Monthly Archives: December 2015

Truth, Peace and Holiday Values

The holiday season is upon us. Traditionally this is a time for reflection on our values, both our personal values and those shared by society at large. We are also in the midst of a heated political campaign season, made divisive largely through a fearful shift throughout our culture. Because these holidays, pretty universally across religious boundaries, are focused on peace, it seems like a good time to consider some of the foundational concepts that have created the divisiveness we are experiencing. By addressing some of these, perhaps the peace we aspire to will be easier to grasp for all of us.

The topics of gun control, national security and terrorism, taxes, healthcare and climate change are issues we all agree are important to our society. Ideological divides often prevent productive conversations on these issues, largely because we, as a society, are quite uninformed about the facts underlying each issue. And our politicians frequently do not help this situation, preferring to fan the fires of discontent rather than address issues in an open and honest fashion. We, however, as cognizant and inquisitive humans, have the ability to sidestep the easy rhetoric and parroting of sound bytes in order to debate issues in a civil manner not currently reflected by many high-profile politicians and certainly not reflected by most pundits in the media. Continue reading Truth, Peace and Holiday Values

The Risks of Critical Thinking

I almost never reblog another writer’s work, but I think that this one is worth sharing with a wider audience (partly because I don’t have the time to write my own riff on the topic today). I have written many times about the importance of critical thinking, and I believe it is not being well taught in our schools much of the time. It seems to me that too many adults in these here United States are under-practiced in basic critical thinking skills, so it is difficult to merely fault the students or their teachers. This is a problem that should start and end at home, with school being a place to practice and develop an existing skill, rather than create one from scratch.

Anyway, for your reading pleasure, my friend Elena’s post on “The Risks of Critical Thinking…


December 15, 2015 by writingtimes

I recently read an article in which the author, a professor of science, deplored the pitfalls of teaching students critical thinking skills: eventually, the students begin to doubt everything, even the teacher’s knowledge and experiences. When I read the title of the article, my thoughts snapped out of “Mom in her PJs Drinking Coffee” to my alter ego, “Defender of Teaching Our Students Conscious Choices and Critical Thinking.”

I’m working on the name. But this persona is really tall, she wears super cool boots and can run really fast. In her boots, even. Not that she needs to run. She spends a lot of time standing in front of schools and ranting about how we teach our students in this country. Or don’t, as the case may be. She wears sharp fitted business suits and her hair always looks fabulous. Plus, her children are standing beside her in support and awe of her, not telling her “the hamburgers taste funny” or “you forgot to put money on my lunch card” or “by the way, the dog peed on the carpet awhile ago but it’s not my turn to clean it up.”

You see the difference.

The Defender wanted to write a rant-y response to this article on Facebook RIGHT. THEN. She’s rather impetuous. Instead, I advised that we actually read the entire article first, because that would be really funny, if we went and ranted about another author criticizing teaching critical thinking skills when we never actually read what was written.  Get it?

Read the rest of the post on its original page…

Other People’s Cancer Blogs

It’s true. I’m not the only person who writes about cancer in a blog. It turns out that these here InterWebs are full of conversations and observations and ramblings and rants and meditations and monologues galore, focused on all things cancer. And, while it may not be a shock that I enjoy reading some cancer blogs, the surprise is really how darn good many of them are. Now, because I have lung cancer, I tend to gravitate toward reading the experiences of others with the same condition. And I may be biased in thinking that lung cancer brings out the best writers. But I am going to throw it out there that, at the very least, what I am about to share is some very good work by some dedicated people with important stories worth reading. I’m not going to rank the best lung cancer blog or set up any sort of competition here. I just feel that these are other experiences from other people that I would like to share with you.

I’m targeting other writers with metastatic lung cancer, partly to show that I am not a complete outlier. While this disease is still killing an inordinately high number of people, the cancer blogs I’m linking here tell an uplifting, inspiring story, especially when taken as a collective whole.

The Cancer Blogs

Janet Freeman-Daily is an aerospace engineer turned lung cancer advocate who was diagnosed in 2011. She writes about Gratitude on her blog, Grey Connections, and her posts also appear on the useful website for Cure magazine. She also has a terrific list of other lung cancer blogs which is much more exhaustive and interesting than what I am including here, and it includes detail on each author’s age at the date of diagnosis along with the type of lung cancer. Continue reading Other People’s Cancer Blogs

How My First Year of Chemotherapy Changed My Christmas Wish for You

The holidays are upon us and I am sitting at my keyboard two days after my latest infusion, my brain awash in a heady mix of chemo drugs and residual steroids. I can feel the moisture in my nasal passages dissipating as it tends to do at this time, my eyes drying up along with them. Food doesn’t taste as profound and I gravitate toward sweeter options just to find them more palatable, or more bitter options because that bitterness is only intensified. But aside from a slight sleepiness that keeps threatening to overtake me, I’m actually feeling pretty good, very happy and more or less alert… And I’ve been thinking about this whole holiday thing since I was in the chair at the clinic, watching the drip come slowly down that long tube.

Snowman Believe
This snowman has some good advice at his fingertips.

I’m a big fan of Christmas. Always have been. Not the commercial side of it, so much, but that is because consumerism and gluttony always rub me the wrong way. And not the religious side of it, so much, because dogma rubs me the wrong way, too. But the spirit of Christmas, that I do love. The concepts of peace, unification, giving — and taking the time with family and friends to focus on the love, joy and small miracles of life — these are very good things, indeed.

Every year I try to look at these positive elements (that should be) exemplified by the holiday. I think it is important to contemplate the meaning of Christmas, even from a secular perspective. This time around, there is little doubt that my views and my wishes have been influenced by my treatment. Here is my Christmas wish for you. Continue reading How My First Year of Chemotherapy Changed My Christmas Wish for You