Why is it hard to make a friend?

How friendships keep us going and why you should make friends!

Dear Readers

Why is it so hard to make friends as adults? Recently, I was at a restaurant and while wrangling my two year old, I couldn’t help but notice that almost everyone around us was on phones. No one is talking to each other, and all I can see is heads down laser focused on the phone or laptop. Maybe some of them were working or making plans to meet up with people in person, but mostly I think that they were avoiding connection with the person across the table from them, it’s just easier to look down and scroll.

When did it get to be so hard? I mean when we were kids, I don’t know about you but my criteria for finding a friend was seeing someone on the playground and we started playing tether ball or rode the merry go round. It was that simple.

Once you hit about that thirty year mark, it gets a lot tougher. With kids and jobs and different interests and so many demands on our time, we seem to relegate most of our friendships to text messages and social media. Though social media has its place. For instance, most of you reading this, found me on social media, so there is that happy thing that happens on social media. Also, I know many people who start out on social media and decide to bridge that technological gap and meet in real life.

I definitely think that it’s also a lot easier to look at your feed and just scroll and scroll rather than actually go out into the world, reach out your hand and say hi, (insert your name here) and connect with another human being.  Yes, it’s scary, and yes, it’s also worth it. For example, I will often tag some friends on social media and say, hey let’s do a happy hour, some respond and say yeah that works or no that doesn’t and no guilt or hard feelings, if they can make it great, if not, we will do another one in a month or so.

It’s a good leveraging of social media as we wait to have real face to face connection.

While we are on the subject of making friends, what’s your track record for keeping friends?

Do you work at it? Do you actively set aside time for existing friends?  Do you make plans and break them?

Maybe your kid was sick and you don’t want the other kid to get sick. Valid

Maybe you are on deadline and need to get stuff done and can’t afford the time away from work?  Also valid.

Maybe you can’t afford that happy hour cocktail but don’t want to tell them that’s the reason? Definitely Valid. May I suggest you meet at your respective homes or take a walk in the park (weather permitting)

Maybe you didn’t really WANT to go out, you love the person, you really do, but yoga pants and wine were WAY more appealing than the idea of the bar and some face-time. (also valid)

Here’s an idea, tell them that, and then make a plan to do something more chill- like say a “crappy dinner party” -next time.

Host a Crappy Dinner Party!

But back to you and making NEW friends.

If you work with someone, you have a head start since you both have a built in common interest, and some commonalities, but how to transcend the “work talk” to “friend talk” and how do you approach that situation without overstepping or making things awkward where you spend most of your waking hours? Now, suppose you hit it off and have lots of things in common, great! But maybe, they are busy and you invite them and they can’t make it, but really like you, the timing is just off.

Then if you add a spouse or kid to the mix, now that’s a new thing that needs to be tested and tried, it’s not a lock that just because you both like each other, your kids and partners will respond the same way.

If you add a person of the opposite sex to the mix, it becomes even more difficult because what if they think you are flirting, but all you want is a friend? Even if you are married, this is still a consideration because you have to be conscious of any signals you send that might be misconstrued. I have had it happen on both sides and it’s just plain awkward.

So if it’s that hard, why do it?

Well, first there is science *YAY SCIENCE* that tells us how important it is to have friends and how it greatly impacts our ability to live longer, happier lives. Here is a quote

“Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.”

Here’s the full article-

Friendships Help Us Stay Alive!

Simply put, because there is no feeling like the feeling that another person “gets” you or you find a moment to say, “you too?” or having a beautiful shared moment where the other person says “Exactly!” when you tell a story about a hard time you are having at work or at home. There is so much we have in common, it far outweighs our differences.

So you might be thinking, Well, that sounds great, Jennifer, but how do I start?

I am glad you asked- I have a formula for you- Depending on where you are, you can use this formula to broach a topic. Get creative, these are just a jumping off point!

F O I L- in no particular order- you will know what is right when you start talking, trust me!

F– Friend like questions- So do you like horror movies or comedy? Do you like Star Trek or Star Wars? Do you prefer the Muppets or Fraggles? (sometimes these will knock someone out right away – just kidding, I have friends that don’t agree with me on this!)

O– Occupation questions- How did you get into what you do? Do you love it or are you searching for something new?

I– Interest questions- I like skydiving, how about you? What is your favourite book? What was the best part of your day today?

L– Location questions – likely the easiest because it’s driven by what’s happening RIGHT NOW… Are you in a meeting room? Is it cold? Is it hot? Is the decor funky or contemporary? You can comment on their shoes, funny hat, or great necklace (just make sure it’s sincere – nothing can stop a connection from being made the way a fake compliment can.

Also important? LISTEN to what they say if they answer you.

Listen, there are no guarantees, you could ask a question, and it could fall flat or get a monotone response which is a clear signal that the person you are trying to talk to doesn’t want to talk. Maybe it’s just today is a bad day to try this, but say on Thursday, it would be a completely different story.

Maybe you don’t have trouble making friends, if that’s you, GREAT!

But if it isn’t and you are like so many who struggle with this, think about your existing friendships and look around for new opportunities to connect….

I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Think About It.

 

 

 

No more Guilt…No, Really.

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Dear Readers

This past weekend, I was telling a friend, I am so sorry I can’t come see your show, I am just not going to get to it. I went on to say, I feel so guilty.  Which I did, because I really did want to see the show, but I lacked the night. My husband and I take turns and give each other one night off a week and I had already committed myself to another show. The weather (who the heck would expect SNOW in Texas?) did contribute, but overall, I lacked time.

She was so sweet and kind and graceful and said something that stopped me in my tracks, “I release you of that, that is all yours if you have want to feel guilty that is all coming from you, not me” – We hugged and she walked away.  Wow. It was such an honest moment.

It was so true and lovely and she even mentioned having been there herself, “I love you best friend in the world but I can’t come see your show”.. I felt enormously better.

I have really been making great strides with this whole not feeling guilty thing, and then I had this large setback, but it’s okay because I have recommitted myself to giving up feeling guilty. There are just too many places to be, shows to see, parties to go to and events to sign up for and I recently realized, there are only so many hours in a day.

(I know? Stop the presses..  Mind blowing, right?)

I am the first person who has ever made this realization.

EVER.

But seriously, I don’t have “all the time in the world” and neither do you. It’s the only commodity you can’t get back, and that money can’t buy, so choose where you spend it wisely.

What I realized is that I have to budget my time ( and you should too ) just like we budget our money. I have to THINK before saying yes to something as much as I might REALLY want to do it, I have to be sure I have the time and more importantly be sure I haven’t already budgeted that time for someone else (like my daughter or my husband, say?)

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I really thought I had this one wired after last year and the whole having a baby thing which makes you realize how little time you have, but as is true with so many life lessons, I guess I need to bump into this one a few more times before it really sticks.

So here’s to NO MORE GUILT!

Think About It.

Cry it out… Not so terrible!

Dear Readers,

For the last three weeks, my husband and I have put our daughter to bed and when she cries, we let her cry till she cried herself out and fell asleep.

I DID NOT WANT TO DO THIS. I fought it. HARD.

I felt like it would make me a bad mom, that it meant we didn’t love her and a variety of other very irrational but very REAL things (to me) that I made up about what it would mean to not pick her up when she cries after we put her down for the night.

Every time she cried, my husband and I went in and picked her up (taking turns) to calm her down and she calmed and then we would lay her down and she would be okay for a bit but a few hours later, the whole horrible cycle would start again. I finally hit my breaking point and said, “okay, we are going to try this.. and if we can’t take it for one night, we can always go back to what we were doing before” It’s always an option, but we HAVE to try something else right now or I am going to LOSE my MIND from lack of sleep. viviennecrying3

I had this crazy notion in my head that she would feel unloved or abandoned if we did not go comfort her if she was crying. The truth is, each night it has taken her less and less time to soothe herself and drift off to sleep.

I want to say something very important here.

If you choose not to let your child “cry it out” I am not judging you. If you choose to let your child cry it out, I am not judging you. You have to do what feels right for your kid. As a fellow parent, (we are ALL in this together) I give you permission to parent as you see fit, and how you see fit. It’s not my job (or anyone else’s job for that matter) to tell you how to parent, if they try, smile and nod and do what the heck feels right to YOU.

I think a big problem we all have as parents is wondering if what we are doing is helping our society is super quick to give us things to have a complex over…

Do you co-sleep?

Do you have the most up to date flingity flangity bobbity wobbity toy? Oh, you don’t. I guess you don’t love your child as much as we love ours.. hmm..

Are you breastfeeding? Why ? Why Not?

Are you feeding them organic food or that packaged stuff?

Why? Don’t you love your child?

To name but a few, there are many many more but I don’t have time for that. I have time to think about what is good for my kid and what I can live with so I didn’t let her “CRY IT OUT” till I was ready.. that was exactly 12 months and 2 weeks into her life, I couldn’t take it any longer so we let her cry for 45 minutes (that was agony) and then her nap the next day was 43 minutes, and then that night it was 38 minutes and then bed time that night was 35 minutes, and slowly but surely it got to be shorter and shorter and for the last two days she has not even whimpered and rolled right over to sleep.

Truthfully, on this occasion, I got nothing but support for this method when I reached out to other parents on social media so that was wonderful.

“UGH. That is the first time my husband and I let our 13 month old “cry it out”- We gave her Tylenol, Orajel, milk, water and nothing would make her stop. I felt so incredibly heartless but nothing we were doing was helping, so we let her cry and cry she did for 45 minutes. Please tell me you went through this and your babies are older and fine. Feeling a lot like a mean mommy right now but she is asleep.”

The support from other moms was amazing! Especially my own who said, “let her cry”

(I finally listened, but you know I was a little stubborn, AND I realize I wasn’t ready to do it until I was ready to do it, and if I had rushed it, I wouldn’t have been so sure it was the right thing to do.

I certainly hope your child sleeps through the night and you are not faced with this, but if you are, I would recommend it. It’s hard that first time, but it’s teaching them to self-soothe which is a skill they need.

If it’s not for you, that is completely okay too, AND I think if you are going through what we were… it might be worth a shot. At the very least, it’s something new to try.

Like my Mom says, “Motherhood is following your instincts and experimentation”

Think About It…

momvivisleepymovie

 

Happy Debt Free Day, Hastons!!

Dear Readers,

On this day, two years ago, my husband and I became debt-free!!! We got Cachet, the debt-free dog, and then had Vivienne, our debt free baby! Yep, we cash-flowed our child. For those who don’t know, that means we didn’t go into debt to have our baby, because I have great insurance and because we paid cash we got a hefty discount.

I am trying to make this a thing, like birthday, anniversary or other important milestone, because it is. So Happy Debt Free Day to us! Play along with me, will you?

Why is being debt-free so great? Well, for starters, we owe no money to anyone.

We do have to pay rent and utilities, AND that is it.  We no longer owe student loans, store credit cards or medical bills. We had this on our fridge to help motivate us.

Capture

Target-Gone

Lane Bryant- Gone

New York and Company- Gone

Royal Prestige- Gone (that was a very stupid mistake we made with money when we were first engaged and goopy eyed and thinking we needed amazing cookware, in order to cook, never mind that it took us 3 years to pay it off)

Chase VISA- Ugh, lots of stupid, including some Manolo Blahniks I just HAD to have.

Student Loans- GONE (my husband is especially proud of that one!)

Smoky- My 2007 Toyota Carolla – Paid off October 2014

Vlad- Jeremy’s 2009 Chevy Impala- Paid off November 2015- LAST DEBT!

Take a second and breathe that in, if you have payments, that you pay each month on student loans or your car loan or your credit cards, think about what you could do with that money if you had it as your own instead of promised to creditors every month on the 15th, or 18th or 30th or whatever your billing cycle is at the time. Think of how much you could save for retirement (it’s coming faster than you think) or to pay cash for a vacation that doesn’t follow you home. Or five other things I am not talking about here, but are in your heart because it’s YOUR dream, not mine.

Maybe you don’t have a lot of debt, a couple of thousand or so, but if you are like most people (that was us too) you live paycheck to paycheck and if a 1000.00 emergency came up you wouldn’t have it, you would have to put it on a credit card.  That emergency could be a hospital stay or a dental emergency or a flat tire or a dead battery (all of which happened to us while we were working to get out of debt) and we kept having to refill our emergency fund each time.

Well, Jeremy and I decided back in 2012 to take a class about how to handle money. Believe me when I tell you, it changed our lives.

How? We got organized, we started doing a budget and figuring out where all our money was going. Believe it or not, once we looked up and saw that we were spending almost 300.00 a month on fast food and “inconvenience’ store stops for coffee and Monster and breakfast. Mine was more about Starbucks, I had to have that Caramel Macchiato and then a bagel and it’s kind of amazing how fast that stuff added up. If you do the math that is 3600.00 a year that we were just “wasting” on things that we were not even aware of until we were.

So we both went to work, I should say, went out and got extra jobs since we were both instilled with an incredible work ethic way before we ever met each other. It has to be said, I have never met a man who works as hard as mine did and does.

In this case, I had a little more free time than he did so I had three jobs, he had two and we saw a lot less of each other as we both worked to eliminate the debt that was shackling us. We didn’t mind because we knew it would be temporary and it was. I mean in the grand scheme of things, it was.

We got serious in November 2012 and finished in November 2015. 11/16/2015 to be precise.

We did a lot of sacrificing to get there, and it was worth it and it is still worth it.

Is our life stress-free because we are debt-free ? Hardly, but it definitely makes it better.

We may fight about things, but money isn’t one of them. That is an incredible blessing and I am grateful every day for it.

Here are a few pictures from the radio show where we did our debt free scream.

Here is the youtube for those who are interested-

We went to Nashville, and went on the Dave Ramsey show and screamed to the world that we were debt free. Why? Well for starters, it was the goal I wanted when we started this journey, it got me up out of bed on days I did NOT WANT to go to my second and third job. So it was very important to me to do it, then it became more about being accountable to say we ARE NEVER GOING INTO DEBT AGAIN.

According to Google, The Dave Ramsey Show surpasses 13 million weekly listeners on more than 585 radio stations and a variety of digital platforms. That is a whole lot of people to be accountable to, I can only hope to one day have that kind of readership, but baby steps, baby steps!

So besides bragging about our family’s big accomplishment, what is the point of this post? Well, the bragging is part of it, but more than anything, I really want to say, you can do this too, if you want to. If you want to know more, ask us. If not, that works too.

Think about it….

Please stop telling me my baby is fat…

ViviandMommyAugust2017

 

I will say it again, because I have been quiet about this for too long. That ends now.

Please stop telling me my baby is fat.

Please stop saying she is chunky or chubby or roly poly or “look at the little fat rolls” or or saying things to comment on her body size and shape.

So, I have thought long and hard about this post. I realize people do NOT have malicious intent when they say these mindless things and they can’t know how painful each comment is because I don’t tell them, I just smile and say nothing.

Dying inside, because they can’t possibly know that our little girl has had rapid weight gain since she was born, and no matter what we do, she keeps gaining too much weight. Our pediatricatian has had us cut back her formula and add solid foods in hopes that there would be more empty calories which would cause her to lose weight. After a few months of this, she has now sent us to an endocrinologist to try to find out what’s going on and to hopefully get some answers. We had to get her blood drawn last Wednesday and are awaiting results.

Maybe it’s nothing, maybe she is just large for her age (she was 11 pounds 8 ounces when she was born) and after she starts walking the pounds will come right off. Maybe she is producing too much growth hormone and we will have to give her medicine for it.

I don’t know. I do know I don’t want to have to explain to you why I burst into tears or fall quiet when you call my child chubby.

It certainly could have something to do with the fact that I was called chubby or fat most of my life, and it’s only now at 40 years old I have come to terms with the fact that I am the shape that I am and it is beautiful.

I desperately want to avoid that for her. I want her to be healthy and happy and love herself just as she is. The lesson I hope to impart to her is that it is a good idea to eat well and exercise and to eat a cookie or candy bar here and there, everything in moderation.

That’s how I approach my eating and health and what I hope to teach her. I am likely getting way ahead of myself here, since the her in question is 10 months old today and not even talking yet, but you have to think about these things when you are a parent. They are always watching you, and as the saying goes, “More is caught than taught, so that is why when she was born, I agreed to no longer say mean things about my body and do all I could to love my whole self and no longer think of myself as “fat” but rather curvaceous, voluptuous, and lush.

I want to be CRYSTAL clear here.  This does not preclude me from working on my body in the hope that I can build healthy habits that I can pass on to my daughter someday.

In order to do that, I have to “begin as I mean to continue” so that means I have to form the habit myself so that is why I swim. It makes me feel good, is low impact on my knees and back. I also get a “kickstart” to my day that caffeine can’t come close to touching.

Back to my point, please don’t call my child (or any child for that matter) chubby or chunky — instead maybe comment on her smile or how smart she seems or her hair or her outfit. I would imagine the parents with children who are “skinny” get tired of hearing those comments too, “feed that kid a sandwich!” “Doesn’t mommy feed you? (actually overheard at the store, the woman’s reacton was to start nursing so well played to her) so think before you say something about the size and shape of a child you see. I know, it seems harmless and you really aren’t trying to hurt my feelings or upset me, but unfortunately that doesn’t lessen the impact of your words.

This article referenced from Huffington Post actually spells it out pretty well-

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-koppelkam/body-image_b_3678534.html

One of my favourite passages is this one-

“How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one:

Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.

Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.”

 

Think About It.

8/3/2017 Update- Thank you ALL for your prayers, comments and well wishes! We heard back from the doctor- no issues with her hormone production, we have a follow up with the pediatrician next week to get a weight check and find out if we are on track.

DREAM BIG…. Why not?

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On Saturday at approximately 3pm, I will take my fourth “at bat” for Team Adam Levine on NBC’s television competition “The Voice”. Talk about shooting for the fences… Pretty exciting right?

In non-baseball terms, I am going to stand in line for many hours (historically 5)  and sing my story for a producer from NBC and hope to high heaven that this time, I AM in fact, what the producers are looking for this season. When/if that happens, they may ask me to sing a “back up” song. When/if  I make it past that round, I get a “red” card which means I was “called back” in two days and then I have to sing 2-3 current songs two days later, When/if I make it past that round, that’s when I get the chance to fly to Los Angeles and sing on national television.

As you might be able to tell from this progression, as long shots go, this one is very long.

Yes, it’s a VERY long shot, AND I am still going to take it because who is to say, that I am not exactly what they are looking for THIS season.

Beyond watching the show since 2011, and DREAMING about being on the show, what can one do to prepare for such a potentially life-changing audition? Well, in a word, practice.

So back to the list, if you were doing “the math” that’s five songs to get “performance ready”. I have read at least 20 articles about artists who auditioned and did and didn’t make it and artists who chose not to go to Los Angeles though they were chosen for one reason or another.  I have read tons of blogs about what people who have auditioned and made it past the blinds have done.. but at the end of the day, the only thing I can be responsible for is what I do to prepare. So I teamed up with my truly awesome vocal coach and we prepped, and prepped and I feel ready. This time, I didn’t just prepare the one song, I prepared all five and they are ready to go. It’s scary to even type that, because what if.. what if…. The very act of preparing FIVE songs, not just the one or even two means I am letting myself walk out in belief that this MIGHT actually happen!

First things first, I updated my DREAM board (Thank you SUSIE!) with a picture of me singing for the coaches on the “Voice” with special attention to “Adam Levine” – A long time aficionado of Maroon Five, I have favored him as my coach from the inception of the show, and I continually nod my head in agreement with what he says as he coaches his current team, often remarking to my husband, “That’s my coach, right there!” It’s heady stuff to think about it, and I realize it’s a VERY VERY long shot but that doesn’t stop me from doing it. Here’s the thing about the dream board you see, almost everything on it, has come to fruition in the years since I created it. (special thanks to Ryan Avery who says “DREAM BIG” and this is advice I take to heart)

Music is very, very, very important to me and my family. I sing to my daughter all the time, sometimes in English, sometimes in French. Let’s face it, there would be no daughter without my supportive and talented husband.
It is because I love to sing that I even met him.

So to say music important to the Haston family is a strong understatement

The very first time I ever did karaoke, it reawakened in me the desire for performing, which had lain dormant for many years. I started going to karaoke and singing. I was in a few plays but nothing musical, my strength is 80’s hits and something you might hear on Broadway, as well as some current artists but mostly I trend towards standards by people like Bette Midler and her ilk, so you know.. no pressure.

With help of a talented music coach, I branched out and learned how to sing several different genres including opera.

I got my first singing part with Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Austin’s production of  “H.M.S. Pinafore” in the Summer of  2006. I was asked to be in the chorus and loved it, It was hard work and extremely rewarding and I added opera to the genres of songs I sing.

I kept singing and then my husband, then fiance (we were planning the wedding) we heard about this show, “The Voice” that was going to be on tv, we said that’s cool, it should be fun to watch. As we heard more about it, and watched the first season, one of the commercials talked about auditions and we both got excited and decided to audition in August 2011 (right after our wedding) and I made the mistake that time of singing a song but changing the phrasing and it did not go well for me. The second time I auditioned was in Austin, in July 2013, and I met some awesome people in line (she is actually auditioning again too!) – The third time I auditioned, I drove to Houston to stand in line with over 9,000 people in cold and blustery (did I mention it was outside?) and I sang “Maybe this Time” from Cabaret, (gotta love the irony!) – I posted on the blog about that one and then when they sent out the email saying that auditions were in Austin again, I got excited all over again and reached out to some of my other very talented friends to ask if they were auditioning too. I know what you are thinking.. why? would you tell other people and thus lower your chances to get picked? Here’s my thoughts on that, If I am meant to get picked for this season that won’t stop anyone else I tell about who subsequently auditions from getting picked.

Remember, dear readers, my mission in life is to inspire one person at a time.. What if my telling them gets them to go audition and they make it? How awesome would that be?
Of course I hope I make it.. you don’t work this hard or prepare this much to just do it “for fun”.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, maybe just maybe, so it will inspire you to shoot for the moon and go for something that seems big and scary. What do you have to lose?

I guess the better question is, what do you have to gain?

Think About It…

 

 

Self Loathing or Self Loving?

flyflyfly

Dear Readers,

Yesterday I had occasion to talk to several people in my capacity as coach and it was not until much later in the day that I realized that what I had said had made a difference and helped motivate someone to do something that they were scared or nervous about doing.

In case you are wondering, I am being vague to protect their privacy.

I am bringing this up because over and over again, I hear people around me say things like.. ” I am not creative but.. ” or “I am not really organized but..” basically painting themselves with labels like “can’t” or “I am not”  and the truth is.. what you say about yourself tends to stick.. Take me for instance, for YEARS, I said.. ” I am not good at math” and I even made jokes that were clever and verbose to cover my embarrassment…. e.g. “I have a fractious relationship with numbers”

Then one day I realized that it didn’t serve me to say it because it’s not true and saying it like that over and over again further cements the notion. To be brutally honest, my husband is better at them, and I have skill with numbers despite telling myself for most of my life I was bad at them.

I am not saying you can just “tell yourself” you are good at something till you believe it and that is enough.. No. You need to take action as well.

In reality, I am really good with numbers. “I have worked hard to become so.” Every time I calculated how much was left for us to pay on debt (and I mean down to the penny) — since according to Jeremy, we paid off 37,000.00 but according to me, it was 36,945.91 to be precise that we paid off to get debt-free.

I used to say, “I am not creative”. Yesterday, a good friend of mine, Dr. Keya Howard in fact, said, It’s a good thing you are so creative (just off-hand) and I didn’t even blink an eye while agreeing with her because it’s true, I am creative.

I spent a lot of time telling myself otherwise, until my Mom, and several other friends and family of choice members pointed it out to me, here and there and I began to realize it’s true, I am creative.

But back to you dear reader, what do you regularly say about yourself that isn’t true?

Here are some examples, I heard recently

“I’m not creative, I leave that to other people”

“I am not organized, so I am scared that this will all fall apart”

“I am not a runner”

“I can’t write a book, who would read it?”

We have the potential to be our #1 fan or our absolute worst critic, most of us choose the latter, but why not the former?

I challenge you to choose your words carefully, especially when talking about yourself.

What would your life look like if you chose to hold up the pom poms for yourself and shouted YAY ME!

Think About It…..cropped-cropped-imagejfminc.png