Always follow your heart

“What if?”

Those words will kill you over time.

They’ll slowly turn into “could’ve, would’ve and should’ve.”

When I was a youngin’, I hated the idea of not knowing something. It never sufficed to be merely told an answer. I had to go there to know there.

This got me into a lot of trouble and, as a result, I was grounded a lot. In the same breath, though, I learned a lot, too.

Regret was not a word I wanted in my vocabulary even as a child. Granted, I didn’t understand the word regret, but the concept was all too familiar to me.

You get one opportunity in your life, maybe two, but two tops. If you don’t take the shot, the answer will always be no. You will wonder, “what could’ve happened?” and you’ll never know.

I can’t live with what ifs. I can’t live with, “could’ve.”

I have many pet peeves, but my biggest pet peeve is “should’ve.”

When someone tells me they “should’ve” done something, I get aggravated. Are you unable to take the shot now? If you aren’t, then you should do it now. Don’t waste another minute in turmoil—just do it! If you can’t do it, then take it as a lesson and do everything you have to do when you get the opportunity.

How can you live any other way?

If you follow your heart/gut/feelings, you’re bound to live a good life. You will get hurt, you will be disappointed, but you won’t have regrets. You’ll always know. Trust me when I say I’ve been disappointed, I’ve been hurt, but I could die tomorrow and I’d have no serious regrets. Sure, do I regret maybe giving people too many chances, or do I regret staying in a certain job too long, yes. That doesn’t keep me up at night. What would keep me up at night is wondering if I let someone go without making an effort.

This isn’t exclusively about The One That Got Away (though, no one can get away if you live the way I do, because then they weren’t The One).

No, this extends to everything in your life.

If you’ve always wanted to be a doctor, then get your butt in school and be a doctor. Who is stopping you? Okay, financial issues? Go back home. Live with your parents, explain it to them, take out the loan, and do what you have to do.

For me, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write books on top of books. I’ve written two full-length pieces. Sometimes I act like it’s not a big deal, “anyone can do it.”

Maybe anyone can, but not anyone does. I have a lot of determination. I’m dedicated to one task, and I get the job done. I start a lot of projects, but when my heart is in something, I get it done. It’s all I think about. When I wrote Love, Ava, I thought about it every day. Every run was plagued with thoughts of her journey. Everything I did inspired me to finish that novel. So, yes, most days I act like it’s nothing, but occasionally, I pat myself on the back (in private) for staying the course.

My next novel isn’t as inspired, but I’m a few chapters in, and I will finish it.

When people tell me they don’t have a passion or they don’t have a goal, I don’t really understand it. I’m driven to express my imagination. Whether anyone likes it or not isn’t really my concern (though, it’d be nice to be a best seller someday LAWL!). I write, because there are ideas that need to come out. I’m inspired every day to write something. Most times it’s just a short story, but that’s something.

I can’t say how anyone else should live their life, but I will anyway.

Follow your heart. I think if you always go with your heart, it will never steer you in the wrong direction. Like I said, you’ll be disappointed, things won’t go your way, but nothing good comes easy.

People will judge what you do regardless, so do what you want and forget anyone else. They don’t pay your bills, they don’t help you sleep at night.

Don’t turn 30 with a regret. Don’t turn 26 with a regret. Don’t turn any age and wonder “what if I had just…”

Just do it.

One (serious) thing to note: some people will envy you for your gusto. Some people will have a hard time swallowing the fact that you know who you are, what you want, and how to live. For whatever reason, they don’t know what they want, they don’t subscribe to the way you live (following their own heart), and they’ll feel inferior to you or insecure (sounds crazy, but you’ll see).

I haven’t met all of these people, but the few I knew were confusing and an important part of my life (at first, anyway). In the beginning, they’ll find you interesting—people are attracted to something different, but after a while, they’ll start to feel insecure around you.

Again, some people don’t trust their own heart or their own feelings. I don’t understand it, but they’re insecure around someone who knows what they want, and someone who has no qualms going into battle for it.

It’s a weird feeling. It’s not all of a sudden, but you’ll slowly start to feel judged. For instance, when you talk about an accomplishment, or how you’re going to tackle the next obstacle in your course, they’ll seem irritated or disinterested.

Eventually, they’ll say something rude, and that’s when you’ll be shocked. “Excuse me?”

That’s what I’ve said. Then you’ll want to defend yourself, but don’t bother.

But no, the good in you will want to understand where their insult came from. You’ll wonder why anyone would insult you over doing what you want, being able to, and knowing all that you’re capable of. It’s not like you’re shouting from rooftops, you’re just being open with someone important to you.

One day, though, it’ll dawn on you. It’ll hit you like a sack of bricks off the Empire State Building.

Insecurity.

If I could change one thing, I’d have said, “I’m sorry that you’re insecure and have no ambition. Don’t take your self-pity and self-loathing out on me.” Then I would’ve disappeared.

These people don’t have anything going for themselves and find you threatening. God forbid you excel at something you want in your life—you’re passionate about—while they wither away in their small town and do nothing with their lives.

This has happened to me a few times.

Word of advice: you’ll never forget these people, but you will use them as motivation (as if you need any heh). Let their negativity, their insecurity, their unaccomplished weak hearts be the fuel to your fire.

Don’t let their what ifs, their should’ves, make you doubt yourself or your goals.

Believe me: if you’re anything like me, these people will temporarily shock you (just their stupidity), but you will bounce back higher than before.

You will feel alone at times. You may doubt yourself occasionally. You will wonder if maybe you should just quit, because what’s the point.

Your happiness. Always do what makes you happy. Forget anyone else. Your career, your dreams, your goals, they won’t wake up one morning and say, “I found someone I like better than you” or “I don’t love you.”

Your life will be there for you, because you make it what you want.

Here’s a quote that resonates with me more than any other. I found it when I was fourteen, and I’ve carried it in my wallet for the last 12 years.

“Those who have spontaneous feelings can only be themselves. They have no other choice if they want to remain true to themselves. Rejection, ostracism, loss of love, and name calling will not fail to affect them, but once they have found their authentic self, they will not want to lose it. And when they sense that something is being demanded of them to which their whole being says no, they cannot do it. They simply cannot.” – Alice Miller

Always follow your heart.

You’ll make it, and you’ll make it well.

Decent human being etiquette Pt. 2

My best friend recently wrote on the topic of dating. I hate dating. I don’t date. I’ve accidentally been roped into dating, but I’m not touch and go. I can usually tell if I like someone within the first few seconds of seeing them.

Whether I continue to like them or not depends on more time spent, but I’ll know right away whether I’ll want to invest time or not. From there, I get involved or I don’t. It’s cut and dry. It’s practical and nobody gets hurt.

It’s a shame that not everyone is like this. I think it’s absolutely disturbing that I’m even writing on this topic. I guess I thought that people were always direct in affairs of the heart.

I guessed wrong.

I’m old fashioned. I’ve had girlfriends who’ve told me that even if they don’t like a guy, they’ll still go on a date with them for one of two reasons:

1. Politeness
2. A free dinner/tea/what have you

First, that’s not politeness. Politeness is kindness and kindness is honesty. Funny how all my posts are laced with the fact that people are so dishonest.

If you want to be polite, tell someone, “hey, you’re great, but I’m not interested in you.”

If someone cannot handle the truth, they aren’t ready for a relationship anyway. The end. That’s it. I’ve rejected people, I’ve been kindly rejected, and you know what–I lived.

Someone said to me, “hey I’m sorry, I have a girlfriend.” I’ve also said, “hey, I’m seeing someone.” Or “I’m just not interested.”

As for the free dinner: for the love of your dignity, buy yourself dinner and save face. Buy yourself tea. Better yet, buy yourself some morals. Go home at the end of the night with your dignity, please.

So, here’s what we’ve learned so far: don’t accept a date that you’re not interested in. If you can do this one thing, you will be golden.

Next is the actual etiquette on dating. Yes, sadly, some people haven’t mastered this either. I won’t say I’m an expert, but again, being honest is key.

What are you looking for? A casual encounter? Sex? A long term relationship? Marriage?

If your interest is solely sex, say it. You’ll be surprised how many girls and guys are okay with that. I’m not saying it’ll fly with all of us, but that’s not the point, is it? Do you want to have sex with an emotional being who wants more than just sex? No, we don’t want your shallow butt, either.

If you want to sleep with someone that wants to someday get married and isn’t interested in wasting time with your wiener for five minutes, then spare her the time and tell her. Be straight up. “I don’t want anything serious.”

That’s fine.

Actually, most of us will lose our appeal to you fairly quickly, since you’re a dog.

Anyway, if, after spending some time with someone, you decide “nah, not the one,” tell them.

You know what sucks about dating? The dishonesty. We are all human, and we all have feelings. It sucks, but it’s life.

You know what else we are good at? Resiliency and self-respect.

If you tell us that you’re not into us, we can take it. We will be happy to let you go–you’re not the one.

Our soul mates are going to be into us. We know we’re great, and our ego won’t be slighted in the least.

We can let anyone go.

So, don’t spare us by giving us elaborate excuses. If we really like you, (and you’ve been there) we will try to see the best in you.

Oh, your great-grandfather has to get his tuberculosis shot again and you have to take him, so you won’t be around for a day–we’ll buy it. Sure, we will wonder, but we like to believe that the people we choose to trust wouldn’t lie to us about something so trivial. Yes, you not liking us isn’t the end of the world.

It’s the beginning. There are seven billion people on the planet. You aren’t the smartest, most attractive, thoughtful, kind or even in the top ten. You’re actually just luck of the draw. You could’ve been anyone. Don’t flatter yourself.

So, be honest. We will live and love someone infinitely better for us than you.

No hard feelings, chief.

Of course, even after I typed that, I have to mention this thing I heard of. There’s this thing called “the fade.”

Apparently, guys and gals are guilty of this! Basically, you hang out with your love interest for a while, but you get bored or disinterested. Of course, you’re a coward and can’t bear to tell the person that you’re not into them anymore, because …?

I’m assuming since I’ve never done this:

1. You’re keeping them around while you explore other options
2. You’re a sociopath
3. You think you’re so great that someone would kill themselves if you weren’t in their lives

So, instead of being a decent human being, you slow your contacting down. Then you quit hanging out with them. Then eventually, you completely vanish from their life (hopefully into the sewer where you belong–to dine with your rat counterparts).

Some of you are pathetic and lonely enough to try to maintain contact with someone you’re not interested in.

Newsflash: life was great before you. Life will be great without you.

The issue I have with this is the poor person on the other end. There’s a whole movie and book on women. It’s called “He’s just not that into you.”

Isn’t that sad?

There are songs written about people who’ve been lied to, led on, cheated on, etc. I have a playlist of songs (they’re actually beautiful sad songs) written by brokenhearted people who wrote about The One That Got Away. All of this unnecessary heartache that seemingly everyone goes through. Why?

Because one person couldn’t say, “I’m sorry I don’t feel the way I used to about you.”

Maybe I just surround myself with upstanding characters, but the women in my life are all direct, decent human beings.

My best friends have all said, “I’m not interested,” when there was nothing there.

Yeah, I know someone out there is going, “oh but that’s the beauty of dating. The guessing game.”

No, there isn’t a guessing game. Three days to call is too long, and giving someone a runaround is a rejection in my book.

In life we have to deal with shoddy craftsmanship, poor traffic conditions, bad weather, diseases, pets dying, loved ones getting hurt, friends leaving, tv shows ending, shoes and blisters, and a plethora of negative things.

The last thing we should have to deal with is dishonesty from someone we admire (who’s told us the feeling’s mutual–when it’s not). How cowardly must you be to leave like a thief in the night? Pretty cowardly. Lacking a pair of gonads, for sure.

Please don’t reproduce. You’d be such a bad role model.

Years ago, someone said to me, “life is hard. Relationships shouldn’t be.” I didn’t agree then, but I wholly agree now. If everything else is so difficult, why would you make someone else’s life difficult?

If you can’t be an honest person to someone, you deserve the worst. I don’t care how you slice it. Any hardship that life throws your way, I hope it’s magnified, because you shouldn’t be unnecessarily cruel. If you can’t put yourself in someone’s shoes and see how it would feel to be treated the way you treat someone, then you really deserve to get spit on (metaphorically, but if someone wants to literally kick you while you’re down, I wouldn’t be opposed).

So, yeah. No hard feelings, people.

Always be honest.

What comes around goes around.

Two Points for Honesty

Honesty is always the best policy.

I pride myself on being honest, and I’m honest when asked a direct question. If someone asks me something directly, no matter how badly I want to deflect the question, I can’t lie. I just can’t lie. Something in me goes, “if you lie, you’re setting the precedence that someone can lie to your face.” It’s an immediate thought, and it dictates most of my life.

If I can lie to you, then I can’t expect you to be honest with me. Even though I hardly trust anyone I meet, I like the idea that there are a select few people out there (like me) who don’t lie. They have to exist.

You can see how this gets me in some trouble. Most people don’t subscribe to this mentality and will lie anyway.

Just because you’re honest doesn’t mean someone has to be honest with you. Let me tell you, many people will lie to you like it’s a competitive sport (that only they’re playing–you didn’t even know there was a match) and never think twice about it. I can’t imagine what their lives must be like. Do they worry that everyone is lying to them? Or do they think that they’re so clever, and no one would lie to them?

Sadly, it’s probably the latter. Even sadder, I hope they’re lied to about important things (I know I shouldn’t be so spiteful, but you get what you give. Or you should. New Radicals said so, and I think they were on to something).

Let’s refocus, though.

If you ask me a direct question, I won’t lie.

That means that I can omit the truth when discussing something. I can completely leave out important facts, and I do/have/but won’t anymore.

Side note this brings me to: why would anyone lie?

In my understanding, it’s because the truth is too hard to handle or would warrant an unwanted consequence.

I highly doubt that these are the only reasons why people would lie, but these seem like the main reasons people lie.

Sure, we can also add several other reasons: some people are just bad people (you know who you are), some are incredibly selfish, some are sociopaths, some are mentally stunted, and some are your general run-of-the-mill average pain-in-the-neck losers that I hope you never meet.

I don’t condone lying at all. I have a hard time trusting people to begin with, so when someone finally gains my trust, one lie shatters my entire perception of them. I think this is why I would never lie. I wouldn’t want to have someone trust me, and then hurt them with something petty like a lie (if we’re going to hurt someone, it’ll be a fatal blow. IE: elbowing them in the left temple while simultaneously kneeing them in the groin and throwing a rabid python their way as I make my getaway).

So, with that being said, I tell the truth. Direct questions are the death of me, because sometimes I don’t want to deal with uncomfortable consequences/conversations (sometimes you do something that is justified, but you don’t feel like you have to justify it to just anyone. The important people in my life, I wouldn’t omit things, because they’d most likely understand.).

For example, let’s say that I’m in a relationship with an extremely jealous guy (this really wouldn’t fly, but humor me) and on my first day of work in a new job, I stop to get coffee (this also wouldn’t happen), and while I’m at the cafe, a guy stops me and says, “Hey, I love your choice in coffee, and by the way, your hair looks suave today. We should get some chamomile tea this evening, and then if we hit it off, maybe we can read some Descartes over some delicious pasta that I will make at home before you come over. You can tell me your thoughts on it and I’ll disagree politely and we’ll banter back and forth but not pretentiously. Maybe we’ll play some first person shooter games too, because I know you like those, because I’m a stalker. Also, I won’t try to sleep with you or kiss you, because that would be too much and I’m not a chauvinist pig. You can bring dessert, because I love chocolate and I know you do too.” Of course, I’d politely decline and pay for my coffee. I’d meet my new boss, I’d work on tons of projects, I’d have lunch, I’d make friends with my coworkers, I’d drive home without traffic, and then I’d meet said jealous boyfriend at our place (would we have a place? Probably not, because he’d be too jealous and I’d want to strangle him). So, he’d come to my place and ask about my day.

Psycho: how was your day?
Me: It was nice
Psycho: what happened? (he actually wouldn’t have to ask this, because I’d want to discuss it, but maybe I’d be testing to see if he was genuinely curious. Yes, I am quite the handful).
Me: I stopped for coffee on my way to work, then at work I made friends with my boss and so and so and then can you believe these awesome projects. OH and then I hit no traffic on the way home. Caarrazzzyyyy.

See what I did there?

Yeah, I’d leave out the part that would probably make the jealous guy act like a psycho. Again, this would never happen because of two things: 1. I abhor the idea of someone being crazy possessive over me (there’s a limit, you know? You can care, be jealous and sweet without being a psycho. This guy would be psycho [let's say he'd throw a tantrum and then raise his voice. Then I'd have to punch him in the voice box]) 2. I hate confrontation.

I wouldn’t want to make this guy feel insecure, because it really wasn’t that important, and what’s the point? Every time I’d get coffee, would jealous guy wonder if I was being chatted up by homeboy and his chamomile drinking, chocolate eating dreams?

Therein lies the dilemma, though.

I would hate it if someone omitted the truth to me. Total honesty regardless of the consequence. Also, I’m probably the least confrontational person on the planet, so unlike most people, I wouldn’t react to anything someone said in the heat of the moment. I would simmer, I would think about it. Unless, of course, they lied! Then I’d still simmer, but I would be angry simmering that I discovered a lie.

So, I would wonder what else they were omitting. I get that what you don’t know can’t hurt you, but I think it can. Not telling the whole truth can get you in trouble later. Maybe you accidentally tell the whole truth later, and then the person feels slighted.

Therefore: zero omitting of the truth from here on out. I know, don’t you just love the high standards I set for myself that no one else follows? I do, also.

A less extreme example, and one that affects me, is when I let things go that actually bother me.

I may seem like a rock on the outside. I can handle even the most vulgar of jokes, but I don’t like them. I am easily offended, and once you’ve offended me, my perception can be twisted of you. I need to be more vocal about my boundaries with everyday people. I’m vocal about it in close friendships, I’m vocal about it with potential relationships, and I’m vocal about it with family (all people that matter). Certain things do not sit well with me, and if you cross those boundaries, I will have a hard—if not, impossible—time forgiving you. I see in black and white, and while I can forgive an accident, I have trouble with reoccurrences. I write people off like a meter cop.

How does this tie in with lying?

Pretending that you’re okay with someone’s antics when you’re not is lying. You’re not being fair to yourself or the other person.

I’m slowly (ever so slowly) learning to be more open about what I do and don’t like. I can do what I’ve always done (go home and vent about it to someone close to me and then harbor hostility) or I can open my mouth and say how I feel despite the consequence.

The worst case scenario: someone thinks I’m oversensitive and limits their contact with me (good riddance).

The best case scenario: someone is more considerate before saying or doing something that I’m not okay with.

Contrary to popular belief, keeping your mouth shut to avoid rocking the boat isn’t always the most pleasant (trust me, I wasted time keeping my mouth shut and ended up in the same lifeboat as I would’ve had I opened my mouth day two). You have to be completely honest and throw caution to the wind.

It’s like that saying: Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

As for always being honest, you should be. The above quote? Why would you want to spend time with someone who doesn’t want you to be honest about how you feel?

What kind of people are you surrounding yourself with? If someone can’t accept you for something as simple as telling them how you feel, do you really want them around?

If you’re living a genuine life, if you’ve got reasons for your behavior and actions, tell the truth.

What have you got to lose?

It can’t be that important if you’re willing to lie, or you wouldn’t have done it in the first place.

(**Obviously baby showers, surprise parties, and the like are good reasons to lie. I’m talking about the everyday stuff people lie about that they really shouldn’t. In terms of opinion, I guess that’s subjective. I wouldn’t tell someone “you look fat in that” unless they asked “do I look fat in that?” then I’d say, “yes.” Otherwise, if they said “how do I look?”   I’d say I liked it or I didn’t.)

The best friends that money can’t buy

I like to think I’m extremely intuitive and full of intelligence, but I’m not perfect (I get it). I have a healthy ego, but putting it bluntly: I’m also an idiot.

Like all people, I can be blind to facts staring me in the face, because I desperately want to believe what I decide is: fair, just, correct, righteous (you get the picture).

Life isn’t fair, and no one ever said it was. We can compare the slights and injustices in our lives, and I guarantee that we–individually–think ours are the worst. Unless someone else was seriously wronged (more than us, in our eyes), we feel like our issues are/were bigger.

Because of this, we’re all more than able (and–in fact–prone) to see things through (what Emily likes to call) crazy goggles. These goggles block out anything that would seem amiss to the average (non crazy goggle wearing) person.

This is why you need friends. It’s not just any friends. I have a couple “friends” that I really never want to see. I mean the kind of friends that you know love and care about you solely because they want to and are unable not to.

I call these few people my family, because that’s what they are. There are only a few, and even though they’re dispersed throughout the states, I love them unconditionally.

That’s right. I said it. Unconditionally. They could murder someone, and I’d still love them. Also, I know they’d never do so. Okay, so maybe not unconditionally. I mean that I don’t judge them for their mistakes, mishaps, and the cards they’re dealt nor the way they play (or don’t play) their hand.

If any one of them called me at 3:47 in the morning–provided my phone was audible–I would answer without hesitation. If any one of them needed something from me, they’d hardly have to ask.

So, back to the crazy goggles.

Your real friends love you. Your real friends care about you. Your real friends want you to be happy, because they love and care about you. They know your worth, they value you, and despite differences in character and judgments, they want the best for you, because they know you deserve it.

These friends are this way with everyone. They acknowledge the terrible people they’ve met in life, and similarly wish them to meet like-minded terrible people (you know who you are).

So, it’s safe to say that you are blessed with their presence in your life. They are not out to hurt your feelings (unless you have a pseudo friend, but you’ll know that one when push comes to shove).

Because of this, you should listen to their opinion.

If one of your friends tells you that something isn’t right, Something Isn’t Right.

Your friend isn’t jealous. Your friend isn’t crazy. Your friend is telling you that something that you see is off. There is something that your goggles missed.

Please believe them.

Eventually, and it will happen, whatever seemed amiss to your friends will rear its ugly head, and your goggles will shatter. If you have good friends, they will be there to pick up the pieces, place them in a field, and torch them.

If you have pseudo friends, they’ll disappear and good riddance.

I understand this is vague, but my point is simple:

Just because you want something, just because you think you deserve something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that what you’ve deemed is this worthy thing IS in fact this thing.

If your friends have a word of caution, then listen up. More than likely, your goggles are fogging.

PS: your real friends will see the other side of things, too. They will help you come up with best case scenarios. They will try to wear your goggles. Eventually, though, if they really care about you, they’ll tell it to you straight, and when they do that, you should either listen to them and change or alienate them.

I went with the former and my best friends are the best investment I’ve made in my life.

Thanks, girls. Love you.

Take Care of Your Mouth, Please

“Do you floss?”

If I care about you at all, I’ll probably ask you this at some point. Some people ask if you buckle up in the car. Some people don’t ask anything.

Oral hygiene is huge. Thankfully, most of the important people in my life all agree. I know, because I’ve asked them.

Tonight, while brushing my teeth, I thought, “hm, why don’t I write about this?”

It was either this or the topic of love.

I don’t want to write about love. I don’t even want to read or watch it, either. I know. Pride and Prejudice is taking a backseat. Sorry, Mr. Darcy. I love you to the moon and back, but I just can’t see you right now. Besides, your heart belongs to Lizzie, and I’ve never dealt with unrequited love very well.

Teeth!

Aside from noticing height, I notice a smile first. I check that thing out. Let’s not kid ourselves, I have tiny little teeth and if you look closely, they’re not straight. In fact, if you catch my profile sometime, and really look, I have summer teeth.

Some are this way, some are that way.

Not funny? I laughed when I heard it yesterday. Hard.

So, I’m not on a high horse when I type about hygiene. I’m right there with everyone else (I hope). I’d like fresh breath, a clean mouth, and if I’m lucky, a nice smile.

Since I was little, I was extra careful about my teeth. I brushed morning and night (I skipped some nights, let’s not joke—probably more than a year’s worth if we’re being collective).

In my mouth care arsenal, I have a few weapons that I’m going to share with you.

Toothbrush: for the past six or seven years, I’ve been using the same brand of toothbrush (I’m a one toothbrush kind of lady). It’s the Oral-B Pro-Health All-In-One toothbrush in soft (I used to get medium, but my dentist said to go with soft). Target sells them in a five pack, and I changed my toothbrush every two-three months. I’ll admit, I’ve always been a vicious brusher. I’m the person that has a mangled looking toothbrush after a week’s worth of brushing. So, if you’ve been in my room and seen a toothbrush that looked like someone scrubbed a tunnel with it, it’s mine. Apparently, you aren’t supposed to brush hard, but I can’t not brush hard, you know? If I don’t, I feel like I’m not really doing my job and the germs are still hanging around. Some habits are hard to break.

I’ve stood by this toothbrush for years. I love this toothbrush, and if I had to, I’d go back to it in a heartbeat (I’ll always love you, Oral-B. You were my first love, for sure).

Yes, that’s right. I’ve dumped it for a new brand recently. I know, I thought we’d live happily ever after, too, but such is life, right?

Steven is going to school for dental hygiene, and last semester, he received a Phillips Sonicare brush, and he gave it to me. It’s been sitting in its box in my room for months now. I never wanted to use it, because I was stuck on my old one (isn’t that always the way). Just because the new one had bells and whistles didn’t mean it was for me. My Oral-B had stood by me for years. Why ruin a good thing?

Well, I ran out of my Oral-B’s a few days ago and I haven’t bought a new pack, so I decided to try this thing. I expected it to be awful. I expected it to run out of juice within a minute. I expected terrible things.

You know what they say about expectations…

This is the best toothbrush, ever.

I think this is what people are like when they meet their soul mates. You think you found them before. Maybe one of them got away. I don’t know what your personal deal is, but then one day, you open the box and you find just what you didn’t even know you were looking for after all these years.

(hopeless romantic, party of one. Check please)

This particular brush has three settings: clean, whiten, gum care. Then it has three intensities. It also has a specific brushing system while you brush. If you read the book thoroughly (I scanned, buh!), it breaks your mouth into quadrants and the brush quietly beeps and pauses for a nanosecond when it’s finished brushing one quadrant.

I’ve never really looked forward to brushing my teeth, but now I love it. I brush, whiten, and gum care it up twice a day. I’d do it more often, but I worry that’s freak-level.

Once I’m done, I rinse the brush, and place it in a UV chamber.

WUT?

A UV chamber that disinfects your brush. How spiffy is that?! It cleans it for 10 minutes, and then you can keep it in there or just put the lid on the top.

If I had to recommend a brush for you, it’d be this one. It’s the Phillips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum. I highly recommend you get it if brushing isn’t your favorite thing yet. BEST EVER.

Floss: Plackers – Gentle Fine. I have pretty tight teeth, so these slide right in and get the job done. There isn’t any nasty touching of the string, either. At the end of the floss, there’s also a toothpick, so these are great to carry with you. The reasons for flossing are many, but I have two that are the most important to me.

1. It’s disgusting if you don’t. Sure, if you use mouthwash, you’re killing the bacteria, but there’s buildup. If you’re like me and enjoy sushi, occasional sweets, and any other food, you’re going to have some funk. If you look closely, you’ll SEE the buildup. It’s nasty. A dirty mouth is a dirty mouth is a dirty mouth. You have bad breath, a breeding ground for germs, and c’mon just do it. Seriously, take a look at your teeth, and if your teeth look (or feel) fuzzy, darker, or I actually don’t even know, but I’ve seen some funk on a couple people. Please do yourself a favor and clean those bad boys. You will have a much nicer smile. :)
2. Disease! You can get heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, and periodontal disease. We’re all at risk for some disease. If you can cut down your chances of getting it, why wouldn’t you? Floss cost is minimal, and it only takes about two minutes to do (unless you’re anal, but even then, we’re looking at five minutes). So, do me a favor and do it.

Mouthwash: Crest 3D Glamorous White.
Okay, I’m a baby with mouthwash. I don’t even do it every day, but I’m getting into it. There are germs in your mouth. There just are. Your mouth is hot and wet, so there will always be germs. You should, however, take some precautions. I like the 3D white, because it’s two birds with one stone. First, it claims to whiten and second, it kills the bacteria (plus has about seven other benefits on the bottle).

Try to mouthwash.

Whitestrips.
I don’t remember this first time I used whitestrips, but I have used them about four or five times in my life. The first time I used whitestrips, I used Listerine whitening strips.

Don’t waste your time with them. I must have been nineteen or so. They were a pain to put on, they moved out of place, and they didn’t do very much.

After a year or so, I used Crest Whitestrips. I didn’t use the professional effects until much later, but these were iffy. The thing that bothered me is that my gums were sore within two days, my teeth were sensitive, and they didn’t whiten the entire tooth. So, my teeth were mostly white, but if you looked closely (like I did), you could see that it missed tiny spots. Irritating, to say the least.

I did, eventually, switch to professional effects (and whatever is before and after that, too). Sure, my teeth were whiter, but it wasn’t an immaculate white that I could really notice. Also, there is some drool-age involved, and it was also pretty painful. I did it every six to seven months, and each time I told myself, “I will never do this again.”

Last week, I picked up 3D White Supreme Flexfit by Crest. I didn’t have high hopes as I put the strip on my teeth. Apparently, you can stretch these strips to cover all of your teeth (back teeth, too), and they won’t move. You keep them on for one hour, and then you can see results in about three days.

Likely story, Crest.

Except that they are wonderful. For starters, there is no drool. You put these babies on, you can drink water, and you can talk without a lisp (or drool). You can hardly tell that they’re on. They did hurt my gums briefly, but that’s because I was brushing like a yeti (because yeti’s brush), and my gums bled. Once I switched to my new brush, I felt no pain. I will admit that my teeth are sensitive, but that’s to be expected. Yes, iced drinks are out of the question, but this girl loves room temperature water and tea through a straw. I have no qualms.

The results? After my first application, I looked in the mirror and they were whiter. Not just the sort of white you get after 14 days of other applicators. No, they were white. Today, I was outside and my mom said, “your teeth are so white right now. Are you using those strips?”

My mom’s like me. There is no fluff. If my teeth were gangly, she’d tell me. So, if you can afford the 50$ strips and would like whiter teeth, I would definitely recommend them.

One final thing to note: the tongue!
I have the world’s worst gag reflex in the world.

I still brush my tongue every day.

Please, please, please brush your tongue. Your tongue has buildup of gunk, too and no one’s going to want to kiss you or speak closely to you if your breath is kickin’. I say this with love. If I can brush my tongue (and nearly puke ten times as I’m doing it), because it’s for the greater good, you can, too. It’s super important. You’re super important.

I hope you take care of your mouths.

Happy Pt. 3 (?!!!!!!!)

I didn’t mean to lie, but I didn’t think there would be more to the story. So, here is part three of WHO KNOWS how many parts!?!?!?

The library is my favorite place (well, I have others, but I like the concept—free books, quiet, no one hangs out there).

For a while there, I was stuck on poetry. I haven’t read poetry in years, but I became a bit fond of Pablo Neruda. Thanks Ted, good call on that guy. Of course, I mean Ted Mosby from HIMYM.

Yesterday, I returned my last book and didn’t want to take another book out. I had one book recommendation, but thankfully they didn’t have it (it was a pathetic book that I probably wouldn’t have been able to check out without dropping my dignity out with it).

So, I went to my favorite aisle: nonfiction.

There were tons of books, of course, but I picked up The Happiness Makeover and 52 Small Changes.

Both books are about making the conscious choice to be happy.

First, I should admit that I was partially wrong. “How could you be wrong?” you’re thinking. “Why would you admit it?” Because I have to set an example. I’m trying to live by what I preach.

1. Prefrontal lobes
2. Envy
3. Gratitude
4. Happiness Myth
5. Law of Attraction
6. Expectations
7. Passions
8. Everyone Wants to be Happy
9. Three Options
10. Reasons

1. M.J. Ryan explains that we have two prefrontal lobes in our neocortex. “When the left is activated, we think thoughts of peace, happiness, joy, contentment, optimism. When the right is activated, we think thoughts of gloom, doom, worry, pessimism.” Each one of us has a tilt to one particular side; this differentiates pessimists from optimists.

I know, for a fact, that my tilt is to the right. I have been an optimist about certain things, but eventually, I (like many intelligent people) became jaded, pessimistic, and cynical. At first, these things attracted me to some people, but after spending serious time with cynics, I realized they were killjoys. So, I try to keep my negativity to myself (and there have been loads of negative thoughts, I tell you).

There’s a fix for this, though. You’re not doomed to be tilted to the right. Sure, this is years of carved neurological pathways to the right, but you can take steps to change. For example, the book says that when you have a negative thought, immediately think of something you’re good at or something you’re grateful for.

I started this today, and let me tell you, my go-to thought (at least six times) was, “I’m thankful I’m not blind and deaf.” The book talks about Helen Keller, too, so this was stuck in my head. Then as I took the stairs two at a time, I thought, “I’m thankful I can walk.” Then “I’m thankful I only bruised my tailbone two years ago.” “I’m thankful I can snowboard.” “I’m thankful for my job.” “I’m thankful for my friends.” “I’m thankful for my family.”

By the time I went to the bathroom and back to the office, I had a list of things I was happy about. My one negative thought was replaced by a list of things I was thankful for.

When I ran out of things I was thankful for (I didn’t, but I wanted to try the other exercise, too), I thought of things I was good at. “I’ve written a book, I’ve written a screen play, I’ve written songs, I’ve taken photographs, I’ve loved, I’ve been a good friend…”

So, every time you have a negative thought creep into your mind, redirect it. It’s easy to stay in a funk. Believe me. I have been Queen of Funk. I can brood about something for days and weeks and even months (okay and years). If I can have a genuinely good day because of changing the wiring in my brain (one small step, anyway), then you can. Trust me. This is years of negativity that I’m ridding myself of.

2. One thing that makes me unhappy is comparisons. If I compare my life to someone my age who has their life together, I can be pretty unhappy. I don’t personally know anyone who is 25, has a decent job, has found the love of their life, and is doing well. I do know a few who are in their 30s. I do know people my age with better (paying) jobs or incredible relationships.

I only see what they let me see, though. I don’t know if John Smith has the perfect relationship he seems to convey to the world. Just because he posts happy photos of his relationship doesn’t mean he’s genuinely happy. The cynic in me made a game out of picking apart other people’s relationships. I’d see a couple and decide whether they were truly happy, faking it, or on the brink of extinction.

Rarely did I see a genuinely happy couple. If you really look at two people, you can see everything. So, I’m renouncing this game, because of two things: 1. it’s depressing and 2. I feel sorry for people that aren’t with their person, and I shouldn’t make it a game.

So, envying people isn’t really my bag. The book says that you should be grateful for what you do have, because the grass isn’t always greener. I know this. Years ago, an old friend contacted me and asked how my then-three year relationship was. I said it was over and I was glad—I probably should have ended it sooner. She was shocked. “WHAT! You mean—you guys weren’t even that happy?”

She was under the assumption that we were this great couple, we’d get married someday, pop out some kids, and you know—live together. No, that was never going to happen, and I guess I knew that straight away, but when you’re eighteen, you don’t think you’re going to ever get married and being in a “relationship” is just what people do (not so, don’t get in unless you’re in it for the long haul [aka, willing to wipe their butt at 90 years old]–noted). She was envious until she realized that her relationship was actually great in comparison. (Mind you, I never paraded this relationship around and I was surprised she even knew I was seeing anyone. Stalkers come in all shapes and sizes, I guess).

The moral: people can appear to be doing well, but rest assured, you’re probably better off with your problems than anyone else’s. You can handle what you have (and don’t have), even if it makes you temporarily unhappy. Don’t envy someone else, because their haves and have nots might not be something you can handle.

3. Being thankful for everything you do have. This is a running theme in the book. I won’t get too involved, but it bears repeating. You should be thankful for the things in your life. A few weeks ago, I went to church and Skip asked me, “how are you?” I replied, “I’m okay.” I was actually a bit bummed, but who talks about that? “Could be worse though, right?” he asked. It was the way he said it that really hit me. He was so nonchalant and off-the-cuff about it. I nodded and agreed. Just when I was accepting that it could be worse, he followed up with, “but it could always be better, huh?”

Yes, on both counts. There’s this saying (I’m sure you’ve heard) “I wept because I had no shoes, until I saw the man who had no feet.”

We are all self-involved. Sometimes, you have to put things into perspective, though. I really don’t know what upsets most people, but I’ll use myself as an example. If something falls apart in my hands, I will be upset. I realize, though, that there is more to life than whatever just fell apart. People are sick. People are dying. I don’t want to rattle off all of the things, but big whoop. So, I didn’t get what I wanted. It hurts, it sucks, but it could be worse.

One of the exercises Ryan has you do is to say, “I’m glad that I’m not…” and you fill in the blank.

It sounds negative, but it’s not. They studied this and people who thought things they were glad they weren’t (alcoholics, addicts, paralyzed, sick) vs people who thought things like “I wish I was more” (attractive, friendly, outgoing, loving) were happier.

It’s something to think about.

4. There is a myth that if you actually embrace your happiness, you’re going to lose it. It’s true. I know that when something good happens to me, I think, “well, this is nice, but how long will this last? What’s going to blow up in my face?” So, I keep my guard up, and I don’t fully enjoy the happy moments.

You should enjoy the happy moments. Things are going to blow up in your face regardless of you enjoying them. At least if they blow up in your face, you will have been happy first.

Perfect example: There have been times when I was overflowing with happiness. I know, it’s hard to tell with me, and I’m sorry. It has happened, though. Inside, I’m a big ball of mush and I’m overjoyed at (insert whatever made me happy). On the outside though, I’m terrified that it will be snatched away. I’m almost convinced that the universe is going to single me out and say, “a-ha, we made a mistake. That’s not for you.”

Horror!!!!

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I’m never going to do it again. I promise. There’s a perfect quote that described me. “She was a compulsive pessimist, always looking for the soft brown spot in the fruit, pressing so hard she created it.”

This brings me to something I watched.

5. The law of attraction. So, some people think it’s hocus pocus, but I buy it. I think you attract what you want in your life. You do. Sometimes, you get a crazy person, but you can usually dodge them and see it coming a mile away. Seriously though, you attract everything into your life. The power of the human mind is incredible. I’m not saying that you’re going to win the lottery, but your thoughts are a direct line to the things you get in your life.

I used to say I was a realistic idealist. I guess I will still say that. I am. I am realistic in not seeing the world as rainbows and butterflies, but I’m idealistic in that I hope that true love, genuine connections, a good life, etc exist. In the same breath, though, I viewed “realistic” as pessimistic.

I’ve been dealt a good hand. I’m happy with myself. It’s the external world (which I can’t control) that upsets me. So, if you want to be filthy rich, technically, according to The Secret, you should think about it, behave as if you are (don’t go spending money you don’t have, but acting like you have it), and being grateful for having it.

I don’t desire to be filthy rich or anything, so the things I’d like to have are actually a lot less grandiose than that (in fact, well let’s not get into it). You have to think positively, though. You can’t play around and pretend.

Don’t say you want a higher paying job, but only think about the crappy job you have. See, apparently, the universe can hear you and feel you. The vibes you put out in the world—the most vibes—are the ones that it picks up. “Don’t get fat, don’t get fat.” You’ll get fat. The universe doesn’t know whether you said don’t or do, it just heard fat.

Obviously that’s not the best example, but you can’t focus on what you don’t want. You have to focus on what you do want in your life.

This one is hard for me, too. It’s easy for me to think about what I want, but then I get to thinking, “merg, I don’t have that, though. When will I?” and then I move on to whatever. This also goes for your negativity. My pessimistic ways create problems.

I create problems.

Negative thinking is just a bad idea. Don’t do it.

6. Expectations lead to disappointment. I wrote about this previously. You should never expect anything, ever. It’s incredibly difficult for me to truly subscribe to this. I try, don’t get me wrong, but letdowns, man. Letdowns.

You should be grateful regardless of what happens in your life. I agree, but I also agree it can be hard to.

Also, don’t expect The Worst Outcome Ever and then live in worry. You should take stock of the worst thing that could happen and how you’d handle it, but don’t expect it. Don’t waste your time thinking terrible things, because it doesn’t make you feel good.

Ever.

Trust me. I am incredible at thinking up worst case scenarios. What’s the point? Sure, I’m a lot less surprised if something bad happens (never the worst), but why waste my time? Enjoy the not knowing and the possibility that it could be positive.

5A. I know, I’m backtracking, but I must. You should be happy at things even if they haven’t come to fruition. She uses an example that her husband might be getting a promotion. He comes home, tells her about it, but he’s nervous. He doesn’t want to celebrate and be happy, because he doesn’t want to jinx it.

That’s me. I don’t want to celebrate my almost-happy news, because I’m afraid that I’ll jinx it. I won’t get what my heart yearns for, and I’ll feel like a fool (even worse than that, I’ll feel responsible).

You cannot jinx things.

This was hard for me to agree with initially. Then I realized, wow, she’s right. There are many times when you could celebrate something, but you choose not to, because you’re afraid the universe will snatch it away.

In HIMYM, Ted says to Robin that the universe has better things to do. It does. I do think so. The universe isn’t going to say, “hahahahahah I’m so going to screw her for this.”

That’s people. People can do that. People will do that.

And you’ll live. (Getting sidetracked, sorry!)

You won’t jinx it, and you should be happy! Jump at the thought of your promotion or your increase in pay. Last fall, I asked for a raise. The number I was given (ballpark figure) wasn’t what I hoped. Sure, I was thankful in general, but I wasn’t thrilled. When I finally did get my raise, it was exactly what I hoped for, and I should have celebrated sooner.

One example is when I started writing my novel. I was inspired to write. I wrote and wrote and when the end was near, I was clapping and thrilled. I hadn’t finished, but I knew I was going to do it.

I’m now writing another novel. It’s book one of a series (I’m thinking four). I’m thrilled. I’m happy.

7. Find your passion. What makes me happy is doing things that I feel I was meant to do. I need a purpose. I need a drive. I’ve always felt that way. If I’m not happy, it’s because I’m not doing what I think was meant for me.

Don’t get me wrong: there have been things I thought I was meant for, and I was not.

I do know that I have found my passion/calling. I am a writer. I write, because when I talk, I realize that most of the time, it doesn’t really matter (to whoever I’m telling it to). It’s not that I don’t think it’s important, but I don’t feel the need to waste my time feeling like it doesn’t matter to someone else. Countless times I’ve said, “this is really pointless.”

It’s not to me.

I’m saying it, because it affected me. I’m speaking, because I’m passionate about something. I don’t mindlessly drone on about things. I’m saying it to you, because for a moment, you matter to me, and I’m letting you in.

It’s better on paper. It’s always better on paper.

Likewise, I write because it makes me happy. I’m not the greatest communicator. I try to be, but I think 90% of how I feel and what I think stays in my head.

Find what makes you happy. If that’s painting, you should paint. If it’s editing, if it’s saving people—whatever. I think that when you find what makes you happy, you should do it. You should go after that thing 100%.

I live by this. I write every day. I don’t write my novel every day, but I write something down.

8. Everyone else is trying to be happy, too. I wrote about my favorite teacher in here a long time ago. If he was 40 years younger, much taller, and hopefully attractive, I probably would have married that guy. He was intelligent, witty, hilarious, cynical, and realistic (and a runner!).

These days? I don’t think of him as anything but a cynic. Contrary to my previous beliefs, just because you’re (like me) a realist, doesn’t mean I’ll like you. In fact, unless you can find the good in the bad, I wont want to be around you. There has to be a balance. I can be negative, but if I was negative 100% of the time, well, you should shoot me. I’m usually quietly thinking negatively (working on it!), but I won’t kill your mood with my observations.

I don’t like people that are always negative anymore. What’s the point? You can be intelligent and happy. You can be witty, hilarious, realistic, and optimistic.

Anyway, this teacher said that people are not inherently good people. This is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is motivations.

People want to be happy. I accept that. I’m realizing that. Not everything someone does has to do with you. They are trying to be happy, and you should respect that. Sometimes, they will hurt you in the process.

Move on.

Everyone is really just trying to be happy. The person who cut you off? He’s in a rush. He wants to be on time for his date. The girl that dumped you? She wasn’t happy with you for x, y, and z. Change it or let her go. The boss who yelled at you for something that wasn’t your fault? Maybe his sister is dying of cancer.

We’re all just trying to get by. Try to be as kind as possible. I don’t think anything anyone does is personal or out to get you.

9. Ryan talks about grace. I have always lacked real grace. Sure, I can be feminine, but let’s be honest, I can be more of a guy than a lot of the guys I know Not in any vulgar way, but in general—I’m a lot stronger/more athletic (maybe not always physically) than plenty of them, and have a pair of figurative gonads that most just lack (you only live once–make it worthwhile and don’t putter around).

Anyway, because of this, I’ve always been a bit envious of the girly girls. I can’t be a dainty, graceful little tulip. I can wear a dress, smell nice, and look all right, but I’m not fooling anyone. We can all tell that I’m a tomboy at heart. I don’t sit at the nail salon or hair salon. I do my own lawn, but I can cook a mean casserole too. Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked.

I’m more like hyacinth (go figure, my favorite flower). I’m the first to say, “I got this,” and I really mean it. I don’t need help, and I won’t ask for it (even when I could probably use a hand—and would appreciate the gesture, but would probably say nahhhhh about a thousand times). I wouldn’t say I’m the most graceful is what I’m getting at. I do things, I’m good at things, but I don’t have the same dainty grace that a lot of others have so inherently.

Ryan says that you have the option to do three things, but you have to do them gracefully.

Uh oh.

You have to accept things as they are, be prepared to leave things, or change things. The key is to do either one gracefully.

I have prematurely done all three of these things in haste (sometimes, I just act on emotion—rare, but I can be a bit passionate about certain things). The trick is to remain graceful.

If you can accept things, accept all of them. She says her husband doesn’t clean the house. She isn’t going to divorce him over this. She accepts it. (He’s not a slob, but I’m paraphrasing).

If you can change things, change them. Sometimes, the changes take root, and sometimes they don’t.

If you can’t change things, if you can’t accept them, then you have to leave them. Gracefully. The key is to be graceful.

Thankfully, this is the kind of gracefulness that is a bit easier than the grace I described earlier. This comes with merely existing and doing what you say and saying what you do.

One of the running themes of this is accepting what you can’t change and being graceful about this.

It’s hard. I’m the person that you have to pry my cold, dead fingers off of something until I truly let go.

I’m working on this, too.

10. The final point on happiness is to find the reason for your unhappiness. For example: you’re selling your home, but no one is buying it.

You’re learning patience.

For every negative event in your life, there is good that comes out of it. We tend to focus only on the closed door or the unhappy ending, but there’s more to it than that.

I’ve learned patience at a young age. I’ve learned discipline. I’ve learned tolerance. I’ve learned kindness. I’ve learned that you don’t always get what you want, because you’re being taught something that only this situation can teach you.

A few months ago, this woman said to me, “you’re learning something now. You will look back on this and you’ll know what you learned. I don’t know what it is that you’re getting, but it’s something that only this situation can teach you.”

I’m still not sure what I was supposed to learn, but I did learn something about myself: I’m a genuinely good person. I learned it years ago, and I remember the first time someone I really loved said it to me. “Stay genuine—dignity often has a real cost.”

It does, and I pay the price, but I’d be doing myself a serious injustice if I wasn’t me. I hope that makes sense.

So, I think this contradicts some of what I said in my previous happy post, but that’s because I didn’t know what I know now. I think if you follow these principles, then you’re going to be happier.

I know that today was a nice day. I know that a few people were happier, because I was around. Normally, I don’t really think about that, but I could see the small difference.

If you want to see change, be a change.

Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen. You could argue that you’re doing something to get something in return, and I could indulge you and discuss this for hours (I’d like to if I liked you), but I’ll just point it out instead.

As always, don’t worry, be happy.

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Cranberry Apple Pie

This is much like the blueberry pecan pie. I’d have added walnuts to this, but I didn’t feel like leaving my house this late (7pm is late if you’re me). I’m already in my pajamas.

Originally, I intended on a delectable chocolate pie, but then I saw a couple of lonely apples on the table. I also had cranberries from a while ago that I never used (who knows what recipe called for them–some crazy pinterest idea I never got around to making).

I know it isn’t Christmas yet, but I figured what the heck.

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats
2 1/4 cups vanilla soy milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
Small bag of cranberries
2 medium apples (or whatever you have)
4 tbsps cinnamon
1 large egg

1. Mix your wet ingredients
2. Put one cup of oats on the bottom of your pan (mix in the cinnamon too)
3. Add half of your apples and cranberries
4. Add your wet mixture
5. Add the remainder of your apples and cranberries
6. Sprinkle cinnamon (if you’d like)
7. Bake at 360 ish for about 30-35 minutes

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Voila.

You can add cool whip to taste. Some people prefer it warm, others prefer it cold.

I think you can sub the apples with peaches and pecans, and that would be tasty, as well.

There seem to be an infinite number of possibilities. I will eventually make my chocolate one, but I have to decide precisely what would taste best. I could do a s’more-esque pie. I think I’d prefer just dark chocolate on top of dark chocolate drizzled in dark chocolate, but I guess some people would find that boring or too dark.

We shall see!

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