When Problems Seem Insurmountable: #Blogust 2015

I am not sure exactly why my husband and I ended up at the movie Philadelphia in early 1994. As a couple, we have not historically been big on going to movies together. I think it was a night out with a group of friends. Wayne loves Bruce Springsteen (who sang the movie’s theme song) too so maybe that nudged us there.

It was a raw time in our lives, a hauntingly raw time. Wayne’s sister had just died in her sleep at the age of 30, weeks before. I remember sitting by him in the theater wondering what kind of grief reaction the movie’s topic would induce.

Andrew Beckett, the character played by Tom Hanks, was a rising star in a high-profile law firm. As his AIDS diagnosis came to light (as well as his sexual preference), he was released from the firm.

Andrew hired one of the only attorneys who would take his case: Joe Miller, played by Denzel Washington. Joe Miller took on a problem he had no business taking on (from the outer world’s perspective), that of representing Andrew. He didn’t practice the right kind of law. He didn’t drive the right kind of car, live in the right kind of house, or have a diploma from the right kind of school hanging on his wall.

Although I was still in mourning for Wayne’s sister myself, the stronger pull of the film for me was the way it brought back to life all of the conversations I had as a counselor on the Florida AIDS Hotline when it first began (around 1987). Andrew’s struggle to navigate family and society dynamics unearthed the emotions I had felt when someone I loved told me he was gay.

Andrew’s mantra, through all of the doubt pervading his world, was:


Although I have many favorite quotes (some of them listed here), and I love a well turned, elegant phrase, the truth and simplicity of this quote never fails to inspire me to keep trying, to entertain novel solutions to deeply entrenched problems, and to hope for a bright outcome even in times of darkness.

That is how I feel about being a part of Shot at Life. It would be easy to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issues facing children around the world who are dying from vaccine-preventable diseases. It is hard to figure out how to get a vaccine to a child in some remote part of the world – how to physically get the vaccine to that child, how to get his or her mother to trust that the vaccine is something that will benefit their child, how to coordinate multiple moving parts to create a curative whole which will help as many children as possible make it to their fifth birthdays.

But I do believe “every problem has a solution.” I don’t always know what that solution is or how I personally can apply it, but I do know turning my back on this problem is not a solution. That is why I meet with my legislators and their staffs to encourage United States support of global immunization issues; it is why I learn as much as I can, from people who think differently and more creatively than me. It is why I cling tightly to the idea that one person, one idea, one conversation can make a difference.

Won’t you join me in making a difference today?

When Problems Seem Insurmountable: #Blogust 2015

During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2015—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share inspirational quotes for their children. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or take action using the social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, one vaccine will be donated to a child around the world (up to 50,000).

When Problems Seem Insurmountable: #Blogust 2015

55 thoughts on “When Problems Seem Insurmountable: #Blogust 2015

  1. We lost a family member in a similarly shocking manner last year. I still can’t get my head around it, but it has resulted in us embracing carpe diem. (Also shared on Twitter. Good cause.)

    • I am so sorry, Suzanne. Fortunately, through my sister in law’s dogged research after Ann’s death, we learned about the Long QT syndrome which affects many family members and were able to take precautions/measures so they can live healthy lives. It obviously will not get her back, but hopefully her legacy will live on as we participate in awareness efforts. And thank you for sharing this on Twitter. I really appreciate it.

  2. This is such an admirable effort. Thank you for your hard work! My fav quote is: “You are born into this world and you may never know to whose prayers, your life is the answer.” That may just be you!

  3. Wonderful post! I love that you were a counselor on an AIDS hotline in 1987. Between 1985 and 1991 eleven of my best friends never got to see 40. It changed me so dramatically I went from private industry (and never even able to visit people in the hospital) to becoming a social worker in a long term care facility.

    • Thank you, Pia. I can only imagine what life in the City must have been like in that time period. The book I just finished (Bettyville) is written by a gay man who lived in the City at the time and he talked about the fear everywhere. I became a counselor on that hotline because I had to (it was a subcontract for the crisis counseling hotline where I volunteered/worked) but what a pivotal moment to affect my entire world view. Coincidentally, one of my favorite places to stay in NYC, the Colonial House Inn, was the first home of Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Thank you for you comment and for helping #Blogust!

  4. You do so many wonderful things for the community and world-at-large. There’s a reason you won our Lancome GiveAway…. I want to share you and what you do with our 1010ParkPlace readers. Will email you. xoxox, Brenda

  5. Thanks for sharing! Let’s get to 60,000 vaccines (and of course, do even better too!) Everyone deserves the chance at a healthy life.

  6. I do remember watching Philadelphia too, Paula. The haunting image of Andrew slowly deteriorating stays with me. I can honestly say that it changed my own views towards the LGBTQ community.
    I live in India where the Government tries hard to make immunisation a must. It’s an uphill task, but things are somewhat better than they used to be.
    I admire what you are doing. More power to you!

  7. Even though I didn’t see the film Philadelphia, I can relate to your topic. I remember watching a movie (which I think starred Patty Duke) about a baby born with AIDS. Or if not born with, contracted at birth. Nobody would touch her or rock her until this nurse took her and I think adopted her in the end. I was a young mom at the time and couldn’t imagine a baby not having love and attention. Your post brings that same level of emotion to me. Children need good health care, especially immunizations. I’ve heard the negativity about them and don’t see the point. Immunizations save lives and prevent effects of disease. Thank you for this post. I had never heard of this Shot At Life before.

    • Thanks, Jane! It’s definitely a challenge to address some of the misinformation out there about vaccinations. When I had to give an “under fire” Toastmasters speech, it was suggested we speak as if we were an advocate of the side we’re NOT on. I was a pregnant anti vaxxer talking to a room full of pediatricians! It was hard BUT it did increase my awareness that every parent does what they do out of love; the challenge is marrying that love with accurate information. // People’s views about international vaccinations tend to be a little more consistent – even American parents who are anti vax for their own kids are (to some extent) supportive of things like polio vaccines for kids in other countries.

  8. I will absolutely join you! I’ve never had the chance to post for Blogust, but I always make sure to offer my support in commenting on every post I can!!

  9. Pingback: Blogust 2015 Results in 60,000 Vaccine Donations! – The Motherhood

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