Kids Today

Life Isn't Pretty Quote

Before this past weekend, I’ve never been to a Mormon service (I think they’re called meetings). It’s not that I don’t have Mormon friends, rather I never really had a reason to go. That was until now. My husband’s best friend from childhood was sending his youngest son off on his mission. Their family invited my family to join in the celebration. And when you send your child off for 2 years knowing you’ll have little communication with him, it’s a reason to celebrate on many levels.

The service was lovely. Very different than what I’m used to. But in some ways it was similar. The sanctuary looked different, but the love and spirituality was both seen and felt. There were little kids who were in awe of the older kids. The older kids who looked up to the young men and women who were moving on to that next level. And the adults who looked on with such pride that with their eyes filled with tears there was no question they were tears of joy.

The kids, though. The kids. I tried not to be that creepy woman staring. No matter how young I feel, I’m still that 40-something woman. And when you watch teens intently, it can border on creepy. Especially when you don’t know these kids.

But I watch them. And they gave me hope. Not hope in a religious sense. But real hope.

See, these were good kids. Despite their crazy personalities that show up on social media, they’re good kids. They Instagram and text and kik and snapchat. But they’re good kids. These aren’t the kids who are using these social platforms to bully or spread hate. They’re using it to stay connected. To lean on one another. To call out their friends privately and tell them to chill out or stop being a jerk.

I’m not saying these social platforms are cleansed of their evil. What I’m saying is that I saw hope in a future that’s often flashed before us in the news in horrible stories of violence, disregard, anger, and hate. I saw joy among friends who were so deeply connected that they cried and hugged as they said goodbye to their friend, knowing that while he’s on his mission that there’s no quick and easy way to stay connected.

And while I sat there listening, watching, taking it all in I realized that “kids today” doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Kids today are kind. Kids today are compassionate. They’re giving, loving, and dedicated. Kids today are just like we were those many years ago. Only, they live in a very connected world that has changed their concept of time. For them there isn’t such a thing as absence. With a smartphone you’re never apart.

So realizing, for the first time, that their friends wouldn’t be on the other end of a keyboard was quite a realization. A realization that all those times their parents said that “if they’re real friends they’ll be there” means more than just a reply text, Skype chat, Instagram photo, or video. These kids introduced themselves and were wowed that people who had been friends for 40 years would be there.

Because friendship is more than a like, a plus, a retweet, a text, or a silly video. Friendship is a connection in the heart and soul that says “I’ll be there.”

Life isn’t always pretty, but sometimes it’s extraordinarily beautiful!


Is it Trash or Treasure? My Trip To Antiques Roadshow

Antiques Roadshow

Have you ever watched Antiques Roadshow on PBS? Given all the new shows on TV about trash to treasure, I’m sure you have. At least once. It’s the grand-daddy of reality TV. And truly full of many characters.

A few years ago I got tickets to go to the Antiques Roadshow bonanza in Los Angeles. Given that every person who enters MUST have, yes, MUST in all caps, something, I had to convince my friend to scour her apartment for hidden treasures. She’s not a pirate, but she obliged. See, the rule is no something antique-y, no entry! And they have people checking your loot or giving you the boot.

I knew exactly what I wanted to take. Years prior I obtained a picture book of photos, The Face of Arizona, by Senator Barry Goldwater. He was an avid photographer, focusing mainly on Native Americans. The book I have is oversized, with a linen cover. There is an inscription in it and it is signed by Senator Goldwater.

Having met Senator Goldwater when I was in undergrad, and knowing his love of the Native American people, I was overjoyed to see his photography up close. But I didn’t know much about the book, nor the person to whom it was inscribed. I took it to the Arizona archives and the autograph was confirmed as authentic. The inscription, the archivist had no clue. He suggested it was probably someone who had been a significant contributor to Senator Goldwater’s campaign.

So when I had a chance to go to Antiques Roadshow I knew I would take my Goldwater book. I convinced my friend to fly to Los Angeles with me and go to the show. We get to the airport for our day trip and I’m schlepping this GIANT book. Seriously, the book is like 18-inches by 24-inches. It’s a gorgeous book but not your average airplane reading. My friend, on the other hand, had this tiny bag in her purse. She brought two hummel figurines.

Two Hummels! And I have this ginormous book! At least everything is manageable because we’re pretty sure this will be a long day. We get to the LA Convention Center and there are a bazillion people there with all kinds of hootenanny. Giant furniture, awkward swords, quilts, dolls, freaky things galore!

We finally get up to the front – it only took two or so hours. Before smartphones and iPods and iPads, how did we survive? We’re told we need to go to two different areas because our items are different. So first to the book people.

One look at my huge book and the appraiser has a blank stare on his face. I knew immediately, my brush with the Keno brothers wasn’t going to happen. This appraiser guy had no clue. My first tip-off was when he wasn’t sure who the author was. Well, duh! It’s Barry Goldwater. Senator-dude from Arizona! He flipped pages, made some noises and closed the book. He turned to the woman sitting next to him who suggested maybe I look up the book online.

OK, let’s talk about this ‘online’ part. If it were today, I’d have a ton of information about this book. But back then, in 2006, the information superhighway was more like Route 66 and less like the 8-lane raceway we know today. Back then you could Google to your hearts content but there wasn’t as much info out there as there is today.

So, my book is appraised at “ImNotSure” dollars and the appraiser now knows who Barry Goldwater is. I grab my book, sad that what I have isn’t some prized historical piece that will get me on to taping a segment. Instead, I have a giant book with amazing, unique, historically-significant, and rare images signed by the late, great Barry Goldwater himself.

With book in hand, we’re off to the Hummel appraiser. My friend only brought them because she had to have something. They belonged to her mom so she figured she should have them looked at. Evidently there are books (and now websites) where you can easily find the value of Hummel figurines. Two minutes later, she’s told her figures are nice and worth a few bucks. Our brush with Antiques Roadshow fame was not to be. Not even one of the ‘sucker segments’. Now we only wished that these Hummels were the fakeist of fake reproductions of the most rare Hummels so we could still get on TV. Alsas, it wasn’t meant to be.

Luckily we were out before noon and headed to Venice Beach for lunch and people watching. It was a beautiful day, we had lunch by the beach and dinner at LAX at Encounter. That funky restaurant in the middle of all the parking. Our view was great, the food was good and the best part was we watched the beautiful sun set over airplanes arriving and departing. It was like we were in the movies.

I still have the book, my friend still has the Hummels and we had a great time going to the Antiques Roadshow. It was a fun day-trip to LA and look at the other side of a popular television show.

Have you ever been on TV or gone to a taping of a TV show? I’m sure there is some cool story, so why not share!


Who Needs a Pen Pal When You Have Twitter?

Globe in Hands

About 35 years ago, (yes, I am that old) I was a young girl eagerly awaiting a letter from a show called Big Blue Marble telling me all the details of my pen pal. I would be assigned another young girl to write to and become friends with. And so began what is now my most enduring relationship other than the one I have with my brother or my grandma. At 6 I’m sure my letters were lame. But I waited so eagerly for my letter from R. R lived in a suburb of Detroit and she was just like me in so many ways. We wrote letter after letter.

For years our only communication was in letters, cards, boxes of baked goodies at the holidays and special little gifts. I honestly don’t remember the first time I ever spoke to her on the phone. I’m sure it wasn’t until I was 10 or 11. And when we did finally talk on the phone it wasn’t very long. Back then long distance calls were very expensive. And because we didn’t have much money, long distance calls were a luxury we couldn’t afford. But I never minded. And neither did she.

But now, who needs letters and phone calls and patiently waiting weeks to hear back from someone you really don’t know? Today, I can chat with R whenever I want. I have instant messenger, texting, Facebook, Facebook chat, Google Chat and a whole host of ways to be in touch. But that’s because I know her. Well.

As I’ve spent the last year connecting and engaging with Twitter, I’ve come to realize that it is just the modern day equivalent of the pen pal. Without the need for a pen. Or waiting.

I’ve met, talked with, laughed with, bantered and generally engaged with hundreds of people. Without regard to who they were. It’s hard to really size someone up on Twitter except for their basic bio and often a link to their website. Usually, though, it’s not all that much more information than I had 30-some years ago about R. But you go with it.

And people do become friends. My friend Diana (@AdamsConsulting) is a tech superstar. Earlier this week she wrote about how she became best friends with someone she met on Twitter. It was her story that got me thinking about how technology has brought people together just like a Saturday morning show brought me and R together. That as long as there is a common thread to connect people, strangers can form lasting relationships.

There aren’t many ways though. You can’t really do that on Facebook. There you connect with ‘friends’ or people you know or people who know someone you both mutually know. It’s not about connecting strangers. That’s what Twitter does best. It connects people who otherwise may not have met in real life. Not because we don’t have common ground, but because we’re very dispersed. I know people all over the world because of Twitter. I talk to them, often in real time, about topics ranging from A to Z.

There is so much power in the written word. Add a heavy dose of tech to it and make the exchange real time and relationships that may have taken years to solidify become rock solid exponentially faster. They’re not superficial. These are ‘I will give you my kidney’ type of relationships. And they’re forming every day because people are putting themselves out there and being themselves and making friends in a new way.

The interesting part is that if you’re not feeling the connection, the investment time is shortened. And, because there are multiple conversations happening at once there is an opportunity to learn a lot about other people and their views, hot buttons, passions, character and ethics very quickly. In some ways it’s harder to hide the skeletons now.

The only drawback I see is that forming these relationship doesn’t happen as early as it did for me and R. And it’s because we’ve been friends since early childhood that she knows everything about my past. She lived my life with me and shared all the milestones throughout my youth. There’s something powerful about that.

For adults though, we often lose sight of the importance of connectivity. It’s a lot of work to find people you really want to be friends with because of who they are not solely because they are close in proximity and therefore convenient. Twitter makes it possible to hold that big blue marble in our hands. The world becomes smaller.

Pen and paper are wonderful for connecting. But as an adult it’s impractical to send off random letters to strangers. Twitter, though, has come up with a way that in 140 characters you can form strong and significant relationships with people who would otherwise be strangers.

I’m sure you’ve made great friends online with people you otherwise may not have met. Isn’t that just phenomenal? If we aren’t connected on Twitter or Facebook, please click the little buttons at the top. And comment or send me an email so I can make sure I’m following you back on Twitter.