Women I Know

Scrolling through my mind this week were women who have inspired me, paved the way for me, or just made me a better person by being themselves unapologetically, or sometimes apologetically. The writers, artists, and humanitarians. The scientists, teachers, and leaders. Today though, I remembered dozens that are rarely, if ever, mentioned in listicles. Although these Women came to me last, they are the ones who inspire me most often, the Women who keep me encouraged.

In my day-to-day life I’m grateful for the Woman who taught me how to be a Woman, how to work, and most importantly, how to stand up. Her devotion inspires me on multiple levels.

I’m inspired by Women who fight Autoimmune Diseases such as Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Disease, Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, Hashimoto’s, Celiac, IBS, Grave’s Disease, AI Hepatitis, and several others. Many of these Women are raising children, keeping a home, working, then working some more. All of these Women are living life on their terms, pushing for better treatments, and pushing themselves every day. I tell myself that if they can do it, then so can I.

I’m inspired by the Moms I know because their well of energy on half the amount of sleep I get is mind-boggling. I have my grandson for one day and I’m whipped, done-in, Netflix ’til I fall asleep the next day. These Moms go from the crack of dawn until they finally put kids to bed, pick up around the house, and get to relax. At which point they fall asleep.

I’m inspired by the working Women I know because it isn’t always easy to meet expectations or to get out of bed when all you want to do is drink Nyquil and snuggle with the dog. These Women show up in every sense of the phrase.

When I look around me, in my community, in my family, I see inspiring and resplendent women everywhere. I see Women doing their best and generously giving to others. International Women’s Day 2018 birthed a thoughtful week filled with admirable Women.

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Endometrial Ablation, An End to the Bloodbath

 

*Warning:  If discussions about menstruation and lady parts make you queasy, this post is not for you.

Since perimenopause set in eight years ago, I developed penis envy, not so much because I’d like one, but simply to eradicate several unpredictable and exquisitely painful periods per month.  Never prepared, no matter how many bloody tidal waves assailed my linens, my pants, my chairs, my life, I was taken off guard.   I am unaware of a more irritating interruption than a distinct gushing feeling in the middle of a meeting, especially when you are the one taking minutes.  Several times I prayed for a fire alarm.  When my red blood cell count fell to a level worthy of a gynecological consult, I felt relieved.  Dr. Burns, well into his 8th decade, said I seemed a good candidate for an endometrial ablation as long as fibroids did not lurk in my uterus.  Two tiny fibroids, one smack dab in the middle of my uterus and likely the painful trouble-maker, showed on ultrasound.  Fortunately, Dr. Burns has practiced for more than 40 years and was competent in more than one ablation procedure.  The simplest ablation procedure used a triangular mesh electrode that expanded in the uterus and delivered an electric current which cauterised and destroyed the uterine lining, and if needed, he had a back-up plan that used a roller-ball for the trouble-maker fibroid.

Elective surgery, while not typically as serious, entails risk and pain.  Infection is the scariest risk to me, likely due to a 3 month post-surgery infection following a previous gynecological mini-surgery.  I did not agree to an endometrial ablation sooner because of it.  Fear is a bitch, worthy of a post all its own.

Dr. Burns used the electrically charged mesh with success.  Prepping me with information, introductions, consent forms, and anesthesia took longer than the ablation, positively making me comfortable before asking Patrick to hurry up with the anesthesia in the operating theater.  Such a simple procedure to require such a dramatic environment, but…the risks.

My recovery nurse enjoyed my eyes-closed rendition of Gin and Juice and said I was her new favorite patient.  Apparently, I had my mind on my money.  Over the next few days I got to know the pain-killer norco as my uterus healed and I laid about on the couch drinking lots of liquids and eating toast.  So this is what it’s like in the 5th decade.  We endure procedures, therapy, and surgery to make life doable, and in this case, better than previous decades.  Little spots of blood every couple of months are all I have now.  Feminine hygiene companies are devastated by the decline in sales.

 

 

Makeup- Free Days: Unmasked and Unrestrained

LipstickThere are days made for makeup, days when I am out in the world building relationships and attending to business. Days filled with essential interactions are made easier with makeup, and are likely to become tedious if I skip it. I like most people, most of the time.  Clients are cooperative; people smile back at me; clerks and medical personnel make small talk and readily offer assistance when I wear makeup. Every once in a while I venture out for a day of errands without makeup and find myself invisible to most humans, and not in a fantastic way. If I ventured behind the counter at the bank I would, quite suddenly, become highly visible, and I bet my cuffs would be tighter if I was makeup-free.  In my mind twerking serves as confirmation of a generation gap, but like Miley, I think Gloria Steinem would agree that I am “playing the game as it exists” when I get dolled up for my time outside the creative zone.

Ah, but the days that are made for not wearing makeup are free days. Not necessarily free to do whatever I please, but rather free to produce, unhindered by my politely public persona. Who has time to put on makeup when ideas are withering on the vine? Putting on a mask is counter-intuitive to getting in touch, to reaching deep.  Whether writing blog posts, marketing copy, or formulas in Excel, I am more likely to find my muse when I am oblivious to my outward appearance, when I am living in my head. It really is best for everyone if I don’t venture too far on these “free” days once immersed in a process. Next time someone makes a mistake on the road or almost runs into you at the grocery store, consider that she may just be creating something wonderful in her head, especially if you notice she isn’t wearing makeup.  Maybe even give me a wave!

Birth Control Debate Attempts to Hit Men Where it Hurts

In a bid to show ‘em how it feels State Representative Yasmin Neal has proposed an amendment to Georgia’s anti-abortion law that would ban vasectomies unless necessary to prevent serious injury to a man’s organs or death.  Missouri State Representative Stacey Newman soon followed suit with a similar bill that also limits where a vasectomy can legally be performed to surgical centers and hospitals.  Both Representatives cited the fairness of legislating men’s bodies in the same fashion that predominantly male government bodies have attempted to legislate women’s reproductive health choices.

While women across the country are cheering for these bills, I see a couple of errors in this blatant strategy to encourage empathy in our male counterparts.  If you have not yet fully realized the inherent differences in women’s and men’s decision-making processes, I suggest Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus as a primer.  While many women are furious about recent debates over what a woman should be allowed to do with her body and affordable access to all birth control options, men will focus on one thing only- an attempt to mess with their genitals.  I call it “dick-sensitivity”.  When a man’s genitals become part of an equation, he loses the ability to think multidimensionally.  Last night I spoke briefly to my husband of writing a post on a proposed vasectomy ban.  He immediately covered his groin and started saying, “nanananana” to drown out my words.  Admittedly, I would greatly enjoy a video of the Georgia General Assembly when they debate Representative Neal’s proposed ban.  The looks on male lawmaker’s faces during such a conversation have great entertainment potential.

The second error in the bid to equally share government control over reproductive rights is thinking that men will fight for their right to a vasectomy.  Think about it.

On the heels of FDA recommendations that men be tested for underlying causes of erectile dysfunction, Virginia state Senator Janet Howell introduced a bill last month that would require a man to get a rectal exam and cardiac stress test before receiving a prescription for a drug such as Viagra.  Ohio state Senator Nina Turner has also proposed a similar bill stating that she is equally concerned with men’s health and believe they have the right to be fully informed of the risks associated with erectile dysfunction medications.

While I appreciate the clever maneuverings of our female politicians as entertaining, I am skeptical that such tactics will do more than add to explosively divisive rhetoric.  There are some things that need not be debated because they fall under our 4th amendment rights, and some things that are serious enough to fight head-on with a resounding “No!”  I would prefer female lawmaker’s efforts be strongly straight forward in their fight for women’s reproductive and healthcare rights.

5th Dimension Job Hunt Update

The 37th revision of my résumé combined with a smooth and confident demeanor gleaned from a multitude of prescreening phone calls finally hooked an interview invitation.  I’m exaggerating my coolness, but if I think about how suave I’m not,  I may never have the nerve to squeak out interview answers.

When I lost my job six months ago I knew the job market was competitively fierce.  I can read.  But, knowing and understanding to the depth I do now are different and worlds apart.  My belief that perseverance can overcome any obstacle was wavering and The Maker and I were having some serious discussions after six months with no interview offers.  And then, in typical fashion, He threw me a bone.  Someone was finally intrigued enough to want to examine me for defects in person.

I had been so focused on the interview invitation benchmark that I now felt like a prepubescent boy shown a big set of boobs for the first time.  I was quite excited, but ignorant of what was expected in a 5th dimension job interview.  Was, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” still a standard query?  I have always hated that one because I want to answer, “Oh, writing my second novel (the one I got a huge advance for) in a secluded Irish cottage by the shore”, but instead I feel I must offer up the standard, “Working in a position like the one I’m interviewing for at a company as great as this one.”  My research assistant, Google, helped me compile a list of interview questions that make the “where do you see yourself” query seem elementary, and I mean public-school elementary.  My daughter is much more hip to the interview scene so I tapped into her wisdom, much of which consisted of warnings about talking too much and having specific work product examples at the ready.  My husband’s advice was to replace my usual meandering anecdotes with examples of professional wins.  If I did not practice this foreign language, I knew I’d leave a prospective employer entertained, but unsure of my qualifications.  If enough people say you have hay in your teeth…maybe I do talk too much.

In a concerted effort to create succinct and relevant answers to questions such as, “Tell me about a conflict you had at work and how you handled it”, I spent two full days composing more acceptable answers than, “I just accepted that she was a bitch and ignored her”.  Then I practiced what I hoped were appropriate answers out loud until the “ums” were gone.

On the day of the interview I followed my kid’s advice to think of the interview as good practice.  Remembering that this professional, well-adjusted woman who now advises me on professional matters used to eat ants lends to the whole 5th dimension surreal experience.  Considering that my interviewer was not much older than my kid made her somewhat less intimidating, despite her high-anxiety persona.  Or perhaps that was just the pregnancy hormones.  I understand that after being out of work for six months I am beholden to feel grateful for ANY prospective job, but  guess what?  I don’t.  I have over 20 years left to work and I’m tired already.  So when she told me, “it’s crazy here every minute of every day; everything is always changing”, I probably visibly cringed.  It’s why I have never been chosen to sit on a jury, and may be why I did not hit the next benchmark – a second group interview.

It was good practice, but she did not ask most of the questions I prepared for.  During another phone interview last week I was asked specifically how my past experience could be transferred to this retailer, not exactly what one thinks of as a prescreen question.  But thanks to the previous week’s interview, I was prepared.  Now I wait.  If I make it past the first interview, then there’s a group interview with the Vice-President.  Welcome to The 5th Dimension.  It seems I’ll be here for a while.

 

When the phone rings

I feel like a teenager waiting by the phone for a boy to call after a friend told him I thought he was cute and slipped him my number.  Just like the boys in high school, there are few jobs that I share a mutual attraction with, but once in a great while there is one that shines brighter than the others, one that has the potential to fit into my life perfectly.  After six months of unemployment some may think I should be enthused about any job prospect, just as some boys thought an average-looking flat-chested girl should be thrilled that anyone asked her out.  Unemployment has done it’s best to chip away at my self-esteem and confidence, but when I review my work history and recommendation letters I am reminded that a lack of responses is not indicative of my worth, but of the competitive job market.  Despite such disinterest from most of my potential employers, it goes against my nature to accept that I cannot have that unique best-fit-for-me job.

So when the phone rings and caller id announces that company, the one I want to work for most, I let it ring a couple of times while I try to collect myself.  And invariably, just as when the cute boy finally called, my voice cracks when I answer despite my attempt to sound cool.  The last thing I want is to sound desperate or overly excited, even though I am.  I want to convey enough competence and likability to generate an interview invitation, yet still be authentic enough that they are not surprised later when I talk too much or propose different processes for meeting goals.  I have had my fill of “who does she think she is” managers who believe the only good ideas are theirs or introduce something I proposed as an innovative approach they just thought of.  That is not to say that I expect to avoid those inherent managerial traits, just that I would like to work for a team-oriented company that is not as hierarchical as my last employer.  A girl can dream.

The first phone call is a prescreening and so far I have not warranted a second call inviting me to get dolled-up for a date, I mean an interview.  Yesterday’s prescreen phone call went exceptionally well after my high-pitched “hello”.  I did not stumble or hesitate when asked how much I want to be paid and if I can work flexible hours and the human resource manager sounded enthused despite my unwillingness to work for free any hours between 24/7.  Now I wait for the second call, the invitation.  Not having received such a call yet, I am unsure if I can be as cool as I was during the prescreen, but if they are truly seeking a cool employee I am probably not the best fit anyway.  On the other hand, if they are looking for a somewhat dorky, not very hip, but always professional human resource assistant, I’m the gal.

Goals trounce resolutions

The statistics kings, or as I refer to them- “they”, say that we break 65% of new year’s resolutions.  New Year’s resolutions are designed to be broken, which is why I did not make any.  I can experience failure any time I want, sometimes several times within a day, so I’ll be damned if I am going to court it.  I was not always this way.  I spent much of my 20’s and all of my 30’s on one self-help road or another striving to be better.  Better than what?  Better than me.  It took me 43 years to accept my successes, my mistakes, and the whole package that makes up who I am, taking into account how much I have learned and grown.  With my thirst for learning and new experiences why would I not continue to grow ?  I now revel in some of my imperfections, such as a raunchy sense of humor and blunt honesty.  The world does not have a surplus of those two attributes, so I feel I add something worthwhile to the mix, just as you and your imperfections do.

Year-long promises that usually involve abstaining from a desire/addiction or performing acts that we think are good for us but do not really want to do are set-ups for failure.  One slip and I get to feel like I broke a promise to myself.  No thank you.  I prefer denying myself unhealthy habits and working toward my dreams in bite-sized increments so I can savor each daily, weekly, or even hourly victory.  I was the kid that easily made a candy bar last all day because it made for a better day.  I am not going to wait all year to pat myself on the back for going to the gym 3 times this week.  I see the calorie counter on the treadmill and I earned a candy bar or even a dish of ice cream.  This strategy makes it much more likely that I will return to the gym next week.  If I bury myself in a novel in front of the fireplace instead of going to the gym, I do not let myself off the hook for the rest of the year because I failed.  My discipline frequently lags, but not living up to a goal breeds vigilance the next day.

Another reason resolutions fail is because willpower cannot fix every problem.  Trying harder often equates to increasing frustration as I try to fix things out of my control or slap a band-aid on a problem that needs a tourniquet.  If I concentrate on the short-term goals on the branches of my big dream tree, I can appreciate how all things work together.  If I go to the gym I have more energy and sleep better, improving my cognition so that I work smarter.  Also, my jiggly parts are more perky, gaining me extra spousal squeezes and increased confidence, which ultimately leads to a better love life.  When I eat greens and lean protein I feel lighter and not a bit guilty when I indulge my love of chocolate.  I proved this to myself once again over the holidays because there weren’t any Christmas salads, but there were plenty of desserts.  When I write daily I am a happier person (so my husband says), which makes me more successful in my relationships.  When I read literature, non-fiction, or contemporary fiction, it makes me a better writer.  When I perform detailed research on career options I often discover aspects I was previously oblivious to and it motivates me to spend more time writing and constructing a virtual assistant business.  If I volunteer to work with disabled veterans, I feel better about not contributing to my community with a paying job and exposure to veteran perspectives and characters enhance my writing.  If I meditate and journal today the unemployment blues abate somewhat, which makes it easier for me to take action rather than spending the day on the couch unshowered thinking of how unfair this situation is while the TV drones in the background.  It all works together.  I am not the only one thinking this way, as evidenced by an app at iTunes called Resolutions 2012 which deconstructs resolutions into bite-sized, realistic goals that encourage a person to think about what it will take to meet a wide-sweeping resolution like losing 20 pounds or quitting smoking.  I think the best resolution all of us can strive for is doing something nice for someone else every day.  If that took off I would not need to challenge myself with meditation as often, but wishing for something hardly ever makes it so.

The American lives even more for his goals, for the future, than the European. Life for him is always becoming, never being. 
-Albert Einstein