How foolish of me to admit that I’m writing a book, because wouldn’t you know it – those simple words had the powerful affect of sending the muse into hiding. I can no longer write. I simply sit in front of my computer screen and daydream. And pick my nose now and then. These few random thoughts are the best I can muster.

My new office makes me feel happy. For the first time since I started this job (4 ½ years ago), I feel like I’ve really taken ownership of my space. The first office in the old place was big and square and always felt a little awkward. I never got the desk in a position I liked it, and never got around to hanging some of the things I wanted on the walls, so it never quite felt like my space. Then I got down-sized (because we were running out of space and two people needed to share my big office) and I didn’t really have enough room in the new office to make it look pretty or even un-cluttered. Plus the walls were a dull shade of beige and seriously in need of a paint job. This space is different. I love my orange wall, and my wall of windows and I’ve hung a bunch of my favourite photos of people I’ve met in Ethiopia, India and Bangladesh. Plus I’ve got some gauzy fabric draped over my bookshelf and windows. Some of my colleagues are still working out of boxes and few of them have anything on their walls yet. They stop by my office and gaze in envy and admiration at my pretty space.

The photo that’s hanging directly above my computer screen is the one below of Dilip Arong who lives in the Sundarban Islands in India. I love LOVE this picture. We met Dilip and his family on the second last day of our trip, when we’d spent a near perfect day on a rickety old boat putt-putting along from island to island, visiting people who’d lived through a horrible flood the year before. Dilip’s amazing smile and contagious sense of joy reminds me of the beauty and resilience of the people I’m working for.

I’m meeting my friend and mentor Gisele for lunch today. Gisele will always hold a special place in my heart. She was the first person who hired me to be a manager and over the years she has taught me a lot of lessons about trusting that people will give you their best if you give them enough encouragement. The last time we had lunch, her parting words were “it feels a little like our roles have shifted and you’re starting to mentor me.”

At lunch time one day last week, I ran across the street to pick up some pictures just before 1:00. Half an hour later, I was eating in the lunch room when someone came in and said there’d been a shooting on the street and police had taped off the bus stop in front of our building. It turns out someone got shot in the bus stop just moments after I walked past.

The fourth anniversary of this blog is coming up in a few days. My how time flies. Back then I was preparing for my first trip to Africa (to Kenya and Tanzania), and now I’ve got pictures of people I’ve met all over the world hanging on my wall. Lucky me.

Two of my favourite employees gave their notice recently (for health reasons). I’m seriously disappointed. They’ll be tough to replace. (On the bright side, B&S, it will mean I’ll have a trip or two to Alberta in the coming months. Hope, if it brings me to your neck of the woods, I’ll look you up too.)

Some years (like the year I lost my dad, my uncle, and my grandma in a three month period while working at a job I seriously hated) feel like they are just one excruciatingly long dark night of the soul. Pain upon pain is heaped upon you and all you can do is try to keep your head above water. This year feels like the opposite of that kind of year. It feels like contentment.

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