The theme of “get busy living” has echoed in my ears for some time now. As a cancer survivor and an active volunteer, I know the theme has become a bit of a mantra for the Stupid Cancer community. Get a whole punch of passionate, motivated and courageous people who have already stared cancer in the eye together and give them a challenge. Puhleeze. We know who is winning this one.

I like to think I embody “get busy living” all of the time, but let’s be honest, it’s not  easy. Living every single day to the fullest is not always possible, sometimes it’s just to your own person fullest. And at least I can say that IS what I do. Yesterday just happened to be  day when I did it really well. I like to think it’s because I had a special brand new angel with me.

The best gifts are the gifts that you enjoy giving more than the receiver even enjoys receiving. Giving “good” gifts has been something I truly enjoy for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it tends to be something that the person wouldn’t purchase for themselves. I bought my dad a flying lesson for Christmas last year (yes, it is September, and yes, we did just redeem it). The guys at Global Aviation in Farmingdale were great and I highly recommend the experience. My favorite “get busy living” moment was sitting behind him in a plane and having hims say, “this is awesome.” I wowed dad. It’s like a little victory party just for me. The views of Long Island, the ocean and the horizon were incredible and we are so lucky to have had that time in the air.

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When we got back to the house, my dad asked, “what’s on your agenda?” And for the first time in way too long I was able to answer, “nothing planned.” What an incredible blessing to have an entire afternoon with nothing required. Granted, I had a huge pile of paperwork, schoolwork and laundry all looking right at me, but I knew they would still be there regardless of what I did with the rest of my day.

With a dear friend in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, it was a great day to suggest the flea market. She happen to have nothing planned as well and was eager to get outside. We walked around a mix of new and used items, ethic foods and drinks and possibly one of my favorites, framed pieces of art. These types of frames are ones that you can imagine in your living room or in the hallway. Each telling their own story. One that isn’t even yours. A magical place, in a frame.

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Trying to gather my other Brooklyn girls I suggested dinner at Madiba, a South African restaurant on Dekaulb in Fort Greene. Stop reading this and go there now. I’m not kidding, go. Fine, if you insist I will tell you about the experience and then you can go when you have a chance.

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Madiba happen to be celebrating its 14 year anniversary last night. We walked into a magical moment in time, just like the frames I had seen earlier in the day. The scene was energetic and nostalgic. The people were joyous and proud. The table were full of people from all over the city and community and the world. Owners, Mark and Jenny Henegan have dedicated their restaurant to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. They are “dedicated to the future of South Africa, a future that promises greater cultural harmony, economic development, and
collective enjoyment of ‘a World in One Country’.”

Celebrating in the lead were Mark and his brother, Denis. Not only were they celebrating the restaurant’s anniversary, but welcoming their parents coming to Brooklyn, to their place, for the first time in a long time. There were dignitaries, longtime customers and friends, staff, community, first-timers and family all under the same roof. And here we were, three first time patrons, enjoying libations, saffron, cumin, prawns, curries and beets. As if we had never had these things before. There are no words to describe quality new handmade goodness hitting your mouth for the first time. I was once told my roast was like “sex in my mouth.” That’s what I would have told the chefs at Madiba that night.

I had a chance to say hello to Mark on the way out, first congratulating him on 14 years of success and then for having us, we felt like we were a part of a family celebration marking the genuine love of the country, food and people of South Africa. And yet, he said, “thank you” to me.

In the theme of “get busy living” I leave this day as a memory and a reminder of the ability to make things happen regardless of what is in its path,  best said by Mandela himself, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

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