Friends, let’s talk about a few tiny lifestyle changes I think everyone should make.
What do you say? Do you want to do something (that’s like, totally easy!) on behalf of Mother Earth? Do you want to save money in the process???
Kind of a no-brainer, right? Here are 10 things that are so tiny you could totally implement them all at once (or maybe already have but need a gentle reminder to get back on track and/or recommit)…
The Power of Power Strips
Utilize power strips so you can switch off power to appliances and chargers when they’re not in use.
Put Your Laptop to Bed
Why should your laptop be awake when you’re asleep?! Help your computer catch some much needed zzz’s by switching it off overnight.
Shop the Bulk Bins for Snacks
Snack foods have a ton of unnecessary packaging. Grab a reusable container and hit up the bulk food section at your local market. A great earth saving snack option? Popcorn! Microwave popcorn bags are often lined with harmful chemicals. So go the old fashioned route with bulk kernels, a pan, and some oil.
Did you know it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef? Find ways to limit your meat consumption. You can start by choosing one meat-free day a week and work your way up from there. I recommend checking out this cookbook.
If you’re a pet owner you know sometimes fleas happen — but flea collars don’t need to. Not only do they not biodegrade, but they’re also loaded with carcinogens. Try a topical treatment instead. Or give these homeopathic remedies a go.
Recycle Gift Wrap
Get your creative juices flowing when you give gifts by wrapping them in recycled materials. You could use cloth, newspapers, or even keep a box of wrapping paper you’ve received. More ideas here.
Bring Your Bags
Here’s an obvious one — reusable shopping bags. (flip & tumble is my go-to. They even have a wine bag!) Make sure to have your own bags in tow whenever you hit up a store!
Toss in a “Dryer Buddy”
Ditch the dryer sheets and toss in a dryer buddy instead. Add a drop or two of essential oils to your buddy if you’re after softness AND a scent boost.
Cold Cycles are So Hot Right Now
As in they’re so in! Wash those clothes cold, henny.
Ok folks, 10 tiny changes. The Earth will thank you!PLUS — You’ll be paying for less power, packaging, pads, meat, plastic, wrapping paper, and hot water…SOOOO…
What do you have to lose?! Start saving the planet (& money) today!!!
Have you made these changes already? If not, what’s holding you back? Let’s talk implementation in the comments below!
It’s a bittersweet feeling when something familiar comes to an end. The transition from elementary school to the challenges of junior high, the last episode of a long running TV show, and even the end of a really, really good book can all provoke powerful emotions in us.
Moving from an old home to a new one is no different. No matter how much you love the prospect of your new home and neighborhood, it’s normal to feel more than a little apprehensive.
As much as you might be looking forward to making memories in your new home, meeting your new neighbors or facing the challenges of your new job, it’s more than likely that you’ll experience a few jitters about moving day. I know I did when we moved from South Florida to Alabama earlier this Summer.
After all, a lot can go wrong. (I’ve moved enough times to know that firsthand!) But if you face potential risks head on and take steps to counter them ahead of time, you can look forward to a stress free and exciting moving day…
Bad movers –
Quite possibly the biggest threat to a harmonious move are bad movers. Whether they steal your possessions and claim they got “lost in transit” or simply don’t take proper care with your beloved fine china, your precious collectibles or your beautifully varnished mahogany wardrobe — a bad mover can make the already stressful experience of moving nightmarish. Do your research. Check out mybekins.com as an example. You should look for a company that is well established with years of experience and offers a solution that’s tailored to your personal needs.
The weather –
Weather can make an easy move harder and a hard move intolerable, so it’s vital that you take steps to prepare for all the possibilities:
Hot weather means that you’ll get tired faster as you lift, carry and move heavy items from your home to the truck and back again and may put you at risk of heat stroke if you spend a lot of time in the sun. Do your best to take breaks and always stay hydrated.
Cold weather on the other hand can tighten your muscles and increase your risk of pulled muscles, sprains, slips and trips. You may feel goofy but a quick warm-up routine can go a long way to keeping your body safe during a cold-weather move.
Rain can lead to problems on the road, reduced visibility and water damage to your possessions. I don’t really have any specific advice here other than to BE CAREFUL and take it as slow as needed to stay safe. It seems like every single time I move it decides to rain!
Improper organization –
Finally, a lack of organization can make moving day into an exercise in pandemonium. If your move is to go smoothly a good deal of planning and prep work needs to be in place before you even load your first box into the back of your car. Measure doorways and furniture in advance, ensure your moving truck has proper access to your building and make sure that your items are packed safely and properly. Write up a schedule for the big day and don’t be afraid to come equipped with Plans B, C, and even D! Things are bound to go wrong but prior preparation prevents poor performance!
I’m curious – Do you have a nightmare moving day story you’d like to share below? Let’s learn from each other’s mistakes!
When it comes to enjoying our daily lives, often it’s the smallest things that have the most positive impact. Earning your paycheck after working for two weeks is great, but that smile and warm hug from someone you helped could make your entire week (and more!). These little moments are the things to truly live for. They can help us stay positive and learn to find delight.
For this reason, I’d love to know – how many things make you smile in a day? Would counting them somehow impede your natural tendency to smile? Would simply adding more things in your life to help you do so improve your life even in the small matters? There are many things to give you that toothy grin, but the following can help:
Something To Love
It’s important to keep something you love around you at all times. Of course, family is usually the first thing people think of when the word ‘love’ comes to mind, and so in these instances, it might be worth keeping a picture of your loved ones on your work desk or kicking it old school with some wallet-sized prints.
Continually reminding yourself of who you love in any given day might not only feel wonderful, but it can help you remember the reason for your daily efforts in the first place. Experience a bad day at work? Simply seeing your newlywed wife’s photograph might help you get through it that little bit easier.
Something To Excite
It’s important to stay excited in life. This might mean looking forward to a vacation, becoming part of a new community, or anticipating the moment you break a fitness PR in the gym after work. When you have things to look forward to, you will feel much more infused with positive energy, and it also helps you stay engaged in the world around you.
Something To Laugh
Something that makes you laugh can be essential to keeping your mindset happy and open. Laughter has the wonderful ability to connect people and help them forget their issues. This might be as simple as telling your boyfriend a silly joke from time to time, checking out stand-up comedy and finding some favorites in that field, or spicing up your office with things that help you crack a grin. (These novelty desk plates are always a crowd favorite.) Laughter shows us that the world isn’t as self-serious as we thought, and can honestly lift our spirits quite unlike everything else.
What little things make you smile throughout your day? Do you consider yourself a happy person? Do you think surrounding yourself with things to love, excite, and laugh about would make you a more effective worker? Why or why not?
Do you know that feeling you get when you FIND DELIGHT? That feeling when you marvel at the wonder and beauty and mystery of the world around you? That feeling you get when daily responsibilities and tasks and worries and annoyances fade away, and you realize the real magnitude and beauty of life.
You know the feeling we mean when you find it, right? But you might be struggling with where to look! Here are five activities to help you this weekend:
No matter who you are, looking into space and the night’s sky can fill you with a sense of awe and wonder. Thinking about the planets and stars and comets and black holes and dust clouds floating in space is a great way to FIND DELIGHT. Looking into space is looking into infinity, and that can lend your entire perspective a sense of the big picture. All of your worries begin to feel small, and all of your problems can seem to fade away. It’s healthy for your spirit to view the stars once in a while. This might be through the best telescopeobserver equipment, or by visiting your local planetarium.
Climb Up A Mountain
Sometimes you need to FIND DELIGHT by tackling a goal in the most literal way possible. What’s that you ask? Well, seeing a big mountain and climbing it. The raw effort of climbing a mountain or hill, be it an afternoon hike or a 10 day trek led by a guide, is a wonderful way to cultivate joy. Upon your success, you will find delight in the achievement but also through an excellent view.
Heading on a meditation retreat can give you the space necessary to connect to your own mind. Often we are so filled with thoughts about our lives, our day to day responsibilities and our families that we can become quite stressed. Our minds are literally so full that there’s no room to FIND DELIGHT! The simple act of meditating can help you feel refreshed, positive and ready to approach life in search of delight once again. If a full retreat isn’t in the cards for you this weekend. Consider downloading an app and committing to a meditation practice.
Children have a way of FINDING DELIGHT in the every day, don’t you think? This is why connecting to your inner youth can be so important. For this, you need to get silly. Consider starting a massive painting project where you create on impulse. Head to an indoor climbing frame or trampoline studio for adults (yes, they do exist!) You could watch movies that you cherished as a child, or live vicariously through your own children, making a fantastic weekend that celebrates the things they delight in. If you want to find delight through the creativity, innocence and beauty of childhood, spend some time tapping into your kid-self this weekend. You’ll thank yourself for the effort.
Head To A Floating Lab
Floating isolation tanks have become all the rage lately, and for good reason. Suspended in a tank filled with salt water, the pool is heated to body temperature and the salt suspends you above the top. The Epsom salt is good for your skin, so this makes for a good soak. However, when suspended in one of these tanks in complete darkness, you can be sure to experience something very interesting. As you float there, you’ll realize that you cannot feel your body in the least. You will feel weightless and without senses, leaving you only with your thoughts. The DELIGHT must be FOUND within. Repeated floats can even gift you a long-term sense of patience and empathy, similar to what is experienced by those who have followed Yoga for a long time.
How do you plan on FINDING DELIGHT this weekend? Share below! xoxo
Hi friends! Summer is right around the corner and, I don’t know about you, but I love slowing down and simplifying whenever this time of year rolls around. Maybe this is a holdover from childhood? When summer offered a break from school and extracurriculars and life just went with the flow for a few months.
Unfortunately, adult-life is a little different than kid-life (boooo!). But that doesn’t mean you can’t take a page from your kid-self book this summer season and set a few intentions to help you simplify. Here are a few of my favorite ways…
Clean out your closet.
Have you ever gone through your closet and realized how many items you’re holding on to that you haven’t worn in AGES?? *sheepishly raises hand* Our impending move has offered me a great excuse to really go through my wardrobe with a fine tooth comb. I encourage you to take a peek in your own closet, too!
Get rid of clutter.
Material possessions that you’re no longer putting to use may bring joy to someone else! Pass things along when you can or donate to a charity. Whenever I do this I find that it actually ADDS value to the items I DO cherish and use.
Clear out your fridge.
You never know what you might find in there! 😉
Clear out your email inbox.
Have you ever done this? I’m kind of an email hoarder if I’m being honest. Thankfully, a well-organized Gmail folder system lets me hang on to my emails without a cluttered inbox. However, I’ll never forget the time my friend Adam “helped me” clean up my email account by deleting everything that was over 2 years old and I about had an anxiety attack.
Simplify your diet.
Obviously you should do this in whatever way feels fitting for you and YOUR body. But the way I like to simplify my diet is by reducing the amount of dairy, gluten, and sugar I consume. Summer brings about so much beautiful produce. Why not let it be the star of the show at meal time?!
Do you ever think about the advice you would give your younger self if given the chance? What words of encouragement you would offer? Warnings you might express?
I once heard that your most inner voice is a version of yourself that exists ten years in the future. Isn’t that a lovely sentiment? Like reaching back in time to offer yourself the most gentle guidance!
With that idea in mind, I asked a few of my favorite bloggin’-ladies to share what advice they would give their younger selves. I wanted to know, if you could go back in time and deliver a letter, what wisdom would you share with yourself?
I believe the resulting letters are not only inspiring…but EMPOWERING! Take it away ladies…
You are EXACTLY who and where you’re supposed to be right now. God created your generous heart, tenacious mind, and unbreakable will. I know you tend to stress about things, but “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” No matter what anyone says, you’re a child of God and perfect the way you are.
Life is throwing random events at you. In all the chaos I still think you are making the right decisions. Yet you haven’t met you. Find yourself.
Don’t focus on the idea of a ‘career’ or ‘building a career’ just yet. Focus on your interests, talents and ultimate dream. You can write, visualize, create and inspire. Make that your life…
You are easily intimidated by people. Never confident. And trust only the things you already know. But maybe you should explore more. Don’t hide away; bring yourself out. It is okay to be honest, yet assertive. You don’t have to be straight out bold, but at least be a little courageous.
Apart from everything else and trying to find love, first learn to love yourself! You are most important to you and that’s all that matters.
Time will fly and you will not understand how! You only have one life and you have to live it as best you can. You have to love each moment and whatever it brings to you; good or bad, joys or sorrows, failures and successes, it’s all for you. Don’t struggle to understand yourself and find your way instantly. You may never be able to do it, or maybe everything goes as you plan. Just make sure you enjoy the journey and live with the momentum and energy that youth gives you. You will never again be 20, 25 or 28.
Don’t forget something else very important: you are unique, there is no one else on the whole earth like you and that is your strength. Don’t care if others do not agree with what you are doing, what you think or what you say. As long as you do what you really want and love, as long as you mean everything you say and believe it and as long as you are true to yourself.
And as for the mistakes you make, these will become your lessons. For the mistakes of others the recipe is simple: don’t forget to forgive. The same applies to love. Love powerfully, embrace your feelings and your emotions! You may hurt and surely you will be hurt, but everything will pass, everything will be forgotten, new loves will come again and maybe they will last forever this time.
So, live your life to the maximum, live powerfully and with prudence, without any fear of tomorrow, and always follow your heart and intuition.
I wanted to take a moment and let you in on a little secret. You marry a wonderful man. You’ll have your struggles here and there (everyone does), but you will be happy. Knowing that, don’t squander your young, single years worrying about finding him. In fact, you likely already have by this point. Enjoy living for yourself without having to make any compromises. Travel often. Invest in your friendships. Get a grasp on a healthy lifestyle now (you won’t struggle as much later). Cut back on the sugar. Do yoga (you’ll like it). Spend time with family. Save some of the money you’re making for some more great adventures later on. You are predisposed to working hard. Keep doing that. The experience you gain will be your bread and butter later. You’ve got this. I believe in you!
Your Truest Self,
What about you, dear readers? What would you tuck into an envelope to hand off to your younger self? I’d love to know!
Thanks so much to Whitney, Kanishka, Helene, and Kari for sharing their beautiful letters for this post. 🙂 If you haven’t done so already — go check out their blogs! And let them know I sent ya. xoxo
T-Minus two weeks until we move to Huntsville, you guys. And you know what? Nothing puts your adult-ing skills to the test like a move.
There was a time not too long ago when I moved nearly every year; from one cheap, college-town rental property to the next. I would wait ’til the very last possible moment to throw all my smaller belongings into larger belongings (Boxes? Who needs boxes?!), cross my fingers that I’d get my deposit back (so I could afford the next deposit), and take as many trips across town as it took…sometimes working through the night to get it all done in a 24 hour period.
I now realize there is a much more responsible way to tackle moving. One that involves a bit more of a plan (and WAY more boxes). This got me thinking about the other adult-ing skills I’ve picked up over the years, largely through trial and error, that I think are important for everyone. I don’t consider myself an expert by any means, but these are the skills I continue to work on for maximum adult-ing…
Adult-ing Skill #1:
Basic first aid
There is only one place to begin, and this is with first aid. Sign up for a class that teaches basic life support certification. There are many reasons why you should take a course in first aid. Of course, the most obvious reason is that you never know when an accident can happen and it’s always best to be prepared! But more than that, if something happens, you can’t always look for the adult in the room to come forward and fix things — you ARE the adult.
Adult-ing Skill #2:
How to have difficult conversations
Being an adult means sometimes having difficult conversation. This conversation could be about anything that has a large impact on your life — your relationship, health, finances, etc. Learning how to have a difficult conversation can ensure a successful outcome and less heartache down the line.
Adult-ing Skill #3:
We get so wrapped up in caring for other people that we often forget to care about number one. You need to make sure you take the time to care for yourself. This means prioritizing your hygiene, as well as sleep. A lot of people underestimate the importance of getting a restful night sleep. However, a lack of sleep creates irritability, as well as health issues down the road. On top of good hygiene and lots of sleep, taking time to pamper yourself every now and again is important, too!
Adult-ing Skill #4:
Living a healthy life is not something that comes naturally. It is something you need to learn about. A good place to start is learning how to read labels on food packages. Knowing exactly what you are consuming and how it impacts your body can go a long way.
Adult-ing Skill #5:
Emotional intelligence is quite the buzzword these days. And for good reason! It’s important to understand how your actions and words impact other people, as well as the emotions that other people feel and the position this puts them in. Emotional intelligence is a quality that all the best leaders exhibit because it helps them pinpoint ways to interact with people that will harvest the greatest results.
Adult-ing Skill #6:
How to communicate effectively
Another skill that people need to learn is how to communicate effectively. No one makes it through this world alone. So, if you are to get where you want to be in life you need to know how to communicate with others. You need to master the art of both written and spoken communication. It is through communication that we form meaningful friendships and relationships, not only in our social life but in the workplace as well.
Adult-ing Skill #7: Technology
You cannot just bury your head in the sand when it comes to technology. It is no exaggeration to say that technology has changed everything. It’s changed the way we work, the way we interact with people, the way we go about our daily lives, and even the way we think. Technology can be a useful and powerful tool that can enrich your life and simplify it. So let go of the fear that you will break something or that it will be too complicated, and embrace technology!
Adult-ing Skill #8:
The importance of learning how to communicate effectively goes hand in hand with listening to others. If you find you are someone that only ever listens so that you have the opportunity to speak, then you need to find a new approach. Listening is all about really hearing what the other person saying. People’s stories matter!
Adult-ing Skill #9:
How to vote
You can’t moan about the state of the current political climate and the issues that plague the country if you are not prepared to go out there and cast a vote. You may feel like your voice is insignificant and doesn’t matter, but if everyone felt this way, what would happen? It is important to learn about how to cast a vote so that you can express your opinion and make a change.
Adult-ing Skill #10:
How to have a sense of humor
If there is one thing you need to learn in your life, then this is it. Learning to have a sense of humor can get you further than you may realize. Humor can help you to deal with problems , as well as relieve stress and pain. While it cannot eradicate underlying issues that cause us stress and heartache, it can give us a little bit of relief. Learning to laugh during the tough times can be challenging, but once you have found this skill, it will help you to live a happier life, I promise.
Adult-ing Skill #11:
How to focus
Learning how to focus is something that everyone can benefit from. Nevertheless, it is also one of the most difficult things to do. This is especially the case in today’s society when it seems that there are so many distractions. Moreover, learning to focus does not only relate to learning to focus on a specific task that you are doing, but it also relates to focusing on your goals, your actions, and your directions. We waste so much time on activities that do not get us to where we want to be in life. By focusing our goals and our efforts, we can ensure that we live a more valuable and fulfilling existence.
Adult-ing Skill #12:
Personal finance isn’t often taught in school. So when we start earning money and we have matters such as credit cards, investing, saving for retirement, and bills to deal with, it can be overwhelming. This is why it is important to take the time to master the art of money management so that you do not end up making a financial error that stays with you for many years to come. To begin with, learn how to put together an effective budget. A simple budget is an easy skill to learn, but it is something that will help you throughout the entirety of your life. It will ensure that you do not end up living beyond your means, as well as giving you full clarity over the money that you have coming in and going out every month so that you can use it to full effect.
Adult-ing Skill #13:
Whether you drive a Ford Fiesta or a Ferrari, you need to learn how to maintain your vehicle effectively. If you don’t, you could end up wasting a lot of money in the form of repair bills. Maintaining your vehicle properly will prolong the life of your car while also ensuring that any issues are picked up quickly before they become bigger and more expensive problems.
Ok, gotta get back to my moving schedule! #adulting
Readers, do you consider yourself spiritual? No matter what you believe, I’ve sorta come to the conclusion that as long as you are happy to take what works for you and put the rest aside, you will find there is great benefit to be had from living in a more spiritually aware manner. Whatever that may mean to you. For some people that’s weekly trips to church, others it might mean a daily mantra practice, or setting out into nature alone with your thoughts once a month.
Here are three spiritual practices I try and incorporate in my life —
Keep Your Eyes Open
It can be amazing what you miss when you aren’t really looking – and by that same token, what you can see when you make a concentrated effort to keep your eyes open. Keeping your eyes open simply means you are on the lookout for anything which might spark joy…or delight ;). [I talk more in depth about how I incorporate this practice HERE.]
A friend of mine pointed out that when she started living this way, she was surprised by how the same things cropped up over and over again. So often that they began to feel significant. Her advice? Whether it’s the recurrence of specific angel numbers, a certain theme that seems to reappear in your relationships, or anything – whatever it is, pay attention and see what you can learn from it.
Something else which all spiritual traditions share is a focus on helping others and spreading joy and compassion towards them. Learning to do this in your daily life takes time, effort and courage – but you will find that doing so really does make for a much more fulfilling life. If you find that there is some kind of blockage stopping you from doing this, then you might want to think about what you can do to make it easier for yourself. In most cases, it begins with first spreading joy to yourself – so that you can then be more compassionate to those around you. You know what RuPaul says, right? “If you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” CAN I GET AN AMEN?
One tenet most spiritual traditions agree upon is remaining present as a way to feel more in tune with reality and more at peace. Presence is hard to fully comprehend until you have practiced it. You might think you’re always present in the here and now. While this is technically true, if you’re anything like me, your brain is always moving…even in neutral! Reigning in your thoughts to focus solely the present moment actually takes a lot of work. Who knew!? But it is SO worth it. Of these three principles, this one is definitely where I struggle the most. Got any tips?
Are you spiritual? What does living in a spiritually aware manner mean to you?
Friday: a day for jubilation, relief, and anticipation for the weekend. For those of us who work all week, Friday can’t come soon enough!
Monday: a day to ask yourself one important question: where did the weekend go? For those of us who work all week, Monday comes around again far too quickly. Bah!
Yes, it’s those Monday morning blues! Studies show, above all other days, Mondays can bring about feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety issues. Just the mere thought of a Monday can ruin our weekends… how can we relax when we know it’s coming? Well, fret not as I’m here to help. Coincidentally writing this on a Monday (so obvi I’m writing from a place of experience, lol), here are some tips to help you get over those dreadful blues:
Make the most of your weekends. We often bemoan the fact we haven’t had time to do everything we wanted, but chances are this is your own fault. Even though weekends are supposed to be about relaxation and enjoyment, that doesn’t mean planning goes out the window! A little forethought goes a long way. Stop spending the day in your pajamas – unless that’s your ultimate weekend goal – and plan out what you’d like to do during the two days you have off from work. Start checking things off the list! (Related: How to prioritize your passions.) Then, when Monday does finally roll around (far too soon!), you will at least have some satisfaction that you made the most of your limited time off!
Make Monday fun. Okay, so you have to go to work! That sucks (even if you love your job–they call it work for a reason!), but Monday can be fun too. Plan to do something enjoyable every Monday, whether that’s a fancy lunch with your colleagues, a game night after work with your friends, or some other activity that will improve your mood when you get home in the evening. Even penciling in your favorite recipe on your meal plan or packing a treat in your lunchbox, small additions to your day, could have you looking forward to Mondays. Pretty soon, Monday will be the best day of the week – unlike those Terrible Tuesdays, Weary Wednesdays, and Turgid Thursdays! (We’ll have to tackle those in another post, lol.)
Get your sleep. Partying hard on a Friday or Saturday night is fine, but that shouldn’t be the case on a Sunday. You need your z’s to think and feel better when Monday morning finally arrives. You will feel better about the day after a good night’s sleep, and you will wake up refreshed, vibrant, and raring to go! And your clients and co-workers will thank you. No one likes a Grumpy Gus on Monday mornings…we’re all in this together!
Streamline your morning. There is so much to do on a Monday morning – doing your hair, sorting out your makeup, choosing an outfit, and so on and so on. Such a drag! Still, you can take the muddle out of your morning with a few stress-free tips, giving you a fighting chance after the alarm clock has rung it’s miserable chimes.
Improve your workspace. If your workspace gets you down, work out why it might be holding back your productivity and joy. If it’s feeling dull and lifeless, fill it up with personal items and colorful flowers. If you’re trapped in a place with little ventilation, grab yourself some green plants or an air purifier — read about the benefits suggested by Adam Kemp Fitness, they’re pretty convincing! If there is work piled up on your desk on a Monday morning, leaving your brain feeling cluttered, make a point to clear through work on Fridays (or at least give your desk a proper tidying before you leave for the weekend!). Your space won’t seem so miserable when you return.
Do you suffer from the Monday blues? How do you tackle saying goodbye to the weekend? Let us know in the comments below!
Hello friends! I’d like to start hosting more GIVEAWAYS on the blog. Are you game? This kick-off giveaway celebrates the fact that Spring is right around the corner and includes items I think you’ll love. Honestly, sending fun mail-time surprises is second only to receiving fun mail-time surprises in my book. So, let the giveaways commence!
This giveaway is open to international participants but you must be 18 years or older to participate.