Introducing: My Passion Project!

Those who know me know that when I am passionate about something, I tend to go “all in!”

Well, Spring has sprung, we beat my fundraising goal (& then some) for the Congenital Heart Walk and now – for something new and fun and literally right in front of our face – I come to you with my latest passion project:  Beautycounter.

Introduced to Beautycounter for the first time after free lipgloss was dropped off at my mom’s house, I was intrigued.  Pepperminty and colorful and just in time for the holidays, I put the free sample in my purse and used it up!

Then, fast-forward to Spring when I heard the Maria Shriver “Meaningful Conversations” podcast with a woman talking about the clean beauty business with a man’s name, my interest peaked again.  This time I did my homework.  I googled Beautycounter,  loved what I saw, learned more and met my nearest consultant and new friend, Melissa. You can meet her and learn about her “why” here!

The rest is pretty much history.  I have done away with all products in my bathroom with the harmful chemicals that appear on “the never list” and even have Seventh Generation everything in our home now: dishsoap, handsoap & even laundry soap is cleaner and safer.  Yes, believe it or not, even my husband is on board!

It’s not about the make-up or facial cleansers and moisturizers, but they’re all so great so far!  It’s about living clean and shopping smart.  Take a look, you’ll be glad you did.  My launch event is a web sale happening right here! right now!

Please feel free to look around, learn something & then share far and wide!
In case you cannot tell, I’m super excited about this!

#BetterBeauty

Color Intense Lipstick in Backstage

9-5 is my favorite shade in lipstick, Fig in the gloss!

Countermatch Adaptive Moisturizing Lotion

#Bestseller!

 

 

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Spring Is Heart Walking Time!

Hello Friends, 

I am blogging today to let you know it’s time to think about Spring (tomorrow IS the first day, right?!) and the Adult Congenital Heart Walk that will take place just over a month from now.
Mark your calendar, The Walk for 1 in 100 is on Saturday, April 27th this year!  Same place, same time.  You’re welcome to join us if you can, it’s a fun morning and you can get some steps in with a gorgeous backdrop.  All of the details are here, and the way to donate is by clicking here!
I hate that I didn’t get this post up during heart month, but life’s been non-stop as of late.  The good news is, I am thriving!
Mom & I were in NYC for a week and caught up with my (now retired) Adult Cardiologist, Dr. Elizabeth Ross for a leisurely lunch.  Very fun!

Next up, Mayo the week prior to the walk to see another fabulous Adult Cardiologist who is set to retire.  I love outliving their careers!

I appreciate your donation to continue the research and care that makes it possible for the 1 in 100 babies born with Congenital Heart Disease to thrive long into adulthood, too!

Thank you for your consideration to support my efforts again this year!

Lots of Love,

Lauren Smith Ridgway

34 Years Tickin’  #1in100
Atrial Septal Defect
Repair, Repair, Replaced 10/30/1985

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Dr. Ross & I in NYC! Retirement looks good on her!

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Mom & Dr. Ross in NYC

My Surgeon & I, Dr. Frank Midgley

Because Life is Short….

“Life is short.”

“The days are long but the years fly by.”

“Everything happens for a reason.”

Really?

Yes, all of that.

Returning from a funeral of a family friend this weekend, I was forced to pause and realize all of these things.

Life is short. Burying his brother at 49 just six weeks ago and now we’re celebrating his life cut too short at 50 simply proves that life is short. 50 is too young. 49 is too young. You simply never know when it’s your time. May we all pass with a smile, doing what we love for hours on end beforehand, with friends, and with sand between our toes!

The eulogies given couldn’t have been better, complete with a power point of hilarious pictures and truly portraying a man who lived life to the fullest as a husband, dad and Rutgers fan! Fitting that Rutgers beat ranked Iowa in Big Ten basketball last night. They won because of, and for Mike! “Let’s go, Rutgers!”

It feels like I hung out with Mike on the balcony overlooking his beloved New Smyrna Beach just yesterday. Laughing and joking and carrying on, larger than life and one thousand percent hilarious, that was Mike and that was a year, almost two, ago. Time flies.

I’m still not at all completely convinced that “everything happens for a reason.” Really? Childhood cancer? Our too young parents receiving a diagnosis they never ever deserved? Really? Mike Herndon of all good people leaving his beautiful wife, two mature handsome boys, a ginormous fan club and cocoon of friends after just turning 50 and after a morning of doing what he loved in the ocean in Puerto Rico? Really? Life’s just not fair. Everything can’t happen for a reason. There’s no reason for this.

On the flip side, however, because after all the darkness there does come some light, there was an amazingly long receiving line, lots of happy tears and too many good long bear hugs to count for Liz and the boys yesterday. God is good.

Hug tighter, for longer. Each & every day.

God Bless You, Michael David Herndon.

You may read the tribute to Mike here and learn how to continue to help the boys.

 

Will It Ever Be Spring?

I’d love a little more motivation from Mother Nature to put a little “spring” in my step.

It’s April now, and in a week we will celebrate my 41st trip around the sun, which I haven’t seen for days.

Hopefully, come April 28th the sun will come out so we can do our annual Adult Congenital Heart Walk in the DC, MD & VA area at Wheaton Regional Park again.  I’m very much looking forward to it, but it sure is hard to get motivated about spring being walking season.

I have forced myself to come to terms with April, me, my health, my heart and walking.  Easter Sunday coincided with April Fool’s, and so, no joke, I got out and went for a long walk around a beautiful neighborhood lake and have every day since.  Mind you, it’s only the 4th, but I hope to loop that lake once a day for a month, at least.

Please join me in my fundraising efforts for the Adult Congenital Heart Association again this year as you have been so good at doing in past years.  The more who join us and walk with us the merrier.  April 28, bright and early at 8:45 a.m. we step off around the beautiful Brookside Gardens, it couldn’t be more scenic and easy to walk!

My fundraising goal is $3300 this year.  $100 for each year since my last surgery.  Every little bit helps and I appreciate your donation from the bottom of my heart!

$41 for 41 years, $33 for 33 years, $100 because it’s nice and round, $10.31 for the date of my last open heart surgery, whatever your little (big) heart desires would be awesome!

Click Here To Donate Now!

THANK YOU!

…one pic for each year since of walking for this great cause!

 

March For Our Lives

Written on Metro en route to the March For Our Lives:

I am not a mom, but moms are not what this March is about.

This is about their kids. This whole tidal wave of outcry and protest is courtesy of our kids. A mom’s kid.

Kids who don’t come home from school on Wednesday. Kids who have created a “black hole” in a classroom by not being there the next week.

Innocent children lost to scary madmen with big guns. It’s all too easy.

I am not a mom. I don’t play one on TV, but in real life I’ve helped raise lots of kids. Kids who are two years old with twin brothers on the way. Kids who are on the brink of 5 who run carefree at an “open air” playground in the City. Kids who are on college campuses and in high school classrooms. I’ve been a carpool mom for many years now and I simply cannot ever imagine arriving to a crime scene or receiving a text that “Beth hasn’t been heard from yet”.

When moms send kids to school and wave as the bus pulls away, or not because the day is already too busy, they expect them to return later that day. What they don’t expect is complete mayhem after receiving a text, or worse, a breaking news alert that there’s a gunman on their elementary school grounds and the place is on lockdown and, no, you can’t come get your kids. It’s like yesterday Columbine happened. I was in college. It’s like this morning Newton happened. Those kids should be marching. Kids younger than those walked out of school on March 14th and I say good for them, but they shouldn’t have to. They shouldn’t know why they had to.

My nephews go to high school in Florida, not necessarily near Parkland, but when it happens in your state it’s like it happens to you. Then just last week it happened in my state. Don’t think it won’t happen in yours. They took their poor 16-year-old daughter off of life support. It had to come to that. Can you imagine?

Watching and listening to the vigil at the Washington National Cathedral was a moving reminder as to why we do this. Carmen’s parents spoke and it was probably the last thing in the world they thought they would do in 2018 would be to have to tell this county and that audience on March For Our Lives-eve about their daughter receiving word that she was a National Merit Scholar the day after she was shot and killed at school. (See their remarks starting at 59:50 mark) But, I’m so glad they’re here and strong enough to tell their story and share their Carmen with the world.

How to go on? What to do next? Is marching the day after the budget vote when Congressmen & Senators have gone to their respective Districts the answer? Will they hear these kids? Who knows. How soon until the next mass shooting? The next school shooting? The next gunfire outbreak at a concert? When will it end? When is enough really enough? Hopefully now. The future is in the hands of our youth. Let’s listen to them. Let’s be inspired by them.

Let’s act and stop with the “thoughts and prayers.”

Fast-Forward to…Written on Metro home from the March For Our Lives:

What an amazing day! Thoroughly inspired. Amazing.

It was not a March as there were definitely too many people. More of a rally, and an uplifting pep-rally at that! The entire stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue (where the President lives!) from 3rd to 12th Street and beyond was chock full of people. White people. Black people. Brown people. Men. Women. Children. Teachers. Democrats. Republicans. Gun owners, even! People who just plain care about kids, their safety and voting out the NRA and all of the representatives bought by the NRA.

And those on the stage: WOW! Articulate. Inspiring. Amazing. Angry. Fired up & Ready to Vote, if not run for office, or better yet, both! Not one person who spoke on that stage must have been 20 years old minus the musical guests. And Lin Manuel & Ben Platt, totally the greatest ever!  Download the song here.  Watch these men on stage here!

It was a day I won’t soon forget and I’m extremely grateful for my friend Davina who survived the Women’s March with me & still wanted to do it all over again. Only this time with an early breakfast meeting place that was empty and worked perfectly.  We walked from breakfast to until we couldn’t walk anymore and ended conveniently right in front of a Jumbotron! Go us! 

Yay kids!

Our future is fine, the kids are alright!

Keep up with them at www.MarchForOurLives.com

A few pictures from this memorable day are here:  Enjoy!

March For Our Lives

So Long, 2017…

Winter Greetings!

This isn’t a blog post about a gal who just turned 40 and it isn’t going to tell you to eat this, not that, to meditate for this long and do yoga this many times a week.

This post is about the year in which I turned 40 and how I intend to make the best of the next 40, so awesome that the year in which I turn 80 a sequel must be written.

This is not just a year in review.  I torture people with those one-pagers with a handful of photos every Christmas card season, but not this year.  More on that later.

This is an “I can’t believe all of this shit happened AND it’s not even mid-December.”

So, let’s work backwards….

In December I had to  have my nose cauterized twice after some majorly long and disgusting nosebleeds, but enough about that.

On November 14th I received a message via the “patient portal.” Heaven forbid the doctor’s office, nurse or nurse practitioner call you herself.  It’s the doctor’s office way of communicating in 2017 – you log in to the portal with yet another username password combination you either forget every time, or have memorized so you don’t have to – and read a lot of medical jargon that ends with: “looks like fibrosis of the liver, let’s draw more bloodwork and scan again in a year.” Fabulous. 

Wait!! I am barely a drinker so nothing, and I mean nothing, should be wrong with my liver of all things.  Come on, I drove the sober ride home program for all four years of college.  What??

October was chock full of a jaunt to the Mayo Clinic full of three days of testing, four flights total and all to be told “Well, you’re not worse, but you are no better either!” Again, what?
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In late July I found myself back to work “fully part-time” as Do More with LES has returned to the real estate world and I am a Team Assistant to The Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates, which is where I began my real estate career, so I feel I’ve returned “home” – every pun intended.  Doing a little bit of everything from meeting the contractors, to coordinating the mass mailing of 288 holiday gifts to satisfied buyers, sellers and referrers.  I am loving it!  Looking to buy or sell your dream home in 2018, give us a call, the team is absolutely terrific! (And I don’t get paid to put that here!)

Skipping around a bit, in late May, early June, after Mayo but before Aunt Betty’s passing, I snuck down to Orlando, Florida to attend the Adult Congenital Heart Association’s annual conference.  This was precisely the break I needed.  Let me back up a little more.
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Father’s Day weekend in June I spent holding vigil at the Montgomery Hospice, a place I pass a thousand times and think “oh the sadness that must come out of that place.” That weekend I lived it. I was there for and with my dear Aunt Betty, just as she was present practically every single time I landed in a hospital throughout my entire life. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her I was there or why, but I know she knew.  She could not have asked to have been surrounded by more love and laughter.  As awful as was the outcome was, our family had a lot of fun and laughs reminiscing that weekend.
AB UH Us

In May, departing on Mother’s Day together with my mother, I made the journey to the medical mecca that is the Mayo Clinic for the first time.  I prefaced the news when telling friends that I was headed there with “yeah, no kid born with a congenital heart defect wants to “grow up” to be “so sick” that she has to go to the Mayo Clinic,” but – I was flattered and excited and nervous and anxious to get there as the place has an excellent reputation.  To say it met and exceeded our expectations is an absolute understatement.  The travel logistics aside, the city of “Rah Rah Rochester,” Minnesota is beautiful.  Friendly people, a lot of history and great blue skies made it just awesome.  We spent Mother’s Day as tourists in Ubers, on trolleys and mostly on foot.  It is hard not to want to exercise when it’s so pretty there and you are there to meet with cardiologists after all!

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April was it, the start to the year that I was turning 40.  I was born in 1977 on Easter Sunday.  My birthday brings in springtime and the most gorgeous time of year.  This year my birthday was on a weekday, so we partied the Sunday prior which was Palm Sunday.  I didn’t want a big bash, I hate surprises, and I don’t drink so my husband put together a small brunch at a great venue in the restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner, overlooking the water in Alexandria.  I bought a new dress online, and it fit, so party we did!

Lucky me!  Everyone I wanted to be surrounded by was there to celebrate with me.  Friends, colleagues, my college “sweetheart,” two brothers, friends and their cute kids, a brother from another mother, even my dear friend and client who had just had her hip replaced!  And at the very end, my friend who is a priest and her wife showed up, complete with collar and palms!  Just a terrific morning!

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That afternoon we went straight to the hospital to visit my grandfather.  I thought he would want to see me that dressed up, so off we went!  He was as fine as could be, albeit a bandaged arm from a failed surgery attempt, and he said “Hey, sorry I missed your party!” I laughed and shrugged it off and gave him the okay and my forgiveness.  I knew he would have been there if the situation were different. It was that day that the nurses told his daughters and me, only because I was hovering, that it was time to call in hospice and that he would likely not return home.

Well, having the nurse mother I do, that nurse was mistaken. He returned to his condo under hospice care, surrounded by his three daughters, me and his wife.  He passed just a few days later.  Selfishly, I am glad it was not on my birthday, as I’m not sure I would have ever recovered from that. I am blessed to have been close by in his final hours and playing a role in overseeing his best loved ones saying their goodbyes. 

It was an hour or two after shift change…  We had Comfort as our overnight aide tending to Grandpa as his daughters and granddaughter slept on the living room floor around his bed.  We shared good stories and lots of laughs and looking back it seemed to over too soon.  Then, of course, the real work began.

Grandpa had family far and wide and friends all across this great country.  He was a terrific, honorable and noble man who could charm anyone in his path, whether in uniform at the U.S. Capitol or in his scooter zipping around his condo.  Always a collared shirt, always a smile, and most definitely always a good story.  He is sorely missed.
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For a week in January, Inauguration week, to be exact, my husband took a week of vacation days that were dubbed “use or lose.”  Then he was called in for a very important meeting.  Ironically it was the same day that I had stayed home sick.  I came home early from work and he was headed in.  Then, just like that, he returned home, threw a glossy folder down on the end table next to the couch where I was conked out.  That was it.  Bam!  All he said was “February 10th will be my last day.”  Holy schnikes, WHAT?!  Yeah – so that was pretty much the beginning of our 2017, the end of frivolous spending and the reason there’s no glossy photo collage of his sweet daughter and our sweet dog! (but if there were, it would look like this!)

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Sneaking in one more months’ worth of newsworthy fun, I did participate in the Women’s March on January 21st with my mom, sister, cousins, friends and millions of other fabulous females, and let’s not forget Fallopia herself!

All in all, what a year! I still have my health. I have new friends & old and very dear friends and family far and wide. I know many who are fighting too many battles and many fighting the good fight.  Despite all of this I really do try and find silver lining.  So, it goes without saying, no fun picture-filled card this year.  Nothing too personal.  All the very best to you and yours.  I hope your elf has remembered to relocate all these crazy nights and I hope your way is lit by all eight candles this Hanukkah season & I hope Santa finds his way down your chimney.

Here’s to a peaceful and positive 2018 for ALL!

32!

If I turned 40 in April, that can only mean that my “ticker” turns 32 today!

For 32 years, my St. Jude mitral valve has been ticking in the center of my heart.  Providing me daily with life, questions, breath, joy and wonder.  And sometimes, rhythm.

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Placed by Dr. Frank Midgley on October 30, 1985 and by medical miracle, still functioning today in 2017 – I mean, come on, doesn’t 1985 seem pretty long ago?  You wouldn’t drive a car from 1985 these days, would you?!  I’m ecstatic to still be tickin’ today.  I think of Dr. Midgley often, every time I go to a cardiologist appointment and as 10/30 gets closer and closer each year.  My parents and I are eternally grateful for his expertise.  

2017, in keeping with the jinx that I dislike odd-numbered years, has not been great, but today, 10/30, I focus on finding joy in the medical miracle that I carry around with me everywhere I go and listen to every night after a long day.

It takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’!

Today I am donating $32 to the Adult Congenital Heart Association, because babies like me who have successful procedures like I did on 10/30/1985 grow up to be thriving, successful adults and need continued care and research, too.  Hope you’ll consider donating along with me.

So, what’s so big about 32?

Well it’s Matt Weiters jersey number.  He plays for the 2017 NLDS Champion Washington Nationals!

weiters
It’s also the jersey number of the New York Yankees’ first black player, Elston Howard, and L.A. Dodger & famous Jewish pitcher, Sandy Koufax & the LA Lakers’, Magic Johnson!  Come on, you knew there’d be sports references!

 

Thanks for following along.

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