December 29, 2010

A year in review

 Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
~ Semisonic, Closing Time

Well, here we are again – saying goodbye to yet another year and gearing up for what I hope will be a great one for all of us.

This year has been extra busy for me as I spent the past 12 months serving as the 69th president of the Denver Jaycees. I realized going in that it would be a lot of work and there were definitely some unforeseen challenges that popped up along the way. However, overall the chapter had a great year and I learned a lot from the experience—both about myself and leadership. I also met a number of new friends as a result, locally and throughout the U.S., and I am grateful for these new friendships.

Beyond the Jaycees, work and other endeavors kept me quite busy as well, including a fair amount of traveling. Although I wasn’t able to take a “big trip” this year, I did spend ample time away from Denver. The year’s travels began with a trip to Tulsa for the U.S. Jaycees Leadership Academy and from there my voyages took me to an array of locations: Saratoga, Wyo.; Kansas City; Truth or Consequences, N.M.; New Orleans; Cimarron, N.M.; Minneapolis; Steamboat Springs, Colo.; Las Vegas; Durango, Colo.; Chicago; and, a few trips home to South Dakota for weddings, birthdays and the Christmas holiday. I also had a number of friends and family members visit me in Denver in 2010.

This year also brought with it a number of big celebrations, including my own and many of my friends’ 30th birthdays.  I spent the big 3-0 in Las Vegas with a group of great friends who ensured a memorable experience. Upon my return to Denver, I decided to usher in the next decade of my life with a few “upgrades” and hired a financial planner, took a class on mindfulness and had a few sessions with a personal trainer. In my mind, 30 is the definitive end to the adult trial period that is the 20s. That is not to say I don’t expect to make any more mistakes in my life or act completely responsible all of the time, but I do hope I have learned my lessons from my 20s and can move on to the next stage of my life.

My job as a communications specialist at Tri-State G&T continues to be both challenging and rewarding, which I find to be the perfect mix. There were a few changes this year, including the departure of a coworker and dear friend. However, our department has gained two new members, both of whom are great additions. I was also promoted in July and celebrated my three-year anniversary in August, which marked the longest period I have been at a job (post college).

Other personal milestones for the year include: completing my first half-marathon in October; renewing my lease at my loft, which marks the first time in more than 10 years that I have lived somewhere longer than 12 months; and, obtaining my Master Cooperative Communicator Certificate from the Cooperative Communicators Association.

Unfortunately, not all that occurred in 2010 was good as my family has endured quite a bit this year in the way of health. In February, my maternal grandmother moved into an assisted living facility. She had been living alone since my grandfather passed away in 2000, but within the past year her health made that option no longer viable. She had been adjusting well at her new home until November, when she fell and broke her arm. After undergoing surgery, she was moved to a nursing home where she will reside for a few more weeks until she gains better use of her hand. My paternal grandparents also had health issues this year as my grandmother and grandfather experienced illnesses that caused them both to have surgeries – in September and December, respectively. Both are recovering well, but definitely had a tough year.

Due to everything going on, our family Christmas celebration was altered quite a bit this year. Typically, we spend Christmas Eve with my dad’s parents and then shuttle back and forth between their house, my parent’s house and my maternal grandmother’s house on Christmas Day. However, this year due to the circumstances, Christmas Eve was spent with at the hospital with my grandparents and the majority of Christmas day took place at my parent’s house. Despite the reason for the change, I think my family was actually kind of relieved to have the opportunity to relax and enjoy each other’s company without running from house to house. In fact, my mom mentioned that this was the first time since she and my dad were married more than 30 years ago that we had been able to have Christmas dinner at home.

Looking forward to 2011, I’m excited for all the possibilities and adventures it brings. First up on the docket is the Ships ‘n’ Dips cruise in February, during which I and my fellow cruise mates will be aboard a ship with the likes of Guster and the Bare Naked Ladies. I can’t wait! I hope your new year is filled with happiness and I look forward to our paths crossing soon. Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

P.S. I "stole" this post from my New Year's card/letter.

Riley, Lilyana and Alexis with their gingerbread creation

October 26, 2010

just do it!

Although it's been more than a week ago, I'm happy to announce (late) that I completed my first half-marathon! It was definitely a challenge, but very rewarding as well. My ultimate goal was to finish, with no expectations of time, and I did just that.

Honestly, I had a really great time. Both the weather and the course were ideal, with just the right amount of hills and flats, and I found myself enjoying the experience. The aftermath was not too bad either; quads were pretty sore for a few days, but I didn't experience any joint pain or soreness, including my knees (which is a small miracle).

I plan to participate in the Mickelson Trail Half-Marathon in June and perhaps another race in the fall. One thing I did realize from my experience is that I may never complete a full marathon. After witnessing a coworker's pain and discomfort associated with running 26.2 miles, not to mention the time required for the training, I may just call it good with 13.1 miles.

Tonight is the first of four sessions for Mindfulness 101. I'm really looking forward to the course and hope to gain some valuable information related to subject. This weekend brings a trip to Laramie and time spent traipsing around my alma mater, including a Pokes football game on Saturday. I'm looking forward to taking a stroll down memory lane, as well as making new ones with my friend and current grad student, Lacey. Plenty of photos to follow. 

October 8, 2010

the big 3-0

From Las Vegas to Denver, celebrating my 30th was a great time. Thanks to all my friends for making it an experience to remember. Love you all. :-)

I'm 30. Yep, it happened whether I was willing or not. And, turns out there is not much of a difference between 29 and 30, except for the fact that I am taking some steps to be a bit more responsible. 

This week included an inaugural meeting with a financial counselor, as well as a session with a personal trainer. I also signed up for four-week class focusing on mindfulness, which begins in November (super excited for this!) and recommitted to running the half-marathon. I had signed up for the event months ago, but then lost my motivation to train for it and pretty much gave up on it. However, thanks to a dear friend, I've decided to give it my best shot, with a goal of finishing before the streets are reopened. 

Next week takes me to Durango, Colo.,  for a work trip and then the race, to finish off the weekend. I'm looking forward to visiting what I've been told is an amazing little town.  As always, I'm grateful to have a job that allows me to explore and travel our service territory and hope to take full advantage of my time there. So, until next time,

September 17, 2010

30 is the new 20 (otherwise known as crap we tell ourselves to feel better about our age)

I received an e-mail yesterday from Whole Foods, which was not unexpected as I am on their mailing list and similar e-mails arrive in my in box on a weekly basis. There was nothing strange or distinctive regarding this particular installment, save the subject line: Guess Who's Turning 30?

Now, a logical person would have probably read the subject line and then proceeded by taking one of two actions -- 1) open the e-mail if they had any interest in reading on, or 2) delete the e-mail. Yes, a reasonable person would have chosen one of the previous options. However, let's add into the mix that the person receiving the e-mail (me) is just more than a week shy of turning 30 AND is not the least bit excited nor happy to be crossing this threshold of a decade in her life.

Okay, back to yesterday and the e-mail as I'm sure the suspense is eating at you by now. Upon reading the subject line, I promptly marched over to my boss' office and exclaimed that somehow, someway, Whole Foods has discovered that I am turning 30. I believe it went a little something like this: "How! Does! Everyone! Know! I! Am! Turing! 30!?"

After calming me down (aka, telling me I'm crazy, or something to that effect), he told me that I probably, at some point, had filled out a survey or signed up for an offer that required me to submit my date of birth. After hearing this news, I made my way back to my cube, sulking along the way. Upon returning to my computer, I chose option number one and opened the e-mail and, wouldn't you know it, Whole Foods is celebrating their 30th anniversary this month. Oops.

At this point you're probably asking yourself why, even if it had been true that Whole Foods had "discovered" my age, would it be such a big deal. It really wouldn't have, except for that fact that I really, really, really do not want to turn 30. Although my 20s were definitely not met without adversity and a few major trials and tribulations, I really posses no desire to bid them adieu. I like my 20s. I want to stay here. I want to live in the decade where learning and making mistakes are built into the equation, where responsibility is something that can be postponed, or at the very least, put on layaway.

And, I love my friends, but if one more of them tells me that "30 is the new 20" or that their "30s have been the best years of their life," I will scream. Seriously. (You know who you are).

Yes, I understand the basis of my hatred toward the big 3-0 is unfounded. Am I being over dramatic and a bit ridiculous? Maybe (okay, probably). But, it makes my feelings no less real. Obviously, this is something that is going to happen -- I am going to turn 30 next week. It's inevitable. I just hope that I can come to terms with it sooner, rather than later.

In the hopes of not being written off as a whiny, unappreciative brat, I would like to say I am thankful for all that life has given me for the first 29 years and 51 weeks of my life. And, the good news is I'm frequently mistaken for a 24-27 year-old, which will downplay the turning 30 (hopefully).

I'm thinking I may need to embrace my inner Samantha Jones to make this whole process less intimidating. No, I'm not going to promptly turn to promiscuity to get me through the years, but I do think there's something to be said about a woman who doesn't let age hinder how she lives. Plus, I've always wanted to use her line: "I'm forty-fu**ing five, and I'm Fabulous." (I omitted the middle part just in case there are young eyes reading the page).

Regardless of how I do it, I am going to have to accept and deal with turning 30. It's going to happen. I'm just glad I'll be doing it in Las Vegas, which will most likely inhibit my ability to fully comprehend the change. Or, at least that's the goal. So, goodbye 20s, hello 30s. Ugh.

September 10, 2010

blogging, or lack thereof

The great thing about being a writer is that blogging is a relatively simple task. First of all, blogging involves an activity I complete nearly on a daily basis, so to say I'm used to it would be an understatement. Second, there's not a lot of pressure to produce a well-written piece -- no agents or editors to answer to -- when you're the one posting it. A blog is pretty much a free-for-all when it comes to content, grammar and style.

So, you'd think as a writer I could be a bit more consistent with my postings; maybe even keep my promise to write once a week. But, that's the ironic thing about being a full-time writer who also does a lot of writing for extracurricular activities -- by the time I get around to wanting or being able to produce a blog post, the last thing I want to do is write. When I actually get into it, I love writing. It's just daunting task of doing it that usually discourages me to the point I skip it for the week, promising I'll post extra the following week (which, if you're a regular follower, doesn't happen all that often.).

The other discouraging component of producing a blog (in my opinion) is the content creation. I want to write something people will read, even if it is just a few friends and family members. And, not only do I want them to read it, ideally, I would like them to get something out of it. Easier said than done.

I realize this pressure is self-inflicted and have even been told my some of my devoted readers that no matter what I write, they enjoy it. However, I find this hard to believe as I've posted some pretty drab material here. None the less, it's Friday afternoon, a time when my brain is on the verge of shutting off and entering weekend mode, and I'm attempting a blog post. I'm not making any promises as far as the creativity or stimulation though.

And, so it begins. Or rather, we're in the middle already, so I guess I should say it continues. Regardless, I spent last weekend and part of the prior week visiting family and friends in SoDak. It was honestly one of the best times I've spent there in a very long time. I chose last weekend because it was a time when I had nothing to return for (with the exception of my mom's birthday), so could actually visit and enjoy myself without having to worry about making it to this or that.

Turns out, my plan worked out perfectly. I was able to relax, have fun with my nieces and nephew and visit with my grandparents and parents. It was nice. Maybe I'll start skipping Christmas trips and just go back in the summer . . .

The week following vacation is typically a tough one, but it helps when it only last four days and one of them is spent high-rolling it in a suite at the Rockies game. Yes, yesterday my department had a team building day, during which we ate, drank and cheered our home team to a well-deserved victory. I may complain periodically about my job, but, in all honesty, I am pretty lucky. I truly like what I do (even when it doesn't involve a cushy suite) and who I work with and realize that isn't something that can be said by all.

This weekend will be spent catching up with friends I've neglected over the past few months, due in small part to my traveling, but also because I've turned out opportunities to see them in lieu of a bit of me time. Overall, I'm just going to spend time enjoying the last few weeks of life in my 20s. That's right -- 14.5 days and counting. *gulp*

August 26, 2010


Thankfully, this week has brought with it some much needed downtime, of which I have taken full advantage. Sunday, I FINALLY made it to see Inception -- I give it four stars -- and Monday I enjoyed my first free evening in many weeks.

Tuesday was a fantastic day, spent traveling to Pueblo West, where I savored a delicious sushi lunch with one of my favorite co-op people. On the return trip, I stopped by the outlets in Castle Rock and discovered some great "deals," including a replacement for my favorite pair of running capris, which have definitely seen their better days. As one who enjoys driving, I found myself appreciative of the time spend behind the wheel -- new scenery, minimal traffic, time to think. Although I spend adequate windshield team every day, traveling to and from work and various events, the experience is the same, day-in and day-out. Tuesday's trip provided relief from the mundane and for that, I am grateful. 

Last night was another theater evening, this time spent viewing Eat, Pray, Love. I am a big fan of the book from which the movie was adapted, so was excited to see the big-screen version of the story. And, as was the case with most movies I see after reading the book, it paled in comparison to its source. However, in this case, I still enjoyed the rendition, even if I did spend a large portion of the time criticizing the adaptation.

After the movie ended, I found myself wishing I could follow in the steps of author, Elizabeth Gilbert, -- taking a one-year hiatus from my everyday life to explore myself and the world. I'm certain I'm not the only person to feel this way, whether this follows a viewing of this movie or reading the book, but it doesn't alleviate my desire to pick up and spend a year traveling.

As the concept continued to brood, I recognized that while I may not have spent a year jet setting around foreign countries, my AmeriCorps experience provided a similar result. I packed up all of my belongings and drove across the country to a place I had only visited once, for a few days, to work for free (okay, technically we received $800/month, but that's hardly a sustainable wage).

Although I did volunteer for the year, my reasons for taking the journey were not sole altruistic. I made the decision shortly after the end of a seven-year relationship, to get away, to attempt to discover the self I had lost during those years and for some much-needed time to heal from the ending of the long and craggy relationship. And, while the scenery may have been vastly different -- Italy, India and Bali vs Delaware -- and the experience not entirely what I had hoped for, I am grateful for the opportunity, all the same. And, as I walked away from the theater last night, I found myself smiling, feeling truly indebted.

I suppose the moral of the story is to not take for granted those experiences you are able to have, regardless of if they are or are not the "dream" adventure. And, to not hold your breath for an Eat-Pray-Love opportunity to come around and "save" you. Take time each day, no matter where you are -- physically or emotionally -- to save yourself, whatever this may mean to you.

My dear friend Brenna, without whom my Delaware experience would not have been the same (or bearable, honestly).

August 20, 2010


Perhaps it's because I have a burning desire (no pun intended) to to bring out my pumpkin- and apple-scented candles from their hibernation. Or, maybe green leaves are becoming boring and my eyes are seeking a bit of color in the foliage. Possibly, my subconscious is seeking a change. Whatever the reason, I'm ready to say goodbye and welcome fall. Summer, in all its glory, has begun to annoy me with its incessant high temperatures and my personal need to be going, going, going while the weather is desirable.

Truth be told, I'm pining for colder days, when I won't feel guilty for not taking advantage of the warm weather, and I can relax and just be for a while. I realize decreased temps shouldn't dictate when I can take a day to hole up in my apartment, dismissing all that is happening outside my doors. However, my personal logic would disagree.

It will be a few months until I can fully enjoy the new season, as my September calendar is chock full of activities. I'm reserving October, however, for plenty of R&R&R (rest, relaxation and reflection). It will be quite appropriate as it will be the first full month of my 30s (which I still haven't come to terms with yet) and many of our bigger Jaycees projects will be complete at that time. Needless to say, I am looking forward to October.

In the meantime, I continue to live my insanely busy life. This week involved an afternoon in Boulder with a dear friend; a painting class, through which I discovered a new-found love for acrylics; and enjoyed the musical talents of Weezer, Phoenix and Jack Johnson, among others, at the Miler High Music Festival.

The week also involved a goodbye celebration for a coworker, who I am extremely sad to see leave. She has been an inspiration, a mentor and a cherished friend, and I will miss her guidance and spirited nature. As I prepare to say my goodbyes to Karli, I am again reminded of how great of an impact others make on our lives and that we seldom realize this until they are gone. This quote, which I stole from Karli's goodbye e-mail, says it best: "We are all part of everyone we meet."

So, today, I challenge you to make time to tell a friend, family member or another know how much you appreciate them. Don't wait for the day they are packing up their reference books and Ristras, do it today, tomorrow and often.

August 12, 2010

mud & mountains

Last weekend was spent getting very, very muddy and then cleaning off in the mountains, via whitewater rafting. Although it was a busy weekend, I enjoyed the new adventures and spending time with friends whom I hadn't seen in a while, as well as new friends.
The business has continued into the week with Jaycees events and multiple concerts, with my apartment showing the effects -- clothes scattered everywhere, an unmade bed and other various piles of items throughout. I was able to spend a few minutes this morning tidying up -- thanks to my now short hair, which spares me about 15 minutes of a.m. prep -- but am still feeling unkempt. I suppose that is the price paid for a busy lifestyle.

The upcoming weekend will be more time spent away from home, enjoying live music at the Mile High Music Festival. I'm looking forward to seeing some of my favorite musicians, including Weezer, Phoenix, Keane, Cypress Hill and Jack Johnson.

Also happening this week is the initiation of my time tracking plan, which basically involves me documenting how I spend every hour during the week. The exercise stems from the book, "168 Hours" which was recommended as part of the e-course I recently completed. So far, time tracking has been an interesting experience and a bit of an eye opener (I spend WAY more time than I thought watching TV, which can probably be attributed to my newly discovered love of 30 Rock. How did I not know about this show?! Hilarious!).

At times I have been frustrated by the tediousness of writing down every activity, but it's already proven beneficial as far as completing weekly goals (which I've also started setting this week) and evaluating how I spend my time. I have already made changes based on the results and it's only day four. Although I'm not planning on making the time tracking a weekly occurrence, I do plan to complete it once a month. I highly recommend giving it a try, especially if you find yourself, at the end of day, wondering where all your time went.
For more mud & mountains photos, check out my Flickr page.

August 2, 2010

minor hiatus

At the beginning of the year, I vowed to post at least once per week. However, as with most plans, life got in the way. And, here we are, nearly three weeks and no posts (with the exception of one Wordless Wednesday).

Part of the blame can be attributed to the fact that I was at youth camp a few weeks ago and had very limited access to the internets for the duration. Beyond that, the Jaycees, the tranquilista e-course, other various projects and training for a half-marathon have swallowed the majority of my free time. I can't complain though as the work I've been doing for the e-course has been very enjoyable and enabled me to grow  -- introspectively and spiritually. I am sad to see it end and hope to continue with the practices I developed as part of the course, some of which may turn into a new business venture (more later on that).

As for the Jaycees, all I can say is that I've made it past the halfway point and am definitely counting down the months until my presidency is complete. I don't mean to be negative regarding the Jaycees, but I can honestly say I am burnt out. It's been a long, busy, stressful year thus far. I am grateful for the experience and all it has taught me, but am looking forward to handing over the reins in January.

Additionally, I've been continuing in my quest to morph into a good cook -- or, a cook, at the very least. My most recent delicious creation was dinner last night -- roasted butternut squash and onion. Yum! I've been toying with the idea of taking a cooking course, but my current schedule just doesn't allow for such. I had to choose between cooking and a photography class, and the latter won. Although, I do enjoy photography as well, and taking additional classes in the subject has been on my to-do list for at least a year, so it's definitely not a bad choice. And, the fact that work is picking up the tab doesn't hurt either.

After this week, with the completion of the e-course and wrapping up a few other projects, things should get back on track for the blog. Oh, and for those who are curious, the training is going okay. My knees have been bothering me quite a bit and Ibuprofen and ice are vying for the position of my new best friend.

Looking ahead, I am excited for a few adventures that will be occurring this weekend -- mud volleyball (where I will be a participant, as opposed to a spectator, as was the case the past three years) and whitewater rafting. I'm taking advantage of the summer months before fall creeps in and then winter is upon us because, as we all know, the snowy months will be here before we know it.

 I, along with other members of the Denver Jaycees and Cherry Creek Jaycees, participated in Relay for Life at Wash Park in July -- walking 10 miles throughout the night. Thanks to all who donated for the cause. And, above, my fellow co-op communicator, Becky, and me enjoying a swim in the Colorado River during a rafting trip at Youth Leadership Camp.

July 6, 2010

new cook in town

I would like to take this moment to provide a fair warning to Giada, Bobbie Flay, Cat Cora and the rest of the Food Network chefs -- there's a new cook in town and, if I do say so myself, she's good. Real good. Oh yeah, and it's me. That's right -- I can cook. Who knew?

As I type this blog entry, I am concurrently enjoying my latest concoction -- braised swiss chard with currants, pine nuts and goat cheese. Um, yeah, and it's delicious. In all seriousness, I believe I have found a new hobby.

It all started a few weeks ago when I began browsing recipes for ideas on how to prepare some of the produce I had received in my Door to Door Organics delivery. The first day, it was baked kale (yum) and, it has spiraled into me spending hours in the kitchen, concocting dishes and enjoying every bite. To be fair, I have relied on the assistance of recipes for most of my creations. But, I'm not only improving on cooking techniques, but also beginning to recognize which flavors work well together and have begun playing around a bit outside the recipe book (or internets, as the case may be).

It's a bit ironic that I used to watch cooking show after cooking when I had cable. And, only after I joined the HD-antenna/non-cable community (re: I only receive 8 channels, three of which are in Spanish and zero have anything to do with cooking) am I actually putting all I learned to practice. Best of all, because I'm taking the time to cook (and really, really enjoying it), I haven't been eating out nearly as often, which is saving me calories and cash. I've also making an effort to cook/eat whole foods and am finding myself relying less and less on processed items. Unfortunately, I still need the occasional Healthy Choice meal to get me through the day, but ultimately, those frozen "delights" are making fewer and fewer showings in my lunchbox.

Below are a few of my recent creations -- they may not look like much, but they sure were delicious.
Fresh tomato and mango salsa. Cucumber, tomato and greek yogurt salad. Braised swiss chard with currants, pine nuts and goat cheese. 

June 24, 2010


During my formative years, I was one of those unique individuals who actually enjoyed school. From the social aspects, to the classes, to the Trapper Keepers (side note: with the current revitalization of all that is the 80s, why has the Trapper Keeper not made an emergence? someone should make that happen.) and other supplies, school was somewhere I felt comfortable -- a place where I thrived. And, honestly, not much has changed from those days, which would explain my relentless pursuance of degrees and certifications and my constant reading of non-fiction. And, although I savor/savored the ancillary aspects of school and classes, ultimately it comes down to the fact that I just really enjoy learning.

However, the avenues of courses in which I routinely participate tend to involve some means to an end, whether it be the aforementioned certificates and degrees or the achieving of an objective goal (this may be apparent, but I also flourish on setting and meeting goals). While my intention is not to discount these, as I have learned a great deal and achieved much through the journey of the courses, I recently recognized that the classes and courses and books were not providing me with something I have been seeking -- inner spiritual growth.

As a resolution to my current situation, I enrolled in an e-course of a different sort -- one which does not involve a grade or a certificate of completion, but instead comes with a purpose of expanding creativity and the examination of self. The course does entail assignments, but this "omwork" has nothing to do with reading a textbook or completing a multiple-choice quiz, but instead requires such tasks as journal writing, creating a morning routine (beyond the snooze button, coffee and rushing out the door) and practicing yoga -- all done on a daily basis.

The course, which spans a six-week period, began today as I listened to the first podcast at lunch, diligently taking notes (not required). I felt immediately inspired as the instructor outlined the topics for the first week -- mindfulness, meditation, yogic breathing and the eight limbs of yoga -- and even more so when I took the time to begin my first omwork assignment. I anticipate this journey to be acutely personal, so therefore will spare you the intimate details on this blog as it progresses -- I will leave that to my journal. And, while it is impractical for me to take the next six weeks to focus solely on this class and me, I am going to put forth a considerable amount of effort and time to explore the tranquilista lifestyle. Cursory updates forthcoming.

Speaking of growth, my first delivery from door-to-door organics arrived today. Below is just a sampling of its contents. Yum!

June 18, 2010

abdicating all-or-nothing

I am internally conflicted. Yes, I realize that is an ultra-loaded statement. And, yes, it could be argued that most of the human population could probably make a similar assertion. However, for the purposes of this post, I will focus on issue that is currently providing the most contention -- to eat or not to eat (meat, that is).

Sparing the details, there are a number of reasons I choose/chose/will choose to forgo meat products as a part of my calorie intake. One of the principal catalysts being my health. Along those same lines, I also prefer to eat foods in their most natural state, or at least those that are non-chemically "enhanced," modified or manufactured.

Truthfully, the concern extends much farther than what will be on my dinner plate this evening. I struggle with not only what will nourish me on the inside, but also, the products I use on my outer self. For instance, using cosmetics sans parabens, cleaning with environmentally-friendly products, etc. For me, the omnivore-herbivore conflict goes hand-in-hand with this.

The natural school of thought is not a contemporary concept. Growing up in a house where my mother would take us to visit the "witch doctor," feed us Barleygreen, bake with whole wheat flour and order products from a food co-op, instilled in me is the basis of doing things the natural way.

One of my main enemies is the all-or-nothing thought process -- again, a concept of which many others can relate. Few aspects of human behavior are absolute. Yet, as a culture, how many times do we use the words "always" and "never?" I find myself relating this type of thinking to what I eat and the products I use. In the past, I have gone back and forth with buying natural products and those containing the undesirables, just as I have done with the choices of my food, only to "give up" because I was tired of the restrictions.

Enter Michale Pollan's rationalization: Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.

Personally, I think Pollan's is an ideal solution -- one which can be extended into other areas of life and one of which I'm going to subscribe. It eliminates the all-or-nothing mentality and advocates for a healthier attitude. Although I will still prefer vegetarian options, I am going to allow myself to enjoy a naturally-raised chicken breast once in a while. And, while the majority of my cosmetics may free of parabens and sulfates, it will take a firing squad to force me to renounce my favorite mascara, which doesn't fall under the previous category. With that being said, I am also going to ensure that the food I do ingest is of a higher quality, with the first step being my placing an order with Door to Door Organics.

I can't end this post without acknowledging my college roommate, Mary, whom I was able to visit this week during my stay in Minneapolis and who continues to inspire and educate me in the areas of health and the environment, and has been doing so since we met at McIntyre Hall in the fall of 2001. Thanks, Mary.

One of the most amazing women I know and a very dear friend -- me and Mary during my visit to Minneapolis this week. 

June 7, 2010

6,260 miles down . . .

It is not surprising that with all the traveling in which I have been engaged, there have been more than a few sacrifices, including my blog. And, although currently back in D-town, I am doing my best to prioritize my time between work, running (did I mention I'm training for a 1/2 marathon?), the Jaycees,  other personal commitments (softball, retaining my sanity) and the tasks of unpacking, doing laundry and repacking -- all of which aren't leaving much time for anything else. Therefore, this blog will be short and sweet.

The good news is my travels thus far have been excellent, including the most recent trip to New Orleans and my impending trip to Minneapolis will complete the May/June travel-palooza of 2010. I'm expecting the trip to the City of Lakes to follow suite of the previous trips, with the following planned -- a two-day pre-conference stay with my college roommate, a first-time attendance at the CCA Institute, where I'm sure to meet many great people; and, a Rockies v Twins game at the new Target Field. The journey continues -- 6,260 miles down, 1,830 to go.

Above, Bourbon Street with Tonya, Andrea and Jen; having a blast with Erin, Jen and Seth; and left, hanging out with Andrea, Amy, Mike and Jen at the U.S. Jaycees Ten Outstanding Young Americans awards ceremony.

June 2, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

This Wordless Wednesday post is brought to you by an amazing artist, whom I discovered during my weekend meanderings in downtown Denver. The above sketch is titled, "Dance Floor Kiss" and is by the very talented J.D. Hillberry. I loved the sketch so much that I purchased a copy for myself. However, for as much as "Dance Floor Kiss" tugs at my heartstrings, it is really one of the more simple pieces in Hillberry's collection. For a full understanding of just how gifted he is, please check out the artist's other sketches at his Web site:

May 27, 2010

summertime in the Mile High

I realize that summer doesn't officially begin until late June. However, I am one of many Americans who consider Memorial Day weekend the induction of summer season.

I bring this up because I was recently discussing summer plans with a softball teammate and he introduced an interesting concept that sparked a thought or two for me regarding summer in Denver. We were talking about a bachelor party that he had been invited to in Chicago, to which I replied that I love Chicago and he was lucky to be going there. He countered with although Chicago is a great city, he has a really difficult time leaving Denver in the summer months.

Now, as an all-season enthusiast, my immediate reaction was to argue that Denver and the surrounding area is an enjoyable destination, year-round (Hello? Some of the best skiing in the country). However, I held my tongue and let his words permeate my psyche for a moment.And, after letting the idea brew, I realized I completely agreed. Summertime in Denver, and Colorado, is hard to beat.

As I continued to process the idea, I developed the following list as to why I <3 summertime in Denver:
  • outdoor concerts -- Mile High Music Festival, UMS, Westword Music Showcase
  •  Red Rocks -- technically, an outdoor concert venue, but deserves a separate mention because it's so amazing. Also, due to its secondary application as a host for Film on the Rocks, which, on second thought, probably deserves its own mention.
  • Film on the Rocks
  • Rocky Mountains -- hiking, camping
  • climate -- arguably, one of the best in the U.S.during the summer months
  • outdoor patios -- rooftops and non
  • City Park Jazz
  • Rockies  -- although games extend well beyond the summer months, it's much more enjoyable to partake in the seventh-inning stretch activities if donning a down parka is not involved in the mix.
  • tube tops, sundresses, sandals
  • promenading along the 16th Street Mall (and Boulder's Pearl Street)
  • July 4
  • Wash Park picnics (and volleyball)
  • botanic garden
  • cruiser rides -- with a different theme each week
  • farmers' markets
  • grilling
  • Coors Field fireworks
  • electricity camp at Steamboat -- another non-Denver addition, but still within Colorado
  • white water rafting -- again, a Colorado destination
  • lounging by the pool
  • summer softball league -- for the same reasons as the Rockies game, the summer league kicks fall and spring leagues' asses
    So, I suppose the moral of the story is that Denverites should appreciate and take advantage of all the wonderfulness that is the Mile High City in the summertime. I'm sure many activities that merit mention are absent from my list, but, these are the off-the-top-of-my-head reasons I love Denver. Also, this paints a clear picture  as to why I don't have a free weekend until mid September.

    Have an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. And, amongst your picnics, camping and other activities, remember to take a moment to thank a veteran.

    Right and below, photos from the summer adventures of 2009 --  July 4 at Coors Field and singles night at the Denver Zoo.

    May 26, 2010

    Wordless Wednesday

    A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a blog of which the author posted a photo every Wednesday, dubbing the event "Wordless Wednesday." I thought the concept was a great idea and am therefore stealing it for my blog, with a little altering as I will be using words to provide a brief description of the photo. So, I suppose my Wordless Wednesday would be more appropriate as "Photo Wednesday," but it's just not as catchy. What can I say? I'm a sucker for alliterations.

    My first posting, below, was taken in Truth or Consequences, N.M., last week at the site of original Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The memorial traveled across the United States before making its permanent home in TorC in 2003.

    May 22, 2010

    new mexico, re-experienced

    Tri-State G&T, the company for which I work, is a wholesale electric supplier to 44 cooperatives in four states -- Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming. One component of my job requires traveling to various co-op lands in order to highlight their goings-on for Network, a quarterly magazine featuring the stories of said cooperatives. 

    Having traveled to a handful of those cooperatives in my near three-year tenure with TSGT, it is no secret at the office that my preference lies in visiting our non-New-Mexico members. As a graduate of the UWYO, I hold a special place in my heart for the state of Wyoming. And, Colorado just continues to amaze me with each new adventure. Honestly, Nebraska is not exactly on my top-ten-travel-destinations list, but, it had ranked above New Mexico -- had being the operative word.

    Today, as I pen this blog from the comfort of (my own) bed, I would venture to say that not only has the Land of Enchantment been rescued from do-not-visit status, it is now on the same plane, and in some cases has surpassed, my preferred travel destinations.

    Perhaps the proselytization can be attributed to the fact that I had spent seven out of the 10 days leading up to the trip at conferences, within the confines of hotels Or, maybe I just hadn't given the state a fair change. Whatever the case, the land and people of New Mexico provided a much-needed rejuvenation of my spirit. I found myself in complete awe a number of times and I am fairly positive my "tour guides" became annoyed at my constant request to pull over so I could capture yet another image on my camera. Beyond the aesthetics, the quaint town of Truth or Consequences (or, TorC, as the locals refer to it) and its people added to the experience by providing a level of generosity and hospitality that will be hard to meet. From the staff at the Sierra Grande Lodge to those at Sierra Electric Cooperative and Wilson Binkley, each of whom contributed to my re-experiencing the great state of New Mexico.

    One year ago tomorrow, I boarded a plane to Costa Rica for a trip that equated to a myriad of memories and unforgettable experiences. At the time, Costa Rica was just what I needed to restore balance in my life and, although not quite the grandiose adventure that was Costa Rica, this recent trip to New Mexico provided many of the same self-discovery and renewal attributes I experienced last year. And, for that, I am truly grateful.

    In tribute to my renewed spirit and new-found love for New Mexico, I have posted a few photos below, taken via my trusty point-and-shoot. Additional photos may be found on my Flickr site, and I will be adding more next week when I am able to download those from my "fancy camera." Below, top to bottom: a yet-to-be-identified cactus; Elephant Butte Lake; the quintessential adobe house; and the Sierra Grande Lodge. 

    hasta la próxima vez

    May 13, 2010

    home, sweet home

    I enjoy traveling, which is fortunate because I am able to do so often for work and for pleasure (or, on some occasions, both within the same trip). Flying or driving, whichever the case may be, to a location that is not home provides a chance for adventures, seeing new sights, gaining experiences and meeting new people.

    However, for as much as I like to travel, returning home takes the cake. Reentering our worlds after a journey provides a new appreciation to the attributes of our home, wherever that may be at the time. In my case, it's the first glance of the towering peaks that are the Rocky Mountains, the familiarity of the Denver skyline and, I will admit, a bit of the Western charm the city posses, that reintroduce a sense of belonging which had been absent during my travels. Driving and car singing also top the list.

    When I arrive at my apartment after traveling, it's that first smell after I cross the threshold and the returning to a place that is exactly as I left it -- static in its existence -- that I appreciate. Although, I wouldn't have minded if someone would have felt compelled to fold and hang laundry while I was away.

    Perhaps it's a sign that I'm happy in Denver, that it's a good fit. Or, maybe it's because I miss having access to my whole wardrobe. No matter the reason, I'm thankful for the opportunity to sleep in my own bed tonight, even if it is only for one night.

    Above, hanging out at Union Station in Kansas City this week with my friend, Becky. Below, watching the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Field. 

    May 6, 2010

    travelin' woman

    I spent last week in South Dakota visiting friends and family and attending my cousin, Kirsten's, wedding. Although I had intended to post a blog while away, even if it consisted of just a few photos, my attempts were futile. While technically being on vacation, as far as my work was concerned, the time spent at home proved to be just as busy as my days in Denver -- if not more so.

    It seems that every time travel to South Dakota occurs, I spend the duration of the trip stressing about finding time to visit with all those for whom with which I wish to spend time. There are friends from high school, my paternal grandparents and maternal grandmother, immediate family and also, the friends I met during my time working as a reporter in Sturgis after college. Inevitably, someone is always missed or I am forced to limit visit lengths or execute a tough choice between who I do or do not have time to see this time around.

    Luckily, my friends and family are seemingly understandable of my situation. Regardless, I always leave from South Dakota feeling a bit disappointed that I didn't have a chance to see or do all I desired and this most recent trip was no exception. This visit did, however, provide a few unexpected gatherings, such as chance meeting with a high school friend I had not seen in many years.

    Highlights of the trip also included a very enjoyable dinner with my friends Mike and Krista and their little one -- Ainsley -- whom, although more than a year old now, I had yet to meet; attending the bachelorette party (which included a limo ride through Spearfish Canyon), rehearsal dinner and wedding of my cousin; eating lunch with my niece, Alexis, at her school; and celebrating the 30th wedding anniversary of my parents. Of course, I always appreciate nearly every second I am able to spend with my nieces and nephew, who always seem to transform any problem I am dealing with seem trivial and trite.

    Next week is another filled with airplanes, taxis and hotel rooms as I travel to Kansas City to spend time with my fellow electric cooperative communicators at the CONNECT conference. Then, a day after I return from the mid-west, I will spend another two nights in a hotel for the Colorado Jaycees Leadership Conference, during which I will be presenting a workshop on writing effective press releases (I would be lying if I said I wasn't more than a bit freaked out about the presentation). Finally, the latter part of the following week will be spent basking in the southwestern sun of New Mexico -- literally, as I have booked a room with a veranda.

    Following the New Mexico trip, I will have the opportunity to enjoy a few nights in my own bed before boarding yet another plane, this time to New Orleans for the U.S. Jaycees National Conference. Then, four days at home and I'm off to Minneapolis for the Cooperative Communicators Association's annual conference. The aforementioned conference is uncharted waters as I have not attended it in previous years. And, as always, I have crafted ways to incorporate a bit of leisure time and activities into the majority of the upcoming trips -- two baseball games, spa treatments and visits with my college roommate and cousin. Basically, I have mastered the skill of turning business travel into work-cations.

    With the vast amount of trips on the horizon for me, my posts may be a bit sporadic for the next month. I do promise to post an update or two when I have the chance, even if  just a sentence or two and a photo.

    ~ à la prochaine fois ~

    My niece, Alexis (second from the left), with her friends on sock-hop day.

    With Ainsley Jane, who obviously did not want to be photographed with me.

    The wedding party, with my niece, Lily, as flower girl. Congrats Kirsten and John!

    To view additional photos, visit my flickr page, which is currently being updated, so please excuse the mess.

    April 23, 2010

    (somewhat) milestones

    Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of my residency at 1451 24th St., Apt. 483. Although, in the grand scheme of things, a year lived in one location is hardly cause for celebration. However, the event holds a bit more clout when taken into account that it has been nine years since I have achieved such a feat.

    Curiously, the 12 months at my current residence have felt like a lot shorter time than other places I have lived.Perhaps this is due to the fact that I have truly found a location that suites me. Or, maybe the last year has been such a whirlwind that the time has flown by. I would conjecture the reason is a mixture of the two.

    Apparently, I have also reached a milestone in my dentistry status. As a nearly 30-year-old individual, I am now officially an adult in the teeth world, according to my dentist. What does this mean? Well, evidently it equates to having to endure a long series of individual x-rays, which were far from comfortable. The good news is, as a daily flosser,  I am ahead of the game on that practice, as 30 is the age when my dentist suggests making it part of the daily routine. This bit of information was unbeknownst to me, as I have been flossing daily since my teen years. Imagine what I could have done with all that extra time if I had only flossed a few times a week in my twenties. However, a change in my habits may have prevented my "excellent hygiene" (my dentist's words, not mine).

    In other news, just when I thought I could put away the winter gear -- it's currently snowing in Denver. Actually, scratch that, we're in the midst of an indubitable spring blizzard. Good thing my Rockies tickets are for Sunday and not tonight's game. However, tomorrow morning's March for Babies event, for which I'm volunteering, should be pretty cold and miserable.  I really, really, really just want winter to be over.

    April 16, 2010

    commercial shoot

    Last night, I had my first night-shoot assignment to cover the production of my company's new commercial. The shoot involved capturing the behind-the-scenes action, as well as a few photos of the finished set and filming. I was a bit nervous as I'm really a neophyte when it comes to photography, especially the more elaborate tasks, such as shooting at dusk and dark. However, I was pretty happy with the results and learned quite a bit about the inner workings of producing a commercial. It's truly impressive to witness the extreme thought that goes into each minute detail and how many individuals are involved in one small, 30-second commercial.

    A portion of the commercial involves a shot of a cafe, located on a corner in a small, rural community. As is the case with most instances in films and commercial, we "faked" it, utilizing a restaurant in a Denver suburb. The one thing I do regret about last night's shoot was the fact that I didn't document better the transformation of the restaurant. With the exception of the actual building structure, the end-result really did not resemble the original restaurant -- it's amazing the difference a few signs, backdrops and props can make.

    The commercial will be airing beginning in May. But, for now, a few teaser shots from last night.

    The director setting up the camera while other members of the production crew work to transform the restaurant into a small-town cafe. Below, the end result -- a homey cafe in a rural American town (served by an electric co-op, obviously). The middle photo pictures the talent, who will be the spokesperson for the commercial.