Sunday, June 30, 2013

Scenes From A Week: June 30

Tomorrow is July 1.  How is that even possible?  June flew by, and I am still a little annoyed by the lack of summer-like weather we've had so far this year in Chicago.   Anyway, in an effort to soak up the summer as much as possible, I've tried to squeeze a little more out of each day.  This week, Scott and I went to two open houses, I went on five runs and four walks,  and I ate outside three times.  I want to savor the small things that summer brings, because if the way June flew by is any indication, the end of summer will be here before we know it.

Walking to a nearby open house
Best mail ever - scratch off "gender reveal" ticket.
(I guessed right!) 
four three weeks until the half marathon
the chicago blackhawks won the stanley cup
post-run protein shake (thanks to scott for making it, and to my mom
for the jumbo container of protein)
en-route to milwaukee (more on that tomorrow!)
hilariously, i find pictures like this in my phone all
the time - i take them when i hear a song on the radio
that i like and want to download

Quote of the Day: 22

"We're happy free confused and lonely at the same time.  It's miserable and magical".  - Taylor Swift, 22

I heard this in the car last night, and immediately came home and downloaded it.  It's insanity that I'm six (umm, almost seven) years older than the age she describes in this song, and yet I can vividly remember that life phase.  My mid and late twenties have been such a great time in my life.  I loved my childhood, but I remember feeling so awkward in middle school and high school.  I had fun and friends, but I just feel so much more... comfortable in my own skin now.  I am who I am and I like it.

Anyways, yes.  I got all of this from a Taylor Swift lyric.  :)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Photo of the Day: Flask

Scott snapped this picture of me.  And my flask.  :)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Interesting Person Interview Series: Anne

Today I am pumped to share the interview with my cousinfriend, Anne.  Anne has been my cousin for my entire life, but I think it's safe to say that she's been my friend for the past almost six years - ever since our grandparents 60th wedding anniversary party, where we bonded over vodka and family teasing. :)

Anne's interview, after the break!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Photo of the Day: Cousinfriends

Have I said recently how much I adore Christine?

Two nights this week alone she has helped me through two different issues, and I just had to quickly mention how lucky I am to have her.

(And also, we're overdue for another night like the one pictured above).  :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Love Wins

There has been much said about today's historic ruling(s!) and I don't have much to add, except that I am so overjoyed at the progress we're making this year.  There is certainly much work left to do, but as an article that I read today said - change isn't just coming... it's here. 

21) Plan a surprise for someone

I loooove surprises and planning them, so when my brother got engaged, I knew I wanted to do something extra special for my lovely future sister-in-law.

With their wedding (and the end-date of my 29 by 29 list!)  rapidly approaching, I thought I would share the surprise that I did for her these past few months (without giving anything away for the future:)

They are getting married on October 12th, so on the 12th of each month I've made a point to see my darling sister-to-be and give her something signifying her upcoming life as Mrs. Maloney.  Examples include an ornament for their annual Christmas tree, a "Mrs. Maloney" hanger to hold her wedding gown on her big day, "M" stationary, etc.  Some months were larger than others, but I think (hope!) that each month featured the same sentiment.

It was a thrill to select the different items, and even more of a thrill to present them to Kelly.  And the best part is that the months aren't over yet :)

The genesis behind the idea is that I wanted to come up with a tangible way to show Kelly how excited I am that she is marrying my brother, and how lucky I feel to be getting her as a sister.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

on bikinis and choice

Kate at Something-Ivory posted an entry to her blog on Monday which highlighted swimwear designer Jessica Rey, and showcased a video of Rey speaking about the Evolution of Swimwear.   I hadn't heard of Jessica Rey, so I appreciated being exposed to the message.  As I watched the video, it was hard to forget the context surrounding it.  Clearly, Rey is selling a product, and while her passion for the topic is clear, so too is her agenda: the success of the video will undoubtedly impact her sales.  And while I’m not faulting her for this at all (it shows keen business acumen, actually) I also think it’s important to recognize that her pocketbook stands to benefit from the popularity of her video.

The premise of the video (and Rey’s swimwear line) can be summed up with her company tagline “who says it has to be itsy bitsy”?  Her swimwear line is for women only, and features one-pieces.   She prides herself on being able to dress modestly, while not being "frumpy and dumpy", and teaches women that they can and should dress this way as well.


(You knew that was coming, right?)

While I appreciate the allure of a one-piece swimsuit (and understand why some women would favor them) I completely reject the notion of this version of dress (this subjective "modesty") as being better than any other.  Rey says that wearing one-piece swimsuits allows our “dignity” to be revealed.   I’m not sure why I’m required to cover myself up (just the skin between my hips and my ribs, by the way)  to reveal my dignity.  My dignity is inherent to my being, whether I’m in a bikini or a burqa, and teaching otherwise is a foolish mistake.  That kind of lesson perpetuates the archaic belief that a women’s worth is tied both to the way she is dressed, and the way she is perceived by others, specifically men.

Speaking of men, she has several minutes of the video dedicated towards some limited research regarding the way that men's brains respond to seeing women wearing bikinis.  Rey said "Analysts at the National Geographic concluded that 'bikinis really do inspire men to see women as objects, as something to be used rather than someone to connect with'".  That's a bit misleading, as she left out the fact that the study featured 21 undergraduate men, who were shown only two sets of images: fully dressed women, and women in swimsuits that happened to be bikinis.  While I'm no scientist, I would suspect that the men would have the same reaction to viewing two sets of images, one having a fully dressed woman (the baseline) and the other image featuring women wearing any swimsuit at all - bikini or one-piece. (And to reiterate, this was a research study about bikinis that was conducted on 21 undergraduate men - likely between the ages of 18-23.  Not only am I not surprised that the swimwear had numbing properties to these young men's hormone-filled minds, but I'm also doubtful that a research journal would go anywhere near these findings).

Also - and this is way, way more important of a reason - when we hear that there are some men objectifying some women some times, why is it that we try to change the women?  A man is objectifying me, and somehow that is my problem, not his?  (This is teetering dangerously close to the "she was asking for it in her short skirt" rape excuse).  A woman should not have to dress to keep a man in check.  That's not only sexist and wrong - it's stupid.

Rey goes on to say that "this is surely not the kind of power that women were searching for... to be seen as an equal, to be seen as in control, and to be taken seriously.  It seems as if the kind of power they are searching for is more attainable when they dress modestly".   Oh dear.   Since it's 2013, I kind of thought this went without saying, but just for the record: if I need to dress a certain way to be "seen as an equal" than you have a much bigger problem then your distaste for the way I am dressing, because I am an equal, and no bikini on my body can change that.

Make no mistake: I fully respect the right of women to choose one-piece swimsuits (or to buy one of Rey's designs)!  It is absolutely possible that I may make that choice down the line as my personal tastes change.  But as women, I think we're doing each another a major disservice by teaching that our "dignity" - or our inherent equality - is dependent upon dressing or acting a certain way.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Quote of the Day: Who I am as a person

"I may wish I had different calves and thighs, and no knock-knees.  But I like who I am as a person.  And because I believe that there's much more to me than my looks, other people believe it too" - Felicia Fields

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Scenes From A Week: June 23

It was a beautiful Chicago weekend, capping off a week that finally felt like Summer. (PTL!)  My parents were in town, and it was a much, much needed amount of time together.

There are about six reasons that I live near the lakefront, and we're smack
in the middle of them (April, May, June, July, August and September).
first time running in shorts this week.  the verdict is still
out.  i think i liked it?  
commuting buddies! 
mid-week target run for half marathon supplies - two new running
shirts and blister bandaids.  (ouch).
my gorgeous mama - a newly minted expert in chicago public transit

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Gay OK

The other day I was walking down the street, and I saw two men holding hands.  

It's not an unusual sight, especially in my neighborhood, which is steps from Boystown.

I often see men holding hands, or men kissing.  Their are rainbows and gay bars and even - holy hell - a  Catholic Church with a huge rainbow sign beckoning "ALL ARE WELCOME".

This neighborhood is a beautiful place to live, both for the lake front and for the acceptance.  

All are welcome. 

It's so simple, and yet it's not a rallying cry that I hear very often, ya know?  I belong to a Church that is welcoming in theory, but exclusive in practice.  The word Catholic comes from a Greek word which translates in to "universal".   But it's not universal.  My church teaches that if you're gay, the only way to get to heaven is to repress your sexuality and never act on it.  Spend your life alone, devoid of sex and romantic partnership.  

I read a few blogs that have a heavy focus on religion, specifically Christianity and Mormonism, and while they aren't specifically anti-gay (in most cases) they are very conservative, and the anti-gay sentiment bubbles barely below the words on their page. I don't even know why I read them, except that it's kind of a peek behind the curtain.  A way to see the opposing team's playbook.

I'm not sure that I can do anything to change the minds of people that are anti-gay.  (And, by the way, in my opinion, if you're anti-gay marriage, you're anti-gay).  There is nothing they could say to change my mind, and I suspect the feeling is mutual.  Yet I also refuse to "agree-to-disagree".  It's too important of an issue - there are lives at stake.

It's upsetting to feel like this - like your hands are tied.  But I as strongly as I believe in gay rights, I also believe that  believe that the tide's are changing, and I am confident that in the not-very-distant future, those people will be on the wrong side of history.

In the meantime, I will smile when I see a gay couple holding hands, and try to be a friendly face from an often hateful world. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Interesting Person Interview Series: Katie Special Edition

Today I'm excited to share the interview with my sister-in-law, the other Kate Special!  Katie is recently back in Chicago, after spending the past two years in New York getting her masters.   She was one of my bridesmaids when I married her brother two years ago, and she is single-handedly responsible for cooking some of the most delicious meals I've had! :)

Katie's interview, after the jump!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bliss Deep Clean Face Mask

Before my wedding, I spent some considerable time (and cash) at Sephora.  I wandered the aisles and talked with multiple sales associates to come up with a beauty regimen to do at home.  Like many (all?) brides, I wanted to look my best on my wedding day.

One of my favorite products was the Bliss Steep Clean "at home" face mask.  It's definitely the most expensive beauty item in my closet ($55!) but I realized that a single facial in a spa would cost the same as many weeks of use that this product would provide, so I splurged.  I used it weekly per the directions, and I really think it made a difference in my skin.  I probably used it 10 or 12 times before my wedding, and another half dozen times since then.  I brought it out this weekend, unsure if it would still be good two plus years later, but I fell in love with it again (hence, this post:)  It made my skin so clean and super soft.  I love it and decided to re-add it to my beauty regimen.  Though it's expensive, I will likely buy it again once my bottle runs out.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cousinfriends in the City

What do you get when you mix two blonde cousins, a bottle of bubby and a camera?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

running with the heart

Some days after work, I find myself suited up and on the Lake Shore Trail.

Some running days are better than others, like some days are better than others.

Today was a particularly rough run for me.  It was hot as hell - 87 degrees on my iPhone as I laced up my tennis shoes.  Hot enough that I really wanted to turn up the AC, pour a glass bottle of Pinot Grigio, and watch the Bachelorette.  But the half marathon is ever approaching, and I'd prefer not to embarrass myself, or die, so I put on nearly as few clothes as I possibly could without getting arrested, put my iPod on shuffle, and headed out.

I trudged through the first mile, barely.  I was pushing myself, but the concrete and heat were pushing back.  I kept going, and somewhere between mile two and three, I had an epiphany.

I don't love running, but running loves me.

It's a sport of solitude, of you and your music and your thoughts and your breath;

It's a sport of harmony, strength of lungs and legs;

It's a sport of gratitude, for an able body and mind;

It's a sport of humility, for the next step is uncertain.

It's a sport of strength, for each step is earned.

So I crank the music, and lose myself in the solitude, the harmony, the gratitude.  I hear my lyrics and and my breath.  I lose myself in the stabs of pain in my calves and in the ebb and flow of runners and bikers along the lake.   I lose myself in the profound way in which I feel small in this universe, and yet significant.

I don't love running, but I love the way running makes me feel.  Like I don't have to prove anything to anyone, except to the voice in my head telling me that I'm not an athelete.   No one is trying to beat me, and I'm not trying to beat anyone or anything except the part of myself that wants to give up.

It feels like I can do anything and everything, and all I have to do is take another step, and another, and another...

I am a person who runs with my brain, most of the time.  I know what my run is going to be - whether it's a mileage or an increment time, and I rarely deviate.  My lungs scream, and my brain wants to give in.  My legs feel tired, and my brain slows them down.

Today's run was hard for me physically.  I was tired, and hot, and sweat was pouring off of me.  I clawed through each step, each tenth of a mile a mental victory.  It took all I had to keep telling myself "just get to the next tree, you can make it to the bridge, get to the next pier".

But I did it, and I earned every step.

My biggest challenge at the half marathon isn't going to be the thirteen miles (although, you know what, those are going to be a bitch).   I am a person who runs, when I run with my brain.. but I am a runner when I run with my heart.  When I run, the competition is within me.  It's me against myself.

Brain versus heart.

But the beauty of running is that none of that really matters.

All that matters is that you show up.  And take a step, and another, and another...

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Night of Russell Brand

Scott got an email on Monday night, informing him that he'd won two free tickets to Wednesday's Russell Brand comedy show at the Chicago Theatre.  In six years in Chicago, I had never been to the Chicago Theatre so I was pumped to check out the venue.  Plus, who doesn't love free comedy?

Wednesday night brought some rain, which made the theatre sign stand out even more.  It's such a fun and iconic sign:

Scott and I met at the theatre, and took a few pictures.

can you spot me? :)
The show itself was hilarious and uhhhh.... hyper sexual.

Photography of any kind was not allowed during the show, which I adhered to since they had venue people roaming around forcing you to delete any pictures or film you'd taken.  Toward the end of the 90 minute show, Russell announced that he'd be in the lobby of the venue to take pictures and sign autographs since the venue didn't allow people to take pictures during the show.  I told Scott I had to run to the bathroom to beat the rush (blame the two Bud Light's I'd just finished) so we left with sixty or ninety seconds left in the show.

I'm telling you all of this because we ended up in exactly the right spot at the right time, to be right at the very beginning of the line to meet Russell!  It was awesome.

He came out and walked past everyone lined up, taking pictures and signing autographs.  Scott and I stupidly only gave him hugs and didn't take pictures with him (he had a table set up, and we were told we'd be able to pass the table for pics/autographs on our way out, but that was incorrect information).

Anyway, it was fun to "meet" him.  He told Scott "well don't you look cool" (Scott was wearing a khaki rain jacket/trench).  He told me "well 'ello there" in his British accent.

A fun way to spend a random Wednesday night!  Thanks for winning the tickets, Scottie!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Scenes From A Week: June 16

Half way through June already - how wild is that?  Another weekend is coming to a close, and another fun week ahead.  I love summer in the city!

marina city, while on a lunch break power walk
chicago theatre on a rainy night to see...
(see next picture:)
russell brand, courtesy of scott's free tickets
speaking of scott, he celebrated the big 2-8 this week!
our new whiskey decanter
(thanks, lindsey & jamey!)
i love skyline views
food for my soul - a church with a sign affirming same
sex marriage.  my kind of church!
my favorite view of the cta

Quote of the Day: DNA

"Some experiences are so big they change your DNA" - Dexter Morgan

I heard this quotation during an episode of Dexter today, and it applies so appropriately to my family.   It seems especially relevant today, on Father's Day.  I may not be, biologically, Shawn Steil's daughter, but the DNA of my life has been inescapably altered by having him as my dad.

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Quote of the Day: Owning our choices

"The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are." - Joseph Campbell

Wow - does this quotation speak to you as much as it does me? I think we spend so much of our life trying to blend in or to be accepted, and this is a reminder that it's our right - our privilege - to be exactly who we are.

For me, I want that to manifest in the way I own my choices.  As I contemplate motherhood, this becomes even more important.  The level of criticism and judgment that is passed against mothers - especially by other mothers - is both horrifying and terribly sad.  I am trying to make a conscious effort to feel confident in exactly who I am and to own the choices that I make both as an adult and a someday mother.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Interesting Person Interview Series: Barb

Today I am delighted to share the interview with my aunt Barb.  Barb is one of my favorite people on the entire planet.  She is unbelievably thoughtful and kind, and one of the most interesting people you could ever meet.  I am thrilled that she's my aunt, and that she agreed to share her answers this week.

Barb's interview, after the break!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Song: James Vincent McMorrow - We Don't Eat

I don't have anything substantial to blog about today, so instead, let me leave you with a song recommendation.  James Vincent McMorrow - "We Don't Eat" is getting heavy rotation with me this week.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Scenes From A Week: June 9

How is it Sunday night already?  (Which, by the way, is a thought I have almost every single weekend).
a work event involving a cupcake truck = awesome.
a glass of rose at blackbird
dinner prep - avocado, mozzarella,  tomatoes, spinach
the w lobby - reminds me of miami (or maybe that's just all the
dexter i've been watching)
i'm a sucker for cool views - this one from the bliss spa dressing room
mid-week facial... i could get used to this
scott was a star at open mic night 
cool wall art at hidden shamrock 
friday night drinking al fresco
i used the massage groupon that scott gave me for christmas on saturday 
pro-lakeview wall art