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I Bet I Can Still Sp(+)(+)k You

You know that annual exam we women look forward to every year?

It’s our routine hour spent lying on our back trying to make small talk with someone who knows us more intimately than our significant others desire to. Ice-cold tools send a chill of anticipation up our pelvis as we’re waiting to hear those three words “You’re all done!”

If really looking for an escape from our 9-to-5 routine perhaps after the pelvic exam we double book appointments so that our top half doesn’t feel neglected. It’s always a smashing good time to visit the imaging center for a mammogram. We leave feeling like overworked supermodels after forcing our bodies through a blend of interpretive dance and yogilates for the perfect shot.


Thanking the staff for too much fun for one day, we wave goodbye, skip to our cars and return to our everyday lives. A few days later we hopefully get calls from our doctors saying that everything looks normal. I so look forward to that dance so this time I felt comfort in seeing their message on my phone, putting a happy ending to my annual exams.

When finally treated to a slower afternoon, I dedicated one ear to clear out phone messages.  As the forgotten message from my breast imaging lab began, the transcribed words caught my eye! They read, “We recommend you come back for further test…” Now fully engaged, I scrambled trying to get the message to play faster as if that would answer all of my immediate questions.

My heartbeat surged and the “What ifs” peppered my head like hot sparks. To tune them out, I focused on fixing this – though I still didn’t know what “this” was. I clawed to gain the upper hand by calling the lab, masquerading calm, to book an immediate appointment. My next call, to my doctor, actually preceded the paperwork from the lab so I chalked that as a small victory for me – staying one step ahead of the nasty order. Still, I had to wait 10 days until my next visit, so I needed to exist with the anticipation for that long before getting one step closer to a resolution or a plan. I am horrible with secrets but wanted to process my questions and concerns, not be overwhelmed by everyone else’s yet.

My brain immediately and incessantly drew conclusions between things that I’ve encountered in my life, giving me a few theories to check out. I researched the impact of cell phone towers and possible links to cancer since our work building supports a communication kingdom on the rooftop raining all sorts of waves that we don’t truly know enough about. After an information overload, I held off with the rest of my investigative research online until I could ask the nurses or doctors in person with their real-life experience. The Internet provided material to support any theory I wanted to pursue, but not always the truth, nor information specifically to help me.

I briefly dipped my toe in the irony of having just been picked for the most awetastic Oprahtunity of my life layered with my excitement to cruise with Oprah in a few months then felt frustrated that this could balance out that joy. I refused to live in those thoughts for long because, especially this year, I believe in manifesting our futures. If those negative ironies aren’t allowed to wander the universe, hopefully they couldn’t pick up speed. I remained defiant that whatever these future photos showed, they would not put a damper on those plans.

Realizing that my kids’ homework would still flood us and the morning rush wouldn’t lighten up, for the next 10 days, I buried the secret and lived life as usual. OK, yes, I’ll admit to the exception of not sticking my phone in my bra when I needed an extra free hand. Oh, and being still and talking to God a few more times than usual. Despite trying to keep my chin up, I did not sleep well. My mind wasn’t stewing on anything in particular, I just couldn’t sleep. It didn’t help my writer’s block either.  I’m not great with receiving surprises and this unknown had a strong possibility of delivering an unwanted surprise.

On the morning of my appointment, I chose to remain optimistic and focused on staying present. I remember the waffle texture of my starched white robe and how peaceful the waiting room felt with its natural stone walls. Enya’s voice filled the air while other women and I flipped through a library of beauty and fashion magazines. A snapshot of this moment might look like a lovely girls’ spa day.

When called into the first room for a few more smashing images, I suddenly appreciated all of the large machines it takes to stare at my chest. The images on the rocket control monitor looked like a foreign galaxy. I asked the technician what foreign bodies or alien bodies we hoped to locate and she indicated that it’s an asymmetry (I thought everybody’s boobs were asymmetrical). But it just means that one side grew something new.

The Carina Nebula, originally shown in The Telegraph UK

I recovered briefly in the calm waiting room, before a new technician invited to my next stop: Ultrasound. After having two children, I prided myself on my mad ultrasound deciphering skills (even if not my own). Nothing in the shading of these ultrasounds made sense to me. I made a mental note to never play cards with either technician because their poker faces held solid. Not unfriendly at all, but void of any discovery, definition or significance.

While bored on the table, hindsight started my highlights reel. I recalled that my left breast sometimes felt different, but not in a lumpy way. When I did my breast self-exams I couldn’t put my finger on anything specific, it just felt different. Occasionally, I felt a brief pain, too small to set off an alarm, but I chalked it up to mid-life sagging or ill-fitting bras and hoped for an Oprah bra intervention. Perhaps I felt a slight connectivity within the tissue where I hadn’t before. But now, after smashing and poking and prodding for a closer look, I centered in on the area in question!

It gets serious fast when you see things in writing!

The technician asked me to get off the table and hang out for a minute while, I assumed, she made sure the slides captured clear enough images to send to my doctor. When she walked back into the room, the full color of the emotion on her face filled the room as she announced: Benign! I avoided making eye contact with a paper reading “malignant” or “benign” that emphasized in what felt like 75pt bold font just how much weight this answer carries. Then I got dizzy trying to remember which word I wanted to receive, or not. Benign!

Turns out it’s just a little cyst. Bodies make them sometimes, my body seems better at this than most. Because of my delight and previous pixie dust use, I immediately pictured the cyst as a friendly Disney character (It’s weird where our mind goes in times of stress). I thanked her profusely, wished her a wonderful weekend, returned to the dressing room to change back into my normal clothes, and cried. Relieved.


Take Aways:

  • Get annual exams – I’d fallen off my regular schedule after a work event competed for time last fall. After the urgent reminder of a friend who hoped to get even one friend to make her appointment – I called.
  • Do monthly breast exams – Just do it!
  • Don’t be afraid of doctors – Don’t be scared to go to the doctor because you’re afraid of what they’ll find. They are trained to know how to fix you so you can focus on being or getting well. Often, the issue is smaller and treatment is less scary than your enthusiastic imagination or Web MD says.
  • Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion – Even if they have similar diagnosis, their treatment style could be different. Find a doctor you feel comfortable with.
  • Consider finding your family history – Doesn’t mean you will get something or guarantee that you won’t. But when faced with a health challenge, I feel the more knowledge we have, the less irrational fear occurs. If nothing else, it helps knowing there is someone else who understands what you are facing.
    • Relax – Remember that hopefully your story will be less crazy than people who came before you thanks to progress made in medicine during the last decade.
    • Be Confident – Consider too that these days, technology advances with DNA may allow us to someday change the negative DNA we’ve been gifted with.

What about you?

  • Please share tips or resources that helped you get through a health challenge or scare.
  • Please share your ideas for gifts that patients and their families really enjoy.
  • Do you use your bra like a pocket too? Keys, credit cards, loose change…
  • Did you do your annual exam this year? Go! Call! Now!
  • Do you have any fun rituals like treating yourself to a spa day afterwards?
  • Bonus points if you remember what movie my title came from!

(C) Disney

#Breast #PelvicExam #BreastSelfExam #Mammogram #Ultrasound #Health #Healthscare #Symptoms #Cure #Care #OBGYN #AnnualExam #BeHealthy #WomensHealth #Diagnosis #Treatment #Assistance #OMagInsiders #Cocktail #WaltDisneyPictures

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MIDLIFE MOTHER’S DAY REMIX

Am I the only one who was glad to not be harshly yanked from my dream of driving down a scenic cliff side road in a vintage convertible with sun on my face, breeze in my hair only to find cinnamon toast showering her sheets as the kids get ready to rumble?

wake up

Even as  youngsters, holidays never started at the crack of dawn. For my now tween and teen – Rewritten Mother’s Day rituals (as they dawned on me today):

Sleep in or entertain yourselves until the clock passes 10am – This morning I am loving watching them sleep, listening to their snoring like I used to when they were babies in their cribs. Advanced kid move: If you wake up early, silently read in bed or make a list of 10 things you love to do with Mom.

The little (free) things matter most – While I love any great adventure that the kids dream up, please know that one sibling-bicker-free day, not having to repeat myself/find it for you or the gift of a longer-than-fleeting smile while your games reload makes me feel rich! Advanced kid move: Good long hugs earn you almost anything.

Leave no trace – As the amazing day you planned draws to an end, put the house back into better shape than when you found it without Mom lifting a finger. Cinnamon toast in bed – you strip the sheets and wash them. After the celebrations make time pass too quickly – go work on your homework without being told so her glow doesn’t turn to glowering. Advanced kid move: Set up the next day in advance so Mom eases her way into Monday, too – backpacks and sports gear packed, clothes out, lunches made (bonus points if you make Mom’s lunch), coffee machine locked and loaded.

cleanAll Mom’s deserve days of appreciation for their relentless dedication! For me, laying in bed since I woke up 3 hours ago, blogging from bed, looking forward to watching a mom rom com and take a walk together will be the best Mom’s Day yet.

Photo by SprayedOut.com

Here’s to you (& single Dads who mother too) and those many who support you all in being the best mom’s ever! Thanks to my kids whom I love more than words and who truly amaze me every day!

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: LANDSCAPE

After a long, sometimes really lonely, sometimes exhilarating, drive the landscape of Death Valley not only thrills you but truly takes your breath away. When we pulled into the one-way road through Artist’s Drive we worried that we couldn’t see where the road led to. Once in the  drive we couldn’t wait to see where the next curve led to. Each landscape offered a different palette, different geology. I can’t wait to go back and hike it so I can breathe it in more slowly, savoring each view!

   
   

Best Dinner in the Universe

If you put your desires out into the universe, sometimes the universe answers.  Turns out, I put out a beacon into the Yelp Universe – just a simple truth, “Honestly, I’d love a gift card from [Bristol Farms] sometime because there are so many fun distracting foods and things I would try.” Their amazing webmaster Nicole heard, made my year and sent me a gift card!!  

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Feeling like a kid in a candy store, I jumped onto their website. Immediately, “New! Blue Bottle Coffee…” [Click!] grabbed my attention. Scooping 5-day old news about the “best iced-coffee drinks in America” now being sold at Bristol Farms revved up the mommy blogger wanna-be in me!

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Something for them for dinner, something for me for cooking!

Until my disastrous kids’ lunch offering brought me back to reality and guilt drove me to do dinner better.  

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Mommy got distracted by Facebook.

Frantically, I reviewed their online recipes!  While I love the idea of cooking complex meals on weekends, I decided on dinner that would taste elaborate, but was simple: Grilled Teriyaki Albacore with Wasabi Butter. Facing my fears directly, the butcher de-skinned the fish fillets (the gal before me did the same, not just me).

Their home brand teriyaki marinade streamlined preparations.

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A domestic goddess took over my body making chive and wasabi butter, briefly wishing for a butter mold.

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Then the wasabi burnt a hole through to my senses returning me to my kitchen.

While the flavors set for an hour, I fed my inner goddess enjoying the (strange) pairing of poke and Blue Bottle Coffee.  

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Half Salmon, Half Spicy Tuna –         All delicious!

George Foreman relieved the outdoor grill (El Niño warning). It felt devilishly rebellious scooping the flavored butter onto the fillets.

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Keeping it simple, I served the fish with rice from last night’s Chinese Dinner and frozen organic kid-friendly peas.  

Dinner’s served! 

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“WTF: Wait THAT fish…I thought you said fish sticks.”

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“I don’t like albacore!”

Turns out, my son loved it.  He even got seconds of the fish (usually he fills up on carbs).  My daughter completely surprised herself by surviving eating that much “chicken.”  (Auntie P, next time we’re down if she asks about albacore chickens – play along.) Best part?!  Inhale… No stinky fish smell!

To cap off the evening – fun hazelnut-filled mini beignets! Too fun to pass up!

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Mini beignets! Dangerously easy to pop in your mouth!

Thank you Nicole! What a deliciously fun close to our holiday season!

Tell me when the universe responded to you!

 

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: SEA

Here’s hoping the ocean and the sea are the same thing. I know smaller bodies of water are called seas but cruise ships set out to sea in the ocean so I’m wandering after that train of thought…

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47. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU NOTICED THE SOUND OF YOUR OWN BREATHING?

From the second I opened the office door late last week, the din of heavy traffic welcomed me as my boss headed directly towards me with a smile. I ducked out of his way waving pleasantries as he passed through. I’d deposited my purse in the drawer, unlocked the computer, when suddenly he reappeared.  Quickly, I jumped into the traffic flow to get some answers. Finally, upon returning to my desk, parking myself in the seat, a large cleansing breath escaped my lips startling me! I joked to my co-pilot, that it was far too early for that.

...and repeat.

…and repeat.

Apparently the distress and detox yoga dvd that my daughter and I did the night before couldn’t hold back the combination of work, life and finals. During the video, careful care was taken to feature the gal’s diaphragm demonstrating correct inhaling and exhaling form.  Apparently we weren’t focused enough on breathing because my daughter noticed, before I commented, that the video focused a majority of the time on the girl’s boobies – from every angle.

Finally, for my make-believe half-marathon training – which will come to life when my class work ends next Tuesday – I’ve started climbing the stairs at work when possible.  Even when I trained 6 days a week for a ½ ironman, stairs still always winded me.  So to counter this, I started my marathon breathing to climb the stairs.  Two quick breaths in, two quick breaths out and this results in me restoring the ability to speak faster than usual.

No, I get it, the point is, when did I just sit alone with myself and focus on my breathing? I also am aware that things will leap off the page to you when you need them the most. The tricky part is that one receives and applies the advice in a timely manner.  So today, you have my word, after finishing voiceover for one finals project and before diving into my draft of my finals paper for my other class, I will drop off my kids, retreat to my favorite corner of the world, let the sunshine hit my face, the caffeine course through my veins, and let the breaths come slow and steady.

Unlimited fresh air and perspective to inhale!

Unlimited fresh air and perspective to inhale!

Check out the other 50 Questions

SMURF HAPPENS! The Premiere

My kids and I rarely visit the Westside of Los Angeles. Traffic and rampant Bruins make it less-than-desirable for us. Last Sunday, we were noticeably blue because we got invited to Sony Pictures’ blue carpet premiere of The Smurfs 2! My kids didn’t grow up on the Smurfs like I did, but we loved the first movie and were thrilled to see the sequel!

Smurf Happens!

Smurf Happens!

We grabbed Lauren’s friend and set off on an adventure!

Smurfin' Street Scene

Smurfin’ Street Scene

Within a block from the parking lot, you saw Men In Black positioned at key positions along barricaded streets.  According to my friend, with Katy Perry and Britney Spears attending, the security detail was going to be a clusterfoccacia!  The first sign that we’d arrived at a premiere, not an alien invasion, was a huge Smurf melting in reverse positioned for his shining moment at the head of the blue carpet.

Where the Action Is

Where the Action Is

The street was a sea of blue laid with Smurfing custom cars,

Smurfin' Smart Cars

Smurf My Ride!  Smurfed Out Smart Cars!
I finally realize who fits in those cars!

and a Smurfing tiered cake.

My favorite Baltimore Baker - Duff!    Getty Images

My favorite Baltimore Baker – Duff!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Fans and paparazzi were already lined up warming up their flashes or their voices.

Smurfin' Tour Eiffel

Smurfin’ Tour Eiffel

I yelled to my friend and, after making eye contact, started to move towards her. The security twitched in my direction ready to pounce.  Seriously, do we look like we will body slam people to get pictures with them?

Cheyenne Jackson is so hot it's startling - obviously! Really?!

Cheyenne Jackson is so hot it’s startling – obviously! Really?! I couldn’t muster a smile?!

MMmmmKmaybe.

Neil Patrick Harris and family (C) Getty Images/Sony

Neil Patrick Harris and family
(C) Getty Images / Sony

We waited to see celebrities inside the lobby. On the carpet, stars were moved along, but once inside, they had a moment to relax before entering the theatre. For my son and myself, the highlight was seeing various personalities and meeting a super polite kid who stars in one of my kids’ favorite shows!

Dylan Riley Snyder from Kicking It!

Dylan Riley Snyder from Kicking It!

For the girls, tchotchkies, ushers with bottomless boxes of treats, a Smurfing Happy Meal with 2 toys plus chocolate milk was more valuable than free-flowing champagne.  Then came the Staff lanyards!  With the power of executives flowing through them, the youngsters could stand in the lobby where they wanted, ignore the wishes of security, and walk the blue carpet!

WTF: Wave towards Faces The power of the lanyard!

WTF: Wave towards Faces
The power of the lanyard!

Seeing the film before it opened, star-gazing and being thrown in with such a creative crowd was such a fun experience for us all!  Bonus:  Finally knocked a big item off my 101 in 1,001 list!

Grandma Perry's shirt was classic:  I've got the hots for Grandpa Smurf!  Check out the blinged out cane too! (C) Getty Images / Sony

Grandma Perry’s shirt was classic:     I’ve got the hots for Grandpa Smurf!
Check out the blinged out cane too!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Pop Princesses Britney and Katy! Love them!

Pop Princesses Britney and Katy!
Love them!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Thanks Pal! We had a blast!

Thanks Pal! We had a blast!

See you next time Katy!  Or in 30 min. when we go home and watch "Part of Me!"

See you next time Katy!
Or in 30 min. when we go home and watch “Part of Me!”

WHO MOVED MY HOVERCHEESE?

Challenges, any changes, energize me.  Call me Grace (under fire), I’m a sucker for deadlines – they’re part of my creative process. When sudden reorgs at work occur, I hunker down and work through tumultuous times. When baseball adds another 2 teams’ practices in one week, I rolled with it. Strengthsfinder 2.0 says I’m a problem solver – I live for solving the family’s carpool problems.  Nothing throws me, until I’m faced with myself.

When first semester of grad school started I spent my first 48 hours fighting non-stop with technology but triumphantly gained a working knowledge for my class.  I beat technology. When first semester ended, I spent my first 48 hours reading books to escape the textbooks. I beat the class!

But then nothing…  Don’t get me wrong, my break rocked! We enjoyed the first holiday with 3 excited cousins (last year only 2 were old enough to anticipate traditions), cruised the Caribbean, caught some movies… But when given the chance, I didn’t do that “thing I would do even if I didn’t get paid”… I didn’t write. (Thank you if you noticed, I appreciate your support)!

I planned to blog, write a book, poetry – even haiku.

IOHaikU: Here, I brought you a gift!

IOHaikU: Here, I brought you a gift!

When I stepped away from my laptop on the last day of class, I turned my back on it.  I didn’t want to touch it, look at it, nothing!  Knowing this, I bought myself a composition book for writing, but, did nothing. I lost the opportunity.

Believe it or not, 6-7 weeks into the break, I craved returning to the rhythm of the master’s program.  I missed my classmates, the weekly feeling of achievement; I anticipated an easier first 48 hours this time, and relished in the slight confidence of being a return Grad Student! The topics this semester thrilled me as I love the problem solving, creative work, and had some experience with strategic corporate and marketing communications. I looked forward to drawing on personal experience.

But, things changed. The blend of students was new, the rhythm of the class feels like a remix, and even the material seems opposite from my true-life experiences.  This time, I recognize the fight-or-flight reaction and am rolling with it. I’m acclimating to the new semester with excessive amount of calendaring, spreadsheets and post-it notes, as well as commiserating with other students.  It’s a change in perspective to see that change doesn’t thrill me, but it will only bring about positive changes in me.

2-10 change

And now, for today’s show-n-tell, I brought Hovercheese!! Can you please check my homework?!

8 I’S THAT CREATE SUCCESSFUL WE

Believe it or not, this life’s lesson is plucked from an article I’m reading on Business Alliances for my classes on how to create excellent alliances…

Worst case scenario – great working relationship
Best case scenario – LOVE!

Individual Excellence  – Both should be independently strong and bring something of value to contribute to alliance. Have positive goals, not just looking to escape something.

Importance – The relationship should fit your strategic objectives so both want to make it work

Interdependence – Partners complement each other and neither can accomplish on own what both can together

Investment – Invest in each other to show mutual respect, commitment

Information – Open communication, share goals, trouble spots, changing perspectives

Integration – Link operations to teach and learn from each other, bridge on many levels

Institutionalization – Make relationship formal, not easily broken, set clear responsibilities and decision processes

Integrity – Behave honorably towards each other, no abuse of power, no undermining!

Seems like pretty wise advice for any relationship!

Citations:

Kanter, R. M., (1994). Collaborative Advantage: The Art of Alliances. Harvard Business 

    Review, 94405, 96-108.

THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING ALONG!

Woo hoo!  We hit 100 Followers!  I’m truly appreciative that you are here wandering with me!  Thank you for the company and the conversations!

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We’ve come so far yet have many miles still to cover!
WTF: We Thank Followers!
Thank you to grist.org for the great photo!

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