Fuck You, Cancer!

Insidious,

You sneak in,

Like a thief,

Unseen.

Entering the body,

Forcing it

To wage war on itself,

Sapping strength,

Muscle and bone,

Like a pestilence,

Stealing health.

And much needed time.

Confusion, devastation,

Questions and doubt…

“Why me, God?”

Or maybe

“Why them?”

Like a vampire,

You suck life and vitality

Leaving behind

A hollow reflection

That reverberates,

Aftershocks of destruction

To crumble

friends and families;

Those left behind,

And think you’ve won.

But that’s the battle,

Not the war.

Some things you can’t

Take.

They belong to the fighters.

The fierce warriors

Who stare you down,

Refusing to let you take

The love they give,

The life they live,

They never back down.

They fight and believe.

They are heroes,

Fortitude and fury

They battle until the body grows

Weary.

They teach…

Love, compassion,

And take back

What you sought to destroy.

For friends, family,

And mankind.

Help and hope–

To restore faith, belief,

And healing.

The beauty of sharing strength

Of loving support,

Of community and humanity,

And remind the world…

It’s not how you die

But how you LIVED!

I lost a dear childhood friend to cancer today after a 6 year battle. Even more, two amazing kids lost a mom and a loving husband lost his wife. A brother lost his baby sister and two parents lost their baby girl.

A year and a half before that, there was my father-in-law. And before that there was another few friends and an uncle…and the list goes on. Cancer has reared its nasty head in nearly everyone’s lives, but the miracle is in their relentless pursuit of life. Of living. Of never giving up, even if their bodies give out.

https://youtu.be/AHZCAcSh7ls

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Power Of A Name

Ever have someone ask you something and the first thing that comes to mind is…”that’s an epically bad idea?” That’s what happened to me this week, and it was all around names.

Who knew I could have such a visceral reaction to something so simple?

But it makes sense, right? I mean, names help to define who we are expected to be by the world as well as who we feel we can become, right?

And as writers, haven’t there been characters you’ve agonized over, trying to find just the right name to suit their appearance and their temperament?

So what name set me in such a tailspin it shoved me back onto my blog (which I’ve missed, by the way, and I’ll go into where I’ve been another day)? The name Judas. One of my sweet co-workers asked me what I thought of that name for a little boy.

I admit it. I was pretty horrified.

Me: Why would you do that to a child?

Her: What do you mean?

Me: Do you have any idea of the connotations behind that name?

(She gave me that confused head tilt thingie that all dogs have down pat when they hear strange noises)

Her: Huh?

Me: Dude, Judas betrayed Jesus and got him killed! For 30 pieces of silver.

Male Co-worker chimes in: I think it’s a cool name.

Her: (looks over at me) She’s right, though.

Guy: But who was Jesus back then? A nobody. Why should he have cared? It was for money.

Me: (gasping in shock) Uh…even if you think back then Jesus was a nobody (and I definitely had no plans of getting into a deep theological discussion with two kinds I suspected weren’t very versed in that subject or history), he was supposed to be one of his best friends. They were together non-stop for 3 years! And he betrayed that friendship for 30 pieces of silver.

Her: That’s true. They were best friends.

Me: And, he felt so shitty afterwards that he committed suicide. Why would you want to put all that on a kid? Don’t you know that even to this day, when someone calls someone Judas they’re calling the person a traitor? And that happened a long time ago.

I didn’t even go into how much more time had passed compared to Benedict Arnold’s and how the negative connotations never disappeared.

As I thought back on that chat I got to thinking about all the effed up names out there. And I’m not just talking some of the sillier ones celebs come up with like Apple, etc. I mean, a good friend of mine in healthcare was telling me that she’d seen several people come in and write this ‘La-a’ one admission paperwork for their little ones. Unsure how to pronounce, she asked and was told (with a look telling her they thought she was stupid) “It’s La-dash-a!”

Am I the only one not cool enough to know that the proper words for punctuation marks are now to be part of the name?

And what names do you feel give bad juju anyone with the misfortune of having it? Are there certain names you feel predestine people for questionable career choices? And are there ones you absolutely love? How did you get your name? I’d love to hear from you!

Friends and Fitness

There’s something truly awesome about having a best friend who’s known you most of your life. Most rewarding? Those unique conversations that don’t require the niceties, the intros…but just get to the heart of the matter. After a talk with another close friend today, an old conversation with my best friend rose to the surface of my memory banks….surprisingly enough, it wasn’t the cabbage diet story….or how her husband proposed, but it still ranks right up there on the hilarious meter.

Her: Thank GOD I didn’t buy that stripper pole….
Me: Oh, good lord. Do I even want to know?
Her: Probably not, but that’s not going to save you.
Me: So what’s this stripper pole all about? Trying something new and kinky with the hubs?
Her: Ha! No. Actually, remember when I told you that I bought a new workout to help me get in shape for your wedding?
Me: Oh, God. Why am I suddenly afraid….
Her: Because you’re a smart woman.
Me: So….
Her: The new workout dvds I bought were stripper work outs. Pole optional.
Me:
::Snorts a small laugh::
Her: Go ahead. Laugh away. It was a good workout!
Me: So what happened?
Her: So there I was in the living room doing my workout when I looked over my shoulder and found my 2 year old daughter doing the bootie bounce right beside me.
Me: Oh my….(the laughter is now pretty hysterical)
Her: Never mind that her form was better than mine. She turned and asked me if she was doing it right. My daughter is not going to grow up to be a stripper!!! (Mild hysteria set in)
Me: (Choking back the laughter–or trying to) And you almost bought the pole? How’s daddy taking all of this?
Her: Oh, thank goodness the hubby was in another room and didn’t see. You know how protective he is. My problem is that I was planning on bringing her to church this weekend. Can you imagine? Her teacher asks her what she did this week and she’ll say she exercised and then decides to demonstrate? They’re going to kick us out!!!!

Exercise

Yeah. Fitness can be quite comical. There are all sorts of videos out there that claim to aid in “fitness”. Some of them even follow through on their promises.

I still remember as children, my mom had us acclimated to getting up and working out. Sometimes it was with 20 Minute Workout on tv, other times it was one of Jane Fonda’s videos. So when we went to visit my dad, my sister thought nothing of asking him if he had any exercise videos so she could get her exercise in. For a 10 year old she was pretty dedicated to fitness. It wasn’t until later that we understood the look of horror on my dad’s face. Apparently, the only “work out” tape he had was something called “Eroticise“. I’m pretty sure it was just nekkid exercise.

Today, while having lunch with a friend, a commercial for Shaun T’s Insanity workout came on. I laughed and mentioned that hubby had that particular set of workouts, but I’d never tried it. And then this happened…

Friend: I’ve tried that workout. It’s good, but hard.
Me: Yeah. Not me….although I have done my own Shaun T workout. He’s pretty good.
Friend: Which one?
Me: Hip Hop Abs. It was actually a lot of fun! Shaun T’s kinda hot & the music’s okay.
Friend: Dance ones can be fun…
Me: Can you picture doing those moves on a real dance floor, though?
Friend: Ha. Not even.
Me: There sure are some strange things that people turn into workouts.
Friend: Yeah, I know. The boyfriend has a Brazilian Butt Lift workout at home.
Me: Ha! Why do I suddenly have an image of some Brazilian dude cupping your boyfriend’s ass and “raising the roof”?
Friend: I’m so telling him you said that!

But seriously…. Think of all the different types of fitness videos that have come out over the years…from Jane Fonda to Richard Simmons and forward… There HAVE been some pretty strange ones.

I mean, I love Shaun T, but can you picture going to a club and using these moves? Gotta love Ellen…she makes it okay to laugh at yourself….

And actually, when I looked up the Brazilian Butt lift…I could see the appeal…

Hey…fitness is important, so you might as well have fun while you’re doing it. Which crazy workout videos have you bought? Or maybe you just “had a friend” who bought one? Which workouts do you love? Which ones made you laugh more than exercise? No sense in taking the fitness crazes so seriously that you can’t laugh a little… Or share some good ones with awesome online friends….;-)

Prevent A Summer Tragedy

I still remember that summer. It was nearly 30 years ago. I was 11 years old. Six months ago we’d moved back to the states. Six months ago my kid brother didn’t have two best friends named Chester and his cousin, Leo. They were both sweet kids. Rambunctious, playful…a lot like my brother. And they both wanted to marry me. Let’s face it, that was never going to happen. The boys were four years younger than me, but it was flattering.

Every summer our church used to have a group summer retreat at Little Grassy Lake in a small town near Carbondale, IL. They’d rent out cabins and have all sorts of fun events for the kids. This was our first summer to go. Many of the families headed out that Wednesday, but we weren’t able to leave until Friday and would only be staying for the weekend….or so we thought.

Even at 11, I knew something was horribly wrong when we arrived. Groups of people were clumped together. Close friends were huddled in circles. The sound of tears and wailing could be heard the instant the van door was opened. There was a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. This was too much like what it sounded like when my youngest brother died nearly a year before. Part of me wanted to wrap my arms over my ears to try to block out the noise that was tearing away at my heart. It was too much, too soon. But I couldn’t.

Instead, my sister, brother and I, along with one of the friends we’d come with held hands as we waited for her parents to find out what had happened. Unfortunately, voices carry…

“I can’t believe Chester Drowned!”

That horrible, horrible sentence seemed to be coming from every direction at once.

My head turned toward the bank further down the hill. Men in blue uniforms were there with a stretcher. Someone was strapped in and covered. Considering the distended belly I couldn’t imagine it could be the same, thin little boy who had argued with his cousin just last week about which of them was going to win my hand.

How was this possible, I wondered. There had been tons of people at the lake. Where had his parents been? Had they not been watching? But I knew better. His parents were protective! What about his many cousins? If he’d been screaming or flailing, he would’ve been rescued immediately! Unlike what happens in the movies, I can guarantee you this never happened. As if I hadn’t already learned how quickly a situation could turn fatal, this was one more example…

Sadly, the search afterward had been caught on video by one of the people there. Friends and family had been looking for him for about 30 minutes before they’d found him and pulled him out. He was already gone. It was the first time I’d seen what a drowning death looked like, and let me tell you, it’s nothing like the movies.

This year a link showed up in my Facebook talking about silent drowning. For Chester and because it’s summertime, I thought I needed to share the link here as well. You never know when it might save a life. Drowning, Quick And Silent-How To Spot Someone In Trouble

The other thing I’ll ask…. Please, please, PLEASE! If you have a pool, supervise your kids. Don’t leave it up to other children to watch out. My neighbors down the street had a few children…I’d see them playing in the street all the time. The youngest was about 2. The parents were never out there; instead they left it up to the 8 and 10 year olds to watch the younger ones. Coming home from work a couple years ago I drove past their house. It was surrounded by police, ambulance and fire trucks.

Thinking maybe one of the kids had finally been hit by a careless driver while playing in the street I said a silent prayer that the injury wasn’t very serious. It wasn’t until I got in to work that one of my employees asked if I knew the little 2 year old baby who’d drowned. Apparently, in the papers it noted that the child had been left in the “supervision” of an older sibling and had made it into the back yard. She’d fallen into the pool. By the time someone noticed it was too late.

I won’t go on a rant about careless parenting. They paid the ultimate price. No one deserves to feel that kind of pain. No child should have to go through that. What I will ask is that you educate yourselves…and love and protect your children. You never know when this knowledge could save a life.

 

Message Sent

I was talking to a friend yesterday. She’s the mother of three very active children… But, as we know, every child is different. Those differences extend to personality traits, clothing styles, and even appearances. Genetics can be funny in that you can have two siblings who look nothing alike…sometimes one takes after the father’s traits while the other mirrors mom. (And sometimes traits skip generations altogether…)

Why this biology lesson? Because she’d voiced her frustration about trying to find ways to reflect being a “fair” parent in the eyes of her children. Here’s where it got tricky. One child is at the perfect weight to match height and age, one is a bit underweight…the third one has tendencies towards being overweight regardless of how active the child is (and the child is active).

As we were talking she explained to me that with the underweight one she was having to find new and different ways to try to help him gain. These things included snack bars high in protein, etc. The problem was that the sibling who is a little over would see this and want one…and, unfortunately, sometimes her answer had to be, “no, baby, I’m sorry. This one just has way too many calories.”

The thing is, she struggles to find that fair line…and keeping her kids healthy and active. She’s a loving, attentive mother. It frustrates her because all she wants to do is keep her kids healthy, teach them proper eating habits and encourage things that she knows will help them with their self image in the future. She’s also been teaching them the importance of moderation…that there is nothing wrong with certain foods, but not to overindulge.

With all her careful coaching (through education on the ‘why’s’ behind the decisions she makes…in a positive, wholesome manner…which isn’t easy to do), she was quite taken aback to overhear a conversation between another mother and daughter the other day.

As she explained to me, the daughter was slender (maybe even a bit underweight) and an adorable pre-teen. She’d asked her mother if she could have something… I think maybe it was a kid’s cereal. The mother snapped at her daughter…”Do you want to be a fat cow?”

Now please don’t misunderstand… I’m okay with electing to have or not have certain types of food in the house. In fact, we don’t have soda in mine. I also grew up a vegetarian till I was about ten years old….and never felt like I was missing anything. What concerned me was the positioning of why the food wouldn’t be acceptable in the home. To me, it felt like she was sending the message to her daughter that she was either heading towards being overweight or was already there. Again, that’s just me.

It’s amazing how important a parent’s role and actions can be in a child’s body image perceptions. Am I a parent? No. But I do have a story to share… Shocker, right? 😉

I used to work with this woman. She was beautiful… Tall, willowy, blond…great shape (and boob job…that she was hugely proud of). She had a body builder boyfriend, so she made sure that she was in the kind of shape she deemed someone in his “fitness style” would have. How did she do this? She worked out like a crazy person…and she popped diet pills like they were candy. In fact, I later found out that she carried an extra pair of slacks in her car in case of an emergency. I asked the question some of you may be asking…what do you mean, in case of emergency? Well, apparently, one of the things these diet pills did was “cleanse your system”. That meant that sometimes she’d have “accidents”….that required her to change her pants!

No thank you! I don’t ever want to be that much a slave to “beauty”.

Here’s where the problem happened. She sat down across from me one day and began to vent.

Her: (big sigh) I just don’t know what I’m going to do!
Me: About what?
Her: My 12 year old is driving me crazy?
Me: Oh, being a pre-teen, huh? Those little rebellions or boy crazy?
Her: I wish! She’s doing well. She looks great. She made cheerleading this year.
Me: So what’s the problem?
Her: She’s been asking me if she can have some of my diet pills. I keep telling her she doesn’t need them! She looks great just the way she is!
Me: (tongue in cheek) Hmmm. Tell me something, Mom…. Where do you think she got the idea that she has to do all this stuff?
Her: What do you mean?
Me: Come on, Sweetie. Think about it… You look incredible…but what are you always doing? You don’t think she sees that? What message do you think you send to her every time you pop one of those pills?
Her: Well she doesn’t need them.
Me: And neither do you…but that doesn’t stop you. She looks up to you. She’s picked up on the message you send. She may be talented, smart and beautiful…just like her mom. But all she sees is all the things you do to your body.
Her: Hmmm.
Me: Just think about it….

The thing is, here in the States….we’ve got two extremes, and not enough in the middle. My buddy The Modern Philosopher tackled the issue of kids who aren’t active enough…and the opposite end of the spectrum (from a very unique point of view, I might add).

I guess my thoughts are…those of you who are parents…you have so much more influence on your children than you think, just not always the way you think. You can talk until the cows come home…but it’s what you do that people notice (and emulate).

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts. What things do you think are some tough issues that parents have to tackle? Have you seen/heard anything that’s made you kind of cringe inside? What kinds of examples have really wowed you?

For all you parents out there…you have a tough job. No one is ever perfect, but I sure do respect what you do.

What Did You Say You Wanted For Christmas?

As many of you know…I have a playful side. She demands to come out now and again… If you don’t believe me, you haven’t checked out my posts in the last couple of days.

Some of you know that I also had a retail background before I dedicated myself to writing…so in honor of that, my Christmas song is a bit of tongue in cheek humor aimed at commercialism and how off course we’ve gotten.  I dare you not to crack up!

I’d like to hear from you…what part made you laugh most? For me, it was Johnny Carson’s expressions.  I miss that man. (Did that just age me?)