Why You Should Visit Slovenia

In 2019, I booked a trip with Trafalgar to visit Croatia. It was their “Best of Croatia and Slovenia” tour. I had wanted to go to Croatia for a while but I would always get overwhelmed when trying to plan so I kept pushing it off. This tour seemed like the perfect compromise. It also included Slovenia, a country I did not know anything about. I didn’t do much research about it before I left either, figuring I would learn about it along the way. Turns out, Slovenia is incredibly beautiful with wonderful people. It ended up being one of my favorite parts of the two week trip. I highly recommend visiting Slovenia when you have a chance. Here are the reasons I think why you should visit Slovenia.

But First, Some Slovenian Facts

Slovenia is located in Central Europe and is bordered by Italy, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and the Adriatic Sea. It covers approximately 7,800 square miles and has a population of two million people. It has a mostly mountainous terrain. Slovenia was the first republic to split from Yugoslavia in 1991. It is now a parliamentary republic. Slovenia is a member nation of the EU, United Nations and NATO. Its capital and largest city is Ljubjana.

On the “famous people” front, the current First Lady of the USA is from Slovenia.

The Reasons Why You Should Visit Slovenia

It is not completely overrun with tourists (yet!).

Yes, of course there are many tourists in Slovenia, many of them part of a tour of Croatia like me. But unlike some other places I have visited in Europe, it did not feel like Slovenia was being overwhelmed by tourists.

I was able to walk around Ljubljana without feeling crowded. I snagged a table at a highly recommended restaurant in Bled without a reservation. Getting decent photos of Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj without a ton of people in the background was a breeze.

The only time it felt like there were a lot of people around was when we visited the island in the middle of Lake Bled. But it’s a small island and it’s popular. So it is to be expected.

I Felt Very Safe as a Female Solo Traveler

While I visited Slovenia as part of an organized tour, I spent much of my time exploring the area on my own and I never felt unsafe.

On our second night in Bled, I skipped the organized dinner and instead walked to Penzion Berc, a local hotel with a restaurant that was highly rated on Yelp and in Rick Steves’ Croatia and Slovenia travel guide. I went alone. I was able to eat at a table outside, where I had a delicious meal of lamb chops with creme brulee (my favorite!) for dessert. The food was very good but the thing I remember most about this meal was that I had a glass of wine with dinner but declined another one because I didn’t want to end up with a $100 dinner bill that night. It turns out, the wine, which was also very good, was only four euros a glass! If I has known that, I would have had another one for sure! Ha!

My goal was to be back to the hotel before dark but it didn’t happen. It also turns out that Bled does not have any street lights in town, probably to cut down on environmental pollution, which I understand. It did make walking back to my hotel a bit of an adventure though. Luckily, I had my cell phone and was able to use the flashlight on it to guide me along. Once I made it back to the hotel, I decided to enjoy the beautiful evening and found a bench along the lake behind the hotel and sat out there for an hour or so before turning in for the night. It was so calming and pleasant. It was perfect for a solo female traveler.

Lamb Chops in Slovenia
Lamb Chops from Penzion Berc in Bled, Slovenia
Creme Brulee – Yum!

Ljubljana is a Great European Capitol

Ljubljana is Slovenia’s capital and largest city. It has a population of about 300,000 people. It is known for its university population and green spaces, including Tivoli Park. The Ljublianica River, lined with outdoor cafes, divides the city’s old town from its commercial hub.

We spent a few hours in Ljubljana and I believe it is worth a visit. It is small and therefore, easy to explore by foot. I don’t think you need to spend more than a day in Ljubljana. I spent my time walking along the river and the city center, popping into shops that looked interesting and admiring the architecture as I went. Eventually, I got an ice cream cone and found a spot in the shade to sit and people watch for a while.

One building I kept admiring was the Ljubljana Castle. The castle is perched on top of Castle Hill and it overlooks the city. Archaeologists believe that the area of the present castle has been continuously settled since 1200 BC.

The castle’s role has changed numerous times since its first mention around 1120. Aside from tourism, the castle now is used for weddings and cultural events.

Reasons to visit Slovenia
Ljubljana Castle
One of the buildings surrounding the city center in LjubLjana.
Ljubljana River
A selfie with the Ljubljana River in the background.

Lake Bled

Lake Bled is probably the most well known area in Slovenia and is probably the reason that many people choose to visit Slovenia. Bled was our home base for the two nights we spent in Slovenia. We slayed along Lake Bled in the Hotel Park.  When we stayed there, I would say it was adequate. It was definitely not fancy but the location along the lake was perfect. I did see as I was looking the hotel up to link in this post that it is being renovated so it may be wonderful after it is redone.

The lake surrounds Bled Island, which can be accessed by taking one of the wooden boats shown below. There are no motorized boats allowed on the lake so the boats are rowed by men to and from the island.

The island has several building on it, the main one being the pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, which was built in its current form near the end of the 17th century. We spent an hour or so on the island, wandering around, admiring the views and reading up on the history of the church.

In our free time, we were able to walk around the lake. It is about three miles around. While some people on my tour did the walk, I did not. To be honest, jet lag and lack of sleep for several days was starting to catch up to me at that point so I took the time to rest instead. It was much needed.

Another thing that the Bled area is known for is their cream cake. It is made with eggs, cream, milk and sugar. After visiting the island, we went to a restaurant where we were able to try the cream cake. It was okay. I was expecting more flavor to be honest.

The boats used to get to Bled Island
The pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary on Bled Island
The view from my breakfast table in the Hotel Park in Bled, Slovenia.
The famous cream cake
A view of Bled from Bled Island
Reasons why you should visit Slovenia
The area was so pretty with such amazing views!
I loved the clouds and the mountains in the background here.

Amazing Views of the Julian Alps

The Julian Alps stretch from northeastern Italy to Slovenia. Mount Triglav is the highest peak in Slovenia and is included in Slovenia’s coat of arms. The views we had of the Julian Alps as we were visiting and driving through the Bled area were spectacular!

Reasons to visit Slovenia
The majestic Julian Alps in the background.

Lake Bohinj

Lake Bohinj was a hidden gem that our tour guide took us to on our second day the Bled area. We had to walk through some trees and down a fairly steep hill to get there but boy was it worth it!

Lake Bohinj is possibly the prettiest lake I have visited. As someone who is always in search of the perfect reflection shot, Lake Bohinj delivered! The views were spectacular. The setting was so peaceful. The water so clear. This lake HAS to be in the list of reasons to visit Slovenia.

Reasons to visit Slovenia
Lake Bohinj in Slovenia. Absolutely stunning!
Me at Lake Bohinj

My Final Thoughts on Why You Should Visit Slovenia

As you can see, there are many reasons why I think you should visit Slovenia soon. I love that it’s a little off the beaten path and that not a lot of people have been there. In fact, many people get it confused with Slovakia. I would say I have made that correction to others about 25 times. If you get the chance, go to Slovenia. Add Croatia and Bosnia to the itinerary and you will have a great trip filled with good food, wonderful people and an interesting history lesson.

You can check out other posts from my trip to Croatia and Slovenia here and here.

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Reasons why you should visit Slovenia

Self Care Ideas for Women

Self Care Ideas for Women

Self care is always important but even more so right now as we enter another week of quarantine. A couple of weeks ago, I made a list of self care ideas for myself for those times when I was feeling down and needed a pick-me-up. The list is a quick reminder of all of the things that I can do to make me feel better. Some of the items on the list can be done quickly, others take time. I have managed to do most of them over the past several weeks. Some of them several times. I thought others might be interest in my list so I decided to share it here. This is my list of self care ideas, primarily for women.

Note: the Amazon links below are affiliate links.

15 Self Care Ideas for Women

  1. Face and Hair Masks – I suppose this is a cliche self care idea for women but I love how my hair and skin feel after doing masks. My favorite hair mask is the Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask. A few of the face masks I recommend include this clay mask from Loreal, this peel off mask from Boscia (is there anything more satisfying than a peel off mask?) and the Jet Lag mask from Summer Fridays.
  2. Read a book – E-books are great but even better, pick up a paper book. I love the smell of books. As an added bonus, there are no notification distractions like there can be when reading a book on a tablet or phone. If you are looking for a good book to read, you can check out three of my recent book recommendations in this post.
  3. Log off of social media – The news today is mostly negative. Looking at other people’s curated lives on social media can make me feel less than satisfied with my own life sometimes. I have a bad habit of instantly opening up Facebook, Instagram or Twitter when I am bored. I don’t even think about it sometimes. When I log out of the apps, it stops me in my tracks and reminds me that I need to go do something else.
  4. Go for a walk outside – Being outside in the fresh air always helps clear my mind and the movement is great for my body too.
  5. Jot down your thoughts in a journal.
  6. Schedule a Facetime or Zoom chat with friends or family.
  7. Order take out – Cooking can be comforting but ordering takeout and opening your favorite bottle of wine to pair with it can be a special treat and the perfect way to relax and unwind.
  8. Turn on your favorite song, crank up the volume and have a dance party in your bedroom. My guilty pleasure song of late is “Only Human” by the Jonas Brothers.
  9. Do yoga – One of my favorite yoga channels is Yoga With Adrienne on YouTube. She has classes for all skill levels so you should be able to find something right for you.
  10. Make a list of things you are grateful for.
  11. Do a crossword puzzle – The daily mini puzzle from the New York Times is my jam. I look forward to trying to complete it in less than 30 seconds every evening!
  12. Watch a funny show or video
  13. Start planning a future trip – If you are looking for some inspiration,I have a lot of ideas saved on Pinterest.
  14. Take a bath
  15. Snuggle with a dog – The fluffier the pup, the better.

Do you have any other self care ideas for women that you think I should add to this list? If so, tell me in the comments below!

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Self Care Ideas for Women

What I am Grateful for Right Now

Maltipoo

If there is one benefit to this quarantine for me, it has been a sharp focus back to what really matters to me and what I am grateful for right now. There are days when I get lonely. It has been weeks since I have had a meaningful conversation with an actual human. I am always worried about my sister, my parents and everyone else who is at high risk. The lack of baseball and travel has created a void in my life. I have even started missing riding the CTA trains regularly.

Like everyone, I want more than anything to resume to a least a resemblance of my “normal” life.

But when these thoughts and doubts start to creep in and take over, I make myself stop. I know I have nothing to complain about right now. In fact, I have so much to be grateful for. My friend Erin posted a photo on Instagram yesterday and there were three parts to her post:

  1. Things I wish I would have done before quarantining
  2. What will I be glad to be able to do again when it is over?
  3. What am I thankful I have the opportunity to do now that I wouldn’t have otherwise?

I responded to her post but I thought I could expand upon my answers and make it into a blog post. I am also going to change it up a bit add another item and insert it into #1: What I am grateful for right now.

What I am Grateful For Right Now

My job

I have always envied the people I see on social media who have the courage to sell everything they own, quit their corporate job and do their own thing or go travel the world with the belief that it will all work out.

Right now, I am thankful I have a lower risk tolerance than them. I see many of them mentioning on social media that most of their income has completely dried up over the past month. Many of those who travel were scrambling to get home so they could quarantine.

As of today, I still have a job that allows me to work from home 100% while maintaining the same level of income. This means I can still pay my mortgage and bills for another month. I’m so grateful for this and know how fortunate I am. I can also afford to give to others that need help, whether that be by ordering from local restaurants or donating to organizations helping those in need. I am so thankful to be in the position I am in.

My Pup

I know that she cannot talk back to me or help out around the house but I am so glad my Maltipoo, Stella, is here to keep me company. Her antics make me smile. She doesn’t allow me out of her sight, which is good (but also so annoying sometimes too :)).  She is the catalyst for all of the walks I am taking which ensures I still move and get fresh air.

My Family and Friends

If there is one thing that I hope continues after all of this is past us, it is catching up with friends and family over FaceTime or Zoom. This has definitely been one of the big bright spots over the past four weeks. I have spoken regularly with friends I usually don’t talk to regularly and been able to catch up and chat with family and friends I usually only see once or twice a year. I have appreciated the virtual happy hours. The smiles and laughs. I love hearing life updates and listening to struggles and concerns as well.

Spring is on the Way

It is still quite chilly here in Chicago most days but that doesn’t mean that spring isn’t coming. I noticed a couple of days ago that the grass is starting to turn green. The days are getting longer. And most importantly, the tulips and daffodils are starting to poke out of the ground and will be blooming soon! As I have mentioned in other posts, I always look forward to tulip time in Chicago. It instantly brightens up the city and make me so happy! It is definitely something I am grateful for right now.

Things I am Grateful for Right Now

Things I wish I would have done before quarantining

There are two things that stick out in my mind for things I wish I had done before quarantining:

  1. Go to the dentist – I had an appointment to get my teeth cleaned a few weeks ago. Long story short, it had to be rescheduled to March 30th. Well, clearly that was canceled So now I am well overdue for a cleaning and I can tell. I am looking forward to getting a new appointment scheduled when it is safe.
  2. Have Stella groomed and shaved. I haven’t had Stella shaved in a while but being with her 24/7 is wreaking havoc on my allergies. It would be so much better if she was shaved I think because she wouldn’t be picking up so many allergens in the grass during our walks.

What will I be glad to be able to do again when it is over?

Resuming “normalcy” is what I am looking forward to doing again when this is over. I want to visit and hug my family, in particular, my nieces and nephews. I’d like to work in the office where I can be around my coworkers. I learn so much from them and it is nice to chat and laugh with them. I’m looking forward to going out to dinner and to the theater with my friends here in Chicago. I miss this a lot because it is something I do often. I also look forward to going outside without worrying about being infected by others or possibly infecting someone else.

What am I thankful I have the opportunity to do now that I wouldn’t have otherwise?

As I mentioned above, being able to catch up with family and friends virtually that I do not see regularly has been one of the bright spots of this quarantine. I am very grateful for that right now.

Another thing that I am grateful for is the pause to the rat race of regular life. I’ve noticed when I go on a relaxing vacation (ie. to Hawaii) that I struggle to stop the constant chatter in my head about what I need to be doing now or planning next. I try to not make many plans when I go to Hawaii but just being still without feeling guilt is very hard for me. I always feel like I need to be doing something “productive.”

This quarantine has been a perfect time for me to step back and just be. I cannot go anywhere. My role in this is to stay home, remain out of the way and let others do their jobs. There is no thinking about what needs to be done right now. There is no planning for tomorrow or the next week. Because it is already determined.

I’m staying home and working Monday-Friday from my dining room table. I will take Stella for walks and make meals. I will read and blog and finish the puzzle that has been partially completed for a few days. That is it. There is nothing more. There is peace in knowing this. It takes my anxiety down a bit and comforts me. It quiets the chatter.

Final Thoughts

I mentioned this in one of my other quarantine posts but if you are struggling and need someone to talk to, please reach out to me or something else you trust. You can email me at [email protected] I would be happy to set up a chat over the phone for via Zoom. You are not alone. We can get through this.

Also, I want to send CONGRATULATIONS and big virtual hugs to my friend Julie and her new husband, Jeff. They got married yesterday. It was not the celebration they envisioned but it was wonderful nonetheless. I cannot wait to party with them later this year when we will celebrate in style.

I mentioned my friend Erin above. Along with posting great content, she is leading free virtual yoga sessions a few times each week. It is a great chance to move your body and calm your mind. You can find out more on her Instagram. Here is the link.

Reading, blogging and puzzling are a few of the things I have been up to while quarantining. If you are interested in reading about other ideas I have for keeping yourself busy while being bored and alone, check out my last post.

Finally, what things are you grateful for right now? I would love to read them so tell me in the comments below!

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What I am Grateful for Right Now

20 Things to do When You’re Bored and Alone

Things to do When You're Bored

Well, here we are. I am in the middle of week three of sheltering in place and working from home with no end in sight. This means it has been about three weeks since I have had more than brief interactions with an actual human. So how’s it going? It is going okay for the most part. I have always dreaded the idea of working from home. I thought it was be awful. While it is still not my preference, it is not as bad as I feared it would be.

I have been keeping busy working most days as usual. I have also found lots of things to keep me occupied during the evenings as well. For those struggling to find things to keep them busy, here is a list of 20 things I have been doing to pass the time. They are things you can also do when you are bored and home alone.

20 Things to do When You’re Bored and Home Alone

  1. Read a Book – Who else has a stack of books on their bedside table that need to be read? I have lots of them and several have been there for a long time. This is the perfect time to actually read them. A few of my other favorites include Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series (starring Navy Seals, lots of drama and romance), Water for Elephants, My Sister’s Keeper and The Book Thief.
  2. Put together a jigsaw puzzle – I bought a few new puzzles a few years ago but only put one or two of them together. It turns out that I don’t have the patience for puzzles. But, I have lots of time now so I am making it a goal to put all of the unopened ones together by the time I go back to working in the office. Wish me luck!
  3. Go for a walk – There is nothing better than exercise and fresh air.
  4. Play with your pet – Or take it along with you on your walk! If there is one good thing to come from quarantine, it is how happy it is making my pup.
  5. Learn a new skill or improve upon the skills you already have – As someone who loves to learn new things, this one is really exciting to me! Now to decide which skill I want to learn most (photography and coding come to mind first)!
  6. Start a blog! – This one will take time and thought so it is a great thing to do when you’re bored.
  7. Bake – This is both good and bad. I like to bake but I am the only one here to eat the end result so I have been avoiding it. But I think banana bread may be on the list for this weekend.
  8. Clean – Find those places that seldom get cleaned and start there. Under your bed, the baseboards and the windows and places that instantly come to mind for me.
  9. Start (and finish!) all of those home improvement projects you’ve been putting off. If you own a home, you undoubtedly have a list of home projects you have been wanting to tackle. Now is the perfect time!
  10. Workout – There are so many free workout options online. A few of my favorites include Sydney Cummings, MadFit and Yoga With Adriene. My good friend and yogi Erin has also been offering free classes on her Instagram. You can check her out here.
  11. Watch Netflix/YouTube/etc – My goal is to binge Season 2 of Big Little Lies.
  12. Paint your nails – I know it is more fun (and usually more precise) to have them done at a salon but since that isn’t possible right now, find one of your favorite colors from your collection and paint your own nails.
  13. Facetime/Zoom friends or family – You can amp it up by making it a virtual happy hour! BYOB!
  14. Go through your social media accounts. Unfollow accounts that you are no longer interested in.-  It has been a while since I have done this and it is overdue. I always feel better when my social media accounts (particularly my Instagram account) are curated.
  15. Create a happy list! – Write down things that make you happy. I have so many things that make me smile and that I am grateful for. Writing them down and reading through them instantly makes me feel better.
  16. Craft – Dust off those long forgotten crafts you had good intentions of completing in the past but didn’t and finish them now.
  17. Do laundry – Not a fun one but a necessary one and not such a bad task when you’re looking for things to do when you’re bored. It is interesting to see how my laundry has changed over the past couple of weeks. Instead of washing dresses and tights like I do when I am working in the office, I am washing mostly yoga pants and socks.
  18. Organize your closet and put together a donation pile. – I used to stay on top of this because a good friend owned a consignment store. Since she is out of that business now, I am not nearly as good about going through my clothes and getting rid of the things I no longer wear. This would be a great task for me this weekend.
  19. Plan a vacation – One of my favorite things to do. Plan a trip to take for when it is safe for everyone to travel. Dream big!
  20. Write postcards to save Democracy – I have been writing postcards to voters for several years now and there are campaigns going on even through this quarantine period. I encourage you to check the organization out here if your interested in getting involved!

There is my list of things to do when you’re bored and home alone. How many of these items have you done while at home sheltering in place? Let me know in the comments below. Do you have any ideas for things I should add? Let me know those in the comments below as well.

If you would like to read more, check out some of my other posts, including 7 Ways to Stay Sane When Quarantining Alone and 15 Self Care Ideas for Women.

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20 Things to do When You're Bored and Home Alone

Life Lately – A Preconfinement Recap

Tulips in Chicago

Do you remember the song “How Bizarre, How Bizarre” by OMC? That is the song that keeps running through my head whenever I take a moment to think about life lately. I almost get whiplash when I realize how drastically life has changed for everyone over the past ten days.

From a work perspective, we went from being told to continue working in the office 100% on Friday, to splitting into A and B teams that would rotate weeks in the office on Saturday to everyone working 100% from home for the foreseeable future on Sunday.

Chicago is now under a “shelter in place” order. Only essential businesses are open. Over the past seven days, I have only been outside to get the mail, walk the dog and go to the grocery store.

And there is no end in sight. How bizarre!

To pass the time, I started working on a puzzle. You should have seen the look on my mom and sister’s faces when I told them I was working on a puzzle. I didn’t like puzzles growing up. Turns out, I still don’t really like them but for the record, I did finish the one I started. They recommended working on a blog post to pass the time instead. That’s sound advice so that is what I am doing. Here is a recap of some of the things I have been working on so far in 2020. 

Work Life

Our department is on the move!

Two weeks ago, my team moved to a temporary floor at work so our regular floor can be rehabbed. They will be changing our permanent floor over from cube life to “high performance” life.

What does “high performance” mean you ask? Well, it means we will be sitting at tables with long rows of workstations on them. The seating will be open, meaning that we won’t have an assigned seat and will sit wherever there is an open workstation each day. We will have a small locker for our personal stuff. Moving to high performance means they can get twice as many people on our floor.  This will save them money, which is always the goal.

Lucky me, I’m part of the group that was moved to a floor already set up for high performance. We are now sitting on a floor with the tech team. We finished one week in the new format and I survived. Is it ideal? No. But I will adjust.

Life Lately
My cube in our old office space. I miss it already. 🙁

New Office Space
Our new office space.

Public Transportation Life

If you’ve seen me within the past few months, you’ve probably heard me gripe about the construction the Chicago Transit Authority is starting along the north part of the red line. The plan is that beginning in late 2020, they will be closing two stations completely along the route and closing two others but building temporary stations in their place during construction.

Of course the station I use almost everyday is one that will be closed with no temporary station. And how long do you think it will be closed for?

I figured 12 months, maybe 18 months.

Nope! I was way off.

Originally they said three years.

Yes. Three years.

Since then, they’ve upped it to four years.

I’m not even sure what to say to that. Will it ever be reopened? And more importantly, how will I get to work in the meantime?

The second question is the one I’m trying to find the answer to. I can walk to the next station. It’s not a terrible walk at about 10 minutes. Easily doable when it’s nice and light outside.

But what about when it’s super cold or raining or dark?

Then I’m not sure. There’s a bus I can take that I will likely be frequenting more often when I work late or go out in the loop after work. Of course Lyft, Uber and cabs are available. And driving too. But none of them are ideal.

The Nightmare Nonprofit Situation

Another thing I’ve been working on is trying to resolve an issue with a nonprofit I used to be on the board for. There were unauthorized withdrawals made from the bank account by the executive director. The funds were used to pay for personal expenses. I won’t go into the specifics. I do believe it was a mix up (they have multiple accounts at the same bank and used the wrong card). However, to date, the ED has not been able to reimburse the account as I have been asking her to do.

It is such a mess. The situation has been going on for about a year and a half. Attorneys and CPAs are now involved. The Attorney General is next. It has caused a lot of anxiety and sleepless nights for me. I am hoping that we are finally getting close to a resolution. Once the funds are repaid, the nonprofit will be dissolved.

Overall, while I am very frustrated and angry about this, I am mostly just sad and disappointed. I consider the ED to be a good friend. She inspired me with her vision and ideas and is one of the most caring people I know.

There are so many lessons I have learned from this situation and so many things I will do differently before joining another board. I am trying my best to find the silver lining in this situation. I look forward to having it resolved so I can move on.

App Life

For the past year or so, I have been exploring an idea I have for an app. It turns out that being a female tech founder is really hard…for many reasons. It is also really lonely. Finding people who have done what I am trying to do and who understand what I am talking about when I discuss it is rare. There are so many decisions to be made. So much money is required. It is overwhelming a lot of the time. I spend all of my downtime thinking about it. 

Currently, I am still in the early stages of this process. I am fortunate to have made some great connections recently that have been very helpful. We are currently working on market validation and then I have to figure out how to fund development of the app. Hopefully, it will keep moving forward and I will be able to share more in the future. Stay tuned.  

It is Almost Tulip Time

In exciting news, on my last day in the office a week ago, I noticed that tulips are starting to pop out of the ground in the beds downtown. This makes me SO HAPPY! Chicago plants thousands of tulips and it beings me lots of joy to see them blooming in the spring. There are so cheery and colorful. I can’t wait until they are blooming (hopefully, we will be back to working in the office by then. Fingers crossed!). 

Tulips in Chicago
Tulips along State Street in Chicago, May 2019.

Life in Confinement

As I write this post, I am hunkered down at home like most other people I know. I spend Monday-Friday working from my dining room table with breaks to take Stella for walks. I find that I don’t walk away from my computer much when working from home so I make a point to schedule walks in to get some movement into my day.

Maltipoo in Chicago
My at-home assistant is quite lazy sometimes.

On the days I am not working, I have been cooking, napping, chatting with friends and family, watching “The Voice,” reading and being lazy. 

Several people have asked me if the current situation has impacted my travels. So far, it has not. Other than a quick weekend trip to Toronto in January for the app, I haven’t traveled in 2020. I do have a trip planned for June but at this point, it is likely to be canceled. That is okay. I can wait to travel until it is deemed safe for everyone (not just me). 

I want to end this post by thanking everyone who has reached out to me to make sure I am doing okay. The messages and texts have been very appreciated. The good thing is that I am comfortable being alone. I like my home so I am happy here and I have Stella to keep me company. That being said, if you need someone to talk to, please reach out to me. Feel free to email me at [email protected] I would be happy to connect and chat. 

Until next time, stay healthy and safe. And stay home! 

If you would like to keep reading, I recommended three good books to read while being confined to home in my last post. You can check it out here

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Life Lately

 

Three Books to Read While Being Confined Indoors

Three Books to Read

One thing I plan to do a lot of while being home over the next few weeks is read. I have been trying to get back into reading consistently for a couple of years and I feel like this may be my chance. There are several “to be read” books sitting on my nightstand. Some of them have been there for months now. I also have two books currently borrowed from the library that I want to read before the borrowing term expires. While I work to read through the books I have, I thought I would recommend three books for you to read that I enjoyed or that made an impact of me.

Three Books to Read

The Wedding Date/The Proposal/The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

I love a series that follows the same characters. I usually love all of them by the last book. That is the case here. The series starts with The Wedding Date and then goes to The Proposal and The Wedding Party. There are two additional books in the series – Royal Holiday and Party of Two, that I have not read yet. I currently have them on hold at the library. All of these books are light reads and have happy endings, which is what I like and the perfect way to escape reality for a bit.

Educated by Tara Westover

If you are looking for a book that is difficult to stomach at times and elicits strong emotions, this is the book. I had to put it down a couple of times because it was very intense. It is a true story about a family living off the grid in Utah. There are a lot of incidents described in this book that I will not soon forget. If you read it and want to discuss, feel free to contact me. I will be happy to oblige.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

I really enjoyed this book. It invoked a lot of emotions in me, like Educated did. Before We Were Yours is based on a real-life scandal in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country. It definitely pulls at the heart strings but is worth a read.

Three Books I Hope to Read by the End of March

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love, had kids and moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored. We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with. We all have our secrets to keeping a marriage alive. Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

All her life, Andie Mitchell had eaten lustily and mindlessly. Food was her babysitter, her best friend, her confidant, and it provided a refuge from her fractured family. But when she stepped on the scale on her twentieth birthday and it registered a shocking 268 pounds, she knew she had to change the way she thought about food and herself; that her life was at stake.

It Was Me All Along takes Andie from working class Boston to the romantic streets of Rome, from morbidly obese to half her size, from seeking comfort in anything that came cream-filled and two-to-a-pack to finding balance in exquisite (but modest) bowls of handmade pasta. This story is about much more than a woman who loves food and abhors her body. It is about someone who made changes when her situation seemed too far gone and how she discovered balance in an off-kilter world. More than anything, though, it is the story of her finding beauty in acceptance and learning to love all parts of herself.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London. Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him

If you would like to follow along as I read the books listed above, make sure to follow my book account on Instagram. Here is the link.

Tell Me What You are Currently Reading

These are the three books to read that I recommend and the three books I hope to read over the next few weeks. If you already are reading a great book or have a list you hope to get through, let me know the book titles in the comments below. I love getting reading recommendations. Losing myself in a good book never gets old.

Interested in reading more from this site? Check out 20 Things to do When You’re Bored and Home Alone and Things I am Grateful for Right Now.

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Three Books to Read

Adventures in Dating After Forty

Single Life - Dating After 40

I had a date last night. I know. It is hard to believe. I am pretty sure I just saw a pig fly by my window but it really did happen. To be completely honest, it was my first time dating since turning forty. This means it has been a couple of years since I have gone out on a date. Would dating after turning forty be better than dating in my thirties?

I was about to find out.

Dating After Forty

Some Backstory

The guy and I were matched a couple of weeks ago on Coffee Meets Bagel, one of the many, many date apps out there. We chatted through the app for a few days and then texted back and forth before finally deciding to meet. We agree to meet after work last night at The Marq, a bar in the loop.

Going into the date, I knew we had chatted in the past. He mentioned it to me while we were texting back and forth and I vaguely remembered discussing Hawaii with him. What I DIDN’T remember what that we had actually gone out a couple of times before. Um, oops! Total fail on my part and quite awkward but in my defense, he has a beard now so he looks very different.

It turns out that our REAL first date was on December 20, 2017. I know the date because it was the night before my birthday two years ago. So it seems that dating after forty is a whole lot like dating in my thirties…even the same guys are here! Ha!

The Actual Date

We started talking and catching up. I remembered him and the dates we went on after he reminded me so it was more of picking back up the conversation. We talked for a while – my travels, politics, Stella, his grandfather who passed away a couple of weeks ago, etc. It flowed well. About an hour into the date, I realized Iowa MBB was playing on one of the TVs by the bar. We decided to close our tab at the table we were sitting at and moved over to the bar so we could watch the game. This was a very sweet gesture by him and I appreciated it.

We had a good time watching the game. We bantered back and forth and laughed. He was a fun game watching companion.

While we were sitting at the bar, there was a woman eating sitting around the corner from us. She was eating dinner alone. Because I had had a couple of glasses of wine by this point, during a commercial break, I asked her if she was traveling for business. Seems odd but it was impromptu research  for a project I am working on (I will talk about that another time).

The answer was “no.”

Turns out, she works in the building and her husband was out of town so she was enjoying a nice dinner before going home. We started chatting and she referred to the guy as my husband. No, no. I instantly corrected her (side note: is checking for rings before asking something like that something only single people like me do?!). When we told her it was our first date after going out a couple of times two years ago, she said she was very surprised because we seemed totally in tune and comfortable with each other. She was guessing we had been together for a long time after listening to us talk.

We laughed it off. After she finished her dinner and paid her bill, she said goodbye and told us she hopes it works out because we were “two peas in a pod.”

There is a Catch

All of this seems really promising, right? I should be happy and optimistic. But there is an issue. Of course there is.

The main reason I did not pursue anything further with this guy two years ago was because he hadn’t been permanently employed for a while. I want the say it was over a year back then. He was doing some music lessons and house sitting to get by. He was also living in a “family owned” unit on the Northwest side of the city. I didn’t press what “family owned” means too hard although he said he lives alone so apparently he does not live with his parents.

Two years later, he is still doing temporary work and living in the same “family owned” unit.

I don’t want to date or have a long term relationship with someone who is not motivated or driven to find a long term job with benefits and who cannot support himself. If someone is unemployed for a short time or during a downturn in the economy? That is fine. I totally understand. But that is not what is going on here.

When I asked him about his employment situation last night, he mentioned that his current temporary position may turn into something permanent but he isn’t sure he will take it because he “sees through the corporate BS.”

Okay….Well, I see through the BS too but I do what I have to do to get by and that means corporate life right now. I don’t have the option of living in a “family owned” unit if I want to stay in Chicago. A corporate job is how I keep a roof over my head, heat coming through the vents and food on my table. It is also the reason I am able to travel, go to the theater, eat out at restaurants with my friends and support nonprofit organizations with missions I am passionate about.

These things matter to me. I don’t want to give them up or work harder to pay for him to do these things with me because he cannot afford them on his own. And not because he can’t find a steady job, but because he doesn’t want to. A lack of motivation and drive to continually improve is such a no-go for me. My sister tells me I am too picky when it comes to dating but I am looking for a relationship where either party is able to pick the other one up when needed. I do not want to have to do all of the picking up.

Is that too much to ask for?

The Result

I had a really good time on our date. We said our good-byes and parted ways after the game. Before I went to bed, I sent him a message letting him know I got home and thanking him for a fun night. I also told him the truth. I am uncomfortable dating him right now due to his employment situation but I would be interested in being friends if he wanted to meet out for drinks and sports watching.

He sent me a message this morning declining the offer. He doesn’t want to be just friends so that is that. I appreciated his honesty and I hope he appreciated mine as well. I feel like we left things in a good place and I can move on in peace.

Who knows, maybe we will go out again in another two years?! Dating after forty is full of unexpected turns apparently so it could happen. I promise to remember him next time though.

For now, onto the next one.

Speaking of my love of going to the theater (as mentioned above), I wrote a post listing my favorite and least favorite Broadway shows of all time. You can check out that post here! You can also check out a letter I wrote to my younger self here.

Dating After Forty Profile Picture
This is the profile picture I use for my Coffee Meets Bagel profile. And yes, that is a faux fireplace behind me. My team built it as part of our holiday decorations in December.