Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Orange for Solidarity

Yard sign in my front yard!
Orange is an energetic, happy, positive, bright color. It's my favorite color, as you probably know! In fact it's my signature color and has been for about a decade! It also happens to be the color of the fabulous project I'm working on - Obliteride, a movement to end cancer at Fred Hutch. A lot of people have asked me if I chose the color for Obliteride. I did not - it had already been chosen by the time I joined the team. It was a happy coincidence and confirmed that this was the right project for me! 
If you live in Seattle, you may have seen or heard about several buildings and structures that "went orange" during the month of April to show solidarity in the fight against cancer. We also asked individuals to "sport the orange" to show solidarity in the fight by sticking cellophane in their window, writing with an orange pen, wearing orange on Fridays (or every day like me!), or changing their Facebook profile picture to the Obliteride orange logo.
It wasn't hard for me to "go orange" in April... here are just a few of the ways I sported the orange!
I'm also planning to put an Obliteride orange window cling on my car - let me know if you want one!
Here's a fun video our team put together to show all of the buildings that went orange in Seattle in April.
Our fabulous sponsor University Village even planted orange tulips last fall that are now in bloom!
And they provide Obliteride orange umbrellas to keep shoppers dry!
As our April orange promotion comes to an end, I'm hoping you'll help keep the orange momentum going by sporting the orange in honor/memory of those who have fought cancer. One easy thing you can do to show your solidarity to end cancer is to change your Facebook profile picture to the Obliteride logo and encourage your friends to do the same. Simply right click the image below, save to your desktop and upload as your profile pic on Facebook.
Now instead of (or in addition to) thinking of me when you see orange, maybe you will think about joining Obliteride by riding, volunteering or donating to a truly amazing organization that is literally saving lives.

Go orange!!






Thursday, April 11, 2013

Remembering an Angel

"I believe there are angels among us, sent down to us, from somewhere up above. They come to you and me, in our darkest hours, to show us how to live, to teach us how to give, to guide us with the light of love." 
-Alabama song

This was the last time I visited Phil at his office at the Seattle Mercedes dealership, Oct. 2012.

Phil Smart, Sr. was and is an angel among us.

It’s really hard to know where to begin to write about Phil Smart, Sr.  There are so many things I could say about what he meant to me and SO many others in the community. He was a friend, mentor, cheerleader, family man and community leader who I admired/admire so much. A lot has been said and written about Phil since he passed away on February 8 of this year. I attended his memorial service last month at McCaw Hall which was a wonderful tribute to an amazing man.
This morning I was honored to represent the Phil Smart Sr. Guild of Seattle Children’s Hospital (which I helped start in 1995) at a ceremony dedicating Phil Smart, Sr. Way which leads to the newest building on the Seattle Children’s campus, appropriately named “Building Hope.” At the memorial service and the dedication ceremony this morning friends told stories, laughed, cried and remembered Phil. I haven’t stopped thinking about him all day. I could write a book about what I learned from Phil… maybe I will one day. But today I just want to share a few pictures and Phil-isms that are on my mind.

Phil speaking at a fundraiser for "his" guild - he's glowing, just like an angel!
Phil was a volunteer at Seattle Children’s Hospital for 46 years, from 1961 to 2007, spending most Wednesday evenings on the Rehabilitation Unit and serving as Children's Santa Claus for many years-known fondly to patients as 'The Real Santa Claus.' He was also an active member of “his” guild. He attended our meetings (along with 10-20 young women) and provided inspiration about the “Miracle House” and his “teachers” (the patients) of Seattle Children’s Hospital.  


Phil was a man of deep faith. I carry his wisdom and faith with me every day. After September 11, 2001, Phil called me at my office to check in as he did every couple of months. I expressed to him my fears about the recent terrorist attacks and underlying sense of unrest in the world. In a calm and comforting voice, he shared the following Bible verse with me.


I wrote it on a sticky note and kept it in my daily planner for years. A few months ago, I rewrote the verse on a new orange sticky note and put it in my planner after a good friend was diagnosed with cancer. I also shared it with my friend’s wife. It has become our mantra. Thank you Phil. We do believe!

Phil called me just a few hours before he passed away. I didn’t have “time” to call him back before he passed – which I beat myself up a lot for. But I did save his voicemail, along with another one from a few months earlier. He sounded lucid and strong even though just hours later his (BIG) heart stopped beating. Here’s his “very Phil” message:

“Good Afternoon Amy Anderson. This is Santa Claus. It’s Friday afternoon, 3:30. I’m calling from home. I want to talk to you about your behavior. When you have a minute… I hope all is well. Thanks. Bye bye.”

I am so honored that Phil (I mean Santa!) called me that afternoon. I’m just sad I didn’t get to wish him well and say “Bye bye. See you later!”


Phil was truly one of the kindest people I have ever met. He did not judge anyone and he accepted everyone, from every walk of life. Since his passing, many times I have found myself thinking “What Would Phil Do?” Truly, he always seemed to do and say the right thing. This is not to say he was a softy, by any means. He was a military colonel and a very successful businessman after all, but he always conducted himself with the utmost grace and showed respect for everyone he met.

Phil’s beautiful and kind wife, Helen—who he affectionately called “Precious” and “Sweetie”—was a devoted life partner to this amazing man. When Phil talked about Helen, he just glowed. I always secretly wondered if they ever fought or disagreed. I only ever saw love and deep mutual admiration between them.

Celebrating Phil's community service at the YMCA award luncheon with my mom, Nov. 2011.

Another thing that touched me was Phil always asked about Geoff, Sofia and my mom, every time we talked. And he truly cared. That kind of thoughtfulness seems rare these days.  When I would call my mom to give her the Phil update after talking to him or seeing him, she always said “What a guy!” I agree - what a guy he was!

Three last things about Phil, for now:

1.    He was always immaculately dressed in a gorgeous suit and tie! (With his Rotary pin on his lapel!)

2.    He was always on time – or early.
3.  He was very patriotic and was proud of his country. The red and blue color palette is in his honor.  

These are just a few of the many things I learned from Phil. He helped me to be a better person, and for that I am grateful. I know his time was in God’s hands, but I miss him a lot.

See you later my friend! I love you!

“I am the place where God shines through, he and I are one, not two. I will not fear, nor fret, nor plan, my place is where and as I am. And if I be relaxed and free, he will carry out his plan for me.”

(This appeared on the cover of the program from Phil’s memorial service. It was sent to Phil by his mother when he was serving in North Africa during WWII.)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Gardens with a View

I have wanted to visit Tacoma's Lakewold Gardens in the spring for a couple of years but I have never made it down there, until today. I had the perfect excuse. My friend and client, Ruthann of Drees, and her supremely talented husband, David, of David Goularte Bettencourt Goularte Interior Design, furnished and styled the master bedroom at the Designer Showhouse at Lakewold Gardens. Each room of the historic Wagner House was decorated by a different designer. My favorite, of course, was Ruthann and David's room! It is a large corner room decorated in soft hues that immediately put me at ease and made me want to stay for awhile!

I was disappointed that Lakewold Gardens does not allow pictures to be taken inside the showhouse. So after I strolled through the large home a couple of times to make sure I didn't miss any details, I wandered out into the garden, where cameras are allowed and encouraged! So instead of sharing beautiful furnishings and interior touches with you, I'd like to share some treats and views I found in the garden. 

Isn't this a fabulous picnic table?

There weren't as many flowers in bloom as I expected but I did capture a few blooms.

I love the architecture of the Tea House. It is framed by Mt. Fuji Cherry Trees.

I found this lady extremely charming and welcoming!

This quatrefoil (or clover-shaped) gazing pool is beautiful.

I would love to enjoy afternoon tea with a friend in this spot! Wouldn't you?

I have a thing for garden pagodas - and I spotted a couple at Lakewold.

And the charm of a lion's head on a large garden pot always gets me!

And last but not least, the peekaboo view of tiny Gravelly Lake, considered the "heart of the South Sound's Lake District." How charming! Who knew?!  

Whether you make it to the Designer Showhouse, which runs until April 21st, or not, Lakewold Gardens is definitely worth seeing! And if you or someone you know is planning a wedding, I think Lakewold Gardens would be the perfect spot!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring Break in the Middle East

On this day, April 7, last year, we embarked on a journey to the Middle East for Spring Break. Not a typical Spring Break destination but it proved to be a trip of a lifetime, as I have written about before.

Jordan was nothing like I expected. Actually, I didn't really know what to expect. The way I describe it is it's like the Mexico of the Middle East.... Overall I think Jordan is safer though.

View of the Dead Sea from the bus! The white stuff is salt.

Today I want to share the part of our trip that truly felt like a vacation. We left Jerusalem on a four-hour bus ride along the Dead Sea. Our destination was Eilat, a resort town in southern Israel on the Red Sea. From there we crossed back into Jordan to enjoy two days at a beautiful hotel in the seaside town of Aqaba. After four intense days in Jerusalem, it was just what I needed!

Geoff and his brother fulfilled one of their life goals of diving together in the Red Sea. Grandparents watched the kids and I mostly relaxed at the beautiful beach (Pina Colada in hand) or at the pool. It was perfect! Too bad the Red Sea is so far away - it's a great Spring Break destination!

Instead of ruins and religious sites, in this post I want to share the beauty and color of Aqaba. If you ever get the chance to go there for Spring Break, or otherwise, I highly recommend it.

Thanks to a recommendation from a friend in Seattle who is a travel agent, we stayed at the beautiful Movenpick in Aqaba. It was a sharp contrast to the rest of our accommodations which were very modest, yet appropriate for their settings. Jordan is not a rich country after all. 

It looks a lot like Hawaii - or Mexico - doesn't it?! Camels and mosques serve as reminders that we were indeed in the Middle East!

We even ate at the Royal Yacht Club of Jordan. It looked more like Tahoe (check out the boat) than the Middle East! We think we spotted some royals, or at least some high-ranking military people.   

I love beautiful hotel lobbies and the Movenpick did not disappoint. Overall it was a beautifully designed, colorful hotel.

Even though we loved the traditional Middle Eastern food, it was nice to get a little break from it. Brunch at the Movenpick was delish!

Thanks to Geoff's brother, Bjorn, who is an archeology professor, we found ourselves in the Middle East for Spring Break! He and his wife were great hosts and tour guides! If you ever find yourself in the Middle East, you'll want guides like Bjorn and Erin!