Life

1

Mrs.

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Our whirlwind romance flourished into a new, exciting engagement in just 5 months – an engagement which dragged on for a painful 14 months. And then, on the most perfect day this May, McDreamy and I tied the knot.

The wedding day passed so quickly, I don’t think I truly appreciated the day until I sat and looked through the pictures for the first time.  We floated through the day, buzzed on surreality, overwhelmed with emotions. At the end of the day, after we had climbed into our getaway car, it hit me that I would never go home alone again.  Goodnight no longer meant a long, lonely drive or hesitant moments before finally hanging up the phone.  I would start and end every day with my McDreamy.

I don’t think anything truly prepares you for what it means to be a Mrs.  You can read every book, attend counseling sessions, get advice from well-intentioned friends and family.  But every marriage is made up of two completely unique people that have never walked the earth before. It’s a new adventure – a book that is yet to be written.  I’m glad that we unplugged from society and spent two glorious weeks basking in the Mexican sun, learning what it meant to share space with each other.  Still, no matter how lovely the vacation, it doesn’t prepare you for the routine, daily grind you must navigate together.

As Mrs. McDreamy, I’m still learning which vegetables my picky husband will actually eat.  I’ve almost weaned him off potatoes, but I don’t have a prayer of makings our home a pasta-free zone.  I drive him nuts by separating the laundry by color – instead of two loads of darks and everything else.  I try to stay up late with McDreamy.  He kills himself trying to get up when I do.  We’re still trying to figure out what “normal” is for us. Still, I sneak spinach into the lasagna, he turns off the TV earlier than he used to, and we’re loving every moment of it.

 

2

Shirking Narcissism: Almost-Confessions of a Lazy Blogger

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I wish I could tell you that I haven’t blogged because I’ve finally squashed the narcissistic streak within me.

I wish I could tell you that I’d been off having a grand adventure that kept me from updating frequently.

I wish I could tell you that the three months of cyber-absence were spent making the real world a much better place.

Nope.

If anything, I’ve been hiding from the blogosphere because I didn’t have much to say.  At the very least, what I did have to say was neither  warm and fuzzy, nor humorous, nor pleasant, nor entertaining. I went through a dark period, wrestling with some pretty big issues, and my blog felt very claustrophobic whenever I logged in to delete the zillions of spam comments I receive each week. I even visited my old myspace blog and fantasized about a simpler time in my life when I really did have the freedom to say whatever was on my mind.  Since then, the bumps in the road have been more jarring.  I’ve learned that, even when people try to destroy your life and your family, it doesn’t give you license to open your mouth and destroy theirs.  I’ve learned that most times, the kind of people that act out destructively eventually destroy themselves.  Most of all, I’ve learned that when you are completely vindicated, there is absolutely no satisfaction in knowing you were right.

I hit one of my lowest lows.

The amazing thing about hitting rock bottom is that the realization that things really cannot get worse.  It would have been impossible for me to find a job I hated more; it would have also been impossible for me to find a job that paid less.  The people that had royally screwed with my family, my career, and my belief in human decency were no longer in my life.  And the choice to remain completely bitter and twisted was mine.  I had to decide whether or not to stay  in my deep, dark, and twisty pit, or whether or not I was going to climb out and get on with my life.

One day, I was driving to work – my old job, the job that sucked the life out of me, the job I fantasized about quitting every single day – when I got sent around a ridiculous detour route because of a water main improvement project.  I was frantically speeding through suburbia, trying to find my way to work, terrified that my miniscule income would dry up if I got canned for being late.  Eventually, I found my way to work, parked, and headbutted the steering wheel of the car.  Repeatedly.  I’m not sure if my following exclamation was a prayer or blasphemy, but it came out something along the lines of: “God, you win. If I give up being angry will you please get me out of this hell hole. Please?”

When I checked my email after work, I found that I had received an email from a family friend whose church needed an office administrator.  Within two weeks, I started my new job; since then my hours have almost doubled.  I’ve bought a new-to-me car – a gorgeous Nissan Altima named Lucy.  I’ve met some incredible people.  And I’ve looked back across the past 6 months with joy and Thanksgiving.  Without any doubt I know I’m exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so energized and passionate ever, even on my longer, harder days.  And I’d gladly go through hell again to get where I am now.

Someone once told me that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping it kills the person who hurt you.  I was poisoning myself for months and living in misery, holding on so tightly to what might have been.

Forgiveness is a daily choice.  Yes, I lost my job, my wedding venue, my church, and my friends because people I loved like family betrayed us. Nothing is going to change what happened to my family.  And that’s alright. I’ve been given immeasurably more than what I had. But I couldn’t receive what God had for me until I gave up looking into the past. Ultimately, we all have the choice to forgive.  When God sets us free from captivity – even if we’re chased into the wilderness by an army – we can look back at Egypt like the Israelites, moaning about how much better things were when we lived in slavery. Or, we can trust that the Promised Land is just ahead and that He will lead us there.  The former leads to a long, painful trek through the wilderness. The latter leads us to peace and joy in the most unexpected ways.

This entry was posted in Life.

1

Red Cup Season

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Tuesday was Red Cup Day in Canada.  By Red Cup Day, I refer to the not-yet-Stat holiday on which Starbucks begins serving winter drinks in festive red cups.  I observe Red Cup Day with a near-religious fervor each year.  Truthfully, I’m not sure why. I know that it’s just a cup of coffee and nothing more.  However, I feel like each Red Cup Day is a milestone. A turn of the page. The beginning of something new.

As urban dwellers, I think we have become so removed from creation that we must look for our own markers to draw us into the cyclical nature of life.  Yes, we see the leaves turn and fall and we feel the need for warmer jackets, but we are no longer entrenched in nature to be a part of the change.  Summer turns to fall before we realize it has happened, and fall turns to winter.  I think Red Cup Day is my way of trying to fall into step with the grand cycle.

 

 

Sometimes I wonder if we struggle to truly understand seasons in our lives because we are so removed from nature.  We don’t understand death or loss the way we might if we were fully entrenched in creation.  We are so divorced from the natural cycle that we’re afraid of the changing seasons in our lives. We don’t have a way to rationalize what we experience.  We long for stasis. But the world isn’t static; it’s dynamic and kinetic.  No one can predict what each season will bring.

Ecclesiastes 3
1
To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
8 A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.

This entry was posted in Life.

7

Why I Loved Working for my Dad

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Over the past five years, I had the remarkable privilege of working for my father. As a child, I had great reverence for his work. Although I was often frustrated when it seemed he invested more time in other kids, I could never stay upset for long because I was always struck by the thought that my dad was a somebody. When we lived in Scotland, he was local celebrity.  He had been on radio and television and had taken the stage before arenas packed with thousands.  It wasn’t uncommon for us to be stopped in the street by a young person he had inspired.  Atop his shoulders, I would tug at tufts of his hair impatiently – which is why I’m convinced he’s balding now – eager to disappear from the starstruck teenagers that wished to pick his mind.  My dad really was a somebody.  He was generally regarded as an expert in his field, and received the praise – if not pay – as such. When we moved to the anonymity of the U.S., I never forgot how incredibly my dad was and is.

As a potential who-knows-what (these days), I was excited to work for my dad.  Until now, that was probably one of my best kept secrets.  My father is an incredible communicator, and I love to hear him speak.  I love to listen with a critical ear, paying attention to how he uses language and humor to convey his points. Recent events aside, the biggest disappointment of my summer was missing him give the salvation message at VBS. I had been so excited to sit at the feet of a master and learn from the way he communicated with the tiny humans. Instead, I was cornered in an office and force fed drivel about an already-resolved head lice incident.   When that opportunity was taken from me, I was livid for days.

No one can deny that my father is a dynamic communicator, but those of you who have never seen him behind the scenes may not know what an incredible leader he is.  I’ve learned a number of key leadership lessons from working with him, and I feel they’re too important not to share:

1. Good leaders are slow to speak and quick to listen

Many people associate leadership with outspoken words and fast, decisive action.  While helming a ship in the eye of a storm, my father would be the first to take decisive action, but he has the wisdom to know that brashness is no way to captain a crew at all times.  I’ve learned from watching my father that the best leaders absorb their surrounds and listen to the people they lead.  They take time and seek expert advice before making a decisive turn.  It is never wise to make a decision without all the facts.  From my father, I’ve learned to be as unbiased as possible and to weigh all possible outcomes and how they will personally effect each person involved.  When my father leads, he thinks not only of his staff members, but also of their families and they people they serve.  Through the years, he’s worked with a lot of under performers.  The impetuosity of my youth made me question why he never fired anyone.  The answer is that he wanted to know why someone under performed and how he could help them move into using their gifts.  In he back of his mind he always remembered that redeeming someone was better than casting them off. Building another leader was more important to him than giving up on anyone.

2. Good leaders coach

To that end, my father taught me what it was to coach a team.  Rather than trade a player to a different team, his first step was to watch how they played and look for their natural abilities.  My father has a great eye for potential and would far rather move someone sideways to play a position that brought out their strengths.  In his day, he’s worked with a lot of Mark McGuire’s trying to pitch.  Or if you prefer, Wayne Rooneys attempting to play in goal.  Or Luongos playing forward.  Pick your poison.  Good coaches spot talent and develop it.  Moreover, coaching is deeply personal.  A coach cannot micromanage.  You can’t learn to play hockey sitting on the bench.  It’s far harder to work alongside someone as they struggle than it is to do it yourself, but my father is persistent.  Whenever he had a younger staff member preach for him, he’d schedule time to debrief and encourage him.  He’d give constructive criticism and hold his staff to account for improvement.

One of the hardest things I learned to do was coach a team.  My dad was the one who taught me how to have the uncomfortable – but necessary – conversations with the people I lead.  His greatest pearl of wisdom was this: “If you’re not uncomfortable, the other person wont be uncomfortable.  And if the other person isn’t uncomfortable, she wont change.”  He was never one to candy-coat confrontation, but he always spoke the truth in the most caring way possible.  His intent was never to hurt anyone, but rather to encourage their growth. 

3. Good leaders build strong teams

I adore my dad, but there are a lot of things he just isn’t good at.  It’s cringe-worthy to watch him trying to find files on the labyrinth of folders on his computer.  He isn’t an administrator.  And he focuses more on the big picture than the minutia it takes to execute a vision.  I know this, but more importantly, he knows this.  Rather than ignore his shortcomings, he builds teams of people with strengths that balance his weaknesses.  A leader knows when to delegate and when to ask for help.  There is a reason for the cabinets that support our national leaders.  Obama lacks the foreign policy experience and connections that Hillary Clinton could bring to his team.  When I began to delegate and admit weaknesses, I found that my teams grew and that the quality of our programs improved.  While they may look pretty, a team of Ryan Kesslers will never make it to the Stanley Cup finals, nor would a team of Luongos.

4. Good leaders know when to flip the bird

There comes a point for every leader when he or she must decide whether or not to cross the Rubicon.  The Rubicon is different for each of us. After you’ve built your army and set your course, when you know beyond all shadow of a doubt that you are on the right path, you have to press forward and let nothing deter you.  Julius Caesar would have never been Emperor of Rome had he been too afraid to cross the Rubicon.  He knew the risks and weighed them for both himself and his men.  He knew that if they failed they would be killed as traitors.  He knew that if they crossed the Rubicon failure was no longer an option if he wanted to take his men home.  Yet, he proceeded because he knew he knew he could win.  My father has shown me what it means to take a stand and hold firm for what is right.  He’s shown me what it means to cross the Rubicon.  He’s shown me what it means to enter the promised land.

Unfortunately, my father recently met the same end as Julius Caesar. (Et tu, Brutus? Et tu?) But during the past five years, I learned some of my most important life lessons.  Moreover, my father held me to a higher standard than anyone else who worked for him.  And I’m thankful. Because of his integrity in that regard, I am confident in my abilities.  I feel strong and empowered because I know that when my father chooses a team member, he will pick the person that he thinks will serve the team best.

 

I am proud to say that I worked for my father. When I look in the mirror, I see him. When I look at my sloppy penmanship, I see him.  And when I crossed my own Rubicon, knowing I would meet with Brutus as well, I did so because I’m just like my father. I’m an uncompromising leader of integrity. I will always speak truth, walk humbly, and seek justice tempered with mercy.

This entry was posted in Life.

0

Through the valley of the shadow of death

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Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

-Psalm 23:4

Often we attempt to rationalize why bad things happen to good people.  We perceive it to be unjust when those who have wronged us appear to float onward with no apparent consequences.  We are enraged when we witness a tragedy befall the upstanding pillars of our communities.  At such a time, it appears inevitable that someone will ask, “How can you reconcile that with a good and loving God?”

In my brief 24 years of life, I have experienced privileges and pains that most people twice my age have not encountered.  Often the two go hand-in-hand.  To be in a position of unique privilege, whether this is an incredible friendship, a challenging career, or a breath-taking adventure, often involves a great amount of vulnerability.  It is this vulnerability that allows us the pain.  I’ve worked with many families through the years, and have become convinced that being a parent is one of the greatest privileges that we can be afforded.  This is likely why there is little that can compare to the pain of losing a child or the dissolution of a family.

To be free of pain and suffering in this life is to be removed from society. Save removing yourself from anything dangerous and every person that has the power to hurt you, it would be impossible to feel no pain.  This often makes me think of the film Finding Nemo.  In the film, Marlin, Nemo’s overbearing father, frantically searches the ocean for his wayward son who has been fishnapped by a scuba diving dentist.  He teams up with a forgetful fish, Dory, to bring Nemo home to the Great Barrier Reef.  As the two traverse the seas, the following conversation unfolds:

Marlin: I promised I’d never let anything happen to him.
Dory:
Hmm. That’s a funny thing to promise.
Marlin:
What?
Dory:
Well you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.

In order for good things to happen to us, we must also be vulnerable enough to allow the bad.

Still, bad things do happen, and it seems impossible to rationalize a world of human suffering with a good and loving God.

Ultimately, God has given us the power of free will.  And, as Uncle Ben reminds us, with great power comes great responsibility:

The same incredible free will that empowers us to do good in the world also allows others to do evil.  The free will that allows someone to dedicate his life to saving lives allows another to take life.  It’s two sides of a volatile coin.  The responsibility rests with us.  Today, our generation has the power to end world hunger, take vital immunizations to the developing world, and close the gap between the richest people in the world and the destitute.  We have the power, but we’re not taking the responsibility.

I suppose taken to an extreme, it could seem that I’m describing God as a distant entity with little real power.   I have seen God’s miraculous intervention a number of times, but more often than not, he allows us to walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  He doesn’t promise that we wont see the shadow or linger in the shadow, but he promises that we can trust in him as a guide.  The Psalmist reminds us that we must make it through the shadow guided by His rod and staff to prosper in spite of our enemies.

Recently, I feel like I’ve been walking through the shadow of the valley of death.  I’ve suffered at unjust hands and I’ve wept as I’ve questioned how bad things can happen to someone who strives to do the right thing.  However, I’ve come to see the miraculous providence before me.  I’ve seen that walking through the shadow of the valley of death, directed by the rod and staff, perhaps took me from the clutches of something more dark than I could have imagined.  And I praise God.

Ultimately, dwelling upon the wrongs of others never leads to health or prosperity.  As long as we compare ourselves to others – especially our enemies – we will never be satisfied.  Even vindication loses its justice and we are poisoned by lust for the other’s demise. Instead, I advocate responsibility.

Be the best person that you can be.  Take the power you have over your sphere of influence and execute it with moral integrity.  You have the power to treat others the way you wish to be treated.  You have the power to protect others from the pain you might inflict when you abuse your power.  You have the power to humble yourself and make amends when you have done wrong.  You have the power to speak out when you see injustice, rather than becoming complicit in your silence.

What will you do with your freedom?

7

Worst. Fiancée. Ever.

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My McDreamy and I eagerly await May 26th, 2012 – the day that shall launch a thousand change-of-name forms.  I will put away the last relics of life as a single lady – my Justin Bieber CD, the tin can in which I still have love notes from grade 9, my Twilight books, and all other adolescent frivolity.  I’ll be a real grown-up. I’ll be Mrs. McDreamy.

We have secured our venue, found a culinary artist to construct our cupcake tower, picked a caterer (whom we still need to book… oops…), and decided upon the general vibe.  On Saturday, I bought my bridal gown and finally talked to my remaining bridesmaids about joining the wedding party.  Things are really coming together.  Quickly.

So quickly, in fact, I forgot that we had booked a photographer to do our engagement pictures.  Again, oops.  Just days ago, I was complaining that McDreamy and I only have a handful of cute pictures together.   This was giving me serious anxiety about the near-mandatory reception slideshow.  Friends asked me whether or not we had settled on a photographer. I had no recollection of booking the shoot for next Tuesday.  None.

Between the new job, McDreamy’s recent car accident, and a thousand other details I’ve struggled to track, this appointment slipped right past me.  And that makes me feel like the worst fiancée ever.

On the bright side, this is a perfect excuse to go shopping…

This entry was posted in Life.

8

Reading Week Update

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It’s reading week! Lest the world become convinced that Trinity Western University gives its students a mid-semester week of vacation, we all go through the charade of promising we’ll seize the opportunity to study and get ahead. Some of us will use the extra time to catch up on reading. But for the most part, I plan on living in my sweatpants and enjoying respite from the fast pace.

As of now, I’m sitting in the salon with dye dripping off my head, enjoying an iced latte and the wonders of technology. (iPhone wordpress app for the win!) I splurged and bought some remmy hair extensions, which my stylist has disappeared to color in the back room, and hope to leave the with movie star hair. We’ll see… If I like my clip-ins well enough, I may get them sewn in! The whole thing is shamefully self-indulgent, but I haven’t purchased new shoes since November, so it almost feels justifiable. It’s incredible how much women will invest in their hair. I’m in the midst of dozens of women, and each of us is eager to own new look, as though our hair somehow shapes our identity. I suppose we feel a lot of our femininity is wrapped up in our hair… But that’s a conversation for a day during which my mind isn’t clouded by dye fumes…

This week I’m looking forward to my best friends from junior high journeying north for a reunion sleepover. We plan to mix martinis, watch girly movies from the past, and sing some righteous karaoke. I can’t wait! It’ll be great to introduce McDreamy to the girls and to catch up before Kiana moves to Japan for a year. While she’s away, I’m determined to keep in better touch with her, as well has heading south to reconnect with Tommy more. You can’t buy the kind of friendship that we three share.

Also on the radar: lunch with McDreamy’s mom. Just me and her. Thursday. We get along well and I really like her. Still, I’m nervous. I don’t know what to expect and I hate the unknown.

And tomorrow I have a staff meeting. Not only will the staff meeting be different/weird/unusual/chooseyourownadjective because it’s my direct supervisor’s last staff meeting before she leaves, but the supervisor running our staff meeting requested we bring our running shoes. Again, I have no idea what to expect. And I hate the unknown. Tomorrow I shall, no doubt, come home with a very interesting story or two…

This entry was posted in Life.

3

Love is a Heart-shaped Pizza

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I don’t like Valentine’s Day. But I do love Hallmark cards. There’s something lovely and tangible about giving and receiving cards. In an increasingly digital world, it’s nice that I have something I can have and hold that tells me how McDreamy feels. Texts and emails are far too fleeting. So we agreed to exchange cards and spend the evening together. We did not follow through on our plan to make others acutely aware of their single status. Instead, we snuggled up on the couch with a heart-shaped pizza and I gave McDreamy an introduction to the rom-com dream team that is Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. We watched You’ve Got Mail.

The little things count in relationships.  The companionable silence. Taking turns at fetching beverages from the fridge. Convincing the other person that the movie was his choice.  As the Peanuts card I gave to McDreamy says,

Love is the warm feeling you get after you hug

Love is letting the other person win, even when you know you could clobber them.

Love is thinking about what the other person is doing right now.

Love is tickling.

Love is navigating the everyday minutia, hand in hand.  And as I sit looking across my university campus, held captive by the rain and wind and looming clouds, I have just a little sunshine in my heart because I’ve got someone who will walk through every storm with me.

So today, on a perfectly ordinary day – a day that isn’t saturated with hearts and chocolate and everything pink – I’m choosing to celebrate the love in my life.

</gushing>

For good measure, here’s a picture of the heart-shaped pizza we had for dinner last night:

13

Again, I fail at life…

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. . . or at least blogging.

For the third time in the past year, I had to rebuild ye olde blog.  This time, I took such a lengthy break from blogging that I forgot my password. I had moved my blog to this URL and in the process deleted the email address attached to the former URL; and the now non-existent email was the one to which the password reset email was sent.  Great.

In any case, I’m back (again). Now to catch up on the events of past two months . . .

McDreamy and I are still going strong. The more I get to know him, the more smitten I become.  He is, most definitely, a kindred spirit. We had the following conversation on Tuesday night:

Me: So what are we doing two Mondays from now?

McDreamy: Huh?

Me: It’s Valentine’s Day. Actually, I’m excited. This is the first time in three or four years that I wont be thinking of it as Singles Awareness Day

McDreamy: *laugher* What? That’s hilarious. We can still call it that.

Me: That’s mean.  I used to be part of that category!

McDreamy: The category I used to be in was also that category.

Me: That category is also the category that the category of people I used to be  in… was.

McDreamy: This is sounding more and more like a Flight of the Concords song

Me: You just read my mind

I love being with someone that understands my quirky sense of humor. While I could continue praising my incredible boyfriend, I prefer not to nauseate my readers with saccharine content. Let it suffice to say that I’m entirely crazy about it.

Since my last blog, I’ve also added a shiny new iPhone to my arsenal.  Twice.  As 2010 drew to a close, I visited my local friendly Telus man to upgrade to a 32 gig iPhone 4.  It lasted for almost a month before I dropped it on the street outside my house.  I watched in horror as bounced.  In slow-motion, I saw the cracks spread across the screen. Crestfallen was I! A call to AppleCare assured me that my phone could be fixed. For the bargain basement price of $140, a new screen could be put on my phone while I waited. I made an appointment and headed to the Mac Store. However, the AppleCare representative was entirely mistaken.  My phone could not be fixed, and a replacement would cost $360. Crestfallen was I, again! The Mac Genius was entirely perplexed by the notes on my account, which verified the quote I had been given. Since he was unable to discount my replacement phone, he was forced to give me a brand new iPhone for free.  All the while, McDreamy and the Genius engaged in a battle of wits over the virtue of iPhone versus Droids.  My boyfriend’s one deficiency is his devotion to the PC world and Google, but I digress. I left the store with a new phone and $60 of accessories to better protect my phone.

Finally, I found out that one of jobs will be eliminated in June.  As a result of organizational restructure, my position will be redundant. I suppose the writing on the wall has been on the wall for a considerable amount of time, but when I sat down with the guy that manages personnel, I felt as though someone had emptied  a bucket of icy water over my head.  My parade hadn’t been rained upon; it had been canceled due to severe weather.  Two weeks later, I’m feeling far better about the news, but it’s hard.  I work with a fantastic group of children, and I will miss their little smiling faces and hilarious antics.  Although I should start looking for a new job, I suppose I’m hedging my bets on getting the new position that will be created at some point on the horizon. Sigh.

Still, I’m optimistic about 2011, and am eager to see how the next several months unfold.

This entry was posted in Life.