Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I Found My Island, I've Been On It This Whole Time

While I’ve long said numbers aren’t my thing, I’ve realized over time that might not actually be the case. Music and dancing involve numbers. Cooking, too. And dates.

It’s been pointed out to me before that I use dates and timelines when telling stories. “And that was at the end of 2012,” or, “…on the next day, which was a Thursday, which was the 2nd…” and so on. Strange, maybe...it’s just how my mind works.

Last summer I was curious about something so I sat down to do some counting and figure it out. I'm glad I took the time to do it. When it showed up on my calendar yesterday I became a bit emotional.



Throughout the day yesterday I saw things differently, thought about my life and the people in it. Was, and am, overcome with gratitude thinking about how things have fallen into place.

One of the very first posts I ever wrote, over ten and a half years ago, had to do with where I’m from, with comparing New York with Utah. In that post I said, “After almost nine years of living here, I can be from Utah now.”

It’s not that my views have changed. In fact, I love Utah more now than I did then. I still catch my breath at the views here, the mountains, the sunsets. I love Provo, I really do; it’s not a very popular thing to do so I become defensive of my city. I love Salt Lake, too; countless times I’ve been asked, “Why don’t you just move there? You’re up there all the time.”

What’s changed, or at least become more clear, is not just that Utah is my home, but that New York is also my home. Provo and Busti, Salt Lake and Jamestown. Corners of Manhattan, sections of San Diego, and hundreds of places in between. Turns out, not where but who you’re with that really matters

Thursday, November 26, 2015

26 - Kyle

For the month of November I’ve decided to post each day about a person or people who have influenced my life for good. There’s no way I could include each and every person in one month or even one year, and for that I hope you’ll forgive me. This year, especially, has brought an acute awareness of the kindness and generosity which surrounds me and my kids, so here’s one attempt at giving thanks.

26 – Kyle


In what some might consider the most unlikely of pairings (but not really, if you think about it), Kyle’s become one of my closest friends.

We had been, at very best, casual friends from our association on the podcast and interactions on facebook, but not more. Almost a year ago he reached out to ask if I was, ‘doing a divorce’ (my favorite way I’d heard it put), and expressed his sympathy and support.

Earlier this year he reached out again, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. He didn’t know it, but that very day he had done something that was pivotal in helping heal a vital part of my relationship with my daughter, in a very serious way at a critical time. I know I’m being vague in not telling more about how this happened, but you’re just going to have to take my word for it: it’s something I’ll never forget as long as I live, and the fact that I heard from him that same day was strikingly serendipitous.

We talked quite a bit about fitness classes; I started going to his classes when I could, and he was the first person I told after I got certified to teach Zumba. We talked about cycling and triathlons, about scouts and scotcharoos.

He drove down to go with me to the Neon Trees concert in June and I maintain, without hyperbole, it was one of the greatest nights of my life: the simple enjoyment of great company, music, and a sudden overwhelming appreciation for the beauty of where I live as well as for this stage of life. That night I got my smile back.

Kyle works harder than most anyone I know. He works hard, he plays hard, and at the top of his list is his kid, always. Kyle’s a wonderful father.

I’ve learned a lot from Kyle, and I keep learning from him. The more I learn about him the more I see we have in common, even with our many differences. He’s a safe place for me to vent about things, he's smart and he has sharp insight. Because of our interactions and conversations I’ve been stronger in my own existing family relationships, and stronger in facing real fears and challenges, some of which I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to overcome, truly. What I’ve learned from Kyle has facilitated initiative and boldness I had forgotten was in my possession. His encouragement has been ameliorative, for self and situation, and his praise brings me closer to seeing where I want to be.

Oh, and with him I’ve laughed as hard as I ever have, and in ways I didn’t know I could. And that’s important to me.

Thanks, Kyle. I love you.

#IHaveAwesomeFriends

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

25 - Richie

For the month of November I’ve decided to post each day about a person or people who have influenced my life for good. There’s no way I could include each and every person in one month or even one year, and for that I hope you’ll forgive me. This year, especially, has brought an acute awareness of the kindness and generosity which surrounds me and my kids, so here’s one attempt at giving thanks.

25 - Richie


Meh.






















Just kidding.

I don’t actually remember meeting Richie, I just … I think there was a time when I didn’t know him, but that was a long time ago. How’s that for specific?

I do, however, remember going to see him at a haunted house (I didn’t go inside, though) to talk about working together on a podcast. That was years ago, and for a long time I was involved a little bit, where I could be, but in the last year is when I’ve really been in a position where I can prioritize it like I’ve wanted to, and I’m glad because much of the best parts of my year have come from my associations and work with the podcast. I can’t tell you how many times this year I’ve thought about how grateful I am for that night at the haunted house all those years ago.

Richie and I have a lot in common, like siblings would. We’re both connectors, we both enjoy music and performing, we both sort of run sometimes. We also tease each other like siblings which is to say he teases me a ton and I just take it and roll my eyes and tell him he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Richie has been a really fantastic friend for a long time. He’s a friendly guy. He’s just nice. He knows how to be with people, which seems like something everyone would know, but they don’t, and Richard is fantastic at it. People are drawn to his charisma and charm.

He’s really good at his job. I mean…probably. I’m not an expert and I’m not his boss. But what I’ve seen, and the resulting product, tell that he’s great at what he does. I’ve also seen this with the podcast, he is a very busy guy and he gets it done. In fact, and I am not making this up, Ted Koppel said to him, “Well, thanks very much, Richard, and I genuinely enjoyed talking to you. You’re a very smart fella and I’m glad that my career is mostly behind me because I’d hate to have to compete against you.” (Maybe I cried when I heard that.)

Richie has taken my phone calls and messages and helped me out of some pretty stupid situations, whether with humor or sincerity or teasing—usually a combination of all three. I’m grateful for our chats, I’m grateful for his commitment to what’s important, and I’m even grateful for his teasing.

Thanks, Richard. I love you. 

#IHaveAwesomeFriends

24 - Chrysula

For the month of November I’ve decided to post each day about a person or people who have influenced my life for good. There’s no way I could include each and every person in one month or even one year, and for that I hope you’ll forgive me. This year, especially, has brought an acute awareness of the kindness and generosity which surrounds me and my kids, so here’s one attempt at giving thanks.

24 – Chrysula


Beautiful name, beautiful woman.

We met in 2012 in Park City. She saw me present at a social media conference and reached out to me to ask if I’d like to participate in an upcoming campaign. I can’t imagine what would have happened had I declined.

After a few months of working together in that capacity she asked if I’d like to work with her otherwise. Again, I’m so glad we moved forward with that, and don’t know what my life would look like now if we hadn’t.

There is a power in her gentle nature, raw strength in her soft tones. She is a force that inspires, always thinking while listening to her heart.

I’ve watched Chrysula moderate panels, facilitate introductions and connections, interview individuals from around the world, and plan, organize, and run events. I’ve sat in meetings with her, and watched and listened to her speak to groups large and small.

I’ve seen her in her home with her family, as she and her husband work together in the practical operations and demands of being partners, parents, and professionals. It isn’t easy, she’s the first to say it: she has no qualms about sharing the #KeepinItReal parts of her life, which is refreshing and encouraging. She simply doesn’t do guilt.

Though I work with her professionally I’m grateful to call her friend. She has shown and given me work and opportunity which has helped me know not only what I’m capable of doing but further helped me see my potential in ways I hadn’t considered. Her example of hard work—exhausting, never ending—has also shown me the reward of its own process, an invaluable lesson.
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Quite simply, Chrysula has changed my life. She is real and honest. She is thoughtful, deliberate and encouraging, bold and plain and loving in what she conveys. I continue to learn from her, whether she’s teaching me directly or I’m watching and listening to how she interacts with others. The world – and I do mean the world—is better because of what Chrysula does with her time, energy, and resources. What a thrill to be included, even a little bit, in her realm.

Thanks, Chrysula. I love you. 

#IHaveAwesomeFriends

Monday, November 23, 2015

23 - Kelly

For the month of November I’ve decided to post each day about a person or people who have influenced my life for good. There’s no way I could include each and every person in one month or even one year, and for that I hope you’ll forgive me. This year, especially, has brought an acute awareness of the kindness and generosity which surrounds me and my kids, so here’s one attempt at giving thanks.

23 – Kelly


Yup.

I have only seen Kelly IRL a couple of times. She lives in Illinois, and I came to know her through blogging (specifically a BlogHer conference, if I’m not mistaken). Still, from a distance, she brightens my days.

She’s an educator with a fierce love for her students and their families. Middle schoolers and teens in general get a bad rap, but Kelly doesn’t buy into that. She sees not only their potential but their present light, and importantly, she lets them know…and she does so without taking their crap. The result, naturally, is they love her.

She’s a mom who celebrates her children, their journeys, their individuality, their relationships, their senses of humor, their joys and successes.

Kelly is a strong, powerful, brilliant woman and activist. She has a voice and she uses it. If I share a worthwhile article it’s likely I first saw it on Kelly’s feed. I’ve reached out to her privately about issues (like gender, race, and education) and her patience, cheer and energy have strengthened me.

She appropriately and respectfully shares the highs and lows of her life’s experiences, authentic and trustworthy. Her personal experience and journey comprise a phenomenal narrative and illustration of hard work and community and love—and she hasn’t put those experiences behind her, she honors the role they play in the existence of her being (and I happen to think her willingness to hold onto and generously share that part of her life is a huge reason she resonates so strongly with youth and adults alike). The woman is the real deal. I think it was just over a year ago she shared a simple image with the text: ‘Do no harm but take no shit.’ I see Kelly do this, and I aspire.

Speaking of aspire…

Kelly got married this year. Now, I’m not saying I’m aspiring to get married (in fact, I’ll say right now: I’m not). What struck me about Kelly’s wedding is the love story behind it. Admittedly I know very little of the details, but what I know is she did things on her own terms. From afar I have watched a strong woman love herself enough to listen to her spirit, to know herself enough to confidently not just recognize but decide the seasons of her life’s path.

The reason I chose the picture at the top of this post is because of the effect it had on me when I saw it earlier this year, as she was preparing for her wedding, with the caption, “In the morning I couldn’t get up because you clasped your hands together around me and I was the most amazing stuck I’ve ever been. I never want to move.” When I saw it, and read that, I burst into tears. I’ve gone back to look at it several times since I saw it in June. I don’t have any expectation or even optimism that I’ll ever have that in my life. But I’m happy for my friends who do have it. And I know it exists because Kelly said so.

Thanks, Kelly. I love you.

#IHaveAwesomeFriends

22 - Josh

For the month of November I’ve decided to post each day about a person or people who have influenced my life for good. There’s no way I could include each and every person in one month or even one year, and for that I hope you’ll forgive me. This year, especially, has brought an acute awareness of the kindness and generosity which surrounds me and my kids, so here’s one attempt at giving thanks.

22 – Josh


Josh and I had been kind of friends-in-law for years, with casual and friendly, though infrequent, interaction.

Long ago he sent me this kind message about something I had written: ‘So I had to give the Elders quorum lesson today (and my wife taught RS) about the "Like a Broken Vessel" talk Elder Holland gave last conf. We both used some quotes from your blog about that talk. Especially your description about what depression feels like. It was powerful and beautiful and so eloquently written. There was a brother in my class who suffers from several mental illnesses, the least of which is depression and he said he'd never heard a better or more accurate description. So thanks for being you and for putting good out into the world and being great. And for making my lesson better.’ I’ve never forgotten how touching and validating that was, and how kind of him to have reached out to share that with me.

Then almost a year ago he reached out like this: ‘Hey! I saw your post today. Are you getting a divorce? So am I. I am actually gay.’

We didn’t know it at the time, but that was the beginning of #DivorceClub, which is just the two of us getting together whenever we feel like it, sharing good food and conversation. For both of us, divorces were finalized this year.

Josh has a fantastic eye and mind for design. He knows all the best television and draws appropriate parallels between tv and life when the situation calls for it. He’s kind and honest. He’s a loving and thoughtful dad, and he’s even a great dog owner, which surprises no one more than him.

I love that he’s up for going to lunch or dinner or a movie or The Big Gay Broadway Singalong or a rally at a moment’s notice. He’s both an introvert AND an extrovert, something he’s working through. Oh, and he’s a caterer and his food is OUTSTANDING. You should hire him for your events (check out @batterandwhisk on Instagram).

I’m really grateful for Josh and for our friendship. Our lives are so similar and so different, but I know I can count on him for hope and support and perspective. And laughter. And suggestions for what to listen to (hint: probably #HAMILTON). Being where I am in my life feels less lonely with Josh to talk with about it. I look forward to seeing what life has in store for him. It’ll be greater than he can imagine.

Thanks, Josh. I love you.

#IHaveAwesomeFriends