Look at these gorgeous frames for my book covers! I just received them from a friend and I’m completely in love with them.
Speaking of books…
It’s been a while since my last book but trust me…it’s for a good reason. In the Oath Series conclusion, there’s been a lot going on around Tulsa…and it’s not all good.
Maddy’s having trouble sleeping, she’s experiencing vivid dreams that make no sense. But she can’t afford to be tired right now, if she makes a mistake…lives could be at stake.
Ashton keeps sneaking off somewhere—she’s definitely up to something, but what?
Gideon’s frustrated, he’s been researching to find a way to protect a creature he can’t even see…but despite spending countless hours in the bookstore, he’s not making any progress.
Mirabella’s not quite recovered from her last adventure and she’s still mourning the loss of a dear friend.
Well, he’s got his own secrets.
They can all feel it…something’s in the air.
Something potent and dangerous.
A cataclysmic event is about to happen
and no one’s quite ready...
I'm really excited about the conclusion to the series (and already thinking about what comes next!)
I've got a little polishing left to do on the manuscript and then it goes out to some early readers.
With fingers crossed, it will be out by this spring!
Thanks for all the support!!
Here's the link to Amazon to see the previous books....
When did shopping become a form of entertainment?
And when did it become ok to discard an outfit after wearing it only one day?
Well, let me tell you...
In the 1800’s, if you wanted clothing...somebody was going to have to grow the cotton and weave the cloth--and that took time!
It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution and the creation of a sewing machine that clothing could be produced with more speed. And while that sounded like a good idea...that’s when sweat shops emerged. Workers were faced with long hours and deplorable conditions. Fortunately, labor laws were created that prevent this from happening in the USA.
In the 1990’s, another big change occurred.
We became a throw-away culture for the clothing we bought.
It all started when the clothing store Zara came to New York in 1990. According to a New York Times article, it was the first place to offer “fast fashion”.
Now this is what I used to think fast fashion meant...
According to the dictionary, fast fashion is actually “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass market retailers in response to the latest fashion trends”.
Zara’s mission was to move a fashion from the designer’s brain to a store rack in a mere 15 days. The emphasis was keeping these trends affordable... or as one writer stated, creating the ‘democratization of fashion’. Now, for a relatively inexpensive cost, anyone could wear clothing similar to the top designers.
It sounds like a good idea, right?
Seriously, the cost of clothing is actually going down with the passage of time instead of up--like everything else!
One article said that in 1901, clothing made up 14% of the budget. In 1960, that number dropped to 10.4% and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013 that number dropped to 3.1%.
At this rate, pretty soon, our clothing could be free....
One quote I read was "Fast fashion isn't free. Someone, somewhere is paying."
Obviously, it’s the workers who are slapping these outfits together in record time.
After all, you may think that there’s only 4 seasons but when it comes to shopping...there’s 52 micro-seasons. (I had no idea, did you?) Stores like H&M, Forever 21, Top Shop come out with a new collection every week.
They copy a trend and produce it quickly with low quality materials.
What’s the harm with that?
In 2013, in Bangladesh a clothing manufacturing complex collapsed and killed over a thousand workers—drawing attention to these businesses that are not putting safety into their business model equation.
My favorite quote was from Orsola de Castro (Co-founder of Fashion Revolution Day):
Demand quality, not just in the products you buy, but in the life of the person who made it.
Maybe it's hard to relate to someone on the other side of the world. But you might be paying too...
With your health.
The Center for Environmental Health expressed concerns about lead contaminated purses, belts and shoes and their possible role in causing infertility.
Did we think we could just ignore the toxic dyes and chemicals used in the manufacture of these products and that our bodies...and our environment won’t be impacted?
Can we talk abut happens when we dispose of those outfits?
Maybe you don’t realize how much we’re throwing away.
In 2017, in the United Kingdom, 235 million pieces of clothing went to the landfills.
The population is only 66 million.
The US contributes 11 million tons to our landfills...approximately 80 pounds per person!
Fashion is the 2nd largest polluter of clean water.
Polyester is made from fossil fuels. Tiny microfibers shed and leave plastics in our ocean.
Pesticides get in our ground water from farms that grow cotton.
And we keep making more and more and more.
It’s okay as long as you don’t throw it away, right?
You just need to donate it!
Did you know that less than 50% of donated clothing makes it to another home to be worn?
Most of it goes to landfills and incinerators.
And don't even think about composting our clothing. Those bleaches, dyes and chemicals leach into our groundwater.
Even the third world countries who used to accept our used clothing...are no longer interested. Kenya, Pakistan, Malaysia....all refuse to accept any more of our throw-aways.
So if these cheap (but very fashionable) outfits are bad for our health and our world...what can we do?
Ask yourself a question....
Am I buying this to make me happy today or...
Is this something I can use for years?
buy less, choose well, make it last--British designer Vivienne Woodward.
Whose idea was it to make New Year's resolutions?
One third of people admit they’ve set an unrealistic goal, one third don’t keep track of what they wanted to accomplish and 20% simply eventually forget about the whole thing.
It sounds like a good idea…
The most common goals are: losing weight, exercising more, quitting cigarettes, get out of debt, getting a better job, learning a foreign language, spending more time with family/friend and less time on social media.
All worthy goals.
One writer said that his mom’s goal was the same each year…she resolved to wake up each morning, say a prayer, take a deep breath, and face the day ready to do the best she could do with whatever happened.
I liked that.
But who started it?
According to Wikipedia, the Babylonians were the first to make promises to their gods at the start of each year around 4,000 years ago.
The Romans continued the tradition. That is, after Julius Caesar actually established January 1st as the first day of the new year. January is named after the god Janus, a two-faced god whose spirit looked to both the present and the past. Interestingly, he was often associated with both peace…and war. Definitely, two-faced.
Early Christians took the first day of the year to think about their past mistakes and resolve to do better.
But my favorite story related to New Years resolution custom is the Peacock Vow.
In medieval times, peacocks were regarded as noble and their appearance harkened to the majesty of a king with his full court. A diet of peacock meat was considered favorable for both heartsick lovers and valiant knights.
My guess is that you either had to be desperate or out to prove something because one source said “the peacock was used in medieval feasts for its symbolic reputation and beauty and was not served as a delectable treat; the meat itself was considered tough and stringy” and “geese are appropriate substitutes due to their size, with meat far more pleasing.”
On the appointed day, the roasted bird would have its plumage restored and it would be placed on a large tray of gold or silver. With great pomp, it would be carried into a banquet hall and presented to each knight in attendance.
The medieval knight would place their hands on the peacock and recommit themselves to the ideals of chivalry. The meat would then be divided up to account for all that was present.
What is chivalry anyway?
According to the dictionary, chivalry is the qualities you would expect in an ideal knight. Traits such as courage, honor, justice and a readiness to help the weak.
I’ve got my New Year's Resolutions for 2019.
Number one: Take a Peacock Vow.
Number two: Eat less meat. (starting with peacock)
I’m not the only one that thinks chivalry is a timeless concept.
Take a look at the website for Chivalry today.
Don’t just talk chivalry.
It all started with my friend’s fascination with The Great British Baking Show. Amateur bakers compete making cakes, breads, pastries…and they do it in an iconic white tent in the middle of a rolling English countryside. Kinda weird, right?
Watching the show is entertaining but it can also be a nail-biting experience waiting to see if Mary Berry or Paul Hollywood (I swear I didn’t make those names up) find the results of the contestant’s intense labors acceptable or not. It doesn’t take long to realize that a soggy bottom (an undercooked pastry pie base) is a dreaded condition to be avoided at all costs.
I’m pretty bad at baking. That’s a hard thing to admit since I’m a firm believer that if you practice something…anything…you can excel at it. Unless, in my case, it involves yeast…or baking soda.
When my friend wanted to try the recipes from the show, I balked. These recipes are not for the casual cook. We negotiated. The first time, I made French onion soup (don’t bother looking it up, it’s not from the show) and she made a technically challenging dessert. The second time, I made homemade pretzels (which is from the show and actually quite fun to make) and she picked another technically challenging dessert.
The truth was, I wasn’t working nearly as hard as my friend was. It’s intimidating. True bakers have to take every thing into consideration…the room temperature, the humidity, good ventilation, quality ingredients. I was just there to have fun.
Until my son-in- law suggested that we have a British Baking Show Christmas.
That’s when it got serious.
Within moments of discovering the goal for this year’s Christmas, my friend emailed me at least a dozen possible recipes she’d researched from five seasons of shows. I pulled each one up and examined it critically…well, I looked at the pictures. I picked Ruby’s ‘Fit for a Queen’ Pie because it was clearly the prettiest. Yes, I know, I should have put more thought in my selection.
My friend and I planned a trial run. Frozen pizza is my typical emergency back up but the stakes were high—this was Christmas dinner (Ruby's pie is a savory pie not a sweet pie) A trial baking session was in order.
I almost panicked out when I actually read the instructions:
Hands-on time: 1 hour 45 mins
Baking time: 1 hour 30 mins
Skill level: needs skill.
I was at the starting line for a marathon and I’d only practiced jogging around the block. I had lots of questions…like why was I doing this? We laid out the ingredients and came up with a plan… I would take on the curry chicken filling.
Fortunately, we had Google…
How to convert grams to cups.
How to remove husks from cardamom pods.
What is tomato purée? Is that the same as tomato paste?
The recipe called for all types of interesting spices like cumin, cardamon, coriander and cinnamon. And star anise. Which I didn’t know existed and wins the coolest spice award. Not only does it look exactly like a star but it holds the vital ingredient for the flu-fighting drug—Tamiflu.
I was instructed to put the spices into a mini food processor and ‘blitz’ them together. I had a miniature food processor once…it looked like something that belonged in my daughter’s doll house. And when you turned it on…the machine emitted an angry high-pitched whine that sounded like a swarm of angry hornets. I got rid of it pretty fast.
I used a mortar and pestle instead. It’s quite satisfying to grind spices together, to crush them into an aromatic powder. The scent wafts up, hits your nose, and you get a sense of belonging in the kitchen. I was in my element. I added onions and chicken to a pan simmering with my homemade curry.
My friend made the turmeric pie crust (also the technically challenging part of the recipe). That’s all I know. I was busy making the meat filling. Looking back, I should have made the crust so I would learn something from the experience. I didn’t even pay attention to what she was doing until she was ready to roll it out.
The instructions required a 30cm circle that was 2.5mm thick. I wasn’t used to such precision but she managed to make it happen. And then she rolled another circle to create the top and attached the two pieces together. We popped it into the oven and chatted about the odds that this would turn out.
All together, it took us four hours. For those of you quick in math, that’s 45 minutes longer than the estimate. But not bad for someone who came to the table without skill.
The curry flavored chicken was great, the dough baked to a lovely golden color and ….no soggy bottom!
I was flying high and anticipating success for Christmas.
Perhaps I was cocky but I decided to throw caution to the wind and bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
I’m not sure exactly what I did wrong.
I bought everything on the ingredient list, checked it twice and followed the very simple instructions on the chocolate chip cookies bag. Somehow the dough succumbed to what must’ve been a higher gravitational force in my oven. Despite baking for the correct temperature and suggested time, the dough spread out in the pan and formed a uni-cookie.
You know how dog vomit looks wet and chunky and has unidentified particles? Yeah…that’s what my cookie looked like. Yum. My husband took one look and offered to buy the desserts. (Ever since that day, in conversations with friends and family, he refers to the event as the “epic cookie fail”).
My confidence was gone.
I did a forensic analysis of the cookie failure. I’m pretty sure it was the flour. The label said ‘Enriched Unbleached Flour’ and under that it said ‘wheat flour’ (which I thought was redundant since flour is made by grinding wheat, right?)
I tried to break it down.
Enriched meant the added niacin and riboflavin. Extra vitamins… no harm there.
Unbleached. I was never sure why flour was bleached in the first place…do we really want all of our food to be white? It sounded a lot healthier to get unbleached. But that might have been a problem. One quote said “many consider bleached flour ideal for cakes and pie crusts…the reality is that the differences how these flours bake are quite subtle.” Hmm, I’m not sure that’s true.
Maybe it was the Wheat part. Was this flour a whole-wheat flour or not? I don’t know.
To be honest, I don’t remember having so many types of flour in the past. Cake, pastry, bread, self-rising, whole wheat, gluten free….
00 flour (which sounds like something a secret agent would know about) is used for pasta and thin crusted pizza. It’s the finest grade of flour, like baby powder in consistency. Fascinating, right?
There’s more…rye, spelt (which I thought was a fish), buckwheat, barley, oat, Amaranth (which I thought was a city from the Bible). Lastly… plain flour. That’s the one I was supposed to have for my recipe. Which, according to Google, is pretty close to all purpose flour.
My husband was not exactly supportive when I asked him to go to the store to buy more flour. He shuddered. “You’re not going to make cookies again are you?”
And then he tried pleading with me, “I told you I would take care of the desserts. You don’t need to do this.” It wasn’t until I told him that the flour was for the Ruby’s ‘Fit for a Queen’ pie that he agreed to buy the stuff.
The recipe was complicated, I thought it was smart to divide it into two days. On the first day, I made the meat filling. The house smell like curry and success.
On the second day, I was careful to follow the instructions for the dough and was ecstatic when I rolled out the bottom section into the required circle. It was as I was admiring the round shape that I remembered to pull out the meat filling I’d stored in the fridge.
Somehow, overnight, the meat that I’d cooked had developed a sauce. My curry chicken was bathed in a liquid and the instructions were quite clear on this point. It was supposed to be a dry filling.
You can guess what would happen if it was too wet…that’s right…a soggy bottom. I strained the meat mixture in a colander over the sink.
Don’t tell anyone.
Finally, I assembled the top crust, poked the appropriate holes and placed the whole, beautiful, egg-washed creation in the oven.
The pastry crust baked up to a golden color and then, too quickly, started to brown around the edges. After getting some advice via text, I covered the top with tin foil and said a little prayer that my bottom crust wasn’t too thin, that I didn’t overwork the dough (a cardinal sin), and most importantly, that the crust would not dry out too much…crack…and release the curry chicken contents like a belching volcano.
Against all odds, it worked.
There’s a lot of pressure to be happy around holidays. Expectations of being jolly, content, merry, blissfully happy…
But it’s not possible for everyone. Not every year.
If you’re one of those people, I hope that you realize that this is only one episode in your life and trust me…there will be others. Award-winning seasons where your crust is flaky, your frosting is like velvet and your muffins tops puff with pride.
I wish I could give you a hug. I wish I could give you a slice….
Ruby's 'Fit for a Queen' pie!
Reginald Kenneth Dwight born in Pinner, England on March 25, 1947. Even at an early age, he knew he loved music. After listening to Elvis Presley, he decided he wanted to become a musician too.
With the help of a scholarship, he entered the Royal Academy of Music at age eleven. Even though his father considered a career in music an outrageous and unacceptable choice- he would not be swayed.
He worked as a pianist in a pub, formed bands with friends and performed solo at local hotels. By 1962, he signed with Dick James Music, the same publisher utilized by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. In 1970, he released what would become his first top track, “Your Song.”
On December 6th, 1971 Ryan White was born. He had hemophilia—which means that he’s at risk for life-threatening internal bleeding. His transfusions of factor 8, the treatment for hemophilia, are from pools of donor blood.
Reginald was clearly talented, but there was a problem of image. He was slightly pudgy and his hair seemed to take on a life of its own. He needed a way to compete with the handsome rock stars of the time.
So he changed his name…his apparel..and his glasses. On May 7th, 1972 Reginald Kenneth Dwight became Elton Hercules John.
He’s always been good at the piano but he wants something to make him memorable. Elton dons coats with sequined labels and pearl embellishments, wears shiny track suits and silk kimonos. And he picks out wacky glasses, lots of them.
The costumes do the job…he’s remembered.
By the late 1970’s the HIV epidemic has started. It is believed to have originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a virus transmitted from chimpanzees to humans.
Elton John rises to fame with songs like: Levon, Rocket Man, Tiny Dancer, Crocodile Rock, Daniel, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Bennie and the Jets…really, I could go on for a long time but you get the idea.
HIV has spread to 5 continents by 1980 and that includes North America. By 1981, a rare lung infection called Pneumocystis cabrini pneumonia is diagnosed in five gay men in Los Angeles and gay men in New York and California were coming down with an aggressive cancer called Kaposi’s Sarcoma. By the end of 1981, 121 gay men died as a result of their severe immune deficiency.
By 1982, the CDC uses the term AIDS (Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Ryan White is diagnosed in 1984. By this point, 3,665 people have already died.
Ryan is forbidden to return to middle school due to fears that the deadly virus could be transmitted by casual contact. Ryan loses his newspaper route when no one wants to touch the papers that he’s delivering. The little boy is shunned and taunted for an infection that will ultimately kill him.
The news displays dramatic photos of the afflicted men. Their deep sunken eyes and emaciation are reminiscent of Holocaust victims. Their demise appears imminent... and the fear of this infection becomes wide-spread.
Elton John achieves fame but finds that it doesn’t fulfill him in the manner he expected. He suffers from depression and his life soon revolves around drugs and alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate.
Without intending to, Ryan becomes a spokesperson for the AID epidemic. While some churches were declaring that AIDS was God’s curse on the homosexual life and IV drug abusers, Ryan disagreed saying that "AIDS is an infectious disease, nothing more, and it had the power to infect and harm any human being unfortunate enough to have contracted it.” Ryan White is successful in shifting the public’s perception about AIDS, he fought back against the discrimination and hatred with patience and grace.
Elton John noticed what was happening.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Elton John’s excessive lifestyle put him at considerable risk for AIDS but ultimately, he was spared and instead an innocent boy...who just wanted to go back to his school and classmates, was infected.
Elton John was moved by Ryan’s attempts to educate about AIDS and desire to fix the national blood supply so that it was adequately screened for the virus. (One doctor who treated hemophilia stated that he lost every single one of his patients to AIDS during the epidemic) He reached out to Ryan and his mother, arranging private tours and a trip to Disneyland. Elton John consider Ryan White his friend.
In 1987, Elton John abandoned his wild and flamboyant lifestyle (but not his wardrobe!)
On April 8, 1990, Ryan White dies of AIDS…with Elton John at his side. Shortly after, Elton checked into a rehab center for alcohol, substance abuse and bulimia.
Elton John established the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992. It raises 400 million dollars to prevent future infections and provide treatments for those affected.
In 2010, Elton John writes a letter to the dead little boy who inspired him to change his life.
I once heard a woman describe an experience that happened to her as she waited in the drive-through line at Starbucks. She’d placed her order, pulled out her purse to find the exact change and then failed to notice that the car in front of her had moved forward.
The car behind her certainly noticed.
The lady leaned heavily into her car horn. When the woman looked behind her to figure out what was going on...it was clear that the lady was absolutely furious. Over coffee?
When I think about how I would’ve responded in that situation, many ideas went through my mind.
But, not this.
Through the rear view mirror, that woman watched the crazy lady as she screamed and waved her arms. And then she came to a decision. She put away the change she'd carefully sorted through and pulled out her credit card. When it was her turn, she paid for the crazy lady's order. Here's why...
She knew that the lady was having a bad day. More likely a hellish...water pipe broke, husband lost his job and the teacher wants to chat about a behavior problem...and I can't even get a frickin' cup of coffee...kinda of day.
We've all had them.
But this woman did something epic and wonderful...she showed compassion to a crazy lady.
Here's my goal.
I want to be more generous with my love.
I want to smile at grumpy people.
Compliment busy waitresses.
Be patient with a harried customer service reps.
Look harder to see someone's heart.
Before I tell you... let me tell you about this particular box.
I found it when I was in college. It wasn’t much to look at but it was cheap and sturdy. My dad volunteered to see if he could clean it up a bit. He loved tinkering in the garage on ‘projects’.
The box was perfect for storing something that I didn't want broken but I was reluctant to use it until my dad finished with it. It just didn't seem fitting. But, after he sanded and stained the wood, it was impossible to see what the original purpose of the heavy box was...
The box is the perfect size to hold my nativity set.
Each year I wrap the individual pieces up and tuck them away for safe keeping.
Each year, I think of my dad and all the little things he used to do for me...slipping me a twenty for gas money, checking the air pressure in my tires...cooking an extra chicken on the grill for me to take home.
Back to what the box used to be...
It used to be an ammunition box.
It stored bullets designed to maim and kill....now it holds the symbol of forgiveness.
Last year, my family made the decision to not exchange Christmas gifts any longer.
I was pretty nervous about it...aren't presents the very definition of Christmas?
So I've spend most of the year thinking about how to replace this custom.
I've been trying to come up with something fabulous.
A helicopter ride?
Fancy dinner downtown?
Something that will appeal to everyone.
A Christmas play?
It was stressing me out.
Which is exactly what we were trying to avoid when we made this decision.
So I gave up making any plans.
And that felt incredibly right.
Here's what won't happen this year.
My son won't spend half of a day doing his last minute shopping during the short time that he's visiting.
My daughter won't arrive looking anxious as she tries to please both sides of her new family and attend all planned events.
We’ll cook... drink... watch Christmas shows and we’ll talk.
And I can’t wait.
Recently, when my son was in town I went to the George Bush Presidential Library. Right there amongst the documents from diplomats and gifts from visiting dignitaries was a letter from Bono to President Bush.
For those of you that don’t know, Bono is the lead singer in a little band called U2, otherwise known—in my husband’s opinion—as the greatest band on earth.
I had to know more…so I started reading up on how this relationship began. I’m going to explain it with a timeline.
UNICEF puts out a report that states 5.4 million people were newly infected in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. Over 2.8 million people died the previous year.
Billy Graham begins to mobilize evangelicals in the US to address the HIV/AIDS problem.
Republicans were skeptical about foreign aid to Africa and felt like Africa should handle their own problems.
Colin Power, the Secretary of State, had other concerns. He believed that the AIDS epidemic would wipe out an entire child-bearing population, leaving behind instability and a climate ripe for terrorism. He didn’t consider this a health crisis…but a National Security crisis.
Bono’s popularity increases and he’s on the cover of Time magazine.
The US is getting criticized by other nations for contributing so little to the epidemic. President Bush wants to increase foreign aid by 50% over a three year period.
President Bush has a secret meeting with Dr Jean Pape, a physician who cared for AIDS patients in Haiti. The doctor told the President that “our arms are totally broken” and “there are things we could do if we had the drugs.”
He must have made an impact on the President because…
In his State of the Union address, President Bush says “…tonight I propose the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief…I ask Congress to commit $15 billion over the next five years.”
Meanwhile, America is split on the war in Iraq and the President Bush has his hands full trying to revamp Social Security.
Later that year, Bono confronts President Bush about the gap of promised funds versus actual money sent to Africa. Only two million dollars were actually approved to aid the crisis.
Bono tells reporters that he is depressed about the situation.
U2 enters the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Live 8 is a string of benefit concerts that precede the G8 conference. More than a 1,000 musicians perform to “make poverty history”.
U2 plays London and the world hears more about the crisis.
Bono meets with President Bush. Beforehand, he tells the news media that he is not afraid of meeting world leaders because “they will be accountable for what happened on their watch. I’m representing the poorest and the most vulnerable people. On a spiritual level, I have that with me. I’m throwing a punch, and the fist belongs to the people who can’t be in the room, whose rage, whose anger, whose hurt I represent.”
Bono contacts Karl Rove, the senior advisor to the President to try to get Bush to agree to be on a cover in Vanity Fair.
Bono gets some people together for a special edition of a Vanity Fair edition. Annie Leibovitz is the photographer for a host of famous people including: George Clooney, Oprah, Obama, Brad Pitt and...George Bush. The common thread? People who are passionate about what’s happening in Africa.
Bono writes the “Pres” a note…
And the President of the United States writes back…
People living with HIV/AIDS : 33.4 million
2.1 million of those are children under the age of 15.
President Bush is regarded as “uncool” and “deeply unpopular” but Bono makes it clear in an interview that he believes the man can get results.
And he does.
The United States becomes the largest contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, providing $200 million in seed money. The US challenges other international donors to increase their donations.
The private sector gets involved with advocacy, philanthropic contributions and private partnerships.
Bono is named Person of the Year along with Bill and Melinda Gates.
The tide is turning in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. A report states that deaths have decreased by 20%, new infections were down 21% and 6.6 million people were placed on antiretroviral therapies.
It also said that, “Few, if any, global health or developmental assistance programs in US history have been able to initiate such a wide range of activities in so many resource-constrained settings in such a short period of time.”
Bono writes another note…
This one was a bit hard to read so let me help…
Hard to take in what you have accomplished in at least 8.3 million lives.
What a gift to the world.
Bono hangs out with G.Man on his ranch. (see picture) President Bush writes on Instagram, “Bono is the real deal. He has a huge heart and a selfless soul, not to mention a decent voice.”
Bono is awarded the inaugural George W. Bush Medal for Distinguished Leadership for his work combatting the HIV/AIDS crisis and poverty in Africa.
Here’s a Rolling Stone video for you.
So that’s the story I could piece together about G. Man and Bono.
But one more thing.
In an interview, Bono was asked how he got the attention of so many world leaders. He answered it wasn’t anything to do with him being an Irish musician it was because “They are afraid of our audience.”
It wasn’t just the celebrities that made this happen.
It was all of us.
My intern year I spent Thanksgiving taking care of children on the oncology unit. No turkey from the grill (my dad’s specialty) No cranberry sauce or homemade pumpkin pie. It was the first time I was alone for a holiday. It’s impossible to feel sorry for yourself on a ward where parents would give up their turkey dinner…their cars and bank accounts…even body parts… for a chance to save their little ones.
The oncology unit has a surreal feeling about it. Children are still children, no matter what the circumstances. They play, sing, dance... oblivious to the fact that they are facing down a life-threatening condition.
Bald-headed, they dart down the hallways, clutching IV poles as they head toward play rooms stocked with pretend kitchen sets, bouncing balls and board games. Disney videos run endless loops, almost drowning out the constant beeping of the monitors that measure heart beats and blood pressures. They shriek with happiness when a stuffed animal is pulled from a gift bag, pout when vegetables show up on their lunch tray and whine it’s nap-time. These kids giggle, snort and pretend to fart.
But sometimes those noises...those completely normal childhood noises...invade rooms where they don’t belong. Rooms where a pale child lies too quietly, taking breaths that are too fragile. Rooms where a mother muffles her sobs and a doctor struggles to find one more treatment plan.
In those rooms, desperation and hope are so thick in the air that it's hard to take a breath.
This Thanksgiving I’m thinking about the children who will spend the holiday in the oncology unit. Nurses who will be too tired to even care what’s on their plate. Parents who will make the best of time spent in a strange and scary place. Doctors who will be forever touched (and changed) by the privilege of caring for these beautiful kids.
Every year 300,000 kids receive a diagnosis of cancer.
Once a death sentence, now 90% of kids with the most common type of cancer will survive.
Those cures exist because of research.
I'm thankful for Alan Ridenour. He's doing more than just thinking about children with cancer, he’s committed to supporting St. Baldrick’s Foundation--where they work to cure childhood cancers.
HOW ABOUT THIS?
You can help him here...
I had a restless night. This morning I stood impatiently by the tea maker only to realize that I’d forgotten to add the water. It was while I waited, yearning for the rumbling that meant the water was starting to boil that I realized the back of my thigh was tight. A quick stretch didn’t help.
It was cold outside and my favorite running socks were missing. I was down to one functioning flasher and it was still very dark. It would be hard for cars to see me, crossing streets would be dangerous.
All good reasons not to go for a morning run.
Yesterday, I saw a teenager with worsening depression. She’d been on medicine for a while and initially seemed better. And then she wasn’t.
I took a big breath and opened the door. Her eyes, wary and tear-rimmed, followed me as I walked into the room. She said nothing. Her mom spoke instead. I heard what she said but I also read her eyes. They said what I’d already recognized, “SAVE HER! She’s in a cage with a lion!”
The mom didn’t even realize that the lion had taken a swipe at her too. I could see the rivulet of blood streaming down her sleeve as she described to me what had been happening. Parents often get injured when they try to stand between their children and this beast.
She was so desperate to get her daughter out of the cage that she didn’t recognize the bars were enclosing her also. As long as her daughter was in the cage…she was just as trapped.
The lion was pacing from one side of the room to the another. It’s was a slow, lazy saunter with an occasional insolent turn of the head. I kept my eyes on it—I don’t trust it.
But I think the teenager does. I think there are times when she curls up in a fetal position and this animal encircles her body with his. I think she weeps into his soft fur and I bet she falls asleep with the sound of his rumbling purrs. I’m worried that she believes the beast is comforting her, that he understands her sadness. She’s wrong. He loves no one.
I hold a whip and I’m pretty good at displaying a lot of bravado but this is a lion. He’s unpredictable and ferocious. And he’s killed before. I don’t want to be there. This scares me and makes me feel inadequate. I’m constantly afraid I won’t react fast enough or move the right direction…that he will pounce and I will have failed her.
The only thing more frightening… is doing nothing. Letting them face the beast alone. So I do the best I can.
I don’t run for exercise—that’s just a bonus in my book. I run when I’m tired and hurting and cold so I can prove to myself that I can do it. To make myself believe that I’m strong, resilient and determined.
I ran this morning because I have to.
I never know when I’m going to be stepping into a lion’s cage.