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Friday, December 31, 2010

I Resolve...

Do you make New Years resolutions? I know many people do and many people have given up because they never keep them anyway. I know my resolutions seem to be similar year after year: lose weight, eat healthier, read more, but the very process of making the resolutions is important. It's a little piece of you saying I want to be better, I want to improve myself, I'm not giving up and I will accept even the smallest victory as progress.

It's easier, they say, to incorporate one thing at a time and make it part of your daily routine. Trying to do too much at one time is a sure-fire way to not keep any of your resolutions. The last seven months, I've incorporated riding my exercise bike into my routine. It helps to have someone exercising along with you and some kind of goal - my exercising partner is in Boston, and yet we ride daily, and we have a goal on our virtual bike trip. We started on June 1st in Bar Harbor, Maine and have finished the year in Buffalo, New York, checking in every Friday with a spreadsheet that tracks our daily miles. The holidays have thrown things out of whack a bit, so it's time to get things back on track.

And the end of the year is a good time to do just that. As we look back at the old year, our accomplishments, our failures, our good times and bad, we can tweak ourselves just that little bit to get ourself back on track, to get ourselves on the road we want to be on, to get ourselves situated for the future, to set a plan in motion.

Maybe a resolution is just a part of a 12 month plan, part of what we need to do. Are you making a resolution this year? What are you going to work on in the new year? And where do you see yourself in one year's time?

Happy New Year to all, and a heart-felt thank you for letting me come into your lives just a tiny bit, for you have come into mine and I am better because of you.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What's Red and Green with Blue all over?

Yesterday morning I awoke to white! We had gotten a few inches of snow overnight and before the snow lost its luster, I took a picture of it sticking to the trees across the street. It looked like someone had frosted the trees, an icing courtesy of Mother Nature! Well, that really put me in a holiday spirit so today I opened the boxes and bags of decorations that I had pulled out and Christmasified my condo! There was red, there was green, but there was also a suspicious blue that ran throughout many of the decorations! There is a Christmas angel under my little tree, received from a friend in Spain; there is a snowflake man from a friend in Oregon; there's a cable car from a friend in San Francisco and Norwegian reindeer from a friend in Britain who spent a summer in Norway. There's two pillows, one from a cousin in Texas, and one from a phile friend in Pittsburgh. There are ornaments and trinkets I picked up on Cape Cod, in Germany, and at the Chicago Christmas markets. There's Snoopy and Woodstock and Garfield and snowmen and lots and lots of Stitches! There are ornaments from Randolph AFB and from Christmas packages throughout the years; there's Hallmark ornaments and a Blackhawk one and a pirate nutcracker. There's a puggie in a stocking ornament and silver reindeer stocking holders. But mostly there's joy at the season, happy memories of years past, anticipation of being with family and the fun and food that brings, there's little treasures for family and friends yet to be wrapped and wishes of tidings of great joy to everyone and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving 2010 - how did it get here so fast? Weren't we just putting away the Christmas decorations? Wasn't it just summer? In the blink of an eye it arrived. Before falling fully into the Christmas frenzy once again and coming up with those New Year resolutions, it's time to look back, to remember, and to give thanks.

I am thankful for the food I will have on my table today, a warm, dry, safe home, the love of friends and family even though they are far away this holiday. I am thankful for being able to go off and explore this year, in Harper's Ferry, in Acadia, in St. Augustine and appreciate the beauty of nature. I am thankful for a hockey year that was capped off by a Stanley Cup; though winning isn't everything, after so many years of living that line, it's nice to experience the joy of victory. I am thankful to have met several friends this year in person, at a Valenpug party, at a CrystalCon in Pittsburgh, at a date-night dinner in Florida; each new friend touches me, making me a better person, taking a little of me and leaving a little of themselves. I am thankful for the time I had with Rainy and the lessons learned; she will be in my heart forever and because of her one day I will have a forever pup. I am thankful for memories of those no longer here; their spirit lives in memories and carries on in the little things I do each day that I learned from them. I am thankful for the plans we are making for two family trips next year; travel not only provides interesting things to do and learn about different places, it provides life-long memories and quality time with family. I am thankful for the struggles, some big, some small, throughout this year; they have strengthened me and given me a focus on what is really important. And I am thankful to everyone reading this, for letting me express myself, for welcoming me into your world.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

October Trip Pics

At the beginning of October, I drove down to Florida to visit with family. Our first order of business was to pack up the camper and drive up to St. Augustine and Anastasia State Park. While in St. Augustine, we went to a Greekfest, visited the lighthouse (the inside of which was the teaser picture the other week!), visited Fort Matanzas, and toured Flagler College which used to be the Ponce de Leon hotel and has Tiffany windows in the cafeteria! We had gone to the more famous fort Castillo de San Marcos on a previous trip so we didn't stop there this time. We also did a Ghosts and Graveyards trolley tour which took us to the lighthouse at night and also into the old town jail. Since St. Augustine is the oldest US city, there's a lot of history and a lot to see there. Plus, it has some really nice beaches! Coming back to Central Florida, we went to Birds of Prey in Maitland. The birds were awesome, though I don't think I'd want them for pets! One of the little owls still has its downy feathers and because of a birth defect will never get its adult feathers and therefore never will be able to survive in the wild. It's kept in a box to keep it warm because even in Florida there's cool weather that could harm the little owl. The volunteer there took the time to show us some of the birds close up. After a couple weeks visiting with family, I left, but didn't head straight back home. Where did I go? That will have to wait for the next time!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Oh Betty, We Hardly Knew Ye

The world got just a little sadder today as our furiend Betty crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Betty was the 'farty Frenchie' part of the Smushie Face crowd and has left us way too soon. I will always remember her as a Smushie with attitude who never failed to bring a smile to my face when I read her adventures with the rest of her Smushie family. If you haven't already, go send a hug or two to the rest of the Smushies who are terribly saddened by the loss of dear Betty. May she rock on with all her friends over the Bridge. It's not goodbye, Betty, it's till we meet again.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Other "R"

I have pictures to post from Florida, and pictures to post from Virginia, but we interrupt the regular blogging schedule for this public service announcement. Tomorrow is election day. Make your voice heard; It takes an informed electorate to make it all work. So read up tonight on the candidates and the issues, then get yourself to the polls tomorrow, tell your friends and neighbors to get to the polls. It's your right, but it's also your responsibility. Vote!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Gift of the Present

This year, the start of autumn has a different feel to me. It's a season that I like a lot, for the crisp days, for the beauty of nature, for the fresh start September still makes me feel. But this year, the hockey season is approaching in a way it's never felt before. We, the Chicago Blackhawks, won the Stanley Cup last season. I've never started a hockey season after winning it all the previous season. Winning was a time of sheer happiness, a time of arms raised, of championship tee shirts, of everyone smiling just a little bit more. As autumn comes, as the start of the new hockey season begins, things have changed, as I knew they would. The euphoria is gone, due to the salary cap the roster has changed quite a bit, and everyone in the league will be gunning for us.

This year, autumn is a time for reflection, a time of looking back but also looking forward. It's also a time to be thankful for what we've got, and what we've had. No matter what happens this season, I will always appreciate the specialness of last season, the magic that allowed everything to fall into place just right at just the right time. And that magic has taught me a lesson: to appreciate all the little things that fall into place just right, to appreciate all the little miracles that happen every day. In our busy lives we sometimes sit back to reflect, we sometimes look toward the future. To be aware, and to be mindful of the world around us is as important as reflections on the past and planning for the future. Do you come to Sunday evening and wonder where the weekend went? Are you so caught up in the struggles of everyday life, whether it be finding the right clothes to wear, getting the kids to all their activities, taking care of several obligations, that your day is over before you realize it, leaving you wishing for more hours in the day? Do you load your fork with the next bite before you've swallowed the last?

This autumn, I am going to work on being more mindful of each day and the special moments of each day. I am going to work on not rushing through each day and wishing for more time, but making time to enjoy and breathe and refresh myself. I am going to work on appreciating the present. It's really the only time we have, the time where we can make a difference or rest a minute or push ourselves forward. The past is left for reflection, the future is not here yet, but the present is right in front of our face and it's a gift. What are you going to do with it?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

One if by air, two if by sea, one if by sea, two if by air?.... oh hail!

Living in the city and so close to the lake, I try to take advantage of some of the activities the city has to offer. This past August there were two big events that I went to on the lakefront. The first was the Air and Water Show. Now I didn't go down to see the water invasion at North Avenue Beach, but I did go to see some of the aerial acts, including the Blue Angels. But before the show even began, I got to see some of the practice runs of the Angels from my balcony! (That's the first picture, then the rest are from the show). Later in August, the city was hosting the Tall Ships off of Navy Pier. We went down and spent the day on the pier, going aboard the ships and getting a good view of some setting sail. Late afternoon, we went for a sail of our own on the Tall Ship Windy which is based right here in Chicago. Both days were beautiful and provided a great show and a great look at the city.