On Tap for April

I've been in a blogging funk. Have you noticed?

To snap out of it I've decided to join a little blog hop. I mean if I can't get the energy to create one post, why not commit to a full month's worth of work, right? Seems totally logical...

Arlee Bird came up with the blogging from A to Z challenge back in 2010. In the past few years it's grown leaps and bounds. This year, I was #1321 to jump on board and the list keeps growing.

Here's the beauty of joining the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, it kills 3 birds with one stone.
  1. It's a way to light a fire under my bloggy bum and push me to get content published
  2. I've picked a theme that will help me cross an item off my day zero listy list
  3. I'll {hopefully} connect with a few new blogger buddies - which is always inspiring
Each day of April - except Sundays - I'll be posting a Chicago photo corresponding to that day's letter. By the end of April, I will be able to cross #59 "Take a Picture for Each Letter of the Alphabet" off my day zero list.

That would really be good because my 1001 days end in July and I'm only 24% complete. YIKES!

Have any blogging plans for April? Have I got an idea for you...


Running Toward Spring

Back in December I ran the Rudolph Ramble 10K and it was the best run of my life. It was a distance record for me, I felt great while running (despite the chilly temps) and it gave me confidence that I might actually be a runner.

Obviously I followed the victory up by taking a day off. The day turned into a couple of days, which turned into a couple of weeks. Before I knew it it was the middle of February and I hadn't run at all. My poor shoes stayed in the tub for days.

(For the record - we have a separate shower.)

I knew I wanted to get back out there. I sleep better, feel better, look better when I'm active. Now that Spring is here, running is back on my radar. So I registered for the Soldier Field 10 mile race on May 25th. Not only does the distance intimidate and excite me, I get to finish on the 50 yard line of Soldier Field! Plus, setting a "reach" goal like this will, hopefully, motivate me.

But in order to prepare I've started signing up for races like a mad woman. On April 28th I'm running the The Race That's Good For Life with Erin from Eri-thon. I think I've realized that the only thing that keeps me out on the street is knowing I have a finish line to cross and T-shirt to collect.

And to ensure the shoes don't end up in the tub for days again, I signed up for the The Color Run on June 16th. It's not a timed race, but I saw so many color run-esque aftermaths on my routes last summer I had to be part of one this year. It was a FOMO decision.

Then, because I'm seriously considering a half marathon at some point this year I figured I should add the Esprit de She 10K on July 18th. If I'm still running and smiling by this point then a half in the Fall just might be added to the list. There I said it. I'm putting it out there.

But it's going to take some WORK! I'm so bummed that after such a short break, my training seems to be back at square one. I'm kicking myself for taking those weeks off. But I know I trained and accomplished it last year and I can do it again!

What about you, are you a runner? 
What races are on your calendar this Spring?


Why Alvin Ailey Moved Me to Tears

I have been known to exaggerate. I often speak in superlatives and use an abundance of exclamation points. But let me assure you, every superlative I'm about to use was well earned by Alvin Ailey Dance Theater last night at Chicago's Auditorium Theatre.

It's been years since a live dance performance has brought me to tears. Last night, it happened.

The tears fell during the company's presentation of Petite Mort. With a name like Petite Mort one expects a sensual, sexually charged piece of work. It was. There were moments when, as an audience member I felt like a voyeur. Was I intruding on an intimate moment?

But it was so much more than that. Choreographed in 1991 by Jiří Kylián and set to Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 21 and 23, this work is absolutely exquisite. (For the other Breaking Pointe fans out there, this is the piece Ballet West performed with the swords and chiffon.) It's breathtaking, surprising and even at times comical. I dare say this may be the best live dance performance I have seen in my life. It really was that good.

The rest of the night was special too. The Chicago premier of Another Night was also a triumph.

It was last night's opening number. As I sat in awe of the company I began to write this gushing post in my head. Choreographer Kyle Abraham's work was inspired by and is set to Art Blakey’s interpretation of “A Night In Tunisia” by Dizzy Gillespie. It was colorful, alive, hot but cool. Undoubtedly, it is a piece that I will remember for years.

I've been told that Ailey dancers are the "best bodies in the business." At the risk of seeming to objectify these talented, brilliant artists, I have to agree. To see the strength, the grace, the power and the fluidity those gorgeous bodies communicate is awe inspiring. I am and was blown away. I'm so blown away in fact, I am hoping to catch another show before the company leaves on March 17th.

If you are in Chicago or if Ailey is coming through a city near you, I beg you not to miss these dynamic performers. Last night's show was the stuff of legends. If you have the chance to experience it, you must.

Have you ever been moved to tears by a live performance?
Tell me about it!


Fr-EYE-day Candy

Tonight I'm headed to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Auditorium. I can't wait.

The show is running from tonight (March 8th) through Sunday, March 17th. Tickets are still available and it promises to be quite an event. Over the 10 performance run the company will be presenting 3 company premiers, 2 Chicago premiers and a few other programs on a rotating basis. Find the full schedule on The Auditorium Theatre's website.

Today's Fr-EYE-day Candy is a glimpse at Revelations. It's one of the pieces I get to see tonight:

What are you excited about this weekend?


A Snowy Day in Chicago

I watched my first Chicago "blizzard" through a window.

White Out 3

The weather apps were predicting the storm would drop 10 inches on the city! I was pretty excited. Finally I was going to experience a real Chicago storm. I've heard the legends. I've been warned over and over again. I was ready. I knew I had plenty of Netflix work and such to keep me busy. I looked forward to enjoying the pretty, pretty flakes through our windows.

White Out

And that's exactly what I did.

The snow fell fast and furiously all day long. It never amounted to the promised 10 inches. Actually, it wasn't anywhere close to that. And though there were moments of white out conditions, in the end, it probably didn't qualify as a true blizzard.

But after a full year of wishing and waiting for the white stuff, I'm definitely not complaining about yesterday's storm.

First Flakes After All Day

I am complaining about one thing though. I had big dreams that my "time lapse" photography of the storm would be much more dramatic. Can you say, anti-climactic?

White Out 2

Now that that's out of the way... who's ready for spring?


A Slightly Selfish Way to Serve

I've discovered a slightly selfish way to serve the arts community in Chicago.

It's a way of giving of my time (and a little bit of money) but it isn't exactly without benefit for me. In fact, the benefit for me is kinda huge.

Since June of 2012 I've been a member of The Saints. I'm one of over 2000 people who serve eighty of the Chicago's theater, dance and music organizations. We stuff envelopes and programs, we answer phones but most often we act as ushers.

Bow Tie Nutcracker Potted Potter Sister Act
my bow tie | The Auditorium Theatre | me at Potted Potter | a Sister Act program

But here's the kicker. Once we spend an hour or two before a performance welcoming guests and pointing the way to the restroom or the bar, we get to take a seat inside the theatre for the show. And our seat is complimentary.

You guys, I'm getting to see a TON of dance. I'm seeing a variety of musicals and plays. I'm getting to listen to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I'm able to listen in on sound checks and watch rehearsals before the theatre doors open. And I'm doing it all for a very small donation and a little bit of my time.

It's incredible.

In March alone I'm going to get to see Alvin Ailey, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Giordano Dance Chicago. And yesterday I signed up to work two days of TEDx Midwest in May!

I wish that I could say I got involved with the Saints simply because I was excited to be a part of an organization that provides grants to not-for-profit performing arts organizations located in Chicago. (which they do) But, my motives were slightly more selfish. I wanted to wear a bow tie. Oh, and I wanted to see the shows.

If you're in Chicago and this sounds like something you might like to do, you can find more information on The Saints website or ask me!

Please tell me I'm not the only one who serves in a slightly selfish way.
Is there a way that you give of your time that really ends up giving back to you 
much more than you could have ever imagined?


Back to the Land of the Living

In mid-February I got zapped.

For nearly two weeks I was less than 100% healthy. It was pretty miserable.

Sick Day

Without my consent, a parade of bugs invaded my body and marched over my immune system showing no mercy. Each day was a surprise. Each morning I woke up with different symptoms.

My version of "sick" mutated several times. It started out like the flu. My doctor checked and I didn't have THE flu. (I'm convinced I had next year's flu - I mean I am typically ahead of the curve...) But after a few days of that my symptoms ran the gamut and confounded my incredibly patient and thorough doctor. After 8 vials of blood drawn and a few other assorted tests, we never ended up with a definitive diagnosis. Harumph. Eventually I just felt better.

I think what surprised me most was how long it took me to get back to "normal." Losing that much productivity was tougher to recover from than those icky, invading germs. Even once I felt better physically, I was under water mentally. It seemed like I would never cross everything off the list. I was frustrated and exhausted.

Thankfully I finally feel like I'm back in the land of the living. Recovery seemed to last as long as the illness itself! But I'm grateful for the love, support, patience and help of my hubby, friends, co-workers, and doctors. As frustrating as the time loss was and as miserable as I felt, I can't help but feel appreciation. I really take my health for granted. At the end of all of this, I got better. I feel healthy and well again. Plus, I'm so fortunate to have a support system and adequate medical benefits with the financial resources to supplement them. I get that neither of those things are a given. As annoying as it was, this was an eye opening experience.

For that I'm thankful.

Have you been hit by the crud this year?