Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rig Veda for Myanmar Monks

As I listen to the Dalai Lama's Rig Veda, I imagine what it would like to be a monk in the streets of Burma this week.
The ancient Rig Veda chants are a series of 10 books or "mandalas" each composed of hymns or praises of varying lengths. In all, there are 432,000 syllables in the Rig Veda. There is nothing to compare it to, except possibly the Gregorian Chants that I grew up singing. The sounds are at once a source of power and peace.

As I walk in the mornings, it's a chance to contemplate freedoms we take for granted. And to imagine how we might change situations like this.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Familiar rhythms, familiar place.

A week later, I'm walking again. My knees ache a bit, but everything else seems to be in good working order. The blisters are manageable, but still present. All of the sudden, it has become fall. I walked at my usual hour, most of the way in complete darkness. I can't wait for daylight savings time!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

More photos from the walk.

I walked across Harbor Island and up First Avenue to the finish line on Sunday with Lisa Lovelace, from Australia, who walked to honor her mother. She's sent me on 100+ photos and I've picked a couple to post up here to give a better sense of the event. The photo below is of our campground. Each of these tents cozily holds two persons if you leave your luggage outside the tent. We camped here in Burien both evenings of the walk.

Below you have an entirely typical scene at every pit stop or lunch break. Need I say more?

Finally, a photo of Lisa and myself looking relatively harmless. We had just come over the finish line and were ushered into Seattle Center's Exhibition Hall, to be electronically scanned then presented with our new shirts for the closing ceremonies.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The bitter and the sweet

Sad news from Latvia, that our friend Inna, who had battled ovarian cancer with grace and humor with all the treatments doctors wanted to throw at her for nearly two years, died at home on Saturday, while I was walking. She will be greatly missed, never forgotten.

Wonderful news for my friend Jobeth, an ovarian cancer survivor, who got her report yesterday after finishing all treatments: she is cancer free!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Crew: Leroy, Lauren and James

Meet my personal crew for the walk: Leroy, my husband; Lauren Graf, my friend and girlfriend of James; and my son, James. I was the envy of all the walkers I know -- these three showed up not just at opening or closing ceremonies, but every day, often at lunch time or at pit stops, offering comfort and cheers.

Leroy is complex. I'm sure it's not the Harley Davidson motorcycle alone that makes him such a compelling figure. He's a UW English and Comparative Literature professor, who also writes music, carpenters, welds, builds hydraulic lifts, and performs in musical ensembles. He is a renaissance man, who has always supported me in anything I wanted to do.

James and Lauren finished an intensive French course this summer at the UW and flew to Paris for a few weeks to practice upon the natives. They came back the day I started walking, and were there shooting photographs and posting to my blog in real time. They were there at and after closing ceremonies, to take care of me and transition me back to the regular world.

James graduated from Evergreen with an emphasis in literature. Lauren is just finishing at the UW and will probably have both double degrees and a double minor. They are extraordinary people, who will soon begin applying for graduate school.

I am a fortunate woman for many reasons -- my health, the kind of work I do and the interests I have, the impact I can have upon the world. None of that would be relevant or important at all without the support from my family. They mean everything to me.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Day Three -- Getting more than you give

I finished the walk slowly, but I finished it. Here, I have just changed into the shirt we wore for closing ceremonies after having had a late lunch with Leroy at Seattle Center House. I am limping, but standing!

Here's Kim (left), Anna (center), and the inimitable Mary Gardner walking in to closing ceremonies.

It's hard to show them all: so many walkers (2,350) and such amazing support from family, friends, and the community. There were 350 crew members who supported us all the way.

People walked through their pain and their exhaustion and were cheered in all along the route, but especially this last quarter mile. Note that many cheering are those who also walked. That's part of our job: to support one another in this effort.

I walked for all cancer survivors and in memory of many others who have died. The tag I carried on my backpack identifies those I walked for in 2007: my sister Mary, Lisa Coleman, Julie Hillers and Denise Roberts. For what they have gone through or are going through, they are my heroes. Enough for today. I am home from the walk now. I'll post up more of the 170+ photos taken by my own crew over the weekend. This was simply to show some of the energy and exuberance that comes from doing good and raising $6.4 million. In situations like this, you always get back more than you give.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Day Two...Toughing It Out

Watching the long, snake-like procession of pink-clad warriors walk along the strip mall lined streets of Des Moines, WA, I could not help but be amazed by what Annie, her team, and all of the participants and volunteers are doing. Essentially, a large group of people (mostly women!) have devoted themselves to an idea, one that does not make claims for an ultimate truth or represent a political end but rather one that fully asserts the need to care for one another. Many people my age are quite cynical -- I at times certainly am -- yet watching this spectacle, I came to realize that many of the people throwing their legs forward, foot after foot, enduring tremendous pain, walk in the memory of lost friends and family, and quite a few themselves are survivors. They walk not only for themselves and their immediate circle, but for all threatened by a horrible disease, and no one could be a cynic in the face of such a diverse group of motivated and positive humans. This is the sort of activism and thinking we speak of in sad remembrance when talking about the civil rights movement (one that Annie was a part of), or the sort of energy we dream about when we talk about changing our future as a community or a country, but what Annie and all involved in this walk are doing shows that the times aren't so dark as they are serious. Today after eating lunch with my mother, father and Mary Gardner, I drove back along I-5 with a giant smile on my face and felt so so proud of my mother and honored to have sat alongside all of those who walked today.

Today was quite a physically and emotionally demanding day for Annie. Her feet were a varying number of colors, ones quite like the purples and deep blues found in the Francis Bacon painting we saw at the Pompidou in Paris. The day began with a surgery, not on Annie's feet, but on her shoes (they're saving the surgery on the feet for later!). With her trusty Swiss Army Knife and direction from the pocket-knife wizard Leroy, Annie removed donut-hole sized sections from her Asics, in the hopes of leaving more space for her aching blisters. The day ended many miles later when the pain was too great to continue. Annie is OK, but will most definitely be making a trip to the doctor after day three!

I am going to wrap it up with a few pictures from our lunch. We think Annie may get to do some walking tomorrow and she will return to the command of this blog after the walk ends.

--Annie's loving son James

Friday, September 7, 2007

Day One -- At the 3rd Pit Stop

What neither Annie nor Leroy will ever do...

Blistered but beaming, Annie reaches the promised land -- Pit Stop number 3.

Walking buddy Anna flanked by cheerleaders at the 3rd pit stop

Day One -- On the trail

Annie with Susan Stringer, one of her biggest supporters
The walker in action, high fiving as she partied out onto the walk...
Fresh off a plane from Paris, James jumps the red tape to cheer on his mother.

The walk begins!

The feast before the fury...

The Princess of Darkness was crowned Queen of Fundraising!
Annie wearing her crown of honor, with Kindred Spirits leader Penny Kellam.

Stretching it out early Friday morning at the opening ceremonies.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

T minus 1.5 and counting....

There's nothing to compare with support from your colleagues and your boss. I knew I had that all along, with donations for breast cancer research coming from most everyone on the team...but this morning those words were accompanied by a very generous spa certificate.

The other sweet spot came today via donations -- I am now within $400 of my $25,000 goal. I have no doubt that I will exceed my goal before I start walking on Friday morning.

7:30pm. I thank Julie, who just put me over my goal. She is one of the survivors whom I honor when I walk this weekend. She continues to set a high bar for all of us who know her bright spirit, her optimism and her commitment to breast cancer research and cutting edge treatment.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Top Five Insensitive Comments

I've been collecting comments from well-intentioned bystanders for six months now, and it's time to share a few of them. They are not in any particular order of insensitivity.

1. "Oh, they must be the breast walkers...." (Edmonds downtown street last Saturday.)

2. "What kind of cancer do you have?" (None. I'm walking with and for those who do).

3. "60 miles doesn't sound like enough..." (There are variants of this comment, from "why 60 miles?" to "what's so tough about 60 miles? I do that on my bike every weekend.")

4. "I think they read your blog because you're older and they wonder if you can do it." (Hard to think of anything to say back except many folks read this blog because they are walkers too. )

5. "What about other kinds of cancer? Why don't you raise money for them too?" (I walk for all cancer survivors no matter what type. )

As Anna T. would say to all of them: "We are 3 Day Walkers. HEAR US ROAR!!!!"

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Edmonds: Last Team Training Walk

A sunny but cool day for our last team training walk. Tath was talked into leading this extra one during Wednesday's twilight walk.

Jenny took this picture of myself and Anna Terrones, my walking partner. You can see the rest of the team in the block behind where we are standing.

Next photo is at scenic outlook about three miles into the walk. Tath, our walk leader is front left in this photo. My good friend Jenny is fifth from left in back row. Ginny is second from left in second row. Tath's husband Dennis is to Jenny's left. This is a great group of folks, mutually supportive and up for fun as well.

Not sure how clear this photo is, but I wanted to show how we tend to spread out when we walk. One of the best things about walking on a team is getting to know different folks by walking with them. Anna and I have become fast friends, and I've learned a lot from Ginny as well.

We had lunch together after the walk, and I picked up a few more tips on how to handle my feet during the event. One of the most charming suggestions is to take gallon ziploc bags with epsom salts pre-loaded , so that you can just add water and soak your feet while you are sitting in line waiting for the showers.