Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Practical New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year! My least favorite time of the year. Why? Because you're crowding the gym with your New Year's resolution! Getting physical and financially are among the most popular resolutions. But let's face it, you're going to fail by day one. That's because on January 1, you're nursing a hang-over, watching a bowl game with friends,  too full to work out or a combo of all three.

Stop the madness! Do what I do. Resolve to make practical New Year's resolutions you can keep. Here's my top three (that I still do every couple days/once a week).

  1. Pluck your eyebrows. No one likes to see a busy eyebrow, so resolve to get it waxed once, then maintain it every few days. (For guys, pluck your nose hairs. Trust me, we notice!)
  2. Wear a skirt. This one helps with wearing those skirts and dresses you bought and swore you would wear but never do. It also rotates your wardrobe and keeps your clothes looking new and fresh longer. (Guys, choose the shirts on the right side of your closet, your wives will thank you!)
  3. Cook once a week. And if you want to go out on a limb, be sure to make something new every week. That way, you're using that All-Clad pan you had to have, you're saving money and it's healthier for you because you made it.
The following resolutions I've had in place for at least the past five years. So what's my New Year's resolution in 2014? 

To blog once a week and get serious in my personal life. 

Stay tuned!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Touch, the Feel, the Smell of Books

I admit it: I regularly read the last page. It doesn't matter the typeface or genera, I must know what happens at the end before I finish reading through an entire book. Once I know what happens, I then go back and read the middle. And when words are made up or difficult to pronounce, I skip them altogether. 

That's just one of many reasons I love books. 

Old-fashioned ones. Soft- and hard-covered. The kind you can pick up and take with you. Display on your bookshelf books. Ones that don't require Internet or wifi to access. Books you can crack open, crease and flip through. Books with pages that can be dog-eared, ripped and turned over. Books that have binding, a certain smell, a unique personality and sometimes even a unique jacket cover that's tied to its publishing date. 

Old-fashioned books have owners. They've been given as gifts and thus bear a "to whom," "from whom," quotes and dates. There's even scribbles, doodles and notes on certain pages of them. They have histories and stories themselves: where they were bought, how they were found and why they were chosen.

Books can transport you to new places, but you can also take old-fashioned books to destinations: long walks,  the bathtub, even the beach. You can get them wet. Dirty. You can even spill ice cream on them. And while the pages may water spot or stick together from the liquid or food,  there's no risk of a power shortage or an electrical shock.

Books don't just sit pretty on the bookshelf or spark conversations, they have functional and design uses too. They can be used to press, prop or straighten  things. 

While I have a love for old-fashioned books, I don't have a need to collect them. Yes, I have many of the original 56 Nancy Drew hardcover books, but I prefer to borrow books from the library and my friends.

I even borrow the occasional eBook and book on CD and listen as someone reads me the story while driving from here to there. 

But with digital books, it's hard to flip to the end to find out what happens. It's more of a point and scroll. And forget about fast-forwarding the CD to the "last page." Also, I don't seem to retain the information or get nearly the same satisfaction as I do when I settle in with a good, old-fashioned book.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bucket List: Zip Lining in Minnesota's Treetops

Apparently, 2013 is the year I'm checking items off my bucket list. This weekend, I traveled to Minnesota for a weekend adventure with my good friend, Marlyn. We ventured to Kerfoot Canopy Tours, the zip line tour had just been open a month. Located just outside the Twin Cities, the zip line canopy tour features not one, but nine zip lines including some that are 150 feet above the ground! The sky guides--Jeff and Dan in particular--were great. Plus, you can rent a action video camera and mount it to your helmet! Check it out!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Unique View of the U.S. Senior Open

The Omaha Country Club recently drew in more than 157,000 through its iron gates for the U.S. Senior Open. For many, the love of the game or the opportunity to see Funk, Couples, Watson or Allen tee off, make par or shoot a birdie was what drew them to the event. But for me, it was the chance to see an entirely new view of an area I'm very familiar with.

That's because I grew up across from the Omaha Country Club. In fact, the house where I was born and raised and where my parents still reside, faces the first hole. I learned that on Saturday, the first time I've ever stepped foot on the course. Sure, professionally, I've been to lunch, attended meetings and took a tennis lesson or two at the club, but I've never been invited to golf there. Much less walk on the greens. 

As a kid, I scouted every inch of our neighborhood with my siblings. When you grow up with horses, a fearless, older brother and lack of a cell phone, it's no big deal to pack a lunch and ride your horse all day miles from where you live. 

Thinking back to those days when I was like 10 or 12, as we made our way up Country Club to 72nd Street, sure, you'd pass by golfers and the young caddies waiting for a ride home. But we never talked to those guys and gals, much less stepped inside the grounds. I do remember a couple of times after a big snow, climbing across the wooden fence to go sledding down the fairway. It was only after consulting the hand-dandy map they give you when you enter the grounds, it's the ninth fairway we always sled down. And had I know then what I know now, we should have traveled the distance to the back nine, where the steeper hills are located. 

While walking the course twice on Saturday, I noticed all kinds of things. Like fairway two is the entire length of Fairway Drive. In grade and middle school, I'd run up and down Fairway to get to my piano lessons at Mrs. Hart's house, who lived at the top of the street. Or that fairways three and five sit just behind Country Club Oaks where we used to trick or treat. And there's a new house being built that faces State Street.

It was fun to see old neighbors, reminisce about our days growing up and soak in the atmosphere during the U.S. Senior Open. More importantly, with my VIP passes and special parking pass, it was fun to be able to literally park across the street and walk to and from the event. 

To date, I've only golfed twice and both times happened to be the coldest days of spring with a howling wind. So needless to say, golf is not a game I'm good at. But being the pros and the fans, it was awesome to see real golf in action. I have a new respect for the game, the skill and the luck involved. And while I've always been proud to grow up across the street from the Omaha Country Club, now I have an even greater appreciation to be where I'm from.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Flight Delays Lead To An African Proper Walk

Work occasionally takes me to places other than the office. My travels include Philly; Nashville, Tennessee; New York; and Richmond, Virginia. I enjoy these short excursions as a way to get out of the office and talk to our customers and prospects about what concerns them in finding new customers.

While the places are fun to go to and clients and vendors interesting to hang out with and get to know, it's really the people in the airport who I find the most fascinating. Most recently, I came across Michael Farley at the Richmond National Airport during a flight delay. And while I only spoke to him for 15 minutes, he inspired me to think about a future bucket list endeavor: the Proper Walk. A 10-day, 150 mile trek across Africa.

Farley, who grew up in Iowa and still frequently visits his mom in Dubuque, came up with idea and has spearheaded the Proper Walks. The money raised goes towards the Makindu Children's Program. You can read on Farley's story and the effort by going here.

I've run a marathon and several halfs. I've also raised money for lots of walks. It's tough, especially when you're doing both. Naturally I asked him what it's like to walk 150 miles in 10 days? "It was hard. The terrain was steep at times and flat in others," he said. But Farley went on to say people who embark on this journey are never the same when they return. And I believe him. 

If you're interested in the proper walk, it will set you back $10,000. But Farley says they assist those who are fundraising with speaking engagements, the very reason for his particular travel day. 

Mt. Kilimanjaro is on my list of must dos before I die. So what's the harm in a 10-day walk across Africa to boot? Camels accompany you and there's beverages too. After all, it's for the kids! 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Winter Park Ski Trip

Dean "10" 2013
Growing up, my parents were advocates we learned how to ski. My parents would reminisce about taking ski trips with their friends when they were newly married. In fact, in the 1960's my mom and dad would go to Vail and pay $5 for lift tickets. Now they're more than 20 times that!

The first time we went skiing was in 1984. Being the youngest, that meant I learned how to ski when I was seven years old and held onto my dad's ski pole as he meandered down the mountain. 

Over the years I've gone several times with family and friends, the last time in 2003. Winning the bid of a two-night, three-day stay at a cabin in Colorado proved to be the catalyst of the 2013 ski trip dream. While there's a lot of changes in the past decade, when it comes to skiing, much has stayed the same. 

King Soopers is still the best place to get discount lift tickets. The grocery store is located at exit 264 off highway 70 west heading for the mountains. I've looked online, called ski rentals and even asked the locals where the best deals are on lift tickets. But I've found it's still the best deal in town at $89/day for adults, $51 for kids.

While skis have gotten shorter, ski boots haven't changed one bit. They're still hard to walk in, super uncomfortable and not cute at all! 

Helmets are in. On the slopes, what you're wearing is as important as how you ski. That's especially true with what's on your head. In the past, crazy stocking hats have been a must, but now everyone wears a helmet it's not only fashion-forward, but protects your noggin too. 

We skied at Winter Park and stayed at Snow Mountain Lodge. The cabins are part of YMCA of the Rockies and the complex is 15 miles from the ski resort. The cabins are nice and spacious and there's plenty of family fun including roller skating, an indoor pool and more. You can also rent a gas grill for $15 a night. What a deal!

I love the rush of flying down the mountain and more importantly, hanging with my parents, siblings and my nieces and nephews. I'm glad my parents took the time, effort and money to teach us how to ski when we were kids.  It's a lifelong sport but more importantly, the slopes are where memories are made.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Watch Out for the Subtle Cuddle

Gus in a Subtle Cuddle.
When I was younger I naively thought men and women could be friends. So I thought nothing of it when a guy friend of mine invited me over to his house for dinner. My birthday was in a couple days, I knew he liked to grill out and I thought others would be there, so I accepted. No big deal, right?

When I got there, I was invited to a glass of wine, hors d'oeuvres, music and candles. No one else was there. I can't remember, but I'm sure I asked where everyone else was with a vague response. A little strange, I thought. But again, I reasoned, it's my birthday dinner, right? And people are busy, a little flaky, whatever. So we sat down to dinner, which was great and chit-chatted. It was nice. Normal. Then it got down right weird.

He invited me to watch TV in the basement and since he has a nicer TV than I do, I reasoned, why not? So I accepted. We sat down and because its like 10 degrees cooler in the basement, he handed me a blanket. I readily accepted and snuggled in. Then, he snuggled in right next to me. To be clear. I am a cuddler at heart and can snuggle with the best of them, but not with my friends. So I politely, but firmly said, "Thanks for dinner. But what are you doing? I don't snuggle with my friends."

Obviously he felt weird and so did I, so I left soon after. And our relationship has been off ever sense. Sometimes, he's down-right rude. Whatever. The point is, whether you're a girl or a guy, this can happen to you. To avoid a similar awkward exchange, watch out for the following warning signs of the subtle cuddle:

1)    Only you are invited to dinner.
2)    The mood is set to romantic when you get to his/her house.
3)    He/she invites you to watch TV in the coldest room in his/her house.
4)    Once he/she snuggles up and you freak out, he/she gets a wounded look in their eyes.

Have you ever been a victim of the subtle cuddler? What did you do. I'd like to know