This week marks another year without her.

No words will suffice. There’s no way to explain how much I miss her.

Except to say, simply, I love you. And thank you. For loving me so much.

I’ve chosen to express myself through this week’s fitting WordPress Photo Challenge.

This is Love.

love love

Simple Signs of Affection


Today a boy gave me a cookie.

It was a simple gesture.

He said he wanted to brighten my day so he went out during lunch and bought me a cookie.

Yes, this happened in front of others and was slightly embarrassing (and I wanted to hide).

But it caught me off guard. And made me feel kind of awkward. In a good way. Like when Bryan Sturt gave me a 25 cent ring during recess in fourth grade and I blushed, looked slightly angry (clear foreshadowing) and then followed my mother around the house for 4 hours after school showing it off.

This small gesture did big things. It lifted my mood and put some momentarily stress-related things in perspective.

In today’s world, with busy and busier schedules, and random stress arising from strange pokes on Facebook and full dates over text message, sometimes the simple gesture goes a long way.

After all, it’s the small things. Right?

Apparently, all it takes is a cookie.


Let the Sun Shine in


Today the sun came out.

Literally and figuratively.

Yes.  It was the coldest day Chicago has seen in 2 years.  And Yes. It felt like hypothermia was upon me after3.4 minutes out the door.

But.  The sun was shining.


I indulged in this mood lifter by having myself a serious me day filled with fitness.

Although January is usually a hard month for me, for some reason, the winter, in particular, this year is hitting me hard.

Given the fact that I was born and raised in Eastern Europe, grew up in Michigan, went to school on a frigid mountain and spent the entirety of my life figure skating (summers too)… you’d think this was all routine by now.

Not this winter.

I’m shocked every time I go outside and it isn’t 70 and I stare at people who are dressed in anything less than Eskimo-wear.  Secretly I’ve been hell-bent on pretending I’ve never experienced cold while plotting to run away to the other side of the equator.

What I needed today was to indulge myself in the kind of days I love most.  The kind of days I used to have during the summers when my coach would pick me up at 5am for a day’s worth of stretching, working out and off-ice and on-ice training.

Today I pushed myself to remember all those moves that muscle memory ingrained for two decades.

I know I’ve written before about going back to the ice.  Today I felt more confident and trained as if I’d never left.

I thought of nothing but the task in front of me.

It. Felt. Great.

After practice I took the train an hour back downtown for some pilates and yoga where I crunched, stretched and zen-ed through the adrenaline I had left.

By the 7th downward dog, I was exhilarated and exhausted all at the same time and felt like I’d found my center.

I ended the day by watching my favorite show with some tea.

And honey.

And some chocolate.


The Beauty of Random


One night this week, circa 2am, I found myself at a private party (that I wasn’t invited to), sipping champagne on a beautiful Victorian-style sofa by a fireplace rounding hour number 3 of connection with a total stranger.

This totally random moment could not have been planned or even foreseen 687 miles away.

In fact, on this night, I was planning on curling up in my (almost fully furnished and decorated!!) new apartment and reading Richard Branson’s new book.

On this night I had dined with a friend and found myself (3 mojitos later) in a taxi agreeing to check out a champagne bar.

One problem.

Upon arrival, we were told that the entire place had been rented out for a formal private party for at least 6 hours.

Having come this far, I decided one way or another we were going to become one of the special guests for the exclusive Spearling Party.

A couple calls later, we were crashing the party and enjoying the kind of girls-night-out we are sure to share with our daughters one day (or hide from).

We drank champagne.  We danced.  We met random strangers who couldn’t quite place us as part of the Spearling crew.

Regardless, the night took a turn for the introspective when said stranger and I realized we were originally from the same city in Ukraine and he actually lived in a different state all together and had flown in for the night.

I thought about life’s random moments.  How they sneak up on you when you least expect it.  And how we are reminded (like so many times before) that we just don’t know what’s coming…

In a good way.

It’s the same thought my friend had when she found out she would be traveling on an overseas project within 48 hours.  It’s the same thought another friend had yesterday when she went on a blind date that left her giddy and excited.

These moments remind me of life’s (good) surprises and leave me eagerly hopeful for what might come tomorrow.


A Moment for the Resolution


In the midst of all-you-can-drink parties, family gatherings and sight-seeing adventures, I took a time out to ponder the notion of the resolution.

Unlike previous years, I’ve decided not to rush the creative process of resolution making and start 2013 out right.

Too often we are whisked into the resolution spirit (mildly connected to the holiday one) and promise ourselves unrealistic or lengthy to do lists.

Last year, overwhelmed and unsure what 2012 would bring, I went against the very grain of my overachieving being, put the notepads and pens away, and didn’t even bother to make any.

This year, finding the compromise between writing out 47 things I’d like to accomplish/do/change/improve/engineer/kick-start and making zero life improvements, I pulled out a new journal, found some pens and my 13-year-old self, and wrote some things down (in neat bubble letters).

I’ve decided to share some of these here.

Without further delay, I present a few key resolutions I’ve made for the year 2013.

1)       Put myself first more often and take better care of myself.  Over the years, I’ve learned that being the rock for others is great but taking care of oneself is super important. This year I’d like to take more timeouts, mental health days and to learn to say no.

2)      Go to bed earlier.  This might seem silly, but is something I really need to work on if I’m going to make it in the world of everyone else’s reality. My reality = lots of ideas and excitement between the hours of 9pm and 3am and sleeping in until noon.  Unfortunately, corporate America is not on this schedule and I find myself exhausted by the time work is complete.

3)      Achieve a fitness goal.  As a competitive figure skater, I always found that the journey was more important than the ending.  In the same way, I find that although crossing the finish line is great, working towards the goal ultimately brings everyday accomplishments, inspiration and results.  In 2012, I ran my first half marathon.  Although crossing that finish line after 13.1 miles was Awesome, it was the 6 weeks spent running with friends, discovering new parts of my city and running further than I had ever run before that allowed me to achieve all I had wanted.

I’m looking forward to seeing what 2013 will bring.  I recommend pulling out some crayons, colored pencils or black ink pens (computers work too) and jotting some things down.

Feels good.

Happy New Year!