Good-bye 2013

7 Jan

There have been many miles on my Oklahoma road, and much to share!  Though it’s been a challenge to find time to blog this year, it has much to do with how the year brought about so many exciting things for me…since my last post.

In April, I accepted a part-time social media management job for a wonderful, small, local Oklahoma business.  Every part of how it happened and what I get to do is a blessing.  It has greatly impacted my outlook — it’s shown me a new view of what I am capable of and what is possible out there in this wonderful www.  It’s given me encouragement and opened a new door.  And it has brought me new friends.  Most likely I won’t be sharing it here with you, but if you happen to be looking for a freelance social media specialist, please feel free to email me.

It took me months to complete a blog post on the tornadoes that descended on Oklahoma City in late May/early June.  The events were so overwhelming it took time to work through exactly what I needed to say.  I haven’t published it yet — it’s waiting in the wings for spring 2014, so stay tuned for my look back at one of my scariest Oklahoma moments as our next storm season approaches.

In June, my newest niece was born, followed by my cousin’s wedding only days later.  Attending the celebration was a special family time, and a much-needed micro-vacation.  The highlights included a beautiful party at the Arboreum, staying at the historic Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas, spending time with family friends and my gorgeous cousin-in-law from New York, a visit from Batman, and being spoiled beyond anything I deserve.  I even put peacock feathers in my hair — and I’m not exactly a peacock feather kind of girl.

July brought more adventures.  With the 4th approaching, my “good neighbors” PSA tweet campaign began (“thou shalt not burn peoples houses down,” etc.).  The “little event” I was a part of last year finally aired on tv.  Elizabeth Michelle and I attended the 37th Annual Stratford Peach Festival together…which was a peach!   Their city park was packed with people and plenty of fun things to do before the afternoon heat hit.   I loved how pet-friendly the festival was, and my biggest complaint was that there were not enough peaches!  I’m certain we “glistened” off every single calorie and carb we took in that day.  Next, I began pulling everything in my house out and putting it all back in (well, almost) in an effort to catch up on spring cleaning I didn’t do.  I had my first Big Truck Taco — yum!  More rain, more low temps.  Oklahoma City is the new Seattle.  Then came a message from my Act One classmate Liz that she would be coming for a visit!  Hooray!!!

Liz only had fewer than 24 hours to spend on her first visit to OKC.  So the planning began…what do you take someone to see when they only have 24 hours…when they come from LA where they have everything that’s bright and new and shiny under the sun?  You focus on what OKC has that LA doesn’t, of course.  The challenge also increased for me because the city has changed SO MUCH in the last few years I barely know anything about all of the new places to eat and shop and play.  Time to do my homework, and get out my Oklahoma bucket list again.  Fortunately, my new freelance job gave me an advantage because I’ve been scouring the local social media world to make new connections and network for them.

liz visits cattlemen's

She arrived in the early evening of July 31, and the adventure began.  We ate dinner in the smoking room at Cattlemen’s and briefly cruised Stockyards City where I finally learned the location of the actual stockyards and the Rodeo Opry.  Then we drove to Lake Hefner to watch the sunset on the lake, and finished up the night with a trip to Braums’ for a yummy treat.

August 1 we started our day with breakfast at Waffle House (not necessarily an Oklahoma original, but one of Liz’ favorites).  A cruise down Lincoln Boulevard and a self-tour of the State Capitol was next.  Then we went for a short drive: 23rd Street (through part of Uptown and Paseo) to Shartel (the prettiest street in the city), south on Shartel through Mesta Park to Classen Drive into Midtown, NW 10th Street to Robinson down Church Row to the Oklahoma City National Memorial.  We parked at the Memorial and walked it on foot.  My favorite way to see it is from east to west and back again: enter and read the plaque on the southeast side walking past the chairs beside the reflecting pool; exit and cross over to St. Joseph’s Old Cathedral to visit the statue of Jesus with His back turned to the site; reenter and take the north side of the reflecting pool going through the children’s memorial and onward east up to the Survivor Tree; then exit again at the east side and cross over to finish your visit at the Heartland Chapel to spend some time in prayer.  I always need it when I’m done at the Memorial.  After the Memorial we left the car and walked down Robinson where I was amazed at the transformation of the city.  Having worked downtown not all that long ago, I was amazed to find that empty buildings and streets are no longer empty.  The old library building is under construction for something new.  Kitchen 324 fills up part of a building that stood empty for decades .  Café 7 is where the old downtown office supply store used to be.  We slid inside the First National Center because it’s just gorgeous.  The building is modeled after the Empire State Building, and when you enter, if you go up the wide staircase in front of you, you will see the original bank lobby, unused and turn of the century pristine.  We walked back out of the First National Center and east on Park Avenue to B.C. Clark Jewelers for my Oklahoma bucket list “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” moment.  What a treat!  Then into the Skirvin for a quick peek at the inside of the most beautiful building in OKC and back across the street to walk the hall full of shops through the First National Center back to Robinson again.  Next it was south to the Colcord for a little more OKC historical glory, through Flint, and into the Myriad Gardens for a stroll.  (I forgot to take the elevator up to Vast in the new Devon building! Rats!)  It was getting hot and late, so we cut our Myriad stroll short and went to Bricktown to the Starbucks for Liz to collect her Oklahoma state mug — which even though Starbucks makes state mugs, apparently they just don’t make one for Oklahoma — past the Bricktown Ballpark for a Mickey Mantle moment and into The Mantel for a quick and incredibly delicious bite of lunch (I highly recommend their chicken salad sandwich and fries — nothing delicate about either one — just the way I like them!).  Then we hopped the Downtown Discovery bus back up to the Memorial to pick up the car and finished our OKC in 24 hours tour with a quick cuppie at Cuppies & Joe before she had to leave for the airport.  I tried so hard to tempt her to stay just one more night so she could go see “Forrest Gump” with me at the Myriad Gardens, but she’s a good girl and opted to go back home to go to work the next day.  So close.  But the good news is she did promise to come back.

I told Liz I’m a nerd because I love showing people my town.  It’s not that I have a prideful fixation about things that other people have worked hard to create…for me it’s so fulfilling to make people feel welcome, to show them what’s good in the world, and quite selfishly it gives me the opportunity to share it all with them.  I’m not from Oklahoma originally, which used to be a bad thing, but now I see the advantage in it because I know what it feels like to be an outsider, and what it feels like to be shown hospitality.  So if any of you are planning a visit to my town, drop me a note, and I’ll be glad to show you around if I can.  Or maybe I’ll do a blog post with a walking tour of OKC just for you.  There’s a lot more to do here than just downtown, though!

August brought my first Sunday night concert in the park at the Myriad Gardens with friends.  I first heard Edgar Cruz in high school — he was amazing to watch up close.  Then years later, on a rare dinner out on the town with my mom, as we were finishing up a fabulous meal at Cantina Laredo I heard this strange sound spring to life behind me…VERY close behind me.  I turned, and I was nose to nose with Mr. Cruz.  He just smiled like we were best pals and started to sing.  So much talent!

Way too soon it was time for another birthday.  Birthdays are a blessing — every year, every day we have. I went to spend the weekend with my mom (moms are who birthdays are really all about, right?).  She made me my first ever “cookie cake,” rubberbanded to perfection, before a sky-high dinner at Vast (their chicken is fantastic).  My boss left me flowers, my co-workers were so generous to help make my day special with all kinds of treats, and my mom surprised me and all my co-workers with Mexican Brownies from Cantina Laredo.  How blessed I am to have so many wonderful friends who would go out of their way to send thoughtful greetings to make any of my days special.  I don’t need a single gift or carb to know the truth — my cup runneth over.  This is my last year before I have to change my tag line in my bio, so I’m gonna have to make it a good one.

September is State Fair month, and this time I went solo for the first time.  On a sunny afternoon I attacked the Fair with a plan — in advance, I scouted out the exhibits, events, and most importantly, the food I was interested in, then I drove up, conquered every item, and was home by supper.  Not that I needed supper at that point.  A few days later, I also got to meet the lovely Jolene on her Oklahoma pilgrimage.

brunch with liz, jolene & erin

After the fall cooled down a little I made a trip across the Red River to my home state for a lovely, relaxing visit at the lake with my family.  My uncle took me shooting, and after you see the picture of my target, I hope you’ll make every effort to be very, very nice to me. 🙂

The holidays with my family were wonderfully blessed this year.  So many nieces and nephews to hug on and chase around the house, so little time.  This Christmas there was snow, and the best gift of all was being able to share the season with just about all of my family members.  God was very good to shorten the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas by one week, which meant one week less of busyness and stress.  Hallelujah for the little things that bring peace and joy.

It’s already 2014 as I write this post, and it’s already looking like a great year is ahead.  Praying for fewer tornadoes…and more excellent adventures.

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