Day 313. The Not Too Famous to Help One.

I like it when people who are really well known for something just come out and boom! knock your socks off with another aspect of themselves that is equally impressive.

So I'll be brief - but when I was little Georgetown Basketball was THE program (during our 8th grade trip to DC I swear I think our class bought every street vendor out of those blue and white "Georgetown Hoya's" sweatshirts with the dog on them). And, during a high school experience that focused a lot on basketball, yeah, Alonzo Mourning was pretty awesome. So that's how he's been defined in my mind - a really good basketball player...with some interesting life stories (see kidney transplant).

And hey, look, if I was famous - which Alonzo easily is - you can bet I'd think twice about dealing with "the public" from time to time. Like it or not, the loss of one's anonymity isn't as easy to deal with as we might all think.

So then I read this today. And its pretty freaking cool. Way to go 'Zo! Now I know you for a heck of a lot more (and better!) reasons than before.


Day 312. The Open One.

I have blogged about this person before here but, as you know, from time to time there are people who deserve repeats ;).

I've been thinking about this post for a while because to be honest, I grappled with how much to share about this person as I feel that there is a fine line between revealing someone's story for the beauty within it and putting something out there as a spectacle. But, I've come down on the side of sharing it ALL because this person already has chosen to put it out there and honestly, I like to think my readers will take this in with respect and compassion.

So - my friend Anne. Anne lives in Switzerland now (she used to be in Germany) and I have long admired her passion for really being open about herself and with others because its beyond obvious that she is building lasting and real connections with the people who come in to her life. I have long admired her ability to put a lot of stuff out there into the world (the internal censor in my head often gets the best of me).

So you get it - Anne's cool. Ok. Point made. But late last year, Anne shared something very private and very personal - and that is that she is struggling with an eating disorder and has finally decided to seek treatment and get healthy. I will refer you to Anne's blog HERE should you care to know more about her journey and its specifics. But I will tell you that I cannot express enough how in awe I am of her for putting this out there. I think we can all agree that "eating disorders" are one of those things that right, wrong, or indifferent, often carry a weird stigma in society. Its something that's hard to understand and even harder to "fix" so its part of that big list of things that we often aren't willing to talk about or deal with so we sweep it under the carpet admist sideways glances and whispers.

Anne is sharing a very real journey that is raw and honest and has truly started to open my eyes to all that she is facing and feeling. I know I cannot truly understand what she is dealing with but she is willing to put so much out there that, selfishly, it makes it easier to be there to support her. I don't know what to say or what advice to give but I can celebrate the small victories she shares and offer encouragement when she tells us she needs it.

While, again, I know that I don't know enough about recovery to offer "advice"...there is so much that I see that makes me believe that Anne will beat this thing - first of all, she WANTS to, and second, even when she is struggling with the emotional toll this takes on her, in the midst of her negative, I can often see in her words that she's smart enough to be aware of what she's doing and see what needs to change. So many of us are complete un-selfaware that it is this strength that only deepens my belief that Anne is gonna make it through this - no matter how long it may take. What's that saying "knowing is half the battle?" Well there you go.

To me Anne is forever strong, beautiful, witty, honest and caring. Anne - your profile - which I love by the way - says, "I like being a mess...its who I am". Well darlin' we are ALL a mess in our special ways - KNOW THAT (I always say every person has their own special brand of crazy ;) ) and I love you, mess or not, because its part of what makes you beautiful to me.


Day 311. The Life is Good One.

I have a little good luck charm in my life that sometimes subtly, sometimes not so much, reminds me to get back into this project...an email from him today reminded me to keep on looking for the good, so here it goes :)

Stephen and I just returned from a much needed sojourn to the Keys. Many of you may know that the Keys is a lifelong special place for me so whenever we go there everything is brighter, better, happier. Anyway, we went to celebrate my birthday/our anniversary and thus celebrated with one special dinner at the newer restaurant that is on our Key. We had a very nice young man (trust me - I've had too many instances lately reminding me I am no longer "young" ;) ) who was our server.

He was doing a fine job and, because everyone's nametag said where they were from, Stephen commented as he was from Pennsylvania (the boy will simply just not let it go! ;) ). So we learned that this guy (and I'm paraphrasing) was from Pennsylvania, had played football for a time at Tennessee, then attendeed LSU after an injury and then ended up in Hawaii. After the job market tanked, he eventually ended up in the Keys where he is staying for six months to see how life is there and then - eventually - he'll end up back in Hawaii as that is his "special place".

I didn't realize it just then as we talked to him throughout dinner (I was too busy dying over the food), I simply thought it was just a pretty cool story of a pretty cool life experience so far and then I realized therein lies a special message: sometimes the greatest thing we can do is live life and constantly blend that which is handed to us with that which we want. This server doesn't have huge aspirations of this or that "goal" or this or that "Salary", he's going where things take him - while making sure he enjoys it. He's doing it responsibly and with a plan in place but he's definitely riding the wave. I would wager that someday, when he's old, he'll be able to look back and realize that he jumped at a lot of opportunities along the way - and that will make him just as happy as when he was living these times.

Sometimes, we don't have to work hard or complete an exemplary act to be "special" or "good" - we simply need to live life fully and that will allow us to be happy and thus share that happiness with others - even in just being ourselves.

Go do something you've always wanted to do - Go take advantage of an option presented to you - Go be happy.


Day 310. The Japanese One.

The devastation we have seen from the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan have been unimaginable. With every passing day, the imagery that comes from this small country gets more alarming. I hate being old enough to not only have pain in my heart for what has already happened, but to have too much comprehension of what work lies ahead to restore this country and its people to where it was only a few short days ago.

Admittedly, I have always had a soft spot in my soul for Japan. I have forever admired their culture, their art, their philosophies. At age 8 I was eating sushi like it was my job. At 15 I started studying the language as soon as it was offered at my school and continued through college. I have a life's dream to someday go to Japan. I've been enamored with all things Japanese a) because I liked Japan and b) because stuff like Sushi is damn good; for a long long time.

But watching this coverage has helped crystallize one of the reasons I have such affection for this country. While the destruction is unfathomable, have you noticed the absence of things like violence, total hysteria, looting? Divert your eyes from the massive walls of water pummeling through towns and watch the people - always acting with respect towards another even in times of sheer panic. Hundreds wait patiently to receive even a small ration of food, others check on their neighbors or...

...this was the moment. On "Good Morning America" this morning, Diane Sawyer visited many of the most devasted areas. Walking up to a small group of locals, Diane practices the manners she was obviously coached in - a proper bow..."konnichi-wa"...and a man, with obviously almost nothing left offers her food as an act of welcome and hospitality. (watch the video below starting around the 2:00 mark - although the whole thing is powerful)

Now here's my point - you can't tell me that this man doesn't know enough to know that an obviously western reporter probably has enough resources to get some food if she wants it - she clearly had access to resources to fly halfway around the world, with a translator and camera crew. Diane Sawyer is experiencing nowhere near the hardship that this man has and will continue to experience and he knows that. And I would bet that he is painfully aware of just how little food and water he has. But, his spirit overrode that logic. Be it programmed manners or the "Japanese way" something led him to care more about his guest...even if his "home" was a bunch of stools pulled up around a table. It led him to say "we have enough, please take this" and it came across so strongly that, humbled, Diane and her translator knew to take the offering because to not do so would have offended this man deeply.

Ask yourself, if you had lost everything - EVERYTHING, EVERY THING - would you still care for others? Would you give the last of what you own - clothes, food, water - to a stranger? The heart that empowers a man to do this is a powerful thing. The fact that this appears to be the heart that rests in not only this man but in an entire nation is a beautiful thing.

And so - while the tragedy continues with every passing minute, I stand in awe of this one Japanese man and his simple act of generosity that embodies a culture that could teach us a lot...if we let it.

My prayers are with you, Japan.


Day 309. The Arch One(s).

So given my posting history of late, I could easily cheat and make this post that is about more than one person count for more than one day...but nope, we're gonna go with this! :)

This post is, again, about hockey. Not a fan? Please don't stop reading because this is not really about the sport. To, once again, sum up the position from which I sit, I am a fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that hasn't really lit it up in the league. We're on a great roll right now but the team has been around for 10 years which, apparently, according to some, is the maximum amount of time allowed before fans are allowed to become "disgruntled". (To those people I offer exhibit A: Detroit Lions, B: Chicago baseball, C: Cleveland Browns, D: Penn State Football, E: Cincinnati Begals...you get the picture.)

Anyway! I've talked a lot about my definition of a fan: ultimately, at the end of the day, you, as a fan decided to root for this team and therefore, you, as a fan, should support your team. I'm very hesitant to really judge anyone because, noone has ever watched my every move at work and critiqued it real time and also, I can guarantee that I'm not going to be able to suit up and do any better than any athlete I've ever thought did even their worst. I try to be an optimist, I want the best for most everyone, so ultimately a fan supports, a fan cheers, a fan endures.

Well the "disgruntled" attitude I had talked about was taking over Nationwide Arena where the Blue Jackets play. Weirdly enough, I had started saying to Stephen that I really wished we could sit in a section with people who get jacked up and cheer (one crazy lady yelling at the top of her lungs in a Derek Dorsett jersey doesn't always make the largest impact). And then I started to hear rumors of the "Arch City Army".

To summarize, this is a group of fans who while only in their 20's have borrowed their concept from supporters of our local soccer team (yeah, who knew?) to cheer, chant, sit together and overall raise the sound levels all in support of our beloved Blue Jackets. This group of young guys, Zach, Brian, Manuel (I know I'm missing a couple more) turned their little idea into a group of almost 400 fans who lite up twitter, the group page on Facebook and the Arena when they are there. They are getting lots of local press love. These guys also always advocate for taste, minimal profanity, respect to other fans and good sportsmanship - all while building a cool group culture and tradition.

How do I know this group is striking a chord? You can buy a membership to ACA, and just under 400 people have said "yes, this is a team we love, we want to do what we can to support them, and even if we do lose, we still are tried and true loyal fans...I like what you're doing here - where do I sign up and give you my money?". As an "older person" (you should have seen the looks on these young guys faces when I picked up my membership card ;) to see this idea flourish under the leadership of some "young guys" really makes me happy and, dare I say it, a little bit proud?

The details of sports and hockey aside, what I have loved most is seeing proof that if you believe in something, if you have a good idea, put it out there fight for it -- you're bound to find people who believe in you and with you. Even more importantly, there are a ton of people out there who just need a spark of positive energy to release the same within themselves. I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone say about this group something along the lines of "so glad you did this I've really wanted something like this..." Feeling afraid to put out the Pollyanna vibe? Trust me there ARE others out there like you - and like attract like.

This group has really brought a lot to the fan community and the arena environment - and again, I think that's a lesson to extrapolate to pretty much any aspect of life.

Arch City Army continues to grow and I am proud to be an inaugural member. Even if that means just a Facebook post, or a cheer during a game or just knowing someone else out there is "believing" it makes a difference.

Check ACA out on Twitter and Facebook.

They are getting a lot of good buzz and I can only hope it continues :) Well done, guys, well done!