A Woman’s Choice

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Before you read today’s blog post I think I better give you a warning.  Maybe not a warning, but at least a head’s up.  This blog post is a personal one.  It’s about women and women’s health.  It may contain some detailed information that if you’re a bit squeamish may make you feel uncomfortable.  I have several men who read my blog and I hope you will take the time to read it.  If you don’t feel up to it, I will forgive you.

Okay,  on with the show.

A few weeks ago I had surgery.  I had a hysterectomy.  No need to beat around the bush.  The surgery went very well.  As a matter of fact my surgeon said it was perfect.  I am not a fan of the word perfect, but let’s just say it went well.  Other than needing a nap around 3:00 pm I am back into my normal routine.

Hysterectomy surgery is a controversial topic for some people.  One in three women will have hysterectomy in their lifetime.  It’s a staggering statistic.

Prior to having my surgery I didn’t’ tell many people.  The reason I didn’t is because I didn’t want to have to explain my decision.  Woman at a young age have to make decisions about their health.  As much as I love being a women there are times I get tired of justifying my life choices to other women.

When a girl gets her first period she must make the choice of which brand of feminine product to use.  You wouldn’t think making this choice would be a big deal, but it is.  Team Pad and Team tampon begin forming at a young age.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but essentially do the same job.  It’s ridiculous.  Why the hell to people care what other people are using to soak up menstrual fluid?

As a woman ages she must make more personal health choices.  Birth control is one of them.  In college my friends and I all made our birth control choices.  (My mother knows I had sex in college so I can move on with the conversation here.)  Several of my friends were on the Pill.  I never was.  I didn’t want to take hormones that could alter my body’s function.  I didn’t know all the facts about the Pill back then I just knew it wasn’t the right choice for me.

Friends questioned my birth control choice.  I made the guys wear condoms and I used a spermicide.  As a matter of fact I have stuck with that same method of birth control for 30 years.  Yes, my husband and I have used condoms and foam for the last 20 years of our marriage with the exception of when were creating our boys. My birth control choice wasn’t always ideal.. but it did the job.

Using condoms as a form of birth control while you are single seems to be a good choice for most people, but choosing to do so when you are married makes people feel uncomfortable.  I can’t tell you the number of comments I have had to endure over the years about this topic.  I haven’t told many people (until now), but the few I have couldn’t believe my husband used condoms for so many years.  The reason was simple.  I didn’t want to go on hormones and my husband didn’t want to get a vasectomy.  It was our choice and we never had any problem with it.

Women make more decisions about health and lifestyle choices than men.  We must decide when or if to have children.  Will we use fertility drugs or adopt if we are unable to conceive children?  Will we nurse or bottle feed the baby?  Cloth or disposable diapers?  Will we work or stay home with the newborn?  You can see where this is going.  The list goes on and on for women and the choices they must make about the life they want to have.

Women are more compassionate then men (at least in my experience), but they are also much more judgmental.  I don’t think we mean to make other women uncomfortable when we share our options.  I think most women feel they know better and hope if we share our information the other person will know better too.

The problem is no should have to justify why they make a personal choice.  I guess that’s why I didn’t tell many people about my surgery.  I had a difficult time making my choice.  I’d been suffering with perimenopausal  symptoms for over three years.  I never had any issue with my period until perimenopause began.  But three years ago everything changed.

I developed fibroid in my uterus and cysts on my ovaries.  The fibroid caused me to have excessive bleeding each month during my period.  It was awful.  I can’t tell you how often I would have to leave a situation running to the bathroom for fear of bleeding all over myself.  I wore overnight pads on my period days and still they couldn’t  contain all the fluid.

Each month when my period arrived I was filled with dread.   I wore red pants to save me if an accident occurred.  In my brief case I carried a change of underwear and extra pads with me.  My life was stressful and unpredictable.

After a bad episode one month I decided to talk to my doctor about options.  She scheduled me for an ultra sound, MRI, had blood work, and a biopsy.  I was then sent to a specialist.  The recommendation was a full hysterectomy.  This means uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes to be removed.  I didn’t like the recommendation.   It seemed too drastic.  There was no cancer involved.  I got another opinion and discussed my situation with trusted friends and family who had similar issues or who  only had my best interest in mind.

I spent hours doing research.  Searching every possible answer to each of my questions.  In the end I made my choice.  I could have tried several other options before having my hysterectomy.  I decided not to.  Removing my ovaries would mean I would to be on an estrogen patch for a while (another controversial woman’s choice).  The one thing I had avoided all of my young life was using hormones and now I would have to use them or go into full menopause.

Making my decision to have my surgery was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.  Some women welcomed having their hysterectomy and others wish they could have one.  But for me I feared I would lose some of my femininess.  I worried what would happen if the surgery was unsuccessful.  I was concerned about the effects of the hormones and the risks they would have on my future health.  My uterus and ovaries had brought me great joy in my life.  How would I function without them?

Women make many choices over a lifetime.  Many of them are difficult and personal.  All choices have positive and negative consequences.  The key is to look at each choice and do what feels best for you. Because in the end you are the one who has to live with the choice.  As for giving advice to other women making a difficult life choice keep in mind what you would want to hear if you were in their situation.

I’m doing well.  Coping with my loss and working through hormone issues.  No choice is perfect, but at least I can say I made it on my own.

By the way, an interesting side effect of my surgery is no need for birth control.  If you see my husband smiling you’ll know why.

 

 

 

 

 

Fear of Judgment

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I haven’t been writing my blog much.  It’s not that I don’t have things to say.  I always have something to say.  It’s because I’ve become fearful of being judged.  Writing my blog has helped me overcome this fear in the past.  But since I started my job I no longer feel the freedom to write like I once did.  A lot of people who read my blog are personal friends or people I know at work.  No one has told me to write less or that I have to write only in a certain way.  I’ve created the situation myself.

I have missed writing my blog and decided I needed to get back on track and get over my fear.  I came across an interesting article on one of my favorite websites, Tiny Buddha.  The article is titled, Ten Steps to Overcome the Fear of Judgment.  Here are my favorite quotes from the article.

At times, I’ve gathered all my fears about everything I think I’m not into a big heap of angst, and then placed it front of other people where it completely obscured my view of them.

It’s taken me years to realize I can break that all down. I can choose not to assume that people are judging me, thinking they’re better than me. I can assume people see the best in me—as I’m able to see in them when I stop obsessing about myself.

People mentioned they miss my reading my blog posts.  When I don’t write I deprive myself and others of something enjoyable.  That doesn’t make sense.  Not everyone is expected to think I’m fabulous (although I secretly wish they would).  Time to get out of my head and back to writing.  I’ll be starting back at work soon after a wonderful summer break.  Now is the time to share my thoughts before the school year makes my life insane.

People will judge.  I can’t control what they think about me.  But maybe reading my blog can influence they way they think.  I’ll go with that.

 

 

No Glamour

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The other day I had a conversation with a friend of mine.  She asked if I was going to return to my job in the fall.   I told her I planned to return.  Her response to my decision was not exactly what I expected.

“I can’t believe you are going return to that job.  I could never do it.  Working outdoors in all sorts of weather, dealing with demanding parents, horrible hours, and the pay is awful.  I don’t know why you are going back?”

My friend’s comment made me wonder, “Does everyone think the way she does?  Do people think I’m nut to return to a job that seems to offer so little?”  I responded to my friend saying the job did have challenges and my decision to return wasn’t easy, but despite the hard work I felt the work I did was important.  For now, the job was what I was looking for professionally and personally.

Making a decision to stay at a challenging  job isn’t easy.  When you have a family it can make the decision more difficult.  I think what makes my job unappealing to some is there is no glamor involved with it.  Most of what I do isn’t visible to the public.  It’s behind the scenes.  And when people do see me they often see me dealing with difficult situations.

Not having a glamorous job reminded me of a poster I saw once.  It was a poster that featured from TV star Mike Rowe.  Years ago Mike was sitting with his high school guidance counselor discussing his future after high school.  During the conversation Mike mentioned he thought going to a two-year college, instead of a four-year one would be a good choice for him.  His guidance counselor told him that going to community college was beneath his potential.  Mike’s guidance counselor pointed to a poster on the wall.  On one side of the poster was a blue-collar worker; on the other side was a college graduate. Underneath, the text read: Work Smart NOT Hard.

Mike Rowe

Mike decided he didn’t like the message his guidance counselor’s poster said, so he created one that seemed to make more sense.  There are many jobs that most of us wouldn’t want to do, but what would happen if we didn’t have people to do them?

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After 15 years of being home caring for my boys I returned to the workforce.  If I waited until I found a glamorous, dream job I doubt I would be employed right now.  There is no shame in doing a job most others wouldn’t do.  Doing a job well is what matter’s most, no matter what the job is.

For now, the glamour in my life will have to be done with an updated wardrobe.  Sure hope my husband agrees.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Words of Wisdom – Travelista Blog

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Traveling abroad is no easy feat with five family members. Several months ago as I was preparing for our family trip to England/Ireland I did research on how to pack lightly.  Packing light was a necessity for the family and I because we were traveling with a large group.  Packing less meant saving money, time, and effort.  Our family goal was for each person to be able to include all the needed items for the trip in one small carry on bag, per person.

Amazingly we achieved our goal.  Each of us brought only one carry and a smaller tote bag on the plane.  We didn’t check any bags in on any flights we flew on.  Packing lightly was not easy for me.  I’m an over packer.  I love to be prepared for anything and have an outfit to wear with any event.  The idea of packing two weeks of clothing, in a small carry on, was stressful enough, but I was also concerned about how fashionable I would look on my travels.  I wanted to enjoy the sights of Europe looking as if I was meant to live in there, not like just another American tourist making their rounds.

Fashion and travel don’t always go together, but luckily I found an addictive website that helped me pack only the necessary items and look like the fashion guru I’ve always hoped to be.  The travel site I found is called Travelista.  It is a small site that focuses on simplifying traveling, especially when in comes to packing light.  I love, love this website.  The packing advice given has changed my travel life forever.

Two must read articles are How to Pack Light and 8 Ways to Pack Like a Fashionista.  The information and advice shared in these article is great.  I thought I would show you what I packed for my two-week trip to Europe using the advice given from Travelista.

I tried to follow the packing guidelines as closely as possible.  The color combinations may seem dull for Fall, but I was happy with my choices.  Every item of clothing could be easily worn with each other and perfect for layering.  Layering is the key to successful light packing.  I will show you my Spring/Fall packing list and one for Summer.  The colors in the Summer packing list are much for colorful.

Spring/Fall Items

Summer Items

The tips used for packing aren’t just for women.  I applied the same principles to pack for my husband and three boys too.  We had room for all of our personal grooming things  and were able to accommodate temperature ranges rain/sun and from the low 40 degrees to the lower 70 degrees.  In case you are wondering we did laundry three times during our trip.

Pretty cool, right?  I certainly think so.  Since our trip to Europe I’ve spent hours preparing for our next family adventure.  Traveling with the kids may not be easy, but at least I won’t have to worry about packing.

 

 

Eww

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A conversation between a mother, a father, two teenage boys, and a little boy.

Mother walks in to kitchen and sees teenage boy looking for food in pantry and little boy at kitchen table.  Little boy is pouring water into several containers.

“What are you doing?” – Mother

“Getting something to eat.”- Tall Boy

“Not you.  Your little brother.  What is going on with all the water containers?  What are you doing?” – Mother

“I’m being a scientist.  I am seeing what kinds of things can freeze in water.” – Little Boy

“Oh.  Being a scientist is good, but it sure is messy.  Here’s a towel to wipe up some of the water.” – Mother

Mother hands towel to little boy.

“It would be really cool is if we could freeze different types of liquid.  I bet we could freeze pee.” – Little Boy

“Eww.” – Tall Boy

“Why would you want to freeze pee?” – Mother

“Because it’s a liquid, Mom.  We have to see if all liquids freeze.” – Little Boy

Old Boy walks into the kitchen.

What are you guys talking about?” – Old Boy

“Freezing pee.” – Tall Boy

“Ha, ha.  You guys are weird.  If you freeze pee you could make ice cubes and serve them in drinks when friends come over to visit.” – Old Boy

“Yeah.  You could tell everyone it’s lemonade, if you add a little sugar.” – Tall Boy

“Ha, ha.” – Old Boy, Little Boy and Tall Boy

Father walks into the kitchen.

What is so funny?’ – Father

“The Y chromosome you added to our children is acting up again.” – Mother

How I Killed the Green Eyed Monster

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Several years ago I became Facebook friends with a woman I will call Betty.  Betty was a friend of a friend and when she sent me a Facebook request I thought nothing of it.  I knew who she was and thought she was a nice enough gal.

I didn’t know Betty very well, but in my early days of Facebook I enjoyed becoming friends with people I hardly knew and learn about their life.  Betty was a Facebook regular and from I could tell from the first few posts a professional at it.  When I first starting reading Betty’s posts I realized Betty had an amazing life.  As a matter of fact, I soon became aware there was nothing ordinary about Betty at all.

Betty is an attractive lady, mother of two beautiful girls, has an amazing career, super fit, married to her husband for over 25 years and rich…very rich.  Betty is the kind of person everyone loves.  She is funny, outgoing and very generous.  Each time I read about her career advances, trips abroad, marathon accomplishments I felt something growing inside of me.  It took me a while to identify what is was exactly, but finally I realized it was a ‘green-eyed monster”.

Each day I looked at my Facebook page and checked in on Betty. I read her posts and all of her comments.  I analyzed her life and every detail of it.  I began to feel envious, even jealous of Betty’s life.  Betty seemed to have it all.  And I do mean all.  Instead glancing at her photos and thinking to myself, “Wow, good for her.”  I started to plot and plan for her demise.

When Betty would go on her amazing vacations I would wish for rain.  When her daughter applied for a prestigious college I hoped the paper work would get lost.  When she ran her second marathon in three months I willed her foot to break.  My jealously seemed to over take me at times.  I allowed someone else’s good fortune and hard work turn me into a vile creature.

One day I spoke to my husband about a recent trip Betty had been on.  I talked about Betty’s trip in such a way that my husband said to me, “You sound jealous of Betty.  Why would you be jealous of her?”  I explained to him that she was beautiful, successful, rich, and a size 2.  To me it seemed obvious why I was jealous of her.  Instead of joining in on my trashing of Betty, my husband suggested I do something else.  He told me to wish Betty well and to be happy for her.

Be happy for Betty?  The woman who had it all didn’t need me to be happy for her, she was already happy.  What I wanted was my life to be more like Betty’s.  I told my husband I wished I had Betty’s life.  He looked at me and said, “If you had Betty’s life you wouldn’t be married to me, have your three boys, your friends, or your family. Is that what you really want?”  I looked at my husband.  What would I do without all the people I loved in my life?  My husband’s wise words got me thinking.

I decided it was time to kill the green-eyed monster.  I didn’t defriend Betty, but started to put positive energy toward her.  When she purchased a new car I told her it was wonderful.  When she won a prestigious award at work I told her congratulations.  And when she shared her photo of her in a bikini in Hawaii, looking stunning, I told her she looked amazing.

Slowly my attitude toward Betty changed.  I began to feel genuinely happy for her. She was a nice lady after all and had never been mean to me.  As a matter of fact she always posted kind things to me on Facebook.  I realized Betty did have an amazing life and it was okay.  I had a great life with a wonderful family, great friends and good health.  My life was the one that suits me best.

Occasionally I glance at Betty’s Facebook postings and think, “Geez.  Another marathon?”  But, for the most part the monster in me is dead.  Killed with well wishes and positive thoughts.

Wonder if all the monsters of the world could be cured with kindness?  It’s something to think about.

A Year in the Life

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It’s been a full year since I transitioned back to work from a full-time home parent to a working parent.  Many things have changed in the last year, including blogging taking a back seat to new demands.

My life has changed dramatically over the course of the last 12 months.  Some things for the better, some for the worse, and some things are still the same.

I loved being a full-time home parent.  As a matter of fact, I am not working right now because I work for a school and we are out for summer break.  I am extremely happy.  The boys and I have planned things for this summer, but our schedule is determined by what we would like to do rather than what we have to do.  Being a full-time home parent is kind of like being self-employed.  You can turn down jobs you don’t want and choose the one you do.

My transition to a working parent wasn’t easy.  It’s hard to know if the transition was hard because I had been out of work for so long or because the job I transitioned with was so challenging.  I think it was a little of both.  Being a perfectionist by nature I found the ‘learning curve’ for the new job very hard.  As much as I prepared I was never really ready for how stressful it would be.  Because my job is management, I had to quickly come up to speed skills used over 15 years ago.  Many skills were rusty and some forgotten.  Managing a program and other people while trying to play catch up wasn’t fun.  I felt overwhelmed all the time.

My family seemed to adjust quicker than I.  My oldest son enjoyed his role as driver to pick up his two brothers from school each day.  My husband planned and cooked meals, helped with homework, and managed to pick up the house a bit.  It was painful to come home stressed out each day from work and find the family happy and functioning without me.  I had always prided my work as a home parent and was surprised how quickly I was replaced.

For the first few months at work I made mistakes.  My expectations for myself and others were often too high.  I didn’t have a coping system for all the new emotions I was experiencing.  I did a lot of yelling, crying and complaining.  Most of which was done at home with my family.  My husband and kids had to endure a woman was wasn’t at home as often and when home she was an emotional mess.  I doubted my decision every single day and longed for my former life being home.

However, like most new experiences I became more familiar and things got better.  I started to experience success.  People made comments how I was making a positive difference.  My staff responded well to my direction.  I found I was more capable than I thought I was.  I developed friendships related to me and to my work, not things related to my kids.  I began becoming a separate person away from being a mother and wife. I could relate to why so many women wanted to return to work, so they could have accomplishments that were solely their own.

A year in the life of a working mom I have survived.  It hasn’t been all good, but there has been good in it.  The boys proved they were capable to doing more to care for themselves.  My husband proved he is able to be as nurturing as I am.  But most of all, I proved to myself that  I can work, being a wife, be a mom, not perfectly, but in a way that makes me and my family happy.

I made it through the first year.  That makes me pretty darn proud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anything Worse

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A conversation between a mother and a teenage son.

Mother walks into family room and sees teenage son lying on the couch.

“Hey. Would you mind finding another place to read your magazine? Dad and I want to watch a movie.” – Mom

“I want to watch a movie too. What movie is it?” – Tall Boy

“The movie is called Her, by Spike Jonez. I’ve already seen it, but Dad hasn’t.” – Mom

“I heard that movie was good. Can I watch it with you guys?” – Tall Boy

“No. I want to watch it alone with Dad. Besides the movie has a masturbation scene. Do you want to watch a scene about masturbation with your mom sitting next to you?” – Mom

“I can’t think of anything worse. I’ll pass on the movie.” – Tall Boy

“Good choice.” – Mom

Photo Friday – Sums It Up

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On our recent vacation to Ireland each member of my family had a different perspective of what made the trip fun.  My husband and I enjoyed everything, especially driving the countryside and seeing the landscapes.  Little Boy enjoyed exploring, taking photographs, and recording videos with his camera.  The teenagers enjoyed…well, this video pretty much sums up the teen boys experience.

Video created by Little Boy.

 


Happy parents, adventurous little boy and two grumpy teenagers…the story of my life.

Happy Anniversary

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Today is the third anniversary of my blog.  I had no idea until I happened to check my email and WordPress congratulated me on the big event.  Interestingly, I am also celebrating my 20 year anniversary of marriage with my husband this month too.  Anniversaries are a good thing to celebrate because they show a commitment.

To celebrate my blog anniversary I am writing today’s blog.  To celebrate my 20 year wedding anniversary my family and I have just returned from a two-week trip to Ireland/England for our spring break vacation.  It was an amazing trip.  What seems more amazing is how I have been married for 20 years.  It seems yesterday when my husband and I took our vows as husband and wife.

We took our boys with us on our anniversary celebration overseas.  People asked why my husband and I brought the boys along if we were celebrating our life as a married couple.  The reasons we brought the boys are simple.  First, we wanted to visit both countries and didn’t have anyone to care for the boys if we went away. Second, the boys are part of our marriage.  They are a result of my husband and I being married, so it seemed appropriate to bring them along.  Third,  we wanted to give the boys the gift of travel.  Overseas travel is something my husband and I enjoy and we haven’t done so since we got married 20 years ago.  With college starting soon for Old Boy and then for Tall Boy soon after, now was the best time to show the boys that a world exists outside of the United States.  Our hope is to inspire the boys to make their own plans for travel when they are older.  This may have been our only overseas trip with all five of us, so we wanted to make sure if was a trip to remember.

Taking three kids on a two-week, two countries trip was no easy feat.  Planning took months.  Years ago when my husband and I traveled we did some pre-planning, but most of the fun was taking a drive and seeing where you ended up.  If we wanted to stay at a place longer we would.  This is wasn’t an option for us traveling with the boys.  We planned each place, with the boys in mind, to reduce the amount of stress it would place on us and them.  Our planning worked.  With minimal stress we were able to see and do all the things we wanted to do.  Every hour I spend researching details of our stay was worth it.

The anniversary trip to England/Ireland had an impact on me.  It made me realize how much my husband and I have in common.  We enjoy seeing and experiencing different cultures and learning new things.  We don’t often do much out of the ordinary in our home, daily lives and yet were more than willing to do and try everything while traveling.  Some folks have no interest in staying in endless lines at the airport for the sake of traveling, but my husband and I are.  I wish I could say our boys shared their parents’ enthusiasm for travel, but at times they longed for the comforts of the familiar more than the spirit of a great adventure.

My husband felt discouraged because our boys weren’t more expressive with gratitude about allowing them to join us on our anniversary trip.  I was less concerned.  My boys are nice guys, but aren’t mature enough yet to realize the sacrifices we made to take them on the trip.  I don’t expect them gush how wonderful their parents are because we gave them a gift.  We willingly chose to take them with us.  The boys didn’t ask to come.  I know ( or hope) they will understand the size of our gift to them some day.  The next overseas trip my husband and I will be alone though.  As much as we enjoyed having the boys with us, my husband and I realized we would enjoy the next trip much more without constantly catering other people’s needs.

To be honest, I’m not happy to be home.  I know I will be in a few days, but our vacation was good at taking away stress.  The moment I walked through my front door I could feel the weight of life responsibilities push down on me.  There are bills to pay, emails to read, laundry to wash, food to shop for, and thank you notes to write.  The joy of living for only in the moment has passed.  As much as I would like to continue in the mindset of my vacation I know the daily grind of life will not allow me to feel as free.

The anniversary vacation reminded me of how fortunate I am, especially for my marriage.  My marriage is the single greatest gift I’ve been given.  I hope my husband and I have many more celebrations in the future.

Happy anniversary to my husband of 20 years and happy anniversary to another year of blogging.

 

 

 

 

 

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