Technology is taking over

I kind of love “big brother.”  I’m perfectly happy with Google reading my emails, figuring out that I have a flight at 7pm, using my phone’s GPS to know where I am and sending me an alert that says I should leave by 5:25 if I want to get to the airport an hour early.  That technology is so okay with me.  it’s like having a me around to confirm and remind me.  And in lieu of an actual boyfriend/spouse to do that, I’ll take being in a relationship with Google.  I can count on it.

But the other aspects of technology that are bumming me out lately are the what Seth Godin talks about in his daily blog.  I subscribe to his quick email hits and every now and then one really strikes a nerve, like this bit from the 4/11 blast.

Seth’s tips for Digital Hygiene

  1. Turn off mail and social media alerts on your phone.
  2. Don’t read the comments. Not on your posts or on the posts of other people. Not the reviews and not the trolls.
  3. De-escalate the anger in every email exchange.
  4. Put your phone in the glove compartment while driving.
  5. Spend the most creative hour of your day creating, not responding.

Number 2 especially lately.  I get sucked into the comments a lot lately, and mostly they really upset me.  A great example from just yesterday.  There’s a pic on the local paper’s Facebook feed of the National College Football champs – the Buckeyes – with President Obama to celebrate their win earlier this year.  I clicked the comments, expecting to see people saying – Yay!  How Cool!  Way to go, Bucks!  Instead, I was shocked to see so many hateful comments about how the boys should “be ashamed of themselves” for posing with that “expletive expletive”.  So many comments like that!  Like this president or not, it’s an honor the football team to meet the president of the United States, whoever it is.  It’s an honor and a celebration and I could not believe how nasty some of it was.  I just got really bummed out.  I got obsessed with comments on all of the Indiana RFRA story comments.  I read them on cnn.com, on Facebook, on the Indy Star page.  Why am I doing this?!

Point #5 struck me too.  I’ve mentioned before how I’m working to break the habit of grabbing the phone or iPad first thing in the morning.  It’s a habit clearly still in the forming phase.  I could be creating more instead of getting all head twisted around nonsense.

Routine! Where are you?! I need you!

One week and one day on the road.  Two different trips back to back.

It’s lovely that I can attend conferences and travel back to see my family and friends, so I’m not really complaining.  It’s just also lovely to be back at home.  I’m exhausted, have gotten very little done today, just recovering from the Assoc of Change Mgmt Professionals Conference in Vegas and then a quick trip back to STL to see some fam and friends.

This was my second trip to Vegas this year and both were a lot more fun than I thought they would be.  I am very fortunate to work with some amazing people and I recognize how fortunate I am to have great co-workers.  Conferences are a mix of hit and miss.  Some sessions inspire and motivate and give you direction.  Some make me look around the room and wonder why I didn’t present this sooner.  The weather was mostly amazing (minus one major wind storm that moved our last night pool party indoors) and that made for some great pool side breaks and team bonding.

I’ll have to revisit all of the notes I took.  In addition to session notes, I would also jot down some action steps I can take or things to look into soon after the conference.  I need a minute to process all I heard and all I think I can do with it.

I also had the great opportunity to attend a very cool cocktail party hosted by one of the vendors in the High Roller ferris wheel.  It’s similar to the London Eye, each car holds about 30 ppl and it takes 30 minutes to make a full loop.

High Roller is behind the Flamingo/Harrah's area - with a great new shopping area on the walk to it.

High Roller is behind the Flamingo/Harrah’s area – with a great new shopping area on the walk to it.

There's what a car looks like.  A little party pod!

There’s what a car looks like. A little party pod!

I hung out with 25 other very interesting and very smart change leaders that night.  I am thrilled I got that invite!

The only picture I took of me in the pod, just to prove I was there.

The only picture I took of me in the pod, just to prove I was there.  

The one picture I took out the window.  I was enjoying all the company too much!

The one picture I took out the window. I was enjoying all the company too much!

Overall, the trip was very good.  Networking, learning, pooling, team building… a nice time had by all.

I got home about 1am Thursday morning and then boarded another flight that afternoon to go back to STL.  This trip had been planned for some time.  Angela and I decided to run The Color Run together again.  We had a lot of fun doing it a couple years ago and it was a good reason to get home (not knowing I was going to be home just a couple weeks ago to check in on a failing health grandpa).  I got to the Lou late Thursday night, had a drink at the cocktail bar and put myself to bed.  Friday morning was up to meet Ex Hubs at Forest Park for the 6 mile loop (which is basically just a walk in the park to him these days with his ultra high mileage… see what I did there – walk in the park?!)  I cleaned up, went to check in on Grandpa and Grandma.  Grandpa was transferred to a nursing facility just Thursday night after 31 days in the hospital.  Which means he showed enough improvement to be transferred, but it’s still not good.  And I still can’t really talk about that.  I left a few hours later to pick up race packets, pick up groceries and head to my favorite family, the Hamptons.  I always love hanging out with them, cooking with the kids, and just generally feeling happy and at home.  It was make your own pizza night that night – I picked up all kinds of interesting pizza toppings – from traditional pepperoni to pear and arugula.  We cooked some in the oven, we grilled some, and all were accompanied by some of Mr. H’s home brews.  Perfect.

The day wasn’t done yet!  I left just in time to get back downtown where I was meeting Angela at the hotel I was staying in and we had a little slumber party the night before the run.  We chatted and caught up and had a low key morning planned for the low key Color Run.

Before....

Before….

After...

After…

Before...

Before…

After...

After…

Always fun!

Always fun!

This year’s Color Run included GLITTER!  And if I learned anything from a certain history timeline project in 10th grade, it’s that glitter is forever.  It is absolutely still in my hair.  Part of the back of my arm is absolutely still blue.  I’m just about to hop in the shower and make some more progress in de-Smurfing myself.

Angela and I did our best to clean up (the first of a few showers) and grabbed an amazing brunch.  I met up with Claire for ice cream and then headed to my sister’s to hang out with this baby.

So cute.

So cute.

She has a Fisher Price doctor’s kit that comes with a fake scalpel.  We were playing with all the pieces in it the kit, Ave would hand me one and I would look in her ears, or put on the stethoscope, but every time she handed me the scalpel, I pretended it was a phone.  I was just a little weirded out by that.

I left early this morning, was back home by noon and crashed.  Had intentions to do stuff.  Did not do stuff.  I can hardly believe tomorrow is Monday.  Alas, it is and prepare for it I must.

The IRS is harshing my buzz

I went to a new restaurant for happy hour/dinner with Peter tonight.  While I have been fairly loyal to Bakersfield for all my taco and margarita needs, Condado has shown me that I might need to spread the love around a little.  Delicious blood orange margarita.  Delicious blackberry margarita.  Delicious tacos.  (Do you see a theme?)  I came home with a happy little buzz from happy hour which quickly fizzled when I got the mail.

The IRS has changed their mind and does not think I paid enough in taxes in 2013.  So I have to either accept their assessment or fill out an amended tax return.  I do not accept their assessment.  Amended tax return here I come.  It’s made me hunt for a couple of documents that I don’t have copies of any longer which has sent me on a bit of a personal goose chase.

In the same vein, I got a renewal notice for the website I created when I thought I’d make a legitimate go at independent consulting or workshop facilitation.  I suppose it’s time to let that site go.  I’m not doing any of that work, don’t intend to do any of that work.  Even though every time I hear some other speaker I think – I could do that!!!!  Sarah Speaks was a Plan B a couple years ago.  But it’s not anything I put attention to right now.  Time to let it go.

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Over the tacos and margaritas there was a conversation about mindfulness and being present this year.  The theme that keeps presenting itself to me.  I think being in the moment would tell me to let go of an old Plan B.  Although the IRS might tell me to stay diversified.  Decisions, decisions…

7 miles

I’m really close to my grandparents.  Lucky that I’ve always had a great relationship with them.  My grandfather has been in the hospital for the last three weeks.  It’s been up and down, but I thought we were on the road to recovery until I talked to my mom last Thursday.  He’s getting worse, she said, I don’t know that he’ll be here in two weeks.  I booked a plane ticket for the next morning and started preparing myself for life after Grandpa.

I went to the hospital as soon as I landed.  Met grandma and heard from doctors, saw my uncle and cousin who stopped in.  He’s still alive, this isn’t a post about him being gone.  And it isn’t a post about how completely undignified the process of dying can be.  I’m not ready to do all of that yet.

Saturday night, after two days of family and hospital, I met up with Ex Hubs to go for a walk in Tower Grove Park.  He kindly let the first mile be about grandpa and the undignified dying process.  The next six (yes, six) miles were about everything else there is to talk about.

I read a study once that said if you wanted to have a talk with someone about difficult topics get in a car.  There’s something about both parties facing forward and not each other, mild distractions with scenery going by, etc that make it easier for people to talk.  It was effective with parent/child relationships.  I assume walking through parks and neighborhoods can be the equivalent?  Moving forward, people in the park to watch, neighborhood scenery to take in, pretty blooming trees to stop and smell… it makes it easy to talk about work and umbrellas and family and money and sex (or lack thereof) and travel and logos built right into the squishy path.

I’ve been looking for a shot of inspiration for some time now.  I just don’t know what the next big thing is.  And I still don’t.  But, what I found myself susceptible to Sunday afternoon when I got home was music.  Specifically, music from the tv show that went off the air last year – Smash.  It had popped up in my hulu feed and I remembered liking the music from the alternate musical they created in the show (not the Marilyn musical, the indie one – Hit List.)  I watched an episode or two that featured that music and then downloaded the album.  And the music is talking to me.  It’s telling me to sing along.  Literally – that’s not a metaphor.  I’ve been singing around my house for days now.

The Actor’s Fund is staging the Marilyn musical from that show as a musical/concert in New York City in June.  Tickets go on sale next week.  There was a kickstarter campaign to fund the show since they want all the ticket proceeds to go to the charity.  They raised 6x the amount of money they needed.  I have a hunch tickets are going to go fast and for a lot of money.  That won’t stop me from just seeing how much they are…

Sigh.  I have no point tonight.  I’m not ready to talk about the grandpa stuff.  I’m in the most optimistic place I’ve been in for a while about my next steps.  I don’t know what they are, but I might be on the right track.  it just took 7 miles to find that track.

The “Friends” Existential Crisis

More than a decade ago, before we had a name for binge watching, I had my first binge watching episode with Sports Night.  I spent a three day weekend watching the entire two season series and I emerged with what I have often referred to as my Sports Night epiphany.  (Fun fact, I found the journal where the SNE was documented while cleaning up my basement a couple weekends ago.  Still holds up.)

Last night, fueled by too much brandy from a cocktail party, too many screens in my bedroom, and some general work stress – I was wide awake at 4am having an existential crisis.  Now, it’s probably not as serious as all that, but it seems right to follow up the epiphany with something of more magnitude.

In 2005, Ex Hubs and I watched all 10 seasons of FRIENDS on DVD.  We started in September and finished on New Years Eve.  Took us a little over three months.  Amatuers. A couple weeks ago I started watching FRIENDS on Netflix.  Last night, as I crawled into bed with my ipad, I realized I was finishing season 5.  How was I getting through them so fast?  Hence, the crisis.

I can get through them so fast because it’s always around.  Getting ready in the morning I like noise, so I flip it on.  Making dinner I have my ipad or laptop on the counter.  Sitting around at night, it’s on.  Walking on the treadmill, it’s on.  Usually I would text Ex Hubs our favorite lines, but I was afraid of admitting how far I was.  He’d know what season I was in!  (Clearly, the secrets out now, judge away Ex Hubs.)  Back in 2005, there was someone to have a conversation with at home, I was learning to quilt, I was knitting hats, I occasionally worked late.  I do a lot of those things now, but with the ipad nearby.

I’ve thought about how glad I am to not have all the technology and social media while I was in high school or college.  I’ve thought about how different kids today will interact with each other and the world because of it.  I’ve thought about how it’s changing some work habits for the better.  It wasn’t until this morning at 4am that I realized how it’s impacting me right now.  The constant companion of mindless tv banter might be turning my brain to mush.  At 4am I started writing all of these ideas and things to change, things to be more aware of… lots of brandy and FRIENDS fueled self-actualization.  I fell asleep and woke up a couple more times – having strange dreams both times – before finally getting out of bed around 8:30 to get to the grocery for brunch ingredients.

Here in the bright light of day, it’s not so bad.  I mean, again, it’s not really a crisis (but who am I if not a person with a flair for the dramatic).  Although it seemed very urgent at 4am.  Make Changes, Sarah!!  Start with drinking less brandy, Sarah!!

In other news, a story from the grocery store provides me some hope.  Waking up later than I expected due to above stated existential (not really) crisis, means I didn’t have time to go across town to the good grocery store and needed to deal with my kinda ghetto Kroger instead.  The only thing I was worried about is they may not have was prosciutto – a key ingredient in the prosciutto egg cups I was planning.  And, as I feared – no prosciutto.  It’s not long ago that something like that would have thrown me into a fairly significant state of stress.  I would have had to have my menu and the presentation perfect, I would have risked cooking timelines to run across town to get the prosciutto to then spend the rest of the morning worrying if I had enough time to finish everything the way I liked.  You know what I did this morning?  Shrugged and came up with plan B.  I said to myself, “Self, you can get a crust and make a quiche, or I’m pretty sure regular bacon can be substituted in the prosciutto egg cup plan.”  And you know what?  Regular bacon worked just fine.  My timelines were in tact.  And brunch with friends is more about the 2nd part than the 1st.  Friends.  Not the tv kind, but the kind who come over, assemble a good chunk of the puzzle you’ve had sitting out for almost a month, talk about tattoos and grandparents and make you watch Taylor Swift videos, which are delightful.

A tour of NE Ohio

Come on a little trip with me, ok?

I left my house Friday around 2:30 to head up to the Cleve.

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I was attending this BGSU alumni event.  My old grad school coordinator said there were a few people he’d like me to meet, plus this was a well connected group of alumni.  In my plan for world domination, networking with the good alum is an important step.  The host of our evening was the CFO of the Cleveland Port Authority.  As part of his hosting, he gave us a presentation on what the Port Authority does, what they’re responsible for, how they operate and it was really interesting.

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After the alumni event, I took myself out to dinner.  I’m such a good date.  I was thinking about going to one of the ole Cleveland standbys, Greenhouse Tavern or Lolita, but it’s time to try new things.  I found a restaurant that looked right up my alley – Spice Kitchen & Bar.  I had a delicious homemade pappardelle pasta and a blood orange cocktail.  I had dinner at the bar, and towards the middle of my dinner a man sat next to me.  Turns out he’s on the board of this restaurant (which also does catering and has a farm) and he was waxing poetic about this new kind of liqueur that was in out of a distillery here in Columbus.  It’s an after dinner drink, a black walnut liqueur called Nocino.  He asked the bartender to give me a sample too.  It’s always fun to talk food and cocktails with people who love food and cocktails.  And local ones at that! He left shortly after and I continued to enjoy my dinner.

I headed back to my hotel after that to get a good night sleep because I had plans for the next morning.  I was planning to get up kind of early and go for a run in downtown Cleveland before heading to Mill Creek Park for hiking.  I had a path all mapped out that took me by all the stadiums.  Then I woke up at 2:30am and didn’t get back to sleep until sometime after 5:30am.  I watched an entire movie and several tv episodes.  When I woke up again at 8:45am, I regrouped on the plan.

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 5.06.28 PMAfter so many recommendations to try Lucky’s Cafe, I finally got there.  It did not disappoint.  I had the Lucky Latte which is sweetened with honey and it was awesome.  I would have never thought about honey in coffee.  Mmmm.  I was intending to order some kind of pancake dish, but they still had gingerbread pancakes.  That was not going to work with my spring focus.  So, I went outside my standard order and got these amazing biscuits and gravy.

Cheddar biscuits, soft scrambled eggs, sausage gravy.  I could barely eat half of it.  It was incredibly delicious.

Cheddar biscuits, soft scrambled eggs, sausage gravy. I could barely eat half of it. It was incredibly delicious.

That breakfast provided plenty of fuel for the next part of the day – hiking!

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Months ago I started following this Facebook page called Only in Ohio.  There was a picture of this mill around Christmas.  It was all covered in snow.  I decided I wanted to visit that mill.  When I decided to go to Cleveland for this alumni event, it seemed like the right time to make the trip over.  Mill Creek park is pretty big, I found the closest parking lot to the actual Mill and set off on my way.

You see the mill almost immediately.

You see the mill almost immediately.

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It isn’t open to touring until summer, but you can walk around.  Then I headed off on the trail in search of the Cinderella suspension bridge, which I knew was about a mile from the mill.

I walked the wrong way for about half a mile.  But it was beautiful, so no big deal.  I turned around and headed back past the mill in the other direction.

I was just starting to worry maybe I had gotten directions wrong again - when I saw it!

I was just starting to worry maybe I had gotten directions wrong again – when I saw it!

Nicknamed the Cinderella Bridge because of the spires and scrolls.

Nicknamed the Cinderella Bridge because of the spires and scrolls.

On the other side of the bridge were these stairs to nowhere.  Just mossy rocks.  But they were fun to climb!

On the other side of the bridge were these stairs to nowhere. Just mossy rocks. But they were fun to climb!

In front of mossy rocks.

In front of mossy rocks.

When I crossed the bridge I thought I’d take the trail on the other side of the creek back to the mill and my car.  This turns out to be a bad idea.

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Much of that (narrow) trail is covered in ice.

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And the trail doesn’t have any space between it and the edge of the cliff leading down to the creek.   This led for some very perilous walking for a while.  When I could I stayed as far as I could to the outside edge, but that wasn’t always an option.  Eventually, the trail (still icy) veers further away from the edge and I start to relax.  I even say outloud to myself, okay – now you can fall.

30 steps later I fell.  Landed hard on my right hip/thigh.  I can’t even be mad about it because I’m just so grateful I didn’t fall into the creek.

Once I was in the clear, I enjoyed the rest of the trail back and got in the car.

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And then I came home.  I listened to an audio book so the drive time was well spent.  My hip and knee are kind of sore, so I’m icing those.  The sun just came out and it’s a pretty night in Columbus.  Overall, a very good 26 hours in Northeast Ohio.

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Bookmarks

I read (and write) far less blogs than I did in years past.  But one I stay connected with is Iowa Girl Eats, and mostly for her Friday Favorites posts.  I have gone on more than one clicking rabbit hole adventure because of stuff she’s posted.  Often it’s lifestyle related, but you never know.

Yesterday I was looking for a website that I had bookmarked to discover I have more than 200 bookmarks.  This prompted me to start thinking I need a better way to catalog the things I’m bookmarking, but that’s another post.  It also prompted me to share some of the things I have felt were worth keeping.

This article on how we introduce people.  I’ve introduced a few people recently – some social, some business – and often over email.  I’m careful to talk about why I think they’re great instead of lead with what they do.  My friend Chris (who I was introducing to a mutual friend who lives in his city) replied after I sent the intro email and asked if I would follow him around and always introduce him after that.

This recipe for a six layer salted caramel chocolate cake.  I’ve never made this, but is there any question why I’m holding on to the recipe?  Although – it taunts me with making caramel.  The culinary task I fail every time.  I just tried again for my Oscar party with disastrous results.

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This how to guide on incorporating Evernote into your life.  I think that’s where I’m headed with the bookmark organization.  I loved Evernote during grad school.  I really like the idea of creating a one place online filing system.

This site that has pretty underwear.  I’ve always been a fan of pretty underwear.

EBEB718R_shell_PD

This baby knit hat pattern.  I made my niece a hat for Christmas.  It did not turn out exactly right.  I didn’t use a pattern, thinking, I know how to make a hat!  And I do.  But my best guess for how big a baby head is was allll kinds of wrong.  The hat is way too big (length wise – I got the circumference right – just saying).  I’ll have to try again, and I bookmark these patterns for a reason!

puffin-booties-hat

 This idea for making individual pies in jars!  I’ve had this one around since 2009.  Still have not made it.  Clearly the bookmarks are just an early version of the pinterest ideas I’m not doing anything with.  What is it I’m doing with my time if not making pies in jars?

pie in jar

This website that is a collection of beautiful things in design.  Web design, menu design, calendar design.  It is a total rabbit hole of more clicking.  Beware.

This journal prompt – 30 days of lists.  An easy writing prompt for each day.

This cocktail recipe for a Cherry Whiskey Smash.  Since my friend Becky’s homebrewed cherry whiskey is my most favorite beverage, but also one I can only get in limited supply, this cocktail recipe should get me through when I’m out of the good stuff.

CherrySmash-2And there you have it.  Some of the things that will make it through the bookmark purge.  Happy Friday.