Day 234. The Boogie-ing Ones.

I'm a little late to the party (ha ha ha) on this one, but when I finally saw the video people were talking about, I wanted to share it a little bit more. This is about Jill and Kevin. Two people who I've never met and probably never will, but Jill and Kevin came up with the idea to have their wedding party dance down the aisle at the ceremony. The video of said entrance has become a YouTube sensation and has even garnered them attention on the Today show.

As I watched this video, I found myself smiling. Its fun, its happy, and its all about who Jill and Kevin are. I've talked before about weddings - my perspective is its a day about the two people getting married and too often people either get caught up in the spectacle of it all or in the "routine" of it all and it never becomes a day that represents all that a marriage, and the two people involved, are about. Jill and Kevin didn't fall into either trap. Even if you think their idea was silly you can't deny that its fun, playful, utterly unique and devoid of self-consciousness. One can argue that these are amazing traits to carry into a union. It also makes me happy to think these two had enough self awareness to do something that wasn't "typical" because they wanted to and it would make them happy. These two seem to be starting off on a good foot (ahem) and they also seem to have a good support structure of friends who get them, who are fun, and who will always be willing to do what's asked of them - even if its dancing down the aisle of the church in shades.

Congratulations Jill and Kevin on your marriage, and on being who you are!



Just somethin' else...

Saw this tweet from my friend "earthXplorer" who was recently highlighted...just back up to why I do this and how cool JD is....

earthXplorerRT @ponet: “Glory paid to our ashes comes too late” Marcus Aurelius



Hi friends! I'm in a place where there is literally almost no cell phone service for me and little internet on my iPhone so I am unplugging for a week but don't worry, when I get back "online" I've got some pretty cool people to tell you about and whats even better? I'm related to them! :)

have a great weekend!


Day 233. The Explorer One.

Back to my geekdom. Every once and a while you end up with someone in your Twitter stream who simply impresses the heck out of you. I started following JD Andrews a while back - not even sure why - but I remember thinking that he had some pretty positive, good quotes. So I'd look for his tweets every once in a while, trying to figure out what he was all about until just about a week ago I found his to be one of the avatars that I'd search out and read.

JD is constantly positive, adventuresome, encouraging and just a good "read" (in 140 characters or less!) He posted today a pic about the Keys and it seemed to be kismet that I would honor him today as the Conch Republic is forever my second home!

We've never interacted properly, but I do want JD to know that he impacts my life in a good way every day and every tweet with what he has to share and say. If you are on Twitter, and you want some good energy flowin' through your Tweetdeck, or Twirl or Tweetie or whatever you use. Follow this man! Good stuff going out into the world from him!


Day 232. The Pig One.

This is simple, slightly funny and easy. Stephen's family lives in North Eastern Pennsylvania and, either each of them owns, or has access to a farm. Since we are fans of cooking and eating foods that are as natural as possible, heading there is always a boon for us since we come home with boxes of wonderfully fresh vegetables, honey, berries (and jam we made with them). This year, we're going to have something else - a pig. Not a live pig, a butchered pig that Stephen's brother has purchased, fed and taken care of all season long.

We're really excited - believe it or not there's going to be a lot of fun and good eatin' involving this pig and its great to know that we know where this little guy has been since he was born. I also happen to know that my nephews aren't necessarily able to take care of it (and its mates) on their own yet, and my sister in law prefers not to take care of animals that will become food :) So full props go to my brother in law, Michael, for letting us have this great animal headed our way after being raised in the best way possible!


Day 231. The Cookie One.

You are going to have to revel in my geekiness for a minute to hear about this person. Today when I logged in to Facebook, a friend of mine, "AnnOhio" posted this:

Ann is declaring today thoughtful Thursday...do something nice for someone ..or better yet do something nice for YOU

OK, first of all, brilliant. Second of all, thoughtful. Third of all, compelling and interesting enough that you really start to figure out how you can do just what was recommended. Lucky me - I have the perfect outlet - so, on "Thoughtful Thursday" I am honoring dear, sweet, wonderful Ann.

Ann and I have interacted a few times, and mostly on Twitter and Facebook, but let me tell you, this woman ROCKS. First of all, she's all about the hugs and she's all about the cookies. She brings you cookies when she meets you in person - and they are DE-LIC-I-OUS. And she hugs you...warm, deep, real. She comes up with stuff like thoughtful Thursday every now and again, and often with perfect timing. Oh and she's a knitter...we luuuuuv knitters! ;)

She continues to amaze me as she builds a life that SHE can be proud of and love living in. She's made some life choices that have required strength, courage, and the desire to be better even when people tell her she's crazy. Even if sometimes, bad things happen, and, like all of us, Ann has hit some bumps in the road, she shares that which she is comfortable sharing and just demonstrates such an honesty and real self-examination that I have no doubt she comes through each challenge wiser and better for it. Ann is also a strong woman. She doesn't take much crap. And she'll remind you not to either. Her twitter bio: if you don't add to my life, I'm subtracting you. EXACTLY.

I've said this before, but for real, Ann is one of those people who makes the world better by just being in it. When I see her "virtually" or in person, she just makes me smile. She reminds me that we always need to feed the good in ourselves and strive to live life to its fullest. So, let's all honor Ann and make this the biggest and best "thoughtful Thursday" ever - go do something nice for someone, and do something nice for YOU! xoxox

Day 230. The Moon One.

Today is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo lunar landing. Its crazy to think that my entire life has been spent just "knowing" that going to the moon is possible. In the wake of recent flight events (I had flown to Europe on an Airbus the day before the AirFrance Airbus crash - kinda freaked me out for a bit) I can only begin to feel the tip of the iceberg of fear and risk and understanding of one's morality that real adventurers must take on. Its one of these amazing adventurers, who is also a Buckeye, that I'd like to highlight on this special day: Neil Armstrong.

Neil was born and bred in Ohio (where all the great people come from - LOL), he served in the Navy and after a distinguished career there, became involved in aeronautics and this then led to his involvement as an astronaut. We are not at a loss for information on Neil's many accomplishments, but as I am reflecting on his "greatest" accomplishment of being the first person to step foot on the moon, and create the indelible statement "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind", I find that it is his character that I am most in awe of.

As I mentioned above, the older I get, the more I realize the strength it takes to tackle the unknown. You must will willing to lose everything at a moments notice. You must be willing to literally put your life in the hands of, perhaps, hundreds of engineers, fellow astronauts, scientists, even weathermen. We've learned the hard way that space travel is still dangerous today through the two shuttle tragedies that have occurred in my life, I can't imagine signing up for the initial voyages 40 some years ago that didn't benefit from the technological advances we have today.

I also reflect on the amazing pressure that Mr. Armstrong withstood from his fellow Americans and the world. JFK had put space travel, and landing on the moon, at the top of his National Agenda. The world was watching. How do you deal with that? Its easy to say "it doesn't matter" but still, the grace with which all of the astronauts handled their successes, and more importantly, their failures was amazing. This grace has followed Mr. Armstrong even after his space career ended. Like it or not, he has become part of the American lexicon. He is an icon. He has nurtured his legacy lovingly, respectfully, and with great, quiet strength. Even today, he is still regarded as one of the most important Americans there is - and his presence is always heralded with a hero's welcome, and a celebrity's fascination (again, particularly in Ohio, ha ha ha!)

So, today, to the first man who realized the dream of a nation 40 years ago, I thank you Mr. Armstrong. You were a part of a team of so many and you handled the entire process with grace and fortitude. You gave your life to become a part of the bigger whole and you respect that your legacy belongs to all of us. I do consider that having role models such as Mr. Armstrong represents to each of us that greatness does exist - both in act and in spirit. He reminds us what we can accomplish - he reminds us who we can be - he challenges us to consider what we could become.


Day 229. The Writing Chef One.

I don't believe in coincidence. And a few things lately have reinforced this...within the past month two separate friends (who have both already graced this blog) recommended books to me. [Disclaimer: I'm a wanna be foodie and a wanna be master chef] First, my friend, Brad, recommended the book, Ratio, The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking - which is a well written, compelling book about the fundamental ratios involved in most all cooking and baking; and then, my friend, Brian lent me the book The Soul of a Chef - which, I am only 2/3 of the way through but every time I pick it up I end up reading, and re-reading, it for hours.

I'm often reading a few things at a time but it was after a particularly engaging passage in The Soul of a Chef that I read last night that I decided the Author, Michael Ruhlman, deserved some recognition. Imagine my surprise as I started to look up links for him to find that these two books that had captured me so completely lately were BOTH written by him. Serendipity.

Here's why I think Michael is cool. First of all, he loves cooking and great food. Second, I often have trouble wading through cooking books because they usually end up on two ends of a spectrum - they are either dry, "academic" writings on the science of cooking and food - almost as if they are trying to validate or justify cooking as a higher art; or, they are whimsical fluff that tends to be trendy and hard to slog through while looking for any real value. Michael sits squarely in the perfect middle of this range. He writes in a voice that is captivating. His research is from the perspective who didn't just watch, he attended the Culinary Institute of America, he worked as a line cook for more than just a month. He's lived this world while maintaining the eye of a writer and he sucks you in to a perspective rarely shared of the world of chefs. Third, he's also from Ohio. (natch!)

I have mentioned before that I have the highest respect for those who can write. When I find someone who does it well it truly is AWE-some to me. Michael has the talent. He focuses on the food world from a way I, personally, haven't seen before, in an engaging way. I also have tremendous respect for the great amount of work and research that he has put into his writing. He's spent YEARS honing his information and perspective.

If you enjoy food, and if you respect the mind of a Chef, please pick up one of Michael's books. I can promise you that you won't be disappointed.


Day 228. The Taco One.

Thursday my brother-in-law and his family arrived for a visit. We were very excited to see them as they have three little boys and haven't been able to travel until recently (3 boys under 3 at one point? My sister-in-law is a Saint!) ANYWAY, the boys are now 9, 8, and 7 and are at such a wonderful age where they are really starting to relate like little people - not just children anymore.

We love being an aunt and uncle and particularly enjoy the "spoiling" part of that job so for lunch the first day, the boys got to pick wherever they wanted to eat before we headed to the Zoo. Like true little boys, they wanted Taco Bell (apparently there is no Taco Bell in the mountains of the poconos).

When we arrived the boys had time to figure out what they wanted and when it was our turn to order, my sister-in-law prompted each of them to step up to order their lunch on their own. Now, they were each doing just fine, but they were obviously below eye level, a bit more soft spoken than the other adult customers, and had to be prompted on some questions..."would you like a drink?" "Do you want a hard or soft taco?" etc. And who did this? The cashier, John. John was so kind and thoughtful to these boys. He had an amazing patience in dealing with their young manners and personalities. At the same time, he never was condescending to them or treating them as "just kids". In the brief 30 second or so encounter each of my nephews had, I saw them each grow a little bit - proud in their accomplishment to order on their own, excitement to be eating such "great new food", and, even if they didn't know it, a growth in their confidence and life experience.

John - particularly at a "fast food place" that was swamped with the afternoon lunch crowd, you knocked me off my feet with your kindness and generosity of spirit. I really believe you gave my little nephews a tremendous life lesson and I thank you for that. Who knew that Taco Bell would be one of the most amazing lunch experiences I've ever had?

*Disclaimer - I do have a Taco Bell addiction and would be happy eating it for the rest of my life (tho my clothes would not). However, I think its fair to say that Taco Bell hasn't always been known for its service which made John's actions that much more remarkable.


Day 228. The Model One.

To write this post I am going to have to embarrass myself (not that this is anything new). I love "America's Next Top Model". We're not going to try and let me justify it, we're not going to explain why, but I love it. Put a marathon on the t.v. and I will watch it - even though I've seen it before. It makes me happy. I know its ridiculous, corny, over-the-top television that does nothing for my intellect or personal growth. End of story.

But, for those of you who are better people than me, let me quickly bring you up to speed. Its a silly reality show where girls compete to become the next, you guessed it, "top model". There's a panel of judges and one of the judges has always been a former "top model". Past holders of this role include Janice Dickenson, Twiggy and most recently, Paulina Porizkova. Paulina was recently fired from this role - the producers cited budget cuts. It is Paulina that I'd like to focus on today.

First of all, she's Czech (also my heritage) so that makes her cool. But she had always been peripherally interesting to me, being a model during my formative teen years in the 80's and then marrying, of all people (this was my perception) Ric Ocasek of "the Cars". I never really followed her much, but again, kinda on the outskirts of my conscience I'd be aware of hearing non-stereotypical things about her as a celebrity/model - she was really really smart, had an interesting perspective on life, focused on her family, is even still married blah blah blah. So I was kinda aware of her being interesting in a good way.

When she got fired, it was she who announced it. There was some buzz about it but just recently, Paulina wrote a post for the Huffington Post that are her reflections on being fired, how it affected her, and some perspective on this. I read it expecting some sort of backstabbing or salacious details but again, Paulina surprised me. I found it to be a very honest, very revealing insightful piece. While it may be about a silly reality show, with so many of our jobs being affected by the economy, I feel like she found brilliant ways to express ways that many of us have felt or will feel. I also found her self-deprecating honesty something that validated things that we often will only tell our closest friends and things that started to peel back the veil on "celebrity life" (even if only a little bit).

You may think I am making to much of a simple post, and maybe I am. But I really liked this article, probably for a lot of reasons I don't even have the words to express. I just wanted to acknowledge someone who wrote with honestly, clarity and insight. So, thanks Paulina, and I invite you to read it, and then let me know what you think.


Day 227. The Warrior One.

Meet John Melia. Five years ago he founded the Wounded Warrior Project. This project, as he simply states, is founded on the principle of one service member helping another. I think we all have been touched through someone in our lives by the effects of the recent military actions the United States has taken. I echo hopefully many of you, when I say, that regardless of one's politics or beliefs on the steps we have taken, I can never question nor adequately show appreciation to those who fight on my country's behalf.

Many give so much - and I often worry about those who return to us with severe injuries - physical and emotional. WWP is focused on honoring and empowering wounded soldiers and for the first time, I'm seeing an organization that REALLY does it up right. With respect to all those organizations who do even a small gesture to honor our soldiers, WWP blows me away. First off, their business organization - they have a bill of rights, and a statement of fiscal responsibility. AND, they don't just do one thing - such as a parade, or care packages, or letters from home they give these people complete support through a variety of channels and events.

The event that caught my attention (thank you Good Morning America) was the weekends they plan focused on comprehensive healing. And by that I mean they have picnics, barbeques, parades, sporting events, they really REALLY REALLY honor and celebrate the men and women who have done so much for us.

I won't talk much more other than to say I am in awe not only of what John has created, but also the degree of professionalism and integrity in which he has undertaken his project. Check out the website...you'll see. And to ALL of those who do anything of any magnitude for our servicemen and women I thank you - and today in particular, I thank John.


Day 226. The LIVESTRONG One.

I feel somewhat like I am cheating writing this. For Lance Armstrong certainly doesn't need me calling attention to his work to acknowledge all that he has done that is good in this world. However, I have been a Lance fan and a Tour de France fan for many many years, and this year, as he makes his return (and I make my foray into cycling), I'm going against my rule of not featuring famous people because I think he's deserving.

As one of my mentors, Miguel Perez, pointed out, "He may not have made all great choices, but who of us has? This guy is amazing and an incredible inspiration. Just remember... because we are able, we should give it all we have." Lance has returned to cycling and I don't know that everyone knows why...

Love him or hate him, he is an incredible human, the likes of which we don't see often. He gives so much to a community, the Cancer community, that I care deeply about. For that, I thank him and I implore you to take the 1 minute and 3 seconds to see whats "different" about Lance than what you may think and why he deserves recognition.


Day 224-225. The Farm Ones.

I have gotten a lot of good natured ribbing for how I spent a large part of my youth, but here's the story...friends of our family, Richard and Penny, who were Montessori teachers (yes, I went to a Montessori school and I think it was amazing) decided that they wanted to return to the simpler things in life, and, as the wife, Penny, had grown up on a farm, they decided to move back to a Farm with their five children. They chose to live in Millersburg, Ohio which is in the heart of the Amish community in Ohio and they lived according to most of the customs that that community upheld - no electricity, no phone, and self-sustainable farming.

They eventually developed a program that allowed children to come spend a week at a time with them living at, and working on, the farm. This wasn't a camp it was truly living as part of the Farm community. From age 5 on, I spent weeks and eventually my entire summers there. It was amazing. You learn a lot about life and work when, if you don't do your chores, animals don't eat. If animals don't eat, you don't have eggs, and milk the next morning. If you don't have milk, you can't have butter or cheese. If animals aren't cared for properly, when its time for butchering (and yes, I have butchered animals) your food is not of a good quality. If gardens aren't tended, you don't have vegetables. if you don't use composting, you don't have the value of self made mulch and fertilizer.

This program still runs today. Richard and Penny are still alive but now their children (my friends and peers) now do most of the day to day work. I will not share with you their program's name or website only because for years, they have eschewed publicity. They don't want the "masses" coming, rather they work through relationships and referrals for upwards of 30 years now and the program is still running strong.

It was such a simple way to live, and honestly, I can think of few aspects of my life that have made me happier. So much of who I am and how I look at life was forged through this experience: my skill of spinning and knitting, my love of cooking, my love for animals, my respect for all parts of the circle of life, my inherent desire to be as caring for the planet as possible - all came from my time at the Farm. As our world becomes more and more fast-paced and technology enhanced, (and yes, I love all of these things) I think that we are too quick to forget the lessons that those before us learned. There was a time when you were "green" not because it was a movement, or because it was "cool" but because it just made sense and made your life easier.

I cannot adequately put into words the immense gratitude for how Richard and Penny touched my life. Nor can I properly imagine how many they have influenced in a positive manner. They had the skill to look at life in a way that wove itself into so many lives without ever having to be "taught" or "preached". From skills, to values, to ways to look at life, Richard and Penny not only developed an amazing model of living but also found a way to extend it to touch others and, it was so much more than just "learning how to live and work a Farm". I will be forever grateful to them for what they have given me...


Day 223. The Grooming One.

I am a dog person. I adore all dogs and would probably sacrifice myself for my little puppero, Nittany. We are fortunate enough that we can do little things to take care of her. As she is a poodle, she doesn't shed, but does need to be groomed on a regular basis. This is always an agonizing decision - who do you leave your dog with for a day? Will they know, and care about, your dogs little quirks and personality? Will they do a good job? We have been blessed to find Peggy, who grooms our dog at her business, Wags and Whiskers.

What's great about Peggy's practice is that in addition to providing traditional "grooming" she also provides basic health record maintenance, skin care (don't read too much into this its just that Nittany has VERY dry skin and she'll use an oatmeal bath as much as necessary - we're not THAT obsessive about our dog ;) ), some key health checks, and basic training techniques for your dog on every visit. What's nice is that Peggy will openly share that she doesn't take every dog she could take as a client, she takes those with whom she feels a good connection with the owner and the dog. I do consider Peggy to be a friend of our family. She always takes time to visit with us when we drop Nittany off and pick her up, and she has definitely not only put up with our little pup's crazy behaviors but also spent some time with us teaching us some cool techniques and also reinforcing the training that we have done for her as well.

Sometimes, its just the little things, but a whole lotta little good things make for a good life and Peggy is a big part of making our lives happier, healthier and more positive.