A Self-Made 12-Step Program for Living an Authentic Life.

Photo: Tumblr.com.

Photo: Tumblr.com/photographer unknown.

Let us commence with a few wise words from Mr. Timothy Leary:

“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences.

For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?”. Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator.

But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…” 

Scary beginnings, sad endings and all the meaningful stuff in between.

I’m thinking about getting out. I’m antsy and have itchy feet. I’m gonna do it. But it takes time, right? I mean, I can’t just up and go, change or do — or can I? Can you? May I?

For me it’s not really about getting away or going on some worldly exploration, at least not right now. I just want to go deeper into the experience of an authentic life — right now in these shoes or better yet in bare feet.

So, what’s the formula and how I do I put this secret into practice?

I’m up for anything. A new dance step, a more confident voice. I’ll even brush my teeth with my less dominant hand while sending sentiments of love to all the lefties of the world. I’m ready to detoxify, love-ify, sanctify, practice, apply and fulfill with a conscientious and diligent attitude — the padawan’s ageless steps for living an authentic life.

Are you with me?

(A few more ponders, question marks and little corporate digs: How do we get real, step out of the matrix, the simulation, the computer programming? How do we escape The Truman Show? How can I be sure my values are my own? How do we leave our mundane routines yet still survive? How do we stop Dow, Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart or The Coca-Cola Company from dictating our lives? By the way, do people still believe that Hershey’s is actually chocolate?)

Photo: Tumblr.com.

Image: Tumblr.com/2121pinklady

I recognize the loop – I’ve just been going round and round and round. 

I’m sure you’ve heard someone else’s broken record declaration of he said this, she said that, that’s the reason why I’m doing this or why I can’t do that, but I’ve realized that the real question is: can you hear your own broken-record-speech?

How do I turn it off? It’s hurting my ears! 

Once I heard my own quadrupled platinum recorded compilation of what ifs, buts, ands, and incessant blame — that frighteningly keeps on playing even without batteries or electricity — I found that all signs lead back to one place. Yes, it all circles back just like a boomerang to Me.

I’ve also recognized that this self-depleting album comes with a range of multiple-choice reactions: A) Secret denial B) Find it repulsive and resort to self-deprecating behavior in order to bury it and not admit to it and C) Don’t know what to do about it so procrastinate and do nothing — enters: mind-numbing self-medication.

Who’s in charge of the life preservers?

The good news is, there’s actually an option D) but you have to really, really want it. It is: Figure It Out.

Photo: Tumblr.com.

Image: Tumblr.com/karlabear32

R.I.P. Old Self. You Served a Great Purpose.

As much as I love original recipes, formulas and programs, I often find that along the way, and after much experimentation, failures, tantrums and tears, I have to write my own. I feel that in a way, all of these books, teachers, scholars, gurus and Universal Principles want us to do just that. Through their own sharing of wisdom, experience, and love, they want you to discover your own… dance with me?

So, here are mine. My 12-step program for living an authentic life.

Step #1 – Do You.

Have no apologies for who you are. If you fit in, great. Perhaps you found your tribe. If you don’t fit in, don’t beat yourself up about it. If you feel like the people around you aren’t speaking your language, perhaps it’s time to explore new flocks. Be brave and true to who you are — wearing unnecessary masks just to fit in or avoid facing the reality of YOU can make life feel hopeless and imprisoning! Even in a crowd of faces, it’s easy to feel lonely if we aren’t being ourselves and if the people around us don’t appreciate who we are.

Take back your right to be you in front of everyone and in every situation. When you are yourself, you not only invite others to do the same, but you become a bright watch tower for the people you’d wish would find you.

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

Step #2 – Let Wildness In.

Stepping into the wilderness does wonders to the vibrational energy of our bodies and our nervous systems. There’s a subtle reassurance that everything you need to know, you already know and everything you don’t know may eventually be revealed in time without struggle and without desperation.

The wilderness strips us of competition and comparison and invites us into a state of peaceful awe. It also offers a reflection of our individual relationship with life versus being just a mere part of the human race. Who are you without people? You may just find this answer in the wild. It’s powerful medicine.

“When you get the blanket thing you can relax because everything you could ever want or be you already have and are.” – Bernard Jaffe, I Heart Huckabees

Step #3 – Hear the Voices.

Open up to your life’s purpose and your heart’s deepest desires by listening to the voices inside of you. There’s a lot of dialogue going on — some incessant, some nonsensical — but if we learn to listen more sincerely, we’ll discover that a deeper, all-knowing conversation is happening. It takes practice to hear this guidance as it takes practice to hear your heart’s desire, to trust your gut and to listen to your intuition.

Pay attention to the whisper and the serendipitous moments that remind you of what’s important to you. Keep listening and keep following the signs. You have the ability to live a life that’s true to who you are and a life that you really want.

Listen like your life depends on it.

“Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts.” — Rita Mae Brown

Step #4 – Take the damn risk already.

Make choices that put yourself first — above everything and everyone else, even those you love and cherish the most. If you don’t take care of yourself, if you don’t do what is best for you, your relationships will eventually suffer. Trust in the fact that doing what is best for you is best for everyone even if it doesn’t feel like it at first. Sometimes sacrifices have to made. People will get hurt and there will be losses, but the rewards gained from following your heart are absolutely everything in comparison.

Do something difficult for no other reason than that you like to do it.

Photo: Google Images.

Image: cookybelle.

Step #5 – Believe.

The secret formula: Believe in yourself and people will believe in you. Don’t give up due to predefined perceptions and limitations of yourself. Don’t give up because of the perceived effort. Millions of people give up before they even get started. They fail to realize their potential and give up as soon as they reach the first hurdle. Why? They don’t believe in themselves.

If you don’t believe in yourself you will end up throwing away your creativity and ideas. On the other hand, if you believe in yourself, you will no matter the outcome, find success even in what you perceive as the greatest of losses.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” — Anais Nin

Step #6 – Use your body and love who and what you are.

It’s never been about the symmetry of your face or your body. It’s about the light that shines from within.

Have you ever witnessed a person that has been in a tragic, body deforming accident who has come out stronger, more compassionate and yes, even more beautiful? Their light shines so bright that after just a few minutes, you don’t see their asymmetry anymore, you simply feel and connect with their light.

If you see yourself as mere looks, if you believe your worth is merely skin deep, others will see you and judge you the same. Aren’t you more than that? Remember, no matter what you do, your looks will eventually fade. What will remain is the fire that burns within. Stop smothering it with delusional judgements and superficial shape chasing. Stop holding yourself back from life because you don’t believe you look good enough.

Self-love exercise: go look in the mirror and tell yourself: You never ever were more beautiful than you are right now. Believe it.

Use your body in every way that you know how. Allow the intelligence of your vessel to reveal and share with you the secrets of the Universe — the secrets of You.

Step #7 – Defy your genetics.

Evolve from the base point you’ve been born into. Don’t allow the limitations of your parents or their parents deter you from your path. See it all as potential to evolve your bloodline, your genetic makeup, your life to a place where neither you, nor your ancestors, have ever gone before. YOU hold the torch.

If you are the black sheep of the family, be grateful. The path can be lonely, but know that you broke free. Celebrate this freedom.

You are the architect of your existence.

Step #8 – Integrate into wholeness.

Accept all parts of your life. All parts. This is one of the deepest healing elixirs you can ever offer yourself. Allow it all to integrate — your mind with body, your body with spirit and your entire being with all of the experiences of your life. Accept your irrevocable wholeness. When you accept what has been, what you thought was and what is, you loosen your grip on delusions, limitations and stale beliefs that hold you back. What’s left? Space. Space and room to expand into the shape you are naturally, wholly and fully with a deeper sense of truth, wisdom and compassion.

Step #9 – Paint a spectrum of love for all.

Serve and be accepting of others — of what they want to create, what they want to be and what they envision. Remind them to do everything it takes not to fail. Remind them that the bad that comes along with the good is the journey and the most beautiful, most fulfilling experience anyone could ever have. Offer and support a new way of living, thinking, creating, even working — listen and be open to the ways of others.

Have conversations that make you smile and ponder. Offer solutions that bring us closer together versus farther apart.

Step #10 – Take the time to do nothing.

Clear the slate. Erase the chalkboard. Wash it all clean. Don’t do anything. Just let everything be as it is. No matter how it is, no matter what your mind is screaming or what confusion you have in your life, for a few moments or as long as you can each day, let it be. Doing nothing and sitting still, helps us recognize all the ways in which we don’t let go. Explore the profound, beautiful simplicity and subtlety of doing nothing… and all the challenges it endures.

In the most simple instruction from Andrew Cohen: take a seat, be still and don’t do anything.

In the words of The Beatles: Let it be.

Photo: tumblr.com.

Photo: tumblr.com/photographer unknown.

Step #11 – Seek connection versus perfection.

Living an authentic life stems from your ability to be self-aware and genuine in the ways in which you express, react, dance, share, create, listen, etc. — in other words, how you connect with yourself and the world around you. Authenticity also heightens from your ability to be aware of when you are being and/or reacting inauthentically.

Being authentic develops a connection with who you truly are, your real essence, and liberates you from the superficial pressures and expectations of always trying to be perfect.

Step #12 – Recognize that you already have everything you need to be you.

Clear away the small minded and limiting ideas of who you are that keep you bound and feeling small, hopeless, even unworthy. You already have everything — everything you need to be you. In the present moment, you have very clear goals. There is much to be done as you are right now.

Discover the clearing, discover the openness and the deepest part of your own Universe. Tap into your unlimited energy and passion to follow-through.



Living a life of authenticity is a path of personal evolution – and as with any journey, it’s up to you.

Thank you and I love you.
(Visited 2,819 times, 1 visits today)
The following two tabs change content below.
Tanya Lee Markul
Co-Founder and Chief Editor of Rebelle Society (you are here). She’s convinced that she once swam the depths of the deepest ocean and in the next round, grew over two hundred feet tall. In this life, she’s a vulnerable creation in process. She has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism & a Master’s in Business. In 2009, surrendering to the good fight within, she became a certified teacher of yoga. Now a full-time devoted student to the sacred art of self-discovery and creative expression, she spends her days on her yoga mat, in wellness experimentation and tilling the fertile soil of Rebelle Society, sharing bouts of black sheepish rebellion, self-acceptance and the beauty of darkness and well-being. Tanya is the creator of ThugUnicorn.com and Yoga.Write.Now.org. She is also the co-founder and Wellness Alchemist at Rebelle Wellness. Get to know her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and at Yogacentralen.dk. Sign-up for her free, weekly Newsie and contact her via email: tanya@rebellesociety.com.


  • Riikka Rajamaki
    Riikka commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
    like a breath of fresh air… like a crystal you are, my dear – i just love reading your words and bathing in the light of your brilliant mind…. i do hope one day we will meet in person… until then, keep shining that pure love of yours!
    • Tanya Lee Markul
      tanya lee markul commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
      Thank you so much, beautiful Rikka. :-) I feel and hope the same Dear Sister. I’m looking forward to reading more from you as well. Sending love and light. xoxoxo
      • Jesse Romine commented on December 15, 2013 Reply
        Hey thanks, I really have trouble with number 6. Born with psoriosis and its a stigma that I can’t shake. But I will try again. Thank you!
        • Devin Lyttle commented on May 18, 2014 Reply
          Jesse – Your condition is a sign of a much greater imbalance within; but don’t let it define (or limit) you. Fix your health to fix your flesh—then transcend it. http://solvingleakygut.com
  • Arun Ks commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
    Really enjoyed reading. It took a long time for me to find many people who speak from the bottom of their heart about life. Keep talking I am sure many people exist would be in search words like yours to listen.God bless and Loads of Love.
    • Tanya Lee Markul
      tanya lee markul commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
      Hi Arun – thank you for sharing such beautiful words. Sending you so much love. xoxo
  • Lisa commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
    Awesome! Made me think of this piece, too (not spam, honestly – just similar points in a different context) : http://www.careershifters.org/expert-advice/the-renegade-mindset-how-to-stay-true-to-what-matters-to-you
  • Wynn commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
    Whoa. I think you’ve been listening to the voices inside my head (I call them Wild Child and Sergeant Major, tehe). I’ve never read anything that so nailed the place I’m at. Thanks!
  • Margaert commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
    It is always so sweet to read something that articulates so perfectly what I already know but have trouble accessing and expressing. Thanks for listening to your inner voice.
    • Tanya Lee Markul
      tanya lee markul commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
      Thank you for the kind and lovely comment Margaert. :-) xoxo
  • Jessica DeFeo commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
    When you read something that allows you to validate and be seen and heard in ways that you haven’t been able to articulate…you start to feel a sense of freedom. Love to you. And thank you xo
    • Tanya Lee Markul
      tanya lee markul commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
      So much love and freedom to you, Jessica. xoxoxo Thank you.
  • Donna commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
    Your words rock it! Keep them coming and your authentic Self being. As a writer, I love that you also make the time to respond to those who take the time to comment. So many bloggers, media, etc. tend to forget the dance of the exchange … respectful and your light shines so brightly.
    • Tanya Lee Markul
      tanya lee markul commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
      Thank you SO much, Donna! Thank you not only for the kind words, but also your light. Mmmmmmmmm. Sending you love. xoxo
  • Kristina Serna commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
    wow, this happened to show in my feed and it is exactly what I needed to read. Your words will stay with me on my new path facing my fears and letting of a self that no longer serves me. Thank you so much for sharing this. love and light to you!
    • Tanya Lee Markul
      tanya lee markul commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
      Keep on, Kristina! Resistance is futile. :-) :-) :-) Thank you for being here. Sending love, courage and strength. xoxo
  • Carolyn Riker
    Carolyn commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
    Unbelievable relevant! Thank you from my authentic heart for your excellent exposé of telling it like it is! You are an amazing writer.
  • Victoria Erickson commented on July 25, 2013 Reply
  • Fay commented on July 26, 2013 Reply
    Truths really, really beautifully expressed. Thank you for sharing them.
  • Lindsay Lu commented on July 26, 2013 Reply
    Everything I’ve been needing to hear as I begin to attempt a fresh start. Thank you. My dog appreciates it too…rough hair cut today
    • Tanya Lee Markul
      tanya lee markul commented on July 26, 2013 Reply
      Awww – sending you so much love + courage. You’ll know when it’s time to take the leap and as for doggy, I bet he looks great. :-) Thank you for taking the time to be here. xoxoxo
  • Kimmo commented on July 26, 2013 Reply
    Step #13 Get a job after trust fund expires.
  • Tobye Hillier commented on July 26, 2013 Reply
    Just thinking about it as I read and reminiscing on personal experience, I reckon that we’re designed to be something that we love being and we talk ourselves into only being that on a part-time level or even worse, not being that person at all…. denying ourselves what we are! When we stop and listen and go back to the very start, to the very heart of it, there’s a big fuck off sign that says “You’re this coz that’s who you are and you’re all up in life’s face about it!” Not being you is just damn rude and ignorant ;)
    • Tanya Lee Markul
      tanya lee markul commented on July 26, 2013 Reply
      This knocked my socks off. Can you please write about our Part-Time Selves? Please?? With kebab stuff on top?? And, a headstand? Love ya T!
  • Ro commented on July 26, 2013 Reply
    i’m in. Thank you for “stepping” up to your truth and sharing it. prema
  • Ashlie commented on July 29, 2013 Reply
    Your steps are insightful but what I’m left with from your article is that we get to discover for ourselves what living an authentic life means. So I’m left asking the question ‘what are my steps for authentic living?’ and that is a powerful inquiry to be in. Thank you for taking me there!
    • Tanya Lee Markul
      tanya lee markul commented on November 8, 2013 Reply
      I’ve read a book by a man I consider quite wise and he says: when questions arise, inquire within. Thank you for the reminder! xoxo
  • Andrea Balt
    Andrea Balt commented on July 29, 2013 Reply
    Wonderful! Signing up for Truth-Seekers Anonymous. (Or not anonymous).
  • kikimak commented on July 29, 2013 Reply
    Love this piece! Thank you sharing and making the light seem brighter… for us all! Amazing!
  • patrick commented on July 30, 2013 Reply
    beautiful insight that comes from a real place. very inspiring. thanks for sharing.
  • snowboardcarl commented on July 31, 2013 Reply
    Astounding – astonishing – energizing and inspiring – thank you!!!
  • Ruth Blanchard commented on August 2, 2013 Reply
    My life has been too long . My mind has been too short
  • Erika commented on August 4, 2013 Reply
    Magical. Thank you!!! Everyone should print this out and hang it up somewhere extremely visible. :)
  • Tracy Wisneski
    Tracy Wisneski commented on August 11, 2013 Reply
    Soul-stirring. Thank you!
  • LT Roberts commented on August 16, 2013 Reply
    I know someone of a like mind http://www.ChessieRoberts.com
  • Tet Gallardo commented on August 17, 2013 Reply
    I’m taking this up to the mountains on my self-designed retreat. :)
  • Jill Henning commented on August 18, 2013 Reply
    Just perfect – let’s live it
  • thePath2Freedom commented on August 21, 2013 Reply
  • Gee commented on September 27, 2013 Reply
    I was surprised God wasn’t mentioned,not once. You had a picture of a ufo with “I want to believe” typed on it. These steps were beautifully written. It is focused mainly on self with room for no one else. As a Christian it would be hard to follow this 12 step program,for there is no room to step with God. All of our living comes to an end,it is called death. God gives all of us one life. You have typed hope for many,but the turnoff for me,was,self became too important and I know when I pass I will be meeting God,we all will be meeting God,no getting out of it. I would never say,”God I honored myself.” for those who do not choose God first and the great book written by Him,The Bible,this is the most practical way I have come across to like self and choose self. Had you ever considered both? God and self? God Bless.
    • Tanya Lee Markul
      tanya lee markul commented on November 8, 2013 Reply
      Hi Gee – thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate them. Just because you felt I didn’t include something that wasn’t important to you, doesn’t mean it can’t be included in whatever you absorb from this text. It is your experience to make your own and to use whatever speaks to your soul. Thanks for being here and many blessings. xoxo
    • Anjana Love-Dixon
      Anjana Love-Dixon commented on November 28, 2013 Reply
      Gee – Is God and self separate? Really? Who is “God” and who is Self? I used to think in terms of duality and then I read the Upanishads. It is a beautiful compilation of eastern thoughts on the nature of god and the universe.
    • Diane Aultman commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
      Very well stated and I agree as that’s the path that I chose and it has always brought me much comfort!
  • Lina commented on November 5, 2013 Reply
    please don’t try to associate this with any kind of 12-step programme, however flippantly or qualified by the phrase “self-made”. it may be a convenient literary device but this has nothing to do with them and the timothy leary quote about “not being like other people” is the antithesis of what the 12 steps teach people in recovery. something like this might map onto various concepts but the steps is not one of them.
  • Pam commented on November 6, 2013 Reply
    What ignorant, narcissistic drivel! As Lina said, don’t appropriate something you know nothing about and have no right to. As for Ms. Balt’s “Truth-Seekers Anonymous” crack, I would love to see either of you in an AA meeting. Maybe the 12 Steps sound novel and clickbaity to you, but for many of us they are a matter of life or death, not some trustafarian pseudo-spiritual tourist attraction.
  • Anjana Love-Dixon
    Anjana Love-Dixon commented on November 28, 2013 Reply
    We are creating a world of brave warriors. You are ahead of your time! We live beyond god, society and other confinements. We become, we transcend. Thank you.
    • Diane Aultman commented on December 18, 2013 Reply
      How can anyone live beyond God?? And how can God be a confinement?
    • Katherine Villegas commented on March 18, 2014 Reply
      No one can live outside the boundaries of God, for God is an infinite being. Whether we accept it or not, the Truth is God and God is the truest form of life.
  • Debra commented on December 13, 2013 Reply
    Great article. One of the absolute best I’ve read on ReBelle Society.
  • Johnny commented on December 13, 2013 Reply
    That’s a huge post – thanks Tanya :)
  • Veruschka commented on December 13, 2013 Reply
    this is the one! that drew me in – grand! thank you, merci, danke schoen~
  • Jill commented on December 14, 2013 Reply
    Absolutly beautiful, relevant, and enlightening. You have helped to move my journey along! Thank you
  • Katie commented on January 18, 2014 Reply
    You had me at “Huckabees”.
  • Seema Chowdhury commented on January 18, 2014 Reply
    thanks a lot for this AWESOME post Tanya … you ROCK :)
  • Gina commented on January 19, 2014 Reply
    Breathless after reading this post..beautiful…authentic….thank you..much love
  • Leila commented on February 15, 2014 Reply
    Wow. just – wow. Reached me at a time I need it the most. These lines – ”If you are the black sheep of the family, be grateful. The path can be lonely, but know that you broke free. Celebrate this freedom” – helped me in a way i can;t even explain. they are profound, powerful and genius. You just helped me re-frame a whole life worth of stuff I never expected to be able to re-frame.THANKYOU xxx
  • Leila commented on February 15, 2014 Reply
    In fact the whole damn piece is amazing. much love
  • danamdamara commented on April 25, 2014 Reply
    love you
  • Brigette commented on May 18, 2014 Reply
    Thankyou. Your words hold the white light of energy that I may not always be able to verbalize but I can feel . I love you too. These words are a reminder that we truly are limitless. Once again, thankyou with love, thankyou with light.
  • james commented on May 18, 2014 Reply
    Love your twelve steps tanya Lee. I think free spirits, weirdos, sensitive souls, and authentic beings are not chronically defective, but powerful beyond all measure and the eventual antidote to society’s madness. Peace and heart!
  • JamesInAK commented on May 18, 2014 Reply
    Tanya, what a beautiful and thoughtful work. There are times in our journeys when things resonate and times when they don’t. I am grateful for the part of my own transformation when I realized that just because the ideas of others didn’t match with mine at that particular moment, that didn’t mean I was right and they were wrong or vice versa. I wish that same realization and the peaceful release it brings for some of those who have commented here. Peace to you….and thank you.
  • Luisa Lù Pasqualini commented on May 19, 2014 Reply
    Thank you Tanya! this is truly (at least to me) one of the most beautiful, insightful and powerful pieces I have ever read on #RebelleSociety but not only. All my respect to you Master Tanya :)
  • andrea commented on June 11, 2014 Reply
    you had me at “scary beginnings, sad endings, and all the meaningful stuff in between” … LOVE
  • Jo-anne V commented on June 25, 2014 Reply
    I hide and hurt so much! Thank you for sharing something so beautiful and kind and amazing and inspiring!!
  • chanelle commented on August 30, 2014 Reply
    thank YOU. this is fucking perfect. i want the universe to frame these rules and read them every morning at breakfast. xx
  • Lisa commented on August 30, 2014 Reply
    Your words are those to live by. Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart and soul. You speak to mine..
  • Banu Sekendur commented on September 10, 2014 Reply
    Thank you! As always. For your ability to bring things full circle and pull us in from the get go! xo
  • jdurivage1011 commented on December 12, 2014 Reply
    I just love you so much!
  • jdurivage1011 commented on December 12, 2014 Reply
    Oh, and reading this (again) just reminds me of why we are so damn connected!
  • Juandaoffice.Com commented on March 17, 2015 Reply
    Can you tell us more about this? I’d want to find out more details.
  • Jasmine commented on August 29, 2015 Reply
    YES! This outlines a kickass guide to life. Thank you for sharing your wisdom! You inspire me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *