This photo was taken almost 4 years ago, and although its true that memories fade, and although you can't see my face in the picture, I'm pretty sure I was smiling. The dirt alone was enough to make a person cry, for heaven's sake, never mind the blisters, but I was grinning from ear to ear. I took this picture of my feet on the second day of the Boston 3-Day For the Cure, a 60-mile walk aimed at raising money and awareness to combat breast cancer. This was the first weekend in August, 2007 and it was 104 degrees. I don't think anyone's feet were made to sweat that much - so, yup - we got blisters - and heat rash - and sun burn. But no one that I encountered over those three days - and there were about 2,000 of us - no one, was whining. Why? Because the people of "The 3-Day" are a rising tide that inspires and lifts us all. I had never before been around that many strong, selfless, gracious and determined human beings in one place. The spirit of The 3-Day is infectious and I hope this blog will continue its spread. Maybe by talking about what I go through to fundraise and train for a 3-Day event, I can help people stay motivated and committed. I am proud to be associated with this cause. I am grateful I have the strength to walk. And I'm filled with joy that I can do it with such a great group of people. So I'll buck up and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Feel free to join me. But remember; no whining allowed!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cows That Don't Say "Mooo"

Some random thoughts on today's 11-mile walk. First of all , it was my birthday. I officially turned some age that made my youngest son say, "That's pretty old." My present from the gang of boys that I live with was pink boxing gloves - along with a series of kick-boxing classes that I have been wanting to take. In my humble opinion, there's no better cardio than that. So it was a great gift - hope the timing works out in such a way that I can really benefit from the class before "The Walk."
I have a number of things that are true constants on all of my walks at this point, like the fanny pack, my phone (in case of emergencies only, of course) and a water bottle. I absolutely love my pink stainless steel water bottle. I'm sure we could debate water bottles all day in terms of environmental and health-friendliness. The steel is a great option in a lot of ways. A draw-back is that its so darned heavy. Today, because the weather was in the 80's, I filled it with ice and the weight was definitely noticeable on my back. Something to think about. But my point was actually going to be that the real constant on my walks this year has been my beloved Red Sox hat - which is getting kind of disgusting. It is covered in sweat, has been rained on, dropped in the sand and is just plain dirty. I've got it at that really broken-in, comfy place where, to wash it is definitely going to change the way it fits and sits on my head. Any and all suggestions are welcome.
A final thought - has anyone else been affected by the fake cow phenomenon? I don't mean the public art sculptures like the ones installed in Chicago. I mean identical black and white, slightly shiny (so they must be made of some type of plastic) cows, placed in bucolic settings around high-end private homes set on lot sizes that are almost obscene if you're not actually going to farm them, essentially just "for show." In other words, simply to convey the essence of some idealized agrarian lifestyle. I was walking by the golf course today and 4 of these crazy things jumped out at me. Well , they didn't literally jump out at me. They're plastic after all and thus are perfectly stationary, which is what called my attention to them in the first place. I grew up around cows and while they can be quite docile and sedentary, they don't stand in synchronized poses without moving for very long. They're always swishing their tails or chewing or giving off some other subtle sign that they're alive.
I laughed out loud at the irony. My guess is, if the people who install the phony herds had any idea how much work cattle farming is, they'd lose their idealized notions about creating the appearance of a simplified life. My question became, at what point do you acquire a sufficient amount of capital to prioritize the purchase of artificial farm animals. Just given the sheer size, I'm certain the plasticized bovine weren't cheap. It reminded me of a book I recently read which I mentioned here in my profile. Its called "The Hole in Our Gospel." It talks about wealthy Christians in a time of great need in the world and it calls the values and priorities of some of America's wealthiest into question. You certainly don't have to be a Christian to recogize that we all have a certain humanitarian duty. People of all religions, and people with no religion at all, are all capable of compassion and regardless of how much money you have, you have to know that it is as important to give as to receive.
I just think that in a world full not only of poverty and disease, but also of war, famine, genocide, child trafficing, gender violence, natural disaster (I could go on and on), there must be better uses for our money than mock livestock. Kinda makes me want to convince the owners of the "copy-cows" to send them back to the factory and donate their refund to Susan G. Komen for the Cure or some other entity that is striving to make the world a better place.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

8 Weeks From Today

Opening Ceremony Friday, July 23
Farm Pond 100 Dudley Road Framingham, MA 01702
Schedule for the Day:4:00 a.m. - Crew members should arrive. 5:30 a.m. - 6:00 a.m. - Walkers should arrive. 6:30 a.m. - Opening Ceremony begins with community stretching.
I just pasted that in from the official 3-Day site. They have released some travel information for The Boston Walk including the opening and closing ceremonies locations and "night-before" and "night-after" hotel information. The route is still being finalized and no info is up yet on specific cheering stations but I was happy to see this! Farm Pond is where it all began for me four years ago. It will be great to be back there; this time with family and a whole network of support people who, like me, didn't have a clue that first year what it was all about but who are now up to their eyeballs in it! In a good way!! That year, my cousin, Caroline, had just been diagnosed and The 3 Day was the only thing I could come up with that would make me feel like I was doing something about it. I had no idea what I was getting into - and my kids didn't understand why I was going on these long walks or why I was having conversations with their dad about who we could ask for more money. And the youngest one really didn't understand why I was going "camping" for 4 days without him. As I've suggested here before, they definitely get it now. Perhaps not fully, but the parts that are probably most important for their generation to grasp have certainly become part of their paradigm since my first foray into 3-Day territory.

I remember my first trip to Farm Pond Park like it was yesterday. My tentmate Jenn and I woke up at 4:00 AM to catch the shuttle over from the Framingham Sheraton. We were both first timers and our bleary eyes struggled to take it all in. Beautiful, bright eyed women of all ages, who looked so much more awake than we did, were handing out stickers, and leis and glow sticks and flowers. They had on plastic-grass skirts and were dressed all in pink and their shirts had catchy slogans on them (some were even a little bawdy). We didn't know how to react or what to do with the stuff they were passing around. So we just rode the bus and blinked and breathed. I started to wonder if I was surrounded by crazy people and if this time away from my job and my family was going to have been worth it; if it would make a difference; if I would fit in and enjoy myself. To make matters worse, I hadn't had any coffee yet, so the questions just came in a cluttered and colossal cloudburst - then the bus stopped.

We were told to lug our gear over to the trucks for transport to camp and then to join our fellow walkers down by the stage to stretch and warm up. The bus door swung open and this colorful line of ladies proceeded toward the trucks. As we got closer, I could hear the music blaring. I recognized the song immediately, because I had spent many an hour singing along with it as a child - It was Neil Diamond; "Sweet Caroline." Everything came into focus. I knew why I was there. For Caroline; and for every little girl who might spend hours singing in a swing with one less thing to worry about. This would be only the first of many signs or messages or minor epiphanies that would come to me regarding The 3 Day over the years. But the bottom line is, it was just what I needed to sling the lei around my neck, put the stickers on my badge, fasten the flowers in my hair and hold my pink pinwheel high in the air. And to join My Fellow Walkers down by the stage.

Eight weeks from tonight, I will be more than two-thirds of the way thru my 60-mile journey. The photo above is of my assorted and aggregated "3-day stuff" which is kept hanging by the light switch next to my bed. It serves as a constant reminder of how much further we still have to go. And every time I hear Sweet Caroline, I re-commit to being there every step of the way.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Free Ice Cream

I don't live in a "neighborhood." Sure, I live on a street surrounded by other houses, but I wouldn't call it a neighborhood because there aren't any neighbors in the houses. Its really a seasonal community. Its the beach; what can I say?! Our family is in the minority in that we are "year-rounders." Most other houses on the street are occupied by their owners or by week-to-week beach visitors in the Summer and mostly by URI students September through May. Many are vacant nine months out of every year. So my boys haven't really had that experience of hanging out with the neighbors' kids and I feel kind of bad about that but then again, they do get to live at the beach! Anyway, this year, they have had a neighbor - A family with a daughter named Isabelle rented the house four doors down. They moved in last September and they will be leaving in about three weeks. (They have a sail boat and will be living on that for the Summer) I am sincerely hoping they come back next Fall because the boys have had a blast with Isabelle.

The weather has been so nice over the last few days and this little trio has ridden their bikes in the street til they can barely peddle anymore. They have played Star Wars with every stick long enough to resemble a light saber and have watched for marauding pirates from Isabelle's rooftop deck. Sunday night, she managed to convince my boys (yes, my most boyish of boys) to make a fairy bed with her from azalea flowers so her twinkly little imaginary friends would have a place to sleep. So sweet.

One night last week, when my husband got home, he asked why the boys weren't outside with Isabelle. I explained that I was making them help organize the sports gear in the basement - lacrosse helmets, baseball gloves, cleats, pads, bats - all strewn about the house (we need a better system, but I'll deal with that later). So my husband says, "But didn't you hear Isabelle? She's standing in the middle of the street between her house and ours yelling 'Free Ice Cream!'" The boys grabbed their bike helmets and darted out the door.

I can tell you with 100% certainty that the boys were not actually expecting free ice cream when they got to Isabelle. They were merely expecting that she would want to play. It was quite the clever PR effort on her part - and there was no false advertising involved because no pact had been broken; no trust had been violated. They all knew better. Isabelle only wanted to lure them out; get their attention - no one ever had any intent to share ice cream. The plan had worked and it was worth the minor deceit.

We kind of do that with The 3 Day. We lure people out with our talk of how awesome it is - how it changes lives - both for the people who participate and for all the people who benefit from the research that it funds. We tell them how much fun camp is and how yummy the snacks are and how everyone they meet will touch them and brighten their day. Its all true, of course! But nobody goes into it without also knowing that it will be hard. We all know better. Its hard on your body and soul. Fundraising is hard, training is hard, and the event itself is hard. We are "too inspired to feel tired" but our feet do hurt. The stories we hear lift our spirits and energize us but also break our hearts.

In the end, huge numbers of us keep coming back for more; and convincing friends and relations (and total strangers) to do the same. We don't do it year after year in spite of how hard it is. We do it because it is hard. So yeah, we know better. We know its totally worth it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bug Juice

I took a great walk yesterday; the usual route. It was overcast and breezy so I didn’t overheat and since it wasn’t sunny, I didn’t have to compete with beach traffic for a little strip of pavement. Had you been a passerby, though, you would have laughed at me. I imagine that for most of the way, I looked something like a dog who just spent some time at a fire hydrant; shaking one leg out behind him, then stomping it down and shaking the other. All because at some point, a mile or two in, I pulled a tick off my pants – and I REALLY HATE ticks. I was walking on-road so it’s not like I was in the wilderness. . . I became paranoid. I started obsessing about how it got there, how long it had been there, and whether or not there were more of them on me. So every few steps I would kick or stomp or jump, in an effort to reassure myself that I was getting rid of any hitch-hiking insects, beetles, bugs and arachnids. I checked the fanny pack: sunscreen, Chap Stick, lotion, sanitizer, Neosporin, hydrocortisone cream, Body Glide and baby powder. So, yeah, every topical skin application imaginable except bug spray. So there it is Walkers; your reminder! Now that the weather is nice and everyone is off their treadmills and outside walking in nature, beware of the creepies and the crawlies.

A little friend of ours is just getting over Lyme’s Disease. They realized it quickly and are keeping him on meds for a while to avoid any residual long-term effects – but he had “The Works” – rash, fever, Bell’s Palsy. Ten-year-old boys being what they are, many a joke was told in an effort to see poor Patrick smile, only to have one half of his face light up in a grin and the other half to remain motionless. To the sheer delight of every fourth grade boy in a 20-foot radius, of course. Yes, boys will be boys; but girls will be girls, too. A few years ago, my husband experienced a very similar thing with the Bell’s Palsy. When it came time to sleep, one eye would close but the other would stay open. In an effort to help him rest, my husband wore an eye-patch for a few nights, til the meds kicked in. I must confess to having told more than one bad pirate joke that week.

The good news is, both Hubby and young Patrick are doing well and they can both smile with their whole face now. But nobody wants to go thru any of that. And the long-term effects of Lyme’s Disease, if it goes untreated, can be quite serious. So, my 3-Day friends, please toss some repellant into your fanny pack. I know I’m not a “tip” blogger and I know others have covered the topic of gear and “what to carry” extensively so I won’t drone on. There are plenty of great options available: skin-friendly and environment-friendly bug sprays; heavy duty DEET-filled versions and non-toxic, chemical free ones. Just find one that works for you and that you feel good about using. Then slather it on and reap the benefits! No more itchy bug bites to ruin your walk! No more serious insect-borne illness! No more looking like a “relieved” dog! No more the butt of a tween boy’s joke!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

Everybody has their guilty pleasures. Maybe yours is old Love Boat re-runs or that repertoire of Barry Manilow songs on your MP3 player. Maybe its Nutty Buddy ice cream treats or nachos. Could be the Boot Scoot Boogie or the Detroit Tigers. As for me, I recently went through a “Davey Dance Blog” phase. (Drama alert - Nobody in my life is aware that I have been checking the dance blog web-site – I am revealing it here for the first time!!)

Davey is a guy traipsing about Europe and shooting a sort of video diary as he goes. Its unique in that there is no narrative. Nothing is written or spoken. Davey just picks a spot and a song on his I-pod and improvises a dance for the camera. Sometimes the song seems to directly relate to the place (like “Don’t Let Me Down” at the Leaning Tower of Pisa). Other times it’s much more of a puzzle. Davey is not a great dancer – but it’s awesome because he has so much fun with it. He’s in his own little world with his music even when there are hundreds of people around. Sometimes the people run the other way when Davey busts out his moves. Other times they clap or sing along or try to join the dance. I just thought the blog was brilliant because without Davey saying a word, so much could be conveyed. You could see where he was and how he was doing. You could discern details about the weather, his mood, his energy level and how much he was enjoying the people of the places he was visiting.

As an Urban Planner by trade, I always have to wonder about the geography of a thing. Was there something place-specific about the varied reactions to Davey and his dance? In some places, there was more of a collective response – like in Barcelona, a large group sits in audience-like fashion, watching from beginning to end, as if they had paid the price of a ticket. In other places, the reactions are very individualized, with some people staring and pointing and taking pictures, others glancing and moving on and still others who were oblivious to the whole thing. I then applied this query to The 3 Day.

This July will be my 4th Walk and having done three different cities already, I’m starting to wonder if the subtle differences in how we are received place to place is significant or attributable to anything. Don’t get me wrong – The 3 Day gets tons of support everywhere it goes and we all have our individual supporters that we just couldn’t do it without and they would follow us to the moon if they had to for a walk. But let’s face it; there are varying degrees of reaction to The 3 Day column of walkers – in our feather boas and butterfly wings; our pink hair and tutus; our giant bras on the outside of our clothes and all those crazy striped knee socks with gym shorts (and that’s just on the men! Ha!)

Just as some people applauded the charm and uniqueness of Davey and his dance moves, others shunned it – ran as if trying to escape, or (and I don’t know which is worse) appeared to not notice it at all. We 3-Day Walkers have seen it, too! There are those who welcome and applaud and adore and then there are those who look at us like we’re nuts. Maybe there are just two kinds of people in the world; 1) those who embrace each day and all that it brings (even if it’s a line of a thousand ladies chanting something about boobies); and 2) those that can’t break out of their box to appreciate, much less accomplish, anything that’s bigger than themselves.

If you have thoughts on the attitudes in the various walk cities please feel free to share them. All I know is, if there are certain places that seem to foster, produce or accommodate that first group, that’s where I want to spend my time.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I know I have written about running on this blog that's supposed to be about walking and here's why. At some point, I realized that there's no way I can stick to the training schedule recommended by Susan G. Komen for the Cure and The 3-Day. There are simply not enough hours in the day. The program has worked well for me in the past and I would really like to follow it, but its not practical right now. The schedule builds the strength and endurance in your legs and allows you to toughen up your feet. Its definitely a plan worth following. But before I started pulling my hair out with frustration, I stopped and considered my time constraints and realized that if I run some of those miles, I might be able to stay close to on-track. Problem is, I'm not a runner. So I wasn't happy about this solution, but it really seemed to be the only way. I started small. At first, I would just finish out the last half mile of a long walk by running, just to speed it along. Then it would be the last mile. Then it would be one mile at the beginning and one at the end. Now if I only have a half hour or 45 minutes, I just run 3 or 4 miles and call it a day. Then on the weekend, or some other less-eventful day, I try to do the longer walks as recommended.

On days that I won't have much time, I like to get the quick run out of the way early. Get up with the birds and hit the road. Something about the sun coming up and the smell of the air at the start of the day gives me just enough energy to do what I have to. Its not really an opportunity to stop and smell the flowers; its more of a set the I-pod to something really peppy, don't linger or dawdle and just meet the day and bang it out.

The longer walks, on the other hand, I like to save and savor in the evening. I have this route that I like to follow, especially once the weather gets warm. I head out westerly from my house and then turn north for a while. When its time to loop back toward home, I head east to the water. There's always a breeze there and it cools me down just as I'm really working up a sweat. The best part though, is that the sun is directly behind me for a while, and my shadow gets longer and thinner out in front of me the further I go and it makes me smile. I have almost deceived myself into thinking that its how I'll really look when I'm done walking! Just kidding - when I was a little girl, I always pictured myself as a tall and elegant ballerina as an adult. But then my growth spurt never came. Oh well. I'll settle for being an almost average height spunky walker instead. But those training walks are just one more way in which The 3-Day elevates me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Share the Road

On my way to a Historic Commission meeting last night, I crossed paths with this guy! He walked down Ocean Road like he owned it til he finally crossed over into the tall grass and headed toward the beach. He had a fresh kill in his mouth and was probably looking for a quiet place to enjoy it. In a few short weeks, I'll be walking, with a couple thousand other people, down the streets of Boston like we own them. But we won't have to scavenge for food; we'll be enjoying what's called the 3-Day Buffet! In addition to the more than adequate camp meals, the pit stops are well-stocked with every snack you could want. And as I recall, the Boston spectators, cheering section, walker stalkers, whatever you want to call them, are VERY generous with the treats. Popsicles, hard candies, Tootsie Rolls, lemonade. Its a lasting impression I'll have for years to come. The support you get from your fellow walkers is one thing - but these perfect strangers that may or may not have anything to do with the cause or the walk. . . . well, its very touching. Some of them just happen to live on the route and they cheer for you as you walk past like they're at a Red Sox game. And instead of being grumpy about the inconvenience of having their road closed for a little while, they stand in their yard on a hot day and clap as you go by and give generously anything that they think will help you. Some of them will spray you down with their garden hose if you look too hot and some will even let you use their bathroom - a REAL bathroom! That kind of random selflessness doesn't go unnoticed - but its very difficult to repay. I think the best we can do to acknowledge and honor it is to live that spirit every day; give generously; applaud people in their efforts; share your Tootsie Rolls; and pat people on the back (or better yet, give them a hug) when you see them working so hard to achieve what they believe.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wow! Was not expecting that to work - but it DID! Had some trouble getting motivated this morning - long Town Council meeting last night to discuss the budget (Hey! People! My department is four tenths of one percent of the budget - do I really need to be here?!) But I digress.

So I'm feeling droopy and bleary-eyed. I hit the "New Order" button on the old I-Pod. Suddenly its 1987 and I'm dancing at the Palladium - 14th Street and 3rd Avenue, before it was demolished. I'm super skinny and wearing something turquoise. Its three in the morning and Bizarre Love Triangle (extended dance remix) has been playing for a good six minutes. I could run all day to this stuff.

Monday, May 10, 2010

On-Line Check-In Complete!

With The Walk being only 11 short weeks away, on-line check-in opened this weekend. I'm official. I have selected my tent-mate, certified that I am medically cleared to walk, and paid for my towel service (best 12 bucks you'll ever spend). Also cranked out a perfect score on the safety quiz. As is to be expected, I guess, from an official card-carrying (orange badge-wearing) member of the safety patrol. Its starting to get exciting now.

It starts about 20 to 24 weeks out from an event: you start to gear up for it; plan it out; look forward to it. You start doing longer training walks and you amp up your fundraising. You meet new people who are just getting on board and you start running into people you've been seeing around the Expo's, shoe-fittings, Get Started Meetings, and local training walks for years. And you really do start to get excited. You get your web-page activated and personalized and every time someone posts something relevant to the message boards, or you get an e-mail alert about a donation, you get more excited. There's this countdown to something big and meaningful and challenging and fun and you can't help yourself. What's awesome about The 3-Day though, is that over time, it becomes a great deal more than a finite block of time that you devote every year. You become a 3-Day Walker year 'round! It starts to merge with your personality. You have to stop yourself from clapping when a group of people cross the street with you and you can fall asleep on any surface. You start craving icey cold PB&J between two graham crackers and you develop far less trepidation about public restrooms, because, let's face it, you've seen some pretty bad porta-pots. But seriously, you start to come across as a more determined person in general. You become stronger and more gracious in all aspects of your life. You never miss an opportunity to talk about the walk. You read about where the money has gone and feel proud to have played a role in that. Your patience with others expands noticeably as does your ability to adapt and be flexible. You tap into courage you didn't know you had. The beauty of The 3-Day certainly lies in what happens to a group of participants during the roughly 60 hours of each event. But to each of us individually, its what happens throughout the rest of the year that matters most.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Some Thoughts About Aprons on Mother's Day

A few years back, I was feeling stressed and I really needed a break. Too much was going on at work and at home and I was getting grumpy and sad. My husband realized I didn't get too many opportunities to relax and he suggested that I go to a spa for a long weekend. I'm not really one to lie around and get pampered but I liked the basic concept. I went in search of a spa that also had some adventure built in. I found one and I also found a friend who was equally stressed out - didn't have to look too far for that - and we ended up spending a week in southern Utah looking at petroglyphs, picking up ancient volcanic rocks and hiking in and around Zion National Park. We also got some manis and pedis and drank a whole lot of cucumber water along the way. We had a great and memorable time, but that's not really my point.

When I mentioned to my parents that I was considering this excursion - that I was taking some vacation time without my family and leaving the boys home with their dad, who was going to have a devil of a time figuring out how to get out of the house on time each morning - I fully expected them to question my rationale, the logistics, and maybe even my sanity. I just assumed my father would have something negative to say about this break in the routine in the middle of a school year. Instead, he said, "Well, its about time you took that 'blankety blank' apron off!" What?! I instantly understood what he meant, but at the same time, I was baffled.

I was/am the furthest thing from a housewife anyone can imagine. I work at a pretty demanding public sector job. I don't bake cupcakes or darn socks. My husband doesn't have a warm plate of meat and potatoes waiting for him when he gets home. In fact, if he doesn't cook it himself, he may not get dinner at all. And we don't sit in our easy chairs in the evening and discuss the day's events. If its springtime, we probably don't see each other during our waking hours unless its on an athletic field somewhere.

But I totally got that my dad saw my family as steeped in domestic predictableness. If it didn't directly involve my job or my kids, I wasn't doing it. I didn't have the time, energy or inclination. But for all the years that my father had known me, up until the time that I settled into motherhood, I chased adventures; stories to tell, photos to take, new people to talk to. African dance class? Sign me up. Driving a cattle truck to Georgia? Sure, I'll ride along and keep you awake. Your friend has a sail plane? I'd love to go up in it! That all came screeching to a halt about 10 years ago. So for my dad, that "apron" was the ultimate and iconic symbol of motherhood and domestic married life. And I guess in his mind, I needed to ditch it temporarily and get back in touch with that other side of myself.

My mom had aprons when I was growing up. I remember a pretty white one with red grosgrain trim; and a yellow one with brown flowers. They lived in a drawer in the kitchen with the potholders and such. It occurs to me now that I probably wore them more than she did. And when she did wear them, it wasn't with pearls, rouge, heels and seamed stockings as 1950's television would have us believe. No, the women I knew who actually wore aprons as part of their wifely uniform were women like my grandmother, dressed in a house coat and slippers, hair covered and unbrushed or maybe even in curlers. Her apron wasn't starched and pressed. It was utterly abused. She used it to clean all manner of gross stuff off her hands, and to carry ears of corn in from the garden, and to wipe our faces, whether they be stained with berry juice or chocolate or tears.

Anyway, I got these conflicting images of aprons in my head and I realized its been a while since I saw anyone wear one. You see them on certain waiters, or at the fish market. The cobbler who keeps the heels attached to my black vintage wing tips wears a leather one, but other than that. . . . I decided I needed to learn more about the history and use of the apron. I did some research. Turns out aprons go back to Adam and Eve when they first tied on fig leaves to cover themselves. They've been traced to numerous cultures throughout time. The actual definition of Apron reads, "A garment worn to protect or adorn the front of a person's clothes." Hmmmm. My father's comment took on a new layer of meaning.

Did Dad see me as using motherhood and domestic obligation as a shield of some sort, to get me out of not just jury duty, but other new experiences as well? Was I stretched so thin that I would forego a unique adventure that I would have jumped at before, and use my "mom" role as the excuse? Uh-oh. The questions mounted. Did I still have it in me? Could I look a new thing in the face and take it on without hesitation? Had my family become my apron, protecting me from embarking on anything new that might push me over some logistical edge (but that could, on its own, be enjoyable)?! Indeed it was time to take the apron off.

I went to Utah. And when I got back, I signed up for my first 3-Day. And I was walking in Boston that first weekend in August in 2007 and I reached a real low point. It was over 100 degrees. I was dehydrating. I had blisters, I was filthy, I was exhausted. Lightening in camp had caused an evacuation the first night and none of us had slept nearly enough. I was hurting by the middle of Day 3.

The safety crew in Boston is essentially a bike patrol. They are fabulous, fit, happy and generous people and my appreciation of them was already running deep. I could hear them coming up from behind and calling out that we only had a couple of miles to go. But I was hurting. A woman in front of me stopped and put both arms over her head to form that definitive "X" that says, "I'm done." "Bring me a sweep van and I'll ride to closing ceremonies." It was really tempting. Then the bike patrol blew by. I had forgotten that they had some sort of Classic TV theme going (The 3-Day is big on themes and costumes; every pit stop, every crew team, every row of porta-potties has some decorating motif). They all had on aprons, a la "Leave it to Beaver" or Carol Brady; aprons of every color, some short, just covering their lap; others long and billowy. Aprons over bicycle shorts and bright orange safety crew shirts. Their "fashion statement" had sent me a strong message.

We were having a great adventure. I was going to have plenty of stories to tell and photos to show. My arms never made it over my head to form that "X." They kept swinging at my sides, keeping pace with the steps that were leading me to the finish line.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Old Town Dump

I spent the better part of today stomping around the old town dump. It was actually quite lovely. The Town I work for has put a great deal of energy into capping the former landfill and restoring the site for use as a public park complete with walking trails, a bike path and picnic tables overlooking the cove. My job was to assess the condition of the plantings we installed to see what needs to be replaced before the warrantees run out. What I found was that a good third or maybe closer to half of the roughly 300 trees and shrubs that were planted last year were dead. No one species had fared better than the others - there was a good mix of everything from sumacs and cedars to dogwoods and white oaks to blueberry bushes and shadblow. Some had clearly been nibbled by deer or other wildlife. Others had been run over by 4-wheelers or other vehicles that weren't supposed to be there. A few were just brittle and bare with no buds or leaves for no apparent reason. Still others were covered with caterpillars and I was thinking gypsy moth while others were covered in ladybugs so I knew some other plant-eating bug was at work. . . . After some discussion with my co-workers, we came up with something that resembles a plan. Someone will get the entire site fertilized appropriately a.s.a.p. Someone else is going to get a pest guy in to spray everything that's still alive with something that will get rid of the bugs but not harm other living things (or the water quality of the cove) and someone else is going install some deer fencing and some boulders and bollards to keep vehicles where they're supposed to be. In the meantime, the dead vegetation will be removed and replaced. There's no magic bullet. We don't have a definitive solution or even a real good grasp of the problem since it doesn't seem to be any one thing, but everyone is going to do their best to address what they can - and we all believe that in a little time, the situation will improve.

The whole scene today kinda reminded me of cancer. When my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, I became increasingly concerned when I realized what a disproportionately high number of people at her work place had also been diagnosed recently. Phone calls to the State's (which shall remain nameless here) Health Department and Cancer Registry produced an astonishingly broad array of speculative "answers," none of which pointed to a definitive solution or even indicated a good grasp of the problem. They said everything from, "these ladies are delaying childbirth too long," to "their stress levels are too high," to "there could be a contaminant on-site but none of our tests have found it yet," to "their water bottles and yogurt containers are phthalate-laden." (Phthalates help make plastics transparent and maleable; they are also endocrine disruptors and estrogen replicators.) So in the absense of any one path to take or singular plan of action, what do we do?! Well, we're all going to do our best to address what we can. We are going to eat well. We are going to exercise and not smoke. We are going to limit our bodies' chemical burden and we are going to get our mammograms. And we are going to Walk. We are going to raise money for research and advocate aggressively for early detection met with a cure. And we will believe that in a little time, the situation will improve.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Think Pink

Since we are only 12 weeks away from the Big Event, I thought I would try to wear something pink each day - just to keep the momentum going - keep everybody interested - Today it is socks!

Reasons and Rationales

In an earlier post, I mentioned my 10-yer old son. I bring him up again because he is definately part of my motivation for continuing to do The Walk every year. A couple of years ago, the little sister of one of his friends was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer at the age of 5. I was speechless with disbelief when he came home from school and told me. I was still stammering and searching for words when he said, "Sure is a good thing you do that walk." I just looked at him as he continued, "You know, to raise all that money to cure cancer." I realized how linear and black and white it all is in my kids' minds. To them its inconceivable that this many people could work this hard to raise such a massive amount of money to fund such high quality research and not produce a cure. To them, there's a direct link between the number of miles I put on my sneakers every year and how long it will be before no one they care about has to face down an uncertain future because of cancer. There was no way to avoid signing up for another 3-Day after that. And last October, I had signed up for the 2010 Boston Walk before I left camp at the 2009 Atlanta event. I can't not do it now. When I signed up for my first 3-Day in 2007, my children had nothing to do with it - in fact, they would have made a handy excuse to get me out of it. But over the last four years, they have been the driving force behind my continuing commitment. They will be emboldened by what they see us trying to do and they will know that making the world a better place is a goal worth pursuing.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Yesterday after church, I realized I wasn't going to have time to do a long Sunday walk like usual. I decided instead to bang out a few miles quickly just to get in some semblance of a work out. I challenged my 10-year old son to take a 3-mile run with me - He's a quick little bugger and an all-around good athlete but I figured I had a tortoise and hare thing working in my favor since he doesn't usually go that distance all at once - I thought slow and steady might prevail. I was wrong. He beat me by a good six minutes - and that's after running back to check on me once. BUT - this morning, he thudded down the stairs to breakfast. He couldn't quite look me in the eye when I asked about the unusually heavy gait - he just mumbled something about his calves being stiff - and suddenly my steps got a little lighter - that'll teach ya to kick mom's butt! Just kidding - it was a pleasure to run behind his sprightly stride - and I'd try my best to keep up if he'd consent to go with me again