Tag Archives: health

I’m Trying Not To Use The Word “Crazy” To Describe Things

A few weeks ago I read an article somewhere (I know, my citing abilities are incredible) about how using the word “crazy” to describe things was insulting to people who have a mental illness. The article  got my attention because I call everything crazy. If someone tells me something absurd I say, “That’s just crazy.” If I see a wild pattern on a shirt I say, “Look at that crazy shirt!” If my dog turns into a rabid, rage machine I say, “He just went crazy!” If someone asks me if I like chocolate I reply, “Are you crazy? I’m crazy about chocolate!”

So, yeah, me and crazy have a long history. I also use the word insane. A lot. Like, “That is insane.” I say that for everything. The teacher wants your kid to do twelve worksheets for homework? Well, that is just insane. The insurance company wants to raise the premium by $100, well, that is insane. The store was mobbed? It was insane. The kids pestering me every second: They drove me insane. You want to go to South America this summer? That would be an insane trip.

I know. It’s some weird shorthand I’ve developed to replace all of the other words. It’s kind of sad that this is what I have to show for my many years of education.

Why I am trying to stop using the word crazy

I’m not a bad person. I promise. I’m mostly good. I never even think about people with mental illness when I am using these two words.  Mostly I use “crazy” to describe things that seem extreme. I’d argue that I am using a different definition of the word crazy. I don’t use it to mean deranged, lunatic, or mad (words I found when looking up the definition of crazy). Ouch. That would be insulting.

But really, this is what I tell myself to justify my word choices. I’m not trying to be cruel or heartless, but It’s not up to me to decide what is hurtful to other people, so I have to pause. I have to think. I have to empathize. I mean, people used to call things retarded without even thinking about the implications. I’m pretty much doing the same thing with the word crazy. I have to wonder, would it kill me to use a different word? Would putting a little more effort into how I describe things be that much of an imposition? It’s important to me that people feel safe and comfortable around me. Choosing a different word seems a small price to pay for that comfort.

Besides, when it comes down to it, I use the words crazy and insane because I am lazy. I mean, I have a much bigger vocabulary than that. I could use any of the following words instead: foolish, silly, absurd, ridiculous, ludicrous, preposterous, farcical, laughable, risible, nonsensical, harebrained, cockamamie, half-baked, impracticable, unworkable, ill-conceived, senseless…

I could say I am passionate about chocolate. I could say my dog barked until his voice went hoarse because he was so angry that someone knocked on the door. Sure, it takes a little longer sometimes, but I could say all sorts of things instead of “crazy” and sound smarter doing it.

I’m working on that. Old habits don’t break easily. I have to stop mid-sentence sometimes and rephrase what I want to say. I forget too and an occasional “that’s just crazy” will slip out. I’m a work in progress. I am putting in the effort though so I hope that counts for something. I heard your complaint and I am trying to rectify the situation as best I can. One sentence at a time.

My daughter just had “crazy hair and sock day” at school. How cool would it be if next year they called it “cockamamie hair and sock day” instead? Or even just the simple version: Silly sock and hair day.

There are plenty of good options that don’t make people feel bad. I’m up for the challenge, how about you?



This Young Mom With Cancer Needs Our Help

Linda Shaver Gleason  has stage IV breast cancer. It’s spread to her spine. She is 31 years old and she has a little boy named Linus (and he has the cutest, chubby cheeks I’ve ever seen!). I don’t know Linda personally. She’s a friend of a friend, but I know she is a real person and that she needs our help.

Linda is a musicologist, a wife, and a mother. I find her story so compelling because, as a mom, one of my worst fears is not being here for my daughter. When I think about my daughter having to grow up without me guiding her, protecting her, and loving her I can’t sleep at night. When I watched the video of Linda with her son on the fund raising site youcaring.com I knew I had to do everything in my power to help her pay her medical bills. She needs to survive this cancer. As the video says, she has a lot to live for. We can help her do that by taking away some of the financial worries and burdens her family is experiencing. Her main focus needs to be on kicking cancer in the ass and reclaiming her health. I want to help her focus on being that kind of warrior.

This Young Mom With Cancer Needs Our Help


Tweet the fundraiser now:  


Linda’s music department started a fundraiser for her. You can visit it here: Help Linda Shaver-Gleason Survive Cancer. Read her story and watch the video. If you have a few extra dollars please consider donating to her fundraiser. If you don’t, please consider sharing her fundraiser with your friends, family, and community. It’s important that we help each other when we can. Generosity, compassion, and kindness are values we hold dear so let’s practice them by supporting this family through a time when they truly need a community filled with love to help them fight the good fight. There will be times in our own lives when we will need the help of others too. We may even need the help of strangers. All of the good we put out into the world comes back to us exponentially. It’s important to be good neighbors.

Will you help?

I’ve put the fundraising widget in my sidebar. As of today, they have 61 days left  to meet their goal. Please consider helping this family offset the costs of their medical bills.

Thank you!

Asbestos Awareness Week

I was surprised to learn that people are still suffering from exposure to asbestos. I thought asbestos was a thing of the past. We all know how bad it is for our health and that it has to be removed very carefully from old buildings. I assumed it was no longer used and that it likely only existed in a few old, abandoned buildings if it existed at all. Apparently that is not the case and asbestos is still being used in the U.S. to the tune of 30 million pounds per year. That shocked me!

The other day I was listening to a news podcast when a story about Libby, Montana came on. The story highlighted a woman named Gayla Benefield and how for years she had tried to get people to pay attention to what was happening in her town. People were dyeing from asbestos related cancer at a rate that seemed statistically impossible. Entire families were developing this cancer. It was normal to see people in their fifties walking around with oxygen tanks. (source)

After Benefield got the attention of the media and the government an investigation found that a local mine was responsible. Vermiculite had been mined for 40 years and over that time period the vermiculite, which was tainted with asbestos dust, was distributed all over the town, including playgrounds, baseball fields, and roads (source). People were being poisoned for years and from early childhood on. The EPA later conducted a massive cleanup of the entire town.

The story really stuck with me. I’ve thought about it for days imagining how helpless town members must have felt as one by one their bodies succumbed to cancer. Then I got an email from Heather Von St. James asking me to help her share her story for Asbestos Awareness Week 2015.  She is a Mesothelioma cancer survivor.  Her father worked with asbestos and, due to that second-hand exposure, she developed cancer decades later. Mesothelioma isn’t curable, but it can be treated to prolong life and slow down the advancement of the disease. This is why early detection is so crucial. St. James underwent a new surgery called extrapleural pneumonectomy and refers to her recovery from the disease as “miraculous.” She spends her time writing and speaking about Mesothelioma cancer and raising awareness about asbestos exposure. She is a tireless, devoted advocate for other victims of Mesothelioma.

I was incredibly moved by her story and commitment to helping others. I wanted to help her spread her message: Through awareness there is hope.

Asbestos Awareness Week

If you were exposed to asbestos as a child it is important to let your primary care doctor know so you can both be aware of symptoms and the possible development of cancer. For more information visit the  Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance at www.mesothelioma.com.

If you would like to know which products in the U.S. have asbestos in them the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website lists them here and also has links to the regulatory history if you want to know the years asbestos was banned from certain products.

Please help us spread the news about Asbestos Awareness Week 2015 (April 1st – 7th) so people can get treatment sooner rather than later and so all of us can be more aware of the toxins in our environment. The sooner people are aware the sooner we’ll develop a cure and hopefully eradicate the use of asbestos all together. Let’s help keep hope alive for people facing this disease.

My Mother-In-Law developed lung cancer after her ovarian cancer spread to her lungs this past year. She was not suffering from exposure to asbestos, but the cancer did affect her pleural cavity and it was difficult for her to breathe. Your lungs fill up with fluid and it is like drowning from the inside out. Breathing is life so you can imagine how uncomfortable it is to suffer from lung cancer. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone. I hope we can find a way to prevent and cure all forms of cancer. So many of us have lost loved ones to this disease. It is heartbreaking and devastating to watch family members and friends deteriorate right before our eyes. My hope is that one day we will have the knowledge and ability to prevent cancer from taking the lives of the people we love.