Posted in Free Time Fun, Life Lessons

Hour of You

I challenge you to spend one hour each day in November focusing on your dreams. Why? In conversations lately I’ve been running into people who get themselves stuck in the same situation that I find myself in now. There are so many things that we WANT to do, but when we get home from work/school/social obligations we readily let go of those things we hunger for and settle for the quick escape that presents itself instantly in the form of television, movies, and social media. It makes me wonder what we could accomplish if we spent the first hour we got home tuning into ourselves.

You might be wondering what that looks like and I don’t have an exact answer for you. For me it’s going to be writing as my dream is to one day be a published author. Here are some questions that will help you determine how a daily action can bring you closer to achieving your dreams: What are your dreams? What is a goal that you have wanted to accomplish, but never had enough time for? What are your values and morals? What do you want your life to look like in 5 years? In 10 years? What’s something you’ve wanted to do that you never allowed yourself to believe was possible?

If there isn’t anything you want to work on that’s fine, but you should still take an hour to be present with yourself. Spend some time meditating, go for a walk, journal, the options are endless. Who knows, maybe when you’re taking this time a desire or passion that you weren’t aware of might present itself! For more on the power of connecting with yourself check out this interesting read on Wired written by Robert Wright: How Mindfulness Meditation Can Save America.

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Posted in Free Time Fun, Life Lessons

Spirituality & Bahá’í Temple

Since moving to Evanston, IL I have spent the majority of my commute on the Purple Line. I kept seeing signs urging train riders to visit the Bahá’í Temple & Gardens in Evanston. The temple itself looked beautiful and I am always looking for new places to explore so I waited for an opening. This past weekend the opportunity presented itself during a blue sky sunny eyed Saturday when I found myself without plans. I grabbed Thom and we rode the train to the end of the purple line, the Linden stop. Then we walked three blocks east.
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Posted in Free Time Fun, Life Lessons

Take Control Of Your Narrative

On many occasions we are our own worst enemies. One of these occasions is when we listen to ourselves say the words, “I can’t.” Once those words are in our minds or on our tongues we immediately find the reasons to back them up. For me, public speaking was always out of the question. I’m anxious, my face gets too red, I do weird things with my hands, I talk too fast… and by that point I’ve convinced myself it is beyond my capabilities.
Continue reading “Take Control Of Your Narrative”

Posted in Life Lessons

Body on the Tracks

“Body on the Tracks”

Huddled. An empty train packed.

Delayed. Half hour commute tripled.

Paused for Signal. Still silent bodies wait.

We appreciate your patience.

Rerouted. Shuttle buses to final destinations.

Tracks closed from Belmont to North/Clybourn.

Two miles of investigation.

Attempts to make sense of the unknown.

Two miles of collection.

Piecing together an incomplete picture.

Two miles of re-assembling existence extinguished.

We apologize for the inconvenience.


I wrote this poem this morning after my commute to work. Normally it takes 30-40 minutes and today that was almost tripled. All the CTA would let us know was that downtown service was stopped from Belmont due to police activity. Maybe I should have assumed it was a jumper, but I didn’t. After I found out the delay didn’t matter as much. I only felt sadness and that question that always looms… why?

For more on what happened head to the Chicago Tribune.

Posted in Free Time Fun, Life Lessons

Public Speaking *Gulp*

Next week I get a speaker at the event DENIAL: Being In It & Getting Out Of It. I reached out to Nikki Nigl after attending ABOUT WOMEN a few times. These events are a safe place so I jumped at the chance to conquer my fear of public speaking and honestly, the topic is something I am overly familiar with. It’s my luck that she had a spot open.

There are millions of reasons why people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death. I’m doing my best not to let those reasons marinate and create a panicked stew that would set me up for failure. Whenever the fear starts to rise I try to focus instead on what I can do to be as prepared and adaptable as I can be.

I’ll refine my ideas into an outline and then into a single note card. I will do my best not to stare at the card the entire time. To help avoid that I’ll be practicing my delivery the nights leading up to the event to get comfortable and make any adjustments needed. I’ve also been listening to speakers that I admire, taking note of any tricks I can pick up.

Even with all of this preparation there are still endless variables that I will not be able to predict or control. I won’t know how many people are going to be there, what the person who speaks before me will say, if someone’s phone will ring while I’m speaking, or if a fire will start in the kitchen and we’ll have to evacuate the building. This is where I struggle because I have a habit of crumbling when things don’t go as planned. Reminding myself that there is so much beyond my control relieves some of the pressure and gives me more freedom to engage in the moment. I’m looking forward to this event, comfortable with any outcome, genuinely excited to share and learn.

If you identify as a woman and are in the Chicago area here’s the event flyer:

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I strongly suggest you check it out, even if you can’t make this one Nikki puts ABOUT WOMEN on the third Wednesday of every month because she is an amazing empowerment wizard encouraging all of us to join the convHERSation.

Posted in Life Lessons

Goodbye Lincoln Square, Hello Evanston!

The past weekend I moved to an apartment in Evanston. Three stories up with no elevator. We were too stubborn to hire movers and a part of me thinks we might always be. Maybe that’s okay. My sister, brother-in-law and I have spent a decade helping one another with moves, so at this point we’re pros right?

I talked myself out of this move so many times. Four years ago I moved back to Chicago in Edgewater ending my marriage. I needed to be near my sister and I’ve spent the past four years within two miles of that area. The past two have been in Lincoln Square, and this past one has been with my best friend. There were a lot of times I told myself I couldn’t live with her and that it wouldn’t work, but it did, so much so that we’ve arranged for a weekly hangout swearing not to grow too far apart.

We got to know the area and we have our favorite places. There’s Quick Bite, Jimmy’s Pizza, Shelly’s, Garcia’s, Yogurt Square, Rolls & Bolls, Lou Malnati’s, and so much more within walking or delivery distance. Events are nonstop throughout the summer: festivals, farmer’s markets, and live music nights. A week or two ago there were bubbles in the fountain of Lincoln Square!

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We’re a long walk or a short bus ride from the beach. The days where we would lay on the beach and pour wine into our plastic cups, people watch, talk, sit in silence, nap, snack… those are some of my favorite memories.

So, why did I move? I could have easily spent a few more years rooming with my best friend, but not without another area of my life suffering. Before I offered to take the place of her supposed-to-be roommate that bailed two weeks before they were supposed to move in, I let her know that at the end of our lease I would likely be moving in with my boyfriend. We had already been together almost a year and in my mind it made sense.

A year came and part of me wanted to change my mind, tell my boyfriend too bad I’m staying! I also kept trying to convince them that all of us should move in together. Up until the week before I still debated if I was making the right decision, but I cannot put into words how grateful I am to have Thom as a partner.

He stepped into my life at a very dark point. I was sick, my father was dying, and I was really manic. He was patient and he brought the light. He’s willing to wait for the roaring storm to pass and for me to come to my senses and realize that I’m being unfair.

What’s even more important is that we talk. We went through my concerns about moving in one by one. He wasn’t mad or upset even though it was only a month before we were going to make the leap, instead he agreed this conversation had to happen. I spent a lot of my adult life voiceless in intimate relationships. I could complain to friends and family about all sorts of issues, but I never had the balls to sit down and work through it with someone.

Recently I came across a great post about relationships through the reader. Matt’s post “What To Do When Your Spouse Isn’t Your Soulmate” struck a chord with me. It came at the time I needed it and affirmed what I already knew. I have an amazing relationship with a wonderful man, and it is mine to lose.

So, here we are in our third floor apartment with our three needy cats taking it day by day.

 

Posted in Ecological Endeavors, Free Time Fun, Picture Posts

Get Your Green On!

I grew up as a city girl. We lived at the Oak Park stop on the “L” so we felt were close enough to the city to consider ourselves “Chicagoans.” I’d prefer laying inside basking in the A/C watching TV to hanging out at the small parks close by or trekking a few miles away to a lackluster forest preserve. I quietly consented to being an “indoor” person.

No more! When I moved back to Chicago a few years ago my first apartment was a few blocks from Lake Michigan. At the time my frustration with my body was at a high and I decided to start utilizing the lakefront path to learn how to run.

It was those hot summer afternoons slow jogging from Bryn Mawr down to Irving Park and back that ignited my need for nature. The running part sucked, but I loved the feeling of the sun on my skin and the smell of the water. For once in my life I wanted to spend more time outside.

Since then, I have discovered that there are so many beautiful green spaces in this concrete jungle of ours! Before we know it we will be shivering and shuffling through the frozen tundra, so enjoy summer’s bounty while you still can. Here are a few of my favorite naturescapes:

Lincoln Park Conservatory – I list this first because it is FREE and you don’t need to leave the city to go here! There are beautiful green fields and some flowered sections leading up to the conservatory itself. Inside you will be wowed by exotics from around the world and you’ll also get to meet the friendly staff. They are passionate and love talking about this treasure. When you’re done head over to the zoo or walk south for even more green space.

Chicago Botanic Garden – If you don’t want to have to travel far, but want to be surrounded by spectacular gardens this is the place for you. It’s less than an hour away from downtown and the cost is $25 per car ($30 on the weekend). Bring a few friends with you and that’s nothing!

 

Morton Arboretum – Although a bit pricier at $14 per person, this one is more than worth it. You’ll want to dedicate a whole day to exploring it because it has at least double if not triple the space of Chicago Botanic Garden! These pictures are from our most recent visit where we got the chance to view Origami in the Garden which runs through October 22nd.

 

Starved Rock – I feel like this is a frequent escape for city dwellers. The paths are paved, the views are nice, and there are waterfalls! This is also the furthest from the city at almost 2 hours, so perhaps it feels like a more authentic “get-away.” We made the mistake of visiting last year during Labor Day and the lot was full, but luckily there are a few other parks nearby and we had an equally great time navigating Matthiessen State Park.

Honorable mentions that were cut from my list because at this point I’m losing your attention: Moraine Hills State Park, Beverly Lake, Independence Grove, 606, Lake Geneva.

If you have a nature spot that I haven’t referenced please comment, I want to see them all!