GNO: We Built This City

Saturday night was a girls night out that I’ll never forget. First, celebrating with a dear friend before she packs her bags and moves to Portland, OR was incredible. (Thanks so much for inviting me, ladies!) And finally crossing Item 7: Sing Karaoke off my list was icing on the cake.

If you can’t tell by the title of the post, I chose Starship’s We Built this City. I have been practicing this song in my car while driving for a really long time (like two years).

The thing about singing karaoke is that I’ve done it in groups before. Usually, I stand towards the back or mouth the words to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun into a single mic with five other women. But, this list item was for ME to actually sing karaoke. Alone. To vulnerably put my self on a stage and, like, grow as a person or something … I don’t know why it’s on the list but it is.

And, it happened. The crew of ladies I was with did join me as back up singers and dancers on stage. But, I grabbed the mic, stood front and center, and belted out my best 80’s rock n’ roll in a world all my own.

And I was horrible.

I had visions of people cheering and dancing below me – throwing their hands up in the air as they swayed around overwhelmed by my vocal power. I thought I might possibly be discovered by a talent scout who frequents Denver dive bars. You know, all the reasonable stuff that happens in movies.

Instead, when I looked out over the crowd, I saw people just hanging out in a bar. Some were watching (but not smiling) and most were just going on with their evening (at least they weren’t booing, right?). They continued to talk and drink their PBR’s while I put my heart and soul into Marconi playing that mamba. Ah, sometimes life isn’t like the movies.

While it was definitely anti-climactic, it was also fun. And more importantly, it is crossed off the list and I never, ever have to do it again.

I’m so grateful to my dear friend for inviting to girls night out to celebrate her big move and letting me check this lingering item off the 30 Before 30 list (two years later … oops).

While I don’t have any proof because, thankfully, no one took any pictures, I’m pretty sure I looked like this (who doesn’t want to feel like Ke$ha!?):

Image

Happy Tuesday, friends! Did you make a fool of yourself this weekend?

Image Source.

Something Scary

I’ve recently finished My Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock.

Heard of it? In short: Inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote, “Do something everyday that scares you,” Noelle Hancock set out to live the last year of her twenties facing her fears every day.

Sound familiar? Like a 30 Before 30 list…perhaps?

First, I loved this book and I highly recommend it.

Second, with every page I devoured I thought, “This is the book I was meant to write.” Since my 30 Before 30 list, I’ve wanted to write about that year and the adventures I went on. Not all of my list items were fears, but you can definitely see a similar theme. No?

The thing about my urge to retell my 30 items in book form is that I’ve always felt that I should write a fictional tale. I mean, my actual adventures weren’t interesting enough to keep a reader eagerly turning the pages….were they?

She definitely did more interesting activities than I – instead of deep sea fishing, she went diving with sharks. Instead of running a marathon, she hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro. Instead of joining a volunteer association, she volunteered on the cancer floor of a hospital. She actually sang karaoke solo….. I still have yet to accomplish that item.

Okay, thanks. I’ll take second place.

But wait. Here’s the thing – my biggest takeaway from her story is that she was honest about who she was. And she spent a whole year learning about and accepting herself (did you notice the bold italics….. ).

Hmmm…. Surely a story about belting out an off-key version of We Built This City in front of a rowdy crowd of bar patrons would be more exciting than the fact that I never actually sang karaoke (Item #7). Right?

After reading Hancock’s book, I’m starting to wonder if telling the tale of what actually happened might be just as good.

On the eve of my 30th birthday, mere hours before the clock struck midnight and my twenties became part of my past, my list became the topic of dinner conversation among colleagues. After hearing about taking a self-defense class, planting a tree, going vegan, and which of the three Godfather’s I liked best, my boss asked, “Is there anything you haven’t done?” My answer: solo karaoke.

Thus began a pilgrimage to all the area bars we knew of in search of a karaoke machine. Promising that he (and the entire table of coworkers) would join in the fun, my boss charged into multiple watering holes, yelled, “You got karaoke?” and quickly left when we heard no.

You can imagine my relief disappointment when we finally found a bar that offered karaoke on a Wednesday night….only to discover their DJ was out-of-town that week. Whew.

Defeated, we hunkered down at table and talked about the songs we would have sung. We laughed at each other’s choices and toasted to my 30th year.

Okay, maybe that story isn’t as good as actually singing Starship (and possibly performing a dance I’d choreographed to accompany it) but it’s real. It’s life. It was a fun, silly night and a great way to end the year of my list.

Reading My Year with Eleanor not only fueled me with inspiration to write my own story, but it got me thinking about accepting me for me. Accepting ourselves for who we really are can sometimes seem scary but as Eleanor wisely said, “Do something every day that scares you.” What better place to start that with yourself?

So, tell me, what have you accepted about yourself? Have you faced any fears lately?

Thankful Thursday: Change

Happy Thursday!

Last Sunday, I was hanging out at a plant nursery and I stumbled upon this frog.

I immediately started giggling at a memory from a rehearsal dinner six years ago. A dear friend of mine looked over at the host’s garden and saw a similar statue of a pondering amphibian and said, “That frog makes me think.” Naturally, all the guests in the vicinity looked from her to the frog and then back to her and burst out giggling.

While that may not strike too many of you as funny (maybe you had to be there) I tell the story because as I looked at that thinking frog, I realized how much has changed since the night of my comedic friend’s statement. Oddly enough, that frog got me thinking.

I thought about the happy changes that have occurred to my family and friends; having children, new homes, graduations, new jobs, engagements and other expected, positive life events. And then there’s been the harder changes; loss, illness, broken relationships, and impacts of a failing economy.

Personally, the changes that have impacted me the most have been in the last two years (six years ago when the frog statement was said I was married, living in the same house, had the same job, etc). But, two years ago, I woke up one day realizing that I wasn’t very happy with many aspects of life. Determined to change, I started the list. Fast forward a little more than a year and the biggest change of my life occurred, I got pregnant.

And today, I am extremely thankful for those changes. The list helped me out of the negative place I was in. It helped me achieve goals I wasn’t sure I could do and gave me confidence in my abilities. And being pregnant taught me so very much about what is important to me, allowed me to finally accept my body, and really helped me get so many aspects of life in order to prepare for the new addition.

Without the changes of the last two years, I know I wouldn’t be in the good place that I am today. Spending the last several weeks with my little boy and learning to be a mom has been the most fulfilling change yet. With every day, he changes as he grows and develops at an astounding rate. I can’t wait to see what changes the future brings!

P.S. I chopped off all my hair, too. Here’s to changes!

Eager to Learn

Happy Wednesday!

Last week, during my little hiatus from blogging, I finally visited the Northern Colorado Writers’ office for a seminar. Attending a writing class/seminar was on my list and I had found a class through NCW to attend last spring. Well, schedules changed, conflicts arose, and sure enough, I couldn’t attend. Finally, after what seemed like ages, the stars and schedules aligned and I was able to attend a session last week! Wa-hoo!

The class I took was “Organizing Your Writing Life,” hosted by Kerri Flanagan (pictured below). I couldn’t have picked a better topic to kick off my first visit to a writing group. One of the things I struggle with the most is finding the time and self-discipline to just sit down and write.

Of course, I showed up late (seems like what I really need is an “Organizing Your Life” class, huh?), took a seat, and pulled out a new journal that a good friend gave me as encouragement to start a book (thanks, buddy!). I inscribed a little motivation on the inside cover.

Overall, the class was awesome! I gained some valuable insights into the world of freelance writing, learned a few tips for organizing my time, and picked up some great resources.

Honestly, I was surprised by how much I learned from the class. I assumed I’d walk away with a snippet or two of information, but instead left with my head full of ideas, new plans, and an enthusiasm to start writing more frequently!

I enjoyed the class so much that I plan to attend more sessions and possibly join the group as a full-fledged member (not sure if my blog really makes me any kind of writer but hopefully they’ll take me!). I left the class a happy gal:

How about youIs there something you’ve been wanting to learn about, a class you’ve wanted to take, or a new skill you’re hoping to pick up? Tell me about it and what you’ve done to start working on it!

Well….Now What!?

I am so shocked by the number of people who have asked me where I finished up on my 30 Before 30 List and what I’ll be posting now that it’s done. Additionally, I am AMAZED at how many of you have told me that I’ve inspired you in some way! I’m pretty sure that’s the best compliment you can recieve. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I started this blog way back in August of 2009 and wasn’t really sure what would happen with it or where it would go. With the creation of the LIST, things really picked up and I can’t believe it turned into such a fun adventure!


I have big plans for the future of this blog and as it gets shaped into its new form I will continue to post various projects and happenings. The first thing I feel I must post is where I ended up on the list! I didn’t write about all of my items because, honestly, I thought they’d be boring posts, but you can link back to MOST of them.
 
Unfortunately, I did not complete the list. :( There are five items that are not crossed off BUT I will NOT give up! I am still working on these five things and can’t wait to cross them off……what I guess is now some kind of bucket list…
 
Seriously….I really need to get to a place with karaoke…can you believe in the last 7 months I wasn’t around a karaoke bar once!?? I know…I’m super lame.
 
Anyway, thanks again for all the feedback, fun notes and compliments on the 30 Before 30 adventure! Here’s where I finished up!

1. Run a marathon

2. Keep a Plant Alive for 6 months

3. Join Junior League of FC

4. Read 5 “Classic” Novels

5. Plant a Tree

6. Go Vegan for a week

7. Sing Karaoke Solo

8. Take Writing Class/Workshop

9. Try Pilates

10. Go Skydiving

11. Ride the Poudre in a Sea-bearing vessel

12. Learn to cook John’s favorite Gourmet Meal

13. Write a Children’s Book

14. Watch 5 “Classic” Movies

15. Volunteer at Church

16. Learn to Knit

17. Watch the Godfather Trilogy, Beginning to End

18. Take a Self Defense or Karate Class

19. Read the Entire Bible

20. Take a Cheesy, Kissing Photo on a beach with my Spouse

21. Write a Non-Profit Business Plan

22. Stop being a Procrastinator

23. Learn to Cook 5 Meals

24. Ask for and/or Receive a Raise

25. Give Blood

26. Invest More in Future/Retirement Plans

27. Achieve a “Flat” Stomach

28. Go Deep Sea Fishing

29. Relearn the Piano & Master One Song

30. Try Kickboxing

30 Before 30: Items 18 & 21

I was inspired by one person to do both Item 18: Take a Self-Defense or Karate Class and Item 21: Write a Non-Profit Business Plan. That person is my cousin, Jonathan Edward Delorenzo, who passed away at a far too young age in 2007.

Jonathan was a martial arts instructor and at his funeral I was overwhelmed with emotion by the number of his students that attended his services and the outpour of support from where he taught. I was inspired then to do two items below in honor of him.

Item 18: Take a Self-Defense or Karate Class

To honor my cousin…and for safety (I travel quite a bit)…I signed up at Elite Martial Arts for a Self-Defense class in Krav Maga fighting.

Our Instructor

It was AWESOME! I learned how to get out of someone choking me (hopefully that will never present itself as a situation I need to get out of)! I also learned how to get out of someone holding me by the wrists in a number of scenarios, how to punch and how to effectively maneuver in an attack situation! It was educational and a blast! I recommend getting a basic course in self-defense to all the women out there…and you men too!

Pow!

You can’t get me!

Item 21: Write a Non-Profit Business Plan

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a non-profit organization in Jonathan’s name for quite awhile. He lived in New Jersey, where most of my family lives and where the non-profit would be based, so I imagine my involvement in the future of this organization would be quite small. But, with the volunteer experience I have, I thought I could at least help get one started by researching how to set up and organize a non-profit and suggest a plan for the mission.

To be honest, the plan is not completely done. I’ve drafted a pretty good outline including the instructions for how to start a non-profit in the state of New Jersey, a mission statement and an overview of how to host two events; a gala fundraiser and a martial arts tournament. Once I’m completely finished, I will provide the information to my aunt, Jonathan’s mother, and allow her to decide if and how to proceed.

The organization will focus on the martial arts tournament, providing scholarship and awards to students in the program, while fund-raising for Autism research and advocacy – a cause very important to my family.

Both of these activities allowed me remember and honor my cousin. A huge THANK YOU to him for the inspiration and for watching over all of us, we miss and love you tons!!!

Jonathan Edward Delorenzo

30 Before 30: Items 14 & 17

I am happy to report that I have completed the entire Godfather Trilogy! I’ve decided that Godfather I counts as my fifth movie for Item 14: Watch 5 “Classic” Movies and of course completing the trilogy allows me to cross Item 17: Watch the Entire Godfather Trilogy, Beginning to End off my list!

 

WOW! What amazing movies! As I’ve said so many times, I can’t believe I didn’t do this sooner! I can say pretty assuredly that the first one was my favorite (the spouse likes the second one the best).

 

Overall, I was very surprised at how dark they were….I know that sounds silly since they are mob movies…but hear me out. I watched the Sopranos religiously, Goodfellas is one of my favorite movies ever, and I’m super into Boardwalk right now (well, until the season just ended). So, I went in to watching these movies thinking I’m probably pretty desensitized to all the violence, crime and whatnot.

 

Was I wrong! All those other shows and movies did NOT prepare me for a horse head (and that’s all I’ll say about that so as not to ruin it for the rest of you). So as not to give away any details of the movies, I’ll just let you know what I thought. The first one was really, really dark, the second one was painfully sad and in the third, I was so overtaken by emotion, I literally finished the movie with tears streaming down my face.

 

So, so, so good.

 

This trilogy is truly an amazing group of films with outstanding actors in every one. I was moved by all three movies in a surprising way and absolutely enjoyed all three from beginning to end. I recommend them to EVERYONE….you all should see and know these classics!

30 Before 30: Item 4, Part 3

My most recently read “Classic” novel is a book I’ve been interested in reading for years and years. I’m excited to say I’ve finally read Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte.

Unfortunately, its the day before I turn 30 and I have two classic novels left to read before I can officially cross Item 4: Read 5 “Classic” Novels so I guess, since close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, I have to mark this item as a FAIL.

However, the book was anything but a FAIL! I adored Jane Eyre! It moved me, made me smile, made me cry and even inspired me!

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

First published in 1847, Jane Eyre is the story of the title character who is orphaned, plain and poor and forced to live with her upper-class, unloving aunt. After a childhood of neglect, she is transferred to a boarding school which at first seems more torturous than her childhood oppression. After time, however, Jane blossoms in her boarding school and even becomes a teacher at the school in her young adult life.

With her integrity, drive and spirits stronger than ever, Jane leaves the boarding school to start a new life as a governess in Thornfield Hall. She falls in love with her employer, Mr. Rochester, and the two embark on an impassioned courtship. However, the bliss doesn’t last as long (as the reader so desperately hopes for Jane). A dark secret tears her away from Mr. Rochester and she is once again orphaned, poor and all alone in the world.

Jane Eyre kept me turning page after page! I was full of emotion and drawn deeply into the characters throughout the entire book. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a classic suspenseful story full of romance and mystery.

30 Before 30: Item 14, Part 4

WOW! I loved An American in Paris! It was completely my kind of movie…singing, dancing, romance, humor…perfect! Only one more movie to go (and one day!!) and I can cross Item 14: Watch 5 “Classic” Movies off my list.

An American in Paris is the story of American painter, Jerry Mulligan (the dreamy Gene Kelly), who lives in Paris and falls hopelessly in love with Lisa (Leslie Caron), a young French woman. Unfortunately for Jerry, he’s already involved with an American gallery owner who becomes quite “stuck” on him and, to add to the drama, Lisa is engaged to a cabaret singer, Henri.

The movie flows through their complicated love story capturing the viewer with timeless song and dance until Jerry is left standing on a balcony while Lisa runs off to marry Henri, wondering if he’ll ever see his love again. And…I’ll guess you’ll just have to watch it to find out if he does :)

Overall, I thought this was a great movie, and I’m not the alone! Not only is this film high on most “Classics” lists, but it also nabbed seven Oscars.

30 Before 30: Item 23, Part 5!!!!

Well, it is official! I’ve completed Item 23: Learn to Cook 5 Meals!

It’s kind of sorry that it has taken me this long to only cook 5 times….but hey, you gotta start somewhere, right? I’m pretty stoked about this accomplishment because I have not been known to be good in the kitchen…in fact, I’ve been known to be downright bad!

So, for my fifth meal, I made Chicken Tacos with Homemade Guacamole! Enjoy!

What You Need for the Chicken Tacos:
  • 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 4 Flour Tortillas
  • 1/2 Tomato
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Green & Red Bell Peppers
  • 1/8 Cup Diced Onion
  • 1/4 Cup Lettuce
  • 1/4 Cup Shredded Cheese
  • Salsa
  • Sour Cream
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, Pepper, Cumin, Chili Powder, Paprika, Cayenne
And Action:

In a large pan, heat olive oil and add diced onions. Cut chicken into small strips and add to pan. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, paprika and cayenne (approx 1 teaspoon each…less on the cayenne if you’re a sissy). Add Diced Green and Red Bell Pepper. Cook thoroughly.

Add salsa to pan, mix into chicken. Remove pan from heat.

Warm up tortillas and add chicken, shredded cheese, tomato and lettuce. Top with salsa, sour cream and guacamole (recipe below).

What You Need for Guacamole:

  • 2 Avocados
  • 1 Tomato
  • 2 Slices Red Onion
  • 1 Lime
  • Cilantro
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • Hot Sauce
  • Salt, Pepper, Chili Powder, Cayenne, Paprika
Guacamole Action:

Chop avocados, tomato, jalapeno and onions. Add to a large bowl. Season with salt, pepper, chili powder, cayenne and paprika. Squeeze in lime juice. Chop cilantro finely and add to bowl. Squeeze in a couple squirts of hot sauce.

Mix all ingredients together, leaving the avocados a bit chunky (instead of completely mashed). Taste and re-season or add hot sauce to reach desired flavor.

Serve with chips or Chicken Tacos!