Monday, September 28, 2009

Firm League of Friendship

YORK, PENNSYLVANIA …“enter into a firm league of friendship with each other” is, as I am sure you all remember, from the third Article of the Articles of Confederation of the United States of America. Wait, what? You don’t have as a bookmark or desktop shortcut? Geesh. Well, I will remember all those kinds of things for you. When Vera Bradley retailer Caroline Kimman’s in York, Pennsylvania, called to tell me she was doing an event for breast cancer research and would I be the speaker my heart was screaming "WOULD I ???!!!” Of course I would! As you all know, the redcoats chased the Continental Congress to York in September of 1777 where they spent a full 9 months working on the Articles of Confederation. Fast forward 232 years (almost to the day, I know, cool, right?) to Caroline’s breast cancer fundraiser. There was a wonderful doctor who spoke before I did – she, too, is a breast cancer survivor. She made the observation that while none of us ask to join this group called survivors, we nonetheless are joined as one. There were 2 women who were diagnosed just a few weeks ago, some were survivors for almost 20 years. I thought immediately of the ‘firm league of friendship’ line and how poignant that I was standing here, in this place with these great people. Steeped in history with a future full of hope. God Bless America! (seriously, go re-read our founding documents. Totally worth the time.)

Photo courtesy of

Friday, September 18, 2009

Love, art and Captain Underpants

OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS - Hanging out with a big group of artists is an enviable thing to do, trust me. My days are never filled with color, talent and glitter – so when I get to go see my CCSA (Contemporary Ceramic Studios Association) family once a year, it is reason indeed to celebrate. I got to make a dress vase and a leaf frame and no one told me how terrible they looked. This is a group of people who own their own ceramic studios (you go in and paint the pottery yourself) and their hearts are made of solid gold. This year they had 2 members battling breast cancer, and they were treated with respect and love; the outpouring was staggering. They never ask what you can give them, just how much they can give to you. I attend events all year round, and all over the country – nothing matches this generosity. They know all about the VB Foundation, and are unabashed in their passion to find a cure. This year was no exception. See this beautiful clock? Handmade by Julie (that’s her that I’m squeezing in the pic), it raised $10,000 alone. I was the auctioneer this year and CLEARLY not a professional. Every time the prices went up in the stratosphere, I was screaming in the microphone “ohmygoshweareat $700!” like that. The clock bidding? I couldn’t even do that. I just stood on stage with Julia in mute awe, literally hands over my mouth. Not the act of a professional barker; but they knew I would be swooning and they still asked me anyway. I am totally absolved of all blame this time. The auction had items I adored (bid on a few, lost every bid) and some I had never even heard of. (An autographed copy of a book and matching platter of Captain Underpants. Really?) So I love these artists, their work is astonishing and their talent is second only to their generous nature. Thank you Richard, and all my CCSA family, for inviting me back. Thank you for helping me fight for so many with your dollars for cancer
research. I do love you all!

A wonderful store, Cafe Kiln, will be donating a percentage of their sales to the Vera Bradley Breast Cancer Foundation throughout the month of October!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Teach Your Children Well

MARBLEHEAD, MASSACHUSETTS - How do you teach people who are young the value of a charitable act? When the wee ones are just barely big enough to take a desired toy away from a playmate, and we start by teaching them that they shouldn’t. Generosity, kindness, compassion; what difficult concepts! I think they are totally comprehensible if you start early enough. My boss, friend and personal hero, Vera Bradley co-founder Barbara Bradley Baekgaard has a great idea that I encourage all of you to use. When she gives her grandchildren (and there are myriad!) gifts for holidays, birthdays, etc, the monetary gift comes with one clear directive; you must give 10% to the charity of your choice. It is up to that child who will get the gift, be it a person on the street asking for change, or the local Alzheimer’s foundation. They all send her thank you notes and indicate where they decided to spend their 10%. The note above is from young Mr. Byrne, age 5. He has decided to make the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer his charity this year. Thank you, sweet Mr. Byrne, for your donation. Thank you to his ‘Birdie’ as well, for teaching yet another generation of your family how to give with an open heart and a hopeful gaze to the future.

Friday, September 11, 2009

God Bless America

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - Dear America, I love you. I always have, and I can say with some degree of confidence that I always will. Much like the amazing generation that will always be able to tell you exactly what they were doing on the ‘date that will live in infamy’, I will always remember standing in my living room watching the towers crash into the earth. We were scarred, we were scared, we were horrified. In the end, of course, we were Americans. So a handful of us ran in while the rest of us could only watch in desperate horror. Isn’t that typical? The outside world thinks that we will now cower and hide, to acquiesce to fear. But we don’t, not all of us. The brave, those that have carried us through the founding of this republic and all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune since then, still run in to take care of those that need help. Thank you, brave ones. Sons and Daughters of Liberty who have handed us so very much that we take for granted with every breath, I adore you. I am sorry for the scars that our nation wears, but I know that under the scars are hard fought lessons for the next generation. Today would be a good day for us all to stop for just a moment and realize what we have, what inalienable rights have been granted to us by our Creator, and how we can band together to show the world that we are a united republic. God Bless America.