"Love My Way, It's a New Road"

Archive for September, 2020

It’s All About the Kids

How do you have a rant about women, children and work and not sound misogynistic?  I am going to try, but be prepared because my biases will pop out right and left here.

Let me begin by saying I like to think that I am a very open-minded person who is left-leaning moderate.  I believe that women should be paid the same as men.  I believe that women get the short-end of the career climb due to misconceptions and true responsibilities relating to childcare, elder care, etc.  I am very appreciative of all the women (and men) who have fought to gain women the right to vote, own property, handle our own finances and more.

Now let’s outline some basic facts about the new Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.  She is a very smart, well-educated person.  No one disputes that.  She is a career-driven person.  You do not become a federal judge without having strong aspirations and political drive.  Her husband was a federal prosecutor for over a decade and now is in private practice in South Bend.

The children, in order of age, are Emma (19), Vivian (16) who is one of the adopted Haitian children, Tess (16), John Peter (13) who is also Haitian, Liam (11), Juliet (9), and Benjamin (8) who is the special needs Downs child.
Of the two adopted children, Vivian was born in Haiti and came to the family at 14 months.  She weighed 11 pounds.  John Peter is also Haitian and came to the family at age 3 after the earthquake that leveled Haiti.  Benjamin is the child with Downs.

Now with that background, let me rant. I don’t believe you can have it all.  I really don’t.  Either you have family or you have career but one will be sacrificed in order for the other to thrive.  That has been my experience.
Current advocates for ACB speak about her getting up at 4 am to get to the gym, her 3-hour roundtrip commute to Chicago for court sessions and they say this to emphasize her strong work ethic.  But what about the kids?  Where do they fit in?  Are they squeezed in between the gym and the long morning commute?  Being a federal justice is not necessarily a 9-5 job, so when ACB gets home in the evening how much 1-on-1 time is spent with the younger kids?

I think the kids are the ones getting short shrift of quality mom time.  They are being raised by others.  Since this is a conservative Catholic family who believes in traditional roles of husband and wife (I am basing this on ACB’s involvement with the People of Praise organization), I do not expect the husband/father (Jesse) to be picking up the slack on this.  He is no Marty.  He can’t be based on the teachings of the People of Praise.  

I have known, befriended and worked with my fair share of driven, Type A, highly successful women.  I mean highly successful including elected officials and women running companies.  I have observed their kids lose the battle of getting their mom’s attention.  I have seen the kids began trying all types of high jinks because any attention is better than none.  I have very, very rarely seen the kids of a successful mom come out OK.  Chelsea Clinton is one public example.  Sorry, Hillary haters, but she did do a good job.  Michelle Obama is another. Sorry that I am not balancing my examples with more conservative women, but work with me on this.  

Even when these kids (that I have known firsthand) have decent dads (although I will say some were single moms, some blended families, some with dads), the dads could not compensate enough for the mom’s absence.  I have seen older kids seem to be almost an after-thought for some women. 

A great, warm fuzzy news article around Mother’s Day showing a lovely photo of a mom with her daughter at the barn.  Nobody at the barn had ever met the mom.  They had all thought the housekeeper was the parent.  The mom had a very demanding, stressful leadership role and flew all over the country. The kid at 13 had a cell phone, credit card and was a whole lot of messed up.

Another kid pulled a huge stunt at school that got him suspended.  He did it the same day that his mom had a huge, huge presentation.  He did it on purpose to make her choose. To her credit, she chose the kid. She also began losing her hair over the stress of the two situations. She kept up the high-flying career for another 8 years before buckling under it all. Now she lives on the beach with her hubby. She looks really happy. One kid lives aboard, and I lost track of the other.

I can go on and on with examples.  I have watched from the sidelines for years.  I will admit that I am being quite judgmental.  I can’t help it.  This is about the kids.  This is about kids who do not get to choose their family or their parents.  Parents can really fuck up their kids.  It’s pretty easy.

I also have issues with high-profile women who seem to “collect” children.  I am thinking of Mia Farrow and Angelina Jolie.  I just think there are some underlying issues with those woman.  What empty need are they trying to fill with more kids?  How do you give the kids the attention and one-on-one time that helps kids thrive? I want to toss ACB into this category as well.

I could barely pull it off with two.  I was an occasional school volunteer, but oftentimes team mom, and always horse show mom.  I rarely if ever missed a game, horse show, award presentation – you name it.  I showed up.  Their dad was also good about showing up quite a bit. My kids really appreciated it both then and now.  It really makes a difference.  

Now I will admit that I sacrificed a lot of me to do this.  However, as I wrote recently, I think it was worth it.  I don’t regret putting my family before my career.  OK, there are days I question that decision and wonder if it was the right one.  But my kids turned out OK, so I think it was the right one.

So my rant is that is ACB there for her kids? We don’t know. I hope so, but I don’t think there are enough hours in the day. How can you be a successful federal judge, active church community leader and all the other amazing things plus be a mom to 7 kids. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Small Steps

Small progress steps are sometimes hard to notice until you take a look at the total accumulation over time.  Self-help gurus talk about 1% change and compounding it in order to reach big results.  Unbeknownst to me, I actually did this over the past year with my weight loss. 

I keep a small notebook with my measuring tape in my bathroom.   This notebook dates back almost two years or so.  I write mini entries of weight, measurements and general comments about what I am or am not doing as it relates to food and exercise.

Since September is my New Year when I look at new beginnings, I leafed through the book earlier this week to see where I was this time last year.  This time last year I was 10 pounds heavier.  Say what?  You mean to tell me that even with all my false starts, lack of consistency and other things I have been berating myself about, I still have lost weight.  How about that?  Cue in a happy dance.

That gave me tremendous hope and inspiration to keep swimming.  My small changes have accumulated to meaningful results.  I am thrilled.  I am charged up and ready to keep going.  My brain immediately thought “Well golly, if you lost 10 pounds mucking around, imagine what you can do with your current focus and portion control?”  Perhaps I can double the result.  That would be thrilling and put me within 15 pounds of my goal weight.  Dare I dream tripling it and being single digits from my goal weight in a single year?

Easy, girlfriend.  Don’t get ahead of yourself.  I just need to keep doing my small steps consistently.  The past year has shown me how they add up. 

“A little progress each day adds up to big results”

a quote from someone whose name I didn’t save…sorry…

Sore Loser

Today I am a sore loser. Oh I played gracious and nice on camera, but when the meeting ended, I was pissed. Plus I can’t really verbalize how pissed I am because I will simply look like a sore loser.

Well I am pissed and since I don’t feel comfortable ranting about it publicly, then this is another reason to blog.

I was in a contest for public speaking. OK, you know which one. I will have to blur a few details to protect the guilty, me and the innocent. I spent 4 hours of my weekend on Zoom. Yes, 4 hours. Not all on camera, but available, listening, etc.

I had won my club contest and now I moved up to the next level. I had 5 other competitors in my category. My speech was tight and very well rehearsed. I will go out on a limb and say it is probably one of my top 5 speeches of all time. Definitely top 10.

I paid attention to the details by making sure my lighting was good. I set up my laptop so I could stand in order to have better body language. I fucking put on makeup AND lipstick.

I was early in the speaking order, which isn’t always a good thing. I made sure to project energy, strong eye contact with the camera. I had vocal variety, my pacing and pauses were there. I am telling you – I nailed this speech.

As we waited, my club president and VP were sure I had placed. I felt pretty confident too. I listened to all my competitors and it was a competitive field. But my energy, my lighting, my speech’s structure and my winning smile were sure to win the day, right?

Nope, I didn’t make the top 3. That puts me on the bottom 3 and I am PISSED. As I write this, I get angrier. I was fucking robbed. Now keep in mind that I am sharing with you, Dear Reader, my innermost thoughts on this. I won’t say it out loud. But FUCK – I was seriously robbed.

Our club president was texting me and he thought I was robbed. I told him it reminded me of horse shows which can be quite politically subjective. I didn’t say politically, just subjective. I thanked everyone, said congrats to the winners and smiled.

WTF, he and the VP were getting texts from others outside our club who were watching and they thought I had nailed it. I did nail it. Argh.

This reminds me of my days in my old professional life when I would compete for business, do everything perfectly and not get the business due to an existing relationship or some other subjective reason. Fuck subjective. I never, ever win when the criteria allows for subjective. Never.

Argh. I played nice. I will do it again too because I also need the practice in learning how to be a better loser. Right now I suck at losing – anybody can see that. Maybe I should go take a walk.

OK, I did go take that walk. A short one around the small lake nearby. The sky was blue, the breeze was lovely and each step calmed my mind. I was able to recognize that today simply wasn’t meant to be my win. That’s life. I am happy with my effort. I am grateful for my club’s support and encouragement. I stepped outside my comfort zone and did my personal best. That’s a win in itself.

I still hate losing though – LOL. Who doesn’t?

Not my pond. Photo by Kat_ G on Unsplash

Primal Screaming

My September theme of new year, new beginnings also causes me to reflect.  One thing I have been thinking about is my lack of stress these days.  I don’t have any.  Seriously – my finances are fine, my living situation is lovely, my work is pleasant.  I have no worries.  When I say I have no worries, don’t get me wrong.  I think about the big picture stuff of mortality, retirement, how are my kids, pandemic, elections, politics and stuff of that nature, but it doesn’t give stress me out because I cannot control any of that.

Anywhoo, in the context of appreciating the simplicity of my life, I have been thinking back to my parenting, child-rearing days as a working mom.  Good lord.  How the heck did I do it?  I have no idea. What did pop in my mind were thoughts of the days I would frantically be driving to work and be screaming with primal frustration and anxiety. 

Yes, on my 45-minute to hour-long commute, I had more days than I care to admit when I would be screaming with all my might to release the pent-up anger, frustration, anxiety, etc. that was overwhelming me.  Once I finished my primal screams, I would then use my words to scream my emotions into the empty minivan.  I would fantasize of just driving away from it all. For context, I was good for a screaming about about 2-3 times a year, so it wasn’t a weekly occurrence.

What is somewhat funny is that when I thought of just driving away, I would think about driving to Orlando.  Why Orlando I have no idea.  It is 3 hours from Miami and I guess just far enough away from my insane life to feel liberated?  It definitely wasn’t for the attractions.

Perhaps this primal screaming in my morning commute was my therapy that kept me sane.  It was a release for me.  Was it a healthy one?  Who knows.  It seemed to have worked as a band-aid for me.  Somehow I kept it all together as I dealt with all of the activities of two busy, school-age kids, coordinated all the logistics of household maintenance, shopping (including gifts and clothes), social calendar, bill paying, pet care – you name it, I did it.  Where was the father of my children and my husband?  Working.  Going to Happy Hour with “clients”, working on Saturdays (I actually liked that).  He believed that working as the “primary” breadwinner meant that he didn’t have to carry any of the household load. 

Yes, he did drop off for a year or two off and on.  Yes, he handled the annual income tax because he had an S-corp and the accountant.  But he did little else. He wanted me to work 40+ hours and handle all the same responsibilities of a SAHM.  I did the groceries, cooked the meals, cleaned the kitchen, made the school lunches, did the laundry.  I had a weekly housekeeper to help control the chaos which was a necessity, not a luxury.  I bought clothes for everyone – him included, any gifts for family members.  I arranged medical care for the kids and me.  He expected me to do it for him, but I drew my long, overdue line there.

Plus I was responsible for our social calendar.  God forbid we had a simple weekend or two staying home.  That was unacceptable.  We had a full sports calendar for the kids including me being team mom oftentimes, we had family nearby so birthdays were frequent, we hosted many large (12-24 folks) holiday gatherings. Towards the end, we did a 30+ person Memorial Day barbeque.  It was just a very busy time of my life. I look back and wonder how I did it all.  No wonder I had some mornings spend primal screaming.

Now I look back and ask myself, “was it worth it?”  I have to say….yes.  My kids had a wonderful childhood.  We had an interesting, busy, fulfilling life filled with activities, family and more.  I spent too much money, drove myself to the brink of sanity, but I can accept that.  If I had to do it over again, I would strive for more boundaries, but I chose a partner who was never going to co-parent.  Shame on me, but man, we created some amazing kids.

My advice to you young un’s: be more like RBG when you seek a partner.  Go find your Marty.  I am blessed that Taz found her.

Starting Over – a Year Later

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” 

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

I have always found September to be the start of the new year for me.  After 20 years of kids in school, my life ebbs and flows in sync with the school year calendar rather than the traditional calendar. I have just celebrated my one-year anniversary in my new apartment by renewing the lease. Additional festivities include a thorough cleaning out of my shit stuff. 

I think I have found the golden egg to my motivation.  Sunday brunch.  I began Sunday with a long, beautiful walk in a new walking path I have been exploring in increments.  I returned and made a delicious brunch of a small goat cheese omelet and mini-waffles. Mini-waffles are going to be a problem.

On Saturday I bought a $7 mini waffle iron from Walmart.  Best $7 I have spent in some time.  That sucker churned out 4” pecan waffles every 5 minutes.  I devoured 3 of those.  The sugar rush coupled with the double espresso caffeine rush fueled a 6-hour marathon of paper sorting. 

First I tackled my bookshelf and got rid of about 10-15 books.  Next I went through my old files, my mom’s papers, tax returns. If it was paper, I looked at it so it could be sorted into piles of dump, shred or organize.  The result is a box to be shredded, a garbage bag for recycling,a bag of books and a half dozen empty binders to be donated. 

I felt lighter at the end.  I looked at my bookcase when I was done and I was very pleased with the result.

I also had an idea for my photo project.  You know, the photos I am always bemoaning but making small baby steps of progress. I have been coming to terms that the photos are only one aspect of the project.  What I really want to do is create a series of scrapbooks that include photos, letters, cards paired with my journaling about these items or the event it captures.  It is a much, much larger project than just organizing photos into boxes or albums. 

To contain the photos during the process and break them into smaller, bite-sized chunks, I want to convert a small 3-drawer container into my “hobby cart”.  I have one that I can hopefully re-purpose for this if I can add the wheels.  It can store a couple of shoe boxes of photos in the bottom, largest drawer; several photo albums in the middle drawer; and supplies in the top drawer.  Then I can move it around and it will have a neater, more contained appearance.  The clutter of all these boxes is what is bothering me the most.

I have mapped out a multi-step process on clearing out, organizing and then decorating my apartment. I was inspired by the Netflix series by the Home Edit ladies.  Although they are a bit too OCD for me, they do have some excellent suggestions on the process:  determine the zones you want, edit (huge step) and then organize.  Only in Step 3 can you have a field day buying containers. Right now I am re-purposing what I have. When I get to the end of my editing, then I can determine what containers I need. 

One of the categories I shed is my self-help and business books.  Is it because I have attained my highest level of nirvana?  No.  It is simply that those books are no longer pertinent to me.  I have moved past them.  I am at a different stage and they are no longer applicable. 

I thought back to this time last year when I packed up and moved up here.  It was a huge step of leaving Miami behind, leaving my 20+ year career and identity, leaving my old,bad habits around debt and money.  It was about wrestling to regain control of my journey.  It was about no longer compromising.

Make mine a double

Covid

I wrote about a colleague who has COVID. He has been sick for three weeks. He is in his early 60’s, had a mild heart attack at the beginning of the year, lost a lot of weight and now COVID. I had a deep chill when I heard he was sick.

News about him is sparse. My employer is very strict about HIPAA, but I began gleaning some updates. At first it seemed he was getting a mild case. Fatigue, a little fever, but he thought he had it whipped. Not so fast. He got that second wave and ended up hospitalized with pneumonia. He has been in the hospital for several days.

Somehow his wife and teenage son have escaped it. I think his wife had a mild case. She had been sick right at the time he got sick. Regardless, he is not well, however, his denial is huge. He is telling a colleague he will be back to the office next week. He is still in the hospital. Plus none of us are in a hurry for him to return in case he spreads it around.

During all this, my company did flu shots this week. Thank goodness. I not only did the flu, but got my first shingles. That shingles vaccine is nasty. It hurts during the injection, my arm was sore after, I got a mild headache, and I am flat out exhausted today. Plus I have to keep my paranoia in check because the shingles vaccine side effects are similar to COVID. What was I thinking?!

I am sending positive thoughts for my colleague. I hope he recovers soon and doesn’t get sicker. Fingers crossed….

Next Goal

I have been working diligently all year on my next big goal. The ever elusive weight loss. I have floundered around all year with limited success, then backtrack, then try again with limited results, pause. You get the picture – basically limited consistent effort doing the right things. In August I paused and thought about what had been working and where I was screwing up, I came up with several key guidelines:

First, exercise. Yes I was exercising, but it needs to be the right exercise for my body to lose weight. Beachbody on Demand 21 Day Fix Real Time is my solution. As much as I love Barre Blend, I need the HITS of 21 Day. So I am working back through it and will move on to 80 Day Obsession next (another HITS program). Or I might just do 21 Day again for a third time. Who knows?

Don’t get the idea I am some beast at this. I am nowhere close. I huff and puff, curse and pause. I can’t do some of the moves, my legs can’t straighten out completely and I only have 5 pound weights. Hot mess, right? But it doesn’t matter, I do this in complete privacy and refuse to do anything other than be proud that I am getting this done. The last part has taken some time because I have to forget about perfection.

I have battled with my impatience and perfectionism. I want results sooner rather than later. I want to do all the exercises correctly even if I am modifying. I am learning that my body will do this on its on schedule and my brain needs to back the f*#k off.

The other area I changed has been my portions. I eat healthy – little to no processed foods, mostly plant-based, but the scale wasn’t budging. WTF? I realized it has been the quantity. I bought 4 smaller dinner plates and use only those. If I need a bowl, I have smaller bowls and even use ramekins to limit my portions. I try to eat more slowly and give myself time before considering seconds (which I rarely have).

In conjunction with the portions, I think about the hunger scale and strive to keep me right in the middle at 2+/2/2- all the time. Tonight I had dinner, very healthy and was still hungry. Really hungry. I drank water, waited and thought about why. I thought about what I ate today and it was unusually light for me. I realized I hadn’t had enough fats or protein to feel satisfied. I noshed on something that fit the bill, drank more water and feel much better.

Today, I reviewed my tracking sheet for August. Exercise, sleep, weight, measurements. I had consistent, strong results. I averaged over half a pound a week of weight loss. Even with bobbles. Even with me working through my trial and error.

It was all encouraging. When I look back at my weight at the beginning of the year, I am down over 10 pounds. This is where patience needs to come into play. I have to be in this for the long haul. This has to be a lifestyle, not a quick fix. This has to be sustainable.

My body is getting older and I need to recognize that the days of quick results are long gone. Both exercise and nutrition need time to yield results. I can’t think about deadlines. If I can just keep trucking along with my half pound a week, I will be great. That will be weight that stays off – it’s not water, not drastic. It will take over a year to get to my goal, but that is fine. I just need to stay the course. I just need to focus on a healthy lifestyle with good, clean food in the right portions and moving my body to make it strong.

As the writer Michael Pollan says, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. That sums up my plan in a nutshell once I add the exercise.

Bon appetite.

Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

What Would You Do?

Today was a crazy day. I am officially on vacation for the Labor Day weekend and it is off to a full moon wacky start. However, one event has created an ethical dilemma. What would you do? Sit back and let me set the scene.

I was home participating in my Zoom Toastmasters meeting. I was minutes away from giving a speech when I hear a woman screaming and a dog fight. Since I was set up right by my window, I peered out to see a young 20-something woman fending a dog away from her pit bull mix. The aggressing dog has no leash. The dogs are the same size. The girl is trying to keep the dogs separated but the unleashed dog won’t back off.

The unleashed dog’s owner has another dog, a husky mix, on a harness leash. He is the same age as the girl. He does not run over to help. He calls the dog, eventually goes over. Meanwhile the girl is screaming for help, picking up her dog, using her body to block the unleashed dog. She is in a panic. The guy gets his dog and walks off. Her dog drags her to the ground. She is frantically fighting for control. It was awful. The husky mix is not helping and egging the situation on – off course, his pack member is having all the fun.

The guy has no leash or collar for the loose dog. She carries her dog upstairs to her apartment. As she does, I run to my door. I call to her and tell her I saw it all. She pops her dog into her apartment and comes over. She is shaking all over. I tell her I am in the middle of a Zoom, but I will come over when I am done.

Between that, the power knocking off my internet less than 10 minutes from the meeting start and a census taker earlier, I was not operating at my peak – LOL – but my speech turned out pretty good. I won a speech contest! Right before I started, I heard her yelling at the guy – they live on the same floor….it lasted less than a minute.

Anyway, back to the ethical dilemma. I pop downstairs (with my mask on) to check on my neighbor. Poor thing. What a morning for her. Her sweat pants are covered in dirt, she broke 4 nails and one was still bleeding. She had just woken up and this was the shit show that started her day.

She had already called property management who told her to call animal control (AC) and the police. The police were kind. She was reluctant to call AC because she didn’t want them to seize the dog. Poor thing. I asked her what the guy said. She said he blew her off, didn’t apologize.

I told her that property management should be enforcing their pet rules. Seizing animals is not the only remedy for AC and that it would not be her fault if the guy got in trouble. He would be getting in trouble because of his actions, not hers. Then I told her I heard their other confrontation several months ago and described it to her dumbfounded face. She tells me after that incident she got a better collar and leash for her dog and she tries to time her walks to avoid the guy. I told her that I am there for her as a third-party witness. I will vouch for her and to please let me know how I can help.

So now you are wondering where is the ethical dilemma in all this? Here it is: I work with this guy. He is in a different department and I don’t see him in my day-to-day routines. I didn’t tell her this. She said he left right after the incident. I knew it was because he had to get back to work.

I am really disappointed with this guy, First of all, why no leash? We live in an apartment complex. That dog needs a leash for its own safety. The dog is skittish. When I have come across them, the dog barks at me and runs away.

Second disappointment: no apology. WTF. His dog caused this girl pain and anguish and an apology is simple common courtesy. It is his neighbor for crying out loud.

What do I do? Do I MYOB? Do I go talk to him next week and basically said WTF? If I do talk to him, I will tell him that I talked to her. Should I call property management and tell them I saw the whole thing and they need to get their heads out of the ass?

Of course, this is huge juicy work gossip and it is absolutely killing me not to say anything, but I won’t. Not right now. I need to give this some time and I need your feedback and dialogue so I can get this off my chest. Ugh, my tongue is bleeding from biting it. Thank goodness I won’t be back in the office until next Tuesday.

So what say you? What would you do?

Her dog looked similar. Photo by Alexandru Rotariu on Unsplash

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