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What a crazy year

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A few weeks ago, nobody was more surprised than I to see construction start on two vacant lots in my neighborhood. I can remember a couple years back when sightings of construction crews working were an everyday thing. But that all came to a screeching halt and now it seems like ages since the familiar groan of a bulldozer has been heard in these parts.

For a moment, I thought that these new constructions were a good sign of economic movement and maybe a hint that things are turning the corner. But all too soon my thoughts changed. Driving on past those two new homes I rounded the curve and saw a U-Haul backed up in the drive of a neighbor”s house. Didn”t think much about it. Maybe garage clean out time? The next weekend the U-Haul truck was back again and my hopeful thoughts collided with reality.

Soon the house was empty and the short sale sign was in the yard. I pass by this house everyday. Well-groomed yard. Polite family. By all appearances, things were going well. But like so many other families in our country, behind the picket fence lives a lot of stress.

I felt a little sick thinking about what they must have been going through this last year. You don”t go from easy street to short sale overnight. The level of stress they”ve been under must have been immense. Still waving and smiling everyday as I passed by. Their American Dream had definitely taken a surprising turn.

On one single street I can turn one way and see signs of improvement and hope for our economy – then turn the other way and see the painful reality of our economy and the impact it has on many citizens regardless of their income level or social status. Such is life.

I”m hopeful things will rebound and we”ve certainly seen some promising economic news in pockets around our community. If any good comes out of it all, maybe our new frame of reference will spawn more compassion, more appreciation and more conservative financial management for us all.

I am thankful this year is wrapping up. Not because it has been so tough – and it has. But more so because I”m feeling pretty fortunate to have survived and even managed to see growth at our company. Maybe we can all regroup our thoughts, reinvest our energies and creative spirit and make 2011 the best year in a long time.

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