Coffee with Tonia

P1070115My friend Tonia is a wonderful leader. Last year, I joined an online writing group, where our initial goal was to write 500 words every day in January. When our group started, it was a modest 50 or so people, and Tonia would try to read and comment on everyone else’s posts every day. I marveled at her tenacity because though I tried to do the same, it was difficult to keep up. We enjoyed the challenge so much that many of us just kept writing, creating a small community of friends and colleagues.

She is a natural leader in this internet social-society, and she created smaller groups from the originals (including one filled with, well, the originals.).

Tonia developed focused critique groups from those members, and I’m delighted to be part of them. She is talented and careful when she assesses someone else’s work. She is also passionate about research and she presents her findings in funny and interesting ways. Since research is somewhat of a mystery to me, I am often surprised at what she learns and wish I had the same wonder at the world. Then she posts a stunning photo and I realize that I do wonder, but in a different way. Some day, I want to go on a photo walk with her.

She’s led in the 500 group by welcoming people and commenting where she could. That’s getting harder to do however, because the group has grown to somewhere around 4000 members. I’ve realized for me, my focus should be on the original group knowing that others will form their own. That’s actually a good growth sign. But I am aware that nearly everyone–including me–who has become part of that group has been personally welcomed by Tonia. That’s no small thing.

Aside from that, she is wickedly funny, somewhat self-deprecating at times, and always loving. I’ve learned so much from her.

She pays attention to the people in her circles, always making sure that everyone has had a chance to be involved. She’ll seek them out if she doesn’t see them for awhile.

In other words, she focuses on everyone else while somehow managing to keep balance in her life with swimming, yoga and writing.

It’s her birthday today. You know what? The world is a much better place because she’s in it.

Happy birthday, friend!

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