Feeling Good!


Spending an afternoon at Marymount during my internship!

My rocks!

My rocks!
Wouldn't be where I am without my parents!


Walking for my Masters. An interesting book end as this all started when I graduated from undergrad!

Awesome Nurses!

Awesome Nurses!
After my port removal and saying goodbye to my chemo nurses before moving away from Michigan. Wouldn't be doing that without them!

Last Chemo

Last Chemo

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Monday, August 31, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 24. My last night with friends.

As sad as I am tonight to be leaving Virginia in the morning I am full of wonderful, happy memories to keep me smiling through the semester!  Tonight was a perfect ending to my trip:).

Tonight Ginny and Carolyn and I went in to DC on what has become a traditional outing to the Lincoln Memorial where we walk around back and sit and watch the sun set over the Potomac and Arlington. It's so quiet and peaceful and we sit there, each lost in our own thoughts and enjoying the breeze off the water. After a while we start chatting some but really it's about just three friends spending time together:). 

A perfect ending to a lovely trip!  It was so wonderful to see so many friends and spend time visiting, catching up and just BEING with the people I love and miss so much!!  On top of that I got a chance to roam around my mountains in the Shenandoah Valley and explore the many beautiful spots in DC!  These few weeks were exactly what I needed to unplug from Kalamazoo and everything there and a chance to deal with some difficult issues and emotions. Not every moment was perfect but I was surrounded by friends who were there to support me in the difficult times and make me laugh and helped me find all these things to keep smiling about:). Wherever I land a year from now (and I'm hoping it will be in this area) I know that I can always come back here and find the peace and love that brings me back to good and happy places:). With many, many things to smile about!  Goodbye my lovely Virginia and all my lovely friends!!!  Thank you for all the wonderful memories!!!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 23. Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Bites!

I have to rave about the most amazing chocolate I have ever had!!  My friend Carolyn introduced them to me and I hope they aren't sold in Michigan because it will take serious self control not to buy them!!!

I can't remember their exact name but they are like bite sized pomegranates covered in dark chocolate. I must admit at this point that I don't like dark chocolate...too bitter. But these things taste like little pieces of choclaty, pomegranaty pieces of heaven!!!!  Having a bad, emotional or stressful day?  Just pop a couple in your mouth and like the chocolate coating, all those unpleasant things melt away and you can't help but smile!!!  So thank you Lord for all those smart people who came up with the idea for these tasty treats!  And thank you Carolyn for introducing me to the delicious, happiness inducing bits of chocolate!!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 22. A Strong Man

Tonight I took a trip to Baltimore. It was my first time in this city that intimidated me at the very thought of it!  But as I looked around as my friend drive us by Inner Harbor I started to make a mental
list of things to do if I got a chance!  It looks like an exciting place!  But exploring wasn't the reason I was there. I was there to visit a very good friend of mine whom I long ago adopted as one of my little brothers since his older sister and I have been best friends a startling and crazy long time!!

Philip is at Johns Hopkins Hospital starting a road to recovery after his most recent surgery, I believe around 26th or 27th, fighting cancer and all the nasty after affects it leaves. Brain surgery was the start of it all this time around and a nasty infection made it even bigger. But tonight I got a chance to hang out with him and was happy to see the usual hilarious, snarky and incredibly strong Philip I've known for years!  Over an hour of chatting about family, low vision and other random topics was a great way to spend the evening.  I didn't want to leave as it approached 8 pm. I wanted to just stay with my friend. Even if he kept falling asleep, as he was starting to do, I just wanted to be there for him.   But I had to go and so we said goodnight with a possible return visit tomorrow tentatively planned,   

I can't help but smile when I see Philip's determination and unfailing strength and stubbornness to get out of the hospital and home to get on with his life!  No matter how many surgeries he has, he stays the same and I only hope I have half his strength and determination in my own life!  Please pray for my friend!!!

365 Things To Smile About Day 21. Friends

Well, it only took 20 days for me to get behind on this blog but I'm determined not to let that stop me!  Lol!  I have a good reason!  Friends!  I have been on a vacation visiting friends back in Virginia and the other night turned into a small party with four friends;)

We stayed up late talking about all manner of things from the ridiculous to the serious and I loved every minute of it!  I've missed these spontaneous get togethers with good food, drinks, laughter and conversation!  Calling it a night only as we all find ourselves fighting to keep our eyes open!  I don't need (nor do I desire) to go out to fancy places with music and drinks. Sitting at home on comfortable couches and talking about old times, wondering what the future holds and discussing different philosophies on different topics is much more attractive to me!  When I'm missing my friends over the next two semesters at school, I'll keep nights like this firmly in mind and know it will always make me smile!!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 20. Random Little Adventures!

Tonight was a fun night:). A friend came over to go for a walk. Since neither of us knew the area we found a park online and tapped the address into the GPS. On the way we passed a small farmers market and decided to do turn around and check it out. I haven't smelled such delicious peaches in ages!  For some reason I have been unnaturally craving peaches!!  Sadly I had forgotten my purse:(. But, the experience was fun and we left with a bag full of tomatos for my friend. We then spent the next half hour or so trying to find this park that existed on the map but didn't seem to exist in GPS land!!!  

Eventually our hunger for a late dinner took over and we pulled off on the side of the road to look up restaurants. When we finally settled on one we pulled back out on the road and a few seconds later...passed the entrance to the park we were looking for!!!!!  At the very least we managed to find the park!  Lol!  Dinner was delicious and conversation was intriguing and not lagging:). So while our walk may not have happened in that park, we did enjoy a walk nonetheless and had a good and enjoyable evening:). 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 19 History and good friends.

Today was a mix of a day but in a good way:). I went into DC and took a tour of the Capitol!  A very nice Docent gave me passes he had with him to go into the galleries of the House and the Senate!  While nothing is in session in August it was pretty wonderful to sit up there and look down in to the rooms where so much of our country's history was made:). 

After that I went outside and found a shaded bench and sat and relaxed. It was perfectly positioned between the Capitol and the Library of Congress...my favorite place in the city:). 

Then this evening I took two walks with two friends and had a much needed heart to heart talk with one friend. I can't express how happy I am that I am out here right now:).  So many things to smile about:). 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 18 A Peaceful Porch

Today I spent two hours in a big wicker chair on a small, rustic porch!  The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the breeze was blowing and no humidity!!!  It was gorgeous!!

I sat there alternating between reading a book written by a friend and messaging back and forth with a few other friends;). The birds were chirping and a neighbor was mowing their lawn.  It was so peaceful and relaxing!  

Today was one of those days where enjoying the little things made the day perfect:). Nothing big and amazing happened and that's ok. I think most of life is filled with the small things that we so often miss looking for those big moments. So today I sat in a chair in a porch and just enjoyed the sounds of nature and the soothing breeze!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 17. Laughing until you can't breath!!

So many people ask me why I want to go back to Virginia. I have to say in large part it is because of all of my friends who make me laugh so much!  Tonight was no exception. At one point I thought I was going to stop breathing! That wonderful feeling of laughing with friends over the silliest of things. Sometimes over nothing at all. Even just a face made to a comment will send you off into peals of uncontrollable laughter!

There have been so many things in my life both past and present that have been so very painful and so very sad that laughing tonight so much helped me remember what's important. If you can't laugh with somebody, especially somebody who says they love you and somebody you think you love, then there is something very wrong.  You have to be able to laugh with those you love.  And tonight I was surrounded by friends that make me laugh so hard I can forget those who have been in my life who could not laugh.  A true friend is someone who will make you laugh so hard you are wiping tears from your face or reach for your inhaler!  I know it sounds crazy! But laughing is so very important!  And tonight that's all I did!  And it was wonderful!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 16. Surprises

Today was mostly spent in the car driving back from Virginia Beach. While that in and of itself was not that pleasant, due to nasty traffic, the end of this long day was very much worth smiling over!

Recently my friend Ginny had a birthday. She wanted to celebrate with her friends at the beach. Unfortunately, that just didn't happen for many reasons. She was disappointed but understood.  After a very long day of driving we finally got back to Northern Virginia. As a surprise her friends got her a cake and came over to celebrate a belated surprise party!  Her delight and tears of happiness were enough to make everybody smile!!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 15. The Beach!

I have never been a beach bum. I burn too easily and get too hot. Today though I spent two hours on the beach alternating between sitting under an umbrella and jumping the waves and enjoying the craziness and wildness of the Atlantic Ocean at Vitginia Beach!!

I haven't been there since I was 12 and found the rush and push of the waves exhilarating!!  Being sent flying forward as you ride a wave into shore or jumping in the air as a wave crests around your shoulders is exciting and thrilling!  The cool breeze and the warm surf was a perfect combination!  I left there beautifully exhausted and slightly burnt!  A gift from chemo is the ability to burn through several layers of sunscreen!  But I didn't care!

After a rest at the hotel and a delicious dinner with friends I had a brand new experience that I can't wait to repeat!  Walking along the beach at night!  The crash of the surf and feel of the water rushing over your feet and ankles, tugging at you to follow as it slips back out into the night, is a feeling I can't totally describe. There is a calming peacefulness to this dark but noisy stroll. Like the waves are washing away at your anxiety, fears, sadness and disappointments.  There is a privacy and solitude that is far from lonely out on the dark beach. It's a calm that I can't wait to return to someday. 

I'm leaving the beach tomorrow and I can say I'm ready. It's been a pretty exhausting trip!  But I'm so glad I took this weekend with friends and can't keep the smile off my face remembering it!  😊

Friday, August 21, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 14 Good Weather

Ok, I have to admit this might seem dull but the thing that brings a smile to my face today is how beautiful a morning it was!  The humidity was down, the temps not yet in the 80's and the sun shining with a pleasant breeze. 

I found myself sitting in a large, wicker chair on a porch with my eyes closed and enjoying the feel of the cool breeze on my face and in my hair!  It was completely peaceful and relaxing!  

Part of that wonderful feeling was the breeze blowing my hair around my shoulders.  No more bald and no more boy cuts, my hair is long enough to blow around my shoulders!  So in that quiet and peaceful moment I found myself smiling in happiness over the simple feel of my hair gently tickling my shoulders in the breeze. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 13. Friends & Giant Care Bears!

Today started and ended with good friends!!!  Lunch was spent catching up with an old friend and co-worker!!  Then a crazy drive through Northern Virginia!  I'll still take the insane experienced aggressive drivers of NOVA to the terrifying, unskilled college students of Kalamazoo!!  NOVA is my kind of crazy!  Lol!

Then, after a trip on the metro, I finally got to see one of my closest and dearest friends!!!!!  We are heading to the beach for the weekend tomorrow and so getting ready for the trip tonight!!!  But right now she is taking her final for her summer class so I'm chilling with a giant, snugglie Care Bear while I watch Burn Notice!  Seriously can't get better than this folks!  Things to smile about all day!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 12. Seeing Old Friends

Today was a good day and full of talking, laughing and just being with close friends!!!  It's always wonderful to see my friends Lily and Pat!  Just sitting and talking about everything and watching X Files!!!

There are those friends who will always be in your life and these two friends are this kind!  You find yourself smiling just thinking about a visit with them!  And the visit is even better!!  Good, old friends will always put a smile on your face!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 11. Checking out a new place

So today started great by getting a chance to visit with an old boss from when I first started college!!!  I haven't seen her in several years and it was so good to sit and talk for a few minutes!!  

Then I went to Harpers Ferry West Virginia!!!  It is a beautiful, historic old town that I sadly didn't get to explore too much because it started raining but I did see some!  It looks like houses are built on top of each other up the mountainside!  It's a Civil War town full of charm, history and natural beauty tucked away inside the mountains.  Even the deer are wondering around and checking things out:). The whole afternoon was so nice and I'm glad I got a chance to do some hiking and see some of the local charm!

Monday, August 17, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 10. Another First Since Chemo

You would think that at almost two years since chemo I would have run out of "firsts since chemo". Not so much!  Today's "first" took a while coming because it involves being back in Virginia!  

For years, when I lived out here, I drove from the Shenandoah Valley to Chantilly and back for work every day. It became a distance I really didn't notice after a while but in fact it was anywhere from 45 to 60 miles one way depending on where I was living. The past few times I've been out here, I simply did not have the energy to drive it. I had to rely on rides from friends to get to Front Royal and often had to rest after getting there.   It was beyond frustrating.  Well, I still had to rest after getting here today but...I drove that route by myself and made it!!!  

Some might say, "Whats the big deal?"  driving has always been a struggle for me since I was a teenager. Finding doctors who understood my eye condition and feeling trusted when practicing driving was no small thing. When I became a daily commuter I thought nobody could take this ability I had fought for for years away from me now. I had proven myself. Then cancer and chemo came along. And driving became impossible. More than 30 minutes of driving after chemo finished made my body and eyes so tired I couldn't see strait and I would start to shake. And that was with no traffic to focus on!!  Only this past spring, over a year out of treatment, have I been able to drive the two hours from my house to my parent's house. And I'm generally pretty tired when I get there...but not shaking. 

Today I feel like I have taken one more step back into the life I remember. The life where I was so independent and didn't have to rest all the time. Maybe I'll never get completely back to that life. But today I DROVE MYSELF back to my mountains that I love so much for the first time since chemo!!  That's something to smile about! :)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 9. Space and Friends!!!

Today was a full day with many things to smile about!!!  I spent an hour and a half at the Air and Space muesam in Dulles and had a great time strolling around looking at the different planes, watching an IMAX show on space flight and even riding a simulator of a shuttle flight!

The best part was seeing the shuttle Discovery!!  It was amazing to see a shuttle that flew in space so many times so close you could almost touch it!!  

Then this evening I had a delicious dinner with a good friend!  Good Indian food and good conversation are always a good combination!!!  I love being able to and be around friends, catch up and just talk about all the different things going on in our lives!!!  Top the evening off with Mikes Hard Lemonade and doing nails to look pretty and fun!!!!  A perfect girls night!!!  And plenty of things to smile about!!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 8 Good Company

Today I had lunch with a family friend, and my sister's best friend!!  I've known her since I was a kid and had such a great time talking, catching up and being silly!!!

Lunch was Indian buffet followed by Starbucks!!!  It's always a wonderful time when you find yourself talking and laughing for several hours and not realize how much time has gone by!

Friday, August 14, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 7. A Stroll Around the Tidal Basin

Today I headed into DC for the afternoon on my own to get reacquainted with my favorite city.  My plan was to go to a museum but I somehow found myself fallowing signs to the water front and ended up at the tidal basin. 

It was beautiful out so I started walking around to the Jefferson Memorial!  It was a warm but very nice day and I loved strolling along the water and under trees. I sat on the memorial steps for a bit and then went inside. It is really quite beautiful and impressive there!

After a time I went downstairs and was browsing the shop when we were told we had to leave due to smoke from a busted hand dryer!  It was quite something to watch the fire trucks drive around the basin, and one even drove up in front of the memorial!  A little over kill but nice to know our monuments are looked after:)

The walk back to the metro was tiring but just as picturesque and the whole outing very much something to smile over:)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 6. Hello D.C!!

This post is coming late but it is still day 6!  Today I am smiling and laughing and completely happy to be back in DC and Virginia!!!  

I just flew in tonight and was thoroughly entertained on the flight by the person sitting next to me!  It was kind of them to distract me when they saw how nervous I am when I fly!  Today starts the first day of a nice, long and much needed vacation with friends!!  Lots of things to smile about to come!!!!  And they won't be this late in the day!  Promise!

Pictures and stories of exploring the treasures of DC to the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley to the beaches along the Chesspeake Bay will be coming!   So many things to be happy about!!!!  Can't wait to share these smiles!!!

The picture is from my flight to DC!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 5 Relaxing!

Today's big smile came around lunch time.  I stopped in to a nail salon to simply get my toes painted before leaving on vacation tomorrow.  I was rather quickly talked in to a full pedicure!  Oh that felt good!!!!!  Nothing makes you smile more than happy feeling feet and a nice massage!!!  Add a natural over sensitivity to being tickled and you quickly move from smiling in relaxed happiness to laughing uncontrollably and scaring the poor guy using the pumas stone on the bottom of your foot!!  I'm just grateful I didn't accidentally kick him!!!

A nice relaxing half hour (minus a couple minutes of laughter boarding on snorting!) was just the right thing!!!  Because the rest of the day is being spent doing laundry, cleaning and packing!  Vacation starts tomorrow and I took a short time to start my fun and relaxation today!  Ladies, need just one simple thing to make you feel better on a bad day?  Get a pedicure!  It will definitely put a smile on your face!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 4 Hitting 100!!

Since last March I have been working on accruing observation hours at the Low Vision Clinic near my home for my Low Vision Certification.  It's a slow process as there is generally hours only available one night a week.  I need a total of 350 hours to be certified and as of tonight...I have surpassed 100 hours!!!!!  I was doing the happy dance tonight!!!!

On top of this, I was able to get a new pair of sunglasses that are tinted nice and dark, are polarized and fit over my glasses!  Plus they look really cute!!  While this might not seem something to make a person smile like crazy, and perhaps giggle like a kid at Christmas for a moment, you have to understand that these were really important for me to get!  I have always had very light sensitive eyes.  I noticed after chemo they have become even more light sensitive, and that is not easing up.  My current prescription sunglasses are no longer dark enough and the pain of photophobia can be pretty intense!!  So these glasses are a wonderful thing to get and I am sending out a lot of thanks and hugs to my fellow Low Vision Clinic peeps for encouraging me to get them!

So two big things to smile about today!!  I have surpassed 100 hours towards my low vision certification AND I have cute sunglasses so I can enjoy being outside more!!!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 3 A Step Forward!

Today I have printed my study guide for my COMS Certifucation exam in Orientation and Mobility!  One may ask why I'm smiling over studying for an exam.  This test is a huge step forward in my career!  

When I was a few months out of chemo I found this field (Blindness and Low Vision) and fell in love with it for so many reasons!!!  One of them being it gave me direction, a drive to move forward. A reason to get out of bed and push on. I have two more semesters of classes and an internship. If I can pass this test before that's done I will hit the ground running once my internship is over.   I can get down to the business of helping others and giving back to the men and women who served our country by hopefully working for the V.A.  

This study guide, while daunting, puts a HUGE smile on my face!!  It's another step.  Another step away from cancer and chemo.  Another step towards a future that I can't wait to pour myself in to. A future. Just that thought puts a smile on my face.  :) 😊😊

Sunday, August 9, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 2 Baby's Smiles

So today has turned out to be a sleepy day, and not for lack of trying to get up and go.  One of the lovely side affects of chemo is a set of VERY sensitive sinuses!  Guess what folks, a low or a high is coming to West Michigan!  I can't tell you which and I can't tell you when but I can definitely tell you it is coming!  I ended up curled up on the couch sound asleep in the late afternoon and woke up somehow with my head even more tight!  Can we say sinus meds after dinner?!  Too strong for an empty stomach.

Anyway, I have been trying to keep doing things that are positive and smile worthy.  I'm working on my latest knitting project.  And by knitting project I mean a one color afghan done only in the knit stitch because I keep forgetting to knit and pearl different rows!  I was sitting at my computer after my impromptu nap wondering what I could write here.  Then I remembered church this morning and found myself smiling.

My church is nearing the end of a renovation and Mass has been held for several weeks in the church hall while floors and pews have been replaced.  It has made for cozy mass times as it is a fraction of the size of the church.  Because I always get too hot and then claustrophobic I try to sit by the one entrance to the hall.  This way I on occasion catch a breeze.  I also see everyone who comes in (and learned today there is no way to unobtrusively enter when the consecration is beginning.  Especially when you are a big family.  Not sure if they had car problems but man I felt bad for them trying to find a seat and trying to be invisible while doing it!)   Before Mass started however, I saw a mom walk in, and back out, and back in again with the cutest little boy in her arms who was under a year old.  Anyway, each time they walked by me, the little boy was smiling and pointing at something.  When they came back in, he looked at me and gave a small smile and pointed at me.  It was really a very small thing but every time I think about it today, I honestly find myself smiling and even laughing a little bit!  Who is able to resist the smiles of a baby, especially when that smile and attention is directed at you?!

So for today, since it has made me smile many times already, I am counting this small moment as my daily thing to smile about!  And adding to it the second Bingo page of things to do my best friend made and sent me to play that game with.  I do believe she visited the Kalamazoo Events page because there are quite a few local festivals on it!  So a baby's smiles and a friends encouragement from over seas has made my day 2 a success!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 1

So, starting out small but with satisfaction:). Day 1 I finished 6 placemats I started about a year ago. They came out looking great and now I have some wedding presents to give!  Lol!

I've also started knitting another afghan today and I'll try to finish it in less than a year this time!  

A friend of mine also gave me a bingo board with things to do. I'll post a picture when I get my first Bingo:). The idea is to fill the whole board:)

So, first day was good:). I've been sewing and knitting today and loving it!!  Definitely something to smile about:)

A New Idea

Ok, so it has been a few months since I wrote on here.  Classes have kept me pre-occupied all the way through July.  But to be honest, so has not wanting to face some things.  It has been almost two years since i finished chemo I thought by now that whole chapter in my life would simply be a memory and a distant one at that.  Here is the thing.  This spring I started fighting feeling sad and tired a lot.  I watched all my classmates go through the graduation ceremony and off to internships and couldn't help but be frustrated that I couldn't be a part of that.  I know the decision I made to split my program into two years was the right decision, it still remains a very difficult one.

This summer I finished two of my incomplete classes I had to take last fall and while it feels good that I was able to get them done, I am seeing now it was also me trying to not deal with how I am feeling.  I have never really cared for living in Kalamazoo, even in undergrad before this all started.  Living here now is just a constant reminder of everything that happened.  And I can't help but think that in April I will be experiencing some serious de ja vu.  There is something about being here that physically and emotionally pulls me down.  Actually, almost anywhere in Michigan makes me feel this way.  I don't want to feel this way because I have my parents and brothers and nieces and nephews living here.  I want to be able to spend time with them and be happy.  It's just so hard sometimes because something always makes me think of the cancer and the surgeries and the hospitals and the chemo.  In small doses it doesn't bother me.  But when it is all around me, it gets difficult.  I still have my body reminding me of everything still.  I am doing so much better than I was a year ago but I still see the limitations I am hitting and that is frustrating.

I realized today that these emotions and frustrations and memories were bringing me to the point where I have more days than I care to count sitting on my couch watching TV or playing games on my phone.  Not trying to interact with the world outside my apartment unless I had to.  Shopping, church, bill paying.  Nothing that really brought me out of myself.

This morning I found a Facebook page on a cancer survivor page about two women basically living up life for a year.  Doing new things, big or small, every day.
I liked the idea of doing something different each day and talking about it.  I wouldn't do it exactly the same way but something similar.  I had a professor when I first started college (who has since become a close friend) who told me one way to combat homesickness (or in this case depression) was to find one thing each day to laugh about.  Even if it was a memory.  If you laugh at least once a day you can't stay sad all the time.  It makes life that much easier and brighter.  It was an idea I tried when I was in chemo and it really helped.  But I let go of it when I started school and I think that was a mistake.

What I want to try to do then is each day to do something or learn something that makes me smile.  It can be as big as crossing something off of my bucket list to as small as finding a new place to go for a walk.  And to keep me honest, share what that thing is every day.  I'm sure I'll come up with some corny name for it like "365 Things To Smile About".  Actually...I kinda like that.  Anyway, it is something that will keep me moving and smiling for the rest of the time I am in Kalamazoo and into my internship...where ever that might be.  And writing about it will keep me accountable for it. So here goes.  I better get moving and figure out what today's will be.:)