A Better Black Friday (The 21st Day of Thankful)

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Let me preface this by saying that I’m always up for a good deal. Always. But recreating a tackle football game with a bunch of fellow stuffed Americans in the name of a bargain just isn’t my idea of a good time. So I’m going to go ahead and put it out there that I’m having a better Black Friday than those people, and for a few reasons:

1) I Turkey Trotted.

I’ve always wanted to do one of these really smart pre-gluttony 5K runs, and yesterday it finally happened! The best part? In lieu of a registration fee, the Hillstriders Running Club accepted donations for the Crystal Lake Food Pantry and volunteers filled up a huge trailer with non-perishable items. To say we crushed that cold (cold!) 5K would be an understatement. This lady is not a runner, but an easy 33:41 later I had wiped away any guilt of the upcoming bucket of creamed corn that would eventually make it’s way to my face.

2) Just because I don’t like Wal-Mart doesn’t mean I don’t like a deal.

Here are a few you might want to know about: The Joffrey Ballet is having a Black Friday special on opening night Nutcracker tickets. The Nutcracker isn’t something to be scared of, and now that it’s 25% off (using the code FRIDAY) there’s no reason not to go. Oh, and while you’re at it, work off your pumpkin pie at SixPax down in the South Loop. They’re great people, and also super chiseled, and you want to look like them. Plus, they’re having a sale today on Pilates lessons and group classes.

3) I’m going to the gym, and I might be the only one there.

Though I hope the best for the American obesity crisis, I have to admit I like going to the gym and knowing that no one else will be there. The day after Thanksgiving, in the middle of the afternoon, I’m banking on having the place to myself while the rest of suburbia feasts on leftovers and takes naps. I could probably ride on the whole Turkey Trot thing as being enough to justify doing the same, but I have a high stakes event tonight that involves fishnet tights and seeing people from high school. This makes me anxious, so I want to burn as much of that creamed corn as possible before seeing anyone who knew me before the turn of the century.

So, how are you spending your Black Friday?

Starbucks Around the World: Crystal Lake, IL

On a Thanksgiving Day pre-turkey jaunt through downtown Crytal Lake, IL, it seemed only fitting that I pose with my mother for a thumbs up.  You see, this is the town in which I spent most of my former years (well, technically Cary, but I don’t like to talk about it).  Also fitting is the guy behind us photo bombing our picture.

The barista insisted that it’s a good year for Christmas Blend.  Let’s hope he’s right.

Obligatory Blog Post About Being Thankful on Thanksgiving

If you decide to take a little time today between the food and the family and the football to check the interwebs, I’m sure I will be one of perhaps millions of blog posts appropriately themed on being Thankful.  We bloggers are smart like that in that we’ve figured out that readers generally like posts that are timed well to a particular holiday or event.  So what is going to make my blog post about what I’m thankful for stick out more than any other that pops up in your newsfeed?

Not much. Probably….

But in spite of my self-loathing lack of confidence that I stand out among other thankful-themed posts, and the honest belief that very few people read my blog on a regular basis (thanks Mom and Julie)… I’m going to do it anyway.

2012 has been a year of drastic changes in my life.  I moved. My relationships with friends and family have changed.  My job(s) have changed.  I have withstood heartache, hardship, and more change in one year than a person should be able to handle.  While I’ve alluded ambiguously to some of these over the last several months, a rant on gratitude won’t be the thing that causes me to spill on my personal life, but I will say that the year has brought with it a total shift in my mentality, my self-worth, and ultimately my happiness.

I think I had been craving a life that’s less complicated.  A life where the “stuff” around you doesn’t matter.  A simple life that I can actually afford.  Working an average of 60 hours a week for four months hasn’t exactly brought me to the simple life I envision, but my frame of mind has completely shifted.  I am better able to recognize what I need, and what I don’t.  I’m better able to take care of relationships with the friends who matter, and let go of the “friends” who don’t.  I’m living closer to Earth; eating more vegetables than burritos.  All in all, I’m grateful for who I am, and I feel more comfortable in my own skin than I ever have.

When I started this blog, I’m pretty sure THAT was my ultimate goal… exploring a simple life in a big city and finding myself in the process.

And, let’s be honest, I’m pretty awesome.

Oh, that, and, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be thankful for the meal that is about to make its way to my face in a  couple hours.  Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pickled beets, the family’s famous Gulliver’s Corn (don’t worry, I’ve been begging Mom to write a guest post so you can get your hands on the recipe), and a homemade(ish) pie from yours truly.

Apple. With homemade whipped cream.

Delicious.