Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Planning for New York

I just booked a flight to NYC.

I will be there all week on business and and at an office Christmas Party, but considered extending my stay through the weekend for some added fun.

So, I contacted a friend who lives off Times Square.
"You going to be around that weekend?"
"I should be around, but I may be going to CT because it'll be the last weekend before the Simon's leave for the holidays. So, we may have Christmas then."

(That's Paul Simon and wife Edie Brickell, so who can possibly compete with that invitation?)

I contact a friend in Springfield, New Jersey.
"Hey, you gonna be around that weekend? I'll be flyin' out of Newark on Sunday."
"You are not going to believe this, and I hate to say it, but I have to go out of town, again, on Dec. 14, and I'll be gone for the weekend."

I call my aunt in Lindenhurst, Long Island.
"Are you gonna be around that weekend? I'd like to take the train in and see you and the cousins." (who live in nearby towns).
"Oh sure! We have nothing on the calendar and we'll be in town that weekend. But you should think of flying in and out of JFK because it's so much closer. Just 10 minutes from Rockville Center."

Okay. So I book my flight in and out of JFK instead, and before I receive the email confirmation, my phone rings.

"Shawn? I hope you didn't book your flight yet. I just talked to Camille. She's flying to Florida that weekend. I'll talk to Jerry and Annette and Linda and see what's up with them, but it's so close to Christmas, they might be going out of town themselves. I will be here, though. Would you be bored with just me? And what time is your flight? 5:45? That's dark then and I don't drive in the dark."

"Yes!" I reassure her. "I will miss everyone, but I still want to see you. I can take a train or a towncar or a bus or cab or a shuttle to the airport."

We hang up. And a cloud of unsettleness comes over me. I'm excited but feel a bit of apprehension and worried that I might have booked my flight too soon without really waiting to formulate my plans more.

If this hick-up is an indication of what I'm about to embark upon in a few weeks, then I better settle in, put on my gloves and buckle up for some unexpected adventures. Life has a way of repeating itself.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Faith and Fate and Friends

I was 19 years old when I spent a hot summer in East Texas at a bible boot camp for young teens. (That's my own affectionate name for it).

I wasn't raised religious. I was born catholic and attended catechism when I was small, but my parents pulled us out when the church began charging money for it.

When I was 17 and on a summer vacation traveling across country with my family and friends, I picked up a tattered-up little paperback book and read it while sitting in the back of a Dodge Van traveling somewhere between California and North Carolina.

This lovely book made me see things in an entirely new way and would undoubtedly change me forever. The book was called Mr. God, this is Anna. It's the story of a 5-year-old girl who's found wandering the streets of London who turns out be quite extraordinary and insightful. It hit such a cord with me and so I longed to have that same close friendship with God as she did.

It was because of that book and two years later, I decided to spend my summer at a bible boot camp in East Texas. I was like fish out of water. Everyone carried around leather bound bibles with their names engraved on the cover. I had a paper-back catholic teenage bible called THE WAY that had faces of teenagers inside the words. I didn't know any of the songs they sang, I didn't know how to pray and was confused by bible stories... thought it was Gepetto living in the belly of a whale and who was Jonah.

One morning we were called into a meeting and were told we were going to be put on teams of four and venture off into small towns around East Texas for a long weekend called a "Faith Outreach". We would be entirely on our own with nothing but a small overnight bag with a change of clothes and $5. We had a week to start exercising our faith by praying in $5. We could only use the $5 dollars that came to us in an act of faith.

I prayed for $5 to come in every single day. Every morning when the mail would arrive, I would eagerly check my mailbox and every morning, I came up empty-handed.

A week later, on the morning of the Faith Outreach, I saw the white school bus circle around up the drive to take us on our adventure. But I still hadn't received my $5. I was embarrassed and disappointed and felt foolish having my small overnight bag packed with clothes. I was convinced everyone would see right through me and know I'm not loved by God as much as they were.

"Does everyone have their $5?!"
I felt my face sting from shame. I raised my hand and was relieved to discover a handful of others who also didn't have $5. We were told to bow our heads and pray once more and then go to our mailboxes to find the money. Sure enough, there was an envelope in my box addressed "To Shawn from Jesus" and there was a $5 dollar bill in there. I recognized Roger's handwriting on the envelope.

Off we went on our adventure! I was let off in the oldest town in Texas called Nacodoches near the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University.

Along with three other girls, I stuffed my overnight bag inside the girls' locker room and then walked blocks and blocks down to the K-Mart and ordered All-You-Can-Eat fish sticks for our meal, bought baby ruth candy bars for dessert and umbrellas on that rainy summer day and before we left K-Mart, we realized we had spent nearly all our money.

Back on campus, we met some girls who invited us to stay with them for the weekend.

One of the girl's boyfriend was named Basillio, but they called him Bo. He graciously offered us his Pontiac Trans Am to drive around in during our short stay.

Once the weekend was over and after the white bus picked us up along the highway and drove us back to the bible boot camp, we sat around in a circle and told our stories to each other how we learned faith in our unforgettable adventures. Sitting there in a glowing silence, feeling good how we were all protected and learned of God's faith, the leader passed the offering basket around asking us to thank God by putting the $5 back in the basket. We didn't have our $5. So it cost us another $5 to thank God for teaching us faith. Imagine that! $10 dollars. It took me weeks to pay that off.

Fourteen years later, I become best friends with a girl who lives nearly 2,000 miles away from where I live and who somewhere in a conversation, tells me she went to Stephen F. Austin and one of her room-mate's boyfriend was named Basillio, but they just called him Bo. And she talked of some girls staying in the apartment one hot summer weekend and Bo loaning them his blue Trans Am.

Did I learn about faith that weekend when I was 19? No, of course not. But fourteen years later, I DID learn we live in a small world. And I learned more about fate than faith and even though we didn't meet up that weekend and become fast friends, we did so years later.

I guess what I'm tryin' to say is... I believe that some friendships are meant to happen to each other and no matter the time or the place or the distance in years, if its meant to be, it's meant to be. Its the faith in friendships and the fate that brings it altogether that is more powerful than a 3-day outreach on the backroads of East Texas. And this Thanksgiving I am grateful for such a friendship as this.

Friday, November 17, 2006

My car turns 66666 miles tonight

I don't know why, but this sort of thing thrills me. (I also get excited by seeing the digital clock read: 12:34 or 3:33 –– even 7:23 because that's my birthday. And I don't even like math!)

I was driving home from work this evening and became fixated on my mileage. I wanted to pull over to take the photo, but I was on a dark and windy road and it didn't feel safe, so I snapped this photo, driving around a sharp corner instead.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Me in my bathing suit

So I walk into a Marin County Physical Therapy Office for an appointment. A Seattle friend had recommended a wonderful physical therapist 45 minutes from where I live. "He's wonderful, Shawn!" she told me. "And be sure and wear your bathing suit underneath your clothes because he might want you to sit in a hot tub or put you in a pool to swim laps or sit in a sauna during your session".

"WOW!" I thought. "This is going to be fun!"

Marin has a reputation of being perhaps a bit more holistic, intuitive and spiritual than it's neighboring counties.

I happened to be in the area, so I just walked in to make my appointment.

When I told the receptionist who I wanted to see, she pushed her mouth to the far side of her face and whispered, "he's only working part-time these days." She leans in closer, darting her eyes back and forth, making sure no one is within listening ear: "He's only seeing celebrities at this time..."

I rolled my eyes at her in an amused disbelief and then focused them on the long line of physical therapist's business cards along the counter. From Hellerworkers to Reiki to Reflexology to Sports Medicine. How could I possibly decide which specialist to choose?

My eyes finally stopped and softened upon a woman's name, Sophie. Such a sweet, beautiful name. I picked up her card and plunked it down on the counter saying, "Then I would like to make an appointment with Sophie."

She stepped back and said in a distant voice, "I don't make appointments for Sophie, but I'll give her the message when she's through with her 1 o'clock appointment and she'll call you."

"Fine", I said and drove home.

An hour and a half later, she called me. She was comfortable and inviting as I expected her to be. We made our appointment for the following Tuesday.

Sophie was on time when she greeted me warmly from the waiting room. She lead me down the hallway into one of the rooms and I sat across from her in a chair. She seemed so genuinely interested in me.

I began to tell her about my injuries and how it hurt when ... I did this ... or whenever ... I did that ... and she was extremely kind and gracious. Just as I knew she would be with her beautiful name. She asked me a lot of questions. Her face showed such concern and even sadness when I expressed to her my story.

I glanced down at my watch and worried she wouldn't have enough time to do any bodywork on me as my 50-minute appointment was closing in on us, when she asked, "Can I give you a cup of tea? A glass of water?" I remember being told to drink lots of water before and after a massage because the body can become dehydrated after bodywork, so when she left the room to bring my water, I believed this was my Que to quickly dress down to my bathing suit.

She returned shortly after, and without a change of expression continued asking me questions about my life. I smiled under my breath, thinking, "How "Marin" is she!" Finally, she asked me, "Are you seeing a physical therapist?"

I said, "Well, no. That's why I'm here."

She looks down at me, sitting there, stripped down to only a bathing suit, and without blinking an eye, or a flicker of an expression, she handed me her business card and said, "I'm .. a .. clinical .. psychologist."

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Yes, you can

This video is for you to watch and listen. If you feel your luck is down. When you feel the world owes you something. When you feel uninspired and feel like quitting, please don't. You really can go on. You're much stronger than you know.

I believe in you.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Inside peek of things

I'm sorta bashful to mention this other blog I started, but then I thought, maybe you can help. For the entire month of November, I will post a photo of the inside of a different refrigerator each day. In December I'll pick a different topic for us to peek inside.

I think it'll be fun to post an inside peek into other people's lives. If you would like to take a photo of the inside of your fridge and send it to me, I won't publish your name with the photo. It'll just be yours and my own little secret. But it would help me out and I just think it could be fun.

You can email your photos with the subject title: Fridge Photo to shawn@doodlegirl.com. If you would rather peek inside and not participate... I welcome your visit there anytime.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Mimi and Starbucks

My friend Mimi supposedly has a very difficult name to spell.