Day 283. The Cleaning Ones.

Last night, my husband had the cool privilege to play with his hockey team on the main ice after the Columbus Blue Jackets game. We had about 30 minutes to mill about while we waited for the zamboni to finish its work, the arena to clear of CBJ fans, and our team to change into their gear. This also gave us PLENTY of time to walk a fair distance from our seats in the next to last row of the arena to front row seats at center ice.

What do you notice when you cover pretty much every row in a 20,000 person arena? You notice how sloppy we are when we aren't in our own space. Every possible thing that was sold at a concession stand last night was now on the floor in some form or another: nachos, peanuts (and their shells), soda, beer, ice cream, popcorn, chili, etc. Ewwww.

While we waited for our team to play the cleaning crew began their work. There's no way to automate this. There's no machine to sweep every seat, and cupholder, and part of the floor (all around the seats and in the aisles). Human labor is required to pick up every item and place it in the trash. I never got a proper count, but there were not that many men and women assigned to the task of cleaning every single one of the 20,000 spots for fans - the most I counted were 15 cleaning staff.

This team worked before our game, during our game, and were continuing their work after we were done (and they were not even half way through the arena). This is thankless work. This is important work. Its important for the brand of our hockey team, for health reasons, for longevity of the facility and attractiveness of our city for other events. But noone sees it, noone appreciates it, and in fact, most just add to it.

So, although I was able to only thank 3 or 4 of the cleaning staff personally last night, I want them all to know that their work is valuable and important and noticed, if only by the fact that noone complains about a dirty seat when they sit down in the arena the next time. I also took this lesson as a reminder that its my job to keep the areas that my life impacts as clean as possible. If you wouldn't throw down a half eaten container of popcorn in your house, don't do it at a public facility. If you don't leave peanut shells on your living room floor, or don't plan on cleaning it up yourself, don't make a mess elsewhere. It goes above personal responsibility. It goes to individual respect - the men and women who cleaned up after all of us last night are good, hard working, kind people and they don't need to pick up after me because I'm too lazy to do it.

I appreciate the work that this team did into the wee hours of the morning and I appreciate that they reminded me to not just expect others to take care of my stuff :)


Day 282...Sort of...Breaking the Rules...

I feel like I am always rehashing this point of this blog. I feel like I am beating a dead horse when I so blatantly say that the whole point is to acknowledge those we love, respect, honor while they are here to receive the gift of our appreciation.

And then...well, life takes over. And one gets busy...and one (like myself) starts to search perhaps too much for who to write about next - who to thank next. This person is too famous, this person probably already gets so much praise...and then you remember that no matter what, no matter how "famous", no matter if someone knows you or not...tell them they mean something.

Tonight we lost someone who I have always loved so dearly for who she was and what she represented. Not only in terms of her fight against breast cancer but in terms of having one of the most amazing love stories I have ever known.

Tonight - I am sorry that I never acknowledged this person while she was here...maybe she would have never known that I wrote about her. But I would have known that I tried. Don't ever stop trying to tell those you love, appreciate, respect that you do so...

Now please read >> THIS


Day 281. The Chicken One.

This post will remain anonymous today. But I know someone who has recently taken a new direction in life. I don't know all the details as to why - but I do know that this person made a big difference in every path they have ever followed.

The recent times that had our lives intersect taught me that this person - a woman - is the epitome of women in leadership as I'd hope to see them: smart, passionate, strong, gets stuff done, eloquent, and all while wearing great shoes. During our time "Together" she brought hope, clarity and, at least for me, provided a sense of calm and direction in ever changing landscapes.

I know that she can, and has, made a lot happen in the world. I would argue she has also made a lot happen, even without trying, for women in the workplace.

I know that the only constant is change and so, while I am saddened to see new directions being forged, I am happy to have been aware of this person for even a brief time and I wish her all the best.

Sorry to be so vague - but in the off chance that this "One" does read this she'll know - and that's the point!

Day 280. The Staging One.

So many moons ago I volunteered as the Race Chair for the Race for the Cure in Columbus Ohio. Its still one of the most fun, and most rewarding things I've done. You meet a lot of cool people and you particularly appreciate those who let you haggle them down to an insanely low price because you are a non-profit organization.

One of the coolest people I met was John Page. To meet John is just to meet this completely genuine, positive, nice person. He is a caring friend, father and husband. He'll spend time really getting to know you. He always comes into a situation with an open mind and a particular strength: he will always pay a compliment - just because he likes something that someone has done.

But John isn't just a good person - he is extremely talented "audio visual genius" (yes that's MY term LOL). John owns a company that does staging and event production. He did all our sound, staging, and production for the Columbus Race's for the Cure while I was chair and did many before my time and I hope will continue to do many more. John is often the missing piece in bringing a creative concept into reality. He'll figure out a way to get staging to represent a ring of hope. He'll move heaven and earth to get just the right kind of bleachers (that the City requires) so that our Survivors don't have to stand.

I've also had the opportunity to witness other events John has put on - and again, its nothing short of genius. He blends seamlessly into any event and makes it bigger and better.

I just saw John last weekend after far too long. He remains the tremendous visionary, friend and businessman as I knew him to be.


Day 279. The Singing One.

Words can't do this justice - but anyone who can put such beauty into the world deserves thanks, recognition and more. I always am in awe of her...

...seriously, where the heck does that voice come from?!?!?! And she's so flippin' cute!!!

Day 278. The Multi-Tasking One.

You may or may not remember that when I came back from Europe in September I had a broken MacBook, an essential need for my computer, and two days to get everything fixed (and adjust to jetlag, and catchup on work, oh and prepare to ride 220 miles on a bike!)

My saint of a husband did a ton of coordination for me to help get appointments set up at the Apple Store so that we could a) get a new computer b) turn in the old one to get fixed c) get all the data converted from the old one so I could be up and running for the next day. So, already awake for 20+ hours, I headed to the Easton Apple store directly from the airport upon landing on Columbus.

To say I was not 100% present mentally would be an understatement. To say Apple hadn't been the most helpful to this point - again - an understatement. In fact, with Stephen scheduling so many appointments the store and different employees, had attempted to cancel one, if not all, of our concurrent appointments assuming we made a mistake.

Luckily the personal shopper assigned to us was the manager. When we walked up, he had the kind, unassuming look of a nice uncle. I immediately prejudged him to be another "brother geek" but someone just enjoying work at the Apple store. Boy was I wrong. This kind man not only knew everything and anything about all the Apples but he turned to out to be the person that had advocated for us even before we got there when people kept asking if they should cancel our duplicate appointments. He also talked with us a lot about customer service and how that was his primary focus and responsibility at the store. Working with someone who not only knew their stuff but valued the way in which business was transacted was exactly what cranky, tired, jetlagged Ali needed.

He even escorted us appointment to appointment and kept checking up on us throughout our visit. We got out of Apple in record time. With everything we needed and more.

Day 277. The Young One.

When I was working with a team of staff and volunteers this past year on the Swiss Race for the Cure, we were blessed to come across two women living in Zurich who were breast cancer survivors. One of them, a young, vibrant, amazing woman is called Pia.

Pia is the daughter of a survivor and now has battled the disease herself at too young an age. Yet she remains full of life and as so many young survivors have the skill to do, she has embraced life even more fully. She is so very passionate about raising awareness and support structures for people affected by breast cancer. She was our most constant contact to the Swiss Race throughout all our planning and implementation. On Race day, she rallied her own friends and family to come out and race or volunteer. She took on the least glamorous volunteer jobs with pride and positivity focused always on the bigger picture. And then she even was willing with her partner to be my chauffer all over Zurich during my stay there (not an easy task!)

You see, in Switzerland, cancer and awareness of the disease doesn't get the same treatment it does here. The Swiss are extremely private about their health and breast cancer is a taboo topic. To be willing to step up and lead the charge for this cause and be willing to say "I am a Breast Cancer Survivor" is not something to be taken lightly. It is Pia's belief in the cause, and dare I say in herself, that gives her a strength that truly impresses the heck out of me.

We're looking to make even bigger changes that will promise even bigger growth for the Race is Switzerland in the coming year...and I know we wouldn't even be thinking that we could do it without Pia. I'm so glad that we have become friends.

** the man in this picture is Peter, Pias significant other. Another truly amazing man. Every woman deserves to be treated the way Peter treats Pia.


Day 276. The Mix Tape One.

** Disclaimer: certain (younger) age groups may not be able to identify with this post at all. ;)

Back when I was in high school, music was still mainly consumed through cassette tapes. CD's were just starting to be around - but they were very expensive. Records were still around, but tapes could be played in your car AND if you had, wait for it, a dual deck tape player, you could make a copy of a tape OR a MIX TAPE!

My friend Erin and I arguably made an art of this in our college days...we were anal enough that we would plan out the list of songs, and then mathematically figure out how to fill each side of a tape almost completely. (Want to know the perfect song for 2 minutes, 30 seconds? I still know a few - you want slow, fast or emo?) There was a real art to making mix tapes - and I STILL have all my best ones but the real credit goes to the person who taught me how...a guy named Mike M.

Senior year of high school, Mike and I were the kind of friends who knew each other and if we were around each other could talk forever about the subject at hand, but we were mostly casual friends - not really seeing each other outside of school or anything. Well, come Spring, Mike said to me "let's start making each other mix tapes". A few days later I got this shocking piece of "technology" - the cassette case wasn't just the lined label with a list of songs - it was a beautiful graphic (cut from a magazine and glued on but remember, this was the early 90's people). There was a "title" for the album - assembled in cool typeface and again put, what was considered professionally, on the case.

Then there was the music. High school kinda forms your musical tastes I think. High school also offers a lot of kids up as fodder to the Top 40 radio stations. Its easy to get lazy in what good music is - and this is the stuff that's gonna stay with you forever so it better end up being good and stand the test of time (I can still mimic the entire Thriller dance - don't judge). Anyway - most, if not all, of the music Mike would put on my mix tapes was stuff I'd never heard by artists I'd never heard of. It was cool, it was challenging, and it was affecting.

Those of you who know me now know how important music is to me - it truly serves as the soundtrack of my life. I've come to have such a broad spectrum of musical tastes, and comfort with that, based on the exploration that Mike's mix tapes started some many years ago.

I haven't seen Mike in years - and I think the last time was a last second recognition among the throngs of people at an Ohio State game. But he truly impacted my life and something that has become one of my most cherished daily elements. Now the music I love and recommend and buy often reminds me of Mike and the gift he probably didn't ever know he gave. :)

Day 275. The Hugging One.

So yesterday was my friend Teresa's birthday. We went to see her for a celebratory drink (big deal - Stephen detached himself from the Yankee's game MID-game!) and as we walked in Teresa immediately jumped up to hug each of us.

I'm a big believer in hugs - thing is, that I'd rather not get a hug than get a fake one. You know the type, they never really touch you, or there is no feeling in them, or you feel like you're getting one for obligation. Yeah - skip those hugs. But a real hug? A real hug is just amazing. You feel loved. You feel appreciated. You feel connected. Well that's how Teresa hugs.

Teresa is someone I haven't known a long time - actually we bonded rather randomly dancing to bad top 40 music while avoiding having to play volleyball. And this was just a month or so ago. But we clicked. Teresa is warm, she is interested in getting to know you, and she is interested in building relationships and connections. At the very same time, Teresa has not an ounce of "fake" about her. She's real. She's really really real.

Every time we're about to see Teresa now, both Stephen and I comment before and after seeing her how much we enjoy her. And last night, Stephen said, "she just knows herself and she's comfortable with herself". When you see this in action you realize how rare it is. And I, for one, truly see now how liberating it is to be able to embrace life when you don't have to worry hyperanalyzing your own silly little things.

Happy belated birthday (again) my new friend, Teresa. You're a very good person


Day 274. The Marathon One.

Yesterday, Meb Keflezighi won the New York City Marathon. I recognize that marathon running doesn't top the headlines on the news or on ESPN, but if you follow running, this was a pretty cool thing. Many are touting this as exciting as the first time that an American has won the NYC marathon since 1982. But, for me, its so much more exciting simply because its Meb.

Meb has been a competitive runner for years. And, in my mind, he's had far too long a history of coming in second. In the 2004 Olympics, in countless other NYC marathons, he's been second or third. He's been always "almost there" but he's never won "the big one". Meb ran New York the year I did. So sitting in our hotel room that year it brought his story even closer to home.

Thing is, quite a few competitive runners will drop out of Races if they aren't in a money making position - its too much on their bodies (and too demanding a recovery) if they aren't going to get something "big" out of it. Meb has quietly soldiered on (he even had some press in a Master Card Commercial) working hard and waiting. Its this perseverance that i admire, and that meant the most to me out of all the other things people will say about his victory. Yay, Meb. I'm so excited for you that you now can bask in the glory you've worked so hard for and only watched from the sideline for far too long.