as well a black skirt and even though those two items don’t fall into my main four colors category, that is okay. The skirt is an all-purpose skirt which can be worn to just about anything, be it church or a night out. I have owned this skirt for over 15 years and that baby has held up all this time! I am not going to get rid of it just because it isn’t a specific color that I normally like. I don’t like wearing dresses or skirts to begin with, so having just one skirt to fit all my needs, works perfectly for me!

My closet is functional and it actually is nice to have a bunch of empty hangers!

I know this post is super long, but if there is anything that I missed that you have questions about or are curious and wondering just how many pieces of clothing I actually own, please let me know in the comments!  😉

Minimizing: Wardrobe Declutter

So I mentioned last month that my goal for March is to simplify. March is the start of Spring here in the states and everything seems fresh and new. A perfect time to get rid of what’s been weighing me down.

I decided to start with my wardrobe.

I do not have a ton of clothes, nor are they super stylish (read: expensive). I am not a fashion blogger or fashionista by any stretch of the imagination. I do not own clothes with price tags still attached or super trendy accessories.

But…

I will hold on to “just in case” clothes. You know what I am referring to, right? “Well, I’ll keep these pants which are too big, just in case I go up a size” or “This skirt isn’t really my style, but I might have an occasion to wear it so I’ll keep it just in case“.

Sound familiar?

I also will tend to hold on to shirts that have long passed their expiration date. They are either stretched out of shape from repeated washings, have holes, stains, or their color has faded.

In order to simplify my wardrobe and get rid of items I no longer use, I read up on capsule wardrobes which basically are a set amount, a very small amount actually, of clothing/accessories that you use and most articles I have read, have it set up seasonally. Meaning, your capsule wardrobe for winter will look different when you put together your capsule wardrobe for summer.

But here is the thing: I live in Southern California. While it has been cold the past few days, our winters are usually very mild. Unless you live in a snow-prevalent area, your winter wardrobe isn’t anything to write home about.  I am sure most So-Cal’ers own several pairs of shorts and flip-flops.

So when I started to ruthlessly attack my wardrobe this weekend, I kept in mind several things.

One, is the item wearable? Does it have holes? Is it tattered?

Two, when is the last time I wore the item? I know most people operate under the six months rule, which states, if you haven’t worn something in six months, you are never going to wear it, and should just toss it. However, six months ago I was pregnant, so I can’t operate under that particular dictum.

Three, is the item comfortable? Is it itchy? Do I get hot wearing it? Is it too tight? Too big?

Four, do I like the color of the item? Does this color reflect well on me?

Five, do I genuinely enjoy wearing the item? Or am I just meh about it?

These are the criteria I came up with for myself when going through my wardrobe. And by the time I was done, I had three separate piles of clothes to donate.

Some are maternity clothes which I hope some mama-to-be out there will enjoy!

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I also got rid of some scarves I have had for at least 20 years. Me, who hates scarves with an ever-loving passion. I always feel like I am being strangled whenever I wear one. See also: turtlenecks. And again, I live somewhere where they really aren’t needed.

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I have empty hangers in my closet which makes me happy! I will be spending a bit of money to replace a white t-shirt I have that is stained, because I wear white t-shirts several times a week.

I am thrilled with my results from the weekend and I can’t wait to share with you some more tidbits I learned with this project!

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