While I loved previous visits to Shedd Aquarium and boat tours along the lakeside, I had more inexpensive activities in mind....namely: I would explore the city at random.
1. I learned my way around!
Here's the fantastic thing: When you get lost enough times, you eventually map out your surroundings. Even better, you get to see so many different places then you would if you just followed Google Maps like every other tourist. I can't say I didn't sheepishly peer at street signs, but I can say that I gained confidence as a navigator and adventurer. Long live spontaneous exploration!
2. I found an awesome tea store and book store
|I saw this in a gift store.|
It is 100% accurate to my life.
As if that wasn't good enough, I then made my way down to a bookstore. I'd had enough stimulation for one day and couldn't think of anywhere I'd rather spend my time than a used bookstore called After-Words, with a basement boasting 70,000 books. The shop owner was just as quirky as I'd hoped and the books just as eclectic. I was overwhelmed at my option, but prudently made a selection and handed over my $4 with elation. "This place is awesome," I raved to the shop owner. He made some corny joke about Butler and I made some awkward smile and walked out.
3. The Latino Film Festival was amazing!
I was wary of a few of the films that we were scheduled to see. One in particular seemed a bit more "adult" than I cared for. Sure enough, I spent most of the movie carefully inspecting the hem of my shorts. But the second movie more than made up for the first. "Espejuelos Oscuros/Dark Glasses" was a thought provoking and disturbing portrayal of the secret stories we all carry.
4. I stepped out of my comfort zone
Besides literally stepping out of my comfort zone by meandering around the city, I also faced the challenge of traveling without any real friend/family member. That brought the added testing of sitting on the bus and eating meals out at restaurants with these people-- both of which are a strong source of anxiety due as I recovery from an eating disorder. While the weekend was not without its blunders, I was encouraged at my ability to handle the situations. I know I would not have been able to do so at this time last year, and for that I praise God. As my dad gingerly reminded me, these challenges are good because they help me embrace my freedom and break out of my little "safe box" of recovery. And as difficult as aspects of the trip were, I know that the next time I come across those same struggles, it will be just a little bit easier. That makes the effort absolutely worth it.
|The greenhouse at Nay Pier|
|Dylan's Candy Shop on Michigan Avenue. |
It's a wonderland of candy and treats!
|Tapas at Café Iberico! A challenging, new|
experience for me!
|Adagio Tea. Basically Heaven.|
Much like my blog, my weekend in Chicago was a series of spontaneous adventures, augmented by familiar comforts and the constant presence of the Lord's grace. And I wouldn't have it any other way. So then next time you're in Chicago, run along the lakeside and take in the views at Navy Pier (RELATED: Girls' Weekend in Chicago). Stop by Adagio Tea and The Chicago Tribune and Café Iberico, and- seriously- don't forget to get lost in the wonder of it all.
To read about more suggestions for your next Chicago adventure, click HERE and HERE.