Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Signs of an Abuser

Dear Abby periodically publishes the signs of an abuser.  If you recognize these signs in your partner, call the national Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free at 800-799-7233.  Here is Abby’s list: 

(1) PUSHES FOR QUICK INVOLVEMENT: Comes on strong, claiming, "I've never felt loved like this by anyone." An abuser pressures the new partner for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.
(2) JEALOUSY: Excessively possessive; calls constantly or visits unexpectedly; prevents you from going to work because "you might meet someone"; checks the mileage on your car.
(3) CONTROLLING: Interrogates you intensely (especially if you're late) about whom you talked to and where you were; keeps all the money; insists you ask permission to go anywhere or do anything.
(4) UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: Expects you to be the perfect woman and meet his every need.

(5) ISOLATION: Tries to cut you off from family and friends; accuses people who are your supporters of "causing trouble"; the abuser may deprive you of a phone or car or try to prevent you from holding a job.

(6) BLAMES OTHERS FOR PROBLEMS AND MISTAKES: It's always someone else's fault if anything goes wrong.

(7) MAKES EVERYONE ELSE RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS OR HER FEELINGS: The abuser says, "You make me angry" instead of, "I am angry" or says, "You're hurting me by not doing what I tell you."

(8) HYPERSENSITIVITY: Is easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings when he or she is really mad. Rants about the injustice of things that are just part of life.

(9) CRUELTY TO ANIMALS AND TO CHILDREN: Kills or punishes animals brutally. Also, may expect children to do things that are far beyond their ability (whips a 3-year-old for wetting a diaper) or may tease them until they cry. Sixty-five percent of abusers who beat their partner will also abuse children.

(10) "PLAYFUL" USE OF FORCE DURING SEX: Enjoys throwing you down or holding you down against your will during sex; finds the idea of rape exciting.

(11) VERBAL ABUSE: Constantly criticizes you, or says blatantly cruel things; degrades, curses, calls you ugly names. This may also involve sleep deprivation, waking you up with relentless verbal abuse.
(12) RIGID GENDER ROLES: Expects you to serve, obey and remain at home.
(13) SUDDEN MOOD SWINGS: Switches from sweet to violent in a matter of minutes.
(14) PAST BATTERING: Admits to hitting a mate in the past, but says they made him (or her) do it.
(15) THREATS OF VIOLENCE: Says things like, "I'll break your neck" or "I'll kill you," and then dismisses them with, "Everybody talks that way" or "I didn't really mean it."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Focus on Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is not an easy topic to discuss.  Nevertheless, it’s a lot more widespread than most of us realize, affecting people of all socioeconomic levels, races, and religions.  We probably all know someone who has been a victim of domestic abuse, whether we know it or not.  The overwhelming majority of domestic abuse victims are women, but there are a few men, too.  Also, children often are involved; even if they are not physically harmed, they suffer from being in an abusive environment.

Personal stories are usually the best way to connect with something important, but on this sensitive topic, it’s often hard to share such stories publicly.  That’s not because the victims should be ashamed; they have done nothing to deserve abuse.  However, it’s understandable that victims might not speak openly, perhaps because they fear for their safety.  But the rest of us can speak out.  Here are some statistics from the website of the Partnership Against Domestic Violence:

·       Nearly 5.3 million intimate partner victimization occur each year among U.S. women ages 18 and older. This violence results in nearly 2 million injuries and nearly 1,300 deaths. – Centers for Disease Control, 2003
·       One in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime. – Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2006.
·       On average, more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States. – Catalano, Shannan. 2007. Intimate Partner Violence in the United States. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
·       In 2008, a 24-hour survey of domestic violence programs across the nation found that over 60,000 victims were served in one day. Unfortunately, due to a lack of resources, there were almost 9,000 unmet requests for services. – Domestic Violence Count 07 A 24- hour census of domestic violence shelters and services across the United States. The National Network to End Domestic Violence (Jan. 2008).

·       15.5 million children in the United States live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year. Seven million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred. – Whitfield, CL, Anda RF, Dube SR, Felittle VJ. 2003. Violent Childhood Experiences and the Risk of Intimate Partner Violence in Adults: Assessment in a Large Health Maintenance Organization. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
·       Boys who witness domestic violence in their own home are three times more likely to become batterers. – Straus, M.A., Gelles, R.J. & Steinmetz, S. Behind Closed Doors. Doubleday, Anchor, 1980.
·       In homes where partner abuse occurs, children are 1,500 times more likely to be abused. – Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Family Violence: Interventions for the Justice System, 1993

Teen Dating Violence
·       One in three teenagers report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their partner. – Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.
·       Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup. – Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.
·       If trapped in an abusive relationship, 73 percent of teens said they would turn to a friend for help; but only 33 percent who have been in or known about an abusive relationship said they have told anyone about it. – Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.
·       Nearly 80 percent of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relationships continue to date their abuser. – City of New York, Teen Relationship Abuse Fact Sheet, March 1998

In The Workplace
·       Domestic violence causes American employees to miss 175,000 workdays per year.
·       Abusive husbands harass 74 percent of employed battered women at work, either in person or over the telephone.
·       The costs of intimate partner violence against women exceed an estimated $8.3 billion. These costs include nearly $4.1 billion in direct costs of medical and mental health care and nearly $1.8 billion in the indirect costs of lost productivity. – Centers for Disease Control, 2003

Domestic abuse victims may have needs ranging from a safe escape plan to medical treatment to employment training.  In A Year of Centuries, I am highlighting the need for dental treatment and facial surgery in victims of domestic abuse.  The Face to Face program of the Partnership Against Domestic Violence provides these services free of charge.  If you would like to make a donation, please mail a check to

New Image Dental Laboratory
1395 Southlake Parkway
Morrow, GA 30260

Please note on your check that it is for domestic violence patients.  Thank you for helping these women start regaining their self confidence and building better lives for themselves.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

First Ride in A Year of Centuries – A Benefit for Face to Face/Partnership Against Domestic Violence

Woo hoo!  Great first ride in A Year of Centuries!

Here Comes the Sun
There aren’t too many rides I’ve done in January without leg or arm warmers.  It was 61 degrees when the group started at 9:00 A.M.  When I finished at about 2:30 P.M., it was 79 degrees.  I’ve ridden in plenty of cold weather and willingly would have done so today, but it sure was wonderful to get to ride on this unseasonably warm and beautiful day.

Rocket (Wo)man
You might think it’s necessary to eat tons of calories on a century, but it’s really not.  The main thing is to fuel consistently.  For me, that’s about 200 calories per hour.  Usually, I eat something about every 1½ to 2 hours.  Today I had Claxton fruitcake and Dr. Lim’s rice cakes.

Recently, my husband Robert heard a radio interview with the owners of one of the fruitcake bakeries in Claxton, Georgia.  They said that, as you’d expect, their clientele is on the older side.  However, they have started marketing their fruitcake to younger endurance athletes.  Robert and I decided to give it a try, and it works great. 

Another recent addition to our bike food repertoire is Alan Lim’s rice cakes.  Dr. Lim is a trainer for some of the pro cycling teams, and he has come up with a rice cake recipe that’s a good balance of carbohydrates and proteins, which is important on long rides.  The rice cakes consist of cooked sushi rice (stickier than regular rice, which helps hold the cakes together), cooked bacon, scrambled eggs, soy sauce, Parmesan cheese, and a little brown sugar.  You press it into a pan, cut it into squares, and wrap individually to take on the bike.  It really tastes good to have something savory on the ride to contrast with the sweetness of Clif Bars, Gu, etc.

Here’s a photo of today’s bike vittles:

I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends
And now for the best part, the ride itself.  During the winter, Robert and I do long rides on Saturdays with our cycling group in Macon.  These winter training rides are called the Peach Peloton.  Today’s PP ride was already planned to be 95 miles, and so all I had to do was add a few more.  Here are some of the guys in the parking lot before we rolled out:

As always, it was a challenging yet satisfying PP ride.  These guys are some of the best cyclists in Middle Georgia, and I really enjoy the good workouts and their excellent companionship.  We usually ride two abreast, except when we have to ride single file on short stretches of busier highways that connect the less traveled roads.  When we’re two abreast, the front two people pull a while and then gradually fade to the back.  Everyone behind the front riders gets to take advantage of the draft effect.  This goes a long way to equalize the energy output between riders of varying abilities.  I’ve learned that on these long rides, I don’t need to be up front pulling because it uses too much of my energy.  When I make it to the front, I immediately roll off, letting the stronger riders ahead of me.  The guys are totally cool with this.  In fact, they respect you a lot more if you know your limits and ride within them.

Given all this, I still often get dropped from the group.  (I always study the route ahead of time as well as have my phone with me to make sure that I can find my way home!)  Today I made it to mile 71 when I cracked.  Even so, I’m very happy with the way I rode.  When I got dropped, we were averaging 21.7 mph.  Holy moly!  If I were riding by myself, I would be happy to average 17 mph.  That gives you an idea of how much faster you can ride with a group because of drafting.

A couple of guys popped at the same time I did.  Once I slowed my pace, I immediately felt like I could keep going for a while.  Things were good.  It got even better.  Gabe, one of the strong riders, hung back to help me and the other two who had popped.  That was really nice of him.  The four of us worked together to get back to the parking lot.

When we were a mile or two from the end, Robert and our friend Chad Davies joined us.  (They had already finished with the front group.)  Robert and Chad are on the Georgia Neurosurgical racing team.  They provided the Georgia Neuro Century Escort Service, accompanying me on the last five miles I needed to make it a century.  Thanks, y’all!  That really meant a lot to me J

I also have to give a special shout out to a couple of my other riding buddies.  One is Tom, who also had a bad bicycle accident last year.  He was on a cross-country ride, and about 10 days into the trip, he crashed on a steep descent.  He had some bad injuries, including a broken pelvis, which required several months of recovery.  He’s been back on the bike for a good while now, but today was the first opportunity I’ve had to ride with him since his crash.  It was good to be with him.  Props also go to Sidney, who rode his first century ever today!  Way to go, Sidney!

As I rode and appreciated my friends’ help today, I couldn’t help but contemplate on how much my friends did to help me through the toughest days of recovery from my crash.  These were my cycling friends plus friends from many other parts of my life.  They prayed for me, sent me cards and e-mails, called me, and brought food to me.  I couldn’t have made it without you all.  Thank you again to each of you.

I send today’s ride out as a prayer for the women who have or will receive treatment through the Face to Face program of the Partnership Against Domestic Violence.  May they experience healing and new life.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Start Something That Matters

Have you heard of TOMS shoes?  They are cute and very comfortable, coming in several styles and lots of colors and patterns.  Check out my latest pair – math shoes!

What I like best about TOMS, however, is that for every pair of shoes you buy today, TOMS donates a pair of shoes tomorrow to a child who needs them.  (The company name comes from TOMorrow’s Shoes = TOMS.)  Children in developing countries can contract diseases through cuts in their feet when they have to go barefoot, and so a simple pair of shoes can keep a child healthy.  TOMS isn’t in it just for the profit; they are socially responsible at the same time.  What a great business model!

I started buying TOMS several years ago when I read about them in Heifer International’s magazine.  Last month when I wanted to buy some more TOMS, they were having a special promotion.  With a minimum purchase, you could get a free copy of Start Something That Matters (SSTM).  In this book, entrepreneur and TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie explains how he started the company and encourages the rest of us to start something that matters, whether it’s a business or other endeavor.  It sounded like this would be the perfect inspiration as I kick off A Year of Centuries.  I was right!

SSTM focuses on businesses, but it also emphasizes that all of us can do good things.  I’m becoming more and more aware that we can incorporate service and giving into all aspects of our lives, even hobbies.  I love riding my bicycle; how much better that I have figured out a way to help others at the same time.  It doesn’t even have to be that big.  If you need to buy yourself a pair of shoes anyway, why not help a child at the same time?  Or if you’re going through the checkout at the grocery store and they are collecting for the Special Olympics, why not donate a dollar or two?  The opportunities abound.  My challenge to you is to look for ways to give of yourself every day, maybe by just slightly reshaping something you’re already doing.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Gearing Up

Originally, I planned to ride my first century today, the first Saturday of the month.  However, a couple of months ago Robert and I planned a vacation (our first full week off in 2½ years!), and since we didn’t get home from the airport until nearly 2:00 A.M. this morning, I decided to wait until next Saturday to ride my January century.

I am ready to ride!  This is partly due to my growing anticipation, but also I’m hoping that the five days of riding we just did in Costa Rica will put me in great form to ride next week.  We were on an organized cycling trip with a company called Backroads.  We rode in the central portion of Costa Rica, which has volcanic mountains running the length of the country between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.  That meant LOTS of climbing, which I enjoyed very much.  One day we even climbed the continental divide, comparable to at least the Three Gap Fifty, probably closer to the Six Gap Century.  (These two rides are held in conjunction annually in Dahlonega, Georgia.)

Looking down at the clouds as we crossed the Costa Rican continental divide

Another reason my trip prepared me for A Year of Centuries is because of a New Year’s tradition common in Costa Rica and other Hispanic countries.  As the clock counts down the last 12 seconds to midnight on New Year’s Eve, you eat one grape per second, making a wish for the coming year with each grape.  It was a natural for me to wish for 12 excellent centuries and good exposure and generous donations for my 12 charities.

Well, the grape countdown was a good idea in theory. Usually, people use smaller, seedless grapes for the New Year’s countdown, but our group had rather challenging grapes – large and with seeds.  On about grape 8 or 9, I was laughing so hard that grapes were about to come out of my nose!

I didn’t get all 12 grapes eaten within the 12 seconds, but I hope it doesn’t matter anyway since we did this at 10:00 P.M.  (With our active schedule all week, none of us could stay awake until midnight.)  I hedged my bets and also followed the New Year’s tradition of the Southern U.S., eating some blackeyed peas and collard greens at lunch the next day.  Even if Robert thinks I’m loco, I’m glad I packed those cans in my suitcase.