Monday, October 14, 2013

October is the day!

When in Chicago, do what Chicagoans do, right?! So I'm in Chicago for my birthday and having a wonderful time. But I still remember that I made a promise to reveal something today and I'm not about to break my promise. For reals. Just not right now. Please try your request again later....

Gotcha! I'm kidding. Here goes. When I finished Octoberfest last year, I didn't have an idea how I could move forward with the blog even though I really wanted to. And then I realized I wanted to continue trying new things, especially when it comes to traveling. But considering I'm not a famous published author (yet...), I can't very well take a trip somewhere exotic all the time. Wouldn't that be nice though. But what I CAN do is discover hidden gems a little closer to home. So here's the plan:

For one year, every week, I will venture somewhere "new" in Iowa and find something that location is somehow "known for," it could be a place, an object, a food, a drink, a person, etc. the sky is the limit here. I will travel there experience it and then blog about it. It's my hope that by the end of he year, I will have discovered so many new things about our wonderful state and will share them with you! Maybe it will spur some ideas for vacations for all of you. But I'm going to need your help. To take on such a commitment, a lot of planning must happen. I will have to research and plan this out now in order to make a "trip" happen once a week. Therefore between now and Jan. 1, I'm going to be asking for ideas on where to go. What are your favorite hotspots in Iowa? Who do you know that I just simply must meet? What food or drink do I need to devour? I won't know these great places to go unless you tell me. Oh! And I'm holding auditions for traveling partners, basically the requirements are: a love of adventure and...well breathing. Pretty low standards really. So, can you help me? Are you up to the challenge? I'm going to pester you all incessantly because the only way this will be good is if I start off with good ideas. Put on your thinking caps and start bombarding me with ideas! Share this with friends and let's get to the really cool places in Iowa. I'd love to have feedback on the idea in general too. We have several weeks to really put a great plan into motion. 

Now I must do as Chicagoans do: explore the city, eat a good hot dog and/or deep dish pizza (or both), and try not to get tagged by a screaming taxi. For now, I'm off. I have replaced the song lyrics of "hot child in the city," to "single girl in the city!" I have my favorite city to explore. Oh and a birthday to celebrate! :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October know what that means

Don't you just hate it when someone says "I have something to tell you," and then follows it up with "no, I can't tell you right now." I hate that too. But I'm going to do that right now. It's for your own good. Don't you hate when someone says that too? Me too. I'm glad we had this discussion. Well that's it folks, thanks for reading.

Hah, I wouldn't do that to you, my as-of-last-year-loyal followers! Some of you might be saying, "Shawnna, you're being a tease," and I take real offense to that. If I am a tease, then Madonna is a virgin. Or is she just like a virgin? As usual, I'm getting off track. This is just for building buzz, people. As the title of this post alludes to, I'm about to embark on a new adventure. And I would love to tell you about it...just not right now. I know, I know it's not fair. But life is not fair (I also hate when people tell me that). Because this fantastical brain of mine thinks way too many steps ahead, I wanted to commemorate last year's Octoberfest adventure by announcing the new journey on my birthday. What could be more fitting?!! If you don't remember the exact date of my birthday I won’t make you jump through another hoop: it’s Oct. 14. So 14 days from now I will be announcing what the new journey is and here’s a sneak peek: I’m going to need your help. Yes you. And you. And you and your brother. So your job, should you choose to accept it, is to help me build buzz until Oct. 14 and then it’s off the hinges on what I might ask you to do. You just never know. You’ll have to wait and see. If you’d like to guess what the new adventure is, I’ll entertain guesses. And if you offer me enough money and tell a bunch of your friends about my blog, I might just spill the beans early. I have no shame, if the price is right, I’ll do pretty much anything. I’m only teasing.  

Talk to you all soon!

Monday, November 26, 2012

NATIONAL Exposure!!

Go check out right now and you'll see MY notes along with some words from my blog post and a link back to my site!!! Beyond EXCITED! I've hit the BIG time! (ok, not really but it's exciting nonetheless!) :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Much like the stars of Saved by the Bell miss their anonymity, I missed you guys. But I am absolutely THRILLED to let you in on some exciting news!! My blog is about to get a huge boost of exposure. I got word tonight from Caitlin Boyle, creator and author of the Operation Beautiful books and movement, that my blog will be featured on her website, TOMORROW! Holy Amazeballs Batman! The Operation Beautiful movement has been featured on the Today Show and Oprah! And all of her fans will be able to view MY blog! I can't believe it! I just need you guys to do me a favor and return your support to her website by visiting it to check out my mention. Anyone who is willing to feature my blog deserves to have the same kind of support in return. And the Operation Beautiful is a great idea to support for girls and women everywhere. I'm beyond excited to see how much more exposure this might give my blog - I'm prepared for little to none and I will still be excited nontheless but this is a whole new audience to be exposed to and that's a great step in getting my blog out there to more people. After tomorrow I hope to do a "best of" post recapping Octoberfest and then I'll be asking for your input on how to keep the blog going. Stay tuned to all of that...

One more thing before I let you go, two weeks ago on campus, I went into the same bathroom that I posted one of my Operation Beautiful note, and discovered a whole slew of post-it notes on the mirror each one expressing a positive sentiment. I was so pleasantly shocked and I knew that it could NOT have been a coincidence. MY note caused a whole bunch of positivity in return. See...the world CAN become a better place, one note at a time. I'm more than happy to do my part and it does my heart good to see others returning the favor! :) Until tomorrow!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Octoberfest Day 31: "Operation Beautiful"

I am anticipating you all asking me what my favorite activity of the month was so I thought I would beat you to the punch. The activity for Day 31 was my favorite, hands down. Now I know what you're thinking, "how could you choose just one activity to call your favorite?" It's simple. What I did for the very last day of the month truly represented what this was all about. I set out to try something new each day of the month. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I wanted to get out of the ruts of doing the same things day in and day out. I wanted to get my head out of my apps and experience life from a different viewpoint. I wanted to share my journey with all of you in the hopes that it would inspire each one of you to live each day to the fullest. And if one thing I did helped make the world a better place, then I would consider the month to be a success. The idea behind Octoberfest was about celebrating my birthday. The end result became much bigger than that. When you do something selfless for others, the act of pure kindness becomes bigger than you and can have far reaching results that you aren't expecting. That's what I experienced on  Day 31 and I will never forget it. I had an idea of another random act of kindness and my friend Hannah told me about a movement that was taking the idea one step further. It's called Operation Beautiful and it's about spreading positive messages to girls, various ages, all over the world with sticky notes. Right now, we live in a society that is very critical of phsycial beauty. Bullying is very prevalent in schools. And even when girls pass their teen years and become adults, we still struggle with body image and accepting ourselves just the way we are. In a way, the pressure becomes even worse the older we get. When I was in high school, I wrote an original oratory on body image and how little girls are subjected to it even under the age of 5. Disney princesses are always physically beautiful, very small in stature and most times projecting unrealistic ideals. My speech ended up being the 5th best in the state. The message behind the oratory was simple: every girl is beautiful no matter her size, shape, color, etc. Real beauty goes beyond skin and what's on the outside. So I took 7 different sticky notes and I wrote various messages on each of them varying from "Hello Gorgeous, have a wonderful day!" to "You are perfect just the way you are." Then I went to my grocery store, the mall and Drake campus and I put the sticky notes in random areas where girls would see them: bathroom stalls, dressing rooms, on women-specific grocery items, etc. Most of the time, I hid the sticky note so it wouldn't be super obvious and would truly be an element of surprise once a girl/woman discovered it. It's my hope that the woman who has been on the receiving end of the note, stopped her day and truly felt good about herself in that given moment. If she was having a bad day, I hope it cheered her up. If she's been thinking critically about herself lately, then I hope she realized that her beauty is perfect just as it is. If she's been depressed because she doesn't feel she can contribute anything worthwhile to this world, then I hope she thought twice and discovered that we are ALL capable of becoming something. Every woman is unique and different and has a perspective that no other woman shares. That's what makes our world beautiful. Girls should be reminded of this constantly, especially in the teenager years when they're more susceptible to temptations and peer pressure. And as women get into their 20s and are trying to figure out their place in the world, it's even more important for them to realize that they are still beautiful no matter what. And as women age and experience more life, that perspective is mature and beautiful.

I felt so overjoyed spreading the uplifting messages. The only thing more exciting would have been seeing a woman come across the notes. But the way I'm imagining their faces is probably pretty accurate. Again, I couldn't have been more proud of myself in that moment. Being selfless and giving and thoughtful is a truly wonderful feeling. Operation Octoberfest: Day 31. Beautiful indeed.

Octoberfest Day 30: "Frightening Regrets"

I'm going to regret the activity for Day 30. At least that's what I thought. But the reality wasn't nearly as frightening as I thought it would be. I spent part of evening with my nieces again as they were trick or treating in Des Moines. Sarah went as an 80s rock girl and Londyn was Jessie her favorite character from Toy Story. I didn't get to see Sarah as much because she was walking around with the neighbor kids. Londyn was so excited for Halloween. She actually said to my mom "it's Hawoween! Gobwins are coming!" :) I'm sure she picked that up from one of her cartoons. So she was ecstatic to trick or treat. And she wanted to wear her costume everywhere. Even when it wasn't Halloween. It was super fun to take her around. After every house she said "got more canny" and then told me her bucket was "too heaby" so I helped carry it for her. The other funny thing is that nobody could understand what she was saying for her joke. She talks pretty well for her age but at just 3 she's still got her own little language. Walking around with her made me reminisce about how much fun it was to trick or treat as a kid. My dad made a map of our neighborhood and we would come home with an entire pillowcase full of candy. But back then beggar's night lasted from like 5-10 or something crazy. It was a lot longer than now, I know that for sure. Once we got back to my brother's, Londyn was sharing her candy with us and still excited about her loot. I decided that once I got home, I was going to attempt to conquer one of my fears for my activity. I was going to watch a scary movie by myself on the eve of Halloween. I mean the timing makes sense. But here's the thing: I don't like scary things anymore as an adult LOL. When I was younger, I wanted to watch scary movies and go to haunted houses. Except for the time when we went to the haunted forest and I assured my aunt I was old enough to go since my cousins were also going. Well what we didn't plan on was that two of the "scary guys" trapped us in one part of the forest and wouldn't let us past them and their chainsaws. You can imagine that would be particularly terrifying for a 9-year-old. Once those idiots did lets us past them, I threw up everywhere in fear and had to walk in front with the guide the rest of the time. I haven't been able to get past my fears since then. Occasionally I'll watch something scary but I hide my face the entire time. Even when previews of scary movies come on, I change the channel or hide my face and plug my ears. It's silly, I know. But when you live without any roommates, the smallest noises can really get your mind wandering. So I found one of the Friday the 13th movies (perfect, reminds me of my childhood) and set out to watch it, heart pounding already. Guess what?! The movie was a joke. It wasn't scary at all. In fact, it was quite stupid. I couldn't take any of it seriously and didn't last more than 30 minutes. Who would have thunk it?! I thought for sure I would be terrified and instead I'm laughing at the absurdness of this plot! Now in hindsight, I know I could have picked a scarier movie but I'm making up the rules here LOL. The interesting thing about conquering a fear is that things are almost always worse when you imagine them because you're unsure of what to expect. Fear of the unknown is the real culprit. Once I set out to conquer the fear, it turned out to be a non-issue. If that's the case I'm wondering about some of my other approaching a guy I find attractive. Ahh geesh, that's too much. Jason is the only guy I'm approaching tonight and I just turned the channel on him. Until tomorrow, my bravery is done for tonight.

Octoberfest Day 29: "Dear Miss Manners"

Dear Miss Manners, boy do I have a story for you. And I know I'm not alone. Raise your hand if you've ever received poor customer service? Ok, yes I know it's a ridiculous question, of course we all have. Unfortunately, things seem to be getting worse in this department as more and more people try to abolish the term "manners" from everyday existence. But I'm not going to let it ruin my activity for Day 29. This was Sarah's 11th birthday so we decided to go out to eat and celebrate. She loves sushi so we settled on Waterfront and headed over there. I wasn't really in the mood for sushi so I opted for a clam strip basket and ordered the Waterfront roll with cream cheese. I've had that particular sushi roll before, it's made with shrimp tempura, cream cheese, cucumber and avocado, I believe. We got our food and I took one bite of the sushi roll and about heaved. It tasted old. And fish is one food you don't want to taste old. I couldn't hardly get the one bite down. It was absolutely disgusting. Right then and there, I decided I wasn't eating anymore of it, that's how bad it tasted. When the waitress came back I handed her the plate and said, "I'm sorry but I won't be eating that. It doesn't taste right, tastes old or something." She looked at the plate, then back at me, back at the plate, looked at me again like I was stupid and then proceeded to walk away, NOT SAYING ONE WORD! No apology, no "can I get you another one?" NOTHING. It was like I didn't even say anything to her. Ugh. So rude. Then when we were done eating, she brought my bill WITH THE SUSHI ROLL PRICE STILL ON MY TAB! Umm, no, this is not happening. So I motioned for her to come over and said, "umm, I'm being charged for a sushi roll that tasted horrible and that I didn't even eat?" And she simply said, "well I'll have to talk to my manager." Ok great. Let's get them over here because now I'm at the point where I'd LOVE to give this entire place a piece of my mind. So she comes back and sets my bill down, AGAIN not saying one word. No apology. No recognition that they adjusted my price, etc. No nothing. She literally never acknowledged the poor food. And then in turn the poor service by the restaurant and especially her. She got one whole dollar for a tip. I was flabbergasted. And just to piss her off even more, I decided to order dessert. I needed to try something new for the day anyway. So I ordered tiramisu which wasn't bad. It wasn't my favorite thing in the world but it was good. I kept thinking that I had tiramisu when I was in Europe but then I remembered it was actually creme brulee.

I fulfilled my activity for the day with a distracted mind. I couldn't believe that lady had treated the situation so poorly. Don't people realize how expensive it is to go out to eat anymore? It's becoming a luxury for most people, the least you can do as a server is give them a good experience. It's my hope that people reading my blog can pass along the note that by treating people with kindness, dignity and respect, manners go a long way. And really do help make the world a better place to live. And dine.