learning to calm down

lately I have been feeling stressed out a lot and had to figure out some simple things to calm down a little and since I know that I am far from alone with this, since there’s always work to do, exams to study for, money to earn, but mostly just a lot of pressure coming from peoples surroundings, I thought I’d share some of things that have been helping me get along, for you to try out eventually…

One, taking a hot bath. I know, this might sound a bit strange, but it really does wonders for me. Mind that by hot I mean just a little over your usual bathing temperature. One where it takes you a little longer to get fully into the water, you know what I mean? It makes me calmer than anything. I feel relaxed after getting out of the tub and it works even better if you take a little nap afterwards (but only about max. twenty minutes or you will feel really tired when waking up after napping for longer, promise, i know what I’m talking about).

Two, slow classical music. I didn’t used to be into classical music at all until a few weeks back, but around that time, I had to start writing really long essays for my major literature class at home within just a few days under the week and so I had to come up with an idea how to get through that and discovered classical music. It’s lyric-less character didn’t distract me from the words I had to write and at the same time calmed me, because silence really killed me while writing them.

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Three, good nights sleep. I’m a really easily-distracted sleeper when I am stressed, so what I discovered for me this past week feels like a wonder. No matter what temperature my room has, when I sleep, I am hot, which causes me to sleep pretty badly, waking up tired and exhausted. So I just put a mattress with some pillows and sheets directly by the window, opened it a little and went to sleep. I woke up feeling better than I had in ages, not at all hot and sweaty, and now it’s most likely I’m never going to sleep in my real bed ever again, huh, but whatever. I guess that’s a different story.

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Four, reading a few pages of a classic before going to sleep. Yes, there isn’t anything that sounds more boring that that in our century, but just try it out. It’s calm and mostly descriptive writing style will soothe you and calm you down, when at the same time getting your thoughts away from everything that is personally bothering you, like emptying your mind to prevent the Dark Lord from entering it (Potter thing that just had go in here, I’m sorry).

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Five, shut off phone at least half two hours a day for a break. With my social media (Bookstagram and Blogging) activity my phone can have a really distracting and most days even stressing effect on me. So it just helps me a lot to turn it off completely for a while each day, to either take some time to relax or to study more concentrated, without getting distracted by incoming messages. Some days it is enough for me to just put it into another room and walk away, so you don’t necessarily have to turn it off, if you don’t want to, the point is to not have it with you for a while a day.

I am hoping some of these can help you the way they help me. Don’t ever fail to message me if you want to talk. I have an open ear for all of you and I promise, I will answer. It might just take me a little time, but I will, and always remember- keep your head up. You’re getting through today and tomorrow and this week and this month and next month and the following one. You do. You can and you will, even if you might not think so right now. Take it day by day, in small bits. You are strong, I know it, and that’s why you can get through whatever you are struggling with. And even if today was exceptionally hard, or this week, or month. Don’t give up on yourself. Not today, not tomorrow and not ever. You deserve better. You deserve to be believed in. Especially by yourself. It will take time, surely, but you can learn, and before everything else, start learning that one thing. Start learning to believe in yourself.

yours, anna xx

The Blueberry Muffin

Welcome to this brand new row of blogs. I have always loved baking, since it soothes me, but I’m not that much of  a talent. Anyways, my creations do come out enjoyable and in ‘anna’s simplicity bakery’ I am going to share some of my favorites, that I’ve already been showing off around my social medias. They are all really simple to make and I hope you will end up liking them as much as I do. Here comes the first receipt… The Blueberry Muffin.

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… look at these, fresh from the oven …

Ingredients (modifiable):

150ml cup                          of plain Greek yogurt

250ml                                  of plain milk

150ml                                  of olive oil

500ml cup                          of all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons                       of baking powder

250ml cup                         of sugar

some                                   grated vanilla

one                                      large egg

one cup                             of blueberries

 

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Then add together all the ‘wet’ ingredients, meaning yogurt, milk, olive-oil and the egg.

After that, add the dry ones one by one. First the flour, then baking powder, sugar and vanilla.

For the dough, add the blueberries at last, folding them in carefully.

Now grab a muffin tray and lay it out with muffin forms, add in the batter until almost full.

Bake for five minutes at 425F and then go down with the heat to 375F and leave in the oven for another 20 minutes.

Take them out & leave it in the tray for some more minutes to cool a bit, then get ’em out and enjoy them while they’re still warm.

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… freshly cracked up, prettily bleeding …

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… and remember, homemade looking pastry is on trend again …

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… can’t get any prettier zooming in, right?

…and there you have them already. Beautiful and easily made little muffins that usually come in twelve when I make them and can be eaten over several days without getting bad, or just as well eating ’em all just freshly out of the oven. Made another tray just this morning and can’t wait to get back to them tomorrow morning for breakfast (they are an ideal breakfast too, by the way). Hope you enjoyed this first receipt in a row of more coming in the future. Make sure to tell me if you try this out, spam me with shots of them over on my other social medias and talk to me about your new ideas for this little receipt of mine. I’m pumped for your opinions.

yours, anna xx

editing my photography

Many people recently requested me to explain how I edit my photos on Instagram, so I decided to explain with some supportive photos over here and give you some main tips on photography as well.

Let’s jump right in. To begin with the actual photo… I take my photos with the Nikon D3100 from my parents. Sometimes, but really rarely, with my phone (an iPhone 5c). The only app I use for editing my photos is VSCO. I just picked my recent shot from Instagram to show you the progress of editing…

Here is just the plain unedited photo to begin with…

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I’m currently using the A6 filter with a strength of about 8.4, so that you can see an affect but it doesn’t look too unnatural, edited.

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The next things I do almost always depend on the photo itself. But with mostly every photo I increase the temperature a little bit, about from +0 and +1.1.

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The next things I do, as I told you, depend on the photo itself. With this one I increased the contrast a bit to highlight the beautiful contrast between sunshine and shadows.

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Another thing I did with this was taking the exposure a little upwards.

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And voilà. Here we have the finished post. Simple, wasn’t it? and it still looks really natural, but manages to support my brownish, black and white theme, which I like a lot.

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The last thing to give you on your way for editing your photos are some main tips on photography I can give you itself. Because, well, you can only start editing you photos when you have some good quality photos at hand. Some most important things to achieve that are following…

The most important thing is the lightning. Always take photos in natural lightning to prevent from getting grainy, low-quality photos. We all know the scene. You take nice photos, you really like and such and then the quality isn’t really a bummer, which makes you feel really miserable and we don’t want that, do we?

The next tip is referring to lighting as well. With time I started to accept that some days, or better most days, there’s not that perfect ‘not too bright nor dark’ lightning. It is something like the photographers dream, that perfect lightning. So start working with what you have. It’s super sunny? Strange shadows seem to ruin your photos? So what? Make an achievement out of them. Like ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’. Like I did with this photo. The shadows and sunshine give the photo a pretty special atmosphere, in my opinion. You can also experiment with various objects and the different shadows they throw. It can create incredibly unique shots.

The last two tips I have sound pretty simple, but might actually be quite hard to achieve. Be yourself, but also keep trying new things, experimenting. Try to find out what message, what story, you want to send out through your photography. Get out there. Watch the work of others. Look at photos on Pinterest similar to the kind of photos you want to take. Try to re-create the ones you like and when you get bored with that, start thinking of new things. Go out again. Keep your eyes open and use everything around you to get inspired. Photography is a lot about feeling and seeing, what isn’t visible at first sight. Remember that and then wander new places, get to know new people and almost take your camera, if possible. That’s how you get inspired, how you get the photos and then you edit them, always staying true to yourself.

yours, anna xx

a good Sunday out

For uns introverted people the image of a calm Sunday in is balm for our hearts. Spending all day in bed, listening to vinyls, reading, leaving the pjs on, Sunday coffee, blogging, all that kind of stuff that I normally do on Sundays. Last Sunday was different though. I was reminded again, that going out actually can be fun {but only in the morning without the tons of other humans crowding the streets}. I had the pleasure to head out to brunch with Ophelia on a sunny, silent Sunday. It was the time of my life and Morgaine, my baby witch, definitely finally should join in on us again, since she preferred getting drunk the previous night and had to sober up instead of going out with us two early risers. But it’s okay Mo, just don’t forget you’re one of us, please, the introverts. You still part of that group of people, right? {if you can’t tell, I’m joking, okay? I like to mock my baby witch a little. I love you, Mo, you know that, right?} …buuut to get back to Ophelia and my Sunday morning…

I got up at around seven am {yes, I already told you so, early riser, that wouldn’t be a problem though if I would go to bed early too. Well, that doesn’t happen too often, so I get kind of really little sleep, but ah, what can I do. I usually just fall asleep sometime within the day, so don’t worry, if my body doesn’t have enough sleep, it just takes it. The proof, I regularly fall asleep on the floor of my room while doing whatever I’m doing. I’m fine. Okay, I’m drifting off…} So, I got up and showered and but on some clothes and packed my camera, a few books and headed out to get the train. I arrived at the station just having missed the recent one, but I knew it was okay {actually it was not, since I’m like always on time, so I was hyperventilating a bit, but let’s pretend I’m normal}. I took the next train and arrived at Alexanderplatz a few minutes after nine.

When I arrived at Coffee Fellows {one of the best Cafés in Berlin that I yet know of, The Berlin Book Squad is still constantly getting to know other good ones, so one never knows, but it is for now} Ophelia was already there and had grabbed us one of those nice tables by the window {this was the first time I came late to one of our meetings, please don’t get me wrong, I’m usually there before everyone else and it’s important for me}. We studied the menu for a second and decided for Cappuccinos and Bagels. Coffee Fellows definitely has the best Bagels in Berlin, I’m committed to it and like on every other Coffee Fellow visit, the food was simply too good to be real again.

While getting through our food we discussed it all- the books we are currently reading or had recently read or not read. I pretty much forced Ophelia into reading A List of Cages and The Hidden Memory of Objects. When I see her again in about a week, I’ll lend her one of them and Moraine the other one. They just have to read them, god, I can’t. We talked about school and basically again how much it sucked. We talked about how my family is getting a puppy girl called Ava in like a week, how much we miss Mo, much reading slumps sucked, how badly she and Mo have to start watching Grand Hotel and how we have to plan on doing a sleepover on which we will marathon the first season. How badly I need to get Netflix to be able to watch 13 Reasons Why, which I then forced Ophelia into picking up as well, and Stranger Things. How messed up Ophelia was by post Cassandra Clare posted and in which order it would be best to read her series. How we definitely need to get the season two of HTGAWM and how a certain spoiler we saw on Instagram will totally mess us up emotionally… …and so on and on. When we see each other we can barely even stop talking for a second. We just seem to switch smoothly from one to another and then another topic, just like when our Squad meets. We three have been knowing each other for barely a year and people, it’s like I know these two gils my whole life. Like, we finish each others sentences. While talking, Ophelia kept taking photos of our coffee and me and my outfit and The Hidden Memory of Objects, because she seemed to be feeling like it and because she liked my outfit, I guess {smiles}.

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…I told you Ophelia kept taking shots of me.

After a bit over and hour we got our stuff together and headed over to the Museum Island, the pretty much most aesthetically pleasing place we have in Berlin. Every good Berlin Blogger goes there to take there photos, so we were lucky that it was early and half the city was someplace else to watch the Berlin Half Marathon. We were almost completely alone so it was an even better atmosphere to take photos, since it’s still kind of awkward to pose with books in public, but when we’re together it always feels mostly fine. It took us some time but eventually idea after idea started to hit us. The inspiration, people, the inspiration. When Ophelia, Morgaine and I meet the inspiration is flowing. I can tell you. We take hundreds of photo within about an hour. While we shooted, we kept on chatting about this and that.

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…in motion

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…and I am moving again

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…fiddling with my hair

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the strong young women I know, showing her strength through this pose

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…3 …2 …1 …jump

Ophelia also helped me take a few rep shot of one of my favorite items from The Bookish Box March Box, a candle called Java Jones by Cherry Pit Crafts. Luckily she had her very aesthetic copy of City of Glass with her so that was a match made in heaven.

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probably the most beautiful rep shots I will be able to produce in my whole life

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a shot that does justice to the beauty of this candle

After a little over another hour and a little whiny call from Ophelia’s little brother about being all alone and hungry at home, and my urge to get home to revise for upcoming exams, we walked to the next train station and hugged tight. At the end of each meeting with my two girls my heart breaks a little, but it is mended again when I see them the next time and their awesomeness makes up for all the pain of having to let them go every time. It’s too unfair that we live at so different ends of the city. But that only makes me more happy when I can finally see them again. I’m happy to announce that our next Berlin Book Squad {you can find us on Instagram & Pinterest} meeting is coming up again. Moraine, Ophelia and me will be reunited after three whole months and we will hopefully be doing the live stream you have all been awaiting so badly, make sure to send us all your questions via our social medias, we’re still collecting. Want to know even more about Ophelia’s and my Sunday out? Go keep and eye out on our Instagram and head over and read about the day from Ophelia’s point of view right here

love, anna xx

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

{Before getting into this review too deeply and forgetting about it eventually, I want to thank Robin Roe for her book with it’s message about friendship and the power of kindness. Thank you, Robin.}

What it is about- Adam and Julian, Julian and Adam. A fifth-grader and a second-grade-kindergartener as reading partners. When Adam hears about it, he still isn’t sure if it’s going to be fun or not really so, but then he get’s to know Julian.

“The boy assigned to me – Julian – looked like and anime character, with too much shiny black hair that fell just short of his enormous round eyes.”

Julian, the second-grader that has to take reading practice along with the kindergarteners,

“‘If you are a second grader, then why are you here?’ I asked. ‘I have dyslexia,’ he said. ‘I’m in Reading Improvement.'”

and Julian the most talented singer, the one that draws the best pictures. Julian, the happy kid.

“I can’t remember what Julian sang, but he was good. Not just little-kid-good, but really good.”

The two drift apart and find back together at a time in which too much has changed. There is no Julian, the happy kid.

“When he looked up, his enormous eyes were like glass, something reflective instead of animated. ‘Julian?’ I said.”

And they drift apart again only to find back to each other another time. That’s where the story begins.

“‘Julian?’ I spin around. And the moment seems to slow. […] He breaks into a grin. I glance around to find who he’s smiling at, but no-one is there. ‘It’ me,’ he says. ‘Adam.’

Adam’s and Julian’s, Julian’s and Adam’s. A friendship that is meant to be, but hard to accomplish. When Adam wants to help, Julian pushes him away as far as he can, refusing help that is desperately needed.

“I panic. ‘W-who are you calling?’ ‘The police.’ ‘No, don’t!’ I plead. […] ‘Please.’ He takes a deep breath. ‘Okay. Okay.'”

But their story grows and shows the power of kindness, of friendship, even in moments where there should not be hope or the slightest possibility of healing. While talking of loss and immense pain, Adam and Julian show, that there is always a way to work life out, taking it however it may come.

Why I picked this book up- I received this book as my February book of the month in my Bookish Box. Actually I didn’t plan on picking it up so soon, but after I had read Adam’s short review on it, I couldn’t help myself. I started reading it an hour later. About forty eight hours later I sat in my room crying, the book opened on it’s last page. And people, I want you to know that I have been in a reading slump since finishing the hours by Michael Cunningham a whole month ago. Yes, the book was that good. Buuuut, it’s time for my opinion only now.

How I liked it- This book and it’s message mean far too much to me. Kindness is a value I respect more than almost any other. Kindness has power just like hate does.

“Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.”

It did so much to me. I will never, never be able to feel how Julian felt, because little have I lost compared to what he has suffered through, but I can understand now. I understand as much as a person who did not live through it can and the loss of a person is something we all have experienced.

“It’s strange how many ways there are to miss someone. You miss the things they did and who they were, but you also miss who you were to them. The way everything you said and did was beautiful or entertaining or important. How much you mattered.”

Especially this quote makes me remember a special member of my family that has passed away when I was only five. Five, an age that you can already, but far from enough, remember. I am said to look like him, be like him. I am said to have his eyes and hair and humor and music talent. It is more than just sad knowing that you shared so much with someone you barely had the chance to get to know. But I know, he would be so proud of me and that is everything one needs. 

Even under the message this book can put in an appearance. And a good one it is. With a simple and easy-to-get-into writing style Robin Roe tells the story that is other than the writing a lot more difficult on every level. The characters, to get to them are all their own individuals and there are a lot of them. A lot. There is none of them taken less care of than another one. They have their very own opinions, strong opinions and that’s a good thing. Another thing about this book is that it is so fast paced you probably have to calm yourself down. Fast readers will most likely read it in one sitting, but let me tell you, A List of Cages deserves more than a few hours of your time. It deserves all your time and after and even while reading you should set it down for a moment now and then to think, just do it and thank me afterwards.

To come to and end, this book is a book for everyone. Adults just as teens, as it’s a young adult novel, but it’s far more than that, so don’t let that make you shy away from picking it up. But above all it is a book to talk about. A book to one’s characters should look up. And I wish it all the luck on the big bad book market. It deserves to be admired, read, hugged and loved. Just as it deserves to be presented from one person to another, not obligatory for a birthday or another yearly festive, but just like that. Out of kindness, because this is what it is supposed to teach. The Power of Kindness.

the hours by Michael Cunningham

{after i have successfully missed the one-year-anniversary of my blog, i am finally back with a review of a rather unknown book back from the year i was born in, 1999, which had a great impact on me, will forever be remembered and re-read a over and over again. this book is named the hours and was written by Michael Cunningham}

what it is about- the book follows three women through a day in each of their ordinary, plain lives. It is 1920, London, and there is someone or something who or that links these three, completely different women together. Virginia Woolf and her still unfinished book “Mrs Dalloway”. the hours follows Virginia herself in the process of writing it,

“She may pick up her pen and follow it with her hand as it moves across; she may pick up her pen and find that she’s merely herself, a women in a housecoat holding a pen, afraid and uncertain, only mildly competent, with no idea where to begin or what to write. She picks up her pen. Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”

then Clarissa Vaughan, Mrs Dalloway, in New York, who is preparing to surprise a recovering friend

“‘Who is it?’

‘Just me.’

‘Who?’

‘Clarissa.’

‘Oh, Mrs. D. Oh, come in.’

Isn’t it time, she thinks, to dispense with the old nickname? If he’s having a good enough day, she’ll bring it up: Richard, don’t you think it’s time to just call me Clarissa?”

and finally Laura Brown,a young women from Los Angeles, yearns to get away from her responsibilities and mother and wife to read Virginia Woolf’s book Mrs Dalloway.

“She lays the book face down on her chest. Already her bedroom (no, their bedroom) feels more densely inhabited, more actual, because a character named Mrs. Dalloway is on her way to buy flowers.”

Why I picked this book up- I randomly found this book at my local library and since I was going to lend another book anyways all I thought was, well why not take a second one and if you don’t end up reading it, what bad did it do? Also, it’s pretty and you like pretty books. I ended up taking and reading it as you might have noticed. On another note, I have not yet read anything by or about Virginia Woolf so that wasn’t a reason either. It was just plain interest, a good cover and well written synopsis. Thank you to my local library for having it on their shelfs and thank you to myself for not dumping it, because it is one of the best books I have yet read.

How I liked it- Before I get all caught up talking about how much I loved this book, here are some things you should know about it: It would be good if you read Virginia’s Mrs Dalloway before reading this, at least I have heard it would, because it refers to it in a way, but if you just want to enjoy good writing, then you totally don’t have to do this. I didn’t do it because I picked it up without knowing anything, but I bet you’d get into this book faster if you would have read it. I recommend not to pick up this book if you want a fast paced, plot packed novel, because this is something totally different. This book is poetic and about life and the characters way more than about an actual story. It is a novel you take yourself some time for, in which you appreciate the writing, all it’s words and maxims. It takes some time getting into it or better to be said, getting the hang of how it works, but as soon as you have read the first three chapters (a chapter from each of the characters) you will be just fine. It’s time to get on to my encomium now. Michael Cunningham is a true artist of words. His writing style is almost poetic and I would love to quote every single line of him from this book for the rest of my life. If I was to read only one book for the rest of my life, I would be close to pick this one. I have never before read a story that was written this way, meaning the close connection of the three women, which are so much unlike each other at the same time and then again so similar. How they are all three linked by that book Mrs Dalloway is remarkably made. It is easy to follow the plot, once into it and it is the usualness that actually makes it special. The way each character sees the world, the people around them and life in general. I recommend it to all of those, who are open for three stories about life written in a very poetic way. If you are into poetry and quotes, you can’t quite end up not liking this book {just like me}.

Playlist for a New Start

“[…] and now we welcome the new year, full of things that have not ever been.” -Rainer Maria Rilke

In the honor of this one and only chance of a change I have put together a new playlist with mostly fast and motivational songs, which will hopefully help you bring out the best in you on each day of this happy new year.

  1. Back to the beginning again by Switchfoot
  2. Crazy = Genius by Panic! At the disco
  3. Hallelujah by Panic! At the disco
  4. I lived by OneRepublic
  5. Impossible Year by Panic! At the disco
  6. The Judge by twenty one pilots
  7. LA Devotee by Panic! At the disco
  8. Let it out by Switchfoot
  9. Ride by twenty one pilots
  10. Something I need by OneRepublic
  11. Tear in my heart by twenty one pilots
  12. We don’t believe what’s on tv by twenty one pilots
  13. The world you want by Switchfoot
  14. All alright by Fun.
  15. Great big storm by Nate Ruess
  16. Some nights by Fun.

Don’t let anything get you down this year. Wear that trousers you love, which you heard someone else say looked like shit on you. Wear them because they make you feel beautiful. Be bold. Don’t content yourself with everything all the time. Start telling people how you feel about them making decisions for you. Learn to cook. Write a book. You name it. Be an artist. Or an author. A musician, an athletic- anything. It’s not about officially becoming that, as in doing it as a job. It’s about being it. No matter how old you are, how tall or small, where you are from and how well educated you are. This is a new start. You can do whatever you want whenever you want it, because you all have a choice. There are consequences that you have to live with for like quitting your job or skipping school, but you have a choice and your choice matters. You go or you don’t go. You do it or you don’t. Make this year yours. Be who you are, who you want to be. If you want it you can  do it. You can’t win if you do not try. So try. Try a thousand times and then one more and another time an hour later. Learn to eat healthy, work out, go outside more often, watch the rain fall. Look around. Look and see, with your eyes wide open and you will realize that there are so many possibilities. Some that have never been there before and you should take them because who knows? Next year you might not have the chance to be a barista at that café you have always loved. You might never see that person on the train from last Thursday again. There are so many What Ifs. Don’t make yourself regret the ones you you left aside. Take them. Today, because, and I don’t want to sound pessimistic at that but, there is always the slightest chance that there will be no tomorrow. Take the risk or lose the chance. It’s that simple.