Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hugging Shane

It was another frantic day at the office when the soft buzzing of my cell phone inspired me to take a break. Digging ferociously through my new plum bag, I snatched it just in time to have missed all the excitement. Thank goodness a text scrolled across shortly after...because it was from none other than my dear friend, Shane Schulte!

Grinning in excitement and wondering which country this hero was in today, I read quickly and discovered he was literally blocks from work. Gathering my things and thinking to myself, "given his military status, he probably already knew where I worked and what time my calendar opened up" I was thrilled to hear he was interested in doing coffee for the mere 30 minutes I had left in my afternoon. Had I been able to clear my calendar for a year for this man, I would!

Within three minutes, he arrived at the front of building six, clearing items from his car that he claims to live out of when not on some secret agent mission across the lands. I was relieved to see he was exactly the same - from his glowing smile, warm heart, strong physique and overall authentic soul. Although three years lay between our last visit, we chatted as if no time had passed at all - the words falling freely from our mouths just as they were when we were inseparable buds in high school.

As we sat there talking, the memories came flooding back. The smell of fall in the air at football games, the broken hearts, the first loves, the never-ending friendships - a very large suitcase of goodness that I still carry in my heart. Understanding that no times will ever be quite like the magic of high school, I was relieved to know that a piece of that could all come back in the arms of an old friend. The feeling that cannot be described, replaced or even recreated - a plethora of blessings, all packed in a tiny box and completed with that bright pink bow. A package that will always sit perfectly under my tree of life.

As he pulled away, the moments, not long enough, I grew scared as always that this may be the last time I held him in my arms. But knowing the significance of his being, the goodness of his soul - I understood he was always carefully being watched. So as his military career advances him to the many places our hearts can never even fathom treading, I relish in this simple thing: hugging Shane. And I thought to myself - "these are the moments God wants us to hold on to." And forever...I will.

Miss you my friend! Love always!

A "I Wish I Had Thought of That" Moment - New Yorker Living Like Oprah and Making Headlines, Book Deals

On any given work day, one can pass my office and see a quote snatched right from Oprah's "quote of the day" emails - one of the delectable inbox treats I indulge in that doesn't related directly to my work, personal life or "to do" list. Scrawled in pink paint marker among a black background, it reminds me to keep perspective when all else seems lost. With just a quick turn of my head after receiving difficult feedback or after another 10-hour day, it's there with it's enormity - a few words written by someone way smarter and cooler than me - and I have to say, it's inspirational!

After all - that's what Oprah sells: inspiration. You can see it everyday in the eyes of her millions of viewers that tune looking for that one piece of advice, that moment of empathy or maybe just a recommendation on what skin care to use or jeans to purchase for that hard to manage waist-to-behind ratio. But nothing compares to what Ms. Robyn Okrant's done to gain this inspiration. This New Yorker is literally taking EVERY recommendation the billionaire throws out to viewers and applying it in her own life as a quest to see the social impact it makes. So far, Robyn's made CNN, the Today Show and almost every major newspaper in the United States! You know it's only a few days before Oprah's team runs the whole background check and invites her to the show. Then she can hug her in person! Can you imagine?

Let's face it - I'm jealous! Robyn, the educated yoga queen turned famous overnight for bettering herself from Oprah, is having her 15 minutes of fame. And I want a piece of it!

Yet another "I Wish I Had Thought of That" moment from Megan Choate - although it would still probably sound way more hip coming from New Yorker than this Kansas girl ;)

Cheers to innovation Robyn! May you delight in all it brings you!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The House on 72nd

The car rounded the corner silently and with ease, as if it were meant to take that turn on each one of its journeys. It was a corner that just that day, I was silently hoping Mike would take so that I could get that same swell in my chest that happened each time we came upon this thing that I now call: "the little house that stole my heart."

This Sunday was not different from most - we were shaping our dreams by dropping into open houses - taking in their scents, the memories lived out in each and the feel of hope that belonged to each owner. Picturing our items in some, touring the closets that are organized just for these occasions and preparing our hearts for the fact the timing was just not right. Torture, some might say, but we like to call it "preparation."

We had just spent some time in a little gem west of the village that sat next to some of our dearest friends, digesting in conversation its beauty, updated touches and looming backyard. We were chatting quietly and taking in the sounds of the leaves that had begun to tumble, the shifting of shadows and the beauty that comes with Prairie Village and its culture. When suddenly, there she was..

The Little House That Stole My Heart.

Only this time she had a sign perched cautiously toward the end of the driveway, indicating her owners were taking a stab at it on their own. Hoping, perhaps reluctantly, that someone would drive by and rediscover the love that they had had for nearly 10 years in this very same home.

Instantly, this very same house that stole my heart took it and ripped it from my chest. The familiar pangs of disappointment, panic and fear revisited themselves within my body as I began to scream mentally: "this isn't right! God was supposed to time this and save this for Team Choate to raise their children, host their friends, nurture their family! What can I sell? How can I make this happen? Oh my gosh our house isn't ready!"

So there she sits - a For Sale by Owner sign tucked neatly on her threshold - promising those that drive by the tree-lined street that they too, have the opportunity to relish in its quaint structure, feel at home in her arms and bring a sense of peace and love that can only be experienced within the wall of a soul-mate house.

As we whisked by, Mike went frantically to raise the car window, perhaps thinking I'd burst through the metal, run to the door and beg for mercy that they wait until the timing was right to take this treasure from their hands. "I thought you might shout out the window and ask her if she's lowered her price," he said with a slight twist of his mouth.

A pretty blonde woman walked with purpose on the driveway, gathering her children and chatting with the neighbor next door. Perfect, I thought, for the kind of interactions I had pictured happening but with my body there, my children ahead and the same lovely neighbor right next door.

I'm silent the whole drive home, sucking in fresh air from the cracked windows, hoping it will prevent tears from falling down my paling cheeks. Trying fervently to keep my promise to Mike, he quietly rubs my shoulders and asks if I'm tired. For a moment I ponder sharing with him that no, I'm in fact devastated and sad, but feel the pressure of knowing the selfishness of those words given the amount of blessings alive in my life.

So now I sit, soft, melodic whispers of music in the background. Thinking of the angled sunlight through her windows, the swaying tree tops, the screened-in porch that perfectly holds a rocker and reader, the space just wide enough for our kitchen table for conversations that can only happen at the dinner table and the customized master tucked just far away enough to rediscover sanity at the end of a long day. And I wonder:

Will She Ever Be Mine?

They say there are others just like her out there, that there is nothing so unique about her that can't be found in another tree-lined street on another sunny day. That patience is a virtue, and that everything happens for a reason. But I know, sure as my soul does, that this is where we were meant to be. To spend the next 20 years of our lives surrounded in her glory, the smallness of her walls, creaking of her floors. To dance, to cry, to live, to love...this is supposed to be our home.

I think of all those who have opinions about gut feelings, feng shui, human energies and fate. And I think to myself-they're just going to think I'm crazy. But then I picture her again, and suddenly, for once, I don't care. Because I love everything about her - her imperfections, her hidden jewels, her very being. And I think - how ironic that building a home is so much about finding love.

I hold these thoughts close and begin to consciously count the endless gifts I've been given in life to ease the pain, provide perspective and loosen the ache that grows deeper and deeper in the place I suspect holds my heart. And as I set aside my plans to sell the car, the furniture - hell, my soul...I am still left to peacefully wonder if I will ever have the chance to let her steal my heart again.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Week of Birthdays

The Choates are doing a bunch-o-partying this week in honor of both Mike and Ellie's birthdays. Congrats on another great year kiddos...the best is yet to come! Now, check out Ellie's glamourous doggie cake...which was completed with a matching "birthday girl" bandana. Spoiled much? Wish us luck as we survive the doggie teen years and Mike's quick approach to 30!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Taper?! But I Haven't Started Training Yet!

This was my exact thought as I was so rudely interrupted by my BlackBerry (pink of course) that alerted me with an email that stated:

"Congratulations! You have reached your taper week. Enjoy a few days of relaxation because you've worked hard to prepare for your upcoming 10k walk."

As my cheeks turned a dark shade of fuschia, I quickly logged on to my Google calendar and scheduled two weeks of training. So much for tapering...

Did I mention I can barely sit and type this because Ellie and I just did three miles in 45 minutes? And that's only half the battle! I swear my hips out-age me by 50 years of my youthful 28 actual years of age.

So keep your fingers crossed for that 10k Hospital Hill half marathon (and yes "hill" implies the literally painfully obvious) coming up on June 7!

XOXO ~ Megs

Watch Out World - She's Got Initials Behind Her Name Now

But don't think it's gone to my's still another day at the office for me!

On April 15, I earned my Master's of Science in Management (MSM) from Baker University, a college that is adult-focused and ranks as one of the best universities in the U.S. and top 30 in the Midwest. I am thrilled to be done and of course have filled my time with social events wherever school had once consumed!

About the MSM
The degree I achieved is an odd one, so when your friends ask you what your granddaughter/niece/friend got her Master's in, just fib a little and say it's basically a MBA - they'll interpret that a whole lot easier! Baker's marketing spiel of the degree is as follows:

"Baker University's Master of Science in Management (MSM) program is a 36-hour program that provides students with a broad, critical and practice-based understanding of management. During this program you will master the skills and knowledge necessary to assume a variety of leadership positions in complex contemporary environments."

My version of the story is this: this expensive degree has equipped me to deal with crazies in the workplace.

After all, that's what management is all about, right?

The program lasted 18 months and focused largely on group work. As you can imagine with those kinds of requirements, our class went from 20+ to the remaining six (kind of like "The Bachelor.") There were man project plans, exams and of course interpersonal conflicts (read: cat fights) taking place at the local Starbucks. I went through at least four study groups, gave up on my class leadership position and took the low-key road only to end up with a fabulous group of girls I will forever call friends and a better understanding of what it takes to be a manager.

Now, I'm about 30k poorer and loving life. Almost two years later, standing with the last suckers left, here are the top five things I learned:

1. It's important to play nice in the sandbox. So be nice in the sandy stuff - it will continue to count from kindergarten to always.

2. Tests will always stink - I'm convinced even when you're 60+ years of age, the law of procrastination and dread of the whole event will never change.

3. Always take every opportunity you can to teach and nurture someone. It will make an impact - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day. And soak in any mentoring you can get along the way!

4. People were right - a Master's degree is a glorified version of an undergrad one - except with professors that like to even talk more about themselves, their experiences and crazy ex-students.

5. Sacrificing a little to achieve a lot makes a soul fill with accomplishment and satisfaction. (And if you're not headed for a PhD, you're done!)

With the accomplishment of this degree, I plan to stay at my current company as a communications manager and continue to grow with any opportunity I'm presented. So, what'll be the next thing? One can only guess what that could be...stay tuned!

XOXO ~ Megs

Did You Get the Memo? Mike's Got a New Job!

Office Space Quotes
Bob Porter: Looks like you've been missing a lot of work lately.
Peter Gibbons: I wouldn't say I've been missing it, Bob!

Congratulations to Mike, who now serves as the Client Account Representative at The Mutual Fund Store, an independent, fee-based investment advisory and asset management services firm. He is thrilled to be working with a new, innovative, passionate team that makes a difference in the lives of their clients. And now, a word from the big man himself:

"I don't blog"

Ok then!

Mike will work with top-notch advisors to help them find the best mutual funds for their clients. Way to go Mikey! Please wish him best of luck on his journey...even if this is one team Choate game he doesn't play!