Being Open to New Experiences

Boy, did I break out of my comfort zone this weekend!  As a single person who at this point really believes he will stay that way forever (no pity, please – I’m actually quite content being a doting uncle and awesome friend), I figured correctly that it was high time to get used to doing things (i.e. social events) by myself.  I want to eat at amazing restaurants and take even more amazing trips throughout my life, and as a reality, I will have to do some of that solo.

Case in point – I was recently invited to a Friday night Cabaret event at the Dodge City Country Club (where, despite having been a few times, I am not a member).  I had tentative plans to go out of town for a Battle of the Bands my brother was playing in, but things on the planning front weren’t going as I would have liked, so I decided not to attend and take a risk.

As pathetic as it sounds, I was pretty anxious about going to the Cabaret…  I knew I would enjoy the music and visiting with those friends I knew would be there, but I was anxious and nervous to go to a somewhat-unfamiliar place and be thrown into a social scene I was not used to… by myself!  I wasn’t sure how the seating would work, or how anything would go, and not knowing everything about what I’m about to do sort of freaks me out because I’m anal-retentive that way (OK, in many other ways, too!).

To be honest, the first few minutes sitting with the young-but-still-slightly-older-than-me couple at my table was a bit awkward, probably thanks to my old-soul nature of feeling more comfortable and at ease with people who are not my age (this goes both directions!).  However, a few minutes later, another couple joined “the fray” and they were easygoing, friendly and great table-mates who – probably with no knowledge of the fact – made the whole process much easier.  We chatted for a little bit, I gave my now-staple answer about attending university, and we found a link – I had attended high school with their son, which provided for a good icebreaker.

And then, the three musicians and the three singers (two of whom I know and are awesome friends!) took their places facing the patio, the gorgeous, lush, green course behind them setting a beautiful backdrop and a wonderful ambiance for the evening.  Drinks and hors d’oeuvres in hand, the audience of around 120 became captivated by the beautiful voices and the sumptuous music, turning their seats to better hear old tunes and new ones.  It was truly a night to remember, and the weather was gorgeous – it was cool out with a light breeze, a genuine rarity for Kansas evenings in July.  It actually got downright chilly!

At intermission, I spoke with the father of my high school acquaintance and, taking a genuine interest in my desire to seek further education online, he told me about a great site where he listens to lectures from college professors who are at the top of their game in their fields (, if you are interested).  We spoke about the site and learning in general for a majority of the intermission, and this was just fun!  I started to loosen up and realize that I had freaked out for no real, logical reason (which, btw, is not always necessary – freaking out for no good reason is good sometimes!  Isn’t it!???).

I also got to visit with my fellow blogger and friend, Judy Smith from  Judy is just fabulous and a great conversationalist and I really enjoyed catching up with her, as well as a family I am very close to but was unable to talk much with earlier in the evening.  When all was said and done, I really enjoyed myself.  I am super-proud that I did not let my (gasp!) fear get in the way of a great, new experience that taught me that yes, I can have a great time by myself, and that it’s okay to try new things – even something that scared me.

I had – in some sort of peer-pressurized situation – committed late in the workday Friday to walking for the company I work for in the annual Dodge City Days Western Parade, an event that kicks off a week-long celebration filled with special events (because there are like none the rest of the year, so it’s kind of a big deal).  I think I have only been in the parade twice before – once for United Wireless and the other time when I was a volunteer at our local public library.  Coming off the high of the One Night Only Cabaret event, I was like, well, my weekend can only go down from here!  Again, without a lot of details (only semi-freak-out time needed after my “victory” the previous evening), I met a coworker friend at the start of the parade and we got a game plan going.  As a team, our “parade people” handed out 4,100 bottles of water bottles and almost 10,000 popsicles from two trailers, preceded by our massive Roadshow RV.

You can just barely see me on the back row, third from left in the green cap.  I'm fortunate to work with a fun group of people, and their family members also helped out.

You can just barely see me on the back row, third from left in the green cap. I’m fortunate to work with a fun group of people, and their family members also helped out. (Photo Courtesy United Wireless)

I actually had a great time working the parade and walked the entire 3-4 mile route! I was so sore the rest of the day and part of Sunday, too, but it went by so much quicker than the 2 hours it eventually took us to make our way literally across town.  It was fun to see coworkers in a different habitat outside their normal day-to-day activities, and it was a great opportunity to see that a majority of kids (and adults!) still knew how to say “please” and “thank you.”  Sometimes, the small victories are the big ones!

To wrap up (if you’re still reading, that is), I think I have a new Dodge City Days tradition of working in the parade, and I hope the Cabaret becomes a tradition, too.  Life is too short not to take advantage of things you know you’d enjoy, all because you have made the decision and choice to put negative expectations on those experiences.

So, I reach out to my WordPress friends…  Have you ever had an experience(s) you were anxious for, but it really turned out okay?  Please share your experiences!

Comfort Food (and other ramblings)

As I write this post tonight, it is a stormy mess outside in Western Kansas.  Thinking about it, this sort of represents my day.  I work in what I consider a fairly high-stress environment, and sometimes the stress almost gets to be too much, and the littlest things can put a person in a (to put it delicately) “sour” mood.  This morning, that person was me.  However, always trying to be the professional and never show my irritations and frustrations (at least to those who are causing those feelings!), I worked on a customer’s laptop through the morning…  And then, an epiphany!  It was time for lunch.

Lunch…  An epiphany??  You betcha!  (Those who know me well will know this is not outside the realm of everyday reality.)  My coworker/best friend and I often go to lunch together, but since she was leaving early from work today, we decided to pick up some Mexican food from Tacos El Torito, a taco wagon/food truck not far from our office.

Once we picked up our lunches, we headed back to our desks for a quick lunch.  One of my other, more colorful and bardish (is that a word?  It is now.) coworkers starting going on and on about what I had ordered, how much he liked that particular item, and his eagerness to hear how it was.  I ordered a gringa, which is basically a quesadilla of sorts – a grilled tortilla with pork, cheese and onions.  I put some delicious, mild salsa verde (green salsa) over the top and my, oh my, I was in foodie heaven.  The ooey-gooey cheese, the partially-hardened tortilla and the tender pork made for a truly delicious feast, which totally turned my morning around.  Honestly!  It was so moving to the bard coworker that he decided to get a gringa for himself, and I begged him to bring me back a horchata (rice water spiced with cinnamon and other yummies).  As if that wasn’t enough, my “neighbor” Russ’s wife baked a Coca-Cola Cake with homemade chocolate icing, showing that sometimes there’s nothing better than a classic, moist sheet cake.  I wish I had taken pictures of my meal today, but it was so tantalizing I didn’t hesitate before digging in!

It could be a sign of a problem that I get so excited and that my mood changes so drastically with the right foods.  Regardless, after thinking about it this evening after work, I realized that, as a citizen of an actually fairly urban and diverse city, “comfort food” has assumed a new dynamic in our city of ~30,000.  With the various industries and jobs we have here, we (well, some of us, anyway) have welcomed a variety of people from different cultures and backgrounds.  Thanks to them, we have some of the best Asian and Mexican food I’ve ever tasted.  Dodge City doesn’t have a decent steakhouse or BBQ joint (sorry to those of you who think we do), but we have amazing taco wagons and hole-in-the-wall, wow-that-was-unexpected restaurants.

Now, I should interject here – I often complain about the dining options in this town.  It seems that even when we do get a promising new restaurant in town, they are rarely consistent and end up leaving shortly thereafter.  We don’t have much in the way of large chain restaurants; seemingly, we can only attract fat food restaurants (no typo there).  However, when I realize how truly blessed we are to enjoy the new “American foods” – Thai, Mexican, Vietnamese and other ethnic offerings – I see some hope, a light at the end of a sometimes very desolate tunnel.

Back on track…  Comfort food…  It means many things to different people.  I used to think my comfort food was mac and cheese, the staple childhood favorite for millions of children in this country (although my “epiphany” came in my teenage years).  And, when done right (read: with bacon), it can put you at that place.  But with so many ethnic foods done right in this little town, it’s hard to ignore that those cravings are indeed answers, answers to emotions and feelings, and answers that satisfy memories and moments of reminiscence.  We often associate food and drink with highlights and downturns, celebrations and friendships, and with coming back from the edge of illness of both the physical and mental varieties.  It’s no surprise that with these strong connections comes sometimes-scary risks, but that’s another post for another time that I’ll likely never write.

But, today, I have a question for you as my rambling starts to get boring even to me…  What is your true comfort food?  Please share in the comment section below!

Heading Over to WordPress

After a few years of false starts on Google’s Blogger service, I am moving (actually, returning) to WordPress. I am looking forward to the increased customization options and my own increased commitment to blogging. I’m still getting used to this new layout and structure, so please forgive any design flaws until I’ve settled in. I look forward to this adventure with all of you!


Review: The Client

The Client
The Client by John Grisham

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I feel *horrible* for giving Grisham just one star, but Goodreads says to do it if you didn’t like it! I simply could not get into this book and could only get about halfway through before I realized, after speaking with several other reading friends, that life is too short and that there are too many – much BETTER – books to spend my limited time on this earth with, many written by Grisham himself. This is the first Grisham book I have not enjoyed. The writing wasn’t terrible or anything of that nature, but I found the whole story a bit ridiculous.

View all my reviews