The Other Man: An Unlikely Valentine’s Love Story

Heart GraphicLove. Passion. Amore. It’s impossible to define it in its infinite forms, even though its power shapes nearly everything about us.

On this Valentine’s Day I feel compelled to tell you about a man who continually sets my heart on fire and leaves me weak in the knees with his passion.

This man, by the way, is in serious competition with my husband.

Okay, I confess: I’ve been fooling around.

I can picture the disgusted looks on your faces as you read this news. But try not to think too badly of me, even if this affair has been going on for nearly fifteen years.

It might make you happy to know that this “other man” whom I adore so much, has never once brought me roses or chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Nor has he toasted with me champagne, pampered me with peeled grapes or showered me with sweet nothings. In fact, he has never even uttered a word to me.

The name of this quiet man? Fred.

If you’re concerned about my darling husband, don’t worry, he’s okay with Fred. He even supports my flings with him.

You see, Fred is a driving force in the battle against cancer.

His full name is Fred Lebow, the founder of the New York City Marathon, and also the founder of Fred’s Team, an organization supporting runners who dream of a world without cancer.

In early 1990, after a long illustrious running career, Fred Lebow was diagnosed with brain cancer. He was determined to use his passion for running as a means to battle this insidious disease, and designated Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center as the New York City Marathon’s first official charity.

Fred's Team LogoHis program, simply named Fred’s Team, encouraged runners to gather pledges for each mile they ran and donate it to MSKCC.

Since 1995 Fred’s Team has raised more than $45 million for pioneering research.

How did I fall head-over-heels for Fred?

Simple. Cancer drove a truck through my heart when I was eighteen years old. My dad, who was just 51 at the time, was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died six months later–just a few weeks into my freshman year of college.

A decade later, that same semi-truck looped back around and plowed into my heart once again. This time it was my mom who was stricken by the disease. Her breast cancer left me dazed, my heart barely pumping. All I could do was watch helplessly (long-distance, no less) as she suffered through painful surgery and treatments.

It’s then I dragged my running shoes out of the closet and fell in love with Fred–or more accurately Fred’s Team, and what it represented.

I’d always loved running, but my shoes hadn’t logged more than five miles in a good long while. Somehow lacing them up again and putting one foot in front of the other helped me sort through my anger, grief and frustration. It also helped remind me of my inner strength—even if setting a goal like the New York City Marathon was so absurd I couldn’t bring myself to utter the words to a soul, except for my husband.

When I joined Fred’s Team though, I realized that it was impossible to raise money for cancer research if you didn’t tell people what you’re doing. Eventually I built up my courage and began sending out letters. Unnerving is the best way to describe it–especially since asking people for money is one of my least favorite things to do.

When I confided in a good friend that I felt like I was bragging when I told people I was running a marathon, she gave me sage advice: “Just remember this is not about you. It’s much bigger than you, so get over it!”

And I did.

Donations immediately began pouring in—along with words of encouragement and stories of how cancer had affected many of my supporters. People blew me away with their generosity.  It seems everybody knew somebody who had been knocked down by this disease.

With each mile I logged and each dollar I collected, my heart slowly began to heal. No longer did I feel powerless against the disease I loathed so much. By raising funds to support researchers working hard to find a cure, I felt like I could finally face cancer and say, “GAME ON, SUCKER!”

That was fourteen years ago, and I have not looked back since.

Since then I’ve run eight marathons (NYC-three times, Paris, Rome, Portland, Santa Barbara-twice), two triathlons, and also participated in a 400-mile cycling event through the Colorado Rockies. With the help of many extraordinary supporters I’ve raised over $60,000 for cancer research.

Photo of Becky Green Aaronson at the finish of the 1998 NYC MarathonBecky Green Aaronson running the 1999 New York City Marathon

Running the Santa Barbara Marathon, fundraising for cancer researchBecky Green Aaronson after the 2002 Paris MarathonBecky Green Aaronson cycling during Ride the RockiesBecky Green Aaronson during the Carpinteria TriathlonBecky Green Aaronson at the finish of the Santa Barbara TriathlonPhoto of Becky Green Aaronson running the Portland MarathonBecky Green Aaronson running the Santa Barbara MarathonPhoto of Becky Green Aaronson running the 2003 Rome Marathon

And now Fred and I are getting ready for our next tryst . This time we’ll be participating in a 50-mile cycling event in Solvang, California on March 10th.

Why do I keep doing this? Unfortunately that careening truck keeps smashing into my heart.

My mom survived her initial bought with breast cancer, but later died of colon cancer. My Auntie Katie also died of cancer in 2010. Auntie Margie died of cancer in 2011 as well as Aunt Bertha. Cousins, uncles, friends, colleagues, neighbors–nobody is immune. Every day it’s somebody new. Steve Jobs, Baby Lexi (read my friend Jessica’s story here to learn more), my friend Molly, my other friend A, my friend, Angie’s dad. It goes on and on. But I refuse to give in to this beast, and I hope you will join Fred and me in trying to kick its ass.

If you’d like to know more about Fred’s Team or if you’d like to support my upcoming half-century cycling event, click on this link: Becky’s Ride for Fred’s Team

Love is what drives us as human beings. And love is what drives me to continue doing what I do.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Fred. Thanks for being my “other man” for some many years. Your passion and commitment still move me.

Fred's Team Lobo

Thursday’s Picture of the Week: Belief in Motion

Photo of horses running in a snowstorm

This Thursday’s Picture of the Week has little to do with exotic locations or unusual circumstances. Rather, it has everything to do with what it represents: belief.

Behind the Scenes: Aspen 1981—Snow is falling in fat, heavy flakes. Jeffrey knows it’s a perfect morning to create a photograph he’s been envisioning since he took a photo workshop from renowned photographer, Ernst Haas, several months earlier.

Haas is considered one of the most important figures in 20th century photography and is lauded as a leader in the art of color imagery.

Jeffrey has only owned a camera for a few years and is awash in enthusiasm for the art form, and the unlimited possibilities it offers.

Portrait of Ernst HaasThe workshop Haas leads at Anderson Ranch Arts Center focuses on motion, a technique he pioneered when he photographed bullfighting and the Indianapolis 500 in the 1950′s. Instead of shooting a fast shutter speed and freezing the subjects, as was typical of the time, he shot them with a slow shutter speed to capture the beauty of the motion.

• • •

Photo of race cars by Ernst HaasPhoto of bullfighting by Ernst Haas

“To express dynamic motion through a static moment became for me limited and unsatisfactory. The basic idea was to liberate myself from this old concept and arrive at an image in which the spectator could feel the beauty of a fourth dimension, which lies much more between moments than within a moment. In music one remembers never one tone, but a melody, a theme, a movement. In dance, never a moment, but again the beauty of a movement in time and space.”

–Ernst Haas

The approach Haas teaches at his workshop resonates with Jeffrey, and he knows he wants to capture the beauty and fluidity of horses running in the snow.

• • •

On the morning of the snowstorm, while most people are loading up their skis or hunkering down with a hot cup of coffee and a good book in front of the fireplace, Jeffrey puts on his heavy Sorrel boots, gets in his car and drives up Red Mountain.

After navigating the steep, windy road overlooking town, he parks his car next to a small meadow where horses are being boarded for the winter. The wind is blowing, flakes are sailing, and the horses begin running as soon as Jeffrey gets out of his car.

Jeffrey raises his camera and captures poetry in motion.

• • •

What happens next is where belief comes into play…

A few years later, Jeffrey is asked to be a part of a group exhibition at Unicorn Gallery, an Aspen gallery owned by entrepreneur Randy Woods. Jeffrey is humbled to be in the company of abstract painter, Richard Carter (former assistant to renowned artist Herbert Bayer of the Bauhaus School), and print maker, Tom Benton, creator of the famous Hunter Thompson campaign posters of the 70s.

Portrait of print maker Thomas BentonTom Benton Hunter Thompson PosterTom Benton Fat City PrintPortrait of artist, Dick CarterRichard Dick Carter Art

On the night of the opening, the gallery is abuzz with art enthusiasts, including internationally reputed photographer Ferenc (Franz) Berko.

Portrait of Franz BerkoBerko, a tall, slender, ascot-wearing European transplant, greets Jeffrey with a gentle smile and quiet hello.

Franz and his wife, Mirte, had come to Aspen in 1949 at the invitation of Walter Paepcke to photograph the Goethe Bicentennial. It was during the age of Aspen’s transformation from purely a silver mining town to a world-class ski resort and artist colony.

The Berkos were enamored with the mountains and town and ended up staying permanently. Below are a few images Franz shot over the years, when he not only turned his camera on the Goethe Bicentennial, but the Aspen Institute, the Aspen Music Festival and numerous other subjects.

Rubinstein in Aspen, Colorado by Franz BerkoPhoto of Albert Schweitzer in Aspen, Colorado by Ferenc BerkoPhoto of Bayer Wall in Aspen, Colorado by Ferenc BerkoPhoto of ski touring Pearl Pass in Aspen, Colorado by Franz BerkoPhoto of kids walking up stairs by Franz BerkoPhoto of Ballet by Franz Berko

©Berko Photos: Top (L) Arthur Rubinstein, (R) Albert Schweitzer, Middle (L) Work on the Herbert Bayer wall, (R) Ski touring up Pearl Pass. Bottom (L) Children, (R) Overview of ballerina

• • •

Later during the opening Berko approaches Jeffrey once again. This time he simply says, “I would like to buy a print of your horses running for my daughter.”

Jeffrey is stunned.

He smiles and stammers for a minute, then replies, “Franz, I would like to give you a print.”

Franz will have nothing to do with it.

“No, I insist I pay you for it. Your art is worth much more than you are asking. Please make me a print and bring it to Mirte’s toy store next week.”

“There’s only one thing,” he continues, “you must sign it.”

At that moment, Jeffrey knows for certain he is headed in the right direction following his passion for photography.

• • •

Franz and Jeffrey soon become dear friends, and Franz stays deeply interested in Jeffrey’s career, often giving him quiet advice throughout the years, until his death in 2000.

This photograph of the horses running will always remain a special image to Jeffrey because it represents so many things to him: his love of photography, his inner drive and enthusiasm when he was just beginning his career, and most of all, somebody’s belief in him and his ability to see.

“When you’re just starting out and one of the most respected photographers in the art world appreciates your work enough to buy a print, there’s no greater approval,” Jeffrey says.

• • •

Berko Studio on Aspen's Main Street In a “small world” twist, the Berko Gallery, which is run by Franz’s granddaughter, Mirte Mallory, is now housed in a charming purple Victorian on Aspen’s Main Street—a home that Jeffrey and I owned and lived in for many years in the mid-1990’s.Yep, see that brick walkway? Jeffrey and I laid it with our own hands. “Our” purple Victorian will always hold sweet memories for us, and now it’s even more special because it holds the photographs of somebody who not only made a powerful impact on Jeffrey’s career, but also his life.

Now it’s your turn. Who has been the “Franz” of your life? Who has believed in you and given you the confidence to reach your potential? I’d love to hear all about this wonderful person!

In the Name of Love: A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

I wasn’t born when Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech during that tumultuous summer of 1963 when a quarter million people marched on Washington, but King’s inspiring words have floated around in my head much of my adult life.

Photo of Martin Luther King Jr._______________

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

_______________

King’s ideas, and more so, his actions, have stood as a powerful reminder that even the most insurmountable challenges can be conquered when one person’s dreams are fueled by passion and commitment.

• • •

For the past several days I’ve spent numerous hours trying to write a meaningful tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., agonizing over each word, nuance, and angle. But nothing I created felt worthy of Dr. King and all the extraordinary things he did.

I wanted so badly to get this tribute right that I continually got it wrong. My words weren’t powerful enough nor my ideas brilliant enough, or my approach passionate enough to adequately honor somebody who changed so much for our country.

Photo of Martin Luther King Jr. in jailMy daughter, Olivia, watched as I sat at my computer, struggling with my thoughts. She watched as I listened to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on YouTube, feeling the emotion I was trying to put into words. She watched as I played U2’s music video, “Pride (In the Name of Love)”—one of my all-time favorite songs. Then she watched as I closed the lid on my laptop and gave up.

I tried to ignore the crummy feeling that immediately washed over me, but I couldn’t. I had let myself down (particularly since I was trying to honor somebody whose character was the epitome of strength, determination and persistence), and I had also set a horrible example for my daughter. Nothing about it felt okay.

What came next though changed everything.

Olivia came back into my office a few minutes later, put her arms around my neck, then said, “I think we should do something special.”

I was so deep in my self-flagellating thoughts that I merely placated her with, “Hmmmm,” not even thinking about what she was trying to say.

Olivia, who is nothing but persistent, tried once again to get my full attention and shake me out of my glum mood, repeating subtly, “I THINK WE SHOULD DO SOMETHING SPECIAL.”

Finally, I snapped backed in a semi-annoyed voice–not wanting to play the guessing game, “Do something special for what?”

“You know, Mom…uh…Martin Luther King.” (duh!).

That’s all she had to say to make everything right. I couldn’t put into words how important this man was to me, or to our nation, but my 8-year old instinctively knew, and wanted to honor him.

Photo of a candle flameAt dinner we symbolically lit candles and talked about Dr. King and all he did. We talked about the difficulties he faced and how he changed our nation by pursuing his dream of equality with passion and commitment.

Photo of Rosa parksThen Olivia said, “Tell me about Rosa Parks.” When my husband explained that she was arrested because she wouldn’t give up her seat for a white person and go to the back of the bus, Olivia said, “Are you kidding me? That makes no sense.”

The fact that she could not comprehend this way of thinking said everything.

It reminded me of when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. Olivia was just five years old, but Jeffrey and I kept her home from preschool that day so she could watch Obama’s historic inauguration with us on TV.

Photo Barack Obama inaugurationWhen Olivia saw tears trickling down my cheeks, she cocked her head and said, “Mommy, why are you crying? Aren’t you happy that Bawack Obama is pwesident?”

I had to explain to her that I couldn’t have been happier or more proud of our country. We were finally living up to our creed that all men are created equal.

Jeffrey simply said, “I want you to always remember this moment, Olivia.”

Just like the conversation that surrounded Obama’s inauguration, our entire dinner conversation last night focused on judging people by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin, just like Martin Luther King dreamed so many years ago.

Martin Luther King jr Day graphicThe topper to my whole “perfect moment” evening though, was when Olivia asked, “Why don’t people work on Martin Luther King Day?” When I told her that many people choose to honor him by doing community service or giving back, she immediately said, “I want to feed the homeless again. Pleeeeaase? Can we pleeeeeeease? I really want to do that.”

So there you go, Dr. King, we will be honoring you once again by giving back to our community, and continuing to celebrate your dream–a dream that becomes more and more powerful with each new generation, simply because equality for all is a given in the eyes of young people who have not yet learned to be ignorant.

Photo of Martin Luther King Jr.

And I Think To Myself….

__________

Indeed, what a wonderful world. Louis Armstrong, with his caramelized soulful voice, and his priceless smile, reminds us of this simple notion like nobody else.

I should probably put a warning label on this post because “Satchmo-type optimism” tends to overtake me every January. I’m not exactly sure why, but it’s most likely because not only do I get to cartwheel with you into a fresh new calendar year, but I also get to put another candle on top my birthday cake (hopefully a decadent chocolate espresso mousse cake).

Yep, it’s my birthday week, and as you might have guessed, I’m a sucker for birthdays. After all, the alternative…well.…

I can think of no better way to celebrate than to dance in a rain of music.

Why music?

Because music makes me happy. Simple as that.

_____

It also makes me feel young, raucous and alive. No matter how many candles adorn my cake, the minute I blast The Beatles, U2 or Bruce Springsteen I’m twenty years old again (click on the links and hit the video play buttons if you’d like to feel that way too)!

Music moves me like no other artform.

It inspires, motivates me, and often leaves me in awe. It also makes me feel like I can be a better person. It reminds me that anything is possible, especially if I ignore all limitations I might place on myself.

If Aretha Franklin, who is anything but an opera singer, can bring me to tears with her jaw-dropping version of Nessun Dorma, then anything is possible.

_____

If Mick Jagger can still prance around the stage and rip it up with the boys when he’s now a senior citizen, why should anything stop the rest of us? It may not be pretty, but it’s still damn fun, and after all, isn’t that what life is all about?

Music is about setting ourselves free—it’s our anthem to create and to Imagine, just like John Lennon espoused so many years ago. And it’s often our call to action–to free ourselves from what we cannot tolerate–from war and racism to hatred, poverty and inequality.

Music is about possibility. It is about celebrating who we are, and where we’ve been. It’s storytelling in its most magnificent form, without restraint. Bob Dylan, whose lyrics defined a generation, is arguably one of the best storytellers of all time.

_____

Music also creates a time capsule of our lives, instantly taking us back to a time and place, or capturing a moment in which we are living right now.

I can recall every chapter of my life with music, and I bet you can too.

As a child, our house was filled with music–everything from Mom’s John Denver and Tom Jones to Dad’s George Benson and Herbie Hancock to my brother’s Beatles, Aerosmith, Led Zeplin, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Credence Clearwater Revival. And let’s not forget my tween years which reverberated with Peter Frampton, Steve Miller, Fleetwood Mac, Boston, the Beach Boys and god forbid, Shaun Cassidy.

Every wonderful and awkward moment got stuffed into that musical time capsule of mine.

High school was about Michael Jackson, AC/DC, the Go-Go’s and a plethora of 80’s crap created during the MTV revolution. And college? Any time I hear The Stones, U2, Talking Heads, Violent Femmes or Bob Marley, I’m immediately transported back to my dorm, remembering all the fun had with friends on more than one raucous occasion.

Just about every memorable moment of my life has been accompanied by music–from the first dance at our wedding to our dive into parenthood to road trips, concerts (of course), holidays, graduations, family memorials and numerous athletic adventures. It takes little more than a guitar riff or drum beat to bring it all right back.

But this is what I love most about music: music brings us together like nothing else. Because it crosses all boundaries, it doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, young, old, gay, straight, black, white or purple. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or where you’re going, music is about being in the present and sharing in a moment.

As I sign off from this post, I can think of nothing more this birthday girl would like to do than to thank all the talented musicians of the world for giving me (and all of you) one of the greatest gifts of all.

And also share one more for the road…Take it away, Sir Paul and friends

_____

_____

PS: Thanks for indulging me. I’ll be back talking about photography in my next post. In the meantime, I’d love to know how music has impacted your life. What does your personal music time capsule sound like? Is it filled with Motown? Gospel? Opera? Beethoven? Or good old rock-n-roll?

A Deliciously Selfish Goal for the New Year

Happy New Year GraphicI love the start of a new year.

It screams possibilities. It oozes with adventure. It sizzles with freshness as we renew priorities and set a course for the year.

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I am one to make goals. What’s the difference? Most likely just semantics. But to me goals feel weightier and more lasting than resolutions.

Goals allow me to focus on what’s important in my life. Without them I tend to wander through days and even weeks without paying much attention to what I’m doing.

Perhaps because I lost my dad at an early age, I learned quickly that life is short. With that niggling notion always kicking around in my mind, often pushing my motivation buttons, I have a hard time forgiving myself if I bump along in a stupor.

This year’s goals keep me focused on giving back, trying new things, and completing projects–all the while maintaining balance between family, fitness and fun. I won’t bore you with the details of how I plan to reach these goals, or even what they mean, but I will share with you one of my all-time favorite New Year’s goals.

It’s one I accomplished two or three years ago, and one that might surprise you in its simplicity. It involved little more than time and thought.

Star GraphicI created a list of the most important people in my life, then I sat down and wrote a letter to each person, telling him or her why he or she meant so much to me.

My brothers were at the top of my list, as were several dear friends and other family members, including my husband and daughter.

With a family that’s often in perpetual motion, the hardest part was carving out quiet time to think. Once I did though, I picked out pretty stationery, settled down with a colossal cup of coffee, and spilled my heart onto the pages.

Each letter took several hours as I thought about how the recipient had impacted my life. My heart sang as I wrote my words, recalling each person’s unique characteristics and how he or she made me feel. I often laughed out loud or welled up with tears remembering funny or warm memories and all the sweetness that person had added to my life.

While my goal was intended to be “other focused,” it ended up being one of the most deliciously selfish goals I ever made because it gratified me in ways I never imagined.

The mere act of consciously focusing on each person made me appreciate how obscenely lucky I was to have that individual in my life; and it allowed me to gush and celebrate what is beautiful and unique about each one—something I’ve never been good at doing in person.

It took me an entire year to write letters to each of the 15 people on my list, but it made me happy in the extreme.

To this day it still makes me smile, especially when I imagine each person going to the mailbox, opening the letter, then instantly being wrapped in a warm, deserving blanket of appreciation. And thinking back to the teary return phone calls and heartfelt emails, telling me how much my letter meant to them, is like an exquisite gift that sits on a permanent shelf in my memory.

Here’s the kicker. I’m glad I didn’t wait.

Two of the special people I wrote letters to have since passed away. While I miss them both, it eases the pain of their loss knowing that no words were left unsaid; they knew without a doubt when they left this world, they had made a difference in somebody’s life.

After all, what better goal is there in life than that?

Star Graphic

$30 Amazon Gift Card Holiday Giveaway

Just in time for the holidays, I am giving away a $30 Amazon gift card to one of my lucky followers. It’s my way of saying, “Thank you for all your support this year.”

Amazon Gift Card GraphicIt’s simple. Just answer this question:

Which famous movie actor is featured on a billboard Jeffrey photographed in Thailand?

For those who missed that post, the answer is easily found on this blog. Just go back through previous posts until you find it. Hint: Thursday’s Picture of the Week might be a good place to start.

Each person who correctly leaves his or her answer in the comment box will be entered into the random drawing.

Here’s the interesting part: if you want to increase your chances of winning, you can also do a few simple things listed below!

Photo of a horse sleigh in winter

LIKE ME on FACEBOOK and your name will be entered another time.

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER  @wordmuse and TWEET the message below and your name will be entered yet another time.

Tweet this message:

The Art of an Improbable Life is giving away a free $30 Amazon Gift Card: http://wp.me/p1I3pI-US

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE TO MY BLOG and your name will be entered another time. All you have to do is type in your email address underneath the calendar on the right side of my blog. Once you receive an email from “The Art of an Improbable Life,” just hit the “confirm subscription” button and you’re done. If you’ve already signed up for my blog you will automatically entered again.

The winner’s name will be announced on Tuesday, December 20th–just in time to do some last-minute shopping.

Remember, the more you do, the more chances you have of winning. Good luck! I can’t wait to spread my holiday cheer!

A Bazillion Things That Make Me Happy and Grateful

This post started out simply enough; in the spirit of Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday), I thought I’d share the top ten things that make me happy and grateful. Within a matter of minutes though, my list became enormous, quickly growing from 10 to 110, then, well…you can see what happened.

My peeps, of course, are what pack my heart most with gratitude…as do my dear friends and the fact that I’m healthy and still relatively fit. Most of all though, I’m grateful that I’m still grateful; that life still feels like an outrageous gift that is meant to be celebrated each day. That the magic has yet to fade. Here are a few more things that make me happy and grateful:

Teachers
Art
Hand-written letters
My husband’s cooking
Dining al fresco
Laughing until I cry
The view out my window
The way I feel after a long run
The smell of freshly ground coffee
Chocolate
Quiet moments
The feel and smell of a new book
Sand between my toes and hours at the beach
Learning to say, “What the hell, you only live once!” at a very early age
Random acts of kindness
Being surrounded by talented people
Books, books, and more books
Photography
Small world moments
Red licorice
Red wine
Paper stores
People who work hard at making a difference
The smell of eucalyptus trees
My daughter’s hugs
Knowing I can always stand on my own two feet
Levis
Butterfly kisses
Early mornings
Warm weather
Happy endings
Ideas
My three brothers
The Beatles
The blogging community
Writers whose words swirl into magic
Finding something I’m passionate about and diving in head first
Reading in bed on a Sunday morning
When the right words come to mind at the right time
Creativity
History
Old movies
Flip-flops
Globes
Long showers
The sound of rain
Sun streaming through my window when I write
Finding a perfect moment in each day
Quotes that inspire me
Lists
Cupcakes
A fire in the fireplace
Convertibles
Surprise parties
Airplanes that take me on new adventures
Discovering–new places, ideas, cultures, books, music
Neighbors
My daughter’s art
Roasting marshmallows
People with nice manners
When my husband brings me coffee in bed
Long meandering conversations with my BFF
Wrap around porches
Boogie boarding
Learning something new
Aspen
Typography
Real deal lemonade
Eye-crinkling smiles
The smell of Coppertone
Freshly baked bread
Helping somebody
The power of our imaginations
Getting smarter as I get older
Bubble baths
Margaritas
Grandparents
Old houses
Old friends
Popcorn
A bouquet of flowers-especially tulips
People who are working hard to find a cure for cancer
“A food”–almonds, artichokes asparagus and avocados
Watching my husband when he’s in his creative element
Book stores
Fall colors
Stuffing
HGTV
Designing cards
The internet, and what it offers
Friends who “get me” without any explanation
Birthdays and my favorite holidays: Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving
When people do the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do
A good night’s sleep
Marathons
Picnics
Invitations
Journals
Time to myself
Time with my family
Iced lattes
Thesauruses
Chaise lounges
Matinees
True love
My laptop
Long summer nights
Backyard parties
Concerts
Belting out favorite old songs
Dancing in the kitchen with my husband
Hearing my daughter laugh from the belly
Having a fairly big extended family
The number 7
My inner drive
Fresh crisp sheets
A really great work-out
Vanilla milkshakes
Colors-anything but beige
Traveling
Slippers
Being outside
Charming accents
Magazines
Fitness
Sushi
CBS Sunday Morning
People who don’t know they’re funny
The way chocolate martinis and jazz go together
Seeing the lightbulb go off in my daughter’s head
Homemade chicken soup
The New York Times
Libraries
My Ipod shuffle
The bubbles in bubbly
Candlelight
Watching my daughter sleep
People who take a chance on you when it goes against reason
My gut instinct, which has steered me right most of the time
Watching an exquisite ballet performance
People with infectious enthusiasm
Cute old couples
Rose gardens
Photo albums
Dogs that look like mops
Finding something you thought was lost long ago
Living with no regrets
Reunions
Hummingbirds
Baby fat
Loyalty
Thursdays
Cookie dough
Cool postage stamps
Memories of my grandparents’ houses
The way my husband’s hand automatically goes up to his heart when he throws his head back in laughter
The cool breeze you feel when you sit next to a rushing river
Figuring something out all on my own
The passion of Pavarotti
The perfect writing pen
The improbable
Amazing Grace

What three things are you most grateful for (besides your wonderful friends, family and health)?

7×7 Award

A few days ago blogger, Julie Farrar, nominated me for the 7×7 Link Award. I must admit, I was tickled pink, especially coming from Julie, whose down-to-earth and often-humorous blog, Traveling Through, is always a joy to read. Thank you, Julie!

7x7 Blog award graphicThe way it works is that you review all the posts you’ve written and then list your top posts under seven different categories.

The other part of the award is that you pass it on to seven other bloggers.

Simple enough. Here goes…


Most Beautiful: Mom.
A tribute to my beautiful mom on what would have been her 77th birthday.

Photo of my mom when she was at the beach

My second choice is The Geography of Bliss, which reviews Eric Weiner’s beautiful book and celebrates the happiest places on earth in words and pictures.

Geography of Bliss book cover photograph

Most Helpful: 10 Things You Learn When the Love of Your Life is a Photojournalist. I’m not exactly sure how helpful this post is, but it gives a glimpse into the unpredictable lifestyle of a photojournalist, and the impact it has on a relationship.

Most Popular: Jeffrey Aaronson’s Improbable Journey with Steve Jobs, the Guy Who Changed His World (and Ours)–Part One and Part Two. This two-part post is by far my most popular. It has been read and mentioned everywhere from India, Italy and Thailand to Denmark, Canada, Romania and Japan.The posts pay tribute to Steve Jobs and the friendship my husband shared with him when they were both 29-years old. It also shares personal anecdotes and rarely-seen photos from the weeks leading up to the launch of the first Mac 128K computer.

Photo of Steve Jobs at Apple Headquarters in Cupertino, CA, 1984

Steve Jobs leading his team in a meeting at Apple Headquarters in Cupertino, CA, 1984. ©Jeffrey Aaronson.

Most Controversial: My Crash Course in Living Through the Lens. While I don’t think this is controversial, the folks that run the show in the country where information is often censored might have a different opinion about what happened during the Democracy Movement in Tiananmen Square.

Photo of the Democracy Movement in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, ChinaPhoto of soldiers in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China 1989, Democracy Movement

Most Surprisingly Successful: Improbable. This is my inaugural post announcing the launch of my blog. I was astounded by the reaction.

Most Underrated: How Jeffrey Created His Most Published China Photo THEN…My Michelle Obama Moment NOW. I’m not sure I’d call it underrated, but this one received a few less views than others. I included a video in this post.

Most Prideworthy: Beyond Rangoon THEN…A Feather in Her Cap NOW. This post shares how Jeffrey photographed Burma’s democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, when she was first placed under house arrest in 1989, and also celebrates a memorable moment in our lives now.

And now for the other part of this award, I’d like to nominate the following fantastic bloggers for the 7X7 Award. Click on their blogs below to check out what they have to say. You won’t be disappointed.

All Write

Allegro non tanto

Being Arindam

Crazy Lady with a Pen

Nubian

Play 101

Suess’s Pieces

The Blog of a Vet’s Wife

Have fun with the 7×7 Award, fellow bloggers! And thanks again, Julie, for the award!