Green is GOOD…

Cul-de-Sac Conundrum…

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Over the weekend my “bestie” and I hosted a neighborhood block party. To our surprise, it was a tremendous turnout and of such community spirit, we can’t wait to have another one. Why is it that we are surround by so many special people of so much depth and breath to life, that we rarely take the time to extend ourselves? My “T” is one of those women whom you can’t help but to soak up her non-stop energy, get drunk in her creative juices, and melt into her mushy heart. She is my true definition of the Midwest and the truth behind the saying “home is where your heart is”. “T” is that person who shows her soul with the world, shares your tears and your smiles, sprinkles her love for life onto everything she touches, expresses gratitude in ways that make tears fall from your eyes, and gets excited about those “little things” that the bulk of my address book is too bored to swallow. Trust me, being a transplant from the Midwest is challenging enough because people aren’t sure how to register your way of the world. However, having a partner in crime to capture the essence of a city built on entertainment and relish in its often silly attitude, is priceless. Just like my family, she keeps me grounded and my soul fed. The world can be a cruel place if there’s not a filter surrounding you, reminding you of its beauty and to lift you up–especially if submerged in an industry surrounded by a lot of “noise”. My wish for everyone is to have a friend to aid as ear muffs, to keep you full of love and light, and without judgement like my “T”.

Now for the “NA-NU, NA-NU” and serendipitous story tale of how our adult lives merged. Apparently our friendship dates back to decades past, where my father and “T’s” father conducted business and we were the wee ones tugging on our fathers’ shirt tails in the office. “T’s” father has been my father’s accountant for the past 25 plus years in Indiana so we found out. Years ago tax time, our fathers put two and two together, their daughters had dually migrated Hoosier blood to So Cal and were “Valley Girls” at that. The conversation grew deeper and deeper and more bazaar coincidences surfaced. The DING-DING DING moment was my father asking her father “Is your daughter a stunt woman by chance?” and her father asking my father ” Is your daughter in public relations and fashion?”… “Yes”….”Yes” they both said. Our fathers had determined we were literally next door neighbors, though “T” and I had already formed the most fabulous of friendship without even knowing our history. WEIRD, right? That was no accident. What is the likelihood of two friends stuck like glue who move into the same cul-de-sac, whose husbands play basketball together 3x a week (sidebar: we swear they hold hands on the way to the gym), friends all get along like peas and carrots, and love one another like family, to meet later in life and of such a “Butterfly Effect”? To have happenstance such as this and to have our friendship and families linked as we are, there is no doubt in my mind that things absolutely happen for a reason. I’m a believer!!! Happenstance makes for many heartstrings and we are far more connected than we are able to even wrap our heads around. Life IS beautiful like that. Amazeballs actually…

This year we lost a mutual dear friend to a job in the South. She’s what we used to call the new school version of yesteryear’s “Welcome Wagon”. Every time a resident had big news, needed help, or cause for a celebration, “R” was the one-stop shop for spreading the word and making things happen. From Christmas Caroling, welcoming new neighbors, Neighborhood Watch, or congratulating new births, “T” and I have had some monstrous shoes to fill to say the least. There’s no way we can be what “R” was to this community, but we attempted a spin-off version of her. A block party isn’t a block party without a neighborhood’s help, period. This past Sunday, we saw all sorts of new neighbors in the mix and realized community comes down to connecting the dots. People will make time if you help with the push. There were married couples, singles, elderly, moms, dads, single parents, and kids who hung out for four hours plus. We rocked out to a 70’s cover band, bounce house, free-flowing booze, and feasted on the most amazing pot luck spread I’ve ever seen. Gourmet a GO-GO!

Our neighbors went ALL OUT and so did my “T” with her “Witches Brew” and Halloween set up. Seeing as she has two kids under the age of two at home and had just come back from an art fair the day before where she was selling her homemade soy candles, “T” really is one of those mom’s who can DO IT ALL and DOES. Full of color and a modern-day version of Rainbow Brite, there wasn’t anything she hadn’t thought of. Most people would’ve fallen apart if their co-host had come down with a 24 hour bug the day of an event. Not my “T”…she blazed through the fire of making sure everything was on point and filled in the blanks as if she’d written the script ahead of time. I on the other hand, could barely get my Buffalo Chicken sliders out for showtime. Perrier was my salvation and so was my “T”. The hubby was pretty great, too. A bit of a knight in not so shiny armor, but rather Puma sweats I might say…he definitely got a dose of “Sister Wives” that day. Lots of requests from multiple women and a longer “Honey DO” list than usual.

In this life and as we add candles to the cake, it is times like these where you realize the importance of sitting back, putting your feet up, marinating your friendships, and taking the initiative to go out of your way to integrate your community. So much can be celebrated and learned from those around you. Friendship circles can grow bigger, BBQs can become more fun, and to your surprise you just may stumble into a new friend of commonality or shared street name. So today I salute my fellow Midwesterner, friends, family, and business partner who share these same values. I love my cul-de-sac, even though I always swore the suburbs would be the death of me back in the day. It’s funny how the years have frayed that viewpoint. Friendships grow where there is life and we all are very much alive. Open your doors, open your hearts, and take a chance on your community. Happy accidents to all and may you bounce in similar blessings…

Random Act of Kindness

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Over the weekend, Grandma turned 95 years old. To give you the back story on her independence to date, know that she still lives in the same house which  her three children were born in the 40’s, still drives, still does all her own cooking, cleaning, and laundry, and took care of Grandpa on her own up until his passing 2 years ago. Saying she is a remarkably strong woman is an understatement. She maneuvers around like a shiny, senior Corvette and proves it’s possible to “keep calm and carry on”. When asked her recipe for happiness, health, and staying so young at heart, she tells her grandchildren it’s all about keeping things simple, not to spend time worrying about things we can’t control, and commit to conversations with the younger generations to keep you on your toes.

With QVC being her one stop shop for a laptop, flat screen television, touch screen smart phone, roses, and clothes, there is something to say about she surfing through the signs of time.  Adaptability is key to so many things. It’s such a simple splash to save one’s sanity as the years progress, where the concept of change isn’t feared but rather embraced like the kind stuck in one’s car seats.  I try to keep Grandma’s motto in check in the age of everything trying to catch up to the speed of light, technology finding a way to link up all our accounts, electronics, etc, when work often bulldozes over the nuances, and the continuous societal struggle to remember that LESS IS MORE. It would be selfish not to spill her secrets and share the random act of kindness she experienced on her oh so special day.

Grandma’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren staged a surprise party for her at nearby hotel, where some of our family stay when in from out-of-town. Across the hall from our relatives in room #314, an unknown family, two adults and 3 children, were staying while their home was being finished by local builders. They saw a poster on room #315’s door announcing grandma’s 95th birthday. They took it upon themselves to knock on the door when they heard the livelihood of the party begin….noisy chatter, the singing of Happy Birthday, balloons popping, champagne popping, glasses clinking, and little children blowing whistles. The family presented grandmother with a gorgeous bouquet of a dozen ruby-red roses, wishing her many more years of good health and joy. The entire birthday party, including my grandma, could not believe this selfless act of extreme kindness by such a caring family. The three kids of the family across the hall were given a huge example by their parents of the joy and value of “giving to others.”

Bottom line, this was a reminder there is still GOOD in a world that often feels out of sync. When random acts of kindness like this strike, it is proof that the world has the ability to lead with its heart. A family who didn’t know our family or grandmother from Adam, wanted to share in the celebration for a life of 95 years and counting. These are the things that people remember for the rest of their lives. The little things truly are the big things that travel in an infinite way. Kindness does count and it’s up to we the people of this planet to give back through the art of “just because”. As Buddha once said, “Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity. This event was of truth, teaching, and celebration all wrapped into one giant package. Happy 95th birthday, Grandma….