TNT

TNTThe Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training organization contacted me again this week. There is a part of me that almost outwardly groans “why can’t you leave me alone?” while another part of me thinks I really should reconsider another half marathon. I’ve already proved I can run five miles without issue. What’s another eight? Yeah, right. Eight point one. Tell that to my knee. Better yet, tell that to my husband! I’m sure either would love to hear that I could be saddling up for another 13 miler. No, I don’t’ think so. I’m seriously considering that Grand Canyon hike LLS mentioned earlier. I know I need to do something!

I ran Wednesday. Another four miles. I like four. It’s a good number. It’s a good number for my knees. This time my legs took me to a different cemetary and somewhere I haven’t been in a long time – the park. Running around Look was a blast from the past. It’s where I hurt my knee. It’s where I fell to earth. To ward off the demons I ran in the opposite direction of how I used to. I think I conquered the past pain. It felt good to glide around elderly couples holding hands and walking slow, past young mothers pushing strollers and gossiping, and giving dog walkers a wide berth. Ducks in the stream, parties at the picnic tables. It felt good period.


On the Side of Angels

I donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I donated but that doesn’t mean they are going to give up asking me for more. They shouldn’t.This week I got yet another Dear Friend letter and…note-cards, complete with envelopes. I think this is a guilt tactic. A subliminal “what do you think these note cards are worth and could you pay us that for sending them to you?” They are nice cards…but I didn’t ask for them. Maybe it’s a hint that I owe a few people some letters and I should get on my butt and write them.

Here’s what I want to say, “Dear SGKFTC, You are preaching to the choir. When you tell me the stats on breast cancer it’s something I already know. Cancer is something that scares the clear thinking out of me. You say my donation can make a difference but I don’t think it does. Why else would I get another Dear Friend so soon after my last check was sent?” I know exactly what you are going to say. We should never stop. I believe you. Cancer is killing someone you know right now. It starts in the breast, you fight the good fight and breathe a sigh of relief. It comes back in the hip, you fight the good fight and breathe a shaky sigh of relief. It shows itself in the jaw, you fight the good fight and breathe a troubled sigh of relief. Now it’s in the spine, you’re fighting the good fight and there is a sigh, but not of relief. The sigh comes from knowing cancer doesn’t give up. So. Neither should Komen. Neither should you. Donate today.


Hike For Discovery

Grand CanyonI swear the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society comes up with a different program every six months. This time it’s “Hike for Discovery.” They call it their “new fundraising adventure program.” It’s brilliant, really. Think about it. LLS is known for training people to run marathons, bike hundreds of miles, swim across tons of water. If all that feels a little intimidating here’s something for you – hiking! Sounds simple enough, right? Walking – putting one foot in front of the other. Here’s the event they are recruiting for and you tell me: The Grand Canyon. Yes, the G R A N D C A N Y O N! October 4-8. They cleverly don’t tell you how many miles you hike per day but let this be a potential lesson: you train beforehand. That should tell you something right there. You learn hiking techniques (besides putting one foot in front of the other), you receive a year membership in the American Hiking Society. There are clinics on first aid, hydration, and trail safety. They say nothing about snake bites specifically but that’s the first thing I thought of when I saw the words “Grand Canyon”…but, forget all that – I would have failed with the hydration part alone!

I would love to do this. It sounds hard. It sounds fun. Here’s what’s holding me back – the fund raising. I don’t think I could ask my friends and family for another two grand, despite the fact someone I love dearly is battling a blood related cancer right now. I’m too chick-chick-chicken to go through that again! So, if someone else signs up for this, let me know! I’ll donate something.


NARAL

NARAL Pro-Choice America came to me in a huge envelope with “priority documents” written all over it. Looking as official as can be they spelled my name wrong. Upon opening the oversized documents the first thing I read was, “No need for women to worry about making personal, private decisions about their bodies. Do YOU want men like these deciding for all women?” and below was a picture of George W. Bush and his cronies. Supposedly, he is caught in the act of signing into the law the first-ever Federal Abortion Ban. He has a smirk on his face.
On the back of the envelope is a fake handwritten note asking me to please help protect reproductive freedom by signing the enclosed petition. I hate that fake, crayon-scrawled, made-to-look-like-my-friend, personal propaganda. They further irritated me by circling my donation bracket, as if I couldn’t decide the dollar amount for myself and could possibly make the wrong choice. Any money I chose to donate should be good enough, but no – they have to tell me what they want me to give. That set the tone for me to ignore the three pre-written petitions to Kennedy, Kerry & Neal on behalf on NARAL. I couldn’t even bear to read the four page “letter” from Nancy Keenan on the matter. NARAL tried to appeal to my sense of womanhood yet they failed to appeal to my sense of intellect. I couldn’t even figure out from the literature I received what NARAL stands for. Going to the website wasn’t that much clearer.

For more information visit NARAL here.


Buddhist Peace Fellowship

BPFThis is what I get for subscribing to magazines such as Yoga Journal and Tricycle. I start getting literature proclaiming, “wisdom and compassion for social change.” Such is the case with the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Sent on a baby blue trifold pamphlet, BPF outlined their vision (people from all backgrounds realizing their connection to each other and to the Earth – I’ve paraphrased it). Also included in the literature was information on BASE: Buddhist Alliance for Social Engagement, the Transformative Justice Program, the Young Adult Program, the Prison Program, and Turning Wheel (a spiritual publication). There’s information on how to get involved, how to send money, how to be in contact. The letter startsoff, “Dear Friend…” from Maia Duerr, Executive Director. How she knows I’m a friend I’ll never know, but I’m looking into it.

 For more information on the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, go here.


PLAN

About SchmidtThey call it ‘Plan’ but it’s a charity all about sponsoring impoverished children (my first thought was something like Planned Parenthood). Founded in 1937 Plan is the oldest and largest organization dedicated to caring for children in poorer countries (not limited to third world as one might assume). They techinically are a “private, not for profit, nonsectarian organization”, meaning you can view annual reports they publish openly.

The thing that caught my attention about Plan is their advocation of the movie About Schmidt. Played by Jack Nicholson, Schmidt is a miserable man who only pretends to be happy for the good of everyone around him. He goes through life taking himself for granted. Only through the sponsorship of a Plan child does Schmidt learn what an impact he can have on another human being. The movie is at once depressing and thought provoking and I wouldn’t have seen it without the endorsement of Plan.

For more information about sponsoring an impoverished child, go here.


American Diabetes Association…again

The American Diabetes Association sent me yet another mailing. The third since January 1, 2007. That means three nickels, three “dear friend” letters, three sheets of address labels. Speaking of the address labels, my real friends could take one look at them and know they aren’t my style. These labels don’t prompt me to donate. Colorful pumps and mules, flowery hats, pink and plump purses. Bright colors and cartoonish, I don’t feel compelled to donate based on getting them.
Yet, I feel bad. My mother was just warning my sister and me about limiting our sugar intake because of our family history. Diabetes is in the jeans and not just the back pocket. Still, I feel pressured because of the multiple mailings. Maybe that was their plan all along. Tricky.
They say every nickel counts yet they keep sending them to me.


Chuck Lelas Memorial

chuckIt dawned on me in the middle of my lasagna that the Chuck Lelas Memorial 10k walk/run is next month almost to the day. I haven’t run an inch since March…early March. If you do the math, a 10k isn’t a stroll in the park. It’s over six freakin’ miles. That’s many, many, many inches.

The background (my background) on the CLM walk/run is this. My friend S asked me to walk it with her two years ago. I think we came in dead last. At least, after we crossed the finish line they shut the clock off…what does that tell you? No matter. We were having too good of a time gabbing to really worry about PRs and beating the clock (as if!). I skipped last year’s walk due to a little 13.1 miler I was running for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, but this year I’m back…and stressing about half that distance.

Briefly, the Chuck Lelas Memorial Walk/Run is dubbed the “You Gotta Have Heart” event and this marks the 4th year of it’s existence. The money goes for scholarships in Chuck’s name. My personal tie to this charity event? S and the fact that Chuck was a coach where I work.
For more information go here. In the meantime, I’m off the to the gym!


Komen for the Cure

Susan KomenOkay, so the whole charity name is Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The name change is to show their commitment to fighting breast cancer. Okay. I can understand the need for new energy. Just last week I watched a CNN program on how cancer research hasn’t progressed very much. Oh sure, we’re learning all the different ways cancer can crop up. It seems like everything these days “causes cancer.” But, we’re not researching the hot ticket – the real reason why people die from cancer. According to Lance Armstrong we need to focus more on why and how a cancer spreads – metastasizes. If that’s where Komen for the Cure is headed then good for them.
In this particular packet they sent me a membership card. I’m not sure how to take that. It’s not like a diner’s card that gets me special privileges.  Card carrying for cancer – what a concept.

ps~ I met a man who says his wife works for the “other” breast cancer foundation and I shouldn’t mention Komen in her presence. Has the work gone mad? Shouldn’t they be working towards the same thing instead of against each other? Well, I guess that’s corporate America for you – we compete even when it comes to cures for cancer.


Medicins Sans Frontiers Thank You

MSFMedicins Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders sent me two mailings back to back. Instantly I thought of that saying, “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing” because in one envelope they were asking for donations. In the second, they were thanking me for the January 2007 donation I had given. I guess in their minds their work is never done, therefore mine shouldn’t be either. After all, I did say it is my favorite charity.
In the thank you packet they sent me a poster outlining the progress they have made from 1971 to present. A black and white photo of a small child receiving medical attention is framed by a timeline of important historical events in the existence of DWB. The poster’s title is in white, “Independence. Impartiality. Commitment. From 1971 to today.” I hung it on my filing cabinet in my office. I face those words every day.

In the “You can do more” letter DWB described the effects of cholera on Zambia’s capital of Lusaka. It’s a small message but powerful just the same. Look at what we still face, even today.
I think of the volunteers of MSF/DWB as angels on earth. When a friend casually said, “my dentist used to do that – for several months a year” I instantly wanted to meet this tooth guy…until I learned he was killed by a stray bullet while trying to remove plaque from a child’s mouth. Again, look at what we STILL face, even today.


Peta

Peta = People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.Peta

Yesterday they sent me a survey. Stuck to the survey was a fake sticky note from “Ingrid.” Designed to look like a last minute message in blue “friendly” font it read, “you have been chosen to take part in a critical national referendum. Please read this ballot and return it within 10 days. Ingrid” Thanks, Ingrid. The wiseazz in me wants to send the survey back blank with a sticky that reads, “Ingrid, I followed your instructions to the letter. I read the ballot and am sending it back.” But, I can’t do that. I can’t be that sarcastic to an organization I admire.
Back in the day my favorite place to shop for bath products was the Body Shop. I liked the “this product was not tested on animals” sticker on every bottle. I liked that it was a grass roots organization that fostered trade with third world countries. Recycled bottles, handmade Tibetan paper, banana hair masks. It all seemed so back-to-basics good, earthy and wholesome. Until I learned they sold out and the company went corporate. I didn’t trust the labels anymore.
I think I’m schizophrenic because I don’t wear fur, yet I eat meat. And when it comes to testing on animals I like to play devil’s advocate. We want scientific advances for evil things like cancer. We want cures that are 100%. We need to be able to test our scientific breakthroughs to make sure they really do work. I know testing on animals is cruel, but would you rather they strap down your 80 year old blind grandpa? What the hey, he’s gonna die anyway. Save the puppy! Grandpa a bit much? How about testing on your two year old instead!

Okay. I know I being cruel. There’s a commerical running right now about protecting animals against cruelty and everytime I see it my heart breaks. I want to run out and adopt every abused animal out there. But, researchers are caught between a rock and a hard place. I honestly don’t believe testing on cute and fuzzies happens because they’re all Dahmers inside. Yes, we are learning more about testing on cultures of human cells and the organs of donors but if you were dying of cancer would you trust this babynew research?
But, that’s only one side of the story. If researchers are testing for allergens to cosmetics, cleaning products or even worse, military warfare I am dead set against using animals. Go find the Dahmers of society and put them to good use. Seriously.

ps~ True to nonprofit form Peta sent me mailing labels and asked me to donate.
For more information about Peta, go here.


International Campaign for Tibet

TibetI haven’t been keeping track of the charities that have contacted me but I always notice when the International Campaign for Tibet packet arrives. They always send a string of Tibetan prayer flags that are so colorful and beautiful that I can barely bear to throw them out. Maybe it’s because they are handmade. Maybe because I know paper like this is someone’s livelihood. Whatever the reason I’ve kept three strings of flags so far.
Also included in my packet from ICT is a “letter” from the Dalai Lama. I’m called “friend.” I think I would be a better friend if I write to Richard Gere, Chairman of the Board of Directors, to voice my outrage over China’s behavior. ITC even writes me the letter, the “urgent reply memo,” that all I have to do is sign for the “Mobilization of Tibet.” It goes to the State Department and Ms. Condoleezza herself…

I do believe the poeple of Tibet have a right to maintain their spiritual culture and/or religion.
I do believe any threat to a culture and/or religion is an affront to all.


Arthritis Foundation

Arthritis foundationI realize I just had a birthday, and I’m this side of 40, and I found another gray hair, and doctors have said I have “age issues” with my hips…but am I ready to be a member of the Arthritis Foundation? Am I ready to subscribe to Arthritis Today Magazine? The Foundation invited me this week. They plied me with the Drug Guide, the aforementioned magazine, access to a toll-free automated information hot-line (read: no human interaction; probably why it’s free), discounts on books & videos from the Foundation, and “arthritis specialist referral lists” (Wouldn’t my own doctor be the one to point me in the direction of a specialist?). They were even nice enough to send me a temporary membership card with the statement, “We Can Help!” Help with what? I realize arthritis is not strictly a geriatric problem. I know people younger than myself who are practically using walkers because their knees or hips are so bad. I know I’m not that far off considering my PT casually mentioned “replacement” the last time I stretched my hip for him, but I didn’t donate just the same.

To learn more about the Arthritis Foundation, go here.


American Diabetes Association

diabetes

They are the eighth charity to contact me this year. The American Diabetes Association sent me a nickel. At first I thought it was fake because it was one of those head’s on sideways “new” nickels. I’m not sure what to do with it. ADA never really explain why they sent the nickel, but they are careful to tell me they do want it back…if I can’t afford to make a bigger donation. The American Diabetes Association is a lot like other charities – certain monies go for research, education & support. Their goal is to reach every American who is possibly affected by the disease.

I’ll donate because I know diabetes. Not personally, but we have acquaintances. We’ve met through others, unfortunately. I’ve watched the ravages of this disease – obesity, blindness, kidney failure, to name a few.

I sat with her through dialysis. She lay lost in layers of blankets, propped in a royal blue recliner like Henry on a Football Sunday. She complained of being cold, blue veins puffy under the surface of her bony hands.  A nurse guided shaky fingers to the nest of wires in her lap, “hold these. They’ll be warm.” Of course they would, 98.6 F warmer to be exact. Her own blood through the wires; warmer than the air, warming her hands.

I don’t know how many treatments she went through before she died.  Years later I went to see her husband in the exact same hospital. Walking by the room with that royal blue recliner I could help but wonder if she wasn’t warmer now. I hope so.


Susan G. Komen

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (Dallas, TX) has the coolest helpline phone number; one that I have never forgotten. “1-800 I’m Aware” Aware. Yes, I am.RibbonRed Sox

The letter arrived in Monday’s mail. I wasn’t solicited for a donation. I wasn’t asked to hang a plastic HowTo in my shower. I wasn’t even thanked for my donation for 2006 even though I give every year. Instead, the Susan G. Komen Foundation sparked my imagination. They sent me an info sheet on The Foundation’s signature event, the Komen Race for the Cure Series. Imagination led to inspiration and I went to their website; started scoping out a few doables, looking for lovely locations. Really, I think this is what I’ve needed. I’ve been hungry for another Something Good. Something More. If I play my cards right (and legs, haha)…

 This might, just might be it.