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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 238

Updated on January 7, 2019

Happy New Year; Now Let’s Get on With It!

Speaking as just one man, thank the gods the holidays are over? And who in their right mind would schedule a holiday in the middle of a work week? LOL Talk about diabolical! For two solid weeks now my schedule has been completely topsy-turvy, thank you very much. I am so happy to get back to normal.

No, my name is not Scrooge. I’m just a guy who needs structure.

And no, I do not do resolutions, unless you count trying to improve as a human being and a writer, but those two are with me 24/7, 365!

Let’s do this thing we call the Mailbag!

The Mail Room!
The Mail Room!

Embrace the Past

From DreamOn: “My question to you among a world of others. Why do people try to bury their past. Run away from it as fast as they can. When their past helped mold them into the person they are today. Why don't more people embrace the day. I think I covered what I wanted to say.”

DreamOn, this is a question better suited for a psychiatrist. I’ve seen it all my life, even in my immediate family. There were parts of my mother’s life she would never talk about…period, end of story. I suspect it is shame with most people, or by not talking they hope to lessen the pain. I can understand that motivation, to keep things hidden, but it is a slippery slope to navigate because secrets can eat you alive. Shame darn near killed me, so I get it . . . but having come out the other side of that dark tunnel, I can truthfully say I much prefer living with the truth.

I embrace it all!
I embrace it all!

Writer Responsibility

From Mr. Happy: “So, I was thinking about my last message to You and how my question was not really much of a question. I suppose there were some questions among the frustration with bad writers, or bad writing but I tried to focus on those thoughts in the last 24 hrs and I came-up with one, specific question: "what responsibilities do writers have, if any at all?

“I just read a piece of writing on Hub-pages yesterday making all sorts of claims and no source cited. There were no proper quotations, or citations. This to me is quite infuriating. I do not go easy on things of that nature. In my world, there are no "alternative facts". Anyway ... I'm stopping here before You hear more of my frustrations but I'm happy I narrowed down the question about responsibilities. I'm interested what You think.”

Mr. Happy, what I think, and what is reality, are miles apart, and I find that sad and yes, infuriating.

I’m reading a fascinating book right now by a man who was a reporter for the NY Times during the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, and he speaks to this exact problem. Most newspapers today cannot afford to have reporters out there doing in-depth investigations, the sort of thing that might take six months to a year to thoroughly investigate. Consequently, the really important investigations do not get covered by reputable reporters, and what we are left with is left-or-right-wing nut jobs writing op-ed pieces from their man caves which have no veracity whatsoever, and we have millions of people reading those pieces of garbage and believing them to be the truth.

Of course we see it here on HP. HubPages is just a microcosm of a larger problem. It is much too easy to publish dog doo-doo rather than actually investigating for the facts.

Do I believe writers have a responsibility to the truth? Most definitely! The kind of false muckraking we see today drives me crazy, but I’m afraid we are going to see more and more of it, because the internet has given all the world an accessible stage from which to rant, and has opened the door to yellow journalism, and that door cannot be closed. The internet is a giant soapbox, and the disreputable will use that soapbox to say anything they feel like saying, the truth be damned.

Depression and Writing

From Rodric: “ I know you don't have all the answers, but I will ask anyway because I think you could point me in the right direction if you cannot answer yourself: How can I use my knowledge of mental illness to support my writing? Did not Ernest Hemingway use his trials with depression to produce art?”

That’s a tough one, Rodric! I wouldn’t be so sure I can point you in the right direction on that one. I did a similar thing regarding alcoholism, for awhile. I started a blog about alcoholism, I wrote probably ten articles on HP about it . . .and that’s about all I did.

There are, of course, online support groups talking about mental illness. Chat rooms, that sort of thing. There are national magazines about that topic, so I guess you could submit articles to those magazines, or guest blog on someone’s mental illness blog.

It is very difficult to build a platform about any topic. It takes time and dogged determination. Is it that important to you? If so, get started. Build a foundation, frame it, and put a roof on, from the ground up, no shortcuts.

And if you can figure out that metaphor you win a stuffed animal. lol

So Many Hubbie Awards

From Trish: “How does it feel, Bill, to have won the Best All-Around Hubber Award for six years in a row? Quite frankly that kind of blows me away. Congratulations, by the way!”

Trish, I am humbled, and I am also embarrassed. I am humbled because each of those awards came from my peers, so they mean a great deal to me. I’m embarrassed because I don’t like notoriety of any sort. I’m perfectly comfortable in the background doing my thing, wading through the deep grass without my head showing.

One other thing I wish concerning the Hubbies: I wish the HP staff would take it a bit more seriously. I thought some of their categories this year were ridiculous. If they were shooting for funny they missed the mark. Those awards were, at one time, a really big deal to HP writers. This was, at one time, a very tight-knit community where everyone rooted for each other and shared in each other’s successes. The HP staff could go a long way towards making this a community again. They could make things like the Hubbies a big deal, complete with awards video and some sort of personal statement by the HP staff or management. Instead they feel the need to make a joke of it.

I think that’s too bad. There are a lot of talented writers here on HP who spend a great amount of time writing articles and poems, pieces which make HP money. I think HP needs to reciprocate in some way other than paying pennies on the dollar to those writers.

But what do I know?

Sign of Success

From Flourish: “Comments are often a sign of success that you are good enough, but do you ever become overwhelmed or exhausted with the volume of them?”

Flourish, a year ago I would have said no to this question. I have always loved comments. I can still remember the very first comment I received, seven years ago, and how important that comment was to me. Every single comment I receive, and I’ve received a whole bunch of them, is important to me.

Having said that, I feel frustrated that I don’t have the time to respond in-depth to each one; I respond to each one, but often it is a quick fly-by of a response, and I’m embarrassed to say that.

Hopefully I’ll find the time to do a better job of commenting in 2019, because I think comments are important in building community here on HP, and we need more community here on HP and in the world in general.

Comments by Hubbers mean they care, and that is very cool!
Comments by Hubbers mean they care, and that is very cool!

Time to Run

And that’s what it feels like lately, for me: always running, trying to get too many things done in too few minutes.

Or maybe, because I am now seventy, I am feeling the natural time crunch of a man running out of minutes.

Where are the psychologists when we need them? LOL

I wish, for you, a brilliant week ahead, and I hope 2019 is all that you want it to be. I leave you with The Boss and “Born to Run,” just because . . .

In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through the mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and steppin' out over the line
Oh-oh, Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we're young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      4 weeks ago from SW England

      Thanks, Linda. I know nothing about blogs - not very modern! I'll have a look. Appreciate the info.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, I've spent some time in that rabbit hole as well.Great comments here. I love your points on platforms...sold truths many would benefit from. Thank you my friend!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      4 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Okay, now I'm REALLY late to the Mailbag this week. Finally catching up.

      Re: Just the Facts. Agreed, it is up to us to find the most reliable sources for our work here on HP and elsewhere. And sometimes that's difficult to find. But that is, as you note, our responsibility. Also, if you think you're making wild claims, own it and say that's YOUR perspective or what YOU believe is true.

      Re: Building a Platform on Issues. This is a tall order for anyone, especially an amateur in the topic area. The problem is that people think because they experienced something, they're an expert. No, they're just experienced, not expert. As with responsibility, the writer should be clear about writing from his/her perspective, not as a knowledgeable professional.

      Also, issue platforms are difficult to sustain over time. This is especially the case with amateurs who do not have the knowledge depth of a professional. It's exhausting and too much of an investment. Get clear on what you hope to accomplish with your issue blog or book. I've see too many authors stumble into this rabbit hole (including me).

      Re: Comment Conundrum. Comments are gold. While it's an investment for sure, I've gained a number of article and podcast ideas from them.

      Well, got it done before the next issue comes out. Happy Weekend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Rajan, I won't allow myself to stop. There are a lot of hours in a day, and I intend to use them all.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      4 weeks ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Some deep questions and truthful answers. Bill, I have often wondered, with the number of things you do in a day, how do you manage to find time to keep so fit?.

      Have a wonderful day, my friend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad you are writing again, DDE! Thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Mr. Happy, you and MizB both....weird goings on at the HP Party Central! Thanks for coming back. Peace always!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      MizB, thanks for the persistence. You aren't the only one that has happened to lately. I appreciate you hanging in there.

    • profile image


      5 weeks ago

      Writing is my pleasure and for a while did not write anything. Your point made loud and clear.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Liz, it's nice to know I'm not alone regarding the holidays and a work schedule. Now we are free, my friend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      It's a realization we all face, Mary! I often think of that fine line between living fully and backing off because of age. When will I cross that line?

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      5 weeks ago from Toronto, Canada

      I thought I left a comment here already. Maybe Spawn came and wiped it out. (It was partially about Spawn, the comic book character).

      At this point, I'll just say: thank You for the time and consideration to my questions and/or frustrations.


    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 

      5 weeks ago from Beautiful South

      Bill, I don't know whose problem it is, but this is the second time in about a month that my comment has not made it on your Mailbag. I've noticed both times it happened, it disappeared as soon as I posted it, and the comment that it had to be approved by the author appeared. So, anyway, here I am again to let you know that I did read your mailbag, just as I do every week, and I didn't fail to comment. It has happened to me a couple of times on other people's articles, in the years I've been here, too. So, anyway, have a good rest of the week, my friend.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      5 weeks ago from UK

      Bill, I find you touch on so many points that I can relate to. My work routine was totally messed up for two weeks over the holidays and I struggle with too much to do and too little time to do it in. I agree about writer responsibility, which probably causes me to go over my work too much because I am so aware of it.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      Born to run. That was what I felt the last few years but I am now coming home, more to my own self. This hit me strongly when I visited a religious community recently and most of them were in their mid-80's but still active, doing what I often don't anymore do at 67. Something has to happen soon in this old life. Here's a toast to 2019 and to your wish for the HP Community.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww Dora, you brought a smile to this old face.Thank you my dear friend. I love you, too!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I have noticed it, it does make me cringe, and you make me laugh. We are so similar, my friend,and I consider that a compliment. :)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, I notice that readers are beginning to ask questions that have to do with other issues besides writing. I'm smiling because it shows how much they trust you. There may be space for "Dear Abby on HP" after all. I love you, too.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Bill, one thing that really irks me is the blurb HP writes in our weekly newsletters when featuring a new Hubber. The Hubber's avatar is posted, clearly showing whether the writer is male or female. Yet, HP staff refers to that person as "they" and "their". The grammar is atrocious! Not to mention a bit disrespectful to the author being featured. Take the time to personalize the intro, you know? If we were to write articles with the same grammar errors, we'd be flagged and unfeatured!

      Have you noticed it? It makes me cringe.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you William! Me? Vulnerable? Oh you better believe it. I can be hurt, for sure. I am, after all, only human. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I completely agree with you, Venkatachari M, about the Hubbie Awards. I just find it sad that our community has dwindled and is no longer a tight knit group like it once was.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Rodric, those are very kind words. Thank you...a bigger concern would be am I going to last twenty more years? lol I can't imagine being alive at 90.

      Good for your daughter. I think that is very cool and very brave of her to stand up that way. There's a lesson for us all in her actions.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, shoot, it never dawned on me why you were asking the question. Getting desperate comments like that would be horrible...answering them would be painstaking.....I certainly understand now. Bless you my friend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I hope I do, Shannon! I always appreciate visiting with you.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      5 weeks ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      As always, I appreciate the questions, and of course, your very good answers. They're all helpful, but what stands out to me is your truthfulness and vulnerability. I'm not sure how much that has to do with writing (although I believe it does), but it says volumes about you as a person. Carry on, Mr. Holland.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! I'm glad you found something that resonates in this one.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Bill! We do what we can with the time we have. That's just the real of it.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      All true, Pop, and it ain't getting any better, I'm afraid. We are a nation torn apart.

      Happy New Year to you!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      5 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

      It's a wonderful mailbag with some wise questions and great answers from you, Bill. You provide so valuable advice to us each week with your intelligence and experiences. Very thankful to you.

      The Hubbie Awards topic raised by you is a good hint to our HP management that they should be more prudent and sincere in naming and awards those accolades to these talented and amazing writers here. The award needs to be more nicely titled than those amusing nomenclations.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony Johnson 

      5 weeks ago from Peoria, Arizona

      Gratitude, Bill, for responding to my question the way you did; and to you, Linda, for supporting his response!

      Having a mental disorder is not the end of the world, but a passing trial to life in it on our way to our chosen destination.

      I figure if I start something the above will be my theme.

      My daughter stood up in church on Sunday and told the congregation that she has anxiety disorder, calling it the best gift that God gave her because it teaches her compassion for other people.

      She said that it was a challenge to learn to live with. I was so proud that she took such an approach to it that day. I know feelings change depending on where we are in life, so...

      Also, one of my reasons for following you, not to be mushy, but your insights seem applicable across generations. Your words seem to allude to the coming day when no person can do any work. I thank God for people like you who are willing to help with the time you have available. I am hoping for 20 more years of your new stuff if I last that long.

      I need the time to catch up from things on your blog!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The “Writer Responsibilty” section of this article brought up a topic that I’m concerned about. Thanks for sharing the information and your opinion, Bill.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 weeks ago from USA

      Thank you for answering my question. I become overwhelmed sometimes by the Q&As around certain topics. There are a lot of people of all ages in crisis who unfortunately are desperate and lonely enough to write about their plans to die. They leave me comments on my playlist articles about it. Too many comments in one week on this topic bums me out. It takes a lot of time, too, as it demands that I respond in a given way. I’m just trying to write, entertain, and connect but I’m faced with very sad urgent personal situations of strangers who instead need a crisis counselor. It’s very sad what people will submit to a website.

      I also sometimes get snarky or mean comments and that’s not fun. I just press delete on them but they can impact me.

      Thanks also for your comment on the Hubbies. I was not impressed with the way they were handled by staff this year and didn’t vote, but you are a worthy and wonderful writer and friend. Congratulations again to you and other deserving writers.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      5 weeks ago from Texas

      Oh, look. Here you are again to remind me it's Monday. I've been so busy I forgot what day it is! Can't say I'm glad the holidays are over because it's all gone too fast for me to really notice and work went on as scheduled for me, except for Christmas Day. Anyway, interesting mailbag. See you next week!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      5 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Excellent week for the mailbag, still going strong, which is great for all of us. I also wish I had more time to respond to comments. I feel that sometimes I skimp and hurry, which bothers me, but until this day job gig ends my free time is somewhat limited. Born to Run is one of my all-time favorites. Have a great week.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Ann, if you are still listening, go to the Blog and I think you will find all of the info about the Hubbies there.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      5 weeks ago

      I wish the New Year would bring us journalists with integrity and honesty. What we have now is bitter bi-partisan garbage. The truth is buried, and has been for a long time. Happy New Year to you, billy.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks a bunch, Melissa, and I look forward to you visiting each week. The new book is coming along. Not as quickly as I wanted, but I'm making progress.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks a lot, Pamela. You and I aren't the only two who noticed a difference in HP. Sigh! If HP would only listen to me!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, good morning, and I have no clue where to send you in search of the Hubbies. I'm out of touch with the staff notifications. I can barely navigate the site these days in search of anything. Oh well!

      Life is good, my friend. Thanks for spending part of your day with me.


    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, right now at least, time is not on our side...but hope springs eternal, and I'm confident I'll find my missing time right around the next corner of my path.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      5 weeks ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday and Happy New Year! I'm finally back at my desk and back to the familiar schedule as well...Feels like I've been off the whole year! Oh wait, I was.... lol

      I completely understand about the need to get back to regular schedules, although I admit that I really enjoyed my time off--even if I didn't get anything accomplished.

      I look forward to the 2019 mailbags! Have a great and productive week!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      Having stopped writing for a couple of years while having 2 back surgeries, I noticed a difference in the HubPage community also. It was tight knit during those first few years of my writing. It would be nice to build that relationship between writers again.

      I think being voted the Best by the HubPage writers for 6 years in a row is a great achievement. The Writer's Mailbag helps people, and that is good. It is always interesting due to the variety of issues.

      Have a great week Bill (now that holidays are over)!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Verlie, I doubt you lack in courage. You just don't strike me as the timid type. :) Happy Work Week to you, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Shaloo! Nothing wrong with living in the present. It has worked pretty well for me,too.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks John! Funny, but I thought HP was supposed to be a writers' site, not a forum site. Silly me!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Mike! Happy 2019 to you as well.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, your boy has the right approach to life, for sure. I'm trying to get back to that outlook....getting closer daily, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Janine! It feels good to be back to normal. Happy Monday to you!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      5 weeks ago from SW England

      Super stuff, bill! I know nothing about the Hubbie awards these days; couldn't even find out about them - where does one look? If they aren't that easy to find then that tells me that HP doesn't care about them much. Maybe I'm wrong...

      Congratulations to you for your 'best all round'; you certainly are. In fact, when I think about the different genres that you write within, then it's pretty mind-blowing!

      Love Springsteen - let's all just keep on running!


    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, I love getting feedback on my hubs (it lets me know that someone is reading them LOL), but like you I find that I'm not giving those comments the time that they deserve. I'm back to doing volunteer work for our church and there just don't seem to be enough hours in the day.

      Your advice to Rodric was spot-on. The topic of mental health is so broad, he needs to give some real thought to what his particular niche would/could be. Do some reading, find what the hot topics are and (on the flip side) see if he notices anything missing, something that isn't being covered as extensively or well as it should be.

      The serious writers are not happy with the HP staff slant on the Hubbie awards. I hope they are reading the comments and take notice. Like you and John, I think the forums are for those who like to rant but have no particular writing skill.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      5 weeks ago from Canada

      Morning Bill, Getting back to work, the first Monday in a new year, is daunting. It's great to read your mailbag today to give me a little courage and inspiration.

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      5 weeks ago from India

      Interested set of questions-answers. The first one struck quite a chord with me. I often refrain from talking about my failed marriage. Guilt, regret, shame or for whatever reason but it made me uncomfortable. I still don't talk about it because now I prefer living in the present. And this has made all the difference!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      5 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      Interesting questions Bill. One topic that keeps getting mentioned is the Hubby Awards. Because of a lot of the flack about some of the categories this year I visited the forums. A HP staff member was trying to defend them saying they were trying to make them fun etc. It went down well with the regular forum crowd but honestly it seems the forums are more important to the staff then the actual writers. At least three of the awards were tailored to be won by those who frequent the forums. they used to be more focused at acknowledging the writers.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      5 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Bill - Congratulations on the Hubbie Award. Interesting questions today, as per usual. Happy, productive and humor filled 2019 wishes.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I love these writing questions about life. If some of us write for a living -- well then.

      Gran Turismo Omologato otherwise known as a GTO and it reminds me of some time in a hoosegow outside of Kansas city for doing 110 in a speed trap.

      I am glad Flourish asked that question. Danged "have to's" and "wants to's". At least they are not honey do's.

      My boy always seems to love what he is doing and is bummed out to do something else -- and then he does it and loves it as an endless cycle.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      5 weeks ago from New York, New York

      Bill, I love the holidays and the season. But am with you that the last two weeks turned my schedule upside down and inside out! That said, happy to have a full week right now with hopefully little or no distractions work-wise, as well. So, on that note, I am wishing you the best first full week of 2019 and many more to come now!! :)


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