DOES IT CONTROL YOU OR MOTIVATE YOU?

Today’s post will be the first in a series about controlling what we can. I am going to offer you two personal examples of this particular decision and how it impacted parties involved. I hope you will be able to take what we talk about here and apply it to your own life. If you do, I promise you can change something that used to be an anchor in your life, something that would weigh you down and hold you back, into one of the strongest forms of motivation to propel you forward.

Our first story starts many years ago at a funeral for a family member of mine. After a formal service and before the wake there was some walking around and polite “Nice to see you.” “Sorry for you loss.” type remarks. I ran into one of my family members who was upset and distraught. They were sobbing uncontrollably and asking the rhetorical question “why them?” They went on to further state that their life would never be the same and they could never be fully happy again. This person saying all of these things was quite young and it would have been a sorry state if they allowed this to be true.

Moments later, I ran into another family member. This person was the exact same relationship to the deceased and roughly the same age. Their take on the situation was much different. “Boy this sure makes you think, doesn’t it?” the young man said. You could tell he was upset, yet looking at this from a different angle. He went on to say how sometimes it really takes a funeral to make you feel alive. After a quizzical look from me, he explained. He said it served as a great reminder how important it is to not only make sure you tell those you care for that you love them, but to live your own life in a compassionate and meaningful way. Knowing that life ends is one of the best ways to make sure you really start living.

Two people, same situation, two entirely different viewpoints. Both people were equally close to the person who passed, yet looked at their passing in entirely different ways. One could only see the loss and end that had occurred. The other saw the motivation to really start loving and living. Death, my friends, can either be a merciless jailor or the greatest motivator. When we lose someone we love, that can be hard enough. We only compound that pain when it paralyzes us. If, however, we can find some type of positive, even if it is only that we must love those we have in our life while they are here, then the pain has at least served a purpose.

Please do not misunderstand what I am saying. There is no right way to grieve. To feel loss and pain when we lose someone we love so dearly is natural. It is my sincere hope that I may offer you something that will put your pain and feeling of loss to work for you. That may not lessen the hurt you are feeling, then again it might, but it may very well keep you from being paralyzed by despair.

The second example comes from a conversation I had with a dear friend of mine. The topic of discussion was mistakes we had made in the past and how we could still kick ourselves for some of the stupid things we had done. This can be especially true when it comes to relationships. When a relationship ends we feel a host of emotions – sadness, anger, loss, maybe even relief depending on what side of the equation you are on. One common feeling after a relationship comes to an end is regret. Again, this can take many forms. You may regret that you did not speak your feelings better. You may regret the way you treated the person or the way you let them treat you. You could regret not being more romantic. You could even end up regret wasting so many of your years with such a jerk.

I know many people who continue to beat themselves up with this regret years after the other half of the relationship has moved on. “I really regret not being more loving to her.” or “I really regret staying with him when he was such a jerk.” These people stew over this. They still get upset and usually it becomes contagious, as the person they are talking to regrets being in that conversation. They relive the pain, the hurt, the anger and the frustration. This not only does not serve them, but prevents them from moving on to a new and healthy relationship.

I have many regrets in my life, as we all do. Not just in relationships, but who I was as a man. There are even times when I catch myself pondering why I did so many stupid things in my life. Why did I sacrifice my character and integrity by not living up to my own standards. What I do is use this as fuel. My relationship now is one that I am extremely proud of. I am with what I do believe is the most beautiful woman on the planet. She deserves the best version of me. When there are times I feel like shirking my responsibilities as a man or as her man, I think of the pain of regret I feel for all of the time I let myself and others down. I want to give her the best man I can be, and I use this regret for motivation. I recall times that I was unhealthy, unfriendly, careless, not compassionate and other ways I failed to live up to my own standards. There is nothing I can do about those situations. They are done and over with. The jobs have been lost, the feelings have been hurt and the years of good health are gone. What I can do is use the pain of that regret to make sure I work as hard and as good as I can. Make sure to care for other’s feelings and treat my body as the temple and expression of the divine that it is.

We all have death and regret in our lives. Pain is unavoidable. What is up to us is whether we let that pain be our jailor or our motivator. Regret and loss suck. There is no nicer way to put it. As long as they have to be a part of our life, why not put them to work for us.

TIME TO GET EVEN!

These days it would seem people are forever in the process of trying to get even with someone. Trying to get even with your parents for all the terrible things they did to you while you were growing up. Getting even with your children for all of the hell they put you through as they were growing up. Getting even with those in opposite political parties because their crookedness is different than your own. Getting even with those in a different spiritual belief system because centuries ago your ancestors did something terrible to their ancestors. Even as something as innocent as wanting to get even with the motorist in front of you who is having a hard time discovering which pedal is the gas and which is the break and you have to be at your Post Office job at 5am and it is already 4:45. I mean, I can only imagine that might happen.

Here is another angle, why not try to get even with those who helped us? How about those who treated us with kindness and compassion? This will accomplish two very important things. First, you will quickly find out it will be a full time job. How do you get even with your friend for recommending you for that job you wanted? Maybe suggest him to your attractive single friend? How about the server at the restaurant who went the extra mile to give you good service? Certainly, an increase in their gratuity would be appreciated or mentioning their great service to the manager.

The second thing you will come to notice is how many of these opportunities you have to get even. I know on some days it may seem that everyone is out to make sure your patience gets a good workout, but we may miss the opposite side of the coin. There are quite a few people who are showing us kindness, compassion and making our lives better overall. It may seem awkward and difficult at first. We do not get a lot of practice thinking of ways to ‘get even’ with those who are a positive force in our lives, much less putting it into practice. Keep practicing and it will become second nature.

There is an added bonus to all of this ‘getting even’. You will find that people will want to do more nice things for you and help you even more. When someone shows you appreciation for something what do you want to do? That’s right even more of that thing. You will also, by process of elimination, notice the negative things in your life a lot less. When you are busy finding ways to get even with someone who just held the door and let you go into the coffee shop ahead of them, you have less time to consider that person who does not understand the simple act of using a turn signal. You will begin to see random acts of kindness in all areas of your life. This will have you feeling better and wanting to get even with the world in a positive way.

HOW FAST ARE YOU?

What do you think of when I say the word fast? A slick sports car? Maybe a supersonic jet? A cheetah? If you are really into nature maybe you think of a peregrine falcon, which is actually the faster animal on land. None of these can match the fastest object that has been on earth. While we think of all these sleek and sexy images when we ponder the word fast, the truth is quite less sexy. The fastest object ever recorded on earth was a… manhole cover.

Like the description for the word, when we wish to go fast in life we think of all of the outside circumstances. A really fast engine or muscle and aerodynamics. While these certainly do help the situation, they are not the most important. What is really important is what is driving or propelling you. Let us take the story of the manhole cover. In 1957 the United States was conducting underground nuclear testing. Just to be sure they covered the site with a half-ton iron manhole cover. I am not sure if that weight was chosen with some sort of science behind it, or because it just sounded really heavy.

After said experiment, our friendly nuclear scientists went out to retrieve the manhole cover. To their surprise, they could not locate it. Where had it gone? The repeated the experiment, because large nuclear explosions underground must be terrible fun. This time they set up a high speed camera to see if the could see what happened to the cover. By studying the film, they discovered the manhole cover to be traveling at 125,000 miles per hour or 5 times the escape velocity of earth. That means at this time both covers are somewhere around pluto.

A manhole cover isn’t tricked out with anything fancy and doesn’t go fast, if anywhere, on it’s own. Put a nuclear explosion behind it and it will become the fastest object ever on earth. The same can be said for you. You may not view yourself as the fastest, the smartest, the luckiest or whatever other adjective you are pondering. If you put enough energy behind you, there is no limit to what you can accomplish. I am not recommending you stand above a nuclear explosion. No, in humans our propulsion is our why. It is this motivating factor that determines our speed, our persistence, and our drive. If you are not moving fast enough, strengthen your why. Increase the internal explosion and it will blast you towards any objective.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY ABOUT THE MANHOLE

IN SEARCH OF ADVENTURES

Never did find this

Everyone who knows even just a little about me knows that my distain for cold weather is equal to my love for sunny warm water. This fact can make living in the location that I do a bit of a challenge.

In a state that has 9 months of winter and 3 months of questionable sledding, you can find me inside a great deal between October through May. The tricky part is that I really love being out in nature. To that end, my mother seems to not let the fact that the weather is too bad for even animals to venture out or that the temperatures mean most of nature is either frozen or covered in snow stop her from venturing outside.

Even the branches were frozen!

On this particular day, there was an alternative reason for me to venture out into the frozen wasteland that is Wisconsin in the winter – a monolith. As you may have heard in the news recently, these curious objects have been popping up in the desert of Utah, Europe and other locations. One recently showed up in one of the locations that we like to hike.

Someone captured it

We began in search of this local monolith on snow covered paths. As the wind whipped its fury and the below freezing temperatures did their best to creep inside our jackets we continued on, one step at a time. What I found shocking was the amount of other souls in quest of the same discovery. It was a sort of communal feeling of adventure. “Are you looking for the monolith?” Replaced ‘hello’ and ‘good morning’. Each person offering their ideas as to where it might be.

View from the top of one of the hills

Each person shared pictures they had saved off local websites. Carefully removing gloves and exposing hands to the elements to compare the picture with the local landscape before quickly replacing the gloves and shoving their phone into their jacket. We saw a gentleman with what appeared to be professional photography equipment, a family pulling each other in sleds and a gentleman with a beard that was almost to his belly button. All looking for the monolith, none of whom found it.

If they knew where the monolith was, they were not telling.

Although we discovered many different surprises that frozen morning, we never did glimpse the monolith. Were our spirits a tad cold after walking away from our mission without success? Not really. Discovering how motivating a sense of adventure can be, realizing you can still hike several miles despite not being able to feel your feet and meeting other local explorers made the whole experience worthwhile.

This winter I encourage you to find an adventure to take with your friends. Get outside and stay active. It will help your body, it will help your mind and it will certainly serve your spirit!

CHANGING THE WORLD ONE DELIVERY AT A TIME

Are you changing the world? Most of us would give an answer to the negative if asked that question. “I am just paying bills and living.” is what I have been told. Here is the shocking truth – we are all changing the world. To me it is funny that people think of grand gestures and accomplishments when they think of changing the world. While it is true those have a great impact on society and certainly do change the world, it is not the most common way the world is changed. I am going to give you two examples of how people changed the world for many without even knowing.

Recently, one of my coworkers, Jeff, called it quits after 35 years with the Postal Service. You can see Jeff in the picture above. As you can probably guess by looking at him, he was a very congenial fellow. Almost always in good humor. Jeff made coming to work a much greater pleasure. As his last few days were drawing to a close, he began to realize something he had not noticed. Jeff had spent 23 of his 35 years with the postal service delivering mail on the same route. As he delivered, he undoubtedly shared the same good humor and pleasant demeanor that he shared with his coworkers with his customers as well. As Jeff told some of his customers that he was retiring, they formed a Facebook group dedicated to making sure he had a fitting send off. On his final day at work, several dignitaries from the postal service took time out of their busy schedules to let Jeff know how much he was appreciated. Before he left to deliver one last time, I had a brief conversation with him. He told me he never realized what an impact he had on his customers lives. “Some ladies were pregnant when I first started delivering and now their children are in college.” he informed me. He was humbled at the outpouring of appreciation from coworkers and customers. “You never know how much you impact people’s lives.” he said. Jeff certainly had a positive impact on every life he touched and his presence will be missed both on his mail route and at the office where he was such a pleasure to work with.

I certainly understood Jeff’s situation. My own journey is quite similar. For the first 13 years of my career working with the Post Office, I worked in an office in the small village of Greendale. While assisting customers at the front counter, I did my best to make it the best few minutes of their day. The way I figure it, they are stuck there shipping something and I was stuck there working, we should have the most fun we can. I have a genuine interest and love for people and valued the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful folks while working there. I never thought much of it until one day on vacation.

It a sunny tropical vacation I took with my mother, her husband and my sister. I was relaxing by the pool with some rum. What did I hear? “Look it is the guy from the Post Office!” Even in a different country I ran into someone who wanted to thank me for being nice to them at the post office. I began to realize how much people appreciate being valued and treated with respect. The crazy thing is that this continues to this day. Just last Sunday as Margie and I were packing up our equipment after a night of DJing, a man came up and asked if he could ask me a question. Although tempted to alert him to the fact he just did, I assured him I would be happy to answer it if I could. “My wife told me you were the friendly guy from the Post Office in Greendale. Is that true?” I have not worked in that office for 10 years, but here it was, someone remembering me and the service I gave them.

With that appreciation comes a great responsibility. Knowing what an impact you can have with a simple interaction causes me to treat people with great care no matter where I am. When I DJ, I always encourage people. I tell Margie that I have 3 goals when we work together. I want to either make someone feel good about themselves, make them laugh or, if it is a couple, encourage a feeling of love between them. No matter where I am, whether it is the grocery store, a coffee shop or just walking down the street, I do my best to leave every soul with a little more cheer. In that way I know I am changing the world. I have seen Jeff do it, and I know that you can do it too. When you treat people with kindness and respect you change their world and positively affect the world in general. I encourage you to think of that next time you send a text message, pick up the phone or leave the house. In those moments, and countless others, you are changing the world.

NECESSITY GRANTS OPPORTUNITY

2 great businesses come together

Very few things can get me to drive in the snowstorm that we experienced Tuesday evening. Two things that can, however, are great friends and pizza. Those two things came together in a new and unique culinary adventure I would like to share with you.

This pandemic has forced businesses, and their owners, to take new and creative steps. A great example was brought to my attention by the owner of Transaction Skate Shop here in West Allis Wisconsin where I live. Lisa, one of the owners of this fun establishment, used this challenging time to expand her creative and business ventures. One passion this young lady and I share is the passion for great pizza. As Covid-19 began to take hold about 6 months ago, Lisa began creating her own pizza at home. When I say creating her own pizza, that is exactly what I mean. She perfected making pizza dough from scratch, then worked on recipes for homemade sauce as well!

Lisa loves to share her passions

Lisa ended up falling in love with the process of making pizza from scratch. After tasting her creations, she wanted to share them with others. Knowing that it would be difficult to create pizza in her West Allis skate shop, she shared her ideas with her friends from Sweet Basil Mke, a Thai street eats restaurant in Franklin Wisconsin. Together they came up with combining Lisa’s passion for made-from-scratch pizza with their amazing Thai and Lao flavors. I live for pizza and love the flavors of Thai cuisine. The thought that they could be combined both frightened and excited me. Would the combining the two take away from how delicious each is on their own? Would putting to two together take the whole flavor experience to new heights? With these questions in mind, I could not refuse Lisa’s offer to try one for myself.

As I bravely drove through the threatening weather, my mouth began to water. I arrived at Sweet Basil Mke, where the pop up pizza kitchen was. Normally, this family-owned and operated establishment features Thai and Laotian street eats reminiscent of the markets in Thailand and Laos. They use only high-quality ingredients from reputable sources and make your dishes fresh, as soon as you order. I am looking forward to returning to try more of these dishes as well.

This evening I was going to be spending the night at my mother’s house and thought what a great place to share these new creations. The first pizza we opened up was the crab rangoon pizza. Served with a side of sweet and sour sauce, it smelled divine. I love crab rangoons as does my beautiful Margie. This made choosing this offering out of the 5 you can select, a clear winner. I would describe this crust, which I am told is kneaded by hand, no machine here, as more of a flatbread crust. The dough itself seems to have a flavor all its own that is there in every bite. This may be due to the slow 24 hour fermenting period the dough is put through. Great flavor takes time. Now it is time to discuss the toppings Chef Bee Praseutsack put together. The presentation was an added bonus. The white of the cheese and crab were complimented nicely with some green onions and what I would guess was wonton strips. My concern was spreading the topping over the crust would take away from the intense flavor you get when biting into a crab rangoon. This fear was completely unfounded. The crust, although thin, held up remarkably well. There was no worry about the topping sliding off. Somehow, despite being flat on a crispy crust, once you wrap your taste buds around this delicacy, you would swear you were enjoying that wonderful Asian appetizer! Adding the sweet and sour sauce almost brought confusion to my brain. “This is a pizza and yet it is a rangoon.” I kept muttering after each bite. Lucky for me, all around the table knew of my questionable sanity and not much was made of my mumblings as I chewed.

Next up was the Steak Garpow pizza. Let it be known that on a Thai menu I am often drawn to garpow options. The first thing that jumped out at me, as I am sure it did to you, was the fact there was an egg in the middle of the pizza. I am not sure what transpires in the mind of Chef Bee, all I know is I seem to really enjoy it. This pizza featured all of the toppings of a garpow dish including basil, which I thought brought an exceptional brightness to the dish. The steak was packed with flavor and very tender. The dough on this pizza was different than the first. Still thin and crispy, it was a little thicker on the edge. I found it a perfect match for this pizza as it allowed you to have somewhere to hold on to as the aroma prompted you to quickly insert it in your mouth for tasting. We were not disappointed in the least! As one person described it, “It is like they took a terrific steak garpow and placed it on a light and crispy delicious plate!” truer words have never been spoken.

two delicious choices

As we all look forward to closing this year out and ringing in the new year, you owe it to yourself to take your taste buds on a year-end adventure. When a West Allis skate shop owner combines her made from scratch dough and sauces with the talents and fresh ingredients of a Chef who specializes in Thai and Laotian street eats, you know the result will be amazing. Below is a link to see the other 3 options and to place your order. They are only available until this Saturday, so order yours today. After that, I encourage you to stop into Transaction Skate Shop to find ways to work off your calories, or stop in at Sweet Basil Mke to explore their wonderful menu.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE ASIAN PIZZAS AND ORDER ONE OF YOUR OWN!

GIVE THE GIFT OF EXPERIENCE

Our friends, the Dorfners

Last post I wrote about a local amazing store called oniomania that I had recently visited. While writing about that specific store and all the wonderful gifts they have, I got a great idea. One of the best gifts you can give is the gift of experience!

One of our favorite breakfast places

How do you give the gift of experience? Think of places you have just fallen in love with. In our city of West Allis, there are many local businesses that fit that description. With all of the hard times businesses are facing, why not give the gift of an experience at a local business?

Who to see if you love skateboarding

There are so many ways to celebrate with friends while supporting local businesses. Margie and I love stopping at Westallion, the local brewery, to enjoy some very festive and unique brews. We often visit there with friends and family. West Allis Cheese and Sausage is a great place to not only take friends for breakfast or lunch, but has a great little store filled with delicious gifts to feed the stomach and the soul. For our more active friends we have Transaction Skate Shop, filled with everything you could need for skating.

Great gift ideas here!

If you can’t support a local business in person during the busy holiday season, why not purchase gift cards to give to others? You will be both giving the gift of a great experience to someone you care about, but giving the gift of a great holiday to local business owners and your neighbors they employ. The possibilities are endless! We have great places to eat such as Urban Joe Cafe and Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli, plus places to work it off like Peak Physique. Giving the gift of a great meal or cup of coffee? How about the gift of health and fitness? All well helping the business owners, their employees and all of their families enjoy the holidays more? It is a win for everyone!

A HIDDEN GEM FOR ALL YOUR GIFTING NEEDS

Hidden gem

It is holiday season crunch time. You know many of your favorite stores will be a madhouse of last-minute shoppers. Even if you are strong enough and brave enough to boldly enter lands filled with untamed consumers, chances of finding exactly what you want, in the color and size you want, are slim to none. There is always online! We are fast approaching, if not past, the time when we see the dreaded ‘May not arrive by Christmas’ line. Plus, how do you look online for those impossible to buy for people in our lives? We all have at least one. You can’t very well look up a gift you can’t even think of.

some of the many wonderful gifts!

Today Margie and I discovered a magical solution that solves all of those problems and more! Only a few blocks from our house in the fabulous city of West Allis Wisconsin where we live we found the hidden treasure called Oniomania. A strange name, but translated as an uncontrollable urge to buy things. It is a small store. You can walk around it in five minutes. You will, however, be able to spend hours inside. Somehow fit into this small area of space are hundreds of the most unique and compelling gift ideas you could come across. Many are from local crafters and artists. They are one-of-a-kind gifts you will not find anywhere else. You will not only enjoy finding gifts for that impossible to buy for person on your list, you will undoubtedly go home with something fun for yourself. In doing so you will not only help support local business owner Andrea, but many of the independent business owners she supports by providing a platform to sell their amazing, made from the heart creations.

Just some of our gifts we took home

Speaking of owner Andrea, you would be hard pressed to find a more customer oriented person. From the moment we walked in the store she was filled with pleasantries and helpful knowledge. She had knowledge of, and helpful suggestions for every one of the hundreds of items in her store. We purchased items for people we didn’t even know we were shopping for. Two of the people who really lucked out were Margie and Neil. (I told you that you can’t help but take home something for yourself) For years Margie has been wanting one of these lamps composed of different pieces of colored plastic put together in some sort of mind-boggling puzzle formation. Not only did Andrea offer us a host of colors to choose from, she somehow managed to put them together and take them apart with amazing speed so we could see what it would look like before we took one home. Margie also purchased a wonderful pair of tropical themed socks to help me make it through the long, cold winter.

available now!

As a further testament to her generosity and commitment to community, Andrea has also been kind enough to offer my book, A Happy Life for Busy People, for sale at her store. Inside this fun to read book you will learn a host of different methods for reducing your stress, increasing your joy and becoming the best version of yourself. All of this can be accomplished at little to no cost to you in only 2 to 5 minutes a day. Couple that with the relaxing scented soap I purchased or one of the many relaxing locally crafted candles, and you have yourself a great start to the new year. Imagine being able to give this gift of happiness to someone you care about? What a better way to show you care than giving the gift of joy and happiness to those special people in your life? You will feel good doing it too knowing you helped support many local, hard-working people that make the city the special place it is.

Whether you live in West Allis Wisconsin or somewhere else, I am going to include the link to their Facebook page so you can discover and enjoy Oniomania for yourself. Whether you purchase from this particular store or another local establishment, you will find yourself filled with a lot more holiday spirit. You will be less stressed because you will be able to find that unique and special gift available nowhere else and you will have a warm heart knowing that you made the holidays a lot brighter for those neighbors in your own community. Shop local. You will find great gifts for those you care about, you will support your community and you will give yourself the inner joy knowing you will brighten the holidays for many people by picking up just one gift.

CLICK HERE TO DISCOVER ONIOMANIA BEFORE YOU STOP IN

MAKE A FORTUNE!

There is so much great information out there I wish I had three lifetimes to consume it all! There is information on developing wealth, discovering and pursuing your passion, how to increase the quality and quantity of your network as well as anything else you would like to pursue.

Want to be more charming? You can learn that. Want to discover how to get healthy and lose those last couple of pounds? Yep, that’s out there. Want to know how much we have learned from the ancient Egyptians? It’s out there. Want to discover why your aunt has no manners while out in public? Well…I am sure you can discover something about behavior in public.

In the not-so-distant past, like when I was a child, you had to go to the library and look up a book on the subject you wished to learn. At the very least you would have to hunt through an encyclopedia. For you younger people that is a collection of printed books that were like Wikipedia. These methods would take you hours,if not days.

Fear not! Today,as most of us know, information is a mere click away. We don’t even have to read if we don’t want to. There are services like YouTube where we can watch videos that teach us everything we need to know. Videos on avoiding bear attacks, how to build your own log cabin,or even how to politely approach your family member about those manners.

Yet, with all of this information out there, most of which can be accessed from a device in our front pocket, how come we use it mostly for discovering who sang that song we can only remember one line from? I get that, nothing can be more frustrating than singing the same one line over and over again.

With all of the information out there and knowledge to be had, I challenge you to pick something grand you would enjoy learning. Embark on a fun quest to fill your cerebral library a little more. Don’t worry, there will be no grades or even tests to take. You can learn through articles, books, audio books on the way to work or even videos in the comfort of your own home.

By increasing our knowledge base we set ourselves up to not only be a far more entertaining guest at holiday parties, but increase our chances at earning a fortune as well!

THIS WEEK, SPREAD THE ENERGY!!

We have talked many times about how you receive what you give away. This is especially true when it comes to positivity. If you treat everyone in a positive manner, if you pay them genuine compliments, show them compassion, and give them the gift of your time, they will definitely be more likely to treat you in a similar fashion.

This doesn’t sound overly complicated, does it? Then I encourage you, I beseech you, I implore you to be as kind as you can be to as many people as you can be. The kinder you are, the more people you are kind to, the greater the positive impact will be on your life.

Why wait? The sooner you start, the sooner your life will become more positive. Even if you are happy with the life you have right now, try increasing the joy you bring to others. Try this for the next 7 days. You will create connections and joy with others that will last a lifetime!

I welcome ideas on how to bring joy to others. How do you positivity affect others? How has this impacted your life?