Time…

Time has been on my mind lately. How quickly it passes and it’s gone forever. On one end I have my mother who is in her eighties. With every passing year, she comments that she’s surprised that she’s still around to see this new year, surprised to make it yet another year as her birthday comes. On the other end I have my teenager who has her whole life in front of her. She’s not worried about running out of time, but she’s feeling anxious about becoming an adult and moving out of the cocoon -like protection of home. And as for me…I see my mother getting older and know that my time is limited with her and at the same time, I see my teenager getting closer and closer to graduation and know that she’ll be moving out of the nest to go to college soon. It’s sad and exciting at the same time.

There was a morning when I had to leave much earlier than normal and it was still dark when I arrived in the parking lot at work. As the sun came up I started snapping pictures of it. I realized just how quickly time is passing as I took pictures and saw the differences in the sunrise in just a matter of minutes.

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when I first got into the parking lot…

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just a moment later…

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not more than five minutes, in fact it was probably less…

it’s awesome when you sit back and think of how quickly the earth is spinning and how fast time is passing. It’s not something that I want to dwell on but I don’t want to forget just how precious each and every moment in life is.

Soak in the beauty around us, cherish the moments with our loved ones, and most of all never be afraid to try new experiences. Just live and live with happiness and joy in your hearts.

STOP STALKING ME!!

Loosely defined – Stalking is the act of following someone around, keeping tabs on their actions. Using intimidation to try and control someone. 

That would be my ex. Even after being divorced roughly 10 years, living apart for about 12…he’s still following me around and watching my every move. Now he’s cyberstalking. A couple of weeks ago he found an old dating profile that I put out there a long while back and copied it onto an email to me, letting me know he’s watching. The other day he’s found this blog. He actually sent me a long email where he lifted quotes from some of my various posts and was trying to debate them with me. 

First of all, a blog as most of us know is simply a forum for us to write and let loose with our thoughts – an online journal. I posted what I was thinking and feeling at the time. My thoughts and feelings are not up for debate. They’re what I was thinking and feeling at the time. It wasn’t like I was trying to explain physics to the world and getting it all wrong. But I know his ulterior motive in sending these emails to me was a form of intimidation. He’s trying to let me know that he’s watching and that he knows (thinks he knows) what I’m up to. 

For years he followed me around, watching…  His excuse every time I accused him of stalking me was that he wasn’t stalking me, no he was simply trying to get close to his daughter. For those of you who are thinking that he has every right to be close to his daughter – absolutely. I agree 100% that he has every right to be involved in his daughter’s life, BUT…and here’s the kicker – whenever we were at a school or dance function, he would be glued to MY side the whole time, not hers. Even our daughter made that observation that he wasn’t there for her. He was there for mom. He also breaks off commitments to her if he’s angry or displeased with me… why?? What do my actions have to do with him seeing his daughter? If it were the other way around and I were in his shoes, I’d make sure I was there for her come hell or high water. 

How do I know he drives past my place regularly? I have a boyfriend who comes over from time to time. There’s no rhyme or pattern to his showing up, we’ve gone weeks without seeing each other, but yet as soon as he shows up at my place, I’ll get a flurry of texts from the X indicating that he knows what I’m up to. These texts are usually not very pleasant in nature. This happens every single time, so yes, he’s watching my place a lot closer that I’d like. 

I left him. I stayed with him for 23 years and finally decided that I had enough. He’s bipolar and agoraphobic. 23 years and he still wasn’t changing. He was emotionally abusive toward me. He was controlling and insecure. His thinking was that if he could make me feel like I wasn’t worthy then I wouldn’t, couldn’t, leave him. I wasn’t free to do anything without him being with me or having to know exactly where I was going or doing. We didn’t have any friends because he didn’t want anyone else coming around or me going out with anyone but him. I stayed with him for as long as I did because I felt so responsible for him. He would always tell me that he couldn’t possibly survive on his own. When our daughter was born I saw how I must have seemed through her eyes. He called me names, belittled me and undermined me every time I tried to do what I needed to do in raising our daughter and she was starting to talk and treat me the way that he did. 

I lost any respect that I ever had for him a long time ago. Like I said, I felt responsible for taking care of him. 

Most of us, or at least myself, would say hey, so and so doesn’t want me anymore? Okay, fine…moving on. Sure it’ll hurt for a while. There may be anger, resentment and even hatred, but I would definitely stay away from said person that didn’t want to be with me anymore. Why on earth would I continue to force myself on someone that has clearly stated that they were done with me? He said we could be friends for our daughter’s sake. I was all for that after all I don’t hate the guy. I just didn’t have any respect or love for him anymore, and I couldn’t allow him to drag me deeper into the hole he was in. I would hope that if anyone ever got to the point where they didn’t respect or love me anymore that they would break it off with me. 

Know those people who make the news? The jilted ones who kill their spouses and their lovers or sometimes themselves?? He’s actually told me several times that he empathizes with those individuals. He can actually understand where they’re coming from. Intimidation?? absolutely. All he can focus on is that I cheated on him. Even though I was married to him for 23 years with no cheating during that time. Yea I wasn’t divorced when I met someone else, but mentally I had already left him. He was such a controlling asshole that I had absolutely no feeling left for him. I felt as if I were suffocating in a dark abyss. The only bright spot was my daughter and I knew that if I stayed, even that bright spot would dim and eventually extinguish. I did meet someone else and guess what, that person is still in my life and I consider him my best friend even after all these years later.

 

X is so focused on what he considers my infidelity, never mind that 10 years after the divorce I still haven’t crawled back begging his forgiveness, that he has made threats. They’re subtle ones because he knows if he comes right out and says anything point blank the cops will have him dead to the rights. But no, these threats are more like telling me that our daughter should go ahead and get her license because she may need to be able to drive herself around and also take care of my mother in case something happens to me.  Telling me that it would be a good idea for me to have my will made out and up to date in case something happens to me. Texting my daughter and telling her that she should get her license and be prepared to help grandma in case something happens to your mom. He’s even followed my boyfriend whenever he leaves my place in an attempt, I’m sure, to find out where he lives. He’s made threatening gestures toward him through the car windows…imitating a gun with his fingers. He’s sent me emails indicating that he would love to hurt the both of us. He’s even gone as far as to tell my daughter when she was around 11 or so years old that the only reason mom was still here was because of her. Well, she’s 17 getting very close to adulthood and it seems that he’s escalating his stalking and threatening messages. I get the feeling that he’s just waiting for the right time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fifty Two Life Lessons

My fifty second birthday is peeking over the horizon at me. Just a few more days and it’ll be on top of me. It’s truly amazing how quickly the years fly by. Especially once you have kids. There was a time when I thought being fifty was ancient. It was so far down the road and quite frankly I just never really envisioned myself being in my fifties. That was where my parents resided. Then one day I wake up and realize with a shock that I’m there. I’m officially middle-aged.

The interesting thing is – I don’t feel like a middle-aged person. I still feel and think like I did when I was younger. I still enjoy running and being active. I still find amusement in the stupidest, little things and delight in beauty around me. Somehow I always associated middle age with boring, dour looking folks who have long outgrown fanciful things like dreams and playing. At least that was how I always saw my parents and their friends, or maybe that was just how the younger generation sees things. But, being in my fifties really isn’t bad at all.  I’ve learned a lot of things along the way and actually look forward to learning more as I get older. Every stage in life has its own level of learning and it’s not about getting old, it’s about learning and growing mentally and emotionally.

Since I’ve been doing some reflecting on life, I thought I’d try to come up with 52 life lessons that have worked for me. In no particular order… I’m just typing them up as they come to mind.

1. Smile. Smiling does wonders to change a mood. People respond positively to a genuine smile, and that positive response goes a long way in boosting your own mental state. I don’t mean walk around grinning like an idiot every second of the day. It’s just that we all have a choice… we can choose to look at the good or bad aspect of situations. Those who choose to dwell on the good things tend to be much more approachable and easy to be around.

2. Don’t marry just for the sake of getting married. There are literally billions of people on this planet. Life is too special to be wasted being with someone that isn’t quite right for you. When you meet that perfect match, you’ll know it. If you haven’t, at least have fun meeting people along the way. There’s nothing wrong with being alone when you’re comfortable and at peace with yourself. Being married to the wrong person and trying to make it work, only adds stress and unhappiness along the way. Too many times I’ve seen (I was one…) where people meet and say that they can work around the differences and change the person. Trust me, it’s not easy to change the core of who someone is.

3. Exercise. Okay, I can hear the groans already. A lot of people think exercise is overrated. It’s not. It truly does create a more positive state of mind as well as better health. I’ve gone through periods of exercising and not. Whenever I went for a while without a regular workout regime, I started feeling bad both physically and mentally. My physical feeling would be aches, pains and a feeling of being too heavy. The discomfort that I felt with myself only brought my mental state down. Then I would get back into running and always, without fail, I’d feel that boost of confidence. That positive energy would start flowing through me again. Our bodies are just like any mechanical thing we may have such as cars. If you don’t take your car in for regular tune-ups and make sure the tires, oil and other things are changed or maintained on a regular basis – it’s going to break down on you and quit. Our bodies are basically the same way. They need to be maintained and treated well to carry us through our lifetime.

4. Play. Always make time for playing. We work and spend much of our time trying to save a little money, pay bills, maintain our homes, cars and take care of our families. It’s incredibly important to make time for fun. Otherwise your mind is going to get so bogged down with responsibilities. Make time to let loose, go somewhere new, experience something fun. Just get out and clear your head of problems and really enjoy yourself.

5. Choose your battles wisely. If you’re going to get into an argument with someone, at least make sure it’s a worthwhile battle. Otherwise it’s wasted energy. If it really isn’t important and about something that isn’t going to affect your life and surroundings, then just let it go.

6. Learn something new whenever possible. Take a class, read, explore…you’ll be a much more interesting person for it.

7. Make time for animals in your life. They can teach a lot about unconditional love.

8. Try new experiences. I went snow skiing for the first time in my life last winter and had a fantastic time. I don’t want to find myself sitting in a wheelchair at eighty wondering what it would have been like if….

9. If you have kids, give them the absolute best you can. Prepare them for life and give them the tools needed to succeed. And love them unconditionally.

10. Think before you speak. Who among us hasn’t been quick with our mouths only to regret the words coming out. Maybe this is something that has to be learned over time, but it’s very true that our words can sometimes cut deep.

11. Be sensible about your finances. Money isn’t everything, but it’s nothing to brush aside either. Find a good balance where you have enough money so you don’t have to worry about your next meal or how you’ll pay your bills, but at the same time don’t let money run your life.

12. Leave a place better than when you arrived. Pick up after yourself, get rid of trash, etc. None of us want to live in a dumpster so why would we just leave trash laying around?

13. Make time for books and movies. They’re great for relaxation and entertainment, but don’t make them a focal point of your life.

14. Enjoy good food. Be open to trying different dishes and flavors.

15. When in love, love with all your heart. If the love fades then let it go and move on. Know that nothing is forever and sometimes the universe knows what we need at certain points in our lives.

16. Laugh often and laugh loud.

17. See the ocean at least once in your life.

18. Go to the mountains at least once in your life.

19. Possessions are there to enhance your life, not to encumber it. Be willing to give things away when they’ve outlived their purpose. Life is not about things, but about experiences.

20. Always treat others the way you would want to be treated.

21. Never underestimate the power of sleep. A good night sleep will do wonders to boost morale and lift spirits.

22. If you see something beautiful, stop and take it in. Don’t be in such a rush that you miss a great sunset or the glitter from the sun dancing across a lake. We’re not going to be here forever so don’t take beauty for granted.

23. Take care of the older generation. They’ve been around a long time, they deserve to be respected and cared for. These were people that were our age at one time. Always remember that we will all get to that point at one time or another and treat them how we would expect or wish to be treated ourselves.

24. When doing a job for someone, do it well. You wouldn’t appreciate paying someone to do something for you only to see that they’re putting in a half-assed attempt. Do your job well and to the best of your ability.

25. Get crazy once in a while. Let your hair down and don’t be afraid to look foolish. As long as no one gets hurt by your actions, it’s good to let loose.

26. Create something. A picture, poem, story, garden… anything. Just put something together and watch it grow.

27. Nothing’s perfect. We live in an imperfect world, with imperfect people. Accept these imperfections and learn to see beauty in them.

28. Cry. Don’t be afraid to cry and show your emotions.

29. Show appreciation whenever you can. People usually respond amazingly to a simple but genuine “thank you”.

30. Take vacations. Even if you don’t have the money to travel someplace exotic, a simple drive to the beach or countryside can rejuvenate ones soul.

31. Take time for inner reflection. The world we live in is so fast-paced and hectic that it’s easy to lose touch with yourself.  Step back once in a while to take a breather and meditate. Gather your thoughts and center yourself.

32. Nothing is permanent. Sometimes someone or something that was so good for us at one time can become a source of anxiety or frustration after time. If this happens, it may be time to step back and away from that source. We don’t all go down the same paths in life. Paths intersect for periods of times and then they may divide and you find yourselves going down different paths. It’s okay to move on. Don’t hold on so tightly and refuse to let things flow.

33. Enjoy a good glass of wine.

34. Accept change. It’s inevitable in this changing world we live in. Why fight it?

35. Dress up and wear something incredibly sexy once in a while.

36. Take lots of pictures. Going back and looking at them usually puts a smile on my face.

37. Don’t procrastinate. Easier said than done, I know. But taking care of things right then and there reduces stress in your life. You’re not constantly thinking of the things that need to be taken care of when they’re done on the spot.

38. Accept people for who they are. Too many times, especially in relationships, people will find something that they’re not 100% happy with and place their focus on “fixing” that imperfection. It doesn’t work. Determine if it’s an imperfection that you can live with and leave it alone. If not, move on.

39. Eat sensibly. What we put into our bodies does have an impact on how we feel. Maybe not immediately but over time…  You wouldn’t put dirt into your gas tank, would you? It would muck it all up. Our bodies are the same way.

40. Give what you would like to receive. I’m not talking about things. I’m talking about love, gratitude, respect…

41. Don’t follow the crowd. Too often the crowd is doing things only to be accepted or to be popular and often that entails things that we may not be in agreement with. Step back and be true to yourself.

42. If you see someone being bullied or pushed around, stick up for them. Let them know they’re not alone and let the aggressors know that what they’re doing isn’t cool.

43. Spend time with a baby who is discovering the world for the first time. Seeing things through their eyes really puts things in perspective.

44. Dream. The day you stop dreaming is the day you stop living and start just existing.

45. Enjoy getting older. It may not be so much fun to see the wrinkles on the face, but really, they’re an indicator of what a person has been through. The wisdom and knowledge gained from all those years should be embraced and revered.

46. Think about the choices you make. Your kid wants to go out and play with you but the house needs cleaning….  choose the playtime with the kid over cleaning. Cleaning can be done anytime, but the playing with the kid will be gone over time.

47. Treasure the people in your life. You never know how long they will be there so enjoy every moment you can with them.

48. Bullying, stalking, threatening actions are not cool.

49. Splurge once in a while on yourself. I have a hard time with this one. I tend to want to save my money and time for my mother and daughter that I tend to forget about myself. But when I do something for myself, it’s a great morale boost.

50. Don’t be self-centered. People who are able to forget about themselves to focus on other people or tasks tend to reap more than those who spend all their time thinking of their own desires.

51. What?? We’re not done yet????

52. Live, love, laugh and just enjoy the hell out of this life. Be kind, have fun, get crazy. We only get one shot at this, why not have fun while we’re here.

Happy birthday to me!!!!  Cheers!

It was a dark and stormy night…

I love storms. The sight of dark clouds building and racing toward you. Lightening streaking across the skies and thunder sending vibrations across the ground. There’s just nothing else that’s as awe-inspiring as the weather. When it gets like that, I love curling up on my huge armchair and watching the rain pelt against the window.

It’s Friday night and I’m free, on my way home from work. I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things, just one more errand that just has to be done before I can crash and enjoy the weekend looking at me in the face. When I went inside, the day was ok, overcast as it had been most of the day…rather blah, nothing dramatic. I was in the store just long enough to pick up some munchies, wine, along with some necessities like toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc… It took maybe 20 minutes to a half hour at the most. When I exited the store, all I saw was black, rolling clouds. Streaks of lightening and wind whipping across the parking lot.

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I stood there just outside the door for a few moments just looking at the beauty of it. Then I realized that a lot of that blackness I was looking at was actually a sheet of rain, really hard, drenching rain from the looks of it. Then my eyes scoped out where my car was and my brain kicked into gear trying to determine if I had a chance of reaching the car before the rain did. This storm was obviously moving fast judging from the fact that it was nowhere in sight when I entered and the length of time I had been in the store.

I knew I didn’t want to spend my first few hours of freedom standing under the protective canopy of the grocery store waiting on the rain to stop, so I immediately hightailed it toward my car. The storm marched toward me. My hair started whipping around my face and I could feel a few huge wet drops hitting me. When I got to the car, I practically threw everything in the trunk, taking special care with my wine bottles. Don’t want to mess around with those on a Friday night. I made it though. I even took the time to run over to the special cart places where you leave your shopping carts. I’ve seen shopping carts rolling willy-nilly in parking lots when storms move in. They can do some damage to cars and I don’t want to be responsible for scratching someone’s prized car. Anyway as soon as I jumped into my car, the rain started pelting the windshield.

I still needed to get home and into the house. Seeing as I live in the opposite direction of where the storm was coming from, I figured if I drive quickly (very quickly) I might have a chance to beat the storm. So I took off. I actually did get ahead of the storm and the mad race began again. This time taking all the bags out of the trunk and throwing them just inside the house, again taking special care with the wine bottles. I no sooner got everything inside and closed the trunk of the car before the raindrops started pelting me. Fate was working in my favor tonight.

The brunt of the storm has moved through, but it’s still raining. Cool sweetness of the earth soaking up the water from the heavens. Perfect time for this…

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Happy Friday everyone, hope your evening is as relaxing and sweet as mine is right now.

Being Yourself

Does anyone really understand how important it is to retain your own identity and to remain true to yourself? I do now and I think a lot of people realize it as they get older. Hence the high divorce rates, depression, etc…

The truly lucky ones (or perhaps they’re just wise beyond their years) hold on to their essence and seek out people that share the same feelings and desires.

A fellow blogger read my posts on Sanibel Island and she sent me a link, offering to share your own traveling experiences, to her own site. As I read it, I thought how so very fortunate this couple is to have found each other. They both appear to have the same desires and goals for life and have set out to accomplish it.

My mistake started at 16 years old. I met an older man, one who had a lot of emotional problems. Bi-polar, anxiety attacks, depression, among many other issues. I felt bad for him and wanted to help him move forward. I understand that people have issues that are hard to work through and I want to help them, but in my case I allowed him to change who I was so that life was bearable for him. I wasn’t a trained therapist, I hadn’t even finished high school so how the heck did I really think I was going to help anyone with such complicated issues?

My dreams were to travel. I would have loved nothing more than to have a trusted, loving partner that was willing to pick everything up and just go. Fly somewhere and get lost. Hike, drive, canoe… whatever. Just go and explore the world. I never thought I would settle down in one place at such an early age and wait for  – well what?? retirement? For my parents to need my help? That was years away and yet, it was his excuse. We couldn’t move anywhere because my parents were getting older and I needed to stay and take care of them. Okay, I had every intention of taking care of them, but what about now? Why is it that we have to stay here and wait on that time? I wanted to move. I wanted to go and explore with the free time we had then. We wouldn’t even become parents for another 19 years.

Bottom line was he had experienced so much upheaval in his life coupled with all the emotional issues that he wanted to put down roots and establish a secure, safe place for himself. I had been safe and secure my whole life and was ready to go and seek out adventure. A person who is insecure and scared is going to push the hardest to get his way, so I ended up trying to change myself to fit his life.

He didn’t like the way I dressed. Thought I needed to be more conservative. Okay… I did that.

He didn’t like me having friends. Said friends tend to break up relationships. Fine, eventually friendships drifted away.

Anytime I wanted to try something new, go back to school and further myself in terms of making money and career, he was threatened. Felt that he would lose me if I did so and did everything to discourage it. For love, I settled.

The problem was when one tries to change so much of themselves to fit another person – that change rarely sticks. I didn’t change because I felt I needed to. I changed for him and as the years went by, I slowly but surely slipped back to who I really was. I enjoyed people. I’m a very curious person and will choose to go down that desolate, curvy road just to see where it takes me while he would rather stay on the main road where he could see everything around him. Of course fights started coming more frequently because he felt threatened by me seeking things that he didn’t want anything to do with. I felt more and more suffocated being around him. When we were together, I really had nothing to say to him. He demanded constant togetherness to the point where there was no doing something then coming home and sharing fun stories. I felt as if I were dying inside. My thoughts were that I felt suffocated and trapped with him. We were married for 23 years before I finally broke loose.

This isn’t about a bad marriage or divorce. This is to say just how important it is to know yourself and what you want out of life. And when you know this, seek out people who share those same thoughts and feelings. Don’t settle or change for anyone. It might work out in the short run but rarely for the long run.

Here’s the link to the blog that was sent to me if anyone would like to read it. This couple reminds me of who I would have liked to have been. I may still travel, but I’ll have to wait till my teenager moves on with her life and even then, I still have my mother to worry about so – it may be a while before I can experience that total freedom that I should have grabbed onto those so many years ago.

http://www.atruetalltale.wordpress.com

To atruetalltale – Go for it and enjoy every moment.

Sanibel Island – Day 3

Woke up to a storm this morning. It was dark and raining outside. My initial reaction was disappointment because after all, one goes to the beach expecting (hoping for) sunny weather. Then after a few moments, I realized that it would be the perfect time to explore the island and check out information on kayaking. So, after an hour or so of my daughter dressing, rejecting, dressing again, several shirts strewn about on the bed and me sighing loudly in exasperation, we were finally ready to go.

By the time we walked outside the rain had slowed to a drizzle, just enough to keep it cool but yet still easy enough to drive around in considering I didn’t have a clue of where I was going to be driving. As it was, there was no need to worry about losing my way. There’s only a couple of main roads that takes one from the eastern part to the western part of the island. The island itself is roughly 8 or 9 miles long. It wasn’t packed from end to end with tourist stops and shops like so many tourist destinations are. There were gift stores and shelling stores but for the most part they were tastefully spaced apart. There were still so much undeveloped land throughout, which I love. I don’t much like places that are too touristy and overdeveloped.

At the end of Sanibel Island, there is another small bridge that connects to yet another island called Captiva. This island is even tinier but obviously home to some very affluent folks judging from the houses, or rather – mansions, we saw. A lot of them were set back deep in heavy foliage so we could just see that there was a large house and some elaborate detail but never enough to see the whole place. the island is so small that most of these houses have a view of the Gulf.  By this time the sun had come out clearing out all the storm clouds and the view was wonderful.

Some of the views these houses have….

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We took some pictures of the houses themselves but somehow I get the feeling it might be a violation of their privacy if I posted them here.

After driving about on this tiny little island, we decided to head to “Ding Darling”.   A national preserve that had been established on Sanibel years ago to protect the birds, marine life and wildlife that inhabit this place. If you looked at a map you would see that the southern part of the island is where the hotels and shops are and the top half is all preserved land. We weren’t able to drive through due to the roads being repaved, but they had kayaking trips that would take us into the mangroves. After talking with someone about this, we signed up for a kayaking trip departing at 8:15 the next morning.

Since the storm cleared out and the sun was out, it was time to head back to the hotel and get on the beach! Once on the beach, we could see that the overnight storm had kicked up even more shells than we had seen the previous days (if that could have been possible). The water was warm and gorgeous. If the beach was full of shells, I just knew that if I was patient, I should be able to find a perfect, unbroken shell specimen in the water. I wasn’t out there in waist deep water very long before I was rewarded with this…

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My perfect shell. It’s about the size of the palm of my hand.

My daughter on the other hand wasn’t so adventurous, she came out into the water but couldn’t handle all the shells brushing up against her feet. She’s the type that needs to know exactly what she’s stepping on and with the waves and current being so strong, there was no way to see that deep. I probably didn’t help matters when I kept digging around looking for shells and scooping up sand dollars. Every single time I scooped something out of the water, I had a sand dollar in my hand. They were live so of course I put them back, but she started freaking out over the fact that we were probably standing on a breeding ground for sand dollars and worried that we were hurting them. She finally couldn’t handle it anymore and went back up on the beach where she could keep an eye on what she was standing on. The sand dollars appeared to be clustered in a line at a certain point all up and down the coast so I just moved away from there and kept diving and digging. I found more large shells but nothing quite as perfect as the one above. That’s ok, though…one gift from the sea was wonderful.

To bed early again, the sun and salt water is really putting my mind and body into serious relaxation mode.