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Workshops and resources for women over 50

Think Pink — and NO RAIN!

If you’re in Chicago this weekend, keep your eyes open for walkers in pink. It’s the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer weekend and several thousand (mostly) women will be on the sidewalks trying to walk 26.2 miles on Saturday and 13.1 on Sunday. Honk, wave and appreciate their fund-raising efforts and participants.

I just came back from registration and was delighted in the enthusiasm of the crew and volunteers signing us in. The “thanks” and adulation for participating is overwhelming. Three years ago I walked – didn’t train as well as I did this year, so only made about 21 miles. But was welcomed with the applause of a hero.

There’s magic in participating in an event of this magnitude! First, you are in this selfless community of other people who are giving a huge amount of time and energy for “good” — not for pay, for recognition, for any reward other than emotional and spiritual $$$ in our “heaven banks”.

Second, we have a very challenging personal goal – to walk 39.3 miles in 2 days. If you’re familiar with the concept of Flow, you know that you can achieve this “buzz” when being challenged in something that you do fairly well. So there’s a lot of Flow going on, until…

Third, it gets pretty boring! I submitted a question on requesting ideas on what to think about for the really long time we’ll be walking. Much of the time you’re chatting with other walkers. But at some point around mile 10 you get talked out. And for liability reasons, we can’t wear headphones. So there’s magic in this meditation we move into. That or boredom.

Fourth, we’re walking for a very emotional issue — Breast Cancer. I lost my mom this way in 1982 after a 10 year battle. I’ve had my share of “scares” at mammogram centers over the years, too. So when we’re walking with survivors or people who also lost someone dear, there’s a poignancy you don’t get when walking your dog.

Fifth, the closing ceremonies are HUGE! There’s a sea of pink (walkers), white (survivors) and blue (crew) shirts at Soldier Field when the announcements are made about how much money we raised and what local organizations will be the recipients of the many millions raised.

Sixth – and so important – is the magic of completing something you told yourself you’d do. So many women try to make commitments to themselves, yet commitments to others seem to always come first. The completion of a weekend of walking with total strangers brings closure to the commitment we all made to ourselves. To the walking, the fund-raising, the healthy living and the emotional openness we approached the walk commitment. To our friends who trained with us and made generous contributions. To our families who made their own dinners or breakfasts cause we were out walking.

The Avon Walk takes a lot out of us – but gives even more back. On Monday, in spite of  blisters, sun/wind burn and exhaustion, we’ll be walking a little taller! So show your appreciation if you  see any walkers with loud honking and cheering. They’ll wave back.

(If you want to cheer, get the list of Avon cheering stations here.)

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