Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Note on Candor

When my fabulous lovie Annabelle gave me a shout out on her "Honest Scrap" I frankly couldn't resist. Just ask my roomies..."candor" is one of my strongest qualities :)

#1: Choose a minimum of 7 (or the top ones you love) spectacular blogs that you can't live without and pass this goodie on to them
#2: Post the "chosen ones" on your bog in link formAND #3: List 10 honest things about yourself

I'm pretty much a open book, so choosing only 10 will be tough...

1. Well, the first thing I have to get off my chest is the fact that I tend to freely speak my opinions without reserve. I mean, this may not sound like THAT big of a deal, but it's really something I can't control. It just happens. Things just flow without warning. I never realized it until this year (my 2 loving roomies find it hilarious). Better late than never I guess. *Note of clarification: I am still considerate and these comments aren't hurtful, usually just silly or funny!

2. I'm obsessed with peanut butter. Yep, sometimes i eat a whole jar in 1 week. And most times i just eat straight from the jar with a spoon. *Note: You may want to NOT eat my peanut butter when you visit me.

3. I'm currently addicted to The Bachelor, The Office, and sometimes Grey's Anatomy - only because I am now the proud owner of a DVR (haven't even had basic cable the last 2 years).

4. If I could go to EVERY country in the world I would.

5. Blogging is currently topping the list of "Miche's Favorite Things". Almost as popular as "Oprah's Favorite Things", haha!

6. Someday I'd love to write for a living. Books, articles, devotionals, who knows!

7. Chicago is my FAVORITE city in the U.S.

8. I have over 1,200 friends and 70 photo albums on Facebook - and my "real friends" like to give me crap about it.

9. I just started Twittering today (yep, finally caved to peer pressure, but blamed it on my job - advertising).

10. When I was a kid, my friend Ashley and I gathered up some leaves and berries and put them in a bowl and tried to convince our other friend it was a salad and that she should eat it. Didn't work...but a creative idea nonetheless!

Ok...enough candor for now...go on and check out these fab blog finds that keep me busy:





Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Colors of Leadership

This past weekend I attended a leadership conference at my church. It was A-mazing. I could bore you with all I learned, but I'll refrain. Instead, I choose to share with you a rainbow of ideals on leadership. Leadership is not just one color (red) as many may think. Leadership is defined by those stepping up and those being led. As part of the conference we had to choose which ONE definition resonated most to our personal leadership was hard. Perhaps this is a good exercise for us all? Can you choose just ONE?

“The moment you stop learning, you stop leading.” Rick Warren

“If you have made mistakes… there is always another chance for you … you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” Mary Pickford

“Leadership has a visionary part and an implementation part ... leadership is an influence process in which you try to help people accomplish their goals while together going somewhere ... “ Ken Blanchard

“The nose of the bulldog has been slanted backwards so that he can breathe without letting go.” Winston Churchill

“Whoever connects me with the hidden springs of all life, whoever increases the sense of life in my leader.” Mary Parker Follett

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

“And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant.” Jesus -- Matthew 23:10

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a person’s character, give him or her power.” Abraham Lincoln

“A leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to project on other people his or her shadow, or his or her light.” Parker J. Palmer

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Warren G. Bennis

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” Maya Angelou

“Leadership is authentic self-expression that gives value.” Kevin Cashman

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

“Leadership is about finding your voice.” Max DePree

“Leadership is the art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations.”

James M. Kouzes

“Leadership is the process of is communication and empowerment and self-mastery.” Elizabeth Jefferies

“The Christian leadership of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.... It is not a leadership of power and control, but a leadership of powerlessness and humility in which the suffering servant of God, Jesus Christ, is made manifest.” Henri J.M. Nouwen

“You cannot fix what you will not face.” James Baldwin

“Leadership is best expressed when we abandon the pursuit of wealth, notoriety and security, and simply give our heart and our gifts, in every moment, to whoever crosses our path, without concern for recognition or remuneration.” Jim Warner, Aspirations of Greatness

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us.” Dorothy Day

“A leader is a person who must take special responsibility for what’s going on inside him or herself, inside his or her consciousness, lest the act of leadership create more harm than good.” Parker j. Palmer

“Authentic leaders experience an ongoing closeness / intimacy with God, honestly face the inner spiritual and emotional journey, and identify, develop and use their God given gifts and passions to impact the world.” Dan Webster

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January Restaurant Raves

One would think that with the start of 2009 amidst some of the worst economic times, most people would inevitably go out to eat less frequently in hopes of spending less of their hard earned money. Well, folks I'm not like most people. Nope, I DID go and buy an exorbitant amount of groceries the first of January, but I have also somehow managed to eat out 6 times this week, yep...count em'...1,2,3,4,5,6! Not that i'm proud of it, but thought I'd at least start a monthly blog posting of the fab (or not so fab) restaurant finds in Chicago!

1. Aperitif 21

2221 N Lincoln Ave

Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 281-4400

Sunday, in a quest to find a restaurant located between my house and Lindsey's that we both had not been to, I stumbled upon this quaint Mediterranean gem. We were due for a late lunch (around 2pm) and thus anticipated a pretty quiet scene. We were right...only one lone family (likely the owners) dining when we arrived. Ordering hummus and pita appetizer was a given. It arrived warm and delicious and while noshing away, we were unexpectedly offered complimentary soup du jour. However, we were quite perplexed because we'd had a rather awkward exchange with the ESL (English as a Second Language) waitress about what the soups were and had a rather jumbled explanation about the color of beans in the soup. Linds ordered a Mediterranean salad and I got the vegetable kabobs. All in all the food was "decent", I mean you can't go wrong with hummus. But my fave part of the meal was the water that was served. We each tried guessing its unique flavor blend, (me - lemon, Linds - orange). Both to be proved was green apple, strawberry, and lime, quite delish! The most disappointing part of the meal was the service, which is ironic since we were basically the only patrons. So, for this, Linds gives it "Apairoftwhothumbsdown"! And I'd have to agree...too many awesome places in the city to waste your time, money or heck, calories here.

2. Bar Celona
3474 N Clark St

Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 244-8000

TAco Tuesday at Bar Celona is a MUST! When my girlfriend Emily told me about this magical place where you can get $1 tacos and free chips and salsa, I thought she was talking about heaven. Or better yet, that we were taking a whirlwind trip to Spain. Fortunately, for my budget, we only had to head north to Wrigleyville to this Spanish hot spot. The lighting was dim and seating comfortable. On one of the coldest nights, it still drew a decent crowd and the wait staff was friendly and attentive. They didn't even mind that my friends and I stayed for about 2 hours and rang up a $20 tab among the 3 of us. We each got to choose from variety of tacos, chicken, beef, vegetarian, and shrimp - each of which was delicious. And single ladies, watch out...irresistible professional athletes hang out there and offer to buy you drinks (ok, they were professional table tennis players, but whose keeping track)! So, if you can't make it across the Atlantic, Bar Celona is a close second any day of the week (they have ridiculous nightly specials)!

3. Chili's
2 E Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 943-1510

Now, I must preface this one by saying I ordinarily would never go to Chili's in Chicago, but there are exceptions to every rule and believe it or not, I'm trying to be a good steward of my income and I was given a gift card for Chili's for Christmas. So, thus, i took my friend Molly on a date to Chili's on Wednesday to catch up (plus, it's right across the street from her office). We opted for the Kickin' Jack Nachos over the usual chips and salsa (we thought, heck, it's free...let's go krazy)...big mistake...the nachos were nicely laid out with even amounts of cheese and jalapenos, but they were just a little too unconventional for my liking. Back to bottomless chips and salsa next time. Molly got some soup and I got the black bean burger that I've almost tried a thousand times and have been non-committal. I should have kept it up. It was dry and disappointing. The sweet corn on the cob that i substituted for mixed veggies, on the other hand was especially satisfying. We capped off the night with a Chocolate Chip Molten Chocolate Cake. There was a bit of debate between this new version of the Molton Chocolate Cake and the original, but we were rather bold this night and went against convention one last time. And as luck would have it, the 3rd time was a charm. This dessert was A-mazing! Note to self: Next time just get the chips/salsa and dessert! No shame!

4. Karyn's Raw
1901 N Halsted St

Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 255-1590

Founded by Karyn Calabrese, one of the most popular and innovative leaders in the holistic health industry, this unique restaurant serves only RAW food. What?!? No hot meals? Nothing baked, steamed, fried, or grilled? Nope...only dehydrated and in it's natural state. How can this be you ask? Well, frankly, I have no EARTHLY idea. I have been interested in trying Karyn's for quite some time (being an adventurous eater and all), so I went on Saturday with 3 girlfriends. It was a nice place, white table cloths, fresh flowers on the table, and an expensive menu to match. I was very impressed by the variety of things they have learned to make out of raw food...stuffed pizza with a crust made from nuts, veggie burger with homemade bread from nuts, flax, and barley and homemade mustard, tortilla chips out of corn and nuts, ravioli made from turnips and zucchini. Everything was edible, but no one finished their small plates. This food is really salty and dense and sits heavy. My fave item was the guacamole, obviously, i mean, even i can make raw guac, haha. If I had to sum up the experience in one word, it would be "Interesting". I'm def not going to rave about how awesome raw food is, nor will I go back on my own volition for $20 of cold veggies and nuts. And I should caution you, more than one of us had some not so fun repercussions from the naturally fibrous and dense "goodness" in these foods, so I don't recommend it for a first date. Enough said.

5. Lalo's Mexican Restaurant
1960 N Clybourn Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 880-5256

Lalo's is Tex Mex at it's finest. Complimentary chips and salsa. Extremely large margheritas. And cheesy Mexican inspired decor. And I love it. This was by no means my first venture to this chain, however it was my first time to the Clybourn location. And, it just so happens, I like it better than the LaSalle location. It seemed a tad more authentic, had good energy and great service. My friend and I shared two appetizers and the portions were so generous that we couldn't even finish them. We got nachos with beans and cheese with guac, pico de gallo and sour creme in the middle. They were awesome (kicked Chili's mediocre attempt). And I tried Sopes for the first time - a round dough with pinched sides (like pie crust) topped with beans, lettuce, cheese and your choice of beef, chicken or pork. Quite tasty. My only compliant: Don't get the iced tea if you are a tea snob like me. They serve instant, eww!

6. R.J. Grunts
2056 N Lincoln Park W,
Chicago, IL
(773) 929-5356

If you find yourself really hungry, then this is the place for you. If you have an adventurous spirit at the salad bar, then this is the place for you. If you like to be seated before your whole party is in attendance and like nice servers, then this is NOT the place for you. Sunday night two friends and I went after church to get some dinner and arriving at 8:45 were made to wait until 9pm when our other friend joined, mind you, the restaurant closed at 9pm. The snarky waitress even came by while we were waiting at the front and made a not so kind remark to my friend about closing time...seriously? How rude! When we were finally seated (before 3rd party member arrived) she made a huge fuss about how the kitchen was "closed" and we should get the salad bar (which we already intended to). And then reneged her "closing statement" when our male friend came in to join us and she basically made him order from the menu. We felt discriminated against, haha. Oh well, enough complaining...the salad bar exceeded expectations, more options than the alphabet and our friend's meal was ginormous. I'll most likely go back, but only because I can't resist a good customized salad!

7. Cuernavaca
1158 W. 18th St.
Chicago, IL

When it comes to Mexican cuisine, I like it all. Tex Mex, Authentic, Chipotle, and even Taco Bell all make my list of acceptable options when i crave refried beans, chips, guac and salsa! Back in January, my friends and I decided to take a trip down to Pilsen (Hispanic Chicago Neighborhood) for the real deal! Cuernavaca definitely met my expectations...the chips and salsa flowed like water and the service was exceptional. Our lone waitress did a great job attending to the needs of the 15+ people in our group. The food came fast and my tacos came with soft corn tortillas (not my preference, but traditional in style) and a good portion of beans and rice. The burritos looked exceptional! The atmosphere was lively, colorful and reminiscent of it's native country. The best part of the night was when my roomate, Brittani, and neighbor, Alex, (who were alienated at their own table because the tables were unmovable) received a Shirley Temple for two from one of our friends and a romantic dinner for two ensued. :)

Alex & Britt...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

2009 Motto: Pursue Passions, Keep Connected, Love Life

As I write this blog, I am well on my way to successfully accomplishing at least one of my New Year's Resolutions/Goals...Yep, I've vowed to blog on a weekly basis for the rest of 2009. Something that I have wanted to do, but lacked the discipline to achieve in 2008.

It's such a same that I struggle to make time for the things in life that are so rewarding and therapeutic. I love writing, reflecting, and of course sharing my life with others. And it is my earnest desire that 2009 will provide ample time to do just this!

I'm not going to bore you with all 11 of my goals (odd number, I know), but would love to share my 2009 motto, which is basically a combination of the common themes I observed in my goals.

So, without further ado...
2009 Motto: Pursue Passions, Keep Connected, Love Life!

Pursue Passions -
I like to believe that I'm a pretty passionate person. And it escapes me how I've gone this long (almost 25 years) without focusing more on my passions. So, this year I am going to fervently pursue the things that drive me, the things that create an overabundance of joy in me, the things that consume my thoughts.

If you know anything about me, you probably are aware that I LOVE (is there a stronger verb?) traveling. It gets me going. Every part of it...researching destinations, planning minute details, stepping foot upon uncharted territories, observing other cultures, trying new foods, adventurous excursions, and especially the freedom and possibilities that lie within. Thus, if I were a betting woman, which I'm not, I'd say that I'll end up overseas sooner or later. But, in the meantime, I have trips planned to LA, Park City, UT, Boston, and possibly Costa Rica and Paris this year. So, I think I'm well on my way with this passion.

Other passions include playing the piano, health and fitness, and of course dancing! So, I have plans to focus on each of these in the coming months!

Keep Connected - Meaningful relationships are essential to who I am. I love connecting with people. I love learning about others, pouring into them, creating strong bonds and seeing both individuals flourish as a result. I count myself incredibly blessed to have so many strong friendships and intimate bonds with the amazing people God has brought in my life! And I have realized that since I have graduated college, life just gets busier each year (which = less time) and God continually adds people to my life. This is quite the conundrum, but a good one that I'm not going to complain about. Therefore, I have made part of my motto about relationships and want to do a better job of evaluating my relationships and pouring into the ones that are most beneficial (to both parties) and the ones that God leads me to. I'm slowly becoming ok with the fact that I CANNOT be bff's with everyone, haha...and realize that sometimes shallow friendships are beneficial in their own way.

This part of my motto is a double entendre. In order for me to be successful with the first meaning, I have to be deeply connected to God, the source of my passions and author of my life. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5. It is my hope to bear much fruit for the Lord in 2009, thus I must stay connected to the Tree of Life, the only source of true success and lasting joy!

Love Life - This is basically my take on being content despite what life may bring. Love it. Love the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. I know, i know...I'm an idealist at heart, but I can't stress enough how healthy this perspective has proven for me. We all traverse mountains and valleys in the course of our time on earth, and both are equally beneficial. Mountains give you hope, confidence, and happiness. Valleys teach humility, need, reality, strength and valuable life lessons. I mean, how exciting is hiking a flat path with no scaling views and daunting depths? Thus, I welcome them in 2009...

So, that's a wrap...but come back soon and hold me accountable to my weekly blogging goal! And...I appreciate you coming along on my adventures and welcome your feedback!