Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Favorites

I have worked downtown since I moved to Minneapolis almost four years ago. I've had four different jobs in two different companies within just a few blocks of each other (on 6th and 7th streets), so I have become incredibly familiar with the skyway eats in that specific area.

Take a quick look at this Wikipedia entry about our skyway system in case you have no idea what I'm talking about.

There are a ridiculous amount of restaurants within these indoor sidewalks only open for prime lunch hours Monday-Friday. I will no longer be working downtown (yesterday was my last day!), so I will miss being surrounded by so many options (and smells); but I think my stomach will appreciate it.

Today I am sharing my absolute five places to go if you ever find yourself downtown in the skyway any time between 10 AM and 2 or 3 PM. Keep in mind, there are a lot of places I never tried because I usually kept to the general area I knew, but you can find so much more if you do a little exploring of your own!

1. Andrea Pizza
Oh, the dough. This is not only my favorite skyway pizza, but probably the best pizza I've had anywhere. The slices are HUGE, and every bite is so worth whatever crazy amount of calories there are.

2. Allie's Deli & Catering
Amazing customer service - and even better food. From breakfast sandwiches to their sought-after scones to amazing sandwiches, soups, salads, wraps, tacos, chili.....I can go on forever. And don't get me started on their scotcharoos. Seriously, just go here as soon as you can.

3. Good to Go
They serve Mediterranean-inspired sandwiches, wraps, salads and soups, but all you need to get hooked is their white aioli sauce. Ah. I could easily drink the stuff. Ask for extra in the chicken kabob bowl, and you will be anything but disappointed.

4. Macy's Sky Room
Lunch at Macy's? Most definitely. Set up cafeteria-style on the 12th floor above Macy's department store, you get great food with a great view. Whether you're up for unlimited trips to the salad bar or craving anything from pasta or Mexican to a deli sandwich, they've got you covered.

5. Classic Cookie Co.
OK, so it doesn't exactly count as lunch, but the cookies are too good to not be included. They are ginormous, and there are so many flavors! I never ventured much further than the peanut butter monster, but I guarantee any one will make your day.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A glimpse into the life of . . .


I met Shea about 10 years ago while playing soccer in high school. He was attending Jamestown College and joined us as an assistant coach. I loved playing soccer more than anything else but didn't exactly display the best attitude or behavior at times (if you can even imagine). But he was always so patient and kind, firm when necessary and always overflowing with an insane amount of knowledge.

When I sent him a Facebook message to ask if he'd answer some questions for this fun, little blog of mine, I saw that the last message I sent him was from five years ago when I asked if I could feature him in a special edition story I was working on for The Jamestown Sun. He always sticks out in my mind when I think of interesting people to write about or talk to because of the passion he has for soccer. I swear he knows absolutely everything about the sport, and his love for it was very inspiring as a player and still is today just as someone who appreciates a passionate soul.

For Shea, life has always been about soccer. As he says, "I started playing when I was a little tyke and haven't had a break from soccer since." He grew up in Washington and started coaching competitive youth teams at age 16. When he moved to Jamestown for school, he assisted the women's team as well as our girls' team at the high school. He was soon after hired as the head coach for the boys' team and then also for the girls. In 2009 he was hired as the assistant director of coaching for Red River Soccer in Fargo, which eventually merged into Tri-City Soccer. In 2012 he was hired into his current position: technical director for the North Dakota Soccer Association.
Current job: I am currently the technical director for North Dakota Soccer Association.

Dream job: I am not sure. I like educating coaches and players. I am currently doing that so I am not sure there is anything else. Maybe in another beautiful country.

First job ever: When I was 17 I was hired as an assistant manager at an indoor soccer center.

First "grown-up" job: I think my first job was pretty grown up. I believe every job is grown up.

What draws you to soccer? The creativity and lack of structure needed to develop. Soccer is really a player's sport. They make the decisions and there are many right ones and wrong ones in any particular circumstance. Players are given creative authority over those decisions.

What is your favorite part of your job? Being around the kids that are enthusiastic about learning.

What is the most challenging aspect? The every day struggles of education. Generally, people don't like change and trying to get everyone on the same page is tough sometimes.

What is it like to transform from player to coach? It's difficult. . . but easy? You understand where the players are coming from and where they are going, so you can relate more with them so soccer becomes important. It is also difficult in the same way, as you have to understand how people that didn't grow up with soccer or in a culture of soccer just don't understand some things. That is why education becomes so important.


What advice do you have for someone pursuing a similar career path? Watch and learn from other coaches.

What age group is your favorite to coach and why? I really like nine and 10-year-olds. They are just big sponges and it is all about developing skill at that age. The oldest ages are fun because the game gets more tactical and you can play a little bit of a role in the outcome.

When you are 50, what do you want to be able to say when you look back at this moment in your life? I just want to look back and know that I had a positive effect on children's lives.

How do you define success?  I copy John Wooden on this one. "Success is knowing you did the best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."

Who has been your biggest influence, personally or professionally, and why?  There isn't a specific someone besides my parents, of course. I have many coaching influences, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

What hobbies do you enjoy in your spare time?  Anything to wind down a bit: golf, the lake cabin, watching soccer, travel.

Number one on your bucket list: Go to the World Cup.

Favorite ice cream flavor: I am not a big ice cream guy (aka crazy) ... chocolate probably. My mom and I used to go to the grocery store and get chocolate ice cream and a movie to watch so it has some meaning as well.

Thank you, Shea!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Favorites

I'm usually the last to hear about pretty much anything, and my latest discovery is the Conversnitch. If you by chance haven't heard of it, two artists built a listening device resembling a lamp that listens to nearby conversations and uses Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing platform to transcribe snippets that are then posted to its Twitter account.

They haven't confirmed the places some are planted, but shared a video by the creators that shows two people with obscured faces planting Conversnitch in a light fixture in a New York McDonald’s, disguised as a desk lamp in a bedroom and a bank lobby, in a library and inside a lamp post in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park.

Anyway, as a fairly nosy person with a talent for eavesdropping, I was pretty excited to see what was recorded, so here are 17 of my favorite statements it has tweeted so far. I had a pretty fantastic time reading through them, trying to imagine the people talking and the context of the actual conversation, but we may not share the same sense of humor, so keep that in mind as you read them;)

"Do I have to break every report down Barney-style for them?"

"Whenever I start saying things are going well, something happens to mess it up. Every time."

"When I think about exercising, I feel lazy."

"I don't know, man, but I kinda want a hot dog. What about you?"

"When you were at the store today did you take the grocery list with you, because I don't see half the things that were on the list?"

"We both know where I stand on that; you can keep your hocus pocus."

"I'm, like, really good at math but when they add the letters in with the numbers I just get really confused."

"I can't believe the way rich people spend their money. I mean, like, they spend their money buying helicopters in order to beat traffic."

"I won't lie. Babies are not cute; this one pretty much looks like a baby monkey with all of that hair."

"You are misinterpreting my compliment."

"I really don't want to drive him all the way home, but I really don't want him anywhere near me either."

"She seems pretty young to have given up on her life already."

"I hate when I put food in the microwave and it starts making explosive noises so I go to check and it's cold."

"Yeah, but you should at least know what you're getting yourself into every day. Or how to dress!"

"I bet you a million dollars it's going to rain in the next hour. Then you'll feel really stupid."

"Socks. I need socks. Better planning next time."

"Did you eat any of my tater tots while I was gone? It sure looks like you did 'cause I couldn't have eaten that many."

Have a good weekend, and watch what you say in public!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I own a yoga mat now, so. . .

Yoga has never appealed to me. Maybe because I can’t sit still. Maybe because I’m not very flexible. Maybe because I don’t know anything about it, and new things tend to frighten me. Maybe because of the pretentious manner in which most people tote around their yoga mats. I'm guessing it's a combination of these things.

I could only ignore the hype of its benefits for so long and purchased Jillian Michaels’ (of course) Yoga Meltdown DVD a few years ago. After doing it twice, bored out of my mind, I never used it again, convinced yoga was just as ridiculous as I thought it was.

After all my time watching quite a variety of yogis vigilantly attend classes at the gym, my curiosity started creeping in again since I had never actually taken a yoga class of any kind. The closest I got was chickening out of using a hot yoga Groupon I once bought – but, really, what was I thinking with that one? I sweat way too much as is for any good to have come from it. When I realized my schedule allowed for me to attend a yoga class immediately following a Zumba class two weeks ago, I thought why not go ahead and completely embarrass myself two classes in a row?
Luckily, I convinced two pretty cool friends to go with me and then went out and bought my very own yoga mat over my lunch break- and I have to say, I felt anything but elegant or refined trying to carry it back with me, weaving in and out of people and hitting most of them with the rolled-up magic carpet that was about to help me completely transform myself.

I cannot even begin to imagine the variations of yoga classes and instructors that exist, so I really had no idea what to expect, although I assumed I would either be bored and stifling yawns (and giggles) or miserably failing at contorting my body into impossible positions – and also still stifling giggles. I had heard good things from gym members about the instructor that day, so I was excited to see what all the fuss was about.

The lights went out, calming music started, and as we settled into child’s pose, the instructor encouraged us to quiet our minds and let go of all the negative thoughts holding us down. As she talked, I was surprised at how easy it was to relax  - and also at how good it felt. Over the course of about an hour, she led us through sets of pretty basic poses. Even I had heard of most of them and had a general idea of where my limbs should be, but I did often have to peek around at class members to try to figure out what I was actually
supposed to look like. I also admit to doing a little extra peeking out from under my legs when advanced participants were told they could go into headstands or crow pose or what have you. I wanted to attempt some of them just to see exactly what level of pathetic my strength is at, but I didn’t think anyone would appreciate having to see and hear me come crashing down.

I loved feeling like I was actually getting a bit of a workout in since my legs got a little shaky in some positions. It was also fun to just flow from one position to another, feeling weightless (though quickly being reminded of the truth since I stood right next to the mirror), and to really only be focusing on the movements and how I felt physically instead of on the  random thoughts usually running through my head at a ridiculous pace. I did giggle a little (I mean, come on, my butt was literally in my friend's face at one point), but I kept it to a minimum.

At the end, we lay on our backs with our eyes closed as the instrumental version of one of my favorite songs played and the instructor told us to thank ourselves and our bodies for taking the time to complete the class. I never thought it would feel so good to lie on my back on a dirty floor surrounded by strangers with no shoes on, but it was pretty awesome – awesome enough to go back again the following week.

I plan on going at least once a week now that I have an appreciation for it and can view it as an enhancement to my workout routine rather than the only workout on a given day - which is why I think I was so frustrated with it before because, mentally, I just have to feel gross and sweaty to feel satisfied with a workout, even if that isn’t a determining factor of success in reality.

I doubt once a week is enough to truly reap the benefits, but I will at least start there and see how it goes as I gradually dabble in it a bit more. I don't think I'll become the next yoga fanatic sashaying past you on the street with my mat, but I am happy to say that just the word yoga used to get nothing but an eye roll from me, and now I would honestly recommend it to anyone who might bother to ask my thoughts on it (although hopefully you know there are many other people that question is better suited for).

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday Favorites

Though we should appreciate our mothers every day, Mother's Day is a great reminder to show a little extra appreciation for the women working the toughest job out there day in and day out. With it just two days away, here are five favorite lessons I learned from my mom:

1. The importance of faith. Our religion has always been extremely important to my mom, and it shows in the way she lives, loves and teaches (and taught) us. Her example of staying strong in your faith regardless of your circumstances has always stuck with me in times where I've maintained my own strength and, more importantly, in times where I've struggled. 

2. The importance of being healthy. We grew up with a kitchen full of healthy and usually homemade food (my favorite part about sleepovers was eating my friends' Toaster Strudels - sad but true - because they did not dare live in our freezer). Treats were just that - treats (what they're supposed to be). The past few years, my mom has maintained an even healthier diet and is a religious exerciser, which is a great example to me since you all know how I struggle with treats:)

Behind the scenes again.
3. The fact that families require sacrifice. My mom stayed home with us for many years and put in countless hours helping us with anything from homework to figure skating costumes. We never made it easy for her, but we could always count on her, even though it meant putting our needs - and our wants - before hers.

4. The importance of forgiveness. Whether I was fighting with my sisters, wronged by a friend or arguing with Jared, she always emphasized the power of forgiveness - instead of just taking my side and agreeing that I shouldn't have to apologize or even speak to someone ever again like I sometimes wanted her to.

5. Beauty comes from within. My mom isn't the slightest bit interested in fashion or makeup or anything the "beauty" industry promotes. My sisters and I have a little more interest than her, but not by much. She has always taught us - out loud and by example - that beauty is not found in what you wear or weigh but by what's inside - and people who don't understand that are probably not the best people for you to spend your time with.

Call or visit your mothers this weekend and THANK them!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A glimpse into the life of. . .

                     DEB PETERSON
Deb with her beautiful family.
Living in Jamestown, I had the privilege of clearing out Deb's kitchen after she baked or cooked up a storm. And, man, do I miss that!
More importantly, I have the privilege of having a marvelous friendship with her youngest daughter.

Thanks to that, I have been lucky enough to get to know Deb and her family. Among the many admirable characteristics they all share, the one that has always stood out to me is their genuine kindheartedness - and I'm pretty sure it stems from Deb:)

After graduating from Jamestown College in 1980, s
he worked for the Department of Human Services until recently retiring from working part time for the North Dakota State Hospital. She continues to work as the owner of a private practice for outpatient substance abuse counseling.

Current profession: Director and licensed addiction counselor at Addiction & Counseling Services.

Dream job: Wow, I have it! I get to do the work I still love after 33 years.

I have great people working for me and as the owner of the business, I have a lot of flexibility so I can spend time doing what I love. I really couldn't ask for anything more!

First job ever: Babysitting.  My mom did child care while I was growing up, so being around kids has always been very natural and enjoyable for me.

First "grown-up" job: Waitress at the local cafe in the town I grew up in (Wimbledon, ND). For anyone who has never waitressed, I have to say it is hard work! I remember coming home exhausted!

What drew you to counseling? When I was younger I wanted to be a counselor because I wanted to help people. It didn't take me long to realize that it wasn't so much about helping people as it is about helping people find the strength we all have inside. So I don't feel like I really help people, but rather guide people to find their answers.

What is your favorite part about your job? Watching people recover from their addiction is powerful. I find that watching people gain strength and restore their lives is a wonderful gift. I always feel blessed to be a part of others' recovery.

What is your biggest challenge? Keeping my energy level up. I find that managing my own business can sometimes be overwhelming. I sometimes have to tell myself, "Relax, breathe, it will get done."

What advice would you give someone pursuing a similar career?  First of all, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Sometimes people think they will make a lot of money - not so. Be prepared to learn to get to know yourself so you can separate yourself from the clients you will work with. In the beginning this work can be very emotionally exhausting. It is important to learn how to protect yourself emotionally.  Finally, if you feel passionate that this is what you are supposed to do with your life - go for it!  It can be draining and exhausting but very rewarding!


What advice do you wish you could give your 25-year-old self? This isn't about careers, but about life. Embrace every moment. Appreciate what you have; life will go by very fast, and some of the things that bother you now won't even feel important as you age. Time will pass, and you can't go back.

How do you define success? Doing what I love, the blessing of family and friends and time to enjoy and appreciate them.

Who has been your biggest influence? My mother. She suffers from dementia, and in the last year I have found myself aware of how much of who I am I get from my mom; the way I parent, the way I nurture, the way I express affection, the way I celebrate holidays and traditions, my skill in the kitchen - they all come from my mom.

What hobbies do you enjoy in your spare time? Gardening, reading, scrapbooking, spending time with my kids and my grandson. He is six, and I tell him he is my favorite little boy in the world. He giggles, and it warms my heart.

Number one on your bucket list: I don't have one; I just try to live each day with no regrets, although I would really like to go to Paris!

Favorite ice cream flavor: Easy - rocky road. All those almonds and marshmallows -yum!

Thank you, Deb!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Favorites

Mean Girls' 10-year anniversary got me thinking about other awesome movies that have reached decade-old status, so I did a little digging, and here are 10 other favorites that have been around (or will be soon) for 10 years already! Heads up, though: two of the biggest movies of 2004 (at least according to the Oscars that year) were Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator, both of which I have not seen (I know, I know), so they are not on my list! And keep in mind my general taste in movies is about as popular as my general taste in music.

1. The Notebook (June 25). My FAVORITE movie. Ever. And I am not ashamed.
2. Crash (May 6). I know not everyone loved this, but not many movies - or anything, really - have made me feel as many emotions in such a short time span.
3. Napoleon Dynamite (August 27). Classic. 
4. Saved! (Sept. 16). I can watch Macaulay Culkin dance in a wheelchair and Mandy Moore throw Bibles at people all day.
5. Anchorman (July 9). You know you've quoted it, and if even I like this one, it's pretty hard to find someone who doesn't.
6. 13 Going on 30 (April 23). My first introduction to Mark Ruffalo - and Jennifer Garner could not get any more adorable. Please bring back chick flicks like this.
7. Dodgeball (June 18). Every time I watch it, I ask myself why I don't watch it more often.
8. The Princess Diaries 2 (August 11). My first introduction to Chris Pine and about the time I started to warm up to Anne Hathaway. Also, I like movies made for 12-year-olds.
9. Win a Date with Tad Hamilton (January 23). I somehow forgot about this movie until it was randomly on at 1 AM a few weeks ago on a Wednesday, and I fell in love all over again.
 10. The Phantom of the Opera (December 22). I loved the music before, but I never paid much attention to the musical until Emmy Rossum totally and completely mesmerized me. I have no problem watching this over...and over...and over.
Find one of your 10-year-old favorites, and watch it this weekend!