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Filtering by Tag: Kansas City AIDS Walk

LET'S WALK

Cindy Maddera

Six years ago, Terry said “Hey! Come do the AIDS Walk Open with us!” The AIDS Walk Open is a large charity event for the AIDS Walk of Kansas City. Combine mini golf with a pub crawl and some golf teams in crazy costumes and that’s the Open. There’s day drinking and laughter and ridiculousness and I am usually in bed by nine o’clock every time I participate. This was also true for the year I volunteered. Most of us skipped out on the Open last year. No one was in the mood for it, but this year Bradley decided to coral all the cats into teams for this year. Another fun fact? Six years ago was my first Open. That’s when I met Greg and Bradley. It was also their first Open. Out of our three teams on Saturday, only me, Greg and Bradley had ever participated in the AIDS Walk Open before.

Passing torches.

We had a really great time. Wilson brought a pink bucket filled with dollar store crap, including dollar store fingernail polish. My nails are still a light shade of pink. I’m not used to having painted nails and every time I glance at them I do a double take. Then I remember, “Oh yeah… I painted my nails pink while we waited for our turn at Sidestreet Bar.” We made it to eight out of eleven bars. You need six to qualify for prizes. The people who win every year are the ones who buy mulligans to reduce their points. I don’t have that kind of money. Particularly this year. Wow, was I not good at mini golf. It seems pretty straight forward. Hit ball into hole. One of those mini golf courses was covered in cue balls. There was no straight forward. I could have spent a fortune on mulligans.

Bistro 303 ended up being our last stop before heading over to Missie B’s for the closing ceremony. Belinda was in charge of the course there and she said “you’re helping with the memorial flags this year right?” By this point I had been drinking a lot of gin and I enthusiastically nodded my head and replied “YES!” I am not one of those people who gets so drunk that they can’t remember what happened while they were drinking. So it looks like I am helping out with the Memorial Team for the AIDS Walk this year. This morning I went over and activated my donation page and updated my picture. I have until April 27th to beg for donations. If you feel like giving to this great cause, you may donate to my donation page here. You can also get to that page by going to Linky-links and then charities in the navigation bar at the top of my website. People who donate will get a 4x6 print of their choosing from the photos posted in the photography section of my website.

Thank you!

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Monday morning, I opened my email and noticed some suspicious activity. There were over a hundred emails responding to one that had been sent from my account. All of the emails were from people I didn't know and all of them were complaints about having no clue as to why they had received an email. I immediately went to my settings and changed my password. Then I went on my merry way thinking all was fine and dandy. Thursday morning I tried to log onto my gmail account and was told that my account had been disabled. Google had decided that I had in someway violated something and had disabled my email. I filed the form to recover my account and waited. And waited. And waited. I am still waiting. 

While I waited to hear some news about recovering my email account, I became painfully aware of how dependent I have become to this account. It is my main source of communication other than text. My gmail window sits open on my desktop all day. It is how Talaura and I send each other stupid stuff we find on the internet like that designer bag that costs over $2000 and looks just like an IKEA bag. I lost access to all of contacts including home addresses for those contacts. I also rely heavily on Google Drive and have many half written stories there that I have every intention of coming back to and finishing one day. I lost all access to my Google Drive documents. I guess this is the equivalent to a fire in one room of your house. I've lost everything from that room. 

I have created a new account and I'm slowly rebuilding and linking day to day business accounts to the new one. I've sent out a request for people to email me at the new address so I can rebuild my contact list. I've thought long and hard about some of those documents in my Drive account. So many of them were stories that I had started and gotten a good hold on, but then just stopped working on. Always with the idea that I would come back to it eventually. There's one story in particular that I have written so many words for, but I haven't touched in ages. That story had recently popped into my brain and lately I've been spending time dissecting and rewriting it in my head while marching on the treadmill. Though Michael has assured me that I will eventually get my email account back, I've let myself mourn the lost words as if they're gone for good. 

Today I am thankful for a clean slate. This is an opportunity to start fresh, write new words and to stop editing and rewriting old stories in my head. It is also a perfect opportunity to clean up my email account which had become so littered with promotions and junk from my contest entering days. My contact list was messy with duplicates. Now's my chance to really set up a clean and organized contact list. One day, if and when I get my old account back, I can easily link it to the new account or I can just leave it as a junk drawer for unwanted emails. The funniest thing about all of this has been the response of those of you who didn't know my legal name. My mother gave me that name (some great grandmother's name) and she doesn't even call me by it. 

Tomorrow is the AIDS Walk of Kansas City and thanks to Katrina, I reached my fundraising goal yesterday. I am so so so grateful for each and everyone of you who donates to my fundraising page every year. This year's tag line for the walk is "We will walk until there is a cure." Decreased funding to the NIH for valuable life saving research, ensures that we will be walking for cures for AIDS and so many other diseases that wreck havoc on the human body for a very very long time. So, thank you. Thank you for supporting me in this fight against AIDS.

We're set to have a soggy weekend (it always rains on AIDS Walk day) and it has started with a soggy Friday morning. Here's to a weekend of rain boots and umbrellas and a truly Thankful Friday. 

THE WEEKEND RUN DOWN

Cindy Maddera

Thursday night, I got a call from Nancy at Sunshine Studio asking me if I'd substitute teach her Saturday morning class. I said 'yes' without hesitation (partially because I say 'yes' to things easily) and then when I hung up the phone I thought "Holy Hell, Cindy. What are you thinking? You are corralling drunk mini golf teams on Saturday!" Then I snapped out of it. This is how I ended up wrangling yoga students in the morning and corralling drunk mini golf players in the afternoon. I don't know why my weekend suddenly became a western, but Yee Haw! I needed to teach some yoga. I need some practice before my workshop in April. 

Subbing for an established teacher is not easy. Yoga students get attached to their teachers. They love their teacher. My students loved me, even that one student who never looked pleased with any part of my classes. She gave me a gift when I left and told me how much she'd miss me. Any way, I recognize how difficult it can be for a student to walk into their class expecting to see the teacher they love and then finding a complete stranger standing there instead. The students at Sunshine were very kind and accepting and they tolerated my wacky instructions with smiles. At the end of class, one of the students approached me to tell me that I gave a cue to come into a pose in a way she had never heard before and because of that cue she was able to come into the pose pain free for the first time ever in all the years she has been practicing yoga. Then I hugged that woman tightly and burst into tears because I suddenly remembered why I used to teach. All the anxiety over teaching a class after so long of not teaching just vanished. I'm not saying that I am ready to start teaching three classes a day on top of my day job again, but this occasional teaching gig seems to be good for my soul.

From there, I met Michael for lunch and then we were off to our designated volunteer post for the AIDS Walk Open. We were in charge of the mini golf hole at the Ragazza, a tiny little Italian place in Westport. Their food is delicious and they also make their own limoncello. There were a few times that it got really crowded and rowdy in there, but I think our volunteer team did a good job of keeping things organized. Laura, the owner of Ragazza, was the most gracious host. She was often out from behind the bar to take pictures of teams that showed up in costumes. We had one young man who took off all his clothes and one point was directing traffic in the street. He then sat down at one of the outside tables to eat a meatball and when the event bus pulled up he hoped on with the cast iron skillet that the meatball was served in. I yelled at Laura that I just saw him get on the bus with one of her skillets and she was able to rescue it before the bus pulled away. 

This year's AIDS Walk Open was giant! The event raised over $25,000 for AIDS Walk KC. Josh, the man who coordinates this event, does an amazing job of rounding up sponsors, bars and volunteers. And let's talk about the bars and restaurants who sign up to do this every year. All of the places on the mini golf pub crawl tour have been wonderful. Yes, I know that this event is good business, but still. They have a mini golf green taking up some space in their place as well as crowds of silly teams that include the occasional strip-down drunk guy. I think I had more fun volunteering this year than I did participating, but I have a feeling that it wouldn't matter one way or the other. The AIDS Walk Open is just fun. The best part is that it is fun for a good cause. Day drinking for charity! 

Speaking of doing good things. It is never to early or to late to donate to my AIDS Walk Fundraising page! Every dollar makes a difference.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

The first year I did the the Kansas City AIDS Walk, it rained. I wore the right shoes for walking, but the wrong shoes for rain. All the water in the whole swamp of a park soaked into my shoes and by the time I headed home, I couldn't even tell if I had feet. They were so numb with cold and wet and I sat in my car for twenty minutes rubbing them with a blanket and blasting the heat. The second year I did the Kansas City AIDS Walk, it rained. I wore the right shoes for rain, but not really the most comfortable for walking. All that mattered was that my feet were dry. This year, I started studying the weather maps weeks in advance. For days the weather report has shown a 90% chance of rain for Saturday. I finally broke down and bought some rain boots. Too be perfectly honest, you didn't really need to twist my arm to purchase a pair of rain boots. I've been eyeing them for some time for a number of reasons. Rubber boots seem like a very practical purchase, but I have been putting it off because I have a hard time spending money on shoes that I will get dirty. And yes I read that sentence out loud to myself and I know it sounds crazy pants. I used the AIDS Walk this year to get over it and just buy the dang boots. In the end I found a pair on Amazon and got a really good deal on them, so I feel pretty OK about the purchase.

Now let me give you a bit of advice about rain boots. This only applies if you are as dumb as I am when it comes to rubber boots, but whatever you do, do not try on rubber boots without wearing socks. Pressing a bare foot into a rubber boot creates a vacuum that makes removing the boot scary hard. I say scary hard, because there was a moment when Michael was trying to pull the boot off my right foot and it wouldn't budge. He actually lifted my whole body off the bed so that I was kind of dangling there with my leg trapped under his armpit while he was tugging on the boot. We took a break at this moment because I started having a minor panic attack. You know how when a little kid gets their head stuck in something like a bucket or between the rails on a back of a chair and you have to calm that kid down, because all the screaming and stress makes everything worse? That's basically the same thing that happens when you can't get a rubber boot off of your foot. We eventually got the boot off, but there was a moment when I seriously thought I'd be wearing that boot for the rest of my life and how I'd have to adapt my life around a rubber boot on my right foot. I imagined climbing into bed and under the covers with a rain boot on my foot. For the rest of my life because I don't believe in cutting up perfectly good boots.

I am thankful that I have rain boots to keep my feet dry and comfortable. I am thankful that we eventually got that one boot off my foot. I am thankful that our rain chances for Saturday has dropped form 90% to 60%, even if that 60% is predicted for the early morning right in the middle of the AIDS Walk. It almost goes without saying that what I am most thankful for this week and all of the weeks leading up to the AIDS Walk are all of you who donated to my fundraising page. I always set my fundraising goal for $250.00 because I feel like asking for things is too much and that's a reasonable goal. As of writing this entry, thanks to all of you, we have raised over $500 that will go to HIV/AIDS prevention and education and care here in Kansas City. I know people who raise thousands of dollars for the AIDS Walk, but I am always amazed that I can raise any amount for the AIDS Walk. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

I am thankful for Josephine's new haircut even though she looks naked because at least her body isn't dragging in half of the yard with her every time she comes inside. I've pulled so many leaves and elm tree droppings from her fur and the floors look like I never vacuum. We all know that I am a person who is always vacuuming. And I may be typing this up too early, but we have not had an animal incident since the bird last Thursday. We thought that bird had escaped out the open basement window. He did not. Michael found him Saturday evening when he went to get me the laundry baskets. Poor bird. I am thankful for the two new (very clean) dishes I introduced to our menu this week. One was OK, but the other one was met with grand applause. What else? I am thankful for the things sprouting in the garden. I am thankful for the rain that helped make those sprouts happen. I am thankful.

Here's to a grand, yet soggy weekend and a super duper Thankful Friday!

NATIONAL DAY OF HAPPY

Cindy Maddera

Did you know that Sunday was not only the first day of Spring, but the International Day of Happiness?!? Probably not. Let's face it; international happiness is not really on the top of the list of things being paid attention too. In fact most of the stuff getting all the attention right now are things that are the opposite of happiness. I awoke to news the other morning of terrorist attacks in Brussels and a particular Republican candidate (rhymes with rump) has already started flinging out racist hate. Because that's what he's best at. (Side note: Do you really want a President whose 'best' skill is being a racist fascist hate monger?) Finding happiness on a national level is turning into a Where's Waldo book. I apparently stopped looking for it weeks ago because that's when I stopped uploading a happiness picture into my VSCO ap. 

Things like International Days of Happiness make me question things. Am I happy? What do they mean by happy? Is it like happy 50% of the time or just more of a shrug with a general side of happy? How do you measure happiness? When people say they're happy are they being honest or is it just a polite answer to how they are doing? While I was typing all of this, I was also thinking about the layers of dust in my house and how I want to clean under the furniture. If you were to ask me, I'd say that happiness is directly proportional to how clean the house is. Please note that in the time it has taken me to write any of this, I have completely dusted the whole house including baseboards and ceiling fans. I did not however get under the furniture with a dust mop of any kind. I'm only one person. 

If I remember correctly, last year I had a hard time with that whole Winter to Spring transition. This time around though, I feel less disgruntled and more unsettled. I keep rushing forward to the next thing on the calendar without being still for the day I am currently on. This week I have had a chiropractor visit and I have a dentist appointment tomorrow. This is all scheduled around wash times and fix times and microscopy times. Next week I have an appointment for my yearly women's health exam and I still have to make an appointment with my general practitioner about the whole cholesterol thing. I have gone from hardly scheduled to over scheduled and I'm not sure how it even really happened. I have yet to schedule a time to get the side mirror fixed on the scooter so I can get it inspected because the tag is due. Nor have I scheduled an appointment for Josephine to have her yearly shots and exam. Then there's the car tag that's due, but I don't need an inspection for that because it's a fairly new car. And now I'm rambling and I haven't even mentioned the garden or the chickens. Every weekend we've planned to work in the garden or clean out the coop has been a cold miserable weekend. 

This is also a reason for my unsettled feeling. The weather. One day it's warm, like today. We may even get thunderstorms tonight. Then the next day will be cold. It's supposed to snow on Friday. I am as unsettled as the season, but am I happy? With all this unsettling I haven't really had time to think about it. On the actual National Day of Happy, I painted a tile for Mosaic, an AIDS Walk fundraiser. They sell the tiles at First Fridays and at the AIDS Walk. The Cabbage painted two and then Terry covered her hand in paint and pressed her hand to a tile. We all had a grand time for a good cause. In the moments when I wasn't worrying about how many paint brushes the Cabbage was using or all the paint cups she had placed next to her elbow, I can say that I was happy. I was so happy that I might even start taking a painting class at the studio. 

As soon as things are a little more settled. 

[Don't Forget to donate to my AIDS Walk page!]

THAT TIME I WAS A BEARDED LADY

Cindy Maddera

Saturday was the AIDS Walk Open, a charity event that raises money for the Kansas City AIDS Walk. It's a great charity event that involves putt-putt and day drinking. Teams of four compete for best putt-putt score and or best dressed team or just to make it through all twelve bars without passing out on the sidewalk. Last year was Michael's first year to do the AIDS Walk Open and I think we made it to five bars before I had to scrape him off the sidewalk outside of Kelly's. Part of it was, with it being his first time, he didn't really know what to expect. This year he was prepared and ready to pace himself accordingly. 

A few months back, my friend Heather (who lives in California) contacted me and said that she and her friend Michelle wanted to come up for the Open and surprise Terry. Michelle and Terry met and bonded in Italy over the summer. So Heather was like "Hey! Let's dress up and be The Terry Newells! And make Terry ugly cry with happiness!" I'm always up for making someone ugly cry with happiness. We put Heather's plan into motion. She and Michelle would be conjoined twins, the World's Only Interracial Conjoined Twins! I would be the bearded lady and Michael would be our carnival barker. Off we all scampered to start building our costumes and getting things in motion to surprise Terry. I started to put out feelers for what bar to start in and who was volunteering and who was on a team. Then Friday night, Michael and I picked up the girls from the airport, spent some time stalking Terry before surprising him at his house. Where we made him ugly cry with happiness. 

Our costumes where phenomenal. The conjoined twin costume that Michelle made was so smart. They could easily unsnap themselves to make walking around easier and snap back together as twins when it was time for us to put on a show. My beard got a lot of attention and Michael was pretty much made for carnival barking. If we had made it to the last two bars in time, we would have stolen the Best Dressed Team award. We did not, but that's OK because we made it to all twelve bars! We really had only expected to make to six. Also, everyone knew we had the best costume. Terry and Heather walked up to the 303 on Monday and she said she ran into a number of people who told her that we had the best costume. I had some small talk with a woman at work yesterday who doesn't even really know me. She said "I think I saw on Saturday." I said "Was I bearded lady!?!" and she smiled and said "yeah...I had no idea what was going on." Then I got to tell her about the Kansas City AIDS Walk and how fun it is to raise money for something good. 

We had a grand time! I am still taking donations for the Kansas City AIDS Walk! You can leave donations at https://www.aidswalkkansascity.org/cindymaddera

GRATITUDE AND FUNDRAISING AND SEX, OH MY

Cindy Maddera

The other night I had two different dreams. One was about teaching yoga, which is a whole other story. The other one was weird. There was a group of us hanging out around a table. Whitney, you were there and so was Talaura and some people I didn't know. One of those people I didn't know had this hand cream and held it up and said "OK, now we play a game. We pass the hand cream around. When it gets to you, you have to put a little on the back of your hand, smell it and then tell us all about the most meaningful sex you've ever had." I'm really glad I woke up before it was my turn. Except when I woke up, the whole question of the most meaningful sex was still swimming around in my head. 

Our society has placed such an emphasis on the sanctity of a girls virginity, that we are expected to believe that our first time is our most meaningful sexual experience. I guess, in a way, this is kind of true. The first time anything happens in life is generally celebrated. The first birthday. The first step. The first baby tooth to fall out. The first time you ride a bike all on your own. These are big moments. It stands to reason that the first time you have sex is a big life event. Except for girls, it's supposed to be THE event. I've heard enough stories to know that many women have had very disappointing first time experiences. There were no rose petals or fireworks like they were made to believe would happen. We place more value on virginity than we do on self worth. To all those young girls out there, it's not your vagina that deserves better than Joey Martin's basement couch. It's YOU that deserves better. Also...don't ever expect the Joey Martins of the world to have a condom. (Side note: I do not know a Joey Martin, nor have I had sex with him on a basement couch. Houses in Oklahoma don't even have basements.)

I was pretty lucky. I did not see fireworks my first time around, but it was an enjoyable experience. That's because I had a kind and considerate partner. I had a partner who I trusted and who I could communicate with. We knew each other's sexual history. I knew with out a doubt that I was with someone who valued me. Yet even with all of that, I'm not so sure that I can say that my first time was the most meaningful sex I have ever had. Honestly, if I had to answer that question right now, I'd say that my most meaningful sexual experience was the first time I had sex after Chris died. That first time after Chris proved to me that I wasn't broken and that I could trust someone other than Chris. It was proof that I could continue. 

I raise money for the AIDS Walk Foundation of Kansas City every year because that money goes to fund programs that teach people the importance of communicating with your sexual partner, not to mention free STD testing. Because if you think you're immune to STDs because you take a birth control pill every day, you are delusional. Know your body. Know your partner's body. But most important, know yourself. These are the lessons that AIDS Walk charities teach. I am so thankful to each and everyone of you who donate to my fundraising page every year. Marsha has officially started my fundraising by making the first donation to my AIDS Walk page. Thank you so much Marsha!

The AIDS Walk Open is this weekend. This is a big event that raises a lot of money for the foundations, but is super fun. Twelve bars! Twelve putt-putt courses! I'm on a team that's decided to dress up and try to win the costume contest (we are going to win!). I promise to take and post some pictures. I'm thankful for a whole bunch of stuff this week, but mostly I'm thankful for you guys. 

Have a great weekend and a truly Thankful Friday!

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I had planned Monday as a vacation day in anticipation of having a hangover from our progressive dinner. Except when I woke up Monday morning, I felt just fine. I used the day to do some of the things I didn't get done on Sunday. I finished the laundry and made ghee. I watched Room and wrote a blog entry. I dusted the house and rearranged some elephants. I brushed my teeth but didn't wear a bra all day. Truth be told, this all stuff I would have done if I had been hungover. I just would have been more grumbly about it. I am not good at taking a vacation day unless it is vacation for actual travel. But hey, for some people having some time to dust the house with out interruption is vacation worthy. I'm talking about me. I'm the only person on the planet that would think dusting is a vacation activity. I'm planning a whole week of vacation that involves cleaning out a basement. 

Looking at my calendar today, I realized that taking Monday off to dust was not a bad idea at all. Last night was the AIDS Walk Kickoff party. It's official. We are moving into serious fund raising season. Last year I decided that I wanted to help out a little more, not with donations, but with my time. I told Terry that we'd get the flags for the walk organized and on hangers before the walk and I still want to make that happen. Terry, we're making an IKEA trip soon and having a flag organizing social. I'd like to make that whole thing a bit easier for him because that day is hard enough. Of course, I'd also like to raise some money. My AIDS Walk Fundraising page is up and active! Any way, there's going to be a lot of AIDS Walk things coming up and I want to be involved even it means that I will have less time for dusting and being a hermit. 

I am grateful for both of those things. That is, I am thankful for the days I can be a hermit and I am thankful for the activities that are coming up that do not allow for hermitage. I am also thankful to have any part in fundraising for the AIDS Walk. My experience with the AIDS Walk KCMO has been so different and so much more rewarding than when I raised money in Oklahoma City. I think it's because I do more than just raise some money. I carry a flag bearing a name of someone who lost the battle. So we don't forget. I am thankful for being able to do that and I am thankful for Terry who has provided me with that opportunity. 

This has been a good week with lots to be thankful for. I am thankful for warmer temperatures. I am thankful for the eggs from the chickens. I am thankful for really good moments on my yoga mat. I am thankful for the promise of a productive weekend. And as always, I am so thankful for you. Here's to a great weekend celebrating the Year of the Monkey and a truly Thankful Friday!

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

This Saturday is the 27th Kansas City AIDS Walk. Today, after work, I'll head over to the park to help set up the tent for the Memorial Flags and help out where ever I'm needed. Because this year, I told myself that I was going to do more than raise money for the AIDS Walk. Let me talk about the money part for just a minute though. You guys? You guys are just the most amazing. Thanks to your generosity, I have raised well over my fundraising goal. I keep that goal kind of low because I am always surprised that I raise any money at all, but every year you guys step up and pitch in and remind the world that the internet was made for good things. I am humbled and so grateful. Your generosity is a gift.

This has been a week of little gifts. Monday, I had my doctor's appointment where she ordered tests, but said everything looked fine. She said I was healthy and the tests would just be proof of that. Wednesday, Stephanie sent me a text telling me she had her first nursing interview this week. I don't know if she got the job, but the fact that she's barely out of school and already getting job offers sounds like good news to me. I'm so proud of her. That evening I came home to a package from Amy containing scooter bookends. And not just any scooter bookends, but scooter bookends that look just like my scooter. They are propping up my sciencey books on my desk at work like Biochemical Calculations.  I look at them and whisper "vroom, vroom." Then on Thursday, I had just rolled out my mat for some yoga when Shannon (my yogi friend) came in to teach her lunch time class and said "I have something for you!" She gave me this really cute little bag with chickens all on it. Those bags are her new obsession and when she saw that they made one with my new obsession on it, she couldn't resist. Finally, the last little gift was hearing that my dear Jen just landed a new job working in an art museum. This is where she belongs and I couldn't be more thrilled or proud of her. I am thankful for all of these little gifts. 

This life is good. There are chickens in the yard, a puppy chewing on my fingers, and things popping up in the garden. We are healthy, fat and happy. I've even gone so far as to make some impulsive decisions that makes me feel a little exposed and vulnerable. I realize now that these things have to be done because it's all part of the roller coaster ride. I love roller coasters! I am thankful for tofu tacos and sunny scooter days even if it's been really cold for my morning ride. I am thankful for the Spider Girl picture the Cabbage colored and hung on our fridge. Most of all, I am thankful for you. 

Here's an eventful weekend and hopefully dry AIDS Walk and a truly Thankful Friday!

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

It's been kind of a heavy week around here. The injustices of the world and ignorance of others has me feeling as though I've had an anchor tied to my feet and I've been dropped into the nearest deep body of water. I worry for those girls taken a year ago. I worry for the countless other young women whose lives are in danger of the same fate as those girls. I worry about the implications of Hilary Clinton's announcement and next year's elections. I worry about the HIV epidemic that's happening in Indiana with 95 confirmed new cases in just this month alone. I worry about what's happening in Yemen. I worry about this peace deal with Iran. I worry about the water in the basement. I worry about the chickens quickly outgrowing their current box. I worry about bills and debt. I suppose I worry about the same things many people worry about on a daily basis. Basically, I worry.  

My whole life I have been a worrier. The death of bees, the baby seals, the rhino population are all things that keep me up at night. I worry about the great big stuff and I worry about the teeny tiny stuff. Most of the time, I have it all under control. I am concerned about the big things, the giant global issues, but they don't keep me up at night. I am concerned about the little things too, but I don't fret over them. This week though, for some reason, I have felt all of the things. Each one a stone stacked on top of one another and I'm balancing them on my head. This is when I become overwhelmed with my insignificance and lack of power to do anything. 

Then I remember the ant. The average size of an ant is less then the size of a normal paperclip, yet they can carry up to three times their weight. One tiny ant makes up a large community of ants and they all work together for the good of the colony. After I think about the ant, I think of the snow flake. One snow flake sits with millions of other snow flakes to cover the ground with a blanket of snow. Next, I think of the ocean. One drop of salt water. One blade of grass to make up a field. One cell to work with millions of cells to form a human body. The ant, the snow flake, the drop of water, the blade of grass, and the one cell, each of these things on their own are insignificant, but look what they can do when they are combined together. 

Finally, I am reminded of the seed. The seed needs the nutrients in soil, it needs water and the warmth of the sun, but once these requirements are met it only takes one tiny root hair to start the process of growing into something amazing. As of yesterday, I have raised $275 for the Kansas City AIDS Walk thanks to your generous donations. Some may say that this is a very small amount, but I would disagree. That $275 makes up the $114,208.58 that the Kansas City AIDS Walk Foundation has raised so far. So, you see, each one of us is an ant, a snow flake,a drop of water. Each one of us is a seed. 

Here's to growing into something amazing and here's to a worry free Love Thursday!

WE ARE ALL CONNECTED, EVEN BY DISEASE

Cindy Maddera

I said something yesterday about the devaluation of women. In West Africa, 32% of new HIV infections are transmitted from sex workers. Most of these sex workers are women who have been forced into the sex industry through human trafficking. In other areas of Africa, HIV is passed around through polygamous relationships and the accepted sexual promiscuity of men. A woman married to such a man usually doesn't have a choice but to do whatever her husband commands her to do. Her value as a partner, mother and caregiver is not something this kind of man even considers. Sadly this is the case for many women.

It all comes down to education. Sort of like teaching a man to fish. You teach a boy that girls have equal value. You continue to stress to that boy as he grows that girls have equal value. Eventually that boy grows up, has sons of his own and passes his knowledge along, thus starting the chain reaction. So, where does the Kansas City AIDS Walk come into play here? Money raised by the Kansas City AIDS Walk goes to educating young people about the transmittance of HIV/AIDS. I know it doesn't sound like this has much of a global impact, but think about it this way. Let's say one, just one, of those kids sits through an HIV/AIDS education class and is inspired to make a difference. That kid grows up to be a doctor with Doctors without Borders or a foreign aid worker. That kid grows up and makes a difference. 

OK. Maybe it's a far fetched idea or reaching for a star. I've always been the one that would rather pull a muscle straining for that star that not reach at all. I still believe in the power of education and how it only takes a lit match of knowledge to start a wildfire. Personally, I know my limitations. I know that my greatest impact is within my own community. That's why I chose to raise money for a program within my own community. I walk because I believe that the impact of one community can change the world. I walk because I believe in the power of education. I walk because ALL lives have value.

We are ten days away from the Kansas City AIDS Walk. Again, I have to thank all of you have been so generous. I can't even express my gratitude in words, it's so great. Those of you who would still like to donate, there's still time. Just go my AIDS Walk Fundraising page https://www.aidswalkkansascity.org/elephantsoap

Every little amount is so much appreciated!