Author Archive | June


Discovering a Museum Gem – The Chicago Botanic Gardens

We are blessed in Chicago with a plethora of renowned museums, but I rarely visit any of them.  I think it is a function of taking them for granted because I live here.  Also, as an introvert, I don’t find them particularly relaxing.  There is a lot of noise and crowds and I feel like I need to comprehend every piece of information that is presented to me.  I leave most museums filled up, but also exhausted.  However, I recently discovered (or rediscovered to be more accurate) a museum of peace and beauty at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

A friend of May Meets June (who is also our wonderful blog designer) works at the garden which put them back on my radar.  The Chicago Botanic Gardens are located in the northern suburbs of Chicago and a short car ride from my home.  

I have always loved gardens although I am not a gardener myself.  I love to look at other people’s gardens.  My grandmother always had a beautiful flower garden with lots of cutting flowers, which one of these days I may try and replicate.

My mom and I visited on my birthday.  We enjoyed the beautiful plants and flowers, and had a refreshing lunch with a glass of wine under a canopy of green trees overlooking the blooming rose garden.

This museum felt peaceful.  There were people and there was information about the plants to read which could have overwhelmed me.  Instead, though, being in a beautiful natural setting just exuded calm and was refreshing.  Rather than a museum it felt like a giant park.  

If you have botanic gardens in your area, I suggest you check them out for a moment of beauty.  They may be a gem for you to discover.  Your soul and spirit will thank you. -June

If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden. 
― Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden


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Things I Know To Be True – Birthday Reflections

A few weeks ago, I celebrated my birthday.  My birthday often makes me reflective.  I am neither young enough or old enough to be proud of my age.  So let’s just say I celebrated the anniversary of my 29th birthday again.  In honor of that, here are 29 truths I have discovered.  Not all are easy to remember, but always good to keep in mind.

  1. All moments in life are temporary.  In moments of discomfort or sadness or pain, it is difficult to remember this fact.  Some moments in life last longer but eventually time moves forward.  The one thing you can count on is change.
  2. Sometimes the best thing you can do is let go.
  3. Pizza is always a good choice for dinner.
  4. Physical activity makes your body stronger and your brain feel better.
  5. Find laughter.  Laughter is good for your soul and also makes your core tighter.
  6. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  7. It’s ok if not everyone likes you.  Do you like everyone?
  8. Invite people into your home.  No one cares if your home is perfectly decorated or clutter-free.  No one cares whether or not you can cook.  Extend the gift of hospitality.  People are happy to be invited.
  9. Friday is my favorite day of the week.  Monday is my least favorite day of the week.
  10. Put some effort into your appearance.  You don’t have to wear designer or expensive clothes or lots of beauty products.  A little effort shows you care about yourself and permits others to respect you.
  11. Check the weather before you leave the house.  There is no reason to be unprepared.  The weather forecast is everywhere.
  12. If you find a style that you love and looks good on you, go with it.  You don’t have to follow trends.  And it’s ok to wear your favorite pair of pants more than once a week.
  13. A cup of coffee makes mornings a lot easier.
  14. Planning ahead makes your life easier to manage.
  15. Find interests to share with your spouse.  Also find interests that are yours alone.
  16. Food and drinks always taste better when they are enjoyed with family, friends or on a patio.
  17. Faith is a gift.  Like all gifts it takes hard work,  but it is amazing for your heart to know there is something bigger than that which can be seen, that you are unique for a reason and miracles happen at every turn.
  18. Cheese is the most perfect food group.
  19. Just because you are right doesn’t mean you have to say it.
  20. Sometimes the only answer is to pray and breathe.
  21. It’s okay to order a pair of pretty shoes from Zappos to just try them on, and after you admired them on yourself to return them.
  22. It’s okay if you are still searching for what you want to be when you grow up.
  23. People cannot read your mind.  If something is bothering you, speak up.
  24. Surround yourself with books, beauty and joy.
  25. Watching TV is sometimes the perfect escape.  You don’t have to be productive or enriching your mind every minute of every day.  My guilty pleasure is the Bachelor/Bachelorette shows.  Complete drivel and so fantastical.
  26. Celebrate milestones like birthdays and anniversaries.  These days are your own personal holidays.  And celebrate even the ordinary days.  Buy yourself a little treat whether it be a Starbucks coffee or a bouquet of flowers.
  27. When you have a lot to do, make a list.
  28. Always carry a book with you.  It makes time spent waiting pass more quickly.
  29. Accept yourself with all of your gifts and flaws.  There is nothing better than being comfortable with who you are.

The years give us experiences and wisdom.  So on your birthday celebrate all that you have achieved and the truths that you now know and look with excitement to the future and all that to be still accomplished. –June

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. Voltaire

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Summer Porch Refresh

I have probably said this a hundred times here, but our screened in porch is by far my favorite room in our house.  Sitting on a porch simply feels like summer.  This time of year I enjoy listening to the rustle of the leaves, feeling the hot breeze and the sunshine, especially on this first day of summer.  As the summer progresses, the insistent music of the cicadas becomes the melody on the porch.  Life just seems easier and slower when I sit on the porch.  I wish I could spend all my summer days there.

However, after looking around our porch this spring, we realized it was starting to look a little tired.  So, we recently finished a quick refresh of the porch.  And now we have all of the summer days to enjoy it.

To refresh the porch we hired a painter to paint both the inside, including the deck floor, and the outside.  When I was in South Carolina visiting May this past winter, I loved that the ceiling porches were painted haint blue.  The ceiling of our porch is stained but I decided to paint my walls that some color.  In the South, haints are thought to be restless spirits of the dead, that for whatever reason have not moved on.  The haint blue is to protect the homeowner from being taken or influenced by the spirits.  I always like legend stories so this seemed a good reason to paint my porch that color.

There is no color called “haint blue” but instead is usually a shade of light blue with a tint of green.  I chose Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue for our color.  And I have to say I am absolutely in love.  It is cool and fresh which is perfect for a screened in porch.

The other refresh that we did was a new indoor/outdoor rug from Target with shades of my favorite color, pink, and gray.  It has a soft texture that makes our porch feel a bit like an outdoor living room.

I bought a few new chair cushions because our old ones had seen better days.  Once again I picked up the colors of pink and blue-green to keep a cohesive color scheme.

Finally, we took down our old paper lantern lights and hung these rustic string lights.  The bulbs have that old-fashioned appearance of being able to see the filament.  It lends a nice warm glow to our porch making it inviting in the evening.  And my husband did a wonderful job of hanging them up so they are nicely spaced.

I have a sign collection hanging over the door where I hang signs that inspire me or have a special meaning.  The Here Fishy Fishy sign reminds me of when I went fishing with my dad as a little girl and would call the fish to get on my hook.  The sign that says This Home is Open to God, sunshine and friends was a wedding present.  I am always on the lookout for new signs to add.

And my lady planter needed a fresh flower crown.

If you are looking for me this summer, Gatsby and I will be on our newly refreshed porch sipping a drink and reading a book.  However, I am always happy to have company join me.  So come sit a spell with me on my porch.  -June

Nowadays, people are so jeezled up. If they took some chamomile tea and spent more time rocking on the porch in the evening listening to the liquid song of the hermit thrush, they might enjoy life more. – Tasha Tudor

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Five Ways to Beat the Heat

This week, the weather in Chicago feels like someone’s turned on the furnace full-blast! Our summers often come in this way.  We go from cold to hot overnight.  However, temperatures in the mid-90s is unusual for us in early June.  Yesterday evening my car thermometer read an outdoor temperature of 98 degrees!  I wonder if this portends a hot summer? I personally love the heat (I’ll take it over any day in January) but even I have my limits.  Here are five ways to beat the heat.

  1.  Air Conditioning.  Truthfully, I am not a huge fan of air conditioning.  I hate artificial air and feeling like I’m all sealed up.  When it gets super hot there is no way to live except with air conditioning, especially at night.  I may open the windows for awhile during the day to get some fresh air but at night I am all about the air conditioning.  I need to be cool to sleep.  And if I can’t sleep because of the heat, then I am sure to be cranky until the heat spell subsides.
  2. Hydrate.  Everyone always says to hydrate during the heat but it really is your body’s best way to cope with it.  I try to drink a lot of water everyday but if I am in the heat I up the water intake.  And for some variety try ice cold water and add some mint or cucumber, or try one of the many flavors of sparkling water.
  3. More Clothes.  While we all look forward to wearing our tank tops and shorts, sometimes as strange as it sounds,wearing a little more clothing in the heat is more comfortable.  I am not talking about sweaters or jackets, but rather wearing light pants instead of shorts or wearing a shirt with a little sleeve.  Less clothing often makes me sticky and, not to be yucky, gives the sweat nowhere to go.  With a little more clothing you won’t stick to chairs and you will have some protection from your searing hot car seats.  Just wear clothing with lightweight fabric and loose fits.
  4. Cool Your Feet.  We do not have a pool but when it’s really hot I go outside and run freezing cold hose water over my feet.  I remember as a kid my mom used to sit with her feet in our wading pool and now I understand.  Just cooling off your feet cools your whole body.  Try it.
  5. Rest.  There is a reason that songs have been written about the lazy, hazy crazy days of summer or as we refer to really hot days as the dog days of summer.  We are supposed to rest in the heat.  Your body needs rest to cool itself.  So sit by a pool, sit on your porch or lie in a hammock.

Rest and enjoy the heat of the season.  I’m going to soak every bit of it in my bones so I can bring it out in the dark cold days of winter. –June

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You’ll wish that summer could always be here
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer -Nat King Cole


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Free Libraries

Anyone who knows me, knows I love libraries.  While I love the smell of libraries and the hushed atmosphere, I mainly love all of the books.  And I love that I can check them all out for free.

As a child, I spent a lot of time at the library.  It was so hard to pick which books would go home with me until my return.  I wanted to take them all home, but sadly my mom only let me check out 10 books at a time.  Should I take home some old favorites or some new yet to be discovered stories?  As an adult I still love my library.  As much as I read, my wallet and my home bookshelves are thankful that libraries exist.

I recently found out that public free libraries are an American institution, with the first ones starting on the east coast in the 1830s.  Between the 1880s and 1929, almost 1,700 free public libraries were built in the United States thanks to the industrialist, Andrew Carnegie.  He agreed to build and furnish a library if the city would agree to  maintain and staff it.  It really is amazing when you consider that people had the foresight to understand that information and reading was so important that it should be available for free to everyone.

I am super fortunate that my town wholeheartedly supports our library.   Because I grew up in this community, I have seen the library grow from a much smaller building with a physical card catalog and an iguana named Peepers, to a much larger facility that offers not only books but computer classes, conference room space, programming and activities.  When I review our property tax bill, I always feel like we more than get our money’s worth by using our library.

Recently, there has been a phenomenon called the Little Free Library that has been springing up since 2009.  Rather than a large public library, individuals or community groups build their own little library where they invite others to add or take a book.  The Little Free Library was started in Wisconsin to promote literacy and love of reading.  If you go to their website  you can see if there is a Little Free Library in your town or someplace you visit.

Our neighborhood completed a gofundme campaign last year and built a Little Free Library.  The Little Free Library was recently installed in our neighborhood “island” which is a little public landscaped area with a bench.  Because we walk the dog by there frequently, I love to peek in the Little Free Library to see its stock.  We must have a lot of readers in the neighborhood because it is almost always fully stocked.  We have kids books, YA books and adult fiction.  The stock changes so someone must be taking the books home to read.  A few weekends ago we saw a family on a bike ride, that had stopped to take a break and read a book on the bench next to it.  It’s fun to see how people are enjoying the library.  I think I may have to walk down there soon and make a point of picking a book to take home to read.

While reading is a solitary activity, it’s also a community activity.  That is why we have book clubs and activities surrounding books.  There is something powerful about sharing the written word with others and sharing the experience of story.  I take great joy in reading about books, following bookstagrams on Instagram, belonging to online reading communities and also in life book clubs.  And one of my favorite things to do is to share and recommend books I have read.

Summer is the perfect reading season.  Check out your local library or a Little Free Library and have some fun for free. –June

A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.

–Henry Ward Beecher

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At the end of last week I was tired.  Not just physically tired but spiritually tired.  I felt as if I was suffocating under a pile of worry.  That feeling of being overwhelmed and anxious was a bit consuming so we took the weekend to recharge.  It is tempting on a long holiday weekend to plan lots of activities, social events and projects.  I knew that going into the weekend we should do none of that and instead take the time to recharge.

So this weekend we spent time porch sitting and napping.  We watched a very schmaltzy movie on the Hallmark channel and the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  We went out to dinner one night, ordered pizza another night and cooked at home.

I was not completely without ambition.  The warm weather and open windows make me want to freshen up things in the house.  So, I washed every piece of bedding on our bed.  I also took summer clothes out of storage which involved more laundry.

I enjoyed a yoga class, got a pedicure and walked barefoot admiring my pretty pink toes.

We took Gatsby for many walks.  Gatsby and I supervised while my husband did a little yard work.  We watched someone else plant our new tree in our back yard.

I cut a few of my newly bloomed peonies to bring in the house and fill the kitchen with their sweet scent (after knocking the ants off of them).

I enjoyed sunshine and fresh spring breezes.  I left my phone charging for a whole day and took a break from the computer and all of its accompaniments.

We may have missed out on some things by pretty much holing up all weekend.  Sometimes though the best thing you can do for yourself is to take a break.  There is always chatter about listening to your body about what you need, but how many of us really listen?  I am so glad that I did listen this past weekend.    While I may have not woken up ready to take on the world, I did feel mentally and physically healthier.  All in all a weekend of recharging was just what was needed. –June

“All that is important comes in quietness and waiting.” — Patrick Lindsay

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Limiting Beliefs

Recently we were working on handstand in yoga class.   To feel more comfortable, we were working against the wall which meant that when you kick up, with your feet over your head, you cannot fall over.  However, as soon as I got in position my brain told me that I was not strong enough and that I was going to fall on my head.  Guess what happened?  I could not get my feet off of the ground and it was because of limiting beliefs.

I find that limiting beliefs can prevent me from doing so much that I am fully capable of doing.  Do you do this to yourself as well?

There are many things I do not do because I don’t think I can do them.  I cannot do a handstand or a headstand or really any upside down pose.  I cannot draw or sing.  I cannot run.  I have trouble going to a party where I do not know anyone.  Are any of these really true?

My limiting beliefs about myself prevent me from even trying any of these things.  The limiting beliefs cause fear.  They cause me to fear that I am going to fail or embarrass myself.  However, that should not matter.

We should try those things that we are passionate about even if there is the risk of failure.  In the long run, who cares if we try and fall flat on our face.  And no one is good at something the first time they try.

There have been times that I have let my limiting beliefs get the best of me and it has caused me to miss out on something amazing.  When we were in Hawaii years ago I refused to swing on a rope over a deep lagoon because I was not sure I could do it.  I still regret that I didn’t try it.  But I am so glad that my limiting beliefs have not prevented me from trying zip lining, going whitewater rafting, learning to knit or start blogging.

I am still working on keeping those limiting beliefs in check.  My dream is to write a novel.  I have dabbled with an idea and a few pages here and there.  When I sit down to write I am immediately seized with the limiting belief that I am not a writer or that I am a terrible writer.  It prevents me from moving forward and having fun just writing.

That critical voice in our head is loud and sometimes the best thing we can do is acknowledge it.  And then tell that voice it is a liar.  If you really want to pursue something, do it and do not let those limiting beliefs hold you back.

In the meantime, I am going to tell that voice to shut up when I sit down to write and also when I work on my handstand.  I may only write a paragraph or I may get my feet barely off the ground but it will be progress which will show that voice who is boss.

Do you have limiting beliefs about yourself that are holding you back?   Is there anything you do to put those limiting beliefs aside?  –June

Many people are passionate, but because of their limiting beliefs about who they are and what they can do, they never take actions that could make their dreams a reality. -Tony Robbins

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Dog Massage

Did you know that your dog can get a little bodywork done through massage?  I won a dog massage in a raffle and this last weekend, Gatsby had a massage.

The woman who owns the company also works in a veterinary office helping rehab animals that have had serious injuries or surgery.  The massage therapist took a 10 month course in canine massage which included learning all of the dog’s anatomy and is a certified canine massage therapist.  For Gatsby’s massage she came to our home where he is most comfortable.

We are fortunate that at 8 years old, that other than some skin allergies, Gatsby does not have any health issues.  However, because he is a golden retriever and therefore a large breed dog, we are watching him for signs of hip issues and arthritis as he ages.  Massage has a lot of health benefits for people and for dogs.  It can help with anxiety, aid with digestion, move toxins through the lymphatic system, decreases blood pressure and reduces pain and swelling.

Gatsby loves to be touched so I thought he would settle right into a massage, but as soon as she started he could tell it was different, got up and left.  It was explained to me that the touch has a different energy compared to petting, and the dogs notice the difference right away.

After a bit, and with a stuffed toy in his mouth, Gatsby came back for more massage.  He would settle in for a bit and then have to get up and walk around to walk it off.  One thing that fascinated me was he would offer body parts that he wanted massaged. For example, Gatsby laid on his right side so the therapist could massage his left side and left legs.  He then got up walked around a bit and then came back and laid on the opposite side so that other side would be massaged and he would be balanced.

Just like people, dogs can get muscle knots and tension especially in their shoulder areas.  I know when I have a massage, there is that mix of pain and pleasure as the massage therapist works out those particularly stubborn knots.  By looking at Gatsby’s eyes, I could tell when she hit one of those on him.

Obviously, Gatsby could not vocalize if he liked his massage but he was very chill and relaxed the rest of the day and into the next.  He is generally a pretty relaxed dog but this took him to another relaxed state.  And he seemed to be smiling all day.

While this will not be a regular part of Gatsby’s routine, I did feel like we did something good for him and for his health.  Definitely, if he starts to show signs of arthritis or other discomfort as he ages we will think about scheduling this a little more frequently.  It may seem indulgent but as part of our family, we want to make sure he stays healthy and happy. -June

Be the energy you want others to absorb. -A.D. Posey

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Ribbon Cutting

Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies

I went to a ribbon cutting ceremony last Saturday.  As old as I am, can you believe that I have never been to a ribbon ceremony?  The ceremony was full of all of the pomp and circumstance that such an event should contain.  There were speeches and pictures.  Then the grand event of cutting a big red ribbon over the front door with giant scissors opened the building to all visitors!

This ribbon cutting was special for me because it was the grand opening of a new library where my brother is the director.  The project has taken over a year and was a lot of work for him and many others.  The opening deserved this kind of ceremony because it was a momentous occasion of a vision coming to life.

When I mentioned to others that I had never been to a ribbon cutting ceremony, most others (some much older than me) echoed the same sentiment.  So it got me thinking that we should have more ribbon cutting ceremonies to celebrate the fruition of our own visions and accomplishments.

Other than your graduation and your wedding, when was the last time you celebrated an achievement?  And even if you have had a celebration when was the last time you celebrated in a big, possibly public, splashy way?  I know for me it has been a long time.  As adults I think we have a tendency to accomplish one thing and then immediately look forward to the next thing that needs to be done.  We should all take time to pause and celebrate all of those moments both big and small.

Buy a new house?  Put a big ribbon on your front door and cut it before you walk through.  Not only did you make it through the home buying process but you are committing to making a home in that structure.

Finish a big project at work?  Put a big ribbon on your office door and cut it before you start your day, taking a moment to relish in a completed job.

Clean out the closet?  Put a big ribbon on the closet door so it reminds you that the closet is clean every time you walk in the room.


The big ribbon might be a bit ludicrous and in some situation too ostentatious.  For example cutting a ribbon on the grocery store cart because you finally have food in your house may get you some funny looks.  But do something to celebrate when you accomplish something and feel proud.  The reason why those ribbons are almost always red and those scissors are gigantic is a statement is being made that this is something huge and important and special.  Those ceremonies not only celebrate what has been completed but what is to come.  So find those moments in your life to have a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate you and all that you are and everything that comes next. –June

You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness. Zig Ziglar

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Decorating With Spring Nature

The trees are blooming here in Chicago, the tulips are blooming and the grass is growing.  I love to decorate with fresh flowers and even on the coldest days in winter you will often find grocery store flowers in a vase on my table.  Now that the outside is cooperating we can decorate our homes without spending any money by decorating with the gifts nature gives us.  Try to go beyond the usual flowers and look to trees and other items in yard to bring in the house.

Recently, our crabapple tree was in full bloom in our front yard.  Every time I walked down the driveway I could smell the sweetness of those flowers.  I decided to take advantage and clipped a few of the branches and put them in a small vase on my windowsill.  My whole kitchen smelled like apple blossoms.  The apple blossoms are somewhat delicate so enjoy them while you can.

One of my favorite flowering shrubs this time of year is the lilacs.  When we walk in the neighborhood I stop to smell all of the lilac bushes (my husband doesn’t quite get the same thrill out it as I do).  Because I don’t have a lilac bush, I am waiting for my mom to get home from Florida (today) to bring me a bouquet of some freshly cut lilacs.

If your flowering trees are done, why not try a branch from an ordinary tree.  The buds and small leaves this time of year have a fresh green color.  The more interesting the shape of your branch the better.  This is a bit unusual but I think it is cool.

Finally, soon we will have peonies blooming.  I saw a bunch of beautiful peonies at my grocery store last week for $18.

I was tempted but it seemed a little excessive when I have three nice peony bushes that are growing and forming buds.  I always feel conflicted about enjoying them in the yard or enjoying them in the house.  Hopefully, I’ll have enough blooms this year that I won’t have to choose.

Enjoy all that nature has to offer you to beautify your home.  -June

At some point in life, the world’s beauty becomes enough. -Toni Morrison 

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Pantry Dinners

Pantry Dinners

We were out of town the end of last week for the Easter weekend.  We returned home Monday evening and the last thing I wanted to do after a 10 hour road trip was head to the grocery store.  So, we are punting this week with no fresh groceries.  In order to feed us without resorting to eating out, I am thinking pantry meals.

If you have chicken in the freezer, Chicken Tacos are a great pantry meal.  Some chicken, taco spices, cheese and your slow cooker makes for an easy dinner.  If you do not have tortillas, do burrito bowls over lettuce or serve it as chicken nachos with chips.

Similarly, if you have ground beef in the freezer instead of chicken, you can make Slow Cooker Beef Tacos.  I am sensing that Mexican food is a good pantry meal.

We are also fans of all of the frozen burgers at Trader Joe’s.  Our favorites are the Grass-Fed Beef Burgers, the Turkey Burgers and the Chicken Lime Chile Burgers.  They can go right on the grill from the freezer and are ready in around 10 minutes.  Add some frozen veggies and you have a full meal.  I regularly serve mine on lettuce rather than a bun.  A guacamole topper on the Turkey or Chicken Burgers is delicious.

Breakfast for dinner is always a good option for a pantry meal.  Scramble up some eggs and toast or get fancy and make an omelet with all the leftovers in your refrigerator.  If you like to have a sweet dinner, pancakes are always delicious.

Because I just ate it for lunch, tuna salad can also be tasty for dinner as well.  A can of tuna, some mayo and mustard all mixed together then add in some celery and a little salt and pepper.  Serve on a nice crusty roll or on top of a mixed green salad for a light dinner.

Pasta seems to live in everyone’s pantry and it can be mixed with so many things.  Once again Trader Joe’s has pantry items you can keep for just these situations.  They have great marinara sauce.  However, I like pesto on my pasta or even just a bit of olive oil and parmesan cheese.  If you want to add in some protein, try some leftover chicken or look for the frozen grilled chicken strips.

Appetizers for dinner can make a great pantry meal.  I often keep a few frozen appetizers in my freezer also all from Trader Joe’s such as mini chicken tacos, mozzarella sticks or lobster shrimp bites.  If we are really pinched, I can warm a few of these up and enjoy them as a meal.

Finally, not the healthiest of options, but often when I am home by myself for the evening, I plan on a dinner of cheese and crackers.  I try to plan a little ahead of time and have some tasty cheeses in my fridge like an aged cheddar, a brie or a blue cheese.  Then I indulge in a few fancier crackers such as Mary Gone Crackers or water crackers or even some crusty bread, pour myself a glass of wine and sit back and enjoy. –June


“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

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Sunday Scaries – How to Combat

Do you suffer from the Sunday Scaries?  If you don’t know what they are, the Sunday Scaries are those feelings you have on Sunday of anxiety and dread at the week ahead.  I have the Sunday Scaries most weeks.  It’s a hard feeling to describe.  It starts as a bit of anxiety because Monday is looming.  There is also a sense of being overwhelmed at not accomplishing everything you wanted over the weekend, including just having some down time. There is a bit of sadness in there too because the weekend is almost over.  The worst is that it ruins half your weekend when they start on Sunday morning.

I have tried to figure out how to cope with the Sunday Scaries for awhile now.  I have not defeated them, but I have found a few things that have helped me.  Obviously, a big life change of finding a job I love would certainly eradicate them, but here are some simple ideas.  I’m also open to more suggestions.

Have a Sunday morning routine.  As much as I crave mornings where I have nothing to do, I have found that my case of the Sunday Scaries is more pronounced if I have no plan for the morning or the day.  On Sunday mornings, I am often up before my husband so I spend some quiet time writing or reading something inspiring.  I enjoy a second cup of coffee.  I read the Sunday newspaper.  After my husband is awake and watches his one hour of Sunday morning news shows, we take the dog for a nice long walk.  On the walk we often figure out what other things we need to accomplish for the day.  The exercise and the fresh air are a great way to tamp down those feelings of anxiety and dread.

Get organized for the week.  The worst feeling on Monday morning is feeling rushed and unprepared.  I now try to get organized for the week on Sunday.  I make sure the house is straightened and the laundry has been folded and put away.  I put things in my work bag that need to be taken to the office.  I started using a service called PrepDish to get my meals ready for the week.  PrepDish is a subscription menu service.  The idea is that you prep and cook for about two hours on a free day and then dinners are all set to go during the week.  And the meals are all healthy.  We have been doing this for the past few weeks and it is amazing to come home after a long day in the office and not have to decide what we are having for dinner, but also have at least 80% of it prepared.  This is turning into one of those things that is seriously helping my Sunday Scaries.

Give yourself a quitting time.  Because we are so busy during the week, it seems that our weekends are full of errands and chores. On Sundays, in particular, I have started giving myself a quitting time for doing work.  Usually that time is in the late afternoon and I will treat myself to a short nap, a show on Netflix or the DVR or a few chapters of my book.  This helps my brain get some relaxation time before the hectic week.  As part of that quitting time, I also try to either do a slow cooker meal on Sunday or something super fast like burgers on the grill.  That way I don’t have to spend a lot of time on meal preparation after my “quitting time.”

Go to bed early.  I try to go to bed at my regular time on Sunday if not earlier.   The Sunday Scaries tend to make my sleep restless on Sunday nights, so following the usual routine helps with my quality of sleep.

I have read some tips that involve planning a fun activity for Sunday night or Monday night, so that there is something at the end of the weekend or beginning of the week to look forward to.  I have not tried this yet.  However, with the summer approaching I think we may try this.  We could go to a movie or invite some friends over for cocktails on our porch.  We could even spend our afternoon enjoying a quiet activity or museum such as a visit to the Chicago Botanical Gardens or a dinner out.  It would be interesting to see if this helps stave off some of those Sunday Scaries.

Let me know if you have any good tips to ward off those Sunday Scaries. –June

A Sunday well spent brings a week of content. -Unknown

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The Purge Continues

The Purge Continues

At the beginning of Lent, I told you about my Lenten challenge.  I was going to get rid of 40 bags in 40 days. This was not only a housecleaning project, but a spiritual one.  The intent was to get rid of things that were no longer serving.  By getting rid of the material, I hoped to let go of the non-material.  The purge has continued at my house and I do not mean that horror movie that I refuse to watch.  These are a few things that have helped me in this process.

First, before taking on this challenge, my husband and I talked about and agreed to do it together.  Both of us have an excess of stuff in our house and he needs to make his own decisions about his stuff.  It has been extraordinarily helpful for him to be right there alongside me getting rid of things that are no longer serving him.  He also helps me carry out the trash and take items to be donated which is practical help.

Second, we did a large painting project to the interior of our house including the master bedroom closet.  This meant that all of the contents of the closet were all over the rest of the bedrooms in the upstairs of our house.  We had stuff piled on the bed in the guest room, in the hallway and piled on the floor in the office.  The visual of all of that stuff was a great motivator to realize that we had way too much stuff in that closet.  Instead of simply putting everything back in the closet, we took our time to go through the items, and purge.  Our closet is much more organized now.

Third, I read portions of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  A caveat is that I borrowed this book from the library so I did not add another book to my bookshelf.  This book was much buzzed about a year or two ago on women’s talk shows and other media.  I was told that there were tricks in there for storing your clothes.  One of her tips is to fold your t-shirts in a manner that your can line them up vertically rather than in a stack.  Then when you open your drawer you can see all of your selections rather than just the ones on top.  Some of her philosophy for organizing seems a bit hokey.  For items that are not purely utilitarian, she tells you that you should hold each object and determine if it gives you joy.  It sounds silly but when I have been on the fence about whether to keep or dispose of something, I have thought about whether it gives me joy.  The other thing she advises is if you are disposing an object to thank it for what it gave you, and say goodbye.  I have done that and it does make me feel less guilty about getting rid of it.  It served its purpose and now it is time for it to move on.

Finally, we have donated a lot of items.  While I do not want to have an attitude of snobbery, I have tried to think often of the people my donated items may help.  We have not donated items that are worn out or broken.  For the items that still have life in them, I hope they will clothe someone and keep them warm, help someone dress for an interview, or even just allow someone to wear a nice item that they otherwise might not have been able to afford.  We also try and donate to an organization such as Goodwill that employs people who have limitations that could make it difficult for them to find a job.

The process continues over at our house.  As of the weekend, I think we were up to 22 bags, an extension ladder and a broken magazine basket.  I am not sure we are going to hit the 40 bag mark by Easter next weekend unless we are absolute maniacs this weekend.  However, we have started the process and plan to continue it past Easter.  By disposing of material things, not only do I have a clean closet but most importantly I have realized that we are blessed with overabundance.   Even after purging, I still have too many pairs of shoes, too many hoodies and too many books.  It is making me more conscientious about spending our money on items that we do not need.  I would like this evolve into less excess stuff in our life and open our lives to an excess of experience and joy.  –June 

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. -William Morris


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What To Do When Everyone Else Is On Spring Break

This week is spring break in our local schools.  Sadly, I am not on spring break but instead currently sitting in my windowless office.  From Facebook, all of my friends and neighbors are in exotic or at least warm locations like Mexico, Tennessee and Florida (especially Florida).  May is on the trip of a lifetime to Italy.  I am a bit envious of these warm weather vacations.  In the meantime, my husband and I feel like the sole survivors of a zombie apocalypse when we walk Gatsby through the neighborhood when not another soul is seen or detected.  So what do you do in order not to die of jealousy when everyone else is on spring  break?

1.   Enjoy Your Free Time.  Many of my usual weekly activities have been cancelled this week.  So I am going to enjoy having some free unstructured time.  And with that unstructured time I am going to do whatever I want which could be cracking a book on my TBR pile or working on a writing project.  I am still working on my 40 bags in 40 days project too (I think we are up to 15 bags donated or thrown out plus a very big extension ladder), so I can use some free time to keep up the work.

2.  Be a Tourist in Your Own Town.  We live in the world recognized city of Chicago and rarely do we take advantage of all the city has to offer.  Being a tourist in your own town can be a lot of fun and the best part is you already know you way around.  I plan on taking some time soon to visit the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Botanical Gardens.  Both of these have been on my list of things to do that I have not quite gotten around to.

3.  Run Errands.  As weird as it sounds, run errands this week.  Everyone is gone which means the stores will be empty.  I am always happy when my trip to the grocery store is fast.  Go wander the aisles of Target and look at the new spring decor and outdoor furniture.  Go to the mall and do some window shopping.  I always find errands to be more pleasant when I am not being run over and knocked into by other people.

4.  Go Out to Dinner.  Similarly, because everyone is gone the restaurants are less crowded.  Pick a popular place that is impossible to get into and try and snag a reservation.

5.  Go to a Nursery or Garden Center.  This past weekend the weather was miserable.  A steady cold rain kept us company all day on Saturday.  My husband and I took a ride out to a garden center that we had never been.  We wandered around.  We bought some new string lights for our screened in porch, enjoyed some fresh plants in the greenhouse and got some ideas for our yard when the weather turns.  Because planting does not traditionally start until Mother’s Day weekend in Chicago, the garden center did not yet have outdoor annuals and perennials but we plan to go back once they do.  It is not a tropical landscape but at least you can enjoy a few plants.

6.  Catch Up On Work.  This might be a great week to catch up on work.  A lot of your colleagues and business contacts are out of the office which means you can tackle some of those projects uninterrupted by emails and phone calls.  And next week when everyone is stressed and catching up on the backlog, you will know that you are ahead of the game.

7.  Be Thankful You Are Not at Disney.  Finally, be thankful you are not at Disney World this week.  My mom, who winters in Florida, happened to be at Disney World this past Saturday and she said it was so very, very crowded.  She told me Spring Break is not the time to visit unless you like crowds.  They were not able to enjoy very many rides or shows because of the lines and crowds.  I think an off-season trip to Florida or another popular location may be more enjoyable for us when it is not Spring Break.

8.  Enjoy Where You Are.  I find it very easy to get caught up in what others are doing and forget to enjoy where I am in the moment.  I may not be enjoying the beach or some sunny warm weather, but I can enjoy the moment.  I will remember to enjoy sleeping in my own comfortable bed.  I will remember to enjoy taking Gatsby for walks.  I will remember to enjoy the slight hint of spring weather that is in the air.  So while I am not away on Spring Break, I can still enjoy the simple things in the moment and look forward to the anticipation of trip away in the future. –June

Wherever you are, be all there. -Jim Elliott



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Viewing Your Life Through A Screen

Last Tuesday night, I went to a concert with my husband.  The performer was not my choice.  My husband thinks though that he is still young and hip, so we saw Ariana Grande perform (and some other people who I did not even know).  The audience was young for the most part.  We had crazy close seats on the floor and a great view of the stage.  However, that view was obstructed by everyone in front of us holding up their phones to record the show.  The guy immediately in front of me recorded the whole concert.


We go to concerts sporadically and we go because we love the experience.  There is a magic to seeing and hearing a performer sing live.  There is a magic to sharing that experience with the people filling the venue and listening to their screaming and singing along with the performer.  We attend live performances for that shared experience.  This is the reason we still attend movies at a movie theater or a football game in a stadium.  The technology has become so advanced that we can watch almost any movie from the comfort of our own couch.  However, it is a different experience to attend those events with the excitement of a crowd.

Watching these mainly young people watch this live concert through the screens of their phone made me think they are missing the experience.  I can assure you that just because you do not have a recording or a picture of an event to post to social media, the event did still occur in your life.  This blog often talks about enjoying the beauty of the present moment and this is the antithesis of that concept.  Do you really want to view your life through a screen?  It seems that you are being an audience member of your life rather than a participant.

My iPhone 7 plus has a screen size of 5.5 inches.  My world and life would be very small if I viewed my whole life through that screen.  I would miss out on things going on around me.  I would miss the crack on the sidewalk and trip.  I would miss the beautiful sunset.  I would miss seeing the “protest” a few weeks ago of six people walking down the middle of a busy city street holding a sign and chanting.  I would forget to use my other senses too.  My sense of smell to enjoy a fresh rainfall or my sense of sound to hear the first birds of the spring chirping their songs.

Preserving memories is great but don’t forget to enjoy your life in the moment.  My husband and I took a few pictures at the concert.  He also recorded a snippet here or there.  But for the most part we enjoyed the experience.  We sang or clapped along.  We danced so much that my feet hurt.  We enjoyed looking at some of the fans’ outfits complete with bunny or cat ears.  We enjoyed watching dads taking their tweenage daughters to a concert.  We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and those memories are what we will talk about as time moves on.  When I looked at those people that were recording every single moment it didn’t seem like they were having much fun.  I wonder when they watch that video later on how they will feel about the concert.  Will they remember the things my husband and I will talk about or will their experience without emotion or excitement.   The memories of a fully experienced moment are so much sweeter than a picture in a book –June

Being connected to everything has disconnected us from ourselves and the preciousness of this present moment.”  – L.M. Browning, Vagabonds and Sundries


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40 Bags in 40 Days

Today is Ash Wednesday which is the start of Lent in the Christian church.  Lent is a time of sacrifice, prayer and alms-giving.  In the Catholic Church we are asked to sacrifice something in our life for the period of Lent.  As a kid I always gave up chewing gum.  I loved chewing gum and not having any between Ash Wednesday and Easter was tough, but it was a simple way to keep the meaning of Lent and Easter in the forefront.

In the last few years, I have not been very thoughtful about sacrificing something during Lent.  We do not eat meat on Ash Wednesday or on Fridays during Lent which is not really that big of a sacrifice.  However, the last few years I have seen this 40 Bags in 40 Days Lenten “Challenge” floating around on the interwebs.

The physical purpose of this challenge is to get rid of 40 bags of stuff in your house over the 40 days of Lent (Lent is longer than 40 days but apparently Sundays don’t count which is something I wished I had know when I used to give up gum).  The bags of stuff can be donated, if still useable, or thrown in the trash.

When I first read about this, it seemed a bit self-centered to me.  I would get all of the benefit. Cleaning up the clutter in my house would equal me having a clean house.  This did not seem appropriate during the season of Lent when we should not be focused on our own pleasure and ego.  This seems a bit like giving up dessert during Lent not for the self-denial but because you really want to lose a few pounds.

I spent some time thinking and praying about this and came to the conclusion that for me this is a good Lenten sacrifice.  I tend to hold onto material physical stuff.   I become attached to things.  The Church often asks members and clergy to shed material items which is what this challenge will require me to do.  In addition, in the process of letting go of the physical that no longer serves me, I may let go of the more transcendental that no longer serves me.  This may be long-held expectations or beliefs or goals.  If I let go of the pants that no longer fit, possibly I can let go of that expectation of what I think of as the most attractive size.  If I let go of those books that I no longer want to or have time to read,  maybe I can accept that it is alright to use my free time in the way that is most enjoyable for me and not always in a way that is for self-improvement.

(We are having our house painted.  I feel like I am living in the house from E.T.)

In addition, for some items such as barely worn clothes or shoes, I will be donating them to others that need them.  While doing so, I intend to pray for those that receive them, that the items will serve them, and in some cases give them a little joy.

I also think in doing this project, I will appreciate even more how many blessings we have.  The truth is we have way too much in the way of material goods while others have very little.

My husband and I have decided to do this as a team effort this Lent.  It seems even more meaningful that we are taking it on together.  An important part of our relationship that sometimes gets neglected is our faith.  We met in a church small faith group many years ago so it seems appropriate that we approach a Lent sacrifice together.

You will find a lot of websites out there that have rules and a printable for this challenge.  However, it really is your journey to undertake in the best way that you see fit.  I intend to try and do a little bit every day but I also know that more time will be devoted to it on the weekends.  We have to clean out our closet.  I have too many clothes and my husband has shirts hanging in the closet that I have not seen him wear in the 15 years I have known him.  The closet will be a weekend project.  Smaller things such as the junk drawer in the kitchen can probably be sorted out in 15 minutes on a weeknight.

(This closet has way too much stuff)

We also intend to define “bag” how we see fit.  For example, we have an extension ladder that we ended up with when my mom moved.  For the last 5 years it has sat outside against the back of our garage never used.  We are getting rid of that and counting that as one “bag.”  In this case it really is the process of shedding ourselves of material possessions in a thoughtful and prayerful way.

If you are interested in doing the 40 bags in 40 days let me know.  We can support ourselves through this process. I know that this process will not be easy for me.  Letting go of stuff is hard for me even if it is no longer serving me.  And no matter how you choose to participate in Lent in another way, I wish you prayers.  And now I am off to buy lots and lots of trash bags.  –June

“Everything in life has its own time. There is time to celebrate and there is time to mourn. This is the time for reflection and transformation. Let us look within and change into what we ought to be.”  — Aaron Saul

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An Unexpected Gift This Winter

This weekend we had a completely unexpected string of days in the 60s and 70 degrees.  For Chicago in February, this is unheard of and records have been being broken right and left.  The unusual weather was a gift to us.  I looked at these days as a gift given to me, an unexpected vacation from the expected.

With a long weekend, it was a gift to get outside and enjoy it a bit.  We also enjoyed running errands quickly without the added weight of parkas, boots, hats and gloves.  I was scrambling to find weather appropriate clothing.  A t-shirt and a lightweight sweatshirt was all that was required which resulted in a gift of feeling weightless.

Gatsby enjoyed his gift by lying in front of the opened storm door to enjoy the rays.  Of course he lays there so long he eventually gets so hot that he is panting, but I guess he likes that feeling?

An organization had a polar plunge this past Saturday in a local lake.  I am sure the participants were planning on raising money through the adversity of freezing themselves in the winter snow and breaking through ice to access the water of the lake.  They had the gift of enjoying a dip in albeit cool water but with the warmth of the sunshine on their back.

The kids in the neighborhood enjoyed the gift by dusting off bicycles and shaking the rust off of the swing sets.

I have mentioned before that I hate winter and I tend to suffer a bit from seasonal affective disorder during the long dark days of winter.  This unexpected spring landing right in the middle of the worst month of the year was truly a gift.  Being a true Chicagoan, I know not to trust that it will last (or if it does last the world must be coming to an end), because I am sure winter is not done with us yet.  I will, however, soak up every minute of it while it is here, knowing that even when it fades, it will be back soon enough. –June

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. – Anne Bradstreet

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I am not a good gardener but I like to plant things.  In the summer, I love to go to the nursery and buy way too many annuals to plant in the flowerbeds and in containers.  I love to watch those little plants grow from tiny sprouts to big and tall and flowering, so much that they take over the container they are planted in.  I am not the best gardener because I am not good with the upkeep.  I do not like to weed and I often forget to water.

Because of my inattention, I have never had many houseplants even though I love them. I have one small lemon tree that I have managed to keep alive for almost 10 years and it even produces lemons.  In the summer, it lives on the patio but right now it is enjoying the warmth and sun of my dining room.  I also have a Christmas or Easter or whatever season it decides to bloom, cactus.  Lately, I have noticed in magazines, Pinterest and blogs, the resurgence of houseplants.  They look so pretty in a room.  And for someone who loves the outdoor living style but lives in Chicago, it helps bring nature indoors even in the winter months.

Last week, I decided to make a trip to a local nursery to look for houseplants.  In particular, I wanted a maidenhair fern.  The nursery is a very different place in the winter than in the spring and summer.  The outdoor yard is empty.  No trees or shrub to walk among.  No flats of blooming annuals or perennials to choose.  The plant selection is limited to a small indoor area.

I thought these Loco Coco plants were interesting.  Apparently, even though I live in Chicago, I can grow a palm tree in my house.  If I figure out a place in my house for a large tall houseplant, I may need to go back and get one of these.

The nursery had a display of some flowering plants for Valentine’s Day.

I’m sure I could keep succulents alive, since they thrive on low water intake.

I liked this smiling dragon hidden among the houseplants.  In the yard, I often put little statues among my plants.  I have never thought about including them indoors.

This display has to mean spring is coming.  These whirly-gigs are among my favorites. My grandma always had the yellow plastic sunflower ones in her flower gardens.  Because they break, I always buy a new one each year in memory of her.

I decided my lady needed some hair.  The last plant died and so she’s been bald for awhile.  Here she is sporting a new head of thyme.

And finally my maidenhair fern which I made part of the Valentine’s Day display last week.  So far I am keeping very good care of her.  She looks so pretty.

If you are craving some green right about now, go buy yourself a houseplant.  My next foray into houseplant care may be a fiddle leaf fig.  I’m not sure my light green thumb can care for that one too.  Decorating with houseplants is a great way to brighten up your room. –June


A sensitive plant in a garden grew,
And the young winds fed it with silver dew,
And it opened its fan
like leaves to the light,
and closed them beneath the kisses of night.

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Bullet Journaling

Have you heard about bullet journaling?  I saw it referenced on various websites but had no idea what it was so I looked into it.  Basically, it is a planning system to organize your life.  Instead of using a commercially developed planner, you simply use any notebook or journal you choose.  The key is the Table of Contents on the first few pages of your bullet journal.  The Table of Contents lets you later find what and where you wrote something down.

The video on does a great job of explaining how to set up a bullet journal.  This seems pretty basic and a good way to keep track of all the random lists and tasks that float in your head.  I am terrible at writing things down.  I have a really good memory so I often find that if I put an appointment on my calendar, I just remember it and never look at my calendar.  As I have gotten older and I have more things to juggle sometimes my memory is not as reliable.  While I have not missed anything important, I do often need to call to confirm an appointment.

The other problem with not writing things down is that I then suffer from monkey mind.  There is a constant loop in my head of things I need to do and appointments to be kept during the week.  So I decided to try this method of planning.

Bullet journaling can be somewhat intimidating.  In this day of Pinterest people make their bullet journals very artistic and fancy.  People draw pretty pages, color in printables and add washi tape.  I have a board on Pinterest here, but here are some examples of some beautiful pages.

And here are some examples of my pages.  Not so artistic at all.  More like chicken scratch.

I realized if I want to use this system, I cannot be concerned about how other people use their bullet journals.  No one else is going to see it.  If being artistic inspires you and helps you stick to planning, by all means do it.  For me though, using a bullet journal is more like a brain dump.  I’m using it to take notes for webinars or podcasts.  I’m using it jot down ideas for writing. I’m using it to make a list of books I’d like to read or movies or television shows to watch.  I also use it to make to do lists.  The beauty of this system is you can use it the best way for you.

I have not perfected this system at all.  Part of it is that I have to train myself to write things down.  I also don’t find it helpful to keep appointments in it, but would rather do those on my outlook calendar.  I still take notes in my phone’s note app too.  When I am out of the house, such as when I catch up on all of the “news” in People or Us magazine during my hair appointment, I do not have my bullet journal with me.  So if there is an interesting new novel coming out or a pretty shade of nail polish I want to try, it ends up in my notes app instead.

The one thing that the bullet journal does help me with is I do know where all of my random handwritten notes are located.  I do not have to search through multiple notebooks, scraps of paper, the back of envelopes, to find something I know I wrote down.

If you are a person that struggles with post-it notes, forgotten appointments and losing your mind, you may want to try bullet journaling.  I am finding it helpful for the most part. –June

[Journaling] is like whispering to oneself and listening at the same time. – Mina Murray, Dracula




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What's Awesome Today?

What’s Awesome Today?

I am feeling weary and exhausted lately.  The world in the last few weeks has become noisier, harsher and less kind.  And in the quest to have opinions heard, the media and people are making themselves louder and more extreme.  At the end of the day I come home feeling wrecked and tired.  Are you feeling this way too?

A few months ago I switched the radio station I listen to in the morning.  My previous station hired new morning hosts that grate on me and I was fortunate to find a new station with the music I enjoy and hosts that are entertaining.  During the lead-up to the election, the hosts started a weekly segment called “What’s Awesome Wednesday” to put some positivity in the world.  Listeners call in with what is awesome in their life at the moment.  The awesomeness does not have to be anything momentous but can be a witnessed random act of kindness or something that brought a small smile.  It has met with such success that they have found that teachers are using it in their classrooms to help their students feel more positive and less anxious and have now made it an almost daily segment.

So in my personal quest to spread some positivity, joy, love and peace in the world, here is my list of What’s Awesome Today.

The sunshine.  On Monday, we saw the sun in Chicago for the first time in 8 days.  It has been a dreary month and the sun was such a welcome sight.  The warmth and the light improved everyone’s mood and made me smile.

The start of a new month.  January, the wickedest of winter months, is now in our rearview mirrors.  While February is no walk in the park (and in fact is my least favorite month of the year), we are that much closer to March, when spring officially begins.

New paint colors.  We have lived in our house almost ten years.  That means the last time we had the interior of our house painted was almost ten years ago.   We have decided it is time to freshen up the house and get rid of the dingy marks from handprints and dog slobber.  So I am having fun picking out lighter fresher paint colors and envisioning what our house will look like with a new coat.  If you have any favorite paint colors, let me know, I’m still in the browsing phase.

New niece.  My husband and I are an uncle and aunt again.  Tom’s sister had a baby girl who surprised everyone 5 weeks early.  Because she was early she can use some prayers that she will be able to go home soon.  We cannot wait to meet her and enjoy some of that sweet baby smell and cuddles.

Spring catalogs.  The spring catalogs have been arriving in my mailbox.  I am far from buying anything because it will be months before it feels like spring in Chicago, but they are nice to look through and admire the warmer weather clothes.

The Bachelor.  I admit this show is ridiculous and I probably kill brain cells while watching it, but it is a perfect Monday night guilty winter pleasure when all you need is silly entertainment.  There is not one redeeming cultural thing about this show and it so far from real life, which is why we watch it every week.

Books.  In the last week, I have read 2 great books that I cannot get out of my head.  It has almost ruined me from starting another book (not really because if you know me, you know I always have to be reading something).  The first was A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.  It gets off to a slow start and the Russian names are a little confusing, but it is so worth it.  After the Bolshevik revolution, the Count is sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest.  Luckily, for the Count he lives in a hotel.  While he is captive, his life changes in ways he could never imagine through the people that come into his life.  The story is full of humor, spectacularly written scenes, interesting and delightful characters and an ending that, a bit unexpected, but so satisfying that I smiled through tears at the end.

The second book I just finished and cannot stop thinking about was All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood.  I cannot describe this book because a lot of what happens to the main character, Wavy, is absolutely horrible.  This story could have taken such a different turn but it ends up being a hard-fought love story.  A love story that could very easily been extraordinarily ugly but ends up being so beautiful that you cannot put it down.  And I can doubly attest to that because this book is so overdue at the library right now that I must pay many overdue fines.

Pink.  My neutral winter wardrobe of blacks and greys seems to fit the weather but often make my mood similar to the weather outside.  So lately I have been trying to add a pop of color to my wardrobe which usually means my favorite, pink.  I got a great bright pink little cashmere poncho when I was visiting May a few weeks ago.  I can add that over a long sleeve neutral tunic and legging and add a little fun to my outfit and warmth to my face.  I also have this fun necklace in pink that adds that same pop.  I have worn both several times, and am surprised how many times I get complimented.  Maybe everyone needs a little pink in their life too.

Remembering the beach.  When I visited Charleston 2 weeks ago, we went to the beach for a short time before the storms moved in.  I am remembering the feel of the sand between my toes and the treasures from the sea.

Comfort Dogs.   I fell in love with the LCC Comfort Dogs several years ago.  The Comfort Dogs are a ministry of the Lutheran Church Charities.  The dogs are all golden retrievers who are trained as therapy dogs with the sole purpose of giving comfort to people.  The dogs and their handlers provide local services at schools and nursing homes but also often travel to disaster areas such as Newtown after the shootings, Orlando this past summer and Joplin, Missouri after the tornadoes there several years ago.  The organization has a presence on Facebook and Instagram but even better each of the dogs have their own social media accounts as well.  It brings me much joy and peace to open my social media accounts and find amid all of the bad news, posts and pictures from various Comfort Dogs providing comfort to others.  Also, they have some Comfort Dogs in Training right now, so there is a lot of puppy cuteness going on.  If you need a little joy and comfort of your own search for LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and like some of their pages.

So what’s awesome today for you?  Help spread some good cheer and joy in the world. –June

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

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