Playing Hooky

As we get ready to start a weekend, this reminder is for me leave some unscheduled time. And you, if you are interested.

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Sunrise Beach in Lake Bluff, IL

Last Monday morning our pantry was desolate, the laundry baskets overflowing, the garden needed weeding, pictures still needed to be hung,I had yet to pay mid-month bills, and I had to work. But you know what? I didn’t care one iota. Some weekends—especially gorgeous summer Midwestern days– are perfect days to play hooky.

The to-do lists, the chores, the having-to-fill every-moment with something productive hours can turn weekends to drudgery. Those 2 precious days can start to feel like the overburdened week days, if we cram them with minutia and busy work.

Last weekend was filled with entertaining surprises, as I tried to grab my free time with gusto.  Memories of my kids and friends could have skipped right by, if I had spent all my time on things I think I should have been doing.

Here is a short list of some of the fun, unanticipated moments to store in my memory bank.

–Sushi dinner with my kids, followed by going to see The Big Sick (highly recommend this movie!) where my daughter and I brought down the average age of viewers by about 20 years.

–Northwestern college tour followed by stunning, perfect views of Lake Michigan.

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–A 20 mile bike ride with friends. This workout was definitely about the destination, not the mediocre views along the way. The highlight was the stellar beach on Lake Michigan we didn’t plan to stop at, putting our toes in the sand.

 

–The former followed by an unplanned dinner al fresco with neighbors.

–Unexpected trip to the Chicago on Sunday afternoon. We were excited to finally lunch at the inviting 3 Arts Club Cafe   While waiting for our table, we wandered a neighborhood I can only dream of living in, and joined in on the Dearborn Garden Walk. Worth the wait!

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Having fun in the Restoration Hardware while waiting for our table. 
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Us at the lovely 3 Arts Club Cafe

Who wants to remember yet another trip to the grocery store? Boring! Go quickly, move along.

Not every weekend is as open as the last one, but hopefully you can accept some last minute invitation for FUN.  Projects can wait for another day. Be spontaneous!

The journey continues.

C

New Orleans Scenes

A bit delayed, but here are a few shots of the characters and character of New Orleans.

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Great people watching–anything goes! 
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Louisiana Loom Works has a myriad of cats, working looms, and amazing pieces.  Worth a visit!
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Daytime street view of never-ending live music. 

IMGP4859Next trip I should have better plan of what to focus on.  We were so busy with varied days this visit it was hard to have a single shooting goal….other than the pre-wedding pics from last post.

The journey continues.

C

Pre-Wedding Shots

IMGP5031IMGP4971The day before the wedding we attended last weekend in New Orleans, I got a call asking if I wanted to shoot pictures of the girls in the bridal party getting ready for their Big Event.

Gulp–that’s a lot of pressure.  But always up for a photo adventure, my daughter Tara and I had an impromptu photo shoot while Devon (my other daughter) and the rest of the girls primped and prepped.

What fun we had!  Tara also has a very artistic eye, so we took turns acting as assistant, shooting the girls and still lifes of the flowers, the dresses, the house.  We tested lighting and aperture settings, and I explained some of the technical adjustments you can make with the DSLR.

What fun we had! So, take on that new challenge presented to you.  You never know what you might learn, and hopefully the experience will exceed your expectations.

I will send Alexie and Will–the new couple–the photos this week.  But, here is a sneak peek of a few that I think came out well.  Enjoy.

C

Note: all photos copyrighted by me, Cindy Kennedy.

Tuesday, Bluesday

IMGP4519Over the last couple months, I realized that Tuesday is the hardest day of the week for me to focus.

I used to think it was Monday that I dreaded. I muddled through Sunday night: I double-checked the upcoming family and work schedule, sorted through weekend emails, planned the week. But by Monday morning, I found I am often invigorated to start the work week. It’s usually filled with calls, meetings, travel, a few social gatherings.

Then Tuesday hits. Blah. I finally realized there was a negative Tuesday power in my routine. The work week isn’t half over, my energy is sapped. And why, why are there are more Tuesday problems than ANY other day in the week? That is my drag day, filling spare moments in the kitchen, longing to flatline that stress.

I decided–let’s change it! To conquer my Bluesday, I am going to try to change up how I approach that day. I am going to schedule time to work with a friend or at the library, meet someone for lunch, specifically work on a fun, new project, set aside time to write or take pictures, vary my exercise routine. Today’s visit to the dentist does not count.

Hopefully this positive attitude will spike the Tuesday mood, flow into Wednesday and the rest of the week. I think the key to successfully working solo most of the time is figuring the triggers to anti-productive, negative attitudes and behavior. Then change it.

What tricks do you have to break up the week?

The journey continues.

C

5 Reasons Why I Should Never Read a Mystery Novel

When I visit my local ELA Library, I usually do a quick pass through the New Mystery section. If the latest Alex Delaware (by Jonathan Kellerman) or Kinsey Milhone (by Sue Grafton) novel is available….YES. Mine, grabbing it like a child and holding it close.

I then put aside whatever I am reading and delve into those books.

Most genres I can set aside at the appropriate times. But, when I get engrossed in a mystery, forget it. The details, the short section breaks, the quickening pace, keep the pages turning long after they should.

Here are a few of the reasons why I should not even start a mystery, unless I have a day to focus on it:

  1. Dinner -what dinner? Are you really hungry tonight?
  2. These woeful eyes staring when their walks are delayed.IMG_4713
  3. Pages might get warped near the shower.
  4. At 11 pm I will resolve to read “one more chapter”; suddenly it is 2 am. And I have to be up in 4 hours for work!
  5. Can’t read it when at the gym. So postpone the workouts, right?

The same often happens with the latest Stephen King or a few other authors, but it always happens with a tight mystery.

The journey continues.

C

Note: feel free to substitute “binge watch the latest HOT series”, “start a puzzle”, “search online for cheap airfares” in the title, depending on your tastes.

My Book Club Basics, 1 of 3

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Display from the Printer’s Row Book Fair, Chicago

To answer the most frequently asked question first—Yes, we discuss the books in our monthly meetings! We do not just drink wine.

I am honored to have been part of our book club since its inception in 2003! Our first book was A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, shortly before it was debunked as a fraudulent biography. Ironically, there was a lot of discussion at our initial meeting about which parts of that book seemed fake (and later, how easy it should have been for Oprah’s team to research the story before catapulting it to stardom).

In 14 years, we have welcomed new friends to our group, had our dear friend Janaki move, seen births, deaths, kids grow through school and beyond, job changes, and illnesses. I personally have enjoyed books and genres I never would have chosen and found some authors I now covet—Lianne Moriarity, Fredrik Backman, Kristin Hannah.  In our discussions and debates, I still learn about my friends’ histories, dreams, passions, losses.

My friend Theresa, who launched our book club, says that she is very proud of our club’s longevity as a no judgment book club. If you only read the back page but want to listen to the discussion….come on in. Only read one book a year and come only twice a year…we will be happy to see you. Listen on Audible at double-time speed…more credit to you.

People often ask me for reading suggestions. This can be a baited question, since there are so many types of books. Do you like novels, chick lit, romance, biographies, non-fiction, science fiction, history? If for a book club, will you read recently released books? Or only ones that are available at the local library?

For several book ideas now, here is the list of books that our book club read in 2016, and the start of 2017, in the order that we read them:

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello
Whiskey & Charlie by Annabel Smith
The Wedding Pearl by Carolyn Brown
Before the Fall by Noah Hawle
My Grandmother Forgot to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans
11/22/63 by Stephen King

My personal favorites from this list were My Grandmother Forgot to Tell You She’s Sorry, A Man Called Ove,11/22/63, and Whiskey & Charlie. 

If you want to start a book club, it just takes a little time and a few friends. There are many options to best set up and run your club, choose your books,etc.  My next post will address these topics.

Why I Marched and What Comes Next For Me

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Panoramic shot of my view of the Chicago Woman’s March, 2017.

I wrote most of this post before the world went crazy with people sniping and commenting for and against the Woman’s March last weekend. To me, this event was democracy at its finest.  Aren’t we lucky to live in a country where we we can stand up for our beliefs, try to affect change?

If you chose not to join, that is absolutely your right. If you participated, I hope it encourages you to engage. Instead of women (and men) ripping on each other for their choices about the rallies over social media, and the negativity that has spread, try to TALK to people who might think differently than you: learn WHY we joined, we watched, we marched, why we spoke. Don’t let the outcome of this worldwide event divide us further.

I choose HOPE as the new administration starts office. I also choose awareness, involvement, and vigilance. And don’t be daft enough to ask if I voted—of course I did.

MY experience
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I joined an overwhelming estimated 250,000 women and men this past weekend during the Woman’s March in Chicago. My first protest rally ever! The thought that people were marching around the country and world only lifted my spirits more.  The aerial shots are amazing.

It was a gorgeous, sunny January Chicago day. I was buoyed by those around us—every age, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, physical ability represented. The mood was so empowering, curious, bold, and positive, volunteers and vendors welcoming, the police calming and strong, drivers engaged as we marched through the city after the rally.

Amazingly, we ended up 10 feet from the main stage during the rally. We listened to a wide range of speakers talk passionately about their life experiences. And many who work on the front lines daily with organizations involving women, immigration, Native Americans, LGTBQ, Chicago Teacher’s Union, Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, and many more spoke. A complete list can be found here.

(note: leads from Hamilton spoke, then led the crowd in singing “Let it Be”)

The organizers tried to cancel the march, since the route was overflowing with participants (5 times the expectations!). But the masses ruled that day, filling the streets with pink hats, engaging signs, strollers, wheelchairs, joy, purpose, calm. The shouts of “this is how democracy works” filled the air, as the streets of the Loop became one. From what I heard, there were zero participant arrests among 250,000 in Chicago.

Why I participated
People have asked me, why did I choose to be part of this event? I joined for myself, for my daughters, and family, for my friends, for those on the bubble of so many women’s and human rights issues in our town and country. Not agreeing with the misogynistic words and previous actions of our new President,  I wanted be part of an event that lets this new administration that we will be watching what they do with women’s rights, with immigration, with health insurance. It far surpassed my expectations.

So what now?
As one speaker said, “if do you do nothing after today, then this just becomes a giant pep rally.”

I think we need to personally choose the area(s)  we want to help galvanize, by involvement and/or supporting financially. There were many number of issues discussed at the event; it would be impossible to be involved in all of them.

We need to watch the changes this administration implements, to not move women’s rights backwards. I will take some time to select which group(s) to become more personally involved with.

For work, I will continue to speak and write about promoting women working in technology, since we are woefully under represented.

And if you chose not to participate, or do not understand our fears and anger, that it okay too. We are fortunate to live in a country where we can have a variety of ideals. .

And why did I share my personal story?  So I remember.  And am counted in one of the largest single day demonstrations in the world.  Time to march forward.

C