Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Famous Florida Friends

Saturday. NAEYC. Whew the big home-stretch. These pictures are of my brilliant 'new' Florida friends. Where do I begin to tell you about their acts of kindness?? First of all let me start with the first picture. That's me with Lois Wachtel of Creative Beginning Steps: the mastermind...... the marvel. I went running through the exhibit hall in order to get this picture accomplished. (How serendipitous that we were captured under the Redleaf banner?) Last year at NAEYC DC I met Lois in the midst of the crowded exhibit hall and we instantly 'bonded.' In the year since our spontaneous initial hug-fest, we have come to know each other -- thru thick & thin. She has gradually been getting introduced to my work & I to hers.

This year, we planned ahead and sculpted our crazy calendars to have some quality time together. Here's the amazing part of the story. Lois invited me up on 'her' stage on Saturday morning to share my song/book "You're Wonderful" with her packed house audience. How incredible. She was speaking to the subject of squishable, open-ended art. (Just one of her gazillion favorite topics.) She used the text of my song to address the doubts that every child/artist encounters in the course of their creativity. (How insightful was that concept? Wow, Lois!) It is a unique person who is willing to share their spotlight. Lois is a rarity.

Then in the second picture you must fast-forward to the end of the day. That's the two of us joined by the ever talented Mar Harmen of "Music by Mar" fame, also of Florida and long time Lois fan. We were gathered together for an entertaining meal, but absolutely sublime conversation. Mar was thoughtful enough to invite me to the FL AEYC round-table (the night before) and introduce me to the movers & shakers from the sunshine state. Another genuinely kind act, insightful & strategic all wrapped into one.

Just imagine the conversation -- the three of us talking non-stop, hugging intermittently, laughing continuously..... causing just a bit of an uproar in front of Bubba-Gumps, when we encountered Lois' fanclub from Canada that had been given a glimmer of insight into me. There's nothing quite like walking down Anaheim row and being flocked by enthusiastic, international early childhood educators at the end of a l-e-n-g-t-h-y conference. Recharges the battery, on the spot giving enough juice for me & Mar to begin a marathon conversation over fondue, comparing notes on our first lives: sigh...

Next year is Orlando. Can you imagine? Florida with these powerhouses? Oh, that I might ride on their coat tails just a little further. Better than a magic carpet ride. Mark your calendars now.

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