Sunday, October 31, 2010

razzle dazzle!!!

24. Surprise Sadira with something amazing. - DONE!

So Sadira LOVES Yo Gabba Gabba.  If you don't know about YGG then you clearly have not been around a toddler in awhile.  When we heard that Yo Gabba Gabba was going on a live tour, we were the first to get our tickets.  Back then, they were only doing a trial run in a couple cities in the Midwest.  At the time, Sadira's dad Brian was living in Columbus, Ohio, so we got a few tickets for the Cincinnati show and made it an extended weekend.

That was back in March, and Sadira loved it.

Naturally, when they came to our area this past August we had to go again, right?

I guess you could say we've become Yo Gabba Gabba groupies?


Anyway, I had posted some of these pics on Facebook and through the magic of social networking a friend of a friend of a friend revealed that they worked at the Landmark Theater in Richmond, VA, and would we like VIP tickets to the show there?

Umm...DUH!! Do you even need to ask?!?

Strangely, this was not someone I knew directly so I was a bit apprehensive that the tickets would even be there, but a couple days ahead of time I talked to will call and they confirmed the tickets were there!  I decided to surprise my girl with something even MORE exciting--a whole weekend together in Richmond.  We could do whatever she wanted, and just kick back and have fun.

I'm also lucky to have a great friend who works for Marriott and she was able to get me the hook up on the friends and family rate (thanks Florentina!!) so we got a great deal on a hotel for the night---which was the second most exciting part of the weekend for Sadira.

The FIRST most excited part was the VIP party after the show that we got to attend and MEET ALL OF THE CHARACTERS IN PERSON!!  But you may think from our title photo (taken that evening) that Sadira doesn't look very excited.  Truth is, she was completely awe struck.  To prove my point I give you..

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B: 

I'm not gonna lie, it was exciting even for me to see these larger than life characters who've been invading my home for over a year standing right there!  We couldn't stop staring at them. :)

So after a YGG VIP party complete with story time with DJ Lance Rock and a beat box session with THE Biz Markie, we headed over to the hotel--which was EXTREMELY exciting for an almost 3 year old little girl.  And room service?  Well, that was just about the best thing she could wrap her little mind around.

The next day went to the Richmond Children's Museum and then headed over to a few of the local parks since it was such a beautiful day out and we are always looking for more ways to complete #22.  We had some delicious Virginia baked ham sandwiches at a great little local deli followed by some yummy homemade ice cream.  Then, of course, we had to do a little shopping before we hit the road to go home.  Sadira wanted to stop off in DC and see "the point" (Washington Monument) so we made a pit stop in our Nation's Capital.  It was too late in the day to work on #14, but we didn't care because we had had such a fun day.

This little weekend away was just a reminder that it's so much fun to stop the monotony of the every day once in awhile and do something out of the ordinary.  Did I have homework that needed to be done?  Of course.  Did the house need cleaning and the laundry folding?  Absolutely, it always does.  But it was worth it to spend some one-on-one time with my amazing girl.

She really is amazing.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

to kill a mockingbird

18. Read or re-read 5 of "the classics." - In progress.

Just under two months ago I was doing this.  Laying on the beach with a good book, ALONE.  My sister proved her awesomeness once again and offered to take Sadira for a walk on the boardwalk so I could get some good beach reading time in. 

It. Was. Heaven.

It was one of those moments that I get so rarely these days that I almost didn't know what to do with myself.  I was actually giddy with excitement at the thought of being able to relax on the beach, with a good book, and zero responsibilities.  The only thing that would've made it better would've been to have some hot young stud feeding me chocolates, but then I guess that's getting a little greedy, huh?

When I was young I used to read a TON. So much that my friend Amanda and I used to have our own little book exchange because we'd fly through books so quickly.  Babysitter's Club, Sweet Valley High, we had them all.  When I got into high school I started having less time for reading.  I still enjoyed it, but I was forced to enjoy the books I was assigned to read, instead of ones I chose on my own.  This only got worse in college.  My reading was pretty limited to giant textbooks and reading for enjoyment was a concept I could no longer understand...

Except when I was on vacation.

At the beach I could put my school brain on pause.  I remember vacationing in Bethany Beach one year with my mom and in one week I plowed through 9 books.  NINE!  I don't think I had read that many books in the entire year, and here I was bookworming it up.  There really is nothing better that laying out in the sun, on the beach, getting lost in a good book.

Nowadays I'm STILL in school (GOD HELP ME IN THESE LAST 6 WEEKS!!!!), working full time and spending every free moment I can with my sassy little toddler.  As much as I'd love to dedicate time to reading, it's just never been enough of a priority because there are always a million and one things I need to do.  

I need to finish my homework.
I need to do the laundry.
I need to put away the dishes.
I need to put away all of these files.
I need to wash my car, it's filthy.
I need to go the bank.
I need to switch out Sadira's spring/summer clothes for her fall/winter ones.
I need to plan her birthday party.
I need to figure out a topic for my final paper.
I need to finish my competitive analysis project for work.
I need to run some SPSS reports.
I need to start moisturizing more.
I need to get my hair trimmed.
I need to figure out what we're having for dinner tonight.
I need to, I need to, I need to...

Those are truly all the things I need to do at this very moment just off the top of my head.  Yet here I am, writing this blog instead of doing any of them.  The truth is, there's always going to be a list of things "I need" to do at any given moment, but I also NEED TO take time for myself, to put my brain on pause, and to let myself relax.

I'm also a master at procrastination, but that's another topic for another day!

When I put #18 on the list, I figured that if I gave myself a reason to read, I could re-capture the love that I used to have for reading, while also giving myself a break from all of the "I needs" of the day.  Truth is, I've always noticed this really cool thing that happens when I finish a good book--or even get a few chapters in--and that is, I feel refreshed and calm.  Does this happen to other people?  It's so interesting to me, because the simple act of turning off my own brain and putting my own life on pause while I allow myself to drift into someone else's story relaxes me.

So consider this a task of forced relaxation. 

As I mentioned back in the end of June, I first chose To Kill A Mockingbird to kick off completing #18.  And now that I've read it I can be one of those cool people that abbreviate it to TKAM.  Score!  I started this book at the end of June, and then July ended up being a month of torture in the semester from hell, so needless to say when I went to the beach at the end of August I still had at least half of the book to finish off.

Lucky for me it's a great read, I had plenty of time to do nothing that week, and I finished it off in two days.

So here we go, my thoughts on TKAM.

Without sounding like I'm writing a formal book report, I'll condense this novel to say it's the story of Scout and Jem Finch, daughter and son of Attiticus Finch, a lawyer, in the town of Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s.  The book is split into two parts, with the first part setting the scene in Maycomb, introducing the reader to the various characters and family members who come in and out of the Finch's lives and giving delicious descriptives of how Jem and Scout spend their days.  The second part of the book focuses on the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man who is accused of raping a young white girl.  Atticus is Tom Robinson's defense lawyer.  It's this part of the book that's truly the meat and potatoes of the novel.  While Atticus is typically well respected in Maycomb, there are many people in the town who have split opinions about him defending Tom Robinson.  As the novel progresses, Tom Robinson's non-guilt seems obvious as Atticus lays out the evidence and appeals to the jury to make the right decision.  As a reader, you also see the backlash that Scout and Jem, who are only nine and eleven years old, suffer as a result of their father's job.

I'll leave it there as to not spoil the end of the book for those who haven't read it, but suffice it to say that I began Part Two of this book having just climbed into a hot bath at the end of a long day at the beach and I did not get out until the bath water had long been cold because I couldn't put the novel down.

I thought I had read this book before, or maybe at least parts in high school, but I honestly felt like I was reading it for the first time, with fresh eyes all over again.  Specifically in the second part of the book there are two major things that happened and when I read them I think I actually said out loud, "no way!"  At one point I remember exclaiming to my sister, "you will NOT believe what just happened!!" A page turner, for sure.

At the beginning of the book I was certain that Scout, the narrator of the book, was also the protagonist; however as the story developed I determined that the real protagonist was Atticus Finch. There are two notable passages that I highlighted in the book that I think really speak to Atticus' character.

First is at the end of the Part One.  Jem is in big trouble for cutting the tops off of Mrs. Dubose's camellia bushes in a fit of rage.  Mrs. Dubose is a crotchety old lady who had said some pretty horrible things to the children about their father, because of the Tom Robinson case.  Jem, of course, defends his father, and went off on the old bat.  Despite the fact that Jem was defending him, Atticus sends Jem down to apologize to Mrs. Dubose.  At one point Scout says this of Atticus, "For the life of me, I did not understand how he could sit there in cold blood and read a newspaper when his only son stood an excellent change of being murdered with a Confederate Army relic." 

When Scout explains to Atticus that Jem was only defending him against the horrible things that Mrs. Dubose had said about him, Atticus explains, "They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions, but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself.  The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."

Love that!

Of course Mrs. Dubose does not murder Jem with an Army relic, but his punishment is to read to her every day for a month. It's at this point that we learn that Mrs. Dubose is very ill, and addicted to morphine.  She knew she was dying.  After she passes Atticus explains to Jem why he had sent him to her.  He says, "I wanted you to see something about her--I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.  It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.  You rarely win, but sometimes you do.  Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her.  According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody.  She was the bravest person I ever knew."

The second passage is lengthy.  It's actually Atticus' entire lecture to the courtroom and jury at the of Tom Robinson's trial.  The entire thing is pretty impressive, but I'll just mention a few passages here.  It's important to remember that these are the words of Atticus, a white man, defending Tom Robinson, a black man who was already thought to be guilty by many before the trial even began, in the 1930s.

Atticus: "Which, gentlemen, we know is in itself a lie as black as Tom Robinson's skin, a lie I do not have to point out to you.  You know the truth, and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women--black or white.  But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men.  There is not person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a women without desire."

"But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal--there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president.  That institution, gentleman, is a court.  It can be the Supreme Court of the United States or your humblest J.P. court in the land, or this honorable court which you serve.  Our courts have their faults, as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal."

Finally, when Atticus is debriefing Jem and Scout after the trial, trying to teach them a lesson from all of the day's heavy events, he says, "The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box.  As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it - whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash."

And so this is what we learn from Atticus Finch. He is probably the most upright and moral character within the entire novel.  He believes in being fair, open-minded, generous, judicious and honest.  He symbolizes the moral ideal of a lawyer, father, and human being.  He is a pacifist, and a tireless crusader for good causes. 

The world needs more Atticus Finch's in it, I think.

So in just a few days at the beach, I managed to finish To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee in addition to Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (FABULOUS and worthy of its own blog post) and Little Kids Big City by Alex McCord and Simon Van Kempen (yes, THAT Alex and Simon, DON'T JUDGE).

And in the words of the great Jay-Z, "I'm on to the next one" and that one is......

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(I'm just a little excited about this one...)
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

these times...they are a-changing...

They say it takes 21 days to break a bad habit. (And yes, I'm still working on #15)

But how many days does it take to change a human being??

I just got back from a two day work conference in Atlanta. The Day One topic was change management, a term which has always amused me because essentially, it's how to manage people's insecurities about change.  "Change management" seems to be the new catch phrase.  Back when I was in college, working on my Certificate in Leadership and Social Change, the catch phrase was "Change Agent."  I wonder what it'll be next..."changeology?"  "Change catalyst?"  "Change-a-saurus Rex?"

Enough with the kitschy catch phrases.

Truthfully, change has been on my mind.  We are, after all, getting into the heart of fall---a season that is defined by change. We can SEE and FEEL the change. The leaves are changing and the air is crisper.    For kids in school this is the season when Kindergartners change into first graders.  Middle schoolers change into junior high students, and eleventh graders become high school seniors.  Flip flops and t-shirts get packed up to make room for sweaters and boots. 

And the biggest one for darling baby girl turns a year older!  I mean, seriously, can we take a moment to acknowledge that CHANGE that's occurred just in the past couple of years???? 

From this:

To this:


To this: (Obviously she's always been serious about Ravens' football....)

From this:


Talk about a change!

Over the past two days I heard one of the presenters define change as, "the process by which something or someone is different than it was."  I loved the simplicity in that definition so much I had to jot it down...and as I wrote those words, I thought about change.  Probably not in the context our presenter was hoping I'd think about it, but in the context of ME.

I've learned that I sorta love change.

Which is why when I hear all of these strategies about "how to make people comfortable with change," it takes me a moment to get it.  Because my initial reaction is, "but what's the big deal with change, anyway? What's there to be afraid of?"  Change is exciting!  It means something new is coming around the corner!  It means something or someone has evolved to become different than they were before!  Change keeps me interested.  Change keeps me invested.  Change keeps me from getting bored.

The crazy thing is, if we all take a moment to think about it, I'm sure we can all pinpoint moments in our lives when we changed.  Things that happened to us--whether positive or negative---that made us different than we were before.  The more I thought about this over the past couple of days, the more I realized that it's most likely these experiences that help determine how we feel about change. 

I've been lucky that for the most part, my life experiences with change have been positive.

A few concrete examples...

When I started high school at IND I only knew one girl in my freshman class, my friend Mary with whom I had gone to grade school.  And while this was slightly intimidating, it was also exhilarating.  I remember thinking that at IND I could completely reinvent social slate was wiped clean, and it was completely up to me how I wanted to be known.  I started grade school shy and quiet...and even though somewhere in junior high I was no longer shy nor quiet, I couldn't seem to shake the stigma because for nine years I was within my little bubble of friends.  I remember starting high school and within a week there was a new found confidence...I introduced myself to strangers with no problem. Something within me changed.

When I was my early twenties I made the difficult and necessary decision to end a relationship with my high school sweetheart whom I had been with for almost 6 years.  Before the decision was final, I remember feeling stagnant and depressed...something no one should feel at only 22 years old.  But I was also scared that I was giving up the future we had so carefully planned for ourselves.  I almost didn't know how to function without being one half of the duo we had created.  But surprisingly, after it happened, I felt relieved and calm.  Although my carefully laid out future quickly became one giant question mark, I was excited.  Finally, I was the captain of my own ship, and creator of my own destiny.  Instead of thinking, "I am alone" I thought, "I can do whatever I want in this life, without having to worry about how it affects someone else."  Something within me changed.

Rewind to just a few years ago.  It was early March 2007, and a friend of mine was in town with a few of his Coast Guard buddies.  We all went out for a fun night of bar hopping.  There was partying, there were tequila shots, and I specifically a remember a Fergalicious dance-off.  Truth be told, this night was not unlike many of the other weekend nights that made up my "fun early twenties."  So why do I remember it such vivid detail?  Because 5 days later I took a pregnancy test that showed up positive.  And from that point, EVERYTHING changed.  I think of that night as the last of my truly carefree days.  Sure, I've gone out since then, and yes, I absolutely have had fun--but not in the way I could pre-Sadira.  Now there is a little person who is always in the back of my mind.  Now I'm someone's mother, and I look at the world through a new filter.  Something major within me changed.

Now I find myself in the present...on the brink of yet another change. When I first started this project 114 days ago I thought of all of the things I'd like do---goals I'd like to accomplish and things I've always wanted to do. I always thought that somewhere along the way this project would take on a life of its own--which is probably why I chose to blog about it, so I would have that moment well documented.  So here I find myself, 8 months away from a new decade, and the purpose of this project has revealed itself to me.  It's not about crossing items off a's about experiencing life NOW.  Without fear of failure.  About stepping outside of secure confines of my comfort zone and trying something new.  It's about doing something I've always wanted to do, but never had the time or "an excuse" to do it.

Life does not require excuses.  Life is something worth making time for.

A few years back my Mom gave me a paper weight with the following phrase etched into it: "What would you do, if you knew you could not fail?"  She gave it to me with the message that she hoped I'd always live my life without fear of failure.  I'll admit that for many, including myself, this is really hard to do.  With the benefit of a few life experiences, and just a tiny shred of wisdom under my belt, I feel like I'm finally getting to point where I'm starting to live life fearlessly.

This project gave me a reason to do some of the things that I've always wanted to do, or accomplish--but the truth is, I never really even needed the reason to begin with.  I've noticed the latest change in myself--that when opportunities come up to seize the day and experience something new I quickly raise my hand and say, "yes, please!" instead of, "gosh, I'd love to, but I just don't have the time for that, unfortunately."

Carpe effin' diem. 

Sailing lessons? Yes! Sounds fun, let's do it! Try a Bikram Yoga class?  I might not make it through, but I'm willing to give it a shot!  Sign up for a 5k?  I've survived a few before, it's time to try one again!

Take out the fear of failure and life is full of possibilities.  I'm learning to be fearless to opportunity.  And THAT experience has most certainly changed me.

And I ask YOU.....What would you do, if you knew you could not fail?
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Monday, October 11, 2010

c'est le joie de vivre! un certain je ne sais quoi!

Me on le troisième étage de la Tour Eiffel (top floor of the Eiffel Tower) on my third and most recent trip to Paris, in 2006.  I seriously cannot get back there fast enough!!!

Why am I spouting out French??  Why do I have a pic from a trip to France to head up this blog post???

Cause I did a little investigating!!

I didn't realize until very recently, that I could read all of my blog stats---how many hits my blog gets, by day, week or month...what websites lead folks to my blog...what search terms are most popular to find my blog...and most interesting to me--what countries my readers reside in!  I guess I never even considered the option that people outside of the U.S. would make it to my blog...I guess I didn't even think anyone other than my friends would read this either.

But I was pleasantly surprised that I've been read in 41 countries.  WOW!

And since July I've had over 10,000 hits.....

Not gonna lie, that's kinda crazy y'all.  
And I was particularly thrilled to find out that after the United States, the country with the second highest percentage of readers is...FRANCE!!! Quelle surprise!!

Most anyone who knows me well knows I have a little love affair with all things French.  I'm fairly certain I could live in the City of Lights for years and feel perfectly at home.  I just love the French language and how absolutely poetic it sounds when spoken.  I adore all things Parisian and would love to be able to laze away my days sitting in a quaint little cafe on the side of the Seine River, sipping Orangina and eating pain au chocolat.  Not to mention the fact that the French are known for wine, cheese, and chocolate---these are three things that I am absolutely positive could sustain me for the rest of my life.  One day when I am independently wealthy I will live in Paris for a year or so.  Maybe I'll retire there, who knows.

In the meantime, I would do just about anything to get Sadira to Paris.  I've daydreamed about her running around the foot of the Eiffel Tower...pointing out all of the sights as we take a boat ride down the Seine...visiting Notre Dame and having to scold her for chattering too loudly...dragging her against her will through the Louvre because "it's a famous museum and one day you'll be glad I brought you here."  I'm so ready to show her more of the world, but with grad school loans needing to be repaid, it's going to take a bit of time.  Unless I win the lottery of course, WHICH COULD TOTALLY HAPPEN.

While taking Sadira to Paris couldn't financially make it onto the "30 Before 30"'s definitely on the short list of goals in the next 10 years.

So if I can't make it France, at least I know my blog is making it there.  C'est magnifique!!

And a little shout-out for my Frenchy friends:

Bonjour mes amis Français! Je ne sais pas comment vous avez trouvé mon blog, mais je suis vraiment heureux que vous l'avez fait! Je pense que l'un de mes "30 avant le 30 de" aurait dû être de retour à Paris! À bientôt!
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

come sail away with me!

Do something I've never done before---it's not on the list, but SHOULD BE!
22. Spend more time outdoors.  - DONE!

Don't I look like a natural up there on the front of that boat?!?!

So this past weekend was a busy one.  On Sunday I was racin' for the cure, but Saturday was spent doing something I've never done before....SAILING!  It's kind of ironic that I've lived practically ON the Chesapeake Bay for all of my life but have never been sailing.  Fortunately Groupon was running a deal that was too great to pass up, and Brian (Sadie's dad) and I were able to sign ourselves up for a day on the bay!  It was great time because Brian's just returned back to Baltimore after his year of servitude in Columbus, Ohio, and it was great to do something together than neither of us had ever done before.

We got to Annapolis bright and early and after a brief 30 minute course in sailing terminology, we hit the deck.  Our sailing instructor's name was Kay, and she couldn't have been a cooler lady.  She's Australian and has been sailing for the majority of her life, and is actually sailing BACK to Australia in a couple of weeks---right from Annapolis!  Down into the Carribbean, through the Panama Canal and then heading towards Australia.  She said they'd be at sea for thirty days straight at one point--her longest leg at sea ever.

Yeah, she's way brave...

Anyway, we spent the first half of the day on the water.  We learned all the terminology....aft, bow, port, starboard, leeward, windward, boom, rudder, tiller, jib, main sail, spinnaker....I'm not going to pretend that I actually remember what all of these terms mean today, but in the moment my short term memory was rocking and I was shouting out calls like a pro!

We were lucky that it was a stunningly gorgeous, beautiful day.  We sailed past downtown Annapolis, took a peek at the Naval Academy, and then came back for lunch.  After lunch we went back out for the second half of the day.  That's when we really got to put what we learned into action.  Kay sat back and let us go at it..

"Helms a lee!"
"Ready to jibe!"
"Change point of sail!"
"Preparing to tack!"
"Jibe ho!"
"Secure the halyard!"

Not gonna lie, I felt a little like a pirate. ARRRRGHH MATEY!!

All in all, I learned that sailing is a lot of work, but most definitely worth it.  Especially on a day as beautiful as the one we had.  I can see how people can get addicted to this hobby. I'm not sure if a boat is in my future (since it's also a very expensive hobby), but I'd love to get out on the water again sometime soon.

Just next time we'll plan ahead and bring a few dozen steamed crabs and ice cold beers :)

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Monday, October 4, 2010

racing for the cure


Do something I've never done before---it's not on the list, but SHOULD BE!

This is Blanca.  Blanca is the first person in my family to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Let me back up and explain.

Baltimore is a city of neighborhoods.  Neighborhoods that are made up of communities.  Communities with lots of people who become your extended family.  I live in that kind of community now, and I grew up in that kind of community. Growing up my mom's "Mom duties" didn't just end with extended to the countless friends I had in the neighborhood, who would come over for dinner, or stay the night.  My friends' moms would become my moms too.  And when I went to their homes, same rules applied.  Blanca is the mom of two of my friends, so she has known me for awhile. So while she's not MY mom, she's part of my extended community family..and that is how I can say: 

Blanca is the first person in my family to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Without going into all of the details, she was diagnosed and went through treatment for the bulk of last year.  It was one hell of a year, but she is now in remission and gets the title of "survivor."

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Blanca announcing that she would be walking in this year's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.  My first thought was, "sure I'll donate, but I wonder if she'll let me walk with her."  I've always wanted to do the Race for the Cure.  I even want to do the Breast Cancer 3 day, but I didn't think I could raise the money (well, my Over the Edge  fundraising experience really invalidates that reason!)  I've always thought about doing the Race for the Cure, but didn't have anyone to do it with.

So I asked. 

And she said sure.

Today I walked with Blanca.

We met at her house before the sun came up.  When we got to the location of the race, we were there just as they were setting up for the Survivor's Photo, so we scrambled to get over there and Blanca took her place on the stands.

At first there were a few women, so I snapped a photo on my crappy cell phone.  I didn't have the Canon with me...and I regretted it for the rest of the day.

Then a few more showed up...

And then more...until finally it was just a sea of pink.

Survivors got to wear special pink shirts while the rest of us wore white.  It wasn't until I saw that sea of pink grow and grow in front of me that I really "got it."  I didn't understand why this cause got so much attention--there are deadlier cancers out there, after all, but once I saw this special sorority of women warriors, I got it.

Women hold up half the sky.

These women are all someone's mother, or wife, or sister, or aunt, or daughter, or cousin, or neighbor, or best friend.  We all know that women are almost always the nucleus of our families.  I come from a long line of awesome women, and it's evident in my own mother is the backbone of my family who provides support and strength and stability.  My grandmother is the hearth where we all gather around and feel her warmth.  My great grandmother was my confidante and number one cheerleader.

Women make families work.

And when something threatens to take women out of our families...we rally.

So we waited for the rest of Blanca's group to arrive, and milled around checking out the booths (there were a TON).  When we found the rest of Blanca's group, Nueva Vida, they donned their pink wigs and we got ready to roll.

 After many, many, many photos were taken, we started to walk.  

The sheer number of walkers would've been enough to blow you away.  But when you're walking in the crowd, you can't help but feel the solidarity.  You feel the hope and positivity.  You feel the strength in numbers.  

As we walked, I looked around and saw other women in pink Survivor shirts and thought about them and their families.  All of those women can tell the story of the day they received their diagnosis.  All of those women remember what it felt like to break the news to their families.  They can remember the burning of radiation, the shedding of their hair, and sickness of chemotherapy.  They can remember what it's like to have to decide which body parts to sever, in order to save the rest.  

Selfishly I pray I never learn what that feels like.  I'm so lucky that I have no history in my immediate family.  So that's one advantage.  But you can never think you are immune.

It could happen to me.  It could happen to my mom.  It could happen to Sadira.

And so we walked.

Some groups wore shirts honoring women who didn't survive their battle with breast cancer.  One group had t-shirts for Bev...who was born in 1969 and passed away on August 19th, 2010 of breast cancer.  For Bev's family and friends the wounds are still fresh.  Their grief is still raw.

And so we walked.

And we walked until we reached the finish line.

At the end there was a human tunnel of people cheering and the Survivors were supposed to run through while receiving their high fives.  Blanca's not really one to call attention to her illness, so she tried to dart off to the right and avoid the line, but I wasn't going to let that happen.   I had to grab her and practically stuff her in and didn't let go until I knew she couldn't escape because there were more people behind her.  I wanted her to feel the positive energy, and all of the love and support coming from these perfect strangers who were celebrating her, and her survival!

There were cheers, tears, hugs and rejoicing.  The Survivors were celebrated like rockstars.  These women warriors who fought their bodies and WON.  We celebrated them, their journeys, their survival and the fight to end this cancer in honor of all of the women who lost their battles.

And so I'm grateful.  Grateful that Blanca is here with us today to do this walk.  Grateful that I not only got the chance to experience this, but also got to walk with an entire group of SURVIVORS!!  And grateful that so many are committed to trying to eradicate this cancer.

Now it's on to planning the 3 Day!

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