Nov 192012
 

Why does living life seem to take up so much time? There are twenty-four hours in a day to spend however we’d like, which seems like a lot, but it’s not. Not when you have to spend eight of those hours recharging. Not when you’re getting ready for work, commuting, actually working, commuting again, eating dinner, spending time with family, cleaning up, decompressing, and getting ready for bed. In that case, twenty-four hours may as well be one.

I think the lack of time is getting to people. Well, it’s getting to me. There are way too many distractions. I’ve noticed that I’m happier when I spend time doing the things I love. Don’t people seem to be happier when they’re spending time doing the things they love? It’s like a personal road map to happy.

What would happen if we took a few moments during the day for ourselves? How awesome would you feel if you did something you truly enjoyed? Now how often do you do that for yourself?

I vow to spend a few moments of each day on myself and you should too.

I made a short video about this very thing. Take a look.

Thanks for watching!

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Nov 172012
 

Hey all,

I’ve finally completed some projects. Yea! Check out my projects page to see what’s new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve also added some new photos to my Chicago Picture Project, which is seven years strong. Enjoy!

What projects do you have in the works?

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Sep 092012
 

Once upon a time there lived a little boy who woke up very early one Saturday morning ready to go outside. He shook his sleeping parents awake and told them of his plan. After eating breakfast they headed downstairs and began walking towards Division Street for they heard there would be a DIY festival of magnanimous proportions. To their delight the festival was filled with beautiful and magnificent handmade things!

The little boy and his parents walked from booth to booth looking for the perfect item and finally, they saw it – a light blue whale sitting inside of a colorful honeycomb. It was the most wonderful toy the little boy had ever seen. He picked it up and squeezed it with all his might as it was love at first sight. He would name this little whale Wally.

He loved Wally as much as any other toy and carried him around where ever he went, even to Costco. While walking around, the little boy’s mom asked if she could carry Wally so he wouldn’t get lost, but the boy said no as it was his toy to care for. After their shopping trip they went home. That is when the little boy noticed that Wally the Whale was missing!

His parents called Costco and found that it had not been turned in to the lost and found. The little boy was so heartbroken and distraught that he cried and cried. His parents tried to console him, but his pain was immense as he had lost one of his greatest friends.

The little boy would ask to start a search party, but his parents told him before they did that they would try to locate Wally on their own. They called Costco again, but Wally the Whale had not turned up. This upset the little boy so, but his parents had a plan.

It was the festival’s last day of operation and his parents went to the same booth to see if another Whale was available for purchase, but it was not. Instead, the little boy picked up a small, blue squid and gave it a huge hug for he loved it almost as much as the Wally the Whale. The squid made the little boy so happy that he asked his parents to buy it for him and so they did.

On the way home, the little boy told his parents that he loved his new squid, but that he would always have love in his heart for Wally the Whale should he ever return.

The end.

This is a totally true story! The Whale and Squid toys are available for purchase from Zooguu. Check them out if you get a chance. Their toys are super cute!

The other two businesses that caught my eye at Renegade were Tumbleweeds and Stak Ceramics. Tumbleweeds makes amazing wooden sunglasses. My favorite ones were heart shaped. Come on people, who doesn’t like hearts?! You can check them out here. Stak Ceramics makes some of the most unique and beautiful pieces I’ve ever seen. I especially love functional pieces of art and if you do too, you need to check this place out. For more info about Stak Ceramics click here.

I had a great time at Renegade and hope you did too! If you didn’t get a chance to make it this year, remember there’s always next year. For more information, please visit: http://www.renegadecraft.com/.

Laters!

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Sep 042012
 

These past two weeks have been incredible. I won a query critique and a critique of the first two chapters of my novel from Amanda Sun. Her YA novel, Ink is coming out next year, which I can’t wait to read. I won the critique through The Write On Con, which is a completely amazing and free conference for writers. I implore you to check it out. It recently ended, but you can find tons of incredible information through their archives. Please go visit them when you get a chance: writeoncon.com.

A few days later I got notice that my short story, The Town on the Road was to be published in Luna Station Quarterly, which publishes speculative fiction from new and emerging women authors. It’s now live so you can follow this link to read it. I am so glad LSQ exists and I wish them much success in the future. Now I just have to find a home for the other short story orphans sitting on my desk. To read the rest of issue 11, please visit this link. As you all know, literary magazines are labors of love, so if you have a few bucks to spare, please support Luna Station Quarterly by buying an issue. Issue 11 is available for purchase for $2.99 in EPUB, MOBI and PDF formats here.

In other news, I recently visited Stanley’s Fruits & Vegetables in Chicago and bought a coconut. I wanted my son to experience the awesomeness that is coconut. He was super excited, but the best part came when he was watching me crack it open. I used a drill on the seam of the coconut and cracked it open with a hammer. My son was obsessed with the insides, but for some reason he refused to eat any of it. Oh well. More for me! Here’s a photo:

 

I’ve also been working on completing some home projects and as I was pulling the top off of a paint can, it slipped out of my hands and landed on the counter. Here’s what I saw when I lifted it:

 

Even the paint splotch was upset at my mishap! LOL!

Well, I’ve got to get back to work! Laters!

Have a lovely week y’all.

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Jul 182012
 

Life is harsh especially when you come to the jacked-up conclusion that you no longer have anything in common with a friend. It’s not that they did anything wrong. It’s not that you did anything wrong. Time has happened. You’ve changed and they’ve changed, such is life. Nobody tells you this is how it is, but it is.

It starts off slow. They say something that doesn’t make sense to you. You say something that doesn’t make sense to them. They invite you out dancing and you decline because you are married, are in your mid-thirties, and have a child that you adore that you wish to put to bed every night. And you’re not into pretending you’re ten years younger than you really are. And you’re not into flirting with somebody to buy you a drink because by this point in your life you’re totally capable and willing to buy your own drinks because you realize that you prefer your own company to the company of others. And you’ve already found the love of your life who you are madly in love with, so there’s no need to look. And you have a lot of other things on your mind that you don’t want to get into. Things, you don’t think they can even fathom, but they haven’t changed. They’re exactly who they’ve always been. They haven’t done anything wrong. You haven’t done anything wrong. You are simply in different places, on two different paths. But the question is: can two people living completely different lifestyles really be friends?

I decided to meet up for dinner with some former friends and as we were in catch-up-speak one of my friend said, “I don’t read books. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I read a book.” And they scoffed as if books were the lowest form of entertainment, like they were meant for nerds and not for everybody. And my heart bled a little because I realized then that we don’t have much of anything in common. Sure we can gossip about people from the past, but that gets old quick. When he said he didn’t read, it was like a line being drawn in the sand and I knew that we were fundamentally different. Books are important to me. Reading is important to me. And after that, I had a hard time taking anything he said seriously. It was a blaring sign that the rekindling of this former friendship was not going to happen and it wasn’t just the reading that did it for me.

He actually rolled his eyes while I was speaking and mid-sentence too. I can’t even remember what we were talking about. All I remember is the way he made me feel when he did it; irrelevant and stupid and like crap. Maybe that wasn’t his intention, but that’s how he made me feel. I know that people often misconstrue the eye-roll because nobody is in anybody else’s head and nobody else can tell what an eye-roll means except the person doing it, but that’s the vibe I got. And I don’t remember him being that way with me in the past and to be honest, it caught me off guard. It was like I didn’t know him at all. I don’t know what I was thinking when I agreed to meet up. Must’ve been nostalga. There had to be a reason we hadn’t talked in over ten years, right?

The night ended and I went home. My friend went to a club.

We are just two very different people. Maybe we always were.

Okay, so maybe it’s not just the difference in lifestyle that changes friendships, but more so how we feel we are treated. If you start questioning your friendship and think you’re destined to be your own best friend, chances are your friendship has changed because you’ve already reached the point of, with friends like these… well, you know the rest.

So do I think two people living different lifestyles can be friends? Of course I do, as long as there is respect. But if there isn’t, take that as a warning. Respect and trust go hand in hand and if there’s a crack in the foundation, chances are the house is going to sink.

I’ve lived long enough to know that my time is precious. I don’t want to spend it with people I have nothing in common with. I do not feel guilty or obligated. I feel relieved that I know myself enough to let a former friendship like that go. Like I said before, he didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong. Our former friendship has simply morphed into an acquaintanceship and I’m okay with that.

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 Posted by at 3:41 pm
Jun 192012
 

I recently joined the gym and I’ve got to say, I like it. I like the way I feel after I’ve finished a workout; strong and as if I’ve accomplished something huge for the day. This is why I keep going. I usually stick to the elliptical and the row machine in addition to the weight lifting machines, but I’ve also been taking a few classes. One such class was a boxing/kickboxing class. I’ve never taken one of those before and I was intrigued. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one because the class was filled with newbies.

We started off with some drills and if you remember anything from high school gym class, you know how drills are the bane of everybody’s existence. They are horrible, yet effective torture devices. These drills consisted of pushups, sprinting, jumping rope, and jumping jacks. Like I said, torture. The entire class was exhausted after fifteen minutes of warm up. Which brings me to this, why does it seem like some trainers/teachers derive some sort of sick pleasure by inflicting pain onto their students? It’s got to be some Schadenfreuden thing. But why? Is it the little bit of power over others that makes people go a tad crazy? I’m thinking yes.

I tried everything she said. I said I tried everything she said, not that I was physically capable of doing it. And then we got to the bag. Oh, for the love of God, not the bag! But I was ready. I lifted my leg to kick and barely skimmed the bag. Get closer, she coaxed. And so I did. Kick the bag she said. So I kicked, unaware that I was flexing my toes. I kicked straight into the bag and felt this sharp pain vibrate through my big toe. “Oh God, my toe hurts,” I said. Her response was something like, “Yeah, these bags are the hard ones.” Huh? What kind of response was that?! But for some reason I kept going and I don’t exactly know why. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to seem like a quitter in a room filled with newbies. Maybe it was because I thought I was tough and could handle the pain or maybe it was because I’m insane. But whatever the reason, it’s irrelevant. I was injured and that was that.

I hobbled out of class. When I got home I looked at my toe. It was swelling and fast. So much so that it felt like there was a marble underneath. I’ll spare you the photographic evidence, but trust me, it was bad. I started to walk on the side of my foot to compensate for the pain. And I thought, that’s it, it’s broken. It didn’t help that in the evening my leg also started to throb. I ended up taking several Aspirins for the pain and eventually fell asleep. When I woke up, I found that my toe was black and blue from the front to the back. Not good. But I needed to get some stuff done, so I was hobbling on it all day. That probably wasn’t the best course of action, but like I said, I needed to get some stuff done. That night I called the Nurse Hotline via our insurance and the nurse said that even if it was broken, there was nothing they would really do for me at the hospital except take some x-rays and bandage it up. So, she gave me some quick tips for pain relief; elevate, ice, Aspirin, and the buddy toe bandage. I did all that, but guess what? It still hurts and it probably will remain that way until the end of the week. The good news is that I’m hobbling less and I can almost walk on my foot again. Woot!

I intended to go back to the class this weekend, but I think I’ll pass. I honestly don’t need another injured appendage.

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Jun 012012
 

Chicago summers are fabulous and this year’s Kite Festival at Montrose Harbor added to the fabulousness. It was that fun. Check out my video below.

Being at the Kite Fest reminded me of how much I missed being a kid and just having fun for the sake of having fun. It reminded me of late night soft serve from the ice cream truck, biking around the neighborhood, and playing those games like “It” and “Red light, green light,” and those awesome “hand games.” Remember those? Being a kid was fun.

Here are some of the songs we used to sing that accompanied those “hand games” I was talking about.

Uno Dos Siesta
To the East, the West
I met my boyfriend at the candy store.
He bought me ice cream, he bought me cake.
He took me home with a belly ache.
Mama, mama, I’m so sick. Call the doctor, quick, quick, quick.
Doctor, doctor, will I die? Count to five and you’ll be alive.
One, two, three, four, five.
I’m alive on channel five.

Mrs. Marry Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons all down her back, back, back
She asked her mother, mother, mother
For 15 cents, cents, cents
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants
She jumped the fence, fence, fence
She jumped so high, high, high
She touched the sky, sky, sky
And she never came back, back, back
Till the 4th of july, lie, lie

Here’s how we picked “It.” We made everybody put in a single foot and used our pointer finger to go around in a circle and for each word of the song or rhyme, we moved our finger one shoe over until one person was singled out. (Yes, these rules were very intricate.) Here is some of what we said:

My mother punched your mother in the nose, what color was the blood?
“Blue.”
B-L-U-E
And you are out of this entirely game
Not because you’re ugly, not because you’re clean
Just because you kissed a dirty man behind a dirty magazine

Then there would be three of us left and we’d say something like:

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, Catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers, let him go, Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

Whomever was in the last “moe” position was out. Then there’d be two people left so we’d say something like this:

Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish, how many pieces do you wish?
“five.”
One, two, three, four, five
and the whole, and you are out of this entirely game rhyme would start.
And whoever was left was “It.”

Do you remember any of these? Do you know a different version? Did you sing completely different songs? If so, what were they? What awesome memories do you have from childhood?

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 Posted by at 7:18 pm
Apr 042012
 

When I was fifteen, my dad was admitted to the hospital. He was forty-seven.

When he came home, he was on tons of medication: teensy pills, horse pills, white pills, orange pills. I didn’t know what they were for. All I knew was he needed them. I could’ve asked him what they were, but the truth is I didn’t want to know. I wanted his sickness and everything that came with it to go away.

It wouldn’t go away though. His pills began to slowly invade, assault and take over our normal lives. First they lived on the kitchen counter, then in the bathroom and finally in the corner cabinet that held our drinking glasses. No matter where I was, there was a bottle of pills in my face and I began to hate them. They signified everything about my dad’s sickness that I loathed. Strange thing was, a week prior I equated medicine with health. If I had a headache, I took an Aspirin. If I got a cold, I took Sudafed. They always made me better.

I asked my dad if he needed to take all of those pills daily. His answer: if he wanted to live. Something clicked inside of me the moment he said those words and I knew he would be dependent on pills for the rest of his life. This was the point when I started to dissect what I was doing and eating. I realized I could make myself healthier. I began cleaning up my body by running, cutting out soda pop, going vegetarian and never smoking or drinking. Of course, I now realize that was my naivety talking. Sometimes intention and action don’t coincide.

Nothing I did in my teenage years or my twenties could prepare me for what was to inevitably come in my thirties. As much as I tried to control my health, I couldn’t. I won the lottery.

Winning the disease lottery is a game that nobody wants to win, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. It took me a long time to realize that sometimes diseases strike at random. It’s not a punishment.

As luck would have it, I now have to take a pill a day. I’m not angry. It is what it is. I’m convinced there isn’t a single person that wishes to be dependent on a pill for the rest of their lives, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I always ask myself this question to clear my head: what’s worse, a pill a day or impending death? I would say the former, but that’s just me.

I just filled my pill case for the week. Sometimes I leave it in the kitchen. Other times it’s in my bedroom or the bathroom. Maybe it too has invaded my life. Sometimes I feel like I am turning into my father. Sometimes I think I finally know how he feels.

I used to have this gym teacher in grade school who always said, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.” He doesn’t know how right he was.

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Mar 192012
 

This past winter in Chicago has been surprisingly warm and it’s been fantastic. Normally, it’s blistering cold and dreary and it kinda sucks, but the universe must love us because we’ve had a series of sunshiny days. As much as I appreciate this glorious weather, it wasn’t enough to recharge my battery. It was time to get away.

My family and I took a work/fun trip to Orlando. Why Orlando? Well, because it’s warm and sunny. Plus, it’s kid friendly. Last, but not least my parents and brother live there and I miss them. It’s the ideal vacation spot for us.

As usual, I packed a week before and wrote an itinerary. I planned to spend most of my time maxin’ and relaxin’. Thing is, I have a hard time relaxing on vacation because I have oodles of energy. I wake up every morning at six a.m. without an alarm clock and with the kind of oomph I crave in my normal, everyday life. Where this comes from I don’t know, but I’m glad I have it. It gives me a few hours to spend alone.

We stayed at my parent’s home, which is about twenty minutes from MCO. They live in the boonies. The boonies equals limited cell phone reception, acres of land between homes, no street lights, deer crossing signs, darkness and crickets. At first, it weirded me out. It was too quiet. I didn’t have anything to do. Idle hands and all. I’m used to constant multi-tasking, but Orlando was challenging me to sit down and take a break. After twenty-four hours, I began to appreciate the quietness and the quirkiness of the south.

The last time I was in Orlando was four years ago. Things look a bit different now, more built up. The streets were reminicent of Chicago highways except everybody in Orlando drives between fifty and seventy mph. There are no minor fender benders. They also have a Family Dollar and Family General within a block of each other and I swear they are the exact same store! There are also horses all over the place, which of course I wanted to ride, but didn’t get the chance to. Note to self: must make horse-owning friends in Orlando, Florida. The nearest convenience store was at a gas station that wasn’t convenient at all, but that’s the beauty of the boonies – ample amounts of space.

Every time we visit, my husband says the same thing. He could not live there. I used to say that, but I am growing fond of that old place. It’s a place for me to get away whenever I need to recharge my battery. Of course, part of its charm is that my parents and brother live there. They are my allies and it’s good to connect with your allies every once in a while. I also like being forced to unplug from my normal life because given the chance I know I wouldn’t. Other pluses are the sun and having long conversations with people I really like. It was all rather wonderful.

I so needed that time away.

When you need a break from your regular life, do yourself a favor and take a vacation. It will do you mind, body and soul a lot of good.

Check out these photos of the world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios:

Happy traveling folks!

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Feb 132012
 

One of the best things about living in Chicago or any big city is having access to a plethora of restaurants, live theater shows, concerts, literary readings, sporting events, art installations, transportation, cultural events, and shopping among other things.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen some pretty fascinating stuff that has blown my mind. I’d like to share two of those things with you.

At the Bulls vs. Nets game, I got to see one of the funniest shorts put on by Big Ben and Benji the bull. Check them out below:

To learn more about Benny, Big Ben, Benji and the entire Bulls family, check out this site: iwantbenny.com.

Another cool thing I got to see was this incredible light sculpture at the Chicago Auto Show. I’ve never seen anything like it and I had to get it on video. Turns out, it was created by Chuck Hoberman, of the Chuck Hoberman Sphere. Check out what it does and be amazed:

Well folks, there you have it.

If I find any other cool things around Chi-town, (and I’m sure I will) I’ll be sure to post a video.

Stay tuned for more awesomeness and in the meantime, peace and happiness.

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