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Monday, October 26, 2009

Train

October 26, 2009

(Disclaimer: no cats were harmed in any way in the research, preparation, or writing of this entry.)

Of course, you can read almost anything on the internet, even from seemingly sterling sources.


For instance, I read in the New York Times that "all the students at Luolang Elementary School, a yellow-and-orange concrete structure off a winding mountain road in southern China, know the key rules:

Do not run in the halls.
Take your seat before the bell rings.
Raise your hand to ask a question.

And oh, yes:

Salute every passing car on your way to and from school.
"


I also read that "careers in personal fitness training are growing dramatically in job demand and pay range each year. Since people are becoming more aware of health issues everyday and want to change the way they live, now is a good time to seek a career in personal fitness training" (http://www.degreesource.com/articles/82/1/Personal-Fitness-Trainer-Job-Description/1.html, note bene: all quotes below also come from this internet source.)

Why is this important and worth mentioning? Willie has gotten off the dole and has taken a new position as a personal trainer for some feral cats. He takes his job seriously.

"The main responsibility of a personal fitness trainer [apparently] is to instruct and coach both groups and individuals in various exercises and activities." This he does with great enthusiasm, whether the cats are bunched together in a group or fleeing in individual directions.

A personal trainer should strive "to help his clients assess their physical fitness level and encourage and help them set and reach their fitness goals." Willie is willing to go the extra mile, or the extra lap around the garage, to make sure his clients reach their maximum physical potential and their fitness goals.

The article goes on to list a few things personal fitness trainers do:

  • "Motivating clients and team members"--I have never seen cats more motivated than the ones working out with Willie. He provides a one-on-one program tailored to fit the specific needs of his clients.
  • "Assisting clients in breathing exercises"--He is especially adept at raising heart rate and breathing function of his clients.
  • "Identifying specific training needs"--Young cats clearly need to work on quick climbing to avoid predators and reach their highest potential. He adds the personal touch of working with his clients in the privacy of their own neighborhood.
  • "Applying first aid procedures"--None needed, so far.
  • "Constructing instructional programs"--Willie acts as a particularly forceful motivator who helps push his clients to their limits.
  • "Leading various recreational activities"--Willie focuses on hide-and-seek and chase rather than on other more complex and equipment-dependent recreational activities. This allows his clients to avoid expensive gym memberships and investment in equipment that will soon end up in the basement, spare bedroom, or on Craig's list.
  • "Monitoring and communicating client progress"--Believe me, Willie watches his clients' progress during workouts as well as through the sliding glass door during down time. He communicates about it with anyone who will listen.
  • "Demonstrating each physical activity"--Willie falls a little short here. He is willing to run step for step with his clients. He is even willing to low crawl, following them underneath trucks and cars as the go through the obstacle course. He has not demonstrated tree climbing for them, however. I am proud to say that he did not overturn Marvin's truck when he stood up underneath it yesterday. Maybe, he needs to look into personal liability insurance for those occasions of strenuous.
Like all good personal trainers, Willie knows how to avoid pushing his clients to the point where they injure themselves.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Remind

October 23, 2009

Twenty-three. An odd number. And a Friday. That means lanyard workshop at my house! Come after school or after work. I'm looking forward to seeing you. We start about 4:00 and go until about 7:00, so there's plenty of time--even for busy people-- to fit in a little beadwork.

Here are some other things I want you to remember:

First thing:

Go Green with Erin's Dream Lanyards!

Not crafty?
Don't wear an ID badge?
Tired of being hit up for donations?
Want to help Erin's Dream Lanyards, but don't know how?

Do you have a tangle of beaded trinkets taking up space in your jewelry box? Don’t throw them away; send your old or broken beaded jewelry to Erin’s Dream Lanyard’s to be re-purposed into lanyards, necklaces and eyeglass chains. Just fill a flat rate box ($4.95) from the post office and mail it to 4138 Cypress Road, Bryan, TX 77807 (or a large one if you are ambitious or just an envelop would also work).

Green is the signature color of Erin’s Dream Lanyards and now it takes on additional meaning. Going green by recycling your jewelry is not only good for the environment, it will help raise money for the Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation.

Another good idea:

I will continue to collect Albertson's stickers (as I wrote about at the end of my September 13 post, Ripple), redeemable for cookware to donate to Phoebe's Home and the Twin City Mission, through Christmas this year. If you are not collecting for yourself, consider collecting for others. Send me your bonus stickers (4138 Cypress Road, Bryan, TX 77807) and they will be put to good use.


And here is something else. . .

Laura Kendrick sits at the pinnacle of the EDL Beader Hall of Fame. She has recently launched a Facebook group called BE THE CHANGE, which encourages us to jump in and help out where ever we can in our community. I'd love it if Laura told me that Erin fans joined her group in droves.

And a fourth point to remember (from my post of October 13):

"One thing that is going on from now until the end of the year is the Yoplait yogurt Save Lids to Save Lives promotion. Yoplait will funnel at least $500,000 and up to $1.5 million to the Komen Foundation if you buy their product (This, if you are counting, is a whole pile of lanyards!)

I eat a Yoplait yogurt almost every day. I'm going to save the lids, wash them, and send them in. Every time I send them in between now and December, I'm going to add a letter, thanking Yoplait for its corporate social responsibility and telling them that September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness month and that they should consider a Gogurt! Save Kids campaign in 2010. I probably won't have much impact alone, but if the rest of you yogurt eaters out there saved your labels (to show your buyer power) and reminded Yoplait that Kids need their support, too, we could start a movement.

Walter, wanted me to make it clear that I don't want you to send me your yogurt lids. I want you to send them in yourself, with your own letter suggesting the Gogurt! Save Kids campaign for 2010."

Still looking for ways to help?

If you clicked on the link for "Ripple" you may have been reminded of the Erin Anthem, commissioned by A&M Methodist Church. There is still time to participate in that effort as well. Email Music Director Sterling Allen for details on how you can help (sterling-allen@am-umc.org).

Other than that, feel free to enjoy the beautiful fall weather wherever you are.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Serve

October 20, 2009

Weekend before last, I had a request to put into a page or two some of the things that Erin did for others. Here's what I wrote:


A POSTSCRIPT TO ERIN’S LIFE

Erin led a normal life and volunteered as her age allowed. She spent time at the Brazos Food Pantry, the Animal Shelter, and as a Habitat for Humanity gopher with her church youth group. She assisted with Hot Shot Soccer (a pre-school program) when needed and served as a classroom mentor to a 2nd grade class. Her biggest passion was to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research, both through public and private channels. She successfully lobbied Congress and also created artful and whimsical beaded lanyards which she traded for donations to the Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation. We will posthumously donate the proceeds from her planned cookbook, Erin Cooks, to pediatric cancer research.


Erin lived with joy and vigor. When she died, we changed the name of her website to reflect on both her life and legacy. It became:


Let’s Do It!


Welcome to Erin’s Home


Where Her Family and Friends Follow

Her Example of Living with Gusto Every Day.


What Verb Do You Choose?


The "Let's Do It!" part honors Erin by repeating the phrase I heard her say so often. She didn't want to put things off until she felt better. She didn't want to wait until the weather improved or for the path to clear. I never felt her hesitate once she made up her mind. She always wanted to grab life by the throat and go more places and do more things. The phrase also challenges all of us (family, friends, distant and unmet friends) to continue down that path, to live with gusto, to live with grace, to live like an arrow flying towards its target, AND to do it together. Erin, as inclusive as anyone I ever met, would emphasize the all of us in Let's Do It. The final phrase invokes my favorite metaphor for Erin: she lived like a verb. . .an action verb. Her friends have taken up the suggestion to choose a verb and go do it. They cook, drive, run, laugh, hug, work hard, play hard, and serve and inspire others.


In the wake of her death many people took up the challenge to live like a verb. We received regular messages from folks who were tackling triathlons and marathons and others who were working to improve themselves and the world around them. Groups also got moving. The elementary children at 1st Presbyterian Church in Bryan, changed the name of their annual mission day to the Let’s Do It! Mission Day. The First United Methodist Church honored her with a weeklong food drive in her honor to show the kids at their Creative Arts Camp what a difference a child can make. Jane Long Middle School established a scholarship in her memory. The A&M Methodist Church has commissioned an anthem in her honor, which will have its world premiere January 24, 2010. By next fall, at-risk middle school students may walk into a newly forming after-school program, past a banner proclaiming "Let's Do It!"


The biggest surprise has been that the ripples have continued beyond the weeks after her death, particularly for the project closest to her heart. What do you suppose connects the following list of people?


· A deaf woman in Minnesota

· A New York City Bat Mitzvah celebrant

· A Santa Fe soccer coach

· A USMC Colonel, retired

· A wheelchair bound girl scout

· A North Carolina rugby player

· Two sisters on a Baltic cruise

· The starting tackle on the Jane Long Middle School “A” team

· A divinity student at Princeton

· A dean at Tufts University

· Teachers in Indiana, California, Texas, and Michigan


These are just a few of the more than 300 people who have logged thousands of volunteer hours in the last six months, creating and distributing Erin’s Dream Lanyards and inspiring others to follow Erin’s example to live and serve with joy and vigor. Workshops, which started in our living room, are springing up all over the country: Seattle, Scottsdale, upstate Pennsylvania, Minneapolis, New York City, Rockville, Maryland, and in communities all over central and coastal Texas. Girl scouts, youth groups, soccer teams, college dorm residents, YMCA campers, and just plain folks have held lanyard workshops and sponsored bead drives. This grassroots movement (read more at http://chooseaverb.blogspot.com) has multiplied the personal effect Erin had on raising money for neuroblastoma research geometrically in a very short while.


If you have any doubt that Erin is a true point of light, take a night walk and look up into a clear sky towards Ursa Minor (RA 17h46m5.68s D80°16’10.76”). If you look in just the right spot you will see the Erin Channing Buenger star, registered in her memory in the International Star Registry by a Carrollton, Texas couple. Her light will continue to shine for a long, long time.



I think we can say that at least some have taken to heart what President Obama said as he concluded his remarks about Erin by observing that we can serve even when we have challenges in our lives: "Each of us has a role to play, and all of us have something to contribute."



Friday, October 16, 2009

Breathe

October 16, 2009


Breathe. That's what I kept having to remind myself this week.

On Sunday evening the bureaucratic wheels in DC started turning, splicing, slicing, dissecting, and parsing the possibility of mentioning Erin in President Barack Obama's speech at the Points of Light conference hosted by former President George H.W. Bush in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Points of Light Foundation.

This was a very low probability event. Almost completely unlikely. Maybe 1 in 330,000,000.

It took most of several days for a final decision.

It happened despite the odds.



Erin was such a political junkie that I have to believe that she would have appreciated all the twists and turns the week brought, and especially the VIP treatment at the talk. to put her fervor into context, here's a selection from the entry I wrote the day after the election last fall, appropriately titled, Junkie (Politics and Pickles).

Erin returned to school yesterday, medicated with tylenol-3, and when I picked her up she seemed washed out and spent. Oh me of little faith. After a brief rest, she started getting geared up for the evening. She began by flipping through all of the television channels, matching the channel number and the network to the television program guide, thus creating a list of which channels were covering the election at what times. Then, she found an internet list of states organized by their poll closing time, which she highlighted and marked with various information about whether they were safe, likely, leaning, or toss up states and if there were contested Senate races in them. By 5:30, she had staked out the prime spot on the living room floor. As the first polls closed and the pundits and analysts started chanting over the numbers, Erin had the remote in her hand, surfing channels, while simultaneously clicking through on her laptop to sites like http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/ and nytimes.com looking for the freshest returns. Every time a state went in her favor (actually Barack Obama's favor), she headed to the kitchen for a celebratory pickle! I wonder what her sodium and potassium levels will look like when she has her labs drawn tomorrow?

Here is a link to the C-SPAN video.

This video begins with President George H.W. Bush, with President Obama following. Erin's story is near the end (Around 26:30), but I think the message of service is one you might not mind sitting through. Of course, you will want me to add commentary and soon, but for now, I'm trying to remember to breathe.

Thanks all around: to Chet Edwards for having the idea that Erin was just what the President needed for his speech and for having the audacity to pursue the idea, to Jim Papa for selling the idea, for the speechwriters to capture Erin so succinctly, yet accurately, and to our President for delivering.

And thank you all for following Erin's point of light.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Role (Actually, Roll)

October 14, 2009

With due apologizes to my many spelling maven friends, I wanted to share what I found when I cleaned out the attic on Saturday (remember, I earned a bonus day when soccer was rained out). This is the cover art Erin drew for her binder for the beginning of sixth grade last fall.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ideate

October 13, 2009

Okay. Let me admit right up front that I'm not gung ho about the verb I chose today, but I have an idea, and I wanted to share it. Most of us who spend the month of September trying to create awareness about pediatric cancer get overwhelmed when the pink of October rolls in.

I do not begrudge anything that the Susan B. Komen Foundation has accomplished.
Walter's mother, Janice Buenger, died when her breast cancer relapsed in her brain after a decade of clean scans. My grandmother endured terrible, and ultimately unsuccessful, chemo for breast cancer back in the early 70's before good anti-emetic drugs were commonly available. I'm not going to criticize any of the awareness building or fundraising efforts for breast cancer. In fact, I'm going to sit at the feet of the Komen Foundation to admire and learn.

One thing that is going on from now until the end of the year is the Yoplait yogurt Save Lids to Save Lives promotion. Yoplait will funnel at least $500,000 and up to $1.5 million to the Komen Foundation if you buy their product (This, if you are counting, is a whole pile of lanyards!)

I eat a Yoplait yogurt almost every day. I'm going to save the lids, wash them, and send them in. Every time I send them in between now and December, I'm going to add a letter, thanking Yoplait for its corporate social responsibility and telling them that September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness month and that they should consider a Gogurt! Save Kids campaign in 2010. I probably won't have much impact alone, but if the rest of you yogurt eaters out there saved your labels (to show your buyer power) and reminded Yoplait that Kids need their support, too, we could start a movement.

What do you think?

Walter, wanted me to make it clear that I don't want you to send me your yogurt lids. I want you to send them in yourself, with your own letter suggesting the Gogurt! Save Kids campaign for 2010.