Mental Health: No Stigma

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Today is World Mental Health Day, with the 2017 designated theme of “Mental Health in the Workplace.”

There are two huge and simple things we can do as employees and employers in our jobs: help to end stigma, and human kindness.

I live and thrive with bipolar disorder. It wasn’t always that way. I was (mis)diagnosed with depression at 14, and due to a negative stigma around treatment thanks to religion I went untreated for many years. Sure I tried therapy here and there, but fought it until I stopped going. I tried meds until I stopped that too, believing God healed me. Religion tending to feed into stigmas around mental health aside, although that is huge story that could be told, going untreated for so long culminated in a suicide attempt in 2010.

After that, I got onto this antidepressant and that one, struggling through the uninsured system of having a pre-existing condition before ObamaCare was a thing, until I got onto the antidepressant that would trigger my manic episode, 4-days with no sleep, and eventual involuntary hospitalization under a 5150 hold. Not uncommon for someone with bipolar who is misdiagnosed as depressed to be diagnosed this way, but unfortunate.

During all of these instances and hospitalizations, I had jobs. Myself, or my caretaker, usually boyfriend, would have to go to my manager and explain what had happened and where I was. We always went with compete honesty. They always gave complete kindness and confidentiality.

Many years and struggles later, and I’m on a regimen that works. I can report that I am currently more manic than otherwise, and that be ok because I know what it means for me. I know it’s who I am, that I have two main emotional states and where my boundaries lie. I know how to ride the waves, and how to take it easy on myself. Some days I don’t, and some days I need to take a mental health day from everything. Some days I can’t be around people, and some days I’m tackling projects left and right better than anyone around me.

I function. I thrive. I live and I love. I’m a person with a mind, and a heart, and a career. I just happen to also have a disease for which there is no cure – but there is help for.

What we can all do is make it so that speaking about my disease is no more strange and uncomfortable than someone telling  you they cannot have that cookie because they’re diabetic.  My friend who sees things that aren’t there is no more different or strange than my friend with Celiac disease. End the stigma.

And be kind. Be kind to everyone. Always assume the best. It’s so much better for everyone when we are kind to each other. When we don’t say mean things, or assume the worst. When so-and-so calls out for being sick – again – don’t feed the negativity by talking shit about her. You don’t know her story. Be kind, be empathetic and compassionate.

Read more great things you can do with this great article including 5 way to show support this year for mental health.

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The Jesus Drug

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“Feel you when I’m restless, feel you when I cannot cope

You’re my addiction, my prescription, my antidote

You kill the poison, ease the suffering

Calm the rage when I’m afraid to feel again

 

You’re better than drugs

Your love is like wine

Feel you comin’ on so fast, feel you comin’ to get me high

You’re better than drugs

Addicted for life”


“Better Than Drugs” by Skillet was one of the many songs that permeated my young life, as did its message. The concept of Jesus’, or more accurately the Holy Spirit, as this thing that can make one experience a “high” is not all uncommon to many denominations of Christianity. Go into any Pentacostal-esque church and you will witness speaking in tongues (that is, gibberish speaking where those inflicted believe they are speaking in an angelic language), falling on the floor where they proceed to either go catatonic or writhe, moan in a strangely sexual way, weep, or laugh, and all sorts of ecstatic behavior.

In the teenage life of many Christians, the use of Jesus as a drug is more exemplified by the first line: “feel you when I cannot cope.” Turning to Jesus becomes an escape. When the teenage angst gets too hard, the answer is to pray, read the bible, listen to Christian music, or anything at all relating to God. To completely saturate oneself with the Gospel in anyway possible. And only the Gospel: only Christian music, only Christian books fiction and non-fiction, only Christian games, movies with only Christian values (we skip through any sexy scenes, btw). If someone got sick, we’d hold prayer meetings and saturate ourselves in prayer, so we’d learn quick that it’s not medicine that heals, it’s God. We’d have youth groups for teens where we’d get to unleash our pain to each other, and instead of giving advice, we’d lay hands on each other and pray. We’d get to cry, sure, but ultimately “give the pain to God,” have a worship session, and go home happy and drugged up.   

What happens when one goes without the drug? Does one go into Jesus’ withdrawal?

 

“I hate feelin’ like this

I’m so tired of tryin’ to fight this

I’m asleep and all I dream of is waking to you

 

Tell me that you will listen

Your touch is what I’m missin’

And the more I hide I realize I’m slowly losin’ you

 

Comatose

I’ll never wake up without an overdose of you

I don’t wanna live

I don’t wanna breathe

‘less I feel you next to me

You take the pain I feel

(Wakin’ up to you never felt so real)

I don’t wanna sleep

I don’t wanna dream

Cause my dreams don’t comfort me

The way you make me feel

(Wakin’ up to you never felt so real)

I hate livin’ without you

Dead wrong to ever doubt you

But my demons lay in waitin’

Tempting me away”

Christians would often call this withdrawal, as seen above from, again, lyrics from Skillet, “doubt.” There was one night in particular I will never forget when I put this song on repeat, and knelt in tears, singing/praying the lyrics over and over again. Every word I meant. It was one of my last cries of desperation in a stage of very deep, tormented doubt. I wept for hours, and I would again for many nights. It physically, mentally, and emotionally hurt like nothing I’ve ever felt.

You see, I was born an intellectual person. I always had an unquenching desire to know. When I was very young, this showed itself best in my little 6, 7, 8 year old self sitting during the worship service reading the Bible instead of singing the songs (which weren’t boring hymns like most churches, but the jump up and down kind). Instead of watching Veggie Tales and playing games in the little kids Sunday school, I got put in the big kids’ class where we read the Bible, memorized verses, and asked questions.

I did Christianity hard. By my teens I’d been baptised, in water and the Holy Spirit with manifestation of gifts of the Holy Spirit (tongues and prophesy), gone on a healing crusade where I “healed” people, read the Bible front to cover in multiple versions more times than I could keep track of, and started a Bible club at my High school by petitioning the principal of the school. I read commentaries, took notes in the margins of every bible I read, highlighted, did devotions twice a day, read and listened to everything by Dr. Dan Brown and got certified in Healing Ministries and Gifts of the Spirit through Kenneth Copeland Ministries. I consumed everything I knew to consume. And I believed, damn it. I loved Jesus with everything I was, with every atom of my being. I talked to him every moment and believed he talked back. I lead hundreds in the Sinner’s Prayer, personally. Jesus was my everything.

And then I got the call to ministry.

And I went to a federally accredited Christian college.  

And long story short- I read Richard Dawkins, Timothy Keller, The Dead Sea Scrolls, Socrates, Plato, Kierkegaard, Robert Wright, Christopher Hitchens, I read commentaries by Atheists, Jews, Agnostics, Muslims, and Christians of all types. I read the Bible in Hebrew. I read anything, and everything. I wrote my Pastor with questions, I wrote and spoke with my (very Christian) professors, I spoke with students, I typed on message boards and forums, I asked questions everywhere I possibly could. And one by one my doctrines came to be questioned by reason and logic until they all fell away.

And there I was at the end of it all, an Atheist with no Jesus drug to help me cope with the pain of my long untreated mental illness and dysfunctional upbringing, or to comfort me from the loss of friends and family who wanted very little to do with me now that I wasn’t a Christian. But that, not the doubt it self, was the withdrawal. All the pain, the loss, the “oh shit how do I cope now?”, was the coming down process.

I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but neither would I ever go back to the addiction. The addiction kept me blind from reason – from seeing two sides of the argument, not just one, and discerning for oneself, from seeing science and philosophy and logic and doubt and tasting it all -, from entirely healthy parts of life such as sexual exploration, love in all its forms, making mistakes, and living life to the fullest, and from proper self care, not faith [[ many sects have an irrational fear and/or outright contempt for psychology and all its medicinal help for people with mental illness]].

The Jesus’ drug culture is not healthy. When these two songs came on my playlist, because yeah I still listen to my old Christian stuff, I cringed. There is nothing ok with raising young people to seek a thing that does not exist to give it a placebo like high for all of life’s ills, and to drown their mind, senses, and psyche with nothing but that drug.

Just say no.

Women: 5 things to fucking stop doing now

WOMEN MEAN

Anyone who has dated me, friend-ed me, married me, or the like has heard me utter the words “I hate women.” From a young age onward I lived the Tom Boy life. Not because dolls and hopscotch weren’t my thing, but because their odd social interaction were confusing to me. My first interaction with a female in school, I recall happened while I was watching curiously while the boys played wall-ball (or whatever it was called then), and this girl with braids ran up to me and asked if we could be friends. My mind went something towards the extent of “who the hell are you and why would I be your friend?” I said no, and she promptly ran back off and never talked to me again.

Other interactions were equally strange: gossip, the whole “who do you think is cutest” thing, the crying, the catiness, and the fuzzy lines of what is ok and not. Two more examples: 1.) Rough housing with who was and still is my best friend (and one of two girl-friends that I have) in recess, I had thrown sand at her and apparently that crossed the arbitrary line of what is not ok, and she ran off crying and didn’t speak to me until I came up and apologized for…. fuck if I knew then, I just knew that that’s what I had to do to get her to talk to me. 2.) Apparently when you’re in 1st grade, and you’re talking about what boy you think is the cutest, saying who you want to marry is OK, but saying who you are going to have sex with is not. Don’t know where I learned whatever-I-thought-sex-was at the ripe ‘ole age of 6, but I damn it I knew that that’s what married people did. Apparently that must’ve made the girls uncomfortable because it got to my teacher and I got a talking to after school.

Why couldn’t any of these three situations been dealt with between those who were involved? Why run away? Why get emotional? Why the cold-shoulders? Why the nods of “uh huh” and giggle and then telling on to a teacher?

The reason why I still do not enjoy the company of women is because all of these childhood attributes still run rampant. We have memes about them, they show up in our sitcoms and depictions of the stereotypical nagging wife. Yet it’s all socially acceptable, and men are still being told half-no-so-jokingly before getting married the advice of “She is always right.”

Then things like this, the woman’s translation guides that we have all undoubtedly see that both women and men agree as being true:

So, without further ado, here are 5 things Women need to stop fucking doing, now: 

  1. No means Yes, Fine means it’s not fine (i.e. read my mind)

    Honestly, most of these are going to be about women wanting men** to read their minds and not actually meaning the words that come out of their lips. But I get really tired of my male friends telling me how they don’t fucking know what their woman means when they say something, and that they end up getting shit on for it.

    Stop it.

    We may have a greater empathetic insight , but we can not assume everyone else can deduce what we mean when we say something.

    Not to mention saying one thing, and meaning the opposite, is usually known as lying. Stop lying and say what you mean.

    2. Giving Chase/ being coy/ not saying No when it gets uncomfortable

    This one is a big one. Yes, the chase can be a lot of fun. A lot of men enjoy the “hunt” of courtship, and a lot of women, myself included, enjoy being courted.

    BUT- and this is a huge but, stop giving chase when you are not interested, and use your “No” when something goes to far. A no is all it takes, and unless you have unwisely given chase to a rapist, all men will stop at a firm “No.” If they get mad at you saying no, then that is not someone you should be around. At all. Was this not taught to us as children or did too many of us not get the memo on obvious male douchery and potential rapist red flags?

    It’s not being coy to let him touch your hair if it makes you feel uncomfortable***, it’s not just being nice to smile and saw “awww” (stop that shit too) when a guy compliments a part of you that feels uncomfortable. Use your words, you’re a grown ass person. The vast majority of men will stop and engage you as another human being. The rest are rapists and you should run, or use your pepper spray.

    Funny how we tend to see ourselves as being sexy and in power when we make contact without consent from a man**, but yet if a man does it and we don’t like it, we can call assault without any need for communicating it, hm? Which leads to my next point:

    3. Double Standards

    Yeah, there are differences in the genders. Yes, men have different muscular structures (on average) and can usually over-power a female. Due to this biological fact that comes with higher levels of testosterone, yes they can more easily rape us than we can them.

    BUT– every standard we hold to others, should also be held to us. Consent is sexy as fuck, get a “fuck yeah” and sexytimes become so much more sexy. [[And since I know someone will call it, yeah some people like rape-play, that’s cool, but all good kinksters know that there needs to be consent before such plays are engaged in. If it’s sexy for you, communicate it clearly and preferably with a safe word as such things can get psychologically and physically damaging very quickly. All sex requires safety in some degree or another. ]]

    If you want it from your significant other, you should likewise give it to him/her.

    If you physically strike a man, they have a right to lawful self-defense, and if  you are physically stronger than them (yep, it happens) it may be lawfully quite just for them to hit you back: It’s not cute, it’s called assault. If they say “No,” it means no and stop: you’re not being cute and foxy, you’re being rapey. You are not always right, they are not always wrong, we are all humans with functioning brains and intellect and your genitals do not dictate your rightness: humbleness is a sexy trait, admit when you are wrong.

    4. Not asking for what you want

    Granted, this is very similar to point #1 in that it demands the other reading one’s mind, however it deserves it’s own point because it is the more silent, passive relationship killer.

    As a woman and a lady, we’re usually told to be overly modest in asking for our needs. It’s not “proper” for a woman to communicate when she is horny, yet it’s expected of the man to do so? Let’s end that. If you want him to stay home with you because you’re feeling needy today, say so. If you’re moody, communicate you need space. If just really want that double fudge brownie ice cream and that will solve all your problems (admit it, it happens), ask for it or get it.

    Your needs are valid and you will not get them unless you ask. You may not get them if you ask either, that’s life. If you can say no to sex, so can he (point #3).

    5. Exaggerated assault claims, flat out not-true rape/assault claims, and “I changed my mind I didn’t like it” assault/rape claims

    This is a touchy one. As a woman, it’s scary to write about. I’ve been a victim of assault at a young age, like so many women, and it changed my life. As usual, the man did not get justly punished for what he did to me and I was the one blamed for “getting him in trouble” when so many other women “had it done to them and liked it.”

    However, and I’m sorry not sorry, but women do lie. There are innocent men whose lies are forever ruined from a flat out false assault/rape charge.

    That is not ok, just as equally as it is not OK for a woman to get shit on for a legitimate horrid, disgusting crime against them. Is it our fault that we get shit on for our false claims? No, it’s not. But we tend to fight for that more than we do for the innocent men, don’t we?

    False claims happen, exaggerated claims happen (he touched me without my consent when what happened was he touched your hand, and you know damn well everyone reads “touched” as he touched your private parts. Can you imagine if a man claimed un-consensual touch for a hand/arm/shoulder/hair touch? Imagine it, go ahead.), and yeah, “I changed my mind and didn’t mean “yes” when I said “yes” claims” do happen to.

    Men are humans too. Let’s treat them like that, as equal creatures who can equally be falsely accused as much as a woman can.

    ** I write this in the context of heterosexuality because that is what I know, and for no other reason.

    *** Mind you, there are of course lines. If he touches your private regions, that’s a no-no that should only be gone to with clear and explicit consent.

Consent, Religion, and my issue with “waiting”

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Anyone who knows me or has read my blog should know by now that I was raised in a very conservative religious household. If you don’t, or even if you do, let me introduce myself:

I am a 28 year old female who’s been married twice, been with two men, and am still learning about my own sexuality and the idea of “firm and enthusiastic consent” is still new to me.

A little backstory: when I was growing up, there were 3 stages of Sex Ed in the school system: Elementary, Middle, and High. When the class was pulled from the main classroom in 4th grade to learn about sex, my parents signed off that I was not permitted to go, so I sat alone in an empty classroom clueless. The rest of the class came back giggling and with all these inside jokes and terminology that I did not understand. When I went home and asked my mom what sex was and how babies were made, I was handed a kid’s biology book and told to figure it out. I still remember to this day staring at a drawn picture of a naked male and female and asking myself “but how does the sperm get in there?? I don’t get it!”

By 7th grade, I entered mandatory Sex Ed class clueless of the basics. We had an anonymous question jar, and I would almost always put questions in, to which the teacher’s answers were never quite sufficient, because I missed Sex 101. When I asked, honestly, why kids giggled at the number “69” and the question was read, the class burst into laughter and the teacher just kind of shook her head with a smirk, let the class laugh, and went on to the next question. I don’t think I figured out what it was until my 20’s.

That was my education experience.

My religious experience was simple and direct: Wait til marriage.

Period. The end. That’s it. Sex is bad unless you are married. Oh, and by the way, don’t masturbate or touch yourself because the only person who’s supposed to make you feel good is your spouse. Little fuzzy on the oral/anal line but the unspoken assumption is that that’s wrong and vile too cause that’s not how God made biological sex to occur.

By the time I found someone to marry (who was Catholic, naturally) and got to Pre-marital counseling, all I was taught about sex at that point was the radical idea that a woman can initiate sex too, and you don’t have to both climax at the same time. Kind of shows you what most Christians think sex is supposed to be if that’s something that is taught in pre-marital….

So here’s the framework: Girl isn’t taught the basics of sex whatsoever other than pictures of STDs from school and what a sketched penis and vagina look like and knows that she can do this sex thing on her wedding night.

Where’s consent? Does she sign away consent completely when she gets married? She is swearing herself in “complete devotion and servitude to her husband,” so can she say no? She’s never taught she can, so she doesn’t. Besides, her body is now her husbands wholly and completely. Divorce isn’t an option, she is now his and as long as he doesn’t strike you (and even sometimes if he does, see Focus on the Family’s sermons on this) that’s all there’s to it.

So, again, where is consent in this framework? Can you see the problem?

I try, very hard, to listen to people who say waiting til marriage is a beautiful thing, but everything in my gut tells me that there is something very wrong with it. You’re telling two people they can’t even touch each other sexually until their wedding night and that they can never leave each other. What choice do they have? Without choices, is there really any consent to be given? Without the option to say “no” and leave, is there really consent?

My experience isn’t, by far, the norm in religious upbringings, but it is neither uncommon. There are gradients for sure. But personally? I can not see how the monogamous “waiting” perspective is anything but consensual.

Without choice and options, the idea of consent is a farce.

Learning Objective: Bless Me, Ultima Christmas Play

The Objective of this activity will be to assist students in understanding a particular scene in the assigned reading of “Bless Me, Ultima” where characters are taking part in a Christmas Play.

Instructional Strategies

1.) Re-presentation

Using the TESI re-presentation strategy, the students will re-present 5 key events in the reading portion described above through a Powerpoint presentation. Students will be in groups of 5, one student per event. The powerpoint must be formatted in succession of events (the first slides representing events that preceded the succeeding slides), and must include graphics either drawn in paint or via clip art that can be loosely attached to the event described in the scene.

2.) Bridging

Teacher will facilitate bridging of understanding of how the Christmas play scene unwravels in the reading, with their prior knowledge or experience of the Nativity Scene. We will discuss how the scene differs, and either play a game such as found here, or for those not familiar with the Holiday watch a youtube video of a nativity scene Christmas play and discuss the differences and similarities between this and the reading.

3.) Modeling

We will go over in class an exemplar of assignment in above re-presentation to show students what the finished product will look like. A template can be also provided for students to fill in and more easily construct their powerpoints.

One Computer Classroom

1) How will you ensure that all students have an opportunity to use the computer? 1a)How will you manage the taking of turns?  (be very specific, would you have groups, popsicle sticks??)

I think this really depends on the size and nature of the class. In the High School setting, classes can range anywhere from 40+ in a general studies class, to 10 a specified elective class. For larger classes, I like the idea of small group work just for its practicality, as well as for its usefulness. Students would have to plan and write up a rough draft of what they will be using the computer for whether it be research based, or design based, so they can tackle it efficiently when their turn comes to use the computer. In either setting, I think a randomized system works best.

As an idea, I think I would use a dice rolling app, and have students assigned numbers. Either myself, or a student can be assigned to do the “rolling.” In this way, students are also taught how to utilize a randomization program which can be very useful for many different applications. It can be edited to not repeat numbers, or go up to a set number. Whichever number it “lands” on, would be the small group who goes in the assigned time slot.
2) Think of a topic you would like to teach in class and identify three ways you could have students use computers to study this topic?—Please provide detailed information.

Admittedly, I’m having a hard time thinking of a way that a single topic could be studied in three separate ways….

But to wing it, let’s say current events is a topic I could teach. We could do 1.) individual work and have students use the computer to print out a single article of interest from a local newspaper. Students could, 2.) in a small group, find trending news videos to watch together and discuss. Or we could, as a class, decide on a topic of interest and use the computer to find 3 different perspectives on the issue, and use the information to do a quick write on their stance.
3) The computer can also be a tool for instruction (by you). How might you use the computer as an instructional tool?

One of the topics I stumbled upon that had a wealth of resources online was in poetry such as Edgar Allan Poe. As his works can be quite lengthy and thus have copyright issues that restrict printing, the internet has multiple resources for teachers to assist in teaching his works. For example, there are recordings of voice acted recitations of “The Raven” that can help in setting the ambiance for absorbing such a dark poem. We could watch short documentaries of his work, or even clips from the movie made after his life.

4) In what ways may use the computer to assist you with your job of being a teacher, beyond what you’ve answered above?

Charts! Excel is a necessary resource. It makes recording grades, attendance, tardies, class participation a piece of cake. Grades can be entered and calculated in an instant. Everything can be seen on one screen. Also, communication and consultation with other teachers and staff can be accomplished with ease and efficiency. Rather than using a disruptive phone call, for example, an instant messaging app can be used to communicate across classroom walls.

Excel in the classroom

The assignment for this post is regarding the use of Excel spreadsheets in the classroom as an activity that engages the students as a cognitive tool that can aid them in gathering and effectively organizing data. Playing off of the example found here in our assigned reading, I like the idea of using excel to track daily activities. It’s grid format makes it quite easy to do so.

Putting myself in the hypothetical classroom, I could imagine having students use a spreadsheet to track time spent in daily activities, including amount of sleep. Students would input the amount of time in hours, and calculate in the adjacent row the % of daily time used. After a set amount of days or weeks observed, students would average the time in a total row and thus be able to see, concretely, what they spend most of their time accomplishing.

I think this would be a great example of  cognitive tool that a student can use to learn with. Although can be done with a pen and paper, the ability to turn the information into graphs and percentages aids the learning process into seeing the data they record visualized for them.

Personally, I think it can teach a necessary life lesson on budgeting and using time wisely and seeing the finite nature of time when put in numerical expressions. Many a good discussion could come out of this lesson. I know it has changed my perspective of my time when I think of how much of my day I spent on certain tasks.

What think you, reader?

Evaluating a Website

evaluating a website

Taken from a video seen here on how to evaluate information found on the internet. The above graphic design was made using a program called Inspiration. You can download and use a free trial of this program, and it is great for use in educational settings.

Most of the information provided is pretty standard for people who have used the internet for information. In the example used in the video, if you go to martinlutherking.org, it’s pretty obvious to most people that this is not a website one would want to use in a research paper. As I jokingly said to my husband: “I’m pretty sure any website that has a “Rap Lyrics!” link under a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. is not a reputable site.”

With all jokes aside, I do think the 4 key categories of judgement are useful in arguments. For example, I will see to this day many people use blatantly biased sites as their “proof” that their argument is valid. We see this a lot when it comes to controversial, emotion driven topics such as the abortion debate, or gay marriage.

The other points are also very useful in discerning a website’s validity. Is it current? Information and science is continually changing, and a website from 2001 may contain obsolete information. Can the author of the website be clearly identified? What are his or her credentials and what authority does he/she have on the subject?

What about sources? Are there any? Are they reputable? Are they clearly linked? A good argument will always have sources to back it up, and these sources will follow the same guidelines we use for judging the quality of a website.

Debrief

So quick debrief for blog followers:

It was a long process, but I finally came to realize that what I really wanted to do with my academic career was to teach. So I found an amazing program at a local University that ends in a M.A., teaching Credential, and finished Internship in about 18-months time.

I am excited about it! Sure, I’ve been talking about going for Doctoral work in Philosophy or Theology for some time, but I’ve also always only wanted to teach with it and most of doctoral work is in the research. The research part, although I enjoy doing, isn’t necessarily what I wanted to do with my life, it was the teaching.

For now I’m pursuing an English Credential, but Social Studies calls to me as well so down the road I might either switch to that, or tack it on as a second credential.

Where does Philosophy fall? A way of life and thinking. A critical awareness with a desire for continual lifelong search for knowledge and wisdom. What better way to use that than to impart knowledge learned into young people’s minds?

With all that being said:

I’m taking a 100 level technical class this semester which required us to learn to set up a blog. As I already have one, I can use this one for my assignments so figured I would. So look forward to blog posts with new technology stuff that I’ll be using to present in class. Yay!