Archive for the ‘Place/Environment’ Category

#7 – Whiskey, Anyone?

Don’t let your eyes fool you….


  That’s the front of my shirt.  The back reads….


A lot of people look at the front and think it says “Walt Disney.”  Then they see the back and realize that their eyes played a trick on them.

Given that Task #7 in the battle of the UNswas Drink a Shot of Whiskey, the shirt fit the occasion.  The setting for this task was a motorcycle rally held in my home town.


I love riding on the back of a motorcycle and dig the whole vibe of 200,000 people with wind-blown hair and tattoos walking around the streets of town.

When I was growing up my dad rode a motorcycle and took me and my sister for rides.  We both got really comfortable riding and can easily side into the ‘biker chick’ role for a weekend, leaving our regular life behind in the dust for a few days.

 IMG_2144  Thunder 2011

Did you know that your first impression of someone is largely shaped by the environment you meet them in?  For example, if you met me at work, you might think of me as an educated conservative.  If you met me at a bike rally ordering a shot of whisky at a crowded bar, you would think something completely different.  Just like the Malt Whiskey shirt, your eyes might fool you

Me:  I’ll have a shot, please.

Bartender:  A shot of what?

Me:  Oh, a shot of whisky.

Irritated Bartender:  What kind?

Me:  Oh, I don’t know, whatever.

…and that, my friends, was the beginning of a fun-filled weekend and successful completion of Task #7.  Thanks Mike, for suggesting that one.

When you’re in different environments, it’s important to know your own BACKBONE and be consistently you, no matter where you are and what’s happening around you.  The person you are in church is the same person you are at work…at a motorcycle rally…or in Las Vegas for the weekend. 

Different Sides.  Same Person. One Backbone.

Have you ever pinned someone wrong because of the environment you met them in?  Have you ever been misjudged yourself?

Who’s Under the Hat?

The calendar shows that spring has arrived, but Mother Nature is still pounding the northeastern U.S. with rain.  Even though everything is wet and squishy….May is charity season for many of the non-profit organizations in Pittsburgh. 

On Saturday, I was invited  to the Pittsburgh Park Conservancy’s Spring Hat Luncheon. 

There was one requirement of all guests…to wear a hat.


I’m not even close to calling myself a socialite, but it was fun to dress up for an afternoon and attend a fancy outing.  I found a vintage hat from the 1930’s in my parents’ attic.  Imagine THIS flower madness sitting on top of my head…


The table settings were garden-themed….

IMG_4219Yep, that’s my mimosa front and center in the shot.  Just pretend like you didn’t see it there, okay?

Gift bags were a nice touch…and a very good distraction from the fact that everyone was sinking into the muddy lawn.  Squish, squish, squish…


My favorite part was the desert.  So artistic.  The little cake looked just like a hat!


Two hours later… it was over.  I drove home and happily changed back into sweatpants. 

To tell the truth, being in elite, formal environments is one of my least favorite social activities.  I think it comes from growing up in a middle-class family and having the mindset of…I should be the person waiting the tables, not the person on the guest list. 

If you tend to get uncomfortable in certain social situations, one of the best ways to overcome the anxiety and widen your comfort zone is to keep putting yourself out there…a little at a time.  Keep in mind that the environment doesn’t change YOU.  Being comfortable in your own skin is the key to fitting in, wherever you go. 

It’s not about the hat.  It’s about the person underneath its brim.

Raise up your virtual glass with me, my friends.  Cheers! 

Do you feel at ease in different social environments? Do you ever feel  uncomfortable?

 Blogging Schedule:  Since you asked…this spring and summer, I plan to post twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays.   There are some exciting things in store over the next few months, so I do hope that you’ll continue to follow along!

V & W: West Virginia

Shame on me for not posting on V-Day!  So, let’s double down with W. 

I say West Virginia, you say ___________________.

Go on….fill in the blank…the first thing that comes to your mind is ______(what)?

Did anyone think…hillbilly…coal miner…squirrel hunter…or another word that stereotypes West Virginians? 

If you did…you’re not alone.  Making generalizations about people based on where they live happens all the time.  I live in Pittsburgh so most people assume that I’m a beer-drinking Democrat who loves the Pittsburgh Steelers.  If you’re from West Virginia, most everyone in the States would generalize you as a hillbilly.  Why?  Because we open our local newspapers and read articles like these:


(note: I have paraphrased and omitted names and to protect the guilty)

Two West Virginia residents who were stopped with a back seat full of stolen beef jerky pleaded guilty on Tuesday to summary charges in district court.

Police stopped the 1992 Chevrolet Cavalier because the license plate was dangling.  It was then that “a large amount of boxed and packaged beef jerky was observed in plain view on the rear seat,” police said in a court affidavit.

The two men, who are cousins living in Milton, W.Va., appeared in court…

Police said the price of the salted beef was estimated at more than $200.  At the time of their arrest, the men told police they were headed to Pennsylvania, where a relatives’ car had broken down.  The cousins admitted to stealing the goods from various auto-parts stores and gas stations along the way, police said.

The pair “attempted to sell the items to various people to cover travel expenses and gas money.”   

The judge told them not to return to the area.  “No we, won’t.  Sorry your honor,” they said.

Can you even imagine the conversation that these two had when they were coming up with this idea? 

Hey, Bubba – we don’t have any gas money.

That’s okay, Billy Bob, I’ve got an idea.  Let’s steal beef jerky from gas stations and then sell them for 50 cents a piece at highway rest stops.  That should cover us. 

Hey you…wanna buy a Slim Jim?

How is your area stereotyped?  Are there any aspects of your own personality that meet the stereotype? 

On Friday, I’m doubling down with X and Y.  Saturday concludes the A-Z Challenge with a real zinger!

O: An Original Outdoor Obsession

Do you go stir crazy on long road trips? 

With a 5-hour car ride on tap today, I went a little mentally bonko and decided to count everything along the road that started with the Letter O.  After a while, I became obsessed with orange highway cones.  Not good. 

Obsessions are like quicksand…they suck you in, won’t let you go, and distract your thinking from everything else.  Most of the time, obsessions are negative, especially when a person dwells on one thing and allows it to color every aspect of their life.  Every once in a while, however, we need short-term obsessions to take our minds away from our troubles…a walk in the woods, a day at the beach, or an afternoon at the spa.  Ahhh.  Then, it’s best to snap back to reality. 

Part way into the road trip and long after I stopped the endless counting of Os, we made a stop in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.  Okay, maybe I didn’t quite get over the orange obsession.


The town is known for the history of its natural springs.  It still has an operating public bath house and is called the country’s first spa.  George Washington helped to settle the area in the middle 1700s.  This is marked as his bathtub, which was way cool to see up close.

George Washingtons Bathtub

Berkeley Springs 

I can just imagine George and his entourage coming here, putting their troubles aside, and soaking in the waters to take their minds off the battlefields.  Even 250 years ago, escapes from reality were needed.  In a way, I’d like to think that this place was an original outdoor obsession.

When you need to get away from it all, where do you go; what do you do?

N: Nightstand Nightmares

Is your life at a high point

I can say that mine is because here I am in High Point, North Carolina.   People travel here from all over the globe to shop for furniture.  It’s the furniture capital of the WORLD.  My house is a mismatched mess and this trip was long overdue. 

There are a ton of stores in High Point to pick from.  After a little research, we decided to check out Furnitureland South, the largest furniture store on earth. 

At the entry to the showroom is an 85-foot-high chest of drawers…highboy style.


It’s leg was three times my height.  Just image how big the underwear must be that live inside those drawers!  

This is the kind of thing that can give a girl Nightstand  Nightmares

IMG_4083  Help!  I can’t reach my undies!

Inside, the showroom is 1.2 million square feet.  On display is about every brand of couch, chair, bed, nightstand, table, and home decorating accessory known to man.   To someone like me who shops for furniture about twice in a lifetime, the place was overwhelming.  But, it was also totally cool because it eliminated the need to drive from store to store looking around.  

IMG_4090 IMG_4085

Meet Jessica, the sweetest, most patient design consultant who ever lived. 

IMG_4111She trudged through the store with us all day long, explaining the different manufacturers, designers, styles, and patterns. 

Jessica: …and this is the Donald Trump line.

Me:  Donald Trump has a furniture line?

Jessica:  Yeah, a lot of celebrities are getting into furniture now.  Paula Dean was here last week; her collection is over…there.

Me:  You mean the cook on TV?

Jessica:  Yes, that Paul Dean.

Me:  I kind of like this headboard.  What’s this one called?

Jessica:  Trump.

Me:  How original.

And, best of all, Jessica helped to steer us clear of areas that were not our style.  Apparently, animals with horns are hot….for indoor and out.


All in all it was a productive trip. 

Living room…done. 

Bedroom suit…done.

Bank account…gone.

Do you think your house and the stuff inside is a reflection of your personality?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

H: Hi Honey, I’m Home

This weekend, I’ll be spending the entire weekend at home.  That’s 48 hours…in a row.  I haven’t spent a weekend at home in a while.  There is something just so familiar and comforting about being home.  Isn’t there?


Over the years, I’ve made the Letter L across the country.  I grew up in Pennsylvania, moved to Southern California, hopped up to Seattle, then retraced it all in reverse. 

Sometimes I miss living in California, but Pennsylvania will always be home to me.  Even when I lived on the west coast, I continued to call western Pennsylvania home.  There’s a deep meaning attached to the word home that isn’t as tangible at the word house. 

The meaning of home can be different for everyone.  To me, home is a place of companionship, where people share your life in all-encompassing, deep and meaningful ways.  A home can be any place, big or small, and it doesn’t have to have a roof.  A home is like a magnet…a place that pulls you close and makes it hard to leave.

Where do you call home? 

If you missed the Glitter & Glam Giveaway, backtrack to Friday and enter to win!  Entries will be accepted until 9PM on Monday.

If you liked this post, you may also like Place Matters.

E: The Evil Electric Eco-Washer

Allow me to introduce you to the Evil Electric Eco-Washer:

Devil Washer

It’s pure evil, I tell you.

I do my part to make a small impact on the earth’s environment.  I recycle.  I reuse plastic bags.  I take the wire hangers back to the dry cleaners.  Dry cleaning isn’t responsible – oops!

I would not call myself an environmentalist, but I do consider the environment in my daily activities and buying decisions.  Last week, I bought a rain chain that will take the water from one of my downspouts and direct it into a flower bed instead of a drain.  When it stops raining here (umpf!), it will be installed.

Show Your Rain Chain

When it was time to replace my washing machine, I did the environmentally-responsible thing and looked for one with the Energy Star label.  It was more expensive but was advertised to use less water and less energy than a regular washer.

The Devil WasherIt uses less water all right.  But, it doesn’t do its job.   It’s evil.  I hate it.  When I went to the store to make this monumental investment, the floor model must have been trained to hide its devil tail, because now that it’s brother is living in my laundry room, it’s evilness is unmistakable.  

I want my old, water-hogging, energy sucking environmentally irresponsible washing machine back.  There’s enough water to go around for the sake of clean clothes, isn’t there? If not, maybe I can pile my laundry on the lawn under my new rain chain. 

Do you consider yourself environmentally responsible?  Do you own any evil home appliances?

What’s the Deal, Yo?

Pink:  Slam slam, oh hot damn…what part of party don’t you understand?

Me:  Apparently, lots of parts.  Gruff!

The scene was spin class at my gym.  My favorite class.  Or, at least it used to be my favorite.  A lot has changed over the past few months.  It’s become popular.  You have to show up 30 minutes early to sign up.  It’s a party that I simply don’t understand.

A break down of the spin room at LA Fitness tonight:

  • 36 bikes;
  • 1 instructor on speed;
  • 32 spinners under the age of 29;
  • 2 spinners over the age of 69;
  • 1 guy with a sweat-drenched shirt (he had taken the prior 2 classes);
  • 6 gangster rap songs;
  • 3 Flo Rida songs;
  • 1 Pink song; and
  • various songs by groups with scary names…like Pitbull, Sick Puppies, Far East Movement, and Waka Flocka Flame.

The other 35 spinning class-goers were singing the words to every song…doing free-for-all dance moves with their upper bodies…adjusting their tension bars on cue…and peddling like mad. 

I wasn’t singing…or dancing from the waist up…or participating in the spontaneous wave.  I thought that only happened at baseball stadiums.  What’s the deal, yo? 

So, if you ever intend to take a spin class at the Pittsburgh-area LA fitness, make sure you practice up on your moves to Flo-Rida, including a serious of hand pumps and finger-points to the perky instructor while belting out your best …Who dat girl, who dat girl, who dat girl??????


If someone asked me if I thought I was cool my answer would be hell-ya-yo…for my age and circumstances…unless, of course, it makes me instantly uncool by just saying hell-ya-yo.

Being chameleon-like, I can fit into many different environments without getting super uncomfortable.  A secret desire to bail doesn’t well up inside of me unless I don’t feel safe.  Safety is a huge ticket item for me.  What about you?

Do you easily adapt to different environments?  What pushes you out of your comfort zone?

A State of Ignorant Bliss

Do you ever feel like we live in a fast-paced world of digital gluttony?  I do.  Just last week I had a not-so-romantic dinner date with my laptop followed by a dessert course with an iPod Touch.  Then there was the nightcap with Mr. Blackberry.

Sometimes a person simply needs to get away.  To unplug.  To relax.  To tune out.  To leave their electronic gadgets behind.  To experience freedom from the umbilical cord to virtual reality. 

Over this past week I did just that.  Everything with an on/off switch was powered down.  I packed a suitcase and flew to a far away land…


I sat in places like this…

made connections with creatures that I can’t friend on Facebook…

…and experienced life from a completely unconnected perspective. 

When asked how I felt on the last day of the trip, my response was I’m in a state of ignorant bliss.”

If you were born before 1980, then you can probably remember back to when there was no Google…just 14-volume encyclopedia sets and public library card catalogues.   You can remember when there were no 3-D Street Views…just the world outside your window.  You also remember when there wasn’t a constant symphony of buzzes, beeps, and pings going off all around you…just the sound of leaves crunching beneath your footsteps and birds chirping overhead. 

In the world today where we are all so connected, I have to wonder…are we losing the most meaningful connections of all? 

How important is technology in your everyday relationships?  Do you ever feel like escaping from cyber-space?

Curiosity and the Care Package

Most of this past week I spent on airplanes and working in Salt Lake City.  With the few free hours I did have, exploring the City was on my to-do list.   A fresh, wet snow had fallen the night before and everything was beautifully snow-covered…

The hotel was only a few blocks from Temple Square, so that’s where I headed first.  This time of year, most visitors to Utah are going to the ski resorts, but Temple Square is the State’s most popular tourist destination.  It covers three city blocks and is the center of Mormonism…or as the locals say, LDS.  Short for “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” 

Besides seeing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on TV for a random holiday special, I didn’t know much else about the religion.  So, it was Curiosity that drew me to Temple Square.  And, I wanted to see the actual Temple, up close.

When you think about it, Curiosity is kind of powerful.  It’s the part of our personalities that drives us to explore…to uncover information…to find answers.  It’s a driving force, yet a personality trait that’s rarely talked about. 

I guess that makes me curious about Curiosity. 

After walking around the Square, going through the visitor’s center, and talking to a few missionaries there, my curiosity about LDS faded…and pretty quickly.  I found out about the basic tenants of their beliefs, looked at the amazing architecture and Christmas displays, and then I was ready to explore other parts of the downtown.  

Why was my curiosity satisfied so fast?  I thought about this for a while and determined that it was because I wasn’t very attracted to the subject.  And, when I’m not attracted to something, I’m not drawn to dig deeper. 

The same goes with people. If I’m attracted to someone’s personality (or looks), I want to know more about them.  I ask questions.  I want details. I seek more information.  I’m engaged.  I care. 

However, if I’m not attracted to something or someone, I’m not curious.  I don’t care that much. I don’t ask questions. I’m ready to move on. 

Does that mean that Attraction + Curiosity = Caring?

I’ve never cared about something or someone simply because there was an attraction.  The caring always seems to develop from the “information gathering” that occurs out of curiosity.  It’s the curiosity that develops the relationship, not the attraction.  But, it’s the attraction that spurs the curiosity. 

How strong is your sense of curiosity?  Do you think that attraction and curiosity are linked?