4 minutes

As you might have guessed, I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to numbers and most especially when it comes to the weather.  Living in Chicago right next to this really big body of water, we are continually impacted in ways that not only are fascinating, but affect one’s daily life a lot.  All year long, we exist in what many call a concrete jungle but what they don’t know is most of the winter we live with concrete skies over our heads.  Because Lake Michigan is so deep, it takes a long time for it to freeze so the water temperatures stay right around the high 20’s/low 30’s.  Add to that air temps that are about the same and you have a perfect recipe for concrete skies.  Low clouds that obliterate the sun and guarantee to obliterate any good mood you might have.  We do occasionally have blue skies but the trade off here is they are the result of a extremely cold arctic front visiting from Canada.  And it’s that word arctic that the sticking point.  When they say arctic, they mean arctic.  But you do get to see the sun which is so welcome if you don’t have to venture out in it.

This time of year we are, and by that I mean I am, at our wits end with all this nonsense.  The snow continues to fall and because it’s late season snow, it’s very heavy wet snow.  The winds are starting to change so we get more snow off the lake from the east.  And there’s not a bit of green to be found anywhere.  It’s enough to break even the hardiest of spirits.  One thing that has helped me get through this period each year is the amount of sunshine we gain with each day.  Even though I can’t see that sunshine, I check the Weather Channel every morning to see the changes in sunrise and sunset.  Most days it’s a minute or two, but the other day, it was 4 MINUTES! I know, I could barely contain my excitement.  The sun is now rising before 7am and setting after 530p.  I’m all aquiver.

This may seem like a silly thing to be obsessed about.  I’ll admit it, I’m a bit obsessed.  But it’s the small things that make a difference.  The attention to detail that set you apart in any situation.  Now this particular quirk of mine may set me apart in a way I hadn’t counted on (I can see the comments now “oh HER, she’s a little too excited about the weather)!  But in a broader sense, paying attention to details will help me remember the names of my clients children, their favorite restaurant or what college they went to.

And of course, I’m in with all the other weather geeks.  You know who you are.

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There’s no place like home

Do you ever get that uneasy feeling?  The one that comes from the realization that not enough right is happening in your life.   So of course you need to shake things up, make some stuff happen, just get SOMETHING moving in a direction, any direction will do.  You can call it restlessness if you want .  Or maybe it’s dissatisfaction.  Whatever it is, it doesn’t feel good.  So by golly let’s make a change.  All of the sudden you start considering things you’d never consider before, like oh I don’t know, maybe moving to New York or LA.  After all, I am an actor right?  Why wouldn’t I make a move there?  Makes perfect sense to me.  Or sheesh, I haven’t had a decent date in the back half of this decade so of course it’s a good idea to ring up an old flame to reignite something that is long dead and buried, thank heavens.  I’m sure all of the things that weren’t quite right then have all resolved themselves.  Or you quit your job, fire your agent, finally tell off your sister.  Anything to move the needle.  Get out of the funk that has overtaken your life.

I found myself in this exact situation recently.  Things aren’t moving as fast as I want them to in most aspects of my life.  I’ve got plans after all and a timeline which I expect to be met.  And when reality crashes into my expectations like 2 atoms at the new Hadron Collider, it really sends me into a downward spiral that threatens to overtake me.  So add to this lethal mix 2 New York based movies, Sex and the City and You’ve Got Mail with all their pretty pictures, nice people, beautiful apartments, perfect wardrobes, snappy lines, and you have the makings of a hare-brained idea to chuck all this and move to NY.  Brilliant right?  The rub is, when you get to NY or wherever you run too, once you unpack everything, you realize you’ve brought with you the same problems you had in the old location.  The only thing different is the zip code.  And you’ve compounded it once you realize you’ve left behind the support system you’d painstakingly built in your old locale.  So now you have to start all over building a new one and in your spare time, deal with your problem all by your lonesome.

It is said if you want to hear God laugh, just tell Him what you’ve got planned.  Whatever it is that isn’t right in your world, you have to fix it before you can move forward.  It sure would be easier to run away.  Sometimes being a grown up ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Reaching for the stars

In my past life, one of the advertising agencies I used to work with was Leo Burnett.  The very famous story about this man and his eponymous agency is that he started it at the height of the Depression of the 1930’s with one client.  His contemporaries thought he was crazy and a Chicago newspaper columnist predicted he’d be selling apples within a year.  Well history has shown how good that prediction was.  Instead he gave away apples and on every reception desk in his now global ad agency to this day, there is a bowl of apples there for you to help yourself to.  I used to say when I was going to make a sales call there that I was going apple shopping.  I like the fact that 74 years later, the presence of a lowly apple  is a gentle “oh yeah, I’ll show you!” to those that didn’t believe.  One of the other iconic symbols of the venerable agency is a hand reaching for the stars.  Leo used to say that “when you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either”.  Striving for goals that seem beyond our grasp is how we keep pushing ourselves a little closer to achieving them.  It’s how the sprinter shaves a second off her time, a 40 year old QB annihilates his old team, the 20 year veteran who’s been struggling in obscurity wins an Oscar.

Examples of people reaching for the stars usually focus around sports and entertainment endeavors but I think it’s more about anyone who dares to dream a different life for themselves than they’ve been living thus far.  It could be going back to school at age 60, starting your own business, inventing a new gadget or starting a family.  You are never too old, too poor, too uneducated or more importantly too scared to find that dream that is your star and reach for it.  The key is to figure out what that passion is and then fire up the booster rockets to make it happen.  Think of how amazing that journey to the stars will be.  And make it happen for yourself.