Friday, May 21, 2010

The Gift of Grace

If you talk to me for more than five minutes you'll know that I'm a mom. That I have the best son in the world. That I am giddy with joy about the awesomeness that is being a parent to my child.

I rarely talk about the road traveled to that ultimate joy. It was littered with many stumbling blocks and dead ends. It was long. It was not a part of my master plan for my life.

And, so it goes. Crap happens to everyone. The difference is what you do with your pile when you stumble upon it.

But, because of my experience during the journey toward parenthood, I have willingly joined a dear friend on another journey that can be all encompassing at times. Ultimately, this road leads to a place filled with light and in a weird twist of humor, a bunch of goofy ladies playing golf!

Yep. You read right. This year there will also be jello shots involved. See what I mean - every bag of crap can be dressed up if you've got a bedazzler on your side!

My friends, Katherine and Mike Schoenborn, experienced the tragic end to many of their dreams when their triplet sons were stillborn. Not the chaotic life they expected on the day they learned they were pregnant. A very silent, somber conclusion that left them bereft . . . and planning a memorial rather than three baptisms.

In order to help tell their story, I listened to Kat and guided her in the creation of a video (we also had the technical skills and creative eye of another friend, Sam Ramos, to bring this video to life). I'm linking here so you can view it and hear their tale firsthand. Dig out a tissue . . .

After the loss of the Schoenborn boys, I offered to help Kat and Mike establish a lasting memorial to their sons. They've since created the Sleeping Angels Endowment at Spectrum Health Foundation.  And, each year we throw a party to raise funds for this worthy cause (hence the jello shooting lady golfers!).

We invite women to golf and have a good time. They come. They golf. They have a good time. And, we have netted more than $30,000 for the endowment in two years. Rock on, sisters!

I didn't suffer the loss that Kat did. But, I understand how it feels to want something so badly and then to be left with the dark loneliness of just that desire . . . and nothing more. Not even the hope you once felt. 

I think a lot of women share that same understanding. And, because of that, they come together one day a year and drop the cash they've been squirreling away for a summer pedicure or sassy highlights. They gamble that money on the hope and the wish that when someone else experiences the desperate saddness of a stillborn child in our community - they will feel our support. We don't fix the problem. We can't restore the joy those families felt when their baby first kicked or they saw the heart beating in an ultrasound. But, we do supply a giant group hug and a soft whisper that says "You are not alone."

And, really, who doesn't want a group of more than 100 women in golf shoes and visors on their side?!

Can you help? Yep.  GolfSponsorRemember.

I'll be at the Ladies Tee Party (It's not your Grandma's tea party, honey! But, Grandma is welcome to golf too!) on Friday, June 18 in Grand Rapids, MI at Gracewil Golf Club for a 9 am shotgun start. Join me.

Hope on, people. It's a feeling that really doesn't get old. Ever.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I Am Next In Line

We all do it. I'm sure. I don't travel in the type of circles where you could ignore this chore. We all grocery shop. Right?

For some this is a fun outing. For others its a necessary evil. Ultimately though, we've all got to hit the supermarket and stock up on toilet paper and toothpaste, wine and popcorn, and periodically milk and bread.

So, we have the common experience of cruising the aisles and making our selections. Also, we have the common experience of unloading our carts in increasingly more narrow lanes (seriously, what happens if you are not super model thin? It's getting silly!). Then we get to check ourselves out, although at least two or three times in each of my self checkout experiences I must alert someone to come and help me, while waiting patiently for that support. THEN we get to bag our own groceries in our own bags!

I'm not a wimp. I am really not a cry baby. But, lately I'm a little snarky towards all grocery retailers. It seems I'm paying more and more for my groceries, but getting less and less out of the relationship!

I've got your frequent flyer card, heck I think I have six of them, conveniently sized for whatever my needs! I'm just a little unclear what you are doing for me? You want my loyalty but when I provide it there doesn't seem to be much in return.  Lately I don't even get a coherent and polite person to assist me in the checkout process (and really, when I do use the staffed lanes, I don't want the 20-something person to complain about how they have another hour to work when I've just put in a 12-hour workday and still have to manage to drag all these groceries home and put them away . . . ).

So, here's my last gift to you, my favorite supermarket of all time (you know who you are), establish a special lane for me, your card carrying frequent flyer who spends 50% of her income at your shop. Staff it with your best employees, make it a treat to get to work in this lane in fact. And, make me feel like you really give a %$#@ that I'm shopping at your store.

Thank me for bringing my own bags, tell your staffers not to sigh when I hand all 10 of my bags over (I have a lot of bags because I buy a lot of groceries, not because I want to be a pain in your kiester!). And, spring for the extra few bucks to have a few teens working to put my bags in my stinking cart. I'm tired of sweating bullets in the checkout lane because I have to race to place all of my selections on the conveyor, then help bag them, then quickly get the bags into my cart so I don't hold up anyone behind me. It's just ridiculous!

I do still love you.  And, that's why I'm sharing my thoughts now, before I freak out in the ultra-skinny lane while checking out and bagging my own soup and crackers in my own bags that conveniently carry your brand name all over them. 

Really, isn't it enough that I shop at your establishment? Must I also perform the duties of one of your parttime workers for the priviledge?

I'd like to be next in line somewhere that really gives a darn whether I shop there.  Let me know when you're ready for me . . .