Because my heart needed a bit of help this Christmas

I am reeling today, you guys.

And every time I think of what happened, I get this feeling that takes over… this feeling that tells me that no matter how I’ve felt lately, no matter what kind of fear I have about the world or what’s ahead, if we all can just remember to do kind things in small ways we will make big impact.

It started with a gift card.

My friends Nate and J Money (Y’all probably remember them from Love Drop) decided to launch a new project: The Rockstar Community Fund. And because I’ve basically been waiting for the Love Drop reboot for a couple years, when Nate told me about RCF, immediately I was all, SIGN ME UP.

Then my $20 Visa Gift Card arrived.

The guys weren’t really persnickety about what we needed to do with the #GivingCard. Spread some kindness, make a difference. Immediately, my mind reeled with all of the possibilities for this card. Some of the ideas were quirky, some were fun, some had long range future potential, some were goofy. There were so many things I could do, and I was excited about the possibility of it all.

And then on Tuesday, I got another idea. Scrolling through Twitter I saw a tweet about school lunch programs, and I thought to myself, hmmmmm. There’s something here.

As a parent – it’s one of the most basic things we do for our children, we keep them fed… but what if times are tough? I wanted to contribute in a way that parents didn’t need to worry about whether their kids could get a warm meal at school and I wanted to ease that worry for kids, too.

I reached out to our local school food services department. I didn’t have a lot of money, I told them, but… if I wanted to pay it forward, pay down some students’ negative lunch balance, would that be possible? The head of Food Services wrote back almost immediately – yes, yes it would. So, next, I emailed some friends. I had my $20 #GivingCard, and I could certainly chip in some of my own cash – but… what if I wanted to do more?

Immediately, a friend emailed back with an offer for a donation. Then my sister forwarded the email around her office. Now, we were getting somewhere.

Wednesday, I reached out to Facebook. I told them:

I’m collecting funds that will be given to our local schools to pay down student lunch debt for families in need. Families should not have to worry about whether their kiddo has a warm lunch at school… and kids shouldn’t have to worry about it either. I’ve been in touch with the awesome folks at Food Services and they will determine how best to apply whatever funds we can collect.

Donations streamed in. Friends in other states donated – something that I had never in a million years pictured happening. My daughter even chipped in a few dollars of her own money.

Sarah with Visa gift card

I was getting excited counting checks and Paypal donations. Suddenly, this was feeling big.

This morning, with all of our donations tucked into an envelope, my daughters and I went to drop off the donations. The person I wanted to speak to wasn’t there, and that was disappointing. I thought about the time I spent trying to get this right, to make an impact, and I forgot to actually coordinate a time to deliver the funds. Small potatoes, I guess. The staff let me write a note, and I tucked the note and my envelope under a stapler on the manager’s desk.

Our $20 gift card had grown to $330!

High five to my kids as I sent them off to their respective school days. I drove to work, feeling pretty dang good. (Doing good, it feels SO good.)

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.

The manager emailed me, “We got your funds! I will get this into accounts today and let you know how many families this was able to help.”

Awesome. I was relieved, to be honest, to know that the money was there when she arrived, safely tucked beneath the stapler.

Another hour later, she shared with me that our $330 donation cleared up every negative lunch balance for the middleschool. The Food Services team coordinated with the counseling office to determine the greatest need for funds, and the balance of our donations went to fund the lunch accounts for six students with an extenuating financial need.

All told, we helped 43 families with our donation.

I still can’t even believe it.

I even received another donation tonight, so we can continue to positively impact the families in our school district, and lighten their load.

Our school district posted about it on their Facebook page – which kinda made me feel weird. They referred to our group of donors as an anonymous donor, and I’ve been so cautious of how it makes people feel: every dollar donated matters, and every person who donated was a huge part of what we were able to accomplish. As of this writing, that post has been shared sixty times, and has received over 600 likes. It’s a little mindboggling and I’m glad they didn’t name me (though I so wish they had mentioned how many people had a hand in making this happen).

The reaction has been so favorable, so as weird as I feel, I guess my biggest hope is that someone else sees it and maybe donates some more money to the schools. Or does something to bring about kindness in their own way, somehow.

Maybe somehow we can keep this cycle of good stuff going.

As for me, this reinforces what I already knew: this is the kind of work I am meant to be doing. I feel so fulfilled by knowing that through the work we did, so many families were helped. Every donation that came in felt like its own little Christmas morning to me. I haven’t felt this satisfied by any thing I’ve done in a long time.

I’m ridiculously happy.

It started with a gift card. Just twenty bucks. I’m so grateful to Nate and J for allowing me to be a part of this project. I’m grateful for the opportunity, through the Rockstar Community Fund, to find new ways to make an impact on the world.

In case you hadn’t noticed lately, the world is kind of scary. These times feel uncertain and I’ve felt this massive range of emotions since November 8… but I swore that I was going to try to put more positivity in the world, and I tell ya, I’m not always good about doing that… but today we did.

We did it.

High five, people. We just might be okay after all.

Somewhere almost in the middle of january

We’re over one week into 2016 and unsurprisingly, everything is the same as it was last year save for a fraction of an inch of snow on the ground and a bit of disgust that yeah, everything is the same as it was last year.

At this time of year, it seems that there’s still a lot to read from a lot of people who are in the midst of making themselves completely new people for the new year. Lots of really uplifting stuff and lots of stuff that would be completely useful if I wasn’t such an insufferable cow.

And sometimes, I am an insufferable cow.

I try – of course – to embrace the positive aspects of my life. There are many positive aspects. I’m not so huge a douchebag that I cannot embrace what is truly joyful. I make an effort daily to be fully present and to be aware of the moments that make life magical.

I am not so advanced a spirit that I can ignore the garbage though.

I wish I could.

Last week, I ended up getting insanely pissed off by a note left on my door by the town in which I live. My sidewalk had snow on it, they said. I was in violation of rule blahblahblah. This was my first warning. Y’all, it was less than an inch of snow. Maybe a quarter of an inch at most. It was ridiculous, this warning. Several days later, I’m still angry about it. Do they think I have free time to clean every molecule of snow from my sidewalk any time it snows? I don’t.

This morning as I shoveled, I silently raged about it – even though in the moment, I didn’t actually mind the work. Today’s snow was light and fluffy and easily shoveled away. It wasn’t the heavy sludge that quickly turns to ice. I was wrapped in my grandpa’s flannel that he used to wear outside on days like today and even though it is missing several buttons, I felt the warmth of his memory.

Friday, I had the kind of day that had me nearly sprinting for my car at the end of the workday – so busy that I accumulated a record LOW number of steps because I barely even managed to get away from my desk to go to the bathroom.

All of these beautiful moments in life are packed in up against all of the really tough moments and I find it hard these days to ignore the garbage enough to fully embrace what is beautiful.

My god, I am trying.

I am lucky to be loved – and not just in that way that I feel that we are all lucky to be loved by the people who love us but in the way that sometimes I am an unbelievable pain in the ass and yet people in my life still love me.

I’m not sure why sometimes, but I am grateful for it.

Life is weird and amazing and beautiful. And sometimes I forget that it is indeed life – that part of what makes it beautiful are those moments that challenge you to not be such an unbelievable jerkface.

As I type this, I am in my warm home and I am half ignoring the fact that my driveway probably needs shoveling. My dog is on the couch next to me and he’s farting. It’s sickening and likely toxic. My kitchen counter is covered with junk even though I spent all day yesterday cleaning and all of the snacks I bought last week at Costco seem to be gone already despite the fact that I have two girls and I’m not raising a football team. One daughter is drinking a Gatorade, and she will almost certainly leave the empty plastic bottle sitting on a table in the living room when she’s done. The other is upstairs likely using the last of the hot water so there will be none left when I run a bath for myself later this evening.

But my home is warm and I am loved.

And that counts.

It counts because it has to count. It counts because it matters to me. It counts because if it stops counting, the days become that much more difficult.

We’re ten days in. I made no resolutions.

Even so, I hope to make this year a good one – and so I try.


Mangos and grief and looking for normal

I just sliced a mango, so juicy that as I held the fruit steady, its juice ran from my cutting board. So ripe, I put the knife down and pulled chunks of the fruit apart, tossing them into a ceramic bowl. When I finished, I grabbed a mango chunk from the bowl, popped it into my mouth – refreshing and sweet. I washed and dried my hands, then poured the mango from the bowl into a plastic zip top bag and threw it into my freezer.

I eat a lot of mango lately.

Mango. Papaya. Avocado.

I’ve never been a smoothie person and now I make smoothies all the time because vitamins. I need vitamins. Nutrients. Goodness.

239 | 365

Mangos are rich in vitamin A. Avocado contains lutein. Also, supposedly it helps turn the carotenoids of the mango into active Vitamin A.

I don’t know if it really helps anything, but at this point, I also figure… what could it hurt?

I was recently diagnosed with a degenerative retina disease. I was probably born with it – it’s a hereditary disease that no one in my family seems to have. We’ve traced back – we can’t think of anyone else who has it, but to be honest, i don’t really know how far back we went. It’s autosomal recessive which is a fancy way of saying, I received one copy of a mutated gene from my dad, and one from my mom – they were both carriers so they each had a good gene and a bad one… and I got the messed up ones (yay me). It means that there’s probably been generations of carriers of this gene, but they just didn’t have the dumb luck of genetics.

Retinitis pigmentosa.

I had never heard of it before this year.

The diagnosis has hit me a bit like a ton of bricks and on some days I feel totally normal and I don’t think of my eyes at all and on some days, I find myself sitting on the floor of my mudroom crying because I don’t know what the future holds, and all I can see is a future of worst case scenario.

The reality is my night vision and peripheral vision will progressively worsen.

To what extent, no one can say for sure. But I know what the worst case scenario is and in my scared moments, in my vulnerable moments that is the place where my mind goes. To the worst place.

I shut my eyes sometimes and I imagine a world where the scenery is gone and if I let myself stay in that place my heart will break in half and it takes awhile to unthink those things and so I try sometimes to just pretend that everything is okay.

I am trying very hard to be hopeful and I am told and I have read that there are tremendous advances being made in medical research. I am told that there will be treatments in my lifetime; I’ve even been told that there could be cures in ten years.

And so.

That’s what I need to remember.

And that’s what I need people to remind me: to have hope when I don’t feel hope, and to believe that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to be.

I know that they say that things happen for a reason, and I’m not necessarily inclined to believe in that cliche – because for me, the reason is just dumb luck. Genetics. Nothing that anyone could do anything about.

And all I can do is wait.

Look for my new normal.

Feel sad when I feel sad. Feel angry when I feel angry. Ignore it all and bury it deep when it’s too much to deal with.

And in those moments when I feel empowered, in those moments where I tell myself that this will not defeat me, this will not define me, and I am stronger than all of this and I will get through this. I will make a difference.

I wish there were more empowered moments and less grieving moments.

I eat a lot of mangos lately. More avocados than ever in my life.



To tell Congress to support vision research, click here. There is so much amazing research being done; research that can maybe help me someday. It needs funding. Contacting your state’s folks really couldn’t be easier, click through – I guarantee it will take less than two minutes. If you’re able, consider a donation to the Foundation Fighting Blindness to support research and programs to fight blindness.


Give Forward on #GivingTuesday

I have been trying to force myself into the holiday spirit this year. Admittedly, I usually kick off the season with some Black Friday shopping – not because I want to knock over unsuspecting shoppers as I attempt to get some deal on a big screen TV, but because I just kind of like being out early on that Friday morning, surrounded by people. This year, Black Friday shopping involved taking the two girls and then it ended up being a little less fun and a little more of a reminder of how focused we all can get on THINGS rather than people.

It’s been one of those years, a year where I have to dial back some of the holiday giving – not because I want to, but because I have to – and so because of that the allure of Black Friday and Cyber Monday — while I’m all about getting deals — has been lost on me. I don’t want to spend money to feel good. Spending money on things isn’t feeling so great right now.

A week or so ago, my friend Nate contacted me about GivingTuesday. Nate is one of my favorite people and one of the big hearts behind LoveDrop. He’s now the Director of Communications for GiveForward. GiveForward is an online fundraising organization for people to help a loved one in need, and they are one of the many organizations participating today in #GivingTuesday.

What’s #GivingTUesday? #GivingTuesday™ is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support non-profit organizations.

I remember back when I first took part in LoveDrop in Dallas, Texas a few years ago. Though I had known Nate via Twitter for years before that, it was amazing to see first hand this thing that he and J Money had created. This mission of theirs is what I refer to as “heart work” – work that left me feeling good. At the time, my youngest had been in kindergarten? First grade? And she’d been learning in schoolabout “drops in the bucket” — you’re either putting drops into people’s buckets by doing things that make them feel good, making them happy… or you’re taking drops away by being unkind or otherwise inflicting negative energy on people.

It was in Dallas that weekend that I fell in love with the idea of LoveDrop and the way it made me feel, and how by doing for OTHERS, I was adding drops to my own bucket as well.

Which is why I’m writing to you about #GivingTuesday.

There are a lot of people out there with buckets that need drops.

Families like that of Christian Hannah, a 14 year old born with cerebral palsy. The Hannah’s family and friends are raising money to buy a rear entry wheelchair accessible van. Christian’s mom, Janet, has been lifting him out of his wheelchair and securing him into his car seat – but he’s now about 5′ tall and weighs about 65 pounds. He’s taller than his mom! Between school, doctor’s appointments and day-to-day life, she’s lifting her son into and out of the car several times a day. A wheelchair accessible van would simplify that part of life for their family.

Janet’s a single mom – and admittedly, this is part of the reason the story of the Hannah family tugged at my heart so much. Because good gracious, it’s hard enough to handle the regular day-to-day challenges of parenting on your own, but this woman is doing so much and I love that GiveForward and her family and friends are working to find ways to help her and her children improve their daily lives.

As I’m truly discovering, it does kind of take a village to raise a family, and our villages sometimes extend further than we even know. Like the internet.

Drops in the bucket add up.

Small actions can create big results.

I didn’t bust down any doors on Black Friday. I didn’t take advantage of Cyber Monday sales. But I can kick off my giving season today with #GivingTuesday and fill my heart and my bucket (and my quota for sappiness) by telling you about the Hannah family and encouraging you to click over and read about them and help if you can.

Day 11: Because WRITERS BLOCK

I’ve been staring at this screen for far longer than I should have already – typing, then deleting. I have no real ideas what to write about, only that I loathe the thought of laying any more negativity out there after yesterday (I survived, by the way).

It’s a Monday and Monday’s are my least favorite day of the week which means that I am really not much different than anyone else you know. It’s a new week and a new week always has such promise, doesn’t it? You start fresh and you have no idea really where it will go. You would think, then, that Monday wouldn’t have such a bad rap, but it still does because MONDAY.

So, I’m challenging myself a little bit this week because sometimes the brain needs a manual re-set in order to stop some negativity. And since I can turn the clocks back and make the days longer again…at least not until spring… I better find some alternatives.

Rockin Colors Mural | Jennifer Mercede

This week, I hope to:

  • Focus on a really cool freelance project that has come my way which could give me the opportunity to learn things that will be beneficial for me to know in my regular work life as well. It’s a heart project, something I was asked to help with that really appealed to me because of the impact it could have for a family, so I’m eager to do work, no matter how small, that makes a difference.
  • I will focus on learning new things rather than being afraid of what I don’t know
  • I will clean the sensor on my camera because my god, Sarah, just clean the damn thing already


Campaign of Good Fortune | Jonathan Brilliant

  • I will cook more meals, even if I don’t want to. Even if there is a refrigerator full of leftovers. I hate leftovers. I won’t eat them. I’d rather eat real meals with my kids than another bowl of cereal. I’ll cook.
  • I’ll brainstorm a solution to a scheduling problem I’m face with. I will not let it stress me out. I will remember that in the overall scheme of things, juggling my schedule is not what really matters, and I will do what needs to be done because despite all my whining, I usually manage to do what needs to be done.
  • I’ll read more. Even if the book is crap, it still counts.
  • I’ll also finally make the time to stop multitasking and watch a movie all the way through without doing twelve other things at the same time.
  • I’ll quit adding things to my Netflix queue that I have no intention of ever watching


  • I’ll try to be kinder to myself. I’m doing the best I can, in all of the ways I can. It does me no good to beat myself up about things that aren’t – jobs, appearance, any of that. I am doing what I can with what I have. I’ll keep doing what I can. That’s all anyone can ask of me, and I’m the only one holding myself up to some unrealistic standard. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and this week isn’t going to be the week where I suddenly decide to give myself a break and be cured of my tendency to criticize myself… but… this week, I’m definitely going to try to notice patterns, and try to avoid it where I can.


Anyway. That’s my week, what’s in store for YOU this week?

Thursday Ten: That Ain’t Chump Change edition

1. Yesterday, I walked out of a meeting to find a text on my phone from one of my Avon Walk teammates that our team has raised (to date) over $20,000. That is a mind boggling figure to wrap my head around – but I’m so tremendously proud of our group, and I cannot wait to see everyone tomorrow and kick off another 39.3 on Saturday morning. (I have no idea who that is in the picture below, but we saw her in Boston last year and her shirt made me giggle)


2. And The Princess is now eleven years old. She was magnificently spoiled on her birthday and I am officially (though temporarily) tired of baking. Two cakes and 30+ cupcakes later, I think I went through all of my baking supplies at least once over the past weekend. Also? I hate frosting cupcakes.
may all your wishes come true

3. With the upcoming weekend – with 40 miles of walking – HOURS of exercise ahead of me, you’d think I could just chill about missing last night’s work out. But – the night got away from me. Between picking up kids and hockey and dinner and vacuuming and un-birthdaying the house… not even remotely sure where the time went… only that I had no time to work out. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but “break a sweat daily” is so ingrained in my way of being that it felt really strange to park my fanny on the couch and do nothing.

4. Speaking of hockey…Good season, Red Wings. It was a bummer to see them lose last night, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

5. The weather has been bizarre lately. Hot and then cool and then… tornado type weather and storms. Pumpkin decided to camp out with me the other night because of storms. Yeah. That wasn’t a whole ton of fun (or sleep).

6. Allergies. Do you have them? How miserable are you right now? I can’t believe how awful my allergies are, and I know I’m not the only one.

7. I back up all the kids’ CDs in my itunes (I have to back up The Princess’s latest Taylor Swift – but I keep “forgetting”), so occasionally when I’m listening to things on shuffle, one of their songs will pop up. I guess that’s why I’ve had Miley Cyrus’s “When I Look At You” stuck in my head for two days.

8. Just one more week of school for the girls and while the pace of summer slows life down a little bit, I still recall last summer and JUST HOW MESSY a house gets when two kids are home all day. Though I’m fortunate to have amazing family childcare and a LOT of help because of it, coming home to a destroyed kitchen always sets my teeth a bit on edge. Guess it’s time to lay some groundrules for the next three months.

9. I want a shelf lined with jars of sand from different beaches. I want to sit on a beach and watch the sun rise. I have very distinct moments of wanting to escape and I am equally called to the sounds of city and to the sounds of water. I guess it’s fitting that I’ll be in Chicago soon.

10. My kids’ school sells yearbooks. Like it’s become this money making enterprise now – Um, why does a second grader need a yearbook (she doesn’t) and who gets to listen when you don’t buy said yearbook because COME ON, middle school and up, but no one needs a year book for every year of elementary school. Um, sorry. I’ve just heard for the past two days, “Why didn’t I get a yearbook?” from Pumpkin. I feel very “get off my lawn” about it all – but… ridiculous.

Because Even When I Don’t Need Reminders, Reminders Help


An estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women in the US during 2013; about 2,240 new cases are expected in men. Excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women.
Source: American Cancer Society

This was my post on Facebook this morning following some research I had been doing for work about cancer. Though I wasn’t researching breast cancer specifically, this statistic jumped out at me and I felt compelled to post it.

Within an hour there was a message in my inbox from a former colleague as he sat in the waiting room waiting for his sister who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Their mother lost her fight with breast cancer twelve years ago.

I wrote him back, wishing him well, telling him they are in my thoughts, that I’ll be cheering his sister on from Michigan as she kick’s cancer’s ass, and that I will walk in her honor when I do my fifth Avon Walk this summer.

There are too many daughters, mothers, friends, sisters, neighbors, grandmothers being diagnosed with the disease. AND, as you can see from that statistic up there, men aren’t excluded from breast cancer’s evil grasp.

And the older I get and the more people I meet, the more I see lives affected by cancer. And I don’t like it.

I can’t do much about it. I don’t have the know-how to invent a cure. I don’t have the money to fund large research grants or any of that stuff.

So I walk. I’ve already walked 160 miles to fight breast cancer.

I’ll walk more.

And so I will carry his sister with me on my 39.3 mile and beyond, and I will root her on from Michigan. I will keep doing the things I can do to make a difference.

If you would like to support me in the Avon Walk, please click this link to donate. I know times are tough, but every dollar makes a difference. As I type this, I’m 27% of the way to my fundraising goal.

Thursday Ten: Playing an Ice Bucket in a Hotel Room edition

1. A few months ago when tickets went on sale, I picked up two to see Grace Potter and the Nocturnals when they were in town. Figured it might be fun to have something to look forward to, and I love Grace Potter. And then my sister couldn’t go. So. I’m taking The Princess with me tonight to see the show. This won’t be her first concert – as we muddled through the Jonas Brothers/Miley/Hannah Montana concert a few years ago, and frankly… she’s a little underwhelmed about going (“Hey! Want to do something special and go to a concert with mom?” “Uh… do I have to?”), but… I’m hoping that ultimately she has fun. And if not, oh well, as long as I have fun. Here’s one of my favorite songs by GP – I love how the guy is playing an ice bucket and a hair dryer. It makes me giggle.

2. So, my dog who has been crate trained and has never had a problem with said crate has recently occasionally been peeing in the crate. I called the vet yesterday – wanted to be sure it wasn’t some sort of infection. They told me I’d have to bring in a doggy urine sample. They gave me very little instruction as to just how to do that. Frankly, the dog was a little underwhelmed with me, but I AM THE BEST PET OWNER EVER. Waiting for a call back from the vet…

3. The Princess has been in physical therapy for a week now for the gymnastics injury to her shoulder. It still blows my mind that my ten year old needs PT. Last night, she texted me a picture of her shoulder which has started to bruise. The physical therapist has been kind of digging around the shoulder with her thumb to attempt to break up possible scar tissue – and it’s bruised my kid’s shoulder. Slightly underwhelmed by that all.

4. Despite how wretched my 35th birthday was, on the 16th of each month, I can’t help but think towards the next birthday. For those of you playing along at home, I’ll be 36 in exactly two months. I will have a better birthday this year. I am determined that there will be no crying this year and that I can start aging gracefully… at least until I turn 40.

5. We’ve got another few months until the election and I’ve gotta say that I think a good percent of y’all that I follow on Twitter and Facebook are going to drive me ABSOLUTELY bonkers before November. Even those of you on the same “side” as me. OY. I appreciate being informed and being passionate about your beliefs and your candidates. But beyond that, I’m just easily annoyed. (I also hate the people on Facebook who tell everyone else to work out. Like all of the sudden someone is going to read your status update and say, “OH? Exercise is GOOD FOR ME? I never knew that. Here! Let me put down this Twinkie and Mountain Dew and go for a run! Oh thank goodness someone was there to tell me how unhealthy I am!” Never happens. Be a good example, sure. Be a nagging pain in the ass? No.)

6. And I should just follow up that whiny rant with a video because FAT BABY FLAMINGO LEGS.

7. Just over two weeks until the kids begin a new school year. They’re ready. They are SO READY. A fight this morning over who got to hold the television remote went into dirty territory with one daughter insisting she is cuter, the other insisting she is smarter and funnier. And me ready to pull my hair out. All of it. They’ve had a smidge too much togetherness.

8. I’m still having fun with my cooking project. I thought for sure I’d be tired of it by now. Thinking it needs to be margarita week soon though before summer is gone. Do you have a favorite margarita recipe? My goal is to not use any mixes or yuck.

9. This is one of my favorite shots I’ve taken lately. I really love sunflowers, if you couldn’t tell.
349 | 365

10. The plan for 2013 was to do the Avon Walk in Denver – as we were trying to do a different city every year. UNFORTUNATELY, the Avon Foundation decided to eliminate the Denver walk. Boo. My team and I will be walking in Chicago in 2013 (NYC in 2014!). I love Chicago so it’s not a total heartbreak – and since a trip to Chicago doesn’t require air travel, maybe I can start saving for a different trip somewhere else (I really really think I need a vacation). It’s going to be awhile, but I may just throw a dart at a map and see someplace new.


“I love all the layers of friendship we create as we age. You’re now part of my story, my history, my life and I’m deeply grateful for that.”

This was in a text I received from a friend today – three of us had been texting. I had sent out a bat signal that was probably the text equivalent of a wail – I had asked for a dose of positivity and they brought it, in spades. There were quotes and encouragement and things that made me laugh, and then this quote.

And then I cried at my desk.

The tears I cried were happy ones – and I was washed over by the feeling of being blessed with friends who love and care about me, yes, but that are so much a part of my world and yes, part of my story. And how did that happen? And how, in the face of struggles and difficult roads, do I get to know people who care so much about how I am doing?

“I feel a road trip coming on!”

And it seems like I say it time and again and more times than is necessary but every time it is reflected to me and I see in front of me how very loved I am and how tightly I am wrapped in these friendships I have created with these amazing people I have chosen who have chosen me, my breath is taken away. The strength of the friendships I am surrounded by could move mountains. These women, in their various corners of the world, send their strength and love and their hope and their kindness and their hugs to me and I am enveloped when I have felt I was standing alone. They remind me that I’m not.

all of these lines across my face
show you the story of who I am
so many stories of where I’ve been
and how I got to where I am

but these stories don’t mean anything
if you’ve got no one to tell them to
it’s true, I was made for you

Avon Walk: 117.9 – 157.2


Four years ago, I drove to Chicago to walk in my first Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I’d done my fundraising, I’d prepped myself by taking long walks to train my body to get used to these long walking distances, I even borrowed a sleeping bag thinking I’d actually camp out in the Avon Wellness Village after Day 1 (I didn’t. But y’all probably knew that). I drove down on Friday and on Saturday morning, bright and early, I set out to meet my team at the starting area at Soldier Field.

And when I say “meet my team”, I really mean meet my team.

I’d never met them face-to-face before that morning. Sure, we’d corresponded via Twitter and email, but nope, before that day we’d never spent a single second in each others’ presence… and somehow we were going to walk 39.3 miles side by side.

And you know what? It was a tremendous leap of faith for them to invite me to join them and for me to actually go. And sometimes it’s good to leap, because I’ve never for a single second or a single foot blister been sorry I went.

I walked again the next year.

And the next year after that I flew to San Francisco to walk.

And this year I flew to Boston.

In between all those times? Those women who were my teammates that first morning became my friends. I’m not sure who said it this weekend – if it was Debbie or Barbara – imagine if I hadn’t gone that first year, if we’d have never met, then we wouldn’t have each other.

I suppose you could argue that none of us would know what we were missing – but knowing now what I know about them, I know that there would be a hole in my heart where those friendships belong had I not ever gotten to meet them.

Walking long distances is tough – I’ve heard it’s tougher than running (but seeing as how I don’t think I’ll ever opt to run that far on purpose, I’ll have to take other people’s word on that).When you’re walking all that way, there’s a lot of time for conversation, getting to know people. You learn that one of them is just the right size to stuff in a shopping cart and wheel around a deserted parking lot, or that another hates the word “pee” (you will probably repeatedly forget that she hates it, and you will probably inadvertently say it over and over again causing her to cringe each time – but you know it anyway). You learn about kids and pets and families and work and life.

If you ever want to get to know someone, walk with them for awhile.

Though they have far more miles on their sneakers than I do (I just officially hit my 157th Avon mile – Barbara, on the other hand was on her 17th Avon Walk!), I do my best to keep up. By the time walk day rolls around, we’ve been deep in the process for awhile. We’ve worked hard to fundraise and rally the troops and inform people about the good things the Avon Foundation does with this money to help research cures as well as fund programs for those fighting breast cancer. That’s the hard part.

Walk days are as fun as you make them, and we believe in fun. We believe in creating joy if the crowd support is lacking (and, sorry Boston, it was lacking. San Francisco and Chicago do it SO WELL, that the vibe in Boston was decidedly subdued. Kind of a bummer).

By the time the opening ceremony had ended and the walk kicked off, I had already experienced a huge range of emotions: I’d cried more than once at stories of lives lost to breast cancer, I cheered for survivors, I laughed at cute team tshirts and outfits, I yawned with exhaustion (It was early, y’all). The two days is like that. Once you start walking, add pain, fatigue, excitement, challenge, fury at hills (OH THE HILLS!), laughter, camaraderie… add that all to the mix.

I can’t imagine experiencing that with anyone else but my team. We just work. On the morning of day two when we all hovered around a pool filled with pink rubber ducks at Reebok’s HQ shooting pictures for over ten minutes I realized again, these are my people.


And when blisters slowed me down and I wasn’t zipping at the same pace they were, they slowed for me and refused to leave me behind though I said they could. And eventually we all crossed the finish line together at the end of it all.

We finished the evening with a celebratory dinner, venturing outside at sunset to take pictures of the sky (my people…). We parted ways in the hallway with hugs and love, and the next day all headed back to our corners of the midwest.

I miss them tremendously already.

There’s something soul-lifting about spending time with people you admire, people who are strong and joyful, people who make your world better just by simply existing. Spending time with friends, even while hobbling along with blisters, is renewing and recharging.

That I get so much out of doing this walk would have surprised the Sarah who drove to Chicago to meet a group of strangers to walk 40 miles. This Sarah, however, knows better and is already planning miles 157.2 through 196.5 (Denver 2013, baby!).