APPLY YOUR MASK FIRST.

I haven't been feeling all that hot this week and while I've written a ton of ideas (I'm always writing), nothing really seemed right for today. I was trying to think about what's really relevant in my life right now & yet it's hard to think about those things when the main thing is that you're not feeling well. But because I'm really focused on trying to get SOMETHING out every week, I thought I'd just drop in to tell you the truth:

I didn't really feel like writing this week. I didn't feel like doing much of anything this week. I just didn't have it in me. 

So I didn't. 

And that's the best message I have to share...one that's timeless & never goes out of style.

The one about putting on your own oxygen mask before you even ATTEMPT to put on someone else's. 

No matter what you may have committed to, LISTEN to your body. Listen to your spirit. If you don't feel like pushing through, don't. If you can't muster up the energy, that's totally fine. If you just need to take a day off because you need to take a day off, do it. Do NOT ask for permission or expect other people to understand because chances are, they won't. Matter of fact, don't even talk to other people about it. Be like Nike & Just Do It. Tuck yourself away & hibernate until you feel like you "can" again. Cancel the dates, reschedule the lunch appointments & take care of yourself.

I promise that whatever you're working on will be there tomorrow...there is no rush. Nobody will be mad at you.

And if it's not there tomorrow--or the people are really pissed that you cancelled--then the truth is that none of it is right for you. 

Let's stop making some of the most basic things more difficult than they need to be. Like self care. We owe it to ourselves to be first. And I don't mean some of the time...I mean all of the time. If you let yourself go there will literally be nothing for you to give.

So as crazy as it may sound, the best way that we serve others is to first serve ourselves. 

And then there's this blogpost. I was only supposed to be "checking in" to let you all know I wouldn't be "coming into work today" (I.e, sending out a blogpost) and in the midst of me telling you about that....all of this came tumbling out. Apparently the message was here all along & the inspiration came by me just telling the truth about where I am & how I'm feeling.  And it took me all of 15 mins. Hallelujah.

Don't force what isn't coming naturally. Pay attention to how you feel and go with that, even if it seems counterintuitive. Had I been a fool I would've sat at my desk all day trying to figure out what to share, while really not feeling good, instead of trusting my gut to go get back in the bed and--in my surrender--allowing the inspiration to come on its own.

Life is funny like that. Sometimes obedience, surrender & ease will take you MUCH further than effort.

Have a good weekend & take care of yourselves. Trust that I'll be doing the same over here!

IF IT HURTS, CHANGE IT.

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The Friday before I was set to leave for Madrid my doctor informed me that I needed to go on the Autoimmune Protocol for at least a month. I kinda thought that may be coming--due in part to a ton of tests & a few weeks of digestive issues--but I still was a bit shocked to get the news.

The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is essentially a Paleo diet (which is how I normally eat) except that in addition to removing all flours, grains, refined sugar, processed foods, beans, corn & dairy from my diet, additional common intestinal inflammatories are removed which include eggs, potatoes, peppers, anything in the nightshade family, heavy spices (cumin, paprika, curry, chili powder, mustard, etc.), all nuts & nut butters, sweeteners of any kind (no honey or maple syrup), and NSAIDs (Aleve, Motrin, Advil, etc). All of it. Gone. 

I was fine with the basic Paleo part--I've been doing that for about 5 years so I'm used to it and know my way around.

But no honey?!No almond milk for my smoothies & ice cream??!No almond butter?? NO EGGS?!?!?!?!!!!!

Oh shit. What do I do now?

I thought I was going to die of starvation because duh...there is NOTHING else edible to eat in the entire world if you can't eat those things. I went to the bookstore, picked up a book to help me brush up on the specifics & then proceeded to spend the whole drive home thinking about how this 1-3 months of AIP was gonna be the worst thing ever.

And then I heard that voice.

You know, the one I always mention that's basically God speaking to me, as me?

It was all:

"You know you don't HAVE to do this, right? You went in search of an answer to a question (Why am I not feeling well??) and that's what you got...along with detailed instructions for how you can feel better. Don't want to feel better? Cool. Don't do it. But don't complain like you don't have a choice, because you do."

Then realized WHY I was so annoyed about the new diet.

I didn't want to learn a new way.

I wanted to stay safely tucked in my cocoon of ease & comfort by continuing to do the same thing I'd always done because I could do it effortlessly with my eyes closed & one arm tied behind my back.

Me.

The one who loves to read, loves to study, loves to learn.

It didn't make any sense until I made a wider correlation--because this moment isn't actually about egg frittatas or the bomb non-dairy honey pistachio ice cream I can't have anymore. And even that language.

"Can't have."

The truth is that I can have & do whatever I want but this experience here? It's growing me. It's teaching me about letting go of the ways I've become too familiar with my life so that I can learn how to do things I've never tried before. Learn some new tricks that will better serve who I'm evolving into & where I'm going.

The fact that I can no longer rely on the same things that have been getting me by for YEARS--the things that I learned how to do only a few short years ago (egg muffins, almond flour pancakes, lamb curry)--means that I have to acclimate to my kitchen with a mind & spirit of a beginner, all over again. Because figuring out how to make new meals with new constrains means I have to study & plan. Assemble combinations I've never tried before & even waste food by making a few mistakes along the way.

I never had to do any of this before because I had a routine I could hit with my eyes closed. It required zero thought and I could just skate by on auto pilot, all while complaining that something was "off" with my stomach.

But getting tired of the same old results is what changed. I finally found a functional medicine doctor who ran a TON of test--the right tests--which yielded a result. Making the decision to stop avoiding that feeling in my belly & just commit to the (minimum) 30 days is just the right thing to do.

Which then got me to thinking,

Where else is this pattern showing up in my life??

So many things are falling away--things I've wanted to keep holding onto--but this AIP opportunity is reminding me that the pain is a sign that something isn't working as is, and that it's time to make a new choice. And once I realized what was really happening, I was golden. I felt empowered and even cautiously excited about the next few weeks.

It only took a few days of using avocados to make basil pesto (no pine nuts or cheese--imagine that!) & crafting artichoke & caramelized onion pizzas from scratch before it hit me...

I kinda love this new way.

I love how mindful & committed I've been about my eating. I love that I've fallen in love with coconut butter (something I'd never had!) & that I made a strawberry, cucumber & avocado salad for breakfast last weekend that was so bomb I didn't even miss my eggs. I've found new spice rubs to make and finally got around to making my own bone broth which was AMAZING. I like what this is doing to my body & what it's doing to my mind. 

And I needed all of this to be shaken up because there is NO WAY I would've done this on my own.

I was assuming that the "glow up" would be focused on how I'm evolving my business, changing my writing & re-evaluating my relationships but it turns out it that the revolution started a bit closer to home. Like, right downstairs, in my kitchen.

If you're wanting to know where the next revolution is waiting to happen in your life, look no further than to what is hurting you in the life you have now.

The answer is right there. 

"NOT NOW" DOESN'T MEAN "NEVER".

Tuesday, April 25 at 3:26pm I was scheduled to be on a long awaited flight headed to Madrid.

Today is Friday, April 28 and...I'm still in Atlanta.

What happened, you ask? 

Well, life happened.

Business opportunities have come up, things I need to address, ideas I want to launch and as all of those things started converging, something deep down was nudging me, "Dayka, it's not time." And let me tell you, when you love Madrid as much as I do heeding to that voice isn't always easy. The final straw came last Friday, after suddenly finding out from my doctor that I have some gastrointestinal issues which require me to be on a very strict diet. Going to Spain & Morocco while on a diet that keeps me from eating all of the bread, cheese, eggs, rice, & sweets that I want?? It felt like more anxiety than bliss.

So I got up Monday and cancelled my airline ticket, just 21 hours shy of my departure. 

But leading up to that dramatic, last minute cancellation, I weighed my options for weeks. Talked about it with a few close friends. My best friend asked me last week, "What are you feeling overwhelmingly led to do?", and I didn't really have a response because there wasn't an "overwhelming" feeling at all. Instead I just heard a quiet but strong voice of encouragement saying, "You know what to do." And I did.

The right thing, for right now, is for me to stay put in Atlanta. 

To be clear, I am still moving to Spain....I feel this deep in my spirit. I still feel the pull of Spanish life and am looking forward to the experience of building a new life in a new country very soon.....it's just not gonna happen for me this week. And this decision, of course, has made me think a lot about the ways that I attempt to direct (read: control) my life.

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to Surrender--to be open to the fact that something greater than I can imagine is organizing itself in my favor. Most of the time, even with the best of my intentions, "my plans" are in the way of that greater good, because I'm only considering with what I THINK is possible. Possibilities that are based entirely upon my limited perspective of who I am, where I'm from, what I look like, where I've been, past relationships I've had and more. But the reality is that there are FAR MORE possibilities for me in this world than I can imagine. And I always want to stay open to that truth. For all I know, postponing my trip may just be a happy detour from The Universe that's leading me towards a new opportunity that covers ALL of my expenses, both here and abroad (!!!). Or one that puts me in connection with some amazing people doing international work that I really want to be a part of. Whatever it is, I'm totally open to receiving whatever goodness wants to come my way. In fact, I'm beckoning it forth.

A few people have asked me if I feel embarrassed because I postponed my trip, or if I regretted sharing with the world that I was going.

But I don't.

On the contrary, I'm super proud I put it out there. Proud that bought my ticket and started downsizing my house and researched apartments in my desired neighborhoods and found a co-working space and already had plans to hang out this past Wednesday night. I'm proud that I started walking the walk of what it means to move forward with the intention of building a new life in a new country because these kinda things just don't happen overnight. Big ideas are birthed from tiny little ideas and the only thing required to execute them is that we take one step at a time, again & again. Whether or not "my goal" was obtained is actually neither here nor there, because just doing all of this preparation has changed me. I am better for having done the work. 

I've had to remember that not leaving on April 25th doesn't mean that I'm NEVER going, it just means exactly what I'm hearing, which is "Not right now." And sometimes we get those things confused, thinking "no" automatically means "never", when that's hardly the case. It's usually a "you're not ready just yet" or an "I have something better for you". And this is what you have to remember every time it looks like the door is closing in your face--there is something greater for me to know here.

Spain may not have been in the cards for April 2017 but best believe it's still there for me. And so is whatever you may have tried that didn't quite work out how you'd planned the first time around. Detours are ALWAYS the set up for something greater, as long as you remember that everything is here to teach us something. Learn your lessons and keep it moving!

SO MUCH has been going on in my life since January and I can't wait to share it all with you. But until that time comes...you know where to find me. Thanks for being excited for me anyhow.

BE VULNERABLE.

I put all of my business out there on Instagram this week. Emphasis on all. 

And instead of feeling scared, or worried about what people might think, I felt free. And incredibly empowered.

It was a reminder that I am a REAL person with a REAL body and, like many of you, going through REAL things. I think a lot about how I show up on social media & always try to make sure that I'm sharing the truth about who I am from as many angles as possible. Yes my life is good but...it's also "good" because that's the only truth I'm willing to consider about it. Things are always working out in my favor.

This Instagram post is something that, years ago, I thought I'd never do because there was a time when it seemed like being diagnosed with Vitiligo was the worst thing that could happen to me. Funny what a little time, perspective & experience can do for those self sabotaging beliefs that we unknowingly cling to for dear life....   My truth is that I'm not perfect. I don't have all the answers (the ones I do have are often subject to change), I can be impatient, I'm not always kind, and I have my own share of emotional wounds & sore spots that I'll be working to release for as long as I'm alive. But you know what? I am here. And I show up for my life, with every single thing I have, every single day. And I'm really proud of that. Yes, I do it for myself but I'm also clear that my life isn't just about me...it's about you, too. Because we need each other to survive. 

I wrote this & posted it on IG a few days ago but I think it's worth sharing here again:

"Part of the reason we must commit ourselves to telling the truth about who we are is because WE ARE ALL JUST LIGHTHOUSES FOR EACH OTHER. The only way we ever reach the shore is with HELP from another human being--I share mine, which helps you share yours, which helps someone else share theirs. We don't do each other any favors by pretending to be (have/live/do) things that we are not (and most of the time folk know when you're lying anyway!). Whoever & whatever you are is good enough, right now. Walk in Truth. Be a lighthouse."

Never be afraid to be vulnerable and share the truth about who you are because there's never a wrong time to be a lighthouse. Or a gatekeeper. Never forget that there's someone out there right now, who won't know that it can be done (whatever "it" may beuntil YOU do it. And that's pretty powerful. So allow yourself to be vulnerable with people.

There's no one right way to be vulnerable--I get that social media route is not for everyone--but the point is, allow yourself to be exposedGive yourself the privilege of being known, and watch people rise to support you....and in turn they will also support themselves.

I can assure you that there is no greater honor. Even if it means letting your belly hang out on the 'gram!!

JUST SHOW UP.

Every Friday when I send this letter out I am SO incredibly grateful for your feedback and the fact that many of you take the time to share pieces of your life with me. Your emails remind me that I'm on the right track and that I'm not the only one thinking the way that I do. You remind me that I'm not alone. But my reasoning for sending writing these letters is actually quite selfish. The truth is, I do this for me.

I'm doing this because for years I thought that being a writer meant that my name needed to appear on the NYT bestseller list. Or that I needed to have a byline in a major publication. Or that people should know my literary name--and my work--without my having to explain any details.

But these things do not a writer make. 

You know what makes a writer?

Writing. 

That's it.

Sitting down every day and committing to give breath to ideas by writing them down.

Even if it's just in my journal, or in a friend's birthday card, I know that I am a writer. I care deeply about the process of articulating my thoughts & find great JOY in the act putting them down on paper. These things alone make me a writer.

And I'm a writer because I said so--not anyone else.

But sometimes the best that I can manage to bang out is just a paragraph. Or all I have is the beginning of an idea that even I don't yet fully understand. Sometimes it's 6pm on Thursday and I have NO idea what I'm going to write for Friday at 6am.

And you know what??

I'm learning that's okay. 

Every week may not be a home run. Every letter may not hold some deep & profound truth or conversely, it may hold an idea that goes completely over everyone's head. But I'm realizing that NONE of that matters.

What matters is the act of just showing up for the work.

Judging how good it is--or how it should be changed/edited/condensed--is actually Step 4 or 5. But Step 1 is all about actually getting the work done. Giving life to the ideas. Creating sentences from the thoughts.

I thought about this last night at 10pm after I spent the majority of the day in bed with a rough upset stomach. A big part of me wanted to just push this letter off until next week but then I heard a voice that reminded me:

You need to write something. 

Because these emails are first & foremost about the discipline of doing the work I say I want to do. Everything else--how good, how long, how eloquent--is secondary. 

And just like that--at 10pm last night--I got the inspiration for this letter. What normally takes hours & hours took less than 90 minutes, because it just came pouring out.

The only thing that I have to do, every day, is find a way to honor my calling. Sometimes that's as small as a private journal entry, a thank you card for a kind gesture or public social media post but IT ALL COUNTS.

Every single bit of it.

I am a writer, so my job is to write and consistently show up to create this letter. No judging of the work is allowed in the early stages. Because when you do work that you love there is no "there"...you just keep working as long as there's something inside of you that wants to be born.

And the only way you can birth it is to show up.

Grab the pen. Pick up the paintbrush. Make the beat. Write the song. Create the code.

Today I've shown up to be a writer.

Who/What are you showing up to be???

RUMI. TINDER. AND DAYKA 4.0

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One of my favorite quotes is by the ancient Islamic mystic, Rumi. It reads:

Know then that the body is but a garment. Go seek the wearer, not the cloak.

I repeat that last part to myself constantly:

Seek the wearer, not the cloak. 

Every time I say it my spine tingles because as India Arie says, "You know the truth by the way it feels."

And this, my friends, feels like the truth to me. The more I decipher those words the more I understand the call.

Go in search of what is True.Chase down what is real.Deliberately strive for that which can't be seen. 

This stuff is sooo good!!

But here's the thing about expanding your mind--once you learn something new, you can never unknow what you know. People can't pee on your head & tell you it's raining anymore, so you have to start acting like you know better.  And once you truly understand that you've been called to chase down that which can't been seen??Well then that's exactly what you have to start doing.

But that's not very easy on an app like Tinder.

Over the years I've connected with tons of matches, sent hundreds of text messages, ki-ki'd on a handful of phone calls & even gone on a couple of "dates" (including an epic 6 hour adventure in Spain!) but nothing's really panned out for me. I blame it all on Rumi's directive.

The thing is--when I start swiping rightI don't like who I become.

The app encourages me to pick people apart based on their cloak--the outside stuff. From what they're wearing to what their house looks like, the second I open the app it's like I become this woman who has an opinion about EVE.RY.THING.

Well, wait a minute. Okay. I mean...I actually always have an opinion about everything but...the Tinder version of me feels super critical. And petty. Like Dayka 4.0. But trust me when say that Dayka 1.0 is more than enough--we don't actually need to go to 4.0.

Now some of these guys might be actually be funny & engaging but I'll never know because I'm too focused on things like why they have dark sunglasses on in every single picture. Why they're kissing their dog in the mouth. Why they're posed in a residential area with 15 shotguns. Or why they've taken multiple pictures of themselves bare-chested in front of a bathroom mirror with their underwear pulled down beyond their pelvic bone. These are the kind of things that bring out Dayka 4.0.

But then I hear that familiar refrain--Seek the wearer, not the cloak--and I'm reminded of what I've been called to do. And I remember that the only thing that's real is what's unseen.  Who you are. The wearer. 

Because in real life, love has never found me because of a cloak.

On the contrary, it's always found me unexpectedly. Chance meetings. Random funny conversations. Unexpected connections. 4.0 loves to focus on the cloak.But 1.0 searches for spirit. And Truth.

The guys I've liked?? I was drawn to them because of their spirits..and their jokes...and their intellect...and their experiences...and their energetic chemistry.I didn't choose them because of how they looked---I chose them because of how they felt. And because the way a person feels can't really be articulated in a photo (well, it kinda can but that's another post)...I'll just loop back to my dear friend Rumi.

Seek the wearer, not the cloak. 

When I whisper that phrase to myself it's a reminder that seeking anything requires intentional action on my part. It requires me to chase, pursue & strive--so if I'm to be responsible for "seeking the wearer" in every situation, I know that what I'm looking for isn't going to be found on that easy, surface layer.Instead my job is to actually look beyond the cloak and find the wearer inside. I believe it's the only thing I'm really here on Earth to do.

But that's not an easy feat in a world that encourages us to focus on the glitz & settle for what's on the surface. Knowing someone requires that you first make yourself knowable. Vulnerable, open, available, interestED---all of it. You can only get to know others once you've gotten to know yourself...that's the only way any of this works.

So tell me: if the Wearers meet Wearers & Cloaks meet Cloaks....which one are you??? 

THE MOST POWERFUL QUESTION YOU CAN ASK.

Two weeks ago, on March 4th, one of my best friends lost his father very suddenly. He was seemingly healthy, active & by all accounts, led a very full life.

And yet one minute he was here, and the next minute he was gone.

His death came just seven days after my birthday, when I shared this post about my own experience with my father's death exactly 10 years ago. My father--who also transitioned very suddenly--passed away on the day before my 28th birthday, so it's a date I've never forgotten. And it's eerie how I publicly shared these words about that time in my life just days before his father's death, completely unaware that I was actually talking directly to someone in my inner circle.

As you can imagine I've spent much of the last 2 weeks thinking a lot about grief, death, friendship, love & how we care for those closest to us.  This post is about one of those things.

After my father died I quickly came to the conclusion that asking bereaved people that all too familiar, "How are you doing?" was quite possibly the dumbest question in the world. Every time someone asked I'd always think to myself, "I just lost my father--how the fuck do you think I'm doing right now???". The question seemed to be simple, thoughtless & terribly annoying.

But then, 13 days ago, one of MY people lost one of HIS people. And all I really wanted, every day, was to ask him how he was doing.

How is your soul feeling today? Where are you emotionally? How are you processing things? 

Because as much as we're socialized to automatically ask "How are you?" as a mindless form of greeting, there are moments in life when that question truly is the only thing in the world that you want to know.

How is your heart in this moment? How do you feel in the world today? 

And now I understand, in a way that I couldn't have before, why asking people "How are you?" actually isn't the worst question in the world.

You wanna know what the worst question is?

No question at all. 

Because not asking is to presume that you already know the answer.

And that in itself can be like an act of aggression.

You ask so that you can give people a space to own their own feelings. And you ask because inquiring how someone is doing--and truly meaning it--is actually an act of love. 

One of my favorite authors, Rob Bell, taught me that the simplest things are often the most profound. He reminds me of the importance of making old things new again & encourages me to constantly uncover new meaning in the midst of the everydayness of life. Because perspective, time & evolution have shown me that simple question--the one we mindlessly ask all the time & the one I once thought to be the "dumbest question in the world"--is actually one of the most powerful questions I can ever ask.

This experience, even though we're just a few days in, has helped me bring profound meaning to what has always been right in front of me.

My friend is grieving because he loved someone. And I'm here, writing this, because I love my friend.

I can't tell you much about the road he must now walk but I can tell you all about the one I walk beside him.

It starts & ends with four simple words:

How are you doing???

IT'S JUICY IN THE MIDDLE.

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A few years ago there came a point in my life where things got a little stale. Life was good but generally speaking, everything was very middle of the road.The highs weren't too high & the lows weren't too low. Living felt safe and easy. Too easy.

Because deep down I knew that I was selling myself short. 

So I put a tiny wrench in my predictable flow by deciding to book a solo trip to Istanbul--a place that wasn't even on my radar until I decided to go. I'd never been, didn't know the language & didn't know a soul. Everyone thought I was crazy to venture to Turkey alone & my mom strongly encouraged me to rethink my decision. I was scared to death because I didn't have all of the money to go and I'd even turned down a high profile design opportunity on the bet that I would be out of the country. But none of this mattered, because something was telling me that I needed to make that trip...and the minute I told the world that I was going to Istanbul, every single thing fell in line--I even scored an airline ticket at 50% off of the published price! 

I always say that the Universe will honor us when we honor ourselves, and this is just one of MANY times I've seen this principle work in my own life. Following my intuition to Istanbul ended up being one of THE best gifts I've ever given to myself.

It was there that I learned my strength, adaptability & capability aren't just limited to the United States. Or to English-speaking countries. And it was there, while eating baklava along the Bosphorus Strait, that I understood the cost of playing it safe & easy meant I would be settling for an undiscovered life. And being in Istanbul showed me that was a price I couldn't afford to pay.

It's a lessonI haven't since forgotten.

Here's the thing about settling for the lesser life:it will never get you to the juice. 

It's like hanging on the side of the pool because you know you can get wet without exerting any effort. You've got your bathing suit on & you're out there having fun, feeling like you're really getting the best of both worlds until one day you look out and realize you've been had because the real merriment is actually happening in the middle of the pool!! Everyone is doing all kinds of exciting things with both hands because the people in the middle decided to let go of the edge so they can have more experiences. The Middles are lit AF!! They can swim underwater, do cannonballs, play Marco Polo & even get in a friendly round of water polo, all while you're looking on from the outskirts, missing the action 'cause you're still hanging onto the side of the pool. Over there trying to "take it easy".

But the edge isn't as appealing once you realize the secret--the middle is where the juice is.

It's the metaphorical place where you become the storyteller of your journey.Moving across the country for new love? Leaving a secure 9-5 job to follow your passion??None of it can happen unless you let go of the edge & swim out to the middle. Because making a better story is all about opening up to the unknown.It's about letting go of who we are to make space for the potential of who we must become. 

So how exactly do you get to the juicy middle??  You do it by constantly asking yourself, "What will give me an opportunity to grow into a deeper version of myself??" and "What will make for a better life story??".And then you act accordingly. It could be as small as joining a new social group or it could be as big as finally leaving a stale relationship. No matter the move, you know when it's your time to move and you go--even in the face of uncertainty. For me, it was going to Istanbul alone, led only by the guidance of a deep knowing in my soul--my intuition.

This is the epiphany led me to launch "Lost & Found Marrakech", which is my unique way of creating a space for community & adventure to co-exist along the backdrop of the North African desert. It's my attempt to gift to other women a little bit of the same freedom, confidence, & thrill that I experienced in Istanbul. The kinda things that can change your life.

So if you've been thinking about joining me in Marrakech, knowing that you need to go but paralyzed by your what-ifs, think about what I said earlier and honor yourself so that the Universe can honor you.Deposits are due today & there are still a few spaces left--could one of them be for you?? Take inventory & ask yourself, "What will give me an opportunity to grow into a deeper version of myself??" and if coming to Marrakech feels right for you, I'd love to have you.

Hop over here to learn more. And feel free to email me if you have questions!

Masalama.