Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Summer in Chicago is amazing. Sure, it can be crazy-hot and swamp-humid, but it’s my favorite season, hands-down. One of my favorite things of summer is the reappearance of farmers markets. Sure they have flowers, veggies, and fruit… but my neighborhood market also has crepes, fresh bread, and a truck called, “Everything’s Better with Bacon.”
There are more than 70 vendors that come out every day of the week throughout the city. If you haven’t been to a market yet, you should go! The people-watching is pretty amazing, and you can find some pretty fantastic, super-fresh produce. As a bonus, you’re supporting local farmers and businesses. I think this weekend I’ll check out the farmers market and look for some strawberries and asparagus… and maybe a crepe!
For more information about Farmer's Markets in Chicago.
To find a Farmer's Market near you, in the city or suburbs, click here.
Image from Free Things To Do In Chicago (Green City Market).
Monday, June 27, 2011
Change is putting it mildly when we talk about the rapid pace at which new technologies are being introduced. I have seen more changes in the past two years than I had seen for decades. We are connecting with more people, more often and faster each day. It is about “access” – to individuals, like-minded groups, information, data, offers – you name it, we can now access it – immediately.
The speed of access is fine with me, but what I fear we are losing is the personal connection and ability to build relationships. On a personal note, I find myself working very hard not to let go the notion of a hand-written thank you note, or the moment it takes to dial the phone to actually talk to someone – voice to voice. It’s easy to get taken with the speed of technology, the 24/7 access, the fun nuances of the smartphones and apps, and the feeling of always being connected. But, who/what are we connected to? People or devices? As a parent, I am aware and accepting of the fact that my son will learn differently than I did, and that technology will support and enhance his learning skills right from the start. However, I do want him to know how to write, read a book (the one where you turn the pages), and be able to have a conversation. Finding the balance will be a journey!
On a professional note, I find myself so very proud of my background as a direct marketer. After all, the digital marketplace will only be successful for those marketers who are able to use data to deliver targeted, relevant offers. The terms data mining, customer relationship management, loyalty, one-to-one communications, and results tracking are being touted as “new” for today’s innovative digital marketers. But, for many of us, those are the marketing principles upon which we were raised. The business of direct marketing was never considered glamorous, and certainly not a big line item in the advertising budget…until recently. Now, advertisers and marketers alike are after the same thing…a loyal customer relationship where you have earned their business and trust, and a relationship that can be measured in financial terms. Getting to know your customer, delivering relevant communications & offers, and continuing the dialogue are the basics that will help marketers be successful. How we use technology to create, deliver and manage our customer relationships is the challenge we face. We need to grow and evolve, yet not under estimate the power of a personal relationship.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
If you happened to see the last Cloverleaf, you may have read about Marcia being chosen as "Athlete of the Month" at our gym, Atlas CrossFit. Have you ever heard of CrossFit?
A friend of mine who lives in Portland had shared a bit with me about his experience with this up-and-coming "sport", but I had no idea what I was getting myself into... At the end of October, 2009, I noticed a sign, mentioned it to Katy, and before I knew what was happening she'd gotten a bunch of us here at the office to go for a free introductory class. I hadn't been to a gym in years, and besides swimming occasionally, exercise wasn't really a part of my routine.
After that first day, I could barely make it up and down stairs for the next week, let alone walk down the 6 steps to exit the building that night. Many of us felt the same way, and it's actually a phenomenon I have heard almost all new people at the gym describe after their first few classes. But for some reason, I was motivated by Katy to continue going back. We made it through our Basic Training sessions, and then started to attend group classes regularly.
CrossFit is described as, "Constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement." Every day the workout is different – and a surprise. Our classes are an hour long, with a group warm-up, strength or skill work, and then the workout itself, which usually last between 15 and 30 minutes. Short, but fast and intense. Besides a rower, there are no machines. Most exercises and combinations of exercises use your own body weight (think air squats, push-ups, burpees) and free weights (like dumbells, barbells, kettlebells), and there is always a strong emphasis on form – proper execution makes it "easier" to lift heavier weights.
So, I've been CrossFitting now for a little over a year and a half (with a couple hiatuses) and I have to say I still love it. It's really hard, and I often question why I am torturing myself doing it, but I'm never bored. Never. It's difficult to drag myself there, but I always feel better, even great, afterwards. And as much as I complain about it, I love being sore/stiff. I also really love being able to track my progress and see myself getting stronger and faster.
I encourage you to give CrossFit a try if you are looking for a new motivation to exercise or to simply to mix up your routine. About a year ago we got Marcia to start the classes, and not only did she get hooked, she was recognized with our gym's top honor!
If I've peaked your curiosity, here are a few links to check out. You can also email me if you have questions!
CrossFit main website
Every Second Counts (amazing documentary – including a short trailer – of CrossFit Games)
Hillary's CrossFit (my own blog recording my progress)
My Gym's Vimeo (Workouts and interviews by Athletes of the Month)
Friday, June 3, 2011
My futile attempt at running began seven years ago when I signed up for a charity 5k in my town. I lasted about 3 blocks. I hated it. Bound and determined to break the mental roadblock, I signed up again. I lasted about 3 blocks. I hated it. I hit the turning point in year three by running about half a mile. I was ecstatic. I hated it. The T-shirts began to pile up and I still was crossing the finish line at a fast paced walk. I finally figured out that what was beating me was the anticipation. By the time the gun went off I was so afraid of not finishing I wasn’t able to even start. I needed to relax, to realize that just maybe I would have a bit of fun. And slowly, very slowly, I improved. Music helped. This year I completed my first 10k, ran the whole course, and crossed the finish line in true Olympic arm raised triumph. And I liked it.
I will be participating in the TREK Sprint Triathlon in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. Check back in mid July to see how I finished. Your prayers are welcomed.
Swimming. I hate it.
*Wilma Rudolph, Olympic Gold-medal Runner.