Getting the Ball Rolling

It is a rainy, crappy day in Chicago. There is a Bears game tonight but I am working. It’s Monday. I’m sore from my weekend workouts (abs are off-limits for a day or two). I have a mild headache which always happens when it rains. These are all reasons that normally I’d decide to just waste the day and wait on the couch until I had to drag myself to work. And yet! Here I am, posting on my blog. I am so pleased with myself for getting work done in spite of my usual desire to hibernate in the gloomy weather.

I dragged myself out of bed after browing Pinterest for a while. I straightened up the apartment for our housekeeper and made myself breakfast. I read some Facebook updates and turned on Pandora. When our housekeeper arrived I grabbed my laptop and headed downstairs to the Business Center in my building. Free WIFI and a comfy armchair awaited. With my trusty headphones and my iPhone at my side, I got to work. I responded to a few emails before I dove in.

I finished installing a plugin which will allow me to monitor visits to my website and where they are coming from. I installed a social media plugin that helped me to create the new widgets to the right of this post. Now readers can not only subscribe by email but find me on Pinterest, Twitter, and a brand spankin’ new Facebook page that I created to be separate from my personal page. Delightful! Let the networking begin. This is all new to me, of course. I’ve never had a website before this, let alone one that contained my original content and I built from scratch. Learning how to install plugins and work with widgets was gibberish to me just yesterday and now I’ve taught myself something new. Each little bit of work I do leads to some new discovery and even though it’s made me tear out my hair in frustration (last week’s challenge was embedding that damn YouTube video properly), I eventually do figure it out and then have a laugh at how easy it is.

So here’s to being a grownup and doing Hard Stuff on rainy days when you’d rather stay in the super comfy bed with your stuffed hippo. Don’t even try to tell me you haven’t been there before.

Feeding Friendships, Finding Joy

I have a new project.

Actually, since I’m writing this post now as opposed to about a month ago, it’s not as new as it was in September. This is technically Week Four of my newest resolution. It’s a new resolution because who says that resolutions are limited to January?? There’s enough going on in that month already!

So here’s my new project: I am getting together with one friend per week.

That doesn’t sound so dramatic at all, does it? I’m sure some would read that and scoff and say, “One friend a week? I see tons of my friends every day at school and work and when I drop my kids off at their activities! I have dinner dates all the time!”

That’s true of me as well but you know what? It’s not enough.

You can’t grow friendships by saying “Hi” in passing or call that 10 minutes of chit chat while you wait for your kids quality time. You can’t stand around at work and bitch about whatever the daily grumble is and call that relationship building. Too many times I think “friend” is a word that is spread so thin that we have to add addendums to the front of it to give it more meaning. “Close friend.” “Best friend.” “Family friend.” “Work friend.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not standing on a soapbox trying to say that any of that is a bad choice or wrong or misguided. I have friends that are closer than others, work friends, acquaintances, and everything in between. Sometimes friendships change and evolve and dissolve. That’s all ok. All I’m saying is that I need to step up my own game when it comes to keeping up with the people that matter and I’m doing it purposefully by spending time with one person a week. Just one person. Only one so that I don’t do what I normally do and make a giant list of people to call and then get summarily overwhelmed and pressured that the whole list implodes in uselessness because I’m too caught up in irrationality to get through it. So I’m taking most of the pressure off of myself and doing my best.

If you remember, I mentioned this is already Week Four. How is this whole thing working, you might ask? I’m excited to report that it is working very well indeed and that I’m finding it enriching and enlivening. It’s so nice to hear what is going on with my friends in real time, face to face, and not rely merely on Facebook status updates to give me all the nitty gritty. And I think that the friends I’ve spent time with have enjoyed the chance to chat and catch up together, too. None of them knew that this project was happening but I don’t think that matters. It’s not as though I have to think for days about who I’d like to spend time with, which was one of my fears about making this an Official Thing. All of this has evolved organically with no more effort than checking schedules, showing up, and then letting conversation flow where it will.

I’ve had coffee with two friends and had another friend and her children over at my place to play. As a total random bonus I also skyped with two other friends who live overseas who I’d never skyped with before. I then realized that my definition of “quality time” has to include Skype in the future. This week I’m spending time on my day off with my Mom, the first friend I ever had. It’s funny because I thought for a moment that I had worked so much this week that the whole week had gone by without me making time for someone and then it struck me that, silly girl, of course your Mom is your friend. She’s more my friend now than she ever was at any point before in my life. Jim and I are going to dinner with my Mom and Dad later that night but per my own rules, I have to give some of my own time apart from other social commitments to one person a week and this just happened to work perfectly.

Am I expecting every week to work out easily? No. So far, so good but life happens and I won’t be going to extremes in case something doesn’t happen to work in any upcoming week. I won’t push myself to go out when I’m sick. I can only do my best and my best is good enough (I spy a new mantra in that sentence). I will certainly keep updating about Project Feeding Friendships, Finding Joy here on my blog and I hope it will be fun to follow. Friends, I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you keep up with your relationships. Do you have to set goals or is it easy to find the time? Do tell.

Go Blue, My Style

What a great weekend! Apart from the rain, that is. Torrential rain and a tornado watch that of course Jim and I found ourselves driving across three states in. Wouldn’t be a Weekend Adventure for us without excitement, right? Jim rented a Lincoln MKX that I immediately fell in love with and wanted to keep forever. (Surprise, surprise). I was so glad to have the seat warmer and even happier that Jim hadn’t signed me up as a co-driver because that seat warmer knocked me out! I was very drowsy in the car anytime it was on. Just for fun we both tried the air conditioned seat feature and that just made it feel as though you sat in a puddle or peed your pants. Kind of creepy but I’m sure it’s very refreshing in the summer months.

Jim wrote a recap of the weekend as it related to sports on his blog here. It was an amazing weekend by all counts for Michigan, the Lions, and the Tigers. I don’t remember his teams having nearly the same amount of undefeated luck ever before! Speaking of luck, we managed to get the best seats in the house! I’ve never been to a college football game in a club level seat. Usually I’m smushed on a bench somewhere trying not to freeze or whack the person next to me with my exuberance when Denard Robinson scores… or throws an interception. The exuberance goes both ways, folks! Anyway, our setup reminded me of the club level seats at professional sports stadiums with the clean and warm bathrooms and delicious food. Seriously, the women’s restroom on our level even had an AirWick plugged in. An AirWick. At a football game. Say what?? That really cracked me up and it could have only been improved if it was a maize and blue one although then I might have stolen it. The food wasn’t free on our level and the actual seats were outside but we were under an overhang that eliminated almost all the rain that was misting down on everyone else for the entire game. I actually enjoyed the outdoor seats despite the chilly, damp conditions because would it even feel like a real football game without some chill in the air anyway? Probably not.

On another topic completely I have to say that I am excited that sports teams in general, from collegiate to professional, are finally embracing women’s fashion in their sports apparel. It’s nice that you don’t have the same old giant shapeless t-shirts and men’s hats to choose from. Even Victoria’s Secret got on the bandwagon and their PINK line makes college sports apparel from hoodies to underwear. A smart business move for sure because it’s got to be a cash cow. I like going to games and supporting my teams and still feeling attractive. The picture above is not the best representation of my outfit since I was wearing a giant waterproof coat to weather the elements. If it had been only cold and not so wet in addition I would have stayed in my original outfit, seen below:

What can I say? Give me pom poms and a camera and look what happens! My hair was tied back since it got wet in the rain but apart from that I was pleased at my efforts to capture the Michigan colors and spirit without wearing Sponge Bob boxers over blue plaid pants. Yes, the Walmart Wolverines were out in full force as well for the Homecoming game.

A few notes on my outfit: I’m wearing super comfortable black leather boots from Børn. Those babies took me all over Europe last fall and their mission of comfort and style in my wardrobe continues. The maize colored jeans I actually found at Old Navy and major kudos to them for stepping up their entire denim program. The scarf I found online and bought on a lark, never realizing that it was just the right colors for Michigan events. Not seen are my long sleeved t-shirt and sweater or my Michigan jersey which are all under my blazer. Or my long underwear, for that matter. Bet you didn’t know you could wear long underwear and still rock those awesome dance moves! Stay tuned for more long underwear secrets as the temperature starts dropping- they are a Chicago necessity! Finally, the blazer is Lauren by Ralph Lauren and I also wore that all last fall in Paris but that had more to do with my Miss Sixty trench coat getting stolen off the plane right as we arrived.

What did you do this weekend and, more excitingly, what did you wear?

I Go Wild

My hair is naturally wavy. Sometimes it is downright unruly. In any case, I’m convinced it has a mind of its own and its own personality. There are so many ways to “deal” with hair that isn’t stick straight and glossy and I straighten my hair regularly enough to be familiar with most of the non-permanent ones. (Permanently straight? No thanks!) I’m lucky enough that my curls aren’t so strong as to resist straightening with much force and I usually have a lot of texture to play with.

Instagrammed

The best method that I’ve found for dealing with my waves, however? Letting my hair do what it wants. Letting it be wild and free. Leaving it alone. It leads to happy hair that is not considered professional or “done.” There’s a reason, after all, that my hair is straight in my professional headshots and every news anchor you can think of has straightened hair. Hair with any sort of curl is unpredictable and I can’t always guarantee that I’ll like the waves in my hair once it is dry. Curly hair is potentially messy, unruly, prone to have flyaways and frizz. It doesn’t always photograph well and look the same from different angles. My version of letting my hair go wild is not exactly low maintenance but it is worth it.

My current curly hair styling routine is a little labor-intensive but I swear each step has a purpose:

  • Get into shower and wet hair thoroughly.
  • Coat ends in heavy conditioner. I consider my ends to be any hair from the nape of my neck down.
  • Shampoo roots only with vigorous scalp massage, using a mild shampoo. Curls are happiest when hydrated and stripping the scalp and hair will only cause frizz.
  • Rinse well, allowing shampoo to run over ends for a very mild cleansing.
  • Add more heavy conditioner to the ends and a light conditioner throughout. Finger comb to remove snarls and knots and distribute conditioner evenly, taking care to avoid getting conditioner directly on the scalp or roots where it will weigh down your hair once it is dry.
  • Clip up hair and finish shower, letting conditioner soak in while you wash your face and shave your legs.
  • Rinse hair thoroughly with tepid to cool water, making sure you lift your hair at the roots and get all the conditioner out.
  • Blot dry with microfiber towel. Don’t rub! Rubbing creates massive frizz! From this point on you want to handle your hair as little as possible.
  • Fill palms with mousse and squeeze into hair starting with ends. Scrunch gently to enhance curl but remember not to run fingers through your curls or separate them.
  • Repeat with dollop of curl creme.
  • Blowdry high heat, low speed with diffuser. I prefer an ionic dryer for speed and shine. I take a handful of hair and plop it into my diffuser and then let the blowdryer dry that spot until it’s only damp to the touch. I like to start in the back where my hair is straighter and work to the front, making sure I concentrate on the front to persuade the curls to lie in the right place. Dry hair completely as hair left damp will have a chance to frizz.
  • Place curls where you want them and mist with a light hairspray to set. If you are looking for a more “done” look and have the time you can always use a curling iron to enhance specific curls to frame your face.

And that’s it! Those of you with naturally straight hair are probably reading all those steps in horror but trust me, this is what it takes to get the best results. Anytime I skip a step or blowdry my hair fast because I’m in a rush or impatient it is a noticeable difference! The frizz will take over and I end up regretting my haste. “Haste makes waste,” my Grandma used to say. She was right.

Behold, content!

Very exciting times in the life of this redhead. I got engaged in July and things have been a whirlwind ever since of travel and wedding planning. I need to recommit to my original plans for this blog and create content. I thought the hard work would be setting up the website hosting and installing everything to make it a working site but I was wrong! The hard part is creating the time needed to translate the inner workings of my head to actual blog content on a page. I do indeed have the time to make this happen- I am of the belief that anything you want to get done, will get done. I was talking with my earliest childhood best friend over Skype yesterday and she was excited to learn that I have a blog… just no content to read. It was a reminder to myself that these things take work and are worth it.

In the interest of writing about what I know in my life as it happens and starting somewhere, I will list a few exciting things that are happening in my life right now that I am happy about.

  • I have a new computer! This was one of the things standing in the way of regular content-creation, aka blogging. I had a slow brick of a Dell that got me through college and holds all of my writings for my history degree. It simply couldn’t keep up with my current needs, however, and I really wanted to switch to a MacBook. I am now the proud owner of a MacBook Pro and fully updated Adobe CS6 programs.
  • My childhood best friend, who I mentioned earlier, is photographing my wedding! I couldn’t be more thrilled that we get to reconnect on such a special day in my life since she lives overseas in Ireland and I haven’t seen her in forever. She’s brilliant and her work can be found here.
  • The construction on our building is almost done! No more waking to jackhammers or walking past unfinished projects. The complete overhaul of our apartment building’s courtyard (that my window looks out over) is pulling into the finish line.
  • My new headshots are at the printer, waiting to be picked up. This is an errand I am going to tackle as soon as I complete this post today. I took new shots in June but it took until now to get them chosen, edited, and printed. I am now ready, after some resumé revision, to create mailings for representation.
  • I received the contract for our venue yesterday in the mail. I still have to read it thoroughly but as soon as we sign it and send our check, everything becomes that much more REAL. As in, holy crap it’s really happening! More details on that to come, there’s more to say there than fits in a bullet point. ;)

I think I will leave it at this for now. There’s even more Joyful Stuff happening but one thing at a time, Christiana! I still have to get a little workout in before I leave to finish my errands and get to work for the night. Until tomorrow!