cool air, warm heart.

Wait, Mel’s posting twice in a week? You can thank my girl Ashley, the U.S. Government, and Songza for the inspiration.

This is a story about Sunday Funday.

I’m not sure I’ve had one of these in a while. Sunday lately has turned into a day to 1) run errands, 2) work out, 3) clean, and – the newest addition – 4) read and write, thanks to my decision to engage in a third round of higher education (yes, by choice.) Basically, I have not had a completely stress-free day in a very, very long time. (Oh, you too? Not surprised. We’re bad at this.)

And then yesterday, I finally did it – I let myself have a real day off.  Three little adventures with one of my best friends to explore a part of the city we had not yet experienced. Truly a gift. It was honestly so transformational that I just have to share, mostly hoping that you, too, will find the rationale to let yourself have a Sunday Funday sometime soon.

Adventure 1: Bar Charley Brunch

In proper Sunday Funday form, our day started out with copious amounts of breakfast food long after noon. This new little gem of a restaurant, Bar Charley, opened up in my neighborhood just a few months ago. I’m a sucker for atmosphere as much as I care about the food and drink, and this place is the perfect blend of casual, vintage, and trendy. Ashley was trying to park near my apartment just so we could grab a quick coffee, and she ended up finding a spot right around the corner from Bar Charley. As we walked by on a mission for caffeine, we almost completely missed the restaurant’s sidewalk sign advertising a new brunch menu. I stopped and took a few steps back to look inside the restaurant. No wait, so we took a chance. 20 minutes later and we were well on our way to becoming members of the Clean Plate Club thanks to the best Eggs Florentine of our lives. And don’t even get me started on the homemade ketchup. Brilliant. Our mutual friend Lauren called from Texas just as we were sitting down for brunch. So, we put her on speaker and chatted with her for a good portion of our meal. Satisfaction of the belly and the heart in one stop. Totally worth it.

great falls 3

Adventure 2: Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Park

After our accidental brunch, Ashley and I ventured to the Great Falls area of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Park. The drive alone was gorgeous, down a tree-lined parkway with the sun peeking through the colored leaves. Nerd alert: When we arrived at the park we had to take a moment to read up on the history of the place. We then chose a trail and set off along the towpath, venturing along the huge rock formations overlooking the Potomac River. We could not have asked for a more beautiful hike. The cliffs, the water, the leaves, and the expansive views were so incredible. It was hard to believe we were just 20 minutes northwest of the District.

IMG_5827Adventure 3: Old Angler’s Inn

As the sun set on the park and the wind kicked up a bit, we decided a warm beverage might be the perfect end to a banner day. Enter: Old Angler’s Inn and Beer Garden. Mulled with citrus, cinnamon, and nutmeg with a splash of bourbon, Angler’s Hot Cider was heaven in a mason jar. We sat outside on the heated patio under strings of lights chatting away as we sipped on our drinks. We went inside the Inn to explore before we left and were pleasantly surprised to find a crackling fireplace, dark wood chairs, cozy tables, and two sweet old men dressed in tweed jackets drinking wine as the jazz music softly played in the background. Honestly, the place was just idyllic.

Moral of the Story:

When people tell you to take a day to truly step away, do it. They are smart, and kind, and right. I am so, so bad at taking that advice, often bragging that I “don’t need” down time. Nonsense. My Sunday out and unplugged will go down in history as one of my favorite days ever.  “We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest…” and sometimes, we need to give ourselves a full day to do just that.

ohhhh the yoga pants.

I would rather hear what my amazing gal pals of all shapes and sizes are thinking and feeling in regards to so many other things than… yoga pants.

(If you missed the news I’m referencing, watch this. Little moment, big impact.)

File photo of Groove pants on display at the Union Square Lululemon retail store in New York, on Sept. 15, 2010 (© Benjamin Norman/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

photo: money.msn.com

For the record, I love a good pair of leggings, when worn appropriately. And, for the record, I’ve seen plenty of rail thin women wear them inappropriately. This is not a body shape or size issue. This is a judgment and social awareness issue.

And, for the sake of “rising above,” I’ll refrain from sharing my thoughts on the character of Lululemon’s founder. He had such an opportunity in that moment to do something great. Instead, we witness another judgment and social awareness issue.

In fairness, I am perpetuating the problem here a bit. Why? Because I’m blogging about it… which means you’re thinking about yoga pants again… which means I’m taking your attention away from real, important news about women and the incredible impact they are making in our world… which should far outweigh the press this guy gets about how we look in yoga pants.  But, I also think the flurry of media coverage on this presents an opportunity for me to share something really meaningful, like this:

It’s a perspective changer, to say the least. If you haven’t heard of the MissRepresentation movement or seen the full award-winning documentary, please study up… for each woman in your life working like heck to make sure the most important thing you notice about her is not how she looks in her yoga pants.

the beloved bow tie.

A framed quote on the wall of Dr. E. Gordon Gee’s office in Bricker Hall reads:

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance much less.”

How fitting.

Today, Dr. Gee announced his retirement from his role as president of The Ohio State University. Was it premature? Perhaps. Expected? Some would say yes. Heartbreaking? Ask Buckeye Nation. Maybe they could give you an answer between the tears and tissues.

IMG_4052I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Gee for the past four years. (Note the emphasis. Those specific words were chosen intentionally.)  As I sit here reflecting, admittedly choking up a bit, I can’t help but think of the countless things I’d like to say to Gordon. Among them:

Thank you for teaching our students to embrace what makes them unique. As referenced in that incredible Time Magazine article which featured you as the #1 College President in America, you claimed on one of your many summer state tours; “I am a bit odd. I am a bit evangelical. But I am not crazy.” It’s this authenticity that makes you so irresistible to everyone, from students and community members, to celebrities and dignitaries. The Toledo Blade featured and editorial earlier this week explaining that “When Mr. Gee gets in trouble, it is because he is unguarded, often refreshingly so, in our uptight, politically correct age. His comments are sometimes silly, but they come from candor, not the arrogance of power.” Nailed it.

You are brilliant, and you recognize and nurture the brilliance in others. In a society where Higher Education is criticized for holding on so dearly to tradition often at the sacrifice of strategy, efficiency, and progress, you introduced a culture that honors a storied past while rewarding ingenuity and innovation. Under your six-year second term as President, the University has made the type of progress that most could only dream of achieving in a lifetime at a beast of an institution like Ohio State. You were always up to something, but never found it worthwhile or special to pursue unless you had others to be excited with you. You crossed traditional boundaries, formed partnerships that no one else would dare attempt, and made room for your staff, faculty, and students to be bold and think big, too.

If there were ever to be declared a “People’s President” in Higher Education, you would be it. Social media feeds across Buckeye Nation today are filled with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends featuring their photos with you at some of the most important, impressive, happy, and even mundane or silly moments of their lives. The fact that they even have these photos speaks volumes. I’ve seen your schedule on a random Wednesday. (I’m fairly certain you sleep in 15-minute intervals, if at all.) And while everything on that schedule could be considered “work,” there is no doubt in my mind that you are truly thankful for the good, the bad, and even the ugly of every second of it. We see it in the sparkle of your eyes through those horn-rimmed glasses, the lightness of your giggle and signature bow tie, the genuine handshakes, and that mischievous grin. You ARE Ohio State. You made us not just your professional duty, but your personal priority. This world’s history is peppered with a special few who have welcomed that level of self-sacrifice for the betterment of an idea, an institution, and a people. Thank you for loving us that much.

Among all of the invaluable lessons I have learned from Gordon, the most poignant is simply this:

Winners are not the ones who play the game the best. They are they ones who rise above the game entirely.

And win is exactly what E. Gordon Gee did today.

We love you, President Gee. We’re still here for you, likely many of us eating Peanut M&Ms and drinking Diet Dr. Pepper in your honor. Also, I suspect we’ll see a rise in bow tie sales shortly.

a sea of red.

The Facebook News Feed.

My usual morning scroll through what is typically a black hole is a bit different – good different – today. I am just so proud to see this image post after post after post. “____ has changed their profile picture”…

2780_10102819891222305_949861870_n

Not that I don’t usually see lovely things on Facebook from these same people (and sometimes funny/snarky things too, let’s be real,) but this image is such a clear sign of the deep courage, compassion, and forward thinking of the incredible, brilliant people in my life. I realize that not everyone’s Facebook News Feed looks like this today. For those folks I hope that is coming someday sooner rather than later. But, for today I am reminded that I am a lucky woman.

So here it is. At the end of the day, if we are not treating all humans with the same dignity, honor, and respect, we have failed. As a country, as a people – we have failed. Crunch numbers, quote statistics, insert all the “but, what ifs” you’d like. First and foremost comes human decency, and kindness, and love. After that, none of the rest of the “noise” matters – period.

I’d prefer it if we didn’t have to deal with court cases and legal arguments about something so fundamental to our being, but America is not ready for that yet – I get it. So today, I watch with hope in my heart that the Supreme Court will help move this country forward.

For more information on the Human Rights Campaign “going red”, visit: https://www.facebook.com/humanrightscampaign

i would give the world to you.

Totally random and in-the-moment post:

I am 100% a show choir girl (not ashamed), and I 100% support the usage of this wonderful little number in tonight’s episode of “gLee.” This just makes my heart smile. What a fantastic way to spend three minutes and twenty seconds.

Click “play” and go dance around your living room. You deserve it.

lollipop moments.

Have you seen this yet? My pal Dr. Amy Barnes sent it my way this fall and I’ve been sharing it with my Leadership Studies classes ever since. I thought my thirty-seven seconds readers would appreciate it, too.

Speaker Drew Dudley shares the story of a young woman who thanks him for changing her life through what he now refers to as a “lollipop moment.” What happened you ask? Watch the clip to find out. But the kicker is this:

She describes their interaction in a way that is so detailed and sincere… and he doesn’t even remember it.

We are so caught up in the rat race of trying to be more, fix more, achieve more… and most of the time, it’s just noise. And it’s drowning out our most brilliant, significant moments. Drew challenges us to stop thinking about leadership as something huge and beyond ourselves, and to start thinking about it one small, personal action at a time.

…we’ve made leadership about changing the world, and there is no world. There’s only six billion understandings of it, and if you change one person’s understanding of it, one person’s understanding of what they’re capable of, one person’s understanding of how much people care about them, one person’s understanding of how powerful an agent for change they can be in this world, you’ve changed the whole thing.

I’m willing to bet you’ve had more than a few lollipop moments. Who are those difference-makers in your life? Have you told them? If not, I hope you will. Soon. And I also hope that someone, someday tells you about the lollipop moments that you have created… just in case you have forgotten how lovely an addition your everyday presence is to this world.

And hey, hat’s off to you, Drew. (Figuratively speaking. I actually really like your hat. And your accent.)

perhaps a little piece of the proverbial fountain of youth.

Currently gushing over the awesomeness of these moments, right here:

Impromptu Dance Party at the Ohio Association of Student Councils’ 2012 State Conference

Ohio State Student Leadership Advocates at their 2012 Celebration Brunch

Thanks to the inspiration of a late-night photo upload, tonight’s post is about the importance of staying ; forever young. “Ahh, to be young again”… right? News flash: you can be. And, I would argue that you should be.

First, to be clear: “young,” in this case, does not mean “irresponsible,” “immature,” or “an excuse to do whatever you want without regard to consequence or consideration of others.” Basically, acting like an idiot is not the same as acting young. (Ageism is real, people. And we all know plenty of ridiculous adults.)

However, I would be okay with you thinking about the Rod Stewart song or the Bob Dylan song (later covered by The Pretenders and performed by Norah Jones as a Steve Jobs tribute, which might be my favorite version). Maybe click those links for some background music as you read the rest of this post. I think everything sounds better with background music, anyway.

Now, look at those pictures again.

Seriously (or, maybe not seriously at all,) you can feel the sheer joy, right? Be honest. Even if you didn’t realize it as it was happening, you smiled when you saw these photos. You may still be smiling. (It’s okay. I am, too. See? :))

I love these shots, because it’s moments like 300 high school students starting a dance party to Fun’s “We Are Young” in the auditorium aisles before the closing session of a leadership conference, or like 15 of Ohio State’s most dedicated, intelligent, reliable student leaders choosing to commemorate a year of hard work in a moment of pure silliness, that help you remember really important things like:

A) Don’t apologize for your excitement and enthusiasm

B) Don’t “water down” your personality in response to some sort of arbitrary social expectation

C) Don’t ever stop playing, creating, or dreaming. You’ll become down right boring.

Reflecting on the lessons in these photos tonight also led me back to one of my all-time favorite books, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It is choc full of insight about the value of staying in touch with the qualities and practices often associated with youth, snuck into the prose in a way that is subtle, yet profound. Chapter one lays the ground work for a series of stories to come in later chapters, all of which will make you think, make you smile, and make you remember a time when you felt a bit less inhibited, a bit more curious, and most likely a lot more happy. (See below for an excerpt.)

We may not be able to forever run around like we are 8, or to forever look like we are 18 (no matter how much the housewives of __(insert city)__ and their plastic surgeons may try), but that Ponce de Leon guy may have been onto something. I hope this inspires you to at least consider getting in touch with the part of yourself that knows how to stay forever young in mind and spirit, where it really counts. Happy searching, ya’ll.

_______________________

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery – Chapter 1

Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called True Stories from Nature, about the primeval forest. It was a picture of a boa constrictor in the act of swallowing an animal. Here is a copy of the drawing.

In the book it said: “Boa constrictors swallow their prey whole, without chewing it. After that they are not able to move, and they sleep through the six months that they need for digestion.”

I pondered deeply, then, over the adventures of the jungle. And after some work with a colored pencil I succeeded in making my first drawing. My Drawing Number One. It looked something like this:

I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them.

But they answered: “Frightened? Why should any one be frightened by a hat?”

My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. But since the grown-ups were not able to understand it, I made another drawing: I drew the inside of a boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could see it clearly. They always need to have things explained. My Drawing Number Two looked like this:

The grown-ups’ response, this time, was to advise me to lay aside my drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic, and grammar. That is why, at the age of six, I gave up what might have been a magnificent career as a painter. I had been disheartened by the failure of my Drawing Number One and my Drawing Number Two. Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.

So then I chose another profession, and learned to pilot airplanes. I have flown a little over all parts of the world; and it is true that geography has been very useful to me. At a glance I can distinguish China from Arizona. If one gets lost in the night, such knowledge is valuable.

In the course of this life I have had a great many encounters with a great many people who have been concerned with matters of consequence. I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn’t much improved my opinion of them.

Whenever I met one of them who seemed to me at all clear-sighted, I tried the experiment of showing him my Drawing Number One, which I have always kept. I would try to find out if this was a person of true understanding. But, whoever it was, he, or she, would always say:

“That is a hat.”

Then I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or jungles, or stars. I would bring myself down to his level. I would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties. And the grown-up would be greatly pleased to have met such a reasonable person.

_______________________

perspective

A person. A group. An organization. Whatever it is, I hope you have this kind of passion for it. And if you don’t, I hope that in this moment you might just feel moved to do something about it.

[Late-night Wednesday inspiration credit to Steve Farber and The Radical Leap, and my gal pal Ashley Jones.]

brunch (v.)

You see those? Shelf, left side? Yep. Cinnamon buns. Size of your head. And amazing.

Know what’s even more amazing? Enjoying a bit of those, an egg/potato/bacon situation, and some coffee with one of your best girls all the way on the other side of the country. Didn’t matter that Santa Monica is a foggy mess this weekend and that it’s probably warmer in Ohio. “Brunch”/ “Brunching”/ “To Brunch”… it’s a verb. It means more than just the meal. And it is one of my favorite little pleasures in life.

(Yes, I also realize that is a rather large bottle of champagne. That’s for another day…)

 

I spy deliciousness, and copper pots.
[Literatti Cafe, West LA]

Best omelet ever.
[Literatti Cafe, West LA]

march madness: the 90s pop remix

I would like to give a shout out to the Student Activities staff at the Ohio Union at The Ohio State University. They work their behinds off, for sure. But, they also do an excellent job of taking a little “timeout” to appreciate each other’s humor, genius, and – let’s be honest – quirkiness. I think that’s pretty awesome.

Kudos to Matt Couch for setting this all up. He took requests for artists from the entire staff, then seeded them based on popularity/longevity/major hits. The staff then spent portions of our weekly staff meeting listening to song clips of each match up and voting for the winners using polling software. They completed the final round this week.

In all seriousness, check out the upsets on this sucker! Well played, friends. If there were a “thirty-seven seconds super awesome award of the week”, it would go to you.

#ilovethe90s

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