Laundromat Love

I refuse to gripe and complain.
When I fuss about _____________ ,
that negative energy … those critical words
influence the people around me.
My own spirit is influenced as well.
IF I had been entertaining thoughts of dislike,
my speaking those words confirms those thoughts
in the part of my brain that processes language.
That conversation … that complaint-filled chat ….  gives the grade
and says, “Yes. This is crappy. This is bad. Wallow in it.”
And, oh how quickly we can travel the downward spiral to
“I deserve better. ”
” Why do things like this happen to me?”
” Why is this so hard? Why is every.thing so hard?”

Lucy's Laundromat, Augusta, GA

I refuse to go there.
Simply because I have so much. I am so blessed.

I have made it my intention
to look for the good in every situation.

For weeks and weeks our dryer made a really unusual sound
that escalated to an annoying, scary sound.
Then … it would quit being noisy and work fine.
THEN …. it would fall ill again to some malady.
When drying clothes, I checked the dryer every fifteen minutes
to make sure it was drying without overheating.
I cleaned out the venting system.
I added a fire alarm IN the laundry room …. as a precautionary measure.
The thought of being the girl who lost her home to a fire
and had to call her First Responder/Fire Chief father to break the news
made me breathe shallow and almost break out in hives.
I was careful to pay attention to this issue.

For a little while, the drum of my dryer
spent time in the middle of my kitchen
while James investigated.

My dryer drum ... in my kitchen
We finally reached a point that we had to stop using the dryer.
Though James worked on it, it couldn’t be repaired properly.

For now, I wash clothes at home
Lucy's Laundromat, Augusta, GA

and dry them at the laundromat.
And I love it. What might sound like a job to dread
is actually a wonderful blessing.

Rather than doing laundry here and there during the week
and tossing it into the dryer when I can
and then folding it when I can squeeze in the time,
my whole routine has changed.
Once a week, I wash every.thing that is dirty
and take it to the laundromat
where all my loads are tossed into dryers in a row
and they all dry at the same time.
In thirty minutes, the clothes are dry
and in another fifteen, they are sorted and folded.
*bam*  I’m finished.

That's NOT my book, by the way. I don't generally read fiction. Just a little disclaimer ...

There have been many times in life that I have done the same.
I had forgotten how nice it is to take a job that is usually very long,
and sandwich-squoosh-it into a compact, fast little task.

Lucy's Laundromat, Augusta, GA
I had forgotten what it is like to be among others, working alongside on like-minded task …
everybody busy and focused.

Lucy's Laundromat, Augusta, GA
Today, I found myself singing Christmas songs while I folded laundry.
The man folding clothes next to me commented about my being happy
and I replied, “I have a home. I have children who are my friends.
I have clothes to wash and dry. I have a car to bring me to a laundromat.
There are so many who are less fortunate than me. Why would I not sing and be happy?”
From there we discussed our children, our Christmas shopping lists
and our favorite holiday songs. It was such a pleasant conversation ….
one I would have not been privy to enjoy
had I done laundry at home.
What joy.

Lucy's Laundromat, Augusta, GA
And our laundromat of choice, Lucy’s Laundry on Washington Road, is owned by a friend.
It’s clean, open long hours and close to our house.
The business offers wi-fi and has an assistant on duty who is always friendly and helpful.

Lucy's Laundromat, Augusta, GA There is a children’s corner with toys
that is  painted with a playful design that was artistically designed and executed by another dear friend.

I am reminded of the verse in scripture that says,
Choose this day whom you will serve.  (Joshua 24:15)
I could choose the grumpy way of the privileged world  … complaining that the laundromat is an inconvenience.
Or I could choose to praise my God who has given me much,
who cares for me, does not walk out on me and provides for me in ways that refresh.

I choose to love the laundromat.
I choose gratitude.

Lucy's Laundromat, Augusta, GA

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Giving thanks for Thanksgiving

We drove long
yet stayed short.
We arrived at 6pm on Wednesday
and had to leave around 10am Friday.
Subtract our time in bed
and we were only in south Georgia for one full day.

Our evenings included pickin’ and grinnin’


with guitars and mandolin …

… smores ….

and little ones sitting in the secure lap of a daddy …. just where little girls ought to spend their time.

In my youngest years, we camped together with the family that now lives next door to my folks.
Many a night, with the surf roaring in the background, I fell asleep in humid, salty Florida air
to the crackle of a fire and the sound of guitars accompanying the lyrics of John Prine or Willie Nelson.
I remember that my sleeping bag was always gritty sandy and
only the canvas of a tent or pop-up camper kept out the dew and mosquitoes.
I am absolutely certain that my preference for songs with strong lyrics
comes, at least in-part, from those formative years of melodies filled with
word puns and riddles..
Lines like “I knew that topless lady, had something up her sleeve” 
still make me laugh.
Lines like “I hate graveyards and old pawn shops, for they always bring me tears.
I can’t forgive the way they rob me, of my childhood souvenirs”
make me reminisce and ponder my own life.

Now, my own children listen to those same deep voices sing
and those same fingers pick and strum
and it warms my heart like little else has power.


I pray that the day comes when Joy is comfortable enough to
strum along with the crowd.
At this point, she still feels inadequate …
which is a shame because she has a natural talent that astounds me.
Maturity and practice will grow her in time. I pine for that day.

Thanksgiving day included board games,

and catching up
while we sat by the lake and soaked in some south Georgia sunshine.

I refuse to consider that I might enjoy “Grandmotherhood,”
but I’ll have to admit that it brings me great joy to see a toddler in the midst of the gathering again.
The youngest son next door …. has the cutest daughter …. with blue eyes that will steal your heart …

not at all unlike her own father’s eyes.

Before the end of the afternoon,
there were boys shooting hoops

and a grandpa picking fruit
to be sent home as a gift
as we traveled back to our northern home.

It feels so unnatural
to snap a photo of tangerines on a tree
with pines in the background of the frame.

It was such a treat to have my brother and his family
and all my kids with my parents
together under one roof.

Even though we were a pretty big group for our small family
(my parents are only children and I only have one sibling),
I was grateful that Mom’s cat seemed to adjust to all the bustling
of their normally quiet and still home.

And I’m thankful that I was able to take photos throughout our trip.
I know that the camera sometimes feels intrusive … LOL

Every year feels like another gift.
We don’t know
from year to year
who will return the next.

This sunroom is now quiet again.
I’m so thankful that we were able
to travel and sup and fellowship …
with no strife … no arguing … no incessant teasing.
It was a beautiful visit
and for this

I am Thankful.

Adding to my list of One Thousand Gifts:

479. guitars and mandolins and familiar melodies
480. a ukelele that will one day join the band by the fire
481. sparks shooting from smoldering embers to toast marshmallows golden
482. crunchy graham crackers, fresh from the wax paper sleeve
483. substantial laps for little fannies and big hands to hold little ones tight
484. wide blue skies filled with stars that twinkle bright and a winsome moon
485. a dependable car with enough space to ride and sleep four
486. good tires
487. gas money
488. agreeableness
489. fresh, warm rolls on the Thanksgiving table
490. prayers before meals that remind me of those who prayed over us, for us and with us the past
491. a heritage of men who love God and model that faithfully
492. fire protection and emergency medical help from a Daddy who offers his life to save others
493. green grass, hydrangea and azaleas that are still in bloom at Thanksgiving
495. Kingfishers who are always heard and, upon occasion, seen swooping above chilly, smooth water
496. sunlight on the water and sunsets of crimson and blazing orange and bruised purple
497.  memories from a past Thanksgiving with a boat ride, exploration and a deeply missed friend
498. clear lake water in the slough with lily pads to decorate the surface
499. an antique board game and cries of “SORRY!”  … when you’re not
500. a chilly tile floor on an outdoor room where drinks are sipped and stories are shared
501. the ever-present reminder that life is short
and ends without warning.
Love those around you … now.

Day Last : Thankful for Relationships Most

It has been a year since Joy and I made the trek across our state to visit my parent’s home for Thanksgiving.
My big kids didn’t make the visit with us. It will be nice to spend this year in their presence.
Life feels rattled and unbalanced when Thanksgiving or Christmas pass
and there isn’t some sort of physical contact with those closest to us.
It’s been a year since we crawled on my dad’s pontoon boat and floated our way across Lake Seminole.
Joy is taller, more mature and at least slightly more happy, I believe.
Not every report card has been lined with A’s & B’s this year,
but it’s been quite a while since the difficulty of school, life and family relationships
have made her speak of deep sadness.
For this I am grateful.
My daddy has made it a full year with two scopes that have said, “Cancer free,”
and I am thankful. Bladder cancer gave us a scare not too many years ago.
We mustn’t take our health or this brief jaunt on earth for granted. Last year’s Thanksgiving included a visit from my brother and his family.
In these busy days of coming and going, it was such a treat to enjoy him,
spend time with his wife and visit with his children.
I’m ever grateful for those hours of visiting that come too seldom.Like my dad, my mom’s health is still vibrant. She takes a spill from time to time
but at this point, seems to be fairly unbreakable. It’s always a treat to be in her kitchen,
sit by her side and catch up on life.
I am so thankful for a sweet, gentle mama
who modeled being an excellent wife and mother.And last year’s visit to my folks house included Stone’s presence.
I miss him so …
The months were fleeting … the memories so sweet.
I miss his companionship, his love for the outdoors and movement,
his dedication as a father and daring sense of adventure.
As the almost thirty years before our reunion,
he will always remain a friend in my heart.
I am thankful that he allowed me into his life for a brief sliver of time.As Thanksgiving draws near, I reflect on the blessings of family and friendship.
In this world of busy,
on this globe filled with things … covered with stuff,
it is the relationships that matter.
“Getting more” is not important.
“Doing more” is not paramount.
“Being more” is not primary.
The “more” that is principal
is “loving more.”
It isn’t being right that fosters relationships,
it being able to admit we are wrong
and forgive others when they are
that establishes authenticity.
It isn’t being in control that builds friendships,
it is understanding that there are things we cannot control in others
and accepting them “as is”
that increases trust and intensifies bonds.
It isn’t our sameness that makes life rich,
it is the differences that create the wonderfully intricate,
fantastically special tie that binds us one-to-another.
For these relationships … these ties … these friendships
I am most grateful.
I am thankful for relationships that endure
and for the influence and memories
of those that are fleeting.
I am blessed.

May your Thanksgiving holiday be filled with the richness
of family and friends.
Push aside the “stuff” and the “doing” and love on people this holiday season.
Invest in relationships. Give without expecting return.
Be willing to be open, honest and wrong.
Forgive offenses. Embrace differences. Intentionally give up control.
And have enjoy a blessed, rich and fabulous Thanksgiving holiday.

Day 7 : Chaos

If everything was easy …
if our days worked according to plans …
and our plans were always perfect …
wouldn’t life be boring?
With no element of surprise,
no assurance of great happiness or accomplishment,
no possibility of failure, injury or tragedy,
no wonder of “what’s around the bend,”
where would we marvel?
What reason would we have for celebration?
For after great accomplishment and many outstanding victories
without struggle or failure
even triumph would soon become monotonous.

None of us is required to remember to breathe.
Our bodies are wired to breathe automatically.
One of the functions of your brain stem
is to keep your body breathing.
Our lives are not filled with struggle
associated with finding a way to remember to breathe.
And so, we don’t find our days filled with celebration
that we remembered to breathe all.day.long!

I’m thankful that my entire life doesn’t operate like
the breathing of my lungs, beating of my heart or
movement of blood through my body.
I am thankful that my life doesn’t run on “auto-pilot.”

My life – and yours – is filled with
strife, struggle and frustration,
decisions, choices and options,
joy, victory and celebration.

This photo was taken last Christmas. Seldom are photos taken when sadness, frustration or chaos are being experienced. But, here is Glory …. frustrated. As I remember, it was a typical evening when the whole family is together. James was being somehow irritatingly comical (of course, he was the intrusive one to take the photo), Joy was being loud and Glory was overwhelmed.

Between the chirping of the birds (the birds … that chirp louder and LOUDER as the noise level in the house rises), Christmas music filling the room with festivity, the distribution of multiple Christmas presents, the sweet dog underfoot, circling and fearful from the camera being out (she had a lightning/camera flash association that caused her to be troubled by the camera. I’m pretty sure she thought that the “lightning” from the camera would be accompanied by a storm … but who knows for sure!) …

….. my Mom trying to help with the reading of the Christmas present labels,
and my dad …. just being entertained …
well …
things felt chaotic.

But, I’ve learned that
we can let this overwhelm us
and try to contain and control all the “mess,”
or we can make the decision to roll with it
and just enjoy life  … no matter what it looks like.

And so, I’m thankful, yes, even for chaos.
If I can’t put a stop to it, I’m going to find a way to find the fun in it.
I’m not going to let it ruin the moment … wreck the day …. spoil the week.

In the harsh reality of the world, there is little that we can truly control.
We can look for a job, but that doesn’t mean we can find one.
We can work to save our marriages/friendships/relationships,
but we can only do OUR part … so ultimately, the “saving” is a two sided effort.
We can try to keep our homes clean/straight/repaired,
but there is always someone who is going to dirty/messy/break something.
It’s all part of life … chaos.
Rather than being frustrated by its presence,
rather than trying to control and overtake it with sheer power,
why not accept it as part of life
and overcome it with a healthy attitude?
And why not use it to propel us towards God.
Nothing happens in my life that hasn’t first filtered through His hands.
Why not hand it all to Him …. rather than me fretting about
things I cannot control,
I can just take a deep breath and enjoy the moment … whatever it looks like.
Chaos makes balance appreciated.
Chaos makes peace all the more welcome.
Chaos stirs our emotions
so that we can more fully esteem, enjoy and celebrate
when life is settled, comfortable and serene.

As unnatural as it sounds, I am thankful for chaos.

Day 6 : Thankful for Color

Scientists say that many animals, like dogs and bulls,  see the world
mostly void of color.

Try to imagine
how much LESS visually rich
life would be
if we lived in a world of millions of shades of
g.r.a.y?

 

Think of autumn without amber, olive and rust,
a rainbow without indigo and red
and a lush summer forest … without thousands of depths of green.

It feels as though … that would almost be a tragedy.

But, if it was all we had ever known …. it would not feel like a loss.

But, God DIDN’T create the world this way … void of garnet, vermillion and sunshine yellow,
rather He filled it with glorious, deep, rich color.

And for that,
I am so grateful.

I am grateful for fields of gold at the summer’s end …

for sunsets that fill the sky
with violet, plum and orange …

… for fungus intricate in patterns
that ripple in color …

 

the lush greens and browns of August …

and yes ….
for hundreds of shades of gray, as well.

I am incredibly grateful
for color
vibrant and varied,
rich and intense
and that God gave me ability to see it
in all of its beautiful glory.

Day 5 : Thankful for the Sun

Nothing wordy this morning.
I just wanted to share a few photos
of flowers drenched in late afternoon light.

I love natural  … soothing … sunshine.

God could have built our world to operate without it.
But, rather
everything in our lives depends upon it.
How glorious that we truly have a relationship with the sun.
Without it, our world would cease to exist
in the way that we know and experience it.
I am thankful … for the sun.

Day 4 : Thankful for Summer, Swimming & Sun

I wasn’t built to be a northern girl. I stiffen and get still in the winter. I love the lush, humid summers here in the south. They keep me supple and moving.

During these 10 days of Thanks,
I have shown gratitude for our country,
marveled at God’s activity in my life
and belly-laughed at myself.
I’m so ready to reminisce …
summer.

I’ve written before (here) about how much I love our neighborhood with our sidewalks and street lights, our pool and neighbors, but there should AT LEAST be an annual, public thank you for such a grand thing.

Yes, I DO carry my little amber “give thanks” glass block in my purse. And, yes, I pull it out throughout the year and take photos with it in the foreground … because there.are.so.many.things that I am thankful for … and I want to remember them.


Remember Frederick (here)? He collects words and thoughts for winter … I collect photos that remind me to “give thanks.”

I am thankful for “BIGGEST SPLASH” contests ….

and happy children who are proud of finding dimes in a game of coin toss on July 4th

and underwater tea parties.

I’m thankful for our kids “Freedom Parade”  that circles our block at least TWO wonderful times …

and for small children who are second and third generations growing up in this fantastic community.

I’m thankful for “Wet T-Shirt” contests that aren’t at all what you would expect from the name.

They’re about relay racing and moving a t-shirt from one member to the next until a winning team emerges in the race.

There is always some single item of food that makes me want seconds and thirds.
This year, THIS was it! Of course, it’s a Pampered Chef recipe!

Community is found here … from sun up to sun down …
through the night and through the years.

Before dusk, pyrotechnics begin to surface.

July 4th often includes some risky-looking fireworks

… that work their way into some pretty awesome displays before the explosions climax and all the sparkling fizzles

I am thankful for summer, swimming and sun …
and for the richness I find here …
in the physical attributes of our neighborhood
and the community of friendships, as well.

Would you join me on this last week before Thanksgiving?
Take time to reflect on your blessings,
big and small
obvious and hidden.
We all have them.

Day 3 : Thankful for Understanding, Focus & Courage

I start the day like every day. There is creamer with a dollop of coffee … x2 huge mugs. My mug is potter’s-wheel thrown and handsome … and I wonder, “WHY did I gift this to my man/child to be used – ARE YOU KIDDING ME? – as pencil holder?  I guess those were my Pre-Cambrian … I mean, Pre-Columbian days. I’m glad he moved out and  left that yard sale find. I’m thankful that I needed a pencil one afternoon and ventured into his old room to find a writing implement. I spied the mug and snatched that sweet puppy right off the shelf.  I picked the pencils I wanted and left the rest with the dregs of room contents that he has left behind. psh  …..

Okay … where was I?  (goes back to read first paragraph ….)
… day starts like every other day with coffee and
bed making, blog post, email, Facebook, vitamins, escorted by breakfast to move those horse-pill-sized vitamins into my belly. I skipped exercise … ’cause it’s fall and I’m not feeling it and so I allow myself to talk myself out of exercise (stupid. stupid. stupid) so I jump right on to a bath, getting dressed and make up application.
But, I did veer slightly from the “every day” path by taking the time to cut my hair after I got out of the tub. I was in bad need of a cut. If not now … when? Right?
Ok. Ready to tackle the day! Let’s go!

I have six months worth of activities and “irons in the fire” going on in a period of two months. When there are TOO many things to do, I tend to get distracted a bit more easily. I have realized that it’s always easier to wash the dishes than … say to …. embark into unknown territory … something I’m afraid of or feel I might not do well … especially anything creative that I am doing for some.one.else. See …. there’s this pressure to do it JUST  right. And what if … when I’m finished they don’t like it? Or it doesn’t turn out like I had envisioned? OR worse yet, it turns out JUST like I envisioned and they don’t like it! *crushed spirit falls to floor*  So, I procrastinate. Do you do this with things in your life?

My awesome friend Julie paid me such a high compliment the other week. We’ve only known each other for a few short months and I just had the chance to really get to know her at the ladies retreat in the mountains.  She’s a dreamer and a visionary. She has a heart for God and a passion for people. She has a deep desire to get people journaling to get them thinking about what’s going on between them and God. And she knows fear. At the retreat, she saw me taking a majillion photos. She added me on Facebook. She’s been reading this blog. I told her about some of the projects going on in my life. And her comment the other day was, “You get so much done! You say you’re going to do it and you just do it. It takes me forever to get a blog post written and posted and you go off on our trip to North Carolina or to Savannah for a race, take photos and immediately post the photos and tell the stories!!” And I BELLY LAUGHED to her.  “But, Julie, if I don’t do it i.m.m.e.d.i.a.t.e.l.y, I’ll FOR.GET the stories!! … They’ll evaporate… vanish … *poof* … be gone!” So, yesterday, I laughed at myself and thought about Julie …

as I dug the dirt from around the inside rim …
:: just a minute  …. my feet are cold. i need to take my sticky breakfast plate and empty coffee cup to the kitchen, run to the restroom & put on my bedroom shoes. i’ll be right back. ::
:: okay. thanks ::
*picks up where left off*  …. as I carefully ran the screwdriver around the lip of the underside of my Rainbow vacuum.
See, after I left the rear of the house (bath/dress/make-up/make up bed) yesterday, I jumped full force into a few projects that have nearby deadlines. But, like the bird-cage cover that I put off FOR.EVAH … I’m hesitant to really dive into these projects. So, I allow myself to be distracted by what is comfortable and doable with ease.
It looks like this: Dishes. “I’ll do dishes,” I tell myself.  Oh, there’s Smudge. “He’s hungry.” Feed the cat. “Oh, my. I haven’t fed the birds.” Feed and water the birds. Notice that their cage still hasn’t been cleaned. I HAVE to do that …. because “What if someone comes over … at 8:30 at night … when I’m covering the cage … and they want to see my new bird-cage cover that they read about on the blog? And I’ll want to show it to them beCAUSE I’m so EXcited! I need to clean the bird-cage.” But, the vacuum is full of dirty water (Rainbow. Remember?). So, I dump the water that was left in the bowl after Joy (reluctantly) vacuumed the day before. I decide to deep clean the inside of the water bowl, because it needs it. I bring it in and see that the vacuum attachment shelf is really dusty. No. Seriously. It’s a mess. So, I take it off, throw it into the sink and use a toothbrush to clean it. And I realize that the filter hasn’t been cleaned in a while. *reach for butter knife* I tip over the body of the machine, remove the filter with the knife and begin to clean the filter. Because … if you don’t clean the filter, the motor will burn up! I don’t want the motor to burn up. There is dirt accumulated on the lip beside the filter’s indentation. I find a screwdriver and begin to clean. Spray with 409 to loosen dirt. Realize I never have taken off that second bolt. In fact, I’ve never even noticed the second bolt there under the filter cap. Go outside to find a socket wrench. The man/child evidently took all the working, smaller socket wrenches, because there are only two left in the rolling tool cabinet. One is broken. “Thank you, James.”  The other … works … but there is no adapter in the drawer of 83 sockets to make the FAT wrench work on the SKINNY sockets. In fact, it appears that all the sockets are tiny. Well, not all of them. There are at least 15 the size of a SPARK PLUG! “Fine.”
I walk back inside the house … frustrated … then ….
I recognize this as a blessing. God has just stopped.me  from dismantling my entire vacuum cleaner
in the name of necessary cleaning and impending doom (death by heat for my motor)
so that I am busy doing something “important”
that doesn’t need to be done NEARLY as much as my pressing, deadline projects …
kind of like He loves me and throws popcorn all over the floor
(ie, makes me drop the whole bowl!) when I insist on making it but
KNOW I’m not really hungry. psh.
I head back inside to begin finishing the cleaning the filter.
And there, bent over the kitchen sink … cleaning the vacuum filter with a baby bottle brush and 409
I laugh out loud. I wished Julie could have been there. I wanted her to know that …
I don’t always get things done. Sometimes I allow myself to become distracted.
Because, you know, as I was going about the not-as-urgent things in life yesterday morning,
I realized that I was not just being flitty and distracted … I had made the choice to operate on co-pilot
and do the things that I KNEW how to do … the things that I wouldn’t be critiqued on … the “easy” stuff like
laundry, personal care, dishes and cleaning bird cages …
rather than doing the thing that really took courage: an art project.
Even though God has been working in my life for weeks … and months …
forcing me to look at my cowardice … showing me my lack of courage  ….
I’m not brave enough yet. I still let the little voices whisper to me.
Some of those voices are audible. I hear from certain friends
who say they are trying to help me,
but I don’t f.e.e.l  love in their voices. They offer correction and direction
that hurts much more than it edifies.
Their “help” sounds more like criticism … like I’m not doing “it” the way they would
so I’m not doing it “right.”
Between the fear in my heart already well-established
and the audible voices I continue to experience,
sometimes I find it hard to be courageous.

So, I know that I struggle with focus. I have recognized this propensity for quite a while. At least a year or two ago, I asked a few of my closest friends if we could be a team. We would text each other when we need prayer. I only ask them to pray when I need focus. But, I ask them probably about once a month for this gift from them. And even if they only pray for me once, knowing that they will pray or have prayed encourages me.  And when I get distracted, I pray for a return of focus AND I pray for them, also.

Yes, this scattering arises almost ALWAYS
when I am doing  jobs that are difficult for me … the ones that I don’t want to find myself a failure.
Maybe we are all built this way.  I am not sure.
But, God is showing me that my lack of focus
is DIRECTLY linked to fear.
What a gift!! *throws silver glitter in the air, twirls pink and white ribbon batons and spins with joy*
The pathetic driving force of one more conflict is unearthed.

When we can see our struggles, we can dissect them
and figure out their motivations. THEN we can get to their root
and destroy them.
That is my prayer … that I will allow God to help me
through His power and direction,
to see my struggles, figure out their make up
and dig deep into the earth of my soul
to remove them … roots and all.
Today, I am thankful for understanding,
for focus
and for courage.