This is the season for merry this and happy that, wishing each other joy and bringing happiness to all. But, where do you find that happiness to share? How do you get a hold of it. You have to own something to be able to give it to others, yes? Perhaps someone besides the world of merchandising can give us a better clue as to how to find what brings actually happiness.
Rabbi Peretz Mochkin, a truly joyful man, talks about how happiness thinks. Maybe we have to get a grasp on that before we understand where happiness lives so we can get enough to keep for ourselves and to pass on to others. The gift of actual happiness and the skill of finding it may be the best gift of all. To you and to everyone you know. Not a gift for just this season but a gift to last a lifetime.
Kathy Joy, founder of the Joy Resolution and Letters to the Universe
Kathi Joy is one. A joy. Totally. Irresistible, in a word. In more than a word you can hear her tell her own encouraging and complicated story and how she came to head a consulting business called the Joy Resolution as well as an out-of-this-world project as irresistible as she is – letters to the universe. For Kathi there was a time of a long-ago heartbreak that led to her paying attention to her own sorrow, letting it be, learning from it and coming through it not only with flying colors but the eventual creation of the actual wings to get others heard.
It was a winged-mailbox she took to Burning Man to offer people a chance to write letters to the universe with results that may surprise you or may have you saying, “of course.” In case you think letters to the universe may sound a little otherworldly, no, not at all. Listen to the moving results of the letter writing. This is empowerment at a practical level. To the universe, yes, but at its core, down to earth as can be.
Her love letters? Many, of course. And, one astonishing one of forgiveness.
Stacy Millich and John Gyselbrecht were, in the world of young love, made for each other. “We were lucky,” she says, “because we found each other early when we were 19 and 20.” He has a sense of humor that was unique, and she knew right away that she wanted to be around that for life as long as she could.
Life was privileged for each of them, with great lives, families, and friends. After practicing law for 15 years, she now teaches criminal justice. He is a loved middle-school math teacher about whom students have the most enthusiastic things to say but summed up in the words of one who said “ya’ll mr. G is the best teacher i think I will ever ever have! if you havent had him your like totally missing out!!!!! seriously”
John’s love letters? Yes, plural. Letters on paper in ink stamped and mailed to all the people who are there for him with love and support in so many ways including a loving reconnections with one particular family member and a generous donation to the Foundation from a childhood friend he would not recognize on the street today. All these letters are reminders of how many and how much people care about him, reminders of affection that has not dimmed over time and distance, and a reminder of how people want to help. These letters are, he says, a gift of the cancer.
It is the specifics contained in a love letter that make it unique, make it yours, and make it a love letter. San Francisco writer Sandra Foster Lovas has written an astounding one to her long-time friend who is, as we all do, changing with the years, although not like all of us, she has remained doggedly undiscouraged by some agonizing challenges.
When Sandra moved to San Francisco decades ago, she knew no one here until the day she happened to sit next to Dorrit at a rug auction and, not knowing that Dorrit was one of San Francisco’s most distinguished interior designers, dove right in to offer some very recently discovered knowledge. Sandra still smiles when she talks about offering this long-standing expert her own fresh-out-of-the box mastery of exotic carpets. That day was the first day of the rest of their lives as close friends. Dorrit, a niece of Isak Denisen, author of Out of Africa, has spent her lifetime living with an adventurousness that seems to be an inherited gift.
Artist Alexander Philippe creator of the game of Efil
Alexander Philippe is an artist and philosopher for whom small talk seems to be a waste of time. He is here again with a conversation about conversation and what people can offer each other with communication that skirts chic-chat and gets to the point. Alexander is an emotionally generous philosopher who is cheerfully fearless about revealing what he feels and giving you permission to do the same.
Do you remember Miss Nancy of television’s Romper Room and the wonderful lessons she brought to your little ones? Do you remember the day Miss Nancy became Ms. Nancy, thanks to a conversation with Gloria Steinem, bringing a whole new consciousness to our little ones? Ruby Petersen Unger remembers it well and with good reason, because she was Ms. Nancy.
Whether you are 3 or 90, Ruby is talking to you, and she is the kind of person you cannot help but want to hear. She is funny. She is smart, and she offers the kind of easy honesty that can slip right into the realm of charmingly outrageous. She is unflaggingly current and takes her mission seriously without putting herself in the center of any universe.
Her love letter? Not singular. Plural. She has files of them and knows each person instantly by the sight of each unique handwriting.
Alexander Philippe is a one-man adventure. He is a San Francisco artist who paints. He has a degree in fine arts. And, more to the point of who Alexander Philippe is, he is a philosopher. He is a communicator and wants others to have the same satisfaction. He strongly identifies with Kierkegaard’s “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Charles Troy, Broadway historian and graphic designer
There is the well-known thrill of the Broadway musical and the lesser-known thrill of what went into producing that show, the backstory, the history, the personalities. The acclaimed Broadway historian with a background in graphic design, Charles Troy brings the details of Broadway shows into focus rather literally through over fifty of his cleverly fashioned and well-researched multimedia presentations.
To hear his story in his own voice is a lovely introduction not only to this very charming man but to his style and wealth of knowledge. He recently opened Noah Griffin’s SF Bay Area production of Cole Porter in Paris: the Lost Songs, furnishing the audience with a little-known history of Cole Porter’s Paris years that shed a new light on old favorites of the Great American Song Book.
Sometimes a mother, quite by accident, does something life-changing for her daughter’s love life. Here one thing led to another with the regularity of the knee bone connected to the thigh bone. She had fallen on some cobblestones in Mexico and injured her leg badly enough to throw off her immediate plans which was to meet her daughter who was living in Europe. Well, she finally got there and had to wait for her daughter to finish a yoga class, but she did need to sit down. Chose the nearest restaurant, which was closed but threw herself on the kindness of the manager who did let her come in to sit down with the caveat that when they opened she would have to leave because the restaurant was booked. Good enough. She sat down. Just listen to this loving and respectful mother tell the rest of this adventure and see if you don’t want to throw yourself right into the hands of Cupid and let that golden arrow fall where it may. It does require faith in humanity and a welcoming nature. Thank you to this graceful mother.
Prepare to be moved, surprised, and inspired as host Janet Gallin helps guests from all walks of life express themselves in letters that support, thank, or set things straight. Always enlightening, often cathartic, these are conversations you won’t want to miss. More...