My morning walk greeted me with these beautiful sunflowers 🌻 along the route. #30DayNatureChallenge
No one will argue the meditative effect time spent in nature has on our psyche. As I welcome September and, soon, the autumnal equinox on September 23, I can’t help but feel sadness that my lush garden will go away and the beautiful trees will lose their leaves and go into hibernation for the winter.
I’ve spent a lot of time outdoors this year, in my urban garden harvesting pounds of delicious tomatoes from my nine tomato plants, hiking the trails in Portland, Oregon, and taking my dog Scout on really long walks. I’ve continued to journal every single day since my birthday last year in August, taking time to reflect on my days and what matters most to me.
I’m going to miss the warmer weather and as much as love my sweaters and boots, or my hands wrapped around a hot cup of coffee as I cozy up with a good book and warm blanket, I’m trying to figure out how to bring as much of the outdoors inside this winter season. I realize how much nature nurtures my soul and I need it.
So this month, I’ve decided to try a 30-day challenge by posting a nature photo each day on my blog. I’m not sure if I can do it for 30 straight days, but here goes. Maybe the images will bring me joy when we’re in the heart of winter and I start plotting my escape from the cold clutches of Chicago’s unforgiving cold days and nights. It’s worth a shot (pun intended). ☺️
My artist date streak continued this week, week 5, with an exploration of the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Chicago’s west side. I’m in this neighborhood every week but I never venture too far from where I need to be. This week, though, I decided to take a detour. As I wandered down 1000 N. California, I stumbled upon this large-scale mural on the side of a building. Turns out it’s by a Chicago visual artist named Jason Brammer. His storefront studio is in this building.
If you follow my Instagram account, you may notice that I love any type of art, but especially public art. One of the reasons I love Chicago is because there is so much art around this city, from large sculptures in parks to murals beneath viaducts. Sometimes we just need to take a moment to let us see what’s in front of us rather than constantly rushing or allowing ourselves to be distracted.
Thank you, Jason, for making our city a bit more beautiful for us.
This week I took a little detour as part of my artist date. I tacked it onto a client meeting I had in the Loop and decided to go a bit earlier so I could stop and really enjoy the Marc Chagall mosaic located in Chase Tower Plaza. The piece is called Four Seasons and since I come to it from the east side since that’s where I get off the subway, I rarely ever have the chance to walk around the entire thing and just take it in. I intentionally gave myself extra time so I could enjoy all four seasons, like we have in Chicago. It was such a lovely experience, just to sit and look at the piece on the west side as well as the north and side sections. It helped that it was a gorgeous day so many people were out and enjoying the weather and their company.
After my meeting, as I rushed to grab the train back since I had plans that afternoon, I decided to pause and walk into St Peter’s Church on Madison. In all the years I’ve lived in Chicago and worked downtown and trekked into the Loop for client meetings and passed this church, I’ve never once walked inside. Granted, I’m not Catholic so that may be one reason since it’s a Catholic church. Still, I craved the solace and my daily morning meditation has helped to remind me of the importance of slowing down so I figured, why not…I’m going to walk inside.
I guess I wasn’t the only one who needed the solace and quiet from the busy-ness of life. While I wouldn’t say it was packed, for a Thursday afternoon, there had to be at least a good 30 people in the pews. The church is massive and beautiful. Marble statues, rows of wooden pews, candles lit, it really felt so calming. I left feeling not as rushed or anxious and it was a lovely feeling.
As I’m writing this post on a Sunday morning, the trees are doing a little dance outside since it’s so windy. The last of the leaves that haven’t fallen yet are barely holding on. Do we bother to rake today or wait one more week until all the trees are bare?
Fall in Chicago is my second favorite season (spring is my first love) because it represents hibernation and reflection for me. The frenetic pace of summer comes to a still. The colder weather invites warm blankets, hot tea and cuddling with a warm book. Or more intimate gatherings with friends around hot cocoa or going together to hear author readings.
It’s also a time for me to review what went well through the year, what kind of work I really enjoyed doing, what I didn’t, and what I need to do before the end of this fiscal year since I still have seven weeks. It’s also an opportunity to set up the kind of work I want to be doing in 2019.
What I’ve realized through this introspection is that I really enjoy working in the environment, sustainability and social justice space. I also love all things food and culture, including everything from architecture, design and history to museums and cultural events. Finally, I also really enjoy teaching. As this latest course I’m teaching at Johns Hopkins University nears the end, I’m reminded at how much my students are really working their butts off to complete the material in the class in addition to working full time or raising families. Next month, I’ll be teaching a new class at University of Chicago’s Graham School on how to prepare and deliver strong visual presentations.
Now my goal is to find clients and editors in those spaces. Operation 2019 has begun! Got any ideas of who to reach? Let me know. Sometimes we forget the obvious.
Podcasts I’m Enjoying Right Now
I’m a bit of a podcast junkie. I edit my podcast library pretty regularly because I want to have a tight and curated list. In addition to #AmWriting, HowSound, and GrottoPod, three podcasts I’ve been listening to for over a year, I’ve added the following to my rotation these last couple of months:
· Hurry Slowly: a podcast on the importance of thinking through what you’re doing rather than just reacting or doing something for the sake of doing it.
· WTF Just Happened: thanks for the recommendation, Shannan! If you don’t want to be sucked into the black hole that is online news, this podcast is a nice and quick overview of what’s happening around the world.
· On Background: similar to WTF Just Happened, this one is focused on the backstory of what’s making headline news in the Chicagoland area. I’d call it beyond the news behind the soundbite…
· The City by USA Today: and similar to On Background, The City is an investigative podcast on what’s behind the six stories of rubble on Chicago’s west side. Although it’s not really about the rubble. The story is about corruption, environmental racism and incompetence when it comes to our so-called elected leaders.
· Last Scene: a riveting series talking about the most valuable and puzzling art heist in history: 13 artworks stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and 28 years later, the mystery of who stole the pieces has not been solved.
· The Dream: have someone who is part of the multi-level marketing world? This podcast digs into the model and why it works for the top few at the expense of the thousands of others who almost always lose money. What’s the attraction and why do so many people fall prey, knowing the odds are stacked against them?