Saturday, October 1, 2011

October: Time to Think Pink

I love giving gifts. There's something about thinking of someone else making them smile that brings me indescribable joy. I range all across the board from finding happiness in generous offerings to simple, inexpensive tokens of love. In the future I'll share some ways to simplify and organize your gift giving experiences, but today I am going to dig into something that's a bit nearer to my heart.

October is breast cancer awareness month. I lost my mother-in-law to breast cancer 9 months ago. It was devastating. It still feels fresh and her absence is very real in our lives. Recently my dear friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was painful to hear. She's young, has 3 beautiful children and is the picture of perfect health. Minus that awful tumor that was growing in her chest.

It changed me when I heard this. Her news prodded me to focus my lens on life.  All of the sudden things I had been distracted by disappeared into the background and the pieces in my life that were most important to me floated to the foreground. Meanwhile, I racked my brain for something we could DO for her. At the moment there wasn't something I could DO just yet, (no meals or playdates or help cleaning the house...just yet) so the day of her surgery, I dressed my girls and myself in pink and prayed for her all day long. That afternoon I dropped off a little pink bag with a few pink treasures inside and a mason jar full of pink flowers.  While I'm not usually an advocate for giving "stuff" -- I do remember how much those little tokens of thoughtfulness meant to my mother-in-law.

I have a great friend who once told me "if you're going to give a gift, gift a consumable". I can still hear her say that as she handed me a delicious jar of homemade jam.  That was my goal with this gifting experience: To gift things that could be used. Not little trinkety knick-knacks that would collect dust.

I have to admit, after dropping this on her porch, I felt a little better. Not a lot, but a bit.  Should you find yourself in a similar position, I thought I'd share with you my ideas for a "Pink Bag."

-- Pink thank you notes -- "when you are discouraged thinking all is lost, count your blessings!"
-- Pink lip balm -- "what we say becomes what we believe. Talk yourself up. You are a survivor!"
-- Pink journal --"perhaps this is where you can record your journey. It's always good to vent, but even better to be able to see how far you've come."
-- Pink nail polish -- "Don't walk faster than you have the strength for..."
-- Pink hand lotion -- "Serving hands and a willing heart will be therapeutic for you. Let others serve you for the same reason."
-- Pink bottle of bubble bath -- "Truly allow your mind, body, and spirit the opportunity to RELAX."

One of my favorite clothing stores, DownEast, is selling pink shirts if you want to wear your support. My friend and former dorm-mate Chelsea is on their poster. This is her story (tissues necessary).

“She was not there at my high school graduation, when I married the man of my dreams, or after I bore my son. Unfortunately my mother was taken from me when I was a couple weeks shy of turning 13. She died at the young age of 53 after an extensive battle with breast cancer. Although it was 13 short years with my mother, I will always have her in my heart and remember the years that I was fortunate enough to call her mom. Although I do not have her here with me physically her legacy will live on. Her strength through a 5 year battle with cancer, her love for children as an elementary school teacher for 20 years, her patience with raising 6 children of her own. Sixteen years since her passing I still think of my mother every day. She is and always will be a part of me and has taught me to be stronger, show more love and to be extra patient. Thanks mom for the lessons you taught me. I look forward to many more years and lessons from you in heaven.”

{Photo and story snatched from Chelsea's blog. Thanks, Chels!}

To those of you who have lost loved ones to cancer, my heart goes out to you. To those of you battling with it, my prayers are with you.

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