Day 291. The Cool One (that I miss).

New Year's Eve everybody! Its here! Peripherally, I was aware that it was kinda cool to be 2010 and people have been tweeting about are we calling it "twenty ten" or "two thousand and ten". And, peripherally, I was aware that it was ten years since the big "Y2K scare". But it wasn't until I read my super cool friend Amber's post (p.s. follow her blog, she rocks) that i really started to think about those two things. TEN YEARS since Y2K. TEN YEARS! My how my life has changed. Y2K was special for me, I was in the very sweet spot of my twenties, still so clueless about so much, livin' the dream of the young person's life during the height of the dot-com era in DC. I had just discovered what would become my favorite city, San Francisco, and I was out there literally every other weekend (travelling for work every week did have its perks).

San Francisco meant - and still means - a lot to me. I learned a lot about developing into who I wanted to be when I was out there, mainly because of friends I met there. This one particular friend, K, was the one who lived there. The rest of us were just out there all the time. She had moved out there "just because she wanted to" (SOOOO cool). She lived in a cool place on Union Street. She knew cool places to eat, and she knew cool places to shop and she was just....Cool. And she was a true friend. We got to a place where, even when I was back on the East coast, we would chat (this was before texting and email, people, we had to use *gasp* PHONES!). We'd make plans to see each other and look forward to our time together.

We spent New Years Even 1998 together (in San Fran) somewhat randomly and then made "real" plans to spend New Years 1999 together, again, in San Fran. Her (future) mother-in-law (also cool) hosted a party and we all dressed up and had the kind of refined decadent new years celebration that you can only have when you're around people you love and you're, maybe just a little bit curious if all the pundits are right and the world is going to end because our computers won't be able to handle the data "00", and you figure that, well, at least you're on the West Coast so, if it all goes to hell you will have at least 3 more hours to party than the rest of the US and a bit of a heads up when New York comes crashing down.

TEN YEARS. That night was so fun - it was so important to me for reasons that are much more personal than anything I've described above.

There's just one problem, I met K because she was the girlfriend (now wife) of the best friend (since childhood) of the guy I was dating. And then that guy and I broke up...messy style. And, as social politics are likely to do (particularly in our 20's) K and I no longer talk. I saw her a few times after, and, she is too high a quality person to "not like someone because someone else doesn't" but she is also highly loyal, and, so while there's no negative energy, it was certainly awkward. So, I no longer get to have K in my life - these things happen. I know she's still out there and I have no doubt she's building a tremendous life. But I miss her, and remembering New Years, 1999, for some reason, today, has reminded me of her - strongly.

Happy New Years to you all - may you enjoy the moments you have because no matter the paths that follow, each moment, and each person, are the intangibles that really make a life. I am thankful that for however short, I had K in my life and I know that those with whom she shares herself are quite lucky.


Day 290. The Non-Rushing One.

Long story longer, to get home at night, I have to turn right, and then a few hundred yards later, turn left into my community. The road I turn onto is a one lane road with a fair amount of traffic and we are close to a mall, so this time of year in particular, it is very crowded with very impatient people.

I kinda dread driving home during this time of year - between potential ice & snow, and the angry drivers, and my desire to simply be home, its no fun sometimes backing up quite a few cars as I wait for a break to turn into "home".

Well, the other day, with cars rapidly backing up behind me, and a line of cars blocking me going the opposite way, one very kind driver stopped, and allowed me to pull in. This small act that took only a few seconds gave quite a few people a quicker route to where they were going and I'm sure it alleviated more than one person's high blood pressure.

I know nothing more than the fact that it was a woman driving a red minivan. So that's all I can tell you about this person. But I appreciate that she took the time to think of others - quite a few others in fact, and that even for one moment she thought it was ok to put others' needs before hers (even if it was just to get somewhere a few seconds faster).

Thank you!


Day 289. The Store One.

Over the holiday, we were with my in-laws and we were in Stephen's home town which is a very small, very "old school" community. There literally still is a "Main Street" and, excepting the summer months, the town is home only to locals...many of whom have lived there all their lives and who have raised their families and built their life there. It could be easy to stereotype these people but I find that more often than not, their perspective and approach to life can ground one to what's really important. One such lesson we learned again on Christmas eve.

Christmas eve, my sister-in-law, mother-in-law and I decided to walk Main St. to visit a few of the little stores that line the way. Many stores are "cutesy" boutiques that often, will last a few years until they find that their niche or prices doesn't sustain them based on tourist traffic that only exists a few months a year. We happened upon a little store, tiny but rich in its creative wares and warm, but not over pressuring owner. We bought a few things there and commented on how different, yet practical, so many items were. I've thought about that store quite frequently since our visit and I realized just how badly I want them to succeed.

Its the owner of that store I think of, and highlight today. The store is a realization of a dream that now balances the reality of having a business with still having a life. (Open the day-or weekend-after Christmas? NO. Time to be home with family)

How few of us follow an idea through from concept to inception? How many of us have a dream (little or big) and make it happen - even when examples of similar attempts, that are more often than not unsuccessful, litter the path in front of us? How many of us are confined by restrictions due to required money, or obligations or comfort/stres level? Often I wish I could be bold enough, confident enough to think that a tiny little seed of an idea I had is something that I could turn into reality.

When you walk around any business - realize that it started with someone taking some crazy leap of turning an idea into something that they had no guarantee would work.

I literally pray that this store is there when we return in the Spring. And I guarantee that I will make it a habit to go and shop there frequently - not only because i like the product, but because I believe in supporting this owner who is trying to make a dream into a reality.


Day 288. The Really Really Smart One.

Christmas is only a few days away, and, as someone who believes in this holiday in the Christian way, I tend to reflect on it a bit differently. Part of what I always think about is how I really appreciate the way I have learned about the bible. First, my father had a brief stint in seminary in his early life and so he has always studied the bible in an academic way - with the greek, the latin and quite a few other translations at his fingertips. I have no doubt that it was this thought process that helped our family pick the church that we've attended since I was little - the only church I've ever known.

Our church evolved out of a bible study and it still holds that same focus. You should have seen me going to friends' churches as a small child, the rituals of standing, sitting, singing, and a more "life lesson" sermon were things that were new to me. You see, our pastor was elected by the original bible study to be our leader. He is brilliant - he worked with Einstein back in the day - and is literally one of those rocket scientist types. His extreme thirst for knowledge has translated to how he studies the bible and how he challenges us. A sermon is not a 25 minute time period of him talking at us, its him sharing his study and what he has found and inviting discussion and debate. He cites greek, and latin and the differences between this word for "prayer" and that word for "prayer" in the original language. The man can recite the entire King James translation...by heart.

I appreciate our paster, Art, for what he brings to the study of religion. He brings intense critical thinking and also intense balance of faith. His knowledge is flat out astounding. At this time of year, I always reflect on what I have learned as the reason for the season, and have tremendous appreciation for the ways in which I have been taught about religion - not with guilt, or intense focus on ritual for ritual's sake, but for seeking understanding and knowledge and, sometimes, just going forward on faith. Because sometimes, even outside of religion, that's all you've got to get you through.

I don't write this to convince anyone to think any certain way about the holiday of Christmas, but I just want to recognize someone who has truly sought knowledge and had the most incredible capacity for belief, and love, and education and debate - more than pretty much anyone I know.


Day 287. The Verifying One.

We live in America, and that means we each get to have our own opinion. I have always thought that is a good thing, the problem is, that sometimes, our opinions take over...and get stirred up and misconstrued as "truth" or, worse yet, they become weapons in a philosophical war instead of a building block for understanding and communication.

Yesterday, I was reminded how rich and refreshing it is to find someone who will seek out information first before jumping to conclusions. I'm not going into depth about the issue at hand because that is not what this post is about, what this post IS about is Jeff. Jeff is someone I know rather casually - but I have gained a bit of access into his life and I have always appreciated how he lives his life and what he shares about himself and his family. Yesterday, Jeff reached out to me out of the blue, to ask for information on something that he knows I'm familiar with. Its a touchy subject and so, I was particularly pleased to know that someone was seeking out the information about it before jumping to a conclusion. I wrote a rediculously long explanation to him and he received it gracefully.

I haven't really followed up on the issue since - and honestly, whether or not Jeff shares the same opinion as I do doesn't matter. What DOES matter is that Jeff is someone who cares enough to find out as much as he can about something before just running on hearsay or jumping to conclusions. This is one of the values I hold most dear in life.

Jeff could vehemently disagree with me for the rest of our lives (on this issue or any other) and honestly, I would love that because I know enough to know that Jeff is thoughtful in his opinions and positions. To know people like this is to ensure that you will always be able to back up your decisions about what you think and what you do. In my opinion, this is behavior to emulate. Period.


Day 284...Cont'd...

Often times my husband and I get into arguments about "talking about people". He calls it gossip, I try to explain to him that in most cases (yes, I fall prey to gossiping), its how women work to understand people. Tiger Woods has provided food for thought on that one for sure...everyone's talking about him, and I like to believe that the circle I've been talking about this all with haven't been sensationalizing but learning...

Tonight my friend Soren posted a unique and tremendously interesting perspective...please take a moment to read this and think...think.

Arguably, a month ago, Tiger Woods could have been a candidate for my blog. Is he still? Will he ever be again? Discuss...cause I am not sure either.


Day 286. The Sonoma One.

I hang out with a lot of chefs. I am married to an amateur one (who at the last minute turned down his acceptance to CIA but I digress). Perhaps it's because I love food, or perhaps its because I admire this particular brand of creativity...but I am really blessed to hang out with (and eat the creations of!) the chefs I know. This one particular one, DK, is someone who will always be with me, at least in spirit, because when I met him, the very last thing I found out about him was that he was a chef. He was the brother of the best friend of a guy I was dating (got it?) and he was just super cool and super fun. He was just my friend D. He was wild and crazy and awesome.

You can imagine my surprise when we went to the restaurant he was cooking at in San Francisco. I went with a girlfriend of mine, and when we sat down, the server told us that D. would be taking care of the menu. Thus proceeded three hours of true culinary bliss...only magnified that as I ate one of my top 5 all time meals, I was shocked to realize this was all coming from a guy I just knew as a fun friend. There's something supremely powerful and intimate about seeing someone you know socially reveal their true gift and passion. That is what that night was all about.

I've eaten at some of the other restaurants D. has worked at and I've eaten at his very own restaurant (the first one...) in Napa. I've had the chance to follow his career through culinary channels as well. He's won extremely prestigious awards and, well, let me say that if you follow some of the more popular food shows you've seen him on one particular one...twice.

While D. and I don't talk much anymore, I still consider him a friend and he continues to be a beacon to me of what living life fully is all about. He will always personify doing everything fully - living, being with friends, working, following your passion. I don't think I've ever seen D. at less than 100% going. I am keeping some of the identifying details out of this post because I don't want to be accused of riding on a celeb's coattails or anything...but, should your mind go there, the reason I am writing about this incredible man today is because what everyone else knows him for was the last thing I knew about him and the least of the reasons why I value him and what he puts into the world.


Day 285. The Ageless One.

Kay is a friend who lives in Munich who I met through one of those "friend of a friend" scenarios. We've barely had time to really connect and we've probably seen each other a total of a few days over the past few years and a few visits by me to Germany. But, Kay is still awesome and I know this for a fact.

First and formost, the fact that I consider Kay a friend is a testament to how welcoming he is to people and how kind of heart he is. If you saw Kay, this might not be your first impression. He exudes "cool" and lives the life a lot of guys dream of - great girlfriend, great condo, great car, great clothes, hip hangouts - you get the picture. But I feel like I know Kay to be a devoted person - devoted to who he is, to his friends, and to having a great time in life. I was reminded of this through one of those funny little random Facebook exchanges that happened last night through another of our mutual friends. We were joking about the validity of people over 30 being on Facebook (note: Kay and I are over 30, the other person, not so much...love ya, Jim). And somewhere along our pithy, silly little comments Kay said something to the effect that age is just a state of mind. Kay personifies this - talk about someone who enjoys life and wants to take you along for the ride...

Age is a state of mind. Right you are my friend. Right you are. Cheers!


Day 284. The Imperfect One.

Hey did you hear about Tiger Woods?

I know, I know. You're probably rolling your eyes right now. But the story of a random early morning accident followed by stalling the police and then ultimately an admission of an affair is everywhere. There's been a lot of discussion about "right" vs. "wrong" not only in the actual series of events but how the series of events was handled. The discussion has also move to whether we should even care or be made aware of anything other than Tiger's golf career. I've been thinking about that.

So, today, I am picking the unlikely candidate of Charles Barkley. Yep. Who knew? Sir Charles has certainly had his own set of issues. He is far from perfect. Here's the trick, and here's why I like him. He acknowledged both of those things early on. Some of you may be too young to remember his "I Am Not a Rolemodel" commercials for Nike. In my opinion, they didn't get enough air time. The message was clear - Charles (and Nike) knew he was a very good basketball player but that is where emulating him should stop. If you want to know how to live your life, how to interact with people, what morals to have, what to do with your money, do NOT look to Charles.

When you really think about our celebrity focused culture these days, and really think about what we think we have a right to know its crazy. Its also crazy to think about why is someone famous in the first place (i mean, c'mon, "being hot"? Is that really enough of a criteria? You have good genes?)

Anyway, I'm not defending Tiger in all that's gone down, nor am I blaming him. But we are expecting too much from some people for the wrong reasons. I urge you to consider thinking about your heroes as Charles Barkley advised - respect them for their unique talents but don't be lazy and use that as an excuse to think that a person is "perfect". And if you're blessed enough to be "talented" try focusing on only sharing that part of your life and reminding us that is the only area of your life to be studied. (I mean really, what does Tiger Woods have to do with selling Razors, really?)

P.S. I'm getting off my soapbox now
P.P.S. Special thanks to those on Twitter who engaged in debate with me about this. I enjoyed your points and perspective immensely. The way we were talking about this was not a simple thing