Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!  I know, I's not Christmas or Thanksgiving or even Easter (although that one is coming up soon).  But, if you are my Facebook friend, you know by now that there is a holiday for every day of the year.  What you may not know, is how I, MaryEllen Miller, became the Queen of the Daily Holiday.

It all started with Dave Barry, syndicated humor columnist for the Miami Herald.  My friend, Dave (ok, I don't really know him, but if I did, we'd be friends, I'm sure of it), wrote a column in 2002 about Talk Like a Pirate Day.  My son, Chris, and I saw the column and had a big laugh about it.  We talked like pirates ourselves for a little while.  We would even bring up Talk Like a Pirate Day every now and again.

In September of 2007, after I'd been working at The Sparks Agency for about six months, I mentioned to Sparky, "tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day."  And, he knew what I was talking about!  (Which, of course, further cemented the fact that I was destined to work for him.)  So, we left work that day, and showed up the next day - BOTH dressed like pirates!  We didn't talk about it before.  We didn't even suggest that dressing up might be fun.  Nope.  We just surprised each other.  Boy, did we feel like comic geniuses, too!

While all dressed up, and using our best pirate vocabulary and scallywag accents, we figured that if today is a holiday, then tomorrow might be a holiday, too.  And, there just might be a holiday for every day of the year.  Sure enough, there is!

It became my mission, right then and there, to research the very depths of holiday-dom to find each and every holiday for each and every day of the year.  It was (and still is) hard work, but it's my life's work.  I consider it to be one of my greatest contributions to society.  Therefore, I try to start every day using Facebook for good (and not evil) and wishing a Happy <insert holiday here> Day to the masses.  No, I will not tell you where I get all the holidays.  You'll just have to rely on me to be your resource.  

Some holidays are commonly known to the General Public (New Year's Day, President's Day, Labor Day).  Other holidays are good for mankind (Random Acts of Kindness Day, National Hugging Day, National Common Courtesy Day).  Many are kind of weird (National Chicken Boy Day, Slugs Return from Capistrano Day, International Sword Swallowers Day).  There are some that remind me of my friends (Lips Appreciation Day - Kathryn Nordstrom, World Nutella Day - Michael Bloomberg, International Day of Awesomeness - Gina Berry).  For the most part though, they're just fun (Buzzard Day, National Sea Monkey Day, Lost Sock Memorial Day).  Whatever they are, I'm sharing them with you.  

I, personally, do a happy dance when my dryer dries the clothes on the first cycle, but there are plenty of people in this world who need a real reason to celebrate something.  If you, or someone you know, suffers from "Stick in the Mud Syndrome," there still could be hope.  Just check back with me for today's holiday.  You, or someone you know, could just be waiting for National Chicken Dance Day to get that stick out of the...ummm...mud, and celebrate!

Much love and many blessings to you,

Psalm 47:1

My favorite, favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, followed closely by International Goof-off Day.  What's yours?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Why I Relay

I told you before that as we go along, you will learn about my passions.  Well, I might as well start now.  I'll do this one at a time, and I'll spread them out over time..just to keep things interesting.

One of my biggest passions is the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life.  It is the largest fundraiser in the world for the ACS.  Everyone involved in Relay For Life has a "reason to Relay."  Mine is an ever changing story.  I started Relaying in 2005, when my friend, Stephanie Couch (that's her on the left), was battling ovarian cancer.  In 2005, she was my reason.    

Stephanie was a spectacular woman.  She was kind and generous and loving and hilarious.  We worked in the same office and in a short time we became great friends.  She loved her family and her friends with all her heart.  She laughed at the same crazy and inappropriate things that I laughed at.  She had horrible jokes, that you couldn't help but laugh at.  (Yeah, I know, birds of a feather and all.)  Our desks faced one another for a while and we could peek around our monitors and keep each other laughing all day.  (The "powers that be" did finally change up that particular seating arrangement.  It was like being in school again.)

She started having some stomach issues and some "female" issues.  After tests and more tests, those issues found a name.  I remember her coming back to work and telling us it was ovarian cancer.  I remember not knowing what to expect from that, but that we were all really positive.  If anyone could beat this, it was Steph.  With her attitude, she could beat anything.  Lots of people had cancer and survived it.  We had no idea.  

Treatments made it seem like it went away.  A complete hysterectomy made it seem like they got it all.  Stephanie's attitude made it seem like she was winning this battle.  She wasn't.  She got the call at work and made the doctor just tell her right then (she was persuasive that way).  It was back.  And it was mad.  

Because the cancer was so angry and so aggressive, she had to have serious chemotherapy treatments.  She suffered through them like a trooper, keeping her attitude as positive as she could through the sickness and the pain of it all.  At least her hair wasn't falling out.  Until it did.  

I remember that day like it was yesterday.  It was Halloween, and Steph, being a huge fan of Halloween and always having clever costumes, was dressed in an all pink sweatsuit, with sprayed pink hair.  She had a sneaker tied to the top of her head.  She was a piece of bubble gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe.  I'm telling you, she was funny! 

What wasn't funny was when Stephanie noticed that there was something pink and kind of fuzzy on the floor.  And there was some of it on her desk.  And there was some of it on her keyboard.  And when she picked it up, she realized it was her hair - her pink hair that she sprayed just that morning so she would be bubble gum.  That's what I remember most about it all.  How that pink hair just kept falling.  I'm not even sure I can describe the feeling I had, much less describe how she must have felt.  I know that it was heartbreaking and that the vision crept deep into my soul where, I believe, it will remain forever.  

In the spring of 2005, another friend at work, Summer, brought us information about this Relay For Life thing.  We didn't know much about it, but we knew that it gave us something real we could do to honor our friend.  So we put together a team and we raised some money.  We went to that Relay and we stayed up all night at the football field.  We cried and we laughed.  We drank the Kool-Aid. 

In 2006, the demon that is ovarian cancer took my friend.  It took her from her husband who loved her oh-so-very much.  It took her from her children who adored her.  It took her from so many who knew how special she was.  It took her from me.  

In 2005 at Relay For Life, I was a Team Member.  Then I became a Committee Member, and then a Team Captain, and then the Event Chair and now I'm the Marketing & Communications Chair.  My "reason to Relay" started with Stephanie.  Then it was (and still is) my Aunt Margaret, who has been battling lymphoma for more than ten years.  But now, the purple Kool-Aid runs through my blood and my "reason to Relay" has grown to something vast.  Now, I Relay for YOU!

I know YOU have been touched in one way or another by cancer.   I have learned so much over the past eight years about how the American Cancer Society can help in so many situations, and I am willing to share that knowledge with YOU at any possible opportunity.  Whether YOU are the person reading this, or the clerk at the Post Office, or the gentleman I met in line at the grocery store a few months ago,  I Relay for YOU.  As they say at the ACS, "Having cancer is hard, finding help shouldn't be."  Let ME help YOU find help.  

There is an official mission statement that goes like this:  The American Cancer Society Relay For Life represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported, and that one day cancer will be eliminated.  That about sums up why we do it -  those of us who have drank the purple Kool-Aid.  We're in it for the duration and just can't leave, because we believe we will not forget those we have lost...we believe we will support those who are facing diagnoses and treatment...we BELIEVE that one day cancer will be eliminated.  

Thank you for reading this all the way to the end.  

Psalm 147:3

Much love and many blessings to you,

Are you thinking to yourself, "if only there was something I could do?"  If you are, then YES! there is.  You can make a donation to Relay For Life by visiting my Relay site...  For your donation, I thank you.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

Kindness matters

At the beginning of this year, I was thinking about random acts of kindness, and I decided to make an effort to be kinder and more thoughtful.  I know, you're all saying, "but you are kind and thoughtful, ME."  Well, what I really am is polite.  I try to use my manners.  That's easy.  Being kind takes a greater effort than just being polite.  Not much greater, sometimes, but still a greater effort.  I will hold the door for the elderly person behind me at the gas station, because it is polite.  It is kind to hold the door and smile.  It is thoughtful to hold the door, smile and offer to pump their gas.  See, that's where it all breaks down for me...thoughtful.  

I am now on a mission to become more thoughtful.  This is no easy task.  I just don't think far enough ahead sometimes.  And, that's where it starts - thinking ahead.  How does one become more thoughtful when one doesn't think ahead?  

My plan is to remind myself to look for ways to help someone or to make someone smile.  I've even made a list of the things I have already done this year and I will continue to add to the list.  My goal is to do at least one "Act of Kindess" each week.  Now, this is not a medium for me to go telling all the good things about me and all the good things I do.  Instead, it is a way to make myself accountable for my efforts.  Accountable to you?  Maybe.  But at least accountable in that, periodically, I will update you all on some of the things that I have done where I've actually been able to see some feedback.  

The first thing, and the one that I have found to be the most fun for me (yeah, I know it's not really about me...but I like fun, okay...) is that I have started writing jokes on our checkstubs at work when I'm paying the bills.  I can imagine at American Express or the electric company or the water company, that someone is opening the mail, getting ready to apply the payment to our account, and getting a little random giggle in the middle of their day.  It makes me smile to think of the person on the other end laughing at a joke like, "How do you make a tissue dance? ~ put a little boogie in it!"  (Did you just giggle?  I hope so.)  How do I have some feedback on this one?  The Wills Point Chamber of Commerce retold my joke on Facebook - and credited me!  They thought it was a pleasant surprise and even touted my customer service skills.  

So, for almost eight weeks, I have done at least one Act of Kindness.  Has this made me more thoughtful?  I think so.  I told one of those jokes to someone on the phone the other day who sounded like she might be having a bad day.  She laughed.  I smiled.  

I'll update y'all later.  Don't be surprised to find a joke from me in your mailbox.  

Ephesians 4:32

Much love and much kindness to you,

What "Acts of Kindness" have you committed lately?