Posted in Life As I Know It

The “Lasts” Go By in the Blink of an Eye

Odd, anxious kid that I was, when the dog that I grew up with got older, I used to “practice” saying goodbye to her. I would think to myself, “What if this was the last time you’re ever going to get to pet her?” And…in those moments, I could never stop petting her until I let go of that morose notion. Continue reading “The “Lasts” Go By in the Blink of an Eye”

Posted in Life As I Know It

“When I Was Your Age” and 4 Other Phrases Kids LOVE to Hear

If I want to ensure that a deep sigh billows out of my son’s mouth, all I need to do is begin a conversation with, “When I was your age…” and wait a beat. Whoomp! There it is! Few things are dependable in life, but this is one of them.  Continue reading ““When I Was Your Age” and 4 Other Phrases Kids LOVE to Hear”

Posted in Life As I Know It

How Will He Remember Me?

As I was reading over my “On This Day” Facebook reflection this morning, one of the memories was: Continue reading “How Will He Remember Me?”

Posted in Life As I Know It, Soapbox

What Would Get You to Take It All Off?

Last week, my sister took it all off. In front of hundreds of people, she bared herself in a way she has never done before. And she did it for money. If you know her, you’re not too surprised at this behavior. She tends to do stuff like this.

 

hanger

 

Stuff like raising over $1500 for childhood cancer research by shaving her head.

Did you think I meant something else? Sigh. Get your mind out of the gutter, people.

My sister, Theresa, shaved her head last Friday as a way to raise money for St. Baldrick’s childhood cancer research. As a fun incentive for people to donate, the organization (named as a combination of “bald” and “St. Patrick’s,” since the first event was held March 17, 2000) encourages people to raise funds for research by pledging to shave their heads.

 

trying to capture the two of us--and her hair--in one last photo
trying to capture the two of us–and her hair–in one last photo

 

Theresa is a teacher, and her high school has been supporting St. Baldrick’s for a few years. At the very moment she was speaking with a teacher about being a “shavee” this year, another colleague walked into the room and shared that his grandson had to have his eye removed in his battle with cancer. It was a powerful coincidence that fueled my sister’s commitment to participate. Not surprisingly, she chose to sponsor this boy in her efforts. (The boy has since gotten his labs back, and, thank God, he is now cancer-free.)

 

since she is donating her hair, it needs to be in ponytails
since she is donating her hair, it needs to be in ponytails

 

My sister and I hate cancer. (Is there anyone who doesn’t?!) It’s not only taken our dad, but affected too many people that we know and love. And—just too many people, period. It is an insidious, horrible disease—but research is making strides. As the St. Baldrick’s website notes, “In the 1950s, almost all kids diagnosed with cancer died. Because of research, today about 90% of kids with the most common type of cancer will live. But for many other types, progress has been limited, and for some kids there is still little hope for a cure.”

 

quite the transformation
quite the transformation

 

I am very proud of Theresa for “taking it all off.” (I won’t gush much more, as she already accuses me of posting schmaltz.) She not only raised a chunk of money for research, but she was also able to donate her hair to an organization that will use it to make hairpieces for disadvantaged children suffering with hair loss for various reasons. Shaving her head was a double win.

 

check out the hair she is holding in her hand to be donated!
check out the hair she is holding in her hand to be donated!

 

And, in a way, it was also a kind of triple win, as well—at least for Theresa—because her decision to shave her head had another layer of personal impact.

You see, my sister and I both started going gray in our early 20s, and we are now predominantly (and prematurely, mind you!) gray. As I’ve shared before, deciding when and if to cease the coloring madness is not easy. Both (originally) brunettes, if we stopped coloring our hair, we would have to deal with a defined line of brown-to-white until it all grew out. Who wants to look like variations of a skunk tail for months? Not me.

But when my sister committed to shaving her head for St. Baldrick’s, she also decided that she would let it grow back au natural. I found this to be a brilliant plan. No ugly outgrowth! Just new, healthy hair. That is just smart all over the place.

Who knows? It may be the route I take when I decide to make the transition. I will watch my sister’s journey and perhaps it will inspire me to one day do the same. (After all—I have time if I am to follow in my sister’s footsteps, as she is MUCH older than me. You’re welcome, T.)

 

with "Shelly the Head Shaver"
with “Shelly the Head Shaver”

 

Doesn’t she look great?

So far, she is loving it. As she recently shared on Facebook:

Shaving head for St. Baldrick’s – $1,585!
Savings in hair products per month – $17
Time saved every morning – 25 minutes
Startling myself every time I pass a mirror – PRICELESS!

Her bold commitment has also, in a way, set her free.

Of course, when I wrote the title for this post, I was hoping that the salacious nature of it would make you want to read it…

But there is a “real” reason for it, too. Those who shave their heads for St. Baldrick’s are ready to drastically change their appearance—at least for a while—to help the battle against cancer.

What are you willing to commit to? What will move you enough to say, “for this, I will endure some discomfort/pain/sacrifice/risk”?

I know I’m not ready to shave my head quite yet. While I did do the AVON 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer a few years back, I’m not courageous enough to go cue ball like my sister. But understanding what it is that you are willing to “take it all off” for is an important thing to know about yourself, don’t you think?

What will you put yourself on the line for?

If you feel comfortable enough to share in a comment below, please do.

And…way to go, T!

 

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Posted in Life As I Know It

I Should Have Asked for a Horse

horse 2Though I don’t get sick a whole lot these days, I definitely did as a kid. The kind of sick where I would have to miss a week or two of school. It wasn’t very fun at all.

Thankfully, with the help of immunity boosters, I eventually grew out of it, and by my sophomore year of high school was ecstatic that I received my first perfect attendance certificate. My friends thought I was nuts to be happy about that, but I knew how wonderful it was to have that many days of health in a row.

But let’s get to the hamsters.

During one of my bouts of illness when I was about seven or eight, I needed to go to the emergency room because I wasn’t doing very well. While lying on the hospital bed, I watched my mom and dad talking to the doctor, and when my dad looked over at me, my little arm went up and a weak little finger wagged him over.

“What is it, Honey?” he asked. And in what must have been an awfully endearing yet pathetic moment, I mustered the energy to whisper, “Dad…can I please have a hamster?”hamster 3

“Baby, you can have anything you want…” and he kissed my forehead and went back to the doctor. Though I was happy to have gotten the “yes” I wanted, I thought to myself, “Anything? Shoot, I should have asked for a horse!”

But it was the hamster I had asked for, and my dad kept his word.

Once well, we went to the pet store and picked out two hamsters—one for me, and one for my older sister.

They were just adorable—and so cute in their little Habitrail home and bubble ball to roam in.

habitrail

But then the bloodshed came.

My sister’s hamster killed mine one day while I was at school. My mom took the remaining one back to the pet store and announced “I have a murderer in my car.” The clerk said he would take that one home and care for it while he replaced both hamsters for us.

We were back in business.

(Let me just make a side note and say that this wasn’t the first time my sister’s pet kicked the crap out of my pet. Before our hamster days, we had two dogs that “went to the farm” because her dog wouldn’t stop attacking mine. Hmmm. But that’s for another day.)

Back to the hamsters.

Our two new ones were off to a great start—until the male ate the brand new babies one morning. That was absolutely awful to find their chewed up little pink carcasses in the corner.

Who knew there was so much to learn about these little furballs?

After that episode, we read up on what to do when the female gives birth and then they had a successful litter. It was hard finding good homes for all of the hamsters when the time came, but it was a good lesson, too.

hamster 4

I guess you could call this the blissful period of our hamster days.

As time went on, the male died, and we only had Tinker, the mama, remaining with us. All was well, until one day when she just wasn’t moving. She appeared to be dead.

My dad felt awful as he realized that he had used an oil-based paint nearby where her Habitrail was, and that the fumes had probably killed her.

With great solemnity, he wrapped her in newspaper, placed her in the garbage, and told me about it. (Had I been the one to discover her, I would have fought for a proper burial!)

Late that night, my mom was reading the hamster book when she read that hamsters sometimes go into hibernation.

Though it was the middle of July, my mother and father dug the hamster out of the garbage, started a fire in the fireplace and placed her stiff little body near it to warm her and bring her back to life.

And they waited.

And waited.

Let’s just say little Tinker was in permanent hibernation.

This concluded the hamster chapter of our lives.

Yep, I should have asked for the horse.

Though the housing would have required much more than a Habitrail, I’m pretty sure that these other horrific occurrences would have been avoided, and I would have been riding free through the meadows of life.

horse

Well…a girl can dream, can’t she?

Posted in Soapbox

Let It Go: An Anthem for Girl Power

frozen_elsa_by_meddek-d6w674hDisney’s movie Frozen has a song in it called “Let It Go” that seems to have taken on a life of its own. I loved the movie, and I know my son enjoyed it, but…it obviously didn’t resonate with him the way it did with me.

In fact, as I was caught up in the story and song (and the new reclining lounge seats in the theater were a lovely bonus), he turned to me and said, “It’s good and all, but I think there’s too much singing.”

Well, Doug Downer, what’s up with that?

I’ve since read countless Facebook comments from my friends with little girls remarking that their daughters know the song by heart and won’t stop singing it. It is so popular that Disney re-released the movie in a sing-along version.

So…why? Why is this song so popular?

Well, just take a(nother) listen…

It is a captivating song about embracing your power and letting your fears go to become the person you were meant to be. Who doesn’t love that?

Yet it is definitely something that has caught on with girls more than boys. Granted, it’s not the typical movie that would become a boy’s favorite—after all, it is about two sisters (“ew!”) and their story, so it is not necessarily something that boys would gravitate toward, but I think there’s more to it.

Though Disney can’t seem to have a female lead that isn’t storybook gorgeous, the song’s message is not about embracing the power of your sexuality but rather your true gift…whatever that might be. If you notice in the clip, it doesn’t take Elsa long to hone that gift into amazing beauty once she decides to declare it.

And now, lookout people, because I’m about to go uber soapbox here.

We need to embrace who we are—all of us—but we need to particularly teach our girls that they need to embrace who they are and not try to fit into the cookie cutter mode of what is “expected” of women in this culture.

Maybe our girls are rocking out on it because they need to hear that it is okay to let it go and be themselves. Maybe they need to hear it more than we are saying it. Even in 2014. And maybe we grown women need to hear it, too.

Like the words in the song, we need to not care about what others say and let go of that “perfect girl” and the “good girl” and find out what beauty lies within us.

It seems like a non-argument to raise each other up for our true gifts and encourage our own truths, but that’s not what we as a society are teaching really, is it?

In this culture of celebrity and over-sexualized objectification, I think we have a lot more work to do.

I remember learning long ago how even in body language females are taught to “fold in” while males are taught to stretch out, and I find it to be true—women are encouraged in general to take up less space.

And then I see little six-year-old girls in dance class being taught how to bump and grind like grown women and wear full makeup and dress beyond their years, and I wonder what message they are taking away from that.

And girls who only want to be cheerleaders (go ahead and call it a sport, but it is rooted in cheering the boys on rather than participating in the sport itself) because they don’t want to “be a jock,” and I wonder why that label is so unappealing to them.

Please know that I am not saying that being a dancer or cheerleader is inherently wrong—but I do think that we need to pay attention to the messages that might lurk within.

After all—if that is the true gift for someone—to dance or do complex cheerleading mounts, then go for it! But if it is done because of “shoulds” and fears of not wanting to stand out in the “wrong” way, then I say we need to LET IT GO.

Let it go. Forget what the world sees in you or expects of you and look for what makes your heart truly beat…and then DO it.

Without apology. Without worry that you will be seen as less.

Because it is only when you let it go and let yourself be who God made you to be that you can be all the MORE you were meant to be.

Even if it means being out in the cold…just remember to tell yourself…

…the cold never bothered me anyway.