Coffee Klatch 201: Casting a Wider Net

Several years ago when my son was a wee toddler, I found myself in the all-too-familiar new mommy space of having a little one at home and feeling very isolated. I had left work for the first time in 20 years, didn’t know anyone with small kids in my neighborhood and my church didn’t have a mom’s group.

So, I decided to try out a mom’s group I saw advertised in my local community newspaper. I arrived at my first meeting with what I felt like was a huge neon sign above my head that said I needed connection! The result?

Well, it was pretty much a disaster.

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Seattle CityClub launches #NiceNeighbor Campaign

I wasn’t planning another post this month, but just in case anyone in the greater Puget Sound area or abroad missed this story, I wanted to repeat it here at Eat Play Thaw. The community is growing with more and more ‘neighbors’ wanting to thaw the Seattle Freeze. All info below is taken from Seattle CityClub’s website. I highly recommend following their blog for ideas! And, by the way, thank you to my #NiceNeighbors Jenny & Jerry for pulling our neighbors together for National Night Out for “cookies in the cul-de-sac.”  Inviting is contagious. Pass it on…. Continue reading

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Can a simple hug change the world?

WonderLast weekend, my son and I finished reading an amazing book together which brought me to tears. Recommended by my friend, Lanie, Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, follows the journey of a little boy named August through his 5th grade school year. What makes his year especially unique is up until 5th grade August has always been home schooled, and he’s been home schooled because he was born with a severe facial deformity that required countless medical procedures and a safe haven from people’s often harsh judgments of him.

A beautiful element of the story line is the kids who befriend him. His gentle, genuine spirit gradually draws the students to him. One of them, named Charlotte, offered up my favorite quote from the book:

“It’s not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.”

Well said, Charlotte. It reminded me once again of how important it is to take the extra step beyond an easy wave out the car window, or a ‘hey’ at the mailbox, or a cordial conversation and truly take the time to notice a person – who they are, what they value, what they might need.  I’m convinced that a single act of noticing can begin to embrace an isolated world.  Why? Continue reading

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West Seattle neighborhood ROCKS National Night Out for 30 years!

For anyone who has been victim to the Seattle Freeze, your dream neighborhood might just be in West Seattle.  No, seriously.  For nearly 3 decades one West Seattle neighborhood has organized and enjoyed a huge block party together for National Night Out.

While doing some research about NNO, I happened upon a West Seattle Blog story celebrating their community’s 2014 block parties and I recognized someone in one of the photos; it was the husband of one of my childhood friends, Sue Riss Daley.  Surprised and amazed I knew someone who was doing this, I quickly reached out and asked Sue a few questions about her neighborhood’s NNO:

How did your NNO block party first get started? Continue reading

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National Night Out is Tuesday, August 4

National Night Out is an excellent way to meet your neighborsOrganizing a block party is one of the best ways to connect with your neighbors.  National Night Out – the brain child of National Association of Town Watch – is just 3 weeks away. NNO is an annual community-building campaign that promotes neighborhood camaraderie and safety. Will you consider organizing A Night Out for your neighborhood? Continue reading

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The benefits of splurging on memories instead of stuff

Years ago a friend told me that when she and her husband started their family they decided that whenever they had a little extra money they would choose to spend it on making memories instead of buying stuff. They believed if they stuck to this philosophy, in the long run they would ‘come out ahead’ with their kids.

From the evidence of their terrific four grown children, I think they chose wisely. It’s a model that more and more I seek to incorporate into my family’s life. Recently I spent money on something I swore I’d never do before having a child: I spent $350 on a 4-hour rental of a giant inflatable water slide.

And boy am I glad I did. Why? Continue reading

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How to make the most of this AMAZING Seattle summer!

Just like a great friendship, a Seattle summer should never be taken for granted – especially this AMAZING Seattle summer we’re having!  Last week my friend Gina and I grabbed our beach chairs, packed up lunch for our boys and headed to Rattlesnake Lake.

Is there better fun to be found than a day at Alki Beach in Seattle?

Is this not hilarious? Mr. C and his friends buried themselves in the sand! Is there a better day of fun to be found in Seattle than a day at Alki Beach?

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Eat Play Thaw, Chapter 2: Blogging on the Brighter Side

As I crossed the finish line last month having achieved my Eat Play Thaw goal of connecting with one neighbor every month for 12 months – a neighbor I didn’t already know or know very well – I’m now standing at a new starting line asking, “what’s next?”

A year ago I set out to try and do my part to thaw the Seattle Freeze by being intentional with my neighbors. Along the way a big part of the process was warming up my own “frozen behavior” by taking to task my own “stuff” – insecurities, procrastination & attitudes.

I’ve decided I really want to continue with my neighboring quest, once again challenging myself to do one thing each month to connect with people in my neighborhood.

sherryroseI like having this type of goal. Life is busy and if I don’t have a goal out in front of me, my “stuff” may take over and I’ll find ways to retreat. I think one thing each month to increase connection with my neighbors isn’t too much to ask of myself.  Meeting people is awesome, but real connection takes time. Continue reading

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Aunt Jenny’s Chicken Salad: TIME to pay it forward

If I’d waited until I’d had the time, I’d have never gotten to know my neighbors.

TIME.  That elusive, ethereal substance that can overwhelm us, escape us, stare us down or hover like a fog in an imaginary distance. Well that was an awfully pithy sentence for a blog! What a crock – Sheesh!

Anyhoo.  TIME is the stuff life is made of and TIME seemed to be the theme about a week ago when I was able to enjoy having a few neighbors over for lunch.  My goal was to host the same gals who started my “neighboring journey” with me one year ago last May [see: “The Power of the Neighborhood Directory”].

My neighbors are so gracious - look at these beautiful "hostess gifts" they brought to me at our luncheon! The most beautiful rosemary bush, and fresh peonies my neighbor picked from her garden that day. Wow.

My neighbors are so gracious – look at these beautiful “hostess gifts” they brought to me at our luncheon! The most beautiful rosemary bush, and fresh peonies and roses my neighbor picked from her garden that day. Wow.

Four of us gathered on my deck (a few were not able to make it). It seemed to be one of those TIMES when we fell in, grateful to catch a breath. TIME for everyone was a precious commodity this past year as each woman had either returned to work or increased their work hours, both outside of the home AND with kid’s activities.  But it’s amazing how just 90 minutes of TIME spent over great conversation can refresh the soul.

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A discussion about religion and beliefs beneath The Red Tent

It’s been said if you want to get into an argument, just start a conversation about religion or politics. Apparently whoever said that never took part in my neighborhood book club.

Last week my book club met to discuss The Red Tent. Published over a decade ago, it’s a fictional story that uses the brief Biblical story of Jacob’s one daughter – Dinah – as its jumping off point. [Jacob as in the 12 tribes of Israel, as in Jacob and Esau, sons of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham – the father of the Hebrew/Jewish nation. Just in case you were wondering.]

My book club enjoyed a discussion about the role of religion in our lives after reading The Red Tent.

My neighbor Sue literally created The Red Tent for our book club discussion, wrapping her outdoor table in red table cloths and napkins. To top it off, she served us ‘old testament treats’ of dates, olives, goat cheese, almonds and chocolate covered pomegranate seeds. Gotta love it.

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