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The Admiration Project ~ 2015 Issue #3

Image from hellogiggles.com

Image from hellogiggles.com

So I had this list… a list I started compiling in December of 2013 of my “admiration project” nominees… in the beginning I had grand aspirations of being able to do one a week, well since I am tying the posts to a donation (and I still have my day job) – I cut the goal to once a month.  It was a good excuse for me to be able to “lower the bar” and actually set a goal I could achieve… so it’s once  a month, and here is the March installment (albeit 1 day late).

Back to the “list,” well it’s a good thing it was in pencil.  For those of you that know me, and more importantly know my husband and/or my parents, you have to know they are at The Top of any admiration list I could ever compile.  Spoiler alert:  Parents coming in October for their anniversary (and my birthday) – Husband coming in June or July (our anniversary or his birthday, respectively).  In my book blog, anyone who has lost, or loses a child or parent, automatically goes to the top of the list.  Thus the March post…

I’d like to say “my best friend,” but I think we all have “best friends” at different times in our lives, so to label a person as “the ONE best friend” is difficult.  The handful of people I have called “my best friend” at different times in my life were important for a reason at that time.  Less than a handful have remained what I’d still call “best friend” at this point in my life, but they were ALL important.  I am glad to say that this is one of the people who taught me what it means to be a best friend, AND, she is one of a handful of ladies I still call “my best friend.”

“My best friend” lost her dad last month.  Surviving that, which most children will have to do, is a feat I admire.  It is also a life-changing event I cannot fathom.  My dad “hung the moon,” as did hers, I am sure.  I knew him, and I’m quite positive he hung a moon over her bed every night while she was a child and looked at the moon and wished her well every night once she was an adult and gone from his home.  We live states apart now and I hope she is able to feel the warmth of my admiration, love and support through this post.

It was not likely that a friendship would have organically developed between us two.  After all she went to the RIVAL high school and could/should have been considered an enemy from the start, but somehow, through divine intervention we were assigned to the same floor in the same dorm just an elevator apart as freshman at UT Knoxville.  Somehow, we overcame the rivalry of “high school” and became friends, allies, sounding boards, strong shoulders, silly sisters, and confidants.

I have many memories I cannot share here for the safe keeping of many embarrassing “best friend secrets” that come from young, extremely naive, girls being away from home for the first time.  (There’s probably a reason our dad’s let us live in the dorm… after all, it was a 30 minute drive, at best, from home.)  But…

  • Remember when we were sitting on your bed in the dorm and President Reagan was shot?
  • Remember the “Tang” under the door?
  • Remember the mattress in the elevator?
  • Remember Spring Break in FL after I had moved to Nashville?

To this day, over 30 years later, we are still in touch.  Do we call regularly?  Shamefully no.  Do we see other at least every 3 years?  Shamefully, no.  Do we exchange Christmas, birthday, and holiday cards?  Not regularly.  Do we call or text once a month?  No.

Do we call or email when there is a crisis?  YES!  Are we looking at that same moon and sending good thoughts both ways every full moon?  YES!  Do we send an unexpected gift that means much more than a regular/obligatory token?  YES!  Are we VFL?  YES!  Are we BFF’s?  YES! YES!

My dear friend, I admire you.  You were so much more mature than me, “back in the day,” (I sure hope I’m mature by now.)  I admired you back then… I mean you had the coolest car… you taught me to clog… shoot, you even had a declared major your freshman year!!!  I admire you now.

I would like to challenge anyone who is reading this to reach out to someone you admire.  Send them a note, make a phone call, let them know they are or were an important part of your life.  Then, if you are able, please make a donation in their name to something important to them.  Share this blog with others so that the word will spread and admiration can spread far, far beyond my small universe.  Life needs to be full of more positive, loving, giving messages.

My friend, In honor of you and your father I am making a donation to:

The Dream Connection, Inc., P.O. Box 10924 Knoxville, Tennessee 37939

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The Admiration Project

This entry is just over a year in the making.  In November 2013 a friend of mine from high school lost her daughter suddenly and unexpectedly.  I had a daughter the exact same age and could not begin to imagine that kind of loss.  I drove the three hours to be there for my friend, give her a hug and try to say something comforting.  However, it was her who was there for all of those in attendance; it was my friend who comforted those who came to be with her; it was a strong and admirable woman standing before us, honoring her daughter.

In what I should no longer continue to see as odd or ironic, I saw in that service something I never expected, a reference from a recent dream that became what was the spark to this year long project I have committed to begin, and more importantly, finish… The Admiration Project.

A few days before that dream, I was having a conversation with a co-worker who said that she “admired” me.  That word stayed with me for several days because in my mind, “admiring” someone is not something I have ever done frivolously.  An admiration of someone came from a place of deep respect.  That compliment given to me days earlier, while sincere, I processed as undeserved.  Or maybe I was uncomfortable with it simply because I felt it was an honor I had not yet earned with this person.  Anyway, back to the spark…  Just days before I made the drive to the celebration of life for my friend’s daughter, I had a dream.  In this dream I was going to South Africa on a trip and this person in my dream was “admiring” my adventurous opportunity.  (Noteworthy here is that I have never thought / wished / mentioned traveling to South Africa.)  As I often have very vivid dreams, I try to put the pieces together and figure out how they apply to something going on in my waking hours, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Then on November 18, 2013, as I sat in the church watching a slideshow of the exciting life this young girl had lived, a photo came up of her sky diving in South Africa!  My mouth dropped open for an uncontrolled instant, then I leaned over to my mom and said, “I just had a dream about being in South Africa!”

The service began and I listened to this young lady’s parents and others give an account of her life, her accomplishments, and her dreams for the future.  My admiration grew that evening.  It grew for my friend and former classmate, a person I had only seen a handful of times since we graduated 30+ years ago, as she stood before us so strong in her grief… to extend to the daughter she raised, a person I will never know.

And so the “admiration” compliment I had received a few days earlier along with the random reference in a dream to a place I had never been before became connected, just as suddenly and unexpectedly as the death of this young woman.

As I drove home that next morning with only my thoughts to keep me company, The Admiration Project was born.  This project is a challenge to myself to take time and write a letter, (handwritten) to the twelve people I admire most.  Along with that letter I will give a donation to a charity or project in their name that is inspired by the way they have had an impact on my life.  That letter will also challenge them to send just one similar letter to a person they admire within the next year.

If you are reading this, I challenge you to do the same, send just ONE letter of admiration to a deserving recipient who may or may not know the impact they have had on you.

Part of my waiting a year to start was I wanted a way to track how far this spreads – I wanted to know where these “admirable” people live and what organizations or projects they inspired people to contribute to.  Reality is, I’m not going to be able to program an interactive map on a blog – and it’s just an excuse to not take a risk and follow through, so instead, I’ll just ask that you leave a comment and tell me where you are, where the other person is and any organization you may be contributing to as a part of your admiration for that person.

“I am in Nashville, TN; my admirable person is in Maryville, TN and I have contributed to the Abbie Jane Harper Memorial Scholarship Fund.”

P.S.  If you are reading this and recognize yourself, your letter is in the mail.

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