Shower the people you love with love.

Another audible! I’m getting pretty good at this…though I’m running out of substitute challenges…

I spent some time filming a particularly fun challenge this weekend with my cousins, my parents and my aunt. My cousin Mike has a film production company, Bon Lavi Productions, and his other (paying) clients need to come first so we have a slight delay on when the footage will be available.

That being said, I have taken this week to do another challenge that I’ve really been looking forward to.

Challenge #14:

Choose 5 important people in your life and write each one of them a letter letting them know how much you love, admire and appreciate them and why they are so special to you.” – From Amanda Rose

Amanda, thank you for giving me this challenge. I don’t think we take enough time to really let one another know how much we care about each other these days. Everyone is so busy with their own lives that sometimes the appreciation gets lost in the hustle and bustle. I have been fortunate to have so many incredible people in my life, and while I always say “I love you” at the end of every phone call, I don’t always let them know why.

I have selected both of my siblings, my best friend Braden, my best friend Megan and my cousin Amy as the recipients of these letters. These are not in any specific order and please don’t be offended if you are not one of these 5 people. It was really difficult to figure out who to choose for these letters because I have so many wonderful friends and family members in my life.

This forced me to take a step back and really think about the people that have influenced me to be a better person, always wanted what was best for me and been there, unconditionally, every single step of the way. It also made me realize how incredibly lucky I am. I have so many more letters I want to write and who doesn’t love getting snail mail these days!?

Writing these letters was a very personal experience and I spent the better part of the day crying, both happy tears and sad tears, while writing each letter. I also laughed as I reminisced about all of the good times I’ve had with each one of them. I’m not going to share the letters word for word because those are between me and the recipient, but I’ll give you several highlights from each.

We’ll start with John, my big brother.

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When I say that he is the best big brother a girl could possibly ask for, I beg you to prove me wrong. From day one, John has been by my side, cheering me on, building me up and teaching me how to be a better person. I used to joke about how he was the All American Kid in high school because it seemed as though he could do no wrong. The truth is, that’s exactly what he is. Captain of every sports team he ever played on, good grades, flawless in the eyes of everyone- he gave me some pretty big shoes to fill. More importantly, he is my protector, my leader, my confidant and someone to aspire to be like. When we were little, we didn’t always get along. We were fighting so bad once that my parents created a rather unconventional punishment. We were forced to hold hands for 24 hours. I had to go to his baseball practice with him and hang out in right field while he caught fly balls. If one of us had to use the bathroom, the other had to wait outside until they were finished. It was really very brilliant. Well done, Mom and Dad. John takes time to understand why I work the way I do and loves me for who I am, good parts and bad.  Now that he has found his perfect counterpart, Becky, and they have brought a beautiful little girl, Belle, into this world, I am even more proud of the man he has become. I love you, John!

The next recipient is my sister, Abbey.

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Anyone that has spent any time with either one of us, both separate and apart, knows that we have not always gotten along. Abbey and I butt heads frequently, but over the past few years we have developed a relationship that I have really come to value. As a kid with ADHD, I was kind of all over the place. I had a temper, I forgot things frequently, I got picked on (but who didn’t?) and Abbey spent a lot of time looking out for me. She played the big sister role when she really didn’t have to. Since she moved to Dallas and now onto Denver, she’s really started to find her way and I couldn’t be happier. She is the definition of independent. We have started to build the friendship I’ve always wished we’d had and I can honestly say she’s one of my best friends. I turn to her for things I never dreamed I would have as a child. We have our inside jokes and we goof off with one another whenever we have the opportunity. She gave me a “sister trip” for Christmas! All we need to do now is pick our destination! Can’t wait!! Love you, seester. Boop.

I sent the next letter to my best friend, Braden.

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Braden and I have known each other since we were younger, but through college and now in our young adult lives, he has become one of my best guy friend. He’s my go-to for many things including a good laugh, comfort in times of need and advice when I need a straight shooter. He’s helped me through some difficult times and vice versa. The absence he created when he moved to Boston for a new job with Gillette at the beginning of the year made me realize just how much I relied on him and missed him. It’s not often that you come across someone that can cheer you up more than anyone else and give you a heavy dose of reality at the exact same time. He’s got my back when I need him to and I’m very grateful to have him in my life. I’ve been up to visit him twice since he moved and had the time of my life on both occasions. Boston is an incredible city and I’m so proud of all that he has accomplished. Love you, B.

The fourth letter goes to my best friend Megan.

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Megan and I got to know each other when we joined the Junior League together. We knew each other in High School, but hadn’t had much interaction. She is one of the reasons that I encourage every young woman I know to join the JLC. I have met some really incredible women and built some pretty unbelievable friendships. Megan is one of the most compassionate, warm-hearted people I’ve ever met. Her husband, Drew, and I poke fun at her “silver lining” perspective, but it is one of her most admirable qualities. She finds the upside in everything. She is always there to listen, give me perspective and support me when I need it. She’s also my go-to mani/pedi date and I love our catch-up sessions. Megan and Drew are currently expecting a little girl, their first child, and I know she will be the most amazing mother. She is everything that a best friend should be and I’m grateful for her every day. Love you, Megan!

My final letter goes to my cousin Amy.

(WTF Amy. How do we not have ANY pictures of just the two of us!?)

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This little lady is by far one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met. Life has handed her more than her fair share of curveballs and she handles each and every one of them with grace, maturity and positivity.  She’s actually one of the reasons that I started this whole project in the first place. I hope to come out of this adventure having learned to handle these unexpected life events half as well as she does. We have spent quite a bit of time together in the past year or so and I cherish every minute of it. She has incredible drive and succeeds at everything she tries. She’s another one of those All American kids that every parent should be honored to have raised. Her parents are equally as amazing and I’m so honored to call them my family. She is not only my cousin, but another one of my best friends. I view her as I do my sister. Amy moved to New York at the beginning of the summer to take a well-deserved job as a PA with Nightline. I miss her very, very much, but I’m so excited for her and cannot wait to see all that she achieves in the Big Apple. Plus, it’s just another place I get to go visit!! I love you, Ames.

This challenge has been incredibly rewarding. It has reminded me of all of the blessings in my life and allowed me to reflect on how lucky I am. I’m surrounded by amazing friends and family and am grateful for each and every one of you.

I’d also like to take a minute to write a little note to my loyal readers that check in every week to see what I’m up to. It honestly makes my day when people message me about how much they liked my blog or ask me why my post isn’t up yet if I’m late updating it. It reminds me that I’m not just doing this for myself, but for all of you, as well. I went into this expecting for it to be exciting, but I never expected to have so much support and encouragement from all of you.  I’m still floored by some of the numbers that this has generated. In less than 4 months I have been read by over 5,000 people in 31 countries. I’m humbled and overjoyed to have touched so many lives and am incredibly eager to see where it goes from here. I have expressed this to many of you individually, but seriously. It means the world to me. Thank you so very, very much!!

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On that note, I feel like I need a catch phrase…suggestions?

Wakeboards, Music Festivals and Family! Summer Vaca at its finest

Hey, guys!! I have returned from family vaca, music festival madness and some much needed R&R! I hope you all have had a lovely last couple of weeks! Those that were in Cincinnati suffered from quite a bit of rain and are now entering the hot, humid dog days of summer. We had perfect weather while we were up in Michigan at Walloon Lake so it was difficult to come back to.

The sunsets on Walloon are priceless.

The sunsets on Walloon are priceless.

I have had a crazy couple of weeks since my last post and have a lot to fill you in on! My next official challenge will post next week as I’m just getting back into the swing of things in my normal every day life. It’ll be a good one so be sure to tune in!

I spent 10 days surrounded by my family relaxing at our place on Walloon Lake. I got my cherries, spent time with my grandparents, learned how to drive a boat, fished, watched a parade, cooked, roasted marshmallows and took in some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see. I also stood witness to the most incredible fireworks show I have ever seen, standing directly beneath it!

Just because I took a little vacation from the blog does not mean I did not see my fair share of challenges along the way. For starters, I learned to wakeboard!! I’m a bit of an odd man out in my family in the sense that I am incredibly uncoordinated. Like constantly tripping, bumping into things and seriously injuring myself uncoordinated. My brother, John, and sister, Abbey, are both athletically inclined and are generally successful at everything they attempt. As mentioned before, I’m the artsy one. That being said, I have been wanting to try this for awhile and since water skiing didn’t go so well, I figured I stood a better chance at wakeboarding.

The reason: both legs are strapped to the same board and can’t get twisted all around, spread into splits far more than my flexibility allows and if you catch an edge, your whole body falls in the same direction. These are the same reasons I prefer snowboarding to skiing.

My parents got us a new MasterCraft wakeboarding boat for Christmas so I have been planning on conquering the sport since I first looked at the pamphlet. This thing is pretty sweet. It has more storage than any boat I have ever seen in my life. Naturally, this is to conceal all of the sweet water sports accessories he got to go with it. We have skis, tubes boards, surf boards, knee boards, etc. It has a killer sound system and definitely isn’t hard on the eyes. They said it was for us, but I’m pretty sure it’s dad’s new favorite toy.

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Determined to pick this up, I asked my Dad to take me out on the boat and give it a whirl. He had arranged for a pro to take us out the next day and I did not want my first attempt at the sport to be witnessed by someone who competed professionally. I know that sounds kind of backward because he could obviously teach me better than my family members, but whatev. After receiving some guidance from my siblings and reviewing a few instructional videos I found on YouTube (because everyone does that kind of research first, right?) I strapped the board to my feet and got into the lake.

For those that aren’t aware, this is the hardest part for me. There is something about sitting in water where I cannot see what lies beneath me that causes me to become compleeeetely unglued. So after a small fit of squeals and Ohmygodohmygodohmygod’s and a bit of splashing around to scare away lake creatures (like that really works…) I adjusted. Dad put the boat in gear and off we went!

Look how good I am! Just kidding! This is Brett Dense, our pro that showed us how it's done!

Look how good I am! Just kidding! This is Brett Dense, our pro that showed us how it’s done!

Popped up on my first try!!! Sure I face planted 4 seconds later, but the point is I got up!! Feeling slightly defeated, and again floating helplessly in the fish-ridden abyss while the boat circled back around, I analyzed what I thought I’d done wrong, grabbed the rope and gave it another go. Up again. Down again. Followed by a few bouts of being dragged through the wake when I didn’t make it up. I’m a *bit* stubborn so my sister is hesitant to provide criticism on my technique, but I asked nicely and she obliged. We concluded that this kept happening because I couldn’t figure out how to stay within the confines of the wake. For some reason my alignment is off and I pull to the left. I also wasn’t pulling my knees close enough to my chest and instead of letting the boat pull me up, I tried to stand on my own too soon. I tried a few more times and had a few successful 10-30 second rides. And after a particularly wicked wipe out, I mastered the graceful landing by surrendering the rope once I realized I was going down. After the 6th or 7th time I sat defenseless in the lake water, I became acclimated and didn’t mind it so much. It was actually kind of pleasant. I guess there’s an adjustment period for everything. I’d had enough for the day so we boarded the boat and returned home.

The next day, Brett Dense from Action Water Sports (the pro I mentioned earlier) arrived to show us how it was done. After watching my sister do her thing and learn to jump the wake, it was my turn to show him what I was bringing to the table, which was not much. He was, however, impressed that I managed to get up on my first try. He saw my first run and I pulled off a decent ride, though he told me that my legs were too stiff and my body was too squared up with the boat. We also adjusted the rope. Contrary to popular belief, when first learning to wakeboard, the rope should be as long as possible. My sister put his advice into terms I would understand by comparing my stance to what I would do in Pure Barre. Pelvis in, shoulders back, core tight. This solid gold information proved extremely beneficial when I not only popped up and stayed up, but I also stayed within the wake. We hit a bump that shook my ego and I let go, circling around and sinking gracefully into the water. My brother called this my “pirouette.” Armed with a new sense of confidence and the tips of keeping my arms straight and leaning on my toes or my heels to steer my board, I tried again. I glided along the glistening waters of Walloon Lake like a pro, weaving from side to side within the wake. Then I got a little too close to the waves, caught a wicked edge and ate it. Bad. And my brother caught it allll on film.

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My first time wakeboarding!

My first time wakeboarding!

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My brother gave it a go after I did, but he’s been doing this for years- well over a decade if my memory serves me right. He worked on the technique of trying to jump from one side of the wake to the other. He had a few wipe outs, but he had some pretty impressive jumps!! Brett gave us a treat by showing us some pretty great tricks and acrobatic feats that I could only dream of accomplishing. It was a very impressive show.

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Wake surfing followed. I have never even seen this before so I was intrigued when they brought out the board. John and Abbey mastered it almost immediately. Wakesurfing is different from wakeboarding in many ways. For starters, you are like RIGHT behind the boat. The idea is to ride the wake coming right out of the prop. The rope is MUCH shorter and eventually, if you get in the right spot on the wave, you can release the rope and continue to surf as your normally would on a regular surf board. Since you’re just surfing, your feet aren’t strapped into the board like they are on a wakeboard. It was pretty cool to watch, but sadly, I was not lucky enough to figure out how to do it.

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Other than that, my dad and I spent some time fishing on what I presume to be is an almost fish-less lake. He hooked one by the fin and I had 2 on, but didn’t bring them into the boat. We spent the week with Belle, all completely fascinated by the little munchkin. She is walking (everywhere) and starting to learn how to talk. She mastered “Mama” while we were up there and my mom seems to think she is now Gaga instead of Grandma. I continue to be completely enamored by her and her development. Since my mom is sick we all took turns taking care of the meals that she normally puts on the table so effortlessly. We celebrated my Dad’s 56th birthday and my twin uncles’ 54th birthday. My uncle brought his kite surfer over to test out on the water to no avail, but it drew quite the audience and was hilarious to watch him try. Becky and I also spent some time tubing in the new three seater that dad got to go with the boat!

Becky tubing!

Becky tubing!

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I returned home for a day and immediately headed up to the bustling metropolis of Ft. Loramie, OH to spend the weekend in a field with 35,000 of my closest country-loving friends at Country Concert. It’s a three day music festival in the middle of nowhere Ohio. People come from all over, set up tents and RVs, camp for the weekend and listen to a pretty impressive list of country music performances.
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This was my second year attending and, let me tell you, it was MUCH better than last year. Last year we camped (yes, I camped) in a tent in 110 degree heat and I woke up each morning expressing my hatred for the entire experience. For $6 a piece you can shower in a semi truck trailer hooked up to a well water line. The lavatories are either porto potties or a similar semi truck trailer offering 6 disgusting stalls a piece. This year, to my delight, my friend Mike rented us a top of the line RV featuring air conditioning, a flat screen TV, a refrigerator and our very own bathroom. I will never camp-camp again. Troop Beverly Hills style from here on out.
Country Concert 2012

Country Concert 2012

Cards Against Humanity: A Party Game for Horrible People

Cards Against Humanity: A Party Game for Horrible People

I even purchased a pool off of Amazon in preparation for the heat. However, mother nature decided to be kind and treated us to a weekend of blue bird skies and 85 degree days. It was magnificent.
Kevin and Mike sitting in my pool! We filled it with well water, which quickly turned an awkward shade of brown. I think the Porta Kleen team drained it because it looked rancid...

Kevin and Mike sitting in my pool! We filled it with well water, which quickly turned an awkward shade of brown. I think the Porta Kleen team drained it because it looked rancid…

Our sweet RV that took us all of 5 minutes to destroy

Our sweet RV that took us all of 5 minutes to destroy

Our American Flag Beer Ping Table really sets the tone

Our American Flag Beer Ping Table really sets the tone

We got up early Sunday morning and hit the road to head back to Cincinnati, exhausted, covered in dust and ready for a night in my own bed in my own house. On the way, I asked Adhrucia to look up the line up for Bunbury, another music festival in Cincinnati that coincided with Country Concert, featuring many of my favorite bands. It was a tough decision but the atmosphere at Country Concert is worth it. The moment she mentioned that The Knocks were going on at 2:45 and I made the executive decision to drive faster and tack on another music festival to the weekend. My friends said I was ridiculous, but Christy Samad, always at the ready, gladly attended! She even got me a free entry bracelet!!
The Knocks are two DJs out of New York, Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner and James “Mr. JPatt” Patterson, that play fabulous jams that I cannot get enough of. Their name references the early days in their career when neighbors would knock on their door for playing music too loudly. Had I been their neighbor, I’d have asked to come in and listen. You should listen to them immediately.
My faves:
Christy and I were charging our phones in the Techbury tent and Ben and James walked by us and Christy was like, “Um Katie…aren’t those the guys you came to see?” I immediately leapt to my feet and ran after them, you know true fan-style asking for a photo and to chat for a minute. They were super cool, totally obliged and mentioned some of the acts they were there to see. It’s refreshing to see artists acknowledge their fans! Thanks guys! Totally made my day! You rock!!
Ben "B-Roc" and James "Mr. JPatt" of The Knocks

Ben “B-Roc” and James “Mr. JPatt” of The Knocks

Bunbury, along with MidPoint Music Fest, have brought some pretty impressive acts to Cincinnati that I might not otherwise have had the chance to see. I am sad to say that I missed some of my favorite bands on Friday and Saturday, like Youngblood Hawke, Atlas Genius and The Mowgli’s. I did have the pleasure of discovering Camera Obscura and Bethesda. Christy and I also caught Night Terrors of 1927, The National and another personal fave, A Silent Film.
In case you haven’t figured this out, I’m a music junkie. Shazam is my favorite app and I use it about 30 times a day. This is also the reason I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of money on iTunes lately…life needs a soundtrack. I sing in my car without shame. Sometimes I dance, too. Deal with it.
And to conclude this summer vaca of amazingness, MY MOM FINISHED CHEMO!!!!!! How cute is she, seriously?! Thank you all for the well wishes and love you’ve sent our way. My family is forever grateful!!
Mom made it to the finish line! NO MORE CHEMO!!

Mom made it to the finish line! NO MORE CHEMO!!

Tune in next week for the official challenge to bring it all back to action. It’s gonna be a good one!!!

Let’s Catch Up

 

 

Hope you all are having a marvelous Independence Day with your family and friends. I will be spending the next 2 weeks relaxing in the sun and spending time with those that mean the most to me. In light of this, my blog will not be the center of my focus. I will do my best to keep up with it, but it’s been a little difficult with travel and such. It’s also a little hard to have that lake 20 feet away and be sitting here typing on my laptop.

I thought I’d take a minute to circle back around on a few of the challenges I have had and how they have taken shape since I completed them.

Let’s recap!

I started off this little adventure by reading The Four Agreements.

For those that don’t remember, The Four Agreements are: 

1. Be impeccable with your word – Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t take anything personally – Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t make assumptions – Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always do your best – Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

I was asked to post them somewhere that they’d be visible and try commit to living them every day. While I have not fully lived these Four Agreements every day, I would say that they have made me more self-aware and aware of those around me.

The biggest difference it has made is in realizing how powerless I am over other people’s actions. I have taken into consideration the fact that when someone does something out of character it is not always a reaction to something that I have done. I am trying not to make assumptions as frequently as I used to.  I don’t jump conclusions nearly as often as I used to.

I am a firm believer in “Always do your best” because that is how I was raised. As long as you gave it your all you can be proud of your results. This has come in quite handy with job interviews and relationships lately. All you can say is that you tried. Sometimes things don’t work out.

I haven’t noticed too many lasting changes in perspective since reading this book, but I do catch myself from time to time and say things like “This has nothing to do with you” or “you have no idea why they did what they did so don’t try to figure it out.” It’s rather refreshing, actually.

Katie Goes to Hoxworth….

I apparently have the most popular blood on the planet, because Hoxworth is stalking me. No seriously. I have O neg blood and they need a ton of it. I have not yet gone back to donate more of the goods. But I will. I promise.

Letters to My Teachers

I received a very nice note back from both recipients of my letters. This is a screenshot of my letter to google:

Dear Google Response

Dear Google Response

For those that didn’t get a chance to see it before, here it is again:

The Challenge that has had the greatest effect on me thus far is the one from Adhrucia.  Remember how I always told you she knows what I need before I know I need it? Once again, the chick is spot on. Not only has the book profoundly affected the way I think, the woman she introduced me to, Shari Goldsmith, is indeed helping me find my inner sass.

Recap:

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For starters, I was clearly skeptical of The Secret when I read it. If you’ll remember, in my post I stated that these people were essentially crazy to think that things would happen to them if they simply willed them to happen. Well, I stand corrected.

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I began by testing the theory with smaller things. I would concentrate on wanting someone to call or text me, thinking only positive things and then, suddenly, it would happen! Then I began thinking about certain songs I wanted to hear and they’d play next!

I started drafting the perfect job description in my head and considering everything that it might entail and then it, almost word for word, it appeared! Better yet, they called to ask me if I was interested in discussing it before I had even applied! (This is the Special Events Development Officer at Children’s.)

That whole money in my purse thing is still happening. Just the other day I had to go pick up some desserts I had my friend Blair, of Brown Bear Bakery, put together for my dad’s birthday. I totally forgot to pick them up and ran down quickly, without time to stop at the ATM. 4 dozen salter caramel crispy bars cost $48. The whole way I kept thinking “Please let there be $48 in my purse. Please let there be $48 in my purse.” I pulled into the parking lot and dug to the bottom of my purse, unfolding every last dollar bill I had in there. I sh*t you not. I had EXACTLY $48 in my purse. This keeps happening to me and has happened to me for quite awhile. I hope it never goes away…haha

Now I believe this is all about the power of positivity, but I won’t say I’m totally ruling out the Law of Attraction thing just yet. But the Scientist in me says it’s crazy…

Shari Goldsmith is a women’s life coach. She is helping me figure out what I wanna be when I grow up. I think the root of the problem is a matter of confidence. When one loses their job it is easy to be knocked down a few pegs. I remember walking into our very first meeting, horrible posture, intimidated, shy, not sure what to expect. I now walk out of every meeting feeling rejuvenated, motivated and empowered. There are ideas of starting my own business, but I think that’s a little ways off. Need to get some real experience first! Adhrucia was spot on in saying that she thought  Shari and I would be Soul Sisters. We’re practically the same person.  Maybe that’s why I like her so much!

On the job note, I have been called in for second interviews with the Art Museum and Children’s. I am also still volunteering with digital engagement at Cincinnati Museum Center and I absolutely love being there. I’m trying to decide which would be more worthwhile. Walking in every morning and staring at that GORGEOUS Chihuli every morning at the CAM or gazing up at the Rotunda at CMC everyday.  These brief moments and experiences continue to remind me that deep down inside, I’m still just a child staring at the world with incredible wonder, curiosity and amazement.

The most exciting challenge was attending the Passion Pit concert solo from Tara Noland. I owe you many thanks for this because I never would have considered doing it without the nudge. Because you had me do that, and because of my little note, my blog was read in 16 countries that day.

Since then, it has been read in 32 countries. HOLY. CRAP. I don’t know how these people come across it or why it interests them, but I’m beyond excited about it!!

Having spent the last 6 months working on this project, in terms of conception to present day, I can honestly say that I’m thrilled I decided to take it on. You have taken me in so many interesting directions and it’s only been 14 weeks. I cannot wait to see what lies in store for the rest of the year.

For those readers that live in the USA, I hope you all have a spectacular Independence Day. Let’s celebrate what those men, and the women behind them, fought for so many years ago. Consider the bravery, energy and determination the exuded to create this great nation we live in today. I hate to say it, but if met with the same concerns today, I cannot say that we would fight as strongly for the same liberties that they did back then and that makes me sad. I fear that we take them for granted and we might lose sight of just how hard it was to obtain them.  In light of the recent political events, striking down DOMA *yay!!*, the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg and with all of our American history in mind, please remember these words:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

'Merica

‘Merica

A very special shout out to Lil Zain, my most America-loving friend, happy favorite holiday, presh!

Let freedom ring. ‘Murica.

When the moon hits your eye…

This was, by far, the most delicious challenge I’ve had yet!! I’ll gladly do it again if anyone wants a repeat performance!!

Challenge #13:

“Learn how to make pizza and throw a pizza party for friends and family!” – from my cousin Taylor and his wife, Sarah!

Taylor and Sarah's wedding on the beach in my favorite place on the planet, Boca Grande, Florida.

Taylor and Sarah’s wedding on the beach in my favorite place on the planet, Boca Grande, Florida.

My cousin Taylor married the greatest lil lady named Sarah. She is ALWAYS on the move, always having a blast and fully embraces the joy in life. On top of that, she is one of the most motivational people I’ve ever known. And (after we’d had quite a bit of wine at family dinner on the eve of her rehearsal dinner) she decided to let me do her makeup for her wedding, which was far more exciting for me than it was for her, I’m sure. That has actually inspired a couple of other challenges coming down the pipeline so keep an eye out for ’em! Taylor is the definition of entrepreneurial. He has incredible ideas and then makes them happen! succeeds. He is one of my toughest critics, but biggest supporters and I greatly admire that in him because it reminds me of his father. The two of them love cooking and creating and I’m pretty sure this was the perfect blended adventure for them to give me!  The entrepreneurial nature of the restaurant I’ve selected just brings it all full circle.

One of my longest friendships is with my friend Stacey Harrington. We met at college orientation and became fast friends. (She’s the one I planned the wedding shower for not too long ago). She has been dating an awesome man named Steve Mitchell for quite some time and they actually just got married a few weeks ago.  These two are always willing to bend over backwards to help me out with stuff and once again, they’ve come to my aid.

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Little known fact…Steve is also a retired freestyle rapper and Doc Optimo made an appearance at their wedding reception – easily the highlight of my evening! Don’t worry, Steve, while your rhymes were sick, I’ll keep the video off the blog. 🙂

Doc Optimo serenading his bride!

Doc Optimo serenading his bride!

When Steve is not dropping the beat, he is the front man/bar manager at A Tavola, a pizzeria and authentic Italian eatery in Over the Rhine. For those that aren’t from Cincinnati or are unfamiliar, Over the Rhine is one of Cincinnati’s shining stars. It is our oldest and most historic neighborhood. Rich with character and artistic flare, this area has become quite the hot spot for independent restauranteurs and small business owners. Similar to Market Street in Louiville, KY, Vine Street has created a magnetic draw bringing people from all walks of life to feast in the same place.

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A Tavola Storefront

A Tavola Storefront

The restaurants run the gamut from Bakersfield‘s fabulous tacos and Senate’s gourmet hot dogs to Anchor’s freshest seafood around and Mayberry’s deliciously upscale, yet affordable, cuisine. I am devastated to share that Mayberry has made the difficult decision to close its doors on July 7th, ending with a final brunch. If you haven’t been check it out ASAP. It truly is one of my favorite spots and I’m very sad to see it go.

Tucked in between eateries are a wide variety of bars and shops, as well.  Whether it’s your corner chill spot, an outdoor oasis filled with activities or the “hottest” dance floor in the city, you literally cannot go wrong. Shopping covers everything from clothes to furniture, mostly featuring local craftsmen’s wares.

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I spend quite a bit of time in the area as a good majority of my friends live around there now. Christy, who works for 3CDC, a non-profit organization devoted to creating a bigger, better Cincinnati, and lives in the heart of it all, is always telling me about different happenings and new events that either her company or other local establishments have going on.

The point is, if you haven’t been down to visit, I don’t know what you’re waiting for.

Back to pizza…

A Tavola has an advantage over the other places I may have considered because of my ties to Steve and his friends. After traveling the country exploring his love for pizza and a run of successful “Pop up pizza nights” at Take the Cake, a fabulous bakery and eatery in Northside, Jared Wayne decided to open up shop in the up and coming neighborhood of OTR. His background was in real estate development and he saw a good thing coming in the area.

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After getting a couple of his friends involved, the dream became a reality. They imported a giant handmade brick oven from Naples, Italy and hit the ground running.

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I watched the whole process unfold as we caught sneak peeks of the construction progress on breaks between rounds at The Lackman, my favorite bar and one of 4EG/Bob Deck’s masterpieces, located just across the street. Seeing the excitement of it all made me really want these guys to succeed. They took a huge risk with minimal experience in owning or running a restaurant. Somehow, they knocked it out of the park. The wait is generally quite long and the line is out the door. It’s great though. You put your name in, then bop around the area until they call your cell phone to tell you your table is ready. Forget having one of those pesky beeper things that only let’s you roam so far! You can go wherever you want while you wait!  They even signed a lease to open up a new location in Madeira! Get excited, suburbanites!

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Steve and the gents at A Tavola were gracious enough to let me come in and try my hand at tossing some dough. I’d like to thank Leroy for being so particularly patient with me! My parents, Aunt Tessie, cousin Terri and best friends Megan Stacey and Christy Samad came down to join me and taste the food I’d created, as well as my other faves on the menu. Christy filmed some of the footage and joined me in one of A Tavola’s finely crafted cocktails. I had a Corpse Reviver 2 and Chris had a Gin and something or other. It was served with an ice ball, which I thought was pretty cool.

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Here is a link to A Tavola’s menu/website. It’s not just pizza and they offer weekly specials on drinks, pizzas and antipasti items. They make the cheese fresh and cure all of the meats in-house.  All of their veggies and produce are locally grown, with the exclusion of their tomatoes. They only use Italian tomatoes. And my oh my, they are delicious!  They even have items on the menu that my mom can eat with her current dietary restrictions! (One chemo treatment left, by the way!!!! So pumped for you Care Bear!)

It is magnifico and perfect for all ages!  Without further ado, my pizza tossing abilities:

Having some trouble embedding this one. Watch the video here:

I’m gonna take a minute to promote small business while I have you listening to me on my little soapbox. The news of Mayberry closing makes me genuinely sad. There are lots of people out there testing their entrepreneurial strength in an economy that makes it tough to survive. These small businesses and restaurants are part of what are making Cincinnati thrive these days. There are so many great assets to our community that rely on our support. Visit them. Love them. Return to them. They need you.

That is all 🙂

Buon Appetito!!

Will Work for Money! (this makes more sense if you know what I’ve spent the last year doing…)

You’re hired! Those two little words are something that I’ve been dying to hear for the past 8 months. (So have my parents…) After losing my job last August, I took some time to really think about what I want to do with the rest of my life, and while this blog has taken me in so many different directions and revealed so many of my talents, I think I’ve always known what I’m meant to do. Change the world! One event at a time!

I’m having an internal struggle with how I should approach writing about this on the off chance that the people interviewing me peruse my blog, but as this is a full-disclosure kind of thing, here goes nothing.

Challenge #12:

Apply for 5 different jobs that you see as possible careers.” – from my cousin Terri Hafertepen.

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I have had a wide variety of experience throughout my career. I’ve been everything from a Cocktail Waitress at Montgomery Inn Boathouse to an Account Coordinator at Powers Agency. I’ve planned fabulous events for clients and driven all over the Tri-State area to create a preferred vendor list for a new marketing plan. I’ve served as a self-proclaimed concierge to our fabulous little city. I’ve networked my heart out. I’ve shot incredible promotional videos for well-deserving non-profits and escorted Big Boy around the Greater Cincinnati Area prepping him for his Founders Day Celebration. I have evaluated home inspections and built incredible relationships with general agents over the phone, having never once met them in person. I’ve written columns for company periodicals. I’ve designed promotional materials. I’ve scanned twitter feeds and unintentionally ended the serving career of a few less than stellar employees. (I still feel very bad about that, but you should know better than to bad mouth your company in a public forum.) I’ve pretended to be a potential customer to evaluate competitor programs in an effort to help improve our own products and services. (I’m not entirely sure that one was ethical, but it was fun!)

I’ve also had quite a lot of experience doing things people don’t pay me to do. I volunteer. A LOT. I’ve coordinated large, fabulous galas. I’ve put on cooking classes. I’ve helped provide hundreds of new moms with necessary lessons and supplies to ensure a healthy, productive start to their child’s life. I’ve mentored a sweet, bright little girl named Destiny, whose growth and development surprises me more and more every day. I have delivered rack cards to every single hotel in a 40 mile radius of Cincinnati. Just this morning I helped reveal a new Augmented Reality feature for the Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibit at Cincinnati Museum Center. It’s so awesome. I highly recommend you check it out.

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This little lady seriously is my pride and joy.  She’s a straight shooter, tries so hard at everything, says what’s on her mind and makes me laugh so much. I hope I don’t screw her up… 🙂

The point is, I’ve done a lot of different things that have provided me with a set of skills that could really lend themselves to a variety of opportunities. I’ve also put a lot of miles on my car. I have a lot of interests, as well. Rather than applying to thousands of positions, like I have before, I decided to be more calculated about it.

My parents are both very intelligent and great at what they do. My mother, who inspires me to be just like her every single day, is an incredibly active community volunteer. My father is one of the brightest, most driven businessmen I’ve ever met. They try very hard to help me in this process, but I’m kind of a pill about it. I’m stubborn and want to do it on my own. I decided to reluctantly take my parents’ advice and read a little book called StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. They gave it to me and my siblings for Christmas a few years ago and it continued to sit on my shelf and collect dust. Then I cracked it open and wondered why I’d never done it before…

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You read about 30 pages and take a brief (180 or so questions) online assessment and almost immediately, it evaluates your answers and provides you with your top 5 qualities or things that you do best. This book teaches you to focus on the things that you are inherently good at, rather than trying to improve the skills you don’t naturally possess.

I mean, duh. That makes total sense. All our lives we are evaluated on our progress through school, through jobs and throughout our every day activities. Have you ever received less than satisfactory reviews on your performance? “Needs improvement” should now be read as “Not your strong suit, let’s try something else.” For example, I’m the first one to admit that I have flaws or things that I’m not particularly good at. This is why I’m not designing jet engines. It’s in everyone’s best interest. So I sat down and took my assessment.  These are my results:

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Now, for those that have not read the book, you have no idea what that means. Fortunately, it also provides a handy little description laying out exactly what each of those represents. Then it goes further to tell you what you should do with these strengths and 50 different aspects of an action plan for EACH THEME to help utilize it to the best of your abilities. Awesome.

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For those of you that know me, most of these probably come as no surprise. I’m a wear my heart on my sleeve, upbeat, life of the party kind of girl. I’m sensitive and intuitive. I’m also an ENFP, for those that are familiar with the Myers Briggs system of measurement.

For more information on what that means, visit: http://www.personalitypage.com/ENFP.html

So after looking at these two systems of evaluation, I narrowed down my skill set and starting scanning the job boards, as I generally do every morning. My first choice is ALWAYS The ArsWave Job board. ArtsWave features all kinds of career opportunities for local creative-based nonprofit organizations. I imagine that no matter what role I eventually end up with, it will have been posted on this page.

I have set some criteria for what I want to do.

1) I want to work for a non-profit. I am not a sit in a cubicle, filling our paper work for the man kind of girl. I want to make a difference and know that the hard work I put in every single day is for a greater cause.

2) I want a different day, every day.

3) I want to interact with others on a very regular basis. Solitude is not my friend.

4) I want to experience new things in an environment where there is opportunity for growth.

5) I want to be inspired by the place I work and the people that work alongside me.

6) I MUST love what I do.

I woke up Tuesday morning and, low and behold, right before my very eyes was the job I was born to do.

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Job #1: Event Coordinator for the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Reasons why this is perfect for me: (though, if you have been reading any of these blog posts, or, I don’t know, talked to me…ever, I’m not sure that there is really a need for explanation)

1) I love to plan events. A lot.

2) I love art.

3) I love to talk to people. A whole lot.

4) I love to solve problems. Really tough ones like the caterer is stuck in traffic and the event starts in 4 minutes. WHAT DO WE DO!?

5) I looove Cincinnati.

6) I looove non-profits.

I realize there is a lot more to this position than those 6 things, but when it comes down to it, fundamentally, everything I’ve ever wanted from a job lies in this very position. I was so excited after reading over the job description that I immediately set into action. I drafted a new cover letter, created a relevant resume, put together some writing samples and sent it on its way. I also contacted anyone I knew that might be able to help connect me with the powers that be at CAM. Disclaimer: If any of you have any interest in applying for this job, don’t. It’s mine.

I just got word that I have an interview tomorrow. If any of you know anyone and should feel so inclined to call in and tell them how incredibly amazing I am, I’d genuinely appreciate it! For those that have already helped me, I genuinely appreciate your support and guidance! Fingers crossed!

Then I came across another incredible opportunity.

Job #2: Development Manager for JDRF.

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Development is a bit like sales. Except, by giving money to the organization, you don’t actually get any product in return. You get exposure. You get a tax deduction. You get the feeling that you’ve done something good. But other than maybe a table at an event or your name on a building (if you give a whole, whole lot), there isn’t anything tangible you get in return. Imagine trying to sell someone something and then say thank you for your money, I don’t have anything to give you. It’s not an easy task. But for some reason, it seems to be something that comes naturally to me.

I like the challenge of getting to know your donors, building that rapport, finding common interests and eventually, going in for the ask. Making the ask is a very delicate situation and should be handled differently with each individual. Determining how each situation should be handled is part of the reason I love it so much.

I reached out to a family friend for some sort of connection to the powers that be, but received confirmation today that they have already filled the position. Thank you for your help, as well.

Job #3: Pretty much everything I qualify for at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.

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This is another job board I frequent. I love kids and would find working for CCHMC to be an incredibly fulfilling work environment. I reached out to one of their HR recruiters whom I’ve been working with over the past year and applied on their less then easy to use job site. This list of options includes:

Communications Specialist – Patient Services

Marketing Associate

Project Manager

Business Development Manager.

Job #4: PR Manager at Newport Aquarium

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How cool would that be?! I know it’s not a non-profit, but I would definitely be excited to go to work every day and see all the incredibly cool animals. I bet I’d get to play with the penguins…though, last time I did that it was not as desirable as I’d imagined it’d be. Is it appropriate for a 29 year old to spend her lunch break like this every day:

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‘Cuz I will.

Job #5: Accessories/Purse counter at Nordstrom

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Just for kicks. If one of these other career opportunities doesn’t work out, there’s always time for a part-time gig slangin’ handbags to housewives!  Commission + discount = Happiness.

I think it’s pretty clear which one of these I want the most.  While I spend most of my mornings looking for potential opportunities, Terri’s encouragement came at just the right time. I was reinvigorated and I basically stumbled upon what I’m hoping is the perfect job. While I’m not positive this will end with those two little words, I’m incredibly hopeful. Fingers crossed!!!

Feeling Pinspired!

I like to make stuff. Like REALLY like to make stuff. I’ve always been pretty creative. Growing up, my brother and sister were the athletes of the family and, while I played lots of sports, I would never call them my forte. This week’s challenge wasn’t really that difficult for me because it really is something that I love to do.

That being said, I also have a bad habit of starting projects and not finishing them. If I can’t figure out how to fix something that didn’t turn out as planned, it ends up on a shelf in my garage that I’ve come to call the Shelf of forgotten DIYs. It’s getting sort of full.

Challenge #11:

“Use your design skills and incredibly good taste to create/make something for Belle.” – from Bob and Joan Arlinghaus.

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Bob and Joan are practically members of the Hayden family. I often joke that our lives would fall apart without them, though I’m fairly certain it is no joke. Thanks so much for supporting me and giving me an opportunity to show off my skills.

As Joan mentioned, I have utilized my creativity to plan various parties and fundraisers for many of the nonprofits I volunteer with. I LOVE creating the theme and overall atmosphere of an event from beginning to end, focusing on every last detail. I do this because I love it and because I care about the organizations they benefit.

I also get a kick out of planning events for friends and family. I just threw a beach-themed wedding shower for my friend Stacey a few weeks ago. I couldn’t find anything that I liked at the stores so I ended up just making my own table runners and centerpieces. I got the idea from my friend Megan when we threw a Bow Tie Brunch baby shower for our friend Ashlee a few months ago! So genius! Give me a good theme and I’ll run with it!

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We spent last weekend in Minneapolis celebrating my niece Belle’s baptism and first birthday! I became a godmother and am thrilled about the honor my brother and sister-in-law have bestowed upon me. Naturally, I love making things for this adorable little angel so I am super psyched about this task. Becky did SUCH a great job putting together this adorable ballerina-themed birthday party! Everything was perfect from Belle’s little outfit to the ballet slippers holding flowers on the backs of the chairs. Brilliant!!

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With the birthday spirit in mind, I took to Pinterest to start finding my “pinspiration.” I came across this idea for a 20 questions book. You ask the child the same 20 questions every year on their birthday until they turn 18. You keep track of their answers in a book so that they can see how they have grown and changed over the years. I decided this would be a great keepsake for Belle to have.

I gathered my supplies and got to work! I’m beginning to think I should get frequent shoppers cards at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby and Scraps, Etc. for all of the things I’ve been making! I learned about a new store in Deerfield called Archivers, which I will definitely be returning to. If you like to make scrapbooks or keepsake memory things, this is your spot. They literally have EVERYTHING.

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Since I have 18 years to cover, I picked out a different sheet of girlie paper to paste photos on and a coordinating solid to print the questions on. I also got different decorative stickers and accents to include so that each year when John, Becky and Belle answer the questions, they can decorate the pages together.

I attempted to print the questions on the card stock at home, but have found that my printer is not ideal for these kinds of projects. Off to Kinkos to quickly print what I needed. Their laser jet copiers have seriously saved me more times than I can count.

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Here are the 20 questions I selected:

1. What is your favorite color?

2. What is your favorite toy?

3. What is your favorite fruit?

4. What is your favorite TV show?

5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?

6. What is your favorite outfit?

7. What is your favorite game?

8. What is your favorite snack?

9. What is your favorite animal?

10. What is your favorite song?

11. What is your favorite book?

12. Who is your best friend?

13. What is your favorite cereal?

14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?

15. What is your favorite vacation?

16. What is your favorite holiday?

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?

18. What is your favorite movie?

19. What do you like to learn about?

20. What do you want to be when you grow up? 

Obviously, Belle cannot answer her questions this year because at the moment all she can say is Mama and Da and Dada. But it’s so darn cute when she tries!! I called Becky to fill in what I didn’t already know.

Here are the answers:

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Here are some other pictures of the book:

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It’s a little stuffed right now, so for storage purposes, Becky might want to take all the extra details out until they’re needed. As Belle gets older, it could be fun for her to decorate it herself, as well. I tried to pick age appropriate paper for the teenage years.

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Making this book inspired me to finish something I started creating for Belle’s nursery as a Christmas present. It didn’t go exactly as planned so I kinda gave up. Re-inspired, I gave it another go.

This was also a pinterest-inspired project. I took a map and mod-podged it to a piece of canvas. After that, I took some vinyl letters and stuck them to the map then painted over them. I was very careful to make sure both Minneapolis and Cincinnati would be visible through the letter outlines, as those are the places her parents are from.

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Unfortunately, the canvas started to dry out, as did the paint and the edges of the map started to show. Also, it was crooked. My friend Abby tells me to measure things when I make stuff. This is why. I decided to trim it down, have it mounted and framed so that it would look better when hung in the nursery. I picked it up from the frame store and could not be happier with how it turned out!!

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It’s finally done, only 6 months later.

Next up is to complete the paper-to-wood block photo transfers I was working on. This was another attempted project around the holidays that I was going to complete and give to my family members. Unfortunately, I wasted 16 blocks of wood, a whole bottle of Mod Podge and countless sheets of printer paper. Turns out you need a laser jet printer (not an ink jet) for this to work. Insert Kinkos saves the day, yet again. After figuring this out I cleared off part of my Shelf of Forgotten DIY’s by using the glue-soaked failed attempts as firewood for the bonfire at my birthday party. Mod Podge is EXTREMELY flammable so we had a roaring blaze in my backyard. I finally figured out how to do it and successfully made 2 for Stacey’s wedding shower. Family, your photo blocks shall be to you shortly!

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Just for kicks, here are some other things I’ve made:

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Bob and Joan, thanks for tapping into my creative side! I cannot wait to see how Belle grows as she answers these questions over the years. I think it could be a wonderful tradition to start and am so curious to see what her answers are when she can respond on her own. I hope she doesn’t develop a hatred for the color pink because it is ALL over this book.

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Have any of you seen the movie Almost Famous? Last night inspired me in a way I didn’t expect it to!  Rolling Stone…here I come!

Challenge #10:

Go to a live music performance BY YOURSELF. Dance unabashedly. Feel free and confident.” from Tara Noland. 

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Tara is one of the many fabulous women I have met through my time in the Junior League of Cincinnati. She is actually one of the very first ladies I met in JLC and we became fast friends! After hearing an absolutely hilarious account of how her boyfriend’s mother bought her a tote bag with her “would be” monogram embroidered on it in case she married her son one day, I couldn’t not be friends with this girl!! Since then, she has recruited me to help out with gala planning for 4C for Children, which has been an incredible experience all in itself. And she hit the nail on the head with this challenge for me!!

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This challenge is incredible for several reasons.

1. I LOVE music. Love it.

  • I played the drums and the piano in my youth, went to music/arts camp several times and can still tickle the ivories if given the opportunity. Haven’t tried the drums in awhile, though I imagine it’d come back to me pretty quickly.
  • I am CONSTANTLY listening to music and always looking for new jams. A friend of mine has been sending me new bands and songs to check out lately and it is the highlight of my day every time I get a new one. (Thank you!!) As I mentioned a few posts ago, I am pretty sure that my iTunes library can read my mind because it always plays exactly what I want to hear.  (Lately I’ve been running through Phoenix, Tegan & Sara, Passion Pit, Swedish House Mafia, Dragonette, Capital Cities, Bastille, CHVRCHES, Matt & Kim, Metric, Pony Pony Run Run, Ra Ra Riot, Imagine Dragons, Cold War Kids, Night Terrors of 1927, Daft Punk, Atlas Genius and The National. I’m also loving Vampire Weekend’s newest album!)
  • I often envision my life being like a movie and wish it had a soundtrack that followed me everywhere I went. Since that is not possible, I kinda create my own. It inspires me, comforts me and completes me.

2. I love being out of my element.

  • I have no shame talking to strangers. I can talk to anyone about anything at any time.
  • I kind of like being by myself sometimes.
  • The whole purpose of this blog is to try new things.

3. I love to dance.

  • I’m a terrible dancer.
  • I am aware that I am a terrible dancer.
  • This makes me dance less.
  • Except for last night.

Ok so for the challenge.

I was introduced to a band called Passion Pit about two years ago. I remember I was sitting on a barstool playing photo hunt at The E when Sleepyhead came on the Juke Box. My head started bobbing and I was hooked instantly. The electropop sound was pretty unique to me at the time and now I cannot get enough of it! I hadn’t heard anything like it before. I have been listening to them daily ever since.

I would also add that the stripped down version of Sleepyhead is not to be missed…

Their music is inspiring, thoughtful and very well written. I listen to music for lyrics just as much as I listen for the beat. Take Taylor Swift. Sometimes she has some great beats and then she puts stupid teenage lyrics to it and I just. can’t. handle it.  Sorry, T-Swift. You’re off my radar until you grow up. Though you are “feeling 22” these days…whatever that means.

I digress…

Passion Pit is an indie rock band from Cambridge, MA. I believe they all studied music in Boston.  You’ve got Michael Angelakos on lead vocals and keyboard; Ian Hultquist on guitar and keyboard; Xander Singh on synthesizer; Jeff Apruzzese on bass and Nate Donmoyer covering the drums. Their story is interesting in that the band originally formed when Angelakos created a belated Valentine’s gift for his then-girlfriend, which would later become Chunk of Change. He created it entirely by himself on his laptop.  I believe he was approached by These guys are adorable, brilliant and incredibly talented!

In an interview with MTV last year, Michael Angelakos said:

“When I get on stage and I see everyone reacting to the music, there’s a moment where I completely forget (that he does not love live shows and touring) and I get excited and can’t believe people care. Hopefully people will see that and people will enjoy it. I can’t ask for anything else.”

To respond, that feeling is written all over your face and that message is definitely received.  Your energy is contagious. And your vertical is pretty impressive, btw.

My favorite songs:

Sleepyhead (linked above)

Little Secrets

Cry Like a Ghost

Moth’s Wings

It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy

I’ll Be Alright

 

Carried Away  (Absolutely love this one! Incredibly cheery beat with lyrics that sting. It’s actually about the characteristics he cannot stand in the person. Unexpectedly perfect!)

Ok. So I selected Passion Pit because I went to see them at the Madison Theater in Covington back in November and it was literally one of the best shows I have ever been to. I have been dying to see them again since. They were scheduled to be at US Bank Arena but for some reason  rescheduled and booked the Madison Theater again. I, personally, am glad they did that. It’s a much more intimate setting allowing you to really get close to the band. So I purchased my tickets and planned to attend alone.

Over the past few weeks countless people had asked if I wanted to attend the show with them and I informed them that I would be there, but unfortunately would not be able to hang out with them.  Kind of a bummer because a lot of the people that went are SUPER fun!

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I rode down with my friends Ashley and Briana. Hope that part is okay. I didn’t wanna be late and a cab would have taken forever. Also, I was incredibly nervous and needed someone to talk me down!

The Madison Theater is a smaller venue. When you walk in, all they do is take your piece of paper. You don’t even get it scanned or anything. I could have probably snuck in if I wanted, but that would be dishonest.

We parted ways after hitting up the bar for a little liquid courage. I headed down toward the stage and parked myself pretty close to the front of the second landing. Unbeknownst to me, this was right next to a door that led backstage. I had printed up little notes that explained what I was doing and my blog and yada yada and if given the opportunity, was going to give them to the band so they’d read it and I could possibly meet them. That woulda been a nice little addition to this post.

Talk about being oblivious. They walked behind me like 12 times, but I  was so into Cults, the opening act, that I TOTALLY missed each opportunity. Finally, I crumpled one up into a ball and tossed through the doorway as it was closing. I have no idea if anyone saw it. The bouncer covering the door was very kind and tried to let me know when they were coming. Thanks for the effort, Pat!!

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Cults, the opening act, used this really awesome lighting effect that doesn’t photograph very well, but looked INSANE in person!  I dig their vibe and will definitely be checking out some more of their music!

After the failed attempts to get in touch with the band pre-show, I popped up to the lobby one more time before making my way into the pit. I ran into a few more friends, said my hellos and then disappeared into my lone-concert viewing evening.

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The best part about going to a concert alone is that I’m the only person I have to worry about! I didn’t have to create a train of hand-holding to get everyone through the crowd. I didn’t have to say excuse me and guide 9 of my closest pals through with me. All I had to do was push my way to the front. And that is exactly what I did.

I made a few friends along the way, most of which were significantly younger than myself, but nonetheless super fun to be around and very excited about my blog. This gave me a great ice breaker to work with and while not all parties (namely this girl below who was a real B) were openly receptive to my situation, most of the people I spoke with were pretty great!

 And I quote: "Look. Your blog isn't MY passion. Passion Pit is my passion and you're ruining it." Ooook.

And I quote: “Look. Your blog isn’t MY passion. Passion Pit is my passion and you’re ruining it.” Ooook.

This girl was there with her younger sisters. Very sweet girl! She let me sneak up close so that I could get some shots of the band. I ran into her post show out in the parking lot waiting to meet the band, as well.

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Akayla, one of the other girls I met, was VERY excited about the show and what I was doing for my blog. They’ve sent me a bunch of pictures from the concert, too. She got the guitar pic that Ian through into the crowd at the end of the night.

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So here’s what I learned overall.

Passion Pit has a pretty young following. Look at all the X’s on those hands!!

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Dancing with reckless abandon is WAY more fun than being concerned about what I look like.

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Be nice to the bouncers. They can help you out!!

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Chris passed my note on to the sound guy and to the band. Hopefully they’re reading this post 🙂

This is the setlist:

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Lucky me! I got to hear all my faves!! Though at this point, I don’t know that I have heard a Passion Pit song that I don’t like…

Here are some more shots of the show:

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I think I chose the perfect venue and performance for this challenge. I was able to let loose, really listen to and enjoy the music and jump around with a bunch of 15 year olds for a few hours. I mean, what the hell, YOLO, right?

I went to see The Lumineers the night before at Riverbend and had an equally fabulous time. Lucky me! Two of my fave bands, back to back! I need a super long nap…

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Tara, I had the time of my life. I felt like I was in Almost Famous, minus the whole weird groupie relationship thing. I imagine that I would REALLY enjoy writing for someone like Rolling Stone. Part of the reason I’m doing this whole thing is to figure out my purpose. It’d be kinda cool if that’s what it ended up being!

Overall, the performance was amazing! The energy was up, the lighting was stellar (per usual) and the music was flawless! I was a sweaty, trainwreck of a mess, but I’m not sure I’ve danced that much at a show in my life. I did my absolute best to get their attention to let them know about my blog. I tweeted all of them shamelessly throughout the week, stood outside their bus like a little groupie (did get to talk to Michael for a hot minute) and threw my flyers on stage, handed them to any staff member I could and gave one to one of the roadies. Fingers crossed it was not all for nothing!

Thank you, Passion Pit and Cults, for such a wonderful evening and thank you, Tara, for making me do it! Next time I wanna see a band that none of my other friends have heard of, I won’t be so quick to skip it. This was my first concert I attended solo, but it definitely won’t be my last…

My concert agenda for the rest of the summer includes:

Country Concert

Lollapalooza

MidPoint Music Fest

part of Bunbury

Earth, Wind and Fire

and possibly Life is Beautiful Festival in October!

I. Am. So. Psyched!!!!

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Mic drop.

Old hobbies die hard…

I began sketching and designing clothes when I was a Junior in high school, in an effort to keep from falling asleep while listening to the ever-enthralling diatribes in Mr. Dauner’s World History class.  Turns out I managed to retain everything he was saying as long as I remembered what I was drawing at the time. My  test results and grades were solid, validating that I was retaining the information, and he approved of this practice. I bet not everyone can say that they decided to pursue a career in fashion design due to their experience in World History Class. I applied to and was accepted into DAAP, one of the most prestigious programs in the country. I needed a sewing machine and my mother graciously gave me her 1983 Viking Husqvarna.

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This machine was top of the line…in 1983. While it still functions incredibly well (things were just made better back in the day), it weighs an awful lot, boasts knobs that serve some purpose I have yet to discover and there are certain things that I wish it was capable of, but it simply isn’t. However, I’ve never had an easier time making a buttonhole…

Anywho, I asked for a new sewing machine for Christmas this past year. I wanted to be able to embroider things and do intricate stitching techniques, etc. for projects for my niece.

Ask and you shall receive. I opened up a mammoth of a box on Christmas morning. Introducing the Brother Innov-is 1250 D.

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I took the contents out of the box and, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this thing and allllll the stuff that came with it, put the cover over it and didn’t touch it again for a month.

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My aunts kept asking me if I had tried to figure it out yet and I would reluctantly reply, “No…but I will.” Finally, Aunt Tessie left me no option, but to sit down and do it.

Challenge #9:

Get the machine out, read the owner’s manual and sew.  I want you to complete both a sewing project and an embroidery project.  I know you have a wonderful sense of style so you will be able to come up with some great ideas as you read the manual. Put your talents to good use and get started.” – from Aunt Tessie.

I have been blessed with three fabulous aunts on my father’s side.  We joke about which one is my favorite, but truthfully, it’d be impossible to choose. They encourage to me to chase my dreams, try new things and never give up. They are my biggest cheerleaders and could not possibly have any more faith in me than they already do. Aunt Tessie, knowing I’m trying to find my true calling, had me circle back around to something I once loved so much.

In case you hadn’t picked up on this, I did not, in fact, continue my career in fashion design. Turns out I enjoyed designing as it was an expression of my own creativity and when the professors tried to tell me how to change it and do it like them, I rebelled and did not in fact do as they said. Much to the chagrin of my fellow students, I managed to get steady grades until I decided it just wasn’t the degree I wanted and switched to Communication.

I have however continued to sew. I have made countless items including my French Kiss Halloween costume (that won several contests and the adoration of many), Natalie’s Chiquita Banana Sleeves, a few things for my niece and taken in dozens of tops and pants from when I lost weight. I was using that old viking machine for all of those projects and have continued to do so, even though this new sewing machine was sitting in my basement, untouched. This week, I decided to give it a go.

First of all, this operation manual is 209 pages. Needless to say, I have not made it through the entire manual just yet, but I learned enough to turn it on and figure out how to embroider initials. I bought a cute little outfit for Belle that I wanted to monogram so I thought I’d test my skills on fabric swatches before I committed to the ensemble.

The hardest part was trying to change all of the accessories from a regular sewing machine to an embroidery machine. Eventually I figured it out. I ironed on stabilizer and put the fabric into the frame thingy (technical term…) and attached the frame thingy to the embroidery arm. A couple of buttons later and the thing was moving along nicely!

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Finished sewing! It dings when it’s done! Like an oven!

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I thought I did a pretty great job! Then I turned it over…

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Ok…lesson learned! Move the fabric out of the way! This is why I practiced!

Round 2…

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Now we’re talking!!  Ok, let’s give this a shot!

Second hardest thing…trying to figure out how to get the outfit onto the frame so that it wont get sewn over like the first trial attempt.

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This took 3 different attempts before I got it right. I’m sure you can imagine the level of patience I had at this point…

Ok. Fabric in frame thingy, frame thingy on embroidery arm, buttons pushed, and we’re off.

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So far so good!

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Holy cow it worked!! This is the iron-on stabilizer I applied to the back of the fabric for support. You can get sew-on or iron-on and either Wash-away or tear-away varieties.

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Alright! Let’s see how it looks…

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Welllll it’s a little off center…

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Let’s give it another go…horizontal stripes should complicate things.

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This one turned out alright!!

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Ok, so these are the embroidery projects!!

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As Aunt Tessie’s challenge was two-fold, I still had to accomplish a sewing project! Inspired to create things for Belle, I started to brainstorm something I could do that would not be toooo difficult, but challenging enough to make me proud of myself.  I decided to create a Onesie Dress. It’s pretty easy.

You start with a onesie and one other piece of fabric about 1/4 of a yard wide and a yard long. Run a single stitch through the top of it and gather it along the thread. Fold over a 1/4-1/2 inch hem at the bottom and stich that in place.

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After you have gathered the waist line to about the width of the onesie, fold it in half and stitch along the seem to create a skirt. Keep the skirt inside out and slide it around the onesie, upside down. Position it about where you want the skirt to sit and pin in place. Stitch the skirt to the onesie and flip it right side out again.

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Ta-daaaa!!!!

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I may have done it a little bit higher than I intended so I hope it looks cute on Belle (Annabelle Jane Hayden – for those that were questioning the initials).  I decided to add a ribbon for a final feminine touch!

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Here it is hanging up! I’d say I didn’t do so bad for wingin’ it!

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All in all, I am so grateful that Aunt Tessie made me do this. Lord knows how long it would have been before I finally sat down to use the thing. Now that I’m no longer intimidated by it, I can’t wait to make more stuff!

I owe you a HUGE thank you, Aunt Tess! You helped me rediscover something I once found so therapeutic and relaxing. I look forward to creating many new projects!!

Any requests??

P.S. John and Becky, tell Belle to act surprised when she opens these up next weekend…

Come at me, bro…

I’m officially trained to kill! Well…not really. But I know how to break your fingers!!

Challenge #8:

“Take a self defense class.” from Chrissy Hayden Tubbs

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Chrissy is my second cousin and she lives in Dallas, TX with her husband and 2 daughters. Considering her sister Amy was going to make me get a tattoo, I’m glad this was one of my challenges.

I have been pretty excited about this one, actually. I’ve been to several self defense seminars for course credits and work-related topics, but I’ve never been in a training facility where I actually learned how to break someone’s arm. I saw a Groupon for Close Combat Solutions Women’s Self Defense training and immediately jumped on the opportunity.

I think it’s important to refresh yourself on these key points every now and then. Statistically, 1 in 3 women will suffer an attempted or completed rape at some point in their lives. I was actually quite surprised and excited to hear that one of the girls in the class with me was required to take a self defense class as part of the Indian Hill High School gym class curriculum. Rock on, IH!

We got these cool handouts with all this important information. I’m going to share a lot of it with you as this is the point of this challenge, but not all of it because I don’t want to defeat the purpose of you attending your own self defense class. Which you should. Immediately. Jim’s great! He was informative and amusing at the same time. Very open and friendly, yet serious when he needed to be. Go there…now. www.closecombatsolutions.com

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I have pondered what I would do in the event of an attack many, many times in my life. I have gone over talking/screaming until they were so annoyed they left me alone (I can talk for a really fast, really loudly, for a really long time), kicking, poking their eyes out and running. However, they could gag me so I couldn’t make a sound, knock me out leaving me defenseless, bind my legs and, obviously, catch me. (I’m not very fast…) Needless to say I didn’t exactly have the beeest plan of action so I learned a few techniques this week.

Jim Lentz has developed this seminar to inform women how to protect themselves against potential attacks. He has quite the resume providing a pretty hefty list of credentials. And is legitimately trained to kill. I trust everything that he said and will probably vote in a similar way come 2016…

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Jim is a Private Investigation and Security Professional, teaches Karate/Kenpo Jujitsu, spent 6 years in the US Marine Corps, has certifications and teaches Conceal/Carry classes, is an NRA certified intructor, Personal Safety and Awareness lecturer and devoted father. I would also guess that he is a card-carrying republican, uber-conservative, given some of the comments he made (that I totally approve of).  He has 20 years combined experience in personal training, martial arts, self defense and security fields. Now that we’ve covered why this guy is capable of teaching this course, let’s get into what I learned, with the help of Jim’s daughter, Hannah, showing us the ropes. Talk about not wanting to bring a boy home to meet your father…yikes.

The biggest point Jim wanted to drive home is that the most successful way to defend yourself against dangerous situations is to avoid being in them. Now, obviously, things happen that are sometimes out of our control, but by being aware of your surroundings and maintaining a clear mind, some of these can be avoided. We talked about walking alone in Clifton at night. This is sorta crazy because if I counted the number of times I walked home alone from parties in college, or back and forth to studio at night, it is an absolute miracle I survived college without some sort of attack. It’s funny because when I drive through Clifton and certain areas of town at night now, I get a little uncomfortable. These are the exact same streets I used to feel 100% confident on. I don’t know if it’s naivety, or stupidity, but it feels totally different now.

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First things first, there is a difference between a good victim and a bad victim. Walking with your head down looking at your phone, digging through your purse, completely unaware of what’s going on around you is like putting a giant target on your back. Walking with your head up, preferably not alone,  surveying the scene, making eye contact or assertive movements when you are uncomfortable are good ways to let a potential attacker know that you are aware of their presence and you’re not an easy target. You can flat out say “Hey, I see you. Don’t come any closer,” to a person to loudly let them know they’ve been made.

There are several non-violent self defense techniques that seemed pretty common sense to me, but some people might not know so I’ll share them.

– Avoid routine. Don’t visit the same ATM at the same time on the same day. Predators pick up on pattern behavior.

– Look at the people around you and keep an eye out for unusual behavior.

– Don’t go out alone at night.

– Don’t accept a ride from people you do not know or trust. (This is why I develop relationships with my cab drivers. I use the same ones over and over. I trust them. If they’re going to be taking me home if I’ve been drinking, I’d prefer it be someone I can trust. Shout outs to Ousman and Yacoub…thanks guys!)

-Trust your instincts. They’re not usually wrong. Better safe than sorry.

Simple things like changing your routine and avoiding frequenting the same places at the same times can help avoid potential attacks. I have a close friend that is pretty consistent in her daily routine and if someone wanted to find her, it’s pretty easy to pick up on where she’d be at whatever time they wanted to find her. It freaks me out. You know who you are. Stop doing that.

That’s basically it, informationally. Don’t be stupid. Be aware. Don’t put yourself in dangerous situations.

Onto the physical stuff. Should you find yourself in a situation where you have the need to inflict physical pain, do so ruthlessly, without hesitation, directly down the center of the body. No. Joke. Eyes. Throat. Groin.  These are areas that can inflict the most amount of pain, with the least amount of effort, causing a neural override where the attacker literally HAS to deal with the pain in order to continue functioning. Fill your hands with whatever you can. If you’re forced to the ground, grab sand, rocks, whatever, and throw it in their eyes. If you have a phone or keys in your hand when you swing at somebody, it’ll hurt a whole lot more than your fist. Also, I’m glad I carry crossbody purses now because they become projectile weapons when you swing them around your head. (Especially with the amount of crap I carry in mine…)

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I’ve compiled some of the videos that I shot during class to show you a little bit about how to handle yourself in the event of an attack.

It’s true.  Being aware and being prepared can only help in these situations.

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We also learned that I would not make a good assailant…

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I asked when making sure you’re always aware of your surroundings becomes paranoia. He stated that it never does, which I sort of disagree with. I’m not fully engaged in life if I’m constantly looking over my shoulder to avoid an impending attack. I don’t want to walk around scared all the time. I’m still sort of struggling with that idea. I was actually sitting here editing this post when the sound of someone pounding on my front window scared the bejesus out of me. It seemed to go away, but I sat there, alert, with a hammer in reach for the next 20 minutes… I’m hoping I’m not permanently on edge after this. Gus was very alert, as well…

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I’d like to thank Jim and Hannah (and Chelsea) for taking some time to teach us these very valuable techniques.  All in all, I’m confident that I am in a much better position to defend myself now than I was before attending this class. I cannot, however, say that I wouldn’t toss over my belongings, curl up in the fetal position and cry like a little girl should some hooligans ever try to attack me, God forbid. But if that’s my plan and I wanna roll with it, then at least I’m prepared 🙂

 

I’ve got a secret…

Adhrucia, you have some sort of ability to always know the exact “kick in the pants” I need to get motivated about things. This is one of the many reasons I adore you.

Challenge #7:

Buy The Secret on audio book and listen to it until you are done.  Listen in your car, while you get ready, etc., but really LISTEN =)  I think it will lead you far.    

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Then put the principals to act with all your being for AT LEAST one month – consistently. During this month please contact Shari Goldsmith and set up a meeting.  Shari is a friend and I think that you two will be soul sisters.   Shari has some insight into careers that involve compassion, understanding, positive energy, and helping people.  She is putting together a challenge for you to help aid you in your path to discovery. 

I think that one of your biggest strengths is that you are a compassionate listener who is able to come up with insight and solutions for those you care about.   I would like you to put this into action because I think that following this strength and your compassion for working with and helping people will lead you to what you are meant to do in this world.” from my dear friend Adhrucia Apana.

Adhrucia and I got to know each other while we were Rho Gammas in college at UC. She was a Kappa and I was a Tri Delt. I remember one night we were at one of our Rho Gamma bonding sessions and we had this realization that we’re really not all that different and it was stupid that we hadn’t hung out before. From that moment on, we were instant friends. Over the years we have continued to build our friendship and whenever I need solid advice, a boost of confidence, a shoulder to cry on or someone to listen to me vent about whatever not-that-big-of-a-deal thing is bothering me at the moment, she is always there. (Usually with fabulous wine and a delicious assortment of cheeses.) Even if it’s 5 AM.

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First of all, I am very touched that you feel this way about me, A. Sometimes I am reluctant to take your advice, but I usually come around in the end. I’ll be writing about my thoughts on the book today and in a month or so, circle back around to how things have evolved with Shari and the results of putting these principles in action.

Throughout this adventure, and knowing what challenges are coming down the pipeline, it is evident that many of the people that are close to me seem to know me better than I know myself. (You all also seem to think that I need to read self-help books…but whatever haha). I don’t know if it’s because I’m an open book and lay it all out on the table or if it’s because you all see something within me that I don’t immediately see within myself. Regardless, I am gracious for the faith and confidence you all have in me and I hope I make you proud.

So for the book…I was instructed to LISTEN to the audio version, which was great because my reading comprehension skills leave a lot to be desired. I downloaded it and began listening while I was running errands.  I had my windows down cruising all over town, taking in all that The Secret had to offer. It’s a little uncomfortable when you come to a stoplight and have weird music playing in the background with an Australian woman’s voice spouting out things like “like attracts like” and “There is a truth deep down inside of you that has been waiting for you to discover it, and that truth is this: you deserve all good things life has to offer.” Insert awkward glance from neighboring drivers. I realized I was not really paying attention to the book so I needed to change my listening venue.  I returned home, hooked Gus up to his rope in my front yard, popped my headphones in and listened to the entire remainder of the book while laying on my porch swing on, like, the most beautiful day I’ve seen in awhile. (BTW, my porch swing is my absolute favorite part of my house.) Perfection.

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The idea of The Secret revolves around The Law of Attraction. For those that are unfamiliar, it basically says thoughts become things and that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results. I’m pickin’ up what you’re puttin’ down, but I do have a couple of issues with this statement. For starters, it says this works every time, all the time.

Gravity works every time, all the time. You drop something, it falls. It can be proven. It is a law. This is not a law. This is a belief. I will refer to this as the “Belief of Attraction” from this point forward.

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People pray for things, wish for things, imagine or envision things that they want to happen. Hobby Lobby has made lots of money by selling various items necessary to make vision boards. Obviously, enough people believe in this phenomenon to make it work considering. I started thinking about the idea that if I want something to happen, I can will it to happen. It makes sense. This kind of ties in The Four Agreements that I read earlier in the year for my first challenge. It’s about changing your perspective on the situation. However, you cannot magically will things into existence.

One of the examples they use in the book is about losing weight. They say that if you want to lose weight, and continue to think about yourself and losing weight in a negative way, you will in turn, not lose weight. However, if you imagine your perfect size and continue to think positively about your perfect self, the pounds will just drift away, no matter what you do.

Um. No.

If you continue to eat the way you eat or incorporate little to no physical activity in your life, no matter how positively and consistently you think “110 pounds, 11o pounds…” you will not magically become 11o pounds. It’s science. I cannot will myself to be thin. You have to work for it and put in the effort to make serious changes in your life. I get the idea of thinking positively and how that helps inspire change, but it does not make fat disintegrate. Bottom line. I can see how if you envision your perfect self (which I think is also contradictory because they say you’re supposed to content and love your current self at the same time) it will change your attitude and motivate you to work toward achieving that goal.

There are truths to this book and then there are things that I find to be absolutely absurd. The book talks a LOT about money. In fact, love, money and perfect weight seem to be the only things this book thinks we need in life. Not sure that’s inspirational or appropriate, but I guess the people want what the people want.

There is this lady that loathes receiving bills in the mail. She says that she receives so many bills in the mail because all she thinks about every time she opens her mailbox is bills. She says that, in an effort to turn her perspective on the situation, she imagines that these bills are actually checks and adds zeros to the ends of each of them to trick herself into thinking she’s getting lots of money in the mail…..what.

Hey crazy lady, if you use things like electricity, water, credit cards, etc. you are going to have to pay for it. That’s the way the world works.

I guess the biggest lesson I have taken out of this “belief of attraction” is that remaining positive is the key. No matter what goal I’m trying to accomplish, it will not happen if I don’t believe in myself and in my ability to meet said goal. Yet there are still things that make me feel like there is some truth to this putting your thoughts out into the universe and waiting for the universe to answer thing.

A few examples:

Summer of 2011 when I was trying to get a job, I applied for hundreds of positions over like an 8 month period. One day, after a scoring an interview I was particularly psyched about I posted to Facebook the following post:

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I started my new job at Powers Agency October 6th – not even 3 weeks after I positively decided that I would be working within the next 2 months. I put it out into the universe and it happened.

Another example: My iTunes library can read my mind and this is why I almost always leave it on “shuffle.” Some people meditate in their homes, in churches, in pleasant spaces, etc. I, however, go for drives. Whenever I have a lot on my mind, I get in my car, roll my windows down (regardless of the temperature), turn up my music, get on the highway and drive. I don’t need a destination because everything’s a circle around here, anyway. Now I’m assuming a few of my family members are cringing right now that this is my “me time,” but it works for me and I’ve been doing it for well over a decade.  My iPod always plays EXACTLY what I need or want to hear on these drives.  I have never understood it and probably never will, but the course of my thoughts, and whatever I’m trying to work out in my mind, is perfectly in sync with the jams pumping out of my car stereo. I would also attribute the many, many miles on my car to this activity.  I took another drive after having read The Secret, just to see how different my thoughts were and it was actually a much more positive experience than it usually is. Instead of being pissed about something, I accepted that I had a feeling about it and thought about how I could change it and my attitude did a complete 180 – as did my music.

Another thing is how lucky I am. I think I have magic purses. This usually relates to cab fare, but whenever I need money, I reach into my purse and magically pull out almost exactly what I need. Sometimes I literally only have the exact amount I need in my purse. This happens ALL. THE. TIME. I also win things all the time and spread luck to others. I’ve been this way since I was little. This book says that people are lucky because they expect to be lucky. If I’m positively thinking that I am lucky and expecting to win things, according to this “belief of attraction,” then it makes sense that this happens.

I have plenty of other examples of how this could actually be something to pay attention to. The book suggests testing the theory with little things first. However, yesterday I was putting it out into the universe for Adhrucia to call me to talk about this and she did not do so. Fail.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

The last comment I have about this book is that I love the reflection of gratitude. One of the gentlemen carries around “gratitude rocks” in his pocket. He wakes up every day and starts by expressing what he is grateful for before he even gets out of bed. He does this before he falls asleep at night. Every time he touches the gratitude rock, he again repeats these things that he is grateful for.  If you are constantly thinking of all the wonderful things, people and events in your life, how could you not be happy?

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And so, I started my own gratitude list.

-I am grateful first and foremost for my family. This is not the first, nor the last time that I will address this. They have made me the woman that I am and raised me to be a happy, healthy, productive member of society.

– I am grateful for Gus – he has taught me so much.

– I am grateful for my health – though it could really be better.

– I am grateful for my laugh/sense of humor. It is contagious. It is one thing that no one can ever take away from me and it gets me through a lot of nervous/boring/difficult/sad situations.

– I am grateful for my friends. Some of you come and go, but you’re always there when I need you.

– I am grateful for my car because I’m pretty sure without the aforementioned drives, I’d be nuts.

– I am grateful for the blessings in my life that others are not so fortunate to have. I don’t always show it, but I am.

– I am grateful for the sun rising and setting each day because it’s almost always beautiful.

– I am grateful for my intelligence. I would really hate being stupid.

– I am grateful for the support and interest this little project of mine has generated. I have received comments from truly unexpected sources and it makes my day each and every time.

I have a meeting set up with Shari for next week and am truly looking forward to what she has in store for me. Adhrucia, I trust you and think you might be onto something. I mean, maybe the fact that we both miraculously ended up in Vegas at the same time has something to do with this…

Til next time!