Saturday, October 22, 2011


Just like it's nickname, The Windy City, my recent trip to Chicago was a whirlwind of an adventure.  I was only there overnight but I packed a hell of a lot into about 24 hours.  The reason for the trip was to see Piccadilly roster artist The VonOrthal Puppets.  The company was commissioned by Chicago's notorious Joffrey Ballet to create a life size puppet of Don Quixote's horse for their fall production.  The company worked all summer on the horse and it debuted along with amazing ballet dancers and the Chicago Symphony last week to terrific reviews.  VOP invited me out to see the performance and since I hadn't been to Chicago in nearly ten years, I jumped at the chance.

I have to first thank my colleague and friend Kristi who introduced me to AirBNB.  Don't know of this gem?  It's a great website to find hostels, room shares, room rents, etc. for pennies.  A typical Chicago hotel room is well over $100/night.  Even with, Hotwire, and TripAdvisor this fare stalker couldn't find anything to fit my budget, especially for one night.  Enter AirBNB and I found a lovely room along the West Loop in the Fulton River District - minutes from everything - for $75.

I had lunch with a colleague from the Chicago Humanities Festival at a fabulous pub, appropriately titled English.  From the outside, it almost looks like a whole in the wall that's been around since the 70s.  Inside, it's a swanky pub with yummy food.

I had a little time to wander around but it was a cold and rainy day so I didn't get to really take in Grant Park or Michigan Ave.  I also had lofty goals to see the Art Institute and slink around some vintage and antique stores on the west side but honestly, I was so damn cold that my mission was to find a sweater and then hole up in a coffee shop somewhere.  I was definitely under prepared for 45 degree weather.

One place that stole my heart was the no kill animal shelter I passed walking to the pub.  Right on the street with huge glass windows was a large shelter, Anti Cruelty, home to so many cats and dogs.  I walked around the street perimeter and stared at all those precious many who looked at me like, "Can I come home with you?" They all wore these sweet bandanas around their necks and many had personalized blankets and toys in their crates.  I was really moved.  So much so that I went to sleep that night worried about those animals - sleeping in there, cars and trucks and noises whizzing past them, lights that play tricks on them, scared and lonely when they should have a warm home and a bed to sleep in, with a loving family.  Even from visiting this site now, it's clear this is one no kill shelter that does great work.  Those precious dogs motivated me to find a local shelter and offer some service.

That evening I enjoyed delicious dinner with my colleague Cynthia VonOrthal and then my first ever ballet.  I know - me.  First ballet?  Yes, it's true.  I had a chance to see the Nutcracker at age 8 when I was still on Long Island but it was scheduled for mid-December -- after I would move back to the Philadelphia region.  It's like it was never meant to be.  I would never see the Nutcracker and it would be 25 more years before a saw any ballet.  But as I learned from several colleagues, I didn't just see any ballet...I saw the Joffrey.   It's easily one of the top 3 ballets in the nation.  The company performed Don Quixote and for nearly 2 hours I was on the edge of my seat spellbound.  It wasn't just the awesomeness of the principal dancers.  It was the entire production, soup to nuts - the score, the story, the presentation/delivery, the life size horse puppet created by the VonOrthal Puppets, and the experience of having killer seats in a gorgeous old theater.

I hadn't been to Chicago in nearly 10 years.  My trip back was incredible and followed by a mini tour of Lake Side Drive, fabulous views of the lake, more delicious food, and a tour of the VonOrthal Puppets' studio.  I was treated like a queen and I'm forever grateful for this opportunity and the hospitality of my colleagues. 

A Little About Me

I am part of Philadelphia Social Media Moms - a group of mom bloggers that regularly post to a Facebook Group for all sorts of stuff - advice, promotions, tech info, you name it.  I've had a chance to offer my business insight to this community and learn some tricks and tips along the way. Last week another blogger started a feature whereby she'd interview a few of us each week. I thought you'd enjoy learning a few things about me.  Here are a few of my Q and A's. Read the entire post here.

Favorite BAD band (boy bands, one hit wonder, etc)
The Spice Girls, hands down. LOVE THEM!

Best place you've ever vacationed
Syros, Greece. I left the day I graduated college in 2000 and went for 3 glorious weeks. It was a study abroad program through our Art department: Pit Firing in Ancient Greece. I still have some of the pottery I created there. Whenever I’m in a mood, all I do is think of that trip – the raw beauty, the culture, the sense of wonder and peace I felt, the sense of adventure, the sense of inspiration and creation.

How long have you been blogging?
Since 2005. A good friend had suggested I try it because I was always sending mass emails to friends, bringing them up to speed on my life. There were always tons of crazy stories and my writing style is very literary. So – lots of adjectives.

Thanks to Stephanie Anderson in Chester County, PA for highlighting so many of us.  Stephanie's blog, A Modern Day Donna Reed is a humorous take on one mom's modern day life. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Hawk Will Never Die


The other day, another mom blogger's post regarding Columbus Day sparked a great memory of college days past.  I remembered vividly my sophomore year Philosophy class and the paper on democracy I wrote that spring.  We'd spent the semester reading Plato and Socrates and then ventured into some modern day philosophy readings and discussions including Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.  We explored a lot particularly what democracy means today.  What an eye opener that book was.  But probably more important - and what I really remember - was the all nighter I pulled in April of 98 to complete that paper.  I remember sometime around 4am having a eureka moment and writing and writing.  The paper (I wish I could find it - it's on a floppy somewhere!) focused on how as individuals we need to exist in society.  I love those moments when I remember something like a paper that pushed me forward as a person - as a thinker, an intellectual, and made me question previous beliefs and my role in society.  St. Joe's was also amazing at somehow integrating all curricula regardless of one's major into that bigger theme of Men and Women With And For Others.  I remember a day senior year when I thought, hey, the bigger themes in this management class coincide with some of the themes in Western Civ and Philosophy.

I drove past the school today - it's all gutted and under construction and I feel some kinda way that my greenery is gone.  I am all for progress but it really does make me sad that the gorgeous lawn next to the Chapel is gone, having made way for a new dorm.  Sad.  I do need to get back though and really walk around and walk through the buildings again.  The buildings really make it - the smells and sounds of students.

Here are a few pics I found on the web of my alma mater.

Love this - it's a shot of Nick Santoleri's painting of Barbelin Hall from 1995/96 -  my time

The "Old Hawk" - when I was a student

 The "New Hawk" - the one on my car now

Thursday, October 06, 2011


Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, passed away yesterday.  I regret that not being an Apple freak meant that I really didn't know or follow this guy. In just the last 12 hours I've learned and read a good deal about him.  Besides being a brilliant creative self starter, he was an inspiration and motivator to many.  Here are some meaningful quotes that have been popping up on social sites today.
"You can't connect the dots looking can only connect them looking backwards"
"I'd been rejected but I was still in love."
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma —which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
- Steve Jobs Stanford University Commencement Speech 2005

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


Saw this yesterday and it's my new motivational motto.  Especially on the heels of PAE and how I feel a certain colleague should have been supportive and enthused for me.  And he wasn't.  And he blew me off.  And I'm taking it personally because it is personal.  And I'm worried and also discouraged and a simple "You're gonna be great" would go a long way right now.  But in my hour of need I saw this and was reminded that yes, I am awesome.  I'm doing great things.  I've come a long way.  I am proud of that.  Now I better own it.