Child benefit

In the UK, a parent with a child under 16 or still in school, is entitled to child benefit, £20.30 for the eldest child and £13.40 for each other child a week. The last Labour government increased this amount above inflation. The current government has frozen it.

The government proposes to withdraw entitlement to child benefit if a parent or step-parent pays the 40% top rate of income tax. This is unfair: where one partner works, and earns £45,000, there is no entitlement, but where both partners work and each earns £40,000 a year they are entitled. However, it has the advantage of being comparatively easy to administer and check, and perhaps there is less concern about fairness to high earners, even if the single earner households that Conservative supporters so admire suffer.

But the health and social security system gains support because we all pay in, and we all¬†take out of it. We all can use the health service, and we all get the state retirement pension. “We are all in it together”, as Mr Cameron says. Child benefit is the most universal of benefits. It gives the wealthy- top 20% of the British public- a stake in the system as a whole. Restricting their access to child benefit turns a universal system into a charitable system. And children are a source of hope in the future for the whole community, not just their parents.

In 2010, a parent with a household income below £55,000 a year would also be entitled to some child tax credit, probably £10.40 a week. Now that figure is £40,000, and soon it will be below £20,000 for most households, because of cuts in entitlement. That is a backwards step for a different reason. Paying some tax credit to most parents meant that parents could realise it would be worth claiming. That increases take up. Otherwise, people who would be entitled do not claim because they are not sure they are entitled, and so the benefit does not reach its intended recipients.


“The intolerable wrestle with words and meanings”- Eliot had it much harder than I have, but then I am simply trying things out, practising writing rather than seeking to express Reality in a wholly new way. There we have it, three hundred words on child benefit, a rather dryer topic than I normally address here, a bit of fact, a bit of opinion. In what order should it go? The aside about tax credit in the first paragraph grew until I had to shift it to a new topic in another paragraph at the end. And people read this stuff, and comment. Does it jar if I repeat a word? Can the expression be more elegant, or more beautiful? I read a complaint in a magazine about meaninglessly using the word “So” at the start of sentences, and I notice it in myself. I am enjoying writing, and think it worth my while practising, and seeking an audience.

The blue pill

Using male pronouns to refer to me is as disrespectful, uncivilised, and wrong, as calling a black person a N*****.

This is who I am. To express myself female is what I wanted, against all common sense or rationality, against the evidence of my own senses, looking at my own body. Plunging into the nature of my being, that I am female is deeper than anything else, utterly impervious to change. Actually, the pill question: “If you could take a pill and be a normal male without these feelings, would you?”- well, I come out with the “right” answer, “No, because then I would not be me”, but sometimes it is a close run thing. Being transsexual has given me such intense pain that sometimes I do not know how I have borne it. I have been suicidal, just wanting to die, for months at a time, and twice I have undertaken preparatory acts, though not any actual self-harming physical act- I have formed the decision, then backed off.

To refer to me as “she” rather than “he” is a basic level of courtesy which I am entitled to, and fortunately receive from most people I meet. However, where I do not, I will not be sympathetic or understanding, and nor should you be, whoever you are. I so resent still having to work through these issues aged 45, ten years after getting the courage to express myself female at work.

It is the same for people with body integrity identity disorder. If someone is complaining about how difficult it is to get a wheelchair on a bus, “Well you could walk” is an answer just as disrespectful as using male pronouns for me.

It seems to me that humanity, now, is working through issues of otherness and respect, issues of living together, issues of accepting the full range of human diversity and the discomfort that currently engenders. I think we can get these things right, and that free, diverse humanity has far more access to blessing and gift than regulated, regimented humanity. For my own self-respect, I will assert my right to respect from others. I have been at the fulcrum of this issue, and have survived.

If I can assert my right without anger or fear, then I am giving an invitation, though one some people will be unable to hear: an invitation to see humanity in the full beauty and richness of our diversity, and to accept all those bits of yourself which you have falsely been told are unacceptable.


It really matters to me to see humanity as progressing. Things are not as I might wish, but I do think they are getting better. A little group of Quakers, frightened of Peak Oil, climate change, and the Global Financial Crisis had a conversation where I asserted this, and people brought forward the Bosnian war and the Rwandan genocide, child labour in India, even female genital mutilation, forsooth, as evidence against. I could play the game: I have a good level of articulacy and rhetorical skills. I am interested in current affairs and history- and Life, in all its fulness and variety, even if more as an observer than a participant, so far- so I can come up with apposite examples and elegant argument. Instead, I disengaged.

Heaven is Here. I see it. That anyone does not see it is not evidence against its existence. So, I do not need to win the argument and convince anyone, I am satisfied in my own mind.

I can say to anyone, look around yourself. See the abundance and the beauty and the wonder and the Blessing. Look, at this, or this, or this. And if they cannot take this in, I may give up on them.

Gosh, that is pretty mature of me. Saintly, even. Or, since I am doing teenage at the moment: the argument going against me, I went into a sulk. Words….


Am I boring you? Am I just repeating myself? I have been¬†thinking about¬†that last Pronouns conversation, three weeks ago. There are times when it is the other’s own stuff coming out, or they are just ignorant, and there are times when they¬†want to push¬†my buttons. Those two, they know, they have the intelligence, maturity and experience¬†to understand completely. That particular time, it was deliberate. As if I have a big, red button, as big as my torso, and all you have to do is tap it gently and watch me implode.


Ah. Breathe it in. I am getting there.

I have nothing to be ashamed of.

You will not hurt me with this.


I visited Belfast in 1988. There were soldiers with guns, and armoured vans with low skirts on, so no-one could roll a grenade underneath, and barbed wire protecting the pubs. I was pushing my bicycle through the station. That army officer will not walk in front of me- so I hurried, walking in front of him, making him pause. And- I felt his Love reach out and envelop me. That is the only way I can put it.

Rather than suppressing it, I am feeling the intense pain of decades of feeling that I am an outsider, that I am less, and I see a way through this.

TED, in praise of vulnerability.

Trusting my emotional being

What if I am merely ruminating, rather than working through things?
That would be disastrous. That would be me, broken and worthless-
That would be me, who I am, where I am, after those experiences.
But I do not think I am just ruminating, because
it feels like I am working through things.

What of me, being still, doing nothing?
I am doing something. I am healing. I am doing the work of self-acceptance.
Not as fast as I might wish-
-as fast as I can, in this moment.
Everything is alright.

Darkness and Light to you are both alike- Psalm 139:20.


In the light of consciousness all sorts of things happen and one need not give special importance to any.

The sight of a flower is as marvelous as the vision of God. Let them be. Why remember them and then make memory into a problem? Be bland about them; do not divide them into high and low, inner and outer, lasting and transient.

Go beyond, go back to the source, go to the self that is the same whatever happens.

Your weakness is due to your conviction that you were born into the world. In reality the world is ever recreated in you and by you.

See everything as emanating from the light which is the source of your own being.

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, quoted by Miriam Louisa at precisely the right time for me.


The break in that for me, the suspension of suspension of disbelief, was,
“You were [not] born into this world.”
Of course I was born into this world. I am a physical being, in a physical world.
The World is not as I see it. If I let it be, I may see it more clearly.
Recreate it in me better.

Ooh, goody! I’m having a mystical experience! Happy dance!
My Inner Child, Ladies and Gentlemen, doing Inner Child stuff. I thank God for it.

What might this Strewthcrivvenswonderful, Mystic, Personal Growth Experience achieve for me?
Emotions attuned to the current situation not past stuff, held in awareness and accepted.
A clearer more truthful view of what is outside me, held in consciousness and accepted.

Quack, quack

What I want, I thought, is a portfolio of quackery, alternative therapy mumbo-jumbo, so that I can exploit the placebo effect, and trusting, susceptible or needy people. My personality would entice and enrapture them, and¬†their need to believe that the time and money they had spent had had a useful purpose would work in my favour.¬†My words would be meaningless, but, By Jove, the money would roll in. Emotional Freedom Technique, there’s a brilliant name, vaguely irritating tapping on random parts of the body¬†while intoning “Personal Growth” messages culled from Facebook. Cranio-sacral therapy, on the other hand, them’s latin words, them are, that sounds proper scientific.¬†A bit of Reiki, a bit of Tarot. Shiatsu massage sounds rather fun. The training is more onerous, but perhaps the same thing works on me: having invested time and money in it, I have a strong interest in believing in it.

The trouble is, I have been brought up discounting feelings and relying too much on intellect, and just not understanding the alternative. I remember hearing about what a US Presidential candidate (possibly Mr Clinton)¬†“felt” about an issue, and being deeply irritated¬†by this: what should matter is what he thinks. And now I hear the same idea echoed in the film The Iron Lady. So I really do have the distaste that Richard Dawkins, say, would have for quacks and pseudo-therapists, and wonder whether, in some future crisis of confidence, I could decide that the placebo effect was enough, and forgive myself for dressing it up in theatrical flummery.¬†With one¬†alternative therapist whom I respect, when she mentioned astrology as if it might have some relevance to reality, I felt a check, a moment to question her perception. And when I read of Body talk, the claims of what is going on, against what the therapist may be observed to be doing, jar. It is placebo and a touch of NLP. I should do NLP undiluted rather than that, it would be more honest.¬†

Rather than a Healer, I could see myself as an entertainer. I produce my flim-flam with a real sense of drama to it, we are going on a Shamanic journey, lie down between these candles while I Smudge you, and then I will evoke the archetypal animals. Private performances, one to one, must be worth ¬£60 an hour. Or I could find profitable ways of getting oxytocin flowing in my “clients” to induce dependence.

I feel there is more to it than flim-flam, flummery, mumbo-jumbo, but then I do have an interest in feeling that. A pecuniary interest, if I move into Healing and make a go of it, a pecuniary interest which might make me more forgiving of Trusting the Unknowing than Professor Dawkins is. Those comforting untruths which seem to make life easier. My integrity is important to me, I say, as I underpin it with half-conscious lies.

It is such an evenly balanced dilemma for me. If I believed that alternative and complementary therapies were worthless, I would know what to do. If I believed that I had a calling to such creative and beautiful work, I would know what to do. The problem is that these beliefs are at war in me. My confidence being low, the doubt increases, but knowing that does not-


like a particularly strong indicator of the truth of the matter.

And now for something completely different

Macbeth was unfairly traduced by Shakespeare. He was a very civilised and enlightened monarch for his time and place (eleventh century Scotland) rather than a cowardly, murderous tyrant. He reigned for seventeen years.

A great deal of the credit for his enlightened and progressive rule should go to his sister Polly. Polly was an early feminist, strongly in favour of the rights of women, educated in Latin, English and French, and influential in the Celtic church.

As you will have heard if you have read the play, before Macbeth was King, he was Thane of Fife. It is just about the only fact Shakespeare got right. Thane is simply an early Scottish title, roughly equivalent to Duke today. When Macbeth became King, his old position of Thane became vacant, and one of his first decisions was who would fill it best. Of course, his choice was his sister Polly. So he went to her, and he said to her,

“Polly, you’re a Thane”.

Polyurethane! Ha! Geddit? Geddit? ROFLMFAOSHTIWSMS!!!


There was an ant, a rather nasty ant, highly intelligent and completely amoral. He had an eye to the main chance, this ant, and in 1933 he saw which way the wind was blowing and joined the Nazi party. He joined the SS. He was so proud of his black uniform and his six shiny jackboots!

But then came 1945, and it was no longer so advantageous to be in the SS. He had to pretend to have been a simple farmer, and never an SS man at all.

He was an Ex-Uber-Ant.


There was a complete Ring cycle at the Sydney Opera House. The roles of the Volsungs, Siegmunde and Sieglinde, were played by the Heldensoprano Mathilde Bauermeister, and Luciano Pavarotti. As the Sydney Herald reported, under the heading, Volsung Mathilde.

The Keltured and Idiocated Clare Flourish, ladies and gentlemen. A better class of pun.


J wrote of a conversation with a woman about experiences of Love, where she realised how alike we all are. It is not a new thought: the line in my mind was

the Colonel’s Lady an’ Judy O’Grady
Are sisters under their skins!

and I stick by that¬†on looking at that whole¬†poem. The¬†auld sodger in whose voice it is slips away when Kipling says that.¬†I am sure¬†there¬†is something Biblical on the thought, even if St Paul often articulates our different gifts. A quick search for “We are all one” yields this. “We are all brothers and sisters” yields Glenn Beck!¬†For a British person, whose glimpses of Fox News are in satire showing how weird¬†these Americans can be, with Beck the principal exhibit, that was a surprise.¬†However, while it is a sentiment anyone may mouth, it is a truth each person has to see for themself, experientially, and ideally in the muck and mire of living, not just in meditation on retreat. Like j’s deepening conversation.

What gets in the way of the realisation is the masks each of us wear, pretending to be normal. The mask creates a feeling of inadequacy, and impairs our vision of other people: we think they are closer to “normal” than we are. I am taking mine off. All the time. The mask of being male was impossible for me, but when I transitioned to female I still kept a great deal of my reserve and silence, which is also too painful for me.

Quentin Crisp, gay when that was dangerous, said

What I want is to be accepted by other people without bevelling down my individuality to please them- because if I do that, all the attention, all the friendship, all the hospitality that I receive is really for somebody else of the same name. I want love on my own terms.

One friend says of my sharing, “it is so wonderfully surprising how open and vulnerable you are. I truly admire you.” I discount that less than I would have at one time.¬†A reserved and private man, quite eminent in his field, who once told me of being very badly hurt by the dysfunctional Cardiff Quaker meeting, called my earlier effusions “cries for help” and counselled me against them.

It is important for me to state precisely why I am so open and vulnerable. I am not showing off my insecure spots to be rescued and validated by others, to have someone say “there there” and kiss me better, to be accepted so that I can accept myself- for that is what I wanted, and when I could not accept or value myself, no amount of validation expressed by others was enough for me.

I am taking off my masks because my aim is to accept and value all the bits which the masks hide, all the bits which I am self-conscious about. So that I can achieve the state in my tag line, “Open heart, independent mind” which I took from a strong-minded friend who I think is closer to that state than I am. Or Neil Peart’s Cinderella Man-

eyes wide open
heart undefended
innocence untarnished

This is the best way I can see right now towards my own flourishing and growth, and ability to survive in the world. I am taking off the masks, or the Shell, because I cannot live that way any more.


I am a primate, and primates are social animals. So other people have great power over me. But the nature of that power and its exercise has changed.

All my friend did was touch me lightly on the arm- two fingers by the elbow- and kiss me on the cheek, but such is the state of my heightened sensibility at the moment that I was- the best word I can come up with for it is “Unmanned”. Moved to the core of my being. It was completely lovely. When I was trying to pretend to be a man, repressing all my feelings, that would have had no effect on me at all. I remain lonely, and starving for such connection- and now it is possible, and I will find it.

In the coffee shop, the woman behind the counter said “That is ¬£3.10, ‘s”. I was not sure I had heard aright. What did you say? “That’s ¬£3.10.” Did you say anything after that? She denied it. Then she said, “There’s your change, sir”, and this time admitted it. So, calmly, I took time to explain to her. “That is not the right word. What do you think the right word is?” With the sound of disbelieving questioning, she said, “Madam?”

So I explained to her that I am a woman, and I feel insulted by the implication that I am a man. She apologised.

Now, I am irritated. I do not have time for such petty games, and buying a coffee should be a pleasant experience, as I am sure Darcy Willson-Rymer¬†would agree. But I am no longer subject to this woman’s power. I am not, now, lying curled up in a ball on the floor weeping, as I might have been ten years ago.

Learning through Joy

Thoughts provoked by Wisdom Pigeon, who quotes Aeschylus:

He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despite, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.

So I asked, can one learn through Joy? And Wisdom Pigeon comments on learning through pain: joy is the reward after.

Liz asked if I would like some toast, so I put it under the grill myself because of her physical difficulties. I burnt it, because I was distracted, then I burnt the second lot; then she pressed me to do a third, and I demurred. I really did not want to. I would make do with the burnt lot. She pressed me, and eventually I accepted, and did not burn these.

At the Children’s centre Lucy the manager was listening to my moaning, and she said she would make me a cup of tea. I refused, I should make my own cup of tea: and she was surprised by my vehemence, and insisted, and made me tea.

These two small acts of kindness last March, when I was finding life difficult, did not produce so much an immediate sense of joy as a niggling doubt, a strangeness- the world is not as bad as I then saw it. This was part of my movement towards my greatest learning of last year, moving from negative to positive, glass empty to glass full. So I think one can learn through joy, through glimpses of beauty.

As Wisdom Pigeon says, though the lesson is painful, having learned it is joyous. Much of my pain comes from demanding that the world be other than it is, and there is relief in the moment when I stop.


I commented on the blog of a woman afflicted by suicide, and she valued it, saying, “That should be in the books.” So I offer to you what I said to her:

The suicide was not the most important thing in your father-in-law’s life. It is not the one thing through which you should see him.

I am tempted to write further about suicide, but that is my sole pretence to originality, so I will stop.


British politicians say we are having a hard time at the moment, and appeal to the votes of the “Squeezed Middle” through our resentment, avarice, and fear. Hafiz saw how we are in Abundance,¬†though so many¬†do not see it. Daniel Ladinsky, again:

Dear ones
why let your winsome body act
As if it is living against a tyrant’s knife?

Why pretend your expansive existence,
Your Imperial Nature

Have all been squeezed
into a tiny red hot skillet

That is being kicked by a camel’s hoof
Over the dry sand?

For your friend Hafiz
So clearly sees we are all immersed
In the Soft Brilliance.

In the Quaker meeting

Sunday 8th: I had a strong sense of being who I am, without mask or pretense, in Meeting this morning. I am who I am, meeting I Am Who I Am.

We have the concept of coming to meeting with “heart and mind prepared” or the opposite, “hot from the World”.¬†Five weeks¬†ago, I was “hot from the world”, distressed and bewildered so that I could not sit quietly in the silence, my monkey mind raced, I had to read or I would have had to go out. And that is OK: the worship is a thing which we do together in the silence, some of us in our presence actively deepen the silence and gather the meeting, and when I cannot do that work myself I can rely on others.

Yes, we are only sitting in silence- but the stillness radiates out of the still person, and we all feel it.

And then today, I just felt different. I felt self-accepting, and I felt that because of this I was able to open up in silence to the sense of God, and of the whole of reality around me, and my relationship with it. Thoughts flitted through my mind, sometimes, and they just went. It was so easy.

Derek ministered on “Mindfulness”, the word of the moment: how striking it is that spiritual seekers turn to the mysticism of another continent, rather than ours, to Buddhism, yoga, shamanic practice, rather than Christian mysticism. Christianity is seen as the rules-based, sex-obsessed “religion” which people who say they are “spiritual but not religious” are rejecting, and it can be so much more.

It is my experience that my sitting in Meeting in silence, and my practice at home, makes me more truly me and fits me to do God’s work in the world. Is it just a feeling? It seems more like a perception of how things are.

Monday: the feeling continued. I walked down the sunless ginnel, and was entranced by the setting sun’s bright light on that wall, over the wall. The not¬† particularly interesting photograph might give the idea of what I saw, which delighted me, and at which I looked for some time. On two hundred yards to the car park, where a tit perched high in a bare tree sang so loudly, “Girls! I’m Here! Girls!” and I stood and listened. Beauty, beauty everywhere.

Midsummer Camp

Despite some initial problems with the venue, Midsummer Camp is on for 2012, Daniel tells me. Hurrah.

I was putting up my tent¬†when a voice from behind asked if I wanted help. I turned, smiled and said yes, and A. realised suddenly¬†that he had something else to do somewhere else, and left. I am far too ready to jump to the conclusion that “it is because I am trans” but perhaps it was, in this case: the quite beautiful A. cast a spell over at least two women there, climbed into their hearts and went whistling on his way.

Cooking over wood fires is a serious risk for wigs, I have ruined two with sparks, so I was in an old wig, no makeup, jeans, shapeless raincoat- and a child said, “Mummy, is that a man?” Then Mummy explained that some men want to be women, so have¬†a sex change, which is not how I would put it. Later, J., who is seven, said to me, “You look like a man”, which got to me a bit.

Then, later in the week, I passed him on my way to the dancing tent and he said to me, “you look like a woman now”, which six months later still makes me smile in joy. And I think of that child, whatever Sins of the Fathers were visited on his mother, it seems she is not passing them on to him. Cycles can be broken.

We were camping, in four circles, cooking communally over fire, dancing, doing comedy improv, singing together, with sharing circles each night. We built community.¬†We had a Midsummer’s night ceremony, dressing up, singing and dancing round a fire and burning things which we wished to get rid of. I wrote “Negativity” on a piece of paper and burned that, and ten days later was plunged into my War.

For my US readers, you could come to the Edinburgh Festival, over 2000 shows in three weeks with international orchestras, theatre and opera companies; or perhaps do London, the historic sites, galleries and theatres- or you could come to Midsummer Camp, and meet the people. Live with us, and find in what ways we are different, and what the same.

I became aware that some of us there are Jewish. We had a Shabbas meal at sunset on Friday night. Which made me think of integration, and difference, and equality, and acceptance- celebration- of distinctiveness. In Recherche, Bloch is a Jew, introduced with this disgusting speech:

You can’t walk ten yards without stepping on one! Not that I’m a dyed-in-the-wool enemy of the chosen people, but hereabouts there’s a glut of them.

The Jews are separate, with their own snobberies and hierarchies, and¬†now Bloch, a snob, attempts to get in with the Marquis de Saint-Loup, Marcel’s friend. St-Loup, who effortlessly manifests yet¬†despises aristocratic manners, thinks himself a Socialist and reads Proudhon, is¬†mortified at Bloch’s social solecisms, and blushes sympathetically on Bloch’s behalf.¬†One of these is to refer to the lift in the hotel as a “lyfte”- he knows he should use the English word, but¬†does not know the correct pronunciation. From such tiny things is Otherness established. No wonder Bloch hates it, and tries to deny it! But I do not like Proust’s portrayals of Jews: they are ridiculous, and their Jewishness is part of their ridiculousness, and their unpleasantness. Yes, Proust makes aristocratic origins ridiculous too, but it is not the same.

I do not know what to make of Hugo Rifkind, a Jew, journalist, and the son of¬†a former Conservative Foreign Secretary, remarking in The Times¬†on the Jewishness of¬†Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, as a thing setting him apart from¬†the strata of British society now. Rifkind¬†claims he is¬†a part of that society himself. For me, the absolute moral imperative is to think of Us, always Us and never¬†“Us and Them”, and to celebrate diversity and difference within the in group.

Pope, Muir, Eliot

On 2 January, I quoted this poem, and now, as an exercise, I have written a pastiche of it:

Know first thyself, thy heart, thy soul, thy mind
Then look around, see clearly humankind.
By God created, with God’s light imbued,
Creative, loving, pow’rful, by God wooed,
In touch with beauty to enrich the heart,
in nature, other people, music, art.
Mature evolved society is mine
the knowledge of ten thousand years, is thine.
The human animal is Love alive:
Our wars diminish, and our wisdom thrives.
With balance of thought and feeling, all aligned
in safe Unknowing, soon we Knowing find.
Sole judge of truth, beholding Truth unfurled,
we bring forth yet more beauty in the world.


I am not sure whether to share this one.

Resentment is not like anger.
Anger is hot, clean, now, gone.
Resentment is cold and unending,
In the darkness at the edge.
The world turns, and from the edge,
Through a glass darkly, I see possibilities:
Dancing, singing, laughter, acceptance.
I move inwards, shivering, showing my scars
Then denying them, smiling with my mouth.

There is a power in me, I know it.
It keeps me alive in a dark stone box.
The corridor narrows and darkens,
And the light through the doorways
                blinds me and terrifies me.
Through the door, into the garden.
Stay, stay, stay, says the bird-
Stay, where there is no path
And I do not know where I am going.

The opening line is a conscious echo of Edwin Muir, “The desolations are not the sorrows’ kin”,¬†which is not¬†on the internet but in the Collected Poems, available through Amazon. Do click to look inside: more than half the book is shared there,¬†though not pp271-2, where The Desolations is. I recommend Song at p.146, an instantly accessible love poem, metrical and sweet; The Road at p. 223, because life as a Way is an image he returned to again and again, and Annunciation, also p223, because it is an image close to my heart now. Other verse I would recommend appears not to be shared, so, well, buy the book.

My ending is an echo of the first movement of Burnt Norton. Eliot wrote,

Edwin Muir will remain among the poets who have added glory to the English language. He is also one of the poets of whom Scotland should always be proud.

Should I share my verse? If I show my scars and vulnerabilities, I increase my vulnerability; and if I do not, I die, slowly. Or, this is a process of coming to terms with my own scars and vulnerabilities: to be effectual, the acceptance has to come from me- and revealing them helps.