What is an eclipse season?

Eclipse seasons happen every Fall and Spring (usually! 2017’s 1st is in February), and they are grand inciters of change. What doesn’t suit you anymore will crumble away (even if you thought you wanted it), and what you need will start entering (even if you think you don’t want it). Eclipses are as change-makers that put us back on our path, ’cause man do we get distracted.

I’ve had several day-of events, but the time around the dates of the eclipses are also way in the mix. I started paying attention just a few years ago, and for me it hasn’t been more than a week for wack-a-doo out of nowhere events. But the energy of the eclipse effects the next six months, until the next one.

On the second eclipse (they come in pairs) it’s often been not so much an event as a significant change of heart and focus, or the beginning of something new and awesome— something that will be memorable in hindsight, but that day you might be like “eh.”

Eclipse seasons can be very hard, CRUNCHY, to be more specific. There’s lots of things happening not only to you, but to everyone you know—so there’s lots of people feeling all crazy-like, which is always fun. (I’m not even sure if I’m being sarcastic there… It can actually be fun too!)

Eclipse seasons aren’t hard because “bad” things happen, and they aren’t anything to be scared of. Change is good. Change creates growth. What’s the point of rereading the same old chapter? It feels good to move on. Eventually.

They have a whole lot of uncertainty about them, which can be a scary place to be in. But the thing is—you never have certainty. Sometimes it looks like it, but we all know that anything can happen. Plan for what you want and do the damn best with what you get’s kinda my M.O. on that front.

Stay chill, expect the unexpected, and remember that every new beginning comes from another beginning’s end.

eclipse-season

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What is Serendipity?

Is it like luck? Is there ice cream?

Serendipity is a magical 90’s gem of a flick that’s not to be missed. It’s also a phenomenon succinctly defined in said movie as a fortunate accident. It was coined in 1754 via a fairy tale whose heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”

Serendipity is good friends with synchronicity, but it comes with presents.

Not always things per say, but it’s a more external experience, for sure. A synchronistic moment can happen pretty internally, like you can have one and no one around will be aware; but with serendipity, there’s going to be a ‘What? That’s perfect!!’ kind of moment.

Serendipity is always synchronistic, but synchronicity isn’t always serendipitous. With serendipity, there needs to be an external “accident” of sorts—whereas synchronicity is coincidence-oriented, but you can’t have a happy accident without a coincidence. Ya hear?

To encourage serendipity I highly recommend doing whatever you want. You know, consequences are a thing, but in my experience random desires or cravings often lead to awesome serendipitous fun!

serendipity

What is Synchronicity?

Is it the same thing as a coincidence?

Synchronicity was first explained by a badass named Carl Jung, who also pioneered the widely known concept of the collective unconscious. It basically says that that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related.

Out about in life synchronicity can look like thinking about a song and then hearing it. Or it can look like forgiving someone you haven’t talked to in too long, then them calling. It can look like wanting to go to a concert, then some rando winds up paying you to go. It can look like a city coming up everywhere you look, deciding to move there, and then a best friend calling you to say she’s moving there. (Hi Greta!)

At it’s most awesome synchronicity can clarify decisions, leading to choices that feel aligned with the best version of yourself—and at it’s most random, it’s damn amusing. I have a neighbor named Bryan Adams, and I was debating contacting him to make friends a few months ago; when on my TV Pheobe from Friends suddenly starts talking about Bryan Adams. (The One with the Canadian Coincidence.)

I notice more synchronicity when I’m feeling the flow—when I’m in the groove, going with the flow, being the green reed, as it were—when I’m naturally moving towards whatever feels right to you in that particular moment. (Meditate to figure out what the heck that is!)

Rather you think they’re just coincidences or if you think that they’re a cosmic wink, synchronistic moments are definitely fun. In a world where Donald Trump can almost be president and shows like Freaks and Geeks are killed long before their time, and you know, the truly fucked up shit out there—why not enjoy a magic moment?

synchronicity

Non-wimpy sensitives, and how to be one.

I recently confronted someone and was accused of being sensitive. I denied it a little too vehemently and then pointed out that that’s a shitty thing to call someone who’s trying express that you’ve upset them. I felt like they were saying my feelings and perspective were irrelevant, due to this “sensitivity”.

This upset me due to valuing this relationship greatly, but it also upset me because having developed a much thicker skin is something that I’m proud of. I was 16 the day I decided to stop making excuses and to own my shit. A coach called me the weakest link, I cried and explained (excused), and she called me out right there in front of everyone.

I did listen that day, but I was 16. And not a super mature 16 either.

Luckily when we don’t get the message, life tends to repeat the lesson. Over the years life just kept teaching me how to not take things so personally. I went to college and majored in fine art, where each piece was evaluated by a large group critique that you have to just listen to and be chill with. That was a learning experience, to say the least…

I’ve been in marketing for the last decade, a field where people really aren’t afraid to tell it like it is. I’m a writer, (now) happy to deal with critiques from editors because that means I’m being published. I temped for a couple years, which is repeatedly starting from scratch and constantly being the new person. (Always learning. Always fucking up because you’re learning.)

For the most part, I’ve learned to take a critique effectively and I’m down with constructive criticism––which just looks like good advice when done with style.

But I am (a) sensitive.

This topic is one of those that kinda have two meanings, there’s a science-based official definition; and there’s new-agey definition that’s not at all official but is used all over, it’s part of the culture’s vernacular.

The official definition: sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), a personality trait, a high measure of which defines a highly sensitive person (HSP), has been described as having hypersensitivity to external stimuli, a greater depth of cognitive processing, and high emotional reactivity. But in the world of woo it also involves empath traits, basically being very sensitive to others’ energy and having great intuition.

Sensitives feel extremely deeply, both the good stuff and the bad stuff. We care. Immensely. Doing all of this takes a lot of energy. I’m learning to prioritize, to accept that spreading myself all over and being weaksauce with my boundaries makes me feel like poo. We’re highly affected by others. Though shielding helps worlds, I’ve learned that I’m happiest when I’m with people who make me feel understood.

Crowds can be miserable-making. Before shielding, I couldn’t go anywhere crowded without feeling like I might have a panic attack. My hands would get all sweaty, and I would feel like I was getting pulled a million directions at once, and I would then find the bar as fast as possible, haha. Watching violence is unpleasant for sensitives. Recharging is very necessary. (Sensitivity shares a lot of traits with introversion.)

Sensitives can be easily charmed. When we aren’t centered in ourselves, we tend to follow around people who are. (Dating in my 20’s, wheeeeeew!) Since we can strongly sense the energy of the person whose comfortable in their skin––it’s comforting. Especially when you don’t know about this stuff and have no clue it’s not yours.

Then they leave, taking their self-assured juju home with them, and the sensitive is left with their unprocessed emotions because they’ve been wandering around in someone else’s shit all day. Sheild up, friends!

Like many sensitives, I’m not super great at dealing with negative emotions. I spend the vast majority of my time being pretty darn happy-go-lucky, feeling all sparkly, and when negative emos come in I’m like, WTF am I supposed to do with you?! Bleeeerrrrrrg. I’m still pretty easily triggered, but I’m also dealing with a super not-fun homebound health sitch, so of course. (Learning opportunities, eh? I bet it will make it seem much easier once I’m better.)

A couple strategies for sensitives: I’m getting better at handling feeling pissed off, or frustrated, or slighted––due to a common lil’ strategy in the world of woo: if the emos are due to an interaction with someone else, or I’m in public, I take a minute and ask myself, “What am I afraid of?”, then “What would be so bad about that?”

If you ask yourself these questions, moving to the core of the issue, whilst focusing on your breath––you’ll probably find that the thing you’re afraid of really isn’t so horrible and find yourself much calmer. (And more rational.)

However, if you find yourself alone when the neg emos creep in, then I recommend leaning in. Process that shit. (If you feel ready, of course. If you’re dealing with serious trauma seek a pro.) Grab some tissues and feel those feels, find the still center of your inner tornado, let the emotions come up, and watch your thoughts with as much detachment as you can muster.

Emotions are a spectrum and properly feeling the low ends allows you to experience the really wonderful ones. We can’t numb only one end. (Goodbye pain, goodbye pleasure.) So lean in. Feel it, really feel it, but stay detached from your thoughts, remembering that they don’t define you. (Thoughts are often just a result of survival-oriented and environment created mental constructs, they aren’t “you”––you are really what watches those thoughts.)

So do it: cry, watch, cry, watch… And eventually, the emotion and thoughts will peter out. If you can manage to not hold onto the thoughts, if you don’t identify with them, let them go––the mind drops it. It starts to become a dying mental construct.

And you now feel a jillion gazillion pounds lighter, and understand yourself a bit more. Brilliant.

But I digress.

We were talking about highly sensitive homies, and how that means more than getting hurt feelings. In the world of woo, sensitivity often comes hand-in-hand with being intuitive. I’ve always been great at choosing people who I just vibe with, who are just perfect for me (in that moment), and I feel so lucky for that. I also get psychic presents from time-to-time, knowings and visions in my mind’s eye that come out of nowhere and then actually happen. So freaking cool.

But I also have some that haven’t happened, or that seemed symbolic and I haven’t figured out what they mean. And the majority of them aren’t particularly significant events, I’ll just be working, or looking out a window, or whatever––so I don’t really get the purpose there. (But it feels like magic and that’s not nothing!)

And while I pride myself on doing my best to not take things personally, staying solution-oriented, and owning my shit–I am sensitive.

And you can be both.

P.S. If you’ve wound up here researching the non-woo only definition of Highly Sensitive People, please don’t let my woo-ier opinions deter you from the science-based psychological approach.

ar-asher

Why I give compliments (and other positives) even when it’s totally random.

I have a rule: If I think something nice about someone, I tell them.

I dealt with a whole lot of insecurity when I was younger, and when these issues would really rear their heads, when I felt just pointlessly unworthy––I’d try to remember the nice things that people had said to me, or about me. The weight of their kind words was gold, and their expressed views of me made me hope that I could look at myself in a similar way. And eventually, I did.

So now when a nice thought arises about someone, I express it.

Lovely sentiment, eh? But the truth is that people often think it’s pretty weird, or they seem to anyways––that’s what I take from unanswered Facebook messages and awkward giggles. A lot of people probably think I want them, even though I’m not talking about those kind of compliments and I’ve never been shy about my crushes. If I want you, we most likely either hooked up or you rejected me. (Or, you are a fictional character. Here’s looking at you, Dale Cooper.)

I think it’s just the way we’re wired. It’s evolutionarily wise to think everyone wants you, misplaced confidence has led to many babies indeed. Plus, it’s not “normal” to reach out to someone from decades ago just to say something nice, or to send them something that made you think of them. People assume there must be another motivation, and I bet that’s a pretty easy one to jump to.

But I don’t care. It’s a fucking weird world, and I want to help make it kinder. More enjoyable. More honest. It shouldn’t be weird to say nice things to people, even when it’s random. That should be the norm. It should be considered weird to think kind words but to keep them to yourself just because you’re scared. (Of what? Thoughts?)

That IS weird. Right?

I once read about an African tribe that had a beautiful way of dealing with their criminals. When someone’s wronged another, the tribe circles around them and they share all of the beautiful things that they think about the mistake-maker. They bring up all of the good they’ve done, they point to their potential, all of their awesome, and they tell them they know that’s who they really are.

And it works.

For a culture that is so incredibly centered on extrinsic motivation and approval, we’re pretty darn stingy with our compliments. But the good thing about constantly looking to one another for approval is that if it became normal to share the kind things, we’d be lifting each other up in no time! (And no putting yourself down after receiving nice words.)

Let’s make it normal. The next time you’re warmly reminded of someone, or see something that someone you know would love, or you randomly think something nice about an acquaintance––reach out.

Have you ever had a time so difficult that you wondered if you’d make it through? Of course you have. We all have. And it’s safe to bet that the randos in your life had no idea what you were going through. What if your kind words land on someone during a time like that? What if they help someone make it to the other side of their struggle?

I lost my mother to suicide when I was 14. The people on the outer circle of her life had no idea what kind of darkness was erupting within, she was probably laughing with co-workers about nonsense just days before it happened, but I know she debated it for years. No one knew about my dark times either, about scratching at my skin until it bled because the physical pain felt better than the emotional pain. I was voted “Most Friendly” earlier that year. No one had a clue.

My point is that we have no idea what battles the people we encounter in our lives are facing. No fucking clue. So if a kind sentence or action pops into your head, why not go with it? See where it takes you. I often get silence or awkwardness, but I also often get very sincere thank yous in return, and deeper connections with delightful folks.

So why not? 

Butterfly, or Man?

I’m a lover of lucid dreaming; when you realize that you’re dreaming, and gain the ability to control your dreams.  (Tips here.)  Though I’ve gotten pretty skilled at being lucid (experiencing what I want to in the dream), the actual becoming lucid often evades me for long periods.  I wrote this piece after one of those lulls had ended:

I had THE COOOOOLEST lucid dream this morning.  I hadn’t had one in months, I’ve been trying so hard, and nothing.  I was worried.  At around 4am my downstairs neighbor started rocking out to NPR super crazy loud (as one will do), and woke me up.  It took me forever to get back to sleep, perhaps putting me into extended Theta (deep brain wave, that in-between wake and sleep), and that’s why I finally became lucid?  Dunno.

It was so very fun, lots of flying!  I flew through clouds and they felt all misty, then I dove down into water and moved the sea floor, cruised through buildings, did gymnastics, lots of telekinesis, talked to some folks, man…oh!, and the men.  Good times, good times indeed.

I woke up to my alarm and was a bit upset.  Everything was so heavy in comparison.  I quickly got ready, my head still totally in the dream. (My outfit only sorta-kinda matches…)  The bike ride to work was very 80’s Nintendo Paperboy-like, with people and cars jumping out at me everywhere, cranky morning scowls abound.  What a friggin’ juxtaposition!  Ooofta.

Have you heard of Chuang Tzu?  He was a badass Chinese Taoist, up in the ranks with Lao Tzu (who wrote the book), way back in 360-ish BC.  One night he dreamt that he was a butterfly.  He flew about and enjoyed his butterfly life, wholly identifying as this butterfly.  Rockin’ them flowers, flitting about with his purty wings.  Just owning this life, he totally loved it.

He woke up confused by this other body.  Being a butterfly had felt so real.  He was that butterfly. He had had had no awareness of being this Chuang Tzu dude, and now he suddenly there he was – this wingless human thing with no apparatus with which to swill nectar!

Or was he a butterfly, now dreaming he was a man?

What was “real”?

I think it’s all real.  (Also it’s all an illusion and nothing is “real”.)  This heavy life where I’m a Meg is equally real as the lighter life of my lucid dream where I was an often body-less point of consciousness, conjuring up awesome on a whim.  And on a level deeper than that – I’m the observer of both of those lives.

Whoa, right?  Matrix and shit, yo.

Damn Fine Turkey Sammich – The Law of Attraction

I’m (slooowly) writing a fiction project as well, this is a bit from it on The Law of Attraction – perhaps the most detested and loved of New Age thoughts.

Damn Fine Turkey Sandwich

Olivia sat in the back of the conference room, trying not to listen.  Halcyon WIT was putting on a weekend of classes about the topics they cover with their clients individually.  Sometimes she caught herself getting swept up and nearly raising her hand to ask a question.  These guys were good.  She had to remind herself repeatedly that it was all a bunch of bullshit.  If it can’t be proven, it doesn’t exist.

Her ears perked up when someone in the audience brought up a popular book that sells the idea that you can attract the life you want with your thoughts.  Prime woo-woo bullshit.  The audience member asked what Wendy and Morgan thought about this theory, and the two exchanged a glance, whilst smirking.  Finally Morgan groaned, and started:

“The Law of Attraction is real, though incredibly misunderstood due to massive oversimplification.   We can only create situations in our lives that we are at the same vibrational frequency with.  Take the issue of self-worth.  If you feel shitty about yourself, you will attract situations that will reinforce this vibration.

Perhaps you are comfortable with money, you’ve had it your whole life—you expect it to be there.  It will probably stay there.  What will reflect your vibration of low self-worth is something that you are shakier about, perhaps love?  You will attract people who don’t get you, who reinforce this opinion of worthlessness.  And flippy-floppy if you’re secure on love but shaky on money—or it could manifest in other issues entirely.

But I think I’m awesome, and my life is crap, you say?  You might reply that you are the bee’s knees if asked – but then your dominant thoughts are worrying about what people think of you, or criticizing yourself, or comparing yourself to others; feeling unworthy of whatever it is in your life that you lack, on a deep deep level.

This is not a simple subject.  Changing your vibrational frequency is not a quick solution to your cash woes and people problems.  Changing your vibrational frequency is the process of enlightenment, it’s work, and it takes time.

The jist of the Law of Attraction is feel good – attract good.  The thing is though, can people really go from feeling crappy about themselves to feeling confident and loving just like that—because they now know it will help other situations?  And don’t we know that already?  Isn’t that why therapists have jobs?

Also, shit happens.  You could be vibrating on the highest levels possible and people you love will still die.  Natural disasters will still happen.  You will still grow out of, and therefore lose, situations you thought you wanted.  You will have a much easier time handling all of these things, for sure, but they will still happen.  If nothing ‘bad’ ever happened life wouldn’t ever change, and we would never grow.  Shit needs to happen, it’s actually a ‘good’ thing.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to learn to how to be satisfied with whatever situation you are in.  Appreciate the present for what it’s teaching you, be an active student of life.  When you engage life in this way, you’re in a state of allowing, and drawing your desires closer.  While you can’t always attract everything that you want, you can absolutely block things that you want from coming into your life.  Gratitude is the attitude.

I also recommend that you play with attracting small things!  I used to have a client with all kinds of money woes.  She grew up poor and had a financial lack mentality just burned into her psyche, and tied into her self-worth.  I could tell it was going to take a long while for her to work out all of the different areas that were affected by it.  I told her to try attracting small things in the mean time, things that she didn’t have such an attachment to—and she was great at it!  She’s got all kinds of great stories, but I think my favorite of hers was a story about going to a concert.

She really wanted to go to a Flaming Lips concert, but couldn’t afford it, as usual.  She was listening to the band as she worked the day before the concert and suddenly sent out a request, ‘Hey Universe, if it’s in my highest and best interest, I’d love it if you could send me to the Flaming Lips concert tomorrow.  Thank you!!’, she imagined being there for a few moments, and then she went on her merry way—that last bit is key.

That night she had an urge to go to a pub that she had never been to before, so she went, and met someone who knew someone that was desperate for posters from the concert.  She wound up being paid $200 to go to the concert, as well as being given tickets for herself and a friend!

So, long story short, it is real.  It is also not as simple as it is often presented.  Cultivate gratitude.  Release attachment to your desires.  Start small, it’s lots of fun.”

The woman looked disappointed, but also a bit bemused—like something had clicked for her.

Olivia thought to herself, “Fuck it.  Hey Universe, I’d really like a turkey sandwich.”

A couple hours later the seminar wrapped up.  Wendy came up and thanked her, then let her know that there was complimentary catering in the back for those who had rented spaces in the hall that day.

It was a damn fine turkey sandwich, but she still wasn’t sold…

Forgiveness, heads and gross eyeballs attached.

When you have hard times, and you will, your relationships will be tested.  Whether it’s an internal angst, or an external set of circumstances, at some point you will have a shitty time.  When this shitty time occurs there are those who will disparagingly judge you for it, we often call them fairweather friends.

One morning on the MAX train I found myself daydreaming about getting even with one of these people.  I’m devout to my meditation practice, and I am generally keenly aware of my thoughts. Revenge fantasies are not normal for me.

Maybe it was because I was hungover that day, something I hadn’t experienced in months, or because I was due for my Depo-Provera hormone shot, but I found myself in a reverie about warning a fairweather person’s fiance of her nasty nature and then telling her to go fuck herself.

(Why suggesting someone go masturbate is so satisfying, I do not know.  Perhaps because it’s saying someone isn’t worthy of another’s affection?  Or because it’s something deemed shameful in our repressed society?  Or perhaps the reason isn’t so deep, and it’s just the hard consonant ending with the flowing ‘fff’ sound?  Go fuck yourself.  It really is satisfying to say…almost as great as indubitably.  I’ve only ever actually exclaimed it once, a jillion years ago, and I admit, it was wildly satisfying indeed.  But, I digress.)

I snapped out of it, a bit shocked at where my mind had wandered, and recalled the only time my vengeful Scorpionic side had been truly revealed.  It was a over a decade ago, my Junior year in college.  A dude had chased me for months, charming me, asking me out, pursuing me relentlessly.  Even in my shenanigan-filled college

Even in my shenanigan-filled college days my intuition was pretty sharp, and I didn’t trust him.  There was no reason for it, I just felt in my gut that he was up to no good.  He eventually wore me down, and we spent an unsatisfying few minutes together, after which he never returned my call.

I was pissed.  Back then I was totally hot hotty hot, I had stalkers for Christ’s sake, and this dude gets me, then doesn’t call me back?!  It was the first time I felt really and truly burnnned.  I stewed in my anger whilst watching the movie Grumpy Old Men on basic cable.  I was judging the characters for wasting so much time spiting each other when judgment turned to inspiration.

I had been invited to a kegger at the dude’s house by his roommate, and suddenly decided I should attend...with Grumpy Old Men inspired supplies.  I called a couple best buddies who went to the grocery store with me, where I purchased several fish.  (Heads and gross eyeballs attached.)  I remember my dear friend E saying, “Meg, this is a disturbing side of you, but damn if it isn’t entertaining”.

We went to the kegger, where I pretended like I wasn’t mad.  After some friendly chitchat I excused myself to the restroom, which was just outside of the jerk’s room.  Inside it I found a clothes hamper.  I emptied out half of the clothes, placed the fish inside (heads and gross eyeballs attached), and replaced the clothes.  I exited, signaled my accomplices, and we bailed the party, laughing all the way home.

The jerk moved away, and I wound up making good friends with his roommates.  About a year after my revenge, one of the roomies told me a devastating story about how someone had ruined his best suit by placing several fish (heads and gross eyeballs attached) in his hamper.  My revenge had struck the wrong person!!

I turned beet red, cried a little, and apologized profusely.  He wouldn’t let me pay him back for the ruined duds, and he forgave me immediately. Ooooohwie, did that hurt!  I remember wishing that he would have told me off like I deserved.  I still feel awful about it, and haven’t attempted revenge since.  I learned my lesson.

So, those few who dismissed me during some of the hardest times of my life (dark night of the soul), will not be the butt of a cruel prank parlayed clumsily by myself (heads and gross eyeballs attached), nor a diatribe of their perceived faults, nor any euphonious sneers. Of course, as I learned with my wayward fish prank, kindness really is the best revenge.

The compassionate act of forgiveness doesn’t mean allowing oneself to be mistreated, but simply acknowledges the harmful actions, and releases emotional attachment to them.  It’s wise to forgive, not so the transgressor heals, but so we heal.  Holding on to resentment to hurt someone else is as useful as holding onto a grenade for the same reasons.  It’s only going to hurt you.

It’s empowering to let go, and an apology isn’t necessary to move to forgiveness.  We can release ourselves whenever we choose.  Why not now?

Enlightenment is a destructive process.

I came across a photo meme the other day with this quote by Adyashanti:

“Make no mistake about it – enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of… untruth. It’s seeing through the façade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”

I’d like to add my own perspective…

The path of enlightenment (which never ends) has everything to do with becoming better and/or happier!  It also involves an extremely uncomfortable process that will totally ruin the perspectives you’ve spent your whole life creating (paradoxes are big in spirituality).

The crumbling away of paradigms that no longer serve us can be painful, for sure.  However, it is necessary to clear the old before creating the new –  you wouldn’t want to build a shiny new building on a crappy old foundation, would you?

Destruction is essential to creation.

After the dust settles, you have a new set of tools with which to handle life’s obstacles and challenges.  You have access to internal wisdom that will always point you in the right direction.  Relationships become honest, your mind becomes clear, and the inherent worth of yourself and others becomes apparent.  You do become better.

After the dust settles, you are left with a profound feeling of possibility, freedom, and expansiveness.  Personally, I don’t think I even knew true happiness before undergoing this process.  I knew it in beautiful fleeting moments, sure.  However, I had no idea that it was just chillin’ in the background the whole time – constant access to sheer joy!  You do become happier.

It feels like you’ve been let in on the cosmic joke.  It’s freakin’ awesome.  Don’t let a little destruction deter you, but do be aware that it’s part of the process.

The juice is totally worth the squeeze.