Wonder: Looking for a 2nd dog to add to my home

Phin and I sure are going to miss Otis. He has been a godsend to us this past year and a half.

Want to help Phin and I find our new furry friend? We’re looking for a small adult dog who is house trained, loves other dogs, and loves people to be Phin’s new constant companion. Ideally, this dog would have a very calming presence. Maybe you know a dog who is looking for a forever home, a dog rescue that would gladly help us, or have advice on the best way to add a new dog to a household that already has a dog. We’ll take all of the references and pieces of advice you have, so please send them our way!



Wonder: Music on every corner in Cuba

I went to Cuba because of music. The biographical film of Arturo Sandoval’s life, For Love or Country, made me yearn to see Cuba, hear the music, and meet the people. And that I did.

Music is the heartbeat of Cuba. Everywhere I went, I heard it and saw people dancing, clapping, and smiling right along with it. It seems that the music lives in them, moves them, and binds them all together. Music is a way to remember the past, enjoy today, and hope for a better tomorrow. Here are some of my favorite music memories from Cuba:


Wonder: An artist at work in Trinidad, Cuba

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 5.20.19 PM
Photo I took of an artist at work in his studio in Trinidad, Cuba

I snapped this photo in Trinidad, a city in central Cuba that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was late at night and the only light that flowed onto the street was from his studio. He was hard at work despite the late hour, and that resonates with me. We create when and where we can,  and it’s often in these quiet, solitary moments that we can most clearly channel our inspiration and get it all down so that we might share it with the world.

I love to see artists at work in their environments because the location invariably has some impact on the art. Is an artist trying to create his way out of an unfortunate situation? Is she inspired by what surrounds her as she creates? Does he create in spite of the environment or because of it? I love art for this reason: there are always more questions.


Wonder: 19 (Cuban) seconds for a photo

The duo who took my photo in 19 (Cuban) seconds

“Get an old-fashioned photo!” the young man called to me in Parque Central in Old Havana.

“How long does it take to develop?” I asked.

“19 seconds.”

I should have known better. Everything in Cuba takes a long time. Every. Little. Thing. No one is in a hurry to do anything or go anywhere. In Cuba, even time takes time. People say it’s frozen in time in the 1950s. I’d go back much further than that.

What I didn’t realize is that we weren’t paying for a photo. We were paying for the experience of having the photo taken. An old man and a young man had a ramshackle camera, the likes of which I’d never seen. Jerry rigged from old parts gathered from discarded items (reduce, recycle, reuse, again and again and again is a way of life in Cuba), we watched in wonder over the 19 minutes, not the 19 seconds it took to snap and develop the photo. The show was worth every penny if the 2 bucks we paid, and then some.

This was always the way all over Cuba. You don’t pay for goods, you pay for the experience you gain and the time of the people you meet gathering the goods. You invest in the people and their ingenuity. Once you make that mental leap, waiting isn’t an inconvenience nor a chore in Cuba. It’s an honor, a gift, and a pleasure.


Wonder: Alex, the Beyoncé of Ice Cream in Havana

Alex, the Beyonce of Ice Cream in Havana
Alex, the Beyoncé of Ice Cream in Havana

On a crowded corner of Plaza Vieja in Old Havana, you’ll find the best ice cream you’ve ever had. Coco Glace is nothing more than coconut milk, coconut water, and pieces of coconut served in a half coconut shell and it’s incredible. I devoured it with my new friends on our last day in Cuba under a brutal sun and sky-high humidity.

Alex, the maker of Coco Glace, is pleased to tell you that he loves Madonna and Beyoncé, hates Taylor Swift, loves America, hates Chris Brown, loves being gay, and will see you on Broadway as soon as he sells enough Coco Glace to get himself out of Cuba. He calls himself the Beyoncé of ice cream, and in my humble opinion he isn’t exaggerating. Coco Glace is incredible. I’ve been dreaming about it ever since eating that first marvelous spoonful.

Cuba was full of simple pleasures like Coco Glace. Nothing there is extravagant, but it’s honest, pure, and real. There are no additives – in the food, in the people, or in their way of life. There are no pretenses. People and things are exactly what they appear to be, and in this day and age that is a triumph.

After finishing my ice cream, I made my way back to Alex and told him how amazing his ice cream is.

“Mami, ju don’t know how happy you just made me,” said Alex. I love ju. I love America. I’ll see you there soon! Look for me. Tell Beyoncé!” I just smiled and said I would. So Beyoncé, consider yourself told that you have a Cuban compatriot who puts on a show for all his customers and he is fabulous.

I hope someday I’m strolling down the Great White Way and that I look up and see Alex’s joyful smile and unapologetic moxie plastered all over a giant marquee. And I hope Coco Glace is one of the many things we exchange with our Cuban neighbors. Maybe Beyoncé could make both those dreams come true.


Wonder: Serve your inner child

Picture I took of a young child and a dancer in Korimakao, a small artist colony for young people outside of Viñales in north-central Cuba

“The most important people in Cuban culture are children,” said our guide. And that made me tear up. What if that were true everywhere? What kind of world would we have then?

So much of our society is geared toward growing up. It’s a society built by and for adults, and for turning children into them. We don’t always celebrate children. We often don’t stand up for them. We don’t let them be who they are, but rather we shape them into who we want them to be.

Think about how we each treat our own inner child. Many times, we squash him or her. Too often we don’t let ourselves try things just for the fun of it, or fail at things, or experiment, or doing anything without it having some kind of practical purpose or end goal.

Maybe that’s why the connected world is flipping out over the mom in the Chubacca mask. She exhibited unbridled delight. When was the last time we all did that? Why have we given up on pure joy? Why isn’t that our goal? Why are we slaves to accomplishment, and not our own happiness? Let’s change that.


Wonder: The dream of Cuba

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 8.26.48 AM
Taxis in Havana

I got back into the U.S. yesterday after 10 days in Cuba. It was an adventure of color, texture, and movement. A time to learn, reflect, and grow in directions and in ways that I haven’t done in a long time. Completely disconnected from the internet, my phone, and the news, I could just live each day.

I stepped back into a time that was at once simpler and more complex. Parts of the journey were joyful and parts of it were stressful. Now that I’m back home, I wouldn’t trade any of it. It all led me to an increased level of awareness of opportunity, potential, and hope available to all of us.

Many pictures and stories to follow…


Wonder: Don’t be afraid to walk away

You can’t be afraid to walk away from something that’s not right for you. A city. A job. A relationship. A financial deal. A conversation. A situation. As Brian has often said to me, “if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.”

I’m not saying to run at the first hint of trouble; I’m just saying that our energy and time are too precious to be wasted, especially by someone else. If someone isn’t treasuring your talents and gifts, then see to it that your talents and gifts be applied elsewhere. Don’t succumb to the idea that there’s nothing better out there or that in some way you aren’t worthy, ready, or capable of something better. You are. Right now.

The people who need you are out there. Find them.


Wonder: The upside of exhaustion

My mind’s a little numb. My housing situation, work, and a hectic schedule have worn me out. So with my last bit of energy, I’m packing up my bags and flying off to Cuba where I won’t have any cell reception nor access to internet for over a week. It’s going to be an adventure – a time-warp in a foreign language, set in a foreign land, and surrounded by people I don’t know. And all I’ll have to capture my thoughts are pen, paper, and a camera.

In times like this I think it’s good to have a numb mind. I don’t have any space to worry about anything. I’m just going to hop on a plane and have a great time no matter what. I’m too tired to do anything but. While I wish I had some more energy, I have a feeling that the white sand, sun, and bright colors of Cuba will be exactly what I need. And I’m open to them. I’m ready to give myself over to the experience and whatever comes with it. This is the upside of exhaustion.


Wonder: Creating a habit of accountability

“Turns out there’s no foe as quietly formidable as accountability.” ~Alison Willmore, BuzzFeed News Film Critic

What gets measured gets done. That’s a lesson I learned over and over at Darden that I have never forgotten. To move forward with any project, we have to commit to do what we said we would do when we said we would do it. And we have to hold others to that same standard. This can be difficult and uncomfortable work.

I’m a fan of writing things down—my goals, the plan to get to those goals, and the progress I make in that direction. It’s not a complicated system and it works. We can convince ourselves of anything if we keep our decisions in our heads. Once we write them down, we memorialize them. My boss and mentor, Bob G., taught me that. It’s never failed me. I write it down and something magical happens. Something shifts, and we spring into action.

In the end, our word and our ability to stand behind our word with action, is all we have. Integrity, integrity, integrity. It matters more than anything, in our careers and our lives.