Friday, September 28, 2007

THiNK PiNK During October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month

What is more fun than the color pink? I can't think of much. Yet in October, pink symbolizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month - a time when people band together and reflect on a cause affecting thousands of our nation's women (and men).

When I was in college, I had a breast cancer scare. My doctor found a lump during my annual exam and wanted me to watch it for the next two weeks and then come back for a follow-up appointment. Me, being a na├»ve 20-year-old, didn’t think to ask too many questions and proceeded on as normal. Upon telling my mother and worrying her sick, I started to think about it a little more… what if I did have cancer? Those next two weeks of wondering were unsettling… It’s not the best thought to have when you are in college and trying to find a balance between hitting the books and appearing at parties.

Thankfully, I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t have to be faced with a sullen look on a doctor’s face upon my return visit to the office. The lump had disappeared and I had nothing more to worry about.

That event inspired me to always make sure I educate people (especially my girlfriends) about the importance of annual breast exams. I would hope all of you – especially during October – are reminded of this wherever you go out in public and are faced with the sea of pink out there.

To honor the month, I did a little digging to find some of my favorite pink-inspired products with proceeds benefiting a legit and wonderful cause - the Susan G. Komen For The Cure.

Here were some highlights:

* HOT for a Cause travel mug ($17.99, available at Komen's Promise Shop) By using this mug, you can show everyone that you are HOT for a cure – and a world without breast cancer.

* Every woman's fantasy: the color pink + chocolate.
M&M's has created a special pink pack of M&M'S called the "Promise Blend" with 10% of sales going to Komen. These are so cute!

* Panera Bread is producing their Pink Ribbon Bagel (very delish and only 89 cents) during the month of October with 25 cents of all bagels sold benefiting Komen. This is my office's favorite... try it and prepare to be amazed!

* If you're blind like me and use Bausch & Lomb's Renu Contact Solution, why not buy something for a cause? Plus, it comes with a sassy pink case and 75 cents of all boxes sold benefit Komen.

* Oreck Corp. is selling a special pink Oreck vacuum cleaner, making cleaning much more fun in pink. For each one purchased through the end of this year, Oreck will donate $50 to Komen, with a minimum donation of $500,000 and no maximum limit.

See more here:

So Komen does great things, but what's the story behind the organization?
I was curious to know too. Come to find out, the founder of Komen - Nancy G. Brinker, lost her sister "Suzy" to breast cancer. It was Suzy's desire to help others and work to defeat the terrible disease that gave Nancy the inspiration to create such an amazing organization. Read the story here.

This month, remember breast cancer doesn't just exist as another disease in the world. For many of us, it has touched our lives in some form or another – whether it’s in ourselves, in our mothers, grandmothers, sisters or friends.

THiNK PiNK this October.

Falling in Love With Fall

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."
- Stanley Horowitz

Even though I missed the technical date for the autumn equinox, I still wanted to throw this in... Who can beat Michigan in the fall? We are one of the lucky ones that get to experience all seasons, just remember that and be thankful.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Save the Planet via Peanut Butter!

Who doesn't like peanut butter and saving the environment? My Twitter buddy 21 Century dishes here:
Check it.

When Shopping, Don't Forget About Michigan

How ironic, I was just thinking about doing some research and writing a blog about all the wonderful Michigan-made products that are out there when I came across a great story today by Kate Lawson of the Detroit News featuring such foods (see article: Buy Local, Buy Fresh).

I had the "blog idea" last night when I was reflecting on all the chaos that is swallowing up my beloved mitten state. I started playing scenarios in my mind that could help our state to flourish like it did in the 1920's, and I came up with this thought: What if Michigan closed itself off from the rest of the states and began fending strictly for ourselves? No national trade agreements needed with foreign countries, no milk and cheese from Wisconsin or pineapple from the tropics... We could only eat our food and use Michigan-made products. I quickly realized that that situation could never happen, but alas, made a note to myself to start paying more attention to where my stuff originates.

Granted it can be a challenge, but it truly would be great if we all agreed to try to buy Michigan-made products when given the opportunity to choose (regardless of price). Sure, sometimes the no-name Michigan brands prove to be more costly then all the products we have from China, but doesn't it feel good that we are helping our state that so desperately needs our love and support?

So what are some Michigan-specific products? You have the infamous Faygo pop, Koegel hot dogs and Better Made chips, but what else is out there?

There's condiments, dips and marinades. Cherry-made products, including wine. Golf and hunting items. And of course, fresh meat and produce from Michigan farmers.
And according to the article, there's a lot more and I've only highlighted a few:
Sauces: Al Dente pasta and sauces; Andiamo's sauces; Sweet Lorraine's marinades; Garden Fresh Gourmet salsas (my personal fave) Billy Bones barbecue sauces; Sensonetti salsas; Cafi Cortina pasta sauces; Freshwater Foods toppings, sauces and marinades; American Spoon Foods jams, jellies and preserves; and Kenzoil.

Breads and desserts: Achatz pies; Avalon Bakery breads; Gayle's Chocolates (another amazing one); Johnny B's cookies; Alinosi's ice cream; Stucchi's ice cream; Guernsey Dairy; Spillson's Rice Pudding; The Bloomfield Canopy's The Original Cheesecake Co.

Miscellaneous: Buell Honey; Safies pickled beets, asparagus, peppers, beans, pickles; Wee Bee Farms honey; A Bean To Go Coffee; Germack nuts; Trenary Toast; Stakich bee pollen and royal jelly; Kingslake & Crane Granola; Zingerman's coffee, breads and cheeses; and oh, the Michigan wines.

For a comprehensive, Michigan-specific list of products, check out this site: The Directory of Michigan Made Products.

So next time you're shopping at a Michigan store, think of putting your money back into the state a bit. And, most importantly, don't forget your post-consumer recycled tote to carry all your goodies in.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lions Club Does Not Just Mean Tootsie Rolls

I never really had an understanding of the Lions Club and what they do until the following news release prompted me to scope out their Web site...

Come to find out the Lions Club really does a heck of a lot more than pass out candy for pennies at grocery stores -- they help people, and in a major way. Here is another example of how Americans have helped our so-called "enemies" in Iraq.

American Soldier and Wisconsin Lions Clubs Team Up to Give Iraqi Girl Chance to See
Lions Clubs, Aspirus Wausau Hospital and Lions Eye BankDonate Corneal Transplant to 7-Year-Old

Wausau, WI - (August 27, 2007) - Sergeant John Kempen, United States Army, and the Lions clubs of Wisconsin could help a 7-year-old girl from Iraq see clearly for the first time in her life after she receives corneal transplant surgery next week. Kempen, stationed in Iraq from August 2005 to December 2006, noticed the girl, named Zahraa, couldn’t see well when he was tossing candy to her.

“We always threw candy to the kids and gave them the presents people sent from the U.S.,” said Sgt. Kempen, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. “We were in Iraq for 14 months and soldiers got really bummed out so giving gifts to the kids cheered us up. The kids love it; and they really go after the candy, but Zahraa could never get any. She was holding her hands over her eyes in pain.”

Sgt. Kempen, now stationed at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks Alaska, took Zahraa to see his medic and then spoke to Iraqi doctors who said they couldn’t help her. He spoke to Zahraa’s father who said that she was born with a vision condition and all the doctors could do was give her eye drops that had little effect. Her father said Zahraa has felt like she has sand in her eyes ever since she was a baby.

“Zahraa has swollen corneas and blisters on the front of the cornea which is why she can’t see through them very well,” said Doctor Kevin Flaherty, M.D, who specializes in corneal external disease at the Eye Clinic of Wisconsin. “The front surface of her cornea is breaking down from the swelling which makes her uncomfortable and the blisters make her feel like there is a foreign object in her eye constantly, hence her description of the sand.”

“Zahraa’s vision is at 20/400, which means that with a lot of effort, she can barely make out the large ‘E’ on the eye chart,” Dr. Flaherty continued. “It’s like she’s looking through a very steamy window. She can see objects and shapes but she cannot make out anything clearly.”

A year ago Sgt. Kempen turned to the Lions clubs, known for their work to combat preventable blindness around the world, for help. His mother of Crandon, WI worked with the Crandon Lions Club to arrange for Zahraa to enter the U.S. to be evaluated by Dr. Flaherty at the Eye Clinic of Wisconsin.

“Through the help of the Lions clubs and Sgt. Kempen we’re hoping to help Zahraa see as normally as she can,” said Dr. Flaherty. “I am optimistic that surgery should improve things for her. She hasn’t had a clear cornea for many years, but she’s of an age where she still has the opportunity to have her vision improved.”

The Lions clubs of Crandon and Wausau, WI worked with Sgt. Kempen, his mother and Lions Clubs International to arrange for Zahraa to receive the corneal transplant. The corneas and surgery will be donated by the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin in Madison and Aspirus Wausau Hospital. The services will be donated by Dr. Flaherty and the Eye Clinic of Wisconsin.

“We are so happy that Zahraa and her grandmother are finally here. We have worked hard to make this happen,” said Frank Bocek, past president of the Crandon Lions Club. “Sgt. Kempen and his mother called us because they knew Lions fight blindness—and that if anyone could help Zahraa, it was the Lions. This was a real community effort and we thank Aspirus Wausau Hospital, the Lions Eye Bank and all the others who helped make this possible. We hope we can help Zahraa see well and make her eyes feel better, too.”

The Lions of Wisconsin were able to work through many channels to help Zahraa and her grandmother obtain American visas. Students from Crandon Elementary School raised money to help fund Zahraa’s travel to the U.S. A Wausau-based Lion and seasoned host family will house Zahraa and her grandmother for the duration of her stay in the U.S. which will last at least eight weeks.

Lions are well known for their work to end preventable blindness, which began in 1925 in response to a challenge from Helen Keller. Over the past 16 years, Lions have given $202 million in grant funding for sight-related projects such as cataract surgeries, building eye hospitals and clinics, vision testing in preschool and elementary schools, distributing sight-saving medication to prevent river blindness and training eye care professionals.

“The fact that the Lions were able to bring Zahraa to the U.S. alone is a miracle,” said Sgt. Kempen, who will visit Zahraa in Wisconsin during her recovery. “Now if they can help give her the gift of sight or even just stop the discomfort she feels in her eyes, all the hard work will be worth it.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NOW OPEN: Asian Village of Detroit

Photo by Jason Grant Benberry

Everyone needs a little sushi in their lives and with Asian Village of Detroit finally open, us downtown workers can now enjoy it daily!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Look on the Bright Side

I read this forwarded email from my mom and got to thinking... there really ALWAYS is a positive to things.

John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"
He was a natural motivator.

If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, "I don't get it!

You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?"

He replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or ... you can choose to be in a bad mood

I choose to be in a good mood."

Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or...I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it.

Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or... I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.

"Yes, it is," he said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood.

You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live your life."

I reflected on what he said. Soon hereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.

I saw him about six months after the accident.

When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins...Wanna see my scars?"

I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.

"The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter," he replied. "Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or...I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked

He continued, "..the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man'. I knew I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me," said John.

"She asked if I was allergic to anything 'Yes, I replied.' The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'GRAVITY'!"

Over their laughter, I told them, "I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead."

He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude... I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

Attitude, after all, is everything. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

After all, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Smile's Worth A Prayer of Thanks

"I just like to smile. Smiling's my favorite."
- Buddy the Elf from Elf

Have you ever thought about physically not being able to smile? Such a natural expression to most of us... except those that suffer from Moebious Syndrome.
I learned about Moebious Syndrome on Discovery Health's "Medical Incredible" show. It prompted me to do a little research. I learned that it is a muscular weakness on both sides of the face, due to facial nerve paralysis. The girl who was featured just wanted to smile and be "normal." My heart broke as I watched the show.
It made me start to imagine a life without smiles... when a friend says "say cheese," you can't give anything but a blank stare. You hear the funniest joke ever and you can't show your appreciation to the comedian. You see the most gorgeous person and you want to show your interest in them with a smile, but you simply can't. My smile is a gift I never realized I had until today.
Just another life lesson in not taking anything for granted.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Red Scarves Benefit Orphans

Crafters alert! Can you knit or crochet?

I surely can't, but I've been inspired to learn... After doing some research for a client, I came across this great organization that's making waves in the lives of our nation's orphans. It's called the Red Scarf Project and is a way a unique way to send warmth and encouragement to college-bound foster youth. I know as an ex-college student how much a care package from parents (or anyone for that matter) can bring sunshine to your day. Check out the site and the cause and knit away!

A great blog has started too as a result of this fabulous project, find it here: nownormaknits.