Tuesday, January 11, 2011



Since I always arrive fashionably late, I figured it would be appropriate to come up with my New Years Resolutions on 1.11.11, rather than 1.1.11. There really is no reason for the delay other than the fact I didn't slow down enough until now to even think about my goals for this next year. But now that I have.....I expect you all to keep me accountable.
Please and Thank you.

*Disclaimer to the reader: These "resolutions" -if you will--are in no particular order. They are randomized. Just like me.

       OH, AND BE GOOD AT IT .
        ~This is off to a fantastic start I must say. I made the best darn fajitas in America tonight. And I'm not exaggerating people.  They were simply scrumptious!
*Side note: I did not claim they were better than fajitas made in Mexico. That might possibly be a lie.*

        ~Now I know this does not sound like a very lofty goal to you work-out freaks, but for someone like me that literally cannot recall the last time I was on a treadmill...this is huge. Getting motivated during the winter to get off my couch on my day off is going to be extremely difficult for me. Difficult, but necessary. I'm sick of being in the hibernation station.

        ~I want to give more. But I want to do it anonymously. What's the fun in picking up a random person's tab in a crowded restaurant if they knew it was me? I feel like I have always tried to do random acts of kindness every now and then. The difference is I used to enjoy the "thank you" way too much. I want to pay it forward in hopes that the generosity will continue down the line. It's much more rewarding to give to others anonymously. A smile from a stranger can speak volumes. =)

        ~For no other reason than to prove to myself I can get good grades when I apply myself, I would like to graduate my MT program this August with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA. This would be very easy to do if I did not have 2 jobs on top of my studying, but I know without a doubt it is an attainable goal.

        ~If I need to re-read Dave Ramsey's book and listen to his cd's when I drive to work, I'll do it. Although I am much better at budgeting now than I was a year ago, there is still plenty of room for improvement. I want to get my finances under control and begin saving $ each month. Because this whole "barely scraping by" thing? It's getting incredibly old.

        ~Although I have discovered a newfound passion and appreciation for Him, I still find it extremely difficult to put God first in my life. The desire is there, but the execution is not. I'll admit it. I am determined to stop blaming my busy schedule and start taking steps in the right direction. (Like actually opening my Bible more than once a month...) Whoops. Too honest?

        ~Easier said than done, eh? I need to stop taking the little things in life for granted, and start counting my blessings each and every day. I need to change my attitude from always wanting more, to simply being content with where I'm at. I don't know why but I always think I am missing out on something; therefore, I often overlook the present.

        ~(A.k.a. practice what I preach.) It is very apparent that I hold a soft spot in my heart for those less fortunate than me (insert 1st blog here), however, I am just as guilty as anyone for not putting myself out there, getting my hands dirty, and doing something to help them. Sure, I might throw in some loose change when I see them on the streets, but that's where it stops. Or rather, where it stopped until now. I have the opportunity to volunteer w/ the homeless ministry at my church every Sunday and I am going to start taking advantage of it. I want to be a good listener, a good friend, and an instrument of hope to those less fortunate than me.

        ~Let me explain: I want to start reading the newspaper. I want to pay attention to the news. (real news, not 'E' news, the Today Show, and Oprah Winfrey...which are all on at work every morning). Anyway, I want to be more informed on both a local and international level. I used to watch the news often, but got sick of hearing about yet another teenage suicide, bullying episode, or a gang shooting. So although it can be depressing at times, it still aids in becoming a more well-rounded individual.

          ~Laugh all you want. It probably sounds silly to most, (including the boyfriend), but it is the only reality show I can think of that I would ever want to be on. And not for the fame or money...I want to be on the show so I can travel to other cultures and meet people from all over the world. Literally. I would be able to see how other cultures function, how some get by with next to nothing, and yet still manage a smile. 
(Ok, ok...my competitive nature may also have something to do with this goal;)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My home away from home.

I think I am finally settled in enough to allow myself to look back over the past year and reflect on what I have learned since moving thousands of miles away from everything and everyone I love. Rather than write about it in essay form, I figured I'd make a list.... So here goes nothing......

These are the TOP 10 things I have learned since moving to the Windy City....

#10-- Downtown Boise does NOT have high-rises......downtown Chicago has high-rises.

#9-- Making quality friends is not as easy in a city of 3 million people as it is in a city of 250,000.

#8-- Jumping out of a plane was the most exhilarating, freeing feeling I have ever experienced in my life. And more importantly? I can now cross it off of my bucket list. =) 

#7-- I do not have to be a social butterfly 24/7 to "be cool"...I have actually become quite content hanging out with myself. And I realized the reason I was the energizer bunny in Boise (always going, going, going) probably stemmed from deep-rooted insecurities. I was not comfortable in my own skin and needed to be distracted constantly so I wouldn't be left alone with my thoughts.

#6-- I am a naive small town girl that has always looked for the best in people....it has become apparent that I cannot trust everyone I meet. Some people simply have ulterior motives from the get-go.

#5-- Everyone in Chicago thinks there is nothing but potato farms and a blue field in Boise--and a lot of them don't know the difference between IOWA, IDAHO, and OHIO. It's quite amusing when I am asked if there is a lot of corn in Idaho.

#4-- Crying myself to sleep due to an extreme case of homesickness was a regular occurrence the first 6 months I moved here....and I never told my family (until now) because I didn't want them to tell me that it could so easily be solved by moving back. I am too stubborn to give up and did not want them to worry, so I pretended I was fine.

#3--I found I can jump back into school after 5 years and remember how to study. Believe me, I didn't know if it would be possible considering how little I studied in undergrad.... 

#2-- Being away from home has forced me to rely on God more than I've ever had to in my life...and I must say, He's a pretty cool dude. Not many people can say they have the most loving, supportive family in the world, but I can. And I wake up every day thanking Him for how incredibly blessed I am.

#1-- No one told me it would take almost a year to become settled in a new city. I guess I thought all of the puzzle pieces would magically fit together immediately. But I have come to love the big city. I've made several fabulous friends in Chicago, I am 1/3 of the way through my Massage Therapy program, I love my Chiropractic Assistant job, am fortunate enough to nanny for 2 of the most well-behaved kids ever, found an amazing church, have found a passion for Broadway, dance, reading, and art, and best of all? I get to be with the man I love each and every day. =)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chasing Sunsets? Really?

Most of you are probably wondering how on earth I came up with the name "Chasing Sunsets" to describe my blog.... Wait, let me rephrase that. Not most of you...more like all four of my readers. To be honest, so did I until a few days ago. Besides the fact I have always been in awe of the enchanting beauty of a vivid sunset, I've found there is something more to my odd addiction..........

I literally chase sunsets. Really. It happened for the first time a few weeks ago. I was coming home from a coffee shop and was heading up the hill to my apartment when I saw it. 

Saw what??? 

Oh, just the most amazingly gorgeous sunset I have ever seen before in my life. It was truly magnificent. Now normally, I would quickly acknowledge it and go on with my evening. But this time I couldn't take my eyes off of the surreal display of colors in the distance. Intrigued, I passed the turn to my place and kept driving. At first, I began racking my brain for some reason to continue in the direction of the cascading colors spreading across the sky in front of me. "Don't I need anything at the Dollar Store? Oh wait, I could always stop at the ATM up the hill...There IS that adorable boutique a couple of miles ahead....It's probably still open..."

Then I laughed out loud to myself. (This is one of the rare occasions I could justify throwing an LOL in there but I'll resist...well, kind of.)  Anyway, I decided I didn't need a reason to keep driving. What would I be doing at my apartment anyway? Studying for my test tomorrow? Psshhhh. Clearly, this was more important. So I decided right then and there I was going to chase the sunset ahead of me. I didn't know how far I would have to go to actually touch it, but it looked like it couldn't be more than a 28 minute drive. So why not?

With the windows down, the wind in my hair, the radio turned up, and a curious smile on my face, I set off on yet another sporadic adventure. I was going to attain the unattainable. I wasn't just going to drive towards the glorious sunset, I was going to drive THROUGH it. Oh yes, this is my imaginative mind at work now.... What was on the other side anyhow? Another galaxy, maybe? Perhaps I would come face to face with Aladdin and go on a magic carpet ride in this "Whole New World" of mine. (No pun intended.)

Well folks, this particular evening turned out to be one of those thought-provoking times where I was able to silence my mind long enough to focus on one pressing question.... What on EARTH was I doing? Really though....who chases the setting sun??

Me. That's who. 

Why, you may ask? Well I have been pondering this question for several weeks now and this is what I've come up with.....

I thought I was simply chasing a breath-taking array of colors in the evening sky. I thought I was looking for any excuse to put off homework and waste time on a picturesque autumn evening. Then reality hit.

I was chasing perfection. I was chasing a world that seemed too good to be true. But more than anything?? I was chasing...my dreams. Dreams that seem so close at times, yet remain just out of arm's length. Dreams that have been mocked by others and thus swept under the rug in shame. Dreams that seemed unachievable so I disregarded them as just another "silly idea." Yet all at once those dreams came rushing back to me with a flood of emotions I was not prepared for. And all at once I was confronted with something much more than just a pretty sunset. I was confronted with my never-ending fear of failure, risk, and rejection.

Now, I have never been someone that will settle for mediocrity in life, and I am confident I never will be. However, I AM someone that has about 36 ideas a day, and I only attempt to implement one or two of them due to the fact I don't handle rejection and criticism well. For example, I want to help the poor, but I find myself tempted to listen to the pessimists around me that feel they should be spending time looking for a job instead of wasting time begging for money. I want every child to be given the opportunity to experience the endless love and affection I was always shown growing up. However, I know this is not possible because unfortunately, there is a growing number of pathetic sperm donors out there that have no interest whatsoever in the well-beind and future of their child. It's sickening, really. And for the longest time, I just sat back wishing there was something I could do to make the world a better place. I wallowed in self-pity. "It's too bad I am only one person and don't have any real influence in the community in order to make a difference...." 

Finally, my ignorance wore off and I had quite the epiphany. I CAN impact the world. I just have to get off my butt and start actually helping others, rather than just talking about how bad I feel for the less fortunate. Recently, I have felt a relentless calling to volunteer in my community. And instead of continuing to make excuses about how busy I am, I simply re-prioritized my life. If helping others is the one thing that never ceases to make me smile, why would I not make the time? So I have finally started to give back. 

Don't get me wrong....I'm no Mother Teresa. I still have my selfish moments. I'm never quite content. I feel like there is always more I could be doing to help others. I think that is why I was chasing the setting sun a few weeks ago. I was putting the 'pedal to the metal' and hoping I could reach out and touch just one life before the sun once again set on my relentless dream of leaving the world a better place... 

That is why I believe in chasing sunsets. 

To Have Succeeded

To laugh often and love much:
To win respect of intelligent people
And the affection of children;
To earn the approbation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give one's self;
To leave the world a little better,
Whether by a healthy child,
A garden patch,
Or redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm
And sung with exultation;
To know even one life has breathed easier
Because you have lived...
This is to have succeeded.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Drinks, Drugs, or Dinner?





Above are three examples of homeless people with good hearts that have chosen the path of honesty rather than deceit. Since I came across these examples within 2 minutes, I believe it is safe to say that there are plenty more out there that can be trusted. All I ask is that you read the following blog with an open mind and an open heart. You are entitled to your own opinion, as I am to mine. Just try to see where I am coming from. My ultimate goal in this is that we can learn to treat others as equals, and to trust in humanity once again.........

Since I am choosing to reflect on a controversial subject, I am fully prepared for varying opinions on this particular topic. Many of you have most likely had a personal experience with this and have thus formed a strong opinion on the subject. I, for one, have had mixed feelings on the matter for years, but have finally chosen to believe the best in others.

Since moving to the 3rd largest city in the United States just over a year ago, my eyes have been opened to diversity. I have also encountered more homeless people in this past year than I have in my entire life. Now, I know merely mentioning "the homeless" is making several of you roll your eyes due to preconceived notions.

"Why can't they get a job like the rest of us?" "What makes them think I have any money to spare? These are tough times for everyone!" Or, even more commonly, I hear: "Why would I waste my money on someone that is just going to spend it on drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes?"

I am not saying that these opinions are not warranted. Even in my personal experience, I have been disappointed more than once by the reactions of some when offered food instead of cash, or warm socks instead of a beer. However, I truly believe with all my heart that there are plenty of homeless people that genuinely prefer food, a warm coat, and a bed to sleep in (instead of the alternative: a cardboard box) much more than alcohol and drugs.

While there are plenty of homeless people that truly are lazy and have no desire to ever get a real job, I know this is not always the case. What about the sixty year old man that lost his job due to company lay-offs and had to foreclose on his home because he could no longer pay the mortgage? How about the woman whose husband divorced her after 35 years of marriage and left her with no money, assets, or home? I could name several more examples of those who, unfortunately, have been dealt tough circumstances and are forced to cope with the inevitable: being tossed onto the street. And who are we to judge them?? Maybe they are a drug addict, a scam artist, or a struggling alcoholic....Or maybe--just maybe-- this way of living is new to them. Perhaps a means to an end; the only feasible option to feed themselves while they search for a job and a path to a better life.

I am tired of people mocking me for having compassion for the homeless. Is it really that amusing that I would drop a $5 bill in a cup? Or, if I happen to have warm socks in my purse and feel compelled to give them to the man outside with horrible frostbite walking on self-made cardboard shoes in the middle of January? Maybe they appreciated the gesture, maybe they didn't. Perhaps he used that $5 for McDonalds, perhaps he didn't. The truth is I really don't care. The fact of the matter is that even when I feel I am in extreme financial trouble, I still have twenty times more than those out on the corner that are struggling just to eat once a day. Does it make me naive to give someone the benefit of the doubt every now and then and drop some spare change into a bucket?

I don't care what people think anymore. If there is even a slim chance the homeless woman used the money for lunch, it was worth it. With the holiday season right around the corner, I hope we can all find it in our hearts to treat those less fortunate than us with more respect. If you cannot help them monetarily, that is absolutely understandable. Just try looking them in the eye next time you pass them on the corner instead of avoiding their gaze at all costs. It is not our place to judge them and make assumptions. I am guilty of doing it myself. I'll admit that it is hard not to draw our own conclusions about why they may be begging instead of working. But only God knows their circtumstances. It's taken me a long time to realize a very simple truth: that they are people too..people that deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt. ***