Sunday, May 31, 2009

Today I am Thankful For...

Family... Specifically:
  • Yesterday I moved from my cute little house in the river valley back to my parents' house in the suburbs. It is a huge blessing that my parents are letting me crash at their place for two months so I can save up some extra money for moving expenses.
  • In the process of moving, my independent self had determined that I could do it all on my own, with the exception of my bed and my couch. To move those items, I would need to borrow my Dad's truck and would also need his help to get them out of my house and into the truck. Well, not only was he more than happy to help with that, he also loaded everything else into his truck, came back for a second load, took my designated charity boxes to Goodwill, and then came back for a third load when I realized that the remainder of my stuff would not fit in my car like I originally planned.
  • After coming to my new home, tired and worn out from the packing, moving and cleaning of the old home, supper was ready on the table! Now, lest you think I'm spoiled (though, let's be serious, I might be), my mom will not be cooking me supper every night. Instead, the cooking of supper in my family's home is generally a team project, with everyone contributing different parts of the cooking depending on when they get home. At least that's how I remember it...
  • And on the same vein of moving... While I miss the mature trees and backyard of my old place (my parents haven't laid the sod in their new house), I am thankful for the beautiful view of the slough outside my parents' backyard. I think Edmonton has done a great job of creating nice green spaces in the suburbs.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Every time I move, I attempt to purge the huge accumulation of stuff that I feel the need to lug around. As I am currently packing for my third move in 2 years, I thought by now the purging would have finally been complete. And before I started, I wondered how I could have possibly made it through two moves WITHOUT purging anything of value.

But then it comes time to actually throw away stuff. Back in the day, there was no Victoria's Secret in Canada, so I stocked up on lotions every time I was in the US. Lotions that I never use. But then it came time to throwing out a bottle of lotion nearly 3/4 full and it was hard.

Then I got to a box full of stuffed animals. Let's be serious... what girl in her late 20s needs a box of stuffed animals? So I started putting them with the other stuff going to Goodwill. And then I pulled out Daphne, my old, worn Cabbage Patch doll with the partially braided long hair. Well, she's not in nearly good enough condition to donate to charity, but I can't possibly throw her away. I've decided that I need just one box of those extra sentimental childhood memories. When I have a more permanent home, those dolls can come with me and my nieces can play with them. (Note: I have no nieces yet... probably won't until well after I'm established more permanently...)

Anyway, I now see why I have such a large accumulation of stuff. On the plus side, I have packed less than I have thrown away or designated to charity, so I'm making progress. My mom told me I couldn't bring home more than what will fit in my car, so I guess I'd better be ruthless!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Stop and Smell the Lilacs

Running is my new stress-reliever. I got home from work today feeling wound up, and recognizing this in myself, I knew I needed to just run it off and process my day. It worked...

If you're not from Edmonton, this may sound odd, but today was the first day I've gone running and seen the trees full of leaves. I've been watching them bud for a few weeks now, and waiting anxiously for this beautiful day. And it was a beautiful day, as I set off for my run. Not only were the streets much more green, but the scent of lilacs also filled the air.

As I ran, I processed what's really on my mind. I feel as though I am in the midst of this immense struggle to really be present. I have 37 days of work left... That translates into 296 hours and 17,760 minutes. Being at work right now is a huge opportunity to build up my resume before I head off to school. But my head is way in the clouds, daydreaming about the upcoming move to Virginia. I'm getting everything done, but that drive that I need to really finish with finesse is just not there.

I'm sure that most of you can agree with me that there is nothing wrong with being excited about Virginia. But today is a gift that we have, that we only get once. The events of each day are so important. To "waste" time is a grand indiscretion. Plus, and I don't say this to sound ominous, we never know whether tomorrow will come. But we do have today.

Like my last post, I wish I had more answers than questions. This is something that I'm still trying to figure out, and would love to solve by the time my alarm goes off tomorrow morning.

The buds on the trees, though I couldn't see it, were spending their time very deliberately. There was a seasoning and a development process that was required before they could be exposed as the rich, green leaves they are today. Had they "checked out" (analogy is weak, but, you know... tried to rush the process, gave up taking in the nutrition from the tree, etc.) because they were just too anxious about being leaves, the end product would not have been quite as spectacular.

The title of this blog posting is "Stop and Smell the Lilacs," but I have a confession. I only slowed down to take in a whiff. Alas, patience is a virtue that is still in the bud stage for me.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Finding the Contentment/Striving Balance

Sometimes I feel as though my life is the dichotomy of two desires. On one end, there is the need to be content, just as I am. On the polar opposite, there is the desire to be constantly struggling for growth and improvement.

These are both important, but sometimes I wonder where the balance is. Part of me thinks it is only possible to truly grow and stretch when we are secure in who we are and content at where we are in life.

This was something running through my mind as I was jogging the other morning. It was less than 2 months ago that I started, and at that point, I was doing about 4km and alternating between walking and running. Now, I can run a full 7 km without taking walking breaks. But now it feels inadequate when I only do 5 km. So it got me thinking... where is the balance between being happy with what we've accomplished and striving for more improvement and more growth? I'm a natural driven person, so I feel as though I'm always aiming for more. Sometimes I don't really know how long to enjoy that plateau before I start striving for the next step.

Now, I hope that you didn't read the title of my blog and start reading because you thought I had answers. Instead, I have only questions. The only thing that I can really come up with is that I think that balance and the dichotomy of desires is important. Contentment keeps us from going crazy, and the need for striving and growth is what really makes life worth living.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fear Insignificance, Not Failure

The secret to success is learning to fear insignificance more than failure.

It's been said that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. In "The 4-Hour Work Week" by Tim Ferriss, he suggests that the opposite of happiness is not sadness, but boredom. And now I'm learning that the opposite of success is not failure, but insignificance.

Failure is a remarkably splendid thing. We learn more from failure than from success. I remember the last time I lost a game of "Settlers of Catan." I was poised to win, completely dominating the game right from the outset. But I made a fatal flaw, my opponents exploited it, and I spent the last half of the game completely frustrated while everyone else caught up and someone else won. I learned a lot from that loss, though. I learned lessons that I can use in future games, as well as in actual business strategy. (Yes, I'm that competitive/nerdy) Ironically, I had won the game before, but I don't remember learning anything from that.

Although my competitive streak would suggest I think otherwise, my significance in life is not defined by how many board games I win. However, this is still an important example. When things don't turn out how we expect, it gives us an opportunity to examine what went wrong to change for next time. It forces us to look inside and examine our assumptions. Failure provides the impetus for change.

Anyone who has achieved anything of significance has experienced failure. If we give up when it gets rough or we experience setbacks, we're going to find that life becomes monotonous and repetitive. Success is dependent on stepping out, taking risks and embracing the failures for they are worth. Experiencing failure does not make us failures, unless we choose to stop after failing.

For a heartwearming end to this blog post, check out this inspirational Milk commercial. Also, John Maxwell brings a much more seasoned and in-depth look at failure in his book, "Failing Forward."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Scent-Induced Memories

This morning, before going for a run, I put on sunscreen for the first time this season. (Despite being blonde and fair-skinned, I don't wear sunscreen anywhere near the frequency that I should.) As I squeezed the sunscreen into my hand, the smell aroused some powerful memories. Immediately I was transported to my suite in Cuba, a fun day at Sylvan Lake, my summer camp counselling days and sitting by the pool in Phoenix working on my leadership presentation over Reading Week.

It's amazing how our memory filter works. I love that when looking back on life, it's the good memories that stick. Every adventure has its ups and downs. But looking back in time, it's only the ups that we really remember. We might, if prompted, remember the challenges, but the weight of those challenges, however insurmountable they have have seemed at the time, is diminished by the fun memories and victories we achieved. I suppose the lesson in that is to endure the challenges and the hard times if they lead to good things. It's so cliche to say that "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger," but I think it's even more important to realize that anything good is going to come with challenges, and if the "good thing" is worthwhile, putting up with the challenges is, too.

This was crossing my mind as I thought about my upcoming road trip with my sisters. We've been on a few road trips together. Since our family drove for almost all our family vacations, the three of us are well-conditioned to travelling together. I know that in our travels, we have absolutely fought and argued and gotten mad at each other. But I don't remember any of those specific incidents. What sticks in my mind is the fun adventures that we've had, being silly together ("I noticed you're not wearing any galoshes"), talking about whatever meaningful conversation comes up, playing stupid car games, pulling over to the side of the road to take completely random pictures and doing "chinese fire drills"* to switch drivers when one of us would get tired.

Well, this post has really migrated away from what I originally intended it to be. All this to say I'm so excited about driving down to C'ville with my sisters in August!

*Chinese Fire Drills: When the light turns red, everyone gets out of the car, runs around it, and hops back in. In this case, we changed seats when hopping back in.
As a further note, the irony of the term struck me as I wrote it. I recently came across the term "Canadian Tuxedo" and had the most perplexing time trying to figure out why a wardrobe combination of all denim would be somehow associated with Canadians. While I still don't have an answer, I wonder if any Chinese people will read my blog and wonder why running around the car and calling it a "fire drill" is associated with the Chinese. Sorry... I don't know!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Coming Together...

Some "exciting" developments this week. I have most of my visa papers together. My I-20 came through courier on Tuesday, and I paid the SEVIS fee today, so I just have to wait for one more form to come in the mail and I'll be set on that front. I can't tell you how much of a relief it is to not have to go through an interview!

For moving, I have secured a bed, desk and bookshelf, which was really the extent of the furniture I planned to buy, since my roommate will be moving most of hers and that will make for a fully furnished apartment. I got it from a graduated Darden student, so it was all used (read "cheap" :-) ) and will be available pretty much when I arrive.

The most exciting news of the week is that both my sisters have confirmed their vacation time and are going to be making the drive down to C'ville with me! They booked their plane tickets home today.

And the least progress this week has been on packing. In just over a week, I will move in to my parents' house to save some extra money for moving and wardrobe updating (this running is taking it's toll on my wardrobe... my clothes are all getting too big!). To date, I have packed half a box of my grandmother's china. So that will likely occupy my spare time over the next week.

Darden finally released the pre-enrollment modules, and planning on being able to just zip right through them, I was stopped dead in my tracks on the first question of the Excel module. See, I'm kind of an Excel ninja (a term coined by my former "BUS 201" prof). I can do a lot of really awesome fancy stuff. However, I'm still operating in old Excel 2003, and next year I will be using 2007. SO, I will have to spend some time with 2007 before I can take the module. Since that will require downloading the trial version with little enough time that I can buy a copy from the school before it expires, the pre-enrollment modules will just have to wait until after I move.

Anyway... did not intend to make this so long! This evening totally got away from me. After watching what ended up being a 2-hour season finale of Ugly Betty (show I am most ashamed of watching...), a 40 minute phone call to our "beloved" Internet provider who had shut off our service in the transition to my roommate's name, a quick run before the sun set, and finally the toilet plugging up, I barely finished what I really wanted to accomplish. And the messages waiting in my various inboxes will just have to go unanswered another evening...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Choose Happiness

Lately, I've gotten caught in the trap of thinking that joy and happiness are something that are supposed to be bestowed on me by some sort of external force, blessing or circumstance. This is something I've blogged about before, so if you want all the reasoning for why happiness is internally generated, you can read that. (And, if you don't believe me, check out this Freakonomics blog or this Cracked article.) Today what is really on my mind is what DOES make us happy.

There are many studies out there, I am sure, which go into the specifics of how to raise kids happy, whether happiness is genetic, whether religious people or political people or whatever are more happy. But, since I am fairly fixed in all of the above factors, those studies have little bearing on my disposition.

Instead, I have discovered that happiness and positivity are a choice. It comes down to what we choose to tell ourselves about our circumstances and how we look at things.

Here's a confession: I get road rage. I don't know if it's my competitive side, or just leftover anger issues from when I was a child (I threw tantrums and stuff... those aren't really acceptable anymore, so I just take it out when I drive, maybe?), but I definitely road rage. (For anyone who doesn't know me... I'm really not an angry person. In fact, anyone who knows me doesn't believe I road rage until they witness it firsthand.)

Anyway, there is pretty much one freeway that connects my house to the rest of my life (work, parents' house, friends' houses, etc.), there are no side streets I can take to avoid it, and it's under construction. Construction which makes the drive home from work mind-numbingly slow. Any number of factors can set me off on the drive home, and I often arrive home completely stressed out from the drive.

However, seeing that this was a growing trend, I decided to see what happened if I just chose to look at the situation differently. "Okay, Julie, there's nothing you can do to make this traffic move any faster. You are not in a rush, and there is no benefit to arriving home even 5 minutes earlier." As patronizing as I may be to myself, it actually works. Nothing external changed, but the way I saw the situation changed.

Our circumstances really have little bearing on our disposition. We can blame them for our disposition, and many people will probably understand. But ultimately, we are the ones who need to choose how we see life and how we frame our circumstances.

Going into this week, I choose positivity. I choose to stop stressing over the construction on the Whitemud. I choose to appreciate that the snow tomorrow morning will save me from watering my lawn. And I hope that by making these small choices, it will become a habit to choose positivity in the big things as well.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Blog With an Identity Crisis

Though I haven't started writing, I have a feeling this might get long. You may want to grab a cup of tea before you start reading... I know I just did.

As I mentioned in my previous blog posting, this recent surge of blogging activity has been due to inspiration from the Darden Student Bloggers. After spending time over the last few days reading over their blogs, I decided that I would read another blog: my own. I went back in time to 2005 and reminisced over the trials, lessons, joys and pains of the last four years.

It was quite interesting to get reacquainted with myself. It was interesting to look back on my dreams and ambitions of years past and see how far I've come. I'm actually amazed, not only at how my goals and career ambitions have remained solid, but at how much progress has been made against those goals.

But I digress...

When I first started blogging, it was an outlet of exploring my life and my faith and their interactions. As I've developed more and more of a passion for things like business, social justice and corporate social responsibility (CSR), I've blogged about those things as well. And, more recently, I've put forth a practical, more newsy voice as I talk about the specifics of moving to the US to attend a top business school. (Yes, I have to keep writing that, since Darden isn't as well known here in Western Canada!)

So I'm at a point where I don't really know whether I should be blogging about deep thoughts on life, my faith, business, social justice and responsibility or my upcoming life at Darden. And, my strategic mind things that all of these belong on separate blogs, maintained by separate identities.

But I think the big challenge and joy in life is learning to merge all that we are. I should never be shy about my faith. Even though there are Christians out there who have made it embarassing at times to claim ties to this faith (and, to be fair, I am FAR from perfect or even loving or graceful), it is still something that is absolutely foundational to who I am. My faith and business cannot be separate.

At the same time, I can't separate out my passions for business, social justice and CSR. And while those things may not seem as though they fit together, they are the main motivation for pursuing an MBA. And the social justice is rooted in my faith...

And I don't want to separate out my journeys to Darden. There has been something encouraging and inspiring about reading about the student blogs, and I want a record of my own journeys. I love looking back on my own journey and seeing how things really did end up. It ties back to my faith and seeing God's hand in the ordinary, sometimes mundane, yet entirely beautiful journey of my life.

So, here it is, unapologetically: my blog with an identity crisis. If I were attempting to make revenue from this blog, I would separate it into three or four blogs to attract different audiences.

But I'm not. And the truth is that while others may eavesdrop, (and I do try to pan my perspectives out to be broader than my own circumstances) this blog is ultimately for me. Reading over the last four years of my life, I've gotten back in touch with a girl who loves to think, ponder and write, and I'd like to keep her around a little more.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Experience, Advice and Social Networking

Yes, two blogs in one day. That's what happens when I've got lots on my mind and chose to eat my lunch from home rather than going out with all my co-workers.

Anyway, I've come to appreciate the value of social networking more than I ever thought possible over the last few weeks. I've also come to learn just how valuable our experience is, simply as experience and not as expertise.

Rather than launching into a long expository, I'll just give some examples.

  • The BusinessWeek website has a forum for MBA students. While in recent weeks, this site temporarily lost much of its usefulness, during the height of application season, it was very valuable to me. Not only did I meet people from all over the world, I also gleaned tons of useful information. It was good to hear other people's interview experiences and application tips.
  • Being involved on the BWForum has lead to several people writing to ask me advice on various topics. A while back, I got an email asking how the Canadian economy was really doing. (This was before the commodity drop, and I'm still very satisfied with the answer I gave.) Most recently, I got an email from someone who will be applying asking for advice. While I initially thought it funny that someone would ask ME advice, I realized that I do have knowledge having gone through the admissions process myself. As someone who is never shy about giving advice, I realized that I actually had to hold myself back from writing a novel.
  • Reading the blogs from the Darden Student Bloggers has been awesome. They've been through everything that I will go through in a few short months, and their insight into the process has been much appreciated. In fact, I can attribute my recent surge in blogging activity to their inspiration! Though I know that I will not be able to escape "Black November," I am starting to think hard about how to keep the main things in my life the main things next year. (Plus, who can forget that I learned about the U2 concert AND found someone to go with through one of those blogs...)
  • Twitter... When I first started on Twitter, I thought it was dumb. Then I came across a blog with a link to Darden students, future students and alum and just started following them. Thinking it would be nothing more than the people I was following wondering who the random girl was, instead they started following me and even sending me messages! I've learned a lot just from following their tweets. If I have questions about prepping for student life, I just post it to my profile, and I ALWAYS get a response... usually several.
  • Facebook - But of course. Though the value of Facebook has only been slightly marginal in terms of school so far, I am looking forward to being kept informed of the pre-school activities when I arrive in C'ville. I've made several "friends" so far and am getting to know my future classmates.

Anyway... Social networking is, in my opinion, one of the best features of the Internet. I could go on and on about people that I've met through these various forums, but there are just so many stories that they would get boring after a while. (That is, if they haven't already...)

And... having experience makes your information and insight valuable.

Canadians and US Student Visas

Okay... this is the part where I share my story so that if any Canadians entering the US to go to school happen to be reading this, they will avoid my stress.

With all due respect to the US, while Canadians are pretty much immersed in American culture from early in life, Americans just don't really think of Canadians at all. This isn't a dig at Americans, it's just something that makes sense when you consider the population and influence of the US vs. the population and influence of Canada.

Anyway, there is an agreement between the US and Canada called NAFTA which basically makes trade rules different between the countries than between all other international countries. For a long time, Canadians didn't even need a passport to go to the US (or Mexico, for that matter). Since 9/11 this has changed, but the change has been gradual and hasn't even been fully implemented.

This is a really long explanation for my short story. I was always under the impression that acquiring a visa required sending away your passport to get a visa stamped in it. This process, if affected by red tape, could take an unknown number of days.

My best friend is getting married in Iowa on July 24. I want to be down there a week ahead of time to help get ready and throw lots of parties for her. However, since you need a passport to fly into the US, I was under a ton of stress hoping that I would get my passport back in time.

Well... in an effort to expedite the process, I went to see how the whole interview booking process worked last night. After entering all my information, I got a message saying I didn't need a visa to enter the States.

So, I emailed the international students office at UVA (which has been quite helpful, by the way!) and got the reply this morning that I only need my I-20, not a visa in my passport.

Which is a relief... but I wonder why I stressed so much!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spring Beauty

This morning, I had the pleasure of getting outside for a run before the weather took a nasty turn for the worse.

Spring is awesome. The trees are JUST starting to bud now and I know that any day there will be big green leaves on the branches which look bare now from a distance. The ducks and seagulls were out on the river, and it was just a beautiful morning all around. I think God woke me up this morning for my run (I hadn't set my alarm since I was up late last night) just so that I could remember that He really does love me, snow aside.

One of the things that I both love and hate about myself is that I feel a strong connection to nature. This isn't the type of nature connection that leads me to be passionate about sleeping in tents; rather, it is a draw that gives me immense peace when I catch the beauty of nature. Sometimes, I'll be having the WORST day, and I'll be walking up the path to my door, glance up, notice the clear night sky complete with Northern Lights, and remember that the same God who took the time to make all that beautiful is going to create beauty in my own life. I remember another such reminder when I was in Cuba. Though I was on vacation, we'd had a long day and I was tired and needed some alone time. I went down to walk along the deserted beach, and my timing enabled me to catch the gorgeous ocean sunset. Being alone with that view just gave me peace.

There have been so many experiences like that in my life.

This morning was a moment like that. Though there was nothing on my mind, considering the nasty weather that we have now, I feel blessed to have experienced the pleasantly crisp, but sunny, start to the day.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Already Behind

School is not slated to start for more than 3 months, but I already feel behind. There's an organization called JumpStart that provides career and networking resources for minority students. Not that I've ever really thought of myself as a minority before, but being a woman in business apparently makes me one!

Anyway, JumpStart has a program called Virtual Coach, which requires the completion of various assignments throughout the months leading up to B-school. My next assignment is due tomorrow, and I had completely forgotten about it. This would be fine except we have the wrap-up for the junior high girls mentoring program I've been volunteering with tonight. I will definitely be able to get it done, but the significant value that I get out of the Virtual Coach comes from the time I put into it. Seeing as how I am looking to make a career switch and get into consulting, which is the most competitive industry other than finance, I need to get as much value as I can! Secondly, I was supposed to get feedback from people in my network on my strengths and weaknesses. Fortunately, I tend to keep a record of these things, so I should be able to pull it off.

For now, I will blame my "behindness" on not being in the zone. These last few months were supposed to be for relaxing, but in a soft economy, no one can afford to just relax!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Mothers are amazing. Having friends who are going through the childbirthing stages of life, I can really see all that mothers go through, both in the process of becoming a mother, and in all the years following. Pregnancy and childbirth don't really seem like much of a picnic, nor do sleepless nights and diaper changing. Then, as children grow up and develop personalities of their own and start making their own decisions, there are always challenges to be faced.

My own mother is amazing. When I hear other people talk about typical mothers, I can never really identify. Many people complain about how their mothers talk and nag, but my mom isn't like that at all. She's always been the "strong, silent type." She speaks when she has something relevant to say. Though there have been times when she's given me wisdom or correction in my life, I have never felt as though she nagged. Well, maybe in junior high, but that was probably more due to my own attitude than hers.

More importantly than anything, my mom has been a great example. She has had a very successful career, and yet has always been able to keep her priorities straight, staying home to work when my sisters and I were in elementary school, and making time to serve others. Her (and my father) have always made me and my sisters believe that we can do anything we want. As I head off to do my MBA at a top business school in the US, my sisters are preparing for their own successful careers. (Ironically, I will be the only daughter who doesn't get to put "Dr." in front of her name!) I have no doubt that it was the strong support and encouragement of our parents that have led us down these paths.

Anyway, I think it's great that we have a day to honour mothers. For all they do and contribute to this world, one day hardly seems enough. I suppose, Mom, since you lost at the board games today, we'll have to have a mother's day sequel and let you win. ;-)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

I Love Lucy Gender Role Commentary

Today I turned on the TV, and "I Love Lucy" happened to be on. It was the episode where Lucy and Ricky switch roles. Ricky (I hope that's his name; I rarely watch the show!) does the housework and Lucy goes to work in a chocolate factory.

As I watched the show, I got kind of irritated. It's funny how much our society has evolved over the last 50 years or so and how that kind of humour would never really fly today. In the relationships between my married friends, housework and cleaning are split equally. Other than friends on maternity leave, I don't know any women who don't work.

When I was doing my undergrad, I took a course called "Perspectives" taught by, what I thought at the time, an overly feminist prof. She talked about how hard it is for women in the workplace, and I thought she was off her rocker. Since taking that class, I've been working in a very male-dominated engineering firm and I must reluctantly admit that I see where she is coming from. Before I go on, I should preface my rant by saying that I get along well with my co-workers and I really appreciate them. BUT, it can be hard sitting in the lunchroom when the guys are ogling the "Sunshine Girl". Since I long stopped caring to memorize the specs of various cars and hockey stats and have never played video games (save for my periodic Sims addiction which I shouldn't even really admit to in public ;-) ), I don't fit in when the conversation drifts in those directions. Though it hasn't been a challenge thus far in my career, since I've still been able to develop tight enough relationships that I can work well with the guys I need to work with, I can see how it would be an issue if I were staying at the company long-term and wanted to, say, fit in with a partnership team that is comprised entirely of males.

Besides the typically addressed "Old Boys Club," I have to admit that there are also biological factors that can hamper a woman's career. Other than the rare (but prominently featured on Oprah) case where a man ends up carrying a baby, the woman is the one whose body is used for 9 months to carry a child. After that time, it is the woman who must breast feed her child until that stage is over. Though there are ways to shorten this process, the reality is that for women to have children, there are career sacrifices which must be made. Men don't face this same kind of trade-off. Whereas a woman must choose between family and career (if not long-term, definitely in the short-term), a man does not have this challenge.

Anyway, I don't know what can be further done about gender equality. I just found it very interesting that the gender-role-switching was so humourous back in the I Love Lucy days.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Time, Where Did You Go?

Yes, two blog posts in one day. (See below for news on the Kindle DX)

This week has completely flown by. When I found out I had gotten into Darden at the end of January, it felt like it was going to take forever to actually get there. I started counting down the number of weeks left at work when there were about 17 left, and after tomorrow, I'm down to 10. And 7 weeks ago just didn't feel that long.

My sisters, who are going to be my road trip buddies for the drive down to C'ville, are already starting to talk about booking their flights home.

Reading the blogs and Twitter posts of current and recently graduated Darden students has made me realize that my time at Darden will fly by. In the meantime, I am still working out some of the big details of going to school. It's hard to believe that in just over a year's time, I'll be starting my internship. I have no idea what the next year holds, but I know that it will be a great adventure, and that it will go by WAY too fast.

For now, it's time to stop and smell the roses that are life in Edmonton. It's time to enjoy having my long-time friends and family close by (well, most of them...), the more relaxed schedule, and the bi-monthly paycheque. :-)

Kindle DX

One of the exciting things about moving to the US is the ability to take advantage of things that should be available in Canada, but are not. These include: hulu, iTunes TV shows (sorry iTunes Canada, but I DON'T watch Little Mosque on the Prairie) and the Kindle.

A Kindle is a device produced by Amazon that allows you to download books and read them in one handy portable device. Just recently, Amazon produced the Kindle DX which has a larger screen and better graphics display than the original Kindle.

The really exciting thing is that Darden has a partnership with Amazon to do a pilot project on using the Kindle in academics. If I am lucky enough to be part of the pilot project, this would mean no paper cases and no textbooks to haul around. Plus, it would mean I get a free Kindle to test out, which would be awesome.

Anyway, if you are a fellow incoming Dardenite (I keep calling us that, if I'm wrong, someone please correct me soon!), here is some information on the project:

Darden Announcement:
UVA Announcement:
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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Let It Go...

Yesterday was a very frustrating day. To make a long story short, I got stuck doing a lot of IT stuff and felt in over my head. (I'm not an IT person... I dropped out of computing science 8 years ago so I wouldn't become an IT person, but I still know too much about computers since I grew up with them in the house as my mother is a computer programmer.) And I was at work late, staring at my computer screen getting frustrated. When that happens, I just start to feel frustrated about everything...

As I stared at my computer screen, all I could think of was that I wanted to be running through the river valley. So, when I wrapped things up and gave up for the night, that's precisely what I did.

As I was running, a song called "Daisy" by the band Switchfoot came on my iPod. As I was listening to it, I felt an immense rush of peace, and wanted to share the lyrics:

Daisy, give yourself away
Lookup at the rain
The beautiful display
Of power and surrender
Giving us today
And she gives herself away

Rain, another rainy day
Comes up from the ocean
Give herself away
She comes down easy
On rich and debt the same
And she gives herself away

Let it go
Daisy, Let it go
Open up your fist
This fallen world
Doesn't hold your interest
It doesn't hold your soul
Daisy, let it go

Pain, give yourself a name
Call yourself contrition
Avarice or blame
Giving isn't easy
Neither is the rain
When she gives herself away

Daisy, why another day?
Why another sunrise
Who will take the blame
For all redemptive motion
And every rainy day
When he gives himself away

I don't spend enough time surrendering. I get frustrated at work because I expect myself to have all the answers right away. But they take time, and often the input of someone else with a slightly different skill set to shed a new perspective. I get frustrated with life because I expect it to fall in place the way I see it, rather than trusting God's plan and His direction.

One thing that I always need to remember is to just "let it go." Nothing that happens on a daily basis is going to shatter my life. When I get wound up, it only makes things worse. If I want to release the stress, I just need to "open up [my] fists." I get so caught up thinking that it's success and accomplishments that matter in life, when really they are far down the list of what TRULY matters. It's easy to get caught up in what is tangible and easy to measure and let the things that truly matter - my faith, my family, relationships, serving others - slip.

But if I can learn to let go of this obsessive drive for success and instead learn to, as one of my good friends always tells me, "breathe and let God do the rest," I think I will have fewer frustrating days.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Travelling Dreams

As I added my bucket list to my blog this past weekend, I realized that despite having about 90% of the things on the list involving travel, I have done very little travelling in my life. I've started to wonder how, as someone who really dreams of travelling, I've managed to pass it up all these years.

There are probably a million different excuses I could lay down for not doing it, but I think when it comes down to it, I just need to make a plan and go for it. A book I read a while back ("Climbing the Corporate Ladder in High Heels" by Kathleen Archambeau) suggested that we should visit three new places every year. I think, with that in mind, that it is a good thing I am moving to Virginia. Though I hit my three places last year, I've exhausted every good road tripping location within a reasonable drive from Edmonton. Though time and money will be tight next year, I'm hoping that I can get in some good low-budget road trips. At the very least, I've got a wedding in Sioux City,Iowa and a stop in Louisville, Kentucky on the drive down to Darden this summer. I shouldn't have too much trouble getting in a third destination.

Any other suggestions on getting in European travel on a very low budget?

Saturday, May 02, 2009


As a junior high student, the cross-country running unit in gym was one to be dreaded, feared and suffered through. I am definitely not a runner. But lately, I've started running. And I'll tell you a secret... I really enjoy it!

My newfound appreciation for running has stemmed from a series of lifestyle changes that I am making in an attempt to develop healthy habits. And as I went for my nice, long run this afternoon, I spent a lot of time pondering what it really takes for us to make change in our lives.

A lot of times, we are impacted by big events, but the actual changes that result from these moments are lived out in our daily choices. I cannot call myself a runner now; I still have to choose to go running every time I go. There are days when I'm tired, and would really rather lie in bed and watch an episode of Chuck on DVD, but I've been finding that I'm always glad when I instead make the choice to go for a run.

Though I've only been doing it a few weeks, I'm already finding myself in better shape. My endurance is better and I can run longer and faster. My body shape is even changing. All of these are good things, but they are not because I've started running. They are all because of the cumulative effect of making many choices to go for a run instead of sitting on the couch.