Category Archives: Culture and Society

Abortion and a Woman’s Prerogative

May 19, 2019

Culture and Society / Intention

First, I want to make a clear disclaimer. Biologically speaking, I was born a male, and since then, I have identified as such. This is largely the lens through which I see the world. I have no idea what it feels like to be pregnant and give birth to a child. I have never experienced the discrimination that women face on a daily basis.

I am making this disclaimer because this post outlines my feelings about abortion. My opinion should matter significantly less than those of women. Nonetheless, this blog is my personal forum to share my views. In light of the recent developments in Alabama and other states, it is a good time to outline my thoughts on this issue.

Here are my main points:

  • The decision to have an abortion should be a woman’s prerogative. It is her body and her life that will be impacted the most. She should also get to decide whose concerns she will consider, whether they are from the father of the fetus, her family, her faith community, or none of the above. The woman steers this ship. Everyone else follows her lead and respects whatever decision she makes.
  • A pregnant woman should have a right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. This means that it should be legal to the fullest extent of the law.
  • An abortion should be an opportunity to support a woman’s well-being, instead of demonizing her with judgment, bible-thumping, and opportunistic propaganda.

I am well aware of the concerns people raise about advocating for the unborn child and the finer details of what constitutes a living being somewhere amidst the moment of conception and a full-term birth. However, above all of this, I still believe the decision must be made by the woman, and we as a society need to be supportive of her whether she chooses abortion or not.

People also seem to forget that the right to choose an abortion does not negate the right to give birth. There are now numerous cases in which a woman decided to go through with the pregnancy and either keep the child or pursue adoption. The right to choose offers some degree of balance between what stands at opposite ends of this divide. It does not have to be an all-or-nothing proposition.

For that matter, if a woman chooses to have the baby, we need to be able to offer the resources and support (financial and otherwise) for her to raise the child if she chooses. This means full support from the father, the families involved, the community at large, and our government. After birth, this is not always the case, and this is a big part of the problem. Deadbeat dads, poverty, sufficient healthcare, and lack of family support are among the many issues that arise when a woman decides to give birth.

Lastly, the male policymakers in government need to understand that this is a woman’s rights issue. Why are men deciding what is best for women and their bodies? How can men offer better support for women and their reproductive rights? Severely limiting their options is not a solution.

I cannot imagine the emotional toll that this decision has on a woman. She has to weigh her personal feelings against a society that has already judged her and expects too much.

Let the woman decide is what I say. If she chooses abortion, that is her right. If she chooses to give birth, then the rest of us need to come up with the goods to make sure that both momma and baby will be okay.


PS: Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Observations of Light, Part 2

January 30, 2019

Culture and Society

Date of Observance: August 31, 2018
Time of Day: 4:15 PM
Location: Front Deck of Home in Liberty, TN
Conditions: Mostly Cloudy with Patches of Blue

 Up in the sky, there is a huge grayish-white cloud that is slowly meandering north and only small patches of blue surrounding it. I look around me for the sun, but I cannot find it. I suspect that it is hidden behind the small mountain behind us. The light everywhere is diffused. There are no distinct shadows to be seen. As I sit on my front deck, the typically well-defined shadow that my two-story house casts on the ground is nowhere to be found.

The colors everywhere also seem to be a bit muted. The green trees in the tall hills around my house look darker and duller than usual. The flowers in our garden and in the potted plants on our deck do not look as vibrant as they usually are. We have flowers in all kinds of colors this time of year in various shades of reds, yellows, purples, and burgundy, but they do not pop out like they usually do right now.

I look up in the sky again to see that the big grayish-white cloud has moved further north and has allowed a little more blue to be seen overhead. I notice that more sunlight has hit the ground. The yellow flowers in particular have gained back some of their natural shine. In the distance, I can suddenly see two yellow butterflies fluttering side by side among small trees along our driveway. It is surprising that I did not notice their delicate dance before. The other colors in our garden have not changed that much, but the yellow is clearly more luminous now.

Overhead, other smaller clouds along with patches of blue take center stage above my home. The colors and the light around me change very little as everything else stays calm and still. The air feels dry, and it is neither hot nor cold as I face this quiet and tempered wilderness.

Trust Yourself

December 16, 2018

Culture and Society / Intention

Do you often second guess a thought or feeling that you have only to find out that your initial deduction was spot on? I have done this many times, and I am not sure why. The more I think about it, the more I feel that I am often generally inclined to be accommodating toward others even if it is at the expense of my own well being and desires. As a result, I tend to discount my own genuine feelings of discomfort, doubt, and being hurt. 

What’s up with that?

Well, I do not like being selfish or to be perceived as such, but maybe I need to adjust my thinking. Advocating for my own feelings is not selfishness. If anything, it is an act of self-preservation and protection. Nonetheless, I acquiesce far more often than I need to.  In the end, I may wind up unhappy and feeling that my own needs and desires were not met.

Okay, so how do I change this? How do I trust my own instincts better and not default to discounting them? Here are some steps I am willing to try out as often as possible:

  1. Observe the situation carefully and with minimal hesitation.
  2. Discern and acknowledge my own immediate impressions and feelings.
  3. State my impressions clearly in my head.
  4. Figure out the best course of action that advocates for my needs without infringing unnecessarily on the needs of others.

There is an old adage (or cliché as some might see it) that says, “To thine own self be true.”

This statement speaks to the value and active practice of trusting your own instincts and intuition. This is possibly the best way to develop and build the wisdom upon which you can build your life.

Perhaps in my case, there is a deeper underlying factor that prevents me from trusting myself more. I have no idea what that is, but my intuition tells me that I need to change this regardless of whatever that reason may be.

I will follow that internal directive from now on as much as possible. I do not want to constantly sacrifice and compromise my own needs in favor of others. This is not fair to me, and my needs have immense value.

 Maybe part of this lack of trust in myself stems from a need to be kind and generous to others. This is all well and good, but by the same token, I need to be kind and generous to myself as much as possible.

If you struggle with trusting your instincts, you are not alone. It is tricky to hone something as intangible as this in which your frame of mind and feelings need to be assessed as objectively and lovingly as possible.

Nonetheless, this is a practice worth exercising. If you cannot advocate for your own feelings and well being, no one else truly will. You are your own best defense.

Trust yourself. The kindness, comfort, and peace of mind you receive as a result will be yours for the taking.


Learning How to Relax

December 11, 2018

Culture and Society / Intention

As it turns out, I am not good at relaxing. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with this reality, but it is true. I am the kind of person who has an endless curiosity to try new things, a lot of fulfilling projects, and no shortage of responsibilities. My life has been even more hectic now that I am currently a college student. My mind defaults to the next assignment due or the looming exam. This is a challenging way to live, but it is what I have chosen.

So then, how in the world do I get better at relaxing? Here are the facts:

  • I do not like watching a lot of tv.
  • I am an introvert.
  • My mind is constantly thinking about school and/or creative projects.

In this modern day and age, watching a tv show or movie for hours on end is the mode of relaxation for many people. I get it. It is escapism in its easiest and most accessible form. We are currently in a new golden age of television due to the wealth of quality programming being produced. My problem with this form of media consumption is not only how sedentary it is but ultimately how disempowering it is as well. If the vast majority of your daily life is spent sitting down and watching something in front of a screen, what have you actually done with your life? If you add up all of the hours spent watching other people do something with their lives, what could you have done with yours? Write a book? Spend more time with friends and family? Exercise and take care of yourself? Meditation? Ride a bike out in the world? Learn a new language? Learn to play a new instrument? The possibilities are staggeringly endless.

This is why I cannot fathom watching tv as a form of relaxation. It is inactive consumption that is highly addictive.  I watch some shows once in a while, but there is too much to watch for someone who has a lot he wants to do.

Going out with friends is often a challenge for me. Don’t get me wrong.         I love hanging out with friends, but it stands at the opposite end of the spectrum from television. I like to be fully present with people and have engaging conversations. After a while, this is over-stimulation that leaves me a bit exhausted. As an introvert, being by myself always feels better overall.

Well then, obviously relaxation for me does not mean watching television and hanging out with friends.  So now what? Maybe I need to think about simplifying and scaling down what I do to relax. What are activities that require little thought and effort but make me feel good?

  • Playing piano.
  • Napping.
  • Cuddling with my cat.
  • Going for a walk.
  • Riding my bicycle.

Honestly, I started to write “drawing”, “photography”, “writing”, and “reading books”. These activities are certainly  fun and enjoyable, but they require a degree of focus and intention that is not exactly relaxing.  In any case, I need to equate relaxing with simplicity and minimal engagement.

This is a start anyway, but I’ll keep you all updated on my journey of relaxation. I am doing this because I am wary of burnout both as a student and as a creative person. Moments of disengagement, absolute stillness, and rest for the mind have immense value.

As I type this, I am in Sarasota, Florida for some time to visit family and to relax. The beach is calling my name. I need to get on that.

More soon.


Give Compassion to Difficult People

December 2, 2018

Culture and Society / Intention

What I am writing about this week is not the easiest practice to exercise, but incrementally, I have found it to be a practice in personal wellness with long-term benefits that far exceed the discomfort it creates.

When you are dealing with a difficult person, see and do first through a lens and intention of compassion.

I have come across numerous instances in my life in which people have given me a hard time. Whether it was intentional on their part or not, they became a source of frustration, anger, and resentment. I have led projects in which someone would constantly challenge my authority and speak up about every little thing I said. Other times, people with volatile emotional struggles have derailed plans or made a gathering unbearable. Sometimes, there are just people who are difficult because it is partly in their nature.

This has been a struggle for me, but I have been practicing being compassionate when I come across someone like that. Maybe they are having a bad day or week. Perhaps they may be dealing with a difficult physical condition or did not get enough sleep.  Maybe they’re constipated?

Whatever the reason, compassion starts with a place of empathy and grows from there. If we could try to understand where they are coming from, we can not only gain insight toward a better way to proceed, but we can also start to unload feelings of anger or frustration in a more productive way.

There is, however, one caveat I must throw in. Being compassionate will not necessarily solve anything. The person may continue to be difficult, and there may not be a workable solution whatsoever. In those instances, you have to maintain your own sense of self-respect and uphold your end of the deal regardless of whatever drama may ensue. It may even be helpful to just be honest about your feelings after a good dose of compassion is doled out.

Either way, at some point it becomes clear that the person in question does not have the wherewithal to understand how their actions and words affect others no matter what you do. In those instances, project yourself, keep lines of communication clear and open, and try as best as you can to minimize the fallout. If he/she crashes and burns, they do not have to take the whole ship down with them.

If you color all of your actions with compassion, you give yourself the opportunity to consider the perspective of the difficult person. Being human, we may sometimes be blind to the struggles and circumstances of others, and compassion allows us to account for this.

What I have found as a result of being more compassionate toward others is a significant amount of reduced stress and anxiety. Instead of being reactionary and on the angry offensive, I exercise more patience to let others work themselves and their personal dramas out.  This also allows me to free myself of constantly taking on responsibility for the actions and mistakes of others. If I take the time to understand the source of someone’s behavior, it helps me see when undesirable outcomes have nothing to do with me. After the twelfth time that someone fails to keep up with their responsibility and several attempts at trying to help that person, you can let yourself and your compassion off the hook. The rest is on them.

So, just think about it. If there is someone in school or at your workplace who rubs you the wrong way or antagonizes you, approach them with compassion and a solid dose of your own self-respect. Maybe you will find your own epiphany from the interactions.

Whatever happens, compassion is a true act of kindness, and we can use a whole lot more kindness in the world today.



My Misgivings about the Thanksgiving Holiday

November 25, 2018

Culture and Society / Intention

This past Thanksgiving holiday was far from a traditional one for me. On Wednesday, Nov. 22, I started to feel sick. The upper part of my mouth and my throat started to feel tender. This is a feeling I generally get when something is coming over me. A failed attempt at heading to Nashville on Wednesday due to the strange behavior of our van threw me over the edge. I was to be bedridden for the following 24 hours. This effectively eliminated my Thanksgiving plans with my family.

While drinking plenty of fluids and floating in and out of a Nyquil-induced sleep, I could not help but contemplate the meaning of Thanksgiving. For me, the best parts include spending time with family that I do not get to see as often now that I live an hour away and am a full-time college student, as well as  the waves of gratitude and the glorious bounty of delicious food. This is where my warm and fuzzy feelings toward this holiday ends. They are far outweighed by my misgivings. I have a few of those.

Ok, bring out the bullet points:

  • We cannot forget the slaughtering of MILLIONS of Native Americans. In the history books I read growing up, Thanksgiving represented the cooperation and friendliness between European settlers/colonialists and indigenous tribes of the continental US. They all came together to share a large meal. What history books fail to mention is that all of America was savagely taken from Native American tribes with brute force and inhumane cruelty. I cannot resolve this in my head.
  • The blatant commercialism of the holiday promotes greed and materialism. Not only do people spend a ton of money buying turkey and food for a huge meal, but there is immense pressure to spend money on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. America has figured out a way to monetize what is supposed to be a time of sharing and togetherness. This world is bullshit.
  • The strains of salmonella found in turkeys, not to mention the chemicals used to fatten them up, are dangerous to your health. Here is an enlightening article from the Organic Consumers Association:  What Turkey Producers Don’t Want You To Know

More than any other American holiday, Thanksgiving has become increasingly cringe-worthy with each passing year. It is difficult to resolve these serious misgivings that I have.

Nonetheless, the holiday creates a time for me to commune with family and to give thanks for the many joys and gifts we have in our lives. There is still immense value in this.

I want to figure out a way to balance out and acknowledge the truths behind this annual occasion. Perhaps next year, without being sick, I will do something different.



My Perspective on the Politics of Elections

November 4, 2018

Culture and Society

Over the last two weeks, President Trump made two very big revelations related to his domestic agenda.

  1. A White House memo was supposedly leaked to clearly define male and female genders in a way that effectively eliminates considerations for transgender people.
  2. He wants to revoke citizenship from children born in the US whose parents are illegal aliens.

I do not think it is a coincidence that these intentions were revealed during the early voting time frame just before the midterm elections on Nov. 6. He’s rallying his base of conservative voters. This is what he does. He makes a few inflammatory claims that tip the balance in the minds of voters whose biases are easily impressionable.

This is the model for political rhetoric in the age of Trump. It has nothing to do with civil discourse, or civility for that matter. Divisiveness is now the name of the game. Trump’s modus operandi is to be so extreme that he’ll capture enough of the conservative vote to make a difference. It seems like a crazy strategy, but this is exactly what won Trump the presidency in the first place.

To make matters worse, this is the kind of behavior that gets higher ratings on tv and radio and more attention overall. News channels eat this up to gain  stronger viewership numbers, but this magnified coverage only serves to spread Trump’s agenda and grant him the attention he wants.

The media is ultimately playing into his hands, and millions of their viewers get exposed to Trump’s agenda.

I’ll be the first to admit that perhaps I might be oversimplifying all of this, but needless to say, the state of American politics feels like it is steadily sinking into a murky, smelly, and precarious place.

I know that there is no use in complaining, and so, I have some suggestions on how we can proceed during any and all highly contentious election periods.

  1. Understand how Trump operates. He makes divisive claims to help Republicans gain votes in order to retain his power in the US House of Representatives and the Senate.
  2. Claim responsibility. We all did this. Maybe we did not vote or pay attention enough. Maybe we did not speak as loud as we could. If we can recognize what we could have done in the past, we have a better idea of what more we can do moving forward.
  3. Modify how we consume news. The news media and its 24-hour news cycles have become part of the problem. There is so much commentary and propaganda going around that it is harder to make sense of it all. I propose that we all become more intentional about taking breaks from our news consumption. On a regular basis and for brief periods, turn off the radio or tv if the name Trump is mentioned. Take a mental break to gain some perspective. You have to quiet all of the other voices in order to truly hear your own.
  4. I have said this before, and I will say it again. Diversify your news sources. Between NPR, The New York Times, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, and a whole slew of others, do not rely on only one perspective to get your news. Expose yourself to opposing viewpoints. Do the work to find multiple perspectives.
  5. Register to vote, and then vote AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. If you are dissatisfied with the state of your municipality and community, it is important to note that it may be the result of years of electing ineffective leaders and politicians who are out of touch. Keep your registration current and plan on voting regularly and often. One election cycle with your preferred leadership winning may not be enough to start making significant changes. Think about electing a team of local and state leaders who share your sensibilities and priorities over the long haul. There can be numerous elected positions to vote for in your area such as city council members, sheriff, mayor, governor, and a whole slew of others. This is not easy to do, but there is no harm in trying.

More than anything, do everything you can to think for yourself and to cultivate your own opinions and viewpoints. Find your own voice among all of the grandstanding and hype and use it.

Do this with an awareness of the political climate we have evolved into.

If you know where you stand and you have actively educated yourself, no amount of intimidation, extremism, and propaganda can lead you astray.


An Asian in Las Vegas

October 28, 2018

Culture and Society

Earlier this month, I took a flight to Las Vegas, Nevada, to meet up with some friends from high school. I’ve visited there at different times before as a child, a teenager, and as an adult for my father’s passing around 6 years ago. This visit, however, was the first time I got the chance to truly observe the culture that exists in Sin City. It was eye-opening to me in terms of the blatant and unapologetic way that money is the lifeblood and compass of this corner of America.

I spent the bulk of my Vegas weekend hanging out with my classmates. We got to catch up and make up for loss time over the last several years. As a group we went out to eat at a buffet at one of the hotel casinos, and we toured the strip and the old strip.

After our buffet lunch, I tried my hand at a roulette table and lost $22.00. I gave up after that. During my last night, I stayed at a hotel, and after some persuasive encouragement, I tried my hand at some slot machines. After losing or breaking even on a couple of different machines, I won $150.

I stopped after that, and I’m glad I did. 

As I walked the strip and through some casinos, I made some observations that were a bit unnerving.

  1. At least in the casinos, there were cameras EVERYWHERE. Tons of them. Hundreds? Maybe thousands? They were all encased in these little black globes that popped out of ceilings and corners. I understand that casinos want to catch people who cheat at gambling, but it’s all a little too big brother for me. I imagine that no cough, sneeze, or conversation goes unnoticed.  That’s creepy.
  2. Every hotel has a casino.  Every casino has a huge buffet. All casinos give their patrons free drinks. It seems to me that this is the perfect equation to seduce people into staying for a long while. People are almost hypnotized and satiated into a comfortable environment that is conducive to gambling your money away with reckless abandon. 
  3. Smoking is allowed in every casino.  It certainly seemed that way. The smell of nicotine wafted in the air and lingered as I walked through. For the employees and patrons who have to be in this environment all of the time, this cannot be healthy for their lungs and their bodies. In most places everywhere else in the country, smoking takes place outdoors as it should so that non-smokers are not unfairly subjected to the smoke. The people in Las Vegas do not seem to mind.
  4. Casinos operate 24 hours a day. People gamble or play at slot machines literally all of the time and any time. If you want to play black jack at 4 AM, you can do so in multiple places!
  5. Gamblers seemed like zombies. I observed many people with drinks in hand intently pressing buttons and lulled into a relaxed state.
  6. All of the slot machines are now digital. At what point did everyone decide that this was okay? Could it be possible that each machine is now more rigged than they were before? Couldn’t they now operate under some sort of algorithm that manages people’s wins and losses? To me, this seemed like bullshit and a total scam. Miraculously, I won my $150, but I can’t help but wonder if this was a way to induce me into playing more.  Algorithms and technology can be powerful entities.
  7. There are slot machines in the airport.  Enough said.

Clearly, money and the hunger for it is what drives this city. This hunger is its ultimate commodity, and there is a design that feeds this hunger in perpetuity. The allure of winning lots of money is palpable. If you are desperate for cash, this is where you can feed that desire.

Of course, it’s not all bad. Las Vegas is a spectacle in and of itself. If I return to Sin City, I may spend more time taking in the shows than the casinos. They offer entertainment value and lots of beautiful creativity that I can geek out on. If you are a foodie, those massive buffets will make you happy.

Well, without further ado, here are some photos from my trip:

The experience of visiting Las Vegas felt surreal. The gambling culture and the hoards of tourists made it a bit jarring for me, but the whole experience was saved by the presence of some great friends from high school.

Maybe that’s the gist of it all. If you have to go Vegas, go with good friends. If anything, the human connections you make can overshadow the industry of money in this city. That would make the experience truly worthwhile.


My Personal Journey As a Pianist, Part 4

September 24, 2018

Culture and Society / Piano Performance

When you grow up on a tropical island surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, there is a part of you that will always live there no matter how far you go and how different your life becomes. I used to spend hours sitting on the beach, lost in my thoughts as waves crashed onto the shore.

When I left the island, I left my ocean-the place where I went so seek solace, comfort, and joy. I boarded a Hawaiian Airlines flight when I was 17 years old with my tear-stained face. I said goodbye, begrudgingly and willingly. I knew that my whole life was about to change.

For a long time, I walked this earth without my ocean. I did not have a place where I felt grounded and safe, where I could feel calm and at peace.

Looking back, it was this emptiness I felt that drew me to the piano.

The piano became my ocean.

At an old church building where I once worked in Charlotte, NC, there was an upright Yamaha piano in the sanctuary that I discovered when I was wondering around on my break one day. Upon inquiring, the folks who ran that church told me that I was welcome to play it whenever I wanted as long as there wasn’t anyone using it to prepare for a service. I took their permission and ran with it.

I must have spent hundreds of hours–late nights, early mornings, late afternoons, evenings, and all points in between–playing that piano. I felt so safe sitting there, and it inspired me to play my own music. I composed the bulk of my first album “Seahorses” at that very spot.

From a sonic perspective, the piano can be as thunderous and as gentle as the ocean. There can be so much power with the touch of every finger. I could lose myself in its undulating rhythms and feel every bit of the emotion I poured into it coming back to me.

I found the piano at a time when I needed it, and at a time when I was in a dark place in my life.

I heard its crashing waves, and it heard my loneliness.

This instrument became my guiding force, my sense of safety, and my private haven from everything in my life that was going so wrong.

The piano continues to be all of these things and more.

I still miss the ocean, but thankfully, through the highs and lows in my life, I found something just as mighty and meaningful that sustains my spirit.

I sit at a piano, and I feel greater than and better than who I was before. I sit there for hours dreaming my dreams and lost in my thoughts. All of this crashes into me every time, and the air and space around me gets filled with sound.

Life doesn’t get better than this.


My Personal Journey as a Pianist, Part 3

September 16, 2018

Culture and Society / Intention / Piano Performance

There is one word that sums up the vast majority of my time as a pianist.


Yes, lots and lots and lots of practice.

There is more practice than the time spent actually composing music, writing lyrics, being creative, and performing. It is time spent getting a fingering sequence to sound effortless on the piano, hours learning a new piece by playing it over and over again until it sounds and feels right, and fingering exercises to maintain and enhance the flow and dexterity of movement on the piano.

This is the part of being a musician that most people would find dull and uninteresting. The constant repetition of music and singing during practice would drive most people insane. It’s also not particularly glamorous. I actually like to practice in my pajamas and under the most mundane and comfortable conditions possible. If I am practicing a new finished piece that I am excited about, I will sit there for HOURS meticulously working on several details until I am playing it just right.

It is ironic that I put so much time into practicing now when it was the repetition of nursery songs when I was young that pushed me away from learning how to play. The difference was that, in time, I grew more patient, and I eventually recognized the deep value of practice.

Sure, practice makes perfect, as the cliché goes, but it’s actually about more than just getting better at playing. Over the years, I have found that those rare moments of inspiration-those lightning bolts of a new song that light a fire under you-they would not happen without the tedium and persistence of practice. The repetition and memorization buys you the physical space and time to seek out musical textures and understand them. You build this understanding into a personal catalogue in your musical brain.

It’s also like going to the gym for your fingers. You build muscles and muscle memory every time you repeat something. Your hands get stronger. Your body grows to know the rhythms, ebbs, flows, highs, and lows. Your ear grows more refined and selective.

Practice is the act of growing what you know, of cultivating an instinctual and multi-sensory language that only you can understand.

I practice every day, and I have done so for many years. If I do not manage to play on a piano for some reason, I try to play another instrument. My ukulele and cello enrich me as much as my first love.

For those of you who might be wondering, my piano practice is built on a foundation of fingering exercises from the book, Hanon: The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises for the Piano. I have a vintage, old, and worn-out copy that I have used forever and a new one that I lend out to aspiring new pianists or for travel.  I have done these exercises so much that they feel more like meditation to me. I focus on the flow of movement of my fingers and the rest of the world fades out into the background.

I love to practice on the piano just as much as I love performing on it. Along with writing, it has served as the deeper infrastructure for all of my creative work.

I do it as constantly, vigilantly, and lovingly as possible.