Creating My Bitmoji

As mentioned in my Final Project post regarding Snapchat from yesterday, part of my exploration of this app included creating my very first Bitmoji.

Please take a look at the video below to watch my journey!


What do you think of your Bitmoji? Is it a realistic representation of what you look like?



Snapchat: My Attraction to Distraction


The fourth and final app that is part of my final project, My Journey in Technology, is the one and only Snapchat. Although I have had this app for at least a year, I wanted to review this app as part of my project to find out a little bit more about the ins and outs of the application, and to take an opportunity to step away from the more serious side of reviewing applications, and have a little fun with the project.

Initially, I had considered the option of using Snapchat in my role as an administrator, and then decided against it for a myriad of reasons. First of all, although I already have quite a few of my staff on Snapchat, I didn’t want the sense of low stress, high hilarity I find on Snapchat with my colleagues to end. Second of all, I didn’t really want to be using Snapchat on a daily basis in front of my students the same way that I use Evernote, Twitter, and Remind. Personal preference was to review this app for fun, so that’s what I did.

Here is what I knew about the app going into the project:

  1. I knew, obviously, that the purpose of the app was to send pictures to one another that would eventually disappear.
  2. I knew how to change my story, how to view other people’s stories, and at the time, how to browse through other stories/information mostly on Buzzfeed.
  3. I knew that filters on Snapchat existed, but the only ones that would ever work for me were the black and white filter, the time filter, and the battery filter.
  4. When we first started the course, I knew what a Bitmoji was, but I didn’t have one or have any interest in making one.
  5. I knew that pretty much everyone around me knew more about Snapchat than me.

In the past three months, many things have changed on the app from when I first started using it including:

  1. The interface itself is different. When I first started using the app, stories looked different, and “discover” didn’t exist to the extent that it does today.
  2. One can now record longer video clips at a time to send to friends.
  3. Not only do Bitmoji’s flood my friends list, but the characters themselves have the ability to move, dance, and convey emotion on top of a photo that a friend has taken.

The biggest “aha” moments that I’ve had about the app have really changed the way that I feel about Snapchat and the way that I utilize the app in my personal life.

  1. The proper term for Snapchat streaks, according to the video posted below is “gamification”.  In my research into what Gamification actually is, I began to be quite critical about the idea of streaks. According to, “Gamification is the application of game elements and digital game design techniques to non-game problems, such as business and social impact challenges.” This explains why the act of “streaking” with a friend becomes so highly addictive.
  2. Snap Maps can do incredible things.  I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical about the idea of people, especially young people, being tracked using Snapmaps, but I’ve really come to appreciate the feature after reading about and experiencing different ways that the ability to share location has helped people. There are numerous stories about how Snapchat was able to save lives during Hurricane Irma, and similar other natural disasters.
  3. It is possible to save chats without screenshotting them. This feature is very convenient for me as I am part of a few group chats which I tend to open at the most inconvenient times. Even more important, is the fact that you can then delete the saved chats using the same method of holding the text down until “saved” or “unsaved” appear.
  4. Different interactive filters are constantly being added to Snapchat, and some of them, by businesses in order to attract business. 

Amidst my journey navigating through using the app more frequently in order to gain a better understanding of it, I’ve realized that there are three particular aspects of the app that don’t sit well with me no matter how engaged I become in using Snapchat. They include:

  1. The ridiculousness of public stories in the Discover section. For example, here’s what my Discover looks like tonight:

snapchat discover

My biggest problem with this feature is that, while watching the video “Snapchat Parent Guide” the host explains the purpose of public stories, saying that “companies…post to keep people up to date on whats going on and this is what students say that they like it the most because they can see what’s happening in the world and this, essentially is their news feed.” If this is what students, or anyone for that matter, sees and considers important in terms of what is happening in the world, I worry.

2. The step away from authentic, original, flawed photo sharing that used to exist with the use of Snapchat. With the addition of new filters daily, the amount of edited snaps that I receive in a day continues to multiply. And, I’m not talking about the hilarious filters like this:

snapface 3.png

I’m talking about the filters that actually change the way that we look in order to make us look more perfect, less flawless, and increasingly fake. Take a look at this example:


You’ll note that my freckles, oily skin, and fuzzy eyebrow in the original, and a smaller neck, clearer skin, and nearly perfect eyebrows in the filtered image. For the sake of impressionable youth around the world, I really wish that filters that make the “real” us look worse than the filtered “us” would be removed. While there is nothing wrong with having fun with filters, I think that individuals find enough ways to compare themselves to others and feel feelings of low self confidence, and in my opinion, filters are supposed to be for enjoyment, not criticism.

With that being said, I do still really enjoy using the app. As I stated in an earlier post, when I began this last semester, I gave up Facebook as a means of wasting less time in my life. Since doing so, it’s been difficult to keep up the lives of my closest friends and family members, and Snapchat has allowed me to still get a taste of what is going on in the lives of those around me. I’ve realized over the last three months that my top 5 uses for Snapchat include:

  1. Groupchatting with my friends who don’t have iPhones. My closest group of girl friends consists of three women with iPhones, and one without which makes group messaging quite difficult. Snapchat allows me to communicate with all of them together in the same message.
  2. Sending ridiculous photos, throwbacks, or important information via picture to my brothers.
  3. Keeping up with what is going on with my niece and younger cousins. Updates on growth and development, scores of hockey games, and important milestones are definitely a highlight of my Snapchat use.
  4. Taking screenshots of my own snaps. I know that this sounds ridiculous, and I know that the Memories feature on Snapchat now allows for the same opportunity, but I like being able to look back on my snaps and know the purpose, the excitement, or the feeling behind why I sent something.  When looking through my screenshots in preparation for this post, images that illuminate how this aspect has been one of my favorites included images of my niece a year ago, a month before her first birthday, images of our yard last April 4th when we cut grass for the first time of the year, and images like this:

dogs.png5. Snapchat is my quick distraction. The fact that the purpose of the application is to send a quick photo with a short description allows for a quick brain break then I’m right back to being a full time employee and student!

Along the way, I’ve come across some videos that I think are worth sharing with parents, or watching oneself if Snapchat is something you are new to, something you want to know more about, or something you want to utilize to its full capacity. The top 5 videos I’ve found useful during this journey are:

  1. How to Use Snapchat. Even though the “I got my eye on you” caption pains me as an English teacher, this is a quick introduction to how to use the app in the most basic form.


2. Snapchat App Guide for Parents 2017.  For any parents who don’t have the app themselves or who may be questioning their children having the app, this video gives a basic commentary on the features of Snapchat and the main reasons youth may be so interested in engaging in using it.

3. How to Navigate Snapchat’s New Design was a tool I used myself in order to understand how to use some of the new features that I wasn’t necessarily comfortable experimenting with.

4. How Snapchat Will Transform Workplace Communication Skills. Although, as stated earlier, I haven’t been using this app in my profession, I was persuaded of the power of Snapchat in the workplace after watching this video.  With that being said, I think that my use of Remind, and my staff’s use of SeeSaw can certainly do the things that Jenkins mentions in the video. However, I was quite interested in the notion that the younger generation’s sense of urgency lends itself well to Snapchat being used as a means of communication at work.

5. How a Handful of Tech Companies Control Billions of Minds Everyday. Tristan Harris’ articulation of attention grabbing tactics used by social media sites allowed for an analysis of my own personal use of Snapchat. The “race for attention” that Harris talks about in the video is shown through gamification, as mentioned above. In addition, gamification is also illuminated through his explanation of how, for those who engage in Snapchat streaks, Snapchat “gave two people something they don’t want to lose…Think of the little blocks of time that schedules in kids minds.” For me, these blocks of time scheduled in my mind are when I wake up, when I have a few free seconds, and are far more frequent on weekends when I am curious to see what those around me are engaging in for entertainment. This TedTalk is definitely worth viewing when analyzing the power of social media and the mind.

My next steps in the analysis of this app for personal use include two aspects. 1) To delve into the Terms of Use, just as with the other three apps I am reviewing and 2) To finally take the plunge and create my own Bitmoji (fundamentally going against everything I have previously stood for on Snapchat).

We can’t grow if we don’t step outside of our comfort zones, can we?

Remind Me to Tell You My Biggest Regret with Remind


Remind, formerly known to many of us as Remind 101 is an app that I have known about for years, and only started using diligently this school year. When the opportunity to delve a little deeper into the aspects of this app that I wouldn’t even think of arose in this course, I knew that I had to choose this app to review. Thus, Remind is the 3rd of the 4 apps I chose for my final project.

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Remind, most simply explained, is an app that reminds us that “School communication shouldn’t be so hard” and is one that has really, truly, has made communication as an administrator a lot easier these past few months. It allows for safe and secure delivery of short messages between an individual and another individual, or an individual and another group of individuals. In all cases, participants can message each other, or the full group, back and forth.

Initially, I had been using the app in my classroom before this class began to keep in touch with grades 11 and 12 students in my English classes. It offered a great way for me to be able to use the tool to send out group messages and instructions when I was away from class, a great way to remind students about deadlines and due dates, and a great way to message individual students if I needed to discuss something with them. Students responded well to the roll out of the app in my classroom, as they had actually used it for football, and for other classes with myself and other teachers as long as five years ago.

remind photo

It wasn’t until 8 weeks ago that I began using the app with my staff. Many of them had not heard of the app, but after the first few uses, it has become one of the most common ways that my staff members and I communicate. Especially in times of emergency.

So far, the top five things that I love about using this app as an administrator are as follows:

  • Remind only allows message sharing of 140 characters in each message as creators explain, “A standard SMS message is limited to 160 characters by cell phone carriers, and we use 20 of those characters to let people know who the message is from” ( The brief nature of the app allows me to cut to the chase, inform others of what I need to say, and get my point across clearly.
  • Office hour scheduling. The “Office Hours” feature of this app reminds students and staff when they send a message to me during an odd time that I may not respond right away. In the digital world we live in, it’s easy to forget that sometimes people may be away from their devices when we need to communicate with them.
  • Scheduled announcements. By far, my favorite feature is the scheduled announcements feature of this app. I am a bit of a worry wart when it comes to passing on reminders. When I was away in Cuba for the few days after February break, it was fantastic to be able to schedule a message to my staff about particular fundraiser reminder, or just a nice welcome back message after a week away since I wouldn’t be there in person on Monday.

remind photo 2

  • Users can receive messages either via text, or through the actual app. For those who may be less technologically inclined, the fact that the app is accessible to all makes communicating a lot easier.
  • Interactive responses. The thumbs up app is hands down the most efficient way of me knowing if a staff member has read and understand what I have sent. Especially when the message is of an urgent nature. No need to text a response, no reply email needed. A simple thumbs up means that I have communicated what I need to in an clear and effective manner.

I’ve just recently learned that there is a way of linking Remind to different aspects of teaching, such as Quizlet and Google Classroom which is the next feature of the app that I will delve into.


Before starting this project, I definitely underestimated the power of the app and what it could do for me as an administrator who is trying to stay on top of communicating things with my staff. Weeks like the one we just had, where circumstances beyond our control call for emergency communication between colleagues, the Remind app is a fast, easy, and secure way of communicating with others.


Stay tuned for my next few posts about the Terms and Conditions of the app, and the integration of other Apps into Remind!

Oh, I almost forgot!


My only regret about the Remind app is that I didn’t start using it as an administrator earlier. The trees I’ve killed and the lengthy emails I’ve sent can certainly attest to this…

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know…

You don’t know what you don’t know. 

This is a quote that one of my colleagues has been known for when describing situations where complex tasks, difficult conversations, or even new experiences come into play. A human beings, it rings true. We cannot know what we do not know. Take, for example, a child who places their hand on a hot stove resulting in a mild burn. This child, without knowledge that a stove may be hot and dangerous, cannot be considered at fault for hurting his or herself. Without an understanding that a stove may be dangerous, we could not expect the child to be able to protect themselves from harm.

I promise I’m not here to talk about stoves. This example is an important one to consider, though, because when we think of the notion that we don’t know what we don’t know, the opposite also remains true. We do know what we do know, and we can’t un-see what has already been seen. As much as we as human beings would like to pretend that we are able to forget certain images, or un-know particular pieces of information, it is human nature that once we have been exposed to a particular piece of information, it remains in either our conscious, or subconscious minds.

So, what does this have to do with EdTech? Well, after last night’s interview with Patrick Maze and the discussion we had as a class concerning appropriate and inappropriate teacher behavior (in the eyes of society) and the idea of having parents/students on social media, the whole notion of “You can’t un-see what you’ve already seen” becomes relevant.

It was clear in our class discussion that many teachers feel as though it is unfair that their personal/professional lives, when documented on camera, have to spill into one another. We heard a lot of information last night about the popular cases of Ashley Payne and Chrystie Fitchner’s careers being halted due to inappropriate images being shared on social media that did not depict these women as the professionals their communities expected them to be. Though very different cases, both of these illustrate the notion that “You can’t un-see what you’ve already seen”.

Article 6.2.3 of the STF Code of Professional Ethics binds teachers “To act in a manner that respects the collective interests of the profession”. Sometimes, what people “see” through things like social media photos, images that capture a single second in time, does not always reflect the type of respect and collective interest focus that we are bound to. However, in the same breath, we as educators have become privy to risks due to photo sharing that teachers before our time didn’t experience, and didn’t have to worry half as much about as we do in 2018.

I’ve seen a few people post the THINK image shown below, but as a teacher, I feel like the letters mean a little bit more than what is expressed here. In terms of “Truth” maybe we need to think about this: Is what I am posting a true representation of the me I want people to see?  “H”- Can this hurt your reputation? “I”- Is this what you want your parents and students to see you as? “N”- Is this image, text, message, or post non-threatening to the image you want to portray? “K” ‘ What will people who see this “know” about you that they will not be able to un-know later on?


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So, who is right in this situation? Should teachers be able to share images of themselves indulging in a beverage? What if, like discussed in class last night, we have no idea that the image has been taken of us and is then shared on social media? Or, is the problem that teachers’ privacy is being infringed upon?

I don’t have the answer. While I do know that as teachers, we do commit to adhering to a Code of Conduct that may be a little bit more extensive than other professions. But, I also do know that we, as adults, should understand the notion: You can’t un-see what you’ve already seen. And neither can our students’ parents. While I can’t say that I agree that an individual who had an image shared without their knowledge should be penalized the same way as an individual who shared it themselves, I can’t say that I actually know that this has ever even happened. Are we sometimes jumping to conclusions and worrying too much as professionals that our own STF will not support us?  The problem, here, is that we don’t know what we don’t know. Having never experienced something like this, many of us are uncertain of how particular cases will be dealt with being that we only have information about publicized cases to stem from when making our own judgement.

What I do know is this: It’s 2018 and the world has changed a lot from when we were in school. I didn’t have access to my teachers’ personal lives at the touch of my fingertips. In fact, I can remember seeing one of my teachers in the grocery store with her boyfriend and feeling guilt and shame that I had somehow infringed on her personal life. Should I have seen her out and about in her street clothes? Times have changed. With that being said, as teachers, we need to be aware of this change. Digital citizenship for teachers and other professionals means having a keen understanding that what is seen about us online cannot be unseen. What is known, cannot be unknown. If we choose to share personal information about ourselves, or photos that may be deemed controversial, we have to be receptive to the fact that for many people, perception is reality.

While a picture is worth a thousand words, is it worth sacrificing your professionalism? Should it have the power to? What does your digital footprint say about you?

digital footprint

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Evernote for Organization


My life is crazy. Between juggling meetings for work, assignments due in my two classes, and extra curricular programming, I forget things often if I do not write them down. When I began browsing through the different types of apps I wanted to review for this course, I knew that I wanted to choose one that would allow me to work smarter, not harder.

Asana was a little bit too formal and complicated for what I needed it for and focused too much on team projects rather than individual organization. Producteev looked a bit too daunting. Evernote looked like it would be simple and a perfect fit for what I needed it for. What I initially found out was useful for me was the ability to talk into Evernote to record notes about things that I had to remember but didn’t want to take the time to type out on my phone.

The ability to set reminders was also another asset of this app. Like an alarm clock, Evernote allows you to set a time and date and reminder for events, assignments, etc. that you may have coming up. The video below is a perfect example of how this app was extremely useful in reaching the goal of keeping me organized:

I am a list maker for everything that I do. I feel extremely accomplished when something has been crossed off of my list. I often think that there is nothing more satisfying than completing a list of tasks that I needed to. The problem with written lists is that if you leave them somewhere, your productivity decreases significantly. One of the best features of using Evernote is my ability to make checklists on my phone or on my computer and have them sync to one another. This way, forgetting something is nearly impossible.

Although making lists is quite easy using the app, it wasn’t until I watched this video that I even knew that checklists were an option:


Taking a look at the Security, Terms and Conditions, and Privacy associated with this app, I was really astounded at just how much thought had to go in to creating these guidelines for an app that I, personally, would never have been worried about sharing my personal information. The fact that “Evernote offers two-step verification (“2SV”), also known as two-factor or multi-factor authentication, for all accounts” actually made me chuckle when I thought of why someone would want to hack into my to-do lists, reminders, and general boring notes (Evernote Security Overview). Nonetheless, I found this attribute very responsible of the company to consider as I am sure other individuals out there are using this app in more intense ways than I currently am.

Other interesting things that I found out about Evernote during my perusal of the Security Features was that data is stored until you yourself delete it, activity is logged and uploaded to the cloud, and that “all Evernote Data resides in the United States” (Evernote Security Overview).

With the basic version of this app, users are able to do exactly what I intended to do with it- stay organized on a basic level. However, this application also comes in  “Plus” and “Premium” versions. For $47/year, the Plus version of Evernote allows users additional tools in order to stay organized. Differences between the versions can be found below:


evernote differences

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At this point, for what I am using this app for, basic is enough. However, I can see myself paying for something like a premium version in the future if I were to be involved live chat options or more presentations than I currently am as it would be extremely easy to have all of my data and information organized in one place.

Is anyone else using this app for organization?


My Tech Journey- TouchCast

touchcastI downloaded this App mid January in hopes that I would be able to use it for my first assignment in this course, my Vlog. Upon downloading it I was confused, frustrated, and annoyed at the fact that the app itself, TouchCast, was not all that was needed to support production of video using this application.

The main application, TouchCast was the first of 3 apps that I downloaded as part of my attempt to utilize this for my assignment. I quickly realized through navigating this application that this version itself was not what I actually needed in order to create a video. The video tutorials that accompany the app which can be found on the Touchcast website or on Youtube were not helpful in the sense that what they were showing me on their screen and what I had access to on my app were completely different.  I then realized that maybe I didn’t have the correct app downloaded, so I downloaded the TC Ext Cam app, hoping that I would be able to use this in conjunction with the TouchCast app to actually get something done.

touchcast ext cam

No luck. It turns out that both of these apps on my cell phone would not produce a video at all. I had to download the TouchCast studio app, which could only be downloaded on my iPad. After several hours of downloading and attempting to make something, anything, with this app, I went back to the website to see if there were any tips that I could take from the site itself.

touchcast good app

The one quote on their website, “You can create a broadcast-quality video in less than the time it takes to make a cup of tea. How smart is that?” was quite the opposite of the experience I was having. Here is my initial reaction to my experience:

Needless to say, I gave up on trying to use TouchCast at all this day, and turned to My Simple Slideshow in order to try to utilize this app for my first Vlog assignment in this course.

There is so much potential for an app like this. Browsing through all of the tutorial videos, use of something like this was extremely appealing to me. I envisioned myself using this with my students in a course like ELA when students could be asked to report on something specific, or even using it in a larger context of having a group of students report to the student body on a Friday afternoon regarding exciting events that had happened during the week. I was not ready to give up on the application yet.

One aspect of TouchCast that I found appealing was their Social Mission statement. Part of which explained that, “Young people today are drawn to the world of online broadcasting and wish to communicate through video with their local and global community. By supporting their natural communication habits, we are helping to create an environment in which they learn by doing”. An application like this certainly supports Ribble’s notion that students having creative freedom to express themselves online is important. I really liked that TouchCast supported this idea.

After reading this, I spent some extensive time in the next week going through the Educator’s Guide for the application. I found it extremely interesting how the guide spoke language that I could understand. TouchCast boasts the fact that they support 21st Century learners, they make reference to the “flipped classroom” approach that so many of us strive to offer our students, and value the importance of teaching students digital literacies. The Educator’s Guide gives specific examples of how TouchCast can be used different subject areas including Science and History, which I really appreciated as sometimes these two classes can be seen as courses where the use of technology may not be as prominent as in something like Art or ELA.

What I liked best was the step by step “how to” guide for teachers who want to try to use TouchCast. As soon as I saw this, I was willing to try to give the app another go. However, as you will see in my vlog below, I still was not successful:

I am going to try to utilize the app again before my project is complete and I am also planning on going a bit more into depth into the Terms and Conditions associated with this app as I remember reading how it is the responsibility of the user to keep up to date with the terms as they may change periodically. Despite how I am finding it to be extremely frustrating and not user friendly at all, I am willing to give it another go before this project is complete!




Who I Am Today Isn’t Who I Was, And Isn’t Who I’ll Be…

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If someone were to ask you the three traits that define you as a human being, what would your response be? It’s a loaded question, isn’t it? Do you mean, what defines me as a teacher? As a sister? As a wife? Or, all around? While the true definition of what makes us, “us” is certainly complex, for those of us who grew up in a time where social media was absent, our “identity” was seen as something seemingly less complex and assumptive and as something that was a whole lot more private.


Everyone can remember the excitement of visiting one of your friend’s houses for the first time. Particularly, getting to see what types of toys they played with, what color their room was painted, and what posters they chose to hang on the wall. I remember thinking that I could tell a lot about my friends’ siblings by walking by their bedrooms and seeing what was hanging on their walls or the type of music that could be heard blaring behind their door. Then, how we chose to express ourselves was in the comfort of our own homes, or through the accessories we would wear out in public. What our friends saw in the comfort of our own homes helped reveal our true aspirations, hobbies, and style. Oh, how the times have changed.


I’ve reiterated Sklar’s comments in previous posts and in my initial vlog for this class as well, but I’ll say it again: Digital Identity is the new identity. And, as Kelsie and Krista’s vlog this week reminds us, “students have continuous access to technology” which means that their identity is constantly being expressed in the things that they do, say, like, tweet, and share online. As Amy and Anne shared in their reading  related to their assignment this week, “Outside school, children are engaging with these media, not as technologies but as cultural forms” (Buckingham, p. 22). The way that we express our own personal identity has evolved into an acceptable cultural norm that we can’t turn off. We are no longer required to attend the private spaces of our peers in order to get a sense of who they really are.

While I certainly admire the advancement of information sharing and access to continued connection with friends and colleagues all over the world, who we “are” online can sometimes cause overly assumptive and dangerous thoughts about us, even if accidentally. Because our identities are revealed through games we play, the things we “like” and the apps we use, it is far more plausible that those who view a particular “moment” or image of us may jump to conclusions about us far faster than they would have ten years ago.

With such easy access to technology, it’s almost effortless to be able to take a new photo, put up a new status, or tweet out a new idea, putting these pieces of our identity higher on the viewing list (literally) than our previous expression of identity which could have been shared with the world mere seconds before. If I compare this to my earlier notion of expression of self in relation to the bedroom décor analogy, this would be like inviting a friend over to our house, showing them the poster on our wall in our room, then changing it right in front of them. Our sense of identity seems less permanent today, even though in reality, what we share is actually more permanent online than it was offline.



This class has helped me reflect on the importance of my digital identity and the power of digital identity as an educator and an administrator. Wendy said it perfectly in her vlog for this week when she said, “we need to as educators, engage with digital technology the same way our students are already doing.” I can’t possibly teach about digital identity if I don’t take the time to engage in creating a positive digital presence for myself. When I think of the future of my own digital identity, I know that the climate I create with my online presence will only be as influential as I allow it to be.

When I think of the future of our students’ digital identities, it really reiterates what we’ve discussed in regards to digital citizenship and the importance of teaching students how and what to express about themselves in regards to their digital identities. With the fast-paced nature of technology, the constant uploading, retweeting, snap story changing culture we live in today, there is a definite pressure for individuals to continue to update their identity. Who we are now is not who we were in yesterday’s story. While this notion is certainly true to an extent, I do believe that this added pressure to divulge, update, and transform our digital identity can put stress on youth unlike the type of stress that most of us felt growing up without social media.

I know we can’t go back to that time, and frankly, I wouldn’t want to. But, there has to be a way that we can slow things down a little bit and remind those around us that it’s okay to continue to create who we want to be as individuals even when others aren’t watching and that it’s okay to just be.