Mr. J

My connections nourish me. Last night I had dinner with my high school English teacher, Mr. J. (Though I call him by his first name now, which is so weird). He was the one who really inspired me to be an English literature major in college. A fantastic teacher who was at my high school for 40 years (he just finally retired a few years ago), he taught Shakespeare, AP English, and art history. An avid lover of music, literature, and art, when he retired and decided to spend at least half of the year at his apartment in Arezzo Italy, he gave about 2,000 books away, and thousands of CD’s away to my high school as well. (He still has bookshelves upon bookshelves of books and music alive and well in both of his apartments. In fact, he told me last night that he has so many CD’s that he literally listens to a new one each night!). He loves martinis and ethnic food and he travels throughout the Italian islands and here in the States to go to museums and concerts. He was tough in high school– incredibly supportive, but tough. You wouldn’t get an A in his class unless you really deserved it, which just made it all the more sweet when you did get one! And he always showed up for all of my stage productions, whether it was Godspell or a student-directed play. He’s said to me throughout the years, “You were one of three at the time who could truly become another person.” Nine years ago, the summer after I was diagnosed with cancer, I decided that I needed a change of scenery and hopped a plane to Italy by myself. Mr. J invited me to stay with him in Arezzo and gave me (of course) just a superb tour of the city in Tuscany. We went to churches and museums and ate bruschetta (pronounced “Broo-sketta” I learned) and drank coffee in the little cafe’s. At night after dinner we would take long walks where Italians would line the streets chatting with their neighbors, friends and family after their nightly meal. After a few days he put me on a train and on to Cortona and Florence by myself I went.

I love keeping in touch with people who have been a gift in my life. Whether it’s Mr. J or Dr. N (my eye doctor who diagnosed me with ocular melanoma and was then at my wedding), I believe that just because somebody isn’t my age, doesn’t mean that they don’t have wonderful things to offer me (and hopefully vice versa). Some people say that they just have “too many friends,” and although I know that I have oodles of friends and love in my life, my heart is always open to more.

Jack and Sam

Speaking of heart, I have started reading Gabrielle Bernstein’s book “May Cause Miracles” this week, and it has begun to open my eyes up to the role that love, forgiveness, and gratitude can truly play in our lives. I’ve been enjoying beginning my days with her affirmations and meditations, and then ending the day journaling.

In a couple of weeks I am going to hear Gabby and… Wait for it… Kris Carr (!!!!) speak. “Crazy Sexy Miracles” here I come! I can’t wait to report back to you all about what it’s like to be in the same room with them (at the same time!). xoxo.


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