Happy New Year!

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Let’s get this party started…

 

For the first time in a long time, I stayed home on New Year’s Eve.

I worked my regular shift at work, picked up my kiddo from his grandmother’s house, and drove straight home.  The weather has been bad for the past week or longer. We’ve gotten a lot of snow, high winds and very cold temperatures.  The idea of going out simply wasn’t appealing.  The roads were bad and there would likely be drunk drivers everywhere.  Not a good mix.

It wasn’t just the weather that kept me home.  It was the burning desire to have some peace in my world as the clock ticked away and then moved us into the new year. I just wanted to be alone in my quiet house with my child safe in his bed and my dog at my feet.

I put on some comfortable clothes, grabbed a bottle of sparkling grape juice, a wine glass ( because I am fancy) and some snacks. I settled in on my couch to watch Atomic Blonde on DVD.  I also enjoyed my Christmas tree and decorations. I felt like I barely got a chance to even notice them this year.

The moment that the clock struck midnight, my phone blew up with HAPPY NEW YEAR texts and the world outside my window exploded in gunshots and fireworks.  I wasn’t lonely since my friends remembered me and the stupidity outside my window was still keeping me employed.

2017 wasn’t a bad year for me. A lot of people claimed that it was one of the hardest years of their lives. While mine certainly wasn’t perfect, there were a lot of changes and transitions that needed to happen. My acceptance of these facts made the sadness and the pain a bit easier to manage. I simply had to move on. So I am.

I am looking forward to 2018 and I am embracing life now, more than I have in a really long time. I like the direction that my life seems to be going. The unknown is always scary but it can also be exciting. It just depends on the way you choose to look at it.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year’s Eve! Here’s to 2018!

 

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Stories, Life, Figuring It Out

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Everyone has a story..

I’m planning a lengthy ( probably ) post for the end of the year that is going to go over all of the changes that I experienced in 2017. Some good, some bad and some of them were, as the saying goes,  ugly.

One of the conclusions about life that I came to is that nothing is in control and the need for perfection is going to drive me insane. Actually, it already has but I have learned to let that go.

Part of the reason that I have issues remaining faithful to blogging, journaling or anything creative is because I felt like everything had to be in chronological order as it pertained to my life.  It doesn’t.

It is impossible for me to have consistent writing time or even time to sit down and work on creative projects such as jewelry design or photography. I want to, life gets in the way, so I have to do it when I can. It’s frustrating, but that’s life.

I am not one to run with a crowd but I did look around and notice that a lot of the blogs or writers that I really enjoyed were telling stories and sharing photographs for experiences that happened weeks and even months prior to the post.

I came to the conclusion  “Who cares as long as you tell the story”.

Eventually.

I put unnecessary pressure on myself and I am really good at it.

I like to discuss life, situations, lessons I’ve learned and to share experiences. I also like to share *cough * showcase my photography.  I always say this, but, moving forward, I am going to write regardless of when it happened.

2017 brought on so many life changing events, loss, gain, revelations and attitude adjustments that I truly believe, in my heart, that 2018 is going to be an amazing year.  I am looking forward to moving forward.

I hope everyone is doing well.

7 Day Black & White Photo Challenge

A lot of my friends were tagging each other on Facebook to encourage them to participate in the “7 Day Black & White Photo Challenge”.  The idea was to post a random black and white photo to their Facebook timeline every day for seven days. The catch was that it couldn’t include people or an explanation as to what the photo was about.

Quite a few people were annoyed by it and ignored the challenge. When a friend finally included me, I was delighted and couldn’t wait to get started. My inner photography nerd was beating its chest and rearing to go.

I’m a big liar. I took my seven photographs but they were hardly random. I already knew what I wanted to capture and share to my Facebook. Then I spent probably fifteen minutes on each photo carefully crafting the right shades of black and white in Photoshop Express on my iPhone.

I blame it on that inner photography nerd that was beating its chest. It was a total out of body experience and I have no control over that guy or gal. Whatever that inner photography nerd identifies with. Believe me, I just rolled my eyes as hard as you did.

The challenge is still active on social media. If you get tagged to participate, I hope that you’ll embrace the idea and take part. I thought it was a lot of fun.  If you’re friends are lame and won’t tag you or are ignoring the challenge, then I challenge you.

My submissions are below. They are set to appear in random order so they are not in order.  I didn’t add any explanations but I will gladly explain if anyone has a question in the comments.

I’m considering having prints made.  *looks away*

 

 

 

 

 

First And Final Camping Trip 2017

This year was incredibly busy and it seemed like my days never matched up to give me an opportunity to get out and camp and hike as often as I would like. Last year, by July, I had already gone camping 6 times. I hiked more often than that.

Sometimes in life, you have to take what you can get.

I completely understand the bumper sticker that reads “A bad day fishing beats a good day at work”.

A bad weekend camping also pretty much beats a good day anywhere else. Even if it’s cold and raining half the time and you have to will yourself to be there because it beats anything else that you have going on.

We tried. That’s all I can say.

I’ve known my friend, Chalisa since childhood. We are both equine enthusiasts, her a little bit more than me these days. We started planning about three weeks in advance to go camping for the weekend and to take the horses with us.

 

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Chalisa and I

 

Who plans a camping trip on Friday the 13th? We do. I was in charge of picking up the groceries for our dinners. I couldn’t resist buying a large package of chicken that retailed at $6.66. I dubbed this “The Devil’s Chicken” and claimed to everyone that I was using reverse psychology on the universe to avoid our pending murders at the state park.

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I’m known for my weirdness.

As only Murphy’s Law would have it, it was gorgeous all week up to the day of the trip and then the rain was to move in. Not just a little rain, but thunder and lightning on top of heavy downpours. And wind. We can’t forget the wind.

We weren’t going to let that stop us though!

I was finally able to make it to the campsite in the horseman’s campground at Potato Creek State Park. Chalisa was already there getting the horses settled in and our campsite squared away. She likes to stay in her trailer while I prefer the confines of my Kelty Trail Ridge 3 tent. It’s glorious.

Since we knew that the rain was coming, we set up a canopy over the picnic table.  We enjoyed some drinks and laughs while we caught up with our lives and gossip. There’s always plenty to talk about.

We were both exhausted from our day and turned in. We were blessed with a pack of coyotes calling very close to the campground. It was eerie and fantastic all at the same time.

We were up early and enjoyed a breakfast made up of coffee,  bacon, sausage, eggs and fried Honey Crisp apples.  The rain seemed to hold off a little while to allow the sun to peek through the clouds.  It was short lived.

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We didn’t waste a lot of time getting our horses saddled up so we could head out.   We got about 4 hours of riding in before the thunder and lightning arrived and we had to get off of the trail. It was even nice to just hang out in my tent and read a book.

It was about suppertime and we were contemplating if we were going to let the weather win or if we were going to stick it out all night in hopes that the morning might deliver some better news.

The radar told us that cold, wind and rain would be what we would have to look forward to. Other campers were already loading up and heading home.  I joked that they were quitters knowing that we would likely also be quitters before the night was over.

We decided to at least make our Devil’s Chicken for dinner before making the call to go or stay.  I wrapped our chicken quarters in the aluminum foil along with the other ingredients and placed them into the Dutch Oven.I had never used a Dutch Oven before and I was impressed by it. I didn’t think it would heat up as quickly or as hot as it did.

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We enjoyed our dinner and the conversation.  At about 7 o’clock when the rain and wind was picking up we decided to go ahead and call it and head home. The majority of the people that had managed to last the day were now starting to pack up and head out.

We were disappointed but at least we got to go out for a bit and enjoy our time together and with the horses. Just that one night and the day spent out on the trail was enough to recharge the batteries a little bit.

I’d do it again.

In other news. I hung my Kelty Trail Ridge 3 tent up to dry with a fan blowing on it.  It took almost 3 hours to completely dry. That’s how soaked everything was.  I also managed to drop my wifi hotspot on the ground at the campsite. I went back the next morning and found it buried under some leaves.  I was amazed when I discovered that it still worked. I dried it out and I am using it as my primary internet connection as I type this post.

Good times. Ain’t we lucky we got em?

 

Don’t Wait For Anyone Or Anything: Lessons I’ve Learned

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Young women take note. Do not wait for anything or anyone in this life.  If you have plans, pursue them. If someone claims to love you, they will encourage you and support your endeavors. You have an entire lifetime ahead of you, but believe me, your time is limited and the years go by much faster than you will ever realize.

I was standing behind a young woman and her friend while in line at a department store. The young woman was telling her friend about how she couldn’t get her boyfriend to go to a concert with her, so she wasn’t going to go. I wanted to ask her, why not? There’s no reason why you can’t go to that concert without the boyfriend.

I said nothing to them because I was a stranger and it wasn’t my place. If I had though, I would have told a tale of a life that feels only lived half ass, full of fear, disappointment and regret. Looking back, I go almost wish I would have told her, begging her pardon of course, that she ought to go anyway. Concerts are awesome.

One of the biggest and probably the only regret that I have in life is that I waited. I waited for many things for many reasons. Looking back, not a single one of those reasons were valid.

People.

The time to be right.

When I was done with _____.

I think, at least for me, I spent too much time waiting on people.  I finally came to the realization that I shouldn’t be waiting on anybody.  I thought I was being selfish at first, until I realized that I was actually cheating myself out of experiences. Life in general. If you really want to go after something or experience something then don’t wait for someone to go with you or for them to hold your hand. Just go!

A good example of this is when John Denver was planning a Christmas-time performance at a local theater. I didn’t go. Why? Because the man that I was with at the time didn’t want to go with me. Why? Because he didn’t want to attend a Christmas concert where people were singing Christmas songs.

It turned out that John also sang a lot of his own music and the Christmas songs were almost an afterthought. It wasn’t a Christmas themed concert. It was just a concert.

John Denver died almost a year later. I never got to see him perform. John Denver was almost obscure at that time. It had been years since he had released a new album and there was a very scarce chance that he would have been performing again at a venue near me.  Now, I will never see him. A missed opportunity.

Looking back on this, I kick myself. I should have just gone alone or found someone else to go with me. I was old enough to drive a car. I had my own money to spend on a ticket and gas to get there. Looking back, I had no reason not to go. The funniest, well not so funny, part about this was hearing him tell me later that he read an article in the newspaper that critiqued the show and how he sang a lot of his own work.

I broke up with this guy a little while later. No, it wasn’t over missing a John Denver concert. Though, if I had to go fishing for a reason, I could have used that. Especially since that was over twenty years ago and I am still a little angry about it.

Life is full of missed chances because we wait.

I’m not that old.   I am glad that I finally realized this before I got too much older. I am at a place where I can still go out and grab onto experiences.  There is no reason I can’t or shouldn’t be. I held myself back for really no good reasons at all.  They seemed like good reasons at the time, but they weren’t.

I like flowers. I don’t need a reason or for a person to buy them for me. Though, that would be nice. I can buy my own. Or grow them.

I go to movies alone.  Some things are just better to be seen on the big screen.

I want to go on a trip. If someone doesn’t want to go with me, I am a big girl and I can create my adventure on my own. I’ve done it. I lived to tell the tale. It isn’t strange or unheard of to pack up and take off. If you want to go, then go!

Like the quote above advises us, we must decorate our own souls. You make you complete. You are the one who controls your own destiny. You will create your own experiences. Please don’t wait for someone else to go with you or to buy you flowers.

Don’t wait.

Decorate your own soul.

What are you waiting for?

Skunk! Lu Gets Sprayed

In case you weren’t aware, skunks literally live everywhere. EVERYWHERE!

Even in the city.

About three years ago, I was enjoying an evening outside in one of my Adirondack chairs in the front yard. I was sitting in the dark just enjoying the weather when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.

I sat in silent horror as the biggest skunk I had ever seen in my life, waddled across the yard in front of me. I do not know if it knew that I was there. I would assume that it did, but I did not introduce myself.

I tried to stay perfectly still, and not breathe, as I watched the skunk sniff around at the bushes before it made its way across the yard and then disappear into the night.  I was mildly horrified, but at least I pulled through unscathed.

Dingo Lu was not so lucky.

Recently, I got home from work late and let her out to poddy. I went upstairs to change my clothes and the skunk odor came through the bathroom window and into my bedroom. My heart sank because I just knew that Lu had been sprayed.

I rushed downstairs and confirmed the hunch as I slid open the patio door and in came a very sorry little Australian Cattle Dog. She was immediately ushered back outside.  Poor Lu took a direct hit to her face. Her eyes were watering and I have never seen a dog drool like that.

It was as awful as it sounds.

Skunk funk, as I have come to call it, doesn’t smell like you think it would either. It’s more of a burning tires and hot piss kind of smell.  Or, if you’ve ever walked into a Starbucks.  It’s terrible.

I quickly took to the internet to find a real remedy vs what I have heard through the channels of Old Wivers tales.  Who has the time  to mess around in this situation?  Not I. I quickly made a list of necessary supplies and sped to Wal Mart.  Thank God for 24 hour super centers.

I obtained everything that I needed for the task at hand. Then I sat in my car in the parking lot and ate an ice cream bar while contemplating running away from home. No really.  I was at least mentally preparing for the endeavor.  The process was as awful as you imagine. It was also cold and raining and I had to do all of this outside because there was no way I was putting her in the car to take her to the dog wash across town.

In the end, I got it done.  The method I used worked.  I will share this with you below in the event that you end up in this situation yourself. .

Skunk funk. What is it?

Skunks have two glands; one on each side of the anus. These glands produce the skunk’s spray, which is a mixture of sulfer-containing chemicals such as thiols (traditionally called mercaptans), which have an offensive and nauseating odors. I can attest to this.  A skunk’s spray is powerful enough to ward off bears and other potential attackers, like little nosy cattle dogs.

It’s important to know that the chemical spray from a skunk is oily and you will also want to take care to avoid getting it on your hands and clothing. Don’t worry if you do, I have a tried and true method to remove the smell from your pet and from yourself.

You will need:

  1. Rubber gloves that come up to your elbows.  You can find these next to the cleaning supplies at the store.  Trust me on the gloves. Buy the gloves.
  2. Depending on the size of your animal you will at least want to start out with two medium size boxes of baking soda.  I used Arm & Hammer.
  3. Hydrogen Peroxide
  4. Dawn dishsoap
  5.  A large bowl
  6. Water
  7. Oatmeal Shampoo

 

In the bowl mix the following:

1 box of baking soda

1 quart of 3 % Hydrogen Peroxide

2 tablespoons of Dawn Dishsoap

Mix these ingredients together to create a paste.

Wet your animal in warm water. Then apply the mixture to the entire body, be careful around their eyes. Let the paste sit on the hair coat for 10 minutes. Rinse.  Then do the process again.

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Lu soaking in her paste. Poor unhappy Dingo!

I did this three times. It got most of the odor out. Her face was still a bit stinky.   I then used the oatmeal shampoo to soothe her skin and it helped to have a little bit of extra fragrance.

While this method cleared up 99.9% of the odor, there was still a faint odor. I noticed it more when she was wet or if I got really close to her face.  I decided to see if there was anything else that I could try.

I did some research and reached out to friends who all recommended that I follow up with a product called Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover.  You can find this product at PetsMart.  I got the big bottle that retailed at $19.99. It’s lavender scented.

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I gave Lu another bath using this product and it was highly effective. It smelled really good.  I poured the product into a large bowl and then soaked the collar she was wearing at the time of the incident, the collar she used when I gave her the baths, and also the leash that I used to hang onto her.  It worked great.

The smell has finally disappeared and life has returned to normal. Though, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little paranoid at night when I open the door to let Lu outside to do her business. I never want to go through that again.

At least I know what to do next time in the event it does. Also, my silver lining is that it happened at home and not out on the trail where I would be forced to put her into the car and transport her to get her cleaned up. I cringe at the thought!!

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I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

I Am Still Alive- New Beginning?

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Several months ago, I made the decision to set my blog to private vs leaving it appearing as though it had been abandoned.  I wasn’t writing as much as I had been and I felt like all of my content was hurried and poor.  I felt that it was better to allow people to forget about me for while than think that something awful had happened as a reason that I wasn’t here.

I had good intentions. I’m sorry.

Over the past few months I have been through a lot of changes, transitions. I’ve experienced personal tragedies and loss. I  changed my mind and then changed it back, only to change  it again. I’ve been in a mighty pursuit to find my authentic self or at least a glimpse of that girl that I used to be.

She was cool. Sadly, I believe I have been redefined yet I can still see her. She’s there.

When God is involved and forces you to face certain things, it’s humbling.  When life comes full circle, it’s amazing. And scary.  Mostly amazing. It has caused me to stop talking and to take a step back.

Breathe.

Most of what we have been taught about life is a lie.

I have managed to complete tasks that I set out to complete at the beginning of the year. Slowly but surely. I am satisfied with where I am on most of the projects I wanted to work on. Some of them are still in the rough draft phase or still swimming in my mind.

I’m okay with this.

I have “mended fences” also known as fixing relationships, that needed work. I have put myself out there a bit more and that has been rewarding,  I had isolated myself too much for too long.  Baz Luhrmann warned me about doing that. He was right. He was also right about that sunscreen thing.

I can’t make any promises about my great return to the blogasphere.  I wanted to touch base with the people who had been following along and encouraging me to keep writing, helping others and seeking my own truth.

I have some stories.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to make an effort to catch up and work on old projects to make them new again. I was inspired by an article I read online this morning and I realized that my purpose was important and that I needed to get back to work.

Anyone who has been following me on this blog and the old one knows that when something is really important to me, I struggle with indecision and the need to be completely perfect. I am working on that.

I hope that everyone is doing well and I am looking forward to reconnecting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago Police Memorial Foundation Run To Remember 2017

On the morning of May 6, 2017, I traveled to Chicago to participate in the 13th annual Chicago Police Memorial Foundation Run To Remember 5k and walk.  The Run To Remember is a 5K USATF certified chip-timed 5K Run combined with a noncompetitive 5K walk sponsored by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. The event also features a junior jog, and a family friendly after party with children’s activities. You can participate as a team or as an individual.

This was my fifth year participating.

The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation provides assistance to the families of police officers that have been killed in the line of duty and also for the officers who have been catastrophically injured in the line of duty.  They have also assisted in the purchase of ballistic vests for officers and aid the families of officers with seriously ill children.  They have been able to offer over 8 million dollars in assistance.

You can learn more about that HERE

The event starts at the Gold Families Memorial Park that is located next to Soldier Field. Soldier Field is home to the Chicago Bears. The event goes from the park along Lakeshore Dr. and then circles around along the shore of Lake Michigan. You pass by the Shedd Aquarium and also the Field Museum of Natural History.  During the last stretch of the race you pass by photographs of some of the fallen officers. It gives me goose bumps every single time. I am honored to be a part of this.

The race ends near the memorial wall in the Gold Star Families Memorial and Park.  Participants gather for a few hours to enjoy new friendships and refreshments at the after party. It’s a lot of fun and such a worth cause.

The 2018 event takes place on Saturday, May 5.  Rain or shine.  You can find more information about how to participate or volunteer for the the Run To Remember HERE

Want to help the foundation but you’re not really into running or walking? Check out their website HERE for more information about other events or opportunities that may fit your interests. Or just consider making a donation.

What Is Jennie Up To?

Whew, have I been busy over the past few months!  I don’t think any kind of life/work etc balancing would really be able to have changed a whole lot of anything. I keep saying that I hope to return to more consistent blogging and I still hope to do that.

In the meantime, I have been working on a series of short stories. I am also still working on a story that I mentioned a few weeks ago in my blog post “Breaking Free- Goodbye To Writers Block”. It’s glorious to be able to have a rhythm going and new ideas popping into my head.

I am really grateful for Google Docs. I have easy access to this feature in my Google Account that allows me to be able to save documents. If I have a great idea or anything I want to remember, such as a conversation or catch phrase for a character,  I can simply open my Google Docs and create a file and save it. Having constant access is very helpful. You can also download Google Docs to your smart phone.

Google Docs is free to use and has too many features for me to mention. You need to go and check it out for yourself. There is something useful for everyone. Google knocked it out of the park with this program. This is my opinion, but since it’s a free service, you really can’t beat it.

I am considering the start of yet another writing project. When I complete the start up on this, I will share more about it. I hate being vague, but at this point, I haven’t gotten enough work done on it to share it yet since  literally just started working on the idea of it today.

Stand by for that.

With Spring approaching, I will be doing more outside. I’ve been researching more local destinations for hikers in my region. I’m hoping to expand my travels to locations within one hundred miles. Then perhaps next year, I will travel further.

I have found social media apps such as, The Outbound Collective, that organize hiker reviews and allow others to rate the experience. Recently, my submission for the  “Glacier Flats Trail” at the Spicer Lake Nature Preserve was added to their “featured” collection of destinations.

I’m hoping to continue doing that, even if it’s just for fun.

I’m keeping busy. Dom is doing well. Life is interesting.

I hope that everyone is doing well..  I leave you with a photograph that I took on a recent visit to the Indiana Dunes State Park on Lake Michigan.

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