Monday, January 24, 2011

Make 2011 a Charitable Year

In the past, I've selected various charities to support, either monthly or quarterly, and blogged about them in hopes of attracting more support for them.  I tried to pick new ones as often as possible, to make myself research different causes and broaden my pursuits.  In 2010, my goal of being diversified changed because there were various happenings that made me focus my donations on a few specific organizations.  I decided to alter my approach and funnel more money to fewer places because of their personal significance.  I didn't make a good point of sharing them with you, though, and I wanted to do that now, in case you were in a charitable mood!  Here's where the majority of my donations went, and why:

1) Be The Match Foundation - Being chosen to donate bone marrow to a 10 year old boy with leukemia was one of the proudest moments of my life.  I was honored to have the opportunity to make a difference in this boy's life, and humbled at the possibility that I could save it.  I am so thankful that this organization is around, to help facilitate finding bone marrow donors and to perform research that could one day save lives.  I proudly donate to Be the Match, in honor of all the people who are eternally grateful for that stranger who signed up, and in memory of those who weren't so lucky.  If you are friends with me on facebook, you know that I plug BTM a lot!  Sign up to join the registry at

2) Susan G. Komen for the Cure - I can't say enough about the work that this organization does. Early detection and regular screenings are the best defense against dying of breast cancer, and the attention that Komen has brought to this disease has made a huge difference.  The number of breast cancer survivors continues to rise thanks to their efforts.  I've been a long-time supporter, but my level of participation increased after the mothers of two of my great friends were diagnosed.  While they were successful in battling the disease, another family friend, Dianne, was not.  Ever since her struggle began, I've become a fervent advocate of the cause and made my support of Komen a priority.  I vow to support Dianne's family every year that they undertake the 3-day race in her memory.  If you can spare a few dollars, their team could use your help as well (click the link)!

3) Leukemia and Lymphoma Society - Last year, a couple of friends suffered the loss of one of their good friends from Lymphoma.  I didn't know their friend, but these girls mean a lot to me, so their fight is my fight.  They support LLS in hopes that one day no one has to suffer the loss of a loved one from these cancers, especially at the tender age of 29.  I donate to LLS for that same reason, and because I never got to meet my uncle, who died from leukemia before I was born.

I promise to continue to make charity an important part of my life.  Whether it is through my money, my time, or my voice, I will lend a hand to important causes, especially the ones outlined above.  I remind myself that charity can also be practiced daily, though, in small ways - through a smile, with a kind word, through forgiveness, etc.  These acts are quite important as well.            

"Every good act is charity. A man's true wealth hereafter is the good that he does in this world to his fellows." - Moliere

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." - Churchill

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Little Help From My Friends

I already knew I was surrounded by amazing friends and family, but I still love getting reminders.  Recently I sent out a plea to some family and friends to help raise money for a worthy cause.  I can't give too many details right now, because the money is being raised in someone's honor, and the family isn't aware of this.  (We are keeping it secret for now, and plan on informing them when the time is right).  Most of the people I sent the request to don't even know the family personally, but they jumped at the chance to help.  This is what I love about them.  They are kind, generous, loving people who don't hesitate to help others.  I am so proud to surround myself with family and friends like this.  I think our fundraising goal is attainable, through their generosity.  Hopefully soon I will be able to reveal the recipient of this endeavor.  In the meantime, a big thank you to the wonderful people who have helped already.  My favorite quote has never felt more relevant:

"The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit." - Nelson Henderson

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Patience Young Grasshopper

So I got all excited last week, thinking I would be making contact with my bone marrow recipient in the near future.  I had filled out the consent to release information form and thought we were good to go.  Wrong!  Turns out the one year waiting period restarts when you make an additional donation.  The bone marrow procedure happened last January, but then in June I donated white blood cells to the same boy.  So, they are going to make me wait until next June.  Boo!  :(   

I haven't received any additional information about the boy, other than he is doing well.  I presume he is 11 years old now, but that's about all I know!  I have no idea even what state he lives in.  The NMDP did tell me I was allowed to write him a letter, anonymously, and they will forward it on for me.  I will probably do that, but I'm not sure what to say, considering I can't reveal any identifying information!  Oh well, I'll think of something.  Can't wait until June!

Be the Match.  Save a life!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Brace is Off

Because of my positive visit to the orthopedic doctor last week, I decided to stop wearing my brace completely, as of last Friday.  Things have gone pretty well!  I'm nervous about tripping or bumping into other people, but I figure I have to get over that fear sometime!  I'm experiencing a lot of pain and soreness, which is to be expected, since I'm now bending my knee with every step.  I went from 6 weeks of no bending, to constant bending.  It's quite a change!  I still have trouble with incline variations, and I will be forced to continue tackling stairs by putting both feet on each step and pushing up with my left only, for a while longer.  But, every day I will get a little stronger.

This morning I had my first physical therapy appointment.  I started off on a stationary bike with both feet on the pedals, but only pushing them up and down half-way, like a semi-circle.  I never did a full rotation.  Then I moved over to a table where I laid down with a cushion under my knee and the therapist attached two sensors to my thigh that would make my muscle twitch intermittently.  Each time it stimulated the muscle, I had to push my knee down into the cushion.  It felt weird, but it didn't really hurt.  After that, I went over to a leg press that had all the weight removed from it.  On a normal leg press, my body would be stationary and I'd push the weight away from me with outstretched legs, and then back towards me with bent legs.  On this one, however, when I pushed, my body moved back away from the weight plate.  I still ended up with outstretched legs and then bent legs, but there was basically no resistance.  I did that for a little while, and it wasn't too stressful either.  After that, the therapist gave me information on exercises I need to do at home.  I'll be going back for another session later this week, and then twice a week for the next three weeks.  I'm excited about getting back to normalcy, even if I am only on the first of many, many stages to come.       

Monday, January 3, 2011

Family Christmas Number 2

This past weekend, Meezy and I traveled to Amarillo to see his family for a belated Christmas and to celebrate New Year's.  We usually do a creative gift exchange with his mom's side of the family, and this year the theme was board games.  It's white elephant style, so we drew numbers and were allowed to steal a game from someone else.  (side note - you also have to wear a goofy hat while doing this.  Don't hate).  There were a lot of pretty entertaining games brought to the event, including a few I had never played before - Dicecapades, Buzz Word, and Hedbanz.  The best thing about this year's theme was that we could all still enjoy each gift, no matter who ended up with it!  We played a few of them as a family, and it was a great time!


For New Year's Eve, we went to a house party with a bunch of our friends.  It's a fun time of year because Meezy's childhood friends, no matter which city they currently live in, always meet back up there for the holidays.  It's nice to catch up with folks we haven't seen in a year, and it always feels like we had just seen them yesterday.  The night was filled with beer pong, flip cup, and zebra cakes to the face.  I wouldn't have wanted it any other way!

Before we left town on Sunday, we spent a little while with Meezy's dad and grandmother.  It was relaxing to sit and talk with them for a couple of hours, while enjoying a wonderful, home-cooked meal.  We don't get to see them nearly enough, and I cherish the time we spend with them.  I hope everyone's holidays were enjoyable.  Best wishes in 2011!