It Is What It Is…Or Is It?

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You want to see my husband go nuts? Simply say, “It

is what it is.” Those five words said by anyone in any

situation literally drives Kevin crazy—fingernails on a

chalkboard crazy. Knowing it’s a trigger, our kids will say it

with a sly chuckle just to push his buttons. When they do,

his reply is always the same, “It isn’t what it is, it is what

you make it!”

Luckily for me he feels this way, as I’m certain this

attitude has saved his life, his livelihood, and even at times,

our relationship. How? OK, his life—when told back in

2007 that he had a rare type of liver cancer and local cancer centers did not show

a highly favorable survival rate, he looked to find out who offered a better rate (the

answer, at the time, was Mayo Clinic). After spending weeks in Rochester, Minnesota,

for chemo and radiation, the last part of the protocol was a liver transplant.

We decided having the transplant done there would be too much time away from

home, so we met with the doctors at Columbia Presbyterian, and our favorite liver

transplant doctor (yes, we have a favorite ), Jean Emond said, “We don’t do live

donors for cancer patients … but we will.” Kevin was their first live transplant.

Work—both Kevin and I faced layoffs (boy, do those suck). “It is what it is”

would’ve had us resting on our laurels. Instead, Kevin (laid off first) started his own

company, a successful one. Seeing his success, gave me the courage to go into

business for myself when I was laid off.

A relationship—“it is what is”? NO WAY! It’s entirely what you make it. That’s

not to say we’re—to quote my good friend Olivia Marine—“rainbows and butterflies.”

On the contrary, we have our struggles. That’s normal, but the second you

find yourself feeling apathetic and saying, “It is what it is,” that is when you know

you’re in the danger zone. This phrase is entirely too apathetic and is also a barrier

to meaningful conversation. “I lost my job. It is what it is.” No, it isn’t! In fact, that

sucks! “I’m getting a divorce. It is what it is.” No, it isn’t! It’s painful and a disruption

for your family! So, if someone asks how you’re doing, they’re opening the

door for you to tell them. Don’t soften the blow and at the same time dull your

own sense of responsibility by saying, “It is what it is.”

April is the month that we celebrate the earth. There’s no other time when “it

is what it is” could be more dangerous! Using lots of plastic and aerosol hairspray,

littering and not picking up your dog poop (seriously, that’s just disgusting)—“it is

what it is.” No, actually it’s not. We can reverse the damage we humans have done

to our earth. Nowhere is it easier to prove that it is  what we make it than by changing

the way we treat our planet! We can join a Surfrider Foundation (see article

“New Wave,” on page 26) or build a small garden. We can choose organic, local

produce and eggs. We can make small changes so the earth remains viable for

inhabitants well after we’re gone.

April is a month filled with life. As we go about living ours, let’s be more

present to one another and work on being less apathetic. Clean a beach; schedule

a date night; study harder; have real conversations (even if they’re tough); connect

with each other; live life with more zest; and if you find that none of what I mentioned

above works for you, well … it is what it …. GOTCHA!

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