Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A mouse in my house!

I have lived in my house for 8 years and since I'm a single person, I'm usually pretty good at keeping the place clean. Unfortunately, having 2 cats and a dog have taken their toll over the last year and I find I would much rather play with the animals than wash dishes, scrub the floors and dust. Don't get me wrong, it's not to the point that the authorities need to be called, but it's much less tidy than I would prefer.

So.....last night I noticed that Sasha kept sniffing under the stove. She then moved down the hallway. She first sniffed under the door of the coat closet. When I opened it up to see what she was looking for, there was nothing there. So, she moved onto the door to the linen closet. Again, I opened the door. Nothing there either. I finally concluded she was either chasing a spider or a dusty bunny. At this point, either was a possibility. A few minutes later I rounded her up and carted her off to sleep in her crate.

Then when I was doing my nightly chores of teeth-brushing and contact lens-removing, I noticed that now Phoebe was sniffing under the door to the linen closet. Odd. I walked over and opened the door to see what was there. I still didn't see anything, but she was VERY interested in getting behind the whicker basket that holds all of my cleaning supplies. So whether curiosity or a spoiled cat got to me, I'm not sure, but I decided to pull out the basket and see what she was after.

I expected to see a spider or a cricket. Frankly, I often feel bad for the ones that foolishly make their way into my house. It would be more humane for me to just smash them with a shoe rather than make them go through the torture of being repeatedly picked up and spit out by Phoebe. She loves nothing more, I think.

Anyway, I digress. I slide the basket out of the way and see a little mouse about the size of a small golf ball huddled up in the corner. He seemed petrified (if a mouse can be), but at that moment I think I was MUCH more freaked out then he was. Flashes of cockroaches and mouse infestations went flying through my mind. This was the epitome of my lack of housekeeping skills. I screamed at the top of my lungs. Luckily Troy was there and came running to my rescue. He was sure that I had found one of the cats or the dog dead at my feet. Instead when he turned the corner and found me in a sobbing, frantic state, I can only imagine the things that went through his mind!

He assured me that he was there because of the cold weather we've been having and not because my house is toxic. He told me I need to calm down and asked me to get a shoe box. I retrieved one for him and then locked myself in my bedroom (with a towel under the door for safe-keeping) as he very bravely scooted the shoebox trapped mouse across the wood floor and out onto the front sidewalk.

When he was all done he told me I could come back and showed me the mouse cowering on the landing outside my house in a near comatose state.

My hero!

Now my only option is to scrub every inch of the house from top to bottom. I better get started. It's a big house for one person.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You be the judge...

VEEERRRRY creepy or be the judge:

Last night, despite having spent her day running around with other puppies, Sasha was in quite a mood. Generally speaking, after a day like that, she's exhausted and spends most of the evening either napping next to me on the couch or lounging in the lazyboy. Not last night.

Perhaps it was the downward change in temperature. Perhaps it was the wind whistling outside. Perhaps it was the rose bush branches knocking on the picture window. Whatever it was, she was restless and insisted that she wanted to go for a walk.

Most of the time I try to make sure our walk is over before it gets dark, but since the days are getting shorter that is seemingly becoming more difficult to accomplish. So I slipped on some shoes, bundled myself in a sweatshirt and grabbed her leash. We were off. She probably would have been happy with a stroll up and down my street, but since I had steps to get in anyway, I opted for a longer route. We usually cover my street and the one just east of mine. Occasionally we go into the next neighborhood over. We very rarely walk the street just west of mine. Perhaps after last night I know why. I was in the mood for a change of scenery and since it was getting dark quickly and the western street is not lit as well as the eastern street, we went west.

As we strolled, the smells of falls surrounded us. The winds whipped around us and the leaves crunched under my feet. I thought about the fact that it was eerily quiet and that October and Halloween were quickly approaching. We had just made it to the southern portion of the street, which is void of nearly all street lights and house lights when I noticed a flickering light up ahead on the porch of the house we were approaching. I thought to myself how homey that seemed that someone was getting into the autumn spirit. We passed a big hedge and crossed into the sidewalk in front of the house. It was then that I noticed, through a small opening in the porch, a man sitting on the porched eerily lit by the flickering candle light. His hair was grey. The area where his eyes should have been were mere shadows. He was wearing what appeared to be a black cape. (The reasonable, rational part of me says it wasn't but still.....) He sat there in perfect silence slowing stroking his fingers across the head of an equally silent dog that sat beside him. It felt like a scene right of a scary movie.....or something set up by one of those haunted houses you can visit in October. I was freaked out!

I usually nod a greeting or say hello as I pass other people in my neighborhood. I couldn't make myself do that this time. I was frozen with fear.

I urged Sasha on and we (quickly!) proceeded down the street. About 3 minutes later we were headed back up the street (on the opposite side!). As we passed the house, now from a safe distance, I looked over to see if the man was still there. There was no sign of him! There was no candle. No dog. With one lone hall light on in the house, it didn't even appear that anyone was home. At that point, we nearly ran home. Now I know why I never go down that street!

So, you be the judge.....creepy occurance or just my crazy imagination?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Knowing when to say something

We are all human beings and as such we interact with one another and form relationships and attachments. Sometimes we are automatically linked to another people like our parents and siblings. Other times we form relationships with people because we enjoy the same activities, have similar political views or simply live near one another.

So, my questions are: What are our responsibilites in these relationships? How much should we involve ourselves in these relationships and the actions of the other person? What can/should we expect from the other person?

Maybe it depends on the relationship.

For instance, what are a parent's responsibilites towards a grown child? I'm sure that if we asked 100 people we could get 100 different job descriptions for a parent. Since I haven't polled 100 people and since this is my blog, we're gonna go with my definition for discussion purposes. For me, a parent is a caretaker and a leader for the child. For the most part, parents are given 18 years in which to shepherd their children in the way that they think is right. That means being there for them.

Really there.

Not just being in the room.

That means asking hard questions and sometimes answering hard questions. It means teaching them that fighting for the things that they believe in is important and crucial and okay. It means saying it's okay for them to say they don't know the answer and helping them figure out where the answer might be found. It means telling them when you think they are doing something that is going to harm their bodies, minds or souls. It means saying "I'm not happy with your actions, but that doesn't mean I love you any less." It means realizing that some day (maybe a lot of days) they are going to disagree with you and probably not do the thing you think they should. They (probably) aren't doing it to hurt you. They are not you. You are not them. It's their life, but you're supposed to BE there for it. Whether they are 6 or 16 or 60.

I think the same goes for our spouses and siblings and friends. Until we all develop the ability to hear one another's thoughts, we need to speak to one another. If we care about that person, we should say something. Your girlfriend probably doesn't want to hear if you think the man she's dating is bad for her. Your spouse probably doesn't want to hear you're unsatisfied with your love life. Your sibling probably doesn't want to hear that they've made choices in their life you disagree with. Those are scary things to say/hear. After all, that could mean the end of a relationship. But if things are broken, they don't get fixed by ignoring the problem.

So perhaps sometimes I say too much. Perhaps sometimes I should be more aloof and guarded. Perhaps I should just mind my own business. Unfortunately I don't see me doing that any time soon. Hopefully those who I have relationships with know this about me and love me in spite of it. Hopefully they know I love them because I tell them - because I am THERE for them mentally and physically - because I care enough to argue with them.

I'm very thankful for those people in my life who do the those things for me. I don't always want to hear what they have to say, but hopefully I am learning that just because we don't agree doesn't mean they don't love me. Hopefully I am letting them help to make me into a better person.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sometimes time really does heal (most) wounds

A few weeks ago I shared a heart-breaking story of how my extended family flew apart after the death of my uncle. Unfortunately during the year after his death, my brother and his wife went through some very difficult times. Despite encouraging him to do the work that his marriage vows required of him, they were divorced later that year after only a few years of marriage. In 1997, when he told me that he was going to ask her to marry him, I have to admit I was not very enouraging. I felt like they were too young (he was only 21) and I'm sure part of me was jealous because before he started dating her, my brother and I had been very close. Over time, however, I grew to like her and it was nice to have a sister since I'd never had one before.

Despite my desire to be there for her during and after their divorce, we eventually lost track of each other as sometimes happens during these situations. Last year though, through the beauty of Facebook, we reconnected. I was thrilled to see that she was happily remarried with a young son. She had always wanted a family and she finally had it.

A few weeks ago, I saw that they were expecting their second child at the end of September. I took a chance and contacted her husband via Facebook. I asked him how she might react to a visit from me and I was touched to hear that she had always spoken fondly of me. He told me that she was scheduled to have their daughter by C-section on Friday in Fort Wayne. So, early on Saturday morning I made my way north and I was overjoyed when I was greetly with open arms when I surprised her at the hospital.

I stayed for a couple of hours and got to meet her husband, catch up on how things are in her life now and held their newest bundle of joy. I can unbiasedly say she's just beautiful. She soft and pink and spends lots of time sleeping as most babies do.

So, my heart is warmed that sometimes time does heal most wounds and I look forward to getting to visit more with them in the future.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fabulous Friday Finds - Ken Burns "The National Parks: America's Best Idea"

Here at "Life Lessons 101" I've been trying to figure out how to share some of the things that I come across and my enthusiasm for them with my (growing number - yeah!) of readers. I've struck upon the idea of a weekly entry called "Fabulous Friday Finds" where I'll tell you all about some thing that I think is a must see/try/do. If you have anything you'd like to share, just drop me a line and I'll check it out!

So, for our inaugural Fabulous Friday Find, I present:

Ken Burns' documentary "The National Parks: America's Best Idea"

I'm a HUGE fan of the National Parks and have even considered completing the Iron Butt Assocation's National Parks Tour on my motorcycle! The parks are amazing snapshots of the beauty of the United States. Many of the sites were rescued and protected from developers decades ago and we as a country are richer for it.

This summer Troy and I ventured out west and visited a few of the parks. Being from the flat state of Indiana, it's hard to describe and fathom the heights, depths and sheer vastness of places like the Grand Canyon, Zion and the Mojave desert.
For us, these are tourist destinations complete with running water, indoor plumbing, snacks whenever we want them and cute little gift shops where we can buy souvenirs to show we were once there. But can you imagine what it was like for those original European settlers of America to stumble upon the Grand Canyon for the first time? They were hearty folk and I'm sure even they had to have been daunted by that!

I've only been to a few of the parks, but I'm sure I'm done watching Ken Burns' documentary (check your local listings for Sunday evening on PBS) on the beauty and knowledge of the historical places all around us, I'll have my bags packed and be half way out the door to see them.

The National Parks are most certainly a Fabulous Find!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A stranger in a familiar land

I was recently talking to a coworker who moved to our fair city of Indianapolis a few months ago in order to take this job. She's originally from Zimbabwe, so she's much more worldly and cultured than most of us around here. Because of that and the fact that she checked out stats on Indianapolis before moving here, she has high expectations for what a city should offer.

While talking to her, she mentioned that she was disappointed with the things that the city had to offer in the way of green spaces, walking trails, cultural events and restaurants. This is where I decided to help her out a bit.

I've lived here in Indianapolis for nearly exactly 12 years (gasp!). I moved here out of college with less than 2 weeks to find a place to live, knowing nothing about the city and knowing no one else who lived here. For the first 4 years I lived here, I swear I went south of 82nd street (the VERY north side of town) no more than 4 times. Since then I've lived in 3 different places around the city and now I work right in the heart of downtown. Due to purposeful action or accidentally getting lost on a couple of occassions, I've learned a lot about what our fine metropolis has to offer. So, as a way of showing her the value of our midwestern city, I present a few of my favorite things in/about Indianapolis:

Parks/green spaces: My #1 favorite place in the city to just "be" is a tiny little speck of grass situated between NIFS (National Institute for Fitness and Sport), the NCAA headquarters and the Indianapolis Zoo. To the casual observer, it doesn't look like much. It's sort of shaped like a mini ampitheater and during the summer lots of people gather there to sunbathe, read, play frisbee or hacky-sack and I've even seen one guy training his dog there. LOTS of distractions for that. It's a wonderful place to relax and enjoy some quiet right in the heart of the city. The view of the sunset from that vantage point can also be spectacular!

Adjacent to the little speck of grass ampitheater are another two of my favorite areas: 1) The downtown canal walk and 2) the bridge over the white river to the Indianapolis Zoo.

The canal walk area has something for just about everyone:

Into history? Then you need to check out the USS Indianapolis Memorial or the Medal of Honor Memorial. These are amazing monuments erected to honor our brave military men and women. Sit for a while and think if you're so inclined. These are memorials, after all. Perhaps if you're lucky, you might even get to chat with a survivor during your visit.

Is art more your thing? Then you can't miss the 92 counties of Indiana presented by artists. On the outside of the Indiana History Museum, there are pieces of art made to represent each county in Indiana. For instance, art piece for Allen county, where Johnny Appleseed and I are from, is a beautiful iron gate made to look like an apple tree. Beautiful!

Perhaps you're more of an active person who likes to get out and enjoy the fresh air. The canal walk is the perfect place to walk/run or ride a bike! You can even rent paddleboats, 4-person bicycles and perhaps take a Segway tour of downtown!

When you're done exploring the canal make sure to take the short walk over to the bridge that takes you to the Indianapolis Zoo. This is always a great places to see some magnificent sculptures. The pieces are always being changed, so no two visits are every the same.

I must admit I don't get to experience cultural events nearly as much as I should, but among my favorites are concerts at the Murat Theater, plays and musicals at the MANY small theaters around the city (checkout NUVO for show dates and times) and during the warmer months of the year there is usually a music festival of some sort going on at Military Park or on the grounds of the Easley Winery.

I'm sure after exploring the city, you'll be famished, so why not check out a few of my favorite dining haunts? Clearly among my favorites has to be a sushi place. My pick, by far, is Ocean World. It's on the north side of town and a bit of a drive from downtown, but SOOO worth it. For pub food and atmosphere, you can't beat The Chatham Tap (English style pub) or the Old Point Tavern (MUST try the chicken nachos!). Finally, there's a sort-of upscale family owned business right down the street from me called the Legend. At least once a month my friend Patrick and I end up there for dinner and are never disappointed by our favorites. This place started small and has wisely grown slowly over the last 6 or 7 years.
So, off the top of my head those are some of my favorite spots in the city where I reside. What about you? What about your city makes you happy to live there?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The carrot and the stick

I am no good at self-discipline! Heck, I'm not really any good at being disciplined by others either. I swear something goes off in my brain the second someone says, "You can't have....." or "You should do that...." It's like I say, "Oh, yeah? Watch me!" Unfortunately, much of the time those things that I am being told that I shouldn't have or do really aren't good for me.

Should I have a cookie? No. Should I get to bed early? Yes. Should I get out and walk? Definitely!
Do I have a cookie? No...well not just one! Do I got to bed early? Sleep is for the weak! That walk? But the couch is so comfy!

Knowing this about myself, I am constantly trying to find something to motivate me to do the things that really are good for me. I know I can. I've don't it before. I know those things like eating right, exercising and getting plenty of sleep make me feel MUCH better, but they seems so much like work and so little like fun when I am actually in the moment that my decisions are made. A few years ago I actually was able to buckle down and stick to it by working out every morning and shunning those pesky sweets. I took off 40 pounds and felt great! But now I've slipped back into my lazy life again where I opt for snickers rather than salads.

So what can I do to motivate myself?

Well, I LOVE the Biggest Loser on NBC! Seriously! I love the fact that the money the winner takes away ($500,000) is soooo not the point. I love Bob and Jillian scares the crap out of me. I love seeing people make breakthroughs about WHY they eat and realizing they are amazing people. (Still working on those myself!)

So here's my thought:
the stick approach:
I need to get more steps in since I am QUICKLY falling behind! My plan is that I only get to watch that week's show once my average for the prior week is 8,000 steps per day. Will this work? Probably not. But hopefully it will at least push me a little further each day. Currently my average per day is about 6,500 - hence the reason I am 100,000 steps behind!

Have any suggestions? I'm open to nearly anything! What works to motivate you?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The dogs days of summer

On Saturday, Sasha and I went to a little community park where they were having a neighborhood festival complete with square dancers and a jump house for the kids. There were lots of other dogs there and it was a great chance to catch up with our dog trainer. She was there testing dogs for a program that takes dogs into nursing homes and prisons for visits. I love fall for these activities. The weather was wonderful, the leaves were changing color and it was just a great day to be out and about in the city.

While hanging out with Sasha this weekend, I realized that in my next life I'd like to come back as my dog. On Friday evening, Troy and I went to the fish fry being held at our church and we decided to take Sasha with us. (I try to take her with me as much as I can because I think she would rather be out with me than stuck at home by herself and it also makes for good teaching moments to keep her training sharp.) While we were there LOTS of people commented that she was such a good dog and was very pretty. (uh yeah...duh!) As the fish fry was closing down, a woman came up and asked if Sasha would like some of her sandwich. Okay. Sasha certainly did like that fish. Then on Saturday while we were out, I decided to go to Dairy Queen for a treat (shhhh....don't tell anyone). The young woman manning the window asked if my dog could have some ice cream. She then gave her a little cup of vanilla ice cream. Nice! I'm not sure if dogs are actually supposed to have ice cream, but Sasha sure did like it!

Sure, as a dog you have to deal with ignorant owners who yell "Shut the f^*& up" (an ACTUAL thing I heard this weekend) when you simply do your job by barking at the strangers outside of your house, but for the most part, it's a pretty good life!

Seriously! Is this not the cutest dog EVER?!?

Friday, September 18, 2009

101 in 1001: A recap of the first 60 days

So, Sunday marked day #60 of 1001. I thought perhaps it was a good time to let you all know how I'm doing on my list of 101 items.

For the most part, it's been a productive 60 days.

I've completed 2 items already!

#50 was "Write myself a letter on Day 1 to be opened on Day 1001". I did it....I swear....Now I just have about 940 days to figure out where I put that pesky thing. Darn it!
#97 was "Buy a Wii". It's great fun, but apparently for me, it's more fun if other people are around for me to play it with. I got the Wii Fit and the EA Sport Active, but I haven't really done much with them yet.

Okay, those two weren't that difficult, but they're done, right? Sweet!

There are a few items that I keep track of on a daily basis and try to continually keep in mind as I go through my day:

#8 Collect 100,000 pennies. I got a really great start on this by hitting up all those people who I know collect change. That got me about 6000 or so! Since then they've been continuing to trickle in at a much slower pace. However, I have to send out props to a couple of groups. First, my parents brought down quite a few when they came for a visit a few weeks ago and my friends at bowling have been REALLY great. I told my teammates what I was doing and they quickly offered the pennies they had. Since then the word has spread and when I show up at bowling every week, there is routinely a sizable pile of pennies on the table at the place where I sit. I love that! They are the best!
#20 Donate 1,000,000 grains of rice through This one I'm near perfect in my progress. As of day 60, I had donated 60,000 grains. Yeah!
#79 Walk 8,008,000 steps. This one is a real test of fortitude and perseverance for me at this point. I wear a pedometer everyday and have been religious about keeping track of my steps. After 60 days, I should have walked about 480,000 steps. As of midnight Sunday, I had walked a mere 389,000. Yes, that's right, I am over 90,000 steps behind! (Actually, as of press time today, I am nearly 100,000 steps behind! Ugh!) I felt good a few weeks ago when I went to MotoGP and walked nearly 30,000 in two days. That was then.....this is now. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be enough time in the day. I walk the Sasha twice a day (most days) and try to park about 4 blocks from my work. The problem is that I have a desk job, so my butt stays glued to the chair for about 8+ hours. I'm gonna have to find a solution to this dilemna. Any thoughts? Wanna go walk with me? Know of any interesting places to walk? Maybe a change of scenery would help.

I've also:

* Eaten sushi twice (I'm looking forward to September sushi!)
* Fed 1 expired parking meter
* Hugged 23 people (I'm always looking for volunteers)
* Sent flowers anonymously once
* Seen my parents twice
* Learned 40 state capitals
* Gotten 4 blog followers (welcome, new followers! Thanks for joining me!)
* Gotten rid of a few items that I own....MUCH more on this to come!
* Bought flowers 3 times
* Moisturized, photographed, crocheted (plastic bags) and prayed!

Check back often to see my progress.

Oh! And have I (or someone else) inspired you to start your own list? I'd love to hear what you've got planned! I'm always looking for ideas for list #3!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Does time (really) heal all wounds?

In 2000, my oldest uncle died of brain cancer after a very long battle at the age of 52. He was my mom's oldest sibling and a very fun guy to be around. Unfortunately the cancer took it's toll not only on his body, but also on the familial relationships around him.

Before his illness, all of the aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents on my mom's side made sure that we all got together for the holidays. My uncle, Steve, and his wife and their children would first visit her family in Ohio and then join us for our celebration later in the day. We had the normal family rows over silly stuff that amounted to a lot of nothing, but generally speaking we all got along pretty well and were relatively close. It was a closeness I enjoyed very much and I always looked forward to our get-togethers.

Unfortunately, when he got sick all of that changed. Because of his illness, things were tough for them financially, but I know my parents went out of their way to make sure and bring over bags of groceries every few weeks and to find out what else they needed. Steve was mom's brother. She cared for him. She wanted to see him taken care of and to get better. She wanted what was best for him. Due to no fault of our own (that I know of), we were unceremoniously ushered out of Steve's life. I know that his wife wanted to blame someone for his illness and it seemed we all were as good a target as any. The last time I got to see him before he died was around Thanksgiving. When I saw him at his funeral in May, I barely recognized him. He was a mere shadow of the man he once was. He probably weighed around 100 pounds, which was devastating to see since he'd always been a rock of a man who weighed more than twice that.

Then next time we saw my cousins and aunt was at my grandfather's funeral 2 years later. Not many words were spoken between us and you could cut the tension with a knife. Despite our continued efforts at reaching out to them, in Steve's wife's eyes, we were still to blame for his death. A few years after that, Steve's wife's sister died in a car accident and my mom, her other brother and his wife all went to the funeral home to pay their respects and give their condolences. Let's just say they were not welcomed with open arms. They went there to be a comfort and were instead treated as lepers.

At the time of his death, Steve's two children (my cousins) were teenagers. P was just 14 and A was set to graduate from high school in just two weeks. I can't imagine how devastating it is to lose a parent at such formative ages. My heart simply ached for them. In the 9 years since his death, they have grown up, gone to college, started jobs and P even got married. He's 23 now and through the beauty of Facebook, I was able to find out that he and his wife were expecting their first child last Friday.

I can tell from their posts, P and his wife were both geniunely excited and looking forward to the birth. She went into labor last Friday right on schedule and we (myself vicariously) all watched with anticipation as P kept his Facebook community of friends and loved ones informed of the progress. Unfortunately their precious daughter was born with more medical complications than her little body could handle and she died on Saturday afternoon. I cried for them and all that they had lost when I read his post.

But I also cried because I couldn't do more to be there for them and comfort them. My mom's family and I have been exorcised from their lives. To them we don't exist any longer and I mourn the loss of family members who have been needlessly taken from my life despite the fact that we still walk the same earth.

When I told my mom of their loss, she and her other brother and sister-in-law chose (perhaps wisely) not to show their respects at the funeral home this time. Steve's wife and family have chosen to exclude us from their joys and pains. We respect that.

So I did what I could for them. I wrote them a note of condolence on the funeral home's page devoted to such things and I sent flowers. Anonymously. They may not want me in their lives, but I still want to show I care. They may not know who the flowers are from, but they will know that someone cares.

So today as they bury their baby girl, I will grieve for them. I will grieve for the love we once had for one another. I will definitely cry and I will definitely hope that time really does heal all wounds.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Birthday to me! (Part II)

Now that I am closer to 40 than 30, I often find myself wondering about people as they age and looking on with great admiration as some people have found a way to do it very gracefully. I'm not talking about those who have opted for plastic surgery or have some supernatural ability to avoid wrinkles. I'm talking about those seniors who may have gray hair and crow's feet, but constantly wear a cloak of youth around them.

Perhaps it's my own struggle with depression or my fear that life is just passing me by that sometimes makes me feel older than I actually am. Perhaps that's why I use this 101 list to keep moving me forward. So what do those people have who are able to go through life seemingly immune to all the ills that aging brings?

Here are a few things that I've come up with:

1) Embrace life. Those youthful seniors aren't afraid to try new things. Or if they are, they don't let that fear stop them. George Bush senior has been skydiving on his birthday for at least the last 11 years. Troy's uncle STARTED running marathons in his mid-50s. Some say life doesn't even really START until you're 40!

2) If you love someone, tell them! We don't know how long each of us has and I would much rather my parents/siblings/friends say, "yes, yes...we know you love us Heather" because I've said it so much than live the rest of my life wishing I had told them.

3) Take care of your mind, body and spirit. I think too often in trying to care for others, we neglect ourselves. At least I know that's true for me.

a) Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Don't like lima beans? Not a fan of brussel sprouts? Think the skin of an apple tastes like grass? That's ok. You don't have to eat those. We have been blessed with an abundant planet that supplies us with a myriad of choices. Keep looking and tasting until you find the fruits and vegetables that you do like. Your body will thank you for it.

b) Get plenty of rest. This one is a really tough for me, but when I do get enough sleep, I'm amazed at how much better I feel, how much easier it is for me to concentrate and remember and how much more pleasant I am to be around. Needing to sleep does not mean you are weak or wasting time as I've sometimes been taught. Sleep is a necessary thing! Oh! And naps are wonderful too.

c) Get out and get moving. Exercise is so crucial for our bodies. After all, if you don't use it, you lose it right? Don't like to "exercise"? How about taking a walk around your neighborhood? It's a great excuse to stay up on what's going on around you. Why don't you walk instead of taking a cart the next time you golf? How about bicycling to the store instead of taking the car if you just need a few things. They have these great bike racks that could hold a few groceries. Wear a pedometer and try to get 10,000 steps a day. It doesn't have to be a huge deal. It just has to be something.

4) Decide to be happy. I think most of the time we are as happy as we decide to be. We can either dwell on our have nots or embrace those things we have in our lives that we cherish. We can either look at not getting what we want as a blessing or a curse. When I was in college, I wanted to be an RA, but I said I would be an RA anywhere other than LaFollette. I was living with all women on the quiet side of campus and I'd heard that LaFollette was full of hoodlums. Where did I get assigned? Of course it was in one of the halls in LaFollette. It turned out to be one of my greatest college experiences and I still keep in touch with people I met there.

So, what do you think keeps people young? What keeps you young? What makes you feel old?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009 certificates

I love to save money and now I want to share a little secret with you.

I often get email updates from It's a great site that sells discounted restaurant certificates. You can usually buy a $25 gift certificate for just $10 or a $10 certificate for just $3, which is great. There are some stipulations like you have to spend at least $35 when you use the $25 certificate and an 18% gratuity is automatically added, but I think it's still a great way to get to try out a restaurant that you're not so sure about. It's also a great way to go out fairly cheaply. For instance, a friend of mine and I went to dinner last night and spent just $15 including tip for 2 entrees, an appetizer and 2 drinks.

From time to time, the email updates that I get will give a special code that you can use to get an even larger discount. For instance, since the restaurants have probably been struggling a bit in this economy, they've been sending out offers that allow you to get a $25 certificate for $2 or $3. Very nice.

This afternoon when I opened up my email, there was a code that will allow me (and now you) to purchase $25 certificates for just $1 in celebration of today. The date today is 09/09/09. Sweet! The certificates are good for 1 year and can simply be printed from your computer as soon as you pay for them online. The offer only lasts for 99 hours, so this is a great opportunity to stock up. For $10 you can get $250 in restaurant visits! To find restaurants in your area, simply use your city or zip code to search.

Use the code NINETY to redeem this offer.

The fine print from the offer
: Important Stuff: This offer is 90% off the retail value of Gift Certificates. The majority of $25 certificates are available for a $10 retail price. In some instances, a $25 Gift Certificate may have a retail price of $12.50 or $15.00. Limit of one (1) $25 certificate per visit to a restaurant. There may also be minimum spend requirements. Restrictions on the restaurant certificates vary and are subject to change along with the retail price of the certificate. This promotion does not apply to previously placed orders and cannot be combined with other promotions or offers. Redemption of this offer requires that you agree to all the terms and conditions found at Registration, including valid email address, is required for purchase. When redeeming a Gift Certificate, these savings cannot be applied. Offer valid from Wednesday, September 9, 12:01AM PST thru Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 3:01AM PST.

I am in no way compensated by site for sharing this information with you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Happy Birthday to me! (Part I)

Saturday is my birthday. That's good and bad, I think. Why is it bad? I'll be closer to 40 than 30. Why is it good? I'll be closer to 40 than 20. I'm not saying I'm all put together now or that I'm completely comfortable in my own skin yet, but I most certainly wasn't either of those things in my 20s.

In celebration of our birthdays at work, it is customary for each person to bring in a treat to celebrate their own birthday. I know it seems odd, but I guess it's easier than someone else remembering every person's birthday because what happens when someone gets forgotten?

Some people bring cookies, cake, donuts, bagels, etc etc etc. I opted for cupcakes because they are easy to make and, since I was working with a limited time frame, because you don't have to wait for them to completely cool before you frost them.

The problem with not letting them cool completely before you frost them is that you can't use the traditional knife or spatula method of getting the frosting onto the top of the cupcake. My mom is a skilled cake decorator, but she has some amazing cake decorating supplies, loads of practice and several classes under belt. I have had neither the practice nor the instruction that she has had and I certainly don't have any fancy supplies, so I decided to make do with what I had available at my house. My tools of choice were some plastic sandwich bags and a set of 4 PLASTIC icing tips available in any grocery store baking aisle for about $1.

Despite my lack of skill, time and proper tools, I think they turned out to be pretty cute. At any rate, they couldn't have been to bad since most of them currently reside in the bellies of my coworkers.

Martha Stewart should be quaking in her cake decorating boots!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Bird Man and Andy Rooney

When I grow older, I want to be like the Birdman....................

While watching 60 Minutes the other night, Troy and I saw the story of Forrest Bird, the Birdman of Idaho. As the tag line on the story says, "he's an extraordinary American inventor." As a young man, he stumbled into a life that had him inventing medical devices that have saved countless numbers of lives. He's rubbed elbows with Henry Ford, Orville Wright and even Howard Hughes. He's restored and flown, driven or ridden a myriad of vehicles. But for me, the thing that makes him a national treasure and someone to be admired is his pure zest for life. He's 88 now, but you wouldn't know it to hear him talk. His enthusiasm for flight and his life experiences simply bubbles up out of him.

I want to be like that. I want to live life to the fullest. I want to embrace it with gusto and not let a little thing like fear (of failure, of what people will think) keep me from doing anything that truly speaks to my soul. I can only imagine that the Birdman is a pleasure and a delight to be around. I think he can probably find the best in any person and any situation. That's how I WANT to be....

instead, I am Andy Rooney......

While Troy and I were at the 2009 Indianapolis MotoGP having a great time, I looked around and said, "Wow! We all carry a LOT of stuff!" It seemed like everyone was carrying backpacks or coolers or souvenirs. I wasn't scoffing at anyone. I was merely making an observation. So you can imagine my chagrine when Andy Rooney's 2 minute talk at the end of 60 Minutes on Sunday evening was about all the stuff that people carry! I'm not saying I don't like Andy Rooney, but I think you would have to agree with me when I say he's a BIT curmudgeonly. Like Forrest Bird, he's among the more senior of our population (currently he's 90), but UNLIKE Mr. Bird, he's probably not such a pleasure to be around most of the time. He may be observant, but he's probably not going to make your spirit soar or make you feel youthful and ready to grab life with both hands when you have a conversation with him.

So hopefully the next time I feel fearful of trying something, I'll remember the example of the Birdman and take a chance. But more importantly, the next time I feel snarky or uncharitable, I'll remember I don't want to be Andy Rooney.

Technical Difficulties

I'm not sure if it's blogger or me or what, but I'm having trouble seeing all the stuff along the right side of my blog. I can edit it, but it doesn't show up. Odd...I hope those people at blogger get this fixed soon....

Let me know if you can or can't see it as well. Maybe it's just my system. Thanks!


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