Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #37

It’s Friday! You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

This week I am starting something new.

I am inviting you join me on Good Vibration Gratitude Fridays!

Exciting, right?

You are probably wondering how you get in on the action.

It’s easy!  If you are grateful for something, please either comment below or share a pic of what you are grateful for on Instagram with the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude

Also feel free to follow me on Instragram at @kerrymckim

Here are 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1.  A day at Liberty Ridge Farm

    Last Friday I attended my daughter’s Pre-K field trip to a local farm.  The weather was beautiful.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day or better company.

  2. Apple Picking at Hick’s Orchard

    My daughter and I spent a fun day with Kimmy Gibbler and her family at Hick’s Orchard where we picked apples and did a corn maze.  So much fall fun!

  3. Time with my bestie

    The night before we went apple picking (#2), my daughter and I slept over Kimmy’s house.  It was so much fun to spend time together.

    Kimmy even made a boujee cheese platter.  And she made one for the kids too.

  4. My Red Sox Baby

    As I write this, it is the bottom of the 8th inning and my beloved Red Sox are playing Houston.

    October 15th was Pregnancy and Infant loss day and I shared my story on Facebook about my Red Sox baby.  The night the Red Sox won the 2013 world series, I felt lucky (we just started trying) so I peed on a stick and it said I was pregnant.  Bryon and I were so excited about our Red Sox baby.

    That baby died shortly thereafter but it took a couple of weeks for my body to figure it out.  Bryon was so strong for me but one night he cried and said he was sad he wasn’t going to hold his baby.

    I became pregnant with my daughter very soon after that so I tried not to dwell on my Red Sox Baby.  Because I couldn’t imagine my life without her.  This was the hardest thing I went through before Bryon died but I can honestly say that now I am at peace because I know he has gotten to hold both of our children.

    I am grateful for that.

    And I am grateful for those who talk about it because even though 1 in 4 woman suffer a miscarriage, I never felt more alone.

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  5. Red Sox going to the World Series!!!!

    Good job boys!

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    What are you grateful for this week?

    Don’t forget to comment or share a pic on Instagram using the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude

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Fall 2018: Apple Picking at Hicks Orchard

Last Sunday my daughter and I spent Sunday visiting Hicks Orchard in Granville, NY with Kimmy Gibbler and her family.

Setting off.

 

Look at all those delicious apples.

My daughter loved picking apples.

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She couldn’t resist.

Beware of the apple tree monsters!

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After we went picking apples, we went to get some cider donuts.

Yum!

Played some corn hole.  Well more like threw around the bean bags.  But they still had fun.

Heading down to the corn maze.

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5 acres of fun.

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This was a map of the maze.

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We were told it takes roughly 40 minutes.  It took us 49 but we had two small children.  There was a crossword puzzle and if you got all the clues, you won a prize.  We were successful and got a large pumpkin.

Did you do any fun Fall activities last weekend?

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #36

It’s Friday! You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

Here are 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1.  Fall in Maine

    I got to be in one of the most beautiful places on Earth during the most beautiful time of the year.

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  2. Greeting the Troops

    My father is a Maine Troop Greeter.  Military planes stop in Bangor, Maine because it is the most Eastern airport in the country.  And there is a group of volunteers that greet them.

    My daughter and I had an opportunity to join my father when a plane came in.  My daughter was not shy at all and wanted to shake everyone’s hand.  I am so proud of her.

    I am so grateful for this opportunity, as well as the volunteers who welcome home each troop.  And I am grateful for the Troops who serve to protect our country and our freedoms.

  3. Dinner and Drinks with Charlotte

    Charlotte and I tried out the Airline Brewing Company Pub in Ellsworth. The food and drinks were good and the bartender was friendly.  I am grateful that I got to try out this new place and for time with Charlotte.

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  4. Lunch with the Baker

    I also got the chance to have lunch with my friend who I will call The Baker because she is a baker. (Those of you who are unfamiliar with this blog- I rarely use real names) My friends business is called Affectionate Confections and she makes amazing wedding cakes.

    When my Maine Best Friend and The Scientist got married, she did their wedding cake.

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    We were going to have lunch in Bar Harbor but when we arrived in town, we realized that there was a cruise ship in town that day as well as several tour buses.  I was happy for the business owners of Bar Harbor but the city was packed.  So we decided to have lunch at The Tan Turtle Tavern in Northeast Harbor.

    After lunch, we spent some time down by the water at the Northeast Harbor Marina.  My daughter had fun throwing rocks into the water.

  5. Getting the opportunity to get in touch with my old self

    I know I talk a lot about personal growth and I am a strong believer in that.

    As I have been going through and purging my belongings, both at my house in New York and my parents house in Maine,  I have been coming across pieces of my life I have forgotten.  It has helped me remember who I am and were I came from.  I think it is important to be in touch with your old self in order to grow.

    I see myself doing an in depth post about this but I wanted to share a few of my favorites.

    My school picture from my junior year in high school

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    My palm card from my failed Maine House run in 2006.

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    What are you grateful for this week?

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Only YOU know what’s best for YOU

“You can’t tell me what to do!”

That is the latest retort my daughter will tell me if she doesn’t agree with whatever instruction I am giving her at that moment.

She has also said it to her grandparents too so I know I am not special.

I know her teachers are working on independence and not being bossy in her Pre-K class and sometimes my daughter’s retort will be followed up with “You need to worry about yourself!”

I appreciate the fact that she is learning to set her own boundaries.  It is something I have struggled with my whole life.  But when I tell her to complete a simple yet essential task like “brush you teeth” or “put on your pants,” I tend to respond to her with “I am your mother and I can tell you what to do!”

My daughter is only four but I admire her ability to be true to herself.  I hope she never loses it.

Maybe we all need to be in touch with our inner 4 year old who doesn’t want to brush their teeth or wear pants.

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As far as I can remember, I have been the person who always sought approval of others.

It began with my parents.

I was concerned about having their approval on everything, even into adulthood.  While parental guidance is generally a good thing, it is not healthy for a grown adult to depend on their parents opinion to make every decision.

When I went off to college, I found another group of people to seek approval from- my friends.

My friends were good people but they obviously had a different level of emotional investment in me than my parents had.  My friends convinced me to get an eyebrow piercing.  This form of approval was much more exciting than my parents approval.  My parents never would have approved of an eyebrow ring.

I felt like a real bad-ass.  Me and all the other people on campus who had eyebrow rings in the late 1990’s.

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In my twenties, I got involved in politics and I had tons more people to seek approval from.  I had to seek approval from my political party leaders, the leaders of any political organizations I belonged to as well as my peers.

I had to seek approval from the people I was allied with in whatever organizational politics were going on. The dreaded “politics of politics”.

(Bryon referred to it as people fighting over who gets to become the mayor of Candy Land.)

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Oh and voters.

I had to seek the approval of voters.

I mean, they were the reason I got into politics in the first place.

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Bryon entered my life during my political years.

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One of the things that drew me to him was his intelligence.  I trusted his judgment.  And I sought his approval.

Bryon did help me boost my confidence and see my self worth, I still wasn’t confident enough to make my own decisions.

I had trouble making simple decisions without his input and approval.  He used to email me at lunchtime about what I wanted for dinner in hopes that we could come to a decision by dinnertime.

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Don’t get me wrong.  If you are in a marriage or a committed relationship, you do want to confer with one another about decisions that affect the both of you.  But a grown adult should possess the ability to make simple decisions.  The only decision I was capable of making was hot or iced coffee.  (Answer: Iced.  Almost always iced.)

But I needed Bryon’s opinion and approval on everything. The sad thing is, he spent years boosting me up and I was so co-dependent on him that he never got to see me soar.

Why have I always struggled with making decisions?

For me, I think it was due to the fact that I was indecisive and because I lacked confidence in myself.

The latter is silly because my gut is almost always right.  When I look back at things I regret, it usually starts with ignoring my intuition.  When I meet people, I usually feel good, bad or indifferent.  When someone who gives me that bad feeling befriends me, I will regret it.

It’s the price I pay for ignoring my intuition.

After Bryon died, I went through a personal metamorphosis.

When Bryon died, I wasn’t simply heartbroken.

My soul was completely shattered.

And when my soul was completely shattered, I questioned everything I believed or have ever believed.

I began to live my life more intentionally.

Life is a gift and I want to the rest of my years to be meaningful.

So far my widowhood can be split into three phases.

The first phase of widowhood was the “WTF happened to my life?” phase and can be equated to morning fog that is so thick that you can’t drive in it.  That lasted about three to six months and was full of sadness and anger.

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The second phase lasted until I was about 18 months to two years out.  It was still foggy but less so and it consisted of me actually getting used to the fact that Bryon was really gone.  This phase tended to be filled with sadness and emptiness.

Now I am two years into my widowhood “journey.” (Seriously, why do we call grief a journey?  A journey implies something pleasant and I would rather have a colonscopy than go on this “journey” again).

I am currently in the “Third Phase” which is the phase where I need to start living again.  It doesn’t suffice to just think about it.  I need to actually do it.

The Third Phase is lonely.  Everyone else has moved on and because I am not sitting on my couch, unshowered, and crying while drinking a box of wine and watching the Gilmore Girls on Netflix that that means everyone thinks that I have also moved on.

I am much better but I still have my moments.  Luckily those moments that cause me to tear up usually last for 2-5 minutes.  In the earlier phases, certain memories could have me crying for several days.

And a widow never “moves on”.  We move forward, but we do not move on.

But the Third Phase is also tricky because I have decided to move forward but I am trying to learn my way.  I am trying to figure out my new identity and acclimate to a life that is filled with just “my” goals, not “our” goals.  There is no “how-to” manual for navigating the Third Phase.

This process is very overwhelming.  My life has at least ten different paths I can take and I have to decide this on my own.  I have to decide which path is best for me and my for my daughter.

As I adjust to my new vision for the rest of my life.  I find myself falling into my old patterns.  I started to look externally for approval.

But that needs to stop.

Because I know very few widows.  At least “in real life.”  I am connected to thousands online but not many in my day to day life.

So that means most people, including my own parents, learn about widowhood from me.  Well me, and This is Us and the last fifteen minutes of the How I Met Your Mother finale.

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But even if someone has regular conversations with me and reads this blog, they don’t get the whole picture. I don’t talk or write about everything.

There is no way I can accurately portray the depths of grief in written or spoken word.  There is not way I can convey the emptiness and hopelessness I have felt.  And I don’t try because no one would understand.  And they can’t understand it because they haven’t gone through it.

Very few people know what I have gone through.  And that, in itself, is a good thing.  Even if I feel isolated and frustrated, I am glad so many people won’t have to experience this.  I am happy that most people get to grow old with their loves.

Therefore, when I think of all these life decisions, only I know whats best for me.  Sure, my friends and family care about me and want whats best for me and my daughter.

But they aren’t me.

And I am sure they aren’t seeking my approval on their lives.

Only I know what is best for me.

And that statement doesn’t just apply to widows.

It applies to everyone, including you.

Only you have lived your life.  Only you have felt what you have felt. Only you have felt the depths of your own experiences.

Only you know what is best for you.

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #35

It’s Friday! You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

Here are 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1.  My day trip in Maine

    It was so nice to be home and feel that cool, ocean air.

 

2. Playing with my daughter

After our day trip, we did some playing in the yard at my parents house and at the playground at our local school.  My daughter said that the slide was the tallest slide in the world.  Imagine that?

 

3. Ice Cream and Gelato

My parents and I went to an ice cream and gelato shop in our town called PugNuts.  I had to get three flavors because I wanted to try them all.  My favorites were the coffee flavor and the seasonal pumpkin flavor.  My daughter chose cotton candy because it was blue.


I had to laugh because my mother said that all the pugs reminded her of Puppy Dog Pals on the Disney Channel.

 

4. Being able to watch my daughter improve in gymnastics class.

I am so proud of her.

5. My daughters Pre-K Class and teachers.

My daughter is in a great program and I don’t doubt that she will be ready for kindergarten next year.

They seriously need to bring back the laser option.

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What are you grateful for this week?

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A Fall Saturday in Maine

This past weekend was probably an unremarkable weekend for most.  I know here in the Northeast, many people went apple picking or visited a pumpkin patch.

I love fall activities but I know I was not going to enjoy last weekend because last Saturday would have been Bryon and my 6th wedding anniversary.

The truth is, as more anniversaries pass, the more alienated I feel.  Not just from other, happily married, living people (i.e. NORMS, a term created by fellow widow Michelle Miller) but also from myself.  As time goes back, I feel detached even from myself.  Because I am no longer a happily married, living person.

So what does a formerly happily married, living person do on their wedding anniversary, particularly when the other half of their former happy union is a dead person?

Well last year, our anniversary fell on a Friday.  So I took Kimmy Gibbler out for a steak lunch at Black and Blue Steak and Crab.  The food was amazing.

This year our anniversary was on a Saturday.  Taking Kimmy Gibbler out for steak wouldn’t have worked because our kids would be home from school.

I am kidding, of course.

The truth was, I didn’t want to be in town that day.  I didn’t feel like sitting around my house or staying in the town where every place has some memory of Bryon.

So I drove home to Maine for the weekend.

That day my father, my daughter and I went on a day trip.

Our first stop was the scenic lookout at  Caterpillar Hill in Sedgwick, Maine.


I don’t know what my hair was doing in that picture.  We were near the ocean so it was windy.

Then we crossed over the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge.

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We passed the Little Deer Isle, Maine post office.  This was the post office that my father worked at when he first became postmaster.   This also was the promotion that brought my family to Maine from the Boston area.

We drove down to Pumpkin Island Light.

It felt so good to feel the fresh air of the ocean.  The ocean has always been my happy place.  There is something about it that re-centers my soul and reminds me just how insignificant we really are.

We drove around Deer Isle but I didn’t get any pictures.

On the way home, we stopped at The Fish Net in Blue Hill to get fried clams for lunch and a chicken fingers lunch for my daughter.  I went to the takeout window while my father stayed in the car with my daughter, who was napping.

Being home and being around the ocean always makes me reflective.

Lately I have been taking a step back socially to focus on my daughter, to reflect on my life, to take care of myself and to prepare for the next chapter in my life.  I admit, it makes me a little uneasy to look towards the future and not know what to expect.  I have always been a person who liked to have a two year, five year and ten year plan.

Currently, I don’t even have a two month plan.

At times, I feel lost.

A little over two and a half years ago, I still had a husband.  We had just returned from a Caribbean cruise and we had our whole lives ahead of us.

And then that was taken away.

I may have gotten over the basic shock and I have accepted that this happened.  But now I am working on letting go and redefining myself and my dreams.

Please trust me when I say that it’s a lot harder than it sounds.

I was thinking about this as I stood at that clam shack on the Maine Coast when I looked up and saw this:

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Bryon with a “yo”.

At that moment, I realized that no matter where I go or how my dreams change, Bryon will be there with me.

I mean, seriously, if he can find a way to be with me while waiting for my lunch at a clam shack on the Maine Coast, then he will find a way to be with me anywhere.

And that was the best anniversary present I could have gotten.

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The cruel quandaries of widowhood

Alternate title: Slowly erasing my husbands presence on Earth.

Like when I had his name removed from our bank account.

I thought about the irony.  I had opened that bank account when I first moved to New York.  I was a single gal but when we got married, I added Bryon to the account.  We were a “one pot” kind of couple when it came to our finances.  We argued about money a lot less that way.  That account was our everyday account.

And now I am back to having the account to myself.  With a different last name though.

There is a good chance I will hang onto this account forever.

Because I am oddly sentimental like that.

Like the fact that I have lived in the 518 area code for almost a decade and I still have my Maine 207 number.  I have had my number since 2001.  I graduated from college that year and had a large Nokia phone that I used to play snake on.  It’s how we wasted time before Facebook.

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Those were the days.

Anyway, after I left the bank the day I removed him from our bank account, I sat in my car and cried.  Because it felt like his presence on Earth was being erased little by little.  Sure, his name is still on the checks.  The man at the bank told me it was okay to use them.  But those will run out.  It may take awhile because I pay most things electronically but it will eventually happen.

It is a cruel quandary of widowhood.

After a certain amount of time- time frame custom tailored for each widow- a widow realizes that she can’t keep living in the past.

She must move forward.

She knows she must do it.

But even thought she knows that she full-filled her wedding vows and that she deserves a chance to be happy again, it doesn’t make letting go of her deceased spouse any easier.

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Yes, you might be groaning but I was a freshman in college when Titanic was in the theaters.  It’s one of the few movies my broke self saw in the theater that year. (I already dated myself when I said I graduated from college in 2001 and played snake on a Nokia phone.)

And I am emotional right now, so we are just okay to go with it, okay?

Obviously I will never completely let go of Bryon.  I couldn’t even if I tried.  He is in my heart.  But there comes a time that you realize you can’t hold on to every item he owned.  Especially since he was a pack-rat.

Sure some items I will save for sentimental and utilitarian purposes and some will go live with friends for sentimental and utilitarian purposes.

But some items need to go because they serve no use.

Like Bryon’s clothes.

Shortly after Bryon died, I did clear out his side of the closet.  Our Master closet is small and I needed the precious real estate.  I bagged up about seven trash bags of clothes and put them in the garage where they sat for about a year before I brought them to Goodwill.

Apparently I put a bunch of his clothes in an upstairs closet and forgot about them.

So I got to relive the whole experience.

I saw the shirt he was wearing when he proposed to me.

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I cried.

Because as I held the shirt, for a brief couple of seconds, I felt like he was right there.

For a brief couple of seconds, I felt like I was still married.

And then…it was gone.

Back to reality.

And then for a brief couple of seconds, it was like the initial denial of his death came over me.

How did this happen?  How is this my life?  Why did he have to die?

I did put his button down shirts into a box to be saved to make a quilt for my daughter someday.

I do have Bryon’s hoodie sweatshirts.  Yes, they are rather large on me but I live in a cold climate.

And some days I wear them because I know it’s the closest thing I am going to get to getting a hug from him.

And I still managed to fill nine trash bags.

Granted, some of it was old suits and gala dresses of mine from my political days.

I decided that was ten years ago and if I were to be that size again, I deserve new suits and dresses.

I mean, we are constantly evolving, right?  New self, new dress.

(Though I hardly go to any events these days that require suits or gala dresses.)

I also bagged up some maternity clothes.

Widowed and 40…yeah…I am pretty sure that ship has sailed.

I saw his white suit jacket that he wore at the Young Republican National Convention Gala at the Indy Speedway in 2009.  I remember him telling me that he liked it because he was dressed up but still looked different and made a statement.

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Young Republican National Convention Gala at the Indy Speedway in 2009.

I looked at his suit jackets and thought about the times I wore them as a coat when I got cold.

Now I better remember to bring a shawl in case I get cold.

There are couple of pieces I couldn’t part with.

The first was his seer sucker.  He loved that.

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New York State Young Republicans Day at the Races- Saratoga, NY, 2010

The second item I couldn’t part with was his Albany Law School Rugby windbreaker.

The funny thing was, he rarely wore a winter coat.  He either wore his ALS Rugby windbreaker or his green fleece.  (He wore the green fleece to the hospital the last time so I donated it in the first round because I immediately associated it with the hospital).

For a man who rarely wore a winter coat, he sure had a lot of them.  Even a few I didn’t recognize.

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Continental Divide, 2010

The third item I couldn’t part with was his navy 1950’s Dad cardigan.

He almost didn’t buy it.  We were at DestinationXL and he saw it and liked it.  I told him to get it but he was concerned that people would mistake him for being a hipster.  I told him there was no way he could be mistaken for a hipster.  Then he expressed hesitation because he didn’t know what to wear with it.  So I ask the salesman on the floor and he and I have a 5 minute detailed discussion about options while Bryon looked a little dazed.

He loved the sweater.  I wish I had a better picture but the only one I could find was from Thanksgiving.

And he is wearing a dirty apron. (Though the things is permanently stained.  It’s hanging up.  I need to toss it.)

And a turkey hat (which my daughter now loves and calls “Hey-Hey Chicken”).

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Thanksgiving, 2015

And the fourth item I couldn’t part with was his Red Sox shirt.

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Tri-City Valley Cats Game, 2012

As I put the clothes on the bed in the spare room, this little guy laid on them.  I believe that animals are intelligent creatures and I think he sensed that they were his clothes.  I don’t think there would be any scent but I have no idea about a cat’s sense of smell.

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And then the final step to erasing my husbands presence on Earth…or my house at least was dropping the bags off.

I dropped them off at some drop boxes at a local church in my town.  I prefer to drop them at a local church as opposed to Goodwill because the CEO at Goodwill makes a sh*it ton of money.  I also prefer to drop off where there are bins because I am an introvert and prefer not to talk to people.

Especially when I might cry.

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I have heard that clutter is stagnant energy.  I have also heard that clutter is a form of depression.  I just know that as difficult as this task was, it had to be done.  I don’t think Bryon would want me to stay stuck in the past.

I just wish it didn’t hurt so much.