Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Some Life Observations

For some reason, about a year ago or more, I started a list of "Life Observations" that I think I intended to pass on to my daughter someday.  But I've come to realize that one's parent is probably the least likely person many young people will ever take advise from.  Therefore, I won't offer these specifically to my daughter, but to whomever might find the points helpful (mainly myself whenever I forget these hard-won observations and fail to observe them myself).

This is by no means a complete list, but here goes:

1.  Fate can turn on a dime, for better or worse. 
2.  Be open to new experiences and learn from them. 
3.  Consistency is more important than intensity in creating success.  Do the good, healthy, wise things regularly and you'll eventually see a reward that you can achieve and can maintain.
4.  Your resume reflects a "career story" - make it one that you would like to later read and tell to others.  This doesn't mean that you can't make career changes, but realize that with each job change, you are writing a new chapter and each chapter should logically fall into an overall story that makes sense and is in line with your overall goals.
5.  Speaking of goals, if you don't know exactly what you want to do at any given time, that's okay, but don't make major investments, in either time OR money until you reach a point where you feel a fire in your belly to proceed.  Until you feel that inner compulsion to move forward, it's okay to try different things and be open to direction.  Someday you WILL find something you want to do and then will be ready to move forward.
6.  Many times the best career paths are found by building upon the natural strengths and talents and interests that you have.  If you're not sure what those are, ask friends and well-meaning mentors and they will help point the way.
7.  Times won't always be this hard (or this easy) and people ARE shaped by their times and the life events through which they've lived.
8.  To accomplish any major task, break the bigger goal down into small, everyday achieveable tasks.  Do those small things regularly and you will accomplish BIG things. 
9.  Get big things started.  Once you get started, it is easier to work on it consistently.  The first step is the hardest, so take it!
10.  Read books (both fiction and nonfiction).  Through reading, you have internal conversations with people from a wide circle of times, places and circumstances.  Reading deepens you and feeds your mind and soul.
11.  When making a major decision, gather all the information possible, but don't be overwhelmed.  Picture yourself doing each of the choices and listen to your gut as to which feels best for you.
12.  Choosing a mate or a business partner are two of your most important choices.
13.  Be willing to compromise and change.  Hold onto your integrity, but don't be afraid to give and take  . . . this is vital in strengthening relationships.  The person who thinks "It's my way or the highway" will be traveling alone  . . . .  and that way is a LONELY road.
14.  Don't be afraid to make mistakes.  Make them, learn from them, apologize and move on.
15.  Be willing to let go of life's "bad breaks."  Personal losses and failings will be amplified in your mind if you focus on them.
16.  Be grateful for your talents, your windfalls and natural advantages.
17.  Question your assumptions  . . . . all of them.
18.  Get up and start your day EARLY.  Planning your day the night before is amazingly powerful.  But those who start late often come up short.
19.  Let go/let God.  Especially when you most want to hold on and stay in control.  Let go/Let God.
20.  Be your own best cheerleader and harshest critic.
21.  Whenever you are trying to communicate a criticism to someone else, taking a "Like Best/Next Time" approach is often effective.  This means you tell them some aspect of what they did WELL before proceeding with suggested improvements.  Offering up more positive input than criticism builds self-confidence and makes the recipient more apt to listen to the suggestions.
22.  Find ways to have faith and renew it regularly.  Practice some form of prayer, meditation, or whatever method allows you to seek refreshment and wisdom from a higher power.
23.  Don't be afraid or put off by things that seem hard.  I've found that most of the "hard stuff" in life, once started, is what makes us stronger, better and happier than what comes easy.  The easier stuff is easier for a reason.  While it seems oh so tempting to take the easy route, the hard way most often leads to fulfillment.
24.  Always keep a sense of humor.  Don't take yourself, others or the world too seriously.
25.  Remember the 80/20 rule.  80% of your success will come from 20% of what you do.  20% of your friends will be your TRUE friends.  20% of your customers will be the loyal ones who will help you succeed.  Still you need to approach and do 100% until you recognize where that 20% lies. 
26.  Have real relationships and develop them.  It's easy  to get caught up with your career, with technology, with overall "busy-ness" but the time you invest in PEOPLE and interacting with those closest to you is what really matters in the end.
27.  You will always keep relationships with influential people inside you, in your inner life, whether they are "alive" or "gone" . .  . they are always with you and shape who you are.  You can turn to them whenever you need strength.
28.  There is a God force that guides you whenever you are open to being guided. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wrapping Up 2012

2012 is almost wrapped up.  We're in the final days.... with Christmas approaching .  . . and soon the year will be done. 

It's been a strange year for me  . . . . starting out with great hope that I'd make a successful radio sales career for myself, and then slowly realizing that I couldn't make a living at it.  The current  job right now is very temporary  . . . and I don't know what's around the corner.

Plus, being hit with health problems (very minor ones in the scheme of things) but many of my friends and their family members have had health challenges that make mine PALE in comparison. 

All in all, there feels as if there's a shifting in my life, a gradual change but one that isn't unwelcome . . . . . just different.

In terms of outer changes, I've been letting the gray grow through my hair, but that's been far too slow for my liking.  But that growing out process has taught me some important lessons.  Real change, even in superficial matters such as hair, requires patience and often a "hand's off" approach . . . .  . just letting myself transform naturally . . . and in the process, I'm reevaluating what other changes can come into my life if I take a more "let it be" approach and a less goal-oriented "make it happen" style that I've always adopted in the past.

It's probably going to take at least a year to grow the gray out, and then I'll still have to grow the length longer, so it's a painstakingly slow process.  It's teaching me about patience which is a lesson I've never learned, but one that seems fitting for the decade of my 50's. 

You know, something internally is really shifting in me.  I'm growing more accepting, but not in a "giving up" kind of way.  I'm feeling a need to get REAL within myself and to just strip away things that no longer seem to be a part of my current life. 

In terms of health, I'm having surgery in just a few days.  A big surgery.  Total Abdominal Hysterectomy.  I'm nervous about it, but ready to move on and leave it behind too. 

The gift to myself this year is age gracefully and to no longer avoid aging, just to embrace what is inside AND outside of me.  To make the best of what I am and have to give to others, without holding on too tightly to anything. 

Merry Christmas everyone.  May you end the year with those closest to you, and may you embrace whatever gifts you're given.       

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Daughter's 21st

It's hard to believe that my daughter turned 21 this weekend.  Amazing.  Feels like only yesterday . . . .  ah really, it does.  But anyway, she's all grown up now.  Hard to let go but time to give her more space. 

The weekend started out with tragedy in the news . . . . with the elementary children in Connecticut . . . . no words, the ongoing story is so heartbreaking. 

So on the weekend that my girl (now a woman) turns 21, I hear the heart wrenching news about little ones taken from life at the place they trust most . . . their grade school.  It's hard to fathom, and not only their lives taken, but the for the classmates who amazingly survived, their feeling of safety and innocence perhaps did not.  They may bear emotional and mental scars that will remain with them forever.  To think of the parents, siblings and family members who lost children .  . . as well as the couragous adults who stayed with them and tried to protect and shelter them, some of those adults perished while trying, and others held on.  Ugggh.     

How can the parents go on?  And the stories of courage, along with shock and grief, that have been voiced all weekend on the news is hard to believe.  It seems the most precious times, like those just before Christmas, are brightened and darkened by intense happenings. 

In our own lives, as parents, somehow we've been lucky, and seen our daughter, whose beginning as a tiny premie baby . ...  seemed so precarious . . . so "touch and go"  . . . . yet she miraculously survived.  It's with a mother's heart that I'm grateful for her growth into adulthood, and at the same time, saddened by knowing that some other parents haven't been so lucky.

In these days of sadness and gratitude, it seems trite to say, but so true, that we all really never know how many years, months, days or hours we have left to spend with our loved ones.  Every day is a blessing and asking "why" on the hard, tragic events seldom leads to inner peace. 

Instead, I'd like to consider the advice of children's TV host Mr. Fred Rogers who said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ― Fred Rogers

He also said, “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Truly Thankful for Good Health

Okay, I didn't talk about this on here earlier because I was grappling with a lot of fear myself and didn't want to "put it out there"  but now that my health scare has been relieved, I will share my thoughts and concerns and let other women know about it just in case it might help someone else searching for information along the way.  If you are squeamish about hearing about female stuff. . . . then you may want to skip this posting.   

For years and years, I've had problems with my female parts and hormone levels. First, with having fibroids at a fairly young age - and a very early premature birth of my daughter at 31 weeks that may have been at least partially caused by a fibroid that grew large fueled by pregnancy hormones.   

Perhaps not surprisingly, I went through a bad time with perimenopause - lots of very intense symptoms but about 18 months ago, at the age of 50, it  finally finished with all that because the periods stopped and seemed home free .. ... yay!  But not so fast . . . .  Then about six months ago, I started gaining weight only in my abdomen but about - 14 lbs and several inches with a belly that looked like a pregnant belly.  It wasn't caused by sudden overeating or lack of exercise.  No matter what I did, I felt "crummy" along with hot flashes and other menopause symptoms, lack of sleep, moodiness, teariness, lack of energy, depression  etc.

After reading numerous books on menopause, and then attending a bioidentical hormone workshop in October, I decided to finally bite the bullet and find a gynecologist who specialized in menopausal issues and might be able to help me get to a solution for all these problems.  In the past 3 years, I've seen 3 different ones - but they each seemed unsympathetic and dismissive, and belive it or not, the 2 women were even worse than the 1 man I'd seen during those years.  So finally, through this seminar's referral of several possible physicians, I latched onto a really EXCELLENT and through OB who seemed to take my symptoms seriously, ran several blood tests, sonograms, hormones tests, exams etc. and finally decided there was some reason for concern.  He pointed out that I have hormone levels that are so extremely low, at this point, I have the hormone levels of a 70 year old woman.  After being "estrogen dominant" for decades, there are now extremely low levels yet I have a very thick uterine lining - as measured by external and internal sonogram AND there seemed to be a fairly substantial growth again - not sure what it was, but somehow it seemed to be surviving in spite of low hormone levels to feed it.  So this new doc scheduled me for surgery the day before Thanksgiving.  He thought it would be just a routine biopsy and D&C that would take about 10-15 minutes.   He urged me to do it pretty quickly and not to wait around based on all my symptoms.

After reading about my symptoms and googling "uterine biopsy" I became really really worried about the possibility of uterine cancer.    One huge help to me was finding Fran Drescher's book called Cancer Schmancer.    Fran had Stage 1 uterine cancer just over five years ago and went through a situation really similar to mine.    I absorbed this book in the days preceding my biopsy and although it scared the beejesus out of me in some ways, it also gave me lots of helpful information and questions  . . . . things to consider if the biopsy came back malignant.  Plus, it made me aware of what to watch out for in the future, because after all the reading I've done on the subject recently, it's a fairly common diagnosis in post-menopausal women and knowing the symptoms will keep me on high alert.  Even more than other cancers, if you catch this one early on, you have a much better chance of survival. 

On Wednesday afternoon, I had the surgery  . . . and it was surgery where they knocked me out with a general anesthetic.  If you ever have one of these, by the way, some doctors don't knock you out for the procedure but I was VERY glad to have been asleep, because he ended up removing a very large fibroid and it took a bit over an hour for the procedure.  There was cramping and bleeding afterwards, but seemed much better to have been done the way it was done as outpatient  . . .by Thursday (Thanksgiving) I was resting comfortably and able to eat Thanksgiving dinner with my family.   I just took it easy all last weekend  . . . but doctor said pathology report would be back early the next week.

On Monday evening, he called to tell me there was no malignancy  . . . . no cancer . . . just a large fibroid.  Whew!

So just to relieve everyone's mind, for those who knew and worried with me. . . . thanks immensely for the prayers, thoughts of expressions of concern.  I'm so glad to be healthy and fortunate that at least for now, not to have to face the cancer burden that so many women and men go through.  But I'm also glad that I'm educated about it now . . . and have some thoughts about therapies I'd want to try if it ever comes up again.   

I go tomorrow for a follow-up appt with my doctor and hopefully will learn if I'm able to get on some hormones that will help make me feel better and balance out many of the symptoms that have been bothering me.  Not sure what he'll recommend, but I will get back with anyone who wants to hear more.