Friday, December 26, 2014

Day 93 Merry Christmas, Carnegie Museum, presepio

Today was a time to decompress after so much hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas Day.  Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book,  ends with the reminder that Christmas  is the time  “when joy came. One night in a manger,  under a star, a night witnessed by both shepherds and kings, when gifts were given to a waiting word…the gift of love.”   It was great to reflect on this at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History where the museum’s Hall of Architecture was   transformed into a winter wonderland with  huge decorated  trees and  a 18th Century Nativity.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Day 92 Pittsburgh Penguins

Growing up in Pittsburgh,  it is sacrilegious  to not be part of the  sports  culture, with our Steelers, Pirates and Penguins teams but I have to admit that I was never much of  a sports fan. Yikes I said it!     I guess that’s ok because according to Maslow's theory , a characteristic  of a self-actualizer  is "resistance to  enculturation, but not being purposely unconventional."    Therefore I am willing to try to be more of a sports fan  and  I have recently  learned more about sports by accepting the invitation to attended some Penguin games.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 91 Black Nativity

Nativity Pittsburgh 

I have seen many traditional interpretations of the Christmas story but when invited, I  jumped at the opportunity for a new experience - Langton Hough’s  story of Jesus’s birth  from  another cultural perspective. Like in Day 83 (Cambodian Ballet), I continue to “try  new things  instead of sticking to safe paths,” a  behavior of a person seeking to be “the best that they can be” or  to be self- actualized according to Maslow. I explored Pittsburgh’s Shona Sharif  African Dance and Drum Ensemble's performance of The Black Nativity.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Day 90 Share the Nutcracker

In this journey of new things I can’t really say that  going to the the Pittsburgh Ballet's Nutcracker  is a new experience. I have gone too many times to count and as expressed in Day 83  (Cambodian Ballet),  I am always in search of someone to accompany me to one of my favorite things -the ballet.  It is even better  when you can fuel a  friend’s  novel experience with the show and they love it! This
 blog is about- sharing a Christmas passion  with someone.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Day 89 Oh Christmas Tree

Everything I Need to Know about Christmas I learned From a Little Golden Book starts out, “Christmas is coming! ..Yikes! …there’s just  so much to do.”   So even with my  cracked rib I managed to get the tree up and decorated over Thanksgiving weekend. 

Growing up our family had the infamous hodgepodge tree with silver tinsel  but I  longed for a perfect looking department store Christmas tree.  So when I left the my childhood humble abode, I strived for a lookalike. Even though I  never  quite made it,  I attempted a department store tree clone  every year and tried a different yearly theme. This year  it’s “white, gold, angels,  and crystal  stuff.”  I love sitting in my Buddha position writing on my computer  with the glow of the tree  lights and remembering the significance  of every  ornament.  It brings a peace.  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Day 88 House of Blues Gospel Brunch (Chicago)

There is nothing more uplifting than  the praise and worship  music from a gospel choir.  My blog inspiration,the book, Everything I need to know About Christmas I Learned from a Little Golden Book, recalls that   Christmas brings “the gift of love.” Therefore I was excited to kick off the Christmas holiday by remembering the “reason for the season” at the House of Blues Gospel Brunch in Chicago.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Day 87 Enjoy the Season like a Child/Chicago

New Book, Love it!

Christmas starts earlier every year but I don’t mind  because I love it all: lights, decorations, winter, snow, family, food, and the celebration of our Lord.  So while in Chicago, I was excited to “celebrate the season” as reminded by my friend Diane in her new book, Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned from a Little Golden Book

The holiday windows  were one of my favorite yearly family traditionin Pittsburgh and I went every year with my son. This  emptynester  enjoyed them  at  Macy's in Chicago. I also hit the grand opening day of Dylans Candy Bar,  and bought the candy from my childhood, “Flying Saucers and Zots,” found in the "vintage/nostalgic candy section."  As I visited each  window and ate candy-I was a kid  again!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Day 86 Treasures/Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago(AIC)  was art heaven to me! We  did not go until the second day of the trip and I have to admit that I was thinking about  going  the entire first day. I have been to the Metropolitan in New York but the AIC is the  second largest art museum in the U.S , known for  its impressionist, and post-impressionist art, with a collection second only to the Louve in Paris!  I could not wait to see my favorite artist’s works up close  but as Little Golden Books recommends I had to “be discriminating” so I could see the most  art in the time that I had. That morning I  went on line and had a plan of attack! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Day 85 Happy Thanksgiving/Chicago finest food

If you're tired of turkey then your might enjoy thinking about Chicago ‘s finest foods.  

I wanted to try everything Chicago  and this girl loves to eat so I was ready to  indulge in Chicago's finest foods. My first  stop- Deep Dish Pizza at Bella Bacino.  Chicago invented the stuff  and it sure was not like the pizza from the chain restaurant UNO.  It was over an inch thick and stuffed with spinach and cheese-yum.  One slice filled me up but I had two anyway and one more for breakfast the next day!

Day 84 Visit Chicago( getting there)

Most people go south in the winter so it seemed  a little backwards to go  to the “windy city” were it is even colder than Pittsburgh.  Maslow says that a self actualized person does not always follow the norms and  so I packed a good warm coat and some cute hats (see Try A Hat, Day 51) and headed to Chicago, where  deep dish pizza was invented, cracker jacks were introduced,  and  Batman’s Gotham   City was based.  I had never visited this 3rd largest city behind  NYC and LA (both of which I visited several times). Therefore it seemed like a perfect  place  to explore in this journey of trying new things  and  I had a bonus feature –a  tour guide that used to live there!  

Flying into Chicago you realize the enormous size of the city because the lights seem to go on forever. I usually drive to NYC so this was a beautiful sight. Ironically, I had a touch of the beach  when I entered the W Hotel.  The lobby had flashing lights, an art deco style and  Miami sounding music playing. I felt like I was in South Beach and ready to go dancing.  This place screamed "have fun", which was I intended to do! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 83 Royal Ballet of Cambodia


Little Golden Book "Daddies" 1953

I love to watch dance and I have a passion for the ballet so it easy for me to “take in some culture” as Little Golden Books recommends.  My running joke is that, “ I will marry the first guy who willingly goes to the ballet with me.”  I have  not found that one guy yet but  luckily some go and  pretend to find it interesting.  I had no idea what to expect when I decided to try the Cambodian Ballet but  to obtain self -actualization I thought I should behave as Maslow suggested and “try new things instead of sticking to safe paths” (Maslow Theory) .

This was truly  an immersion in Cambodian culture. The dance was so very different from how we dance  in the United States. The costumes were uniquely beautiful as were the dancers.  The movement was like watching a movie in slow  motion with every move being  precise and isolated.  The women had memorizing eyes and just a slight turn of there face or head changed the feel of the dance. It reminded me of a cobra in a snake charmers basket, relaxing and hypnotic. The music was nothing like our music and after a few songs, I must admit, the music was a bit too

Monday, November 17, 2014

Day 82 Visit a Memoral 2 (West Park)

USS Mane-Spanish American War Memorial

A few days before Labor Day I enjoyed what may have been the last of the warm Pittsburgh  weather  and found myself in West Park, the park on the North side of Pittsburgh near the Aviary. I discovered that there were quite a few monuments  in this park.  In this new journey, I vowed  that I would no longer just walk past them ( Day 5) .  I found an interesting looking cannon which  was a tribute to the lives lost during the Spanish American War  and  a Civil War Monument in the distance.   I decided to “be patriotic” as  Little Golden Books suggested and explored these monuments, learning about the USS Maine.
Civil War Monument  - West Park

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Day 81 Give in to a Good Cry

Little Golden Book "About God" 1956

My son is sick and he is seven ( 7) hours away.  I am looking at the mess in the spare room, boxes in the game room, the papers stacked on the table and I am asking “ how am I going to clean this house,  get the decorations and lights up, and cook the perfect dinner in two weeks. How am I going to have the perfect holiday. It's hopeless!”  On top of that I am starting to feel a scratch in my throat, a drip in my nose and a cough starting. But - MY SON IS REALLY SICK AND HE IS SEVEN HOURS AWAY.  It is now time to cry!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Day 80 Overcame the Steps-Fineview Step-a-thon

19th annual Step-a-thon Oct 18, 2014

Life is one step at a time and boy, what a good view you have when you reach the top!

The thought of trying the Finview Step-a-Thon which is a 5mile run/walk careening up and down 14 different city steps and hills  started in September (see Day 52 ) .  At first  I thought that this race would be as much fun as sticking a needing in my  eye because I am not in that great  of shape but after a month of exploring Fineview and making it a personal challenge, I was excited when the race day finally arrived. 
This race gave me a reason to explore an area of Pittsburgh that I knew nothing about.  Since I did not want to have a coronary, my cousin and I  walked the steps  weekly the month before the race, passing familiar streets, making friends, and realizing that this place was a little “gem in the rough” with a fantastic view (See Day 53). (I must admit that my cousin who is in great shape, joined me as my supporter since he could have  easily tackled this race without any preparation. Thus we laughed our way though most of our “training” walks).  A resident that we met  talked about Fineview this way, “people come up here for only three  reasons: 1) they live here, 2) they are visiting someone that lives here or 3) they are lost.”   

Monday, November 3, 2014

Day 79- Elmo and Cookie Monster Pumpkins

Who doesn't love cookies!

(Got to smile back at that) 

I was going  to a pumpkin carving party and since I am no Martha Stewart  and since in the past I left the carving to others, I solicited ideas  that would involve minimal carving from my co-workers. I am not one for scary things even though the day before(Day 78) I went to the Scare House.  Therefore as  Everything I Needed to Know I  Learned from A Little Golden Book instructs, I “expressed myself "   by creating my Elmo and Cookie Monster pumpkins.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Day 78 Scare House

I am one of those “chickens” that do not watch scary movies. The few times that I have watched a scary movie was with my teenage son because I was desperate to have some time with him.  (I am not sure why  all teenagers seem to love horror flicks).  However, I had to sleep with the hall light on for a week after each movie and so  going to a haunted house was a huge challenge for me. I am not sure how my friend talked me into going but I was told that it  was  “good creepy” fun so I pretended to be brave and went to Scare House on Halloween night.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bigfoot Discovery Museum (Day 62-77)

During my writing hiatus (Day 62-77) when visiting  Santa Cruz California, I did not anticipate  that I would end  up at  the  Big foot Discovery Museum. It was my friend’s excitement about this creature that prompted my tired noodle body from a position of rest to “explore what is out there” as recommended by Little Gold Books.

The Bigfoot Discovery Museum is located in the San Lorenzo Valley of  Santa Cruz which is a wooded area. It is only two rooms but you can see the famous creature citing footage and some plaster foot prints. The best part of the Museum was talking to  Mike, who had white hair and a white beard  and who looked more like Santa than the curator. He was passionate about this Sasquatch and if there is an expert on this creature he would certainly fit into that category. He articulated his encounter story which occurred when he was four (4) years old. He also proudly brought out a “Bigfoot tooth” found in the area. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Convertible Joy Ride (Day 62-77)

Living in the north east,  where keeping warm in the winter is essential, and  where the amount of warm sunny days are limited to a few months , it  seemed  impractical  to own  a convertible even though my dream car has always been a SAAB  convertible (not sure if  they even make that car any more ). So  when I was in Northern California during my writing hiatus (Day 62-77),   I took a “joy ride” as Little Golden Books suggested, and cruised  the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1A) in a Red  Camaro.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Enjoy a Wedding (Day 62-77)

Weddings make us think about a life together is better than life alone. 

Paper Doll Wedding 1954
It’s ironic that I have not been to a wedding in years and now it’s a wedding fest in October.  This was a new challenge to travel so far  and visit  two new destinations (California and Utah) in an effort  enjoy  two wedding occurring during my writing hiatus (Day 62-77).  My blog inspiration, Everything I Need to Know I  Learned From a Little Golden Book, reminds us to not “forget to enjoy your [a] wedding.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

Team Becky-Step Out for Diabetes Walk (Day 62-77)

Becky's Bruisers Oct 5th

During my writing  hiatus (Day 62-77), I  was on Becky’s team for  the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Step Out for Diabetes Walk. I am not sure how I got so altruistic this year with the Alzheimer’s breakfast (Day 27) , the walk for Ovarian Cancer (Day 57) and this latest walk, but it’s really all about being present for your friends, relatives, and your community. They were all great causes and as noted in Maslow’s concept of personal growth, a self-actualizer  is concerned for the welfare of humanity (simple psychology ).

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ducky Tour (Day 62-77)

During my writing hiatus (Day 62-77), I took a Ducky Tour, a land / amphibious tour of Pittsburgh. In the past, I thought that these tours just were too “cheesy” (another Pittsburgh original description), for a native Pittsburgher  like me to try.  I never thought that I would be one of those persons sitting on an obnoxiously  bright “bus/ boat like thing,”  chiming in with the others, and yelling  “quack, quack, quack” at city walkers on their  cell phone. My excuse for the tour was that I had to try to find a light non- threatening environment in which to introduce my mother to my friend but down deep, the big kid in me really just wanted to go! I also think  I fulfilled Little Golden Book’s advice to “frolic”  and Maslow’s child  like self –actualization characteristic with this challenge.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 62-77 Blogging Paradox- Got too busy

(Oct  1 to 15) We all have a story to tell.
I took a hiatus from writing even though I stayed committed to trying new experiences. Consequently, I became so busy that I did not have the time to blog. What a conundrum when you don’t have time to write but crave it like a good piece of chocolate or better yet, a little loaf of fresh baked spongy soft Italian bread with butter-yum! 

Golden Books 1954
Therefore, the next few blogs will be reflections of the past  two weeks. The first  week   involved  fun stuff in Pittsburgh, and the next week involved traveling  the northern California coast, attending two weddings and also visiting Utah. The latter  resulted in moving almost every night and covering a lot of ground in five (5) days which gave  birth to another dilemma - finding a way to pack for varied climate changes. Girls, I know that you understand this paradoxical situation!  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Day 61- Three Months of Blogging!

Every Good Thing (click to listen)
My blog should be called, "Empty Nest a Whimsical Way That I Survived and Self- Actualized". Life is Good like the tee shirt says. (Wonder if there is a tee shirt out there that says"Empty Nest- Life is Good".)

Day at camp in September

Its hard to believe that  it's been 3 months of blogging! (I started July 2nd and today is October 1st ). After the daily summer blogs, I kept going like the energizer bunny.

I have had a blast and I have found peace and forgiveness in my present season. More importantly, in three months, I have strengthened past friendships and developed some special new ones. In many ways, I miss the daily "mom role" but I am content, balanced, proud of my son's growth and looking forward to this season in life.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Day 60 SMA-Skully's Wish Gala

I was invited to a Gala at the Children's Museum,  to raise money to cure SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). This is a rare disease that affects children by interfering with the motor nerve cell in the spinal cord thus depleting a child’s ability to walk, eat, and breath.  I really did not know much about this disease even though I am in the health profession and  did not know that it’s the number one genetic cause of death for infants. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

59 Try a Hat

Other than a baseball hat, a ski hat, or an occasional beach hat, I am usually hat-less. However, when my girlfriend met me for lunch looking so stunning in a black and white hat, I thought that for this challenge I would “try a new look” as Every Thing I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book suggested and add a hat. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Day 58 Black Keys Concert

I continue to make “music a part of (my)  life” as Little Golden Books recommends. Even though I traded in the guitar sound for the Banjo in Day 56 and “changed up the music” to my beloved Jazz sound in Day 15 , I accepted an invitation to hear the Black Keys which I understood to be a very rock /guitar based two ( 2 ) man band.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Day 57 Ovarian Cancer/Support a Cause 2

This weekend was a beautiful, crisp, sunny day, a day to feel hopeful and as Little Golden Books exclaims, to “think big” for a cure for ovarian cancer. There seems to always be a walk for a cause during this time of the year but today this was an extra special walk because I was able to get together with some awesome ladies  to support a special women in our life who is fighting this disease.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Day 56 Banjo Night

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book directs us to  “make music a part of your life.”  In this new journey it’s time to trade in the familiar guitar sound and replace it with something different like the  banjo. What better place to do that than to go to Banjo Night, a weekly Wednesday  event at the Elks  on Pittsburgh’s North side. There is no cover charge and  this party runs from 8pm to 11pm.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Day 55 Cucuzza (gaguzza)

 Cucuzza (gaguzza)

Garden with Cucuzzi
As the weather begins to chill and autumn arrives, I start to think about cooking squash and  making pumpkin pie but what about a CUCUZZA! This crazy looking thing was brought to me by my cousin who even has a Youtube video on growing this alien gourd.  Ask a Sicilian and they will smile when they talk about the “serpent quash” that can grow up to 3 or 4  feet with the vine growing 7 inches a day. There is even a song about it (Click here to listen). This challenge was to eat a cucuzza and have a flash back “old country” Sicilian experience.   

Sunday, September 7, 2014

54 Paint Nite

Picasso look out!
 It was  a night to “express myself” as Everything  I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book recommends. I don’t have much drawing or painting ability. The stick man has always been my  friend, nevertheless, I gave it a try at a “"Paint Nite Party"  at a local restaurant.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Day 53 Stariway to Heaven 2

 View life from a different perspective.
more steps!

In my quest to train for the Fineview October 18th, Step- a- Thon (Day 52), I began to, as Golden Books suggests, “Explore what's out there.”  By chance I  found the Fineview Fitness Trail which has a  bunch more city steps! My legs have not felt like noodles from all the Pittsburgh city steps so my friend's personal workout in Day 21 must have helped!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Day 52 Stairway to Heaven

Pittsburgh steps -150 steps
Take our trials one step at a time.

Top Cascade Mt, NY 2012
Two years ago,  my son and I  climbed Cascade Mt  one of the 46 highest peaks(4098 ft) in the Adirondacks  in Lake Placid. Last  year  we navigated the steps and  streets in San Francisco but I have never ventured on the Pittsburgh City Steps.  Everything I Need to Know I Learned From A Little  Golden Book suggests that we "exercise every day". Therefore, I am  on a new mission to  tackle  the Pittsburgh city steps and maybe take part in the Fineview Step-A-Thon, which is  5 mile run/walk that explores 14 of  Pittsburgh's city steps on October 18th.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Day 51 The Next Season/Mermaid

(Please read Day 1 if this is your first blog visit)

When summer is coming to an end, there is something special about soaking in the sun, enjoying the blue sky, and relaxing at the pool, especially when we know that it may possibly be the last pool day of the summer.  It is even  better to commiserate with another empty nester- my son’s girlfriend’s mom.   

This was a  day, as Little Golden Books recommends, to “savor the season”, celebrate it,  and look forward to the next one. As in Maslow’s theory,  this was also a day to continue the journey  into the next season.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Day 50 Swinging a Golf Club

I have to call it “swinging a club” because I am not sure if my actions at the driving range could be classified as golfing. Many years ago, I used to occasionally go golfing.  I have golf shoes and clubs, however I have not had time to play in years.  Maybe I was  “thinking big,” as Little Golden Books recommends, but I thought that I might try to start playing this sport again.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 49 Festival of Hope

Song-Mighty to Save

I have been to all kinds of rock concerts but I have never ventured to a Christian/rock concert.  On my way home from my Purdue visit, a last min text united me with some friends at the Festival of Hope. Little Golden books reminds us to “give thanks” and this was a great way to give thanks with music. There were groups from  the Charlie Daniels Band to Michael W. Smith (listen) and Billy Graham's son, Franklin Graham spoke.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 48 Rodeo

(Please Read Day 1  if this your first blog Visit)

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book  invites us to “play hard”. I think a Rodeo fits in that category.  I have always loved horses. I used to ride English saddle and I  have been to horse shows and polo matches but for this challenge I was  ready to “cross over the tracks”
and go western at the North Washington Rodeo.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 47 Chainsaw

Enjoying a bonfire with some friends gave me the opportunity, as  recommended by Little Golden Books,  to “learn something new.” In  my  new journey, striving to be self sufficient in all things is a continual goal and   so I jumped at the opportunity to learn how to cut up the wood and start my own fire!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Day 46 Fishing

I have never been one to go fishing.  Fishing  just seemed too much like a low energy sport and I am not good at waiting for something to happen. I am more  of a “make it happen” type of person. Little Golden Books reminds us to take a mental health day and since this a new journey- I tried fishing when I was in Columbus, Ohio.