Day 235. August 25, 2013-The St. Jude Children’s Hospital Blog

So today’s task was to blog about my trip to Memphis to tour St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  This was a huge undertaking since my head was spinning and I want to tell you everything but it would take too many pages for that so I decided to do a video and explain some of the things that we saw.  A big part of the tour was hearing stories about some of the patients and the things that happen on a daily basis.  Again impossible to get it all in writing but I will share some of my favorite ones.

First I wanted to share a little about how ended up on this tour.  Two and a half years ago my triathlon team decided to compete in the corporate challenge for the Nautica South Beach Triathlon.  The race is a large fundraiser for St. Jude and all money raised as part of the corporate challenge goes to the hospital.

I was every excited about raising money for St. Jude because of the kids and got started right away.  I even started Pennies for a Cause campaign.  Then we had a team meeting to learn more about the race.  Maria Quesada, from ASLAC the fundraising corporation of St. Jude, got up to talk about the hospital.  She gave us statistics and told us about why the hospital was started ect.  Then she said that she was going to show us a video but not to worry it would not be sad.  Well I cried like a baby.  It was not sad at all but that video changed me.  It moved me to become a St. Jude Hero and was determined to raise more money than anyone.

As I went through the process I learned that there were prizes for the top 3 fundraisers.  First place was a trip to Puerto Rico, second place was a trip to the hospital for a tour and third place was an Ipad.  I was like I can go to Puerto Rico anytime I want and I already have an Ipad.  I want to be second.  I think I ended up around number 8 in the end with a total amount raised of $5,510.00.  That effort got me to the captain position of the team this year.  As is turned out the captains for the top 3 teams were invited to a tour.  Our team was third with over $32,000.00 raised.

Now let me explain that we are going up against corporations who match the employee fundraising.  They also pay for their race entry.  These corporations believe in St. Jude and through this race they get the employees involved.  We are triathletes and we pay our own race entry and we do not have a matching program.  So the fact that we were in third place was huge.  I got to spend the entire day with the captains from the first and second place teams and they told me how impressed they were with our efforts.  One of them said he was going to change his strategy for next year.  By the end of the night we all agreed we would have one big fundraising gala and pull all of our resources to make it a great event.

So the tour was amazing.  This place is so full of hope.  Everything that they do is to make the kids feel like they are living a normal life.  First of all the place does not even look or smell (they have a special filter system) like a hospital.  Second evrything is sized for the kids.  They even have a school.  So cool.  Watch my video so you can get a glimpse of this wonderful place.

During the tour we went by a hallway that had pictures of past patients holding their picture of when they were at the hospital.  7 of the people on that wall now work for St. Jude.  To me that says a lot about this hospital.

We heard stories about some of the patients like this one girl who wanted to exercise so she took to walking around one of the wards.  The nurses figured out how far one lap was and told her you know 10 laps is a mile so she started counting and after a while they told her you know you are just shy of a marathon so she decided she was going to complete it.  When the day came they had everyone there and they made a banner for her to cross and made it a big celebration.  So now there are 2 little boys that want to beat her record. So a new tradition has begun.

They told us about how the kids sometime loose their appetite because of treatment but then all of a sudden at 2am they want pancakes so they have a chef in the kitchen 24 hours a day to whip up the pancakes.  One kid said he wanted his grandmother’s mac and cheese.  He could tell the difference so the chef had no choice but to call the grandmother for the recipe.  And she gave it to him.

They also talked about the energy levels drop as well so when the kids feel strong they are encouraged to play so on any given day you might run into a tricycle race through the halls.  The hospital is totally set up for the kids to play when they feel up to it.

There are a million stories like these. It is all of these small details that amaze me.  They really have thought about everything.

I am including a link to the quick facts page.  This page will give you all the amazing information from when the hospital opened to how many patients they treat everyday.  You may want to look through the webpage for other information.  It is inspiring.

What I learned today is that it doesn’t matter how many times I have told my story about the tour I still get goose bumps when I talk about the hospital.  I love St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Day 233-234. August 23-24, 2013-Trip to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

So the last 2 days were all about my tour of St. Jude Hospital.  It was the most amazing trip and I loved every second of it.  Even getting up at 5am today to head to the airport.

I got home and started writing for today’s blog and determined that I needed more than 1 evening to do this.  There was so much that I took in on the tour and trip that I need to take some time and figure out how best to describe the experience so that you may get something out of it.  Just know that this place is magical and I have come back inspired and that my head is spinning with ideas for fundraising.

I know a lot of my friends think that they would not be able to take this tour and are amazed that I could but let me tell you that you could.  Yes I teared up a lot but it was because the stories that were shared were inspirational.

What I learned on this trip is that I think I missed my calling when I was younger.  I suppose I was not paying attention because if I look back now I remember I used to collect money for things or I was always giving stuff away or volunteering for things.  I was once told a story that when I was a kid in Honduras I gave away some gold bracelets to the other kids because I had a bunch and they had none.  This kind of stuff is not taught.  It lives inside you.   Thank You St. Jude Hospital and my friend Maria Quesada for bringing me a place that calls me to help.

Day 232-233. August 21-22, 2013-Getting ready for my Trip to Memphis

I know you may be thinking why does it take 2 days to get ready for a trip.  Well I was headed to Memphis to a tour of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and I had a lot to do to get ready.  I had bought a bunch of supplies to take with me and as the stuff piled up it was getting sort of heavy and the journals were not even done yet.  So I was scrambling to see if maybe I would ship the stuff or take with me.


School Supplies


Nail polish galore


Polish in cute carry box


Coloring books

I also had the journals to contend with.  The first go around the turned out horrible and I had to back and figure out what to do.  The printers finally agreed to fix the problem and let me know when it was done.  Well they never called and every time I called the phone was busy so I ended up just showing up.  This time they came out great.


A total of 30 journals

I packed and unpacked a few times.  I was only going for one day but I ended up with 3 bags.  It was sort of funny really since I am a very light packer when I travel.  So I finally got it all figured out.

What I learned these last 2 days is that I should have set a limit to what I was taking.  That just going out and picking things up because everything was a dollar at the dollar store was not good planning.  Next time I will take gift cards which was on the list and would not take up much space.

Day 218-231. August 7-20, 2013 Getting Things Done

Geeze where has the time gone.  For someone who is not working much I sure am putting in the time.  These last few weeks have been insane.  First, Aida went on vacation so she asked me to help with some stuff at work.  One thing turned into another and then my jobs all went crazy at the same time.  So I worked a good amount.

I also was doing a lot of other things like:

  1. volunteering to be a team captain at the Lake Tahoe Ironman (new and very scary thing to do),
  2. volunteered to critique a book called Control Alt Delete (just got the book and I can’t wait to read it),
  3. spend a day at Math Monkey Camp (which I will blog about in a separate post),
  4. spend some time at Follow your Heart Boutique (which I will blog about in a separate post),
  5. go to tri-camp (3 days  of intense training)
  6. make 4 lasagnas for a mini family reunion,
  7. get supplies, including custom made journals,  for my upcoming visit to St. Jude Children’s hospital,
  8. Reading and working to set up David Allen’s Getting Things Done system (this does take some time when you start because you have to get everything you ever wanted to do or have to do on paper),
  9. Spent about 4 days on line looking for the best deal and seat assignments for my upcoming trip to Lake Tahoe and then to Augusta for my half ironman race
  10. working through my Social Media Marketing class (although not as much as I would like),
  11. signed up for an organic vegetable delivery club
  12. went to a cooking class at Miami Culinary Institute (what an amazing facility)
  13. and who know what else

So needless to say I ran out of time to write.

What I learned is if I do not make the writing a priority it will get left undone.  Shoot It happened again while writing this post.  I started and decided I would take a break and come back to it.  I never got back to it yesterday.  Instead I started back with my on line course so I was distracted.  Now this course is also a priority so it was a good distraction but a distraction none the less.

The things I am learning from Getting Things Done talks about the tasks that we need to accomplish and how we should tackle them.  One of the reasons we do not get things done is that well at least me is that I do not look at the time it will take.  I either attempt to get a particular tasks done as soon as I get it or I put it on a list somewhere that I usually forget about.  One of the things I am learning is that if you can deal with the task in less than 2 minutes you should just do it.  Two minutes is the line in which it is faster to tackle the task than putting it on a list.  I do put tasks that would take less than 2 minutes in the pile.  For instance sometimes I just put everything that comes in the mailbox in a pile.  After a few days that pile is huge.  When I finally sit down to go deal with it I realize it is 95% junk.  I should have just looked through the mail and thrown away the junk.  There are many examples of just that.  That is the clutter in my life which drives me crazy.  It is like I can never get rid of it.  So I am working on that.  Today I went straight to the recycle bin with the mail.  No junk on my table today.  Felt good.

Another thing I am learning is that when we tackle the tasks we need to know how long it will take so you can achieve them throughout the day as time opens up.  For instance I now have a list of tasks organized and one of the categories is phone calls.  These are calls that need to be made.  If I happen to get somewhere a few minutes early I can pull the list out and make the calls.  I would not want to tackle something that would take 20 minutes if I only had a few.

This is a process and I am working on it and so eventually I will have a nice system for getting things organized and written down so I do not have to think about it.  I will be able to trust my system enough to know that if I follow it the tasks will get done.

Day 216-217. August 5-6, 2103-The damn ironing

Friday night at happy hour the guys were talking about the chores they had to do as kids like clean the pool or mow the lawn and they all pretty much said the same thing.  When I grow up I will never do that again.  I am paying someone to do it.  So these guys are all vey successful and they all are happy to report that they are paying for those services.  That conversation reminded me that I too hate a few things and one is ironing and the other is cleaning bathrooms. I gave up my cleaning lady when my work load was reduced to not much in order to save some money.  I can tell you one thing.  As soon as I get back to full time employment I am getting a full time cleaning person.

So what pisses me off is that ironing and cleaning bathrooms is exactly what I was doing on day 216 and 217.  This brings me to a realization that I really need to make some changes in order to make more money.  I have been making them but I think I need to move a little faster.  This year has been tough.  The work has been slow and then I had to start paying my health insurance at work (which I’m happy to have but it is freaking expensive) and then today I found out because I am not working enough hours I am not eligible for partial unemployment.

Partial unemployment was created to help companies keep from laying people off.  It’s a program that the company needs to sign up for so that the employees who are on reduced hours are able to collect some unemployment.  It’s not much but it helps.  It is all based on how many employees and percentages of those on reduced hours and the amount of reduced hours.  Last year I participated but then I stopped since I was working at a store part time and with both jobs I was totaling more than 40 hours so I was not eligible.   Earlier in the year I stopped working there and decided to reapply for the partial unemployment.  Apparently it was a waste of time.  I am not eligible.

It is really upsetting because I have basically worked at this company for the last 18 years and my company has been paying for the unemployment insurance for me all of these years.  So now that they can not afford to have me work a certain amount of hours I can not benefit from this.   Now the only way to benefit is to not work at all.  Well I can’t do that so I suppose once more I loose.  I know there is a lesson in all of this.  Cannot wait to see what it is.

So I did get all my ironing finished and it is hanging all over my house.  Why I did not just freaking take the clothes to the closet is really mind boggling.  I suppose I was just trying to stick to the plan of finishing the ironing.  Well I suppose I could put everything away before I go to sleep.

So what did I learn the last two days?  Not sure.  I think I was more reminded of things than learning new things which is still good because sometimes we do loose the sight of past lessons.

Day 209-215. July 29 -August 4, 2013 Crazy week

This past week was about waking up early and going to bed late and being completely busy the entire time.  I seriously do not know how I managed.  Well I managed because I didn’t work out which is not good.

So Monday I went into the office to work since Aida was on vacation and it seemed easier to use her computer.  I was wrong.  It was horrible.  2-1/2 hours into the day I finally got off the phone with the IT guy and was able to access everything I needed.  After that it was all good.

I had a crazy deadline with my high maintenance client and they were relentless.  At some point during the week I sent an email to say that I was about to have a nervous breakdown and to leave me alone so I could finish.  I ended up avoiding every phone call.  It was horrible.

I was also helping the office out with another project.  I was mostly helping out with technical Autocadd stuff because the drawings were not set up to our office CADD standards and poor TJ was struggling.  We got it out just in time even though it was painful.  Thank God Jennie was able to help.

Like always when Aida goes out of town all projects that are hibernating come alive.  This time was no different.  I swear I walked in the office on Tuesday and every call that came in was for me.  Mind you I work from home and all my people know that so I have no idea what happened that day.  It was hilarious.  I don’t even remember all the little things that I needed to take care of but it all got done.  That explains the late nights.

The best part this week was the substantial completion inspection for my project in Palm Beach.  It’s an elementary school and it will be the first Platinum LEED school in South Florida.  I personally did not think it was going to be ready since I had just been up there and they had a lot to do.  I almost cried when I pulled up.  It was not only finished but it looked fantastic.  My original vision was alive.  It has been a few years since I had such a big project in construction so I was excited and inspired.  A few photos. 1. Royal Palm Grove 2. Peanut Grass in lieu of grass 3. The river with recycled boulders from the site

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Because of this project inspiring me I was able to knock out what I needed to for my high maintenance client.  It did require late night emails back and forth but in the end the work got done and there was some humor in the exchanges.

On Wednesday my Mom called that our cousin from Cuba was here and so were 2 of her kids and invited me to dinner on Thursday.  I rearranged everything for that dinner.    We had a fabulous time and it was great to hang with the family.  Here we are acting silly.

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Because of that I was up late again finishing up drawings before heading up to Sunny Isles the next morning for a site meeting.  I love the site meetings.  First we get stuff done.  Second you get to see things that make you think why did I do that and it gives you the opportunity to fix it.  Third if you have a funny contractor you get to laugh and laugh I did.  The general contractor just truly cracks me up.  So that pretty much sums up the week.

So since I have been so busy I needed to tackle the house.  I got up on Saturday Day 214 and started organizing.  My sister Elena let me borrow a CD called Getting Things Done.  It’s David Allen’s approach to being organized.  I popped the CD in and listened while I worked.  It was really good.  After I got things picked up I sat down and implemented some of what I had learned so far.  I have a long way to go but I did start.  I was up late again but it was well worth it.  I made a lot of progress.

On Sunday or day 215 I slept in.  I needed to catch up after my crazy week.  My only plan for today was to get an oil can for the coconut oil I bought and to make some bread.  So I took off to Home Goods to look for the can.  Big mistake.  I came home with everything but the oil can.  Love what I got but it was not on my schedule.


Today’s damage

So a little history on why I have coconut oil.  Last week I bought a wok and I needed to season it.  The instructions say I need vegetable oil.  I don’t have any since I only  I use olive oil and have been doing that for like 20 years.  I posted on Facebook about how I didn’t have vegetable oil.  I got a response from a friend (she is actually the wife of a guy I went to high school with but we met a few months ago and she is great and very knowledgable about what food you should put in your body).  She explained all sorts of stuff but what I came out of this is that for high heat cooking you need coconut oil or organic butter or ghee.  Wok cooking is completely high heat.  She sent me a link to Tropical Traditions so I ordered some coconut oil.  That was Sunday.  My sister Elena ended up going to dinner and we stopped at Winn Dixie.  I was shocked to find coconut oil there so I bought some because I wanted to season my wok.  So When I got home I did season my wok and it is all ready to be used.

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I asked Karen for some recipes for the wok.  I am a bit intimidated by the wok since it cooks so fast.  She sent me to to buy spices which I have done.  OMG I can not wait.

So I finally did make the bread.  I have been wanting to try the Einkorn flour that I bought awhile ago.  The flour is made from wheat that had not been modified and the source is 10,000 years old.  Carola, one of my team mates, told me about it and I told her I would make the bread but this was a few months ago.  Let me tell you that this bread is delicious.  I also used butter instead of oil.  I was ready to jump in the oven it smelled so good.  Worth the wait is all I can say.  The pictures throughout the process.


What I learned this week is crazy.  Here we go:

  1. I can make grumpy clients laugh.
  2. They can make me laugh back.
  3. They can also send me a photo that puts a smile on my face.
  4. It is ok to eat butter.  In fact it is better than oil as long as it is grass fed organic. (I am super happy about that)
  5. I have awesome cousins.
  6. My Mom is so cool.  (well I knew that already but she just keeps reminding me of it)
  7. Elena can actually change a plan.  (inside joke sorry)
  8. Home made bread is better.
  9. Don’t go to Home Goods if you are not prepared to buy everything else but what you wanted.
  10. I miss my trainer/coach/friend (I haven’t seen him in 2 months).
  11. and a few more things I am sure.