Make your own Countdown Clocks

Thursday, September 30, 2010

DAY 8: Latin groove dance class

No comment! ha
Today I got to shake my booty!   I finally made it to  the Latin groove dance class at my gym.  They offer a plethora of free classes but I haven't branched out and tried a new one until today.    My staples are cardio kickboxing, basic training and spinning.  I have peeked in the window of this class several times before and everyone always looked like they were having a blast.  I wasn't really scared to try it, but sometimes you just get in a comfort zone and it is hard to break out of that routine.

I even bought a new workout top for the class!  When I got there and looked around I realized I was by far the youngest person by at least 30 years.  I thought great...this class is going to be a waste of time and not a good workout.  I was mistaken!  Those old ladies can move it and the guy teaching was FAB.U. LOUS.  It is described as  a high-energy dance class that incorporates unique moves and combinations, set to fun Latin and international music.   I was a little rusty but eventually I got the juices flowing.  I attempted to secretly film a little of it...but the video was out of focus.  And after reviewing the footage and comparing my backside to likes of Kim Kardashian's,  I don't think I would show you anyway!

I started taking dance classes as soon as I could walk until I was about 17, so I feel somewhat comfortable on dance floor.  I am not ready to win the Dancing with the Stars coveted mirror ball tomorrow, but I can pick up choreography quickly and I really enjoy it!  Today wasn't my first experience with Latin dancing.   Not many people know, but my grandmother was Mexican and wanted me to take traditional Mexican folkloric dancing classes when I was about 7 years old.  She had one of the full brightly colored skirts made for me...I will never forget the first class I went to.  I was SO out of place as the ONLY blond haired girl... all the other kids were so mean to me!  They couldn't understand why I was there, but I shyly learned the Mexican hat dance and even did it for a talent competition in a pageant!  Even to this day if I hear that song I can still remember some of the dance steps.  I was secretly hoping we did a little  Mexican hat dance today!

Traditional Mexican hat dance costumes

DAY 9: Second City comedy show

Chicago is well known for having some pretty great comedy schools and shows, and I have been wanting to check one out for a long time.  I chose The Second City, Chicago's best known comedy club where many famous comedians and stars of Saturday Night Live got their start.  Some of my favorite notable Second City alumni are:

Mike Myers (SNLWayne's WorldAustin Powers: International Man of MysteryShrek)
Chris Farley (SNLTommy BoyBlack Sheep)
Jane Lynch (GleeBest in ShowA Mighty Wind)
Steve Carell (The Daily ShowThe OfficeThe 40-Year-Old VirginLittle Miss Sunshine)
Stephen Colbert (The Daily ShowThe Colbert ReportStrangers with CandyExit 57)
Tina Fey (SNLMean GirlsBaby Mama30 Rock)
Amy Poehler (SNLBaby MamaParks and Recreation,Upright Citizen's Brigade)

I saw a show called Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies and I think it was one of the funniest shows I have ever seen. From the first minute you can see the actors are truly talented and really love what they are doing.  This show was a series of sketches and some improv and it dealt with many current issues.  It even touched on some sensitive subjects like religion and race, but they always hovered on that line and never really crossed it.  Well maybe they did a little...but everyone laughed and didn't seem too offended.  

Here is the synopsis of the show: In the blockbuster of human life, we all know the outcome – no spoiler alert needed. In spite of this inevitable ending, we continue to live our lives, find joy and understand the world around us. Sometimes our path leads us to save the world and sometimes our path is to simply remind our husband where they left their keys – it's what you make of it and how you deal with it that matters. From cold feet on your wedding day to the comfort of viewing the comic misadventures of others on Reality TV, Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies reminds us that in the end, we are all in this together.

I came into the theatre right as the show was beginning and was seated in the second row.  I hate sitting close to the stage for fear of being heckled or pulled up there to make an ass out of myself, but thankfully this show wasn't like that.  When I lived in LA I took a few acting classes and many times we worked on our improv skills.  I think it is one of the most important skills you can learn not only in acting, but in your day to day socializing.  Isn't life all about improvising?  That being said, I was pretty awful at it!  I would get so nervous in class each time it was my turn for my scene I would almost pass out.  I discovered acting really wasn't my thing and certainly not improv.  However I did make a guest appearance on The Soup!  The Soup is a show on E! that basically makes fun of people on reality shows plus much much more.  I was on a silly reality show in 2005 called The Starlet...and my amazing acting skills were made fun of by Joel McHale himself! I don't blame was pretty bad.  Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself but at least I tried!  

But funny really does run in my family!  My cousin Carissa is involved with improv groups in Dallas-Ft. Worth called Monkey Junk and Four Day Weekend.  She is naturally hilarious and belongs on The Second City stage!  I look forward to going back and seeing another show when she comes to visit me in Chicago.  They have many to choose from!  And who knows, maybe I will even try an improv class again one of these days. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

DAY 10: Celebrity book signing

Tonight I tested my patience and went to a celebrity book signing at Borders on Michigan Avenue.  I have always wanted to go to one but  never wanted to deal with the crazy lines. This event was for a book called I Do, Now What: Secrets, Stories, and Advice from a Madly-in-Love Couple  by Giuliana and Bill Rancic.  In case you don't know who they are:  Giuliana Rancic (DePandi) is a celebrity news anchor on E! News and co-hosts many red carpets events like the Oscars and Golden Globes.  Bill Rancic is an entrepreneur who was the first winner of Donald Trump's show The Apprentice and oversaw the development of Chicago's Trump Tower.  They married in 2007 and now have a show about their relationship on the Style Network called Giuliana and Bill.

With Bill and Giuliana Rancic
I joined the Twitter bandwagon about a month ago and Giuliana is one of the celebrities I decided to follow.  I am not an uber fan but I find her amusing and I have followed her career throughout the years.  She has one of my dream jobs and I admire her because she worked hard to get where she is.  She has a Masters in Journalism...she didn't fall into her hosting job because she was on some reality show.  I occasionally watch their show Giuliana and Bill and I have always thought they were a cute, happy and real couple.  I was excited when I read that they were going to be in Chicago signing the day the book was released!  I figured the lines wouldn't be too crazy because they aren't Beyonce status, so I headed over to Borders at 6:30 and the event started at 7pm.  

Boy was I wrong!  They started handing out wristbands at 9am!  Luckily I was still able to buy a book and get a wrist band, but I was in the next to last group and there was about 400 people there.  They did a quick Q&A and then really took their time with each person which I thought was great, except I was near the back of the line.  I finally met them and had  my book signed around 9:45.  Since I was solo and didn't have anyone to talk to,  I started reading the book while I was waiting and so far is good!  They are a pretty entertaining couple and sometimes remind me of myself and Daniel.  He is the put together even-keeled business guy and she is the quirky, messy free thinker.  I figured a book on relationship advice wouldn't hurt after all the predictions the psychic gave me last week!  

A funny story they tell in the beginning of the book is when Giuliana lied to Bill about her age on one of their first dates.  She told him she was 29 when she was really 31.  Eventually he finds out that she was lying, and she said her age just sounded better starting with a 2!  I have 9 more days with my age beginning with a 2!  O.M.G.

I did have a chance to ask them a couple relationship questions...but I will keep those a secret.  ;)  Giuliana complimented me on my I really love her.  I am not sure I will be attending any more book signings in the near future but it certainly was nice to meet them!  

Monday, September 27, 2010

DAY 11: Clean out closet and donate


My closet and dressing room, what a mess.

Today was the wonderful day where I switched out my summer clothes for my winter clothes, organized them and decided what I don't need anymore.  I honestly have no idea how these clothes fit in my tiny apartments in NYC.  I have 4 times the closet/drawer space here but it is never enough.  I really don't mind doing laundry but I dread having to put my clothes away!  They have to be squeezed into the drawers and closets so I knew it was time to get rid of some things.  

I started with the drawers (that were overflowing and couldn't be shut) in the bedroom which contain tank tops, night clothes, t-shirts and workout clothes.  I have mentioned this before, but I really have a hard time getting rid of anything.  Does that make me a hoarder?   I had 65 tank tops and got rid of 6 of them.  It is better than nothing!  I think I have a hard time getting rid of things because I can almost always remember exactly where I bought it and where I've worn it.  Memories!   For example, I came across a shirt that said Texas with a cowboy hat on it. I remember I bought this shirt at Macy's in NYC shortly after I moved to New York in 2003.  I was so excited to find a cute Texas shirt in NYC and I probably spent everything in my bank account to get it.  I hadn't worn this shirt since 2004, but somehow it has moved with me several times and made the "donation cut" over and over again.  Sadly,  today I decided I had to say goodbye to this shirt, and many other t-shirts that had ridiculous word phrases on them.  Did I really wear those?  One shirt that I will never part with is my New Kids on the Block Joey McIntyre shirt.  That is forever.   :)

My Joey 

After I managed to organize my drawers and get them to shut, I made my way to what I call my dressing room.  It is really an office but I have completely taken it over with my crap.  I got my huge bin of fall clothes, winter sweaters and scarves and dumped it on the ground, then started taking all my summer stuff and packing it away.  Frowny face.  I'm always sad when I have to do this for two reasons.  1)  I see cute things that I forgot to wear or didn't have anywhere to wear them...I  will have to remember for next summer!  2)  I wish I had a closet big enough where I could keep all my clothes out year round!  I worked on that closet for hours and hours and many times I would just sit in a huge pile of clothes and frustration.   Now I am about 85% done with this project.  I was able to let go of many dresses that I haven't worn in years and shorts and skirts that I just won't fit into again, no matter how hard I workout! LOL.  I wish I had a picture to show you of my closet neat and organized but it isn't quite there yet.  I have to make a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond in the morning for another storage bin, pick up the remaining stuff off the floor and then drop off all the clothes I was able to part with at the Salvation Army.  It definitely feels good to get rid of a bunch of things and I know donating to the Salvation Army is a positive thing.  I was dreading this task so I am glad it is completed! (almost completed) 

 Now let's go shopping!!!  

DAY 12: Get health insurance

Do you what PPO, HMO, or HSA mean?  I surely didn't, so thank God Daniel my boyfriend was here to help me through this process. I thought it would take 20 minutes to do, but it took us a few hours to look through every plan and finally decide what would be best for me.  Actually, he looked through everything and tried to explain it all to me...I understood every other thing he said.  Why is it so confusing?

We decided on BlueCross BlueShield and I couldn't even tell you what plan I got.  But then came the fun part  of filling out my medical history for the application.  I don't smoke and I am not (that) old, but I had to write in if I had been hospitalized in the last 10 years.  I've been very lucky and haven't been severely sick...but I did have one memorable trip to the ER.  The questionnaire asked if I've had any head injuries or concussions. Why yes...yes I have.  During the last weekend in September of 2007, I tripped on a suitcase and hit my head on a marble table in my hotel room at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.  I was there with a big group for one of my girlfriend's weddings.  Everyone that has heard this story always asks me if I was intoxicated when I tripped, but I wasn't!  This was early in the night, right after the wedding and only one glass of champagne.  It was a mixture of a messy room, my heels and  my clumsiness that caused this fall!  I hit my head VERY hard and suspected I had a concussion, but I didn't want to miss out on my last night in Vegas with my friends!  So I went out with them, drank and then went to sleep.  Two major no-nos when you have a concussion!  SO STUPID!  I woke up the next day and had a hard time moving my neck, so I pushed my flight back, headed to the ER and spent 9 hours in the waiting room.  Like I suspected, I had a pretty bad concussion but I recovered in a few days.  Would have been helpful to have health insurance then!

Although this was probably one of my least favorite tasks on my countdown, it was very important to get this done.  I hurt my foot and my wrist last week during workouts, I am falling apart at my old age!  My application is being processed right now and if everything goes smoothly,  I will be insured by October 15th!  Then my hypochondria can kick in again and I can see all kinds of doctors, oh joy!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

DAY 13: Race for the Cure

ZTA girls working the survivor tent
The only problem with Race for the Cure is that I am an emotional wreck the entire time.  I swear I teared up about 50 times today.  At the survivor tent, the survivor parade and opening ceremonies, the start line and the finish line...and even in between while I was running.  I had the honor of volunteering with my ZTA Alum chapter at the survivor tent before and after I ran the 5K myself.  We had to be there at 6am but it was worth it!  We handed out bright pink survivor hats and backpacks filled with goodies for the ladies. (and a few men survivors!)  They were so appreciative of our efforts, but considering what they have been through and how many people's lives this disease affects, I really wish I could do more!

I can't even begin to tell you how awesome it was to see these people face to face.  They were all so happy and proud!  Each time I talked to a survivor and she told me how many years she has been cancer free, I teared up and we all cheered.  Each time I read a shirt or a sign that was in memory of someone, I teared up.  Today was about celebrating life, love and hope. I really saw how cancer affects people of all ages, shapes and colors.  Several women I saw in the survivor tent looked younger than me.   I hurt my foot last week on my training walk, so I wasn't sure if I was going to actually run today.  After I spoke with one women who was A WEEK out of surgery or many who were still going through their treatment...I decided to get my butt out there and run!  It really puts things in perspective when you see the hope in the survivor's smiles.  They have been through a tough battle and came out a stronger people because of it.

I ran today for my Grandma Lewis who lost her battle in 1991.  I ran today for my step-grandmother and other family members who have  battled this disease.  I ran today for my friend Natalie who can now call herself a survivor!  And I ran for the survivors  I met today, for the ones I haven't met and for the ones who will have to battle breast cancer in the future.

The start line!  
When I registered for Race for the Cure Chicago, they had an option to buy a pink ribbon in memory of a loved one who lost their battle.  I of course bought one to commemorate my grandmother and I really feel like she was there with me today.  I imagined what it would be like if she were one of the survivors enjoying the day in the tent, and what it would be like to still have her in my life.  The cutest lady came straight up to me and proudly said she was diagnosed in November of 1988 and has been cancer free since.  That was around the same time my grandmother was diagnosed.  I feel like it was a little message sent to me from my grandmother...that she will always be in my life. :)

In memory of Gloria Alanis Lewis, my grandmother

Friday, September 24, 2010

DAY 14: One day juice detox

After my food tour of Texas last weekend, my delicious LARGE Mexican meal I had Wednesday night and my pasta carbo load last night, I decided it was time for my juice detox.  I have not been looking forward to this. AT.  ALL.  I have tried the master cleanse once (the one with cayenne pepper, lemon juice and maple syrup)  but I don't think I even made it a day on that one.  I chose to do a detox to feel healthier and flush out some toxins.  I know I am not going to lose any weight in one day but I think this is a good start to eating healthier.  

My colorful food for the day
I researched one day detoxes online and got completely overwhelmed.  I read that you are supposed to follow a certain diet a week before to get ready for the detox.  OOPS!  They also call for fresh veggie or fruit juice and I do not own a I got frustrated and decided to head to the juice bar at my gym to see what they suggested.  I told them what I wanted to do and they made me three deliciously gross juice concoctions for my meals.   Here was my menu for the day:

1oz. shot of wheat grass  (not my first choice for a shot!)

16oz. V6-- Tomato juice, lemon, carrot, celery, spinach and parsley

16oz. Berry blast-- Raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, banana and water

16oz. Carrot juice

Sounds wonderful right?  I drank tons of water along with that healthy menu.  I struggled through the day but I made it!  (so far)  We went to the movies tonight and that was torture, but I am surprised by my willpower.  I had to smell popcorn and hotdogs but I stayed strong!  I "cheated" and had an orange juice but I made sure it was 100%  juice first.  I can't really say if I feel cleansed or detoxed yet but I do know that I am ravenously hungry.  My boyfriend says I am grunchy (grouchy and grumpy) but I don't think so!  I have never looked forward to egg whites and oatmeal so much.  HURRY UP BREAKFAST!   Can't wait to eat and then run in Race for the Cure in the morning! :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

DAY 15: Donate to a women's shelter

When I woke up today I fully intended to clean out my closet and switch out my summer clothes for my fall clothes.  I desperately need to get rid of some clothes I don't wear to fit everything in the closets!  I did a massive donation when I moved from NYC to Chicago, but I still have a lot to donate.  I think I am a borderline hoarder...I have such a hard time letting things go.  I swear I still have things from high school that are two sizes too small.  

I took one look at my closet and my drawers and decided to procrastinate by looking up some donation centers online.  Usually I give to the Salvation Army but this time I wanted to give to a women's shelter of some sort.  I came across an organization called Sarah's Circle which is a refuge for women who are homeless.  The more I read about what they do the more I was sure I wanted to help!  They not only provide indispensable services to women in need...they help women empower themselves and rebuild their lives.  I called and asked about their clothing donation guidelines and found out that they didn't really need clothing, but badly needed travel sized toiletries,  blankets, sheets and pillows among other things.

A mural on a wall at Sara's Circle
So the task for today was quite simple.  I gladly put off my clothing donation and headed to the drug store and Bed Bath and Beyond.  I actually had fun shopping for all kinds of toiletries, sheets and blankets!  I realized how easy it is to take little things like soap and your pillow for granted.  I gathered what I could on the list and headed uptown to the shelter.  On the way into Sarah's Circle  I saw at least three women coming and going, and a lot of women in there using computers.  It was a good feeling to see some of the women that I will be directly helping with my donation!   

Cleaning out my closet and donating the clothes is still on my short to-do list...maybe next week?!  And next time I travel I will be sure to stock up on toiletries from the hotels I stay in. You should do the same and donate to your local homeless shelter!  

DAY 16: Sorority Alumnae Chapter Sisterhood Dinner

I began college in the fall of 1999 at Southwest Texas State University (now known as Texas State University) in San Marcos…all alone.  I chose that path because I wanted to start a new chapter in my life fresh and meet new people.   I didn’t want to have a crutch that would keep me from branching out, plus most of my high school class went to Baylor or Texas Tech.  Baylor was way too close to home and Tech was too far…SWT was just right. I remember the day my parents dropped me off in my dorm room.  I sat in my newly decorated dorm room and cried my 18 year-old eyes out.  Then I walked outside and introduced myself to the first girl I saw, who luckily had a car.  (mine broke down the day I went to college, lucky me!)  I had already decided that I was going to go through sorority rush, but now I had a friend to do it with me! 
My pledge class in 1999
 Rush was such a nerve-wracking process and unlike anything I had ever experienced, but I ended up pledging my first choice, Zeta Tau Alpha.  I absolutely HATE it when people say that girls who pledge a sorority are “buying their friends”.  You aren’t automatically BFFs with every girl in your sorority. You naturally become closer with the girls you have most in common with, while still being a part of a bigger family.  It was a good feeling to have that support since I was away from home and my high school friends, and being a part of ZTA greatly enriched my college experience. Being a part of this sorority encouraged me to make better grades, to be more involved in charitable organizations and to become more involved in the community.  Our philanthropy was the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation so this is how I first started getting so involved with it!  Best of all... I still call many of the girls I met in Zeta my best friends! 

Zeta 2010!!  (w babies and a few other friends)
Basically I had to start all over making friends again when I moved to New York after college and after 5 years there I made some pretty great ones!  I moved to Chicago this spring, and AGAIN find myself searching for girlfriends.  I think my experience of going to college on my own then moving to NYC has given me confidence when it comes to just putting yourself out there and meeting new people, but it gets a little harder the older you get. At this age…people are settled into their lives and already have their circle of friends.  It has been one of my goals to try and find some friends here so I don't drive my boyfriend crazy always hanging out with him!  Luckily I knew one girl here in Chicago that was in my sorority collegiate chapter and she encouraged me to join the City of Chicago ZTA Alumnae Chapter.  

I joined in August and so far I must say it has been so much fun!  I realized that the "family" I found in college actually extends all over the country! I tend to be shy around new people but I decided I would put myself out there and go to as many events as I could.  I have found that these women are very similar to my friends back in Texas and New York…all very motivated, successful and smart.  They are from all over the country and very inspiring to be around!   In the group are grad students, lawyers, architects, marathon runners and one girl just got back from studying Arabic in the Middle East!   The list goes on but most importantly they were very genuine and welcoming to me.

My new ZTA friends!
Tonight we had a fun “sisterhood” dinner at a little Mexican food place called Papcito's Mexican Grille in the Lakeview neighborhood and the food was delish!  (not to be confused with Pappasito's Cantina in Texas) I would consider myself an expert when it comes to Mexican food.  At least when it comes to is my favorite food and I have eaten a ridiculous amount of it over the years!  I think this place is my favorite Mexican food in Chicago…although it was BYOB. (I was looking forward to a margarita)    

In addition to volunteering at the survivor tent at Race for the Cure this weekend, we also have  a "Think Pink" event at a Chicago Bears game in a few weeks and a book club meeting!  I have been told that I keep in touch with everyone I have ever met in my life.  Maybe so...but even at 30 I will always have room for more friends!  

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

DAY 17: Dermatologist visit

Soaking in the sun as a teenager!

I can't tell you how many times I heard that growing up in Texas.  I was a sun worshiper, and I spent every single summer baking in the hot Texas sun.  (most of the time without sunscreen and probably slathered in baby oil)  Like most kids, I loved being in a pool and took swimming lessons every summer.  As I became a teenager,  I still loved hanging out at the pool, but my tan was most important, not learning the breast stroke.  I remember my mom telling me, "Andria you are going to get wrinkles and be sorry you spent so much time in the sun!" My response?  "Mom when I am old and 30 I will just deal with it then!"  HAHAHA,  eating my words now.  

I continued to tan and use tanning beds all throughout college (sometimes everyday!), but when I moved to NYC I was less concerned with my tan because the outdoor sunning season is much shorter, there aren't many pools in the city and tanning beds are ridiculously expensive.  Plus, to fit into New York you should be pale and wear black.  (never was my style though) Eventually I stopped completely, only doing a spray tan every so often. For the past few years I have been the polar opposite of the teenage tanning queen I once was. Now I am completely obsessed with sunscreen and I wear baseball hats or huge floppy hats in the sun.  I don't like any sun to touch my face!  

I wish I could say that was from a fear of getting skin cancer, and that is definitely a concern of mine. But I am mostly concerned with premature aging now.  I have been told that you do most of the damage to your skin as a teenager and in your early twenties...but I don't see how continuing to beat your skin up in the sun is beneficial, even though everyone thinks they look better with a tan. Including me!

I read an article this May in Glamour magazine that explained what warning signs to look for on your skin and what your moles should and shouldn't look like.  You can read the online version here.  I couldn't even remember if I had ever been to a dermatologist so it has been a nagging thought at the back of my head.  I have a patch of moles on my back that I have needed to get checked out, so I finally made the appointment and went today.  Like most things, I kept putting it off for fear of what they may tell me.  

Looking sexy!
I stripped down into my little gown and prepared myself for the uncomfortable exam that awaited me.  I don't care what kind of small talk they try to make...there are two situations that are uncomfortable no matter what.  A bikini wax and a full body search for moles.  The appointment was going quickly and smoothly,  but when the doctor measured and took a closer look at the moles on my back he decided one would need to be biopsied.  The doctor left the room while the nurse prepared my back for the scrape, and I tried not to freak out.  I asked her a million questions and learned this mole they were taking a sample of was very large and had dark spots in it. Because of the location of the mole, I have been unable to monitor it and see if it has been changing through the years.   All of those symptoms she described I recognized from the Glamour article I read, however the nurse told me not to automatically assume the worst and that most likely it is an atypical mole.  

I will get the results back in a week or so and I am trying not to worry and obsess!  Until then I have a painful spot on my back to take care of.  If there is a problem...I am thankful I finally went to see the dermatologist so I can deal with it, instead of ignoring it.  Another task checked off of my list!  Please wear sunscreen and please get a check-up from your dermatologist!!!

DAY 18: Psychic reading

This was an interesting choice for the day after church, but I have always wanted to see a psychic!  Could they give me some insight what the heck I am supposed to be doing??  I am quite frankly scared of them for many reasons.  Can they read my mind? Are they going to tell me I am going to die soon?  I went to two different ladies to compare what they said, and let me tell you….

I think it is all a load of crap!!!

 I am sure all of you could have told me that before I wasted my money.  Coincidentally both of their credit card machines were down so they only accepted cash. HA! 

The first lady, named Natalie told me to sit down and get comfortable in this little room.  I noticed that this is her place of business and her home because I saw her kids in the living room watching TV across the house.  Ok, interesting.  She put two crystals in my hands, told me to make two wishes and then say my full name and full birth date out loud.  Here is what she told me in the eight minutes following that…while staring intensely at the crystals aka "reading my energy". 

The good Libra traits
*I am creative, very loving and giving.  (Good guess but lots of people share those traits.)
*There will be problems in my relationship in the next few months but nothing big and she thinks we are soul mates.  (Problems, oh no…but then yay soul mates!)
*I have been hurt in the past by other relationships. (DUH! Who hasn’t been hurt?)
*I will have 3 kids. (I better get started if that is the case!)
*I will have a long life. She didn’t see any illnesses surrounding my loved ones or me in the near future. (Whew!)
*She said she feels like I have been struggling with something in my life the past few months (Stressing over birthday?!)

She asked me if I had any more questions for her…but I didn’t like HER energy so I was already thinking about getting out of there and going to see someone else.  She also told me not to share what she told me with anyone.  OOPS!  I walked out of there and called another place nearby.  She could take me right away!  Guess there is not a huge demand for psychics?

The next psychic I saw did a tarot card reading, aura and chakra reading.  I am still not even sure what the heck all of that means.  Here is what she had to say:

The not so good Libra traits
*She saw a certain color energy around my stomach, asked if I was trying to get pregnant and if not, then I should be careful the next 6 months. (Thanks for the heads up!)
*I am with the person I will be with forever and our energies flow nicely together. (Happy face!)
*I need to relax and not be so hard on myself. (I guess this is true, but once again this could apply to many people.)
* I asked her about my career situation and she said I need to start working ASAP because I am a person who likes things to do.  (Agreed, and finding a job is on my to-do list!)
*She said she didn’t think this last year was lucky for me, but the next year would be very lucky. (Ok, I feel pretty fortunate now so can’t wait to see what happens!)
*She said I have been struggling to find  my place recently and I am not where I thought I would be at this point in my life.  (Is it that obvious?)

For the tarot card reading, she had me shuffle the cards and think of some things I wanted in my life, then put the the cards in three piles when I felt ready.  Basically she flipped the cards over one at a time and told me that I needed more balance in my life, that I was indecisive, I needed to learn how to focus on one thing at a time and I could do that by taking her meditation classes.  Nice try lady!  She basically just described typical Libra traits.

It was an interesting experience to say the least...but of course I took everything they said with a grain of salt.  I don't think I will be doing this on a regular basis or taking her meditation classes, but ya never know!

Monday, September 20, 2010

DAY 19: Go to church

 I honestly can’t remember the last time I have been to church.  I was somewhat involved in a Baptist youth group throughout high school, but since then I have only been to church on holidays scattered throughout the years.  I think I have avoided going to church in the past because I just wasn’t sure which one to go to or where I would fit in.  Growing up I went to Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran and Presbyterian Churches so as an adult I just didn’t know what direction to go in.  I was also very turned off by the judgmental nature of some of the churches I had been to in the past.  I could never understand how people that claim to be good Christians could be so critical.  I consider myself to be a spiritual person, but going to church just hasn’t been a priority for me. 

With my dad and Nani after church on Sunday
I was in Texas this weekend visiting family and I was so happy to get to go to church with my grandmother and my dad, step-mom and little brothers Chase and Tanner in San Antonio.   My gandmother, “Nani” goes to a non-denominational church called Community Bible Church and I was pleasantly surprised by my experience there.  I loved it!  I guess the idea you get about church being stuffy and boring sticks in your head from when you are forced to go as a child.  This church was full of life and music!  The first half hour consisted of contemporary music with a band and a choir on stage.  The last half hour or so was the message from the pastor, and he used his own real life and very personal experiences to help you really relate to the message he was talking about.  The sermon I heard was based around “crisis pregnancies”, meaning an unplanned pregnancy or a pregnancy that has many medical complications.  At first I didn’t relate to what he was talking about because I do not have children yet.  But the more I thought about it and listened I realized this issue has touched my life very deeply.

My mommy and me :)
The pastor went on to talk about single mothers and how admirable they are.  I am a result of a crisis pregnancy (I was a surprise!) and some of the people I love most in my life have also been a result of one, or experienced one.  The message was:  If you find yourself with an unplanned pregnancy…pray about it, get support and have the baby.  I am not making any personal statements for pro-life or pro-choice here, but I will say how happy I am that my mother chose to have me, that my little sister Erika chose to have my nephew and that my best friend Rachael chose to have her daughter Jordyn.  My nephew Landon and Jordyn have been such joys in everyones life...and a life without them is unimaginable!  This can be a sensitive subject for some…but I couldn’t be more proud to say my mom was an amazing single mother for many years, and my sister and friend Rachael are doing a wonderful job as well.  I know being a mother is hard work even if you have your partner in the picture, but I have a special appreciation for the single parents out there.

Erika and my nephew Landon
Rachael and Jordyn

I realize that every experience I went through as a child has made me the person I am today, I am thankful for the people who have loved me and I am thankful that things worked out the way they did.  I am happy both of my parents got re-married and as a result of that I have my brothers and sisters!  I am thankful I am able to see my mom and step-dad and dad and step-mom all in the same weekend.  And I am happy I had a chance to go to church and give thanks for all of those things and that I am lucky enough to celebrate my 30 years of life very soon.  I hope to find a church similar to my Nani’s church here in Chicago… I will definitely be going back with her next time I am in San Antonio!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

DAY 20: Family time

I cherish every second I get to spend with my family and take every opportunity to see them.  Although I have loved living in the big cities…my heart is always in Texas and it is hard to be away from them. I also miss the delicious Texas food, so every time we visit, we eat our way through Texas.    This weekend we made our way down to San Antonio and Austin and got to see all of our family and eat non-stop.  Couldn’t ask for more!
Landon my nephew, he looks worried!
Saturday morning Daniel and I spent the day watching his little sister in a tennis tournament in Austin (after eating our weight in Rudy’s BBQ) …then we made our way to GattiLand in Round Rock for my little sister Kamryn’s 9th birthday where we met up with my mom, step-dad, brother Derek, Aunt Lynda and my other sister Erika and nephew Landon. We stuffed ourselves on the pizza and pasta buffet as fast as possible then headed to the game floor!  I don’t get to see my 21-month-old nephew Landon very much so I was excited to spend some time with him too.  While we were all playing games, I held him and walked him around for a while.  After 10 minutes I was looking for his mommy, my sister Erika.  How do you Moms DO THIS?   Kids are exhausting!  And my mom had my sisters and me 10 years apart…she is truly a wonder woman.  We had fun playing skee ball, mini basketball, air hockey, punch the duck and that weird game where you roll the ball to get the horse to go faster.  I left that place so sweaty from playing all the games (burning pizza calories), just like a kid.  I’m pretty sure I lost every game, but I was happy to celebrate with Kamryn.  She is so special to me…I was in college when my mom got pregnant with her.  I remember I was driving when she told me the big news and I almost wrecked my car!  Kamryn was actually due on my 21st birthday.  She ended up coming 3 weeks early but that definitely would have been a non-traditional way to spend my 21st birthday! 
Having a blast!  Daniel concentrating...

The balloon we bought her!

Skee Ball!
Kamryn and I Christmas 2004, one of my favorite pics of us

Making a wish on my 11th Bday!

After the party we went back to my house and I looked through pictures from my childhood.  I can’t tell you how happy I am that my mom took so many pictures of me growing up, even though I was probably annoyed by it then. (who am I kidding, I loved every second of it)  I could have looked through those pictures for hours…I can actually recall some the moments like they were yesterday.  I guess I am feeling so sappy and nostalgic because I might have a big birthday around the corner?    It just amazes me how fast time goes by.  I can distinctly remember sitting in front of those birthday cakes, but I wonder what I wished and if it came true?!  If I had to put money on it, I bet my wish was to meet New Kids on The Block.  Guess what…that wish did come true a couple years ago!  I finally got to meet every single one of the New Kids on The Block at Madison Square Garden in NYC in 2008.  Hmmmm what will I be wishing for when I blow out my 30 candles?
A kiss from Donnie! NKOTB!!

With Joey McIntyre, he was my favorite 

Getting a little off track there…but what better way to spend one of my “countdown to 30 days” with my family celebrating Kamryn's 9th birthday and reminiscing about my own birthdays.  I also got some good advice from my mom about aging.  I said “Mom, I don’t want to get wrinkles and I swear I see more every morning, help!”  She says, “That is what happens, and the alternative to not getting wrinkles is being dead.”  Good point mom…

Friday, September 17, 2010

DAY 21: 10 mile sunrise training walk

 With the fundraising for my Susan G. Komen 3-Day 60-mile walk in full swing,  I decided it was time to kick off my training walks.  Lake Michigan has a beautiful lakefront path that stretches 17 miles, so it was a perfect place to do this!  I chose to do it so early because I have never seen the sunrise over Lake Michigan, or at all in Chicago.  I am not a morning person!  I surprisingly popped out of bed at 6:30am and quickly made my way to Starbucks.  I could see the sun peaking over the horizon through the buildings and it was breathtaking!  It was a little over a mile from the Starbucks to the lakefront path so I started jogging with my pumpkin spice latte in hand, spilling everywhere.  I barely missed the sun breaking through the clouds but it was still a glorious sight to see!  I think it is good for the soul to see a beautiful sunrise every once in awhile.  (seeing the sunrise after you have been out all night doesn’t count)  So goal one for the day was accomplished. Sorta.  Now lets get onto the training walk.
Sunrise at Navy Pier

Honestly I have been slightly cocky when the subject of training has come up for this walk.  I trained for 12 weeks this spring for a half-marathon and currently I rotate between 3 to 4 mile jogs, cardio kickboxing, basic training and spinning weekly.  Why in the world would I need to train for a WALK?  The first 4 miles on the path were easy breezy…I was jamming along to Phoenix, New Kids on the Block, Coldplay and the Penguin CafĂ© Orchestra and enjoying the beautiful September weather.  Miles 4-8 my legs started to get tired but I was still pushing on at a good pace. Then HOLY GET ME A WALKER…miles 8-10 my legs were wobbly, my back hurt and I kept getting a sharp pain behind my right knee.  Wow getting old ‘aint easy!  At that point I started obsessively checking my GPS to see how much closer I was getting!  The second it hit 10 miles I sat on some steps and stretched, and stretched….and stretched.  Usually this does the trick and my alleviates the tension, but I was still in pain!  I slowly hobbled the 1.5 miles home (after stopping for some frozen yogurt with blueberries) and collapsed. 

Finish line in sight!

I have many long walks ahead of me!
I used a fitness GPS application on my iPhone to track the 10 miles along the lake, but I was also wearing a pedometer from start to finish, which included my walk to and from the lake.  It told me I took approximately 30,388 steps and walked 13.4 miles!  I probably won’t be able to walk without my legs hurting for a few days…but I am proud of my first training effort!  I definitely see many more training walks in my near future…I want to make sure I can finish the walk. I now understand that 20 miles a day for 3 days will not be easy.

A couple months ago I volunteered with my sorority alumni chapter to cheer on the Komen 3-day walkers coming though Chicago on their last day of walking.  It really got me pumped up for my walk!  Some walkers were tired, sore and limping much like I was today, but they were all so inspirational and the positive energy in the air and was contagious.  I want to share some pictures I took of the walkers that day.  Some of them are dressed pretty funky and cute, and of course covered in pink!  I can’t wait to see what my team comes up with to wear!  I would like to say THANK YOU to those who have donated so far and helped me get to 34% of my fundraising goal…if you would like to see my donation page please click here!  Every little bit helps us get closer to a world without breast cancer. 

Real men wear pink, and bras.
Us cheering them on!

Festive from head to toe!

They had fairy wings on!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

DAY 22: Helping the homeless

 Today I decided I was tired of doing things for myself.  ME ME ME!!!  This is MY blog and MY journey…but I want part of this journey to be about giving to people less fortunate than me.  Last night at my cooking class I thought about how lucky I was to be cooking delicious, healthy chicken for fun and how fortunate I am to be able to do something like this blog for 30 days period.  Learning about new things and taking classes, going to social events and gatherings, football games, going to medical appointments and being able to care for my dog…the list goes on!  Not everybody in this country is able to do some of those things we consider basic parts of life.  I am blessed to have such supportive family  and friends and beyond lucky to be in the situation I find myself in now.  Thank you to my wonderful boyfriend Daniel for that!

It breaks my heart to see anyone in need and in downtown Chicago you can barely walk down the street without seeing a homeless person.  There are quite a few hustlers out there…sometimes when Daniel and I are on the way to dinner and all dressed up, a guy will follow us for blocks singing in our faces until we give him money.  Last weekend we had a guy come up to us frantically asking for money because he ran out of gas and his wife and kids were in the car.  Daniel pulled 3 dollars out of his pocket and gave the guy 2 of them…then homeboy he had the audacity to ask for the 3rd dollar!  Problem was Daniel recognized this guy because he had tried the same bit on him weeks before.  In my opinion if someone is going through all of that trouble asking for money, they definitely need it more than you do. However, no one likes to be lied to.
When I first got the idea for my blog and put it in motion, I signed up for several volunteer waiting lists.  The make a wish foundation, habitat for humanity, anti-cruelty animal shelter, Chicago volunteer match website and several soup kitchens.  I had no idea how difficult it was to volunteer.  Just to get your name on a waiting list you have to answer a bazillion questions!  I was able to schedule a volunteer orientation with PAWS Chicago but that isn’t until October 6th.  Obviously I don’t want to just volunteer for the day…I have committed to volunteering there for 6 months.  Along with helping animals I want to help people, and I was tired of waiting so I took a different approach. 
I decided today that I would get a handful of $5 gift cards and bottled waters and walk around the city and give them to homeless people I encountered.  This was a little out of my own comfort zone because I usually get very nervous around them and can’t even look them in the face.  I am not sure why that is.  I think society as a whole treats them as less than humans and that really bothers me.  I'm ashamed to say that I have been guilty of this same behavior…but most people walk by a homeless individual and act like they are completely invisible.  I have even heard people say mean and hateful things to them.  Obviously something went horribly wrong in their lives, a little compassion wouldn’t kill you!
I bought three McDonald's gift cards and two Dunkin’ Donuts cards and began my quest. It took me over 20 minutes to find the first guy!  Funny how the day I was looking for them they would all be hiding, but I went up and down every street searching.  I was curious how they would react to my gift cards instead of money.  Turns out they were excited about the cards...McDonald's being the favorite!  I was nervous each time I spotted a new person, but I walked straight up to them with a smile on my face, made eye contact and asked them if they were hungry or wanted water.   They were taken aback at first, but completely appreciative!  I asked them all how they were doing and they were all so sweet.  One guy was sitting on the sidewalk tying his shoelace and at first glance I wasn’t sure if he was homeless.  How awful and embarrassing if I offered him food and water and he was just dressed like a homeless guy but not really one!?  After I gave away my 5 cards and all my water…I went to Walgreens and got two more $5 Subway cards and a few more drinks and snacks.  Giving is addicting!  The next homeless person I encountered was a lady with such a colorful personality.  She saw my snacks and requested some chips…I gave her cheez-its and chips ahoy and she yelled, “Lawd Jesus is watching over me today!” 
It was very rewarding giving to these people and briefly visiting with them.  Their smiles definitely brightened my day!  You can see in their eyes that they appreciated my gifts and the fact that I didn’t treat them like they were invisible.  I caught people looking my way with confused and alarmed looks on their faces.  I guess some people are scared of homeless individuals because of incidents they hear about...but I don't see the danger in giving someone food and water in broad daylight on a crowded street.   It cost me less than $50 dollars to help out 7 people.  Maybe next time you are out you will pick up an extra gift card and surprise someone in need!