Sometimes in life, you meet the coolest people and make the craziest connections and it’s as though they were just meant to be a part of your story from that day forward.
(I will acknowledge that this happens a lot in the two places I tend to spend the bulk of my time: New York City, as you might expect, given the sheer number of lonelys and loonys; and Moshi, Tanzania, a town about the size of my graduating college class.

So, while I might be slightly better poised than most for meet-cutes, platonic and otherwise, I really do think it’s true that if you open your heart – and your mouth – and get to know new people, you find out, a lot of them are just like you and pretty damn interesting to boot!) 

That said, this past summer while still in Moshi, my friend Deus (a Tanzanian national living in California with his American wife, also a good friend of mine) returned to Tanzania with a group of folks intent on “climbing Kili for a cause.”  This cause was Parkinson’s disease as Deus’s mother-in-law suffers from the illness and the people he brought over have all been touched in some way or form by the disease.  For a refresher on how their trek and trip went down, check out this blog entry:
Now, back in NYC, while finishing up my fundraising marathon and miles away from Kilimanjaro, I was recently reunited with a bunch of these Team Foxers for dinner in early December and then again last week when my mom and I trained out to Larchmont, NY with former Toa intern Kaitlin to do a little “shopping for a cause.” 
Meet Dawn and her husband, Chuck.
They are pretty awesome. 
After taking them to Msaranga and spending time with them in Moshi town in August, it was my pleasure to reunite and catch up.  Well, not just catch up but get to know each other even better.
Turns out when Dawn isn’t climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, she is curating her gorgeous shop, Peridot Fine Jewelry (named after the bright green semi-precious stone), just outside NY city.  After visiting one of the Toa school sites on her recent trip to TZ, she was inspired to share what she learned with her client community.  So, in lieu of sending the usual teas or chocolates for her top clients as a holiday gift, she chose to make a contribution in their name to Toa, and designed a holiday card around the donation.
The card, below, went out around the holidays and I just love the way Dawn “winterized” our Toa colors for the holiday theme.  I also love the word-of-mouth publicity that she has engendered for Toa and hope I can do the same for Peridot!
Of course, while we were there, we also had to check out the goods, so Carla, Kaitlin, and I shopped for several hours before finally settling on our purchases and going for lunch.  The great thing about Peridot is that while of course there are some amaaaazing pieces (with likewise amaaaazing pricetags), there is also some really cool funky stuff like the “ear hugger” earrings that Carla gifted me with and the raw quartz pendant that she bought for herself.  Kaitlin, unusually frugal, didn’t buy anything, but she did put her mom’s name on the mailing list.  😉  I guarantee Sally will be coming by for some retail therapy shortly…. 
Check out Dawn’s catalog and my new earrings (the bottom set), and for more information, visit the Peridot website here:

Also, be sure to see the “Brave” collection which all the Team Foxers now wear.  The silver lettering on these cord bracelets spell “brave” in Khmer, and I’m pretty sure wearing one guarantees a successful Kili climb! 
And, do check out the Michael J. Fox Foundation dedicated to furthering Parkinson’s research at Deus Haraja’s tour company, Beyond Adventures, which is organizing further treks for Parkinson’s but can also create safari, beach, or mountain packages tailored to your individual needs,
Remember, BE OPEN-MINDED!  Climb mountains!  Shop for jewelry!  You never know when you’ll meet your next new friend!!