living her best life #46: we can help…

For those of us wishing we could help in Pat’s fight against multiple myeloma…

WE CAN.

Researching treatments for the management of MM, an incurable cancer, means adding longevity to the lives of patients with the disease. Buying time for continuing research means… 

A CURE??? 

Who knows? Stranger things have happened. No harm in dreaming…BIG.

There are a multitude of great causes, many of them deserving. Personally, I like to know where my money is going. I prefer non-generic, causes. Ones that aren’t mainstream. Well known charities tend to corner-the-market when it comes to donor dollars. Nothing wrong with that. Just not where I want to direct my few charitable ones. 

Right now, for me, The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is my charity of choice. 

Like anyone with a family member, friend, co-worker, or acquaintance who might benefit directly from a donation, I know that…giving to MMRH is akin to adding longevity to Pat’s life. 

And even if you don’t know her, you do.

Pat’s…your grandmother…your mother…your sister…your wife….your daughter…your aunt…your niece… your cousin. She’s anyone and everyone who means anything to you.

…giving to MMRH is akin to adding longevity to pat’s life…

…and to all those similarly stricken with multiple myeloma.

………hugmamma

Your contribution extends lives.

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit. Your contribution is tax deductible.

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living her best life…#22

Received the following from Pat on Saturday, 1/31/15.

Hi hugmamma…

Just checking in.

Today was nice and sunny with just enough trades to keep the house cool.

I had an appointment with Dr. Burke [the naturopath] today. I updated him on the meds I’m taking, and how my first two [chemotherapy] treatments went. He says we’re on the right path regarding the homeopathic supplements he’s given me.

As always, I felt better afterwards.

Mica [my niece] came over this afternoon for a Reiki session with me. It was wonderful. She set up her table outside on the back patio, in the shade. I was looking up at the sky. It’s difficult to explain how it felt…but I was comfortable and relaxed the entire time. Mica said my body was “humming” with life…not in a Frankenstein-ish way…but in a good way!!! LOL!!!

Family friends Tami and Steve also stopped by to drop off some Chinese soup, which I’m enjoying as I write. 

Tami and I were team parents for MPI, [my son] Aiden’s high school soccer team. Her son is a year younger so she’s still a team parent this year. 

Generously, Tami explained that she’s organizing other parents to provide meals for my family once a week. I said I didn’t want folks going to a lot of trouble, but she explained that it would be completely voluntary. No one would be pressured to participate. I thanked her, knowing Ethan and Brad will definitely be appreciative.

I enjoyed the post about Alzheimer’s, and will follow Greg O’Brien’s story. 

It’s amazing how many “stories” are out there, and the resilience and strength demonstrated by the storytellers.

Soup’s gone! I’m going to heat up more. “Talk” again soon.

…love to you and yours…always.

………pat

journeying towards her best life…#12

Charity begins at home.

Four words that carry so much clout, and yet might not resonate so much these days. Or so it seems.

Americans are wonderfully generous in donating to this, that, or the other charitable cause. We mustn’t stop, that’s for sure. It’s taken us long enough to get where we are in that respect. And the way our federal government may go in the next presidential election, private donations may be all that stand between the impoverished and oblivion.

Busy living our lives, we tend to think tomorrow is another chance to say and do what we don’t say and do today. I’m guilty of it myself. 

We’re bombarded by so much busy-ness that we can hardly dig ourselves out from under most days. Again, I’m guilty of it myself.

Putting the brakes on all the stuff in our daily activities only comes when the “end” is staring us in the face. As if to say “Okay. Time’s up.”

Given the chance, wouldn’t we want to cram as much of our good intentions into the time remaining?

Saying “I love you” as often as we can…in person…or by email…or text message. Sending along some much needed “hugs” as well. 

There’s also the good, old fashioned method…hand writing a letter, or even a card. Once-in-a-while including some “mad money,” encouraging the recipient to go out and blow it on whatever she’d like…just because she’s ripping mad. 

Of course the feeling behind it all should be genuine. At least for me it is. I can’t fake loving someone.

Whether I do a lot or a little, the love I offer is complete. It’s just easier to be more effusive with some than with others because of who they are, and how attached I’ve become to them.

As mentioned earlier, it often takes a slap upside the head before we stop and take notice…and get moving.

…i know it did me.

………hugmamma.

 

 

like the rock of gibraltar…but not

Just got off the phone with my wonderful and loving daughter. She it is who is wise beyond her 28 years. She who can heal whatever it is that ails me. And not with a cup of green tea to warm my insides, although she does that too, but with sentiments that wrap themselves around my oft-times troubled soul.

Without going into details, suffice it to say my normally blissful life has been upended by something that occurred decades ago. While I’d been able to move on with my life, the event was there like a rock secured to my ankle which I dragged around with me…everywhere. For a long time I barely noticed it was there.

But it was there.

Resolving issues through compromise is always my preference. I’d like to think I’m no different from other folks in that regard.

It’s not my style to pretend like something never happened. It’s like glossing over the truth. And if I learned anything from the 12 years I spent in the daily company of Catholic nuns…TRUTH above all else!

What I didn’t assimilate until I was older is that the truth can hurt…real bad.

I recently decided to stop ignoring that “rock” and see if I could break free of its hold once and for all. 

My daughter’s words of encouragement were enlightening.

She reminded me how far I’d come in living my best life. As far as the “rock” was concerned, she felt I’d had the best of intentions in trying to be rid of it, and that I no longer needed to agonize over it.  

My “light bulb” moment was when she reminded me of how I felt when I decided to buy coffee and food along with a $25 gift card from Starbuck’s for a woman I thought was homeless. What I chose to ignore was that the woman wasn’t dressed exactly like one might expect of a homeless person. In fact, she could have been the poster person for what the homeless could look like…poised, almost like a model…modestly dressed, but still fashionable-looking…hair done in dread locks, and impeccably clean-looking …face made up, even more so than mine.

Of course I didn’t see these details until my daughter and I were standing in front of the woman, gifts in hand. What had caught my eye, and my heart strings, from the distance was the shopping cart behind the woman which looked to be loaded down with all that she had in the world.

How could I leave, packages in hand…loaded down with Christmas gifts for my loved ones, when this poor woman stood there in the cold and rain as countless shoppers passed her by, sometimes only inches away from where she stood?

Upon approaching the woman, my daughter spoke first offering the coffee, sandwich and cookie that we’d bought. We were caught off by guard by the woman’s quick response…”I don’t take food from people I don’t know.” Needless to say my daughter and I were totally thrown off, and took a bit to recover.

While I tried to ascertain her circumstances, ever so carefully choosing my words, the woman asked who we were, where were we from. She wanted to know what ethnicity we were. When told we were Hawaiian, she said she’d lived in Hawaii and asked if we knew someone she’d known there.

Trying to process the conversation as we stood rooted in place, still clutching our donations, I couldn’t decide if the woman was legitimate or simply conning us. Unable to think straight, I offered her the gift card which she took. Without acknowledging our donation, she continued talking. At which point I wished her well, eager to extricate myself from a situation about which I wasn’t quite sure.

To this day, we’ll never know if the woman was homeless or if she was simply trying to solicit cash. And yes, I did agonize over whether or not I’d done the right thing.

Why? Because a number of years ago I gave a guy $20 after he told me his hard luck story. A few days later he told me the same story, not realizing he’d already hit me up for money before. And at the time I gave it to him, my girlfriend, who was with me, told me she thought I’d been scammed. 

My daughter explained that just as my intentions were good in wanting to give to the woman, so too were they good in removing the “rock” that continued to weigh me down. She went on to say that I’d gotten rid of the “rock,” and that I needn’t dwell on whether or not I did the right thing. Rather, that I needed to return to…living my best life.

…i think i’ll do as she asks…for my sake…

and hers.

………hugmamma.

 

getting more…than we give

Flanders, Netherlands

Flanders, Netherlands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hubby and I had a date night Saturday evening that included about 35 others. We helped serve dinner to those in need at our town’s community center. Although I donate a home-cooked meal with some regularity, we’re not always able to help with its serving. But when we’re able, we find those we help feed give so much more to us…than we give to them.

 All who volunteer agree that being able to share food with folks who are so grateful for whatever is placed before them, is humbling.  They thank us, numerous times, for making the entrees, the side dishes, the salads and the desserts. Some lower their eyes as they mumble their thanks. Others greet us with large smiles, asking after our well-being. Can you imagine? Concern for us who live comfortably, compared with their meagre day-to-day subsistence.

Marilyn, the meal coordinator, is a true Christian. She fills a need in our community without passing judgment on those who partake. All are welcome; all are treated with respect. They line up, help themselves, find their own seats. Returning for more helpings is fine, as is taking food home for another meal. They are sensitive to leaving some for others; they never exhibit greed. Many even help with the cleanup.

Most are men, some with jobs. Women, retirees, teens and children comprise the remainder who dine with us. Many are repeats who are known by name. No tension exists, only calm and serenity. Barriers dissolve into thin air. Class, ethnicity, education, religion, politics, even cleanliness have no place as we mingle with one another. 

We and they…have something in common.

It’s not easy to step outside one’s comfort zone, and cross over into the unknown. I’m sure it’s as difficult for those in need of our support, as it is for us who offer it. That we do… makes for a magical evening…

…of heartfelt…camaraderie…

………hugmmamma.

…everyone needs…a friend…

My life has been enriched by friends I’ve met through hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul.

We share our stories, stories told by others…our lives…and those of others. All are compelling.

Marcia Clark posted the following youtube  to her blog, Marcia Clark-La Chica Writes at http://mecwrites25.wordpress.com.

…i‘ll let the video speak for itself…

………hugmamma.   

warm and sunny…just like mama

It’s been awhile since I’ve bolted from bed, putting fingers to keyboard because  thoughts and words started assembling like soldiers in a military dress parade. But I was given my marching orders, so here I am, albeit a little bleary-eyed still.

All this to do about a holiday honoring women of the world, hell-bent on doing a great job. Whether charged with the care of one, 9, or however many, moms awake each day to the sounds of their offspring calling their generic name…mommy, ma, mama, mom, or mother. Can’t warm to that one myself; but to each her own.

Memories are unique, according to one’s own experiences and perceptions. Today I remember the warmth and sun…of my mom.

Mama wasn’t perfect…neither am I.

She gave away hugs…the same ones I now share…as “hugmamma.”

Though poor, she was always “dressed to the nines,” her hair coiffed in the style of the day. A habit I’ve acquired.

A quick smile, an infectious laugh, twinkling eyes as if to say…”Have your best day.” She left me that too…that which I give to you.

Sunday best required a hat. Mama bought me Easter ones…when she could. A new, store bought dress was included…if it didn’t “break the bank.”

A pot of soup for a sick friend or neighbor; a kindness returned when mama was “under the weather.” I helped transport the generous offering…both ways.

Mama left me her “green thumb” and passion for gardening. I love flowers, their colors, their fragrances, their attraction to birds, butterflies and bees. I can feel her beside me, when I’m pulling out weeds.

Each Christmas she handcrafted wreaths from evergreen branches we’d gathered, along with wire clothes hangers, newspaper strips and string. Mama’s strength and dexterity always amazed me. As did her gifting these homemade treasures to friends and relatives.

When I was sick she’d minister to my every need, lathering my chest and throat with Vicks to break up the congestion. Or massaging my upset tummy with warmed oil because she said I had “bush.” A Portuguese term for a “turned stomach,” according to mama. The onset of which probably occurred when I took a tumble.

She let me burn a small candle once when I was playing with my dolls. My brother complained, saying I’d start a fire. Mama defended my frivolity.

 Sundays at the beach, running its length, the warm Pacific waters our reward. Mama took time out of her busy week to ensure my siblings and I had fun.

TARO PATCHES ALONG HIGHWAY 36. TARO ROOT IS TH...

TARO PATCHES ALONG HIGHWAY 36. TARO ROOT IS THE BASIS OF POI, A TRADITIONAL HAWAIIAN DISH – NARA – 554077 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trudging through murky, muddy Taro patch waters, mama taught me to scour the bottom for “pupus.” Hawaiian relatives of the French escargot, the smell of pupus boiling on the stove was enough to send me running out to play.

Prying the meaty critter out of its shell with a safety pin and popping it into my mouth was not my fantasy snack. No amount of cajoling or pressure got me to down that nasty mollusk.

So how is it that I now relish the taste of escargot  bathed in garlic butter?

Mama cheered proudly when I stood before a basketball crowd as lead high-school cheerleader. 

She made my costumes for school plays.

Tänzerin beim Hula ʻauana im Wettbewerb

Tänzerin beim Hula ʻauana im Wettbewerb “Miss Aloha Hula”, Merrie Monarch Festival 2003, Hilo, Hawaiʻi, USA; Pentax Z 20, Tamron Zoom AF/MF 3,8-5,6/28-200 mm aspherical (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For Hawaiian dance recitals, she helped gather koa seeds for the leis we strung, and ti-leaves for the hula skirts she made.

All the small and big things mama did for me…I do for my daughter. Some days joyfully; others, like a zombie.

I wouldn’t trade my memories for someonelse’s…nor my job as mom…for another.

Great days or less than…my heart overflows.

…mama wasn’t perfect…and neither am i…

…hugs of aloha…on mother’s day…and all days…

………hugmamma.

Happy..Happy.. Mother's Day :-)..

 

under the christmas tree…

What is it I want this Christmas? Is there anything I need? What would make a difference in my life?

 

 

 

For starters…how about peace of mind…body…and soul.

For the main course…how about relief from so much negative stuff…on the news…in my community…in america…in the world.

For dessert…how about love…love…and more…love! 

What could I do without? What would I give away? What would I share…with loved ones…with strangers?

 

 

 

 

 

 

For starters…how about all the material stuff I’ve accumulated…just because.  

For the main course…how about some of me…some of my time…some of my compassion.

For dessert…how about more helpings…of everything…already mentioned.

…a holiday feast…fit for royalty…or plain folk…like you…and moi…

………hugmamma.  😉 (imagejpg.com)

an easter gift to ourselves, feeding the hungry

Spent a couple of hours Saturday evening volunteering once again at the community hall serving dinner to those who wandered in from the street. My husband and I decided to fill in wherever needed, rather than commit to a regular schedule. As with most who offer their time, it’ll probably work out to be once-a-month that I prepare a dish that we bring along for the meal.

While 2 or 3 of the women are there more often because they coordinate the effort, others like us are there now and then. As for the needy, most seem to be regulars who are familiar with the routine. They’re very respectful as they enter the hall. Early by about 15-20 minutes, the men and women mill about, settling into chairs while they wait. If dessert is set out some might help themselves to a little, probably too hungry to wait, while others wander about aimlessly, perhaps too antsy, and hungry, to sit still.

Meatloaf

Image by su-lin via Flickr

The woman-in-charge was delayed, so we waited until she arrived to serve up dinner. We didn’t know where the second pan of meat loaf and a side dish of cauliflower were, or if they’d even been delivered. The coordinator arrived, the food was found warming in the oven, and the meal was ready. Meanwhile, the diners had lined up along one side of the hall, patiently waiting to be invited to step up and be served.

Salad with vinaigrette dressing

Image via Wikipedia

I served the meatloaf, another woman served the risotto dish she’d made, a middle-school boy helped with the tomato/mozzarella salad with balsamic vinaigrette I’d assembled, while his mom served up an ambrosia fruit salad. The diners helped themselves to garlic bread and the dessert of homemade strawberry shortcake.

There were a couple of newcomers that made me reflect. One was a young boy about 15 years old, I think. He looked as though he’d not bathed in a while, his hair disheveled, his face streaked with dirt, his ti-shirt and pants wrinkled and perhaps a little smelly. He arrived late, quietly approached the table, and mumbled that he was starving. My mother’s heart quickly sprang into action, offering him a couple of helpings of meatloaf, huge servings of mashed potatoes and risotto, and several slices of the tomato/mozzarella salad. He also got a spoonful of the cauliflower dish from another volunteer.The boy accepted everything gratefully, as they all do. Of course they may not like everything, but they’re not forced to eat it all. Later I did see the young man very discreetly throw out what remained on his plate, including the tomatoes and cheese. I felt for him as he stood at the  trash bin, seeming unsure as to whether or not he should discard the food given him. I think he did, finally. I’m glad. Just because he’s destitute, doesn’t mean he’s not free to still choose. My husband said he’d encountered the boy as he neared the hall. Standing outside until he could be useful, my husband informed the boy who asked what time it was, that, in fact, a meal was being served for any who desired to partake. My husband was also touched to see such a young person obviously in need of something to eat.

strawberry shortcake

Image by QuintanaRoo via Flickr

Late into the meal, a mother pushing a stroller arrived, accompanied by a younger relative carrying the baby. We had to scrape together what remained of the food, except for the salad of which there was lots left since I’d brought 3 platters. The latecomers seemed happy to be getting whatever they could. They, and the others, are a reminder that there are those who will eat anything, rather than have nothing whatsoever to eat.

As he did the last time we volunteered, my husband got to work scrubbing what serving dishes were emptied of food. Most had been cooked in disposable aluminum foil pans which were tossed, so there was less to clean up than before. As a result we left earlier than others who remained behind chatting. In taking our leave, we agreed that it was another evening well spent at the community hall. It felt especially good since we were celebrating Easter the following day. Feeding the hungry meant we were doing what Christ had done.

What Good Are These For So Many?

Image by andycoan via Flickr

giving to others…what we take for granted…hugmamma.  

“fudging” the truth to sell a book?

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

It’s heady stuff to be published, but downright phenomenal when a writer’s book lays the proverbial “golden egg.” Greg Mortenson seems to be the goose whose Three Cups of Tea was the egg that got laid. And as it turns out, it might have been really worth a “goose egg,” pun intended.

On Sunday evening, I watched CBS60 Minutes where journalist Jon Krakauer was featured as the man who brought down Mortenson’s “house of cards.” An early believer in the author’s tale, Krakauer eventually learned from a former boardmember of Mortenson’s charity, that all was not right with how it was being run. Furthermore the book itself is suspect because not all the details are based upon fact, or if they are, they did not occur as he described.

Greg Mortenson in Afghanistan 3500ppx

Image via Wikipedia

Three Cups of Tea tells how Mortenson lost his way in a mountain-climbing trip in Pakistan in 1993. He was with a companion who disputes the events as told in the book. According to the author, he was revived by the village people of Korphe. As a result of their compassionate efforts on his behalf, Mortenson decided to undertake the construction of schools for children in the area. He also tells of being kidnapped by the Taliban on a return trip. Photographs in the book show him in garb like the men who surround him. One picture even shows the author holding up a rifle. “Sixty Minutes” spoke with some of these supposed kidnappers, one being an Islamic intellectual who has himself penned many books. These men insist they are not Taliban, nor did they kidnap Mortenson. Rather they were enlisted to show him the surrounding countryside. It was his desire to build other schools for the children of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

While Krakauer does not detract from Mortenson’s initial humanitarian motives, the journalist takes issue with the author’s inability to justify the inaccuracies that have since surfaced. It seems Mortenson has used in excess of a million dollars of funds donated for his charity, the Central Asia Institute, to promote his book. Less than that amount has gone towards the Institute’s work. His accounting of the monies used is found lacking in specifics. Traveling from city to city for book-signings has sometimes occured via private jet. Meanwhile, the schools that were suppose to be built, have either not been constructed, or stand empty of any occupants. Others that are operating, have not received a penny from the charity in years.

Since the late-70s, 60 Minutes' opening featur...

Image via Wikipedia

Sixty Minutes’ Steve Croft was unsuccessful in getting Mortenson to speak on camera. He refused. He continued to maintain his silence when Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg of the Wall Street Journal sent an email asking for a comment for his article “Publisher Plans to Vet Memoir With Author.” On his charity’s website, Mortenson states that he is due to have “heart surgery later this week and when he recovers he will ‘come out fighting for what is right and just, and be able to talk to the media.’ ”

Meanwhile Mortenson’s publisher, Viking, maintains their praise of the author’s philantrophic efforts, but have registered their concerns saying that ” ’60 Minutes’ is a serious news organization.” So there could be a recall of the work, or the addition of an author’s note to later editions of the book. Krakauer who had donated $75,000 to the Central Asia Institute in its initial heyday, has now written his own lengthy account of Mortenson’s book, entitled Three Cups of Deceipt: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way.

On Forbes.com, writer Michael Humphrey covers the ongoing debate as to the facts of Mortenson’s book. After reviewing Mortenson’s mumbo-jumbo about the discrepancies put forth in the “60 Minutes” documentary, Humphrey sides with Krakauer’s rational dilineation of what really took place.

Mortenson abandoned his attempt on K2. He trekked down from the mountain in the company of three companions: his American friend and climbing partner Scott Darsney; his Balti porter, Mouzafer; and Darsney’s porter, Yakub. According to each of  these companions, the four men walked together into Askole, whereupon they immediately hired a jeep to take them to the city of Skardu, the district capital. When they drove out of the mountains, Darsney assured me, Mortenson “didn’t know Korphe existed.”

Krakauer’s book then deftly explains how Mortenson came to learn of Korphe a year later, rescinded a promise to build a school in Askole, invented the story of his Taliban abduction, and went on to found an organization that one former board treasurer says Mortenson considers “a personal ATM.”

And so Humphrey states:

In yesterday’s post, I was generous with Mortenson, a well-intentioned man who I thought might have lost his way as a storyteller and organizer. I thought with a good rebuttal, there was a ray of hope for his organization. Krakauer’s book dispels that notion.

power of the written word…opium for some…hugmamma.

Greg Mortenson signing books at the American L...

Image via Wikipedia

formerly homeless poets

Came across poems written by a couple of formerly homeless. I thought you’d enjoy their perspectives on life. Though their circumstances may differ from ours, their innermost thoughts and feelings can sometimes mirror our own. See what you think…

Music Dogs Love: While You Are Gone Released 2...

Image via Wikipedia

Why We Need More Pets than Shelters
by Cathie Buckner

Pets offer love without hoops to jump through.
They are accepting no matter how or to whom we pray.
They never tell us to go away.
They often give us joy and something to live for.
And never make us leave our stuff in the courtyard
where buzzards lurk to pluck it all up.

Music Cats Love: While You Are Gone Released 2...

Image via Wikipedia

They offer safety in all the unsafe places
and make us aware of devils in the dark blue.
They never turn their face or walk the other way.
They share the things we have and are satisfied.
They are always well-calming even when we feel out of control.
Never a tough tongue or bootstrap rap.
They love the way we smell even when there is no water to be found.
They keep us warm on long, lonely nights.
And they keep the rats at bay.

The Struggle
by Jesse Hayes

Time after time I find I’m drowning in a sea of despair
doubtfully I open up my eyes searching for a road that leads somewhere
when it seems that all hope is gone memory brings back to me what your love has done
so I’ll glory in all my tribulation knowing that it will make me strong
surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses
I’ll struggle until the race is won
I’ll struggle until the race is won
I’ll struggle until the race is won

Jesus with children, early 1900s Bible illustr...

Image via Wikipedia

Faith is being sure of what we hope for
certain of what we cannot see
when the trumpet sounds and Jesus comes to take us
I pray my faith will still abide in thee.

“same sky,” empowering women

Economically empower a woman—you change her, her family, her community, her country… and eventually, the social & economic fabric of the entire world.

On Inside Edition last night, not a program I usually sit and watch, more like I glance at the screen as I’m walking through the living room. When something is of interest though, I’ll sit on the edge of the closest chair. If it’s worth watching, I may settle in for a few minutes. Mention of “Same Sky,” an organization that helps empower the women of Rwanda caught my eye. So I gave my full attention to the broadcast.

In 1994, 800,000 Rwandans were massacred. During this genocide, women were enslaved as sex victims. As a result they were inflicted with the HIV virus. Bearing children, these new mothers were unable to care for their offspring because they suffered the effects of the disease. Filmmaker Francine Le Franc was moved to help these women help themselves, and their families. Le Franc began “Same Sky,” a cooperative wherein the women learned to crochet. With their newfound skill, they were able to make beaded jewelry. The necessary tools are shipped from the U.S., and the finished pieces shipped back for sale in retail stores, and at home parties, and trunk shows. 100%of the proceeds are put back into the business, thereby enabling more women the opportunity to participate.

Le Franc decided “Same Sky” was a befitting name for the business venture, because ALL women live under the same sky. “They see the same stars and the same moon. Every woman. One dream.” TV host Deborah Norville remarked, “And they’re sold for a profit. This is not a charity operation.” Le Franc added “It’s a trade initiative, not an aid initiative. It’s a hand up, not a hand out.”

Check out the SAME SKY website for further information, and see familiar faces, like those below, who have joined in supporting the cause. The jewelry may be a little pricey for most of us, but for an extra special gift, they might just work. Nonetheless, we can join in celebrating the self-liberating, empowerment of these women of Rwanda…hugmamma.

Halle Berry in Seafoam     

Goldie Hawn in Butterscotch and Jade Green

Ben Affleck in Men's Wrap

Katie Couric in Clear Sky

Ann Curry in Caviar

Chelsea Clinton in Seafoam

Fran Dresher in Fire Red

Meryl Streep in Starry Night

Queen Latifah in Chocolate Brownie

Jesse Jackson in Men's Wrap

Joan Collins in Fire Red and Starry Night

Geena Davis in Sky Blue

Donna Karen in Fire Red (photo by Joe Kohen/Getty Images)

“real change,” the homeless

While in Seattle yesterday I was lucky to find one of my favorite reads, a street newspaper. Since learning about this network of national, even global, homeless newspapers, I make it a point to seek out its vendors wherever I travel. Helping these people help themselves gives me great satisfaction. Giving money to individuals seems a more organic thing for me to do than putting a check in an envelope, addressed to an organization. I do some of that, but I so prefer pressing my money into the hand of someone whose smile blesses me in return.

In this week’s copy of Seattle’s “Real Change,” was the following article which warmed my heart, as I’m sure it will warm yours.

Vendor of the Week
Paulette Bade

Paulette Bade has an infectiously positive attitude. When I arrive to meet her, just past 8 a.m. on a chilly Monday morning, she’s already been selling the paper for over an hour. We can see our breath and the sidewalk where she’s selling is mostly quiet, but Paulette is all smiles. When she sees me, she exclaims that it’s so cold this morning she probably wouldn’t have shown up if she were me. I find it hard to believe; Paulette always shows up, 7 a.m., six days a week, without fail. She is happy to be selling a paper she believes in, talking with customers she knows and cares about, and saving money for her future.

Paulette has been selling Real Change outside the Whole Foods store at 64th and Roosevelt since the start of the new year, moving recently from her previous location at the QFC down the road. Luckily, staying in the same neighborhood, she’s been able to maintain a lot of her same customers–people who still stop by to visit with their favorite vendor and buy a paper once a week.

Image via Wikipedia

When she started selling the paper–in 1999, incredibly–it was only to make some extra cash. Her ambition soon swelled, though, and she now sells more than 300 papers each month. Starting out, Paulette had been homeless for close to eight months, staying in a local DESC shelter. She eventually moved into Nickelsville, the only place that would let her keep her two cats and where she met her current boyfriend. The four of them have since moved into an apartment near the store.

“Now I want to put money in the bank. I want to do better for myself,” she tells me. Paulette has been saving up her earnings from selling the paper in hopes of moving into a better home, somewhere where they can have more space and the two kitties can roam around.

As we talk, customers leaving the store or walking by greet Paulette like an old friend. They know her well, and she knows them. She points out customers to me, telling me who writes poetry and who buys the paper for the crossword puzzles. She loves this part of the job, even with the uncertainty that sometimes comes along with it.

“You never know from one day to the next how many you’re going to sell or how much you’re going to make,” she says. But even on slow days she powers through, reading the new issue each week, trying both to know her product and her community.

When I ask what her customers outside of Whole Foods mean to her, she is flushed with joy.

“I’m thankful to all my customers. I appreciate them just stopping by and saying ‘Hi.’ Their smiles make my day, everyday.”

written by Adrienne Brown

paulette’s teaching me about simplicity…and love… for all…hugmamma.

breast cancer, “reaching out”

A disease that has touched so many people, both victims and loved ones alike, breast cancer is like a magnet for human kindness. Family, friends, colleagues, women from all walks of life, have come face to face with an “enemy” that alters the world they knew, both those who survive and those who eventually succumb. And all who share their world are debilitated as well. So it is no wonder that these loved ones should lend their support in whatever way possible.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is possibly the largest, most visible vehicle  affording everyone an opportunity to donate to the fight against breast cancer. On our Mediterranean cruise this summer, I had occasion to witness Holland America Line’s efforts on behalf of the Foundation. Begun in 2007, every one of the Line’s cruises, 500 in all, conducts a 5K deck walk for all interested passengers. The entrance fee of $15 includes a t-shirt and a wrist band, both sporting the Susan G. Komen logo,  as well as an invitation to a Pink Lemonade Party after the event. The proceeds are donated to the cause. Although recurring tendonitis in my ankle kept me from the walk, I made the donation and along with other bystanders, cheered on the walkers. It was a festive, and worthwhile, occasion. Congrats to Holland America Lines, a corporation that cares. Many others have also joined the fight. Kudos to all of them!

My English friend recently learned that a beloved friend of hers since their younger years in the UK, discovered she had breast cancer. In her late 60’s or early 70’s, it was a shock. Three weeks after learning of it, surgery was done, and she is now preparing for chemotherapy. My friend, an avid knitter, quickly made a “prayer shawl,” and mailed it to Catherine, who is now never without it.

Not as large as an afghan, the shawl falls below the waist, wrapping about the shoulders. I can imagine the comfort it’s giving both friends, who feel connected by a tangible form of their mutual love for one another. I’ve asked my friend to teach my daughter and I how to replicate the shawl so that we might donate them to women in need of our comfort, and prayers. I was unable to pick up the intricacies of the craft when I attempted to learn before, but maybe this time my daughter will “get it” and help me. If all else fails, I might have to purchase the yarn and have my friend’s nimble fingers work their magic. Wish me luck!

A Wall Street Journal article, “How Hope Travels With a Wig,” mentions the saga of a “traveling” wig. Its most recent trip was to the home of 40-year-old Alicia Gaudio. A couple of weeks ago, the Mt. Kisco, N.Y attorney learned she had breast cancer. She had a mastectomy this past week, and will soon be undergoing chemotherapy. Considered a talisman for cancer survivors who have worn the wig over the course of the last 4 years, Ms. Gaudio, her husband and 2 young children, are hoping she will be returned to good health, like the women who have worn it before her.

“The gift–a stylish brown wig…will be delivered by Nicole Rowe, who wore it after she lost her own hair during breast-cancer treatment last year. ‘We call this the healing wig,’ Ms. Rowe, an optician, plans to tell Ms. Gaudio.” The owner of the wig, Vanessa Pacella, a psychotherapist in Wellington, Florida, paid $5,000 for it after she was diagnosed with the disease.  ” ‘When you wear this wig and look in the mirror, you see yourself as a healthy person…There’s a lot to be said for positive energy.’ ” Others who have worn the wig were all friends of Ms. Pacella’s, themselves cancer survivors.

Researchers have found that human beings through thousands of years of civilization, have assigned “mystical possibilities in amulets and talismans,” especially in times of crises.  ” ‘It’s not voodoo,’ says Barbara Stoberock, a researcher at the University of Cologne in Germany. ‘It can be explained. If you have a lucky charm, and believe it helps you, there’s a psychological mechanism. It lifts your beliefs in your own capabilities, and gives you a boost.'”

Jeffrey Zaslow, who wrote the article, explains that the wig can serve as a compass for the women who wear it, giving them a sense of direction when they feel lost. Knowing that others who have worn it and survived, can give those still in the trenches, their bearings once again. For those who have gone before, the wig has offered “a shared strength, and a path back to health.”

Before the wig is delivered to Ms. Gaudio by Ms. Rowe, she will have it washed and blow-dried at a local salon. She will also relay the message that the 3 previous wearers are well. Ms. Rowe will also share the following anecdote.

Last winter, after Ms. Rowe went through chemotherapy, she promised her 3-year-old son, Alex, that her hair would return when the leaves were back on the trees. The first time Alex saw her in the wig, he got excited. He ran to the window, and even though it was still winter, he shouted, ‘Mommy, I can see the leaves coming back on the trees!’

Ms. Rowe explains that the “wig’s magic reaches beyond those who’ve worn it…It helped her little boy imagine the possibilities of spring.” Through the magic of “reaching out,” Holland America Lines through its 5K deck walks, my girlfriend through her “prayer shawl,” and wearers of the “healing wig” through their shared strength, and so many others like them, continue to ensure that, “hope springs eternal.” 

for my sister, as she recovers, huge hugs…hugmamma.

good samaritan #7

Newman’s Own has celebrated a landmark contribution of $300 million to charity. It was reported by Brian Williams on NBC’s Evening News. I wasn’t aware that every penny is donated. While I may not have been a huge fan of Paul Newman’s films, liking some, but not others; I commend his generous nature of seemingly, unconditional compassion for the less fortunate.

In a clip from an interview with Newman, he said “What could be better than holding your hand out to someone in need?”  Newman identified a need, and signed on for life, even in death. I’ll bet he’d be even prouder of his philanthropic legacy, than the one he left behind on celluloid.

My husband, daughter and I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Newman’s eldest daughter Nell, and her husband once. I believe she’s inherited her dad’s position as head of Newman’s Own. They’d bought an antique pine cupboard from me, which was selling at a charming, antique shop in Wilton, Connecticut, where I rented a space, called Simply Country. They asked if I could deliver the piece, which, of course, I consented to do. Who wouldn’t? Even if I had to rent  a truck to haul the cupboard! Luckily, it fit in the Ford Windstar van we owned at the time.

The couple lived in a smallish, white cottage, on a huge, level, parcel of land. Most of it lay behind the house, which sat at the front of the property. Nell and her husband were warm and friendly, smiling and laughing easily. While our husbands carted the cupboard into the house, bringing it to rest in its designated spot, Nell and I made “small talk.” Wish I remembered about what. But I’m sure I admired her home, her furnishings, and asked after her parents. She told me they lived nearby. In fact, I knew where their house was located. In my regular treks in and around Westport, I’d seen the stone lions that guarded the iron gates to the actors’ acreage. I may have glimpsed the home when we drove slowly by once, but viewing was difficult, since it’s set back from the road aways.

I think we commented on the lovely, old trees gracing their yard, so we were taken around towards the back to see more of them. Hanging from a very  large  branch of one tree, was an old-fashioned, rope swing, with a wooden seat. While we adults continued to talk, our daughter made herself comfortable, swinging contentedly, back and forth.

When we took our leave, it wasn’t like old friends, but rather like folks who were very delighted to meet one another. Perhaps, it was that they, and we, rarely, if ever, get to know people from two such different “worlds.” In truth, they weren’t really so different from us. Nell’s parents would’ve been proud of how cordial and welcoming she was to strangers, just making a delivery.  

for the “star” and his offspring, hugs…hugmamma.