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New Beginnings and Prosperity with the Year of the Rat

Updated: May 16, 2020

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! It's now the year of the Rat! (For those of you that know Fruits Basket, it's Yuki's year--much love to you, Yuki! Yuki and Kyo are pretty much tied for my favorite character in Fruits Basket, but I believe that Kyo slightly comes out ahead--sorry, Yuki. All the characters in Fruits Basket are amazing, though. My friends and I are such Tohru's, though.) The year of the Rat symbolizes new beginnings, prosperity, fertility, etc. This year has many good things in store for us; I look forward to discovering all the blessings that await us!

Corliss and I are back from Chicago! We had lots of fun! Everything happens for a reason; we were able to leave early for Chicago due to the "snow day." The original plan was to leave after I finished after care, but I didn't have to go into work at all due to the inclement weather--there was supposed to be real bad sleet and ice. We were able to leave before that weather hit. The drive to Chicago was fairly uneventful, but it did start snowing as we reached the city, resulting in traffic. The snow was pretty light and dusty, but it did make it more difficult to see and stay in the lanes (the roads became covered quickly, and it turned a bit slushy). We ended up following the same car for quite some time; Corliss had called the Airbnb host at the point when we noticed the license plate--it turned out that we had both noticed what it said at the same point and had desperately wanted to tell the other. When she got off the phone, we both erupted in laughter because "LEGS 6" was very amusing--Corliss admitted that she had almost called the host "Legs" because the license plate had been weighing on her mind so much. It's an unusual license plate and thinking back to it still brings out a chuckle from us.

My coworkers kept asking me why we picked Chicago--there wasn't a specific reason other than Corliss and I decided that we would travel this year. We've been wanting to travel, but we kept telling ourselves all these stories--there's not enough time, it's costly, where would we go, conflicting schedules, etc. etc. 2020 is a new year, and we recognized that these stories do not serve us. We gain no benefit from repeating these stories constantly in our minds. The universe is full of abundance, and such stories block us from receiving all the abundance it has to offer. We decided that 2020 is a new start (a year of perfect vision) and that we would do things differently. For this reason, we decided we would travel before the end of January. We refused to keep traveling more a goal--we would take action and make it reality. We decided to try something new and try Airbnb for the first time (upon talking with my coworkers after the trip, I learned that our experience was not typical in the least--it was very strange with the host failing to communicate various things, such as that they were having an open house while we were staying in their place and moving our things without telling us). This trip has provided a lot of insight. We definitely want to go back to Chicago (but probably not to the Airbnb we stayed at). There were lots of neat places and art out in Chicago. The Airbnb condo we stayed at was surrounded by art, actually (that was one thing we enjoyed about it); there were all sorts of murals and mosaics. There was also an incredible, huge, golden statue in a nearby park. It was nice seeing all these artworks daily while in Chicago.

There was so much delicious food. We decided to try a bunch of local places while we were there. Stan's Donuts was scrumptious; it's too bad that it's about 5 hours away (I'd gladly eat there at least once a month). I tried the cinnamon sugar doughnut and vanilla sprinkle doughnut. Corliss adored their coffee. We also tried Noodles Etc. I've had ramen and all before (but it's the kind you add water to, not the authentic, freshly made kind), but these noodles were phenomenal. I have never had rice noodles before, but I would gladly switch over to them--I love these noodles. If I remember correctly, I ordered what was called "Chicken Noodle", but it definitely was not chicken noodle soup (and I am quite glad about that--I'm not big on soups, and this was so much better than chicken noodle soup). I don't have much practice with chopsticks, but I did a decent job using them. The mochi ice cream was the best! Corliss had hoped there would be a Noodles Etc. closer to us back home, but it's Chicago area restaurant. We will definitely be going back there any time we are in the Chicago area. We also tried Lou Malnati's Pizzaria to try some deep dish pizza. It was delicious (but it was too bad that we forgot to ask for the special butter crust; apparently it is quite famous for it). None of the food we tried was lacking; it was great trying all these new places!

Even though it was a bit cold, we made sure to explore the city. We went to Millennium Park to see Cloud Gate (aka what was dubbed "The Bean"). We thought about doing some ice skating nearby to Millennium Park, but we settled on getting some hot chocolate from their outdoor cafe instead; we plan to do some ice skating next time. We also found The Garfield Park Conservatory, which was fairly similar to the Botanical Gardens. What was nice about this garden/conservatory, however, was that it was completely indoors--plus, it was HUGE. It just seemed to keep going and going and going. There were so many different plants and habitat rooms. I loved seeing the ponds with the koi fish--the Japanese garden at the Botanical Gardens happens to be my favorite, and my friends and I love viewing and feeding all the koi in its lake. It was so nice to be surrounded by nature (and green, vibrant nature at that) in the middle of cold winter; it was so soul-soothing. I'm so grateful Corliss came across The Garfield Park Conservatory. I had never heard of it before; all my coworkers seemed confused when I mentioned it to them, as they have never heard of it before, either. I definitely recommend checking it out (and, for the record, it's completely free to go to; no admission fees but donations are more than welcome there). Visiting all these places felt very fulfilling and allowed us to be present in the moment.

We were in Chicago for what felt like a long yet short amount of time. We still had other places we wished to visit, things to do, food to try, etc., but we had experienced enough that it felt like a very fulfilling trip. Traveling to Chicago was a great way to start the new year! We can't wait to travel more and see new places together! California and Japan are future trips on our radar. Frankly, Japan has been on our radar for quite some time, but it didn't feel possible before. Now, we refuse to listen to those beliefs and intend to go to Japan to partake in the Star Festival, among many other things. We intend to mine our own crystals at some point, which we know we can do in California (the plan right now is to go to California over spring break, but we are flexible and willing to go with the flow). Anything is very much possible, and we can't wait to see all the incredible things in store for us this year!

Upon returning back home, I caught up on some kitty love and snuggles with my cute, fluffy cat. I opened some card packs that Corliss got for me; funnily enough, I got the Slowpoke & Psyduck tag team (it just makes me think back to a few summers ago when Corliss and I were at the park. A guy came up to us and asked if there were any good Pokemon around on Pokemon Go; Corliss exclaimed, "There's a Psyduck!!" Aaah, good times; I love my friend). I feel like this card is a sign (perhaps touching upon the awakening psychic abilities that will be and are occurring this year), especially considering the special attack is called Thrilling Times; thrilling times await us, my friends. All we need to do is be open to it, allow it in, try new things, and recognize the innate power we already possess. As I got back into typical work routines and everyday life, I created more birthday artwork for my little Toucans (one friend's birthday is today and the twins' birthday is this upcoming Tuesday). I'm grateful I can create personalized artwork for all my little Toucans; I strive to be generous and give back to my community, and I'm so glad that I have acquired artistic skills to create and give freely to those in my life. It feels so fulfilling to give and be generous; I know that I will have growing opportunities to give and help others with my skills, abilities, resources, knowledge, and talents. This year is going to be phenomenal! Stay blessed~

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