the little things: hair detangler (zohary ross).

Oh friends, we’ve got another Real Deal Holyfield here for you today – because my real life friend, Zohary, who lives a couple blocks away, whose children play on the backyard playground with my own, speaks action into words. Not only will you install the Amazon app onto your phone after reading her story, but you’ll be reminded to ACT …and that, I think, is magically holy.  Enjoy.

Photo cred: Today's Parent.

Photo cred: Today’s Parent.

My closest and dearest sister friend has terminal brain cancer.

A few days after her first surgery I left my own clan behind and flew out to Seattle to spend the weekend with her and her family. My mission was just to be helpful, in any way that I possibly could. To be fleshy hands and feet.

It so happened that the Saturday I arrived was the diagnosis day. As I texted her husband that I had arrived and asked if it was OK that I was heading right over to the hospital, he responded with the worst news, “Yeah. We just found out it’s an aggressive form of cancer.”

Glioblastoma multiforme. I can’t even say the words without feeling sick.

In any case, I put my strong face on and headed over to the hospital. Apparently I’m pretty good in crisis because I managed to keep it together and then only broke down after leaving the hospital.

I spend the days in the hospital with the family, asking questions and trying to be helpful. In the evenings I took her two daughters, 10 & 8, out for dinner and an outing, because – really – as if having your mom be sick isn’t bad enough then you have to also give up your weekends to being at the hospital, too.

At some point over the weekend I heard my friend’s husband, who at this point has been living like a single dad in addition to full-time care taker of sick wife, lament that he was having a hard time combing the oldest daughter’s hair which is long, almost down to her waist.

He mentioned it in passing to my friend who suggested maybe she might want to cut her hair.

Now I’m not an expert on too many things but I know about being a girl and I know about traumatic bad haircuts, so I did not want to wish this on this sweet girl who was already going through so much.

The conversation moved on to other topics and we discussed second opinions, donations, radiation and worst-case scenarios.

My heart broke over and over that weekend and it still does.

But on Monday morning as I stopped by the hospital for one last visit before I flew back home I asked my friend’s husband how the hair brushing went that morning. Again he said it was hard and didn’t feel like he could do a good job. That’s a mom thing to do.

And OH, how badly girls need their mommies at 8 & 10.

Without even thinking about it, I grabbed my phone and pulled up my amazon app. As a mom of 4 I add things to my “cart” several times per week, almost daily. Books, school supplies, misc. gadgets for my husband, you name it.

This time I just added a bottle of Original Sprout Miracle Detangler to my cart and confirmed my friends mailing address. I advised my friend’s husband that they would be receiving a package in two days (thank you Amazon Prime!) and that I hoped it helped.

A few days later I got a call from an incredibly shy 10 year old girl, and it was one of my favorite phone calls ever. She struggled to speak up but just wanted to say hi and thank me for the hair stuff. And when I got a text from her daddy the next day saying that the brushing had been pain free, I nearly cried.

The last thing these girls needed was any more pain and if I could help in any kind of way to prevent tangles or worse bad haircuts, then that was what God sent me there for that weekend.

I can’t fix my friend’s cancer, I’m not a doctor and though I’m still praying for a miracle there isn’t a lot I can do to make her more comfortable. But it was an incredible blessing that weekend to know that I could just do one simple thing to ease one little girl’s pain.

blogsidebarZohary is a peacemaker, an encourager, and a work in progress. She is fiercely authentic. She loves geeking out about personality tests, cold cans of Coke, and her beautiful family—one amazing husband and four wild and loving kids. She’s a credentialed school counselor in California and a life coach, certified by Light University and trained in Dr. Brené Brown’s Daring Way Methodology. She’s passionate about giving and receiving grace, finding hope in hard situations, shining in all the areas, encouraging other to shine, too, and mint chocolate anything. Her name is made up from the names of four loved ones.  You can connect with her at on her blog  or on her Facebook page.  Otherwise, how did Zohary’s story encourage you and change you and touch you?  Leave her a comment today!

to not produce.

A week or two ago I sat wrapped in fuzzy green blanket on the leather chair upstairs, on a conference call of sorts with a couple of writerly friends.  We couldn’t figure out how to get the sound to work, so we each sat there staring at silent bobbling heads on a shared Google screen with phones affixed to our ears.  When it came time to update everyone on all the writing I’m doing, on the output that’s a-flowin’, on the hoards of book deals I’m getting, I just laughed.  Because life is far from that right now.

So I asked these women to hold me accountable to not producing, at least through the month of October.

To not writing.

To not pounding the pavement or putting the pedal to the metal or trying to get ‘er done …or whatever fill-in-the-blank production-infused I liken to use in order to get one more article submitted and one more chapter finished and one more blog published.

Photo cred: Krispy Kreme donuts, Wikipedia.

Photo cred: Krispy Kreme donuts, Wikipedia.

Because right now my job is to snuggle my seven-week old and breathe in that perfect baby smell.

For now, my fingers aren’t to sit glued to a laptop, clicking away, seeking that perfect combination of verbs and adjectives and nouns, but they’re to absorb.  They’re to absorb the newness of our family of four and to marvel in the wonder that is us, even if this transition is hard.  Even if I wonder how anyone ever successfully raises more than one child.  Even if the HBH (Hot Black Husband) and I are playing our own game of Monday Night Football, one-on-one defense at its finest. 

But for now my hands are to chop the onions and carrots and celery for dinner, slowly and mindfully, and to smile at the realization that this right here, right now is my sublime.

These are my halcyon days.  

Because these are the fingers that hold the glass of water I chug around two every morning when Baby Brother starts to cry, begging, grunting, pleading for food.  These are the fingers that just minutes later click “play” on the iPad screen so I can take in another early morning episode of The Gilmore Girls.  (God, I love the 90’s).  These are the hands that hold A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and these are the limbs, somehow connected to the rest of my body, that remind me to relish in this time of filling.  Newborn-parched, I get to rest and take in and simply receive input without feeling an ounce of guilt.

Even if, when I step into the ugly game of Compare and Contrast, I still feel the guilt.

Even if, like right now, there is an aliveness that happens within when my soul is granted permission to speak words to paper.  Because this too can wait.

So, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to curl up with book and baby …and be.  

xo, c.

What about you?  What do you need permission to take a breather from?  What are your halcyon days?

prayer: then & now.

RedCouch

The gift arrived on a Sunday morning.

My husband and I sat cozied together on an over-sized reading chair, one of those perfect pieces of furniture that makes you wonder whether it’s built for one or for two, the kind that requires a cup of tea no matter the visitor. Almost by accident, we found ourselves at House Church that morning, apart from the norm of Apostle’s Creed recitations and formalized Eucharist indulgences. I feel my heart beating wildly as I lean in to cushion and skin, my body sinking further and deeper into the man I hold hands with for life. Our four-week-old son nestles into his chest and I close my eyes, just for a moment.

I breathe in this perfection, our own corner but a small slice of the halcyon morning.

I smell the coffee wafting from paper cup in hands, its energy waking my newborn-weary body. I hear the hallowed words the voices sing in repetition, the simple eight-word chant growing in strength and belief with each growing verse: “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s as if I can taste the Spirit. You are here. You are present. You are ours.

My senses are fully alive.

And in doing so, I am fully connected to the presence of God.

In Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World, the reader is introduced to this very concept:

Prayer … is waking up to the presence of God no matter where I am or what I am doing. When I am fully alert to whatever or whoever is right in front of me; when I am electrically aware of the tremendous gift of being alive; when I am able to give myself wholly to the moment I am in, then I am in prayer. Prayer is happening, and it is not necessarily something that I am doing. God is happening, and I am lucky enough to know that I am in The Midst (178).

Could connection to The Holy actually be this simple?

* * *

I return to House Church, to the twenty-five people gathered haphazardly together on the main floor of Mark and Lisa’s San Francisco flat. As luck would have it, our discussion that morning centers on prayer, around that same notion of entering into God’s presence. We read John 17 and Luke 24, and gathering in clusters throughout the space, we begin to unpack our previous notions of prayer next to the morning’s texts.

A memory floods my mind: I am a sophomore in college, and I believe in a big, boisterous, Spirit-filled God. Hundreds of us gather this particular Monday night, spread throughout the room, standing and kneeling, swaying and bowing. We worship, loudly, and we raise our hands upwards, fingertips gasping for air.

When it comes time to pray, I know the drill. I know how it’s supposed to be done: You raise your voice and sometimes you shout. You prove you know your Bible by inserting God’s Word into your prayer, which is deemed a holy success by the sounds of your peers. Because when a prayer is really good, everyone cheers and claps, with shouts of yes and amen.

This is what I want—because isn’t this what God wants as well?

I know, I’m leaving you hanging – but the story is far from over.  Click here to head on over to She Loves Magazine read about when I became a “prayer weakling.”  Otherwise, what is prayer to you?  How has your experience of prayer changed over the years, if at all?  

PS: If you haven’t yet read or heard of Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World, PICK IT UP!

the little things: sitting on the mattress (cari jenkins)

Guest post Tuesday, guest post Tuesday! We’ve got the lovely and my real-life friend Cari with us today – and the moment she shares is just scrumptious.  And as I’ve seen with my friend, and as you’ll soon experience through her writing, Cari offers this world the gift of presence.  Check out how that happened one night on a mattress under a bridge.

IMG_8075

I glanced to my right and saw Mike, Bob and Bongo. The three men lived under a bridge down the street from my house. Over a period of a few weeks the three of us had become friends. Knowing, I had told the three that I’d be bringing dinner on this particular evening I checked to make sure they were home as I drove to mine. I noticed something new in their spot. The three men had acquired a mattress and were all sitting on it as if it were their living room. Somewhere inside of me I knew, I just knew that I was going to have to sit with them on that mattress.

I arrived at home and quickly prepared the meal. The whole time I was distracted by the lingering thought of joining these three men in their new “living room.” I pulled dinner out of the oven, filled Tupperware containers and pulled together the necessary plates and silverware placing the contents in a bag big enough to carry it all in one load.

I walked the half block to the spot where my friends lived. We greeted each other and Mike without skipping a beat says, “Cari, you must join us. My mother would find me so rude if I didn’t offer you a seat on our new furniture.” With that, I sat down. There I was a 30 something female sitting with three men nearly double my age on a mattress, underneath a bridge in the middle of San Diego. If only my mother could see me now, I thought to myself.

I passed the plate around and set the food out. Mike asks, “You’ll be joining us tonight won’t you?” I hadn’t planned on it. In fact, sitting on the mattress was already a little above and beyond the call of duty. But, I had no reason not to stay and I did refer to these men as friends, and friends, they eat together. For the next hour and a half the four of us sat on the mattress, breaking bread, telling stories and sitting not as helper and helped, but as true, equal, peers and friends.

I sat. I ate. I became friends with. And, I changed. No longer was I satisfied with being the helper. No longer was it enough to hand out food to those in need. No, I saw that it was in sitting among, eating with, asking questions and listening to the stories of these men that I was with them instead of over them.

When I reflect on this one event in my life I understand, just a bit more, the power, beauty and significance of the story of Jesus. God who was over, became God who is with. Immanuel, God with us. I am so thankful for these three men and the friendship we formed. And, I am so glad I chose to forgo my idea of safety, comfort, and position to enter the story of another, to be with; truly, purely and wholly with. For I was the one who was changed for the better.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.26.36 AMWith 20 years of local church experience, Cari uses her gifts and experience to make the Kingdom of God tangible through relationship as a creative, connector, encourager, pastor and missional strategist.  Her love for the church and the individuals who make up the body have created a deep  desire to see the Body flourish as individuals root themselves in Jesus and extend themselves to the world around them.  In 2007 Cari founded The 11:29 Project; a work dedicated to fostering sustainable and thriving leaders. Through this work Cari meets with leaders around the globe, who desire to make the Kingdom of God tangible in their spheres of influence, for discipleship, soul care and encouragement.  Cari lives in Denver, Colorado and often finds herself in Los Angeles, California where she serves a community of young creatives seeking to influence the world through their creativity.  So, how did Cari’s story invite you in to being present?  How did her one little moment CHANGE you?  Encourage our friend today!

on infertility (with lisa ling).

In case you find yourself free to peruse various blogs or television shows, take the time to read about my friend Holly’s struggle with infertility.  Holly is a friend from high school …who happens to have her story featured tonite on CNN’s “This is Life With Lisa Ling: The Genius Experiment.”  So, read the answers to some questions I asked Holly, and then tune in to the show at 10 pm (PST) – but in the meantime, if you are or know someone who is struggling with infertility, practice kindness.  

photo cred: the portrait place {alecia silva}

photo cred: the portrait place {alecia silva}

1.  Holly, tell us about yourself.   I am the lucky stay at home mom of my amazing little boy, who will be three in December.  Before he was born, my jobs were to teach middle school students language arts and try to become pregnant.
 
2.  And, let’s cut straight to the point: will you share with us the one paragraph journey you’ve experienced with infertility?  My husband and I tried to have a baby for over three years before we were successful.  We tried the traditional route of course, followed by a series of increasingly invasive and expensive methods until we successfully became pregnant via IVF in April 2011.  Our little man was born in December of 2011!  We became pregnant once more with our left over embryos in October 2014, but I miscarried twins in December 2013.  We transferred two more in April 2014, but they miscarried very quickly.  We transferred our very last lonely little embryo in May 2014, but it didn’t take at all.  In June of 2014 we learned my eggs were no longer viable and if we wanted to have more children we would require an egg donor. 
 
3. What led you to open up to sharing your story?  The day after I learned I would need an egg donor to have a second child, I visited a website called www.parentsviaeggdonation.org.  I noticed a post from a production company called part2productions that was looking for people going through a donor IVF cycle, or who had already gone through the experience, that were willing to speak with the producer about their journey.  I have no idea why I emailed the producer telling him I would be happy to speak with him.  That is extremely out of character for me, but that is how it happened!  I do remember feeling extremely protective of any children I may have using a donor; that I would never allow anyone to make them feel like they were “different.”  I started to feel that way almost to the minute that I even learned I would need donor eggs.  The mother bear instinct is strong! 
 
4. Your sex life and/or your decision to have (more) children: Is it anyone’s business? When a couple cannot conceive a child naturally, their sex life and their goal of conception become two entirely separate entities.  I can discuss our infertility journey in detail with the goal of encouraging others, without ever needing to discuss any details of our sex life.  At all.  Thank goodness.
 
5. I’m sure you’ve experienced your share of inappropriate commentary – what advice would you give to the general public when it comes to the question of procreation?   I have really had very little to deal with to date regarding inappropriate commentary.  I did have a casual acquaintance mention once, shortly after my son was born, that he truly was a blessing despite the fact that he was conceived in a way that God surely considered to be an abomination (IVF).  My little blessing/abomination and I no longer casually acquaint with that person.
 
I have also had a few people ask why we do not just adopt.  I think the public opinion on this is that there is a baby store somewhere full of infants just waiting to be chosen.  Or maybe even a Cabbage Patch somewhere, where you could go harvest your own baby from the soil.  I will be exploring this topic in greater detail shortly on my blog, but for now I will share that we have looked into it, and it is even more daunting than the extremely daunting path we are currently taking.
 
6. How has your story had an impact on other people?  How do you hope your story has an impact on other people?  I hope our story has an impact on people that are suffering in silence.  Infertility is a nightmare, and it gets worse the longer it continues.  It is extremely important that couples experiencing it have the tools to support one another, as well as seek support from other sources.  In my case, what helped me was reading the stories of other people online, what they had tried, what worked and what didn’t, and how they felt about it.  I needed other people who were actually experiencing the same thing I was, and in many cases I touched base with them and developed virtual support systems. It is also vital to share what is going on with close friends and family, and many infertile couples are hesitant to do this.  They may feel that not being able to conceive on their own is their own fault and something to be ashamed of, even if they realize logically that is not the case.
 
I would love it if even one infertile couple heard our story and was encouraged to stay the course.  Although our attempt at baby number two has been a challenge, the fact remains that we were successful with our attempts with baby number one.  We waited a long time for our little guy and had to be so, so patient.  Patience is not one of the character traits I embrace.  I was tested almost to my limits struggling to become a mother, but when it finally happened every single trial I had experienced didn’t matter anymore.  The proverbial “Keep Your Eyes On the Prize” definitely applies to infertility.
 
7.  What books, organizations or online resources would you recommend?  I love going on WordPress and just reading about other people’s infertility journeys.  I don’t know them, of course, but it’s comforting to know there are other people traveling the same road I am. 
 
8.  What have you learned about infertility in the midst of your journey?  What I’ve learned about infertility during the midst of my journey is that it is much more common than you would think.  Almost everyone knows someone who had to take Clomid, or see a fertility specialist, or use IVF.  However, not many people are comfortable discussing what they are going through at the time they are going through it.
 
9.  Obviously, the feature this weekend with CNN is rather exciting; tell us more about how that happened and what folks will see when they tune into it on Sunday.  To my surprise, the producer I talked with way back in June ended up asking us to be interviewed on camera for a documentary about genetics and infertility.  It made me nervous, but I figured it was a great way to do my part in uncloaking the secrecy behind infertility.  Shockingly, my husband felt the same way.  Never in a million years would I have guessed he would be willing to be involved in a documentary.  The best part about all of this is that it is for Lisa Ling’s new show on CNN.  For those of us who grew up in a “Channel One” town, Lisa Ling is seared into our teenage memories.  When they came to film, it was rather surreal. I kept thinking, Lisa Ling is in my house.  Didn’t I just see her on the TV in Mr. Pauley’s class reporting on the Unabomber?  
 
My hope is that when people watch the show they will see how the fertility process has evolved.  The documentary begins with a sperm bank in the mid-1980s that was founded on the premise of only offering “genius” sperm.  It ends with us and our search to find a suitable egg donor, and what we consider to be the most important characteristics.  Being a genius is not one of them.  You will see me get pretty excited about a donor who describes herself as family oriented, loyal, and a hard worker.  
 
10. On your blog, you refer to infertility as “the big secret that never was” – dissolve this myth for us.  When I was in the midst of my IVF cycle three years ago, I had no choice but to be honest about it right from the get-go.  For one thing, I immediately gained 10 lbs from the fertility drugs.  Also, I developed the infamous “Progesterack” which is a drastically increased chest measurement associated with Progesterone, a drug you must use in IVF.  If I had chosen to hide this from people at work, they would have assumed I went on a fooder and then got breast implants.  Being truthful was the less painful choice.  As time has gone by, I am very proud of my decision to be forthcoming because infertility isn’t something to be hidden; it should be acknowledged like any other health condition that requires treatment.
I am so proud of my brave friend.  To hear more, check out Holly’s blog by clicking here.  And be sure to tune in to CNN tonite at 10 pm (PST) and watch “This is Life With Lisa Ling: The Genius Experiment.”

the 2 am boob tube.

Occasionally on the be, mama. be Facebook page, i’ll pose a question.  I love the conversation it generates and the interactions – often between strangers – it promotes (the latter of which also happens to be my favorite kind of party to throw.  For the love of connecting!)  One such question brought about quite the dialogue a couple weeks’ ago:

I used to be a reader. And then I met 2 am feedings and a Netflix queue of Madmen episodes. It’s all downhill from here, folks. Dun dun dun. (What other binge-worthy shows would you recommend?)

And your answers have given me the fuel to flame the up-all-night fire.  Take a look!

Suits
Covert Affairs
West Wing*
Orphan Black*
United States of Tara
Call the Midwife
Portlandia
Parks n Rec*
Dawson’s Creek
Foyle’s War 
(Any BBC mystery)
Friday Night Lights*
House of Cards*
Say Yes to the Dress
What Not to Wear
Parenthood*
Veronica Mars
Outlanders
30 Rock
Walking Dead
(History of comedy)
Monty Python
Secrets of… (BBC)
True Detectives 

* = multiple votes

So, what have Baby Brother and I watched thus far?

ImageWeeds: Meh.  I wouldn’t recommend it to the general public, but sometimes I get on these kicks of wanting to finish what I’ve started (because, you know, will the housewife successfully navigate the portals of the underground drug business?  This keeps me up at night, and hey, the show is a step down from Breaking Bad.  That was too much for me).

Mad Men: Not for everyone, but yes for me!  I love this slice of 60’s history-pie.  While I cringe at the treatment of women and minorities (…and, and…), my insides simultaneously cheer for how far we’ve come.  The show is brilliantly written, and I promise I haven’t taken to drinking a whiskey sour while breastfeeding the little dude.

The United States of Tara: My friend Julie recommended this one to me with the caveat that it ended far before its time …which reminded me of my high school love, My So-Called Life …which led me to take a stab at it right away.  You will not regret watching it (and neither will you and you, and you and you – and so the multiple personalities proclaim).

Gilmore Girls: Friends, how have I managed to live without this show?  (To venture a guess to the rhetorical question, it probably has something to do with not owning a television in college, when it came out).  Now, with a nod to lavender tulle and burgundy lipstick, I wave my 90’s flag proudly – and so should you.  Brilliantly witty.  Heartwarmingly endearing.

All I can say is that I’m so, so glad that Netflix via my little iPad is an option at 2 in the morning – because it sure beats infomercials and reruns of I Dream of Jeannie.  

xo, c.

So, what would you add to the aforementioned list of shows to watch?  Have you seen any of the four I’ve binged on in the past six weeks?  And more importantly, anyone want to join me for a 2 am festival of boob tube fun?

the little things: one CNN report (catherine besk).

Oh friends, you are in for a treat today – because this is one BEAUTY of a story.  Cat is an old friend from Santa Cruz, and one of those people who should just be nominated as Grown-Up Prom Queen.  Because everyone not only likes her, but they love her …and I’d venture to guess that the feeling is mutual.  So read today how she’s loved others so very, very well, and get ready to be MOVED.  

In January 2010, an earthquake rocked Haiti, causing it to crumble. As I sat comfortably in my living room watching the CNN news reports on the devastation, something inside me shifted. Anderson Cooper was reporting on the orphan crisis, and it turned my world upside down. I got down on my knees and just bawled. When my husband came home from work that night I showed him, and we knew that we were not supposed to just feel bad about it, we were supposed to act. We didn’t quite know what that action would look like, but one day a dear friend sent us an e-mail with this short video attached. It was called “Lucy Lane’s Gotcha Day.” I had no idea what that meant.

 

If you only have 1 min, just watch from 3:10-4:10, but I really encourage you to watch the whole wonderful thing.

If you have now recovered from weeping, we can continue on together…

Watching a mother united with her daughter through adoption was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. I immediately filled out the pre-application, and when my husband walked in the door that night, all I needed was his signature. I am dangerous when he is at work. God had been working in both of our hearts to prepare us for this moment. We were saying, “YES!” to adoption, and we were scared out of our minds.

PEOPLE! This was not part of the plan! We already had two children. There are two of us. We have two hands. We thought we were done. I love my children, but I also love to be in control. Hahaha! I wanted to be in charge and keep our little world safe and predictable. There is nothing predictable about adoption. I would find myself on the kitchen floor just praying and repeating, “I surrender, I surrender, I surrender.” I knew that I could trust God, and we just kept leaning on Him and the truth of His promises.

When I had doubts along the way, or when I would feel myself start to panic, I would go back and watch the Lucy Lane video, and I would immediately be reminded of why we were doing this. All of the crazy paperwork and waiting wasn’t for nothing, it meant that there was a CHILD at the end of all of this.

If you watched the video then you heard that one of the songs is “Bless the Broken Road,” by Rascal Flatts. These lyrics have so much meaning for our family,

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

There was a lot of brokenness on the journey to our son. He experienced brokenness and loss, and so did we, but the heartache and pain led us straight to each other. We are so thankful for our journey. We are overwhelmed with love for our son. Be careful when you open your email today, it might contain some life-altering information.

10505214_10152620596506963_8425546485360460811_oCatherine is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom. She loves dancing and singing with her children and husband in the living room. Kenny is her teammate and best friend. Their oldest, Maizie, is preparing for the stage, but also focusing on being 8 and hilarious. Lucy is spirited, loyal, sensitive and really likes PINK (her blanket, not the singer), her family and watching movies. Matthew came to us through the miracle of adoption. He is determined, loving, and has such a big heart. The family is passionate about Jesus, loving others, fighting child trafficking, justice, music and adoption. Catherine blogs at “Because of Love,” about adoption, family life, orphan care, justice, and loving all people.  K, Cara again – because friends, these 721 words are just the tip of the iceberg.  Click here and here to read about the first part of their journey, with their son Cruz; and then click here to read further about Matthew, their second son, pictured above.  In the meantime, what can you say to encourage Catherine today?