No whining allowed

#ReverbBroads2012 Prompt Day #5: Come up with a new Constitutional Amendment (yep, I am breaking the “rules” and skipping around! Thanks, Brenda!)

I hereby decree that the next amendment to the Constitution of these amazing United States should be: If you whine about it, volunteer to change it

Definition of whining: to complain about in a feeble or petulant way.

That pretty much covers it. We all whine. We all vent our frustrations. It is human. We see an injustice or something doesn’t go our way at work and we shout from the Facebook, blog, Twitter rooftops: “Hey, I was wronged! ” Or, we don’t like the way an event or program has been planned and we chime in with snarky comments after everything has been done. We have all been there. Heck, sometimes we have even been that person. The angry staff member or committee member who did not jump on board when the opportunity for involvement was offered at the outset, suddenly sweeps in at the last minute to offer advice, with a smirk and barely veiled disdain. “Well, I wouldn’t have done it that way.” Then, crosses his/her arms and continues to pout until the meeting is over. Yep, pretty petulant.

I know myself quite well. I have a big mouth. I whine. I vent. A lot. Sometimes it can take me a few days (okay, with some stuff it is weeks!) to pull myself out of my self-indulgent slump. But, I always do. After I am done whining, I move into action mode. I open my big mouth and I volunteer myself to help. I speak up with suggested improvements and changes. This is how I came to be an RA, Orientation Leader, writer for the student newspaper, AmeriCorps volunteer, student affairs professional, committee member, conference planing committee member, MBTI certified, non-profit volunteer, bald Momma….

And therein lies my suggested amendment. If you whine about it, volunteer to change it.

Don’t like the music program at your kids’ school? Volunteer to be on the curriculum committee or PTO.

Wish you had a more flexible schedule? Talk to your supervisor.

Don’t like the lack of female representation on a university committee? Get on the committee.

Frustrated with your Congressperson? Write a letter. Make a phone call. Take your cause to the web. Twitter is quite powerful.

Do not be a petulant child who chimes in from the cheap seats after the fact. Whining is not helpful to the cause. It creates unnecessary drama, is disrespectful of the people who have actually devoted their time and talents to the cause, and it hurts morale. Whining is inevitably about the whiner. Usually the whiner is hurt, or angry, or unhappy with themselves about something. Don’t engage it. Push back and encourage involvement.

Just. do. something. Anything.

But no whining!

Tarantulas, Sharks, Monkeys, and….Relapse

#ReverbBroads2012 Prompt for Day 2: What gives you nightmares?

In general, I am not afraid of spiders. I don’t like them, but I am also not the type to stand on top of the toilet seat or dining room table while some man comes in to rescue me from a daddy long legs. I just wad up a bunch of TP and attack it. Then, flush it away and moving on. However, tarantulas are in an entirely different category. Just the thought of one gives me goosebumps and makes me feel nauseous (nauseated?). I lived in the desert in AZ for a year and the entire time I was there I was irrationally afraid that a tarantula would make its way into our house. I think most of this fear stems from that episode of The Brady Bunch, when they all go to Hawaii, and a tarantula ends up on Peter’s face. Anyone who grew up in the late 70s/early 80s knows exactly what I am talking about. Creepy! I think it’s the hair. On the tarantula, not Peter 😉

I grew up in NJ. Our vacation every summer was two weeks at “the shore.” (For those uninformed, this is the real Jersey Shore, not that trashy MTV show that ruined it for all of us Jerseyans and forever tainted the rest of the world.) I have also seen the movie Jaws. So, there you go. Pretty natural fear of sharks. Although I am an excellent swimmer, I never ventured too far out into the ocean. Why risk it? Interesting side note, my husband is obsessed with the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week.” Stays up until 2 or 3am because he.cannot.turn.away. Then he has nightmares for a week and I get to hear all about them. And then I have nightmares.

I think monkeys are creepy. I love chimpanzees and find gorillas fascinating. But monkeys creep me out. I think it is the annoying oooohhhh-ahhhhhh sound they make. Ugh. Cannot stand it. You know that scene in Toy Story 3 when they tape up the monkey so they can escape from day care? Sets my teeth on edge. Blah! I have to cover my ears when we watch it.

I hesitate to write this next part. I am trying hard to have less cancer and more hope in my life. I am trying not to make every single post about our family’s journey with childhood cancer. But, me being the rule-follower that I am, I feel I must really answer the question.

What gives me nightmares?

That my son’s cancer will relapse and he will die.

Our older son is a cancer survivor. This is a miracle. He is a miracle. He is a fighter. He is a survivor. He was stage 4, with a very aggressive diagnosis (Rhabdomyosarcoma).

It is hard to release these words to the universe. As if somehow saying them out loud might make them true. Silly. Irrational. Even saying that makes me sound crazy. I know this. But once your life has been touched by cancer, everything takes on new meaning, both good and bad. And, you don’t go back to your old life or your old self, because neither of them exist. While my son is two years off treatment and has been cancer free since October 2009, the fear of relapse is an absolute terror that I keep at bay every day. It is a dark shadow that creeps into my room and my dreams at night. When I kiss him goodnight, my heart stops. I bury my face deep into his neck and I inhale. I am trying to memorize his smell. I rub my hand all over his head, which thankfully now has hair. I put my hand over his heart and try to match its rhythm to my own. I kiss his cheek, rub his back. And I thank God that I have been given another day with him.

At night, I have dreams of him running across fields of sunflowers, flying kites on the beach with his brother and grandpa, swimming in the ocean with my mom, going to college, getting married. I have nightmares that all of this will be stolen from us.

I am not sure what to say next. There is no Hollywood ending to this movie. There is no bow to wrap this package. It is my life. I choose to fully live it. Nightmares and all.

The 11th and 12th things I will never do

11. I will never say to another momcologist, grieving parent, or friend, “Well, at least (insert name of loved one here) is no longer suffering. S/he is in a better place.” Again, these words are patronizing and insulting to the person hearing them. Not everyone believes in an afterlife where a person’s physical and spiritual selves are reunited and restored. Not everyone believes in God or Heaven. A statement like this assumes that the person you are speaking with believes what you believe and that they might find some comfort in these words. Maybe. But probably not. It is my experience that people who say such things do not know what else to say, or have no personal experience from which to speak.

12. I will never use this forum (or Facebook or Twitter) to complain about my children. It makes me sad when I see these posts (too often, if you ask me). If you have time to post on Facebook about your child’s behavior, then you have time to get off Facebook and address it. Children are a blessing to be cherished. Children are the greatest gift and legacy that we can leave on this world. I want my children to look back on my words and be proud and maybe even a little inspired (if I am lucky). All that I do and say should lift them up, not tear them down.