Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Good Morning

Salutation to the Dawn

Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendour of beauty.
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision
But today well-lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day!
Such is the Salutation to the Dawn.
- Kalidasa, Indian Poet

Monday, January 18, 2010

Renee Salivaras Epitome of Grace & Courage

Renee Salivaras has been sidetracked. Inconvenienced. Not the type of interruption where the phone ringing in the middle of a great movie or your child tugging on you while your talking to your best friend. Renee has been sidetracked by cancer. It hasn't stopped her, it's barely slowed her down.

Nearly three years ago, Renee was diagnosed with breast cancer. She's had surgeries and chemo and a variety of other treatments. She's lost her hair not once but twice. 

She still looks after her family, is active in the community and goes to work everyday in Mykonos, the restaurant she owns with her husband Andreas.
She never complains and always has a huge smile as she greets her guests in the restaurant. Nothing has changed only now she does it sans hair.
Renee says she's not sick, she's just been sidetracked. I say she's remarkable.

Her daughter Sofia Zaronias is determined to see that a cure is found. She'll walk in the Susan Komen 3 day in honor of her mother's courage to fight and the grace and dignity with which she has done it.
Sofia has trained for the past year, with her team of 3 they call... The Miracle Milers. They will be cheered on by Renee herself, who will be there at the start of the race to see them off and meet them again at the finish. Sofia Zaronias says her mom is more than a mom, she's her best friend. Renee Salivaras says Sofia is more than a daughter, she is her strength and her courage. I say they are an inspiration.

I wrote that in October 2008. This morning, my incredibly brave friend Renee, "our angel" as Sofia calls her, left us.

Memories of our friendship flow today in a river of tears. I won't get to sit with her over coffee anymore but with every cup I ever drink, she will be here in my heart. While cancer took her life it never got the best of her. Chemo took her hair, but never her spirit.

Renee was beautiful, in every sense of beautiful. Her eyes were an intense, insightful blue. They were indeed mirrors to her soul.

It gives me enormous comfort to know what a faithful, spiritual person Renee was. We never passed a church without her respectfully doing the sign of the cross.
Her family was everything to her and she was devoted to them. We never had a conversation that didn't include her sharing their latest accomplishments.

I'll never forget our first meeting. I felt like I had always known her. Renee had that way about her. She made everyone feel as though they were part of her inner circle. I remember years later sitting around the table at dinner and everyone speaking Greek and I was of course clueless. They always forgot I wasn't Greek, to the Salivaras', to Renee, I was family.

Everyone who walked into her life whether through the restaurant door as a customer or a friend of twenty years was greeted with an enormous smile, a hug, a warm welcome. Renee was probably the most generous person I knew. She always gave to her church, to worthy causes, to her community, to friends and family. She had a heart of gold.

Renee didn't judge. She always forgave. I loved the way she always wanted my opinion. I can hear her now "So what do YOU think Sand". She really wanted to know. What I thought mattered to her.

There were no pretenses with Renee. She was as honest and genuine as they get.

We used to take "day trips" spending the day doing everything and nothing. We would talk for hours about anything. Nothing was off limits. We never had a cross word, well except when we would stop for lunch and fight over the bill.

I remember going the the Komen 3 Day with Renee to cheer on Sofia. She thanked every walker she saw. Cheered everyone on. She was filled with gratitude. She was amazing, a pillar of strength. I remember Sofia crossing the finish line and her and Renee embracing. I sobbed. It was a bond like no other.

Sofia is pregnant now and Renee will never get to meet her grandchild, but I know Renee will be there every moment of everyday of that babies life. Every time I hold Sofias baby I will think of Renee and the joy and love she brought to so many. And when the baby grows older, I will share my memories with him or her of my dear friend, their yaya.

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Changing Landscape

You heard it here first! After a six-year relationship I am calling it quits with my landscaper. He did a great job for the first five years but he has gradually become too comfortable and complacent. Our yard, once the envy of the neighborhood is now barely holding its own at “status quo”. This might be acceptable if we were paying for status quo, but we’re paying “green with envy” monthly maintenance fees. The coconut that broke the Royal Palm Frond, came by way of a $300.00 unapproved up charge for additional palm tree trimming he said was not covered in the monthly fee. This may have been all well and good had he not been so presumptuous in assuming we were willing and able to pay the additional charges. He never gave us the courtesy of telling us in advance. It’s not so much about the $300.00 as it about the fact that he took away our freedom of choice!

The landscape is changed in many ways, mostly as a metaphor for my life.

Six years ago, I would have never had the courage to confront my landscaper. He had all the power, I would have paid the up charge, I would have settled for status quo. But, the landscape HAS changed. Mid Life happened.

So, I tell the landscaper, the economy has changed. {As if he hadn’t noticed.} The “landscape” of the way we do business has changed. It is unacceptable to us that he would just charge us for something we didn’t request. To which he said he would split the difference with us, letting us know that he felt that was a very generous offer on his part.

I don’t know what struck me more, the fact that he charged us or that he had the audacity to let us know he was doing us a favor by splitting the cost. To that I confidently said “at the end of the month your services will no longer be required.”

It was liberating! No longer bound by the insecurities of my youth there is something so incredibly profound about realizing the landscape has changed in more than one way. Mid Life is here dammit and lots of good will come of it!

It’s the time to see your childhood dreams come to fruition, throw caution to the wind and challenge yourself. Getting out of your “comfort zone” had become your comfort zone!

The status quo just doesn’t cut it anymore. Time used to be measured by how expensive my watch was. Today, time is more about “how I spend it” and “who I spend it with” …

Mid Life is about luxury. The “luxury” of knowing who you are, where you’ve been and where you’re headed. It’s not the beginning of the end, but the beginning of the beginning.

New Beginnings … Second Chances

In the amount of time it took me to write this post, my landscaper had a change of heart. Not only did he wave the additional charges, he lowered our maintenance fee by $25.00 a month with a promise to bring back his A game.

Mid Life is about taking a stand, backing it up with fact and purpose. It’s about giving and getting second chances. It’s about moving forward, going places and enjoying the ride, no matter what the vehicle!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Is there "Truth" in Numbers

Scott Stratton a.k.a. @unmarketing wrote a blog "Saran Wrap Series ~ My Transparency On Twitter." It's about automating your Twitter account. It really caught my interest because for some time I had been vacillating about whether or not I should start automating my Twitter account to "beef up my numbers."

For some reason credibility comes along with tens of thousands of followers. As much as I would love to see my "reach" grow swiftly and in record numbers, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. The beauty of Twitter is the sincerity of its users and the ability to really connect with people I otherwise would never have met. Managing my Twitter account is no different than the way I conduct business or the way I make friends IRL. It's all personal. It all has purpose and meaning. In doing so, Twitter has changed my life in so many ways. Opportunity has come tweeting more than once. Had there only been spammers & porn stars in my tweet stream I might have missed some of the remarkable people that have come into my life.

Twitter has taken me around the world, virtually and IRL. Somehow that far outweighs "beefing up my numbers."