Monday, September 29, 2008

Quick Steps

I'm on my new fall schedule now. I get up around 5am, then go either walk (today) or train (Tuesdays and Thursdays) in the gym. It's dark out there, but comfortable with musical variations ranging from "Born to Run" to "Stars & Stripes Forever" to "Spanish Lace." After breakfast, and newspapers, it's time to hop in the shower!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." -- Albert Camus

I had a chance to spend some time in the garden this morning. I love all the seasons, but this one is as special as spring. All the lessons of renewal are to be found in the garden. Above, a Bells of Ireland bush in its final flowering.

To the left, the beautiful long-flowering Daphne bush that Hazard and Diana gave me some years ago. The stone spirit of the garden peeking out from behind the brick stand is also a birthday gift from them a few years earlier. One last red geranium flourishes still with lobelia and a trailing white flowering plant in the container.

Day lilies continue in spurts to bloom. The surest sign of autumn is the flowering orange bush behind the forsythia. I have plenty of work to do still before winter, including both cleanup and plantings for a greater show of color in the spring.

Though the rains have started to come back, we still have time to sit outside and contemplate the rhythms of change, in the garden and in our lives.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Poignant photos....

Here's a photo of a team of walkers I saw throughout the walk. They are called "The Breastie Boys," and they walked in memory of a woman named Tana, wife of one of the boys; as well as to honor their mothers, wives and daughters.

A great leg shot of one of my fellow flag bearers. He had my back going up and coming back down those tricky stairs to the stage.

And here is my friend Ginny Douglas reminding me about my limits on Sunday.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Day Three 2008 -- $8,600,000,000!!!

Day 3 was all about walking the most beautiful spots in Seattle. After the Cowen Park pit stop, I hit my stride at Green Lake around 8am. My friend Jobeth, a two year survivor of ovarian cancer, greeted me at the entrance and walked a bit with me.

I had some trouble this morning with my left hip and right knee. At least that distracted me from blisters!

Coming up out of Green Lake on the way to Woodland Park.

We had lunch at Gas Works Park.

Kindred Spirits alumni set up a welcoming table, with chairs, at the Olympic Sculpture Park. We waited until the team was in, around 3:15, then took the last .8 mile together.

The Kindred Spirits team hits the finish line....on the left in front, the indomitable Mary Jo. To my right, my guardian angle Ginny Douglas and to her left Carol Salo, who recently finished both chemotherapy and radiation. All three of these women are survivors, and I was honored to be walked in by them. Ginny was determined that she would walk so that I could keep up that last distance. Our friend Jenny was a crew member this year, or she would have been right there with us as we went over the finish line.
Another Leroy photo of the walk in. It is hard to describe the emotion and the exhilaration at this point. Everyone is cheering you in, and you feel as if you own the world.

Here is the stadium full of supporters for Closing Ceremonies... as well as the 3,200 walkers, and 400 crew members.

A last look at 2008, with walkers and survivors surrounding the Circle of Survivors that we honor at the beginning and the end of the walk. We have just raised the flag, which says "Everyone Deserves A Lifetime -- A World Without Breast Cancer."

What we have done together is consequential. It does make a difference. And it will lead to a world without breast cancer. Time to crack out the Epsom salts and take a victory soak. I hope the pictures show you how all of us are changed, and changed again, every year that we take this walk. I am so happy that I did stick to my guns and take this walk in 2008.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Day Two 2008

Annie was back in camp before the sun came up, and had breakfast with the team.

Jenny Sinanan, 2008 crew member. Annie's good friend for 24 years.

The "Moo Can Do It" Ladies, who cheer walkers along the way.

Cheers in the foggy morning light on Redmond Way.

Walkers enter the second pit stop, at 4.8 miles.

Lunch at 9.8 miles in Juanita Bay Park.

Standing, in knee braces, Nancy, from the American Red Cross. She and Annie tracked Hurricane Ike together.

The view from Juanita Bay Park. That's all the pictures for today.
Tomorrow: Seattle.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Day One -- Carrrying the Flag

Annie was asked to carry one of eight lifetime flags. She chose "Victories."

There are 3,300 walkers, who gathered at 6:30 am for opening ceremonies.

The lifetime flags were carried onto the stage. Rather than observe a moment of silence, walkers were asked to speak the name of the person s/he was walking for. It took Annie longer than most, since she is walking for 15 people.

The flags are brought down and out onto the entrance to the walk.

And they are off!

A note from our son, James H. S. Searle:

Today Annie heads out to begin her three days of walking. I am currently traveling to Stockholm to give a talk. I wanted to post a message again this year on her blog to thank her for continuing on this year. The commitment is serious, as her blog indicates, and anyone who knows my mother knows she is a busy woman, who throws her whole self at the work in front of her. It is so unfortunate that the number of names on her hat increases constantly but I think she has the right attitude-in a tough situation you can either get bitter or get after it. She has of course gotten after it and in doing so has literally taken the hard road.

I would also like to thank all of those who have gotten behind the effort to fight this horrible disease. It is a shame that I will not be there to see the all of the bodies spread out over the road because it is quite a sight. Most importantly, I would like to say that I am tremendously proud of my mother for sticking to her guns.

Team Dinner Thursday Night

The 104 person Kindred Spirits team gathered with their families at Bellevue's Downtown Park for food and last minute instructions. This is Penny Kellam, survivor of both cervical and ovarian cancer, leader of the team. She doesn't need a microphone to be heard.

Penny was explaining to the team that the buses would pick up crew members at 3:30am and walkers starting at 4:30 am. And she told Annie and the rest of the walkers how very proud she was of each of them.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Today we remember.

Seven years ago today, our belief in man's essential goodness was severly challenged. This morning, we remember the victims of 9/11/01, their families, and the brave police officers and firefighters who had only imperfect tools to rescue them.

The police officers and firefighters have a lot in common with cancer survivors: they both show us what is best in ourselves -- our ability to struggle against and overcome adversity, to care for and support one another in times of great duress or sadness.

This is my last blog until Sunday night. My husband will be posting photos up to the site each day of the walk, and my son will also blog long distance in support of the walk. It's possible that I've made the walk sound too much like The Long March, an ordeal to be endured, as I have described my preparations over the last months. It's actually an event of great joy, a physical expression of the commitment all of us have to this cause.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Fortune favors the brave." -- Virgil

I am hoping I got that Virgil quote right -- I'm sending it to Tracy, who went through her fourth and final chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer today. She'll be there to see over 3,000 of us off on Friday morning. She sent me best wishes for the walk last night, and here is part of her exhortation:

" Let the momentum carry you for as long as you can. When it can't carry you any longer, think about me doing my 4th chemo when I so badly wanted to quit after the 1st one. And take one more step. When that doesn't carry you anymore, think of ____, who gets up every day knowing that she is battling cancer and she still gets out of bed and goes on with her life. And take one more step. When that doesn't carry you anymore, start counting people. When you get to 8, realize that the person you are looking at might be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. And take one more step.

If by chance your body gives out and you have given all you can give remember that you have done more for breast cancer than many people do in a lifetime -- maybe it will be a dollar from the money that you have raised that tips the scales."

That last sentence is the one I have fastened on. I insist that I will walk to honor the brave ones, but Tracy shows me related personal motivation as well. I like to make a difference in the world. And it might just be the dollars I've raised that indeed tips the scales to a cure.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"Think where man's glory most begins and ends, And say my glory was I had such friends." -- Wm Butler Yeats

Three days from the walk, and counting. At this point, I have donations from over 80 people as well as matching gifts where appropriate. I should like to thank each of my donors for giving to breast cancer in a tough economic climate. The great Irish poet says it right: "my glory was I had such friends."

Special thanks here to the folks who have got me ready to walk this year: Amy Lackey, my trainer; David Kirdahy, my chiropracter; and Brad Madden, my physical therapist. How we think about ourselves often affects what we can do -- each of these folks shows me over and over just how resilient I am.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bouquet for James....

My son James leaves for a Stockholm conference on the same day I start walking this year. Both of us have exhilarating challenges, and will be supporting one another long distance, so I am sending him a couple of floral salutes from today's front yard.

This morning we were able to catch up with our sculptor friend Luba, who goes back tomorrow to Buenos Aires, her home. Good friend that she is, her advice is to slow down enough to savor the present.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Last Mile

An aerial view of Seattle's downtown Olympic Sculpture Park and (below) of its most distinctive piece of sculpture. This park is the northern end of my lunchtime walks, a familiar and inspiring landmark for walkers and joggers alike.

Penny sent a note to the team tonight asking us to plan to walk the last 8/10th of a mile together on the third day of the walk. There are over 100 of us who will end as we began, together as a team. We will start that last mile from the Olympic Sculpture Park.

I was telling Tracy today just how emotional that third day is. You know that you will be going home. You know that you don't have to get up and walk the next morning. And everywhere there are signs and people cheering you on. The last day is all about adrenaline and exhilaration. This year, I know we will be bussed to begin from the Arboretum, and that we will walk north and through the top of Green Lake, my favorite place to train. How we then get west and south to the Sculpture Park remains a mystery at this time, but I do know that Day 3 is 15+ miles.

It is wonderful to be part of an effort that makes a big difference -- you always get back more than you give.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

3,900 Strong in 2008!

Here we are starting to cross the I-90 bridge on Day 1 of last year's walk. The bridge is completely full and the line at this point stretches on both sides of the bridge itself. There were roughly 2,300 walkers last year.

I've just heard that we will have 3,500 walkers and 400 crew members this year -- a huge increase! So I'm hopeful that, even though each of us has been unable to raise as much money in a tough economic year, we'll still bring in around $6 million for Seattle's 2008 walk.

This year is just one of many that I will devote to eradicating breast cancer in my lifetime. If you are reading but have not donated to the campaign of one of those 3,500 walkers, please consider doing it now. Consider the words of my son James, after he lunched with us last year on Day 2:
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.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Green Lake Morning

A chilly first morning of September. My feathered friends were lolling about, unaware of the winds and heavy rain that struck the Gulf Coast this morning. Though this time officials were ready, we are all relieved that Gustav has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane. There are more tropical storms queuing up right behind Gustav, so this will be a busy year for my team.

This is my stretching stone at Green Lake. We will pass right by it on Day 3. Like many benches and stones in the park, it is inscribed and donated in memory of someone. This one says "Oto '71. Rock on."

And here, a bit more of the beauty that is Green Lake. I am so pleased that we will walk the north end of the lake, and that folks can cheer us on between 8am-11am that morning. I am
thinking of asking Scott Brown to bring out the Roosevelt's Rough Riders Marching Band--all walkers are heartened by signs of love and support, especially on Day 3.