Monday, June 29, 2009

The Tippyng Point

Have you ever had that feeling...the feeling that you are one with the Universe, that you are exactly where you were created to be, that you don't have a care in the world,or that without the sun and moon, time wouldn't exist?

I had this rare feeling last weekend while in Warsaw, IN at Lake Tippecanoe. It was, indeed, a Tippyng Point (for all of you who've read Malcom Gladwell's notable book) for me. Gladwell describes "TheTipping Point
is a way of making sense of the world, because I'm not sure that the world always makes as much sense to us as we would hope. I spent a great deal of time in the book talking about the way our minds work--and the peculiar and sometimes problematic ways in which our brains process information. Our intuitions, as humans, aren't always very good. Changes that happen really suddenly, on the strength of the most minor of input, can be deeply confusing. People who understand The Tipping Point, I think, have a way of decoding the world around them."

I'm not really sure that it was the specific lake, activities or people I was with that culminated in my Aha moment this weekend, but I'm sure all played a part. I think for me, just being in nature, breathing in the freshness, feeling the chill of emerald green waters, seeing the diamond-filled skies, soaking up all the vitamin D the sun has to share, and feeling the warm soothing Summer breeze on my skin just takes me outside of my head. And this my friends is a luxury money can't buy. Being removed from myself (in a sense) enables me to connect with God as a part of His glorious creation. I am able to focus on the Creator and not the creation - to be wooed by my first love. Magical.

This experience has served as a filter for seeing my current struggles, challenges, hope, ideas, creativity and opportunities in light of a bigger picture. I have wrestled the past 6 mos or so with trying to figure out my life, no small feat right?!? It sounds plain silly as I write it here. I have thought through countless plans and options. Thought long and hard about my passions and how to leverage them - often stumbling upon exciting possibilities. Yet, I have been gun shy. I get caught up in the muck and mire of details, planning and perfection. "What if I fail?" "What if things work out?" Neither being fruitful questions for me.

I think Gladwell offers some hope for this struggle of mine and many of yours....
Just like epidemics, "Things can happen all at once, and little changes can make a huge difference. That's a little bit counter intuitive. As human beings, we always expect everyday change to happen slowly and steadily, and for there to be some relationship between cause and effect. And when there isn't -- when crime drops dramatically in New York for no apparent reason, or when a movie made on a shoestring budget ends up making hundreds of millions of dollars -- we're surprised. I'm saying, don't be surprised. This is the way social epidemics work."

The bigger picture isn't worried about the details. It isn't concerned with the HOW, but the WHAT. I didn't spent my weekend at the lake thinking, "Wow, God, I wonder HOW you did all this...I mean, it's just mind boggling." But I did think, "Wow, God, you are amazing. Thank you for your creation. It truly is good and wonderful." I was able to appreciate it for what it is and enjoy it. This is what I hope to carry forward in my head and heart. I want to take the ideas, opportunities, setbacks and disappointments and glean what I can from them and keep pushing the ball forward. I don't want to stall in indecisiveness or fumble in complacency. Because all things take their own course, even when they're counter intuitive or hard to fathom.

So here's to focusing on the WHAT, embracing a Tippyng Point, and forward motion. Don't be left in the dust!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sweet Summertime

So, this past weekend, I took a trip down memory lane. Returning to my neck of the woods, Tahlequah, Ok, (aka The Quah). What brought me back? A wedding, my family, old friends and you guessed it, sweet summertime. My Kappa Little, Julie, was getting married, so I decided to make the trek back to celebrate her finding love and starting this new journey in life. My G-Little, Jody, was a bridesmaid and I hadn't seen either of them in other in over a year and it was quite the sweet reunion. Some of the highlights of the night were seeing some Kappas, Julie wearing cowboy boots under her wedding dress, the AWESOME photo booth at the reception and of course, the plethora of country music, swing dancing, line dancing and two-stepping! is one of the sweetest parts of summertime.

One of my fave Summer songs, says it well...
(Summertime by Kenny Chesney)

"And it's two bare feet on the dashboard
Young love and an old Ford
Cheap shades and a tattoo
And a Yoo-Hoo bottle on the floorboard

Perfect song on the radio
Sing along 'cause it's one we know

It's a smile, it's a kiss
It's a sip of wine, it's summertime
Sweet summertime"

Saturday came in a hurry and I found myself out on Lake Tenkiller (the epitome of Summer) with my good friend Colt and his mom. Cruising on the crystal green waters, wind in my face, sun beaming down, all I could feel was happy. I always forget how beautiful this lake is...the sharp cliffs, rocks and emerald green trees jetting down to the warm choppy waters in a picturesque scene. We spent the day parked in Party Cove with many other boaters and sun bathers, stereos blaring and cold drinks flowing. It was a perfect 90 degrees, blue skies dotted with white puffy cotton. I loved this day. Not only had I been dying to catch some serious rays, but also it was well past time to don my new suit! I didn't do the 30 Day Shred for nothing!!! We finished a great day on the water at the restaurant on the dock.
Something about being on the lake made me give into the freshly fried catfish and I enjoyed the indulgence!

"Temperature says 93

Down at the Deposit and Guarantee
But that swimmin' hole
It's nice and cold

Bikini bottoms underneath

But the boys' hearts still skip a beat

When them girls shimmy off

Them old cutoffs"

Later that night I rallied and hung out with Justin, one of my best friends from HS. It just so happened that there was an art/music festival going on downtown this night and so we met up with some other Quah peeps for the night. This is where it got weird...I kept being introduced to college kids who I knew from back in my youth group days who were so BIG! I mean, I wouldn't even have recognized many of them and couldn't believe that I, yes I, was feeling OLD! Impossible, I thought, haha.

After the festival we made our way to the local watering hole, Granny's Attic, where we met up with some more high school friends. This was only the 2nd time I'd ever been out to a bar in my home town, and the crowd never ceased to surprise me! I kept running into old friend after friend and it was crazy the way some people had totally changed, and how some had stayed exactly the same. It got even more odd when a whole slew of some older kids from my high school paraded in and I was really confused that they were all there and still in Tahlequah...but finally someone informed me that it was the 1999 HS Reunion after party - all made so much more sense! I ended the night with my first game of shuffle board and caught up on all the high school gossip. Not too shabby!

Sunday was a family day. Went to Tulsa with my dad, granny and sister to celebrate Father's Day early. We went to my dad's fave restaurant, Olive Garden, and gorged ourselves on the most delicious bread sticks and salad amidst other things. I do always eat well when I come home! Then, the moment I had been waiting dad opened his was a laptop. The first computer he has ever had. He started giggling like a little girl when he realized what it was and I think the shock on his face was enough joy to keep me happy all year long! I loved being able to give him such a special gift and now just pray that my 11 year old sister can teach him to use it!

"The more things change
The more they stay the same
Don't matter how old you are
When you know what I'm talkin' 'bout

Yeah baby when you got

Two bare feet on the dashboard
Young love and an old Ford

Cheap shades and a tattoo

And a Yoo-Hoo bottle rollin' on the floorboard

Perfect song on the radio

Sing along 'cause it's one we know

It's a smile, it's a kiss It's a sip of wine, it's summertime
Sweet summertime"

Kenny and Oklahoma will always be the essence of Sweet Summertime for me!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Secret Life of Mee 002

So, I know I've slipped on doing these every week...but rest assured I will keep divulging with you all from time to time!

Today's secret: My pancake obsession...

Ummm....seriously. I have a problem. You see, not only am I bona fide foodie, but I'm a total
aholic! And living in Chicago only feeds my addiction. Any given weekend you can find me at the latest and greatest brunch boutiques waiting in ridiculously long lines (I refuse to get up early on the weekends) for a taste of their succulent breakfast specialties! I always want both salty and sweet, but if I have to choose, I go straight for the fluffy goodness and ewy gooey maple delight that I'm sure are reminiscent of the milk and honey in the Promise Land!!!

This past weekend I had the delight of two brunch dates on the calendar with some of my fave girls! So, for those of you living in Chicago and those of you who don't but should come visit, I'm going to give you the 411 on two new fave brunch spots.

1) Southport Grocery & Cafe - 3552 N Southport Ave,Chicago, IL 60657

This charming establishment is for those who love to eat and/or cook good food. Their Modern comfort food is served up in a chic, clean and contemporary venue. Space is definitely limited by the grocery and bakery areas, but it's cozy nonetheless (outdoor seating is avail too).

My friend and I split the
Hash: Potato-red onion-mushroom-pepper-white cheddar hash topped with scrambled eggs & chive-sour cream. It was seriously one of the best "egg" options I've had in a while - hearty and comforting as it should be! I then got a side of the Bread Pudding Pancakes (just 1): A pancake made with gooey bread pudding topped with cinnamon-sugar butter & a side of vanilla custard sauce (featuring our house-made cinnamon-sugar butter from the grocery). Really? Who thinks of this??? I about died! My friend went the more healthy (weak) route with the Seasonal Fruit: Seasonal fresh fruit drizzled with vanilla vinaigrette. Ummm...vanilla vinaigrette is side of fruit I've ever had!
Hash Bread Pudding Pancakes

My love affair with
Southport Grocery didn't end there...Many SPG veterans pre-warned me of the killer cupcakes this little joint is famous for. So, of course, I HAD to get go ;) I even waited till the next day to indulge and it tasted like Wedding Cake, mmmmm....

2) Over Easy Cafe - 4943 Damen Ave Chicago, IL 60625

So...just when I thought I had died and gone to brunch heaven, my friend Lisa introduced me to Over Easy! I had heard of this place for a year or so, but never ventured up north to check it out - BIG mistake! OE exudes charm, cheer, incredible service (my water was never more than an inch low!) and all your favorite dishes with a twist.

We waited diligently for an hour (Lisa promised it was worth it)...but their generous complimentary Julius Meinl coffee seemed to keep patrons at ease as they awaited their eggs.

Finally, comfortably seated at a two top we practically drool all over the menu just reading the options. Again...I am at a cross roads with what to order, thus we decide to split (which makes me really happy). By this time, I am coveting the
Blueberry Crunch Pancakes: pancakes filled with granola, candied pecans & blueberries, topped with granola and served with cinnamon butter, powdered sugar & whipped cream, and we are both tempted by the Nueva Mexicana Omelet: eggs, corn, tomatoes, red onions, cilantro & goat cheese topped with salsa verde & sour cream, served with red potato hash & toast. So we get both :)

Blueberry Crunch Pancakes
Nueva Mexicana Omelet

Let me tell you...the omelet was more than worth writing home about...BUT, the Pancakes, they were DIVINE! Seriously, at every bite we were questioning our whereabouts; something this tasty could only come from Heaven!

Sigh...what a weekend,
haha. Both of these breakfast havens exceeded my expectations and I'll surely be going back! Any takers?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Speed Dating 101 - All you need to know about dating and dashing!

It's true...Last night I went speed dating with 4 of my girlfriends.Why? Why not? This has been my motto for many things as of late. We started talking about it months ago and just thought it would be a fun and hilarious experience. One of those things you want to do just once in life - right up there with skydiving and climbing Mount Everest, haha. Ok, not quite.

But seriously, it was an opportunity to experience something new, meet new and interesting people, potentially find love, romance, or a fling and well, have good stories to share! The only downside I could really come up with was the $35 cost of entry, but hey, the restaurant, Salud, provided complimentary (aka $35) chips and salsa and quesadillas - both of which I'm a sucker for - so I figured that if that's all I walked away with, I'd be one HAPPY customer :)

The service we used for this adventure was called "Date and Dash", clever huh? I found them via my pal Google and opted for this particular (of many options) one because I had actually heard of it before, the guys were sure to be "college graduates" and it was at a fun Mexican restaurant I hadn't checked out.

So, in case you're a speed dating virgin, here's how it goes down:
-Ladies arrive and get your number and take your seat at your designated table.
- Men arrive and get your number and wait in the "holding area" for the fun to begin.
- Once it starts the guys rotate among the women in 5 minute intervals.
- You are given a score sheet with a place for their name and notes and a check "Yes or No" area to be completed between each date.
- 72 hours after the event the results are posted online showing who you were matched with (i.e. guy and girl both check yes)

- Then it's up to the guy and girl from there.

So...without further ado, I'd love to share some of the evenings highlights (and lowlights) for your reading pleasure!

Quoatable Quotes: A collection from me and the girls.

"I did have a man ask me what I prefer to be...beautiful but not wisdomest, or old but with some wisdom..he didn't believe me I wanted to be old..."

" I believe I got the "3 guys go to heaven joke"...which followed by the punch line he said..that's it..that's the joke."

"I had to spell my name for the first 2 min which killed some good time."

" I was impressed by the number of men who stared at my chest, not at my eyes, which I assume was due to my beautiful necklace."

"Question I got the most "so do you do this often?" Me - No (while thinking"Clearly not as I brought 4 friends.")"

Candid Convos: These are the real deal ladies and gents...

Best conversation was with one of the Indian guys. It went like this:
Him: So what 3 items would you bring with you if you were on a deserted island
Me: My Kindle so I could download books and read. I'd bring sunscreen because I burn easily...
Him: (exuberant laughter)
Me: Aaaand probably my friend Lauren because she makes me laugh and is easily entertained
Him: You wouldn't bring your HUSBAND?
Me: I think my husband would be more concerned that I was speed dating tonight than whether or not he's with me on a fictitious island...

Another great one with another guy:

Me: So if you could have any animal in the world for a pet what would you choose?
Him: Dog
Me: Seriously? You'd choose a dog over a domesticated Tiger?
Him: Yes. What would you choose?
Me: A dolphin. it would do tricks and swim me around a pool. We'd be friends.
Him: That doesn't seem very practical.
Me: Well, I already have a dog. You wouldn't even want a Meerkat?
Him: Maybe if it didn't bite me

Older guy:
Him: So what do you do for fun?
Me: Lately I've been going to a lot of Cubs games.

Him: I'm a White Sox Fan.
Me: Dealbreaker.
(He didn't realize I was (half)joking and we then sat in silence til the bell)

The German Guy:
Me: Can you say something in German?
Him: (Starts speaking in German)
Me: Wow!
Him: I can say everything in German
Me: Say "everything"
Him: (looks at me like a freak, clearly not getting the joke) We only have 3 minutes and I'd like to talk with you in English.

One of the best question/answer dialogues:
Indian Guy: So, if you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why? (very original)
Me: Oooh that's easy.
IG: Really? slight chuckle.
Me: Ya, would be Jesus! You see...I'm a Christian and I think it would be amazing to meet the cornerstone of my faith.

IG: Oh...what would you ask him?
Me: Gosh. There's so many things. I'm not really even sure where to start. (followed by me rambling numerous curiosities off)
IG: So there's this book you should read and it's about Christianity and the author makes you practically hate it and then brings you back to loving it and wanting to believe. But i'm not a Christian.
Me: Interesting. Can you write that one down?
IG: Sure - The Brothers of Karamazov (Russian Author)

*The funniest part - he totally pawned this book off on my roomate too, haha. Guess that's the only ammo he had for us "Christians".

Check it here:

Another funny comment came from a guy who was a police man. But by no means looked it.
Me: So, what do you like to do for fun in the city?
PM: I'm very physical.
Me: Interesting. (I was desperately trying not to snicker at his random response and simultaneously hoping he wouldn't try and get "physical" with me!!!)

Most Crazy Topic of Conversation compliments of the Dr.: Sensory Deprivation!!!

Me: Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing?
Dr: Well, I just went to this place on Clark and did sensory deprivation. It's really relaxing and I really enjoy it.
Me: Excuse me? What did you say? (I wasn't sure I had understood initial reaction was that it had to do with sewage, haha not sure why!) What is it?
Dr.: There's only 1 place in the city to do it and it's great. I got into it a while back and love it.
Me: Ok, but i'm not sure I understand what it is!
Dr.: Oh, it's basically this big tank of salt water that is in a completely dark room. You get in it and the salt density causes you to float. And you stay in the water in the dark for an hour. It really helps me find out things about myself that I dont' know.
Me: Wow...that's different. Do you get claustrophobic?

Dr.: At first I kind of did, but I would just keep the lid opened for a bit. But now i'm fine.
Me: I don't think I'd like that! (Praying for the whistle to blow so I wouldn't get asked out on a Sensory Deprivation Date!!!)
Read about it here:

Most Awkward Award: IT Guy
Me: Hi.
IT: Um, Hi.
Long Silence....
Me: So, where are you from?

IT: (can't even remember his answer...i was mortified by the awkwardness)
Me: What do you do?
IT: I work in IT.
Me: Oh really? Do you work downtown?
IT: No. In the burbs.
Me: Which suburb? Do you live out there too?
IT: X Suburb (can't remember). Ya i live out there (said with a creepy sheepish grin).
Me: Cool. Um. (SAVED BY THE BELL!)

And there you have it. The speed dating mystery unlocked. Did I find my soul mate? No. Did i check YES for any of the eligible bachelors? No. Would I do it again? No. Did I have a hilarious unforgettable experience? Yes! My paltry expectations were even exceeded. And who knows...i think some of my girls may soon be dating (minus the dashing) some of these lucky fellers so, I may have to have a guest blogger or two fill us in on Speed Dating Part 2!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pass the Cheese Please!

Chuck E Cheese that is!!!That's right folks, I spent my Sunday afternoon juggling 3 children in a maze of games, pizza, laughter, toys, bells, whistles, colors and oh yeah, fun! You see, for the past year I have been a part of a fabulous program called Big Brothers Big Sisters that pairs adults (i.e. BIGS) with underprivileged children (Littles). A sort of mentor/mentee program if you will.

Mia and I were a great match from the start. She is bubbly, energetic, loves life, is smart, outgoing and likes new experiences. And that's just what we've done over the past 14 mos. experience new things together. Everything from seeing baby chicks hatch at the museum, to building our first Gingerbread House together to playing DDR and piano at my house. Aside from all the fun, this relationship has benefited me just as much or more than Mia. She has taught me to relax, be more spontaneous, to find joy in the little things and appreciate simple pleasures...oh, and to be ever gracious all the while!

So this weekend was a particularly special weekend for two reasons. One because Mia turned 11 2 weeks ago and we hadn't had a chance to celebrate. The other reason is that this was our last outing as a Big/Little match. Our year with the program had come to an end and I am unfortunately unable to commit to another year. This was a really hard realization to come to, but I know that it is for the best. Hence, I wanted to make it really special and fun for her and invited her whole family along for the outing...

And this is where it gets good...I find out that Mia's mom has to work and I will be picking up the kids and entertaining them for the afternoon until she can show up a few hours later. Which is fine and all, but let me paint a picture for you.

A SWF (Single White Female) walks into Chuck E Cheese with 3 adorable African American children ages 11, 3 and 2 mos! You can imagine the looks I was getting, or the looks I was fabricating in my head, haha. This is even funnier if you know me at all. You see, I don't even own a dog for the simple fact that I'd have to take care of entrusting me with 3 living, breathing, non-self sufficient children was quite a leap of faith for Mia's mom! I was tasked with ordering food, feeding the kids, even the infant, making sure Osiana (3) was within eye view and not putting endless amounts of coins in games that only require one and making sure Mia was having fun and getting attention - no small feat.

Somehow though, by the Grace of God, all went well. The day went by without the slightest hiccup -except for Angel (2mos) after his bottle - and I was praising God for helping me be calm and actually have a BLAST! It was so sweet getting to experience the pure joy and thrill of children at this magical place. Excitement flew through the air like lightning. Laughter was magnetic and joy flowed like wine (ahem, or grape soda). I am grateful for the past year with Mia and look forward to staying involved in her life in other ways. I know I'll always carry the imprint she's made on my heart and can only hope the same for her.

So yes...pass the cheese please...because it's the best cheese I've had in a while!