Tearing it apart to confuse the kids. By David Reid Otey

I teach for a living. I’ve been at it for twenty years. I love it. I have an unusual special education class. I know I am fortunate. Throughout all these years I have been studying the process of education, of how we really learn the best, through personal  experience and repeated questions and possible answers from my own mind. The basic operation being used in most cases and most places, from what I see, no matter how the package is relabeled and redefined on paper, is an unfortunate simple process of breaking things down and presenting various modes of repetition for fact memory. In a best situation there will be the hands on projects where students actually create–not simply duplicate–to understand and have ownership of a process.

I tutored for two summers, meeting my two girl students in the local library. We each had to travel half an hour from opposite sides of the library’s town. I was determined that they receive more than just ”the same old same old” routine from their class rooms. I decided upon building their confidence in themselves first and foremost, to get that most important foundation built much stronger than it was. I knew their current math and reading challenges came from a weak beginning understanding of their own inner powers of learning. Each of their first tutoring sessions went like this.

I said, ” The first thing you need to know and believe is that you already have a ton of knowledge/information inside your brain. You are much smarter than you think you are. It shows in your eyes. Smart people can never hide their intelligence if someone can look in their eyes. You’ve seen people who you know are not very smart. You look in their eyes and you can even see their limits. But you have the look of a smart kid. So, you are smart. If it were possible to hook your brain up to a typing machine and to type a copy of everything you know right now, typing it all on both sides of each sheet of typing paper, and then stacking all of those papers neatly on the library floor, this library would be stuffed with those papers clear against all the walls and up against the ceilings and the doors such that no one would be able to get in. There would be no place to stand. No room for anything else at all.”  At this point they look around the room, look at me and smile, and sometimes say, “really?”.

I say, “Yes, and you already know the answers to 90% of what you are going to have in math next year, and probably in science and social studies and even in reading, if you happen to like to read.”  Then I explain what happens from the beginning.

When you are born your mind begins instantly to take in information of all kinds without judgement, without refusing any of it, without any resistance at all. You will no doubt complain about some things and cry at what hurts. Your spirit bonds with your mind and your body through this process of ”taking it all in”. Before you ever set foot in a school you have already had practical real life,  hands-on, creative, reflective experiences. You have observed, wondered, planned, experimented and discovered results and made new plans based on discoveries from the past attempts. You know land marks and how to get around your town. You know the architectural designs and differences of the homes of your family and friends and some of there buildings in town. You already understand elements of art and music and social skills. You understand psychology through interaction. You understand history by personal experience. You have experience in nutrition, in ethnic foods, in classifications of fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and dairy and other groups such as spices and herbs. You understand language, listening, reading, speaking and even some writing. It is really amazing what your mind has absorbed and experienced and acted upon in such a short time.

Then you walk into school where they tear it all part. All that knowledge you have is shown back to you in pieces, totally discombobulated, dislocated, shredded, mangled,  renamed, hidden from its connecting pieces that make sense of it all, suddenly becoming mysterious. Yet, after awhile, your brain tells you that you are familiar with this. There is something about it that you ”feel”. So you open your mouth and say what’s on your mind. The teacher, however, has a ”plan” to follow and your information cannot come out too soon. It might ”confuse” everyone else. So the teacher says, “Just hold that thought. We’ll be getting to that soon.” That means maybe by the end of the week or more likely not until next week.  Soon you feel dumb, stupid, and bored because, after all, your brain knows very well that this is old news being regurgitated. It’s also being forcefully applied by an unnatural formula unrelated to how the real world works. This begins your downfall. This is why you end up not even trying to ”get it” because you feel like you never had it and never will.  Now you are left with trying to survive with some speck of self-respect and self-confidence, to prove you belong somewhere important in the school. You have by then accepted the school’s definition of what a smart kid is and how a smart kid acts. You lose your own self-definition and give in to the status quo. The last thing I do is begin the process of showing them how to use the ”pieces” to bring in the whole of what they’ve known all along so that they can truly add knowledge without the torture of having to go backwards and redefine the meaning of what they’ve lived.

I have a neighbor who understands this idea very well. She home schools her boys and she makes them use ‘what they know, to figure out at least some part of what is needed to add on. When they do the process of discovery on their own instead of being shown every little piece, they like it better, learn more, remember more from creating with it. In short, she teaches them to teach themselves, to carry on the torch of never stopping improving their knowledge of themselves and the world.  End

 

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When the Sun comes up. By Dave R. Otey

When the sun comes up the day is bright again. The paths are clear to see. The directions are easy to choose, the potholes and rough spots are easy to avoid. Clarity makes peace and progress possible and definite.  We have our sights set clear and wide, to change our directions to a happier life. Until the next set of clouds that form a storm that makes a darkness and a mood forlorn,

I wonder many times where the clouds come from: the ones within ourselves. What wind brings them in and how are they formed ? What sight or smell, or sound or touch, or taste can turn around our state of mind from joy to fear, from confidence to doubt, to hiding inside instead of going out ?  What pain within gives rise to pointing and yelling instead of finding the way to resolve whatever we think or know is the cause ? What makes us forget the peace and good we have to turn away into self-pity and spiritual depression ?

Hope is happy, the promise of a chance to see life get better, to feel connected to others who care and are waiting to give. Hope connects to the HOW TO, for knowledge of the steps to make, when and where. Hope points out the beliefs that must change to form the right empowering thoughts that must be focused on to provide the guiding insights that energize the desire and drive to confidently commit to the actions that are the steps from where you are to where you want to be.

Where does the rising sun of hope come from? From the right questions.  Why am I off the path of confidence and happiness ?  What needs to change ? What did I say or do that took me off the path ? What do I need to say and do to get back on the path ?  Is there anything I need to stop doing, to stop saying to myself and others to make that shift back onto the path ?  Who must I connect with to help me ?

Life is much better with good wise friends and sometimes strangers God provides along the way to help ”see” what we missed along the way and show us what we need to realign our spirits with peace and happiness.  Who are your sun rays of HOPE ?  Who are YOU a sun ray of hope for ?   Keep the lights shining every chance you get. Make every day glow for others and yourself.    End.

This never ends. By Dave R. Otey

This will never end. The hate based on color, on entitlement, on size and shape, height, weight, clothing styles, hair styles, choice of spiritual faith, mental capabilities and more.  Someone somewhere is chosen to be a scapegoat for the lacks and/ or failures of others. There seems to be a world wide need to have some group to point to and say, “You are the reason my life is in the pits. You are the fault of the pains and terrors I face. You are the cause holding me back from the life of perfection and life of purity in wealth, joy and happiness I must have.”

Slowly, in different places and at different times there are laws made to control the hate, to push back the line, to make freedoms increase for all. But it will never go away. Hate will always find a place to go, always find some weak willed minds and greedy hearts to infect. That is a reality forever existing, and all I need to do is be aware that I stay in tune with my own feelings and my own ”moments” when I might want to blame someone else for any reason for something that is MY responsibility.

I do not worry about the world falling apart. Every puzzle has cracks. None of the pieces are one hundred percent fitting. Challenges happen every day, big or small. Challenges mean changes and we DO have some control over the changes in our lives by how we respond to the challenges we face. Understanding where the challenges come from is a necessary beginning to knowing which steps to take for separating from a  painful situation or how to change the conditions and circumstances that make up the situation.  In my training as a volunteer for CASA–Court Appointed Special Advocate for children– we learned 5 Conflict Resolution Strategies that I say as part of a personal growth drill every day. Avoid, Compete, Harmonize, Compromise, Collaborate. This is the list from weakest strategy to strongest. Sometimes none of them work, and in that case the best action is to MOVE away from the person or place where all the pain is pooling.

I know and understand prejudice, bias, whatever other names label this divisive mindset.  I understand it is wise of me to be careful, if I have to drive through certain places or if I get lost and find myself in an OBVIOUS environment I don’t instantly fit in with. I am wise enough to know how to walk and talk and how to make a peaceful physical presence. I am friendly with everyone but sometimes and in some places it is best to just stay quiet and do whatever business you have to do and leave. In some places, if locals notice you definitely are not from around their area, you might be approached by a helpful person or by someone targeting you for money or a game.

I am sixty years old. I thought and believed naively for a long time that my generation got to see the end of the serious physical attacks of prejudice. Sure, life has become better with more open doors for unity and harmony and climbing up a social and economic and political ladder for personal and community success. But I see now that history changes not so much in ”final” points reached. It changes more in ”steps” slowly walked in  a state of extreme caution, making certain the step is solid and cannot slip back before going on to the next step.  Some places will not allow advanced steps beyond a certain point so the people who want the advanced steps must move to the places that do allow it.  Crazy, nutty world.

The most peacefully integrated arena in the whole world–still not 100% perfect within itself either but higher than anywhere else–is the arena of creative arts. The arts exist for all humankind. There one can express the thoughts, feelings, dreams, horrors, tragedies, pains, pleasures; every human experience and plea, and know there is an audience who gains comfort and understanding and sometimes courage and empowerment from what is seen, felt and hear and tasted in the arena of art. It also has its dangers to watch out for, if someone is offended. But life still goes on.

The greatest power each of us possess is to make sure the hatred ends within each of our own spirits and souls, ends within our own homes, our own neighborhoods, our own towns, our own family reunions, anyplace and everyplace we stand to talk and act.  Be the peaceful and understanding person where we are.   End.

How serious is this problem ? By David Reid Otey

We have a problem, or do we ?  Maybe it’s only an inconvenience magnified by the fact that we hate  to be stopped to give extra thought to just about anything. Maybe we expect life to go continuously smooth on the basis of  feeling we deserve it that way.

Intensity, frustration, concern, doubt, fear–all of this stuff is prime plot material in movies and television shows, and many of us give ourselves a constant diet of this mind frame. It must affect us in some ways that are unhealthy for us. We live in a consistently electronic world where even programmed peace on television is interrupted by commercials. We are often subtly conditioned to interrupt our own thoughts, to train ourselves to be distracted on a schedule, tired of anything and everything after fifteen minutes, ready to make excuses every half hour to avoid and escape from anyone or anything.

One remedy is to try controlling  everything. Controlling our time, our thoughts, our actions, our plans, our steps to our dreams, our moments of breathing, talking and walking is a great demand upon our minds, bodies and spiritual sense. Where is the “surprise” in life going to take place with such watchful eyes upon every second, every person, every sound and movement?

Being aware and present is the most necessary factor to having ”sane” control: the kind of control which means we can 95% of the time respond correctly, appropriately and quickly to any frustrating or dangerous situation. Response is the key to control. We can have thoughtful responses based upon ability to predict points of interruptions, from inside or outside of us. Choosing planned times to focus on the steps of what is most important in our lives maintains the frequent and steady consistency needed for progress.

Maybe a problem belongs to someone else, who wants that problem to also belong to us with equal concern, intensity and time involvement. Maybe we choose to include ourselves in someone else’s problem of their making, to be a hero. Every problem needs three basic elements: time to analyze causes and solutions (which can take 2-4 hours average), comfort from friends and family (which can take from 2-4 hours), and action/response (which is up to the person who must do that part).

The time we take to involve ourselves in other’s problems must be given a specific and reasonable time limit. The comforting element has a purpose of building hope and confidence for the person to be able to make the chosen response. Dragging on this part of the process leads to codependency and helplessness, and will take time away from our own life needs.

Maybe the problems are not even ours to personally worry about. Wars and atrocities in other countries should not worry us, if we do not live anywhere near them. We can empathize with their needs. We can pray for them to resolve and reconnect in peace. We can donate money to funds targeted for their reliefs. We can prepare for how those events might affect some elements of our lives in our own country. In cases of other places being devastated by storms, we can travel there to be part of comfort and clean up if that’s part of our personal life goals. The point here is to stay away from an “end of the world” worrisome mindset. “End of the world” scenarios and media hype have been around for eons. We do our best in this world by staying focused on where we are, on what we dream to do, and on the steps of those dream goals along with our necessary daily needs.  Don’t worry, be aware.  Don’t worry, be focused. Don’t worry, be happy.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHICH CHAIR AM I SITTING IN ? By David Reid Otey

The challenge to successfully change any part of my life has been difficult. After trying my own ideas over and over again and discovering that I was limited on options of imagination for whatever reason, I sat down trying to figure out another method of getting more ideas. What I finally decided to do, which was the right thing to do, was start listening to other people who shared ideas on how to change. I watched videos on Youtube and then used inter-library loan service to check out the speaker’s books. I bought a handful of the 25 plus books I read and took notes on.

I would try each idea, memorizing a short title phrase to remind me of the purpose and action of the idea. Then I would practice mental focus and physical action of that idea. I could feel the change of mind frame within me and the  strengthening of my confidence and happiness.  I could see the changes on the outside, too, as my choices of action led me a different direction with better results  being produced in the areas I aimed for.

But there was a constant fight of mental control against the conditioned distractions, against the conditioned ”stops” in my mind. I would always end up settling back in the chair of self-defeat—less and less, but still extremely annoying to feel and give in  to when I knew what I wanted to do and I had already been successful to a point, and yet for some reason I was being pulled back by the hands of something into  sitting down and giving up action. Instead I’d be watching tv, cleaning constantly and brooding through melancholy space outs.

More and more I’ve been gaining ground in controlling more of my focus and purposeful action time. The latest idea I adopted this past week is to think of myself sitting in different chairs. I have my ”daily work”chair for my day job as a teacher. I have my ”relationships” chair for family and friends. I have the ”body care” chair for my health. I have my ”soul/spirit” chair for my prayer and meditation time. Then I have my personal growth chairs: ”Martial Arts Class/Women’s Self-Defense (WSD)”,  ”Song performance/guitar practice”, “Songwriter”, and “Blog Posts for sharing thoughts and helping others”.

The trick is to consciously switch from one chair to another without too much of a mentally distracting walk  between the chairs. Every endeavor is made up of brain time and body time. Brain time for reflection, meditation and planning. Body time for the physical connections to the responsibilities and dreams planned.

When I’m driving home I can talk through the next WSD class plan, or I can listen to the music on the radio to focus on lyrics and melody and rhythm. I use the mornings for my prayer and mind frames drills, starting before getting out of bed. So I have developed a plan to solidify. It feels good to see how a certain automation takes over once the ball is rolling. For example: At work this week I accomplished more by starting with strong focus on lining up a specific lesson and the kids involvement. At a certain point of the lesson, when they’re working on their own, I realized I could work on part of another task and I did. After work, before going to a private TKD lesson, I realized I could stop to visit two businesses I had to see about a project of mine. I did that, leaving school when I could, instead of hanging around an extra fifteen minutes waiting for the clock to get closer to my lesson.  What surprised me was the friendly prodding voice in my mind pushing me with confidence to act right away, not in fear and not with a rush, but with consistency.

I have to accept that working on every piece of a plan, even if it’s only a small piece, whenever I can is important. Each piece is like a brick for a sturdy road. I must be satisfied with having any time at all even for just one brick, instead of waiting around until I can impress myself by doing three or more bricks worth and then patting myself on the back to say THAT was a great leap. Waiting for LEAP moments make a project wait for long to forever to maybe never getting done. The LITTLE STEPS are always the power builders. Believing that is not easy. Ego is tough to redefine into ”bad ego” and ”good ego”.  The same goes for the word ”Obsession”. I decided there is ”good obsession” and ”bad obsession”. So I try to be obsessed for the good side.

The last thing to share in this piece is that I had to break a usual pattern of work then home then just relax and do whatever until bed time and go to sleep, wasting time. I am tired at early night and would often stay awake until ten o’clock or so because , ”I’m not old. I’m not gonna lay down this early. That’s ridiculous !” BUT then I realized I thrive and produce better planning and better product when refreshed and when the environment is quiet. So, I come home, visit and eat supper with my wife, watch a half hour of tv with her and then take a nap for 30-60 minutes. Up again, she’s still awake, too. I visit a bit and then get started on my dream goals steps. When she goes to bed I have my totally silent time in the front room for up to two hours. I am patiently striving to make this happen on a seven day basis rather than the three or four I do now. I’ll get there. I’m obsessed to do so. 🙂  END

 

 

 

WHERE AND HOW DO I FIT IN AROUND HERE ? BY DAVID REID OTEY

We have to be right about some things to feel qualified to exist. That is why frustration is so strong when we’re wrong. Belonging to life means belonging to other people. Most of that belonging is to “fit in”. We fit in with clothing style, hair style, language/lingo, body marks or lack of, tastes in food, literature, films, hang outs for social fellowship, points of view with a degree of individual differences allowed, as long as intelligent discussion can take place, AND with being recognized as “right” about ‘anything’ once in a while. It’s a praise to hear, “Well, yeah, you’re right about that.”, as a ‘just scraping by’ acceptance from a member of the group.

The ‘being right’ part is more important than the rest because it’s easy to change or excuse something about any of the other elements, but to NOT match in mental blend means one of two things: you really don’t belong in that group by nature of who you are–and therefore should get out and find the group you really do match with—OR you are labeled as the ‘joker’ card of the group—and that is a social death blow for continuous social contact because ‘invitations’ to special events will not reach the joker, thus being cut off, and that action will become common knowledge among others and will eventually lead to the ears of the joker who will then be depressed, etc. Bottom line, the joker card spot is never a permanent position for anyone. If the joker doesn’t leave by half-way intelligent free will, the group will make sure the door is closed with a subtle ‘shunning’. The subtle shunning is far worse than the “in your face” shunning. Direct insults are always better because you can yell back in their faces regardless of being wrong or right about it. At least you get the satisfaction of standing up to the ‘mean ones’. BUT subtle shunning is cruel and feels like a knife being slowly pushed in. NOT GOOD.

There is strong merit to this idea that we REALLY DO need to be right about a certain percentage of things in life, to feel that we have a right to exist at all. Belonging to people as a group is the purpose of existing, perhaps. This can explain the extreme inner spirit pain that so many feel to the point of committing suicide. They really feel that they do not belong, that they cannot be right about anything, or what they want to be right about. And maybe they do not want to belong to a different group.

Their (our) perspective of which groups are important is where the wiring might be a bit skewed, twisted, off set. We gain much of our “opinions” through conditioning of facts and fictions mixed. The conditioning comes from family and friends, each being led by traditions and beliefs from private or social cultures and the current community culture of ‘what’s cool today’ in connections to music, clothes, political viewpoint, hang outs, lingo, etc. The fact is, every group—good or bad, sane or crazy– has a following, a fan club, a history and, especially in these times, an outlet of connection and fellowship through internet, world connections for chat, hook ups, you name it, it’s all possible. SO, the pressure is on “being where you are”, fitting in where you see actual people walking around you. It doesn’t matter, in a sense, if you DO belong to some group NOT physically represented where you live. What matters most is belonging to people you can immediately touch, see eye to eye and talk personally to while looking in their eyes and feeling the energies from their presence directly. THAT’S the winning card. It’s the big gold ticket like Willy Wonka’s chocolate bar prize.

I just have to be right about all of this. 🙂 Why ? Because sanity is extremely important if you want to hang on long enough to see the proof that we all belong, we are all important and we all have someone who deeply loves us for who we are because we match their energies in some ways, some of the times and that’s all we really need to belong, to be right in the connection sense instead in the fact sense.

You already belong. The journey of life is to find where and then to recognize and accept when to change, as you grow inside toward other groups that provide what you need next for your spiritual journey. Eventually there will be some groups you always belong to. Relax and enjoy the journey and be brave and bold when you walk where you live. Be true to your sense of yourself, and if you cannot find the group that matches you, start your own. Then you will see them show up from their own hiding places because someone was brave enough to give them permission to be ok.

The end.

On A Whim. Stay Alive. By David Reid Otey

Every action makes a reaction, common knowledge for most people. And it applies not just to bouncing balls but to thoughts behind the actions we commit to. You know that every act happens for a reason , even an accident happens because someone was day dreaming or involved in some action of not attending to the moment. So, people’s actions create reactions, responses, results.

This is also one of the ways we know when someone is in trouble somehow. If you have a teenager looking depressed yet who says nothing’s wrong after you ask, you know that’s not the total truth, and we have to, we must try to interfere with that depressing or troublesome thought that occupies their minds because that thought might lead them into hurting themselves or someone else. What do you think has happened in the minds of every kid who committed suicide? Definitely not boredom. But fear of shame and embarrassment.

And REMEMBER from your own experiences that you survived, and yet which may have also affected your own personality to some negative degree in order for you to survive the more serious consequences, REMEMBER you committed to some negative action because of that disturbing thought or belief. And one way you became a prisoner of that thought that led you to make a bad choice was the fact of fear of embarrassment and shame.

THOSE TWO feelings alone are the mental TRAP that we all need a support group to free us from. Trying to go it alone, to prove we are mavericks or super men and super women, kings and queens of the mountain and all that other anti-social, anti-community crap, isolates us even more; makes us want to hide as if we’re some freak of human nature that no one has ever seen. Somehow those thoughts of tragic disillusion make us see what is NOT really real. Yeah, so we may have screwed up somehow. Maybe we stole something. Maybe we killed a neighbor’s dog on purpose instead of by accident. Maybe we broke windows, key scratched a car, flipped off a cop, or had horrible thoughts about relating to close people in obscene or extremely hurtful ways. Suddenly we have crossed a line; a moral line; a line we never believed we could ever step across, mentally or physically.

Now we wonder” what is wrong with me”. Now we think we are turning into the nightmare people from horror shows, from really nasty murder mysteries and whatever other depressing, scary, perverted negative junk we’ve been filling our minds, eyes and thoughts with for hours at a time in front of any screens. WHEN YOU FEEL THE ATTACK OF SHAME OR EMBARRASSMENT–DO NOT GIVE IN TO IT. We all know there is a limit to what is ok and what is not ok, as far as when the law becomes involved. We all NEED TO KNOW that consequences are varied,

BUT CONSEQUENCES ALSO have a very POSITIVE purpose; TO REBALANCE the spirit, soul, humanity, personality and communal connection that was TEMPORARILY separated, broken or cut. Remember that word: TEMPORARY. THAT is the word you must focus on. THAT is the word that will beat down the shame and embarrassment you will feel when others know what you have done or said. ADD THIS TO YOUR THOUGHTS: Are you the only one who ever did that thing or said those words ? NO WAY. NO ONE IS A CLUB BY THEMSELVES. IT’S NOT POSSIBLE TO BECOME SO FAMOUS. You would have to be well over 2,500 years old to claim being the founder of any specific perversion or horrible crime. MOST PEOPLE who take themselves down and out of regular social life and regular social connections are not even close to belonging to the worst clubs in the world. Not—–even—–close. Yet THEY are the ones who are lining up to commit suicide or become alcoholics or drug addicts.

The last two self-destroying avenues have a great deal of club members NOT because of horrible behaviors but because of having no direction, no purpose, no inner vision of their “could be” values in life around them or no confidence in their real values they probably do not even recognize that make others want to be around them and love them. SO–THE SOLUTION is THIS. Accept the feelings of shame and/or embarrassment because they are ALWAYS TEMPORARY feelings. They DO go away because the people who support you will apply forgiveness, grace, hugs and love, as well as their own stories. And these actions of support for you have the power to diminish, erase and dissolve the feelings of shame and embarrassment.

GIVE YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS THE CHANCE TO SAVE YOU from the horrible, life-threatening powers of shame and embarrassment. Ask for help from the right people. YOU KNOW WHO THE CONDEMNERS ARE, WHO THE FEAKS OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS ARE, WHO THE “LET ME MAKE DAMNED SURE YOU FEEL LIKE COW PATTIES” PEOPLE ARE; STAY AWAY FROM THEM. Just call the one or ones you know who will not pass judgement. Just show up to their door and say, “Hey. I’ve made a real mess and I need someone to listen to me confess, hold me, forgive me and help me go through the gauntlet that I will probably have to suffer as a consequence. I really need you. Please help me with this.” Just ask. Show up. Be there. Speak the words of need. Stay there. Stand there. Fall down in tears. Whatever it takes to hold on to the value that you give from within you for other’s happiness, joy and successes. Never let go of your real self.

You’re never as bad, nasty, stupid, ignorant, hopeless nor demented as you might think. No matter what degree of human imperfections you have–and we all have them—thus the reasons for therapies, laws, all kinds of depressions medications, prime time “fix me” shows, etc–you are, more than anything, a wonderful person with talents, humor, passion for love and creation and healing. There are projects you can create or become a strong part of the team that helps the rest of the world maintain and improve the qualities of kindness, compassion, decency and human equality regardless of gender, color and any other barriers built up by the wall makers. There is always a way to turn your negative feelings, negative circumstances and negative situation around to a forgiving and community supported positive pathway. Go for the Light, not for the Dark. Go for the Smile and not the Frown. Surround yourself with the positive, healing friends. The end of one beginning is start of another beginning. Grab all the beginnings you can.