Category Archives: The Deep Sh*t

Courage, dear heart.

I’ve said this many times, and I’ll say it again- I’m a terrible excuse for a “blogger”. I rarely post, and when I do it’s not about my latest hairstyle or outfit. Sorry kids. It’s usually meaty and long, and heavy. But I do my best to keep it real, so here it is.

I know everyone hates political rants on the internets- myself included. BUT (you had to have known there was a ‘but’ coming….right?)…

Yesterday was my day off, which of course means it’s not actually a day off. I spent the day (literally, 6 straight hours) completing a suicide assessment project (which consequently had me wondering if I wanted to live anymore. Not really, but seriously- it sucked). This meant six hours in front of my computer. And one point my phone buzzed- a notification from twitter that Reuters and other accounts I follow were tweeting about the latest mass shooting. I immediately clicked the facebook tab in my browser (like any good student- facebook is always a resource while completing homework) to look at the news links (which are also very handy by the way). Where I saw a link reporting the shooting at Umpqua Community College (UCC). I looked over at my husband and say, “Oh man, another mass shooting”. Just like that- like I was reporting the weather, or that the Bears lost (yet again, thanks for nothing Jay). My own nonchalantness weirded me out. How could I so matter-of-factly talk about this tragedy?

Likely, because I- like many of us are used to this. We are numb.

The definitions of what “mass murder” is varies, and what people take into that count (domestic violence incidence, gangs, etc.) varies as well. However, as for spree shootings the count is somewhere over 50 since the 80’s. Which, doesn’t sound too terribly bad, I mean that’s three decades. Until you further look at the research and find that many consider this number to be increasing. “A report published by the FBI last year, studying active shooting situations between 2000 and 2013, found that these kinds of incidents were happening more and more recently. The first seven years of the study found an average of 6.4 active shootings per year, while the last seven years of the study found that number jumped up to 16.4 incidents per year.” (Mother Jones) Now before you get your undees in a bunch over where the data is coming from, and what mass murder is and isn’t, and gun control and all that political nonsense- I just want to reiterate one thing: this is ‘normal’. This is the way we become ‘proactive’ and grieve the loss of so many lives. By squabbling over this stuff, and not remembering the big things.

Which brings me to this article.
I love so many aspects of this article- and just want to share, add, and highlight a couple points.

First, I absolutely love the underscoring of Chris Mintz’s heroism, courage, and selflessness in this article. I love the concept of controlling what we can- which is putting the attention in the right places. Honoring the hero, and forgetting the culprit of violence, terror, and tragedy. As the article reports; “In the evening, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin held a press conference. Hanlin said he would leave it to the coroner’s office to identify the killer. “I will not give him the credit he probably sought,” Hanlin said of the killer. “You will never hear me use his name.”

However true it is that the ‘forgotten’ are the culprits here, it is equally true that this phenomena of ‘mass murder for attention’ goes deeper than the notoriety gained for the killer by the public, or for the gun control argument or whatever direction you choose to take it. The truth is the world is FULL of sick, hurting, lost people who need something other than to be ignored. Giving a shooter the notoriety he yearns for after the fact is certainly NOT the answer. But then what is?

“As a nation, the U.S. is the third highest spender on health care per person, yet our health outcomes rank 37th compared to other nations. We can do better….The costs of cutting the state mental health budgets are high. The lives of the one in four Americans who experiences a mental illness at some point is at stake. Treatment works — if you can get it. Without treatment, more people will end up hospitalized, in shelters, on the street, in jail or dead. These are costs that are too high to pay.” (NAMI)

While any person who has ever taken a research class likely knows the term, or some variation thereof which states; ‘Correlation does not equal causation’ (Thanks Dr. Caldwell, I use that one all the time!).
On both sides of the argument we can apply this statement- the correlation of mass murder with guns does not equal guns are the cause of mass murder. Whereas, the correlation of mental illness in mass shooters does not equal mental illness is the cause/predictor of mass murder. As an insightful facebook friend of mine posted something insightful- in 2010, a man in China stabbed 28 people. Clearly we should not ban knives for this. However, “Evidence strongly suggests that mass shooters are often mentally ill and socially marginalized. Enhanced psychiatric attention may well prevent particular crimes. And, to be sure, mass shootings often shed light on the need for more investment in mental health support networks or improved state laws and procedures regarding gun access.” (From this great article that you really should read).

But ultimately- there is never one such factor to why these things happen. There is no one definitive predictor. “However, credible studies suggest that a number of risk factors more strongly correlate with gun violence than mental illness alone. For instance, alcohol and drug use increase the risk of violent crime by as much as 7-fold, even among persons with no history of mental illness—a concerning statistic in the face of recent legislation that allows persons in certain US states to bring loaded handguns into bars and nightclubs. According to Van Dorn et al., a history of childhood abuse, binge drinking, and male gender are all predictive risk factors for serious violence.”

I’m not sure what all this data means as far as application is concerned, but the reality of the situation is- before gun control, before increased mental health screenings, before politics, and arguments and anger and loneliness and tragedy. Before all of that, what we all need is a little more courage, selflessness, humanity, and humility. Maybe if we all acted a little more like Chris Mintz we’d see a lot less tragedy because  we’d be brave enough to intervene before we are notified by social media that another dozen people have been shot and killed, speaking of it like it’s a weather report.

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On Reaping What You Sow

Maybe I don’t believe in Karma in the traditional sense- after all, I’m not Buddhist or yogi. But maybe I have a little more of a Farmer’s spirit about me- which absolutely has me believe that you reap what you sow, with an exactness that is both unsettling and magical. There’s something about (fill in the blank- God, The Universe, whatever) that likes to ever so gently remind you what you plant is what will grow.

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“My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.” #TheBible (hahahaaha, I can’t even get over how funny I find that right now)

I admire the Mother Teresa’s, Nelson Mandela’s, Jesus, and the like- who give and give and give (read love, inspire, be kind, etc.)- but find no pain, and no loss in that. There is something very rare about a person who gives beyond the point of reason. Mother Teresa once said; “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” You reap what you sow.

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And then there are those who are so bitter and guilt ridden and stubborn the whole world is their enemy. They are a martyr at the hands of every person they come in contact with. Once the victim, always the victim. You reap what you sow.

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There’s a theory in psychology called ‘Confirmation Bias’ in which you believe something, and you only recognize evidence which supports that theory. I.E.- you always hit the red lights when you’re in a hurry. Or every time you eat spaghetti you get heartburn. Never remembering that time when 4 of your 7 lights where green, or when you scarfed that plate of pasta on your lunch break last week and felt fine after (this may, or may not be what I’m doing right now).

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Confirmation Bias is one of my favorite psychological theories because I think it’s applicable in an extensive amount of situations- and it’s pretty damn obvious funny too.

Confirmation Bias tells the giver/lover/inspirer their giving/loving/inspiring matters because they will only look for information that tells them that- they only find the wins. There is no room for doubt, negativity, or self-pity; they got shit to do. They reap what they sow.
PS- What they do does matter.

Confirmation Bias tells the bitter/broken/angry person their pain matters more than the next guy’s because they didn’t deserve it. That somehow, they bear no responsibility to the situation or how they feel from it because, well damn it – it’s just not their fault. And their evidence supports that because they will not see anything else. Not the person who remained to love them, or the person who tried to apologize, the person who has taken far more sub-par treatment from them than necessary. They reap what they sow.
PS- What they do does matter….to them.

 

Choose to live in such a way that your confirmation bias only shows you the good shit. Cheers.

DIY

DIY the common acronym for, well, ‘Do(ing) It Yourself’ has become immensely popular with sites like Pinterest and all the various blogs out there. However, they are not the only ones encouraging you to take matters into your own hands. Yesterday, the Supreme Court made a ruling on whether or not Hobby Lobby should have to comply with the full extent of Obamacare and supply all types of birth control. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby- leaving you to find certain birth control coverage yourself.

Opinions on both sides of the spectrum take form in comics from various artists. Found by a Google search of "hobby lobby cartoons".
Opinions on both sides of the spectrum take form in comics from various artists. Found by doing a Google search of “hobby lobby cartoons”.

I’m going to start with what was my closing paragraph because I think it makes a good disclaimer before you start reading the rest of this. So here goes: These opinions aren’t God’s- they’re mine. They are what I think, and where I am in my faith. They are what I think is right, and how I interpret the Bible- years and years after it’s writing- and the invention of birth control. I think God didn’t comment on every single hot topic that would come up in the future because he gave us enough sense, and the ability to discern what’s right- and that should be enough. And, just like you and I have the choice to work at Hobby Lobby or not based on their convictions, and they have a choice of whether to offer certain types birth control as a benefit based on their convictions. They also have a choice on how literally they will take the Bible, and how they will portray it. Just as much as I do- and this is my belief.

I have mixed feelings on the situation. I love Hobby Lobby, let me just get that out there. You send me in there with lots of time and dangerous things happen. I come out as the crazy craft lady.
However, on a broader & larger scale I feel conflicted.

I think any company, especially a family owned one should be able to hold and express their views- even or especially when it comes down to how they conduct their business. I don’t like going to Wal-Mart because I have heard of (hearsay– I have not done extensive research so please don’t try to recite 100 facts to me about how great they are- I can’t do the same in return) the negative effects it has on the economy, it’s workers, and the like. However, I’m not trying to bust down the Walton’s door to tell them they should be doing a better job. I simply do not shop there. I think the free market should be respected, and part of that falls into a company choosing how they conduct their business. Except for the common set of standards (i.e. not ripping people off, doing illegal things, monopoly, etc.)- the government shouldn’t be able to control all aspects of a company. You wouldn’t walk into a vegan restaurant and order a bacon cheeseburger and demand they serve it to you because it’s your right to eat meat. Just like you probably wouldn’t go into Hobby Lobby for a job if you want certain types of birth control coverage because it’s your right. I don’t think the decision of how Hobby Lobby chooses to run their company should specifically be based on a religious argument- but also an argument of this- they are an independent company that the government should not be able to enforce or control them (unless of course they are doing the things I listed above and being scammy).

HOWEVER (again). I take issue with Hobby Lobby and this whole debate, long before it turns into a Supreme Court case and sociological fodder for every feminist and church goer alike. I hesitate to say I am a Christian because I think that that is a term which has been sullied by things like this. But I am. I believe in God, and heaven, and hell, and sins, and forgiveness. I also believe God gave us some sense, and logic, and reasoning to employ- not just to have. YES, the Bible does say “Go forth and multiply...” however, if you read it within context- God is saying that in the Garden of Eden (a place of perfection, at this point) as a blessing. In the very next verse he is listing off all the provisions the Garden of Eden has for them. They weren’t exactly having to worry about how to pay the electric bill. If we continue reading Eve goes and makes a mess of things, and Adam isn’t much help and then world changes from there. Part of that change is the fact that they now have to work, the world is no longer a perfect place, and Eve basically cursed all us ladies with periods and menopause and all things gross and awkward about being a woman (at least I’m blaming her for it). However, God still wants them to multiply- otherwise all His handiwork would end there.

So now, lots and lots of years later- we have fancy magic that can prevent us from having children when we are not prepared because we live in an imperfect world and can’t just pop out 96 kids at any time like the Duggars. I believe this is where God expects us to use some sense. If you can barely afford to feed yourself- probably don’t have kids. If you know you are too impatient, immature, and selfish to have kids- probably don’t have kids. At least not yet. While Hobby Lobby isn’t trying to ban all birth control– they are trying to ban some in the name of Christianity and classic values. I do not think abortion and birth control are the same thing. I do not think the morning after pill is an abortion. I do not think birth control is a sin. This being said, it pains me to see a company with such exposure, standing behind faith and Christianity, take the national spotlight and do a poor job at explaining the differences between those things.

Ultimately- my beef isn’t about why or if they should or should not have to pay for specific types of birth control. If you are a person that is trying to family plan or simply not trying to get pregnant, note the fact that Hobby Lobby probably isn’t the place for you to be working. You have a choice, choose to work somewhere else. I don’t think the solution is forcing a group or company to do or not do something. They, just like you should be afforded a choice. Yours is if you want to work there, and theirs is the extent of the benefits they want to offer.

This ultimately, is an argument that opens a bunch of debate because Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to provide the morning after pill and IUD’s (for those of you who don’t know the differences between these things and ‘the pill’ it’s simply that they prevent pregnancy after an egg is fertilized, where the pill prevents eggs from being fertilized in the first place). So- this then opens the argument- when is a person a person- and that is simply an argument this post doesn’t have time to address. I will simply reiterate what I said above: I do not think abortion and birth control are the same thing. I do not think the morning after pill is an abortion. I do not think birth control is a sin.

In the end, I think people are getting all sorts of worked up over a company “who won’t offer birth control”- which isn’t really the case. I myself, had to dig a little deeper to get to the bottom of things, because after seeing all these tweets about women’s rights being taken away, I was a little fired up. After taking a closer look- women’s right’s are there just as much as the Green’s rights.

 

The good news news

I have two thoughts today.
First, I’m so tired of seeing things like this on the internet:

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That is NOT a beauty hack- that’s food or what I would call a “non-stick hack”. Don’t put food on your body just because it contains coconut/coconut oil (unless you plan on laying in the sun and baking a batch of brownies on yourself- I don’t wanna hear about it). It’s food, you put it in your mouth- and not to do this trendy ‘oil pulling’ nonsense. STOP freaking out over this stuff. It’s weird. #endrant


Now in other news. I always complain about how ‘the news’ is always ‘bad news’- so in honor of the first Friday of summer- I present you with ‘the good news news’. My pick of some of the week’s top heartwarming, happy news stories.

First up, an actress I so much love. Amy Adams was flying from Detroit to LA today (yes, I’m cutting edge over here- fresh off the press news right here). Anyways, she noticed a soldier sitting in coach and gave up her first class seat for him. I am always such a sucker for those soldiers returning from deployment or getting a standing O at the airport type stories so this was right up my alley. For the full story click here.

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Second: Some of you may recall the story from a few months back about the MSU Basketball player Adreian Payne who made friends with a little girl named Lacey Holsworth, a little MSU fan who was suffering from a very serious form of cancer. She attended many of his games, he invited her to his senior night, and she even cut the nets down when MSU won the Big Ten. She died shortly after that. The story in itself is a sad- but incredibly moving and you can’t help but smile when you see that little girl’s face. However, last night at the NBA draft– the suit Adreian wore was commemorative of Lacey. With a pink lining, and her name embroidered into it. Even after her passing, he is honoring her memory. For more on this story, click the links.

NBA: NBA Draft

On Monday, a 91 year old WWII vet graduated high school because she had dropped out to serve in the war. Talk about dedication!

There’s speculation around Cristiano Ronaldo’s hairstyle during the World Cup games- it was/wasn’t for a young fan who had a surgery scar on his head. But regardless of that (while I’d like to think it’s true) Ronaldo has offered to pay for one of the boy’s surgeries which costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $70k. So haircut tribute or not, I call it a win.

Cristiano-Ronaldo-World-Cup-2014-Z-haircut

This was last week- but I still like the story so I’m going with it. An ex-felon who served 10 years in prison for producing cocaine saved a baby! A 15 month old girl crawled 300 yards from her home (how does THAT happen I want to know…but this is good news news, so I’ll stay focused). That little nugget was just about to crawl on the expressway when Bryant Collins scooped her up, and played her some gospel music until the police came.  Hip hip hooray for saving babies and not making drugs!!!

And there’s your good news news for the week! Happy Friday!!

 

Bossy & I know it, not afraid to show it.

Helllloooo there readers…any of them I have left, after all this erratic posting! I’m sorry. I just really don’t like writing just to put something up. I have to find something really moving or inspiring or something that fires me up to write. I know- so dramatic of me. I would just rather write about stuff that I think is cool or interesting, or think I would like to know/read about- rather than just tell you what I did over the weekend (no disrespect to any bloggers that like to do that, just not my cup of proverbial tea).

Anyways, I got something for you today. Cause it’s Friday, it’s going to be 60 today and well, I found something to annoy me enough to write about it.


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Now we will play a short round of Mad libs (with my own personal twist) to introduce today’s topic. Just pick one of the words in the parenthesis to fill in the blanks.
THIS DAMN BAN BOSSY ________ (campaign, load of crap) IS ________ (really really great, annoying) AND I’M GLAD IT DIDN’T (come off as whining, totally came off as whining and didn’t catch on too much). 

Let’s start with this. I know I’m a little late on the whole topic- everyone wore their shirts and tweeted their tweets last week sometime. But it just took  me a while to marinate before I decided how absolutely pathetic and useless this really was. If you haven’t read up on it, look here or here.

Ok- so Sheryl Sandberg (Currently the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, went to Harvard, and was once the Chief of Staff for the US Secretary of Treasury) is all up in arms because one of her teachers in high school called her “bossy” and it hurt her feelings. I’m sure there’s a bit more to it than that- but what it comes down to is she is, and probably always has been an empowered woman who got shit done. I don’t think there’s a need to apologize, be ashamed of it, or let critics call you a name because of it that hurts your feelings so deeply. Apparently someone stepped on her toes and she got mad and started a campaign. Because that’s what powerful people do. They campaign. Or at least that’s what it seems like from House of Cards.

I think there is a huge misconception here. I think people are forgetting a small detail. You know, that fact that there is a huge difference between being a leader and being bossy. Leaders motivate, inspire, and energize their team. And they look at their “workers” as that, a team. Bossy people suck the life out of people, demand, and are rarely satisfied. And look at their “workers” as peons. It’s the concept of micro-management, versus giving someone a job and letting them figure out how to get it done.

boss

Another flaw I find in this campaign is it’s posed as if the word “bossy” is gender specific. That boys are never, or can never be called “bossy”- instead they are viewed as leaders. Most people who have “Bosses” instead of “Leaders” (male or female) working over them-think their bosses are exactly that- bossy, jerks, arrogant, etc. And rightfully, so. The flaw is in the leadership, not the word.

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Overall, I just think this makes women as a whole look weak, whiny, and pathetic. Like we have such hurt feelings over what people say about us. Or that it truly attacks the foundation of our equality or something. I think there are two thoughts that should flow through our minds if we are referred to as “bossy”.
1) What am I doing wrong?
2) What am I doing right?
‘Cuz #hatersgunnahate- amiright?

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But instead Sheryl’s tactic is to start a campaign and get the Girl Scouts involved (And don’t tell me those Girl Scouts aren’t a little pushy when they’re peddling those Tagalongs outside the grocery store which you’re so desperately trying not to buy because you’ll eat the whole box in one sitting) anyways this campaign is centered around hurt feelings and how degrading a word is. A word that I (like most people) probably haven’t used since I was in the sandbox- and for those of us who haven’t caught up yet- it’s time to leave the sandbox. As for the young girls and future leaders she’s trying to impact- A) They don’t even care enough, and first chance some girl in middle school is mean to her- she’s going to call her bossy, or something worse. B) it’s part of growing up, you get picked on (note: getting picked on is different than being bullied) and it teaches you to have a thicker skin C) Lead by example. Don’t teach girls to complain over a word- teach them the essence of a better word so they won’t be called the negative word you dislike. AKA- RISE ABOVE IT.

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I mean, I’m not saying words don’t hurt or are never degrading- but come on…”bossy”? What gets me most is she’s quoted having said; “I was called bossy when I was in ninth grade,” Sandberg recalled. “My teacher took my best friend Mindy aside and she said, ‘You shouldn’t be friends with Sheryl. She’s bossy.’ And that hurt.”

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I would bet you ten bucks and a beer/shot combo that the teacher that said this- was a woman. And here in lies the biggest problem. I think more often than we’d like to admit- women are the ones playing the victim, and holding ourselves/each other back or pushing each other down. While I don’t neglect that women make 77¢ to a man’s dollar, and that women make up only 4.6% of the Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 company CEO positions either. However, as unfortunate as it is, big things take big time- and I think women have just as much to learn about empowerment and empowering one another, as men do.

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I think equality is important, rather- imperative in our society, I just don’t think stomping out a word is how we achieve that. Women, fist-to-hip, tapping our toes, finger wagging, demanding people not call us bossy is the exact picture of bossy we are “fighting”.

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Instead- why not focus on building up and encouraging women who lead with strength, grace, tenacity, and energy. Instead of women who feel they have something to compensate for, who are everything you would both dread and expect them to be.

woman

Or, maybe for a minute- be proud someone called you bossy at all. Maybe you know what’s going on ahead of everyone else, and have the voice and courage to call it out- and make things happen. I don’t think bossy is always bad. It’s all in the delivery.

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d4302e51eb3bf26a3fa4de21ed6a6cef                             (I would just like to had three words to the end of this quote “or are becoming”)
Also, for a way better/longer version of this post- read Bossypants by Tina Fey. You can thank me later.

Stories for the Fighters

Today is World Cancer Day. Unless you’ve been stuck under a rock today (which if you were, I’m terribly sorry and I hope you got help quickly and were unharmed) but otherwise, you probably know this.

myths

“World Cancer Day is a chance to raise our collective voices in the name of improving general knowledge around cancer and dismissing misconceptions about the disease. From a global level, we are focusing our messaging on the four myths above. In addition to being in-line with our global advocacy goals, these overarching myths leave a lot of flexibility for members, partners and supporters to adapt and expand on for their own needs.” ~ From World Cancer Day.org

(Quick disclaimer- this is a long post- brace yourselves) 

My encounters with cancer have been fairly often, but somewhat removed. My Grandma had Leukemia (cancer which attacks blood cells) before I was born, and she lived through it. She would mention it here and there, but we have never really had any in depth talks about it. My Great Grandma (who I will post about again soon because she’s probably the coolest person I know ever, in all of life) had breast cancer and Melanoma (skin cancer)- and lived. My Grandfather on my other side of the family died of Pancreatic Cancer. While most wouldn’t call this ‘removed’ it came on pretty quickly, and he lived far away so I didn’t have the first hand experience of watching it all unfold.

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So today, on World Cancer Day, I want to honor the stories and lives of those who have fought to tell the story of cancer life, whether they are here to tell of it themselves or not.

My best friend who I met in college, has lost her uncle and her father to cancer. I didn’t know her yet when her uncle died of Leukemia at the age of 34. But I knew her dad, and her family. I watched them fight through this experience, this life changing event and it was so foreign and yet felt so close to me. I watched my friend go back home for the weekend instead of go out like the rest of our peers were, or go to the hospital everyday after classes or work, I watched her grow into who she is today- before my very eyes. While her dad was going through some very serious treatments for Renal Cell Carcinoma (a form of kidney cancer), she managed to keep up good grades in college, and managed to graduate just 10 months after her dad passed. When I asked her how old he was when he passed she said;  “He was 49 years old, he couldn’t fathom the fact that he would be turning 50.” She is one of the strongest people I know, being able to bring humor into possibly the hardest situation of her life. I think she got that from her dad. I asked her to describe her dad in one sentence she said:  “It’s hard to describe my dad in one sentence. He was a lot of things. He had such a great personality and outlook, on even the worst situation. It rubbed off on people.” (FACT: It rubbed off on her)
I also asked her if she had to give advice to someone in the position she was in what would she say. She said; “My piece of advice would be to be patient. Nothing ever happens when you think/want or are told it’s going to happen. You might need to see 4 doctors, and try 10 different medications before you find what works. Also, be there for the other person in whatever way you can. They have it a lot worse than you.”
I have watched their family carry on his name, his memory, and his legacy in one of the most beautiful displays of love I have ever seen. And for that, I am thankful to them, and to Rich.

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(This quote is from Mitch Albom‘s Five People You Meet in Heaven– which I hightly recommend) 

My next story is not mine at all, it belongs to my friend Chrissie. A girl who I met in college who was diagnosed with brain cancer this past summer. I’m not going to say much more about her story beside the questions you see me ask below, because no one can tell it better than her- and she does a damn good job.
Without further ado, my friend Chrissie:

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So how did you discover you had cancer to begin with, I mean you’re a healthy, active female in your 20’s (she’s 24 to be exact).
I had been having headaches and a sharp pain in the back of my head for about a month. Finally, something told me to see my doctor. She didn’t seem to be too concerned, but sent me for an MRI anyway. We both thought it would just be a migraine disorder. One hour after the MRI, my doctored called and said I needed to get to the ER immediately for more tests because she could see a huge mass in a dangerous spot. Long story short, I barley had any spinal fluid left and I had surgery the next day. The surgeon told my mom he didn’t know if I’d survive. It was on July 23, that the biopsy results came back the tumor was malignant… Meaning brain cancer.

How would you describe yourself as a person who was diagnosed with cancer? Especially at such a young age.
Cancer does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone. BUT I am still Chrissie. I am still a daughter, friend, granddaughter etc…. Cancer does not own me or define who I am. It cannot take away who you are.

“Cancer does not own me or define who I am. It cannot take away who you are.”

What was your first thought when you heard the results? I can’t imagine what would be rushing through my head at that point?
I knew by the look on the Oncologist’s face when he walked in what he was going to say. My mom dropped to her knees and cried. I just stared at him like he was crazy. I thought, ‘This could not be happening.’ Then I just broke down. I was still recovering from major surgery and in immense pain and then I got this bomb dropped. Ironically, as my doctor was walking out of my room my pastor walked in. I took it as a sign from God that I had to fight and that I was going to make it through. But I was still terrified.

Besides your faith- what gives you the hope/strength/motivation to fight through all this?
I could have easily said ‘no’ to treatment and just given up- but I wanted to be an example. It took some time to find the hope, strength, and motivation to fight. I was mad at the world. I couldn’t walk without a walker. I couldn’t even shower alone. Then I started radiation, and I saw this little girl being taken away for her treatment. And it was then I decided I needed to fight and be as positive as possible to be an example for others. I’ve said all along if I can have just one person look at me and say “She did it, she fought- so I will too” then this is all worth it, and I’d do it over again.

 “If I can have just one person look at me and say “She did it, she fought- so I will too” then this is all worth it, and I’d do it over again.”

(WHOLE BODY GOOSE BUMPS RIGHT NOW.)
Ok can you kind of explain to me your path of treatment?
Well my Oncologist chose Proton Radiation Therapy. Proton Radiation Therapy is different than regular radiation in that it only targets the spot where the cancer is so that the rest of your body isn’t getting hit with radiation. I also had a spinal tap because the cancer cells could have dropped down into my spine during surgery but those results came back clear which meant I would not need chemo, just radiation. So I went 5 days a week for 6 weeks.

So outside of maybe some of the more obvious ways, how would you say having/fighting/beating cancer has changed/affected your life?
While I may be healed physically, I still deal with the emotional aspects of it all. Because it all happened so fast, I really didn’t have time to process. So that is happening now. It completely changed me. It showed me that I am strong, that I am a fighter, and the thing it did the most was show me how much love I have in my life. I cherish every moment that I get to spend with a loved one now more then ever. I say; ‘I love you’ every chance I get. And I just feel so thankful to be able to say I fought and I won.

‘And I just feel so thankful to be able to say ‘I fought and I won.’

Seems like it really was a fast process, how long were you dealing with everything as far as doctor’s visits and treatments and that sort of thing?
Since being told it was a tumor on July 17th until October 4th 2013, when treatment ended. During that time I’d have to meet with my Radiologist every week. And I had a nurse coming to my mom’s house, where I had to move in. I also needed physical therapy twice a week. Now, I need to have follow up MRI’s of my brain and spine every 3 months for 2 years.

What is one myth you would say you have heard or felt you experienced/lived through regarding cancer?
You always hear that cancer will ruin your life. That it’ll defeat you. Take away everything you love. That myth is not true. Yes, cancer is extremely daunting and scary and so hard to cope with but it cannot control you unless you let it. I chose right away I would not let it define me. I don’t want people to look at me and immediately think cancer. I want them to see me. My heart. Who I am. Cancer is just something you go through. It’s NOT who you are.

Cancer is just something you go through. It’s NOT who you are.”

What would you tell supporters of people who have been diagnosed/survivors?
I would say allow yourself to feel every emotion. Good, bad, and ugly. If you don’t and you bottle it up….pretend like it’s not happening, it will eat you alive. My advice would be to always live in the moment. It’s all we really have. Tell the ones you love, that you do and seek help or therapy if you need it. There is no shame it that. Most importantly, always believe you CAN beat cancer. No matter what the odds are. Miracles happen every day.

What would a piece of practical advice be? Like something that helped you feel better?
Taking walks once I was able was the best way to get out and clear my head. Also, self-help books with inspiring quotes are great to read before bed, or first thing in the morning. Also, if you feel as though something is not right in your body see your doctor right away.

For more about Chrissie’s story you can check out her blog.


Many, many, many thanks to my friends and my heroes Danielle & Chrissie and the many more I don’t have listed, or who I’ve yet come to know- who have or are fighting this battle themselves, or alongside someone they love. Thank you for your candid honesty, and your willingness to share your journey. Most of all, I respect your strength, grace, and will to fight on. Cheers to you.

 

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The Authoritative Guide on How to be a Friend

There are no instruction manuals for life, right? Wrong. I have taken it upon myself to painstakingly handle this great undertaking. Here are my findings on friendship (and by “my findings” I really mean my main points strung together by what I have deemed to be meaningful quotes by people who if they were still alive and/or had blogs would be a lot more popular than myself).

Step one: BE NICE. Simple right? You would think so, wouldn’t you?! Practice that whole ‘Golden Rule’ thing (if you don’t know what the Golden Rule is- scratch out step one above- and replace it with “Go back to third grade, learn ‘Golden Rule’”- then renumber all following steps). Put your friend(s) first. Paramahansa Yogananda (a 19th Century Yogi, who wrote the book: Autobiography of a Yogi and is credited with introducing the Western world to Yoga through said book) said; “There is a magnet in your heart that will attract true friends. That magnet is unselfishness, thinking of others first; when you learn to live for others, they will live for you.” I like this quote. But I don’t totally agree with it. You don’t always attract nice people because you are nice. Sometimes, people come to you to take advantage because they KNOW you are nice. But that is no reason to stop being nice (whomp, whomp).

After all, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said that. I think he’s right, by the way. I mean he did write Self Reliance and anyone who knows enough about that topic really must know something about life- amiright?

Sometimes, being nice is just listening, sometimes it’s more.  But it’s simply doing what you would expect someone who cares about you to do. “A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often – just to save it from drying out completely.” – Pam Brown (I don’t actually know who Pam Brown is, but she sounds like a nice soccer mom/housewife who makes really good chocolate chip cookies and has those stick figure family members on the back of her Honda Odyssey). PS – what is up with those damn things? I do not care how many cats/kids you have, honestly stop doing it people.

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Basically, the point I’m getting at here is just don’t be mean. “It is only the great hearted who can be true friends. The mean and cowardly, can never know what true friendship means.” (Charles Kingsley) Which brings me to my next point.

Step two: Don’t be a coward. Say how you really feel. Your friends should respect you as an individual enough to care about, respect, and value your opinion- if they don’t, you may want to start taking applications for new ones. Say how you really feel. Yes, I know I already said that- but it’s important. Friends want the absolute truth- even if/when it hurts. I know for myself, I want someone who values an alternate perspective, and challenges me to have an open mind, and think beyond my own opinion. So call it like it is – you don’t have to be nasty, but you have to be honest. Don’t just agree for the sake of agreement. If you disagree on a topic – voice it, if you need to tell them they were outta line – say it. As Plutarch said; “I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.” I don’t want a replica of myself- I want someone who is a mirror to show me how I really am, and a sounding board for when I don’t know how I really should be, and a referee for when how I really am is out of bounds. But now we’re just getting too deep and sentimental for a blog post.

Step Three: Don’t Be Selfish: “A true friend is someone who is there for you when he’d rather be anywhere else.” The great Len Wein said that (I don’t even really know who Len Wien is, but his last name makes me want to call him Weiner. Sorry, inappropriate. If you click his name up there it’ll tell you who he is). But whoever and wherever in the world Len Wien is (or Carmen San Diego for that matter (or Waldo)) – he is right.

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The guy in the middle is Len Wein – if you don’t know who the others are, you’re losing at life. Is it me or does he look like a mixture of Carmen and Waldo???

True friends do a lot of really annoying crap for their friends they don’t really want to do. Like getting into a bar fight because a lesbian wants to take your friend home. Oh, not normal? Ok new example…Like listen to them compulsively talk about their new boyfriend, or listen with interest as they repeat stories when you’ve already heard them like four times (I do this to my friends pretty frequently- sorry guys), holding their hair back when they’re puking, or driving them all over because they lost their license for three months because they got 2 speeding tickets within three months when they were under twenty-one (whaaaattt?). Being thought of by someone beyond their own skin is a really powerful thing. It shows not only that they are humble, gracious and mature enough to think of you first or above themselves it shows they are willing. That speaks louder than any words can say.

Step Four: Stick Around. No one wants a part time friend. No one wants someone who only wants them when it’s easy or fits into their schedule (I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.- Robert Brault– word up man). Friendship is like any other relationship- it takes time, work, effort, energy, love, all that warm-gooey-soft stuff. But when the going gets tough- don’t bail. That’s what some people may call “whack”. “The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.” (Ulysses S. Grant, the badass). Life is all fun n games…till someone loses that eye. Then what- then you need your friends. The dark days are the days you want to know you got the real deal. Like Oprah says, “Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo [cab], but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” (Emphasis added to bring quote into middle class, non-millionaire terms.) Let’s be real here- Oprah probably knows a thing or two about fake friends.

Step Five: Be Yourself. Your friends are your friends for a reason. They like you. Plain and simple. Ultimately, it’s really hard to be somebody you’re not- especially for a long time- like the length of a friendship (which is supposed to be a long time, unless of course someone is pretending to be someone they are not- that usually speeds up the life cycle of a friendship). Elbert Hubbard put in nicely when he said; “Never explain – your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.” If your friend is your friend you want to be able to be real and know they will accept who you are.*

*Disclaimer- if who you are is a giant rabid monster- you might want to work on that. Probably no one wants to be your friend.

Finally, I don’t really think this is a step- just a sum total of things and a little common sense.
JUST TRY.  Just try to be a good friend. If you follow these steps it’s really hard to not make or keep friendships. I’m not saying my steps are foolproof, I’m just saying what I think most people are like, and if you agree- that means you’re probably like that too. And if we all can agree- we all can say we all like when someone is nice to us, honest with us, sticks around with/for us, thinks of us first, and is genuine.

“Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” ~Muhammad Ali

Got any other great friendship quotes (I told you I was a quote junkie)? Any friendship peeves? Funny stories? Hit me with ’em!

23 & Married- a Counterargument

You gotta love those articles that float around Facebook which everyone shares a gazillion times and captions things like; “so inspiring” or “#truth” (come on guys, you do it- I’ve done it. It’s the culture of Facebook). But I especially like ones that go around and I disagree with.

Seems funny right? Well with media being such an open outlet so many people get to share a huge range of topics- and it’s refreshing to read someone else’s work who doesn’t share my worldview. To read something that is written by a person who is outside my circle of friends, family, culture, etc.

So early last week this article by Vanessa Elizabeth came out called; “23 THINGS TO DO INSTEAD OF GETTING ENGAGED BEFORE YOU’RE 23”. I liked it. I disliked it. And I agreed, and disagreed with her thoughts- and not just cuz I was engaged at 22 and married by 23.

Favorite quote- “…the LGTBQ community isn’t ruining the sanctity of marriage, the Kardashian family is…” #truth (haha)

Anyways, you should go read it. It’s for sure worth a read.

On to why/what I like and don’t like.  I was watching a marathon of binging on “Bridezillas” a couple Sundays ago and this girl (I don’t say girl lightly, she was 19) who just so happened to be from the next town over from mine (the fair city of Elgin) was getting married to her boyfriend of a month in 3 weeks. So to make this clear- she was marrying a guy who at the point of their wedding she had only known for 7 weeks. TALK ABOUT BANANAS!

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She had a total freak out before the ceremony and was almost a runaway bride. I’m sorry dear- but only Julia Roberts can pull that trick off with any semblance of grace…I mean look at that!

 

Anyways- I do think there is such a thing as getting married too young. I.E. If you can’t have a champagne toast at your wedding- because you can’t legally drink…you probably shouldn’t get married. Just sayin’. But being 23 when I got married, I don’t think that there is any real formula to it. No solid answer- unless you ask my dad; he said I wasn’t allowed to date or get married ’till I was 30. I also think you shouldn’t get married if you have no clue who you are. That is the element of this article I agree with.

Vanessa writes that at 22, she has no idea who she is/what she wants etc. I hear you girl. In fact I will see you, and raise you- most 50 year olds have no clue who they are. That’s the journey. Ya figure it out as you go. But as a person of almost a quarter century- you should have a foundational set of values you stick to. Things like; keeping your word, being there for your friends/family, working towards becoming who you want to be/trying to be a better person, being loving/thoughtful/generous, etc. Whatever your creed, I think we can all agree that most people* operate by a fundamental set of principles. By 20+ you are old enough to know what’s right, good, and what matters.

*If you aren’t there yet- do us all a favor and please do not get married- no matter what age you are. Figure your shit out dude- don’t need to drag anyone else into that.

The foundation of a marriage rests on principles like these- two people deciding they agree on what matters in life, and that they will stick together ‘for better or worse, sickness or health…’ as they figure the rest out.

I think the divorce rate is so high because people fail to realize that people change. But what’s so wrong in that? In fact, I think we would be a lot more pissed- if people never did. But when you take those vows- you aren’t making a promise to love the other person for the moment; “When you are exactly who you are right here, right, now and the minute you change-I’m out”. Its sickness and health, better or worse, winning, losing, or changing. Maybe in 3 years I’ll decide to switch careers, cut my hair and dye it blonde- but you can bet your bottom dollar I will still hold to my set of foundational values and that’s part of why my husband said “I do.” If it was for my career or hair- we’d both be screwed. Ha!

Where I start to disagree is when she starts talking about marriage as a sort of cop out;

“It is a way for young people to hide behind a significant other instead of dealing with life’s highs and lows on their own. It’s a safety blanket. It’s an admission that the world is just too big and scary to deal with it on your own; thus, you now have someone that is legally obligated to support you till one of you dies or files for divorce.”

Every relationship you have does this to some extent. You can’t always deal with life on your own- that’s why you have loved ones. I just feel that it’s self-centered to think that you get through life on your own. The whole point of being married is to share life with someone- why does that have to be classified as a “safety blanket”?

Later on the article talks about how the last generation got married young, but it’s no comparison because there were different values, priorities, and no anxiety from the internet. To me, that kind of thinking is the ‘safety blanket’. The problem is standing behind the ideology that “things are different” instead of rising to meet a standard of dignity, character, and respect for ourselves and one another that should still be intact regardless of the internet or how times have evolved.

Moreover, the article expresses how we are responsible for our own happiness- which I agree with, completely. But her comparison of travel vs. having a family in my opinion suffers some oversight in that maybe some people’s happiness is in having a family instead of traveling. We are each responsible for our own happiness, but that doesn’t mean that happiness is the same thing or defined by the same measures.

Ultimately, the point being made is that at 23 you don’t know enough about yourself or the world to make such a serious commitment- and I agree that for some people that is the truth. But the list of 23 things she recommends to reach the goal of finding/knowing yourself display the kind of immaturity and selfishness most of our generation is comprised of- resulting in that insane divorce rate. Just a few examples; numbers 3, 11, 15, 20, 22- (forcing you to at least LOOK at the article- hehe). These suggestions don’t seem healthy, productive, or efficient on a quest to ‘find one’s self’ or ‘knowing who you are’. As for the rest of them, they are things you can do while being married- and sharing life together. It’s just way more fun that way.

Ultimately, I’m no expert on marriage- hell I’ve only been married just shy of 6 months- and I may look back in a year or 20 and regret all these words. But I doubt it. Because in the end- there are lots of things better than being married at 23, I just don’t think sitting in front of a window naked is one of them.

***Disclaimer: I read some of Vanessa’s other posts- and they’re pretty good. I don’t think she’s a bad writer/person/etc.- I just don’t agree with the entirety of this post. Also, I give her lots of cred because if you read through the comments on this article PLENTY of people were very heated about it. I’m sure she saw that coming, but good she put her opinion out there anways.

Things I Don’t Have

Happy {almost} Thanksgiving!

What do you call a cranberry that’s upset?

blueberry.

Hahaha. So bad, but yet…you chuckled, I know you did.

Most of you have probably seen the “What I’m thankful for today” thing happening on Facebook. I love this idea- but am terrible at keeping up with something like that. So I figured I would just tell you here, about some of the things I’m thankful for.

Every year around this time- when the first frost hits- and we have that first night where we have to get the extra comforters out and turn the heat up (or on in my house- Mr. Flik thinks that when the house is just a few degree above freezing- it’s “warm”). Anyways, I always have the same thought. “I am so blessed”- which is kind of bittersweet to me, because as quickly as I’m reminded about how lovely it is to walk into a warm house after being in the biting cold wind, or to snuggle into a warm bed at the end of the day, I am reminded of those who are stuck outside.  Without as much as four walls to protect them from the wind and cold- blankets, a bed, or any kind of luxury.

Count your blessings. I think the art of gratefulness comes in two ways. Awareness of what you have, and also of what you don’t have. For me, I find myself being thankful more often than not for what I don’t have than what I do.

I think most would agree with me in saying, when you count your blessings you feel so rich, so lucky, and so secure. But when I count the things I don’t have that I could- I find myself feeling even much more blessed.

I don’t have any major illness, nor does anyone I love.

I don’t have an empty stomach or a cold home.

I don’t have an unreliable car, housing situation, or job.

I have not been a victim of violence or abuse.

I don’t have many big regrets, and while there are obstacles – I have many options of what I can do with my life. I am not doomed to one fate- with little hope or options of things being different.

I may live paycheck to paycheck- but at least I’m living, and there is a paycheck.

This is just a glimpse of the things or situations that so many others are dealing with- that I haven’t had to this year. I don’t write all this down and put it out there to boast about how good my life is- but to reflect on how many people have so much more going on. And while I’m whining about how cold it is as I stand at the gas pump, or run to the driveway to warm up my car- I think of those who have to walk, or take public transportation to work. While I debate working out- or am huffing and puffing on the treadmill- I think of people who would give anything to be able to work out. While I feel sorry for myself some days because I am so overwhelmed by life and making decisions on what to do with my career or future I think of single moms and dads working two jobs just to keep food on the table-whose last thought is pursuing his/her dreams. The people around the world who work in factories and sweat shops to barely get by (if you can even call it that)- while I feel bad because the options are so overwhelming-‘the world is my oyster’-to me is a blessing and a curse.

Overall, I think we forget about being grateful on a deeply sincere level-except in November. We are busy, we are tired, we are working for the next moment. And we forget what stands before us every day- that would change these moments dramatically if things were different. We complain about work instead of being glad we have a job to go to. We stand in our closets full of clothes with “nothing” to wear, we have “nothing” to eat with cabinets full of food. We complain about traffic, with no thought to the person who didn’t make it to work today. We are forgetful, and our perception and focus both become blurred- and sometimes we are just plain selfish. Guilty on all counts. November is a good time to remember this though- it’s the finishing of one year- and reflecting on that, and the start of a new year- full of hope and opportunity.

My new year’s resolution (I know, I know- wrong holiday. Looks like I’m starting early this year) is to worry less, and enjoy more. To slow down and look around. To give more attention to the little “unimportant” things with joy and laughter, and accept the big annoying things with grace and ease.

We are too blessed to sweat the small stuff, and time passes too quickly to be wasteful of it.
Also- more quotes. I told you I was addicted.

 

P.S. has anyone seen or heard that JcPenny’s commercial– the jingle is something like- “Shop, shop, shop, go, go go, drop the dishes and grab the keys!” It really bothers me. Like hello- forget about being grateful or the fact that it’s a holiday weekend- JUST SHOP! Ugh. And my heart goes out to those who have to work and be away from their families over the weekend. And kudo’s to stores like Nordstrom who aren’t open and don’t put up Christmas stuff until after Thanksgiving.

So here’s this.

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But really guys- Happy Thanksgiving!
And if you are going Black Friday Shopping- remember to mind your manners!

P.S.S. It won’t always be this serious around here. The wacky is coming…it’s going to be Lengen…wait for it….
(If you don’t watch ‘How I Met Your Mother” you should probably start)

On being THAT girl

A feminist I am not. A lady I am not (my poor husband). And THAT GIRL I certainly am not.

I think most women will understand what I mean when I say- “that girl”. A broad category for sure- but you know it when you see it. It’s a strange cocktail of attention thirsty, can’t leave his side, idolizing, insecure, or controlling girls. UGH, they are exhausting- and if my deduction skills are working, I’d say they are exhausted as well.

This is not a woman hating post. This is a newsflash.

I think men should be chivalrous. Because it’s nice. Not because I can’t open that door myself, or need you to pull my chair out for me- but because it shows a certain level of respect. It separates men from boys, and friends from lovers. You may wonder how I went from that girl to chivalry- really guys, it’s all tied together-I swear.

You see, I think as a whole in society women have wanted their independence so bad- gotten it (go us!) but then desperately wanted to be treated like a woman still. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. However, I think we have communicated one thing, and wanted another. We say; “I got this”- but then get mad when men don’t say; “Let me” (guilty-like caught red handed guilty). You teach people how they can treat you- and when men treat women independently (as they thought we wanted and as we do most times) we feel they aren’t trying hard enough. Why not just say; “Hey- don’t treat me like a child, but treat me with respect.” Disclaimer: I am not saying this is the root of all relationship problems, or that men do/don’t try hard enough (It could be women too!). These two themes have just come up a lot in my life lately, and I think in a way they relate. In how women have expectations, but then don’t stick to their own standards and get upset when things don’t turn out.

I read a really great article last week by John Picciuto (which you should go read- here) but one point he touched on was about how women need to start voicing their needs and not settling when they aren’t met. Grant it, I won’t call myself any kind of relationship guru. I will say I know what I want in relationships (not just romantically), and I am stubborn enough to not settle. I think the love, intensity, and care I offer into a relationship should be matched by the other person- a cycle of trying to outdo one another in kindness. I also think most people will rise to the occasion. But if women are willing to settle because all men are the same, or they’re told they are too picky, or that only happens in fairy tales (not that those aren’t real problems too)- but ignoring the little desires they have (i.e. romance, chivalry, or even textbook respect), and settling for the scraps- that is exactly what we will get.

I read a quote the other day that said; “A bitter woman says; ‘All men are the same’. A wise woman decides to stop chasing the same type of men”. I’m not sure who this is attributed to- but I want to fist bump with them (also, I really hope it was a woman- because that means at least one of us got it!). But seriously, I think so much would change in so many people’s dating lives if we stopped accepting things we didn’t think were good enough (men & women alike). If anyone hasn’t seen The Perks of Being a Wallflower yet, go see it immediately (theme of the movie: “We accept the love we think we deserve”). So get real with yourself for five minutes and stop staying in dead end relationships. Stop being that girl that is so thirsty to have a relationship she’ll take anything- instead of the best- or working for it for that matter.  YES