Eating Well and Using Your Creativity in the Process!

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There are countless ways to express your creativity — through the written word, creating an aesthetically pleasing home environment, building a business or through a variety of artistic endeavors. ¬†But nothing can compare to creating a colorful salad ūü•ó.

The salad pictured below was a three person endeavor created at my home for a Paella Party back in June. ¬†In this beautiful bowl was Spinach, Red Leaf Lettuce, Grape Tomatoes ūüćÖ, Red Onion, Mandarin Oranges, Cranberries and Bleu Cheese.

Eating is a necessity, but preparation and cooking is an art form!

#thisidoforme

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JUST ME AND SOME SOUP!

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I was in the process of making tomato ūüćÖ¬†soup when the thought hit me that life is indeed good. ¬†When this revelation came (and I have that revelation often), I could clearly see that it is something special about remaining mindful and in the moment as you complete any task. ¬†My taking the steps to create a heartwarming pot of soup wasn’t lost on this point.

I didn’t have a television on nor did I feel compelled to turn on any music. ¬†It was just me, a pot, a knife, a spoon, some tomatoes, chicken broth and a picture window in my kitchen that allowed me the blessing of looking onto my backyard as I prepared my dish.

First, I did a rough chop of eight Roma Tomatoes; I diced some fresh garlic (about 3 cloves — I just love garlic) and I slivered about 6 sprigs of fresh basil. ¬†I poured the chicken broth into my pot, added everything else and slowly simmered that pot of what was clearly becoming a concoction of deliciousness.

I have to admit that the most exciting part of making my tomato soup is pulling out my hand emulsifier to thicken it.  Somehow I feel like a real chef when I use it.

However, the most memorable part of the process was how consciously aware I was of every chop and every stir. ¬†The blessing was being present every step of the way. I didn’t hurry through my soup making; I wasn’t thinking ahead about changing the linen on my bed, and I wasn’t thinking about solving any problems at the office. ¬†I just lost myself in the task at hand — Making Soup!

AND THAT I’M CONVINCED IS THE KEY TO HAPPINESS!

#thisidoforme

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THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME 2018 READING CHALLENGE

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It’s reading season, and I am issuing a challenge to you for 2018! ¬†I hope you take me up on it.

Listed below are categories of books to get you going; these are categories that are fun, interesting and may push you to read books outside your usual genres.

Reading can bring great pleasure, particularly when we are home bound during wintry weather. Add a cup of tea and you’re off on a new adventure!

As we have all experienced,  reading can both transfix and transform us, along with opening up your consciousness to new topics.

Happy Reading!!

TIDFM CHALLENGE

  1.      Read a humorous book;
  2.      Read a book about food or the culinary arts;
  3.      Read a book of Science Fiction;
  4.      Read a book of poetry;
  5.      Read a book of short stories;
  6.      Read a biography or autobiography;
  7.      Read a book written by a Native American;
  8.      Read a book set in another country or city;
  9. ¬† ¬† ¬†Read a children’s book;
  10.      Read a Pulitzer Prize winning author;
  11.      Read a book by author Toni Morrison;
  12.      Read a book that has been on a shelf too long;
  13.      Read a book by an author your age

I’m in the process of compiling my list, but below are two books that I’ve recently read.

I’m willing to wager that once we finish this challenge, we will be all the more wealthy.

 

 

 

“Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.” ¬† ¬† ¬†– Mason Cooley

 

I USED TO BE AFRAID OF DYING — NOW I’M JUST AFRAID OF NOT LIVING!

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How many times have we said we wanted to do something and five years later we find ourselves saying the same thing or we look up and we are no closer to our desires than when we first spoke of them?

Stop procrastinating! Stop worrying about the future! And by all means stop dying by not setting some goals and consistently working toward them!

Live! Live! Live! This…I…Do…For…Me

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MAKE 2018 THE YEAR THAT YOU COMMIT TO RADICAL SELF-CARE!

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Like so many of Ann Lamott’s powerful insights and quotes, I especially like this one because it propelled me to look at self-care as a radical act.

No longer of the mindset that taking care of myself is an act of selfishness, I now see it as high level activism. ¬†“Why?” you ask.

Simple — because unless we feed our bodies energetic food, our minds powerful fodder and surround ourselves with nutrient-rich people who support us and call us out when necessary, we can be of little benefit to others nor have a true impact on our world.

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that being a sacrificial lamb earns us a place in the pantheon of sainthood.

Here’s to a life of radicalism! ¬†Happy New You!

 

 

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2017 RECAP OF THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME ACTIVITIES — IT WAS A GOOD YEAR!!

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As I reflect over the 2017, I realize it was an extremely busy year.¬† It was a year of a lot of firsts for me, particularly as it relates to building my two year old business This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM).

It was a year that allowed me to see how I brought dreams to fruition for others and just how much satisfaction I derived from playing a role in that.¬† It was also a year where I faced some long-standing doubts and fears, and surprisingly I came out on the other side!¬† I like to do yearly recaps mainly so that I can not only see what I’ve accomplished, but examine the misses and areas where I still need to grow, as well.

So for all that it brought, here is TIDFM’s 2017 recapped:

TRAVEL

January — I, along with nine female relatives, took (what has become known as “The Cousins’ Trip”) a four day jaunt to Atlanta, Georgia. Our cousin and her husband treated us royally. ¬†The trip was made especially memorable because we traveled there during the time¬†Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ¬†birthday was being celebrated in his hometown.¬†¬† It was also magical to spend that time with family members.¬† We took in the movie “Hidden Figures”, saw Roy Ayers perform at the City Winery, ate at some fabulous restaurants, laughed and talked, talked and laughed, and more importantly, we paid homage to Dr. King by visiting his grave site, ¬†along with that of his dedicated wife and comrade Coretta Scott King.

 

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March — I was able to visit a close friend who lives in Berkeley, California.¬† This was the first time that I spent my entire time in Berkeley versus spending time in Oakland or San Francisco.¬† We saw an art exhibit at¬†Berkeley Museum of Art, ate Bi Bim Bap at a¬† Korean¬†restaurant (ate there twice because I can never get enough of Bi Bim Bap), watched a myriad of movies at her home and¬†toured the campus of The University of California, Berkeley.¬† I have always wanted to see this campus, especially because of its history of protest, advocacy and of being a change agent.

A visit to the Bay area would not be complete without paying a visit to the outstanding restaurant Burma Superstar!  That place! That place!  They offer every imaginable way to please your palate; their coconut rice alone will have you begging for more, and the variety of Burmese food offered is amazing.

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September — I finally got to travel to a city that I have been longing to visit for quite some time.¬† This trip, like my¬†excursion to Atlanta, allowed me to spend time with family — 3 cousins — who made my trip so special.¬† Not only is Seattle a most gorgeous city, its food scene is amazing and as diverse as its residents.¬† You want good ice cream?¬† There is Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.¬† You want really good Sushi?¬† There is Trappers.

And I can’t ¬†forget my visit to the famed Pike’s Market, The Northwest African American Museum and the city’s Space Needle!

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The University of Washington’s campus is picturesque, and situated on that campus are some of the most architecturally unique buildings I’ve ever seen. Needless to say, Seattle’s weather is my kind of weather.¬† Although it was overcast on several days, the breezes and fresh air made the trip all the more enjoyable.

Also, Seattle gave me a chance to be mesmerized by The Chihuly Exhibit held on The Seattle Space Museum Caampus — what magnificent work!

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October — Reykjavik, Iceland — Not a place I would have ever imagined myself visiting until I came across an incredible fare offered by Southwest Airlines, but AM I GLAD I DID!¬† Naturally, once I really began to research Aurora Borealis (aka The Northern Lights), I was determined to witness this phenomenon first hand.¬† On a cold Iceland evening, I got my chance.¬† How awe-inspiring it was!

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Who would have thought I would have paid to join an excursion to whale watch? ¬†I maintained the attitude that “as long as I am here, I might as well immerse myself in Icelandic culture.” ¬†It was cold and wet, but I felt like a trooper because I pushed myself to do something that I would never have done before.¬† I saw not only whales, but but I saw humpback dolphins, and other unrecognizable water bound animals.

I shivered my butt off, but I enjoyed every minute.

 

 

 

I was also able to partake in a two hour Icelandic Beer Class where you not only tasted a variety of beers (that was a lot of fun), but I learned about what was going on historically in Iceland at the time those beers were crafted.  Our class members were from Canada, Italy and Sweden.

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Of course we took the obligatory city tour — Reykjavik’s Cultural Building was hosting a run of Tosca, along with some lesser known productions and exhibits.

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We also saw the building (pictured below) where President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary of the Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev held in 1986 made progress toward creating The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and The Soviet Union.

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The highlight of the city tour was seeing the Lutheran Church¬†Hallgrimskir, which is one of Iceland’s hallmark tourist attractions. Running a close second was bathing in the iconic Blue Lagoon.

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November — The end of the year saw me revisit Sydney, Australia, but unlike my first visit in 2015 where I went Down Under solo, this time I escorted eight women aged 50+ to the land of Oz! ¬†It was a monumental trip because it was the first official excursion for This…I…Do…For…Me and it was the first time some of the ladies had ever left the United States. ¬†AUSTRALIA WAS EVERYTHING!

Our Sydney, Australia¬† Itinerary Included:¬† The Sydney Opera House Tour, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Cronulla Beach, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Seeing the Southern Cross at the Sydney Observatory, Sea Life Aquarium, Madam Tussaud, Watson’s Bay and Doyle’s Restaurant, Bondi Junction (for shopping) Day Trip to The Blue Mountains and numerous restaurants representing Thai, Greek, German, Italian and Mexican Cuisines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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OTHER 2017 THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME GROUP OUTINGS AND EVENTS

  1.  We took a Greek Cooking Class at Sur La Table in Chicago;
  2.  I and 12 TIDFM patrons participated in a Wine Tasting and Food Pairing led by Sommelier Brian Duncan at Eddie Vs on The Gold Coast;
  3. We attended The City Winery’s Sunday Concert Series; classical, jazz and choral music was the fare;
  4. We attended a Salute to Katherine Dunham at The Harold Washington Library;
  5. We attended both The Annual African American Film Festival and viewed a film monthly at The Gene Siskel Film Center;
  6. TIDFM sponsored its First Annual Book Swap and Dinner at Eddie Vs;
  7. ¬†We attended three theatrical productions — Hamilton, An American in Paris and The Bodyguard;
  8. TIDFM in conjunction with Chisiko offered a Women Warrior Masterpiece Art Class at Robust Coffee Shop;
  9. We attended The Chicago Cultural Center’s showing of the documentary “Still I Rise” featuring the life of phenomenal Activist, Writer and Renaissance Woman Maya Angelou;
  10. We attended a musical performance featuring drummer extraordinaire Terri Lyne Carrington and Liz Wright;
  11. We attended Dixon School’s Annual African American Cultural Festival;
  12. I attended “Black Girls Gather” in Chicago hosted by “For Harriett “Writer and Activist Kimberly Foster;
  13. I was invited to join The Shanghai Committee for The Chicago Sister Cities Program;
  14. I even learned how to play Mah Jong;
  15. Attended The Annual Good Food Conference;
  16. I threw my first Paella Party (see pics below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am excited about 2018, as TIDFM will be traveling to Greece in September!  We will continue to experience the wonderful cultural scene that Chicago offers.

I will keep you posted on our other exciting events scheduled for throughout the year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  MAY PROSPERITY ABOUND! #thisidoforme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENT: TRAVEL PLANS FOR REMAINDER OF 2017

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Everyone who knows me can shout to the rafters that I love to travel, and they would also say that I love to travel internationally, in particular.

However, 2017 holds a combination of domestic and international excursions. In the earlier part of this year, I had the pleasure of visiting Atlanta (hadn’t been there since 1984) and San Francisco/Berkeley, California. ¬†These were exciting trips that allowed me to spend time with family and old friends.

I am equally excited about my upcoming trips that will occur  September through November 2017. They are:

  1.     Seattle, Washington (visiting family and friends)
  2.     Reykjavik, Iceland (home of the Blue Lagoon)
  3.     Sydney, Australia (1st trip was in 2015)

Stay tuned for additional details, chronicles of these visits and loads of pics.

Where are you traveling next?

I’M BACK!

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Well after a brief hiatus from writing weekly blog posts, I am back and ready to write, again!

I wish I could say that I’ve been veging out and staring off into space, but that’s not the case. ¬†I’ve been busy — very busy, and as organized as I am, I can only juggle so many balls at one time.

It’s not easy holding down a full time job (a demanding job, I might add), building a thriving entrepreneurial venture, traveling, planning outings and excursions ¬†maintaining commitments with friends and family and trying to get some relaxation time in so that I have enough steam to keep going.

So to get back into the swing of blogging again, I am keeping it simple — I am posting this wonderful pic of me, along with my wonderful cousins during our trip to Atlanta. ¬†The occasion was a fun filled “Cousins Weekend.”

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Eight of us descended on our Atlanta based cousin and her husband to visit the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, take in the movie “Hidden Figures, sing along with Roy Ayers at The City Winery, grab some delicious meals at various restaurants and even worship at a Spirit-filled church.

It was the type of weekend everyone owes themselves.

Thanks for sticking with me; I’m glad to back in the Blogosphere!

THINGS I CANNOT TRAVEL WITHOUT!!

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In this three part travel series, we have looked at some ways to identify budget airfares, and we’ve looked at a cadre of economical accommodation choices.

In the last of this series, I want to share some things that I just can’t and will not travel without. These items provide great comfort to me while traveling, and when I’m packing I get a kick out of including them in my suitcase and knowing that I am going to feel secure with them while I’m on the road. ¬†So here goes!

A GREAT PAIR OF WALKING SHOES!

You will never catch me without my Riekers. This shoe is heaven against concrete. They are stylish, come in a variety of colors, and they seem to match any outfit (minus ones that need heels). I purchased my first pair in 2015 when I visited 11 cities in France. Two months afterwards, they remained glued to my feet while trekking through Sydney, Australia.

They aren’t cheap, but I have learned that if I’m going to put out good money on anything, it might as well be on a solid pair of shoes — Riekers it is!

A SET OF PACKING CUBES

This is another travel goodie that I can’t be without. Coming in a multitude of colors (I have the lime green set), this nugget makes packing not only convenient, but fun also! ¬†I have a a set of three — one cube accommodates my underwear, socks, pantyhose and pajamas; another cube accommodates all of my tops and blouses; and one that I can use for all of my bottoms.

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I’m even able to squeeze in a toletries bag. Life is easy on the road with these babies! ¬†Once I get to my hotel or Airbnb, I just place the three cubes in the drawers and pull out what I need daily. ¬†My cubes are manufactured by ebags.

TRAVEL BLANKET

Talk about comfort — my Flight 001 Travel Blanket is perfect for when I get a bit chilly on the airplane or on a tour coach. It feels wonderful — its lightweightness is perfect, and it comes in its own pouch for easy transport.

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IPOD AND SONY HEADPHONES

I have loaded my iPod with a variety of jazz, classical and r&b — anything from Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald to Alicia Keys!

Additionally, when I use my Sony headphones to listen to the wonderful array of music, I experience a quality of sound like no other. They make especially long flights (like my flight to Sydney, Australia in 2015) most enjoyable.

TRAVELON CROSS-BODY BAGS WITH RFID-BLOCKING CARD AND PASSPORT SLOTS

Now THIS is the piece de resistance! I am able to carry a bottle of water, my wallet, tissue, writing pen and throat lozenges. There is a slot for my passport, and there is even room for my Samsung smartphone.

LUGGAGE SCALE

My Digital Luggage Scale comes in handy and keeps me from paying over the top luggage fees.  My scale is a life saver, and both American Weigh and Samsonite have nice ones!

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CANON EOS REBEL T5 DSLR CAMERA

During my many years of traveling, I have used a point and shoot camera or my Smartphone’s camera. ¬†I have been pleased with how my pics have turned out, and others have commented on what nice pics I take. ¬†This past fall, I enrolled in a photography course that taught me just how much more I could do with a professional¬†¬†camera, so I invested in ¬†Canon EOS Rebel T5 digital camera!

Although I have been taking photos galore, my trip to Australia in 2017 will be my first trip where I will use my DSLR. ¬†I can’t wait to share the outcomes with you!

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SAMSONITE STRYDE HARDSIDE GLIDER LONG JOURNEY (WISHLIST ITEM)

I don’t own one yet, but I promise you — I’m going to get this one! It’s roomy and perfect for housing packing cubes while still leaving enough room to pack other items. ¬†It spins nicely and will glide alongside you as you walk.

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It also comes in a medium and carry on size.

Needless to say, I am inseparable from my iPad, which also allows me to read a book that I’ve downloaded through my Kindle App.

These are just small samplings of what makes me happy on the road. ¬†What travel comforts can’t you live without? ¬†I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RECAP OF QUARTERLY ACTIVITIES — THIS I DO FOR ME

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Since my last quarterly recap, I have been ultra busy.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

THEATER, PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, TRAVEL, OUTINGS, BOOK LAUNCHES AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, Oh My!

  • ¬†I and a group of friends took in “Leavings,” an ¬† outstanding theater production written by playwright Gail Parrish! ¬†This is one of those works that have you immersed in deep thinking long after you’ve seen it;
  • Attended Chicago’s Steppenwolf the play “Fundamentals.” ¬†This work humorously examines the world of Upward Mobility for women;
  • I enrolled in a six week photography class offered by Blue 1647, a tech and business incubator program dedicated to increasing the number of tech savvy people of color; our instructor, Amber, quelled my fears and emphasized how important it is to let my personality come through my work. I now feel more confident, and I look forward to utilizing what I’ve learned.
  • After running a contest on Facebook where the winner had to guess my favorite American city, I and winner Twanda Gates, took a Helicopter Tour of downtown Chicago. The prize was sponsored by Mighty Mongoose, a company that specializes in curating exciting outings in big cities like Boston and Chicago. ¬†Rotorzen Helicopter Tours was the operator;

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  • THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME (TIDFM) celebrated its first year anniversary in August 2015. It’s hard to believe that an entire year of fun and growth has gone by;
  • Artwork and graphic design were created for an imminent TIDFM T-shirt (to be unveiled in early 2017). ¬†Also, a logo was created;
  • I announced TIDFM’s 2018 International Excursion to Athens, Santorini and Mykonos, Greece!

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  • I attended the book launch and release party for new author ¬†Marilyn D. Willis’ book “Winning Through Early Detection and the Beauty Behind It.” ¬†I am convinced that this book with save lives and inspire women to live their best lives despite a cancer diagnosis;

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  • Most excitingly, I created a group for over 200 age 50+ women. The goal of the group is to uplift, share successes and remind this age cohort that there is still plenty of beautiful life to live and EXPERIENCE!
  • I booked a January 2017 trip to beautiful Atlanta, Georgia. I will have the pleasure of spending The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend in King’s hometown with 10 cousins for our annual “Cousin’s Weekend!”

I am so excited about what is in store for TIDFM.  I look forward to continuing to share this journey with you.

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NOTE:  Do you have suggestions for a TIDFM outing or activity?     Please feel free to email me any ideas at robin@thisidoforme.com