Freedoms to remember on Memorial Day

Today’s Memorial Day in the U.S., a day when the country commemorates soldiers who have died in military service.

As an American, I know we have a tendency to sound like we’re obsessed with freedom. It’s a word that’s bandied about by politicians, newscasters and citizens who happen to be walking down the street when a journalist sticks a microphone in their face and asks their opinion on something.

This week, though, I’ve been thinking an awful lot about freedom, particularly the freedoms I take for granted and the courageous people willing to risk dying as they fight for the right to live their own lives – whether they’re in the military or not.

This post is to celebrate those amazing people.

People like Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi Arabian woman who is in jail right now for driving. She had posted videos of herself on YouTube and was organizing a protest against the ban on women driving in the kingdom. Women in Saudi Arabia are planning to get behind the wheel of a car and taste the same freedom I did on my 16th birthday. I’ll be cheering them on at the Saudi Women Driving Campaign Facebook page.

In Syria, protestors have been facing bullets and terrible indignities as they demand respect for their basic human rights. Amnesty International recently released video footage people risked their lives to smuggle out of the country so the world would know what was happening.

Freedom of movement. Freedom to protest.

While I know I don’t live in a perfect country, and I believe there are a vast number of civil liberties we still need to demand and others we must vigilantly protect in the U.S. and U.K., I’m thankful for the people in generations before mine who fought so hard to give me so many liberties in the first place.

To the women who proved we could study for degrees and make an intellectual contribution to society. To the suffragettes who fought for my freedom to vote. To the flight attendants who first used Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to fight for less discrimination against women in the workplace. To the activists who fought – and continue to fight – for a more equal society.

To all those who struggled so I can live my life – thank you.

To those still struggling, I admire you more than I can say.

Movember giveaway winner!

Many thanks to the people who sponsored my husband’s mustache-growing effort to raise money for prostate cancer research and education. In total, he’s raised £637, and you all contributed £55 to that!

The winner of the free books is…Alix!

Anyone interested in seeing my hubby’s final ‘tash can check out his Movember page. He just called me to say that he’s shaved it off. No more ‘tash rash for me.

Thanks again, everyone!

Giveaway! Go ahead, make my Movember

Button with words "Fire up the mustache"

Giveaway now closed!

I can’t stand mustaches. They rarely look nice. They’re abrasive when you’re kissing. And they sometimes carry the remnants of the bearer’s lunch.

But even more than I hate mustaches, I hate the thought of any disease that could hurt my husband and possibly take him away from me.

So in the month of November, as my husband grows a mustache to raise money for prostate cancer research and education, I’ll do everything I can to support him. Even if it means kissing his hairy face.

Other than trying not to cringe when his rough upper lip rubs against mine, I’m supporting him by having a giveaway on the blog. If you donate to Tim’s fundraising efforts and leave a comment on this post to let me know about it, you’ll have a chance to win a free book.

I’ll choose one donor at the beginning of December, and I’ll buy you the book(s) of your choice up to £15 / $25 U.S. (not including shipping). Or, if you prefer, I’ll send you a gift certificate – perfect for Christmas gifts (or regifting).

Here’s how it works:
1. Make a donation on Tim’s MoSpace page by December 1. You can keep the donation private, if you want to.

2. Then leave a comment on this post using the same name you used on Tim’s MoSpace page so I can verify that you’ve made a donation. You don’t need to say how much you donated, just that you have donated.

3. On December 1, I’ll choose from the comments on this post, and I’ll email that person to ask them what book(s) they’d like. I’ll pay up to £15 / $25 U.S., so if you want two books that are £7.50 each, that’s absolutely fine.

4. The book has to be something I can buy online and have shipped to you using a website like Amazon or Book Depository. Ditto if you’d like a gift certificate.

Please note, since we’re in the UK the donations are calculated in pounds, not dollars. You may want to check a currency conversion website (like xe.com/ucc) so you don’t accidentally pay more than you intended to.

Whether you do it for a man you love, or to bring a big smile to my chafed cheeks, all donations will be very much appreciated. You can give as little as £1.

Find out more about Movember (a name which really only works if you use the British spelling of moustache instead of the American mustache)

Donations go to The Prostate Cancer Charity, which conducts research and supports men and their families.

Image c. Mike Rohde/Flickr

Brenda Novak’s auction rakes in the bucks

File this one under ‘Holy crap, people have lots of money to spend on getting published’.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Brenda Novak’s auction for diabetes research, and how I had no problem setting aside what I could afford to bid on a critique.

Erm, apparently people have a hell of a lot more money than I do. Either that, or they really want to get published, or they REALLY hate diabetes.

The cheapest item on my watch list has a bid of over $100. The critique by Jessica Faust is at $1,060 right now. And there are 18 days left.

So yes, I’ll be doing things the old-fashioned way: with a donation and a query letter.

Not addressed to the same person.

Brenda Novak’s auction o’goodness for diabetes research

I stumbled upon a link on Joanna Bourne’s blog where she mentions that she’s auctioning off a critique. It’s part of Brenda Novak’s 6th annual auction to raise money for diabetes research.

And holy crap if there isn’t a boat-load of goodies on offer – from critiques by agents and editors, to a six-month mentorship with Brenda Novak. Here’s the list of stuff you can bid for. Most of the auctions run throughout May, but some end earlier or only run for one day.

Part of me would feel strange about getting a critique and knowing I only earned it by paying for it. But, as someone who works for a charity and has several diabetic family members (including an uncle who lost a leg because of it), I have no qualms about setting a limit I’m able to donate and hoping I get something out of it. After all, I donate to the charity I work for and others just because it’s the right thing to do, so why not take part in a fun fundraiser as well?

If you bid on something and win, I’d love to know about it. Here’s hoping Brenda raises a million!