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Encounter

Come and See: Lent 2019

March 6, 2019

“Every year the Church proposes this time to us as an opportunity to look at our lives, at our days, and for each of us to ask ourselves, “Am I following Jesus inside the story in which He presented himself to me? From what signs do I see that I am following Him?” (https://english.clonline.org/cm-files/2019/02/28/carrón-soc-notes-2-20-2019-final-watermark-pdf.pdf)

And with that, Lent is upon us once more. I don’t even know where the time has gone. Maybe the time just evaporated. More likely, I wasn’t paying attention and now here we are.

I’ve noticed that Lent can become a bit of a contest amongst my catholic friends. Who can give up more? Who can add more? You aren’t fasting (News Flash- NO, I am not, actually. I am 7.5 months pregnant I don’t have to fast)?! All of these things so often leaving me feeling like I am less of a Christian for not having some big ole master plan to turn into a Desert Father and be hermit for 40 days while living on bugs and honey and wearing a shirt made out of hair.

So Lent rolls around this year and I have to ask myself- what am I missing? What is the greater point of this beautifully desolate season we are embarking on?

As I was reading through the notes for School of Community (SoC), this line struck me to my core (the link above will take you to the full notes if you’d like to read them as well!).

Am I following Jesus inside the story He presented Himself to me? From what signs do I see that I am following Him?

With these questions I began to wonder if how I saw Lent has been wrong all along anyways. It’s not about giving up chocolate or Facebook. Sure, these things are good sacrifices, and when our time spent aimlessly scrolling through social media becomes filled with moments of encountering the living Christ they become well worth it.

But if I give up social media, am I really spending the hour per day that my phone says I am on my social media apps in quiet prayer? If I give up food am I really turning that back on itself and thinking of God? Or am I sitting there pissed off that I can’t have the dark chocolate because I gave it up for Lent? Worse still, do I feel that God is going to kick me to the curb if I do eat the chocolate or check my Instagram account?

Since the New Year I have been trying to establish healthy habits before my daughter gets here. Making sure the kitchen is clean before I go to bed. Doing the laundry before the pile becomes a tripping hazard. Brushing my teeth for two full minutes, morning and evening. Journalling the things I am grateful for every evening. Eating three square meals a day.

And yet, not one of these things has been a thing to increase my time spent with God. They are things that bring me peace, and ultimately allow me to be a better person. But they don’t specifically scream THIS IS TIME SET ASIDE FOR GOD.

My husband and I were chatting about Lent and what we wanted to do to help us strengthen our spiritual habits before the baby gets here. And I tossed around a lot of ideas. Hell- I even said morning prayer this morning because I saw it sitting on my end table and thought- why not (and low key- I really enjoyed being back in the psalms, as I always do)?

But then I come back to this question: Am I following Jesus inside the story He has presented Himself to me? And I realize that this lent is so very important for me as a person.

Jesus is with me in the piles of boxes that show me just how loved my daughter is. Jesus is with me in the 4th load of laundry, ensuring I get my steps in for the day because I have to keep going up and down to get everything situated. Jesus is with me in the late night editing of my thesis. Jesus is in my instagram feed- where we celebrate each other, and add more beauty to a dark and scary world. Jesus is in each text message I send, making sure someone knows just how loved they are.

How easily I had forgotten that He is there. The point of this whole love story in which He has presented Himself to me is that He is always with me. He is with me in the mess, He is with me in the trenches. He has never abandoned me, and I have never had to do this alone. How easily I had forgotten that I am not a one woman show. I was not meant to take on the weight of the world, and all I had to do was remember that He was there to take on most of the burden for me.

So this Lent, I am recommitting to finding Jesus in every moment of my day. I am promising to remember that I am not alone, and that He wants to be there with me. I am not giving something up. I am not adding in more than I can handle. I am simply going to remember that He is here, and that my life needs to be a living, breathing testament to this fact. I am going to spend more time being grateful, and make sure that everything I do is a resounding “Come and See” about the guy that makes my life as beautiful as it is.

Lifestyle

Smash The Snow Globe

March 4, 2019

Honestly, not even gonna lie to you- the Monday following a retreat is actually the worst kind of day you will every encounter. As a kid, it usually means you didn’t shower for a whole weekend and ate too many Doritos and now have to go sit in a desk all day and listen to your teachers talk about The Battle of the Bulge. #TooReal am I right?

But the Monday after a retreat as an adult is a whole different ball game. Your back probably hurts from sleeping over on an ice cold gym floor, your stomach is probably all messed up from aforementioned Doritos and you find yourself trying to keep your eyes open as you stare at a computer screen all day responding to whatever crisis hits that day.

I’ll take it even a step further and tell you that after hosting a weekend 30 weeks pregnant I feel like I may have been hit by a truck. My feet are sore. My body is physically exhausted. My stomach is all jacked up from tater tots and tacos.

But I wouldn’t trade it. There is something immensely beautiful about interacting with people who are seeking something more.

More often then not, we live in our own small universes, that in my mind equate to snow globes. We all have our own scenes, and we all like to see the glitter fall down in front of us and everything is cozy and pretty in our own little scenes.

But there comes a point in our existence, where these isolated little worlds (as pretty and comfortable as they are), cease to be enough. We realize there is more to life because when the glitter settles, we can see that there is something beyond the curved glass. There is something there that would be better than what we have here.

With immense courage, we find the strength to knock over our snow globes in the hope that our world’s will be opened just a little bit bigger.

But sometimes, what we don’t anticipate is just how big the world around us is. After we have lost the comfort of our own universe, the real world can be a little bit scary. Our opinions are challenged, and our lives can be completely turned upside down in a matter of seconds.

It takes a deep and profound courage to press forward anyways. To move out of our comfort zones and look to make ourselves better people.

Every time I attend a retreat weekend, I find myself meeting people from all different walks of life who are trying to do just this thing. And as exhausted as I am from this weekend, I am also so very grateful to have found more people striving to live a more real and more authentic life.

This journey is not easy, but it is far better when you don’t have to go it alone.

And if this weekend reminded me of anything (aside from the fact that… you know I’m pregnant and probably shouldn’t be on my feet for 12 hours in a day) its that you are never alone on this journey.

Be brave. Smash your snow globe. Things are infinitely better on this side of the glass.

The world is a big and beautiful place, just waiting for you to make your mark.

Dear Twenty-Something

You Are Not Alone

January 12, 2019

11 January 2019

Dear Twenty-Something,

“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy. But remember this, you have friends here. You are not alone.” -Albus Dumbledore

These are strange times we live in. Like sheep heading to the slaughter, we blindly absorb news, often forgetting to question what the full story is, and failing to see the person behind the headline.

We live in a society where it is permitted to fire first and aim later, not even stopping to make sure that what we are saying is true. This in turn leads to a vicious cycle of reading things that may or may not be true, and forming an opinion on this weird maybe truth and then firing off our own responses. Down the rabbit hole we go, through many degrees of separation until this game of telephone we are playing is so utterly nonsensical that we have lost sight of the basic art of fact checking.

It is easy to shy away from the difficult topics. It is easy to find an opinion that seems okay enough and latch on to it without giving it much thought.

Behind the safety of a screen, we become the greatest of warriors, somehow ready to demolish anything in our paths. When someone does not agree with us, we are quick to tear them down. With spiteful words spewing from fingertips, Twitter becomes a war zone, and emails become verifiable howlers.

Where is the logic? Where is the intellect? How, Dear Twenty-Something, have we let it come this far?

Have your opinion. Build a store of facts that back up that opinion. Listen to someone who has an opposing opinion. Argue for the sake of truth, not the sake of your ego. And if someone comes to you with a fuller version of the truth, reevaluate where you stand and embrace the truth. After all, thats what you were arguing for, right?

Now is the time to do what is right. Have a real, intellectual conversation, and question everything until you know for certain that you have the fullness of truth. Don’t stop at one article, and please, vet your sources.

I believe in you. You will change the world. And I will be right here to cheer you on, have the conversations, and seek truth with you. You are not alone.

-S

Lifestyle

2019: The Year of the Simple Resolution

December 31, 2018

Today is the day! The day that the new calendars are busted open, empty pages just waiting to be filled with all of the new dreams, plans and adventures ahead. Today is the day we scribble down lists of our hopes and dreams, things we want to eliminate and things we want to be better about. Frantically we wonder- is there something else I should be doing? Is there something out there that will make me better?

For a long time I railed against resolutions. No one ever seems to keep them, and they always seem to center around losing weight, eating differently, or forcing oneself to become something completely different. These are not intrinsically bad things to do- but those things always put a lot of pressure on me, and when I couldn’t keep up made me feel like a failure.

2018 was a crazy year. I nearly finished my Masters Degree (just three more months to go… hollah at ya girl!). I spent time with family in Texas during Fiesta, soaking in the beautiful culture and eating the best bean and cheese tacos I have ever experienced. I spent time with family on a boat, celebrating 30 years of marriage with crazy awesome food and wine, and some of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen. I successfully threw a surprise 30th birthday party… and a few days later received the greatest gift of my life- the news that I would be having a baby in May of 2019. I celebrated weddings. I spent time with my grandparents. I found a community in a cherished podcast. I took up spin class. I dealt with morning sickness and extreme fatigue. I finished my fall semester with a 4.0. I got an internship with a local non-profit organization.

But by far the biggest news of all was learning I was having a daughter. I know that if I was having a baby boy, my life would have been utterly changed for the better as well, but knowing I will be bringing a girl into this world shook me to my core. I have so many dreams for her- dreams of a world where she is treated equally to her male counterparts, dreams of a world where she is loved and cherished just the way she is, dreams of a world where the comparison and shaming stop, and dreams of a world where she makes a difference.

Two weeks ago I learned I would be having a daughter, and I realized that all those dreams, start with me. In order to make those dreams a reality, I need to start seeing them to fruition in my own life. I don’t need to compare myself to others, because where I am right now is the best place I have ever been. I don’t need to be ashamed of my body because it is healthy, and works the way it should, and even if I never did get rid of my love handles before I got pregnant, and the stretch marks would indicate they are only getting larger, my body is perfect because it is giving my beautiful little girl the nourishment she needs, and a safe place to call home until I welcome her into my home on this side of the universe. I can make a difference by sharing joy, opening my heart and home to foster community, and trying to make the world a little better each day that I get to exist in it. I can embrace the quirks that make me, me and stop apologizing for being exactly who I am.

As 2019 rolls around, I am making a resolution this year, that I truly hope to stick to. I am going to embrace the things that make me unapologetically me, and make sure I am making time to foster those things. I want my daughter to know that she is loved and supported, and that even just 10 minutes out of her day spent for her is well worth it. This year, I am going to make sure I make time every morning for my morning meditation- carving out the time to read the daily readings, and to thank God for another day to do good in this world. I am going to spend a few minutes each night reflecting on the day, and recording it in the beautiful journal my sister bought me for Christmas, so that I can start and end my day with gratitude. And finally, I am going to come back to the blog for real. I have made so many excuses of late- oh but school, work, the pregnancy… but I miss this space and this community more than I realized. And it is important to me that I can be here to share in your lives and your experiences because they make me a better person.

Cheers to 2019 sweet friends! I want to hear all of your goals, hopes and dreams for this new year, and I want to know what your game plan is for accomplishing it.

Dear Twenty-Something

Hope is Rising

November 10, 2018

9 November 2018

Dear Twenty- Something,

“Dare to have faith that man is capable of humanity.”- taken from the prayers said during the Seder Meal

Again you turned on the news this week to a startling feeling of equal parts outrage and heart break. Memories came flooding back and you started to feel that maybe hoping just isn’t worth it after all.

Will things ever change? Could things even get better? How did this become the new normal? How can you turn on the television, or open your instagram account and see this day in and day out? What has happened to our world?

Nobody listens to each other, constantly trying to scream over the other, eliminating peace and forcing more turmoil.

And then you turn on the news again and are faced with that pit in your stomach, the overwhelming dread.

But there are quiet rumblings. People younger than you saying: enough is enough. You may feel that your voice can’t be heard over the cacophony,but one day soon, those quiet rumblings will not only become louder, but will drown out the current fighting.

Do you feel it? Hope is rising. Keep doing your part. Keep raising your voice. But most importantly do not lose sight of that hope that is rising from the ashes.

Dare to have faith that man is capable of humanity.

-S

 

Lifestyle

Don’t Wait to Love Yourself

November 6, 2018

This one goes out to all my girlfriends out there. In the spirit of keeping it real I want to dive right into a sensitive subject. Let’s talk about body image. Gosh even just typing those words sent a shiver down my spine.

You know, most women that I know could instantly point out the things about their body that they don’t like. My hair is too stratight. My hair is too curly. My teeth are not white enough. My face is covered in acne. My butt is too flat. What abs? If I work out a little extra, if I go on this special diet… the list goes on and on.

I was not immune to these lines of thought. As I started learning how to have a better relationship with food- viewing it as fuel for my body, and not something to just munch on when I was bored, or something to avoid to lose weight, I began to appreciate my body a little more. Then I started to work out, and I began to appreciate how strong my body actually was- I was capable of so much more than I thought I was! I was spinning three days a week, I was eating a mostly Paleo diet and I was feeling strong, confident and beautiful.

Right around this time I started gaining this confidence, my husband and I started talking about what it would be like to have a baby (SPOILER: I am writing this post nearly 14 weeks pregnant =p ). I have always known I was made to be a mother. I have known since I was a little girl, pushing bitty twins in a double jogging stroller that I wanted to be just like my mom, raising strong and good people to make this world a better place. So after nearly three years of marriage, this conversation seemed only natural.

But as we started having that conversation, those thoughts that I just had overcome started to come back. What if I gain too much weight? What if all the weight goes to my love handles? What if I get stretch marks? What if I get grey hairs? What if my hair texture changes completely? What if I get acne? OMG what if I get stray hairs on my chin that I have to pluck?

Then we got pregnant. And the first three months were no walk in the park. I was sick every night. I had dark circles under my eyes. I couldn’t use face wash because it turned my face as red as a tomato. I was now going to be doomed to acne (insert major dread here). I was bloated and none of pants fit. I found three grey hairs. AND there definitely are stray hairs on my chin that I have to pluck (LOL). WHAT IF I GET STRETCHMARKS?!

As we’ve gotten further along in the pregnancy, I am carrying all my weight in my love handles and backside. I stopped wearing pants because I couldn’t bear to keep buying bigger sizes. I had to buy all new undergarments because my body is growing in ways I didn’t know it could. I just recently had to take a break from the workout I love so much because the muscles that hold everything together are stretching so much and so rapidly that they hurt when I stand up too quickly.

And you know what the most surprising thing is to me? I am the happiest I have ever been. I could absolutely care less about gaining weight, unruly pimples on my upper lip and the side of my nose or those stray hairs I have to pluck. I haven’t found any stretchmarks yet, but I am sure they are coming, and I am ready to welcome them with open arms.

My body is physically housing another human right now. It not only created a human from scratch, but is now letting it have the space for the next 5 months to grow and get stronger and come into this world as a little human that we can hold and love.

My body is now the body of a superhero. Seriously. It is ridiculously awesome that I am actually growing another person inside of me right now. And if it takes gaining weight, and earning some tiger stripes along the way, I am happy to do that.

I am in awe of my body and all of the ways it is growing and changing. It’s amazing that it took me all these years and a completely life altering event to finally truly appreciate this body that I have been given. I only wish I could have loved and appreciated my body sooner.

If you’re reading this and you’re in the phase of wanting to change something about your body, I want to encourage you to look in the mirror and find one thing about your amazing body that you can love right now. Loving yourself is a life long process, but start today! Don’t wait.

You are amazing. If I am the only person to tell you that today, I hope it sinks in. You are truly, utterly, amazing.

Lifestyle

Happy Halloween! We are Having a Baby!

October 31, 2018

Wow! I cannot believe today is finally here. I feel like I have been waiting for this day for ages.

In August, I threw Sean a surprise 30th birthday party. If you know me in real life, you know that secrets are NOT my forte. I can’t even keep a Christmas present a surprise for very long. But I planned a big ole party and people flew in from across the country, all to celebrate and love Sean! It was a great success, and that love is something I will remember for the rest of my life.

Not long after his party, we found out we were going to have a baby! I wish I could tell you that this was all romantic and involved us sitting together waiting for the countdown to end like you see in all those commercials. But actually, I really didn’t think I was pregnant, and the Frontier guy was at my house fixing something for my TV when I took the test (I can see the story now- Once Upon a Time, while a nice stranger was making sure I could watch Grey’s Anatomy, I found out you existed… you know, maybe I’ll actually write that story some day =p). Imagine my surprise when It came up with that tiny life changing word: pregnant. That ain’t no etcha sketch…That’s one doodle that can’t be undid home slice! A side note- due to the fact that I have been charting my cycle for 4.5 years, we knew about this little babe 2-4 weeks sooner than most people even find out they’re pregnant. If you want to know more about this really cool process, message me, and I can put you in touch with some incredible people who really know what they are talking about!

Sean had coincidentally forgotten something he needed at work, so I ran to TJ Maxx and got the cutest little honest company diapers, and the most hipster onesie I could find and I drove down to where he works and told him I had one last birthday gift for him. The look on his face when he saw the diapers is not one I will soon forget.

Every moment has just been such a beautiful blessing so far. Now look, don’t get me wrong- I have been feeling awful. I easily sleep 10-12 hours a night. I was having pretty rough “morning sickness” (ummm hello that’s a really awful misnomer because I didn’t get sick until the late night which made sleeping really hard lol). But thank God for modern medicine, and for the very kind nursing staff at Candlewoood Medical Group. I swear I call them at least once a week with the dumbest questions ever and they do not ever miss a beat and even thank me for calling them. Makes me feel awesome rather than stupid for calling.

As we’ve told family and friends our wonderful news, I have been incredibly overwhelmed by the amount of LOVE that already exists for this tiny peanut that is growing inside of me. My mind is blown. We have had nothing but hugs and tears and big cheers of congrats. Everyone deserves this kind of love every single day.

We were so excited when we found out that we were going to be pregnant during Halloween season because it was on my bucket list to dress up as Juno while being pregnant. Imagine my surprise when Sean actually suggested we announce like that! I was thrilled!

This baby is everthing we have hoped for, dreamed for, worked for and prayed for. Three years ago when we said I do, we knew that this is where our life was heading, and I could not be more honored or excited to start this journey.

Quick stats:

  • Baby has already been to TWO concerts: Sir Elton John and the amazing Joe Pug.
  • Starting at around 5Pm the baby gets all jumpy and when I lay down I swear I can feel he or she moving because something is definitely tickling my completely empty bladder.
  • I have completely given up on pants. They just aren’t worth it. Leggings are my absolute best friend, and thank God it’s fall and I get to wear them with tunics and swearters and scarves and boots. It’s glorious.
  • My first craving was for egg rolls. My second craving was cinnamon dolce coffee. I am currently drinking peppermint mocha coffee and it’s honestly delicious. This is a far departure from my usual dark coffee with plain half and half in it lol.

I am so looking forward to this advent season- to share with Mary the quiet excitement of being pregnant and having a tiny soul to cherish.

If you read all of this, thank you for walking this journey with me. I have missed writing, and now that the secret is out, I can’t wait to start again. And I can’t wait to see how becoming a mom helps me to grow and change into the person I was always meant to be.

 

(Still looking normal)

 

(YES! I still spin- leaving for morning workout here)

 

(Grow baby Grow! I can’t believe I have changed even since this picture just one week ago!)

 

 

 

Lifestyle

A Broken Yet Beautiful World

October 9, 2018

Man. What a time to be alive. I have recently taken to watching Good Morning America every morning as I drink my coffee and do my morning meditation. Depending on what my day looks like, I may fold a basket of laundry while watching live with Kelly and Ryan afterwards.

This new routine helps me to start my day on a little bit of a slower pace, and often points be toward the one or two hopeful news stories that are floating around in the world. Boy do I feel like I need that right now.

All day, every day, my newsfeed is full of people battling each other over incredibly important issues. There is a deep, dark beauty in these feuds as I watch people stand up for what they believe in at all costs. I think there is something really beautiful about seeing the need for change, and the raw, unbridled power that it unleashes in people’s hearts. The storm of change is brewing, and ready or not, this world we live in is going to undergo a radical reconstruction.

But so often in the heated discussions and one terrible headline after another, I begin to lose sight of the fact that this world, though broken and desolate, is still beautiful.

I find it so easy to forget that this world, though scary and imbalanced at times also breeds goodness and hope. I can focus on the negative. It would be easy. Or I can dig my heels in a little deeper and look for the goodness, beauty and truth that lies there just below the surface.

I choose to see the people in my newsfeed as warriors against injustice; injustice that runs ramapant in our society. I choose only to engage when it is something that I truly have taken the time to research and have an educated opinion about. I try always to use kind and non attacking language.

I take heated conversations out of the ring of the newsfeed and in to a real life conversation- over coffee, or dinner or in a private message if only a virtual friend. I keep an open mind, and an open heart, listening for the full story when talking. I am always searching for the truth and when someone has clear eveidence towards the truth that contradicts what I know, I thank them for opening my eyes. It is only in being willing to learn that any change actually happens.

And in each of these encounters, I have become a better person. I have seen the light, beauty and goodness that my friends have to offer. I have grown into a person that I am proud to be. Open, willing to change, willing to learn and constantly striving for a better baseline.

And this, sweet friends is a beautiful thing. Even the darkness and destruction of our current society can give birth to something good. I just need to remember not to forget it.

Keep on fighting the good fight. The world needs more people like you.

Dear Twenty-Something

A Built in Season of Change

September 28, 2018

29 September 2018

Dear Twenty-Something,

“He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

I want you to stop, for just a moment. Stop to breathe in the crisp, chilly air that so rapidly descended upon you.

As the days grow shorter, and the leaves begin to change, take a second to embrace all of the ways your life is changing in this season.

Go back to the things that make you happy. I know your time is precious and you feel like you have to schedule every hour of your day to make sure you get everything done, but make time for those things anyways. It is worth it. YOU are worth it.

Take at least one day a week to move a little slower. Don’t think of the 100 things you have to get done. Choose three things, and complete these tasks deliberately.

Get out the Halloween decorations. I know you haven’t seen them in a while, and it seems like a silly thing to do on a Friday evening, but do it. Your soul will thank you for the small addition of beauty to your routine.

Light the candle. Make the soup. Wear the slippers. Drink the hot cocoa. Embrace every stereotype even if it makes you #basic.

How lucky are we, that a season that revolves around change comes built into the calendar year. If the world around you can embrace these lovely moments, then you, sweet friend, can too.

Adventure awaits in this season of changes if only you are brave enough to look for it.

-S

PS- go get your flu shot. It takes two seconds and is probably worth it.

Encounter

Your Life is a Gift

June 6, 2018

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” – Mr. Rogers

We live in a world that is in turmoil.

It seems like every day, we hear of someone else that we looked up to succumbing to addiction, peer pressure and darkness.

The news is full of unspeakable horrors that happen so frequently they seem common place.

Yet we live in a time where Mental Illness is still stigmatized, and often times, it causes feelings of great shame to ask for help.

Last year, I was involved in youth ministry when 13 Reasons Why was released. Having read the book a decade earlier as a high school freshman myself,  I was surprised to see the book brought to the “big” screen. I plugged through the 13 heart wrenching episodes so that the people I was working with would have someone to discuss the show, their feelings, and their life with.

I thought the story was complete, and as gruesome as it was, I felt it provided many talking points, and a common starting ground to open the door to those really difficult conversations.

But then 13 Reasons Why Season 2 came out. I debated whether or not I would watch this most reason season. People were saying it was even darker than the first season, and that it was difficult to watch.

Let me go ahead and confirm that:  it is difficult to watch. If you haven’t already watched it, and are planning to watch it, this is me encouraging you to watch it in a safe environment, with your parents, an older sibling, or someone you love and trust.

Mental Illness shows no bias. It can affect anyone. In fact, it most likely affects someone you know and love.

It may even be affecting you. 

In a time when the world seems dark, we need more people like you in it. We need the gifts and talents that you alone give to this world.

You are important.

You are loved.

You are Irreplaceable.

Your life is a gift. You may never know how many people you have affected with just your smile, but you, sweet friend, are a gift.

If you are having a hard time remembering this fact, please, don’t go it alone. Find someone to talk to. Talk to a priest, minister, therapist or counselor.

You are never alone. 

There is always someone in your corner.

I am always rooting for you.

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

1-800-273-8255