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This morning my older daughter and I were discussing our weekly dates to the farmer’s market. We are planning to find one unique ingredient and create around it during our cooking date. Which will be great fun for us both, as she is a culinary arts major and I just love to cook!

Now, my daughter is soon to be nineteen, but I was thinking about ways that younger Moms (or Dads…;) ) could begin to instill a love of cooking and culinary adventure in their wee little peeps by making everyday recipes fun and creative. As the children begin to learn the basics of cooking, they will, then be able to put their expertise together in later years, while also developing a larger and more versatile palate. AND…they are more likely to eat what “they” cooked, because they cooked it! I thought this is definitely a win/win!

So, here is the idea for this morning…I thought this was so CUTE and brilliant, I might add. ¬†Why did I not think of this? I have decorated countless cakes and cupcakes over the years and this idea still eluded me…but I am glad someone thought of it and is sharing it with the world. ūüôā

Happy cooking and enjoying precious treasures…your children!

<div style=’padding-bottom: 2px; line-height: 0px’><a href=’http://pinterest.com/pin/162129655305485778/&#8217; target=’_blank’><img src=’http://media-cache3.pinterest.com/upload/162129655305485778_bQhWbSXY_c.jpg&#8217; border=’0′ width=’500′ height =’371’/></a></div><div style=’float: left; padding-top: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px;’><p style=’font-size: 10px; color: #76838b;’>Source: <a style=’text-decoration: underline; font-size: 10px; color: #76838b;’ href=’http://firstlookthencook.com/2011/11/02/meatloaf-cupcakes/’>firstlookthencook.com</a&gt; via <a style=’text-decoration: underline; font-size: 10px; color: #76838b;’ href=’http://pinterest.com/dbonnabel/&#8217; target=’_blank’>David</a> on <a style=’text-decoration: underline; color: #76838b;’ href=’http://pinterest.com&#8217; target=’_blank’>Pinterest</a></p></div>

 


This morning my older daughter and I were discussing our weekly dates to the farmer’s market. We are planning to find one unique ingredient and create around it during our cooking date. Which will be great fun for us both, as she is a culinary arts major and I just love to cook!

Now, my daughter is soon to be nineteen, but I was thinking about ways that younger Moms (or Dads…;) ) could begin to instill a love of cooking and culinary adventure in their wee little peeps by making everyday recipes fun and creative. As the children begin to learn the basics of cooking, they will, then be able to put their expertise together in later years, while also developing a larger and more versatile palate. AND…they are more likely to eat what “they” cooked, because they cooked it! I thought this is definitely a win/win!

So, here is the idea for this morning…I thought this was so CUTE and brilliant, I might add.  Why did I not think of this? I have decorated countless cakes and cupcakes over the years and this idea still eluded me…but I am glad someone thought of it and is sharing it with the world. ūüôā

Happy cooking and enjoying time with the treasures that are truly precious in life…your children!


So, to continue our thoughts about ringing in summertime, it has been my experience that when children are small (or not so much anymore) it is easy for them to become bored relatively quickly when they are not able to do what their little hearts want…or when they simply have no idea what to do, because there are so many choices since their not confined to the classroom!

Here is a cute little idea I stumbled across while on Pinterest…well, I thought it was more than cute…I thought it was BRILLIANT! In fact, I like it so much, that I am considering creating one for myself. Not for those days that I am bored, as I don’t have time to¬†get bored…rather, for those times when there are so many things to do that I am having a hard time focusing. I can fill the jar with the items that I know must be done that day and pick one! But for those of us who have children, we can also use it to create ideas that will bust the boredom. Be creative, be fun, even the oldest kids still love being “kids” if we can light on things that represent their interests.

So, here it is…why don’t you check out this young lady’s site, as it is chalked full of other great ideas. Happy organizing!


As I sit here typing away, my children in honor of their first week of summer break have began to do some really “summer like” activities…well, for us…:)

My elder daughter, who graduated from college about a month ago is preparing for a missions trip by gathering items from friends and neighbors who would like to donate items for a garage sale. She is currently out organizing the items and readying them to be priced…lil’ sis is out there beside her, as a trusted and faithful buddy!

Our younger son has decided that he would like to take on a summer writing project, which he has worked on all morning. Writing, writing, writing with brief moments of questions, statements and observations. For a kid who has demonstrated an intense dislike for writing in the past, it shocked me that HE was the one who came up with the idea and has committed the morning or afternoon of all four of the first days of summer to the task. He says his goal is to publish it for he and his friends by the end of summer via Blurb. I say…GO FOR IT!

With the hubby and elder son at work, that leaves me at home, not teaching and turning my mind toward blogging once more…

So what to write? It occurred to me that since summer is upon us and my kiddos have already planned much of their summer, there may be¬†some folks with younger peeps who may not have made it that far…so that is where my summer comes in…I could blog about ideas that I find to help out!

The first I found today is actually a craft idea that can be used¬†for a bzillion different uses! The first thing that came to my mind was containing items for road trips…Our family LOVES road trips, so this template will come in very handy!

But, as you can see, it could be used to organize much, much more. It could be a pencil box, a sandwich holder, a snack box, a wipe container (if they are not too wet), a mini garbage receptacle, and the list goes on and on.

I think this was a very clever idea on many levels. Not only does it serve many purposes organizationally, the project also requires very little investment, can be done together with your children or grandchildren, and is repurposing something that many of us already have. I think that the whole concept is great! I love the idea of dressing it up, too. If any of you decide to create this container and dress it up, please post, as I would LOVE to see it!

Below the photo, there is the link where I found the idea, I recommend the site as it has various repurposing ideas that really make sense and help with organizing some of those little things that can make us a little goofy, sometimes.

Happy creating!



KINDNESS...LOVE IS KIND

Today, we are going to examine the idea of kindness.

It is the second characteristic listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, and, WOW, does it have powerful implications and applications.

In American culture, we have often been well trained in the idea of looking out for Numero Uno, number one, me, myself and I. With very little ,or any, thought given to how our daily actions might affect those around us.

In fact, kindness is often seen as a sign of weakness, something that we Americans just don’t appreciate. Unless, that is, we ourselves have been at the receiving end of someone who lacks kindness, then all bets are off. We expect it….even demand it. We are appalled ¬†that someone has had the audacity to treat us with anything else, but kindness!

Unfortunately, we often forget that kindness begets kindness. You know, the old concept, you sow what you reap. We treat people as we wish and then, expect a very different attitude to be given to us. It’s kind of lopsided, is it not?

So, if we are to be loving and being loving involves kindness, what does it look like in everyday living?

Well, let’s look at what kindness really means. The word “kind” used in this particular Scripture is from the Greek word, “chrńďsteuomai”, which simply means to show oneself mild, to be kind or use kindness. So, what is kindness, then? Kindness means to be gentle, to show consideration or to be helpful, being benevolent, which means desire to do good to others.

Knowing what this means, you can see why I had stated earlier that it applications and implications are very broad. Kindness can, very literally, be applied to every area of our lives and extended to every single person in our lives, whether we know them personally or not. That is pretty wild to me. To think that God has given me a mighty tool to affect the lives of others and by doing so, change my own heart, as well. I become more conformed to His image with the practicing.

That being so, how can we apply kindness in our idea of organizing from the inside out and let folks know they are loved?

First, we need to acknowledge those areas that we do not show kindness and ask the Lord to help us stop being unkind. He died for us when we were still enemies of the Cross and guess what? In doing so, He showed us immense kindness and patience!

Secondly, we can ask the Lord how to begin showing kindness to all men. Not just the ones we like and who like us, but to all. After all, if we are to partake in the sufferings of the Lord, we, too, should demonstrate the same kindness that He poured out upon us, right?

Thirdly, look for practical ways to help someone. I was once told that just my smile made someone’s day brighter. This person was just a person passing on the street who I had chosen to smile at. Apparently, they needed that. Smiles are free and are easily given!

Perhaps you know someone struggling in this economy, you could share some of your food with them. It may be that you are acquainted with some students that need help with Algebra and you know Algebra like the back of your hand, maybe that is your way to encourage and show kindness, by helping them understand Algebra better, thus, relieving their stress.

There may be a person who aggravates the dickens out of you, maybe, just maybe, you could be the one to extend the hand of grace. Showing them kindness and patience, even if they do not extend it back. Jesus did not demand our love to be given Him, though He demonstrated His for us!

Finally, in the organizational realm, maybe you are a mother or father, a husband or a wife and you see your family members struggling to keep up. Maybe you could organize on of their drawers for them. A closet? Come alongside them to set up a list of things they need to accomplish in the course of the day, week or month.

Look for small items daily that you can encourage people with. Don’t overlook the most simple things…they, often, are the very things that make the most impact.

For me, today, I am going to focus on my children and husband. I have organized my day so that I can accomplish my homework, teach my younger children and then, prepare some surprises for them for Valentine’s Day, tomorrow. Life has been so busy, I think these surprises will refresh them a bit. (I will share more tomorrow, in case they are reading this today! ¬†;P)

Love is patient and love is kind.

In which ways will you purposefully seek to show kindness today? When you find those ways, will you share them and let me know how they changed you?

 

 

 


¬†“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude; it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8¬†

 

As an organizer, I see a lot. A lot of clutter, a lot of dirt, a lot of STUFF, but one thing I don’t see often is an understanding that¬†a life that flows well, actually comes from a heart attitude.

We can produce a lovely home, an organized home and clean home and, yet, lack of peace can press in on all sides.

On the other hand, we can also have an incredibly disorderly life in the physical and not be concerned a bit, while those around us are about to pull their hair out, because of the chaotic fruit our lives produce.

A truly organized life is one where peace flows from the inside out, spilling its sweetness to all who some near. Ironically, these types of lives are well ordered…not dogmatically or stringently, but lovingly.

The month February boasts Valentine’s Day, an internationally celebrated day, signifying love. Ahhh, the sweet fragrance of love. Isn’t glorious to love and ¬†loved?!

So, for the remainder of this month, I want to look at how to show true love to those around us through our organizational skills. I will issue challenges, and offer tips. Every day or so through the rest of month of February, I plan to introduce a concept, along with some tips for working on that concept.

My goal? By the end of the month, armed with the Holy Spirit’s counsel, the strength of the Lord and a few tips, we will practice loving ‘out loud’ the precepts listed above in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

I thought this would be an interesting little challenge, because we can say “I love you” till the moon is blue, but showing it through everyday living is much, much more powerful. And, it is much more difficult, because it requires something of us, personally.

The first challenge I will issue is “Build your Patience day”. One of the hardest things we face is learning to be patient for the sake of another. It is one way in which we can lay down our life for others, just as Christ did for us.

I am confident that if I asked the question, “Do you want others to be patient with you?” the answer would, of course, be “Yes!” We all long for that. However, providing that for others is quite another story. It is difficult. It requires us to lay aside our demands and walk the issue out with them at their pace. Not at our own. That is, at times,¬† hard. We, often, forget that we, too, at one time, were learning these skills and that we needed someone to be patient with us as we grew in our understanding and capabilities. Patience is one way that we can walk out the command of the Lord and edify the body.

So, in honor of love…TRUE LOVE…choose an issue to walk out patiently with someone you care about. Show them that you love them by what you do and what you say.

Here are a few tips to get started:

1. Really listen to what is being said to you.

2. Ask questions, if you are in doubt of the other person’s message.

3. Ask what would be helpful to them in tackling whatever they are trying to accomplish.

4. If the person wants you to actually work alongside them on a given project, give them room to make mistakes, ask ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†questions and discuss solutions without becoming testy with them. They may just process through things differently than you do. ūüôā

5. Finally, whatever their response is, pray for them and with them, if they will allow the latter.

Lifting up even the smallest situation to the Lord strengthens both the hearer and the listener and it demonstrates a gentle heart.


Here are some pics I took on my wee morning outing…

 

This is the sign on my garden gate. I thought it appropriate as we welcome Spring to the west coast. :)

This is the sign on my garden gate. I thought it appropriate, especially since Spring is beginning to share its wonders.

This is the camellia blooming in my front yard…A little gift after these short days of winter.

Isn’t the Lord wonderful for giving us such beautiful gifts?


Gosh. Here we are in February already! I can hardly believe it; though, I have to say that my life at this point is so much fuller than it was when I was younger, in both good and bad ways. And, with that fullness, comes a spinning clock, where time seems to sprout wings and fly away!

A couple of weeks ago, I encouraged you all to seek the Lord and ask Him what He would want you to do on a daily basis. Really, what He wants to accomplish in and through your lives, on the whole. I, also, told you that I would share with you what He shared with me. So, here goes!

I believe I have shared in the past that my life is filled with my precious family, ministry, going to school full-time and teaching full-time. It has been, at times, challenging to keep it all in the air and not crashing down around me. But looking back, I realize that it has not been my efforts, at all, which have kept everything from smashing to smithereens, but the Lord, who has graciously and efficiently managed it all. Why I stress?  I am not quite sure. Lack of faith? I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.

At any rate, after much prayer and counsel, He has shown me how He would like life to change a bit for me.

First, my relationship with Him needs to be first. This one I knew, but I needed to be reminded of just how much I need Him, on a second-by-second basis!

Secondly, He has shown me that my husband and children come next, but that some boundaries need to be set in terms of the children. This one is interesting, because my children have had ‘full-access’ to me for as long as I can remember. Now that they are older, the older two are in college and the younger two teenagers, both my husband and I feel it is time to show them that they need to respect boundaries set upon others’ time…namely mine. It isn’t that they are disrespectful, it is simply that I have been so available to them, that with the role I have, as student, they forget that Mom now has assignments to complete, too! In short, they need to be mindful of my schedule, as well.

Thirdly, since I have gone back to school full-time, it has been interesting trying to balance teaching, getting personal schoolwork¬†finished, and taking care of the household. I am blessed that all have chipped in, for the most part, when it comes to taking care of things around the homestead, but there are items on the to-do list that I have always done and they do not necessarily ‘see’.

So, over the weekend, my husband encouraged me to focus on school, assuring me that he and the kids would continue helping me, but that he would get me some help in terms of deep cleaning. This is huge, in my book, because this particular issue has been the pebble in my shoe, more than anything else!

It may surprise you that an organizer is looking at these types of things in life…but dirt infiltrates our homes, too! And, we have to re-evaluate where we are, as well, and make necessary adjustments. It would be a really dishonest and lopsided picture to say that we don’t ever have to deal with these things.

I am happy to report through all of this, with the¬†input from the Lord and from my dear husband, I have began to take out those things that need removing and incorporating those items that need to be in the mix of my daily life. Incorporating fun again has been a big theme. (I can get incredibly focused and doing what I need to, because I want to do all things well, but I forget to breathe and laugh…and that¬†not a good thing!)

So, things like dancing to salsa music while I clean my bathroom are going in. I used to do that often. And, you know what? It makes it fun! Or singing, “I Love You Truly” ¬†like Elmer Fudd to my children while I prepare dinner. (Did that one last week…we all rolled.) It was great!

Laughter really is good medicine. While you are seriously examining what needs to stay and go, don’t forget to laugh and have fun. We only have one time around on this planet and we need to make the most of it, not just for ourselves, but for those we love.

Have a blessed day…grab your loved ones and go out have some fun!


While examining what to do with the New Year, many begin to make resolutions about weight, finances, job changes, travel, etc. It is, if you will, a quest for the “new you”. We look at the new year, as an opportunity to begin afresh, wash off the muck clinging to us from the previous year and throw ourselves with wild abandon into all things new.

For me, each year brings about not so much new resolutions (or old ones for that matter). For I have resolved to simply listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit daily, and not try to achieve outlandish expectations that I have set myself and try to accomplish them in my own strength. I have found that this does not work well. At least, not in my life.

I end up worse off than I was before!! Battered, broken by my failure to keep these very unrealistic expectations. What I have found is that while the Holy Spirit may, indeed, lead me to pursue a behavior or task that is difficult, He also gives me the power and wisdom to see it through to completion. This is something I just do not have in my flesh! And, quite frankly, I biff it a LOT when I attempt to live according to the ability and strength of myself.

That being said, there is one issue that I am quite certain the Lord leads me to examine every single year, actually a couple of times a year, and that is the issue of time management.

Within the course of any given year there are many changes which take place that make it necessary to re-evaluate the use of our time. There are changes that permit us more time, while others seem to drain our days of any seconds that seem to be available. With that said, it is imperative to remain flexible and examine what needs to change in fairly regular increments.

For me, this analysis takes place at the New Year, in March and in October. At the New Year, I begin to evaluate what family plans, large home projects, or travels that we, as a family, or individually, might need to pursue. I also look at which items I need to lay down and walk away from.

In March and October, I, quite literally, get out my time map and for seven days, I log how I have spent each half hour increment of my day, to see if I am actually using my time as effectively as I am able in my daily or not. You can do this by printing out or grabbing a notebook and writing down the thirty minute increments that represent your day. For me, it runs from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m., as these are the hours I, typically, operate in. At the end of the seven days, analyze where your time has been spent. How long have you spent on the internet? Was it truly for business or school work? Or was most of it used in simply surfing the web and checking your friends stats on Facebook?

What I have found, as I have done this exercise, is, inevitably, something resembling the sucker branches on my fruit trees has sprouted up and is trying to suck the life and fruitfulness out of the attitudes, projects, etc. that I am supposed to pursue.

These “sucker branches” masquerade as quite “important” things, but, in the end, render whatever they touch to be fruitless. Or in the very least, lacking the ¬†vigor that they could have had. Similar to fruit on trees where the sucker branches have not been removed, the “fruit” of my day is small and lacking in substance and the flavor is much less vibrant than it would have been had the sucker branches been removed. (And did you know, that if the branches and the tree itself is left untended in that state, it will eventually die, for the sucker branches are not there to produce fruit, but to drain life.)

We are much like these fruit trees, we are here to be productive, fruitful, and to glorify the One who created us. If we do not take time to stop and evaluate our life in light of changes, which have occurred or, more importantly, in light of what God, Himself, may have for us, we begin to be unfruitful and will eventually wither, producing no fruit at all.

It is IMPERATIVE to remove ALL sucker branches, for the sake of the life of the tree! It cannot do what it was created to do, if it is struggling just to live.

SO, in light of where we are in life, what is God spurring you to take up? What is He asking you to lay down? Remember, He is ever the gentleman. He will never force you to do what is good for you, but He does promise the power to do it, if you will but seek Him and ask…and, then, DO IT.

Will you take time to ask God what He has for you this year? And will you take time to listen? Just as an encouragement…He just wants a willing heart. He provides all the power and the will to do His good pleasure, if we will submit ourselves to Him and all the good He has for us.

What sucker branches are draining the vigor and fruitfulness out of your life? Are you willing to forsake them and walk away for your own good? You can, you know…in HIS strength. He has given all who call upon His name all we need to live a godly life in Him.

I am seeking Him toward this end, today, and will share soon what He shows me.

Will you let Him show you how to use your time, today? You will be free and fruitful, if you do!

 


I don’t know about you, but when I begin to look at all there is to DO in 2012, my head begins to swim with all the excitement (for the fun stuff!). But along with the fun, there is some confusion in the areas of life I am contemplating taking up or laying down; then, there are some areas where I am downright gasping for air at the sheer magnitude of them!

That being said, I am the kind of chic who guffaws at a challenge, simply because I can. I may laugh loudly at the road that lies ahead, but that does not mean there are not moments when my palms feel like they are leaking Lake Eerie! This dichotomy within myself, puts me in mind of a time when traveling that we decided to go to the !Explora! in Albuquerque, NM. For those who are innately curious, it is a divine little place. One can look, touch, read, experiment, etc. with all kinds of things.  Like I said, divine.

At any rate, on an upper level of Explora! there is a sweet little ‘attraction’ called the “High-Wire Bike”. The whole concept of the exhibit is to demonstrate the capabilities and importance of counter balances. The exhibit is two stories up and involves a “loading station”, a¬†cable which runs across the length of the upper level, and a bicycle equipped with a counterbalance perched blithely upon said cable.

If you decide, in fact, that you want to become a living participant in the experiment, you line up in queue, and wait for your turn. When that decisive moment arrives, the fearless (or fearful) creature that you are climbs out onto the seat of the bicycle. To begin the experiment is very simple, you begin to pedal backward across the wire. Yes, it is very simple, but I left out one little, tiny detail… there is no net to catch you, should the bike flip…no net to catch you should you decide to bail…no net!

I am a curious creature by nature and love the idea of adventure. I love going to new places, seeing new things, delightful things, mind you, and I love to see if I can succeed at various things. Yet, at the heart of this adventure lover, there are two sides warring. The fearless side that says, “Just do it! You will be finnnneeeee….” then,¬†¬†the much more practical side, which needs ALLL the answers before I am inclined to move. Well, I can assure you that the practical side of me was looking at the fact that there was no net, while I stood in queue for my turn. Hence, the waters of Lake Eerie began to flow forth from my palms, my heartbeat hastened, debating just how sound I might be, if I climbed onto that bike! All the while, the other side of me screamed, “Quit being afraid of everything and DO it! Look, it has a counterbalance that has been proven to work! Just do it! You will regret it if you don’t.”

To make a long story a bit shorter, I climbed on that blasted bike, was properly strapped in, and began the journey backward with no sight. I couldn’t turn around and check my progress, though even if I had, I am sure that I would have been distracted by the fact that I was stories in the air, pedaling a bike on a cable! Moving backward, the pedaling seemed a bit more strenuous than I would have expected and the bike wobbled. I looked at all the people below me moving around in miniature and tried very hard not to think about the lack of netting.

Finally, I hit the natural stop at the end of the cable that signaled that I had reached the wall on the other side of the building. With a sigh of relief, (after all, I had made it halfway) I began to pedal forward.

If I was concerned about the backward pedaling being a tad strenuous, it is safe to say, I was terrified about the ease of forward propulsion!! The pedaling was much easier, much faster and A LOT more wobbly. Torrents poured from my hands and beads of sweat made their appearance upon the bridge of my nose and I prayed all the more fervently that I would, indeed, arrive safely back at the station.

What seemed like an eternity passed as bike and rider found their way back to the dock. Trembling inwardly, I dismounted and rejoined my family who had witnessed the whole episode. My darling husband, upon whom I had kept my eyes locked the whole time; my children and nieces and nephews, some of whom had laughingly reminded me of my impending doom during my adventure on the high-wire, all welcomed me back.

As some of them decided to take their chances upon the high-wire, I began to catalogue what it had meant for me to jump into the line in the first place and then, climb onto the seat. In the end, I realized that for me to be willing to climb aboard for the adventure, I had to have had more trust in their system than I had of distrust. Could it have been disastrous? I suppose it could have been. But, in the end, it wasn’t. Their point was proven. The counterbalance worked; it had kept me upright and alive.

So. What does all of this have to do with organizing one’s life and all the things that we may take on in the year 2012?

Well, for me, it means that I need to look at those things that offer a nice counterbalance to the weight of responsibility. While I am making my list of “to do’s” for 2012, I need to be aware of what makes me fearful and if it is a fear of God or a fear that is otherwise placed. If it is a fear based upon anything other than serving the Lord, then I know that I will miss out on some great and exciting opportunities. However, if I seek Him and ask for His wisdom, then I will have some wonderful ¬†adventures. They may make my palms leak, and, at times, make my heart palpitate, but when I look back at them, I will be able to say, “WOW! Look at what You brought through and TO, Lord! How fantastic!”

We are all called to live responsible lives and, for that, I am thankful. But remember as you are looking at what you would like to accomplish this year, that trust, peace, and joy need to intertwine with that responsibility. Are some of our responsibilities and callings scary? Sure. But, in the end, if we trust the One who called us to them, the peace and joy will follow.

What are some of the things that beckon you in 2012? Do they make you weak with ungodly fear? Or do they make your heart sing with excitement? If you look to Christ and ask if it is safe, jump on that proverbial bike and start to pedal. It doesn’t matter that you cannot see all the way around, HE DOES! He will get you from point A to point B. Keep your eyes upon Him, and the benefits and joys that He gives that counterbalance that fear. Go out in the strength of Christ and do the good works He has prepared for you ahead of time.

This year, I am looking to finishing my degree, to paint more with my younger daughter, cook more with my older one; sing with my younger son and play  more chess with my older one. I am, also,  looking to build a bigger business with my husband. Some of these things are pure joy, some are scary, but I am on the bike, nonetheless.

Are you on the bike? What will you do in 2012, that will challenge and fulfill you?