Saturday, November 26, 2011

High Heels, Highways, and High Chairs...

Well, my last post chronicled our West Coast travels, but left out one very important detail: while we were driving between Sacramento and Santa Rosa, we spoke with my OBGYN's office and learned that, in fact, we were expecting a baby. We felt fairly certain that we knew what the doctor's office would say when I spoke with them, but it didn't make the confirmation any less exciting or terrifying. 

We are now about 8 weeks past that initial conversation, and the information is still overwhelming. Of course, it's fun. It's exciting. We are blessed to have wonderful, supportive and thrilled families. Our baby will have double the biological aunts and uncles that I have ever had, and at least a dozen "aunts" and "uncles" in our dear friends, all of whom have taken a special interest in our "peanut," "Baby H," or "legacy" (depending on your favorite nickname.) 

Yesterday, John was brave enough to tell me that I was an incredibly hard pregnant woman to describe. Fortunately, his explanation struck me as humorous and accurate. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am typically a type A, moderate control freak. I like to have a plan. I like for the plan to go my way. I will typically go the extra mile to make sure that things are done the "right" way. However, as he has observed, this pregnancy has both heightened that trait and relaxed it at the same time. The things that I am deeply convicted about needing to happen need to happen right then. There is no way to do it but the way I want it done. And I most frequently want it done immediately. Fortunately for my husband's sanity, there are fewer things that I feel that strongly about. More things can wait. More things don't HAVE to happen. Life goes on without another side dish, an unnecessary cake, or extra home projects. Pickles, salsa, apple butter and jellies were not made this year--and that's OK. 

Other things that can wait are the big decisions. We don't have our names picked out, and that's OK, too. By late December we should know if the baby is a boy or a girl. At that time John and I will decide what our child's name will be. I don't have a birthing plan and probably won't. That is something that can wait forever--and that I'm not going to be pressured into drafting. A thousand different nursery ideas (paint color, furniture, themes...) circle through my mind, but that doesn't have to be set for several months. 

And I have no idea what I am going to do about work. As more people in my workplace know our news, the question is asked more frequently. And I have no idea what the answer is. As much as I feel that I am an "empowered, twenty-first century woman," I still feel that it is inappropriate to take a baby to the office. Some of my early memories of particular women in our industry were speaking to them on the phone with a screaming infant in the background. These particular women expected me to halt my business conversation to tend to the needs of their children, resume the conversation, and discuss their children instead. This hit me as particularly unprofessional and left a lasting impact (and made me realize how we as women undermine ourselves by assuming that our personal and professional lives can easily meld together because they are important to us--without realizing how imposing that is on other people.) I am not saying that emergencies don't happen, that an occasional work day from home won't be necessary, and that children can be expected to be silent just because a phone rings. However, having children at work as the norm is not very attractive to me (nor does it seem particularly professional.) 

On the flip side, all day daycare is not my first choice. Neither is staying at home full-time. I hope that we are able to configure a balanced system where I have plenty of time with my child that isn't only first thing in the morning or at bedtime. I hope that we can find a special individual to care for our child when we can't. I hope that there is an excellent facility where he or she may occasionally go in a group setting. And I hope that I can stay actively involved with my work and successfully raise my child--the way that I want to, when I want to, and in the "right" way.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

West Coast Travels

You would think that with all of the travel that I do during a normal work week (and then a normal weekend) that when we go on a trip, we might just relax a little bit...why in the world would we do that?! 

My view of  the world is that if we're somewhere, we should experience it to the fullest, otherwise we're just cheating ourselves (fortunately for us both, John generally agrees with this sentiment.) So, we saw wine country and the San Francisco area, to the fullest! 

A few photos to share: 

John has heard about In-N-Out Burgers, and thought that we needed to try them, right off the airplane, just outside of Sacramento! 

The next morning, we were greeted by the Pacific Ocean AND a Rainbow! What a neat first view of the Pacific coast! 

John was compelled to put his feet in the ocean--RIGHT THEN!  
(It was a quite nippy 40ish-50ish degrees in the air, so i passed)

We found sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf! 

We found Lombard Street and joined the line..

Super-fun to drive down! 

Golden Gate photo shoot before heading back to Wine Country

Thought we had a full day? Nope, we went on to Napa to join the family and ride the Napa Wine Train! 

The train was beautiful and the food was delicious! 

We started the next day with cinnamon buns worth photographing (too bad, I thought of it too late...) So, we headed to the Redwood forest, which was obviously quite impressive. Love the pic of the whole family! 

We headed back to Napa for some hands-on sampling, and were not disappointed! It was EXACTLY what we thought wine country would be...quaint, gorgeous, and full of wine! 

Gorgeous grapes, ready to be harvested! 

The main event: A Beautiful Wine Country Wedding! 

With the gorgeous bride and handsome groom! We love these two!! 

The whole family! 

It seemed like our trip ended quite abruptly from there... I'd love to tell you that we have "traveling home" photos, but a 4:30am alarm does not lend itself to pictures for the rest of the day!  I hope you enjoyed our mini-photo album. John and I both would recommend taking this trip. If you are considering it, absolutely do it! If you are not, add it to your list! if you want recs, we'd be happy to make a few! And if you want someone to join you on your trip, we'd be up for it--it is already on our "places to return" list.

Monday, September 26, 2011

For Whatever Reason, It Passed Through a Woman...

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of traveling to several of our asphalt plants with my father and a gentleman who has been newly hired to work with our industry organization, the Carolina Asphalt Pavement Association (CAPA). This man, who has recently been employed by the NCDOT in numerous rolls, has been going to meet with member companies of CAPA to see where we are, what we do, and to get a feel for the contractor's take on the industry. He has a wealth of knowledge, and we are very fortunate to be working with him. Since most of his experience comes from working with the NCDOT, he is taking the initiative to see what the industry looks like from the contractors' perspectives.  

As I rode and mostly listened, my father told him our basic stories: how we grew in the North Carolina  marketplace, the genesis of the asphalt plants from the quarry in Mountain City, and our family's basic history. At one point, he actually turned around and said, "I bet Sis is tired of hearing this story." And while I was glad to be included in getting to know this gentleman, I was truly tired of the story--and many of the other stories. 

I remember being in high school and being told that we should listen to the stories of our parents and grandparents because they were important to who we are, who they are, and the lessons that come from them. I remember trying to listen to stories that I had heard 1,000 times with renewed interest. There were times that I could find that interest, and occasionally times that I couldn't. 

As I rode in the back seat of the car last week, I remember thinking: "Yes, we KNOW that you had that conversation. We KNOW that the agreement worked a particular way. Yes, we KNOW..." I also acknowledge that those were not fair thoughts. The individual who my father was speaking to didn't know any of this. In fact, he knew little about us, and these stories are key to why I even have a job and why our company's geographic footprint is what it is. 

And then, as the conversation continued, our guest asked a question that I have never asked. One that seems most obvious, but I had never taken the time to contemplate: What is the family name that gets carried through the farm? In the last 3 generations, I knew the answer to this question: concisely, the answer is "Mount". Ganny and Uncle Bud were Mounts, their father was a Mount, and it just so happens that my father is a Roark because my grandmother married a Roark. 

But this wasn't my father's reply at all. He simply said, "It changes. For whatever reason, the farm has always been passed down through a woman's side." He then went on to trace the lines (which we know for 10 generations). Ganny (his mother) was a Mount married to a Roark, her mother was a Brown married to a Mount, her mother was a.... (I lost track, but could come up with the rest of the genealogy fairly quickly.) Somewhere in there are Wagners and Vaughts and a host of other local family names that all blend together to create my family. 

What a strange response. Our visitor thought so, too. He asked if there were contracts to this effect (there are not,) he asked if there were no boys (in many cases there were boys). How strange for a piece of property (whose owners date back to the 1700s) not to be passed from father to son, time and time again. For whatever reason, it is not just the Brown or Wagner or Vaught Family Farm. It's a farm that has been known by many names. 

For some reason, this resonated strongly with me. Probably because I am now a Harbin, and I have occasionally mourned the loss of my maiden name. As a woman in the family, with a new name, I was proud to think of those women, who decade after decade in a patriarchal society, kept their farm and gave it to their children. What resolve, luck, and courage that took. And what responsibility it places on Bart and me, to keep the same land intact for our families.  

As Dad concluded his stories about our family, company, and the farm, he said what he always says, "That and a quarter won't get you a cup of coffee at Hardee's these days, but we think it's pretty neat." 

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Plans Include a Horse

My future plans include a horse.

In the last five days, I have traveled 1,104 miles. Of these 1,104 miles, all but 50 of them have been on a four lane, split highway or in an urban setting. This type of travel lends itself to fast food, mindless radio listening, and the occasional phone call. The high speed of the interstate and the hustle-bustle of Mooresville's rush hour traffic keep me keyed up. I have trouble drifting off to sleep and experience frequent heartburn.

I really hadn't thought about this until I started my 50 miles of non-interstate travel this morning. On a whim, I took a back road instead of the interstate. I was being nosy about a competitor's progress on a job and looking at another road that is being bid this week. So, on my way to our current project, I made this detour. Normally I would hit I-77 and run US 70 until I reached my destination. But this morning, I swung down a country road that winds across the line between Rowan and Iredell Counties.

I am biased towards thinking that the Blue Ridge Mountains are one of the most beautiful places in the world. While our current little piece of the world is not truly in the mountains, or even in the foothills, if we're really honest about it, there is a very pleasant, comforting roll to the land. My road this morning dipped, rose, and turned ever so slightly as I traipsed through the rural landscape. And it was there that it hit me: my future holds a horse. Not just a horse itself, but everything that goes with a horse: extra space, a field with a fence and lots of grass, area for dogs to run and children to play without dodging vehicles. I'm not making a family announcement, and I'm not in any rush for this change of pace. But, there is certainly an edge to life when the trip home feels like an arcade game where the driver dodges all obstacles on the course. Suicidal neighborhood cats, unsupervised children, and teenage drivers are all part of the daily hazards.

For several years now, I have told my Mountain City and Statesville friends that my living requirements include Target, Harris Teeter, Starbucks and the YMCA within one mile, and I have achieved this. And it's wonderful for us. We have every modern convenience available at our finger tips--and designed it exactly that way. I love our home, our access, and our walk-wherever-we-want lifestyle. BUT...many of my best childhood memories involve a horse: taking sugar cubes to feed the mares after school, laughing at the colts when they'd play in the pasture in front of the Maymead office, and riding through the hay fields like they'd go on forever. This is not something that can be replicated with a sushi bar within a quarter mile.

Maybe this is nostalgia, or maybe this is great up-bringing. I recently read a blog (click on the link to see the post shared by Amy Lee) that discussed the value of horseback riding for young girls. And I thought that the author was absolutely spot-on. Manipulating something bigger than you with a gentle nudge, learning the responsibility of mucking stalls, and understanding the strength and potential danger of such a large animal are all valuable lessons. And how wonderful it feels to combine the power, the pride, and exhilaration of all of the hard work, companionship, and respect that goes into the horse and rider relationship. There is really nothing else like it.

The horse isn't the only part of this equation. The horse represents so much more. I want my dogs to run without leashes or fences (where I'm not required to pick up their potty). I want my kids to play without traffic. I want to sunbathe without neighborhood children arriving in my yard. To heck with the conveniences. On mile 800-and-something yesterday, I realized that I bought a $2.00 cup of coffee without batting an eye. Not a latte, not a frappe, a 12 ounce cup of coffee. I have been known to agonize over a $12.00 bag of beans in the store, that will last us for weeks, but I dropped $2.00 without seriously considering it, just because I was on the road. One day, I'm going to brew a WHOLE POT OF COFFEE in my house, and actually be there to drink it. Preferably on a porch. Without neighbors. Where the dogs can run. And my kids can go love on their horse. Forget Target. I'll make a weekly run to Harris Teeter with an actual list and buy everything that I need for the week--without forgetting mustard. 

I don't know when and I don't know where (although I would imagine we'll be somewhere in Iredell County,) but I can assure you, my future plans include a horse. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How to Talk to (Little) Girls

I have seen several people share an article by Lisa Bloom entitled "How to Talk to Little Girls." It is a fascinating article where Lisa shares her conscious efforts to speak to little girls as if they are more important than their appearances. This seems like an incredibly obvious goal, but when I consider my conversations with two-year-old Sophie Worsham, I realize that I am hard-pressed to talk about anything besides her gorgeous curls, her beautiful "big girl" pearl necklace, or the color of her toe nails. Granted, she's two and a half. But, as Lisa points out, like most children, Sophie loves books. She devours them like candy, and is bright enough to tell me about them. Unfortunately, I have fallen in the little girl conversation trap. Even with my Girls Preparatory School background where we were told we could do and be anything we wanted, all of my sorority training in self-defense and leadership opportunities, and now in an industry where I feel I am making some headway with gender, I fall into the little girl conversation trap. How is this possible? And what does it say about our society when someone as socially aware of potential gender gaps as I am, flubs it up as well? 

Fast forward from Sophie. Our little girl conversations translate into real gender issues when dealing with women. If from a young age, we condition our children to think of girls as pretty, dainty, beautiful, and sexy without conditioning them to think of girls as equal, strong, and capable, then we are embracing a society where women are not equal to men. Because like it or not, "pretty" and "dainty" just don't measure up to "strong" and "capable." I have had two personal encounters in the last week where I have found this to be incredibly true.

The first situation has been at YMCA boot camp. There were eight of us enrolled in the class. After a few days, I measured myself up as in the 50th percentile--let's be honest, I'm pretty competitive, and am aware of where I stand. I would not claim to be the strongest, most athletic, or most coordinated. But, I knew that from working out over the last few years, I could hang right in the middle of the pack. Unfortunately, the other two women who were originally part of the group have fallen by the wayside (one, of which, I measured up to be top 2-3 in the class with her abilities.) This left me and the men. One of the men is an older gentleman, who is clearly not in the best shape of his life. He should be proud of his commitment and that he is trying to work on his fitness level, but at this point, I can run circles around him. Somehow, though, he has decided that he and I are on the same playing field. As the only female left in the group, he considers me inferior in my abilities. In fact, his joke today was that he's next to last in line, but that I'm last. I refrained from pointing out that I'm last because I've been nice to him and didn't want him to look so obviously out of shape. Additionally, the instructor likes for me to go behind him because I don't crowd him. But this guy has spent the last 60 years of his life thinking that women aren't as capable as he is. His manners are plenty nice. He's happy to hold the door for me. But the thought that I could be in better physical shape that he is, blows his mind. 

In a separate situation, there was an employee at Maymead who I went to bat for last week. He is a young kid, had done a decent job, and needed a slight raise. I asked for it, got it, and told him. Instead of being grateful, within two days, he was hanging out in the office saying that everything that needed to be done for the day was finished--at 9:30am. That clearly wasn't true. I sent him back to do something else. Within an hour, he was back in the office, ready to go home. So I sent him to do something else. Rarely do I directly assign tasks, but this guy clearly needed direction--which I gave him. He came back in the office a few more times, the last of which I told him that it was obvious to me that he just needed to leave work. If he had something to take care of, he should have let someone know--but that I didn't have time for excuses and general bull. I told him to leave for the day, handle his personal life, and come back on Thursday. I assumed this is what he did. Until he rolled in on Thursday, took way too long to half-way perform a task, and then left without permission. So I gave him a warning today. I didn't get worked up, I explained what his short-comings were, that it was a warning, but that if he didn't get it together, he would lose his job. Now, if ANY of my male counterparts had done this, they might have gotten a glare, some hesitation, and then the warning sheet would have been signed. I've never seen it work any other way. But at 5'2", I suppose I look like someone who can be argued with. Unfortunately for him, I am not. I told him to sign it or not, but to get back to work; the facts were the facts. This is also a statement that could have been made by a number of men in my work-life, that would have gotten little-to-no reaction. But not me. I'm supposed to be "dainty" and "pretty," without an original thought. So he decided that I was a "damn bitch." Uh-oh. I can tell you that this "dainty" and "pretty" 5'2" lady (or "damn bitch," if you prefer) fired his tail. It's unfortunate for him that this was the situation. 

I'm not making excuses for him, but if he hadn't been raised to think that women can be run over, he might still have a job. If he hadn't decided, somewhere down the line, that he had to accept authority from men but not from women, he would have signed the stupid warning sheet and gone back to work. And if he hadn't grown up thinking that women don't have original thoughts, he wouldn't have tried lying last week, instead of admitting he had an issue that he needed to handle. 

Lisa seems to have hit the nail on the head. But it's really not about baby dolls and princess shoes, and it's not even just about little girls. Little boys understand how adults treat little girls, too. Little boys need the message that their female peers are just as capable and smart as they are. It's important so that grown up men will understand this too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Time for the High Heels Part...

I am currently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. She says she wrote this book, not out of extreme unhappiness, but in an effort to identify ways to improve her already-quite-happy life; I have decided to read her book and choose some of her principles to apply to my life as well. While I have found the reading interesting, the most poignant phrase thus far has been: 

"...both men and women find relationships with women to be more intimate and enjoyable than those with men. Women have more feelings of empathy for other people than men do...In fact, for both men and women--and this finding struck me as highly significant--the most reliable predictor of not being lonely is the amount of contact with women." 

Now, I do not intend to make this an uber-feminist blog or blog posting, but I have found this statement to be incredibly true in my life. One of the most unsatisfying parts of many of my days has been a lack of interaction with females. The construction industry is making a number of attempts to recruit women, but there's no argument that it is still largely a boys' club. One of my lifelines has been the few (but growing) industry relationships that I have been fortunate to find. Some of these women might even be surprised to know that they've made an impact, since we've had infrequent contact. But the simple knowledge that they are out there, or a brief conversation at a larger meeting, is enough interaction to boost my perspective. 

1. Various EEO Officers. I have said on more than one occasion that when I walk into a room at an industry event, I do a mental tally of women in the room. I have never found more than half a dozen in one place--until my first EEO officer training session. It was there that I FOUND THE WOMEN! Apparently, construction firms have decided that their EEO officers should be minorities, and women fit the bill. This is quite empowering to me, since these people (myself included) are tasked with ensuring that opportunities are afforded to anyone qualified for a position--regardless of race or gender. Finding women at this seminar was awesome! 

2. Christie Barbee, Carolina Asphalt Pavement Association. Christie has the job that I thought I wanted when I graduated from college--she lobbies on the state level in North Carolina and runs CAPA. She is an incredibly accomplished woman and has interacted with more than her fair share of men in the construction industry for a number of years. Her approach to running meetings, being light-hearted but professional at the same time, and speaking up for her cause has been a wonderful source of inspiration to me. It has also taught me that sometimes I should be glad that I didn't get what I wanted--wearing blue jeans a few days a week to work really is very nice. 

3. Blair Williamson, S.L. Williamson Co. Blair is the president of her family's highway construction company, and has been involved in her family's business for two decades. She has been a fixture at the Old Dominion Highway Contractor's Association for as long as I can remember and is well-respected in the industry--not as a successful woman, but as a successful business-person. She has always held her own at any table of construction industry execs--and is often asked her opinion, which is one of the highest compliments that can be given. 

4. Paula Grant Shuford, Herman Grant Co. Inc. Paula has been a new source of inspiration to me via technology. As the owner of her family's asphalt plant parts and equipment company, she has also been in the minority when it comes to her gender and her profession. As a fellow Girls Preparatory School alumna, and a friend of my parents, Paula and I have connected via Facebook. It is wonderful to have one of my posts validated by a simple "like" button, or a comment along the lines of "so true!" Simply knowing that someone else has similar thoughts or interactions (such as being accused of "only being the receptionist who obviously can't make a decision" by a telemarketer) goes a long way to keeping me inspired during the day. 

5. May Roark, Maymead, Inc. My grandmother is one of the most respected individuals in our company. At 81 years old, she commands the respect, fear and prompt response of over 200 men daily. She rocks. 

6. Mary Katherine Wright Salyer, Wright Brothers Construction Co. Inc.  Mary and I have very literally grown up together--from summer jobs at our companies, to our first full-time positions, we have commiserated and celebrated every minor milestone or aired each tiny gripe. We will grow old together in the midst of all of these men.

These women have made a difference to my professional and personal life with their simple presence, kind words, and trail blazing. They have helped to make high heels a more common sight in the construction board room, and I thank them for that. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Construction Lifts Economy

I just ran across an article entitled "Reconstruction Lifts Economy After Disasters." In this article, the author goes to great lengths to discuss how complete devastation, brought about by natural forces, can be a good thing for the economy. While this sounds heartless, he makes sure to state that the recent tornadoes should never be considered a positive occurrence. But since they happened, one of the effects has been to put a number of people back to work. 

Now, I follow his logic. Power lines, telephone towers, roads, bridges, homes, offices--they all have to be repaired. But my question is this: Why does it take a natural disaster for us to employ people who do this kind of work? The obvious answer, from someone who spent much of last week explaining this exact problem to our Congressmen and women, is funding. There is no funding for repairs to power lines, telephone towers, roads, bridges, homes and offices--unless they are destroyed beyond imagination. Taking this to an extreme, our approach, as Americans, is that if it is broken, but not completely obsolete, there is no reason to pay for any kind of upgrade or basic maintenance. But if it gets destroyed, we will pay for it from the beginning. This is like saying that you aren't willing to put freon in your air-conditioning unit, but when it burns itself up, you'll be willing to stroke the check for a new unit. (Mechanically-inclined people can forgive me, if this isn't an excellent illustration.) 

I am not advocating against rebuilding these areas. Far from it. But I am confused by why, with an over-abundance of homes in the market, we will rush to rebuild new homes, instead of considering relocation. Why we will allow our bridges to fall before our very eyes, but aren't willing to pay for improved structural soundness to ensure their stability. Or why we will allow so many individuals in our nation to live without internet, while the rest of us have it at our fingertips. Private homes are one thing (and certainly a topic for each individual to decide upon), but I am blown away that we can pay the lowest tax rates since 1950 and still be unwilling to pay for our infrastructure. 

I will not pretend that I don't have a dog in the fight. For generations, my family has been able to run a successful construction business because of government funding. Individuals don't typically pay for roads--it's just the way that it works. But our nation's infrastructure is much larger than roads and bridges. When people laugh at President Obama when he calls for high speed internet across the country, it's not a laughing matter. There are children right here in Appalachia who don't have indoor bathrooms, much less access to the internet. How will those children be able to compete in a world, where other youngsters entertain themselves with their parents' iPhones and understand the basic functions of touch screens before they are two? In the same vein, North Carolina has an initiative to pave dirt roads. How is it possible that in 2011, there are still public roads in the U.S. that are unpaved? More than that, how are there people in the U.S. who aren't willing to pay to pave roads that are currently dirt? 

The devastation suffered in Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia is something that we all have to respond to. I feel that there is a moral obligation to help those who have been affected by the worst tornado season on record. But I also feel that we should respond to the needs of our nation, outside of natural disasters. Consider how many more men and women could get back to work, if we devoted consistent funding to the infrastructure of our nation (for every $1 billion spent on highway infrastructure, 28,000 jobs are supported.) If we fail to do so, we may have a very different disaster on our hands: the disaster of uneducated children, inaccessible goods and services, and infrastructure that collapses around our ears. This has been the message of the economic recovery since the stimulus bill. But the bill caused so much consternation, and the funds were spent in so many different directions, that the impact it could have had--if funneled to infrastructure--was weakened.  

It's amazing to me, that we have been debating this for almost 30 months (that's how long it's been since ARRA passed), and it takes a natural disaster to bring the focus back to the importance of our infrastructure and it's ability to buoy our whole economy, if we are willing to invest the necessary funds to do so. The men and women in Washington should not just respond to infrastructure needs because they are required to. And they honestly shouldn't be afraid of constituents who are worked up over paying a few more dollars in taxes every year. We are not over-taxed, but we are under-funded. They should invest in infrastructure needs of all kinds because it is the right thing to do. It should not require funnel clouds a mile wide to spur action. And it's pathetic that the only action taken is action that is not optional, but spurred on by emergency needs. 

One day we will wake up and realize that all of the "optional" spending that we've been debating really wasn't "optional," either. Right now, our national air conditioning unit could use some freon. And if we wait too long, we may wind up buying the whole unit. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"It's Not About You (Insert 'Me')"

Dr. Oakes, one of my English professors at Furman, posted this article that ran in the New York Times on May 31, and it really spoke to me. As a 2007 graduate of Furman University, I do not consider myself a "recent graduate," but parts of this article really resonated. 

I have been contemplating a blog for some time, but couldn't decide what it should be about. This article really seemed to be the catalyst for my idea. Life isn't always what you expect. Life isn't always what you plan for. This comes as a great shock and disappointment to a consummate planner like myself. But the point isn't that life hasn't worked out as I wanted it to (because many parts really have!)--the point is that no one should know EXACTLY what they want out of life at the infinitely knowledgeable age of 21. Life is about learning, growing, and experiencing. 

Whether it is about finding new challenges, ways to become a better person, learning more about myself and the people around me, or growing as a believer, life is full of turns in the road, and I'm happy to share those with you.