10 years ago…

Ten years, a decade, a century has ten decades, different generations between each one.

My daughter and I were sitting in the Costco check out line. She looks at my member card that she is holding waiting for it to be scanned. She asks me how old I am in the photo on the back. I look at it, it says the date taken, so I know it was ten years ago…

So many thoughts rushed through my memory, so many emotions brought to the surface with one innocent little question.

She asks again, but how old are you, I say it was ten years ago, so ten years younger than I am now. Wow. I am thirty nine. The huge difference between twenty nine and thirty nine are endless but its not that that sticks to me as a shock to the heart. As I ponder her question. She looks at me curiously, and repeats herself, but how old are you here? I say I was twenty nine, she says then how old are you now, I feel a tiny bit annoyed that she wont do the math herself. I am ten years older I repeat, not wanting to say out loud how old I am for some reason. But she persists and I answer I am thirty nine now. This appeases her curiosity.

My mind wanders, where did the last ten years go, I look at the picture, I remember taking it, I remember thinking after that I should have taken my hair out of my ponytail or at least the ugly headband off. Ten years ago was in the before time…

Before my daughter who just asked this question that stirred uncomfortable thoughts was born. Before my daughter before her, whose short life and traumatic events changed me forever. It was when my dad’s dementia was only beginning and his memory of us still good. When both my maternal grandparents were still alive and I saw them every Wednesday for lunch. That created the eternal memory for my then two and four year old boys who call the soup that we always ate there, a simple can of chicken noodle soup, nonnos soup. The mint they’d have after a nonnos mint. To this day we still refer to those two specific items as such. Before I knew grief was embedded in everything. Before I had met dozens of other parents who lost children of various ages to various diseases or tragedy. Before I lost a few years of my boys life to a quiet depression that kept me a moving, walking, doing, zombie. Before I was old. Before when I thought I would still finish my arts degree. When I thought I’d still go out dancing one day. Before when I thought I would go back to work. When I still had hopes and dreams because I was only twenty nine. Ten years later I have a fourteen and a twelve year old, an 8 year old who lives in my mind and a seven year old who amazes me daily. Which always causes the question in my head, had Lily survived would she be here, they would be so different, I can’t dissect those thought too much without immense guilt and eventual tears. Ten years ago I was in the thick of toddler hood, just me and my boys out happlity at the park searching for slugs and worms on a daily basis. Before the racing around to multiple after school activities started. Before life became too busy. When it was slow and I was ignorantly happy. Before my life became consumed by grief and aware of the possibility of tragedy in everyday life. Before my eyes were opened.

Ten years is a long time that passes in an instant. In reflection it was not a wasted ten years just gone so fast and the moments in between so large and life changing. We will see what the next ten will hold. If only we could stop time, just for a moment.

 

Thanks for reading

Sheri

What is a mother    

What is a mother 

A mother is love

A mother is tears

Happy , sad, scared tears, tears for the unknown.

A  mother is worry for their health, kindness, calm. joy, hope and faith.

A mother is not caring so much about how I look but how I react, not caring so much about how clean everything is as long as we had fun making the mess.

 A mother is wanting to always keep a child safe while not sheltering them from the real world, wanting them to learn on their own accord at their own pace.

A mother is not always blood

A mother is wanting them to laugh, not the cause of their cries.

A mother is taking a moment to breath, when you want to scream.

A mother is letting go of your trauma to make good memories  for your child.

 A mother is not afraid of saying no or being hurt when they get mad for saying no.

A mother is security

A mother is offering a hug before an interrogation.

A mother is pain

A mother is safety

A mother is you being there for a child no matter how far they stray

A mother is letting them go though you want them to stay


 

Written (2010) while watching my own kids grow, Edited (2020) for the things we both have learned along the way.

 

*Dedicated to the memory of George Floyd, a black man who screamed for his mother while being suffocated to death at the hands of a white police officer.

art for blog

*Palestinian-American artist Shirien Damra’s illustration paying tribute to George Floyd.

 

 

Thanks for reading

Sheri

 

Singularity

I just finished a book titled ‘The time of my life’ by Cecilia Ahern

Its the second time I gravitated to it, only getting a few chapters in the last time and maybe not understanding the concept got bored. This time, after a few weeks stuck at home. #Quarantine2020 I picked it up again.

Its concept is that when we’re ignoring our inner self our outer self suffers. When we pretend we’re fine things go wrong because we’re not paying attention to our lives. For me this was the perfect time to finish this book, to fully grasp its concept. I’m feeling so gross and bloated all the time, stuffing my face because I’m pretending I’m fine, going through the every day motions as though I dont matter.

But I do matter and unfortunately it took a pandemic to realize that I need to take control of my life. So I accepted the offer to start school in September in the special Education teaching program, even though I tried relentlessly to talk myself out of it. And I will see where doing something for myself will take me.

 

 

its-funny-how-we-outgrow-what-we-once-thought-we-54804826

 

 

This morning this poem popped up in my feed and I felt it. Its one of those descriptions of thoughts that are hard to put into words but this person has, so I’m sharing it.

Thanks for reading,

I wish you a peaceful Sunday.

Sheri

 

 

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngSINGULARITY
by Marie Howe

Do you sometimes want to wake up to the singularity
we once were?

so compact nobody
needed a bed, or food or money —

nobody hiding in the school bathroom
or home alone

pulling open the drawer
where the pills are kept.

For every atom belonging to me as good
Belongs to you.
   Remember?

There was no   Nature.    No
them.   No tests

to determine if the elephant
grieves her calf    or if

the coral reef feels pain.    Trashed
oceans don’t speak English or Farsi or French;

would that we could wake up   to what we were
— when we were ocean    and before that

to when sky was earth, and animal was energy, and rock was
liquid and stars were space and space was not

at all — nothing

before we came to believe humans were so important
before this awful loneliness.

Can molecules recall it?
what once was?    before anything happened?

No I, no We, no one. No was
No verb      no noun
only a tiny tiny dot brimming with

is is is is is

The end?

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I’ve been married for 13 years (7/7/7)…

 

Together for 19 years (08/18/01)…

 

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And today we hate each other.

This was the last picture we took together (below) a night in Whistler, something I had been booking and planning for the last 10 years, once a year for us. T be able to get away together… Why he’s never planned one is not lost on me. It started for my  30th knowing he wouldn’t plan anything… This year I turn 40, I know he again will not plan anything…

 

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We have 4 beautiful kids together, 7,12,14 and a should be 8 who died at 2 months old.

 

View More: https://preciousmomentswithelissa.pass.us/sheri

We have lost grandparents, all 4, as well as friends and other family to life;death.

It’s hard to see at first that you’ve grown apart until you realize you have been trying too hard to concede. Or at least I did.

We disagree on all things from how the homeless should be treated to the proper way to address the issue of importance in front of our kids. From what he thinks is acceptable in regards to racist or sexist jokes to what I think is me drawing the line.

My kids have been my life. I have spent countless hours awake, scared, crying while he laid snoring beside me.

Planning, organizing, preparing, juggling.

10 years ago I wanted to leave, we went to Mexico with our 2&4 year olds, something I had been begging for. I read Eat Pray Love by Liz Gilbert while there, it resonated do deeply. I was encouraged to try.

I worked on myself and I did manage to become happier.

But not because of him, because I did things for me, I applied to University and got in and loved my first classes. I felt like me again. I was learning.

It was me willing to work on myself that made me happy, not him. But 10 years later, I still feel lost and alone.

Not to say he hasn’t tried and I haven’t reciprocated but for him its about sex and for me about growth.

I have been trying to graduate from post secondary school since we met really, but in the early days was busy working to pay my rent, and when I could finally, I was with kids, and then when they were in school, I re applied and got in but got pregnant, with a my 3rd who later died. When I had the strength to reapply, I was pregnant again.

My kids have been my everything and he does not get it.

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I was recently accepted to a program that only takes in 38 students a year/ program. We are going through the Covid 19 pandemic.

Everything is shut down. I can pay 500$ and risk losing it if nothing changes. I worry that if my kids who have not been in school for 3 weeks goes until next September when it starts. He says you should just stop caring about regret and do it then. But that was after he said why would you apply now then?

I applied 3 months ago before this started, I was ready to do it full time and sacrifice without “regret” this year of being there for my babies…

We argued, he yells criticism and confusing testaments that make me wonder if he ever listens. Its always been this way.

Why do I stay? What am I waiting for? Why am I so scared?

Something has changed slowly over time. Neither of us care as much. Neither want to try anymore.

When do you concede defeat?

When do you say it’s the End?

Sheri

 

Tangled in knots

The other day I was in charge of coordinating, organising and physically carrying out a lice check from Kindergarten to Grade 5 at our school. Simple enough task…

We got through the youngest ones, I was starting a grade 5 class, these kids roughly 10 turning 11 years old by the end of the year. They are newly aware of the changes in their bodies and brain functions causing them to re think, overthink or over analyze their own reactions and behaviors. A time when we unfortunately become increasingly aware of our surroundings as well as how those around us may perceive us…

I started at the front of the first row, we decided going up and down each row in class with our tools better (faster) and less disruptive to instruction than calling each child out individually into the hall.  I noticed a girl, more than the others were, watching me. I could feel her anxiety. I try my best to make the kids comfortable, I ask them their name, comment how nice their hair color, length, girth, style etc…  is.

I finished the first 2 rows , she was still watching, waiting, I walked past her desk to put the wooden hair separators I had used already into the garbage and grab clean ones. she came close to me and said I have to tell you something. I looked at this beautiful dark skinned girl that was staring at her hands and smiled. She continues, as she is pulling the hood off her head, “you see, I used to have braids (her hair; very tightly curled black hair) and when you take them out its a bit of a mess…” She sort of points to the back of her head. I smile again and say ‘shall I just check quickly now, you have beautiful hair, it will be fine’. I grab my stick and easily separate some hair at the top, but as she warned at the base it was very much a large dreadlock hard to seperate. In that moment so many things flashed into my mind.

How nervous she must have been feeling, but brave she was to approach me, how different than the mostly white and asian students in regards to hair she obviously feels, the anxiety the notice of this lice/hair check clearly gave her as she tensed as soon as I entered the room. How I wanted to take her and spend the hours needed to detangle her hair, though I don’t even know if that’s possible, I felt naive to understanding what ‘black people’ need to deal with in regards to their hair. The shame society has placed on them because of it. She had it hidden after all under a hood. My heart hurt for this little 10 year old girl who deserved nothing but an education in a safe space but clearly felt judge and worry as well.

It also reminded me of the most embarrassing moment of my childhood. The reason I make my kids wash and brush their hair(because my mom didn’t). My mom, a mom of the 80’s whose motto was basically, “they(you) will figure it out” however vague and spread out in options that meant for us…

I was away at Girl guide camp (in grade 5 coincidentally enough) and it was a special weekend, I don’t remember specifically, mothers day, or easter maybe anyway, one of the leaders offered to give all the girls in our cabin of 6 girls french braids to go home in! We were all so excited at how nice we would look! I will never forget the feeling of shame and embarrassment when she got to me. All the other girls looked so pretty in their braids, she could barely comb to the middle half of my head because my hair was so knotted in tangles, she couldn’t or maybe didn’t want to bother, but I remember it was so easy and fast for all the others and she sat there for an hour trying to brush my hair and eventually settled on the top quarter being braided and tying the rest back in a ponytail. After the fact I remember analyzing, were they all laughing at me behind my back? Did she chose me last because she had already noticed my hair was so gross? I don’t remember if it taught me to want to wash and brush my hair more but it did teach me that my mom didn’t care enough about me to not keep me from being so embarrassed.

This girl who tracked my steps around her class, nervously waiting for me to check her knotted hair, I hope I calmed her nerves in how I reacted. I pray she felt relief.

It is an interesting thing in life to have random moments bring us back to old memories, good or bad.

I do believe kids need to learn on their own but they also need constant reminders and help and a little push especially if they don’t want to things they should like bathe, or wear climate appropriate clothing, eat vegetables etc. However, I have a feeling with this girl its not her fault her hair is so tangled.  I really hope she didn’t feel shame that day. I was curious what it takes for  her so I googled it and wow! Here is the link to what I see as an incredibly hard task on top of the rest of your life to deal with every day.

https://www.wikihow.com/Detangle-African-Hair

I have always thought black womens/girls hair is so beautiful and after finding out the lengths they need to go through for it to look that way! I am in awe and admiration. I thought I would include a few other links about detangling hair.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

 

7 Easy Steps To Detangling Natural Black Hair Safely

https://www.allure.com/story/single-strand-knots-natural-curly-hair

https://www.womenshealthmag.com/beauty/g26325730/best-hair-detangler/

 

 

So it starts and the next 6 months are heavy…

The following months that lead up to my girls supposed to be 7th birthday, which is followed by the 7th date since her death (2 months later) so needless to say my not so good months of the year are soon to come; this time of year for me is heavy.

September:

As the beginning of another season.  The changing colors, fallen leaves of autumn, the beginning of another school year. Another year of growth for my other children, a new grade, a new teacher, whole new experiences. And one looming thought… the little girl who would be entering Grade 2, what would she choose to be for Halloween as an almost 7 year old? would she start to love math and hate art? How tall would she be now? …

October:

My birth month, never a big celebration as I do not like being the focus or for money wasted. But the thoughts are always there, as I age. Am I wiser? Do I care more or less? I guess its all changed dramatically over time, through grief, because of life and its unrelenting series of events, be them good or bad. The future or death really is always at the back of my mind. And of course another Thanksgiving holiday without her…

November:

I do not know if you’ve ever been to a schools Remembrance day ceremony? (Nov.11) Usually some of the kids sing sad songs while a slide show of graves and war pictures fill the room. Poems are read by innocent voices, too young to really understand the words that seem to make the adults in the rooms tear up. Outside becomes quite cold, the trees are bare and I always think of how in November of 2011 I was 8 months pregnant about to have a baby…

December:

Was my favorite month, before… I used to decorate December 1st for the holiday season, a fun day of unpacking years of decorations, an activity I would get excited for every beginning of Fall. Something I once loved so much. Is now something I dread. Another Christmas she wont be here, her stocking,  another birthday (Dec 30th) we wont celebrate, followed immediately by a new year. December is the worst…

January:

How I made those 3 hour round trips to the hospital everyday, how I begged (felt like anyway) friends to watch my other kids so I didn’t have to drag them there every day. The cold, dark days, the fact another year has gone by just like that…

February:

Is the shortest month of the year but the longest in my memory. I went out, for the first time in 11 months, to a parent advisory meeting, it was Tuesday February 11 2012, I went because an acclaimed parent speaker was giving a talk that night. Another mom commented, how she couldn’t believe I was there, you know having a newborn and all. She didn’t know I was trying for normalcy after what I had been going through since the traumatic birth of my daughter. The speaker had just started and 20 min in I got a call from my husband. He forgot to give our daughter her phenobarb (phenobarbitol is a seizure medication) hers was given through her G-tube and as I had always given the dose, he didn’t actually know how to. I later found out he called because our then almost 4 year old had fallen near where she was laying and it startled her so much that she went blank, he was scared and called me with the excuse she needed her medicine, which was partly true. So I left. I got home at 830, kissed my little 3 & 5 year old boys goodnight and heard Steve scream for me. Sheri come here! I ran down the stairs, I could hear the terror in his voice. Shes not breathing! I grabbed her from him, I yelled to call 911, to tell them an infant is unconscious and not breathing, that is what I learnt you say when you need them to come to you first. But in this case was also true. He put the speaker on, I explained I was giving her CPR but it wasn’t working, she asked me if I tilted her neck (step 2!) no, as soon as I did, she gasped for air. Seconds later the ambulance was at our door and once again I was abandoning my other babies in the middle of the night. Once again I was terrified and watching my littlest baby be hooked up to multiple cords, poked for IVs. But all I kept thinking was how my boys would be scared and sad when they woke up and their mom and sister were gone. I was up all night, they got her stable and all seemed on the up and up the next day, until she had 3 more seizures and I ran down the hallway as the room filled with too many doctors and nurses, codes being yelled over the PA. She was transferred back to Children’s Hospital where, x-rays and CT scans found other problem we never knew about, she needed a tracheotomy to breathe (a hole in her throat) if we wanted her to live. That was on top of the 3 heart surgeries we were already waiting for her to have, before this happened. She would never survive them, she wasn’t healthy enough, chances were slim for a healthy baby, which she wasn’t. I remember sitting in my room staring out the window as the doctor explained all the surgeries. That we needed to meet very soon to make a decision.

The world went still for me.

They tried to move us to the children’s hospice but I was too scared that she would die  during transfer. Another regret I carry.

Tuesday February 18 2012 we signed a DNC (do not resuscitate) they took our her breathing tube, and IV and I held her as she took or struggled more like through her last breath.

Her funeral was a week later and shortly after that it began… the you must be ok by now comments that infuriated me, the you can have another comments, the she’s not suffering anymore, those expecting me to smile only months after her death. little did they know my grief journey hadn’t even started, as I was in denial after the shock wore off. Now I relive those early days, the middle struggle and the final blow every year and it starts in September and goes until February 28 when I get a slight reprieve from the heavy feeling that seems to live in my heart 6 months a year.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

 

poor baby

Its not about me…

‘His sister died when he was 6’ I recently had to explain to the principal of my older son at school in regards to an issue about behavior and something that had occurred between him and another boy. The call went silent, no I didn’t know that…

‘Its his sister, who died 2  years ago’ I explained to my other sons kindergarten teacher after he asked about a drawing my younger son had drawn that included his sister and that he couldn’t explain to the teacher, who thought he was seeing ghosts or had an imaginary friend, it came from a concerned place I believe…

‘He lost his little sister in kindergarten’ which can explain why he is a quieter kid I said to the vice principal when asked about any issues they should know about as he was starting a new school for grade 3…

Not to forget the mass emails I had to send out to coaches and current teachers(at the time), their friends parents about my boys losing their sister back in 2012, when they were only 4 and 6. How I had to explain typing through my own hand soaked tears about what happened and to please be easy with my children in these difficult times and upcoming days and weeks…

How every time I had to mention it, include it or divulge this piece of my broken heart, I always did so with their best interest in mind, in hopes that gentler gloves could deal with them if issues arose, hadn’t they been through enough? ‘Losing’ their parents right after Christmas when they went to the hospital to have their little sister not to return for days then for the next 51 days being driven around by neighbors and friends parents as their own parents were suddenly gone at the hospital all the time. Our house became quiet those dark weeks that turned into months, our children had gone from happy innocent children, to those that not only lost their baby sister but the parents they knew forever, because we were never the same again. I wanted people to understand my kids didn’t need to suffer anymore. It wasn’t about me.

So I shared and it made people uncomfortable. Uncomfortable to be around me but its not about me…

Every time I had to fill out a form asking for any necessary reasons for concerns the pen hovered, do I mention their loss? do I say they may say her name, do I recall painful details? Does it matter to them? or this situation? I did get to a point years later where I stopped filling it out, thinking time enough had passed I didn’t need to, until a couple weeks ago I go a call that my son was in trouble at school. We talked briefly, my son had apparently jokingly said he was going to kill someone, in his defense his young, undeveloped brain of 13 did not understand that saying this is equal to saying you have a bomb on a plane in today’s world, especially with school shootings and such, but lesson learned he will never speak like that again, joking or not…

This boy in particular had recently lost a family member and was feeling a bit touchy, and was acting out at school, when prompted he said what my son had said to him which set off a firestorm of ‘rules’ that needed to be followed. Long story shortened the 4th call with the principal, I felt the need to tell him about how my son had lost his sister when he was 6, he had gotten into trouble in kindergarten because of his grief and anger at school and people did not tell me about it, it was shielded from me so to speak. when I found out I was so upset, upset I could have been there for my little boy, upset at having that teachable moment taken from me, that even in our own pain we do not physically fight with others, that if he felt a certain way all he had to do was call me or ask the teacher to call me and I would have been there. I didn’t say this to the principal but what I explained was that my sons never been in trouble, not since this incident in kindergarten and now 6 years later, he is in grade 7 and was crying as the school (police) liaison officer spoke to him about his “threat” I was not there. I see I have made the principal uncomfortable, because since this incident when I see him in the hallways it is different, as it was back then after someone found out…

The time I had to explain my middle sons drawings to his kindergarten teacher, the same thing happened, he looked at me with pity, as soon as I mentioned he lost his sister he said but stopped himself mid way ‘so you lost a’… I kept talking about my son, it was not about me…

Or the time my oldest was in grade one, so the same year she died, his teacher at the 1st parent teacher interview, says to me so I know about lily, I said oh? she says H(my son) talks about her a lot, I explain we/he goes to group therapy at Canucks Children Hospice and is encouraged to talk about her, she says its OK but that he seems tired a lot. Yeah, me too I thought. Grief is tiring, but it wasn’t about me…

Or the time when my oldest was in grade 4 and wrote this on his jump rope for heart heart…

Hayden gr 4

Or 2 weeks ago when I dropped off my middle sons violin, who was 4, in preschool when his sister died and is in grade 5 now, I found this on his desk…

** Every year elementary schools in Canada participate in the Jump rope for heart campaign.

logan gr 5

 

So as I have said, felt, voiced since 2012, yes my heart broke when I lost my daughter, my third child but my heart broke even more witnessing what my sons went through, still learn to grow through. So no, its not about me…

Thanks for reading.

Sheri

Lost in Life

Do you ever feel stuck? lost? confused at how you got here?

We go through the motions, awake, pee, drink coffee, begin daily mind-numbing tasks that incessantly nag at us to be completed. Take out the garbage, empty the compost, fill and unload the dishwasher, turn on the dryer, wipe the counters, lock the door and off to work, errands, kids obligations.

Some days you wonder how you made it this far, to this day of this month. Did you forget anything this week? today? Probably but you wont remember until you are trying to fall asleep later.

That voice irritates your brain, the one asking you what you are doing, the one that demands action but your heavy bones refuse to allow the motions needed to complete the tasks you think you need to do.

When someone we love, admire, cherish, take care of dies, we pass a peace of our heart to the other side. What comes back is like a stone in its place, a cold hard heavy stone. But the weight of the world is not only in death but in life. What we view around us, what we forgive or allow. Who we help or don’t. How do we keep going when it all becomes mundane.

A favorite saying of mine , don’t let the world make you cold, don’t let the pain steal your light,  or something… here’s the real one…

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I cant focus my thoughts, I cant focus my energy, I haven’t felt so un motivated since my days stuck in raw grief. when the zombie like state of my brain and body just got me from day to day without the realization of what I was doing. Am I depressed? maybe, am I bored with life? yes. What we do day after day is how we live our lives right? so if its spent doing the same monotonous tasks what are we really doing? Are we even living?

What is the purpose,

the point of it all?

I try to remind myself we are here to help others.

To do good. To keep going.

So, I will continue.

Thanks for reading

Sheri

 

Distressed; a poem of thoughts on society

Distress

shuddering shaking shock

cries violence outrage

constantly taking stock

too little love too weak to care

too few are concerned with so much consumption

greed death lies oh how time flies

another day another tragedy another loss to add to the pile

the ever growing mound of grief of life

as the trees disappear and the waters muddy

some things come clear the motives of the businesses destroying the planet

the needs of the poor ignored through our shallow deeds of neglect and fear

we will all take our last breath but none know when

we live as though promised the pot of gold at the end

we push we pull we step on each others hands to climb the endless mountain fill its demand

our bodies shake overcome with distress but we plough onward forging through the mess

the smog filed air we breathe as thick as our goggles of ignorance

we wash away our sins with chemically treated springs

inject the fountain of youth to our foreheads and lips pretending no one notices the blip

because we cannot accept reality the demons our demise

we wash down our daily gluten free bread with overpriced fermented potatoes

praying for sleep to subside our unrest, our need to ignore reality overwhelms it gets our best

 screens sewn to our palms to engage anger enthrall

no need for eye contact no room left to fall

stay positive use a filter deny the walls we have built

lest us be reminded of our guilt

shaking subsides some see through the lies

others can breathe free without the worry for you and me

they have more than they need they were ‘blessed’ loved more perhaps

lay in our beds cover our heads put down our screen adjust to being mean

another day awaits

we all have taken the bait

 

 

 

 

 

 

I quite literally sat down after an emotional morning and let it out, so I apologize if it is darker or less positive or depressing to read.

Sometimes life is.

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri