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Reflection & Patterns

Understanding the Concept of ‘Fierce’

Back in 2010, I wrote a blog post about re-invention and metaphor. I used this term to describe the metamorphosis we all experience when we change our own definitions, but I focused on the power it took to make those changes. In that exploration, I realised one of the aspects of myself I wanted to ‘reinvent’ was something I’d always been criticised for: Ferocity.

As a child, it was passion. Excitement. Joy.
When a teenager, it became anger.
As a young adult, it morphed into that horror at injustices.
Once an adult, I recognise it for its pure power once again: it is energy, and I can harness that in whatever I do.

It is my motivation; it is my energy on exhausted days. It is the voice whispering that tomorrow will be better.

~

When my cat struts across the living room to flop across the windowsill: does she worry about her anger? Does she feel like giving up because she’s tired?

No. She accepts that she is fierce.
She doesn’t question her power, she just trusts it to serve her will.

~

I recognised this power within me; the ability to get through anything while still shining. I am fierce, and my role in this world is to harness and understand that ferocity and let it empower people.

What will your role be? What metaphors are you using to define your life?

What are the negative qualities, aspects, associations, attributes of the problem word?
What sort of qualities, aspects and feelings does the word I want contain?

~

“Wolves and women are relational by nature, inquiring, possessed of great endurance and strength. They are deeply intuitive, intensely concerned with their young, their mates and their pack. They are experienced in adapting to constantly changing circumstances; they are fiercely stalwart and very brave.”

– Clarissa Pinkola Estes from “Women Who Run With The Wolves”.

 

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Empowerment & Seeking

Small Steps: Building the Path through Meditation

I used to meditate every day.

At some point between moving in with my husband and earlier this year, the habit had just… faded.

Our ‘life’ is really a cumulation of the daily choices we make.

For me, meditation is a space for my mind to breathe. I don’t notice much when I practise, but I do notice the lack of clarity and patience when I don’t.

I’ve never done more than about 5-minutes a day, so I’m not asking myself for huge amounts of time or energy, and yet I had probably gone a few months without meditation before I really *noticed.*

The ahar moment; that sense of understanding one of the contributing factors at least, to my stress and feeling of constant overwhelm.

Small, Daily Steps Add Up

I’ve currently committed to myself three ‘meditation sessions’ a week, of at least 60-seconds.

That’s 3 minutes a WEEK.

It’s Key to Think Long Term.

If I expect myself to meditate 5-minutes daily, that’s 35-minutes a week. And if I miss two days in a row, what is the likelihood of me finishing that week off? Something stopped me from getting started twice – that block is likely to continue to exist.

So across a month, I might get those first 3 days in, then miss a day, but then complete another 2 days. By the end of the second week though, it’s dwindled to once a week as a desperate measure.

The result? I complete 45 minutes across the month, and feel stressed by the end, seeing it as a chore and only half paying-attention to the practise.

Alternatively…

I can commit to 3-minutes a week. After the first week, I think I’ll up one of those practises to 2-minutes. By the end of a fortnight, I’m completed 10 minutes. Sometimes, I do 2 sessions, because I’m beginning to feel the effects, and I don’t do anything else while the kettle boils anyway.

By the end of week 3, I’m feeling incredibly accomplished, and I’ve done 6 sessions of 2-minutes: just because it felt so easy to let the timer run-over slightly.

And then we end the month of tiny steps with around 45-minutes, but my daily mini-practise resets my stress levels regularly, doesn’t add to my never-ending to-do list, and I have a habit I can build up to 5-minutes, or even just leave it where it is. If I have a ‘bad week,’ I can still keep my commitment of three-minutes a week, even if I suddenly realise I need to do all 3-minutes last thing on a Sunday night.

The Take Home Message

If you want to be someone who does a certain behaviour, pick the smallest, tiny commitment, and make it.

Make it TODAY. Not tomorrow, not on August 1st: Now.

If it would help you to be accountable, leave a comment here, or pop over to the facebook group and update us each weekend with your progress!

 

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Empowerment & Seeking

Mapping Out Small, Daily Steps: Pt 1

We dream of things being different, and it’s frustrating to feel so far away from that possible future. When our daily steps don’t match our values. Anything which blocks our sense of progress towards our best self, feels stressful and overwhelming. Be that a known obstacle to a goal, or not knowing how exactly to reach a life where we are more fulfilled.

We all have changes we want to make, and there are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to set ‘smart’ goals, choose focus ‘words’, organise our time or work on visualisation to walk the path towards that potential.

Before we start thinking about changes, let’s spend a few moments thinking about how we define our situation.

What Changes To Make?

So often, when asked about goal-setting or making changes to how we feel, think, or behave, we focus on an end-result, an accomplishment of some description. We think about ‘reaching the end,’ and often this image has a sense of being effortless.

However, thinking about how we define our current state, we’re likely thinking about the last few days or weeks. What we did each day, how much energy we lacked, or how many things we didn’t get done.

We judge our present based on the day-to-day experience. What steps did you take today, towards that final goal?

What we want isn’t always some ‘outcome’ but actually for our days in the future to just feel lighter; for the experience of living to be that bit better.

So in reality, to make changes to that daily feeling, we need to look at our day’s current structure.

A Daily Steps Check-list

  1. Did anything today give you a sense of progress towards your best self? List any actions or events which brought you to life, got your passions going or at least brought about relief at being accomplished. Even those tiny daily steps count.
  2. What zapped your energy today? Think about the activities you did or the thoughts you focused on which left you feeling drained, panicked or overwhelmed. List them out separately, and if there are any you can remove: do so! You may need to think about if you could do them less often, or if you could swap these tasks with another person. We’ll come back to this list later.
  3. Focus on values. What sense would you like in future days? Would you choose a sense of motivation, perhaps more energy to complete tasks or just feeling free to breathe in between various tasks? Think about the values of the activities you listed for question 1, and see if any themes come up.
  4. Think about pace. Although some things may be out of our control, when trying to fit everything in, we can sometimes make decisions that squeeze us for time, or that we know aren’t going to serve us well one those days. Think about the pace of each day when making plans, especially if you’re able to ‘tone down’ some activities. For example, coffee with a friend may take too much time with travel, but when you decline, offer a 30-minute phone call to catch up as an alternative plan.
  5. Shape your future days. How would the day look, if you had more energy, more freedom or were making regular progress? Schedule an ‘ideal’ day like a diary, and notice if any of those aspects could sneak their way into your current days. For example, if an ideal day begins with 15 minutes of meditation, can you put a 1-minute mindfulness practice into place tomorrow morning?

In order to change our future, we need to look at how we live each day.

In part two, we’ll focus on incorporating small, achievable routines to bring about grand change.

*~*

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New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Creative Tools

Reaching Your Creative Potential

Being a creative soul can hold specific challenges. The skills used to keep creativity going mean we tend to analyse things, and notice patterns differently. Although this gives us part of our power, in creative endeavours, it can also mean that we get blocked in quite specific ways.

Whether you write stories, paint landscapes, write musical scores or choreograph dance moves; we all get blocked.

Commonly referred to as ‘writer’s block’, I know that all creative folk can experience that mental block which stifles our creativity. Some people find it helpful to push though – writing despite the lack of inspiration, while others feel that taking a bit of space from the project can let our mind settle down, and encourage the shy muse to appear.

1. Mindfulness

Whatever is blocking you, a few minutes of mindfulness can really help create some space for that mental block.

It can be as simple as closing your eyes taking a low, deep breath and connecting with your body. Feel the floor beneath you, and notice the sounds, temperature or smells around you. Just connect to this moment, for 10 seconds. If you can take a bit longer, do so.

Reconnecting with the moment gives our mind a chance to reconnect with ourselves.

I have a little bell sound on my phone which goes ding twice a day to remind me just to pause, and check in with myself. This really helps bring my mental energy back into focus.

Could you create a minute of mindfulness each day?

2. Check Your Story

Our own self-talk is a crucial part of how we perceive ourselves. How do you think about your creative journey? What obstacles have you overcome to reach where you are now? Sometimes it can be helpful to just ask yourself if your thoughts, if that self-talk is helpful right now.

Are you worrying about being good enough, or feeling like your work isn’t good enough?

Do you have those voices in your head saying you’ll never reach success, or wondering how you’re going to get out of your current rut?

Not every thought is a fact, and our thoughts CAN be controlled, to some extent.

It’s a great idea to just check in with the things we tell ourselves, particularly as, being creative thinkers, we often come up with elaborate possibilities which likely don’t have any evidence behind them: including negative thoughts about ourselves and our creations.

What story are you telling yourself? Is it entirely true, or could you re-frame it a little?

3. Permission to Stop

I’m currently committed to writing at least one word of new fiction a day, but sometimes allowing yourself a break from a project is the best action to ‘reset’ your creativity. To some extent, finding what works for you is key, but even between different projects, times of year or just your own mental state, different things will work for you.

The next time you feel blocked, take a day off and see how you feel about the project after a bit of a break. Let yourself brainstorm or put the project away for a few days and don’t let yourself think about it.

How much ‘downtime’ do you allow yourself from your creations, to let them percolate? 

*~*

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Empowerment & Seeking

Perception: On Re-Framing Your Experiences

On Friday afternoon, following a particularly stressful day working for a mental health project, I found myself burning out. I wasn’t angry, nor particularly sad, but I felt under pressure and desperate to get home: emotionally exhausted.

About 3 minutes from home, at a roundabout where people often go despite the traffic coming their way, a car pulled out in front of me. I had to break suddenly, my fight-or-flight system throwing adrenaline around my body so I could react quickly.

I felt shocked and instantly angry. My heart raced, my hands tensed around the wheel. My thoughts flooded in: “How selfish, they could have killed us both! Why can’t people LOOK when they drive? Some people shouldn’t have driving licenses.”

My usual response would be to lift up my hand in a “what was that?” questioning motion. I’m not someone who uses the ‘traditional’ symbols: I just open my palm to the sky in my exasperation. Then I rein in those thoughts and pull back from the offending car: “I better be careful, this driver is likely to do something else dangerous.”

But this time, as the driver pulled off at my junction, they put their hand up to the rear-view mirror (the universal thanks/sorry movement), and I saw the green P-plate.

Re-framing, or the Paradigm Shift

Instantly, my anger dissipated. I didn’t have to reign those thoughts in; they just weren’t there anymore.

I put my own hand up to the my mirror, hoping they’d see it as “no problem” and left a big gap because I remember feeling that everyone was so close while I was learning to drive. In fact, I kept the P-plate on my car for well over the recommended two years. 

In terms of Friday’s event, nothing actually changed: I nearly had a car crash. I was scared for my safety. I got angry. The driver having a P-plate didn’t miraculously mean I was safer.

So why did those thoughts and feelings dissipate; if nothing physically changed? I’d re-framed the experience.

When I was growing up, I read a book entitled “NLP for Dummies.” I didn’t remember a lot about NLP as I grew older, except one example about re-framing experience (which a google search cites as being from Stephen Covey):

Some children are disturbing a train carriage of people.
The father appears to be ignoring them.

The author asks the man if he could control his children.
He expresses the frustration/exasperation/anger of people being disturbed, interpreting this man to be insensitive and irresponsible.

But the moment the father shared that the children’s mother had died an hour before:
the entire emotional experience shifted from anger to compassion.

Again, nothing physically changed. The children continued to be loud and disruptive.

The thoughts changed. The characters focused on re-framing the event. The interpretation, the labels of how that father should behave, changed.

I don’t normally experience road rage. I have conditioned myself to ask “what if?” or “why would I do that?”

Someone cut me up in traffic, or drives through a red light?

Yes, those first thoughts come up: How dangerous, are they insane; they’re putting everyone at risk.

And then I step back: re-framing the experience. “What could be happening, to make that okay in their eyes?”

Perhaps their mother is dying and they’re rushing to hospital to get those last 5 minutes to say goodbye.

The likelihood of that being true for EVERY bad driving event is pretty much nil. But, the only person actually hurting from my road rage, is me. And if I choose to believe that every ‘bad driver’ has a decent reason, I don’t sit there seething, keeping those uncomfortable, fearful thoughts going. I send out a wave of compassion, and get on with my day.

We can change how we think about events.

It’s not easy, and it takes a lot of time. But it’s possible.

For me, the gains are worth the effort.

 

P.S. If you want some support to help change those thoughts and break those negative cycles, find out more about my coaching sessions here.

 

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Reflection & Patterns

Choices: Fresh Starts and Staying ‘On Track’

There is a culture of wanting ‘fresh starts’, usually focusing on making new choices.

Most of us have experienced ourselves, or someone we know saying “oh, well I’ll start again tomorrow / next week / in the New Year” when that person has made a choice that does not fit in line with their overall goal.

People have a few ways of describing behaviour, but today I want to think about ‘falling off the wagon.’

Firstly, we have control over our actions. Of course we have desires and fears, but in any one moment, most of us have at least some level of choice and control over what we are doing.

Part of that decision might be about facing the fact we’re no longer a five-year-old, and that actually we know better than doing this. We can control our impulses and desires, and actually, writing that book for five minutes a day will lead to a finished book in a year or two. Walking half a mile a day will support a level of fitness that allows you to run for a bus in 6 months time.

Sometimes, the longer-term gains are just worth that 5 minute decision today. 

Equally, we don’t need to pick a specific time to get back on track — if I’ve just had a chocolate bar before lunch, I can immediately go grab a glass of water and a salad to counter some of that, and to fill me up before I let the hunger control my next eating choice. You can get back on track immediately, and in a week’s time, that chocolate bar won’t even matter.

Every single choice can move us towards our goals, or away from them.

My personal choice is to “not make two ‘bad’ choices in a row.” If I just skipped a workout, I’ll go grab an apple instead of crisps. If I didn’t write in my lunch hour, I’ll go home and write for an extra ten minutes instead of watching television. If I had a salad, I can relax about taking a sweet from a colleague for their birthday.

And finally for today, to quote a friend “just because you’re not on the wagon doesn’t mean you can’t still walk the road.”

It may be that life is full-on right now and you feel your potential self is decades away. You can’t flutter from productive writing hour to salad to social evening with friends… You may not be in that flow of progress, but thinking about the maths, each positive choice adds up, faster than a negative one.

For those interested, look up “the power of tiny gains” online.

Simplified, the main number thrown around is that across a year, where staying the same is equal to 1.0:

  • getting ‘worse’ by 1% a day leads to a total of 0.03 (0.99 then 0.9801 on day 2, 0.970299 on day 3…)
  • getting ‘better’ by 1% a day leads to a total of 37.78 (1.01 then 1.0201 n day 2…)

Each tiny choice will add up. You can make a difference.

Remaining the same on your goal keeps you at 1: stuck.

Those negative choices, moving you backwards from your goals, do add up, but they can be countered with each forward move.

Any “increase” will lead to a total above 1 in a year’s time.

Life happening does not change the fact your deserve to be happy, healthy or your inherent value. You’re an adult: don’t let your inner 5-year-old or the belief that your positive choices don’t matter hold you back.

*~*

P.S. If you would like some support to stay on track; really looking at the small changes you can make to add up across time, find out more about my coaching sessions here.

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Empowerment & Seeking

Goal-Setting for Success

You’ve tried to make a change, but it’s hard to reach your goal and make it stick.

Habits are difficult to control, and those New Year’s Resolutions never last…

You are not alone.

Humans are habitual creatures, and making a change can feel like a lot of work. But there are some strategies you can use to maximise your chance of making the change, and really feel accomplished as you progress towards your goal.

This checklist of questions will allow you to really plan what you want to be different, understand what motivates you to fight your old habits and create the map to follow towards your potential.

 

What do I want? Where am I currently, and where do I want to be at the end?

By when? Do I have a deadline to aim for – and is this realistic? If it’s not, pick a smaller goal – maybe a smaller step to this bigger goal.

Why is this important to me? It’s important to know why you want to make the change – not because you’ve been told to or ‘know you should’ – what will you actually gain from changing?

How will I know I’ve managed it? What would I be doing or thinking differently if this goal was achieved?

Where am I now from 0 to 10; if 10 is at that goal?

 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910

Not started                                        At Goal

What would it look like if I moved 1 point up that scale, in my life? How would I feel?

What action(s) would move me up to that number? What is the smallest step towards this?

Are there any other habits I can link this in with? It’s easier to amend or replace a current habit than stop/start one thing entirely.

What will I be doing daily or weekly towards this goal? Will I make lots of small changes across a day or change the way I do one key thing?

How long will that take per day/week? Do I have that time? How can I schedule it in now, make room for this new action?

Where will I struggle with it? What hasn’t worked in the past? Can I problem-solve those issues now? What is it that makes that a struggle? What do I need?

Can I reach that need without breaking my goal? How so?

Who can I enlist to support me in this? What will keep me accountable?

How will I react if I slip up? Will I start again the next day, re-visit these questions or just pick myself up and keep moving forward?

How will I monitor it? How often? Do I need a daily log, or is a weekly check-in enough?

How can I ensure that I get all the support I need from myself and from others?

What is my main motivating factor to succeed? What’s the deep reason for making this change: how will it benefit me?

A Strong ‘Why’ is the Cornerstone of Motivation.

Put that last motivating factor everywhere in your environment for the best results, a picture of the person you can’t let down, a quote about keeping your word or just a phrase about how it will make you feel are powerful cues.

In the end, making a change is hard work, and can take weeks for some people or months for others. But with these questions answered, you’re already half-way there.

*~*

Want these questions as a handy worksheet? Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From a goal-setting worksheet and 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Reflection & Patterns

Motivation for Change :: Asking Yourself Why

As a general rule, humans like things they are comfortable with. We like certainty, which is a common reason we experience worries: the unknown can be scary! Even if we know what is going to change, or have a change we wish to make, there is a massive mental block between wanting things to improve, and actually making that leap into the unknown of changing it. Motivation depends on energy, on how we perceive things improving an on what we might lose in changing.

Perhaps the very idea of a new experience excites you. Things seem better in this future – we know we can make the change, and that it will be worth it.

And yet, we hesitate.

Understanding Motivation

The first thing to bear in mind is that it’s normal and common to feel apprehensive about changes. Secondly, that realistic goals, where we can measure our progress and see the changes having a positive effect are massive for maintaining motivation.

We need to see progress – we want to know things are moving the right way, that this change is actually worth the time and effort.

But results can take time. We compare ourselves to others or past-us, or even to unrealistic versions of future-us. We feel discouraged, feel this is a waste and often, we fall back into those habits of familiarity. It’s easy – we don’t have to think and question and remember things – it’s just our natural rhythm.

And things remain; stagnant and unfulfilled; or whatever it was you wanted to be different.

Change isn’t easy, which means we need a really strong motivation, a key reason to remind you why you’re making changes.

The Why: Exploring the Deep

“Those who have a ‘why’ can bear with almost any ‘how.”
– Victor Frankl, quoted from A Man’s Search for Meaning.

We all experience that sensation of wanting to just… give in or do it later. To take an extra chance to rest or maybe even quit something. But when we re-connect with the ‘why’ of that task – finding the deep motivator can really help keep us on track.

Most people come up with some reason to begin a change – to be happier, to not feel this lethargic anymore, to avoid something bad happening (again), or because we’ve been told we should.

But those abstract concepts can be difficult to connect with. In that moment of routine habit or new choice, your Why needs to be powerful enough to guide you towards the positive choice.

The key to a strong motivator is depth.

Surface Level: “I know I should eat healthily.”

Well, so do we all. But we still remain stuck: comparing ourselves to other, unhealthier people who are fine. We feel we have time to change that later. We’re great at telling ourselves we deserve that cake. That fact alone is not strong enough for most people.

Shallow Waters: “I don’t have time to play with my kids, and I miss being with them. They deserve my time and energy.”

That’s a little deeper; you’ve made a personal connection and used another person as a reminder of why you want to make the change. But really, what is it that means you want this? What, deep down for you, is that reason coming from? Think about the beliefs that shape your world, the motivators for other changes you’ve made. What do you cling to when everything else isn’t strong enough?

The Deep: “Every day I wake up depressed, exhausted and I no longer love my life. I feel like a zombie, following the same old motions. I want that joy I used to have back, to make my mark on the world, to be a good parent, to see my children grow up and to support everyone around me. This is my calling, I just need to reach it.”

Much deeper. Specific to the person, with examples to remind them of what they don’t like now and what they will like in the future. We can see the journey this person wants to take; their current location of stuck and the destination they want to reach.

Do you have a dream that isn’t being realised?
Do you know where you want to go, or feel stuck where you are? Have a think about your Why.
What would you change if you have the power to?

*~*

P.S. If you would like some support to look at your Why, or if you feel motivated and would like some guidance to making those changes, sign up for a introduction session, where we can discuss motivation and realistic goals.

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Reflection & Patterns

The Power of Stories we Tell Ourselves

“Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

I disagree. Words are powerful.

Stories define us. Signed, verbal or unspoken – words can create and destroy. They have started wars, expressed love, changed beliefs and ended injustices.  Our language is powerful, yet often used carelessly.

Humans, in cultural history, seek understanding of the world around us and wish to share that knowledge with one another through stories.

These tales connect us to the world, and to each other: we’ve all been entranced by a poem, or the lilt of an unknown tongue? Told by body language or verbal – story is our natural state of sharing, and exploring our experiences.

The Falsehood of Facts 

We use language and tales to understand events and experiences. However, the way we think of, feel about or share a particular experience is filtered by our previous experiences. Our perception; the lens through which the world makes sense to us, is unique.

What happened is never 100% the same as the story we tell ourselves about it. And this belief in our own memories, trust in our self-talk or in that perception is often the cause of our struggles.

We experience so much pain because of the trust attached to our stories. But we only remember what our perception filtered into our mind, and another person’s view will often differ from our own.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy encourages us to question the stories we tell ourselves; just to think about the big picture.

“He always does this.”
Always? Every, single time? If not, that story isn’t 100% true.

“I should have prepared for this.”
Is it 100% your responsibility? Can you read minds? Why should you?

“She did it to hurt me.”
Where is your evidence for this? How can you know her aim? Could there be another explanation?

*~*

P.S. If you would like some support to look at your stories, or want to change the path you’re currently taking, sign up for an introduction session and we can discuss techniques to break down those stories and manage new thoughts more effectively: before they hurt too deeply. Find out more about my coaching sessions here.

 

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!