Day 174. The Grace-FULL Ones.

I have heard the story of Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton a few times now, but I do believe that it bears repeating.

In 1984, Jennifer was raped. In an effort to reclaim her life, she identified Ronald Cotton as her rapist. Mr. Cotton proclaimed his innocence. 11 years later, a confession by another inmate in jail and the evolution of DNA testing cleared Mr. Cotton of his conviction.

After being released from prison, there are many assumptions that could be made, Mr. Cotton might have become bitter or vindictive about his lost time. He may have resented Ms. Thompson-Cannino all of his days. Both Mr. Cotton and Ms. Thompson-Cannino might have borne lifelong emotional scars of this experience...perhaps never being able to feel safe, trusted, secure, loved, able to love...

But everything you could expect was nothing that happened. Instead, they each sought forgiveness and gave grace to each other. Meeting for the first time in a church after Mr. Cotton was released, the two are now close friends. They appear on the lecture circuit speaking not only about forgiveness but also about judicial reform. Both now have families of their own and enjoy what their lives are today.

I cannot imagine having the strength to be on either side of this relationship. The journey that they each took to be where they are today is one of the most amazing I have ever heard. I stand in awe of both Mr. Cotton and Ms. Thompson-Cannino and they are lodged in my mind forever as a reminder of how powerful it is to say "I'm Sorry. I Was Wrong." and how it is even more powerful to say "I Forgive You."

To hear more of this amazing relationship in their own words, please visit here and here.

*Note: the actual rapist was convicted and is serving time for his crime along with other convictions.


Day 173. The Patient One.

It is Spring and its the time of year you get those beautiful, perfect Spring days where the smell of the earth coming back to life is in the air, the temperature is perfect, the sun is shining, and you just want to be outside. As a runner, this is one of the best times of year because you are finally able to go for a run without 506 layers of clothes on and every run brings you new sights of birds, animals and plants and flowers.

Saturday, on my run, I came upon the one shopping center I run by. There's always an awkward dance when you cross a driveway that is heavily trafficked. You don't want to have to break your stride, but you also never know if the car waiting to pull out or pull in is going to let you pass first or not. Seriously - every time I cross a car's path my adrenaline kicks in and a try to process 15 different people's thought process to figure out if its safe to cross or better to wait.

So - with that long winded explanation in mind, I would like to thank the driver of the red Pontiac at the Frantz Road shopping center. She could have easily turned out into traffic but saw me coming, waited ever so patiently, and as I waved in thanks as I ran in front of her car, she waved back and smiled. Then she gave me the thumbs up. Very Cool. I'm sure she had somewhere to be, but she was kind enough to let me keep on going on my little run. We never know what each other's agendas are for any given day, but to sometimes put another's ahead of your own can make a big difference....or at least make a run that much easier!


Day 172. The Running Shoe Ones.

I have been running for a long time, and, as with any hobby, there is a whole sub-culture associated with it. Today, there are umpteen running shoe companies, stores (online and physical) and a gazillion different outfits and new gadgets. It can get rather overwhelming. A few years ago, in my never ending search for a good running store, I noticed a new running business pop up in my neighborhood called The Columbus Running Company. (CRC)

I am always a fan of local business so I popped in and was immediately impressed. CRC was started by Matt and Eric, two "young" guys who just wanted to do what they loved for a living. You could feel their passion in the way they ran the store, the way they served their customers and the extra programs that they offered - training programs, local races, a sitting area for runners with water etc. Today, CRC has proven, by its success that they are doing things the right way. They have THREE locations all over Columbus and are adding events all the time. CRC is the only place I go now for my meager running needs - but these guys have given me some of the finest training I've ever gotten and they introduced me to what are now my all-time favorite running shoes that I could run in forever.

Matt and Eric are really good people and really good businessmen, but the specific thing I want to highlight about them is an aspect of how they really show that running can be a part of all aspects of life. If you log a lot of miles, you know how quickly you go through running shoes. To be running in a pair for more than 6 months is pushing it for me (and I'm no competitive runner). But then you have this issue that you have a pair of shoes that are perfectly good for every day use that you just can't run in any more. Very quickly, between Stephen and I, we would end up with literally 8-10 pairs of old running shoes banging around our house. We couldn't throw them away but we couldn't possibly find a use for them all. Well, CRC fixed that problem. You can take your old running shoes in to their stores and they will "recycle" them to other countries who don't even have shoes. I love it. I love that we can share in the spirit of running around the world. I love that perfectly good shoes don't go to waste. I love that CRC takes the time to find ways to be responsible to the global community.

If you're ever in central Ohio, CRC is the place to go, not only because they have knowledgeable, kind, good staff and products but because they are a local success story that's taking things global. Thanks guys!


Day 171. The Doctor Ones.

Many of you know my mother is a breast cancer survivor. Many of you may also know someone who has been touched by this disease. Right after her diagnosis she had surgery and then a protocol of chemotherapy. The two doctors she chose to work with, Dr. F. and Dr. S.,  remain in touch with our family today and have proven to be really lovely people. 

What amazes me about these two, and, quite frankly, about doctors in general, is whatever it is in them to accept their jobs. I think its safe to say that the majority of doctors are rather smart cookies. Its also fairly easy to state that to become a doctor requires dedication, a quest for excellence, a strong ego ;) and unimaginable focus. By the time you actually become a doctor you spent umpteen thousands of dollars on your education and sometimes decades of your life in study. The commitment to become what you dream is amazingly huge.

Then, once you ARE a doctor, THEN it gets hard. I remember our surgeon coming to tell my dad and I that the diagnosis was worse than we had hoped. How do you steel yourself as a human being to deliver that kind of news all day? How do you rise above knowing that kind of news and then approaching your next patient with total confidence and optimism and a belief that you can "fix it"?  I remember our oncologist - visiting with us before each chemo treatment - and him having to tell my mom that they still don't know the answers to many questions about the future of the disease. I remember seeing him again after the recent loss of a dear friend that he had treated. How do you "fail" and then rise up again to tackle the same seemingly unsolvable problem?

And let's not forget about that whole perfection thing. We expect our doctors to be perfect. Seriously. We expect them to know everything, anticipate everything and overlook nothing so that they can fix us. When you really think about it - its ridiculous. Noone can achieve that standard.

I know that every night "our" two doctors return home to their families after treating more patients every day. I stand in awe of them being able to be strong enough to know that failure and risk is a certainty in their every day existence. I cannot comprehend how these men (and all doctors) can not lose their humanity with what they need to see and say every day. Dr. F. and Dr. S. symbolize every doctor to me, and to ALL doctors who work to keep us healthy, I salute you.


Day 170. The Grieving One.

A friend to many, Billy, lost his youngest son unexpectedly this past weekend. While I never met his children, I have been struck by the unimaginable pain of this experience. 

I do not want to diminish or exploit this situation at all, but for me, it was important to acknowledge Billy for who he is. He is someone who is kind to many, sharing everything from the exciting to the mundane is his days. He is dedicated to those he has relationships with and he is someone who, because of his inherent good spirit, has touched many who have come to think of him as a friend. I have seen these traits come back to him as so many have risen to offer him support. I have seen people do it publicly, and I can only imagine the number of those who are reaching out privately.

Billy has reminded me - through a time filled with grief - that that which you put out into the universe will come back to you when you need it. Billy supported us all in so many different ways and now we will do our best to support him. Billy has also reminded us all that life is precious - tell those you love that you love them, every day. 

Billy - my heart and prayers are with you my friend.


Week 29. Just a Quote.

Appreciative words are the most powerful force for good on earth.

~George W. Crane


Day 169. The OTHER Gym One.

So today I was at the gym. While working out I was starting to worry that I'm not getting out of my comfort zone enough - not finding the good in the day.  Well wouldn't you know...

At my gym, the cardio machines are laid out in rows upon rows. I was towards the back doing my little intervals. And there was a man, running on the treadmill, a few rows in front of me. As he was running, his MP3 player fell from wherever he had it on the treadmill "apparatus" onto the treadmill and was promptly kicked off the machine to land about 5 feet behind him. Now - this is one of my pet peeves. First of all, no matter what configuration the engineers try, there's never a perfect way to design the cup holders, MP3 holders, towel holders and everything else for *everyone* to have what they need while they are working out. Inevitably, unless you have things down to a perfect system, something will fall off, or be unreachable during your work out. Further, one of the most annoying things is being focused on a task (in this case, one's work out) and having something that is essential to you be removed from the equation with no way to get it back other than to disrupt your progress.

So, anyway, the MP3 player flew and two girls were walking by at the time. I saw them see the MP3 player fly, I saw them look at it, and then at each other. And just as my head was about to launch an internal tirade of "Oh come ON, people!" thinking they were walking by, the one girl, the girl in the yellow t-shirt, turned around, picked up the device and placed it back on the treadmill for the man running. With a simple smile she acknowledged his appreciation and went right on her way. Perhaps I had seen too many of those investigative "what would YOU do?" shows where they pose taboo actions to see if someone will speak up, but I was fearing that this would be another situation where ignorance, real or implied, prevailed.

Luckily, I was wrong. This very kind hearted girl took just a few seconds out of her day to give something back to someone and by virtue of this simple act, helped this man continue on his work out and hopefully achieve his goals for the day without interruption. No act of support, no matter or big or small, should ever be taken for granted. To the girl in the yellow shirt at my gym today - you rock.


Day 168. The Complimentary One.

Those of you who know me well knew this post was coming...but I have a thing about compliments. I think they are little gifts that we can give each other and that they shouldn't be given without true intention. I also think they should be accepted as such. My friends know that if I give them a compliment, and if they start to protest or dismiss it, that I will say "If someone gives you a compliment, you say...", and I will say this over and over until they finally say "thank you". My closest friends now know to just roll their eyes, cut me off and say "I know, I know 'thank you'". Its a joke but its the truth...

So, an acquaintance of mine, S., who I don't see much at all, recently pleasantly surprised me when we were together and she said "thank you" to a compliment I had paid to her. I didn't even have to go into my little mantra. I realized that it was nice to have someone receive words of praise. Ironically, later, someone else who was present commented that they thought S. was a bit full of herself.

I, for one, would like to commend S. I think that, unfortunately, people are too hesitant to let their strengths shine. We get conditioned to not be boastful, to not be too proud, to not "believe the hype". These lessons are all true - when practiced in excess, but isn't even just a little bit OK? Its OK to hear that you did something well or that you look particularly nice one day. Its OK to accept that from others and own it.

To me, as I said above, a compliment is one of the most special things we have in our personal interactions. I don't offer compliments lightly, and I don't offer them if they are not true. I want someone to know that I've acknowledged something that I think is cool in them, or something they have done. And, then, quite frankly, I don't want to have to argue with them about it. In refuting a compliment, you are refusing the gift that someone is giving you and in some ways, refuting the good that is in you. Would you give back a gift that someone gave you for your birthday because you didn't feel deserving? I know I wouldn't (well maybe that's just me ;) )

S. reminded me that it is OK to hear, and more importantly to believe, the good in each of us. And its OK to let people know that you are aware of your positives.  So, S., you know who you are...you are not conceited, or arrogant. You are discovering yourself and you are open to people. And, if you were here right now, it would be a delight to hear you say "thank you".


Day 167. The Reflective One.

Many of you know that we used to live in Washington DC, and that many of our friends are still there...not a day goes by when I don't miss it, even just a little bit, and today I thought I'd share with you part of the reason why. My friend Mel and I met, like some of the other amazing women I've written about here, because our husbands were long time friends from college. When Mel first started dating her husband, Jason, I was drawn to her right away...I thought, "THIS is someone I can really connect with".

Mel has been a very cool person in my life for many years, but the past year and a half of her life has taught me even more about why she is so special. Mel and Jason had their first son, Zach in October 2007. He was soon after diagnosed with Hirschsprung's disease. Unfortunately, Mel, Zach and Jason are not the only people in the world dealing with a severe illness of a loved one...but fortunately, Mel, Zach and Jason ARE some of the very very special people who have revealed their struggles, strength and turned challenges into realizing celebrations.

Zach is doing so much better now at 15 months, and since I still can't believe that I haven't seen him (!!!), I delight in seeing how much Mel has shared with "us". Of course there are pictures and quick updates, but what's more beautiful to me is how Mel has shared her heart. Every once and a while, a note pops up on Facebook where Mel has taken some time to take stock and understand what is happening to her and her family. Her writing is honest, and beautiful. Sometimes it is painful to read but there is always hope in her words. 

Yesterday, Mel posted again and wrote the most amazing sentences: "It always takes a difficult time in life to remind me to count my blessings...Lately I have been trying to change that and take some time EVERY SINGLE day to count them. I realized recently that I take plenty of time to focus on my worries"

Mel your strength throughout this whole adventure has amazed and encouraged me. Thank you for sharing it - all of it - with us. You are an amazing reminder to me and many others to know that there is something good to be taken from every thing and every day. I love you! And Zach is such a cute little Mel-Jason combo :)


Day 166. The Duck One.

I live in central Ohio which means that when Spring comes, so do two other things...ducks and very very annoying Canadian Geese. What this means is that people get rather crabby rather quickly about the droppings that these animals leave and the geese, in particular, draw the ire of many a resident as they block traffic, squawk in the middle of the night, and take over any available yard one may have. 

The shame in this is that the irritation often spills over to all members of the avian family. Some weeks I get annoyed with all the people talking about how annoyed they are over the ducks and geese. But, there is someone who cares...last year, one of the neighbors in our little community watched a mommy duck lead her little brood of ducklings across the road from one of our lakes to another. Mommy duck didn't realize that her feet are bigger than her babies' and, the neighbor watched in shock as one by one, the little duckings fell through the grates in the street drains to a scary fate.

Well, this neighbor took action - not only saving the babies who fell that day and returning them to their mother, but also stepping up and installing eco-friendly mesh over all the grates so that no other babies would suffer the same fate. This year, the neighbor is already back, hard at work, recruiting others to help him install these mesh covers before the eggs hatch and the sweet little balls of fluff start waddling across the roads. 

As someone who loves the arrival of Spring and also loves animals - in particular baby ducks at this time of year - I am so thankful to see my humane neighbor taking on a task for no purpose other than to keep some sort of harmony between us and the animals.


Week 28. Reflections

Someone asked me some questions about my blog lately, and, as I was answering them I realized something funny...pretty much everyone who get's blogged gets a head's up from me. Whether its a tweet, an email or even one of my little handy business cards that say "You've been blogged" (thanks @Devyl), I try to let folks know. OK, I know, that part wasn't funny...

So here's the funny thing, the most nerve wracking moments are right before and right after I hit that "Send" button. A bazillion and one thoughts race through my head? "What if the person doesn't like it?" "What if I got it all wrong?" "What if they are not thrilled with being put out there publicly like that?" and the most prominent, "Holy crap! This person is now going to know exactly what I think of them".

Its weird, right? But I guess the take away for me is, that, crazy as it seems, it can be quite hard to give someone a real, genuine compliment. Maybe that's why we end up with a lot of negative energy, its a lot easier to be snarky or sarcastic (I am an expert at both) then to really open your heart sometimes. Oh well, know that I know it won't be necessarily easy, but try giving someone a compliment today.

Day 165. The Friend One.

A friend of mine, Steph, has a best friend, Sarah. Through Steph, I have gotten to meet and get to know Sarah a little bit. I must say, that Sarah is a truly amazing person. I am always astounded at her warmth, honestly, wisdom, kindness and dedication to her family (oh and she's an animal person, and, animal people are always cool ;) ). Sarah will often react to something in the most beautiful way and it truly makes me want to be more like her. How did she get so darn smart?

Well, obviously Sarah is great, but, what is most striking to me about Sarah is what a truly phenomenal friend she is. When I see her interacting with Steph I am blown away by the love that exists in that relationship. Sarah approaches her friends with undying support and without judgement. I've seen her lift a friend up from a negative place, allow herself to be lifted up when things just aren't going well, celebrate a friend's successes, and gently guide a friend to a place they need to understand. Sarah has that really cool skill that some people have where she can help you figure something out, and in the end, you feel like you figured it out all on your own and you weren't just "told what to do".

It is very easy for so many of us to always say that friends and family are the most important things...but I believe that Sarah truly lives in these principles. I think we'd all be pretty darn lucky to have a "Sarah" in our lives. And, Sarah's a Buckeye fan, so you KNOW she rocks!


Day 164. The Goalie One.

Last night, we went to a Columbus Blue Jackets NHL game...and yes it was a great way to celebrate our anniversary ;).  We had a really good time not only because we were with my favorite "puck bunny" but also, because it was an amazing game - Hitch got honored for 500 wins, the Jackets won in a shoot out and the crowd was on fire all night long. But, as I continue to learn more about hockey, there's someone that continues to impress the heck out of me: our Goalie, Steve Mason.  

I mean first of all, let's just acknowledge that it takes a very unique and special type of person who says, "sure, I'll put some pads on, stand on ice skates and let a bunch of very angry men shoot a very hard, cold object, 3 inches in diameter directly AT ME."  When I watch someone in goal, I really don't know how they do it...the job is rediculous hard and its also a very fine line between hero and scapegoat.

I think that a goalie truly is a rather unique combination of emotional, physical and mental strength, and its too easy to look past what these folks take on in their job. After 3 goals were scored on Steve in the last 3.5 minutes of the game, he then had to stand there, one on one for a shoot out. I personally can guarantee that I couldn't get my head in the right place to handle something like that (nor could I get down in the what is basically the splits to stop a goal or two...or three!).  With last night's victory, the Jackets are posting the best season record ever and the city is starting to take notice. Its a great time to be a Jackets fan and I think Steve Mason is a huge part of that.

As we like to say "ALL HAIL MASON!" 


Day 163. The Dignified One.

Today, I would like to recognize Dame Cicely Saunders. This woman is the individual widely credited with the modern hospice movement and the integration of pallative care.

Hospice is the philosophy and practice of palliative care - which is treatment that focuses on reducing the severity of disease symptoms rather than striving to delay or halt the disease's progression or to provide a cure. ( according to Wikipedia) Today, this treatment is rather pervasive in the United States and is a common alternative available to those with terminal illness.

I know this topic of hospice/ palliative care can be quite controversial, and I am not writing today to convince anyone to change their beliefs or opinions but rather to honor a woman who had the strength of character to look at a terrible situation in a different way. If you take the time to read the link I've posted above, Dame Saunders came to build the concept of hospice out of grief for watching loved ones die of terminal illness and the belief that there needs to be dignity, and food for the spirit, even in death. 

I have been exposed to many people who have take advantage of the services of a hospice for a variety of reasons. Personally, I support this decision as each person's individual choice. I find peace in the fact that each person found rest for their soul and easement of their pain in their final days. I find comfort in the fact that many of these people knew their last vision to be that of their home or other known surroundings and that these people's loved ones will remember those they lost as being in a place of familiarity, and not just a clinical hospital room. 

For those who have committed their lives to medicine, I know that they are duty bound to do all that they can to save a person's life. For Dame Saunders to be able to wrestle with maintaining that commitment and amend it to consider quality of life and dignity of the individual - not just health of the body - is rather amazing and heartbreakingly profound. For anyone who has had their pain, emotional or physical, acknowledged and eased by what we now consider "the common option" of palliative care, I thank Dame Cicely Saunders.


Day 162. The Best Man One.

So we may end up with a theme this week because the 12th is my wedding anniversary (can you believe I suckered that poor boy into marrying me?!?! ha ha) but anyway...a quick background for you all. When Stephen and I got married, we got married really fast - 3 months to the day after we got engaged - we had a very non-traditional wedding: we got married in front of 10 people at my parents house on a Wednesday and then went out to the East Coast where most of our friends were for a party that weekend. We loved it because we made the whole thing what WE wanted and not what anyone else was telling us we "should" do. Every decision was up for discussion as we made plans, (for example, we didn't have a wedding cake) but there was only one thing that took a bit of wrangling for me. I wanted to have attendants - I wanted two, Stephen wanted none...thinking it was too much with such a short time frame and it was a lot to ask of someone to come to Ohio and then head back to the east coast all in the middle of the week...anyway, we ended up compromising on ONE attendant each.

I was curious to see who Stephen was going to ask - I know many of his friends and could easily have seen him picking any one of a number of people - his friends are all really good people and I didn't think any choice would surprise me. Well, his choice actually did. Stephen asked his friend Walt to be his best man. I didn't know Walt too well at the time but I was looking forward to getting to know him better. Once Walt arrived that week, it immediately became clear why Stephen chose him. In the midst of the craziness (and oh was there craziness - imagine prepping for two weddings in two states in three days) Walt was an amazing center of what actually was going on. Walt brought us back to what was really going on as we decided to get married. He gave Stephen a wonderful book, and, when at the last minute we asked Walt to read the scripture we had chosen at our ceremony the good man committed it to memory in one night and said it from memory. We had a great time with Walt that weekend, but it was through the rest of these years that Walt has continued to amaze me...

Walt is one of those guys who can bring you back to what is important without ever being preachy or overbearing. I always look forward to our visits with him because the conversations are always great - he asks questions that really get you to think and, if necessary, recognize where you are going astray. He leads an amazing life just in his every day actions. He is a tremendous husband and father (to his three beautiful girls) and you can see the essence of who Walt is in everything he says and does. Walt also knows how to have a good time ;) and he makes a rockin' drink, but when I look at how Walt is and how he focuses on friends and family he serves as a role model to me in how I can improve who I am.

Walt continues to be the best man for us in more ways than just the traditional role - Walt, we love you!


Week 27. No Reflections..just a Bump

You all know I love Ben Stein...today he gave me another reason why. Leave it to him to articulate so beautifully something that has been on Stephen and my minds for quite some time...looking at this now a lot of the comments are negative, but the bigger point remains - as a general rule, will you expect things to get better? Or, will you expect things to get worse? AND most important of all WHO do you listen to and WHO do you believe...the answers are personal and belong to  each of you....

Day 161. The Laughing One.

I really think laughter is one of the things I value most in this life. There's nothing like it. Today I was reminded about how much I love it. I was at a recurring event Stephen and I go to and one of the other "regulars" was there. Stephen was out of town, so today I got to sit with them...throughout the event, we laughed. We laughed at quick one-liners, we laughed at shared stories, we laughed at other folks, we laughed at ourselves. We had a wonderful time.  The happy residue of that laughter has stayed with me...just as a warm glow of friendship and peace. 

To my friends who visited and laughed with me today (and you know who you are) thank you - laughter is one of the greatest gifts...ever!

Day 160. The Barcelona One.

So Friday I had a fantastic time at a birthday dinner for one of my good friends. We were a rowdy bunch (I will only say that there was silly string involved before we even got in the restaurant), and we were all looking to really have a good night. Mark was our server. 

I've mentioned other servers here before, because I am keenly aware at how hard that job is. But, Mark deserves special mention because of how he really melded with the flow of the evening. he fit right in with our group and our energy. He even got to know our sense of humor (and we know how lame mine can be). As I reflected on the evening, it was so nice to look back on that dinner and see how we all got to really focus on each other and our celebrations while enjoying great service and really great food. I attribute that to Mark and his ability to truly "serve" us throughout the evening.

Plus - Mark made sure we took advantage of the free dessert AND he can carry four martinis and two beers on a tray without spilling - always impressive :)


Day 159. The Working One.

So, my friend Andres is really REALLY cool. I truly love him. He is amazing. I met him when I was a young foolish 20-something who was busting my ass to work night and day as a consultant and try and figure out what to do with the rest of my life. So, we met by being assigned to the same project (in Tampa Florida...but I digress!) Andres and my relationship was one of those where we just 'clicked'. Instantly. I swear, he is like the brother I never had.

Andres was there to help me through all those crazy formative years and was, and still is, an amazing support, sounding board, drinking buddy and more. But, what I remember most about him was, when I was that silly 20-something he taught me the invaluable lesson that I think too many people miss: "There's nothing wrong with having fun while you work."  When you do the math, we spend a third of our life (at least) in the workplace. Its too easy to fall into the established patterns of hating what you do, just collecting a paycheck, or perhaps worse yet, thinking that you are your work. I was well on my way to at least two of those when Andres became my friend. He helped me to find the right balance between work and play...and he helped me to realize that "working to live" (instead of living to work) is the end game in the short time we each have on earth...

Since our time together in Tampa, we've had some good stories - we both lived in the DC area for a while and then, even after Andres and his family moved to Atlanta we stay in touch as best we can - he even sang for my "father daughter" dance at my wedding...and I hope that Andres knows how much that meant to me.

Andres is one of those friends to whom I forever feel connected no matter how little or much we stay in touch. He is my little "kumquat" "marsupial" or whatever crazy name we are using at the time; he is a brilliant business person; he knows how to make a good drink; but most of all he is a tremendous person and an amazing friend. I am thankful every day for him, his family, and the fact that he is in my life.


We Pause...

Perhaps things look different to you if you've been here before...my limited tech knowledge has me itching for a new layout...I welcome your comments and, Andrea...I need your help...I think you can tell with what! ;-D

Day 158. The Referring One.

So, this post will be somewhat ambiguous because I want to keep the focus on a special person and not on me...so here we go.  There is a wonderful woman, Erin H. who I met because we were working on a project together starting some 3 years ago. She was in Dallas and I was in Columbus and I figured our interaction would be more of the "touching base" type. Well, it turned out that year that I really ended up needing her help and she proved herself to not only be a helpful, knowledgeable resource, but also someone who has integrity, is very smart, and is tremendously kind. I was finally able to meet Erin a few times and just fell in love with her. She's one of those people who you immediately connect to and want to know more about.

I had considered that our relationship would continue under the same parameters but you can imagine my pleasant shock when she referred me for an additional opportunity within the constructs of how we were working together. To know that Erin thought highly enough of me to recommend me for this additional task was not only a tremendous compliment but also a huge boost to me when some other not so pleasant stuff was going on in my life.  The resulting work ended up being invigorating and inspiring and through it all, Erin continued to prove herself as a tremendous spirit. 

Erin and I eventually ended our professional relationship but I still had the chance to see her from time to time. She's one of those people who knows what a gift it is to remember people - no matter how much time had passed or what we were each now focused on, Erin would always find time to visit with me and not only touch base professionally but also to share what was going on in her life (and p.s. she has the cutest babies :) ).

On a professional note, this past year, the fact that Erin recommended me for that first additional project has blossomed into continued new and amazing opportunities that I otherwise probably never would have known. I am forever indebted to Erin for her faith and trust in me. I am keenly aware that the opportunities I have now are in no way possible without Erin. Even though we don't talk much now, I think of Erin often and she is one of a very few people who I classify as "who I want to be more like".

I hope that you know, Erin, that you are a special person in this world; and that knowing you personally and professionally has made my life so much richer. Thank you!


Day 157. The Strong One.

I'm not going to say a lot other than I always think its uber cool when you are able to start following a person's story of a chapter in their life (blog) from the beginning and, although I do not know this person directly, I know some of the company she keeps, and that's all I needed.  I have added this blog to my reader...so should you. Powerful, honest, amazing...

p.s. note that the real name for this post is "The Sh*t Kicking One", which you will understand if you visit, but I wanted to keep readers/tweets etc. PG-13...shocking, for me, I know.


Day 156. The Partner One.

This Saturday, I was at the 9th Annual Conference for Young Women affected by Breast Cancer.  I have been a part of the fight against breast cancer for over a decade now, but its only in recent years that I have become keenly aware of the challenges facing women who are diagnosed before age 40. It is hard enough to think about losing ones breast, or ones hair or even ones life in general, but when you partner that with being someone who may be in your 30's or even 20's (!) and thinking about still dating, being married, your sex life, your children (planned or present) you realize how courageous these young survivors are.

The energy at this conference was amazing. But, as I sat through session after session completely engrossed in the material and the company, something caught my eye. A young survivor was walking out at the end and leading her, was her husband, holding her hand. It was a simple thing - but it was everything. In just walking with her, in being there, you could see that he was WITH HER - for the meeting, for the weekend, for the fight against this disease, for her life. He wasn't coddling her or "taking care" of her, he was her partner. He got it - this was his life's love and he was going to be there in sickness and in health. Diseases like cancer can often expose one's true colors - unfortunately, sometimes these aren't pretty. Many young survivors face issues with partners leaving them, or even not wanting to date them in the first place. But this man knows what life is all about and what his marriage is all about. 

Later that night, these two danced their socks off at the conference's party - they were living, and they were living together, no matter what may come their way. They are true partners and they are inspiring.


Day 155. The Dog One.

Sorry for a bit of delay - but I was challenged to go a whole weekend while out of town without taking my computer (ha ha Stephen!!)_ANYWAY, here's the first in a small flurry of posts...

So Friday when I was traveling, I began with the ever irritating task of going through security (if you ever want to know which line is going to go faster, get in the line that I am NOT in!) Even though I got through the VIP line, when we got to the actual screening, people were coming from everywhere and, long story short, I ended up in a rather slow lane behind a guy who was singing to himself, loudly (he will NOT be in this blog anytime soon) and an older gentleman who had an aide dog with him.

As I waited...and waited...and waited, I was watching this gentleman work his way through the process of taking out all his metal objects, etc. etc. and deal with getting the dog through. The singing guy asked if he could pet the dog and then, gently, the woman who was traveling with the older gentleman said, "I'm sorry, but the dog is working right now and I have to ask you to not pet him". My first impression was that this woman was perhaps a daughter, aide, or traveling companion but then (as one of their bags had to be re-screened) I noticed that the woman's shirt had an emblem on it that matched the emblem on the harness of the dog. And I realized, I was seeing one of those things I had only heard about...this man had newly received his working dog and this woman was one of the people who had trained this dog to assist the man and was now easing both the animal and the man through the transition of their new life together.

I had always been amazed at the work that these dogs can do - from detecting strokes before they happen, to opening doors, to knowing when to cross the street but what had impressed me even more greatly was the idea of these trainers who must have incredible strength of character to devote their lives to training these dogs and then, after building a relationship with them, be able to give them away to their intended owner and their intended purpose. Today I saw this in action. I saw a woman who greatly loved the animal she had worked with, but who had an amazing sense of giving and kindness and could ease her previous "ward" into a new relationship with another...I have a hard enough time dropping my dog off at the kennel for three days, I can't imagine turning over an animal I had cared for, for ever.

These dogs perform every day miracles for their owners - giving them back their lives, but to me, I today will honor this woman and all those who train these animals - not only do you give the animals a sense of purpose, and so many people back the aspects of their life they had lost, but you have a strength of character and grace that truly amazes me.