Chicago: The Windy City

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In September I took a long weekend to go visit my younger-but-taller sister in downtown Chicago. I haven’t spent more than a few hours at a time with her in  years, and it’s been almost a decade since we had a couple of days together. The weather in Chicago was gorgeous, sunny and warm, and I spent hours wandering the streets and museums during the day, followed by sunset gawking out her apartment window and quiet dinners at home with lots of conversation and laughter.

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It was perfect, basically. And here I am, months later, finally getting around to posting a few pics. We spent our last morning together on the architecture cruise on both branches of the Chicago River, and I think it is safe to say that 90 minutes is one of the best tourist activities in the entire country.

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Not pictured, was almost a full day spent wandering around the Art Institute studying paintings and brush strokes and swooning over the Impressionists. This was the perfect vacation for me, and I can’t wait to go back this spring! (And this time I will make sure to give you Chicagoans a little heads up, I’d love to meet up with you for lunch or drinks or whatever!) More photos here.

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Baby steps. (Not a pregnancy announcement.)

This year has both dragged on endlessly and flown by, I am in such a different–and better–place than I was last Christmas, but it has taken a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs, to get there.

Yesterday I decided to pull up my list of 2014 New Year resolutions and see what the damage was, I knew I wouldn’t receive any gold medals (or bronze medals) for my superior Crossing Off of Resolutions this year, even though I was pretty intent on crafting resolutions that I would be manageable but require some growth. I spent a couple of weeks finalizing my goals and an action plan for completion of each one.

People, I did not fulfill a single one of my resolutions. Not a single one.

Are there reasons for that? Absolutely. Will I get in to them here? A bit, yes. It also helps explain my spectacular radio silence for the last 8 or 9 months. January came and everything got worse. A lot worse. Multiple panic attacks a week, often times once or twice a day, and some not-bloggable bombs sent me reeling. I spent a lot of time at the doctor and psychologist’s office, and I started taking some anti-anxiety medication to help me function on a regular basis. My health was…not good. My emotional health was worse. I just…goodness, I was a complete disaster most of the time.

Spring came and with it a huge amount of work responsibility, I had spent years taking on more and more projects and had finally created enough of a demand for my services that a promotion was in order, which is–on the surface–really terrific sounding. But right under that glossy new title was months and months of 10 and 12 and even 14 hour days, trying to both hire and train a replacement in addition to carving out a new position, and launching two enormous state-wide programs and initiatives that made headlines for weeks and gave me lots of warm fuzzies and lots of work-stress nightmares.

It was the best of times and the worst of times, and that enormous work stress ball lasted from February until Thanksgiving. With the help of my boss I carefully laid out about a million steps and tasks for success with draft and final deadlines built in. I put my head down and got to work. The good news is that my program launch in November went so much better than expected, our new hire is up to speed and absolutely awesome, and I am back to working 8 hour days and leaving at 5:15 on a regular basis. And they pay me more than they did a year ago. So, awesome.

Um, yes. And also, kind of no.

The thing is, I feel like I’ve lived most of this year in a stress and panic-induced fog, but a fog where I got a LOT of stuff done–none of it on my resolutions list, but even so, I accomplished a lot this year. My to-do lists were the only thing that kept me going and I’ve gone through pages and pages and pages of tasks large and small, crossing them off one by one. I’ve just started to really enjoy the clearer air and blank to do list and….and I feel like I need a new project because I am somehow, suddenly, stagnant. I feel like I’m not moving forward. I’ve had a few weeks of “normal” and I feel like I’m floundering. When everything was overwhelming I forced myself to be very efficient with my time, which helped me see consistent progress, and now I have all the time in the world and I feel like I am doing nothing worthwhile.

So…I guess it’s good news that last week we put in an offer (which was accepted) on a fixer upper house 700 miles away.

Touche, 2015.

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Bucket List: After

Months ago I happily published a whimsical list of activities I wanted to accomplish over the summer. Um, it’s almost November, ya’ll, even the occasional sunny afternoon has a bit of chill in the breeze; summer is long gone. That being said, I don’t like leaving loose ends, so, two months late, I would like to wrap up my Summer Bucket List, with annotations.

  1. Visit the farmer’s market - bonus points for riding my bike; No bonus points, but farmer’s market was visited.
  2. Wear white pants successfully Several times, even! Without spilling chocolate or salsa or anything on them!
  3. Climb a mountain, a big one; This is a big, fat, negative.
  4. Make homemade ice cream Strawberry, my grandpa’s favorite
  5. Roast marshmallows with my stepkids; Marshmallows roasted, campfire attended with stepkids, but not both things together
  6. Dangle my bare feet in a cold mountain stream
  7. Attend a bonfire – bonus points for spending the evening updating our plan for the zombie apocalypse
  8. Make out with that very handsome husband of mine, a lot
  9. Sleep under the stars – bonus points if I can see the milky way
  10. 21 days as a vegetarian; I am counting this complete, I went 13 days but this did not accomplish what I was hoping it would accomplish (healthier eating habits), so I cut out early on Harriet As A Vegetarian
  11. Go to a baseball game (one will suffice), and sit on the lawn
  12. Run a 5k for a good cause; I ran a 5k for no cause, does that count? (No.)
  13. Many, many photo walks around my neighborhood and the surrounding canyons; Nope, not a one. Fail. But I did get better at regular Instagram posting. Not the same, I know,  but it is something.
  14. Go to a rodeo, yeehaw!
  15. Hike in red rock country
  16. Read a whole pile of books, a big pile, obviously
  17. Dinner in the canyon – bonus points for cooking said dinner over an open fire
  18. Attend an outdoor concert
  19. Eat lots and lots of corn on the cob
  20. Watch the sunset from a beautiful vantage point
  21. Keep my tomato plant alive; People I harvested 5 tomatoes AND 7 green bell peppers. I’m like a pot-gardening diva! (Not really.)
  22. Make it to September without getting any tan lines (meaning, no tan, not nekkid tanning)
  23. Go to the wildflower festival, take an inordinate amount of photos
  24. Go to Food Truck Thursday for lunch
  25. Take a midnight walk, preferably with an enormous full moon and a sky full of stars
  26. Schedule a personal day off work, take myself out to brunch and get a pedicure, for no other reason than I can.
  27. Go camping
  28. Eat strawberries off the vine – bonus points if they are sun warmed
  29. Visit one of the formal gardens in my city
  30. Go on an overnight motorcycle adventure with my sweetheart; Not on a motorcycle, but there were plenty of day-long rides AND a romantic overnight getaway, so I’m counting it. Ish.

Ok, so, 21 of 30 items complete is nothing to snuff your nose at. And I didn’t even have listed the massive apartment overhaul that happened in June and July, so that has to give me a couple of bonus points in there somewhere, right? (Right.)

Is it totally uncool to attempt to rejoin the social conversation and ask you how your summer was? Or, you know, your fall?

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