Thursday, April 30, 2009
Because I want each of you to remain healthy and reading my blog for years to come, I'm hereby suspending today's regularly scheduled post and providing you with this Public Service Announcement: How to Properly Wash Your Hands.
Now that you've learned how to wash your hands, I'd like to say a few words . . .
1. I'm concerned about the vast amount of water that is being wasted in this video. In my own house, I try to turn off the water when soaping up my hands, but when I'm in public, I try to touch the faucet (or anything else) as little as possible.
2. The narrator says that you should use your paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the bathroom door. Good ideas. I do this in public. However, after she uses her paper towel to turn off the faucet, she again wipes her hands with it. Ick. Again, paper towels are bad for the environment. At my house, I use cloth towels, but in public I absolutely want paper towels.
Balancing what's good for the environment and what will keep me healthy is quite the balance. I want to help the environment and do what's right, but I also don't want to touch dirty surfaces. Does that make me a little OCD?
How do you handle this conundrum?
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
When I moved from Washington DC to Chicago almost 9 years ago, it took me almost 100 days to get unpacked and believe me, my entire house is probably about the size of the Oval Office. Not only have President Obama and his wonderful family managed to get unpacked (okay, sure, their staff is just a little bigger than mine), get enrolled in school, get a dog, plant a garden and throw some fabulous parties, President Obama has managed to get some work done too.
In his first 100 days, President Obama has:
- signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law (click here for my take on it) as his first piece of legislation;
- signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act;
- extended health care coverage for 4 million uninsured children through SCHIP;
- announced that he would help approximately 9 million homeowners get better mortgage terms through his foreclosure prevention package;
- increased funding for education through the Head Start program and Pell Grants to college;
- announced the withdrawal of all combat forces in Iraq by August 2010;
- signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act;
- ordered the closing Guantanamo Bay prison camp with 1 year;
- attended the G-20 Summit and improved relationships with world leaders;
- successfully and with minimal blood shed fought off pirates;
- opened lines of communication with the American people in ways that no other administration has ever done including live streaming events and blogging;
- promised the world that the US will no longer engage in torture including water boarding;
- and remained cool, calm, and collected during it all which serves to reassure everyone that he is in control. We never see him lose his temper and his demeanor and body language give us all hope. While hope alone will not fix our problems, hope allows us to move forward from the paralysis of fear and take action.
Yes, we've got some huge issues left to deal with including increasing unemployment, a Dow on incredibly shaky ground, two wars, an auto industry that's hanging on by a shredding thread, and the imminent pandemic known as Swine Flu. And clearly none of these problems will be solved overnight. But we're off to a great start.
More on President Obama's first 100 days in office:
- Obama's First 100 Days: 10 Achievements You Didn't Know About, Huffington Post
- One Hundred, New York Times
- Retrospective in Missouri, WhiteHouse.gov
- Delivering On Change, An Inside Look, WhiteHouse.gov
- Foundation for Change, BarackObama.com
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
You may have heard that Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter began the day as a member of the Grand Ole Party (aka Republican Party) and will go to sleep tonight as a Democrat. And that confuses me.
Sure, I like the idea that, with the addition of Senator Specter and once Senator Al Franken is allowed to be seated, the Democrats have the all-important 60 votes necessary to quash a filibuster.
But this switch wasn't about Senator Specter disagreeing with the fundamental things Republicans believe or even embracing Democratic principles. Senator Specter himself today admitted that his switch had everything to do with the fact that he did some polling and discovered that he probably would lose in a Pennsylvania Republican primary next year. He also made it known that he wouldn't just automatically vote along party lines. The fact is that the Republican party is now dominated by ultra-conservative fundamentalists who use abortion as a litmus test and Senator Specter's 2008 pro-choice voting record would not sit well.
The thing is that I can't get the images of Senator Specter grilling Anita Hill and calling her a liar in the 1991 Confirmation Hearings for Clarence Thomas's nomination to the Supreme Court.
"The lowest point on the first day of the hearing came when Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter implied that Hill had simply fantasized Thomas' asking for dates and his lurid remarks about pornography. It is all but inconceivable that a similarly qualified man, black or white, would be accused not merely of lying but of imagining things." — Time Senior Editor Jack E. White, October 21, 1991.Of course, I suppose that maybe we should be grateful for Senator Specter's behavior during those hearings. Watching 12 white men grill Anita Hill as though she was a criminal mobilized feminists nationwide and 1992 became known as the "Year of the Woman" as the number of female Senators grew from 3 to 5 and women were elected in droves to many other offices around the country.
Maybe. But I still can't help but think Arlen Specter's switch was more about self-preservation than about a shift in his fundamental beliefs. And I just don't trust that. I'll always look at him and wonder if he's just a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Monday, April 27, 2009
I have two words for you: Pig Candy.
Pig Candy is basically bacon and sugar, although some foodies insist on ginger and cayenne pepper too.
Pig Candy - from The Sweet Potato Queens' Big-Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner
- Bacon (several strips)
- Brown Sugar (enough to coat bacon strips)
2. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
For two amazing descriptions and step-by-step instructions and pictures that will create a party in your mouth, click here and here.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
All day long I've been trying to figure out how to properly acknowledge today, the day my house burned down in 1982. I'm not going to retell the whole story, but you can read here. A few minutes ago, I was reminded about the only cool part of the entire ordeal:
I got to be a 10 year old diva at the Arlington Park Hilton for the better part of about 5 months.
Yes, I was Eloise.
Eloise you'll recall is a 6 year old fictional girl who lives at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. Eloise is quite precocious and finds herself in the midst of all sorts of adventures (read: trouble), just as I did.
Live at the Hilton was quite good. We had a suite of rooms - two bedrooms with a huge sitting room in the middle. The sitting room, which was more like a super-sized den, complete with wet bar and gigantic bathroom containing a tub with the cool jets. I wouldn't call it a hot tub or whirlpool, but it was cool. Someone made my bed everyday and left clean towels and fun little shampoos and soaps.
As Dave and I got ready for school each day, I would call the hotel restaurant, The Apple Farm, and order lunches that would be ready when we arrived for breakfast. On more than a few occasions, breakfast consisted of orange sherbet and a handful of apple-flavored Jolly Ranchers from the candy dish on the way out of the restaurant. Then we were whisked off to school via cab.
At night we'd run all around the hotel and swim in the pool and never got in any trouble because everyone knew us.
I had slumber parties with my girlfriends and remember one especially fun weekend sitting at the entrance of the Cinderella Rockafella (a nightclub type place attached to the Arlington Park Hilton) watching all the couples arrive for the Arlington High School Prom. We thought they were so sophisticated and beautiful and wanted to grow up to be that cool at our prom.
Yes, life at the Hilton was good and I wanted for nothing. As good as it was, however, I was never so happy as I was the day we finally moved back into our rebuilt house.
Do you know The Starfish Story? It's a story about the power of helping one person and how we can each make a difference. Every once in awhile, I question my own ability to make a difference in the world because I don't have the power of celebrity or as the Leader of the Free World to truly affect change. But I always come back to this story and remember if some random act of kindness touches just one person, then it's worth it.
One thing that I try to do everyday is to smile at strangers and greet them - not engage in conversation, but more of a hello with a smile on my face. This may sound a little silly until you think about how many people live alone. It's possible that no one has smiled at the people I encounter in days. It's even more likely that someone I smile at and greet kindly has had someone treat them rudely at some point recently. My smiles may not create world peace (yet), but I know that when people smile at me it changes my day for the better, so I assume I have the same effect. A great side effect is that smiling and greeting others warmly also helps keep me in a good mood.
Enjoy the Starfish Story.
The Starfish Story
adapted from The Star Thrower
by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977)
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"
The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."
"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
You'll recall that last week I wrote about the possible demise of Streetwise. The whole thing just saddened me because I believe that Streetwise is a perfect example of the old adage "you can give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day or you can teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime."
As the Tribune story states, Streetwise needed $75,000, but $190,000 was donated in a week! More than double. Given the economic times we're living in, that says something. If you think about it, this is a bigger deal than many fundraisers. None of the people who donated money to save Streetwise received anything tangible for their good deeds. No golf outings. No Cubs tickets. No gift baskets. Streetwise put out a call and enough people took action by donating anywhere between $3 and $35,000 to save the paper.
Yes, people are genuinely good. There is no doubt about it.
I'm going to go for a walk around Lake Arlington to pick up litter this afternoon. My friend Debbie, the founder of the Random Acts of Kindness Club, has organized this walk. The weather is supposed to be nicer and I think it will be a great way to experience early Spring in Chicago, spend some time with a good friend, and do something nice for the planet.
There are many things we can each do to help the planet today and everyday:
1. Stop drinking bottled water. Get yourself a reusable bottle and wash it out. Go see the award winning documentary "Flow" to learn about how harmful to the environment (and us) bottled water is and the worldwide water crisis.
2. Recycle. This absolutely could not be much easier. I don't know of a town that doesn't offer a recycling program and most of them pick up recycling with the garbage. Sure you have to separate it, but that takes seconds as you're already tossing stuff out. In my kitchen, I have a garbage can, a brown paper sack for paper recycling (that doesn't need shredding or is already shredded) and another can for plastic, glass, and aluminum recycling. Yes, at first it was a little burdensome. But once I got into the habit of recycling, it is now second nature and I throw out less than one bag of actual garbage per week. That's huge!
3. Freecycle. I've talked about this before. Freecycle is a grass roots organization that exists all over the country (and world) where you offer up things that you can't use for free and other people take them off your hands. I've gotten some amazing things through Freecycle: a new (to me) microwave when mine died; a new (to her) washer and dryer for my mom when hers died; many plants for my garden; drapes in my living room; an otoman for my brother's apartment; and numerous new items (in packaging) that I used as Christmas gifts. I've also given away many items that I can't use anymore. Freecycle is proof that one man's trash is another one's treasure.
4. Go see the movie Earth. It opens today and if you see it this week, Disney will plant a tree in your honor.
5. Read the single most popular post on Little Merry Sunshine: "Real Simple Recycling A to Z" to learn all the easy ways and many things you can recycle.
6. Plant a tree.
7. Plant a "Recession Garden." Not only is gardening great exercise, but it will save you money. A $70 garden investment will save you about $600 in produce groceries over a year. I don't know about you, but $600 is nothing to sneeze at. In this economy, I'm not sure where else you can legally get a guaranteed 857% return on your investment. Not even Bernie Madoff could give those kinds of returns. Gardening is also great for the environment and healthier for you as well. The produce doesn't need to be trucked or otherwise shipped in from far away and you know exactly what chemicals (or not) are used on your vegetables and fruits. You could also do this with a friend or neighbor and share your harvest to give each of you more produce variety.
8. Take your own bags to the grocery store and anywhere else you shop. I've been doing this for years, ever since I had to walk over a mile each way to the grocery store and those icky plastic bags wouldn't hold up.
9. Use refillable cosmetic compacts. Okay, this may seem like a shameless plug since I'm a Mary Kay Consultant and to my knowledge only Mary Kay has refillable compacts, but this is truly a huge savings to both the environment and your wallet. No more tossing out a whole eye compact because one color is empty because when one color runs out, you only replace that one color. No more buying colors you don't really like because you fill the compact with exactly what you want.
10. Bike, walk, or take public transportation rather than driving. The other day I was spending the entire day in Chicago. Traffic from Arlington Heights to the city is fairly unpredictable and can take anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours or more. Rather than drive and have to pay for parking twice, I took the Metra train into the city and then took the subway. Cost to drive and park = $37 in parking and tolls, plus gas and wear and tear on my car. Cost to take public transportation = $13 round trip. I saved $24, not to mention that I was relaxed when I arrived.
11. Install a solar attic fan. Okay, yes, this is another shameless plug for my brother's company, Crystal Skylights & Solarlighting, but he installed a solar attic fan for me last summer and in the first month alone, my electricity bill decreased 35% over the same month (with the same weather temps) in 2007. And the savings have continued each month. My whole house stayed cooler last summer and I ran the AC much less. Plus, the government will give you a tax credit for installing one! I simply cannot rave enough about my solar attic fan.
I could go on, but I'd rather hear your ideas for celebrating Earth Day. What are your favorite ways to save the planet?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
To say I'm disappointed would be an understatement. As both Eric Zorn and I argued, participating in this show would allow Governor Blagojevich not only an opportunity to earn money to pay for his defense (saving the State of Illinois money) and there's a chance (albeit a small one) that Governor Blagojevich might not return (saving the State of Illinois even more money).
Oh, well, I can't have everything I want in life.
I believe that optimism is limitless in its power. It makes the impossible possible. It is often what separates the winners from the losers (although those words make me cringe). If you believe, like I do, that what you think about you bring about, then optimism is one of the key pieces of the foundation.
And Michael J. Fox, the poster child for the power of positive thinking is going on television to talk about it. As far as I can tell, the only bad thing about this program is that it's not a weekly series. Given all the negativity in the world, that's what we really need right now.
Thursday May 7th 10/9c
Michael J. Fox, the former star of ABC's comedy hit Spin City, makes an emotional return to the network as the acclaimed television and movie star investigates the nature of optimism. In 1998 Fox publicly revealed that he had been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's disease and, two years later, made the difficult decision to walk away from a highly successful acting career with credits including the top-rated NBC comedy series Family Ties and the blockbuster Back to the Future movies. His triumphant spirit and positive attitude, considering his daily fight against the symptoms of a complex and incurable neurological syndrome, may make you wonder: How does he remain an "incurable optimist"?
Fox travels across the globe to explore the enduring strength of hope. He talks to both famous and everyday people, venturing everywhere from the Far East to President Barack Obama's inspiring inauguration -- all for a one-hour special, Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, airing THURSDAY, MAY 7 (10:02-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
The whole world, shaken by economic woes, is taking a closer look at optimism. Imagine a country which measures its success with a figure for "Gross National Happiness" instead of Gross National Product. Fox visits the secluded Himalayan nation of Bhutan, a modern day Shangri La that stresses the importance of joy in everything it does. Can happiness actually be legislated? Fox is fascinated by this nation's commitment to the positive well-being of its citizens.
"The same joyous spark that Michael J. Fox shared with us during his acting career shines through in this compelling look at the transformational power of optimism," said Victoria Dummer, co-head and senior vice president, Alternative Series, Specials and Late Night, ABC Entertainment Group.
During this entertaining and inspiring hour, Fox also meets doctors and scientists who share lively insight on the cutting edge science that's helping us better understand the nature of optimism in all of us. He introduces viewers to a variety of people who haven't let difficulties stand in the way of their happiness. Even Fox himself says the past 10 years, dealing with Parkinson's and setting up The Michael J. Fox Foundation, have become among his happiest and his best.
"For everything this disease has taken, something with greater value has been given," Fox says, "So, sure, it may be one step forward and two steps back, but after a time with Parkinson's, I've learned that what is important is making that one step count."
Fox is still an actor, but his personal and professional focus has now shifted to Parkinson's disease. He's revolutionized research in the field with The Michael J. Fox Foundation, the world's largest non-profit funder of Parkinson's research.
He is also a best-selling author. His first book, Lucky Man, was published in 2002. A new memoir of the last eight years, Always Looking Up, is out on March 31. Both books are from Hyperion.
Michael J. Fox, Nelle Fortenberry and Rudy Bednar are executive producers of Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, a collaboration between Northern Fox Productions and Lincoln Square Productions.
Click Here to read an exerpt from Michael J. Fox's new book, Always Looking Up, or click here for more information.
Monday, April 20, 2009
My friend thought this was a bit creepy, but I actually think it's a great idea, if only as a consolation prize to what I'd truly like in the afterlife.
I'd much rather have my ashes scattered at the actual Wrigley Field like Steve Goodman's. The only problem is that the Cubs don't officially allow it. According to Eric Zorn, the only way to do it is to "find a guy who knows some guys who know a guy who know a guy."
Don't misunderstand me, I'm not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. That and I've aleady planned to have my ashes scattered at Watervale. But given the opportunity, I'd really love to have half my ashes scattered at Wrigley Field and half scattered at Watervale.
In light of how loyal baseball fans are and how much Cubs fans have suffered for our team over the last 100 years, Eric Zorn is right and the Cubs should allow fans to have their ashes scattered along the warning track. I guess, in the meantime, Beyond the Vines is a suitable substitute.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I think Administrative Professionals Week is a great reminder to say "thank you" to all the people who make me look good day in and day out, not simply about administrative assistants, executive assistants or secretaries. Believe me, to take a phrase from Hillary Clinton, it takes a village.
Now, I work for myself and I have no employees, so you may wonder who I need to thank. Trust me, there are plenty of people.
The employees at Mary Kay are always there to answer questions and help me with anything I need. I'm in business for myself, but not by myself.
My sister Mary Kay Consultants generously share their ideas and successes so we can all learn from each other. That's the Mary Kay Go Give spirit.
I serve on two boards, the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Forest College Alumni Board, and co-chair a committee within each organization. Not only are the other volunteers amazing and talented, but the staffs at both the Chamber and the College work incredibly hard and make my volunteer work almost effortless. I know that I can pick up the phone and get whatever support I need.
My friends are the best people on the planet. They each challenge my ways of thinking, raise the bar on being a good person every single day, and they are the greatest support system anyone could want.
And then there's my family. As crazy as I believe them to be, I know that every family has it's issues so we really aren't so different. They never fail to build me up and they're only ones I let put me back in my place when I need it.
I'm sure there are many more people who make me look good on a consistent basis and to them, I say a truly heartfelt "thank you."
Who makes you look good? Who do you need to say thank you to this week? Your sincere gratitude will pay off for years to come, so get out there and say "thank you" every chance you get.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
The point of Love Notes is that they are uplifting, genuine, and written with no expectation of receiving anything back. Sometimes Love Notes are written unintentionally, but they arrive at the just the right moment when we need a little pick-me-up.
My Love Notes are great because when I'm feeling a little down, I can grab them and let the words others have written lift me right back up. Sometimes just a word or two reminds me I'm smart, talented, and can achieve anything I set my mind to. Sometimes it takes reading a few notes to get back in my groove. But no matter how long I spend reading, I finish feeling loved and capable of anything.
Of course, I also enjoy reading my Love Notes when I'm feeling really happy and then my cup truly runneth over. I feel so full in those moments.
One of my favorite Love Notes is a simple one page letter a friend typed to me on his computer one summer in college. I received it during a time of a huge personal family crisis. It was a fairly routine "here's what I'm doing over the summer" letter until I got to the end. That's when this friend told me how much he admired how well I was handling all I was dealing with and how he didn't know if he could handle it all as well. His words still mean the world to me because he is truly a pillar of strength and someone who doesn't toss around compliments lightly.
If you don't have your own collection of Love Notes, pay more attention to the notes people leave you. You'll find uplifting words in the most unexpected of places. Of course, you may also try writing a few yourself. I think you'll be surprised how when you put love into the universe it always comes back.
Friday, April 17, 2009
"Little Merry Sunshine is on the front page of the Chicago Tribune online! www.chicagotribune.com! Check it out!!!" 10:59am from txtyou may not know that the Chicago Tribune highlighted Little Merry Sunshine as its featured blog from Chicago's Best Blogs today! Go take a look while it's still there (they change the featured blog almost daily). When you get to the Tribune, scroll down and look on the left under the box with today's columnists.
"Today is the best day of 2009. Look at Little Merry Sunshine on the Chgo Trib website! www.chicagotribune.com Scroll down look on left." 8:40pm from web
All I can say is WOW. WOW. WOW. And thank you.
I wish I could tell you that almost 2 years ago, when I first opened myself up to the world via Little Merry Sunshine, that I believed this blog of mine would take off and be noticed by anyone other than my mom and immediate best friends who read it because I begged them. I didn't. I didn't think anyone would care about anything I had to say. I thought I'd have 7 readers forever. But I just kept telling myself "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone it, people like me!"
I was scared and insecure, but I kept writing for me, if for no one else. Many days Little Merry Sunshine is personal and about what I'm grateful for, what inspires me or just some crazy anecdote from my life. Some days it gets into politics because I believe most people get into politics to make the world a better place and it's a passion of mine. I write about the Cubs because I bleed Cubbie Blue. And I write about activism because contributing to the world around me is one of my top personal values and I believe we should all give back everyday.
Somewhere along the way, my readership started to grow and I gained a following. Your belief in me and your encouragement helped turn my wavering confidence into rock solid belief.
Thank you for reading my blog and contributing to the conversation through your comments and emails. Thank you for making me be better. Thank you for believing in me. Please keep reading Little Merry Sunshine and leaving your comments. And hang on because this ride is about to get even more fun.
Below are the screen shots, which I'll grant you are small and a bit difficult to read. But you can get the gist. The third and fourth shots show LMS (with the picture of Governor Blagojevich). The last shot shows the LMS in its entirety, although it's still difficult to read. The picture at the top of this post shows exactly how LMS was featured.
And here's one where you can see the entire feature for LMS:
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Now, I know he's pled not guilty, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that he might actually have done some of this stuff and did try to sell President Barack Obama's Senate seat. No matter the ultimate verdict, this is going to be one long, drawn out, and expensive trial. Not to mention the cost of keeping him in prison, assuming he's found guilty.
I say to the court: Let him go. Seriously. Let Governor Blagojevich go to Costa Rica and live in the jungle.
Think about it for a minute. The man is broke. He's got no money. So Illinois taxpayers are not only going to foot the bill for the prosecution, but we'll also have to give him a public defender. But NBC is willing to pay him $80K a week. If he holds his own on the show, he could make a nice amount of money that could be used to pay some of his legal bills. If he gets lost in the jungle, that will save taxpayers A LOT of money. Blago gone. The State of Illinois saves a ton of money and resources. No matter what, it seems like a win-win to me.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
We each have a little tape recorder in our heads that records the stuff we say to ourselves and that others say to us and can be triggered anytime to either lift us up or drag us down. And remarkably, this tape recorder in our brains never loses anything or erases the tape by accident. At any moment, for example, you can recall the time your grandmother told you you'd get fat if you had a second serving of something in front of the entire family at Christmas. Of course, you can also instantly recall the first time he said those three powerful words that rocked your world, "I love you." Or you can remember how you felt when you reached the top of that figurative (or literal) mountain you struggled to climb.
As I was thinking about Susan Boyle in the shower this morning (okay, all you perverts, and you know who you are, just stop), I started to think about how she never gave up on her dreams and clearly didn't hear or notice what others said or thought about her. I thought about how much I admire that quality.
I wondered if and how that intense focus related to my own life. I didn't have to think very long. I received ample evidence milliseconds later. You see, I have two dreams of my own that after many years of wonder and hope and work are beginning to show signs of coming true. As I stood there in my shower, that little tape recorder inside my brain started to play. "Why do you think you are talented?" "What makes you think anyone will care?" "You're not smart enough or good enough or pretty enough." And on and on. You probably know the drill.
But today, after having watched Susan Boyle, my brain snapped back into action and shut off the negative tape recorder. Instead, I heard a new tape. "Actually, who are you NOT to be talented and gifted and smart and pretty?" "Who are you trying to make feel better by not living up to your potential and achieving all your dreams?" And I remembered that famous Marianne Williamson quote that is often mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela.
So today, I challenge not only myself but you to remember that we are all put here to achieve our own greatness. It does no one any good for us to play small. I know how my life will be different now that my fear is gone. I know because I've seen the possibilities and I'm ready for them to become my reality.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, Marianne Williamson, Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3 (Pg. 190-191).
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Streetwise is a local newspaper that is written and sold by homeless people in Chicago. What I love about it is that it helps people help themselves. The 200 vendors purchase the weekly paper for 75 cents per issue and then turn around and sell it for $2. They pocket the difference. Of course, they have to have a city permit to do this. And for its part, Streetwise provides job training and helps people get on their feet. Earning money by working helps give people a sense of worth and it's helped thousands of people get off the streets.
When I'm in the city, I always buy Streetwise and I feel good about helping the vendor.
I first encountered Streetwise in the fall of 1992, when I lived in Chicago as part of the Urban Studies off-campus program in college. At the time, Streetwise cost $1 and came out monthly. Even though it only came out monthly, I usually bought it a couple of times a week from different vendors because I loved how it directly helped people help themselves. Even when I moved back to Lake Forest to finish college and then moved to Washington DC after graduation, every time I would return to Chicago, I would take some extra cash to buy Streetwise.
So it greatly saddens me today to learn that Streetwise may be going under. Sure, there are other newspapers in Chicago - the Tribune, Sun-Times, and the Reader, to name just a few - but in my opinion, Streetwise was never really about the content in the paper itself anyway. It has always been about getting people off the streets, giving them job skills, helping them build a track record of holding a job, learning to budget, and ultimately becoming self-sufficient. The paper was just the vehicle to do that.
There's talk of help coming from the Chicago City Council, all the TV stations have been running stories in hopes that the public will rise to the occasion and grant money will arrive. I hope this happens. Streetwise is the perfect program to receive help.
Here's the Chicago Tribune story from earlier today. Click here to watch the video.
Now, raise your hand if someone has looked at YOU and made a judgment about you. Maybe you're a bit overweight and someone has said that makes you entirely undateable. Maybe people snub their noses at you as they look down on what you do for a living. Maybe people make assumptions about you based on a family member with a disability. Maybe someone told you that you couldn't achieve your goals because you aren't smart enough or pretty enough or some other crazy factor. I see that, again, every hand is raised. Interesting.
How did it feel? It was a blow to your ego, right? It may have pushed you off your game and played some mind games with you. Did you let go of a dream because of some catty comment that hurt you to your core? It may have made you question the person you know yourself to be.
Finally, have you ever had the experience where you got to prove all the haters wrong? Where they'd judged you and you got to wipe the floor with them? Remember how THAT felt? I don't know about you, but I think it's the world's greatest feeling.
In case you've never had that experience of getting to prove everyone's judgments wrong or reach your dream anyway, watch this video and imagine yourself as Susan Boyle for just a minute. It's powerful and it will change you.
If you're reading this on your iPhone and can't watch that video, watch the You Tube version here. You Tube won't allow embedding, sorry.
You can also visit Susan's fansite here.
Oh, and yes, she really did say she's 48 and never had a boyfriend and never been kissed. But she dreamed a dream and she never let it go. Susan Boyle is my new hero.
And thanks to Brad Meltzer for starting my day with this video. He always finds the most inspirational and uplifting stories. He loves the rooting for the underdog. Friends like him are priceless.
UPDATE: Check out this article on Jezebel about Susan Boyle. Fantastic!
Monday, April 13, 2009
I have a couple of theories for this . . .
- The cold weather on Opening Day at Wrigley Field is so that we know what to look for when Hell freezes over when we finaly win the World Series.
- God is unhappy that the Cubs no longer play 100% of their games during the day and on WGN tv.
- It's early April in Chicago. What do you expect? Just be glad we don't have a foot of snow.
I'm predicting that the Cubs will take it all this year. Of course, I predict this just about every year. But this year, I'm completely certain of it.
In honor of their pending World Series season, enjoy this Walter E. Smithe commercial. It's perfect for today.
Friday, April 10, 2009
"Dad, can I have herpes?" an 8-year old Dave asked one night during dessert.
"No, you can't," was my dad's immediate and firm response.
From across the kitchen, my mom pipes up, "I hate to correct you, especially in front of the kids, John, but I think it's important to answer their questions about sex openly and honestly. If they're asking questions, we should have the courage to answer them, even if it's a bit uncomfortable for us."
With that, Mom walked back over to the table, and dove right into a lecture about Herpes Simplex 1 and 2. Dad looked horrified.
"First of all," she began, ignoring the dismayed look on Dad's face, "there are two kinds of Herpes. Herpes Simplex 1 are little sores you can get in your mouth or on your lips. Sometimes these are called canker sores or fever blisters. Just about everyone gets them at some point in their life, even you."
My dad starts to interrupt her, but she's on a roll. "Herpes Simplex 2 is the same kind of little sores, but they are on your private parts."
Dad, Dave and I are now looking at her as if she's got 2 heads, but she continues. "So, while I hope you never get the second kind of Herpes, the answer to your question is that yes, you can get Herpes."
At this point, my dad who would not ever discuss sex with us, was bright red and probably wished he was not still sitting at the table. None of us could contain ourselves and exploded in laughter.
Finally, Dave regains his composure and says "Mom, I just wanted to know if I could have her piece of cake since Jessica didn't want dessert! But I don't want it anymore."
Thursday, April 9, 2009
I'm sure that you've also heard all the supposed cures for a hangover . . . taking a couple Tylenol before bed, drinking a ton of water before sleeping, greasy spoon food first thing in the morning, more drinking immediately after waking, etc. But we all know that while some of these ideas may work once, they don't really work long term or with any consistency.
But now comes news out of Great Britain that a cure for the common hangover has been discovered! What is the cure? A Bacon Sandwich! God love the Brits!
What do you think? Does this work?
Bacon sandwich really does cure a hangover
A bacon sandwich really does cure a hangover - by boosting the level of amines which clear the head, scientists have found.
Telegraph.co.uk, April 8, 2009
Researchers claim food also speeds up the metabolism helping the body get rid of the booze more quickly.
Elin Roberts, of Newcastle University's Centre for Life said: "Food doesn't soak up the alcohol but it does increase your metabolism helping you deal with the after-effects of over indulgence. So food will often help you feel better.
"Bread is high in carbohydrates and bacon is full of protein, which breaks down into amino acids. Your body needs these amino acids, so eating them will make you feel good."
Ms Roberts told The Mirror: "Bingeing on alcohol depletes neurotransmitters too, but bacon contains a high level of aminos which tops these up, giving you a clearer head."
Researchers also found a complex chemical interaction in the cooking of bacon produces the winning combination of taste and smell which is almost irresistible.
The reaction between amino acids in the bacon and reducing sugars in the fat is what provides the sandwich with its appeal.
Ms Roberts said: "The smell of sizzling bacon in a pan is enough to tempt even the staunchest of vegetarians. There's something deeper going on inside. It's not just the idea of a tasty snack. There is some complex chemistry going on.
"Meat is made of mostly protein and water. Inside the protein, it's made up of building blocks we call amino acids. But also, you need some fat. Anyone who's been on a diet knows if you take all the fat from the meat, it just doesn't taste the same. We need some of the fat to give it the flavour."
She explained that the reaction released hundreds of smells and flavours but it is the smell which reels in the eater. "Smell and taste are really closely linked," she said. "If we couldn't smell then taste wouldn't be the same."
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Debbie Nelson has just won her first election (by a landslide, no less!) to a 2-year term on the Arlington Heights Memorial Library Board of Trustees. Her victory was especially sweet because she worked incredibly hard for it and kept her campaign above the fray of the negative campaigning and mudslinging that so often seeps into politics.
Not only is Debbie a terrific trustee, but she's also my friend and the founder of the Random Acts of Kindness Club. Debbie's belief is that we all have a responsibility to each other and that we are all responsible for making the world a better place. She does her part through random acts of kindness for friends and people who aren't yet her friends (aka strangers). I admire Debbie for the values she is teaching her children and the example she is giving to all members of the Arlington Heights community through the way she lives her life. As a woman, Debbie is a fantastic mentor and role model for the next generation of young girls who will soon become adult women. She shows that you don't have to be nasty and snarky to get ahead. In fact, Debbie has proven that when you know who are, are comfortable in your own skin, live by the Golden Rule, and build others up, you can and will succeed.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Baseball season officially begins today with the Cubs playing at Houston at 6:05pm CT. Zambrano is pitching and I'll be glued to my television like every true blue Cubs fan. So don't call me tonight. I won't be able to talk. Opening Day at Wrigley Field is next Monday with Colorado our first victim of the season at 1:20.
In honor of our winning season and 2009 being the year we take it all the way, enjoy these videos by some other great Cubs fans.
"Someday We'll Go All The Way" by Eddie Vedder
"Go Cubs Go" (2009 Edition) by Steve Goodman
"A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" by Steve Goodman
In the interest of full disclosure, like me, the late Steve Goodman is a Lake Forest College Class of 1970 alum.
UPDATE: Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Final score: Cubs 4, Houston Astros 2. Zambrano got his 1st victory on Opening Day! Cubs are in 1st place! Only 161 more games plus playoffs & World Series to go and then the curse will be over!
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Quite a few of you find me by doing Google searches for "little merry sunshine," "wheeling township food pantry," "arlington heights," "Marshall Field's" and a variety of searches for information on the current local elections in Arlington Heights and I'm incredibly grateful my blog appears in the results for all of these search terms. I'm also grateful to my blog buddies Monkey Muck, Gourmet Goddess, Boxer Rebellion, She's An American Girl, Living Oprah, Ellen of the Tenth, and Fran I Am for their links and the readers who find me through their sites. I could never write this post without showing proper appreciation to Chicago's Best Blogs for the new readers they've sent me. Truly it's an honor being one of Chicago's Best Blogs.
But many of you visit LMS as the result of some more interesting Google searches . . .
An employee at one of the country's largest banks and recipient of tons of bailout money, spent some valuable work time searching "I get off on you getting off on me" and found my post iPhone, Therefore I Get Off.
Numerous state employees in states such as Nebraska, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana (on state time!) and folks at some very esteemed higher education institutions have visited LMS as the result of searches for "stripper poles" (finding I'm Gonna Install A Stripper Pole!)and "prostitute names" (finding The Name Game).
People from all over the world searching for "AK-47" find my post What Were They Hunting With That AK-47?
More than a few folks are curious about "pregnant women wearing braces," which I find interesting since there are no pregnant women on this site. Really. No woman on this blog is pregnant. I swear.
Many of you are searching for food pantries in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and it's my wish that you're doing these searches because you want to donate, but probably some of you need some extra help these days. So this gives me a good opportunity to say to everyone: Donate to your local food pantry. They desperately need your help. The demand is greater than ever and if you set aside just a couple items each week, in no time you'll have a full bag of groceries that will really help someone. That someone could be your neighbor or your best friend or someday it could be you.
Many of you seem to be interested in recycling and tax credits for greening your home and installing solar attic fans. Visit my brother's website, Crystal Skylights. He'll take great care of you.
However you ended up here, I truly thank you and I hope you come back often. Without you, I'd just be talking to myself.
My identity was stolen last fall, even though you might say I'm a bit OCD about shredding. In the end, the problems I had as a result of my identity being stolen were negligible, but had I not been so proactive, on top of my bank accounts, and shred as much as I do, it could have been a lot worse.
One of the most important ways to prevent identity theft is to shred all identifying documents. Let's be clear, there are certain documents you must keep, like your mortgage papers, the title to your home and car, insurance papers, tax returns, wills, birth certificates, college financial aid papers, original Social Security cards, etc. Those you should keep in a very safe place.
I'm talking about all the other stuff. According to the AARP Bulletin from October 2008, you should shred:
- pre-approved credit card, insurance, and other offers;
- junk mail with your name on it;
- old papers with your Social Security number on it (but NOT your original Social Security card);
- deposit slips, ATM receipts, and credit card receipts after your monthly statements arrive;
- used airline tickets;
- unneeded medical bills;
- past bank statements and canceled checks (unless you need them for tax purposes);
- expired IDs;
- paycheck stubs after the income is noted on your tax documents;
- monthly retirement & investment statements after the annual statement arrives (keep the annual statements forever); and
- utility bills unless you want to hold onto them for one year to compare to prior year's usage and costs.
You can also collect all your stuff to be shredded and head over to Village Bank & Trust at 150 E. Rand Rd. in Arlington Heights on Saturday, April 18th from 9am - 1pm with up to 3 boxes of personal documents and they'll shred it for FREE! Make sure you take this shredding coupon with you.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Grandpa was a diehard White Sox fan and I bleed Cubbie blue. We always enjoyed our annual bets on the All-Star Game and World Series (the bets were for $1 and he always had the American League and I always had the National League), but I don't think we ever went to a game together. By the time I was old enough to attend a baseball game, my grandparents had already moved to Florida. We almost saw a White Sox spring training game together when I visited my grandparents during spring break my sophomore year of college, but Grandpa wasn't strong enough.
Grandpa passed away 14 years ago and I still miss him, especially as baseball season kicks off this weekend.
Suburban man on hospice care making pilgrimage with grandson
By Kimberly Pohl, Daily Herald, April 3, 2009
The results won't make a bit of difference in the standings, but Saturday's Cubs-Yankees exhibition game means the world to one Mount Prospect man.
John Cannistra, whose lung cancer has advanced to the point he needs hospice care, will be in the stands at the new Yankee Stadium with his grandson, Billy DeSario.
The Cubs fans, who left for New York Thursday, have never been to a game together.
"I think this is a beautiful thing," Cannistra, 75, said. "Hopefully, it's not our last game."
Cannistra says he can't complain. After all, doctors gave him a few months to live - six at the most - when they diagnosed him with cancer. That was nearly nine years ago.
The Chicago native lived most of his life in Niles, where he and his late wife, Gloria, had four children. He worked as a road construction foreman, retiring in 1999. Now he lives with his son, Mike, a Sox fan.
"When I hear him hollering at the TV, I just say good because I figure (the Sox are) losing," Cannistra said, laughing.
DeSario, 24, grew up two doors down from his grandpa. He said their tightknit Italian clan thrives on storytelling and food. Most of the family flew in for Cannistra's birthday in February.
"I haven't seen him that happy in a long time," DeSario said, adding it's been tough for Cannistra since his wife died last year.
Cannistra has a soft spot for the Bronx Bombers. He became a fan when his son, Johnny, lived in New York. But his allegiance remains clear.
"My Cubbies will win, no question," he said.
A lot of planning went into the trip given Cannistra's illness. Rainbow Hospice and Palliative Care in Park Ridge arranged for a partner to provide temporary care in New York. An oxygen tank was also delivered to the apartment they're staying at in New York.
Aside from some coughing and shortness of breath, Cannistra said he's feeling good. He skipped his regular coffee meeting with friends on Tuesday to save his strength.
Cannistra is confident the Cubs will break their three-and-out curse come October.
"Hopefully," he said, "me and Billy can be there when they do."
UPDATE: The Cubs lost last night 7-4. Hopefully, the result will be different today. John Cannistra and Billy DeSario deserve to see the win. Actually, every grandfather and grandson (or granddaughter) ought to be able share the experience of seeing their favorite team win live at the ballpark.
UPDATE #2: The Cubs lost again. This time, 10-1. I'm bummed they lost, but more than that, I'm sorry for Mr. Cannistra and his grandson.
Friday, April 3, 2009
When I was a senior in college in 1993, I decided I wanted to move to Washington DC. I knew no one and had no potential job connections, but knew that if I got a hotel room for spring break and pounded the pavement, I'd create an opportunity. On the first day of my Spring Break, I got on a plane with a huge stack of resumes, my only business suit, comfy walking shoes, and a DC guidebook. I knocked on every door in Washington and made everyone speak to me until I found a job. Well, not a job, exactly, but an unpaid summer internship at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As August in DC rolled around, I realized I still was without full-time employment and would have to return to Chicago if I didn't have a job by Labor Day (per the deal I'd made with my parents). This was the last thing I wanted and I kept talking about the job I wanted in DC. Through the miracle of a blind want ad in the Washington Post, I landed my dream job the day after Labor Day and only had to return to Chicago long enough to pick up my winter clothes and drive back to DC. I had put my dreams out to the universe of being in DC, worked to make my dream come true, and I had seven of the best years of my life.
Fast forward to late 1999 when I was talking to a friend of mine and he asked if I'd ever return to Chicago. The truth was that as much as I loved DC, I missed my family and being able to attend the spontaneous family get-togethers. I told my friend that I might move back after President Clinton was out of office in January 2001. Much to my surprise, three months later, in March 2000, the universe presented me with the opportunity to return to my hometown and I took it.
Two years later, in the Spring of 2002, I was working for a company I wasn't terribly happy with. On two separate occasions over a two-week period, friends familiar with my work situation asked me what I'd do if I could create my dream job. I told them both that I'd be working in politics. Although I had volunteered on numerous political campaigns, I really wanted the opportunity to work in a paid capacity on a campaign. I had previously been offered a job in fundraising on a state-wide primary campaign, but something about it hadn't felt right and I had turned it down. About 10 days after my second conversation, my phone rang and I was offered a second opportunity to work in fundraising on a different state-wide campaign. Because opportunity doesn't often knock twice, much less more than that, I took the job. Again, I had spoken my desire to the universe and the universe answered.
I have two other dreams that are beginning to come to fruition. I can't talk about them yet, but they're both dreams I've had for years. I've slowly built the foundation for these dreams becoming reality and now that they seem to be happening, I couldn't be happier. And don't worry, when I can speak about them, Little Merry Sunshine is where I will break the news.
I know that many of you reading this will think it sounds hokey that I could simply speak my wishes and poof they came to fruition. Let's be clear, that's not exactly how things happened. I did verbalize my dreams into the universe, but I also worked to make my dreams come true by building up my qualifications or knocking on doors so that when my desires came true, I was ready. Sometimes it's a matter of unknowingly speaking my desires to the right person who can help me turn them into reality. But no matter what, putting my dreams into the universe is an important step in turning them into reality.
Just for fun and to remind you and me that it's not hokey to put your dreams out into the universe, take a minute to read the lyrics to "When You Wish Upon A Star" the famous Disney song. I know we all remember it from childhood, but until a friend pointed it out to me today, I hadn't ever really listened to or read the words.
When You Wish Upon A Star
Music by Leigh Harline / Lyrics by Ned Washington
Performed by Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards)
When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you
If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do
Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing
Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true
So get out there and start speaking your dreams and then get to work. If you build it, they will come.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
In that spirit, Little Merry Sunshine is pleased to endorse the following candidates for elected office in Arlington Heights.
For the 2-year term on the Arlington Heights Library Board of Trustees, Deborah A. Nelson, is strongly endorsed and easily the candidate of choice. Frankly, this was a no-brainer. Deborah was appointed by the Board of Library Trustees to fill the seat of retiring trustee, Jim Bertucci, in April 2008. At that time, not knowing any of the board members, she applied for the position and went through an interview process where she competed against other highly qualified applicants. Deborah's 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector including customer service, strategic planning, public relations, and fund raising, lay the perfect foundation for a dedicated library trustee. Community service and volunteerism are a part of Deborah's make up going back to her days in the Service Over Self club at John Hersey High School. Now she pays those lessons forward to a new generation by teaching the Character Counts! program at Patton Elementary School and founding the Random Acts of Kindness Club of Arlington Heights. As part of the Library Board of Trustees, Deborah is serving on the Board's Long Range Planning Committee, is the Board's liaison to the North Suburban Library System, and was part of the unanimous vote for a 0% tax levy. Deborah's commitment, character, experience, and integrity make her the ideal Library Board Trustee and I strongly encourage you to vote for her on April 7th.
For the office of Village President (aka Mayor), Little Merry Sunshine endorses Mayor Arlene Mulder. Although I have not always agreed with all of Mayor Mulder's decisions and would like to see more transparency in village government, continuing her leadership just makes good sense. After attending the Mayoral Forum sponsored by the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce and researching both candidates on my own, I came to the decision that Arlington Heights continues to need the leadership, vision, and commitment of Mayor Mulder. In addition to being the Village President, Mayor Mulder serves on a number of boards and committees, locally, statewide, and nationally. She also works across party lines to bring money into the Village. In spite of the lack of pay, Mayor Mulder treats her position as a full-time job. As the 7th largest town in the Chicago Area and the 12th largest town in Illinois, Arlington Heights needs a mayor with this kind of dedication. Mayor Mulder is also highly accessible to residents and this is part of what makes Arlington Heights a great place to live.
Although I am not making endorsements in the other races, I encourage you to educate yourself on the candidates and vote on April 7th. To do that, visit the Daily Herald's Election 2009 section. There, you can choose each of the races from a pull-down menu and read biographies of each candidate, and all stories, letters to the editor, and endorsements related to the races. To find your polling place, visit the Cook County Election Department at voterinfonet.com.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
So what's the problem, you're wondering?
Thanks for asking.
The problem has been that I've also had a bit of ADD. I start one post and then start thinking about one of the 12 others I've got bouncing around in my brain. And then nothing gets written.
So then I go get in the shower, where I always have my best ideas and attempt to flush out one entire blog post. And I'm wildly successful. I write the perfect posts out loud. Until I get back to my laptop and try to put all that brilliance down on LMS. Then the whole process repeats itself. I completely forget all the brilliance I developed in the shower. And I'm back to thinking about all 12 of my posts again.
I have a new idea. I need a waterproof laptop or I need someone to follow me into the bathroom and write down my every word. Of course, this someone would also need to scrub my back. I wonder how much a secretary would cost.