Z: Zohra Sehgal #AToZChallenge

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I'm gonna end this challenge with one of my favorite people who teaches me to never lose that inner child. Zohra Sehgal was an actor, dancer and choreographer and she was one of the longest living celebrities of the world. She died at the age of 102, but with the strength and the mindset of a 20 year old. If you still are finding it difficult to place her, think about the woman who played Amitabh Bachchan's feisty mother in 'Cheeni Kum', that's her!

Y: Ygritte #AToZChallenge

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You will only know Ygritte is you have read/watched 'Game Of Thrones'. She is a wildling from the lands beyond the great Wall on the continent Westeros. Her kind are called "Wildlings" because they are outside the feudal order of the Seven Kingdoms south of the Wall. But, she calls them "Free Folk".

X: Xena #AToZChallenge

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How many of you remember the Warrior Princess? Xena will always be the first super hero I have ever known! For those who have no clue what I am taking about, Xena is the main protagonist of a show from the 90's called 'Warrior Princess'. The series depicts her on a quest to redeem herself for her dark past by using her formidable fighting skills to help people. The character of Xena was first introduced in the series 'Hercules' and when she became immensely popular there, she got her own show. So well deserved, I'd say!

W: Women Of The World #AToZChallenge

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This is for every woman out there. Remember to be an inspiration and to be inspired.

V: Vartika Chaturvedi #AToZChallenge

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I'll let out another secret today, I feel immensely proud when I see a woman in uniform. There is something so inspirational about it. Vartika Chaturvedi is the cop from Netflix's show 'Delhi Crime'. This show states the events of the Nirbhaya case which shook the country. This character is inspired by the real life cop Chhaya Sharma who handled this case. For those who are unaware of this case, a woman and a man were harassed on a moving bus on 16th December 2012 in Delhi by six men. While the man was beaten up badly, the girl was raped and mutilated beyond recognition. Her intestines were pulled out of her body and she did not live long after the incident. 'Delhi Crime', in its seven episodes, attempts to show the effort put in by the police in capturing these rapists within five days of the crime.

U: P. T. Usha #AToZChallenge

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Much before Usain Bolt blazed his way into our screens and on social media, the only athletes we Indians were aware of were Milkha Singh and P. T. Usha. Since I studied in an all girls school, at every sports day our physical education teacher used to ask us to embrace our inner P. T. Usha and run like her. She's been the sole inspiration from the field of sports during our growing up years. I'm so glad we have Mary Kom, Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, P. V. Sindhu, Dipa Karmakar, Sakshi Malik, Hima Das, the Phogat sisters and many more now.

T: Tracy Whitney #AToZChallenge

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I'm not going to lie to you, Tracy Whitney is a con-artist, and she will be my favorite female protagonists of all time. For those unaware, Tracy Whitney is the heroine hero of Sidney Sheldon's 'If Tomorrow Comes'. I read this book decades ago and I remember wanting to be like her when I grew up. That is the magic of books you know, and the characters they contain can mold your mind in a good way pretty early in your life. I read this book in my teens and I remember falling in love with the story, but more with Tracy Whitney. She's one of the bravest, smartest and strongest women in the literary world.

S: Sushmita Sen #AToZChallenge

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S was a very tricky letter as I have way too many inspirations whose name starts with S. Serena Williams, Sudha Murty, Sunitha Williams, Shefali Shah and some more. But, when I close my eyes and think of one Indian woman who inspires me the most, it has to be Sushmita Sen. No, it has nothing to do with the fact that she has been a Miss Universe and an actor, it just has to do with the amazing woman that she is. When Sushmita was applying for the Miss India contest in 1994, many other applicants were withdrawing their applications as Aishwarya Rai too was applying the same year and there was no way that they could win against her. Sushmita could have done the same, but she didn't. Armed with a few clothes stitched by her local tailor, she entered the competition and won it with grace. It did not matter who her fellow contestants were, she knew she was good and that's the confidence that mattered.

R: Rohini Nilekani #AToZChallenge

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While most people only know her as the wife of Nandan Nilekani, the co-founder of tech giant Infosys, Rohini Nilekani has used that as a stepping stone to make the world a better place. Not many people talk about her or her achievements, but Rohini is a philanthropist like no other. An active advocate of Indian philanthropy, Rohini believes that dialogue has the power to de-risk our future. Through her work, she seeks to address the extreme inequality between the ‘have-everythings’ and the ‘have-nothings.’ Rohini has spent several years as a journalist, working with leading publications of the time, including Bombay Magazine, India Today, MINT and The Times of India.

Q: Queen Elizabeth II #AToZChallenge

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I already have told you that I have a thing for the royals, and, it all started with this lady. Much before the 'Crown' on Netflix made her story popular, I was following her life very closely. Queen Elizabeth II is an enigma. Her strength, demeanor, courage and total responsibility for her people make her a very important and inspirational figure.

P: Phoebe Buffay #AToZChallenge

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While it is always debatable as to who is one's favorite character in F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Phoebe Buffay will always remain the most inspirational to me. Clearly the outsider among the other five, she still manages to hold on her own and serves as a rock to her friends in their tough times. Offbeat and ditzy, Phoebe is wonderfully weird. She has her own weird beliefs and sticks to it no matter what who has to say. She's been on her own since a young age and has had a pretty rough life, but she has never given up on a chance for happiness or to find love.

O: Oprah Winfrey #AToZChallenge

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She was born to a teenage mother who was dependent on government welfare payments and never really knew who her father was. At the age of nine, she was sexually abused by her cousin, uncle and other relatives. She went to school wearing clothes made of potato sacks and was ridiculed by her class mates. She fought obesity, depression and suicidal tendencies. A few decades later, she became the richest African American of the 20th century and also has been called the most influential woman in the world. Orpah Gail Winfrey's life has never been easy. But, here was a woman who did not let her past define her. She fought hard, followed her passions and made a life for herself that most people envy today.

N: Neena Gupta #AToZChallenge

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As an Indian, can you imagine having a child out of wedlock? No, right? Now imagine the same scenario in the 1980s. Neena Gupta braved society and their tongues to become one of the first celebrities to have a love child. Neena was in a relationship with former West Indian cricketer Vivian Richards who was married to another woman. She went ahead and had his child who we know today as Masaba Gupta, the vivacious and quirky fashion designer.

M: Michelle Obama #AToZChallenge

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Personally, for me, there will always be only one FLOTUS, and that is Michelle Obama. There are only two topics in the world that I loathe talking about, and prefer to stay away from, religion and politics. It is very easy to associate Michelle Obama with politics as she has been the First Lady of the US for two terms and did a brilliant job at it, but, when you look at her for the person she is, you'll see the beauty she has in her soul.

L: Laxmi Agarwal #AToZChallenge

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In 2005, when Laxmi was 15, a 32 year old man pursued her. When she rejected his advances, he doused her with acid.

K: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw #AToZChallenge

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Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is an Indian billionaire entrepreneur. She is the chairperson and managing director of Biocon Limited, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore. She hoped to go to medical school, but did not obtain a scholarship, so she studied fermentation science, and trained to be a brewmaster, a very non-traditional field for a woman. While working as a technical consultant at Jupiter Breweries Limited, Calcutta, she was told that she would not be hired as a master brewer in India because "It's a man's work". That is when she was offered a position in Scotland.

J: J. K Rowling #AToZChallenge

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We all have heard of many 'rags to riches' stories, but this one is the most inspirational. While on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990, Joanne Rowling conceived the idea for the Harry Potter series, the story of a young boy attending a school of wizardry. We all know the series to be world famous today, but it was not an easy task for the author to get to where she is.

I: Indian Women's Cricket Team #AToZChallenge

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India is a country obsessed with bollywood and cricket, there is no denying that. While the whole country is waiting for the ICC World Cup to begin and support Virat and the boys, is there anyone out there anticipating a certain other World Cup that would be held in 2021? Does anyone recall that the Indian Women's Cricket Team were the runners-up in the Women's Cricket World Cup 2017? Can anyone name all the players in the Indian Women's Cricket Team? Before you answer these questions, let me get to the most basic question of all. How many of you were aware that there is a Indian Women's Cricket Team?

H: Holly Golightly #AToZChallenge

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Holiday Golightly more famously known as Holly Golightly, born Lulamae Barnes, is the main protagonist from the novella 'Breakfast At Tiffany's' written by Truman Capote. This character was then immortalized by Audrey Hepburn in a movie with the same name. The book is about an unnamed narrator who relates his memories of Holly Golightly, the people in her life, and his relationship with her. Holly is his downstairs neighbor and the center of attention of his memoirs. She is 18 years old when he first meets her. She is a creature unlike anyone he has ever known, simultaneously sophisticated, blunt, and unapologetic about her lifestyle. This is what drew me to her. Holly is one of the most fascinating characters I've ever read.

G: Gayatri Devi #AToZChallenge

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Touted to be one of the most beautiful women in the world, Gayatri Devi was unlike any other royal that we had heard about. She was the Princess of Cooch Behar (Koch Dynasty of Ancient Assam), presently West Bengal. While Princesses are usually thought the art of dance and embroidery, Gayatri Devi preferred hunting and riding. She shot her first panther when she was 13 and there was no looking back after that. Since she was primarily brought up by her mother and her grandmother, she grew up being fiercely independent and a feminist, which later became instrumental in her starting schools for girls and the women's empowerment movement.

F: Frida Kahlo #AToZChallenge

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I've been intrigued by Frida Kahlo since the time I heard of her a few years ago. The first I heard of her was when I came across a quote of hers where she says, "I am my own muse. I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to better." I started digging up more information on her since then. Every piece of news about her was fascinating and soon she became an inspiration.

E: Ellen DeGeneres #AToZChallenge

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One of the most happiest celebrity couples that I have seen is Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen DeGeneres is someone who you cannot not like. Her personality is such that you are automatically attracted to her. For those who are unaware of who she is, Ellen DeGeneres is an American comedian, television host, actress, writer, producer, and LGBT activist. She currently hosts her own TV talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

D: Diana, Princess Of Wales #AToZChallenge

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Let me let out a secret here. I am truly, madly and deeply obsessed with the British Royals. I have followed them closely much before the era of social media. Now with the advent of social media, it gets more easier to know what they are up to. While Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle are charming in their own way, neither of them hold a candle to their late mother-in-law, Diana.

C - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie #AToZChallenge

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"I am angry. Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change, but in addition to being angry, I'm also hopeful because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to make and remake themselves for the better."

B: Brene Brown #AToZChallenge

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'The power of vulnerability' is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world, with over 35 million views. This talk helped me get past a very tough phase of my life when I was a total mess battling stress and self-doubt. A blogger friend had shared this video with me and that is how I was first introduced to Brene Brown.

A: Amal Clooney #AToZChallenge

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Much before she came into the spotlight for marrying one of the most gorgeous and eligible bachelors of Hollywood, Amal Alamuddin, the barrister-at-law was doing a fantastic job in international law and human rights. Born in Lebanon, her name means hope and that is exactly what she is to her clients. Amal learned English by watching TV shows. Having highly educated and ambitious parents, Amal followed their footsteps, but chose law as a subject and graduated with a B.A degree. Today, she is qualified to practice as a lawyer in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Action Replay + Gratitude List: March 2019

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The breathing space I spoke about last month, didn't happen as March continued to keep me busy. Most of my time was being spent on work or on work related stuff at home. I still continue to be pretty good at time management so the month did pass by smoothly. March was a highlight for me in many ways. Loads of appreciation came my way in terms of my professional work as well as my writing. Motivation and appreciation is something that is vital for survival. It is the small things that count and help us feel that life is not all that bad. Also, march taught me the importance of hard work and persistence. If you put your heart and soul, blood and sweat into something, success will surely come your way. There is no doubt about that. All one needs is the will to try.

A To Z Challenge 2019: Theme Reveal #AtoZChallenge

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I know I'm a week late for the theme reveal, but I was traveling and I needed that break! Better late than never, they say.

As a new year begins, my thought instantly goes to what theme should I choose for the A to Z challenge that year. I have been doing the April A to Z challenge for the past five years and have always managed to complete it successfully. Last year, I decided that it would be my last as I barely scraped through the challenge and it was difficult to write everyday while having a full time job and managing a household. But, last December a brilliant idea struck my mind and I wanted to give life to it. Honestly, I have waited for April to take this challenge up. My current work load is still exhausting and it would be too much of a stretch for me to commit to something like this, but I want to give this a try. Even the past years haven't been easy, but I managed to complete the challenge successfully. With a little extra push, I will this year too.


PHOTO PROMPT © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

Wherever life plants you
Bloom with grace
It is okay to fall
But come back with an ace

The Gully Gang

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You would have to be someone living under the rock, if you haven't heard of 'Gully Boy' until now. I watched this movie on the first day of its release and loved it! While the movie is good, I honestly felt that it was a tad bit long, a trim of 15-20 minutes would have made it great I suppose. What works the best for this movie are its characters. Each and every one of them. Very rarely do you come across a movie that has such realistic characters. I have always loved Zoya Akhtar's visualization of her characters. She keeps them real and flawed, that makes them more believable. Be it Konkana's character, Sona and Farhan's character, Vikram from 'Luck By Chance', or Hrithik's character, Arjun and Kalki's character, Natasha from 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara', or all the Mehras and the supporting cast from 'Dil Dhadakne Do', she oozes life into her characters and they can be anyone among you and me. More often than not, that's the beauty of her movies. The characters in it.

A Decade Of LOL

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Ten years ago, I was in one of the most toughest phases of my life. I had just started working and while I had to deal with the pressures of corporate, my relationship of three years also ended at the same time. Emotionally, I was a lost cause. That is when I turned to writing. It helped me heal to a large extent. I was just penning down thoughts and poems in a book and it helped me feel light. Words somehow understood me and I was glad to have a space to vent. A good friend then suggested that I start a blog as she thought I was good at poetry. That's how LOL was born and my first post saw the light of day on this day in 2009. This space was started with the intention of healing a broken heart, but over time it has become one of the most important aspects of my life. LOL has seen my journey from a brokenhearted cynic to the happily married independent woman that I am today.

Girl, Just Do It

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Let them call you emotional
It only shows how strong you are
Equality is not a small battle
Come on girl, prepare for war

Let them call you dramatic
Express yourself whole and soul
Do not listen to what they say
Winning should be your only goal

Action Replay + Gratitude List: February 2019

The shortest month of the year did feel short. When you are busy, time does fly indeed. Work has been keeping me busy since last August and I've been working non-stop because of it. Once I have taken up something, I will not rest until I complete it. So, well, it will be sometime before I rest. Apart from work, February has been a pretty moody month for me. I did manage my time better and yet was not somehow in the mood for other things. While I have slowed down a lot in terms of everything around me, in February I paused quite a bit. It did me good, honestly. We women have this innate need to want to do everything around us pretty much at the same time. This is what causes us stress, this is what makes us feel bad about not being able to do it. Over the past few months I have learnt to slow down and take one thing at a time. In February, I paused a few of my hobbies just to be with myself and not do too much.

The Inheritance Of Loss

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

"I can't believe dad didn't tell us where he hid the gems." Neil says angrily.

"You convert your earnings to precious gems and not tell your children where you kept it?" Nathan says.

Book Review: Apple Tree Yard - Louise Doughty

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Title: Apple Tree Yard
Author: Louise Doughty
Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main - TV Tie In edition (5 January 2017)
Genre: Crime, Thriller & Mystery
Price: Rs. 142 on Amazon
Pages: 448

I heard of this book thanks to social media. A couple of friends had highly recommended this book and that was reason enough for me to pick it up. The blurb sounded really interesting and I was looking forward to dig in to this psychological thriller.

The Stars Shine Down

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No one expected this to happen
But we knew it was for the best
All the uncertainties so far
Were finally laid to rest

I love the way this started
Slowly at first and then all at once
The darkest times then turned bright
Leading to a thousand splendid suns

Growing Up Without A Role Model

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People seldom improve when they have no other role model but themselves to copy.” – Oliver Goldsmith.

Role models are important for one to grow, there is no denying that. There needs to be someone to look up to, someone to motivate you, someone to show you what to strive for. What happens when you don't have a role model? How does one turn out in that case. For children, role models are usually parents, teachers, siblings, or someone from within the family. Someone they are close to. I am someone who grew up without a role model. Honestly, the concept of having a role model was alien to me thanks to the people around me. Positive role models influence our actions and motivate us to strive to uncover our true potentials and overcome our weakness. Having them pushes us to make the most of our life. While I had no one to look up to, there were plenty around to mock and ridicule. There was no one to guide me professionally or personally. I did a lot of trial and error, and made my own choices. While people were standing ready to call out names and point fingers, no one was there to hold my hand and take me along the right path, if I was on the wrong one. Fortunately, I wasn't.


PHOTO PROMPT © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

She looks at me from across the campfire, her gorgeous face a subtle shade of gold.

"Why are you so quiet?" Nadia asks, poking my elbow.

Action Replay + Gratitude List: January 2019

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January got done, just like that! I still can't believe that we are one month down already for 2019. Why is time passing by so quickly? January started off brilliantly and has remained a pretty stable month for me. Ever since I chose 'Simplify' to be my word of the year for 2019, I have been seriously implementing it. I do not think too much or complicate things anymore. I don't take things to heart or mull over it for long periods of time. This has helped me calm down immensely. Personally, January has been a month of slowing down and taking things one at a time. It has worked out beautifully for me, thankfully! I read a quote recently that said, "A wise man once said, fuck this shit. And he lived happily ever after". Oh yeah, the wise man was right! Or was it a woman?

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng

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Title: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group; new edition (1 February 2015)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 379 on Amazon
Pages: 304

Hero To Zero #NotAMovieReview

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I've been a die-hard Shahrukh Khan fan since I was a little girl. I've loved him right from his 'Baazigar' days and have been a loyal fan throughout. So much that I even endured the torture called 'Fan' just for him. While 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' gave me the mother of all migraines, I still forgave him for that. My love for him was not something a bad movie could diminish. Then 'Jab Harry Met Sejal' happened. It tested my love to the core, and yet it survived. Though terribly disappointed and angry, I still forgave him. After watching 'Zero', the second day after its release, for the first time ever I questioned my love for him. I then swore to never watch a movie of his again so that my memory of him will still remain that of love. But, as a crazy fan for close to three decades, I had many many questions in my head to ask him. That's when I decided to call his team and ask for some of his time. This is how it went.

Dear Woman, Don't Apologize

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You don't have to be always alright
Sometimes, it is okay to not be nice
For being honest about what you feel
Dear woman, don't apologize

You don't have to do it all
Everything you don't have to supervise
For getting that me-time to relax
Dear woman, don't apologize

Book Review: The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender

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Title: The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake
Author: Aimee Bender
Publisher: Windmill Books (1 September 2011)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 499 on Amazon
Pages: 336

It is not a hidden fact that I'm a foodie. I'm also a bibliophile so when these two meet, I'm ecstatic! After the sensuous 'Chocolat' and the romantically delectable 'Like Water For Chocolate', when someone recommended this book to me, I was more than happy to buy and read it. The blurb was way too interesting and the fact that it had a nine year old as the protagonist was endearing. I started reading this book in early December, but work kept me insanely busy. Towards the end of the month, I continued reading it and this was the first book I finished in 2019.

Simplify #WOTY2019

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My word of the year for 2018 was 'Survive' and boy, did life take it seriously or what! When I sat down to think about my word of the year for 2019, there were too many choices. I wanted something realistic and something that is very important to me. I have always been a very impulsive person. While most people think that I'm impulsive only in terms of speech, I'm much like that in all spheres of life too. I speak what's on my mind, and, my actions reflect the same too. I make impulsive decisions and then think too much about it. Since 2018 kept me really busy, it made me over think a lot too.

Action Replay + Gratitude List: 2018

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When I chose 'Survive' as the word of the year for 2018, life somehow decided to take it more seriously than me. 2018 has been a beautiful year in more ways than one, but it also has been the year that tried me the most. It threw me up, dragged me down, pulled my hair, squeezed me and tested every ounce of my patience. But, I survived! That's what matters right?