Stress. We all have it, to one degree or another, it’s part of life. But why? Why do we put up with it? Stress, medically speaking, and in manageable doses, is good for us, but who likes anything in manageable doses? Not us. Not Americans. We don’t do “manageable”. We go All Out, All In, All The Time. We like our heroes/heroines larger than life, our predicaments overwhelming, our dramas Real Housewives size, or bigger. We simply don’t like things that are manageable in any way, shape, or form.
This seems counterintuitive. Why would we want unmanageable stress? Why would we want to raise our blood pressure unnecessarily? Why would we want to spend money we don’t have seeing doctors we don’t believe and taking prescriptions we don’t think are working? (OK, I hear the murmurs, the crowd of folks saying “I don’t like stress, I don’t go looking for stress, stress finds me”, I don’t believe you). Whether or not you think you are intentionally engaging in stressful practices, you are.
Do you watch t.v.? Stressful. Do you argue with friends about politics? religion? the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots battle to be the most despised team in America? Stressful. Do you partake in team-building exercises at your office? Stressful. Do you dine at places that offer 18,637 menu choices? Stressful. Are you employed, unemployed, under-employed, overworked, underpaid? Stressful. Everything we do (aside from bubble baths, petting animals, & listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon), is stressful. The problem isn’t that we do these things – these stress inducing “pleasures”, the problem is we don’t know how to engage in these acts dispassionately, like a good judge is able to do (with the case before them), maybe not a “so-called” judge, but a good judge.
Managing stress is essential to living a healthy life. We need some stresses to make sure we don’t get “soft” but we don’t need to take all of those stresses to bed, or make them a part of our physical being. Management, real management of stress, is essential…especially in the age of Trump (doesn’t matter if you love him or wish the “Witch Doctor” from Beetlejuice would pay him a visit, the man induces stress with his incessant whining and crying and bullying and lying). So there are two viable options available for most of us (that would include everyone who can’t afford to “get away” for six months at their villa in Manarola, Liguria). Manage the stress, or…stop caring.
This makes for a tough choice, for some. If you are of certain means, and not generally on the receiving end of aspersion casting (think White, male, “good looking“, like David Beckham, Tom Hardy, or Chris Hemsworth), it’s easier to say “fuck it, who cares!“. But, if you’re like the rest of us, the Betties, Als, Geralds, Janias, Estephanies, Juan Pablos, Ntsums, Xangs, Khadiijas & Suleymanns, the choice is not so easy. Our lives are more complicated in all matters relating to “us”. Caring, about everything related to who we are, how we feel, how those close to us feel, and even the concerns of those who aren’t close but are part of our larger community/humanity. We can’t say “fuck it”, it’s not how we do.
Stress defines us— who we are, why we exist, our raison d’être, so to speak (not the beer). It offers others a glimpse into what drives us, what sustains us, and why some days are especially difficult. We need stress, we just don’t need it to control us. So, rather than running away from it, or from who you are, figure out how to manage it and then help others do the same. What this looks like (management) will differ based on the individual. But remember, although we are individuals, we’re all in this together…well, most of us. And, as Prince reminds us, when “the elevator tries to bring you down, Go Crazy“. Occasionally, that’s the best response to any situation.
Well, here we are— 2017! It’s here! Really, this is it! I guess. I would say the event was anticlimactic but that would mean I truly believed something grand would happen, but it didn’t, and really, I had no expectations. I know that very little ever happens on New Year’s Eve but there is often a feeling associated with the coming of the new year (especially after the Longest December ever) and that feeling was missing this go-round. New Year’s Eve didn’t feel like a new dawn or a new day; it felt like the coming of a new school year…if you’re the student who spends more time hiding from bullies, looking for quiet places to read, and coming up with new sicknesses so as to escape the drama that awaits. It was—well…it was an eve.
Having spent the past month thinking about the possibilities that exist for the coming year (which is a weird exercise in positive thought process while remaining cognizant of the current realities), I’ve come to the conclusion that this is not the best use of time and is most certainly one way to drive oneself mad. Therefore, as a way to think about 2017 in different terms, sort of non-political, politically-motivated-(in most cases)-musical terms, I’ve figured out which songs will end the year as the Top 17 most played tracks (and a few more that will console, humor, and assuage the dark thoughts). They span a variety of musical styles and eras, and they will definitely get a lot of “air time”. Whether listening to Ryan Seacrest and friends, Pandora, I-pod, I-cloud, or spinning vinyl on the turntable, here’s the must-have list of music to get you through 2017 (and probably a few more years). And if you’re wondering how this ties into policy, consider these songs as a catalyst to define “the problem”. Formulate ideas about how to address the problem. Implement the “solution” to said problem. And, then, after some time has passed, evaluate your outcome (and don’t feel the need to tell everybody about the results; most of the time, nobody will read your findings, and those that do will question your graphs and say they are irrelevant and/or hard to understand (this is not your fault, graphs can be hard)).
#17)Patience – Guns & Roses: We will count on many virtues to get through this stretch of instability, weirdness, cockamamie, tomfoolery, downright inane ideas, & more, and patience may be the most important of these virtues. Keep a paper bag handy for those times when you are completely out of patience and just need to breath deeply, in a personal space. The melancholy of November Rain will also be popular, especially after a good deep breathing session.
#15)The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil Scott-Heron: The revolution was not televised in the ’60s & will not be televised this time either; the revolution takes place in the mind. Once we, collectively, get on the same page, the revolution will happen through the will of the people. Just remember what the crow says, “CAA” (not all crows enunciate the “w”), Communication, Action, Advocacy. Communicate with everyone, not just those you agree with. Don’t simply discuss what needs to be done, MOVE on those ideas. Advocate, advocate, advocate; if elected officials “don’t know” something is a problem, call, email, write a letter, visit your leaders at their office, get their attention somehow.
#14)The Times They Are A Changin’ – Bob Dylan: It’s true. And, it’s happening at rates of speed much greater than we’ve ever seen. Change: political; social; economic; demographic; linguistic; industrial; religious; and even the ways we think about change; is moving at light speed, or faster. We might be overwhelmed by the rapidity with which this is happening, but if we focus on those items that we can exhibit some sort of control/influence over, together we’ll get through. It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).
#13)Wake Up – Rage Against The Machine: A group that never backed away from making a political statement, Rage produced a lot of music that made people stop and think about what was happening in the politics of the day, with historical references to add weight to their argument. Their music has awakened many a young person to injustices that are happening in their own backyard. Killing in the Name is another piece that provides added effect for those who are having trouble getting the sleep out of their eyes. When an unusually ridiculous event occurs and you need to let loose on the punching bag, crank up some Rage.
#12)Changes – Tupac: The changes we’ve seen in our relatively short history, are immense. That said, we have a long way to go before we reach an equitable society. Listen to Tupac’s words, then listen to Sam Cooke and Billie Holiday. Reflect on the struggles, the realities, the lives— fire yourself up, and get moving.
#11)True Colors – Cyndi Lauper: This has a “punchers chance” of being Song of the Year as we will constantly be reminded that the True Colors of some Americans were on display & “This” is exactly what was requested on 8 November 2016. Now is not the time to shake our heads and hope for the best, we need to talk to people; people we don’t know, people we think we have nothing in common with, people who are—people. The urban-rural divide has always existed and it’s gotten more intense as our politicians have exploited it for their political gain. We’ve gotta call them out (the politicians) and discuss civic matters with our fellow citizens that live in “those” places. Sure, it will be uncomfortable getting to know folks who you feel you have nothing in common with, but I assure you (as a person who spent the 1st half of my life in a small farming/blue collar/industrial community, and the 2nd half of my life in a variable mix of metropolitan areas in numerous locales around the country, working a variety of restaurant, retail, & education jobs) we have far more in common than you think.
#10)Follow Your Arrow – Kasey Musgraves & Details in the Fabric – Jason Mraz: (it’s a tie) When the going gets tough, it’s hard to remain true to the person you are. Surround yourself with good people, good food, good energy, & constantly remind yourself of who you are, how you got “here”, and where you’re headed.
We are Rome, Aztec Mexico, Easter Island paradigm
We are followers of Jimmy Jones, cutting in the kool-aid line
We are Animal Farm Pigs, we are a Terry Gilliam film
We are fear Oligarchy, we are wolves in wolves' clothing,
We are this planet's kidney stones
In the process of getting passed, metamorphosis from first to last
A system breaking down beyond repairs
A product of three million millionaires, a hundred million easy marks
We are Marie Antoinette, we are Joseph McCarthy
We've finally become the divided states
A nation built on freedom, fear, and hate, the denotation of Irony
We all want a Hollywood end, but we're getting a foreign one
The script has already been penned, and titled, "the epitaph of a drowning nation"
#7)What Do You Mean – Justin Bieber: Along with Sorry, (Lo Siento)and Where Are Ü Now, Bieber will be lauded for his unintentionally written future-present political masterpieces. With each new Trump-Tweet aimed at “guiding” foreign policy, we will hear people, the world over, screaming, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN? HOW IS HE IN CHARGE OF ANYTHING?” And millions of people in Los Estados Unidos responding “SORRY! We didn’t really think it would get this bad; it could be worse…right?” Knowing full well it really couldn’t be that much worse but practicing self-delusion as a means of self-preservation. After a brief moment of reflection, the phrase, “Where are you now“ will replay in our minds until we are snapped back to reality.
#6)Yes WeCan – John Legend & will.i.am: We can. We will. We must. Remember that it’s about the long game. Short-term gains at the expense of long-term foundational achievements is neither prudent nor practical in the “business” of nationhood. We’ve done it before, we can do it again!
#5)Man In The Mirror – Michael Jackson: “If [we] want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make the change” None of us are perfect (shocking, I know). So put in the time, make those changes and then start having those hard conversations with your frenemies and others with whom you experience unpleasantries. Tell them, The Way You Make Me Feel, is not ok. And if that doesn’t work and you get the sneaking suspicion that They Don’t Really Care About ‘Us’, focus all of your energy on Getting Out The Vote! Some of the folks we’re going to be hearing from are Smooth Criminals and the only way to get rid of them is to vote out the Head Tweeter.
#4)I Hold On – Dirks Bentley: It’s the message we need to hear everyday. Times will get tough (if you think we’ve already experienced the worst of it, Hold On!). The key is to remember that unless the world ends via nuclear holocaust (and I’m not denying the plausibility of that), this too shall pass. In the meantime, it’s going to be a rough ride; so buckle-up, find a little liquid courage if needed, and forge a path forward.
#3)No Woman No Cry – Bob Marley: Considering it took us nearly 150 years (in this country) to figure out that a woman’s vote was just as important as a man’s vote, we shouldn’t be surprised that it will take at least 100 years to see the first woman elected President. 2020 would be a fine time to make that happen. We might think of it as a Redemption Song.
#2)What Goes Around…Comes Around – Justin Timberlake: JT will likely have several selections that make the year’s end Top 50 list: Cry Me A River(this will get more play as we approach November and buyer’s remorse really starts to kick in); Sexy Back (this is the song that will be put on repeat as we come to terms with the lack of class, dignity, and general civility that will be on display, from Day 1). As for the #2 hit of 2017, WGA…CA will be played by millions to remind the anti-Obama crowd, especially those who took delight in every obstruction put forth by the House and Senate, that the Golden Rule means what it says.
#1)Fight The Power – Public Enemy: Every Day All Day; use your “Voice” to bring attention where needed. This may come in the form of art, science, math, writing, history, sport, or just showing up and doing what you do, everyday. Fight for what is good. Fight for what is right. Fight for what is necessary. By Any Means Necessary.
In addition to those hits, several more songs will help us through this coming period of uncertainty. Additionally, make sure to take care of yourself in order that you may do your best to help get this country back on track. It’s going to take a real team effort and I know we’re up to the challenge.
Resolutions come like waves upon the shore, at this time of year. There are endless ideas of what to do, how to do it, how to make it last, and how not to give up, give in, or give out. I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution; I had a sneaking suspicion I wouldn’t make it to the gym after a couple of weeks, wouldn’t want to live a life devoid of donuts, ice cream, and beer, or couldn’t contemplate writing down all of the things I wanted to accomplish in the coming year—knowing it was an exercise in futility. What I do enjoy is reading other people’s lists of favorite things.
Top 10 lists (or top 20, top 5, etc.) are one of my favorite things to peruse when I have a few moments of spare time. Occasionally they are titled wrong (maybe, My Favorite Craft Beers would have been more appropriate) or seem way off base for a variety of reasons, and sometimes they are (in my opinion) spot on; but most often, I know far less about the list than the person/people who compiled it and I just enjoy learning about other folks’ favorite: restaurants/bars, state parks, tailgate traditions, music, bicycles, scenic drives, wines/beers, bad t.v.et al. I’m sure that New Years resolutions and lists of things to: accomplish, avoid, start, end, learn, unlearn, and whatever else we can think of, will be read by millions of people over the next month. So as a kind of tangent to a “Best” list, I offer you 50 ways to make 2016 Great.
Use common sense. This may be obvious in thought but that doesn’t always translate in deed. See # 2.
Dress for the weather. This is unsolicited advice for anyone who is too cool to wear a hat when it’s -6° with a windchill of -23° (this applies to adults as well as teens).
Try a new cuisine. Be it Indian, Ethiopian, Thai, or Mediterranean, try it, you’ll probably like it. And if you don’t, well, at least you won’t have to wonder anymore.
Be really nice to a complete stranger. It makes them feel good—and nervous, simultaneously.
Exercise your brain. Engage in civil debates/conversations with those who hold views with which you disagree. Try to understand why they feel the way they do and then explain your stance and how you’ve come to believe it. You may be surprised to find you have much more in common than you thought.
Exercise your heart-Part 1. Walking, biking, swimming, x-country skiing, skateboarding, movement of some sort for some extended period of time at least a couple of times a week. And a glass of red wine each day doesn’t hurt.
Help raise a generation of girls that are more concerned with wavelengths than weight, more interested in philosophy than hair styles, more connected to their community than to glorified imagesthat are too often not representative of reality, and more invested in their social well-being than they are in the misinformation provided by the “experts” in the media and magazine trades. Girls’ obsession with body image and appearance is not healthy for them, psychologically, physically, or emotionally. Praise girls for their intelligence, strength, curiosity, independence, courage, determination, forthrightness, astuteness, wit, cunning, and perseverance. And tell them they are beautiful; not because of outward appearances but owing to the fact that they are wonderful & amazing & kind, & compassionate, & thoughtful. Reinforce, daily, the attributes that are truly the most important in the grand scheme of life.
Laugh. You may need the assistance of Wanda Sykes, Richard Pryor, Aziz Ansari, Amy Poehler, or other comics, but don’t let that stop you. Laughing is an excellent stress reliever.
Exercise your heart-Part 2. Love unconditionally. Don’t ask for or expect Love in return, just Love for the benefit of giving Love. It feels good.
Splurge on something you really enjoy. This doesn’t require the expenditure of hundreds or thousands of dollars. If you love coffee, grab a cup of Dogwood(Minneapolis), High Grounds (Baltimore), or Deeper Roots (Cincinnati), sit, relax, and savor it; be present for the experience.
Jump around. You don’t need to be at a Wisconsin Badgers football game to do this. Just don’t do it in the middle of a really important meeting.
Make fun of yourself. Nobody has ever achieved perfection (not even the Holiest of Holy figures) so why not make light of something you did that was not very bright. We are human, therefore we occasionally screw up. So long as you learn from your mistakes, it’s easy to look back and laugh.
Spend a day, or three, without a screen. This includes p.c.s, laptops, phones, nooks, i-pads, kindles, apple watches, t.v.s and everything else. It’s quite interesting to suddenly notice the everyday events that you’ve been missing for years.
Play a game. Even if you don’t particularly care for games or competition, find a few friends and play a game of Yahtzee, Scattegories, or Sheepshead.
Meet a neighbor. This is happening less and less as we become more and more polarized and concerned with privacy. We isolate ourselves from anyone we don’t meet at work, church, or school. Who knows, you may live next to a brewer (bonus), baker (bonus), or Marine (double bonus).
Go to your local bookseller(not Amazon) or library and ask an expert for a recommendation. Reading exercises the brain and provides the reader with new ideas and new ways to view the world.
Shop small & local. Skip the superstores and get to know the business owners, and employees, at the little quaint/quirky places that make a community what it is.
Make something delicious and drop it off at the Police Station or Fire Department. They work hard for the good of the community and don’t often receive accolades for their daily grind. Additionally, our society tends to forget that for every misguided act by a First Responder, a thousand outstanding acts are accomplished without any acknowledgement. Whether in Farmington, New Hampshire, Minnesota, or New Mexico, or anyplace not named Farmington, show them some Love; and while you’re there, get to know them by name, they’re part of your community.
Volunteer at a school, nursing home, homeless shelter, animal shelter, or on a community project that is providing hope to all those who are experiencing difficulties.
Make a card for someone. Birthday; Get Well; Congratulations! Whatever.
Learn something new. The options for on-line learning are seemingly endless. Many are free or low cost and learning helps exercise your brain. Other options include: read a “how-to” book; volunteer at a business; or take up a new hobby; and once you learn the basics, practice, practice, practice.
Go to a gallery opening or art museum. If you aren’t sure that you like art, google something that you like and add “art” to the end. Like, “fishing art“. Use the results to find an artist or gallery that is nearby or coming to your area.
Learn about the issues & candidates for the 2016 election. If you choose not to vote, you give up your voice in the process (which is one way to communicate your belief that the politicians don’t connect with you). It’s not simply whether your chosen candidates/ballot measures win or lose, it’s about engaging with society and keeping democracy alive and well (even if we still use the electoral college for the top office).
Help create and/or change policy.Engage with your elected representatives. Write a letter or email, call, advocate for a cause, help raise money, engage others in conversations and make your case.
Teach someone how to do something. While much of our nation seems to have forgotten the importance of passing on information via individualized learning (apprenticeships, coaching & cultivation, guidance, training, whatever one chooses to call it), it’s hasn’t yet been erased from our collective memory. Help someone, young, old or inbetween, learn how to do the basics of a job. Look at it as an opportunity to carry your legacy forward.
Thank Service Women & Men and Veterans, whenever the opportunity presents itself. If you’ve served, you know the deal. If not, be thankful for those who have.
Find out the history of your community. It’s good to know why your city/county chose the figures they did, for commemorative statues and plaques. It’s also fun to learn about the immigrants/groupsthat first called your locale home; and learn about the events that have since shaped that place.
“Barn’s burnt down, now I can see the moon.” Mizuta Masahide (Japanese Poet: 1657-1723) was telling people to find something good in whatever tragedy comes upon us. This doesn’t apply to every bad thing that happens. Some eventshave no upside—none. But many do.
Don’t text or use social media et al. while driving. (refer back to # 1)
Sports should be undertaken as a means of improving: physical fitness, discipline, hand-eye/foot-eye coordination, working as a team, camaraderie, & building character. Vince Lombardi’s adage about winning not beingeverything… only applies to athletes who get paid to play the game. When it comes to youth sports, specifically the highly organized type, try to remember that your child’s odds of making it as a pro are 1 in a really big number (#s vary depending on the sport). So encourage children to have fun, learn, and most importantly, understand the realities of competition (some kids are bigger, faster, stronger—due to genetics, drive, opportunity, & access). Likewise, parents should know when to back off and let their kids focus on other activities. It’s just a game.
Don’t “Just Do It”. Think about the potential action and the consequences of said action, before engaging in it.
Keep everything in perspective. Our world has enough drama. The person who didn’t clean out the microwave, make a new pot of coffee, or unjam the copier, didn’t do it to spite you personally. They are just not thoughtful or may be pre-occupied with a deadline, a family emergency, financial uncertainty, medical difficulty, etc., etc.
Keep “context” at the forefront of every situation. Context is the main idea that is missing from so many highly charged arguments. If two people are talking about social security, one being a retired teacher, the other being a 30 year-old investment banker, they may talk in terms of “benefits” and “entitlements”, respectively. If they were to clarify why each uses the language they do, their conversation may be less heated and more productive. Politicians and each party’s base are often guilty of not understanding (and not caring about) the context before engaging in rhetoric.
Rock the boat—just don’t capsize it. When you encounter situations that are obviously not in keeping with maintaining civility in the workplace or society at large, or are undermining the public’s confidence in the company/org/gov’t/partnerships, point it out and work to right the wrong. This is not easy, but then, what worth doing is? Recruit friends, co-workers, like-minded folk, to help (strength in numbers). Whether it be a loudmouth who is always injecting their thought into “a-to-b” conversations, equity in funding schools and programs, or gross negligence on the part of upper management, Do[ing] theRight Thing will make the community more civil, the organization more trusted, and the day-to-day routines more manageable.
Re: -build; -use; -new; -cycle. Until we come up with a better way to use trash, we should try to cut down on it. Environmentalists shouldn’t be the only ones concerned with the long-term viability of our planet.
Do things right the first time. When we half-ass a project, in order to spend time on another project, we often end up with two half-assed projects. This is: a) non-sensical; b) not efficient; & c) ends up creating additional work because we have to fix both projects.
Strengthen your spirit. This might mean doing something you’ve been avoiding, because it’s not fun, or really time consuming, but once it’s done, your spirit is likely to feel a boost because the “job” is no longer hanging over your head.
Support a local non-profit/charity. You might only have a few dollars to spare, or you might have a few thousand, either way, help out a charity that speaks to you. Lots of smaller charities are doing great work on budgets that are a fraction of what the United Way has.
Love Yourself. This can be really difficult when things aren’t going well personally, professionally, spiritually… but remember, nobody is perfect. Give yourself credit for what you are accomplishing for self, family, work, and move forward with a renewed passion for life.
Be nice to everybody (until they give you reasons not to be nice). Even people that are a-holes most of the time like it when someone is nice. We don’t know what others are going through so try to be nice for as long as possible. When you can no longer be nice, try to walk away and/or ignore the rude/hateful/angry/demeaning/childlike behaviors. If they persist, a quick splash of ice water in the face usually shuts them down.
Be somebody’s “bootstraps”. The fallacy of pulling one’s self up by his/her bootstraps is alive and well. The problem with it is two-fold: 1) Nobody has ever gotten from “here” to “there” entirely via solo effort; 2) Some people don’t have “boots”, let alone the straps to pull them up. Bootstraps, in real terms, are the people that provide the education, opportunities, and access required to do anything in life. Parents/guardians, teachers, mentors, employers, co-workers, friends & extended family, and sometimes perfect strangers, play a role in helping us achieve success. The amount of success we achieve is determined by two connected notions: 1) our individual idea of success; & more importantly 2) the circumstances into which we were born. If you have the opportunity to help a person in any way, do so. Be a part of somebody’s “bootstraps” and see the difference (R.W. Emerson) you can make.
Consider others’ feelings. The owner of the NFL team from Washington refuses to change the name/mascot of his team. He says that the term is used out of respect for Native Americans. And while it’s true that some First Peoples may not take offense with the name, many do. If you still aren’t sure about this and think it’s just being politically correct, imagine this scenario: People start calling your spouse/partner “ass-face”. Not because s/he likes the name, just because said people think it’s fitting. Some even say, “it’s a term of endearment and said out of respect for his/her smart-ass comments” (which doesn’t make any sense to you or your spouse). You really hate the name but can’t convince others to stop using it because they think it’s ok. The situation in Washington D.C. is different in-so-far as it pertains to several million people being offended, as opposed to one.
Eat healthy. A lot of healthy foods can be expensive (almonds, wild-caught fish, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh cherries) or kind of expensive (granola, coconuts, blueberries, leaner cuts of meat, chia seeds, olives) but many aren’t (avocadoes, broccoli, peppers, onions, garlic, oatmeal, spinach, brown rice, bananas, sweet potatoes, milk, apples, eggs, fresh pineapple, ginger, & legumes of all sorts).
If ever you are occupying a space that sits more than 10 feet off the ground and you overhear someone remark that they believe the “structural integrity of the edifice may have been compromised…” make your way to the nearest exit as quickly as possible, especially if they look like they know what they are talking about.
Hold your own, know your name, & go your own way. (Jason Mraz-Details in the Fabric). If you don’t know who you are or what you stand for, figure that out. Don’t let others determine the arc of your existence. Some pretty wise Greeks told us to “Know Thyself“. If we spend our lives constantly conforming to others desires/beliefs, we are not truly living, we are merely surviving. I’m not saying “grab life by the horns and take control of everything around you”, rather, understand the person you are and embrace that being. Work on improving the aspects that you are unhappy with but don’t attempt to make sweeping changes to the self that resides within.
I hope you are able to take away a few ideas for the upcoming year and those acts/concepts make the day-to-day better in some small way.
May 2016 be Healthy, Happy, and filled with Wonderful Surprises.