October is now officially over and I’ve had four days to catch my breath a bit and begin working on our spring programming. This is the time each year when I look back at all the successes (and failures) the last 365 days have brought our way and try to extract lessons and ideas to improve our upcoming programming for 2012. Maybe that is why I’m feeling a little introspective? So far in this blog, I’ve brought you quotes from Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare…so I had to laugh when it was one from “Sex and the City” that resonated with me today. Lately, in both my personal and professional life, I have experienced the strangest feeling that all the pieces are falling into place. Have you ever felt that way? It seems that I spend so much of my time searching for stuff…the perfect course idea, instructors, pair of shoes, money-making idea, relationships…the list never ends. This summer, for me, it all just became too much.
In early August, I went to Chicago with a good friend (B.) for a conference she was attending. My initial plan had been to crash a few of the sessions and spend time working on my thesis (which should have been finished and defended a year ago.) As we boarded the train to leave Carbondale, I was stressed to the max from a combination of both work and personal changes/setbacks. I literally wanted to take my packed bags and run away without ever looking back. During the trip, my friend and I vented all of our frustrations to each other as we watched the scenery roll by. Two hours into our trip we stopped complaining and began to focus on how to move forward. We both like to think that we are smart women, so there had to be an answer. How could we let go of the pain, stress and disappointment of the last few years? By the time we arrived at our hotel it felt like Michigan Avenue retail therapy might just be the answer. Later that night (with full stomachs and considerably lighter wallets) we both agreed that our night out had been great but a larger and more life-changing answer to our problems had to exist.
In the morning, my friend left to go to the opening session of her conference and I stayed behind getting ready and preparing for the workshop I had decided to crash (like any good nerd, I felt compelled to learn something even if I wasn’t “officially” at work.) As I looked out the windows of our hotel room, I could see Lake Michigan sparkling in the sunlight. It was a beautiful day. I caught myself wondering why I always felt like I had to know the answers, to excel, to push, to be perfect. I had four whole days off and what had I decided to do with it? Did I even know how to relax anymore? In a snap, I sent a quick text telling B. that I was changing my plans. I didn’t have a clue where I was going but I figured I would know when I got there. I headed down Michigan Avenue toward Lakeshore Drive and eventually, as all tourists in Chicago seem to do, I ended up at Navy Pier. As I wandered down the Pier, I walked up beside a Tall ship named, fittingly for Chicago, the Windy. It had billowing white sails and looked like something from either a romance novel or a Disney movie. I suddenly didn’t care that I was alone in a city of strangers; I was going sailing on that boat. I bought my ticket and started up the gangplank. As I stood in line to board, I met a group of people who worked on planning and setting up the annual Chicago flower showcase. By the time we sat down, I had new friends. As we sailed away from the Pier and the famous Chicago coast, I had an epiphany. For one morning, I had quit looking for all the solutions to my problems and answers to my prayers…and when I quit, I found just what I was looking for. It is amazing how two hours on a pirate ship can change your life.
(Imagine that text to B. She asked me, “What are you doing?” I replied, “I’m on a pirate ship.” I would tell you her response but this is a “g” rated blog. LOL!)
I won’t lie and say that my life has been “smooth sailing” (I know…but I just can’t resist a good wordplay…lol.) I did, however, learn to quit LOOKING quite so hard for the answers and beating
myself up for all the failures and imperfections that are a part of life. When I got back home, I made some drastic changes to my life both at work and at home. It was awful. People who say they thrive on change and upheaval amaze me. I would rather hide under the bed until it all blows over…but I am so in love with the calm after the storm(<: I have weathered the storm and it is amazing to watch my office begin to function fluidly, ideas for classes appear from out of the blue and find my life suddenly infused with love and laughter. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!
I know that this is more personal than my last several blogs but I
wanted to share with you how I’m feeling as we head into this season of thanksgiving. I am truly thankful for all of you who continue to support our endeavors to bring lifelong learning opportunities to this region. We are blessed to have your support and welcome your suggestions for future programming ideas. We are also far from finished with our fall workshops. I hope to see many familiar faces in November and December. I also hope that you too will take some time to find your “pirate ship.” Do something that brings you joy. Stop looking so hard…it is amazing what you might find.
Oh…almost forgot…here is your recipe/tip/fun stuff for this week. In the spirit of this blog, I’m giving you something good for mind/body and spirit. Pumpkin-infused body products have become all the rage (read between the lines and that equals expensive.) Pumpkin’s orange color comes from carotenoids; wrinkle-fighting plant pigments that actually help neutralize free radicals in the skin. In addition, pumpkin is jammed full of vitamins C, E and A. It also has powerful enzymes that help to cleanse the skin. The seeds make a great, fiber-filled snack and you get the skin benefits from the pulp…sounds like a win-win situation to me! This is one of my favorite recipes to share for home-spa parties because it is not only great for your skin but you can eat it too and it is actually tasty!
Pumpkin Pudding Facial
In a food processor or blender combine:
2 cups canned pumpkin (yeah I cheated…use organic if it makes you feel better)
4 tablespoons of low-fat vanilla yogurt
4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
For facial: coat face and leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and pat dry.
To eat: mix in 2 tablespoons of cream cheese and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Light some candles, soak in the tub…enjoy!!!