Tag Archives: Gratitude

Top 5 reasons NOT to donate to St. Baldrick’s

1. My tiny donation won’t make a difference.

2. They’ll never find a cure for cancer.

3. Those charities don’t give enough of the donations to the cause.

4. I won’t make a difference in the life of any one person.

5. It doesn’t really affect me.

-  –  –  –  –  – –  –  –  –  –  – –  –  –  –  –  – –  –  –  –  –  -

Do any of those sound familiar?

Here are a few facts:

st bald

1. Every dollar matters. I’m pretty sure no one reading this can donate a million dollars. But if everyone who reads this would share it with a few friends, and each one donated $2, we could put thousands of dollars in the hands of researchers in no time flat. (But just in case someone is reading this who can donate a million dollars, that would be really awesome!! In fact, if I can raise a million dollars I’ll shave my head, too!)

2. We can and will find cures. But it takes money.

3. Before getting involved with this event, I checked CharityNavigator.com, and was pleased with what I saw. I even pulled up a few other well-known charities for a comparison. Then I signed up. Click HERE to see their rating.

4. There are parents and children drawing hope every day from these fundraisers. I know, because Robot Boy’s mom is a friend of mine, and I see her getting more excited every day as this event approaches. She knows it’s making a difference.

5. I’ll be posting pics of the event, and I guarantee that seeing what hope and gratitude in action look like its going to make you feel good. And don’t we all like to feel good?

So…

Pay a visit to us over at Team Robot Boy’s Fundraising Page. We’re hoping to break our goal today, and are setting a stretch goal of DOUBLING it before the event Saturday! But we NEED you.

So click. And donate. It’ll feel good. And it’ll make a difference.

LINK TO TEAM ROBOT BOY’S FUNDRAISING PAGE.

And if you’d like to read more about Robot Boy, his Badass mom who’s going to let me shave her head Saturday, and St. Baldrick’s, grab a tissue and click HERE. You’ll be a better person for having done so.

 

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Bald Badass Moms and Little Robot Boys

By now you may have seen one. Those fundraisers where people get their heads shaved to raise money for a good cause. It makes for cute bits on the news, and everyone gets all excited when the participants are rubbing their newly-chromed domes.

This Saturday, I’m going to be a volunteer at one of these events. I’m going to show up, get my free t-shirt, and shave someone’s head! I’m a little excited about it, because it sounds like a fun event and the person whose head I’m going to shave is another blogger who turned into a real-life friend, and I’ll get to meet some other bloggers and maybe even get my picture in the paper.

This is the t-shirt she's going to wear after she gets her dome chromed!

This is the t-shirt she’s going to wear after she gets her dome chromed!

And when it’s over, I’ll head home to my husband and my kids. I’ll watch a little tv and probably have a glass of wine while I talk about my day. And I’ll think about that friend whose head I shaved.

Because she won’t be going home to relax with her family and have a glass of wine. She’s going home to resume her duties as caregiver for Robot Boy.

Her three-year old son—who has cancer.

Robot Boy after his tracheostomy and g-tube surgeries. Source: http://doodlesrobotboy.wordpress.com

Robot Boy after his tracheostomy and g-tube surgeries.                                     Source: http://doodlesrobotboy.wordpress.com

You can read a little bit about him and how he got the nickname Robot Boy here.

And about his mother’s thoughts on his last birthday here.

And if you’re not yet sobbing and need to read more, click this link and read the poem his mother wrote last summer. 

And then go look around. Think about the children in your life. If none of them has cancer, then you need to count yourself among the lucky ones. Then click the link below and make a donation to St. Baldrick’s via Team Robot Boy.

Link to Team Robot Boy’s Donation Page

st bald

Do it so more kids can grow up. Who knows, one of them may be the one who finds the cure. But only if they get to grow up.

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Lessons From Paris: Le Flâneur

For one glorious week, I walked the streets of Paris.

I wandered, I ambled, I strolled.

I took in the sights and sounds.

I smelled, I tasted.

I experienced.

Just the way I always dreamed I would.

When my cousin S extended a very generous invitation – to accompany him on a cultural expedition of the City of Lights, I actually hesitated before saying “Yes.” (You can read all about that here.) But say “Yes” I did, and a couple of weeks ago I actually did it. I got on a plane, left my husband and kids behind, and went to Paris. All in.

Our travel party grew to three when S’s friend D joined us in the Atlanta airport. From there, we flew through the night, each anticipating our arrival from different sections of the plane. Sleep was elusive, and the on-board French wine did little to calm my excitement. I was on my way to Paris!

Upon arrival, our mission became clear. To immerse ourselves as much as possible. Not to ‘see’ Paris through the lens of a camera or the pages of a guide book an iPhone app. Not to ask for the English menu, and find something we might like. Not to seek out the pop-culture images we’d learned from our side of the pond. (Well, maybe a few.) But to BE in Paris. To EXPERIENCE Paris. To LIVE in Paris for one week.

The first day, I found something to marvel at with every step. A peek down an angled street, the pattern in the cobblestones, the wrought-iron balcony rails – all took my breath away. I resisted the urge to take photos of everything, instead wanting to just be part of it.  There was plenty of time.

Over the following days, the lessons came. Lessons about art and history and architecture. But mostly about life. About my life. And maybe yours, too.

And I want to share some of them with you.

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Lessons from Paris. Part One: Le Flâneur

Neither Dictionary.com nor Merriam-Webster.com has a definition for this word. Perhaps it doesn’t translate well into English because it’s not a concept we can really grasp here. WordReference.com does a decent job at attempting to translate it here.

Paul Gavarni, Le Flâneur, 1842.

But the essence of this word can’t be captured in a two-dimensional way. One must do it to understand. One must become a flâneur.

Variations of the verb flâner date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, when it referred to walking about with the intent of wasting time. It was in the 19th century when the word developed the rich meaning and connotation it holds today – that of an intellectual urban explorer, a connoisseur of the street, one whose purpose for strolling outdoors was to take in the culture surrounding him.

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Tourist vs. flâneur.

A tourist is a person engaged in travel for recreation or leisure, often learning about their destination through the filter of a guide or book.

A flâneur wanders a place for the sake of experiencing that place, developing a relationship with his or her surroundings in the process. There is no specific destination. This concept of the flâneur was presented in the 1860s by the French essayist Charles Beaudelaire.

“The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fishes. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world – impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define. The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito. The lover of life makes the whole world his family…”1

Paris taught me to be a flâneur. Not a tourist when I am away from home, not a participant in my own life when I am at home. But a connoisseur of life always.

“Be always drunken.

Nothing else matters:
that is the only question.
If you would not feel
the horrible burden of Time
weighing on your shoulders
and crushing you to the earth,
be drunken continually.

Drunken with what?
With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will.
But be drunken.

And if sometimes,
on the stairs of a palace,
or on the green side of a ditch,
or in the dreary solitude of your own room,
you should awaken
and the drunkenness be half or wholly slipped away from you,
ask of the wind,
or of the wave,
or of the star,
or of the bird,
or of the clock,
of whatever flies,
or sighs,
or rocks,
or sings,
or speaks,
ask what hour it is;
and the wind,
wave,
star,
bird,
clock will answer you:
“It is the hour to be drunken!”

                                   ― Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen, 1869

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1 Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life”, (New York: Da Capo Press, 1964). Orig. published in Le Figaro, in 1863.

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Saying ‘oui’ to Paris. Saying ‘yes’ to myself.

Call Verizon to add international package. Check.

Call the bank to authorize shopping charges. Check.

Check with airline for flight changes. Check.

Confirm hotel reservation. Check.

Holy cow. I’m actually going to do this. The day after tomorrow I’m getting on a plane to Paris. Without my husband and kids.

Please, God, don’t let this be a dream.

I have never done anything this self-indulgent before. I rarely do anything self-indulgent. My idea of a big treat is lunch with a friend squeezed between errands and carpool. So when this email came back in May, I didn’t even know how to respond.

 “If I bought a ticket would you be interested in going to France for a week in mid-October? A translator would be nice.”
 

“What a lovely idea…” was my immediate thought. But I decided not to say ‘no’ right away. To live the fantasy in my head for a day or two before I squashed it.

I pictured myself sitting in a café with a cup of coffee glass of wine and my camera. I practiced a few lines of my long-forgotten French to see if I could even pull off ordering a glass of wine. I mean, it’s been over 30 years since my summer in Quebec, so offering my services as a translator would really be a joke. But it was a lovely thought.

Thank you, Microsoft, for this royalty-free image. Next week I’ll have my own photos to share!

I hung on to it for a few days. And then, in a moment of uncertainty, I mentioned it to my family at the dinner table. It took my husband a moment to speak. He said, “Have you said ‘Yes’ yet?” And without overthinking it, I said, “No, but I think I will.”

And the planning began.

A few months passed, and (even though my plane ticket was proudly displayed on the refrigerator) I refused to allow myself to get excited about it. There are so many wildcards in my life right now, and I feared something would crash down and force me to cancel if I blabbed all over the internet months in advance. So I waited cautiously. Realistically. Hopefully.

And the Universe cooperated, as if to tell me that I was worth all of this. And now, here I am, ready to take off to Paris with my cousin on a Bucket List sort of adventure. To drink in (pun intended) all that Paris has to offer. Art, history, architecture, food, wine, music… all by myself. (Well, by myself meaning without my husband and kids.)

About a month ago I started talking about it. Making it feel real. Shopping for something chic to wear.

For the last week I’ve been mumbling to myself en francais, picking up travel bottles for shampoo, and sporting a grin that just won’t go away.

Today I’m making a list for Mr. Wonderful of carpool schedules and cross-country meets and sending emails to make sure every detail is taken care of.

Tomorrow I’ll pack the suitcase.

And the next day, I’ll get on a plane and fly across an ocean and arrive in a place I’ve been waiting my whole life to be.

And I’ll take pictures and drink wine and visit cathedrals. And I’ll thank my cousin a bazillion times for asking that question back in April.

And I’ll come home a better person for having said ‘yes’ to myself.

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Finding my lost perspective.

Perspective (noun): a way of regarding situations, facts, etc, and judging their relative importance.

Yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment, and I was worried. I don’t usually worry about doctor’s appointments, because there’s usually nothing to worry about. But I just had a gloomy feeling about this one, and I was stressing.

I’ve had a couple of skin cancers, and recently had two spots removed from my back. One of them wasn’t healing right, and had a black spot in the middle. A black spot just like the one on the poster in the exam room, 1 – 2 millimeters from the previous biopsy. So I made an appointment and waited.

(Spoiler alert: I am fine. This is not a reveal.)

As I was getting ready (and looking for a little sympathy), I posted a vague status on my Facebook page about being nervous. As I hoped, friends hopped on it immediately with words of encouragement, and I felt better.

One of the replies was from my friend M. He had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, too. The one where he went to his oncologist to find out what kind of medications he can take for the duration of his incurable, inoperable cancer. So he can function and feel better and make memories with his wife and young son. And he got what he considered good news. He’s going to try another type of chemo, with the hope of slowing down or shrinking the tumor, buying more time. Which he called “a very, VERY good thing.”

I couldn’t help but compare his good news to my bad news. And I felt a little ashamed that I had lost my perspective.

Later in the day my friend L started a dialogue about gratitude. She shared a story about a friend who is bearing a difficult load, and that her “silly, everyday problems” are trivial compared to her friend’s.

Relative importance. Perspective.

Then later in the day I read the blog of a Missouri pastor, who shared a couple of stories about perspective. I’ll share with you a bit of the last one, a story about a man visiting a dying family member.

His brother-in-law requested a wet cloth for his lips. Then he said, “We start off wanting $1,000,000. Over time, that keeps getting pared down until all we want is a little water on our lips.” 

There it is. Perspective. Things are as big a deal as we make them. No bigger.

Source: thecareerblog.wordpress.com

It’s not about what happens to us. It’s about how we choose to respond to what happens to us. And my “problems” (dare I even call them that??) are nothing. Not parenting a child with the learning disabilities, not having a spot cut off of my back, not caring for my MIL.

Because the worst thing that will happen to me today is better than the best thing that will happen to someone else. And I’m not going to forget that any time soon. 

How do you keep things in perspective? Or do you? Or should you?

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Celebrate Love. Happy Donna Day.

I had every intention of doing the usual commercially-driven Valentine’s Day festivities this year. You know, a basket of trinkets and sweets from the dollar store and fancy, store-bought cupcakes that we’ll ooh and aah over for a few minutes and I’ll toss by the end of the week while the kids are in school.

But I this morning I started reading Mary Tyler Mom’s post about raising money for pediatric cancer, and my plans quickly changed.

I remembered the flood of emotion I felt when I read Donna’s Cancer Story and my heart ached for her mother. I hope I never understand her pain. I hope you don’t either.

Photo of Donna used with permission.

I thought of Donna, of all the Donnas, who aren’t here to open Valentines and squeal over balloons. And I just couldn’t bring myself to get in the car.

I walked over to my pantry instead and pulled out a cake mix that was already there. I baked heart-shaped cakes for my family, with one extra. That one’s for Donna. For all the Donnas who aren’t here to celebrate with us. It won’t be eaten tonight. It will sit on the table as we have our dessert, and we’ll talk as a family about children with cancer. I’ll tell my boys that instead of spending money on trinkets for them, that we made a donation to Donna’s Good Things. I know they’ll approve.

The riches I have in my children are too numerous to count. Their love, their laughter, but mostly their PHYSICAL presence. Here with me.

For this I am grateful.

I’m counting on Mary Tyler Mom to remind me every year to celebrate real love with Donna Day.

Now it’s your turn. Make a difference today.

  • Go to Donna’s Good Things and make a donation. (I did!) Follow them on Facebook so you can keep up with their great work!
  • Find a St. Baldrick’s event near you. (St. Baldrick’s is a volunteer-driven charity that raises money for childhood cancer causes.) Volunteer, donate, blog it, Tweet it, Facebook it.

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Leave a Trail

Our short time here will someday be measured by the legacy of what we leave behind.

This post was prompted by this week’s Write On Edge inspiration:  To come up with a title and tagline that captures your life, or a moment from your life.  Short and simple.

But that’s not how I roll.  So look for the continuation of this thought… coming soon!

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A Mind of His Own

My Gratitude Chalkboard has become fodder for my family.  Some of it I find amusing, some not.  But a few days ago Slick wrote something on it that brought back one of my favorite memories of The Caboose.

(Cue nostalgic, pre-school music.)

When he was 3 years old, he went to a Mother’s Day Out program a couple of days a week.  There was a bulletin board in the hall (where the mommies lined up to reclaim their kids) always decorated with seasonal activities.  When a new project went up, all the mommies would oooh and aaah over their little one’s contribution with pride.

That fall, the Thanksgiving bulletin board went up, and each child dictated to the teacher  (they were too young to write) what they were thankful for, and teacher wrote it down on the little pumpkin cutout beneath their name.  The title of the board was “I am Thankful For…” (wait, now my chalkboard feels much less original).

The wall was full of pumpkins bearing sweet messages of thanks, obviously prompted by the teacher.  Most of the children claimed to be thankful for their families – their parents, their brothers and sisters, a few included their pets.  Some were thankful for their health (yeah, right), and a few for God.  I scan the wall for my son’s pumpkin, so I can beam.

I find it, and it says, “I am Thankful for scissors.”

Huh?

At the time, he wanted to be a barber when he grew up.  (Kid loved getting haircuts.)  And he liked using scissors.  (Probably because he had my undivided attention when using them.)  So it made a little sense.

Then I thought about how this process must have gone.  Teacher asks three-year-old what they were thankful for.  Child looks back at teacher with a blank stare.  Teacher says (nodding), “You’re thankful for your family, aren’t you??”  Child nods back.  Teacher moves on to next child.

Then I thought about my son.  He was probably the only kid in that class who gave his own answer to that question.   Even at three, my little dude saw things from his own, unique perspective.  And no grown up was going to lead him elsewhere.

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