Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 90 - StreetWise

"StreetWise, Inc. is a social-enterprise organization designed to help unemployed or underemployed men and women out of poverty. The organization accomplishes this mission in two ways: First, StreetWise provides the clients with an array of social services, with a particular focus on employment training and housing support; second, through the weekly publication of StreetWise Magazine, which is bought by the agency's vendors and then resold by them for a profit. StreetWise combines the opportunity of gainful employment with supportive social services to assist vendors on their road back to financial self-sufficiency." -

There is a man down on his luck who sells a small newsprint magazine called, "StreetWise" just outside of my building. I pass him by every now and again but never stop to talk. He's very quiet and occasionally says "Hello", or "Have a good night ma'am" and while I reply, I never talk to him. The more often I pass him by, the more the idea of talking to him seems awkward. Putting my own feelings aside, I decided to introduce myself as it seems silly to see someone near every day and not know who they are. The conversation didn't quite go as well as I had hoped. Maybe Mom was right, I shouldn't talk to strangers!

Lynn - "Hi, my name is Lynn. My boyfriend Mike has talked to you before, but I've never stopped to say hi, so I thought I'd say hello and introduce myself."

Man - Blank stare

Lynn - Reading the identification tag around his neck, "'re name is Steve?".

Steve - "Yeah." Blank stare continues .

Lynn - "Well, I pass you by quite often as I live in the building on the corner..." (pointing at building)

Steve - Still staring as if I'm from Mars.

Lynn - "...and thought I should say hi since I see you all the time."

Steve - Confused blank stare still looms over face suggesting I've got aliens climbing out of my ears now.

Lynn - "Well...okayyyy."

Steve - Still staring, obviously watching aliens launch starship from my head.

Lynn - "I just wanted to let you know who I was officially so..."

Steve - More confused then ever wondering how the aliens got into my head.

Lynn - Realizing the conversation is painfully one-sided, "Okay, well have a good night!".

Steve - "Good night?." Obviously thankful I'm taking the aliens with me.

Lynn - Continues walk home head hanging in shame at conversational failure. Giggles follow.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 89 - Oh Deer!

Taking a photo (of course) is nothing new for me, but what I had to do to get this photo was! My photo seeking offenses include, but are not limited to, an illegal U-turn, changing lanes illegally and with no turn signal and obstruction of traffic. I'm sure any police officer would have had a grand time writing me up a multiple citation ticket for my fearless, uhh, crazy behavior, but I didn't let the thought of that stand in the way of my photo. (I'm sure I shouldn't be admitting this in a public forum!)

So, why do a couple of deer send me into a crazed driving frenzy that mirror the skills of a new student driver? Because I'm a city girl and don't get to see free roaming wildlife, unless you count rats and pigeons as wildlife? I was taught to appreciate all of nature at a young age (except for maybe rats and pigeons) and was happily surprised to see the deer just outside of my place of work. Life's too short to just keep driving, sometimes you have to stop and smell the...well...take photos.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 88 - A - Z Challenge

I stumbled upon the blog,"Tossing it Out" ( quite some time ago and read about the proposed A-Z challenge and thought it was a great idea, however I didn't sign up despite thinking about it...quite often. Today, inspired by a fellow blogger (thanks John!), I decided to sign up and take on the challenge. So, for any "regular" readers, you'll see a slight change up in my April blogging, but don't worry, I'm sure they'll be chocked full of new fears and challenges to conquer!

How does the Challenge work?

The premise of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is to post something on your blog every day in April except for Sundays. In doing this you will have 26 blog posts--one for each letter of the alphabet. Each day you will theme your post according to a letter of the alphabet. You will only be limited by your own imagination in this challenge. There is an unlimited universe of possibilities. You can post essays, short pieces of fiction, poetry, recipes, travel sketches, or anything else you would like to write about. You don't have to be a writer to do this. You can post photos, including samples of your own art or craftwork. Everyone who blogs can post from A to Z.

How can this Challenge help you?

Ask someone who did it last year. I invite any of you who Blogged From A to Z in April 2010 to leave a comment below telling how the challenge helped you as a blogger and otherwise. Some of the benefits that I have seen mentioned and personally experienced were improvement as a blogger and a writer, greater self-discipline, finding new blog friends, and increasing followers to each of our own blogs. This year the Challenge is being announced two months ahead of time which gives everyone plenty of time to prepare. Taking this in into consideration I anticipate having at least 300 bloggers joining in with us and I hope you are one of them.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 87 - 104.3 K-Hits

I have big ideas, and big thoughts, and sometimes my enthusiasm for them get me into situations where I need to back up what I say, think or do. Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it proved to be nerve wracking for me this past weekend. Example? I got invited to call in to a radio station today to promote my "Run for the Cheetah" fund-raising event. While I found this to be a huge opportunity, I have to admit, I had a 48 hour case of stage-fright wondering how this would play out.

To back track a bit, I am half way to my $1,000 fundraising goal to save the cheetah and have just under a month to complete the task. Out of fear of not reaching my goal, I'm getting pretty bold as to who I'm asking for help and reached out to one of the race's sponsors, that sponsor being 104.3 K-Hits radio station, playing the best of the 60's, 70's and 80's! I thought nothing of posting a comment on the radio's Facebook page, I thought nothing of giving myself a shameless plug, and I thought nothing of asking them for help but I never thought I'd be requested to call into the radio station and speak live, on the air! As I read the invite my jaw dropped in excitement (OK it was more like shock).

I played out the phone call in my head over and over, and how smooth I might (or might not) be on the radio. I doubled up on my cheetah information just in case the DJ tried to throw me a curve ball, but my boyfriend assured me, having worked in radio, that the DJ would more than likely coach me on how the call would go before putting me on the air. Feeling semi-prepared, I decided I would call in at 5:00pm. 5:00pm came and went and I was still sitting on the couch trying to muster the nerve to call. I reviewed my information again and again to make sure I had the radio station information correct, that my cheetah facts were accurate and that I would at least seem to know what it was that I was going to be talking about.

Finally at 5:36pm my fingers nervously dialed. As the phone continued to ring, I hoped for voicemail, or that whatever line I was calling would check their caller ID and call me back. That way, I could say I called and tried, yet wouldn't have to really face any of my fears or nerves. Hello, it's a radio station Lynn! There is no voicemail, and just as I thought that, someone picked up. As I couldn't hear the beginning of the person's intro who picked up the phone, I asked for Bo Reynolds the DJ. The person speaking quickly identified himself as Bo, and said, "Hang on, let me do the weather first". Umm, yeah, I just called the radio station and asked for the DJ as if I was calling a girlfriend. It was only while I was on hold listening to the weather that it dawned on me that everyone listening across the state of IL could hear me! Thank goodness I couldn't hear myself!

Bo graciously picked back up and told me to speak up and tell him and the listeners why I was calling. I did. I spouted off race day event details, website information, my name and how to donate and it wasn't until he asked, "So why should we care about something half the world away?", that I got nervous. My voice cracked and I went through my cheetah fact list and their projected extinction rate, and although I had the information correct I can only hope my nerves didn't over power my cause. Bo went over the details again for the listeners and wished me luck, and asked me to keep him posted on the outcome. Somehow, I think I'll email the radio station for that update versus calling in again!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 86 - Velveeta

That's right, I'm writing a post about Velveeta Shells & Cheese. Why is this such a big deal you might ask? Because I was raised a Kraft Macaroni and Cheese girl my entire life. Never once have I tried the Shells & Cheese in fear that it would be horrible and not measure up to my beloved Mac N Cheese.

Wow, was I wrong! I love this stuff! Of course, it won't do much for my waistline, but I love the shells versus the macaroni noodle, and love that the cheese sauce is pre-made and not dependent on other ingredients. I think this allows for a consistent product, not dependent on cooking skills which is definitely a plus in my book! Velveeta Shells and Cheese, where ya been all my life?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 85 - Kibble

Every Saturday I encounter an overly pushy and arrogant pet food rep who claims his product is the best on the market. I don't believe it, and of course, that's just my personal opinion. To be fair, I didn't think much of his product before he came along, but his personality has done nothing to change my mind about his food of choice. Typically I just nod and fain interest as I feel overwhelmed and cornered by his tactics, but...

Tired of hearing the same spiel about his superior product, I finally set intimidation aside and questioned him about the quality of the ingredients in his product, as corn and by-products are not something I choose to feed my pets. Of course, in true salesman form, he had an explanation for both and honestly, good for him. That means he's well versed on his product and believes in it, but his explanations did nothing to convince me to switch my pets' food. Hopefully, knowing I'm an educated consumer and that I have my mind made up about what I choose to feed my pets will help him to leave me alone in the future!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 84 - Fish

"Give people a fish, and they eat for today.
them to fish and they will eat for a lifetime."

- Lao Tzu -

Typically I am overly helpful to my "customers" and do not only do my job, but theirs as well. I figure things will roll more smoothly and get accomplished in a much more timely fashion if I just do them myself. I can assume, thinking about this subject as I type this, that part of this behavior is me wanting to be in control, and part of it is me just wanting to get things done. Unfortunately, this behavior has led many people to take advantage of my willingness to help, and doesn't allow me to get my own work done.

Despite fearing being not liked, or being "suddenly uncooperative", when asked to create a contract today, I pushed back and said no. I explained to my "customer" how they could create the document themselves, and then signed off. In my head, despite feeling guilty, I kept telling myself, "I have to teach them how to fish...". Later, I was pleasantly surprised to read a thank you email from my customer and that also, she had happily created the paperwork she needed. Hopefully this is the start of getting my desk back in order instead of it looking like a mass grave where trees have come to die and turn into folders and paperwork.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 83 - Craftsmanship

In the past, I was told by many of my professors of three-dimensional art that I have poor craftsmanship. It seems the more I tried to build, cut, or glue anything the worse it became. Even though I took great care and time in trying to complete my assignments, I just never seemed to have the hands for it and furthermore, couldn't convince my teachers that I didn't just slop something together at the last minute in efforts to rush through my homework. (John - I will admire your train hobby by a far!).

Out of fear of pure sloppiness, I tend to shy away from things like sewing (can't cut two patterns the same size if my life depended on it), model building (I will slop glue all over), and please don't ask me to paint anything unless you want something reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock. And what's worse, the longer I take and the harder I try to perfect my projects, the worse my works become!

In efforts to counter attack this problem, I've decided to sign up for a beading/jewelry making class at Caravan Beads in Chicago. Hopefully any imperfect craftsmanship will be seen as unique artistic design! I am starting small with a simple wire and bead earring making class, and hope not to see any red comments on my projects stating "C+ Great design, poor craftsmanship!".

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 82 - Spooky's Mom

I took the time to talk to Spooky's mom today. Spooky is a Miniature Pinscher who's mom frequents my part time job quite often as of late. To jog your memory, I blogged briefly about her before in post, "Day 66 - ASL" and how I feel a bit uncomfortable around her as I cannot fluently communicate with her as I do not know sign language. I suppose my biggest fear is that neither one of us will understand the other and walk away "empty handed" from our conversation attempts. I casted off that fear today and waved hello to encourage whatever type of communication was to be had.

Despite missing individual signals in our conversation, I got the bigger picture that one of her dogs chews everything and that she was looking for a non-chewable food dish, and water bottle. I was able to point out some items that should help her out at home. As we parted ways, I gave one of the few signs I know, "thank you", and walked away. This encounter let me know that my passion for ASL is still strong, and I can't wait to take sign classes and learn how to really communicate with her. Spring lessons start March 29th, and Summer sessions starts in July - wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 81 - Rent

Who knew you could negotiate rent?! Despite fear, I cautiously called my rental agency and asked if the proposed rent increase was "set in stone", or if there room for discussion (see post "Day 74 - Moving?"). Kristine was more then happy to work with me and asked what type of increase I would be comfortable with. "Well none really", I replied, figuring why not go for broke! She continued to discuss the situation with me, and said she'd give me a call back after speaking with management.

Later, I happily listened to my voicemail wherein Kristine stated her company's counter offer was a 1% increase, or basically $10.00 per month, and that she would give me back my pre-paid rent, essentially making the month of May a "free" rent month! I can dig it! I am super excited that I don't have to deal with moving right now and that I can stay put for at least another year. Moreso, I am thankful that I set fear aside, and just asked the questions I did - what a great result!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 80 - Uplifting (Part Deux)

72 posts ago, I blogged about my previous bra fitting disaster and had made an appointment with a renown bra fitter in Chicago. This past weekend was my much anticipated appointment and I loved it! Despite almost being derailed and made late by public transportation (by the way, I'm getting good at this bus riding thing!) I arrived just in time.

Rochelle, my bubbly consultant, was amazingly fun and professional. She immediately found me garments that fit and explained how a bra should feel and fit. Wow, what a difference! Despite having blown my bra-budget on recent veterinary bills, I still had fun and felt very confident leaving the store that I will be able to return and purchase the life changing items I fell in love with. I can't wait!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 79 - 5K #2

- Post Race Breakfast: Guiness Beer & Banana -

Today was the St. Paddy's Day 5K run/walk event which is the third event of my monthly challenge. I really would have rather slept in, all snuggled up warm in my bed, but at the last minute I threw on some clothes and headed out in the drizzle. As I hailed a cab to head to Lincoln Park I wasn't the least bit excited to do yet another event, alone. I had a lot on my mind, and admittedly am a bit in the dumps about the well being of my cat (see "Tird" post). Despite mood and lack of motivation, I planned on finishing what I started.

As I walked about the sea of people in green waiting to start the race, I stumbled upon two women and thought I had nothing to lose by striking up a conversation with them so I did just that. "Have you guys participated in this race before?", I asked. And the rest was history. It was as if I had known Shelly, Jodi and Tom (who joined us later) for years. The conversation flowed between the four of us throughout the race and ended with beer and bananas for breakfast (post race carb-loading).

By forcing myself out of the house and rejecting an invitation for one to my own pity party, I met some really great people. I was thankful that our paths crossed and the conversation made for a quick 5K. I left the post race festivities with hugs and an email address to keep in touch with my new friends. I hope we can do more events like this in the future, together.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 78 - Tird

- I See You! -

I had to take my cat, Tird, to the vet for unexplained facial tics or tremors, I'm not quite sure how to explain what's going on with him unless you actually see it. But I was very afraid to confront a diagnosis as I don't believe this is a good sign in his advancing age. Despite a near, $400 vet visit, I'm still left with no comfort or real diagnosis. Of course, in my vet's defense, I am still waiting on one additional blood test, at a cost of another $100, that may or may not explain my concerns. Other then the facial tics, my kid is in great health.

Despite being overly stressed and worried, it's always fun to take Tird to the vet as the receptionist, assistants and vet assume that either I'm bringing in a stool sample (turd), or that there must be type-o on the paperwork. It's always the same as they review their appointment book, they look up with a puzzled face searching the lobby for an animal that looks tired. They then, in embarrassment, call out, "Tired?" and I correct them and say, "No, it really is Tird". In response, they look at me even more oddly as they internally question why someone would name a beloved pet Tird. It's then that I feel obligated to share the story of how Tird got his name.

When I adopted him, my cat's name was Cowboy. I had no intention of changing it, despite not really caring for it. As he was my first cat, I had no idea what type of feline antics I was in for. Totally unprepared for behaviors such as a cat jumping off the sofa, launching himself into my fake tree, subsequently knocking it over and then running down the hallway in what I'm sure was laughter I would yell things like, "Stop it you little shit!". The same phrase was repeated when I invited a date inside, only to find that Cowboy had taken my dirty under garments out of my laundry basket and strewn them about the living room floor for my visitor to see upon arrival.

I'm sure it was around the time my tennis shoes became play things, and got dragged down the hallway by their laces that I thought yelling the word "shit" was inappropriate and changed my explicative to, "Stop it you little turd!". Believing turd was a bit softer on the ears, I continued to shout it out as Cowboy did such things as knocking over my cage of pet mice and setting them free in the apartment (it took two days to find them all). And I'm pretty sure the word turd was yelled when I found my new glasses had to be replaced as I found teeth marks and piercings in them as someone seemed to use them as a personal chew toy. As the ridiculous behaviors continued, so did the name calling.

It wasn't until my roommate at the time either called me a turd (for acting like one) or said the word turd for some reason that I can't remember, that Cowboy came running over to her. It was at that point we both realized, the cat thought his name was Turd. Continuing to call him Cowboy was futile as he never responded to it again. To make myself feel better about such an odd name, I believed if I spelled the foul word with an "i" instead of a "u" it some how made the word less offensive.

As if on que as I typed this blog, Tird decided to get a grocery bag full of garbage stuck on his head that I had forgotten to tie up and toss out earlier. He then proceeded to zoom around the apartment with the evil bag chasing him, making sure to emtpy all of it's contents onto the kitchen, dining room, living room and bedroom floor - what a mess! In the heat of the moment and out of utter frustration watching the disaster unfold, I yelled, "Stop it you asshole!!!". As I finish this post, I realize I really better watch what I say or I'll be re-naming my cat something worse then his current name! Anyone have a bar of soap I can wash my mouth out with?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 77 - Wash

- Car Wash -

As a child my aunt would often take me out on errands with her. One of the errands I remember we repeated quite often was getting her car washed at the automatic car wash. I don't think I ever let her know I was afraid, but I had multiple fears about the car wash and still do today, just not on such a large scale. As a child, I was always afraid that the big blue and red rolling scrub brushes would somehow burst through the windows and come and get me, or allow enough water into the car to flood it and drown me. Another fear was that we'd get stuck in between the brushes and never be able to leave the car wash with no hope of rescue.

To this day, I am not a big fan of the automated car wash and prefer having my car hand washed. But as winter snow and salt have taken it's toll on my car, I felt the need to get my car washed as quickly and conveniently as possible. As I paid the extra money at the gas pump to get the offered car wash, I pondered the thoughts of the rotating brushes spinning right through my windshield but didn't let that deter my purchase. With receipt in hand, and after having filled my gas tank, I drove over to the automated track of the on site car wash and let the suds begin! As my car rolled along the track, the brushes slapped my car as if to beat it into submission. I must admit, I got a slight adrenaline rush as I heard the "thump, thump, thump" of the brushes against the car. My car progressed slowly and as the brushes parted ways, I was happy to see daylight at the end of the service bay and coasted to freedom. Flood and disaster averted, clean car achieved!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 76 - Shake

Today being St. Patrick's day, I thought I'd try the Shamrock Shake that everyone raves about at McDonalds. I first ordered a chocolate shake as I wasn't quite ready to face my fear of the green monster, but once at the drive-thru window to pay I saw the Shamrock eye-balling me. I changed my mind and inconveniently asked to change my order. I'm sure the staff did not appreciate my last minute change up but none the less, I received my Shamrock shake and drove away. I quickly unwrapped the straw (after taking numerous pictures of said shake for my blog) anticipating minty-goodness.

I think I took half a sip of the neon green, semi solid beverage and my taste buds voted an immediate "no". I took another taste and couldn't convince myself to drink anymore. I stowed the shake in the freezer in hopes it would be consumed by the visiting boyfriend, but alas, he didn't want it either. Maybe if I keep it in there long enough, I can auction it off on E-bay to a desperate Shamrock shake fan who can't wait until their return next year. Fear of the unknown conquered, and let it be known, from now on I'm sticking with chocolate!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 75 - 3/16

Ten years ago today, my father passed away. I can't explain the hole this has left in my life or the grief I still feel despite believing he's in a better place. I don't talk about the subject much in fear of sharing my vulnerability I suppose, or in fears that some days, I may burst into tears. It amazes me how, while not constant, some days the pain can still be as fresh as it was all those years ago. I don't dwell on the pain of my dad's passing, but try to focus on the good times we shared and the memories we created.

My dad is probably the person who got me stuck on quotes. It seems he had a quote for almost any situation, whether I wanted to hear the advice they held or not. He was fond of quoting Dale Carnegie and Franklin Roosevelt, but most of all the Bible. There were many times as a "strong willed" child that I didn't want to be reminded of the good I should be doing by being advised to read certain scriptures or to have them verbally spouted off to me. The Bible played a huge part in my dad's life, as well as my upbringing.

My dad left this world on 3/16 and what I find ironic is, that one of my dad's most repeated scriptures was John 3:16, reminding me and our family of God's great sacrifice. Of course, my father would probably be delighted I've made this connection, knowing he can still "force" me to refer to the Bible even today.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." - John 3:16 ~ KJV

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 74 - Moving?

I received my lease renewal notice tonight, and don't appreciate the proposed rent increase. Despite fear of uprooting myself and possibly leaving my comfort zone, I put an email out to a friend about finding a new and cheaper location to live. It scares me to think about moving and all the effort that goes into it, but change is good, right? No major decisions have been made yet, but just thinking about it is scary.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 73 - Tough

I asked a tough question today that could alter the course of a relationship I hold dear. I was afraid to ask it, and I'm afraid to hear the answer, but it's done. As I don't feel the need to share the details publicly, this may be my shortest blog post yet!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 72 - #36

This weekend I rode the bus. Bus "36 Broadway" to be exact. I braved the public masses of green wearing, St. Patrick day celebrant drunkards in efforts to save money, gas and the environment by taking public transportation. I set fear aside of getting lost, not having the right amount of fare and being late to my destination in efforts to tackle the busride. I enjoyed people watching and eaves dropping on semi-private conversations. Half way through my ride, I gave up my seat to an elderly gentleman who was thankful for the opportunity to sit. As I stood, I felt like a surfer trying to balance the waves of potholes and remain upright. I wanted to yell "Surf's up dude!" for effect, but thought I might get a weird look or two. As I stood, I overheard a short, petite woman say to her partner that no one ever offered her a seat on the bus the whole 9 months of her pregnancy. As I listened and looked around, I wondered where common courtesy has gone. My momentary thought of starting a blog about the topic was interrupted by observing others and watching people making faces at babies. Eventually I pulled the cord to summon a stop on the corner of Armitage where I exited and proceeded to my destination. I survived, rough waves and all.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 71 - Sketch

- White Cheek Gibbon, "Caruso": Hand & Feet Study -

I went to the zoo today to participate in a Wildlife Sketching Seminar that I had previously signed up for. Once I arrived at the zoo, I quickly made my way to the auditorium and met the other participants as well as the instructor. A quick overview of the agenda let me know that we'd be walking through the different monkey and ape houses to sketch, beginning with gestural drawings. Gesture drawings are quick, linear sketches that capture the over all movement and outline of your subjects with little to no details included. Gestural drawings are done, usually in under 60 seconds. Because I am an anal retentive, detail oriented illustrator, I think gesture is my least favorite type of drawing as it doesn't allow for perfection. Despite my immediate reservations and fear of imperfect work, I agreed internally to make the best of my drawing time.

After our introduction and agenda overview, we were led around the zoo by the artist/instructor, as well as a zoo employee. The nice thing about this was that the instructor offered drawing critiques and instruction along the way while the employee, Christina, offered animal details and background information about each group of primates we visited. While most of my drawings look like scribbles, barely capturing the movement of swinging animals, at one point a subject sat still long enough to do a bit more of an in depth drawing. That subject was Caruso.

Caruso as I learned, was a White Cheeked Gibbon that was once abused as a pet. Once acquired by the zoo, he was returned to health and was found to be quite a little attention hog. This was apparent by his need to press himself up against the glass so he could surely be seen by all. Additionally, he would get quite upset and bang on the glass any time someone walked away from him. In between outbursts, Caruso would suck his thumb (which we found to be a Caruso habit, and not one typical of Gibbons) and press his feet against the glass. This gave me a few minutes to draw and sketch some of the details of his wrinkly hands and feet. It was my favorite drawing, and Caruso was the animal I connected with the most.

We eventually moved on to snoozing Chimpanzees, Gorillas who were oddly enough chasing rabbits that had somehow gotten into their outdoor enclosure, and then the big cats. After three hours of being on my feet, I was a bit tuckered out and not motivated to draw many of the felines. Winding down, the group shared our best works and critiqued each other's drawings before walking back to the auditorium for our wrap up and disbanding. As I headed home I reminisced about the animals I had met, and giggled thinking about Caruso sucking his thumb.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 70 - I Gotta Feeling

I've found over the years that I am great at making plans, love anticipating them, and then when it comes to maintaining and attending them, I occasionally get cold feet. I never doubt that I will have a great time once I'm at the event, but sometimes self doubt, anxiety and/or laziness attempt to talk me into going home, or staying home, instead of heading out for a night of fun.

Tonight, I almost let fear keep me from hanging out with three great friends whom I haven't hung out with in months, but of course, if I did that I wouldn't be typing this blog post. So, instead of torturing myself and using work as an excuse not to go out, I picked myself up by the boot straps, got into my car and blasted the most hip-hoppy-upbeat song I knew the lyrics to and sang (poorly) in efforts to pump myself up! Of course, no radio sing along pending a night of going out is complete without the Black Eyed Peas, "I Gotta Feeling (Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night)". And so it was! I had a blast scarfing down way too much Cantonese food, and catching up with my friends. My fortune cookie, now as I look back appropriately stated;

"Don't put off to tomorrow, what you can do today."

My advice, follow my fortune cookie and embrace the time with friends and family now. Set aside anxiety or preconceived notions, enjoy life, and hug more often!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 69 - Begging

I continue to beg for money, err, I mean fundraise for my "Save the Cheetah" event. It's really not easy to ask people for money, especially for something that most people don't consider essential. None the less, I continue to set fears aside and ask everyone I know for donations. God save the Queen - and the Cheetah!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 68 - Spice II

I was excited to see Spice, the red Doberman, practicing her training tonight. If you recall my recent post about her, her owner is a bit rough with her and quite over bearing. Today I got to see my past conversation, thoughts and advice come to fruition as her owner has definitely improved some of his handling skills. While he still has a long way to go, I was happy to see that my concerns "sunk in" and made a difference!

I gave new advice tonight and demonstrated my own handling of the Dobey and know that this too will be worked into her resume of training. Let me tell you, taking her away from her owner to demonstrate "my way" was a bit intimidating! While I may never convince this pet owner that tugging and jerking on a leash is not the way to train, I will continue to mould him to what I hope is at least a softer version of himself.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 67 - Ambushed

At work I have a twice weekly conference call with a team of people. The benefit of this call is, whether it's utilized or not, that certain individuals know I am available for consultation at the same time, twice a week, every week for their needs. Today, the call seemed relatively quiet until I was literally ambushed by part of the team and their leader. It was not a pleasant conversation, or should I say berating, to listen to but I listened. Instead of allowing myself to be overwhelmed by fear or intimidation and shrink into my chair, I calmly suggested my action plan to the leader's concern. Despite my explanation falling upon deaf ears, I remained calm. Irritated, but calm. I let the "blow hard" continue to blow, and agreed he could take his issues up with upper management, and that I'd be more then happy to help!

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." - Reinhold Niebuhr

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 66 - ASL

Today I sent out a fundraiser e-mail in plight of my cheetah event, and dared to include my director on it. Let me tell you, it did take some mustering of nerve to do so, but I figure what do I have to lose? And more so, I reminded myself that every one's money is the same color and adds the same value. In serious fundraising mode now, I raised $201 in one day, only $799 more to go to meet my goal.

Since fundraising isn't new to my blog posts, here's what is. I finally found a place where I can take ASL classes. I have long put off learning ASL despite being around deaf people my entire life. I have a cousin who is deaf and had neighbors while I was growing up that were deaf as well. As a child, I must admit I felt awkward at times not being able to communicate with others and still find myself not quite knowing what to do in situations that arise where communication is difficult. One such recent situation involved a deaf woman and her dog who came to visit my pet training arena. While she enthusiastically tried to communicate with me, I felt horrible that I could not understand her or her dog's needs. Whether she ever comes to visit me again, her interaction with me changed my way of thinking. I want to be able to talk to her and anyone else who speaks ASL and not feel awkward or uncomfortable when faced with someone who sounds and speaks differently then I do.

I can't quite remember what grade I was in, but as part of a childhood school Christmas pageant, I learned how to sign the words to "Silent Night" and "Jingle Bells" and later shared my new found Christmas caroling technique with my neighbors. I know I didn't realize it then, but I can only imagine how they felt to have someone "sing" them Christmas carols one year, carols that they could understand and appreciate. That memory has always stuck with me. I enjoyed signing at the time, and have retained some of what I had learned all those years ago. In addition, there are times I find myself at the theater and am so engrossed in watching the interpreter bring to life the play for those who cannot hear it, that I don't even watch what it is I paid to go see.

It seems like ASL has always had some presence in my life, and I'm now choosing to push past the fears of not being able to understand, in efforts to learn how to understand. Spring classes start on March 29th, fingers and hands don't fail me now!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 65 - Aretha

- Aretha -

Help me welcome to the household, my blooming new baby Orchid named Aretha. Aretha is a beautiful Orchid who found herself abandoned in a dressing room, destined to a live a life of artificial sun light and neglect. Being the compassionate man he is, my boyfriend decided he couldn't let Aretha continue to suffer and brought her home to me for permanent adoption and some TLC.

I was very happy to see my beautiful surprise, but fear shortened the happiness as I know nothing about Orchid care. I began to read up on the new addition's needs and am afraid I'll kill her by over watering, or lack of correct fertilizer, or heaven forbid I ever forget and re-pot her in soil (big Orchid no-no!). Also, I have other "children" to contend with in the house. I have a feline that seems to have a leaf/plant eating fetish that I now must defend Aretha from at all times. Despite my fears, I will give Aretha the best home and care I can manage and I will appreciate her beauty daily. Anyone know of any good greenhouse daycare centers I can drop her off at while I go to work during the day? (Just teasing.)

Why did I settle on the name Aretha? Because after reading up on the flower, it's such a high maintenance plant all I could think is that it's going to be like caring for a demanding diva. And because of the recent Snicker's candy bar commercial, when I think diva, I think Aretha Franklin. Here's to hoping Aretha reaches the age of 1, and right now, I'll settle for that being 1 month old versus 1 year!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Day 64 - Donut

Finding myself bored last night and nursing a cold, I had some "down time" and found myself keeping my couch and TV company. Searching through NetFlix, I stumbled upon the film, "The Secret". Long intrigued by the book and television hype, I figured what have I got to lose by watching the movie? To summarize in short, the logic behind "The Secret" is the universal laws of attraction and that whatever you want, you can attract by sending positive energy out into the world. Whether it be wealth, love, or health you can attract and obtain anything by positive thinking and by following these three basic steps:
  • Ask the universe for what you want
  • Believe your request can come true
  • Act as though you've already received your request

While I usually perceive myself as a positive person, as of late I've been in a "bad spot" due to stress and thought, "What do I have to lose by practicing this technique?". Of course, in the documentary, people have obtained thousands of dollars by "willing" it, but the philosophers suggest you start small with your requests, they suggested a cup of coffee. I immediately thought, "donut". So yep, that's what I asked the Universe for, a donut. Silly, absolutely, but what did I have to lose?

This morning I woke up and thought positive thoughts. I thought I will have a good day, I will sell two dog training classes, and somehow, someone will provide me a donut. I want a donut Universe! I asked the Universe for a donut, I believed it was achievable and I acted as if I could already taste the donut. When I arrived at work I walked directly into the break room expecting my donut, but was sadly shocked that there were no donuts. Hello? Universe, aren't you listening? I continued to obsess about my silly donut throughout the day and it never appeared. That was, ironically, until I was walking out 6 hours later.

As I was saying goodbye to one of my managers, I noticed a box that said, "DONUTS" across it in the office. I got the hugest smile ever and said giddily, "Are those donuts?" (as if I couldn't read), and he said, "Yeah, they're mine, but you can have one - would you like one?". I was too excited to actually eat the donut, and hope the Universe wasn't offended by my declination of my granted wish. Positive thinking allowed me to have fun today, and a good day at work - something I haven't had either of in a long time (or so it seems). So, you might ask, where is the fear in all of this? Well, my fear is that in posting this, you readers will think I've lost my marbles and gone a bit crazy! Despite fears, I thought this was too great of an experience not to share. Try some positive thinking today and enjoy!

PS) I also sold the two training classes I said I would!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 63 - Sick

Today's blog, short and sweet? Well, sick is probably a better description, literally. Despite coming down with a cold and fearing I would lose my breakfast before I actually made it to work, I headed to the office hoping I would feel better. While I never really felt any better, my mind was at least occupied for 8 hours on something other then my cold. I'm always amazed at just how much mucus one's body can produce. I've lost count of how many sneezes and tissues I've gone through, so I think now's a good time for a restful nap.

- Puffs -

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 62 - Numb

Today I had a follow up appointment with a new dentist (a second dentist) for a deep cleaning of my teeth and gums. The dentist had to numb my mouth, and to be honest, I was more afraid of that, then anything else he would be doing during the procedure today! Facing fears, I "opened wide" and allowed the dentist to inject my gums with the needle and numbing medicine. I've never had anything "numbed" before, other then my foot when I sit on it awkwardly and "put it to sleep" so today was a new experience.

After the last injection the dentist and assistant left me to allow time for the numbing to take place. About 5 minutes into it, I felt like my mouth was the size of a softball (even though it wasn't) and my lips began to tingle. When all was said and done, I went home and starred in the mirror and made faces at it. I found it quite humorous that only half of my mouth worked. Puckering up my lips as if I was going to offer a kiss was hilarious, as my top lip went to the right and my bottom lip drooled towards the left. I looked like a bad version of a curled lip Elvis.

I was happy to take the dentist's advice and not eat anything for a few hours as, although I couldn't actually feel it, I knew I was accidentally biting my tongue as I randomly tried to talk. Eating would have proven disastrous. Of course, as soon as the dentist told me I couldn't eat, I think that's when I became hungry. None the less, I waited my allotted hours for all feeling to return to my mouth and managed to enjoy the rest of my day off by meeting up with the boyfriend for some Chicago deep dish pizza. All in all, a day at the dentist proved to be better then a day at work!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 61 - Spice

I arrived at my part time job to find a man and his red Doberman in my classroom. I've seen him once before and didn't care for his over bearing handling skills, but chose to ignore him and let it go. Today, I didn't. Sensing he was unwelcome, he left the training center and then demonstrated his training skills in front of me as if he was going to teach me something. I am all about being educated as I realize I don't know everything, but when I clearly know there's a better and proven method in doing something, don't try to convince me that the wrong way is the right way.

He continued to yank on his dog's leash, popping the prong collar, tugging at the collar, and never releasing any of the tension on the collar. I let him continue, and didn't say anything immediately as sometimes I fear and think, "Who am I to get involved?". But the fact is, who am I not to get involved? Done with his demonstration, he walked away, but I decided to follow him and then, mustering all my nerve, asked, "Earlier, when you asked your dog to sit and stay, you continued to apply pressure on the leash and had the prong collar digging into your dog's skin - why?". His reply was, "Well, I want her to sit and stay no matter what distractions are going on.". "Okay", I replied, "but what is her reward for staying?". "I pet her when she comes", he replied. I said, "But that's a praise and reward for coming to you, what's her reward for staying? She continues to feel a painful pressure on her neck while she's staying, so what is her motivation to stay?". He stammered and didn't really have an answer. I told him there are other distractions other then pain that he could use to teach his dog a reliable stay.

As the conversation and demonstration of skills continued, the next thing I observed was him grabbing his dogs head forcefully, and forcing her to look him dead in the eye. Despite her struggling, he kept twisting and turning her head in order to make her keep eye contact. When he did manage to hold her head in place, she closed her eyes and averted her eyes as much as she could. I quickly stopped him, and asked him what he was attempting to do. He explained, "I'm just loving on her, and asking her to look at me.". While I thought "that's an odd display of affection", I saved derogatory commentary and instead said, "You're scaring her." Seeing the look of concern on his face, I explained, "Eye contact amongst dogs is a threat. She is doing her best to avoid a conflict and to avoid being seen as a threat to you. She is averting her eyes and communicating to you in her own language and you don't understand it. You're taking away her ability to communicate by forcing her head to stay still. If anything, it's a compliment that she's not looking at you as she's showing you, 'I mean you no harm, I want no conflict here, I am submitting to you!'". I quickly said her name, made a kissy noise, and she looked right at me. I immediately praised her and petted her. I showed him in about 2 seconds a better way to do and accomplish what he wanted. He tried it next and it worked perfectly. He was amazed and thanked me for sharing my knowledge.

While I found him unappealing at first, I actually hope this man will come back so I can continue to coach him and show him that not all things are accomplished by force. Putting fears aside I helped educate someone today, and hopefully prevented some painful yanks on the prong collar for his dog. I hope the lesson learned was that love and training doesn't have to be painful. There's a line in the movie "Michael" that comes to mind, and while I can't quote it perfectly, it refers to a battle between the North Wind and the Sun to see who could make a traveler take off his coat first. The North Wind blew and blew and tried as he might to blow the coat off the man, the man clung to his garment all the tighter. Defeated, the North Wind allowed the Sun to try the same challenge. The Sun came out and shone brightly and gently warmed the Earth. In no time the man, over heated by his coat, removed it. Sometimes in life, you just need to be the sun.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 60 - Recap II

Looking back over the month of February I realize:

- I've done a lot of personal growing at work, learning to over come fear and ask for what I want, and ask the hard questions.

- I managed to try new foods, Indian cuisine, gelato and grapefruit only to find the healthiest thing for me (grapefruit) is still not palatable.

- I passionately educated a pet owner about their dog's health issues, and got "humped" by an overly passionate pup.

-I attempted to watch a scary movie, but will have to take the advice of my blog reader (thanks Lynn) and try something a little more scary!

- My boyfriend was introduced to my mother and spent an entire breakfast with my dysfunctional family (and he still wants to date me!).

- I branched out and saw an awesome Beatles show despite protesting their music.

- I went against the grain to be one of just a few walkers in the Cupids 4 miler event - and survived! Go team Breakfast Burrito!

These are what I consider the highlights of the past month, however, not wanting to dwell on the past, I'm looking forward to the next 305 days of adventure! Of course, I should probably focus on just getting through March first. Any thoughts about what fears I should tackle next?