LisaListed

The best things in life aren't things at all


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10 Things I Miss About Calgary

Yesterday I posted “Ten Reasons We Love Life In Chicago” – but I didn’t want Calgary to get jealous! There are definitely some things that we do miss about Calgary, after all I did compose a love letter for Calgary about a year ago which I will post soon.

Ironically, as I type this… it is SNOWING in Alberta… like real snow. It’s May 6th, 2015. Guess which picture is taken today in Calgary and which picture is taken today in Chicago:

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I wish this was a joke, but it’s just a way of life. No one is surprised by this, yet nobody welcomes it either.

Okay, let’s get on with it shall we? Obviously, I miss our friends and family…  let’s collectively “awww” over that for a minute…   I also really miss our accent! Yeah, I know you are reading this and think to yourself “I don’t have an accent…” But we really truly do! I get SO excited to hear it when I speak to most of you… people from Northern Alberta have it the most. “Eh”, “sorry”, “about”, etc are all very true to the stereotype… and I’m darn tooting’ proud of it! Alrighty then, let’s move on to what I miss about the city itself, shall we:

1) Second Cup – The Pumpkin Spice Latte and Gingerbread Latte seriously makes me homesick during the winter time. There is no comparison. Suck it, Starbucks… their PSL is more like StarSucks.

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2) Waves Cafe – The caramel frappes in the summertime are in a whole new playing field then all of the other frappes in the world. Yeah, I said it… I totally go whappe for their frappe!

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3) The Memorial Trail Stairs – Those stairs are a lung burner, a thigh burner, a butt burner… but I LOVE them so much for these reasons! I cannot find a hill, let alone stairs, in Chicago to improvise on. I loved the commadery and respect of other stair lovers as well. “Started from the bottom….”

 

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4) Glamorgan Bakery – Cheese Buns. And donuts. And sausage rolls. And cream puffs. And cheese buns again. Hint: microwave the cheese bun for 10 seconds and your life will forever be changed into a ooey gooey cheesy goodness!

 

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5) Rat Free since ’93 – don’t quote me on the year, it just has a nice ring to it. Rats.. gross. Dear Americans reading this… yes, it’s true!

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6) Plus Fifteens – Best winter invention ever. Working downtown and walking through the secret passages from building to building deserves a Nobel Prize. Especially during the 8 month winters. I didn’t realize these were not in every city until I moved away… they are an absolute necessity in life.

 

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7) Jelly Modern Doughnuts – After one bite of their donuts, you’ll be willing to spend more than $3 per donut.

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8) Eau Claire Park and Stephen Ave – I used to love going to Eau Claire during my lunch hour to break up the day or else sitting on a patio on Stephen Ave drinking my day away

 

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9) Floating Down The Bow River – Can you miss something even if you’ve never done it? I was always dying to do this… One day!

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10) The Mountains – Have to give it to them… those mountains sure keep ya wanting to come back for more. We got engaged in the mountains, had our mini honeymoon in the mountains… so many special moments happen in the majesty of the Rockies!

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YES PLEASE!

 

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Calgary, you are where I became my true self. Where I met the man of my dreams. The place where I realized that life didn’t have to have limitations… That I decided settling wasn’t an option for me. Calgary, you were only my home for 5 years, but you will always hold a place near n’ dear to me.
I miss you, ya cold son of a gun!
And Albertans, I miss you too… Cheers ya tough troopers!
P.S. you definitely have the Canadian accent in case you are still in denial 🙂

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Enjoy Life,

Lisa


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Our Adventures Five Years In

Five years ago I met the man of my dreams. In fact, as time has passed, I realized that he has surpassed the man of my dreams on so many levels. Is it possible to feel as if we just met yesterday yet also feel like I’ve known this person my whole life?

When John and I met, we both felt all sorts of strong emotions that neither of us had ever felt before. After all this time, those strong emotions have gone away… but only to become fiercer, more intense and stronger than ever before!

When we first met, we were young. I was finishing up university and John was three weeks into his career. We happened to work for sister companies in the same building downtown and only three flours separated us. Since I was still finishing up school, I only worked part time but the days that I did work we would each leave our houses at the perfect time so that we could meet before work at our special spot and walk the few blocks together hand in hand. We would meet for lunch at least once a week and our coworkers would both make comments to us about how cute we were when they saw us together. We still meet each other for lunch once a week, even if that meant that a 12 block walk or a train ride just to see each other for twenty minutes and for that midday smooch. Since day one, we’ve never been able to get enough of each other and I’m so happy to say that we still can’t.

We have gone through so many life changes together and I can’t imagine what our life will look like when we get to a decade. Over the past five years, between the two of us there have been five moves, five jobs, three vehicles, two countries and a puppy! There have been ups and downs, positives and negatives but the one thing that has never wavered has been the love and respect for one another.

Although our looks and hair have changed a bit over the past five years, the way we feel about each other surely has not. We are celebrating this weekend by doing five things that we have never done before… today we kickstarted the “events” by going some place new for lunch.

Sticking with the “five” theme, here are five photos for each year that we’ve been together to highlight some of our favourite memories together:

2010:

Our First Road Trip

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Our First Calgary Stampede Together

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A fancy dinner and evening at the Calgary Tower celebrating our 6th month anniversary

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On “our bench” we discovered our on our first trip to the mountains together. This is where John eventually proposed. EEE!
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At Heritage Park in the fall time. Being our silly, sassy selves.

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2011:

Pre St. Patty’s Day Green Beer Chugging

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A helicopter ride in the mountains to celebrate one year together

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Christmas at my parents new home

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My University Graduation

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BBQ’inq and drinking beer in our backyard

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2012:

We had a stay-cation in Calgary and went to Calway park for the day (amusement park for kids)

 

IMG_0465He put a ring on it!
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We “I do’d”

 

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We mini-honeymooned in the Mountains. This is canoeing on Lake Louise

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An autumn stroll in a park close to our home

 

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2013:

Watching the sunset together in Whitefish, Montana

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Enjoying our honeymoon in Punta Cana!

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Just hiking n’ stuff in the mountains

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ERNIE!!!

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A trip to Edmonton

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We ran stairs here ohhhh too many times to count. The view was always worth it at the top.

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Just a typical Saturday…

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Walking in the provincial park right next to what was supposed to be our Forever Home

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Celebrating Christmas in said Forever Home

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2014:

Hiking in Palm Springs and keeping an extra cautious eye out for snakes

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Leaving our Calgary life behind for our Chicago life

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Drinking beer at our favourite place

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One of many “selfies” of us on my favourite bridges in Chicago

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Deeeeeeeeeeep Dishhhhh

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We’ve been to 2 Cubs games and 2 Sox games… we liked the hot dogs equally

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What our summer Saturdays typically look like now

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2015  has already been an amazing start and we are SO excited to see what else we can get up to in the next five years! And fifteen years! And fifty years!

Thank you, Lovely, for taking the time to read and celebrate with us! Cheers to you!

I love you, Honey, and I wouldn’t want to go on this adventure with anyone but YOU!

Enjoy,
L


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Emotional Hoarders Unite

My name is Lisa and I am an Emotional Hoarder.  Not to be confused with a “can’t throw away soup cans, have spiders crawling on my toilet, used kleenex collection” kind of hoarder. I’m more of a “saver of things that have some sort of emotional value” kind of hoarder. Actually I’m about 100 points away from being any kind of self proclaimed hoarder… the “H” word is a hard word to accept. Maybe denial is the first sign? Bear with me if I turn to anger next…

I tend to give things “feelings”.

I fought back tears when I sold my first car because I was certain that Henry Honda thought that I was abandoning him and I made myself believe that he (yes, “he” as in my car”) thought that he wasn’t good enough for me. Even after a few months (and right now as I’m typing this) I wonder how Henry is doing… if his new owners are kind to him and taking good enough care of him. I can’t bring myself to wonder if he’s actually in one of those auto graveyards…

From as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been this way. I didn’t really realize that this was an issue until my husband pointed out that I was giving my car feelings. Uh, didn’t everybody do that?! Hearing that this kind of behaviour was not normal was news to me!

I feel guilty about throwing something out that somebody has given me. Even if I don’t like it or if I never use it.

I have a chest that my Dad gave to me when I was probably ten years old that it full of cards, letters, poems, etc. given to me from people. Words that touched me. Even though I rarely go back and read them, and even though the top of the chest is completely busted, I will never get rid of the chest itself or the sentimental words within the chest. I will also probably never get the top of the chest repaired because I fear that the repair man will break it even more. That’s totally logical, right?

Within that chest there are letters from my deceased Grandma, she used to be my pen pal, and when she died I read all the letters and cards that I had kept from her over the years. If that’s not comfort, than I don’t know what is! Also within that chest is a letter from my cousin, Nicole. Nicole is about 15 years older than me and although she lived in an entirely different part of the country from me and we hardly ever saw her, I still idolized her and looked up to her growing up. I thought that she was THE coolest! Nicole went missing in Syria on March 31st, 2007 and although her Mom and Brother have done absolutely everything possible to try and find out what happened to her, sadly, it’s still an unsolved mystery. I have a letter from her from when I was about 12 where she had traced her hand for me… again, that was so comforting to me.

I have every single nice card or letter from my parents. I have every single card that we received from our engagement and our weddings. I have every single card that was ever given to me that was out of the ordinary… such as the card I received out of the blue with a gift card to Magnolia Bakery “just because” or the card I received my “Lovely” necklace with that was also “just because”. I have kept all the flower “cards” that I have received from John, especially the “just because” ones.  And if the card is homemade, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll keep that too.

For every single email account I’ve ever had, I’ve ALWAYS struggled to delete any non-junk related email. It’s pathetic really. I am pretty sure that I still have emails from when I was in grade 8. Don’t judge.

When we moved to Chicago, as I’ve mentioned before, we started brand new – selling most of our belongings in Canada. I had no problems getting rid of our furniture and such, but getting rid of things that have sentimental value to me is nearly impossible for me to do. Our friends in Calgary are keeping boxes of John’s and my childhood memories which the very thought of having to get rid of brings a lump to my throat. John had a dinosaur hat that was given to him that probably didn’t cost any more than ten dollars, but because it had sentimental value it made the cut and was brought to Chicago. Sadly, throughout the moving process it got crushed and ruined, and it was so tough for me to throw away. RIP Dino Hat

I’m also a hoarder of things that I can consider to be special and/or fancy. Case in point, I never actually wear my Lululemon clothing to work out in because I want to “save” them and make them last longer. I have clothes in my closet that I hardly ever wear because I want to “save” them for something special. I always save gift cards too because I know that once I use it, it’s gone. I will go to the store that the gift card is for and pay for the item out of pocket because I want to save my gift card. John forces me to use them, which I’m begrudgingly grateful he does. He also forces me to spend the full amount on the gift card because he knows that if there is money leftover, I will “save” it.

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I save fancy bath products that I receive to the point of where I hardly ever use them because I am “saving” them. Until recently I saved my first pair of boots that I had ever bought, but I finally managed to bring myself to get rid of them when they started to make me bleed… but even then I made excuses for them and tried to convince John that I would just wear thicker socks with them. I have saved a leather coat from my Grandma that hangs in our front closet that I have never actually worn before, I’m not even sure if it actually fits me to tell you the truth, but I will likely save that forever too. The jewellery box that my parents gave to me when I was probably 14 or so it completely busted from moving over ten times, but I can’t bring myself to replace it even though the top rests on top and the side doors don’t easily open or close.

Even as a child, I would always save my Halloween candy. I would eat my least favourite ones first and then hide everything else under my bed. I would allow myself one or two of my favourite chocolate bars, but my natural instinct was to save them. I would save my Halloween candy to the point of still having about 80% of it the following Halloween and I’d have to throw my last year’s stash of favourite chocolate bars away.

I’m a booze hoarder too. I HATE cracking open an expensive bottle of booze because I am saving it for sometime special. In fact, John and I have been saving a fancy bottle of Pinot Noir since we were boyfriend and girlfriend. Whenever John asked me if I wanted to crack it open, I would always tell him no, that I wanted to save it for sometime special. It’s been sitting there collecting dust for about five years and although we have shared SO many special times in our life, I still wouldn’t want to crack the bottle of wine. I didn’t even have a pathetic excuse as to why none of those moments where special enough to crack, all I knew was that I wanted to save it. For what? I had never really thought about what the perfect occasion would be that would make me WANT to actually open it… so we continued to save it.

BUT WE FINALLY CRACKED THE SPECIAL BOTTLE OF WINE!!

Last week was another loooooong week at work for John. Since August he keeps telling me that “this is the busiest time of the year”. Whenever I ask him when the “busiest time of the year” will finally be over, he doesn’t really have a concrete answer. Since August his hours have been getting longer and longer, and his stress levels have been getting higher and higher. He loves his job, don’t get me wrong, but having him come home around 9:00pm is starting to get really old. I don’t even bother starting to cook dinner until around 8:30pm most nights. This past week was probably the longest week he’s worked all week, and he had to go into work for Saturday and Sunday as well. Knowing that he had to work all weekend on top of an already really long week, we decided on Friday night that a glass of wine was most definitely necessary (to be clear, by glass of wine I really mean bottle… but glass sounds nicer.)

It was just a typical Friday night, nothing special or anything. We were wearing our cozy winter clothes, which include sweat pants, hoodies and for me a magic bag wrapped around my neck because I have I am always freezing if I’m not in a sauna. When John was selecting a bottle of wine, he first grabbed the Pinot Noir that we’ve been saving for the past five years. For some reason at the time, I didn’t fight it. So sweatpants, hoodies, magic bags and all, we popped open that fancy bottle, put our feet up and savoured each and every sip.

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What I learned from doing that, is that there was never going to be the “right moment”. There was never going to be a moment that I had deemed special enough to crack that bottle of wine. I would always find an excuse as to why we should save it for another five years. Instead of waiting for the perfect moment, I learned that just an ordinary Friday night was in fact the perfect moment! It helped me remember to live in the moment, to stop romanticizing about future moments, to stop pretending as if there would be an actual moment where I decided that “it was time…”

I learned that although I will likely always save all my letters and cards that I receive, and that I will still have a hard time giving or throwing things away that are sentimental to me, life is too gosh darn short to save the fancy wine. To not wear the expensive gym wear to the actual gym. To use the fancy soap on yourself. To eat your favourite chocolate bars first before digging deeper into the others.

Lovely, life’s too short to plan for special moments! Just pop open the fancy wine and enjoy it because tomorrow promises nothing. And for goodness sakes, you can always go and buy another bottle of wine to save for another five years!

Enjoy Life,

L


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10 Things To Stop Complaining About Tis This Season

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Complaining has become a national pastime. It’s been a gradual process, a creep of grumbling and carping that started out kind of wry, then, over time, became full-on obnoxious. We even complain about good things now, because it’s supposed to be cute or coy—implying that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We call our kids “a-holes,” go on and on about our high rents and mortgage payments in our comfortable neighborhoods, bemoan about the weather … IT CANNOT ALWAYS BE EITHER TOO HOT OR COLD!

Seriously, people?

Do we need some outright hardship to remind us of how great we have it?

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Nothing induces as much groaning and whining as the holidays, which have all the ingredients for the perfect self-pity pie: family, money, subtext and weather delays.

Enough is enough! If you have something to complain about this holiday season that isn’t a grave illness diagnosis, bankruptcy or a surprise serial-killer spouse, then shut up and sit down.

Here’s the list of the top 10 least bitch-worthy holiday gripes:

1. Houseguests

Yes, it’s taxing to have extra bodies crowding your couch, talking at you when you just want to watch TV after a long day, and generally changing the air quality in your home. But how lovely to have people who want to come and stay with you. And a home.

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2. Family (even if they’re #1, above)

They anger you, they frustrate you, they infuriate you. With a single raised eyebrow or shift in intonation, they cause you to revert to a cranky 7-year-old. But they’re yours, and you’re theirs, and—give or take one (or two of them)—you will miss them when they’re gone. So be grateful you even have a family whether they are near or far.

3. Eating too much

If it’s really a problem, don’t do it.

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Just! Stop! Eating!

Simple, right?

But if you’re going to eat—a lot or a little—savor it and start fresh tomorrow. But above all, do not complain because you have too much food. That’s just disgusting. And if you DO have too much food… give some of it away to people who would truly appreciate it.

4. Spending too much

See above. Just don’t do it. You are not actually contractually obligated to spend more than you have on other people. Anyone who expects that from you sucks.

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We put that pressure on ourselves. It’s a choice.

Let’s be real… do you even remember any of the Christmas gifts you received three years ago at the TOP OF YOUR MIND? Didn’t think so. But I bet you do remember when Jimmy accidentally lit the Christmas tree on fire three years ago!? Point made.

5. Work parties

You have a job. Shut up.

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6. Vegetarians/Vegans/Gluten-freegans/Pesca-what’s-a-tarians

Hey! How nice! You have friends!

Friends who have beliefs and care about their bodies!

And who want to come over and eat at your house and spend time with you!

Must be tough…

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7. People spoiling your children

But seriously now…people love your children, and children love to be loved and spoiled once in a while. This is definitely not the worst problem anyone has ever had. Some people show their love through expensive Christmas gifts… so thank them, appreciate them and be grateful that there are people out there who like your booger fingered kids.

8. If you’re too old to write to Santa, then don’t even dare writing a “wish list”

But for real… isn’t this the most obnoxious thing about Christmas? Handing somebody a list of items that you want them to buy you?! Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear ALL of your excuses… but none of them are valid. Nope, not even that one… NONE OF THEM! They all suck. And so does your wish list. Go buy everything yourself.

Don’t know what to get your friend or family member? How is that possible… you don’t speak to them and you don’t know their likes and dislikes?! Maybe instead of exchanging wish lists you should actually start by having a conversation once in a while.

If you are REALLY stuck get them a damn gift card – and to all you people who bitch and complain about receiving free money, then why don’t you just give that “awful, thoughtless gift” to the next homeless person you see on the street. At least somebody will appreciate it.

Pissed off that you spend way more money on somebody than they spent on you?  Looks like you need to revisit #4 again

 

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9. Weather

It’s either too hot, too cold. Too windy, too glumy. Too rainy, too sunny. Too much hail. Too much drought.

Complaining about the weather is a full time job… and what exactly do you think complaining could possibly do to change it!?

Especially at Christmas… there aren’t songs about a non-white Christmas! So shut up, suit up and grab your shovel. Or if you live in a land where there isn’t any snow at Christmas time and can roam the streets in your bathing suit… you best be shutting up extra hard.

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10. Travel

You have people to go see and the disposable income to buy a plane/train/stagecoach ticket. The crowds are terrible, people behave in direct opposition to the principles of the holiday spirit, and the inner Scrooge residing in your deepest core is stretching and yawning, awake again after a 51-week nap. But that’s what you signed up for when you planned this trip and chose to go somewhere else at the busiest time of year. You’re going because, for better or worse, you want to be with people you care about, who care about you, at a time when our hearts are cracked open just a teeny bit more than usual. You’re traveling to share love—just like all the other millions of nasty-faced assheads standing in the security line behind you. So when your patience is threadbare and you’re stranded on the tarmac at O’Hare with only one granola bar to split among a family of four, try to remember that we’re all in it together…one big happy holiday human stew.

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Enjoy Life,
L

Adapted from here


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Because I Said Sew

A Hem – now that I have your attention and those extremely clever dorky puns out of the way, I have a story to tell you.

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Most girls at one time or another in the life learn how to sew. Well maybe not sew, but at least learn how to sew a button back on or to hem a pair of pants. Maybe even hand sew a small hole in fabric closed.

But not me! When I told this to my Mom, she didn’t believe me that I never learned how to sew. She was a little bit horrified. My Mom used to sew all Halloween costumes for my sister and I, and I remember in junior high when my sister went on an apron sewing spree. But somehow, I slipped through the ropes of learning how to sew. I never took a Home Economics course in any of my school years, nor did I ever have any strong desire to learn how to sew or to do anything girly at one stage in my life. I was a bit of a tomboy.

At my first corporate job, there was a woman who I worked with who was sick of seeing me in pants that were just a little bit too long. Finally, one day she cracked and let out a small outburst:

“Didn’t your Mother ever teach you to sew!?”

I would have loved to see what my face must have looked like, because she then followed up with “Oh my gosh… what if you don’t have a Mother!” She went on a tangent and felt terrible, but in return she hemmed any and all pairs of pants for me during my time at that job. Thank you again!

John would make little comments to me here and there when there was a small tear in something that needed to be sewed up or when I would pay a tailor to sew fallen off buttons back onto my peacoat. I brushed his comments off, but don’t worry Honey… I heard them all.

Since moving to a new country where I am not allowed to work, I initially felt pressure (not from my husband) to be THE ULTIMATE HOUSEWIFE! Sweet John would tell me that I already was the ultimate housewife, but we all know that he is biased. I was convinced that an ULTIMATE HOUSEWIFE needed to at least know how to turn on a sewing machine.

I looked up sewing classes and did my due diligent. For some reason or another, I didn’t want to learn to sew at a place like Michael’s. Like I am in most things in life, I decided that if I was going to learn how to sew than I was going to go all in. Sew (c’mon had to sneak one more in there) after many hours of researching sewing courses, I found the perfect one where I would learn to sew. It was in Uptown, which I had initially confused with Old Town so I thought that it was close by. Turns out, it wasn’t at all… but I got to meet lots of strange characters on the train commuting back and forth.

The class that I had chosen was taught by a high end fashion designer who sewed his own creations for his clients. He did everything from bridal to leather jackets, so I figured if he couldn’t teach me to sew than nobody could. I registered online for my sewing classes and received an email saying that there will be a follow up email with all necessary information. The week before my classes were about to start, I began emailing and phoning the guy to ask for the list so that I could pick up anything that I may require. I didn’t hear back from him.

The night before my class was scheduled to begin, I was in a tithy. I figured that I would just show up empty handed the next day, but then at 7pm that night I FINALLY received an email from him saying everything that I needed. There was a lot and I didn’t know what half of the stuff on the list was, so I panicked! John was still at work, I couldn’t drive myself (no license remember?) to a store to pick up the stuff on my own, so I did what any logical woman would do. I called my parents and cried. Boo Hoo.

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The sewing store closed at 9pm and God knew if John would make it home before then, so I was panicked, flustered, pissed off and lonely. I lucked out and John got home at 8:15pm and immediately drove my ass to the store to go on the hunt for shit neither of had any clue about. One of the items on the list was “muslin” – It took everything in my power to make sure I pronounced that word correctly when I asked the employee where/what muslin was. We gathered most of the stuff and went home. John was so nice about the whole situation… He’s seriously the best!

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Now, most people sew a pillow case or an apron as their first project when they are learning to sew. Not me… oh no no no!!! I decided that my first project was going to be a freakin’ WRAP DRESS! One that I could hopefully wear when I finished. Go big or go home, right? You going to give me grieve about not knowing how to sew on a button – I’ll show you, I’ll sew a gosh darn wrap dress!!!! (Side note: I’m not competitive at all.)

My sewing classes were 3 hours classes once a week for ten weeks. My very first day, I was cocky because for some reason I thought that being naturally athletic would translate well into being a natural sewer. I asked the guy “So it’s going to take me thirty whole hours to sew one single dress!?” I was baffled and was certain that I was going to finish in half that time. Nope… it took me a total of probably 45 HOURS! 45 freaking’ hours… let that sink in.

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My 45 hours in that sewing class were interesting. There were a few classes were I was the only female and also the only straight person. I thought that my dreams were coming true and that I could finally be surrounded by my new found gay best friends. Except they wanted NOTHING TO DO WITH ME!!!! They were too busy flirting with each other. I thought that it was awesome, until I realized that I was such an enormous outcast in my sewing class.

 

In one of my sewing classes, I met a Russian girl. I thought that maybe we could bond over being foreigners and such, but quickly realized that we had nothing to bond over. She bragged to me about how she received a green card by marrying an American and swiftly divorcing him. She then went on to brag about how she is known as the fashionista among all of her friends and they all look to her for new trends. I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

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There were also a few people who constantly pestered me about poutine or who would want to argue with me about how disgusting poutine was. They acted as if they were the poutine champions of the world. Finally somebody asked what was in poutine and I heard somebody say “cheese, french fries, and mayo.” I almost lost it at that point… here I’ve been listening to some dorks go on about poutine and they don’t even know what the hell it is!? C’MON!!!! So I specified that traditional poutine was “french fries, gravy and cheese curds” – and no not cheese slices, but CURDS!

The actual sewing aspect was A LOT MORE tedious and annoying than I ever would have imagined. Never did I realize how key patience were in the sewing world. Perhaps that was why we had never met before? It took my 15 minutes every single time to put the damn thread through the “eye” of the needle on the sewing machine. I would have to get down on one knee, close an eyeball, tilt my head and chest slightly to the right, and hope that my wood pecker hand movements would eventually put the damn thread through the hole. And that was the start of class every single time.

I had no idea how much cutting and pinning and ironing was involved in sewing. And it takes so freakin’ long! Every time after sewing class I would tell John what I had just spent the last 5 hours doing and I always felt like I should be able to tell him that I did more than just cut and iron. Props to all you sewers – you are patient people.

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On my very last class the instructor (who was totally, unbelievably strange by the way… but also nice) was talking to me about how he was getting ready to turn the big 4-0. He kept going on and on and on about it, and I would just smile politely or make an “uh huh” noise when it felt natural. He was still going on about turning forty, and had come over to sit REALLY close to me to help me with something… like so close our noses were almost touching… when this is what he said to me:

“We’re about the same age, aren’t we!?”

I almost cried on the spot. Sew much for this class I thought….

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All of that aside, now that it is all over, I actually think that I might enjoy sewing. I like being able to create something new and after I was finished, I was so proud of myself for creating a wrap dress that I can actually wear. I at least now know where the power switch is on a sewing machine, how to cut fabric properly, I’ve learned sewing terminology, I’ve learned that it’s really annoying to be sewing and realize that your machine isn’t threaded, I’ve learned that the sense of pride you have when it’s all over is worth all the pin marks in your finger pads. I hope that one day I’ll sew my own children their own Halloween costumes, don’t hold me to that though.

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Ironically, through my whole entire 45 hours of sewing class, I was never taught how to sew a button on… but that’s what tailors in our condo lobby are for, right Baby?!

 

Enjoy Life Lovelies!
L


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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly – Six Months In

After ALREADY/ONLY 6 months in Chicago, John and I have about 5,000 pictures together on these bridges. We have about 60,000 thousand photos of us in Chicago in general. And I have about 20,000 photos of Chicago’s landscape.  Yes, we have 85,000 photos in the last six months.

 

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On The Bridges

 

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Photo Cred: ME!

 

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Photo Cred: Google                                                                      Can you tell why I love these bridges so much!?!?

 

Since moving here, we have made a handful of friends to add to our bunch of forever kind of pals. (If you read TALL, DARK & HANDSOME (for a woman) – SEEKING Fellow Carb Lover & Outdoor Activist you will know just how gruesome it was to try to make friends.) We now have friends who we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving with and we are also spending American Thanksgiving & Christmas with (and potentially NYE.) Yay!

Sign on our door for Canadian Thanksgiving

Sign on our door for Canadian Thanksgiving

 

Okay Lovelies, so in my VERY FIRST POST as LisaListed I promised that I would share the good, the bad and the ugly… so I’ll give you a little taste of some of the ugly. Keep in the back of your minds that we DO love it here, but I will keep my word and dip your toes into the ugly pool.

THE UGLY
It hasn’t all been rainbows and butterflies … there have also been some tornadoes and rats:

– There has only been ONE teary phone call to Mom and Dad. The loneliness and home sickness hit me for about 24 hours about 5 months in, but it subsided pretty quickly. Although I’m sure that son of a gun will strike again… probably in the dark and dreary winter.

– Crossing the street is a daily activity of playing chicken with cars, taxis, buses, etc… so far I have an undefeated record

– I was almost mugged once but thankfully had nothing on me.

– I’ve just gotten off the phone talking to three different health insurance companies trying to pay one stupid bill but each company that I talk to tells me that I need to call a different company… and getting ahold of an actual person to speak with is a God send! Until they tell you to call a different company… then I hate them as much as the computer I was just yelling at trying to say “claim” clearly enough so they could direct my call properly. And then you finally get a hold of a person who is as useless as a left toe… I’m still pissed if you can’t tell. Just take the money or let me keep it.

– It sometimes terrifies me knowing that we live in a city where terrorism is a true threat… to live in a city where people carry guns, where people get mugged, where the streets are lined with beggars. There are streets where I spin my wedding rings so that the diamonds face the inside of my hand and I am extra aware of who is walking beside and behind me. I’ve asked John on more than one occasion “was that a gunshot?” and there have been times when he can’t tell me with absolute certainty that it wasn’t…

– It’s scary to know that the newspaper here has an entire section under the Sports Headlines titled “Homicide Watch Chicago”.  And I’m mad at myself for becoming desensitized to reading about all the shootings that happen almost every single night… I have caught myself thinking “only 4 shots last night, not bad..” and I HATE that.

We still have frustrations here… I’m working up the courage to write a follow up post to The Not So Warm Welcome – We Blame You Justin Bieber. Maybe courage is the wrong word… I’m working up the energy to do so. And also the patience, I get so pissed off thinking about some of the things we’ve had to deal with (mainly healthcare. Grr..)  I had thought that most of the confusing paperwork and the hours dealing with the Government, the Embassy, DMV were a thing of a past… but they most certainly are not… we are already dealing with filing our taxes and I can tell already that this is going to be one expensive, confusing and frustrating situation. Although MAYBE in another six months I will finally be able to receive a drivers license – YAY!

 

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Proof

 

(That being said, we both feel very safe here. I’m working on my street cred every day (just kidding… kind of.) It is just the reality of living in a big city and we are both new to this.  In all seriousness,  if we didn’t LOVE it here then we wouldn’t still be here.)

Our journey has taught us more about different cultures. Has taught us about a variety of paperwork that I do not wish to pass onto my worst enemy. Our journey has allowed us to view life in a new light. I am a different person compared to who I was this time a year ago.

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Who I was a year ago is so different from who I am today. How ironic that a year ago today we moved into our “forever home” not having any idea that our “forever” in that home would hardly last six months…  I still cannot get over this. It blows my mind. John and I sometimes talk about that house and long over the amazing kitchen, main floor and backyard but we quickly remind ourselves of having to shovel the three car garage’s driveway twice a day. And that normally curbs the longing. We have adjusted from living in a four bedroom, 3.5 bathroom home to living in a one bedroom/one bathroom apartment pretty well  (although there were most definitely times were I wanted to pull my hair out due to lack of storage. Our vacuum cleaner’s home was in our hallway for the longest time, then it was moved to behind the couch, and then finally we managed to somehow make room for it in our bedroom closet.) Our storage locker is perfectly suited to hold a set of winter tires and hockey gear. So Canadian of us.

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When we first got our keys and my lovely Mom helping us do a thorough clean


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When we moved into our home, we had no idea that six months from then John and I would have two weeks to sell ALL of our furniture, donate everything else, and put whatever we could stuff into our Ford Edge to bring with us to a whole new country. I realized over Thanksgiving that I had even given our gravy boat away. We had celebrated Christmas  & John’s Dad’s birthday at our forever home last year and I’m so thankful to have created those memories. But a home is where your heart is, and our hearts have settled quite nicely into our rented itty bitty home in Chicago.

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Christmas on our back deck. Bonus about moving when we did – we never had to mow the lawn ONCE! That’s funny to me.

In some ways it feels like we have been in Chicago now for SO much longer and in other ways it feels like we are still so fresh here.  It’s weird. When I’m asked where I am from, I still say Canada. And then I have to say:

“no, not Toronto or Vancouver. Calgary.”

“No, Calgary is not close to Toronto, it’s about an hour east of the Canadian Rockies.”

Which I typically receive a blank face from and follow up with “North of Montana.” (When I’m asked where I grew up, then I say in a small town relatively close to the Alaskan border because can you even try to explain where the hell Peace River is!? Explaining where Peace River was to fellow Albertans was difficult enough – my go to response was always a heavy footed 5 hours north of Edmonton.)  I’ve been told that we’ve been here long enough to respond to that question with “Chicago” but no matter how long we live here, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to say that I’m not from Canada.

Whenever I see somebody wearing something with some sort of Canadian symbol, I get SOO excited. Embarrassingly excited. Within our first month or so of being here, I saw somebody in Millennium Park wearing a T-shirt with a Canadian flag on it… before I knew what I was doing I smiled at him with a big, goofy grin and followed that up with a ginormous over friendly wave. Like not just a cute little wave with my fingers… but my WHOLE ENTIRE ARM flailing in the air, like I was waving my hands in the air and I just didn’t care. I didn’t realize at the time that maybe he didn’t know that I was Canadian, and I had hoped that IF HE DID KNOW  he wouldn’t have given me that strange look.

Just this past weekend, John and I were walking admiring the fall foliage when I saw three guys coming towards us… one of them had on a hat with a curved red ‘C’… I had mistaken this symbol for the Montreal Canadiens symbol when in fact the guy was wearing a Chicago Bears hat. I couldn’t help myself from pointing at him (again, full arm exertion and index finger out loud and proud), smiling and much too loudly saying/shouting “CANADA” at him. We made eye contact and it was weird. I wouldn’t have blamed John if he had explained to the guy that he was taking me for a walk from my “home”. I’m doing my best to work on keeping my outbursts intact. I’m still learning how to cool my jets. Whenever I see a little piece of “home”, I have an overwhelming sense of emotion in my soul.

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Snapped this beauty at the Botanic Gardens


I love all of the Canadian stereotypes and it makes me feel strangely happy when a smart ass asks me to say “A-B-O-U-T” – sometimes I humour them and say “aboot” doing my best to not crack a smile. Most often times I pronounce it as “about” and they kind of get disappointed. Other times I have been asked where my accent is from and I proudly say that I’m Canadian. Then do the whole “no, not Toronto or Vancouver” dance all over again. I’ve been told that I pronounce “bag” and “pasta” funny . I quite enjoy hearing that I have an accent.  On the flip side, I often see tourists looking super confused and lost and I offer to help them… I also have a strange sense of pride in being a local.  Maybe I’ll just coin the term and call myself a Canadian Chicagoan – who likes ketchup on her “hawt dawg.” A Ketchup Eating Canadian Chicagoan – there ya have it, folks!

Since being in Chicago, our lives have changed drastically. Our lifestyles have changed immensely. And our relationship feels like we are dating ALL over again. A few weeks ago I had received a text from my friend which said that she had just saw John and I and that we had looked like best friends rather than an old married couple. I couldn’t imagine a better compliment to receive about our marriage than that.  Not that we were ever unhappy in Calgary or had a bad relationship, but our evenings and weekends were WAY different from what they are here. We are just so much happier now.

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One of the biggest truths I’ve learnt about big life changes is that some people won’t come with you. And that’s okay. Plenty of people miss their share of happiness – not because they never found it but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.  This journey has forced us to stop and enjoy it. Life to me is about going on adventures. Being around good energy. Connecting with people. Learning new things. Growing. There are days where you will have to create your own sunshine – but you can’t enjoy the rainbow without a little rain, right?

My perspective and view on life are a trillion time different from the Lisa who had just moved into her forever home with my handsome husband and I’ve got to tell you this…

My life today is richer, fuller, HAPPIER, healthier and now has more depth.

My life today ensures that I am not just living the same year 40 times in a row and calling that a life.

I’ve learnt that happiness and success is about spending life in your own way. There is no “wrong way”. Live a life that feels right to you… nothing’s more fun than doing something that somebody said you can’t.

Each and every day now gets lived, so even though we still have frustrations and miss our loved ones back in Canada, I’m not sure there is a more beautiful thing to discover about life then to truly live each and every day. Stop focusing so much on living a perfect life that you forget to live.


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The Pretty

My lovely, I have learned that there will be times in your life when all of your instincts will tell you to do something. Something that will defeat logic, upset your plans and may seem crazy to others. When that happens, you do it. Listen to your instincts and ignore everything else. Ignore logic, ignore the odds, ignore the complications and just go for it.

I’ve learnt that life isn’t necessarily about the happy ending… it’s about the story.

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Enjoy Life,
L


6 Comments

Is Human Nature Good Or Bad?

It’s funny how things stick with you no matter what has happened. It’s funny that in the moment, you have no idea that the moment will resonate with you for likely the rest of your life. It’s funny how a memory is made… so much happens to us but you never know which moments will make a lasting impression on you. It’s amazing how no matter how much time has passed or how insignificant a moment may have seemed at the time, you still feel a connection to a certain moment.

Some of you may understand what I am talking about, where as others may be wondering how much Bailey’s I’ve added to my coffee this morning but bear with me… maybe this will resonate with you too. If not, add some more Bailey’s to your own coffee and give me a another read.

When I was in high school, my English teacher had us read “Lord Of The Flies” by William Golding. Long story short (pun very much intended): A group of young boys are stranded alone on an island. Left to fend for themselves, they must take on the responsibilities of adults, even if they are not ready to do so. Inevitably, two factions form: one group (lead by Ralph) want to build shelters and collect food, whereas Jack’s group would rather have fun and hunt; illustrating the difference between civilization and savagery.

We were assigned to write an essay based on the novel as to whether we believed human nature was good or bad. I remember when I first started writing my essay, I had started my tangent about how human nature was good because OBVIOUSLY it just was. As I started getting deeper and deeper in to my essay, I started to second guess my initial assumption that human nature was in fact good. That was a scary thought to me at the time. My whole life I believed that human nature was good, kind, positive, etc, etc, but as I delved deeper and deeper and starting thinking from an outsider’s perspective I realized that perhaps I was being prejudice and naïve. It was too scary to say that human nature was purely not good either.

I turned in my essay and my final conclusion was that human nature was neutral. There are tendencies to both sides. There is good and there is bad. I don’t remember what my mark was on my essay, but even since I started thinking about human nature I have not been able to stop. Over a decade has passed by and I still find myself thinking about that very same question and still struggling to find an answer. In the most mundane everyday tasks, I find myself wondering if human nature is in fact good or bad. And then I wonder if my teacher realizes that she has had me thinking deeply about this very same question for over a decade now without coming to a sound conclusion.

Obviously there is bad in this world. Turn on the news and you are bombarded with the “evil” in this world. It’s really sad to think that it is almost 2015 and there is still a very real war going on in the world today. Living in North America, we assume that we are the “good guys” and those other guys are the “bad guys” but there are always two sides to a pancake no matter how flat you make it (thank you, Dr. Phil). We are all well aware of all the bad going on in the world today and that makes me think that human nature isn’t 100% good. Human all have selfish tendencies, it’s all about “survival of the fittest.” This creates greed, which leads to lying, stealing, fear, cowardness, bullying and violence. We have tried to make the Earth a better place for ourselves and to evolve. In doing so, we have eradicated a countless amount of species as well as destroyed the ecosystem. We are destroying earth with our litter and carelessness, but we sweep all of that under the figurative carpet (collecting more litter). You have to stop and think for a second as to why all of this technology is even necessary in the world? Is it really necessary or are we just continuing to spoil the Earth? We have the chance to lessen and decrease the emissions that we create, but we don’t use it. We have the chance to help the less fortunate, but then why are there so many people in this world who don’t even have clean water to drink from while we are washing our luxury cars with the same water we take for granted every single day? Do our egos make us bad? Why were there ever slaves in the first place? And why are there still slaves today? Because our egos make us feel macho and superior? Are we born bad or does society create this side of us? And that, my lovely, is the very same question I have been debating with myself for the past 10+ years.

On the other hand, of course human nature is good. Otherwise the world would be in even bigger shambles than it already is, right? How could one ever possibly consider Mother Theresa to be evil? There is a lot of good in the world, but it doesn’t get broadcasted as much as the negativity in the world. Not convinced? Well then let me share with you something that happened to me not too long ago on the very same day…:

I had just finished a class at my gym and I was so excited for it to be over, I hustled my butt to the exit door ASAP. When I got to the door, I saw that during my class a monsoon had developed. Am I exaggerating? Probably. But it was as if Heaven were making every living creature do the ALS ice bucket challenge whether or not they wanted to.

The lady at the front desk of the gym smiled at me and told me that I should do an extra workout while the storm passed… That was the last thing I wanted to do. So I headed outside sans-umbrella in my workout clothes and went to my happy spot…. Trader Joe’s. TJ’s is only about 2 blocks away, so I figured I could hustle over there without getting absolutely drenched. Well, I was dead wrong. But there is something that happened to me during those two blocks that I need to share with you…

As I was waiting at the longest red light ever waiting to cross the street, a man saw me standing there getting hammered by the rain in my tank top. He started to walk over and before I knew it, he smiled at me and simply placed his umbrella over my head until I was able to cross the street. I was so appreciative and I thanked him endlessly and he just smiled back. The only thing that he said to me was “If that man on the other side of the street talks to you, just be nice to him.” I said “of course” and walked the rest of the way to Trader Joe’s with a smile on my face. A complete stranger, without saying a single word, saw me getting completely soaked and went out of his way to offer me his shelter. He sacrfiiced his own dryness and warmth just to offer me shelter for a minute or two. Would you do that for a complete stranger? I hope that I would, but I’m not entirely 100% sure that I actually would.  He did this without telling me his name, without trying to sell me anything… he did this purely out of the goodness of his own heart. And the only thing he wanted in return was for me to be nice to somebody else on the other side on the street. Sadly, I’m not sure I would ever recognize the man who offered me his umbrella if I were to see him again, but he sure provided me a lot more than a minute of dryness.

Once I got inside TJ’s, the woman who always offers juice samples looked at me in complete horror. To be frank, I looked like a wet dog. Probably smelt like one too since I was coming from the gym. She went on about “you poor thing, you got stuck out there, you must be freezing… etc, etc, etc” she went on for a solid two minutes while I smiled at her and told her that I was fine. She didn’t believe me and aggressively (in a nice aggressive for of way) offered me her sweater. She had literally offered me the shirt off of her back! I didn’t know that people actually did that! I was able to convince her that I was okay and thank her… her parting words to me were “if you change your mind, I’ll still be here”.

That was only in a matter of five minutes. In a part of the city that can be described as “sketchy”. It’s not totally unsafe, but it’s not exactly a place where I would go by myself in the evening.

I see acts of kindness in this city every single day… I’ve watched teenagers (both girls and boys) go out of their way to give money to the homeless, I’ve watched complete strangers help blind people across the street, I’ve seen people go into a fast food chain and give people on the street corner the lunch that they had just purchased. Those kinds of stories don’t get told as much as they should.

I wonder what would happen if stories like this were told more often. Would the world change if we were to spread these stories more often? Rather than focus solely on what’s wrong with the world today, realize that there’s a lot right in the world too. A lot of goodness. But people don’t like to hear about these sort of stories… the kind of stories that create buzz don’t generally make you view the world in a positive light. And I think that needs to change. I think that the world would be a better place if people told their stories more often about nice things that others did for them.  I think that the world would be a better place if we told positive stories just as much as negative stories. If the media shared what good also happened in the world that day. I think the world would be a better place if we simply shared with others what somebody did for them that day, NOT tell others how shitty society is or brag about what nice thing they did for somebody else. I do nice things for people too, but I absolutely despise it when people brag about the nice things that they did for somebody else. When you brag about something nice you did for somebody else, that gives the act a giant dose of selfishness and there is already enough of that in the world. Imagine if people focused more on what nice things OTHER people did rather than tell anybody who will listen about what nice thing they did for someone.

My lovely, living here has taught me to ease up on premeditated judgements of others. To literally walk a mile in other’s shoes. To be more open minded that your way is not necessarily the best way. I encourage you to tell your friend about the complete stranger who held open the door for you rather than bitch to your friend about the guy in front of you taking “forever” to place his order. I encourage you to write a positive review for every negative review that you write. I encourage you to help spread the goodness of every day life. Small acts of kindness can go a long way in making the world a more loving and friendly place. Be kinder to strangers, put your damn ego aside and say “hello” and “thank you”. If you owe somebody an apology, suck it up and give them a sincere apology. Be accountable for your actions and don’t succumb to the excuses that you create for yourself.

At the end of the day, I still can’t make a decision as to whether or not human nature is inherently good or bad. Regardless of what the true, genuine answer is to that question, I’m not sure it necessarily matters. At the end of the day, no matter what race you are, how much money you have, how you were raised, my belief is that at the core of each and every single one of us we all want the same thing. We are all on the mystery pursuit of happiness, health and love. I believe that if we all put aside our egos, our greed and our selfishness, this is something that can absolutely be attained by all one day. We can all make the world a better place, but it’s up to us to do so. The real question is, are we willing to do so?

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Final thought: don’t bother sending me hate letters accusing me of being a bible thumper or a tree hugger… rather than waste your energy and time doing that, give this another read and go buy a stranger a coffee.


9 Comments

Two Years of Love, Fun, Shenanigans and The Best Kinds of Insanity – Happy Anniversary, Love!

My husband and I are already celebrating our second wedding anniversary!! In many ways it feels as if we have been married for decades already (in a good way) and in other ways it feels as if our wedding was just last week! I remember how excited I was when I was able to sign my new last name or whenever somebody would call me “Mrs” … still to this day I get excited to see my new name.

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When I think back to what our life was like only two years ago and compare to what it is like now, I cannot believe that it has only been two years. In two years, John and I have sure done a lot… this is a little snapshot of our past two years:

– Married – YAY!
– Mini honeymoon in Banff (Rocky Mountains)
– Real honeymoon in Dominican Republic
– I changed jobs
– I got two of three of my professional designations
– John was always studying for his professional exams … every single morning, evening, weekend, even during Christmas and all the other holidays
– We went to Calgary Flames hockey games through work
– We were VIP for Cirque de Soleil through work
– We went to funerals
– We went to weddings
– We’ve been there for when our wonderful friends had babies
– We helped clean up the devastation from the massive Calgary flood
– We went to Whitefish, Montana
– We went to Palm Springs, California
– We went hiking and snowshoeing with friends in the mountains
– We went to Chicago to celebrate our first wedding anniversary
– We went to Dallas, Texas for John’s ceremony to officially receive his professional designation
– We got stuck in Dallas for 4 extra days due to a blizzard that only happens once every decade
– We each travelled through Canada and the US for our jobs
– We dealt with health issues
– We sold our perfect townhouse
– We bought our forever home
– We got a puppy
– John received an amazing opportunity to move to Chicago
– We sold our forever home
– We moved to another country
– And moving to Chicago has been a whole other adventure all to it’s self.. and we love every single second of it!

We’ve done so much together already and I cannot wait to see what the next two years has in store for us… and the next twenty years and so forth! There isn’t anybody else in this crazy life who I would want to experience this with other than my sweetheart himself. He is the most encouraging, supportive, loving, kind, caring, loyal and thoughtful man and I have to pinch myself that I am so lucky to call him my husband.

Here are a few photos of our crazy life these past two years for you to peruse:


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And here is our most recent photo together, absolutely loving life in Chicago:

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Although our “5 year plan” hasn’t worked out so far (the plan is out the garbage now after detouring so far from it in only two years), we have learnt that the best things in life don’t necessarily need a plan. We’ve learnt to roll with the punches, to be open minded, to explore new opportunities. We are both firm believers that things happen for a reason and things always turn out the way that they are supposed to… regardless of what your “plan” is. Life is funner when you stop trying to predict the future and just live in the moment… so wish that, my lovely, I am off to go Cheers my incredible husband and share a bottle of Bubbly  to celebrate our amazing two years and to cheers for many more memories ahead of us that we have yet to make!

Happy Anniversary, Baby, there’s nobody else in this world who I would want by my side!
I love you xo

Enjoy Life,
L


19 Comments

A Year Ago Today… And NOW!

A year ago today, John and I came to Chicago to celebrate our first wedding anniversary together. We had five days off and we narrowed our options down to Mexico, Vegas, California and Chicago. John had been to Chicago before to visit his parents when his Dad had worked here for 3 years and he always told that I would love it. So, because of an awesome Flight Centre package deal we saw Chicago was the chicken dinner! Thank you, Flight Centre!

I loved Chicago from the very first night that we had spent here. We didn’t get to our hotel until about 9:00pm but there was no way that we were just going to have a quiet night and shut it down early. So we spruced ourselves up and went exploring! That night we discovered our favourite place to go, which to this day is still our favourite place to go! The nachos, $4 beer, ambiance and location won us over and they keep winning us over again, again and again!

 

 

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THEN – at the Bean

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NOW – at the Bean

During our five days here, we did a lot of exploring, eating, drinking, Cubs baseballing and shopping! A perfect way to spend your first anniversary together, wouldn’t you agree!? We took a gazillion pictures and we dreamed out loud about moving to Chicago. We were just playing make belief but we dreamed about working together again in the same building downtown, buying a cool loft condo smack downtown and living the urban life, going to all these trendy spots during the week because we were so cool, etc, etc. But then we would play devil’s advocate and go on about how much we would miss our family, friends, our friends kids, our Calgary life which was safe, simple and the norm. We went on about how if we did live the Chicago life how John would have to work 2,000 hours per week and how we would never have time to live the cool lifestyle… but we never stopped talking about our make belief life even after we got home.

We would watch Mike & Molly and whenever we would see the skyline on the intro to the show we would sigh a dramatic sigh snuggled up together in our home in the ‘burbs. We would go on and on and on about how green the grass must be on the other side, and then we would come back to reality and give our heads a shake. There was no way we were moving to Chicago. Ever. We loved our Calgary home and the chances of us ever leaving Calgary because of John’s job were slimmer than a Slim Jim.

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Until…. there were some hypothetical knocks on John’s door bribing him to bring his family to the US. We ho’d and hummed and thought “what the hell” let’s see what could happen…. turns out moving to Chicago a couple months later is exactly what not only could happen, but did happen! Like every big decision, there has been highs and there has been lows, but we wouldn’t have done a damn thing differently (well that’s not true… we would never have sold our townhouse and bought our “forever home” only to sell it 6 months later… but aside from that.)

A year ago today, we were in Chicago as tourists dreaming about John and I working together in the Aon building. Living in a loft condo downtown. Doing trendy things and going to trendy places. Wearing weird clothes that I would never wear in Calgary. A year ago today, we stayed in the Hard Rock Hotel and ate frozen yogurt in River North. We shopped in the Loop. We went sight seeing. A year ago today, we had suitcases to take us back to our reality back in Canada….

 

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Fro Yo

Today, we are living smack downtown Chicago. We are not working together in the same building, but the job situation is even better than what either of us could have predicted. We do trendy things and go to trendy places. I’ve never heard of a “wine flight” until we moved here. I wear weird clothes like jumpsuits and scarfs in my hair. A year ago I was sad that we didn’t get to end up seeing Buckingham Fountain. Buckingham Fountain is now our neighbour and Ernie and I walk by it every single day. Today we are living a life that we dreamed about a year ago… except our reality is far greater than our dream!

 

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My First Wine Flight

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My Second Favorite Neighbour

Lovely, it’s funny how life can change so much in a year… it’s funny in the best way possible. I can’t wait to see what life has in store for the next year ahead!

Enjoy Life,
L


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A Tribute To My Dad – Happy 60th!

My Dad turns 60 today!!! SIXTY!!! If I know my Dad at all, he won’t want to make his birthday a big deal whatsoever… If my Mom or any of his friends suggest doing anything to celebrate he will say that “it’s just another day” or something to the tune of that. But c’mon, the guy is turning 60 and in honour of his 60th birthday I want to share with the world how lucky a daughter I am to have such an incredible Dad.

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I would go as far to say that I have never and will likely never come across anybody who has a stronger work ethic than my dear, ol’ Dad. Once he starts something, there is absolutely nothing that will get in his way from completely what he has started. It doesn’t matter how impossible a task, my Dad will figure it out once he gets his mind set. And not only will he figure it out… it will be done with the perfection that only a perfectionist can truly appreciate.  He had a career that had an incredibly stressful, gruesome and negative environment. He was on call for every 24 hours that there are in a day, for all of the 365 days in the year. Even if he was on holidays or on vacation. Growing up, I never understood the magnitude of his every day life. As an adult, I am able to appreciate the nature of his career in a way that I was never able to do as a child or teenager. Hearing his stories are both fascinating and terrifying, yet they always make me appreciate him that much more. My husband, John, and I now love to hear about what his work life used to be like and it’s pretty tough to complain about the corporate world after hearing some of his stories. Because of the nature of his career, I cannot post or share any photos of my Dad.

My Dad taught me how to be independent. He always instilled in me to get good grades in school, not to please my parents or my teachers, but for myself. I never really “got it” until I started university, but better late than never right? My sweet Dad was so proud of me for my first ‘A+’ on my first midterm in university that he went to the drug store on his own, bought me a funny “I’m proud of you for succeeding” card, wrote in it himself and mailed it to me 800 kms away. That card meant the world to me and I still have it today.

My Dad has always been extremely supportive and encouraging. My sister and I have played on a variety of sports team since we were probably 3 or 4 and my Dad was always there on the sidelines cheering us on. He coached us in baseball. He watched all our gymnastic routines and he watched my sister and I perform our self choreographed routines on the trampoline. He drove thousands and thousands and thousands of kilometres to always come to our out of town games, tournaments, provincials, etc. Even if it meant coming straight from a long day of work in his work clothes, my Dad was always there. Never once did he ever complain about the cost (time and/or money) to be there to support his girls. And in many more ways than one, he has always been our biggest supporter from the sidelines.

No matter how crappy of a day he had, my Dad would always play with my sister and I. There was no way that he was going to have prissy girls as daughters. He would play outside with us, take us to the park, he would play Super Nintendo and Playstation with us. He would buy us remote control cars and play with them with us for hours upon hours in the middle of our cup-de-sac. In the winter time, he bought us track remote control racing cars with upside down loops and everything. He would take us tobogganing, and when we were old enough he bought us a G.T., where he would double up on the G.T. with us. He taught us how to ski and would go  skiing with me up until I was an adult. As a kid, I was a daredevil and would go straight down hill on my skis as fast as I could. My poor Mom would almost have a heart attack every time we went skiing and she would always tell me that I needed to make turns or that I needed to slow down. My Dad saw potential in me and signed me up as a ski racer.

He would play catch with us in the living room with velcro mitts and fuzzy balls (he also bought us super cool hippopotamus head gloves to play catch with.) He would play football with us on the beach. He would let us ride our big, black dog as a horse in the backyard when we were really little. He would spends hours in the backyard with my sister and I teaching us sports skills. He introduced me to badminton by playing as a family in our backyard when I was 13 years old… because of that I later when on to win gold at provincials playing badminton. He would take us on family bike rides that wouldn’t just be a tootle around the block, but kilometres and kilometres in the mountains in Jasper (Canadian Rockies).

One of the first clear memories that I have is the day that my Dad took my training wheels off. We celebrated by going on a family bike ride on a path through Medicine Hat. My sister and I were in front of my parents and after we had just pedalled up to the top of a huge hill, I couldn’t wait to reward myself by pedalling as fast as I could straight back down the other side of that hill. I was a daredevil, remember? I pedalled as hard as I could down the hill… before I knew it, I had lost total control of my bike and I flew head first over my handlebars and landed chin first on the tiny, red rock pathway. I have never, ever forgotten how fast my Dad got to my side in that moment and even as a four year old I could see the fear, worry and concern in his eyes. He scooped me right up, ran to the closest street there was, flagged down a police car and rode with me to the closest hospital. After I was healed, we went on another family bike ride (on a flat path mind you) because there was never even an option of not getting back onto my bike. And for that, I love him. I still have a scar on my chin to this day that I’ve always been proud of.

We were never rich growing up, but we always went on a family vacation every summer. That was something our family valued a lot and still do to this day. We would go camping a lot… real true camping, outhouses and all. We went to Alaska and the Yukon one summer. We went to Penticton some summers. We went to Jasper quite often. It didn’t matter where we went, whether we were staying at a nicer hotel in Jasper or if we were all staying in our tent trailer, as long as we were together that’s all that would matter.

My Dad hasn’t agreed with every single decision that I have ever made, but he has always been there for me when I needed him. Even if he knew that I was making an unwise decision and I wouldn’t listen to him, he would never give me the “I told you so” talk. I’ve always been one who needs to learn things themselves and he would respect that… I have an inkling he was the same way. I have always had a special bond with my Dad, he’s always just understood me. I’ve had some of my best talks with my Dad during car rides, but he never forces or pushes me to talk about anything that I don’t want to. Our talks happen organically. During those talks, he has offered me invaluable, life changing advice that I am so very appreciative of. He has always had my best interest at heart and I’ve always known that all he’s ever wanted was the best for his family.

I could go on and on about how great my Dad is. I could tell you how funny, witty, generous, stubborn, smart, etc he is, but those who know him already know that. My Dad is a one of kind, stand up guy and I am so proud to be his daughter. I look up to my Dad in so many ways with the utmost respect and admiration.

One of the greatest lessons he has ever taught me is that labels don’t matter. He taught me to be just as kind to the janitor as you would be to the CEO. He taught me to be a good person and that materialistic crap does not matter. It doesn’t matter how much stuff you have, what your last name is, what your job title is, where you came from, what kind of car you drive, what kind of house you live in… all that matters is that you are a good person.

My Dad was not a wealthy man by normal standards, but he taught us that the quality of life that you live does not depend on how much money you have in your bank account. My Dad taught me how to have fun. How to live a rich life and to share it with those you love. He taught me that you don’t need bucket loads of money to enjoy life, that Christmas isn’t about the presents under the Christmas tree. In many ways, my Dad is an extremely wealthy man and he gave me the kind of childhood that money simply cannot buy.

Thank you for everything… you know how much I love you.

Happy Birthday, Pops xo

Enjoy Life,
L