It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

It’s okay to not be okay. Life is not linear. There isn’t one path or one way. Sometimes you are stuck. Sometimes you don’t know where to go next. Sometimes you don’t like Monday’s. Sometimes everything you worked for is a total mess and you have to start all over again. Sometimes you get fired. Sometimes you break up with the guy who couldn’t commit. Sometimes, no matter how many miles you run, your love for alcohol and fries will perturb you from losing those 3 inches off your waist. Sometimes your best friend moves away. And then another one does. Sometimes, your parent’s house is full so you can’t move back home. And despite it all, you take a shower, you get dressed, and you put on that brave face and you coat it with a smile.

You know that everything will be okay because everyone keeps telling you that it will be okay. That this too shall pass. That what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Stop it. Seriously stop it. You can let that tear roll down your face. You can feel your body tingle. You can see the goose bumps. You can run and get a tissue. You have permission to wallow. You do. Because right now it might not feel likes it’s all okay. Right now, you might be going through that moment in life that will change you. It will determine your character. It will determine who you become.

Let me just be clear. Your circumstances are not permanent.

Breaking up with a guy you love hurts. And Ben & Jerry’s isn’t going to help.

Losing your job, it hurts. Booking a one-way trip isn’t going to solve it, though you can still travel alone and take advantage.

Getting the body of your dreams isn’t easy. No matter how many miles you run or how many kale salads you eat or how many health apps you try.

It takes a lot to be an adult. To pay your bills. To do work with integrity while your coworkers are on Tinder. To save. To count your blessings. And, yes, you, the girl down on her luck, the girl who feels so deep in the tunnel that she can’t see the light, yes, darling you, have many blessings.

But I want you to take this moment and realize that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to feel a little taken aback. A little less confident. A little tarnished. A little unwanted.

It’s not easy to rebuild your life. To find a new job. A new man. A new best friend. To carve out a new lifestyle.

So, as I write this, my tears have finally dried on my face, but the computer screen is still blurry.

You have permission to curl in a ball, grab your blanket, and have a moment. You don’t always have to be strong. You just have to know that you can’t stay in bed and think that all your problems are going to be solved by ignoring them.

Tonight you can cry. Tomorrow night you can cry. But in the morning, or maybe two weeks later you’ll realize that you can’t keep crying. You have to get up and keep going. You’re an amazing person. And one setback. Five setbacks. Ten failed relationships. A bad job. An undefined waist will not define the rest of your life. You’ve got this. You are stronger than you think you are. But right now, it’s okay to not be okay.

 

 

 

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Why Summertime Chi is Magical: Chicago Bucketlist

We wait – through the cold and wind and as we thaw out, our ray of light is summertime Chi. I always question why people love this time of year. People are quick to talk about the festivals or movies in the park or Lollapollza and I’m here to tell you while those all sound great, And I have some tips about them, there’s more to living in Chicago than that. I’m here to show you the magical aspects of summertime in Chicago. 

This is a list of everything I’ve loved doing in Chicago this summer. There is so much more to do, but it’s a good taste of Chicago’s summer from outdoor sports to beach days, to patios and Chicago’s rooftops.

1. Yoga (or any sport) in the park

Every summer in Chicago there are endless Meetup groups and also free Pilates and boot camps in parks throughout Chicago. The last series in Millennium Park is Labor Day Weekend!

2. Go to a wedding. If you don’t have an invite, you’re sure to see beautiful brides taking pictures on streeet corners or near Navy Pier. I went to one of the most beautiful weddings at the Ivy Room in State and Ohio St. this August. There were flowers hanging from the ceiling with tea lights and a live band. Going to a Chicago wedding is an honor.

3. Have a girl’s night in the city at museums with al fresco martinis. While summer is a great time to be outside, you might want to mix it up. One of the most amazing nights was having a girls night at the Chicago History Museum where we learned about fashion and then went a mile south to the Waldorf Astoria for cocktails al fresco and makeovers from Dior. Chicago has so many fun mixers like this and pulling off a multi-destination event could only be done when it’s still warm outside.

4. Go to a Chicago rooftop. One of the most memorable day parties I went to this summer was at Gino East’s rooftop where we had our hair done by The LISA app and ate delicious pizza with out vodka lemonade’s for the Chicago Instagram Influencers group, Chicagogrammers’ first birthday. The patio is so nice and has beautiful furniture for epic photoshoots.

5. Enjoy shopping on State Street or Michigan Ave. Summertime is amazing because you can actually start your shopping spree on State Street, then walk along the Chicago Riverwalk and all along the Magnificent Mile. Stores are always hosting events and having blowout sales. For instance Nike had a curvy girl fitness event on August 31, 2017 where they had a braid bar, martinis, wraps and a runway. 

For my shopping adventures. I went to Nordstrom Rack a few times and bought too many BCBG heels,  and then fell in love with a white blazer at Express. I walked all the way to Water Tower Place where I found my favorite party dress at Akira for $10. 

6. Get that mani and pedi. During the winter, your feet always are covered up with socks on them and your hands always have gloves. Summertime is that one opportunity to enjoy a fresh manicure. You don’t have to go with the nude polish if you don’t want to! This summer, I tried Groupon’s new beauty booking app, Beauty Now. In less than 5 minutes, I could book an appointment for the same afternoon without waiting. And that, my love, is nice.

7. Go to the movies. It wouldn’t be summertime without a summer movie. I had so many amazing movie experiences. If you haven’t been go to the VIP room at the movie theatre, the Showplace Icon Theatre in The Roosevelt Collection. They had red recliners and you can get dinner and cocktails there. It’s truly one of the best date nights I have had. Very comfy. The other spot to check out is The Music Box Theater. A little secret is that they have a bar and a game room and a gorgeous patio with twinkle lights. 

8. Enjoy the parks. Whether it’s Lincoln Park or Millenium Park or Museum Campus. Don’t miss the opportunity to sit and read in the park and soak up the sun. Talenti partnered with the summer in the park series and handed out thousands of free Talenti gelato on multiple occasions. So, free ice cream and sunshine. You can’t go wrong. Another favorite activity is seeing people tightrope in Oz Park – if you’re lucky, they’ll let you try it but you might need someone to hold on to as you walk across from tree to tree.

9. Work out. This summer I challenged myself and signed up for The Chicago Marathon on October 8, 2017. It’s a big commitment and I’ve ran everywhere from the 606 trail to 31st beach. Almost have 200 miles logged.

It seems that everyone is working on their summer bodies. It’s a good time to challenge yourself and try a new workout. One of the coolest workout experiences I had was at a new virtual cycling experience, Cycmode. The bikes literally swerved left to right with you and as you stare at the big screen it takes you on a journey going uphill and downhill. You no longer have to visualize hills.


If cycling isn’t your thing, there’s a place on the south side called Razzmatazz which has indoor bubble soccer and an adult obstacle course. You get to be a kid again but it’s also difficult to keep a bubble around you while playing soccer. Seriously, though, it was a fun way to workout. 

10. Go to a conference. Chicago has so many amazing conferences. One of my favorites is Techweek Chi – it’s a week long of multi-location parties all around Chicago’s tech scene. Check out my interview with the CEO here. 

11. Volunteer. I joined the Chicago Cares group for their volunteer day, where 5k people came together to connect and build relationships for a stronger, more unified city. Today we are painting murals and classrooms with positive messages at Burnside Scholastic Academy. Our collective work will save CPS $3 million in facility impacts! Love making a difference? Sign up for Chicago Cares 200 monthly volunteer projects at chicagocares.org.

12. Take a weekend trip to another Midwest city. While it’s hard to leave Chicago, it’s also nice to explore other cities.  This summer, I experienced St. Louis for the first time and it was amazing. They had a music festival going on and I got to try their famous BBQ and art scene. 

13. Ride Divvy bikes. There’s nothing more exciting than riding a bike. I would suggest riding a bike on the Lakefront path but you can also ride down Michigan Ave. They did raise the price a bit (it’s about $10 to rent a bike for the day). I still think you should experience seeing Chicago by bike. 

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14. Go to a baseball game. This summer I went to my first White Sox game and then I went to a Cubs game. Baseball games are exciting to go to – the city comes alive and I must say there is nothing quite like singing baseball games with excited fans in Wrigley. 


15. Eat ice cream. My favorite summertime treat is ice cream! I tried Bombobar for the first time and found out their shakes are actually frozen hot chocolate, which I tried and honestly doesn’t taste good. It’s very rich. Their gelato however is amazing and even better than Eataly’s gelato.


16. Go on a boat. This is always the mission. Chicago has a beautiful river and lake and it’s really nice to experience them while on a boat. I did the Architecture Tour for the first time and it was a great experience to not only look at Chicago’s architecture, but also learn the stories behind the skyline and how Chicago’s skyline will continue to change.


17. Go to the beach. Okay well the beach was actually amazing because I found a Pier at 31st beach where it was safe to jump off. Turns out you don’t have to go to Europe to jump off a pier. It was a pretty steep jump, but it was also one of my favorite moments of this summer. All of the beaches have a bit of charm to them. North Ave. Beach tends to be the most active with volleyball nets and the infamous, Castaways.


18. Ride the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier. I have to say that one of the scariest moments of this summer was prepping myself to the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier. I hate heights, so I almost didn’t do it. But the staff showed me the panic button in the Ferris Wheel. One thing you have to note is that this is an enclosed Ferris Wheel. So it doesn’t feel like you are as high up as you are. With your purchase, you get to see Chicago’s skyline three times before getting off. 


19. Try something new with your hair. I don’t know about you, but while summertime in Chicago is nice, my hair is not. So rather than putting it on my bucket list for another summer, I decided to do something about my hair and try Keratin treatment. I got in July 2017 and was sad to hear that you can’t go into a pool or the ocean with Keratin treated hair. Luckily, you can still go to the lake. I’m glad I did the treatment because now I just have to straighten my hair and I don’t need product. If I lived near the ocean, though, I wouldn’t have had the treatment done.

20. Go to a Foodie event or festival. I would be remiss if I didn’t add this to list. The best festivals of summer are honestly Taste of Chicago or Greek Fest (you can ride a camel downtown). But if you want a smaller scale foodie events, there’s Culinary Fight Club. I went to the BBQ edition where they had some of the top regional chefs make BBQ creations that you could vote on. They also had a Black Jack table and had ring pops in their goodie bags. The Thrillest also had a BBQ cookout for restaurants in Chicago. They made it into a country theme with a love band, string lights and Jenga. 


21. Date. Chicago, oh Chicago is known for its dating scene. Cuffing season happens right about the time when football comes back and Labor Day ends because everyone needs a cuddle buddy for the cold Chicago months ahead. But rather than dating and swiping this summer, I had more of a Grease Lightning experience – only dating one guy. And it was pretty magical going on date nights to steakhouses and The Grand Lux Cafe and having beach days and taking him to launch parties with me. I think everyone should experience a summer with a guy they like. Dating in the summer is so much better than any other season because you actually get to do things and explore the city together. Also, if you missed my segment on WGN radio – you can listen to my dating stories here.

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Dior Makeovers and Blowouts at Chicago History Museum and Waldorf Astoria

What’s a girl’s night look like? Well, it has martinis, makeup, Β lots and lots of braiding, and then an opportunity to look at pretty dresses and take selfies. Dior and Medici Museums delivered for us Chicago city girls this past Tuesday, August 15, 2017.

There wasn’t wardrobe changes, but there were location changes. This two-part event began Β at the Chicago History Museum (5:30-7pm), where the city’s top fashion bloggers – Hasty Book List,Β The Petite Diaries,Β Stile.Foto.Cibo., andΒ The Color PaletteΒ included lead scavenger hunts ofΒ Mainbocher, β€œAmerica’s First Couturier,” a twentieth-century tastemaker who dressed royalty and celebrities, inspired Dior’s β€œnew look”—and put theΒ chicΒ in Chicago.

“Showcasing a Chicago designer who was so influential to fashion as a whole was a great way to get to know other Chicago fashion bloggers and enjoy a Ketel One cocktail,” said Chicago blogger, Danni Levine-Moore ofΒ Stile.Foto.Cibo.

If you don’t know, now you know that he made the strapless dress you’re favorite staple. You can learn all about his fascinating life, view his designs and even design your own dress (on a mannequin) in under 5 minutes at the Β Making Mainbocher: The First American CouturierΒ exhibit, which will be on display at the Chicago History Museum until August 20, 2017.

After filling out a scavenger hunt card, designing our own dress, and making new friends, we were ready for a location change. A mile away, this Chicago girl’s night took us to the Waldorf Astoria where delicious Ketel One martinis and vodka lemonades were waiting for us along with, because the event was so well spaced out, felt like our own Dior make-up artist and hair stylist.

We mingled at Waldorf Astoria’s new conceptΒ Petit Margeaux, the brainchild of celebrity chef Michael Mina. This fashion-forward hotel, with its Dior-inspired tiled lobby floor and Chanel-influenced chandeliers, was the perfect backdrop for our selfie’s.

After the all-inclusive evening, we made a few friends and stopped over for (thin crust) pizza across the street. Not bad for a Tuesday night.

 

 

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There is Lower Cost Transportation Options Than Rideshare for a Night Out

Planning a night out can be the worst. Everyone shows up at different times and wants to try out a dance bar or a Tiki bar or do a taco crawl. The more people involved – the more opinions. And since a night out in Chicago usually involves a few rounds of drinks, finding a designated driver or making sure all your girlfriends get home okay can add more stress. Of course, the go-to is to open up your favorite rideshare app, but there’s a much better option for a group in Chicago!

Better Than Rideshare:

Reserving a party bus or limousine for your next night out not only ensures a safe ride for everybody involved, but it also adds a layer of convenience that can’t be replicated by a taxi or Uber. You’ve reserved a block of time, so you’re able to visit multiple destinations through out the night instead of sticking to one or two within walking distance. You’ll be able to enjoy features such as spacious cabins for easy socialization through the night, cup holders for your beverages, sophisticated hardwood flooring and lighting, television panels with DVD players, stereos with the ability to stream through auxiliary ports, and more.

Professional chauffeurs have the knowledge needed to get you where you need to be efficiently and safely. They’ve also had tons of experience taking groups to local hot spots, so they can offer up suggestions if you’re unsure of where to head to next. It’s like having your own personal concierge and night club on the road!

Affordability:

While most groups assume that a Chicago Party Bus is too expensive considering the sophistication, when you divide the overall cost evenly among every one involved, it’s comparable to a rideshare service or taxi trip with a lot more to look forward to. You can save even more money by avoiding high traffic months like wedding and prom season, and the weekend if possible. With a bit of preparation beforehand, you can make sure your next get together is fun, safe and affordable!

This is a sponsored post.

About the Author:Β Alan James is a local travel writer who specializes in entertainment topics. They hope to provide a helpful voice for those looking to elevate their leisure time.

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What to Order on a Dinner Date to Grand Lux Cafe Chicago

Grand Lux Cafe has always been known for their amazing desserts like this one.Β And while it would be a disappointment to forgo dessert. Dessert is one of the best parts of a number restaurants I have reviewed including Chop in The Roosevelt Collection.Β But, it’s nice to actually enjoy a good meal with your significant other or a group of friends after shopping on Michigan Avenue.

The 200 item menu at Grand Lux Cafe offers classic American dishes and international favorites, including appetizers, pasta, seafood, steaks, chicken, burgers, salads, specialty items and desserts. And while the food – the real food is quite tasty – what’s especially nice about this restaurant is that on top of offering fine cuisine, it also has an onsite bakery for delicious desserts, and my favorite – their cappuccinos.

I went to Grand Lux on a Friday night in July for a date. I’ve been there with a friend, but I like this setting for an intimate date – when you can forget time.

The Cocktails:

Grand Lux is pretty amazing for their cocktails alone. It’s beautiful inside and it almost seems like just grabbing a cocktail here would be a waste because the food is so good. But, there are some really good cocktails on the menu. If you’re ordering a main dish – I would go with the champagne or a glass of wine – it just pairs better. I had the Laurent-Perrier, Brut, France champagne, which is drier and comes in a cute mini bottle.

But, when you’re having apps, I would order the Passion in Paradise. It’s a rum drink with Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, Pineapple, Passion Fruit and Fresh Lemon. It’s tropical, it’s big, and it’s strong, and seriously refreshing.

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The Appetizers and Salad:

You quite honestly don’t want to miss the appetizers. The portion sizes of the main dishes are quite large, but when you’re staying for a while, treat yourself to one of restaurant goers favorites – the Buffalo Chicken Rolls. I know! I was skeptical because it seems like an Asian twist on sports food – and it was – but it was really good. The Buffalo Chicken Rolls have Chicken Breast, Cheese and Our Very Spicy Delicious Buffalo Sauce all Rolled in a Spiced Wrapper and Fried until Crisp. Served with Celery Sticks and Blue Cheese Dressing (which you can swap for Ranch).

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Another appetizer that I wanted to try was the Ahi Ceviche which has Fresh Raw Ahi Tuna Diced and Marinated in Lime Juice, Chiles and Cilantro. Tossed with Avocado, Tomato, Onion and Cucumber. But of course, we only have one stomach. So, I tried my date’sΒ Pot Roast Cheese Fries, which is basically pot roast flavored fries. It’s French Fries Topped with Chunks of Tender Pot Roast Smothered with Gravy and Creamy Cheddar Cheese Sauce.

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The Main Dish:

Finally, after atleast one cocktail, some delicious buffalo chicken and a zesy salad, it’s time to enjoy salmon. When I use to think of Grand Lux, I thought of them as pasta and desserts, but now since I’m trying to eat healthier, and they really do a great job with their sauces, I order their salmon. There are three salmon dishes on the menu and they are not created equal.

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I think the Cedar Plank BBQ salmon was nicely flavored and the side of mashed potatoes are amazing. It is roasted on a Cedar Plank and Glazed with Sweet and Spicy B.B.Q. Sauce. Served with Mashed Potatoes, Corn Succatash and Crispy Onion Rings.

Then, there’s the salmon three ways – Β Soy Glazed with Shiitake Mushrooms, Horseradish Crusted with Asparagus and Almond Ginger with Green Beans and Beurre Blanc. Some of the salmon was a bit dry for my liking. But, I will say the horseradish crusted with asparagus and almond ginger was a great blend.

The Dessert:

The best part of the meal is dessert! I liked theΒ Warm Sticky Bun Bread Pudding.Β The Sticky Bun’s crunch and the sweet caramel drizzle are completed with a side of whip cream, which both complements and cools the dessert and you can get the recipe here.Β 

But, I went with the Godiva chocolate cheesecake and paired it with their cappuccino. I’m seriously obsessed with the cappuccino’s here. They are the best because they do have an onsite bakery and coffee shop. This cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts in the city. It was rich. It was creamy. It’s also huge, so you can split it with your date or a group of friends or take some home like I did.

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Overall, I really enjoyed my dinner at Grand Lux Cafe. I think that the service was impeccable, especially because we had Oscar who recommended several appetizers and my favorite drink. But I also like Grand Lux because in a city you can feel so rushed and the establishments can be so small, but here I felt like I could have a conversation (which we did for three hours) and get to know someone.

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