Monday, July 21, 2014

Free hugs!

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I saw someone at a parade last month with a sign that read "free hugs."  People smiled when they saw it.  When people post in social media that they are having a bad day, it isn't long before the virtual hugs begin showing up.  Hugs make you feel good and even just the idea of a hug is rather pleasant. 
 
Do you realize that hugs cost nothing?  They are not taxable.  They don't require batteries.  They are returnable.  They make you feel good.  They are extremely personal. They reduce stress and generate goodwill.  Hugs are non-polluting.  A really is an excellent gift!  Actually they are fun to give and to receive!

Oh and as nice as it may be to receive or give a hug, research shows that there are actually medical benefits.  Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels and serotonin levels, healing any feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger while elevating our mood and creating happiness. 
 
What's to not like about a hug?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Another walk in the park

Just another walk in the park? Hardly. This is certainly a fun event even on a damp cool morning like today and many of the participants will add their own special touches (some teams barbecue after the walk), the big thing is the awareness and the money that is raised.
 
Since 1987, AIDS Walk San Francisco has raised more than $82 million for lifesaving HIV prevention, testing, and care programs and services, and has grown into the largest AIDS fundraising event in Northern California. I don't know how many times I have written about it here, but every single year I personally come out to the park to walk.  This year I am particularly pleased to have again made it to the Gold Star Walker category raising $2,702.  (The number could even go higher because donations are still welcome.  Click HERE to give).
 
Like I said, the weather isn't exactly super today, but that won't hold back the thousands of participants in Golden Gate Park.  It's amazing to see the folks who come out to volunteer and all the many walkers.  It's not just local people who participate either.  I've already met a number of people who came from southern California to walk and at least a third of my sponsors live outside of California.  This is an event that is all about making a difference and over the years it has done so much.  Again, even though the walk is just about to begin, you can still participate.  Sponsor me or make a general donation to my team or to the event or plan something that will benefit AIDS Walk.  There are also AIDS Walk events in several other cities that you can get involved with too!  Go to http://www.aidswalk.net/ to find out more.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Light the Night

Several years ago when my mother was first diagnosed with leukemia, I started paying more attention to the disease.  Singer Mary Travers has been battling leukemia for the past ten years.  Bill Walsh, the talented head coach of the San Francisco 49'ers lost his life to leukemia.  There have been many famous faces on the disease, but it was Mom that made me pay attention. A couple of years ago I even signed up for the Light the Night Walk.
 
The Mayo Clinic website has some very good information about leukemia HERE and you can also check out the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society webpage HERE.
 
Now you may think that all I ever talk about is disease and fundraisers to fight disease, but that is only part of how we can make a difference in the world.  It isn't just the money raising too - raising awareness is very important and that's why I really like events like this.  Light the Night shines a light on the importance of finding cures and providing access to treatments for blood cancer patients and it brings together families and friends and entire communities to honor blood cancer survivors, and to remember those lost to the diseases.
 
There are events all over the US and Canada and you can find one near you on the website at http://www.lightthenight.org/ where you can also register to participate, donate money, or even volunteer.  I'll be out at AT&T Park here in San Francisco for our local event in September, and I would be honored to have your support.  Click HERE to donate on my behalf.  Thanks so much, and if you have a moment, learn a little bit about leukemia and share that knowledge with friends.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Long Walk to Freedom

It was on this date in 1918 that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born. We knew him as a lawyer, politician, activist, great leader, philanthropist, and a person who did indeed change the world. His autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, was published in 1984 and I can remember reading it around that time and thinking about how incredibly strong this man was to have done so much and to have endured so much. Mandela presided over the transition from apartheid minority rule to a multicultural democracy in South Africa and he showed the world how people from all backgrounds can work together.

If ever there was a poster person for what this blog is all about, it would be Nelson Mandela.  He was not only a great leader who made a huge difference in this world, but he did it with dignity and grace and a sense of humor. 

In 2009 the United Nations General Assembly created by unanimous approval, Nelson Mandela Day to honor the former South African President and to inspire other people to carry on his efforts to "take responsibility for making the world a better place, one small step at a time." This is the first year the day has been celebrated since his death last December. I urge you to visit http://www.mandeladay.com/ and find out more about this man and about how we all can observe Nelson Mandela Day.
 
It was Mandela that said "There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires." Many of us experience our own long walk to freedom.  Seeing Mandela's life and remembering his words can inspire us and push us forward.  In his words: "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

what a beauty

What a great beauty this land of ours is.  What a great beauty is our life.  What a great beauty we are surrounded by each and every day of our lives.  Look at the trees and the flowers.  Breathe in the fresh air.  Listen to the birds and the crickets and the little children giggling. 
 
Doesn't look beautiful to you?  Look again.  If you live in the big city you may have forgotten that beauty comes in many forms.  If you are in a great hurry ever day you just might miss some of the beauty in our world.  Slow down.  Take the time.  If you become jaded or choose to not open your eyes and your ears, you just might miss out.  There really is so much to see.
 
What a beauty we have all around us though!  Don't take my word for it though.  Open your eyes and take a look!



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It's a small world

After writing about Casey Kasem's death last month, I went out for breakfast. Two men in the restaurant were discussing the late radio disc jockey and they just happened to be looking at my blog. (A search engine had apparently directed them there). When they involved me in the conversation, I was smiling as I realized it was my words they were looking at. You just never know!

Back in April I wrote here about Jessica Goldman a woman who was just about to leave San Francisco to run across the country bringing attention to brain trauma and raising funds for the Brain Injury Association of America. A few weeks later I heard about a guy named Kevin Taejin Kreider who was skateboarding across the country. I ended up not only writing about him several times, but also being in direct contact him via text and email. Guess what? The two heard about each other and ended up meeting when they both arrived in New York City yesterday. Small world, huh?

I had nothing to do with the two getting together either. It was a coincidence that I only found out about after their meeting on the George Washington Bridge.

Years ago when I first started writing this blog, I heard a US military officer on national television tell the host that he was gay. I was so impressed with that man and many other things he said and did afterward, that I have written about him often here. Dan Choi and I had never heard of each other that night, but in the years since we have become friends. It's a small world after all!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

When can we see equality?

Do you think that all persons are created equal?  Do you think that everybody should have equal treatment?  Do you think there already is equality in the workplace and everywhere else?  Let me give you a little eye-opener.
 
Race, sex, gender, religion, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and a number of other things keep separating us in society with one group claiming superiority over another based on any or a combination of these characteristics.  The lgbt community is often on the low end, but let me tell you that prejudice against folks because of race is this a huge thing, and perhaps the biggest target of all is women.  The sad thing about all of this (or one of the many sad things) is that in many cases, folks are discriminating against a group of which they are a member.  Yes friends, and this is particularly true with women. 
 
Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers recently urged her male colleagues to bring policy "down to a woman’s level."  What?  She later complained about being misunderstood when she was quoted, but did not retract her comment. 
 
Yesterday I told you here that the Church of England had finally given the green light to women bishops.  True.  It was good news, but that was only part of the story.  Members of the Church of England can still choose not to recognize the episcopacy of women and request a male bishop!  Oh and the whole hang up in the vote for years has been from lay members (not ordained) of the church which includes both men and women. 
 
The recent Supreme Court decision regarding birth control and employers was also a direct hit against women.  The majority of the justices voting were the male members.  The three female justices voted with the minority, supporting a woman's right to birth control.
 
I bring all of this up, and there are numerous other examples I could cite, because we have a long way to go, but we do need to go there.  No one of us should be happy with inequality because any time one group is discriminated against, we all are diminished - we all are treated unequally.  Let's start standing up for what is right.  ALL of us!