Sunday, February 27, 2011


How many times have we uttered "I am so famished" in our lifetimes? For 8,000 children a day, hunger leads to death. We really have no idea ...

...which is why I am so proud to be a member of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Tallahassee. Holy Comforter's youth group participates in the 30 Hour Famine each year. The Famine is a 30-hour fast (only juice is consumed) sponsored by World Vision. Through their participation in the Famine, the youth raise funds for World Vision with the purpose of funding projects in developing countries that will aid sustainable development of agricultural and hydrating systems. 

Each year, World Vision selects one country to focus on for the creation of games, studies, and other activities to help the youth better understand the dire food shortages in other countries. This year, World Vision chose Haiti.

The Famine is observed through a 30 Hour Famine Lock-in; the youth started at noon on Friday, February 25 and broke their fast with communion at 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 26. During the event, the youth participated in a service project that raised awareness of the needs in Tallahassee while recognizing the growing needs in other communities.

I met with the youth group briefly Wednesday night to learn a bit about their expectations (as well as the experiences of "veterans").  Our youth shared these comments:

"We raise money to give to a country that World Vision picks out." (Chris)

"We do a service project." (Youth Group Member)

"Food never tasted so good as when the Famine ends." (Matthew)

"We helped at the food closet last year." (Christina)

"My family plans to help Honduras in addition to participating in the Famine through Living Water for Roatan." (Bailey)

"My parents were astonished." (Youth Group Member)

"One of our goals is to raise $360." (Logan) (Note: if the group raises $360 they have raised enough to help feed and care for a child for a year.)

It's not just youth who invest emotionally and physically in the Famine. Our Assistant Priest, Mother Teri, shared her nervous excitement about participating in the Famine for the first time. She said she had never gone without food for that long and admitted her apprehensions. She also said that our Priest, Father Ted, had shared that facing those anxieties is probably something that the Famine will help her do - this will be a needed step in her spiritual journey. I caught up with Mother Teri after the Famine ended, and she had this to say:

This time together helped us to bond more as a group, but the bonding was just the beginning. Because we didn't have anything in our stomachs for 30 hours, it helped us spiritually to got more in touch with ourselves, our goals, values, and most importantly, our brothers and sisters in Christ across the world. We watched videos on the devastation in Haiti, participated in activities that helped us to understand lack of food, water, and education, and helped each other understand our desires for the future. We walked away from this experience knowing that we were different and that we would make a difference in our world from now on.

Other churches in Tallahassee participated in the Famine also, such as St. Paul's United Methodist Church. My daughter's friend, Genna, participated at St. Paul's and had this to say: 

  "it was amazing, we did sooo many activities that it was impossible to think about eating. i loved it so much."

To quote from the 30 Hour Famine materials: 

Like all things, progress begins with a first step.
History begins with a single word.
And sometimes that word is "NO."

(special thanks to Bailey Spitzner for significant contributions to the text of this post)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Don't Drive on the Grass (A Mama Kat Writing Workshop Prompt)

I eagerly await Tuesdays because I know another quintet of writing prompts will arrive in my in-box from Mama Kat and I will then visit to be "assigned" a prompt for the week. This week's assignment, "describe a time when someone was proud of you," seemed deceptively simple until I tried to pick a topic. Although I do write about myself a lot in my blog, it's usually slanted toward some problem that I am struggling with or some future goal I want to achieve.

I thought about what makes me proud of my children. I was certainly proud when Tenley won the Level Four State Gymnastics Championship in 2006. I am proud every day that Wayne Kevin manages to comb his hair (personal hygiene is always an issue with this 11 year old boy!) as well as his accomplishments including being a lead in Ariya Watty's 2009 BFA Thesis film, Highway. In the long run, though, it's the quiet personal choices that a child of mine may make that will mean more than a trophy or medal (or tangle-free hair). Which gets back to me.

In the early 1980's, the driver's ed curriculum at Union County High School included some truly awful (gory, terrifying, alarming, poorly acted, poorly produced) driver's education videos. They were so bad that it was comical, but they also stuck in your head, especially when you were a 15 year old driver-to-be. (This New York Times Review references a documentary (Hell's Highway) about these "masterpieces.")

I took Driver's Ed in the summertime. Around the same time, my family attended a get-together at the home of friends, and I was invited out by the children of these friends to go for a drive. The "children" were older than me (18, 19, 20) and I didn't know them especially well. (It is also important to note for the purpose of this story that I was quite naïve and, to put it like it was, a moral goody two-shoes.) I was up for an adventure and a change of pace, so I agreed to join the outing.

Off we went, southeast on Highway 100 headed toward Keystone Heights (about a 30 mile drive). As we got to Keystone Heights, one of the car's occupants announced we were heading to the airport (in North Central Florida, an "airport" on a weekend evening is guaranteed to be pretty desolate). Next thing I know, one of the occupants in the front passenger's seat checked the glove compartment and I discovered that there was "precious cargo" of the cannabinoid kind. Hmmm. This was the kind of thing that had led to those dashed hopes and severed limbs in the drivers' ed films. Hmmm. What to do?

I freaked out (silently).

This was before the age of cell phones. What to do (again)? We stopped at a convenience store and I found a pay phone and called home. I explained to my parents what was going on and they agreed to come get me. My memory of the rest of the evening is a little fuzzy. Did the group go on to the airport to "fly high"? What did I tell them? That I wasn't feeling well or that the Union County High School drivers' ed curriculum foretold the risk of a grisly death for them?

What I do know is that when I tell my kids that they can always call me if they feel like they are in danger due to the behaviors of others around them (or behaviors they have chosen to engage in), I will pick them up in a heartbeat. And I'll be proud that they asked.

My parents did a great job of driving the values home.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (30 Hour Famine Edition)

This weekend, the Youth Group at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Tallahassee will go 30 hours without food.

The 30 Hour Famine is a fundraiser for World Vision, which wants to create a world without hunger.

They humble me.

(The youth do drink juice for basic nutrition during the 30 hours.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

What's The Code For "Doesn't Blog Nicely"?

Earlier this week, I read about a teacher who was suspended for derogatory comments she made about her students. She made these comments on her blog (the specific blog with the derogatory comments has been taken down but much of the content is quoted here.) To be honest, my first thought was "is it possible that blogging about my job could result in disciplinary action?" I have blogged in order to process times I lost control and other times I lost control to cite a few.

Once I read Natalie Munroe's original blog, though, and then read the comments made by students in response to the blog, my "wondering" shifted more to the gray areas in this situation. Sometime in her past, Ms. Munroe must have been enthusiastic about the prospect of a teaching profession. She must have (I hope) dreamed of reaching young minds, sharing the joys of literature, creating an educational foundation for lifelong learning. When did that dissipate?

The part of her approach I can relate to is the desire to vent about things in the workplace that are infuriatingly irritating. I have those things (most of us probably do, and I am sure my coworkers could easily turn the tables). I don't want to vent to other coworkers about them and spread negativity. My spouse and children really don't want to hear it. Being someone who vents by writing, it is tempting to take it online, at a site like Workrant that claims to offer anonymity. The issue (for me) with Workrant is, again, why spend all that energy on negativity (not to mention profanity)?

From the other perspective, as the mom of a 9th grade English honors student, I don't want this teacher teaching my child if she is still in the state of mind she was in a year ago when she wrote this blog (which was intended mainly for family and friends, according to Ms. Munroe). If her blog is any indication, she has lost perspective. Sooner or later that will show.

In a recent post, Dan Rockwell (a/k/a LeadershipFreak) wrote about trust. Although the post did not assume a primary audience of teachers, its points, such as "Saying what you don’t want stops things. Saying what you do want instills confidence to start things," are universal. Ms. Munroe does not want a child who (in her words) "has no other redeeming qualities."  I realize that this is an era where teachers have suffocating pressure to meet all kinds of mandated standards, and that they don't necessarily have the luxury of teasing out a child's dormant redeeming qualities. But her comments still send a red flag up in my head.

This is what I said in comment to Dan Rockwell on January 31:

One thing that comes to mind related to this topic is that many people, being human, are more capable of building trust in some areas of their lives than others. For example, if my pilot has flown thousands of hours with no safety concerns, it saddens me but does not diminish my trust if the pilot would withhold information from me about potential high tax rates when (s)he sat on my city commission. I think that is important in employee environments; while it is ideal if a leader is 100% trustworthy and “golden” in all life areas, that’s seldom the case. And for that project, that vision, that mission, what is most critical is that the individual can be trusted as a leader. For me, number 6 is most powerful – take the time to let me know how my work and my attitude matter – once I know that, you will find that you can trust me with even more.

To keep on the line of logic of my comment, my child's teacher doesn't get the same "pass" that the pilot does. Her profession requires that she relate - to teachers and parents - and I sense in her blog comments that a fire is roiling under whatever exterior she is presenting to the teachers and parents - a fire that is dangerously close to breaking through to the surface.

One of Ms. Munroe's complaints in her blog was that she is limited to numeric codes to express any elaborations she has beyond kids' grades when she does report cards. She states that the "canned comments" don't allow her to adequately express her "true sentiments" about the kids. We have a similar system here in Leon County. This is an example from my daughter's report card:

I can see how a series of numeric codes can be limiting. Ms. Munroe said she finally ended up choosing "cooperative in class" for just about every child.

When I read the students' comments back to Ms. Munroe's blog post, there were a few snarky, sarcastic comments but there were also several that were articulate, pained, and profound.

I just wish that profundity had found expression face to face instead of via the blogosphere.

Note: To read Ms. Munroe's posts about this situation, visit this link.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Kind Of Town ..... (A Mama Kat Writing Workshop Prompt)


Ever since Mama Kat published this week's writing prompts and I ended up with prompt #1, "a vacation to remember," I had planned on writing about New York City and how it wasn't until I started taking my daughter there that I discovered key things I had missed when I lived there (Harlem, Chinatown, Little Italy). Although those are great memories, it occurred to me that although I talk about New York City fairly regularly, I have never shared about the time I took Kris and Marlena to Chicago.

I have a bunch of nieces and nephews. I had a goal of taking each one on a trip when they graduated from high school. Luckily for Kris, she is the oldest, because she is the only niece I have been able to afford to treat to a senior trip. If there could only be one, though, I am glad it was this one.

We took our trip to Chicago in April of Kris's senior year. Chicago was the choice because Kris had always wanted to see the Art Institute of Chicago. When my sister-in-law dropped Kris and her friend Marlena off at my house, Marie told me that she had had to loan one of the girls tennis shoes because she had shown up in flip flops. For Chicago. In April. This was going to be interesting!

I really don't know how the travel gods smiled on me this much, but when we walked in to our hotel just off Michigan Avenue, there was a sign announcing that I was "guest of the day" and we got a bit of fanfare. US! We didn't waste time getting to the Hancock Building, to The Cheesecake Factory, and planning out the rest of our itinerary.

We fit in a lot of things: the play Proof, shopping (Tiffany, the rest of the Magnificent Mile), the musical Kiss Me Kate, the Art Institute, ice skating at the Navy Pier, figuring out mass transit, and plenty of good eating.

Why was this trip so memorable (besides the quality time with a cherished niece and her friend)?

- Having the privilege of taking Kris on her first plane ride.

-Hearing the girls complain every time we came back to our hotel room that the maid had cleaned it up! I, of course, was on cloud nine.

-Feeling like we had just scratched the surface at the Art Institute (with an Ansel Adams exhibit underway) when the girls were ready to go. I could have stayed for days.

-In a bus, going past a group of demonstrators and hearing Kris pipe up, in her south Georgia drawl, "Well it sure is somethin' to see people utilizing their right to free expression!"

-the trip-long hunt for a navel ring (NO! NOT FOR ME!). The directions given by a guy at the Gap that would have sent us to a part of town we didn't know. Me on the phone to them, getting directions and asking "I'm a soccer mom with two teenagers - will I be safe there?" Kris calling her dad (rest in peace, Chuck) all the way back in Georgia, a call resulting in a decision not to be quite that adventurous (a navel ring was found before the trip was over)

-some very kind benevolent patron noticing two young girls checking out the orchestra pit at Kiss Me Kate and making sure they got to sit in the front row for the rest of the show

-the fact that although we ate some nice food, the best meal I remember was the gyros we had in the food court at the Navy Pier - the correlation between dining price and priceless experience is not always a direct one

Part of the reason I felt so strongly about taking Kris to Chicago was that I wanted her to have experienced a big city before she made whatever life choices lay ahead of her. She is a mom now, with two young kids of her own. I hope when the challenges of parenting young kids get to be tiring, she is able to go back in her mind to the Navy Pier, watching a ferris wheel cycle through a frigid April sky.

And, in the words of Six Word Memoirist "dmac9000" that she knows:

There is Chicago. There's always Chicago. 

(Source: Chicago Tourism)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (Green Pen Junior Debut Version)

It's never too soon enlist fellow guardians of accurate spelling (plus I didn't want to get out of the car):

Wanna trade an "a" for an "e" and make "calenders" back into "calendars"?

Photo Credit: Wayne Kevin Kiger

And we hope "N" pray everyone had a good "Valetine's"

Photo Credit: Wayne Kevin Kiger

Nice to have help keeping the Big Green Pen from seeing RED, Wayne!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Objective: Great 2011!

I really enjoyed writing to several of the #Reverb10 prompts in December 2010, and I am excited to see that the Reverb community is keeping the great writing, creating, and thinking going as 2011 picks up speed. This is the prompt for February 2011:

One month into 2011, what question(s) are you living? Are there any prompts/questions that arose during #reverb10 that are still resonating in your life? Are you living new questions?

The prompt included these instructions: Like #reverb10, you may respond to this prompt as-is or remix it to suit your needs. Write, blog, photograph, draw or respond however you'd like.

I have been pounding out a good bit of writing lately, don't have any photographs that speak to this topic exactly, and you don't want me to draw. For a change of pace, I think I will employ a SWOT analysis. I found myself recommending this approach to a friend recently as she tried to wrestle with a decision about returning to work after several years being home with her kids. A few years ago, I employed SWOT (looking at the strengths/weaknesses/opportunities and threats inherent in a situation in order to make a well-reasoned business decision) when I ended up one-on-one with a fairly high ranking executive of our Third Party Administrator at a time when I wanted to establish a rapport but also take advantage of an opportunity to share some concerns.

To try to chip away at the questions still unanswered in 2011, here is a SWOT look at my life:


Proofreading, editing, writing - I find great satisfaction in using these skills and feel confident that I can serve authors such as Rhett Devane and Senator Bob McKnight, for whom I edited Accidental Ambition, and Donna Meredith, for whom I edited The Glass Madonna.


I need to get a backbone. I don't speak  up when I am right and I apologize way too often as a way to placate when an apology is the wrong strategy.


They are why I do it all. Despite all of the tension and frazzled moments inherent in being a family of four, I wake up each day with the gift of being mom and wife:

New York City August 2007 (Photo Credit Dan Carubia)

I read a quote this morning that resonated, especially since I knew I was going to write about this topic tonight:

The greatest success, is successful self acceptance. Ben Sweet

On a day when I allowed a perfectly nice string of hours with my teenager to deteriorate into a spiral of negative self-talk over a $5.99 ring from Target that had not made it into the bag, with a few accusations flying both ways, self acceptance remains a question that still insinuates itself too frequently.
How is a SWOT analysis supposed to end? I suppose that is where this post detours from the business purpose. It won't necessarily help me make more money, get anything done faster, or satisfy a board of directors. But hopefully when I revisit it in February 2012, there won't be a spineless jellyfish to be found.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lightweight Advice (A Mama Kat's Writing Workshop Prompt)

When Mama Kat published her writing prompts this week, I was so happy that's "pick" coincided with the prompt I wanted to do anyway:


When it comes to memorable lectures, there are several options. It would be funnier to write about the (fatherly and kind) lecture I got when I was a 17 year old summer missionary staying with a kind-hearted family in Port St. Lucie Florida and flooded their laundry room because I really had no clue how to operate a washing machine. It would be more quasi-therapy to talk about the lecture (and spanking) I got from my dad when I got two identical Barbies for Christmas once and invalidated the ability to return one by opening both boxes. But the topic of this post is a lecture I think about almost every single day of my life. It is a lecture that I was given during my senior year in college, by Dr. Calvin Zongker, a Child Development professor.

The lecture was essentially a "you may not believe it now, but it's going to take a seriously long time to live our your life so you should pace yourself" kind of thing. I don't remember how long the lecture lasted or everything it covered, but the point he drove home was, "right now, you think your energy is an infinite resource, sort of like having the ability to print cash as you need it. It's not. While it may not seem like a "big deal" to give up sleep left and right, to "burn the candle on both ends" to do everything you want to do, one day you're going to be 38 or 48 or 58 and realize that you have depleted your account. Your health will show it."

I have almost always burned the candle on both ends. As I got older, I kept thinking "I'll give up sleep for this period of time until I accomplish 'x' and then I'll get back on track with getting enough rest." I thought it when I lived in New York City from 1989-1992 and had to work extra jobs in order to afford rent, food, and other necessities. I thought about it when my kids were little and there was no option for me as a working mom except to stay up walking sick children through the dead of night and arriving at work the next day with a sleep deficit. I think about it now when I do my main job at Healthy Kids, squeeze in fitness (not willing to give THAT up), and write, edit, blog (!) or proofread until the wee hours.

As sleep needs go, I am not one of those people who needs 8 hours a night. I read once that Bill Clinton only needs 4 hours of sleep a night. I suspect that from a strictly physical standpoint, I am probably about a 6.5 hours person. But four isn't enough. When Jane Marks spoke to our Certified Public Managers' group yesterday about stress management and said, "I wake up happy every morning because I love what I do," I envied her because frankly I am so exhausted every morning that thinking about how I feel about anything I do is just a luxury.

I keep wondering if (God forbid) I will get some bad piece of news about my health and my immediate first thought will be "Yep, Dr. Zongker was right." But this isn't a healthy way to live! And although I struggle to keep my time balanced and get more sleep, there has to be merit in doing the things I love even though there is usually a slumber trade-off.

To close out this post, I thought about what kind of lecture I would give to students graduating college. I don't think it would be the "use your energy wisely" theme; I suspect that as well-articulated as Dr. Zongker's lecture was, it may have fallen on a lot of deaf and dubious ears.

I would say what I have ended up saying to college students in various settings: to the college student at AJ Sports bar who I somehow ended up talking "life stuff" with during a Florida State game a few months ago and to the film student's girlfriend who was about to graduate with an advanced degree in epidemiology but said, "I really don't love it." And although her parents probably didn't feel this way, when I relented and got a student haircut to save money a while back, the hair student who said, "well, I just got an architecture degree but my passion is in hair design" I could sort of respect where she was coming from.

A summary of my lecture:

Do what you love, even when it exhausts you, especially when it exhausts you.
In the words of Confucius, "Choose a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life."

"Loving what you do will lighten things up along the way.

Trust me on this."


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (Love on the Rocks Edition)

My good friend Jacqui sent me one of her phenomenal pictures of a New Hampshire sunrise:

and I tinkered around with it (thanks, Picnik!) to highlight a rock formation that is (to me) perfect for the Wordless Wednesday preceding Valentine's Day:

Love - simultaneously rocky and beautiful!

(Photo Credit: Jacqui Graham)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Restless on Arrival

Back in December, Liesl Jurock was writing about the holidays on Mama's Log, and the question arose of what to say when her son asked, "Who's Jesus?". She talked about how her child's questions awakened a dormant topic: religion, something she had intentionally put at arms' length as an adult.

I sent her this email in response:

I am long, long past telling people how or why I think they should be involved in organized religion. I spent the summer after high school knocking on strangers' doors, with a "script" to lead them through regarding being saved. No more of that.....

But I do, from my "parent of an 11 and 14 year old" vantage point, encourage you and Kevin to think about this now. I am heartbroken that my kids have stopped coming to church with me (hubs goes rarely, which is its own issue), but at some point gave up -- it simply wasn't worth the agony of forcing them.

It won't get any easier as Lucas gets older --- if he starts thinking of church/worship as a "habit" instead of an "option" it's all the better in the long run!

I have to hope God is doing His/Her own work in them (my kids) ..... and I would be very flexible up to taking them to a different church/denomination if something set a light afire in their little hearts -- and to give them some idea of the fact that the world is not just about them but about something bigger.

I have thought and thought about how to expand on the response I sent Liesl.

(She wrote about her expanded thoughts on religion here.)

For my expanded response, it is going to take more than one blog post, but here is the first.

When I encouraged Liesl to bring her son up with worship as a "habit," I hoped that she and her family would find a routine way of worshiping that edifies them as a family, as opposed to the kind many adults remember, a rote "showing up" each Sunday to a place that was not necessarily welcoming or edifying. I suppose the proportion of "obligation" to "enjoyment" that I feel children (and adults) should get out of worship is a topic for another day. My main point was that it's probably easier to introduce some type of routine worship experience now, when her child is three, than it will be when he is older.

Between this afternoon when I drafted today's post and now, when I am adding the finishing touches, I listened to an "On Being" podcast about Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet whose words are timeless. I am paraphrasing a bit here, but three concepts from the podcast really seemed relevant to the discussions of spirituality I have been having with my friends recently:

1) To be searching and restless is to have arrived. This idea partners well with good advice given to me years ago by Father Gil Crosby, who told me that Jesus came to take away our sins, not our intellects. Good thing, for it appears that searching and restlessness characterize much of the faith journey.

2) "The ground will get hard if you don't till it." To keep soil fertile you must turn it occasionally and give it a chance to get air and nutrients; the same is true with our attitudes and values about spirituality.

3) Staying centered while moving around. Rumi is associated with a Sufi order that believes in worship incorporating music, poetry, and dancing (the Whirling Dervishes are their best known manifestation). Isn't that what those of us parents trying to help our children (and, honestly, ourselves) find some type of spiritual mooring are trying to do -- stay centered while moving around a world of facts, influences, and options that seem to whirl around us in a blur?

I believe children need to know they are part of something much bigger than them. By whatever name it is called, they need something to be in awe of, to feel comforted by, to plead to, to scratch their heads at when bad things happen.

In Elizabeth Edwards's book "Saving Graces," she talks about how her theology was influenced by several things: growing up as a Navy kid and being exposed to buddhism and other theologies in Japan; facing the lowest of lows after her teenager died; talking to countless other families on grief chat boards and the like. One constant for her is Bill Moyers's statement from "Genesis" - "You get the God you have, not the God you want." Little kids shouldn't be expected to parse the difference between the God they "want" and the God they "have," but I do believe that one of the most long-lasting gifts we parents can give our children is the gift of openness to God's presence.

It is my hope for Liesl and her young family that the restlessness that Lucas's questions has created will lead them to an "arrival" of sorts -- an arrival at a family spiritual "center" in the midst of the whirling world.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Big Fish's Best Friend? (A Mama Kat Writer's Workshop Prompt)

This is my Mama Kat's prompt for the week:

You’re not always right…no you’re not…no you’re not…no you’re not….tell us about a time you were wrong.

Just one time, Kat? When there are so many instances from which to choose?

I knew what I was going to write about the moment "assigned" me this prompt. When I said what I said back in 1979, the words were right but the timing, setting, and intent were all 100% wrong.

When my family moved back to my parents' hometown after my ninth grade year, I thought I was, to use a term that my daughter used to employ to describe someone who had a seriously inflated sense of their awesomeness - ALL THAT. I had grown up, for the most part, in a large school system - in ninth grade there had been 1,000 or so ninth graders. I had excelled academically and musically through middle school. In fact, I had won so many medals at solo and ensemble competition that I would probably have set off metal detectors when I was in my band uniform with my full complement of "decorations."

The phrase "big fish in a small pond" is perfectly fitting for my move from Orange Park to Lake Butler, where we had approximately 80 kids per grade in high school. The trouble with this view, though, is that I was a NEW big fish and did not have an understanding or appreciation of the closeness and social structure all of those small fish had developed over the years. I burst upon the scene with all my big fishiness and did, indeed, think I was "all that."

"L" lived next door to my new home in Lake Butler and had lived there all her life, I think. Our families knew each other. (Almost all families know each other in Lake Butler.) She was a few years older than me, but she took me under her wing and really dedicated herself to helping me feel at home, introducing me around, etc. She was supremely kind.

I was at a social function a few months into my life in Lake Butler when I was at a fair and was talking to another good friend of hers. The friend, who I knew only slightly, said, "L says you're her best friend." Any guesses what I said next?

Oh, she's not my best friend.

Even though it was technically true that she wasn't my best friend, my response stank like a day old rotted fish. It really did. I am sure the response got back to L, because there was a definite cooling of the relationship after that.

I think at the time I was trying to keep some doors open - I had started hanging out with some people who I wanted to impress and didn't want to give away the "best friend" designation yet - I also had had a best friend in my previous five years who I was still very close to. But being so blunt and candid was hurtful, mean, and ...

Wrong ... even though it was technically true.

I ended up moving away after high school and "L" and I lost touch. We did connect briefly a few years ago via Facebook, and I wrote a message trying to atone for my hurtful truthfulness so many years ago. Hopefully it helped a bit.  

But I still think about this all these years later, and that is the incident I think about when someone is brimming over with excitement and I privately don't necessarily share the excitement. Usually, it doesn't hurt anything at all to try and share in their happiness rather than dissecting any factual quibbles.  

L, this is for you. With the "best" of intentions for someone who was a true "friend."


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (Birthday Cruise Edition)

This is our receptionist, Charlotte. When our Executive Director, Rich, asked what she wanted for her birthday, she said she wanted a cruise.

Our thoughtful boss did indeed give Charlotte a "cruise" for her birthday...

Tom Cruise!

This way, every day is a "cruise" day for Charlotte, and she doesn't have to worry about seasickness!

Bon Voyage!