Thursday, November 27, 2014
Thursday, August 2, 2012
I stood there, my legs were tired, my feet hurt, I was sure I had a sunburn, and all I really wanted to do was sit down. But I still had about an hour and a half to go. You see, on Saturday, July 28th, I volunteered to help out at Alex’s Lemonade Stand. It’s a charity drive that donates 100% of the money collected from lemonade sales to help fund researching a cure for pediatric cancer. The mother of my daughter’s friend has been hosting a local chapter for several years now on the corner right by her house in North Park. I’ve helped out the last three years and for the last two years in a row, we’ve reached the goal we set. I would serve the lemonade, hold the bright yellow signs and wave them while I stood in the street trying to get drivers’ attention. I’d talk to passersby and let them know what was up. I drank several cups of lemonade myself; all I had was a few bucks on me. But you know it’s not so much the exact dollar amount we raise, it’s the effort involved behind it. This all means something greater than just lemonade. This year we were trying to reach $12,000, but half way through the day, we were hovering around $6000 and no one was quite sure we’d make it.
The day for a lemonade stand volunteer is hard, long, stressful, but it’s also entertaining, rewarding, and dare I say it, fun! The local radio station 94.9 FM San Diego set up a booth and broadcast music all day long; well except when there was a live band playing, which was about half the day. There was a silent auction as well as face painting for the kids. You see it’s not just about selling lemonade, it’s about celebrating life and good times with the community, neighbors, and the people you love.
My child doesn’t have cancer. I don’t personally know any children that have cancer either. However, I do know cancer is a terrible thing. An adult friend of mine is battling it right now. My dearly departed grandmother had breast cancer, although it was when I was very young and I don’t remember it. My other surviving grandmother had cancer as well. Cancer is one of those awful diseases that devastates its victims, and stabs at the hearts of their loved ones. Cancer has no remorse, no pity, empathy or mercy. It just does what it does, and it won’t stop unless we make it stop.
Doctors have devoted entire careers to helping people with cancer and researching cures and treatments. Countless man hours have been spent in the lab struggling for a breakthrough, an insight, an answer, anything that can help fight Cancer’s wrath. Eating right, taking care of yourself and making wise health choices sometimes aren’t enough and the doctors know that. Sometimes, there’s still nothing they can do. Even with all of their efforts they still come up short. I can’t know what it’s like, knowing that after devoting a life to science and helping patients, what it feels like to fail the ones who needed you the most. I don’t know what it’s like to be lying there on a bed, being ravaged by a disease that refuses to relent. There are so many ways I can’t help the doctors with their research, the patients with their pain, or their families with their helplessness.
I do know one thing though. In some small way, if all I can give is my time, I can make it mean something. I don't have to be rich, I don't have to have political powers or connections, I don't have to be a genius to help out. So I stood on a street corner, like all the other volunteers and I helped sell lemonade. And at the end of the day, we raised over $12,000 dollars. After we hit our mark, I only half jokingly said, "Next year let's shoot for $15,000." Until we end Cancer's reign of terror, everyone will struggle in one way or another. I figure the few aches and pains I suffer from being on my feet the whole day is a small price to pay.
Thanks for reading. Comments and questions are always welcome.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
When we are Young
When we are young, our parents and family have a responsibility to take care of us. As we grow, they should take the time to nurture and protect, teach and instruct. As children, sometimes we don't understand why those things are important or what the bother is, but children have a voracious appetite for learning. That learning should be encouraged and reinforced as much as possible. Teaching children to look at things from multiple perspectives and to have an open mind prepares them for the massive amount of conflict and confusion life has to offer. Parents should teach by positive example so children can adjust to life as an adolescent and eventually as an adult. But what happens when parents fail at preparing children for life?
Children are smart and capable. They can learn to cope, but if they aren’t given proper guidance, their coping skills will be inadequate and inefficient. I do my best on a daily basis teaching my daughter how to cope, even with things that are upsetting, difficult, and troubling. Don’t get me wrong, I focus on the positive, but it’s impossible to ignore the negative aspects of life and expect things to turn out okay.
Unfortunately, I know people that have terrible coping skills because their parents taught them nothing positive. What happens is an unfortunate cycle of negativity that accomplishes nothing but keeping those people in a dark place. They aren’t really capable of taking care of themselves, because what they learned was piecemeal, ad hoc, and unguided. The consequences of this are devastating. I have experienced an element of this. Someone I know keeps asking advice only to ignore it, and sometimes gets mad at me if they don’t like what they hear. I have experienced having this person lash out at me and people I know for odd reasons. Now you might find yourself in uncomfortable situations where the other person takes out their frustrations on you, or someone you know. You must recognize that they aren’t able to cope well and what they are doing is the only coping mechanism they have. They aren’t able to take care of themselves properly.
What to Do
If you find yourself acting like this, stop. It might be hard, but recognizing there is a problem is an amazing first step in solving it. Some of you might remember the GI Joe cartoon. At the end, there was always a Public Service Announcement where one of the characters would say “Knowing is half the battle.” It’s true. Part of earning to take care of yourself properly requires recognizing if you aren’t doing a very good job if it right now. Sometimes, getting through to a person with this problem is impossible. But I would suggest that you start with yourself.
Remember, you can’t really take care of someone else if you can’t even take care of yourself. There’s no shame in asking for help either. Sometimes it takes a simple request for assistance. If you can learn to accept your faults and rise above them, you can take those first difficult steps in becoming self-reliant.
Comments and questions are welcome. Thanks for reading.
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