2,922 Bonus Days: That’s EIGHT Extra Years of life!

It’s that time of year again, ALREADY.  Thanksgiving has somehow come and gone, and Christmas is right around the corner.  My childhood BFF Mary just celebrated her birthday on December 1st (a chronological landmark I remember every year) and now the third is here…

It’s my EIGHT YEAR CANCER-VERSARY! 

Can you believe it?  It’s been eight happy, wonderful, blessed bonus years that I’ve been gifted since beating Stage III Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back in college.

The funny part about this commemorative occasion is that for the last several years, we’ve been celebrating it on December 5th.  In writing a post for this very blog, I uncovered some old photos, and actually found my radiation completion certificate – and lo and behold, it was dated the 3rd.  So the third of December it is.

The certificate of radiation completion!

The certificate of radiation completion!

This morning when I woke up to some texts and emails from family, I kinda found myself reflecting for a bit.  My moods ranged from full of awe and reverence to downright giddy. On Facebook, I posted an image of my cancer-beating certificate, and I’ve gotten an obscene amount of likes on it, like in the 160s and climbing.  And my dear pal and former-roomie and current co-worker Sasha “Salsa” Freeman Gray has been quite lovely in uploading some of the sillier pics from those crazy cancer days.

I was in college, had already gone through some really crazy health issues (a mis-diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease led me down the garden path of insane meds and eventually a full bowel obstruction which required a surgical resection), when my neck started to look like a sock full of golf balls – at least that’s the easiest way I’ve come to describe it.   I was tired, running slower than usual (literally, I ran a 5k and noted that my time was really slow, even for me), and I was having terrible night sweats.  Eventually I developed a non-producing cough, and around the holidays I just assumed I had some kind of supercold that my immuno-suppressed body couldn’t really fight so well.  It wouldn’t be until February of 2004 that I’d begin the process of diagnostic testing, and actually April when we found out for sure that it was Stage III-BS Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that had taken my collegiate body hostage.

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With Sasha, while getting my head shaved. I didn’t want to wait for it to fall out, so I took the matter into my own hands and got my pretty round head buzzed after my first chemo round.

In the process of shaving my head, I of course, had to take pause when I reached the excellent stage of MULLET.

In the process of shaving my head, I of course, had to take pause when I reached the excellent stage of MULLET.

I’ve gotten some interesting questions today – people wanting to know what it was like, how I’ve made the most of my time since, how I’m doing now… so without boring you all to death, I’ll try and give some tidbits:

What is it like to know you have cancer? 

Cancer was wacky crazy and very surreal for most of the experience, with one grindingly serious memory that jumps forward in which I finally absorbed the fact that I indeed had fecking CANCER and that it was hardcore.  Most of the time though, when you have cancer and you’re all chemo-bald, people know what your deal is and they’re very nice to you.  In my ongoing health issues with “Crohn’s Disease” and what we now know to be Acute Porphyria – it’s different. 

The serious realization came about very randomly.  I was driving home, and I was getting on Hodges from JTB (Jax ppl know what I mean), and it just hit me: I HAVE CANCER.  THIS IS SERIOUS.  And it kind of quietly overwhelmed me for a few moments, but by the time I got home I felt “normal” again.

How old were you? 

I was 20 when I was diagnosed, and celebrated my 21st birthday between chemo sessions.  I remember going to the Pepsi 400  (because that’s what it was called back then) on my actual birthday (July 3rd) and when a freak rainstorm came through I was freezing.  My then-boyfriend, Rick Neidringhaus, went and bought me some sweats and a windbreaker for my two favorite drivers: Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr, respectively.  I still have the pants and actually wear them often!

Sasha and bald-me, circa Fall 2004.

Sasha and bald-me, circa Fall 2004.

What got you through?

This one is easy: God, faith, family, friends, the entire UNF family, the Greek system, and my incredible team of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and techs – all the good people of Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville who efficiently and effectively saved my life.  I had top notch doctors – I was already a patient at Mayo because of my aggressive “Crohn’s Disease” (since I really didn’t have Crohn’s, my body would never respond to the treatment – rendering me a medical outlier with an extreme case and therefore in need of the best doctors in the land.  Luckily for me, I lived in Jax, FL at the time and had Mayo access just a few miles from home).

I kept a really awesome attitude the entire time.  I bore everyone to death with the stories I tell again and again – but the one that I must tell when I saw a mother and her wheelchair-bound small child park next to me at Publix the day I was officially diagnosed.  Seeing that kid who has likely never walked and likely never will, I refused to feel sorry for myself.  It changed my entire perspective on the situation.  The first 19 years of my life were spent in excellent health, as I lead a life of privilege, freedom and one full of lovely memories and special experiences.  Had I died the day I was diagnosed, I wouldn’t have had a regret or a single sad feeling for myself.  Having cancer is what it is – once that tough lump is swallowed, all that’s left is making the best of it.  So I fought hard, kept my chin up, and did what I always do: plow my way through with some jokes and a lot of laughs, and a firm anchor to God and faith in the ultimate plan He has for my life.

Have these eight years been well-lived?

I mean, according to me – YES.  Heck, yes!  I’ve done some pretty amazing things and I believe I’ve chocked eight years full of an awful lot of life.  I’ve traveled, I’ve helped others, I’ve tried new things, I’ve experienced love, loss, happiness, and pain, full spectrum human experience.  I’ve created art, made others smile, formed friendships in the strangest and most normal of places – and every now and then I hear the “I word,” that I’ve inspired someone else into doing something good or at least having a good attitude about whatever it is he or she has going on.

Knowing that I can actually inspire others is very humbling.

Knowing that I’ve literally been granted 2,992 extra days of this life (heck yes I counted Leap Years) is humbling.

Snorkeling in Hawaii.  I've had a very happy life, yes!

Snorkeling in Hawaii. I’ve had a very happy life, yes!

I ran my first marathon this year, 26.2 miles!

I ran my first marathon this year, 26.2 miles!

Helping Sandy Relief in NYC last month.

Helping Sandy Relief in NYC last month.

My husband + me, smooching from a deer stand.

My husband + me, smooching from a deer stand.

Me - hunting just this past week or so!

Me – hunting just this past week or so!

So what’s it like now?

It’s both far-removed and ever-present.  The scars have faded, but they’re still there; and I still have my very first tattoos – the radiation dots that they marked me with to make sure they hit the same spot every day.  (As far as scars go, I had a couple stitches in my neck from a biopsy, another incision on the left side of my neck from having a lymph node removed, and I have a scar on my chest when I had my port-a-cath taken in and out).  I don’t obsess or worry about relapsing like I once did, and I don’t have to do the often check-ups and scans as I did in those first crucial years of remission.  I passed the five-year milestone three years ago, and that was a BIG ONE.  That’s the “you’re cured” milestone.

I don’t ever want to lose touch with that experience though.  After all, having been through cancer is a huge definer of who I am as a person.  It shaped me into a MUCH nicer person in general, and a tougher person in many ways.  It gave me a glimpse of my own frailty and left me with a profound appreciation for life and every breath I take.  And with that comes a responsibility to carry out a life well-lived and to do good in this world – and I find myself still trying to grasp at the best ways to keep that promise.

From this experience, what still impacts you today? 

I forever live with inexplicable gratitude in my heart.  For every nurse who held my hand, every doctor who took the time to make sure I received exemplary care… to my loved ones who came with me to chemo, prayed for me around the clock, and supported me in so many ways that words can never express… to the friends, classmates, and total strangers who came together to raise funds to help cover the costs of my treatment, to my Dad for working hard and having a good job that provided excellent insurance for me and money still to cover the costs that even excellent insurance didn’t take care of.

I carry with me a legacy of the hopes, dreams, and the honor of so many people who aren’t as lucky, of those who came before me and the technology that saved my life, of those in circumstances that don’t allow for early detection or top-notch medical care, of those who just don’t win the fight.  And that’s something that’s very real with me, a part of who I am.  We stand on the shoulders of so many giants, and I can’t ever forget that.

Mostly though, I just feel like me: Rose.  A happy wacky tie-dye loving slightly-redneck weirdo who often smiles and laughs everyday, and who is truly loved.  And I’m happy to be me, and I feel blessed to be me – each and every day.

I suppose if there was ever a profound take-away from an experience like mine – it is knowing in every ounce of my being that I am loved.  By my God, my family, those around me then and now, my husband, my friends, my sister, and even strangers – yes.  I am loved.  And being able to come face to face with such colossal concepts as life, death, and love is an honor that I am humbled to have experienced and lived through to write about now.

This post is dedicated to all of the many, many people who saved my life.  And to the many more lives that are forever changed by cancer, in all manner of ways – both happy and sad. 

Thank you for reading and for your support.

XOXO, 

HHR

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Everyday Hero: Mike “Loco” Hoffman of Staten Island

If you were to ask Staten Island native Mike “Loco” Hoffman about his contributions to the ongoing Sandy Relief efforts, he’d tell you he’s just doing his part to help, that he’s nothing special.  But to the thousands of affected residents of New Dorp and Midland, this gentle giant is nothing less than a hero.

mike “loco” hoffman – a man who’s become a hero to many

I met Mike a couple weeks ago while I was downstate volunteering as a Sandy relief worker.  Here was this big imposing tough guy, smiling and giving hugs as he orchestrated volunteers and comforted storm survivors.   What really impressed me was the way he went about things.  Mike saw to it that everything was prioritized based on need and circumstance; a family with a seriously ill child would be higher on the list for generator access than a house of healthy young adults.    Working tirelessly since the superstorm came ashore, he’s a relief leader and morale coach for some of the island’s hardest hit neighborhoods.  Corralling labor volunteers, running area shelters, repairing homes, delivering supplies… Mike Hoffman ensures that no need – no matter how great or how small – goes unmet on his watch.

It’s Just Who He Is:

Known as “Loco” to his friends, Hoffman first made a name for himself as a high school football star at both Port Richmond and Curtis.  Destined for collegiate D-1 greatness, Mike’s dreams were cut short when his mother was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Choosing to care for her while placing his own ambition on hold wasn’t a choice for Mike, it was an instinct. Putting the needs of others far before his own is just who he is.

On the surface he seems like a normal guy: he and wife Amaury have been happily married for more than a decade, they have four beautiful children.  “Coach Hoffman,” as he’s known to many, has volunteered for the last seven years with Staten Island youth football and baseball teams.

But normal as we know it is long gone in the post-Sandy world of Staten Island.  Putting down a team roster and picking up a volunteer contact sheet, Mike does what he’s best at: stepping up to the plate to help those around him.

 

mike “loco” hoffman – doing a lot of heavy lifting, physically and emotionally, to help those around him

 

Rolling Up His Sleeves

Every single day he’s out there working hard.  Digging out homes in areas where flood waters reached heights of twelve feet, delivering donated generators to families in need, demo, ripouts, cleaning up the mud and muck left behind from the storm surge, collecting and distributing donated supplies – if it needs to be done, he’ll pitch in and make it happen.  He’s even gotten his whole family involved.  All of his kids have been out to volunteer with him, even his youngest, who made a huge impact on Midland residents. He’s been on the news and in the streets educating others of the many abounding risks, including: electrocution hazards, structurally unsound homes, debris and dust inhalation, infectious illness from unsanitary conditions, growing mold in waterlogged buildings, hypothermia, muscle-strain, violent looters, and even the ever-increasing issue of disaster-scams.

I so admire the work Mike has been doing, I wanted to get involved in any way I could.  Before I left Staten Island on my last day there, I made him an offer:  “when I get back home and I have Internet access, power, a fully charged cell phone – I’ll help you in anyway I can. ”

I’ve been back in Western New York for just over a week, and I’ve kept good on my promise.  (Little did I know what I was getting into!).   He jokingly calls me his PR-rep, but really I’m like his secretary or an assistant.  We’ve become a little team: he’s boots on the ground, and I’m the desk jockey.   As Mike does labor, canvasses neighborhoods, distributes supplies, I do the office work of calling elected officials, posting online requests for volunteers, tracking down people who can help, and so on.  I’m so happy to pitch in any way I can, and if my end of things makes Mike more effective – that’s a win for all of us.

loco, organizing volunteers and assigning work that needs to be done

 

 

In His Own Words:

This evening, I asked Mike what the biggest need is now:

“As of now, the biggest need is getting the word out.  It’s not a hot topic anymore, people have gotten tired of hearing about it.  The news coverage has dropped off and people are already forgetting about us, they’ve moved on.  Everyone came out and pitched in for a week or two – and while that was great, this thing is far from over for us.  We need volunteers, we need donations, we need help!  And this goes for people here too, if your house got worked on, go help your neighbors out.  There’s still so much work to do, we all need to rally now and keep going.”

 

Reflecting on how people are coping:

“A lot of people didn’t know what their neighbors’ names were before this thing happened, and now they’re checking in on each other.  I’ve heard plenty of stories about that, people didn’t even know who lived across the street, and now they’re checking in with one another all the time – ‘Hey Mr. Jenkins, I’m going down to get some hot food.  Do you need anything?’ – they’re working together now, we’re all in this thing together.”

 

Why he does what he does:

“When the landlord calls me, I’m disheartened.  When I see the bills piling up, it’s discouraging.  But then,  I look around and I’m motivated.   I won’t let my personal problems get in the way of what my heart is telling me to do.”

“I just want to lead by example.  My kids look up to me, I’m their role model, and I know they’re going to grow up to be good people – and that’s all I need.  All of my kids have been out there and pitched in, and that means so much to me.  My little nine year old came out and he was a saint – I was worried about his little lungs, so I had him all decked out in the mask and everything – and he was just a firecracker he had so much energy.  He was asking people what they needed, and he was so excited to get it.  He swept the whole street, it was amazing.  It made me feel good as a father.  And then when he wrote that message on the generator it just broke me down, I got emotional.”

the sweet message loco’s youngest son wrote on a generator: we are there for you! Johnny5 son of Mike Hoffman, a help for our nation.

 

Get Involved! 

If you want to get to know Mike for yourself, and keep up with all the great work he does, check him out on Facebook (Mike Loco Hoffman) and Twitter (@TheMikeLoco).   You can also contact him directly: 917.548.0523 or mikeloco@msn.com to see what his needs are on any given day.  Right now volunteers, specifically for labor, tools, and any supplies/gear that can help out labor crews are in big demand.  Hard hats, goggles, work gloves, dust masks, sledge hammers, axes, shovels, wheelbarrows, crowbars, pry bars – any of those items would be a huge help.

Acquiring tools is really very hard and hanging on to them seems to be even harder.  They’re expensive to pay for, so it takes a lot of money to get just a few things.  Luckily, donations of great tools have come in and Mike’s been able to get access to some.  They just don’t seem to last long, though.  Of course, many items are one-use only or get worn out quickly.  As far as the big and pricey tools, they’re constantly getting stolen.  Mike hasn’t been able to transport them all to his home every night where he can safeguard them – so this has been an ongoing problem.

Some donations have been rounded up, and we’ve been able to rent a truck for Mike!  It’s a U-Haul type truck that he can safely store the tools in and keep locked.  As of now, there were enough donations to cover the cost of the truck for a week.   We’re looking for help keeping it rented – or funding of some kind of storage container that securely locks.

Even if you just wish Mike well and give him some positivity and encouragement – that would be great!

As always, I want to thank you for reading!  I know it’s been a lot of Sandy talk lately, and that for some people hearing about the topic so much is tiresome.  For far too many people there is no escaping this topic though – they’re living it.  And it’s for them that I keep talking about it, and it’s for them that I ask you keep listening, reading, and spreading the word.  The more we all pitch in, the faster affected people can get their lives back in order.

 

XOXO, HHR

Sandy Relief: NYC-ready, Generosity of Others Has Helped Me Pack!

It’s official.  Any grown man who kindly chuckles when you refer to the industrial strength push brooms inside a Home Depot as, “elephant toothbrushes,” should probably be nominated for sainthood.  Or at least get some kind of Newbery Medal or something.  (Oh calm down, I know what the Newbery Medal is… and seriously, I believe that push-broom humor is way better than Across Five Aprils – just sayin’).

the only feasible use for such an item is cleaning the teeth of an elephant.

What the HECK am I rambling on about? The final hours of prep are behind me and I’m all but ready to hit the road and head down to NYC and pitch in where I can to help with any Sandy Relief efforts.  I’m a little bit loopy (last night’s all-nighter is catching up with me, yes) and a lot excited.  The past week has been a really amazing time for me… and for humankind.   In just a few short days my idea to help a little with the Sandy Relief efforts going on downstate have evolved into a full out movement, with support coming in from so many directions.  Strangers and loved ones alike have been digging deep to give all that they can, trusting me to make wise choices and do as much good as possible, the most humanitarian bang for their buck.   And here we are… it’s just about go time, and I’m simply dazzled by the goodness of people and the love all over this.

I mean, I know it’s not all rainbows and puppies, of course.  I have kept in mind why on earth I’m doing all this in the first place.  Hurricane Sandy was a whopper.  And while she was slamming the coast, and in her aftermath, there’s been the entire gamut of human emotion left in her wake.  We’ve heard some stories in the news, on social media, and through the grapevine about people being pretty nasty to one another (and well, it’s election day tomorrow – so we’ve been hearing about the worst of humanity in smear campaigns for months now)… but right now I want to pay attention to the shinier side of that coin.

Tonight friends, this is a story about hope. 

(And even if it’s kinda wordy and long, I think it’s really a good read.)

This is a story about the kindness and heart of people who want to help, and who mean well, and who are willing to do good.

I really had NO idea what I was getting myself into when I volunteered to start pooling together donations.  Truth be told, I thought I’d be shipping some boxes downstate and that would be that.  But now as I know I have a car chock full of love, a new friend for the journey, plenty more to meet before it’s all said and done, and a race against time and mother nature to do as much good as we can – I’m just honored to be a part of this.

Skip is the man I was talking about up top.  He’s a saint.  He just so happened to be working his usual post in our local Fredonia Home Depot tonight when I came in with a long list of ideas and very little clue about the specifics of what I needed.  When I was on the phone asking silly questions about the kinds of masks and what type of broom, Skip decided I needed some help.  He grabbed a cart, did all the heavy lifting, and walked back and forth across that Home Depot with me so many times.  And when I made my ridiculous jokes, he had the wonderful decency to laugh.  He downright chuckled a couple times, like when I suggested splurging on the hot pink duct tape and letting the homeowners deal with it.  Heh.

After Skip helped me to find the best deals, and explained to me the subtle differences between hand cleaners and crow bars, and plastic vs wood handles on tools – I had to sprint out to the parking lot.

skip, helping me shop with good natured patience

 

skip is the best!

 

Because, simultaneously, as I was getting goods at Home Depot to help in the hard labor (all covered through donations, mind you) – out in the parking lot I was meeting up with an Angel.  Kathy, from a local Catholic church in town, went so far out of her way to help me.  I called around to churched today to see if any places had stores of clothing or blankets, and while mane did not – a lady who happened to be working at one such place offered to do me one better.  “I can clean out my house when I get out of work tonight.”  She brought EIGHT  GARBAGE BAGS… yes, EIGHT full bags of winter clothing, boots, and more.  Kids sizes of all kinds, and stuff for teenagers and adults too.

Yup.  Kathy and her family are going down for Sainthood as well.

kathy, thank you so much! tell your kids we appreciate their work and generosity as well!

And this, she explained to me, was her just getting started!  She said she could do more with some extra time… (speaking of which, hold that thought, we have some ideas in the works for long-term projects to keep taking care of those hardest hit long after the media circus dies down and their lives are still left in pieces).

Skip and Kathy are just two of the amazing people who are making this journey possible.  The kind and generous owners, Edward W. Pagano, Jr. and his wife, of our Fredonia Sears hometown store – they’re sending me to Staten Island with 50 pairs of work gloves, and at least 30 dust masks, water bottles, and more.  Sears as a company already donated to Sandy, this is from two small-business owners in the community, just wanting to do their part to help.  The folks at Smith’s True Value in Irving donated a lot as well, gloves and masks too, plastic sheeting, and other supplies.

the first store to get into the spirit and donate to me

peeking into one of the bags from smith’s true value

 

My friends have been putting money into my paypal account, offering to help in any way they can.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE, Y’ALL.

And just being at the epicenter of so much love, hope, teamwork, and true humanity is honestly one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever experienced.  

I’m meeting a brand new friend tomorrow morning at about 6:00am.   Her name is Kate, and she’s going on this adventure with me! About forty miles from here she’s been experiencing the good of her own “village,” getting donations and all kinds of items ready to go as well.  She’s keeping me company on the ride down and then we’re rolling up our sleeves and getting to work.

Others have called to talk about rides if I go again, or more items I can bring back next time.  I’ve been asked where to send things to, and people have just been WANTING to help.  It’s all so… AMAZING.

Don’t get me wrong.  Hurricane Sandy and the destruction she’s brought to this state, the coastline, and our nation is just jaw-droppingly devastating.  We didn’t stumble upon a gold mine of warm fuzzy feelings unprovoked;  I’m sure that tomorrow as I set eyes on the aftermath for myself, it’s going  to take all this positive energy that’s been percolating to keep me going.  I’m sure there will be tough times to come, and for so many of our fellow brothers and sisters living in the thick of it all right now – they are in some of their darkest days.

All together though, we’ll help brighten things up.

With the thoughtfulness of the Skip, and the encouragement of Eddie (another Home Depot worker who was really kind and helpful, wishing us the best), with the love and nurturing of Kathy, and the warmth from Mary (a local church lady who’s donated some gorgeous handmade blankets for me to bring down)… the resourcefulness of Edward Pagano, Jr., his wife, and the folks at Smith’s True Value for finding so many items they could afford to spare, with the planning of my pal MJ who’s organizing street teams in Staten Island to get the work done… with all these efforts combined, and added to the countless other acts of love, giving, help, thoughtfulness, support, and hard work we are able to create our own force of nature.

home depot = success!

 

from handmade blankets to gas cans, tools, water, boots, and more – the buick is packed full of donations to hand out

We’re leaving very early in the morning, so I’ll just end things on a fabulous and inspiring note for now.

To everyone who has pitched in: THANK YOU, it means so much to me, and I KNOW it will mean so much to the countless lives we’re going to help as best as we can once we’re down there.  If you’ve been hard hit by the storm and you’re at your wit’s end… know that we love you, we’re thinking of you, and there are so many people – people you’ll never know and will never meet – that are doing all they can for you, and will keep at it until your needs are met and life as it should be, is restored. 

and here i am tonight, whizzing out of home depot – an excited (and yes, very very blurry) bundle of happy energy

Still interested?  We haven’t even left yet – gas and other costs are certain to come up.  Just simply wire me some funds via paypal using happyhippierose@gmail.com.  Any donations are appreciated, and I’ll make sure to post about how the money is spent and how much we’re able to do once we get into the hardest-hit areas.

Good night, God Bless, and tune back in to find out more about how this project all plays out!  I’ll post better pictures of what we’re brining when it’s light out tmrw, and of course you can always track me down on Fb or Twitter!

XOXO, HHR 

This is Dedicated To The Ones We Love: Valentines To Our Bodies

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone! 

Lately, I’ve been posting about some of my body image issues, Being down and out on the way I look… and I’ve seen a lot of replies come in letting me know that I’m not alone. 

A lot of us are hard on ourselves – over the way we look, the size of our bodies, over not fitting into this perfect image we think we should match up to.  

I want to change the way I see myself.  I want to break the patterns of being critical, sometimes self-hating, and getting so discouraged over my appearance… Instead, I want to use words of love to describe myself, having a focus of appreciation, wonder, and gratefulness towards my body. 

Instead of going it alone, I asked my friends to join in.  

What better timing than to do something like this on Valentine’s Day?  We can make our bodies the object of our affections. Now – I know there are lots of other projects out there that are like-minded.  I think that’s rad!  I didn’t mean to emulate or copy anyone with my effort here; the fact that lots of us are trying to embrace an air of positive body image is an awesome, good thing.  So if you know of another project or movement – link us to it!  Let’s share in the love. 

Reading these letters makes me smile, laugh, and even tear up a little bit.  There is so much beauty in this post, it’s overwhelming.  THANK YOU EVERYONE for your participation.  And for showing us all your real loveliness! 

Now, without further adieu…  Valentines To Our Bodies

Adam Avitable

adam avitable, showing us his best side? while the avitable is about joking around, adam is quite the dashing, charming, good looking guy!

Adam’s post is a little tongue-in-cheek.  He is an online humorist, and he’s great. Here are some excerpts – to check out his whole post, go here.

Dear Body, I love you. I knew that a steady diet of cheeseburgers, french fries, pizza, and butter would make you into an object of desire and affection. Your hair still covers every inch of you, except on the top of your head, but that’s okay. I enjoy being able to explore fashion trends with different types of hats. Being the size of six normal people just means that you are six times as awesome! Being able to ride in solace in an elevator because you meet the weight limit alone is gratifying. Bringing your own titanium chair to restaurants allows you to protect the environment, and buying four seats on an airplane before you board gives you the comfort that none of those other passengers will ever experience.

Andrew N.

andrew is a handsome gent - and look at the awesome TIE DYE!!!

So you wanna a love letter huh?

I love my body…

Your Statistics

Height 5’8″
Weight 215 lbs
Age 43 years
Gender male

Your Results

BMI 32.69 More info
BMR 2038.95 More info

I love my body so much I think its off the charts!  “BMI is between 30-34.99 (Obese Class 1) Individuals with a BMI of 30-34.99 are in a physically unhealthy condition”

I do love my body!

I hear walking is good exercise, so I tried this summer.  I also like to fish…it can be so relaxing.  Maybe I need to learn to fix healthier meals or something?   

This is fun. 

Ashley Tanner

ashley's pretty faceashley all va-va-voom at the navy day ball!

My sweet friend  Rose wrote a post about body image recently, and then extended the invite to write a love letter to our bodies!  I have struggled with body image issues in the past, mostly centering around my nose from elementary school through college, and more recently with my weight.  The weight was the hardest because I felt like it was something I could control, so when I first gained while my amazing husband (boyfriend at the time) and I were dealing with our first combat deployment, I used food as comfort.  That resulted in me going from my all time low of 125 to my all time high of 145-150.  I ran myself so hard (literally) I hurt my knee, I had to switch to swimming.  Then in 2011 I hurt my foot badly.  When I got off crutches after a month it hurt to walk 1/4 of a mile.  Now I can walk a full 9 miles, but my knees and hips pay for it because of the remaining scar tissue on the ball of my foot.  At the height of this injury, none of my clothes fit.  Not even the clothes that fit when i was 145-150.  That was devastating, and I refused to step of a scale.  I have since lost some of it, but my new aversion to scales has kept me from knowing how much.  I still hover around 140, my husband swears up and down I am the most beautiful woman he knows, and my body is amazing.  I seriously would be a mess sometimes without him.  
 
Now for the love letter… I love my legs.  They are long and gorgeous, and have carried me on runs and swims for distances I never knew I could achieve, and they remained faithful to me as I recovered by regaining enough strength to do basic exercises fairly quickly.  I love my size 10 hips, they are gorgeous and curvy, and I know they will serve me well some day when I have kids!  I love my back and shoulders, when I was swimming a lot I felt the changes in them and the strength, even though I do not swim like I used to, I still feel like they are stronger than they were before I was swimming a lot. I love my nose, if it was any smaller it would look strange on my long angular face.  It is also the most obvious feature I have gained from my Lebanese heritage and I am proud of it!  
 
I love you Rose!!  I think what you’re doing is amazing! 

 
Becky Cooper 

beautiful becky cooper

Becky wrote an entire blog post about today’s subject – check her out at Beautiful DIsaster.   Here’s a snippet of what Becky wrote:

I’d like to send a thank you out to every person in the world who takes a moment of their day to tell someone they’re beautiful!  One simple comment can be the difference between a smile or a frown for the day. A huge thank you to Happy Hippie Rose and her amazing blog for inspiring me to be comfortable in my body, and for always being there when I think I’m going crazy!

Claire Williams

the williams fam, claire with her hubs and two lovely children

Dearest one and only body, 
You are a precious gift from God and a temple to be cherished! You’ve allowed me to do so many amazing things throughout my life so far. But there is no doubt that the greatest gifts of my entire life are my husband and two beautiful children. And you, my magnificent body are the beautiful, strong, patient, safe and healthy environment that helped bring my children into this world! I love you for your strength that made both their births 100% drug free and for the ability to just make, grow and deliver them! What a miracle. I have more respect for you now than ever before. I’m grateful to God for you..I vow to protect and love you and teach my children to love and respect their bodies as well. Thank you!
 
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
 
All my love and respect,
Claire Helena Williams

Heather Lyman 

heather – my pretty, inspiring, strong, wonderful cousin!

What a cool idea!  

 
Media has stripped away our ability to see beauty for what it really is…

 
I love my arms because they allow me to hug those in need of affection.
I love my mouth because I am able to lift the spirits of those around me, to praise their efforts, give them reassurance, profess my love and let them know I care.
I love my ears for they allow me to listen to those that need an ear to bend.
I love my stretch marks (most the time) because they remind me of the beautiful children I have and how much they have changed my life for the better and made me a better person.
I love my shoulders, for they let the weight of the world rest on them at times.
 
Most of all, I love my whole body, for it encompasses who I am; my spirit, my love, my heart, and no other person is me (no matter how hard they try to be 😉 ) !
 
Love ya Rose!
Leigh Palmer

leigh, doing what she does best - being happy, lovely, and awesome!

Dear Leigh’s Body –
 
I’m so amazed at the places you’ve gone – from sun, to sand to snow. From childhood to motherhood. You’ve gone up, you’ve gone down, but you always share your thoughts with me. When I’ve been bad and stayed out late – you told me. When I’ve been good and gone to the gym- you thanked me. Thanks for always letting me know what’s going on. I promise to always take care of and treasure you.
Libby Felts James

libby is a gorgeous girl, happy, honest and free!

Dear Lib’s Bod: You are amazing and I love you because you allow me to feel pleasure. Pleasure with a friend, pleasure on my own, pleasure when I taste something delicious, pleasure when I take a hot bath, pleasure when the sun shines on my skin, pleasure when I hear beautiful music, pleasure when I see beauty in my environment, pleasure when I get a little high after riding my mountain bike, pleasure when my husband smiles at me—I owe all of this to the marvelously formed miracle that is you. You fucking rock.

Awesome project, Rose! It is so great that you’re doing this!  

Check out Libby’s blog here.

Sara Stewart

sweet sar smiling - i love it! sar is smart, funny, and as you can see: beautiful!

Dear Me, 

After Careful consideration, thank you for all the things you have let me accomplish over the years, and most of all thank you for teaching me despite insecurities, that large, or small, overweight or thin that it doesn’t change what I am capable of, and best of all even with all the changes over the years, that it’s learning how to smile and laugh even when faced with tight situations (pants or otherwise) that is best lesson of all. 

Cheers, Sarah. 

Shannon Johnson Thomas

shannon dances with grace, her body is an expression of beauty

Dear Body,

 

Although you are quite vertically challenged (I am 5 foot small), you make up for it with your strength and agility.  My muscular physic allows me to express myself through the art of dance.  Because of this, I cherish you and always will.   :):):)

 

Love,

Shannie

And now it’s my turn.
Rose Duggan – the happy hippie rose

taken just now - me and pooch.no sucking in, no photo editing.100% authentic me - and i'm learning to love every inch!

Dear Body,
I love you.  Yes sometimes, you give me aches and pains.  Sometimes, it seems that you’re in a massive revolt against every intention I have.  Oftentimes, I feel out of control when it comes to you. 
Despite it all, though, I LOVE YOU. 
You have never failed me.  
My strong legs have always carried me.  Running mile after mile, rising up to a challenge, walking gracefully through the various phases of life – sometimes even skipping.  I love you long, strong stems.
My arms, though not strong by many standards have served me well.  They carry enough for me, they’ve learned to hug (hey, I haven’t always been a “hugger,” ya know).
My hands make art and type words that mean a lot.  They paint, craft, cook, and sometimes they fly out of control trying to illustrate a point I’m making.  Best of all – they hold the hands of Duggs. 
My eyes see the best in people.  
My hair has always done its own thing, and for that I have the utmost respect! 
Oh body, we have so much fun together.  We explore, travel, snuggle, stretch.  We’re at our best in water – I think maybe you are part fish.  (And I’m totally cool with that).  
Body, I am mean to you.  I call you names, and I feed you junk food.  I look at photos of other bodies and then I get mad at you.  I have an impossible standard for you, and it’s not fair.  For this, I am sorry.  I would like to be much nicer to you; I want to show you how much I love you. 
I thank God for making you just the way He did.  Exactly. 
Through every challenge we’ve gone through, I’ve learned much.  Every scar has a story and has helped shape who I am.  I love myself, and thus – I do love you too, dear body of mine. 
XOXO, Rose 
 

Let’s Make Our Bodies Our Valentines

First of all: I am so blown away by the responses to yesterday’s post.  Just, REALLY.

The comments, emails, and messages that have come in are just so comforting.  Hearing my fellow womenkind tell me about their own issues, their own struggles:  I feel comfort knowing I’m not crazy, I’m not alone with my body image issues; but I’m sad that SO MANY of us feel this way.

We should feel comfortable in our skin.  We should strive to be healthy.  But how?

After our conversation yesterday, do you want to find a way to be comfy in your skin? How can you become happy with your appearance?

We should be loving our bodies, for reals.  

Oh, and to the guys who gave me feedback too: thank you.  I know that body image struggle is NOT a woman-only thing.  It’s an all of us thing.  And then, hearing men speak up about the aesthetics they like, the reassurance – it’s just so nice. 

I feel like yesterday I exposed a big part of myself, and instead of being mocked or hurt, the Internet just gave me a big ole hug.  I cannot tell you how amazing that is.

THANK YOU.

this is me right now, working on this post, basking in the love y'all have shown me. what an awesome feeling!

So after my post, there was an epic guest post by Carly about respecting her body, her motivation for being healthy.  And then, my friend Sydney posted this amazing blog about why she loves her body.  Not only was it this bold and encouraging declaration, it was a call for all of us to do the same:

I encourage you to make a post, or just write down all the reasons you love your body you don’t have to publish it, the most important part is that you recognize that you are beautiful and that you remind yourself of all the amazing features you have, no one else has to know. So here I go, all the reasons why I love my body…

such a cute photo of sydney

Go read her blog to see her reasons (to give you an idea, it reads like a love letter to all of the amazing things her body can do – her strong legs that take her on runs, and etc.).

It reminds me of the attitude my friend Libby has.  One time when I was all down on my looks, she talked to me about how amazing our bodies are – oh the things they can do!  She explained how she’s so happy for the faculties she has, talking, walking, running, etc.  Our bodies are these complex high functioning machines, and well, they’re incredible.

Our bodies deserve our love.  So, i have an idea on where we can start, a way to love our bodies.  Valentine’s!

oooh! i have an idea!! oh yeah! i'm up to something, for sure...

This year: make your body your Valentine! 

I want to change my understanding of what a beautiful body is.  I want to be happy and grateful for what I have.

So, is anyone else interested?

Here’s where you, dear reader, come in:

I’m going to write a love letter to myself, and with it, I’ll include some honest photos of myself. It’s going to be a Valentine to my body!

I don’t want to do it alone, though.  Stand with me, post with me.  Please?!

1. Send in a brief love letter to your body, a couple sentences.  If you’d like to publish a longer letter somewhere else – go for it!  Give us a link along with your abridged version. Send what you got to happyhippierose (at) gmail dot com 

2. Include a photo of yourself.  It can be as honest as you’d like, it can be as cloistered as you feel comfy with.  Just have a headshot of your pretty smile? That’s fine too.  The photo is at your discretion and comfort level, and well – keeping in mind this is a family-friendly blog (for the most part), and WordPress has TOS. 

3. Mean what you say.  There’s no way to enforce this one, but maybe collectively, we can all help each other come to a better concept of body image.  And maybe this idea will spread all pay-it-forward style?  A paradigm shift starts with one person. 

And then, I will compile and post for V-day, a special ode to our bodies!

email pics and love letters to: happyhippierose @ gmail . com ; or just reply here on this post if you’d like.

Who’s coming with me?  Who’s in? 

On the photos: Yesterday I mentioned that I’m very picky about what photos I post.  I pose purposefully, I know what angles flatter the most.  I suck it in or put something in front of me, like a prop to hide a part that embarrasses me.

But right now, I don’t feel like hiding under a bulky sweatshirt.  I feel like loving who I am, really.  God has given me SO MUCH.   I live such an amazing life, chock full of abundant blessings, good times, wonderful people.

Even if you’re not in, thank you for reading and for all the love that’s poured in.   I’m so excited to help us all get a more positive self image.  I really am.

xoxo, hhr 

february, eff yeah!

February is hardly here, and it already is so super rad.

1. As of 1-February both Duggs and I saw promotions! 

His was long-in-the-making (he won’t go out a Terminal Lance afterall, woohoo!)… and I saw an hours increase in my part-time writing job.  So rad.  What awesome blessings, we are so happy and grateful and glad!

hooray duggs!!

this dreadfully creepy photo totally encapsulates my experience as a paid writer and marketer. ... (cool it, i'm kidding. this IS so creepy though, yeah? yeah.)

2. I’m thisclose to getting my student loans consolidated.

This is so hardcore awesome, really.  Student loans are both amazing and terrible, great when you’re riding high on ’em and awful when it’s time to repay the man.  Luckily, I think I may be able to get in at a nice interest rate and bundle ’em all together.  This is the month it can finally happen!

3. The January workout goal was MET and SURPASSED!  

I won’t disclose the embarrassingly meager requirements of said goal.  But hey, a goal is a goal, and meeting a goal is awesome.  Goal goal goal.  Did I say GOAL enough?

yeah, i did blur it out. and what? (isn't our workout log cute, btw?)

Goooooooooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaal.

We did it! Eff yeah!

I’ve even lost a couple lbs in the process, which makes me happy.

collar bone says to cheek bone, "don't call it a comeback."

4. Some things are coming together with our move.  

No, we don’t have any details… we have NO CLUE what day or date we’ll be moving on.  But, some of our more personal arrangements and what not are coming together nicely, including a good phone call I got today.  I’m feeling confident, more ready, more okay with it.

5. It just rocks. It’s just awesome! 

Life is just good.  I’m happy and blessed and cheerful, optimistic.  Ole Stinky Duggs is in good spirits too.  We’re happy folks, by nature.  November and December were some stressful times, lots of blah (like so serious blah ick no bueno).  And January, the new year, just breathed some nice fresh life into things.  New goals, new perspective – I have kinda pulled around the bend a bit with my health (which greatly affects our daily lives)… New job, new med routine, new workout – and things are just falling into place nicely.

6. Valentine’s Day Brings out the ROMANCE. 

Nothings says romantic like, “oh hey I got you one of those weird hologram bracelets.”  At least it does in our house.  The Duggs finally caved into my incorrigible insistence that those bracelets are magical and make you awesome.

i've got the power.

So here’s to being stretchier than ever.  Heh.   Interpret that as you will in light of the looming holiday de St. Valentine.

So, Happy February everyone!  

For all of my gals and pals enduring deployment, the turning of the cal page is ALWAYS a big ole deal – one more month down!

It’s Leap Year, which is fun and weird… and it means a spring and summer of campaigns (which has me fired fired fired up already).  And to readers and friends in general: Have Fabulous Fecking February!

As always, thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr

My Run Down

So a couple weeks ago, or just about, I sorta made a commitment to run more.  To really push myself and up the mileage.  To try harder.

And I’m here to PROUDLY report:  It’s been a great success! 

before a run.

I’ve been regularly doing 4 mile runs, with some speed work in there.  And I have finally understood and embraced the idea of a “recovery run.”  Really!  A two mile run helps me to loosen up and heal.

and after. that's the happy face of exhaustion. or well, some kind of face of exhaustion.

Something I learned about my body long ago is that I’m slow to warm up.  And I hate that.  I used to hate warming up at swim meets, I just wanted to race.  But when I’m honest, my body functions so much better hot.  I need to really warm up and get loose.  On most of my longer runs these days, I’ve really used that first mile or so to just shake it out and get into it.

I’ve been having so much fun running.

this is my view when running, what's not to love?

Everyday I look forward to going.  I think about running when I’m not doing it.  And slow as I may still be, I don’t care.  I just love it.

I would say I’m running about 20 miles a week.  Maybe 25? Yeah, closer to 25.

I’m no rockstar on two legs.  But I’m doing something I love, that’s good for my body, mind, and spirit.

So there ya go.  Accountability!  I am following through.  And quite happily.

Oh, I think my little pooch friend is quite happy about it too.

jayjers LOVES to run. he is such a happy pooch when we go! okay. he looks kinda miserable in this one, but it's an action shot, his tail isn't down like that. he really loves to run.

happy boy!

As far as races go, I’ve had my eye on a few.  Since we don’t know when we’re moving, it’s hard.  I don’t want to get too attached to a goal and then find out we’re leaving before the race.  Or pick one on the east coast, only to be sitting here on raceday all bummed out.

But i’m purposefully working on my mileage and stepping it up so that I’ll be able to physically run a half marathon in a couple-ish months.  I think that’s a good goal for now.

workin' on my night moves

And my body. I’ve noticed some great body changes.  My core is getting stronger (I’ve been working on abs separately too), I’m more flexible (because stretching after a run is the best), my posture is getting way better (I swear, I’m starting to “look” like a runner), AND … I’ve even dropped some lbs lately.  I’m super happy about all of this. I’m going to write a post next week updating my health, and how I think running is helping me to feel better in a lot of ways.

stronger than yesterday. pooch agrees.

moar flexy.

I’m also being super mindful of my bum leg.  (I trained for a marathon I was never able to run because I let myself develop a stress fracture).  The leg gets shin splints easily, and I have to take care of it.  Including rest days, and exercising it properly (my foot kind droops.  I was born pigeon-toed, and this leg didn’t heal as well as the other, so my right leg just naturally turns in, my toe points in all the time and I’m more comfortable standing, walking and running on the outer edge of my foot vs. the whole bottom of my foot.  So, I’m strengthening my leg/ankle/foot to try and get that sole placement to become more natural.  It’ll help my leg and my form in general.  So here’s to taking that seriously!

All in all, it’s going great!  

that's the look of someone having fun. sweaty fun.

I’ll keep updating along the way.  I promise.  Thanks to everyone cheering me along and to all the other running bloggers I’ve recently linked up with.  It’s exciting to have people rooting for me.  I’m rooting for y’all too!

As always – thank you for reading! Love, hhr

she’s going the distance…

She’s [not] going for speed.

Oh man, did I go running yesterday.  Yesterday evening, actually. I had an epic run! 

Did you read Friday’s blog, about how I was reading the awesome marathoner-in-training blog (SmilesAcrossTheFinish) and in doing so I got all pumped up to train harder?  (Woah, I just went all blog-within a blog-within a blog, there. Woah.)

we headed out right as the sun was setting, a perfect time to go

So yeah, for those who aren’t caught up on my crappy ramblings: I’m feeling all driven to try and run harder.

Before we go any further, YES, I love Cake.  And if you think I mean the baked batter with buttercream, while you are correct (I love that cake), I really meant Cake.  The title of this post is from a Cake song.  They’re totally in my list of top 25 all time bands.  I should totally make that list sometime.

Anyways, about running: given my current health dilemma and meds, I’m not sure how consistently dedicated I will end up being, but I’ll be damned if I’m not gonna give it the ole college try and then some.  I’m totally down to play through the pain.  And while I honestly do keep my health in consideration, I don’t want to use it as an excuse or to sell myself short.  It’s a rather delicate balance.

I have a goal for workouts per month, and I really want to push myself, even on those days I feel crappy or am having pain.  Sometimes, running or working out, even helps the pain.

I mean, if ever there was a girl rip roarin’ and ready to push the limits, ignore doctor’s orders and warning, disregard the notion of resting/taking it easy, and push through pain because she has the world’s highest pain tolerance – it’s ME!

I was honestly motivated and I had an AMAZING Friday-evening run.

me, making a REALLY weird face before i go running

weirdo

jj lookin' so so fresh

We ran for 63 minutes without stopping.  That may seem really small and insignificant to you, but for me – that was one whopper of a run!  I didn’t walk AT ALL.  And neither did lil’ pooch.

I won’t tell you how far I actually made it during that time.  That would be too embarassing. But, I did discover some nuances about my threshold and I feel like I have a baseline to start from.  I feel so pumped, that I actually want to go running now.

For everyone motivating me, THANK YOU!  I feel so good, and I hope the momentum keeps pushing me forward.

post-run stretch, feeling like a champ!

goals, not resolutions

They’re Goals, Not Resolutions 

I feel like by coming out and calling them “resolutions” it makes it impossible to follow through with them.  Resolutions are abandoned by now (the second week of January).  Resolutions are inflexible, unattainable, huge, and never-ending.

let's get physical

So I set goals

The Duggs and I like to set goals are year long.  Goals aren’t just for January 1st, goals work all year long; it’s how we progress and better ourselves, and keep things interesting.  (I have a competitive streak in me and I love the process of setting, working towards and reaching a goal).   So even though this isn’t something unique to the New Year, I wanted to get in the renewative spirit of 2012 (yeah, I invented that word, renwative) and set some goals:

2012 Goals

  • Fitness – and I’m for real.  I know everyone says it, losing weight and getting in shape is the biggest goal that everyone is all about.  But I really mean it.  I go in these spurts of good weeks and bad weeks, and in my good weeks I can really push it.  But then I’ll have a bad week where I don’t even work out at all.  A lot of it is health-based, when I’m not feeling well is when I’m not so active;  but the goal for 2012 is to really push through and make every week a good week.
         So yeah, we have a chart for accountability and I’m trying to reach a set number of workouts per month, and we’ll take it from there.  If I could fit into my jeans, I’d also be cool with that.  Sheesh.

i gotta get my run on

  • Eat Better:  We’ve been doing so good with this one.  I haven’t had dairy yet in 2012! Well, I’ll still have butter, but no more cheese, no more milk, no more ice cream.  I’m going to post about my newest cold treat phase, using the Yonanas machine.  Between subbing in fruit for ice cream, we’ve also cut out a lot of junk and put back in a ton of greenery and basic, simple foods.  I really believe in eating organic, supporting humane farming, and so-on … so it’s uber hypocritical when I go and eat a gallon of ice cream every night. Woof.

yonanas is the bomb dot com

  • Write, Paint, Dye: I want to work on my writing in a more serious way; I’m afraid to say it aloud (because it puts a lot of pressure on the situation), but I’m writing a book.  The great American novel is indeed a quest, and I’m on it.  I also want to dye for fun, and get clever with it.  I want to paint more.  I just want to push into some form of artistic expression because I know the more I do it, the better I feel.  And I have to feel better in 2012 than I did in 2011, I can’t do another year like ’11.  No way.

here's a weird and awkward photo of me painting

  • Do Good.  More service work, more volunteering.  Random acts of kindness.  Just smiling in public, being nice to strangers.  I want to do more good, and I mean this on a very simple and basic world.  The whole pay-it-forward thing could really change the world if everyone was honestly I smidge nicer. So I’ll do my part this year.

since i'm flashing a peace sign it totes implies that i'm gonna be way nice a do-goody

  • Take advantage of my surroundings.  I’m not sure how much time we have left in Hawaii, but I want to make the best of it!  Then the same goes for once we move.  I’d like to play outside and have fun.

playing outside

  • Go greener.  I’m pretty “green.”  I try, anyways.  But there is WAY MORE that I could do.  And if and when I discover easy ways to make a difference, or can live as a testimony that it’s easy to do (like living without papertowels for more than a year), I need to tell others about it!

if we ruin the earth, we'll all have to suit up to go outside. boo.

  • My blog!  The world of blogging is super intimidating and hardcore.  But I want to keep this going and just keep having fun.

i'm just gonna type my heart out and see what comes of it

  • My professional life:  I have a job!  And I’m super blessed to have this job, and I’m excited to try my best and work very hard and to just do a great job.  So as long as I’m setting goals, I should go ahead and include in the list that I have some professional aspirations going on over here.

2012 has much to offer, and I’m excited to step up and go for the goals that are ahead of me.   And obvs, I totes update as I go on my very lovely blog!

As always, thanks for reading!  xoxo, hhr

 

 

are you okay?

I went on a run (okay, a jog with some walking) with the pooch this afternoon.

When I started, I was going down the mountain my house is on, and I saw this car parked in the grass, off the side of the road.  It was a very weird place for a car, and it kinda stuck out as odd to me.

But I just ran on by.

the view on my run (right in our neck of the woods)

I use a stopwatch when I run. So on my way back up to my house, I knew for a fact it had been 38 minutes.  And that same car was still there.  The driver, a lady, was on the phone.  She was doing that thing you do when you’re having an intense convo and you press your hand/finger over the ear the phone isn’t up to, to better enhance the hearing in the phone-ear.

She was frowning.

It all felt odd.

I ran past her.

I kept going – but, mentally, l took pause: what if something was actually wrong? What if she needed some kind of help?

So turned around and ran down over to her window. And I asked her: “are you okay?

She immediately smiled.  Her frown immediately turned into a smile.  “I’m fine, I’m just on a break from work.  Thank you for asking though, how thoughtful!”

from the top of the hill/mountain - looking down. taken a week or so ago.

Seriously, don’t all go nominating me for the Nobel Peace Prize or anything. But I did have one of those sappy, altruistic moments where I genuinely asked myself what kind  of world would we live in if every time we saw someone frowning, or saw someone who seemed out of place, lost, or in a weird situation and we just took two seconds to ask:

Are you okay? 

I know, I know… some folks don’t want to be bothered.  And it could get annoying.

But for those times something IS wrong, or for those times you really were in distress: how amazing would it be to have someone just ask if everything was alright?

….