Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Details: Walk to End Alzheimer's

The Walk:
          When: Sunday September 8th, 2013 (National Grandparents Day)
                    Registration: 12:30pm
                    Start Time: 2pm
          Where: Portland International Raceway (PIR) | 1940 N. Victory Blvd.
          The Cost: It's free! All walkers must register, however, for event participation numbers (registration can be done here).
          The Fun: It's not just a 2-mile walk. Organizers are striving to make the Walk to End Alzheimer's a fun-filled, family event for everyone involved:
  • Classic Car Show
  • Kidz Zone featuring a bounce house, pumpkin patch, & the chance to see an ambulance up close & personal.
  • Live band and entertainment
  • Food vendors
  • Participation by the Portland Timbers and the Timbers Army in honor of Hall of Famer Jimmy Conway.
  • Promise Garden - depending on each walker's relation with Alzheimer's (sufferer, caregiver, loved-one who suffers), a color-specific flower will be placed in the Promise Garden, creating quite the visual with over 3,000 walkers anticipated.
Alzheimer's -- by the numbers.

The Cause:
     Today, there are over five million Americans living with Alzheimer's. By 2050, that number could triple.

      Research and support services need funding, and the Walk to End Alzheimer's provides just that. Since 1982, the Alzheimer's Association has granted over $300 million to scientists for studies and research.

     Nationwide, 651 walks raised $51.8 million last year. That money funds 4,500 support groups throughout the country, maintains the 24/7 support hotline (800.272.3900), and funds various research projects searching for answers to the Alzheimer's question.
The Fundraising:
     There are wide-scope efforts, company efforts, and small team efforts to help raise funds for the Alzheimer's Association through the Walk to End Alzheimer's. I have a relatively small family, but we are doing our best to add a few dollars to the cause.

     We have formed Papa's Team, and will be walking on September 8th, in honor of our Papa. Donate, register to walk with us -- do whatever you are able, and willing, to do!

     If you have any questions, comments, or even if you have a fundraising idea (orrrrrr, you work for a company that might be interested in taking part), please don't hesitate to contact me!

     We have roughly 40 days to go til walk-day, let's see how many dollars we can collect!

Donate to Papa's Team!
Register to Walk with Us!

Walking for Papa 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Walk to End Alzheimer's

Nana and Papa 2001.

  Late last summer I stumbled upon a fundraiser I wanted to participate in: The Walk to End Alzheimer's. I wanted to put a team together, of family members and friends, raise money to help put an end to the wide-reaching disease, and walk in honor of Papa.

  Since I was to be back in France in mid-August, and wouldn't be around for the walk in September, it didn't happen. Not in 2012 anyway.

  But I made note of the annual event, and here we are again, looking at the Walk to End Alzheimer's (the Portland edition) coming up on September 8th.

Papa and Sadie 2006.
  The Alzheimer's Association's Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. It's held annually in more than 600 communities across the US.

  Many of us, my family included, have lost a loved one far too soon because of Alzheimer's.

What is Alzheimer's?
  Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia (a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious
enough to interfere with daily life), and accounts for 50-80% of
Papa and Stella 2005.
all dementia cases.

  It's a progressive disease, where symptoms gradually worsen over time. The difficulty with Alzheimer's is that our loved ones are taken from us in mind, long before they're taken in body. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and sufferers live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.

  Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging, though the greatest risk factor is increasing age.

Nana and Papa on their anniversary in 2009.
  Currently, Alzheimer's has no cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Current Alzheimer's treatments cannot stop Alzheimer's from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer's, and their loved-ones and caregivers. 

  And though support groups (which can be found through your local hospital), as my grandma explained are helpful, and extremely beneficial, it should be noted that no two cases are the same. 

  Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.
The Dresslers 2001.

  Which is where the Walk to End Alzheimer's comes into play.

Alzheimer's and My Family
  Various health complications over the years led to Papa's bout with Alzheimer's. Nana first noted a decline in short term memory after his brain bleed in 1998. 

  That's when 'the Long Goodbye' began.

  What started out as 'Papa's bad memory' progressed to Sundowners syndrome, and over time into the disease we lost Papa in 2009. Because of it's variety, doctors termed it vascular dementia.

Thanksgiving 2003.
  Alzheimer's was a difficult disease to watch progress, even from a distance. Not only did it affect Papa, it affected everyone who loved him. 

  For roughly 12 years, Alzheimer's took its toll on Papa, and Nana, on a daily basis. My grandparents were married for 63 years, and they were together at every turn. Nana lovingly and loyally saw Papa through his bout with Alzheimer's (with the amazing help of some special care-givers at the Gardens in Forest Grove).

  While his last several years might be my most recent memories -- Papa stricken with Alzheimer's. The memories I treasure, and remember the most are: stealing his comb out of his back pocket (his white hair was always perfectly combed), playing catch with him, having him in the stands of my many sporting events, going out to his garden (and even eating the veggies that came from it -- I knew I had to at least try it if it was 'from Papa's garden'), frequent trips to DQ for a peanut buster parfait (for him) and a blizzard (for me), family vacations to the Oregon Coast, and of course, hearing the story (or was it stories?) of his lost index finger.

Hanging in Papa's garden with my cousin Robbie.
  Those are the memories of Papa I keep close.

   Unfortunately, Alzheimer's took Papa from us too soon. My hope, with the help of fundraisers like the Walk to End Alzheimer's and other efforts, research will continue, and Alzheimer's will cease affecting the lives of our loved ones.

The Walk's History
  In 1989, the first Memory Walk took place, with nine Alzheimer’s Association chapters raising $149,000 from 1249 participants.  By 1993, Memory Walk had grown into a nationwide event and raised $4.5 million at 167 locations.

  More than 39,000 teams participated in 2011 in 650 walks across the country, raising more than $47.2 million. The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way in the fight against the disease.

What is the Walk to End Alzheimer's?

Our Effort
  If you're in the Portland area this September 8th, please come join us at Portland International Raceway for the Walk to End Alzheimer's! I'm still learning more about the event, but will be posting updates and details as they become available.

  The walk is free to participate in. But even if you can't join us, my family's team -- Papa's Team, would love a donation on Papa's behalf. 

  Visit our team page for more information on the walk, donating, and event details. If you're outside the Portland area, you can even check to see if there's a walk coming up in your neck of the woods!

Event Details

2013 Walk to End Alzheimer's Portland, OR
Date: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Location: Portland International Raceway
1940 North Victory Boulevard
Portland, OR 97217
Coordinator: Kara Busick
Phone: 503-416-0209

Friday, July 12, 2013

6 Super Spices

  Spices are an easy, and healthy, way to add immense flavor and taste to our food. They don't add calories, yet they pack some serious spice and seasoning. What is often overlooked in regards to spices are the tremendous health benefits that can be reaped by using a select few on a regular basis.

  Did you know that many spices naturally have anti-inflammatory properties and are powerful antioxidants? Check out these six super spices that not only add some flavor to your meal, but benefit your body as well! 

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”  -- Hippocrates

A couple sprinkles a day can help keep the doctor away.
Dried Red Pepper:
  Capsaicin (the stuff that makes it spicy!) allows dried red pepper flakes to fight inflammation. Generally speaking, the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. Capsaicin can also reduce the formation of blood clots by preventing platelets from clumping together, and help clear congestion.

  Dried red pepper flakes may lower the risk of skin and colon cancers, as well as type 2 diabetes. Some studies show it also helps people lose weight because the spicy flavor suppresses appetite.

  Try it on pasta or pizza. I even spice up my chicken with it every once in a while! However, if heat's not for you, you may want to pass on the dried red pepper flakes. 

  As I previously blogged, just 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon a day can lower blood sugar levels, and helps type 2 diabetics lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.

  Like dried red pepper flakes, cinnamon also has anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory properties (ladies, it can help with cramps). Cinnamon is anti-microbial as well, and can help stop the growth of bacteria and fungus.

  Try cinnamon sprinkled on oatmeal, applesauce, or even in coffee.

Ground Cumin:
  Cumin is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant (rich in vitamin C) that may help stop tumor growth. It can also aid with iron deficiency since each teaspoon provides 4 milligrams of iron.

  Cumin also facilitates the digestive process, as it activates the salivary glands in our mouths.

  Try cumin in tacos, on sauteed vegetables, or use it as a rub on meats. 

Your spice rack could aid your medicine cabinet.
   Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic food. It provides manganese, iron, vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber.

  Turmeric contains an active component called curcumin, which allows turmeric to have wide-ranging benefits. Regular use of turmeric reduces risks of prostate, skin, breast, colon, and stomach cancers. Childhood leukemia risks go down, and so do risks of heart disease and Alzheimer's.

  Try turmeric in soups, stews, lentils, or curry dishes.

   Ginger is renowned for effectively treating various gastrointestinal distresses. It can stop nausea and relieve heartburn and bloating. Research has also shown ginger to aid the relief of migraines and morning sickness.

  Try grating fresh ginger onto stir-fries, into salad dressings, or in lemonade or tea.
   Nutmeg, like cinnamon, has a variety of health benefits. It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, along with aiding with indigestion relief. If you have achy joints and muscles, or digestion problems, nutmeg might be beneficial.

  It has also long been used to help solve the age-old problem of insomnia. Try nutmeg powder in milk before bed to help get a good night's sleep.

  Nutmeg may also help fights listeria, E. coli, and salmonella according to research.

  Try nutmeg in soups of chicken dishes, or on sweet potatoes.

  As always, there's no need to go overboard, and dump piles of ginger or nutmeg into everything you eat (as too much of anything can cause harmful side effects)! But definitely check out the healthful benefits you could be missing out on. If there's something I've touched on that looks interesting, or might help you out, research it yourself, and give it a shot!

  At the very least, you'll add a little more flavor to your life, and discover new ways of cooking tired recipes. 

Let me know what you think!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Title IX: Game Changer, Life Changer

Last June's Title IX Celebration at Nike.

  Before I was even born, lawmakers were looking out for me, ensuring that my tall self would be able to play sports. I've previously written about the impact sports, namely basketball, has had on my life (Following Your Passion).

  Not many days pass where I don't remind myself how lucky I've been to be able to pursue the career I have, and be able to do what I love for a living.

  Participating in basketball helped give me an identity, a platform, a passion, it improved my self-confidence, and provided me with countless incredible experiences -- that continue to this day.

  So you'll have to understand, I firmly believe that every boy and girl should be allowed those same experiences growing up. 

The Law
  In 1972, a piece of legislation was passed in the US that changed the entire landscape for girls and women in sport. Title IX, ironically enough, was not written with athletics in mind. 
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
  Simply stated, Title IX requires gender equity for boys and girls in every educational program that receives federal funding.

  When it was first written, Title IX was meant to address equal funding and access in 10 different areas: Access to Higher Education, Career Education, Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students, Employment, Learning Environment, Math and Science, Sexual Harassment, Standardized Testing and Technology.

  But where girls and women really took advantage of the new law, was in the realm of athletics: Title IX has become synonymous with girls' participation in sports.

She climbed Mt. St. Helens. I think my mom would have liked sports too.
Evolution of Girls' Sports
  Prior to Title IX's passage, the accessibility to sports by females, many times, was dependent on what part of the country they lived.

  For example, my mom, who grew up in Portland, didn't have access to team sports in high school. She could swim, play tennis, run track, or play golf.

  In the Midwest and East, girls were able to play team sports, like basketball (correct me if I'm wrong), but it was the half court, six-on-six variety.

  Across the board however, once girls graduated high school, their chances to continue playing dwindled.

  My mom grew up in a family of athletes (my uncle Mike played football at UW, and my uncle Rob played professional baseball). But because she grew up in a pre-Title IX era, my mom wasn't afforded those same opportunities.

Not an easy hike, as you can see!
  I know she would have loved participating in sports (for many reasons), if only to have been able to answer 'yes' to the countless people who have asked her 'you're tall, do you play sports?'. (Not to say that if you're tall you HAVE to be an athlete, or that athletes can ONLY be tall. But you know how many times people are asked 'do you play basketball?' even if you are just a little bit taller than average!)

  Fast forward to today's America, there are over 3 million girls participating in high school athletics (versus 294,015 one year prior to Title IX becoming law), and nearly 170,000 female varsity collegiate athletes (compared to just 29,972 in 1971).

  For those who argue that Title IX takes away from boys/men's sports, both statistics have risen on the male side too.

  While the arms of Title IX don't touch professional sports in the US, you can't help but think that the law has also had an impact on professional women's sports as well. Now, we have collegiate and professional female athletes in the public eye, setting examples for the next generation of athletes.

  Girls' athletics have progressed exponentially in the 40 years since Title IX's passage. And if we keep playing, and keep encouraging young girls to play, women's sports will continue to boom. 

Benefit of Sport
  Participating in athletics has far greater impact than solely what happens on the court or the field. Sure, playing the game is great, but there are aspects to sports that go far deeper than just playing a game. The benefits of girls' participation in sports is immeasurable, but here are a few of proven benefits:
  • higher than average levels of self-esteem and lower levels of depression.
  • reduced rates of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders.
  • learn valuable life skills that will be useful later in life. Women will learn to collaborate with others, dedication, and perseverance.
  • female athletes have better grades and higher graduation rates than non-athlete females.
  • teenage female athletes are less likely to illicit drugs, less likely to be suicidal, less likely to smoke and more likely to have positive body images than female non-athletes.
  • young women who participated in sports were more likely to be engaged in volunteering, be registered to vote, feel comfortable making a public statement, follow the news, and boycott than young women who had not participated in sports.
  The world of athletics is far-reaching, and can impact girls' lives every way imaginable.

Shy, first grade me.
Title IX's Impact on Me
  I grew up watching and admiring the local high school athletes in the Portland area. As I grew older, my eye turned to the collegiate and Olympic ranks for role models: the Oregon State women's basketball team, the 1996 US Women's National team with Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, and Katy Steding (who hailed from my hometown of Lake Oswego).

  Those athletes looked like me, they were women I could identify with, and strive to be like.

  Watching them helped me realize there was a lot that could be done on the basketball court. And if I wanted, the game could take me many, many places. It seemed the more I watched them, the more I wanted to play. And in turn, the more I played, the better I became.

2006-07: Playing in Poland.
  Sports opened up a whole new world to me. Who knew that years later, I'd still be playing, and doors would still be opening. Without Title IX, none of that would have been possible. Maybe there would have been sports to play, but certainly not to degree that they are played today.

Title IX Celebration
  Last summer, I was invited to participate in a Nike event celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Title IX. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. Help promote athletics to youth, while at the same time celebrating all
the female athletes that came before me? I was thrilled to be included!

With Stella at Nike event.
  I took my then-eight year-old niece Stella with me. We had a fun day at the Nike World Headquarters playing basketball, celebrating Title IX and all the athletes who have benefited from its passage. I tried explaining the importance of Title IX to Stella, but I'm sure she'll need a few reminders at some point.

    She met Lisa Leslie and played basketball with her daughter, saw giant posters of Maria Sharapova, Abby Wambach, Allyson Felix, and Hope Solo throughout the WHQ campus. Now, maybe a new world has opened to Stella, and the other girls (and boys!) who participated in the event that day too.

Stella under Lisa Leslie's banner.
  To be honest, I don't know how you can argue against Title IX (but I guess I might be biased). Why
shouldn't every child, boy or girl, have the same opportunities? If institutions weren't forced to fund girls/women's sports in 1972, why should we believe that they would have eventually done it out of the goodness of their hearts?

  Politics aside, girls participating in athletics results in great things for everyone.

  While there are still disparities in funding and other areas (coaching, for example: The Glass Wall), women's athletics has come a long way in 40 years. I think it's important to keep Title IX in the forefront, and not let the law that has impacted so many lives in such a profound way fall by the wayside.

  I grew up playing basketball in the front yard with my dad and brother, and soccer, baseball, and basketball with the boys (and a few other girls) on the playground at recess. I don't know how we develop an interest in one thing over another. But just having the opportunity to play, and being allowed to make the decision for myself, was a life changer for me.

  I'm grateful for the world of athletics being opened to me. So here's a big thanks to the proponents of Title IX, and the athletes who paved the way for me!

History of Title IX
Title IX: Get the Facts
Athletic Statistics

Nike released a new film entitled “Voices” to celebrate women in sport on the 40th anniversary of Title IX:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"There are different paths to EVERY destination" -- Job Hunt Thoughts

  I officially announced my 'retirement' just over a month ago. So I guess you can say I've been on the job hunt ever since. Though, the word hunt sounds intensive and stressful, it really hasn't been that.

  Roughly one month in, and already faced with a few learning experiences, I thought now was as good a time as any to share some thoughts.

  I had a summer plan, or so I thought. To take things slowly, not rush into anything, put some feelers out there (wherever there is), and figure out what I really wanted to do.

  But like many plans, mine quickly was thrown by the wayside. Mostly because opportunities arose. And also because I started getting a little antsy (so much for taking things slowly, huh?). I suppose I am more anxious to get on with the next part of my life than I initially thought I would be.

Swimming with Sofie over 4th of July weekend.
  As I've gotten myself into the networking, connecting, job hunt world I've encountered a few difficulties. Not huge mountains to climb, but there have been a few common denominators that have arisen.

  Don't get me wrong, the positives have immensely outweighed the negative. Family members, friends, mentors, etc have been gracious enough to give me their time and their ear. I value and rely upon their experiences to guide me in this journey a great deal.

  1) The first stumbling block I've come across is my 'lack of experience'. I find the different reactions, and vibes, I get regarding my ten years abroad as a professional basketball player interesting. It is seen as a negative entirely too much -- in my opinion, of course.

  How can it be a negative? Sure, I lack the work place experience that many people my age already have already garnered. I will be the first to acknowledge that. So let's acknowledge it, and move on to how how that experience is a positive.

  Here's why I'd prefer to focus on the positive side: What was I supposed to do, turn down the opportunity to play professional basketball? I don't think so. I worked my tail off, and sacrificed a lot growing up so I could get to the point of being able to play professionally. Pursuing, and enjoying, that career was only natural.

Taking advantage of auntie time!
  I would like to think, through my 10 years overseas, I bring a great deal more to the table than a kid fresh out of college. (Here's where I'd insert all the positive things about my career oversea -- my international perspective, my ability to adapt quickly and succeed, and so on -- but tooting my own horn isn't what I'm here for.)

  What I need is for a potential employer to understand my time and experiences in Europe outweigh any negatives.

  I find myself echoing the sentiments of the people I have just talked to. If they are positive, I come away with a positive outlook. If they dwell on my lack of experience, I find myself thinking I'm in for a long, uphill battle.

  Maybe that is me, my responsibility. I need to hold myself accountable, and force the conversations to remain focused on what I will bring to the position. And not allow a question mark to enter into the equation.
“If you celebrate your differentness, the world will, too. It believes exactly what you tell it—through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. Expect to be accommodated."
-- Victoria Moran                                  

Beautiful sights of Boulder.
  2) The second stumbling block I have encountered is that I'm not nearly narrow-minded enough. Call it not having a clear vision. But it seems that I don't know exactly what I want to do. I believe I'm getting closer, and that vision is becoming clearer. But still, there are details to work out!

  I understand that a wishy-washy, unfocused person is nearly impossible to deal with. And that is not what I want to convey. I have been working diligently to familiarize myself with some potential job areas. It's not easy navigating through the different languages that each job description comes with. But again, this is where I rely on friends and family to help clarify.

On the lake for fireworks -- July 4th.
  I knew this transition, and in turn, this job hunt, wouldn't be a cakewalk. Every situation I have encountered thus far has been a new experience for me. I'm taking baby steps and learning a great deal as I go along. It's only been a month, but I'm positive I'm headed in the right direction!

  Shout out to my friends and family who have been willing to offer up advice and guidance! You don't know how much I appreciate your time and input!

  Here's to a resilient, patience-filled journey!