Word of the Week – Like

Word of the Week – Like

Sometimes the most common of words are the ones that have undergone the most change over the centuries. Case in point: like.

Now, the original meaning of like still makes plenty of sense: “having the same characteristics or qualities.” It dates from around 1200 and is a formation of an Old English word, gelic, which in turn came from a Proto-Germanic word of similar spelling that meant “having the same form.”

So what makes it interesting? How it was used. In those centuries gone by, like was used to describe how similar things were only, and usually in the phrases “like unto”…and it even had comparative and superlative forms until the mid 1600s! So that color could be liker the one I have, but that one is likest. (Fun, huh? I say we bring that back…)

In the 17th century, like was often used to mean “come near to, was likely,” as in “I like to spit out my drink from laughing.” American English developed the meaning of “be in the mood for,” as in “I feel like pizza tonight” round about 1860.

The meaning of “such as,” as in “a girl like her” is also from the 1880s. The slang filler word we’re taught to avoid in our Speech and Debate classes (He was, like, so fast) can be blamed on the “bop talk” of the 1950s

But things get interesting when you look at the verb form, rather than the adjective. Old English did also have this verb form…but back then, it meant “to please, be pleasing, be sufficient.” Etymologists aren’t exactly sure how it changed from being the property of the thing that is pleasing to the act of being pleased by something, held by the person. We see examples in Shakespeare of that original meaning–for instance in “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” we get the line “The music likes you not.” As in, pleases you not. Not a snarky way of saying that you’re no good at music. But round about Shakespeare’s time, the meaning had begun to shift to what we know it as today.

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Pink Isn’t My Color

Pink Isn’t My Color

Pink Isn’t My Color

How We Decide What Becomes Part of Our Identities

 

I had called the week before–both my primary care’s office and the radiology place that had done the biopsy. I’d been waiting two weeks for the results…but everyone was out of town, on vacation. So I called my PC’s office again, two weeks to the day after I’d had the biopsy done. The friendly receptionist told me about the problems they’d been having getting test results from the place that had done it, thanks to technical difficulties, but she reached out specifically to them.

And then said something I knew was bad news: “Can you come in at 12:45 today?”

We all know that they give good news over the phone. We all know that if they ask to see you, it’s not good news. So I rearranged my day, and my husband and I went in.

Even so, as my PC broke the news that I have breast cancer and went through what they knew thus far, I had the silliest thought:

But pink isn’t my color!

I know, I know. It’s a weird reaction. But it stayed there in the back of my mind all through the next weeks and the next steps. And it stayed because, I think, it represents something far deeper for me.

I don’t want to be identified as someone with breast cancer.

I finally put it into words a week or so later, as my husband and I sat in the car waiting for our son to come out of youth group. Words he needed, because they hit on something he’d been struggling with too.

First, allow me to offer this: I take no issue with people choosing to incorporate these battles into their identity. Whether it’s being a cancer survivor or a Type 1 Diabetic warrior, or parent or spouse or sibling, whether it’s being a Wounded Warrior or a stroke survivor or anything else–we all choose what we incorporate into our identities, and we have a right to do that. No judgment from me whatsoever. Allow me to also say that I’ve gotten some pink gifts in the last few weeks, and I am so, SO touched and grateful, and I love each one. As I walk through this cancer journey, I love seeing the ribbons that remind me that I’m not alone, and that we’re all fighting together. I love the pink pashmina shawl, and the beautiful bracelet. But much like most of my other articles of clothing and accessories, they may be something I wear, but they’re not who I am.

Because in our family, we tend to come down on it this way:

The only things that get to become part of our identity are the things we choose. Things that happen to us don’t get to define us.

Now, that said…how you react to the situations and circumstances you find yourself in IS a choice. And that’s why so many choose to embrace those things and identify with them. Which is why I’m A-okay with it.

But I look at our circumstances as the things that shape us into who we need to be to fulfill the call God has put on our lives. Those are the words my husband said to me as we were racing to the hospital while our son was being flown by helicopter to Pittsburgh Children’s PICU, in DKA from the onset of diabetes.

And it’s something we’ve lived out since. I’m in lots of groups for families of Type 1 Diabetics, and I know how much it governs the lives of many, many families. I see the water bottles and T-shirts and stickers they wear. Because they are warriors–the kids and their parents–and they’re proud of it.

But my son doesn’t want any of those things. My son is totally chill and laid back and deals with his disease responsibly. He doesn’t get upset by it. But he also doesn’t want it. If they announce a pill next week that will manage it all for him, he will be first in line. He would give it up if he could. Diabetes is something that happened to him–but he does not define himself as a diabetic. He doesn’t deny being one, and he’s not the type to ever be like, “No, call me ‘a person who has diabetes, not a diabetic'” because he knows that amounts to the same thing. But if Rowyn were to write his bio, it would probably say something like, “Avid gamer, good at math but hates it, loves the colors blue and black, can spend all day building things, whether physically or on the computer.” Nowhere in there would he feel the need to mention that he wears a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) or an OmniPod insulin pump. He accepts it as his reality–but not as his identity.

And that’s exactly how I feel about this breast cancer. I accept that it is my current reality. I accept that I have to deal with it, and I will. I’ll handle it responsibly, and I’ll be open and vulnerable about it, just like I am about Rowyn’s Type 1.

But you know what? Pink isn’t my color. I’m not going to wear the T-shirt. I’m not going to get the stickers. I’m not going to drink from the water bottle. Not because I mind other people doing those things–and I will cheer you on if I see you with that pink ribbon! But because this is not who I am. This is just what I’m going through right now. I plan to be a breast cancer survivor, a thriver. I feel such camaraderie for the others who have gone or are going (or will go) through it. Yes, we are a band of sisters who never would have chosen this path but who will walk it in faith. I embrace the sisters. I’ll share the story.

But it’s just a chapter–it’s not my whole book. It’s just a challenge–it’s not what defines the competitor. It’s my reality, not my identity.

How do we decide what becomes part of our identities?

We choose. We choose what we leave as our legacy. We choose what we focus on. If you’ve chosen to embrace being a warrior and the battle you’ve been through, that’s awesome.

But I am not a warrior. I am someone who sometimes go to battle. It’s what I do–it’s not who I am.

I am the Beloved of God. I am the daughter of Ron and Karen. I am the sister of Jennifer. I am the wife of David. I am the mother of Xoe and Rowyn. I am a writer. I am a friend. Those things are what I will let define me, be part of my identity. The people I love, the calling God put on my heart, the words He put in my mouth (or in my fingers, LOL), the belonging to Him.

You can strip away my human relationships, you can take my physical abilities, you can even strip away my words, and my core being will still be intact, because it’s rooted in Him. But I am happiest with my people, with my books.

Not with my cancer. Strip that away, and I’ll still be me. But when it is taken away–and I believe it will be–I’ll be a stronger version of me. That’s what the battles are for. To shape us and strengthen us, and even to break down the parts of us that God knows we’re better off without. The Roseanna that emerges will be a better Roseanna than the one who stepped onto this path that Tuesday in her primary care’s office.

And she won’t be wearing pink.

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Word of the Week – Audition

Word of the Week – Audition

I’ve never really paused to think about the word audition before…but it turns out, its modern meaning is not where it began.

When you look at the word and note the audi- root, you’ll realize that it’s linked to the act of hearing or listening, like audio. So it makes sense that the original meaning of the word, from the 1590s, was “a hearing.” But it carried more of a legal sense–a court hearing, or some other event where the act of listening was the crucial thing.

The sense we most associate with the word today, of a performer doing a trial run for judges, didn’t come around the 1880s! And even then, it was only a noun. You would go to an audition…but audition as a verb only dates from the 1930s!

Have you ever gone on an audition? I have, for both music and theater, in my middle and high school days. Happy to say I always landed a part, though the nerves, man…the nerves! ūüėČ

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Update on Roseanna

Update on Roseanna

Well, here I am, 10 days after my first infusion of chemotherapy. So many of you have reached out privately to say you’re praying and ask how I’m doing–and many just say you’re praying and don’t want to be a bother so say I don’t have to reply, LOL. So I thought I’d do an official update.

As David drove me to the hospital on Monday, May 13, and asked what I was feeling, my answer was that I was…curious. I like to know things. How was I going to react to the chemo itself, as it went in? (That first time they do it super slowly to watch for allergic reactions.) How would I react over the next couple of days and weeks? Whether the answers were what I wanted or not, I was glad to be to the point where I’d be discovering them.

I have to say that one¬†of the most impactful things about the¬†whole¬†experience has been how wonderful the staff are at the hospital we’re going to.¬†It’s a 90-minute drive but worth every minute. I just went up again yesterday for another biopsy, and it struck me anew–everyone was so loving,¬†so thoughtful, so¬†conscientious of¬†me¬†and my needs. And that’s been true of absolutely everyone I’ve encountered. The infusion itself went great, and my¬†biggest¬†praise since is that I can already feel the tumor shrinking. Praise God for that! And the bone scan last week agreed with the CT that nothing has spread, so I am so grateful and relieved about that!

The first five days were relatively fine afterward. My taste buds are¬†definitely¬†weird right now–anything salty¬†just¬†tastes totally bland to me, a¬†normal¬†dusting of black pepper burns my mouth, but sweet stuff still tastes¬†fairly¬†normal. (Bring on the chocolate! LOL)¬†Thursday¬†I began experiencing the most common side effect of this particular treatment, which is, ahem, intestinal distress. The weekend wasn’t fun, I admit it. I’ve had quite a few queasy days. And I haven’t been able to sleep well, so I’m more tired than I’d hoped¬†to be.

But it’s starting to ease up. When I’m writing this, I feel pretty¬†normal.¬†That can change minute to minute, but I’m enjoying the respitealong with¬†some of the other oddities¬†that¬†I’ve noticed.¬†The last couple of days, soft things feel¬†so¬†soft.¬†I know that sounds weird, but when I lean against a blanket, it¬†just¬†feels like it envelopes me in¬†cushiness.¬†The bed feels¬†awesome¬†when I lie down. The car seat was¬†so¬†comfortable. It’s absolutely bizarre, LOL, but also¬†nice. And thanks to that shrinkage already, I can sleep on my side again for the first time in months! And for whatever reason, body odor has vanished.¬†Didn’t¬†see that one coming, but I’ll take it!

For¬†several days last week,¬†my scalp felt very tender, but that has gone away.¬†I¬†was warned¬†that hair loss¬†couple¬†begin immediately¬†and that it¬†most commonly hits at 2-3 weeks after the first treatment and can¬†really¬†strike any time.¬†So far, nothing abnormal there. But I’m prepared. I have my crazy purple wig (I tried it on,¬†y’all, and I didn’t even recognize myself! LOL) and a pretty white lightweight knit chemo hat¬†thing. So, you know, if I wake up bald before church one morning, I don’t have to panic.

So there we go. I’ve had a few rough days, but nothing debilitating thus far.¬†And I continue to be¬†so,¬†so blessed by the flood of cards¬†and little¬†gifts and donations.¬†Some from good friends, some from people whose names I don’t even recognize, all of which fill me with such humbleness and love.¬†God is so good, and His children¬†are reflecting¬†that so clearly in my life¬†right now.¬†Please know that I treasure every note, every prayer, and every thought. I’m saving up all the cards that have come in, and it’s a mighty pile already! Just seeing it there by my desk fills my heart with such peace.

This¬†may not be the road I would have chosen freely, but it’s¬†a road filled with beauty nevertheless.¬†A road filled with love and¬†joy¬†and¬†peace.¬†Thank you for reminding me every step of the way that I’m not alone.

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Word of the Week – Meme

Word of the Week – Meme

Did you know that meme was coined as a scientific word in the 1970s?

Yep. Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist, wanted a word to describe ideas or behaviors that quickly spread from person to person within a culture, so he came up with meme, from the Greek mimesthai. His own thought-process is thus:

We need a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. ‘Mimeme’ comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like ‘gene’. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. If it is any consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related to ‘memory’, or to the French word m√™me. It should be pronounced to rhyme with ‘cream’. [Richard Dawkins, “The Selfish Gene,” 1976]

By 1997, popular computer culture had picked up the word and used it to mean “images or snippets of video, audio, or text that spread rapidly from one internet user to another.”

Bet you didn’t know that the meme you just shared is part of the study of biology, did you? ūüėČ

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