Going Bare To Raise Money For Breast Cancer Awareness & Research

Makeup Free E For Cancer Awareness

When I noticed some of my friends were raising money and awareness for breast cancer research on Facebook this morning by posting makeup free selfies, I had a little moan to my husband about how much I dislike things like this because I feel obligated to participate. Friends link to other friends suggesting they post a selfie too and off it goes spreading faster than a forest fire in a California drought.

Sure enough, it didn’t take long for a link to show up in my inbox with my name on it and you can see the result. I only deliberated about a half second  before snapping my makeup free face and posting it. Grumbling aside, my uncle died from breast cancer and I know some women who were left motherless and who lost sisters and aunts due to breast cancer, so if I can help spread the word and raise a little money with 15 minutes of my time and an easy online donation, I’m going to do it.

I still think it’s kind of silly, but it was fun too and it is for a good cause so if a ‘go bare’ request pops up on your Facebook page, I hope you’ll consider it even if you, like me, have to have a little moan about it first.

It must be working because according to this article over 800,000 donations have been received in the last 24 hours.

I know we are all thinking and talking about the big picture with these little selfies we’re posting, but don’t forget to check your own breasts regularly and talk about breast health with your friends and family.

That goes for the men in your life too.

When Your Name Is Irene

Bodmin Moor (Click to Enlarge)

Even though we are a long way from the threatening fury of Irene’s arrival, it has been the topic of conversation here. Last night at the pub we shared a table with some friends from the village chatting over the week’s events with, Ian and Irene.

You may remember Irene from the photo below. It was taken at the pub back in January and she’s sitting in exactly the same place as she was last night while we talking about the hurricane that has so many Americans now running for cover.

I know Hurricane Irene has been spreading herself around and she’s caused millions of dollars in damages as she’s blown through the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas in her flight plan.

That Irene and our Irene have nothing in common, but she did share a few of the comments and jokes she’s had to endure since Hurricane Irene made the news.

Irene & Elizabeth

John is the weather watcher in the house. Most days, I barely pay attention to what’s happening weather-wise. That seems to have changed since he gave me Dora and I find myself feeling a bit grumpy lately that the weather has made it so uninviting to ride.

Living in Georgia, I took good weather days for granted. In Cornwall, we have a fair amount of rain and it’s usually not an issue for me, but it’s been cool and wet for the last week and I find that despite a long hot summer in Atlanta, I am not ready for summer to be over here.

Summer Flowers - August 2011

We’ve got a break in the clouds so I’m heading out in a few minutes to squeeze in some exercise and move my moodiness out the door. I’ve got loads to do today and no reason to whinge on about weather and inconvenience when so many are in such a scary situation.

Thank goodness we have ways to track deadly storms and prepare for them. I have friends scattered up and down the eastern coast of the US and I’ll be tracking their movement, watching as they hopefully provide updates on Facebook and Twitter or blog about their experiences with Hurricane Irene.

Here’s hoping you stay safe and dry wherever you are today.

‘Dear Madame’ Chapter 3

Sorry to have been gone for a while. It’s a long story and one I’ll likely share later, but today I’m back with another chapter of ‘Dear Madame’ for you. If you’ve forgotten what happened in the first two chapters, read here and here for chapters 1 and 2 before reading chapter 3 below. Let me know what you think if you feel like sharing and please feel free to pass it on to friends.

Patricia hardly knew what to think about the letter she’d just read. Could there really be a connection between a box of old letters her mother had here in the US and a French one found hidden in chair in England. She’d never heard her mother mention any letters, but clearly she had talked to someone. Well, maybe she hadn’t actually talked to anyone, but glancing from the photocopy she held in her left hand back to the letter she’d just read in her right, it looked as if her mother had certainly made contact with at least one man.

Leaving everything behind but the two letters, Patricia got up from the floor and moved to her study searching the letter for the man’s name as she walked down the hall. She walked quickly past the bathroom even though she’d been dying to go in the few minutes before she came through the front door. She couldn’t decide whether traffic in this city was helping her bladder or hurting it and often joked with her girlfriends that she’d be packing adult diapers in her sample case if they didn’t soon finish the never-ending road work that slowed her commute each day.

Easing into an oversized office chair, she sat down at the desk she had rescued after her parent’s divorce. It was one of those big partners desks for two and she’d grown up hearing them battle each other across it like the courtroom warriors they both wished to be. Unlike the news-making litigators that had inspired their law school dreams, neither had ever tried cases even though they’d argued for years as passionately as if they were before the Supreme Court justices instead of facing each other in the home office of the house where she’d grown up.

They hadn’t separated until Patricia had moved into her dorm at the university and she was glad she hadn’t been there for the final battles over the house and other stuff. She had grown weary of their daily dramas long before they seemed to tire of each other and the idea of separate houses for the holidays made going home more inviting even if home was a place she no longer recognized.

She’d learned early it wasn’t stuff that made a place a home and except for a few things like the desk neither parent had wanted, she tended to travel light during the years before she’d bought her condo.

Leaning forward, Patricia felt the edge of the desk push against her breastbone as she reached around the back of her iMac to find the on switch. She flipped it on with the practiced feel of someone who never left her computer on when she was away during the day. She’d owned it so long it wasn’t good for much more than research or email and she pushed a couple of stacks of paper out of her way readjusting what her Uncle Ed used to call her horizontal filing system. Patricia knew it affected her efficiency to always have to search for things as she did, but she was too tired at the end of the day to decide what to toss and she tended to hold on to more than she should.

While her computer booted up, she reread the letter pulling out the important information. She wondered how her mother had found this man, Trenton Molesworth, and checked her spelling as she typed his name into Google and added Bonhams as an after thought.

Bonhams sounded vaguely familiar to her and she realized why when she pressed the return key on her computer and saw the website come up. While she had remembered that Bonhams was an auction house of some sort, she hadn’t known how many locations there were worldwide and the range of items they offered for sale.

She expected to see Trenton Molesworth listed as someone who provided auction valuations and was surprised when his name came up as the editor of Bonhams Magazine. Patricia clicked on the link that opened into a recent article written by him where he was talking about the 200-year-old love letter and it’s possible significance to a historical event. He went on to say that it was a shame that there was only this one letter as he needed more evidence to support his theory. Ho Ho, she thought, don’t we all wish we had a little more than we do.

Saving the link to the Bonhams article by Molesworth, she quickly googled the words, 200-year-old-love letter and found a translation on the BBC news site.

‘ My dear small love, do not be worried, do you seriously believe I would tell anything to these people, who don’t understand anything about love?

If someone insists that I say something, it will be anything but the dear love acquired by you, which is the great treasure hidden in my heart.

I didn’t tell you to come yesterday because I didn’t have the opportunity, but do come every Tuesday around 5:30, and Fridays as well; I count/hope on you tomorrow.

At the moment I write this letter, I can hear my aunt yelling, who else annoys us all day long, today and tomorrow.

My dear, I cover you with kisses and caresses until… I need you in this moment of desire. I love you.’ *

Patricia read the translation several times and went back through the BBC reporter’s version of the story noting how the letter was discovered and by whom. Afterwards she thought it was certainly sweet, but could not see what made Molesworth think there was more here than just a few tender words between lovers.

Resting her eyes as she thought about what to do next, she brushed back a bit of strawberry blond hair that never seemed to stay put and picked up the photocopy of the letter from her mother that the Trenton fellow had mailed back with his note of interest. As she scanned the letter written in French, she noticed there were notes in the margins and parts of it were circled and highlighted.

It looked as if her mother’s photocopy had brought out the editor in Trenton Molesworth and she caught a word in English that made her look a bit closer at the notes he had scribbled along the edge of the page. Taking a breath, she held it without realizing as she thought about what he was suggesting … did he really believe that something like that might be possible …

* Love letter translation taken from BBC online story about a found 200-year-old Love Letter.

200-Year-Old Love Letter Inspires Online Serial Novel

Graham Simpson (Internet Photo-Gloucestershire News)

Ideas can come from many places when I’m writing. Often it’s a product of my desire to know the rest of a news story and if there isn’t one available, my mind will certainly fill in the missing pieces. Such is the case with the serial novel I’m writing and posting on Gifts Of The Journey. If you missed the first two chapters, you can catch up by clicking here and here.

I’ll be writing a new ‘chapter ‘ each week, none of which will be too long to read in a few minutes online so don’t let the word chapter put you off. Even though I am having a good time with it and can see that some of you are too, I would love to see how much of an audience we can build together.

With that in mind, I’m hoping you will take a few minutes to send it friends, blog about it yourself, or post a link on your social networking sites especially as we are only two chapters in and it’s still easy to catch up.

I may not be Charles Dickens, (‘King’of the serial novel) but I do have an intriguing tale evolving in my head that I think you and possibly your friends will enjoy. Rest assured, I’m writing a chapter a week so it could go off in directions that haven’t occurred to me yet and every chapter is a bit of a surprise to me as well.

One thing I found about writing in this style is that once you put it out there, you can’t go back and change an event if you change your mind. You have to find a way to write your way out if you get stuck in the history of what you’ve written. It’s already happened to me a time or two and I’ve decided that I am loving the challenge this involves.

Background

Some of you may have noticed a similarity in ‘ Dear Madame’ to a recent news story and I want to share a bit of the details so you have an idea as to why some aspects of my story may seem familiar.

Earlier this year, an upholsterer in a shop in Tewkesbury, England found a 200-year-old love letter stuffed deep in an armchair purchased in France. After posting the letter on Facebook to have help in translating it, the romantic missive created a bit of media attention here in the UK when the BBC picked up the story. No one knows more than what is written in the letter and like many others, I wondered what the rest of the story might be.

Not long ago, I wrote a post challenging my readers to leave a comment so I might use one to write a mini short story. I found myself stopping at a point when there was still a story to be told although the story direction had not yet revealed itself to me.

Some of my readers seemed to enjoy it as much as I did and wished to hear more of the ‘Dear Madame ‘ storyline and it was while writing the next chapter that the idea came to me and the story of the two lovers and lost letter began to take shape.

Of course, the love letter is not the whole of the story, but only one part that will reveal itself as the story progresses. I hope you come back and see where it goes each week and thanks for sharing it with others in your world.

‘Dear Madame’ Chapter 2

Welcome to the next installment of ‘Dear Madame.’ If you haven’t read the first chapter, you may want have a look here, so Chapter 2 will make more sense. Thanks for your interest and please feel free to forward it on to friends and family who might enjoy the developing story line and if you use Twitter or Facebook, you can easily pass it on through the links to both when you click on comment. I’ll have Chapter 3 ready on Friday so don’t forget to come back and see what Patricia does next. 

Chapter 2

Patricia shifted slightly to dislodge a box of protein bars that had wedged under her left hip when she fell, but she made no move to get up from the nest of groceries and mail scattered on the floor. As she scanned the letter she held in her right hand, an expression more smirk than smile played at the corners of her mouth looking like a bit like a facial twitch instead of the beginnings of a true smile.

Aging had a way of doing that to you; taking a perfectly cute habit and turning it into something that looked as if you might need an ongoing Botox regimen to keep it from becoming a bigger issue later on.

A quick look at the letter carried her past the puzzling formality of the words,‘Dear Madame,’ but not before wondering who could be sending her mother mail of this sort. She half expected to see a request for her mother’s banking details and the offer to split someone’s unclaimed riches by the Lord High ruler of a fictitious country and was surprised by what followed next.

‘My dear Mrs. Reynolds, I hope you will forgive the play on words with my ‘Dear Madame’ greeting especially in light of the French subject matter of our correspondence. I was so excited to receive your letter that even now, I can hardly control my school boyish enthusiasm.

Never could I have imagined that there might be more letters connected to the one discovered in Tewkesbury earlier this year, but from first appearances it does seem as there is more of a story waiting to be told. I cannot be completely certain without a proper translation and authentication, but the copy of the letter you sent me does appear to have been written by the author of the 200-year-old love letter found by the upholsterer a few months ago, who has been making headlines around the world since.

Its popularity comes as no surprise to me as it seems the world in general is starved for news that has love at the center of its story versus the predominantly bad updates on foreign conflicts and collapsing financial markets.

There is so much we need to talk about Mrs Reynolds, and I am anxious to learn more about how this ‘box’ of letters you describe came to be in your possession. May I recommend that you fly to London with the letters in hand so we might continue our conversation over a cup of tea and a bite of lunch.

With your permission, I would also like to have someone there to review the letters while we discuss what to do next. Of course, I am happy to cover all the expenses related to your journey and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

I would also like to apologize for the tardiness of my response to your enquiry. Without going into the details of my staffing woes, I hope you will accept my assurances that all future correspondence will be at lightening speed.

Not using the internet is certainly understandable and if letter writing works best for you, I will do all I can to accommodate. It does seem more fitting in a way that we use pen and paper when discussing the possible future of your box of letters and the story I hope they will reveal.

May I ask if we could speak on the phone regarding your travel arrangements and decide how soon I might persuade you to fly. If a trip to London is out of the question, perhaps you will allow me to meet with you somewhere closer to your home. My phone numbers are listed below and I am available anytime you wish to call. We are five hours ahead of you, but please call when it suits you best.’

Patricia realized her jaw had dropped and her mouth was hanging wide open right about the time she was finishing the letter. She checked the date on the envelope and tried to work backwards to see when her mother could have mailed a letter to London and wondered how she had even found this man?

She couldn’t imagine what box of letters he was referring to and she had only the vaguest memory of hearing some talk of an old love letter that had been found in a chair somewhere in England.

What had her mother been up to before she died, Patricia thought, as she considered what to do next.

Bringing It To The Masses – No More Twitter Bashing

Photo by Stephanie Roberts www.littlepurplecowphotography.com

If you have been reading me for very long you may know that I have been following the progress of reuniting a mother with her daughters. Jen Lemen has been at the center of it all working tirelessly to reunite Odette and her girls. News was tight as Jen Lemen struggled through all manner of delays with visas and immigration issues only to be held up by the ash cloud that affected so much of the air travel around the world last week.

There are many who supported Jen along the way in her efforts to bring Odette’s daughters out of Rwanda and back into the arms of their mother. I have rarely been good with delayed gratification and when information about their progress had all but dried up through blog updates and Facebook, I went to Twitter to find some answers. I’ve never been a fan of Twitter believing that there was no information I needed that I could not wait for if necessary. Minute by minute updates seemed on the face of it a waste of time, both for the reader and the tweeter so I while I had an account, I really did not use it … until last night when I became anxious and impatient for information on the final stage of their journey.

Yesterday, I watched as Stephanie Roberts, Dave Lemen, and Jen Lee tweeted the arrival and reunion of Jen and Odette’s daughters. I can’t remember how I first “met” Jen Lemen, it could have been through Shutter Sisters or perhaps Meg Casey who shared a house for a while with Odette and was there to share the joy yesterday with Odette and her girls at the airport.

Twitter made it possible for me to be a part of it all too as it was happening and I found myself holding my breath in anticipation as the updates came in. Seeing the tweets as the van left for the airport and Stephanie’s pictures along the way, I felt as if I had an inside seat as the joyful group made its way from one state and into another for the long anticipated arrival of Odette’s girls.

Once at the airport, Stephanie kept shooting out images and word updates and when the girls I arrived, I cried a few happy tears of my own after reading Stephanie’s tweet, ” They are together ” along with the image of hers that you see above. Jen Lee has a beautiful post this morning that can give more details about Odette’s story and how she and Jen Lemen first met.

I so love happy endings especially when it marks the beginning of something even more wonderful and new. I encourage you to click on the links and read more about their amazing journey … it’s guaranteed to make you smile.