April 30, 2013

Cleanse

After seeing the scale start to creep back up slowly over the past 4 months, I decided that it is high time to nip this issue in the bud and get my body (and brain) back on track.  The incessant stress since Christmas - CHRISTMAS - has done bad, bad things to my eating habits and my waistline. And despite attempting a couple of "resets" nothing has stuck except the additional poundage on my ass, so it's apparently time to get hard on myself and try to regain some of my health so that I'm really ready to make these big changes in my life in the best of all possible states.

A couple of my friends have had varying degrees of success recently with cleanse programs.  I'm not going to name them because I'm still of the belief that any "diet" that costs you more than the foods you put on your plate on a regular basis is a fad, and I refuse to buy into them.  ALL of my weight was lost with the development of healthy habits, calorie counting and exercise.  Plain and simple.  And hard.  Very, very hard.  But actually, when I go back and read my food journals from those early days, not as hard as I've made it out to be now.  The key is actually SIMPLICITY.  Simple rules to live by, simple eating, cutting out the crap.  The hard part is being of sound mind enough to stick to it and when you have a good day, to wake up the next morning and do it again.

But anyway, the idea of a whole foods "cleanse" that I didn't have to pay for was still appealing to me, so I downloaded some of the food lists from these programs and they all seem to say pretty much the same thing - to reset your digestive system, eliminate wheat, gluten, soy, milk, eggs, sugar and a couple of other GMO foods (bananas, oranges and peanuts) and opt for whole grains, fruits and veggies and healthy oils.  Duh.  It's perfectly simple.  So for the next 2 weeks, this is what I'm going to do.  I am taking a daily multivitamin and calcium, so I'm not stripping my body of everything.  And while I'm laid up nursing this calf injury, this is the best time to reset my diet because I'm not burning a ton of calories every week that I need to replace.

This made me laugh this morning.  I'm such a bad ass for doing this.  HA!

Day One wasn't easy.  Probably because I totally had the "Last Supper" binge of Cheetos and Diet Coke on Sunday night.  (I mean - why?)  So when 4pm rolled around I was totally craving sugar, caffeine and pretty much any other junk food I could think of to shove in my face.  I didn't ignore my craving.  I fed it with a Raw Bar of nuts and fruit and a large iced green tea.  It worked well enough to get me through the slump.  I even managed to go out to a show with a 2 drink minimum last night and ordered a delicious iced pomegranate green tea instead of 2 glasses of red wine, which I would have preferred.  Thank goodness my motivation is still high.  I can imagine that as the weeks progress, this is going to get tedious.  But I know I'm going to start feeling better really soon.  So I'm going to hang on.  I'm not starving for anything but junk.  And that says a lot right there.

Today I put cashew butter in my oatmeal.  Already Day Two is so much better.  I have a new favorite breakfast item.  Oh damn it was so good.  And already in the mirror this morning my eyes are brighter and my face is starting to clear up.  I was broken out so badly it was gross.  Bye bye toxins.  Not nice knowin ya.

I'll keep you posted on the rest of the week.  My prep for food this week included baking fresh cod and chicken breasts in toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds.  So delicious.  And ever since I discovered my baby crockpot for cooking grains, I won't make them any other way.  So I cooked a big batch of wild rice and quinoa to go with the meats, and then another batch of organic pumpkin pie oatmeal (clean eating recipe below) which is what I added the cashew butter to this morning.  Picked up some huge bags of carrots, peppers, baby squash, kale, cherry tomatoes and berries, berries, berries.  I don't like not being able to eat eggs or yogurt right now.  Those are the two things that I will be adding back in rather quickly once this is over, but I'm going to at least try adding back in only organic and local stuff to try to stay as clean as possible.

The whole point of this is to feel good about it.  But I think I'm going to if I can hang on to it long enough.  The initial period is two weeks.  So let's see what good habits I can re-develop in two weeks (drinking water and cutting out soda is a BIG one right off the bat).  I'm not sure I'm a person who can live clean all the time, I like ice cream and fast food too much, but it's the moderation that I need to get back, and perhaps doing something that makes me feel really great about myself will jumpstart that process for me again.

Organic Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

1 cup organic steel cut oats
1 cup water
1 cup organic unsweetened almond milk
3/4 cup organic canned pumpkin
2 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp organic vanilla
2 packets Truvia or Stevia (you can use organic maple syrup or honey to sweeten this as well, but my current plan eliminates those)

Mix all the above ingredients in a 4-cup slow cooker (Little Dipper) and set to high.  Cook for 4 hours - or until it's done to your liking.  Many people call this "overnight oatmeal" but with grains, I don't leave them to cook overnight even on low because they have too high a tendency to burn around the edges and get too mushy.  4 hours is plenty of time to cook this dish.

Enjoy!

April 26, 2013

Of Baby Elephants

I have a baby elephant.  Well, she's not really MY baby elephant, but I do "support" her through life by sending my annual donations in her name.  The strains of "Baby Mine" from Disney's Dumbo are playing softly in the background right now.  Actually, I lie, right now Pandora has chosen NIN's "Closer" - HA! I'm not even going to bother going to that ironic place.

ANYWAY...back to my baby elephant...

Her name is Sities, and she lives in Nairobi at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.  If you've never heard of this incredible organization, do yourself a favour and Google them, or click on the link above.  These guys are amazing.  They rescue orphaned baby elephants who have been separated from their mothers too young and would otherwise die in the wild.  The story of how Dame Daphne Sheldrick figured out the formula for elephants milk is worth a read all on its own, but every week I get a newsletter from the Foundation, chock full of stories about new rescues, updates on the current eles (elephants), and information about the various Foundation locations and all their giant, and sometimes not-so-giant, grey residents.


The email this week read "Sities Graduates to Ithumba" in the subject header, so I had to click on it immediately.  And sure enough, my wee babe has made a big move!  She has been doing so well in her development at the constant-care nursery that they decided to move her and 2 other elephants to essentially a larger play pen.  At Ithumba, the elephants are re-introduced to wild herds and are allowed to make new families and friends while still under supervision from the keepers.  So for the next few months (to possibly years), Sities will be slowly introduced into a hopefully long-term relationship with a new family.  It's an elephant adoption!  I have adopted her from a loving person and monetary standpoint.  But there is only so much I can do for her as a human.  Now she needs to be adopted by her elephant family and I will continue to follow her journey as she attempts to do so.


In a way my heart is heavy.  No one ever wants to see their babies grow up and move on.  But chances are that Sities will outlive me, and one day she will have her own babies, and her own herd, and I am so hopeful that the re-naturalization process for her is an easy one and that she is accepted into her new peer group and continues to grow and flourish as she has in the orphanage.

When I was in Nairobi, I missed out on my chance to meet Sities by mere hours.  I had traveled there with my brother and cousins, but was leaving on the second leg of my trip to join a friend in Istanbul while the rest of my crew stayed in Nairobi for an additional 2 days.  I had done so much raving about Sheldrick though, and had adopted Sities months earlier in hopes that I would meet her when I was there, that they went anyway and made sure to document the trip for me.  

A picture of Sities' pen door
Every day during certain hours, tourists are allowed into the orphanage to meet the baby elephants and watch them play.  My brother sent back reports that I had a "bad, little elephant" since when the visitors all went to see the eles playing in the mud pit, my little Sities decided that the people looked more fun and charged at the group, making a woman drop her camera in the mid pit.  I honestly had to laugh.  That definitely sounds like "my kid."


Playing in the Mud Pit!

Not a month after I got home from that trip, my brother emailed me excitedly.  He had just watched the Canadian television show called "The Nature of Things with David Suzuki" and they were featuring a program called "For The Love Of Elephants" featuring the documented rescue of Sities!  I had no idea when I adopted her that her story had been filmed.  It is one of the most beautiful and moving documentaries that I have seen and I have watched it countless times since it originally aired.  Unfortunately, it isn't available in the US, so I will try to post the video here so that you can see it if you are interested.  But the best news about all of this, is that the film crews have continued to follow Sities' progress and her transfer to Ithumba is being made into the second part of the documentary!  I can't wait to see it.  Here is the video of her transfer though that is posted on the Trust's youTube channel.  Oh man, if you're an elephant lover like I am, a) you need to know about these guys, and b) there's stuff to keep you entertained here for DAYS.

If you are interested in adopting an elephant yourself or would like more information about Sheldrick, please do check out their website, Facebook page, and youTube channel.




"From your head to your toes
You're not much, goodness knows
But you're so precious to me
Cute as can be, baby of mine"



April 24, 2013

Sitting Still?

I'm sitting behind the front desk listening to the Zumba tunes and watching all the other people in class sweat it out.  No fair.  The diagnosis on my calf this morning?  Rest.  No running, no Zumba for at least a week.  So sitting behind the desk is all I get to do.  Boo!  I am not a fan.  At least I still have the green light to swim and bike.

What I am a fan of is my massage therapist.  He beats me up, but it's the good kind of pain.  I told him this morning that I think I may have psychosomatically caused this injury because I just really wanted a massage. He laughed at me and then said I might actually be right.  Power of positive thinking right?  Or negative in this case.  My brain is a powerful tool for working in my favour most days.  So I guess the moral of the story is that I should listen to myself more often and do what I want for ME before I cause any more damage.

I stopped seeing Angelo (my massage therapist) right after running the marathon. Because I didn't feel like I "deserved" it anymore without the 10+ hours of heavy training every week.  But perhaps if I indulged more often in a bi-weekly rub down, I would indulge less in things that aren't as healthy for me.  A treat is a treat - and massages are expensive, but they serve a dual purpose - they make me feel like I'm treating myself AND they keep my body in good working order so that I can keep up with my insane schedule.  I'm taking note.  I haven't overeaten today, and I honestly credit the morning massage for the rest of the day's healthier behaviours.

Except perhaps this confession: I applied for another job today.  Yes, you can call me crazy - but I honestly wouldn't try to do EVERYTHING if I got this job.  It's at a running store.  So there is some part of me that feels like if I work in a Zumba studio and a running store while I'm putting my own business together that I won't lose track of my fitness goals along the way.  I mean - I'll HAVE to work out.

But honestly, I think this is just me getting scared that I'm not going to make it.  That I'm going to leave the only piece of security that I have at the end of May and fall flat on my ass in front of everyone.  I'm terrified that I won't have enough money to live.  And that fear is making me a crazy person as far as earning money now is concerned.  I work far too many jobs, I'm far too stressed, I don't have enough time for anyone or anything, but I'm doing it because I feel like I have to.  It's only going to be this pace for the next 4 weeks, but then what?  Sink or swim.  I really, really hope that I have made the right decision here.

An ideal schedule for me would be working 3-4 evenings a week, half days on weekends and then having the majority of my day-time hours to focus on the cabaret and training for the Tri.  Right now my Blue Man schedule is inconsistent, which is the only bad thing about that gig.  But at least I get my schedule a month in advance so I can schedule other part-time jobs around it.  Dance SPA is every Wednesday night and Saturday morning, and tutoring is every Thursday morning.  So really, if I could pick up a consistent Tuesday/Thursday night and occasional weekend gig, that would be ideal.  Man.  Never in my life did I ever think I would be going back to WANTING to work part-time nights and evenings gigs.  I used to hate that.  Actually, I still do hate that, but the way I look at it is that it's a temporary schedule for the greater gain of spending the rest of the time working for myself.  Until I am able to support myself on my own company only and then I can quit everything else!  That will be a happy day indeed.

Side Note - this is the medal design for the Women's Half Marathon this year.  SO PRETTY!  They did a Facebook poll to ask for three words describing why you were running this race, or that described the race to you.  I thought they were going to choose ONE to inscribe on the medallion itself.  Nope - all of those submissions made it onto the material part of it.  Including mine (which was probably a lot of other people's too) right in the center of the pic! Live. Love. Run.  I'm so excited to get one of these babies on June 23rd.

But for the time being, and until my calf says I can run...back to trying to sitting still.

April 23, 2013

This Is Where It Hurts

So much for blog posting every day.  I really am trying.  But girl is BUSY, and I still haven't taken this on as a big part of my "job" yet.  So for now we will just have to suffice with "every day when I can" blogs.  Forgive me in advance, because this blog is a 3-in-1!

The weekend was a blur.  Saturday I busied myself working 3 of my howevermany jobs - up early to get to the Zumba studio after a late night Friday at my show, featuring the ladies of PUR in Indianapolis.  Oh man, they killed it.  Doing an amazing set of acts to the music of "Nine."  Since I'm a huge musical theatre fan, this was right up my alley and the audience loved it!

Then it was a few hours of accounting work for my company, getting the books up to date before heading over to call the 7pm show of Blue Man.  I grabbed a Red Box movie on the way home (Anna Karenina), but what was I thinking?  I was out cold on the couch not even 30 minutes in.

Sunday was the first day of sun that we have seen in over 3 weeks.  And I had the day OFF!!!  Miracle of miracles.  Having seen the weather forecast, I had already made a date with my new tri bike to see how far I could push myself.  The bike makes me very nervous - I don't like riding in traffic and I need to ride in traffic for at least 2.5 miles to get to the trails.  But I had a mission - to return the Red Box movie to the location I got it from (even though I found out after that you can return them to ANY box...doh) and then return home, hopefully in one piece.

After sleeping in until 12:30pm (mmmm...sleep) and watching the rest of the movie that I dosed through the night before (it was ok), I strapped on my fanny pack and my Garmin, filled up and locked in my water bottles, and was out the door with Trillium (my new bike).  

The toughest part about this new bike thing is the pedals and getting my feet into them.  And then getting my feet OUT of them when I want to stop.  I opted for the run-of-the-mill strapped pedals because spending another $400 on tri shoes and clips on top of a $1,700 bike almost made me want to throw up a little in my mouth.  Plus, who's kidding who?  I'm no pro.  Just the idea of getting my feet in and out of regular straps makes me feel like a badass on the streets, so we're gonna stick with mastering that skill for the time being.  And between you, me and my parents who saw me do it, not 30 minutes after the purchase of said bike in the parking lot outside the bike store attempting to do a victory lap, I failed to extract my foot on the first stop and keeled over in the most comical of all moves, knocking into the side of a red Ford Focus.  Oops.  My bike had its first "ding" 30 minutes out of the gate (car was fine).  Hence my nerves about executing a similar move in traffic.

I won't lie - I had a couple of minor heart attacks on Sunday.  Got honked at by an aggressive cabbie.  Decided to take a break at a stop sign and didn't realize the car beside me was trying to turn right and was waiting for me to go.  Almost took out a small child on roller blades who dodged into my lane (good thing those new brakes are still pretty tight).  But all in all, I made it to the Red Box and back, unscathed and flying high from adrenaline and endorphins.  And dudes - Trillium can MOVE.  I wasn't even messing around with the high gears this first trip out and already I was moving a speeds higher than I've ever experienced before once I got to the trails.  She is SO light, and such a huge difference from my Easy Rider "Roxie" who weighs about 30 pounds and makes me sweat not 5 minutes into a ride.  But I will say - the next mission - PADDED PANTS.  My ass is sore.  Very, very sore.  But the pain is worth it.  The glory of the wind in your face trumps the discomfort of the saddle.

Sunday night I ventured into the city to see 'American Idiot' at the Cadillac Palace Theater - Broadway In Chicago.  I loved every bit of it.  I'd be a terrible theater critic because I honestly like almost everything I see.  Unless it's REALLY terrible, I can usually find pretty awesome qualities in everything about live theater, and having worked in it for so many years from a variety of different angles, I really appreciate the hard work that goes into it.  Call me a lemming, but I also derive much of my own enthusiasm and excitement from the crowd around me.  And the audience at Sunday night's show was absolutely over-the-moon for this show.  Music fans are a bit of a different breed from musical theatre fans - and since this is a rock musical based off the songs of Green Day, the people in this audience were there to see a concert.  And that's exactly what they got.  It was a full-blown Green Day concert with a plot.  Gotta love that.  The choreography and effects were particularly outstanding.  I can't get over the undying energy of those actors - to headbang with such ferocity and still hit their notes without being breathy.  Wow.  Great night out.  I'm still getting used to doing things by myself.  But it's nights like this where I go where I want, see what I want, eat what I want and feel what I want that I appreciate being single and totally in control of my own life.  Sometimes I am struck by loneliness and wishing that I had someone to share these awesome experiences with, but then I remember how nice it is to be greedy sometimes and keep all of it for myself.  Sunday was a full day just for me, and I squeezed it for all the good juice it was worth.

If Sunday was a day for me, yesterday was a never-ending day of distractions and working for everyone else.  As are all Mondays.  It never fails that I hot the ground running on Monday mornings and have usually answered about 16 emails before I even get out of bed.  This is a week of deadlines and projects for me and I'm finding it hard to get even my regular job duties done, let alone everything else I have on the schedule for this week. (Shhh, don't tell anyone I'm blog writing in the middle of the day instead of getting other work done - but really, this is also on the "To Do" list now, so something's gotta give.)

Monday and Tuesday at my full-time job are accounting days.  I pull reports, cut checks and spend a lot of hours on Quickbooks.  Add to that the looming end of the month which also means payroll for my own company and a mess of other monthly items that need to be finished before May 1.  As far as Kiss Kiss Cabaret is concerned, this week is the deadline for a new ad campaign that we're launching in May.  Today is the print deadline for our design imagery, so there has been a flurry of emails (77 and counting in one email chain alone) to get that copy finalized and delivered to the printers.  Which lead to the realization that our website needed some updates, and our Dropbox folders of company imagery are a mess, and the Facebook account needs this and Twitter and Tumbler need that...it's a never ending list of things to do.  The good news is, I still love it all when it isn't totally annoying and exhausting!

Yesterday evening was the Run for Boston - a reprieve I had hoped from the day and all of my other responsibilities.  I was running with my good friend Kathy and was super excited to see her.  I haven't seen her since she ran the Hot Chocolate 15K in November, which I was also supposed to run but was nursing a foot injury from the Marathon.  The evening was brilliant; warm and sunny and a perfect breeze off the lake. 
There were so many runners signed up for the event that RAM ended up moving the start to the Lincoln Park Zoo so that we could run on the Lakefront Trail instead of on city streets.  I jogged over from work and found the group and got in line for my $20 t-shirt to benefit the Boston ONE Fund for all the families and people killed and injured last Monday in Boston.  I got one of the last shirts available (they were sold out by 15 minutes after 6pm).  We all gathered as they played the National Anthem, which made me tear up.  Like I've said before - it's a terrible reason to get together, and looking around at the rest of the runners there all in blue and yellow, their hats off to reserve a minute of silence and the flag at half mast, was an emotional trigger for me.  Such a beautiful night after such a horrific event.

After the Run. We're glowing!
Unfortunately, Kathy had the bad luck of a terrible cab driver and so she missed out on the ceremony of the event and the huge cheer that went up as all the runners took off north on the Lake Front Path.  Determined not to run without her, I waited at the start point while we were on the phone trying to find each other in the park.  I finally spotted her awesome pink jacket coming from where the runners were headed and jogged to meet up with her.  A quick hug was exchanged and we were off in hot pursuit of the larger group.  It was totally awesome running with this girl.  She too has lost over 100 pounds and looks just fantastic.  And our paces finally match up!  We're both coming back off long-ish breaks - her from her Half Marathon, me from the full, and we're both training to run the Women's Half Marathon together in June.  Then she goes on to train for the full Chicago Marathon this year while I will head up her support crew!  We didn't totally catch the group, but we did catch up with a few of the run/walkers at the turn-around point.

This is where it hurts...
But my calf was really tight.  I should have stopped at 2.5 miles.  I didn't.  I wanted to push through it and make it to the finish - for Kathy, for Boston, and for my stubborn self.  Wrong choice.  I limped off the finish point to find a tree to stretch.  After a walk back to my office, my leg was still in pain, and it's no better today.  I have been nursing this injury for a week already.  Two weeks ago I strained my left calf muscle - most likely from ramping up my training too quickly with two days of running longer miles and two days of Zumba (read: bouncing on my toes for an hour) in one week.  I knew it hurt, and that I should probably rest it.  So I did.  For a whole week.  I did swim and I did bike and I did do LOW impact Zumba (taking out all of the jumping), but I didn't run and I didn't bounce.  Still no bueno.  I knew it was still sore before my run yesterday, but by the time we were done I was visibly limping and every push off my left foot made it feel like my calf muscle was going to snap away from my Achilles tendon. DAMMIT.  I'm starting to worry at this point that the Marathon may have ruined me - I have done nothing but nurse low grade injuries since I finished that race.  But I have also gained some weight back and haven't been training as much, so I really need to get smarter about this and make a slower training plan.  Too much, too soon and now I'm benched for about a month in the running department.  We'll see.  I'm making appointments with my chiropractor and massage therapist for tomorrow so that I can hopefully nip this pain and recovery in the bud.  I'm also planning to start a pseudo-cleanse diet to try to get my body and weight loss back on track in the next couple of weeks.  It is time.  No more nonsense.

And finally, to end this epic post and my 3 days of crazy, it was my ex-boyfriend's birthday last night.  I really do try to stay friends with the guys I date, because honestly, I date some really great (just not great for me) guys.  So I wanted to go out and get a drink with him and some of the friends that I met through him while we were together.  Not to mention, I had a birthday gift for him that's been under my bed since Christmas that really needed to get out from under my bed...the cats were complaining about a lack of hiding space.  So I ventured out after my run, and meet-up with Kathy, and pulled calf, and knocking back a few Advil to see him at one of our go-to restaurant pubs.  It was nice.  And weird.  The first 5 minutes of greeting everyone was even a bit bizarre.  I'm that girl that broke his heart (and broke mine too in the process) and I haven't seen any of these people since we were together and in some cases not at all this year.  But eventually everyone dropped their guards back down to "friendly socializing status" and I ended up having a pretty good night.  The goodbyes were equally as awkward (do we hug? shake hands? argh...), but I arrived home to a text message from him saying that he loved my birthday gift (I got him a home brew kit), that he was really happy I came out, and that he was glad to see me.  Phew.  So hopefully we can continue on the friend level.  It's hard, and it isn't necessary, but sometimes I feel like I'm short on people in my life who really know me, and he's someone who does.  And isn't that what good friendships are made of?

April 19, 2013

A City Education

I'm composing this blog while I'm on hold with the bank.  These things happen.

The first step to being in business for yourself is getting out of bed in the morning.  I say this because I know this is an area in which I am troubled.  I love my bed.  It's really, really comfortable.  I never want to GO to bed, until I'm in bed, and then I never want to get out of it.  I know I'm not alone in this.

Anyway, this morning was important because it was one of the FREE Small Business workshops that are offered by the City of Chicago for new businesses.  But it was early in the morning on top of a full string of early mornings and late nights this week.  I'm exhausted.  Not gonna lie.  I've already talked about how emotional I've been this week.  So all I wanted to do this morning was to roll over and hit snooze again.

But this little voice in my head sleepily chirped, "Dude, you're in business for yourself now and this is what being in business for yourself means. Get your ass out of bed and DO IT."  So I did.  But only after responding to a series of emails in bed.  Smart phones are good for something.

This morning's class was where everyone should start: The ABC's of Starting a Business in the City of Chicago.  Now - I already own my business.  We've been in operation for two and a half years.  But what we're doing now is only a fraction of what the business will hopefully grow to become, so I want to be as prepared as possible, especially when dealing with the City.

Armed with my extra-large Dunkin Donuts coffee and a banana, I found the welcome packet of information for the course and my certification check-in (after I have completed 9 of these business classes offered by the City, I get "Business Certified" with a pretty certificate and everything that I can hang on the wall - who knows what it will mean in the long run of things, but hey, it's cheaper than getting an MBA!).  I took my seat and waited for the class to start.

All in all, I'm really glad I went.  It was a really good overview - most things I already know, but some things that I didn't and definitely some avenues that I need to take away and brush up on.  But education is key.  One of the main things that I wrote down and circled from today is "DO THE RESEARCH".  You need to know everything there is to know about your own business and holding your cards close to your chest, thinking that you have all the answers to everything is not the right way to proceed in this game.  I have always been afraid that someone else will steal my ideas and run with them before I have a chance to get there, so I have kept a lot of secrets about my plans.  Well - the proverbial cat is now out of the bag, and so there shall be no more secrets.  I need to be able to talk to the full extent about my business and my plans.  I need to sell myself and my vision.  I am going to need education and help and networking to get me to my end goal and those people need to know about my dreams.  What I have to have confidence in is that no one else in this world is me.  And I am the one with this vision in my head.  I was the only one in that room today who was starting the kind of business that I will one day have...but there were three people there starting Thai food restaurants.  So if they can carry on knowing that their competition was sitting in the same room, then so can I.

After the session was over, I went down to the Office of the Registrar to clear up some other licensing issues with the Greenhouse.  Over the years, I have developed a few contacts at City Hall who absolutely make my life easier.  Sheryl is one of them.  She knows when she sees me exactly what I'm there for, and such was the case today.  She took my documents and emerged 15 minutes later with the news that the holds on our account had been cleared.  And then, when I mentioned that I was pleased that I could finally get our City Licenses which had expired on Monday mailed to me, she said "Well let me go get those for you right now!"  Another 10 minutes and I was good to go, documents in hand and a smile on my face.  While I was waiting, I posted my good news on Facebook and told Sheryl that I had given her a great shout-out.  She was tickled pink.  She even got a little misty-eyed.  Everyone that shows up in her office is there to complain.  Money makes people crazy, and most of the time she is dealing with people who are there to fight water bills or parking tickets or other issues in which they feel that the City has wronged them.  So I told her I wanted to write her supervisor a letter to sing her praises.  She jumped up and down and practically hugged me and then ran to get her information so I could mail her boss.  And then she turned around and said "Any questions you have, any permits you need with this new business, you know where to find me.  Come to me and I'll make sure the stuff you need gets to the people who need to see it."  Customer service win!

And as my partner said to me later: "Just proof that honey catches more flies than vinegar!"