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Carolyn–A Treasured Friendship

The minute Carolyn learned that I was down for the count–hit by a taxi, in NYC– she leaped into action.  From thousands of miles away, Carolyn  turned into the Rock of Gibraltar as I began to contemplate the metamorphosis from permanent injury to miraculously positive recovery over the coming months.

Carolyn has retired from her role as the CEO of Grey Group EMEA after spearheading a critical period of growth, but she remains as adventurous as ever and passionate every day. Today she is teaching me  the art of optimism that she radiates, so brilliantly, no matter the changing conditions in our lives. Carolyn’s husband brags about these traits–in Carolyn. I am ready for her day’s lesson!

Since the accident, Carolyn has instituted scheduled visits–every week. “Up and at ’em,”  she says, with suggestions of museum trips, gourmet meals, and theater outings. And she makes them happen–with her help.

Tonight she is taking a giant step; she has invited her husband, Jeffrey to join us for dinner at their favorite haunt.  This was a direct signal that my disposition and progress was suitable for company. I hear that Jeffrey is quite the communicator. I shall learn that he enjoys asking questions more than answering them. I may need to adjust my inquisitiveness, a tad.  Hmm.

I rev up the engine on my new motorized wheelchair and dare Ms. Carolyn to keep apace in her stiletto heels en route to the Carravagio Restaurant.   Of course, Carolyn keeps up with the maximum speed of this vehicle–at 3.5 miles per hour–with gushing admiration for my newly honed driving skills.  I returned the compliments, admiring her fitness,  grace, and balance.

On arrival, we are greeted by the dashing Jeffrey, smiling broadly -comfortable at his favorite dining spot. He is engaged in animated conversation with the manager and taking complete delight at the sight of his wife. Caravaggio is as inviting as ever — with a perfectly set table, calm lighting, an imaginative menu before us and an endless array of mouthwatering additions . But, independent, as I am prone to demonstrate, I ask for my favorite dish at Caravaggio– a -pasta dish not on the menu, but always available. You see, I too, am familiar with this restaurant, though not a regular. I want Mr.Husband to appreciate my gratitude for his good taste!

As to the rest of my  manners, that is another story. My business is like most everyone else’s business;  filled with emergencies that fall into the category of poor planning–sometimes the client , sometimes mine.  On this Sunday evening, while at the dinner table, I reach for the phone to advise a frantic friend on suitable legal counsel for her big pickle. My newly honed wheelchair  driving skills are not quite good enough to scamper away from the table!

I return to the dinner conversation. It continues seamlessly, with husband Jeffrey holding his fire on the questionable disruption.  Instead he probes for more insights about his wife’s friend. He is self-assured,  low-key,  and on the money when he finally decides to speak his mind. He questions the call suggests I like to be in control. Surprise!

Carolyn jumps in–thinking he is astute, but might choose his words differently.  She quickly pulls in the reins suggesting that I am “strong.” At this moment she actually sees me as a bit fragile. Husband Jeffrey sees me as strong. We move as an ensemble to a scintillating  discussion about strength and weakness and end the dinner with optimism about our continuing friendship.

Carolyn plays bridge with less learned players; she has learned to let frustration roll off her back. She is a role model for women who want to take the business world by storm; she has been there; done that, and got the tee shirt.  She travels far and wide; she is a truly curious citizen of the world. And beyond a shadow of a doubt, Carolyn has a contagious zest for life and spreads the word. And now I see that Carolyn loves her husband, madly, but I get the benefit of her gentleness.  

In Caroline, I have a treasured friend. As to Jeffrey, I believe our dinner  laid the groundwork for a new friendship, but it was also a reminder that good conversations are triggered by honest communication and optimism.

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Central Park, Renewal Is At My Doorstep

 


It is week 11 since a taxi hit me and shut down my summer vacation plans, but the non-negotiable reset button of 8 weeks of pure bed rest and 12 weeks of staying put in a wheelchair with “articulating legs”  has allowed me to revise my priorities.  I am meditating, mending, and maneuvering with exercises I never dreamed of.  And I continue to live in a field of dreams and travel on my chosen path, in search of the perfected  Renaissance life.

Outside, the scene rotated between calm and and provocative, cloudy and tearful,  and sunny and gray–as I gazed upon the park. I am getting stronger by the day and counting the weeks I must wait to climb the hills of Central Park, once again. Those hills were never so inviting until they were forbidden.

The Nor’easter arrived later in the day than predicted; but I prepared early and stayed with the plan: nine Beethoven symphonies and rotated readings of Chaucer, Friedman, Peter Baker, and the Sunday Times are near at hand and ready for my ears. The decadent world of Andrew  Friedman’s “Chef, Drugs and Rock and Roll,” a homage to celebrity chefs from the West Coast, East Coast and the world of le francais amuses, while Canterbury Tales reminds me that classics never get old.

I am feasting on the ever-changing landscape, that could be turned into impressionist masterpieces, but I  do not have to wait. They are before my eyes.  The torrential rain is accompanying music to my ears.  The windy downpour whipped sideways in front of the window; then it stopped as suddenly as it had started; revealing a gentle sky beyond the grandeur of the architecture that outlines the West Side of Manhattan in the high rent district.

Here I am, taking delight in each day’s progress, finding joy and peace in hopping 30 steps–without fear, shimmying sideways through narrow doors, transferring from bed to platform walker to wheelchair, seamlessly.   And, I plan to push my limits to put tobogganing, table tennis, and tango on my future dance card.  Renewal is a journey.

Our lives can change in an instant. But, as Rudyard Kipling cautions so well–I believe if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs–the ensuing strength will carry you to greater heights than known before. I remain in the game with certitude the best is yet to come. The destination is the product of the journey;  made so much easier for me to reach because I am surrounded by treasured friends.

Note, Another rendition of “Renewal” appears at EOLIS.com – CEO Face Time blog.

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President Obama With “Wendy”

Last week, Wendeen reconnected with President Barack Obama, outside Washington (where they first met in 2008),  at a stirring event held at the Streiker Center/Temple Emanu-el. After sampling chef Daniel Boulud’s famous short ribs,  the President took pictures at a VIP reception before the Event. He would soon settle in for a “conversation” with Rabbi Joshua Davidson in the main sanctuary of the temple.

In earshot of Wendeen’s friends, nearby, as she approached to greet the President, he called out to her , “Hi Wendy.”  She joined him–responding  with this smile, caught by the camera! The only people who call her “Wendy” are family (Wendy was her nickname until she turned 6!), singer Wayne Newton, a client and longtime friend who resides in a world of his own, and  the good president.  Wendeen couldn’t bring herself to correct the president!

There was good reason that President Obama resonated deeply with his audience. He offered simple and sage advice to attendees on how to thrive in our complicated world. He said, “I tell my girls, “Be kind and be useful.” Wendeen is grateul for his perspective.

 

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Woods and Wendeen – Politics and Poker

The New Year had gotten off to a good start; an eclectic group of business and public service projects was on the boards. And then came an offer Wendeen could not refuse; an invitation to participate in a live poker game to be televised on CBS Sports.

The player roster was as eclectic as any she had ever seen; lawyers, poker pros, a movie reviewer, and James Woods, the MIT educated actor, were on the list.

Some 15 Years ago Wendeen and Jimmy struck up an acquaintanceship at a poker tournament in California, each intrigued by the other’s connection to NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Jimmy had played Rudy in the movie of the same name. Wendeen had played a role in Giuliani’s run for Mayor and had served as a special advisor to him on City Hall Affairs.

The years flew by with occasional crossing of paths, a dinner here a poker date there. But in the upcoming Poker Night In America show they sit next to each other for most of the day–hemming and hawing about their respective holdings and mugging for the camera as reacquainted friends.

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Two Eolis Sisters Celebrate Manhattan

It is a tradition!  Sharon and Wendeen celebrate the holiday season, sharing their love for Manhattan; restaurants, theater, museums, and, the must see Alvin Ailey dance company. The joy of Ailey’s longtime signature  piece, Revelations, never runs out of joy.

Last weekend Ailey paired Revelations with  the beautiful new Odetta, a tribute to the legendary folk singer, at the Saturday matinee–a  tip Sharon bestowed on Wendeen.  And Wendeen returned the favor,  tipping off  Sharon, an avid civil rights activist  to the impassioned, riveting choreography that explodes before your eyes in the dance company’s timely offering of “Uprising.”

The two sisters continue their  family time celebration over the Chanukah and Christmas  holidays, taking in great food for thought.

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Luther Kent / Wendeen Toasting New Orleans

Blues and country singer Luther Kent, a NOLA native, gives Wendeen a big hug during her annual post Katrina visit.. They celebrate the City’s resurgence.

Wendeen’s HCTF team assisted in evacuations and selection of counsel for NOLA residents following chaos at the Super Dome in the aftermath of Katrina.

Luther sings to Wendeen and friends in the beautifully refurbished Carousel Lounge at the Monteleone Hotel where superb service and the best massages are routine.

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Larrigata Visit

Larry Lindsey hosts Wendeen at his beautiful ocean side home in Virginia Beach, where they splice together their respective activities in business, politics, and poker.

Larry, the erudite economist and Wendeen, the experienced legal consultant covered the waterfront of current events before breakfast on the glorious beach.

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Wendeen and Rich Ponder Poker Legislation

At the annual World Series of Poker the business of the industry is as much the talk of the town as the daily WSOP events themselves.

It is the meeting ground of everyone who is anyone in the poker world. That notably includes Rich Muny, Vice President of Player Relations for The Poker Players Alliance. Here at the Rio in the quiet corridor before the crowds arrive, Wendeen and Rich meet up to chat about the latest rumblings in Washington on online’s gaming future in America.

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Great Granddaughter Acquisition

In an unexpected family visit, Wendeen’s granddaughter presents the latest arrival, Deborah Dielle , who weighed  in at 4 pounds, 12 ounces,  a remarkable joy.

Mom, Grandma, and Great Grandma take turns introducing her all around. Wendeen insists on ruling the roost with a private tete-a-tete with the family’s latest addition.