Gratitude, a sketch, and a birthday request

Though it is very wintry outside and I am ready for spring, I am grateful to be celebrating my 51st birthday this week. As regular readers know, I have also just passed the three-year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. Don and I had our last annual checkup with my breast surgeon on April 3rd (“We’re breaking up,” she said)! She confirmed that for triple negative breast cancer, which is very aggressive, passing the 3-year mark means that my statistical risk of developing a deadly metastatic version of the disease has just plummeted. It suddenly went from much higher than for other forms of breast cancer, to well below the risk for other forms (and will continue to decline only slightly from here on out).  Here is the sketch she drew us, with my annotations.


Buddhists talk about celebrating our ‘continuation day’ rather than our birth day, and it does feel like a lovely thing, to practice gratitude for getting to continue living and loving in this fascinating, beautiful, and troubled world. I am grateful indeed to be continuing!

If you are inclined to help me celebrate with a gift (of course this is completely optional), my birthday wish is for donations to CORE. I am CORE’s founder and have been co-leading it for 8 years, and it is a project very close to my heart. At CORE we bring people together to explore and cultivate core practices for social transformation to heal ourselves, our communities, and our world. This has looked differently at different times over the years – helping teach nonviolent methods during the 2011 occupation of the Wisconsin Capitol, hosting peer learning circles for consultants, organizing volunteer-driven match-making between organizations and consultants, convening funders, and providing matching funding to support organizational reflection and effectiveness. We’ve learned that the most important impact of our work is in the way we bring people together in reflective spaces to explore, deepen, build relationships, and grow.

I am excited by the work we are developing now. Over the past year we have been diversifying our team and cultivating community partnerships to enable us to share our core practices with a wider array of people. Our consultant Jasmine Timmons will be hosting a CORE Circle for young people of color this month, and CORE’s co-leader of many years Julie Andersen is hosting CORE Action Cafés in collaboration with a number of different community organizations. We are also continuing to support people to attend trainings in these Art of Hosting processes and other transformational methods, including somatics, visual facilitation, Zen leadership, and transformational consulting. Participation in these trainings and gatherings provides community activists and leaders with self-awareness, support, and tools they need to be more effective and sustainable in their work for a better world.

While much of the funding for this work comes from Don’s and my family foundation, we need financial support from others as well to be able to sustain and grow it. We need to raise an additional $12,000 this year to make our current budget. In addition to contributing my time to CORE, I have also pledged this year to donate half the money I bring in from my private consulting and coaching business, and to reach out to others for support as well. It would very much help to ease my personal fundraising burden if you made a donation to support CORE in honor of my continuation day! Your donations are tax deductible. You can give through our website here, or send a check to CORE/C4CS, 354 W. Main St., Madison WI 53703. If you are making a donation from a donor advised fund, we are a fiscally sponsored project of the Center for Community Stewardship, EIN #68-0501459, please put “CORE” in the designation line.

Thank you for considering this, and for your ongoing presence as a reader of my musings!


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