Tuesday, September 21, 2010


RENO, NEVADA - I tell you all the time (well, those of you out on twitter and facebook, anyway...) to go find a local Contemporary Ceramics Studio Association (CCSA) studio and paint some pottery. These are the pottery studios located all over that allow you to come in and paint pottery and then THEY clean up the mess while you have a good time. It's really just a stellar time, as a matter of fact, our tiny staff here at the Foundation will be doing that for our Christmas party this year. We fully expect to leave covered in red and green paint.

I encourage people to go for fun, but there is a another really big reason - other than the fact that you should find a good creative outlet. This organization is absolutely passionate about cancer research. Passionate. They come to me individually and tell me their stories of hope, of survivorship, and in some cases, of loss. They sit at corporate headquarters and say things like 'lets do this' and then create entire programs around donating to the Vera Bradley Foundation. Mayco and their partners have created a campaign to align with our "Hope Grows" theme. Lilly Ollo has decided to send a portion of their proceeds from their silver jewelry sales to us. All of these people had never heard of us, but now know and love what we do. This photo is Richard, the King of CCSA (that's the title I have bestowed upon him, I'm not entirely sure of his actual title but I am sure it's just as impressive) doing his darnedest to get the auction prices juuuuuust a bit higher. And me. Looking like a dork in my 1980's prom dress. That was their theme this year, I don't ask questions, I just attend. Happily.

These are small business owners who are making a difference in spite of difficult economic times, in spite of the fact that philanthropic giving is down nationwide. These studios are people with hearts as big as their creative genius. I know you are thinking about what to do with the kids one weekend when the weather is not perfect. I know you are working to plan your own Holiday parties. I know you are thinking about doing a girls night out for ONCE and just have a little time alone. I know where you should go. Tell them Heidi says hi. :)

Friday, September 17, 2010


DETROIT, MICHIGAN - So I meet this guy on twitter, thanks to my friend Suzy Gatton. He’s had cancer, she said, and has written this amazing book about his 5-time survivorship! Well, who wouldn’t want to say a virtual hello after that kind of an intro? So off I twitter, track him down and say hello. Within 2 posts (No exaggeration. The first one was all nice and "gosh, really looking forward to getting to know you…blah blah blah."), the second post said “wait, what? Are you a Blackhawks fan? Girl, no WAY," says Don. "No Way." With big smiley faces. Oh maaaannnn, I say, and scramble to see where he lives. Detroit. Naturally.

Thus began a series of delightful banter in direct messages back and forth. The hockey season was fun and heated, and interspersed with my concern for his well being. He would talk smack about my Blackhawks while he was getting chemo, thereby rendering me helpless to retaliate. Let me know when you feel better, you dork, I would say. So I can tell you exactly what I think about the Redwings, and how you stole Chelios.

Then the season ended, and he sent me sweet well wishes, and asked if I cried when they won. You know it, brother! I told him. Then the direct messages began to be less frequent. And now they have stopped. For good. I wanted to share with you his last sentiment, because I think it is so important. You need to know that for the most part, the cancer survivors I know don’t care what color you are. If you are a man or a woman. Who you voted for or how often you vote. What kind of car you drive, or what you like on your pizza. They don’t even care what sports team you like, but will have a great time teasing you about the teams anyway. Here is what is crucial, and I will let Don tell you himself. RIP, my friend. It was an honor to know you, even if only virtually. I hope the Redwings win one for you, buddy. But just one. :)

“I’ve filled my original goal here on earth. It was to spend the remainder of my life helping cancer patients. It seems to be where I found the greatest joy and the most sense of worth. I’m moving up into the next roll. I’ll leave my faithful followers to slip in and fill the gaps. Love to you all and positive energy." -Don Wilhelm

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


WARSAW, INDIANA - But really could be anywhere on the planet, actually. This is just a quick little acknowledgment to those of you who go out of your way to just make someone else feel comfortable. To you who can relay security and empathy with just a simple hug. Taking the time to let a struggling friend know that they matter, they count, they are valued.

As I find myself at the beginning of my travel season, I am often in the world of social media just to feel connected. The amount of people offering virtual support to one another is quite moving. Words of compassion and kindness come from all parts of the planet to embrace someone struggling with divorce, illness, work woes, the list is endless.

So to you who take the time today to offer a random act of kindness, thank you. I hope it returns to you tenfold.

Photo courtesy of Tami Bailey

Monday, September 13, 2010


  • Soft, yet durable. (Wears like iron.)

  • Stain-resistant. (Tears, blood and the occasional odd drip from random IV fluids wash clean away. Warning: traces might remain.)

  • One Size Fits Most. (Ability to conform as needed to individual needs.)

  • Bright, Cheery Pattern. (No matter how bleak the day, their radiant nature will cover you.)

  • Timeless. (Always exactly what is needed at that moment – not trendy, no no – so much more then trendy. Effortless style, like a great string of pearls.)

You think I’m talking about the scrubs, don’t you. :) Actually, every line above refers to Oncology Nurses. This is my humble salute to them, and what they do for all of us in the chairs. You can’t possibly be paid enough, thanked enough, or praised enough for helping us walk gracefully through our journey. We (quite literally) wouldn’t be here without you. xoxo

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We Are Still Standing

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!