Wordless Wednesday (Prayers for Dustin Rhodes Edition)

My friend and fellow runner, Dustin Rhodes, is having surgery for brain cancer tomorrow (1/2/13).

One prayer that is especially meaningful to him is the prayer to Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. I have incorporated that prayer, as well as the names of Dustin, Rebecca (his wife), and Michael (their infant son) into the Tagxedo below:

Dustin Tagxedo

Whatever your faith tradition, any prayers and good intentions are appreciated.

For more information about Dustin, please visit this link.

 crafty spices

#GivingTuesday Is Going To Be Thirteen Days Long!

#GivingTuesday, “the giving season’s opening day,” is this Tuesday, November 27! True to its overachiever ways, Charity Miles issued a challenge yesterday: double contributions for anyone who would walk, run, or bike at least a mile for each of its 13 causes.

I tried a strategy to cover each of the Charity Miles causes back in October but then the blue-haired gorilla thing happened and I got obsessed enthusiastic about a challenge that was specific to Autism Speaks.

But I have been given another chance with this challenge, and I am going to meet it!

Twenty minutes a day for the next eleven days to walk/run my miles on top of all of my other obligations seems like a lot, but as we dig out of the two year unemployment situation, I have more time than money so it’s a way for me to honor Giving Tuesday, to keep the Giving Tuesday excitement alive, and to (hopefully) generate additional awareness of and enthusiasm for the Charity Miles causes.

I mean, honestly, 20 minutes is a minor sacrifice for me but:

Anyone who has gone through chemotherapy can attest that 20 minutes of post-chemotherapy misery feels a lot longer. A reason to Stand Up To Cancer.

Families all across America face difficulty feeding their children. Families affected by Hurricane Sandy will experience this challenge long after the news cameras have left. I heard that families right here in North Florida affected by the declining oyster industry were encouraged to tell their children to drink a glass of water at night so they will be less hungry since they didn’t have enough to eat. A reason to support Feeding America.

The time it takes me to walk a mile will be a portion of the time it takes laboring women in some countries to walk to a place where they can give birth in relative safety. A reason to support Every Mother Counts.

For every Parkinson’s Disease patient or family member who asks “I’ve Got What?” my twenty minutes may help a researcher get a little bit closer to an answer. A reason to support The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

I don’t know if it took Abu Mohamed exactly 20 minutes to take advantage of a lull in fighting in Syria to escape with his family to safety, but I do know they are now dependent on the United Nations World Food Programme for nutrition. A reason to support the World Food Programme.

My easy mile around my hometown block is nothing compared to 20 minutes of agonizing physical therapy endured by a soldier working his or her way through rehabilitation. A reason to support the Wounded Warrior Project.

My twenty minutes is nothing compared to a family searching fruitlessly for their pet who was displaced by Hurricane Sandy. The ASPCA is helping these pets; a reason to support the ASPCA.

A twenty minute conversation between a Nature Conservancy worker and an indigenous person can help solidify earth-healthy practices that can help generations to come. A reason to support the Nature Conservancy.

In twenty minutes, progress can be made toward helping a family have an affordable home of their own. A reason to support Habitat for Humanity.

In twenty minutes, one child who has never held a pencil — a pencil — could be handed the simplest of learning tools and start on a road to learning and empowerment. A reason to support Pencils of Promise.

In twenty minutes, I can safely walk in the dark or the light through my neighborhood. For Eline Oidvin, it may take twenty minutes or longer to line up a sighted guide to help her prepare for her marathon training (she is visually impaired). A reason to support Achilles International.

In twenty minutes, a health worker can visit a family in an area that would otherwise go unserved. A reason to support The Global Fund.

I’m going to walk or run for all of them (already did for Feeding America and the ASPCA) but would love your help in picking what to do next! Tell me which I should do first via this survey:

Click here to take survey

And PS – there’s a reason I didn’t put Autism Speaks in the survey. In full candor, of all the causes, it is my favorite. Hence it is getting my mile on my birthday (Wednesday, November 28). Read why it is so close to my heart here, here, here, and here.



Muddy’s Flame, 24 Beads, and Hope

This weekend took off like a bullet train, with an overnight at the Leon County Fairgrounds Friday night for Relay for Life.  The express tour continued through the Red Hills Kids Triathlon and the 4th Annual Holocaust Essay/Art Awards Ceremony.  The train is slowing down and pulling into the station now.  Each of the three “stops” I have mentioned contained at least one blogworthy moment.  Tonight, however, belongs to Relay for Life. 

I have been Relaying for a while now (since 2003).  For the past three years, I have been captain of the Gulf Winds Track Club team.  For this year’s Relay, one of the teams (The Tallahassee Chrome Divas) was selling “Relay beads.”  I started off with a string and one bead; by the time the Chrome Divas packed up, I was at bead #24:

I liked having the mechanism of the beads to track my progress at Relay.  I also enjoyed interacting with the Chrome Divas each time I passed their campsite and got another bead (after every three purple beads, I got a “chrome” (otherwise known as silver) bead to signify that I had reached about another mile). 
With each of the 24 laps, I tried to focus on thinking of someone specific who is dealing with cancer as a survivor, or someone who has been lost to the disease.  To honor them, and extend the reflective feeling of Relay just a little longer, here they are: 
Letha Rucker – my mom, a breast cancer survivor.
Dianne Dolan – my friend, a breast cancer survivor.
Rose Naff – my former boss and my friend, a cancer survivor who taught me (by letting me watch a radiation treatment) just how dehumanizing it can be to be written on with a sharpie (the tattoo to tell the radiographer where to aim).
Kaitlin Nash – my brother in law and sister in law’s friend’s child, who lost her fight with cancer just after her 1st birthday.

Chuck Kiger – my brother in law who survived cancer but passed away from other causes shortly after getting a clean bill of health.
Pam Stokes – a coworker and cancer survivor.
Terry Massa, a friend and cancer survivor.
Kenney Shipley, a role model.

Fran McLean, a GWTC Relay for Life team member and survivor.
Linda McNeal, a GWTC Relay for Life team member and survivor.
Bill Milford, a friend who I did not know was a survivor until I saw him in his survivor shirt Friday night.
Seab Rucker, my grandfather who died of stomach cancer.
Layla Grace Marsh, a young girl of 3 or 4 who died of cancer.  I only “knew” her through Twitter and the web, but her family’s openness made me feel like a member of the family.
Lucy Dinnes, a parishioner with me at Park Avenue United Methodist Church in New York City who passed away from cancer.
Tom Meehan, my coworker’s husband who is a cancer survivor.
DeeDee Rasmussen, my friend who is a cancer survivor. 
Robin Dunn Bryant, who I did not know was a cancer survivor until she and her family became contestants on the “We Live Fit” challenge and their lives became “an open book.”
Robin Roberts, host of Good Morning America and cancer survivor. 
Lattice Marie Davis, my aunt who died of breast cancer.
Lew Killian, fellow parishioner at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church and cancer survivor.
Don Carraway, fellow parishioner at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church and cancer survivor. 
Janice Zaehring, Wayne’s kindergarten teacher who was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of his kindergarten year and did radiation treatments at a super early time every morning so she wouldn’t have to miss any time with her class.
Jackie Palmieri, my friend and cancer survivor.
Andrea Hartley, who passed away from cancer.  We were only acquaintances, but I was touched (blown away actually) by her fight at such a young age, and by a photo tribute I saw of her and her daughter, Emma, with Jack Johnson’s “Upside Down” playing within it. 

That song, Upside Down, has a line in it that states, Please don’t go away.

Our team member Fran’s dog, Muddy, was always “first in line” to be washed at the annual Gulf Winds Track Club car/dog wash for Relay for Life.  Muddy lost his life to cancer between last year’s relay and this year’s.  Fran had a luminaria for him (one of the bags filled with sand and a candle, used to light the path during Relay). 

It’s funny.  Fran left Relay on Friday night, and said she would be back the next morning.  She asked me if a group goes around and destroys all of the luminaria bags, because she wanted to get Muddy’s instead of having it tromped on and thrown away.
When she arrived Saturday morning, all of the luminarias around Muddy’s had extinguished themselves, with the exception of Muddy’s!

Fran shared with me in an email today what it meant to have that candle still burning.  She stated that perhaps that’s why she felt drawn to return to the camp site (at its hottest, dirtiest hour!).
Upside Down includes this line:  I don’t want this feeling to go away.
What I don’t want to go away, and am freshly reminded to hold tightly to, after a weekend at Relay, is hope:
I will hope to “run” into you next week, readers!