Saturday Surprise: Give Hope–Give a Hand

give hope give a handI thought I’d mix things up a bit by not posting a recipe or a book review, but something a bit different. This is the ‘Saturday Surprise’ edition of  I’m not saying I won’t post a recipe or book review in the future, but if I told you–you know, it wouldn’t be a surprise. (wink, wink)

Thursday, my department had a quarterly, half-day, offsite-meeting. We received an update on our business. Information on 2014 goals, infrastructure, how the business is doing, industry trends, etc., etc. And then came the point in the day when you do the ‘team building activity.’ For those in Corporate America, you know what I’m talking about. Not stand on a ledge, fall, and trust your colleagues to catch you, but you get the concept. Our activity was something I never would’ve expected and caught me totally off-guard, but was more fulfilling and humbling than anything I’ve done in a very long time : we built prosthetic hands.

We were organized into tables of 6 and then 2 groups of 3. Each team of 3 spent roughly an hour building a hand that will be sent to an overseas victim of a land mine. Never in a million years would I have thought that I could be apart of something so touching and impactful. The people who receive these hands will not have to pay anything–the average cost of a prosthetic hand being $3000+–and will have their lives changed forever. One man hadn’t been able to write in 20 years, until he received his prosthetic device.

The organization providing this incredibly phenomenal service is called LN-4 and their mantra is ‘Give Hope–Give a Hand.’ They were established when the founders lost their 18-year old daughter, Ellen, in a car accident. To create such a charitable and amazing organization as a result of such tragedy gives the word inspiring new meaning.

Right now, I’m typing–something I take for granted, often. One of my co-workers reflected that we (all those in the room at the time and I will venture to say quite a few who are reading this) have so much. More than many could ever possibly imagine having. And in less than an hour, a room full of people built enough hands to change the lives of almost 20 complete strangers–many of whom are children–in a positive way.

I encourage you to check out the LN-4 website. Learn about the organization. See how you can help. Or be inspired to help another cause, another organization, another person.

A Trip To See BryanBoy

I just started working with a branding coach, Brand id Strategic Partners. I am so excited! Jennifer Ransaw-Smith–the owner and coach du jour of Brand id–is someone I admire and have been wanting to work with for years, so even though she’s asked me some tough questions, given me lots to think about, and even more to do–I am pumped and ready for the challenge. And you all–my readers–shall reap the benefits.

IMG_0917As part of my ‘research’ for this whole thing called blogging (the reason I started working with Jennifer; to figure out where this is going, how to get there, etc.), I went on a field trip, yesterday. Thanks to my Twitter feed I found out that BryanBoy was going to be at Tyson’s Galleria–a mere 1-hour drive from me! And for those that may not know, BryanBoy is the most ultimate fashion blogger!

BryanBoy has been blogging since 2005, almost 10 years. I’m not sure I even realized what a blog was back then. To top off the experience, he was interviewed by Robin Givhan, a Pulitzer Prize winning fashion critic. So while this wasn’t exactly part of my homework from Jennifer, I’m sure she’ll agree it was invaluable.IMG_0915

BryanBoy answered tough questions from Robin, showed  different styles he had put together from Mulberry and Burberry for the season, and then took audience questions. Oh, I would be remiss is if I didn’t mention who managed the event– Aba Kwawu of the Aba Agency–and it was awesome! Just the right amount of time and style. From the black chiavari chairs to the reception where asparagus wrapped in shaved beef was served, it was perfect. And it was free.

IMG_0918IMG_0921Tidbits from the Q&A: BryanBoy still considers himself an outsider in the industry. He only blogs about things he loves; however, if he has a bad experience, he will be vocal about it on Twitter. He started his blog as a travel blog and it evolved from there. He’s never had a ‘day-job,’ before blogging he was a freelance web developer. Some of the people in the industry he loves and respects are Rumi Neely (FashionToast) and Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist). And one of the things he said that has really made me think is, his blog was born of him doing something he loved, sharing his opinion and stories about his life, wanting to make people smile, and it evolved organically, ultimately, with companies coming to him.

What an inspiring story and experience–though I will say, I was grossly under-dressed. As my Accountability Partner always says, I may have found ‘my people.’ Stay tuned!

My Mammogram Experience

breast cancer awarenessI have been meaning to write about this for a while, but it was difficult when I was in the moment and once it was over, I moved on. However, in honor of breast cancer awareness month, I thought I’d discuss my most recent–as well as past–trials and tribulations with the ta ta’s.

For those that don’t know, I’m over 40. 42 to be exact. So, at the behest of my gyn, every year I get a mammogram. I’d had 1 or 2 prior to turning 40 so this wasn’t anything new.

2 years ago, my mammogram showed something ‘suspicious.’ So, I was sent to get a biopsy. The biopsy’s I have had in the past–because I’ve had a few of those too–consisted of taking a needle, drawing some fluid ‘stuff’ and then I would go on my way. 2 years ago, the biopsy I had was more of a procedure. They took something that did not resemble any needle I had ever seen, though that’s what they called it, and inserted it into the suspicious lump. After extracting some of the ‘stuff,’ they went on to put in a titanium clip and send me on my way. (At this, my one friend freaked out and wanted it removed. I have to say, walking around with a titanium clip in your body isn’t something I had signed up for, but I figured my doctors knew better than I on this one. Not to mention, I already have a mouth full of metal (in my opinion) due to fillings, so what’s a little titanium to join the party? (Yes, I get the new tooth colored fillings now like everyone else. But I digress…))

pink-bg_01Fast forward to a few months ago. Once again, my mammogram showed something suspicious and I needed to go back for further tests. Receiving that letter is unnerving enough, but in my mind I said, fine. So off to get an ultrasound I went. Now, here’s where it gets ‘amusing.’ I have the ultrasound done and the technician tells me it’s a fibroid; we (meaning women) get these, it’s no big deal; and the doctor will be in shortly to discuss things with me. Ok, that makes me feel better.

Enter the doctor: “The lump is the size of an olive and has doubled in size in year. It’s growing too fast and I’m going  to recommend either surgery or a biopsy.” Ummm…1: This is why the technicians aren’t allowed to discuss results. And 2: Surgery OR a biopsy? Doesn’t the biopsy usually come before surgery; how is this one or the other? She assures me she will send my results to my gyn and we can discuss options.

The gyn call: (I love my gyn, but it did take a full 24 hours for her to call me back. And while she deals with this sort of thing regularly, the diagnosis of surgery, biopsy, and discussing options is not something I hear every day.) My gyn tells me that when something grows at this rate the doctors become concerned that they missed something. Well, now isn’t that something everyone wants to hear? “Concerned they missed something.” And why is it with every medical professional I talk to my situation becomes more and more grave? Didn’t we start out with the tech saying it was nothing? So, my gyn says she doesn’t want it to grow and start to become bothersome to me and her initial thought is to have it removed, but she wants me to see a breast surgeon–who specializes in nothing but breasts. Oookkk… (Mind you, at this point, my cousin is preparing to take off work to come take care of me post surgery and I’m essentially making out my mental will since my family and cancer in general, do not have a good track record.)

The breast surgeon: Dr. Schnaper at GBMC is AWESOME! She is the head of the breast center at GBMC and just a generally awesome doctor. Yes, it was very unnerving entering the breast center wing of the hospital but once she entered the room–all anxiety seemed to dissipate. As it turns out, my lump was benign and does not need to be removed. But the entire experience was daunting and eye-opening. At 42, I am still young and there are so many things I want to do, places I want to see.

I sometimes have to remind myself that this happened to me. Once I found out I was ok, I just moved on with life. But while in the midst of it, I was really taking stock of things. (So off to Texas I went for my niece’s sweet 16 party; I shopped more than usual in Hawaii, and I’ll be in Tampa in a few weeks with 2 of my closest childhood friends.) I want to remember, not the anxiousness and fear, but the fact that no one is promised tomorrow, life really is short, and you have to take care of yourself. But above all, while you’re here on earth and have the chance–LIVE!