Saturday, November 13, 2010

Self-Confidence

Confidence in one's self is learned.  As we grow, we expand our skills through crawling, walking, falling, jumping, riding, falling, scraped knees, black & blue legs from learning to play on the monkey bars.  We find our comfort zone, our place in the world every step of the way.  Sometimes we find that we feel we don't belong, but even that is a place in the world.

Some of us find that we naturally excel at many things we try, and even those that do not come naturally we work hard at to excel.  It becomes our identification, "we excel at all costs".  I find the higher you climb at a young age, the further you have to fall when life takes a swing and connects.  Life is always taking swings, but if you're lucky it does not connect very often, however when it does, the affects can be devastating.  As adults, we believe we can handle either everything that comes our way, or at the very least most things.  We have learned to cope with many things throughout our lives, switching from bottles to sippy cups, the loss of a favorite blanket or toy, stopping sucking our thumb or pacifier, maybe even the loss of a beloved pet or other family member.  But those things happen outside of us.  What happens when it is our own skill that betrays us?  What happens when a typicall excellent student fails a test?  What happens when an over-achiever stops achieving?  That pedastal you are standing on is high and the fall a harsh one.  It can be devastating.

I pose these questions to start a dialogue.  I also posit them to suggest that those over-achievers prepare themselves for the fall before it happens.  As an extension to that, realize that the things that happen outside of you are just that and out of your control.  I heard once you can only control yourself and your reaction to people and events, not the people and events themselves.  But what happens when it is you that you are unable to control?  What happens when you betray you?

Suggestions?  Advice?  Input?  Of course I have some of my own, you evaluate what happened, you decide how to get better and then you do better.  Right?
I look forward to the comments.
Windy City Diva

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Green Life

Through the woods, the trees all looked like perfect Christmas trees, which would be great if that is what we're looking for.  There in the clearing was a unique specimen.  We smiled in agreement knowing it was the one to climb.  Climbing that tree to photograph the view was well worth it.  The contrived tree rends a healthy workload.

To my regular readers, no I have not lost what is left of my mind, this is an assignment.
Windy City Diva

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lessons in the Breeze, Novel Excerpt

"This cool, refreshing breeze sitting on the deck with the glass of red wine is just what the doctor ordered.  The beautiful blonde dog is not mine, but she has seen fit to become my companion on this deck.  Oddly, I welcome the silent partner.  She doesn’t ask much of me, which is perfect since I haven’t much to give.

My dreams lately have been forcing me to confront people and situations of the past with an ominous foreboding of how a next meeting may go.  After several consecutive nights of this, I have decided the message my sub-conscious is not so subtly trying to convey is for me to stop looking back.  Stop regretting.  I know it consciously, but apparently I have more to process.

My second glass of Shiraz by 2:30 in the afternoon may seem a bit excessive, but with the world crashing in on my chest like a baby elephant settling in for a nap, it is quite necessary."
                                          
  ~~ excerpt from "Leap of Faith" my novel in the works

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Allergies in Children, per a Parent

I want to share with my readers an experience about allergies in children and maybe it not only applies to your children, but maybe to you.  My son has a history of spring allergies since he was 2 or so and Zyrtec-D was used to manage them for 5 or so years and then they seemed to just go away.  Well, they are back but they are no longer spring allergies.  Saturday he was suddenly sniffly and whiny as only a teenage boy accustomed to feeling healthy can.  I gave him an Allegra which has been our daytime "allergy cure all" as needed.  He complained bitterly hours later that nothing worked and was sneezing out a fur ball again.  The Allegra is a 12 hour dose so I made him wait the appropriate time and promptly forgot. 

A side note about the offending allergen.  He had spent the night at a friend's house who has a cat, so I suspected his mild allergy had been violently shoved into a true allergy.  But that being the allergen could mean the reaction would subside now that he was away from the cat, ergo the forgetting. 

Sunday morning was harsh.  He hadn't slept and was CRANKY.  I gave him liquid Benadryl thinking this would allow him to clear up and function.  The liquid one is supposed to be the non-drowsy formula.  Note: IT'S NOT!  He did not wake up until almost 2:30 in the afternoon.  I administered another Allegra thinking this could easily be just left over from the interaction with the cat.  Monday, I treated it with Allegra as needed.  Then today, Tuesday he was a gut-wrenching, fur ball hacking, stopped up, runny nose, sneezy mess.  In passing, my cousin told me it's ragweed season and it is high right now.  I spoke with my mother within five minutes of that conversation and she is or was also allergic to ragweed.  Fortunately, my younger cousin is also allergic to many things and takes Zyrtec.  That reminded me that my son took Zyrtec when he was little and it worked wonderfully.  I practically ran to Walgreens for Zyrtec-D.

I am delighted to report that within an hour of him taking the one 12 hour tablet (with Gatorade, yogurt and chicken broth/noodle soup - homemade, no preservatives), he was wandering the halls again! 

My message... know what's in your family, know what works for your kids and be prepared for "childhood" illnesses to rear their ugly heads at random, unspecified times.

11/9/11 Editor's Note: This article is repeated in the health blog.

Entertainment Review: Davenport's Piano Bar, Chicago

The room was empty at 8:50PM and full by 9:20PM.  The music began promptly at 9 PM with the piano/vocalist crooning the standards.  He was not offensive and fairly pleasant sounding.  My friend commented he sounds like every other piano lounge singer, every song sounds the same, which when you think about it, that could be worse.  But then a female vocalist grabbed the mic and belted out a couple of show tunes that were far better than average.  Get this!  She worked there as a hostess.  It was great.  Then another female vocalist took the mic and she was our waitress.  Again, belting out hit songs & show tunes we all know and love with perfect pitch.

The service was reasonably good, the drink (Vodka/Tonic) was good and the crowd was a pleasant group of friends who all seemed to know each other.  The environment was conducive for our private conversation, their party and I'm sure other small groups.  It is not a large venue, but certainly fits several small groups wanting to do their own thing.  The piano is situated in the middle which easily allows the music to be heard and interacted with from everywhere in the lounge.

Davenport's also has a cabaret show, but we did not venture into there.  I will and will give you a review.  Please let me know if this helped you select trying this place or if there is other information I should include in the review.  The website is http://www.davenportspianobar.com/

Windy City Diva

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Abandoned Pets-An Uplifting Story

I have been hearing on the news of the rash of pets being abandoned or put up for adoption due to inability to feed them or care for them. That may have touched my home this week. My son found a small dog alone in our local dog park. Other dog owners were there but were unable to take him in, so with the choice of calling animal control, my son brought him home.


Our dog doesn’t seem to mind him, but she also doesn’t seem to be sure if he is a puppy or a toy. For certain the little guy can only take so much of her trying to clean him, and who can’t understand that. She had a litter of puppies a little over a year ago and keeps trying to clean him, but alas, he is not receptive. By the end of 24 hours together, they seem to have agreed to steer clear of each other. That works for me, because this little dog would not have much of a chance against ours since she had 8 rather rowdy puppies whom she had to put the “smack down” on often.

Upon finding this little guy at 10:30 PM on Sunday night, we decided to divide and conquer. I followed him around the house making sure he did not decide to mark his territory, while my son set about making a flier. Our thought is that he was abandoned in a dog park hoping a dog owner would take him in. He was freshly groomed, and still had a collar indentation in the little bit of fur that remained. He is house broken, sweet and very well-behaved. I am hopeful that he was just lost and some passerby put him in the dog park thinking that would at least keep him safe and out of traffic. My son and the other dog park visitors say that is wishful thinking, but we are putting up fliers to give a pet family a chance to recover their dog in case he is just lost. If he isn’t, we will find him a good doggie home, even if it is ours.

My son immediately looked on the AKC website to try to determine his breed (or as close as we can get). He decided on an English Toy Spaniel and designed a quick, “Found Dog” flier. Monday morning, he went about printing and distributing the fliers after walking 2 dogs twice, and one he had to carry in and out. He visited our local vet and pet care stores, of which there are five in our immediate area. Also, on Monday I posted on FB to see if anyone was interested in this little guy because I would rather not keep him.  I’m fairly certain our dog would rather us not keep him as well, if he isn’t going to play with her.  A former classmate of mine recently had her dog get out of the yard and has not returned home, so she would love to have this little guy.

This particular abandoned doggie story has a happy ending. I can only hope there are other big hearts out there like my son’s, and other divine interventions such as bringing this little guy into my classmate’s life just at the right time. I am sharing this story in hopes that others will think just a little beyond themselves and extend a helping hand, just as I’m sure this little guy’s family was hoping someone would do when they made the decision to leave him there. I am not by any means condoning abandoning your dog in a dog park, or any other public place, nor the act itself, by any stretch. But I do believe you have to be desperate to abandon your beloved family member, and I feel badly for this family for their loss. I do wish they had put a string with a note around his neck giving his name and confirmation that he needed a new family. “Little Guy” or “Rhino” or whatever his new family calls him will have a happy ending.

Windy City Diva

Friday, August 6, 2010

Customer Service - A Dying Art?

As small business owners we have to be extremely focused on providing customer service since every customer is important for cash flow, referrals and repeat business.  We understand the necessity of phone calls, following through on promises and remembering the role of the customer in our business.

I think the larger, established companies have forgotten the essential role of customer service and customer satisfaction.  In the last several months I have witnessed a myriad of assaults on the entire premise of "customer service". 

Remember!
If you promise a contract or proposal by a certain date and time - deliver.
If you promise a call back with status or information, do the research and make the call when promised.
Most importantly, provide the service you are paid to provide and give refunds when you do not.  It is called integrity.

On my list of never do business with again because of lack of customer service:
  1. ServiceMaster - added to the growing list today.
  2. HP
  3. Ameriplan
  4. Sprint
  5. ComEd
There's more and I will update it, but it is really a reminder that the larger your enterprise, the more difficult to control quality.

Windy City Diva

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Forgiveness of Self

Forgiveness and Gratitude...

I find myself thinking about choices made in the past and trying to reconsider whether I made the right decisions.  I have always believed that a healthy dose of self-reflection was, well, healthy.  I am sure on some level it is, but when it becomes debilitating it ceases to serve a positive purpose.  This is where forgiveness comes in.  If in reflecting on a decision you (or I) decide it was not the best of the choices, though it seemed so at the time, the necessary next steps are to find the lesson, forgive yourself and then be grateful for the new knowledge.  That, my friends is the hardest part, forgiving yourself.  It is much easier to forgive a partner for cheating, or a sibling for being mean or even a best-friend for betrayal, but to forgive oneself, that is a difficult task.  I believe the reason is because we hold ourselves to the highest standard.  We expect highly of others on the same level as of ourselves, but at some sub-conscious depth we expect others to falter in some way and disappoint us.  But do we give ourselves that same break and that same allowance?  I believe not.  I know not of myself.

I have always believed if I thought through the entire decision, wrote down the pros and cons, completed the appropriate due diligence on all options apparent to me and my trusted council, and made a decision based on that information, then the decision must be the right one.  I have learned a new lesson recently, it is not about right or wrong, it is about the "best decision at the time".  Based on all information available and the emotional factors, that makes it the right decision. 

Now I am the first to tell someone that they need to remove emotional facets of a decision as much as possible, though I know that is difficult and sometimes impossible.  But I am sure everyone can agree that while some decisions are strictly emotional, others should not be.

The point of this thought eruption is to encourage myself and others to stop wallowing in past decisions since they can not be changed.  If you can learn a lesson from either the decision-making process or the decision itself or even the result of the decision, fantastic, but the bottom line and ending result really needs to be that you accept the decision you made and move forward.  I will continue on this line of thinking in near future blogs.  Take the journey within with me.

Windy City Diva

Monday, August 2, 2010

Je Pense... American Made, American Products Please

Je pense... and everyone has been entitled to my "I think" statements since I was 2.

What brings this particular topic to mind is BP and the plethora of other malfunctions we have seen this year from foreign companies and foreign made products.
The list of recalls is increasing and who really believes Toyota at this point?
    Haven't we had enough of the imported goods that are not really "goods"?
        Haven't we had enough of the loss of jobs and the loss of quality checks by the US?

People can complain about big government, the oversight and even the cost of the oversight! But what about the cost of job loss because manufacturing has been sent overseas? What about the loss of life because of poor quality measures? What about the cost of treatment for lead poisoning?
I think American companies need to bring American goods manufacturing back into the United States and boycott any companies who insist on selling inferior products made in foreign countries to pad their bottom line. We may need to go back to a simpler time of having less trinkets, because let's face it, how many toy necklaces and Happy Meal toys do our kids really need?  I have personally thrown away no less than one hundred of those broken little pieces of junk.  There are empty warehouses littered across our country, right next to the empty dinner tables due to the job loss and landfills full of the junk being sent here that we discard because it wasn't worth keeping.
What do you think?

Windy City Diva

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"They're the Professionals"

"They're the professionals" is what my 16 year old son has said a couple of times within the last 7 - 10 days.  Both my mother and I have challenged that in the way that we want him to take into consideration everyone who studies something and accomplishes some letters behind their names is technically, "a professional" in their industry.  BUT you have to be able to see the wizard behind the screen. 

Their conversation was about the FDA and when my mom said something wasn't good for you, he said, but they are the professionals.  My mother pointed out to him that they have to recall drugs and other items, so even professionals make mistakes and sometimes you have to do the research yourself.  He was receptive, or so I thought.

Just today we were watching something and I commented that the colors selected for the bedroom were not appropriate, not conducive for good sleeping.  Again, he said, "they're the professionals".  I again, explained to him that all professionals are not created equal.  True, the room decor was attractive, but the colors were bright & vibrant and anyone who studies colors and they're affect on the brain, psyche and relaxation.  He said, "oh".

I think it is important to make sure children understand that input and opinions are just that, and that professionals can read the same materials but end up with different opinions on the same subject and details.  It happens all of the time in politics and they are all professionals.

Windy City Diva

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Carb Free Eating

Hello Readers!

I was recently told to have a no carb diet for at least 30 days to clear my system and then slowly add it back.  Now in case that just sounds like "modern health mumbo-jumbo" it is what I thought as well, but it is worth giving it a shot to not land back in l'hotel hospitale for another week

The big issue with this new plan is, I live on pasta!  Live on it from lunch to dinner, and I am sure some of you know that all of the good breakfast foods have carbs.  I was told I could keep my oatmeal for breakfast since it is a whole grain, but the rest...waffles, pancakes, french toast, scones, even some yogurt, all of it, gone.  I know it is only for 30 days, but it is a challenge.  I am quickly empathizing with people who diet regularly and do not succeed for one reason or another.  I could always appreciate that it was difficult, but this feels like modern torture.  I end up with something in my hand, mouth watering ready to eat it, and then I remember, "does it have carbs"; or my son will say, "Mom, you can't have that.".  Sakes alive my entire kitchen has to be replaced.

This is going to take some work, some help and a whole lot of focus.  I am accustomed to eating anything I want, when I want and as often as I want.  I just found chicken pot pies on sale!  They are not good for you, but they aren't that bad either.  I will miss them.

There is one other component to this diet that may take even more thought, like not drinking water with food and waiting 2 hours after you eat to drink it.  Okay, so when I am well and back out eating and drinking, what does one do to cut the alcohol intake and stave off a hangover, even a mild one?  Hmm???  Cosmopolitan PLUS Dinner (that does not include Pasta) PLUS Water PLUS Cosmopolitan MINUS Water EQUALS mild Hangover.  I will have to figure this out...  any methods known that work??

If you have any great no carb, no seafood or pork recipes, send them my way please.  I have very few foods that I just don't or won't eat but those are the three big categories.  Encouraging words are always welcomed!  I will try to blog my progress and digression with it.  As I learn more about my health challenge, I will share on the chance that it may help someone else with a health issue.

Thanks,
Windy City Diva

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Weathering Business Storms

Chicago Weather Similar to Business Storms...

The storms that rolled through the city and surrounding neighborhoods today remind me of the turmoil that can suddenly and randomly hit small companies. As you build and operate your business you may experience some ups and downs much like the storm. You can see them coming but there is nothing you can do about it except weather it and clean up whatever mess it leaves in its wake.

Having “cleaned up” many storm aftermaths I can tell you it starts with one step, assessing the damage. After you have assessed the damage, the next step is to prioritize the clean-up. Third, gather any assistance or professional support you need, and last jump in with both feet. Now obviously if it is your flooded basement, make sure there are no live wires in the basement. Equally, make sure you have cleared any and all live wires in your business storm somewhere in the assessing the damage stage.

Good luck and happy cleaning.

Windy City Diva

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Comraderie on CTA

I had one of those experiences today that reminds me why it is so great to live in a large city with public transportation. Have you ever experienced that moment with a stranger where you know you are thinking the exact same thing in that moment? Or that you are reacting to something that just occurred or was said, and when you meet the eyes of someone nearby you share that feeling? Frequently, when riding the public transportation system in a large city, riders are either trying not to meet someone’s gaze or trying to hide the fact that they were staring. But occasionally, you welcome that moment of connection.


I was riding the train (CTA) and a man made one of those disgusting sounds that only men can make with their throats. It was disturbing to hear since you were within breathing distance of whatever air & liquid came out with that very “productive” hack. The train was fairly full but only four of us seemed to notice this disgusting display. We were all women. Individually, we all tuned our faces up in disgust and even noticeably shrugged in our shoulders as if to shield ourselves from whatever germ matter may have come our way somehow through the recycled air system on the train. It was the point where we all noticed each other that made that moment. That moment where you meet someone’s eyes and know exactly what they are thinking and share it silently. We simultaneously looked from one to the other and now our disgust was amusement that we had all reacted the same way, and that the others around us, men including my son, seemed oblivious to the hack. We silently chuckled, randomly meeting each other’s eyes from one to the other, each of us occasionally glancing in the offenders’ direction. I guess we were looking to see if he noticed that we were grossed out by him, or that we were laughing or for me, did he grab a handkerchief to catch whatever small animal came out the next time. Nothing. He continued to lean on the window, resting, never noticing that he had fully grossed out four women but created a moment of camaraderie. The four of us represented an assortment of racial backgrounds but in that moment we were just women. The CTA is the best public transportation system and I love Chicago for having it. This is just one of the reasons why.

Windy City Diva

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chicago's Weather & Event Planning

The wind conditions of yesterday remind me of one of the major items with event planning - timing.  When considering any event the planner should always consider the climate of the destination.  Spring/Summer in Chicago is beautiful, windy, rainy, warm, cool... all of the temperatures can flow through Chicago sometimes on the same day. 

However, if you are planning an event where people need to either fly in or drive in, you may want to make sure there is a day or evening prior and after for your guests to arrive and leave safely.  This is also a great reason to have your event near the most common (preferably pre-selected) accommodations.  Chicago has everything to offer guests, excellent cuisine options, live music of every genre, accommodations for groups, individuals, families, corporations and even pet friendly. 

There are events and activities throughout the year to plan your event around, but again, I caution you to consider any out of town guests and even those who have to drive in from the suburbs. If you can arrange discount or group accommodations, especially during the more inclement seasons in Chicago, your guests will not only appreciate it, but are more likely to attend.


Thank you for reading and contact me for any planning assistance I can help you with.

Windy City Diva

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Retooling, Redesigning... Progress

This 30 day blog challenge has enlightened me already about my potential as a blogger and maybe what the main challenge is - topic or subject balance!  I write about topics all across the board so how do I gather an audience interested in something who will read what I have to say?  Well I have it figured out now, maybe.  I have two different blog sites and I always intended for them to be different and separate and that is how I should direct my focus.  I really appreciate this challenge for getting me to focus on writing regularly and reading other's blogs and information.  That has helped me focus and redesign.

One blog for entertainment around Chicago (my business) and one for my musings and sounding off (my passions)!  It's perfect.  So if you are following me on this one because you enjoy my random musings, inspirational thoughts as I get them or find them, visit me at http://reneethewriter.spaces.live.com/ If your interest however is Chicago and all things entertainment in Chicago, stay here.  I would love it and appreciate it if you follow both! :-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

10 in 1 Liquid Vitamin

I started the vitamin 3 days ago, well 4 but somehow I missed a day in there. It has an interesting orange vitamin flavor.

Last night I slept pretty well, and woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed more than 2 hours before I normally wake up. I was productive today without an energy lull. Was that the vitamin? I don’t know. But I am guessing we will be able to tell through this journal.

I still have the headache (it is at 45 days now with several at migraine level). I am looking forward to that being relieved by any means necessary.

I researched many of the ingredients in the vitamin and they are very potent and pure. No sugar added and no artificial sweeteners like aspartame which I am allergic to. That is a different blog tangent for a different day.

So the short list of my health issues – asthma, headaches, sleeplessness (generally related to the asthma) and some joint issues from early sports injuries. I will track the progress of these specifically.

This article is part of my blog challenge and this is DAY 3.

Windy City Diva

Monday, June 14, 2010

Live Music Industry in Chicago

Chicago’s music industry is legendary worldwide. The variety, availability and even the multiple types of venues to enjoy it in, make it one of the best.  The Blues Festival this past weekend is reported as being attended by international guests annually.  My mother personally loves the Jazz Fest later in the summer, and I know many people who wait anxiously for Lollapalooza. 

My personal preference is the restaurant or lounge setting with a live piano player, a vocalist, a small band or group performing The Standards, Motown and Pop music. Where has that gone?  This type of music is & was typically performed in restaurants and lounges, sometimes with cigar bars.  Dance floors for a little swing, bop, cha-cha as you are inspired by the music.


The restaurant industry in Chicago has taken a major hit, and I am sure nationally. Unfortunately, that has translated into many of the restaurants that once offered this live music I love & miss so much, Tuesday through Saturday like 200 East on Chestnut being closed.

Eli’s, The Place for Steak formerly on Chicago Avenue closed many years ago and a children’s hospital is being built where it stood for 25 plus years. Eli’s had a live piano player/vocalist Hal Roach. He is a phenomenal pianist and could be heard tickling the ivories and belting the standards 6 – 7 days a week. Even the Hyatt on Wacker Drive had live music in their Big Bar at least 4-5 days a week (Wednesday – Saturday). There was a dance floor and great bands there like, The Moods www.the-moods.com and other local talent.

Every weekend and throughout the week, there was somewhere to go for good food, great live music (The Standards, Motown, Pop), a little dancing and building a relationship with community business owners. There were so many to choose from. Where are they now???? I am going on a hunt for them and will report back. If you have any recommendations in DOWNTOWN CHICAGO only, please send them.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Spelling Bees & Education Today

Bob Schieffer's commentary today on "Face the Nation" was on an article or commentary from some news person in NY who had a problem with all of the attention given to the Spelling Bee.  His reaction was shock at why the newscaster would think it is not important to teach spelling.  He even said something to the effect of, "we should teach kids to write with subtlety" instead of text language.  This struck me because my son, who is an 11th grader recently mentioned that he has a vocabulary test to take in his class this summer and hasn't had one since 4th grade.  There have been a few spelling tests along the way, but not vocabulary.  I  have made sure he knew the meaning of words he was learning to spell, but it was not required by the teachers.  That was disappointing.

I have also noticed an easing in the editing of his papers.  I have seen papers turned in by my son that were easily a B- but they received an A with no edits.  I worry about the quality of writing being "dumbed down" a bit.  I know there are edits available in every software and spell check but shouldn't students be able to write a letter by hand and know the difference between there and their, how to use them properly and even spell recession without hitting spell check. 

Schieffer admitted he was a horrible speller, as a former winner of Spelling Bees and someone who receives phone calls asking how to spell words, I agree with him, it is very important that kids know vocabulary.

Windy City Diva

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Epiphany

I had an epiphany today and I thought I would share it. I, like everyone have made decisions that in retrospect were probably not the best even though they may have seemed so at the time. In the last 2 or 3 years I have reflected on many of my decisions and regretted them. I kept telling myself that I had to reflect and dissect in order to not repeat them. But I really think I have been attracting the same types of activity and decision patterns. Today I realized that regretting these decisions and then focusing on them to dissect them only holds me back. I know this is not new information but it is certainly eye-opening for me because I really thought I was doing the right thing by trying to learn from my choices that I don't in retrospect care for. Learn yes, wallow in, no. That is the epiphany. I can and should learn from them but without staying so focused that I'm living in it.

WCD

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chicagoans & Sports

We are definitely a sports town. I was recently asked if Chicagoans pay attention to all sports or just specific ones. Now, who would answer such a general question and be so bold as to speak for “all Chicagoans”? Me. I answered , “we love all of our teams even if we don’t follow the sport”, and I proceeded to list the Chicago teams of all of the sports including the ones I don’t necessarily follow but I certainly knew their names and whether or not they are doing well. I named many sports bars to attend The listener was skeptical and a little shocked that I was so sure that Chicagoans support “all sports Chicago” but I think I was vindicated today. 2 million people on Michigan Avenue and running through the streets after the Blackhawks in support of them winning the Stanley Cup.

Chicagoans love our sports teams! We support our lovable losers year after year and when our teams win we show our appreciation of them.

WCD

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chicago's Farmer Market Review

All things Chicago! And one of the best is the Farmer's Market in Daley Plaza on Thursdays in the summer. I happened across it today and was pleasantly reminded of good old, farm-grown Midwestern American Fare!


The fragrance of the fresh flowers drew me in that direction. I saw the stands as I approached and got super excited. I was instantly lifted by the day. It helped that the fountain in front of the Daley Center had red water in support of the Blackhawks. GO HAWKS!!!

My first stand was possibly the best. I bought Apple Butter and Peach Butter at an Amish stand. They are from Middleburg, IN. I have shopped with them over the years in their community and the food is always fresh & wonderful. I was happy to see them there. They have everything from fresh, baked breads to pastries and jellies. Their banana bread is a treat.

I found a new, fabulous bakery that is actually local. It was a difficult decision between the kolackis, macaroons, pierogies, breads and pastries galore! But I selected Apple Cinnamon Bread. Now! I have to tell you one thing – the Apple Butter on the fresh-baked Cinnamon Apple Bread may very well be a little trip to heaven. The bakery is called Delightful Pastries & is located at 5927 W. Lawrence Ave. www.delightfulpastries.com I have added their card to my file! The baker was there to answer any questions. The guy gave me a great idea that I think I will try tomorrow – make French toast with it! Now that’s a plan!

There were fresh farm stands with vegetables like asparagus, apples and strawberries. A bunch of asparagus at one stand was only $2. For the opportunity to cook, eat & serve farm fresh vegetables, it was well worth the detour.

I found the scents that had drawn me in! There were a couple of stands of fresh cut flowers, fresh blooming plants in full bloom and even fresh plants of cilantro and other spices. If you are looking for bamboo or bonsai trees, they have those too. If I had been driving, my balcony would be floral scented right now!

It is heart-warming to be reminded of family-owned businesses, farms that are working to bring us fresh foods and the opportunity to support them. I probably spent $30 but what I felt in solidarity with farms & local people working together to keep us all working and well-fed is immeasurable. Chicago gives you the opportunity to do and be whoever you are. That’s why it’s my town, Chicago!

Windy City Diva

Vitamin Supplements that WORK!

Arthritic knees – lubricated; restless sleepy nights – eliminated; lulling energy because of restless nights – energy up! Here’s how!


I recently learned about a new vitamin supplement that has real potential to be beneficial (another health topic). With all of my recent health challenges my mom went seeking a liquid multi-vitamin. (Liquid vitamins as many of you may know have a higher level of absorption and for those of us with aversions to pills, are easier to take.) She not only found one for me, but found some healing for herself.

She has been taking this supplement for 3 weeks now and is already feeling benefits. First her knees, which are typically stiff from arthritis have been easier to move standing up from low places or after sitting for extended periods.  Since she has been taking this super powered liquid multi-vitamin, she can stand without getting stuck.  My mom reports that she is sleeping through the night and waking up feeling the best she has in years.  Typically, she has to take a sleeping aid once or twice a week to sleep through the night.  She is the most well-rested and has more energy during the day.  I have placed my order and am looking forward to starting on it myself.  I will certainly blog specifically about it as I start taking it in a week or so when I receive it.

Windy City Diva

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Allergies as a Gateway

You may have noticed that I am hyper focused on health the last several days. It could be because of my migraine or my overall “icky” health this past month.

A month or so ago my allergies went beyond the reach of my Allegra and turned into something ugly. I had to really crank the meds, water and all of the other recommended treatments to survive the symptoms. According to multiple reports nationally, this season of spring allergies has been one of the worst with the early rains.1 Somehow knowing that does not make it any easier, or does it?

It seems that allergies can weaken your immune system which can allow a virus to attack, or you come in contact with a virus and simply treat it as if it were allergies. I apparently just experienced such a perfect storm; which then set off torrent of headaches, lung pain (from the coughing and post nasal drip) irritating my asthma, migraines, etc.  You see where I am going with this. Allergies can be a gateway irritant to weaken your system and allow other ailments to pile on or rear their ugly heads.  This was new information to me, so I thought I would share it.

I thought I was taking care of my allergies but apparently when the allergy season hits, whatever yours is, it would behoove you to tightly manage and be proactive with your allergy symptoms.  I recently found an interesting Website that provides updates by location. www.pollenlibrary.com I hope this helps someone, anyone.  This probably falls in my patient awareness category.


1. http://www.examiner.com/x-49599-Pittsburgh-Health-and-Beauty-Examiner~y2010m6d7-Allergy-season-in-full-swing and http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37580959

Patient Advocacy

Health is not something we should ever take for granted. I have seen very ill people in my family and in my general surroundings. One thing I truly value is my health, although sometimes it seems very fragile. One lesson I have learned through all of my experiences with health and hospitals is, understand your diagnosis. Understand, not know what the doctor said, but actually understand it. Ask questions until you do, no matter how long it takes, or how many different ways you have to ask the question.

From many medical, social studies it is determined that certain age groups, races and genders are the ones least likely to not only seek health care, but to ask questions and even to seek out a second opinion. Older generations tend to see physicians they have a standing relationship with as the one and only answer. This can really be a death sentence.  Additionally, women tend to be more likely to take care of their families rather than themselves. And finally, minorities are the highest group that will postpone seeing a doctor and therefore potentially receive a life-saving early diagnosis, but compound that with not receiving treatment timely to save their lives. There are of course cultural dynamics that I am not bringing up here, this is more or less the summary of my years of not only personal experience but the research I have gathered through my hobby, patient advocacy.

I implore you as you read this… take your own symptoms seriously and encourage your family members to do the same. Once you get yourself to go to the doctor, ask questions until you understand. If you think you may not be following, ask to reschedule a consultation and take someone with you. I attend my mother’s appointments periodically just to make sure there is a “second ear” in the room. It is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.  Your physician should NOT mind.  I will recommend this (with a heavy breath), please be sensitive to your appointment time, and if you have many questions that are not immediate to your care, it might be better to schedule a consultation time.  That is not to say walk out of the office not knowing how to take a prescription later that night or what follow-up tests to schedule.  But, if there are dietary changes, or habits then it is probably best to schedule another appointment.

Happy health to all.
Windy City Diva

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fraud Career Claims??

Are you a fraud in your career or in some area of your life? And is it a good thing?


Fraud is a funny word. According to www.websters.com there are several definitions of fraud, but the one that appears most relevant to this topic is “a person who makes deceitful pretenses; sham; poseur”.

Have you heard the phrase, “fake it ‘till you make it”? I have. I am in the process of retooling my life and in so doing, I am claiming my new future every chance I get. My church always taught you to claim the good things in life and God will help you bring it into reality if it is for you. Even the law of attraction says what you focus on, you bring about by drawing it to you. I could quote many clich├ęs but I think you get the point. I certainly do.

So here is my quandary, why do I feel like a fraud? And how do I stop? I am not trying to deceive anyone by claiming my rightful future that I am working towards. I am actually trying to make sure the universe and my spirit know where I am trying to go. That does not make me a fraud does it? My supportive friend says no, as does an article I just read on the Oprah site, but how do I stop feeling like I am presenting myself as something I am not? There was an article with tips how to do it and the two parts I have to increase are the visualizing and the action. From that article, I have my vision board up and in front of me and am writing this blog to increase my visibility and my practice writing.

I of course currently still feel a little like a fraud but hopefully the more I claim it and act it, the less I will feel that way. Also, the more I act on it, the more activity there will be for me as a freelance writer and an event planner.

Windy City Diva

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Education Choices


With the condition of education in this country, especially public schools in large cities, homeschooling is becoming a viable option. The cost can be prohibitive and the claim that there are scholarships out there to cover the cost is an interesting one. You have to be so poor, or your child so bright to receive those scholarships that the middle of the road kids don’t fit into either category.

The violence in and around the schools in Chicago makes it more pressing to not want your child going to school. The classes have doubled and even tripled in some areas. The “Leave No Child Behind Act” has left entire areas behind and not just underprivileged ones. In some areas of Chicago, it has taken top national flight schools to 43 students per class instead of 18 – 25, not enough books and definitely not enough desks and funding to buy more. What are the choices? Move, home school or hope it gets better or that your child makes it out with an education and their life. Sadly for too many parents, homeschooling and moving are not options, so they pray. I home school.

30 Day Blog Challenge #blog30 Day 4

Windy City Diva

Friday, June 4, 2010

Migraines - Where do they come from? & What to do with them?

I have a migraine today. When the pain started, it was sudden and out of the blue. I had a mild one last night, but I seemed to have slept it off when I finally got up this morning. It had been a rocky night but it all worked.

Earlier today... I was going about my day normally, working on my computer. I was placing a Mary Kay order on line and BAM there it was! Blinding pain across my face like someone hit me in it with a blunt object. Oh and there is the other component… the sharp, tightening pain shooting up into my skull along the back of the neck. Oh yes, this is a migraine. The computer screen is bright, too bright, that confirms that it is a migraine. I think holding my face will work. I think my brain is trying to escape. I don’t know where it’s trying to go, but it certainly is making a break for it and taking my eyeballs with it. 
Meds, I need meds and wait, I have to finish what I’m doing. Oh no! Bright computer screen, bad bright computer screen! I wish I could see it well enough to turn it down. That is not going to happen. Meds, hot tea, darkness, quiet, power nap… that is the prescription. If it wasn’t 4:30 in the afternoon I would just go to bed.

So, where do migraines come from? Some people say it’s hereditary, if it is in your family you are doomed. Okay, but then what makes them strike? There timing seems to be random. I have had migraines since I was a teenager. They seem to have interesting triggers like flashing lights from a camera, or a light reflecting off of a mirror, or oh better! Those new halogen lights on cars really hurt especially at night with foggy conditions. The other trigger, the main trigger is stress. So, now that I am awake and it feels a little better, not completely relieved, but certainly better, writing will have to help relieve some stress. If I could walk without wondering why the world is shaking, I might exercise a bit. But alas, sitting in my bed writing, er typing will have to suffice.

Windy City Diva

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Dog Park

The dog park…

As I mentioned my blog is about all things Chicago. One of the qualities I have always valued is how pet-friendly this city is. We have a Shiba Inu / Shepherd mix. She’s four years old with no sign of slowing down at all. She went to the dog park today and ran circles around the other dogs. That is not at all what catches my interest today however…

There is an interesting dynamic that occurs among pet owners, particularly between dog owners. A certain type of socialization is required for both the pet and the owners. I find the whole dynamic very stressful. I love dogs but some of them are just very aggressive and my dog does not take kindly to being bullied.

I was walking with her towards the dog park and two rather large dogs were coming out of the park. The three dogs looked at each other for approximately 30 seconds and the barking and snapping began. The other two dogs were a Mastiff looking dog and pit mix looking one. The Mastiff growled and my dog barked and lunged. Since she had her puppies, her aggression level has increased by 200%. It took all the strength we had to keep the dogs apart. I needed a hot toddy after that encounter.

That is stressful for me. She loves the exercise and the other owners are great, salt of the earth people, but I am far too high strung, anxious for such activities.

I love dogs and hanging out with other pet owners, but I wish there was a way for me to relax and enjoy it.

#blog30

Windy City Diva

Blogging for 30 Days

The 30 Day Blog Challenge  Day 1 (06-02-2010)

I am really excited to challenge myself to write daily. I have so many ambitions when it comes to writing but I always seem to hit the "pause" out of angst of having an audience. So this challenge will hopefully get me in the habit of writing, over and through my angst and upward & onward with my writing career.


I am in the process of writing a novel, but also dream of having an international travel writing career. I have traveled internationally all of my life and thrive on learning and experiencing new cultures. I want to live abroad absorbing the various cultures and teaching those cultural differences to Americans and others with the same interests or curiosity.


My personal interests reach well beyond traveling. I have a few pet projects and topics. I am always interested in random health issues such as brain cancer, TIAs, strokes, side effects of aspartame & other non-food additives in food, abdominal migraines and side effects of medicines in healthy people. My mind and interests sometimes wander off to parenting & other children’s issues, healthy eating, emotional stability, women’s issues and other sensitive issues women face.

This is my introduction and plan for what my blog and writing will become.

WCD

#blog30

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bullying in Schools

This story about the young Irish girl who committed suicide after intense bullying from "mean girls" is disturbing on so many levels.  I have to ask myself how does a kid become a bully on one side, and what about any person allows them to be bullied?  I'm sure everyone has an opinion about this topic from every side - the bully, the subject of the bullying, legally, the adults, the other kids who knew and the parents on both sides.  At what level could this have been headed off before it ended with this girl feeling so trapped that she took her own life?

Should everyone have a mean streak?
I have been out of high school a long time, but I remember bullies both in grammar and high school.  I had a mean streak when provoked, so it only happened once per school, but not everybody has that.  It makes me wonder if they should.  I never bullied, as a matter of fact I stood up for classmates if they were being bullied, but I was no avenging angel.  It had to happen right in front of me for me to say or do anything.  It sounds like many students in the school knew about the band of so-named "mean girls".  The young girl was new to the school and to the country so is it possible she did not have a network of friends to protect her, or for her to turn to? 

Where was the Adult Intervention?
The parents told the school, but the principal claims to not have been aware.  I don't know about now, but when I was in school, teachers and principals (vice and head) walked the halls, stood outside as students arrived and observed.  Their mere presence kept down a lot of the crap.  I don't doubt that bullying happened and for the students in my school who were bullied, high school was undoubtedly a very different place, but even when I told my mother about someone else being picked on, she went to a counselor at school on their behalf.  It takes a village to raise children and clearly some of the adults in this village were asleep at the wheel.

Current & Future Victims of Bullying... What can be done?
Self-defense classes?  Therapy to shore up their self-esteem so they are not susceptible to being picked on?  We can't make everyone a senseless sociopath, but there must be something that can be done for the kids who are headed down this same path.  When I hear that this girl was pushed into the locker, it sounds like "horsing around" but what if she had done it right back?  What if when the "mean girls" called her a slut, she hurled it right back?  Would that make her just as bad as them?  Or would we call it self-defense?  What if she launched that can of pop right back at them in their car?  Would it at least have made her feel better?  Who knows?  And it is certainly not my intent to blame the one being bullied, not at all.  I just wonder if there is some training and therapy that can be done within the school system and home to provide these kids with a network of support.  The long-term affects for those who do not make the ultimate choice of ending the bullying, have scars to live with and need the therapy or counseling anyway.  Right?


Well the former kid with a mean streak in me has my own ideas; and the adult in me who has run into adult bullies, has a whole other idea; but for constructive purposes, I will speak as a parent.  Speaking of which, where are the parents of these bullies?  Do they bully?  Are they bullies?  Are they absent parents not paying attention at all?  Do they support such behavior?  Can the parents be held liable?  Why not?  These "children" are minors and caused the death of another, aren't the parents liable?  All of these kids have plead "not guilty" but how will their level of guilt be determined?  And what message are other bullies receiving watching this circus?  Do they now want their 15 minutes of fame?  The ax has to come down on these kids and hard for this not to become the next repeatable offense that is good for fame.

So back to what to do with the bullies themselves.  I would go through the formality of calling them "accused" but why?  Let's assume for purposes of "kindness" that I am not referencing these students currently accused but the millions of bullies in schools around the country.  There is always giving them a dose of their own medicine, there's paying attention to what is going on in their home and then there is swift repercussions EVERY time there is a complaint.  What can be done?  Do we not understand that it only escalates?  Is there a "scared straight" program that might work to show them what it is like to be bullied?  Do they receive counseling?  Do we start earlier in the school terms teaching kids what not to do?

So in summary, this current case needs to follow it's natural course of investigation, prosecution and punishing these "mean girls" and boys.  But there are certainly some "teaching moments" being provided by this current case.the lessons and procedural changes to be learned are many.  Can objects of bullies be counseled and shored up to become stronger against these teens who feel the need to stand on others to make themselves feel better?  What role do peers play in stopping or mitigating the torture?  Where are adults in the lives of teens vs. where should they be?  And can they be rehabilitated?

My honest opinion... every victim and bully should be counseled.  There is a reason a person bullies others, and there is a reason why a person accepts being bullied.  That is the root of the issue.  The rest (parents, administrators & peers) are band-aids.

Windy City Diva
~A Parent

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Obesity in Children Let's Talk Truth

Many years ago I wrote an Op Ed piece about an article, “Happy Birthday! Have Some Carrots”. It is another manifestation of the obsession our society has with weight, without being willing to look at the root cause of the problem. Maybe we should consider finding the root causes of obesity. 

Let’s take a look at funding in schools for physical education, which has progressively decreased since the late-1980’s. What about funding for park districts that formerly provided after-school programs with physical activity and academics? The schools and park districts in Chicago have experienced more than 85% in budget cuts within the last 10 years. I attended public high school in Chicago. We had junk food, pizza parties and cake for birthdays; but we also had gym 5 days a week instead of 2 like my son does now. We had a Health class that educated us about food groups, the effects of certain foods on our systems and discussed the benefits of running and playing. We played running games outside with our friends after school, instead of lying on the floor playing video games for hours. 

As the parent of a teenager, I believe it is my job to ensure that my son eats a balanced diet, plays outside on a regular basis, participates in sports, understands the importance of balanced meals, knows how to select proper foods and portion control. America is fat beginning with our children, because of our over-indulgence, our “right now satisfaction” mentality and funding being cut at every level for physical education. 

Can we stop blaming the end results and start truly breaking down and attacking the root causes of the obesity levels in the United States? I agree that Type 2 Diabetes in children is deplorable, particularly at the current levels. However, I believe some alternate solutions to serving carrots at birthday parties and putting only healthy snacks in vending machines would include: putting the funding back in public school physical education and extra-curricular school sponsored/organized sports activities, after-school fitness activities at park districts and continue the health education in the school and with parents. Certain types of education begin at home and healthy eating habits are some of them. 

Windy City Diva

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ranting... American Airlines

AA has the audacity to charge for every checked bag and have a limit of only 50 pounds! To further the absurdity you're only allowed two carry-on and now all of a sudden purses and briefcases count as a carry-on bag. 

Well, after I paid $100 for my 4 checked bags for myself and my son we simply stopped and over-stuffed our checked luggage that had already been weighed and paid for. 

Then! The flight attendant was rude. While in flight, she was passing out orange juice to select passengers and when I asked for a Coke she said they would be around in a minute. I am currently waiting. I don't see them even starting to come down the aisle with beverage service. What was so special about those passengers; or what made it okay for her to not say, "sure" and bring me a cup of Coke even if she was about to have full cart service. 

As an airline brat of 25 years and almost 40 years of flying this crew was one of the least customer service oriented ones I have ever experienced. The 1st Class Steward literally had a scowl and looked down his nose as he walked through Coach Class to say, "seat belts on". Oh American lost part of my business with charging for carry-on and the flight crew lost it for them the rest of the way. 

Delta, you're up next! 

 Wind Chill

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Introduction to Windy City Diva

Welcome!

I am an opinionated native Chicagoan creating a place to sound off and discuss current and past topics of interest in Chicago. I do randomly wander my interests outside of Chicago, but my heart belongs in the "windy city". 

 Oh and there will be moments of slamming the "fashion-challenged". It's not personal to me or to you, so comment away and see you in cyberspace. 

Windy City Diva