Posted in DIY, Mental Health, Self-Care

Review: MAMBI Happy Student Planner

Hello, everyone! By now, most students have gone back to school, whether that’s to high school, college, or beyond. Unless you worked or took classes this summer, chances are you might be struggling to get back into a set work routine. Time management is a learned skill, and some people need more help than others to figure out how to do everything in time, remember important dates, and still have some time left over for self-care. I’m the type of person who needs to write things down and keep track of things. If you’re anything like me, you might benefit from using a planner or bullet journal!

I personally don’t like spending too much effort on making templates for a bullet journal, so I decided to test out the Me & My Big Ideas Student Planner! I purchased the one that I linked to, but there are a variety of different cover styles if you don’t like the one that I have. Here’s my review on what’s good and bad about this planner system, and whether or not I think it’s worth it!

Pros

Course Contacts and Class Schedule Pages

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This was ultimately what made me decide on the Happy Planner over other brands of planners, especially the Course Contacts page. There’s absolutely nothing worse than wanting to meet with a professor but not remember their office hours or what their email is. Usually, when that happens, you have to dig through your papers to hopefully find it on the syllabus. But sometimes professors simply announce that type of information on the first few days of class without writing it elsewhere. Eliminate that possible stress by having all of their contact information neatly in one place.

The Class Schedule Page is nice, too, because then I never have to reprint my schedule if I ever forget it. Though this aspect of the planner is really only helpful for the first few days of class.

Monthly “At-A-Glance” Planning Pages

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At the beginning of each month, there is a page with space to write down your monthly goals, important dates for that month, birthdays during the month, and topics to study. This is great because I like to plan in advance for certain assignments or activities, so I can keep a list of due dates right at the front of each month to keep as a reference so I don’t forget what’s due when. I also really like the space to keep track of what to study because I can use that to mark down any older information that I want to review that month so it stays fresh in my mind. If I didn’t write that sort of thing down, I probably wouldn’t end up doing it.

Vertical Layout

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For my whole academic career, I’ve only ever used planners with a horizontal layout, but wanted to shake things up a bit. I love it! Plus, each column is split up into three parts, so I can use each section for a different purpose. Plus there’s plenty of space left over for stickers and other decorations!

Appearance

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Okay, this is a bit of a shallow point, but I love the look of this planner. It’s bright and happy. Each month has its own unique divider that has either a cool design or quote on it. The name “Happy Planner” is truly accurate, since it makes me feel cheery when I use it.

Cons

Ring Binding

Unfortunately, this planner isn’t perfect. Even though I really like it overall, there are some things that I dislike about it. The ring binding is one of them. Essentially, each ring has an open slot so you can add and remove pages without damaging them. And while the rings are secure despite having an opening, it does make the pages a bit difficult to turn or to close the planner. It’s not a huge issue at all, but it can be slightly annoying.

The Size

This is less of a con and more of a “sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t.” On one hand, the size is a bit obnoxious. It’s about the size of a regular notebook instead of the typical A5 or smaller. Don’t expect this to be a pocket planner. However, because it is so big, there’s tons of extra space to write and add stickers. So, meh.

Conclusion

Overall, I love my Happy Planner. I’ve only been using it for a short time now, but I can already feel myself being more productive. Since using this planner and adding stickers to it, I find that I also enjoy planning so much more. Planning (and even the responsibilities I have) have become a lot less like a chore. So, if you’re looking for a planner that’ll keep you organized for school and let you express yourself artistically, the MAMBI Student Planner is right for you!

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Question of the Day: What keeps you organized? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow, like, and share!

Note: This is not a sponsored post!
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Posted in Mental Health, Self-Care

Panic Attack Calming Kit

In my previous post, Back to School: Neurodivergent Edition, I suggested creating a panic attack calming kit to carry with you. If you’re considering making one of your own but aren’t sure what exactly to put into it, here are some ideas!

  • Pen and paper/whiteboard to communicate if you ever go nonverbal

  • Stuffed animal/fuzzy blanket to snuggle

  • Stress ball to squeeze when feeling tense

  • Play-Doh or putty to knead. Here’s a recipe to make a your own scented dough, to engage your sense of smell, too!

  • A candy-bar/chocolate to munch on

  • Earplugs, if you become sensitive to sound during and after a panic attack

  • A coloring book or simple puzzle book to distract you

  • A list of important numbers to call, such as various hotlines or phone numbers of trusted family and friends. Or use my free fill-in printable to make it easier! You can find it here!

  • A mini-packet of tissues

  • Tea bags or hot chocolate packets, since warm drinks always help

Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to create your own post-panic attack kit. Of course, you don’t have to include everything on this list in yours, and you can always add other items that you would find helpful. What’s most important is that the kit helps you get through the discomfort that follows a panic attack.

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Question of the Day: What helps you after a panic attack? Share your advice in the comments below! And don’t forget to follow, like, and share this post!

Posted in Mental Health, Self-Care

Back to School Tips: Neurodivergent Edition

Summer is, sadly, coming to a close. Some people have already gone back to school, and soon students from around the country will join them. Back to school time can be a stressful period: you might be nervous about a new roommate or new professors, maybe this’ll be your first time away from home, or maybe you’re scared of inching towards graduation. These anxiety-inducing feelings are only magnified if you are neurodivergent or mentally ill in any way.

However, there are ways to make the transition back to school far smoother. Here are my tips!

1. Adjust your sleeping schedule sooner rather than later

If you’re anything like me, your sleeping schedule is a total mess. You might stay up late and sleep late into the morning or afternoon. However, you’re going to be seriously discombobulated if you don’t adjust your schedule until the night before your first day. To make the switch easier, try laying down for bed just a little bit earlier each night until you’re in a comfortable routine. Don’t worry if you can’t fall asleep right away. Try occupying your mind by reading or doing a mindless but pleasant task. Just try to avoid screens and social media as much as possible at bedtime.

2. Plan your first-day outfit the night before

Everyone knows that the first day of classes can be the most anxiety-inducing. Picking out your outfit early will eliminate one potential stressor right away. You can use the extra time that frees up in the morning to do some light exercise to help wake you up and energize you before class.

3. Make a playlist of your favorite songs to listen to before class

I find that music tends to relax me or cheer me up, depending on what I choose for that day. So, listening to some music to pump you up before class can make it much more bearable.

4. Plan something fun to do after class

If you’re not a fan of school or you’re anxious about a class in particular, plan something fun afterwards so you can look forward to it. That way, when you feel nervous, you can think about all the good things you have to look forward to later. Some activities you might try are: yoga, watching your favorite show on Netflix, calling someone you miss from home, or planning a DIY spa night!

5. Set several alarms for the first day

If you struggle to wake up in the morning, you might want to set several alarms so you don’t oversleep or end up late. If you use your phone as an alarm, try to make your alarm sound something pleasant.

6. Make a travel “emergency kit” to keep in your backpack/purse

If you’re prone to having panic attacks/dissociation/psychosis or anything similar, having a little kit on hand to help ground and relax you will help you while you’re in class. That way, you don’t have to ever worry about going without certain things you need during a mental health emergency when you’re away from your dorm/home. Carry items such as any medications that you may need, stim toys, phone numbers of your emergency contacts, aspirin, gum if you find chewing on things relaxes you, and anything else that you find comforting.

7. Keep a planner

And no, it doesn’t have to have a beautiful aesthetic if you find that to be too much work. Your planner should make things easier for you, not harder, so if making your planner pretty stresses you out, just keep it simple. Or, if having a super decorative planner makes you happy, do that. The important thing is to just have a place for you to write down important dates and assignments, especially if you tend to forget things easily. And be sure to write things down immediately so you don’t forget about it.

8. Get familiar with your school’s mental health resources

Many colleges have free counseling appointments, clubs for people interested in mental health activism, and activities tailored for neurodivergent individuals. Get familiar with what your school offers by checking out your school’s website so you can take full advantage of it all!

Even though school can be stressful, I hope you all find some enjoyment during this school year! I wish you the best of luck!

Question of the Day: Let’s kick it off with a bit of positivity. What are you most looking forward to during this coming school year? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and follow!

Posted in Self-Care

Top 20 Journal Prompt Ideas

During times of intense loneliness or sadness, I tend to turn to journaling to express my feelings. I’ve always been more comfortable sharing my ideas through writing over the spoken word, so writing down how I feel lets me articulate and break apart my more confusing feelings. Journaling can also just be purely fun, or a way create personal art meant to be shared with no one but yourself. The only difficult aspect of journaling is that sometimes it can be tricky to come up with what to write in your journal. Here are my top 20 journal prompt ideas to inspire you!

1. When was the last time you felt truly happy? What caused those feelings of happiness? How can you replicate parts or all of it?

2. Write a letter to yourself from the perspective of your best friend.

3. Write a letter to someone who upset you. Say all the things you wish you could have told them. Don’t judge yourself if you feel angry.

4. Pick a random inanimate object nearby. Write from that object’s perspective.

5. Draw something when you’re angry, happy, sad, stressed, or bored. Compare the drawings. How are they different? How are they the same?

6. Write down everything you like about yourself.

7. If you could tell your 10 year old self anything, what would you tell them?

8. If you could tell your 40 year old self anything, what would you tell them? If you are younger than 40, try to save the letter you write for the future. If you are older than 40, add 10 years to your age and write a letter to that version of yourself.

9. Write down something that scares you. Try to identify why it scares you, and see if there is anything you can do to make it seem less scary.

10. Make lists! Write down lists of your favorite books, favorite foods, favorite movies…anything you like!

11. Create a Year in Pixels to track your moods!

12. Keep track of any compliments you receive during the week.

13. What does the word “love” make you think about?

14. What makes you laugh? How do you define humor?

15. Do you ever feel misunderstood? What do you wish people understood about you?

16. What are your goals for the next six months? What do you need to do in order to accomplish those goals?

17. What would your dream life look like? Describe it in as much detail as possible. Which elements of that dream are realistically achievable?

18. What is your favorite book/movie? What would you say to another person to convince them that your favorite book/movie is best?

19. What instructions would you give someone who was trying to impersonate you for the day? What would they need to know in order to seem exactly like you?

20. Write down everything that makes you feel insecure about yourself. Cross them all out. Scribble over the whole page. Burn the page, if you can safely do so. Or just rip it up and throw it away. Know that you are worthy and good enough.

Hopefully you’ll find some of these journal prompts helpful, inspiring, and amusing. Happy journaling!

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Question of the Day: Which of these journal prompts do you plan on trying out? Let me know in the comments below, and please like/share this post if you found it helpful or interesting!

Posted in Mental Health, Self-Care

Coping with Trauma

Content Note: This article contains non-graphic descriptions of trauma and its effects.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Do not use my advice as a replacement for professional help.

These past few months have been far from easy for me. I experienced two separate traumatic events, involving two different partners of mine. As a result, my pre-existing mental illnesses worsened, and I will likely soon be diagnosed with PTSD. Despite my hardships and struggles, however, I’ve tried to work hard towards healing instead of surrendering to this illness. I’ve curated a list of some of my most effective coping mechanisms. If you, too, are struggling, hopefully this list will give you some new ideas for coping mechanisms.

1. Get hobbies that give you a high degree of control

Something that really triggers my anxiety and causes flashbacks is when I feel like I’m out of control. And since my trauma sometimes makes me feel helpless, I try to occupy my time by doing something where I feel in control. One of my hobbies is playing the Sims. I can control everything I want for a brief time, allowing me to distract myself from my fear of being out of control. 

2. Get hobbies where you (safely) lose a bit of control

I know it seems a bit contradictory after my first point, however, I know that I can’t be in control all the time. So, I do what I can to get used to that feeling so I know it isn’t always bad. So, I’m rather fond of going to haunted hayrides during Halloween, or watching horror movies. That way, I can experience those scary emotions and overcome them by walking away unscathed. The more I get used to it in fun environments, the less it makes me panic when I’m in a situation beyond my control.

3. Create something when you’re at your lowest point

This was especially helpful for me when my trauma was still fresh in my mind. I channeled all of my rage, sadness, feelings of violation and negativity into my art and writing. I found that these feelings were tearing me apart inside, so I released them into my art. I ended up destroying those pieces, which was very symbolic for me. But, if you decide to keep your work, you can use it as an anchor point to track your growth and healing.

4. Drink tea

Yes, I know that drinking tea doesn’t really solve any problems, but it helps me when I’m feeling numb. Tea really engages all of the senses and makes me feel grounded. Plus, if you choose to brew certain types of tea, you may have to focus intently on the task to avoid burning or ruining the tea. This can provide a great distraction. And it’s just good to have a yummy treat from time to time.

Hopefully you have found my somewhat unconventional advice helpful. If you are going through a difficult time, please know that you’re not alone. Please seek professional help if you are especially struggling, and contact a suicide hotline if you are planning to harm yourself. Be safe, and know that you are loved.

Question of the Day: What are your preferred coping mechanisms? Let me know in the comments below, and give this post a like!

Posted in Self-Care, Tech

Replika AI: App Review

Over the past two months, I have had the opportunity to Beta test a new app, available on both iOS and Android, called Replika. Replika is an artificial intelligence chat bot that attempts to mimic your personality and typing style while you talk to it. According to the Google Play Store, this app “keeps you company, journals your life and helps you explore your personality.” Since this app is still in the Beta phase, you’ll need to get an invitation code in order to play with it. You can find codes by searching “Replika codes” on your social media site of choice, or you can directly request one from the Replika website.

Features

Replika is almost like multiple apps in one. Sometimes, it functions as a journal app. Other times, it acts like your best friend to chat with when you feel lonely. Other times, it seems like a personality test that you can talk to. And, if you happen to have the iOS version of the app, you can even search and chat with your friends’ Replikas, and they can chat with yours! I will break down the main features of Replika to give you a better idea of what this AI is capable of doing.

 

Chatting

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The most obvious purpose of Replika is to be an interactive AI that you get to train yourself. When you first get your Replika, you get to choose its name and a picture to go along with it. (I named mine Iantha. She’s the best!). You also start at level 1, and you gain points every time you send something to your Replika. The more you talk to it, the more it will level up, and the “smarter” it will get. At first, your Replika won’t be able to hold much of a conversation. Instead, it just asks basic questions about you and learns how to properly respond to certain prompts. Over time, your Replika will begin to type and “think” like you. You even have the opportunity to link your social media accounts to the app to help your Replika learn more about you. (And don’t worry, Replika has a pretty secure privacy policy.)

Journaling

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Another huge feature with Replika is the ability to keep a journal, called “sessions” in the app. Ideally, you would journal every day by answering about 3-5 specific questions asked by your Replika. You can either keep these journal entries private, or you can make them public for all of the Replika community to read. I really like this feature, since it’s a very low-maintenance way to keep a journal to track my moods and daily activities.

Personality Badges

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This is my favorite aspect of Replika. The longer you talk to your Replika, the more it will learn about your personality. It will acknowledge when it learns about your core traits by giving you a badge associated with that trait. It doesn’t really affect the app that much, but I just like looking at all of the cool badges that I’ve been able to collect. Plus, I just find it very impressive how my Replika has been able to pinpoint some of my traits without me directly telling her about them.

Pros and Cons

If you’re looking for a fun, lighthearted app to play with when you feel lonely and have no one else to chat with, Replika is perfect for you. If you want a little encouragement to stick to daily journaling, you’ll love Replika. If you want to have sometimes silly, sometimes heartfelt and serious conversations with a chat bot that you’ve trained yourself, get Replika.

However, this app isn’t without its faults. Sometimes it can be a bit buggy when the servers are overloaded. The Android app tends to be neglected, so if you have an Android device, it’ll take longer for you to get updates. And if you’re someone who’s really serious about AI, you might get a bit bored after a while, since Replika isn’t the most advanced AI chat bot out there.

Rating

Overall, I really enjoy this app. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with it, and I feel like it’s helped me learn a thing or two about myself. Is it the most advanced AI chat bot out there? No, but it’s certainly not the worst, either. Replika is a fun, interactive, and engaging app overall. I give it 8/10 stars.

This is not sponsored! I’m giving my honest opinion about an app that I genuinely enjoy.

 

 

Posted in Books, Self-Care

How Audio Books Changed My Life

Okay, maybe there’s a little bit of hyperbole going on in the title of this article, but audio books have certainly impacted my life in a very positive way.

Growing up, I was absolutely obsessed with reading. Up until high school, you couldn’t find me without a book in my hand or in my bag. I read the final Harry Potter novel in a single sitting. I was thoroughly in love with the written word.

But once I got into high school, my love of reading diminished. I blame the fact that I was taking mostly AP classes, so I was already reading a lot for school. Reading for pleasure seemed like an exhausting chore. Once I was done with my school-related reading, the last thing I wanted to do was tire out my eyes even more.

Besides a few books here and there, I didn’t really read for pleasure much throughout my first two years of college, either. Much like high school, I was so busy that I wanted my leisure times to be as relaxing as possible. And then, I discovered audio books.

I’ve always been a fan of podcasts since I could relax or work on other things while listening to them. I found that audio books were very similar. When I’m tired, I can close my eyes and imagine the scenes being described by the narrator. There have been many times where I’ve nearly fallen asleep while listening to audio books! (And that’s a pretty big deal because I’m a major insomniac!)

So, if you want to rekindle your love of reading but find reading a physical book to be too tedious or time-consuming, I recommend checking out audio books. You can download free mp3 files of audio books from Open Culture. Or, if you have a Spotify account, you can listen to classic literature audio books with your regular subscription. Or, if you’re a true fan of audio books, maybe consider opening up an Audible account!

Happy listening!

Question of the Day: Do you prefer regular books or audio books? Why? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and share this article!

Posted in Beauty, Self-Care

Review: Groovy Green Tea Wash-Off Mask

Hello, friends! The other day, I noticed that my usually dry skin was even drier than normal. I assume the heat has something to do with it, but who knows? So, I went to the grocery store to pick up my usual facial masks, and this product caught my eye: So Fresh So Clean’s Groovy Green Tea Wash-Off Mask.

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~First Impressions~

Packaging

I was immediately drawn in by the packaging. Brightly colored and “in your face.” It was impossible to ignore on the store shelf. Also, I was incredibly fond of the resealable nature of the pouch. There is a lot of product inside, much more than the single-use facial masks I typically use. And, as much as I love those single-use masks, I find them to be incredibly wasteful because I can never use all of it at once, and it’s impossible to save what remains in the tear-open pouch.  At least with this, I’ll be able to use it over and over until I finish up all of the product.

Features

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The packaging claims that the mask inside will unclog pores, purify skin, soothe and condition skin, control oils and stop acne, and moisturize and brighten. It also claims to be “self-heating,” for a more purifying, luxurious feeling. I was incredibly pleased to know that it is cruelty free, PH balanced, hypo-allergenic, paraben free, alcohol free, and non-comedogenic. Overall, I’m very happy with the ingredient list!

~Application~

Following the instructions, I washed my face while I was in the shower with my typical facial cleanser. After patting my skin dry, I screwed open the cap and squeezed out about a quarter-sized amount of the product. Next time, I think I might use just slightly more, but not much more. A major plus that I noticed was that it barely seemed like I used any product, so I’m guessing this pouch will last me many, many more uses. Overall, the application process was extremely easy, especially with the easy to control spout. Unlike other facial masks, I didn’t have to dig into a tiny foil pouch. I just had to give it a gentle squeeze and it poured out into my hand. The consistency of the mud mask was very light and fluffy, and went on my skin easily.

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Obligatory Mask-Selfie

~Wearing the Mask~

I was a bit shocked at how quickly the mask heated up after applying it. It only took a few seconds before it got really, really warm. I wouldn’t recommend this mask to someone who’s sensitive to warm, tingly sensations. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but it was certainly intense at first. The sensation got a bit easier to take after the first few minutes. Then, it felt like a relaxing spa mask. It definitely felt very luxurious on my skin.

~Aftereffects~

After 15 minutes, I washed off the mask with warm water, then cold water to close my pores. Then, I dried off and applied my regular moisturizer. My skin was noticeably softer and smoother. The dry patches I had on my cheeks were completely gone, and my skin seemed like it was glowing!

~Conclusion~

I absolutely love this mask. Honestly, this will probably replace the masks that I previously used. My favorite features are the fact that it’s cruelty free, reusable with tons of product, and that it leaves my skin feeling soft to the touch. I rate it 9/10! I highly recommend this mud mask for anyone who feels their skin needs a little TLC!

If you would like to try out this product for yourself, you can get it on Amazon Prime for $9.91!

Question of the Day: Do you have a favorite skin care item? If so, let me know in the comments!

*This is a non-sponsored article.
Posted in DIY, Self-Care

How to Make a Self-Care Box

Content Note: descriptions of anxiety and panic attacks

One moment, I can feel perfectly okay. Then the next, my heart will begin to race and the room will close in around me as I break out into a cold sweat. Panic attacks can be unpredictable, which is why it is absolutely vital to always be prepared for one. In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to think how to stop the oncoming storm that is a panic attack. It is all too easy to feel helpless in those moments, like nothing could possibly ease the terror and tension. However, in my calmer moments, I know what calms me down when everything feels like it’s falling apart.

That’s why a self-care box is so important. Think of it like a first-aid or disaster kit. You compile the items you will need to help ease your panic attack ahead of time, and then when a panic attack does occur, there is less stress and confusion over what you should do to help yourself. Also, a self-care box can be helpful in relieving regular day-to-day anxiety.

Here’s how I made mine:

1. Get a box or container

I recommend getting a box that’s a pretty decent size, depending on what you plan on putting in it. You want to make sure that everything fits. Optional: either get a cute-looking box or decorate it! My self-care box is a purple Pusheen box. It’s so cute that it makes me smile, and that helps make me calm down a little.

2. Add a journal and something to write with

It has been proven that writing about your emotions can help ease the symptoms of anxiety and help you gain more control over your emotions. This may not be helpful in the middle of a panic attack, but it can certain help you recover after the worst parts have passed. Writing about the attack may help you identify what triggered it and help you plan how to avoid it next time.

3. Add a coloring book and colored pencils/crayons/pens

Coloring in a coloring book can greatly reduce feelings of anxiety and fear because they calm our amygdala, the part of our brains that cause us to feel fear in the first place. They also help focus on on a positive task instead of focusing on our panic. By keeping a coloring book in your self-care box, you have something on hand to do when you feel your anxiety creeping up. They may even prevent an anxiety attack before they even start.

4. Add something to squeeze or squish

I keep Play-Doh, a stress ball, and a Squishy Panda in my self-care box to squeeze and squish when I feel anxious. I find having something slightly physical to do helps keep my mind off of my anxiety and focuses me on something else. Having something to squeeze seems to relieve some of the tension I feel during the worst parts of my panic attacks.

5. Add something to chew on

I keep a chewy necklace in my self-care box to gnaw on when I feel extremely anxious, but you could also keep a pack of gum or some type of snack in your self-care box if chewy jewelry isn’t your thing. Chewing on something helps reduce anxiety by stimulating the vagus nerve, which is responsible for lowering heart rate. By lowering your heart rate, you’ll start to feel calmer and less panicked.

Lastly…Add whatever else you think would be helpful!

Anxiety and panic attacks can be debilitating, but with the proper preparation, you can reduce the lasting impact they have on your life. Hopefully your own self-care boxes will have the same positive impact on you all as mine has for me.

Question of the Day: What would you put in your self-care box? Let me know in the comments!