Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful for slowness. I'm thankful for days, nay, afternoons, nay, minutes where no one is pressuring you to do more faster, where you can go at your own pace, where you can listen to your body, listen to the breeze, listen to what usually gets drowned out by commercials or others' expectations or superficial distractions. Heck, maybe some of us don't even know what we're missing because we've never prioritized a slow listen into our schedules.

In slowness we can savor. Slowness allows us to count the spots on ladybug wings, to notice a new crinkle around the smiling eyes of someone we love and to complete a task with integrity. Like the whole "slow food" movement that started in Italy where food is locally planted and grown to make whole meals, which are made without typical "fast food" processes. The meals themselves are prepared from scratch and eaten in courses, almost as if each course were a rare gift. The dinner table becomes a destination of quality togetherness and quality nourishment. Slow, in this case, means done with care.

I'm thankful for hand-made gifts (they are more original), artisan creations (they are more beautiful) and home-made cakes (they are more delicious), all of which come much slower than their pre-packaged counterparts.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Went to a planning event last night for the American Cancer Society, and several folks were very interested in what we're all doing here with the Kyrie Foundation. We've said it before, but it's worth saying again: we know that there are many organizations that you can choose to support, all of which promote a valuable cause. Not a day goes by, though, that the Kyrie Foundation doesn't sincerely stop to appreciate those of you who have come on board to support us. We don't take that for granted in the least.

We're also working on ways for parents and families affected by pediatric brain cancer to come into what we're doing without recreating the same kinds of organizations. We want it to be in a manner that honors their specific loved one yet unites our shared passion for finding a cure for our children. Stay tuned ...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Doing Good as a Habit.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

So here we are: the last week of January already, the month that holds so much promise with our resolutions for self-improvement, the hope to change less-than-perfect habits. Often, those resolutions are made with the hope that self-improvement will make us happier, which in many cases may be very true. Exercise=good health=happiness. Better nutrition=good health=happiness. Behavior awareness=better insight=happiness. Quality time=stronger relationships=happiness. Saving money=stewardship=happiness.

And what if those good intentions don't stick? Well, that's the beauty of Lent, which conveniently schedules itself as the Great Second Chance for those wayward resolutions. In fact, perhaps during the next week or so as we prepare for the 40 days that lead up to Easter, perhaps we should think less about keeping a resolution and more about being a solution. What can we do? How can we help others? How can we help ourselves?

And if happiness is the salve-like residue left from our habits of good, you might find this interesting: a couple of secrets to happiness written by Leo Babauta.

1. Good relationships. We have a human need to be close, to be intimate, with other human beings. Having good, supportive friendships, a strong marriage or close and loving relationships with our family members will make us much more likely to be happy. Action steps: Take time, today, to spend time with your loved ones, to tell them what they mean to you, to listen to them, and develop your relationship with them.

2. Positive thinking. I’m obviously a big proponent of positive thinking as the best way to achieve your goals, but it turns out that it can lead to happiness too. Optimism and self-esteem are some of the best indicators of people who lead happy lives. Happy people feel empowered, in control of their lives, and have a positive outlook on life. Action steps: Make positive thinking a habit. In fact, this should be one of the first habits you develop. Get into the habit of squashing all negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones. Instead of “I can’t” think “I can”. It may sound corny, but it has worked for me, every time.

3. Flow. This is a popular concept on the Internet these days — the state we enter when we are completely focused on the work or task before us. We are so immersed in our task that we lose track of time. Having work and leisure that gets you in this state of flow will almost undoubtedly lead to happiness. People find greatest enjoyment not when they’re passively mindless, but when they’re absorbed in a mindful challenge. Action steps: Find work that you’re passionate about. Seriously — this is an extremely important step. Find hobbies that you’re passionate about. Turn off the TV — this is the opposite of flow — and get outside and do something that truly engages you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Meet Mark.

There's still time to plan your adventure northward for the Mark Schultz concert benefitting Kyrie's Gift in Michigan on March 7, 2008!

For more info on Mark, to listen to his music or to watch his videos, you can visit his site,

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful for you. You the reader here, the prayer giver, the advocate, the voice in the world; You who continue to give & give & give; You who personify the Golden Rule. You who does what is right not because it feels right but because it is right. You who keeps going long after you needed rest. You, the comforter, the organizer, the idea generator, the one with gumption, the one who brings cheer, the one with vision, the forgiver, the fighter, the friend.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A prayer to spare.

Many people seem to think it foolish, even superstitious, to believe that the world could still change for the better. And it is true that in winter it is sometimes so bitingly cold that one is tempted to say, 'What do I care if there is a summer; its warmth is no help to me now.' Yes, evil often seems to surpass good. But then, in spite of us, and without our permission, there comes at last an end to the bitter frosts. One morning the wind turns, and there is a thaw. And so I must still have hope.

Vincent Van Gogh

If you have a prayer to spare, there are a few folks in need.
• A sweet boy and a fellow fighter in the battle against PNETs, Ethan Grimm, and his family of Council Bluffs, IA, really need our spiritual support as it seems his cancer has grown.
• Kyrie's new baby cousin, Dalton, has been diagnosed with bronchial ocular facial syndrome, which means there are multiple surgeries in the near future to repair bronchial holes, a membrane covering his eye and his cleft palate & lip.
• The Halley family of Maryville, Missouri, as Brian, his wife, Jenni, and their children endure his showdown with melanoma.

... and so I must still have hope.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A few notes ...

We would be remiss if we did not thank several kind souls who have donated time & resources to the Kyrie Foundation in the last couple of weeks: Jeff & Margorie Sondermann, the Degner family, Kelly Jackson, Phil & Elizabeth Larsen, the Knights of Columbus, Frosty & Elf Rita and a few of those incredible anonymous donors. To these and to all of you who have validated our cause and propelled the Kyrie Foundation into existence in 2007, we send you our most sincere and humble gratitude. And ... watch out for a very productive 2008!

Also, we are sending out 2007 donation statements for your tax purposes before the end of this month. And in order to minimize administrative costs and to be as "green" as possible, for those of whom we have e-mail addresses, we'll be sending statements out via e-mail in a PDF attachment. It will arrive from our address. All others will be sent out snail mail.

Several of you have asked what you can do to help in addition to what's already been done. All we can ask right now is for you to talk. Tell people about what you're doing. If you have a Web site or blog, link to us. A friend of mine sent out a mass e-mail to all her contacts explaining the foundation, iGive & GoodSearch; it was fantastic! We have some exciting ideas planned for 2008, and we'll need lots of people just like you who are willing to kick this cancer to the moon.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful for the body. It encapsulates our essence and mechanizes our thoughts and feelings in ways that are not only socially meaningful but also personally fulfilling. The skin alone, about 20 square feet, holds us all together. Our skeleton, all 206 bones, gives us shape. Our hearts, which functions without any conscious action on our parts, beats 2.5 billion thumps in the average lifetime. All of our organs and systems give us life while we're sleeping, while watching the caucus results, while at work and while driving and laughing and crying and living. So much that it can do. So much that it cannot. How it can heal itself. How it cannot.

This body is also our tool for experiencing this world. Seeing the ocean, smelling fresh clothes from the dryer, feeling a hug, hearing the birds, tasting a homegrown tomato. What a marvelous invention! And so many times we abuse it by what we think about it, what we put in it, or we take if for granted by not activating our muscles or our brains or our hearts. Sometimes we blame our bodies instead of our decisions. Today I'm thankful for this bag of bones—moles, frizzy hair, cellulite and all. More than that, though, I appreciate more that my body is my vehicle for that which doesn't really even need a body. Interesting, huh?

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The art of helping.

We talk here a lot about giving and how generosity has this boomerang happiness effect. Here are more thoughts on that subject by Stephen Smith:

The call to serve
Those of you that are parents of small children know about the effort and sacrifice that is required to raise them happy and healthy. And I would submit that you feel that your children are your greatest source of happiness. This same feeling of pride and love comes to many of those who are called to the ministry, teaching, medicine, or even the hospitality industry. Serving others is sometimes a thankless job, yet it remains a reward in itself. Here are some ideas to consider for increasing your personal level of service, while bringing happiness to yourself and others:

1. Show respect and courtesy. It seems like such a small thing, and in our busy lives we often forget that a kind word, a helping hand, or just a smile and “Thank you” can create a bright spot in another person’s life. And then two people are happy.

2. Listen more than you speak. One of the things that my wife has taught me is that sometimes she just wants to vent about her day. Being a man, I will often have advice on how to handle the situation (and men are seemingly hard-wired for problem solving). One of the things that makes her so special is that she tells me when she wants advice and when she just wants me to listen. My listening makes her happy.

3. Give genuine praise. Recognizing the contributions of others is a mighty act of service. This is an investment in others that doesn’t cost you a thing, and the returns can be amazing. Remember, “Praise in public, punish in private“. Even in a disagreement there is an opportunity for service, and you can restore happiness to the relationship, if you speak the truth in love to help another to learn and grow.

4. Keep your promises. You can create an atmosphere of service simply by doing the things that you say you will do. Dependability and punctuality are the hallmarks of the service-oriented individual. When people can trust you it creates happiness all around.

5. Practice forgiveness. Pointless hard feelings are the source of so much unhappiness in the world. Holding a grudge against another is a blemish on your soul. When you can let go of this, you can begin to heal the pain. Making a point of forgiving someone is a great service, for there are times that the person may not even know that they have hurt you. You can even forgive those who do not want to be forgiven, trust me - it will make you happy.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Still reeling.

Completely agree with the sentiments felt by our commentators this week. Why? And again, I feel guilty for questioning His plan and His goodness, but that's what happens when the plan doesn't make any sense. So thoroughly unfair.

This week's questioning recalled a comment left by motherof2 earlier this year about how in Kyrie's case, in Taya's case, there is no "at least." No "at least she experienced this or that." No "at least she didn't suffer." No "at least they got time to really fight." {big sigh}

These children are too little, the cancer too vicious, the research too sparse, the time too short. And I wonder how many more families will have their hearts ripped out like this? Oh, God—how many more????

Which affirms the extreme importance of what we're all doing here. You & me and our families and our friends and their friends and their families are going to fight this much like David & Goliath. We know that there are a lot of charities out there competing for your help. We know that we're not celebrities or high-ranking politicians or influential types that can woo your help. It's just us: moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, dear friends, long-distance friends, bus drivers, secretaries, assistants, middle managers, photographers, machinists, hair stylists, farmers, teachers, gardeners, grocery shoppers, 4th graders, casserole makers, casserole eaters, the faith-filled, the faith half-filled, the do gooders and the hopeful. And many of us are from the middle states and/or the middle class, which are often overlooked and under-appreciated despite our collective ability to feed the country and construct the future. Yet, greatness often comes from where you least expect it, doesn't it?

It took some time for me to really get what Natalie Grant sings about in her song "Held," but Clarkers totally nailed it in her comment left Wednesday. This is not the end.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Another angel.

For many of you following our posts each day, you may remember this one about another little 17-month-old girl, Taya, and her family in Canada who were fighting the same kind of cancer that Kyrie had. They, too, endured the crainiotomy that removed part of the tumor. They, too, found very little information or progressive treatments for this type of cancer. They, too, were beleaguered to learn that the tumor returned to its original size despite both conventional chemo and an experimental chemo drug combination.

The angels came for sweet Taya on Christmas morning.

Please hold Taya and her family close in your prayers. We are stunned and pained for yet another senseless heartbreak.

For those interested in sending cards, we'll post information should the family want to make that info public.