I Wish You All A Friend Like Mine

DSC_0669 (1)This blog is about sharing my heart, my brain, and good stuff that makes my life awesome. Today’s spotlight shines on my friend, Sandie. Maybe you know her. If you do, you’re blessed. If you don’t, let me share with you why she rocks.

Someone once told me that a friend walks into your life when the whole world has walked out on you. Twice in my life, only twice, I’ve felt so desperate and alone that I reached out…not to ask for money or help, but just to say, “Hey, this is what’s happening.” Both times, Sandie was on the other end of those calls. That should tell you what she means to me.

Then there’s the fact that she’s blindingly brilliant. Years ago, she seized an opportunity to help build a company into an empire. Today that action has led her to a place of privilege and opportunity. “Money gives you options,” she taught me decades ago. Sandie has opted to make the most of her money, not simply by investing or spending, but by investing in things that matter to her and spending for the benefit of others. What do I mean by that? Let’s see…

She’s a conservationist.  This past week, and every 4th of July week for a dozen years, she’s hosted a “little” party in the wilds of Oregon for 200 of her friends and family, including my crew. Her intention is to save and preserve pristine wilderness for generations to come. In doing so, Sandie has built one of America’s most impressive working cattle ranches. My kids and I cannot possibly count all the memories we’ve made at Sandie’s Bar B Ranch. Christian calls it “a little slice of heaven.”

She’s a believer. “All it takes is one person to believe in you,” she says. For Sandie, that person was her father, Charles. His belief instilled a sense of confidence in her that might just be her driving trademark. Sandie is probably the most confident person I know. She’s mixed a blend of humility with absolute assurance that her goals are reachable. For her, there is no glass ceiling. The sky has no ceiling.

She’s a shadow sun. You gotta watch the woman work a room. She doesn’t have to make a grand entrance (tho, trust me, she can…like the time she descended the staircase in full Fairy Godmother regalia, magic wand included.) Typically, she tends to amble in through the back door and move from person to person, making sure you’re comfortable and happy. For her, it’s about you, her guest. Her great joy is watching her grandchildren grow and excel…by that I mean being kind, having fun, forging friendships. The same attributes her children have mastered.

She’s a friendship forger. This is where Sandie truly excels. First, she goes into the world and makes a friend. Your age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, economic stand, or religious beliefs don’t matter. The more diverse, the broader is her circle of inclusion. Then she throws a party. It might be an intimate gathering around her dining room table, or at the top of the world in her New York penthouse, or out in the boonies where bear and buffalo really do roam. This allows you to get to know Sandie’s friends. In no time, everybody’s friends. I can’t explain it. It’s magic. Real magic. I love SO many of the people she loves. And we all love her for bringing us together.

She lives by a motto. Years ago, I helped her hang a little shingle at her ranch house. It reads: Be kind or leave. Nuf said.

She’s a forgiver. Once we walked out of a restaurant to find that someone had keyed her car. “Rich people suck,” they’d etched into her paint. She felt bad, but shrugged, “They don’t understand,” she said and that was that. Oh, and there was the time I drove her car down an icy hill and crashed it right into my car. “That’s why we have insurance,” she said and that was that.

She’s an adventurer.  I’m a bucket-lister just because I want to get as much out of life’s opportunities as I can. I want to travel and experience all I can. Sandie smashes my lil’ bucket to smithereens! There aren’t many corners of the world she has not visited. Once she called to tell me that she had been seated at a dinner with a very nice woman. They got to talking and the subject of mothers-in-law came up. It took a moment for Sandie to realize that the woman’s mother-in-law was the Queen of England. It doesn’t matter where she is or who is with her, Sandie experiences the culture. She meets the people. She leaves an impression and takes away a memory. You don’t have to travel the world to do that, she’s pointed out, you can make those same experiences wherever you are.

She’s generous. You’d think that I’m after a loan, the way I’m touting my friend’s attributes. Not true. I just want to spotlight Sandie because I’m certainly not the only friend who loves and appreciates her. She deserves to be recognized, not only for the professional work she does, but for the small and thoughtful things that are a part of her every day. She likes the photos I take of her loved ones, so she bought me a camera bag twenty years ago. I still use it. She knows I admire Buddha, so she lugged a statue of Buddha all over until she could get it home to me. If she enjoys a book, she shares that story with me. How many copies of The Glass Castle has Sandie given away? It’s her thoughtfulness that means so very much.

She’s a silent teacher. Her cool factor is off the charts. Her wisdom seems somehow ancient, sorta like a sage. Sandie is my son, Eli’s, godmother, but she’s been there for all my kids. We learn from observing her. I learn how to be patient. How to bite my tongue. How to withhold judgement and give people the benefit of the doubt. How to walk away when it’s time to leave, and how to show up when it’s time to shine.

Sandie shines every day.

This little blog doesn’t begin to do the woman justice. You’ll have to research her yourself to see the impact she makes around the world. To connect with endless people whose lives have been bettered because of her. A few years ago, for her birthday, I made a film of friends talking about her, family reminiscing, including her father. Sandie rolled her eyes because she doesn’t want to be spotlighted. She likes to hold the spotlight and shine it on others.

Maybe that’s why she means so much to me and to mine. That, and her killer laugh. You don’t really know Sandie until you’ve laughed with her. Her laugh makes me happier than any joke. Her laugh makes me believe that no matter how dark my day, the sun is going to shine again.






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