Stars, Laughter & Friendship

We go through many different phases in life that involve places, people, and things. Turning 40 for me (a couple years ago) was like walking through the gateway of a world full of new colors, smells and experiences. It was a reality check to life and an “A-ha!” moment for myself. A major health scare, loss of parent, becoming an empty-nester all contributed to the “A-ha” too. I had some major points of interest fluttering through my brain on a constant loop.

What do I want to be when I grow up?

Who do I call friends?

Where do I want to live? 

What brings me joy & happiness?

I think there is a solid reason that people joke about a mid-life crisis but I consider it an AWAKENING not a crisis. Medicine and technology have provided the opportunity to live a lot longer than our dead relatives. If I was born in 1900 I would pretty much be at the tail end of my life span and pushing up daisies in a couple years. Seriously people, not kidding ya there! Now, with a healthy-ish body and mind I can literally say this may be the half way point for me. THAT is a lot of living still to be done so we should take the time and really think about what it is that makes us happy-therefore…all the fluttering going on in my brain.

What do I want to be when I grow up?
This is a serious question and my answer right now does not fall on career but more on life quality. As far as career I honestly don’t give a rats-ass as long as I am HAPPY. This would involve being able to financially support myself, have some sort of savings and pension plan, travel, spend time with family & friends and enjoy myself. Sounds good right!

Who do I call friends?
Hmm…well, this changes. During my Awakening I realized there are 2 kinds of friends that we all have.

1. Forever Friend- that true friend that sees you through thick & thin, good & bad, near or far, BUT you can talk and it is as if time has not gone by and you pick up right where you left off. The friend that never judges you, tells you what they honestly think, and can blackmail you into another decade with all your secrets they share.

2. Bookmark Friend-this is that friend that comes into your life for a brief moment or situation. You can be thick as thieves and do everything together, share every moment together and for one reason or another as time continues you grow apart or just lose the commonalities that brought you together in the first place. This type of friendship is wonderful and serves a purpose so do not shy away from a bookmark friend.

As I dance through my life, the best part of having friends are those sneak attack friendships. I have been fortunate enough to have many. They are the ones where a person comes back around from former days and goes from an acquaintance or familiar face to someone that really “gets you”! Those people, are the friends that you simply cannot avoid or should NOT avoid. For one reason or another you just were not on the same path to connect earlier, but fate has other things in store for you and so as time continues your paths cross. You find yourself shaking your head and thinking of all the years that they should have been in your life. Again…there was a reason they weren’t, but you get the idea. I have had many friends come into my life that just fit and are part of my life puzzle. I simply cannot imagine my life moving forward without them in it either. Some are near, some are far, but they made an impact and they are sticking. With the help of living longer I am really looking forward to another 40 years or so full of chaos and adventure with these people. The last thing I want to say about my personal AWAKENING is that as far as friends go and the people you surround yourself with>Dump the garbage! Get rid of anyone in your life that is an energy suck. REMEMBER…misery loves company- so do not invite it in. The pressure and weight of removing unnecessary garbage from your life is so amazing. You will really feel the difference. Friends should make you better. Force you to be your best self. If this does not happen then they are an energy suck. Plain and simple and so all ya gotta do is TAKE THE TRASH OUT. Trust me.

Where do I want to live?
People that know me, get me, they know. Near the water. It is going to happen people. I just have to find the right timing and the right water. I think I have it figured out. Just waiting for the pieces to line up a little better. More on this later…

What brings me joy & happiness?
Stars, Laughter & Friendship. I just returned home from a quick trip to visit friends, play in the sun & sand, and recharge my mental wellness. These people are in the THEY GET ME category and we had a lot of fun. Our livers and scales this week probably would have screamed that we all had too much fun (never!). Little doses of BIG fun are mandatory for a healthy heart and mind -so we did live it up and I do not regret a moment except for some slurred speech and use of incorrect vocabulary. Those moments however, only encouraged ridiculous laughter and spilling of drinks which added to the chaos and were appreciated by all. Life is what you make of it. Surround yourself with joy and laughter and in the end you should be able to look back and not have any regrets. If you have regrets –you are not living right.

Go back through the tutorial above >toss the trash and live your best life.


Birthdays, Bon Jovi and Pajamas

This past weekend I helped my mom clean up and organize an 83rd birthday party for my step-dad who suffers from Alzheimer’s and lives in assisted living. Dealing with a spouse that is older and does not always remember quite who you are is a horrible and unforgiving daily loss so my mother wanted to do something nice for him. We had a lovely pizza luncheon for him with family & friends and then cake & coffee at home. It was nice. I spent the week/weekend cleaning the house and shopping for it so I am pooped and feel like I had no weekend off to relax but whatev. You do what you do for family right! He had a nice party/day and looked happy. He probably won’t remember it today, but we know he enjoyed himself and was not forgotten.

So, I have a good friend that is the head engineer at United Center in Chicago. Super nice guy I met through my brother-in-law and have known him for over 25 years. He sometimes has extra tickets (not often) and I try to swoop in and get them. I saw my friend posted on FB he had 2 free tickets to see Bon Jovi for that nights show and it opens in 1.5 hours and the clock is ticking.

Birthday festivities were finally over, I had already washed my makeup off my face, put on my lounge wear/pjs (obviously took off the bra) and was finally relaxing with the dog in front of the television. Then I see the 2 free tickets. Fuck YES! – I am going to Bon Jovi suckas! Next thought WHO DO I GET TO TAKE WITH ME??? Texted a couple friends that could enjoy it, potentially be ready to leave in about ten minutes, and waited. I head upstairs and say “Mom, I just scored 2 free tickets to see Bon Jovi so…see ya later!” Her first question, “SO…who are you taking”??? It was like looking at a sad little girl who broke her red crayon. “Um mom, would you like to go? But if you do, shake a leg cause this ride is leaving in five minutes”. I think her slow, seriously debated answer was, “I would enjoy seeing my boyfriend and it is my birthday this week”.

5 MINUTES AND COUNTING…Mom was going, (Sorry JZ) and so back on the bra came and off we went with 1 hour until show time-me still in said pjs- no makeup. Nothing cooler (or sillier) than watching my mother sing and dance (arms in the air/ 2-stepping) along to Jon Bon Jovi last night. For a lady that is 71 years “young” on Wednesday ->this lady rocks! We get to the United Center in Chicago and get the tickets from my friend, then of course head to buy a drink. It IS a concert ya know, so an alcohol beverage is mandatory. At least one. Who buys a HENNESSY COGNAC at a concert? MY MOTHER. Yes, she does. Then proceeds to tell the bar man that it is her 71st birthday, she is here to sing with her boyfriend (JBJ), and to make that a heavy pour and my friends all wonder where I get it from. My mom is a pretty cool lady when she gets out of her head and leaves the worries behind.


DIY Addiction but who cares!

Hi, my name is Tanja, and I have a do-it-yourself addiction problem.

I honestly believe that this addiction has been a genetic character trait-I think my dad liked to dabble in being creative when he could. I mean he was a genius with duct tape! Since I was little I remember making things, creating an art space, tinkering with dads tools, and always having some sort of project going.

Fast forward to the present and I can honestly say I can most likely build a house, make my own light fixtures, sew anything you need, fix my own car or appliances with the help of Youtube videos, and do nearly anything I put my mind to –(except the heavy lifting. That’s when my stand-in husbands come in: The Jeffs, Bob and Pete- but more on them in a later blog! They rock though and I can ALWAYS count on them-all single ladies need stand-in husbands-TRUST ME)

Furniture DIY Renew and Reuse-you betcha!!! I love finding a very unusual piece of furniture and painting it for a new and refreshed look. I mean sure, you can love a bookshelf with scratches and a honey stain but take said bookshelf, paint it a bright color, add a second color to the back and some cute baskets and BAM…totally new look (this is my current project!) Plus, why pay for a new piece only to scratch it up when you can take a perfectly good piece of old crap and make it awesome. PSA: I accept all pieces of unwanted furniture for projects if you have something to give away.

I am a woman and I love pampering (if I didn’t- I would be a man). What is better than pampering yourself??? Help those you love and need pampering too. I have hosted many wellness days and my BFFs come over, eat, drink, relax and go home with goody bags. I mean seriously! Who doesn’t love a little DIY gift bag full of love made by Tanja? I can make the best aromatherapy bean bags, bath salts and sugar scrubs!

Girls Don’t Poop shown by the gorgeous gal-pal Jenn

I have had MANY successful DIY projects and some that “cannot be named” but nearly 99.8% are total WINS and cost effective. The latest DIY creative project was making a poop stink spray. I mean …Girls Don’t Poop! Geez. I made a dozen bottles of beautiful lemon spray to hide the nasty stink from going potty and gave them to my BFF girls. I love creating and giving silly gifts to my besties and even better…it’s a “just because” gift which brings me joy and happiness to create.

There are so many more projects waiting for me. Now who wants to go to the flea market? I saw this fabulous  idea of making a lamp out of…

Book Club=Wine Club…let’s be honest!


A couple years ago I was sitting around with my good friend Shana-banana (drinking wine of course) and we were discussing our love for books. We both had thought about creating a small book club of people that also enjoyed reading. So together, during our wine discussion, we put our heads together and made one group-mixed up of both our friends- for book club. Now, I don’t know if it was the wine enhanced delirium or what but our group became the most eclectic and varied group of women. We have seen a few people come and go within our group just due to motherhood, moves, work, etc. but we still have the occasional “I can Skype in” which makes us all giggle a little (that does not tend to work out well.) We are usually eight to ten people strong and this group of women have become some of my favorite people in the world. We all have very diverse backgrounds as well as favorite genres for our reading pleasures but THIS is exactly why I love this book/wine club and why it works! Together with Shana-banana we brought together women that would probably not know one another but have grown from our differences and created some strong friendships. These ladies ROCK!

We meet monthly, have a standing date and everyone brings a dish to share and a bottle to drink. We always discuss the book we were to have read (if that happened) and rule is -watch out for spoilers- because we are going to discuss EVERYTHING whether you got your shit read or not! We have Skyped with authors, which was super cool! Maria was awesome-read Mr. Wicker-I promise you will not be disappointed.

Usually it becomes a night just for friends to come together, share what is happening-good or bad- and drink, eat, and most definitely LAUGH. I think humor is the glue that keeps us together. We crave our time together, we create themes, special food to share, special drinks, and we mix up the types of books we pick to read. It has become an evening, that most of us look forward to and most miss when we have to detour around life’s complications. Our time together once a month is our time to sit, relax, find support if needed, bounce ideas off each other and just be in fabulous company. I love these women. They are my rock, my outlet for strength, and my people. I cannot wait to see them Thursday! I am making special little token surprises for them. Homemade Poo~Pourri, “the classy, sassy, ultra-effective way to leave the bathroom smelling better than you found it”-because Girls Don’t Poop! This is the kind of sh*t we share with each other. Don’t you wish you were in my book/wine club?

Exercise -they say, Feel better- they say


Exercise is something that I truly avoid, always have. I know there are two kinds of people in my life: Crazy people who exercise and those who like to eat and drink. I fall into the latter category and I am A-OK with that. My entire life, I have always hated to exercise. When I was little and we had the mile run day in elementary school-I would play sick and stay home. Then some asshole PE teacher made a new rule that you had to “make it up”. WHAT? I was sick, I earned a pass! As I got older again, exercise and sports were just not my thing. I didn’t want to exert myself, get all sweaty and then go back to class looking like shit. No thanks. I have no problem with my friends that love to exercise all the time. Whatever..good for you! There are three things/sports I enjoy: Swimming, walking and Yoga. Sadly, I guess these are all singular activities but they are dual purpose for me. Not only am I doing something good for my body but I tend to use this time to think, decide and file. Hmm…what? Right. So I am not just doing these activities but multi-tasking about all the things that I need to do, finish and sort before I say done and then file away. I get a lot of shit done during this time. Anyway, the weather is finally getting nice-global warming has Chicago at 66 degrees in mid-February. Fanfuckingtastic I say BRING IT ON! I decided to let my 120 lb dog Winston take me for a long walk. We hit the trails of the forest preserve and walked over 2 miles and it was wonderful. We discussed so much during our walk and I got to think and file too! So, super! Walked, got some exercise in, went home, drank a beer and by evening I could not walk. I literally crawled to the bathroom and iced my feet the rest of the night. Planters Fasciitis and heel spurs… THAT is what exercise does to me. Not only do I now have the expense of hundred dollar orthopedic sneakers but I have horrible pain in both feet. So, F U exercise. I tried it and now I suffer. Lesson: Have necessary tools and equipment to avoid injury during exercise.