My 12 must-haves

It has been almost three weeks since my last blog entry, please forgive my silence. I have been lacking in both time and inspiration, and the winter weather is apparently taking its toll on my creativity. A number of months ago (11.12.10 to be exact… where does the time go?) my girlfriend Noelle suggested I blog about my “must-haves.” She got the idea from the “12 must-haves” monthly feature in Elle Décor. Love love love the idea – so here are my 12 must-haves (right now, this list is forever evolving…):

Love, loss, family, and friends

This past Saturday was a day of incredible joyous emotions. After a private wedding on 1.1.11, my close DC friends (minus BFF adopted sister who was of course tending to her husband) gathered Saturday afternoon to celebrate my husband and I, share laughs, share marriage advice, and above all share cocktails. For a few hours, my Alchimie Forever showroom was transformed into a cocktail venue, with a fabulous bartender, Robert, mixing up classic New Orleans cocktails (where my husband is from) and champagne cocktails (always my drink of choice). Every single person who came made me feel so special, so loved, it was truly magical.

Yesterday afternoon my father called me to let me know my grandmother had just passed away. While she had been ill for the last year, and hospitalized for the last month, this still came as a surprise. Does it ever not? This past week-end, her brother and sister came to Geneva from Italy to bid their last farewells. My great-aunt and great-uncle left Sunday evening, and a few hours later my Nona slipped into a coma. She held on until my father could make it back to her side Monday evening, knowing how so very much he wanted to be there when she decided her time had come. She was 92. She had a great life, getting to see her eldest son go to college and then medical school (two firsts in her family), getting so see many grandkids grow up, and even getting to meet one great-grand-daughter. None of that means that I was ready to see her go. She worked harder than anyone else I have ever met in my life, as a farmer and a factory worker. Her hands showed years of manual labor. Her ways of relaxing were to make rugs and clean and scrub her house. She was grateful for all of the little things in life, her motto always being “you have to take life the way it comes.” The good and the bad, the easy and the hard, always with a smile and with a good attitude. I so miss her already. I still had so much to learn from her.

These events reminded me that time with loved ones, time with family, is sacred above all else. These events put things in perspective. My to-do list will be here tomorrow. The world will not end because I have to cancel a meeting to make it home for my grandma’s funeral. I remember when my grandfather passed away I was a sophomore in college, and it was during finals. I told my parents I couldn’t make it home to the funeral because of exams. I hadn’t even checked with the Dean to see what arrangements could be made – I just felt like there was nothing more important than getting my As. My parents, being who they are, left that decision entirely up to me. I don’t regret many things in my life, but that decision I regret every time I think of my Nono, that is one decision I wish I could go back and undo, and remake. Not this time. I will make time to go visit by BFF, no matter what plans have to be canceled. And I will go home for the funeral on Monday. In a way, I am doing just what my friends did on Saturday when they came to be with me on my special occasion: I am making time for the ones I love. Love, family, and friendship above all else. Always. In case I had forgotten, now I remember.

New year's goals

It is about mid-day January 5th, and I feel a bit behind already – the start of 2011 has been amazingly fun, but not as productive as usual. Case in point, I just wrote down my personal 2011 goals. (The business ones were taken care of the last week of December at least). I like to write them on the first page of my planner (yes, I still like paper planners), so that I can take a look at them on a regular basis and make sure I am making appropriate progress. I can’t help myself but do this every January… it must be because growing up, when I still spent New Year’s Eve dinner with my parents and sisters, we each had to take turns and say what we accomplished over the past year, and list our goals for the coming year.

Waiting for Superman

I am flying back from Geneva to DC. I have a long list of work I was going to do on the plane, a long list of various things to “think about” (I love to think in the air…). But, somehow, the personal video screen has kidnapped me. Somehow, I started to watch “Waiting for Superman.” It seemed the perfect movie to watch, as I have been thinking about education a lot lately.

My best friend is moving back to DC, and thinking about where she is going to live based on the school options; her daughter – and one of my goddaughters – is not even 3 years old. One of my sisters recently left Georgetown University after two years, without a degree. At 14, one of my future nephews is at an important turning point in his Swiss public school curriculum. Two weeks ago, one of my colleagues decided to leave DC (and Alchimie) and head back to Missouri because she was offered the chance to pursue an MBA for free. And, most vividly, my father told me yesterday, while we were talking about my 18 month old niece Sasha, that an adult’s responsibility in life is to teach his or her kids and grandkids about the world (in this case, he was teaching her about the elusive and temporary nature of snowflakes). Of course, over the last two years, I have also followed the rise and fall of DC ublic Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Somehow, however, I had missed this movie. Thank goodness for trans-Atlantic flights.

I don’t pretend to know anything about how we should educate our children; I certainly don’t pretend to know more than the thousands of professionals dedicated to education. I don’t even pretend to know if I would choose a public over a private over a charter school for my child. But, I do know that I agree with Bill Gates when he says that the economic success of the country, of a country, depends on the education of its people. I do know that education is a right, and should not be left up to chance or up to a lottery. I do know that parents should be involved in their children’s education. And I do know that my father (who was the first in his family to go to college, let alone obtain a medical degree) was right when he made me study when I didn’t want to; when he told me that As were the only option, not because he liked As, but because they would get me into college; when he told me that education was the most important thing in the world, and that especially for a girl, more degrees is always better. Thank goodness for Dad.

Grateful… for football

It is Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving Thursday, and as if yesterday wasn’t enough, I can’t wait to have some leftovers for lunch and watch more football this afternoon (college in this case, Alabama vs. Auburn). Yesterday was one of my most fun Thanksgivings ever. Instead of listing the really important things I am grateful for this year (family, friends, a fiancé, health…), I thought I should focus on what really occupied my day yesterday, namely football.