My 12 New Things

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Staying Off the Pole

I don't have an October New Thing just yet and the month is drawing to a quick close. As my southern friends say, "I'm in a pickle, yah'll."

In my pursuit for finding a New Things to do every month (for my 12 New Things project this year), I joined Groupon a few weeks ago. I mentioned this website in my post, Strategies for Saving Oodles of Money a while back, though I had only heard of it and hadn't really explored it at that point.

Groupon is a really cool concept. Businesses in your area offer a great deal (50-90% off) and, from what I understand, it takes a certain number of people to purchase the deal to "tip it" and make it available (similar to meeting a reserve on ebay). You get an inexpensive experience or dining opportunity, the business gets some exposure (because you've told all your friends about it so as to "tip" the deal) and Groupon makes a little bit through the partnerships. It's a win, win, win and I'm all for it. I just wish I'd figured this out months ago.

Friends have recently told me that they've gotten cheap scuba diving excursions, zip line adventures, dance lessons and so forth. Therefore, I have been stalking Groupon deals for weeks, thinking this would make New Things just fall into my lap. The email notifications come to my inbox every morning and they're the first thing I look for on my Blackberry when I wake up.

I got really excited a couple of days ago, thinking I'd found a New Thing adventure for October. The deal was $29 for an unlimited number of dance lessons for a month. "Perfect!" I thought to myself. I'm terrible at dancing, so taking a couple of classes would push me out of my comfort zone and maybe I'll even pick up a few moves in the process.

I kept scrolling down through the email, ready to make my purchase. The description went on to say that the dance lesson package included unlimited tanning sessions as well. "That's weird," I thought to myself, wondering why ballroom dance lessons would include unlimited tanning.

That's when I saw the name of the "dance studio."  


I'll keep looking and let you know when I've found something for October.

*Just in case you were wondering, I'm not paid or otherwise compensated in any way by Groupon or PoleWorx to promote their services.

Monday, October 18, 2010

If a Bomb Went Off in Kansas...

I made a comment in my New York City blog posting that if a bomb went off in Kansas that the world may not notice. My father emailed me with a few good points convincing me otherwise. Though I was referring more to the global economy than movie stars and nightlife (as my dad references), I'll have to admit he's right.

Here's what he had to say: 


Something you, and anybody else that visits, lives and/or loves NY needs to remember is no Kansas= no food. The 1,2 3, and 4th largest meat packing plants are in KANSAS. Most of the wheat for your bagels come from KANSAS.  A very large share of milk and dairy products consumed in this country are from KANSAS. Military and civilian planes including Air-Force 1 are made in KANSAS. Also, it's no accident that one of our countries largest military bases is in KANSAS. The second largest Natural Gas Field in the world is in KANSAS. Movie stars and a great night life are ok but they contribute little to our society and wealth. Oh yeah-----a good share of my clients are from NY, trying to escape that rat race for a short time and experience KANSAS.


P.S. You were born into a 125 yr old western ranching legacy. Not many families, even eastern ones can match that. Every rich and successful person from Forbes to Turner goes out and buys a ranch------ and not in NY.
Hawes Ranch Outfitters

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How To Do Everything Better...

Let others do the heavy lifting for you- read a book. There's no need to reinvent the wheel. Somewhere out there someone is an expert at what you need to learn.

While I like some mindless reading every now and then, by and large I prefer self-development books or ones that otherwise give me something to think about.

A friend asked me a while back if there were books I would recommend she read as she works on making some changes in her life. I have listed my favorite books below; these are ones that have been most influential on how I operate (or try to operate) my life.

Many of these books could be categorized multiple ways, but I made an attempt to organize them in the way that made the most sense to me. I've included links to learn more about the books or authors. I would imagine all of these are available through your library or on I also like for book purchases, just fyi.

Life/ Lifestyle:
  • The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For? by Rick Warren
  • Where Will You be 5 Years From Today? by Dan Zandra
  • The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel
  • The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  • Naturally Thin: Unleash Your Skinny Girl and Free Yourself From a Lifetime of Dieting by Bethenny Frankel
  • The Skinny Girl Dish: Easy Recipes for Your Naturally Thin Life by Bethenny Frankel
Career Development:
  • First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham
  • Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton
  • Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance by Marcus Buckingham
  • The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success by Marcus Buckingham
  • Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham
Business Development:
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  • Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie
  • Secret's of Closing the Sale by Zig Ziglar
  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't by Jim Collins
  • Good to Great and the Social Sectors by Jim Collins
  • E-Myth Mastery: The Seven Essential Disciplines for Building a Worldclass Company by Michael Gerber
  • The Daily Drucker by Peter Drucker

Books that make you go hmmmm....:

What are you reading? Share with me your thoughts on these books or others!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Thing #10- September 2010- I Heart NY

For my September New Thing I visited New York City, somewhere I'd always wanted to visit, but never had the opportunity.

A couple months ago, a good friend of mine relocated to New Jersey, to join her husband who is in his surgical residency. I just happened to have accumulated a free Southwest airline ticket and decided I should count the trip as my upcoming 30th birthday present to myself. (But, who am I fooling? I'm still hoping for a Kindle).

The trip was amazing. Being from the Midwest, every now and then I forget that there is a real world out there. I know that makes me sound like a complete country bumpkin, which I'm really not. I've traveled a little bit, and though not to too many big cities, I have been to Washington, D.C. five or six times. But, nothing prepared me for New York City. My friend Liz and I spent four and a half days exploring Manhattan. I spent the first few hours on my first day just trying to get over my culture shock. My stream of consciousness was, "This is so different than what I'm used to. This is just so different. This is really different." By the second day, I'd caught my stride (a little bit) and soaked it all in. I learned to walk with purpose and look through people instead of at them. That was half the battle.

I felt like just being in a city where actual world relevant things happened on a daily basis blew my perspective wide open. I felt like at any moment J. Lo could walk by, or that Bethenny Frankel could be strolling in the same park, or that I might even see Taylor Swift on the subway. (Or... you know, I could see Rudy Guiliani, Mayor Bloomberg or some foreign dignitary. Whatever floats your boat).

Just being there made me feel relevant to the world.

A sign posted near the site of the
proposed Muslim community center
My trip happened to fall on the ninth anniversary of September 11 and in the midst of the Muslim community center controversy. It was also Fashion Week, the Mets and Giants were both playing, and the U.S. Open was also going on. Not that I attended all of those things, but it blew my mind that all of these big, culturally and world-relevant things were going on around me. You know what happens in Kansas on any given weekend? Not much. My friend's husband (and a fellow Kansas native) mused to me, "If a bomb goes off in Kansas, the world would go on and probably won't even notice. If a bomb goes off in NYC, it affects the rest of the world." (I'm paraphrasing here. Forgive me if I misquoted that, Ben). 

Speaking of culturally relevant, while in New York, I visited the John Lennon memorial in Central Park, Strawberry Fields. Unless you've been under a rock or held hostage the past few days, you that know that what would have been his 70th birthday celebration took place this last weekend. 

Tribute to John Lennon in Central Park
John Lennon was shot and killed 10 days before I was born and prior to visiting Central Park, I hadn't really paid much attention to him. I didn't really grow up listening to his music, but I've always known who he was, that he was somewhat controversial in his "later" years, but most of all, I knew he was enormously talented in a number of different ways.

I've always wanted to be enormously talented. It's the figuring out what I should be enormously talented in that's been the conundrum. I have always wished that I'd been a precocious child that freakishly knew how to play the violin or do trigonometry as a toddler. No such luck. (I'm not sure how mad trig skills would help me, but surely they would).

Every now and then I sigh with emotion resembling teen angst and lament that I hadn't been born with an innate ability to do something... anything. My younger brother is an effortlessly amazing artist. The images just leap off of his pencil and on to paper and he gives them just as little thought- not really appreciating the gift he has. My older brother is effortlessly brilliant at anything technologically or mechanically oriented. He gets frustrated with us mere mortals who don't really get it.

Regardless of whatever talent I'll one day figure out that I've possessed all along- I've always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. That is probably my one true passion and the one thing that has always been consistent in my life and what has inspired my current interest in John Lennon. Love, hate, or be indifferent of John Lennon- he was definitely a part of something bigger than himself. And he knew how to work his talent.

My trip to NY reminded me how badly I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. Just being there made me think I could do it. I just don't know what yet. I don't want to be boxed in to Midwest suburbia running car pools. (Though I don't currently do that nor do I really even know what that means, the thought of it makes me ill).

I'm not sure why my next step is in the whole "being a part of something bigger than myself" project, but NYC has inspired me to explore it!

Just for fun, here are some highlights of my trip:

8 Average miles walked per day

7 Bus trips between Manhattan and New Jersey in 4 days

6 Items I bought on 5th Avenue at H&M, just so I could say I got them on 5th Avenue

5 Famous paintings I recognized at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 5 minutes we had before we were herded out, having arrived near closing time

4 Celebrities who were spotted at Bergdorf Goodman right after we left that area (Nicole Richie, Mary J. Blige, Victoria Beckham and J. Lo)

3 Blisters I sustained from the average 8 miles/ day walking

Eating excursions in Little Italy

1 Accidental trip to Brooklyn on the wrong subway line

...and can't wait to see what happens next!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

20 Good Reasons to Pay Your Electric Bill

Pysch! (I'm trying to bring that phrase back...).

There aren't 20 good reasons to pay your electric bill. There's only one-  it sucks to not have electricity.

I wrote this last night, but am posting it tonight. You’ll read why:

I am sitting in the dark in my living room typing by glow of candlelight. Not because I thought it would be romantic or whimsical. Nor was I inspired with any energy-conservation intentions.

I simply forgot to pay my electric bill. That’s right. No financial woes here; I just never got around to paying it this month. Even after several statements and a disconnect notice came in the mail, I managed to blow it off. I even sat down a couple of times to pay the bill online only to get distracted and work on something else instead. Well, apparently the electric company is serious about getting paid. Noted.

This has never happened before and I’m usually fairly intelligent. I read the Harvard Business Review here and there. I had a (nearly) perfect GPA in graduate school. (I got one B in a one-credit hour class my first semester. Grrr).

I’m sure there are other examples of my ability to function in the world. I should be able to remember to pay a bill.

I thought about making the proverbial lemons into lemonade, but poured myself a cocktail instead.

I thought of all the great things about having no electricity. I thought I could sit down and work on my blog without getting distracted by those Jersey Shore kids. But, it turns out my cable modem doesn’t work so well without electricity. Effingham. Oh, well. I can still type in Word and copy and paste later. Here's a thought- how about I blog about my crappy week?

Another great thing about my evening was that it took very little time at all to wash off my makeup since I had already cried most of it off. That was a good time saver.

Shortly after that, I took the time to review all of my flaws. This is a favorite pastime of mine. I usually reserve it for nights when I’m awake at 2am and can’t get to sleep, but thought I might as well think through the current ones. (On a really sleepless night, I like to review past, current, and potential future flaws. It's a flaw of mine).

Back to the current flaws:

  • I just caught up on my gift giving last week. I managed to take care of Father’s Day (3 months late), my mom’s birthday (6 weeks late), my nephew’s birthday (2 weeks late) and my other nephew’s birthday (2 weeks early!).

  • I competed in a Toastmaster’s (speech/ public speaking) contest last Saturday. I didn’t win. I was irritated by this because I like to naturally be good at things. I find this to be the best ROI of my time.

  • I’m not sure what to do with my two year old when she refuses to get in her car seat like she has for the past week or so. I’ve been battling with her because she has a little game she likes to play whenever we get in the car. It goes a little like this: I try to put her in her car seat, she screams, arches her back, wriggles out of my grip and then throws herself down on her stomach on the floorboard of the car. It's exasperating.

  • I was doing such a great job eating healthy the past few weeks, but completely fell off the wagon the past couple of days. Tonight I found myself setting a frosted sugar cookie on top of my copy of the cookbook Skinny Girl Dish. I’m pretty sure that’s not what Bethenny Frankel had in mind for her book’s use.

  • I fed Ella McDonald’s chicken nuggets tonight for dinner.

I have more proof of my imperfections, but I’ll stop there. You probably never even thought I was perfect, but sharing this makes me feel better in some strange way. And blogging is cheaper than therapy.

Update- the electricity was turned back on today and all is right with the world for now because of this.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Losing the Battle in War and Peace

As seen in the local paper-

Shanna has lost her battle with War and Peace. A passerby remorsed, "It was a gallant effort, one of the most difficult and long, drawn-out battles I've seen."

A family member sobbed, "She was so brave... right 'til the end."

It is known that Shanna bought the Russian epic with the best of intentions, wanting to broaden her literary horizons. It was a task that proved to be too much. While Shanna believed she could eventually prevail, she chose to end the suffering before it got the best of her.

A service is in the works. In lieu of sending flowers, memorial contributions can be made to your local public library as Shanna wishes the memory of her courageous effort not be in vain.