Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year!

2011 was a happy, healthy year -- we couldn't ask for more!

The boys are in Kindergarden and Preschool, reading every superhero book that has ever been published, riding bikes and razors, taking karate classes and keeping Steve and I guessing what they will come up with next!

Our highlight this year was a trip to France with Steve's brother, sister and their families (rented a house in Provance and had 8 cousins ranging in ages 2-13 running wild -- oh mon dieu!) When we returned in August we adopted a little hound puppy and named her "Remy" after the town where we stayed.

We're looking forward to 2012 and working with the community since the New Year, as always, will be what we make it... Here's to family, friends and a great future!

Gaby & Steve

Puppy Love

Last August we adopted the sweetest little puppy from Helen Woodward Animal Center. She's a Treeing Walker Coonhound and has added so much love and laughter to our lives (and a tear or two as she chews her way through everything but the kitchen sink!)

There were many other dogs, cats and other animals in need of a forever home, so please join us at the Feb 12th 5k Run Walk. Details below or at

THE TIP: You can bring your pups along for one of the best walks they will ever get! In fact, one of the best ways to get on an exercise routine is to adopt a dog that you will walk daily (just be sure you are ready for the full responsibility of bringing a pet into your home and life).

Freestyle Inspiration

Isn't life great when you're riding high?.... except when you're not.....

My inspiration to blog again came from an unlikely source this weekend. We had just completed a home project to add a garden which left us with tons of dirt that needed to be removed. Our contractor said he could haul it away later in the week but I wanted it gone sooner. So I posted "Free Fill Dirt" on Craigslist but only got calls from people that wanted the dirt delivered.

Then I got a text from someone saying they needed the dirt for a FMX (Free-style Motorcross) event. We texted back and forth, I assumed it was a guy and said I was willing to pay to have the dirt removed. Then I got a call, and it was a girl saying she was on her way. My contractor laughed when I told him who was coming to haul away the dirt ... little did he (or I) know what we were in for!

Turns out Kayla Kahn and her partner Samantha showed up with a borrowed truck and small utility trailer and hand-shoveled mountains of dirt, making back and forth trips to Pacific Beach where they needed to get their ramp set up for an event the next weekend.
They were an amazing inspiration of getting things done when you are determined to succeed. How often do we see this anymore??

Kayla described how she is fighting for sports equality so that girls can be comfortable participating -- and kicking butt -- in any sport. I had just read the entry below on a friend's Facebook page about her 7-yr old daughter and told Kayla there are so many girls out there that will benefit from her work.

Click here to read a recent news article on Kayla and Samantha's journey, when they ended up living in their car in Oregon after suddenly losing their sponsor and how they fought their way back to San Diego.

Come check them out Saturday, Jan 14th from 12-8pm (highlight at 2 pm) at Global RV Solutions in Pacific Beach: 2736 Garnet Ave - San Diego, CA 92109.

Admission is FREE, there will be food, music and Kayla on her motorbike!
Event details here)

Please help spread the word, and help make this a success. The girls are launching their own clothing line at the event and working to be self-sufficient toward their goals :)

At one point Kayla said, "I couldn't believe it when you offered $300 to take the dirt -- that is exactly the amount we were short to pay for the kicker ramp." I don't know what exactly a kicker ramp is, but I do know when life just aligns sometimes to show you undeniable inspiration.

THE TIP: If you need something done just roll up your sleeves and make it happen yourself. Also, don't put off anything for tomorrow that you can get done today -- right now!

Improving Neighborhoods

2012 will no doubt be a political year, already we are drowning in daily news coverage preparing for the November presidential election. But what about in our own neighborhoods?

I was very happy to hear that my close friend, Mat Kostrinsky, would be running for City Council to represent newly formed District 7, the neighborhood where I grew up: San Carlos in San Diego, CA. I was even more excited when I heard from Mat that one of his key focus areas would be to improve efficiency and service through e-Government (an area that I have focused on for the past ten years as a founding member of GovPartner and where sadly San Diego is woefully behind).

Mat and I met back in 1999, I had just moved back to San Diego from Washington D.C. where I met my husband Steve and had been working for a US Governor. Mat was working for Senator Dianne Feinstein and although I was in touch with many community leaders for work, I became friends with this particular colleague who stood out from the rest. I got to know his lovely wife, Dr. Jen Kostrinsky, and we had our boys at almost the same time so we enjoyed birthday parties and playdates.

When I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2009, Mat was one of the first friends who contacted me wanting to know how he could help. He shared the sad news that his sister Hayley was also fighting the same diagnosis (it turned out we were seeing the same oncologist). It was then that I really got to know Mat's family and it was devastating when Hayley passed away in early 2010. To this day, I can see how Mat is driven to do good things in life knowing we can never waste a single moment.

For this past decade that I have known Mat, his family and close friends, I have seen a man who is caring, honest, intelligent and surrounded by a community that loves him as much as he loves them. I saw how hard he worked on a playground project at the same park where I used to play softball as I child. I saw him working diligently at community events and heard from others about what a stand-up quality guy he was. I greeted him at the finish line for the Susan G. Komen walk and congratulated him on again setting a goal to help others.

And now I want to ask you to get to know Mat and support his efforts to become a San Diego City Councilman. Mat is dedicated to our community, to representing the neighborhood where he grew up and to improving San Diego as a whole, for our children and fellow constituents.

In this season of elections it is rare that you get to support an actual friend, but what better way to place the public trust into hands that you have seen tested and that you know are dedicated and decent.

Please visit his website and help make San Diego the nation's finest city again, one neighborhood at a time!

THE TIP: Elected office should be something leaders are called to do. Look around you and find people that are trustworthy, hard workers, fair and considerate. Encourage them to consider public service and think about where you too can help out for a season or two... a local non-profit board, planning commission, etc.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy, happy days!

Hi everyone, what a fall, winter, spring and summer it has been.... Since being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer last September, the seasons all blended together.

But friends and family reassured me all along the way that this would only be a season in our lives and sure enough it seems the worst is behind us.

I'm done with the chemo, surgery, radiation... The final pathology report showed that the 6mms on the pre-surgery MRI were actually benign, which means the chemo, your prayers, everything worked as well as we could have hoped: "complete resolution" meaning I am now cancer free :)

The photo above is of Steve and I at ComicCon, the boys had such a great time that day! Evan just turned 5 and Alec is the sweetest yet toughest little 3 yr old you ever met. I'm having a great time with family, getting back into the swing of things, still fearful some days that the cancer can come back but enjoying every moment of life nonetheless -- perhaps even more than before.

I'm slowly getting back into work for GovPartner. Pitched a column for an international magazine that the editor liked enough to make a two-part series. So it feels good to be writing again and to know I've still "got it" ;)

I don't know if the Friends With Class site will continue. For now, there are so many thank you cards to write, so many friends to catch up with... and I now find myself providing support for a dear cousin, friends and friends' family that have recently also been diagnosed with cancer. We have to all fight this together, you all made such a huge difference for me to know I wasn't fighting alone.

I'm happy to now be able to show others that you can get through anything, you will be stronger than ever and life falls into place once you realize that no matter what happens you will be fine.

Click here if you want to donate to the Susan G Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure, you can support my friend Melissa's team. She's the first mom from my son's playgroup to reach out and organize meals from the other moms, check in on me, just an amazing woman (and photographer, I should add -- check out

Big hug to everyone, I'm looking forward to start seeing you all at events around town again and excited that some of you are coming in from the east coast for a chance to catch up in person as the summer wraps up!

XOXO, Gaby

PS: I'm planning to attend the Moms In Business Unite Conference in September, and the International City / County Management Assn (ICMA) annual conference in San Jose in October -- let me know if I will see any of you there!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dear friends, today I write with sad but hopeful news...

As many of you already know, I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in late September and have been undergoing intensive chemotherapy. My apologies for unanswered email about classes, the holiday family fair or your vmails to check in on how we're doing...

We're actually doing quite well. There is no history of cancer in my family, so this was an absolute shock that turned our world upside down. But my prognosis is good and already Friday marked the halfway point for the aggressive chemo regimen, which I decided to do through a clinical trial. We are praying that my MRI tomorrow will show a reduction in the tumor before I go on to the second round of chemo -- so pray with us!

How can we thank so many of you that have sent cards, meals, care packages...? It has truly left us humbled at the amount of love and well-wishes. We hope this holiday season brings you much joy and peace, and we are excited for the new year with new adventures and opportunities to create memories!

All our love-
Gaby, Steve, Evan and Alec

This photo was taken on the day I lost my hair. I'm actually getting used to the new hairdo and my 2 and 4 yr old boys swear I'm still a Mommy-princess :)