Rest In Peace: A Foreign Land

It has been a journal, a microphone, a match-maker and a launch pad.

It has helped me improve my writing, helped me learn a teeny tiny bit of HTML and served as an introduction to digital media.

A Foreign Land has served me well for the last seven years. Through it I've met new friends and stayed connected to far-away loved ones. I've recounted adventures, made life lists and processed through tough times.

So it is with a grateful heart that I say farewell to A Foreign Land.

Thank you to everyone who took time to read, comment, share and support A Foreign Land. Undoubtedly, the community that this blog provided is the greatest treasure of them all. I am humbled and thankful for every follower, every comment and every individual who took a moment to read a post.

I hope the end of A Foreign Land doesn't mean goodbye. 
Please, let's stay connected! 

Visit my new online home mollypg.com or let's keep in touch on twitter or instagram.


Avoid Mental Hibernation: Read, Watch, See & Learn

As winter's chill begins to tiptoe into the city, I'm preparing for the inevitable urge to hibernate. For some strange reason, cold weather slows down my brain and tempts me to cuddle up and power down.


Until I'm ready to fully commit to holiday festivities (I'm one of the few who just isn't there yet), a little bit of inspiration is required to keep my brain active. Here are a couple of ways I'm stimulating my cerebral cortex and warding off mental hibernation.

What to Read: 

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

I was late to join the Malcolm Gladwell fan club. But I consider myself a member in good standing none the less. Twice now I've had the pleasure of hearing Gladwell speak. This year at Chicago Ideas Week, Gladwell introduced his latest book David and Goliath. Thankfully I got myself on the library's wait list early enough and I've been tearing through it. He's an entertaining speaker, but as I'm reminded while reading his latest work, he's an even more gifted writer. Gladwell has a way of making anecdotal evidence and straight-up scientific research compelling and entertaining. Plus, let's be honest, I feel smart when I read his stuff. He makes heady concepts accessible. If you're a Gladwell fan David and Goliath will not disappoint. In fact, if you aren't a Gladwell fan David and Goliath won't disappoint.

What to Watch:


Peek behind the scenes of New York City Ballet in a series of six to seven minute documentaries entitled city. ballet. Narrator, executive producer and dance enthusiast Sarah Jessica Parker gives us a glimpse of the world inhabited by this elite group of performers. It's so magical that I gobbled up all twelve episodes in one sitting! Class and performance footage is interspersed with unscripted interviews from the dancers. It's respectful and honest about the challenges dancers face without tarnishing the magic and majesty that is New York City Ballet.

What to See:

Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine

You think there's a lot of food in your house throughout the holiday season? The Art Institute of Chicago's latest exhibition will see your feasts and raise you a gallery or four. Showing now until January 27th, Art and Appetite is a collection of works celebrating the sensory pleasure of food. From still life and genre painting of the mid 18th century to the pop art of the 20th century that blurred lines between consumerism and artistry, this special exhibit is packed with tasty treats. As always, AIC has plenty of special programming related to the exhibit scheduled to whet your appetite. Mark your calendar for one or two of these great events.

What to Learn:

Treehouse: Online Interactive Education

Looking for an excuse to avoid the frigid temps outside but still want to accomplish something edifying? Why not learn a little web design from the comfort of your living room?
At Treehouse we believe that understanding, controlling and communicating with technology is a fundamental skill that everyone should have the opportunity to learn.
Treehouse students learn to build websites, create mobile and web apps, or even how to start a business through a combination of video tutorials, quizzes and code challenges. I'm currently involved in the web design track, but am excited to explore other options in the future. If this sounds like something you might enjoy too and you want to provide me with a scholarship, jump in here.*

How do you avoid Mental Hibernation in the winter months?


*For every person who joins Treehouse using this link, I'll receive 20% off my monthly bill.


4 Ways to Bring a Little Happy into Hard Times

When life gets complicated blogging can be tough.

boy, you make things difficult
photo source

Five hundred years ago when I launched A Foreign Land, I was in a dark place. My posts reflected that. They were snarky and full of complaints. Surprisingly (sarcastic font), they didn't resonate with any audience and frankly my writing wasn't fun to read. Somewhere along the line I made a strategic decision to lighten up. I tried to dedicate this space to positive parts of my life. My writing smiled more and not so surprisingly the audience grew.

Of course my decision to write happy didn't mean I didn't still have snarky days. Bad stuff still happened. Hard stuff still happened. But I set a boundary for myself. Rather than using my blog to work through it, I turned to family, friends and my therapists. (Yes, therapists is intentionally plural. Mostly because we moved not because counseling me takes a team of qualified professionals. Mostly.)

I'm all for bloggers who have set different boundaries for themselves. I appreciate reading heartfelt posts about others' struggles. It's helpful to know of others' difficulties and how they've overcome them. I champion the push in the blogger world to "be real" and share a full picture of our lives. But I also respect and understand bloggers who choose to keep some things for themselves.

I bring all this up because in my world October REALLY sucked. I dealt with family sickness and death. I was turned down for a job I really wanted - and that's just the stuff I'm interested in putting in a blog post. So, for me, I stepped away from A Foreign Land. I chose to "keep it real" elsewhere.

But I'm thinking I'm back.

I woke up this morning feeling productive and creative. The sun was shining - metaphorically and for real. For the first time in weeks, I wanted to blog. Yahooooooo!

photo source

To celebrate I decided to share a few tools I used to bring a little positivity into the suckiosity that surrounded me. My hope is that when YOU are in a funk (Perhaps today? It is Monday after all.) they'll come in handy.
  1. Be Gentle: Give yourself a little time and space. When the shit hits the fan, if you're anything like me, you may want to rush to get back to "normal" as quickly as possible. Resist the urge to force yourself back into a happy place. As scary as it can be, it's okay to feel sad. It's okay to mourn. It's okay to accomplish a bit less in the name of healing. Be gentle on yourself and know that taking time to process loss or disappointment is necessary and helpful. Sad isn't a land we want to reside in permanently but we shouldn't be afraid to visit for a season. As a side note, I packed hot tea, speculoos cookies and some BBC for my stay and was glad I did.
  2. Get Happier: This social gratitude journal is a free app that lives up to its name. When we're sad, finding reasons to be grateful is hugely important. Research shows that focussing on the positive and sharing good things with others makes you happier, healthier and more productive. Happier encourages you to do just that. It's a community of users making a choice to find the good - sometimes small and easily overlooked - things in each day and celebrate them. I encourage you to check it out! {Connect with me here.}
  3. Embrace Your Yogaglo: For an incredibly reasonable price Yogaglo delivers more than 1,000 yoga and meditation classes right to your computer, HDTV or mobile devise so there's no longer an excuse not to get a little exercise. When I'm sad the last thing I want to do is go to the gym even though exercise endorphins are just what I need. I got hooked after a 15 day FREE TRIAL of yoga in my pjs. Starting my day with yoga or meditation or yoga AND meditation has been a way to get me out of bed on days that the last thing I want to do is get out of bed. Plus, I'm getting way more bendy and so can you.
  4. Go On a Lady Date: This one is particularly for you ladies out there. There's nothing like time spent with a girlfriend or two to elevate your mood. Whether you're in person, on FaceTime or using your connectivity software of choice, your network of supporters is essential. For me, different friends played different roles. You might know one woman who can do all of these things. (If you do, will you introduce me? She sounds magical.) One friend just listened and cared. Another cussed out the "bad guys" for me. One reminded me I wasn't going nuts, it was just my life that was. Another commiserated and shared her own hurts. One made me laugh and fed me sweets. Others encouraged and nudged me to think about possibilities for the future and the life waiting for me after the sadness. I can't sing the praises of a fabulous lady date enough. Put one on your calendar and it will give you something to look forward to.

How do you cope with the funk when it darkens your door?    


Mmm Mmm Monday: A Tasty Tour

The only thing about Chicago that might be more intriguing than its architecture is its food. There I said it. I may be an architecture geek at heart, but my rumbly tummy is often in charge. What can I say? The stomach wants what the stomach wants.

So when the fantastic crew at Vimbly offered me the opportunity to use their newly launched Chicago site to pick one of thousands of activities and classes, Chicago Food Planet's Gold Coast & Old Town Food Tour was a no brainer.

I was in heaven! As a hungry Chicago enthusiast I found it to be a great mix of history, architecture and delicious treats. We chowed through seven tastings in three hours and picked up a bit of foodie trivia along the way.

DID YOU KNOW... It wasn't until 1943 that Chicago style pizza was deep dish? Prior to that, pizza in this part of the world was served on a much thinner crust. However, during the depression, Ike Sewell, the owner of pizzeria Uno, and his pizza chef, Rudy Malnati, developed the thicker crust as a more substantial option to feed hungry customers.

Our guide, Jess, was personable, engaging and created a relaxed environment where we could learn a ton while we chowed down. I look forward to giving the Chinatown tour a try next! Who's in?

Chicago makes my goal to live as a tourist in my own town a particularly easy and enjoyable pursuit. I'm excited to discover and explore Vimbly for my next adventure!

I received my Chicago Food Planet Tour at no charge courtesy of Vimbly but all the opinions in this post are 100% mine & 100% true.