Speaking of Toastmasters

toastmastersI do not need one more thing to do. If anything, I need to find ways to streamline my life and focus on direction (my “word” of 2013). Why, then, did I join a Toastmasters club a few months ago?

To Improve My Speaking

I am sure this is the number one reason people join Toastmasters. For me, I keep hearing very intelligent people cover extremely important material in the most dull and non-engaging ways.  I am sure most of you, like me, have to sit through many meetings and presentations. My current three pet peeves are “Ums” and other verbal crutches, repetitively beginning sentences with “so,” and uptalk.*** As an attendee, I crave the opportunity to listen to good speakers. As a potential speaker, I don’t want to be the one instigating my listeners to make tick marks for every “ah,” “um,” or “so” instead of absorbing what I have to say.

To Improve My Spanish

Something about Bob Hentzen’s death in October ignited the fire under me to improve my Spanish. Thinking back on his ability to communicate with the families in Guatemala so easily, and my not-so-fluent Spanish which stood in the way of some great conversations I could have had, pushed me to figure something out. Just like I didn’t really have time to take on Toastmasters, I didn’t really have time to take on an additional class, in person or online. By joining a bilingual Toastmasters club (Podemos Hablar), I am at least folding two time commitments into one.

To Force Myself To Create Material

This may be the most challenging part. I am happy to present something someone has written and wants me to discuss, but I don’t feel nearly as confident when the task is creating my own material. Creating my own material and then talking from a mixture of talking points as well as extemporaneous is yet another layer of challenge. Having to do speeches regularly (as well as the weekly “table topics” where we talk for two minutes on a prompt given to us right then) is going to help me get over that insecurity.

So far I have participated in table topics each week, contributed the word of the day once, and given my first speech (all in Spanish!). I have a long ways to go but am excited to be making some purposeful steps toward improving my speaking as well as my Spanish.

The most recent speaking I had to do was a preview of my proposed TEDxFSU talk, since my proposal made it to the round where they ask us for recorded previews (yay!!!!). Here it is (in English!).

Have you ever known you had to join or commit to something, even though you were already committed to the hilt? Tell me about it in the comments!

***Big huge ginormous caveat here!!!! This is just my opinion. I have a tremendous amount of respect for many speakers I am thinking of here, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t do some of these same things, intentionally or not.


The Best Kind Of Sight

barb for profile pic

I need to do a lot more processing before I write a proper tribute post to my mother in law, Barb, who passed away early Saturday morning.

A quick thought for the night, though.

I was listening to an interview with Alexander Payne, director of Nebraska, for which Bruce Dern won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival this year. He was talking about how much he liked to watch the film with the sound turned off, that the actors did much of the work of the roles through components of their acting that had nothing to do with what they said. I can’t find the exact quote right now, but it was something like, “You can hear so much without actually hearing a single word.”

Somehow that sentiment could be modified to praise Barb’s approach to the world. She may have been physically blind since 1985, but she “saw” so much in each one of us who was privileged to share time with her.

Dining in the Dark 2009

Dining in the Dark 2009

Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see. ~ William Newton Clarke

For Barb’s obituary, including information about the visitation (11/18) and funeral (11/19), please click here.

The Heart of Leadership (A Book Giveaway)

cropped HOL

Three weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about Mark Miller’s new book, The Heart of Leadership (you can read the post here). I hope this isn’t a spoiler, but the book follows a young man named Blake through his own process of figuring out what makes a leader. He discovers five traits that represent the “HEART” of leadership:

H   –   Hunger for Wisdom

E   –   Expect the Best

A   –   Accept Responsibility

R   –   Respond with Courage

T   –   Think Others First

I have encountered three things that especially highlight the heart of leadership over the weeks since I wrote the original post.

For “A” (Accept Responsibility), there is a phrase I heard in the heat of a tense conference call that demonstrated why quiet and measured can be as effective a leadership technique as loud and aggressive. The context doesn’t matter so much — just picture clients unhappy with vendors and very worried about goals that had not been met and the very real possibility of children being adversely affected. When one party wanted “pants on fire panic,” the other party responded, “If we panic, we probably won’t solve it as efficiently.” For 19 years, I have been the client and not the vendor, which is almost certainly “easier.” I respect a vendor who had the discipline to not sound defensive, but to sound responsible.

For “R” (Respond With Courage), I read a concession message by Noam Branson, a candidate for political office, that really vibrated with courage and selflessness. The closing paragraph states, “And if I can leave you with just one request, it is not let the disappointment of a single evening discourage you from remaining engaged. For all the superficiality and theatrics of politics, there is also at its heart a majesty that is worth fighting for. Our values do not rise and fall on one victory or one defeat, they endure and take new form in every season and every debate. And the cause for which every one of us worked will be just as important tomorrow as it is today.” (Read the full statement here.)

For “T” (Think Others First), I would like to share the efforts of a young man here in town named Garrett. He and his mom Robin are working together to make a difference this Thanksgiving with “28 days of Thankfulness.” They are collecting items for Second Harvest of the Big Bend as well as for a local nursing home.  For Second Harvest, any non perishable food would be appreciated but canned fish and meats are especially good for the protein as well as whole grains (white/brown rice, steel cut or rolled oats, and whole grain pastas). For the nursing home, Robin (who is familiar with this population) recommends light blankets, socks, puzzles (can be used), sweatpants,  costume jewelry (like from Country Dollar), and stuffed animals. Please contact me and I will either get items from you or provide you the information regarding how to deliver them directly to Garrett. (Donations have been lagging a bit and we really want him to see that people will step up!) Kudos to Garrett for, as a young person, “thinking others first.”

Garrett  Bag

This Bag Is Ready For Donations!

As you can see, I didn’t list an “H” thing or an “E” thing. Would love to see your contributions in the comments regarding ways you have seen the heart of leadership exemplified.

For every comment I receive, I will enter you to receive a copy of The Heart of Leadership. It’s a great read! I will choose the winner next Sunday (11/17/13) at 10 a.m. EST. 

*I received a complimentary copy of the book The Heart of Leadership for the purpose of this giveaway.

“Enjoy This Time”

After a few cheapo digital clocks pooped out in my bathroom, I settled for this:

clock two

After which I was startled one morning by a consistent, soft, uniformly methodical metronomic sound.

It was an old fashioned clock ticking!! Something about this relatively inconsequential bit of “analog” in my otherwise digital world felt kind of meaningful, in a “some things still happen the old-fashioned way” sense. Having gotten on the theme of “time,” I decided to share a Facebook conversation with you. Part of my way of processing this bullet train of time I seem to be on called parenting teens.

Jill from Baby Rabies (who has three kids under six including a three-month-old) asked:

When you have a small baby, you get a lot of “enjoy this time” comments, especially from parents of older kids. And I know they all mean well. I do. But sometimes I feel like… this sense that I’m at this stage of my life that I’m going to mourn the loss of. It feels like I’m holding tiny hands and walking toward a cliff. And each step I’m like, “enjoy this moment, they told you to enjoy it, it doesn’t get better than this.” And it’s kind of… a sense of dread? Because there’s no coming back. I have a blog post brewing about all this, but just wanted to see if any other parents of littles felt the same way.

And I stumbled through this answer:

You know, I don’t know if I can articulate it (or I probably would have written a blog post about it!).  When my kids were infants, I would stare at them — at that unique curve of their neck into their big infant heads; at everything about them, and think “is this what I’ll look back on and say “you’re gonna miss this?”? // I would get SO irritated when people would say “oh just wait till (s)he’s a teenager // I wouldn’t understand that look people with teenagers/grown children/etc. would give me (a mix of wistful/condescending (sometimes)/you don’t know what you’ve got-ness).  I am a big believer in the fact that there is a certain amount of time you need to spend with your kids …. i.e., it’s not all just about “quality time” – it’s the rides in the car; the plain moments and yes the highly irritating moments. I DO miss it — although I can’t say in those moments I was “savoring” / “enjoying” (except the long long nursing sessions which were so intimate ….)  what I can say is that for me the experience of parenting teenagers ……. leads me to be one of those women who gives the look I talked about above ……. if I don’t take care to stop myself.

How about you? What would you say in response to Jill?


Invisible No Longer (A Book Review)

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Jericho Books. I received a product sample to facilitate my review.”

My morning yesterday started with two “first world” traffic situations within a half hour of leaving the house. There was the motorist who tailgated me even though I was already going 50 in a 45 mile an hour zone. Then there was the motorist who threw up his hands at me because we were in a relatively unmarked lot and I was coming toward him. I was tempted to tweet my frustrations away.


In her book, The Invisible Girls, Sarah Thebarge introduces us to two decidedly UN-First World problems and leaves the reader appalled, empathetic, hopeful, and dumbfounded. This was the first book I have been unable to put down in a long time.

In “The Invisible Girls,” Sarah encounters Hadhi, a Somali refugee with five young daughters, who had been abandoned by her husband after the family had arrived in the United States (they had fled the political instability of Somalia and spent time in a Kenyan refugee camp before an aid organization helped them fly to the United States where, according to Thebarge, “they were allowed to stay as political refugees.”)

The circumstances that brought Sarah to be on a train in Portland, Oregon, where she ended up making eye contact with a young Somali child (Hadhi’s daughter) with a heart for play despite her difficult situation, were not simple. She had battled breast cancer at the age of 27 and after being broken up with by her boyfriend and simply needing a new start, had decided Portland sounded good.

The two points about this book that stuck out to me (and there were many more than two) were:

  • How utterly daunting it must be to be plopped down in the United States after a lifetime in a culture such as the Somali one. Hadhi’s struggles reminded me of Ping Fu’s story about her entry into the United States when she was ordered to leave China.
  • I especially related to and loved Sarah’s observation that the Somali family’s processing of things was very complex (whereas their inability to communicate in English fed the assumption that they were “simple). Sarah writes, “It was easy for me to make the atrocious assumption that because they couldn’t articulate sadness, helplessness, discouragement, or other emotions in English, they must not feel them.”

The only disappointment of this book for me is the inability to know more, to “fix it,” to see the girls and their mother flourish and to know Sarah’s health stabilized. For the girls, it is possible to contribute to their trust fund by utilizing the information in this link: http://sarahthebarge.com/theinvisiblegirls/. (But seriously — I have to admit I want (perhaps selfishly) to know more — did they assimilate into their American schools? Are they still crazy about Justin Bieber? Did their father end up supporting them emotionally and/or financially once he came back into their lives? Not sure if those questions will ever be answered but I like the idea of a whole community of readers wanting them to have the means to go to college).

And as for Sarah, I was almost gaping-mouthed at her descriptions of her medical experiences, and at the disappointments her support network handed her (especially the ex-boyfriend). I have to hand it to her for the way she continues to share about her experiences with breast cancer at such a young age (such as this post about The 31 Ways To Help A Friend With Breast Cancer). I want to take her out to coffee and do some of those 31 things.

In closing, hopefully I’ve conveyed my enthusiasm for the book. When Sarah was being interviewed at Yale for their Physician Assistant program, the admissions committee asked her why they should let her into the program. She responded “Because I’m going to change the world. And I’m giving you the chance to say, ‘We knew her when.'”

I think she’s well on her way to making that change. At least one mom and five little girls think so.

cropped somali women

From www.fineartamerica.com


Sarah’s Website:  www.sarahthebarge.com

To Purchase the book on Amazon, click here.

Sarah can be found on Twitter by clicking here.

Sarah can be found on Facebook by clicking here.

Information about the issues facing girls and women in Somalia can be found here.


The Heart of Leadership (A Book Review)

This week, I am happy to join other readers in discussing “The Heart of Leadership,” Mark Miller’s new book about “becoming a leader people want to follow.”

cropped HOL

I enjoyed the way Mark structured the book, following “Blake” through a journey of transformation that starts with a performance review in which Blake’s supervisor tells him that he is not performing to his potential. Although he is tempted to react angrily, he takes the time to think through his supervisor’s contention that “leaders are different” and decides to seek help in understanding what it is that makes leaders different.

As he speaks with various people who volunteer to help him navigate the path toward being a more effective leader, he is given some truly valuable pieces of advice. One of my favorites was:

Your missed opportunities are often no big deal in isolation.

They are, however, cumulative.

This is an area where I have struggled. When I supervised people, I know I lost opportunities to address issues when they were small. Dealing with a big issue that has mushroomed takes away time from getting the organizational mission accomplished and harms morale.

Another principle that is a thread woven through all of the people Blake speaks to on his path toward deeper understanding is “Think Others First.” I saw this concept in action last night when I watched Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston being interviewed after FSU defeated Clemson (a very big win!). I have been somewhat out of the college football pocket for a good bit of this season and had missed seeing any of Winston’s performances this year. I had seen the social media frenzy touting him as Heisman material, the best thing to hit our football field in years, a phenom. I have to say he made that impression on me last night as I watched the game. But it was the post-game interview that really caught my attention.

After citing his religious faith, Winston repeatedly spoke of the support of his teammates, of what a great job they did, of the unity this team felt. There was not a single word in which he bragged about his outstanding performance. Jameis Winston echoed what one of Blake’s leadership mentors said: “Leadership character, once established, is hard to hide.” Winston’s leadership was shining through his words and his demeanor. (Here is another interview after the game that captures much of the same tone.)

HOL cropped two

The Heart of Leadership is a manageably brief book to read, and it’s packed with great ideas. Aren’t you curious to know how Blake worked it all out? If so you can purchase the book through Amazon here.


Mark Miller, well known business leader, best-selling author, and communicator, is excited about sharing The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow with those who are ready to take the next step. You can find it on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere.

*I received a complimentary copy of The Heart of Leadership for review purposes. The opinions expressed here are my own.


Bob Walked; Everyone Grew

Saturday mornings almost always find me doing my long run. I have run several times through the trails at Lake Lafayette. A few weeks ago, my schedule changed and I was able to participate in a Move Tallahassee walk through the same area. Walking the trail took three times as long as running it would have, but since I ended up among bird lovers and conservationists, things were brought to my attention that I would have missed before: uncommon juvenile birds nestled in the aquatic plants; trash that had been left by walkers prior to us; invasive and predatory vegetation. I left the day with a heightened appreciation for the advantages of slowing down.

When I read an article memorializing Bob Hentzen, President and Co-Founder of Unbound, after his death on October 8, I learned that when he decided to relocate from Kansas City to Guatemala in 1996, he walked. That’s right: 4,000 miles!

The walk from Kansas City to Guatemala can be hard on shoes...

The walk from Kansas City to Guatemala can be hard on shoes…

I can only imagine the human rights issues Bob saw on his walk (and continued to see when he settled in Guatemala).

Did he encounter racism before he left the United States? Did he see citizens of his home country withholding jobs, the ability to rent homes, common courtesy from each other based on which racial group they belonged to?

As he headed south, did he encounter citizens of Mexico, struggling for the right to health protection amidst the HIV/AIDS crisis?

When he arrived in Guatemala, did he immediately see the challenges faced by indigenous people in danger of losing their land and/or livelihood? Undoubtedly he saw what he already knew: that women and girls were in danger of being victims of violence and the inability to get educated.

I know from spending a week on a Mission Awareness Trip in Guatemala with Bob in July 2011 that he cared deeply about the women and girls of Guatemala who needed help to learn skills that would earn them a living; who needed support to get education beyond the initial early grades; who needed protection when spouses succumbed to substance abuse or simply left.

Bob with Guatemalan children

Bob with Guatemalan children

I have so many memories of Bob that have come flooding back since I learned of his death earlier this week.

  • How a few of the kids in the group (and, ahem, perhaps some of the adults) thought it was “quaint” when he walked in for the first time with his guitar. It’s possible a few eyes even rolled. By the end of the week, we were done with that though. I’d give a lot of quetzales (Guatemalan money) to hear Bob sing again.
  • His reference to a song he heard a Guatemalan child sing (paraphrasing here….) “we sing to drown out the sounds of the guns.”
  • The way he interacted with every single Guatemalan family along the way during our week. His little notepad, where he wrote down specific needs and facts. How despite taking notes in his little notepad, those families had his full attention. I remember him asking one teenager if she went to school. She said “no.” There was no judgment coming back from him. But I think a seed may have been planted in that girl’s head. It was clear that no one in Guatemala wanted to disappoint “Don Roberto and Doña Cristina (his wife).”
  • The way he interacted with his staff. I know how short tempered I have been with staff when I supervised. When you’re all crammed together in a mini bus for a week, there’s not a lot of privacy. I listened to him give directions to the Unbound staff and had a sense of abiding, quiet, humble leadership.
  • Despite all that abiding, quiet, humble part, I know that Bob would not brook any nonsense when it came to Unbound. When he talked about charity clearinghouses and auditors questioning how he allocated funds, he was resolute in making sure as much money (and resources) got directly to families as possible while retaining the necessary cushion of financial solidity for Unbound.

Back to walking and human rights. I doubt any of us reading this plan any 4000 mile walks in our lifetimes. What we can do, however, is slow down and walk through our town, our country, or another country and observe the human rights challenges, with an eye to doing something about them.

To extend that example to Tallahassee and my home state of Florida, human slavery steals the rights of women (and some men). In the United States, pick any of a number of issues.

As for other countries, if you have an opportunity to visit and see for yourself, do it. In the meantime, there are plentiful ways to improve your awareness and make a difference.  (One of my favorites is Half the Sky.) In memory of Bob, I also encourage you to visit the Unbound site and consider sponsoring a child, giving a monetary gift, or even simply spreading awareness by sharing Unbound’s message on social media (or face to face!).

One of Bob Hentzen’s most repeated quotes is:  “Society has told them [the poor] all along that they are not capable. We are here to tell them they are quite capable. You are not alone. We are walking with you.” When it comes to the topic of human rights, I encourage you to take a page out of Bob’s book and walk …. blazing a path of awareness and compassion.

Bob and Sponsored Children

Bob and Sponsored Children

(Each year, Blog Action Day “brings together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day.  Past topics have included Water, Climate Change, Poverty,  Food and the Power of We, with over 25,000 blogs taking part since 2007.” This year’s theme is human rights.)


Let’s Not Mince Words: Helen Needs a Kidney Donor!

******BREAKING NEWS******

Helen has a donor! Her surgery will be tomorrow, on November 1, 2013.

To follow her journey, click here for her Caring Bridge Site.

Whoever her donor is, thank you.

******BREAKING NEWS******

Tonight’s blog is not about something “pretty.” Please take a look at the image below. The kidney on the right is healthy. The kidney on the left is affected by polycystic kidney disease. Helen Schwarz Jones has polycystic kidney disease, and I would like to share her story tonight as she searches for a donor.

edited PolycysticKidneyDisease

To give you a different context, here is a comparison between a polycystic kidney and a football:

A polycystic kidney can reach the size of a football and weigh as much as 30 pounds.

A polycystic kidney can reach the size of a football and weigh as much as 30 pounds.

And when those football-sized, diseased kidneys are vying for room inside an abdomen, it looks like this:



I have included a pretty long version of Helen’s story (told by her) in tonight’s blog. If you don’t have time to read all the details, here’s the critical takeaway:

Helen’s kidneys are failing and will shut down in the near future. Ideally, a “living donor” will step forward to provide Helen a new kidney and the prospect of healthy years ahead with her family. (Dialysis is an option when Helen’s kidneys fail but there are many reasons why this is not optimal.) Please share Helen’s story as widely as possible; if a willing living donor is out there, it is imperative that the process begin soon. You can direct people to www.helenneedsakidneydonor.com for instructions. 

Here is Helen’s story as told by her:

Hi, I am Helen Schwarz.  I am a wife of a fantastic husband, a mother of two wonderful children and a grandmother to three beautiful grandchildren.  I need a kidney – in order to continue to live and enjoy my family.  On a scale of one to ten, my pain is at a level of seven to eight most days, though I don’t let it show.  The pain is there whether I am working, playing or sleeping.  In fact sleeping is difficult as the weight of my kidneys  make lying down very painful.  Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) has caused my kidneys to fail.  My kidney function has dropped to 10% so time is of the essence.

Nobody knew that I had PKD because people with PKD don’t typically look ‘sick’.  I became aware of my kidney condition, PKD in 1980 and proactively managed this genetic disease for over 30 years working full-time and raising the two most wonderful children.  Fifty percent of PKD patients’ kidneys will fail and need transplantation and/or dialysis and one in four people with PKD have brain aneurisms.

In 2004 I was diagnosed with three brain aneurisms.  I thought that my life was over then, but God had a plan.  I was in the hands of the best neurosurgeon, Dr. Raphael Tamargo, who was one of a few neurosurgeons who performed multiple aneurism surgery in one procedure, at one of the best hospitals, Johns Hopkins.  These nine years allowed me to continue to work, watch my son become a firefighter/paramedic and my daughter get married to a wonderful man and bless me with three grandchildren.  Now nine years later my kidneys are failing and I need a kidney transplant and I pray that I can be blessed with another decade of quality life through a transplant.

I am desperately seeking an “O” blood type donor who would be willing to sacrifice a kidney to save my life. This is the quickest way to get a transplant and once identified as my donor all expenses are paid by my insurance.  Another option is to find a donor willing to be in the paired exchange program with me, in this case blood type won’t matter, but the wait could take up to 2 years. Without a donor I will have to wait for a cadaver kidney which can take up to 5-6 years before I would be transplanted.

I don’t have that time – I will be on dialysis if I don’t find a donor soon.  Optimal surgery would be to perform the transplant before starting dialysis and that is my goal as well as the goal of my nephrologists.  Due to the size of my kidneys if I don’t find a donor, I may have to have a double nephrectomy and live on dialysis, and then when a kidney match is found I would have to undergo a second surgery for the kidney transplant.  This would be extremely difficult for my body so we are trying to avoid this at all costs, but in the meantime my kidneys are crowding my other vital organs and daily life is becoming more difficult.

Please help.  I am on the kidney transplant waiting list at University of Maryland Medical Center, one of the nation’s largest kidney transplant centers.

It’s far more beneficial for me to pursue a living kidney donor. The benefits to finding a living kidney donor include a shorter wait time and the fact that a kidney from a living donor has the potential to last on average about twice as long as a kidney from a deceased donor.

I need that time – I am “Grammy” to a 3-year old granddaughter, a 2-year old grandson and 3-month old grandson – I want to see them grow up at least through elementary school.  I want to be their fun Grammy.  My family is very supportive but unfortunately they are not able to be donors – the genetic disease I have is hereditary.  My husband, who is my rock, has tried to be donor in the paired exchange program but was not able to be a donor due to a cyst on his kidney which makes him ineligible to donate – thankfully the cyst is a non-medical issue.

Since May 30, 2013, when I was listed on the transplant list I have been blessed with two ‘O’ donor candidates.  The first one was about to go to Maryland for her evaluation as she was a match, but due lack of family support had to stop the process, the second one has not been tested yet but her mother suddenly became critically ill so she has to postpone moving forward.

I need to find an “O” donor willing to go to UMMC in Baltimore.  I need to have donors to be tested because as the transplant centers tell you – keep sending potential donors because the criteria to become a donor is very strict and many potential donors are eliminated due to one thing or another.

It is an emotional roller coaster and I get through it by praying and with the prayers of family, many friends and strangers.  It is said that God helps those that help themselves.  I am proactively doing everything I can to stay healthy both physically and mentally, watching my diet, avoiding depression and enjoying every day, working full-time and playing with my beautiful grandchildren.

I would be honored if you would serve as an advocate to let others know about my need.  Please help me find a donor, my energizer bunny, who can enable me to continue to receive the blessing of a daily dose of life!


For more contact/follow up information:

Website:  www.helenneedsakidneydonor.com

Facebook page:  Helen Needs A Kidney Donor

Cell Phone:  850-459-4353

Email address: helenneedsakidneydonor@comcast.net

For a collection of blogs of experiences of living donors, visit this site.

For Helen’s boss, Bob Gabordi’s moving blog about Helen, click here.

Helen's Facebook Cover Page (it speaks for itself)

Helen’s Facebook Cover Page (it speaks for itself)


Fashionista, SpongeBob, or Princess?

What on earth is Paula talking about you may ask!

I am talking about a frivolous “rivalry” for an undeniably serious cause: saving children’s lives all over the world by vaccinating them.

I am happy to be a champion for Shot @ Life, the United Nations Foundation program that educates, connects, and empowers Americans to help protect children in developing countries from vaccine-preventable diseases*.

Around our world, 1 in 5 children do not have access to life-saving vaccines. Shot @ Life is developing and maintaining the momentum to help save a child’s life every 20 seconds.

I am grateful that Walgreens has partnered with Shot @ Life to donate a vaccine to Shot @ Life for every vaccine administered in their stores between now and October 14. The program is called “Get a Shot, Give a ShotTM.” A few features to note:

  • No appointment is necessary (although you can make an appointment here)
  • Most insurance is accepted
  • You receive 500 Balance Rewards points for every immunization

"The Shades"

Now, back to the frivolous part. I am dedicating next Saturday morning to my flu shot and wrapping a lovely Shot @ Life wrapper around the whole thing. I am going to park at Walgreens, get my hour-long scheduled run in (dedicating the miles to Shot @ Life via Charity Miles), slap on my Shot @ Life shades, wipe a little sweat off my brow so I don’t gross out the pharmacy staff, and get my flu shot.

Here’s where you come in. What type of Band-Aid should I use? We have:Fashionista (Cynthia Rowley to be precise):

fashionista bandaids



And SpongeBob (Glow in the Dark!):


Over the week I’ll be vetting the choices on social media. In a somewhat unscientific procedure, I’ll figure out which one is most popular and will happily use it post flu-shot and undoubtedly make some pharmacist wonder how all those years of pharmacy school led to having a picture taken with an almost-50-year old in green sunglasses wielding a glow in the dark (or Rapunzel …. or Cynthia Rowley) BandAid.

I’ll be interested in your thoughts about the BandAid choice but most importantly I would LOVE your participation — either through getting your flu shot at Walgreens (and by doing so getting a child vaccinated through Shot @ Life) — or by simply sharing the important message of Shot @ Life: that $20 (what some of us spend per week in coffee) can immunize a child against pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and polio!


Fashionista (sequins) won the contest! Here is the “evidence”!

Post Flu Shot post flu shot two

For more information:

Shot @ Life website: www.shotatlife.org

Shot @ Life Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shotatlifecampaign

Shot @ Life Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShotAtLife

Shot @ Life YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/shotatlifecampaign

Shot @ Life Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/shotatlife


*Some verbiage taken from Shot @ Life materials.

Comfort Zone Camps: Transforming Grief Into Growth

cropped czc

When my sister-in-law died suddenly of an undiagnosed cardiac arrhythmia in 1993, an entire family was thrown into a cyclonic maelstrom of grief, disbelief, and shock. As the adults coped the best they could, there was also the issue of three children ages 6 months to six years who had just lost their mother. As much pain as the adults were in, these three children faced a journey that we grownups could not pretend to comprehend, no matter how hard we tried.

I asked my niece, Jordan, who was three at the time of Ann’s death, to write about her experience:

“The grieving of a child who lost a loved one is very different than the grieving of an adult. Some times it’s very hard for an adult to understand that a child won’t necessarily get “better with time”. When I lost my own mother, it was important for my siblings and I to have caring people in our lives that would just simply, be there. With the help of a loving support system, I have been able to grow into a strong individual, because of those who took their time to focus on my needs at my most vulnerable.”

I am happy to use my blog space tonight to highlight “Comfort Zone Camp.” Comfort Zone Camp is a free bereavement camp for children ages 7-17, held year-round across the country.  Comfort Zone Camps include confidence building programs and age-based support groups that break the emotional isolation grief often brings. This article describes the camp in Sandwich, MA. This brief video gives you a glimpse into Comfort Zone Camps:

The Comfort Zone Camp would appreciate shares of the above video during the next few days as they prepare to participate in “The Amazing Raise,” an online giving challenge that begins at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, September 18 and continues through 6 p.m. on September 19. If you would like to make a donation during the Amazing Raise, visit this link for more information. If you would like additional general information (or you have a child interested in participating), visit the Comfort Zone Camp website at www.comfortzonecamp.org).

Photo Credit: Cape Cod Times

Campers make paper bag lanterns commemorating loved ones
Photo Credit: Cape Cod Times