Stepping Outside the Box

We all have our comfort zones. I confess. I can be pretty bad. If I can’t win something, if I’m not good at it, I usually won’t participate. I’m competitive and I hate to lose. This is why I don’t do tennis and rarely do bowling. But, at least I know because I tried it.

But…

Trying something new is important. It’s exciting. It can be such a rush. Energizing. Envigorating.

Which is what I did this weekend. Although I can sing and write, I’ve always thought art was outside of my wheelhouse. And then, for one of my closest friends’ birthday, she decided to book a painting party at this place called Painting With a Twist.

Because we had a bigger group we got to use our own private room AND pick our painting. They supplied us with music, a teacher, smocks, easels, paints, and paint brushes. We got to bring our own wine and munchies.

The teacher walked us through the painting process step by step. This is my base. We were supposed to make the backdrop a streaky gray. My inner rebel came out & I added a touch of magenta to give it a bit of my personality.

  

As you can tell, I started to get really into the process….

Next step was coloring in the feather. Turns out I either don’t take direction well or I need to dance to the beat of my own drummer because whenever she’d tell us what color she wanted us to use next, I went with the opposite.

But, I think my feather turned out pretty well, and I was finding the process to be interesting and a challenge. I painted, chatted, and sang along to the music they had playing.

  
This particular creative process was never one I thought I’d be any good at, but I was doing pretty well…

And then came the dreaded birds. They almost did me in… Can you see how serious I got?   

In fact, our whole group got pretty hard core… Determined not to be done in by the birds. This time, I tried it the instructor’s way. It didn’t work for me. Until she helped me touch one of my birds up and I found my own way.

  
By the time I was done it felt like I’d really accomplished something. Something I never knew I could. And it felt good! 

  

Not bad for an amateur, huh? 

What I’m saying is that this was a great reminder of why it’s so important to try something new. Something outside of your comfort zone.

When was the last time you did something you’ve never tried before? What was it? Did you have fun?

R is for Romance

Everyone has their own unique ideas of what romance is or is not.

When I was younger, I had that tv idealized version of what romance was. You know, the one where the handsome dreamboat sweeps you off your feet a la Prince Charming?

Back then romance was a boy who wanted to do all those images that danced in my head. Walk on the beach hand in hand. Make soft, gentle love in front of a fire after feeding each other fruits, cheeses, and wines. Or maybe he’d fight for me against some equally and some guy who had nefarious intent in mind… 

Yeah. They’ve all been well used tropes in many a romance novel. Heck, practically the only stereotype I didn’t hold up was the billionaire boyfriend, and that’s probably because I always figured I’d be rich enough in my own right…and I have always found love to be more important than financial security.

But as I lived a little more life, my ideas of romance changed. Drastically.

 

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When I was online and would be approached by men, I’d ask what they liked. Answers that included walks on the beach, quiet nights by the fire, or giving massages (foot or otherwise) to their romantic interests tended to get a snort and a cynical eye roll. 

I grew up. I was no longer interested in the predictable pat answers that were more than likely either lines to get a woman in the sack or really were into those things. If they were the latter, they were definitely too soft & too much of a pushover for me. I am more intense and not so easily impressed with outward trappings. If it’s the former, I’d lost a bit of respect for their lack of honesty & need to play games.

These days, romance to me is centered more around open communication, a willingness to share fantasies, honesty, someone who has both shared and differing interests from me. He may love to do things like surprise me with my favorite sweet treat or cooking me dinner. He loves hanging out with me as much as his friends. His mouth is both orally talented and verbally, too. Yes, a smartass with a sense of humor is practically mandatory for a woman like me. 

Most important thing for me when talking romance? Someone who loves and accepts me just the way I am. Warts and all. Proud of my accomplishments and can’t wait to introduce me to the people and things in his life that he’s passionate about, and dying to learn the same about me. 

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I guess what I’m saying is…. These days, romance these days is a shared sense of adventure, unconditional acceptance, laughter, honesty, and a sense of joy in the little surprises that let me know he listens, he cares, and he just loves doing something nice for me for no other reason than it makes him happy to put a smile on my face. 

What about you? What screams romance to you? Is it the same thing that it was in your youth? Have you been fortunate enough to find the person who has brought it into your life? What’s the most romantic gesture you’ve ever recieved?

Worlds Collide in a Winter Wonderland

The last month or so have been an adventure.

Yes, sunny Florida girl, yours truly…was sent off to the “Great White North” for three weeks between December and January for new day job training. And by GWN, I mean Syracuse, New York. Okay, so I’m a Chicago transplant to Florida. You’d think that would mean I’m used to winters, right?

Wrong!

Jaunty Hat

Winter Selfie in Jaunty Hat

I haven’t lived in a state that has winter since 1999. I didn’t really even own a “real” coat anymore. My sister had to shop for one for me up in Chicago. Because, you know, Florida sells winter coats in the dead of summer, then gets rid of the inventory. True story.

So the first week up there I realized the weather was bi-polar. I arrived to 50 degree weather. The next morning it was in the 20’s. Here’s a picture of me in my jaunty winter hat.

Yes, that’s snow in the background. Not only did the weather drop 30 degrees overnight. It also snowed…but it was a light, slushy snow and the weather was back up into the 40’s the following day. Like I said. Bipolar weather.

Wegmans

Definitely NOT a Castle

But there were some good things about not being overly cold. It enabled us to explore.

And thus my first Wegmans experience was born. Sadly, apparently it was nothing like it should be. I was told Wegmans looks like a castle and is an amazing place to shop.

As a girl who has Publix supermarkets every couple of miles, I’m not easily impressed. I was told that this particular store was a bit old and not in a great neighborhood, so not to hold anything against the franchise. It was not a “true” Wegmans experience. The store was dingy, the employees weren’t overly helpful….so I’ll trust my friends and reserve judgement. Still, a cherry popped while in New York.

Rockin the Boys

Cowboy Plane Selfie

But despite the cold, both the final game of the season and the first playoff game for my ‘Boys were going on. That meant I wore my Cowboy love quite literally all over my body.

Of course, the first person to taunt me?

The TSA agent. Before I even left Sarasota.

When hubby asked how I responded to the “Go Lions!” taunt, I told him I kept my mouth shut.

Let’s be real for a second…. No matter how much one might love their home team, how likely is a person to respond with a return taunt when the person calling you out is the TSA agent at the gate of the airport? While you’re being patted down…

Even I’m not that brave. Not after a friend of mine practically got cavity searched for forgetting she had a bottled water in her carry on luggage. Nope.

Cold Selfie

Bundled Up Selfie

But finally, January came to Syracuse…and brought me back into the cold. This time, sis had come through with a cute winter coat and hand knit scarf. By then, I’d gotten smart enough to buy boots and gloves. At home, such articles are only purchased for fashion purposes.

These were meant to keep my feet warm and dry. Utilitarian. What a novel thought, right? Well, maybe if you’re from the south.

And I discovered that gloves have come a long way! Now they have these little spots on the finger tips that allow you to work digital devices like touch screens without taking the gloves off.

Who knew?

Well, I do now. And I own a pair. A girl’s gotta stay on the cutting edge of technology, don’tcha know.

WindySnow

This is both wind and snow

I confess. I watched my weather updates on my phone like a hawk. When I started seeing sub-zero temperatures I admit it. I got a bit whiny.

And what’s with these reports telling us what it “feels like” outside? They calculate in the wind, etc. Do they really think that telling me that 0 degrees is going to feel like -14 degrees is going to encourage me to step away from the warmth of my hotel room? Eek!

Windy, Snowy Selfie

Windy, Snowy Selfie

I was just relieved that the couple of feet they forecasted didn’t come while I was there! The wind was bad enough.

You see the picture on the side? My hair was blowing sideways, and so was the snow! Yes, I found a way to keep my ears warm…. Unfortunately, I also forgot my jaunty hat at home this trip.

Just a little hint? That face is not my happy face. It’s my “damn, this is cold” face.

If it weren’t for a friend asking me to take snow pictures of myself and the weather, there’s no way I would’ve been out of doors for more than the short time it took to get from indoors to the vehicle, and back inside.

And, believe it or not, despite having not driven in snow in about 20 years, I drove in this weather. Yeah, I’m feeling pretty proud of that, too.

But none of that compared to the coolest experience of the trip, ever!

It had everything to do with this guy….

Meeting my friend, author Mark Bialczak

Meeting my friend, author Mark Bialczak

My friend, fellow author and blogger, Mark Bialczak braved the freezing cold (and I mean freezing literally) to come out to meet me for dinner. First, if you haven’t met Mark yet, you should check him out HERE. He’s a fun, engaging blogger and an all around great guy.

Syracuse guide

He remembered I love my sports, and was generous enough to bring me a copy of his book, also now a memento of my 3 week stay in Syracuse, and autograph it for me! How cool was that? He even teased me a bit about the book not being about my Cowboys!

Even better, despite the fact that the only place we’d interacted was online via our blogs, it felt like meeting an old friend. We never ran out of things to talk about. There was no awkwardness. Just a lot of good conversation and fun!

Have you ever met any friends from online? What was your experience?