Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Froggie - v. 36

What a day! I mean, I didn't party like a the rock star that I obviously am, or get all wild and crazy. Aside from the fact that it was my birthday it was pretty much your typical day and oddly enough I found myself basking in a calm this evening as I walked around one of my favorite places in the city with only one person keeping me company, myself.

So what made it so special? There are a few simple answers to that question.

First and foremost, the many texts, emails and facebook messages I received. It was so nice to hear from people I rarely talk to and get the opportunity to catch-up with them.

Also, as I stated in my post yesterday, so much has changed for me in twelve months. No, things in my life aren't exactly where I wish for them to be, but I recognize all that I do have in my life and all that I have achieved this year. I've worked really hard to get to where I am, and have a lot to show for it. This past year I have truly learned what it means to create opportunities vs. waiting for them to come to you. All this only motivates me to work just as hard, if not harder, this coming year.

During the past several weeks I've thought a lot about this next year, what I want to accomplish and the things I want to experience. Just like last year, there is a list of goals in mind. Unlike last year, it's not a map guiding me. Instead, I am leading the way.

There are some exciting things coming down the pipeline... Somewhere around the Fall I will be writing a tribute piece on my favorite author to be featured on a well-known ChickLit blog. Additionally, my BFF and I will be collaborating on a project that is currently in the development stage. I have a lot of personal goals. Goals that are so personal that not even my closest of friends know about them. It's all part of my on-going effort to be a better me - something I have always worked towards. There are professional decisions that have been made. I'm going to stop swimming up stream... or in other words it's time to take a new path when it comes to my career. I haven't been fulfilled professionally for a long time and staying on this road just weighs me down more than it lifts me up. It's time to take the road less traveled and see what that has in store for me.

It's also time for me to run away for a bit. I'm not sure when, but I do know where I want to go. It is my intention to take the dream trip I've been talking about forever and a day this year.

This year, I'm done waiting.

I have many, many more thoughts on all this, however this frog is tired so it is time for me to say good night!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Froggie - v. 35.12

It all started because of Facebook.

I had received a notification from them on November 29, 2008 that it was my birthday and they hoped it was a great one (or something to that effect). I found this to be interesting considering up until that point I had always celebrated my birthday on November 30th. "Were my parents lying to me this whole time about when my birthday was?" I wondered.

As a result, that evening I posted this entry on my blog. It was a short post where I rambled on about how I could have missed my birthday. In 2009, the pre-birthday post evolved a bit more. I had a bit more depth to the entry, but still keeping it fluffy. When I look back at this post what stands out most to me is a statement I made about material gifts vs. intangibles gifts. I wondered if I was heading in a direction where the intangibles would be more of a gift to me than a tangible gift.

Last year, any and all birthday talk on my blog fell off the radar all together. Aside from the "awesomeness" that was October that year, I was about two weeks post-breakup and had just had a craptastic job interview. (Ok, so the job interview wasn't the main things that got me, but it just felt like the icing on a cake that had been in the oven for a really long time.) The long and the short of all this was, I was not in the mood to talk birthday - so I didn't.

This year, however, I am resurrecting my traditional birthday blogging and putting a new spin on it....

About a month ago I was having dinner at a friend's house and talking about the fun I had playing with yarn at a local yarn dying studio. That's when she said, "You realized, don't you, you've done a lot this year and had some pretty cool and unique experiences?" She must be a mind reader because I had been thinking about all this on my way to her place. "Oh yeah, totally!" I replied.

On my way home that evening I started to quantity everything I had done over the past year and felt it was important to write it all down somewhere so I could have record of it all. It was this dinner conversation that made helped me decide the format this year's pre-birthday post would adapt. I wanted to see for myself what I accomplished, and the awesome experiences/happenings that have taken place over the past twelve months.

The list below is the result...

2010

December

During this month, I took my first steps at exploring whether or not Plan B was something I wanted to legitimately consider. After attending an open house, I was sure that this was something I wanted to dig deeper into.

2011

January

Before I go on with stuff that happened to me during this month, I have to mention that TCU won the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day 2011. I was uber thrilled!!!

The beginning of the year was kind of slow which in some ways was a good thing. Five weeks before it was suppose to take place, I decided to take the LSAT. Up to that point I hadn't prepped for it - AT ALL, but I jumped right in head-first anyhow. Getting ready for the test was a lot more work then I had anticipated.

I also began to spend time at a photography studio learning about the business. Unfortunately, there were other things going on in my life that needed more attention and as result the amount of time I could spend at the studio was limited.

I went ice skating for the first time since I was a kid. It was a blast!!!

The last weekend of January I slipped and fell on ice while walking to my car. I hurt my wrist and lower arm. What I remember most about this incident, aside from the pain, is that after it happened I only took a brief moment to go "oh crap" and then kept on going. I didn't let it stop me from doing what needed to get done.

Oh, and how can I forget going sledding? I got an AWESOME shot of Simba "taking the bump." It was a blast and a good time was had by all.

(Ok, so maybe January wasn't as slow as I thought.)

February

Snowmaggedan and my car getting complete buried in a snow drift are the first things that come to mind when I think of February 2011. I only mention this because I actually enjoyed walking my neighborhood that day. I had my camera with me and got some really great shots.

Once the LSAT was over it was time to focus on school applications. Fun was had by all!

Oh, yeah... there was the trip to the ER this month as well because I cut my toe and it wouldn't stop bleeding. Thankfully it wasn't serious and I ended up not having to see a doctor after all.

March

One of the first thing that happened in March was that I made a new friend. While visiting NIU, I was introduced to Bostonian's best law school friend. Alex and I got along immediately and I we became good friends as well.

However, that is not the main reason I remember the month of March. The main reason I will always remember this past March has to do with the second personal statement I wrote. I'm still very proud of what I wrote, and even if I don't get into law school I will always have that statement to call mine.

And who can forget the iPhone acquisition that was made this month. I find it H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S that this is a notable event. I don't know what I did before I had this phone.

Ok, one other really notable things that happen this month... The Thursday blogging group was resurrected. I was a little nervous at first because of what happened last year with it, but I'm happy to say we're going strong 8 months later.


April

Hmmm . . . I think life settled down a bit in April. I did a lot of .... w-a-i-t-i-n-g .... I mean A LOT..... of..... w-a-i-t-i-n-g... during the month of April.

I also decided to take another shot at the LSAT this month... all that w-a-i---t-i-n-g must have made me really bored and in search of a way to fill the time...

While I was doing all this w-a-i-t-i-n-g, I met my friend Ashley. (More on that in a bit.)


May

I did some wai-ting in May as well, but it didn't seem like it was as much as April.

I did get to see M this month which was extremely exciting since it had been over six months since she moved away.

During this visit I had a project inspiration which I have since asked BFF to work on with me. She was all for it. I really haven't talked about this project with many because it's still in the development stages.

June

Back to Ashley.... Commuting back and forth via the train is not the most thrilling thing in the world. I mean, it is what it is. So it's rare to randomly meet someone that you get along with so well. I was fortunate enough to make a friend on the train. It made all the difference with my commute - and I got a good friend out of it as well.

After the June LSAT I started training for my first 5k run. This is definitely on the "best things I did this year" list.

July

The most notable thing that happened in July is that I was given the opportunity to be a Project Manager for a new volunteer project I was asked to join. The cause fit my interests and passions perfectly so the fact that I was being given opportunity to really learn to manage people was a huge bonus for me.

Also, I recruited S to the project because I needed a rock star Marketing Manager and I knew she would fit the bill perfectly. Additionally, S and I have worked professionally in the past and we collaborate very well together.

This was also the month S signed on for project 5k race. The person I was going to originally do this with stepped-back due to health issues. It was nice to have someone to go through the training process with -especially since we were both newbies to running races.

I also started to consider roller derby, but didn't do anything with it until August.

August

One thing I haven't mentioned specifically, but alluded to a bit, is that I spent a lot of time in the city this year. (Thus the whole commuting on the train.) I had so much fun that I was taking the train down on the weekends as well.

Stepping out of my comfort zone a bit, I experienced an observant Shabbos. It was an interesting experience and helped me confirm a lot of things in terms of my what I'm comfortable with from a religious observance perspective.

In August I reconnected with someone who I . . . . . well. . . . . I'll just say someone I really care about. Someone I wish I could have a second chance with. It was really nice to see them again...

The biggest thing that happened this month was that someone close to me had a health scare. It really had a huge impact on me. It was the first time I really recognized that my friends and I aren't invincible superheros. I mean, don't get me wrong, I knew that are mere mortals and not invincible superheros, but a part of me just assumes we're all going to grow old together and that there is no other option. It was the first time someone in my inner circle had had a scare like this. It was the first time in over 20 years that the potential to lose a family member existed.

September

Life got interesting at the end of August and by September I was starting a short, but new adventure. The experience turned out a lot better than I thought it would and I made some great friends along the way.

During all this I continued to train for my 5k run.

Additionally, the organization whose run I was participating in asked me if they could do human interest story on me. I said yes - you can read it here.

Some other items of note...

• I added another pro bono Social Media client.
• I joined the Marketing Committee of an organization I have been doing Social Media for over the past year. This is unique in that it is one of the sub-committees for the organization's Board of Directors, however I do not belong to this organization's board. I was flattered that they wanted me on the this committee even though I don't belong to the board.

October

October... October... October ... what a month!

Do I even need to mention that I ran my first 5k in October? Ok, I will! So, the 5k finally arrived. It was rainy and cold. S and I questioned our sanity. We questions if we should just skip the run and just go straight to the yummy breakfast we planned to have afterwards, however we stayed strong and ran the race.

About mid-October, I got to play with yarn for two days at Lorna's Laces. It was a lot of fun (I mean, a lot of fun!) and everyone there is awesome.

November

When one door closes, another one opens. That was the beginning of November.

Someone I had been doing social media work for offered me a job. It's something we had talked about for some time, and I always knew would happen, but wasn't sure when... It was a lot sooner than I had anticipated.

I faced some conflict this month. It bothered me so much that it interrupted the flow of how things seemed to be going for me. It upset me, but in the end I got through it.

One thing I did this month that I didn't think I'd do so soon was run a 5 mile race. How I found out about it was random and I wasn't totally on board with participating, however I had faith in my ability to do it so I decided to participate. It was an awesome experience and I'm proud of myself for not letting the naysayer side of my brain get the better of me.


So here I am... 36 is right around the corner - literally. The official time of my birth is 6:08 PM so really I won't be 36 until then, but still . . . :) Everything I listed above is everything I can recollect doing this year. I'm sure there is plenty more that took place that I haven't mentioned.

I've said this a million times, in recent weeks, the past year has been amazing. I'm incredibly thankful for every I was given and if this upcoming year is even half as good as this past year has been I'm in for a lot of greatness.

With that said, I'm ready to put Froggie v. 35 in the archives and I'm ready to unwrap the next year of being me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Hole With A Pigeon In It

A few months back I was at a small networking meeting where I was discussing all my various areas of interest. After finishing one of the group members who had been in HR for sometime said to me, "You know, one day you're gonna have to make a choice on what you want to focus on." I gave them a funny look and they continued to say that though I enjoy these various areas of interest I would one day have to pick one to focus one.

I have to admit that didn't sit well with me. I wasn't quite sure why I HAD to pick just one area of focus. Though out my career one of my greatest fears professionally is getting pigeon-holed and not have the option to explore other areas down the road because of it. I've seen this happen to many people. They get stuck in one area of a given field and years down the road can't move into another because all they know is this one area.

It's that same fear that makes me reluctant to define myself by what I do for work outside of work. It's not whom I am, yet if I don't it's as if I'm no one.

The same goes for defining myself by the types of activities I participate in outside of work. If there was ever a time that this has become apparent to me it's been since I started participating in roller derby. People have really embraced my derby girl identity and are fascinated by it; however, when I tell them I knit their reaction isn't quite the same.

I guess it's natural to latch on to a part of a person's world and use that to identify them by that all together. I don't know, that is not how I view others. The catalyst for all this thought about how I identify myself, etc. started when I, once again, decided that I wanted to add an "About Me" section to this blog. The first thing I did was to go to other blogs and see how others wrote their "About Me" section. However, each and everyone I read started by either identifying themselves by their job, their family or their hobby or special talent.

This didn't sit well with me.

"Maybe one of the reasons I need to focus has to do with the fact that way I'll know how to properly identify myself when asked by another," I thought to myself as I stared at the blank screen, "Nah... that isn't it."

So, instead of writing an "About Me" section I started a list of the thing I am in this crazy world I function in - this is what I've come up with so far:

On the simplest level, I am -

• A daughter • a sister • a friend • a best friend • a niece • an auntie

Taking it up a notch, I am -

• A college educated individual with a Masters degree • a colleague • an employee

Personally, I am -

• An athlete (runner and derby girl) • a writer • a knitter • a philanthropist

And still, I refuse to specifically define myself by any of the titles with the fear that I will pigeon-hole myself into one thing rather than be able to express the many things that make-up me.

I'm not sure where all this is going. If anything this is definitely the best example of my random thoughts.

I guess at the end of the day the reason I greatly refuse to latch on to just one component of my life has to do with the fact that I don't feel any one of these things mean more to me than the other. All the components of my life are important to me; all of them are special to me, and in turn it is these components that ultimately make me special and unique.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

(formerly known as) The Can't List

For as long as I can remember I've mostly been told what I wasn't capable of doing.

If I had to guess why this was the case I'd say it had to do with the fact that I did a lot of things later than my peers - I started walking late, talking late (which at this point I think I've made up for many times over), etc. Additionally, I think my learning disability made some around me feel that it was better to limit me than to push me with the chance that I might fail. Whatever the reason, I don't remember many times that I was told "you can."

Despite my tenacious nature, and unwillingness to settle for just anything I'm handed, I still to some degree carry around with me the voices of those naysayers, and their influence on me periodically is visible in the actions I take - or should I say don't take.

If there is any lesson that I've taken away from this year it's that for me establishing goals is important. Wait . . . let me back-up here a minute... It's not necessarily a lesson I just learned, but more one I put away for in a closet for awhile. Nonetheless, it is part of what makes me, me.

I recognize I've said this time and time again in my posts (and am beginning to sound like a broken record), but around this time of year especially it is something that is on my mind - a lot. As the end of 2011 lingers, my thoughts have turned to thinking about all the things I'd like to accomplish in 2012.

Oh, all the possibilities!!!

Yesterday, while I was texting with S, we began to discuss our respective Turkey Trot runs we had just completed on Thanksgiving and our goals for next year's trot. (Yes, this is the same race that just two weeks ago I hemmed and hawed over joining because I told myself I couldn't do it as I hadn't been running that much recently due to a bad cold.) That's when the conversation turned to how amazing it is that we've only been at this for less than six months as we have both come so far in a short period of time. It's seems so unreal as just completing one race was always one of those things that was on the "Can't List" for both of us.

Ah, yes... the Can't List. For anyone who might not know what this is, the "Can't List" is a list of thing that have been talked about time and time and time again, but is never really serious considered because surely it "can't" be accomplished. Sadly, this list is not a stranger to me. I've carried around this list for some time, and I'm afraid is longer than I'd prefer it to be. However, when S asked me what "can't" goal I planned to work towards in 2012 it took me awhile to think of one. I don't know why, but after taking action on seriously considering law school and running in a 5k race (my two biggest "can'ts) I seriously couldn't think of what other goals took up residence on the list. After giving it some further thought, I have since come up with a few ideas of what is on the agenda for 2012... Actually, I can't stop myself from getting excited about what is ahead for me in this coming year. (More on this coming Wednesday.)

My last thought on all this is that I think I need to rename this list all together. The word "can't," in this context, leaves such a yucky, blah feeling and doesn't reflect the excitement I feel when I think of all the experiences to come.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Breaking Bread with a Racist

Before I start this entry, I'd like to apologize in advance in the event that I use language that I wouldn't otherwise use, however do to the nature of the situation, and the emotion wrapped-around, my ability to filter get a little bit out of wack when I speak about this particular matter.

Part of me is surprised that this is the first time I've encountered racism. Maybe it's the bubble I seem to periodically function in that prevents me from really seeing it around me, or maybe I'm more naive than I'd like to believe I am. Whatever the case is, the events that I'm about to relay to you is the first time I have ever encountered racism in my immediate world ...

Several weeks ago I invited a friend of mine to a dinner that I was going to be attending. Before extending an invitation to my friend, I contacted one of the individuals whose home the dinner party was going to be at to find out if I could do so. Without any hesitation I was told my friend was more then welcome at the dinner and they looked forward to having them join everyone. So, I extended the invitation and it was happily accepted. I informed my hosts that my friend would be joining; however, this time I gave my hosts my friends name - I thought it might be a good idea for them to know who was joining the fun just in case I didn't make it to the dinner before them (we were driving separately).

Two hours later I received a call from someone else attending the dinner. Another person going to the dinner was looking for me and I was suppose to give them a call. (Now, I feel the need to digress a bit and say that there are certain people who only call me when something is wrong. It's a horrible thing to assume, but the truth of the matter is that that is the nature of my relationship with this particular individual. So, when I heard they were looking for me . . .) I asked the person I was talking to what was wrong. After some hesitation I was told why. It turns out that the hostess had gone onto facebook and looked my friend up so they would have a face with the name. Upon looking my friend up on facebook, the hostess saw my friend is African American which she knew would be a problem for her family that would be attending this dinner as well.

"Not as open minded" is the phrase that was used when I was told all this... I don't exactly remember because I had to have it repeated to me because I was sure my hearing was out of whack and heard what was said incorrectly.

Unfortunately, I had heard everything LOUD and CLEAR. My reaction to this news was... well... let's just say I still have to take deep breaths when I recollect this conversation. After getting off this conversation I called one of my friends to figure out how I was suppose to tell my friend the new. Typically, people come to me asking how they should phrase difficult messages as I possess the ability to phrase things in a diplomatic manner, however this was one time I was the one who was stumped. While relaying the details I found saying "racist" difficult and quite uncomfortable. (I wasn't about to sugar-coat the situation my using the phrase "not as open minded".) There was silence on the other end after I shared the events that had just transpired. My friend, like me, was at a loss. Even after speaking with their spouse and kids about it they still had nothing to me other than saying what had to be said in the rawest way possible. I knew what I had to say, I just wasn't ready to say it. It took me over 24 hours to call my friend. I was sure they'd handle the situation just fine, but it was still a conversation I was ready to initiate as I still felt deeply about what was transpiring.

As expected, my friend received the news just fine. This wasn't the first time something like this happened and it probably wouldn't be the last time. I informed them I had e-mailed the host and hostess that I would not be attending the dinner as well. My friend told me that I shouldn't miss out and that they would understand if I went... "We're cool," they said.

Despite it being cool with my friend, I couldn't see how I was suppose to look at these people knowing what I knew about them. It wouldn't be the first time I kept company with them, but it would be the first time I would see them in this light. I struggled with this decision. Ultimately, my decision to attend the dinner was a last-minute one (less than 24 hours beforehand). I stilled worried about encountering these individual, but I figured I was mature enough to figure out a way to be at the dinner with them and not let this ruin my evening.

My game plan was simple - interact as little as possible to the hostesses' family. At one point during the evening, one of them invited me to sit next to them as we conversed about football and the NBA lockout. I politely declined and kept my thoughts on both topics short and simple. When it came to the actual meal I strategically chose which table I sat at so I wouldn't have to be at "their" table. (Thankfully there were enough of us to warrant two tables.)

I won't lie and say I didn't see the ginormous, rainbow-striped elephant in the room that evening. (As far as I was concerned we might as well have set a place at the table for it and served up an extra plate of food.) I'm just not sure if anyone else saw it as well. Part of me wanted to say something, but it wasn't the place nor the time to ask.

Even though the dinner has come and gone I know I'll probably still think about this situation for awhile to come. It has been an eye-opening experience. If any good could come from this situation it's that it put a well-needed hole in the bubble that seems to shelter me from these types of realities. Additionally, it has further affirmed and made me more appreciative of who I am, the life I lead and the things I stand for.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Magnificent Memories

This evening I took a leisurely stroll down Michigan Ave, a.k.a The Magnificent Mile, "Mag Mile".

As I made my way north from Millennium Park (South Michigan Ave) towards the many shops that occupied North Michigan Ave a flurry of memories began to rush through my mind.

It all started when I saw Sweetwater Restaurant. I've never actually been to this restaurant when it was Sweetwater. I did, however, go to the Bennigan's the once occupied the space when I was back in high school. I'll actually never forget that night because it was just a random decision amongst the group to head into the city. I figured if anything we'd find a place unique to the city to dine at - not Bennigan's. This was just one of several trip into the city with this group of friends on a weekend evening.

While reminiscing about the whole "why did we travel to the city to eat at Bennigan's" memory I walked by stairs that led to a water taxi service. Immediately another memory came to mind...

Yep! That's me striking a pose. This was taken in September 2005, however it seems like it was just yesterday. Even though I've looked at this photo a million time, tonight was the first time I noticed the individual who took the shot did a bit of photoshop work to it. Regardless, it was such a lovely evening. It started out as an impromptu trip into the city to get something from the Apple store. Right before this photo was taken, the strap on my Coach purse had broken just as we passed the Coach store. I was hesitant to go into the store as I had had a bad experience with their staff several months earlier, but alas I went in and ended up leaving with a bran-spankin' new purse which I still have all these years later.


As I passed the water taxi stair, and kept moving north, right in front of me was the WGN Radio station broadcasting booth. Like many media outlets in the Chicagoland area, WGN has glass windows so those passing by can see their favorite broadcasters at work. I've passed this landmark many times, and many times I think about the same thing - my father. My family are die-hard Cubs fans. That being the case, during baseball season, my father would not only have the game on tv, but also have the radio tuned to WGN to listen to the game. I'm not sure why he needed both, but it was just his thing. I've never been lucky enough to see any of the broadcasters at work when I pass by, but I'm always hopeful each time I'm in the area.

As my walk continued, I entered into the part of the trip where different memories from various shopping experiences came rushing back. The Mag Mile has been the site of many meet-ups for my friends and I. I even remember a time I specially went to Water Tower looking for a new outfit for a date I had. As I approached Michigan and Erie I looked up and saw the John Hancock building.
I realize this picture isn't the best, but the site struck me as soon as I saw it. I've only been in the John Hancock building once. The memory is bittersweet. I try to remember the amazing view that particular night and the happiness of that evening instead of focusing on bitter part of the association.

My Mag Mile memories aren't all about shopping trips with friends and sports radio associations, I have also spent time on this stretch of road conducting business. This area has also been home to professional conferences and several interviews. Sometimes it seems like you just can't avoid this area.

Nowadays, anytime I'm on Michigan Ave is mainly on the southern portion of the road - in the financial district referred to as "The Loop." I have some wonderful memories of time spent during the Summers of 2010 and 2011 at Millennium Park. Tonight, my stroll down memory lanes started in this area. I had wandered there are being cooped-up at the library for a majority of the day. I had never really been to the park at night when it was dark and wanted to see what it was like.
Just as I suspected, it was still full of life. The first thing I passed when I arrived there was a long line of people waiting to rent ice skates. I had forgotten about the ice rink at MP and was happy to have received a reminder. It's been put on my list of things to do this winter as I've been wanting to skate there at least once since the beginning of 2010.

As my trip down memory lane came to a close I thought about though it was nice to have so many magnificent memories of the area what made me most happy was thinking all the potential memories to be made there in the years to come.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Today's Froggie meets Froggie 10 years from now

I'd imagine setting a time to meet her for lunch would be a tad on the difficult side. She's busy; I'm busy... or at least I would assume she is busy. Why wouldn't she be busy? I mean, she is me 10 years from now. It only makes sense she would be busy.

This week for the Thursday blog project Susanna asked us to write about if we could have lunch with 10 year older self, what we would talk about?

As I mentioned above it would probably be a tad on the challenging side to make plans... Or, maybe it wouldn't. Maybe 10 years from now I've finally slowed down. However, even at 46-years-old I can't imagine that being the case since staying busy is a trait that runs in my family... but you never know. When we met for lunch, I'm sure it would be at a restaurant that serves fabulous breakfast food - we have always loved breakfast foods!

Though I'd probably ask my 10-year-older self some specifics about her life, I believe our conversation would inevitably move away from an interview like conversation, and would mostly focus more on random topics of conversation. She's always felt the best way for people to get to know her is to chat her up about this and that. (It has always been the best way to find out about her likes, dislikes, interests, etc.)

My 10 year older self would share with me what is happening with my family. My youngest niece and nephew would be 16-years-old and 14-years-old respectively and making life even more interesting for their parents then they do right now. My great nephew will be 13-years-old. She'd also share with me what is going on with my mother, brothers, sister-in-laws and other family members.

I wouldn't expect my 46-year old self to tell me everything about her life or things that have taken place over the past 10 years. We both know that life is full of unexpected events and relieving too much might be difficult for me to know. Furthermore, she wouldn't want to ruin any of the awesome things that happen as well.

Before we parted way, we'd hug and tell each other not to forget to take care of ourself as we both have a tendency to put caring for others ahead of our needs.

Now that I've written about lunch with my 10-year-older self, please take some time to read what my fellow bloggers have to say about their visits:


Mom of Many (Susanna)

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful

A local coffee shop that I spend time at has a chalkboard where they post questions for patrons to answer. From time-to-time I answer the current question if it happens to inspire me. Not too long ago, the following question inspired me...

"What is the best gift you've ever received?"

I didn't have to think long about this one. My answer: An amazing 2011.

Sure, in my lifetime I've gotten a lot of cool stuff, but none of those items measure of to the intangibles that life has given me this year. I have always had a lot to be thankful for, but this year definitely stands out and that is why my above answer was the only answer I could rightfully place on the coffee shop chalk board.

Sometimes when I am in the thick of things it is difficult for me to step back and recognize all the great things I have in my life. In the weeks, and days, leading up to tomorrow there has been a lot of happening that have put a damper on the spirit of Thanksgiving. I've tried hard to not let this get to me, but sometime I have not been very successful at doing so.

Tonight, I'm letting go of these challenges and focusing on the many wonderful gifts this past year has given me. I am also focusing on all the amazing people I have in my life that I could not imagine life without.

I'll spare y'all the remainder of my sap-fest . . . a lot of what is left to say is directed towards specific people, which I can do one-on-one.

I wish you all a healthy and happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Off the Grid


• There is only 10 more days left... really, I need more time!

• Can someone please tell me why people put exclamation points inside parentheses?(!) I'm seeing this a lot lately I do not understand what the point of this is... what am I missing?

• I tried completing what I believe will be a trifecta of sorts by calling to find out where things stood for me on an important matter. Instead of getting an answer, I got voice mail.

• The can of worms that I thought I put away came out again yesterday. However this time the can wasn't open, it was thrown away... finally. Or in other words, we finally had the conversation that needed to take place.

• Now that I've taken care of that, I'm wondering what to do with the elephant. I think it needs to find a new home (my place is a bit cramped); however, I don't want to confront this matter in the way I think I'm going to have too.

• Tonight I ran two miles without stopping. This is a first. I also ran half a mile on a slight incline. #improudofmyself

• Some people just want to see what they want to see. #somethingimustremember

• I just discovered the benefits of the Airplane Mode feature on cell phones.

• Thus far this week I've been told twice that I'm tenacious - and it was meant as a compliment. Usually when someone says that they are giving me a difficult time about this quality.

• When I started out this year I was very tight-lipped about what I was up to in terms of what I was up with some things in my life. These day, not so much.

• Today someone told me that they liked that I walked quickly. Random, I know. With that in mind, I've never gotten a compliment for that before - usually people are telling me to slow down.

• So far this new world I'm in has been interesting. There is a lot of opportunity for me to learn, and also the chance to make some good connections.

• I met Benny the Bull (the Chicago Bulls mascot) in an elevator in one of the government buildings last week. I went to go take a picture of him, however he insisted we take a picture together. It was nice to see Benny was still working despite the NBA lockout that seems to persist.

• There is nothing specifically I have to say about the subject of this post - "Off the Grid." I saw the term somewhere and liked how it sounds.

• This coming Thursday it will be a year sicne project "Life Map" was born. It's hard to believe that it's been that long. When I put this together I really didn't know what to make of it. I didn't know if I would actually do anything with it or if it would just become a funny story to tell my friends (like it was in the beginning). December 1st of 2010 was the first day I did something about project life map. Again, I didn't know what to make of it.

These days, I still think of this little experiment; however, I don't do so because it is guiding me through life like it first did in the early days. I think of it because it in some weird way it transformed me this year. It brought me back to the person I've always been, but forgot I was.

Recently, when I was in my kitchen I found myself thinking about how the walls were covered in all the possibilities the map provided. I was also thinking about how bare my walls looked. For the first couple months of this year that map was the prominent decor in my kitchen. Then my mind began to float into all the possibilities for 2012. I began to smile. Though some of them seem uber ambitious, the ideas I have excite me and make me look forward to the new year.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Life is Circular

It was only three months ago I was commenting to PT how I would do things differently if I found myself back in similar circumstance as I was in during 2010... After all hindsight is 20/20.

Just a matter of days after making those remarks, I found myself back in the situation I had referenced. Since then, I have done things differently. Don't get me wrong, there are some things that are the same, but I have definitely changed my approach as well. During all this, I failed to notice that there was another pattern repeating itself in my life. One I hadn't seen in a decade. It was a significant event that without a doubt goes on the very, very short life regrets list.

When I was last here, I didn't speak up and let my thoughts and feelings be known - I was too afraid. I kept waiting for "the right moment." That right moment never came. So, when I finally recognized this time what was happening, I once again had a decision to make: 1) Be afraid and say nothing; or 2) Let go of the life "oh shit" bar and see what happens. I mean I have a parachute with me, so no matter what the outcome is, I know I'll land safely.

In life, there are patterns in our life that are repetitive in nature; like circles. Part of our job is to identify those patterns and figure out if they are worth staying the course or deciding to break them and chart a new path.

In my case I have, once again, decided to do things differently. I let go of the oh shit bar and am currently in a free-fall. I've been upfront about my thoughts, and feelings, not leaving anything to question. I don't know what the final outcome of all this will be, but as I wait for the signal to deploy my chute so I can steer myself to the part of the landing field meant for me, I fall knowing that I took ownership of the situation and did something about it instead of sitting back and letting life steer me to my destination.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Out with the Old; In with the New

Sometime I'm amazed how the simplest change can make a huge difference. Today, that change was a decision to get a new shower curtain.

My original purpose for venturing to Bed, Bath and Beyond (B3) was to buy a humidifier. Yeah, of course I am doing this after my cold and I parted way, but better late than never. Strolling through B3 is never a chore for me. I love this place. The wanna be decorator inside of me loves walking down the aisles looking at all the home goods goodness. On this particular trip my eye caught the shower curtain display. There were several designs that I couldn't stop looking at.

The shower curtain I had was a wedding gift, along with a matching bathroom accessory set, given to the ex and I over 5 years ago. It was also part of the stuff I took when I moved after the divorce. I never really thought much about the fact that it was a wedding gift. It was just something that was a part of my bathroom that blended into the repetitiveness of my days.

However, one day, a few months ago, I was fixing my hair and noticed it in the mirror. For some reason on that particular day when I looked at it I was reminded of its origins. It was an arbitrary thought, but a thought I had nonetheless. As I made this observation, I also noticed that it no longer reflected my personal taste in decor. It appeared to me as heavy, cold/dark and boring; however, I wasn't moved to replace it right then and there. I just let it be as it was.

I'm not sure what moved me today to get a new shower curtain. It's kind of the same randomness that moves me to get new clothes or style my hair different. It happens when just ready of a change.
Since I couldn't make up my mind at the store which one I liked best, I bought three with the intention that two would find its way back to the store. As I hung-up the one I choose, I just knew it was the right fit. It opened up the space and made everything feel light, inviting and airy. I actually love it so much I'm even contemplating buying all the matching accessories (trash can, tooth brush holder, etc.), but I don't know how matchy matchy I want to get.

Once the divorce was final, I bought a bunch of new things for my new place. Granted I didn't buy new furniture, but I did manage to find a few pillows for my sofa that made it pop more. I also bought new dishes even though I had half of the ones we got as wedding gifts as well. (Looking at greyish blue and black while I ate was starting to give me the blahs.) I also bought new bedding and linens for the bathroom. It was a renewal sorts and a way of making this new place mine.

Today, I had that same feeling I had back then when I bought all those new items for my new home. It was the fresh new look that reflected who I now am now; not who I was then.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

France or Italy?

There is a list of things I want to do before I die. It was established my Junior year of high school. Back in May I wrote about this list and noted the items I had checked off it. Additionally, I mentioned some things I would add to it at this point in my life. Since rediscovering the list a few years back I have used it as a starting point for my life to do list. As long as I'm alive, I intend to make this a living document as I intend to never stop looking for new goals to achieve and experiences to have.

Every Thursday, myself and three of my friends blog about the same topic. We each take turns on picking the topic. This week, Melissa, our resident Merryland Girl, asked us to write about one thing you've never done but would really like to do at some point in your life?

One of the great things about this year has been that it as the first time in a long time that I got off my butt and started to work towards my goals and seized opportunities to try new and exciting things. Aside for a few "off" years, this is typically how I approach life.

However, there is one things I can't seem to get going on... For ten years I've been talking about taking a trip to France and Italy. I even got a mileage credit with the intention to charge everything I possibly could to the card so I could earn miles towards this trip. Back in June 2008, I was in the process of the early planning stages of this trip when I got bad news and had to post-pone the trip. Since then, I have talked about re-initiating the planning process, but haven't for one main reason. I recognize this obstacle and really want to push myself past it, but I can't seem to do that. I even came-up with "Plan C" which is one of three life plan options I put together for myself last November to kick-start things in my life again. Plan C was simple - get my passport in order, box my stuff and put it in storage, and travel overseas until every last dime I have is spent. Throughout 2011 I've even ask several of my friends where I should start - France or Italy. However, par for the course, I haven't even updated my passport. Well, that is until now ... (but that's another story.)

Since the creation of Plan C, as much as I like the idea of seeing France and Italy, other countries have been added to the agenda. France and Italy are just a starting point for a trip of a lifetime. One thing is for sure, it's not a matter of IF I take this trip, it's a matter of WHEN I take it.

Unrelated to my spectacular European travel plans, I would also like to run the Hood To Coast relay that takes place in Oregon annually. When I lived there it was neat to watch come through town. At the time I didn't think it was something I'd ever do, but now that I'm getting into races and such I can't see why it would be a stretch to think I could do such a thing. Or for that matter, maybe, I'll find races in the European cities on visit on the above mentioned dream trip.

Hmmmm . . .

Now that I've told you about some things I plan to do in my lifetime, please read what my fellow bloggers would like to do in their lifetime...

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Mom of Many (Susanna)

Momarock (Sara)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sleep Trumps Blogging

The cold is still reeking havoc in my world.

I'm feeling better, but not 100%. So, tonight I am cheating on this blogging challenge and call this my post.

Nite!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

15 15 15

It's 15 days into National Blog Post Month.

For the past 15 days I've been posting at lest an entry a day. Even within the first week it becomes that posting daily was more of a challenge than it sounds it would be. This has caused me to think of all the different things I could possibly write about, and remember things that have taken place in my life that I would have otherwise potentially forgotten.

There are 15 days left of posting daily. I will be interested to see what I come up with on those days. Honestly, I already have plans for the last two days of the month and the Thursday blog project has means another two days are occupied.

In honor of the past 15 days of this challenge that have passed, and the 15 yet to take place, I am committing to posting 15 thoughts tonight.

• There are only 17 more days left.... I need more time.

• I was blind-sided by the whole situation. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be dealing with such I thing. It went against everything I stand for.

• Part of me wants to make this situation to be a long-term one. The other side of me recognizes my adult responsibilities, and knows that it can't be unless the terms changed significantly.

• I never know how to describe myself for "About Me" sections and this time is no exception.

• This 30 days of posting has been interesting. It's forced me to think about different things I can write about. Thus far, I've enjoyed writing about my Comedy Improv characters the most. It was fun to revisit them and brought back great memories.

• Monday I found out that a local community sponsors a 5 mile Turkey Trot run where instead of being professionally timed, you write your name and the amount of time you "think" it will take you to complete the run. At the end of the run you write down how long it took you and the individuals that come closest win a turkey. There is only one clock participants see and it is at the end of the race.

No timers of any sort are allowed during the run. There is no entry fee and no t-shirt. This is purely for the fun of running in a race and seeing if you can predict how long the run will take you.

I am diggin' this concept so much that I just might participate in the run.

• I didn't realize how spoiled I having a train buddy this summer until I didn't have my train buddy around anymore. It's just not the same now.

• I don't know why, but I still care.

• There are things you come across in life that make you step back and feel thankful for what you have. This is happening a lot lately. A former coworker of mine from when I lived in the Northwest has Cancer. They are a few years younger than me and never did anything, like smoking, to bring this one; however, they have Cancer. Every time I see them post about it on Facebook I think of their bravery and strength.

• Everyone loved the date 11/11/11 because it was suppose to be good luck. I loved it because of it's connection to binary. (I'm such a geek!)

• I put the worms back in the jar and sealed the lid. I was tried of looking at them. If it gets opened up again, so be it. However, it won't be me who opens the jar. I've tried to have the necessary conversation, but have not gotten a response. So for now it is what it is.

• Now if I could only put kick the elephant out of the room.

• Thus far, the new chapter has been interesting. It's relaxed and though it has an element of formality, it's just like hanging out with a friend.

• Waiting for the phone to ring with news is like waiting for a pot of water to boil.

• ***Sigh***... It's definitely been a long time since I've done one a long list of bullet points. It's been difficult to come up with 15 things. Not that there isn't things to talk about, but mainly because this cold I have is making me tired, but keeping me up at the same time. I believe it's almost finished - I hope.

I wish these bullet points were more in-depth like they have been in the past... It's not like there isn't plenty to talk about, I just don't have the energy to put it all together at this moment in time. Oh well, I guess.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Woo Woo Lady

First and foremost, I feel the need to say that unlike Vivian and Miss Georgia the "Woo Woo Lady" is not a fictional character. This person does in fact exist, and is someone I have met in real life.

Prior to my visit with her, I had heard all about her from someone close to me on several occasions. Given her unique profession I never really thought our paths would cross - energy healing was a little too alternative for my liking. However, after some epic life changing events that took place my view of things changed.

My decision to go see the Woo Woo Lady was one of those, "I've got nothing to lose" kind of decisions. Everything else I was trying in order to shake the craptastic feelings was failing, so made it was time to approach the problem in a different way.

Let me explain what energy healing is for those of you that aren't familiar with it. Basically, energy healing is a type of holistic healing therapy that is use to change ones energy that they carry around with them. I realize that definition probably doesn't mean much to you, but to be quite honest, it's really hard for me to define what energy healing is exactly.

The first thing I remember about my energy healing experience was walking into the Woo Woo Lady's apartment. It was studio apartment in a prime Chicagoland location. Up until now I never told anyone, but the location was actually in the same neighborhood I had been in just a few months earlier. A neighborhood which held bad memories. I found irony in this... It's like a victim returning to the scene of a crime in some effort to gain closer; however, I didn't return on purpose and I hadn't returned to gain closer - I just wanted the uber craptastic feelings to go away.

There was very little lighting on and the first thing I was asked to do when I stepped through the door was to place my things right where I stood. The Woo Woo Lady didn't want minimal energy from the outside world to come into the unit. As I made my way into the unit, the first thing that was blaring at me was the fact that it was practically barren. I can still see the white walls and a minimal amount of furniture. There was a massage table in the middle of the room, a small card table with chairs near the kitchen, a mattress on the opposite end of the room and a bike. There might have been another chair of some sorts there as well, but I don't recall it for sure.

Before the actual session began, we sat at the small card table and I was ask to tell the Woo Woo Lady what brought me to her. I told her the basic of what had been going on in my life and then talked about how my friend recommended I try this process. After finishing my story, the Woo Woo Lady looked at me and ask me some questions that had with people in my life and vibes she was feeling. (Did I mention she's also a psychic?) Though the skeptical side of me was sure she had some sort of thorough background check on me prior to my visit, the other side was amazed and was starting to become a believer.

After our conversation it was time for me to lay on the table and get my energy healing session. The only way I can describe what I experience is to say, "it's kind of like getting a massage, but you're not getting a massage." (For the record, I was clothed during the session.) There is a facet to this experience I can never describe, I just know it was "different." Part way through the session, the Woo Woo Lady asked if I was a mother. She said I was giving off a very nurturing and caring vibe - like I had children that I took care of. I softly answered "No."

Before I knew it the session was over and it was time to get going. I was definitely more relaxed. It was a type of relaxed I hadn't felt before, and can't say I've every felt since. After paying her, I collecting my belongs that I had left at the door and made my way out of the Woo Woo Lady's surroundings.

As I waited to board my train home, I called my friend to relay the details of my experience. We both agreed that it was an indescribable experience that you just had to go through to understand.

All this took place close four years ago. I never went back to the Woo Woo Lady. I don't really think about it much. It "might" come-up if I'm talking about the detail of that time in place in my life, but that rarely ever happens anymore that the memory of that day becomes more and more distance with every passing year. It wasn't until recently when a friend of mine was talking about the open house she is having at her place of business did memories of the Woo Woo Lady come to mind. We were talking about psychics and whether or not we believed in them the memory of her comes to mind.

I struggle with the answer to the question of whether or not I believe in psychics, and with what I experienced in my energy healing session. Was my energy completely corrected that evening? NO, absolutely not. Like many things, total course correction took time. However, something did happen that night that the skeptical side of me acknowledges and give a little living space too and it is that "something" that will forever make me a bit of a believer in alternative ways to healing ones self.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This Frog

Is feeling under the weather . . .



Hopefully, I'll be hopping along at full-force soon!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Laundry

"Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by color." ~ Author Unknown

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friendship - Part 1

I've been thinking about friendship a lot this year.

It started with people trying to convince me to axe someone out of my life because they really didn't live up to being a true friend. Then, the topic popped back into my world as I thought about the shifts in my network for friend and how these shifts are ever evolving as our individual life circumstances change. Another facet of friendship that is ever present in my mind is the dynamic of long-term friends - I have quite a few of these. Lastly, I've thought a lot about how people make friends and what happens when one chapter of your life closes and another one begins.

These are just a few of the things I plan to talk about on this blog as I feel appropriate....

Tonight, the thing that is most on my mind is the vetting process that takes place when I begin a new friendship. Once upon a time, it wasn't a very thorough process. Though I was particular about who I called a friend, I wasn't as particular as I am today.

I find it interesting when I see people who instantly consider someone a friend after spending just a few hours with them. I understand building a rapport with someone, but in my world laying out the welcome mat and baking a batch of cookies so they will potentially stay awhile after I let them in the door takes some time.

For better or worse, this is a result of my experience with bad seeds. I've trusted some people I shouldn't have, and as a result got burned - badly. When I really think about it, to me those I call friends are a reflection of the person I am, or even aspire to be.

Additionally, this vetting process I speak of has also come about after understanding that I want the people that I call friends to be those people I truly feel a genuine connection to, and individuals who genuinely feel a connection to me. Like any relationship, friendship is a two-way step. If one end is barricaded then you're not going to get through to the other side.

For a long time I was envious of those that knew everyone. At every turn they would see someone else they knew. As I got older I started to question the quality of those friendships. Can you really have a mass quantity of friends and still maintain the quality of the relationship? The answer I've come to is no. Now, don't get me wrong, I know my fair share of people, but I don't call all of them my friend.

All this is mainly on my mind because of a conversation I had last night with S about her move to the area and the process of making new friends. It made me stop for awhile about what I would do if I had to start over in a new city. (Something I really don't want to think about.) Overall, I the thing I appreciate the most with the individuals I call friends today is that they patiently waited-out the vetting process. Or, for that matter, I had to make it through their vetting process as well.

In the end, I can sincerely say everyone I call a friend is someone I'm proud to know and would, without hesitation, say represents me a part of who I am.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Don't Forget Your Shoulder Pads

When I was a child shoulder pads were used quite often in various clothes, and thanks to my mom there were plenty of them on hand at home should a particular item of clothing not have them already sewn into it.

Every Thursday, myself and three of my friends blog about the same topic. We each take turns on picking the topic. This week, Sara, of Momarock fame, got to pick the topic. Inspired by some jeggings she saw, we were asked to write about a clothing item, or items, we wouldn't be caught dead in.

The first thing that came to mind when she gave us this topic was shoulder pads.
I know it's not an item of clothing, and furthermore they do in fact serve a purpose when it comes to fashion design, but I'm so scared from my mom's insisting I wear them with everything I that these days I'd rather put my sloping shoulders on display for the whole world to see, than voluntarily put a pair of shoulder pads under a top I'm wearing.

The next thing I would never wear is something I saw while walking around downtown this past Spring... They were velour (or possibly corduroy) leggings. For that matter, I'll throw in jeggings into this mix as well.
I have to admit, when I saw the corduroy leggings I had to do a double take. I love corduroy pants, and jeans for that matter as well, but I'm not so open minded using these materials for leggings. Part of does have to do with the fact that leggings just aren't flattering on my body so I just stay away from them all together. (The only pair of stretchy fitted pants that I put on my body are workout capris.) However, I just can't seem to wrap my mind around why you would want to use these materials for leggings.

Even though there are many more things I wouldn't be caught dead wearing, I'll only feature one more... And the lucky winner is - Z Cavaricci pants.
Let me tell ya folks, there were a lot of people walking around my high school with these pants on. I thought maybe, just maybe, the years would have softened me up a bit and allowed me to appreciate this style of pant, however that is not the case. I still don't get the appeal. Even if someone gave me some insight to why they are so wildly loved.

Ok, I thought of one more thing I wouldn't be caught dead in.... a Snuggie. I just don't get it.... Enough said!


Now that I have talked about some items I wouldn't be caught dead wearing, please take a moment to read what my fellow bloggers have to say on this topic:

Momarock (Sara)

Me!!! (Melissa)

Parenting: a special kind of crazy (Susanna)


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Arbitrary

• Last week I volunteered at a conference critiquing resume of students looking for their first job. As I prepared for my first session all I could think was, "Wow! I'm the expert now." As I sat and made suggestions on how they could reformat their resume I even began to believe I knew what I was talking about. I have these moments from time-to-time. Not that I didn't think I know what I was talking about. It's just that you reach a point in your career where things come to you within a blink of an eye. You have the capacity to guide others in a sound direction. You gain a respect that you once didn't have ... and sometime it just amazes you that that is where you are at.

• This week I started a new adventure into a new area of the business world - a new field. I'm not sure how long I'll stay in this world, but however long it is I am happy to be here. See, I've been wanting to break into this area of some time. I was surprised when the opportunity was presented to me. What I'm doing is not glamorous by any means, but we all have to start somewhere, right?!

• To piggyback off the last bullet point . . . For the past year I've been working as a Social Media Consultant on a Pro Bono basis. As of current I have four clients. Three of which are Pro Bono and one who now actually pays me to do Social Media work. When I started out it was my goal to get paid to do this; now I am getting paid. It's exciting and I'm hopeful that this will lead to even more paid work experiences in this area of business.

• If you really step back and look at everything I have on my plate, I'm really busy. Tonight someone asked me how I get it all done. Truthfully, this full-plate is the result of two factors: 1) I'm always afraid of having so much downtime that I'm bored out of my mind; 2) I have a difficult time passing up the opportunity to take on new project that interests me.

Honestly, until recently I never I really didn't believe I was that busy. Again, until recently. Things became very apparent to me recently when I took-on something that consumes a lot of preparation time. I hope when that is over in December I'm not bored again because I've had to pass up a lot of other opportunities in order to prepare.

• I got a hair cut tonight. It was long overdue. I always can believe how great I feel once I've gotten my hair cleaned-up. It's such a small, simple thing that makes such a huge difference in how I feel.

• I still can't believe this year is almost over. It feels as though it's just begun.

• BFF and I were commenting to each other this week that the blogging project we're part of has been going strong since late March - we're almost at 8 months. It's a fantastic group that I'm so happy I'm part of. We've covered some really interesting topics, some topics that were personally challenging for me, but I got through them. I'm so pleased we continue to keep going like we have.

• The cold weather has set-in. Winter is knocking at the door. If things hold true to tradition, we'll have snow by my birthday which isn't far away. Part of me isn't ready for the colder winter months; the other part says bring it on!

• I have to remember that sometimes you'll find what you're looking for if you just look at what's right in front of you.

• Here's a little mind-bender: Can you answer this equation without searching for the answer online -> 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 - 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 x 0= ?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How It All Ties Together: A Beauty Queen, a Closet Jazz Singer and Me

The game is called "Panel of Experts."

The premise of the game is there are approximately four to five actors who play the role of an "expert" and answer questions the audience poses to them. The key to this game is that each actor must answer the audience's questions the way the character they developed for the game would answer the question, not how they would answer it in real life.

This is just one of the many games I learned while taking comedy improv classes at Chicago's Comedy Sportz Training Center. The core lesson of this game is character development - putting context around a character's life history, mannerisms and style in which they communicate. During the time I took classes at CSTC, I had the opportunity to play this game many times, including at the classes' final shows for friends, family and random strange whom happened to attend the show. Though during the course of my training I developed many characters, the two that were most memorable to me (and several others) were "Miss Georgia" and "Vivian, the Closet Jazz Singer".

Drawing Inspiration

I knew a pageant girl in high school - she was on my cheerleading squad. During our downtime the group got to hear all about her pageants, and all that went into them. We even learned how to wave like a beauty queen would at a parade as she passed by a crowd of onlookers. Miss Georgia was the first character I created. The idea of her was a hybrid of my fellow cheerleader, a documentary I had once watched about the coaching beauty pageant contestants receive and my years living in the south. There was something that fascinated me about these individuals and when it became apparent I need to develop a character for an improv show, they were they were the first things that came to mind. If I really had to analyze it, "Miss Georgia" gave me a chance to be the girl I always wanted to be. As I performed, I imagined myself as a tall, flawless beauty. I may have even thrown in a pageant wave just for good measure to make it seem like I actually knew what I was doing. Of course, since the object was to make everyone in the audience laugh I did over exaggerate the stereotypical qualities of this character.

On the flip-side, the was not like anyone I had met in real life. In some ways I felt like she embodied a lot of who I was at the time - someone who blended in and conformed on the outside, but on the inside was busting to show the world who they really were. She wanted people to see the real her vs. who they thought she was and/or who they thought she should be. At the time I was just starting to try new things (like comedy improv) and the people who were in my life were amazed by the sides of me they were seeing. I feel the secretive nature of Vivian's talents spoke to this side of me not many had seen before. Til this day I believe there is still some sense of shock when I dive into new activities, such as roller derby, but unlike back then this it's not as much as a surprise. Additionally, I don't hide my interests and talents. These days, I bring the me from the inside out for the rest of the world to see.

Bringing The Past Into The Present

I don't think about my Comedy Sportz days often. Actually, it's very far and few between that I think about them. From time-to-time Cantor D will send me a random e-mail, or post a comment on Facebook, about Miss Georgia, but over the years that too has occurred infrequently. Of course when he does jog my memory it brings back a bunch of memories that I reflect on fondly.

Of the two characters, Miss Georgia is, by far, the most popular amongst my friends. Most recently I asked why this was the case. The consensus is that she was unique and funny. There was believability in who she was. For me, she embodied things I knew I'd never be (Tall with the perfect body. Amazingly intelligent.). As I look back on her now, I don't envy her, nor do I wish to be her, like I once did. On the other hand, Vivian was my favorite. I loved that she lived this secret life and that she was so over the top to some extent - especially considering in her real life she was so plain and ordinary. Unlike Miss Georgia, I always pictured Vivian a much older lady which was a very important piece of her overall character.


In Conclusion

After asking Cantor D why he loved her so much, he commented that he, "hadn't seen her in years" and asked if she was back. I chuckled when I read this. I loved that he feel so connect to the character. I can only imagine this is how a writer would feel when they see how many people latch-on to their characters. I have to admit, his question has me thinking about how I would answer the "where are they now" question.

My writings about these characters over the past two days has been an interesting experience for me. First and foremost, it forced me to see what I could remember about them. Additionally, it forced me to further build upon their backgrounds and bring more life to character I myself and so closely connected.

As I finish off this entry I begin to consider the possibility that maybe one day I'll take the time to flesh out these individuals even more and possibly even answer Cantor D's inquiry as to where life has taken them over the past 9 years. Until I'm ready to do that, I will tuck them away as I have done before only to be revisited on special occasions.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Breaking The Beauty Queen Mold

It takes me awhile to remember her exact name. We all just call her "Miss Georgia."

She wouldn't mind that this was the case. She looks back quite fondly on her beauty pageant days. Her involvement in pageants stretches back to when she was just a little girl. At the tender age of five her mama asked her this was something she'd be interested in doing and she told her with much enthusiasm that it WAS something she wanted to do.

This wasn't a surprised to many. From an early age, Miss Georgia craved being in the spotlight and would take every chance she got to show off something she had just learned whether is was how she could do cartwheels or a new song she had learned to sing.

One glance at Miss Georgia and you could tell she was a beauty queen - you didn't even need for her to tell you this. She carried herself in such a way there was no doubt about it. Upon meeting her, many were surprised to learned she had graduated from one of the Ivy schools with a degree in Finance and Masters in Business Administration. She had considered Law School at one point, but decided to hold off on that for the time being. Needless to say, Miss Georgia proved that beauty and brains could exist in one package. She was a young, successful business woman whom appeared to be unstoppable.

Outside of work, Miss Georgia was a thrill seeker who found a lot of her adventures in the great outdoors. An athlete to the core, by the age of 26 she had completed many events such as Iron Man and various other triathlons. She also enjoyed a marathon here and there as well. She participated in many of these event with her fiance as he too was an avid thrill seeker/athlete himself.

Amongst all the great quality that Miss Georgia possessed, what stood out to me was her kind, humble nature. You could sense that though she knew how awesome she was, she somehow remained grounded and awfully thankful for all the blessings she had received in her life. She appeared to never take these things for granted and gave thanks every day for them. Ultimately, her mission in life was to make people smile and feel as blessed as she did.

She was unlike any beauty queen I had ever met - one that definitely broke the mold, and had a good time doing so.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Closet Jazz Singer

Her name is Vivian. By day she's an account and someone who doesn't really stand out in the crowd. You don't find her in clothes that standout in any way, shape or form. Blending into the background is her thing. Well, at least during the day, that is... Night time is a different story.

For the last decade, Vivian has been singing four nights a week at a hole-in-the-wall jazz club that gets just enough business to remain open, but not one that is very well-known. Her trademark look is a Stencilled Ostrich and Marabou Shawl that adorns metallic flecks amongst the many feathers. She also carries with her a matching Marabou Fan. At every performance she wears black sunglasses with rhinestones on the stems, a gaudy rhinestone necklace and earrings, and bright red lipstick. Vivian is not a tall woman - only 5'1". To compensate for this she wears heels; sometimes as high as 3".

What I love most about Vivian is that no one expects her to be such a fantastic singer. When people find out she's a jazz singer the look at her with disbelief and skepticism; however, once she starts doing her thing jaws drop and haters become quick fans.

To me, Vivian is a great example of why it's best not to judge a book by its cover.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Breaking the Rules

It's day five of my quest to post an entry every day during the month of November.

As I went through my day I thought of many things I'd like to write about, however now that the day is almost over none of them seem doable in such a short time crunch. This caused me to turn to BlogHer to see what the writing prompt of the day was for today. Once I got the site it came to my attention that prompts only go up Monday thru Friday, and weekends are free days.

"Free days???" I thought to myself. Hmmm... I didn't realize that we couldn't write about whatever we wanted in the first place. That's pretty much what I've been doing thus far.

So, I guess this makes me a rule breaker....

Friday, November 4, 2011

Funky Foto


Back in September I went on a tour of Angelic Organics Farm in Caledonia, IL. During that visit I took a massive amount of pictures; however, at the time I didn't know where my card reader was so I couldn't download them until I found it. Thankfully, I solved that problem fairly quickly. The next issue was finding time to sort through all of them. This turned-out to be a bit more difficult resolved.

I still haven't looked at all the picture and weeded out the ones I want to work on vs. those that will just be deleted. I did, however, come across the picture below that jumped right out at me .... After the main tour was over, my friends and I were treated to an additional "VIP" tour of sorts since we had done some Pro Bono work for their learning center. This included getting to see where those that come to visit the farm stay and the areas where employees gather periodically to relax and kick-back. Below is a picture of something that caught my eye during this part of the day.



There is something about the combination of items in continues to draw me in time, and time, and time again. I haven't been able to put my finger on why and it is possible I will never know for sure. I do, however, know it captivates me and for now that is all that matters.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

#whatwentwelltoday

It was before facebook and Twitter.... MySpace .... and even Friendster.

The first social networking site I was an active member of was a Human Resources community called HRMAN. It was not only a place for me to go ask HR related question, but a place to develop relationships with ours within the profession. More often than not, the message board I spent the most time on was the random chatter lists. Every Friday there was a post call "Three Good Things." This is where you could voluntarily share with the group three things that were good about your week. As one might imagine, some weeks were easier than others; however, I always posted to the thread because I wanted to make sure I also recognized the good things about the week - not just the bad - even if this meant post that the fact that it was Friday three times was my good thing for the week. One day I went to the site to find that the it had been hacked to the point major work on the site had to be done. This saddened me. This was a happy place for me. In the weeks to come, for various reasons, a decision not to relaunch the board was made. I had tried to do the whole "Three Good Things" here and there, but for some reason it was never the same.

Every Thursday, myself and three of my friends blog about the same topic. We each take turns on picking the topic. This week, it was my turn to decide what we would be writing about. The topic I picked is based upon a similar type of posting as the "Three Good Things" story I just shared. It's based upon the hash tag "#whatwentwelltoday" that is circulating around Twitter. The idea is that you post what went well during your day and then add the hash tag "#whatwentwelltoday" so it is searchable by others.

My request was that all my fellow bloggers keep a list of what went well for five days. If they wished to share this in their post they were more than welcome to, but I wasn't about to forces them as I realize some of them might be personal. I then asked to write about their experience with having to record what went well during those day. I asked them to think about if it was hard for them to think of things that went well, did it change how they looked at their days and is it something they think they'll keep doing.

Before I share my thoughts on those items, I will happily share my list of things I've tweeted for the past two weeks. (Please note, that since I've been tweeting these things they are all 140 characters long and don't fully express EVERYTHING that went well during my day; however, I think it gives you a decent snap-shot.)

11/2 - Car is fixed, exploring a new career path and enjoyed the lovely weather.

11/1 - Finished the presentation for my voluntr project meeting & enjoyed the awesome weather.

10/31- The perfect last day.

10/30 - Great run, more focused practice, started planning races for 2012 and yummy dinner.

10/29 - PT helped me laugh at myself, enjoyed a Chai Latte and got a "free" hug from a random stranger.

10/28 - Spent more time catching-up with Steve, and Cass. Finalized my last day.

10/27 - Caught up with Steve, caught up with M, received thoughtful text from E.

10/26 - I have Hummus and Challah in my possession.

10/25 - My volunteer team is 2 wks ahead of schedule, there r wonderful peeps in my life who care abt me & dinner will b frm VT.

10/24 - Enjoyed the nice weather.

10/23 - Productive meeting this morning, spent time at Lake Ellyn and got some time to knit.

10/22 - Slept-in, had a low-key day, got USARS card, met-up with Deb.


Part of the reason I started participating in this "whatwentwelltoday" trend has to do with the fact that there have been moments over the past weeks where so many people have been getting on my case about things that were completely out of my control and that I needed a way to focus what was good in my world - and this was it. Like with the "Three Good Things," I'm completely hooked on "whatwentwelltoday." I look forward to sitting down and pointing out the high points of my day .... and if there wasn't a high point, then I enjoy finding at least one good thing that "went well;" even if that thing is the fact that the day is over and it is time to rest.

It's been my goal this year to change my outlook on things. It's been my goal to recognize the good rather than the bad - especially when times get tough and it feels like all that is taking place in my life is just a clusterfuck of craptastic events. Over all, I feel I have, for the most part, accomplished this goal. I feel like little things like posting what went well during my days is just one more things I can do to support this goal to shift my perspective of the world around me.

I hope that I will continue to post on my Twitter feed what went well for sometime to come, however I'm not sure how long it will really be. If, and when, I do stop posting it to Twitter, I hope I don't stop keeping track of it personally. Aside from the fact that it helps me stay focused on the good and not the bad, it's also nice to have a record of my days.


As for today, "what went well" is as follows:

11/3 - Picked up my car and it drives beautifully, Strike class kicked my ass but I had a blast, I got a rare alignment of the heavens that I hope will continue for sometime.


Now that I've shared my thoughts with you on this topic, please take a moment to read what my fellow bloggers have to say on #whatwentwelltoday in their worlds:

Me!!! (Melissa)

Parenting: a special kind of crazy (Susanna)

Momarock (Sara)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Beginning of a New Chapter

"When one door closes, another one opens."

This past Sunday, I blogged about how I was coming to the end of another chapter in my life. In that entry I commented that I wasn't sure when the next chapter of my life story would begin, but I was looking forward to what it had in store for me. (Ok, maybe I didn't put that last part in, but if I didn't, I should have.)

Today I signed-up for the beginning the next chapter of my life. It's not a total fix for the most predominant life matter taking place at the moment here in Froggieland, but it will start to expose me to a new industry and potentially be the beginning of a career transition.

In February 2010, I wrote about my thoughts on G-d's Plan For Your Life. I wasn't keen on writing about this topic, but it was for a Thursday blogging group that I was part of (and am still part of) so after pouting about it for awhile, I did what I had to do to get through the entry. Like many entries that I find uber-sensitive I kept what I wrote personal, but not super specific. Prior to writing this post, I reread my thoughts on G-d's plan for my life. In the post the last line I wrote was, "Regardless, this is G-d's plan for me and one day it will all make sense . . . Or, at least that is what I am banking on." After today, and two years of not knowing where this was all leading, I am pleased to say I "think" things are beginning to make sense. (Or at least, I have more faith in the process.)

I'm looking forward to seeing what adventures this next chapter takes me on. I'm looking forward to seeing where it leads me in my life and ultimately what I take away from the experience.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaBloPoMo ... Or in other words, it's National Blog Posting Month

Today I learned that November is National Blog Posting Month. The idea is to post an entry to your blog daily over the course of a month. Once upon a time, this use to be the norm for me, however life got busy and at times I struggle to come up with ideas for my entries. Once I heard about NaBloPoMo I immediately wanted to join the fun.

The timing was perfect! Today is the first day I'm posting to my new blog. I felt it would be a good way for me to recommit to blogging on more regular basis. Also, it gave me a platform to launch this new blog vs. posting some cliche "about me" introduction post. My inspiration for this post comes from the ladies at Blogher.com.

Today's Blogher writing prompt is: What is your favourite part about writing?

I struggle with writing. I always have. A lot of my frustration stems from the fact that I have a learning disability that affects my writing and reading comprehension.

I fell in love with writing during the summer of 1998 while I was a Public Relations intern at an adoption agency/maternity home in Ft. Worth, TX. Early on, my boss picked up on the fact that I did my darnedest to avoid anything that involved writing. This only caused me to get writing assignments up the you know where... It took awhile, but before I knew something just clicked, and I found myself seeking out as many writing assignments as I could get. This even yielded me a nice little portfolio of press clippings.

It shouldn't be a shock to me that I enjoy writing so much. My middle brother is a writer, and my father enjoyed writing as well (something I didn't know until summer 2010).

There are several things I enjoy about writing. It gives me an outlet to tell stories and express my thoughts and feeling on various topics. I like to think that what I have to say might help someone through a similar situation, or make him or her feel less alone in this crazy world. Or, possibly it's just as simple as someone finding entertainment from my writings. I also enjoy experimenting with various writing formats. Writing speaks to my creative. Lastly, one of my favourite things about writing is the satisfaction I feel when I find just the right words to express what I want to say. This is especially important when it comes to writing about things that mean a lot to me.

Happy National Blog Posting Month to my fellow Bloggers!