What it Takes to Know: A Month of Reflection

It’s hard to believe about a month or so has passed since I last posted. At the beginning of this month, I embarked on a new venture in the job realm. While I was apprehensive about it, I decided to take a chance, feeling as though the possibility of success and at least some type of learning experience could come of it. That said, the morning of the first day, I awoke with a sense of fear and dread, questioning what I’d gotten myself into. Did I act on a whim? Should I have given my decision more thought? These were real, true wonders I had and I could feel my sense of dread growing with every minute inching me closer towards my 8:30am start.

What I walked into is nothing I’d like to describe. In fact, I’d like to keep most of those thoughts for my own private reference and reflection, but what I’d like to share is mainly what I’ve learned, even if it might seem cliche, or obvious to some people.

  • The easiest and quickest way to be sad and lonely is try to be someone you’re not. Whether it is through working at a certain-type of job or environment, spending time with people who don’t understand you, don’t respect you, or most importantly, celebrate you for who you ARE, quirks included.
  • I like to do my best, whether I am going to receive a benefit or not. It doesn’t matter to me if I will gain something monetarily, emotionally, or anything else. If I am going to do something, I will strive to do it with all my heart. It doesn’t matter if someone else has snubbed me or lead me astray, I will still try my best to do what I feel is right.
  • Intention means more than doing something the “correct way.” For instance, I didn’t always complete each task the “right” way when learning new skills in different jobs, or in school, but what I’ve learned through the years is that if my INTENT is to help, or to do something with all my heart and effort, than that is what really matters.
  • When I make a mistake, I OWN UP to it. I don’t deny that I haven’t always made the right choices or decisions, whether small, insignificant or not, but I will always admit to it. Sometimes admitting to certain mistakes are easier than others, but I will still admit fault where and when warranted. I’m not ashamed to show people I’m not faultless. Yes, I have quirks, insecurities, fears, worries, sometimes I can come off as a perfectionist, sometimes I can talk too fast, sometimes I can obsess over things other people might give little thought to. These all make me who I am, but I’m not trying to pretend.
  • What I’ll never understand is why people choose to behave one way towards another person and then completely turn around and snub them in the worst of ways. I’ve contemplated this for weeks now, as to why other people choose to bring other people down. I will never understand why or how people would be able to obtain personal satisfaction and gratification from knowing they’ve hurt someone, insulted them, or made them feel awful. I could never understand or imagine someone feeling remotely happy or pleased with themselves knowing they’ve made their coworker hang their head in shame, or sit in their car sobbing to themselves, feeling as though they are worthless. I know that as individuals, we really shouldn’t give people the power to decide our fate and feelings, but sometimes, feeling badly when someone has used repugnant words or expressed negative and discerning emotions towards us, it is beyond difficult to not feel badly. For me personally, throughout my life, I’ve been guilty of internalizing the way other people treat me. I’ve taken their harsh words and emotions and used it against myself in ways to cause myself even more pain and for this, it makes me human. It makes me human to admit I’m not faultless and sometimes I care too much about what others think and how others perceive me. When it comes down to it though, my goal in life is to never make someone feel like they need to question who they are, or be ashamed of who they are. Everyone has something about them that makes them unique and rather than question or criticize these quirks or creative differences, I’d rather be the one celebrating them.
  • I’d rather make someone smile each and every day, then be the one who is making them cry. Enough said.

So yes, this month has been one filled with tumultuous emotions, tears and smiles. This month brought the celebration of my niece’s first birthday, and also allowed me to make choices and reflections on my life path. While others might question my choices and scratch their heads wondering about my reasoning, that’s not for them to decide. Not everyone’s path is for everyone else, and you know what? That’s exactly how it should be. It all goes back to that one Robert Frost quote I’ve come to know and highly regard: “I took the road less traveled and it has made all the difference.” I first acquainted myself with that quote on a college admission essay question to Northwestern University. I never thought that very quote would prove to follow me throughout the course of my life, a decade later.

Belief Quote

Nonetheless, here I am. I’m filled with ideas, dreams and goals. I try to see it as not a mess of a life, but more so a maze. Yes, a maze, that while the path is not always crystal clear, or easy to navigate, but one filled with adventure and promise, and though I might have to work a little harder than some to get through it, I tell myself, “don’t worry, you’ll get there soon.” For now, I’ll enjoy it and tell myself, life has ways of surprising us and to trust it’s process.

Belief Quote 2

A Quotable Thursday

Good morning! I realize the title of my post is not a very creative one, but if anything, I feel it does accurately describe what the contents of this post will end up becoming. Anyone who knows me or reads this blog, is aware that quotes are one of my favorite things to read, share and post. They offer me not only perspective, but the utmost source of contemplation, inspiration and often serve as a muse for writing. Lately, I’ve seen a large outpouring of quotes I really have taken to on Twitter. Therefore, I thought I might share some of them, thinking they might be of interest to others, or at least provide some introspect as we begin to ease into the end of a long week. Before I do that, I’d just like to mention that if you haven’t already heard, today just so happens to be National Cheesecake Day!

Memory Quote   Cherry Cheesecake

I’ll be first to admit, cheesecake is a definite favorite of mine. I’ve never considered myself to be all that fond of chocolate cake, though of course, it has its moments, but for me, cheesecake is the ultimate dessert and one I’ve highly-regarded since childhood, though I don’t eat it all that often. That said, some of my fondest memories are of sharing a slice of cheesecake with my dad at a local diner and also, at the famed NYC spot, Lindy’s. My dad and I shared a similar fondness for cheesecake, anything cherry flavored (sodas, Twizzlers, etc), so looking back on this helps bring back a bit of childhood happiness (how appropriate, since today is a Throwback Thursday, anyway, right?!)

Memories Quote

Without further adieu, here are some quotes currently on my radar; I hope you enjoy them as much as I have:

  • “Be yourself, because and original is worth more than a copy.”
  • “It is better to learn late, than never.”
  • “Happiness is the secret to all beauty. There is no beauty without happiness.”
  • “Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because greatest secrets are often hidden in the most unlikely places.”
  • “If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.”
  • “Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say.”
  • “Nothing can be loved or hated until it is understood.”
  • “By having something to look forward to, you bring happiness into your life well before the event takes place.”
  • “Never regret something that once made you smile.”
  • “To send a letter is to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”
  • “The first step in healing is realizing there’s a wound.”
  • “Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin and inspiration will find you.”
  • “When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.”
  • “Certain things capture your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart.”
  • “Sometimes, it’s not the people who change, it’s the mask that falls off.”

Always believe

Is it or Isn’t it?

Good Morning! I hope your weekend was a pleasant one. This past weekend was a fairly routine one for me, though on Saturday morning, my mind and emotions were churning as I perused Facebook and spotted an article, now widely popular and circulating nationwide. The article I speak of, I originally spotted via my local ABC News affiliate’s Facebook page (6abc Philadelphia) and detailed/shared 11th grade Brooklyn, NY High School student, Chanie Gorkin‘s poem. If you read it top to bottom, yes, the poem is a poignant and eloquently-written one, but it is when you read it from the bottom to the top, when you (or at least, I did) suddenly realize how truly creative, unique, and inspiring it is. If you’re unfamiliar with this specific poem I’m referring to, here is a link to the article and the actual poem, itself:

http://6abc.com/875990/

“Worst Day Ever?” By Chanie Gorkin

Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don’t try to convince me that
There’s something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Even if
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.
And it’s not true that
It’s all in the mind and heart
Because
True happiness can be obtained
Only if one’s surroundings are good
It’s not true that good exists
I’m sure you can agree that
The reality
Creates
My attitude
It’s all beyond my control
And you’ll never in a million years hear me say that
Today was a good day

**Now read from the bottom to top.

Wow, truly, wow, is nearly all I can really begin to say about this poem. I was taken by such surprise and awe. As a person who used to write a lot of poems myself (see my Poems and Literary page on this blog, if you’re curious), I was truly speechless. The poem is so beyond the point of creativity, that I can’t even imagine how she would have thought of something like this. It’s not like anything I’ve ever seen and while yes, I may very well be overly enthusiastic about it, since I am a person who has an affinity for words, I always look to those who can write with such creativity and tact with the utmost admiration. Though the writer of this poem may be a decade younger than me, it truly shows that writing ability knows no age. It doesn’t matter one’s age, education, employment status, or anything they’ve been through or encountered, anyone and everyone has the ability to be able to write something inspiring and of the utmost meaning.

Words Quote

Not only though, was the way in which this poem was constructed unique, but the words themselves almost reach out and take hold of the feelings I often harbor within. It can be true that in weathering through life, one day can feel like the worst day, ever, and then the next day, or a couple days/weeks later, all can seem content and promising. Sometimes, I feel like this poem is a way of confirming the thought: “Life is a paradox.” In any case, this poem grabbed hold of me and given the number of shares, comments, likes, and how it is appearing all over social media and TV, apparently, it has struck a cord with others, too.

Writing quote

Worthy of Being You

The following post will probably be one of the most impromptu I’ve ever written, thus far. Just moments ago, I was mindlessly perusing Twitter as I so often do, throughout the day and stumbled across a tweet from one of my many favorite magazines, Good Housekeeping. I’ve read the magazine for years despite not being in their specifically targeted age demographic and have always found something I could relate to, no matter what. That being said, this morning’s tweet featured a link to an article written by bestselling author, Jennifer Wiener, published in the August 2015 issue of the magazine. After quickly reading the article, I felt overly inspired and more than compelled to both tweet about it, as well as craft a blog post surrounding it.

Good Housekeeping   Jennifer Weiner

A link to the Good Housekeeping article: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a33462/insult-hurt-self-confidence/

If you’re not a follower of Good Housekeeping on social media, a reader of the magazine, or familiar with them at all, I wanted to share it with whomever may be reading, because I feel as though it is an article that can be used as inspiration, support, awareness and may come as a realization, that we are not alone in some of the sentiments we may experience on a daily basis. For me, this post resonated on more than a singular level. In the article, the author describes how she avoided photos like the plague, stating she felt she looked “disgusting, horrible and bloated,” believing as though she didn’t deserve to be seen in a photo, feeling guilt and shame surrounding her appearance. She also stated the amount of sadness and regret she feels when looking back on parts of her life, because the photos of these times are absent. Perhaps the most poignant section of this story, in relation to myself is this:

“What I’d say is that perfect is impossible. When the camera comes out, don’t hide. Tell yourself that every time a real, imperfect woman shows up in a photograph, an angel gets its wings … and a girl who sees it might believe that her looks are OK.

Be brave. Smile and say, “Here I am.”

It’s hard for me to explain how much the author’s words truly mean to me and resonate. I can’t even begin to recall all the times I’ve hidden and shied away from the camera, of how many moments I’ve missed out or how many moments I wish I could visually recall and can’t because I hid from the camera. In August 2014, I became an aunt to my beautiful, intelligent and inspiring niece, who I love with every ounce of myself, and the only photo I have of she, my sister and I, is one from when my dog, Oliver was having surgery and we were waiting for him in the waiting room. It hurts to know this and it isn’t because of any other reason than me, avoiding the camera. So maybe today, I’ll take a photo, a photo that should have been taken whenever I felt so inclined, and be proud to be here, be proud I have the ability to take a photo, and the courage to look at it, be okay with the image looking at back at me, and bravely say, as the article states, “Here I am.”

Choices and their Consequences

About a month or two ago, while perusing several websites, including one of my favorites for books, Goodreads, I stumbled across an author whose two books called to me. Her third book, slated to be released this month, in July, was also one that had particular appeal to me, so I immediately requested all three from my local library. After reading the first two, already-released books, Taylor Jenkins Reid, the author of the books I am referring to, quickly became one of my favorite, go-to authors. Her writing is simple yet poignant, with words and stories I can easily relate to. The books have a certain flow to them, one where I can start reading, and then look at the clock next to me and realize an hour has passed. Her stories have the ability to take hold of deeply-etched emotions with me, bringing back feelings of the past and allowing me to deal and process with those sentiments I neglected years ago.

Taylor Jenkins Reid 1     Taylor Jenkins Reid 2

Needless to say, when I learned of the title of her newest, third novel, “Maybe in Another Life,” the memories of my past came flooding to me. I often spend chunks of the day wondering what my life would have been like if I had made another choice in various situations, or if I hadn’t made a choice at all, or if I had simply spoken up verbally, rather than through bodily actions. Throughout my life, I regrettably made a lot of rash decisions seeking instant gratification or to numb myself from the situation at hand, without considering future consequences. I suppose a part of that was being young, not realizing how the actions of the present time could prove to impact me in future years to come. Often as a teenager, it’s difficult to really understand the impact of our actions. I’ll be first admit I was self-centered in much of my adolescence, often believing it was a catastrophe if I had no weekend plans, or if I wasn’t invited out with friends. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that decisions made as a 17-year-old still feel hauntingly poignant in my life, now as a 27-year-old.

Taylor Jenkins Reid New

That being said, the title, Maybe in Another Life, has lead me to contemplate and wonder, some of the many “what-if’s,” in my life, so rather than have them running rampant in my often frenzied mind, I figured I would share them and ask those of you who might reading, how you might finish this sentence, “Maybe in another life, I would have…” The other day, the author herself, Taylor Jenkins Reid, posed this question on Twitter to her followers and it stayed with me, triggering an outpouring of memories and contemplations.

My senior year photo from 2006.

My senior year photo from 2006; sharing a time when a lot of the choices I made at that time proves to still impact me, very much so, today.

“Maybe in Another Life,”….

  • I would have been a magazine editor/journalist, working in the city, interviewing different types of people, writing articles, researching, and discovering my voice as a writer.
  • I would have a great group of friends who love me for who I am, no matter my quirks, who bring out the best me, who I would meet on the weekends for a lingering brunch of excellent food and conversation and share laughs about the latest TV shows, guys we’re dating, and other events.
  • I would have been in a loving relationship with a man who makes me feel loved, cared for and appreciated. He would love me for who I am, no matter the blemishes, imperfect aspects of my personality and body and would celebrate me for the person I am and who I’ve become. He would comfort me when sad, share in my laughs and tears, and hold my hand every night as we feel asleep together. With him, there would be no self-conscious feeling, no wondering if he likes or truly loves me, no games, but only simple, wholesome love.
  • I would have been married and a mom to children; children who would grow up to be loving, well-adjusted individuals.
  • I would have been more trusting and confident in my body, respecting myself and realizing I am not my body, but a woman with thoughts, feelings, dreams and goals who tries her hardest to be supportive and encouraging to others.
  • I would have a father in my life who loves and respects me and acknowledges/validates my feelings, who doesn’t make me feel ashamed of myself or ashamed of my body. He would offer me advice and provide me with encouragement and love.
  • I would travel extensively throughout the world, seeing different cultures, learning different languages and allowing myself to relish in the beauty of the various architecture and lands.
  • I would be able to eat and enjoy anything and everything I wanted, realizing that food is something to be enjoyed and celebrated, not pushed away or manipulated. I would enjoy plentiful meals with friends and family, cooking all the recipes I’d love to and able to share in the love that is that of homemade meals.
  • Most importantly though, maybe in another life, I would be confident enough to take the risks I think about taking and allow myself to feel pain and disappointment that might come with these risks, but realize failure isn’t final and that each new day is another chance to make a change and to even start all over again. Maybe in another life, I would have the courage to start over and live the past 10 years the way I thought I always would. Maybe in another life, I would realize it really isn’t too late, because every moment alive I’m given affords me with a chance for change and a chance for happiness.

Start Over Quote

So, now that I’ve told you some of my “maybe in another life” responses, I’d love to hear what some of yours are, if you’re willing to share, which I hope you will be. Thanks for taking the time to listen today.

A Call for Inspiration

It’s been several weeks since I last posted and to be honest, my inspiration has been lacking. With a lot going on personally and emotionally, it’s been challenging to sit down and compose a blog post that not only makes sense, but is readable. That being said, I thought I would share something that recently happened to me the other night as I settled into my bed. It wasn’t anything shocking or strange, but still something I would at least consider poignant (if to no one else, for me, personally).

On Wednesday night, shortly after about 10pm or so, I made my way upstairs to my room to prepare for bed. It was as typical as it usually is, with my nighttime routine of washing my face, applying face medicine, and plugging in my cell phone to charge for the night and then settling into bed. Often, if I can, I will read the current library book I have for a short time before I feel sleep on the horizon. However, on Wednesday night, my mind felt cluttered and a need for release. Looking around my room for paper, there was nothing to be found and feeling lazy, I crept outside my room, and grabbed a small piece of printer paper, needing something to release the thoughts circulating through my mind. You might be wondering why I simply didn’t reach for my laptop (and other than it was downstairs at the time), on occasion when I become inspired to write about something truly personal to me, handwriting on a traditional, plain sheet of paper is often my best bet. Sometimes, when handwriting, I feel like I suddenly become more in control and able to designate everything I write. There is no need for backspace, spell check, or the tempting allure of the internet. It is solely the paper, pen or other writing utensil and my thoughts. It is freeing to me, in a sense.

Second Chance Quote

So with the blank sheet of printer paper on top of my comforter on my lap and my pen at hand, I began to write. Unreservedly, the words began to flow from my mind and heart. Before I knew it, the words began to form that of a poem, something that really hasn’t resulted in several years, as I felt devoid of inspiration and a muse. This particular night though, for some reason, the words released like a river from my mind, quickly filling the paper. I was suddenly filled with emotions that had been building inside of me for weeks, or even months, needing a release. It was a reminder to me of the importance of keeping sheets of paper, or a notebook by my bedside, as I previously used to do, so I could easily write whenever the inspiration happened to spark.

The next several weeks is slated to bring a host of changes and challenges to my life, which has remained fairly stagnant this past year. These changes are scary and daunting and lead me into the unknown. I suppose in a way it is comforting to know that I am in control of these choices and the choices I make are ones which can be changed, no matter if they are difficult or not. Nowadays, I try to operate under the belief and quote, “Success isn’t final and failure is not fatal.” I really do believe this to be true. In other words, the way I interpret this quote is, no matter what we have successfully achieved, there is no guarantee it will last, or if it will happen again, though at the same time, when we do not meet our expectations or do something in the way it should have been done, there is still a chance to get it right and experience triumph.

Success quote

I also spotted a quote while browsing around a store called The Fresh Market, which I took a photo of and shared it on Twitter: “Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” I love those words and find them to be true. When life gets hard, I try to remind myself of this and realize that the self-defeating thoughts and feelings in my head do not have overtake my goals and dreams.

Peace Quote

I can choose bravery and courage and so can you.

A “Sparkling” Sip!

Good Morning! A bit of time has passed since I last posted, but I’ve been keeping myself busy, trying my best to soak up the early days of summer and heal myself from the brief cold I acquired. Given the warmth and humidity lately, it’s been imperative for everyone to stay hydrated, not to mention, this time of year, I seem to crave a refreshing beverage! Thankfully, over the recent weeks, I became acquainted with a sparkling flavored water (plus other varieties!) that I absolutely love! Much to my delight, I was provided with the opportunity to sample four flavors (plus, I’ve purchased other varieties on my own!) and am here today to introduce you the beverage I’m referring to – SPARKLING ICE!

Sparkling Ice Logo

SPARKLING ICE Background Information: (via sparklingice.com)

  • Sparkling Ice was created in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1990’s.
  • The beverages of Sparkling Ice combine naturally sweetened flavored sparkling water, vitamins, antioxidants, and natural fruit juices (i.e. Vitamins D, B3, B6, B12, Biotin, B5 and Green Tea Extract)
  • The sweetener utilized in Sparkling Ice beverages is sucralose (brand name: Splenda).
  • The brand is regarded as the fastest-growing non-alcoholic beverage brand in the country!
  • Beverages are offered in a slim, easy-to-carry 17fl oz bottle and are typically offered at around $1 or slightly above in numerous stores, nationwide.
  • Zero Calories, Zero Carbs, Zero Sugar!
  • Introduced their newest product line, Sparkling Iced Teas in 2015!
  • Active Social Media Presence: Check out Sparkling Ice via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!

SPARKLING ICE Product Lines: (i.e. Flavored Sparkling Waters – 11 flavors, Sparkling Lemonades – 6 flavors, Sparkling Iced Teas – 3 flavors)

  • Flavored Sparkling Water Flavors: black raspberry, cherry limeade, strawberry-watermelon, peach-nectarine, orange-mango, coconut-pineapple, crisp apple, lemon-lime, kiwi-strawberry, pink grapefruit, pomegranate-blueberry.

Sparkling Ice

  • Sparkling Lemonades Flavors: strawberry lemonade, raspberry-lemonade, classic lemonade, peach lemonade, mango lemonade, lemonade tea.

Sparkling Ice Lemonade

  • Sparkling Iced Teas Flavors: raspberry tea, lemon tea, peach tea (21 mg of caffeine per bottle)

Sparkling Ice Tea

My Review:

As I mentioned, I was generously provided with 4 flavors of Sparkling Ice to sample and review! I was delighted when they arrived on my doorstep, given how refreshing I know them to be and eager to sample the flavors. First up on my sampling endeavor was…

  • Strawberry Lemonade Sparkling Water:

Sparkling Ice Strawberry Lemonade

My initial reaction to receiving and seeing this flavor was pure happiness and intrigue! For a number of years, I have been a dedicated fan of real strawberry lemonade, so I was overjoyed to see this flavor offered as a sparkling water, with absolutely no calories, PLUS, nourishing vitamins and sweet flavors! At first sip, I was greeted with a clean sweet flavor, lightly carbonated and bubbly, reminding me of the real strawberry lemonade with a less tart flavor. The familiar sweetness of the strawberry truly shined through and left me wanting more. I had to stop myself from enjoying the entire bottle in one sitting, wanting to savor every last bit! Definitely a winner, in my opinion!

  • Black Raspberry Sparkling Water:

Black Raspberry Sparkling Ice

Let me preface my reaction to this flavor by saying, since childhood, I’ve been a huge fan of the chewy raspberry-flavored candy, Swedish Fish, so this flavor of Sparkling Ice was right up my alley! At first sip, I was greeted with a sweet, familiar-tasting raspberry flavor, leaving me feeling as though I was enjoying my favorite chewy candy! It was both sweet and refreshing, again with the light carbonation I often crave (I confess, I am a big fan of Diet Soda, so the carbonation in Sparkling Ice is VERY appealing to me!). I like that with these sparkling waters, I am getting both the sweetness and carbonation I know and love, but in a much healthier manner (given the vitamins instilled in the beverages and the fact that it is sugar, carb and calorie-free!). Needless to say, I will definitely be enjoying this particular flavor in the near future!

  • Peach Lemonade:

Peach Lemonade Sparkling Ice

Generally, I am a big fan of lemonades, as I previously mentioned, so my expectations were high for this particular flavor and though it provided the sweetness and carbonation I like, it wasn’t my particular favorite. That said, it was still vastly palatable, but not a flavor I would first choose if given the option. Still, I was grateful for the opportunity to sample it. The peach flavor itself, though, tasted sweet and reminiscent of the actual fruit and was an ideal flavor for the summer, given it’s rampant appearance in stores and farmer’s markets throughout the country.

  • Raspberry Iced Tea Sparkling Ice:

Raspberry Iced Tea Sparkling Ice

The last flavor I was provided with was from Sparkling Ice’s newest line for 2015, Raspberry Iced Tea! I was curious and intrigued about this flavor and about the product line in general. At first sip, the flavor was unique and reminiscent of actual iced tea, but with the carbonation and sweetness Sparkling Ice is traditionally noted for. It was a light raspberry flavor that was refreshing and easy to sip on. It was a unique and different change from the traditional iced teas I’m used to and one I could definitely stand to enjoy again soon!

SPARKLING ICE Contest:

Sparkling Ice Contest

  • If you’re as into Sparkling Ice and contests as I am, then you’ll definitely want to enter the contest Sparkling Ice is currently running! Be sure to visit http://www.sparklingice.com/flavorfaceoff to register for your chance to be the face of your favorite flavor and get a year of Sparkling Ice FREE!
  • FREE BOTTLE of SPARKLING ICE: Plus, just for entering, you’ll be emailed a coupon entitling you to a completely FREE bottle of Sparkling Ice (up to a $1.50 value!). Now that is definitely something sweet to sip on!

*Thanks so much to the team at Sparkling Ice for providing me with this exciting and generous opportunity to sample the flavors! It was very much appreciated and enjoyed!