Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Scene In Which I Go Skiing and Other Winter Tales

Last week, Cute Boy had MLK, Jr. day off from work and decided it was time to do something fun.

Now, remember, Cute Boy is Canadian, so naturally his idea of fun is to throw on a significant amount of clothing and go do something weird in freezing cold conditions, like run around on ice with blades attached to your boots while you attempt to maim your fellow man with large blocks of rubber propelled by sticks and the occasional punch to the groin, nose or head- i.e.; hockey.

My idea of fun usually involves less cold and/or violence, but because I've been working on this "trying new things" thing, we decided to go skiing.

Or rather, we decided that Cute Boy would go skiing, and I would attempt to learn how to go skiing.

Cute Boy's sister decided to come along for the ride, namely because she was at risk of her Canadian citizenship being revoked as she hadn't been skiing in a number of years.

We donned (or, you know, stopped to purchase and THEN donned) our respective layers of ski clothes. In my case, I was looking to fill two objectives: 1)Insulation; 2)Padding. Therefore my clothing of choice included knee-high socks, padded hiking winter socks, hot pink long underwear leggings, sweatpants, waterproof ski pants, a patagonia level-3 shirt, a thin-cotton turtleneck, a thick-cotton turtleneck, my down coat, a hat, and fingerless mittens to wear under ski gloves borrowed from Cute Boy.

Remember that scene from "A Christmas Story" where the kid gets all bundled up by his mom and then starts freaking out and she unwraps the muffler and he goes, "I can't put my arms down!" and she tells him to put his arms down when he gets to school and wraps him back up?


We arrived at Perfect North, rented our equipment, and suited up in a reasonable amount of time, considering it was difficult for me to tell the difference between a right boot and a left boot, not to mention requiring a lesson in both putting on skis and putting on your other ski glove when you've already got one on.

Then we hit the slopes.

Or rather, the bunny slope.

Despite the sign warning "Friends don't let friends teach them how to ski," I was fairly confident in Cute Boy's ability to teach me the basics- my only concern was how quickly he'd become frustrated with my frequently anticipated falls.

I'll spare you the story of my three successful runs down the ridiculously steep sheet of ice they called a run gently sloping bunny hill, except to say that there were waaaay too many people on it for the fact that most people there don't know how to ski yet and seriously? I do not like being passed by 5-year olds.

Following the bunny hills we ventured to a higher start point on the bunny hill, and after one run of that, Cute Boy and Cute Boy Sister decided I was ready to go up on a lift.

Ummmmm, I'm not sure about this......

We went up the lift.

To everyone's surprise, especially mine, I was halfway decent at skiing! The hill we chose was fairly gentle and sloping, and my first "real run" was a success, despite one or two falls. Basically, I was having trouble turning on my left side, and would panic when I couldn't turn as fast as I wanted to. With the option of slowing down via tree or slowing down via snow skid, I was opting for the snow skids and sort of "control falling" as I worked on learning to stop.

Whatever, they're MY falls and I'll justify them any way I want.

After a couple runs down the nice hill, CB and CBS decided I was ready for my next challenge- another hill that was "just a liiiiittle bit steeper." What the heck! I was ready!

I was not ready.

I SOOOO was not ready.

To give you an idea of how not ready I was, the hill consisted of two parts: first, a steeper hill that ran about 50 yards or so before depositing you on a plateau, after which you went down the larger, slightly less steep hill.

Number of falls on the first part? At least three.

I should have learned my lesson from that much but noooooo, I tackled the run.

It wasn't pretty.

I was laughing/crying/trying not to die too much to remember all the details, but I'm pretty sure I fell at least twice in less than 5 feet, I think several other skiiers nearly ran me down, I know that on several occasions Cute Boy had to stand in front of me to help me get up, and I think my finest moment was somewhere around halfway down when I sat down in the snow after a fall, threw my poles about a foot in either direction, and announced to everyone within 50 yards that I was NOT. HAVING. FUN. ANYMORE.

I'm not sure how we finally made it down, but it was at this point that I wanted/needed/demanded a break, so while CB and CBS went on a few more runs, I headed into the lodge for a simultaneous cool-down and warm-up.

I'm pleased to say that after regrouping, I did put my skis back on and head back out for a few more runs (though no more down the Hill O'Death.) Sadly, I missed accomplishing my goal of skiing an entire run without falling by the narrowest of margins and by the misfortune of winding up skiing next to some shithead 16-year old kid who wouldn't get off my butt and let me do my "swishy S's" across the run and sent me plunging into my last fall of the day (punk).

At least I left with my pride....if not a bruise on my butt that would stay with me for a week or so afterwards. But despite the number of falls I took, I'm actually looking forward to going again!!

Little did we know that skiing day would lead to a most pleasant run of January weather, during which even I (aka the coldest person on the face of Earth) ventured outdoors in just a sweater and scarf. Sadly, this weather came to a screeching halt two days ago, and despite the fact that I enjoyed the gorgeous sun today, HOLY MOTHER it is cold out there. Poor Finnigan froze his paws three times on our requisite "walk" around the block- which today was more like a sprint, given that it was one of those days where your snot kinda freezes in your nose when you breathe.

Have I mentioned we booked our tickets for Florida in March yet? We did. I can't freaking wait.

Have I mentioned that we went to Toronto over New Year's? We did. It was awesome. I had the best time seeing the sites, drinking Tim Horton's, and hanging out with some of Cute Boy's friends and I am really really looking forward to going back in the summer when it isn't 4 degrees out.

We also spent a hilarious night with some friends last weekend where I continued the "trying things that I don't think I'll be good at and thereby don't try so I won't be embarrassed" trend, by playing both Sing Star and Wii Bowling and OH MY GOODNESS, I love me some Sing Star and some Wii Bowling. I am already pumped for a rematch of Sing Star with some of the girls and can't wait until Cute Boy wants to play Wii Bowling with me.

In other winter tales, I have been asked to participate in the "Super Knits for Super Bowl" project, in which myself and other Indianapolis-based knitters will be making nearly 8,000 blue-and-white scarves for 2010 Super Bowl Volunteers to wear while they help out with the big event! I'll keep you posted on my scarves and how they turn out......that is, of course, if the NFL doesn't wind up with a lockout season. Apparently we're in danger of that (though this could have been resolved since Cute Boy told me about it last week- since let's be honest, I would be clueless if he hadn't explained it.)

And in final winter news, I've spent several of these cold dark days looking at studio spaces for my home business to be, well, not a home business in anymore! Yes, fans, the dream has come true and we are officially calling the experiment of quitting my job to do "this flower thing" a success. Keep checking back for more info when I find a space- I'm sure there will be lots of fun opportunities for me to battle inanimate objects as I work to paint, build, move and otherwise set up a new studio!

Hope Old Man Winter is treating you well, and let's all hope the groundhog does whatever he's supposed to next week so that we don't wind up with more winter!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Scene In Which We Give To Haiti....And Everywhere Else Too.

In the wake of the Haiti earthquake, a friend of mine posted an interesting question about why people give to emergency needs, but fail to give locally.

Simply put? It may just be easier.

Even though our generation is only in its 20s and 30s now, it is never too early (or too late!) to start giving to charitable organizations. However, many people often feel overwhelmed with multiple requests for funds- these days, it seems like EVERYONE needs money. And when we face emergency situations, such as the situation in Haiti, people give because the opportunities to do so are prevalent and easy.

So though absolutely no one asked for my opinion, I decided to share it anyway.

Here's my Plan for Successful Philanthropy:

First of all, get out all your donation receipts from last year. Didn't make any donations? Think of some places you'd like to donate to- based on causes that you care about.

Step 2: Make a list of all the places you gave to and the reason why. Then, separate these into categories of organizations.

For example, here's mine:

My College- Because I attended it.
A Scholarship at My College- Because it is in honor of a friend of mine who died, and I want to give to support his memory.

Dance Kaleidoscope- A great company I enjoy
The AIDS Fund- A cause I care about and volunteer for
Historic Landmarks Foundation- Another cause I care about with my house being historic
Planned Parenthood of Indiana- I support their education mission

Paralyzed Veterans of America- I give to this because members of my family have served, and because several of us give to this org (This is what "Legacy Giving" is- giving b/c your family does).
Heifer Project- I give to this on behalf of my family at the holidays (this is Honor Giving)

Indianapolis Zoo- Conservation work
Indianapolis Humane Society- Local work to rescue animals
Humane Society of the United States- National work to rescue animals

This is the category that things like "Haiti Earthquake" falls under. Did I expect to give to this fund this year? Nope. Will I give to it next year? Hopefully their won't be a need. However, putting funds under this header allows me to respond in an emergency.

Step 3: Write the amount you gave last year and add it up. (If you didn't give, skip).

Step 4: Choose a percentage of your income to give, or decide on a set amount based on past giving. If you're new to giving or don't make much money, try starting with figuring out just 2% of your annual income. You'd be surprised how much that is- and how far organizations can stretch that donation! Or, consider what skipping a night out could do- save that $60 you'd spend on dinner and a movie once per month, and you can give $720 this year.

Step 5: Prioritize your list and assign an approximate gift amount to each. Write that amount down. Then, when you actually make the gift, write down the real amount as well. Sometimes things happen and you can't give what you thought you might. Keep a ledger year-to-year of where your giving is going.

Step 6: Give!!

Step 7: Keep those donation letters for tax write-offs.

Above all, DON'T FEEL BAD about giving to some organizations and not others- the important thing is to give to causes that are important to you. Just make sure you GIVE! :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Scene In Which I Resolve Not To Resolve.

Every year, it seems, Americans go a little nuts when Dick Clark drops the big ball and we start writing (or at least trying to remember to write) a new year on all of our checks. Because after the confetti hits the ground, we start thinking of all the little things we want to resolve to do in the new year.

We resolve to diet more.

We resolve to exercise more.

We resolve to clean our houses.

We resolve to clean our closets.

We resolve to stop smoking. To stop eating crappy food. To get out more. To stay in more. To do more. To do less. To say more. To say less. To do this or that or not to do this or that. TO CHANGE.

I hate resolutions, and here's why: when you've got to resolve to DO something you haven't already been doing, the reason for that is probably because whatever it is you want to be doing SUCKS.

And it probably sucks because, like so many, we don't really understand the what, how or why in actually reinforcing those behaviors.

So I'm not making a resolution this year.

Instead, I'm creating a belief statement, based on things I feel I can improve, maintain, or decrease in my current life. A belief statement, because unlike a resolution to change, I BELIEVE I can do these things.

For example, I BELIEVE I will continue to live a caffeine-free lifestyle in 2010. I BELIEVE in the health benefits and the better quality of life I have experienced since ditching the soda and coffee in 2009. I BELIEVE that I will continue to exercise on a regular basis and I BELIEVE that I am capable of exercising at least three times per week. I BELIEVE I will continue to make reasonably healthy food choices and I BELIEVE that I am capable of cooking more, and eating out less.I BELIEVE I am capable of sustaining my relationships with friends and family by spending quality (not quantity) time with the people I love. I BELIEVE I will continue to give of my time, energy and funds to causes that I feel better the planet. I BELIEVE I will keep my house organized and I BELIEVE that a big part of that will be when I open a studio outside the house for my biz, which I BELIEVE I will be doing in the early part of the year, and I BELIEVE that that business will have a successful year and bill over a certain amount in product and services (but I'm keepin' that number to myself, thanks!).

I'm not saying it's a foolproof system, but I have to think that when you can wake up in the morning and believe that you are capable of living the life you want, you've got a better chance for success than waking up and thinking of all the things you've resolved to change.

Or maybe I'm just a wellness-seeking, flower-making, knitting-loving, crazy hippie :) Regardless, I wish you much success in making 2010 whatever you want it to be!