The weeks of 2014 are dwindling to nothing. There are many things that I promised myself that I would accomplish this year that I have not. There are some things that I pulled off this year that I am more than proud of. One thing that I have almost always stayed true to during this year is to pay attention to the good things that show up in bold or quiet ways during my days. Last week, I had more than my fair share so I have had to do some ranking to get it down to five to write about. I hope that anyone reading this finds goodness throughout your days.
In no particular order, here are some of my good things from last week:
- Kappa Kappa Gamma Holiday Homes tour – I kind of love to see how other people decorate for the holidays, so the idea of going into a stranger’s house to see what they have going on, always kind of appeals to me. Because this year, the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority holiday home tour benefited Dan’s organization, it was a good opportunity to buy tickets and go look at some pretty houses. The four houses that were on the tour ranged from really nice to wowza. What was best about each home, however, was that each felt like a home. There were pictures of happy family members, personal touches to the decorating that spoke more to passion than designer labels (lots of KU love going on!), and you could envision families living and having fun in each. I wondered how Dan would react to the tour as it is not really his thing, but he caught the same thing I did. How can you not react positively to an event that raises money for good causes, is staffed by friendly and helpful volunteers, and you get to see some loveliness?
- The Goat – On Saturday we went out on a cold, gray day to get our Christmas tree. We typically go to Soil Service Garden Center where the friendly staff is ever present. Our tree criteria are pretty narrow since we have a small space, and I am picky about the kind of tree. We pretty much found our tree immediately, but I felt the need to scope out the whole area. It was in doing this that Dan laid eyes on the goat. It was standing out under a shelter among other metal animals and whatnots. As soon as Dan saw him, he was in love. He tried to talk himself out of it, but we both knew that goat was coming home with us. I am still not sure why, but goodness that goat is funny. He has been in our backyard, he then showed up in the house. He has been up in the chair looking out the window, and is now poised at our french doors guarding us from all. We think he name is Gus.
- Transition clinic – Over three years ago, I started working on a project where we wanted to find out what survivors of childhood cancer need as they become adults. What we thought we knew, and what we confirmed is that taking care of themselves is difficult when caregivers don’t necessarily know what the implications of your prior treatment is. Out of that little project has come friendships, publications, new colleagues, and finally, a clinic for survivors to transition into when they are ready to leave pediatrics. Last week, the newspaper did a great story on the new clinic and the work being done. While my part in this was miniscule, it made me so proud!
Advent Calendars – I don’t think I ever had an Advent Calendar growing up, but we had them for the kids as they were growing up. Once they went to college and settle away from home, I still tried to send them one each year. There is just something fun and exciting to opening up a surprise each day – even if it is just a new picture. This year when I ordered Advent Calendars for the kids, I ordered one for us. It makes me happy!
- Crossroads Academy Event – For the third year, we attended the Crossroads Academy Dream Big event. Crossroads is a wonderful charter school in the heart of downtown with a mission of bringing quality education to the urban center. To see the product of the work that the staff at the school does, combined with the enthusiasm of the downtown core leaders, is darn exciting. Celebrating this while, at the same time, catching up with friends from many areas of my life, eating delicious plates from area chefs, and having a glass or two of wine, closed my work week on a very sweet note.
As I noted, there were many more things that stood out. Like Christmas stamps! Ali’s classroom’s Elf on the Shelf who the kids call Justin Bieber! Those lemon ricotta bars I made! So much!
I am slightly late in getting this posted, but I am getting a little closer to my ideal posting schedule. Last week was a good one with some beautiful indications that autumn is upon us – my favorite season. There was even a night when we had to put an extra blanket on the bed. As the week went by, here are a few of the good things that caught my attention!
Royals Success – I would not be a good Kansas Citian if I did not put this in my Number 1 slot! The giddiness in this town is palpable. Everyone, everywhere is wearing their Royals gear that reflects team members from George Brett to Eric Hosmer. (Spoiler – last week, the Royals won their wildcard game – this week, they won their series against the Angels to put them into the American League championship series.) This is fun for my dear city!
Michael and Molly – Watching the Royals win with our friends, Michael and Molly was quite a treat – even though they were Oakland fans. Dan, J, M and I met Michael and Molly in the most memorable of ways. We met them during a morning tour of the Templeton Rye Distillery in Nebraska. They came from Des Moines; we came from Kansas City. After the tour, we connected over an opportunity to get to know the product a little better. Among the six of us there, we found friendship that has now led to visits to each other’s homes. This week, they made their way to KC! How very good that was!
Baby Girl – When I was pregnant with both Sam and Ali, I think I had one sonogram between them. I don’y remember that it told us much more than that I had something going on in there. Many changes have occurred since those days. Sonograms happen more regularly, and the machines and technicians are pretty advanced. With this has come a new phenomena – a gender reveal. Last week, we got to join in a celebration in learning that our dearest J&M will be bringing a little girl into the world next spring. We all found out when we sprayed an unmarked can of silly string – and it was pink. We can’t wait to meet her.
New Jobs – Sam was excited to start a new job last week as the Beverage Manager at Ma Peche in NY. He sounds so excited about what he will learn and the great mentors available for him. Both he and Jean are in new positions as this year winds down. It has been a big year for both of them, and I am eager to see their continued career growth and personal growth. The other new job is Dan’s! He found out that he will be working at SAFEHOME in Johnson County, Kansas helping to bring dollars to a shelter for abused women. This opportunity presented itself and just seems like a wonderful fit for everyone.
A Successful Audit – Every three years at my work, some of our research is audited. That means that people come to our site, and look through all of our records to make sure that things happened the way that they were meant to happen. Preparing for an audit means many hours of combing through a medical record and pulling out the evidence. Paper flags are used in abundance! This is audit year, and our auditors were on site last Monday and Tuesday. When one hears the word audit, it does not sound pleasant. Our two days, could barely have been more pleasant. Our auditors were good listeners and teachers. Our preparations was exemplary and I think that, to a person, our group was proud of what we did and how we did it. I know I was so proud of everyone.
What a nice week that was.
I don’t get “stressed-out” very often. In general, I am a low-key person who operates on an even keel. The downside of this is that I can be kind of boring, but it is how I like to be. It is how I am most comfortable. This week, there was one day that I came home from work feeling definitely stressed. The next day felt better, but I am definitely in a high intensity period where there are many things going on and I have lots of responsibilities. But I am working it through; I am counting on my team mates who are wonderful; I am reminding myself of work/life balance; and I am remembering all of the good things. I already have this week’s list going, but here are five things from last week.
First hummingbirds – Dan researched the issue and found out that it is the male hummingbird that shows up first. Well, Mr. Hummingbird with a flaming red throat showed up at our feeder last week. I walked out the back door and saw the familiar frantic flight zip by me. I hoped that it was a hummingbird, but figured that it was only a crazy bug trying to fool me. But, it was real. Sitting on the patio reading, I heard the noise and there it was at one of the feeders. They are so pretty and fun to watch. I can’t wait for their wives and girlfriends get here!
Dishwashing and Tidying Up – When I do get stressed, tidying up my surroundings is one way that settles me down. Even finishing up and looking at the colorful plates in the dish drying rack holds so much goodness – the order, the color, the memory of the food that filled those plates.
Finding new tidbits in my book research – Yes, I am still working on that book. Last week I worked on the chapter focused on Marcia’s family and friends starting a fundraising group only months after leukemia took her life. This is really incredible. This was 1949! This was during a time that moving on was the most common way of dealing with grief. This family, along with their wonderful friends, coalesced and used Marcia’s story to begin to raise money for research to help find a cure for the disease that takes children’s lives. I found evidence of a contact that the family made only month’s after Marcia died. The contact was Sidney Wallach. In the 1930s and 40s, Mr. Wallach worked with Jewish causes in NYC. He led the American Jewish Committee and founded The Current Jewish Record Journal (which later became Commentary). In 1933 he published a pamphlet called “Hitler, Menace to Mankind,” which is pretty chilling. In the 1940s, it appears that he switched career paths and started focussing more on public relations for philanthropic causes. Using the items that I have been entrusted with as well as the amazing Internet, I filled in some more blanks of this great story. There is more to learn, but this was progress.
Whitman Illuminated – In December, I forwarded a blogpost to Dan about a new book being put out by fabulous Tin House. That was enough to make him pre-order the book. We had pretty much forgotten about it, so when it arrived last week, it was an incredible treat. It is one of the coolest books I have ever seen. Artist Allen Crawford has taken the words of Whitman’s Song of Myself and illustrated them so incredibly! Every page is stunning.
Kristie Stremel and Joe’s Pet Project at The Record Bar – Thanks to friends, we went to The Record Bar on Saturday night to hear music. Joe’s Pet Project was playing when we got there, followed by Kristie Stremel who was backed by a great band. Both of these groups filled the room with fantastic rock and roll. Joe’s Pet Project had a kind of Dave Matthews’ vibe; Kristie is a true blue, girl rock and roller, of the best kind. She leads her band with energy and musical chops. Every musician seemed to be having such a good time making music. More music to add to my list.
Keep seeing good things.
This week brings us Thanksgiving. For a few different reasons, this past week was a challenging one to identify my good things. I am glad for Thanksgiving because I think that gives a good opportunity to regroup in thinking about how important it is to be attentive to the good things that are in our lives everyday. I wish all of my readers a happy Thanksgiving, and I hope that each of us finds many good things each day!
Breakfast – Dan was sick this week, which meant that my breakfast service was put on hold. That could have been a disaster, but fortunately for me, we had the delicious Farm to Market/ Roasterie coffee limited run Black Russian Bread and over the top, Shatto butter. Each morning, I put a slice of this dark, rich bread in the toaster, and when it came out, spread it with the creamy tasty butter. The bread itself has coffee overtones combined with the typical richness of a dark bread. It is speckled with juicy raisins, that I am typically not a big fan of, but it works here. The butter is a product of Shatto dairy that has transformed how we think of dairy products in Kansas City. I remember the getting a bottle of cream from Shatto for a dessert that I was making. I can’t recall what the dessert was, but I sure do remember the cream. It was/is heavenly! Our loaf of bread is now gone and it is not expected to reappear again anytime soom. Lucky for me, Dan is better and he should be back on breakfast duty this week.
Reading Great non-fiction science – I finished The Philadelphia Chromosome this week. This is a book about the discovery of the genetic malfunction that is unique to people diagnosed with a certain kind of leukemia. Because of this discovery and the research that occurred because of it, a medication was developed that could curtail the chain reaction that created the out of control cancer. Jessica Wapner does an incredible job of explaining a very complicated story. I think for the first time, I understand what a kinase is and what kinase inhibitors do. As I was finishing up this book, I also picked up the latest Esquire and read an article in the latest issue of Esquire. Patient Zero tells the story of Stephanie Lee. Stephanie Lee was profiled in an earlier Esquire issue because of her Hurricane Katrina experience. This story deals with her being diagnosed with late stage liver cancer and being enrolled in a clinical trial in Memorial Sloan Kettering that may build a treatment specifically for her disease. This is amazing stuff, and when it is reported well, it does the reader such a great service.
Haircut, etc. – My hair is problematic. It is fine, kind of thin, and curly. It doesn’t grow fast, so my thought that I will just grow it long and make that my style doesn’t really work. Every six months or so, I go in to get my hair cut. I usually just go to a chain operation. Usually, I can’t see any reason to spend more money on this than the $15 that the shops offer. Saturday was my six month appointment. I told the woman that I wanted a shampoo and a haircut. The shampoo was the best. She spent 15 minutes washing my hair twice, putting in conditioner, and massaging my scalp!!! Oh dear god!
Helping Dan Make Pretzels – For as long as I have known him, one of the things that Dan has enjoyed most in life has been hard pretzels. There was a brand that we ate in college that is the benchmark of all pretzels. No one has met the Gibble standard in all these years. Recently, however, I bought him a cookbook all about making pretzels. It has inspired him. Last week, he made a very nice version. Yesterday, I got to help him make his second attempt. This was the real deal. We had a boiling water bath containing lye. They were twisted. I salted them liberally. When the oven opened, they were brown and crispy. He thinks he is getting close. I think he nailed it!
Treme, Season 3 – If you have not experienced the series Treme, you are missing something. Season 3 recently was released and we watched the first 4 episodes this week. Treme takes place in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Because of that, it makes it an easy program for us to like. We can say “we’ve been there!” “I recognize that”… in every episode. The thing is, there is so much more. Whether you know, and/or love New Orleans, there is much here to bring you in. For one, there is amazing music. This is American music. Think about what that means, and it will lead you to the melodies that you will hear on the streets of New Orleans. I am very much enjoying having the characters of Treme back!
We are moving into the final weeks of the year. The temperatures we had to start the week made me realize that, but this weekend has been warm and pretty pleasant. More than a few good things happened this week as the days started to warm. Here are a few.
Courtney Barnett – It is true that almost every new music love of mine is introduced to me via NPR. I can’t think that is a bad thing. What’s the matter with letting the experts cull from so much new music, those bands and performers that pass their muster? It happened again this week that a single song played on the All Songs Considered podcast made me go home and and purchase an album. This week it was Austrailian singer, Courtney Barnett. Her music came up because she played the CMJ Music Festival back in October in NYC and everyone on the panel declared love. The song that they played was Avant Gardener, and I have literally had this song in my head since. It has droney guitars, lyrics that pull you into the story and make your own visuals, and a lazy delivery that reminds me sometimes of Lucinda Williams. Other songs on the album also build stories with humor and darkness – oftentimes both in the same song. She has some great syncopation and word choice. The double EP is titled A Sea of Split Peas. It made my week better!
I get adrenalin
Straight to the heart
I feel like Uma Thurman
Post-overdosing kick start
Reminds me of the time
When i was really sick and i
Had too much psuedoefedryn and i
Couldn’t sleep at night
Conversations – Friday was a really good day. I got to spend the day working on a chapter and made good progress on it. Late in the afternoon, I walked up to Bier Station and met Barb for a beer and some talk. When I left, the sun had set and the almost full moon really lit up the sky. After a very cold start of the week, it felt great strolling home on that warm, beautiful evening. When Dan got home, I made a Friday evening cocktail and we sat around talking a little before I made dinner. After finishing, we stayed at the table awhile – just chatting about people and things that were on our mind this week. Days can become so scheduled and full. Stresses can cloud the positive things that are out there. I loved the solitary time I had that day to focus on my writing, but then having time together with favorite people made a really good day, better.
Sherwood Center – The movement of stuff in the world is extraordinary. I don’t think that a week goes by that at least one new non-perishable item doesn’t make its way into our house. Sometimes you need to purge, if only to make way for what you know will be coming – more stuff. In the past, we did try the garage sale route to perhaps get back some of the dollars sunk into the things that we no longer wanted. However, the time and effort to get 25 cents for some old t-shirts and books, no longer appeals to me. That is why I love the agencies that come around periodically and take away boxes and bags of our unwanted things. The Sherwood Center is my go to service. They come when they are supposed to and they leave a receipt so I can take the donation off on our taxes. The best!
Remembering the Sabres of the 70s – On Facebook a few days ago, the Buffalo Sabres posted a picture of #11, Gilbert Perreault wishing him a happy 63rd birthday. The photo posted (above) was from his glory days with the Sabres when he, Rene Robert, and Richard Martin skated together on the team. They were known as the French Connection and they made me into a hockey fan. One of the saddest days of my childhood that I remember (this makes me realize how good my childhood was) was when I won tickets to a Sabres game by guessing the correct score of the game in the weekly contest published in the Buffalo News. The day we were supposed to go to the game, there was a big snowstorm and my parents wouldn’t drive the 50 miles into Buffalo. I cried a lot. A few weeks later, my uncle got me tickets and took me to see my hockey heros. Seeing that picture this week brought back good memories!
The Holiday Hero Campaign and the Children’s Mercy Cancer Center Board – Doing good is easier for some than others. People with a lot of money can choose to distribute it to those projects that are important to them. That is relatively easy. But when people donate their time and their extended resources to support a project, it takes more effort. This week, the wonderful board of the Children’s Mercy Cancer Center hosted an event to kickoff the annual Holiday Hero Campaign. This campaign brings in dollars to the Cancer Center. The funds then support programming and research. Each year, a “hero” family is chosen. This year’s is one of the Spanish speaking families who have benefited from the Spanish Language cancer clinic now offered at the hospital. The event was so nice. There were board members, hospital staff, friends and family of everyone, and, of course, the Hero family. Through an interpreter, the father explained what thanks they had for the care their whole family got during their daughter’s treatment. Kicking off the holiday season amongst such good people was a good thing.
This is the New York City version of this week’s good things. Because I was out of town over a weekend, it also is a very loose version of what “last week” means. Traveling does that to you!
It all started with the fact that I was extremely lucky to get chosen to go to a training sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. Added to this was the fact that my hospital supported me going. The conference was in New York City and started last Friday and went through the weekend. I tacked on a few personal days on the end so Dan could come in and we could spend time with Sam and Jean. Oh, what a great time it was.
From a slew of many, here are a few of last week’s good things:
The People of New York City – It seems a cliche to give the people of New York a hard time for being pushy and difficult. On this trip, I have to say, I very much noticed the kindness of people everywhere. I arrived in the city late Thursday, Once I checked into my hotel, I went around the corner to have a bite to eat. I was the only one in the restaurant and I am sure that everyone was ready to go home. Rather than feeling a nuisance, I was treated graciously and did not feel rushed in the slightest. I noticed the same kind of feeling everywhere I went. Walking along busy streets, I noticed that people went out of their way to apologize if they bumped into you. In the subway I got a few “excuse me” and “pardon mes.” Particularly in businesses, I was treated warmly and appreciatively. We buy into stereotypes too easily.
The Municipal Archives – Tuesday morning I went to the Municipal Archives of New York City. I had been in touch with the staff there for a couple years. When I knew that I would be coming to visit, I really got serious. The staff had located some documents that were potentially helpful to the research that I am doing. I was going to be able to get there and look at them! The archives are located at 31 Chambers Street amongst all of the city government buildings. These buildings are pretty awesome to behold. We made our way to the location on a Tuesday morning after a Monday holiday. The subway was jam packed, but easily negotiable. Once I got to the archives and checked in, I became a little worried. We could not find my request. With assistance from the helpful staff, we located the papers and I was able to get to work. It was great! All around the spacious room, people were delving into boxes of records or microfilm. The staff walked about answering questions. There was a young man sitting next to us looking at city planning records dating back to who knows when. Two brothers were looking up family history prior to taking a journey to Eastern Europe. For my part, while the records that I had to look at didn’t reveal much that I didn’t know, there were many interesting things that I found and I made copies of to bring home. It also made me so thankful that items associated with an event that happened more than eighty years ago were filed away in a box and someone from the midwest can send an email and have those items waiting for her when she comes for a visit!
Meeting Some New Friends – Also associated with my research, I got to meet a couple more family members of my research characters. We met J and his daughter for breakfast on Monday morning. We spent a delightful meal getting to know each other and recounting how all of this happened. I also got to hear about A’s special stuffed animal who shared breakfast with us. Because of this breakfast venture, I now know what Halloween costume is perfect for a seven year old growing up in New York City – Eloise, of course! I also clearly understood, once again, what a gift I have been given to find this story. I continue to try to write this history up well. In the process, I have uncovered some interesting things, that I have been able to share with kind, welcoming, accommodating family members. Meeting some new family members and being so warmly welcomed for what I have done was humbling.
Sam and Jean – As a parent, you want to see your children in happy relationships. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot you can do to secure such a thing. You try to model well, but even that can be challenging. In the end, you just have to hope. So, the best part of the trip was getting to spend time with Sam and Jean. It was our second chance to meet Jean, and it proved to be quite great. I smile just thinking about how good I think that they are together. They seem to make each other laugh a lot – which I think speak volumes. They appeared caring to each other in many ways. On Sunday night we got to take Jean out to dinner without Sam as he was working. It felt easy and comfortable. A very good thing for the week!
Food of New York – This trip provided an over the top food experience. Due to the good food connections that Sam and Jean bring to the table, we had two nights where fabulous New York City chefs cooked for us. At Bouchon Bakery and Cafe in the Time Warner Center, we got treated courses that ranged from a beautiful potato soup to a peanut butter and jelly dessert presentation. At Blue Hill in Greenwich Village, the table kept producing more treats like fresh local vegetables perfectly seasoned with salts, a chicken dish with mushrooms and a tomato sauce that was unforgettable and a pumpkin seed candy that spoke autumn. We also had some nice Belgian inspired food at Resto. Delicious tacos in Brooklyn. Decadently greasy burger and fries at Shake Shack. Chewy wood-fired pizza and yummy appetizers at Franny’s in Sam and Jean’s Prospect Heights neighborhood. Goodness!
It was a fun week. Getting out of town and spending time with co-workers, thinking about how we can do our work more effectively, was inspiring. Spending time in an iconic city inspired me to understand the world in a better way. Enjoying food in an indulgent way was, nonetheless, magnificent. Being with people I love was more than good.
This week saw very summery days turn quite fall-like. That was a good thing, indeed. Here are some other good things from the week that was.
1. Tamara Shopsin’s 5 Year Diary – I am admittedly a sucker for journals. In the past, I made journals. It was a hobby that I really liked, and I became pretty good at. More recently, I have bought the journals that I have used. I really love the Decomposition Book Composition Books that are produced by Michael Roger. I have two of these going at the moment – one as a catchall weekly “logbook” and one for my work to-do list/miscellaneous keeper. I got something new this week, that I am very happy with. Tamara Shopsin has created a grown-up five-year diary and, as of this week, I have me one. Tamara Shopsin is a great artist and author. I am not sure of what prompted her to create this product, but I adore it! it has a simple, beautiful design, that I love. Every day now, I fill in 6 or fewer lines of something that was memorable/recordable from the day before. You can start anywhere, anytime. It is another way for me to be mindful of my day to day.
2. In A World – Yesterday afternoon I went to see Lake Bell’s movie “In A World.” It had been a few months since I have been in a movie theater, and it was good to be back! This is being shown at the Leawood Theater which is a pretty neat old-school large format theater. In A World is the story of a young woman who is trying to break into the voiceover business. Her dad is one of the industry’s best, and he seems destined to become the next person to be voicing the iconic “In a World…” tagline in movie trailers. Of course, nothing goes as planned. It is a fun, quirky movie and Lake Bell is fun to watch and listen to. Charming Rob Cordray and Demitri Martin also are in the cast, although the Cordray story line is a little odd/out of place. Amidst a fun film, there is a message about women’s voices that I found on point.
3. Neko Case’s The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You – When I put together my best music of the year list in December, it is going to include lots of women. I am gearing up to write a separate post about what a good year for female artists this has been, but I need to note separately what a good thing it has been to listen to Neko Case‘s new album this week. She possesses a wonder of a voice, and she combines that voice with crazy good songs on this album. There are themes of loss and gender and parenting. There is imagery like no one’s business. My favorite:
Last night late I was watching it snow
It always goes sideways in the city
It comes right out of the streetlights, you know
Pumped out by an engine deep inside the earth’s core
4. Comments from Important People Who Have Read Pieces of My Book – I continue to plug away on the book that I am still writing. People ask me if it is still fun, and I truthfully tell them that it really is. I like putting the pieces together. I am enjoying more the trying to fill in the blanks, although this is challenging to me. I am also working on writing more of a story and less of a thesis. This past week I got feedback from a great friend who read a chapter and had complimentary words. As importantly, he is also going to give me some critical feedback. When you look at words over and over you begin to doubt whether they even make sense. Getting some encouragement and suggestions means a great deal. The other note I got this week was from a family member of one of the main characters in my book. I opened his email this week when I woke up and started my day with some tears in my eyes. His note meant the world to me, and the spirit of it is the true reason that the book is still fun. This story has been a gift that I have been given, and it is my charge to see it through.
5. Grocery shopping on A Friday morning – When I stayed home with the kids, we would almost always do our grocery shopping midweek and in the morning. I like to get my things accomplished early. On Friday, I took my car in for a repair. By 8:30 I was out of there and set to go home. I decided, however, that since there was a grocery store right near the dealership, I would stop in for some groceries. I don’t know if it was because it was the start of a new day, or because it was Friday, or because the Chiefs won their game last Sunday, or if it is always that way, but it was just such a friendly, happy experience. The produce guys were laughing and greeting as they restocked colorful vegetables. The woman at the meat counter was cheerful. The deli lady laughed at herself for talking to the plastic bag that wouldn’t cooperate. All through the store there were friendly, helpful staff, and seemingly happy customers. My check out person was the express line guy who called me over to his line. He talked to me about their rewards program, how he likes to pay inside at gas stations, and about something that happened with his son – all while efficiently checking my groceries out. Friday morning grocery shopping is the best!
Tell me something that was good from your week.
I have had a really nice week. It was one of those week’s that I have thought more than once what a lucky person I am. On Saturday, I got to talk to both kids who both sound really happy. Just that could make a week. As it was, there were a number of other things too. These are five of them:
1. Lift Every Voice – There has been much in the media this week about the celebration around the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s Dream Speech. One morning this week, something that I was watching had a clip of a performance of Lift Every Voice and Sing – the African American National Anthem. The words of the song were originally a poem written to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday and introduce Booker T. Washington. Hearing the song made me immediately recall the many elementary school programs where Sam and Ali and their classmates would sing this song. Those of us in the audience would be welcomed to sing along. Sadly, I don’t have a video of one of those performances, but I found one on Youtube that has the same spirit – complete with the hand motions that made every song better!
2. Thank You Notes – DonorsChoose.org is an on-line mechanism for teachers to seek funding for the things they need for their classrooms and students. If you know a teacher, you know that they spend a good piece of their own money to buy things that help them do their job and take care of their students. I know that almost every weekend, Ali is running an errand to get something that she needs for the week ahead. Last year, Ali did a DonorsChoose campaign to get her classroom some very basic supplies: bathroom passes, bins, an electric pencil sharpener, pouches for supplies, and a laminator. Just with these items, she was able to organize her classroom better and create more learning opportunities. This week we got thank you letters from her class. They are all quite precious, but this is one of my favorites! I can’t wait to see what Ms. Ryan’s class has on its wish list this year! If you have a chance, go to the site. I’m sure you will find someplace to put that extra $10 you had this week.
3. My Job – There are some weeks when I am writing this blog post up, one of my motivations is bringing to mind the good things so I don’t dwell on the not so good things. Admittedly, my job can fall into that latter category at times. But it is never because I don’t like my job. I really do love what I do, and I have been so lucky to be given the chance to do things that I find exciting and challenging. There are times that my job is very stressful and the things that I have to do are not fun.This week, however, I had little to grouse about and much to enjoy. I got to have some really great conversations with people that created new energy and enthusiasm. I saw people step up to new challenges with excitement and energy. I heard about new work that is being done that can potentially lead to better outcomes for the children that we take care of. Every week will not be as good as this week, but that some weeks are as good as this past one, makes me grateful.
4. Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival – Last year was the first official year for the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival in Kansas City. The resurgence of spirits over the past few years has made events such as this more common across the US. The model is the iconic Tales of the Cocktail held each year in New Orleans. Founded by Ryan Maybee, Doug Frost, and Brandon Cummins, this 5 day event is a good thing in my book. Last year we went to one seminar; this year we made it to two. On Friday, we went to a discussion among Ryan, Jim Meehan (who runs PDT in NYC which is perhaps the coolest bar I have ever been in) and Angus WInchester (an “Ambassador” for Tanqueray Gin). They spent two hours giving advice on opening your own bar. Listening to such personable people, who have obvious passion for what they do, was fun and informative. They made it moreso by serving a Meehan and a Maybee inspired cocktail during the presentation. Saturday we attended the seminar on new innovators of American whiskey. Fittingly, the event was held in famous Prohibition era boss, Tom Pendergast’s office space. F Paul Pacult and Sean Ludford provided a fascinating historical retrospective of American whiskey making. We then tasted ten different craft spirits that are now being produced in the United State. Some day I will write more about this topic, but I will leave it by saying that this was a very good thing. Both events were $15 a ticket and were executed well with fabulous volunteers. Hats off to everyone and I can’t wait until next year.
5. New Yorker Cartoons – A few years ago, I got a form letter form Bob Mankoff that charmed the socks off of me. He was looking for people to buy a book of New Yorker cartoons that he was editing. He sold me with charm and humor that seemed to speak directly to me. This week, I came across a posting of Bob Mankoff’s favorite New Yorker cartoons and a link to his TED talk on the anatomy of a New Yorker cartoon. I thank Mr. Mankoff for going through those 1000 ideas every week to choose the fifteen cartoons that will end up in the magazine and more often than not, make me happy.
This week, more than most, it was important to pay attention to the good things that slid into my days. My list is actually longer than the five (plus one bonus) that I put down here. The truth, truly is that if you keep your eyes open for good, you will find it.
- I was going through a box of papers (because I am one to have many boxes of papers), and I came across this picture of Sam and Ali that I drew several years ago. It doesn’t look a whole lot like them, but it captures pieces of them that make it highly recognizable. That is me peeking out of the window.
- Believe it or not, one of my good things was the customer rep guy I talked to at T-Mobile. Dan has been traveling quite a bit this month, and he texted me that he was about to run out of minutes on his cell phone. I called up the 800 number and talked to a very nice man. He looked at our account and laughed with me as I pointed out that we are probably T-mobile’s longest served customer (11 years!). He then proceeded to give me some bonus minutes and thanked me for calling and being so nice.
- I work at a children’s hospital. My job focuses on clinical research for children with cancer and other blood diseases. This week, our Grand Rounds’ speaker talked about the progress that has been made in treating children with cancer. A major factor of that progress is that those who treat children with cancer decided many years ago that the only way that they would find answers was if everyone cooperated, treated children the same ways, and combined results to determine what works best. The cooperative clinical trial movement in children’s cancer research became the model for all research. It is why the percentage of children surviving a cancer diagnosis is so high. After the talk, I suggested to one of our doctors that we send out a note to our surgeons and pathologists who help us so much in making our clinical studies so successful. He told me that it was a good idea, but I should go ahead and send it. I sent it out under the names of our research team. The number of doctors who took the time to say thank you for the nice email and express their own pleasure in being part of the solution warmed my heart.
- I finished reading The Great Gatsby this week for about the third time. The copy that I read was the one that Dan had for one of his college English classes. Some of his annotations in the book charmed me or made me giggle. Then, the New York Times had an end piece in the magazine where they showed covers of Gatsby over time. Loved that!
- Dan and I had the best day on Saturday! He had been gone all week, so I wanted to spend the day doing stuff together. I went out for a walk, came home, and then we hit the road. We got an early lunch, followed by going to the theater to watch 42 – which we both very much liked. After the movie, we walked around Barnes and Noble for about an hour. I realized that it had been a long time since I had just done some bookstore browsing. Of course I found some bargains. From there, we did Dan’s birthday shopping, went to a favorite liquor store emporium, bought some steaks to grill out, Dan experimented with a new cocktail that was successful, ate dinner, and, finally, ended the day by watching stored up DVR’d sitcoms. Winner.
- Bonus one: I wrote quite some time ago about going to hear Jules Feiffer and Norton Juster talk. That was wonderful. This week, I found out that there is a documentary coming out about the creation of The Phantom Tollbooth. Lordy me, I can’t wait.