Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wishin' and Hopin'

 Today.  I wish I could go back to the ocean.  The snow is cold and beautiful, but it doesn't make me turn cartwheels like the ocean did.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Event Planning Extraordinaire

I was quoted in the local newspaper, The Herald and Review, for an event that I am putting on to celebrate Martin Luther King Day.  Together with some fellow AmeriCorps VISTA members, I have planned (what I hope will be) a great event!

For AmeriCorps, MLK Day is not a day off, but a day "on" where members give back to their community by volunteering and hosting events across the nation to pay homage to the legacy of MLK.  Our event, Remembering the Dream, will feature local community leaders who have been working hard to make a difference in our community.  We want to address the question of "Where are we now on MLK's "dream" and how can we move forward locally to achieving the dream?"

I had no idea it was so easy to get publicity for your event.  All I had to do was write up a press release and send it to the Herald and Review and other local media stations (TV, Radio, etc.).  

This is just another thing I can add to my resume: Publicity Genius, Event Planning Extraordinaire.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Friend Hoarder

I like to call myself a friend hoarder.  I have been collecting friends for years now and I make a decent effort to see those friends whenever I can.  The holidays were the perfect time to have a few dates to catch up with friends I've known since pre-school or just since April.  I call this exercise Watering my Cactii (see previous post for explanation of cactus friend).

I drove in to Chicago and met up Alexa, my ex-Decatur friend who has already abandoned me for the bright lights of the big city.

Sean picked me up in the city and took me to Katie's birthday party where I drank the strongest Long Island Ice Teas I've ever had and caught up with Shane, Travis, Lauren and Justin.

My high school friend, Anna, and I traipsed around Wicker Park and talked about everything from boys to books, coffee to college.

My pre-school-through-college-and-beyond friend Mari, my one avid reader, and I had breakfast.

I ran into my friend Cameron from high school and chatted for a few minutes.

Politics friend, Amar and I went to go see the new Sherlock Holmes movie.... I loved it!

Jonathan, my college democrat/politics friend from ISU, and I went on a mini Decatur bar tour and talked about many things intelligent and silly.

Brandon, a Decatur friend that I see all the time, rented Water for Elephants and cooked me frozen dinner.  We talked about the impossibility of understanding the opposite sex.

Kathryn, my life-time-choir friend, and I sat around her living room playing with her four cats.

Meghann, my best friend from community college, cut my hair and and and and.....

Rachel, a community college friend/roommate, introduced me to her new-to-me boyfriend.  Its funny how you can pick back up with someone after 2 years apart.  Her mom and dad fed us pizza and punch. :-)

Alex, my community college friend and ISU roommate, was back from her exciting life in New York for New Year's Eve.

My friend Bekka, one half of my best match-making work, and I danced all night on New Year's Eve.

Lindsay, community college work-mate and music buddy, came back from Italy after 3 months of being an Au Pair.  SO jealous of her fabulous experience.

My college best friend, Doris, came to my family Christmas and spent the night at my childhood house for the first time.

I stopped by to see my oldest (based on number of years) best friend, Kiley.  Eloise (my cat) pooped in her mudroom.

I saw Rich for the first time since we decided to stop dating.  We had drinks and dinner and lots of great conversation.

I'd say that I am just the LUCKIEST person alive.  I have so many people who love and care about me.  I am grateful that we can pick our friendship back up and dust it off at any time.  I wish that we all had more time for each other, but I know that we are all very busy, spread across the country and the world, living our lives and pursuing our dreams.  <3

Monday, December 19, 2011

Finding a Treasure

This past summer, I read The Witch of Portobello, by Paulo Coelho.  On the cover, it said "from the best selling author of The Alchemist."  By chance, I found a 25 cent copy of this best seller at a thrift shop not too long afterwards.  However, I did not read it at the time because I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire.  

Yesterday I finally started reading The Alchemist.

Today I finished it at lunch time. 

What a WONDERFUL little story.

A shepherd starts out on a journey to fulfill his "Personal Legend" after a gypsy interprets a reoccurring dream.  Along the way, he learns to understand the Language of the World to interpret omens which lead him to his treasure. 

A few things I love about the book:

In the story, none of the characters are named, save one.  They are referred to as "the boy," "the englishman," and "the alchemist," etc.  Fatima is the only character who is named.  This makes her name very special and it makes her very special.

I could not choose any one phrase in the story that stood out from the others.  I don't say this because the whole story was unremarkable, I say this because each phrase was so beautiful and meaningful, that they should not be taken out of context.  However, I did choose ooone....

This story was written with a beautiful innocence and simplicity.  It is easy to read, easy to understand, and easy to love.  Open the book, open your mind and open your heart.

What is your Personal Legend?  What dream are you chasing?  What do you want but are afraid to go after?  What is holding you back? 


"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Love Loving Books

I found this 30-day book challenge, but I decided to answer all of the questions at once because I never post anything consecutively for 30 days, but I do love to talk about books!

  1. Best book you read last year: The Cure for the Modern Life by Lisa Tucker
  2. A book that you've read more than 3 times: Harry Potter.  All of them.  
  3. Your favorite series: Harry Potter and A Song of Ice and Fire
  4. Favorite book of your favourite series: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; All of them except A Feast for Crows in A Song of Ice and Fire
  5. A book that makes you happy: Alice in Wonderland
  6. A book that makes you sad: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.  Such a tragic story.  I'm like my mother.  I hate when bad things happen to children in stories.
  7. Most underrated book: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Beautiful story that most people have never heard of.
  8. Most overrated book: The Great Gatsby.  I HATE that book and every character in it!
  9. A book you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving: Pretty Little MistakesThe cover (and title) were trite, but it was a really neat idea.  A choose your own ending book (like my old favorite Goosebump books) for adults!
  10. Favorite classic book: Jane Eyre.
  11. A book you hated: Lolita. I have never before HATED a book so much.  I could not even finish it.  The characters are disgusting and I couldn't handle it.
  12. A book you used to love but don’t anymore:  TwilightI read the first 3 books, then realized they were moronic and had bad moral lessons that I didn't want to learn and I don't want other young girls to learn.
  13. Your favorite writer:  Jane Austen, Lisa Tucker, John Steinbeck
  14. Favorite book of your favorite writer: Persuasion, Jane Austen
  15. Favorite male character:  Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister, A Song of Ice and Fire
  16. Favorite female character: Hermione Granger, Harry Potter; Lizzie Bennett, Pride and Prejudice
  17. Favorite quote from your favorite book: "Reading is the magic key, it takes you where you want to be." from the Allice in Bibleland stories that my mother used to read with me when I was little.
  18. A book that disappointed you: The NotebookThe movie was So much more engaging. The book was written for 5th graders.
  19. Favorite book turned into a movie: Pride and PrejudiceThe Keira Kightly version is my absolute favorite movie of all time.
  20. Favorite romance book:  Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson.  It is so sweet and sappy.  I loved it.
  21. Favorite book from your childhood: Can't You Sleep Little Bear? by Martin Waddell
  22. Favorite book you own:  I own all of my favorite books!  I hoard books.
  23. A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.
  24. A book that you wish more people would've read:  Catch-22.  I mean, I know that TONS of people have read this book.  But it never seems to be on anyone's reading list.  So few of my friends have read it.
  25. A character who you can relate to the most: Athena from The Witch of Portobello
  26. A book that changed your opinion about something: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
  27. The most surprising plot twist or ending:  A Game of ThronesThe whole series is full of twists and turns, but after the first book you aren't quite as shocked when something shocking happens.
  28. Favorite title: A Game of Thrones.  Its a clever little phrase.
  29. A book everyone hated but you liked: I haven't really read any books that other people say they hated....
  30. Your favorite book of all time:  I will never answer this question.  My favorite book of all time is always the one I'm reading right now.
Some questions I've added:
  1. The book you recommend to others the most: The Red Tent by Anita Diament
  2. Favorite genre to read:  Fantasy or Classic Romance
  3. Last book you read:  A Dance with Dragons, the more recent book in A Song of Ice and Fire series.
  4. Book you are reading now: Love's Labor's Lost.  Every once in a while I need a bit o' Shakespeare back in my life. 

A Reader....

I just finished A Dance with Dragons, by George R.R. Martin.  I will be writing a whole post about A Song of Ice and Fire, but for now, I just want to leave you with a quotation.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one.” 

And that is why I love to read!  I have lived many lives thus far, hopefully I will have lived a thousand before I die.

Maybe I'll get "A reader lives a thousand lives" as a tattoo someday...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Relationships are Key

An important part of my role as an AmeriCorps VISTA is to enhance the capacity of my organization to run smoothly after I am gone.  For this reason, I am writing a manual for the next person who comes in to fill my position, since I will most likely not be here to help them transition.  

Here is an expert from the "Lessons Learned" section of my manual:

Make friends with all of the member of the council.  If they like you, they will be more likely to call you back, more likely to open your e-mails and more likely to come to the meetings.  They will be more likely to volunteer to be on subcommittees.  It just works.  Don’t be shy; don’t be rude.  Persistence is key. Put aside your own personality preferences and find something in common with everyone.  Make an appointment with them to sit down and get to know them.  Write down some questions that you’d like answered about who they are, what they do and why they do it.  The conversation will usually get off topic, but that is where some of the real relationship building starts.  

As the saying goes, "It's not what you know, but who you know."  Certainly, you need to know some stuff to get very far.  One of the things you need to know (or learn) is how to know people.  If you don't know them, find a way to know them.

The idea of a Juvenile Justice Council is to foster relationships between all relevant stakeholders working in prevention, diversion and intervention for youth.  By working together, we can achieve so much more than when we try to do all of the work ourselves.  Of course, this doesn't just hold true for our council, but for any project, vision or goal that you may have, be it personal or professional.