Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Frames of reference

My work goes in waves and I apply a certain amount of discipline to even it out over time, whether it's writing a book, working for a client, or out speaking to good-sized audiences about the themes in my first book, "Advice From A Risk Detective."

But Mother Nature is a constant frame of reference for me, allowing me take comfort in familiar seasonal patterns.  Last week in honor of our anniversary, I potted in these primroses, just like I have done to celebrate for at least the last 30 years.
Spring primroses in pots on front steps.  

Green Lake on a wet overcast morning.

In this photo I took while walking at Green Lake, it's possible only from the bare tree branches to get a good guess at time of the year.  The surrounds of the lake are so familiar to me that I could probably walk the 2.8 miles blindfolded.  Yet I am constantly amazed at how new it looks whenever I walk.

My home.
Finally, my home, where the rain and wind washed everything shiny bright in the last 24 hours.  It's my ultimate point of reference.  How I feel at home is reflected in the opening words of the first chapter of the risk detective book.

You have a right to think of it as your castle.  Our homes are the places we start from and return to each day -- the embodiment of our styles, the places into which we can both invite friends and retreat from the work. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Matters of the heart.

Antique Valentine, 1909
We don't really celebrate Valentine's Day so much as use it to remind ourselves that February 15th is our wedding anniversary.

We had a reasonably unconventional wedding.  Leroy and I were married by a judge at the county courthouse in Hannibal, Missouri, birthplace of Mark Twain.  His beard was commented upon positively by the judge and his staff -- turns out the city was celebrating its sesquicentennial by having all the men grow beards. Afterward, we drove to St. Louis to see its famous arches.  By the time we reached St. Louis, we were in near blizzard conditions, so we had hot dogs in a place not unlike Seattle's Frankfurter, then got back in the car and drove back north.

Our marriage certificate burned up in a house fire in Rochester, New York five years later. That certificate didn't have much to do with how connected we felt then or now, nor do the outward trappings of Valentine's Day.  Each year, though, we raise our glasses over a festive dinner on the 15th with dear friends, the Adams, to celebrate our anniversary, Hazard's birthday, and over 30 years of friendship.

I should also point out that, though it was not a consideration in selecting our wedding date, it's easier to book a table on the night after Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Breaking up is hard to do.

2008 Opening Ceremonies: Carrying the "Victories" Flag
Some of you may know that I started this blog in 2006, as I started to train for my first 3Day Walk for the Cure, sponsored by the Komen Foundation.  I'm not myself a survivor, but I was drawn to the cause by my friend Jenny. I made many friends from the six months of training as part of the Kindred Spirits team in 2007 and 2008, and from the two 3Day events as well.  There is simply no other event that makes you feel a part of a cause larger than yourself, where participation requires a lot of training, and where it's clear that you are doing good.

I've continued to go out and cheer my Kindred Spirits team at each subsequent event, and make personal and business donations to Komen and the team. My estimate is that I've raised over $50,000 since I started to focus on the issue of early detection and screenings for breast cancer.  When I asked for donations, I always mentioned that it was for research that benefited not only breast cancer, but other forms of cancer as well; and that it supported screenings for women who could not otherwise afford them. The millions of dollars raised here in Seattle alone have meant that the incidence of death from breast cancer has gone down significantly because of early detection and regular screenings.

Komen's decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood clinics who offer these screenings is difficult for me on several fronts.  I find that I can't overlook the bitter politics involved in Komen's revised policy on grants.  The bottom line is that it means that I will direct my personal and business support for breast cancer to Planned Parenthood, specifically so that these screenings can still be made available to low income women.

The decision is personally painful to me because not supporting Komen means I won't be making donations to the Kindred Spirits team.  There's a minimum amount that each walker is required to raise before they can participate in the 3 Day, and it's been difficult for many of them in the economic climate of the past several years for them to hit their minimum. I know that the event is compelling from a personal perspective. Strong friendships have been made over the years. My admiration and personal concern for each of you who will continue to walk is unchanged.