The Greatest Gift of All

Meet Alisa.

Alisa’s my BFF, my bestie, my chick, my-sister-who’s-not-really-my sister, whatever you want to call her. She’s one of my favourite people in the whole wide world. We’ve known each other since 1984! Seriously, 28 years. There is probably nobody who knows me better than this girl. She calls me on my crap, she’s who I go to lean on and she gets me, the real me. We can finish each others sentences and have been mistaken as sisters more than once in our life.

She may also kill me for writing this post, she’s a pretty private girl but I needed to let the world know how amazing she really is.

You see, Alisa has given me the greatest gift ever. It didn’t come in a pretty package. There was no gift receipt needed and no Hallmark card for this occasion. About three and a half years ago, when I only had one little man in my life and Alisa didn’t have her little pickle yet, we had a conversation about what would happen to TJ if something were to happen to both Tristan and myself. Being that I am an only child and all of Tristan’s family is in Argentina, Alisa was my obvious first choice. And of course, because she’s awesome, she agreed.

Fast forward to today. Alisa has a sweet little girl of her own and I now have 4 boys, 4 and under. I hadn’t given much thought to what would happen to my brood if something were to happen to us until we started changing our life insurance policies. Suddenly, it hit me. Who would possibly want to raise four kids that weren’t theirs? Especially if they had their own family on top of that. Tristan and I knew that his brothers would gladly take them but there is a few thousand miles between us and quite honestly, we aren’t sure of all the legalities and then there’s the fear of them being uprooted. My Mom had offered, but even she alluded to the fact that due to age, she wasn’t our best choice. There really was only one person that I wanted to take the job. The one person who knows all my secrets, who could tell my boys crazy stories about us growing up and who I knew would keep me alive in their soul and love them as her own – Alisa.

And so after our traditional Malbec Monday, I asked her. Would she take my boys if the unthinkable happened? God bless her, she didn’t even hesitate. I asked if she needed to talk it over with her husband and she simply said, “don’t be silly, you know we would take them”. And in that exact moment, I received the greatest gift of all. The security, comfort and peace in knowing that my boys will always be, no matter what, loved. And if we couldn’t fulfill our role as their parents, they would have the next best thing.

Obviously I am banking on never ever having to redeem this gift but to Alisa all I can say is Thank You and I Love You.


Us in approximately 1988-89

We starred in a community play together (~1992)

Mexico, 1997

Halloween ~2000ish
We dressed in coordinating costumes for quite a few years!

Minutes after getting our noses pierced last summer!

This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days). To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs:

Meaghan at Magz D Life
Liam at In the Now

Hiring a Personal Trainer

Personal Training and the fitness industry has grown tremendously in the past 5 years. As I see it, this has it’s advantages (options for the clients, interesting trends, increasing research) and disadvantages (lack of regulation, lack of cohesion). As a consumer hiring a Personal Trainer can be a big investment, here are some things to think about:

1. Location, location, location!!
More than half of your results are going to be determined by your consistency. Don’t chose a facility that’s inconvenient or too far from work/home. Make it easy to be part of your routine in your day. Also, re-evaluate if you really want to be at home for your sessions. Sometimes it’s nice to get away from the “distractions” in our own four walls.

2. Credentials
Ask your prospective trainer what their credentials are and ask questions about what they mean. Your trainer should at minimum have a nationally recognized personal training certification. If they give you some random letters, ask what those letters mean, what was involved in their certification. I have invested thousands upon thousands of dollars in my education, continuing education and certificates. I have been asked less than 5 times what my credentials are!! Clearly I train a lot of trusting people.

3. Personality
This is probably the biggest one – do you jive with your trainer. You are paying to spend a fair amount of time with this person, you need to like them a little. It should be someone you feel comfortable with, who is non-judgmental but who is not your best friend (they still need to be able to call you out and you need to feel like you want to listen to them). 9 times out of 10, this is the determining factor in who you hire, buy don’t forget about the other points.

4. Experience
Who does this client mainly work with/attract? What sort of testimonials can they share with you? Have they worked with people similar to you? What results do they get? Although you may work with a trainer that is newly graduated, it doesn’t make them a bad trainer. Life experience is just as important here. Don’t judge that a trainer won’t get you because they are young/old/male/female/too fit/too skinny/whatever!! Listen to them before you judge.

5. Philosophy
Ask them what their training beliefs are? What are they passionate about? If they want you too Zumba every day and you’re there too train for a marathon, chances are your goals are not going to mesh. Or if they believe in a specific training regime and you’re not comfortable, that’s not a good fit for you (lucky there are lots options).

6. Cost
I’m putting this last and not because you need to consider it but because you will. Personal Training is not something you can price shop for. Not all trainers and/or services are considered equal. A good trainer/facility will have options ranging from paid in full to financing to shorter session time or shorter commitment time to suit your budget. You need to think of this as an investment in yourself, not an expense.
Think of it this way, sessions with a great, albeit pricier trainer, is way cheaper in the long run if they are also more efficient, effective and safe! Results speak volumes!!

Choosing a Role Model

I have always struggled answering the ‘who’s your biggest role model’ question. To be honest, I don’t have one single person. There are a handful of people who I admire and who inspire me to be a better person, business owner, wife and mom. There is an even greater number of people who carry a trait that inspires me to be better or think about things differently.

With the constant talk over the weekend focused on Lance Armstrong, I couldn’t help but think more about the role of role models in society and my kids. Whether Lance cheated or not or deserved to be stripped of his title is neither here nor there for the purpose of this blog (though I am opinionated on the subject). But the truth is Lance Armstrong is a role model for many. Tiger Woods is another. Many even call young celebrities like Brittany Spears and Miley Cyrus role models for our youth. And maybe all of these people are, but they’re people too. And people do things that we don’t always like and we can’t always understand. I’m not sure this makes them less of a role model.

I want my kids to model the passion and drive that’s needed in this world to be successful. I want them to model all of the above individuals for realizing their dream and putting their blood, sweat and tears into making it come true. I want them to model the behavior that reminds them nobody is perfect. We all mess up and sometimes those mess ups are huge. But regardless, we don’t quit. It’s not ok to walk away when that’s what we really want but it is ok to change our dreams and focus. I want them to understand that perfection is a myth and you will not win all the time. But you will never win if you don’t play the game. I want them to model the behaviors of those that have failed but not let that failure define them.

To me this is what having a role model encompasses. I don’t have to like and admire every thing they do. I don’t need to put them on a pedestal. I just need to focus on their best traits and apply those qualities to my life.

Today my role models happened to be two of my clients. One ran a 5k race with her son, the other with her two daughters. I loved that they both included their kids in a fitness activity and they competed right there along side them. I will continue to model that same behavior that I admire in my own family.

I challenge you to spend this entire week looking for role models. Whether they be celebrities, athletes, members of your family or complete strangers. Seek out the traits that you admire and model those behaviors. Focus less on what you don’t like or you think you can’t achieve and more on what you can do.

Keep me posted with how it goes.


This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days). To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs:

Meaghan at Magz D Life
Liam at In the Now

Gratitude (5 things)

We had an inspiring event in Calgary today and after spending the day surrounded by people who have accomplished amazing feats and over come tremendous obstacles, it seems only fitting that I write a post based on gratitude. Besides my family and friends who are are the best, here are five things I am grateful for today.

1. Starbucks on gasoline alley! You have no idea how pleased I was to see a Starbucks at 8am when we were rolling into Red Deer. I guess I’m even more grateful that my darling husband, reversed out of the Timmies drive thru and went to Starbucks instead at my request.

2. Opportunity. It really is all around us. You just need to be open and accepting to it. Open to learning more and to being honest with yourself.

3. Our nanny! She rocks!! She has opened up opportunities for us as a family and as a couple. I no longer feel stressed about finding someone whom I trust to watch my treasured little men. Plus I think they baked cookies today which means one will be waiting for me when I get home😉

4. WordPress app for my iPhone. This post is being entirely composed and published from my iPhone. Thanks to this app, I didn’t have to miss a day or write something at 11:45pm when we get home and all I want to do is sleep (priorities remember).

5. Confrontation. Yup, you read that right. I was confronted today and was forced to examine my why again. It reminded me why I chose to do what I do and what my purpose here is. It reaffirmed I am in the right place at the right time and although others may not understand, it’s ok. It’s not their path to walk. It’s mine.

Bonus: Prairie sunsets. As one day draws to a close, another one begins. And for that I’m grateful.


This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days). To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs:

Meaghan at Magz D Life
Liam at In the Now

Not My Style (part 2)

Yesterday I blogged about confrontation, social media and negativity. Today I wanted to add my thoughts on this as a business owner (here’s where I may get a bit more controversial). As a business owner, social media has allowed me to create pages, promote services and give advice for low to no financial cost. Of course as a small business with a very limited marketing budget, social media can be fantastic. But it also has some very serious drawbacks.
Anyone can post anything about a business or a brand. The good, the bad and the ugly. True or untrue. And because of this the price of social media can be quite costly. It can be tough as a business owner to know exactly how to deal with an unhappy consumer. And as a consumer it can be tough to know what to do when a business has let you down. I know that taking to social media can be very powerful but I don’t think it should be the first line of attack or defense.

I have witnessed fellow small business owners being attacked online for something completely out of their control – imagine a flower shop on Mother’s Day unable to fulfill a walk in custom order; although there were other beautiful options for them. This irritate customer took to social media bashing the store and employees while asking all their followers to never shop there again. The business posted their apologies and explanation and handled themselves very well but of course the customer was mad and it appeared nothing was going to satisfy her. My opinion was that the business handled the situation to the best of their ability but it was still a very negative interaction that was put out there for anyone to see. And one that seemed to be blown completely out of proportion by the consumer. I don’t think it had a negative effect on their business but how can one be sure.

I have also had a comment posted on my business Facebook wall by someone attacking something we offer to our clients and consumers. This person had never been to my business, never met me or any of our staff and never tried any of our services. When I saw the comment, I deleted it. It was a choice I made as I felt it was an inappropriate place and it was phrased in an inappropriate manner. I also immediately sent that person a direct message explaining that I had deleted their post but would be more than happy to answer any questions that they had privately in a respectful manner. Let’s just say that this person did not agree with the way I chose to handle my social media. By deleting their post, I was going against what social media was, according to them. I have thought about this and I just don’t agree.

As consumers if we have questions or concerns, by all means, I believe they should be brought to the attention of the manager and/or owner. But again in a respectful manner. I would like to believe that all of us can grow and improve ourselves with constructive criticism but like all criticism, it should first be addressed privately. Nobody likes to be belittled or embarrassed in public and my thought is no one (not even a business) is out to ruin your day on purpose. If your concerns aren’t addressed then yes, maybe taking to the social airwaves are your only option but please don’t start there.

I am more than happy to sit down with an unhappy consumer, listen to their concerns and see if there is something I can do to alleviate the situation. Sometimes there is but sometimes there isn’t. I reserve the right to delete or block comments that I have deemed inappropriate as ultimately it’s my business “wall”. I would never delete and not follow up with that person but I may chose to do so in a more private manner – public confrontation, definitely not my style. To me it is really no different than if someone were to write something inappropriate or misinformed on my actual business wall; I would wash it off or paint over it. I chose to keep my pages as a source of information and positivity for those that wish to visit it.

And so for the sake of all of us who don’t enjoy confrontation, especially in public, I ask of you to voice your concerns, ask your questions but go to a source who can actually help you and who can possibly make a difference in your experience before you hit the social media airwaves. It seems to me that just by doing that one little thing, we can make the internet a lot nicer place to visit for all.

This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days). To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs:
Meaghan at Magz D Life
Liam at In the Now

Not My Style (part 1)

The power of social media and the Internet never ceases to amaze me. Want to learn how to stuff a turkey? YouTube it. Trying to figure out where in the world Laos is? Google it. Looking for a great new restaurant in your city? Ask your tweeps. Creep on your junior high friends pictures? Facebook. You name it, the Internet can almost always provide a solution (except a good medical diagnosis; you are almost always dying ;)). I use and love social media as much as the next guy, possibly even more, but I can’t help but worry if all this online connectedness is removing us completely from the world around us. If people are creating persona’s that are too perfect or are far from their reality. If the ‘rules’ of how to behave as a decent human are somewhat less important. And if we are basing our expectations and demands as consumers on others perceptions or experiences.

A few weeks back I witnessed a Facebook interaction that truly saddened me. An acquaintance had posted something about being pleased that opportunity had knocked. The comments that followed were all ones of excitement and congratulations, all except one. The very last comment simply read: Remember of something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Really?! That’s all that their “friend” could write as a comment. They were no comments that followed. No one telling this commenter to go jump off a bridge. Just nothing. I’m not even the person that it was directed to and that comment has stuck with me. Imagine if you were the original status updater!! Studies have shown that it takes 100 positive comments to overcome one negative one. And although I didn’t write anything either, looking back I really should have. It’s something I have thought about numerous times. And all I can really think is why? Why did that person feel the need to poop on someone else’s good feeling? Was it intentional or just typical for this person?

Then it lead me to think about people in my life, do I have someone who would poo-poo all over my great mood. Unfortunately the answer was yes. They are luckily few and far between but there are people in both my Facebook and twitter feeds that are just a little more negative than I like. And the more aware of this I was, the more I realized that I didn’t need to follow/friend these people. They aren’t anyone I hang out with (or would hang out with) and none of them are related to me. So why did I feel the need to keep them around. I imagine almost all of us have those few people in our own on-line life and likely our real life too. More and more I have began to question, why? I don’t need haters in my life and I certainly don’t need anyone pointing out my possible failures, I am by far my own worst critic. And so I began to clear out my lists. I can’t say it’s easy unfollowing or unfriending, even if I wasn’t their biggest fan, but it has been good for my soul. It has given me the power to chose who I want to make comments or interact with and it has given me the power to decide who I let affect me.

For those of you who love the confrontation that can come from an innocent (or sometimes not so innocent) post, great for you. For others that just let those negative comments roll off their back, I commend you. But for now, I chose to delete any comments that I find inappropriate or even go as far as block/unfollow/unfriend the person that continues to drag me down. Just as in real life I would hopefully chose to stop hanging around that person or at the very least limit my interactions. And although it’s social media, it’s my social media. And as I definitely know, confrontation is just not my style.

Yup, I missed two more days in a row… remember that whole post I wrote about priorities and being busy 🙂 I guess the new challenge is 28 posts in 31 days OR write more than one a day… Hmmmm..
This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days). To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs:
Meaghan at Magz D Life
Liam at In the Now

It’s What You Say, Not How You Say It

This past weekend we took the boys out to Sylvan Lake for the day. It couldn’t have been more perfect – warm but with shade for the burritos, the water was cool and clean and the kids were ready for an adventure. After we had staked out our spot Tristan and TJ went to go see if we could get an umbrella at the local “everything you need at the lake and more” store. Of course, he came back umbrella-less but instead TJ and him picked out a blowup boat (with paddles and all). It was a good size too, all three of them were able to fit in it at one time.

Anyways, the big boys and Tristan spent at least an hour in the boat, playing in the water, etc. Then it was his turn to watch the burritos while I played with the big boys. We were playing in the sand when I noticed Lukas needed a bit more sunscreen. Here is an account of my actual conversation with TJ.

Me: TJ, mommy and Lukas are going to put sunscreen on, do you want to stay here?
TJ (back to me, playing in the sand): Yes.
Me: Ok, stay here but no playing in the water. Understand.
TJ (back still to me): Yes.
Me: Seriously, you can’t go in the water. Got it?
TJ: Yes.
Me: Turn around and look at me. Tell me you won’t go in the water. Understand?
TJ (finally turning around, looking at me): I understand (slightly annoyed tone). No water.
So Lukas and I headed up to Tristan and the burritos. About 5 minutes later, Tristan asks me what TJ’s doing. As I’m telling him I left him playing in the sand, we look up to the water and there’s TJ in the blow up boat, calmly rowing across the lake!!
Now I don’t remember what I said as I raced down to grab him and the boat (all I was thinking is he could tip and then what) but as I’m pulling the boat to shore its something along the lines of why didn’t you listen?!?

His response? I did listen Mommy. I was in the boat, not the water.

So there it is. Another lesson learned. When you’re four it’s all about what you say not how you say it!

The boys taking the boat out for a spin.

This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days). To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs:
Meaghan at Magz D Life
Liam at In the Now

Lessons From My Two Year Old

Meet my littlest man, Lukas. He’s two. Two’s one of those ages where you want to squeeze them one moment and throttle them the next and today was one of those days where I probably wanted to throttle more than squeeze but he ended the day with a hug and an “I love you” and the horrors of the day melted away.

Lukas on his second birthday.

In his short two years, Lukas has taught me some great lessons and I thought I’d share them with you.

Lesson #1. Hug ferociously and with passion

This kid pours every last ounce of his strength and love for you into his hugs. There is no doubt that he loves you and he is extremely affectionate. He has been known to leap into your arms (whether you are ready or not) and to cling to you like there’s no tomorrow. Being more free with affection is a great lesson for me. Since I have had kids, I hug more often. I hug my friends hello and goodbye. I am more easy going with my affection. Lukas reminds me how great it is to get a hug and to give them often, without expectation, to those I love. (I do promise not to jump in to your arms unexpectedly).

2. Say sorry more often

Classic Lukas; he hits you (on purpose) and then repeatedly says “sorry, sorry, sorry” while giving you kisses and tender hugs. Now I know the hitting on purpose needs to stop but his ability to accept responsibility and apologize is a great lesson for all adults. He will often be the one to say sorry to his brother, when it should be the other way around! We teach our kids that sorry can’t fix everything, and it’s true it can’t, but it can go along way. It can make you feel as though somebody is listening to your concerns and somebody is feeling for your pain, sorrow, frustration, in that moment. Don’t underestimate the power of the word sorry.

3. Say no more often

Lukas has no problem saying no. He tells you straight up “no want to”. And while that’s highly frustrating, I got to give this kid credit for knowing what he wants and not backing down (this may be one of the reasons I look forward to a glass of wine at the end of my day so much). Nevertheless, it’s a lesson I need to be reminded of. I am too quick to say yes. I am too worried to disappoint. But the truth is saying no, while often more difficult at first, usually leads to less disappointment later. I just need to make sure I don’t have the pouty lip and stomping feet when I say it!

4. The occasional temper tantrum makes you feel a whole lot better

Speaking of pouty lips, sometimes you need to yell, scream, cry, throw yourself on the floor… you know, act like a two-year old. And while I don’t recommend throwing yourself on the floor and letting out a blood curdling scream in the middle of Safeway, the odd temper tantrum in the safety of your own home (hopefully away from any other humans) may help to release whatever it is your feeling and move on. Ever notice how a two-year old can have the worst tantrum, cry and yell them self to sleep and then wake up as if nothing ever happened… release!

5. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat it

As I posted in an earlier post, I often dread dinner time. Lukas plays his fair share of that. But here’s the thing, if Lukas is not hungry, he doesn’t eat. Novel idea, eh? He doesn’t care that it’s dinnertime. He doesn’t care that there’s only 2 bites left on his plate. When he’s done, he’s done. If only we could all tap into our inner two-year old and listen to when we’re full, I dare to say, the obesity level would drop dramatically! ps: he even does this with treats!!
So as he lives his second year and I live my thirty third something, I vow to sometimes be a little more like Lukas!

This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days). To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs:
Meaghan at Magz D Life
Liam at In the Now

To The Love of My Life

It’s our 5-year anniversary today and as Tristan so lovingly puts it, “it feels like 5 minutes… underwater!” (I didn’t marry him for his sense of humor, lol!). All kidding aside, we had an amazing lunch yesterday where we talked about our favourite moments, least favourite moments, favourite trips, biggest regret, etc. It was a lively conversation full of laughs and memories. It’s been a wild 5 years thus far.

In case you were following my earlier post about who had to make the anniversary plans for tonight, well, there’s been a change of plans. It’s supposed to be a hot one today and although I hate to say it, if you live in Edmonton, you know that these days aren’t going to be around much longer. So we’re packing up and taking the kids to Sylvan Lake for the day. We’re spending 5 years of wedded bliss with our favourite boys and we’re happy to do so. (For any of you thinking that we could go out tonight after a day at the lake, you clearly don’t have children OR you have way more energy than I do!!)

So here’s to my husband! I love you with my heart and my soul. You are my here, now and everything. Thank you for choosing me each and every day as I do the same. I won’t bore everyone with my mush, you can watch it instead (here’s a video I made for Tristan on Valentine’s Day this past year).

This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days). To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs:
Meaghan at Magz D Life
Liam at In the Now

Starving to death vs Feeding to death. A lesson in Malnutrition.

Alright, I’m cheating. I didn’t blog yesterday and it’s 10pm and I’m not in the writing mood (this is way harder than I thought I would). So, I pulled an old blog from my business website. I first published this on November 29, 2011. I hope you enjoy,


Pronunciation:  /ˌmal-n(y) u̇ -ˈtrish-ən/
: faulty nutrition due to inadequate or unbalanced intake of nutrients or their impaired assimilation or utilization¹

Close your eyes and picture it. What do you see? Something like this maybe

picture from

Now picture this child in your community. You would be outraged, right? You would scream child abuse, call authorities, ensure this child was removed from their home and family immediately, right? And rightly so.

But what about the other side of malnutrition? The side that we see each and every day in our society. Malnutrition is all around us now. Malnutrition simply means, bad nourishment. It can include under-nutrition, what we are use to being described as malnutrition and were told about as kids when we didn’t eat all our food at the table, or over-nutrition, the consumption of too many calories, aka, weight gain. This weight gain has lead to a steady increase of overweight and obese individuals. It affects all races, genders and ages.

We know obesity has become an epidemic. It is one of the leading causes of heart disease  and metabolic syndromes. It leads to a deterioration in the quality of our life and often the quantity too. Some experts have gone as far to say that childhood obesity is such an epidemic that this current generation of youngsters, will have a shorter life expectancy than that of their parents!!

News broke this morning of an 8 year old boy who was taken from his home and placed into foster care because his weight had reached over 200 pounds!! That’s more than 3 times what the average 8 year old boy weighs. His mom was accused of medical neglect for being unable to get his weight down. He had developed sleep apnea, a condition in which your breathing becomes very shallow or actually stops while sleeping. Sleep apnea can be common but is potentially very serious. One of the causes of sleep apnea, is excessive weight gain. His weight also put him at an increased risk for high blood pressure and diabetes, potentially life threatening diseases that no child should develop.

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the courts decision to remove the boy from his home. Those against the decision state that the boy was not in any imminent danger. This argument does not even begin to make sense to me. When does the danger become imminent, when it’s too late? When he is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease? Would the child starving to death be in more imminent danger than the one feeding to death?

I don’t pretend to know the answers to this. But it’s time we took a long hard look at our society and at what has become socially acceptable. It’s time more programs were offered to help families, teachers and communities cope with this epidemic and be given real sustainable solutions. It’s time that multi-billion dollar corporations were held accountable for how our food is produced, grown and packaged. It’s time to stop the labeling confusion that has more to do with who can afford to pay for the heart smart symbol than actually being heart smart. It’s time to stop the food lobbyists that have actually got the US government to declare pizza as a vegetable and done more damage to consumers waist lines than anything else.

Is it going to be easy? No. Will it happen overnight? Absolutely not. Can it happen? YES! Currently 34% of the adult population are obese and another 34% of the population are overweight. In 1964, 42% of the adult population were smokers, currently 19.8% of adults are. Society fought against smoking. Tobbaco companies were forced to change. Lobbyists lost their jobs. Governments were forced to change. It happened. Society fought back against smoking. Society won.

Isn’t it time we do the same with obesity?

The next time you think malnutrition, also think this:

picture from

What will it take for you to change?

In Health,


¹malnutrition. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved November 29, 2011, from website:

This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days). To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs:
Meaghan at Magz D Life
Liam at In the Now