Attitude of Gratitude

My what a difference a year makes. I distinctly remember Thanksgiving a year ago to the day and the overwhelming feeling I had, like no other I’d ever allowed myself to experience before. It was warm and gooey, it fully swallowed me up and knocked my feet out from under me. It was the best feeling I’d ever had and I couldn’t quite name it.

I walked home from yoga, trying to pin point it exactly. Love? Sure, but more than that. Happiness? Definitely, but something was missing. I realized that I loved and was so happy with everything in my life, both the good and bad. I was so fortunate to be back in the city I called home, with my family and friends, employed with a purpose, in a new relationship, and finding my true self. It smacked me across the face suddenly, yo ding dong, this is what gratitude feels like. This is what Thanksgiving is really about.

Tears sprung out of nowhere, but they were the happy kind which is something else that I’ve never allowed. The rest of my walk home was in awe of this incredible feeling I’d never really opened up to and the point in my life I decided I never wanted to let it go.

This Thanksgiving I walked home from yoga, letting the feeling of gratitude consume me again, full on dancing down the street. This past year has 100% been the best year yet, and I’ve had some fucking good years. On paper though, you wouldn’t necessarily draw that conclusion. I was dealt the unemployment card (again), parted ways from close friends, and ended a relationship to name a few things. The difference between this year and the ones before it though, was the attitude of gratitude I clung to through the ups and downs.

Gratitude is not something you have to wait for to smack you across the face. It’s something you can practice everyday. It’s as simple of taking one minute a day to think of three things you’re thankful for that day. The biggest shift I made this past year was to drop the victim act. It’s not cute, k folks? Instead of resenting the things I didn’t have in my life, being salty about things I can’t control and focusing my energy in a neggy direction I decided to switch it up.

Let’s be happy about the things that I do have, because in all honesty it’s a lot more than most. There are only a few things you can control in life: how much you move your body, what you put in your mouth, how you spend your cash and your attitude. That’s about it. So let’s focus on blowing these things out of the water. And above all else, keep everything in a positive light. Stand in a place of gratefulness. Everything always seems to work out for the best anyway despite how bad it may feel now, so when you lean into that, trust it from the beginning…things seem to work out even better and the journey along the way is much more enjoyable.

So here’s to the best year yet, knowing that I won’t accept anything less.

Things I’m super duper grateful to have in my life:
Family, yoga, burpees, my fully functioning legs, wine, lululemon, dirty chais, sun, crossfit, pumpkin pie, music and all the peeps who put it out there, new friends and old, vinyasa scarfs, a beautiful home in one of the world’s best cities, sweat, snow, books, water, my sweet bike, hot showers, and FaceTime just to name a few.

Summer Sensations

It’s time for a summer wrap up, and we’ll start off with the best dishes o’ the summer. Get your taste buds ready to remember the best parties in our mouth of 2011. However, putting it out there that I was super slippin’ on the photos this year…will never happen again.

La Porte’s Italian Beef
5 lb. round bottom tip
3 beef bullion cubes
3 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 16 oz. jars of pepperoncini
2 cans of beer (lager or ale)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a crockpot cook the beef, along with the rest of the ingredients on high for 4-6 hours basting hourly.  When the beef is fully cooked, bring out Grandpa Mike’s meat slicer and go to town on that roast.  Serve with Turano brand French rolls and gairdanara. (sp?)

El Bigote
1 can, cream of coconut
Pineapple juice, amount equal to coconut
Fresh squeezed lime juice
Fresh mint
Ice

White Trash, aka La Porte Style Margaritas
1 can frozen limeade concentrate
12 oz tequila
12 oz seven up
1 12 oz Mexican beer preferable Tecate

Mix together in pitcher, pour on the rocks and get fucked up. Makes 1 pitcher, duh.

Cups of Yum
1 (16 ounce) package wonton wrappers
1 pound pork sausage (prefer Jimmy Dean spicy! in the breakfast meats)
1 bag (8 oz) shredded cheese
1-2 cup Ranch-style salad dressing
2 Tablespoon Cayenne
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.

Brown the sausage in a pan and drain off excess oil.  In a mixing bowl, mix the sausage, and other ingredients. Start slowing with cheese and ranch dressing and add to taste.

Insert wonton wrappers into the muffin pan so as to form small cups. Bake 5 minutes in the preheated oven. Pull out and fill the baked wonton wrapper cups with the sausage mixture.

Bake the filled wonton wrappers 10 to 15 minutes, until the sausage mixture is bubbly and slightly brown. Watch closely so the wonton wrappers do not burn.

Shenna’s Cheesy Potato Salad: A Summertime Classic
5 Russet potatoes
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese
Ranch Dressing
4-5 Green onions, chopped
6-8 Bacon Slices, chopped
Lawry’s seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel and cube potatoes, boil them in stock pot until fork tender.  Remove potatoes from heat, and drain.  Put potatoes back into the dry pot and add cheese, green onions, and bacon.  Pour in ranch dressing until you reach the consistency you desire.  Add Lawry’s seasoning salt, table salt, and pepper to taste.

Lexi Myer’s Beef burgers
1 lb. Ground Beef
Diced onion
Garlic, prefer fresh
Lawry’s Seasoning
Worcestershire Sauce
1 egg, beaten
Dried bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Make patties and cook ’em.

Lexi Myer’s Turkey burgers
1 lb. Ground turkey
Diced red onion
Dived red pepper
Garlic, prefer fresh
Poultry Seasoning
Worcestershire Sauce
1 egg, beaten
Dried bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

See recipe for Lexi Myer’s Beef Burgers.

Summertime Grilled Corn

Farm fresh corn shucked and removed of all silk.

Rub corn cob with butter and sprinkle with Lawry’s seasoning salt.  Wrap corn in aluminum foil and place directly on the grill.

Make sure to start this first thing on the grill, as it takes about 30-45 min!

Steamed Mussels with White Wine
2 cloves garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bread
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
2 cups white wine
2 pounds cultivated mussels, scrubbed
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 baguette, halved lengthwise

Heat the oven to toast baguette. Heat the oil in a stockpot on the grates of the grill, add the shallots and garlic and cook until shallots soften. Add the wine, bring to a boil and stir in the mussels. Cover the pot and cook the mussels until all of them have opened, about 6 to 8 minutes, discard any that do not open.

Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Bring the cooking liquid to a simmer and whisk in the butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and reduce cooking liquid by a third. Pour the mixture over the mussels and serve immediately with grilled bread.

After the baguette is toasted, rub side of baguette with garlic and oil, season with salt and pepper 

Mueller’s Potato Salad
5 lbs. of russet potatoes—peeled, quartered and boiled
2-3 stalks of celery finely chopped
4-5 radishes grated
2-3 carrots grated
4-5 scallions finely chopped
1 heaping cup of mayo
1 heaping cup of sour cream
2 tsp. white pepper
2 tsp. sea salt

Chop and set aside six hard boiled eggs, peel, quarter and boil the potatoes in a large pot.

Chop all vegetables while the potatoes boil, drain potatoes when a fork easily pierces the potatoes, cut potatoes while they are still hot and sprinkle the salt and pepper directly onto the potatoes.

Place veggies in a HUGE pot or bowl; place mayo and sour cream on top of veggies; place eggs on top of the sour cream and mayo.

Let cool a bit then place into the fridge for a few hours to completely chill.

Labor Day Chick Pea Salad
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 small red onion finely chopped
1 cucumber, cored and chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
A few ribs celery and leafy tops, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or grated then grinded into a paste with salt (or garlic juice from fridge)
2 tablespoons rosemary, finely chopped, a few sprigs
21/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Variations:

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Feta cheese

Combine chick peas with onions, peppers, celery, garlic, and rosemary in a medium bowl. Dress salad with vinegar and oil, salt and pepper.

New Mexican Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
5-6 cups diced boneless chicken breasts
4 cups shredded cheese
1 bunch green onions
14oz can sliced black olives
6-8 diced Hatch green chiles (or best you can find in the Chi)
12 flour tortillas
1 cup sour cream
1 15oz can green chile enchilada sauce
10.75oz can of condensed cream of chicken soup

Bake chicken breasts until done (or prepare before hand in crockpot).  Dice chicken.

Chop green onions and green chilies, mix with chicken, 3 cups cheese, and olives in a large bowl.

Combine sour cream, enchilada sauce, and cream of chicken soup and heat on low until barely simmering.

Roll each tortilla with chicken mixture and arrange side by side in a large baking dish. (leftover chicken mix can be spread over the top of the prepared enchiladas).

Cover enchiladas with sauce and remaining cup of cheese.

Cook uncovered at 350deg for 30 min or until bubbly hot.

Parisa’s Easiest & Most Amazing Salsa
1 lg can of whole peeled tomatoes
½ purple onion
2 cloves garlic
½ bunch cilantro
2 jalapenos
2 limes

Put all in a blender, and mix.

Add chunks of mango or avocado for an awesome mix’n it up

Plankfest

Playboy pinball machine to foosball table plank.

This past holiday weekend, my friend Hans and I decided to jump on the Plank wagon and I can’t tell you how glad I am that we did. Started by the Aussie’s earlier this year, this fad has been sweeping the world. In case you’re wondering what’s the point, there isn’t one really. Just lay down like a plank and take a picture.

Here’s a nice little collection of our planks. In case you’re wondering, we were going for the “austere glare” in a few of these, but have since been corrected that a proper plank shows no emotion whatsoever and is completely face down. Got it.

And you can be sure there will be more where this came from.

The original plank that kicked it off.

Shadow Plank.

Home Plate Plank.

The watch out Hans is going to pants you on top of an 8 foot rock plank.

Picnic table plank.

I Heart Sweet Tee’s.

A few of my faves: Quite a few Jayhawks in there, Boobies, Rock the Bells concert tee, Adventure Dept shirt, kickball champs, backwards inspiration, BBQ and more.

It’s true, I need another sweet t-shirt like I need a hole in the freaking head. But there is something so gratifying about a clever saying, the perfect fit and wash, and that one hit graphic with no underbase on a tri-blend that I will always and forever fall for.

I can’t tell if working for a custom apparel branding company helped me or hurt me with my sickness…I can now easily eyeball any t-shirt and guess the blank and approximate cost with an art mockup, is that normal? I’m also a great t-shirt model (or so I’d like to think, but you can be the judge.) Layer in my years of retail and sales and that’s a lot of t-shirts in revenue + a bad therapy habit in the form of shopping.

However, it’s none of these things (albeit they are helpful) that make me a great fit for the Community Manager role at Threadless. It’s the fact that I’m a natural networker, I thrive on communication and human interactions and I’m brilliant at connecting with people. I’m also very handy with social media and I understand the power it holds for the future of marketing. Not to mention, I truly believe in the concept of community and how it can change our worlds, on many different levels, especially with new platforms for it grow in our social media frenzied world.

For more specifics on my experience and history, I would recommend snagging a copy of my resume here and then mosey on over to my I Know I Am, But What Are You? post to read more about my objectively defined skills and strengths.

And did I mention no-relocation for this girl involved? We’re neighbors…I’ll stop by to pick up a tee next week.

I Know I Am, But What Are You?

I’ll admit it: I’ve always had a zealous interest in assessments and personality profiles. Maybe even the quizes in Cosmo, too.

But ever since my days of leisure began, I’ve become intensely more interested in clearly defining my strengths. What are the innate talents that I, Shenna Jean, possess and bring to the table and can share with the world?

I think it all stems from my mom pegging me for an ENFP (Extrovert, Intuition, Feeling, Perception) from the Myer’s Briggs Assessment at the ripe age of 7. She’s always been a quiz nut and when she discovered the world of personality typecasting, she wasted no time using me as a guinea pig. A classic personality profiling tool, Myer’s Briggs had me pinned early on, and even again when I reconfirmed in my high school AP Psychology class.

But there is something about getting older, trying to become a little bit more wise, and I’ll be honest, soul searching and job hunting, that has inspired me to dig deeper into my strengths. So I decided to take a few tests.

I started by checking out my Kolbe score of 6391, very telling indeed. The Kolbe Assessment is fantastic, as it qualifies your conation, which is defined as: “Action derived from instinct; purposeful mode of striving, volition. It is a conscious effort to carry out self-determined acts.” Here’s my full blown report I received, which explains conation more in depth.

My big takeaways: my go-to mode of action is Improvise based on my score. I also love to Explain things, once I’ve done my homework and read up on it. I’m very Adaptable, which means I can switch up projects and tasks at hand while remaining productive and unflustered. And I love to Imagine. Don’t look to me to build anything, but I’ll dream it up for ya!

Next up came Strengthfinders, which I obvi loved. The idea behind the assessment is to stop worrying about what you suck at and start focusing on what you’re great at. My top 5 themes are Activate, Strategic, Ideation, Command & Woo which you can dig into here with the full blown report. Or simply broken down:
Activate: I have the ability to move a crowd to action and get things started…I make things happen by turning thoughts into action.
Strategic: I can quickly think problems down and around, spotting patterns and issues in any given scenario.
Ideation: Defined, it means idea generation. And if there is one thing I’m never short on, it’s ideas. Look to me for to be constantly cranking them out.
Command: I have a confidence presence about me that allows me to take control of a situation and make decisions.
Woo: People pleaser for life, this one is. I love the challenge of meeting a new person and winning them over. One of life’s small pleasures for me is breaking the ice and making a connection.

I dug back a few years to get a copy of an assessment I took right out of college, called Personaylsis. This one’s a bit more heavy, lots of charts, graphs and colors, oh my…but yet again very much hits the nail on the head. This full blown report consists of about 15 pages, but if you were to break me down into tiny graphs of color on a pyramid, this is how I would look.

Each color represents a behavior set. The bottom graph represents my Instinctive Dimension and looks at my basic go-to behaviors to feel secure and confident. The second graph is my Socialized Dimension and describes how I learned I “should” interact with others. And the third shows my Rational Dimension, or the way I most enjoy interacting if it were completely up to me.

No big shocker here on the colors…Adapt is the big winner with Act & Assess battling it out for second place.

So, what’s my general conclusion from all these tests? Clearly I’ve got a social edge to me, genuine connection with people is something I strive for and need. I’m a never-ending stream of ideas, and with the right audience and idea I can get people motivated to take action. I’m extremely flexible and adapt easily to any situation or project thanks to my quick and strategic thinking. And I enjoy gathering enough information at a lightening fast speed to make the right decisions.

So there you have it, my personality from multiple 3rd party views.

Alas the sickness continues….I’m always on the lookout for a new assessment to objectively quantify myself, so let me know if there are any other good ones out there I’ve missed!! And let me know if you’ve got the same relentless thirst for knowledge of the self and would ever like to discuss Kolbe scores or the like…we’d get along great.

-SJ

Everyone loves a good flashmob.

No, not that kind. The kind where you randomly break out in choreographed dance! One of my besties got married this past weekend and what an epic wedding weekend it was. To top it off, I’ve got some amazing friends who went along with the idea to put together a flashmob for the occasion to the tune of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”

The the original wedding performance is still in production and will be available in the next week or so. In the meantime, please enjoy this encore performance on the rooftop of Reggie’s as the wedding festivities continued on. Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Jordan!

And she’s back.

I know I know, it’s been a while. And I’ve got no one to blame but myself for that one. However, you can think of it as I’ve been off doing research, real-life research and I promise you I won’t be running out of posts for a very long time.

I can’t tell you exactly where this blog might take us, but I know for once in my life I have a rough outline and  it will be good. I do know that I need to get writing as quickly as possible if we’re going to ever get on the road again.

Writing is an outlet for me to express myself and just be myself. Like taking photos (which this can obvi pair nicely with) and telling stories, it’s a medium for me creatively living my life.

And besides, it’s not about the destination anyway. It’s always been about enjoying the journey along the way, having the courage to write your own destiny, and believing in it enough to make it happen.

Vulnerability. Ouch that word stings just saying it. No one likes it, name one person you know who enjoys being vulnerable and does it on the regular “just for fun.”

Yet, that’s what it takes.
You’ve got to be willing to fuck up.
You cannot be concerned with being right all the time. *still working on this one*
You’ve got to be willing to put it all on the line at some point.

A marketing wiz recently told me that you’ve got to get a little naked for your audience every now and then. Sorry, you’re not going to find any nudie pics on this blog, but in the name of giving it all I’ve got to make it happen, then you’ll see me explore myself at a deeper level than ever before.

I’m going to switch a few things up for organizational purposes, make some upgrades, tidy this place up and I think you’ll like what you see.

Stay tuned,

SJ

The Roots Crew

The Roots, hailing from Philly. My favorite group eva and for good reasons that I’ll get to in good time. From the moment I heard “You Got Me” as a sophomore in high school I knew I was hooked on the Roots and hip hop in general for life. I know that sounds redic and like the opening scene straight out of Brown Sugar (which both Questlove and Black Thought are in) but it’s true. For now, just know that I’ve got so much material on The Roots that they now have their own category and if you haven’t already bought/rocked/loved their latest album “How I Got Over” you’re slacking hard.

Don’t Block My Shine

So this blog has been a long time coming. Some of you know exactly how long and if you don’t, let’s just say it’s been a minute. I started a different blog a while back, but due to the nature of some of the posts I still refuse to reveal it to those who know me best. Better left anonymous, however if you’re clever enough to piece together the clues I plan on sprinkling throughout this page, perhaps one day you’ll find it.

Due to a huge transitional time in my life, I’ve decided to pick up the dreams I’ve left along the way and bring them with me. 1. Start a blog that you’ll actually tell people about. Special thanks goes out to a blonde beauty, her comb and love life for getting me off my ass on this one. Bare with me, as I’m a total rookie but obvi envision this page one day running wild with success. You can say you’ve been there since the beginning. I love to write, take photographs, I always have something to say, and the most ridiculous shit inevitably happens to me. Hence, a blog. 2. Take some classes to brush up my photo skills. Since college I’ve been trying to make this happen. Thanks to some recent haters, it soon will. Look forward to still shots that capture a memory better than your mind ever could. More to come on that. 3. Blog regularly and learn as I go. Like I said, novice over here. I hardly know what a widget is much less a trackback, but don’t worry. I’m a scary quick learner and this page will be lookin’ fly in no time. I’ve also decided that Facebook status updates are for the birds (ha! yea right, I love that ish) but instead of spending so much time on the book, better to invest my charm on a blog.

Just a few ground rules. Nicknames will be used to protect the innocent and blast the guilty. Only kidding, you’ve got nothing to worry about. I’ll blog about anything I want, including but not limited to: music, people I know and people I don’t, sports, traveling, cool stuff, pictures I take and stories that happen to me. No one will edit my blog except me; expect real, authentic SJ 100% of the time. And I will always give credit where credit is due. (Title by Michael Tizer.)

So sit back and enjoy. Feel free to leave comments, cuz you know I’ll eat that up as well. Thanks!