Too Cool for School

Asked by her work to mentor tech-aspired, disadvantaged high school students, LCP signed up.  She has two high school junior girls who she is guiding through the college application process.

Today, Saturday,  LCP took the girls on a tour of Stanford University. I don’t know if LCP mentioned to the girls she has a dream of earning her Masters there, but I do know she wanted to share her love of the campus with the girls, hoping to heighten their academic aspirations. LCP has become particularly close to one of the girls.

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After the campus tour, LCP texted me:

She is just so precious, so driven and works her butt off –

She helps her parents clean midnight – 5 AM and then goes in early for help in school.

Her dream is Stanford.

It’s my mission now to get her in there hahaha

she’s like I don’t party, I don’t go drinking because nothing good will come of it

and I’m like

the longer you stay uncool, the cooler you will be later.

Mentorship –

When we invest in others, we invest in ourselves –

And that’s

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“Too Cool for School!”

Wake up, finish well, and help someone along the way.

 

 

Heaven on a Stick

Don’t blame the fence, blame the gardener.

White picket fences don’t just happen.

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“That’s heaven on a stick!”

– Mrs. Jane Young, my first boss.

Mrs. Young liked perfection.

One Saturday in 1985, I arrived to work at 8 AM, and Mrs. Young gave me the day’s instructions.

“I’d like you to organize and display all the sterling silver and crystal in the display cases.”

She pointed to the hand-carved, mahogany, floor-to-ceiling shelving behind the waist-high, enclosed glass jewelry sales cabinets.  I knew from a prior conversation that Mrs. Young adored the cabinetry since it was a family heirloom and it was the primary design fixture of her family-owned jewelry store.

With no further instructions, she left for the day.

To say I was intimidated, at age 16, handling the fine silver and crystal and placing the valuables in the gargantuan, cherished cabinetry, is an understatement.

I worked a straight 8 hours, right through my lunch hour. I remember being a nervous wreck the entire day –

Am I leaving fingerprints?

Is that too high?

Does that look good next to this or does this look good next to that?  

Is this lighting going to help this sell? 

Fifteen minutes before the 5 PM close, Mrs. Young entered the store.

Arriving in her blue, crisply-ironed pantsuit with a silk, floral scarf tied at her neckline, she, an ex-NYC runway model, was exquisite looking, and she, herself, downright intimidating.

She gazed at the shelves, inspecting the design, and as I recall, after only 2 minutes or so, she looked me in the eye and gave her appraisal,

“This looks like crap. Now let me show you how it should be done.”

We worked overtime, transforming what I had made look like crap into what Mrs. Young expected and envisioned.

And on that day, I learned a valuable life lesson.

We may think we know what perfection looks like, but it takes more than hard work.

It’s takes listening, learning, accepting criticism, and paying attention to detail, plus a whole lot of practice.

It also takes heart, respect,

and a whole lot of desire,

and if it has true value and worth

we may have to focus for an entire day – maybe even weeks, months and years –

if it’s going to be deemed

“heaven on a stick!”

“That’s heaven on a stick!” (not “that looks like crap,”) has stuck with me since my inaugural design day in Mrs. Young’s jewelry store.

Mrs. Young left her perfect mark on me, and I credit Mrs. Young for teaching me a secret of sales –

how do you make others want what you have?

Invest in good gardeners.

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Looks Can Be Deceiving

Would you believe me if I told you while taking these photos, the conditions were almost unbearable?

The cold and blustery winds forced all the golfers off the course and into the clubhouse for an early happy hour.  While the Spanish Bay lit up with patrons on the inside, only a few of us ventured outside. Following the deceptive, bright sun,  I, the only one not in a parka, crouched down on the fairway path, allowing the sculpted golf fairway landscape to break the wind. In a sumo squat, I shot the last moment of Mother’s Day eve as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, and as I walked away, a mother myself, I thought, nothing is exactly how it seems unless we’ve lived it, is it?

I believe

Looks can be deceiving.

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Proud as a Peacock

The tour bells rang at Filio, indicating the gardens were closed.  Being a photographer, always in search of the perfect golden-hour light, I was a straggler.  The sun was still too high in the northern California sky for my liking. I left, disappointed I hadn’t been able to capture the garden’s beauty in complimentary light, but accepting, to exhaust, that I’m a rule follower.

The sign on the closed exit gate read, USE SIDE DOOR WHEN LEAVING AFTER HOURS.  I exited through the archway of the door with my head down, disgruntled, and stuffing my camera equipment into my backpack.

However, as I learn time and again, we don’t decide when we’re finished. It’s the crazy, little surprises in life that break all the rules and tell us to carry on –

Entering into the side door, used for exiting, the Fioli resident peacock, strode up like a VIP on a red carpet, looked at me, stopped, opened its canopy of fabulous feathers, turned around and showed me its booty and then sauntered right past me and into the closed gardens. The peacock looked back at me, summoning me to join it on the other side, and I followed.

And there we were, back on the inside, after closing hours, with me, fiddling to get all my equipment back out of its storage and shooting this scene of a bird who’d broken all the rules –

Something someone would do who’s

AS PROUD AS A PEACOCK

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(Em)Powerlifting

 

“You’re back, girl!”

– Justin, Soul Cycle, Palo Alto

He didn’t know he was speaking directly to me, as the beat dropped in the roomful of riders, but in my mind, his encouraging welcome back was like a welcome home, speaking directly to my 50-year-old legs I’d seemingly retired from cycling.

Justin’s words lifted my spirit and my rusty legs, carrying me to a place where I felt I could fly –

There’s no better exercise than lifting others up.

IMG_4863“Powerlifting”