I'm still here, sitting in my corner without saying much. It's so strange being in this place -- I'm usually so verbal, even if just with myself! Even so, I've had lots of other thought flickers I've been wanting to share with you. So here they are, in all their random jumble: some of the minor or major thoughts taking up some of my brain-space these days.

* I'm in the business finance class of my master's program this month. Have I ever told you how this program works? I take one class at a time for four hours a day, five days a week, for one month straight, for a total of thirteen courses over thirteen months. That's three and a half weeks to get a whole semester's worth of learning in. It's totally new, this way of learning for me, but I've found that I like the intense focus on one subject at a time. Everything moves so quickly, I can hardly believe I'm in my fourth month of the program already -- over a quarter of the way through!

* Anyway, business finance. Lots of fun. Yeah. But seriously, I am learning so much that's incredibly helpful and useful and moving me along in my business. For instance, we learned on Friday about financial statements and balance sheets, and we learned today how to analyze them. I would never have known any of this stuff if I just struck out on my own and got started without any training, and I probably would have failed big time. This way, at least my odds of failing are less stacked against me. Personally, I don't like learning about finance, especially at 9 in the morning and for four hours straight. However, I see the necessity for it and am glad to be learning from someone who will continue to be a great resource even after I leave Full Sail.

* Tomorrow, as part of an assignment, I'm having lunch with a guy I used to work with at the book publisher whose 20+ years of expertise is in manufacturing. I'm going to interview him about all that I need to know about working with suppliers. Next week, I'm going to meet with an arm of the Small Business Administration that specifically helps women and minorities (I'm both) find financing and/or funding for their small business, especially when starting out. And I have the business card of a guy who started a game board company in the last few years; I'm going to make an appointment to talk further with him about finding and working with manufacturers, since a number of the final pieces of my product will require a similar level of manufacturing and assembly. It's cool being able to be in the learning phase of this process right now, interviewing people who can help me along by sharing what they learned in their own journey.

* Speaking of classes, last month I took the brand management class. Can I tell you how amazingly awesome it was?! It was the third course in my program but the first one that was intensely practical and applicable to getting my business off the ground. We had to plan a complete brand strategy for our business, based on the immutable laws of branding that we studied during the month. It kicked my tail in gear to actually put this plan in place, but I am very pleased with the end result. I have to tell you, though, that it was somewhat intimidating presenting a brand strategy for a business centered around the heart of a woman when my class is 95% male! My classmates were great, though, and surprised me in the end by asking a ton of very thoughtful questions. (It probably helped put them at ease that I went off-script near the beginning and quipped, "I'm just forewarning you guys right now: my presentation is very girlie!") Anyway, besides their thoughtful questions, it additionally felt great to have already thought through many of those they asked so that instead of saying, "Hm. Good point. I'll have to think about that," I could tell them my response and then back it up with rationale.

* Tonight I finished my fifth and final night of hospice training. Can I just say that I am duly impressed with Hospice of the Comforter? Every single person who taught a segment of our training was so professional yet compassionate, so knowledgeable yet warm. This has got to be one of the best non-profit organizations out there. Oh yeah, and all the other volunteers were amazing to get to know, too. We were a great little group -- I'm going to miss seeing them, now that the training's over!

* Speaking of hospice training, did you know that the only people who benefit from hospice services are those in the end-stage of life? Meaning, they most certainly are going to die within the next six months (though most live shorter and a small percentage live longer). I must confess that when I signed up for this, I thought hospice was a home-care program for people who were too sick or frail to make it to the doctor's office or hospital. But, no. It's for people at the end of their lives who have chosen to die in the comfort of their homes, surrounded by their families, friends, and the comfort of the familiar, rather than prolonging their lives artificially or with additional treatment after treatment. (I'll likely write a longer post soon about all that I've learned so far -- which is so much!)

* Kirk and I have been praying about opening our home for regular gatherings of people. You can be praying with us about this, as we're taking it pretty seriously and weighing what that could look like. More than anything, we want to love Jesus and seek His face more than we seek anything else we could do "in His name." Simply put, we need wisdom.

* Oh, and speaking of noise and the need for quiet in soul space, I continue to be dismayed at the increasing glitz and in-your-face-ness of bookstores these days. I haven't found a book at Borders in months (except for two books I went into the store knowing I wanted to buy ahead of time). So last night Kirk and I went out of our way to visit a Barnes & Noble instead but left 20 minutes later completely discouraged. It seems like a million books are being sold these days but only a fraction of them with anything worth saying. It's like the gajillion of books in supply put publishers in the sad position of competing for the next biggest scoop, which means catering to the lowest common denominator of our humanity. Blah. And besides that, the people writing these books seem to want to capitalize on baseness, like the terrible conditions of their childhood or their slow descent into insanity or their fifteen minutes of celebrity. Yuck. Since I love real-life stories of ordinary people, I'm finding it increasingly hard to find anything worth reading, and this bums me out. If you've got any recommendations, I'll gladly take them. Keep in mind that I like personal memoir, quirky travel narratives, spiritual essays, and the occasional really good novel. :)