Day 18: 30 Day Nature Challenge


Trees in the fall remind us that in order to make room to grow, we first have to slow down and let go. They shed their leaves and brace themselves for calmer days and nights come winter, until they bloom again in the spring, ready to show off their gorgeous canopies. After a roller coaster of a year, this month has been a pleasant surprise, full of wonder and opportunity. Challenges, yes, and some of my friends are going through some difficult times, too, but as I glance up in the sky and pause, I also take a moment to reflect on the good around us. I'm grateful for my friends who've been amazing and supportive, and who continue to share their good fortunes with me. I'm happy to live in a city that is robust and rich, despite its frustrations. I love my family, quirky as they are. Today is a good day. I'm really ready for fall.

Day 1: 30 Days of Nature

Trees are my favorite plants. Day 1 of 30. #30DayNatureChallenge

Trees are my favorite plants. Day 1 of 30. #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). ☺️

Fall Reflection and Operation 2019

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.

Operation 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?