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Posts tagged ‘reflection’


May 21, 2022

lisa hammershaimb


Thank you. 

The pandemic years were (and let’s be honest still are) so, so hard. I lost friends, a job I loved, and a great deal of optimism and my own confidence in navigating the world. 

I came to OTESSA with low expectations. This is not any reflection of the conference organizers but rather, expectations have gotten harder as hoping in things has proved risky, painful business. I needed PD for my new job. I knew people speaking and in what felt like a past life was interested in the topics. I was pretty free. Done. 

Best. Decision. Ever. 

Hearing presentations and reconnecting with friends reawakened a part of me I thought had become yet another pandemic casualty. Metaphors and complexity—care and reflection—irresistible pedagogy and legos and afternoon swing music and dancing…these things began to rekindle hope in me. I’ve never been to a conference where I came to predictably cry through keynotes but, as cliche as it sounds, they were all good tears as things inside me began to thaw. 

Here is what OTESSA taught me: there are still people doing good work. There are still people caring and listening and showing up and being open and keeping going and….this is why we can still have hope. This is why I can still have hope. 

The last six months have been the hardest season of the hardest season of my life. This season is by no means over and yet OTESSA taught me there still is brightness. This brightness helps me remember who I am by remembering we are not alone or perhaps more specifically, I am not alone. 

So thank you friends for showing up and keeping going and helping to begin the slow thaw of my little hobbit-like heart that had inadvertently sworn off adventures and expectations.  Thank you for reminding me of the larger views, being your messy selves with tech glitches and children and pets and all the real life merging together even on a digital platform. Thank you for welcoming me and all the introverted misfits like me who went off radar back….again and again and again. 

Here’s to the good hard work and even more that we never have to do it alone. 

on being a visitor at DigPed Lab Cairo

March 28, 2016

lisa hammershaimb

“All these borders and boundaries are porous but we all pretend they’re not porous.”
George Station

Just finished the first installment of my efforts to weekend binge watch DigPed Lab Cairo. I was part of the first DigPed Lab in the States. As someone new-ish to the world of academia/pedagogy, it was hands down the highlight of my year and the ideas and engagement from that week have become foundational in how I view pedagogy and my own responsibility as an educator in the world. Cairo, Egypt is admittedly a completely different culture than Madison, Wisconsin so I am curious to learn more about what happened there – see how the ideas translated and even more see if any participants, like me, experienced a fundamental shift in how they view pedagogy and their own responsibility as educators in the world (spoiler alert: found a total DigPed kindred spirit in @NadinneAbo and so excited to learn more from her!)

I’m hopelessly behind making it through all the things over the weekend…apparently being talented at binge watching Project Runway doesn’t correlate to conference watching. That said, I’m dazzled enough by these ideas so I’m fine with a meander rather than a binge—more reading a novel than cramming for an exam.

So for the first chapter, what follows is a very brief reflection on the first super sized Virtual Connect hangout video with a room full of on-site and online participants who were discussing a piece by Lanclos on the the death of the digital native , a further elaboration on the Resident + Visitor idea for digital engagement. All quotes in this post are pulled from the video.

“I migrated to Google Plus from Moodle…During the revolution…I had to keep in touch with my students all over the place when everyone got evacuated.”
-DigPed participant whose name I didn’t catch but is at 20:46 in video

My big takeaway so far is that right now everyone is navigating the messy, imperfect, awkward growing pangs of what it means to integrate open or even online practices into pedagogy. The continuum seems to be less about who is operating in open versus closed systems and tool affordances but rather what responsibility do we have toward our students to model behavior and share practice? How do we creatively navigate and share—welcome others in and also allow others to welcome us into new spaces and ideas? How do we assess our options and be true to an ethos even as we remain nimble in the use of tools/practices/methods? It seems if one pushed these questions enough…ultimately the questions cycle into the realm of what does it mean to be human and experience connection and care within these networked spaces?

“We have a duty of care to provide our students with opportunities to practice…”
Donna Lanclos

As a graphic design educator who knows I’m doing trailblazing work, I’ve tended to think I’m the only one struggling with these questions and everyone else has it all together…all the other disciplines have found the perfect balance and are constantly sharing thoughtful creative blog posts with the world while the design educators are hoarding their work and teaching yet another generation that ideas are scarce and good work is guarded work.

Turns out…these struggles aren’t the exclusive domain of art and design disciplines. It sounds a bit perverse but this universal struggle gives me hope. Hearing people who are brave enough to talk about these things and brave enough to conduct their lives in ways that aren’t easy but are so necessary gives me the courage to enter the dialogue too. At this point perhaps just being open to being open is the most important thing. Or…maybe installment two of the conference will reveal the magic answer. : )


oceanic crossing…from the middle

March 4, 2016

lisa hammershaimb


Getting a doctorate is an oceanic crossing…and I am in the murky space, somewhere between one third and one half across. The timelines keep getting redrawn not because I am lazy but rather because the landscape is so vast. I know the place I will eventually land but the process is largely non-linear, meandering. I want my supervisor to be the cool, calm, GPS navigation to my journey…and instead of explicit mandates, we bounce around the Cynefin framework–simple to chaos, complex to complicated, complicated to simple. Winds are unpredictable in the crossing. Even as I’m enjoying a sea-like-glass, I have learned to be ever-watchful, eager for the perfect wind to carry me yet also bracing for potential gale force gusts.

And so every day mostly finds me engaged in the repetition of decidedly unsexy routine tasks: Read. Write. Think. Share. Repeat.

The crossing is teaching me to find insight through process rather than only seek out flashes of brilliance. And increasingly, the crossing is teaching me to be patient and to be part of the complexity rather than try to be master of it. The only way I will eventually land is if I trust the water and the wind–work with them in harmony.

So…back to work for another day: check the maps, adjust the sails, broadcast my own position, check the horizon…and even as I long to arrive, be dazzled that I get to be part of this story, part of this crossing.

day 2: research, relationships & narrative inquiry

January 6, 2016

lisa hammershaimb

Article Reference:
Caine, V., Estefan, A., & Clandinin, D. J. (2013). A return to methodological commitment: Reflections on narrative inquiry. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 57(6), 574-586.

Article Overview
Narrative has become a buzzword in research today. Though the authors acknowledge that diverse opinions allow the field to be enriched, they are concerned that narrative inquiry is being used as a catchall that does not represent the larger ontological underpinnings of its origins. This article is meant to be a refocusing, setting an ontological true north for narrative inquiry.

The authors begin asserting that narrative inquiry is more than a research methodology…it is in fact a narrative view of experience (p.575). When narrative inquiry is viewed solely as a research methodology, it runs the risk of being a one-way street where the researcher holds the power as she gathers the stories of research subjects. When narrative is viewed as an experience, it opens the way for narrative to become something multi-dimensional, co-composed, and changeable within social context. No longer do researchers become the harvesters of narratives, rather researchers acknowledge and live together in the endlessly complex/changeable social world with research participants and from that place of interwoven relationships begin to distill and sense make.

In addition, the authors deem that a “narrative ontology” is key to narrative inquiry. Narrative ontology “implies that experiences are continuously interactive, resulting in changes in both people and the contexts in which they interact” (p.576). The researcher’s lived experience too becomes an important part of the research process because narratives are not received in a sterile lab rather are received in the thick of daily life.

“To engage deeply with experience, an ontological commitment is, then, a relational commitment. It is a commitment to a form of togetherness in research that seems to explore how we are living in the midst of our stories” (p. 576).

In narrative inquiry, the researcher always draws on personal experiences when encountering research puzzles and attention to these personal experiences become the genesis of the relational commitment that is foundational to narrative inquiry.

My Thoughts
This was an interesting article for me because previously, when thinking of narrative inquiry, it was more from a place where my participants would tell me their stories, I’d dutifully record/code, and form some larger theory of experience, phenomenon, etc. To me, narrative was a unit of measure and though it might make me feel something…I’d do my best to bracket and stay true to the facts that were presented. After reading this article, I’m thinking that view was reductionist of me.

The idea that narrative inquiry promotes an interweaving of a researcher’s narrative with the narratives of research subjects rather than a bracketing out of researcher’s narrative is very appealing to me. In addition, the idea that narrative inquiry is relationally constructed resonates with me because I tend to think all of life is relationally constructed and understood. In my case, I am researching a topic that I am passionate about and have experience working within. Hearing relationships are okay within narrative inquiry (and indeed even part of its core) makes it attractive.

Additional Questions
That said, I wonder how objectivity is achieved within narrative inquiry. Could the relational construct obscure or gloss over the truth of a phenomenon? Or am I only thinking that because I’ve been steeped for so long in the validity of research that retains no fingerprints of the researcher? If narrative inquiry is all about exploring the interweaving of your life as a researcher and the lives of your participants…how can you avoid getting hopelessly tangled up in their lives and vice versa? What is professional (or even mental health) distance as a researcher engaged in narrative inquiry?

Overall Learning
Overall by defining its boundaries in general and the importance of a narrative ontology in particular, this article was a good way to begin my narrative inquiry exploration. My overarching takeaway is that not all research that uses narratives is narrative inquiry. If I do want to follow a narrative inquiry focus…I must be prepared for a deep level of engagement, immersion, and co-construction with my participants because research really might be in relationships.



humanMOOC wk 1: teacher presence, listening, and the inconvenient act that is caring about students

December 20, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

As Week 1 of HumanMOOC is coming to a close, it’s fitting to continue the trend of reflective blogging to capture thoughts about this week’s content.

Week 1 explored the “teacher presence” within CoI. Teacher presence is “…the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning objectives” (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001, p. 5).

Basically this means teacher presence is both behind the scenes setup of a course and active direction/guidance once a course is in progress so students have an experience that actually makes a difference in their educational/vocational journey. Teacher presence is crucial so students don’t feel isolated or alone.

Teacher presence is, for me, the most important of the CoI trifecta. I know there’s much to be said for general student agency in learning but even in a course as somewhat amorphous as HumanMOOC there still seems to be strong teacher presence (albeit disguised as wayfinders) working behind the scenes to ensure that events unfold. For example, though I’m tending my garden and watching new ideas begin to sprout…without the wayfinders doing the work of (metaphorically) giving me the chance to connect my plot to a whole bunch of others, I’d never have cultivated these ideas at this time and in this way.

All this to say coming into and going out of the week…I’m still a believer in the idea that all. the. things. may indeed hang on teacher presence.

But, lest this be a reflection of me blindingly praising teacher, this week did bring up a new idea for me namely that perhaps with teacher presence the ultimate end goal isn’t so much the teacher doing everything humanly possible to get their presence within the course but rather the ultimate end goal might be the teacher setting an example for all participants of what it means to model genuine human care within the distance mediated space of an online classroom.

It’s a subtle but significant difference.

If the goal of teacher presence is to create ample touch points within the classroom so students know the teacher is in fact human, all a teacher needs to do is create some videos, vocally-modulated audio comments, let an occasional spelling error slip and generally exhibit behavior that proves someone who isn’t programmed robotically is in control of the course. And yet at the end of the day…does it really matter as a learner to know that my teacher is in fact human if all I see exhibited is generalized human behavior? Or, does the real benefit of teacher presence come when the teacher becomes curious enough to understand my preferences as a learner (spoiler alert: I actually prefer text based comments…in fact I prefer text based everything), learn to recognize the nuance in my vocally-modulated/text-based comments (i.e. note when I’m standing on a ledge contemplating jumping), and gently correct my occasional spelling (or more likely APA) errors?

What this week has made me think lots about is that perhaps the real genius of a teacher being human in an online course context is that it enables the teacher to discover student intention and from there partner with the student so personally meaningful/educationally worthwhile learning outcomes are achieved.

In my own current experience working with my supervisor, I have little doubt he is human because I’ve watched videos of him on YouTube, and had emails/phone calls with him. While those things are nice, if I am honest the real reason I care about his humanity is for the very selfish reason that I need him to help me find my own intention amidst all the fuzzy dissertation ambitions I have and even more I need him to share his story with me and show me how I too can be a bit more human in the crazy online spaces we both find ourselves in on a regular basis. I need him to periodically check in with me not to remind me that I need to write more but to inquire how I’m feeling and genuinely listen/guide me when being a doctoral student takes a heavy mental toll.

His video/audio/text touch points are great but if I don’t get the sense that he actually cares about me as a human…I don’t think all the touch points in the world will have lasting transformative impact on me. Knowing he cares makes me want to care too and in that reciprocal connection…I am certain transformation in both of us happens.

So, in a lot of ways this week has messed me up and made my life as a teacher more difficult. I once patted myself on the back because I was clever with multi media and great about sending out regular messaging to students but admittedly I wasn’t so clever about actually listening back to them. If I believe that presence is a reciprocal relationship is just showing myself as human enough or is the real key showing myself as caring enough to draw out the intentions and ambitions of my students?

Reference: Anderson, T., Rourke, L., Garrison, D. R., Archer, W. (2001). Assessing Teaching presence in a Computer Conference Environment (Links to an external site.). Journal of asynchronous learning networks, 5(2), 1-17.

on sandboxes, concrete, and being in third year doctoral studies…

September 27, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

805 has officially begun which means my third year of doctoral study is officially underway. I have survived all required coursework, words ending in ‘ology’ are making greater appearance in my vocabulary, and I feel no imposter syndrome when introducing myself as a doctoral student. I am at the halfway mark, which means that in the not too distant future I’ll proudly add some letters to my name, and add some robes to my wardrobe.

Looking at my position from a cool, collected, impartial, fully bracketed viewpoint I seem to be in a great spot as a positive statistic in the doctoral journey (which in doctoral education is no small task). And yet from the inside, totally bracketed, personal view…I am anything but cool and collected and in fact “hot mess” is probably a more apt descriptor of my academic state.

I’ve spent the last two years happily frolicking in the fields of knowledge—doing my part to be the kid playing in a sandbox that seem to be such a favored metaphor for learning. In the process of such delightful play, I’ve become amazing at constructing elaborate turrets of sand quickly–dazzled by my own cleverness–then just as quickly smashing it all to begin again on something different. Creating artifacts out of transient materials has become my specialty and I’ve become the poster child for all the buzz words like “iterate” and “explore” and “embrace risk.”

But here’s the thing…though I have no regrets about how I’ve spent my time in the sandbox of doctoral education, I’ve forgotten what it means to have ideas be precious—forgotten what it means to construct in material that solidifies and hardens into a foundation that supports something that will withstand a bit of rain and wind.

Perhaps “forgotten” is too kind a word—if I am quite honest with myself, I’ve become afraid of the commitment.

And so here I am on the 805 flight that will convey me to a proposal, research, and eventually a robe with billowy sleeves. When I imagined what entering this place would feel like, I envisioned solid confidence, quiet wisdom…peace. Instead what I feel more than anything is serious longing to be back in the sandbox giggling over my own cleverness, playing with tools handed to me by others, safe and supervised while my imagination transports me far far away. I long for the low stakes that come from knowing wrong turns can be easily obliterated in the fluidity of transient materials.

But much as I may look back longingly, I know I cannot go back. Year three is the time to transition the sandbox architecture that worked best into a solid structure that will not only last but also become a place of connection—a place where others can gather. It’s a privilege to be at this space.

So, time to trust the wisdom gained from the past two years and most of all be brave. The sandbox ethos will always be part of me but it’s time to take responsibility and use my agency to create something larger that will harden…intimidating as that thought may be to a sand lover like me.

Dear all future dissertations students who have managed to reach the somewhat holy grounds of dissertation proposal writing and realize that they actually have no idea whatsoever what they are doing. Though it feels like you’re completely stuck in the endless maze of your own thoughts and you’re paralyzed by the weight of a hazy imagined future, know that you’re not alone. Acknowledge that its terrible for right now—wallow in it even—then keep moving forward in whatever small baby steps you can manage knowing that your hard work will someday result in a party far greater (and less gritty) than anything that could have happened in a sandbox.

on leadership and letting go…

January 30, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

Today I am so glad it’s almost Friday, almost the weekend, almost the time when I can be safely ensconced in two non-working days and not have a pavlovian reaction to my email alert tone. It’s been one of “those” weeks where you almost become conditioned to the fact that the sky will fall and you will completely shatter at least once per day (and indeed just once per day becomes grace.) I’m sure I’m being overly dramatic and in the long view of things this week will resolve but legit in this moment I’m pretty confident I’ve had more energy shortly after completing a marathon than I currently have now.

In an effort to model good reflective practice (and also with the hope that if I can write a significant portion of this out it means I will actually free up my racing mind and I will get to sleep a full night…finally) I’ll embrace objective academic and just list and annotate what I’ve observed in this week’s ethnography of lisa.

1. saying goodbye to people when they leave roles in your life that have been pillars in who you are is hard. always. even if you know it’s the right thing and you know they’re not leaving you and you know all the nice sounding stuff is true. it’s still a gut wrenching feeling of loss because there’s now this part of you that’s raw and missing. i’m old enough to know that it fills in and it resolves but yeah…this kind of somewhat internal ache is so hard and I’ve spent the week with what feels like a bruise on my soul that won’t heal anytime soon.

2. being humbled because you’ve been called on your own tendency to live in shades of gray rather than be black and white rule abiding is hard. always. My key strengths are my ability to take risks, try out things with confidence, and have a free thinking non-linear explorative spirit…except when I have to explain myself to a system based on rigid check and balance process and then the above become my key weaknesses. while I’m no longer actively in trouble, I’m glad that I know the boundaries of the play ground and have adjusted my scope of experimentation accordingly. “I’m sorry” has become the script of my week.

3. being completely vulnerable and transparent with those you lead is hard….but always the best way. When the above situation happened I was very open about my struggles and what was going on with my closest team members. It literally felt like i was about 12, I was going to vomit, and they were finally going to see me for the sham that the darker voices in my head talk about on a daily basis. Yet after I’d gotten it out, totally cliche but, it was freedom because they saw new parts of me and even more were allowed to speak into me rather than the usual me-to-them transaction.

4. the hardest thing about being a leader is opening your own grabby little fists and trusting your team. (indeed, the hardest part of being a person might be opening up your grabby little fists and trusting others, time, and process.) when I accepted this job almost a year ago, I was so concerned that I wouldn’t be able to give presentations because I was such a poor public speaker…I was petrified that I wouldn’t know how to balance my time and I’d burn out…I was convinced that no one would follow my lead and all my ideas were too crazy or bizarre to ever inspire others. Turns out, presentations (or at least distance-mediated ones) are cake. Balancing time is tricky but luckily I do have a pretty good “stop or I will stop for you” balance on my body itself. Ideas? Position and passion pretty much ensure that people will jump on the bandwagon…keeping them is anyone’s guess but getting them isn’t so hard.

But yeah…letting go is something so completely different. For whatever reason (and I’m taking the Leadership Theory course right now so you’d think if anyone knew the answer it would be me) it feels natural for me to say that I’d be willing to sacrifice myself for my team as I am their leader but to give them stuff to do….eek! I’m not weak! I’m not needy!! I’m all powerful and in charge!!! Or at least I like to tell myself these things.

In truth, I am strong and courageous but so is every person on my team. By virtue of timing and choosing and who knows what…I ended up as the “leader” but with that title I didn’t suddenly also get superpowers.

Then things like this week happen and you end up messy and human and anything but a superhero in front of your team and turns out…just where you end is the perfect place for all of them to begin. It turns out that you’ve been feeling noble as you shelter them but really they’re more than willing for the relationship to be reciprocal…more than capable of holding you when you need it, if you will only let them.

I didn’t have many proud moments this week but I did have a proud moment realizing that the culture I’ve been hoping for for oh the last year is actually a reality. We can be open. We can be real people with each other.  We can open our grabby hands because it is safe. I can (and have) opened my hands to them because it is safe and in a act of grace and beauty…they’ve opened theirs in return.

So, what’s next? Hopefully lots of sleep and some quiet. Though I’m finding resolution more and more, this week scarred me pretty deep and I want to grow and not gloss over these new places in me that have opened up.

Ahh life….What a fun and frustrating challenge you often turn into.

2015 and back to it…

January 6, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

Woohoo! New Year! Time for renewed blogging resolutions, right? Every day writing! Every day reflecting! Every month great American novel composing because I wake up an hour early and write my little heart out with tender, sensitive, academic prose! Who’s in???


Not me.


And not because I’m not a great dreamer but rather because I know the tole my 15 day run of academic writing took on me way back in November. It was legit a great experience but that coupled with lots of 803 assignments and working like a maniac in my day job made me run dry on words. By dry I don’t mean just no longer clever or witty but dry like in the last few days before break it almost physically hurt to form sentences in emails because the words were just gone. I have a feeling this may be what thesis writing will feel like. If so…eeek. But, good news is a two week long holiday break later filled with lots of reading, lots of sleeping, lots of eating, and lots of drinking, the word bucket is once more filled up and ready to be parceled out on the little neglected blog.

804 begins next week (I think….since the 803 disaster I’ve become a little less cognizant of actual start dates and have taken a more “it will begin when it begins” approach) and as a way to start things off our instructor asked us to take a short survey reflecting on what we want out of the class (or our goals/what will be a “win” for us), our experiences in leadership (or what sort of baggage we’re bringing to the class), and anything we think that she should know about the cohort that will make all of our lives easier in the next term.

I think it’s a fabulous idea to do the whole reflection thing before anything gets started. Our prof this term is the head of the department so I suppose it only follows that she’s got more vested into the program thus might make a better showing than a certain previous prof who shall remain nameless. She also gave us the first two weeks readings so we could all be prepped up for the first day, whenever that might be. I’ve never done pre-reading for a class but given that I had time and was word starved, I did it and it’s been great so far. Even if the class nosedives from here, I’ve taken enough good stuff from the readings thus far to set me on a good path. So, overall verdict is thus far…all the good feels for 804.

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2 years ago the blog journey began…

October 15, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

…and I wrote what follows after the break.

Who was this passionate design-distance education-zealot? Pretty amazing to read this somewhat time capsule from the lisa of two years ago who was fresh off a year of dysfunctional relationships, deep (and dare I say quite dark) personal questioning, and still reeling from the shock of entering into the third decade of life. This was pre-Athabasca, pre-cohort…when Canada was just the great white north and being “more Brazilian” in mindset only made me think of having markedly smaller swimwear. I had no idea what MOOCs were, had never heard of open networks or a digital identity, didn’t know how to cite APA-style. (Okay that last one shows some things haven’t changed so much….:) While no part of me wishes to go back to those days which were legit the most painful of my life, there is part of me that hopes to recapture some of the raw energy I had around these ideas. “Distance learning should not suggest a diminished, second-rate quality of design education but instead should be a great equalizer in access to learning resources, bringing high quality design education to all people willing to learn, regardless of their geographic location.” Amen, younger lisa. Let’s take that fire and all the new stuff we’re learning and change the world for good.

So…. “Here’s to the next couple years, new learnings, and the adventure…whatever it may hold.”

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back to…work

August 13, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

beer_tableI’ve recently arrived back from a month+ in the mountains filled with playing, running, drinking, and generally relishing the laid back life of a pseudo-cowgirl rather than a hard working urban academic/freelance graphic designer. This basically means (for all the people who don’t self identify as laid back pseudo-cowgirls) substituting divergent-thinking and cosmic question-asking for academic journal reading and anything that even remotely resembled formalized educational theory. And eating…lots of eating. Oh, and a sprinkling of rhinestones, boots, and fancy cocktails since the range is a thirsty place!

But now it’s August, which means September is right around the corner, which means formalized education is soon to replace my free-spirited adventures. So…time to, among other things, get back to writing and reading and seeing how (or even if) all the loose ends of the summer might actually weave into the bigger narrative of my dissertation and connect in hitherto unknown ways. It feels a bit like beginning to exercise again after you’ve taken a long time off…you know in your head it’s going to be good for you (and getting cute new exercise clothes is fun) but you also know it’s going to be really really hard and all your body really wants to do is sit on the couch and surf twitter, eat cheese puffs, and in your cute new exercise clothes. It feels like right now I’m the chubby awkward kid in gym class who just wants to hide when teams are being picked because I know the first time the ball comes to me I won’t be brave and catch it…I’ll scream and cover my head and wish that the ground could swallow me.

But…this isn’t my first rodeo and I know, no matter how terrible things are to begin with, at some point the endorphins will kick in, I’ll learn to ignore the school yard bullies who seem to live inside my head, and things will click.

So…welcome August…and now, back to work.


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