Category: Living

Living at UIC: res halls (dorms), food, getting around campus.

The luckiest race of the year

♪♫♪ Here we are, bending feet / In the dark before dreamless sleep…

Exactly one year ago, my dad and I started our tradition of running 5Ks together. My dad, who runs the newspaper Chicago Chinese News, is one of the hardest workers I know who barely makes enough time to sleep. When I started my fitness craze (now a lifestyle) the summer before college, I started pestering him more to exercise and eat healthy. Even though I worked out and played a few sports in high school, I didn’t really start paying attention to staying in shape until then. I started to drag my dad to the YMCA more often, and I personally started to push myself in running. After I ran my first 5K race, the 2012 Turkey Trot in Naperville, I persuaded my dad to sign up for the St. Patrick’s Day run in 2013 with me. Although the first run was hard, I was really proud that he relentlessly kept going and finished! At that time, it was only my second race I had ever run too, and we were both surprised by the frigid cold morning air. It was a much bigger challenge than just running inside on the track! Regardless, Naperville 5Ks are really fun and easy since the course is set in downtown Naperville in familiar terrain. There are no real surprises for me to worry about and I can just enjoy the run. Following our first run, we then ran the Chinatown 5K last July which took place, of course, in Chinatown Chicago. It was quite the opposite experience since the weather was so hot! Yet we still both finished with better times – plus the opening Lion Dance was pretty exciting to watch!

This year, I was once again able to convince my dad to sign up for the Naperville St. Paddy’s Day 5K with me. I find that running 5Ks may well be the best motivator to make my dad carve out 30 minutes to an hour a day for some form of exercise so he will at least try to be ready for them. When I live at school all the time, it’s harder for me to just grab the car keys and say, “Come on, we’re going to the gym!” But still, I try to keep my dad motivated since it helps me stay healthy as well! Since I go to the rec center almost every day, it’s easy for me to remember to send him a reminder text or call to exercise as well. The length of 5K races also work out very nicely – not too long so that it becomes too exhausting, but long enough to be a challenge.

We ran the exact same course for the same race this year, so I think we were both more confident and prepared this time (aside from the fact that I was still freezing cold! I’m just too spoiled from the nice indoor track we have at UIC). In fact, we both beat our personal records for 5Ks! I haven’t run a 5K in what feels like a long time. The last race I ran was actually way back in November (the Perfect 10 10K at Navy Pier) and then before that I ran a half marathon. I meant to take a little time off of running races in order to just work out without training, but I realized that I actually really missed the adrenaline that can only come from race days. After taking a few months off, it felt nice to ease back into things by running a 5K this time! I’ve been working out pretty frequently by running 40+ minutes, so the 5K felt alright to me, and I tried to expend more energy to run a faster time. I was surprised to find that my time was 24:50, which was a good 30 seconds lower than my best 5K time before! My dad also beat his time last year by over 5 minutes as well, so I’m so proud of him for keeping up with an exercise regimen even with his crazy busy work schedule.

It might be ironic since my family has never celebrated St. Patrick’s Day before, but now my dad and I may have a reason. Hopefully we’ll continue this tradition for years to come and keep signing up for races together.

…Abacus haunting me / Abacus watching me ♪♫♪

Making Good Use of Spring Break

Like most students, every break I tend to sleep until noon and then start my short day after. Breaks certainly haven’t been the most productive times for me. But hey…after 10 long weeks of school, I deserve to sleep in and do nothing…right? Eh..maybe. But nevertheless, this break I simply cannot afford to “do nothing.” I have to get to work!

I’m really looking forward to break not because I’ll be on a beach or because I can forget all the worries of the world…but rather I can actually catch up on everything that I need to do right now. Catch up with family, school readings, student government work, personal errands, and etc. etc. I’m also trying to squeeze in some ME time too, perhaps hang in the city for a day, go out with friends, and read a book or two, and watch plenty of movies. SO much to do…so little time.

The other reason why I’m taking this spring break more serious with time is because theoretically, this could be my last break ever. I am hoping to land a job soon after I graduate. If I am lucky and able to do so, I’m not going to have much time to get all of my little things done once I am working full time. Once break is over, everything is going come at me fast and furiously. About a month countdown until graduation! Now is the time to get down to work.

Phew…I’m getting all excited just thinking about all of the stuff I need and want to do. But tell me – what do you plan on doing during spring break?

Until next time…

Mike

 

 

Spring Break has Sprung!

It’s officially time for Spring Break! As always, I’ve got plenty of ways for you to utilize your time off of school in the best way possible. The break will go by incredibly quickly, and then we’ll be on to our last month or so of the 2013-2014 academic year. Make sure to accomplish a lot from your to-do list (or at least from my list for you!) so that you are ready to come back to school on the 31st all ready to go!

Saturday, March 22nd: A great way to start break is with a clean mind. Clean our your backpack, folders, pencil cases, etc. Whatever it is, it’s bound to have some things you definitely don’t need to hold on to anymore. Reorganize them and throw out anything of no relevance; this will prepare you for the end of the school year and will allow you to go back to school with a refreshed mind.

Sunday, March 23rd: While you’re on the mini-spring cleaning kick, try doing the same in your bedroom. Go through and get rid of clutter . Even rearrange the furniture in your room. This will help you lose some of those winter blues and could very well inspire you to study or do homework in the space. It’s always nice to switch things up a little.

Monday, March 24th: At this point, you’ve been working pretty hard each day. Take a break from all of the efforts and plan a movie marathon. Take some time (or the entire day!) to start watching movies from the list you’ve been meaning to see. You deserve the break after the stress of midterms and school in general. Make sure there’s a nap or five built into there as well.

Tuesday, March 25th: Now that you’re reenergized from all of your time laying around watching movies, take a trip out and get things you need to survive a Chicago spring. If the next season is anything remotely as extreme as our winter weather, I’d be worried and expecting much more precipitation. Make sure you have a handy pair of rain boots and/or a jacket with a hood! We’re probably in for it all over again.

Wednesday, March 26th: Time tickets for class registration went out this week. That means everybody is getting ready for the upcoming year. Take the break to look at course descriptions as well as your DARS. This way, when it’s time to come back from break and register for classes, you’ll be more than ready.

Thursday, March 27th: All that thinking about school has probably got you ready for yet another break! Use spring break to prepare for a small roadtrip or a large vacation in the summer. If you’ve worked hard this year, you certainly deserve it.

Friday, March 28th: Take care of yourself! At this point, school is just around the corner. Go for a whole new perspective by getting an awesome new haircut or getting a massage. Whatever it is that helps you relax and unwind, try it. Self-care is really important, and spring break is a great time to stop what you’re doing and care for yourself.

Saturday, March 29th: There are officially two days left to break. So sad. Learn a new recipe for some type of food that will help you cope with the fact that you’ll be back to work sooner than you may want to be. Treat yourself!

Sunday, March 30th: Last day! Take this time to reflect on your time at UIC thus far and prepare for your future. Think about what things you hoped to accomplish while at college (specifically at UIC) and write them down somewhere where you can review them. This time goes by incredibly fast and it’ll be over before you know it. Take advantage of living in the city and of the fact that you go to such an awesome schooll!

And just like that, it’s time for class all over again. But not for long! Make sure you enjoy your short but sweet spring break!

Inspiration, move me brightly

♪♫♪ The storyteller makes no choice, soon you will not hear his voice / His job is to shed light, and not to master

You likely noticed already that I consider music an enormous influence in my life. It’s hard for me to imagine going through a day without listening to my playlists because I rely on music so much to get through the day. Frankly, I’m addicted to my headphones. Whether I’m running laps on the track at the rec, cramming schoolwork at the library, or just walking across the Quad from LCA to BSB, my fingers always compulsively reach for my earbuds to catch even a few minutes of a song. And I don’t listen to the first song on shuffle either – I am very meticulous and picky about the song I listen to at an exact moment, because music plays one of the biggest influences on my mood, demeanor, and emotions at any time.

In my psychology class, we covered memory and its effects on the brain during our last unit. Something we covered was retrieval cues and how the brain uses encoding specificity in order to preserve long term memory and make the process of remembering more smooth and permanent. While there are many songs that I am apathetic towards, I believe that certain songs – especially those that have grown so familiar to me that I am able to anticipate every beat, every dynamic, every rhythm – have encoded themselves so firmly into my memory that they evoke the strongest grip of emotion for me. They remind me of a time, place, or person, and I am taken from wherever I am to that time. Sometimes the experience is too hard for me to handle and I find I have to skip the song even before it starts playing.

I’m sure this all sounds very melodramatic, but music has always been that powerful for me, and that is why it has always been my greatest mechanism of escape and remembrance. It’s why I am constantly making playlist after playlist that are titled with names, locations, dates, or obscure meanings only I could discern. The memory unit in psychology was fascinating to me because it helped me realize how music plays such a profound influence in my everyday life. It astounds me that procedural memory, an aspect of long-term memory, involves actual physical changes in the brain when it is being stored. To me, this signifies that certain songs – and by their associations, certain people and places – have literally changed the structure of my brain because of the impact they have had on my life.

All of these thoughts in class made me happy that I switched to a Neuroscience major. It excites me to be able to explore the dynamic changes in the brain when we undergo powerful emotions and experiences in life.

In contrast to the songs that I skip because they might make me too upset to listen to them, there are also many songs that hold the exact opposite effect for me! I listen to them specifically because they are personally uplifting and improve my mood at the moment. Even if they can be childish or silly, sometimes just hearing them can improve my worst day and motivate me. In case you ever find yourself in need of some uplifting music, check out just a few songs on my uplifting playlist:

  • Peaches by New Heights
  • Slow Me Down by Emmy Rossum
  • Romantic Flight – John Powell
  • Nothing Ever Happens by Rachel Platten
  • Wunderkind by Alanis Morissette
  • Stay Stay Stay by Taylor Swift
  • Olsen Olsen by Sigur Ros
  • Boats and Birds – Gregory and the Hawk
  • Anna Sun – Walk the Moon
  • Daydream by Tycho

If you’re ever feeling down, consider looking up one of these songs! Perhaps they may lift your spirits as they do for me.

You’re back in terrapin, for good or ill again, for good or ill again. ♪♫♪

Terrapin Station - Grateful Dead

Take some time

I was sitting in Management today, waiting impatiently the for the midterm to start. I completely forgot my professor (who I have had before) likes to teach about the next chapter/unit right before we have the midterm for the previous chapters. I’m pretty sure he was just trying to confuse us all. Regardless, he was talking about creativity in relation to business and negotiations.

The first thing he started saying was that amidst our hectic schedules, we should set aside time to have a meeting with ourselves every week. This was especially funny to me due to my delusion state from midterm studying, but either way, I thought he was losing it. Until I heard where he was going with the argument.

He was telling us that people are too busy living their lives so fast-paced that they don’t take the time to think retrospectively and consider if what they are doing with their life makes them happy. We are constantly moving, trying to improve our careers, social life, whatever it may be. And not even for a second may we stop and consider what we are doing in relation to the fact that we only get one shot to do this right, and by right I mean right by each of us personally.

This is an incredibly valid point. We’re always on the go from class to class, work to home, internship to internship. But eventually that turns into semester to semester, year to year, decade to decade, and that adds up fast. Speaking personally, I can’t believe I’m already a junior. I don’t know where my time here has gone, and although I cherish all of my experiences, I have had the occasional meltdown because there is still so much that I want to pack into my time at UIC.

My professor was talking about people having that same exact realization, but on a broader scale. What happens when we get to the point in our lives where we realize we haven’t been doing everything we wanted to? We’ve just been going through the motions, advancing our career because that’s what we thought we were supposed to do. Buying property because everyone’s doing it. All that good stuff.

While I think the whole scheduling a meeting with yourself thing is pretty goofy, I wholly understand exactly what he means about it all. If we don’t all stop, take a breather, and assess our actions and goals as often as possible throughout our lives, how can we honestly say we’re happy and are doing what we want to do?

Take some time, whether it’s five minutes or just a resounding thought you keep in the back of your head. Make sure you’re truly happy and where you want to be in your life. Do you see happiness ahead?

Great schedule gap fillers!

Throughout my entire undergraduate career, I have learned the true value of time. This means maximizing every free second throughout the day. Many times, undergraduates have gaps in their schedules. What do you do during this time? Here are a few of my favorite things to do on campus to take advantage of your schedule gaps!

Power work out: So you have an hour-and-a-half gap – who says you can’t workout during that time? Lately I have added in quick power workouts during my gap. I go to the Student Recreation Facility to get a 30-minute cardio session and a 15-minute abdominal workout, followed by a warm shower to get clean and ready for my next class. Sure, this requires a bit of a hassle with extra bags and limited time, but you will feel rejuvenated and healthier after a quick workout.

Eat at a random restaurant: I always love spending one afternoon a week at a restaurant around campus. I usually try to eat at different places each time because there are so many options around UIC! Go out with a friend, or even by yourself, to a new restaurant whenever you have an afternoon break. New restaurants equal new experiences, which then equals new conversation pieces and cultural/social benefits.

Explore new parts of campus: After eight semesters of being at UIC, you think that I would have visited every part of campus. Wrong! Every now and then, I like to take a walk with a friend around campus, exploring unfamiliar buildings and lounges throughout campus. It’s always refreshing finding a new spot on campus — they usually make for great secret study spots!

Just sit and relax: Forget Facebook, BuzzFeed and your textbooks. Sometimes it’s just nice to just find a spot to sit and simply relax. Let go of any other worry in the world and just sit and let your mind wander on about what is going on around you. Or carry a book around that you can read during an hour break or so. No matter what you desire, make some time to step away from the hustle and bustle of school and focus on reenergizing yourself within.

What are some of your favorite things to do during breaks? Let me know below!

Until next time…
Mike

Singing to myself

♪♫♪ Let it go, let it go, I am one with the wind and sky…

Lately it feels like I am one of the few people who still hasn’t seen Frozen…but that doesn’t mean I haven’t listened to the soundtrack already…dozens of times. I pretty much love all Disney music, so it’s frequently what I have playing in the background while I try to get some work done. One of my secret talents is knowing the lyrics to pretty much every classic Disney song.  It’s a little silly that I know the words to almost all of the Frozen songs but I still haven’t seen the movie! (But I hear the sing-along version is being released in theaters…this may be my chance.) Although it’s been out a long time, I’m still trying to avoid spoilers on the Internet, which is a real challenge.

So on the topic of great music and soundtracks, I have a confession: I absolutely love singing. It’s doubtful that many people know this at all, because I could probably count on one hand the number of people who have ever heard me sing outside a middle school choir setting. And there’s good reason for that too, seeing how I have a very weak and pitchy voice. As a result, I only sing when I’m completely alone or with close friends. When I am alone, however,  it’s almost a constant behavior. I don’t just in the shower, I sing while cleaning, laying in bed trying to fall asleep, doing homework…but I’m afraid years of this kind of practice has never improved my voice. When it comes to performing for others, I stick to just playing the piano, where I’m much more confident. I’m so incredibly jealous of singers I hear, especially those with powerhouse voices that sound amazing. I think one of the reasons I adore showtunes so much (I fall in love with musicals easily) is that a lot of the singers belt out their notes so passionately. As childish as it may seem, listening to Let It Go or Defying Gravity makes me feel as if I can sing vicariously through Idina Menzel. If I could really be anything at all in the world, I would choose to be a Broadway actress, hands down.

(But alas, I seem to be lacking in the whole singing, acting, and dancing requirements…so it’s the medical life for me.)

When I was in Japan this past Christmas, my mom, brother, and I had the awesome chance to go karaoke with my aunt and cousin on our last night in Tokyo. It’s crazy how many karaoke places there are in Japan! This is especially true in a large city like Tokyo, where there’s at least a few on every street. The later it gets in the evening, the more popular karaoke becomes; after a certain time, they even have one hour time limits on the rooms! Even though it was around 10 PM and we had an early flight the next morning to Taiwan, my mom treated us all to karaoke that night.

It was such a cool experience! We were all in a small room with just couches and a TV, and we could pick any song we wanted while ordering drinks throughout the hour. It was really typical to my aunt and cousin, Yoshihiro, but my brother and I were excited and kept picking songs on this seemingly magic karaoke machine that had thousands and thousands of Japanese, English, and Chinese songs. My brother Bob shocked us all by being able to sing a great number of Japanese songs! He took Japanese in high school, and so he was able to read the lyrics pretty easily, and he picked many of his favorite songs from anime.

Another confession of mine to share this week: when I was really small, perhaps 3 or 4 years old, I sang to the karaoke of “My Heart Will Go On,” and apparently toddler Sarah was not shy about her voice at all, because my mom loves telling the story of how I stood on a table with a microphone and sang Celine Dion to my parents and all their friends. (While I’m sure I was adorable then, I think a few things have changed haha…) So since then, whenever karaoke is made available, it’s an on-running joke in my family that I should give another fabulous encore of the song. That night, I decided to let loose and finally do it! I sang with my mom and had a fantastic time. I can really see why people in Japan must love karaoke so much—everyone is able to let loose and enjoy themselves in such a warm and fun environment. It doesn’t really matter if you sing well or not since you’re with all of your friends just having a great time! I wish places designated just for karaoke like that were a lot more common here in the states!

Even though I have no desire to sing on a stage, it doesn’t stop me from enjoying it on my own. I’ve never been a big performer, and I’m fine with that. Music keeps me sane and happy, which is all I need.

~~~

Here I stand, in the light of day / Let the storm rage on / The cold never bothered me anyway ♪♫♪

(Let It Go – Idina Menzel)

The craziest of weeks

It’s been one of those weeks, and it came out of nowhere. I don’t know what hit first, but everything has been moving so quickly over the past few days and I can’t seem to slow it down. I thought taking four classes this semester would lighten the load, but I still seem to have a million things to do. I’m glad I’m busy; it’s not like I would have it any other way.

On Monday, we gained a new member to our family. A brand new VERY young puppy came home. I only got to spend Monday with him, but I have plans to see him soon. He is absolutely crazy, playful, loving, and nameless… The parents are still working on naming our new friend. Hopefully it’s only a matter of time.

I’ve had a little bit of a hard time keeping my mind off of the new puppy. He’s just so incredibly cute! I’m so glad I got to be a part of the process this time. I got to hold him the entire car ride home, which was over an hour, not to mention the whole time we stopped at the pet store for toys and food.

 

One day this week my boyfriend and I are heading over to play with him. We bought him two new toys just in case we need to buy his love. I’m pretty sure that isn’t an issue, since he’s the sweetest and friendliest puppy I’ve ever met.

Later in the week, I needed to go through some medical testing for my internship at Rush. I have never gotten the flu shot since I have always been worried about the side effects and have always been convinced that I would get sick after. Flu shots are, of course, necessary when working/volunteering/interning at a hospital, so I had no choice but to get my first ever flu shot at 21 years old. It really wasn’t as bad as I always expected it would be. I realized that millions of people get the vaccine every winter/fall, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t still terrified in the moment. I don’t even think I had any of the side effects from the shot. Within an hour or two, I was back in my bed laying down, saying I was too tired to get up. I’m still not exactly sure whether or not that had anything to do with the flu shot..

I’ve finally had the “first day of school” in every one of my courses at this point. Somehow, my books wound up being totally affordable this semester, which was a huge relief for myself and my wallet. With this stress and excitement comes the expectation that homework and assigned readings are completed. I’ve already been assigned a partner project and have begun submitting online homework a couple times a week. Its crazy how quickly school mode became full swing again. It’s nice to be back in classes (I can’t believe I feel that way.)

Despite all of the hecticness of the week, I managed to have a good one and hope you did, too!

 

Things are a changing

Hey everyone! It’s great to be back! And no, I am not fibbing. It is actually good to be back, as this is my final semester at UIC. It’s a bit bittersweet, since I’ve spent my entire college career here at the university and have had plenty of great experiences during my time here. Nevertheless, I am excited to be soon starting a new chapter of my life – the real job world.

Despite being my last semester, the past few weeks have been a bit hectic when it comes to organizing and finalizing my schedule. I am still deciding which classes I will keep/remove. I’m also still trying to get into the swing of things and vaccinate myself from the senioritis flu that is lingering around. To be completely honest, I’ve been super stressed these past two weeks. However, this all changed on Thursday.

I just found out I received an internship at the Shedd Aquarium! After a few interviews, I received the call with the offer. I am super stoked that I will be strengthening my communications and public relations skills that I have gained these past four years. Ever since I was a child, I have had an immense love for sea animals and aquatic life. At one point, I even wanted to be a marine biologist! However, after my disinterest in science became apparent as I got older, I nixed that idea. I am extremely happy that I will be able to intern with a world-class institution that I have loved and appreciated since I was a child.

With only four months until graduation, everything seem to be quickly changing. I like it, though. I now believe I am fully ready to rock my last semester, excel at my new internship, and start a brand new chapter in my life.

I am happy all of you will be on this journey with me :)

Until next time…

Mike

2013 at a glance

Even though I write here every week, I feel like I’m only ever giving you the smallest bit of information about my life. I’ve been blogging since October. The year was winding down, but much more was still in store for me in the last three months. 2013 was most definitely not the best year of my life; in fact, I would go so far as saying it was a highly unfavorable one for me. Regardless, there was still a lot of good in the year. Here’s a look at my year……

The beginning of 2013 wasn’t particularly eventful. I trucked along in my sophomore year as a first time resident assistant, learning to be both a better student and resident assistant. I finished the semester with another notification that I had made the LAS Dean’s List, making me one happy kid! I also won two awards at the Campus Housing Banquet- NRHH’s Commitment to Recognition Award (an award given to the NRHH chapter member who is most dedicated to the recognition pillar of NRHH) and Rookie of the Year (an award given to a first-year RA who has excelled.) I finished up my first year as an RA with a pocket full of tricks and lessons learned, ready to take on the challenge the coming semester. During finals week, a lifelong best friend of mine passed away. This was the absolute hardest point of my life, and I had an impossible time imagining life going on without her. Since her passing I think of her constantly, and so much reminds me of her. Because of this, I have thought so much about life in general and the purpose and significance of those given to us. Her passing is a huge part of the reason why I don’t look back on 2013 very fondly.

Much of summer 2013 was spent reminiscing about days past and visualizing my friend everywhere I looked back home. It was a quiet, often solemn summer. Luckily, I landed an incredible internship that took my mind elsewhere during the week. The internship was so fulfilling, and I loved every minute of it. I was finally able to realize that my career path is the right choice for me-such a great feeling. We spent the day at a White Sox game- a passion we share.My boyfriend and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary in first few weeks of break. In the beginning of the summer, I discovered a baby turtle in my backyard. It was far too small to take care of itself, so I spent the summer raising the hatchling. This was something I’ll never forget. It reminded me of the small miracles all around me in life. When it was time to go back to school, I passed the rapidly growing turtle on to the Chicago Herpetological Society. They plan to find the turtle a good home. A huge part of summer was watching the Blackhawks on the road to the Stanley Cup. My house is certainly a Hawks household, so we had a great time watching the games and attending the parade together. I finally got around to entering the world of Stephen King novels (I don’t know what I’ve been doing with my life…) This gave me some amazing reading material for the summer. My reading has been nearly stalled due to school since…. The end of summer brought about another terrible death. My boyfriend lost his grandma just days before his birthday. Having dated him since 2007, I had grown to become another of her grandchildren. Her passing was so difficult for me. She was the absolute sweetest and happiest person I have ever met.She was an absolute inspiration, constantly serving as a reminder of how to live life, even at 89 years old.

This fall and winter didn’t get any easier. I started my junior year, ignorantly welcoming my hardest semester yet. It was a total struggle for me to keep up with academics, my extra-curriculars, and my job, but I knew if I could get through Fall 2013, I could do just about anything. During this time, I survived my first (and it better be my last!) 8am class at UIC. This never got any easier for me as the semester went on. I attended and presented at a leadership conference-the most stressful thing I have ever done. I have successfully figured out my minors and am excelling at them. I finally entered the 21st century with a smartphone and am even almost understanding how to use it! I turned 21 years old in October and have been enjoying the perks ever since. I began blogging for IAMUIC, something I’ve wanted to do since I discovered the site my freshman year. This has been so wonderful, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity. The following month, my boyfriend took me to see Paramore- one of the best experiences of my life. I got to see Wicked for a 3rd time. No words can accurately describe how happy this makes me. I cut 12 inches of hair off of my head over the course of the past 4 months and am never looking back. My whole world- my 11 year old dog- passed away over Thanksgiving break. I grew up with her and still feel lost without her by my side. Being at home for break has been so difficult, but I get signs that she is with us here all the time. I had the same surgery I have already had done again over winter break, and I am confident that this time will be different. My sister and mom took me along on their tradition of seeing Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert- an amazing way to close out 2013. Such an incredible experience!

 

Overall, I am grateful for the blessings I have been given during 2013, and I am ever-mindful of the losses I and my loved ones have endured. 2014 is sure to bring about even more changes, and I am eager to share them with you along the way.

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