Rainbow Babies

Gosh I could google things for hours. Pin a million quotes on an inspirational Pinterest board. Fantasize about a glorious rainbow at the end of a storm being a metaphor for my life. My stupid but beautiful life. I am so grateful for life and my daughter and my fiancé yet at the same time I am so angry at the utter bullshit we have been through. I sometimes wonder how I am 30 and how I got here. How is this my life? What the fuck happened the last 7 years? I have no idea.

I do know love. All consuming love of the little lady snuggling sound asleep next to me now. Of my fiancé – where we drive each other to the brink of insanity and back again…every day. But always back again. Then I know love that feels like it’s in a cage, in a glass case of emotion (thank you Anchorman). That I feel but is so very restricted. My beautiful husband, in heaven. My beautiful daughter, in heaven. Sharing pictures of them- feeling and knowing that I’m upsetting people. I don’t enjoy that my pictures and my stories and my words bring others to tears. My life, makes people cry and shudder to imagine it being theirs. Fearing my reality to ever be their reality. Let me breathe that in for a moment.

I love that people tell me how strong they think I am and how well I’m doing. I truly appreciate it yet could never agree. I’m a damn mess who feels absolutely robbed of my early adulthood. Half of me tries to soak it in, and be in the moment; the other half tries to shut out every last feeling, smile, tear, memory. Jekyll and Hyde. I swear. Each moment of my damn day. My mind is exhausting. I exhaust myself simply by waking.

I go back to an old post in which I said I’m not the same me. It’s funny, I spent my teenaged years straight hating everything about me (because what else are those years for if you’re an awkward, nerdy, self-conscious girl?). Now I would give anything to be that naive, mild mannered, unassuming, innocent kid with straight NO life experience. I’m good with life experience. Except maybe some happy fucking life experience. That’d be cool.

And even in saying that I know I have had plenty of happy life experiences. My parents may be divorced now but I had a perfectly happy upbringing by people who loved and still love me unconditionally. I have also been loved unconditionally by two loyal, loving, honest, hard working, beautiful men. Two. Some people never see the day once. And my daughters. My sweet babies. Nothing compares to the surge in my heart I feel when I hug Mackenzie or think of Elliana.

So I’m way far ahead of lots of people. My problems, on a worldly scale, are not even close to the largest. Not even on the same page of the largest, of the people who have it the worst. It’s easy to get lost in the bad things and ask, “Why me?”. But I have a roof over my head, money to pay my bills, a mind to think and grow, a strong and healthy body, and a house filled with love and laughter. I still don’t think it’s fair what happened to my sweet loves. I don’t know what kind of karma I caused to bring this upon myself. I don’t know if I believe in karma. I don’t know why. But bad things happen and that’s that. And every now and then REALLY bad things happen. And good things happen. Cmon good things. The REALLY good things.

Which brings me back to my title and original purpose of this post: rainbow babies. I can’t read about them, think about them, dream and plan for one enough. Ideally, Ryan gets his new job this summer, we fix a few things financially and emotionally, and try try try this fall. I’d love a May or June baby. A son. A little man of joy.

Then “Hyde” comes out and I freeze, say to myself ‘are you fucking nuts?!’ and run back into my safety net of life as it is.

I am thinking of creating a blog solely for our journey of deciding if we are having another baby. I may even share that with people I know and let them read it. Instead of writing the blog in practical anonymity, unbeknownst to anyone close to me. Jekyll: get your feelings out, share with those close to you so they know how and why you are the way you are. Share in the new possibilities, the journey and hopefully happy moments along the way. Hyde: don’t share shit. Then people will ask about it, or make stupid sentimental comments about it that you want to run away from (I only like emotions on my terms, from a distance). They’ll be in on it and what if you want to throw in the towel and it all falls through. Maybe I should name that side of me Debbie Hyde. Debbie (Downer) Hyde. Or the practical side Hyde.

Ugh. In my next life I want to come back as someone who is decisive, sure of herself, and confident in all she does. That’d be cool to know what that feels like.

Finding Other Widows

I wrote this today as I was full of emotion over tomorrow being Gold Star Wives day. Being a widow is not something I like to talk about (my late husband, sure, I could talk for days about him). But going through the days of his death and funeral and stumbling my way through 7 years after– that I could do without ever having a conversation about. However, just reading stories of other widows and hearing them put themselves out there, hanging out with and creating friendships with other widows and just realizing there are others going through the same emotions and inner turmoil – is oddly and backwardly comforting. Here is a haphazard attempt at putting all of those feelings into words. TY to all the widows I’ve met for inspiring me and showing me that through the worst of times, it is possible to be resilient, be amazing and truly blossom.

To know a heart can truly sink,
To hurt
To dream
To survive
To thrive
To fill your heart with love again
To lose
To find
To stumble
To know what it means to cry from your gut
To surprise ourselves
To screw it all up
To figure it all out
To realize we still haven’t
To wish everyone away
Then search high and low
For someone who might comprehend
Your pain and your mind and where it has gone or
The time in which you’ve
Gone crazy
Come back
Tried hard
Slept it all away
Given up
Recovered
Reinvented
Reimagined
A life you never thought you’d live
A title you’d never thought you’d have
When you wake up in a life you never dreamed of
A life no one dreams of
A reality too cold to talk about
Nevermind feel
But there it is
In your hands
In your heart
In your face
And you can’t escape
(I know you tried)
So you accept
So you struggle
So you cry
So you scream
So you kick and punch and curse the skies
So you fall to your knees and pray you find a way
Back
To the day before
That last day of life as you’d known it
In all its beautiful
Perfect
Imperfect
Peaceful
Chaotic
Innocent
Splendor
You can see it now
Like looking through a window back in time
Thinking if you could just run fast enough you’d beat the clock and be there again
With a smile on your face
Love in your heart
Your soulmate, your partner
Making mistakes, being human
But doing it together
Now this life will not allow it
Your heart will not heal
People will not stop going on with their lives
While yours has stopped forever
But it doesn’t stop
You haven’t stopped
You haven’t realized
But
You have changed
You have thrived
You have made it to the “other side” of grief
You are strong
You are real
You are a survivor
You are a new you
Like a baby giraffe whose legs are far too long for its body
(Because you know the analogy works)
You’re awkward
And unsteady
Where’s the manual?
How do I walk in these widow shoes?
Where do I walk?
Where do I go?
What do I do?
What’s the right thing to do?
What if I screw it all up?
Why does everyone care what I do?
Why are so many people watching?
When did my little humble life become a public one?
Why isn’t the one person who could help me through this not here anymore?
His opinion mattered
None of these opinions matter
I don’t even know my own opinion anymore
Who am I?
Pressure
Closure
Wonder
Shut it all out
Help me. Someone.
The one
Is gone
My soul
Hurts
Then you find another
Hurt soul
Broken heart
Funny
Smart
Resilient
Strong
Compassionate
Beautiful women
Missing their other halves
Their life loves
Their heroes
Their pasts
Their futures
Their hopes
Their dreams
Their men who went off to war
Doing a job most could never bear
Giving selflessly
Their lives
Their families
Their future
And their love
Women left to raise their children in their memory
Or to realize they will never hold that little piece of their husbands they so wish they had
But they hold onto that flame
That fire
That life inside
And they fight and claw their way into a life all are proud of
Shining a light
And offering hope
Wearing their hearts on their sleeves
To be healed
To heal others
To listen
To laugh
To cry
To have a dark widow humor
That frightens others
But delights those in the club
To know
To feel
To share
To reassure
And to hope.
To share your mistakes and successes with
Your feelings no one else would understand
When you ask a question and somehow
They understand
Wait.. You get it?
You’ve been there too?
I’m so sorry
Thank you
Thank you for showing me there is no right way
Just your own way
Your own timeline
Create it
Embrace it
And know
That it’s okay
It will be okay ❤️

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New Year, Same Me

January 14

Two weeks into the New Year. I’ve finally come out of my December fog — a mix of sugar coma from overindulgence in cookies and Oreo Balls, exhaustion from run on holidays and friend greetings & meetings, and a messed up sleep schedule because my daughter was on vacation so I never once woke up before 7 a.m., nor went to bed before 2 a.m.. But, mostly, that dreaded all-consuming grief spot crept up with a vengeance this year. Our daughter Elliana passed away December 17, 2010, and any and everything Christmas-y reminds me of her: the tree & its many butterflies & ladybugs for her, the Christmas blanket she was laying on in the oft-shared picture of her, Christmas cards and how the day she died was the day I was going to try to get her and her older sister Mackenzie’s picture together for ours that year. It goes on.

But, mostly it just sucks. The pain is different but just as fierce. The problem now is 4 years later no one expects it. No one thinks twice about it, or if they do I know they can’t grasp the true spectrum of the feelings and emotions. Some even, I know, whether they will admit it or not, think we should be ‘over it’ and somehow discredit our feelings at this point. Like when I say I hate Christmas and my birthday (December 18), the sideways glance and “hidden” roll of the eyes say we shouldn’t hate it anymore and should be back to “normal”. Which actually makes me happy for them, because it means they have never had a loss so close and so fierce to make them able to comprehend just how much our life is forever changed, and is never, ever going back to normal.

But, let me not dwell on Christmas, as it makes me want to go pour myself a stiff drink. Let me talk more on how I’m coming out of those shitty feelings and starting to get my mind and body back. But I’m still me. No real new year resolution,  no big goals or plans for the year: just me. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I always make a resolution. I am always introspective and thinking about what I can and should and direly need to change about myself. This year, however, I’m just trying to BE me. Fully. Completely. Enjoyably. Why do I have to change everything about myself? Am I unorganized? Sure am. Will I clear some clutter. Yup. Am I going to change my inner wiring to place everything exactly where it needs to be for the rest of this year, or even this week? Nope. So I’m going to stop trying.

Is that giving up? I don’t think so. If I keep speaking negatively of and to myself, then how am I going to stand up to anyone else who does the same? Oh, that’s right. I don’t. I never have. But I’m going to. I’ve already stopped doing things that make me uncomfortable, and stopped forcing myself into awkward situations where I have to be nice, and have to do the right thing, and have conversations I don’t want to. Result? Why is she being a bitch? What a bitch. You’re living in the past. Why can’t you just be happy for them/it/in general? What’s her problem?  No problem, here, just doing only the things I want to do. Everyone else can do it, so why not me?

Okay, I admit, even as I write that I STILL feel bad somewhere in my mind and in my soul that I may have hurt people’s feelings. I’ve been told on an occasion or two that I’m an empath, and truly absorb other’s feelings. So true. So annoyingly, fucking true. I want to be flippant. I want to REALLY not care when I’m trying not to care. Because God forbid I hurt someone else’s feelings when they do it all the time without a second thought or care in the world.  I’m taking a page out of their book and simply being me, regardless of how it affects or makes others feel.  If I’m unhappy, uncomfortable, aggravated or anxious, I’m going to go with my emotions and do or not do things accordingly.

My greatest source of anxiety is still babies and any/everything to do with them. Little pink frills, teeny tiny dresses, newborns, newborn smell, and the be-all, end-all Babies R Us. I hate them all. Okay I love the newborns themselves, but I hate being around them. I hate being around things that remind me of them, and this includes pregnant people and the babies themselves. Both of my sister-in-laws recently had babies and so I have been forcibly trying to desensitize myself to newborns. It resulted in me sleeping for over 11 hours yesterday. Sleeping/curling into a ball/fighting a mild depression.  I may have overdone it: 2 trips to Babies R Us, one home visit, and one visit to the same hospital where my babies were born was more than I could handle. My nephew is now almost 2 months old and is the sweetest little nugget man I’ve ever met. I actually love holding him: the first baby I’ve said that about in 4 years. PROGRESS! 🙂 But, I still have moments of sheer terror and panic when I’m holding him. Suddenly I flashback to holding my daughter after she passed. Is he breathing? I’m convinced he’s not breathing and I must check and recheck to make sure he’s not actually dead in my arms. He’s not. He’s fine. Ok. Continue the conversation with everyone like nothing happened. You’re a lunatic and no one will understand. Or you’ll scare the absolute shit out of his parents.

The images I have from that dreadful night are seared in my brain and I can’t get them out of it. I don’t know if you ever get over holding your lifeless child in your arms. My therapist has told me it’s PTSD. It has gotten significantly better, but it still takes everything out of me to be around babies, or at baby showers, or in baby stores. Every little onesie reminds me of the one she was in that night with little duckies on it. Every sippy cup and toddler dress reminds me of what got ripped from us and never had the chance to experience.  Every baby paralyzes me with fear that something may happen to them, and remind me just how fragile life is.

The first baby I held was my niece on my late husband’s side. It was almost exactly a year after my daughter died. I wanted to throw up the entire time and I’m pretty sure I did when I got home. I could barely look at her, my arms shook as I held her, my chest tightened, I couldn’t stop staring at her for fear she’d stop breathing. I couldn’t visit the hospital. In fact, the nephew born this year was the first baby I’d visited in the hospital in 4 years. It was the first time I felt I could go, and it was definitely very difficult. Ryan, my fiance, didn’t make the trip. He has many of the same anxieties and feelings I do, though he barely speaks of them.

All I know now is that every holiday, every family party from here on out WILL include babies. We had been only dipping our toes in the waters of baby desensitization. Now we’re out in the  middle of the ocean, wading and flailing as fast we can. Maybe this will be good, maybe we’ll have to take a step back. I don’t know, but I’m hoping it will give us a final push in deciding if we’re ready for a rainbow baby, or a baby after the loss of a child. We’ve wavered back and forth on how we feel about having another child, but I think we’re the most “ready” that we have been in the 4 years. I think this might be the true test. I’m not sure if it is a good or a bad thing that we’d been able to avoid babies almost completely for the first few years. But, now that we won’t be able to, maybe it will bring back that joy in us, that happiness and hopefulness. More to come on that idea, but the seed has been planted in our minds…Maybe this year will bring something new for us too.

ECF Christmas Blanket

Getting Healthy and Loving It

SO I haven’t posted in a while. But mostly because I have spent 100% of my energy into focusing on me, my family and our overall “wellness”. I have lost 12 pounds since I quit my job to do just that: FIX MYSELF. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. I have become healthier, stronger, and I feel better about  myself, where I am in life, where I’m going and what I’m doing. I know it’s only been less than 2 months, but I could not trade this positive vibe in for the world.  I have been drinking Shakeology, which is literally a superfood. It has helped my digestion, my energy (I haven’t taken a nap in WEEKS, when usually I dream about my next nap during my nap), and of course helped my weight loss. I was interested in it because I NEVER eat healthy, hate salads & most vegetables and knew I was missing out on all sorts of nourishment. But I never fully understood that nourishment. And now I do. It has changed my whole world around.

I’ve been exercising every day too – following the T25 at home DVD’s. Love them. 25 mins, BAM, done. That is something I can get behind 

I guess it’s true when they say exercising releases endorphins. I was at such a bad, negative, place in August. Now, in October, one my least favorite months of the year as it’s emotionally draining, and I feel better than I have in a few years. I am surrounded by positive people in the challenge groups I joined, and it really influences me to be more positive. I have helped bring others into this group and that means even more to me. To see them getting healthier and happier, makes me healthier and happier. My mom is in, 2 of my closest friends are in, my to-be mother-in-law is in. It’s amazing.

I feel like I have made a 180 in life. I wish I had a mountaintop I could SHOUT IT FROM. Haha. For now, I”ll just blog about it to anyone who might stumble upon this. Just when you think your path can’t get any worse, sometimes someone offers a hand and pulls you onto the road you’re meant to be on: the one to success, and confidence and health.

My wellness has rubbed off on my family wellness. I feel better about myself and therefore can BE BETTER. I am happy. I’m going to use this as a reference if I get off course in the future, and KNOW that i can be in a GOOD place, be HAPPY with myself, and move forward smiling and strong.

I am not the same

I mourn my old self. Myself on December 16, 2010, and every day before. But who I have been since December 17, that very next day, is a shell of her. I feel emotions, but not nearly as deep or freely. I smile and laugh but never without pain in my heart. It will be four years this winter, that we lost our sweet baby. It tears me up thinking of her, her name, her sweet face, her smile, her little fingers and little toes. Her innocence. Her cry. Her cooing. Holding her while she fell asleep.

I remember rocking her just a few days before she died. It was probably 1 or 2 a.m. and I sat there in her nursery, staring at her as she closed her eyes to fall back asleep. My sister in laws father had just died, and I was feeling overly sentimental. I hugged her and reminded myself just how lucky I am. How I wouldn’t take one single moment for granted because I knew how quickly things could change. And I meant that. Whole-heartedly. I thought God gave you trials to teach you something. If I knew the lesson already, why did this happen just a few short, precious “moments” (days) later.

I have accepted my different self. I don’t think many others have. Maybe because I’m only beginning to develop, learn about, and trust my new self. It is my new goal to not try to be my old self. I am no longer too much of a social butterfly. I am not the carefree, laid back one. I have to concentrate on positivity whereas before it flowed freely. Each day is a battle but I’m in it for the long haul.

Thoughtful Thursday

I took a nap this afternoon, thus leading to the torturous hours I’ve spent laying in bed now when I SHOULD be sleeping. Oh well, it was a warm, breezy summer afternoon and one fantastic nap. ☺️

Of course if I can’t sleep, I think of everything from hangnails to taxes. BLAH. I am also watching Giuliana Rancic (who I loveeee) on HSN. The clothes are way too fashion forward for me, but she cracks me up. She’s very inspirational with all she’s been through and just how happy and positive she always seems to be. I like positive people.

Just Having a Good Day

Today is day 2 of not working. I must say I have made a 150 degree turnaround in attitude and overall happiness. I’m not quite a 180 because there’s still a few things I need to get done to feel better. But, I, without a doubt have made the right decision. And it feels amazing. 

 

The first thing I did do was start to focus on my health. I am out of shape, and feel terrible all the time. I have always been an athlete and like to stay fit, so to be THIS out of shape makes me  . I started drinking my Shakeology again. These are super healthy shakes, packed with all sorts of good stuff I wouldn’t normally eat. I blend it with fruit, milk, and an assortment of things and they’re really good and keep me full for a WHILE. I also went for a 3 mile bike ride, which isn’t much, but was all I could handle to start out. I am going to go for a jog/walk later tonight. Shooting for 20 minutes but we’ll see where it goes.

My closest friend my entire life also drinks these shakes. She had recent health issues and this has helped her immensely to balance her nutrition, energy levels and overall well being. She is hooked! She also became a coach and has started selling the Beachbody products (shakes, fitness videos like P90X and Insanity, etc.). Funny enough, I spoke to her my last day on the job, on my ride home and she told me all about coaching and helping people reach their goals. I have thought about it over the last 2 days and I’m going to do that on the side with her, too. I can work from home and even if I made just a LITTLE bit of extra cash I’d be happy (but we are determined to really make it profitable and reach as many people as we can). I think the shakes are a great product, as I’ve drank them for a while now (on and off, whenever I felt like being healthy/not sufficiently lazy). So, now, maybe I can hold myself accountable for my fitness, while also joining in with others. 

I think any time I’ve tried to deal with my anxiety when it is at its highest, fitness and exercise ALWAYS made a huge difference. The endorphin release (I think that’s what it’s called?) during exercise really is amazing. It totally changes my mood & my attitude. I played sports my whole life (through college) so I never had to think about it. Now, it’s a struggle, but I hope this is the beginning of getting back on track. 

 

For now, I’m also trying to come up with fun stuff to do with my daughter in her last 2 weeks of summer. I feel like I missed the whole summer working. This was the first summer of her life that I worked. So, for me, it was very strange. Now we’re going to cram 10 weeks into two, while she still goes to camp. So far we have a water park trip scheduled (her unrelenting insistence made this possible),  one more trip to the beach, the science museum for a rainy day, swimming together at the Y, and a few more nature hikes (we went on one last week and she loved it). Oh, and one last summer cookout! 

I am in a good place. One month ago I was in a terrible, terrible place. I am hopeful for the next few months and just hope I don’t get overly ambitious and can focus on only the best things for me and my family. 

I EVEN went grocery shopping so that I, ME, I can make dinner tonight. I think my fiance fell on the floor when I told him. Let’s hope vomit doesn’t fall on the floor after eating what I make. 

 

 

One more day between me and freedom

One more day of work: 35 teenagers on a field trip, then 59 portfolios to score with torturous rubrics. After a hellish day today, I am sure tomorrow will be the final nail in ensuring that I have absolutely NO second thoughts about quitting. I am overjoyed that I am one day away. There is less than nothing making me want to stay and I’m glad I can walk away assuredly.

I have been at my job for 6 months now. I am good at it. I know I am successful and I appreciate that I can say that without feeling too overconfident. The problem is, instead, that I don’t like it. I don’t enjoy it. In fact it has been slowly snapping the threads of sanity I have holding me together. Maybe it’s not all the job’s fault. Maybe it’s me just coming undone for every other reason in life and I’m not gonna quit my family. Either way, I am grateful to be in a position where I can quit the traditional working world for a while and figure out where I really want to be, and what I want to be doing. Believe me, I get that the vast majority of people begrudgingly deal with shitty work environments because they have to just to survive and provide for their families. Ones far worse than where I am/ was. But, we’ll be in virtually the same position (Financially) with me staying home as we were with me working. So if I get no joy out of it, what’s the point??

I love helping people; I love working with pre-teen or teenagers; I love sharing knowledge, discussing ideas and emotions and feelings and thoughts. I love sports. I thrive on being organized but above all of this, I love being home with my daughter. I don’t want a full time commitment at this point in my life. I love that I was able to stay home with my daughter for so long and I’m not ready to give that up. I want to be there for everything and I’m going to do it while I can. There will be the day she doesn’t want me every moment of the day, doesn’t want to tell me everything or want me everywhere. While she does I will be there.

I don’t know if I am writing this to convince a potential reader of why I should stay home, or if I’m trying to convince myself. I have enjoyed not having to deal with the “ohh…” response to my “stay at home mom” status. I get the feeling people think I’m too stupid to hold a “real job” and therefore stay home. I think it’s quite the contrary – I’m focusing on my family’s emotional intelligence and stability above all else. Doesn’t sound stupid to me.

Where to next?

Today was my last official day of work. 

 

I am so happy I can hardly contain myself. I practically skipped out the door. I will miss the people I work with, simply because they are good, decent, fun human beings. But, I am so happy to figure out my next path. Side jobs I can do from home while harnessing my chi….No really, though. Focusing on organizing my home and my family. Our lives have been so chaotic for these past few years (or at least a good 18 months). I can’t keep track of a thing. Too overwhelmed. I hope I am making the right choice. If not, I at least left on a good note for a reference if I’m back somewhere begging for work again. 

I’m kind of pissed at myself that I spent 4 years going to school (part time) for my teaching degree. i just don’t know if I’ll ever be good enough to get in a classroom again. I don’t even ever want to interview again. I don’t like pressure, I don’t like negativity. And that is what it brings out in me.  I don’t think that’s where I will thrive. I work better in a team. And funny enough, my best friend recently started being a Beachbody coach,  helping people get fit online & selling Shakeology shakes. She is so impassioned, I am going to join her (I love Shakeology so have always thought about coaching, albeit never very seriously). She’s an accountant and just fabulous with money so if she thinks it’s a smart move, I would follow her anywhere! I am not making any decisions yet since it hasn’t even been 24 hours since the ink has dried on my freedom. But, I know already it is what I’ll be doing. And we can work together! I am really looking forward to that in the coming months. 

 

But first, centering myself. Have you ever felt that you were in so many places but not really anywhere you wanted to be? I was a solid worker who was pushing forth and giving my career all I had. Thus, I gave myself nothing. I can’t balance the two. I gained about 15 pounds (probably more but I won’t admit it), my anxiety is ALL OVER THE PLACE, I am a nasty person to my family, and I can’t be bothered with anyone else. All of my energy goes to working and I come home and am a pathetic excuse for a functioning human being. The worst part is knowing I am taking my stress out on my family. I know I should be able to pull myself up from the bootstraps and stop whining, but I just need to fix these things I absolutely hate about myself before I can do that. My career just wasn’t worth that to me. Maybe I’m a baby for not being able to suck it up and be better than that and balance it all, but I have to refocus my priorities. Before I went back to work I was in a good place. It had been over 2.5 years since my daughter died, and there were many times I thought I’d never do anything useful again. But I had done lots of work in getting my mind focused and in a healthy place. The last year+ has f*cked that all away. It’s time to retreat. 

 

I’m expecting some people I know to roll their eyes when I say I’m home again and I just don’t care. I can do it so I’m going to. I may be 30 and have worked less than some 17  year olds. Oh well, that’s my path I guess. What path can I take: helping people, but learning at the same time, being able to put my family first whenever I need or want to (aka make my own schedule),  being creative, and at the same time bringing in money. Hmmmmmmmm……………..So many options……Which one to try first?