Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I mentioned in the previous post that I used to memorize a lot of poetry. Here is one (written from memory - I did, however, check the punctuation):
The Sick Rose
O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
It's by one of my all-time fave poets: William Blake - a brilliant poet and artist.
P.S. The photo is not mine this time, it's from FreeFoto.com. I happened to not have a picture of a rose handy.
I was reading a friend's blog where she gives this "Book Challenge". So here goes:
- One book that changed your life:
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. It changed the way I view business life, my career and money. It really opened my eyes. I bought it on a business trip to the UK. I was there for a week and was reading the book in my hotel room. I became so disgusted with all my credit card debt that I wanted to cut up all my credit cards right then and there. However, I did not have a pair of scissors handy! But I was so determined to destroy my credit cards that I actually bent and twisted them out of shape so that I would no longer be able to use them!! And I haven't used them since then - it was about a year ago. I only have one credit card left and it's the company one. I realized that buying something on sale with a credit card just does not make sense - at least not if you end up paying interest on it for several months (years?)...
- One book you've read more than once:
1984 by George Orwell. It's to this day, the only book I've ever read more than twice. I read it in high school when I was around 15 and I read it three times in a row. It made a huge impression on me. I still feel that all I ever learnt about politics, I learnt from that book.
- One book you'd want on a desert island:
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
- One book that made you giddy:
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. It's probably also partly been the inspiration for this blog.
- One book that wracked you with sobs:
I have trouble remembering. Perhaps the Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller? Or Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte? I really don't remember. Movies make me cry all the time, but books do it more rarely. They do make me cry, but I just can't remember which ones did...
- One book that you wish had been written:
"A Complete Guide to Happiness". I checked in Amazon and there is no such book. However, there is one called The Complete Guide to Happiness and Success by Hazel Krantz. Perhaps I need to check it out? ;-)
- One book you wish had never been written:
All books have their place. There are of course books that I choose not to read. Such as Harlequin romance novels. However, I have often thought that it might be fun to write them! There's money to be made in that. Maybe some day I will... ;-)
- One book you're currently reading:
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. It's not, BTW, a book about motorcycle maintenance but a novel about values.
- One book you've been meaning to read:
I could list about a thousand books here. Perhaps Moby Dick by Herman Melville would best qualify. I've even memorized the first page but have never read it! "Call me Ishmael. Some years ago, never mind how long precisely, having little money in my pocket and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I decide to sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation..." (or something along those lines). I used to memorize a lot of poetry when I was young-er: I've always had a burning need to use my brain in some way. But I've never done crossword puzzles and I don't do math or play chess. I have, however, studied 13 languages and memorized tons of poetry. I was once in a bar in Paris with an international group and I started reciting poetry. I could've kept going for hours (and I'm only slightly exaggerating!) A South African guy (whom I didn't actually know) said "It must be really wonderful to have all that poetry inside your head!". I'd never thought about it that way. For me it was just a way of challenging my brain - kind of like flexing my cranial muscles. ;-)
- Now tag five bloggers:
I won't but the Book Challenge is here - up for grabs. Drop me a note if you decide to take the challenge, so I can go check out what you write. :-)
Be readin' ya!
P.S. The photo shows a nice place for reading. It's from the summer house mentioned in the previous post.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Hey There Bloggers and Blog-Readers,
In my previous blog, I mentioned having attended a birthday party recently. It was at a summer "cottage" - well, more of a summer house, really. It was an amazingly beautiful place in Särkisalo. My boyfriend's uncle and his wife have owned the place for about 20 years and have been making improvements the whole time. It really was like paradise. The garden was really well kept, there were many different kinds of flowers, an orchard, a separate sauna building by the sea (a wood-heated sauna of course) and even a japanese-style bathtub (like a wooden hot tub). I'd like to have a house to live in all year round in a place like that, not just for the summer.
This beautiful pot of sunflowers was one of the many bouquets of flowers displayed - doesn't it look a lot like the Van Gogh painting?!!? :-)
I am now planning on planting sunflower seeds in our own garden! :-)
Now this is what a bunch of roses should look like!!!
I went to my boyfriend's uncle's 60th B-day party last weekend and he had received a bouquet of sixty roses - they were sooooo gorgeous!!
This is also a "slight" hint for my boyfriend, since I have a big birthday coming up... ;-) Well, not 'til January...
Here's a thought: every birthday, I'd like to get a bouquet of roses with the same number of roses as my age! And no, flowers do not replace the gift, they come in addition to the gift! Oh, and take a wild guess what colour roses I'd like! ;-)
Pink Lady with the Rosy Cheeks
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Well Bloggers, Bloggees, et al,
This is a historic moment: this is Pink Lady's post number 100!
Here are some stats:
Pink Lady's first post was on March 25th of this year - so about 5 months ago. That means that Pink Lady has posted 20 times per month on average! That's a lot! It's an average of about 5 times a week. I didn't realize it was that much. The post currently has 843 hits - that's around 8 per post.
Anyhoo that was just some fun (??) facts....
Why blog? Isn't it kind of just like hanging out your dirty laundry for all the world to see?
I was reading an interesting booklet by Seth Godin on blogging (Godin is a famous blogger himself). According to him, there are 3 types of blogs:
- Cat blogs: about you and your cat, i.e. of no interest to anyone but you (this is according to Godin)
- Boss blogs: blogs intended for a certain group of people - so kind of like an internal communications channel for a company or for an organization, group, etc.
- Buzz blogs: blogs intended to sell something - products, services - or ideas whose time has come.
I was wondering what category my blog falls into - surely the first one according to Godin. However, I like to think (though I'm probably enormously conceited even to think this!!) that I create a little bit of positive buzz in the world as well. But who knows.
The other thing that I'm wondering about is why then - if cat blogs interest no-one - are blogs such as Greek Tragedy so hugely popular? Stephanie Klein's blog is so popular that she got a book deal out of it.
Maybe it's because we humans simply are voyeuristic: we like reality TV - and we like to read about other people's lives. And not just famous ones, we like to read about anybody's life if he or she writes about it in an interesting enough way.
And how do we define interesting in this context? I would say that what makes it interesting is that it has universal appeal: so we're back from the personal to the general!
Keep on Bloggin'
P.S. The photo was taken in Mykonos, Greece. Sun-dried squid is a local delicacy - I wouldn't know, didn't taste it...
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
This is a traditional Finnish rag rug. People my grandmother's age (and sometimes much younger) used to cut up all of their old clothing to make rugs out of. This rug is one of the many, many at my boyfriend's parents' farm - they are all hand-made. Wow! That's somehow so ecological! Talk about Wardrobe Refashion! ;-)
Speking of rags to riches, I've lately been thinking about money - what is it's value really? Are we free when we have lots of money? Or are we free when we realize that we don't really need any? Hmmmmm.....
I'm not really sure what I think. I heard this somewhere: "Money doesn't buy happiness, but it also doesn't buy sadness. Would you rather be happy and rich or happy and poor?".
Is money really the root of all evil? I think not. I think that money is simply power and power can be used for good or for evil. Money is a tool. And it's up to the user of that tool to decide what to use it for. A hammer can be used to build a house or to hit someone on the head with - but that doesn't mean that a hammer is evil.
I guess the problems come when people think so highly of money that they're willing to do anything to get it. But then, is the problem money - or simply selfishness and immorality?
This gorgeous creature was sculpted by some "sand artist" in Naxos, Greece - I have no idea who, but I simply had to get the photo.
The title of this post is a reference to a Neil Young song where he sings "Hello cowgirl in the sand" (I don't remember which album or even which song...!). I saw Neil Young live in Helsinki several years ago - it was by far the best rock concert I've ever seen!!! I've seen lots of artists like Madonna and The Rolling Stones (at Wembley Stadium in London!) who have a lot of props and back-up dancers and what-not. Those are OK, but there was something simply magical about the combination of a big stadium and a guy wearing jeans, a T-shirt and looking like he hadn't washed his hair in a week. He's such a good performer that the audience was just spell-bound. He didn't need anything - just a guitar and a mike and he had a whole stadium full of people hanging from his every word and every note. Amazing concert!
This mermaid reminds me of another old Madonna song: Cherish - and only because of the video!
So tired of broken hearts and losing at this game
Before I start this dance
I'll take a chance in telling you
I want more than just romance
You are my destiny
I can't let go -- baby, can't you see?
Cupid please take your aim at me
Cherish the thought
Of always having you here by my side
Oh baby I cherish the joy
You keep bringing it into my life
I'm always singing it
Cherish the strength
You got the power to make me feel good
And baby I perish the thought
Of ever leaving, I never would
I was never satisfied with casual encounters
I can't hide my need for two hearts that bleed with burning love
That's the way it's got to be
Romeo and Juliet, they never felt this way I bet
So don't underestimate my point of view
Cherish the thought
Of always having you here by my side
Oh baby I cherish the joy
You keep bringing it into my life
I'm always singing it
Cherish the strength
You got the power to make me feel good
And baby I perish the thought
Of ever leaving, I never would
Who? You! Can't get away I won't let you
Who? You! I could never forget to
Cherish is the word I use to remind me of your love
Keep giving it, keep giving it to me
Boy keep giving me all, all of your joy
Give me faith -- I will always cherish you
Romeo and Juliet, they never felt this way I bet
So don't underestimate my point of view
Give me faith, give me joy, my boy
I will always cherish you
Hey There Blogeroos!
This photo was also taken in Naxos, Greece. It somehow makes me think of the Narnia books - maybe there was a street lamp like that in one of the books? I really can't remember, since it's been so many years since I last saw those books.
My Mom used to read the books out loud to us when we were kids. She read in Finnish and one of my earliest memories is wondering why my Mom reads so badly - it was only years later that I realized that back then, the books hadn't been translated into Finnish yet: she was reading to us from an English book and translating as she read! :-)
Here's some more Madonna lyrics for your reading pleasure, this is ye old song called "Open Your Heart":
I see you on the street and you walk on by
You make me wanna hang my head down and cry
If you gave me half a chance you'd see
My desire burning inside of me
But you choose to look the other way
I've had to work much harder than this
For something I want don't try to resist me
Open your heart to me, baby
I hold the lock and you hold the key
Open your heart to me, darlin'
I'll give you love if you, you turn the key
I think that you're afraid to look in my eyes
You look a little sad boy, I wonder why
I follow you around but you can't see
You're too wrapped up in yourself to notice
So you choose to look the other way
Well, I've got something to say
Don't try to run I can keep up with you
Nothing can stop me from trying, you've got to
Open your heart to me, baby
I hold the lock and you hold the key
Open your heart to me, darlin'
I'll give you love if you, you turn the key
Open your heart with the key
One is such a lonely number
Seeing a beach this blue
Makes me blue
Because I'm not there!
It's still warm in Finland - which is highly unusual for this time of year. The funny thing is, many people are saying that now they don't mind that fall is coming - they seem to be saying that summer should be over now - we've had hot weather for about 3 and a half months now - enough is enough! I don't think that!!! But it seems that many Finns do. It seems that some people are just never happy....! ;-)
The photo was taken in Naxos, Greece.
Monday, August 21, 2006
I was reading this blog and saw this Sonnet By Shakespeare that I haven't read in a long time. It's so beautiful that I was inspired to copy it here. Enjoy! :-)
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116
If you need an explanation of the poem, you can find it here. You can find the rest of Shakespeares 154 sonnets here. The photo was taken in Naxos, Greece.
I somehow imagine that if I were to step throught the door in the last post, I would arrive somewhere like this. In reality, this is a storefront in Mykonos, Greece. And the sunlight was so blazing hot that it would not be pleasant to lounge here in the middle of the day - but imagine what a wonderful place to hang out on when the evening is just a little bit cool....mmmmmmmm... :-)
Here's another amazing courtyard in Mykonos, Greece. To me this somehow symbolizes goal setting: we are standing in the dark but we are looking into the bright sunshine. It is so close that we can see the goal already but all that we have to do is walk through the door into the bright sunlight.
However, in real life, stepping through the door - symbolically speaking - is not as easy. It means that we must grow and growth is always painful.
I heard on a CD recently (not a music CD, an inspirational lecture) that there are three zones in life that we can spend time in:
- The Coasting Zone
- The Comfort Zone
- The Challenge Zone
The speaker (Skip Ross) said that he used to think that he always had to be in the challenge zone. But, as he got older, he realized that it's not wise. Because if we are always outside of our comfort zone and pushing ourselves, it means that we are always doing things that we are not yet very good at. And that's not fun or rewarding - at least not at that moment.
So we also need to spend time in our comfort zone. We need to also do things that we have truly mastered so that we can get a lot done and can really enjoy ourselves.
But we also need to spend time coasting because we need to relax. And we can also "outsource" things that we are not very good at to other people - we don't need to do everything ourselves. This is where teamwork comes in. A team of people with the right skills can be good at everything - a single person never can.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
I went to a really cool party this week. It was a Finnish-Italian party and we had dinner in the courtyard of an apartment building on Tehtaankatu. It's in downtown Helsinki. I know the area quite well, since my parents live very close to there (and I too used to live there years ago). But I'd never known that they have such amazing courtyards there hidden away!!
It's not the courtyard pictured here, by the way! This one is from the island of Mykonos in Greece - isn't it just perfect!?! Annoyingly, I hadn't brought my camera to the party. The courtyard at my friend's place is not quite as perfect, but still really gorgeous - we felt like we were in Italy or Greece! Of course having Italian people there helped too: they had cooked two different kinds of pasta for us. Really, really simple, but all the more delicious. One was spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and fresh basil, the other was fusilli with a tomato-based sauce. And we Finns served them some typical Finnish things such as Karelian pastries buttered with a mixture of butter and hard-boiled egg (much more delicious than it sounds!), fresh berries of all kinds and also "bread-cheese" (don't make me explain that one! - but you can see the photo behind the link). A good time was had by all.
We sang a lot since there were several professional musicians present. Our hostess was actually quite a famous Finnish musician - a real sweetheart, everyone simply adores her. The most warm-hearted person you'll ever meet. And what a voice on the girl!! She sang "Let's Twist Again" and "A Hard Day's Night" and I swear it was better than the originals!!
OK, now Pink Lady really must go beddy-bye - a busy weekend ahead!! :-)
Pink & Sleepy
Friday, August 18, 2006
Pink Lady is feeling very boooooring today: no deep, philosophical musings, just posting photos of her crappy shoe collection... ;-)
This is another fave pair of shoes for summer. I bought them in Oulu years and years and years ago (2000 maybe?) and still wear them all the time. They actually look really great with a pair of beige pants - even quite business like. I would even wear them to a job interview (although apparently you're not supposed to wear open-toed shoes to one - whatever!)
Here's yet another self-inflicted piece of photography of Pink Lady's hand. This time jewel-encrusted with rings from the Finnish Kalevala jewelry. They make really cool jewelry based on ancient Finnish designs - a bit like Viking jewelry in some cases. Do check it out.
This jewelry is as popular with elderly ladies as it is with gothic pre-teens: something for everybody. Even for men. I've got tons of jewelry from them - many of the pieces have been gifts. However, I also worked next to the Kalevala jewelry factory for a while and we had a deal with them so we could use their canteen. We were given a 10% (I think?) discount on everything and once there was a huge sale where everything was at 70% off - I bought a "few" pieces during that shopping spree... ;-). The pieces are mostly available in gold, silver or bronze.
By the way, the Kalevala is Finland's national epic - kind of like our Shakespeare or something. J.R.R. Tolkien (of Lord-of-the-Rings-fame) was a big fan. It's full of legends and wierd gods and stuff - and has been translated into English and a host of other languages.
I am the kind of person that you should never give a digital camera to, 'cause I get all wierd and start shooting everything in sight (with the camera, I mean). I was making dinner and slicing up some red onions when I noticed that my nail polish is exactly the same colour as the onions - isn't that wierd! The nail polish is called Chrome Shine by L'Oreal and it's number 346 (no it doesn't have one of those cute names like "Moon beam" or "Perfect Romance" or something). It's vintage nail polish circa 2003 (I think - I got it in Dallas). It's kind of like the metallic paint on cars. I am sure it's no longer available.
Yes, I actually use my nail polish for years and years. When it dries out, I use nail polish thinner from Mavala. Highly recommended. The cutting board is from Ikea. Red onions - available at grocery stores (almost) everywhere.
This cute little purse is a tiny, tiny backpack - it's just big enough to fit a wallet. I've been on InterRail lots of times in the past and carried a somewhat bigger backpack. Imagine - if you had enough money, you'd only need a backpack this size - you could buy everything along the way... ;-)
You could stay in 5-star hotels, have your clothes laundered over-night - or you could throw away your dirty clothes and buy new ones. Or if you really loved the clothes, you could have them laundered and then sent home. You could eat in the best restaurants. And whatever shopping you did, you could have it sent home.
Now that would be my kind of backpacking trip!! ;-)
Speaking of travel, I was inspired to make a list of all the countries I've visited. It's a bit hard sometimes to say what counts as a country, but anyway, here's some kind of a list. I've also indicated if I've lived in the country and for how long:
- Canada (lived there for 8 years, Canadian citizenship)
- China (PRC, Hong Kong) - lived in Tianjin, PRC for 2 years
- Cyprus (lived there one summer - maybe 3 months?)
- Czech Republic
- Finland (born in Helsinki, currently live in Espoo, Finnish citizenship)
- France (lived in Paris for a year)
- Martinique (actually a part of France, but it's a Caribbean island)
- United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales) - lived near Cambridge for 1.5 years
- USA (lived in Dallas, Texas for 4 months)
Did you notice that I've never been to Russia?!!? And I live in Helsinki - right next door! I would love to go to St. Petersburg some time soon...
This cute fake snakeskin purse is not only fake snake, but also fake leather - it's plastic really, but somehow "good quality" plastic, i.e. it's pretty durable. I used to have shoes in the same material, but I got rid of them years ago. These are from a Finnish designer called Pertti Palmroth. He sells a lot of shoes in this material - they call them shoes "for all types of weather" - actually extremely practical in this country, since we (unfortunately) get a lot of weather that's both cold and wet. :-(
We still don't have cold weather, but the wet season seems to have started. But for once, I'm actually glad - I never thought I'd say that!! But it's been so dry for so long and the past week or more has been really muggy and stuffy. Now we've had big thunder storms and lots of rain on a couple of days and it's really cleared the air.
Here is Pink Lady's shoe line. Obviously not all of her shoes!! These were just the ones that I was trying on when I was about to go out.
If you look very closely, you can see where the mules from the previous post are disintegrating on the inside. The inner soles have already been repaired with good quality leather. They used to be the same material as the inside of the straps.
Here's another shoe photo. I got these babies in Cyprus several years ago. I've worn them twice, I think. One reason is that they're a bit challenging (for me) to walk in. I have a bit of trouble walking in a high-heeled mule - lack of practice. I wore them once all night and my calf muscles got a real workout; they were really sore for days. The other reason that I haven't worn these shoes very often is that the quality isn't so great. The inner sole fell apart after I'd only worn them once and I had to have it replaced at the cobbler's. And when I wore them a second time, the inner lining of the straps started to fall apart. So now I have to take them to be repaired again. The inside was fake leather and it kind of just disintegrated. Well, at least I got them really cheap...and they do look great! :-)
I took the photo myself using a mirror and you can see the flash on the mirror.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Well...speaking of shedding one's inhibitions, here is a photo of Pink Lady's legs. Dressed to kill and ready to go party. This was taken a couple of weeks back - I actually took the photo myself (yes, of myself) through the mirror. Well, you can see the frame of the mirror in the photo.
The shoes pictured are my fave party shoes: they are fairly high-heeled, yet really comfy. They actually don't look all that high-heeled - but that's just cause by feet are so big!!! (The sandals are a size 39, but my closed shoes are 40 or 41). They are my strappy sandals, yet - alas - not Manolos! :-(
I got the dress in Rome - it's Pink Lady's first ever LBD (that's "Little Black Dress" y'all!). Yet another TLA (Three Letter Acronym).
I now have this idea that instead of just photographing my shoes and clothes, I may occasionally photograph myself in them! ;-)
Ta-Taa For Now!
P.S. The title of this post is obviously a reference to the old ZZ Top song.
OK, here's another business-related post - but it does relate to the wider concept of human happiness. Excuses, excuses...
I have been reading a guy called Bernd Schmitt. I highly recommend his books: he has lots of revolutionary ideas - and he's really funny! He has written books such as Experiental Marketing and Customer Experience Management. I've just finished reading the latter and found some exciting things in there. Here are some quotes:
"In most companies, employees simply do not care about their jobs. According to a Gallup survey based on a random sample of 800 employees, only 25% of employees are "actively engaged" in their jobs; the other 75% are just muddling through. Dave Ulrich, an HR expert and professor at the School of Business at the University of Michigan, observes that "job depression" is on the rise. Don't expect the job depressed to deliver a great experience to customers. Therefore, it is key for business to foster what Ulrich calls "employee contribution".
Employee contribution becomes a critical business issue because in trying to produce more output with fewer employees, companies have no choice but to try to engage not only the body but the mind and soul of every employee" (emphasis mine).
What does Schmitt suggest as the way to engage the mind and soul of every employee? The traditional methods (which are by no means implemented in all companies!!!) are good, but not sufficient:
- challenging work
- fun at work
"If employees are internal customers, then let's treat them as customers, and let's find out what these customers want."
What do people want? According to Schmitt, people want to experience work as flow.
"What is flow? It is the state people achieve when they become so involved in what they are doing that they lose track of time. It is a kind of absorption in the process. Flow is about optimal experiences and enjoyment in life, and the ultimate goal is "turning all life into a unified flow experience". When that happens, work does not feel like work, and the separation of work and leisure becomes meaningless. Work and leisure are one whole - called life."
Now how can employees get to this state? What can management do to help make this happen? .....
- learn about the experiential world of your employees
- find out what they want
- ask them what they would change
- let employees help develop their own work environment
- get employees involved in the brand so they can live the brand
- seek your employees' input about innovation
Schmitt concludes: "If you pay attention to your employees' experiences, you will be rewarded with a happier, more productive, more proactive workforce" (emphasis mine).
Schmitt continues: "Utopia? Yes, sadly, many companies today still operate according to a command-and-control system. Strategy is developed at the top and disseminated to the front lines in an environment of fear. This experience-destroying, military model of the organization fails to recognize the innovative and value-creating forces that a positive employee experience can unleash".
So is that the secret to happiness: flow? I guess it's why e.g. artists are so happy with their jobs. The book The Hacker Ethic explores similar issues, but concentrates on knowledge workers. Schmitt, however, talks about service workers too: salespeople, people who work in coffee shops - anywhere really. In a previous post I quote Peter Drucker saying that the "productivity of knowledge workers and the dignity of service workers" are the most important things in the near future. The ideas that Schmitt presents seem to give an answer to how to achieve these goals.
Schmitt and Pink Lady have spoken
Monday, August 14, 2006
Well, the photos just don't stop tonight! This is our entry hall - in an uncharacteristically organized state, which is why I was inspired to photograph it.
I dabble in feng shui, and practitioners believe that the way the entrance to your home looks is one of the most important things. Well, seeing a mess first thing when you come home certainly can be a downer!
I read in some comic book (I think that it was Naisen Kanssa i.e. a Finnish comic book called "With a Woman") that it is possible for a woman to both believe and not believe in horoscopes at the same time. And I think that's true! It's very hard to explain, it's kind of like when we were old enough to know that there was no Santa Claus but we still had fun pretending that there was one. And in our excitement we even forgot that we were pretending and for a little while we still really believed.
I was never really into the bagua, i.e. the sections that a home is supposed to be divided into. It means that one corner of your home is your "wealth corner" and one is your "relationship corner" and if you have a pile of junk in that corner, it can cause problems in that area of your life.
It wasn't until I read the book Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston that I really became fascinated. I've read the book twice and I'd really like to read it again. It's about getting rid of all the things that you don't want or need in your life - including dirt in your house, stuff you don't use or want, people who no longer contribute positively to your life and even food that does not contribute to your health. It's about not living in the past and about looking towards the future.
When you start to think about it, it's amazing how many of us really do live in the past! Memories are very important for us. That's OK as long as we don't stop longing for new experiences - instead of re-living old ones!
What I most loved about Ms. Kingston's book was this: she says that ideally, we should know exactly where every single one of our possessions is. We should know exactly what's in our closets, in our basement, in our attic, etc. If we do, we can easily make a "mental connection" with our possessions.
It all sounds very New Age, but to me it kind of makes sense. If I think about it, it does somehow bother me if I don't know where something is. And it feels really good if everything is well organized. There's a certain intuitive logic to it.
The main point of feng shui is that our surroundings affect our feelings - and I'm sure that no one can deny that. It's probaly scientifically proven. Think about how depressing it is to be in a room with inadequate lighting or in a very messy room. It may even cause depression! Clearing your clutter is a step towards improving your mental health! :-)
I spent the past three days going through a big pile of old magazines. I ripped out some articles and then dumped the magazines. Felt great! Eventually I'll also need to do the same to my magazine and newspaper clippings. I'm starting to slowly become more and more modern: I'm starting to realize that whatever info I need can be found on-line and that I don't need to keep it on pieces of paper.
I'm a very cluttered person, i.e. I have tended to keep everything, but I'm now working on changing and growing also in that respect. :-)
Pink Lady, signing out - for now!
"Hello, my name is Pink Lady and I'm an Italophile. I haven't been to Italy in over a year". "Hello Pink Lady!".
Yes, I love all things Italian. I wonder why? A former boss of mine - an equally huge Italophile - was of the opinion that people love Italy only because of the food. Well, I admit that it's a big attraction, but it really isn't all there is to it. At least not for me.
Other Italian things I love:
- The coffee (pictured)
- The culture of coffee shops
- The fashion!!!!!
- The way so many Italians are well-dress - especially the men
- How the Italians look (lots of very attractive people)
- The sound of the language
- The art
- The architecture
- The beauty of the cities
- The beauty of the countryside
- The fact that the clothes are cheaper than in Finland (especially the lingerie is great!)
- The shoes
- The manners, the way they treat women (well, this can also be a con in some cases, depends - my friends says it's horrible to travel alone in Italy as a woman.)
- Opera (I'm not super-crazy about Italian popular music. I do listen to Eros Ramazzotti, but I'm not so familiar with their pop stars).
- They way they love children
- The way they respect their elders
- The weather
- The food
- The wine
I'm sure I could add a lot more items to this list, but those were the first things I could think of.
I've always loved these old VW vans. And this colour is so great - it even matches the shed in the back! Great photo op - and I've never noticed it before: simply because I wasn't carrying my camera.
Whenever I'm carrying my camera, I seem to find beauty simply everywhere. It's like I put on my "photographer's hat". :-)
Here's another fall phenomenon: no more roses in the bushes, only hips. Yep, for the non-English-speakers: these "berries" are called rose hips. I think that it must be a different hip than what we have on our bodies! ;-)
Rose hips are really good for you - lots of vitamin C. I had one yesterday. Yum!
Great photo - if I say so myself. The flower is so amazing that it wasn't hard to get a terrific shot of it.
Very close to our house, there are some lands owned by the city of Espoo, where you can rent just a little piece of land in order to cultivate something. I had seen the sunflowers - which are really one of my ab fave flowers in the world!! - from the car window and that's why I took my camera along on this walk.
When we got to the plot, there was an old man working on his garden - they were his sunflowers. I said hello and asked him if I could take photos of the flowers. I'm not sure he understood, he seemed not to be a Finn but he of course understood because I was holding a camera and motioning towards the flowers. So I climbed into his plot and took the photos, thanked him and left. He had quite a lot of different things growing there. I think he grows food for himself there. Quite a nice hobby for a pentioner.
I have a magnet on my fridge that says "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need (Cicero)". I have both. I have been collecting books my whole life and have five bookcases absolutely overflowing with books. And we have a tiny garden. However, I don't really work on it - no time. Ooops, I'm not supposed to say "No time". What I meant was that it's not high enough on my list of priorities...
I also recently heard that an old Chinese saying is "The only important thing in life is gardening - and even that's not so important". I love that!!! If I get stressed, I'll try to remember that. It helps one to not take oneself too seriously.
Sunflowers of course also always remind me of Van Gogh because of the amazing painting. Van Gogh is one of my fave artists. If you haven't seen his paintings live, make sure you do, it's a whole new experience. He really packs on the paint; it's so thick!! What a genius. Wow!
P.S. On a completely unrelated note, I found this interesting blog today called China Trip. I find it interesting because I spent two years in China (around 1999-2001). But what I found unusual in this blog is that Kendo gives quite a detailed report about his extensive night clubbing in China. What's more, he claims that night clubs are a good way to get an idea of the level of economic development of a country (I'll bet he's a business student). Check it out!
Yesterday, my boyfriend and I took a long Sunday walk and, for once, I brought my camera. I took quite a few photos and this is the first time I've photographed my own neighbourhood (Espoo).
The photos have quite an autumn feel already! Some trees are already changing their colours. However, that is because of the dryness - not yet cold weather, since it's still amazingly warm here in Finland.
I read in the paper that this has been the driest summer in one hundred years. I'm not surprised, since it hardly rained at all. And we've had many summers when it seems to do nothing but rain... :-(
It also felt like fall because of the other vegetation such as the fruit and flowers. I'll publish some of the photos here.
Pictured is a gorgeous apple tree heavy with fruit in our neighbourhood.
Friday, August 11, 2006
OK, OK, no more of Pink Lady's own poems today. But here are some more song lyrics. The album that I'm listening to the most these days is Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor. I didn't like it all that much at first, but it's really grown on me (as the song below states!). I don't know how many times I've listened to it, but it might well be nearly a hundred times! I tend to get very obsessive that way. However, another reason that I keep listening to the same album over and over again is that I work in a typical cubicle hell and I need to wear headphones at work to block out the noise. I'm such a curious person that otherwise I get nothing done because I just keep listening to what co-workers are saying! And listening to music that I know very well distracts me less - I almost don't hear it anymore. But for this to work, I really have to love the album. Otherwise it would just drive me crazy.
It took a while for the album to grow on me, but the song Like It Or Not, however, I simply loved right from the start. I love the lyrics, I think that they are very inspirational (as are many Madonna lyrics these days, she keeps getting "deeper and deeper"). And I love the melody too, it's like something from the 30s or 40s (Maybe? I'm not that hugely knowledgeable on the subject of music history). So here are those lyrics (I chopped the repetitive part off the end):
Like it or Not (by Madonna)
You can call me a sinner
and you can call me a saint
Celebrate me for who I am
Dislike me for what I ain’t
Put me up on a pedestal
Or drag me down in the dirt
Sticks and stones will break my bones
But your names will never hurt
I’ll be the garden, you’ll be the snake
All of my fruit is yours to take
Better the devil that you know
Your love for me will grow
This is who I am
You can like it or not
You can love me or leave me
Cause I’m never gonna stop, no no
Cleopatra had her way
Mata Hari too
Whether they were good or bad
Is strictly up to you
Life is a paradox
And it doesn’t make much sense
You can't have the femme without the fatale
Please don’t take offense
Don’t let the fruit rot under the vine
Fill up your cup and let’s drink the wine
Better the devil that you know
Your love for me will grow
This is who I am...
The photo was taken on my boyfriend's parents' farm a couple of weeks back. The red currants were simply perfectly ripe and very sweet and, for a city girl, it was amazing to just pick and eat as much as I could right off the bush. I'm used to paying for them!
Thursday, August 10, 2006
OK, one more poem. Well, I actually intended this to be a song lyric, but not being a composer, I don't have a melody for it. I wrote this when I was getting divorced. In 2002 - the year of my divorce - I wrote 54 poems! So about a poem a week...
In her heart
She knew from the start
She fell so fast
It would never last
To just tell him no
Was the way to go
But she was afraid
So that's not what she said
This is forever
She wanted to believe
Let's be together
I won't ever leave
But deep in her heart
She knew, she knew
It was never really true
The passion's gone
But what's done is done
She took that vow
Just live with it now
She couldn't be alone
In an empty home
Like a mother's hand
She needed her man
By Pink Lady
Helsinki, Finland, 2002
OK, now I'm on a roll: here's another poem written by Pink Lady. I showed this one to a friend (quite a brilliant writer and poet herself) and she said that it was "very jim-morrisonesque". I am not sure if she meant it as an insult or a compliment, but I chose to take it as a compliment. Well, I do adore the Doors and Jim Morrison! (see my previous post).
The face of love
The face of fear
Face your fears
While you're here
Never fear -
The end is near.
By Pink Lady
San Diego, California, August 1st, 2002
Encouraged by TJ 's kind words, (he commented my last two posts), I decided to post a poem I've written myself. This is the first time I've done this! So behold Pink Lady losing her poetic virginity:
In the trenches of love
We wade through mud
The blood of those we've loved
On our hands
And coursing through our veins
Every victory, every defeat
Becomes a super-human feat
We lay our lives on the line
Every single time
To dare to love
Means waging war
Daring to hope
Risking our lives
Putting our hearts on the line
Time after painful time
By Pink Lady
Helsinki, Finland, October 6th, 2002
I guess that was very sex-and-the-city! ;-)
The photo shows Pink Lady's hand - as photographed by her own hand. And not with a tripod, I just was somehow able to take a photo with just one hand. I was inspired to take this photo because I noticed that the colour of my nail polish matched my perfume bottle. The perfume is Calvin Klein's Eternity Purple Orchid. And, by the way, my nails are my own, not artificial. "Oh that's OK - many people have made that mistake!" ;-)
Take Care - of yourself and of those you love,
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Robert Frost is one of my Mom's fave poets, and I love him too. I occasionally intend to publish some poems written by other people in this blog. Perhaps later on some of my own as well. I'll have to go through the stuff I've written and see if there's anything I'm not ashamed to publish... ;-)
This is a poem by Robert Frost that we studied at University in Canada (I went to the U of T, i.e. University of Toronto). I immediately thought of the poem when I first saw this photo (I took it myself). The photo shows my boyfriend in Naxos, Greece.
Neither Out Far Nor in Deep
The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.
As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull
The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be--
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.
They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Well guys and dolls,
It was inevitable...in my last post I mentioned that my ab fave car is a Jag, so I do now have to give you the details. Here's the model I like: the S model in a colour they call "quartz" (pictured). And yes, I nicked this pic off the Jag website. Some day...
The point I want to make is this: don't ever stop dreaming! About little things, about big things, about superficial, material things, about deep, personal, ethical things.
The first step in personal development is defining your values. I did that in a previous post. The second step is to start setting goals: figuring out what you actually want. What kind of a life do you want? How and where do you want to live? What kind of a marriage/relationship/family do you want to have? How happy do you want to be? And more importantly, who do you want to be? I don't mean a profession, I mean what kind of a person do you want to be?
I recently took the time to write down what kind of a person I want to be/become. Now mind you, I am not like this - yet. This is a goal. Just like I don't have the car in the photo yet. I'll leave it up to those who know me personally to judge which of these characteristics I already possess and which I don't! ;-)
Robert Browning said: "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a Heaven for?" So dream big!! Nobody ever attained a goal bigger than their dreams!
So what kind of a person am I? (NB: Goals should always be stated in the present tense - as if they were already true. Positive thinking you know...)
Smiles a lot, laughs a lot
Fun to be around
Funny, has a great sense of humour
The life of the party
Can tell a good story
Gives people lots of attention, supportive of them, always speaks well of people (including behind their back)
Makes everyone around her feel special (even people she doesn’t know)
Caring, kind, loving, empathetic
An inspiration to others (because of who she is)
Radiant, it feels like sunshine when she walks into a room
Very high ethical and moral standards
A reliable, trustworthy, loyal, dependable, wonderful, loving wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, grand-daughter, human being, co-worker, manager, employee, leader, mentor, coach…
Athletic (strong, muscular, low fat percentage, flexible, coordinated, aerobically fit)
Takes good care of herself in every way (physically and psychologically)
In radiant health (including hair, skin, teeth, nails)
Tons of energy
Energetic, active approach to life
Beautiful inside and out
Stylish, fashionable, elegant, dresses well, a trend-setter
Hip, with it, very modern, follows trends
Has a beautiful walk
Has a voice that is beautiful and magical to listen to
Beautifully made up (when she wants to be)
Excellent taste (in everything)
A gourmet chef
A wine connoisseur
Cultured and civilized in every sense of the word
Has traveled all around the world
Has impeccable manners at all times, considerate of others
Remembers both faces and names, calls people by their names in speaking and writing
Well read (including in the Classics)
Good all-round education, a true renaissance woman
Speaks many languages fluently
Familiar with many cultures, has friends from many countries
A deep thinker, a philosopher
A feminist and humanist
A therapist and counselor
Has found inner peace
Helps others in their spiritual growth and in finding inner peace
Plays a musical instrument
Sings, has a beautiful voice
A good dancer
A brilliant writer
A brilliant artist and photographer
A business owner
A business woman
An inspirational leader
An inspirational speaker
Good with money and with financial planning
A good investor
Good at math
Good with numbers
Highly disciplined, sets goals and achieves them
Persistent, does not give up on her dreams but keeps working hard for them
Hard working, enthusiastic
Accepts criticism without resentment (sees it as a growth opportunity - even if not given constructively)
Patient (with herself and with others)
Has wonderful self-esteem, super-confident
Never feels that she has to put other people down
Continuously growing spiritually and psychologically
Happy all the time (has chosen happiness as the way to live)
Very positive outlook on life
Believes that no matter what happens, her life will turn out to be just wonderful
Sees the good in people, things and situations
Surrounds herself with interesting people and also people that are very different from herself (as a way to grow and to challenge her own thinking)
Sees problems, difficulties and challenges as opportunities for further growth (Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker.).
Not attached to material possessions, has a clutter-free home and life
What kind of a person do you want to be? What are you doing today to become that person tomorrow?
Monday, August 07, 2006
My fave car in the whole wide world is a Jag, but it'll be a while before I can afford one. And anyway, I think I'll look better in it as an older Lady.
My current dream car is the one pictured: a Mini in British Racing Green (metallic). Yes, British cars are the best!! I hope to be able to afford to lease one next year. I am currently driving an 8-year-old red VW Polo. It's perfectly OK, but it's not super cool like the Mini. And the paint on the Polo is starting to chip - and you know how us fashionistas hate chipped paint! And it's not as easy to touch up chipped paint on our car as it is on our nails.
I also want my next car to be an automatic. Eventhough the Mini is kind of a sporty car and it does, therefore, seem a bit corny to get an automatic. But considering my driving skills, believe me: it's simply a wise move.
So for once I'm publishing a photo that I nicked off the internet instead of one that I've taken myself (nearly all the photos in this blog were taken by Pink Lady).
Pink Lady is a huge Madonna fan and I love the rapped section of the song American Life. She raps about being very, very with it, i.e. drinking a soy latte (Pink Lady drinks espresso or capuccino - with cow's milk, not soy), about doing yoga and pilates (Pink Lady does both) - and about driving a Mini Cooper. She also raps about "diggin' on the isotopes" - not quite sure what that means. So, for your reading pleasure, here are those lyrics:
I’m drinkin’ a soy latte, I get a double shoté
It goes right through my body and you know I’m satisfied
I drive my Mini Cooper and I’m feeling super-duper
Yo’, they tell I’m a trooper and you know I’m satisfied
I do yoga and Pilates and the room is full of hotties
So I’m checkin’ out the bodies and you know I’m satisfied
I’m diggin’ on the isotopes, this metaphysics s*** is dope
And if all this can give me hope you know I’m satisfied
I got a lawyer and a manager, an agent and a chef
Three nannies, an assistant and a driver and a jet
A trainer and a butler and a bodyguard or five
A gardener and a stylist, do you think I’m satisfied?
I’d like to express my extreme point of view
I’m not a Christian and I’m not a Jew
I’m just livin’ out the American dream
And I just realized that nothin’ is what it seems
Saturday, August 05, 2006
I went out with a girlfriend last night and we ran into an old friend of hers and got to talking about music, movies, books, etc, i.e. all the important things in life. I realized that I've never written about my fave music in this blog. So here goes!
My fave music of all time culminates into this "holy quartet":
- Jimi Hendrix
- Led Zeppelin
- The Doors
(in strictly alphabetical order, so as not to imply that they are in any way in an order of preference!)
I have been trying to find a fifth band for years, but have been unable to find a band that deeply touches my soul in the way these bands do. They have remained my favourites over the years. That does not mean that I only listen to them! In fact, I actually listen to them quite infrequently these days. But they are the ones that have touched my soul in the deepest way: I call them my "soul music".
It is interesting that I am a very positive person but the music that has touched my soul the most is very dark and even sometimes angry and depressive. Maybe it's therapeutic? It also reflects the fact that when I was younger, I used to be quite a depressed person. It just got over it and grew into who I am today. And of course I'll never stop growing.
If you look at the 4 bands above, you'll note that those guys (and yes, they are/were all guys, not girls) lived pretty wild lives. Three out of the four lead singers died in some really gruesome way:
- Kurt Cobain of Nirvana shot himself (or was murdered? or was pushed into commiting suicide? the debate continues...). Allegedly he was also a drug addict.
- Jim Morrison of The Doors was a raging alcoholic and died of an overdose of something in a bathtub in Paris.
- Jimi Hendrix was using something, passed out and suffocated on his own vomit (sorry if I made you lose your appetite).
Hmmm.....I wonder what it says about my psychological landscape that the music written by people who lived those kinds of lives touches me the most? ;-)
I've already written previously, that Jimi Hendrix sings something along the lines "My girl left me, but at least I still have my guitar". We all need to have a guitar, i.e. something to live for other than the people we love.
Several years ago, I knew a guy who was an IT Manager and also a guitar player in a rock band. He said to me once: "First and foremost, I consider myself an artist". This was something like 5 years ago and it was then that I first realized that I too consider myself an artist above all else. However, at the time, I did not really have a medium to express myself in! I had been taking voice lessons (classical) for about a year, but to be honest, I'm not that great a singer. I am sure that my voice can develop and improve, and I may go back to singing again (just for fun) sometime, but I realized at some point that music - as much as I truly am passionate about it - is not the area where my true talents lie. I've also dabbled in dance and have developed into a pretty good dancer over the years, but the truth is that I am not all that talented physically either. I am quite clumsy and uncoordinated and it is really difficult for me to learn anything physical. I can do it, but it's just always really, really difficult and takes a long time.
Now I seem to have slowly discovered over the years that my preferred media of expression are writing and photography. I seem to have some natural talent in those areas. Why do something that's really hard for you when you can do something that you both love doing and are good at? That doesn't mean that it comes all by itself, you still have to work hard and keep learning all the time (which is what this blog is all about for me), but it just makes more sense to find out where your natural talents lie. It may take some time and experimentation, but it's really worth it.
I hope everyone can find a way to express him or herself. And it doesn't need to be anything artistic, it can be absolutely anything that you are passionate about and that lifts you above the mundane.
If you ask me why I write, the answer is simply: "I have to". I think that mosts artists would say the same. And not just artists but anyone passionate about something, e.g. athletes often say they do it because it's what they love the most, not because they get payed a lot of money for it. David Bowie has said that you can't become a musician just because you "don't want to pump gas".
This summer, I've been thinking a lot about deep, philosophical issues. As I explained in a previous post, I had a lump in my breast and that kind of stopped me in my tracks and made me think about what's most important to me in life and what I really want to achieve, who I really want to be, etc. The lump turned out to be a completely harmless cyst. They drained out the liquid with a big needle - scary but actually quite painless (the mammogram was more painful). Then they pumped in some air to avoid it filling up again. Breast cysts are apparently quite common. So if you do find a lump in your breast, run (don't walk) to your doctor, but try not to panic just yet, since not all lumps are malignant.
The photo shows Pink Lady in deep thought - well, actually waiting for a boat in Greece. I forget which island, either Naxos or Mykonos.
In my case, I tried to make the most of having a medical challenge: it makes one think about the possibility of death and thereby about what one wants to do with the rest of one's life (however long it may be). I really wanted to see this as a positive thing, and that's exactly what it turned out to be. I've heard from many friends who have survived cancer or other serious illnesses that it has made them value life much more. But we can all do this: we don't need to wait to get some serious illness to value life.
So, about values. After some thinking-time, I've been able to whittle down my list of values to the following three:
Those three cover everything that is deeply meaningful to me in life. In fact, I could even narrow the list down to just one item: love. Because I could say "I love beauty and progress" or "I do what I love" or "I use love to guide me in my decision-making processes". Now you must understand that I mean these three words in the widest possible sense. As in love of life, loving and valuing myself, love of humanity and my fellow man, love of the environment - but also as in I love to listen to music and I love strawberries, etc. Beauty is not just visual: it can be beautiful music, beautiful ideas, etc. And progress means always looking for ways to improve everything: the world, myself, the way I do my job, my home, questioning my beliefs, etc.
As for work, there's a book called Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow by Marsha Sinetar. I haven't read the book, but I love the idea (have you noticed that I use the world "love" a lot?). This is what I want to do in my life: follow my passions. Do what I absolutely love doing and that will show me what my true calling and purpose is. The idea being, if you love to dance, become a dancer or a dance teacher, if you love to cook, become a chef or a caterer, if you love numbers, become a mathematician, if you love clothes, become a fashion designer, a buyer or work for a fashion magazine, if you love books, become a writer, a librarian or work in a book store or publishing house, etc. You get the picture. Of course it's not always quite that simple, but it's a good starting point. I don't just have one thing I love but many. But the most important things to me are:
- Communication (writing, speaking, teaching, lecturing, negotiating, selling, influencing)
- All things visual (e.g. photography, website design, art, design, fashion)
- Leadership, growing as a human being, helping others grow, supporting others
For a better idea of my values, here is the original, longer list:
- Art, beauty, creativity, cleanliness, purity
- Fun, spontaneity, hedonistic pleasures, joie de vivre
- Love, acceptance, friendship, service, giving, ethical behaviour and thought
- Achieving goals, discipline, excellence, growing as a human being
- Life-long learning, knowledge, understanding, truth
- Progressive thinking, leaving behind the old and going towards the new
- Ethical capitalism
Now you must understand that these are my values - it does not necessarily mean that I currently live this way. For example, in my case "discipline" is very much a development area; I am not yet highly disciplined (in fact, I am very, very far from it!) But believe you me, I am working on it. There's no other way to become the person you want to be (assuming, that is, that you want to change). I want to become more disciplined e.g. in the way I set and reach goals, in the way I spend my money, in the way I take care of myself (e.g. physical exercize, diet, etc).
What are your values?
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
My boyfriend washed his new (leased) car last weekend, so I took advantage of the situation. Those of you who know about cars will recognize that it's the new Ford Focus ST (it's bright orange in all the ads on TV). Quite a sporty number, moves nicely. 225 hp, if I'm not mistaken. My boyfriend won't let me drive it; for some reason he doesn't trust my skills in that area - I wonder why on earth not? ;-)
Being a city girl, I haven't witnessed animals giving birth, so it was a big deal for me that the cat on my boyfriend's parent's farm had kittens - although I did not actually see the cat in labour or anything. They got rid of most of the kittens in some unrevealed way (that I don't want to think about), but they kept this one. Awwwwwwww!
I saw her when she was really tiny for the first time, but did not get photos. She's probably around 3 months in this photo - probably the cutest age. It is my boyfriend's Mom holding her.
Yet another photo from Pink Lady's "What I Did Last Summer" album...
Here is something that Pink Lady lives for: Greek salad!!! In the background, you can just make out the label of the beer bottle: Mythos. Apparently very good beer. I wouldn't know, Pink Lady is way too ladylike to drink beer. Drinking wine, however, is considered very ladylike indeed. Note how Greek salad is served in Greece - there's a whole big piece of feta cheese on top; no cubes of feta or anything.