Thursday, January 29, 2009

Under the Viaduct

There’s a homeless guy who has camped out under the viaduct, where I walk on my way to and from work. Tonight, he had started a fire with some newspapers and was huddled in a blanket next to the fire, trying to stay warm.

First, I walked as far away from the fire as possible. Then I said a prayer for him. And then I made a mental note to stop bitching about this cold-ass weather. At least I have a home and electric heat, and I don’t have to start a fire with some newspapers to keep warm.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Is It A Bendy Straw?

This morning, Iwanski and I watched a cattle auction on t.v.

Yes, that’s the kind of thing you do on a Saturday morning in January, in Chicago, when it’s 10 degrees with a wind chill of 4 below zero. (At least if you’re us, that’s what you do.)

Check this out.

Can you understand a WORD he’s saying?

Neither could I…until I kept watching it for a half an hour. Yep, I spent a half-hour watching a cattle auction. That’s certainly something I never thought I’d do.

But actually, when I really paid attention to it, it was kind-of interesting.

For example, did you know that some bulls sell for up to $10,000.00? Can you believe that? I never knew people paid such big money for those suckers! And then we saw that they were auctioning off 17 “straws” from a bull. What’s a straw?--you ask? Well, it’s a container of bull semen, of course! How wonderful! (Wow, I sure hope no one finds my blog by searching for “bull semen”!)

I’m not sure why, but for some reason the whole cattle buying/inseminating/ranching lifestyle is strangely fascinating to me. I think it’s because it’s just so different from my lifestyle. When I think of bulls, I’m usually thinking of a certain basketball team. (Da Bulls, da Bulls, da Bulls, da Bulls, da Bulls…)

And I got to thinking, for everything in life—no matter how strange I would think it to be—there is probably someone who knows everything about it and could be considered an expert on the subject. For example, there is probably somebody who’s really into dung beetles—someone who knows all the species of dung beetles and the types of poo that they prefer. I wouldn’t doubt it.

And then there’s me. I don’t know if I’d consider myself to be an expert in anything.

I’m somewhat knowledgeable about wine, and about Ayurveda, and about healthy eating (thus my blog name). But I’m really not super-knowledgeable about any of them. So what am I an expert in?

A few years ago, we were with Iwanski’s family, and he was imagining if he went on the show “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire,” and whom he would call for his “lifelines” if he didn’t know the answer to a question. For questions about pop culture, he said he’d call his sister Donna, who subscribes to People Magazine and always knows who’s in what movie and who sang what song. For science questions (particularly questions about medicine or the workings of the human body), he’d call his sister Anna, who’s a nurse. For questions about obscure t.v. shows and characters, he’d call his brother-in-law Tony, who has watched a fair amount of t.v. and remembers pretty much all of it. So then it came to me.

“What about your wife?” his sister asked.

“Yeah, what about me? What questions would you call me for?” I demanded.

Iwanski looked at me, smiled sweetly, and said,


Everyone laughed, and I said, “Thanks A LOT!”

But you know what? I don’t mind not knowing a lot about any one particular thing. After all, that’s what we have the internet for.

And if there is one subject that I am considered an expert in, then what the hell—I guess it’s a good thing that it’s love!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Sometimes Annoys Me"

Many years ago, when Iwanski and I were planning our wedding, we had to attend these lovely “Pre-Cana” sessions required by the Catholic church.

For those of you non-Catholics (or non-marrieds) who may not know what this means, what it means is essentially this: for about a month, Iwanski and I were forced to spend several hours with two complete strangers (a married couple from the church), discussing intimate details of our relationship. Yep, you gotta love the Catholic church.

Actually, I think that in theory, the Pre-Cana sessions are a good idea. Especially considering the high divorce rate in this country, it’s probably wise for all engaged couples to go through some sort of “marriage readiness” sessions. But for Iwanski and me, we had pretty much discussed everything we needed to discuss and had agreed on all of the important questions about our future life together. Or so we thought.

One night, during one of our pre-Cana sessions, our host couple gave us each a survey to fill out, and then separated us into different rooms. Our task was to mark whether we agreed or disagreed with each of the statements on the survey, and then when we’d get back together, we were to compare our answers and see where we agreed or disagreed with each other. No problem, that sounded simple enough.

A half-hour later, we were back in the same room together, and we started to go through the questions and comparing our answers. For question after question, we kept agreeing with each other. Over and over and over again. The other couple started looking at us suspiciously, wondering if we had somehow figured out a way to “cheat on the test” and share our answers in advance.

But then came the one question that we would disagree on. A question that I will never forget. We had to mark agree or disagree to the following statement:

“My future spouse sometimes annoys me.”

Gee, what would you put? Of course my future spouse sometimes annoyed me! We wouldn’t be human beings if we didn’t get on each other’s nerves once in a while.

But Iwanski, perhaps trying to be too nice, had checked off “Disagree.”

I said, “I checked off ‘agree’.”

Iwanski looked at me with a look of extreme embarrassment. “You put agree?”

Our host couple looked back and forth at each of us, trying not to smile. Actually, it seemed like they were barely able to contain their delight. We had finally managed to disagree on something!

I don’t remember how we reconciled our disagreement on this one in front of the other couple—but what I do remember is later, when we went out to our car, Iwanski saying to me, “I can’t believe you said I sometimes annoy you!”

“Well, don’t I annoy you sometimes, too?” I said.

“Not that much,” he replied.

“Well, even if I annoy you a little, then you should have put yes.”

Nowadays, of course, Iwanski jokes that he’d like to take that survey again and mark “Strongly Agree” to that question.

And of course, I wouldn’t change my answer one bit. Now my CURRENT spouse sometimes annoys me.

For example, Iwanski has this wonderful habit of walking into a room where I’m performing some task that requires the light to be on, and then turning off the light as he’s leaving the room. I love that.

And then there’s this other delightful behavior he has where he waits until my hands are soaking wet (and usually covered in face soap or dish soap), and then sticks some random object (like my hairbrush) into the top of the back of my pants. OK, that one is kind-of funny. But it’s also annoying.

And let’s not even get into the all-too-frequent reminders to “be careful,” to “not slam the laptop closed,” and to “not burn the house down.” (Yes, honey, I am trying to burn the house down…and while the house is burning down, I’m going to sit there slamming the laptop closed over and over again.)

And then there are the numerous Iwanski rules…well, some of you have heard them all, and you know that using gift bags and telling stories on stairs are absolutely out of the question.

But despite these annoying behaviors, he still only “sometimes” annoys me.

And after all, “sometimes” is sure better than “often”!

I've Got the Fever...

It’s lunchtime at work, and I sooo want to go home early today and just CELEBRATE!

I think I’ll go into my boss’s office and talk to him.

Me: “Mr. Bossman, I have to go home early today. I’m sick. I have Obama fever.” (Sniffle, sniffle, cough, cough!)

Mr. Bossman: “Obama fever?—I’ve never heard of it. Is that a new disease?”

Me: “Yep, and I’ve got it! The only cure is lots of rest…and um, celebrating.”

Oh, if only…

This really should be a national freakin’ holiday, don’t you think?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cute as the Dickens!

Yep, I still want to have kids.

Of course, my little niecey Nora Lu is so cute and well-behaved, she makes having a child seem like so much fun.

Nora is one and a half years old, and I swear, one-and-a-half has got to be the cutest age. Everything seems to be so new and exciting to her—and I mean everything.

Her Mom and Dad brought her over to our apartment yesterday morning, and immediately our cat caught her attention. She’d never really been around a cat before, so our cat Autumn was really fascinating to her. She kept coming close to the “kitty,” but then backing up—she just wasn’t quite sure yet what the kitty would do. Finally, when I started to play with Autumn with her favorite feather toy, Nora got closer to her and began shaking the toy at Autumn, then squealing with delight whenever Autumn would swat at it.

Over and over again, Autumn would swat at or bite the toy, and Nora would squeal and laugh, while her little legs shook with excitement. It was just too cute.

Later on, when we met back up with them after her nap, the first thing that Nora said to me was “Kitty?” Too cute!

Yesterday afternoon, we took her to the Chicago Children’s Museum, and I think her favorite part was just walking across a little archway bridge they had there. Over and over and over again. And then ten more times (at least it seemed like it). She just did not get bored with it. But the funny part was, I didn’t get bored, either, watching her. She was just so happy and excited. Can you imagine being so excited about something so mundane?

And whenever there was anything to climb through, she would climb through it over and over again. She just loved it—and I loved watching her.

Just imagine looking at the world with such enthusiasm! Maybe that’s one of the lessons that little ones teach us—to be happy with the little things in life.

And Nora’s parents (my sister Sheri and brother-in-law Rick) are so good with her. It is just so obvious that they really love their little Lu Lu.

We had a wonderful time, just hanging out and chatting while Nora Lu entertained us with her playfulness and cuteness. Even Buck joined in on the fun by showing his apartment (with the great view from the “balcony of terror”) and having some yummy lunch with us.

One of my favorite cute things from the weekend was a monkey backpack and leash that my sister had put on Nora.

Here she is wearing the backpack—you can’t exactly see the backpack in this picture, but isn’t she just so cute?

And here's the little monkey, on the end of her leash!

What a wonderful weekend—and a wonderful niecey. I am such a proud auntie.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Toddler Weekend Ahead

This weekend, my sister Sheri (AKA Sheki), her husband Rick, and their little 1 1/2-year-old daughter, Nora Lu, will be coming down to Chi-town to spend the weekend with Iwanski & me. Whoo-hoo!

I haven’t had the chance to spend a lot of time with my sister and her hubby in the past few years, and I can’t wait to spend some time with them and my little cutie-pie niecey!

Wow. I’m spending the whole weekend with a 1 1/2-year-old toddler.

I wonder if I’ll still want to have kids after this?

Monday, January 12, 2009


Today is my Dad’s 81st birthday.

I call him Daddy-o…I’m not sure why, but I just started calling him that a few years ago—and the name just stuck. And I really love my Daddy-o.

He really is a great example of what a father should be like. He is kind and loving, and loves to joke around with his kids and his grandkids. He is also very generous and has dedicated a good portion of his “retirement” to building houses for Habitat for Humanity…not to mention all the time he spends on helping his kids and grandkids by fixing whatever happens to be broken in their homes. I swear, Dad knows how to fix pretty much everything—washers, dryers, dishwashers—you name an appliance, he probably can fix it.

Here are a few memories of my wonderful Daddy-o:

--When I was in kindergarten (and I think even back then, I didn’t like getting up early in the morning), he would nudge open the door to my bedroom and gently sing the song “Good Morning to You” with a funny little lilt in his voice. It would always make me giggle, and I would hop on out of bed.

And by the way, that song has the best lyrics for waking up five-year-olds in the morning:

Good morning to you!
Good morning to you!
We’re all in our places
With sunshiney faces
Now this is the way
To start a new day!

I’m TOTALLY going to sing that song to my future child/children!

--When I was probably 6 or 7 years old, somehow I got an infection in the lining of my stomach (I was always coming down with weird illnesses when I was a kid), and it was extremely painful. I remember waking up one morning (in my bedroom, which happened to be upstairs), and I had sharp, intense pains in my stomach—more pain than I’d ever felt before in my young life. I struggled out of bed and immediately doubled over in pain. All I could think was “I have to get downstairs to tell Mom and Dad!” So I stayed in that doubled-over position and somehow made it to top of the stairs. As I looked down at the floor at the bottom of the brown-carpeted stairs, I thought of how very far away it seemed. And I thought, there is no way I can make it down those stairs in this position. But there was also no way that I could stand up—the pain was just too bad. So I began crying out to my Dad, whom I knew was awake (since he got up at 5:30 every morning), “Dad! Help! I can’t get down the stairs!” I began rocking back and forth in agony. “Dad! Help!”

But it was too late. Suddenly, I rocked forward just a little bit too far and tumbled all the way down the stairs. As I laid there at the bottom, shocked by what had just happened (but clearly not injured from the fall down carpeted stairs), I looked up to see my Dad with a concerned, yet amused look on his face. "Well, that was probably the quickest way to get down the stairs."

I burst out laughing. It just hit me as so funny, and even as I grabbed my aching stomach, hurting even more from my laughter, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit better.

My Dad laughed, too, and then he carried me to the couch and told me that everything was going to be okay. And I knew it would be.

--When I was a teenager, one of my first boyfriends—whom I was convinced I was going to marry (ah, young love!), broke up with me. He said some pretty mean things to me, and I was heartbroken and also very angry. I cried and cried—and no matter how my parents tried to console me, I was just so hurt. A few days later, I thought, “I’m going to write him a letter.” And what a letter it was! I don’t think I’ve ever written a more angry, mean-spirited letter in all my life. I put the letter in an envelope, put his address and a stamp on it, and put it on the top of the refrigerator (where my family put items to be mailed).

The next morning, I had a change of heart and thought, “I can’t mail that letter!” I rushed down the stairs to the kitchen—but alas, the letter was gone. It had been mailed out. I felt terrible. As mean as he was to me, I had been much, much meaner in the letter.

Then I thought, maybe there’s a chance that it didn’t go out yet. My Dad usually brought the mail to our mailbox later in the morning. Maybe he had it on his desk or something.

So I went down to his home office in our basement, and looked on his desk. Damn, it wasn’t there. My Dad walked by and saw me looking on his desk. “What are you looking for?” he asked.

“I had an envelope to mail on top of the fridge,” I said sadly, “I guess you mailed it already.”

Without saying a word, he opened a drawer in his filing cabinet and pulled out the envelope.

I was shocked—not to mention relieved!

“Dad, why did you—?”

He just smiled at me. He knew—he just knew. And I knew that my Dad loved me.

See how wonderful my Dad is? And these are only a few isolated incidences—there are so many other moments—big and small—where my Dad has shown his love for me—and for all his children and grandchildren.

So Happy Birthday, Daddy-o! I hope you have the wonderful day that you deserve. Love you very much!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


In the summer of 2007, Iwanski and I went to the Upper Peninsula (and then the mainland) of Michigan for our week-long summer vacation. It was an absolutely beautiful, extremely relaxing vacation. I remember sitting there on a deck chair on the beach, drinking a "mike-arita" and watching seagulls and ducks frolicking on the shores of Lake Huron.

I couldn’t remember ever being so happy and relaxed in my whole life.

And I really, REALLY didn’t want to go back to work that following Monday.

And it wasn’t even that I didn’t like my job, exactly. It was just that I somehow felt like I was missing out on something…and I didn’t even know what that something was.

So that following Monday, on a whim, I visited a local Waldenbooks during lunch and went right to the Self Help/Spirituality section. After perusing all the shelves, I came upon a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer. Hmm, Dr. Wayne Dyer, I thought. I know I’ve heard of him before. And then I remembered a few months earlier, when I had seen Dr. Dyer speaking on PBS about “The Power of Intention.” I remembered that the concepts he was discussing were fascinating to me, but I had only seen a portion of the program. So I thought, I wonder if I should buy one of his books.

Just then, a woman—a complete stranger—came up to me and said, “Isn’t he great? I just love Dr. Dyer.” I said, “Actually, I’ve never read anything by him,” and she said, “Oh, you totally should. ‘The Power of Intention’ is a really great book. I think you’ll really like it.”

Impulsively, I said, “I’m just looking for something that gives me—some spiritual meaning, or something.”

She smiled and said, “I think this book will help you.”

So I bought “The Power of Intention.” And my life would never be the same. For some reason, Dr. Dyer’s words really spoke to me, and filled me with so much peace and love. Since then, I’ve read almost all of his books and listened to his CD’s and his internet radio show, and he is absolutely my favorite spiritual teacher. His books have truly inspired me in so many ways. (Iwanski jokes that someday I’m going to run off with Dr. Dyer.)

So this past December, when I was at work and got an e-mail saying that Dr. Dyer would be coming to Chicago in January for an advanced screening of his new movie “Ambition to Meaning: Finding Your Life’s Purpose,” I nearly jumped up and down with excitement. I called Iwanski right away, squealing into the phone, “Dr. Dyer’s coming to Chicago!” And I quickly purchased two tickets to the event.

So last night was the event. My best girlfriend Diane drove down from Green Bay and went with me.

And it was amazing. The theater was filled with so much positive energy from people like Diane and me, who were all there to learn how to become more peaceful, loving people and to make the world a better place.

As the program began, the announcer got on the microphone and said that everyone in attendance would be given a free gift—a copy of the movie on DVD. The audience erupted into applause, and Diane gave me a big hug. “I feel like I’m on Oprah!” she said excitedly, and I heard the word “Oprah” ripple several times across the audience. I laughed, caught up in the excitement. And then there he was, Dr. Wayne Dyer, standing on stage five feet in front of us, talking about the movie, and about the importance of getting rid of ego and of living a life of service to others.

And the movie itself was just so beautiful and inspirational. For both Diane and me, there were a lot of “a-ha!” moments, and I cried at least a few times. (I saw afterward that I wasn’t the only one with tears in my eyes.) Then after the movie, the director (Michael Goorjian) and Dr. Dyer did a Q & A with the audience, and the comments and questions from people—and the answers that were given—were so inspirational, as well.

One woman stood up and said, “This movie was a very emotional experience for me,” (I saw a lot of heads nodding in agreement), and then she started crying. “Because I’m trying to start up my own nonprofit for women who have been sexually abused, and sometimes it just seems so hard.” But then she went on to say, “This movie has helped me realize so many things, including the fact that I already have everything I need, and that everything is happening as it should be happening, according to how it should happen. And I know that I need to let go more, and let God.”

The audience broke into applause for her. It was just so beautiful. I can’t even explain what it felt like to be there.

And then, wonder of wonders, I actually got to meet Dr. Dyer!—if only for a brief moment. But I did get his autograph, and most importantly, I got to thank him for the impact he’s had on my life. I had to speak fast, since there were so many people waiting to talk to him, so I just simply said, “Thank you, Dr. Dyer. Your words have meant so much to me.” He looked at me, smiled, and said, “I’m so glad. You’re welcome.”

It was just a truly magical evening, one that I will never forget as long as I live.

And one last thing—if you get the chance, go see this movie when it comes out in theaters or on DVD—I promise you won’t regret it! Once again, it’s called “Ambition to Meaning: Finding Your Life’s Purpose.” It is mostly fictional, with some non-fiction woven into it, and it stars some pretty well-known actors, including Portia de Rossi (you know, Ellen DeGeneres’s wife). It is just so inspirational.

Oh, and also, Dr. Dyer is good friends with Ellen and Portia, and they asked if he would perform their marriage ceremony—which, of course, he did.

And that’s just another reason I like Dr. Dyer.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


On Friday night, Iwanski and I were eating some chips and salsa. As I dipped a chip into the salsa, I started choking on a previously-dipped chip and ran coughing out of the room, leaving my chip in the salsa.

After managing to avoid choking and dying, I came back in the room.

Iwanski said, “Are you okay? You left your chip in the salsa.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Sorry, I had to abandon chip.”