Happy Valentine’s Day! Surprise someone today.

hear in cupHappy Valentine’s Day. I wish you all a beautiful day!

Let’s ALL surprise “someone” in a special way today. I’m going to send a “thank you” card to my Dentist. He did a fantastic job on my tooth the other day, showing kindness and waving his consultation fee. A friend of mine was engaged, last week things didn’t work out, engagement broken, I will surprise her today. I sent surprise chocolates to three friends in the mail last week.

The St. Jude card my girlfriend sent me, that arrived as a surprise in the mail, reminded me that it warms our heart to know “someone” is thinking of us. So, it was my turn to pay it forward and brighten other people’s day.

This heart in the cup was a clever idea. However, as I am half asleep when I make my coffee in the morning, I bet I would have poured my coffee over the heart.

Which would have turned my “coffee” into an “espresso – hot chocolate!”

Isn’t that how Chefs invent new specialty drinks — by accident!

MORE GOOD NEWS – weather in Chicago today, mid-40s!

Means flowers / chocolates won’t freeze before we deliver them.

Have a GREAT day!

Visit Atlas Obscura -> An adventure guide to hidden wonders in the world.

Travel the worldLast week I was going through my Junk folder on Outlook. As expected most of it was junk; however, I came across an email from, “Atlas Obscura.” Normally, I would not open an unknown email, but the subject header said, “You can spend the night in this formerly abandoned Scottish village.”  This piqued my interest, I want to visit Scotland one day.

Before opening the email, I decided to research “Atlas Obscura.” Turns out it is an online magazine created in 2009 by Joshua Foer and Dylan Thuras. They wanted to create an atlas / guidebook for people to learn about and explore obscure places around the world. They certainly have done that.

If you sign up for their weekly newsletter, you’ll be amazed at the different places you can explore. On their website, you can choose a country (Germany, for example) and you’ll be brought to a map of Germany where they have pointers you can click on with stories for that particular area, i.e. the world’s largest cuckoo clock, the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Worms, the “floating railway” to name a few.

On Eventbrite, I noticed they have Atlas Obscura Society Chicago. For the remainder of February and into March, they have some interesting events going on, i.e. learning about volcanoes and the birth of the most precious stones, interactive history of comics, murder mystery soiree, scavenger hunt, roller skating in the movies, immigrant stories and connections. I wrote to one of the field reps to see what the age range was for people attending. Have not heard back yet.

If you enjoy traveling and you’re getting bored with the normal tourist attractions, I highly recommend visiting “Atlas Obscura’s” website. You’ll definitely find obscure things to explore on your next adventure.

St. Jude… HE can make you listen!

BEE0C1FC-0997-4847-BD39-438E5B1A736DRecently, I came across some books on “coincidences” and “synchronicity” in life. We’ve all been there where something happens and we shake our head, because it’s an incredible coincidence… how could that happen?

For years now, I have prayed to St. Jude. He has helped me through some tough spots. Oh, I pray to God, but somehow I always go back to St. Jude. If you are familiar with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital then you know the wonderful story of actor, Danny Thomas, who prayed to St. Jude, “Show me my way in life and I will build you a shrine.” And build a shrine, Thomas did! St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital celebrates its 60th Anniversary in helping children with cancer. If you do not know story, you will be moved when you read it.

For a while now, I have been praying about my job search. I went to St. Jude and told him I was “tired,” and if he had a “heart” he would hear my prayers, help me out, send a sign! WELL, I did get a job offer, but the salary was so low I could not accept it.

On my way home, I was like a little kid – I was SO ANGRY! I really gave St. Jude a piece of my mind. I told him I was fed up with praying and asking for assistance. What a horrible joke he played on me. If I wasn’t meant to find a job yet, OK, but WHY get my hopes up and then embarrass me with an unacceptable offer?? Obviously, I was meant to learn something from this, but I was NOT seeing what it was.

Then I teased St Jude, I said, “Hey, and WHY do I keep finding LUCKY PENNIES, which remind me to “Trust in God,” if when I “try” to “Trust in God,” I see no path, no results. So, I VERY STERNLY told St. Jude I was taking a break from praying! I would NOT visit him anymore. I felt like a little child who tells their parents “I don’t love you anymore,” which isn’t true, but we want to see how they would react!

Well, this is HOW St. Jude reacted!!

St JudeI got home from work and checked the mail. I saw a small package in my name. Strange, I never get packages. Nowadays everyone just sends an email to communicate.

I did say to St. Jude, “You see, take a look, SOMEONE does CARE about ME!”

As I opened the package out fell a BIG RED ROSARY. I could not believe it. I had to smile, a “rosary??” THEN I looked at the outside of the card and it said, “The National Shrine of St. Jude!” SAY WHAT – a message from St. Jude through my girlfriend?

My girlfriend, who does not believe in God, had sent me a New Year’s gift. She had been in Florida and found this Italian rosary, which made her think of me. She admires my Faith in God. Also, she knows I pray to St. Jude and made this special card for me.

2CD4B989-53FA-43BC-8C5F-ABF4FAD52517Well, you can imagine… I got a good cry and a good laugh ALL at the same time.

St. Jude, he outdid himself! Perfect timing, such a coincidence.

So, next day I stopped by church, rosary and card in hand to light a candle by St. Jude. There is a book at St. Jude’s feet, where we can write a message.

I wrote, “Ok St. Jude, you’re not out of the woods, I still need a job, but you redeemed yourself and made me laugh! You worked a miracle in reaching out to me, I’ll give you that. I will pray to you… just a little while longer…”

Happy Chinese New Year (Spain to China)

chinese red shoesThe beauty of blogging is meeting fellow Bloggers from around the world. Last year, I met Marta through her blog, “Marta Lives in China.” She is from Spain and married a Chinese man. As her blog states, she lives in China and shares stories about life there compared to Spain. When she got married she had two weddings, one in China and one in Spain. She has fabulous pictures from both weddings. Recently, she shared her story about being pregnant and giving birth in China. If you visit her blog, you will be transported to China and learn about the Chinese way of life.

In her latest post, “Getting Ready for Chinese New Year.” Marta has photos of shopping for Chinese New Year. She mentions the importance of the color “red” in this celebration. This is her child’s first New Year’s, so it is very exciting.

Years ago when I worked in manufacturing a fellow co-worker, who was Vietnamese, brought in red envelopes ($1 inside) for ALL of his employees, he even included me. He invited me out for Chinese lunch with the group and wished me good fortune. I was honored to be included in their celebrations.

It’s a New Year, time to dust off my red shoes again, put on my prettiest red dress and head to Chinatown with my Chinese friends to celebrate! They will order the food, so I will try many new dishes.

Wishing a Happy Chinese New Year / Happy Lunar New Year to my Asian friends. Excited to be included in the festivities.

Prince charming is there… we just need to kiss a few toads first.

chocolate frog

Have you ever seen a BIG chocolate frog? When my friend sent this, I immediately thought of fairy tales we read as children that say, “We need to kiss a few toads, before me meet our Prince.” So, the big question would be, “How many, on an average, toads must we truly kiss to meet our Prince?”

I go to my mathematical friend, Edmark at “Learn Fun Facts,” in Hong Kong for this one.

Edmark, any research on this?

Help us out, give us hope (smile).

Homeless Man – Great Sense of Humor

The other night, I went to catch the train. A snow storm was on the way, so I was walking as fast as possible to get home before it hit. I was trekking along at a good pace and day dreaming, when I found myself behind a slow walking homeless man.

He was smoking a cigarette, that is what first caught my attention, and taking up the entire sidewalk. I admit, I was irritated by the smell of smoke and became doubly irritated when I was trying to pass him, but he was not allowing it.

Determined to keep my fast pace, as I tried to pass on his left, I politely said, “Excuse me, Sir.” As I said this, his left eye caught sight of me AND…

He cheerfully said, “A very Happy New Year to YOU!”

To which I replied, “And a Happy New Year to YOU too.”

He was so cheery, I had to smile at his greeting. At that point, we were walking side by side. I didn’t think it would be polite to speed past him. So, I kept pace with him.

He then said in a commanding tone of voice…

“This snow storm is coming, you know we ALL want to stay home tomorrow. I’m preparing my speech for my Boss when I call in sick in the morning.

I am going to tell him I can’t come in, because I have LEAKY BOOTS. Yes, my boots are leaking everywhere. There is so much water coming out of my “leaky boots” that it is impossible to come into work. My boots will be leaking and squeaking everywhere. I need to spend the day finding new boots.”

He caught me off guard with this funny story. I was laughing uncontrollably. LEAKY BOOTS, now that was a new one! I imagined his Manager thinking, “LEAKING BOOTS? Do I give him a free day or tell him to stuff his leaking boots with newspaper and get the heck into work!?”

He was thrilled that I found humor in his thought process. I truly could not stop laughing, a combination of his story, but the sound of his voice was so convincing that “leaky boots” were a major problem.

THEN, he laughed and said, “Creative writing classes come in handy.”

As a writer, his comment about “creative writing classes” made me laugh even harder. Of course, writers are always trying to be creative, and he sure hit the mark!

Parting ways at the train stop, I thanked him for giving me such a good belly laugh!

He smiled and said, “My pleasure, a good evening to you young lady.”

He got an additional 1000 brownie points for referring to me as a “young lady!”

Book Review: Big Miracles by Joanna Garzilli… jewelry in Florence, Italy

78369de7-95b5-49a6-b8e6-ddbc79271ef3A few days ago I was at the bookstore. It’s my favorite place to be besides browsing jewelry shop windows in Italy. When my children were young, if we were in Florence, of course, I would have to look at the jewelry on the Ponte Vecchio. My younger daughter would tell me, “Mama, promise, no looking in the windows, we are going for gelato.”

This is funny, because if any of you have been to Florence and have walked across the Ponte Vecchio, you KNOW it is IMPOSSIBLE to walk across the bridge and not look at jewelry. All the shops sell jewelry. The bridge is glittering in white, yellow and rose gold!

I would kid her that she was half Italian, jewelry was in her DNA. One day, I might be telling her not to look in the windows. As she gave me a scowl, I would give a grin and say, “I promise, I will do my BEST to walk in the middle of the road.” See photo, I did a zig zagging walk across the bridge. Can you picture it?  Look in one window to the right, have her pull me to the center, then go to the left, look in one window, have her pull me to the center! It was most amusing.

43a807e3-0894-4785-9fce-bc9248d95e75Guess what – NOW, she is at the age where she sends me photos of jewelry she likes. I KNEW this would happen!

Back to the bookstore. As it is a new year, there was a table full of motivational / spiritual types of books. Browsing through them, I found this book about “Big Miracles,” by Joanna Garzilli.

It’s a book about connecting with your Spirit. One thing she brought up, which I had never heard of, was experiencing the “dark night of the soul.” She talks about when she experienced this period and soon after met her husband. She explains that “the dark night of the soul,” is when we are going through a period of hopelessness/despair, it’s not depression, we are low, but somehow we know we must rid ourselves of negativity, so we can move toward happiness. She spoke about uncontrollable crying and illness that wouldn’t go away. She realized later that her soul was releasing the part of her that felt unlovable, because shortly after this she met her future husband.

She has some interesting insights. I think with each book we read, we gain a little more knowledge that helps us in self discovery, focusing on our vision and destiny in life. Some years we are right on target, other years it is slow moving and then suddenly it seems our hard work pays off and we are catapulted into the happiness and success we have been focusing on.

Life, it’s not easy, but if we focus on the goal — WE GET THERE!