Ask Amy – Why Do We Include Men?

A note from Amy, about Ask Amy…

Tribe of Women unofficially started in 2014 after my TEDx Talk “I Believe in Tribes of Women” after which I started digging deeper and asking YOU the question – “Why do we need tribes of women?” I knew what it meant to me, but I wanted to know what it was (or wasn’t) for you. A couple of years later, I started Tribe of Women, and now here we are! During the time I have been asking questions, I’ve also been gathering answers. “Ask Amy” is based on your common (and ongoing) questions, and mine. These answers are a culmination of where we have arrived on this journey. Together.

How or Why do we include men in conversations about equality?

Yup. This is one of the common ones! People are attracted to and intrigued by “Tribe of Women”. If they don’t know much about us, I get questions like: 

  • “Men want to help as well. Why don’t you include us?”
  • “If women have their own spaces/meetings/clubs, why can’t men?”

If they do ask, “Oooo. What’s that!?” and I say, “We build cultures of women supporting women and more good men”, it doesn’t take long for:

  • “Why would/do you include men in Tribe of Women?”
  • “Why should we include men when we have been excluded for so long?”

I want to begin by referencing a few of my favorite good men organizations. One of the things that men have to face again and again is, “The Man Box,” the stereotypes of what a man should or shouldn’t be. There’s a wonderful organization called Catalystfocused on “workplaces that work for women”. Some of their research addresses the man box as part of the equation of inequity and inequality. And I agree! The stereotypes of what a man should or shouldn’t be are just as limited as who we should and should not be as women. Another organization started by a good man, Tony Porter, is “A Call to Men. “ It began after his TED Talk and works to break down the components of a “man box” and help men break free of it.

So, “why do we (Tribe of Women) include in men in conversations about equality?” Like many-a powerful thing, it begins with my favorite F word – Feminism. Feminism, despite its name, is not just for my fellow “females”. Feminism is for everyone, because feminism is about choice. That’s right. We don’t want to be in a box about whether we go to work or stay home, wear pants instead of a skirt (it was not so long ago, ladies), or become a doctor instead of a nurse. When women have this choice without judgment, it opens up the door for men to have choices as well (without being called “m-urses” for, pity’s sake).

Not that long ago, there was no choice in this matter. Women stayed home, and men went to work. You didn’t hear about “stay-at-home dads.” Remember the 80’s film “Mr. Mom”? A comedy about a man staying home with the kids. It was a comedy, of course! Who’d ever heard of a man taking care of home and family!? Haha!!!… That was only 30 years ago, friends.

Yes, AND

When I’m asked about the exclusivity of a group of men or women coming together, I say, “Yes, and.” And what I mean by that is – Yes, women need safe places to connect and empathize with one another, to put it all on the table so we can deal with it. As Michelle Obama says, “Women straighten each other out on some things,” – that’s what those safe places for women are there for – a place where we can sort out our mess and work through it. The problem seen is a problem solved.

Now for the men, I want to finish that quote from the lovely Michelle, “Women straighten each other out on some things… But y’all (men) need to go talk to each other about your stuff. Talk about why you are the way you are.” So Yes, women need exclusive places to sort things out, And, men should do the same! Get together and sort out your stuff as well. Yes, we need exclusivity in some respects, And, we need to continue coming together because it is in our time together where we build empathy, compassion for one another.

I think it’s very important that women have places where we can be exclusive and talk about things that only women have to deal with. Women need places to work out our stuff and figure out how to navigate and support one another, and men do too. Men need to have spaces where they can discuss the “man box,” talk about paternity leave, showing emotion, and being partners, fathers, men in the world. Then, we can come together, feeling confident and comfortable sharing our whole selves. (Have you seen Man Enough”!? That. Do that!)

Tribe of Human

Ultimately, when I get asked specifically about why “more good men” is a part of our mission statement, it’s because our vision is Tribe of Human: a tribe that listens to one another and cooperates through empathy, sympathy, and compassion. At Tribe of Women, our goal is to create places where women can be fully themselves. And that means men can be fully themselves, too. One of the things we say a lot is that when we celebrate good men (when we see it, point it out, and cheer it on), there will be more. We include men in our conversations about equality because women finding our place at the table does not mean pushing men out. We include men in our conversations about equality because it’s through these conversations that men and women alike will find a way to share who we are, empathize, show compassion and get one step closer to our ultimate goal – Tribe of Human.

I still have questions! And I bet you do, too. Please send them directly to me at amy@tribeofwomen.modthink.net with “Ask Amy” in the subject line and we’ll keep the conversations going. Together.

Love Your Tribe – Get 1 & Gift 1

We feel so loved, and we have YOU to thank!

A few months ago, the Tribe of Women team spent the day in one of our favorite retail shops in our hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas – Handmade Market. Owners Shannon and Bryan Gott have been supporters of our mission and vision since the very first sparks of the movement started to fly, and we were thrilled to have our inaugural retail merchandise available in their shop throughout the month of February, which we have dubbed “Love Your Tribe” month.

Love Your Tribe event at Handmade Market | TribeofWomen.com

Our first batch of Love Your Tribe t-shirts arrived from our sponsor Wildheart Printing just in time  to be premiered that month, and we were tickled to hear that you love them as much as we do. Now, the shirts are for sale online on our website, under our Shop tab!

Thanks to our partnerships with Arcade Coffee Roasters and Savageann products we were able to promote our “Get 1 Gift 1” motto. Handmade also has some of their regular merchandise priced to inspire the desire to get one for yourself and gift one to your tribe.

Love Your Tribe event at Handmade Market | TribeofWomen.com

During our open house at Handmade, love busted out all over in the back room. We covered a couple of tables with paper and stickers and assorted supplies and encouraged anyone who wanted to get their craft on to make cards for their tribe. We love the conversations that happen when women come together – some who know each other, some who don’t – and get busy making.

Love Your Tribe Recap | TribeofWomen.com

So, thank you so MUCH to everyone who was part of this first foray into the retail world and bringing Tribe of Women swag to market. If you are a retailer or creator that would like to do retail partnership or events with us, please contact us at info@tribeofwomen.modthink.net.

Just want to stay in the know about new products, get coupon codes, and be entered to win gifts from us when you Join THE Tribe and our newsletter.

We love our tribe. And thank you for loving us RIGHT BACK!

Holidaze – How To Fill Your Cup During the Holiday Season

‘Tis the season! There is nothing like the holiday spirit to energize. . . and exhaust you. While the cooler weather, twinkling lights, and hot cocoa mugs inspire list making, envelope licking, cookie baking, and guest room scrubbing, it also takes a lot away from – or completely obliterates – any time we have to fill our own cups. Often, by the time the celebration days arrive, we’re lost in a fog of package tracking, family finagling, late night wrapping, decoration debates, and – admittedly – too much cookie dough testing.

holidaze-fill-your-cupFill Your Cup

When we’re not really mentally, physically, or emotionally “ourselves”, we’re left with two choices: 1) Put on the ugly sweater and a smile, drink up some egg nog, and get through it; or 2) stay in our PJ’s, say that we’re sick, and secretly watch “How to Get Away with Murder” on your phone under the covers while everyone enjoys the spoils of your labor in the other room.

Here are some ways your fellow Tribe shared for filling your cup during the holiday season so you can enjoy these last weeks of the year!

The gift of time

“I like to spend time with old friends when everyone comes back into town from their different colleges. People from my high school graduating class have an annual “white elephant” party and, even though everyone is now scattered across the country for college, jobs, etc., we all make time for each other during the holiday season. These are the people who have helped shape me into who I am and it’s so important to keep contact with old friends.” Lauren

“We get together for game night.” Nicole

“We have a lot of houses that put up light displays for the holidays. I’ve met friends at a coffee shop to get cocoa, then we all get in one vehicle and look at lights and chat for an hour or so. It was fun!” Anne

The gift of food & drink

“I bake with my daughters, and enjoy a cookie exchange one of my friends hosts every year.” Laurie

“Cookie swap.” Jill

“Cookie swap!” Melissa

“Progressive meal (one place for apps, one place for main course, another place for dinner).” Summer

The gift of self-careholidaze-gifts

“‘There are consequences to being highly productive.’ This is by far the hardest thing for me to remember and keep in balance. This time of year it gets almost impossible. So here is everyone’s reminder: take care of you. It will make you better at taking care of those around you. I know its hard to reconcile, but it will also, shock and awe, make your life more enjoyable. Yes, even more than all the laundry being done or the movies being sorted into genres. The struggle is real, but it’s worth it.” Kristin

“I think a walk and talk is fun!” Jaqueline

“Take a hike! Seriously, that’s my favorite way to connect with friends these days.” Melanie

“Sometimes an opportunity to visit with people you like without the burden of bringing something, buying something, making something, or in some way having to be clever, is just too much. How about a simple shout out for a fun happy hour somewhere?” Angie

The gift of new & old traditions

“I like to create new traditions for my family and work around others schedules so I can see them and be with them and not compete with stress. My family and I created a seasonal event we call “pumpkin chunkin”- each family group builds a trajectory machine and sees how far it will throw a pumpkin. It’s so much fun. It’s okay to be non traditional and to be who you want to be for the reasons that you believe.” Loray

“I’m having girls over for an ornament exchange this weekend.” Jill

“Invite [friends] to a craft making session at your house! I have a friend who picks 1 craft and has supplies enough for everyone and then has them over and each person brings cookies or drinks or appetizers.” Monica

“Always have a jigsaw puzzle going. People can’t help gravitating to it.” Dede

“What about an old fashion telephone call?” Patricia

How do YOU tribe?

What are some ways you fill your cup, keep end-of-year stress away, or take time to take care of you? Share your thoughts in the comments. We love hearing from you!

Why Is Happiness a Trap!? – September Book Club

 

The Happiness Trap, was recommended to me on a girlfriend walk-n-talk. My friend is the most grounded person I know. She started practicing meditation in her 30’s, during a patience-trying divorce, and after a period of life where she had two babies, lost her mother to cancer, and was on the high pressure tenure track in academia. In other words, girlfriend needed a break! And she found it through meditation.

A “What am I thinking?” Workbook

As she was describing this book to me, she said, “I’ve been practicing the art detachment and acceptance for over 10 years, and while I practice meditation, I only felt like I really understood it after reading this book. It’s like a ‘what am I thinking?’ workbook!” That comment recalled for me a recent conversation with my daughter who is nineteen and navigating the brave new world of young adulthood. We both go to therapists and were having a discussion on the process of psychotherapy that they practice. “Sometimes I just wish there was a workbook.” I said. “Yes!” she said. “Just show me the map. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Am I doing this therapy thing right?'”

Happiness Trap CoverI would not trade my therapist for a book, but I do sometimes need a little more insight into why I’m doing what I’m doing. So, if you’re also wishing there was a workbook, here it is. The Happiness Trap. Written by Russ Harris, this book is based on Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT). In the foreward, Dr. Steven Hayes lays out the reality that we have a perception that happiness is a constant state, and equates some of the methods we use to “get” happiness to that of drug users or addicts because we are “trying to hold something in place” or get a “fix” on our happiness and sustain it infinitely. It makes me think of the U.S. Constitution and the phrase “the pursuit of happiness”. It does not say “attain happiness”. Yet, here we are, as a society, doing everything we can to get this fix – capture, trap – on happiness. In the process, “we engage in behavior that is the exact opposite” – shopping, relationship dependence, control of things or people. To avoid this trap, ACT helps us understand “how mindfulness, acceptance, cognitive defusion, and values can release us from it.”

Self-awareness, Self-kindness, & Self-love

Tribe of Women is founded on three pillars. I see you (accepting yourself and others), I hear you (connection and relationships), and I feel you (leading yourself and others). This book falls solidly under “I see you” and is our September Goodreads Book Club choice because we deeply believe that “to love others, you must first love yourself”, and how we treat and what we say to ourselves manifests into how we treat those around us. If self-knowledge through deep self-listening leads to self-awareness, self-kindness, and self-love, then The Happiness Trap might be a good place to start.

ToW Book Club - SeptemberLet’s journey through this book together! Join our Goodreads Community – Tribe of Women. We’ll touch base throughout the month and host a scheduled online discussion on September 29th at 7pm CST.

Author Amy Reeves Robinson is the Founder of Tribe of Women

 

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I’ll Meet You There – Remembering Pakistan

“It will likely take me months to capture all of my thoughts about my journey to Pakistan. . .” These were the opening words of the blog post I wrote 3 years ago on the airplane, just hours into our journey to the country that would change the course of my life. Months to capture my thoughts? Try years. Maybe a lifetime.

Three Years Ago

We spent twelve incredible days working with entrepreneurs in Islamabad and Karachi as part of the first Pakistan Start-up Cup in 2013. Today, this entrepreneurship competition has not only grown, but helped seed the first women’s entrepreneurship WECREATE Center in the world that is now also in Zambia, Kenya, and Vietnam. After returning from the trip filled with eye-opening and world expanding people and events, I found it harder than expected to process, much less express, all that I felt, thought, and experienced. So, instead, I lived it.

Pakistan 2013“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there. . .” ~ Rumi

Meeting and connecting with the women of Pakistan was both affirming and ground shaking. Yes, we were the same. We had many of the same dreams, challenges, ambitions, insecurities, and confidence. Although we were different in our experiences or stages in life, when we opened ourselves to exploration and finding our connecting points, and stepped into the instinctual ritual dance of reaching out and reaching back to one another, only our common ground remained. And this became the new lens of my life.

“I believe. . .”

My business coaching model already focused on women owned businesses, and I expanded that to include conference speaking and group talks. Only now, instead of speaking to what I “knew” about women and business, my journey to Pakistan had me curious about what I didn’t know, and my talks became conversations.  An invitation to speak at the local TEDx came and I was asked to consider speaking about international entrepreneurship in the context of the “mind shift” theme. I wandered back and forth between the series of paths I could go down, and every road lead to an essay I’d written years before that “I believe in tribes of women…” My time with Shehneela, Munuwara, Binish, Anam and others had me unable to ignore the evidence that the power of women connecting was not “just me”, just my experience, or just my story, and that the mind shift that needed to occur in our world was that women supporting women can change the world.

Tribes of Women

I keep in touch with some of the women from my journey to Pakistan, but not as often as I like. I hope to see them again one day. In the meantime, I exist knowing that, just as it always is with tribes of women, they are out there cheering for me, as I am for them. If I need them, they will be there, as I will be for them. Because, tribe is not something we’ve ever been without, it’s simply something we have to remember is there, and return to it.

“. . . When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.” ~ Rumi

Author, Amy Reeves Robinson, is the founder of Tribe of Women

 

“I am here!” – Believing In Our Daughters And Ourselves…

We took this series of photos of our little one way back when you had to print photos to see the results. And what results they were! She is wearing her favorite pj’s with her fuzzy pink slippers, she is 3 yrs old, and she is ready to kick butt! She is declaring, “I am here!” Yes you are. And I see you.

We were all this little girl at some point in time.

We’ve all had this moment. Whether it was fiercely in front of a camera, or privately in a room in front of a mirror. It’s in us, and up to all of us to see and appreciate it in each other.

Especially in our daughters.

Whether you’re a mother, or a sister, or an auntie, or a friend, you have seen this in a little girl you love. This sparkle, this joy, this spirit, this watch-out-world declaration. This here-ness. And if you’re a mother, or a sister, or an auntie, or friend you’ve also seen what the world can do to dim that light, to curb that joy, to dampen that spirit, and quiet that voice. It can happen right in front of us or out of our view, and when it does, it is up to us to be the keepers of these memories, these moments, so we can pull them out, hold them up and say, “Hey. You’re still in there. I see you. And I’m here.” until they find the strength to come out kicking again. And they will.

Believing in our daughters, sisters, friends.

It is not the easiest job that we have on this journey together as a tribe. It’s one of the hardest. Mostly because it requires us to take a look at ourselves. Our curbed joys, our quieted voices… and to find them again. The beauty of it is that we can do it together, side by side. We don’t have to have it all figured out before we sit beside, walk with, or listen to each other. We all have wisdom in experience, triumphs, and mistakes to share, and any mother, sister, auntie telling you she has it all figured out is delusional. We don’t. I don’t. But we don’t have to in order to be a few steps ahead, reaching back, taking a smaller, younger, less experienced hand in ours and walking it together.

So, to all of us mamas, sisters, aunties, and friends loving on the little girls kicking ass in fuzzy pink slippers, hold on to those pictures. They’ll need to be reflected back to them some day. And to those who are sitting beside and walking with those who are struggling, pull those pictures out and let them know that you see them in all there glory, every day. Even on the hard days.

And when they’re ready, we will also see them come out kicking!

The Picture – Reflections of Ourselves to Ourselves

My first apartment was in downtown Denver. It was maybe 600 square feet in a 1920’s building with a shared thermostat and no dishwasher. It did have beautiful wood floors, intricate molding, a fireplace and a claw-foot tub. Just enough to give me all the ambiance I needed to inspire my new life. As a housewarming gift, my dear Auntie and cousin gave me a framed poster of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The iconic image of her standing in the store window, paper coffee cup and pastry in hand, sunglasses, tiara and hair piled high with the reflection of a glittering chandelier in front and New York street-scape behind. They knew me well… I’d immersed myself in the movie hundreds of times and whenever this scene appeared, I was awash with a sense of contemplative peace.  There was something in me at the time that related so wholly to Holly Golightly’s plight of self re-invention. I was in a big city for the first time, I could be anyone I dreamed of being, I was newly on my own with nothing but my grandfather’s table, a bed and the knowledge that only I knew who I used to be. I could be anyone, do anything. The world was mine!

The world, of course, had its own ideas. Things changed, but the picture was always there. I got married, had a baby and moved to Nashville and then San Antonio. I left my husband in San Antonio, along with everything I owned, including the picture. I took my daughter back to Denver, moved in with the same beloved Aunt that had given me the gift, found a job and a car, and life began again. Many of my belongings eventually made it back to me, but not the picture. It showed up again later in the form of a gift from a man I had dated. In an effort to reignite our relationship, he bought and gave me the picture, knowing how sad I was that it had been left behind. I stared at the uncovered corner of the picture, conscious of how much it had cost and that I couldn’t afford it on my own, knowing how much I wanted it back in my life… but not at the price it was being offered. I refused the picture and the man. And life moved on.

I got married again, to a wonderful man deserving of being a father to my daughter. We moved to San Francisco, had another baby and enjoyed the time in life of one new beginning after another. We decided to move to Fayetteville, Arkansas for my husband to attend the MBA program at the University and be closer to his family. During one of my first birthdays celebrated, and in a particular mentally transitional state of “what am I doing here?”, my mother and sister-in-law gave me a gift. Without having ever heard a word of the history or my deeply seeded love for the picture, they’d chosen to give me the poster of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s standing in the store window, paper coffee cup and pastry in hand, sunglasses, tiara and hair piled high with the reflection of a glittering chandelier in front and New York streetscape behind. “How did you know?” I asked. “We just saw it and thought it looked like you.” they said. The significance was not lost on me. My essence captured in the image of a wayward but strong, searching but steadfast woman with her wide-eyed gaze fixed on a place of glittering beauty and serenity while finding her way through the sometimes harsh and confusing chaos that is life. “Isn’t it wonderful? See what I mean, how nothing bad could happen to you in a place like this?”

The poster has since been framed and has been hanging in our dining room for years alongside other black and white photos of family members. It just seemed to fit in. When people see it, they say “That is very ‘you.’” And it has been. Until now. My daughter is turning 15 years old next week. For her birthday, we are redesigning her room. Her first request was a glittering chandelier. From there, she came up with a Hollywood-like color scheme. Hmmm… well, I’d been meaning to redesign the dining room anyway. I stood in front of the picture and looked at Audrey. She looked back at me. It was time. I was not wayward or searching anymore. I’d found my place of beauty and serenity inside of myself and no longer needed to gaze into jewelry store windows. My daughter’s  journey down Moon River, however, has just begun. I can think of nothing better to accompany her on her way than the picture.

I’m Freaking Out! – When everyone says, “You’ve got this”, and you’re thinking, “No, I don’t!”

Tonight I’m supposed to be writing and posting about the epic things that have been going on for Tribe of Women. Instead, I’m freaking out! But in a good way. Mostly. We had such an amazing Anniversary month of April where things really started taking shape, we connected and reconnected with people and organizations vital to our future, and we have such cool things coming on the horizon! And they keep.coming. Last week, we got a call to help with the Bentonville Film Festival, started by Geena Davis and her See Jane initiative “championing women and diverse voices in film”. What an honor! We have an opportunity to interview women filmmakers and ask them about their career and how their tribe of women plays a role in their lives. What!?

To say the least, we jumped at the chance. I called Laurie Marshall, our Content Designer and Story Collector, and the team at Modthink and we got to work getting organized. Last year, the film festival was in its first year. My friend, Virginia, and I went to see The Empowerment Project, and were blown away by its impact on us. It was a defining moment for both of us and, admittedly, I reeeeaaalllyyy wanted to meet Geena Davis last year. I got as close as watching her walk by the crowd and down a glass walk-way. I said a little “someday, I want to meet her” in my head and went about my life. Now.I’m.going.to.meet.her! Not only that, Tribe of Women has a beautiful opportunity to fulfill our dreams of gathering stories of women and get the word out about building cultures of women supporting women. Tribes. I’m freaking out!

And… breath. I’ve got this. Or so people keep saying. Tonight I got a “how are you” text from our magic “brand guy”, Bryan. My reply, “If good, ugh, and eeek! can live in the same emotion, that’s how I am.” And then…

Late nigh well wishes. You got this.
Late nigh well wishes. You got this.

Minutes (literally) later… I was sending this text in reply to my darling girlfriend, Holly.

No, YOU'VE got this.
No, YOU’VE got this.

Irony? Irrationality? Insanity? But she DOES have this. And so do I. And so do YOU. We all do. Or not. But we’re here. Living and jumping (or crazily leaping and flailing) out of our comfort zones and into the unknown. We may soar or we may fall flat on our faces, but we’re here and trying and, like I told my sweet Holly, and numerous others are telling me, until then… I’m here. We’re here. Together.

So, the “official” Tribe of Women anniversary post will have to wait. And, I’m sorry to all of the filmmakers out there that are likely not reading this post anyway but would be made nervous if they did… I have no idea what I’m doing. If it is any consolation, as my husband drifted off to sleep while I was rambling on, he said, “Do you ever? Really? Aren’t we all just figuring it out as we go?” Yes. Yes we are. Good night.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” ~ Helen Keller

Getting Comfortable With Imperfection

 

I can still see her face. A lovely, demure woman in her late 50’s or early 60’s, kind eyes edged with delicate lines. Her voice had that buttery southern lilt to it, and when she spoke to me she gave me one pat on my knee and left her hand there while she said very definitely, “Honey, you need to get comfortable with imperfection.”

I took a personal growth class years ago called “Servant Leadership” through the local St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Although I’m not Episcopalian, it is an inclusive place where all feel welcome. The class really spoke to me in its approach to the world. Presence, listening and asking good questions are part of a facilitation method that I’ve developed and this was all about those elements of interaction manifesting into something bigger, better and more impactful.

Years later, as a follow up to that class, I took the Journey to Authenticity. It was based on a book by Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. That led to participating in a group suggested by the book called a Circle of Trust. The Circle of Trust is described by Palmer as a “…quiet, focused, and disciplined space… in which the noise within us and around us can subside and we can begin to hear our own inner voice… making use of stories from our own journeys, and insights from poets, storytellers, and various wisdom traditions.” During the process, these circles divide into Clearness Committees, “a communal process of discernment around a difficult life or vocational issue.”

It was during the practice sessions of the class in one of the Clearness Committee portions of the process that my Southern angel spoke to me. The guidelines of the clearness committee consist of non-judgment, listening and not giving advice, so I should have known when she said, “Now, I know we are not suppose to give advice, but…”, that I was in for it. I don’t know exactly what she was reacting to; me talking about my overwhelming desire to serve my family and do what was best for everyone, my struggle with how to balance what had become my life and my personal passions that got lost along the way, or simply that I was speaking with such immature authority about what I should be doing and feeling that compelled her to speak the words that resonate daily like a mantra. Whatever her reason, she broke the rules on my behalf and I am grateful.

Confucius said, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” The Journey to Authenticity has begun and “Honey, you need to get comfortable with imperfection.” has become the voice in my head. I’m still working on the rest.