Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I'm Now Known as Anna S. (11.5 years & 52 flights of stairs)

I can picture it just like it was yesterday.  However, in reality it was 11.5 years ago.

I had just moved back to the Chicagoland area and was on one of my first dates since my return.  Somehow, someway during the course of conversation I started telling my date about a stair climb event called "Hustle Up the Hancock".  It was organized and benefited the Respiratory Health Association which is in the Chicagoland area.  Completing such an event sounded like my cup of tea... Especially considering the fact at the time I aspired to complete a 5k race.  Of course, neither happened that year... or the next ... or the next .... or the.... well, I'm sure you get the picture.

A few weeks ago, I was asked if I would like to join my friend's Hustle Up the Hancock half climb (52 flights of stairs) team.  Wow!  Talk about random and unexpected.  I did not see that one coming.  Especially considering that I hadn't thought about HUTH in a very long time.  At first I hesitated.  For several reasons.  First, there was a chance I was suppose to be in Indianapolis for a book event thing.  Second, the event took place on the same day as Purim, and quite frankly Purim is my FAVORITE Jewish holiday so missing the celebration is a HUGE deal to me.  Lastly, and probably the most important reason, I wasn't 100% sure I was in good enough physical condition to successfully climb 52 flights of stairs.

At this point in time I feel it's important to share with you that I am probably in the best shape physically that I have been in ever in my life.  Sure, I've be lighter than I currently, but I can't say the weight has ever come off the best way. (I don't believe the American Medical Association will ever endorse what I call "the stress diet".) 

So there I was trying to make a decision.  Then, I decided the circumstances leading up to me being asked was a sign that I WAS in fact ready.  That's when I decided to join my friend's team.

This past Sunday was the 2013 Hustle Up the Hancock event at the John Hancock Building in downtown Chicago.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous.  Seriously, what would you think if you made the decision to climb the stairs of this builiding?

John Hancock Building (center), Chicago, IL

Yeah, that's what I thought!  Really, I know it wasn't the full climb, which is 94 flights of stairs, but 52 flights is still pretty intimidating.  However, I wasn't going to back out.  If anything I'm sure the event had proper medical staffing "just in case".  Since the event attracts so many people, participants are assigned a "wave" time.  The team I was part of was scheduled for 9 AM.  If you ask me, that a good time.  We didn't have to get up the crack, crack ass of dawn to get there for the 7-something wave, but weren't assigned to the last wave which started at 2:30 in the afternoon.  (If you ask me, having to wait around all day would have sucked.)

Once my friend and I were at the John Hancock building, and our coats were checked our next order of business was to find our team members.  This was a bit challenging given the number of people at the event at any given time.  All I can say is that the below pictures don't really show the massive amount of people at the event, but it at that the very least give you an idea...

Random people...

More random people...

After waiting for an hour/hour and a half it was finally my team's turn to head to our starting point.  Cue an even more massive surge of nerves than I had waiting around. 

Once in the service areas of the building, we were taken up to the 42 floor - halfway up the building, and our starting point.  this is where I went into race mode.  My earphones were on and I was focused on "psyching-up" for what I was about to attempt.  Doing this was a bit difficult being in a group.  Everyone was talking to one another and I didn't want to totally ignore my team members. 

Instead of sending participants up all at the same time, each individual was sent up approximately 8 seconds after the person in front of them.  Before you could go, the guy from the timing place had to enter your number.  Because I had to be different, I wore my number on my leg.  I picked this up from S during the various events we've participated in.  Once the guy realized where my number was he entered it and I was told I could go.  As I made my way to the door I took this picture of my starting time.  Can you tell the exact time I started at?

9:.... ????

If you can, please comment because I couldn't tell you.  (Taking the picture seemed like a good idea, in theory.) 

So, I was off.  The 5 -10 flights were nothings.  This was a surprise to me.  Then, I started to get winded.  My throat got dry which made me wish I had brought some gum or a mint to suck on to keep my throat moist.  It was somewhere around floor 72 that I realized I might actually complete the task at hand.  At that point I had made it up 30 flights of stairs.  There were only 22 more flights to go!  As I rounded the corner to get to floor 94 I saw the finish line ahead of me.  I have to admit, this put an extra prep into my step.  As I crossed the finish line I was awarded this finishers metal:

I climbed 52 flights of stairs, bitches!!!

Ok, I know it's "just" a finishers metal and not because I placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd in any category, but damn it I am REALLY proud of this metal. 

After I stopped climbing stairs, the shock of what I just did really hit my body and I have to admit I didn't feel well for a moment.  Thankfully, taking in water helped me feel better.  The other thing I felt while recovery was a HUGE sense of pride.  I mean even more than when I first finished.  As I was taking in the magnificent views of the Chicago skyline, it hit me I had just accomplished a goal I set 10 years ago.  I thought of that date where I mentioned the event.  At that moment I shed a tear.  It was the same way I teared up when I completed my first 5k.  I had just done something that I had only talked about for years... and years... and years .... and ... well, you get the picture. 

Of course I texted every person I could possibly think would appreciate what I had just done.  I also updated my Facebook timeline like I was doing prior to the race.

Like other "big" accomplishments, I cannot put into words what doing this has meant to me.  What I can say is that it has given me the drive to attempt even larger event such as a 103 flight stair climb event and a 10 mile run.

Oh, for Purim I was "Anna S.".  You are probably wondering who Anna S. is.  Who she is exactly will only be known by my close friends and family, and my team members.  What I will say about Anna is that she gave me the opportunity to fulfill my 11.5 year ambition of climbing 52 flights of stairs. 

One of the MANY magnificent views I took in while recovering from the climb.
For that I am thankful!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Bottomless Pit of Junk

This week for the Thursday Blog Project, Susanna asked us to take a look into our purse and figure out: What is in your purse? Empty out you bag, did you find anything surprising? What does this say about you?

A HUGE thank you to Susanna for having us do this!  I've been wanting (meaning) to clean out my purse for sometime, but alas I haven't.  However, knowing what we were suppose to write about for today, I FINALLY took the time to clean out my purse.

After I removed what seemed like an endless amount of receipts and unused Kleenex (man that makes me feel like I'm a grandma or something),  I found some things that surprised me...

First off, apparently I have more cosmetics than I profess to have.  In my purse was three tubes of lip gloss (all the same color).  Now it's not a coincidence that I have three of them.  The color is a really good color on me and when I got a Sephora gift certificate for my bday this past November I figured this was my chance to stock up... ya know, just in case of a zombie apocalypses, or something like that.  However, I also have two chap sticks in my purse, a tube of mascara and some facial powder.

As I cleaned out my purse I also found the faceplate and remote to my car radio.  I wasn't surprised by this discovery.  Since I almost always have my purse with me in the car it makes sense that I drop these items in my purse before I exit.  I can't imagine another place I'd put them.

Other things to pop-up during this great purge are miscellaneous items like stamps and spare change.  Oh, next to receipts I also keep a lot of pens in my purse - apparently.  Apple product power cords seem to be another staple in my purse.  I'm not totally surprised about this considering my radio has a USB port I can connect my phone to.  I never carried this in my purse prior to getting the new radio though. 

Since my purse is somewhat large, I carry a lot of books in my purse.  I appreciate that the size of the purse allows me to do this, but at the same time when my purse is filled to the brim (which books typically cause it to be) I don't like the way it looks.

At the end of the day, I love purses.  Whether it's a conservative one (like my recent acquisition) or a fun one (like my seat belt bags) purses are one of the things I like about being a women.  It's just another way I get to show the world of a piece of my personality.

Now that I've talked a bit about what is in my purse, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have in their purses...

 •  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

•  Momarock (Sara)

•  Mom of Many (Susanna)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Current "Crush"

Once upon a time I use to "farm".  Now I don't know if people still "farm", but if you have, or still do, then you know what I'm talking about.  You might have not "farmed", but you still knows what I mean.  Then there is the group that never "farmed", nor will they have and have no clue what I'm talking about. With that in mind I will say: I use to be a Farmville fanatic.

Farmville was the first Facebook group I really got into.  So much so that I would plan my crops around my daily schedule.  However, eventually I stopped playing that game.  A year or two later it was Zuma that I was hooked on.  Zuma was a little different from Farmville in that it was a game I use to play a lot when I had access to an Xbox 360.  So, even though I was playing the game via Facebook it was something I became hooked outside of that platform.

My recent gaming "crush" is on the game Candy Crush Saga.  In the simply put, Candy Crush Saga is a puzzle game where you crush candy to create special sweets such as striped candy, wrapped candy and rainbow candy.  On some levels the object is to attain a particular score, on others it's to break all the "jellies".

Beside this being a puzzle game, the marketing side of me can't help kicking in.  If you play this game with the music and sound effects it's hard not to miss words like "delicious"  being used throughout.  Part of me wonders how many people end up craving candy after playing this game with those sound effects going.  Personally, I ended up turning them off because they were starting to annoy me, and I didn't want to take the chance that I would start craving candy.

I hardly eat candy anymore... or at least not as much as I use to eat it.  The only candy I have these days are Starburst Jelly Beans and even when I eat those I only eat one serving - at the most.  I mention all this as for the Thursday Blog Project Melissa asked us to write about:  Candy.

Now that I've told you about my "candy crush", please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say about the topic:

 •  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

•  Momarock (Sara)

•  Mom of Many (Susanna)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Confessions of a Clubbing Diva?

On many occasions, I've written about songs that have meaning for me.  In 2011, I took on the Facebook 30 day song challenge by writing about each of my selection on my blog.  In a prior Thursday Blog Project I wrote about some of my favorite songs.  This week, for the Thursday Blog Project, Sara asked us to write about: When you hear certain songs, who do they make you think of, and why?

I uttered the phrase, "When I was in my 20's..." a lot today.  I mean so much I could have made some good money if I was paid a dollar for each time I said it.  As I sat tonight trying to write about the "other" dedication I was going to make for this week's topic my mind began to wander ... Next thing I knew I was thinking about the clubbing I use to do in when I was "in my 20's".  Of course I had to play some of my favorite clubbing favorites.  As soon as I heard these tunes all the great memories of of my clubbing days came flooding back.

One of my friends once said to me they were glad Facebook wasn't around when we were in college and in our 20's.  I concurred with that statement.  SO, SO, SO glad!  The only witnesses to the indiscretions of that time period are the friends who where there to witness it.

Most of the time, club outings were with good friends who weren't surprised by my clubbing ways; however, there was periodically the rare occasion when I would let someone see a less reserved side of me.... needless to say this came as a shock to these folks.

Though I have countless stories from those days, the one that makes me smile the most was when I went to a club in Tel Aviv.  That night was EPIC!  Anyone from my tour that saw me that night didn't look at me the same for the remainder of the trip. (I guess that's what happens when the quiet one comes out of their shell.)  I can still see the look on our group's armed soldier's face when she saw me dancing.  The next day, she said to me "I saw you last night."  (Those were the only words she uttered to me the whole trip.)  Our tour guide made a comment to me as well.  (Again, I guess that's what happens when you are the "quiet one" and you break out of your shell for a moment.)  Needless to say, anyone who was on the tour with me who saw me that night never saw me the same way from there on out.)

These days, the only dancing I do is when I'm home.  It's been awhile since I've been out dancing, but not as long as many as some would think. However, truth be told the last time I did go out dancing it wasn't quite the same as the days that I speak of in this post.  So, I'm choosing to dedicate this post to my clubbing day.  To my friends who joined me on those outings and the great adventures we use to have.  And to the individual who made my night out at that Tel Aviv night club.... unforgettable!

(And yes, I realize I've been awfully vague in this post and there aren't many confessions, but some things are best confessed offline.)

Though isn't the song that will forever define my Israel trip, it is the song I think of when I reminisce about "the good ol' days".

Now that I've made my song dedication, please take a moment to read about my fellow bloggers dedications:

•  Momarock (Sara)

 •  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

•  Mom of Many (Susanna)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Book Review: Friendships Don't Just Happen

Over the past three years, I've come to the conclusion that I take for granted a lot of my life-long friendships.

I've made this statement several times before on this blog, but it is something that I have to remind myself of, otherwise I fear I will forget it.  The other thing I have to remember is that these people, who I now cherish and turn to without so much as a blink of an eye, were once strangers to me at one time, as well, which is another reason why I believe I mention it so often.  However, today I mention this fact for a different reason.  Today I want to talk about a special book called Friendships Don't Just Happen by Shasta Nelson.

If I had to guess, I will always look back upon my life-long friendships with such fondness, not only because I have a really awesome group of individuals I can call friends, but also because of how easy it was for me to make friends "back then".  Take how I met my best friend...  On the second or third day of day camp when we were about 10 years old, I asked this girl with curly, blonde hair what it was like to have braces on.  Ever since then, we've been a part of the others life - in some way, shape or form.  As an adult, opportunities like those just don't present themselves as often as they do when we are younger.

So what is someone to do if, as an adult, they want to make new friends?  Making friends as an adult isn't easy, but I feel like understanding them is just as difficult.  As kids, I suspect, we don't take the time to truly understand what friendship and how friendships form because we are simply not mature enough question it.  However, as adults with many life changes, we find ourselves in more and more situations where we begin to question why it was so "easy" to form friendships when we were younger.

This is where I direct your attention to Friendships Don't Just Happen. One of the things I like most about this book is the way it's structured.  Broken into three sections, Shasta first talks to readers about friends, frientimacy and why it's an important part of life.  Then the second section looks at how we turn friendly people we meet into friends.  Then, last, but surely not least, she focuses how being intentional about continuing friendships plays a role, too. 

I happen to be familiar with Shasta Nelson's work through her website  Over the past several months, I've read and watched videos created by Shasta and I have say she has such a wonderful caring tone to these works.  So, it doesn't come as much of a surprise to me that this tone was carried through to her book as well. 

Though geared towards women, I feel that Friendships Don't Just Happen talks about a lot of universal themes that can also be applied to men, as well.

Thanks to Shasta for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Brand Loyal?

This week for the Thursday Blog project, I asked the group to write about brand loyalty.  More specifically: This week is about brand loyalty. Is it a good thing? Bad thing? Is there a brand(s) that it would take a vast shift in the universe to get you to stop using?"
I am, without a doubt, often brand loyal.  When I find something that works for me, getting me to change is difficult.  See, though there some people have the perception that I LOVE change, the truth of the matter is that I don't.  If I find something that works for me (in any area of my life) I stick with it.  It would take a massive shift in the universe to get me to change.

Normally I'd tell you that this is a good thing.  If you find something that works for you stick with it.  However, recently I discovered the "model" of running shoe I've been wearing for the past year and a half has been discontinued.  I was devastated.  Of course, my first thought was to either find one of the last remaining pairs in the world to replace my shoes that are nearing the end of their life, but then I thought maybe I would just try the new "model" of the shoe.  Why would I even consider trying a different brand?

"Why would I even consider trying a different brand?"  As I was browsing the Asics site (the brand of running shoe I wear) I began asking myself that questions.  The only answer I could come up with was that it was a brand I was familiar with and worked for me so why wouldn't I buy another pair?  Then... I began to wonder what I was missing.  S does love her New Balance shoes...  That's when I decided maybe it was time to just look at other brands.  I figure at the very least it will reconfirm my commitment to Asics.

This back and forth is what I go through with other items - especially when it's a pricey purchase.  Though I always look for the best price I can get on things, what I've learned over the years is that if I'm going to invest the money in something I'd rather invest some extra money and know I'm going to get good quality than take the cheaper route and end up buying the same thing again sooner than I would have with something a bit more expensive.

I guess at the end of the day by loyalty to a brand depends on how much I like that brand.

Now that I've given you some of my thoughts on brand loyalty, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say about it:

 •  Momarock (Sara)

•  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

•  Mom of Many (Susanna)