Blogging for a Friend, who is doing something amazing

My pal Jenn is rowing around Lake Michigan. Solo. 1500 miles.
30 Miles per day.
In an effort to get the word out about her organization Row4Row, she is making this journey to raise awareness for cancer survival via exercise and awareness for the importance of a support system when battling any illness.

I wrote a guest blog for her, as she progressed into her second week of rowing.

Jenn and the Lake: connected with me

The waves crash onto the Lakefront path on an early morning. I giggle. It’s hard not to giggle when the Lake comes out to play on the sidewalk.

Biking into work every morning from my apartment in Edgewater, a “moment of zen” comes every day when I gaze at that Lake. Every Chicagoan loves the Lake. My affection, however, goes beyond love though to a need and a friendship with a body of water.  The Lake is a constant in a world that feels crazy sometimes.

I have lost loved ones to cancer and have gone to that Lake time and time again to feel comfort, solace and connection to a world that is huge and inspiring. Last year, I lost my Grandma Rosie to cancer and the loss hit me hard. Although I was aware the time would come when she would no longer be able to fight, it didn’t stop the fact that in those moments I missed her like hell and couldn’t make sense of her passing.

I didn’t have answers, but I did have the Lake.

Through the Lake, I felt connected to her and when I heard the waves crash, I would hear her voice and feel her spirit. I don’t care if that sounds crazy or sentimental, I believe I can feel those I have lost by visiting that beautiful Lake.

I love when the water gets crazy and crashing. Like a massive bowl of soup carried by a server with a serious case of the shakes.

I met Jenn Gibbons when I was a server over 9 years ago at the breakfast/lunch spot, The Wishbone. I met a lot of people through my work there but when I met Jenn I knew she would be a longtime bud. Even then, her energy was contagious. We connected over our love of outdoors and, at the time, we lived in the same neighborhood so I would hang out with she and her dog Sam from time to time.  We identified with each other because we both were midwestern transplants to Chicago (she from Michigan and I from Wisconsin), we both believed in the power of positive thinking and the power of hard work and kindness. Even now, we reconnect from time to time to have lunch and dream up ideas for a book we would write together to articulate some ideas and thoughts behind this feel-good friendship.

Jenn and I aren’t the type of friends that hang out every week or even every month (we are both victims of ridiculous schedules, I’m afraid) but she is constant in my life. A constant source of inspiration, comfort, compassion and strength. Nine years later, we both have grown up a lot since the days at the Wishbone where we made things fun for each other by reading horoscopes daily and concocting new coffee drinks in our spare time.

I shouldn’t be surprised that Jenn is now daring to do something that others would think impossible. For awareness. For the dare. For the challenge. For the love.

This morning when I biked down that lakeshore path and the waves crashed into shore, I giggled as I always do when the Lake comes out to play but I also thought of Jenn and this trip. Somewhere, out there, way out there, she is rowing as I ride. We are connected though we are apart.

Jenn as a friend: constant. inspiring. comforting.
How fitting that she set off on a journey that would take place on a body of water that fits those same attributes. Lake Michigan and Jenn: friends forever.

We are all connected by a lake and by a cause and a history of friendship and support.

And when those waves crash I will feel comfort and I will feel my Grandmother and I will feel full of gratitude to have such abundance in my life. My dear friend, in a remarkable boat, setting out to make the world a better place.

Please consider making a donation to Jenn's amazing journey and organization here.