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Hindsight is 20/20.

Until nine or ten years ago–right around the time I started blogging, in fact–I had 20/20 vision. Right around the time I turned 40 I started noticing just the slightest change in my vision when I was reading. Jim and I made appointments to see the eye doctor–who is also an old family friend, which is why we always go together–and I was presented with the idea that the lowest level of readers would be prudent.

“But make sure you stay with 1.00,” he said. “The longer we can keep you out of glasses, the better.”

Each year after that, Jim and I would go in for our eye exams and I just knew that I’d be leaving with a prescription. Excellent vision gone, glasses needed. Maybe bifocals. Nope.

It’s entirely possible that magical vision skills run in my family. My sister still has perfect vision, and both of my sons have had perfect vision so far (knock on wood). In fact, my older son used to claim that he didn’t need sunglasses because his eyes had a special sun-resistant coating on them already. Yes he was totally serious and no I don’t think he was just being stubborn about wearing sunglasses. Okay, maybe.

Adventures at the eye doctor

Lately I’ve started to notice a difference in my vision while driving: not enough to be a menace, mind you, but things just aren’t as crisp as they should be. I made a solo appointment for an eye exam since Jim wasn’t in town this week, and went in today.

Sidenote: it’s super great to have an eye doctor who’s an old family friend. His older two kids went to school from kindergarten through twelfth grade with our two boys. He and Jim used to be leaders in our Cub Scout Pack together, and I used to share elementary school room mom duties with his wife. Going in for an eye exam is a lot like visiting Doc Baker from “Little House on the Prairie”; there’s always a cozy catch-up session first. I love it.

When I walked in today I greeted him and said, “Oops, I can’t believe it’s been two years since I was here last.”
He replied, “Um, three.”

“SERIOUSLY?” I thought. “Where does the time go??? I’m definitely going to leave with bifocals.”

We played catch-up for about thirty minutes (don’t worry; he didn’t have another patient after me) and then proceeded with the eye exam. It turns out that my eyes are still basically fine. While I have the slightest need for a prescription in my right eye, he doesn’t recommend my filling it yet. “Stick with those readers for your close-up work,” he said. “Let’s try to wait until your distance vision declines enough to truly need assistance before we get you into glasses.”

I left his office empty-handed again, and I’m fine with that. The magic continues.

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Cubs Day

One more about the Cubs and then I’ll shut up about them…until next Spring. Let me tell you about Cubs Day. MY Cubs Day.

After the Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, most of the city of Chicago was on a crazy baseball high. (Some of us still are.) The team even had a special day (Friday, November 4) designated as World Series Champions Chicago Cubs Day by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. That was the day of the parade and rally, the one whose estimated crowds of 5 million people made it the seventh largest gathering in human history.

I had to work on Friday, November 4 and so I missed all of that. It nearly killed me to be home that day (slight exaggeration). I immediately started planning a trip downtown so I could take pictures of all the festive Cubs decorations (including the Art Institute lions, who have worn all of the other Chicago team hats but never the Cubs) before they were taken down and stored for next year when we win again. Hush, eternal optimism is a personality trait in every true Cubs fan.

My partner-in-crime that day was my favorite city partner-in-crime, Margaret (though I call her “Pizza” in honor of our traditional lunches). Margaret runs Chicago Elevated, a walking tour company, and it is always a treat to stroll around the city with her. She was exceedingly patient as I took tons of pictures, and she was also fun and hilarious as usual. By the way, of course we made a lunch stop for deep dish pizza, this time at “our” Gino’s East in Lakeview.

Let me back up. We started at the Art Institute.

Cubs Day Art Institute Lion

Margaret and I waited for a beautiful flag unfurling in the background there. After about twenty shots I still didn’t get it. Not mad about it.

From there we walked to Millennium Park and grabbed some pictures at the Bean (“Cloud Gate” is actually the name of the sculpture, created by Anish Kapoor). We also saw the Chicago Christmas tree being installed, complete with a “W” flag on top.

From there we walked towards City Hall, and on the way I noticed one of the World Series buses.

Cubs Day bus

I had just seen a news report that morning saying, “If you see one of the El trains or buses that was wrapped for the World Series, get a picture because they’ll be gone soon!” And that day, this one drove right by us.

City Hall was gorgeously Cub-sy.

Cubs Day City Hall

I wanted to grab that “W” sign in the middle for my wall at home. Obviously I did not because I’m a decent, honest person. (ooh but I wanted it.)

After City Hall we grabbed my car and headed north. On the way to lunch I remembered that Heritage Bicycles had installed a gorgeous Cubs mural on the exterior wall. We had to drive right by there anyway and I asked Margaret to wait in the car so I could leave it running while I ran across the street, snapped a picture, and nodded at the folks who were out on the patio drinking coffee before returning to my car.

Cubs Day Heritage Mural

***CUBS DAY PIZZA BREAK! (Yum.)***

After lunch we headed to Wrigleyville for the piece de resistance.

Cubs Day Wrigley Field sign

*sniff*

It was a pretty emotional sight. After admiring that gorgeous sign for a few minutes, we headed around the corner to check out the back walls of Wrigley Field, where fans had been writing tributes in chalk. Some notes were for the team and some were tributes to diehard Cub fan family members who passed away before getting to see a World Series win. I can’t express how glad I was to make the trip and see it in person. The colors were absolutely amazing and beautiful, and I loved watching people write fresh messages right before my very eyes. The chalk was being washed off by the maintenance crew starting at 5:00 that afternoon so it was especially busy as folks tried to squeeze in last-minute notes.

Cubs Day Wrigley Field wall

Cubs Day Wrigley Field wall

No, we did NOT.

Cubs Day Wrigley Field wall

Cubs Day Wrigley Field wall

I tried to capture how overwhelmingly cool this was, and how large a scope it had. This doesn’t even do it justice.

It was a full, fun Cubs Day, boosting my pride for my team and my city to overflowing. I’ll never forget it. (Thanks for sharing it with me, Pizza!)

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Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Yay! Gratitude!

Yay! Gratitude!

Mine today: Yay! Gorgeous Fall Weather!

Your turn. Leave a comment with “Yay! Something you’re thankful for right now!”

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On What’s Important in Life

mosaic

Warning: Ramble ahead.

There has been a lot of loss in the world in 2016. That in itself is a massive understatement so let me try again.

2016 has been a monumental year for loss. In fact, 9 out of 10 of my friends will tell you that they’re thrilled it’s almost over, and if given a choice, would end the year immediately because of the fresh start 2017 promises.

Let me start with some of the celebrity losses that cut us deeply in 2016, not that any one life is better than another but the deaths of some icons hit many of us in the gut, collectively.

Prince.
David Bowie.
Muhammad Ali.
Gene Wilder.
Elie Wiesel.
Arnold Palmer.
Alan Rickman.
(Just to name a few.)

Individual, personal losses among those I know have also been rampant this year. A friend of mine has lost not one, but two siblings this year. Another friend lost her father just today. There are more.

Of course, I had my own great loss of 2016 when we had to say goodbye to Roxie back in February. To add insult to injury, 2016 has been a TERRIBLE year for my pet owner friends. Without thinking about it for more than fifteen seconds I came up with eight friends who have said goodbye to a dog or a cat this year, and then I thought of more when I actually put my mind to it. For many, pets become full-fledged family members so their loss is very deeply felt.

Jim’s cycling accident last month was, thankfully, not as bad as it could have been. I wrote about how it put a refocus on what’s important: loved ones and spending time wisely living our best lives.

Here’s the thing. We all have a lot to do. 21st century life isn’t for sissies: it’s stressful. The very technology that makes so many things easier and faster is also a detriment to our happiness in many ways. We’re taking care of our homes and our families, we’re working, and (hopefully) we’re doing things that enhance the lives of others. We’re running ourselves ragged and in between all of that, we’re wasting hours hanging out on the computer and doing other things that add nothing to the quality of life. We’re also allowing toxic people to take up space in our lives (well, I’M not. I stopped doing that ages ago). Everything can be snatched away–or nearly so–in just a moment; what are some changes you can make to help you live in the moment with a little more gratitude for life itself?

I’ll start: I’m working on staying away from Facebook and not having my phone on my person at all times on the weekends.

Your turn.

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Okay, I Stand Corrected.

Something good that has come out of this election is the seemingly unending stream of thoughtful political conversation I’ve been enjoying with my twenty-four-year-old. It’s really something special to be able to have intelligent discourse about world affairs with your own grown kid and as much as this election and the post-election developments have had me tied up in knots, it’s been a bright spot.

That said, I have a much more entertaining conversation to share here.

The scene: my kitchen.
I’m lighting my Clean Cotton-scented Yankee Candle.

Dylan: “It’s too bad they don’t make a candle that smells like lighting a match.”
Me: “YES. That would be amazing.”
Dylan: “Or gasoline.”

(Sidenote: we’re two of those weird human beings who enjoy the smell of gasoline.)

Me: “Yankee Candle used to make one that smelled like cut grass. Not sure if they still do.”

(Sidenote: They do! It’s called Green Grass.)

*insert a couple more sentences about candles that I forgot, making me a terrible summarizer of conversation*

Me: “…in fact, you should see how many candles Heather (Liz’s middle daughter) has. She LOVES candles. She collects ALL THE CANDLES.”
Dylan: “Huh, um, that’s kind of a weird thing to collect, isn’t it?”
Me: “Not at all. I mean, she doesn’t collect them just to stare at them. She collects them to USE. They have multiple candles going on in that house all the time.”
Dylan: “Ohhhh. Okay so she’s more of a ‘Candle Enthusiast’.”
Me: “Yes. I guess you’re right.”

The Candle Enthusiast and us

Next time I get them in the same place we’ll be sure to talk about candles.

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Gone Fishing.

I’ve been having a conflict: I wasn’t feeling the energy for blogging this weekend but was also struggling with my commitment (to myself) to participate in NaBloPoMo. I was texting with my friend Vikki, who is an EXCELLENT accountability partner, and she was telling me that she really feels a need to step away as well. We decided to become non-accountability partners and release each other from our NaBloPoMo commitment for the weekend, so we’re both posting this “Gone Fishing” sign. This way we can both in good conscience do some self care and come back a little better on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Gone Fishing

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Friday Fun

Friday Fun

What a week, am I right?
It’s finally Friday, and I’m shutting down the laptop early in order to get started on the weekend. Here are some great things I read/saw online this week that you should definitely check out:

When You’re Feeling Lost, on Houseful of Nicholes
We’re Tired, on Smacksy
18 Totally Real Conversations Obama and Biden Have Had Since the Election, on Buzzfeed
This Chicago Cubs cartoon that will make any true Chicagoan reach for the Kleenex
All about “Chalking the Bricks” at Wrigley Field (my own pics to come soon!)
We Are the Role Models. Us. Not Them, on Two Cannoli
How to Disagree, by Kid President

I’ll be back tomorrow because NaBloPoMo, but I’m still wishing you an awesome weekend right now because why not? Enjoy!

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Do Something.

Do something.

It’s been a rough couple of days in America. Upset, anger, confusion, and sadness are only some of the emotions that people are dealing with after Hillary Clinton’s loss (or, rather, Donald Trump’s win) on Tuesday, not to mention the feelings of panic about the future. This election was different from others: it was the nastiest, ugliest, meanest cycle in our lifetime and in the end the Democratic loss/Republican win wasn’t upsetting simply because it was a loss. It was (is) upsetting because the racist, misogynistic, and anti-LGBT comments made by Donald Trump during the campaign along with his promises to rid the country of immigrants, build a wall, and change laws that were put in place to protect citizens–just to name a short list–were (are) downright scary. Don’t even get me started on the icky underbelly of our country, the citizens who have been emboldened to act upon their hatred of those who aren’t Christian white men.

I was very sad yesterday. I felt lost and a little numb. I stopped watching the news and tried to stay off social media a little bit more than I normally do (working in social media is hard!). Periodically checking in, I saw a whole lot of link-sharing and anger. I have some friends who are sharing link after link after link about the election, how terrible the Trump presidency is going to be, what rights are going to be lost by segments of our population, and more.

By yesterday evening my sadness was being replaced with a little bit of anger, not only about the election but also social media. I started wondering how many of the people who are out there sharing everything they’re reading and lamenting our future are actually going to go further than that and do something, take action, be a change-maker. It’s so easy to click “share”, but it takes some effort, energy, and time to actually do the work. (Sidenote: I know that a lot of people will. However, I’m certain that the “work” of some people will stop on Facebook.)

Donald Trump is our President-elect. Those of us who don’t want that can’t change that. (Personally I agree with President Obama in his hope that Trump is successful because a successful President makes for a successful America. President Obama is so wise. I’m going to miss him.)

What we CAN do is get active on a local level. We can talk to our family, our neighbors, and others around us. We can donate to organizations that do great work for people of color, women, non-Christians, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, and the environment. We can volunteer for those same organizations. We can promote the work of those who are doing that work.

There are so many options for those who want to do something. Here is an article that lists a bunch of worthy causes, but if you want to dig deeper and truly go ground-level local then a simple internet search is your friend. I suggest searching for your city (or larger area or region in your state; for example East Tennessee or Quad Cities, etc.) plus the kind of organization you’re looking for. If I search for “Chicago LGBT organizations”, I get a bunch of great information. Try it. It’s easy.

I will tell you that I’ve gone from sadness to anger to a state of being ready to help do the work. I’m energized. I’m looking forward to it, and I know lots of people who feel the same. What about you? Are you ready to do something?

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Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Hillary

Hillary

I had to be out of my house for an hour so I’m sitting in a mostly-deserted McDonald’s crying my eyes out watching Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. It’s beautiful, uplifting, full of grace and continues the tradition of a peaceful leadership transition in our country. She really would have been a fantastic president.

Thank you, Hillary.

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Where Do We Go From Here?

Election 2016

I have convinced myself over the last few months that I really don’t know enough about politics to write about it (and honestly didn’t want to join the fray). That said, considering the history that might possibly be made tonight along with the fact that I have never educated myself about politics more than I have during this election cycle, I called BS on my Debbie Downer self talk and decided to check off today’s NaBloPoMo post with a little politics. Just a little.

First, I am sick of politics. I’m sick of political ads, I’m sick of hearing about the candidates, I’m sick of the angry (and countless other negative descriptors) people who have been emboldened by the Republican candidate, and I’m sick of the anxiety that folks are experiencing due to all of this chaos.

I force myself to counter those sick feelings with gratitude that I live in a country that allows me to participate in the political process. It’s not like that everywhere. I need to embrace that gratitude, as annoying as this entire cycle has been.

Full disclosure: I voted for Hillary Clinton. I voted for her for many reasons, and two of the most important ones to me are the value she places on America being a country for all people (not just white, upper-class males) and the fact that she really is the most qualified person for the job of President of the United States. That she happens to be a woman would make a victory super cool for historical purposes, and while I didn’t vote for her based on her gender, it is WAY past time for America to have a female leader, so I’m excited about that possibility. For many reasons, I’m with her.

Are there problems with her? Yes. There are problems with all political candidates. Her opponent has more problems than she does though, and they are problems that I consider to be detrimental to the good of our people, our country, and the world at large. That’s why I didn’t vote for him. That’s my right.

I think that, as wonderful as social media is in so many ways, it has done some damage to our political process (and other things as well, but let me stay focused here). Can you imagine how much dirt would have been dug up and how much chaos would have ensued in general over every single other presidential candidate in the past, had social media and the information on the internet had been at our fingertips as it is today? Being someone who works in and on social media and therefore also being someone who is unable to take a break from it for very long, I feel that social media is brutal in times like these. Some days I hate social media.

I also believe that the lack of access to social media and/or the lack of desire to be on social media for people in those categories works detrimentally as well: so many uninformed and uneducated voters. I wish there was a happy medium.

No matter who wins tonight–or tomorrow, depending on how things go because the counts are coming in thatclose–I want to know where we go from here. If Hillary wins, it’s going to be a tough four (to eight) years because Republicans are already committing to getting in her way so she doesn’t get anything done, starting with that Supreme Court appointment. (P.S. Note to U.S. Government: DO YOUR FREAKING JOB FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, THANKS.)

If Trump wins, it’s going to be a tough four years because our country might go back by 50+ years civil rights-wise, and that’s just the beginning; I’m not going to list the rest. No matter who wins, we aren’t going to be able to simply shove all of the hate and vitriol back into the box. We have a divided country and it’s my hope that we can come together and deal with all of that: united we stand, divided we fall.

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