Thanksgiving is the official kick-off to the holidays and a day for family and friends. Every year as we sit at the Thanksgiving table, we go around to ask everyone sitting at that table what exactly they are thankful for. Although a hungry bunch does not want to hear an excessively long list, here is my list of things I am thankful for. I am thankful for good health for myself and for my family and friends. Although we all suffer from the occasional aches and pains, everyone is just fine. I am thankful for my family, my two beautiful daughters who keep me laughing and I am very honored to say are also my friends. My parents who still at eighty something years old are up for pretty much all of our shenanigans. I am thankful for the love of my life who makes me laugh, smile and has enriched my life in too many ways to even count. I am thankful for all my Honeysuckle friends who help me at the drop of a hat to assist the Honeysuckle Foundation. I am thankful for Lauren’s boyfriend and all my long-lost friends who I have ‘found’ on Facebook who share their lives with me and give me something to chuckle about on a regular basis. Life is about laughter and we sure have plenty. I am thankful for everyone who has touched my life for the good or not so good, as only through these experiences has my life become so rich and full. I am thankful for my life. Although it has been tough at times, the good would not be so rewarding or sweet without any bad.
May God bless everyone this Thanksgiving and holiday season!
The end of September is here and National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is almost over. Another year passes and more kids are getting sick. October brings Breast Cancer Awareness month and everything will be pink. The NFL dedicates itself to it with pink hats, cleats and gloves. The Empire State building will be flooded with pink lights and everywhere you turn ‘think pink’ takes over. I admire the work done to bring such awareness to breast cancer, but I want that same level of awareness for pediatric cancer. Children are our future and deserve that same level of awareness and commitment to help them get through a battle for their lives. Please read these statistics they are alarming, especially if it is your own child or someone you know:
Facts about Cancer in Children and Adolescents
Every day, 36 children are diagnosed with cancer.
One child out of five who is diagnosed with cancer dies.
Children’s cancer it affects all ethnic, gender and socio-economic groups.
The average age of children diagnosed is six.
More than 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer each year.
Three out of five who survive children’s cancer suffer late-effects, such as infertility, heart failure and secondary cancers.
There are approximately 350,000 adult survivors of children’s cancer in the United States.
That equates to 1 in 640 adults ages 18-45.
So as September comes to a close, I ask you to join a pediatric cancer awareness group, volunteer, attend an event and do not forget until next September that each and everyday another child and his or her family are told, ‘you have cancer.’
Money makes the world go round are lyrics to a song as well as reality. You cannot live without money. It provides for us the necessities of life as well as the luxuries. To what lengths will people go to get it, earn it and keep it? We all know people who are disciples of money. They define themselves by their material objects and ‘things’ more than who they are. The relationships with their children, family and friends pale in comparison to the almighty buck and they know no end and may steal it, even if they are not the rightful owners. Small scale or large, money makes strange bedfellows and if you want to see what people are made of just threaten taking something financially away from them. Our economy crashed and the courts are filled with people who have been conned or are trying to con others all for the sake of a buck. While we do not need much, most of us want lots. However, at the end of the day or the end of our lives what does money really bring us? Does it make us better people or worse? Does it give us friends or just acquaintances who are around for the financial benefit of being a ‘friend’? Does it provide us comfort if we are sick or dying? Does it guarantee a life free of strive and our health? The answer is a resounding No! Money is what you make it and if you allow it to rule your life and taint your relationships you will pay a price. A price that may not seem terribly high at the time, but one day for the love of money, you may just end up all alone.
I am crazy about a cause. Unlike others who like to be involved and ‘give back’ because they feel it is the right thing to do, I have a personal stake in my cause. In fact, I founded my cause eight years ago when my then 7-year-old inspired me. My cause is childhood cancer and the Honeysuckle Foundation For Children with Cancer (www.honeysucklefoundation.org). I believe childhood cancer is one of the most unrecognized and under funded causes around. The people who start children’s cancer charities are parents like myself who do it as a testament to our children’s survival or those parents who tragically have lost a child. We ask our family, friends and neighbors to help and people rally around us. The charity takes off like a bolt of lightning filled with lots of volunteers and interest in what we do. Time however, kills our momentum and one by one our small charities die. We cannot compete with large-scale charities that have paid staffs, offices and celebrity endorsements. We work out of our homes, do our ‘volunteer’ work in the middle of the night and are the secretary, marketing person and chief cook and bottle washer all rolled into one. I know others who have founded pediatric cancer charities and the road we all travel is the same. We work to help kids with cancer today with the social and emotional aspect, trying to make life a little easier and bring some comfort and happiness into their lives. Tons of money is raised and then spent on research and I wonder for all those dollars how many patients battling cancer today are actually benefitting from that? One day I hope that the obstacles faced by small charities today will be easier to handle. I hope that pediatric cancer is obliterated from the face of the earth and therefore there is no need for childhood cancer charities. In the meantime however, I believe that it is the charities like the Honeysuckle Foundation who actually make a difference in the life of a child fighting for his or her life this moment and because of that, I will not stop fighting the uphill battle for survival.
In my quest this year for better health and trying to combat middle age spread or melt, as I like to think of it, I try each day to walk 10,000 steps. I walk around the community in the morning and even some evenings and during the day I take as many steps as I can. I even bought a pedometer to keep track of my steps and help keep me motivated for those 10,000 steps. I am not sure why 10,000 steps is the magical number, but I am sure some expert somewhere came up with this number and it is now a standard that I strive to achieve. I park further away than I have to when shopping, take the steps instead of the elevator and find myself randomly walking around the house. When getting ready for bed at night I look at my pedometer to see just how many steps I took that day. On average I am getting my 10,000 steps although some days I go over and some there are less. On the days there are less I make a last-ditch effort to up my steps by circling the house a few times to add to my number. So for weeks now this has been my routine. I drink almond milk instead of cows milk, eat no beef, just chicken and fish, drink green tea, eat plenty of fruit and have cut out pretty much all snacks. So after weeks of doing this I see no change. I feel the same and I look the same and I am not happy about it. In fact, I occasionally talk to myself and my ‘trusty’ pedometer in my frustration. While I guess this is my ‘plateau’ or what appears to be one, maybe this is normal for ‘my age’. It does not make me happy or easy to deal with. Well I guess my cross words to my pedometer must have gotten the better of it for the other day, while in the restroom, the darn thing unclipped off my belt and was flushed away, never to be seen again. No more steps to register, it was gone in a second. I felt bad I had lost my dear pedometer and even contemplated replacing it with a new one. I changed my mind however, as I will now return to the way things use to be for me. I will keep as busy and mobile as I possibly can. I will eat what I want, but as always only in moderation and I will stop worrying about my middle age spread. Maybe this was the way I was meant to be so who am I to fight it? It’s like fighting mother nature. Maybe my pedometer knew this all along. Maybe my pedometer had more to do with trying to put my mind at ease that middle age isn’t so bad and was trying to tell me this with its’ quick departure rather than just counting all my steps. I will never know, but for now I will live my life without my pedometer and see what happens not counting all of my steps.
Each day our lives change and while for the majority of us the change is undetectable, it is still there. We grow older as do our children, our relationships change, our health changes and the list goes on and on. For some people the change is instantaneous; a cancer diagnosis, something catastrophic happens, a job is lost. The one common denominator however, is time marches on and with it comes change. When we look back, these are our memories. Some of them are good and some are bad. The mind has a great way of minimizing the bad and trying to give us a clearer view of the good. A forgotten time with loved ones who are gone, days when life was carefree and simple, when our children were small, we all have those times we can reflect upon with a smile. There are things in our lives though that no matter when we look back upon them they cause angst and pain. Sickness and death are two of those things, but rest assured we all have them. The trick is to be able to embrace your past and move on with your life. Do not get stuck in the past. Remembering is good, but pining for what once was wastes our time, energy and emotions. Embrace the present, no matter what it may be and make the best of it. Life is a journey to be experienced in all it’s glory; the ups and downs. Our lives are the building blocks for our children and their children. The stories that will once be told about you and your life should be funny, inspirational and positive and while we may think the stories are not particularly interesting or important, the way we conduct ourselves and live our life will be. Each day is a gift that we should cherish and live to our fullest potential. Step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to do something you have never done before. Force positive change and do it with a smile. Who cares what someone else thinks? If we live our life with passion and purpose we are writing our unique story each day. Our story is our own and a work in progress and it is about our future, not our past. We can change our future but are stuck if we choose to live in our past.
I am trying to fulfill a New Year’s resolution I didn’t make; exercise more and eat better. I didn’t make it a resolution for once I set my sight on that I knew like most people I would fail. I just started. One walk a day a couple of times a week has now turned into a walk everyday, sometimes twice a day. The eating better part was not too difficult since my family doesn’t eat beef just lots of fish and poultry. I have replaced cow’s milk with almond milk and try to snack on more fruits and vegetables instead of sweet things. Our recent journey to Costco had our basket filled with supersize veggie and fruit platters and a newly acquired scale. We all now weigh ourselves and while not totally shocked, I must admit it was the first time I have personally owned one in years. I take vitamins and supplements as well; a multivitamin, flaxseed oil for those hot flashes, calcium to build the ‘bone bank’ and my personal favorite Protandim to help reverse the signs of aging. My drink of choice is decaffeinated unsweetened green tea. I brew and drink a pitcher of it a day and supplement it with water. So far so good. It is not the first time I have done this and I am now remembering how good I felt when I had done this before. I take it one day at a time as I continue on my journey of better health. While changing my habits I believe I am fighting off aging as best I can without surgery and procedures, just one step and glass at a time. Now let’s see if my body agree…. Only time will tell.
In the holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street my favorite line is, ‘faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.’ There are many times in our lives that we are called upon to have faith. For some it comes in the form of religion but being religious is not a necessary criteria. It is having confidence or trusting in someone or something. We all have beliefs and faith. What happens however, if you lose faith? Life can be cruel and when things are going great and life is sailing along just fine, having faith is easy. What happens though, when things aren’t going so well? Is having faith easy when you have lost your job, have no money and are down on your luck? Is having faith easy when your loved one has been deployed into a war zone? Is having faith easy when your child is battling a deadly disease? Circumstances such as these are the true tests of faith and challenge us to the core. It is also the time when faith can really make a difference and with it many things we once believed were impossible become possible.
Each of us faces challenges everyday. We never know what the future holds and therefore should cherish this moment; it may be all that we have. When life does challenge us however, we do have the ability to handle what comes our way we just have to have enough faith in ourselves that we can.
2010 is almost over and a new year about to begin. I am ready to take the Christmas decorations down and get life back into some order. After a busy two weeks with my family around to celebrate all that is good in our lives, they have left and I need to get back to normal, whatever that may be. As we get ready to ring in the New Year the thought of a resolution is in many people’s minds, mine included. We hear the standard lose weight, get organized or start eating better, but most of us fail. I however will step out on a limb and make my New Year’s resolution one that is both challenging and engaging to not only myself but to others as well. After eight years the passion that once ignited my pet project the Honeysuckle Foundation for Children with Cancer (www.honeysucklefoundation.org) is held only by a few. When we were right off the battle field of pediatric cancer there were many supporters, volunteers and donors. Time and life has seen them dwindle away and our core group has grown smaller and smaller. I am very lucky to have some truly dedicated individuals who work tirelessly for our cause, but it has gotten difficult especially once the economy tanked. I want 2011 to be the year that the Honeysuckle Foundation takes off and makes a mark in the world of pediatric cancer patients. Like pink is to breast cancer awareness, I want to utilize social media, mainstream media and network marketing to spread the word that there are too many kids battling for their lives and they need support today. We want to collaborate with other not for profits in helping kids throughout this country fighting this deadly disease. This mighty feat however cannot be done by just a few. There is strength in numbers and I will seek out and find anyone who is willing to roll up there sleeves and get the message out. Quality of life is just as important as the number of days in the life of a child with cancer.
I have no set plan on how to do this and I will take it one day at a time. I will write, post and implore others to join us and hopefully along the way 2011 will be Honeysuckle Foundation’s year; we will get the support and resources we need to help these children. It is imperative that we achieve this goal as none of us has a crystal ball and can foresee our future, and unfortunately today and everyday 46 children and their family’s lives will change forever. We want to be able to help them and hope that maybe you do too!
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