The end of school is nigh, and all of a sudden you feel like you’ve got 100 decisions to make. What do I want to do with my life? Do I want to go to college, or uni, or do I want to get stuck straight into work? It’s easy to feel lost when you don’t know what you want to do, or how to get there.

But while you have literally your whole life to make up your mind, a little bit of good advice can go a long way. So with that in mind, in a series of interviews, we’re speaking to women who’ve ‘made it’, and asking their advice on how to follow in their footsteps.

This month, we speak to Regula Ysewijn, a food photographer and writer.

What actually *is* your job?

I am a food writer, photographer and author. I also do a lot of judging, so for the Great Taste Awards, the World Cheese Awards which is great, and also the Belgian version of The Great British Bake Off. So there are different aspects to what I do, but it’s all about food.

How did you get into it?

The cooking came first, because I always wanted to eat lovely things. Then, when I was travelling, I would take pictures of whatever I was eating, and make a note of where you could buy nice food and great places to eat in a blog, but it was only really for myself. Then after a while, people began to read it. I thought, what is this? All of a sudden I had a proper food blog, so I started to put more effort into my writing and my photography, cooking more. So for me it all started with a love of food, and wanting to capture and remember it.

What’s the coolest part of your job?

I enjoy meeting different people and experiencing different cultures. Every single time I do a shoot, I learn so much. Having people open up to me and capturing their lives in a unique way is a privilege.

What are the bad parts?

A lot of people do not want to pay the price. It’s a big problem, not just for photographers and writers but also graphic designers, illustrators and artists. There’s a lot of competition, so sometimes you don’t get the job because somebody is offering to do it cheaper. Sometimes you have a hard time getting paid what you deserve.

The Big Question: uni, or no uni? 

A course or qualification might be handy to learn about things like composition, but the photographers I know are hugely self-taught—I suppose if you can why not, it’s always good to learn, but I would suggest people just get their camera, photograph every day and practise, practise, practise. You do not really need to go to school, it’s more about time and willpower. You have to be passionate about it, that’s the first rule. It’s a good idea to start a blog—it doesn’t have to be writing, it can just be photos. It’s always good to have a portfolio of sorts, and it’s good for that not to be static; for the blog to be alive and updated constantly. It’s a great way to show your work and personality.

I studied art in high school and as part of that we did four hours of photography a week, but it was still analogue back then and it was too expensive for my parents to pay for all the things connected to photography. I got a job working as a graphic designer, doing my blog on the side. I think the skills I learned as a graphic designer have definitely come in handy.

So, do you have to be a fancy chef?

You don’t have to be a chef or anything but you do really need to understand food—how to play with the light, for example, and what to take into account. We do not use shoe polish and all kinds of stuff anymore, it is real food, so you need to have everything set up correctly so that you can photograph a dish immediately. Often you see people who don’t have that experience will leave the food on the set too long and by that time, it’s wilted and horrible. Every photographer has their own field, either food or portrait or landscape—it’s not a given that if you can do, one you can do the other.

What’s your fave food to cook (and eat)? 

That’s a really hard question. I enjoy oxtail stew, things that are slow to cook. I also love to make bolognese ragu, because I know I am really good at it! Every time I make and eat it I am a little bit proud. I make such a stunning bolognese! I don’t like complicated cooking: I like good, honest food.

If you were to give one piece of advice to your 14-year-old self, what would it be?

I think I would say, do exactly the same as you are doing! I was lucky enough to figure out what I wanted to do very early in life and I have managed to make the right choices. My one regret is not going abroad to study something or to live and work but then again, if I did that I would never have met my husband. I think I would say to myself, you’re obviously having a hard time because you’re a teenager, but follow your passion and do not compromise on that. Keep on going, always follow your dream, even if you don’t have the money—it’s because of my passion that I am where I am today.

@EllieCostigan

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Image: Getty/Katie Edmunds

If there’s one thing we love (apart from chatting about periods and girl power, obvs) it’s a girls’ night with our favourite crew. This month, vlogger @JustJodes hosted our mega-sleepover, inviting along her squad for face scrubs, movies and popcorn. Here, the YouTube star talks to betty about puberty, fashion and growing up – plus, you get a sneaky look at all the BTS fun!

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One of the best things about having an older sister is listening to her life advice, right? Bras, boys, big life decisions like whether or not you should try a pair of massive earrings or a rainbow buzz cut. Well, betty has a VIP pass to a group of girls that are sharing their words of wisdom, too. Because there’s always room for more embarrassing stories we can learn from. Awkward sex chats, fashion mistakes, first kisses, her celebrity crush…Made In Chelsea star Toff reveals *everything* about growing up. And you’ve got a front row seat.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

One of the best things about having an older sister is listening to her life advice, right? Bras, boys, big life decisions like whether or not you should try unicorn hair or Topshop’s see-through jeans. Well, betty has a VIP pass to a group of girls that are sharing their words of wisdom, too. Because there’s always room for more embarrassing stories we can learn from. Awkward sex chats, fashion mistakes, first kisses, that time a guy saw her boobs…writer Amy reveals *everything* about growing up. And you’ve got a front row seat.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

In her new interview with Vogue, Selena Gomez is FULL of interesting information. Plus, we actually get to see *inside* her house, and spoiler, it’s just as dreamy as you’d hoped.

Facts we’ve learned: she’s obsessed with the game ‘Heads Up’. She loves Europe (woo!). She wants to learn a new language. She thanked me individually for helping her (fine, it wasn’t me individually, she thanked all her Instagram followers, but whatever). Her first memory is of her mum painting. The first concert she ever went to was Britney Spears. Her favourite word is grateful. If she had to choose another career, she’d be a chef.

What’s her advice to her 15-year-old self? “Go ahead and do it, because you’re going to do it anyway.”

And what does she know now that she didn’t know when she was 15? “Patience”.

Selena, are you trying to tell us something…?

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I have a phone call with Veronica Roth scheduled for 4pm that I have been looking forward to for weeks. Predictably, at 3:50, I discover that the room that has a phone with a proper speaker is being used for a meeting. Gahhh. I manically download Skype, put some money on my account and plant myself in a corridor, glaring at anyone who dares come in my direction.

When technology finally starts cooperating and I get through to Veronica, I immediately relax. She’s not the incredibly intimidating person I imagined in my head, instead she talks to me as though we’re friends, rather than strangers chatting to each other through a kind of crappy Skype connection. She’s incredibly friendly and quick to laugh, the polar opposite of the female characters she writes about.

Veronica Roth is the author of the New York Times best selling Divergent trilogy. At 28, she’s sold millions of copies of her books, seen her work turned into a successful film franchise starring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet, and has now gone ahead and written a new, highly addictive book, Carve the Mark.

Also, totally NBD or anything, but she wrote Divergent during her final year at University and sold the publishing rights before she graduated. So that’s cool.

Did she ever struggle with people underestimating her because she was so young? “Not in book publishing. I’m not the youngest author to publish a book and they mainly just care about the story, so they’re not all that concerned about your age. Your work has to speak for itself. The only time I encountered it was when the book became a movie.”

Roth sold the rights to Summit Entertainment in 2011, when she was a year out of university. “People would talk down to me… and I couldn’t tell why; is it because I’m young, is it because I’m a woman or because of my demeanour? …At the end of the day, you just keep doing the best work you can and not paying too much attention to people who don’t respect that,” she says.

I ask her about how it felt getting her story made into a film and she laughs, “I didn’t believe it was actually going to happen… it wasn’t until they cast Kate Winslet that I was like ‘Oh! This is really happening!’ I totally lost my mind.” I mean, to be fair, it’s Kate Winslet, who wouldn’t lose their mind? “The idea that so many people have taken something you’ve imagined and they’ve made it their work for however many days or weeks? There’s something really amazing and flattering about that.” she continues. “There were all these grown men building this fake train car? It’s amazing!”

To me, the thing about Roth that makes her talent so unique is that she’s not just creating stories about regular, everyday things, she’s creating entire societies. In her new book, Carve the Mark, she took it one step further and created a whole frickin’ galaxy.

Carve The Mark is set in a galaxy that has a current running through it which gives everyone a unique ‘currentgift’. The two main characters, Akos and Cyra, come from two different countries; Akos’ home is one of peace, while Cyra’s is full of violence. When Akos is taken from his family home on Cyra’s brother’s orders, the two of them form a special bond, discovering they can either survive together or destroy one another.

Cyra is a powerhouse of a character. Her currentgift forces her to live in constant pain, but also means she causes agony to those who touch her. She has spent most of her life in isolation until her brother decides to use her as a weapon against his enemies.

“What’s important is for readers to see characters that feel real and interesting and complicated too,” Roth explains. “One of the most important things to me is to make sure the characters are flawed. There’s a lot of pressure on young women to be perfect and so when you read about a character who makes mistakes and has to deal with the repercussions of them and feels normal and feels human, I think that’s important for young women.”

It takes everything in me to not just openly start applauding at this point. Even down the Skype line, I’m nodding my head so much that I think I crick my neck a bit. But the thing I really want to talk to Roth about, the thought I just couldn’t get out of my head while reading Carve The Mark, is how does one person have such a vivid imagination? “I try to cultivate curiosity as much as possible,” she says. “My mum has this quality, where anyone she talks to, she is interested in knowing more about them and I would love to become more like that.”

Well, now I also want to be more like Veronica Roth’s mum. She sounds awesome.

Roth thinks exercising your imagination is incredibly important for young people: “I think you have to have a vision of what your own life can become, what your world can become. There’s this huge imaginative element to that and you have to be able to see possibilities.”

When she was a 21-year-old writing a book in her winter holidays, she ever imagine her life would lead her here? “I don’t think escapism has to be bad,” she tells me, “I think we talk about it like an ‘Oh, you’re just trying to get away from reality, you should be engaging with reality!’ and that’s true, but you can learn a lot from genre fiction, even if it is helping you to escape a little bit.”

At this point, we get completely side-tracked and start talking about how Harry Potter helped define so much of our moral compasses. We’ve been on the phone for almost half an hour, and I know that my time’s almost up so I ask her the question we ask all the people we interview: if you could give your 13-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

“I think I needed to hear two things. One, is that you should be kind to the people around you. I was kinda mean as a young person and I definitely grew out of that as I got older. But I wasn’t always kind, especially to my female friends. I kinda fell into that trap of being really competitive with other women and not appreciating how great it can be to have a genuine connection with my female friends. Appreciate the ladies in your life. But then, I sometimes needed to hear that it’s okay to let people go if they’re making you feel bad about yourself. You don’t have to be friends with them anymore. Basically, be kind, but you don’t have to let other people make you feel bad.”

Well, s**t. This woman is my new hero.

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth is out now. Buy your copy here.

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Girli, the teenage punk rapper-slash-pop star who is being tipped as one of 2017’s most intriguing musical talents, may be jetting off to Los Angeles hours after I call her up, but she’s still paranoid about losing her passport. The 19-year-old, who is known to her parents as Millie Toomey, has spent the past year in a whirlwind, blending turning 18 and A Levels with becoming the new Lily Allen, while spending the summer living in a flat by herself.

It’s the kind of life many teenage girls dream of. But it’s one that’s even more remarkable considering that Millie spent her first years of secondary school dealing with bullies and waiting for her period to turn up, venting her anger by organising awareness against sexual harassment and, at 13, speaking in the Houses of Parliament – “wearing an untucked shirt thinking I was the coolest person ever”.

Both of Toomey’s parents were actors, so performing was always on the cards. But she only turned to music at 15 after becoming fed up of “never actually changing anything” as an elected member of Youth Parliament for Camden, north London, where she grew up. “I thought, that’s not the best way to change things. I remember going to school and everyone was like, ‘There’s that goodie-two-shoes who’s always telling everyone what to do. I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to prove you all wrong.’” So she formed a girl band.

When her bandmates decided to concentrate on going to university, Millie, then 16, decided to keep making music by herself. Her first effort? “A song made by sampling the sound of Japanese girls shouting at someone.” From here came Girli: the hyper-pink, provocative, unashamedly bolshy and completely, fiercely feminist alter-ego, which won her a record deal within a matter of months.

I spoke to Girli about about school, periods and becoming a pop star. 

Going from a youth politician to a pop star sounds like something out of a teen movie we’d want to see. How did that happen?

“I realised that it wasn’t the best way to change things. I was 15 and I’d been doing politics for ages and I had a teen realisation where I was like, actually, “Everyone’s against me”. I always felt like I was on the side of teachers and politicians, because I thought they were there for me. But they weren’t there for me, they’re there for themselves, and it got me really angry. I started hating politicians and everything they stood for.

I started really hating school at that point because I felt like there were a lot of people who didn’t get what I was about and a lot of things were changing and I thought, no. I wanted to be able to go somewhere after school and just rock out. I started making music with my band and I cut all my hair off as a rebellion. It was an outlet.”

How did you form a band?

“I got together a band from joinmyband.com, the dodgiest thing ever. Luckily I didn’t get any dodgy ones, but found these three girls and we played indie rock punk. It was really rubbish but it was fun. The girls left me to go to uni, they didn’t think the band was going to go anywhere. I still maintain that we could have headlined the O2 one day, but whatever.  

Then I started making songs on my computer and messing around on my own and Girli was born. I think it must have been two years ago now. A few months later I got label interest. I was playing loads of gigs and I was going to loads of networking events and stuff, desperately trying to get a manager. And I met this guy who had been a rapper, he was a rookie manager and he started managing me, which was a bit of a disaster really, because he was super young as well and it was kind of messing around. Then I got a new manager who knew what he was doing a little more and started putting out more music on my own and the label got involved.”

I had a lot of fun at your Camden show – whose idea was it to string tampons from the ceiling?

“That was such a fun gig, everyone was so up for everything. I threw a Donald Trump pinata at them and they were so up for it! I always like to involve sanitary products in my shows. I used to chuck them out at the crowd. I think people think I do it to shock, and really I just do it because I don’t think that tampons or periods should be something that’s taboo. It’s just something that comes with being a woman. I feel like if I string tampons up at my show it’ll help people be like, “oh, tampons – whatever.””

So, tell us about your first period…

“I remember being really upset because I was really late in having my period. Obviously now I’m like, “huh! Upset! Could have gone a few more years without bothering with it!” But I remember all of my friends and all of the girls in my class were like, “oh my god, period talk”, and I had to be like, “yeah, totally, LOL”, when I had no idea what was going on. I felt like such a baby.

I had just turned 15 and I got my period at home. It wasn’t a messy story: I went to the loo and was like, “oh, blood!” And I remember walking out and my dad was standing outside and the first thing I said to him was, “Dad, I’m a woman now”. And he just looked at me and said, “no, you’re not.”

My mum was a legend, she was prepared. She was like, “Here are some I had earlier,” and revealed a whole cupboard of sanitary products.”

Do you have a period craving?

“To be honest, it’s just a craving for everything. I just eat like a horse when I’m on my period. But in general, chocolate is always the go-to. Chocolate all day, every day.”

Can you tell when it’s coming?

“I just start to feel a bit heavy and sluggish and I sync with all of my female friends. Whenever it’s coming, we’ll text and say, “I feel like my period’s coming along”, and as soon as someone says that we’ll jinx it and we all just get out periods like 10 minutes later.”

What about period pains?

“I don’t get terrible pains but I do get bad mood swings. I got my period on my birthday, which was like, two days ago, and I was like, “are you f***ing kidding me?” Because obviously it’s your birthday and you’re meant to be in a good mood, and I was just being really pissy to my mum.”

One of your best new songs is dedicated to your sister, and has loads of lovely advice in it. Would you give yourself the same tips if you could?

“If I could look back, I’d just say to chill out. Because I worried way too much, I still do. But I think that’s the thing that gets most teenagers, you just worry so much about the future, like, “do I have to decide who I want to be now?” or “should I feel a certain way?” and being 13-15 is sometimes really rubbish and that’s just a normal natural growing up and getting used to your own skin and finding your people. It’s so normal.”

“My sister is having a tough time at school, and so did I – I got bullied at school and hated school a lot of the time – and that’s why I did well at exams, because I just decided to study and get away from it all. Then I started the band. Just pushing through and remembering that on the other side you’re going to have a great life. That’s the most important thing.”

Bullying sucks big time. What was your experience of it like?

“The move from primary to secondary really stressed me out. I was so anxious. I had to go to therapy and I really wasn’t a very happy kid, and there was a group of girls who just preyed on me like demons. I would come to school and everything I did or say they would comment, they’d try to trip me up and it was constant, there was no escape. Now, I look back and I think, I’m actually doing stuff with my life and I have really good people around me and I have no idea where they are. I think being tormented like that, it made me want to weird people out even more!”

What’s the most embarrassing thing that happened to you at school?

“I was about 12 and this boy asked me to go to the Year 6 prom. And I’d literally never been asked by a boy to go to anything, and I was like, “Yeah, sick!” Then this other boy, who I’d had a crush on for ages, like years, asked me as well. And being 12-year-old, savage me, I was like, “well yeah, this is a better offer”. So I went back to the first guy and was like, sorry mate. Then he was like, “you bitch!”. The guy who I’d fancied for ages found out and came up to me and said, “Oh, you’re a dick” and took away his offer.

And I ended up going on my own. Which was actually great.”

Girli’s new single, Girl I Met on the Internet, is out now.

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betty caught up with DCI Shabnam Chaudhri to talk about what life is like as a DCI, her experience of being caught between her cultural expectations and her desire to join the police, and why Superman is her ultimate hero.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

It’s a weird world for nerdy girls. In one way, it seems as though life has never been better. There are projects celebrating self declared nerds, like Amy Poehler’s Smart Girl ProgrammeKarlie Kloss has her own tech school where girls can learn to code, and academically, we’re excelling. Last year, in the US, a study found that more women were likely to have college degrees than men.

However, if you’re at school, whether you’re often at the top of the class or just feel passionately interested in a particular subject, there’s a chance that your nerdiness is not being supported. Have you ever wanted to ask a question or dig a little deeper, but worried about whether the other people in your class would think you were a bit, you know, keen? How many times have you known the answer, and felt nervous about putting your hand up? Do you ever wonder where all your nerdiness is getting you, and whether life might be easier if you kept your head down?

If you need inspiration and proof that one day, the geek will inherit the earth, you need to meet our Shero Anne Miller. Anne is one of few female ‘elves’ working on TV show QI, and at 29, one of the youngest. She started working on the show five years ago, and most impressively, she’s written the latest book of QI facts. If you’ve ever watched Stephen Fry on the show and been dazzled by his knowledge, it’s worth remembering that some of it comes from Anne.

She’s a big fan of the people on her team, but admits that the world of obscure facts and the world of television does get a bit male dominated. “To be honest, my lack of experience helped me a bit – when I first started trying to work in TV, it never occurred to me that I couldn’t. If I’d known more people in the industry and had them tell me about how hard it can be, it might have put me off!”

The newest series of QI has finally put a fabulously nerdy woman front and centre – Sandi Toksvig, we love you and we often wish that you were our surrogate auntie – so I talked to Anne about how to celebrate the nerdiness in your nature, and use it to pursue your dreams.

Firstly, how did you get your amazing job?

“After uni, I got onto a talent scheme in Edinburgh called The Network which led to a longer six month programme. I met amazing people and learned loads about TV in a short space of time, and as a result of that, I got a short contract job as a researcher on a different programme. When that ended, one of my mentors was able to put me in touch with people at QI, and I spent a day in the studio learning about how it was put together. I stayed in touch with the people I met, and impulsively sent them an unusual fact I found – ‘A vulture can safely swallow enough botulinum toxin to kill 300,000 guinea pigs.’ They loved it and asked me to send any more I found, so I used to email a few facts a week, which helped me to keep building the relationship with them.”

What’s your typical day in the office like?

“It’s research heavy, so we all sit with unusual books and bits of text and search out interesting facts to include on the show.

Often, we’re working with a particular theme – each series corresponds to a letter, and then the theme will begin with that letter so I know if I’m looking for facts about something specific. But sometimes random things will pop up – I’ll come across something weird about onions and file it away for when we get to O! As well as the main show, we have the podcast, No Such Thing As A Fish, the radio show The Museum Of Curiosity and a new TV show, No Such Thing As The News. And I just wrote the book, so it’s quite busy!”

Is this what you always wanted to do?

“Actually I wanted to be a neurosurgeon! I even changed my Highers [Scottish exams, like GCSEs] because I realised I hadn’t picked enough science to get into medical school. My parents helped me to persuade the school to do it, they were really supportive of me. I think I was lucky, and my family and school was quite unusual. I loved learning, I was good at it and I was surrounded by people who made me feel as though there was nothing I couldn’t do.”

Why did you change your mind?

“I still think that being a doctor is the very best thing you can do, but if I’m honest I wasn’t totally committed to it. I’d started to get curious about other things. I did politics at A level and I loved it, and that’s what I studied at university, and I think that if you’re going to be a doctor you need to be completely committed.”

Were you ever bullied for being clever or nerdy?

“I was really lucky, it didn’t really come up. I think I had one fight with one girl who deliberately tried to trip me in the corridor. My parents talked to the school and I really just wanted to leave it, so I tried smiling at her before she could say anything nasty, and she was nice to me for a whole day. What’s weird is that I thought she was singling me out, and years later I’ve discovered that she was horrible to everyone I knew! To be honest, it helped that I went to school in St Andrews, which is fairly remote. There just wasn’t the time or space for people to be that mean, if you really wanted to go out of your way to bully someone outside school you’d have to get on a bus and they only came once a day! When I was at school Facebook, Instagram and Twitter didn’t exist, and I think that made a huge difference. It would be much harder now.”

Were you popular?

“I had my own crew of creative people. We didn’t like the popular girls, and they didn’t like us, which was fine. There was no real rivalry, we just ignored each other. I remember thinking that I was really glad that I wasn’t popular because they all wore the same clothes and had the same haircut, and it looked like it was loads of effort. I didn’t want a side fringe!”

What would you tell your 13 year old self?

“‘Try everything’. I love my job, but I wouldn’t have found it if I wasn’t curious, and confident enough in my intelligence to keep giving different things a go. When you see a careers advisor or go to a careers fair, you don’t see the breadth of different inspiring jobs you can do, you only meet the people who work for companies who have paid for a stand! Sometimes the path isn’t obvious, and you have to make a way for yourself – if you want a job and it seems like the door is shut, try getting in through the window.”

Anne’s book, 1342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted, is out on 3 November. QI, hosted by Sandi Toksvig, is shown at 10PM on Fridays on BBC2.

@NotRollergirl

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Author Alexia Casale was teased at school for everything from her clothes to her name to her eczema to her way of saying hello – but a simple twist in how she thought about things meant that she never really felt like she was getting bullied at all. Watch her story in this video.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Equality campaigner and all-round Shero, Laura Bates shook things up big time when she founded the Everyday Sexism Project in 2012. Now she’s written a book, Girl Up, and embarked on a mission to get full, helpful sex and relationships education (SRE) into schools across the country, with the #SRENow campaign.

We caught up with Laura to talk about harassment, bullying, relationships and just why sex ed is so important. Watch the video above.

During CoppaFeel!’s Festifeel 2016, Lily and Lauren were lucky enough to interview the awesome Fearne Cotton. Here’s what she had to say on life, awkwardness, and knowing your own body.

Watch what happened when we met the other CoppaFeel! boob ninjas, too.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome.