Is Someone You Love Showing Signs of Suicide?

September is Suicide Prevention Month, and with quarantine approaching the six-month mark, mental health is — for some — becoming even more fragile. It is important to discuss these sensitive topics with those who have expressed or are showing signs of contemplating suicide, especially with those who were struggling before the pandemic hit. 

Being stuck inside the house with virtual communication as the main way of staying connected with friends can be hard for those who have struggled with severe depression — especially those who have and had lows that consisted of staying in bed most of the day, poor hygiene habits, and tendencies to isolate themselves from friends and family. With the emotional stress that’s been added because of the pandemic and mandated quarantine, relapses or spiraling further down a dark path can be harder to avoid. 

This article provides the following: recommendations for ways to communicate with friends and family around this topic, tips to help you understand how those with depression may be feeling, and some warning signs of suicide.

Speak with Those Close to You

Within families, many parents believe that trying to speak with their adolescent and young adult children about their moods and their feelings will only push them further away. This is a dangerous misconception. In reality, people of all ages need to know they are safe, loved, and cared for. 

Teenagers and young adults, however, may find it easier to open up to friends about their mental health. Because of the isolation that has come from quarantine, this may be less of an option now due to the barriers on communication and decreased opportunities for experiencing that person-to-person connection. That is why family communication and checking in on each other’s moods is even more important in today’s times. 

For parents, you may want to begin your conversation by asking general questions about what is going on in their life. When the time feels right, you can broach the topic of self-harm and ask if they have ever intentionally hurt themselves. This is a very sensitive topic and may be triggering to some teenagers and young adults though, especially those who have trouble opening up, so gauge their mood and only ask if it feels appropriate. If they do respond, and their answer alarms you, ask specifically if they are planning on or intending to harm themselves. 

Validate Their Feelings

Once you’ve begun this sensitive dialogue with a friend or family member, it’s important to actively listen and validate their feelings. They must really believe you are a) hearing what they’re telling you and b) recognizing the importance of what they are sharing. Try and listen without judgement. This will help them relax and open up, thereby giving you an opportunity to learn even more about their inner emotional world. 

Clarify the Situation

If someone you are close to confides they are having thoughts of suicide, it’s incredibly important that you remain calm and ask questions that will help you clarify the situation. You will want to determine more about why they mentioned suicide. Any of the following are possible:

They want to communicate to you just how bad they are feeling. 

They are alerting you to an unmet need or needs. 

They are vocalizing their desire to stop feeling so many emotions. 

They have actually planned how and when they will take their life. 

Warning Signs

The following is a list of potential warning signs of suicide:

  • Talking about feelings of hopelessness and loneliness
  • Increase in alcohol/drug dependency
  • Difficulty maintaining good hygiene and appearance
  • Giving away personal possessions
  • Discussing, reading, or writing about death more often
  • Being uncharacteristically reckless
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Any form of self harm

Seek Professional Guidance

Any talk of suicide is a serious matter and informs you that your loved one could benefit tremendously from professional guidance. It’s important not to force a family member or friend into any mental health treatment plan, but instead, allow them to help direct the course of their treatment. Sometimes depression stems from an overall feeling of lacking control in one’s life, so it is important you let them have a voice in the direction of their mental health treatment. 

It can be especially stressful for loved ones of individuals who are struggling with severe mental illness. Therefore, you may also find that you will want to speak with someone to gain emotional support and guidance through this difficult time. 

If you or a loved one is seeking treatment options, please reach out. California Women’s Therapy is a team of female psychologists who specialize in working virtually with young adults, parents, and teens during these challenging times. Couples counseling is also available. 

For more information, please reach out to Samantha at [email protected] or call (805)-244-5121.

The Return to College Amidst Covid-19

For many returning college students, late August and early September means moving back to campus, reuniting with long-distance friends, and gaining the independence that comes with leaving home. There’s nervousness and excitement in the air that signifies a new school year and new potential, but what do you do now when the start of the 2020 school year is unprecedented? 

With freshmen beginning their college journey online and returning students having to adjust to a completely new format, here are some tips that may help college students with adjusting to this drastically different school year and the complex emotions that are likely to accompany this transition. 

First-Year Students

Whether starting off their college experience at home or alone in a new environment, the 2020-2021 school year is going to be far from the year that first-year students were expecting. From campus life to social scenes to classroom environments, they will be the first cohort to enter college in this way. 

Making friends and establishing a sense of community can be hard enough in college under regular circumstances. Typically, roommates can be a sure set way to make a friend or two, but due to the pandemic, most dorms have been converted into singles. Joining clubs and Greek life can also produce lifelong friendships, but that process is not going to be the same this year either. It would be understandable to view these changes from the freshman year you had envisioned as overwhelming.

While the process of making friends and building your sense of community may be different and more unique than in past years, universities and campus organizations are still making it possible to be a part of campus life. Many social events and gatherings may be virtual for the time being, and it may take some time to adjust to this new format, but establishing a sense of community is of utmost importance in order to avoid potential feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

Returning Students

After having experienced the “normal” college experience, returning students — who know what the year could have been — can experience a very difficult time adjusting. New students have only heard about many of the aspects of college life that returning students have already experienced firsthand. Returning students may be tempted to expect things to be just like previous years or to hyper-focus on the differences between previous years and the current one.

For these individuals, it is important to avoid comparisons or the temptation to focus on “what could have been.” Remaining positive and seeing the good in the situation can help divert attention away from dwelling on the past. This school year might not look like those from the recent past, but the future still holds many kinds of experiences and potential for learning and growth of all kinds. The future also holds a return to more in-person college life, all within good time. 

All College Students

It is important to make the most of the situation with what is given. Participating in the online Zoom events that universities put on can help foster peer-to-peer connections while remaining safe. In addition, having a schedule and staying on top of classes can help establish an environment as close to a normal year as possible. 

It is up to the individual to attend their online classes, and getting behind can result in poor academics, mental health, and overall well-being. To avoid this downward spiral, remember to adjust to the pandemic regulations while maintaining otherwise normal behaviors. This will build good habits for the rest of the college experience while avoiding isolation and loneliness — which we are all susceptible to right now due to the current circumstances. 

If you do experience moderate to severe emotional distress, impairments in your daily functioning, or concerns for your mental health while adjusting to this new school year, it is important to seek professional help. 

California Women’s Therapy is a team of female psychologists who specialize in working virtually with young adults, parents, and teens during these challenging times. Couples counseling is also available. 

For more information, please reach out to Samantha at [email protected] or call (805)-244-5121.

This blog post was written by Samantha Tellefsen.

Post-Baby Disconnect? 3 Ways to Stay More Connected After Having a Baby

No matter how many times they were warned, few new parents are prepared for the life-changing event of the birth of their first child. No more sleeping in on Saturday, then heading to your favorite restaurant for brunch with friends. These leisurely activities are replaced with sleepless nights and endless diaper changes.

It’s no surprise then that many couples feel a disconnect after the birth of their first child. This is the time when focus (especially the new mom’s) very suddenly and drastically shifts towards the baby. And, since couples spend less time focused on each other’s needs, the romance and intimacy declines and resentment and anger takes its place.

Though it will take a bit of work, there are things new parents can do to ensure they stay committed to each other and the relationship while still providing their new baby with plenty of love and attention. Here are three ways you can stay more connected after having a baby.

Keep the Friendship Alive

The healthiest couples are the ones who are best friends. And it is within this friendship that intimacy is born and lives. But, when you’re both exhausted and scared and frustrated, it’s easy to see each other as the enemy.

If you want to keep the passion alive, you’ve got to focus on keeping the friendship alive. Simply try and use whatever energy you have at the end of the day to be nice to one another. Ask how their day was. Ask what needs to be done around the house. Make them laugh. Get them a beer, rub their feet. Small kindnesses will go a long, long way toward keeping you both connected.

Allow Each Other to Vent

Along with a fussy baby who seems to need something every 20 minutes (all night long), the both of you will still be dealing with other life stressors, like the commute to work, noisy neighbors, and a car that starts when it feels like it.

In order for you to feel like you’re on the same side – like you’ve got each other’s back – it’s important that you allow each other to vent about the frustrations of your day as separate from the relationship. This way you will gain each other’s support and show empathy. And, when both parties feel heard and supported, you stand a much better chance of getting rid of any unwanted tension.

Be Gentle with Each Other

When you are exhausted and at your wits end, it’s entirely too easy to take it out on each other. And, there will no doubt be plenty of times when the two of you are in disagreement about something. When this happens, be sure to always treat your partner gently, as gently as you’re treating your new baby. Staying calm and respectful will keep you connected to each other.

The biggest thing you can do to stay connected is to be aware both of each other’s needs and your own behavior. If you spend time and energy focused on creating a strong relationship, you and your partner will thrive during 3 o’clock feedings and beyond.

Some couples may find they need a therapist to help them reconnect. If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

Lifestyle Changes That Can Reduce Joint Pain

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 50 million adults are diagnosed annually with some form of chronic joint pain due to arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that with age comes aches and pains.

But joint pain does NOT have to be inevitable. In fact, some joint pain is a result of lifestyle choices, such as poor diet and lack of exercise.

This, of course, means you can effectively make certain lifestyle changes that can reduce joint pain and improve function. Here are some ideas to get you started down a path of less pain and stiffness:

Maintain a Healthy Weight

According to The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), obesity is one of the most common diseases that affect bone and joint health. Losing weight not only relieves pressure on your joints, but it can also reduce joint degeneration.

Get Regular Exercise

Obviously, exercise can help you lose weight, but there are other benefits to moving your body. Regular exercise increases strength and flexibility, which is important for joint health. Now, depending on the severity of your joint pain, certain exercises may be off the table. For severe pain, consider walking, biking, and swimming as these exercises are gentle on your joints.

Eat a Healthy Diet

There are two phases to eating a healthy diet:

  • Phase 1 – Eliminate processed foods that are high in refined sugars and trans fats. These cause inflammation throughout the body that causes joints to be stiff and painful.
  • Phase 2 – Eat more foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation in the body. These foods include fatty fish, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Quit Smoking

Smoking prohibits your body from healing itself and also reduces blood flow. This makes it hard for your joints to recover from injuries and inflammation. Not only will quitting smoking help joint pain, but it will also improve your overall health as well.

Seek Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic is often used as a complement to conventional treatments for joint pain. Chiropractic adjustments can reduce the restrictions or misalignments in your spine and other joints. One study found that adjustments helped normalize inflammation for individuals suffering from low back pain.

Joint pain can also sometimes come from poor posture and spinal alignment, and chiropractors can help you solve that issue as well.

If you suffer from joint pain and would like to explore chiropractic care, please call our office. We’ll be more than happy to discuss how adjustment might finally bring you some relief.



How to Help Your Teen Cope with Back-to-School Stress

It’s almost fall, which means store shelves — and virtual shopping carts — are stocked with low-priced notebooks, markers, and glue. Soon the familiar break hiss of school buses will be heard in neighborhoods across the country as some of our children head physically back to school. Yet, others will be “returning” to school virtually this fall. The transition back to school can be a tricky one for some students, and it’s likely the back-to-school transition of 2020 will be an extra challenging one.

While some kids begrudge alarm clocks and mountains of homework, most still look forward to the new school year. Typically, a new school year is a chance to enjoy new friendships and extra-curricular activities, but many of those opportunities may now be absent due to the current pandemic. 

Moreover, some children have a real fear of going back to school. They may worry about grades, fitting in, peer pressure, potential bullying, or even school violence. Under regular circumstances, some teens have trouble coping with social pressure, while others feel overwhelmed at what they will be expected to learn and those mountains of homework. How will this all play out for the 2020-2021 school year? For so many of us, uncertainty leads to increased stress. 

If your child is feeling stressed at the thought of beginning a new school year (either online, in-person, or in a mixed format), here are some ways you can help:

Ask Them What’s on Their Mind

Some kids might voluntarily share any worries they have about starting school, but many won’t. If your child does not volunteer this information, ask them directly how they’re feeling about school starting up again. 

Older kids and teenagers often shut down when questioned about, well, anything really. So try to make a leading statement like, “Being able to sleep in longer while school is online might be cool. But I am guessing there is stuff you might not be looking forward to…” Then wait for a response. 

If they don’t respond, try again the next day. Eventually, they will open up to you, and when they do, the important thing is not to say the exact right thing but to simply listen, show interest and concern, and never judge. 

Get Them Involved

To some children, summer means freedom and being able to make more choices for themselves, while school means having little (or no) control over their day-to-day lives. To help counter this feeling, get your kids involved in decision-making at the very beginning. 

Hold a “going back to school” family meeting specific to their current school situation, and make sure there are no media distractions like smartphones or TVs on in the background. Discuss the year ahead, plan and set schedules for meals, homework, sports, school activities (if permitted with Coronavirus), and bedtime. Write these plans down and stick a copy on the fridge or another location your family sees often each day. 

Talk About Bullying

Kids of all ages worry about bullying, so it is important to bring up the topic. You could make a simple statement like, “Bullying is really common, and it’s never OK, nor is it the victim’s fault when it happens. If anything happens to you or you see it happen to someone you know, I want you to tell me about it. We can make a plan together about how to handle it.” Sadly, those attending school virtually are not immune from bullying. Cyber bullying continues to be an unfortunately reality in our society. 

There are also those who worry about starting school because they have issues with anxiety and/or depression. These children and teens need help from a professional therapist who can uncover where the root issues are coming from and offer tools and resources for coping in the real world. 

California Women’s Therapy is a team of female psychologists who specialize in working virtually with both parents and teens during these challenging times. Couples counseling is also available. 

For more information about available services, please reach out to Samantha at [email protected] or call (805)-244-5121.

This blog post was written by Samantha Tellefsen.

Get Some Sleep! 5 Tips for Busting Through Your Insomnia

If you find yourself struggling to fall or stay asleep, you’re not alone. Insomnia, the chronic inability to get sufficient sleep, is a common problem affecting millions of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2014 study, more than a third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep on a daily basis.

With a lack of sleep at the root of serious medical conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease, getting a decent amount of sleep on a regular basis is crucial to a long and healthy life. Here are five things you can do to change your routine and start getting to, and staying, asleep.

1. Just Two Things in Bed
Make sure that your bed is used only for two things: sex and sleep. By using your bed almost exclusively for sleep, your body will associate your bed with rest and relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep.

2. Exercise Regularly
Getting regular exercise (the recommended thirty minutes a day, five days a week) will help you promote healthy sleep habits. Your post-exercise temperature may promote falling asleep, and exercise in general will help eliminate insomnia by decreasing arousal and anxiety.

3. Naps, Caffeine, & Alcohol
Short naps are helpful for some, but for others it impacts their ability to fall asleep. If you’re struggling with insomnia, avoid naps during the day. Caffeine, a known stimulant, may keep you up longer than you’re aware. You may need to avoid caffeine entirely if it prevents you from falling asleep. And, while alcohol is a sedative, it can disrupt your sleep; so if you have trouble staying asleep, avoid alcohol.

4. No Screens Before Bedtime
Screen time, such as computers, smart phones and television, prevent you from falling asleep due to cognitive stimulation. Too much light at bedtime affects your melatonin production, giving your body the impression that its staying awake, not ready for sleep. Help your body get ready for sleep by eliminating screen time at least two hours before bed.

5. Create a Nighttime Routine
Creating a regular nighttime routine will help your body get into the habit of winding down and relaxing as it prepares for sleep. Create a nighttime routine an hour or two before bed. Maybe have a glass of warm milk, brush your teeth, change into your pajamas and read a book every night before bed. Make sure you go to bed around the same time every night too, including weekends.

Changing old habits and establishing a new routine is never easy. But as you make changes and sustain new practices, it will get easier. Before long you’ll have a new set of healthy habits, and you can finally settle in for a good night’s sleep.

Are you struggling with insomnia and need help maintaining healthy sleep habits? A licensed professional can help. Call my office today and let’s schedule an appointment to talk.

Ergonomic Tips for Continuing to Work from Home After Coronavirus

Many of us have found ourselves working from home because of the coronavirus. And while the country has slowly begun to open back up, threats of a “second wave” have emerged, which means a majority of us could be working from home for the foreseeable future.

Working from home may be helping us all save on gas expenses, but it sure is putting a crimp in many backs and necks! That’s because many people working from home did not have a dedicated home office to begin with. And so we find ourselves working in less than ideal ergonomic situations as we work on sofas, bookshelves and on top of our beds.

With this in mind, here are some ergonomic tips to help your body feel more comfortable working from home:

Use a Separate Monitor

Looking down all day at your laptop screen can really hurt your neck. You ideally want to be looking straight ahead. If you have a desktop home computer, use this instead of your laptop as it will help you look straight ahead while working. If you don’t, consider getting a monitor that you can attach to your laptop so you can keep your head elevated.

External Keyboards and Mouse

If another larger monitor is not within your budget, consider getting an external wireless keyboard and mouse. This will allow you to use your laptop as a monitor and raise it using a laptop riser or stack of books while you type and control the screen separately.

Invest in a Better Chair

You ideally want a chair that offers cushioning and is height adjustable. Keep in mind you get what you pay for. While not everyone can afford a $1600 Aeron chair, suitable ones can be purchased for $200 – $300. Also, keep in mind that work-related chairs and desks are tax-deductible.

Move Your Body

Your body shouldn’t be seated all day long. It’s important to get up every half hour and move around. Do some stretching and take some nice deep breaths. If you get easily caught up in your work, then use an app reminder such as UP or Stand Up.

Visit a Chiropractor

If, after following these guidelines, your body still feels sore, it may be time to visit your local chiropractor. They will be able to tailor a program to deal with your specific physical issues.

If you are in the area and would like to work with a chiropractor to get your body feeling better, give us a call or stop by our office. We can tailor a treatment plan for your specific needs.



How to Cope with the Stress and Anxiety Caused by COVID-19

If you’re like most people, you are doing your best to stay calm during COVID-19 pandemic. But that can feel incredibly difficult at times. When not worrying about friends and loved one’s health, there’s also the conflicting information provided by the media and the economic ramifications of the virus that have people on edge.

Signs of Emotional Distress and 6 Ways to Cope

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, but most will exhibit some of the following signs:

  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

If you are experiencing significant stress right now, here are some ways you can cope:

1. Limit Media Consumption

Hearing the media constantly spread panic isn’t good for anyone. It’s important to stay rational and do your own research to uncover facts from fiction as well as stay positive.

2. Nurture Your Body and Spirit

Be sure to get outside for some fresh air and go for a walk. Eat right and make sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep. Avoid consuming too much alcohol and try and find fun ways to reconnect with your family.

3. Tap into Your Sense of Fun

If you have kids, look to them for some good old-fashioned playtime. Play hide and seek in the house. Create an obstacle course in the back yard. Watch some of your favorite funny movies. Laughter really is the best medicine so get plenty of it!

4. Support Your Local Community

Many local businesses are hurting right now. If you’re still getting a paycheck, consider buying a gift card from a local restaurant, gym, hair salon, etc. to give them revenue now and you can use the card later. This will make you feel great at the same time.

5. Be a Role Model

Remember, your kids will ALWAYS look to you first to see how they should be thinking and feeling about something. So move about each day calmly and confidently and reassure your kids everything will be okay because it will be.

6. Use Your Time Constructively

For many of us, there is a silver lining in this situation in the form of extra time. What can you do with the extra time that isn’t being used to drive an hour or more each day in commuting? Focus on using this time wisely. Maybe you have an ever-growing list of home projects that you just never have time to tackle. Tackle them now, you’ll feel great about it later.


If you find yourself becoming too stressed or depressed during this time, I encourage you to connect with me. Speaking with a therapist can help you cope with the situation and navigate the days ahead. I am currently able to conduct sessions over the phone or via Skype, so you won’t even have to leave your home if your state is in lockdown.


5 Foods to Keep Your Immune System Strong

As the events of COVID-19 continue to unfold, many of us are focusing on how we can keep ourselves and our families as healthy as possible. While social distancing and increased hand washing can be very effective at stopping the spreading of the Corona virus, it is equally important to keep our immune systems strong.

With this in mind, here are some of the absolute best foods you can eat to help support your immune system:

1. Blueberries

Blueberries are loaded with powerful antioxidants. In fact, they contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can boost your immune system. A 2016 study found that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system. The researchers found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get sick with respiratory tract infections and the common cold.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric is the aromatic spice that makes curry yellow. It is also often used in alternative medicine thanks to its active compound curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to improve a person’s immune response because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

3. Spinach

Popeye knew that spinach would help him be stronger. But I wonder if he knew how good it was for his immune system. Spinach contains vitamin C & E, as well as beneficial flavonoids and carotenoids. Not only are vitamin C & E great for the immune system, but research shows flavonoids may help prevent common colds in otherwise healthy people. So, it stands to reason it may help protect against other viruses as well.

4. Citrus Fruits

Most of us, when we feel an illness coming on, reach for more vitamin C-rich foods. But what is it about vitamin C specifically that makes it so good for our immune systems?

Vitamin C is believed to increase the production of white blood cells. These are the cells responsible for attacking foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses.

Some popular citrus fruits high in vitamin C include:

  • grapefruit
  • oranges
  • tangerines
  • lemons
  • limes
  • clementines

Unlike other animals whose bodies do produce vitamin C, humans must get their vitamin C from the foods they eat or through supplementation. So be sure to add more citrus fruits to your diet.

5. Red Bell Peppers

We can’t talk about vitamin C without mentioning that ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain even more vitamin C than most citrus fruits. So if you prefer veggies to fruits, then be sure to eat more red bell peppers.

While this is not an exhaustive list of immune-boosting foods, it will get you started eating right so you can stay healthy during this pandemic. It’s also important to stay hydrated and eliminate sugars and trans fats from your diet as well.


20 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is all over the news and is impacting our lives in many ways. Here in California (as well as many other states and countries), people are “sheltering in place” and “safer at home.” Schools are closed, many businesses are closed, and many of the people who do still have jobs are now working from home.

It should come as no surprise that this has triggered significant anxiety and fear, especially for those with preexisting mental health challenges. Many individuals who were already struggling with anxiety, depression, or chronic stress are now experiencing an intensification of their symptoms. And some people are experiencing heightened anxiety for the first time.

Common mental health symptoms associated with the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic:

  • Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Changes in appetite (reduced appetite or increased “stress eating”)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased mood swings (including irritability, anger, etc.)
  • Increased misuse of mood-altering substances (alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs)

Here are 20 tips for coping with the anxiety and stress triggered by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic:

(1) Limit the amount of time you spend watching the news or reading about this topic, and only seek information about what’s happening from reliable sources.

(2) Get enough sleep

(3) Stay physically active and exercise regularly

(4) Focus on nutrition

(5) Stay well hydrated

(6) Practice deep breathing

(7) Try meditation

(8) Listen to relaxing music

(9) Read something unrelated to current events

(10) Limit your caffeine intake

(11) Create something

(12) Avoid turning to alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs as a means of emotional coping

(13) Read or watch things that make you laugh

(14) Focus on planning for the future after this crisis has passed.

(15) Speak regularly with loved ones and friends (phone calls, texts, live video, emails and social media are all great options).

(16) Seek out positive stories of others helping those in need.

(17) Find ways to help others stay safe and healthy during this time.

(18) Spend time in sunlight when and where possible.

(19) Journal about your thoughts and feelings.

(20) Share your feelings openly with the people you trust.

If you’d like accountability in implementing these strategies or are in need of additional support, please know that we’re here to help remotely (through live video or telephone). Our initial consultations are always free.