New Headshots: It Takes A Village


With each new book that releases, I get to have new headshots taken. I think new headshots are fun. WAY FUN.

Here is my favorite–

afd_headshot_lowres

It looks like me, but a really-fancy-done-up version of me.

As these collection of pictures make their way around the internet and magazines and et cetera over the next few months, it’s important to me that you know what it takes to get this kind of picture.

I stand on a lot of stages in front of a lot of girls who hear over and over again about pictures getting photoshopped and such, but there’s so much that goes on before the picture even gets snapped- and we compare ourselves to this finished pictures.

So I want to show you what this day looked like from start to finish- so that we all (myself included) remember that it takes a village to create these kind of beautiful pieces.

And it was a really really fun day and I’m so happy with the final result.

. . . . .

I’m so honored that Micah Kandros would take this gig photographing me. If you’ve read Perfectly Unique, you know my story and my issues, so it’s important to me on days like this to have someone on the other side of the camera that is a good friend and who loves me no matter what.

And then I bring in a makeup and hair person that does all the magic before Micah even gets started with his magic skillz.

So here’s the first pic of the day- the way I show up when I wake up (with a spray tan and waxed eyebrows that were taken care of the previous day by the wonderful Tanastacia). And behind me is Kelley Kirker, hair and makeup extraordinaire. (No kidding, Nashville, when you need hair and makeup, this is your gal.) Look at all her tools. It takes a village, people.

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And here’s a clean face Annie ready to get rolling. And scared face Kelley knowing the work she has ahead.

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Then the girl got to work and MADE IT HAPPEN. There was shading and contouring and all sorts of movements that I did not know makeup could do. I was like, “whoaaaa, Kel. Whoa.” Because she’s good, y’all.

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My outfits- clothes, shoes, and jewelry- are all, obviously, from Amber Lehman. She knows me, she dresses me, she makes me happy in outfits I wouldn’t have seen for myself.

And then Micah demonstrated how he wanted me to sit. Because that’s funny.

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So I sat there. And did what he told me to- turning my head like this, crossing my legs like that, crossing my arms just so. Many times it felt super awkward and like I would look ridiculous, but Micah knew exactly what he was doing and knew exactly how to manipulate my posing for the best result possible.

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Crazy, huh? That look on my face is like, “wait, you want me to do what?” And maybe a little, “this is weird to me.”

I love love love these pictures. We even did a few outside. (It was hot outside, btw, in early October. And even Intern Sarah got to assist on the shoot.)

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So I sat on my friend’s driveway wall (is that a thing?) and had to do a weird lean forward and head turn for Micah….

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but it turned out like this and I was all, “whoaaaaa… you’re a magician.”

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And I own none of these clothes, by the way, except the belt and the flowery pants. The rest were borrowed. That jean jacket, honestly, did NOTHING for my body except in this one singular shot. So away it went.

Here’s what.

We see pictures of movie stars and athletes and authors and anyone else who gets to spend money on hiring a professional village to create this kind of photo. I hired five professionals. FIVE PEOPLE spending an entire day to get, in the end, about six pictures that we will use.

I’m grateful for their talent and skills and the way the pictures turned out. But hopefully this is a good reminder to you, as it is to me, that professional photographs are the hard work of a lot of people.

Big thanks to Tanastacia, Amber, Kelley, Sarah, and Micah. <3

Tuebook Tuesday Part Tue


Well now I’ve started something I don’t want to quit.

Like eating Cadbury Creme Eggs. (Easter come quickly.)

I just love getting to tell y’all about books and two more great books release today that I think you should know about (and And AND stick around to the end for giveaways!).

. . . . .

Hope Runs by Claire Diaz-Ortiz and Samuel Ikua Gachagua

Hope Runs CoverTwo years ago, I sat on my back porch and cried, having just finished THIS INTERVIEW with Sammy. He’s an incredible young man. I believe in that kid.

I interviewed Claire for What’s Your Mark?, a book I wrote with Jeremy Cowart and we immediately hit it off. I respect her so much, her work ethic and her investment in Sammy.

And this book, written by both of them, tells the story of how they became a family. It will make you tear up, people. It is beautifully written and a story like nothing else I’ve ever read. I think this would be an incredible graduation gift for guys or girls and a sweet Mother’s Day gift.

Also, if you order Hope Runs within the next 10 days, Claire has lassoed up all sorts of freebies. So don’t miss out on that.

. . . . .

The Illusion of More by Harris III

harrisiiiPeople are often asking me for books that a whole youth group can use- that boys will like and girls will like and leaders will like. This one from Harris III, master illusionist, is that exactly. I’ve gotten to look through it and I kept saying, “this is SO needed! This is SO good!” And then he pulled a rabbit out of my hat and I was like “I DON’T EVEN OWN A HAT.”

(Nah. That’s a dumb joke. Sorry.)

(But I’m giggling soooo….)

The theme is perfect for any of us- what lies do you believe? Is the grass always greener on the other side?

Here’s a video to tell you more about the book. (Click over if you can’t see it, subscribers. It’s gooooooood.)

Great, huh? I know. You’re gonna love it.

. . . . .

So here’s the Tuebook Tuesday Giveaway!

There will be three winners. (I KNOW! INSANE!) One person will win Hope Runs, one will win The Illusion of More, and one lucky duck will win BOTH!

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below of why you’d like one of these books (or both!) and we’ll randomly pick winners early Wednesday!

Happy reading! :)

PCOS Update: After you jumpstart….


3 Posted in PCOS

Two weeks ago, I spoke at an event where, in passing, I mentioned that I have PCOS. Mainly, I was lamenting that pizza is just a memory in my life. Whah whah.

To most people, the acronym PCOS doesn’t even stick in their minds. But for girls who have struggled – with infertility, weight issues, hair loss, etc – it brings tears to their eyes. Or so they told me, after I came off the stage.

And immediately I told them about PCOS Diva. Here’s the thing about Amy- she doesn’t have all the answers about this particular disease, but she curates tons of the answers, and knows A LOT. At this point, I have done extensive research and reading and she really is the best PCOS website with the most information.

And as you’ll recall, I did the PCOS Jumpstart Program a few weeks ago. You pay $99 and get a full menu and shopping list, a schedule for the week, and access to daily classes – with tips, reflections, and the ability to chat with and encourage the other women in the same program.

Now that I’ve completed the Jumpstart Program, I promised you my thoughts, so here they are:

– I was surprised how much the week focused on self-care. I was unaware how much self-care matters when it comes to PCOS symptoms. But it’s true and I have seen it in my life- my symptoms rage when I’m stressed and tired, but when I’m well-rested and handling my stress well, I’m much healthier.

– If I have healthy snacks and foods in my house, I will eat them. If those are the options, I eat at home more and I eat better.

– Menu planning for a week is worth the work and effort- to make the grocery list and look at the week as a whole. BUT…

– Following a menu that makes 4+ servings per recipe gets tough for a singlet. So I ended up freezing some portions of food that I made- whether it was soups or granola bars- my freezer is packed.

– Because of PCOS, my body needs salad greens every day. Gross. I don’t like them. But if I can make myself eat a serving of salad a day, it’s good for my bod. And that’s the goal– to do whatever it takes to make my body do right and feel right, even if I don’t like the taste.

– I’ll be better at a PCOS lifestyle when Cadbury Creme Eggs aren’t in season. :)

– The supplements that Amy tells you to take have had a really positive effect on me.

– The week was challenging- there is a lot of focus that Amy asks of you. If it would have been a week when I was traveling for speaking, I would not have been able to do it. Even so, I was gone for the last 36 hours of the week and I was unable to keep up with the “class” portion of the program.

So what now?

Here’s the reality: taking care of PCOS isn’t a diet. It’s not. Not even a little. It’s a way we get to live- something I will have to (get to?) think about every day of my life.

So this week was a great reminder of what matters, how much my health deserves attention regularly, and Amy offers great recipes, but it wasn’t a short term “diet” or quick fix. It was exactly what it is called- a jumpstart.

If you have PCOS, or know someone who does, I really recommend the Jumpstart Program. Also, feel free to share these PCOS blog posts with anyone you know who may have PCOS. I’m happy to share my journey with others!  

(By the way, Amy from PCOS Diva hasn’t paid me or asked me to blog about this. I just kinda feel like there are enough of you out there reading and wondering what to do with this disease that I’m happy to write about what I have found helpful.)

I’m having all the fun right now on the internet.


5 Posted in I heart books.

I just need you to know this.

Here’s why.

Speak-Love

Talk about God opening a HUGE door! Amazon picked Speak Love (a TEEN CHRISTIAN book!) to be their Kindle Daily Deal. Yes, everyone at Zondervan freeeeeeaked out. Because y’all! What is God up to that He has made a way for this book about the power of words to get into a LOT more hands!!?!

So if you don’t have it yet, grab it today! Less than TWO DOLLARS!

And feel free to grab this graphic and share the deal with your people. (Would you please share the deal with your people?)

But it is JUST for today- like, literally. Amazon don’t play. So tell your people! You know what they say… don’t let the sun go down on your empty Kindle…. or something like that.

Speaking of books….

noisetrade

Did you get your two free chapters of Let’s All Be Brave? I am so honored by the response so far, the hundreds of people who have downloaded it and so many who have written me to say they have been moved by it. And as I tweeted last week, you have NO IDEA how much that means with as much challenge and heartache as I experienced in the writing of it. I have asked God over and over to please let the pain matter and make a difference. I pray it does.

You can pre-order Let’s All Be Brave now if you liked the first two chapters enough to want to finish it. If you didn’t…. uh… don’t tell me yet. I’m still a bit of a tenderheart about this one. :)

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On Tuesdays and Thursdays this month, I’m on The Chat with Priscilla. Yes, Priscilla Shirer. I’m gonna write a whole blog post about it, but I want you to know that you can tune in this month to see the two-part series on What Women Wish Men Knew. And this picture of Angie Smith and I? It’s my favorite. I love her so much.

lifeway

I also got to blog at the LifeWay Women All Access blog about what women wish men knew. And I got to write about my Vandy boys, so you know that was joy to my heart.

Also, I’m sorry these graphics have you dealing with four versions of my face.

Amen and happy Wednesday.

Let’s All Be Brave.


noisetrade

To be honest, I’m already a little teary over here.

Here it is. This is the book you know I’ve been working on, the one that almost broke me, the one that I tell people, “may have done something to my insides that will never fix”… in some good and bad ways. :) And I finally get to spill the beans.

Her name is Let’s All Be Brave. And this book is for you.

For adults. For college students. For men. For women. For anyone.

I absolutely love writing books for teen girls, and I hope I get to keep doing that, but I’ve always wanted to write a book for you, my friends, and Zondervan gave me the chance.

What’s Let’s All Be Brave about? Here’s an official blurb from official people.

“In Let’s All Be Brave, Annie’s first book for adults, Annie calls you to grab hold of the brave life you desperately desire. Using honest and often humorous illustrations from her own life, contemporary real-life examples, and fascinating biblical stories, she challenges you to step into those places that require courage and gives you the help you need to take the next step forward . . . even when it’s scary.”

So. There you go. My personal blurb?

Let’s All Be Brave was really hard to write, but my editor took a good book and made it a great book and I will cry whenever I get to actually hold a copy because my heart lives on those pages.”

The book doesn’t release until July 29, 2014, so we’ve got a good four months. But you can always go ahead and pre-order it from your local bookstore or your favorite online retailer.

. . . . .

Zondervan, in partnership with NoiseTrade, has done something unbelievable today.

. . . . .

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS OF LET’S ALL BE BRAVE FOR FREE!

. . . . .

Here are the first two chapters,

beautifully packaged into a PDF

and ready and waiting for you over at NoiseTrade.

I think that’s incredible. And nerve-racking. And whoa.

(Also. There is a place to leave a tip. You don’t have to do that, but if you do, know that money will go towards much needed redesign and rebuilding on anniefdowns.com to make the website and book more accessible to more people.)

. . . . .

I believe in this book. I believe in what God will do with this book. And I’m so happy to finally tell you about it! I hope you’ll download the sample chapters, I hope you’ll pre-order it, and I hope you’ll tell your friends today about the free chapters!

Phew. Glad to have that secret off my chest. :) Happy Wednesday!

Tuebook Tuesday.


See what I did there?

I want to tell you about two books that release today that I think will really impact the planet. And I thought about titling the blog post “Two Book Twos Day,” but that felt even dumber… if that’s possible. So I went with “Tuebook” and I actually really like it and will probably use it repeatedly.

Okay. So the books.

Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker

motherhood

I’ve loved Lisa-Jo Baker for a long time. She is a dear friend and partner in crime over at (in)courage. She wrestled with this book- I watched and listened from afar- and I know that she put her heart and soul all over those pages. It’s beautifully written, somber at times, hopeful front to back, and from what I’m hearing online, there is not a mama who has not been moved by this book.

So go ahead and grab it to read yourself or to give to a mama who may need a little encouragement this season.

 

. . . . .

Moment Maker by Carlos Whittaker

momentmaker

Carlos and Heather Whittaker have absolutely become my people here in Nashville. I knew them both barely when we all lived in Atlanta, and was a longtime reader of Carlos’s blog, Ragamuffin Soul, but within the last few years, we’ve gone there. Know what I mean? They’ve let me into their family and I’ve let them into my hurt (which for me, is a deep level of friendship) and we are all the better for it.

So I can tell you, first hand, this book is how they live. Without question. They live to make each moment memorable and honest. It has changed how I live. Even today, while I’m in Orlando after speaking at YPS yesterday, I’m making choices using their lens- what is most memorable? With my limited time and resources, how do I get the most out of every moment?

It’s a fun read, a quick read, but an impactful one.

. . . . .

Know of any other awesome books releasing this week? Feel free to share! We are a people who love books! :)

Your tears matter.


I’m a crier. You know this about me, whether you and I have met face to face or not. I talk about it in my books, I talk about it when I speak (usually as a warning to the audience).

It’s not that I’m dramatic. I’m just emotional. I just feeeeeel all the things and feeeeel them deeply and my eyes leak.

So.

I’ve always loved Psalm 56:8.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

I don’t know how God does it- how He keeps up with all the pains and hurts and tears of each of us, but I believe the Bible and the Bible says He does.

Your tears matter. Every one of them. 

My friend Lindsey has Lyme Disease. It has, to be honest, ruined her life in a lot of ways, as Lyme tends to do. Not forever, not completely, but it has stolen from her the life she wants to be living on a daily basis. (You can read her story here.) So in her sickness, Lindsey has become acutely aware of pain in her own life, as well as in the lives of others. She is so compassionate and caring, even while fighting this disease, through her own tears and pain.

So last week, Lindsey launched Bottles of Tears. She wanted to find a way to support and love other people in their hurt, while also helping raise funds for her Lyme Disease treatment.

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It’s an AMAZING idea.

Think of someone in your life that is hurting, that could use a reminder that they have not been forgotten or overlooked. Scan through the unique vintage bottle options that Lindsey has scoured for and collected. Pick the one that you or your person would like. When you order the bottle, it comes with Psalm 56:8 beautifully printed on a vintage piece of dictionary paper.

I mean. So chic. I can’t even deal.

And it’s shipped to you, or your friend, as a sweet reminder no matter what they are going through (divorce, sickness, hurt, loss of job, heartache), God remembers them.

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I ordered the tiniest most adorable bottle because there is humor in thinking God could hold my tears in that size container. It’s ironic. Get it?

I think this is a beautiful and helpful ministry – both for Lindsey and all those who are receiving bottles – so I just wanted to make sure you knew about it. While this is amazing for anyone who is hurting, I also think this would be an incredible gift for teenage girls or college girls in your life to remind them that whatever they are going through, God finds it important and worthy of recording.

So check out Bottle of Tears. Can’t wait to hear which bottle you pick! :)

March 2014 Birchbox


4 Posted in Birchbox

March_birchbox

Birchbox has become one of my absolute favorite parts of each month. And, just to be clear, I doodled on the box top- it doesn’t always come like that. I’ve had a lot of conference calls lately, which is when I have found myself able to really improve my doodles. (I’m great at running a company. Can’t you tell?:) )

I’m not a great shopper for beauty products, so that’s why I giggle with joy every month when this little brown box shows up in my PO Box. It usually includes 5-ish sample sizes (or sometimes full sizes!) of new products in makeup, hair care, or skin care.

(Yes, subscription boxes are ALL THE RAGE right now and yes I wish I could subscribe to about 42 other ones. But for $10/month, Birchbox is the only one I’m inviting into my home at this current time.)

I personally am having some strong feelings about skin care lately, so I always scan for that first and foremost. But I also love makeup. And hair stuff. Okay fine I love it all.

march_products

Ooooh listen. I can’t wait to bust into this green lagoon colored eye liner. I’m not afraid. IT IS SPRING AND I CAN DO WHAT I WANT. I also love getting perfume.

Rabbit trail story…

I used to have this very favorite perfume that was a gift from a friend. Unfortunately, and this is more story than you care about, the perfume- well- apparently she had it for a while because when I used us the bottle and tried to replace it, the company no longer made the perfume. Sooooo all that to say, I decided to start wearing whatever the Birchbox people send me. Apparently this month, it’s “Not A Perfume,” which smells lovely.

Back off the trail….

And the Jergens BB Body lotion? YES PLEASE.

I fear the Supergoop a bit… but it’s always good for me when I receive a product that I actually have to read about to understand. Expanding my makeup knowledge every month, y’all. It’s takes smarts to be pretty, I like to say.

(No. I don’t. But I will now.)

If you’re looking for a fun cheap little treat for yourself, or a gift for a friend (girl or guy!), go for Birchbox.

Can’t wait to show you what I get in April!

Hey single girls, we need YOUR story.


11 Posted in (in)courage

I’m going to get pushy today, consider yourself warned. Maybe it’s because I’m up early writing and feeling a bit of fire in my bones or maybe it’s because my oatmeal is perfect, but either way, buckle up.

Why are you not sharing your story?

To be honest, I’m looking at you, single girls. (Marrieds and mamas, you are always welcome here, OBVI, but today I’m gonna get bossy with the singlets, just so you know.)

My single friend, why don’t you share your story? Not just your story of singleness and how that has affected your life. But your story of what matters to you, how you got HERE (wherever HERE is) and why you are pursuing the things you are pursuing.

Why don’t you get together with other women and tell your story. THEY NEED YOUR STORY. You think because you are twenty-four and single that no one will want to hear of the struggles of that or the broken engagement or the worries because you are too young. You think no one wants to hear your story because you are fifty-four and have always been single. You think no one wants to hear your story because you are forty-four and single again and you have nothing to offer.

Friends. You are hearing lies.

Truth? I need your story. I need to hear what you are surviving so that I can survive too. I need to hear what you are dreaming so I’m brave enough to dream. I need to hear where you are going so I can meet you there.

Someone is needing to hear you. Someone is already stretching their ear in your direction just waiting on a word to be dropped like water on a parched tongue.

I know it’s not always fun to talk about being single. BELIEVE YOU ME. I know. But I also know the power of a testimony. I know that the Bible says that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb AND the words of what we have lived (Revelation 12:11).

This year, (in)RL’s theme is “we need YOUR story” and I think you need to be a part of it. Because I think it is time that we start telling our stories- really telling them, to the people in our lives and on our internets.

(in)RL is April 25-26, exactly one month away. CHECK HERE for all the details. Why not attend a meet up on that Saturday in your town…even though you figure it will be full of mamas and their stories are different than yours? Because they need your story. You need their stories. So show up.

Or tune in from home and muster up some courage to write your story.

Or start a meet up, in your own living room, and invite other local (in)couragers to join you?

However you join, SIGN UP to watch online and be a part of learning why to share, how to share, where to share, and who to share your story with. And I hope you get a chance to share your story on April 25-26…. at your dining room table, around a fire pit, at the restaurant, in the face of the one who needs it.

I’ll be there April 25-26 and I’ll be sharing my story.

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Meet me there?

My single friends, it’s time we shared our stories. 

We need YOUR story.

Seven Questions with Sarah Davidson


2 Posted in Seven Questions

7Sarah

I’m excited on a lot of levels today.

A. I’m starting a new series called Seven Questions. Pretty much, I’m just going to ask my friends seven questions and show you the answers.

B. Tonight is another installment of Private Lives of Nashville Wives on TNT. To be fair, I haven’t seen every episode, but I have heard and I am catching up and my sweet friend Sarah is one of the main wives. So…

C. I get to introduce you to Sarah- her beautiful heart and her beautiful music.

I told Sarah I wanted to introduce y’all to her and ask her a few questions about life on a reality show and about the challenges. (As you will see below, Sarah has some significant life experiences that happened to occur at the time of filming.)

So without wasting any more time… meet Sarah!

. . . . .

1. But seriously. Sarah. What is it like to be on a reality show?

It was nerve racking at first to be completely honest but as time went on I got more comfortable in front of the cameras. Once they started filming me with my band on the road playing shows I began to open up because that is my comfort zone.

. . . . .

2. Why did you say yes to this opportunity?

I originally was not into this. I’m not a typical “Housewives” kinda gal because I’m not into drama, but after talking to the production I really felt that they wanted to tell an authentic story of me being an independent artist that is writing and out on the road trying to make it happen. I’ve been in Nashville over 9 years working towards my dreams and I wanted to put it out there that big dreams DON’T come easy contrary to our instant gratification ideals of today. I also wanted people to understand me a little more so that they can understand the music that I am writing and the place that I am coming from.

. . . . .

3. What are the most bizarre parts of being on a reality show? I mean, there’s got to be some weird parts to this that we don’t see.

Getting a mic put on everyday and then carrying on about your business is incredibly odd…kinda feels like “Big Brother” is always watching!

Sharing personal challenges in front of camera men and women that were originally strangers (that eventually became family)

. . . . .

4. What’s the hardest part of this season?

The hardest part for me this season was the ending of my marriage. It was an incredibly painful and challenging time but I made a conscious choice to move forward with grace and forgiveness because I saw this as an opportunity to maybe help someone else who is going thru the same thing. I did a lot of soul searching during time off camera and I walked away with a quote “Your own personal healing is the greatest message of HOPE for others” so I decided to open up about my situation and be as vulnerable as possible with my life moving forward while staying respectful to myself and to Dallas

. . . . .

5. How close is the editing to what actually happened? Like, are you surprised when you watch the episodes?

I personally am not surprised by any of the editing. Of course there are a couple things that they skip over and conversations that are missed but for the most part, my story is right on thus far!

. . . . .

6. Talk about writing the theme song for the show.

Evolution (the production company) and TNT were listening to songs in Nashville and looking for someone to sing the song but they hadn’t landed anything yet. They approached me about giving it a shot and I was ALL IN! Such a huge honor, right? So I sat down by myself one afternoon and just pictured what the story would be about if it were a bunch a ladies that are driven, know what they want, and out for a fun girls night. I finished the song, turned it in and everyone loved it! I was so nervous because I didn’t know if they would, but once they confirmed it would be the title track I honestly felt so excited and blessed. I’ve never had a song on TV before so this is huge for me.

. . . . .

7. How can your friends pray for you during this season?

They can pray that God continues to give me strength thru this difficult transition in my life and that even though I may plan a way in my heart that HE will determine my steps. That I would move forward with a grateful heart and that He would continue to be my source of hope and purpose in this life no matter the circumstances.

. . . . .

Right? She’s great. Would you join me in praying for Sarah and her experience on this show and in this season of her life?

And you’ve GOT to check out the show tonight and her self-titled album on iTunes, Sarah Davidson – EP.

Any questions for Sarah? I bet we can get her to hang out in the comments and answer for you!