Go Pink or Go Home

“Autumn’s images are rare gifts that truly give light to the unique essence of a person, a thing, a moment of truth, of humor, of beauty.”
– Joy Shulman, musician

As October comes to an end, so do the colors of Autumn.  The vibrant hues that have graced our sunrises, sunsets and casual strolls, are now replaced with brown and grey.  The leaves are making their way from tree branches to curbside.  The warm days and cool crisp evening air is gradually becoming cold, cloudy and wet.  The sun sets earlier and rises later and once again we are reminded of the harvest of life. 

Somewhere right now a mother is nursing her baby girl gazing out the window at the autumn leaves.  While another woman breathes in the October air as she walks out of the hospital after her last chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.  Somewhere in a shopping mall, a mother is escorting her preteen daughter into a store to get fitted for her first brazier.  At the same time, a woman has just discovered a lump on her breast while in the shower.

After viewing the films from yesterday, a NFL star is grabbing his pink football helmet from the locker room while the field maintenance crew is finishing up painting a pink ribbon on the turf.  In that same city a woman is waiting in a gown to get a mammogram.  Across town there is a woman holding her husband’s hand as she learns she will need a double mastectomy to avoid the spread of her breast cancer. 

And as a new Autumn day arrives, a Firefighter walks off shift, holding his gear wearing his pink uniform to head home to his family.  In a dorm room in a small town, a college student is doing medical research on breast cancer for a report while in another town a surgical intern just assisted in breast surgery.  Somewhere in this world a memorial is being set up for a lost loved one, while a survivor registers for next year’s Race for the Cure.  But there is also a woman jumping out of bed, drawing her curtains open and gazing out into the Autumn dawn, as she bows her head to reflect on her first morning after learning she is cancer free.

I always wondered why October was chosen as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  It’s been told that the reason for October is because that is the month the first ever Race for the Cure took place.  Yet, I have always felt that as Autumn symbolizes change, life, vibrancy and death, so leads to my awareness of the cause.  Of course the fact that stores, institutions, professional sports teams and restaurants so to participate and all is turned pink in October, I can’t help to stay aware.  Yet, why stop on October 31?

Go Pink or Go Home
Go Pink continuously, right?  We might tear down the billboards, awareness promotion signs and replace our pink ribbon pins with snowmen.  Yet, it doesn’t mean we have to forget to support, to self-exam, to hug a friend or donate.  Go Pink this month, today and everyday.  Our mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmother’s and daughters count on us. The men who hold their hands, wipe their tears and embrace them rely on us also.  So I challenge you to Go Pink…today, tomorrow, this spring, when the pools open on Memorial Day and when the first firework explodes in the summer sky.

This post is dedicated to all of you, the survivors, and those we have lost but hold close in our hearts! 

Get involved, donate, support and let’s beat this!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

One more time, mommy, just one more time.  One more time to climb the steps and go down the slide.  One more push on the swing, just one more please.  Oh wait, mommy, I have to climb and slide, just one more time.  Now that I have finished my time swinging, climbing and sliding, just one more time to try the monkey bars.  Please, mommy?

So, I take a step back and patiently wait for, “one more time”.  Watching the innocence in play and not stopping until the sun goes down.  The rush of sneaking in, just one more time.  The chance to be in control, for a child,  just one time. The thrill in getting one more chance at play.

So I watch.  I wait.  I feel the warm Autumn air turning cooler as the sun sets and the winds aloft swirl about.  I hear the rustling of the fallen leaves as they whirl around me in the same fashion as my son.  The dance around me to get one more time to swing, and climb, and slide.

Then the leaves stop whirling and rustling, the wind kisses my cheek and the sun fades away.  It is quiet and still, and I see only a silhouette.  A silhouette that tells a story of a boy with much determination.  A boy with long curly eyelashes that could brush the feathers of a bird.  A boy who gazes out into the world before turning around to grab onto the monkey bars, just one more time.

Inch by inch he maneuvers his way around.  Around he goes for one more turn.  One more big breath before his decent.  One more tight grasp to make it across.  The wind begins to blow again, the leaves rustle, the sun sets and the moon makes an appearance in the evening sky.

Then he looses his grip.  One finger at a time holding on for one more try.  Then the last fingers slip and he comes to an abrupt but soft landing.  As I look over and down to him, I say, “Let’s do it again, just one more time.”



“Watch me at the window from your place on the couch, watch me pretending that I am really looking out. You say ‘come here, I can’t see you in this light,’ but I’m much safer beside the moon tonight. ‘Cause when I am a silhouette I have no fear” – Unknown


I Fought The Blackberry and The Blackberry Won…Maybe?


by SwimGirl October 15, 2012

You Put Up a Good Fight Blackberry
(picture courtesy of Yahoo Images)
As you all know, technology and myself have not been getting along lately.  My Kindle bit it last week, check that out here and my Blackberry phone is holding on to life by way of my hands and life support via a USB cable.  I have given this phone the will to fight and survive.  I have powered it up every 30 minutes.  I am constantly switching its battery daily like a wound that needs a dressing change.  I am dabbing its face with a cool, soft cloth.  I am holding it when nobody else would.  

I was loyal to you Blackberry when everyone else traded you in for the iPhone.  I have given you love and we held each other when our last BBM went iMessage on us.  Together we were alone.  But the fact that you are betraying me by dying on me constantly and causing me thumb arthritis, I am just not sure what is left to our relationship.  We are just not compatible with anything anymore.

As  for my cellphone carrier provider, they are constantly reminding me I am a valued customer since 1999.  By sending me promo items for things I cannot buy yet because I am “under contract”.  By telling me they value me as a customer every time I wearily walk into one of their stores.  By asking me how they can help me, Ms. Valued Customer, every time I call.  By putting it in big bold orange and blue letters when I log into my account.  I mean the only thing we are missing at log in is a mascot cheering me on and a hot dog stand.  Yet, when push comes to shove where in the world is all this value?  Where has 13 years of loyalty gotten me?

I’ll tell you.  Nowhere, but cell phone service.  Only because I pay my bill every month, in full and on time.  But if your phone should betray you and you need said phone for say things like, RUNNING A BUSINESS and managing a household of men, do not rely on the fact that longevity with the carrier will get you anywhere.  It doesn’t matter how many times you go into the store.  How many calls to “customer service”.  How many reminders that you are a loyal and valued customer since 1999 or that you are a fantastic bill payer.  When it comes to getting an early upgrade, and when I say early I mean two weeks, that value goes right out the door.

Two weeks people.  Two weeks.  You mean to tell me you can’t upgrade my phone two weeks early?  Is it because I have to keep up with the times and switch to an iPhone.  Has my Blackberry put some sort of curse on me?  Is it really going to make me suffer its long, slow death?  You put up a good fight Mr. Blackberry, let it go!  

I mean every 30 minutes I get a few breaths from you and every once in a while my finger actually maneuvers the trackball without the use of a tissue or my shirt sleeve.  I feel the Blackberry fighting to keep me hopeful and then when I need it to pull through so I can conduct a business appointment it freezes up and just stares at me.  I have to go through the embarrassment of undressing the thing in public, remove its battery and reapply.  Then wait patiently while it wakes from a slumber.  Then when I get proof of life again it acts like its three sheets to the wind.  Stop it Blackberry.  Stop holding on and just let go.  It is time.

As for you cell phone carrier people, you are about to close the doors on a customer of thirteen years.  I have stayed with you through dropped calls, lack of service in remote areas (like at the community pool), every price increase since cellphones were practically invented and have never, ever cheated on you. Even when the temptation from other carriers was almost impossible to walk away from, I never strayed.  This is what I get for being a good or as you say, A Valued Customer?

So friends, I am offering my carrier and Mr. Blackberry one more chance.  One more chance to let it go and keep me forever.  So, when I walk into the store today, this time it will be different.  Because when I walk out, I will feel valued.  I will be able to memorialize my devotion to Blackberry since 2006.  He can finally let go and be laid to rest.  So in Blackberry fashion, this is research in motion (RIM) and I hope you all are looking forward to an upgrade update post!   Will she or will she not, be in a new relationship with iPhone? Now taking bets.


Kindle You Bookstore Napper You

By Swimgirl October 9, 2012

Picture courtesy of Google Images
I want those book stores back!  The nostalgic smell of the home of new paper bounds filled with people flipping through the pages to find their perfect new keep.  Or just casual browsers looking to wear off a buzz due to one too many cocktails consumed at the restaurant next store.  Regardless of the venture to and from the place we all once new called the bookstore, there is something to be said about grabbing a book from a shelf.

But like many, in March 2011, I decided to go digital.  I couldn’t wait for the UP’s man to deliver my soon to be new library in a box.  I had visions for me and my Kindle with a built-in keyboard and 3G wireless download service.  I would be able to order up a book from anywhere.  Like while waiting in line at the License Bureau, in the privacy of my bathroom or beach bound in Belize, books were going to be at a touch of my finger tips.

They were to come to me immediately, with a lower “Kindled” price and  I could even return them in the allotted time allowed.  I could download a sample first to take a sneak peek and in the beauty salon, nobody would know what I was reading.  Privacy at last.  There would be no glare if reading in the sun and if I wanted to read at night, I could buy the leather Kindle cover with built-in LED light. Could this get any better?  Could reading ever be more fun?  You bet it could.  Because over the course of the year and a half I had my Kindle, this is what I learned.

1)  Don’t plan on going on vacation to read with your Kindle if you forget the charger.  Last time I checked, if I had an “actual” book, I wouldn’t need to charge it up to continue reading.  Yes this happened.  8 Shades into Grey I had to charge the battery while vacationing and charger less.  Ladies, you know what this did to me…

2) Don’t plan on setting your alarm to get up to read on your Kindle before the kids are up.  I set the alarm for 5:00 a.m., on a Saturday, lit a fire, grabbed a blanket and my coffee.  I was about to peacefully and quietly get absorbed into my latest downloaded book when the battery was completely drained.  It took me nearly 30 minutes to get it charged up and by that time, pitter patter of little feet.  Plans squashed.

3)  When the Kindle dies, just throw it out!  If the Kindle merely appears frozen, battery drained or non-responsive do not try to perform CPR.  Even if you are tech savvy, when it’s dead, it is dead! Don’t let that Kindle screen with boy reading under the tree and power bar that is stuck give you a false sense of hope.  That power up bar is flat lined.  Get out the box the damn thing came in and bury the shit.

4) If you need a place to wear off a buzz, the Kindle cannot help you like a Bookstore could.  The Kindle is not your saving grace when you have had one too many drinks and should not drive home just yet.  You can attempt to download, “how to shake a buzz in 30” but good luck reading the lines.  If you stroll into a bookstore, nobody is going to question why you are hanging out or browsing.  You can wander from aisle to aisle or do laps around the children’s section, eventually you will lose that martini buzz your co-workers evoked on you.  And if the ground moves below your feet, you are sandwiched between shelves that can cushion your fall.  Heck, you can even take a nap on a lounger and pretend you a reading.   Eventually, that after work buzz will get killed.

5)  You cannot call your friends and say, “Hey let’s hang out around my Kindle and study.  What?  But you can gather a group and head to a bookstore to engage in a study group.  If you want to bring your Kindle as a prop or to use as a lap pad, do it.  But no Kindle is going to bring people together to study like a bookstore could.

6)  You cannot register your child in the Kindle storytelling group on Tuesdays.  Or any other day of the week.  That’s right.  There is no child’s craft and reading group being conducted over the Kindle air waves.  Yet, at a bookstore, you can meet at a scheduled time to engage your children in a guided storytelling group to boost their love of reading.  Just think, what does your child think when you bust out your Kindle to read? You better believe your toddler isn’t thinking, oh mommy loves to read, mommy loves books.  No sir ree.  That child is seeing a piece of equipment and thinking how can I use that as a drum set.

7)  If you need a mommy break there is no telling your husband, I’m running down to the Kindle for a bit.  There is no running anywhere because everything is at a touch of your fingertips.  Every book, ever written known to man can be downloaded in an instant.  So if you need to bail, your Kindle just killed that for you.

8) If you need a little title privacy, the Kindle is your guy.  That’s about it.  That’s what a Kindle is good for.  But with that title privacy comes this; silence.  Oh yes, exactly how you may want it.  But where is the engagement from a friend, PTO parent or stranger?  People do not come up to you and ask, “How is that book you are reading?  Because you are holding a KINDLE not a book.  There is no exchange of words or conversing about your latest read.  It’s all secretive and shit.

9)  If you are 25 Chapters into the Hunger Games and are parched and need a beverage but cannot stop to make yourself a latte, your Kindle cannot make one for you either.  Yet, most bookstores gave birth to what’s called a cafe and if they are not with child, there probably is one in very close proximity.  At the bookstore or near the bookstore, you can keep reading while you are walking over to a counter to ask for a beverage.  You can’t download a latte to your Kindle.

10)  When you need a good people watching fix, the Kindle cannot produce.  Nope, nothing.  Just perhaps a very bizarre screen saver picture of some famous author you never heard of.  Interacting with or watching people is way more fun.  Bookstores offer these kinds of events.

You could sit for hours and hours at a bookstore and just soak in the atmosphere.  The people, the smell of paper bounds, the cafe espresso machine buzzing in the background and the casual encounter with a stranger.  You could search for numerous magazines and probably even read the whole thing.  You can properly skim a book rather than rely on the digital sample you get before the purchase.

You can plop little junior on Granddad’s lap and watch from afar as they share a memory over Gramps favorite childhood book.  You could watch as the child points and glares at the characters.  It is as if the characters are jumping off of the pages.  At a bookstore you can meet the love of your life or run into an old friend.  You can sit quietly, undisturbed on a lounger without needing an outlet and just read.

Kindle and all you Nooks and e-readers have kidnapped my beloved bookstores.  I want them back and am willing to ransom my digital piece of no good device to have just one more chance to make the bookstores thrive again.  So when I am old and gray I can take my grand kiddies to story time.  I can meet my girlfriends for a latte and discuss big business, 50 shades style.

I can drop my soon to be teenage children off at your doors and know they are in a safe and good place to learn, gather and grow.  I can rely on you if my purchase went bizerk but then again that doesn’t happen in actual print.  There is no such thing as a book recall or problem with short circuiting.  At a bookstore I can surround myself with authors from all over the world that took the time to engage us in genres ranging from fantasy to fiction and beyond.

Dear friends, if you still have a bookstore in your neighborhood, wether big box chain or small mom and pop resale shop, buy from them.  Buy books in print and give them as gifts.  Share a moment with a loved one or contact an old friend to meet there. Engage your children in what we once called a bookstore.  Maybe just maybe, they will stay open.  Maybe they will come back to our neighborhoods.  Maybe people will realize the goodness in old school print and bury their Kindles.

That is what I did.  At first not by choice.  I really thought the Kindle would be the next best thing since Starbucks on every corner.  It wasn’t.  It was a short-lived relationship and I am delighted, not at first, that my Kindle bit it.  The thing froze up and after three online chats (thanks but no thanks Jovi), 109 power up attempts, two phone calls and me throwing it across the room, I buried that thing.  I want nothing to do with any e-reader type techno device ever again.  Occupy a bookstore for me.  Buy something in print and keep bookstores alive!

If you are willing to take the occupy a bookstore pledge, like below and give this unworthy lover of bookstores hope!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Mine

by SwimGirl October 2, 2012

This week’s photo challenge is Mine. Is there a place, object, or view that’s entirely yours, or you’re a bit selfish or possessive about? Is it a feeling you feel when you look at the photo, or perhaps an unwillingness to share?

Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction – Unknown
Not very often but every once in a while I will take a step back and really look at the big picture.  Life happens quite often so at many times I am consumed in just that, life.  Yet, recently on a very hot, humid sunny August evening, I ventured out with the boys after work to the beach.  I came home and thought, the heck with routine, let’s do something different.

Of course it added to the not so blissful bedtime routine afterwards.  But during the moment, there at the beach, all was forgotten.  I was sitting there on my blanket watching them being boys.  Throwing rocks into the water, splashing, laughing, running, jumping and waiting for the perfect wave to crash over them.

Then there was a moment of stillness where they all stood up, grabbed hands and looked out into the water.  Were they watching a boat, the sun slowly setting or looking out into the great beyond?  I was trying to get a hold as to what caught their attention so as that their child play would come to a temporary halt.

Suddenly, nothing else mattered.  There I was watching them and thinking, they really are mine.  My three little boys.  My sons who I brought into this world.  They came from me.  They are a part of me forever and I of them.  They will only be this small for a short while.  Every day, each minute we are moving forward.  But that night, for a very brief moment, we all looked into the same direction and time seemed to stand still.  Soon the time will come and they will spread their wings and fly.  But right then, they were my little boys.  And no matter where they go from here, they will always be, forever mine.