Archive of ‘Life’ category

Sometimes You Need a Do-Over

My 8-year-old has been wanting her ears pierced for two years. When we stop at Claire’s in the mall, she admires the pierced earrings, longing for the day she can wear them.

That day finally came this past February. She got brave for a moment. She found the courage to endure the pain of ear piercing. Also, she was lured by a pair of sparkly teal dangle earrings.

Two days before the 6th week mark, when her earrings could be changed out, one of her ears became infected. She had to remove the piercing. Four weeks later the one remaining earring needed to be removed to clean the backing. She refused to put it back in her ear. It was too painful.

She thought she was ready for the responsibility of pierced ears. All her friends have pierced ears, after all. Having pierced ears looked like fun. And, they are pretty.

Sometimes you need a do -over.

We all do things because “everybody is doing it”, it looks like fun, or we do it because we think we are ready and we jump before we think it all the way through. And sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know about the situation. Then, that decision becomes a big fat mistake.

Do-over time.

tips for a do-over

Background image source: Death To Stock

Things happen that we never could have anticipated and we just need to pull the plug and start over. We need a do-over.

There is no shame is a do-over. It’s an opportunity for a clean slate. It’s an opportunity to exercise the lessons we learned from the previous mistakes. And, hopefully we don’t make the same mistakes twice.

Sometimes you make horrible choices, you hit ‘rock bottom’, life is kicking you in the butt, and you have no choice but to do a do-over. Who couldn’t use a good do-over at one time or another?

When life is kicking you in the butt it is helpful to remember for a few things:

  • Hard things happens, but suffering is optional. We are not promised an easy, carefree life. Bad, sad, or scary things will happen. How you react to it is your choice. Choose not to suffer through life.
  • Ask for help. No one can do it alone.
  • Talk about your mistakes. Talk about it with a trusted friend, family member, health professional, whatever. Admitting you made a mistake is the first step in making it better.
  • Give it some thought. Take time to think about what changes you really want to make in your life. Then…
  • Make a plan. Write down your plan for your do-over, and stick to it.
  • Baby Steps. Change takes time. Do one thing, then move on to the next. Don’t try to tackle your list all at once.
  • Let the past go. You can’t move on to the next chapter of your life if you keep reading the last chapter.
  • Focus on what gives you joy. Take time to do more of what makes you happy. Spend time with those who you love. Reconnect with joy in your life.
  • Break old habits, make new ones. Break your old, destructive habits that lead to you needing a do-over. Replace them with new, positive habits.
  • Practice saying “no”. Say “no” to the things that are holding you back in reaching your goals.
  • Say “yes” more often. Say “yes” to the things that scare you, the ones that will get you back on track.
  • Stop trying to make everything perfect. Perfect is an illusion perpetrated by society. It’s unrealistic and leaves no room for change.
  • Remember it’s only a moment, not a lifetime. This rough patch in life is short. Make changes to make things better, and it will get better. Usually not over night, but over time it will get better.
  • Have faith everyday. You don’t need to do this life alone. He is always walking with you in your time of need. Pray, talk to Him, unload your fears and ask for guidance.

So, do you need a do-over? Go. Do it. Wake up and be awesome. Make your own rules.

5 Bible Verses for When Life Gets Complicated

Lately, I have felt that life is really, really complicated. That mostly centers around juggling bills, healthcare paperwork, family obligations, work, family stress, car repairs, so, basically life in general. I’ve wondered why can’t life just be simple?

life is simple quote

I half-jokingly tell my husband that we should just sell everything and move to a tropical island. We could spend our days selling trinkets and seashells to tourists, and nights walking on the beach. We’d live the island life, slow and easy. In my head, that sounds wonderfully simple.

But, we can’t do that. Just check out. Although it’s tempting. Really tempting.

What do I do when I want to quit this and move to a tropical island in the middle of nowhere?

I open my Bible for comfort. I admit I haven’t been doing a lot of that lately. It’s an old habit of trying to do it my way, or the world’s way, instead of His way. It’s an old habit to break.

As believers, we aren’t promised an easy, simple life free of complications. We are promised, however that Christ will be with us in our time of worry, stress, and anxiety. That’s easy to forget in this world.

Sometimes we just need a little reassurance that He has our back. I’ve rounded up 5 Bible Verses: When Life Gets Complicated for this very occasion.

5 bible verses to lift ou up when you are down

Isaiah 41:10
[9] You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its remotest parts And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. [10] ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ [11] “Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; Those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish.…

Luke 12:25-26
[24] “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! [25] “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? [26] “If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?…

Philippians 4:6
…[5] Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. [6] Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. [7] And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

John 14:27
[27] “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. [28] “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.…

1 Peter 5:7
[6] Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, [7] casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. [8] Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. [9] But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?” That is the million dollar question in Luke. What is all this worry and anxiety getting me? An anxiety attack?

I don’t know how I will fix all that is worrying me today. Only the Lord knows. So, I am letting it go. Right now as I type this. [Letting it go…letting it go…letting it go.]

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RELATED READING :: Read Life is Hard over at {in}courage. I read this post a few days ago and just feel in love with Jennifer’s words.  I used BibleHub took up the verses above.

Believe in Yourself For Real

I see this motivational quote pinned all over Pinterest: Believe in Yourself.

Three little words that are meant as an encouragement, but, do we really believe in ourselves?

Sometimes it is easier to believe the “bad” stuff others say about us, but the good stuff goes in one ear and out the other. Why is that? What would it look like if we believed the good things others said about us? Not just take the compliment, then swept it off with the broom of negativity.

What would it look like if we stopped waiting for others to tell us how awesome, fantastic, glorious we are and believed in ourselves, right here, right now? The heck with others say about us anyway!

It's time to believe in yourself for real

Background photo source: DeathToStock

What would it look like if we believed in ourselves and really mean it? Not just because it makes a great quote. Because if we really believed in ourselves we would stop listening to the negative things people say, and listen to the truth. We would listen to our heart.

We would stop the negative talk that happens in our heads. We would stop comparing ourselves with others. We would be our best cheerleader. We would look in the mirror and see the truth. We would see how great and brilliant we really are.

What would we do if we believed in ourselves? Where would we go?

Let’s make a pact. Let’s believe in ourselves for real.

Dear Ladies, Your Story Matters

Dear ladies,

There is something that you need to know…YOUR STORY MATTERS.

Yes, you.

You, working two jobs to make ends meet, keeping your kids feed. You, caring for an aging, sick parent while working a full-time job. You, fighting some sort of addiction. You, mentoring youth-at-risk.

You, changing diapers, cleaning up puke, and doing laundry. You, facing the prospect of divorce. You, who spent years caring for a terminally ill husband.

You, missionary in your own hometown, helping migrant workers. You, struggling to care for a person with mental illness. You, in the fight of your life against cancer.

You, struggling with a defiant teenager. You, empty nester, raising grand-children. You, hanging on by a thread, one step forward, two steps back.

Maybe, you think your story isn’t interesting…or life changing…or nobody would make your life story into a movie. I am here to tell you that you are flat-out wrong! I used an exclamation point because I want to pay attention to this one:

Wherever you are in life…YOUR STORY MATTERS.

Inspiring Womens Stories

Cover Illustration, The Giver by JoDee Luna // Editor, Aliyah Jacobs

When we share our story with others it can become very a powerful thing, creating a community of women who care.

I want to introduce you to a woman who knows the power of sharing ones story.

Her name is Aliyah Jacobs and she has compiled an e-book entitled Windows Across Oceans. This collection of inspiring stories is “Written by women, who dare to care”.

“Dare to care” is the key words here because all the women in this e-book are daring to tell their story, right where they are.

* * * * * *

I am blessed to have been chosen by Aliyah to tell my story too. It’s a reminder that we are all growing in faith, trying to find who we are going to be in this world.

My story is entitled, Discovering Yourself.

Sometimes when I get frustrated, questioning the point of my life and where I am going, I remind myself of a few things.

One, it’s not my vision of my life…it’s HIS. Second, whatever I am doing, it matters to someone. Big or small. It matters.

Excerpt from my story:

I grew up in as small town in Missouri. As the John Mellencamp song goes, “Educated in a small town; Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town…”

Fearing Jesus? Yes, the church I attended, the same Religion my mother, and her mother, and her mother’s mother all attended, was strict on teaching about sin, but short of the love of Christ. Doomsday was quickly approaching, there was no time to waste.

Follow the rules, be good, and don’t rock the boat. God was to be feared. The Book of Revelations was driven home. I was taught to believe in Christ but not to know His love for me.

I was the good girl out of fear. Fear of not being liked, accepted. Fear of going to hell. Fear of not being loved.

But, I was brave a few times.

When I was old enough to leave that misguided ideology behind, I did. I left the church and never looked back. I went to art school. I believed He had no room for me. I tried to live life “my way” with minimal results. Depression and anxiety gripped me for many years. I was lost.

I moved from that small town with little opportunity to the big city where the world was waiting. I dreamed of big things, grand adventures, and changing the world.

Little did I know He would change me.

Look, not all of us will have our name printed in history books or have Sandra Bullock portray us on the big screen.

“No, I am a woman of Christ who is doing what He has planned for me. His plan may not be my-name-in-lights kind. It may be a simple plan, share His love and compassion with other.” (excerpt Discovering Yourself)

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NLT

So, do you want to read about these women who dare to care? Good. This is where you click to get the e-book, Windows Across Oceans. It’s just $5. Five bucks, the price of a grande coffee. Also, the money goes to charity that helps other women. Women helping women. That’s a small price to pay in exchange to read these women’s stories.

Because, just like you, their story matters.

LINKING UP with brave and inspirational women, who tell their story everyday. Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart and Bonnie at Faith Barista. Jennifer Dukes Lee is also giving away an inspirational book. Please click over to read what these women are doing, and maybe find other kindred spirits in the link up. Also linking up at Literacy Musing Monday’s with Mary-andering Creativity with family friendly books review and links.

Why Gwyneth Paltrow, and Other Celebrities, Don’t Get Hunger in America

Gwyneth Paltrow made headlines this weekend with her little food stamp challenge she posted online. Despite their best efforts, Gwyneth Paltrow, and other celebrities, prove they just don’t get hunger in America.

It’s cute when an uber-rich celebrity tries to relate to the rest of us who struggle to buy groceries every week.

Why Gwyneth Paltrow, and Other Celebrities, Don’t Get Hunger in America

Gwyneth Paltrow makes it so easy for us to dislike her.

 

She tweeted the above challenge and was promptly eaten alive by online critics for it. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, which allows $29 per person to help with a family grocery budget. She was challenged by celebrity chef, Mario Batali to the #FoodBankNYCChallenge, to spend $29 on groceries for one week.

She also tweeted she is “walking in their shoes to see how far we get” (*gag*), but let’s face it, she really is not.

First, SNAP is meant as a supplement program and not to fund an entire grocery budget. SNAP recipients get $29 per person, not $29 for an entire family. The amount also varies by state. Those on SNAP have a job, but need a hand up when it comes to feeding their family.

Second, this grocery haul by Gwyneth isn’t enough to feed a single human being for a week, even a super-skinny one. This picture reminds me of a cleanse one might see on her popular blog, Goop. Also, people who are hungry don’t choose to buy seven limes and organic cilantro, as these are garnishes. We buy protein (like chicken), canned beans, bread, eggs, milk and jars of spaghetti sauce and dry noodles.

Lastly, being poor, struggling, and hungry is seen as a fun challenge to celebrities, not reality. They get to suspend their reality for seven days, ending it with a #IDidIt.

People struggling to feed their family are forced to live this reality every.single.day. Families who are hungry in America are not who you think. Hunger in America isn’t a fun hastag to them with a a self-congratulatory-look-at-me at the end of seven days. It is a hard reality with harder choices.

If celebrities really want be challenged, try living it as real life. For instance, try being a struggling single mom with three kids, a broken down car, and working a 9 hour day. After a long day, that started before dawn, all that mom wants to do is get food on the table for her hungry kids, because it’s 6:30 p.m. and she still needs to help them with homework, bath time, and any other drama that comes along with being a single parent. And, do it for more than a week…Try a month, or three to start.

Try understanding the slight humiliation a mother feels when having to pay for groceries with an EBT card. Knowing that her card is ready to expire and she has to reapply, being forced to prove that she can’t provide fully for her family. Knowing that because she had to spend extra money on an unexpected car repair bill, she will have to also visit the local food bank this week to help with groceries or go without. Telling her child ‘no’ to the name brand cereal and opting for the cheaper cereal. Forget about eating organic, too.

I know other hashtag challenges have been wildly successful, can we say #IceBucketChallenge, but this one is different. What is the point of proving celebrities can eat on $29 a week? To say they did it?

Hey, I will give Gwyneth a #NiceTry and #Kudos only because the internet and talk shows are talking about hunger in America today. But, she gets a #HugeFail on her shopping list and her understanding of the real problem.

Because it’s not about food. It’s about so much more. Until they understand that, they won’t get it.

REAL SOLUTIONS & REAL PEOPLE | Feeding America, No Kid Hungry

10 Reasons Why I Hate Doing Homework with My Kids

Homework is supposed be for the benefit of my kids. It should only take 20 minutes a night to complete. It says so right in black and white in the school handbook. Insert me laughing, hysterically.

After yet another homework fight with my second grader, I wrote a little I Hate You, Homework list. Because it helps me deal.

Then, I renamed it: 10 Reasons I Hate Doing Homework with My Kids. It‘s eloquent, I know.

  1. Twenty minutes of crying because the homework instructions are confusing. And we’re talking about me crying here.
  2. Realizing I am not smarter than a second grader. Or, seventh grader. Or any grader.
  3. Doing the science fair experiment twice, and we still couldn’t grow crystals. Opt for colored carnations instead, which will never win first place at the science fair. Or, any place.
  4. Running to four different stores to find sugar cubes to build a small replica of the great pyramids. Buying every box they had. Total spent: $32. Grade: A. Kind of feel like I bought that A.
  5. Being told, “Your child should complete the majority of this simple machine project.” Then, see the other projects turned in, complete with motorized cranes and laser lights. Obviously, not completed by a second grader.
  6. Another twenty minutes of tears because…Kid: “That’s not how the teacher told us to do it!” Me: “I don’t care! That’s the answer. Write.It.Down!”
  7. “Go to your room and calm down,” kid says to me.
  8. It’s 9 p.m. and I hear this, “I forgot. I need to write a short story using all my 15 spelling words. It’s due tomorrow.”
  9. No matter how many times I Google explanations to Algebra problems, I will never understand it. 
  10. Homework wastes paper. Save the ink…and the trees. I am a graphic designer and I have never uttered those words in my life, so you know I am serious!

“I love doing homework with my kids!” Said no one. Ever.

11 Ways to Combat Text Bullying

You remember the days of prank phone calls. Chances are you made this one:

“Hello.”

“Is your refrigerator running?”

“Yes…”

“Then you better go catch it!” Hang up. Laugh hysterically.

Admit it. You did it as a teenager. It was annoying to the person on the other end of the line but innocent.

Oh, how times have changed. Today, messages via texting, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram have replaced the prank phone call. And, they’re not telling lame jokes.

A few months back, our family had a big fat lesson in internet safety, and thanks to our local Police Department, it’s been an eye-opener for us and our daughter.

Then, this past week, we were tested, again. Sigh.

This time it was a harassing text from a girl to my daughter. My daughter took it very seriously. Thank you again, Police Department, she was listening. The exact details of what was said in the text isn’t as important as what you, as a parent, should do if it happens to your child.

cyber bullying

11 WAYS TO COMBAT TEXT BULLYING:

  1. Never dismiss text bullies as innocent pranksters. Text messages (or online messages) that are harassing in nature, physical or verbal, is the definition of cyber bullying. In some cases, it is a criminal act.
  2. If there is name calling, it is cyber bullying. Period.
  3. If a threat is made to do bodily harm, this is a criminal act. Yes, the Police should be involved.
  4. Remind your child not to respond or engage. Instead document everything, i.e. with screen shots of your child’s phone or computer, or print outs, but ALWAYS keep the actual data on the phone as evidence. Never delete it.
  5. Do not underestimate the distress a bully can have on your child. Words do hurt. Never tell your child to “ignore it”, or “it’s just a joke”.
  6. Recognize it early, and take steps to stop it immediately. This could mean contacting the police, your child’s school, or the other child’s parent to have a little chat. (I will tell you from experience, a chat with the parent is not fun, but they may not realize what is going on, and will take steps to stop it.)
  7. Know that there are apps that allow a bully to use a number that is hard to trace. Now days kids know more about their phone than we do, educate yourself. Being a parent in this technology-savvy world means you need to know a thing or two about it.
  8. Understand why bullies do what they do. They crave attention and gratification. It is our job to hold them accountable for what they say and do. Their nasty words are NOT a reflection on your child, nor your child’s fault. Reassure your child of this fact.
  9. Text bullying is similar to stalking. Learn if you can block a phone number on your child’s phone. Some phones can, some can’t. If you can’t, consider changing the number and only allowing a limited number of people to have the new number. It’s like changing the locks on your door. If the bully doesn’t have the number, they can’t text.
  10. Insist on ZERO TOLERANCE for cyber bullying. It is a crime. Teach your child to speak out about cyber bullies. Let them know it will it be tolerated in your house. Let them know the consequences if they do it. Encourage them to be part of the solution against such bullies. Resist the urge to take away your child’s phone if they are the victim of a text bully. It’s not their fault.
  11. Encourage you child to talk to you openly if they experience cyber bullies, or if they witness it. I don’t need to link stories of children who have taken their own life because of cyber bullies. We know it happens.

Kids need to coexist with technology not be bullied by it.

A side note: Just as there are rules in our house, there are rules with her phone. When my daughter first got her cell phone (in 5th grade) she signed a Cell Phone Contract with us. On the list was spelled out what is expected of her with the privilege of a cell phone. Same is true when she got her iPod. This included no text bullying, no sexting, she must hand over the phone whenever I ask, and I am allowed to go through it if there is probable cause. Here is a great contract, and this one has a sense of humor about it. It’s never too late to talk about cyber bullying.

HELPFUL RESOURCES | BullyOnline, LoveYourChildrenUSA, TextBullyingStats, StompOutBullying

*Background photo source: StockVault.

Marriage is…

If you are a Sex in the City fan, like me, you might remember the little episode where Carrie has writer’s block. She is so desperate for a story that she contemplates writing a comparison between French fries and men.

That episode reminds me of where I am right now. I am deep into writer’s block and actually wrote a post about my quest for a new can opener that actually works. That is what we call ‘First World Problems’, people. Fortunately for you (and me), I wrote that one in my head and not in pixels.

Instead, below is a a post that I first wrote in 2010. It may be old but it is still relevant today. And, it’s one of my most popular posts entitled Marriage Is…

Marriage is

Marriage is…grocery shopping together to save a buck
Marriage is…vacuuming the carpet
Marriage is…emptying the dishwasher, then refilling it
Marriage is…taking turns cooking dinner
Marriage is…putting the kids to bed, tag-team style
Marriage is…balancing the checkbook and paying bills
Marriage is…respecting each others requests
Marriage is…when the dryer dies and the mini van needs brakes
Marriage is…sharing your hopes and dreams with someone
Marriage is…sharing in the homework chore with the kids
Marriage is…putting your money together for the common good
Marriage is…listening when the other person talks
Marriage is…really listening
Marriage is…hanging out on the front porch on the swing
Marriage is…running to the store to pick up milk, late at night
Marriage is…watching your kids play, together
Marriage is…sharing in the disciple of the kids
Marriage is…faith in the future
Marriage is…growing old together
Marriage is…changing and growing together
Marriage is…emotionally supporting of another person
Marriage is…having someone to let off steam to
Marriage is...loving someone, even when they are not at their best
Marriage is…having someone to kiss everyday
Marriage is…we, not I

Marriage is…not always pretty and romantic. It’s not what you imagined. It’s not always happy days and passionate nights. It ebbs and flows with life. It’s valleys and hills. It’s a roller coaster ride…with laughing, crying and some screaming. Don’t disrespect it. Don’t take it for granted. Celebrate it. Enjoy it.

* * * * * *

Some great additions from reader comments:

  • Love is a choice
  • Marriage is a choice
  • Great understanding makes a great marriage
  • Great sex doesn’t hurt
  • Marriage is not all bliss, all the time

Whether you are married or not, what would you add to the list? After almost 20 years of marriage I would add, marriage is a marathon. Pace yourself. You will get exhausted and want to quit, but you have to push on to find your stride.

*Aqua wedding cake photo: StockVault.

 

For Strong Women Everywhere

This post is dedicated to strong women everywhere…and one in particular…my mom. She is many things, including caring, strong and beautiful, but possibly her greatest trait is her deep spiritual relationship and trust she puts in the Lord. When the day comes that she meets Jesus, he will have her wings ready and waiting for her.

…29 Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all. 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31:29-31

In this world it is easy to become enslaved to upholding worldly appearances of fame, fortune, and beauty. We work hard to make our outsides look more beautiful while our insides rot away with sin. Outwardly beauty and charm will only get you so far in this life, and this life is like “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” [James 4:14]

My friends, our days are numbered here on earth, each one is a blessing. Find joy and kindness in your days. Once we are gone from this earth, it is not the end; there is an eternity waiting for us.

How we prepare for it during our time here on earth will determine what kind of eternity we enjoy.

Ladies, you are strong and amazing and beautiful. Seek the One that matters most, and your inner strength and beauty will radiate outward; this cannot be matched by fame, fortune, or physical beauty.

Work to develop your character and relationship with the Lord. This matters much more than anything material of this earth. Have a blessed weekend.

LINKING UP | Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart and Faith Barista’s WhiteSpace. Please check out these amazing women who are sharing their heart and love for Jesus on their blogs.

The Truth of Unhappy People

Unhappy quote

Unhappy people will never be happy with anything you say or do. Really. It’s a truth of unhappy people.

No matter how hard you try, unhappy people will criticize your weight, labeling you fat, thin, too thin. Unhappy people will find fault with your parenting choices. Unhappy people won’t like the outfit you are wearing today.

Unhappy people will call you uncool, a geek, a slut, a snob, or a {insert word here}. Unhappy people will find the positive quote that you post on Instagram anything but positive. And they’ll let you know they are unhappy about it.

In an attempt to make themselves feel better, unhappy people will take to Facebook, ranting and spreading lies about you. As they say, misery loves company.

ANOTHER TRUTH: Unhappy people are happy being unhappy. Unhappy people are incapable of seeing the brighter side of life…therefore, they are unhappy.

So, take a page from Kelly Clarkson when she was confronted with one unhappy bully, and say, “Screw them!”

Be happy. Be you. Be happy with your life, right where you are. You can’t change unhappy people, you are only in control of your happiness.

So, go. Be happy. Live a good life. Let them keep their unhappiness. You don’t need it anyway. You’ve got things to do.

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