Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Song: "Renaissance State of Mind" by Ro Spit and Monica Blaire

I am really digging this Detroit rendition of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' "Empire State of Mind" fittingly called "Renaissance State of Mind." Be sure to listen to the lyrics - great mentions of some of metro Detroit's finest land marks. Plus, this girl Monica can SING. Holy cow, these homegrown talents are going somewhere...watch out world, Detroit's about to takeover!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Help Operation: Kid Equip Empower Local Students

I'm proud to let you all know that I've partnered with some rad female bloggers from the Detroit area to spread the word and raise money for a really neat program.

The program is with Positive Detroit and Operation: Kid Equip, a metro Detroit organization looking to help provide 25% of Oakland County Schools with dictionaries for third graders.

With the assistance of Operation: Kid Equip and its participation with The Dictionary Project, we will work to distribute dictionaries specifically written for third graders who are at the dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn.

Erin Rose of Positive Detroit, Becks Davis of Detroit Moxie, Nikki Stephan of Creativity, Love, Happiness & All That Falls Between , Jennifer Wright of Looking Glass Lane are the other rockin' bloggers participating in this. The initiative is important to all of us because we want to help give the same opportunities to local students as we were given in our writing classes as children. And, we want to encourage local students to become better writers.

Through March 15, 2010, we're working to raise money to provide approx. 2,700 third graders in Oakland County with new dictionaries. To give you an idea of the impact you can make, for a $20 donation, you can supply at least 8 third graders with dictionaries.

Also, an anonymous donor has graciously offered to match donations, dictionary-for-dictionary, up to the first 100 dictionaries. Just think, your donation today can double the amount of children that are being served tomorrow!

Literacy and writing are two things I feel very passionate about when it comes to children. I vividly remember having a giant blue Webster dictionary on our bookshelf as a kid. I would often use it to play a game...I'd flip through the pages, land on one, stick my finger on a word and read about the word and its meaning. I learned something new every time I played! I plan to teach my children the same game with the hopes that one day, they too will understand the power of words.

Children are the key to our future -but how can they succeed without the ability to read and write? A dictionary is the perfect educational tool to start our children on a path toward success.

Here is how you can help the organization:

1. Click here to make a PayPal donation for $100, $50, $20 or $10

2. Mail a check to:
Operation: Kid Equip
PO Box 364
Royal Oak, MI 48068-0364
Be sure to write Dictionary Project in the memo line.

3. Contact menachem@operationkidequip.org to make a credit card or other form of payment outside of PayPal.

4. If you would like to join the female bloggers collaboration, contact Erin Rose at positivedetroit@gmail.com.

About Operation: Kid Equip
As an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit community benefit organization, we realize that to break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness, we have to meet some very basic, yet overlooked needs. Operation: Kid Equip acts as a conduit for collecting and distributing tangible educational and school supplies to school-aged children. Operation: Kid Equip effects long term improvement in the community by providing at-risk kids with the core necessities they need to prosper in school and in life. Visit our website at www.operationkidequip.org

About The Dictionary Project
The Dictionary Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The goal of this program is to assist all students in completing the school year as good writers, active readers and creative thinkers by providing students with their own personal dictionary. The dictionaries are a gift to each student to use at school and at home for years to come.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Five Smiles

My co-worker asked me today why I've been so happy lately. At first I said "no reason" and then I got to thinking...what is it really???

I am sure the holidays have something to do with it...I am one of the rare ones that will admit to actually liking this time of year. But really, I'm just thinking that besides the normal routine stresses, I have been feeling pretty lucky lately. I have been blessed to have a lot of opportunities to smile during these past few weeks...

Smile #1: Recently my job has allowed me to make two unemployed people happy. Person #1: I gave circus tickets to my neighbors a few weeks back. I didn't think anything of it but came home one night to three adorable kid drawing thank yous and a heartfelt card saying they hadn't had the money to do anything as a family in 8 months due to unemployment, so they appreciated the tickets. I had no idea the dad was unemployed.
Person #2: One of my clients is hosting a holiday giveaway. During the contest, we draw winners and contact them about their prize. Well, one of the entrants won $50. I emailed her to tell her the good news and she responded to me by saying she was unemployed and could really use the funds this season to get presents for her family. I'm so glad she was picked as a winner.

Smile #2: I rang bells for The Salvation Army this past weekend with one of my life's leading ladies, Nikki. We always have a good time making people laugh as we sing and bop to Christmas music while ringing. We didn't get any $5s or $10s this year, but it didn't seem like many people passed up our kettle either. It was a happy realization to see that people are still giving back to nonprofits in need, despite the economy.

Smile #3: I saw the 10-voice male a cappella group/You Tube sensation Straight No Chaser with my girlfriends and mom at the Royal Oak Music Theater. They are ammmmmazing and I was so happy that we got to see them live. They sang a lot of great Christmas music, but my fave was a rendition of the Red Hot Chili Peppers "Under the Bridge." Check it out here (sorry for the quality of the vid). They are supposed to come back to Michigan in the spring, so hopefully I can go...Until then, I am buying all of the music of theirs I can find!

Smile #4: My husband has been a MAJOR helper these past couple of hectic weeks, even despite his own crazy work hours. On top of putting up Christmas lights without a single complaint (I know he hates it), he even did laundry. And folded it. Without me asking. Sounds silly, but it's those little things that remind me that my life would fall apart without him...(or I'd at least be out of underwear!)

Smile#5:
I sang at an apartment complex for seniors with my choir last night. The acoustics at the place were horrible and I'm sure we didn't sound our best, but the seniors didn't care. In fact, they LOVED it. We sang carols at the end and I was amazed at how many of them knew all the words to the songs. After we were through performing, an older gentleman came up to me and said how much he loved our singing. After hearing his German accent, I asked what brought him here and he said he wanted to come to America since he was 6. After serving in WWII, he was finally able to come over and he explained how he has loved our country since.

These 5 thing together have made me smile lately. And, like the saying goes, it's not the years in your life, but the life in your years....and sometimes I just need a reminder of a few of the things that make life peachy: helping others, being loved and loving in return and being proud of your roots.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Love yourself because you are the REAL deal

I cut the Nike ad that follows out of a magazine about 12 years ago and kept it in my dresser for those days I didn't feel beautiful...The paper has yellowed, so I wanted to keep it electronically. Go Nike's ad agency (Nike is also the goddess of victory btw) for drafting this powerful copy.

(Reminds me of my favorite sculpture ever from the Louvre in Paris - Winged Victory. Image from SandraShaw.com)

Yes, this is a goddess.

but you are not a goddess and you aren't ever going to be a goddess so maybe you should just get used to it. You'll never be perfect (sorry) and you're not worshipped (usually) and does this matter? No.

Goddesses are worshipped because they aren't real and they aren't us and they aren't allowed to complain. Goddesses are worshipped even though (and this is important) they are really stone and really plaster and, more often than not, really dead.

And yes they will never grow old and they will never grow up and they will stay that way (stay that way stay that way). This, however, is not the way you will stay.

Because someday, since you are human, you will notice that time has passed and you are not who you were twenty years ago or ten years ago or even last week. Someday, since you are human, you will notice your body has changed and your kneecaps look more like Winston Churchill than ever before.

Do not be alarmed.

Because someday, since you are human, you will decide it is time to take those long walks and run down the streets and push and bend and move your body in ways you'd never thought possible. And it may be harder than you think. And you will get tired and kind of cranky and you may want to stop.

But you won't.

And as you move you will learn to rejoice in your body because it is yours and no one else's. You will learn to rejoice in being imperfect because perfect is such a complete and utter bore. You will learn to rejoice in your kneecaps because they are your kneecaps and they have seen the world.

And the goddesses, from some high and chilly mountaintop, will be jealous of you. Let them.

They are stone. You are flesh. They have pedestals. You just kicked the hell out of yours. They can't move. But you can.

JUST DO IT.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Song: These are a few of my favorite things...literally

Rain storms in summer and freshly cut grasses,
Cheesy 90's music and beer in chilled glasses,
Bright flashy earrings and fun sassy rings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cute chubby babies and orange colored kittens,
Chapstick and perfume and soft homemade mittens.
Playing trivia at Buffalo Wild Wings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Snow on the ground, but not ice on the road
Coming home to my humble abode
Beautiful sunsets to watch on our swing,
these are a few of my favorite things.

When my back aches, when the alarm rings,
When I'm feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's all about just having a bit of FAITH

If you only read one book this year, I'd suggest Have A Little Faith by Mitch Albom.

I love Mitch's writing. In fact, I briefly wrote about him awhile back when I had the privilege of hearing him speak (he speaks just like he writes - very eloquently).

My love for him aside, I just knew this book would instantly be a new favorite of mine. I read a few reviews online before deciding to make the purchase. Of course, the fact that a chunk of the book takes place in Detroit was appealing to me, as I always feel the need to be a cheerleader for the city. But regardless of the local flavor, I was entranced.

If you aren't familiar, in the book Mitch tells the story of his interactions with two men of God - one being his childhood Rabbi and the other, a Pastor in Detroit. The two men don't share beliefs, backgrounds or skin color even, but they do share the one thing that often divides people: faith.

To shed light on these "Men of God" was what was so fascinating to me in this book - often people think of their pastor/reverend/priest/rabbi/spiritual leader as untouchable - maybe even perfect. This book proves that isn't the case at all. In fact, it shows they too can have doubts and fears, just like the rest of us.

The way Mitch interweaves both of these men's stories is amazing. I could go on and on with quotes and spoilers, but instead I've decided to leave you with a story I've heard before and was reminded of in the story. Read it and reflect.

The difference between heaven and hell

Heaven and hell are shown to a man. In hell, people sat around a banquet table, full of exquisite meats and delicacies. But their arms were locked in front of them, unable to partake for eternity.

"This is terrible," says the man. "Show me heaven now."

He was taken to another room, where things looked remarkably the same. Another banquet table, more of the same meats and delicacies. The souls there also had their arms in front of them. The difference was they were feeding each other.

I enjoy this story because it translates across all religious denominations and teaches us two lessons I believe we should think about each day: 1.) treat others how you want to be treated and 2.) you help yourself when you help others.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Song: "When Fall Comes to New England" By Cheryl Wheeler

Fall is by far my favorite season...I just love the colors of the changing leaves, the change in wardrobe, stopping by cider mills and most of all, just being outdoors taking it all in.


Living in a larger city, away from nature, is tough for me at times...and I often miss my days of growing up in the country. So when I read about a cool trail in The Oakland Press just a few miles from my house, I knew I need to check it out. The spot is called Friendship Woods and its in Madison Heights off of 13 Mile.


This little haven is perfect for a 2-mile walk and is especially stunning during this time of year. The photos included on here are ones I took when Jason and I checked it out. We'll definitely be back for future walks to escape the big city without going too far.

There's just nothing sweeter than enjoying the beauty of nature, all the while being close to amenities!

This spot reminded me of a folk song I like called When Fall Comes to New England by Cheryl Wheeler. Even though I technically don't live in New England, the lyrics paint a picture of what's happening in Michigan, too. Listen to it, take a drive down a country road (or a walk in a city park) and take in the beauty that has been painted for all of us to enjoy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Song: errr...music - GOSPEL

This past week I had a spiritual experience.

It all started when I was talking to my mom a few weeks ago and she mentioned she was organizing a trip to a gospel concert at Joe Louis with some of her church choir friends.

Knowing her choir is an older crowd of white folk, I was quick to say, "Hm...mom, I don't think you're really going to fit in there."

She was then quick to reply, "I don't care. I think it will be a great experience."

Curious, I agreed to go as well...after all, I've never heard gospel live and thought it might be a cool experience outside my typical musical box.

Wow, she was right...it was quite the experience. I had no expectations, but was pumped to see some of the region's best church choirs after reading up on them. The concert was part of the How Sweet The Sound gospel series, presented by Verizon, which seeks to find the "Best church choir in America."

Dang, these choirs have got to be good then, right? Ummm yeah! The word "good" doesn't even do the music I heard justice.

I am a fairly religious person, but spirituality aside, hearing these choirs raised the hairs on my arms and the giant sound produced was nothing short of AMAZING. The vocals, harmony and instrumentation were gorgeous...but more than anything, these people were singing with their hearts and it showed by hand motions and facial expressions. It touched me to see how passionate these people were about the music and about singing for the big man upstairs.

We all left the concert inspired and now I have a new appreciation for gospel music.

Check out the top two choirs from Detroit here. I enjoyed all of the choirs that performed, but I have to say that the Calvary Church was my favorite and the folks of Detroit agreed when they won the people's choice award. It's one thing to watch the video on here, but it was a whole different experience seeing it live.

If there's one thing "outside your box" you should do this year, it's to go see the finals of all the regions across the U.S. perform on Nov. 7 (in Detroit, woot woot!). Check out additional information and purchase tickets here.

Major props to Verizon for putting this together. I know a good event when I see one and this one was flawless and I am already looking forward to next year's show.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Technology: A blessing or a curse?

*Photo from the Pop! Tech blog*

I've been thinking a lot lately. It started out with a conversation Jason and I had. We were walking and discussing what life will be like for our children one day. He reminisced about how growing up on a farm taught him the value of hard work and I talked about how my curiosity drove my mom berserk, but taught me a lot. I said "What am I going to say to our kids when they ask a question? To go get on the computer and Google it?"

Looking back, I appreciate my mom telling me to "go look up" the strange questions I would ask her. I'd go over to the bookcase, skim the sleeves until I found the letter of the subject I was curious about and read away. Not a glamorous task, but it helped me to learn. Now, the Internet is there for our children like that shelf filled with a dictionary and a set of Britannica's once was for me.

I always say how strange it is that my generation is the last one to not be completely reliant on technology. My family didn't have a computer until I was in the 5th grade. And even then, nobody was that interested in them until I entered high school and chat rooms got popular. Blackberrys were unheard of. Cell phones, for that matter, were unheard of. Video games, well Atari, was for only the cool kids. MTV and VH1 were barely in existence. The brand iPod could've been the dog's name in The Jetsons. Plasma screen, LCD, DVD, laptop, blogs and YouTube didn't mean jack.

After much reflection, I still can't decide if technology has been more of a blessing or a curse in my life. I've weighed some pros (roses) versus the cons (thorns) and am still at a loss. Here's a piece of my logic:

ON CONNECTING & LEARNING

Rose: Long lost family, friends and professional colleagues are able to reconnect easily thanks to Geni, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social web tools.
Thorn: Children can easily connect with bad, bad, dirty people.
Rose: I get to learn new information everyday and easily see updates and photos of friends', their husbands, their children and their adventures in general on social networking sites.
Thorn: There's so much great and interesting content online that it makes for an annoying distraction at times (really, is it a need to check Facebook again?)

ON HEALTH

Rose: Everyone is their own doctor thanks to WebMD.
Thorn: I've been known to diagnose my own health issues...and have scared myself to death (thankfully most of my diagnoses were wrong).
Rose: We are able to delay death by diagnosing and treating major health issues by using advanced medical technology. Apple even has an iPhone app to check blood pressure for goodness sake.
Thorn: Knowing about these major issues can cause major stress in our lives. In fact, sometimes I wish we could go back to the caveman days when ignorance was bliss.

ON WORK
Rose: Being out of the office is possible during the day thanks to cell phones, smart phones, Wi-Fi and remote email access.
Thorn: Friday used to be the end of the work week. Now it doesn't ever really end.
Rose: Email makes things more efficient in the office.
Thorn: Email makes it easy to not have to pick up the phone to talk with colleagues across the office. I could use the human interaction sometimes....and exercise for that matter.

Would I change progression? Absolutely not. I couldn't live without most of it. But much like my parents like to tell me about how they walked to school up hill both ways, I'll be damned if I don't rant to my kids about the good 'ol days of BG: before Google.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Just Sayin'

Just another reason I love Ben & Jerry's...

From www.benjerry.com/hubbyhubby: In partnership with Freedom to Marry we are gathered here to celebrate Vermont and all the other great states where loving couples of all kinds are free to marry legally. We have ceremoniously dubbed our iconic flavor, Chubby Hubby to Hubby Hubby in support, and to raise awareness of the importance of marriage equality.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Bit O' Kidspiration

*Photo from Imageshack*

As an adult, I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to have a life-threatening medical condition.

For a child, having such a medical condition could mean the robbery of adolescence; the loss of blissful ignorance, days spent outside and birthday party sleepovers. To many, sick children are beyond comprehension and may raise the questions, "Why do children get sick?" and "Why do children have to die?"

As of today, I'm a true believer these kids are put here for a reason: to show us lucky ones how to live.

This afternoon I had the privilege of working with a client to host a fun competition with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northwest Ohio. Honestly, I was worried as I walked out of the office...I'm an overly-emotional person when it comes to seeing people (esp. kids or animals) suffer and wasn't sure if I could handle seeing sick kids. I envisioned the children showing up covered in bandages from being pricked with needles that morning or maybe even hooked to some type of medical machine. Thankfully, I was wrong.

The children arrived ecstatic; ready to show-off, ready to win the gold medal up for grabs, ready to have fun. Despite the friendly competition, the kids high-fived, helped each other out and laughed together. Always having a knack for relating to kids, they made me laugh too, and I had a blast walking around talking to each of them about their creations.

Seeing the "Wish Kids" have so much fun despite whatever might be happening in their medical lives, inspired me. Who am I to complain about life? I should feel fortunate to be healthy.

Of course seeing the kids all walk away with giant grins on their faces was a major highlight of my day. But, what was almost just as good was seeing the goofy, child-like grins on all the faces of the adults in the room.

I think all of us "older kids" walked away with a new appreciation for life. After all, why worry about what tomorrow holds when we could be laughing and living today?

Thanks for the reminder, kids.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Enjoying the Beauty of Northern Michigan

I just got through with an amazing, much-needed long weekend vacation.

Jason and I wanted to take a little trip to celebrate our first year together, so I checked into various places - Las Vegas or Florida (we decided it's just too hot this time of year) and Colorado (too expensive) before deciding it would be best to just spend a few days in our own state, supporting our local economy.

Boy am I glad we did decide to make our own Michigan adventure...We began our trip bright and early on Thursday and traveled through Grayling, where we stopped at a place I had discovered during some online research - Dawson & Stevens classic 50's diner. I'm a sucker for diners and 50's music and since this wasn't out of our way at all, we stopped for lunch (and a Boston Cooler). It was a lot of fun!

We continued our drive up the Leelanau Peninsula, stopping at a few wineries along the way to sample the local use of grapes. We winded through the infamous M-22 all the way up to the northern-most tip on the peninsula, a small town called Northport, where we tent camped for the night at the Leelanau State Park. We hiked to the beach through a beautiful forest, grilled hot dogs over a campfire and slept on an air mattress. My phone didn't get service and we were away from it all...in the beauty of northern Michigan. I know camping isn't for everyone, but to me, it was a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the D.

We woke and packed up our camping supplies and headed down the peninsula once again, stopping to stroll around downtown Traverse City and chill at the beach to wash away the smell of campfire. We checked into our hotel (the unsexy, but totally economical, clean and friendly) Travelodge and showered to prep for a wine tour along Old Mission Peninsula. It was SO much fun! We stopped at nearly every spot along the way (it was like an adult treasure hunt), sampled some great wines and purchased enough wine to last us awhile...I don't know which winery I liked most - all had unique qualities and wonderfully-tasting vino. We closed out the night at the Blue Tractor (also in Ann Arbor) to taste the creative mac n' cheese and hit the hay early-ish, mostly due to our comfort food coma.


We woke early on Saturday to head to Ludington. We opted for the scenic route along M-22 instead of the straight route down US-31 (if you're a Michigander, you need to make this drive). We enjoyed the cute beach towns along the way, stopping a few times at random places that caught my antique-and-craft-loving eye and to picnic at a beautiful scenic turnout overlooking Lake Michigan. In Ludington, we enjoyed the beach again and supported the local beer hot spot - the Jamesport Brewery (amazing blueberry-infused beer) and a downtown dive bar where Jason and I competed in a trivia game for a few hours (it was fun for us!). Our motel, the Four Seasons, was quiet, quaint and most importantly inexpensive and close to everything.
Overall, it was a great and romantic getaway. At the end of the trip, it was refreshing to think about how much we were able to relax and enjoy our amazing state and reflected on why we need to have more pride for living here year-round.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday Song: "Keep Me in Your Heart for Awhile" by Warren Zevon

Last night I saw the new-ish Adam Sandler/Seth Rogen movie, "Funny People." Although it definitely had the classic Adam/Seth voices and one-liners that have me LOLing every five minutes, it wasn't the BEST movie of the summer by any means. Regardless, as a typical Judd Apatow movie, it was pretty entertaining and besides, there was one thing that trumped the plot line anyways: the use of music. The soundtrack was stellar, incorporating music from some of my old-time faves: Paul McCartney, Robert Plant and James Taylor.

One song that I kept in my head throughout the whole movie (so I could go home and download it) was "Keep Me in Your Heart for Awhile" by Warren Zevon. I liked it the instant I heard it playing in the movie.

Upon Googling a portion of the lyrics so I could figure out who sang the song, I came across the reason the song was written in the first place. Warren Zevon had been diagnosed with cancer before writing this song and knew he only had a short time to live, so this was written as a gift to his family. The lyrics are somewhat sad, but lead the listener to believe that regardless of his looming death, he's still in his family's heart as well as with the listener. When you watch the movie, you'll understand why this is so fitting.

For anyone who has dealt with the death of a close loved one, this song seems just as comforting as it is beautiful.

Sometimes when you're doing simple things around the house
Maybe you'll think of me and smile
You know I'm tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

For You, America: A Happy Playlist

Study: 27 Million Americans on Antidepressants
Tuesday, August 04, 2009

WASHINGTON — Use of antidepressant drugs in the United States doubled between 1996 and 2005, probably because of a mix of factors, researchers reported Monday.
--------------------------------------

It's headlines and news leads like this that inspire me to attempt to help make people smile.

And since I'm only here in cyberland, I've decided instead to make a happy music playlist and dedicate it to anybody out there feeling down.

Below you'll find my HAPPY playlist. Download/Google these tunes and listen up. Hopefully the peppy beats and cheerful words will bring a smile to your face.

ABC - Jackson Five
Easy as 1,2,3 baby!

Great Day to Be Alive - Travis Tritt
This may be the song for A.A., but darn it brings a smile to my face.

Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield
Love these lyrics. Fave happy line: "Drench yourself in words unspoken // Live your life with arms wide open"

Just Dance - Lady Gaga
It'll be OK, do-do-do-do. For the record, I hated this song when it first came out. Now I love it!

Don't Stop Believing - Journey
Hold on to that feeeeeling.

Hold On - Wilson Phillips
Just hold on for one more day!

Jamiroquai - Canned Heat
Napoleon Dynamite, anyone?

Walking on Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves
One of the best one hit wonders ever!

New Shoes - Paolo Nutini
Nothing like new shoes to make you feel better when you're depressed. :)

What are your happy songs?

(Yes, I will make you a mix soon, Sarah! xoxo)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lessons Learned From Steve's Place

Last Friday I had the privilege of meeting Sophia and Steve Francis, the proprietors of Steve's Place, a bar just outside of Greektown in Detroit.

We were prompted to meet them by a friend we were with who had visited the quirky bar before and had one heck of an experience.

So, looking for adventure, we entered the shady spot next to Saint Andrews and had a drink. I had a cranberry and vodka (3/4 vodka and 1/4 cranberry I might add), poured by Sophia who maneuvered slowly with the bottle of Ocean Spray. Apparently most folks just drink beer when they visit...and after I ordered it I felt slightly guilty for asking her to make it. Jason commented how she looked like a ghost walking around the dimly lit bar. She was wearing a flowery housecoat and she smiled when she handed me the drink. She had a thick accent, so I asked her where she was from. "Greece," she answered.

While we enjoyed our drinks, we all looked around in amazement, gawking at the bazillion oddities that lined the bright blue and green bar, from a giant plastic swan and punk rock band stickers to several old non-working beer clocks and a collection of lunchboxes from the 70's. A few Tigers fans were clumped together at the end of the bar, otherwise the bar would have been ours. Blues music from the "Greektown Blues Man" blared behind us and we giggled as he sang his own versions of songs we love.

As we looked around in wonderment, Steve entered. We had guessed he may have been napping because he looked slightly disheveled. He was wearing drawstring pants, up way past his belly button. He walked away for a moment and came back with a tie on, instantly giving us the vibe that he put it on just for us -- clearly the newbies at the bar.

He shook our hands, introduced himself, asked us if this was our first time visiting, poured more drinks and began talking to us about his life -- stories about the FBI and the Detroit riots, WWII and Vietnam and how he met his wife. We couldn't make out most of what he was saying (he has a very soft voice and a thick Greek accent), but were able to read his expressions well enough to see how happy he was that we were there -- so much so he gave us free shots of Peach Schnapps (apparently a common practice of his). "Yamas!" we said ("cheers" in Greek).

I was profoundly touched by Steve and Sophia, who we learned came to Detroit from Greece in 1961 and have worked their 70-something (we're guessing) tails off ever since. Wanting to know more, I got home and Googled "Steve's Place + Detroit" to see if there has been any stories written about this diamond in the rough and came across a great story from the Metro Times from 2002. (The photo of Steve that accompanied the story is below.)

I learned some interesting facts from the story:
  • Steve and Sophia have run the bar for the past 39 years. The bar is open from 10 a.m. - 2 a.m. everyday except Christmas. Steve and Sophia live in a flat above the bar.
  • Steve was raised in Greece and lived through the German occupation during World War II. He says his father died from an injury suffered in World War I.
  • Steve doesn’t know his age because he doesn't have a birth certificate.

The last lines in the article sum up Steve's Place perfectly:

"There’s a real dying-on-the-vine beauty to the bar. It’s unaffected by pretense and trend. Steve’s Place stands alone, traditional and ghostlike, quiet and almost heavenly."

It's weird the lessons you can learn from people in an hour-long encounter. We walked away dumbfounded, yet smiling about the odd experience we had shared at Steve's Place.

If you're ever in the area, stop by and say hello to Steve and Sophia. You'll not only walk away with a new appreciation for life and the value of hard work, but you'll have gained two new and interesting friends.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Song: "Beautiful" by Eminem

Love him or hate him, Eminem writes some pretty powerful (and controversial) songs. Although his lyrics aren't exactly something I plan to share with my grandmother, his words reach my generation more than many other artists' songs. Couple his amazing lyric-writing ability with the fact that he shows mad Detroit love in a lot of the things he does and I'm happy to say aloud that I'm a big fan.

Eminem's latest track - "Beautiful" - from his new-ish Relapse album has got me in a fit of emotion. First off, I love the lyrics for the simple fact that they can be interpreted in many different ways -- always keeping in mind that Em wrote the song in part while in rehab and finished it when he was sober -- lyrically spitting a myriad of emotions. And second, the vid was shot in Detroit and anything that shows the raw emotion, passion and grit of the D gets to me because it's a side so many people want to shut out and forget about. But it's real.

The video starts off with a caption stating "In 1950, Michigan was 1 of 8 states in America that collectively produced 36% of the world's GNP [gross national product]" and that "Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city in the world."

The video then begins to highlight the city in present day, showing Em walking through abandoned buildings (Michigan Central Station and the former Packard plant) and later shows footage of old Tiger Stadium being demolished.

The images that haunt me the most during the video though are the people profiled - just the "average joe's" / scenery that make up Detroit - autoworkers leaving work, boys playing basketball on the street, a youth baseball team, burnt out crack houses. The American flag flies high in a dark sky during a scene, symbolizing to me that life does exist in the city that America seems to have forgotten about.

Although I believe Em wrote many of the lyrics to help ease the pain of overcoming addiction, I also think he had Detroit on his mind while in rehab. Much like the process of overcoming addiction, Detroit has a long way to go to again become the city it once was. Those of us that live here cannot apologize for our city. Just like an addiction, it takes time and love to heal and repair the damage. There's no reason to feel sorry for our city. She is who she is and is beautiful in her own way. It's just up to the viewer to choose to see the beauty among the harsh realities seen on the surface.

"Don't let 'em say you ain't beautiful
They can all get f*cked, just say true to you."

Amen, Em.

If you're curious, check out the video here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Song: "Toes" by Zac Brown Band


Summer is finally here - thank God! With this welcome seasonal change official, a song I cannot get enough of is Zac Brown Band's "Toes."

My mother-in-law introduced me to the song and it has just been the absolute perfect summer jam and a great way to escape the curve balls life has thrown me as of late. I am looking forward to playing it many, many times as I venture up north this coming week....

Cheers to summer and to my husband's cute toes, as shown above! :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Song: "Everything" by Michael Buble + Love & Marriage

"And in this crazy life, and through these crazy times, it's you, it's you, you make me sing. You're every line, you're every word, you're everything."
- Everything, Michael Buble

When Jason and I got married - one year ago today - this was the song we had our first dance to, so now every time I hear it, it makes my heart happy.

I looked back through all of our wedding pictures and through the masses of cards we received today. I wanted to write a post about what I have learned during this first year, but I think the message in a card Jason's cousin gave us sums up what our marriage is and continues to aspire to be...I wanted to keep it electronically so we can continue to reflect on its meaning.

How to make a beautiful life together
Let love be your shelter.
The world is noisy and confusing at times, so make a home that is a haven, a peaceful place where you can listen to your hearts and savor the comfortable closeness you share.

No matter how busy your days may be, make time for yourselves.
Hold hands.
Unwind.
Surprise each other.
Find little chances every day to show you're grateful to be partners, to be friends, to be married.

Life is not perfect.
You will make mistakes, but each time you meet life's challenges together, you will grow wiser, stronger, and surer of your love.

Cherish your yesterdays.
They are irreplaceable souvenirs of your journey through life.
Make memories that will bring smiles and sighs whenever you look back. (Look back often!)

Look forward, too.
Dream together.
Plan together.
Make promises to keep.
Believe in your tomorrows because tomorrows are what forever is made of.

To make love last, put each other first.
That is the way to make a beautiful life together, the kind of life you both deserve so much.

I thank God everyday for allowing me to meet my soul mate. One year down, many decades ahead!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Songs: Nobody writes a song like Disney

There's nothing more I love than Disney songs. In fact, I've been known to download them onto my iPod and when they randomly come on, an instant smile is brought to my face.

Each song reminds me of my childhood. I could even blame my love for Disney songs on my passion for singing. I remember singing the words to EVERY song from all the classic princess movies from a very young age.

To gear up for the Disney On Ice show I'll be working to promote in the fall, I've decided to list out my favorites and make a playlist to listen to whenever life has got me down. In no particular order, here's my faves:

"Circle of Life" from The Lion King
One of the most powerful intros of any Disney movie IMO. (ask me to sing the intro if you want a laugh)

"A Whole New World" from Aladdin
Aladdin and Jasmine give little girls across the universe hope that love really will take you somewhere new and offer endless possibilities. Whether you agree or not, that's up to the listener.

"Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas
A very deep song for children for sure. I absolutely love the animation that happens during this scene!

Oh Cinderella, you prove that anything can come true.

"Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid
Eric, why can't you see Ariel is SO in love with you?

"Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King
No Disney mix is complete without this anthem. It means no worries for the rest of your days....and who doesn't crack up at sidekicks Timon and Puma's lyrics?

"Belle" from Beauty and the Beast
Probably my favorite Disney song ever. As a kid, I loved doing the voices from all of the characters from the movie and the girls I used to babysit would beg me to sing it to them. It's very Broadway-esque, so I'm guessing why I love it so much!

Whoever thought up this song was crazy. And I love it!

"Reflections" from Mulan
This song/movie showcases girl power. This song teaches young women that girls can do anything boys can do.

"Once Upon A Dream" from Sleeping Beauty
If only I was a soprano...I would sing this to my husband!

Have I missed any? What are your favorites?

Rant: Don't use the handicap button if you don't need it!

I have a major pet peeve: when people who are not physically handicap use the handicap button on doors when they do not need it.

On Friday, a gal in stilettos, paired with a designer handbag and fancy sunglasses pushed the handicap button into the RenCen for absolutely no reason. She was perfectly able to open the door -- she was just carrying a small purse. But she used it. For no reason. She can't even use the germaphobe excuse because she touched the button to make the door open. Was it just laziness on her part? Most likely, but that's just another rant entirely. In my mind, there's no excuse. That button was not created for her to use at her helpless disposal.

I understand those who have their arms full utilizing the door opener. It's just truly bothersome to me when people use these doors for no reason. I feel blessed to not have to use that button. I have legs. I have arms and hands. I can open the door and perhaps even be courteous enough to hold the door for whomever is walking behind me.

Those doors use power. Power can go out. If everyone and their brother uses those doors and they breakdown and no longer have power, what happens when someone comes along in a wheelchair and really needs it and it doesn't work?

To understand my logic, I'll tell you a story. I had a friend in high school that I worked with that had cerebral palsy. She was extremely sweet and had mentioned to me once that she didn't hang out with many people outside of work and school because her wheelchair made everything difficult. So, my girlfriend and I decided to take her to the movies. We had a great time, but it the entire process wasn't easy. We had to pick her up from her house, lift her in and out of the car, lug the wheelchair around and sit in the front of the movie screen (not our first choice for a spot to sit) where there was actually room for a wheelchair. Had we not been there to open doors for her, it would have made for a horrible process for her I imagine.

I'm not asking for you to agree with my thoughts. I just want to say that people with disabilities have a hard enough time dealing with getting places. Think next time you're faced with an automatic button. Do you really need it? If not, please think twice and maybe even have a thought of thanks for being blessed enough to not have to use it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Song "This one's for the GIRLS" by Martina McBride

This post is for the girls.

This past week has been full of girl power. Between enlightening conversations with many of my faves, I also had the privilege to hear Martha Stewart speak and see one of my great friends, Lyndsey, star in as Sandy in the play Grease (her second play ever, p.s.). I feel very fortunate to have TONS of great gals that help me through each day and show me what true girl power is.

I absolutely adore being married and couldn't ask for a better mate...but there is just something about dishing with a gf that just simply isn't the same with a male! (Jason, you know at the end of the day you have my heart!)

Hence, this week's song choice - "This one's for the girls" by Martina McBride. With the lyrics of that song dancing in my mind, here's my tribute to my life's leading ladies...

Thank you to all my girlfriends and all my amazing female family members. From my friends who I've grown-up with...to my college friends who always encourage me and share life's events with me. To all my other friends, whom I know from work, volunteering, church, through Jason, and several other places - thank you for enriching my life with your friendship.



Thank you to all four of my grandmas (including J's grandmas). You've all given me great words of advice and have given me the greatest blessings of all: my moms...I only wish I was able to see you all more. (Grandma N. below never wears a frown)
Thank you to my mother-in-law for raising such a wonderful man. Thank you also for opening your home and your family to me...and for making me feel so welcome in your family.

Thank you to my mom, who is my best friend. Thanks for being so strong and teaching me to be the same way. For laughing and talking with me about every insignificant detail of my life...and for giving me a perspective I generally don't think about. And of course, thanks for loving me with your HUGE heart.


To all the ladies in my life: THANKS for everything!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Inspiring 11-year-old with Lukemia has 1 Wish: To Receive Cards

The story posted below was recently published in the Tuscola County Advertiser a few weeks back and was circulated to me by my company's president as a plea for help. The story highlights a brave 11 year-old boy from Caro (you'll pass the town heading on I-75 in Michigan) who is fighting leukemia. His one wish? To receive cards.

The story indicates he has 2-4 weeks to live and that two weeks is up (and today is his 12th birthday). I've searched everywhere online and it appears that he is still hanging on. Won't you please just take a moment of your day to send him a card to brighten his day? He's such an inspiration...if only more people (ahem, adults) had the courage and passion for others like he has, the world would be a much better place.

Adrian, I'm praying for you. I recently sent you a few cards from my nephews and I...I hope they get to you soon! xoxo from Troy, Michigan.

One small wish
By Stacey Tucker

CARO — An 11-year-old who has courageously fought leukemia is asking if the community could grant him just one small wish - to send him a card.

Adrian Gerber was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia when he was 8 years old. Over the past three years, he has battled his cancer and won twice, until it began to take a downward turn recently.

Gerber’s father, Randy Gerber, said the leukemia has begun to attack Adrian’s liver.
“The cancer cells are increasing, the leukemia cells are increasing and his liver enzymes are increasing” Gerber said. “They’re giving him just two weeks, maybe a month to live.
“We’re hoping he makes it to his 12th birthday on the 21st of this month.”

Although Adrian has been fighting hard to save his own life, the young man never quits thinking about everyone else.

Scott Schalow, whose daughter Leah has battled cancer, remembers a time when Adrian lifted her spirits when she needed it the most.

“My daughter never took her chemo really well and one day we were in her room and, without a knock, the door opens and it’s Adrian,” Schalow said. “Without so much as a word, he walks up and he lays these quarters on her pillow and he tells her to go to the vending machine and to get something good when she’s done.

“Then he quietly left the room, to face his own chemo treatment. I will go to my grave remembering that incredible act of selflessness.”

Adrian would also wander up a floor at Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor and could be found telling the children jokes, just to see them smile.

Randy Gerber said Adrian has taught him more in the last three years than he could learn in a lifetime.

“He has taught me what’s really important in life,” Gerber said. “It feels like he’s the strongest while we’re the weakest.

“I’m proud to have him as a son.”

With everything Adrian has been facing recently, his mother, Tina Smith said a card in the mail really makes his day.

“It’s a hard road that he’s been going down and right now we’re doing everything we can to brighten up his day,” she said. “It would be nice for him to know that the community is thinking about him.”

Leah Schalow agreed.

“I really hope a lot of people send cards to him. That would really make his day,” she said. “He’s just a really great person and it’s just horrible that something like this happened to him.”

Anyone interested in sending Adrian a card may do so at P.O. Box 201, Caro MI, 48723. He likes funny animal cards, loves dogs and hunting.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Song: I'm Alive by Kenny Chesney + Dave Matthews

I know I've been awful about blogging lately...I promise I will try to get better, but as you all know, it's tough when the weather gets as beautiful as it has been as of late!

Regardless, I wanted to share this song as a Sunday Song...by two of my favorite artists across two different genre's - Kenny Chesney (looking forward to seeing him in August!) and Dave Matthews, one of my favorite singers EVER (have seen him in concert several times)!

I was so excited the first time I heard this song. I absolutely adore when singers team up across different genres; to me, it's like peace on earth. Some other faves that have collaborated on a song/album include: Jay-Z + Linkin Park (Collision Course album), Aerosmith + Run DMC (song - "Walk This Way) and Black Eyed Peas + Jack Johnson (song - "Gone").

With that said, this song is just beautiful and serves as a great reminder when things get tough, just remember you're still alive. And, go Kenny & Dave!!!

I'm Alive
So damn easy to say that life’s so hard
Everybody’s got their share of battle scars
As for me I’d like to think my lucky stars that
I’m alive, and well

It’d be easy to add up all the pain
And all the dreams you set and watch go up in flames
Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain
But not me, I’m alive

And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathing in and out is a blessing can’t you see
Today is the first day of the rest of my life
And I’m alive, and well
I’m alive, and well

Stars are dancin’ on the water here tonight
It’s good for the soul, and there’s not a soul in sight
But this motors caught its wind and brought me back to life
Now I’m alive, and well

And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathing in and out is a blessing can’t you see
Today is the first day of the rest of my life
Now I’m alive, and well
Yeah I’m alive, and well
I'm Alive

Listen to the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts-DCKDacEc

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Song: "Question for the World" by Phredley

Awesome video by Phredley, a Detroit-based band. I love this video highlighting the city.

Best of luck in your move to L.A. Phred! Don't forget your Detroit roots and be sure to come back and show some love to the city.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Sign of the Times: Jesus Still Loves You

So the word on the street is that Jesus Still Loves Me. At least the sign on I-75 tells me so.

I noticed the sign a few days ago. It's attached to a chain link fence connected to an overpass heading north from Detroit.

I was stuck in traffic and chuckled when I saw the sign above me. I instantly imagined some crazy old man with wiry gray hair, dressed in a flannel pulling the sign out of a shopping cart and hanging it proudly on the fence.

I thought nothing of it afterward.

Today was a different story. It was a great day...but something just felt different. I was again stuck under it and got to thinking.

Maybe this was therapy for someone out there -- a way to tell the world, or at least hundreds of Detroit-area travelers, that they are not alone.

Maybe the person that hung the sign had a bad day, got laid off, found out a family member had cancer, went home to a deceased pet. Maybe they wanted to end their life, but realized that even though awful things were surrounding them, somewhere, someone was feeling the same way.

Thinking that way changed my perspective on the sign.

Everyone across the U.S.A. knows Michigan is struggling...even my grandma in Nebraska who doesn't even have cable worries about us.

But instead of paying attention to all of the doom and gloom portrayed in the media, how about we all collectively think positive for once? To all the amazing/talented/personable/wonderful Michiganders out there - this message is for you: You're not alone.

Whomever this sign-putter-upper is: THANKS. I only wish there were other folks out there sending us little reminders like this to let us know that we're not alone. We may be struggling, but we're in this together, Michigan. It's all of us, and Jesus too.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Song: From 'Once' - Falling Slowly

This theme song from the movie 'Once' is simply gorgeous... and since I just watched the movie and can't get this song out of my head, I figured it would be an appropriate Sunday Song. The harmony is just gorgeous!

And, for the record, I just saw the movie cost $160,000. That's amazing these days! Give it a watch, if only for the awesome music.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Song: Stephen Clark's "We Build The Trucks"

Just another great Detroit-powered song by Channel 7 anchor Stephen Clark. Lovin' this song...hope it's on the radio someday!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Favorite Flick: Young @ Heart

The best movie I have seen in a very long time is "Young @ Heart," a documentary chronicling the lives of some very inspiring folks who have two things in common: their average age of 80 years old and their love for music.

Thanks to Netflix's recommendation (it must know my dorky obsession for human-interest documentaries for some reason...), I added this to the top of my list immediately upon reading the description.

The video above is a song by one of my favorite members of the chorus, Fred Kittle, a hilarious man who sang this beautiful rendition of a Coldplay classic, while hooked to a breathing machine. Sadly, I just learned he died in January.

Regardless of the raw emotion associated with real life displayed in this movie, the docu really shows what life is about -- living it to its fullest and making people smile. Watch it when you're feeling down and you are sure to be lifted instantaneously.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Song - Skillet's "Rebirthing"

I know I've mentioned this song in a previous post, but I've decided it's worth its own individual post.

I can't get enough of Christian rock band Skillet's rock opera "Rebirthing." I generally like hard rock, but often times I don't like/agree with the message inside in the songs lyrics. This is one I can rock out to and not feel like I need to wash out my mouth out with soap afterward.

I just love the start to the song -- it's almost like going into battle...Plus, I love the female guitarist!

Give it a listen.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Yippee! Norman Rockwell's Art Coming to the Detroit Institute of Arts


"I paint life as I would like it to be." - Norman Rockwell

When I was a kid, we had two huge built-in bookcases in our house. The shelves were filled with encyclopedias, books about amphibians and apes, and of course, tons of children's books. I remember spending rainy Saturday afternoons plopped down on the floor admiring the pages of books filled with information I had yet to fully comprehend. One book I constantly looked through (besides the 'D' encyclopedia -- D for dogs -- I loved to look at the pics), was a book about Norman Rockwell and his artwork.

Rockwell was one of the first artists I learned of as a kid. My grandpa was an oil painter, so I've always assumed my "artsy" genes came from him and fueled my fascination with a book about art at a young age.

Rockwell, to me, is the one of the best artists ever (although snobby art-lovers might turn their nose up at that notion). He painted what he saw...many times things that were invisible to the naked eye, and many times seeing right through to the heart of the matter. He painted about controversy -- war and civil rights, but also painted what people knew and understood -- love, humor and everyday America.

The painting shown above is my absolute favorite of his. I have a print of it hanging in our guest bedroom. I remember reading somewhere that the painting (from 1961) was a depiction of how Rockwell saw the world and how he wished the world would be. To me, it represents world peace and that's absolutely beautiful, especially considering the time in which it was painted (during Vietnam).

I was ecstatic today when I heard on the news that some of Norman Rockwell's collection is coming to the Detroit Institute of Arts starting on Sunday. I'm excited to have the opportunity to see some of his work in person, right in my own backyard.

"American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell," will be at the DIA March 8–May 31, 2009. The exhibit includes 44 paintings and 323 original Saturday Evening Post covers.

I began with a quote, and now I leave you with a quote:

"The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they're always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back." - Norman Rockwell

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Song: Peter Gabriel - "Down to Earth" from Wall-E

In honor of tonight's Oscars, I've picked one of the songs up for a golden dude grab.

This song is so fitting for this ADORABLE animated movie. If you haven't seen the flick, I highly suggest you give it a watch -- there are lessons for both children and adults to learn.

And, Peter Gabriel's unique voice never gets old!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love at 90


HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

I had to post this amazing heartfelt story from The Oakland Press in honor of the lovey day...

Saturday, February 14, 2009
By CAROL HOPKINS
The Oakland Press

Robert “Bob” Porter was having his usual lunch at the Clarkston Senior Center seven years ago when he spotted a newcomer at one of the tables.
“I said to people there, ‘Who’s that cute gal?’ ” recalled Porter, who was then 83.

Porter — a widower — didn’t speak to Treva Chivers that first day.

“I was too bashful,” he said.

But the two senior citizens did begin dating and eventually married, proving this Valentine’s Day that you can fall hard for someone no matter what your age.

They now happily share an apartment at the Inn at Cass Lake in Waterford Township.

Treva Chivers was born in Illinois but when she was 14, her family moved to Texas.She married at 16 and she and her husband, Norman, had four children. She was a housewife and for a decade worked as a nurse’s aide. When one of her sons moved to Michigan in the 1950s, she and Norman followed. Later in life, the couple moved to Florida. When Norman became very ill, they returned to Michigan to be near their son, Stephen, and his family in Clarkston. Her husband died in 2001.

Robert Porter was born in Pontiac and worked for years as a die designer for Chrysler, making fenders and hoods.He and wife Edith had two children, Ken and Connie. The couple lived in Florida for 23 years. They moved back to Michigan to be near family. After Edith died in 2000, Robert had his own apartment in Clarkston.

Then came the fateful day at the senior center. Robert eventually asked Treva out for a date and they began courting. Treva lived in her son Stephen’s basement apartment in Clarkston.

One day when Robert took Treva home in his car, he turned to her and asked her for a kiss.“I told him I hadn’t kissed in so long,” Treva, now 96, said. Robert, now 90, remembered the day.“I told her, ‘Let’s practice!’” he said. While they were kissing, Robert’s foot slipped off the accelerator and the car rolled into the garage, damaging the door.“I jammed on the brake,” Robert said, a big smile spreading across his face.The kiss was worth it, he said.“Look what I got for it,” he said, glancing at his petite wife.
The two dated for a year and married in May 2003. Treva wore a long dress for the occasion.Treva’s daughter-in-law, Debbe Chivers, was one of the attendees.“It was wonderful,” she said of the wedding at Clarkston Community Church. “We had a small reception and all the church members attended.”

The couple moved to their Waterford complex in 2006. They are often seen holding hands and walking arm in arm.

“I love to kiss her,” Robert said.

Each day, they sit side by side and complete a crossword puzzle together.

“She is a little better than I am,” said Robert about their puzzle-solving skills.

Family keeps track of them. Robert has three grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren.

Treva has five grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

Their advice to the lovelorn is simple.“Be honest and love each other,” Robert said.
Treva, a self-described optimist, admits she wasn’t even considering marriage when she met Robert.

She smiled. “But when you meet someone and fall in love and they tell you all these wonderful things, you change your mind.”

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Songs: Songs of LOVE

So sitting in church yesterday I learned it was World Marriage Day. How fitting, considering I was hoping to write a post of Sunday songs full of love in anticipation for the upcoming Valentine's Day holiday....

During this particular mass, the priest was renewing the vows of couples that have been married for 20+ years. They went through the different milestones (20 years, 30 years, etc.) and at the end, the entire congregation was surprised when he announced a couple that has spent 71 years of their life together. 71 years! I started thinking about that...That means they were married around 1938. I can't even begin to imagine how much they have experienced together. And to me, that is absolutely amazing. In a world that sometimes feels filled with hatred, divorce and infidelity, I am glad there are couples like this defying the odds.

This playlist, full of some of my all-time favorite love songs, is dedicated to that couple, whatever their names may be...

1. At Last, Etta James
2. Cowboy Take Me Away, Dixie Chicks
3. Out of My League, Stephen Speaks
4. Ribbon in the Sky, Stevie Wonder
5. Everything, Michael Buble
6. Love Of My Life, Dave Matthews & Santana
7. You Make It Easy, Air
8. Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You, Lauryn Hill
9. Forever, Ben Harper
10. Green Eyes, Coldplay
11.Grow Old With Me, Postal Service
12. I Cross My Heart, George Strait
13. If I Ain't Got You, Alicia Keys
14. Johnny & June, Heidi Newfield
15. God Bless The Broken Road, Rascal Flatts
16. Somersault, Zero 7
17. The Luckiest, Ben Folds Five
18. Me & You, Kenny Chesney
19. More Than Words, Extreme
20. My Favourite Book, Stars
21. When I'm 64, The Beatles
22. Sleeping To Dream, Jason Mraz
23. Stand By Me, Ben E. King
24. Ring of Fire, Johnny Cash

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Interesting Video: Lost Generation

This video was submitted to the AARP "U@50" video contest and placed second.

Amen, sister! I refuse to be part of a generation who doesn't move this world forward.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Diving into the Detroit River for a Great Reason! Special Olympics MI

This month I am trying to raise funds for Special Olympics Michigan's Polar Plunge. The Plunge, held at various locations around the state, is an annual fundraiser open to individuals willing to plunge into freezing cold water to raise funds needed to support the year-round athletic training of more than 16,000 athletes across the state.

As you may have read in a post last year, I feel compelled to give back to an organization that has taught me so much about myself. I am excited because two of my girlfriends will be making the plunge with me -- dressed according to our team name, Happily Ever After. (I'll post some photos afterward!)

Feel free to come watch us plunge on Feb. 21 at 10 a.m. at the Roostertail in Detroit. And, if you're feeling generous and want to donate, visit my page here. If you can't, feel free to cheer me on -- I'll need the support (and some liquid courage)!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Song: John Rich - Shutting Down Detroit

If you've heard this song, you probably could have guessed this would be the song I picked for this week's Sunday Song.

Not gonna lie, the first time I heard this, I shed some tears for Detroit. It pains me everyday to hear about the thousands of people being laid off from auto-related jobs and beyond. This song strikes a chord with me because it says exactly how I feel -- you shut Detroit down and watch out! It's going to be chaos for this entire country -- it truly will be the trickle down effect.

Kudos to John Rich for writing this song - in an hour. I'm glad someone out there in the 'real world' is paying attention to us.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wisdom from some "old girls"

There were a few things I gained when Jason and I moved into our home...namely an antique chest, complete with old school hats, a weird, yet beautiful, wardrobe and a bottle of wonderful champagne. But my favorite part left behind in our house are the random quotes our prior owner posted everywhere. I haven't taken them down because they are great and motivate me everyday!

I read my favorite (located in the medicine cabinet of all places) almost every night...It's advice from women 100 years old and up. There's a lot of great knowledge here, so I figured I'd share.

- You can't control other people. You can only control your reaction.
- Don't hold onto anger -- you'll just make yourself miserable.
- When playing Scrabble, don't use up the S's right away.
Frances Johnson, 100

- Avoid a fast talker when looking for a husband. Go for someone who's steady.
- Volunteering gets you away from your own worries.
- More is not necessarily better. Going for first or biggest leads to unhappiness.
Edna Anderson, 100

- A person never gets too old to love.
- If you expect perfection from everyone, you'll be all alone.
- You're better off alone than with bad company.
Mary Cavaliere, 106

- Anything you love is important.
- Children love praise. They'll do something again and again just to get you to praise them.
- You'll always need your girlfriends.
Melva Radcliffe, 105

- Never feel sorry for yourself.
- If you worry about being old, you will be old.
- A mother should respect her children, just as they should respect her.
Evelyn "Tootsie" Yeager, 102

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Who's Your Tiger? Mine is absolutely GRAND

I have a confession to make: I have a crush on Curtis Granderson, the rockin' center fielder for the Detroit Tigers.

Do I really care about baseball? Nope, not really.

But Grandy is such a winner when it comes to knocking life outta the park, it's hard not to feel the pitter-patter of love when you learn his story.

I became fascinated with Granderson last year when I randomly came across his blog on ESPN.com. It was there that I learned he is not only a great writer, but he also graduated with a degree in business marketing/managing. And boy does he know how to market himself!

He's a good baseball player. He's very media-friendly. But most importantly, he does what many sports players do not do enough of: he gives back to the community. More specifically, he gives back to my community.

In his short time as a MLB player, he has donated time, money and memorabilia to tons of charitable causes not only in the Detroit area, but throughout the entire nation.

Both of Granderson's parents were teachers in Chicago, therefore the importance of education has become the focal point in Granderson's message to area youth, as he is one of only a handful of MLB players with a college degree.

His foundation, the Grand Kids Foundation was established last year to help our local public schools purchase school supplies for needy families and buy books and supplies for schools that don't receive the funds they are always in dire need of.

He's even established numerous baseball programs in some of Michigan's inner cities and is currently working on creating a scholarship program for high school graduates.

Annnd, he's only 27 years old, folks.

Grandy, I'll be rooting for you this season. Not because I love baseball, but because I love how you connect with the community. Keep up the good work and keep making Detroit proud!

Sunday Song: Lifehouse's Everything Skit

I have loved this song since I saw Lifehouse live in high school. Amazing song...and this skit's interpretation sends chills down my spine. Whether you are religious or not...watch with an open mind. There is just plain something to be said about the power of God!

“God places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight.” ~ Reggie White

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sunday Song: "Song Around the World" from Playing For Change

Yet another un-Sunday song, however, this one is SO post-worthy. This vid is from an award-winning documentary called "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music." (check out www.playingforchange.com for more information)

Amazing musical concept. Thank you, video maker. Here's to a little peace in '09!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Operation New Years Resolutions 2009

I've never made an official list of New Years resolutions, so I've decided to try it out this year. Many people create lofty resolutions that never even make it to February, so I've made what I consider a reasonable list, full of things I know I can achieve.

Be healthy. As most folks, I would love to lose weight -- but I'm not quite ready to cut junk food out of my life completely. I just want to take better care of myself. No more booze and bad food binges. Work out more and cook more healthily.

Dress appropriately for my age and buy classic clothes. My mom has been trying for years to make me look like a "grown-up." To be honest, I hate work clothes (I am def a jeans and fun T-shirt-kinda girl), but I know it's necessary to be taken seriously. And when you work in an office full of well-dressed women, it's hard to not stick out as the hippie that doesn't iron or send clothes to the dry cleaner. I need to work on that.

Get a library card (and use it). I think it's time I go back to my younger days of wandering the library looking for the perfect book. Besides, buying books is such a rip-off and libraries are full of great things like CDs and movies, too. (this leads me to my next point...)

Read more for pleasure.

Make more time to volunteer.

Go to church more. I love my sleep, I'm not gonna lie. But, that's a lame excuse not to go...

Learn to garden. Word is I'm destined to have a green thumb...we'll see about that!

Learn to sew. I got a sewing machine last Christmas. By Christmas 2009, I want to know how to use it.

Get creative. I need to engage the creative side of my mind more often. Handmade presents are much more fun than store-bought stuff.

Do small things to make other people's day (i.e. send random cards to friends, pay for meal of person behind me in drive-thru line, etc.)

Best of luck to you all in 2009!