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Holiday Gifts:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.

-Oren Arnold

December 19, 2013                        

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is hard for most of us to take a breath. We have to be reminded to consider the true message behind all the holidays we commemorate at this time of year:  Chanukah's Festival of Lights and its significance in the rebuilding of the Temple, Kwanzaa celebrating the 7 Principles of African Heritage (Unity, Self Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith), and of course, Christmas when many of us celebrate the birth of the Savior. It is a time of connection with family and friends, a time to remember those who, though they have passed on, are emblazoned in our hearts forever. It is a time to be thankful for the good in our lives and in the world. This month Joan tells one such story of justice, illustrating the wise words of Isabel Currier, "It is the personal thoughtfulness, the warm human awareness, the reaching out of the self to one's fellow man that makes giving worthy of the Christmas spirit."

            May you and yours enjoy the gifts of the season, no matter how you celebrate them.

Joan, Katie and Meb

          I have been called the Energizer Bunny, memorialized in a metaphorical poem written by a group of my friends as Dr. Seuss' Thing 1 and Thing 2, and often badgered for my non-existent sleep habits. While I would counter that I actually do love vegging on the couch and watching old sitcoms on TV, I am more energized by developing a connection with those that I meet. It's true that I might be pushed harder if I worked out with a trainer at the gym, but I would miss the camaraderie, the smiles and groans, and the joint sharing of life events that occurs  in my group exercise classes. I am always game for a walk or a conversation, even if it means my work continues well after midnight or I need to take a business call at 5 am. Some people think I am crazy or don't need much sleep, but making time to deepen my relationships is my passion.

          When we set out to write The Miracle Chase, it was all about empowering others to think about the miracles in their lives. We had no idea of the gifts that would return to us as others brought us into their lives by sharing their own stories. It has always been these personal narratives that draw me in. I am one of those people who rarely forgets the nuanced past experience someone generously shares with me. It is probably not surprising that as part of our miracle journey I wanted to look at a myriad of the world's cultures and religions to find the stories that drive others to believe. It is here at the intersection of the natural and the supernatural shared by all that I found similarities of purpose and the common threads that unite people and gives me hope.

          Because we have moved so often (7x and counting), I never had the luxury of taking for granted the friends I have found along the way. The connection and time I spend with friends, who date far back as my grade school years, empowers me to continue to make the real effort it takes to develop new friendships. I still find that the unexpected gifts that ensue are so rewarding that they more than make up for the late nights or early mornings required to fit in the rest of my life.

          A short time ago, I had the opportunity to go for a walk with a neighbor who has become one of my new California friends. Not only is she lovely and smart, but she too has recognized the importance of taking time to make and develop new friendships. As she was guiding me through the wooded paths in the forest where we live (a first for me as, raised in a city, I had been too timid to enter alone), we chatted about our families and our roots. I told her of my birthday celebration trip to Italy with some of my east coast friends where I connected with my Italian cousins (the bulk of my family never immigrated to America) and she shared with me her travels back to Poland, the land of her grandparents. As we were talking and walking amid the sun-dappled trees ahead of the impending sunset, she shared with me an experience she had on her first visit to Rzeszow a few years before. 

          In this small town in eastern Poland near the Ukraine, there was a lively family dining establishment owned by a local Jewish family. With the invasion by the Nazi's in 1939 all that changed as, whether as prisoners or refugees, the family had to abandon the restaurant. Later multiple bombings destroyed the town's municipal and important community buildings, including the Temple. In the aftermath of the war the Russians came in and all property was seized by the State. Poverty, the kind that the vanquished seem always to experience post war, was rampant and for the next forty years my friend's family, who managed to survive the war, eked out a mere sustenance living. Things changed in Poland in the 80's with the country's gradual escape from Communism and in the late 90's the new Polish government sold off the once prosperous restaurant property to Zygmunt, the cousin of my friend. He paid the government what it had asked, but as he worked to renovate the establishment, he considered the family who had owned it back in the halcyon days before the war. Though Zygmunt went to speak to the Rabbi about finding the family, it was useless as bombs had destroyed any records of ownership and the prior owners were, like so many others, tragic and nameless victims of a war that claimed 90% of Polish Jews. Feeling a link with his kindred restaurateur and as a means of respect and tribute for all they had endured, Zygmunt, a non-Jew, kept the name of the original restaurant and brought a check in equal amount of his purchase from the State to the Rabbi for use in the new synagogue...

          I love hearing stories like this. And even though the couch is looking more and more appealing as I passed a landmark birthday this Thanksgiving, it's like the manna from heaven that fed the Israelites wandering the desert. In my own wandering this earth these stories sustain me - nourishing my soul and fueling my desire to maintain the effort of developing new relationships. To me, this story is the perfect holiday gift - nothing was asked, nothing was expected. It was truly "the reaching out of the self to one's fellow man..."  


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Upcoming Events

Marthas and Marys
Women's Group

Church of St. Ann
Avon, CT
Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
6:30 pm

Listen to Dr. Laura Ciel at MileHi
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HuffPost review with your friends

Thank you to the National Charity
League (NCL) chapters in Orinda, CA
and Las Vegas, as well as the
Santa Clara University Alumni
 and the Council of
Women of Boston College
We love chasing miracles with
you and we look forward to sharing
additional events with you.

Facetime and Skype are
wonderful venues for sharing
conversation and connecting
over miracles. Thank you to the
wonderful women in the New York
and Las Vegas book clubs who
have invited us into their homes
and their lives. It has transformed
and rewarded all of us.
Please let us know if you
would like us to virtually visit
your book group or club!

We have been enjoying scheduling
events surrounding the release of
the paperback version of
The Miracle Chase.
If you have any suggestions for
venues where we can continue
the miracle discussion, please
contact us.

Thank you to the Portland Book Review

and the PrayersWork blog

for featuring The Miracle Chase
with such inspirational reviews.

Thank you to Christ Episcopal Church
in Denver and the public libraries
in East Hampton, NY, Naperville, IL
and Simsbury, CT for liking
The Miracle Chase on
Facebook and recommending it to
readers and book clubs.

Check out Katie's blog on authoring
a book together at

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Joan, Katie and Meb
co-authors of The Miracle Chase
It's About Survival
"Winning the Academy Award in 1943 with WWII still raging must have been surreal for this Jewish refugee." The Miracle Chase