Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Choosing baldness. Choosing hope.

* Read the follow-up to this post here.

I’ll be bald in eleven days.

There was a time I swore I’d never have hair shorter than chin length again. At 18, I’d made the unfortunate mistake of dozing off at the hands of a new stylist, who thought I’d look just fabulous with one-inch hair.

How wrong you were, stylist. How wrong you were.

Despite my old vow, I choose baldness now.

I do this to stand in solidarity with children who do not choose baldness, or cancer, but face these things determinedly nevertheless.  On March 24, 2012, I’ll join my friends Chris and Karin in having my head shaved for St. Baldrick’s children’s cancer charity.

I love my hair. Don’t get me wrong. I’m going to miss it while it’s gone. But there’s a heckuva lot I love even more in this world.

As I learned at 18, hair grows back. People do not, so I feel honored to do this one small thing I can to help some young people battling cancer stay here in this world, and illuminate it longer with their own unique and beautiful gifts.

If you’re able to donate, please do so here or via team Blissfully Bald. If you’re donating or wish you could donate in someone’s honor or memory, please tell me a little bit about them in comment here so I may share your words in a future blog entry. I believe it is a blessing to the living to remember our departed beloved.

If you are inspired to share this blog, please know now that I am deeply grateful.

Am I a little nervous about my impending months without much hair? Sure. But right now, my hair will do much better off my head than on it. I live in Los Angeles, for Pete’s sake! I don’t need hair to keep my head warm here. Not even in March.

And if I do end up needing a little help heating my head? It just so happens I’ve got a hot pink wig lined up for the occasion.

I’ll be happy without the wig, though. ‘Cause you know what? Beautiful is beautiful, with or without hair. Seeing my mom without her hair taught me that.

Beautiful with or without hair

Gorgeous, spirited Donna Quirke Hornik, subject of the series that inspired me to make this choice, helped me see it more clearly still.

I’m gonna be bald. And, man, am I gonna be bald in great company. Present in person, and ever-present in our hearts.

© 2012 Deborah Bryan. All rights reserved.
Duplication in whole or substantial portion is explicitly forbidden.

A mother’s wish for Valentine’s Day

Three minutes.

It took me three minutes to go from shaking my fist at Valentine’s Day to believing there might be some merit in it.

As a kid, I loved Valentine’s Day. How could I resist adult-sanctioned sugar highs? How could anyone?

Non-celebration of Valentine's Day 2008

As an adult, I’ve scoffed (generally quietly) at the idea of designating a day for showing love. I’ve shaken my head at the idea love could ever truly be expressed in a purchased gift or greeting card.

When Chris asked if I’d be interested in writing a Valentine’s Day post for a good cause, I was too busy balking at the words “Valentine’s Day” to hear the “good cause” part of his question. But as the seconds ticked by, my thoughts raced faster and faster toward a surprising conclusion.

Last year, I argued against Mother’s Day detractors on Facebook by stating that none of the gifts I wanted could be bought at a store. I wasn’t celebrating it as a way to get mad loot. I wanted only a morning off and the gift I described here. Besides, I typed furiously, the day wasn’t meant to make up for a year of love not shared or shown. I felt it should be taken as a reminder: Hey! Look! I know you’re busy making ends meet, but slow down and take time out today to love on the moms who light up your life!

Let 8th grade "Debbie" tell you about those origins!

Within 180 time-stamped seconds, I realized that my words about celebrating Mother’s Day last year were no less relevant to Valentine’s Day. Regardless of its less than savory origins or its original link to one’s romantic love, I wondered, was there really any reason I couldn’t personally celebrate it as a day of remembering to stop and say “I love you” to all those who brighten my life? That I couldn’t designate it a personal “reminder day” to step outside of time and say, “I may get caught up in my commute, job, blogging, editing, writing, and parenthood, but my love for you is timeless”?

Love needn’t be expressed with boxes of chocolate or greeting cards. It can be expressed in a smile, a hug, a loving word, a song. A day itself can’t tell us what or how to celebrate. It doesn’t demand we show our love on it and it alone.

That’s a human choice. We choose how we show our loved ones that our lives are better for them, on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year.

Today I change my stance on Valentine’s Day. I do so thanks to the innocent question of a friend who asked if I’d consider posting about a little girl named Donna, about whom I previously wrote here.

Donna the Fairy Flower (photo used with permission)

Donna celebrated her last Valentine’s Day in 2009. In October 2009, she died of cancer.

But here’s the thing: for her four years, she lived. She lived with joy, bravery and panache that continues to inspire thousands of people who never met her face to face.

I admire not only Donna, but also her mom, Mary Tyler Mom, who lived through 31 months of her daughter’s cancer treatment . . . and then relived it through Donna’s Cancer Story so others could see for themselves the brilliance of her daughter’s spirit.

Does my admiration stop there? Not by a long shot. I admire and applaud all those who watch their amazing little lights shine on in the face of cancer, and those who work tirelessly to see those lights endure for many decades yet.

I wonder what it would be like to kiss my son goodnight every night, not knowing if I will ever get the chance to kiss him again. Wondering alone makes me wish a million times over I could take away illness and grant life.

That’s outside of my power. What’s within my power is helping Donna’s light shine by telling you about her courage and exuberance. By telling you about the countless lights holding strong in hope for a cure, and about what you can do to help some of their parents know the joy of many more years of bedtime kisses and dance recitals.

From St. Baldrick’s, here are some of those ways:

How can you help conquer kids’ cancer?

1. Donate now to fund lifesaving research

2. Sign up as a shavee or volunteer at an event near you. (Once you find an event, click on the blue box that says “participate at this event.” If you want to join the Donna’s Good Things team, click here.)

3. Can’t find an event near you? Organize your own event. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation will coach you every step of the way. In particular, they are looking for new events in Maine, Mississippi, Alabama and Utah.

4. Have questions about getting involved? Visit or contact

One rockin' dancer (photo used with permission)

TMiYC readers:
I will match up to $250 of total donations made by you to the Donna’s Good Things team. If you donate, please forward me a copy of your receipt (sans personal info!) so that I know how much to match. If you’re donating in someone’s honor or memory, please let me know in a few sentences whose honor/memory so that I may help their light shine in a follow-up post.

Donna lives on in her family members’ hearts, my heart, and in thousands of other hearts that see the beauty of baldness in a way they might not have without Donna. For her parents and those who knew and loved her day to day while she still danced through this world, the dazzling breadth of her impact cannot possibly replace the loss of her light here.

Yet she is remembered with love, and her memory is a blessing to many children who might live longer because of her. And you.

Let’s make that count, on Valentine’s Day and every day. Together.

P.S. Karin of Pinwheels and Poppies, Chris of From the Bungalow, Katy of I Want a Dumpster Baby and Lisha of The Lucky Mom are also blogging for Donna today, along with several others! Be sure to visit Donna’s Good Things on Facebook to find all of the posts. Happy Donna Day!

© 2012 Deborah Bryan. All rights reserved.
Duplication in whole or substantial portion is explicitly forbidden.

What kids and shopping have in common

It could be argued there are many things kids and shopping have in common, but the one that’s pertinent to this post is:

I used to dislike both these things. A lot.

In my very first guest blog entry ever, the posting of which I’m celebrating formally with crumpets and tea*, I describe what changed and why. If you’ve read TMiYC for a few months, you probably suspect it relates to the picture I posted in the entry “The myth of perfect people.”

You might be wrong. But you might not be! You’ll have to mosey over to Cookie’s Chronicles, blog home to the lovely Sue (a.k.a. “Cookie’s Mom”), to find out.

Without further ado, I present to you:
Mother, Child, Mother 

* Yeah, I thought you’d see right through that. In the real world, I had to turn all my focus toward not running around shouting, “OMGyouguysmyfirstguestblogentryisliveyayyayyayyaywowwhee!”

Maybe they are just going home

Try as I might to remember, I forget most my night dreams.

By contrast, one night dream I wished to forget clung to me for many years before I finally accepted its memory will be a constant companion throughout my life.

I am sitting in a doctor’s office with my sister Rache. She holds my hand as her elderly doctor informs her she’s not only sick with cancer, but that it is so invasive and malignant within her body that she has at most three days to live. Rache seems resigned; she simply pats my hand while I weep.

I’m suddenly by myself outside a large church. I gaze up at it and think, “How could you, G-d? How could you?” I walk inside the empty church and see that, though no lights are on, it’s full of sunlight filtered through stained glass windows. The church’s paneling is dark, so the light mostly emphasizes the nostalgic darkness of its interior.

Without being aware of having moved, I’m in the center pulpit of the church. I fall to my knees, look skyward and try to see the beauty of the panes above me. Instead, I see only beauty which my sister will soon never be able to see again. 

I scream. I scream, and scream, and scream, until my voice is lost and I can scream no more, and the ground around me is drenched with my tears.

I heard that same scream this afternoon.

I was enjoying the outdoor seating of my favorite cafe, basking in the goodness of having written 840 words in my WIP after a writingless week, when heartwrenching cries filled the air. My own heart plummeted to my feet as I thought, I know that sound. While I didn’t know its exact source, I knew it almost certainly had to do with the hospice next door.

I was wrestling with the warring urges to offer comfort and ignore it lest my offer be rejected when the middle-aged ladies the next table over stood up.

“Are you going to go talk to her?” I asked. They nodded as they strode away from their belongings and food.

When they returned a few minutes later, the older lady touched a hand to her heart and said, “She just admitted her son to hospice.”

My own hand rose to my heart as I said, “I recently lost my mom, so . . . I’m glad you guys went out to talk to her. I was struggling with whether I should.”

A few minutes later, as I prepared to leave, the woman further from me asked, “How long ago was it?”

I explained that it’s been more than a year now since my mom passed away. “It’s much easier now, but it’s hard to hear that and know someone is just beginning that journey themselves. The inevitability of it. I’m so glad you guys went and talked to her. I just wish I hadn’t waffled . . .”

Immediately, both women spoke.

“You’re just fine,” said one.

“Sit with us for a little!” said the other.

I shook my head and said I had to go, but thanked them again. They wished me well and I felt sorrow and gratitude warring in my heart.

As I turned to the left and started to walk past the hospice, I saw a woman sitting on a bench outside it. She was quiet, but her body was shaking with her silent sobs. I kept walking, seeing as if there were cords connecting them that the two people nearest her in the courtyard were with her.

What good could I do, anyway? I kept walking.

A cry escaped her as neared the end of the hospice. I froze and thought, “I’d rather say something, no matter how inane, than not say anything at all.” I turned around, walked back, and felt tears sliding ever faster down my face as I approached.

“Is there anything I can do?” I whispered, even though I already knew the answer.

“No,” the woman said, her sobs continuing. “But thank you.”

I didn’t say anything else after that. What could I possibly say? But I said a prayer as I walked away, wishing her comfort and love to see her through the tumult ahead.

I remembered that dream. And I was glad I couldn’t forget it, because how it ended was very different from how it began.

It’s the third day. Rache and my godmother are sitting on a hillside, basking in the sun. Rache waves at me and pats a spot next to her on the grass. “If this is all the time I’ve got left, I’d rather spend it here than crying in a dark room somewhere.” I smile, because that seems so right somehow.

I lay down next to her on the grass and she holds my hand. There are so many balloons in the sky, all of them drifting upward toward heaven, that I think maybe they are just going home.

Who doesn’t love free books? Stop Pretending+1 giveaway

giveaway: preface

One month ago today, I posted the hardest thing I’ve yet written: Six hands for lifting: on my mom, mental illness, fear & hope. In the wake of posting about my experiences with my mom’s mental illness, I was stunned by the outpouring of support and like stories. In addition to the peace of having confronted my grief head-on, I was then greeted with thousands of other blessings in the form of your words.

The message in this is simple. I’m not alone. You’re not alone. The more we share our experiences, our hope, and our love, the brighter the world will be for those who continue to suffer the many hardships correlated with mental illness.

“Six hands for lifting” was prompted by the beautiful, heartfelt book Stop Pretending. It’s my wish this book will eventually land on each of your bookshelves, so that you may share it with others who will be touched by its accessible truths . . . and perhaps be compelled to find their way to healing, and help, in other forms.

giveaway: details

On July 15, 2011, I’ll give away two paperback books apiece to three winners. The first book of each set will be a copy of Sonya Sones’s Stop Pretending. The second book will be of each winner’s choice, with the caveats that each must be both available on Amazon and cost $20 or less. (I’d love to hook you up with autographed, out-of-print first editions of your favorite book, but I’d also love to help my son with college someday!)

If you live in the United States and would like a shot at winning one of these two-book sets, do at least one of the following prior to 12:00 AM Pacific Time July 15, 2011:

1. Comment on this entry indicating your interest.
2. Email with the subject: “Free books FTW!”
3. Tweet about this giveaway, mentioning @deb_bryan, and send me an email with the subject: “I tweeted it!”
4. Share this link on your blog and send me an email with the subject: “I blogged it!”
5. Share this link on Facebook and send me an email with the subject: “I shared it on Facebook!”

If you’d like more than one shot at winning, do more than one of the following! You’ll be entered once for each of the above actions you take.

Winners will be announced by first name on or shortly after July 15, 2011.

100% no-nefarious-usage-of-your-private-info guarantee! Your email address–and any other contact info you provide–will be used strictly for purposes of this giveaway. Once winners are announced, I’ll email each winner to coordinate shipment. Afterward, all private info will be deleted and/or otherwise destroyed. As with my first book giveaway, this will not by accomplished by devouring. :)


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