Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's Not Gross At All!

This week's Thursday Blog Project topic, compliments of Sara, is: Tell us about something you really love that others can’t relate to.

When I first saw this topic all I could think was "Crap Monkey! I have no freakin' clue what I could share for this one."  Then, as I was talking to Melissa this evening it hit me like a bolt of lighting.  

I love breakfast foods.  I mean LOVE them.  Especially hashed browns.  I am very specific about how they are prepared.  I like them extra, extra, extra crispy.  I usually throw in the third "extra" because most of the time places cook hashed browns enough to heat them up so the third "extra" is to emphasize that I want crispy hashed browns.  Not burnt hashed brown, crispy hashed browns.  

Okay, so you're probably wondering what this has to do with the topic and why I'm going on about hashed browns.  Here is why... Once my plate arrives with my crispy hashed browns the next step, in my mind, to hashed brown perfection is to put maple syrup on top of them.  

This is where I pause so you can take in how grossed out you are by this combination..... 

If you are grossed out by this combination, you're in good company.  Most people are.  So grossed out by it that I typically  explain what I'm about to do right before I pour the syrup on top of the browns. There are, however, a few people who were intrigued by this combination the first time they saw it and tried it for themselves only to find out they too love it as much as I do.

To those that are grossed out by it, I try to explain it's the combination of sweet and salty mixed with a hint of grease.

So there you are.... Hashed browns with maple syrup on top is one thing that I LOVE that others can't relate to.

Now that I've talked about my one odd love, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers love:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Are you my Hero or a Zero?

For this week’s Thursday Blog topic, Denise chose: Is there a celebrity scandal that would really upset you, simply because you love that celebrity/hold him or her in high esteem? Has it already happened? If there’s no celebrity, is there a person in your real life like that?

This topic was inspired by the Bill Cosby rape accusations that are currently playing out in the media.  I have to admit, I didn't want to believe them.  There is no way "Dr. Huxtable" was a serial rapist.  No way!  No how!  I refuse to believe it!  However, once I got over my initial shock I realized that it COULD be possible.

With all that said, I'm not going to express my thoughts on the Bill Cosby matter in great detail, but I have admit it did shock me when I first heard the reports.

I'm not sure what other celebrities/high profile individuals would shock/upset me as well.  The person in my real life I would be most shocked about is The Mensch.  Over the years I've used a lot of nicknames for the people in my life I write about to protect their privcacy, however using the nickname for The Mensch is not all about privacy, it is also because this person is the epitome of a mensch.

The Mensch is someone who just randomly came into my life earlier this year and I cannot say enough wonderful things about him.  His family, and all those who come in contact with him - including me - are so fortunate.  With that in mind, I could NEVER in a million years imagine The Mensch doing something that wasn't above board or scandalous.

Now, don't get me wrong, he's not perfect.  However, again, I just can't imagine it and if something were to come out.  Yeah, my world would be shattered.  The mensch is just one of many I feel that way about.

  On the flip side, there have been people I've known that were accused of crimes and at first I was freaked out, but then thought, "Yeah, I can totally see them doing that."  I think the thing that freaked me out the most was when I was asked to write a character letter for a person who was charged with a crime.  Yeah... there is a very short list of people I would do write that kind of letter for and this person was not one of them.

Now that I've talked about my thoughts on this topic, please see what my fellow bloggers have to say: 

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


It's been sometime since I participated in the Thursday Blog Project - and even this one is late.  Unfortunately, it isn't the first time I've had a gap in posting like this, but I guess this is one of those times when I have to say "it is what it is." (Man! I don't like that saying, yet it's so fitting.)

The inspiration for this week's topic: Unimaginable, was taken from Dina Silver, an author I recently interviewed for Chick Lit Central. I felt like it was fitting since 2014 has been such an amazing year for me.  Seriously, I would have never imagined the adventures I'd be taking, the opportunities I'd get and the amazing people that would come into my life.

Since I mentioned Chick Lit Central, I'll start there.  I'm still working for CLC.  I'm not as involved as I use to be, or that I want to be for that matter.  Hopefully I'll get more involved again in the near future.  In the meantime, I'm still conducting author interviews - which is something I really enjoy.  I've done this over the years for fun and to get experience with journalist interviewing with the hope that it would lead to freelance work.  Overtime, it's been great to have on my resume and has provided me with a lot of sample of my work.  At one point this experience landed me a Public Relations internship.  This year it landed me a freelance piece with the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago's magazine, JUF News.  I got the job through a "twist of fate" type situation and was so excited when it happened.  It was especially exciting because the author I got to interview, Maggie Anton, is someone whose characters are strong, Jewish women.  The timing was perfect as I tried to figure out where my feminist beliefs fit in with my newly obtained religious practice. It was an "unimaginable" thing to be doing.

Of course training for, participating in and finishing the Chicago Marathon was unimaginable as well.  I still can't believe I got a lottery space and really followed through to the finish line.  Okay, yes, I am someone who does everything in their power to make something happen when they really want it, but like I've said before I didn't know I wanted it, or for that matter how badly I wanted it, until it was right in front of me.  Whenever I think of this accomplishment, I smile and feel a lot of pride.  I also feel like a rock star.  I also look forward to the other marathons I do in the coming years.

This year also found me propelled forward career wise - to a degree.  It's been a nice push.  When the first set of events took place that caused this forward motion I wasn't sure it was for the best, but I stayed strong, and positive, that it was going somewhere better.  As I currently navigate through further unknown circumstances I remain positive that I'm heading in the right direction.  In terms of my volunteer work, I was recently appointed to be the Account Director for a Taproot Foundation project for the third time.  In addition to the fact that I love being in the AD role, this time the client I'm working with is very well-known in the area and internationally.  It's very surreal and I'm so thankful to be given this opportunity.  I hope I can arise to the occasion!

Lastly, as I look back on 2014, I think about all the amazing people I have in my life.  Like with other years people have come and gone over the past year, however I truly feel the ones who are stayed are amazing and it's unimaginable to have them in my life. 

Also, this summer my BFF and I marked 27 years of friendship.  Though I hate singling people out, I'm going to because ... well, she's my BFF.  This particular year I feel our friendship has reach a new level of love, admiration and respect.  To mark this year's Friendaversary we recreated on of our favorite pictures from our childhood when I visited her this past Fall.  It is unimaginable that there was ever a time we didn't know one another and that we actually didn't talk for a period of time.  I'm truly fortunate to have her in my life.

Now that I have talked about the Unimaginable, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say on the topic:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Victory Lap

Thursday Blog Project Topic: Have you ever won anything? If so, tell us about it. If not, tell us about something you'd love to win. 

Disclaimer: I did not even come close to winning the Chicago Marathon.

My last conversation prior to the Chicago Marathon with my brother and sister-in-law Alan & Ann was on Thursday, September 25th.  I had been at their home for Rosh Hashanah dinner that evening.  I'm typically the last to leave their house in recent months which might have something to do with how close we've become over the past couple years and as strange as it may seem my training for the Chicago Marathon tighten the bond even more.  Here is why...

Since living in the city, I've had great access to all the different cultural experiences such as the Opera at the Lyric, art exhibits at the Art Institute and Civic Orchestra concerts at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  Sure, these are all things I could have done while living in the burbs, but now that I have access to more public transportation options what use to be a hour trip to and from based on a rigid train schedule is now a half hour trip with two different train systems to utilize.  As the months have gone on, I've shared my comings and goings with my family which includes A & A.  Being symphony patrons for many years, they were delightfully surprised to hear of my interest in such an art form.  One evening in June, my brother A and I attended a Chamber Orchestra concert together as my sil was unable to attend.  During the evening, my brother, who was once a runner as well, shared with me that he had always wanted to race, but never did because he knew there was no way he would ever win a race and knew that he couldn't settle for just finishing.  He told me he impressed with me for racing in the first place.  I was taken aback.  I was amazed.  I had always wondered why Alan never raced, however I figured it just didn't interest him.

In the months to come I'd have similiar conversation with Alan including one about two and a half months before the marathon where he told me how impressed he was with all the training I was doing and that I was taking on a marathon.  My heart stopped.  The brother whom I had looked up to for so many years, the one whom impressed me and whom I admired was impressed with me.

At that moment I wished more than anything in the world that I could share my marathon experience with him.  I wished more than anything that his knee that caused him to end his running tenure was a-okay.  I wished that he had in fact raced all these years and a marathon, with his sister, was the next step for him.  But alas, that was not the case.

In the weeks that followed that conversation I struggled with what I could do to honor my brother and all he has meant to me.  I struggled with how I could make his marathon dream come true.

About two weeks before the marathon, as I was saying goodbye to Alan and Ann after Rosh Hashanah dinner Ann said to me, "No matter what happens at the marathon, you are a winner."  I smiled.  Alan, who was standing a few feet away from us, was leaning against a wall.  After Ann was done he said, "She's gonna finish." I glanced at him to see his admiration and confidence in me shining through.  That night it hit me how I was going to take him along with me for the upcoming journey.

The week before the marathon was a very busy and emotional week for me.  Up until that point the whole idea of completing a marathon was hypothetical in my mind.  Sure, sure, I had completed the 20-mile race which is part of the training program; however, we were talking 26.2 mile, not 20.  The jump in mileage wasn't the only thing heightening my emotions.  In additional to that, the fact that I had no only dared to dream of taking on such a challenge, but actually trained for it had set in.  In the days leading up to the marathon I truly realized all that I had achieved just by getting myself ready for such a undertaking.  It was at that point I began to appreciate and give thanks for how far I had come in the past 6 years not only physically, but as a person as well.  I gave thanks for all the obstacles I had overcome and how I don't give a crap monkey's uncle about all the haters over the past years who made me feel like shit.  I realized I wasn't the one with the problem - they were (are).

The Tuesday night before the marathon, the charity team I was part of had a pre-race celebratory dinner.  At this gathering the head of the team spoke and shared with us the once again the words he spoke when we all gathered for the first time back in May.  He told us to enjoy the experience.  That we've done all the work and that Sunday was the victory lap.

On Sunday, October 12, 2014 at approximately 8:26... 7... 8... I began to approach the Start Line of the Chicago Marathon.  I knew I wasn't going to win the race that day, but I also knew that I had won  so much more because at that moment I knew I was indeed ready to take on my victory lap.  It wasn't the first start line I had ever crossed, and I don't expect it to be the last; however to date it was the most meaningful and life changing one... and for that I have an extraordinary amount of gratitude.

Just moments away from the start of the victory lap!

Oh, and as for how I honored Alan....

We attempted to finish in 5:45, but fell short by roughly 11 minutes... next time!

Now that I've talked about my "winning" moment, please take a moment to read about my fellow bloggers big wins!

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Toasty Toes

Thursday Blog Project Topic for October 16: What are some of your favorite colder weather traditions?

It's starting to get chilly outside.  The length of the sleeves on my tops and the weight of the fabric has changed.  Light, short-sleeve tops are out.  Heavy, long-sleeve tops are in.  The other thing that is in style once again - knit socks and Doc Martens.

Every year as the average temperatures go down, I start to dig through my dresser drawers for the socks I've made over the past years.  Unfortunately, since I moved last summer I haven't kept great track of my socks which I say with much sadness.  Thankfully, they aren't all M.I.A. and I've been able to enjoy their comfy warmth.

Another "tradition" of sorts is making blankets during the colder months of the year.  Though I haven't done a lot of knitting in past months, my family is expecting a new member soon which means creating a blanket for the little one is a must.  Colder weather is a great time to knit blankets.  I mean, let's face it, as your making the blanket it's sitting on your lap keeping you warm.  It's the perfect cold weather project!

Now that I've talked about some of my favorite colder weather traditions, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say about their favorite traditions:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

10.12.14 05:56:19

"Every Mile Was Magnificent"

Friday, October 3, 2014

Wanting Something You Never Knew You Wanted Until It Was (Almost) Gone

The topic I choose for this week's Thursday Blog Project was: It's that moment where...

I've been thinking this statement a lot lately.  Sometimes the things are simple....

"It's that moment you realize you have an important dinner party to attend soon and a closet full of 'nothing to wear.'"

"It's that moment where you realize you know all the prompt number to push to not only access your voice mail, but also save messages without even looking at the buttons on the phone."

"It's that moment where you realize you treat your pet like you would a child."

This week a big one came to my mind...

"It's that moment where you realize you want something you never you wanted until it was (almost) gone."

This came to my mind Wednesday afternoon as I was walking to the gym to workout.  There are a mere only 9 days until the Chicago Marathon and my drive to run on a daily basis is wavering.

After completing a 20 mile race almost two weeks ago I was done with training.  At first I couldn't imagine how completing 20 miles meant I would rock-out 26.2.  I'm not the best at math, but that's an extra 6.2 miles to complete.  Anywhere from an hour or two depending on your pace.  However, somewhere around this past Wednesday a big part of me shifted and I knew that if I was able to finish 20 miles, I was ready to take on 26.2 miles.  (Note: I'm still not exactly sure how this actually makes logical sense, but it's how I feel.  It's actually how a lot of people I know doing the Chicago Marathon this year feel.)  This led me to thinking about the whole training process.  Where I was back in...
  •  March - when I entered the lottery.  
  •  April - when I got notified I was in the marathon.  
  •  May - when I knew I had to start training, but was in great denial of this fact. 
  •  June  - when I couldn't stop complaining about the ridged training schedule and how tired I was all the time.
  •  July - when a magical transition took place and suddenly training wasn't so hard after all and I wasn't tired all the time
  •  August - when I realized this was actually happening.
  •  September - when I began to recognize how this training process has changed me not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally.  How it has changed me as an overall person.
  •  Late September/ Early October (Now) - when I realized that this whole experience was something I never knew I wanted so badly until it was almost over.
During this whole time, I didn't want to take the journey to the start line of the Chicago Marathon for granted.  I wanted to live every moment possible and learn from it.  When you're in the throws of any intense process, such as training for a marathon, you can't see what you're getting out it the experience.

I'm still not sure everything I've gotten out of this training process.  How I've changed since the beginning of the year, however little different are peaking out of the woodwork.  And though I am starting to see those differences, I still look forward to meeting myself on October 12, 2014.  I'm sure more changes will come to light that day.

So once again, I say....

"It's that moment where you realize you want something you never you wanted until it was (almost) gone."

Now that I have talked about my "moment," please see what my fellow bloggers have to say about their moments:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hamevin Yavin

After I made the decision, I periodically had reservations about doing it.  There was a period of time between when I made the decision and actually moved forward with starting to execute the decision which would have made backing out really easy.

This past Sunday I took the biggest step forward with this decision.  Once again, I had my reservations, but I knew it was time to take one of the greatest step in the process.  So, I packed everything up and put it in my car.  As I started the car and left my parking space, I began to wonder if I was crazy for doing what I was about to do.  Thankfully, those thoughts went away as quickly as they had entered my mind.  I knew in my heart this was something I really wanted.

Upon arriving at my destination, I was greeted by a white piece of paper taped to the door stating the facility was closed until further notice.

WTF?!?! Was this a sign?  Maybe I shouldn't do this after all. 

I got back in my car, texted my friends who knew what I was doing and regrouped.  I knew this wasn't the only place I could go to take care of the task at hand, but I thought it was the easiest location to get to because I was sure I wouldn't have to hassle with parking.  The thought of going home and calling it quits crossed my mind ever so briefly, but soon I realized where I needed to head next.

As I suspected, parking was a mess.  If I've come to learn at least one thing about living in the big, bad city it's that in most neighborhoods parking sucks.  Not only was Lakeview not an exception to this over generalization, but also was a perfect example of how bad parking in the city could be - morning, noon and night.

I knew where I was going had a parking lot, but it was hidden amongst all the cars and moving vans that lined the narrow streets.

(Side note: not only does parking sucks even more in the city on the last and first day of any given month, but driving on city streets does as well while city folk play the residential version of musical chairs.)

After making a few loops around the local blocks - at least once because I didn't turn on the right street and another time because I couldn't find the entrance to the parking lot - I finally parked my car and took out the bags I had so carefully placed in the backseat of my car.

Sigh, this is really worth it, I told myself as I futzed with the code lock on the door.  Seriously?!  After all that I've gone through the freaking lock isn't working?  Wait, am I remembering the code correctly?

Just like the other facility I went to earlier in the day there was a sign on the door, however this time it instructed individuals to call the main office should they need the code for the lock.  Even though I could swear I was remembering the code correctly, I called the main office just in case.  There was just one little problem... all I got was a recording.  No prompt to get the code.  No live person to tell me what I needed to do differently.  I was ready to give up... again.

Then I decided to try one last time.

The room in question was small.  A lot smaller than I had imagined it would be.  Sure, I wasn't expecting a penthouse, but the space was limiting.  It was also warm and humid and felt a lot like the weather outside.  Again, I shouldn't have been surprised.  I guess I just expected more ventilation - and central air.  I put my purse down behind me and washed my hands before starting what I had come there to do.

I took the first item out of one of the bags.  I unwrapped it and placed it on the narrow ledge.  I repeated this again until I had at least six to eight items in front of me.  I lifted the first item and took off the price sticker and held it in my hand.  I took a deep breath and looked ahead of me at the blessing I was suppose to say before commencing with the task at hand.

As I dunked each and every item into the pool of water I did so with an excitement and sense of peace I never anticipated experiencing.  Even though I didn't have to, I read the blessing almost each time I dunked an item - this meant I read the blessing about 52 times.

From start to finish, I was there about an hour.  After it was through, I texted a few of my friends that the deed had been done.  Then, I posted the below picture on Facebook with a simple caption:

One step closer ...

The fact that I posted a picture was a bold move.  My BFF didn't even expect I would be so open about what I was up to; however, I decided if I was really going to kosher my kitchen I needed to be open about it.  This wasn't something that should be a secret that only a select few people knew about.  It was now part of my life.

That evening I got kosher takeout and ate it on my newly koshered dishes.  Then, I spent a fair amount of time arranging my meat and dairy cabinets.  Once I was done, I took pictures and texted them off to my friends I knew would understand.  During one of those conversations I mentioned that I purposely kept the caption on the Facebook picture of my dishes vague because I knew that the ones who could look at the picture and "get it" would understand.  That's when my friend replied back there is a saying in Hebrew, Hamevin Yavin, which basically translates to: "Those who understand will know."

In the days that have followed my first trip to the dish mikvah a few people have questioned why I am "going kosher."  My answer for them isn't super in-depth.  How can it be?  It is such a personal decision and how can I truly explain the reasons that are truly ones I hold close to my heart.  So I try to explain to them, as best I could, all the while knowing that "those who get it will understand" (which is this week's Thursday Blog Project topic chosen by me) and those that don't, won't.

Now that I've shared with you my story about "Those that get it will understand," please take a moment to read my fellow bloggers take on the topic:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Genuine Friendship

I've been avoiding the topic Sara gave us for the July 24th Thursday Blog Project: What are some of your deal breakers when it comes to relationships/friendships/etc?

However, I need to work on catching up... 

This is a sensitive subject for me because I don't go around calling just anyone a friend and I don't get into relationships on a whim.  So, when I stubble upon a deal breaker after becoming emotionally invested in someone it is hard for me to distance myself from said person.  It's difficult for me to "break up."  I will fight to the death to save most of my friendships/relationships.  But alas, at times you must say farewell which for me mean when I'm done, I'm DONE!

With that in mind, I could probably go for a very long time but I hate focusing on the negatives that cause relationships to end.  I've spent more time than I wish to admit on focusing on the end of relationships and friendship that it would fill many lifetimes.  I know they are important to discuss, but I prefer to keep focused on the positive side of the coin.  Today, my BFF sent me this article titled, 11 Signs Of A Genuine Friendship that I'd rather focus on.  What's written in this article is so true and can be applied to both friendships and relationships. 

Please take a moment to read it and think about the things it has to say.

Now that I've said a few words on deal breaker, and genuine friendship, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers had to say on the topic:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Thursday, August 14, 2014


I don't talk much about my first half marathon experience.  When I do, typically all I share is that how 2 miles from the finish line I promised myself that I would N-E-V-E-R do something like a half marathon again.  At that time it was a one time shot - at least as far as I was concerned.  (FYI - My third half marathon takes place in September... You see how well that promise held?!)

The one thing I never really talk about is the moments leading up to the finish line. As I turned the corner and saw the ever so beautiful word "FINISH" come into view the song, Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson started to play.  I couldn't have thought of a better song to be listening to when I crossed that finish line as it embodied how I felt about several things in life at that moment in time.

The Chicago Marathon is less than 60 days away.  I'm not feeling very confident right now about my abilities at the moment, but when I look back on the first couple of 5K races I did back in 2011/2012 I recall that I didn't feel good about those either.  Not only did I survived them, but also thrived as time went on. That's when I feel better and regain the confidence needed to tackle the task at hand.

In the few months I've been training I've changed - and I'm not just talking physically changed.  There has been an emotional and mental change in me as well.  The things is that the marathon training isn't the only hard "training" I've been tackling this summer... or for that matter this year.  There are other personal and professional boot camp like endeavors I've taken on that have/are transforming me.  Transforming me for the better (at least that is what I believe).

I meant what I said in the letter to myself that posted a few weeks ago.  I am excited to meet myself on October 12, 2014.  No matter what the outcome is in terms of making it to the start line of the Chicago Marathon or what happens during the race, I know that I will have already achieved so much more than I had ever dreamed possible.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger?....  From my experience, SO TRUE!

Now that I've talked about my thoughts on the topic Denise gave us for this week's Thursday Blog Project - What doesn't kill you makes you strong - please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It will always be "Our House"

Recently, I visited with my middle brother and sister-in-law's at the home they've lived in about 39 years.  Originally, the visit was only suppose to be brunch, but we kept on chatting and chatting that brunch eventually turned into dinner.

At one point during the day, we went into the living/dining room area.  At the time this room was vacant as they were getting their sofa recovered.  With the absense of a sofa the room, which is rather large to begin with, seemed gigantic and echoed - a lot!  At one point we got to talking about how they found the place and all the pieces of the purchase just fell into place.  This led to me saying that since I basically grew up their it felt like my house as well. (Now let me mention that A squared are about 30 years older than me, so it is a very plausible statement that that I could have grown up their - which I did.)

Not only do I have countless memories of family dinners at this home, but also I lived in this house for several months when I moved back to IL after a 2 year stint in Portland, OR.  Each and every time I enter their home I look fondly at the foyer and remember when my brother and I ended up sitting on the floor talking about everything under the sun.  Or, how about the times I sat in the kitchen with my sister-in-law while she tutored me - in what subject I cannot recall.  My niece and I would put CDs on in the living/dining room and lip-sync to them.... "I'm so excited!  And I just can't hide it!"

I'm not the only person who lived at this house.  My brothers J and R did as well, at separate times.  We've laughed and cried.  We sat shiva for my dad almost 25 years ago in this home.  There was a time it wasn't safe to go into the basement of the place, but eventually was because they decided to finish it.  I even smile when I recall the ex telling us the basement ceiling was too low.  For someone his height, indeed; however, for us shorties not at all.

As we reminisced, the stark reality that they'd one day be selling this home was the purple and pink polk-a-dotted suede elephant in the room.  No one wanted to acknowledge it.  At least not until I brought up the subject.  Then the sad reality came to light.  My brother and sister-in-law are aging and one day they may no longer be able to live in such a place.  I wanted to cry, but I didn't.  Instead, my mind raced with how would we avoid having to give up "our house."

So, as I left that day I did so with an understanding that the days of "our house" being "ours" were fewer than I'd like to admit.  However, regardless of what happens in the future, it will always be "our house" even if my brother and sister-in-law no longer own it.

Now that I've shared my thoughts on the topic of "Family" which  I chose for the Thursday Blog Project for August 7th, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Sunday, July 27, 2014


For the Thursday Blog Project the week of July 17th, Denise asked us to write about: Asking for help.

Asking for help is something I'm horrible at doing.  Mainly for two reason.

The first reason is that over the years I have grown to be a very independent individual.  I'm so use to doing things on my own  that I don't even think to ask for help with things.  My first instinct is to figure out how I'm going to get it done on my own.  I've been this way for a good 13 years now.  It is something that makes it difficult to be in a relationship.  I don't know how to rely on another person. 

The other reason I don't like asking for help is due to past experience with asking for help.  I'm sure I've said it before - "Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want."  After asking for help on several occasions and not getting it I've come to learn that it's often a good thing that I am so independent because my experience is that I don't know many people who want to help - for whatever reason.

I will say, it is a delightful surprise when someone helps me without me even asking.  I've found this in one person in my life - someone fair new - and it's a nice change.  It's a foreign experience, but one that reminds me that I need to continue focusing my energies on helping others, even when they don't ask for help.  Honestly, this is the way I like to think about this topic - Helping others even when they don't ask for help. I think that is when it counts the most.

Now that I've give you some of my thoughts on asking for help, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

To My October 12, 2014 Self

Dear Self,

As I write this note to you I do so with the assumption that you felt confident in your racing abilities that you showed up to the start line of the 2014 Chicago Marathon.  I make the assumption you haven't had any injuries preventing you from running, nor did you just flat out give up during the training process.

I think about you a lot these days because right now all this f*@kin' training is driving me so bat-shit crazy and tired that I want to give up.  I wonder wtf I was thinking when I entered the lottery for the marathon and then after getting the notification I had got a lottery space actually accepting it.    Seriously, lately I wonder what I smoking when I decided that attempting a marathon was a good idea.

Then, once I get past all these negative thoughts, I refocus.  I think about the person I will be on October 12, 2014 - I wonder about who you are as a person at that exact moment.  See, as you know, not only am I training for the marathon right now, but I'm also going through some big changes at the same time.  Regardless of how they turn out with all these thing, I can say with the utmost confidence each one will surely change me ... and change me for the better, I believe.  In many ways the theme of this summer, and even this year, is stepping vastly out of my comfort zone and beginning a new life.  It's for this reason I understand why all these things are taking place all at once, despite my dislike of lots of change taking place all at once.

I believe all that I am going through now is happening as a way to prepare me to take my life to the next level - personally and professionally.  At first stepping outside my comfort zone scared me, and still does to some degree.  When I'm tired from the overly boring "wash, rinse, repeat" life I've been living the past 8 weeks or so I begin to think that it's not worth the struggle.  Then, something will happen that gives me a glimpse of myself in action.  A glimpse of me I have never seen before, but always knew was inside of me.  I'd say this is what I need to remember onto when I'm dreading my weekly long-run or upset because I have to say "No" once again to plans with my friends so I can get in my run, but it's just not THAT easy.  Of course, this is something you already know.

So, dear self on October 12, 2014, I look forward to meeting you in the not so distant future.  Until then, I will not only try to remember that "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone," but also try as much as I can to embrace it for it is this idea that is currently moving me forward.

I wish you the best at the marathon and hope you accomplish your one goal for it.  I look forward to meeting you soon!

With lots of love,

The topic I gave the Thursday Blog Project group for July 10th was, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."  Now that you've read my take on the topic, please take a moment to see what my
fellow bloggers had to say on it:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Someone Old. Someone New.

The blog project topic for June 26th, chosen by Melissa: Make new friends, but keep the old....Tell us about your most recent friendship (online or in person) AND your longest friendship.

Someone Old: 
I'm guessing everyone will think I'm going to write about my BFF since I've known her quite a long time (27 years this summer to be exact) and we're so close.  However, there are people I've known longer than her.

Sally is one of those individuals.  I don't necessarily consider Sally a friend anymore, but more of an acquaintance who I use to hangout with a lot when I was in high school.  After high school I talked with her periodically and hung out with her and her friends when I visited Chicago my first 2 years of college.

Sally and I went to preschool together at one of the Chicagoland Jewish Community Centers (JCC) many, many... MANY years ago.  After awhile we drifted apart a bit and then reconnected several years later when we bumped into one another at a local Bakers Square restaurant (a place I used to love getting pie until I started baking pie).  Through the end of high school we hung out on a fairly regular basis.  Then a year or two after I moved away for college we lost touch.

These days we're basically Facebook friends.  I did run into her at festival a few weeks ago.  We chatted a bit, but it was a lot of small talk.  It wasn't like if I was seeing someone I was super close with, and we picked up where we last left off.  Our lives are so vastly different.

It's sort of sad, but I have good memories from the past that include her.

Someone New:
Back in April (maybe May) a friend of mine asked me if she could make a "friend shidduch".  (A "shidduch" is typical Yiddish for match two Jewish singles up.)  My friend had a friend at her shul she felt I would get along well with so I said "Sure!"

Guess what?  My friend was right.  Me and L got along famously.  L is a PhD student at the University of Chicago and thought we're 10 years apart in age (roughly) we have a lot of life experiences in common.

Another thing I like about my new friend is that she's an observant Jew, but still very much egalitarian.  She gets the reasons I'm drawn to being more observant and I don't have to feel strange when I want to do something religiously/observant related.  It's nice to known someone who gets little things others would never understand.

Now that I've talked about a person I've known a long time and a person I'm known not so long, please see what my fellow bloggers have to say:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Feeling a Bit "Wicked"

This week for the Thursday Blog Project, Sara asked us to write about the following:  What are some of your favorite song lyrics? And why?

For a Hanukkah present this past year, I bought a ticket to see the show Wicked. AMAZING doesn't even begin to capture what I thought of the show.  Of course, the music in the show contributed to that how I felt about it.  So, I decided to use this topic to talk about my top 3 favorite songs from the show.  Of course, I'm sure the ones I choose are the same ones lots of people deem their favorites, but whatever...

One of the things I love about Wicked is that it give you a different point of view of Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.  The song Popular was one of the first times it really hit me that Glinda was kind of a stuck-up bitch who was very full of herself.

Defying Gravity:

I love this song because I feel it speaks to me in terms of how I want to live my life.  That I want to go beyond the boundaries and limitations that have been set for me - by both myself and others.

For Good:

This song is special to me because it reminds me of two people I've known a very long time.  Both of these individuals have truly had an impact in my life and helped shape me - for the better. 

Though these are my top 3 favorite songs from the show Wicked, it doesn't mean I don't like the others.  It was a phenomenal show that I highly recommend seeing.

Now that I've shared with you some songs I enjoy, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say about their favorites:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

We Need to Talk

At this point, if you know anything about me it's that I hate (with a passion) the words, "we need to talk."  Rarely does anything good come after those words.  However, they are the only words I know to say to start this conversation, so here I go...

I will openly admit, I once embraced you tightly.  However, at that time I didn't know any better so holding on wasn't that hard.  Then, I made a decision to open my eyes, and my mind.  Instead of holding on to what I had learned, I decided to learn for myself.  To form my own opinions and conclusions.  It is for that reason I can no longer hold onto the stereotypes I once held true about observant Jews.

This journey started out quite innocently almost three years ago when I spent a full Sabbath (from sunset Friday to 25 hours later) in a very observant neighborhood located in Chicago.  I remember calling my mom after Shabbat was over to touch base with her.  I told her that she didn't have to worry about anyone persuading me to do this ever again and this wasn't a lifestyle to which I would ever adapt - or something like that.  I felt bad saying that, especially since I was still in my host family's house, but I did nonetheless.  Little did I know that I would be spending more time around that observant community, amongst others, only to realize that despite a few lifestyle choices they weren't so different from the rest of us.

Most recently, my break up with these stereotypes took an unexpected turn when several people started to label me as "observant."

"Moi?!  No, no, no!  You're mistaken.  I'm the farther thing from observant."

That's what I would say when such a remark was made.  However, after this happened several times I decided it was time to take a step back and examine why people were making these comments.  Then at Shavout late night learning I figured it out.  My epiphany came while talking to an acquaintance of mine.  As I was talking about the things I wanted to learn he reacted with surprise.  I asked myself why he did this.  He didn't look uber religious, but I knew that he himself leaned towards the observant side as well.

That's when it hit me...

Even though I knew that my observance level had changed, dramatically, since I first moved to the city you'd never know it if you just saw me walking on the street.  There is no visible sign that screams, "I take Judaism seriously!"  However, this is just one of the reasons I have a hard time, labeling myself as "observant."  Even though I know how I practice my religion since there is no visible signs of my observance level one the outside I have a difficult time lumping myself with the observant crowd.  Since I hold a stereotype that all observant women dress modestly and wear only skirts I often forget my female, modern orthodox friends who follow the mitzvahs of Judaism (as I do), yet infuse secular life (such as wearing shorts and pants) into their life as well.  Or how about my modern orthodox friends who hug/hold hands with members of the opposite gender who aren't family, eat out at non-kosher restaurants while still maintaining some level of kashrut (kosher dietary laws) and/or maintain feminist and/or liberal view points on a range of topic, including religion. They, like me, have no blatantly obvious outward signs that advertise to the world they are observant, but inside proudly observe the practices that are near and dear to their heart and soul.

It's for all these reasons, and more, that today I happily break up with the stereotypes I once held and embrace new truths about being an observant Jew.  I'm sorry if you are saddened or shocked by this declaration, but it's just one more way I am moving forward in my life.

I wish you all the best,
Tracey (Tova)

Now that I've shared my break-up letter (the Thursday Blog Project topic given to the group by Denise for the week of June 13th), I ask that you take time to read my fellow bloggers break up letters:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Friday, June 6, 2014

"The Worst Mistake I Ever Made"

For many, many.... MANY years a lot of people have been telling me that I needed to be in the city.  I understood why this was the case.  I didn't fit the suburban demographic - married with children.  Furthermore, I was one of six Jewish individuals (I'm sure there are more than just six, but it makes it sound more dramatic and funny if there are only six) living in a predominantly, Christian suburb.  However, over the years I stood firm to the idea that I wasn't a city chick.  That is until late 2012/early 2013.  I'm not sure exactly what prompted the shift in my opinion, but I believe it happened about 2 years earlier.  Whatever it was that prompted my yearning to move to the city, I could no longer ignore it.  So, I spent the spring of 2013 looking for a place to live - and I found one.

The weeks leading up to my move were stressful... very, very, very stressful.  Not only was I trying to go through my life trying to decide whether or not it came with me or got thrown away, I was also dealing with the unknown of living in urban area.  Sure, I had hung out in my particular area many times, but this time it would be MY area.  I would give up the running trail I loved so much, for street running.  The places I could afford weren't as nice as the one I was leaving behind, but I still looked at it with the hope of making it into a nice home for me and Elsie.

Moving day was a complete and utter clusterfuck that did not help my state of mind.  Anything and everything seemed to be going wrong... that is until it started going right.  However, before the "right" part happen, I was a mess and instead of trying to pull myself together so I could rally through I just let myself dive into the mess further by sitting on the floor, against one of the walls of what would soon be "my old place" and began to cry.  During this cry-fest I proclaimed - "This was the worst mistake I ever made!!!!!!"

A mistake I couldn't take back.  I was stuck. I was stuck in a lease for the next 12 months.

Once moved in and trying to get settled into my new home (at least in theory) I continued to see the move as an epic fail on my part.  It seemed that no matter what I tried, nothing made me feel that things would be better and that I had made a good decision.  I was so convinced of this I seriously contemplated subleasing the place and hauling my butt back to the burbs.  However, a friend of mine asked me to do them a favor.  They asked me to give it until the end of the summer.  If I still felt like the city wasn't for me then, and only then, they said I should move.  After giving it some thought, I promised myself, and my friend, that I would give it until the end of the summer; however, I was sure I'd be packing up after that and heading back.

That was a year ago.

I'm not sure when or how it happened, but over time I have not only adapted to city life, I've embraced it.  To say I enjoy living in the city and the place I chose to live is an understatement.  Sure, city life isn't perfect and I'd like a "better" place, however right now I can say with full confidence I am where I am suppose to be.  More importantly, I know the decision to move to the city has made me happier in life overall.

At the end of the day, it is funny to think how one of the things I've considered "the worst mistakes I mistakes I've ever made" (my topic for this week's Thursday blog project) has turned out to really be one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Now that I've told you about one of the "worst" mistakes I've ever made, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say about their worst mistakes:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Never, ever will I again!

Thursday Blog Project Topic for May 22nd given by Sara: What is something (or more than one thing) you've done or tried (been there, done that) that you will never do again?

On my wall in my kitchen I have all the "race bling" I've earned, including this one....

As you can see, this particular race took place in February 2013.  Now, I'm not a cold weather runner, but a friend of mine was participating in the race and after some consideration I decided to have an open mind and try a cold winter race.

Yeah..... That was the first AND last time I will ever do one of those!  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not putting down anyone who runs in cold temperatures.  As far as I'm concerned, more power to you for doing such a thing.  However, that is just one way in which I am not a bad ass.  I clearly don't have what it takes to do such a thing.  I was THRILLED to finished that race and get back inside.

Once I was finished, I sat on the bleachers, inside the gym we had waited in before the race, and cried.  That's how cold and uncomfortable I had been.  I felt so crappy, I didn't even text my friend whom I had met up with at the race because I just wanted to be alone and work through my not so great feelings.

These days, I look at that "race bling" and smile.  It no longer represents a crappy racing experience.  Instead, it serves as a time when I stepped outside my comfort zone for a brief moment.

I'd like to say I'll "never" participate in such a race again - because let's face it, I could one day change my mind.  However, at this moment in time I feel fairly confident that a winter race, such as this one, is something I will NEVER do again.

Now that I have written about something I will never do again, please see what things my fellow bloggers will never do again:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Monday, May 12, 2014


Thursday Blog Project topic for May 8, 2014: The essence of you. Write something captures the essence of who you are as a person.

Part of the reason this post is so late has to do with the craziness of life lately.  However, that is not the whole reason.  The other half of it is due to the fact that I've changed my mind - multiple times -  regarding what I was going to write about for this topic.  Then, today, it hit me when I was listening to a Rabbi speak about Yiddishkeit.  Though I linked that word to Merriam Webster's definition, I am going to use the Wikipedia description of the word right now.  According to Wikipedia (and let me apologize in advance that I'm citing of all things Wikipedia), Yiddishkeit  "literally means "Jewishness", i. e. "a Jewish way of life", in the Yiddish language. It can refer to Judaism or forms of Orthodox Judaism when used by religious or Orthodox Jews. In a more general sense it has come to mean the "Jewishness" or "Jewish essence" of Ashkenazi Jews in general and the traditional Yiddish-speaking Jews of Eastern and Central Europe in particular.  From a more secular perspective it is associated with the popular culture or folk practices of Yiddish-speaking Jews, such as popular religious traditions, Eastern European Jewish food, Yiddish humour, shtetl life, and klezmer music, among other things."

In recent days/weeks/months I've been hearing a lot of about Yiddishkeit from a Rabbi I quite often hear speak.  He keeps coming back to this idea that the essences of Judaism - there are a few core principles to leading a Jewish life.  One of those principles is kindness.

One of the things that kept me from writing my Thursday blog post last week was a volunteer Uptown Cafe - a kosher meals program for the needy. Unlike a lot of meal programs, this is a cafe style environment where recipients get served their food in a restaurant style fashion.  My role that evening - to wait tables and make sure the patrons were enjoying their time there. 
engagement I had in the evening.  For 2 hours I volunteered at

I have to admit, I was nervous at first as I wasn't sure what to expect and I didn't want to screw up.  I didn't want my table to have a bad experience, as I knew this is something they looked forward to each and every day.  Once I got going things seemed to flow and from what the people I served said, they were happy.

Close to the end of the serving period we were told we could take food for ourselves.  So I did.  After returning the blue tray I had carried my food to the table with and getting a drink I sat down in front of my meal.  Before "digging in," I paused.  I internally acknowledged that I didn't need this meal as I had plenty of food at home... and if I didn't, I could have stopped at the grocery store or restaurant on the way home for more food.  I was grateful.  The meal I was receiving was an "extra" meal and I knew that there was someone out in the community who needed it way more than I did.

Volunteer work has always been very important to me.  I do it as a way to recognize all the blessings I have received in the past, currently have and the ones I have yet to know about.  I do it as my way of paying forward all that I have received in my lifetime.  However, on this particular occasion it was more than that.  It elevated my understanding of the hunger problem our country faces.  It also elevated and reaffirmed my commitment to the principle of kindness and strengthened my Jewish essence.

I look forward to returning as a volunteer at Uptown Cafe soon, and encourage those in the Chicagoland area to volunteer there or for any other meals program for the needy. 

Now that I've written a post that "captures my essence," please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say about theirs:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Food for Thought . . .

I heard this quote spoken by someone who was injured in last year's Boston Marathon bombing.  She not only recovered from her injury, but went on to finish this year's Boston Marathon! 

One of many inspiring stories!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

All Consumed and Overwhelmed

As I approach the end of my first year in the city I have become somewhat reflective of not only my first year as "city girl," but also where I was last year at this time.  I'd say I wasn't sure why this was the case, but since I know myself rather well I know exactly why - that's just how I am.

Recently, as I was walking back to my place after getting off the train, I began to think of the first time I took this particular path to the place I have called home for almost 12 months now.  It was around this time last April and I was consumed in my own little moving world.  My days were spent working and trying to find leads on places to look at while my evenings consisted of viewing places and then going home to purge crap from my existing home, and packing up what I kept.  Also, I was training for my next race that would take place only 6 days before I anticipating moving.  I had been on this merry-go-round for two months by this point and was feeling discouraged that I would ever find "the one."  However, come hell or high water, come the beginning of June I would be moving.

The first thing I noticed on this first walk was when I got off the train was that there was some sort of construction right by the stop, but at the time I didn't know what it was going to be.  (Not long after I moved that would be revealed to me that this "construction zone" was the future home of a Marino's grocery.  This made me giddy! At that time, I had only heard of Marino's grocery stores, but all that I had heard was positive.)

As I walked the residential streets of this neighborhood I felt the ease of the residential surroundings.  I was familiar with the area, which is what attracted and repelled me to living there.   Part of me saw moving to the city as a whole new adventure, a change that I wanted to make in an epic way. So, as you might imagine moving to this familiar and "safe" part of the city seemed counter productive.  However, on the other hand, I knew the comfort of the familiar would make such a large leap that much easier.

When I walked up to the front of the building I now reside in, I knew that would one day be where I lived.  Like a lot of good things in my life, I didn't want to admit it at the time, but I knew it was the case.  Until this day, I remember the first time I walked into my unit and how the leasing agent kept repeating to me, "Two guys live here so we will be sure to clean it up before you move in."  Like many other places I had looked at, I had to look beyond the surface and aimed to find the potential for the space. (Just like when you are first getting to know someone.)  The showing was quick, but long enough for me to note the pros and cons of the place.

Finally, at the end of April I finally decided to pull the trigger and claim this place as mine - at least for 365 days.  At that point I thought the hardest part was over.... man was I wrong!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Miss Self-Absorbed

This week for the Thursday Blog Project, Denise asked us to answer the question: Can a person be too nice?

I struggled with this post up until the very last minute of writing it for multiple reasons.  If you take the actual question "as is" then it's as simple as saying "yes" or "no".  However, it's not that simple of a question. Once you take a position I feel you have to then take a position on why you feel a particular way.  Because I am who I am, while I was contemplating my approach to the topic I asked a few of my friends the question.  As I suspected, I got a vast array of answers.

All this got me thinking about a lunch and learn I went to in February about Altruism and Taking Care of Ones Self.  It was conducted by Rabbi Anthony Manning and focused on what the Torah says about this topic.

When I learned about this seminar I signed up IMMEDIATELY as I struggle with this, a lot, since I've been criticized in the past about being too self-absorbed.  Though this hasn't come up in sometime, it still haunts me.  I still fear that I'm not caring enough about those around me and that I should be doing way more.  Rather than worrying if I'm too nice, I worry I'm not being nice enough.

I'm thankful I had the chance to attend such a presentation.  It put my mind at ease some and answered a lot of questions I had.  It also made me wonder if I was being too nice by worrying about if I was being nice enough.  I also have my BFF to ground me when it comes to getting consumed by balancing altruism and taking care of myself.  For instances, my BFF thinks I'm too nice sometimes, and will tell me when I'm being too nice.  She doesn't want to see me take a hit for something I shouldn't.  Furthermore, I think sometimes she thinks I spend too much time and energy being too nice to others and not as nice as I should be to myself... but that's just my speculation.

Other interesting conversations that have spurred from this question focused on whether someone who is too nice is being truly authentic or genuine and if people who are too nice are perceived as less intelligent than those that are not.  I'm thankful Denise gave us this topic because it's given me something thought provoking to explore with those I keep company with on a regular basis and whose thoughts I greatly value.

Now that I've shared my thoughts on the matter, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say on the matter:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Friday, April 11, 2014

You think you know me, but do you really?

This week for the Thursday Blog Project I asked the group to write about: Write about something no one would ever guess about you.

The topic was inspired by a dinner I attended last weekend and a few other interactions I've had over the past weeks/months.  It all started when I signed up for a program for Young Jewish Professionals that meets once a week over the course of 8 weeks.

The first week, I showed up to the first meeting only knowing one person.  To say I was uncomfortable is an understatement.  Despite this fact, I put on a smile and pushed myself (as I always do) to socialize with the others while the shy kid inside of me wanted to immediately turn around and go home.  Sigh... Have I ever mentioned how much I hate large groups like this and in a bar nonetheless?
After our group meeting we went to a bar where the other four/five groups where. 

If not, I do. So much so that I grabbed a glass of ice water and found my friend.  My poor friend.  I spent the remainder of the evening glued to her.  She encouraged me to talk to my fellow group members, but I had nothing to say.  The same thing pretty much happened during week two.  By week three I was warming up to everyone, but was throw a curve ball.  We had a mass trivia night at a bar so we weren't going to be meeting in our smaller groups first.  CRAP MONKEY!  However, I was getting more comfortable and was more social without feeling as awkward.

By the fourth week I could tell I was staring to make friends.  When we went to the bar I was definitely more comfortable and wasn't relying on my friend to keep me "safe."  However, it was week five that really brought it all together.  I attribute the game "Cards Against Humanity" for this.  To really play this game you have to truly take down any type of filter you have and just be yourself.  So I was.

I mention all this because a lot of people think I'm outgoing and have no problem with social situations and/or lack self confidence.   In reality, it's a matter of being shy and having to push myself past those feelings.  Sometimes that isn't a problem; other times it's a HUGE obstacle.  

Thankfully, more often than not it's not a problem - and I thankful for my ability to overcome my shyness, however I think it's important to remember that I am this way so I never let it catch me off guard.  Most of all, I think it's important for others to know so they can truly know me.

Now that I've talked about something people wouldn't guess about me, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say on the topic:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Friday, April 4, 2014

You're Damned If You Do and You're Damned If You Don't

In mid-January I decided to give up caffeine, so I did - cold turkey.  It wasn't an easy process, but I did it nonetheless.  (A big thank you to Denise for listening to my vents about it during the first 3 or so days of my "detox.")

Two months later, not drinking caffeine isn't my problem.  However, as a result of my decision to not drink caffeine finding something other than water to drink when I'm eating out is now a problem.  See, in addition to not consuming caffeine, I also don't want to consume drinks with sugar in them such as regular Sprite, 7-Up, Sierra Mist or even good ol' fashion lemonade. An easy fix to this would
be to get the diet version of said drink, however I have yet to find a restaurant or fast food place that actually offers the diet version of these drinks.

(You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.)

Each and every time I encounter this "problem" I eventually laugh at myself.  This isn't the worst problem I'm dealing with at the moment and it's not the worst problem in world, but it's definitely a first world problem (this week's Thursday Blog Project topic thanks to Melissa).

I mean really... First, this is a decision I made freely.  No one twisted my arm or pointed a gun at me and told me I couldn't drink caffeine anymore.  If were such an issue I could easily consuming caffeine again.  More importantly, this "problem" is so small in the big scheme of things.  In some countries people suffer from malnutrition and dehydration... and I'm upset about the fact that my only real option for something to drink while I'm out about is water?! Yeah, "first world" for sure!

At the end of the day, I end up sticking with water when I'm out and about... and as time goes by I'm sure my reaction to this minor inconvenience will temper.

Now that I have talked about one of my "first world problems," please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Fort Knox of Secrets

I have to admit that when Sara gave the Thursday Blog Project group her topic, I smiled.  Now you probably are wondering, what topic could possibly make me smile?  Well here it is:

Are you good at keeping secrets? Describe a time you were able to keep a secret, and another time where you were unable to. What were the outcomes in both scenarios?

See, in a former life I was in a profession that required me to keep information confidential.  I was trusted with personal information about those I worked with and dealings of the organizations I worked for.  Being able to keep things confidential was completely necessary and I took this requirement seriously. 

Truth be told, keeping things confidential wasn't hard for me.  See, I've always believed if someone trusts you with information they don't want others to know you should keep it confidential.   Since this is the case if I ever wanted to share something confidential with someone else, because it was relevant to what they were experiencing, I would generalize the story down so much there is no way you would know the specific origin of the information or exactly all the details.  However, the person would still get the higher level message.

I will take a lot of secrets with me to my grave.  There have been many times I've been in situations where I knew something another person didn't, but maybe should have.  It's sucked.  However, if someone has entrusted me with information they don't want me to share it's not my place to do so. Now after saying that I feel the need to add that we are talking things that don't break the law.  If it were something that weren't legal or something like that then that's a whole different story. 

There have been times when I had to talk about a secret I knew about only because the person who told me it pulled me into their situation and it was something I didn't agree with.  I wanted out, but didn't how to disassociate myself from the situation without the risk of alienating someone I cared about.  I felt bad for sharing this information, but I know that there is a line you have to draw when the secret begins to impact your life and well-being.

The hardest "secret" I ever had to keep to myself dealt with an organization I worked for that was planning for a reduction in force.  It just happened that our team learned about the upcoming events approximately a week to two weeks before it was going to take place.  Since we would be closely involved in preparing for it, we all had to sign confidentiality agreements.  These agreements meant that we couldn't speak about it to anyone at work who wasn't involved in getting prepared for it, but also our families and significant others.  Such a thing was extremely difficult for me and weighed on my shoulder, greatly!  Sometime I would cry because I had no other outlet to express the emotions that were festering up inside of me. 

After it was over, and I was no longer obligated to keep things confidential, I shared with my mom and the guy I was dating at the time what happened and how long I knew about it.  Both of them said they could tell I had been very upset about something and where just waiting for when I was ready to talk about it.

I guess the bottom line to all this is that I feel that keeping information confidential is important and reflects on ones character.  I'm not 100% great at this, but my overall track record is such that a good friend of mine once gave me the title of, "The Fort Knox of Secrets." 

Now that I've shared with you my thoughts on keeping secrets, please take a moment to read what my fellow bloggers have to say about this week's topic:

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Confession: Part Two

When I wrote yesterday's post titled, "Confession: Part One" I did so with the intention to make a second confession that builds upon yesterday's confession. 

Confession:  I pray for people I'm mad at and some I don't know if I'll ever speak to again.

I don't often talk about my prayer habits, including what I specifically pray for.  Nor do I ask others to share what they pray for. (Prayer is such an individual and private thing.)  However, during a discussion about prayer with my BFF, I mentioned the people I pray for.  Some of names weren't a surprise to my BFF, however some were.  After sharing, she said (paraphrased), "I love that you pray for people you don't like and/or are mad at."

Okay... yeah, I get why she said such a thing.  To some degree it amazes me that I do such a thing.  Then, I take a step back and realize that though I may have vast differences with these people it doesn't mean I don't still care about them.  It doesn't mean I want them to have an awful life. 

So, why am I SO compelled to throw this out into cyberspace?

Ultimately, I believe I'm sharing this because it is my hope is that such a mindset becomes more the norm than the exception.  If I have learned anything over the past years it's that for some reason as a society we focus more on people's faults and shortcomings rather than where they excel and what makes them special (in a good way).

Wouldn't it be great if it was the other way?


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Confession: Part One

I'm gonna say upfront, my "confession" is not as juicy as you might hope it to be.  The reason I'm telling you this is so you're not let down when you read it.

Confession: I pray

(Again, sorry it's not something more exciting and earth shattering.)

I feel this is important to say before I actually address this week's Thursday Blog Project topic given to us by Denise, Be careful what you wish for, because the story I'm going to share involves something a friend of mine asked me to pray for on their behalf.

It was over a week ago when my friend Kendall and I were texting.  Kendall was heading to Sin City the following day and was concerned about snow delaying the flight he was taking.  Jokingly, yet not so jokingly, I told him that if he'd like I'd add a prayer for his travels to my prayers.  He said he would like that and then asked if I prayed that the snow accumulation at ORD (O'Hare International Airport) wasn't bad on the day he was suppose to leave so his flight would actually take off.  I was happy to oblige this particular request as he is a friend.  So that day, when I was praying, I asked that the snow accumulation the next day at O'Hare wasn't bad and would allow Kendall's flight to depart - just as he had requested.

The next day, I texted Kendall to see if all was good with his flight.  Checking in on a friend like that is not anything out of the ordinary for me.  Often when I know a friend is traveling - whatever the mode of transportation may be - I always like to check in to see how things are going.  However, truth be told after adding his travel plans into my pray list, I now had a bit of a vested interest as well.  The reply I got back was that the flight was going to be delayed by almost a hour.  Kendall seemed annoyed by this fact.  My reply was something to the effect that though I could see how it was annoying the fact remained it was still taking off, and that is what he had asked for.  I told him that is what I had prayed for because that is what he had asked me to pray for - that snow accumulation at ORD wasn't so bad that his flight couldn't take off.

I'm guessing that he went back in our text thread to see if that was actually the case because it took him awhile to reply.  When he did, the response was something to the effect that I was correct. 

Now that I have shared this story you're probably wondering what the heck it has to do with "Be careful what you wish for."

If there is one thing I have learned about praying is that you need to be specific as to what you are asking for.  If you're not specific it might in fact get answered in a way you weren't expecting.  Granted, as a rule of thumb, prayers don't always get answered the way we want them to; however, I feel if you aren't specific about what you would like to see happen chances are that should they be answered it will be in a way that is far different than what you are actually wanting.  Thus, you need to be careful for what you wish for.... because you might just get it.

Now that I've talk about my thoughts on why you should be careful what you wish for, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say about this week's topic!

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

It sounds crazy, but it doesn't feel crazy

For last week's Thursday Blog Project topic, I asked  the group to write about the phrase "YOLO".

The term "YOLO" (an acroynm for You Only Live Once) is similar to the phrases "Carpe Diem" (translated means: seize the day) or Memento Mori (translated means: remember you must die). 

I heard the term "YOLO" used a few months ago when I was looking at cars.  My 16-year-old car had just broken down and I was at the point where I didn't want to put another dime into repairing the vehicle.  As I pondered what I was going to do - buy a new car? If so, what kind of car? Etc. - someone I know said I should just go for the car I woudn't normally buy.  Then ended the comment with "YOLO!"  I hadn't heard the phrase so I needed them to elaborate, which they did.

Recently, life has thrust me into yet another interesting set of circumstances that requires me to figure out how to proceed going forward.  Upon these things happening my first instinct was to do what I normally do - play by the rule book I have been playing by all my life.  However, then I questioned why I was doing that given that other factors in my life allow me to take a very different path.  Allow me to read from a different set of rules. 

At first I thought this was just a knee-jerk reaction to everything that was taking place and that there was no way in hell throwing away the old "rules" was the best way to go.  I mean, come on!  This is me we're talking about.  When I think back I can't name many, if any, times I've strayed vastly from the road most taken... which is why I thought looking further into the road least taken was a good idea.  As it happens, the "universe" has actually set me up quite nicely for taking this path instead of the one I usually take.

I've tried to find reasons to not go this route, but I can't.  Truth be told, even though it sounds crazy to do, it doesn't feel crazy at all.  Truth be told, I'm starting to wonder why I wouldn't want to do something a bit different for once. 

I know I'm being vague, again.  I understand that is frustrating.  I also know that being specific right now is not an option until I sort things out for myself.  Then all will be revealed (should I head down this unfamiliar road). 

Until then, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say about "YOLO"!

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Darwin Shrugged (Denise)