December 31, 2013
I received a painful email tonight from a couple moms featured in my 2014 No Excuse Fit Mom Swimsuit Calendar. I felt their words as they described hurtful comments people made on their courageous swimsuit pictures. I wanted to tell them to not take it personally, to focus on the positive and not discuss any specific comments with family and friends.
I wanted to tell them I didn’t cry. That I didn’t feel vulnerable to attacks and that it didn’t hurt when my life, my family and my character was open for public condemnation.
But I would be lying.
I have consulted with friends, priests’ even reporters asking for any advice to help me cope with the instant attention I was receiving. In one conversation with a producer with Good Morning America, I expressed (to a total stranger) how difficult it was being constantly misunderstood. She wisely told me that in this business – people will twist and misinterpret your message to suit their insecurities. The most important thing to remember is your intention.
I thought about that advice deeply. I thought about it when women scorned me for saying I shamed others who didn’t look like me. I thought about it when loud opponents said I promoted poor body images. I thought about it when my comments on the normalization of obesity were taken wildly out of context.
Every time I questioned my pain, I remembered my intention.
Months ago 24 everyday mothers challenged themselves to become their best physical self. This endeavor began before my photo went viral and subsequent bad publicity. These mothers chose to make ‘no excuses’ for not prioritizing their health and braved a swimsuit to reveal their incredible, but unconventional results.
They weren’t fitness models. They didn’t Photoshop their stretch marks or hide their excess skin. They represented how a normal, healthy mother looks like. Instead of aiming for an unrealistic physical ideal, they focused on improving their endurance, building their strength and cleaning up their food habits. The truth revealed in their audacity to show the world homegrown success received immense support – but as many athletes have said before, sometimes in a crowded stadium of applause, the few people who boo sound the loudest.
What I’ve learned in the year 2013 is that while there were moments I felt criticized, sad and alone, I wasn’t. When I stood up, I found people who stood up with me. When I expelled a positive energy, I resonated with people who matched that vibration. When I created a public platform, I discovered people who raised me up.
Don’t focus on people who complain, bully, victimize and shame. When you think of “haters”and how much they’ve hurt you, you are allowing them to win. Don’t give them any more brain space.
Remember your intentions and know truly, you are the Hero of your Home.
Please support our mothers and purchase our 2014 No Excuse Fit Mom Swimsuit Calendar. Proceeds go to charity and building over 300 No Excuse Mom workout groups.
Quantity is Limited. Order yours Today! It is only $11.99 and will motivate you all year long!
25 moms (plus me!) are featured. I provide exercise/nutrition tips and home workouts.
The moms also provide their tips and before/after pics.
For the past month I have been diligently working with my designers on this project and my new website.
Special thank you to Jaymi Britten for designing this beautiful, one-of-a-kind calendar.
This picture seriously represents how I looked like nearly every day for weeks. I was
living in my pajamas, thinking, sleeping and breathing “No Excuse Mom” everything!
I decided last night to get on my treadmill and run (pajamas and all) because exercise
always relieves stress. Despite my busy schedule, I still managed to train each day averaging 30-60
intense workout minutes!
Please visit my new website and Join the Movement! www.noexcusemom.com
Merry Christmas!!! This year has been an incredible year for our family. David volunteered
with several Team Rubicon relief missions, my two eldest were enrolled in pre-k and preschool,
the baby turned two and I became known as “Fit Mom”! LOL! (this is a family-themed card for those
who don’t see the obvious humor)
I just became aware of you and your site on New Years Eve through an article on Yahoo about the calendar. First, let me say how amazingly accurate you are about fitness, nutrition and taking personal responsibility for your own health. Your blog entries are so well researched and I don’t for a minute believe they are condescending to overweight or anyone for that matter. Please know that there are those of us finding you because of some unpleasant attention but who truly are in support of you . Maybe that is a silver lining in all of this, that there are more supporters. I wish you a Happy New Year and please do not let these “haters” get to you, your family and the lovely ladies in the calendar. When people hear the truth that they are in control of their own health it stings because they have to face themselves. I hope you continue to inspire the world to take control of their own health, get fit and be alive!
Best of wishes,
Hazel in Guam
WOOT! Maria, awesome to have seen how much you’ve “grown” over the past year! Truly exciting times! I will be in next year’s calendar 🙂
Please let these women know that they are strong and beautiful. They have been courageous in making a life change AND in letting others see that change. For far too long, we have been made to feel guilty over every choice we make as women; these women are once again receiving the brunt of someone else’s ignorance.
I wish we lived in a time when people realized just how much words hurt, and that the anonymity of social media doesn’t give you the right to shoot down the hard work of other people, even if you don’t know them personally.
For you, Maria, and all the women in the calendar, I wish you a happy and healthy new year. Don’t let the jealous few diminish your hard work. Most of the world is proud and happy.
I don’t usually comment ….but really you have a fantastic body…..worked hard to get it….help others to realize they have the potential to do the same…..what is wrong with that.
Even though i have had my kids years and years ago you inspire me!! thank you…..and nobody should fault with that!!
I just ordered my calendar. They are all so very lovely!
WTG! Keep up the good work ladies! The best thing a mom can do for herself, is to take care of herself!
I just read your post about those ladies who were brave enough to pose in swimsuits to show their progress of getting fit after having babies and them getting negative feedback for doing so. First off, I would like to say I know exactly how they feel. When I lost weight, I felt pretty good about myself that I decided to try to find online friends. Some of the guys ask me to send my picture. I was feeling really good about myself because I was 280 pounds and was down to 180 at the time. So I sent my picture. I remember two replies that still stand out clearly in my mind. One said, “Usually a picture is worth a thousand words but this clearly isn’t of those cases.” The other was way too detailed and too mean for me to post. I sat there and cried after reading both of them. But then I went back and look at their pictures. I mean I really studied them. These were men who were putting me down for the way I looked and what I wanted in my life when they were clearly no better. And the ugly things they wrote about me just made them look more ugly to me. So I laughed at them and deleted the posts. I took my name off the site and moved on with my life. I am now down to 120 pounds and feel great about myself. I haven’t looked back at that incident until you posted the problems these ladies are having. I think what they are doing is wonderful and anyone who hates on them needs to look within themselves at their own ugliness. Keep up the great work, Maria. You have truly inspired me to want more and better for myself in 2014. 🙂
The world needs more of these amazing women! I’m not even a mama yet but I can’t wait to be a No Excuse Mom! Each of them is so inspiring… Stay strong!
Maria, I just started following you within the last 3-6 months after I first saw the No Excuses photo. My reaction to that photo was, Wow, she looks great. I should be able to do that too. Just ordered your calendar and am ready to put words to action. Loved your holiday cards too.
Please tell the women appearing in the calendar that they have done good and should be proud of themselves. Surround themselves with positive people. The negative people surround themselves with negativity and love to bring it to others. They search social media just to spew their negativity. Don’t let it get you down! The rest of us see the inspiration you bring.
Happy New Year!
Can I be in next year’s calendar? These beautiful women have inspired me. If you can inspire one person, then you all are doing a great job!
You are doing a wonderful job, Maria! Keep inspiring us women. I am not even a mother yet, but your success in achieving a healthy body and lifestyle inspires me to be healthier and more physically active. I even started recording my meals/snacks in a food journal! Thanks again for all of your hard work. Also, happy new year to you and your beautiful family!
I am a true no-excuse mom and I get misunderstood everyday. It gets hard. Then I remember it’s a battle either way. If I’m fit they’ll hate. If I’m not they’ll judge. I’d rather be hated and healthy.
It is so sad that as a society we tend to be critical of others….I see it in jobs, schools, parenting, eating habits, physique, fitness, and so much more.
I clearly remember recently getting dressed up in a sexy red dress for my cousins bachelorette party (after almost two months of insanity, and countless more of eating healthier). I was so proud to be able to wear that dress again. However, as we arrived at the party and I saw the look on some of the other guests faces. I was instantly full or doubt and regret. I will never forget the bride’s kind cousin saying “don’t be ashamed, own it!” When she saw my fidgety discomfort.
I am so proud of the women who are featured in the fit mom calendar. They are inspirational and although they may encounter negativity, they are stronger than it! My heart aches for them but also swells with pride that they did it!!!
Thank you for doing what you do and a huge thanks to the wonderful women featured in the calendar! Be proud of what you made time for and worked so hard to accomplish!
Thank you for illustrating these beautiful women in your calendar, who stopped saying I can’t and resolved that they can! I am excited to join my no-excuse fit mommy group. Beside the calendar, I want a fit mommy tee-shirt, for when I am working out..Get on it girl!…LOL
Please do not feel alone or helpless! Look in the mirror and see what you have done! You are far from helpless and not alone. There are thousands who applaud what you are trying to do!!! It is not easy to have a child and to lose the weight and look that great. People who are saying negative things are just haters and you have to ignore them. I give credit to any woman that has a child works to loss the baby weight gained because it is not easy. Please keep up the great work and remember there are THOUSANDS of us that are standing with you as “One” ! Happy and Healthy New Year to all. Keep looking great to help inspire us all Men as well as Women!
Best Wishes to you!
It’s not always easy to stay fit and healthy after having kids, between feeling exhausted, barely having enough time to prepare food, and not being able to find the motivation to workout regularly of course moms put on some weight. But these ladies have found a way to push through the everyday life obstacles and stay healthy. They are brave and a real embodiment of super heroes. You go girls! I am a no excuse mom but that doesn’t mean I don’t have weaknesses, it just means I kick my own butt into gear even on the hard days.
These women should be applauded and hoisted up as a beacon of encouragement to all moms, they are realistic and true beauty.
Hurray for you!
I love this idea, and I love this calendar! AND I weigh 245lbs, which is nearly 100 lbs overweight. Maybe it’s because I am a Canadian that I am not a “hater”, but found awesome inspiration. THANK YOU THANK YOU LADIES for your vulnerability and for sharing your achievements. I hope I can be as vulnerable and as successful as you all!!! Hugs to all you calendar girls!!!! Canadian Anna
You all look beautiful. Those leaving negtive remarks are just haters who are uncomfortable with themselves. Don’t let their insecurities bring you down. You’ve done something amazing. Keep it up 🙂
First of all, I commend you for your success. Now, about the “haters,” there’s another angle we can look at this. See, if there are no haters, your endeavor, your sites, your inspiration, would not be as successful. Why? If everybody is content and happy, agree with each other, kiss each other, praise each other, hi thank you, you’re welcome, how’s the weather yesterday, etc., etc., etc., things would be borrrring, lol. Instead, with the haters, things are a bit more lively, if you will, nerves are a bit rattled, thus, there’s competition and incentive to join you and to rally around you. Do you see the point? It’s like Mayweather and Pacquiao. with Mayweather’s foul mouth, there’s excitement to see him fight against Pacquiao, a tamed man.
I observed your recent burst into fame, first online and then on Fox News and I must say I was the entire time curious why you were being demonized so viciously. I get that your “what’s your excuse” pic could be very, very easily taken in a way that could be mean-spirited, but it so clearly was not. I mean, to me it was not unlike dozens, if not hundreds of pics you can find on Pinterest that people use as inspiration/motivation pretty routinely. You don’t see a national outcry about all of those other pictures. And even a cursory search into who you are shows that you’re on our side–you’re a woman who has devoted herself to helping other women live their best lives through fitness. So, for me, the hard time you had to go through made you a visible national figure and you gained in me a devotee. I have a 12 week fitness plan on a large poster board to my right, I went to Target today and bough a tension band thingy and a jump rope, and the wine I drink tonight, on New Year’s Eve, will be the last wine I drink for a very long time. I am grateful that you ended up in my life, even if it was under less than ideal circumstances. I am proud of the way you handled yourself when you received negative press, and in doing so you provided yet another example of handling oneself with grace, and I applaud you.
Firstly Best wishes to you and your family for 2014. …………. Sometimes we need to take the “negative” and see it as a blessing in disguise. I never heard about you until the commotion over the What’s your excuse photo. The fact is you look extremely good, Congratulations!!!! and you are an inspiration to many including me, now I don’t have kids but I say if you can find time to be mother, wife, entrepreneur and everything and look how you do then I can exercise work and go to school and excel at them all. I have your picture up as my inspiration on my desktop at home and every time I feel like I cant do it I look at that picture and say hello banging body and brain. So take that negative publicity and say thanks for helping my organisation to be even more well known than it previously was media!!!
Hi! I love what you’re about:) Just ordered the calendar! Can’t wait to get it in the mail.
I just ordered the No Excuse Fit Mom calendar and looking forward to getting it in the mail. I remember the first time I saw your now famous photo and read the backlash that followed. My first reaction was “Oooooh crap! How did she do that?” What drew me to you, your cause AND the infamous photo was the fact that we share a few things in common- just like you I have 3 kids close in ages, I’m a working mom in my 30s looking to get….the difference is that you made it happen and called a lot of women including yours truly on their Ps and Qs. To me, the gist of what you are trying to put across is ‘If you give it your best shot, then you’ve won already. Start from there’ and my dear that sounds good to me. All the best.
So sad to hear that you and some of the other moms are catching some flack. A word of advice really quick? Put your hater blockers on. I get the sense that each time you receive some of that criticism from whomever, that you take it to heart, and that you feel the need to defend yourself. No need to defend what you believe in, you’re a walking billboard for what you do! Hope this helps, and keep up the good work.
Hey Maria, my wife gave birth recently and she so inspired by u. Can you help me to post her a simple message in her fb. Teo Shirley is her name from Malaysia .. I know she will be so happy and make her day. Thanks
I’ve only just ‘found’ you, and I can’t believe the backlash you seem to have got for speaking out about about the current ‘promotion’ of obesity.
It’s one thing to say we don’t all have to be size 0 with 15% bodyfat, and to support ‘real’ women, with normal, healthy, curvy figures; but all too often the proponents of this point of view are overweight/obese, and are using it as their excuse for not being healthy. While I think it’s great to be happy in your own skin, i think for anyone whose weight is so great that it is likely to cause health problems to be ‘proud’ of that is very sad; and probably not even true- it seems to me to be that this is a ‘brave face’ being put on, or a matter of defiance of their critics, and these women (sadly it is usually women rather than men,) often admit as much later on, when they finally decide to address their weight issues.
I think it is about time someone did call them out on it.
A healthy body does not have to be a skinny body; but will very rarely be a fat body!
As my cousin- a trainer- likes to say ‘Fit is the new skinny!’
Overweight, over what weight? What one person considers overweight varies from another, why use such a term that’s ill defined? Obesity is a term created by insurance companies, big pharma, and diet companies to convince society fat bodies are inherently diseased. Thin people also get many diseases attributed to being fat, being thin doesn’t make you free of disease. Thin people thinking they can get away with eating junk food tend to be more unhealthy than fat people who constantly watch what they eat, to avoid the risk of being food policed by “helpful” strangers.
It’s not sad that fat people still are able to love their bodies, in a society that constantly tells them they should hate their bodies. What is sad is people who are pushing their inability to love their body regardless of size. What’s your excuse for contributing to fat prejudice?
Keep making excuses and stuffing your face, fat ass, and we’ll see where it gets you.
No one likes a bully!
Tsk, tsk. Are you suffering from low blood sugar because you can’t eat anything without the dreaded fear of a calorie? May I suggest a raspberry filled, chocolate iced donut? Maybe you might stabilize a little and not be so venomous. I just had one and I am feeling on top of the world. Have a sweet day !
The disease are associated to weight issues. That means excess body fat makes them more probable to appear. People should love themselves. Psychology has linked not taking care of yourself to low self-esteem. I’ve grown up having a parent who is very well respected in the medical field, there are several risks that come with having excessive fat accumulation, especially in the abdominal area. Yes, it is not good when people eat junk food, regardless of size. But it is more dangerous when you have a weight issue. If people really loved their bodies they would take care of them. By the way, your comment as a whole sounds very “skinny prejudice”..
I was just concerned about thin people’s health. Just like people who are concerned for fat people’s health. Or does the health of thin people mean nothing to you.
I just ordered your 2014 calendar because I flat out LOVE how it’s showing REAL women and their bodies! I’m sorry, but all of these so-called magazines that show slim celebrities that have been photoshopped to within an inch of their life is just not inspirational to me.
I’ll be using this calendar to record my own weight loss and goals, and I APPLAUD all of the ladies who took part in it! I only wish I was brave enough to do the same! 🙂
“THE TRUTH HURTS” Maria Kang
I saw you on ABC news, I have too say stay strong, best wishes to you and your family and I think you’re ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! I support you because you are right. CURVY DOES NOT EQUAL FAT! We as a people are embracing this lie and because of it we are suffering. Yes, everyone woman should feel beautiful, but every woman should also see her body as THE HOLY TEMPLE and take care of it by GIVING IT THE BEST CARE.
The “curvy girl” lady got on my nerves. She wouldn’t listen instead she just got offended. If we really want to help overweight woman we should not aid in making unhealthiness a nom, or embrace unhealthy lifestyles. I think you are wonderful and keep it up. Dr. King, Ghandi and so many movement starters were hated for telling the truth before people realized they were right.
I want to commend you on your site and what you do at home with your family.
You are proof that with the right circumstances there really is no room for excuses.
I think a majority of our country has become complacent over the years and lost the meaning of personal responsibility.
I run the site badideology.com and posted my first blog about being able to keep the house clean, get sleep and have a new born and had over 6000 visitors in 2 days of very critical people that threaten me, call me names, and try anything to show that I have to be exactly like them.
I am okay with that because I look at sites like yours and continue to have hope for the future.
My emotional stability is not based in what they say to be but in my inner state of being.
I am not sure if you agree with anything on my site, but I am starting understand to a small fraction of what you go through daily and support you.
Maria keep up the good work! Your making everyone motivated to be healthy and look young. It’s a good thing don’t let these haters stop what your doing. Everyone should make this part of their life style 30-60 minutes a day working out eating healthy and looking young. Keep up the good work! Keep being sexy! MiLF & Soccer mom is the way to go trust me!
I feel so bad for you. All you tried to do is tell fat people to stop being so fat. Who knew fat people would be mean to you? Aren’t they supposed to be jolly?
This lady is the freakin bomb.com. And I’m so looking forward to getting the calendar even though I’m not a Mom. The inspiration of it all is amazing and very appreciated. Thank you to you and all the moms in the calendar.
It’s easy to condone someone who criticizes you as a “hater” who is just working out their own insecurities. It’s much harder to critically think about the way you presented an argument and if it could have been handled more tactfully. Regardless of your intentions, the tagline,”what’s your excuse?” immediately places the viewer in a defensive position. If your goal was to reach out to a wide audience with a message that is ultimately caring about humanity, than you should have approached it with more empathy. A single mom, for example, who works to support her children and can’t afford te time to make fitness a priority, would likely disagree with you that there are no justifiable excuses.
Can people stop hatin’ on Maria already? Seriously? And by the way, Facebook targeted another woman in my area all because she posted a pic where she could fit into one leg of her old size 20 pants! This is getting out of hand and it needs to stop. Since I’m going on my own weight loss journey and I post pics of my wright loss, it makes me wonder if I will be next? Is our society that messed up that we are now shaming people for losing weight and trying to better themselves?
Happy New Year! First of all I’d like to say thank you to Maria for being an inspiration to all mothers who want to be fit again. You speak the truth and mean well, so anyone who wants to twist that is wrong and judgmental. Exactly what your being accused of. I am a mom of 2 girls ages 5 and 2 and i help run our business. I put everything else in front of working out because I find it easier to makeup an excuse than to just do it. I love fitness and for the last 3 yrs I’ve struggled to be consistent. I have learned that working out at home works best and I’m always looking for new ideas. All you no excuses mom inspire me to get my body back, thank you for the motivation and tips!! Keep your head up for those of us who get your intentions.
Why doesn’t your husband want to spend more time with his children from his first marriage?
What if he does that to you and your children in the future?
Best of luck and many hugs sent your way.
You want us to understand your INTENTIONS? What are you, 5 years old? From the time he was in preschool I gave taught my now 19 year-old son this basic tenet. You can file it under the old “do unto others as you would have them do to you.” rule. What I taught my child – and what NO ONE obviously taught you is that, it doesn’t matter what you “intended”, it only matters what you SAID. You may have the most golden heart in the whole world, but if your words are hateful, cause others to feel bad, are judgemental or in any way cause pain to your fellow man, then no one will know or care what is in your heart. There are no mind readers in this world, people don’t know what you meant, they only know what you SAID. And if YOUR “excuse” is, you can’t help it if people take your words the wrong way, ask yourself this – how would you FEEL if someone said the same thing to YOU. Your intentions are meaningless. And congrats on getting the media to suck up to you. It won’t be long before you realize that, to surround yourself by sycophants only makes you less of a person. It does not prove you are right about anything. The media will kiss the bum of any flavor of the month. Tomorrow they will toss you aside like the hypocrites they are. Then who will you have to validate your hateful words?
You are all about health correct? I’m assuming you breasted your infant? The best food is breast milk. You are promoting rapid fat loss of MOTHERS! This is super unhealthy for breastfeeding moms. This causes toxins to be released in breast milk. Milk supply diminishes causing unnecessary weaning. Their excuse is that they are eating the proper amount of calories and not weight lifting, bc they want to maintain their fat stores to avoid damaging their infants developing brain. BABY comes first. I’m all for having the body you want after your baby has weaned. Baby led weaning! Your ads show mothers with infants less than a year old. These infants need breast milk so they can avoid obesity, diabetes, asthma, ADHD, ear infections
You go girl, forget what everyone else says. yes most moms after having kids relax and just become lazy and don’t want to work out. if one can do it so can the rest of us. They are just all pissed off cause they didn’t do it first.
Hey I’m an over weight mom, I’ve been this way for 19 yrs since my first child, I’ve gone to the gym and taken diet pills and other things, my whole problem is I’m poor and cant afford healthy food. most I get is freezer food from Save-a-lot. So it is sometimes hard for some moms, but if given the opportunity I would surely give it one hell of a shot.
In all sincerity – make time for your kids. They are not there just to watch you exercise and blog and flit around on TV. You may think they like joining in on an exercise or two.
Let me assure you. They want a mom who is present.
Obviously I am not saying to forgo getting into and staying in shape. I’d advise anyone to make the time to do that. What I do find sad is how so much of your life now seems to self promotion.
These years of their childhood, once gone, can never be regained. Remember that.
Do you think their priority is to have the slimmest mom or the prettiest mom or whatever you strive for beyond healthy ( which is obtainable at a normal level that leaves plenty of time for other things ) ?
No. They want a mom focused on them. Quantity does matter. A half hour in the park while you work out isn’t playing with your kids.
I understand you’ve mentioned ocd in some posts and an eating disorder you battled. I applaud that you have gained perspective and fought these symptoms of poor self image, a need for control when feeling overwhelmed etc.
But frankly, I think the underlying issues still remain and you’ve merely turned to a different mechanism.
I urge you to read Jane Fonda’s autobiography. I think her words will resonate with you. She went through a phase much like you are in, only her fame was already in place. I think you might reevaluate some life choices you’re making.
What are you so desperately chasing that you don’t already possess? Think it over….for the sake of your precious kids.
First off, you are assuming that she doesn’t have time for her kids when you don’t even know her personally. If you read about her nutrition/fitness regimen, you would know that she doesn’t spend hours each day working out… and it’s obvious that she isn’t blogging every single day. She’s not “self-promoting,” but inspiring others with her passion for health and fitness. She also works from home, so she’s with her kids more than most working mothers. If anything, she’s chasing success and doing what she loves!
The irony is you assume I don’t know her….
@ Greatfate I Hardly think 30 TO 60 intense workout minutes constitutes ignoring her children . There is nothing wrong with setting a positive healthy example to those kids.
No the irony is you know her and chose to say this on her blog. You seem to be the one looking for some public exposure.
Maria, I saw your “controversial photo” a few months ago on Facebook but just now stumbled upon your blog and am baffled by all of the negative comments. You look amazing and have obviously worked hard for it. It’s a shame that people feel the need to give you shit for it. More power to you for sticking with it – exercise is great for the body AND THE MIND. My husband and I have four children and workouts are what have helped me battle depression and they help to relieve stress too. I LOVE the photo with you on your treadmill and the fact that your kids are witnessing their own mother taking care of her health and setting a great example. You have a new subscriber in me! Love your blog. <3
Maria, ignore the naysayers. There will always be people out there who will slam you or negate all your strong points, no matter what. A lot of people are insecure and jealous. No matter who you are, or how attractive, successful, sexy, brilliant, etc. you are – people will turn a positive into a negative. The important thing is you know deep inside you are a gorgeous, determined, and accomplished woman. We all can’t be liked. We can’t seek 100% approval of everybody. Just be true to yourself. You have both inner & outer beauty. A lot of people walk around being mediocre and will never be more than mediocre. I know sometimes it’s very hard to tune out all the negativity out there. But you must for your own sanity and well being. In the end what really counts, is that you have the love & support of the people who matter to you most – your family, relatives and close friends.