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Posted on Jan 17, 2013 in Dear Diary | 20 comments

Adapting

Some of you may already know a little bit about this, but for those of you who don’t, let me tell you a little bit about what my childhood was like. My father was (still is, kinda) an employee of the US State Department Foreign Service. What this meant for us was that every 3 – 4 years, our family would pack up our house, say goodbye to our friends, and move. Usually to somewhere across the globe.

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Canada, c. 1993? 94?

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So, the short story is, I lived in a lot of places. The long story actually tells you what those places were. Sooo, starting chronologically we’ve got…

Hong Kong
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Reston, Virginia
Warsaw, Poland
Falls Church, Virginia
Taipei, Taiwan
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Harrisonburg, Virginia
And finally, I’ve resettled back in Falls Church (for now).

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Reston, VA, 1995?

Whew. Granted, not nearly the same amount of moves that your average military family has to endure, but I think the varying continents helps draws additional points in my favor. And of course, the bonus of LIVING in these kinds of places is that you get to TRAVEL to even MORE places. I’ve been to Palau, Thailand, Italy, France, Germany, the Caribbean, and all over the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii!).

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I actually have no idea when or where this was taken, I just love it so much.

Now, as an (almost) adult who is (somewhat) level-headed and can objectively appreciate all of the amazing opportunities I was given by living overseas, I can of course say that I had an incredible childhood. But, as a 5-, 9-, 13-, and 16-year-old? The appreciation was, um, let’s say, a little less blatant (er, sorry again, mom and pops). I had a pretty hard time adjusting each and every time we moved, and even though I would never have gotten to do a lot of pretty flippin’ awesome things if I hadn’t lived overseas, the leaving, the saying goodbye, the packing up and taking off part… it was always very hard.

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Poland, 4th grade (98?) and apparently NOT HAPPY WITH THIS CLASS PRESENTATION.

But, I adapted. Because you have to. And I still had my family with me every step of the way, and I made new friends every place I moved to (and kept in touch with a few of my old friends–but you have to remember that the internet was juuuust becoming a thing during a lot of these moves, haha), and obviously, I turned out okay. And because of this particular experience–moving, which can be hard enough when you’re just moving houses or counties, let alone entire continents–I used to pride myself on my adaptability. My ability to cope with change. I even wrote my college admissions essay on it (it was quite moving, I assure you).

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Falls Church, 5th grade (1999)

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Falls Church, 6th grade (2000)

So by the time I was leaving in 2004 to move from Taiwan to Canada for my senior year of high school (yeah, I will say, moving right before your senior year definitely blows) I was actually pretty okay with it. Moving from the states to Taiwan in 2001 had been a horror story I’m sure my parents NEVER want to retell, so I was determined to be a lot, well, better this time around. And similarly, when it was time to graduate high school and move to college, I was pretty used to it. I was sad and would miss my friends, of course, but my adaptability kicked in and things clearly turned out okay in the end. And I really loved that super-adaptable part of my personality.

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Taiwan, 2004

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Ottawa, 2005

Unfortunately, the older I get (and yes, I know I’m hardly an age that qualifies as even being considered “old”, but I am indeed older than I was before) the less adaptable I become. I used to pride myself on not only dealing with, but embracing change, move to a new place, get a new job, find new friends, change my hair, take up a new hobby, whatever–all with the snap of my fingers. But now? The very concept of moving exhausts me. I think about chopping off my hair without warning (like I’ve done a zillion times in the past) and I start to hyperventilate. And I think about all the various ways that this year is going to change my family dynamic–my brother’s wedding, my sister’s baby–and I start to feel a little uneasy. Not because those latter things are bad–just the opposite! They are AWESOME things that I really can’t wait for (you should see the baby shower plans we have to celebrate that little fetus, hehehe). But, the fact remains that they will also change a lot of things. I mean… I may or may not have cried just a little when I realized that this past Christmas was “The Last Christmas” our family would be spending as a whole, same-generation unit. (Oh, believe me, I know how that sounds. I’m emotionally unstable. Just roll with it.)

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Jenny’s Rehearsal Dinner, 2008

I think part of it is honestly that even with all the moves and plane rides and whatnot, the one thing that has remained pretty much CONSTANT through it all is, well, my family. So things that threaten to change our family dynamic (even in positive ways!) make me more anxious than other kinds of change. I know that probably sounds weird and selfish but, hey, so am I.

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JMU Graduation, Harrisonburg, 2009

So, I’m trying to re-teach myself how to adapt. To look forward to the wonderful things that change brings, instead of focusing on what it, uh, changes. heh. And I’m making myself remember that none of the great experiences in life ever came from standing still.

Do you consider yourself an adaptable person? Or do you struggle with change?

PS: I have literally never had more fun picking out photos for a post than I did for this one. Awkward child, me? No waaaaaay. 😉

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Posted on Nov 27, 2012 in Blogging | 16 comments

Blobby

So I was trying to come up with a clever portmanteau word that combines “blogging” with “hobby”, and I ended up with “blobby.” So even though it’s not clever at all, I’m keeping it because it makes me laugh. Heh.

Anyway, I wanted to talk a little bit about blogging as a whole today. It starts with this epic webcomic from The Oatmeal that my friend Lara alerted me to, and it ends with me finally addressing why my posting to this blog has taken such a backseat in my life lately.

See, in a much more humorous and perfect way than I could, Oatmeal creator Matt Inman explains why it’s both rewarding and challenging to be a web content creator. Now, really, that title could cover any number of things: bloggger, vlogger, Youtube singer/songwriter, writer for an online publication, etc, etc. The actual job itself doesn’t matter so much as the fact that what you’re doing is on and for the Almighty Interwebs. As Oats puts it, “Your career + the internet = sad.” Now, of course, it goes without saying that this little blog is nothing compared to a site like The Oatmeal, and also that this is not my full-time job. So while I do feel pressures to maintain this site, to make sure it’s regularly updated and accessible (been having particular issues with that lately — my apologies!), it’s not quite the same as knowing my income or living standard is dependent on my pageviews.

That said, the pressures are still there. It sounds silly to even admit, but what can I say? I’m a people pleaser, and I love writing this blog, and I love that you guys continue to come back here to read it. But I think it’s probably fairly obvious to most of you that things over here have been a little lax and a little lacking lately, both in my general healthy living efforts, and in my blogging about said efforts. And I feel guilty about that. I feel guilty when I can’t think of anything to write about, when I just don’t feel like taking the time to whip out my camera because I am so hungry can I please just eat already. So, without trying to sound like I’m so egotistical to think that your life is lacking without a daily update from yours truly (even though I totally am), at least I feel kind of bad about it? Hahaha.

I’ve mentioned it before, but the obvious reasoning for that is because almost 100% of my extracurricular (er, extraworkulcar?) time is being devoted to finishing the edits of my book. I am still desperately trying to meet my (self-imposed) deadline of a December release. (Hey, remember when I said that I was looking at a mid-November release? Haaaaaahahahahahaha. That was funny. Cry.) And that’s a whole other layer of pressure and anxiety (again, this is all kind of silly, because I know when push comes to shove, it’s pressure I put on myself, but still) on top of this one. So ultimately, it makes sense that something starts to give. And because, as much as I love this blog, it is still my hobby, whereas I am hoping that someday I can turn fiction writing into my career, it means that this is the thing that has to give a little. It means sometimes, I only update twice a week. And sometimes, my posts are barely more than pictures of my dogs, because they make me happy. And a lot of the time, you’ll find me whining into the great social media void. Heh, sorry about that last one.

Shockingly, this wasn’t actually meant to be one giant apology for not posting as regularly lately, even though that’s kind how it’s sounding, haha. It’s just an update on where things stand. And to say that I–the Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen blogging me–am not going anywhere. It just may take a little bit of time to fully come back around. But hey, job or hobby, that’s how everything is, right? There are bumps and dips, hills and valleys. But I’ve spent 2 1/2 years on this particular blobby of mine (kekeke), and I certainly don’t envision giving up on it for a long, long time.

Aaaaand, to cap things off, especially so there’s something here for you wordy-post-skimmers (I don’t blame you!), here are some picture of festive holiday schnauzers. Well, some holiday schnauzers, at any rate. They probably weren’t feeling particularly festive, but oh well.

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What you looking at, fella?
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Posted on Oct 9, 2012 in Dear Diary | 22 comments

I’m Aliiiiiiiive!

Yes, my friends, it’s true. I have not quite fallen off the face of the earth yet. “Yet” being the operative word, of course, but still. Instead, I’ve been making good on my promise to work myself into the ground and finish my book. And I’m VERY happy and excited and terrified to report that I’ve made good on that promise!

I finished (my first draft of) my book! Cue the fanfare! Streamers, balloons, parade-ready elephants!

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This is the face of equal parts terror and excitement.

Sean took me out for celebratory pho and ice cream last night. Hey, we’re Whasian. What else would you expect?

I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed thrilling myself over and over again by shouting at random times “I WROTE A BOOK” (as well as collecting your “Likes” on Facebook for the same statement, natch). However, I should make it clear that this is really only the beginning of the process. I have a lot of revisions, editing, formatting, publishing, and marketing efforts to move forward with. Don’t believe me? Here, I’ll prove it:

So, yes, I’ve finished the actual “Writing” part of my ever-growing to-do list, but I’ve still got about a floppity jillion things left to do. Can’t lie though, I’m super (mortifyingly, terrifyingly, generally maniacally) pumped for this! I cannot tell you how good it feels to be working toward something I’m so passionate about. Even though it’s not my full-time job (one day, maybe?) and even though it’s taken a lot of time out of other parts of my life for the moment, I am so, so, so proud of myself for working so hard to get to this milestone. I mean, I wrote a book! A book! Over 71,000 words came out of MY head and onto MY computer screen! THAT. IS. CRAZY!!!!

Okay, taking deep breaths now. Anyway, my point in coming here was not in fact to make this post a giant not-so-humblebrag about my sidelife as an aspiring author. It was, in fact, to reassure you all that I’m not intending on pushing this blog to the sidelines. Obviously, I’ve been continuing my little blog-cation, as it were, for the past week or so, but my weight loss, my healthy life, and this blog are all still a big priority for me.

Honestly, and I really say this sincerely, I think that my pursuit of my passions is helping my healthy lifestyle more than anything has in a looooong time. I am constantly jazzed by this project, and it has helped put so much perspective into my life. Instead of spending time agonizing about food and my weight, I’m concentrating on my book. What scenes to adjust, what loose ends there might be, what setting elements I need to spend more time researching. And that feels liberating.

Now, make a total flip-flop by shifting all my thoughts about food to thoughts about my book isn’t necessarily a good thing. I have an obsessive personality. I know that, and I try to be aware of it. But I also think that considering how much I’ve been struggling with my eating mentality lately, I think that this is really is a good thing. This book project is something that’s constantly shifting. I have goals to meet and things to check off my to-do list, which means that it’s not some static, abstract ideal that I’m focusing on, but something tangible. And it means that eventually, I will reach an end point.

The biggest problem with when I get obsessed with food is that there’s no end point. We’re always going to need to feed ourselves; we’re always going to need to eat. There’s no forward motion, no light at the end of the tunnel. So my obsession just continues to swirl and grow upon itself until it becomes all-consuming, which is how I end up writing super depressing posts about how the struggle will never end and everybody X’s out of their browser feeling glum. No bueno. So, as always, I take it one step at a time.

And with that, I shall bid you adieu for now! I guarantee that posting will resume its regular schedule (on regular topics) very soon. But in the meantime, I hope you can share in my excitement and anticipation and absolute, unbridled terror with regard to my book! And moving forward, I will try to keep the book talk (mostly) contained to my writing blog (which you should feel free to follow!), though I can’t make any guarantees about that.

And okay, one last thing, juuuuuust in case there are any of you who are intrigued by what my book is about but don’t want to click around on the other blog to find out. Here is the official “blurb”/back of book synopsis:

“In the distant wake of a plague that has decimated the Earth’s population, humanity is split in two. The rich and powerful live in skycities that float overhead, while those who remain on the ground have gathered in settlements strewn across a dying planet. 18-year-old Terra Rhodon makes her living as a scav, scouring the earth for discarded scraps and metals to recycle for profit. While on a routine scavenging run, she discovers something that shocks her home settlement of Genesis X-16 by netting her a payout nobody could have predicted.

Terra suddenly finds herself with more money than she knows what to do with, but her confusion over what she found has her asking questions no one will answer. Driven by her hopes for a better future, Terra’s persistence ultimately leads her to Adam — a beguiling boy with a secret that has the power to change humanity’s existence forever.”

And, as I mentioned last week, the first two (sample) chapters are available there, too! Okay, I’m done now. Forreals. Happy Tuesday, y’all!

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Posted on Jun 13, 2012 in Dear Diary | 33 comments

The Good Life

Shocking though this may be, given the amount of complaining I do, I’d say that I’m generally a pretty positive person. I have my fair share of doldrum-dwelling moments, sure, but most of the time I tend to be of the half-full rather than half-empty mentality, more optimist than pessimist, and more happy-go-lucky than down in the dumps. My proclivity for wanting to see the better side of things clearly affects me in lots of positive ways. It allows me to keep my chin up when my weight loss isn’t progressing as planned (speaking of which, I think I’ll stay in denial just a little while longer, kthx). It helps my unfortunately thin skin heal whenever I read or hear something that might hurt my overly-sensitive feelings. It means I am simply terrible at holding grudges.

So, understanding that I grew out of my “I hate everything, the world sucks!” phase when I was 15, I doubt it’s particularly surprising to hear me talking about how good life is or how content I am right now. Nevertheless, I’m going to say it anyway. Life is good right now, and I want to talk about that. Hey, it’s my blog and I can brag if I want to, after all! Think of this as a general life update, because I know you care so very, very much. Hehe.

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(Photo by Ben)

Re: Family.

You guys are probably already well-aware of the fact that I’m kind of ridiculously close with my family. Like, far closer than the average 24-year-old almost-adult should be. I live with my brother, we have dinner with our parents at least once a week, and even though my sister lives in Columbia (near Baltimore), I also see her on an almost weekly-basis. Much to the probable chagrin of my brother-in-law and future sister-in-law (ahahaha), we still love going on family vacations together, going to events together, and just generally hanging out with each other. It’s weird, I know. I love my family — crazy! We’re a Family with a capital F, as my father says. The only unfortunate part of this whole arrangement is that Jenny will be moving to Houston by the end of the month (her hubby’s already there — cry!), a fact which I am begrudgingly beginning to accept.

We do have extended family in Houston (my aunt and grandmother live in the same neighborhood Jenny & Dan will be in), and my BFFFFFFF Bethany lives less than two hours away from there, as I understand it. I haven’t seen her in over TWO years. Omgaaaah. Saying (er, typing) that out loud makes me really upset. Looks like a visit to the Lonestar State will have to be on my agenda soon!


(Photo by Taylor)

Re: Romanticalness.

Teeheehee, blush, blinkblink, etc. Things are still going very well with Sean, the giver of gifts extraordinaire. This month marks FIVE months! Time really flies. We’re like a match made in Whasian Heaven. This weekend we are seeing the Beauty and the Beast musical at the National Theatre on Friday, and then going to see Dave Matthews Band on Saturday. <3.


(Photo by Taylor)

Re: Pups.

Well, they’re still perfect, obviously. I gave them haircuts on Monday. They look very dapper.

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Re: Creative Outlets.

I’ve been getting back to being a little more experimental and creative in the kitchen, which is making me really happy. Last night, I made pizza with barbecue pork and caramelized onions! Nom. I’ve slipped a little on the creative writing side in recent weeks, due to traveling, work, and school (updates on those last two coming up). I started writing a novel a few months ago (nerd alert!) and really want to get back into it. Writing, as you can probably tell from how wordy this post already is, makes me really happy.


(Photo by Taylor)

Re: Weight Loss.

I doubt that it’s been lost on any of you that I haven’t weighed in since before the Reach the Beach relay and my St. Maarten vacation. Well, it hasn’t been lost on me either. I know there’s really no point in me continuing to put it off (especially considering that this is supposed to be a weight loss blog, haha), but… I don’t know. I guess I just haven’t had the willpower or the motivation to actually step on the scale since.

Part of it comes from morbid curiosity: this has been my longest break from the scale since I started losing weight almost 2 years ago, and part of me wants to see what happens. It’s not like I’ve been going crazy or anything. I’m still working out two to three times a week, I’m still tracking (most of) what I’m eating, and I haven’t been backsliding into any dangerous disordered behavior or anything like that. I think honestly, that’s what makes it so scary though. The thought that even though I haven’t been doing anything “bad” (I wasn’t even THAT terrible while on vacation!), I might still have gained weight. I don’t think I want the confirmation that I’m destined for a lifetime of regains and relosses, calorie counting, and the like. I’ll face the music eventually, and sooner rather than later, I’m sure. Just, for now, I’d like to prolong the denial just a smidge. Kthx. 😉

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Re: Work & School.

Work is work, and I don’t really have much to complain about there. I like my office, my coworkers, and I know I have it pretty good in my office. It’s starting to get just the slightest bit more stressful for me (not by much, just a smidge) though, since I’ve taken on a few classes as part of me working towards my eventual Masters of Education. I’m currently taking two classes that I’ll need to obtain my endorsement in English, Grammar and Survey of English Literature. The grammar class has been particularly educational, if only because it’s taught me that I really didn’t know anything about grammar other than semi-proper punctuation, haha. But now? Subordinate clauses are my bitch! Ahahaha.

I’ll be taking two additional endorsement classes in the Fall, Linguistics and Survey of World Literature, and my grad school application is due October 1st. If I’m accepted, grad school will begin in January. Yipes! I know teaching is certainly not the career for everyone, and who knows if I’d really be able to hack it. Either way, though, it feels good to be working toward something. Forward motion, you know? And regardless of how everything turns out in the end, at least I still know that I love writing, reading, and even with my two little classes right now I’m really just enjoying learning again (nerd alert II!).

One thing that I’ve started to really think about lately is how teaching will affect this blog. Am I concerned at the thought of my classroom full of teenagers being able to Google me in a New York minute? Maybe. This isn’t really something I’m going to have to worry about for a while, since once I even start school it’ll be another year until my teaching internship, but I was talking to my friend Aileen yesterday and she helped me realize that it definitely warrants some thought.

It’s not that I’m really that concerned with the content, per se. I consider this blog to be pretty family-friendly, for the most part. It’s just that I don’t hold a lot back here — not only in terms of my weight (what teacher wants all of her students knowing exactly how much she weighs?!), but in terms of my personal history. There’re some intensely personal posts up here… although now that I say that, I question why I would be concerned with a group of teenagers reading about all that when I’m perfectly at ease sharing it with the entire interwebs, hahaha. There are also not a small amount of photos that depict me in my bathing suit, hahaha.

I have coworkers who read my blog, and my boss found it from Googling me before I even got hired here, so it clearly hasn’t been a hindrance to me professionally thus far. In fact, he said that it actually really impressed him. Showed a degree of technical savvy and entrepreneurial spirit, he said. So, who knows? I’ve spoken with a few bloggers who are also teachers, and their opinions seem to range from “Meh, who cares?” to a few of them having proactively shut down their blogs because of it. I’d be REALLY interested to hear your opinions about blogging and teaching!

So there you have it: one long, drawn out, overly verbose post about the general status of my life as it stands right now. My apologies if it all kind of ended up as one big #humblebrag. I guess I’m just in a good mood today… glass-half-full, y’know? 🙂

Happy Wednesday!

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Posted on Mar 28, 2012 in Dear Diary, Weigh Ins | 36 comments

Option Paralysis

Before I jump into things, I should mention that I’m fully aware I haven’t posted a weigh-in in the past two weeks, but that’s because I have literally been weighing in at exactly the same weight for the past two weeks (kind of a victory?), so there’s just not a whole lot going on there. ::shrug::

I’ve mentioned — on more than one occasion — that I’m a bit of a waffler. Wishy-washy, flaky, indecisive, whatever term you want to affix to it, I’ve never been very good at sticking with something. I tend to start something with enthusiasm, go full-throttle… and after a little while, totally lose interest.

It has been a big step for me to be able to recognize this tendency of mine. I think it’s a sign of growth, to be reflective enough to tell when I’m just following a lark versus pursuing something in a serious way. But in some ways, I feel that I’ve almost taken it to the opposite extreme at this point. I’ve convinced myself that I’m so waffley that no matter what I think I want to do, I *will* lose interest. That it *will* be a waste of time/money/etc. And therefore, I don’t actually do anything.

I bring this up because for quite a while now, I’ve found myself facing that looming question that all twenty-somethings pose to themselves at one point or another: what should I do with my life? Starting this blog has helped me hone and define my interests so much more than I ever thought it would, and subjecting myself to this new world of people who are passionate about food, nutrition, health, fitness has been incredibly eye-opening to me. And because of how so many other bloggers that I follow — all women who truly inspire me — I really thought I needed to follow their example in terms of my career as well.

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I’ve spent a good year+ waffling, debating, and trying to decide between whether I should pursue nutrition or food as a career. Do I start the long, arduous, but ultimately rewarding task of going back to school to become a Registered Dietitian, like Anne? Or do I follow my passion for food and go to culinary school, like Emily has done, and Cassie is currently doing?

One path would lead me far from home (there are no ADA-accredited master’s programs in Nutrition in this area that I would be eligible for), and would cost a lot both in terms of money and time (since I have almost none of the necessary prerequisites). The other path would be an incredible experience, but could I ever really justify paying so much money and taking so much time for something that I simply *want* to do, since I have no desire to work as a restaurant chef? Neither were particularly practical for me, since the only thing that I knew I wanted either way was to give myself the credentials and experience to make myself a more effective blogger.

I was stuck between these two options for a long, long time. Both had their pros, both had their cons, and despite talking with family, friends, bloggers, and random strangers on the street (well, only that one time) I still found myself incapacitated by these two choices. Stuck in the space between them. As my clever coworker informed me, this state is aptly called “option paralysis”.

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Pulling on both ends with equal pressure doesn’t get you very far, my friends.

So I asked myself some questions: Why was this decision so difficult for me? Was it the equally tantalizing appeal of both options? Or my fear that pursuing one or the other would inevitably lead to my loss of interest? When I started out in college, my major was vocal performance. It took less than a semester for me to realize that making singing my career would only cause me to hate to sing, so I switched. And while that was fine and dandy as an undergrad, it would have a bigger impact on me financially if the same thing were to happen on a graduate level.

After living in this career-decision-limbo, I finally forced myself to take a step back. Reevaluate. Reassess. And I’ve realized that while I was (and am!) passionate about both food and nutrition in general, feeling the need to turn them into my career was coming more out of unspoken peer pressure than true desire. No, It was coming from a similar place as my previous (and at least temporarily, extinct) desire to be a long-distance runner: I am immersed in a world full of fantastic, inspiring women who are doing these things, so I wanted to do it too. But when it comes down to it, I’ve finally realized those aren’t even the things that I love most about this blog.

What I love most about writing this blog is exactly that. Writing it. I love to write, to know that I’m reaching people, maybe even helping inspire them on their own journeys. I love being able to impart the knowledge that I’ve picked up from my own experiences and pass it on. I love reading your questions, hearing about your struggles, and sharing in your experiences. So for a while now, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to a totally different path instead: teaching. Specifically, teaching secondary English and, subsequently, writing.

I know full well there are tons of pros and cons when it comes to teaching, that can probably be discussed ad nauseum. I’m passionate about writing, literature, and goodness knows I LOVE my young adult novels, hahaha. Not to sound like I’m bragging or anything, but I also feel I’m equipped with the enthusiasm and creativity to be an exciting teacher. But, of course, I’m also concerned about getting burnt out, being a disciplinarian, and all the general ethics and politics that are tied up with the world of education. So far, nothing is confirmed, nothing has been decided. Since I have a few English courses I need to complete before I’d be eligible to apply for the education graduate program I’m looking at, I’m starting there. Just a couple of classes on the side to see if the subject matter is even something I could really see myself doing.

We’ll see where things take me. I’m trying not to get too wrapped up in it, reminding myself that I am still young, and I do still have time (cliches are there for a reason!). I’m dipping my toe in the water instead of jumping in with both feet, but it finally feels good to have a little forward momentum. Something to work toward that’s my own, even if it’s just the slightest bit separate from my world here.

Have you ever gone through anything similar, with regard to your choice of career and interests?

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