Posted in about me, cancer, ebb & flow, gratitude, motivation, physical health

An anniversary without which there are no others

It was a long, rectangular room, with posh reclining chairs lining three walls and turning the corners on the fourth. The remaining space had a counter with cabinets and maybe a sink behind it. I don’t remember more detail than that.

Except that attached to the front side of the counter was a small Liberty Bell replica, one that works.

On the last day of chemo, when you get up out of your comfy chair, poison coursing through your veins for the last time, you get to ring the bell.

Twelve years ago today, I rang the bell.

Of course, you’re nowhere near done with all that cancer or cancer treatment have to offer. The short-term side effects of that treatment were still looming. The long-term side effects … well … I’m not sure all of those ever go away. And of course, the increased risk of other cancers as a result of this cancer’s treatment? That doesn’t go away.

You really don’t know that cancer isn’t what kills you until you die of something else. I mean, it’s nowhere near acute any more, but I am, both medically and self-defined, at risk for cancer.

As per doctors, Leukemia, skin cancer, and breast cancer all gained some strength in their potential as a result of the treatments. They haven’t mentioned thyroid cancer, but they didn’t protect my thyroid during radiation treatments (that I recall), so I’d guess that one is on the list, too.

As per my own thinking, my body has already shown me that it’s willing to flip on the “good host” switch.

Sometimes being a good host is not a good choice.

So I do things to reduce my risk. As much as I possibly can? No. But quite a bit. (You could argue that it’s more than most people do, but how my body actually functions has nothing to do with that comparison, so I avoid it.)

I also work to reduce The Kid’s risk. Because there are even more carcinogenic materials in normal life than there were when I was young—and they affect fetuses and kids more than adults—but many of them are avoidable. (It might be my greatest frustration that making money trumps consumer safety, and the countless loopholes available to businesses who want to avoid inconvenient or potentially expensive restrictions on ingredients/components.)

All that said, it’s been a hell of a dozen years. The best of times, the worst of times, and all that.

I was doing well at living well, and then I got knocked off course. I’m on my way back to doing well at living well.

Grateful every day for health and mobility, even when it feels like being excused to lay on the couch for 6 months would be great.

I can vouch: it’s not great. (And I wasn’t even in bad enough shape from chemo actually to be laid up the whole time.)

I recommend being preventative as much as you reasonably can and picking one or two things to be diligent about. Don’t wait until you have a positive biopsy before you assess your habits. (Or, truly, any other unpleasant health diagnosis. Cancer is a big one, but it’s certainly not the only.)

You are worth the time, the energy, the effort.

 

Posted in mindset, motivation, tips

The motivating power of having a streak

I am just a few days shy of a year of daily blog posts here.

At the beginning, it was pretty easy, as the beginning often is. Because—exciting!

And then it was less easy. Because—work!

The last few weeks, there have been many days that, were it not for the streak, I wouldn’t have written and posted.

Apply that to you.

If you’re looking to make a habit, find a way to keep track (in a tangible way) of doing it daily. Mark a paper calendar, use an app, whatever.

Eating veggies. Drinking enough water. Getting enough sleep. Taking 15 minutes for yourself in a quiet space. Exercising. Talking to friends. Spending half an hour uninterrupted/distracted with your child. Or your spouse. Reading. Journaling. Making the quilt you’ve never made time for.

Whatever The Thing is that you need to make part of your life. Do it. Just a little bit. Every day. Keep track. Make a streak. Keep the streak alive. You can do it!

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, follow-up, gifts, meandering, motivation, vulnerability

Hello? Is this thing on?

I like to been seen. So do you. Might be in totally different ways or contexts or audiences, but we all want to be seen, understood.

As a kid, I was introverted and socially anxious, good academically, and eager to please. In elementary school, I more or less spoke when spoken to. I remember clearly getting in trouble for blurting out an answer once in fourth grade, and while I can’t say for sure that’s the only time it happened, it was rare enough that that once sticks out.

I was “seen” by doing my work well on time. A sticker or a pat on the back. Because that’s good enough at that level and that was enough.

As school got harder, I found a niche and a family in performing arts. I was never great at any of it, but I was dependable, and for what we were, that was enough.

And then we all grew up and life went in planned and unplanned ways, and some combination of social struggles (in part because of childhood emotional trauma, in part because we societally don’t value introverts), and “good enough” and “dependable” not being enough to be seen, and choosing a career path (teaching) that’s considered “less than,” and within that choosing a specialization (band) that is constantly fighting for time, students, space, validation, I’ve spent a lot of time feeling … invisible.

All this to say that this is why I have a stormy swirl of emotions regarding birthdays (and now also Mother’s Day).

Because I want to be seen. And if the anniversary of being born is a socially acceptable day to get positive attention, I’ll take it.

But we’re adults and I’ve certainly heard enough times to grow up, that birthdays are for kids (with the possible exception of milestone birthdays, though their importance is pretty random unless you’re becoming eligible or ineligible for something legally).

Birthdays always runs into gifts, and I’ve written about gifts before.

I don’t like obligatory, “I have to have something to give you” gifts. But I love gifts that are thoughtful. A couple of years ago, The Climbing Daddy threw a surprise party. A few people brought gifts: a stainless steel water bottle; a bag for dance shoes; a vegetarian cookbook for backpacking (or camping) and a gift card for REI; a pair of earrings from a friend who always picks out the best earrings. (Others, but that’s enough to make the point.) They are really different things, and they all say HEAT all over them. Having the party in the first place was amazing enough. Gifts that say “I see you, I know you” were icing on the proverbial cake.

 

 

Posted in follow-up, mindset, motivation

Another take on stealing creative work

I posted a bit about photographers wanting to use the Grinch for their holiday shoots and was schooled in copyright law in return. With permission, here’s what I was told. (Everything beyond this paragraph is not my writing, but most of it makes sense to me. Also, I learned a lot.) After you read it, let me know what you think.

The main issue I have with copyright is that the protection term is FAR too long.

The original copyright term in the US was 14 years.

After that, things went into the public domain and became part of our culture, free for anyone to use as they wish.

The term length crept up over the years, but even until the 1970s it was 28 years, with a 28-year renewal term if requested.

Then we signed a treaty that bumped it up to life-plus-50-years for individual creators, and 75 years for corporations.

Then, we bumped it up again to life+70 / 95 years.

This past January, works from *1923* entered the public domain.

It was the first time anything had entered the public domain in over 20 years.

Most of the massive expansion of the copyright term was driven by corporate interests, Disney in particular.

Which is even more ironic because Disney has made tens, possibly hundreds of billions of dollars by mining the public domain.

They create very few original characters.

They take from our shared culture, but refuse to give back.

Should I really feel bad about drawing a Disney character without compensation? How much did they compensate the Grimm brothers, or Victor Hugo, or de Villeneuve?

They’ve taken something that originated as part of our culture, popularized their specific version of it, and then charge us for it. They’ve basically monopolized our culture from us and act as gatekeepers to it.

Your specific example was the Grinch.

Dr. Seuss created the Grinch in 1957.

He’s been dead for what, 30 years?

The Grinch is part of our culture now and there’s compelling reason for his estate to continue to be able to profit from it, other than greed.

Lord of the Rings, the same. Tolkien’s been dead longer than I’ve been alive. Why is his 90-year old son still able to tell people they can’t make films of any of Tolkien’s work (aside from The Hobbit and LotR, to which Tolkien sold the film rights when he was alive and his son couldn’t claw them back)?

Copyright is not a law of nature.

It’s a bargain.

In order to promote the progress of science and useful arts, we grant creators a monopoly on their creative work for a limited time, so they can earn a living from it.

This is supposed to incentivize creators to create new work.

We’ve gone well past the balance point between incentive and greed, though.

Nobody is incentivized by receiving royalties from work created by their dead ancestors.

Patents and trademarks, the other main forms of intellectual property protection, are a great contrast, because they haven’t been distorted the same way (although drug companies are working hard on patents).

Patents last for 20 years.

Trademarks don’t have a defined term, but they can be “genericized” and lost.

This is why you can use kleenexes and the xerox.

There’s a balance there.

Which copyright has utterly lost.

I think that mostly ends my rant.

Posted in meandering, motivation

Designers vs. users vs. maintainers

I know this has 8 tons of application in computer/tablet/phone software, but that’s not where I’m going today.

What was this post inspired by?

Hotel bathrooms.

The lead photo is from our bathroom at a hotel we stayed at in California over the weekend. Two bath towels had already been used, so at presentation, there would have been four towels up there. Under the sink, there were two more full sets of towels available.

There were no hooks. Literally zero. Not on the walls, not on the back of the bathroom door, not near the shower, not near the sink. (I feel like this paragraph isn’t too many tweaks away from being Seuss-ish.)

That bar, where the hand towels and washcloths are, was the only place supplied to hang any wet towels.

Why?

Are people so gross that they don’t hang up wet towels?

Are people so [I don’t know what adjective] that they pull hooks out of the walls?

While this hotel was worse in this regard than most I’ve stayed at, I think maybe one ever had enough hooks or bars or anything for all the wet towels.

It wasn’t a high-end hotel. Was it just so cheap that they didn’t want to install hooks for wet towels? Did they used to have hooks but over time or with [undescribed] people, the hooks were removed and never replaced? Is it a design or a maintenance issue?

Inquiry minds want to know!