Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Running of the Cheese, yes, you heard me right

File Under: Humorous things from across The Pond and Cheese
What's this, you ask?

That would be the Cheese Rolling 2007 Event, from Gloucestershire, England.

I kid you not.

This tip received by a friend who fills a void in my life by passing along stories that either
A) make me laugh or
B) have to do with Cheese.

You see, I have a small addiction to cheese. Most any flavor from around the world (strangely minus Swiss, I prefer their chocolate to their cheese) not only makes me sigh with happiness but also seems to set off a Pavlov's Dog-type of reaction. I see cheese, and I desire it. It's quite sad really, but I look at it as helping to keep the cheesemakers of the world employed.

But back to the Cheese Rolling - it happens every year, as it has for hundreds of years. Competitors chase after 7-8lbs wheel of Gloucestershire cheese down a steep hill. First one to the finish line wins, period.

To see how truly outrageous this event really is, be sure to check out the video from our friends at the BBC, and be prepared to gape, guffaw, and laugh your way through it. Then stop by the BBC page (you'll have to scroll down a bit) and check out all three videos.

It's a jolly good thing those chaps have universal health care!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Reason behind the Season

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, and that just with the rest of our holidays, we all remembered the reason behind it.

I've mentioned this before, but as the daughter of a Vietnam Vet, I hold a high, holy place for those who willing to sacrifice anything for our country, even when we have misguided leaders leading the way.

One of the first pieces I ever wrote was a tribute to our veterans, inspired by Veterans Day, my father, and a proud family history of serving our country. Often regarded as one of the best posts here on LLP, stop by and read For Our Veterans.

Some of you may be readers of the country's largest national liberal/progressive blog, Daily Kos. In addition to my duties here, at Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, and Michigan Liberal, I also volunteer at Daily Kos as a 'Rescue Ranger', and no, it doesn't involve a chipmunk costume. I'm assigned a couple time slots each week where I pour through all of the posts, or diaries, and select some of the best written ones, where they are then highlighted at the end of the day in Diary Rescue. Since there are thousands of diaries written each day, it takes a volunteer force of about 50 of us from all over the country literally working day and night on this.

Yesterday happened to be one of my regular shifts, it was great to see how many average Americans express their joy, sorrow, anger, and frustration all through the written word. I was particularly pleased to be able to rescue A Soldier's Thoughts on Memorial Day by MichLib's own recently returned veteran from Iraq, djtyg.

DJ's even younger than I am, and he's already been to Gitmo, Iraq and Afghanistan, and carries some painful scars. We're grateful to have him back, but now as a Reservist, he's facing too many uphill battles for a job, funding for education, and proper health and career services. I keep him in mind constantly when doing what I can to speak up on better treatment of the military.

There were several other posts that really touched me, and I wanted to share them with you, as they were written to be read, and I hope that you'll also pass them along.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Budget Deal Mutterings

So a deal's been reached, a very temporary deal at that, but one that will leave state employees with their jobs in tact, and won't touch schools, Medicaid, and state trooper jobs.

Good news, right?

Not quite. You can check out the full scoop over at MichLib, but I'm still feeling pretty uneasy.

If I truly believed that we could trust the Republicans in the Senate, then I wouldn't have this queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Sometimes I really wonder whether or not some of our legislators get so consumed with the power that we've entrusted in them, that they liken the state's budget to a really long, drawn out game of Monopoly.

Admitting this really pains me. I love politics, and the entire concept of a government for the people, by the people. I make the fatal flaw of always assuming the right people are involved in the government for the right reasons, and it's times like these that I end up burning myself. What I really find out is that sometimes its the Right people for the Wrong Reasons.

I don't expect everyone to have the same political thoughts and ideology as I do, let's face it, that's not how reality works, and frankly, it'd probably be kind of boring.

What I do expect for our government is to be fighting for everyone, black, white, rich, poor, men, women, gay, straight, young, old. After all, isn't that the whole idea behind a democratic society?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Protecting Our Wallets: My Podcast w/ Sen. Buzz Thomas

Senate Democratic Floor Leader Buzz Thomas (Detroit) was kind enough to sit down with me at the beautiful Cornerstone Coffee in Lansing and discuss the most recent bill he's introduced.

Senate Bill 446, protecting citizens from predatory Refund Anticipation Loans that can suck your wallet dry. As Buzz explains, these loans aren't bad, but Michigan's citizens deserve better protection against some of the fraud that can accompany these loans.

To support this excellent legislation, contact your senator and ask them to vote for Senate Bill 446. Many thanks to Sen. Thomas and his tireless work on behalf of promoting Financial Literacy in Michigan.

Full Disclosure: I'm very proud that my own mother is Chair of the Michigan Jump$tart Coalition, a conglomerate of more than 30 organizations across the state dedicated to increasing Financial Literacy. She's the reason I was down in Detroit for Money Smart Week, sponsored by the Chicago Federal Reserve last month. Thanks, Mom!

Just Full of the Dickens

Sometimes I find that the snark bug bites me early in the morning.

Today is no exception.

If you get a chance to stop by MichiganLiberal this morning, be sure to check out my Fantasy Blogger Baseball - Michigan Senate Style.


I think it's safe to say like every other politico and Michigan citizen, I've had it up to here with this budget two-step that's going on in Lansing. The Senate Republicans can't pull their heads out of the sand, or away from their tube of hair gel - if they're a particular Senate Republican, and it's like watching a bad car wreck. All you can do is stand there and watch this tragedy unfold. Rumors from the capital have frustrated politicians walking around muttering to themselves they are so besides themselves, and who can blame them?

So, my snark meter hits yet another all-time high. Call this a way of dealing with extreme frustration. Some people walk around muttering to themselves, I write snarky commentary. Could be worse I guess.

But in some good news, check out this front-page article from the Lansing State Journal about how local area teens are putting together the very first Gay Prom next month. My heart literally swells with pride when I hear of these young people who are marching forward, despite their state passing two state-wide ballot proposals encouraging hate and intolerance. A special moment of pride to Governor Granholm and U.S. Senator Carl Levin for publicly congratulating them on their hard work. Today's progressive leaders supporting tomorrow's societal leaders, if that doesn't just warm the heart, I don't know what is.

I was all prepared to write what a well-attended event Tuesday's Domestic Partner Benefits March, albeit a sobering one, but with the news from our up-and-coming LGBT community, I'm just going to let it rest at that.

I'll be staying in LucyLand this weekend, continuing with the unpacking of boxes and healing the sinuses that have been continuing to plague me. With a little help from my friends, and apologies to the Beatles, I know I'll still have a great weekend, and won't break the bank buying gas.

Here's hoping your weekend is a fun-filled time, that even our forecasted storms can't dampen!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Taking it to the Streets, and a Possible Right Wing Conspiracy

As I sit here with my big box o' Kleenex, throat lozenges, and remedies for all that ails me, here's a couple thoughts to supplement this morning's Coffee Talk over at MichLib.

Despite my lack of health and energy, I'll be out this afternoon for the Domestic Partner Benefits March over at the Capitol. A big thanks to my friend and fellow Daily Kos Rescue Ranger, Pico, for doing a great diary over at MichLib about it. It's at 3pm, hope you can make it.

There's a new blog on the block, Rust Belt Blues, which is worth you stopping by to check out. Howard's latest post is concerning a possible right-wing conspiracy against Apple. Given all the much ado about nothing that the Repubs drummed up over those iPods, Howard just may have a point. Once you head over, be sure to do like I do, and add Rust Belt Blues to your Bloglines or RSS Reader.

It's a beautiful day out, and I'm hoping that the sun and fresh air will do my sinuses/allergies some good. If nothing else, the exercise will do my body good and continue to help me get in shape for my bike ride.

p.s. I'm still collecting donations to reach my goal of $15,000. Can you help?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Out Sick

Sooner or later, it was bound to happen. I could barely believe that I skated through the entire winter and spring while my "healthy" friends were beleaguered with colds, flu bugs, and nasty viruses, and I was perfectly healthy.

Sure enough. I woke up Saturday morning, nose plugged, scratchy throat, lymph nodes swollen, and my head weighing more than the Acme anvil that always seems to end up on poor Wylie E. Coyote's head. I'm sick.

Miso soup, sushi with extra wasabi, and hot tea are now my good friends, along with Mensch71 who's fussed over me like a good Mother Hen should. This weekend has made me appreciate the little bonuses that come with living in the 21st Century like - heating pads, electric kettles, delivery service from the local sushi place, and Lazy-Boy furniture.

Of course, life wouldn't be life without a clogged kitchen pipe, but many thanks to my friendly local neighborhood handyman who saved me from the toxic sludge that was backing up in my kitchen sink.

As I'm on the mend, here's to you and yours, staying healthy!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Welcome to our friends from Nunavut!

Last week, ScottyUrb from Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott did a piece welcoming his visitors from Kassel, Germany. Out of the hundreds of posts that Michigan bloggers do every week, this piece in particular stood out for several reasons.

1) It was fun to read.
2) It is interesting to see where my blog visitors hail from all over the world.
3) During a summer spent in Europe, I had the opportunity to briefly visit Kassel.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, it is possible to tell several things about people who read blogs and what you discover is pretty fascinating.

Just yesterday, I had a visitor from Iqaluit. For those of you not up to speed on your Canadian geography, Iqaluit is the capital of the newest (1999) Canadian territory, Nunavut, pronounced just like it's spelled - Nun-of-vut.

Besides being a regular vacationer to Canada, along with some very beautiful Michigan spots, I had a class on Canadian government in college. It was a fascinating class, there's something to be said for a three-party form of government and socialized medicine, but learning about Nunavut was one of my favorite parts.

A couple of interesting bits o' info from Wikipedia about Nunavut -
  • Nunavut is both the least populated and the largest of the provinces and territorities of Canada. It has a population of only 29,474[1] spread over an area the size of Western Europe.
  • Nunavut means 'our land' in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit. Its inhabitants are called Nunavummiut, singular Nunavummiuq. Along with Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English, and French are also official languages.
  • They have a unicameral legislative body, with no party system, and its legislature is consensus-based.
  • Nunavut Arctic College has a cool website available to read in either English or Inuktitut.
As it has been for the last couple years, Nunavut remains on my list of places to visit before I die. Anyone for a group trip? :-)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

That's my state senator!

A lot of people think politics are more boring than watching paint dry. I would have to disagree, at least here in Lansing.

I got a chance to sit in on yesterday's Senate debate on the proposed Republican plan to slash K-12 funding. (Hazen Pingree's got the scoop over on MichLib)

There's definitely something to be said about being in the Majority. I'm sure we wouldn't have to deal with half the crap we have if the Democrats were in control of the state Senate. Today's debate about a $36 per pupil cut was like watching a bad car wreck. It was so terrible, you just couldn't peel your eyes away.

I wanted to stand up and clap after my state senator, Gretchen Whitmer took the floor. Here's her statement -
You know, when people talk about the Capitol and they say Lansing is out of touch, I’ve always taken great umbrage with that statement because, well, this is my great city that it’s my pleasure to represent. It’s a city of progressive people and it’s a beautiful city. It’s you people who are giving my city a bad name because it’s you who is out of touch.

A “yes” vote on this bill is a vote for our schools. Seriously? If you want to vote “yes” for our schools, you vote not to cut them. You vote to pay for our schools to live up to the promise which we made to every schoolchild in this state.

This is still a $36 per pupil cut. Money that ya’ll patted one another on the back last fall and said, “Oh, we’ve got a great deal for our schools.” Now you’re taking that back. You say in negotiations the Democrats have reneged. You are reneging to the students of this state by passing this bill.

I saw everyone in this chamber stand up and give Governor Granholm a standing ovation at the State of the State when she said we must not cut our schools. Here we are today, for a second time, you’re offering up to cut our schools. The only reason we’re doing this is because of your inaction. Putting forward a bill you know is unacceptable just says you’re going to continue to put politics over education in our state.

Make no mistake. By voting “yes” on this bill, you are voting to cut our schools.

Thank you Sen. Whitmer, for standing up for me, my city, and my state.

p.s. To see one highlight from last night's Senate train wreck, check out We're not in Cadillac anymore, Toto! on MichLib and see what Sen. Michelle McManus is doing to further the advancement of women in politics *snark*.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Miss you, Friend

Robert Busby
Originally uploaded by Patrick T Power.
Almost two months after the fact, I still can't bring myself to delete his number from my phone.

One of the last conversations we had was me giving him tips on how to decrease the amount of swelling from his upcoming oral surgery, and him laughing that of all the people he knew, I would be a good one to ask about recovering from surgery.

The painting that we both liked, which I just happened to buy before he did, sits on my mantle, still not hung, price tag still on it. When I bought it I didn't know he was thinking of buying it until our friend and fellow Old Town shopkeeper Dan told me. I dropped by the Gallery right afterwards proudly holding my purchase, and giving him a good-natured teasing about getting it first. He just stood there, with his big toothy grin and just laughed his hearty chuckle. He said he already had too many paintings, and it would be perfect for me. He was right, it is. But I almost refuse to hang it, much less peel the price tag off of it, because part of me doesn't want to forget the great moment with him behind a mediocre painting.

We had talked about holding a charity concert at the Gallery to fund raise for my bike ride. I got a really late start on fundraising, in part because it's a bittersweet fundraising challenge without him and just doesn't seem quite right.

He was just like a little kid at Christmas when I showed him the blog post I did about the Gallery, one of the very first on my blog. He was so proud, he showed it off to several people throughout the next couple months, and liked to brag about me being a blogger around his friends.

I go and sit down at Portable Feast, always hoping to see his head pop out from the simple black curtain that separated the Gallery from the Restaurant. I see the locked door that's replaced the curtain, and I grow somber remembering he's gone.

I was driving home today, watching for other drivers as I went through an intersection, and I swear I saw him driving a car that wasn't his. For a split-second I reached up to wave, but sadly realized that my eyes were lying, it couldn't possibly be him.

Not quite two months later, and my heart still aches, still breaks a little each time I realize he's really gone. No more warm hugs, no more cheeky grins. No more waves through the Gallery's front window as I stroll past on Turner Street.

His name, his memory, his legacy of Old Town still vibrantly lives on in his friends, his family, his city, but Robert Busby is gone.

I miss you, friend.

Ad Eternum & Some Brief Bits

Just a couple bits of info to mention -

1) Mensch71 is hosting her annual East Lansing Art Festival Scavenger Hunt again this year, and rest assured, everyone's going to have a blast. No, you don't have to buy anything, but you need to bring your digital camera, as it's a photo scavenger hunt. Some of the things you get points for -

  • Kid on a leash. Bonus points for one parent/guardian with two or more kids on leashes.
  • Metal sculpture of something that can be riden (i.e. bicycle, Harley, large dog).
  • Wind chimes made out of silverware.
  • Best picture of a female based on the theme, "You should COVER that"
  • Best picture of a male based on the theme, "You should COVER that"
  • Person wearing either a tuxedo t-shirt or a tiara. Bonus points if two people so adorned are together; extra bonus if one person is wearing both.
Oh yeah, it's definitely going to be a good one. If you're in the area and looking for a good time, head over to People Are Strange for the full scoop.

2) Drinking Liberally is having our monthly meeting Thursday at 7pm at Reno's East. Hope you'll drop by for a fun time, good spirits, and great people! Visit the Lansing Drinking Liberally Blog for more info.

3) I was sad to hear about one of my more-recent discoveries of favorite local eateries went up in smoke today. Lazeez was a fantastic Middle Eastern-Indian restaurant right over on Grand River just west of Frandor. I had just picked up dinner from there on Monday night. Their Chicken Tikka Masala was awesome, I've still got the leftovers in the fridge to prove it.

4) Bob Barker's stepping down. :-( Okay, yes, the man couldn't have possibly gone on another 35 years on The Price is Right, but gosh, who among us didn't grow up on that show at some point? Both my grandmothers loved that show, and I always thought I could play Plinko and really win a car. Here's to Bob, and always making sure your pets are spayed and neutered.

(Photo - ad eternum Originally uploaded by postpurchase)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Diggin the 'Toons...

Not only is Mike Ramsey a good friend and fellow blogger, as most of you have figured out, I think he's a brilliant cartoonist. With my interest in UK politics, I particularly enjoyed his cartoon today.

Cartoon: Lapdog by Mike Ramsey

Ain't that the truth!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Pollyanna kind of Acceptance

After viewing my most recent appearance on OTR, I was informed that I was "such a Pollyanna". My first reaction was to get offended, but as quickly as my temper began to ignite, I realized it was neither meant as a criticism nor should I take it as an offensive remark.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, or the Haley Mills movie of the 1950's, let me share with you what it means for me.

I'm definitely what you would call an optimistic person. I see the good in everything, and for the most part, everyone. Even the things that I don't like or agree with, I do my best to see the positive side of it.

When many people hear the story of my journey with Crohn's Disease, and all of the battles that consumed my life for over 13 years now and continue to do so, they look at me in bewilderment. How can I possibly be so happy, positive, optimistic, sunny, etc ? I explained a bit last week, but let me venture a little further down this road.

First off, I really thought my life was over at the age of 15/16 when I first received my diagnosis. Many, many times as the angry red seas of pain consumed me I was so desperate for relief that I really just wanted to die. I wasn't suicidal, but I wanted out of my trapped body, and death seemed to be the only way. I cursed God, my genes, the doctors, the nurses, my family, and anything else that made for an easy target of my frustration and utter agony.

I was too much of a fighter to let this disease take it all away, and if nothing else could be said for me, I was a bit of a control freak. I had worked too hard to stay alive and have a good life to let some ridiculous disease end it all.

Somewhere along it all, I realized that 90% of my battle was really about attitude. I begrudgingly accepted this broken down and aching body was mine, and there was very little that I could really control, except my attitude.

It all boils down to a coping mechanism. My 'Pollyanna attitude' is how I cope. Why did I get so sick? Why do I still live with the very real threat that in an instant I could be plunged back down that road of hospitals, tests, and pain should my Crohn's flare back up? Why do I have to live daily with rheumatoid arthritis, constant fatigue, abdominal obstructions that sideline me for days, bizarre allergies, and a body that bares so many scars from my 35 surgeries?

Here's what I think - I think my body serves as a reminder of what I've survived, what I had to endure to get to this point, and precisely what made me the person I am today. I think my aches, pains, and fatigue remind me that as much as my mind would prefer, I am not invincible. It's a trap that we all fall into, especially the young. I'm lucky that time has erased many of the vivid moments of pain, but the haunting memories will forever stay.

I don't know why I survived, but I can guess. I realize everyday that I'm living on borrowed time, and I believe that it's only because I'm supposed to make something good out of that extra time. From the very essence of my core, there's a burning fire within me to change the world.

Wow, how many times have you heard that in a beauty pageant, a young child, or from someone else and just rolled your eyes? Yeah, we all have.

But it's true. If I can be a part of something good, then another piece of the puzzle that is my life suddenly finds its home, and I take one more step forward.

I take the lessons I've learned along the way and do what I can to help out. My life unraveled and here I find myself in the intricate world of policy and government. There's so many possibilities that exist for a better change out there, so many ideas, so many fantastic people working so hard, it makes me want to run in 15 different directions and solve all the world's problems with one fell swoop. But then I wake up, feel the aches and pains, and am reminded that I'm limited to only one or two.

My mother likes to remind me what my life's goal is - balance, between the emotional and physical, the wants and the needs, and reality and the dreams of my future. I believe that I'll never quite achieve perfect balance, but each day I creep a little closer. Until then, there will be more days like this past week on the campaign trail, where I willingly endure the physical pain to accomplish something that gives me peace of mind.

I'm unashamedly part dreamer, part optimist, and part believer. Besides, if it weren't for the Pollyannas in the world, who else would you have to roll your eyes at? :-)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Cruise Director Report: (Finally!) Back on the Tubes

Oy vey, what a week!

I'm pleased to announce that I'm typing from the new HQ of LucyLand, located in the heart of beautiful downtown Lansing. The move went well, albeit hot, humid, and lots of sore muscles later. Many thanks to all of the friends and Sister Dearest for their help.

Before the move, I spent several days down in Cereal City working on a very important Kellogg Community College Board of Trustee's race. I can say without doubt that the most exciting local race I've ever worked on, and just continued to prove what a real impact local races really have on a community. A hearty congrats to the new trustees, Reba Harrington and Jon Byrd, and returning trustee Brian Hice. A special congrats to the man behind the campaign, Dan Fingas. If anyone ever asks me for the name of a solid campaign manager, Dan's name will be the first I'll give out.

While you're surfing the Tubes this weekend, be sure to check out Around the Keg and Lansing's Drinking Liberally blog, and yes, both have to do with alcohol, but are not strictly about alcohol. Be sure to check out Bob's post about the Lunacy of Life Sciences (read: stem cell research) here in Michigan. ATK is billed as "Zen and the Art of Consumption" - check it out.

Before I hop off for the day, I just thought I'd leave you with this interesting factoid of the day.

Ant traps smell like peanut butter.

Ah, the joys of moving! :-)

May's Lansing Drinking Liberally Meeting (5/17)

Join us Thursday, May 17th at 7pm at our new home of Reno's East.

The evening take a more informal tone, spent raising a pint or two in the name of democracy and discussing whatever comes to mind. There will also be information about the various music and arts festivals around the Mid-Michigan area this summer.

Stop by, meet some new friends, sample a glass of Michigan spirits (Bell's, New Holland, Arcadia, etc) and have a great evening out!

Looking forward to seeing you there!

(Cross-posted on the new Lansing Drinking Liberally blog!)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Cruise Director Report: Time off the Tubes

Consider this a housekeeping message - I'm moving and my internet provider isn't moving as quick as I'd like it too, so alas, another lesson in patience, some time to really train for my ride, and a message to you that my appearance here and on Michigan Liberal will be spotty at best.

Best case scenario, I'll post bits here and there, and you won't even know I'm gone.

Worst case - no posts till Thursday/Friday-ish.

I'm hoping to have an update on fundraising for the ride by Tuesday. If I can get to it, I'll post it.

See you back soon!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Off the Record (again) and some odds and ends...

After last week's show about Political Blogging, Off the Record host Tim Skubick has been gracious to invite me back on again this week.

According to MIRS -
- "Off The Record" with Senior Capitol Correspondent Tim SKUBICK, airs on public television stations around the state and will feature Stephanie KORNEFFEL with Gongwer, Inside Michigan Politics Editor Bill BALLENGER, Rick ALBIN with WOOD-TV and Julielyn GIBBONS Liberal Lucy from

Yes, that's right, I'm taking on the MSM! We'll be talking about the budget and I hope that it's as informative as it could be entertaining.

As always, the show will be available online after 12pm, and available throughout the weekend on your local PBS affiliate.

A special thanks to the following fellow bloggers for helping me to promote my Get Your Guts in Gear Bike Ride -
if there's anyone I missed, I'll be sure to add them. Please visit my friends below and offer them a special thanks!

As soon as I know my fundraising total I'll be sure to publish it. Thanks for supporting and more importantly, spreading the word!

Here's to a happy Friday!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

210 Miles, 3 Days, and a Life Dedicated to Making a Difference


I've heard that question so many times in the last 13 years of my life.

Why do I blog? Why am I so politically active? Why am I so positive, up-beat, and passionate?

There's many ways and words in which I could answer those questions with, but I think it all boils down to these few -

I survived.

I've recently been a lot more open about my life, and the circumstances that played into the making of Liberal Lucy. Let me really give you the full scoop.

I grew up in Metro Detroit, the oldest of three, the daughter of an auto-worker and a teacher. I was the girl who was involved in everything. I was a varsity swimmer, traveled to Europe as part of an honors choir, participated on the Debate Team and Model United Nations, founded my high school's first Students Against Driving Drunk chapter, acted in school plays and musicals, active my church's youth ministry program - you get the picture. Classic over-achiever, all-American girl with a great life.

And then I got sick.
And So It Begins

I first developed the strange, embarrassing symptoms at the age of 14. Wrapped in the blissful ignorance that is youth, I decided that if I ignored this interruption to my life, then it would just go away. Of course, reality smacks you in the face and you quickly realize that's not the case.

Being sick wasn't convenient to my busy schedule, and in part fear, part anger, I worked even harder to hide my symptoms from my family over the next year, and more importantly, myself. The downward spiral continued to get worse until my parents started noticing a drastic change in the bundle of energy that was their eldest child. I spent too much time in the bathroom, I was losing weight, my energy level was drastically reduced, and I was barely eating. I don't think anyone will forget that fateful day when I finally had to come clean and tell my parents exactly how sick I really was.

That first visit to my pediatrician led to an appointment with a pediatric gastroenterologist the very next day at Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan, which was followed with the first of many colonoscopies, Upper and Lower GI's, X-rays, blood draws, hospitalizations, steroids, and worst of all, unbearable, excruciating pain.

After an original diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis, the real culprit turned out to be Crohn's Disease. Not just any case of Crohn's, but as doctor after doctor solemnly informed us, one of the worst cases they'd ever seen in anyone, particularly someone my age. My large intestine (colon) and rectum looked like a bloody war had raged for years.

That would be the story of my life for over the next decade. With no known cause or cure, those of us with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, collectively known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, are left to the medical profession's highly paid guessing. I never responded to any of the medications and traditional treatments. Painful new complications and side effects popped up at an alarmingly increasing rate. I developed rheumatoid arthritis, strange food allergies, super-bacterial infections, fistulas, and quite a few close calls where my life literally hung in a perilous balance.

Not an End, But a New Beginning

Despite mind-numbing pain, long periods of deep depression, over 70 hospitalizations and a whopping 35 different surgeries and procedures, I somehow managed to graduate high school on time, go to college, date, fall in love, have my heart broken, travel, lobby Congress and our state Legislature, be a leader within the student government, and have fun. It wasn't easy, and looking back, I know there's a simple explanation for how I did it all.

I didn't give up, I kept fighting, and I believe that God had other plans in store for me.

Ultimately I made a decision that changed my life, and at the age of 19, I decided to have my colon and rectum removed, and live the rest of my life with a permanent ileostomy. While it took me several years to come to terms with this new adjustment, it's a decision that I now celebrate. That surgery finally put my Crohn's into remission, and my body was finally allowed to start healing itself. I can now do more with my ileostomy than I ever could without it, mainly because I can finally live my life, no longer around the auspice of a crippling disease.

I believe that my life is supposed to be more than just that of a chronically ill person. I deal with my illness, the incredible pain, and all of the other terrible things by believing that all of it, the good and the bad, can be used to do so much for others. My life is about making a difference for others. After many years now I believe that I have been blessed with my Crohn's Disease and ileostomy.

I don't measure my life by how many friends I have, the degrees I may or may not attain, or the money and publicity that I may find. I measure my life in the difference that I can make for others.

It is with that spirit that I advocate, blog, and even when it's hard to do, stay positive and up-beat.
Getting My Guts in Gear

It is also with that spirit that for the second year, I ride. For three days next month, I will join others who have Crohn's/Ulcerative Colitis and their friends and family and ride 210 miles in three days.

Fondly known as Get Your Guts in Gear, the ride is designed to educate, advocate and raise money for the millions of us who suffer, and even more tragically, the millions more who will join us with their new diagnosis in the coming weeks, months and years.

Last year I raised over $21,000, despite setting an ambitious goal of $10,000. This year I'm aiming for $15,000. I humbly ask you to support me on this endeavor.

You can visit my ride page online, where you can read more about my story and others, Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, and donate securely online. You can help by spreading the word, and informing others. Chances are pretty good that you know someone yourself with one of these illnesses.

Change can begin on a blog, in the home, on a bike, and always in the heart. Thank you for being a part of this incredible journey.