Sunday, January 31, 2010

2010 3-Day for the Cure

Yes, I am back walking the 2010 Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure…in The Windy City AND The Big D! Crazy, right? Not at all if you followed my 3-Day journey last year. I learned a lot about myself, met some AWESOME people along the way, and I made a difference.

But you might be wondering what motivates me to walk not only one, but TWO, 3-day, 60 mile walks this year. (Although my math is not always the best, I do realize this means a total of 6 days and 120 miles)

First, the selfish reasons:

1) I love Chicago! (And who doesn’t?! Garrett Popcorn Shops, The Magnificent Mile, Giordano’s…the list goes on and on)

2) After family and friends cheered me on at the 2009 Dallas 3-Day, I thought if I walk in Chicago (only 2 hours from my hometown) that even more family and friends would come out to support me! (Who doesn’t like people clapping and cheering them on every 3 feet making them feeling like a rock star?)

3) My team, Angels for the Cure, in Dallas. They have become some of my biggest supporters AND friends. (Walking 60 miles is always more fun with a friend or two!)

Now, the real reasons:

1) When I began my last mile to Closing Ceremonies last year in Dallas .
I knew that was only the beginning of my continued support of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure

2) Breast cancer education, research and finding a cure has always been a personal passion of mine.

3) Breast cancer has personally affected my family and some very great friends. And THEY ARE ALL SURVIVORS!!!

How can I not walk again?

As much as I am excited about walking this year (I have already updated both of my personal 3-Day web pages and blogs, updated my status on Facebook, and updated this blog) I am nervous about the commitment I have made to raise a minimum of $4,300. That’s a lot of money!

I have to admit that raising $2,300 last year was easier than I thought. The big thing I learned was to just talk about the 3-Day journey I was on. (As much as it might seem that I am ‘All about me’, when it comes down to it, it is very difficult for me to talk about me.) And whenever I would someone would ask ‘Do you accept donations for the walk?’ Many times I received donations from people that I had no idea who were personally affected by breast cancer. So I quickly realized that I was doing millions of women and men affected by breast cancer a disservice by not asking for donations.

So this year will be different…I am going to tell everyone that I encounter about what I am doing AND ask for their support. Hopefully by time November rolls around I will still have family and friends that haven’t tired of hearing about my journey!

And since you are reading this (someone is reading this, right?) please check out my 3-Day websites and consider making a donation:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blogger Extraordinaire?

Whew…I can hardly believe that I actually completed ICLW this month! YAY!!! And in the process I even gained a few more followers – double YAY!!! (For those that are wondering 'What the heck is ICLW?' please check out this blog Stirrup Queens.

I feel these accomplishments are just the push I need to take my blogging to the next level. I have always loved to write…whether it is a letter, keeping a journal, or even making a list, I love to write. And for those that know me pretty well, my life seems full of stories to share with my family and friends (I think I might even be eligible for a reality show, but I'll focus on blogging for now). I'll admit that they probably don't always want to hear my stories and that sometimes the stories can border on TMI (too much information), but certainly they don't want me to keep all of that inside!

I contacted someone a few weeks ago to help me revamp my blog. Unfortunately she is a little backed up, but hopefully within the next couple of months you will see a new and improved Shannon's World. In the meantime get prepared for more random thoughts from me!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

How People Lose Track of Cash

According to USA Today Snapshots the following is the percentage of adults who lose track of cash spending when doing the following:

Grocery Shopping - 34%

Leisure Shopping - 32%

Enjoying Night Out - 31%

Dining Out - 26%

Buying Snacks - 25%

Daily Lunch - 22%

Looking at the list I can see that I have been guilty of losing track of spending in all of those categories. Although I find that if I have actual cash in my hand I am a bit more selective about my purchases. And it is true that the daily mindless little purchases (snacks from a vending machine, Starbucks coffee, etc.) are the purchases that add up to large amounts over time.

A few years ago after reviewing my bank statement I realized that a Starbucks debit was just about every few line items. Once I totaled up how much I was spending there, I was floored!!! So I decided to get a part time job at Starbucks.

After going through the extensive training (learning more about coffee than I ever wanted to know), making all types of drink concoctions, and working at a very busy location, I had a new found appreciation for Baristas! One of the major perks was that I could drink all the Starbucks I wanted while working which quickly added money back to my checking account.

What are some ways that you have tracked your spending and then done something positive about it?

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Fresh Market

While on a work assignment in Virginia Beach, Virginia I had the pleasure of being introduced to The Fresh Market speciality food store. When I heard the phrase 'They have an entire row dedicated to trail mixes!' I knew that I had to check it out!

True to my friend's word, The Fresh Market has at least 20 different types of trail mixes (Sweet Carolina is one of my personal favs) in addition to about another 20 speciality mixes. And if a store has good, fresh banana chips, it definitely ups their ranking with me!

Just when I thought I had already died and gone to heaven, I found the most wonderful snack: purple sweet potato chips! I love, love, LOVE sweet potatoes (I have a baked one about 5 times a week!) so when I saw the purple sweet potato chips, I knew I had to try them. I'll admit that the $9.99 per pound price scared me (well, not really) but I had to taste them. And it was love at first bite!
In addition to the wonderful mixes The Fresh Market has, they also have a fabulous prepared food section (really great for people like me that don't always find time to cook, but like to have a healthier food option available).

I also love fresh flowers and you can get an awesome bouquet of flowers for less then 10 bucks!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bond No. 9

Bond No. 9 is the name of a fragrance collection, as well as the address of its headquarters boutique at 9 Bond Street, in NoHo. The collection was launched as homage to a great city and each fragrance represents a specific downtown, midtown, or uptown locale or a city-wide sensibility.

While in NYC a couple of years ago, I had the chance to smell the Bond No. 9 fragrance collection. I was in the city for a Girl’s Weekend and we were purchasing the fragrance as a surprise birthday gift for a friend on the trip.

About a year or so later I decided to splurge on me and purchased The Scent of Peace fragrance and The Scent of Peace Body Silk. I don’t often use the word ‘splurge’ and ‘me’ in the same sentence because I think I am worth it. But, let’s be honest… spending over $250 on perfume and lotion is a bit much, even for me. (NOTE: the funding for the splurge came from my $750 bingo winnings while on vacation)

Although I really love the fragrance (and let’s be honest, the bottle too!) I have to say that the customer service from Bond No. 9 is first class. Once I made a purchase with them I was given VIP status, which includes:

1) Being the very first to receive free samples of their newest scents, even before they officially debut and

2) Receiving surprise scents on a regular basis!

Now, you might think these free samples and surprise scents are the garden variety type that you receive in Macy’s when you request a fragrance sample. No, no, no! These samples are cute little Bon Bon’s that are a complete .25 FL OZ! Perfect for traveling with and mixing up my daily fragrance choices.

After doing some checking on the Bond No. 9 website their Bon Bon’s cost about $15 each (if you could purchase them individually). To date I cannot tell you how many Bon Bon’s I have received. And you know what? Since my first purchase almost two and a half years ago, I have never purchased anything else from Bond No. 9.

My last kudos to Bond No. 9 is that they also acknowledge that we are in a recession. Throughout the past year they have specials were if you purchase a fragrance and bring in an empty Bond No. 9 bottle (and who wouldn’t save their beautiful empty bottle?) you can have it refilled for free. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Up in the Air

I recently had the opportunity to see the newly released holiday movie Up In the Air starring George Clooney. I'll be honest, George Clooney is pretty easy on the eye but he wasn't the reason for me wanting to see this movie. When I first saw the previews I thought 'This movie kinda sort of sounds like my life!'.

George Clooney's character, Ryan Bingham, is a corporate downsizer and business traveler. Ryan is constantly on the road traveling from city to city, living out of a suitcase and racking up frequent traveler points from various travel reward programs (airlines, rental car companies, hotels, etc.).

I work for a large insurance company in a department that handles catastrophic weather related events for my company. Like Ryan, I travel a LOT for my company...I am on the road about 8 - 9 months out of the year, travel from city to city, and spend most of my time living out of a suitcase. Fortunately I am not threatening other people's livelihoods due to corporate downsizing, but hopefully I am assisting to get their lives back on track after the damage they have sustained.

The following are some similarities between Ryan Bingham and I:

1) Travel Rewards - Although Ryan is a member of just about every travel program out there, his main goal was to reach 10,000,000 frequent flier miles with American Airlines.

Although I fly commercially I don't think (and hope!) that I will ever reach 10,000,000 frequent flier miles! On the other hand I am a member of many travel reward programs. My big one is Marriott Rewards. Friends and family never have to worry about paying for a hotel stay since I have more points than I'll ever use.

2) Family - Ryan is viewed as an outsider by his family. His younger sister is getting married and has chosen her future husband's uncle to walk her down the aisle.

Sometimes I feel like an outsider to my family. This past Christmas was the first time I had been home to see them in a year. Many will think 'What's the big deal?'. The big deal is that me and my family are very close and it just isn't acceptable to only see them once a year.

3) Nomads - Ryan loves (and mean LOVES!) being on the road. When his job is threatened by technology I could tell that he was really pained about returning to a 'normal' life that didn't involve travel. At one point I believe he said that he was more comfortable on the road than he was at home - never mind that home for Ryan is a sparsely furnished one bedroom apartment.

I too love the sense of adventure with traveling to a new city and seeing parts of the country that I would never have any reason to go to - like Bismark, North Dakota for example. When I first took my current position my life was in a bit of flux...someone that I loved more than life itself had died and I found myself losing my way. This job allowed me to hide and not face the realities that I needed to face.

4) Love - During the course of the movie, Ryan meets a woman (of course there has to be a love story in there!). She is just like him in regards to traveling. But for the first time, I believe Ryan really begins to open his heart and his life to let someone else in.

For so long I have used my job as a shield to hide behind from the realities of life. I have a feeling that there are some wonderful possibilities out there for me to find balance in my life. I might just be ready to hang up my travel wings too! Well, maybe...