1 Degree of Separation

Claudia invited me to join her at a homeless shelter on Saturday morning. “My friend Marguerite is coming,” she told me on the phone. So we met at Marguerite’s house and they got in my car.

As we drove downtown, Marguerite mentioned, “My good friend Karen B.”

“Is that the same Karen B. who’s about 30 and cute and does yoga?” I asked.

“How do you know her?” Marguerite replied. “She’s like an adopted daughter to me.”

The volunteer event was part of Mitch Albom’s A Time to Heal organization. I wrote about Mitch after his new book came out, for ReadTheSpirit.com, which is run by my friend, David Crumm.

I met David years ago, after he wrote a stunning article comparing Starbucks to a church. He suggested we have coffee at Avalon Breads. I fell in love with Avalon and met Jackie and Ann, the proprietors. That story got me into Saveur.

I knew Karen B. because she’s done graphic design for me for my client and favorite yoga studio, Yoga Shelter. I went to Yoga Shelter because my childhood next-door neighbor, Laura C., dragged me there several years ago. I hated yoga prior; but in Justin’s class that first day, the music rockin’ loud and the sweat pouring down my skin, I had a revelation.

Exploring what the Shelter was all about, I drove to the home of founder Eric Paskel. He lived in the home where my aunt and uncle lived for a decade before they moved to Milwaukee for just a year. Across the street lives a friend I’ve known since middle school.

Yoga teacher Justin is friends with a son of Hiller’s CEO Jim Hiller. He helped me get in touch with Jim when I wanted to set out on a new career path. Jim took me under his wing and became a client, mentor friend.

When he was an attorney, Jim represented my late great-grandfather’s company. I’m named after Grandpa Louie. He had lunch at 11 a.m. every day at Roma Cafe. That’s where we celebrated my grandmother’s 86th birthday.

On the side of the highway, as we drove through winter ice and snow in the dark of night to get to that dinner, a homeless man sat bereft with a sign asking for help. My son Asher, 5 years old at the time, begged me to stop the car, get out and help.

“I can’t just now,” I said, “though I love that you want to help him. My first job is to protect you.”

And today, my young son, age 7 1/2, is a veritable activist – unplugging electronics, turning off lights, asking me to designate one day per week when do not use our car.

One degree of separation. I could go on for hours. We’re all connected.


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