Category: Q&A

Q&A Time: I Found a Big Box of Porn. What Should I Do Now?

QUESTION: I’m a 19-year-old girl and still live with my parents while I go to community college. The other day, I was in our basement looking for something I had as a little girl. We have three rooms in the basement and I went into one that I usually never go into because I thought it could be in a box in there. Instead, I found a box of porn. Mostly magazines and old VCR tapes. They either belong to my dad or my older brother who hasn’t lived here in about 8 years. Should I tell my mom? Should I throw it out? It was a lot of porn. Nobody needs that much porn.

ANSWER: Sadly, there are a lot of people who need that much porn to keep their addictions going. It sounds more like a curated collection than anything else. Those of us who are over 35 can probably relate in some way. I had a handful of videos and several dozen magazines I kept stashed in a box that once held my Nintendo cartridges.

Considering there are VHS tapes in there and we haven’t used that technology with any regularity for 15 years, I would guess that the box of porn belongs to your father. I have a feeling if you looked at the dates of the magazines, they may be from before you were even born.

It stands to reason that there aren’t more boxes because everybody was getting on the Internet for the first time 15-20 years ago. The questions remain, did your dad make the move to online pornography, does he have a problem, and either way do you tell anyone?

Don’t throw it away. If it’s not illegal pornography, it poses no real danger and it’s not your property. It’s also a giveaway somebody is tampering, just in case he still does use it.

I guess I’d need to know your mother to know if this is something that you can address with her. If she dismisses negative things or looks at your father as a hero, it will probably fall on deaf ears, just as an addict diagnosis would. If she’s an over-reactor, it could lead to crazy drama that may not be warranted, especially if it turns out to not be his box of porn.

If your mother is a level-headed person who you have a good, open relationship with, you could ask her something nudging her toward it, like, “I heard on TV that half of American households have either had pornography as problem in the past or currently have it. Have we ever had anything like that?” If she says, “No, why do you ask?” tell her that you found some pornography in the basement. Feel free to direct her to it. If she says yes, let it go, it’s not your business.

If you can’t talk to your mother, I don’t think I’d approach your father. As the father of a 20-year-old, even if I was living a lie and wanted to confess for years, that confession isn’t coming out to my daughter. I’m very honest with her these days, but before I faced my addiction it would have been lie, lie, lie.

I think your best bet might be to talk to your brother. If it’s his porn, he’ll probably fess up. He doesn’t live there anymore and it may have just been a collection he was given by some friend’s older brother. If it’s not his porn, he should have some feedback in deciding what you do next. Make it a sibling problem, not just your problem. If you determine that you can’t talk to your mom, maybe he can talk to your dad.

I think this is a situation where you’re just enough removed that you can’t really say or do too much. There may be people who disagree with me and if they do, I hope they’ll add their two cents in the comments.

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If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

You can check out my Resources page if you need a place to start getting help. Click HERE

If you’d like somebody to talk to who has been there about porn addiction, be it yours or someone you love, but aren’t ready to make the leap to get help from the medical community, I can be a great resource. For more information, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

 

Q&A Time: Did My Porn Addiction Cause My Daughter to Become a Cam Girl?

Warning: This Q&A could possibly cause a trigger to a recovering addict, especially if they enjoyed cam sites. 

QUESTION I’m a porn addict, I admit it. I’m trying to control it but after 30 years, I’ve kind of just come to live with it. Some days are better than others. This is a strange question, but I have no idea where else to ask. I discovered that my 23-year-old daughter is doing webcam shows, and yes I discovered it the worst way possible by stumbling upon it. She has a lot of followers so I think she has been doing it for a long time. Do I tell her I know she’s doing this? Do you think she’s doing this because of my porn addiction?

ANSWER This is by far the most out-of-the-box question I’ve ever had. I’m not even sure it really has to do with porn addiction, but it stuck with me since it came as part of a longer email. There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s take it a step at a time.

If nothing else ever changes about this situation, the first thing to do is NEVER to go back to that website. Obviously, try to quit porn. If you know this site, you know I’m going to tell you to see a therapist. You may want to see a therapist because of this situation anyway. If you need cam sites, you can find webcams elsewhere. I’m hoping you saw her and quickly clicked away. Do not go back to that site. If you feel a pull to that site and to God forbid, watch your daughter, you need to get help immediately, regardless of whatever she’s doing. Something beyond porn addiction is happening at that point, but hopefully that’s not the case.

Jumping to your last question, it’s impossible for me to say if she’s doing this because of anything that happened in your home. You don’t mention if she still lives with you and is doing these broadcasts from your home, nor do you mention anything about her upbringing. Anecdotally, I’ve heard first-person stories of a lot of women who became porn stars, or even just Playboy centerfolds, talk about those kinds of magazines being around the house when they were young and finding the women beautiful. I wonder if they really found them beautiful or they were reacting to their fathers finding those women beautiful. Either way, we now know that exposure to pornography sexualizes a child at a young age and for a brain that is still in the formative years of development, it can certainly create sexual attitudes unlike their peers.

As for telling her, what’s the goal? Shame her into stopping? As the father of a 20-year-old woman/little girl, I certainly wouldn’t want her getting naked and performing for people on camera, but I would fear that telling her that I know she’s doing it would cause a rift that may never be fixed. I know after telling her the next question would be, “And how do you know?” Do you want to answer that question?

The other reality is that if she’s living on her own, supporting herself, there’s probably almost no leverage you have to make her stop. Legally, she’s an adult. She can make her own choices. It sounds like you don’t know exactly why she’s doing this. Realistically, there are women who strip to put themselves through med school and there are women who strip because they are hypersexual and have legitimate issues. I can’t tell you which side of that pendulum she swings toward.

I think I’d casually offer to pay for her to get therapy by saying something like, “I was reading that a lot of parents are paying for their kids to be in therapy in their early 20s because making the transition to adulthood is tougher than ever. I wish I would have had a therapist when I was young. I’d be happy to pay for you to have someone to talk to if that ever interests you.”

And, then, you hope that they talk about the cam stuff, because I really don’t think you’re in a position to say anything.

I’ve got to admit, this is the one of the toughest questions I’ve ever had to answer…does anybody else have good ideas for this guy?

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If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

You can check out my Resources page if you need a place to start getting help. Click HERE

If you’d like somebody to talk to who has been there about porn addiction, be it yours or someone you love, but aren’t ready to make the leap to get help from the medical community, I can be a great resource. For more information, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Q&A Time: Is it OK to Watch Porn if I Don’t Become an Addict?

QUESTION: I listened to a couple of your podcasts. Good stuff. I heard you say on two different shows that you think it’s OK for people to watch porn because most don’t become addicts. Do you really believe that?

ANSWER: If those were my words, or what you inferred, it came out a little wrong. What I believe is that people can look at pornography without becoming addicts, not that I think they should look at porn.

From a strictly scientific standpoint, just about anything can become a bad habit or an addiction. For me, it was alcohol and porn. But I also can enjoy things that others find troubling, like gambling, eating or video games. Based on statistics available, far more people are able to take part in these activities and not develop a problem than those who do. That’s moral-free math talking. So, yes, I believe that somebody can look at pornography and not become addicted.

That said, do I think people should look at pornography? No. While there are some who preach its benefits in their relationship or simply appreciate the release it provides without becoming problematic, at its core, it’s people selling their bodies. I don’t think that’s a healthy thing on either side of the transaction. The only porn that exists is porn that objectifies people. Is it OK if the person being depicted understands this? I still don’t think so.

I’ve always found it crazy that many pharmacies sell cigarettes. It seems completely counterintuitive to their mission statement, unless it’s “make money at all costs.” Selling people an instrument to give them emphysema only to turn around and sell them inhalers is a brilliant business model, but is it ethical? CVS finally recognized this a couple of years ago and pulled all cigarettes from their stores.

I see CVS ending this hypocrisy along the same lines as porn stars, producers or cam models saying that since they are doing it willingly, it’s OK. It’s nice to know that nobody has a gun to your head and you’re not being trafficked, but it’s still objectification and you don’t know whose hands your product is falling into. They say if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Where do you fall in this equation, Ms. or Mr. Porn Star?

I don’t specifically tell people not to look at porn mostly because of my philosophical leanings. I’m very much a libertarian and don’t want people telling me what I should or shouldn’t do with my life. If I have this belief, it’s hypocritical to tell people what to do. I’d rather provide them with data and let them make their own decision.

I also don’t tell people not to look at porn because I think it comes off as shaming and that’s not a good way to encourage healthy behavior. It’s manipulative. Making somebody feel worse about doing something that they likely already know is not good for them doesn’t magically make them stop. It just makes their self-loathing they already feel even worse. I don’t want to be the person to contribute to that.

Maybe I should change my answer to: “I can’t think of a reason someone MUST look at porn, but of those who do, many don’t end up addicted.”

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If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

You can check out my Resources page if you need a place to start getting help. Click HERE

If you’d like somebody to talk to who has been there about porn addiction, be it yours or someone you love, but aren’t ready to make the leap to get help from the medical community, I can be a great resource. For more information, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Q&A Time: How do you live with yourself?

QUESTION: How do you live with yourself with what you did? How do you look at yourself in the mirror and who made you the voice of every porn addict out there?

ANSWER: Your autographed 8X10 is in the mail.

Two questions in two days…wow. For anybody who wonders why I’m posting this question, you should have read the rest of the email this came from. I believe it was from somebody who discovered me during my ill-fated sojourn onto Facebook last week. Yeah, the email was full of bile, but when you strip it away, as I have, I think those are actually legit, rational questions.

I don’t think those questions are really the ones that person wants answered. I doubt they even wanted answers. They just wanted me to know they thought I was a bad person. At this point, all I can say is, “Noted.”

If I read between the lines, I think this person is first asking why I don’t spend every waking minute groveling and repenting. I think the follow-up question is about why I don’t just disappear into the darkness.

I am absolutely embarrassed and ashamed of what I did. The fact that I was able to let my mental health (and rest of my life) slip to a point that I encouraged women to perform sexual acts on their webcam is, in a word, gross. The fact I didn’t have the sense to somehow make sure no female under 18 ended up on cam is negligent at best and sinister at worst.

I don’t think that I’ll ever not feel embarrassment and shame for what I did. I don’t know if it had a lasting negative effect on that girl, or any of the other women I got involved. I do know it had a negative effect on my family and they never asked for that.

But here’s the thing, I’m not a disciple of Brene Brown, the shame guru. Perhaps this is narcissistic or means I’m denial, but while I did an embarrassing and shameful thing, I don’t think that makes me a person who has to define himself as ashamed or embarrassed. I did a horrible thing, but I haven’t let it affect my self-worth. I actually feel better about myself now, 5½ years into recovery than I ever have. There’s no defense for what I did, but I’m not ashamed of who I am. Those are two different things.

I think that there is a segment of the populace who, when they first hear my story, or are reintroduced to me for the first time since my arrest in 2014, they are shocked that I’m not on my hands and knees, begging for forgiveness from them and the world in general.

I went through that period. You just weren’t there. I believe at some point, you have to stand up, dust yourself off, and move on because, really, what else can you do? I think it’s like a lot of traumas that way. You deal with it and you move on or you let it totally consume you. I’ve seen people who get consumed and I didn’t want to be like that.

I had a deep emotional reaction to what I did that was on display for all early on. The amount of times I cried to my wife, or in therapy, were plentiful. If you need a show from me to believe that I will forever be deeply, deeply aware of what happened and what it means, the show’s over.

Finally, I’ve never claimed to be the voice of all porn addicts. Many never understand they are addicted. Even more never confront it or try to do anything about it. Very few have the law involved as I did. I’m critical of some of the online communities of men based on their methodology in trying to tackle the issue. I’m not trying to be anybody’s voice but my own.

I tell my story because I didn’t hear anybody’s story when I was in the same situation. There were few resources when I was going through this. I felt completely alone. I hope that telling my story makes a few other people feel less alone. I might not only help some addicts, but help prevent some victims this way.

I also want to raise the idea with people who don’t think of it, or don’t believe it, that porn addiction is a real thing and can have real consequences. If they can walk away understanding it’s not a moral failure, but an illness, that’s one more person in the world who might move us toward a place we can accept a national dialogue on the matter.

Finally, I tell my story because I don’t think I’m the stereotype people conjure when they think of a porn addict. If I can break the mold, and explain there is no “typical” addict, perhaps we can dump the stigma that a porn addict is a specific kind of a person.

I’m not trying to win fans, I’m just trying to make the best of what was a bad situation. I understand most people slink away and don’t want to talk about it. That’s fine, it’s just not the cloth from which I was cut. Much like my advice if you stumble across a TV show you don’t like, just turn me off if I bother you that much.

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If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

You can check out my Resources page if you need a place to start getting help. Click HERE

If you’d like somebody to talk to who has been there about porn addiction, be it yours or someone you love, but aren’t ready to make the leap to get help from the medical community, I can be a great resource. For more information, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Q&A Time: Did Bipolar Disorder Cause My Alcoholism and Porn Addiction

QUESTION: I read your blog on bipolar disorder the other day. Do you think your bipolar disorder caused your porn and alcohol addictions?

ANSWER: I think it certainly played a role. It doesn’t dismiss the fact that I got myself lost in the addictions, but to deny that there wasn’t some influence is ludicrous.

When you’re an addict and have mental health issues, it’s called having co-occurring disorders. It’s not rare. More than half of drug addicts and around 40% of alcoholics have co-occurring disorders. I have not found statistics on porn/sex, gambling or video game addiction.

An important revelation I’ve come to accept during recovery is that everything is connected in our lives.

I became an addict because I had some childhood trauma, which stunted development of certain coping skills. I became an addict because of a rich history of addiction on both sides of my family. I became an addict because I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I felt so different than my peers. I became an addict because despite being properly educated on the danger, I had a bit of a defiant, curious, pleasure-seeking personality that was open to trying anything.

But then again, maybe all those things happened because of the bipolar disorder, or both.

I have a chicken-and-egg debate with myself about whether I entered the critical phase of addiction because I stopped taking my bipolar medication or whether I stopped taking my bipolar medication because I entered the critical phase of addiction.

At that point, my sleep tumbled to 2-3 hours per night, my relationships with family and business partners grew distant and strained, my physical appearance became of little concern and I eventually stopped caring about almost everything. Was that because I was a critical addict or because I was mentally ill?

I think you’d need a pie chart to graphically represent what led to me being who I was. I don’t know what the biggest piece would have been. Some might have labeled me as an addict, some may have labeled me as mentally ill while others would have just labeled me as somebody they didn’t want to be around because of those other little parts of the pie chart put together. It doesn’t matter really. It was all connected.

As somebody who had already been in and out of therapy for several years prior to accepting my porn and alcohol addictions, I knew that not only would I have to get help for the addictions, but the therapy was going to have to not only continue at a higher frequency, but start exploring my life in a different direction. I needed to learn how to manage my mental health and addictions. I had to have co-occurring solutions to co-occurring disorders.

Sadly, only 7-10 percent of people suffering from co-occurring disorders get help for both simultaneously. Unfortunately, most therapists who deal with the kind of mental health issues that come with bipolar disorder are not schooled in addiction counseling or solutions, and vice versa. At the first rehab I went to for alcoholism, they’d basically start shutting you down if you talked about other facets of mental health.

This question was part of a much larger email from the person who wanted an answer. My final words to them are the final words I’ll write here: In the end, you have to take care of the entire person, but that means simultaneously taking care of a lot of little parts. You’ve got a doctor for your teeth, one for your eyes, one for your general physical health. You see a specialist for your heart, or another specialist if you need an operation. It’s OK to see one therapist for addictions and another for dealing with bipolar. We have a lot to take care of as humans because after all, it’s all connected.

 

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If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

You can check out my Resources page if you need a place to start getting help. Click HERE

If you’d like somebody to talk to who has been there about porn addiction, be it yours or someone you love, but aren’t ready to make the leap to get help from the medical community, I can be a great resource. For more information, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Q&A Time: Is it porn addiction if I’m not actually looking at pornography?

Question: I think I know the answer to this, but want to be sure. I spend a lot of time looking at non-pornographic video clips online that involve naked women, usually from movies, but they are not pornographic. If I’m not looking at pornography, can I really be a porn addict?

Answer: You seem to have decided you’re some kind of addict, and that’s more important than anything else. Whether what you watch rises to the level of pornography is less crucial than you getting help. If you’ve done your research and believe you are an addict, I would urge you to book an appointment with a therapist very soon, or visit my RESOURCES page for more information about getting help.

As far as the question about what rises to the level of pornography, I think it’s two-fold. First, we can agree that there is an industry that caters to the explicit visual sexual gratification of its customers. Whether it’s movies, magazines, strip clubs, etc., I think we can largely agree as society that this falls under the umbrella of pornography. Even this industry wears that label proudly.

The second kind of pornography, from a producer standpoint, I believe falls under the category of “unintentional pornography.” I’m guessing the kind of video clips you’re watching, if they’re from mainstream films, would fall in this column. Yes, I understand Hollywood can make things too sexy and there is almost never any nudity that is actually needed in a movie, but they are hardly making pornography. Unintentional pornography becomes pornography based on your manner of using it.

Another example would be women’s fashion/lifestyle magazines. They are created with the intent of selling advertising and sharing stories to a female audience. Can they be used for a cheap thrill by men? Absolutely. There are more sexual titillating photos in some of those magazines than things like Maxim, geared at men.

Yes, there are some materials out there that operate in a sort of gray space between intentional and unintentional pornography. You can’t tell me that Sports Illustrated is doing anything other than creating sexually visual material when their swimsuit issue comes out, especially when they just use body paint on some of the models. The same goes for some of the “independent” films made that show non-simulated intercourse or feature their actors naked through large sections of the movie. Let’s face it, sex sells. Always has, always will.

As I mentioned above, if you have to ask if you’re really a porn addict, that ship has probably sailed, even if you’re only watching National Geographic specials or looking at ESPN Magazine’s body issue.

There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to being labeled an addict, but you should start examining the behavior – and reasons behind the behavior – for why you need to ask in the first place.

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If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

You can check out my Resources page if you need a place to start getting help. Click HERE

If you’d like somebody to talk to who has been there about porn addiction, be it yours or someone you love, but aren’t ready to make the leap to get help from the medical community, I can be a great resource. For more information, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Figuring Out if You’re A Casual or Problem User of Pornography

For this article, I’m going to suspend the discussion of whether pornography use in moderation is not unhealthy or if there is any moral component to the decision to utilize pornography. I’ll tackle those issues later on. For now, I simply want to provide a list of questions that people who are wondering if they have an issue with pornography can ask themselves to better understand their situation.

I think words like addiction, habit, obsession, compulsion and problem are more subjective than objective. Their definitions can be fluid and feature a lot of crossover from one term to the other. Ultimately, it’s up to you to honestly decide whether you have an issue or not with pornography and more importantly, what you’re going to do about it should you conclude there may be something there.

For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that much like there are people who can drink, play video games, gamble or eat in moderation – yet are not addicted, nor have a problem – that there are also people who can view and utilize pornography in moderation. At what point does “recreational” use start to bleed into being a problem? Asking yourself these questions may help point you in the right direction:

Is there any sort of trauma in your past? This doesn’t necessarily have to be sexual abuse, either. It can be physical or emotional. Roughly 90% of full-blown addicts of anything can trace their past to find some kind of meaningful trauma. With porn addicts, the number is 94%. That still leaves an opening to be an addict with no pre-existing trauma, but the two often go hand-in-hand. If your parent killed themselves in front of you, a sibling molested you, or any number of other major negative events in your life happened as a young person, addiction may be a symptom of how you deal with that trauma.

Is there any co-occurring disorder or previous addiction existing? While not at the numbers of trauma and addiction, more full-blown addicts have some kind of mental health issue than those who don’t.  These mental health problems may include bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety and a number of other diagnoses. Also, it is very easy for someone who is addicted to one substance or behavior to become addicted to another. Addictive behavior is not limited to one addiction at a time, although there are people who trade addictions, successfully battling one obsession only to take on another.

Are you addicted to pornography or masturbation? In my case, it didn’t take long to recognize once the porn was removed from my life, masturbation dropped to almost nothing. I masturbated more as an indicator to end a porn-viewing session than anything else. There are many people who have the opposite story. They were able to easily stop watching porn because it turned out pleasuring themselves was their actual vice. There’s a fairly easy way to determine which you’re addicted to, or if it’s both. For the next week or two, allow yourself to look at porn, but don’t utilize it to masturbate. Conversely, masturbate all you want, but do it without visual aids. You should be able to determine a trend among obsessive thoughts where your addictions truly lay.

Are there rituals around your use? Addicts generally use in the same way almost all the time. My alcohol use, which was certainly an addiction, came with rituals. I never drank cans of beer. It was either a bottle or in a pint glass when I was away from home. Corona, specifically, couldn’t touch my lips without a lemon or lime wedge. At home, I didn’t drink beer, just tequila and Red Bull. I’d only drink at night at home, and it always had to be in one of the three large plastic tumblers we had. I always poured the tequila and Red Bull the same way, almost parfait-style. First a dash of Red Bull, then tequila, then Red Bull, then tequila, and so on until the tumbler was full. That’s routine, or ritual and is common with addicts.

Do you lie to others, or yourself, about your usage? OK, it’s pornography, I get it. We all want to pretend that we’ve never looked at it, despite statistics saying those that don’t are in the massive minority. When the topic of pornography comes up in mixed company, do you stay quiet? Do you try to hide the role pornography plays in your life, especially the amount of time spent looking? Would you like about the time you spend if asked point-blank? When you’re finished looking at it, do you make deals with yourself that you won’t spend as much time engaged in the activity, yet you can’t keep the promises to yourself? Are you spending any money on pornography outside of typical Internet fees? Do you find yourself sometimes picking isolating to look at porn over other activities? Do you rationalize that the time you spend or material you look at is not as extreme as others with addiction, so if they have a problem, you have less than a problem? The answers are all small red flags that add up.

I am by no means a doctor, but do know how I answered these questions when I was in the throes of my addiction. I’ve also done more research and met more pornography addicts than most professionals, not to mention I’ve been through plenty of group and one-on-one therapy for my formerly rampant addictions. I understand if you don’t like your answers and want to discredit my opinion…but that may also be a sign you want to avoid the truth about your addiction.

As I mentioned earlier, anybody can diagnose you as an addict, but what matters is that you believe you have a problem. More importantly is deciding what you’re going to do about it. Next time, we’ll talk about what to do next when you’ve reached the conclusion you need to do something about your problem.

 

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