Being Me #dailyinspo365

Who am I?

What do I want to be? Who do I want to be? When will I do what I want to do, be who I want to be? What? Which? Who? How? When? Where? Why? The list of questioning pronouns and adverbs is endless!

When and how did I decide to be who I am, what I am? Do you know, I don’t recall.

As far as ‘the what’ or writing is concerned, I’ve always had a deep love of books and words. Always had a runaway imagination and a deep desire to make up exciting and fantastical stories. At five years of age I was writing stories about marrying pop stars. At ten I was writing poems about the sea.

Did I always want to be a writer? Not that I remember. If memory serves me I wanted to be a singer and musician, back in the days when I could hold a note, before I strained my vocal chords. Stories and poetry were always a big part of my life but music consumed it.

When I was twelve or thirteen, I started sending poetry off to youth publications in the hope they’d publish it. Some did, some didn’t. It featured in schools publications as well as national magazines. And then, it stopped. The poetic flow literally dried up.

Luckily, the creative juices continued to flow in abundance when it came to writing essays and stories. Write, write, write – the bigger, the bolder, the better.

My attention started to be drawn to music reviews and features articles, and at some point around the age of fourteen, I hit upon becoming a journalist. Sadly, no-one ever encouraged this quasi-subversive choice. And it was a bit of an off the rails choice of profession at a time when women were still pretty much seen and not heard. A time when men reigned supreme over newsdesks and female journos were predominantly agony aunts, cookery columnists, or fashion writers.

Every time I was asked what I wanted to be, my unwavering response was “journalist”.

And yet I didn’t become a journalist.

A series of twists and turns, bad if well intentioned advice, and life swerves led me down a very different path. It wasn’t until several serendipitous chance events occurred that I came back to writing many years later.

No longer a girl, but still holding dear the same ‘wordful’ dreams.

Who am I? That’s probably one for a different day. What am I? A writer. At long last. I’m not the journalist I dreamed of being, but I’m a wordsmith of many guises. I blog, I review, I diarise, I summarise. I write for a living. I also write for the love of it.

A professional writer. I sometimes say it out loud, just to check that it’s my reality. Becoming a writer for me was like a jigsaw falling into place, all the bits fitting together to form the perfect picture.

What I wanted to be and what I became, while two different things, are not exactly poles apart. Not all of us can fully realise our early life choices, but we can choose to make things happen by taking matters into our own hands, which I did when I set up my own blog.

If life has taught me anything, it’s to never give up. Never say never, because serendipity, belief, karma, dreams are all magical things.

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

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Choose Happiness #dailyinspo365

“Having purpose is the key to happiness”, said a famous person known for their ‘isms’ and then some.

But is it really? I’ve dwelt upon this long and hard whilst walking the highways and byways of West Cork and to this day, still can neither agree nor disagree with this modern day self-helpy adage.

Should having a sense of purpose be a prerequisite to happiness? And just what is purpose anyway? Can someone who chooses to be a stay at home parent have as much purpose as someone who carves out a clear path to career, financial, and social success? Some would say not. I’d argue that they have.

My grandmother was married in her late 20s and gave up what was then an extremely respectable position with the post office to ‘keep house’. She had five children, suffered two miscarriages, never drove, and moved house more times than she gave birth (she was married to a Garda Sergeant). Notwithstanding the fact that she had a housekeeper for several years, she swept and dusted, scrubbed flagstone floors, and hand-washed sheets for most of her married life.

She also went dancing two or three times a week, was dressed like a queen, and never stopped laughing. Born in good spirits, my grandmother was renowned for her vibrant personality and unfailing sense of humour. She was someone who found happiness in the simplest of things, and despite having a much under-utilised intellect, never once bemoaned her lot in life. She had, after all, chosen her lot.

Above and beyond everything else, my grandmother chose happiness.

Happiness isn’t something that happens to us, or something that can be gifted by some kindly benefactor. Happiness is something we must choose, each and every day. If having purpose is the key to happiness then let that purpose be to be happy. Let our motivation be to choose happiness, and in return, just like my grandmother, happiness will choose us.

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

 

We Are All Perfect in Our Own Way #dailyinspo365

There is more beauty in imperfection than there is in perfection.

There is more to celebrate in our imperfect selves than there is in the perfect, should any such thing exist? As beauty is in the eye of the beholder so is perfection. What is perfect to one person is an anathema to another.

I was walking past an elderly man the other day as he uttered the words “we are all perfect in our own way”. That same day I came across this bendy, misshapen wild foxglove and remembering his words, stopped for a while to admire this plant, unique amongst its upright peers.

It reminded me of a half moon tambourine, then of a brightly coloured snake raising itself high above the foliage to fix a steady gaze upon the world.

Now each time I walk past this quirky ‘belle’ I smile at her unique charms. In her ‘perfect imperfection’ she stands out from the crowd.

We are all perfect in our own way. Each with our own special gifts to offer up to the universe, our own USPs to mark us out from one another, our own little quirks and foibles to keep this world from turning vanilla.

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Until We All Get Bored & Move On #dailyinspo365

Radiohead have been hacked!!

If Radiohead, with all their access to high end tech, can still be hacked, then there’s little hope for tech numpties like me!

Thom Yorke’s extensive mini disc archive has been hacked, resulting in the band doing what they do best, and sticking two fingers up at the unnamed hacker. In a less than ‘Hail to the Thief’ move, the Oxford five piece have left the sticky fingered culprit ‘High and Dry’ by releasing the full archive up on Bandcamp.

The eighteen hours of audio feature recordings of demos from 1995 – 1998 including previously unheard music. Broken into 18 minidisks, the ‘hacked’ release includes demos of several iconic Radiohead tracks including Exit Music, No Surprises, and Lift which itself was only released in June 2017. Along with demo versions of OK Computer tracks, the MD also feature a full-band version of True Love Waits, a live favourite that was finally recorded in a piano arrangement for 2016 album A Moon Shaped Pool.

The vast collection of unreleased tracks, which were recorded during the sessions for 1997 album OK Computer, were hacked for financial gain, with the thief threatening to upload the full 18 hours of material onto the web if the band didn’t cough up a USD$150k ransom.

But in typical Radiohead fashion, the band chose to make the 18 MiniDisc recordings, most of them around an hour in length, available on Bandcamp for £18. Proceeds will go to climate activists Extinction Rebellion.

 

Extinction Rebellion thanked the band, describing its gift as “unprecedented support”. Radiohead authorised the use of their song Idioteque for a new Extinction Rebellion promotional video. “The climate and ecological emergency demands courage, truth-telling and generosity like never before,” the group said. “We are so grateful to Radiohead for showing us how that’s done, both now and in the lead-up to the April rebellion. Words are inadequate but actions do change the world.”

The Bandcamp release was accompanied by the following note from frontman Yorke.

we’ve been hacked
my archived mini discs from 1995-1998(?)
it’s not v interesting
there’s a lot of it

if you want it, you can buy the whole lot here
18 minidisks for £18
the proceeds will go to Extinction Rebellion

as it’s out there
it may as well be out there
until we all get bored
and move on

Thmx

Forever Blowing Bubbles #dailyinspo365

Cuckoo-spit

noun – whitish froth found in compact masses on leaves and plant stems, exuded by the larvae of froghoppers

Cuckoo-spit, which you might have noticed appearing on the flowers of meadows and hedgerows, is a bit of mis-comer.

Far from being the spittle of one of nature’s most elusive birds, it is in fact the frothy secretion of a teeny tiny yellow bug. This bubblicious froth, which when seen up closely resembles Fairy Liquid foam, starts to surface at the same time as the cuckoo, hence the name.

Cuckoo spit is an elaborate defence mechanism of a tiny creature known as the Cuckoo-spit Aphid or juvenile Frog hopper or Spittle bug. This wee bug lives inside a protective cocoon of foam to shield itself from predators.

Just how does it secrete this fairy foam? Erm, it blows bubbles from its backside. Not very glam but no-one ever said being at one with nature was all silken threads and rose petals!

If you ‘fuff’ gently on the froth you’ll find one or more yellow-green Frog hopper nymphs (I chose not to – the insects are trying to protect themselves after all!)

Frog hoppers are found in a wide variety of habitats, and are common in gardens, parks and meadows on a wide variety of plant species. In fact wherever suitable food plants grow you’re likely to find frog hoppers and their nymphs from around June to September.

So, the next time you’re wandering down a country lane, through a meadow, or a road lined with hedgerows, keep an eye out for spitting cuckoos, hopping froglets, and tiny yellow creatures singing I’m forever blowing bubbles whilst doing just that!

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Why Does It Always Rain On Me? #dailyinspo365

It’s all going Pete Tong as the best laid plans fall down around my ears.

I seem to have developed the anti-Midas touch. Oh heck, why not just call it the Mi-dust touch, because that’s what all my carefully made plans have turned into in the past 24 hours.

Seriously. You couldn’t write the script. Couldn’t make this up. Even after seven gins. It’s far too farcical and makeyuppy to be really happening.

But, truth to tell, the devastation of my little Pompeii is still ongoing. So much so that I’m actually afraid to pick up the phone in case yet another tale of woe, cancellation, piece of bad news hits me like a frontal lobotomy square between my rabbit-in-headlights eyes.

Oh, and it’s raining. Again.

The current down-spit is like some kind of spiteful haha metaphor for the continuous disintegration of my life right now. It’s like living in a real life episode of ‘If it can go wrong, it will’.

“Why does it always rain on me? Even when the sun is shining, I can’t avoid the lightning.”

To maintain some semblance of sanity, I’ve spent the past five minutes tub-thumping my Thymus – ours is not to reason why – and ridiculous as that might seem, it works. [The clue is in my Kindnessiology post]. Tapping one’s thymus is a tried and tested kinesiology stress-relieving technique. Tap to the beat of the Blue Danube, insert appropriate mantra, repeat as required and bam, stress symptoms dramatically reduced.

I’m not mocking, far from it.

I’m making light of my current ‘crumbling down around me’ situation. I’ve thumped for relief and am writing for catharsis.

Why does it always rain on me? Answer – it doesn’t. It just seems like that when the ordure (posh word for crap) hits the proverbial fan of life. When it rains, the sky is grey, the air cold, the aspect dull and negative.  It’s the same when life rains on our meticulously planned parade.

Previous me would be spitting feathers by now, all toys fecked out of the pram, the words “why me” teasing my mouth into the shape of misfortune. Instead, there’ve been no tornados d’hysteria. Just a few ripples on an otherwise sea of calm. All that remains of a day full of drama is a bruised chest and a list of problems to address.

And address them I will. One by one. They’ll be resolved or resolve themselves. Things do. That’s life.

Why does it always rain on me? It doesn’t. It just seems that way sometimes. The key is to remember that after the rain comes the sun. The darkest hour, is before the dawn. And there will always a new dawn.

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

One for the ‘Girls’ 

Roe returns with the maturer, fuller sound of the universal ‘Girls’

The past three years have seen Derry-born Roisin Donald’s career go from strength to strength. Better known to most as ROE, the now twenty-year old multi-instrumentalist is currently riding the crest of a wave, as she floats from one high-profile support gig to the next, shoring up the likes of Kodaline, The Coronas, and legendary rock-group and fellow Nordies, Snow Patrol.

Now fresh from her first sold-out headline tour and a stint at Camden Rocks Fest last week, the multi-talented fast-rising talent has just released her second single of 2019. The follow up to the hugely-successful ‘Down Days’, which racked up over 50k streams on Spotify alone, ‘Girls’ is already showing signs of being another hit having received airplay from radio big-hitters at BBC Radio 1, RTE 2FM, and Today FM.

Although her sound is as genre-elusive as ever, Roe’s latest release has something of a mid-Atlantic feel to it. ‘Girls’ sees Roe dabble with various sound textures, layering lines of soft pop melodies with the richer R&B beats more readily associated with acts like Sigrid and Maisie Peters. The result of this musical wardrobe update is a more funked-up twist on her trademark tuneful indie-folkpop.

Nailing ebb and flow with pin-point accuracy, Roe’s ever-compelling vocal is in perfect sync with the song’s changing tides, leading it from laid back minimalism to the fuller, more immersive 3D sound of the chorus. With a maturing edge to her tone, Roe wields nuance like a pro, using it to get her message across with maximum effect.

A natural storyteller, Roe has been penning songs since childhood. Mixing keen observations from the ‘front seat’ with her own narrative, Roe’s take on often taboo subjects puts her right up there with fellow sharp songsmiths like Sam Fender.

A song for ‘every-girl’“Girls is about changing the goalposts on social expectations and accepting yourself for who you are no matter what flawless content you see online.” It’s a call to action to celebrate those so-called imperfections that in fact make each of us unique.

Gently dipping its toes in mainstream, ‘Girls’ is a perfectly choregraphed pop-gem enriched with warm R&B sensibilities. Possibly the crossover track we’ve been waiting for from Roe.

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Kindnessiology #dailyinspo365

“In every moment, we have the power to change our current circumstances, improve our health, heal our past and create a new future.”

Kinesiology – noun – the study of the mechanics of body movements.

I partake of regular treatments with a kinesiologist; needless to say, I get asked pretty much all the time what kinesiology is. My stock answer is – “A bit of everything – psychology, physiotherapy, nutrition, holisticism, and mindfulness.”
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The official answer is …
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“Kinesiology is the study of muscles, and the science of testing and balancing them to restore equilibrium. In addition to muscle balancing, practitioners balance the whole body using meridian theory, lymphatic drainage, and neurovascular holding points, physical manipulation and emotional stress release.”
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All true. But there is so much more to kinesiology than one could ever deduce from such a ‘professionally correct’ answer. Here’s my why!
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​​”My belief is that your body and its innate intelligence hold all the answers to the questions you have about your well-being.”
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When I tripped over and fell at the feet of kinesiology I was ‘desperately seeking Susan’ – like literally. It was providence, kismet, call it what you will that drove me and my fingers to seek out a London-based kinesiologist. It was fate that a mate of a mate recommended a certain south-London based practice.
But, it was serendipity that sent me fifteen miles in the wrong direction, to the opposite side of London from my intended destination.
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The draw? A candid, warmly written blog in which Susan discussed her own health challenges, displayed an unforced affinity with nature, and espoused gratitude as the way to peace of mind and good health. It resonated.
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“​​Focusing on the good stuff is always a balm to the soul. Likewise, letting go of all that doesn’t serve us is the path into a good night’s sleep and a peaceful state of mind.”
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I could wax lyrical about the benefits of kinesiology, and there are many – mental, physical, emotional, psychological, even spiritual – but I’ll come back to that one, soon!
What I will wax very lyrically about is the kindness.
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From the off, I’ve been overwhelmed by Susan’s ‘light’. She is a person who radiates positivity, happiness, selflessness and kindness. Especially kindness. Words can’t describe the level of kindness and support that she has shown me since our paths first crossed. It has affected me … profoundly.
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It’s obvious that Susan is doing what she does out of altruism, for no reason other than the desire to help and support others in their battles with multiple struggles and challenges.
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Hers is a pretty amazing gift that very few have, and one that is rarely encountered.
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Kinesiology, which I’ve nick-named kindnessiology, has been a blessing. Or, maybe it was my serendipitous discovery of Susan. Possibly both.
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Either/either, whatever way, kinesiology along with the kindness of the person formerly known as ‘a stranger’, have transformed my life, and very much for the better.
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Wishing you love and light
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Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Too Much of a Good Thing? #dailyinspo365

Can you have too much of a good thing? Is there such a thing? 

As I look down upon a dish laden with leaves of romaine lettuce, my instinctive answer is a definite yes. 

Upon “mature reflection”, I seem to have spent most of my adult life ‘on a diet’. I’ll caveat that with ‘the Derv edit’.

What does that mean? Well, a litany of different things tbh.

In my late teens it was “I’m a vegetarian, I only eat cucumber on Ryvita and Tayto crisps” whereas in my 20s, it morphed into the half a brown scone, plateful of carrots and 20 cigarettes diet. In my 30s I graduated to a more sophisticated healthy option ie. half a yoghurt, an apple, and a mixed salad of which the star ingredient was chopped peppers, all washed down with endless cups of sugary coffee, followed by the ubiquitous fag!

In fact, I spent twenty years being a fag hag. It wasn’t until a dentist scared the living daylights out of me when he told me that I was at serious risk of losing my teeth – all of them, one by one – if I kept chewing the scuzzy cud that I binned the bad boys.

When I gave up smoking everything changed; as my appetite reasserted itself I started gaining weight. Not happy that my skinnies were more thigh-skimming (and not in a good way) than hip-hugging, I took myself out of my comfort zone, spat jeopardy in the eye, and started swimming before going completely full-on-fanatical and taking up running.

I went healthy crazy, hitting the gym five days a week, running every second day, swimming two nights a week, and walking 20mins each way to and from the bus to work Monday to Friday. I eschewed ‘normal food’ particularly carbs, throwing myself first into the Dukan diet, then into a hard core no carbs, alcohol, sugars, dairy diet.

What little was left was negligible. Tuna salad, dairy free lemon yoghurt, and small portions of almonds seemed to make up my daily menu. Cross-Fit was just beginning to become a thing and the gym instructor convert (whose neck and shoulders went from toned pilates guru to tight head prop) kept encouraging my protein-heavy, carb-empty regime.

In the run up to Christmas I fell foul of an appalling chest infection. I battled it for a very long three weeks, during which I was literally running (or not) on empty. More than likely my inability to shake it off was down to my debilitated self. I’d probably shot myself and my immune system in the foot by shirking expert dietary advice and following my own inexpert plot.

“I always hold in having it if you fancy it
If you fancy it, that’s understood
And suppose it makes you fat?
I don’t worry over that
A little of what you fancy does you good.”

The Christmas party came and I sat, with a pale face, looking like a wet weekend in Ballygonowhere, eating white fish and drinking water while everyone around me was pretty much buckled by 8pm. I left an hour later, feeling bored and boring, putting my ennui down to ill-health.

The wake up call came on Christmas Eve when I went to join my Dad for a drink in our local. I arrived wearing a cashmere jumper and jeans, the smallest, neatest pair I owned. They were that baggy on me that the arse had nothing upon which to sit. They were literally hanging off me. I saw my father’s eyes take in the scene, watched as he turned away, a look of sadness etched on his face.

I’d overshot the healthy runway. Had, had too much of a good thing. In my pursuit of ‘normality’ I’d forgotten what normal was. I was the epitome of the Kate Moss mantra – “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. Except that nothing tasted good, and nothing felt good especially me.

These days it’s all change.

Don’t get me wrong, I still experiment with food – green smoothie cleanses, carb-free retreats, juice days, vegan recipes – but it’s all controlled. I do eleven day diets if I need to quickly shed some pounds. I limit my alcohol intake mainly for reasons of sanity and staying out of Mountjoy, and I go sugar or dairy free for prolonged periods to try keep my skin clear and dermatitis at arm’s length.

The big difference is that I now know when I’ve had too much of a good thing and when to apply the brakes.

Back in my heady cucumber days, my mother once remarked: “A little bit of what you fancy does you good”. She wasn’t wrong.

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

It’s You But on a Really Good Day #dailyinspo365

I thought I was unique in ‘living outside myself’ … not anymore!

Sitting listening to Saturday Live on R4 earlier this morning, I was taken by comments made by ‘Challenge Anneka’ Rice during her interview with presenter Shaun Keaveny.

Speaking about her somewhat chaotic childhood Rice said, “I had quite an unstable childhood, the rug kept getting pulled from under my feet. I learnt from a very young age that the only way I was going to get through all this was to pretend I was the heroine in my own film. And if you pretend you’re not yourself but you’re someone else looking in, it gives you a great sense of stability and security because actually if you’re the heroine, it’s gonna come good in the end. I found that very comforting and so I learned very young that it’s kind of a waste of time letting the full truth get in the way of a whacking good story.

I took on that mantra – “You but on a really good day” –  and slightly adjusted my story every time to fit in with what my heroine was doing. It made me feel better about the rest of my life because I was quite insecure.”

Listening to someone else recount the story of how, from a very young age, they lived their life through an imaginary lens has been something of a revelation. Until now, I thought I was unique in ‘living outside myself’, that no-one else had ever have been so desperate to shirk the chassis of their childhood as to don my emperor’s new clothes.

By dressing oneself in the ‘invisible’ mantle of an imaginary persona, one can seamlessly step into and back from a parallel universe. The downside of that is, the more entrenched you become in the lie, the less you can extricate yourself from it. But, for the best part, living life through the eyes of your persona of choice is exhilarating, challenging, slightly risky, but mainly fun. Above all, it gives one a sense of control.

Think of it as having an imaginary friend, and then becoming that imaginary friend. You’ll never let yourself down.

“o, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive”

I’ve lived a lot of my life inside my head and outside of myself. It has sometimes got a bit spider-sticky tangled like when my childish self couldn’t rein in my runaway imagination, leaving me to tough out some very embarrassing situations.

In the main though, it offered me the escape I couldn’t find in the ‘real world’. It might not have always been right, but it was my tightrope across the chasm between survive and thrive.

On the upside, stepping outside of yourself into the ‘other you’ can have its advantages …

“The thing about a good lie is, that as long as you know a bit about your lie you can embellish it, ‘it’s you, but on a really good day’.” (Anneka Rice).

Any thoughts? Do let me know!

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!