When there’s a Will….

In life, almost everything is possible. I mentioned ALMOST, referring to things which are within our control. Like the infamous adage observes, “When there is a will, there’s a way“.

Perhaps, it could be due to our upbringing or early conditioning, when we are faced with any new challenge or obstacle or given a new task, the first reaction is often “I Can’t“. We can’t do this, we can’t do that! We don’t pause to think of “What If”, “Instead Of”, “Why Not”, “How About“, etc. There are always options around us but we refuse to seek them out. It is much easier to strike it off and give it up. Then, move on to look for an easier task to tackle.

People around us can give loads of great advice but if we don’t open up our mind and take the first step to act on it, we are as good as an old log lying along the roadside, waiting to rot, day by day. Nothing is gained at all.

My observation comes from watching a person who is whole, meaning with good limbs and body, may be due to fear or other, does not have the will to use them again. All she does is lying down on the bed. Waiting for someone to carry or lift her out of the bed to ease herself, be bathed or to be transferred to the wheelchair to be fed.

I was told that this wonderful individual used to be a “fighter” – who didn’t give up when faced with difficulties, who didn’t complain a single word about life and who cared so much for her family, in fact, more than herself.

It saddens me to watch the scene; where people around her continuously advising her to use her hands and legs, to do little movements to strengthen her “sleeping” muscles but, the advice was met with deadly silence. Is she giving up on her ability to walk again? Has her family also given up as easily and let her be?

That leads me to think, when a child refuses to do something, perhaps due to fear of trying, what would a mother do? Upon seeing his hesitation and sensing his fear, the mother would hold the child’s hand and assure him that mommy is next to him to walk with him and not to be afraid, right?

Now, I wonder….if people around the lovely lady were to take her hand to lead her one step at a time, do you think she would have renewed determination to become stronger for herself and her family? Spending about 15 to 20 minutes a day to massage and do muscle strengthening exercise, e.g. gripping, stretching, pinching, pulling, etc to begin with? From hands to legs then to body. I wonder if it works?

Every night, I offer a silent prayer for this wonderful person to wake up and realize soon, that her life now is not the end yet. She still have many years to enjoy with her family. She can choose to be strong and happy, instead of being sad and helpless.

I think, she is at the weakest point, not only physically but her will to act and think positively. Spending almost the whole day lying down for a long time would make one to be lazy and lose faith in oneself and in life.

Just like a car which cannot start due to weak battery; it needs to jump-start for it to be up and running again. I wonder if someone could and would “jump-start” this individual to lead her to have the will to do something to her change her current situation. I believe if people around her were to combine forces to do that, she may build up her confidence. She may be willing to live more meaningfully. I feel that it is still not too late to inject renewed energy into her, if anyone is willing to.

When she has the will to walk again, I dare trust that she will find the strength within herself to make it work. I shall continue to pray for her hoping that she’ll wake up one fine day to say, “I want to live my live properly and with a purpose!”

Whatever challenges we may face everyday in our lives, break away from the old conditioning of “I Can’t”. When you have the Will, you will find the Way. Sooner or later, success will be yours to enjoy. All of us have great inner strength. Seek it out to jump-start our weakness so that we can move forward to achieving our life goals. Just don’t, ever give up too soon.

~Alice N.

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SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDIL FITRI

A celebration for the Muslims worldwide; it marks the end of Ramadhan, the Islamic holy month of fasting! The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the thirty days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadhan. The first day of Aidil Fitri therefore, falls on the first day of the month Syawal.

Here I would like to wish all my Muslim readers and friends, SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDIL FITRI! For those who will be travelling far or near, please drive safely. Have enough rest before the journey and do take it easy. Have “pit-stops” to rest in between. Enjoy the entire drive “balik kampung”. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that you can feel the festive mood the entire journey! Smile or wave ‘hello’ to fellow drivers on the road – no one would call you “crazy”, don’t worry.

I don’t have the chance to experience it but I can only imagine from what i heard from friends and movies I watched before. I’m very certain that parents would be especially happy to see their children, grandchildren and perhaps, great-grandchildren too, all under one roof. This is the time when you see the women crowding around the kitchen preparing sumptuous meals for all. I remember being told that families would be busy making ketupat and cooking them a day before the RAYA. I’m not sure if this scenario represents everyone celebrating the RAYA, but this is what I learnt from my friends in the kampung those days.

During RAYA, what I usually enjoy most is visiting my Muslim friends and helping myself to home-cooked Ketupat, Rendang, Dodol, kuih-muih, cookies, etc. I also enjoy listening to Raya songs, especially the late Sudirman’s all-time fave, “Balik Kampung“.

On this special day, may I humbly extend my hands to ask for forgiveness, if I have directly or indirectly, offended anyone in any of my posts. Please know that it is unintentional. I write from personal experience and they are also records of my thoughts, with only one intention i.e. to share with you what I know and what I have experienced.

Finally, Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri and Happy Holiday to all. Drive safely and enjoy the company of loved ones and friends. Take care.

~Alice N.

What is Independence?

What does the word INDEPENDENCE mean to you? As defined in Dictionary.com, it means :
1. The state or quality of being independent
2. Freedom from control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others,
3. A competency

Malaysia will be celebrating 54th year of Independence come August 31st. ” Hari Merdeka (Independence Day) is a national day of Malaysia commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaya from British colonial rule in 1957, celebrated on August 31 each year. In a wider context, it is to celebrate the formation of Malaysia” ~ Wikipedia. SELAMAT HARI MERDEKA, MALAYSIA! (Happy Independence Day, Malaysia!)

Having paid respect for my home country on its “Hari Merdeka” let’s move on to a more personal note. Again, what is INDEPENDENCE to you? Can it be fully achievable? Can anyone claim that he/she is 100% independent? To be totally free from control, influence, support, aid of others?

In my personal opinion, based on personal life experience, 100% independence is not achievable, unless you live your life as an island on its own. But, No man is an island.

When I turned 21 years old, my parents presented me with THE golden-key pendant, a sign of achieving independence in life! It signifies that I could unlock my ‘childhood door’ to enter adulthood, with their blessings. That was the first time I “tasted” independence, with great anticipation. Independence comes with Huge Responsibilities. Excited but pretty scary, because you don’t know what lies ahead.

In my mind, I was thinking, “Now that I’m an adult, I shall be responsible for all my actions as I’m supposed to be wiser now. Being an adult also means I am responsible for my own financials. I have to earn in order to spend. It also means that I cannot crawl under the cover and wish upon wishes for problems to disappear into thin air or hopefully my parents would solve them for me. I have to face every one of them, head on. When people said that Independence comes with a price, it’s true! I can endorse that.

While we alone have to bear all responsibilities for our actions, we must not forget that any decision we make, will inevitably have direct or indirect effect on people whom we have contact with, like our family members, friends, colleagues, classmates (for those who are still pursuing their higher education), clients, service providers, strangers, etc. That brings me to talk about being inter-dependent.

It is true that no one can control you, your decision or action. However, someone may directly or indirectly have influence over your decision and/or action. What do you usually do when you come upon a difficult situation? Do you find yourself thinking about how your decision/action would affect you and people who matters? Do you try to figure out the end results, so on and so forth?

As we live our lives, there will be days when we need some support or aid from others, whether emotionally, physically or financially. No matter how competent you are, you can never be a master of all. You’ll still have to depend on someone else to provide the expertise which you don’t possess. God is fair in creating humans. I don’t think He intends to create a master of the universe and make the rests suffer as slaves.

Yes, we can be independent, but only to a certain degree. You know, we all live in an inter-dependent world. Our action will cause ripple of effects to people or things around us. When we understand that, I trust, we shall have a more peaceful and happier lives. We would also be more mindful in most of our actions.

Ponder for a while about your own state of independence….

~ Alice N.

BFF vs WFF

In the Sunday class yesterday, my fellow teacher talked about Friends and Friendship. Everyone has friends and most, if not all have BFF (Best Friend Forever, a term made popular by Paris Hilton, I think).

What makes a friend a BFF? He/she must be one who likes you for who you are, respects you and your differences, not afraid to voice out when you are not right, loyal to you even in your absence, a good counsel to you, be there when you need someone to lean on, sympathises with you, is a ‘helpmate’, etc.

As opposed to BFF, there is the WFFWorst Friend Forever. Who are these people? These are the ones who used to be your friends or once upon a time, your BFFs. They know enough about you but have either betrayed your friendship or hurt you deeply, which resulted in them being your WFF now.

Who are WFFs? They are :
#1 The ‘leach/robber’ – who appropriate a friend’s possessions and give less but ask much,
#2 The sweet-talker – who talks how good he/she was in the past and future, tries to gain your favor using empty promises,
#3 The flatterer – praises when you do evil, disapproves when you do good, speaks well in your presence but bad in your absence,
#4 The ruin-bringer – indulges in intoxicants (alcohol and drugs) and worthless activities (gambling, “lepak”) hanging out till wee hours of the morning (clubbing constantly).

When you are judging your friends whether they are BFF or WFF materials, look at yourself too. Are you a BFF or WFF to your friends? We cannot be a TAKER all the time. We must balance it by being a GIVER to our friends too. Then, you’ll enjoy having a harmonious friendship with your friends. No one likes to be taken for granted, which we unintentionally do sometimes. It is alright if you realize it soon enough and make it up to your friends.

Friendship is such a beautiful relationship amongst friends. Let’s not be ‘fine-weathered’ friends only. Let us be ‘all-weathered’ friends to our buddies. Meaning, we’ll be there for them through good and bad times. We need a friend most when we are down, to share our sorrow or disappointment. Who will be objective to help us see the truth and think with us for a solution. Someone who understands our sorrow and sympathizes with us. During good times, we enjoy sharing the joy with such good friends too.

If you have such BFFs, treasure that friendship and grow with it. Take care if it, nourish it with love and attention. Life is little bit more difficult without friends, especially quality and genuine ones.

Cheers to Good Friendship and BFFs!

~Alice N.

Life is Tough

Life is tough indeed! That is the hard truth! You have to be honest to yourself to truly see this truth. Once you accept and understand that Life is Tough, you’ll be surprised to know that it is not so tough after all!

How come, say you? You see, when you accept and understand that life is no bed of roses, your expectation of life changed. You stop living it like it is a fairyland and start to have more realistic expectation.

Life is like cycling, I would say. When you keep cycling, the effort to keep you moving is light and easy. But, once you brake to a stop, you’ll find that more effort is needed to move from that idle position. To keep from falling we must keep cycling. Much like life, don’t you think? Once we stop working on something, be it work, studies, relationship, a skill, making a fortune, anything, we’d fall or down a few notches. To pick ourselves up again, we have no choice but to start afresh or midway, but it will be an uphill journey. Time is lost and some effort too.

We must also accept that we can never please everyone, no matter how hard we try. Decide to do what is RIGHT instead. Since you cannot please everyone, you are bound to displease someone along the way. It is inevitable. Not everyone can see eye to eye with you. There is always someone out there who would go against your decision or action, even when you think it’s the best decision! Before you ignore them totally, if you can, find out the reasons behind their strong objections. It may be utter nonsense but it may also provide an insight to the situation which you might have overlooked? If it is the former, ignore them; if it is the latter, no harm taking note of it.

Temptations and having to make difficult decisions – Temptations are all around us. If you accept the fact that life is like that, you will face temptations mindfully and when it comes to making difficult decisions, you will find ways and means to deal with them. Having to make decision is tough because no one likes to make the wrong one. However, no one knows for sure which is the RIGHT decision. The only way to find out is after the decision is made and you see the end result. If after due consideration and you still make a mistake, be brave enough to admit the mistake. Make amend to make it right again as soon as possible.

Finally, being able to accept and understand that life is tough will give you a different perspective on how to deal with the ups and downs of your life. Let’s just say, it makes life simpler for you to live in when you have the right expectation.

Cheers for a great Sunny Sunday!

~ Alice N.

Fear, Therefore Lie…

Let’s make a wild guess…many people lie, not because they enjoy doing that, but because they are afraid of the receiver’s reaction. I strongly believe that human beings were born with conscience. They were born with analytical mind. Deep down everyone knows what is right and wrong, well, most of the time. Either you know it immediately or learn from mistakes committed.

Now, that makes us wonder, isn’t it, why people want to lie to another? Between children and parents, between spouses, amongst friends, siblings, colleagues, strangers, etc. We all know that the truth will one day, somehow or rather, surface! Not only will the liar feels embarrassed and sorry; Regrettably, it makes one feels more difficult to trust that person again.

What I heard mostly and from personal experience are little lies which children tell to their parents. It is usually school-related, about homework and exams results. Every parent whom I came into contact with would share that his/her child lied and hid incomplete homework, lied to teachers, about report card, money, books, etc.

What I found out from the young ones is that, they lied because of fear. Fear of being scolded or punished and the possibility of causing disappointment or sadness to their parents. In their little innocent mind, when they realize the “oops! effect”, to them, the only way to cover it up is via a little lie so that mummy and daddy will continue to enjoy a happy day and loving them. They’ll face the consequences when they cross the bridge. Meanwhile, they’ll carry that burden on their small shoulders.

I continue to give assurance to my children that if they tell the truth, we parents, will not get angry. We may get a bit disappointed with their actions, but we also want to hear them out, and giving them second chances to make it good again. We want them to know that we love them and would appreciate their honesty. There is always a solution to everything.

Children often feel relieved to know that they can tell the truth and still get parents’ support as they learn from their mistakes. Mistake done….what we want to do, moving forward, is to let them to learn from it. By doing so, we are making them understand that Honesty is the Best Policy! They are also learning that making mistakes is common but most importantly, not to repeat them in the future. Of course, after all, they still have to face the consequences as a result of their lies. By being there for them helps them recover better from that situation, without crushing their self-esteem.

I never fail to let them know that when they lie, not only will they be hurting the ones they love but themselves too. Simply because, by lying, they will be consumed by guilt, they cannot sleep well and be happy, and always live in fear that the truth will finally come out in the open. Then, they have to suffer from the embarrassment of being caught lying.

A far as I know, children love their parents very much and deeply. They will not want to hurt them at all, at least not intentionally. They are especially sensitive to their surroundings. Always seeking approval and love from their parents. They enjoy basking in their parents’ attention and happiness. It’s like angel’s wings wrapping around their little body, keeping them safe and warm always.

Growing up, children either learn to stop or continue lying. It all depends on how parents react and manage this delicate situation. Either you offer love and understanding (behind gritted teeth) or you scold and punish heavily. When you choose love and understanding, that doesn’t mean the child get away scot-free. He/she will still be reprimanded for having lied in the first place. You decide on the right punishment. Make them understand that, what you disagree with is the action, not the person. No harm letting them know how you see and feel about them as an individual – their good qualities which you know so well.

Having said all that, you know and I know, that the children forgets easily. Parents will still be challenged repeatedly but you’ll find that when you use the right technique, giving them a safe platform to speak up, the lying will eventually become lesser.

Let’s make them see that Honesty is still the Best Policy“. Of course we are the Giant role model to them. We must first walk the talk! Let them see that it is alright to admit a mistake and face the consequences. In fact, it’s most honorable and brave for a person to do just that!

~ Alice N.

Have Faith

Being parents, when friends come together for a chit-chat, we can never escape the topic of our children. Their diet, well-being, education, current issues, etc.

When they are young and living with us, we would watch over them. Though not the wholesome 24 hours, at least part of it, everyday. We try to teach them as much as we possibly can to prepare them for the world, like what to do when meeting strangers, making new friends, school, making choices, taking responsibility, so on and so forth.

Now let’s fast forward several years. These young children have grown older and leaving home to further their studies. Many parents at this stage shared their apprehension; what if they mix with the wrong crowd and learn the wrong things?! Mothers are usually the worry warts. All they can do is pray hard and hope that their children will remember what had been taught to them all this while.

I am thinking aloud if I may; if these children have been exposed to their own faith since young and been instilled the right practice, I dare trust that when they are away from us, their faith will be there to guide them. When they are faced with challenging situation, their conscience will kick in, sooner or later.

Having faith is like having a compass with you throughout your journey of life. If they ever stray from the right path, I would like to believe that they won’t go too far off course. When they are in fear, one of the ways to calm their nerves is to say a prayer. When you communicate with God, somehow or rather, you’ll feel this sense of security and hope enveloping you. When the mind is in a state of calmness, you tend to see things more clearly and make better judgement.

Right now, as they are still young, we may not see much result from our “teachings”. Of course, we must do what we preach too. We are after all their first role model. Do continue to expose them to religious teachings and right practices as much as possible. All these will internalize over time and will one day emerge, in time of need.

This is my personal thought and I speak based upon what I heard, observed and experienced. I trust that besides family, faith also plays an important role in our daily lives. Faith is like a walking stick we use to help us walk along this uneven life path.

Having faith makes one more confident and independent. It makes us become brave enough to reflect and make adjustments in any situation we are stuck with. It also makes us aware of consequences to our every action.

If you think otherwise and have different experience, do share with us.

~ Alice N.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Mummy Dearest,

Through the years, you have taught me a lot, since very young, to prepare me for adulthood and make me an independent person.

When you discontinued the service of “Ah Yee” (our house-keeper whom we addressed as Aunt) and started to train me to do housework, I thought you wanted to torture me. I resented every single chore that I had to complete. I shed tears each time I had to wash the dishes, cut the vegetables to perfection, learning to cook, do the laundry (those days, all clothes were hand-washed!), ironing (heavy metal charcoal iron) those clothes with you, etc. You also tried teaching me floral arrangements, sewing, knitting and gardening, but failed because this daughter (sigh) just didn’t have any interest! Wish I paid more attention then. Now, I am hopeless in sewing and can’t keep a decent garden!

I couldn’t understand why I needed to learn all those “life-surviving” skills till years later when I went away to further study, then to work. Equipped with all these skills, I actually survived effortlessly. When I got married, I knew from day one how to run my household and also, able to carry out my role as a daughter-in-law, which made my Mom so proud! There were times when I blamed my mom for teaching me too much and too well.

Anyway Mom, without your dedication and patience, I wouldn’t have been who I am today. I shall take it in my stride to teach the same to my daughter too. For I know now, instead of spoiling me by spoon-feeding me, you chose the hard way “by teaching me to fish” instead. I can see clearly now. I guess it takes a Mother to know a Mother. Her intention has always been good. She knew all along that the skills she transferred to me will one day make my life simpler. She is so right – mother knows best!

Thank you, Mom! For teaching me to fish, instead of handing me the fish, for my sake.

Thank you, Mom! For letting me grow at my own pace, under your guidance.

Thank you, Mom! For being there when I need you, at all times. Never once have you turned me down.

Thank you, Mom! For your unconditional love, now and forever.

Mom, you have done very well in bringing us up; you always make the best out of any situation, even with limited resources; providing us a beautiful home to return to. A home which is always warm and welcoming; you make us feel safe and pampered as if we were children again; where we can find love and of course, super delicious home-cooked food. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful mom.

On your Birthday, I wish to you continuous good health, peace in your heart and mind, happiness and love always. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MUMMY! WE LOVE YOU ALWAYS… ❤

~ Alice N.

Family

Family is a BIG word. We commonly hear and use these three terms, Immediate, Extended and Family in law.

Immediate Family members are Spouse (husband or wife), Parents (father and mother), Children (son and daughter) and Siblings (brother and sister).

Extended Family members are Grandparents, Uncle, Aunt, Cousin, Nephew, Niece and Common Ancestor. Whilst, Family in law members are Father-in-law, Mother-in-law, Brother-in-law and Sister-in-law.

For most families, once the children have grown up and started their own families, they would have their own home, either in the same city or away. These families usually come together when there are special occasions, traditionally practised, like Parents’ Birthdays, Festive seasons, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc.

In my immediate family, through the decades, we siblings will make it a point to come together at least, for Parents’ Birthday and Chinese New Year. When we were younger, these times were truly happy days when we looked forward to meet one another and to catch up on our live actions. Those who reached home first would call the others who are still in the road, eagerly waiting for all to be together again. Mom would be most happy to cook up our favourites and Dad would buy lots of food/fruits to stuff us. There wouldn’t be a single moment where anyone get the chance to feel hungry even for a second!

However, sad to note, as we grow older, especially these recent years, what is supposed to be happy occasions, appeared to be a “burden” to some. Looks to me that it’s a kind of forced attendance and each can’t wait to get back to their homes or another personal holiday destination. I may speculate based on my observation but it’s hard not to miss a sad, mad or even ??? faces here and there. The only ones with truly happy faces are the kids – nephews and nieces, who are always glad to meet one another and played together like they have never been apart for a single day!!!

That makes me wonder, what had gone wrong along the way that siblings have lost words to speak to one another? How adults can’t be like the kids, happy to meet and reconnect on such happy occasions? It’s not everyday that we get to meet! We can’t hide in the rooms and appear only at meal times!

It is so easy for us to laugh and chat lovingly with our friends but not with our family members who are our own bloodline? Is it easier for us to tolerate and accept our friends’ imperfections but not our family’s? Do we readily offer our time to our friends, perhaps a little reluctantly to our own family members?

I wonder if it is just one family or it happens to others too. All I can say is this – when our parents are still around, this is the time to show them how much we love them and how much we treasure their love. Spending time with them over the weekend once in a while or if you cannot travel at all for whatever reasons, call home to chat for a short while can do wonders to them. If they can’t get to see you, listening to your voice and knowing that they are remembered, is more than good enough for them.

Moreover, you are setting example for your children. What they see is what they will do to you when you are old. What goes around, will surely comes around. Time like this reminds me of the late Yasmin Ahmad’s festive commercials. She knew what’s going on in this modern world. She knew what Family means. Her commercials never fail to bring out our innermost feelings.

So, please don’t wait till our parents are no longer present that you realised your mistakes and try to make it up by visiting their graves. To me, make the living as happy as you want to be happy and appreciated yourself. Always remember your roots. Each of us have so much love that is more than enough to go around. To immediate, extended, in-law and beyond.

I hope, for those who have not called home or visit parents for a long time now, you’d do something good after reading this. Like I said before, the problem is not “NO TIME”. We just need to “MAKE TIME” – in present tense, please.

Hugs to all families ❤

~Alice N.

Ps. I must acknowledge that through my sibling(s) that I get to know a couple of wonderful sisters-in-law, to this day, I love and treat them like my own sisters. They are rare gems with big hearts. Bless them.

Full-Timer, Part-Timer, Volunteer

People often told me that they do not need to do so much just because they are part-timers or worse, volunteers! Some people on the other side of the fence confided in me that they cannot ask for more because these people are volunteers or part-timers! Let’s study this :

Who are the Full-timers? Full-time employment is employment in which the employee works the full number of hours defined as such by his/her employer (Wikipedia). Here, the employees are obliged to give their full attention and commitment to their career growth. Their essential three meals and lifestyle count on it. No issue here as everyone knows where he/she stands.

What about Part-timers. A part-time job is a form of employment that carries fewer hours per week than a full-time job (Wikipedia). If I may say so, though you work for several hours only, 100% commitment is still expected of you. It does not mean that, since you cut your hours of work by half, you can also cut your commitment by half. You still have to apply prudence and full accountability during that 3 to 4 hours of work!

For full-time career woman cum wife cum mother, by the measure of hours spent in carrying out her roles, may I say that she is a part-timer as wife and mother? If I may say so, would the society expect any less of her in carrying out her duties as a wife and a mother? Whilst she puts in 100% into her full-time job, she is also expected to put in 100% being a wife and mother!

Now, let’s look at the Volunteers. Volunteering is the practice of people working on behalf of others or a particular cause without payment for their time and services. Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life….(Wikipedia). Again, I personally feel that when one volunteers, he/she is confident in carrying out the responsibilities without thinking of self-interest. This act of volunteering is serving others selflessly, filled with sincerity and love for sharing.

Though volunteering work requires only a couple or so hours, and do not get paid for the “labour” provided, that doesn’t mean we should think so little of it. It is usually a weekly task or on ad-hoc basis. Whatever it is, once we have agreed to be a volunteer, let us join forces to make it work! Everyone comes from different backgrounds, possesses different skills and knowledge. We shall learn from one another and give without expecting anything in return.

I would conclude that regardless how much time you spent working, you are still capable to give your 100% to your other tasks in hand. It’s a matter of “would you or would you not”, NOT “could you or couldn’t you”.

Like my mentor used to say to me, “Be the best of who you are!”. Aim to be the best Full-timer / Part-timer / Volunteer! You’ll be most pleased with the end result, better than what money can buy, trust me!

~ Alice N.