making a difference,
one step at a time

“Activism is the rent I pay for living on the planet.”   ~ Alice Walker

These days, many of us are profoundly aware that the rent is going up. And, out of our deep love for our lives, our world, and each other, we respond in countless ways — with our voices, our dollars, our time, our conversations, even our bodies, as we dig deep and work together to make things better for all.

As every long-time reader here knows, one constant for me over the last seven years has been an annual commitment to help improve the odds for women diagnosed with reproductive cancers.

It has been seven years since my dear friend Diane died at age 55, after a four-year battle with ovarian cancer. I think often of all she’s missed — a daughter’s marriage, a son’s graduation from business school, seven Christmases, seven family vacations in Maine, the list is endless.

But I also recall the powerful ways in which her courage and grace continue to inspire those she left behind.  Her example galvanized the rest of us — to be braver and more generous ourselves, and to do our part to make a difference in the lives of others, one step at a time.

Raising money and walking the Jimmy Fund Marathon route with Team Diane is my way of upholding the legacy of my own beautiful friend who died way too young. But it’s also a way to ensure that we — those of us who walk, and every single person who donates to this cause — are making the odds better for each of the 22,000 women who will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year.

A month from tomorrow, I’ll be out there, walking 26.2 miles to raise funds for Dr. Ursula Matulonis’s cutting-edge team of researchers at Dana Farber.  Dr. Matulonis was Diane’s doctor and, in the years since, she has become both a friend to our group and an inspiration to all of us who continue to support her work with the funds we raise. Thanks to the clarity of Diane’s final wishes, every dollar donated goes directly to Dr. Matulonis. In the last seven years, much progress has been made.

This year, I’m especially looking forward to Sept. 24 because Team Diane will welcome Diane’s older daughter and her new husband to our ranks. Also, my own “soul” daughter Lauren will fly up from Atlanta to walk with us.

Our team began with loved ones, but the circle has grown to include many who didn’t know Diane but who have been touched by her story or by cancer in their own lives. This cause, and our annual contributions, have far exceeded anything we could have imagined when we first set out to support a fund in our friend’s memory. I’m pretty sure she would be delighted to know how far the ripples have reached.

Many of us feel stretched thin right now, as we look for ways to promote healing in our world. That said, I’d be enormously grateful for your support, in any amount. And please know, I will be thinking of you and your loved ones as I walk on September 24.

(One thing I’ve learned over these last months? Paying rent actually feels pretty good – much better than the alternative!)

Click here to learn more and to support my walk: http://www.jimmyfundwalk.org/2017/KatrinaDiane

Gratefully,

Katrina

Support my walk, leave a comment, and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win two books.

It’s become something of a tradition for me to take this opportunity to give away a book or two, just to say an additional “thanks” to you — for reading, for being here, and for all you do.

If you choose to donate, be sure to leave a comment below. I’ll enter your name to win a copy of Mary Oliver’s “A Thousand Mornings” (because Diane and I shared a love of Mary Oliver’s poetry) and a signed copy of my own “Moments of Seeing” (because some of our long friendship is captured in those pages, and well, just because).

And if you want to meet Diane and see our team in action, take a few moments to watch this video Lauren created for us. It’s a great reminder of exactly why we do what we do!

Donating is one-click easy, here.  And I’ll choose a book winner at random on Sept. 25.  Needless to say, my heartfelt thank you’s will come to each and every one of you.

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choosing love over fear

img_1151-1“The world is violent and mercurial — it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love — love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love.”   ~ Tennesee Williams

I wonder what would happen if we were all to commit ourselves, over these next months, to small gestures of love, healing, and reconciliation? Would the national mood of distrust and divisiveness change for the better?

What would happen if we took our cues from the graceful, forceful words spoken yesterday by Hillary Clinton and President Obama, and by the President-elect as well, all of whom encouraged  Americans to come together now, and to do whatever we can, wherever we are, to repair our torn social fabric?

What would happen if those of us who grieved the results of this election chose today, and in the days ahead, to transform that grief into renewed determination — determination to create a kinder, safer, more tolerant country, one in which to be a citizen means to uphold our deepest national values of freedom and dignity and respect for all Americans?

What if we were to stake out this small territory as our first patch of common ground: a respect for our imperfect yet precious democracy, manifested by an insistence, from both sides, that the President-elect    start making good, right now, on his election-eve promise to reunite the country?  [continue…]

expectations

IMG_8239Before we can change anything in our life, we have to recognize that this is the way it is meant to be right now. For me, acceptance has become what I call the long sigh of the soul. It’s the closed eyes in prayer, perhaps even the quiet tears. It’s “all right,” as in “All right, You lead, I’ll follow.” And it’s “all right” as in “Everything is going to turn out all right.” This is simply part of the journey.
Sarah Ban Breathnach, from Simple Abundance

I was pretty confident I would be a kind of poster child for hip replacement recovery. I’m relatively young, not overweight, in decent shape for someone who’s been slowed down by advancing osteoarthritis for two years. In all that time, despite encroaching pain, I did my best to keep exercising. I continued my daily yoga practice, albeit a modified practice using blocks and a chair and bolsters. I waited a full year to see a highly recommended surgeon at one of the country’s best orthopedic hospitals. I scheduled my surgeries for 6 weeks apart at the end of 2105, so I could begin the new year with two new hips.

And I figured that if I followed instructions to the letter, did my physical therapy religiously, and didn’t push too far or too fast, I’d soon resume my old, normal life. Some people had warned, “This is major surgery.” But others said, “It’s no big deal.” Those were the ones I chose to believe. I was nervous, of course. But this had already been a long road. (I wrote about that here.) And within a few days of my second surgery, I had myself convinced I would negotiate this little patch of rough ground easily and soon be back on course with my life.

Yes, that’s called an “expectation.” And you’d think I’d know by now that getting attached to an expectation is a good recipe for disappointment. [continue…]

first steps

IMG_7679 (1)I just got off the phone with my son Jack. He touched in as he often does these days after school, to say hi, to tell me about the few questions he missed on a test, to let me know he’s going to AA tonight, where he’ll receive a 30-day sobriety chip.

It’s been a month since Jack had a beer or used any other substance, 80 days since he last smoked pot, his drug of choice.

At 23, he is meeting his own sober adult self for the first time. In a way, so am I.

These have not been ordinary days. But in all my years as his mother, I have never been so proud.

A month ago, on his 50th consecutive day of not getting high, Jack told me he was going to write a status update on Facebook to share what he’d been going through. My first response was concern for him, for his privacy and for the fragility of his still-new sobriety.

“Think carefully before you do that,” I said. He already had. He’d led a double life for years. And he didn’t want to do it anymore. So he put it out there, for all to see: [continue…]

things to love in january

Image-1January is the warrior month,” writes Vivian Swift in her gorgeous hand-lettered book When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler’s Journal of Staying Put. She continues, “It takes a warrior to soldier through these cold, dark, harsh January days.”

Indeed it does, especially for me this year. Maybe for you, too?

Well, even a peaceful warrior needs to be well armed. Here, a quick round up of my own best defenses.

Knowing I’d be mostly homebound and recuperating from surgery in January, hobbling around on crutches rather than trekking through the woods on my snowshoes, I decided to gird myself for the warrior month by creating a bit of structure for my days. The healing journey requires patience, but it’s also turned out to be an opportunity to enjoy some special treats for both body and soul.

Of course, you may simply be recuperating from the demands of life itself. Reason enough, certainly, to treat yourself! So do come along, and enjoy these simple pleasures with me. [continue…]