Now we are one (Blogoversary)

I love you like a fat kid loves cake~
It’s been a year!* Many happy returns to me!

 

(*actually it was a year on 6 Jan 2013, so I’m a month late. But hey! I’m writing my blogoversary post anyway.)

 

It’s something that people ask me quite often nowadays: have you always been a writer?

 

And the truth is, I am surprised when people call me a writer. I giggle a bit internally, and then shyly puff up my feathers a bit and stretch my head up tall as I try it on: writer.

 

It was a childhood ambition; I wrote mediocre stories that I inflicted on a select few (you know who you are – sorry!!) and then when I was fifteen I discovered poetry and poured out my soul in secret.

 

And then after university – nothing. I exchanged writing for talking and was very happy about that, until I got so ill that I couldn’t see friends much anymore.

 

This is why I started the blog. I was housebound, i was bored, I had to ration the times i could chat to friends because it was too physically exhausting. I had no outlet, and my brain was all congested with millions of impatient thoughts, honking loudly. I started writing because I could no longer talk. It was my way of saying to the world, ‘hey! I am still here! I have thoughts!’

 

After a good friend gave me a couple of encouraging pushes, i wrote my first blog post in excitement and trepidation, armed only with a ‘list of interesting thoughts’ that I could post, vowing to stop when I had got them all down.

 

Preparing for my first blog post, 6 Jan 2012

Preparing for my first blog post, 6 Jan 2012

 

Starting to write regularly felt like I was returning to a childhood home – when you walk through the door and everything is just the same and you smile in fond recognition; it looks and smells like comfort. I was catching up with a long-lost friend, and it was as if no time has passed.
 

And then, somewhere along July or August, I fell unexpectedly in love. I turned into one of those annoying gushing teenagers who can only talk about their boyfriend: “I am SO loving blogging! I just want to spend all my time writing – I’m so surprised by how much I love it!’ We had a brief row when he got a bit demanding and clingy but now we’re back together and I think it may just work out. (Fellow writers – you know what I’m talking about, right??)

 

A favour and a PRESENT!

 

At the risk of sounding like Gwyneth Paltrow accepting her Oscar, I would like to gush a bit about how wonderful this experience has been and how thankful I am to everyone who reads this blog and the friends I have made through it.

 

I am profoundly grateful for every reader and every commenter who has encouraged me with a “you too? Me too!” and for the writers in this crazy blogosphere who have inspired me, who have taught me to write, who have kept my thoughts Godwards. Thank you.

 

Over to you – I need your feedback!

  • What do you like about my blog? How would you describe it to others?
  • Which have been your favourite posts?
  • What kinds of topics would you like me to explore this year?
  • What do you think of the frequency of the posts? (Too many/too few/just right?)
  • Who are your other favourite bloggers I may not know?
  •  
    As a thank you to my readers, I would like to offer a FREE gift to two lucky commenters, chosen at random from the comments below this post at 12noon GMT on Tuesday 19 Feb. There are three things that I found really helpful in those eighteen months that I was housebound and blogless:

  • God on Mute: Engaging the silence of unanswered prayer – Pete Greig
  • God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament angry, sexist and racist? – David T Lamb
  • Beautiful Things – Gungor (CD)
  •  
    I will choose two winners at random (US or UK entry only) from the comments and notify you by email: you can let me know which ONE of the above books/CDs you’d like me to send.

     
    To help jog your memory for the comments, here’s a list of the blog posts of 2012:

     
    In January I wrote my First Ever blog post on calling and how I had found myself writing with my left hand; I wrote about Abraham and insurance and how God is not sensible, and a love letter for all who suffer in silence: Hagar encountering the God who sees.

     
    In February I thought about my writing voice and I broke my iPad, I explained that having M.E. does not make me heroic and that chronic illness is not a battle. With tears and trembling I wrote out my story of the last two years, my journey of learning to trust, and I guest-posted for the first time..

     
    Then I had an M.E. relapse and fell down a mountain. I got my preach on and said This Should Not Be. I repainted life with my teeth, wobbled my way through Mothers’ Day, dug deep into Psalm 126 and discovered Five Minute Friday for the first (and second) time.

     
    In April the relapse kicked in and the only thing I could write was about Living in the In-between. In May I worshipped before wrestling, asked you to care about M.E. and introduced you an amazing poet. I ran away from God and I felt empty, and like a faker. I had a speed date with my husband, decided to be more encouraging, and decided that Facebook wasn’t anti-gospel.

     
    June was all about getting angry with God, and I decided if it was good enough for Job, it was good enough for me. In Five Minutes, I looked at looking, celebrated baptisms, rejoiced with bloggy friends and decided not to take a risk.

     
    I went on holiday in July, I took photos and decided that life is for telling, that life is poetry and that I am rather difficult. In that summer of Urgh, Jeff Goins wrecked me, my cousin died, I rediscovered my perfectionist tendencies. I was only halfway here, I stretched, I flew halfway to heaven, I watched the leaves change. I went to mission in Liverpool and realised the sacrifice my Mum had made.

     
    September was a manic blur of crying in a school corridor, discovering mercy, imagining Paul in prison. I walked through the wardrobe into Twitter, became an honorary introvert, grasped, watched people from my window, refocused, danced like Mary, sat halfway up the stairs and wondered how you know you’re called.

     
    Tuesdays were for honesty and we launched the God and Suffering series:

     
    Natalie was in a hospital, clinging on to God; Kath searched for God in depression; Penelope was frozen, processing trauma; Ed was alone; Alastair stopped treating God like wallpaper; Joy’s faith was sandblasted. Emma became the girl who said yes, Nick learnt about fatherhood, Alice chose suffering, Addie said to ask someone else. Shelly travelled to Rwanda, Micha just breathed, Dave carried on running, Emily stopped fearing. I read all these testimonies and treasured them up in my heart.

     
    In October I thought about Paul in Athens, and eating pigswill. I wrote about the concrete words of book and horse. I ran faster, I travelled without knowing it into a foreign country and confessed to having a troubled marriage and being no prayer warrior. In November I put down roots, I waded reluctantly into the Women Bishops debate, wrestled with spiritual love languages, realised God might love me and snuggled in a cold cathedral. I decorated my Christmas tree and mourned with Newtown, Connecticut. Then I stepped into Advent thoughts on waiting, homelessness, groaning and that great and glorious day of Jesus’ arrival.

     
    It’s been quite a journey. Thanks for doing it with me.

     
    (here are those questions again):

  • What do you like about my blog? How would you describe it to others?
  • Which have been your favourite posts?
  • What kinds of topics would you like me to explore this year?
  • What do you think of the frequency of the posts? (Too many/too few/just right?)
  • Who are your other favourite bloggers I may not know?
  •  

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    41 Responses to Now we are one (Blogoversary)

    1. Kimberly 15th February, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

      You amaze me with what you’ve accomplished in a year! Happy Blogoversary! As for favorite posts, I love the one you wrote for my blog:) However, I so appreciated your post on spiritual love languages. It took me to a place I didn’t know I needed to go. Your writing often does that for me:) Thanks for sharing your gift and for showing me a new way to think and believe.

      • Tanya 18th February, 2013 at 10:41 am #

        Thank you so much – especially for sharing how you connected with the spiritual love-languages post. I’m really glad – it was a ‘lightbulb’ moment for me too!

        I really love your writing – thank you for celebrating this anniversary with me!

    2. Liz Eph 14th February, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      I’m still fairly new here. Good to hear how you started. Isn’t it wonderful to have a voice on here – not quite a substitute for talking but a not bad second best. I’m enjoying your blogs. Happy anniversary.
      Liz Eph recently posted…A thought, concretewords, : ‘The Cupboard’My Profile

      • Tanya 15th February, 2013 at 9:56 am #

        Yes! I really value having a voice! Thanks for celebrating with me. :-)

    3. Jo Inglis (@Piano_Jo) 14th February, 2013 at 12:34 am #

      A ‘slainte mhath’ for your first blogoversary! Yours was one of the first blogs I came across on Twitter and I found your writing to be honest and engaging from the start (as a plus you were writing on something I was wrestling with at the time too). The other main thing I like about your blog is that every reader is important to you and that is so evident in the comments you take the time and care to make. I love the God & Suffering series and particularly how that so generously promotes other writers, increases the sense of community and I have been delighted to find and connect with others as a direct result of this.
      Favourite post has to be one of the early ones I read where you wrote about cuddling the boy until he melted into your arms and how we need to let our Father do the same at times. This was one which helped re-set me on the path to seeing God in the every day in a way that I haven’t for a number of years.
      Whatever kinds of topics you write about during this year, just keep writing from the heart. It is what you do so well. I think you maintain a good presence with the number of posts you make. You know and follow so many bloggers already, perhaps @CalebWilde is one you may not have come across? His website is Confessions of a Funeral Director, more left field topic-wise than most!
      Twitter wouldn’t be the same without you and your blog, that’s for sure.

      • Tanya 15th February, 2013 at 9:56 am #

        I’m so glad that you and others have said there’s such a sense of community on here! It’s something that is hard for me as a writer to really identify, but as you say, I really do appreciate every reader and commenter. I’m sometimes a bit late in getting back to people, but I do try!

        And you know something? The running away from God post is my very favourite thing that I have written. It was such a ‘lightbulb’ spirit-changing experience and I am just beyond chuffed that you connected with it too like that. Amazing. We are clearly kindred spirits :-)

        Haven’t heard of caleb Wilde, sounds v interesting!

        Thank you, Jo.

    4. Donna 14th February, 2013 at 12:05 am #

      I had no idea you’d only been blogging for a year – congratulations! One day I’m going to be brave and actually start a blog, instead of just talking about one day starting a blog… I have those same feelings you describe, of all these thoughts and wonderings stuffed inside me, desperately trying to find a way out.
      I found you through your ‘being angry with God’ posts, and they are still my favourites. I think because it’s a topic that resonates with me, and also one that so few people are willing to discuss. It helped that you really dug into it, and didn’t just skim along the surface.
      In fact, that’s my favourite thing about your blog – you go deep. You’re not afraid of the messy middles (love that Addie girl!), and it is so very refreshing to read.
      I also love that you reply to the comments, it really does make it feel like a conversation – and also makes it more likely that I will post comments… although I realise that if there are 50 (or more!) comments on each post, replying to each one probably isn’t going to be a happening thing!
      I have found myself wondering how you’re doing with the whole mothering thing, with your illness. How do you cope with your own needs, and the needs of your son? I have loved the little glimpses you’ve given us of him.
      I’m so glad you started this blog :) I don’t have much time for blog-reading, and a long list of blogs that are too good to stop reading, so it takes me a long time to get round them all, but I always go back and read all your posts, no matter how far behind I am!

      • Tanya 15th February, 2013 at 9:51 am #

        Thank you, Donna! Go blog, definitely! I’m so glad that you liked my anger with God posts – you’re right, no-one talks about this. I know this because it is THE most popular search term that leads to my blog. Huge numbers of hits from searches like ‘angry with God’ and ‘is it a sin that I’m angry’. And my blog is not that big…!

        Thanks for asking about how it works out with motherhood and ME. That’s a good suggestion for future posts!

    5. Jenni Osborn 13th February, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

      Tanya I only came across your blog in the later part of the year and I’ll confess to not having trawled through your previous stuff before, but wow have you written an amazing amount about life and God! My favourite post is Alice’s about choosing suffering, I’ve not known Alice much longer than I’ve been reading Thorns and Gold and I’ve picked up things here and there about her story but it’s so powerful to read it through.

      Thank you for writing what I so often am thinking and feeling about life. Thank you for being so searingly honest. Thank you.
      Jenni Osborn recently posted…Affairs of the heart: a responseMy Profile

      • Tanya 15th February, 2013 at 9:48 am #

        Thank you so much for your feedback. I love that your favourite post was Alice’s! I think her writing and her story is incredible – she just shines without even realising.

        Thank you for feeling and thinking what I am writing :-) It is such a gift to know I am not alone.

    6. Janice 13th February, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

      Yay! Happy One Year! I just took Liam to his checkup at the doctor, and it makes me think all sorts of funny things about your blog and how we should measure it and check it’s developmental skills and maybe give it some immunizations!

      Here’s my best shot :) at answering your questions:

      What do you like about my blog? How would you describe it to others? I LOVE your writing. It’s accessible and beautiful and so real and worth reading. I feel like there are so many things on line that it is easy to glaze over and just read the bold print. Yours is never like that. I like to savor your posts. I’d describe it as honest without being depressing, hopeful without being cliche and friendly with out being fake.
      Oh, and I also love that you always comment back. I really feel like we’ve gotten to be friends even though we’re sitting on opposite sides of the globe an you’re probably asleep right now.

      Which have been your favourite posts? Good grief. Don’t ask impossible questions! I love the concrete words ones because they’re like “get to know the author” posts in just the greatest possible way. And I love the God and suffering series because I think it’s so good at discussing the whole issue, not just the glorified ending once suffering has been alleviated. And I think there are many souls who need room to talk about the suffering part of it all. But seriously, I ALWAYS smile when I see you’ve posted something new. I think I originally found you through the Job posts. Which were great.

      What kinds of topics would you like me to explore this year? No idea. But if I think of something, I’ll let ya know!

      What do you think of the frequency of the posts? (Too many/too few/just right?) Just right. I’m amazed you can do it so consistently, but I love it.

      Who are your other favourite bloggers I may not know? Well, you and Addie Zierman are my two favorite bloggers who I am cyber friends with, but I have a real life friend, Karen, who is the most beautiful writer. She tends to write short meditations on an idea, but they’re very similar to the feel of your concrete words posts. Really, hop over and read a couple of her posts. I think you’ll like her.

      http://kbkubin.blogspot.com/2013/02/overflow.html
      http://kbkubin.blogspot.com/2013/02/counting-stars.html

      Oh, and she has a series on Colors which actually changed the way I looked at several colors.
      Janice recently posted…Five Minute Friday – um, Saturday – AgainMy Profile

      • Tanya 15th February, 2013 at 9:46 am #

        Thank you SO much! I also feel like we are good friends, and really appreciate the ways in which you reach out to me. I love that you love the concrete words posts, because they so often feel risky/off-message/just self indulgent, writing for the love of writing! Thank you for savouring my posts. Thank you for slowing down to hear my thoughts. I really value that.

        I also love that you mention me in the same breath as Addie Zierman – she is my fave too! I am going over now to check out Karen’s posts!
        Much love and thanks! X

    7. tallandrew 13th February, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

      Well done Tanya. Your raw honesty is something that gives encouragement to all in the grey and gritty areas of life and faith. I think my favourite was the one about God in the grey!
      tallandrew recently posted…Dear Joey Barton…My Profile

      • Tanya 15th February, 2013 at 9:42 am #

        Thank you! And thanks for your feedback on that particular piece – I hadn’t had a lot of feedback on it cos it was on someone else’s site, so it’s always hard to tell!

    8. Mark Allman 13th February, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

      You are one of my most favorite persons and one of my most favorite blogs. I find your writing always thought provoking and meaningful.

      The two things that are impressive from your blog besides the writing are one the “introduce yourself part of your blog” under you “about me” section. I would like to see more bloggers do that as I would like to know more about the people who comment along with me on a post. The second impressive part is how you almost always comment on your comments. I think that is very meaningful to the person who comments.

      I would say my favorite post were “no prayer warrior”, “boots”, “again”, “is faith all about the black and the white” and “the Box” whose last line “I had hidden the wrong thing.” still resonates in my soul. I like blog post on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays because so many blog M, W, F it is difficult to get to all the post when they go up.

      I think you should continue to write what is on your heart. For it is those struggles of life that resonate in our souls deeply.

      Tanya Marlow…. Prayer Warrior…. Writer Extraordinaire.

      • Mark Allman 13th February, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

        I did want to say congratulations on your blog anniversary and suggest that you do a vlog every once in a while.

      • Tanya 15th February, 2013 at 9:39 am #

        I’m really glad you enjoy the interaction! I always like to know more about people’s stories, and I particularly appreciate you sharing so much of yourself and your life with me. I love the way the Internet makes friendships possible in this way!

        Thank you so much for the v useful tips about the best days for posting. I used to join in with link-ups on weds, which is why I had my main post on that day, but it might now make more sense to do the main post on a Thursday, and I just hadn’t considered that. Thank you!

        Thanks for saying mine is one of your favourite blogs. You are one of my very favourite commenters! I always look forward to hearing your thoughtful analysis.

        And as for a v-log, I will definitely consider it, though I am the world’s most unphotogenic person, and my body seems to abandon all sense of co-ordination when there’s a camera on it! :-)

    9. HopefulLeigh 13th February, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

      Congratulations on one year, Tanya! What fun. So glad we’ve connected. I love hearing from your point of view on all manner of things.
      HopefulLeigh recently posted…Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart review and giveawayMy Profile

      • Tanya 15th February, 2013 at 9:33 am #

        Thank you, Leigh! I am also really grateful we’ve connected – you’re fab!

    10. Alia Joy 13th February, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

      Happy One year to you! We are blogsy twins since I started Jan 4th! Picking one favorite post for me is like being asked to pick a favorite child. Can’t do it because they resonate differently at different times and there is just so much loveliness going on here. I went in search of a few posts that stuck in my mind but couldn’t find them. One was about your insurance and feeling hearbroken. That was a gut punch and so beautifully real and raw. I also loved your boots post. It was whimsical and real at the same time and that’s hard to do. And I REALLY loved your oneword post this year. It’s my favorite oneword I’ve read this year.
      As for the questions:
      I like you in your blog. I feel like I know you and we’re already good friends. Your writing invites me write into your life and thoughts and emotions without pretense and I love that! I would describe it to others as a place to pound out suffering until what remains is glory. You see hope but don’t sugar coat the ugly parts.
      I love your Tuesday guest posts and all the subject matter has been glorious.
      I’m terrible with coming up with explorable topics. If I could come up with them off the top of my head, I’d be writing about them too so can’t help you there. But if you write it, I’ll read it.
      I love the frequency of your posts although I don’t get to read as regularly as I’d like to, I love that when I can get over here there is always new stuff to read.
      Oh and bloggers you may not know… ? I think you know more bloggers than I do and we tend to have the same taste in writers. I don’t think I have anyone to add, in fact, I’m going to check out some of your links on your sidebar of blogs I’ve never heard of.
      Wow, that was a crazy long rambling comment. No coffee yet.
      Hope you have a great day! Love what you bring to this blogging world, it wouldn’t be the same without you!
      Alia Joy recently posted…Pursuing Justice Book GiveawayMy Profile

      • Tanya 15th February, 2013 at 9:32 am #

        Thank you SO much for this.

        I love that we are blogsy twins! I am so glad that you feel like you know me and like me. Back atcha for your blog!

        “A place to pound out suffering till what remains is glory” – oh my, I love this description. It makes me want to rise to it all the more. Thank you for this.

        You have such a gift of giving word-compliments as diamonds- you have both insight and an uncanny magic with words. (Which is a clumsy way of saying I feel very loved by this, and I’m going to treasure it up).

    11. Alastair 13th February, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

      Congratulations! And many happy returns. :-)

      I love the openness of this blog and the effort that you put into cultivating a community. Little touches, like the ‘over to you’ section make a big difference (I’ve always enjoyed this on Vicky’s blog too). Also the frequent guest posts are great. All of these things suggest that you are going to effort to ensure that your blog is a conversation with a lot of space made for other voices. I also really appreciate the way that this blog isn’t driven by the latest online argument or debate, but is focused on deeper and more constant themes of Christian life.

      I like the regularity of your posting. As someone who has been blogging for nearly ten years, I know that getting regularity right is much easier said than done. The fact that you post so consistently really makes a difference. Posting huge posts irregularly, I know that it is hard for such a blogging style to gain much community momentum.

      One idea for future blogging might be setting up a project between several blogs (perhaps following the lead of The Big Bible Project) where a biblical book is chosen for each month and each blogger commits to posting three or four posts on the book over the month and to draw attention to the others doing so. It would be a great way to encourage a positive and biblical focus, to discover new blogs and voices, and to create broader communities of bloggers and their readers.
      Alastair recently posted…The Cup of the Adulteress: Understanding the Jealousy Ritual of Numbers 5My Profile

      • Tanya 15th February, 2013 at 9:27 am #

        Thank you SO much for this useful feedback. I really appreciate the community on here – starved of extrovert contact, I want to imitate normal conversation as far as possible! (And I blatantly nicked the ‘over to you’ thing from Vicky, cos it’s v useful for stirring up thought!)

        I also appreciate your affirmation to continue my own thing, not posting about the latest Mark Driscoll controversy. It is tempting at times, as your article on this subject so aptly identified!

        I love your idea. I shall ponder it further. I have a few similar ideas rolling around… Perhaps for the autumn? Thank you!

    12. Ian 13th February, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

      Happy Blogoversary,
      I am new to the world of blogs and all that technology offers. Reading through, reminds me that good writing does the writer ‘good’ as well as the reader who is interested, informed, challenged and amused. You manage those four elements.

      I love writing – stories and poetry but keep on telling myself that I should be doing other things. Your blogoversary is a reminder to me that not following your heart is crazy- I have used the 39 years of working life as an excuse not to do so.
      So you have reminded me that I should allow some time to write- although sharing with others is another thing.
      Thanks for writing and sharing; I am still working through how to cope with suffering.

      Ian

      • Tanya 15th February, 2013 at 9:14 am #

        Thank you so much, Ian. I really hope that you do have the courage to follow your heart a bit more and dig into that writing gift. I think it helps with the coping with suffering, too. It’s not a miracle, it doesn’t and can’t solve everything, but it can help to get catharsis.
        Thanks so much for stopping by – I really appreciate it!

    13. Joy Lenton 13th February, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

      Dear sweet Tanya, I haven’t known you as long as some. So it is great to see what I’ve missed! Happy Blogoversary to you! How to make a choice? To play favourites? No way, not even ‘anyway’. With content like yours, each post is eagerly devoured and savoured. I love it all.
      I love your honesty.
      I love your deep deep love of God.
      I love the way you see rainbows through the rain.
      I love how illness may constrain but doesn’t define you.
      I love your passion and energy – yes, it is there in your words.
      I love the hope you bring to fellow M.E and chronic illness sufferers as you hold out support and embrace us all with kindness and grace.
      I love the way you write and how strong you are in your ‘voice’.
      I could go on…but you get the picture! So glad I found your blog. Each time a new post comes up I can’t wait to read it. Tuesdays are special too as you open your page and your heart to others who are hurting.
      Just keep writing, Tanya, and blessing us more than you can know through your gift. Love and gratitude :) xx
      Joy Lenton recently posted…Decisions, decisions…My Profile

      • Tanya 15th February, 2013 at 9:12 am #

        Thank you so much for these words of affirmation, Joy. These words are a gift to me, and I will treasure them up. I so appreciate your regular visits here, and your ever-insightful comments. Thank you!

    14. Alice 13th February, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

      Oooooh! How did you fit so much into a year?! And how am I meant to choose a favourite post?!

      I loved the day that changed you – the honesty and sorrow and power of it.
      I love every Tuesday – I really do.
      I loved that you nudged me to read ‘a new name’ which is one of the best books I’ve read.
      And, ‘Anyway’? – Brilliant!

      I describe your blog to people as being “about suffering, but not gloomy and morose – it’s hopeful and strong and honest and positive”. I also tell them it’s my favourite.

      In terms of frequency of posts, I like you just the way you are!!

      Happy birthday, I am so glad this blog was born! xxx
      Alice recently posted…why we shouldn’t listen to Her voice (3)My Profile

      • Tanya 14th February, 2013 at 9:54 am #

        Thank you Alice – I felt so loved by this! To be honest, when I put the whole posts together in a big list, I was like “woah, I’m a bit chatty!” I’m glad it doesn’t feel like too much. :-) I loved hearing what your favourite posts are and how you describe my blog (kindred spirits, peut-être?) and I am dancing a little happy dance that my blog is your favourite. Thank you, sweet friend. Xx

    15. Sam Sadie 13th February, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

      Happy Blogoversary my friend! I love reading your blog posts, and have always felt that our lives have eerily mirrored each others
      Sam Sadie recently posted…Dr Cecile JadinMy Profile

      • Tanya 14th February, 2013 at 9:51 am #

        Thank you! I SO appreciate you taking the time to comment when you’re so busy with chicken pox craziness! I also really appreciate having someone whose situation is so similar – it’s nice to be walking through this together!

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