Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 365 - The End

As 2011 comes to a close, I hope you all had a great 2011. My 2011, as you may have read, was not without it's ups and downs, and wins and losses but being the hopeless optimistic that I am, I believe the best is yet to come! I'm looking forward to 2012 as a fresh start and hope you are too. I'll take a moment here to reflect on the past here, and hope to see you in my future at Twenty-Twelve.

In 2011, I wore things I thought I shouldn't. I tried new foods and well, enjoyed some of them (am I the only human that does not enjoy Tiramisu?). I went to new places and loved the West Coast and soared to new heights, like the top of the Willis Sears Tower. I traveled farther by foot then I thought I could (60+ miles!) and did things to help others that I never believed possible. I survived heartaches and heartbreaks, and know that (of course) life goes on. I persevered at work and over came more IT projects then one person should ever be responsible for in the course of one year. I've learned to stand up for myself and ask questions, even the hard ones. I've learned that dreams are limitless, and that the best friends are sometimes the quiet ones just waiting in the background for their opportunity to cheer you on and lift you up. Hugs heal and blogging, just like training puppies, is some of the cheapest therapy ever. I learned that saying no is not a bad thing and that taking time for yourself and doing absolutely nothing is okay! Below are some of my favorite pictures from 2011.

Somewhere over the central United States

My view leaving work...

At home...

Post Dirty Girl Mud Run

San Diego

My city

The best day ever!

Forever Marilyn


Zoo life...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 364 - The Future of My Blogging

As I have only one day left of my 365 day, 2011 blog challenge, I've been wondering what to do with this blog in the new year. Do I continue this blog? But how? This blog is all about tackling daily fears in 2011, it's even included in the description. After much thought, I don't feel that I can continue this blog, while undertaking a new year, without changing and altering the original intent so I've decided that this blog must come to an end. Like any good chapter in a book, 2011 and "Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You" are indeed coming to a close.

Through my 2011 challenge, I've learned many a lesson and also found that I'm addicted to blogging! With that said, I can't leave my blogging adventures to just one chapter, so I've started a new one! I hope you readers will follow me in 2012 as I chronicle my life and of course, throw in a few new challenges and adventures! As of January 1st, I will be blogging at Twenty-Twelve. Please visit, follow and comment, as you my readers make it all worth while! I wish you an amazing new year, and hope you enjoy what you read from me in 2012, and I hope to read some things from you too! Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 363 - Addiction

Yep, I guess I'm continuing my "one event per month" addiction challenge in the coming new year as I've signed up for the New Year's Day, 5K event.  Now, I'm just hoping that this cold subsides long enough for me to get through the first 3.1 miles of the year. I will remember this time to either drive, or take a cab or bus to the event, and not walk to it!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 362 - Random Act of Kindness

Today I felt absolutely terrible. A head cold. A headache. And of course, I had to work both jobs. It seems my body has perfect timing to go "ka-put" on me when I have the most things scheduled to do and take care of. Despite vitamins, zinc and Advil I felt horrible as I drove to my second job and could only hope some miracle would occur that a substitute might be available for my classes.

Since they say feed a cold and starve a fever (or is it the other way around?) I made sure not to skip my dinner which was going to consist of two tacos from my much loved, Taco Bell. Probably not the most nutritious food to nurse my body back to health, but it was about the only thing that sounded "good" to eat and probably the easiest to acquire. As I drove up and placed my order I grumbled in pain as I waited for multiple cars to receive their orders in front of me.

"Come on already!!!" I literally screamed out loud in my car as the car in front of me seemed to forget something and hand their credit card back to the cashier. A minute or so more and I was finally at the drive up window to collect my food. "About time!", I thought to myself. "Sheesh, how hard is it to get some food around here" my mind thought preoccupied with pain. Finally the cashier popped her head out the window and handed me my items and stated, "It's already paid for." with a huge smile on her face. While it took me a moment to comprehend it all, I did manage to say thank you and slowly pulled away. I of course, felt like a complete schmuck for being the typical impatient customer behind the very nice person who was paying for my meal.

In my haze, it didn't occur to me at the time to pay it forward to the car behind me. As I've paid things forward in the past, and never once had something like this happen to me (yes, I understand that's not the point), I always wondered how others felt when they got the surprise that their coffee, food or tolls had already been paid for and now, I think I know! Although my cold and headache clouded the moment, I was a little shocked, but extremely thankful and appreciative of the stranger's random act of kindness. Now, thinking about someone else's kindness at least got my mind off my own issues and thankfully, my meal and multiple Advil later I felt much better. 

What random act of kindness have you done? Or have you been the recipient of one? I'm definitely taking this lesson forward in the new year and will be handing out thoughfulness and reminders to others that goodness still exists in others!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 361 - 2011 Event Totals - Wow!

At the beginning of my blog (360 days and posts ago!), I created a self induced challenge to participate in some type of "event" every month. I even started a page within my blog to track my progress and now, to some shock, have added up my totals. Total money spent on registration fees (YIKES!), miles traveled (roughly), and the amount of dollars raised for charity. So here's the break out!

In the past twelve months I have participated in:
15 different events.

In the past twelve months I have raised:
$1,400 for charity, specifically Children's Memorial Hospital, breast cancer research, and my favorite, the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

In the past twelve months I have spent: $506 on entry fees. Wow, is all I can say...wish I hadn't kept track of THAT number! But, the fact is, I wouldn't change a thing about the events I've participated in and can't wait to repeat some of them next year!

In the past twelve months I have traveled: 61.9 miles via foot and pedal during events, and heaven only knows how many extra miles I've tacked on to this total by driving and walking to the events themselves.

In the past twelve months my favorite event has been: The Dirty Girl Mud Run allowed me to prove to myself that I can tackle anything and I felt a HUGE sense of physical accomplishment after completing this event. Climbing over the two-story cargo net was the worst (and best) thing in the event, besides the mud of course!

In the past twelve months my greatest event based accomplishment has been: Being able to raise over $1,000 dollars for the Cheetah Conservation Fund! At times I thought I was never going to make this goal, but with tons of help from tons of people, even strangers and fellow blog readers, I made it! In doing so, I was one of only 5 Chicagoans who raised this amount of money, and earned the opportunity to meet and pet a live cheetah! It was so amazing!

In the past twelve months I learned: This challenge was not easy! There were days that I didn't feel good and didn't want to get out of bed, and there were plenty of weather challenges that just out right sucked to deal with. I won't even mention the sore feet and tight muscles. There were times I thought to myself, "Who would know if I did these events or not?" but my self conscience always won and shoved me out the door. Despite some of the drawbacks, I learned that I can pretty much do anything I set my mind to, whether I go alone or have fellow "eventers" with me and that I can make friends anywhere I go. I met a lot of new people, if only at the events, who not only did I help, but who helped me through the events in return. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 360 - MMOM

Since our normal "Meet Me On Monday" host Java is taking a break from posting questions until after New Years, I've created my own this week to finish out the year of Mondays!

1) What does the day after Christmas find you doing?
I actually started taking down all of my Christmas decorations! I really want to start the new year FRESH with nothing from the previous year sitting around, including decorations. That, and I've been downloading lots of new tunes for my I-pod.

2) Do you have plans for NYE?
Nope - and I'm just fine with that, I think New Year's Eve is my least favorite holiday! Everyone puts too high of an expectation on one night to make the rest of their year magical, when the focus should be on finding the magic and adventure that the year has to offer in every single day! 

3) Do you plan on making any new year resolutions?
I don't really think of my goals as resolutions but if ya want to put them in the same category, sure.

4) Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?
I had an awesome holiday this year! It was one of big surprises and great people.

5) What will you do with your Christmas dinner leftovers?
I was smart and sent them ALL home with someone else! I just don't do left overs very well. No matter how well intentioned I am to eat them, they always sit for WAY too long and go to waste.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 359 - Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day 358 - Eve Inspiration

I made some abnormal plans for tonight's Christmas eve, but knew being surrounded by friends that I would enjoy my time, no matter how the plans turned out. Bucking tradition, I left work and headed out to a local Mexican restaurant for dinner, after all nothing says Feliz Navidad like mariachi music!

My friends and I arrived to our restaurant of choice in unison, greeted with hugs and proceeded to sit down for this unorthodox holiday dinner. And ya know what, it was pretty awesome!
The chips and dip and holiday cheer flowed and smiles were exchanged over crumpled gift wrap. Soon our dinner of enchiladas and tacos were upon us, and this group of amigos cleaned our plates with no complaints! 

After dinner, and sitting for a while in hopes that time would help our bulging bellies digest, we headed over to the cinema to see the much anticipated movie, "We Bought A Zoo". While this movie was not holiday themed, it (along with the love of my friends) supplied me with plenty of quotes, thoughts, inspiration and hopefulness for the new year. I'm sure a trip to the zoo itself may be just one of my 2012 adventures!

As the night ended all too soon, hugs gift wrapped in love were exchanged and with this I was reminded what the season is truly all about, love. And for that, giving and receiving it, I am truly thankful.

How will Christmas inspire you this year? Do you let the magic of the season in, or do you stay wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of shopping, prepping, cooking, and wrapping never looking up to enjoy those around you? What new traditions have you started, or hope to start? It's not too late, Christmas is just around the corner! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 357 - God Speaks

I recently received an email from someone who is no longer in my life. It was a "nice", yet annoying email to receive as I don't wish to hear from this person any longer. It claimed that this person "changed" and that things going forward should be positive. Blah, blah, blah.

I have to admit, the email had me thinking and wondering about life, possible changes and the future. I worked to push it out of my mind as I bundled up to shop for last minute holiday dinner ingredients, but still it's contents bothered me. I walked to the local grocer hoping the fresh air would ease my mind. As I did, a woman, presumably homeless, struggled to light a cigarette as she hovered over the sidewalk in an awkward squatting posture. I've never seen her before, but I worked my way to the opposite side of the sidewalk to allow for a large berth of passage. As I did this she muttered in a haggard and raspy voice, yet clear and loudly enough for me to easily hear and understand, "He hasn't changed...piece of shit!".

I had to giggle and think that this was a sign from above and said, as I looked upwards, "Okay, I'm, listening - and thank you!". Now, I'm not sure that God would send a message that would call one of his creations a "piece of shit", but I appreciated the timing and the humor of the message, whoever it came from. 

I completed my shopping with nothing but my profound message in mind and soon headed home. The woman was gone, no where to be seen. Had I invented her? Was she an angel in disguise? God can take on any form, after all I reminded myself. Of course you can decide whether this was karma, heavenly intervention or just some perfectly timed homeless humor, but as I was reminded recently... talking isn't so much about what you say, it's more about listening!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 356 - Shopping

What do you think of the last minute holiday shopper? Do you think they are thoughtless and just didn't care to shop earlier? Do you think they just honestly forgot one item, and needed to run out for it? Or are they just the good-ol' procrastinator who puts everything off til the last minute like usual?  

Be careful which conclusion you come to, as your opinion will include me. It's three days til Christmas and I still haven't shopped, but let me explain! I have done some gift giving already, so for those individuals there's really no shopping left to be done. And as for my family, I won't see some of them until after the new year, so there's no pressure to shop for them just yet. So that leaves just a few dear and close friends to shop for. Hmm?

It's not that I don't know what to get these people in my life, rather I have so many ideas I have a lot of trouble narrowing down what it is I actually want to purchase. I typically find the decision of gift shopping completely overwhelming! If only money really did grow on trees I would buy everything, avoid having to make decisions, and of course give dear ol' Santa a run for his gift-giving money!

So tonight found me braving the crowds and facing the last minute hustle and bustle of crazed shoppers and crowds. Despite having to search for parking, I was greeted with over all friendly co-shoppers and store associates which made for an easy, last minute shopping spree. I was relieved that my experience was more positive then the horror stories I've heard about and that I avoided the name calling and cart bashing others have encountered.

Now with gifts in tow, all I have to do is wrap them. Thank goodness for gift bags - the lazy person's miracle to gift wrap! What about you, is your shopping and wrapping complete? What is your biggest holiday challenge?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 355 - Before I Go To Sleep

"Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love--all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story. Welcome to Christine's life."

I just completed the read above as part of a book club requirement and while it's not my typical genre, I did enjoy the fictional thriller. I wasn't sure what to expect when purchasing the only copy on the book store shelf. I always wonder if being the only copy left means that it was such a good book that it flew off the shelf quickly. Or just the opposite, was it so horrible that the bookstore only ordered one copy praying some unsuspecting customer would feel sorry for it and take it home with them?  Would I be that customer?

Nope! As I pushed through the 358 pages, I found myself reading faster and faster to get to the end of the mystery. While I won't say much about the novel here, I will state it's a mixture of the movie, "Groundhog Day" and a "who-dunnit" story that will keep you guessing where the main character ends up. It is a bit of a cliffhanger, which, as you may already know I don't care for, but in this case I find it appropriate as the wonderment of the ending only helps you realize what it's like to be in Christine's shoes. I'd recommend this novel and if you read it, tell me what ya think!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 354 - Pink

I wear pink. Hot pink on occasion. But never baby pink or light shades of the hue such as a champagne pink. It's too girly. Or so I thought. I don't wear brown either. Too drab. Too icky. Or so I thought. And, I've never purchased nor worn anything but solid dress pants. Black, brown, grey. No stripes, no patterns, no flecks of color. They're ugly, or just not flattering. Or so I thought.

Thanks to my fashion assistant who helped me burn through a gift card last night, I'm wearing pink, let me clarify, a baby pink sweater, a chocolate brown tank top, and flecked pants. Nothing like getting me completely out of my comfort zone (and looking and feeling great in the mean time!).
Thank you my little fashionista!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 353 - MMOM Christmas Edition

1.Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Both! But must admit I love gift bags, they're SO easy!

2.Real or artificial tree?
The past few years have been a beautiful artificial tree donated by Barry Manilow (yes, you read that correctly) but I enjoy real ones too.

3.When do you put your tree up?
It varies, but typically just after Thanksgiving.

4.When do you take your tree down?
Ha, that varies too. I've had it up well into February out of sheer laziness at times!

5.Do you like eggnog?
No, and who invented it anyway?

6.Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, a very tiny and somewhat inaccurate one in which I can't tell who is supposed to be Mary and Joseph versus the shepperd but, I enjoy and appreciate it none the less.

7.Favorite Christmas Movie?
Wow, don't know that I can just pick one. I have a top three or four... Classics would be "White Christmas", as there's nothing better then Bing and Rosemary Clooney's duet, "Count Your Blessings" (does anyone sing like that anymore, and the dancing - wow!) followed by the old animated "Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer". In more modern movies, I love "Home Alone" and laugh out loud every time I watch, "Elf".

8.Favorite Christmas cookie?
I don't really do cookies...but I would guess the most basic frosted sugar cookie reminds me most of Christmas.

9.Where will you eat Christmas dinner?
At my apartment.

10.Angel, bow or star on top of your tree?
Growing up, it was always a star a top our family tree. As my current tree was donated and came with a bow, that's how I've left it and grown to love it.

11.Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
The rudeness of the crowds, who I assume have forgotten in their hustle and bustle what the real reason of the season is.

12.Do you like Fruitcake?
No, and obviously whoever invented it and eggnog were related. Gross.

13.What are you most excited about the holidays?
I can't really say. I think just reflecting on my blessings, and looking forward to another year is where I'm at right now.

14.Do you open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?
Growing up, we did both however these days it seems presents come at random times, before and after Christmas!

15.Will you still be wrapping presents on Christmas Eve?
Well, seeing as I have not even started my shopping yet, I assume so.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 352 - Random

- There are only 13 days left to the year of 2011. Wow. Where did the time go? Heck, where did my weekend go?

- I am so very happy that the bleed in my finger tip seemed nothing more then just that, and that the swelling and "sub dermal hematoma" has dissipated with no side affects. (Still not sure how I self inflicted it.)

- I am thankful for the many, many gifts that I have received for Christmas already. While I know better then to think that this season is all about gifts, rather then one of religion (for me at least) I am still grateful for the thoughtful gifts that have greatly surprised me.

- I haven't even started my Christmas shopping. (Not sure what I'm waiting on.)

- Some of this year's events still sadden me like the loss of my pet, and the loss and break up with my significant other, but I know life goes on. I continue to live every day with hope that the best is yet to come, no matter how hard it seems at times. I am looking forward to 2012 as a new beginning more then any other year prior, I think.

- I'm happy that my most recently purchased book is entertaining and in two days of limited reading time, I'm already close to half way through it.

- I'm grateful for many people, but a few close friends have really gotten me over the trials of this year. They probably don't know that some days, it was only them that got me out of bed, or through the day. Stacy, Debbie and Barney - I love yous guys! Andrea, thank you for all the hugs and Kleenex.

- I'm thankful that even for being the world's most obnoxious cat, I still have my Tird to cuddle with when needed.

- Even the crappiest of movies can be enjoyed in the right company. I am thankful for friends new and old, and new adventures with them both.

- Molly's Blueberry Cheesecake cupcake, and Green Mountain's Blueberry coffee make everything better. Ironic for me, since I don't care for the actual fruit.

- Through many a challenge this year, I have learned how to confront people - something that was much needed and still not yet perfected but a great work in progress.

- Does anyone have a cure for road rage? I can't stand the first and last 15 minutes of my commute! Getting in and out of my neighborhood has become a hellish 15 - 40 minute car ride of potholes, cut-offs and no turn signals! Deep, cleansing Yoga breaths I tell myself to no avail.

- I recently watched a documentary on sloths that made them appear to be the world's cutest animal ever. Kudos to that producer!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day 351 - 5K+

Well today I had a dumb idea. "Save money and warm up" was the thought in my head when I decided to walk to my last 5K event of the year. Upon waking up, I looked out my window to see the first snow of the season, "Great", I thought. Amazingly, I managed to FINALLY dress myself properly for the event. After 11 previous events of either being over dressed or under dressed, I left the house just right adorned in my fleece hat, a running tech shirt, a fleece jacket, workout pants and tennis shoes. What an accomplishment for this girl!

I headed out and as I snorted snowflakes up my nose in route to the 5K, I thought, "Maybe walking wasn't such a good idea". That was quickly followed by, "Ouch, my foot hurts," as I continued the 1.92 mile walk to the starting line. Upon arrival, I gathered my event t-shirt, goodie bag and jingle bell and headed to the starting line. As I started the event, I enjoyed the snow covered landscape and the calm of the lake. My fellow runners and walkers provided the soundtrack of snow crunching and jingle bells jingling.

Soon I was headed home, and again found myself enjoying the scenery of the freshly fallen snow and recounting the year's past events and conditions. I've raced in heat, bitter cold, snow, down pours, and mud. I survived them all, and have learned a lot on how to (and how not to) prepare for them. I'm looking forward to taking the experiences of this year into the next and for now, will continue to stretch and rest this aching body. Ouch.

Note to self: for next year's events, do not add an additional 4 miles to a 5K (3.1 mile) event by walking to it!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 350 - Duty

Today's post asks for your opinion...

I found myself selected for jury duty today. I spent 9:30 - 5 secluded away from the rest of the world in court. It was an interesting and exciting experience for me, despite some of my fellow jurors feeling otherwise. I will cut to the case, and ask for your deliberation on the matter.

A law firm has brought their ex-client to court in efforts to collect unpaid fees.

The law firm and the client had a signed contract, obligating the firm to bill the client bi-weekly.

The contract stated the client would (of course) pay his bills.

The client was not billed in accordance to the contract. Instead, the client was billed 7-8 weeks late, and in excess of funds that he could afford.

The client did not pay the bill, which upon it's initial billing included interest and late fees.

While there were many shades of grey on this case, our deliberation was focused on the verdicts proposed to us from the judge. Sadly, the verdict questions were very black and white. The very first question posed, was verdict 1 below. You must answer the questions in order of which they are given.

Verdict 1
Did the law firm fulfill their side of the contract?
If your answer is no, you have completed your decision.
If your answer is yes, please continue to Verdict 2.

Verdict 2
(You are only reading this question if you have answered yes to the verdict above and agree that the law firm did everything as stated in the contract)

Did the client fulfill his side of the contract?
If your answer is yes, you have completed your decision.
If your answer is no, continue on with questions related to financial responsibilities of the client.

What did you decide?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 349 - Preparation

I found myself book shopping tonight for two reasons. First, I joined a book club and the assigned reading for January is, "Before I Go To Sleep" by author, S.J. Watson. Secondly I need something to keep myself entertained tomorrow as I must report for jury duty selection. Talk about scary stuff!

Have I wasted my money on a book I won't be able to stand? When I meet with the book club members, will I have anything intelligent to share? Will I get picked to sit on a jury tomorrow? What if I get some odd case and am sequestered for months? (Could that even happen?)

I will put my run-away imagination on hold for now and call it a night. As I head to bed, I just know I'm sure to dream of the mobsters from "Good Fellas" chasing after me, a horse head in my bed from "The Godfather" or some type of similar punishment for having made the "wrong" decision in their pending court case. Only time will tell if I need to "...go to the mattresses".

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 348 - Pheww!!!

The socks were a hit!
(And she loved the Margarita - what was I so worried about?)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 347 - Socks

My co-workers decided to organize an office "Secret Santa" gift exchange and I was unfortunate enough to pull my boss's name. I say unfortunate not because I dislike my boss, but talk about performance anxiety! To add insult to injury, her requested gift, "socks". Wtf? What am I supposed to do with that? Socks? What sick person wants socks for Christmas? My boss, that's who. Okay, I give her credit - she did help me narrow it down and provided a minute detail that she desired "Smart Wool" socks, "but not too thick".

After seeking out multiple opinions of others, I came to a conclusion that I'd be purchasing a "Margarita" pattern striped pair of wool socks. Who doesn't like a good Margarita? (OK, so that happens to be MY favorite drink, humor me). Off to the sporting goods store I went in hopes of finding my much needed, hoping to impress, Margarita wool socks..."not too thick", I reminded myself. Upon arrival, I saw what I considered more impressive looking socks, but they were cushioned. Would they be too thick? "But they'd probably be more comfortable", I thought to myself. "But what kind of shoes might she pair them with? Would they be too thick to fit into her shoes? Oh good grief Lynn, just buy the dang Margarita socks", I told myself. I then contemplated sizes - small, medium, large? "Why can't anything be easy", I wondered? "For crying out loud, it's JUST socks!".

Later that night, I wrapped the socks paired with a bottle of Mike's Margarita's and hoped my boss would appreciate the humor and connection of the two items. What if she hated the striped socks? What if she thought the Margarita drink was a ridiculous idea, especially for the office? Oh well, the box was taped shut, and the gift wrapped. Only time will tell if she appreciates the "socks...not too thick".

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 346 - MMOM

1. Tomorrow I'm going to _________?
Do what I do every day...TAKE OVER THE WORLD! Ok, not really, but that sounds a lot better then going to work, doesn't it? In a perfect world, I'd quit typing this post and go pack my gym bag and lunch now, so I can start my day off on the right foot!

2. Pudding or Jello?
Jello is just gross! The texture alone just kills Jello for me. It's pudding all the way for this girl.

3. What book are you currently reading?
Well, I've started "Ron Santo: Perfect 10", but have a new assignment for a book club I just joined, and I also need to purchase and read Betty White's new book!

4. What is the first concert you went to see?
If I remember correctly, George Michael. Either him, or the New Kids on the Block.

5. What is your current weather?
Warm and toasty, curled up on my couch!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 345 - Quote

Today's post is simple, but it rings so true for me, I just have to share it. Today's post is brought to you from the movie, "We Bought A Zoo". I fell in love with the following quote, "All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.” because I live it all the time!

So often, in 20 seconds of courage I make a decision to do something and then as I wait for it to happen, or strive towards completing whatever ridiculous goal I created for myself, I think, "Why (or how?) the hell do I get myself into this stuff?"! Despite my doubt after the initial decision, I always seem to be bettered in some way by my experiences, and can't wait to see what 2012 brings!

PS) The most recent 20 seconds of insanity, I mean, courage may lead me to kick boxing...we'll see how that goes.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day 344 - Sub

Despite being afraid to hear the answer "No", and occasionally thinking, "You can just skip your last 5K of the year since it falls on a Saturday workday" (that thought of course, was quickly followed by thoughts of, "Are you crazy??? You can't flush 11 months of commitment down the drain!), I mustered the courage and asked the newbie at work if he'd cover for my class next weekend. He happily agreed, even though he wasn't even scheduled to work that particular day. I think I took a step back in shock that he answered "yes", and eventually thanked him. Sadly, over coming that fear was probably the easiest part of my work day. After work, I headed north to hang out with friends for dinner and drinks. All I can say is, if laughter is the medicine of laugh, I should live forever.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 343 - Leopards, and Scots and Bears, oh my!

Today I spent the morning sleeping in, but don't worry I eventually got motivated to get up and moving. After all, I had guests to prepare for! My morning started slow with some basic "chores" like laundry, grocery shopping and cleaning, while the afternoon found me chopping, cooking and prepping for tonight's dinner. Before I knew it, the candles were lit, my guests had arrived and the wine was flowing.

After dinner I opened up a card and gift brought by my visiting friends, and was astonished by the thoughtfulness contained inside. While I may not have shown it at the moment, I was overwhelmed with their generosity, and their beliefs in my dreams and willingness to help me achieve them. It's amazing when you realize your friends (or family really) believe in you more then you believe in yourself at times! I can't wait for the weather to warm in efforts to put my gift to use!

After letting our dinner digest just a bit, we decided to head out to Lincoln Park Zoo, all bundled up (some of us in our animal hats), in efforts to take in the light sites. Despite the cold, I was content to be in good company, and was warmed by the blessings of good friends, and holiday lights. I have to say however, while the lights, music, animal and ice exhibits were amazing, the best part of the outing was turning around and seeing ourselves in a "Fun House" mirror as much shorter and "squatty" versions of ourselves, we all laughed out loud with full belly chuckles.

Before heading home, there was one last stop to make and that was for cupcakes at the infamous Molly's Cupcakes on Clark. Though the store was too crowded and we were too full, neither stopped us from picking out cupcakes to be savored later. A "Ron Bennington", Blueberry Cheesecake, and Chocolate Decadence followed us home for the night. Once home, the cupcakes were set aside and the couch was over taken by three tired site-seers who now chose to relax and warm themselves with a drink or two, and the holiday classic Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer. The glow of the Christmas tree added to the dosage of holiday cheer.

All too quickly the movie ended and coats were being put on to face the drive home (thankfully, I got to stay put!). As we said our good-byes I wished my friends a safe ride home and proceeded to change into my jammies. I stayed up a bit longer waiting for text confirmations that the arrived home safely and shortly after, I put myself to bed to dream of lights, and living "cage free"!

Thanks B-Rob and Brown Bear!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 342 - Wine

Tonight I had a date with a current friend, and 3 complete strangers and loved it! I'm so glad I took a chance and joined the "Girls About Town" Meet Up group in efforts to try new things (like wine tasting) and meet new people.

Upon arrival at the wine shop, Provenance, I met up with my girlfriend and wasn't quite sure how the night would was just the two of us, and there should have been 7. As I always have a good time with my girl, I didn't really mind if it ended up being just the two of us, however that wasn't the point of the night. As the minutes passed, another Girl About Town arrived and the three of us began tasting wine.

The shop workers, and the wine distributor hosting the tasting were friendly and knowledgeable, but the wine? Wow. I was not impressed with the wine choices at all! Now, don't get me wrong, I do not know a lot about wine, but I'm not quite sure how one creates a wine that tastes like a combination of dirt and cough syrup and expect it to fly off the shelf. To each their own I suppose. The wine tasting was not a total loss, however. As we milled around the store, other girls showed up and I found a recommended sparkling Shiraz that I chose to purchase. Fingers crossed the "sparkling" is sweet and over comes the typical Shiraz dryness.

After the tasting and shopping we walked around the corner and headed to Garcia's, a (new for me) Mexican restaurant. As we walked down Lincoln in the heart of Lincoln Square, we couldn't help but take notice of all the quaint shops, and hopefully we remember which ones we want to return to. In addition, we even saw Santa on the corner, but I'm not quite what he was spreading as he didn't seem that full of holiday cheer.

Once at dinner, surrounded by too many bowls of chips and dip, awesome conversation ensued. It was great to hear so many life stories and experiences similar to my own. (Finally, validation I am not the only one who goes through some of the crap I've been through - it's not just me!). Compliments, votes of confidence and encouragement flowed, followed by new proposals for future hang outs. The night flew by all too fast and before I knew it, our check was being divided up and it was time to head home. We hugged and said our good-byes, and this Girl About Town drove home to put her Sparkling Shiraz on ice and blog all about the fun she had. Can't wait til the next meet up, but for now it's off to bed as I've got yet another Friday off tomorrow, and I need to rest up for my pending dinner guests!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 341 - Chat

I said I would, and I did. I will be officially joining a deaf chat group this coming weekend (I'm already RSVPd!). I'm scared that my signing skills are not up to snuff to participate with other signers, but practice makes perfect (eventually) right? I'll keep you all posted with updates afterwards...wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 340 - Jingle

I signed up for my 12th out of 12 monthly events today! One last 5K for the year to benefit the Arthritis Foundation. Now, what to do next year? Suggestions?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 339 - MMOM

1. Monday's are _________?
Icky... They almost always mean having to go to work and And work combined with gloomy, winter weather qualify Mondays as officially "icky".

2. What is your favorite kind of milkshake?
Chocolate...or on occasion, Banana Yogurt.

3. What monthly bill do you most dislike paying?
All of them! But now that I think about it, my cable bill is the worst. I don't watch enough TV to justify the enormous bill, and what I do want to watch are the channels I don't get!

4. How many email addresses do you use on a regular basis?
Wow... I think I Facebook more then e-mail!

5. What color lights are on your Christmas Tree?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day 338 - Bling

I bought it. Bling that is. And, as I have no imagination when it comes to matching jewelry with clothing, I have no idea what I'll actually wear it with. Believe it or not, this is a scary "thing" that I chose to tackle. "Buy the flashy item" is not easy for me, as I'm the shopper that sees bright, flashy things, yet tends to leave them in the store as I have no idea how to execute them. Here's to overcoming lack of imagination and actually wearing this little bling ball of color!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day 337 - Therapy

I've been dealing with a headache now for what I'm guessing has been 24 hours or so. It's nothing that a trip to the chiropractor won't fix, however, my next appointment isn't until Monday. Until then, it's Advil, ice and rest, which do little to help with the painful, "ice-pick stabbing my brain" like pain. With that said, I surely didn't feel like going to work today and much less, dealing with the public.

Despite the lack of desire to get out of bed, I went to work hoping to feel better. I'm of the old adage that "If ya just get up and moving, you'll feel better". Well, that wasn't the case for today, but what did help me was a great dose of happy, puppy tail therapy. Shortly after I arrived at my dog training job, I saw two past clients with their Chihuahua in tow. Miss Fox (the cutest and only Chihuahua dog I like!) wiggled and yipped and barked in excitement as I approached her shopping cart. And then, all training went out the window! As she jumped about and squirmed, giving me silly puppy kisses, I couldn't help but just pet her and encourage her to do so. Several jumps, licks to my face and pettings later, she started to slowly calm down. As I chatted with her owners, they raved about their past training and were astonsihed at just how much Miss Fox was over joyed to see me.

With all this affection, my pain (although temporary) melted away and I was filled with nothing but happiness and appreciation for the moment. As I walked away, a much happier person, I couldn't help but hope that some day a human will get that excited to see me! Ahhh, some day. Until then, thank you Miss Fox, you totally made my day!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 336 - 30

Only thirty more posts to go for this, self induced, annual blog challenge - I can't believe I've made it this far! Today finds me enjoying my first Friday of the month off! That's right, I decided to use the rest of my vacation time by taking every Friday off in December. Today has afforded me to do some long over due "chores" and errands. Don't worry, before I worked the entire day away, I treated myself to a daring, Opi Red manicure. Oowww, sassy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 335 - December

I can't believe December is already here. With it comes holiday celebrations and decorations, and well, more celebrations. But what happens when someone tells you that you can't show appreciation for your staff by celebrating over a holiday lunch or dinner? "Others might not want to take their staff out", is what I hear. Or, "Your team is small, and feelings might be hurt if other managers can't afford to take out their larger teams".

While I understand the concerns, t
oday I bucked the system and took my staff out for lunch regardless of the things I've heard. While I did request my staff to keep the "mandatory staff meeting", on the down low, I hope that they know that I do appreciate them and the work they do, and taking them to lunch was the least I could do to show it. Sometimes, some "rules" just need to be broken.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 334 - Hock-A-Doo!

Taking a chance on an unknown musical paid off. I ended up loving everything about "Memphis". The dance, the songs, the story...all seemed to hit a nerve or spark an energy that made the production more then enjoyable. If you haven't seen it, I suggest you check out the tour dates and check it out!

PS) Is Hock-a-doo a dirty word?
(You can only find out by watching Memphis!)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 333 - Fab-a-less!

This hat...

Makes me SO happy!!!

Sometimes, you just have to embrace life and all the accessories it has to offer.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 332 - MMOM

1. I really need to clean my _________?
Entire apartment...but I'd settle for a quick clean up of the bathroom.

2. What food makes you think of Christmas?
Peppermint anything.

3. If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?
Thirty! I loved being 30!

4. What was your first paying job?
I was a "bus boy" at a restaurant. I think I got paid $2.01 an hour, and my evil boss Gladys Hayslip made me earn every penny and then some of that $2.01! I was only 14 at the time, but I remember she could sure crack the whip!

5. Have you read the Twilight series?
No, but I just hosted a weekend movie marathon and watched all 3 "episodes". Despite most of my peers joking and judging, I liked the movies.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 331 - Meetup

In my ongoing efforts to do something new and challenge myself, I've signed up for a few "meetup" groups. is a website where you can join groups of people with similar interests in efforts to not only meet new people, but share in and experience new things. Of course, signing up is the easy part, it's the actual participating that will be scary for me.

Getting out and meeting new people can be nerve wracking by itself, but I plan on not only meeting new people, but meeting new people to sign with. Will they judge me on my inability to sign something correctly? Will they judge me in general? All thoughts that I will power through in efforts to expand my learning and friends circle. Wish me luck, I'll be sure to post about my first Deaf Chat meetup!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 330 - Extreme Couponing!

Today I was not afraid to use 24 coupons, and (sadly) have the cashier ring up 24 individual sales! Ok, I was a bit intimidated by the idea of 24 individual sales, but as the coupon stated, "One coupon per transaction." I was just following the rules, right? I took comfort in the fact that it wasn't my fault that the cashier would have to do extra work, it was the coupon's fault! The best thing, besides my savings, was that the cashier didn't seem to mind the monotonous transactions, and even seemed to enjoy them. By the end of the ringing, I had saved close to 95% on my items!

Canned dog food: $1.69 each x 24 = $40.56
Coupon = Free Can of Dog Food
Payment = 13 cents sales tax per each can = $3.12
Savings = $37.44

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 329 - Black Friday

Today I braved it! The coupon clipping, the ad-organzing, the standing in long lines, freezing outdoors before the stores opened, losing sleep, fighting over parking spots, dealing with honking traffic jams, yep, I missed it all and braved the day by staying in bed! Hope all you Black Friday shoppers had fun, and got all the items you dreamt of!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 328 - Happy Hats Giving

This is Arthur. He is an aardvark, but more so, he is a giant helium balloon waiting to be blown up for the Chicago McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Sadly, as he was unpacked, it was discovered he had a large rip in his right, umm, paw? And needed a patch job. Thankfully the Balloon Captains knew how to fix Arthur so he could continue to be inflated, and walked down State Street.

The best thing about the parade this year, was not Arthur, the balloons or the crowd, but rather the kindness of a stranger named Sandy. Having lived in the Chicago area my entire life, I'm not sure how at my age, I can still misjudge the weather and dress inappropriately, but I did. I made the mistake of going "hat less" on a cold, Fall day. Thankfully, after talking to other volunteers and strangers (hopefully a good trait of mine?) I met Sandy. She not only had a hat, but a hood and chose to give up her hat so I could wear it and stay warm. It was neon orange and didn't match a thing I was wearing, but I didn't care. There's a saying that goes something like, "God watches over fools and babies". All I can say is, I'm too old to be a baby, but thankful for His kindness, and that of strangers. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 327 - 3:00PM

Today I made a judgement call to send my staff home early. I was nervous and afraid of over stepping my bounds as I'm merely a "Supervisor" versus a Manager, but I'm also of the school of, "act now and apologize later". So, with that thought, I decided my staff earned a well deserved, early start to their holiday weekend. While I was ready to back my decision come Monday, I was happy to hear that another manager "okayed" everyone leaving early, too. Whewww, no explanations needed and tons of family togetherness started early, now that's my kind of day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 326 - Disconnect

I did the thing I thought I couldn't do. It kinda backfired, but hopefully that was just a temporary flare up and my future will remain hassle free.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 325 - MMOM

1. I wish I had more time to _________?
Do anything but work! I'd love to travel more, relax more, read more...

2. What is your favorite kind of soup?
Zuppa Tuscana from Olive Garden! I've made it at home a couple of times, but it tastes much better when someone else has to do all the work!

3. Where will you eat Thanksgiving dinner?
At a restaurant! Don't worry though, I'll be cooking for Christmas!

4. What is your favorite time of day?
Although I hate getting out of bed, the morning! I love not so much the getting up, but getting things accomplished before the work day starts.

5. Did you start Christmas shopping yet?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 324 - Trot

Today I completed the 11th of my 12 monthly events goal.With little sleep, paired with cold weather, I found myself not wanting to even attend. I pushed myself out of bed, got dressed and looked for the Turkey Trot 5K. When I saw the inflatable below, I knew I was in the right place.

The BEST warming station EVER.

Turkeys everywhere!!!

What I was very happy to see!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 323 - Fun?

This could be fun, right???

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 322 - Lead

Today I lead the lost. I guess that's not a hard thing to do, but let me tell you about it anyway. Today I got called on by our IT (Information Technology) group to answer their questions. Like, in what world do the geeks (as I affectionately call them) ask me for advice? The best thing about the situation was, that the geeks have a break in the system and while they think they know how to fix it (behind the scenes) they have no idea how to test it! That's where I come in. Not only did I give the IT team instructions, but after realizing they seemed unable to follow them, I decided it was easier if I just stepped up and offerred to run their tests for them. It felt good to be able to "lead the pack" and be confident in the nerd realm. And now, as I proof-read this post, I realize the picture above seems to pertain to me as well.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 321 - Cry

Today I showed the ultimate "weakness" in front of my boss (of all people). It was an accident. I was upset and frustrated with work, and took a moment to break down and cry in the privacy of my own cubical and then SHE walked in. SHE never comes to visit, but SHE had perfect timing today to catch me in the middle of the ugly cry. You know THAT cry, the one you don't want anyone to ever see you doing.

I was impressed SHE seemed to care as we typically have little to no daily interaction. SHE made sure to offer support and concern, and followed up with me throughout the day. I think SHE wanted to make sure I wasn't having a nervous breakdown.The best thing about it all? I think SHE took sympathy on me, as not only do I get an extra day off, but I got invited to a work conference in California for early next year. I can use a visit to the sunshine state, work or not!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 320 - Hissssss...

Today I held one of these.
It was small, and smooth.
The scariest thing?
ondering what was being digested in it's bulging stomach.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 319 - Tuesdays with Lynnie

You've all heard of the story, "Tuesdays With Morrie" right? It was originally a book, turned "made for TV movie", and eventually turned into an off Broadway play - all of which I have proudly read, viewed and attended multiple times. The story, written by one of my favorite authors Mitch Albom, is a recount of the author's habitual Tuesday visits with one of his favorite college professors, Morrie. As Mitch visits the aging and ailing Morrie, he learns valuable life lessons. I highly recommend reading the book if you haven't already, opposed to reading or following the useless Tuesday lessons I have posted here.

During a sound sleep, if my jaw happens to fall open, my cat will wake me up at 3:07am by sniffing around and trying to climb into my mouth, as if hunting down whatever it was that I last ate.

When requesting, "quite a few" hot sauce packets from Taco Bell despite ordering only one small item, you will receive 15 hot sauce packets (which is about 11 more then one really needs).

Starting laundry at 9:45pm and then staying up to blog about it is not a smart idea. Ever.

Asking someone in American Sign Language class how to sign the word, "fart" is never a good idea as it is immediately followed by immature giggle fits, followed even more quickly by the teacher telling me (despite my age) to go stand in the corner (again).

The less time I spend on my appearance, including skipping a hair washing, the more compliments I receive. Go figure. Less really is more.

Based on the comment above, and his ability to find the one loose strand of fringe on a blanket, and then proceed to pull on it and destroy half of said blanket, I've come to realize I have the feline version of the monster dog in the novel, "Marley and Me". Good grief.

The distance from parking space to bathroom is directly proportionate to the minuscule size of your bladder.

While you may have learned nothing by these useless lessons, I hope you've at least giggled a bit and have been reminded that sometimes, despite childhood like immaturity, it's good to just be a "kid" again and not take life so seriously. Happy, Morrie-inspired Tuesday!

Morrie Schwartz - Dancing through life, and enjoying every minute of it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 318 - MMOM

1. Does your family/friends know about your blog?
I'm not too sure how many people are aware of it, but there's a link on my Facebook page if anyone pays attention...

2. What is your favorite card game?
I don't really play card games that often, but I'd have to say Poker or Solitaire.

3. What do you wear to bed?
T-shirt and under-roos or shorts, usually.

4. What is your favorite kind of French Fry?

5. What is your usual bed time?
Somewhere around 10:30pm, I'm soooo not a night owl.