Monday, March 29, 2010

Lessons from vacuum cleaners

At some point in my life, I think it would be fun to have an iRobot. From people who I know who have had them, they said that they really worked well. The price is a bit steep for me, but it'll go on my wish list.

In a bit of a funny way, I came across this post titled 5 lessons I learned from my vacuum cleaner.

It's witty but has aspects relevant to life and recovery.

1. Not falling off the edge.

It is hopeful in recovery that we can learn where our "edge" is, that point just before a lapse or if we find ourselves in a lapse, that we are able to turn it around before we get sucked in and descend down the slippery slope. This isn't always easy but I think it begins with self awareness. And after a point in time, it becomes about choice.

2. The job gets done eventually. Recovery isn't a fast process by any means. If it were, there would be far more of us recovered. But recovery just doesn't work that way. It can be a tedious process that takes a lot of time, work, and effort. And sometimes, it feels like a "go one step forward, two steps back" process. But I truly like to believe we can all get there--slow and steady.

3. and 4. Overcoming obstacles and knowing your needs and asking for help. Obstacles are everywhere in our lives. It's important to identify them first, and then try to overcome them. Sometimes this means identifying the who, what, when, where, why questions, while at other times, rehashing out the past may just keep you flailing. Irregardless, many times, we can't do it alone, so this is where reaching out and finding help is essential. Learning to ask for help can be one of the toughest, most courageous things to do in life. But the fact is, we all need support.

5. Recharge. Often times, we forget this. We may try to fill our days with an inordinate amount of tasks. We may exercise mercilessly. We may be there for other people but neglect our own needs. In the end, we wind up exhausting ourselves, never allowing ourselves to recharge. Everyone has a different view and opinion of this. It can be something as simple as a massage or more elaborate in a getaway trip or vacation. What this means, however, is we are all human and deserve to fulfill our own needs and desires.

I know we've all heard this stuff before and it is cliche-ish, but now, it becomes about putting this knowledge to practice. We can write it until doomsday and we can talk about it until we are blue in the face, but if we never put it into practice, we'll never really see our own potential.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Missing things...

Despite the fact that I've been insanely busy the last few weeks and my anxiety is slightly increasing over my work facility actually opening, I've noticed I've just been missing things lately. I hate to admit it, but I'm still saddened by Baxter's passing away. I don't have gushing, all out tears anymore, but I still think of him often, like on a walk, imagine him doing his "Boxer burn" through the yard, barking to want to come in, giving me his paw to hold, bringing me the remote and dog bowls, laying his head right beside mine at night, and many other nuances he had and become teary. I don't fault myself for my struggle, but sometimes I think I should be further along than I am. Having his ashes wasn't as healing as I had hoped, so as spring is here, I will be making my own memorial to Baxter by planting an Eastern White Pine tree (one of his favorite) with surrounding wildflowers in my yard and making a photo/video montage to him. I'm hoping to complete it by what would have been his 11th birthday in June.

I'm also missing my old therapist whom I referred to as "C" here. The other day, someone posted a comment on the blog with her name, and just for a moment, I thought it might have been her. I doubted it but checked in my stats anyway. I wrote C. back in January but have not since then, afraid of appearing too needy or clingy. I've thought about seeing another therapist, but I'm not really sure what it would be for. My eating issues are more manageable these days (there' s always room for improvement), I no longer feel depressed like I once was, there isn't a "crisis" moment right now or a feeling that my life looks bleak,(still get moments of the whole existential anxiety though), my relationship with my family is better overall, I've worked through some of my trauma issues, so they no longer feel like a black cloud over my head, and begun dating again. This is all good, positive stuff that I once thought would never happen to me. This is what any therapist would want from their client--to move on, gain their wings and fly.

But yet, I still miss C. (and probably therapy too) I miss that interaction of talking to her about my deepest feelings, someone to counteract what I may be thinking, even if it was just for a moment, someone to make me think more about my actions/feelings, etc. I hope this doesn't come across as a transference thing, because that is not it. I'd known C. off and on for ten years, and this last round of therapy with her was one of the most meaningful (the other when I first saw her in college).

Maybe I'm just missing the safety of it all--the safety of therapy, the safety I felt with C., the safety of letting my guard down with no guilt or worries.


On a happy note, I'm thinking about getting a bunny!

Note--*I've changed the blog template. I wanted something a little more bright. Unfortunately, blogger kept giving me errors with changing my font color, so I'm manually going through every post and changing it. Therefore, if you are looking through older archives, I have not gotten to changing it yet.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I'm going to go a little off topic on here and discuss bullying. It seems like it is everywhere in the news, and it is a growing problem within schools. Yesterday, on NPR's Talk of the Nation, there was an interesting segment on "former bullies share what motivated their behavior". The show began with talking briefly about several children who committed suicide due to bullying. (One family is suing the school where one of the children was) The show asked for callers from people who were bullies or had been a bully in the past. Now, I was thinking who in the heck is actually going to call in and say they are a bully. Surprisingly, people did. Most were reformed bullies and really didn't understood why they bullied but felt remorse. A few had also apologized to the individuals they bullied. The interesting thing is that some of these bullies were good friends with the kids they bullied, and then suddenly flipped a switch. One became a bully after becoming popular, another realized she herself was bullied and then became a bully.

One caller both intrigued and upset me due to her incredible defensiveness. You can read the transcript and listen to the segment at the link above. (it's too long to post here) Although this woman was being honest about herself, she said how she could not control her bully tactics, despite trying. She said she didn't like being this person but just wasn't able to change. The kicker to all this is that this woman is a psychologist! We don't know the capacity of her work, but if I were her client and heard about this, I'd raise an eyebrow or two. I know I'm not conveying this very well, but it was an interesting show. I think many of us ask that question of "why do people bully?" There's such a myriad of reasons--some make sense while others do not at all.

Awhile back, I was listening to the Diane Rehm show interviewing Jodee Blanco, author of Please Stop Laughing at Me and Please Stop Laughing at Us a few months ago. I haven't read these books, but they sound very helpful to people who may have been bullied and how parents can help their children who are bullied. There was a quote that Jodee said that really stood out to me:

"Bullying isn't just the mean things you do but it's all the nice things you don't do."

It reminded me of watching all the subtle bullying that went on growing up. People viewed it as just teasing, joking around, but really was it? It's not just the overt beating up of kids (which rarely happened at my school), name calling, but other things like not letting certain people sit at lunch with you, always choosing the same person last for a team, following someone, starting rumors about people, and the list goes on. It just makes me really sad how cruel children can be. Some seriously do not know the difference, but many times they do, and they do it anyway. Some people get past the residual feelings of being bullied, but others do not. And it leads to PTSD, depression, and other mental illnesses.

I've always considered myself a bit of a sensitive person and having a great sense of right and wrong from an early age. Whether it was because I was "different" from where I lived--very few Asian lived there or had a physical deformity, I understood being "different" and how each of us were unique individuals. I could grasp the idea of not everything you saw externally was truly was what was internally. When I could, I did try to stand up for those people who were bullied or who didn't have many friends and felt saddened for those I could not.

I don't know the answer to solving bullying, but certainly, I think there could be something like "compassion" classes taught in schools. I think there are some children who are inherently compassionate, but there are others who have to be taught what compassion is. It just seems like it is happening more, and in the age of technology with facebook and texting, bullying has become more subtle, deceptive, and secretive. No child should have to feel this way or be tormented because of appearance or for just being different. Because in the end, sticks and stones may never hurt me, but yes, words can indeed hurt. And examples are seen of this by children who have committed suicide or have turned to violence as the answer.

In relating this all to eating disorders, I am curious were there people you knew who were once overweight, lost weight, and then bullied other overweight people or vice versa? I've found much of the opposite to be true--that those who have had weight/eating problems were more perceptive of those who never had. And I've also wondered whether there was a real difference between those may have had disordered eating versus a clinical eating disorder and whether bullying was ever a factor.

Anyway, this is just a topic that has been on my mind lately.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Repost: If you could never fail

I'm reposting this about the question what would you do if you knew you could not fail because I thought it was cool to find a photo that asked this exact question. Plus, it is a great question to ask yourself every now and then.

photo courtesy of Nothing is Impossible
Check out the blog. It has some really nice photos and captions. It reminds me of postsecret but with more inspirational/nostalgic stuff.

Craving scenario

The other day while I was about to leave my client's house after exercising her dogs, she suddenly starts talking to me about the ice cream she was eating. The scenario went:

G: You know, I was only going to eat 2 bites of this ice cream. And look how much is left. (she raises up the pint of ice cream to show me)
Me: (feeling slightly awkward) Ice cream is good.
G.: I just can't help it. I was craving it and was only going to eat 2 bites. Then, I just can't help it-can't stop myself until it is gone."
Me: Well, indulging is good to do every once in awhile. There's nothing wrong with it.
G.: I just have no control when it comes to ice cream, and especially chocolate raspberry. Sometimes I wish J. (husband) would not buy it.
Me: Well, he buys it because he knows you like it.
G.: Yes, but too much.

G. finishes the ice cream and then she says very cheerfully,
"I have this trick I play on J. I put the empty carton back in the fridge. I don't think he' ll ever notice. Well, once he noticed and asked why I put an empty carton back in the fridge. I said so he wouldn't buy me anymore."

My client's thinking is no different than most of the people I know, and it reminds me how much my view is not in the norm. Certainly, I have thought exactly like how this client has. In that time period of my life, I almost loathed myself for craving something, because I knew I could never have it in my mind. For a long time, I had a horrible craving for peanut butter, but I would never touch the stuff--too fattening, I'd eat it all, etc. And it just fueled the fire more.

Besides the fact that my body needed fat, I had really liked peanut butter (and still do) prior to ED, but it didn't seem right of me to actually indulge myself. For some reason, that word left a feeling of selfishness in my head that I was simply not allowed. I'm learning now that it is okay to indulge myself more regularly--a coffee toffee heath bar ice cream freezee at Wendy's (yummy), an outing of retail therapy, a day of being unproductive after a long week, etc. I still have my hang-ups, but they are less and with much less wrath on myself than I used to be.

I think what people forget is that the word "crave" and "indulge" don't have to have the negative connotations that they seem to carry in this society. There's a sense of "naughtiness" to them and that it always has to be based on rewards. I hope we can start leaving the morality behind, because we truly do not need it. We need to crave, indulge, and simply enjoy, and none of these things have to be based on food. And even if they are, there is nothing wrong with it.

What do you crave in life? What are your indulgences? Has your view of cravings and indulgences changed in recovery?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Slight meltdown

The last few days have been a bit rough. It cumulated in a mini breakdown yesterday with me being teary over a lesson I just never seem to grasp fully--being less self-critical of myself and continuing to blame myself for the problem.

Here's the background information. Work has been busy. We had to delay our opening due to some issues out of our control with the building. Though some of our clients have been a little upset with us and are eager for the facility to open, I still have a lot of work to do with powerpoints and documents. This is on top of the already more than dozen or so documents I've come up with since November for basic policies and procedures. Anyone doing this type of work knows that it is a time consuming process, and when it is just one person, it can feel overwhelming at times. We have another office person, but her tasks are different than mine.

So suffice to say, I think I have been a little stressed in general which just escalated any nuance of a problem. On Monday, we had our photos taken for the new website. I knew about this for a week, but was dreading it. Part of this was due to my face looking more round and chunkier. It also seemed that every time I looked in the mirror, a new zit popped up which left me with caking more cover up than usual.

The photo shoot itself went okay. The photographer is a client of my boss's whom she is very fond with. This was my first time meeting this guy, and I was not that impressed. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt that I just need to know him better, but there is some hesitancy as my boss would like to bring him on board with us at the facility.

Afterwards, we let their two Aussies meet Tovah. Now, Tovah does great with dogs once she has met them. Over the last few months, she has become more barky and aroused when meeting other dogs. She doesn't do anything to them, but there is definitely an uncertainty. After several minutes, she settles, and either the dogs play, or they just kind of coexist on fine terms. I've begun working on this issue with her, but it still distresses me like any owner with a dog issue problem.

And it just seemed heightened with these two Aussies and this owner. One of the Aussies was very friendly, came to everyone. She is a certified therapy dog. The other Aussie was stand offish and the guy just kept showing off all his tricks with her. He made a comment that the dogs didn't know what to do with Tovah's barking and were uncomfortable.

I probably should not have but I took it a bit personal. Then, yesterday my boss (I think I've been calling her A.) wants to discuss a new policy we are placing when the doors open with a "no barking" policy. She's said this from the get go, so I knew she wanted to instill this (it's doable but can be difficult too), but again, I took it personal. Logically, I know it wasn't, and A. reiterated that, but I felt upset by it.

It's one of those issues where you have put a lot of worked and invested in a dog and you want them to be the best possible (not saying perfect here). I've tried to ensure that she was incredibly socialized to many different things, so this barking issue feels like a failure to me, like somehow I should have nipped it in the bud right when I saw it. Her barking is in no way horrible, I've seen much worse, it's just my standard in a sense that I would rather her not do this when meeting other dogs, especially if I want her to be able to do other social things in life where dogs are involved.

A. reminded me that if I had gotten Tovah yesterday, I'd see the issue differently, like this was a problem to work on and would have had a training plan in place already. While this is likely true, it feels different when it is a dog you have raised from puppyhood. There is a feeling of how can I not blame myself?

But that's just the thing. No matter how much you may have worked on raising and training a dog, doing everything to a T, it does not guarantee that something will arise to cause a problem. It's just like someone with an eating disorder history who has a child and has tried their darnest to prevent their child from developing an eating disorder. They may do all the right things in not talking about weight, physical appearance, not dieting, giving lots of positive feedback to their child for their achievements, help their child develop a strong sense of self-esteem and confidence and still their child may wind up with an eating disorder. There's a lot of factors there, both in genetics and environment (in this case outside forces). All we can do is our best in prevention and if an ED arises to address it and work through it.

I know this but have a hard time putting it together when it comes to my own dogs. A. told me that I was probably the only person she knew you took something personal so personal, meaning how much I self-criticized myself for it. She, herself, a percfectionist understands this.

Though I left logically knowing all this, I still felt lousy, cried in my car, etc. Parts of me feel really stupid that I'm upset over something like this, but just like I've told many people, including bloggers, I am human and have feelings and need to stop criticizing myself for that. It's always hard to follow your own advice though.

If you have not read Tovah's story, you can do so here and here. At some point, I''ll have links to tags, so it'll be easier to just click that link.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Call me sexy!

As my last posts provided 6 lies, and 1 truth, here's the rundown:

1. I have been white water rafting on the New Gauley River in West Virginia.
Lie--I have never been white water rafting, but I think it would be a lot of fun. I have been to the New Gauley River, however.

2. My first English word was "dog."
Lie--This one was fairly easy if you've been reading my blog for some time. My first word English word was "kitty."

3. I have never killed any living creature intentionally.
Lie--This is mostly true, except for wasps and ants. There was a time hen I was younger I once stepped on a snail, because I was mad it would not come out of its shell.

4. I love watching fly fishing, golf, and baseball.
Lie--These three "sports" are probably the most boring things on earth for me to watch. I just cannot get into them at all. I think I'd probably be horrible at all of them too. I always sucked at miniature putt-putt, though I do find that a fun activity.

5. I have an affinity for wearing skirts and high heel or cowboy boots.
Lie--I am much more comfy in jeans, sweaters, fleece, long-sleeve shirts and tennis shoes. I rarely wear a dress/skirt unless I have to.

7. I can whistle loudly using a blade of grass, as well as through my teeth.
Lie--I wish I had this talent, but unfortunately, I do not. I can barely do a simple whistle. I'm always impressed at people who can do this naturally.

6. I used to love all thing silk--bedsheets, blouses, scarves, string bikini underwear. I was voted "sexy" by my friends.
Truth--I know this seems a bit strange which was one reason why I put it in there. When I was younger, like middle school/early high school, I used to love the feel of silk things. I adored my silk bed sheets, pillows, blouses, tank tops, etc. Several of my friends though tit was really funny and so unusual of me to wear string silk bikini underwear, but I did. There wasn't anything sexual about it really, just that I liked the feel of them. Later, I realized they were very impractical and have switched to mostly cotton with a few pairs of silk bikini type as well. Because of this, they voted me as "sexy" as well as for whatever reason thinking I would be the first person to get laid or something. Mind you, this wasn't a school thing, just several friends of mine. And I seriously doubt I won out on that bet either.

Thanks for everyone who commented. It's always interesting to see what people think. Sarah, you have good guessing skills! As your prize, if you care to take it is this. It is not much and you may already have one, but I think they are really cute and comforting. I think it is fun to pass down to people, especially young children.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Liar, anyone?

Speaking of lying in my other post, The lovely Cammy tagged me for the Creative Writer Award. (Sorry, this is taking me so long to get to)

1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you.
4. Tell us to six outrageous lies about yourself, and one truth.
5. Nominate seven "Creative Writers" who might also have fun telling outrageous lies.
6. Post links to the seven blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you tagged them.

Here are mine. Can you figure out which one is the truth?

1. I have been white water rafting on the New Gauley River in West virginia.
2. My first English word was "dog."
3. I have never killed any living creature intentionally.
4. I love watching fly fishing, gold, and baseball.
5. I have an affinity for wearing skirts and high heels or cowboy boots.
6. I used to love all things silk--bedsheets, blouses, scarves, string bikini underwear. I was voted "sexy" by my friends.
7. I can whistle loudly using a blade of grass, as well as through my teeth.

I'm just going to tag anyone who wants to participate and have some fun.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Berry Abby Bert

Ok ya'll, normally, I would not announce this humongous event, but my mom sent me the cutest card ever. If some of you remember my Valentine's Day post you'll understand why she wrote what she did.

Yep, it's my birthday, and I turn the big 3-0! It's a bit exciting to be out of the 20s, but at the same time, a little scary to now be 3 decades old. I don't have solid plans of anything yet. I know my boss and her husband are taking me out to dinner this week. I may buy myself a new bamboo steamer, maybe a new vacuum too? See, how frugal I am?

My parents have sent me gifts, and apparently the one from my mom and her husband must be really special. They have both called me in the last 3 days to ask if I have received it yet. Suspense!

Anyway, I'll have another, more reflective post about this birthday later in the week. Stay tuned for that.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How deception affects us

On Mondays, usually I try to catch the show House. Some days I watch fully engaged while other times I'm multi-tasking with dinner and being online. Tonight was the latter, but I managed to get the gist of the episode about a woman who became ill (not sure why she came to the hospital initially) and was a blogger. Apparently, she blogged about everything in her life, and at one point, there was an argument between she and her boyfriend? (maybe husband?) about blogging every nuance of her life. He didn't want her to blog about what was going on in the hospital or what she might possibly have (he felt like her blogging had become a form of entertainment only for an audience), but she differed, feeling like she needed to let her readers know.

Fast forward to the end. The girl was no longer dying of lymphoma like everyone thought, but rather House found clues through her blog about her symptoms. Then, he promptly asked her about what kind of bowel movements she had. A bit mortified and puzzled why he was asking her this, she answered. House explained the diagnosis--the catalyst was switching to a vegan diet which caused gastrointestinal problems which just snowballed from there. Then, he asked her why she held this important information from them and her blog readers. Of course, the girl's answer to that was who wanted to read about her feces? Lastly, House said this (this is not completely verbatim but close) right before he walked out:

"It's okay to have secrets as long as they are not going to hurt you. They are what keep us warm and fuzzy."

So this brings me to my latest adventure. Over the course of the last few weeks, I had to be a bit of a "spy" at work. I had to visit some other nearby dog facilities to get an idea of how they were run, what they featured, how filled to capacity they were, and most importantly how our facility would be different. Though we had already done a CMA (comparison market analysis) and knew information from my boss's clients, you never get the full picture unless visibly touring the facilities.

After visiting the first facility, I had this horrible sense of guilt. I felt awful that I was disguising myself the way I was, because the girl giving me the tour seemed so nice. It was obvious she thought I seemed like a very thorough, concerned owner, and she mentioned that I was her longest tour. When I got back to the office, I really wondered whether I could tour another facility. It took me a full week to mull this over.

After thinking it over, I decided to go visit the other two facilities. This time around, I found it much easier. It was as if I convinced myself that this wasn't a bad thing. I felt like a sly, smooth pretender. There was no longer an unsettled feeling but rather a settled comfort. I was surprised at how easy it was for me to be "deceptive" the second and third times around. It was almost like everything I said rolled off my tongue, and I became the role I was playing so well. A true actress, indeed.

This whole experience reminded me of my early ED days. Despite treating my parents like sh$t, I still felt horribly guilty for lying to them about my behaviors, whether I ate or not, whether I was manically exercising or not, etc. I think there was an instance or two where my dad asked about purging, and I vehemently denied it. What happened as a result of this? I convinced myself that I had to lie, that the deception would only hurt them more than me, that I needed to be even more secretive--a better actress.

Clearly, the problem with this logic or lack there of it was that by continuously lying, I just furthered myself into more self-destructive ED'd behaviors. The deception hurt me worse than anyone else.

Obviously, there are differences between these two lies. In the first scenario, I was not hurting anyone nor myself, whereas, in the second one, there was a lot of damage done.

I don't have any enlightening comments but that it is important to realize how deceiving ourselves can hurt us. Whether it is that we will be happier at X pounds, that we really don't need nourishment of any kind, that just "getting by" is okay, that starvation and overexercise is an okay way to quell our anxieties and stress (in a sense neurochemically, yes, but in the long run, not), that an ED will not kill us, think again. It is often difficult when your head is just full of ED mess, but I think it's the little things that count. That by every lie we are able to thwart aside, that it is a step toward eventual healing.

Note: *My acting was not completely intentional--that I thought about everything I did and the outcomes. Rather, it just seemed "normal" to me, a way of survival. Much of this is a hindsight type thinking.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Geese inspiration

About a month or so ago, I posted about the geese. Well, yesterday just as I was about to walk one of my client's two dogs (same dogs as in previous post) + Tovah, the geese were there right on their lawn! The dogs barked, but I thought this was such a good photo opportunity. It was too bad I just had my phone, because otherwise, the photos would have been stunning. Another time hopefully.

I put the dogs up except for Tovah. I am always so curious what she will do, and remarkably for her young age has great impulse control (well except the cat she saw the other day, but that's another story). So to start the weekend, here are some geese photos. I was able to get pretty close which is always very exciting for me.

I think I've talked about animal totems before. If not, you can click to learn more about them. Right now, I just seem more drawn to the geese. I'm almost thinking maybe they are like my "recovery" animal totem since they remind me so much about support and reaching out. Plus, geese are considered "nurturers," and I'd say I definitely fit that category.

If you believe in animal totems or the like (they say we have 9 or so throughout our life), what would you say are yours? And what do they represent to you? Do any resemble something related to recovery for you?

Look how close she is!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Declaration to ourselves

Last week I ran across this blog post which seemed so fitting to recovery. It's called a "Good Little Girl's Declaration of Independence" from the blog Practices Makes Imperfect which has some great posts about dealing with/overcoming perfectionism.

I think a lot of us have lost ourselves along the way with eating disorders. For many of us, one part of recovery is an attempt to find our authentic selves, gain self-worth, and discover who we truly are.

If you were to make a declaration of independence, what would you write/include?

To do or not to do

I've been thinking for the last few weeks to re-instill my "To Do" lists. I haven't had any major To Do type list on any consistent basis in awhile. Of course, this has probably been a good thing knowing my history with To Do lists (listing my day in 15-30 minutes increments with no emphasis on basic necessities), however, I'm beginning to feel like I'm getting nothing done. It's like going from one extreme to the other, but I don't really like either end of the spectrum. Where to find the balance? (I'm beginning to realize this is a lot like my running debate post)

It's been said in commentaries by other bloggers and researchers about how our traits that make us vulnerable to eating disorders also are what drive us to excel. There is no doubt there. But sometimes, I feel like because those of us with eating disorders have these traits, it's almost like in recovery, we're not allowed to be that. Does that make sense? Like we can't have a little perfectionism or a little sense of need to accomplish (in terms of tasks), because it's just an accident waiting to happen. Maybe I'm wrong here and just projecting my own feelings.

I guess the question here is more whether I can do a "To Do" list and not go overboard. Can I write a task list and not feel like I must get these things done in one day, or else I'm a loser failure? See, this just goes back to all that black and white thinking.

Balance is so hard sometimes. How do other people deal with To Do lists? For those who are reformed To Do Listers, did you have to eliminate these type of lists all together or were you able to strike some balance?