Monday, December 31, 2012

Retrospect...

In looking at my year of pictures, I'm reminded that 2012 was pretty amazing for me. I'm looking forward to a fresh start of new possibilities in 2013, and am hopeful, like always, that I will find much love, luck and peace in the new year to come. The photos below are in no particular order, but are some of my favorites and most memorable experiences of the past year. What does your year in review look like?

 

I found many ways to give back to the community this year by fundraising and volunteering. I met the artist, Rafael, after having helped paint the Addison street community mural he created.
 
I vowed to take advantage of what my city had to offer, and explored much more of it this year.  One of my favorites was "Dragon" by Cirque Shanghai at Navy Pier...

I made new friends this year, and strengthened existing bonds as well (and rocked a few concerts along the way)

Saw Ron Santo added to the Hall of Fame and enjoyed many a Cubs game this year with new and old friends alike.

I expanded my horizons and attended an educational photo seminar at Wolf Park. I enjoyed intertwining my love of animals and nature with my creative side. Additionally, I loved learning more about animal behavior at the Anti-Cruelty Society's seminars and enjoyed the Pet Expo as well!

I learned to enjoy the scenery along the way and have captured many a nature scene via my smart phone. (Thistle photo taken while participating in the Out of the Darkness Walk with friends)

I challenged myself, and then some, by participating in and completing the world's toughest challenge on the planet, the Tough Mudder.
 
I couldn't add just one photo of my trip to Wolf Park

I enjoyed yoga on the beach in both California and Chicago this year. I was happy to travel to the sunny state early in the year for work, and enjoyed yoga and running on the beach - can't wait to do it again!

I found I love volunteering at Lincoln Park Zoo and have met some really great people and made new friends. I've learned more then I ever thought possible about the zoo and it's inhabitants and am super excited to continue volunteering in 2013.

I completed 20 races this year and logged over 100 competitive miles breaking all personal records to date.

I enjoyed learning ASL and met some really cool chicks along the way!
 
The eldest bacheolor troop gorilla, Azizi (one of my favorite photos) taken at Lincoln Park Zoo.


My favorite theater! I enjoyed a few musicals and productions this year, including The Addams Family and War Horse with family, adopted family and friends!


I went gluten-free and am loving the health benefits! I have fallen madly in love with Rose's Wheat Free Bakery in Evanston and am so ecstatic that the business will be around for a long time despite some recent hardships! I've found numerous gluten free offerings in the city that are delish-ous and can't wait to keep exploring.

Bring on 2013 - a new year and new photos to come!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday

It's the last Sunday of the year and since tomorrow is Monday and the start of a fresh week, my new workout routine starts. Although January 1st brings on all the promise of a fresh year, I can't make any sense of starting something new on a Tuesday versus a Monday. I'm guessing lots of readers have similar new year resolutions (to workout/diet) and will start a new on the 1st, but I can't say working out is anything new for me, rather I'm just switching up what I do.

I've been struggling since my tailbone injury and a pinched nerve to find a challenging workout that won't aggravate my issues, (I dearly miss my Cross-Fit class) so back to the Body for Life program I go. It's a great routine and easy to follow. I just purchased the Body For Life Success Journal and downloaded some new tunes for my I-pod - this girl is ready to hit it, and hit it hard.

But with all that said above and talk of resolutions, I have decided to change things up a bit for 2013. Instead of focusing on things like, "get skinny" or "get rich", I'd rather focus on how I feel. Meaning, if I want to feel healthy, I ask myself what do I have to do to get there? How do I feel healthy? The answer is I feel healthiest when I'm working out, eating well, and practicing yoga. Additionally, I feel healthy and happy when I'm giving back and volunteering, and (hopefully) inspiring others. I feel healthy when I forgive others, and let all the bullshit of the day go and focus on friends and family (admittedly, sometimes easier said then done). Pretty easy right? This frame of mind and choice of "resolution" seems much more forgiving then torturing one's self with the scale, right?


As for that comment about getting rich - how does one feel rich with limited money? I've got a plan for that too - save money, give to others, and realize that not all riches are monetary, of course. Easy-peasy, right? It will be as easy as I want it to be. Resolutions after all, are really just a frame of mind. How do you plan to feel in the new year?

PS) This author is going to start feeling happy immediately by finally pulling a nail out of the living room wall that has been there since I moved in 5+ years ago. It's constantly made me think it was a bug on the wall when I catch a glimpse of it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Some pictures I snapped and Instagramed on my afternoon walk...






Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Death Day Party



I've heard that funerals are for the living and not the dead, and I tend to agree with it. Think about it, funerals help finalize the reality that our beloved is truly deceased, and allows for the grieving process to start (if it hasn't already). Additionally, funerals can serve as a reunion of friends and loved ones, and allow for good times to be remembered. But how does this help the deceased? I don't think it really does! But, that's a different blog post and my original intention is to blog about a related, but somewhat different topic which is, "If you could have anything at your funeral, what would it be?".

I can't take credit for that question, as I recently heard it as a subject of debate on a radio station. When posed, the audience responses included strippers to dance on top of their caskets, a full open bar and other un-memorable ideas. This got me thinking, what would I want at my funeral? Oddly enough, this question has stuck with me for a few weeks now, and I feel compelled to blog about it here, after all, I've put a lot of thought into it! I must admit though, even with two weeks of thinking, I still don't have all the answers to that question. 


First, I want to be cremated (this post really isn't meant to be morbid, stick with me). If life is supposed to be about living "outside the box", then I want to be dead "outside the box" too. I would want my ashes spread somewhere beautiful and peaceful, but I'm not quite sure where. As for the funeral itself, no viewing of the body - have me cremated before hand! I've always felt approaching the body (of anyone) at a funeral is the most stressful thing any one human can do. Therefore, let's avoid that at my death-day celebration. I mean, come on, if we celebrate birthdays, why not celebrate the end of life as a death day?

Ok, so if I'm cremated and there's nothing to view, how do I entertain my guests? I did mention that my visitors would be attending some type of charity event/walk and not a funeral home, right? While it may not continue forever, at least at the time of writing this blog, I'm actively involved in participating in charitable 5K walk/run events, and would want my guests to know how it feels to cross a finish line for a greater cause then themselves. Perhaps they'd create a team on my behalf, and raise donations for an animal cause (by now you know I love the cheetah, dogs, and everything at the Lincoln Park Zoo), so why not continue my love, in death, for those same things? (Hey, be thankful I didn't request you all to go zip-lining or something super adventurous!!!) Not a walker or runner? Then donate blood, volunteer your time, or do something you know I'd be proud of.


Of course no event is complete without swag, right? After enjoying your gourmet double chocolate, blueberry cheesecake, or red velvet finisher cupcake you've got to start digging through your goodie bag. Now this, I got covered! I'd give out beautiful sterling forks with a lavender ribbon tied around each one's handle. Why you ask? As a reminder to eat dessert first, challenge the norm, and enjoy the best things in life, which usually isn't work! Leave that damn desk behind!

What else would my swag bag include? A rose-bush suitable for planting outside. A vibrant pink perhaps to stand and serve as a reminder to stop and smell the roses. Yes, I DO actually do this! I stop often to admire nature's beauty, to smell the flowers, the rain, and the fresh air and don't think anyone can ever do this often enough. Life's best "stuff" is made up of the moments we don't plan for.

Lastly, my swag bag would probably include a copy of the Wizard Of Oz (where dreams really do come true) as well as a book of inspirational quotes. Be inspired by the brightness of Oz, and the simplicity of it's sentiments, and as for the quotes? Heaven knows some of the best ideas have already been written (and that I repeat them often) so why reinvent the wheel?

So, yeah...that's my death day party. Hopefully not too morbid of a post, right? How would you want your life honored? What would you want at your funeral?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fat


Chipotle = epic fail for dinner last night. In a rush, I caved to the convenience factor of the fast food chain (with gluten free options) and was thoroughly grossed out. I ordered steak tacos, and while they looked appealing, the steak seemed to consist solely of inedible gristle and fat. (A reminder as to why I've only frequented the restaurant chain once since it's local opening.) The upside? Since I hardly ate the taco filling, I'm guessing I saved quite a few calories! *Sigh*

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy

A friend posted this link on her Facebook page and I loved it so much I had to share. Happiness, to me, is not about your surroundings, or what you have (or don't have for that matter), it's seriously about making a mental choice and making the most of what you do have! I know life isn't always a bowl of cherries and we all get dealt a crappy hand from time to time, but how you deal with it depends on you, and you alone. Choose happy!!!

This post is not to spite or insult the medically/clinically depressed. Rather, my focus is the people out there (not in need of medical help) that just don't appreciate the important things in life and more so, don't know how to prioritize what it is in life that would make them happy. Trust me, more "stuff" is not the answer to happiness.


Think about it, what is it in life that truly makes you sustainably happy? Sure, you might get a happy feeling buying that new car, new outfit or new technological gadget, but how long does that "happy" last? What I'm talking about it sustainable happiness! I know for me, sustainable happiness comes from my friends and family and the times I share with them. Not only do the original encounters provide hours of happiness, but reliving them in memory, and recounting them at future gatherings bring back the original (or even better!) version of happiness that I felt. 


I also do my best to appreciate what it is that I have, as I know others are far less fortunate then I am. Of course I'm human and I want "stuff", but I also know my over all happiness doesn't come from it. I "make do" with the simple versions of things like a value packaged car, a basic smart phone (admitted former flip-phone user and lover) and even basic cable. The fact is, all of those things meet my basic needs. The car starts and stops and allows me to drive to fun new places and explore new adventures. My phone calls, texts, and allows me more time on Facebook then one human needs all while keeping me in touch with those I value. My lack of cable options (at times) force me to find other ways to entertain myself, whether it's reading, exercising or reconnecting with my friends. My point is, more isn't always better. Having (or not having) what I have today affords me plenty of opportunities to enjoy life and be happy if I just take the time to focus on the "haves" versus "have nots".  

Additionally, I have learned to find purpose in volunteering, and helping others. Purpose doesn't always come from having the highest job on the pay scale. I don't have my dream job (yet), but I won't hate what it is I do in the mean time, either. Instead, I do what I can to feel accomplished in the role at hand, and more so, focus on ways to add purpose to my life outside of work. I enjoy numerous hobbies and volunteering. And believe you, me, there is no greater reminder to be happy with what you have then volunteering and being charitable. Be thankful, grateful and happy for what you still have and can use, whether it's financial or physical.

And finally, if I've learned anything from the dogs I've worked with, it is to live in the moment. Act, re-act if need be, and move on. You don't see dogs worrying about the past or future, and they sure do forgive and forget far easier and faster then their human counterparts. All too often I find myself thinking of the past and dwelling on what I could have done differently or thinking fifteen steps too far into a future that never materializes the way I thought it would. If I could harness that energy and focus on the moments at hand, I'd be even happier then I am today!

In closing, no, I am not happy every second of every day. I have my bad days (just ask my friends). I have to work at being happy, and believe indeed that happy is a choice so why choose to be miserable? I refuse to stay focused on the negative things that happen because life is too stinkin' short to only attend the pity party (you know you've thrown one in your own honor at some time!). Come on, get out there and be happy - you've got far better invitations in life to enjoy!!!    

Monday, October 8, 2012

High Knees

I'm in the gym 5 days a week, and torture myself love pursuing the Cross-Fit class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It's always a different, and quite the challenging, workout but the warm up is usually the same. Warming up includes jogging in place, jumping jacks and high knees amongst other moves. While I don't mind high knees, the move has always left me wondering (quite like the lessons from my Alegebra class), when would I ever use this in real life? 

Today I found out! High knees aren't just for the gym these days, high knees are quite the evasive move needed to avoid the random garter snake attack! During my afternoon walk a garter snake came tumbling out of the lawn onto the sidewalk right in front if me. I mean literally, it was as if the snake was tossed at my feet! It didn't slither, it just "jumped" out at me! Without missing a beat (and suprisingly without a scream!) I "high-kneed" it like crazy to avoid the snake and ran! 

Crisis averted, all I could think was that this crazy snake made today's high-knees the fastest and highest they've ever been. Woo! Talk about adrenaline! My Cross-Fit instructor would have been proud! Despite the entertainment I'm sure I provided to anyone driving by, I'm happy I finally put to use my "high knees" practice. As for Alegebra, I'm still waiting on that one. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cheers


I woke up this morning to cheers and whistles of encouragement. Music blared and moved me out of my bed in an exuberant fashion. I was energized and amped to start my day. Of course, I realized quickly that the cowbells and kazoos were really singing their songs of encouragement for those brave folks running the Chicago Marathon just outside my window today. But for an instant, I thought, wouldn't it be nice to have cheerleaders like this to wake up to every day?

Strangers gather along the streets to cheer on the 45,000 competitive souls who chose to conquer the streets of Chicago all with a common goal, to FINISH. So why don't we have our own cheering squads in life? Of course we have friends and family that (hopefully) help encourage us to live and pursue our dreams, but what happens when those cheers go silent? Where is our group of professional cheerers? After all, ours and the marathoners goals are quite similar, aren't they? We all want to finish life, earn some medals of validation along the way, and have others to share our accomplishments with don't we?

Life is a long hard road, far longer then that of the 26.2 miles of a marathon and encouragement is needed often, and not just when things get tough. So I am sharing today's marathon lesson as a reminder for myself, and you readers as well, to cheer on, compliment and encourage those around us. Help lift others up on a daily basis, not just once in a while, and I guarantee you that the energy return rate is two fold. I am reminded of how often I've thought nice things about others, but failed to put those thoughts to words and kept them to myself instead of sharing them. What a difference I could have made in a person's day, or life over all, if I had just shared my positive and genuine thoughts such as, "Hey, you look nice!", "What a great job you did!", or even an, "I appreciate you!".

I know first hand what a difference cheers can make, whether it's during a race (my longest 7K distance race was finished with nothing left in my internal gas tank except determination and crowds of strangers screaming, "You can do this!", "GO!") or during a normal day. For most, like the marathon, life isn't a competition but rather it's about finishing and feeling a sense of accomplishment. So help someone finish their day, finish their race and finish their life, with a smile on their face. Take the time to share your positive thoughts with those around you. Be a professional cheerleader, not only for them, but for yourself too! What a difference a compliment can make to someone, so I encourage you to share away! Don't save the cheers for drinks and special occasions, make cheering an every day event! You can do this! Go!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Was Going To...

I was going to share all the great things I learned at an educational seminar last night, hosted by the Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago. I was going to tell you all the cool things that the speaker, Patricia McConnell Ph.D., shared to allow the audience insight to the mammalian mind and how or what animals might be thinking. I was going to ask you to define the word, "thinking" as a thought provoking topic, but... 

...something is preventing me from typing.

Monday, October 1, 2012

September Close Out

I had a pretty awesome weekend. I spent most of it outdoors enjoying the crisp Fall days, and beautiful sun. My weekend started off with a gluten-free dinner with my girlfriend and ended up filled with walking, poop and pizza (I'll explain the poop, I promise).

Saturday began with a 5 mile walk through a beautiful nature preserve in efforts to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The walk was leisurely, and filled with lots of stops for pictures. I have been away from art (drawing) far too long, but felt truly artistic (in some fashion at least) to be able to snap some of these pictures below. God and nature, after all, are the best artists.




Later that same night, I participated in the Rosehill Crypt 5K in Ravenswood. While the event itself was amazing (running through a candlelit cemetery built in 1864, at night with a full moon!) I have to say I was disappointed that I couldn't run it, but rather had to walk it. So many times I wanted to burst into a jog, but, for hopefully the greater good of my back (degenerative disc disease) and bruised tailbone (Tough Mudder fall), I walked. I can only liken this feeling to that of bringing a racehorse onto a track, and then not letting him/her run...ugh. It's ironic, I started my 5K's ten months ago and HAD to walk them because I wasn't in shape, and now, returning to that state (hurt, not out of shape) is so disappointing. I have to keep in mind however, and be grateful, that I'm still able to move and walk, and that's more then some people.


After a twelve mile Saturday (almost a half marathon!), I got to spend Sunday with my Zoo Crew. One of the easiest topics to share with guests is Endocrinology, also know as poop! As a volunteer with the zoo's education department, I talk to/teach guests about a variety of topics ranging from Poop, to Prey Adaptations, to Zoo Diets and Enrichment, but my favorite is comparative Human/Animal Anatomy. Despite ALL the fun topics I cover, it's always the "poop cart" that turns the most heads. Peoples' reactions range from total disgust and avoidance, to "OH, can I touch it?!" (It's fake rubber models, by the way). Kids and their parents can play a matching game where they match the poop to picture of the animal they think it came out of. This is paired my spiel about how valuable poop is to the zoo in efforts to maintain the health of their animals. Poop is used to monitor general health, pregnancy and stress hormones! Despite the gross sounding topic, this gig is pretty amazing and I love all the new people I've met and get to interact with!


After the zoo, a late lunch was enjoyed outdoors. I splurged on a gluten-free pizza, and enjoyed every last bite of it, along with the sunshine and cool breeze. I have to admit, up until now I didn't know how much the food I had been eating, despite being healthy for me, affected my body in a negative way. I have (knock on wood) so much more consistent energy throughout the ENTIRE day, and feel like a fog has lifted now that I am eating gluten-free. Trust me, gluten-free is definitely not the easiest diet to follow, nor do I consider it a fad (it's too damn expensive!). Rather, it truly has eliminated (another knock on wood here, please) my stomach issues, and makes me feel like a different person - in a good way! I am loving feeling like a human again, without extreme intestinal cramps (I'll spare you further details), constant muscle fatigue, and over all exhaustion.


My night ended with me relaxing in front of the TV and watching my favorite (next to "Drop Dead Diva") TV show's second season premiere - "Once Upon A Time". The writers are so inventive in their ability to overlap well known fairytale characters and their woes into a modern day world. If you haven't seen it, I suggest watching it!

In closing, I sure hope your weekend and close of September was as good, or better than mine! Happy October readers!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

2013

Is it wrong (or weird?) that I'm already making plans for 2013? Is anyone else thinking and planning this far ahead? I sure hope the world doesn't end in December, or I'll be pretty upset about missing some pretty cool stuff! What did the Mayans know that we don't? (Wait, don't answer that!)

Dogsledding trip in upper Wisconsin - all I can say is, MUSH!!! I am so excited, God willing, to cross this one off of my Bucket List without having to spare the expense of going all the way to Alaska! (But, umm - - - visiting Alaska is on my Bucket List as well - d'oh!)


Also, I just scored tickets to see P!nk in concert next March! I cannot wait to see what an amazing show and performance this lady creates!


So, yeah... It's things like this and a lot of small things in between that keep me looking forward to the future. I can't be the only optimist out here in Bloggerville, can I?

PS) Someone recently inquired about my constant reference to having a Bucket List, and mentioned that Bucket Lists are only for old people - really? Why wait to get old? Live now is my philosophy! Any other opinions on this? Are Bucket Lists only for the old and dying? Is there ever too young an age to have such a list?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Butthole?

You've seen them, you know who I'm talking about...those people who don't heed the "RIGHT LANE CLOSED AHEAD" signage that's plastered for miles and miles before it actually occurs. They insist on attempting to cut you off, no turn signal, and all but nudge you out of your lane, THE CORRECT LANE by the way, in efforts to get a car length or two ahead of you. Now, I don't know about you, but a turn signal goes a long way with this girl, so if you use one, I'll usually let you in, but if you try to muscle in without it - good luck. The problem is, why do you, the Butthole driver who is clearly inconsiderate of your traffic mates, insist on blowing your horn and flipping me the bird, when you're the dork in the clearly marked WRONG lane? I'm sorry, I don't believe in the "No car left behind" program. As far as I'm concerned, you can sit on the side of the road until you learn the kindergarten rule, "NO CUTTING IN LINE". So as my mother would say, "Stick that horn!". (Thanks Mom.)

Butthole move number two? I tell you the truth. It doesn't even matter the subject, but if it's personal, and the truth, and you just happen not to like it, you get mad at me. Why? I understand people's versions of the truth can be subjective, but if you happen to agree with me, and you know what I speak is true, why do you get mad at me? Dork. Ever heard of, "Don't shoot the messenger?". Live it, learn it, love it.

You all might not know this Buttholer move, but what about the Hinter? Let me explain. The Hinter is that person who hints about things, places they want to go or even how they FEEL but they never ask, follow through or discuss what's on their mind. I may or may not indulge the hinting, but if I don't, don't get pissed at me for not spoiling you and humoring you like your parents obviously did. I assume that if you aren't brave enough to ask for what you want, then you don't want it (whatever IT is) all that badly. I was taught at a young age to ask for what you want, and while you might not get the answer you want, you still at least have an answer. As for your feelings, if you choose not to discuss them with me given all the current technological opportunities (text, e-mail, instant messenger, phone, fax, etc) then sit on it. Yep, I said it. Sit on it. And don't think that bringing up your issues 6 months after the fact will be appreciated either. I can't do anything about it 6 months after the fact and more so, I shouldn't be considered the Butthole when I wasn't given the opportunity to adjust my behavior that offended you in the first place.

Additionally, if you're one of those "Open Ended" Buttholes, I don't like you either. You're similar to the Hinter Butthole above, but you basically trick your counterpart into inviting you to do something like brunch, dinner, or a movie because you drone on about how lonely you are. But once the invite is cast, you pretend that you're too busy to partake in the suggested activities! You know, you've heard it, the Open Ended Rear End says something like, "Oh, we should hang out for dinner some time", and when it's followed up with multiple invites with specific dates, the Butthole's response is, "Oh, let me check and get back to you". And they NEVER get back to you! Don't waste my time and efforts in planning something if you're going to just leave me hanging. And, even better, don't consider ME the Butthole when I never, ever invite you to ANYTHING ever again.

So there you have it, various ways on how to be a Butthole. You can choose to give Buttholes the benefit of the doubt in any given situation, and of course there are always exceptions to the rule, but most of all, just don't be a Butthole. Everyone already has one, no one needs an extra.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Change

Nothing is constant but change, right? Since I want to get back to my blogging without having to re-invent the proverbial blog wheel, I decided to update and change the intent of this blog versus starting over. Isn't recycling great? Basically, I've changed the name of my blog, and opened up the time frame so it's non specific. With that said, let the blogging begin!

To update you about some of my 12 x 12 original intentions, I am happy to report that I've been maintaining my "one event per month" (or more) commitment, have gotten myself back into a size 12 pant/dress, and speaking of dresses, have worn one twice to work so far (hey, don't judge - baby steps!). I've been maintaining my chiropractic care on a regular basis, and have tried some new adventures and places (although I'm not sure if my adventure seeking has hit a total of 12 new places yet!).

Most of my time these days is sadly spent at work. With that said however, life isn't all work and no play. I still consider my part time dog training the "fun" job, and wouldn't call volunteering with the Lincoln Park Zoo "work" at all. I have to admit, I've become addicted to my Zoo Crew and the inside scoops I attain every Sunday about the "goings on" at the LP Zoo. And, I am proud to say, that volunteering was one of my original 12 x 12 intentions! I think (while it's not necessarily in different capacities) I've got the "volunteer 12 times" thing in the bag for this year, and have even made plans to continue on next year. Of course, I'm hoping to change my role from Education, to Farm in the Zoo next year, which will give me hands on experience with the zoo's farmyard animals!


Other changes? Too many to list, and probably some I've forgotten about but... I've very recently gone gluten-free. While I can't say it is the answer to my "stomach" problems, I can definitely say I have a LOT more focus and energy when eating this way, and I love it. I've had some great foods so far, but one of my favorites has been berry filled, buckwheat waffles with peanut butter - yum! (Thank goodness one of my favorite drinks, Woodchuck and Magners Cider has ALWAYS been gluten-free - YAY!)

In addition to diet changes, I've had to consider changing my exercise routine, which would mean excluding running from my regime. I love to run, and have so many goals I want to obtain with it, but am not sure if it is good for my back due to degenerative disc disease. So, while my tailbone heals from a big fall at the Tough Mudder event (see, told you I was keeping up with my monthly events!) I have time to think, and seek other opinions as to whether or not I should keep running. (Insert your thoughts here, please.)
 

I'll wrap this up here, as I think this is enough blogging for the moment. I mean, I wouldn't want to burn myself out the same day I come back to it, right? Looking forward to sharing more, as life unveils itself. Hope you continue to read and follow along the way.

- "Each of us has the opportunity to change and grow until our very last breath. Happy creating." - M.F. Ryan

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dress 1 of 12


I challenged myself to wear a skirt/dress 12 times this year as wearing them is totally out of my comfort zone! This is dress event #1 of 12.
Not a great picture, but not bad for my first run!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tri Like A Girl

Today I completed my first sprint distance triathlon and while I am happy to have achieved this goal, I am reminded that good friends make the difference when pursuing life's journeys! That said, here are some triathlon observations and lessons for next time.

If you are going to maneuver a tandem kayak, practice with your partner (more then once) before the actual event.

If your partner insists on paddling like a doofus the day of said event, sit back and just steer. It's pretty much all you can do anyway.

While I appreciated the breeze during the 95* weather, it really didn't have to blow AGAINST me as I was trying to ride up the last HILL to get to the finish line.

When other bikers on the pathway (on their return trip) pass you and say, "You're almost there!" - they're lying! Complete lies, all of it! Just figure you still have a million more miles to go, and then you won't be disappointed. (Longest 4.5 mile ride ever to get to the turn around point!)

Medals and event t-shirts are addictive!

Thank you to the gentleman cutting the field/savanna grass along the bike path with your industrial tractor size mower. I enjoyed having dust, debris and grass clippings strewn about my face, body, and bike. I felt like "one" with nature - bring it on!

You can't pedal worth a damn on a sandy trail.

If you "hydrate, hydrate, hydrate" you WILL have to "pee, pee, pee".

Starting a triathlon is pretty cool, but finishing a triathlon is even better! Finish lines are a beautiful thing!



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Circus!

I can't help it. I love this. It's annoying.
I don't know why I even find it funny, but I do!

Monday, June 11, 2012

T2

T is for Tired.

I'm tired, and seem to always be tired. Ok, well just tired as of the last week or so, despite eating relatively well and taking vitamins. I exercise and get...well, some sleep. But I really am tired of fighting the Tired Monster who seems to have taken up resident in my body. Some people tell me to slow down, and don't be so active - but I don't feel like I'm that active. Or am I? And I just don't realize it anymore?
 
T is also for Thankful.

I was bored in a meeting today and was near falling asleep when I decided to pull out my pen and paper in efforts to keep my brain occupied, and well, let's face it, AWAKE. Now typically I would doodle in my notebook, but I've realized that the people sitting around me can quite clearly and easily see big happy faces, horses, or whatever silliness finds my paper so I decided to (hopefully) make it look like I was taking notes by writing down things I am thankful for. NO - I am not the eternal optimistic (ok, well maybe I am) but I just highly believe that thoughts become actions and there's no sense in dwelling on the negative. Instead of counting my woes, I do my best to count my blessings. My list included the items below, which don't necessarily have to make sense to you:

Cubs baseball games
Free workouts in the gym
Amy
Melissa
Debbie
Barney
Commissions
A healing foot - low to no foot pain!
Mural
Santana
Madagascar
Quietness
Compliments

Sunday, June 3, 2012

May?

I started this draft the 15th of May, and am just now returning to finish it or, really, start it I guess. I don't have a set topic versus a lot of randomness, so here goes.

It's June, not May... My right foot is really buggin' me, I've self diagnosed the dorsal pain as tendinitis but will be following up with a professional as soon as I can. In the mean time, it pretty much stinks and prevents me from running... I RAN (ok, jogged) non-stop, my first 5K last month to promote the Cancer Wellness Centers of America. It was an amazing mental victory for me and I loved it. Up until now, I've been jog/walking my 5Ks... Chili Lime and Jalapeno Pop Chips are NOT good, BBQ really is the only way to go... Today (against better foot judgement) I walked a 5K for the Lincoln Park Zoo with friends and again, loved it. This was our 4th annual "United Run For the Zoo" walk and the weather was beautiful. We rode our bikes to the zoo, and then commenced the walk. Great day to be outside, period... Liquid, drinkable yogurt is just not my thing - gross... I have completed all educational training for the zoo and will be officially volunteering for the first time next week, I can't wait! I have learned so much about the zoo and it's conservation efforts and am excited to be a part of something so amazing...  As of this morning, I am/was down a total of 41 pounds for the year. I am so excited to be getting healthy and active again... Yesterday I had a great day at Grant Park and participated in the SELF Workout and got to workout and meet, "The Biggest Loser" trainer, Dolvett Quince... I love my friends and am thankful for them (I just had to mention that, as I appreciate their support in all my endeavors!)... I enjoyed the BEST flat bread Margherita pizza ever on Navy Pier at The City Porch - wow is all I can say, most flavorful food item I've had in a long time... I've been working on achieving 10,000 steps per day, and more often then not, I hit and exceed that goal. I've even had 20K+ days and love it... I'm excited that it's only June and feel like I've already taken advantage of the great weather, knowing there's still 2+ months of great, great weather to come... I really LOVED the movie Men In Black 3, but have to admit I had to see it twice since I fell asleep in the theater the first time... I am not enjoying my ASL class at the moment due to a sweet, but ineffective teacher. I am really struggling to stick out the last 3 sessions in efforts to move on to the next level class.  I am hoping that the next teacher will be more interactive, and most importantly not late to every class... So I mentioned it's June and I am still pop/soda free! But have to admit, I still want it EVERY day! Does anyone struggle with this? When does it get better? The one great thing about no pop is that since I feel that certain foods (think McDonald's Quarter Pounder and fries) just CAN'T be enjoyed without a Coke makes me eliminate them all together. Just can't fathom a greasy burger, fries and a water, gross... I am STOKED that the season premier of Drop Dead Diva is airing tonight, in just under an hour! I don't follow much TV, but Sunday seems to be my "guilty pleasure hour". While DDD has been on hiatus, I found myself in love with the new program, "Once Upon a Time" and can't wait for the next season!  You should check it out, both of them... My first triathlon is in 17 days, REALLY hoping my foot is better by then... I think I'm out of things to type here except, some people find it odd that I love the Blues (music) but hate Jazz - I don't really think it's that hard to understand?  Do you?

Monday, April 16, 2012

A - ?

I've been away from my blogging far too long, and haven't even managed to participate in April's A-Z blogging challenge which makes me very sad! Instead of trying to catch you all up with what's been going on in my life, maybe some of the A-Z's below will help. While these should have been individual posts for each letter, I'm condensing for your reading pleasure! The plan is, that there is no plan and I'll blog about what ever pops into my head for each particular letter.

A is for ASL

I've completed my 3rd class of ASL and am looking forward to starting my 4th tomorrow! I'm slowly learning about the deaf culture, and improving my signing (of course, some could argue I don't make much sense when I'm tired!) and best of all, I'm meeting wonderful friends and people along the way!

People ask me what made me decide to learn ASL (American Sign Language) and the fact is, it seems that it has always been in my life in some manner, acting almost like a nagging little voice in the back of my head reminding me over the years, "You should take me, learn me!".
I've been surrounded by deaf people growing up, whether they were relatives or neighbors and always find myself more fascinated at theater outings by the interpreter then the actual performance. However, the final "nudge" to take action came last year when I could not communicate with a deaf customer. While I tried, I felt awkward and ultimately pissed off that I couldn't communicate clearly what I wanted to say. With that said, I was signed up at the Center on Deafness a few weeks later for my first class. Now, with some education under my belt, Diana is becoming more of a friend then a customer, and with a little more knowledge (on my end) I think dog training lessons in ASL are in the near future!!!
   
B is for Bike, Bibfolio and Bowling

I actually got out on my bike BEFORE July this year! March held some unusually good weather, so I actually took the first day of Spring off from work (March 20th) and went bike riding along the lake with a new friend (now boyfriend - hey, that's a "B" word too!). The day was amazing, filled with lots of riding, lunch at Navy Pier, and a sunburn to boot. It was amazing, and reminded me of how much I miss riding and need to get rolling!

I ordered my first bibfolio ever and am stoked! Now, I have one scrapbook-like album to house all of my race bibs in! Woo-who!!!

Bowling - when done with the bestest of friends, is awesome - no matter how many computer glitches and technical difficulties occur with the automated scoring system!


C is for Cat
I still proclaim I have the world's craziest cat. His latest and greatest antics include "barf and run" incidences, wherein he (unknowingly) eats straws from the broom and then turns around and barfs. Of course, he doesn't stay stationary while projectile vomiting. He is a "barf and runner"! He barfs, then proceeds to run to a new spot and then barf some more. This makes for great clean up fun for me all while he sits and watches as if nothing happened. I swear he smiles when I'm cleaning.

D is for Dogs and Del
I love training them!!! Also, I get to visit mine (who is currently living with my sister) in a week. Can't wait to see my baby girl, who, is not such a baby any more. She's actually going on 10 years old!

I went to San Diego for work, and while I didn't really get to leave the hotel grounds of the Hotel Del Coronado (after all, it was a WORK trip), I did manage to get up early every morning and spend some time on the beach jogging and participating in yoga. I also got to listen to, and meet Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A's. Billy was very personable and an inspiring speaker. I am glad I had the opportunity to listen to him speak, and get his autograph on the now critically acclaimed novel, "Money Ball".

E is for Excited!
I have so many great plans in the works for this year!!! Races, events, trips, projects and volunteering - I can't wait to tackle them all! I have a triathlon coming up in a few months, two mud events this year, and a return trip to California and the dude ranch! Additionally, I'll be volunteering with the local zoo this year, and even participating in a street mural painting!

F is for Forgot

I forgot to include this letter originally!

G is for Good

I say it all the time, but life really is good. Of course my life isn't perfect 24 x 7, and heaven knows I have my ups and downs, but I just don't focus on them! I focus on my friends and family, and of course, all the events and stuff above that I'm excited about. I try my best to not look back and just focus on moving forward. I've made one of my mantras for this year, "THE BEST IS YET TO COME!" and ya know what, it's coming!

H is for Harley and Hercules

Damn it, I WILL be signed up for riding lessons in June this year! There have been some technical difficulties with my ability to sign up - 1) the website doesn't take gift cards, 2) the place I want to ride is moving - GAH!!! but neither will stop me damn it! Due to my schedule, as insane as it is, I'll be officially signed up by May for lessons.

Shorty and Hercules, Shorty Rossi's #1 dog, are on tour this year and I will be meeting them both in July - so stoked! If those names look familiar but you can't quite place them, check out Pit Boss on Animal Planet.


I is for Idiots
I get to witness quite a few of them in action more often then I'd like to, but the take away is, patience and gratitude. Patience that all people are not created (educated, or raised) equally, and gratitude that I have more common sense then they do! 

J is for Jogging
I completed my first 7K in March (versus my favored 5Ks), and have to admit, it was addictive! When I crossed the finish line, I just wanted to cry. The oddest thing is, I couldn't tell you why, other then it was just a big release and sense of accomplishment. But the best thing was, that since starting my "one per month" events this year, I have gradually reduced my time per mile. I've been able to shave 4 minutes off of my mile in 3 months.

K is for Ketchup and Kilometer

Ketchup is my favorite condiment, but how the hell did it ever, at one time, get called CATSUP?

I'm addicted to 5K's, 7K's and think I might even be insane enough to try a marathon. We'll see about that one, though!

L is for Left Handed

I write left handed, eat left handed, but bowl and throw things right handed. I can't use left handed scissors to save my life, and actually cut things (with scissors) with my right hand. I play tennis with both hands interchangeably to avoid a backhand swing, bat right handed and kick right legged (does that count?).

M is for Mantras and Margaritas

I've never really focused on a mantra until now, and I'm realizing it totally helps!!! My favorite this year has been, "The best is yet to come!" I'm reminded frequently through quotes, that thoughts become words and that words become actions so I better make sure I'm thinking with a positive mind!!! What's your positive, feel good mantra? (Make it a good one!)

Margaritas are best when shared with friends and loved ones, especially really, really big margaritas!

N is for Never

Never give up! Even when you're this far behind in a blogging challenge, just do what you can and move forward! : )
 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Goals and Goods

Here's an update on my 12x12 in 12 goals. I haven't touched on all 12 original goals just yet (hence the odd numbering), but I'm improving!

1) Schedule and attend a minimum of 12 monthly chiropractic visits.OK, so it's only February, but I've been to the chiropractor a number of times already in January (sadly) and made and attended another appointment this past Wednesday - yay me!



2) Volunteer 12 times (in any capacity) throughout the year.
I just got set up for a volunteer orientation at Lincoln Park Zoo and will be attending it in March. For the month of February however, I'm super duper excited to be volunteering with one of, if not my favorite cause, The Cheetah Conservation Fund! Africa here I come!!! (Well, some day!)

4) Face and conquer 12 fears (at least!).
I am signed up for a triathlon! My check has cleared and I am "in"! The triathlon isn't until June, but this is definitely a scary thing for me. As this particular triathlon replaces swimming with kayaking, I am looking into taking some basic lessons as I don't want to flip the dang thing over on event day! Also, I sent in an application to become a AKC (American Kennel Club) CGC (Canine Good Citizen) test evaluator AND I will be testing for my CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed) certification this Fall. I have a lot of prepping and studying to do before hand!

5) Attend or go to 12 new places.
I'm contemplating going to an oyster bar restaurant, but find it very scary (OK, maybe more gross then scary?). Anyone out there actually like oysters?


6) Participate in 12 events (one per month) throughout the year such as a 5K, charity walk, etc. January I did the New Year's Day 5K, and I JUST finished the North Shore Love Run this weekend! I'm super excited that they cut this run down from a 4 miler, to a 3.1, but have to admit the wind and the cold were painful for both events! Brrrrr!!!


8) In efforts to make more friends, meet and talk to 12 new people!
I've officially be-friended more students from my ASL  (American Sign Language) class and met some really cool girls through my Meetup group! I'm excited about the opportunities ahead to hang out, but know forging lasting friendships will take time.

9) Learn some new things, by taking 12 new classes/seminars!
I took a painting class/session and a hand building pottery class and they were both awesome! At first, I was intimidated by both, but I love my painting and found it to be very relaxing. I wasn't quite sure what the pottery class would bring, and expected something that looked like a 3rd grader made it, but fingers crossed that I will like my finished product!

12) Get back down to a size 12 (or less) this year!Well, I am happy to report that I am down about 14 pounds so far! I keep telling myself, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!" (Or, in my case, just keep going to Boot Camp!)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pottery

This weekend I attended a hand building pottery class with some new girls, and hopefully future friends! We had our choice of working with coils, or slabs of clay and a pretty wide range of vessels we could create. I decided to create a bowl, with coils. Below is the progression of my bowl.

First step, choose a mold and wrap it in plastic. (That was pretty easy!)



Second step, create the first layer of your bowl while remembering that this will be the inside of your bowl. I have to admit, it was a bit challenging to work not only upside down, but from the inside out!



After my first layer was completed, I started working on my second layer of coils. This will now be the outside/bottom of my basket.



Here, layer two is complete and I LOVE my bowl.



That was, until I had to rivet it together in order for the two layers to "stick". I really think the rivets take away from the fluidity of the coils and I am only hoping that a dark glaze will help hide some of the "dents". In this last picture, you can see I added a foot for the bowl to rest on as well. I figure, if I don't like the final product (as it now reminds me of a bicycle chain! Eww!), I might just take the class again and compress (flatten) the two layers to get them to stick together!



I won't get to glaze and fire the piece for another few weeks, but I'll be sure to post the final product then! Fingers crossed that I can live with the rivets!

Monday, February 6, 2012

It

Note to readers: I started this post in the midst of dealing with the changes written within, but now that I've got some hindsight and distance from the initial shock, I think I'm gonna love where I'm headed with the company! At this point, I thought about deleting this post, but decided to share it anyway.

While I'm trying to follow the positivity from my last post, I have to admit a current change up in my job is making it difficult to do so. What's going on you ask? (Even if you didn't, I'm gonna blog about it anyway.)

Recently the company I work for full-time conducted a round of lay-offs. While I am fortunate to be able to keep working, my role is indeed changing. I am going from a Supervisor role with a staff of three, to a slightly unknown entity. While I've been assured that this is not a demotion in any way, shape or form (and if I play my cards right, it may actually be a promotion!) I am having a very hard time with the idea that, I will now be reporting to a Supervisor who used to be my peer.

I'm in total control (as much as one person can be) of writing up the new job description for myself, giving myself a title (Rockstar Extraordinaire?) and pushing for a pay increase if I can prove the new work load warrants it (which I honestly think it will!). Of course, everything has to have upper management's approval, but I figure I'll shoot for the moon and even if I fail, I'll land amongst the stars, right?


So with all the "positives" mentioned above about the changes in my "career", you'd think I'd be able to focus on them, right? But instead, I'm stuck looking at what I consider a negative. The fact that I am reporting to someone who used to be my equal is just baffling to me and totally contradicts (in my mind, at least) that this is a possible promotion.

This change in leadership was not performance based, but rather due to downsizing and eliminating duplicity of Supervisor roles. While I am okay with not having staff members reporting to me (although, I do miss them already!), I am having trouble with the idea that my new manger hasn't met some of It's key goals over the past year, yet I did. The new manager admittedly knows very little about the business, but I do (and I have to train It's staff on my skill set!). Ultimately, I feel like I am setting the new manager up for success by training It's team, and telling It how to do It's job where my knowledge base is required, and that I'll be forgotten about once my knowledge is transferred.

Of course, the optimist in me tells me that this is my time to shine, create my own role, and hey, I might actually achieve some rewards and recognition along the way as this manager is more in tune with rewarding It's staff. But still, I'm human, and have to admit, I'm a little bitter about It. Here's to hoping I can set this all aside and "play ball" with the big dogs. Woof.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Life is Good


Life is good, and here's why...

Recently I updated my Facebook status with the saying, "Life is Good." and someone asked me a few days later, "What's so great that's going on in your life?". I had to stop and think about it for a moment, but quickly realized (being the eternal optimistic that I am, or at least try to be) there wasn't one big thing going on that makes my life great, rather lots of little things. Being of the mindset that life is indeed what you make it, I believe if you decide you're going to be in a bad mood and have a shitty day, that's on you. There are ways to make the most out of your day, whether you choose to do so or not, but don't blame "life" and the general universe as to why your life sucks (if it does). Rather, change your mindset and mantra.

Too often I hear people bitch and complain about everything that sucks (and I am one of them at times, I admit!) but the difference between me and them is, I don't stay in that place. I make the conscience decision to try to do better, and to make my day better. There are so many things I can't control, but I can control me, my thoughts, my words and my actions. I am still clinging to the new year's hopefulness that only the clean slate of a fresh year brings, and remain excited about everything the new year has to offer me. New friendships, new events, new  adventures and of course, new lessons to learn.

Here are some of the small "things" that help make my life good right now. Some are achievements, some are upcoming plans, but all of them help keep me hopeful that the best is yet to come!

I have officially gone 23 days without any type of soda/pop beverage...

I just mailed my registration form to participate in a Mini-Triathlon!

I survived my first two weeks of Boot Camp (and keep going back for more)!

I'm super excited that I am rallying a team of great women together for the 2012 Dirty Girl Mud Run. We will officially be team, "Mud Puppies"!

I started my third session of ASL (American Sign Language) classes and despite being "voice off" I can actually follow the instructor's signing (for the most part).

I donated blood the other day, and despite not having a blood pressure, I'm still alive. (The technician couldn't find/read my blood pressure!!!).

I have great friends that encourage me to pursue my dreams.

I just mailed my application to be a Canine Good Citizen evaluator/judge!

Most of all, I'm just happy to wake up each morning, pain free (coming from someone with frequent headaches this is AWESOME!), and thankful to God for the air in my lungs and for all the wonderful things I can do and have to look forward to!