Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Short Guide to a Happy Life

When I was at my Mom's on Thanksgiving she gave me a bunch of novels she had read to see if I wanted to read any of them. When I was looking at the selection a little slim book caught my eye, "A Short Guide to a Happy Life". I pulled that one out, and read it in one sitting. Have you ever read something that just spoke directly to your soul? This book did that to me.

Ann Quindlen wrote the book after loosing her mother to cancer. She writes how this one event in her life changed the way she lived forever. She no longer was a person who let life pass her by, but she suddenly had an overwhelming desire to live deeply every day. She became a better friend, a better employee, a better listener. She was present, she showed up, she laughed. She ate fudge and she enjoyed it. She went to events instead of sitting home. She started doing all the things she had always planned to do.

This year on Thanksgiving I am grateful for so many things. I have a life full of adventure, wonderful people, and comforts that most people take for granted. But more then that, I realized after reading this book, that I am grateful that I too, have learned the same lesson as Ms. Quindlen, and I share her overwhelming desire to live. I have made most of the same changes she has in her life, and I am a happier person for it. I show up, I listen, I laugh. I have learned how to find happiness in the little things in life, and to never take things for granted.

I will end this with my favorite passage from the book, one that truly explains how I feel, one that reaches into my core:

"I learned to live many years ago. Something really bad happened to me, something that changed my life in ways that, if I had a choice, it would never have been changed at all. And what I learned from it is what, today, sometimes seems to be the hardest lesson of all.
I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that this is not the dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010


This week I took my first trip to Chicago. I cannot wait to go back! What a fantastic city! I am sorry to say I did not take my camera with me, but I don't know when I have been so impressed with a city.

The downtown area was full of old historical buildings, beautiful architecture, and so much character. The Wrigley Building was incredible, and in my mind way out shown the Sears Tower. (OK yes, it was impressively tall!) There was a River Walk along the river, as well as a paved bike and running trail all along the lake. The lake, of course, being Lake Michigan, and so large that it looked just like the ocean. Beaches and parks were everywhere. On Sunday when I arrived I walked along the water, and then out onto Navy Pier. What a great family attraction - there were rides, there were restaurants, there was shopping, and there was a large (and free) stained glass museum full of beautiful stain glass works from around the world.

After the pier I walked down the Magnificent Mile. Store after store after store, anything you wanted, it was sold on this stretch of road. There was a huge Macy's with the giant display windows like NYC. And here was one of the best parts - it was so clean! I'm not sure how they do it.

But maybe the best part was the pizza. OK we've all been to Pizzeria Uno's at the mall. LOL. This is nothing at all like that. This was by far the best pizza I have ever had! It was so fresh and full of cheese and so very delicious. I would go back just for the pizza!

So, if you've never been, I highly recommend a weekend trip to Chicago. There is something there for everyone. Be sure to try the pizza! :0)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sweat for a Vet 2010

So today I participated in "Sweat for a Vet 2010". For 3 hours I joined about a thousand others worldwide in spin class. Yep, 3 hours of spinning. The event was held by the man who created the spin bike - he has a new invention, a krank bike. The krank bike is a spin bike that you pedal with your hands. It's a great upper body workout, and Sport & Health clubs in the area are going to start having spin/krank classes that have both kinds of bikes in them - providing a full body workout!

But today was for the local vets. Together we raised over $70,000 for Walter Reed Hospital to get outfitted with these new krank bikes. These new bikes provide cardio exercise as well as rehabilitation for all of the disabled vets at the hospital.

It was truly inspiring to me to attend the class with so many vets. I mean think about it - when was the last time you were in a spin class, with an empty wheelchair next to you? There were several vets from Walter Reed in class using the krank bikes. With these bikes these guys can get an awesome cardio workout, as well as build incredible upper body strength.

I am grateful today for many things, that I have two legs that work and that my health is good enough that I can spin for 3 hours. But more then that, I am grateful for all of the vets who have fought, and continue to fight for our freedom. God bless America!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

So, life isn't fair....

I grew up in a family that honestly believes Life is Fair. My Mom taught me and my sister, that if you are a good girl, you go to church and say your prayers, and you are a nice person and a hard worker, then you will go far in life and in happiness. In retrospect I know Mom believed this to be true.

After cancer, loosing my father, diabetes, loosing my job, and now the crumbling of my marriage I know for a fact, life simply is not fair. Sometimes you can do your best, you can be a nice person, you can go to church and say your prayers, and still have it all fall apart. You can still loose those you love, you can still get sick, and you can still watch all of your dreams float away.

Mom learned this lesson 3 years ago when she lost the man she loved to cancer. They had saved there whole lives for retirement, they had trips planned, they had dreams, they had ideas. But none of those were realized, cancer took Dad before they were able to take those trips, buy those cars. It was recently that Mom told me how hard it was to give up all those dreams, and how difficult it was for her to try and think of new dreams for her future, dreams that could not include Dad. Sadly after 69 years Mom had finally realized, life isn't fair.

This weekend though she took a big step. This weekend she drove 6 hours to visit her best friend in the whole world. I'm sure they are sitting out on Sally's porch now looking at the lake talking, laughing and crying together, true sisters at heart. I'm sure Mom is overjoyed at being there, and seeing Sally in person. And I know that she is thanking God for her friend, and for the lesson that Sally has taught us all - to keep trying. You see 2 years ago Sally, a perfectly healthy 50 year old nurse, mother to 6 kids, had a massive stroke, a stroke that left her paralyzed on an entire side of her body.

The fact that Mom took this step inspires me to keep going and to keep trying. And her best friend Sally reminds me to stop worrying about what is going wrong in life, and always be thankful for what I do have.