I promised earlier in the week that I would share a list of things I am for, to balance the recent list of things I am against.  There are many items that could make the list (the outpouring of generousity toward the people of Haiti, Anton Apollo Ohno, any/all of the organizations listed on the ballot to receive our donation).  However, the list below is more personal in nature in keeping with the general feel and purpose of this blog.  I received a number of interesting emails and comments on the “Against” list, so please feel free to share your thoughts on the following.

Things I am for (or can’t help loving):

  • Getting outside early in the morning.  Even though the ringing of the alarm is a deep annoyance, I love stepping out the door on my way to a morning workout.  Yesterday, the world was a silent, sparkling white from the frost that covered every branch, bush, tree, power line.  Then, in the silence, one beautiful lone bird song.
  • DiGiorno 200 Calorie Portions: individually wrapped, 200 calorie pizzas.  Its true – standing in the frozen food isle, I said a brief prayer of thanksgiving.
  • Mount Mercy students.  I have felt for years that our students are incredible, and they have filled my life with both challenges and joy.  Whenever I take the time to really be present with them, I am reminded why I do what I do for a living.
  • Exercise.  Let me say that again:  I am FOR exercise!  This is a discovery of almost miraculous proportion.  On Friday, I was doing my treadmill workout (getting ready for Run The Flood in June) and I thought, “Why am I pushing myself like this?”  Surprisingly, an answer came to me — “because I like pushing myself”.  It didn’t sound like me, so for a moment I wondered whose voice that was in my head.
  • The human body – specifically, my human body.  I might not feel that way looking in a mirror, but when I think that I have treated my body so badly over the years and it is repaying me with health and strength, I cannot be anything but grateful.
  • The Goodwill donation box.  I have a growing pile of gently used (and suddenly too large) clothing.  I’m glad the clothes will go to good homes.
  • Celebrating success. Friends (Ginger and Lori) gave me what was intended to be a calendar — two blocks with numbers on them.  When you change the numbers, it speaks in the voices of two little rabbity-looking cartoon characters.  Ginger and Lori’s idea, which I love, is to use the numbers to track my weight loss.  Now, when I change to new numbers, I get immediate positive reinforcement!

As I said above, there are many things I could add to this list. But I will end with just one more:

  • Valentine’s Day!  In the past, this day would definitely have made the list of things I am against.  I see it differently now.  The reason is simple:  I am for taking the opportunities that life presents to show or tell others you love them — offering them your support, your compassion, your strength as well.  So many of you have done that for me in these past months, how could I be anything but passionately FOR that?!

Catherine McAuley Center

This week’s organization is one which I know personally and have been involved with in the Cedar Rapids community.  The Catherine McAuley Center, affiliated with the Sisters of Mercy, serves two critical needs in this community — adult continuing education and transitional housing for women. I have seen first-hand the care and dedication of the staff and volunteers, and have witnessed their commitment to addressing the holistic needs of those who come to the Center for assistance.

The adult education program provides assistance in preparing for the GED test, citizenship preparation,  English as a Second Language (ESL) or improve basic math and language skills. Tutorials are also available in basic keyboarding and computer skills. The Center offers specialized banking and citizenship classes throughout the year. The Center’s immigrant/refugee coordinator provides ESL instruction and case management services to help New Iowans make a smooth transition into the community.

When women enter the transitional housing program, their need is for the basics:  food, clothing, safe shelter.  The center accepts both financial and in-kind donations (food, toiletries, staples).  The transitional housing program provides counseling services, educational assistance, and basic skills so that the women leave the program with new life skills.

You can check out the Catherine McAuley Center at