Thursday, October 30, 2008

The women in my life - part 2

My health care providers

Nancy is my internist. I was referred to her by my dentist. She is a wonderful down-to-earth, say-it-like it is kind of woman, probably close to my age. She has longish graying hair that she wears pulled back off her face, she wears no makeup, and she’s always in trousers. Though she’s not too tall, she has a long stride. She also sounds like she comes from the Midwest. I was so tired of feeling slighted by my male internist I was desperate for a change. And, Nancy turned out to be the perfect doctor for me. Fortunately, I don’t have to see her often – my health is excellent – but I’m confident she would take excellent care of me if I needed it.

Gail, my dermatologist, and I, started out as book club buddies in the mid 1980s. But, when I found out that everyone in the club went to her, I wanted to go too. And, that’s not easy. Her office is on the west side, so it’s a real trek for me to get to her. Also, she’s so busy there is always a wait once I get there. Her assistant, Cynthia, suggests I call before leaving my home or office to see how late she’s running – Gail is always running late – so I can gage my departure time from there. She is the most thorough dermatologist I’ve ever known. And, as a result my husband and son see her as well. We don’t care that she doesn’t take insurance (except Medicare). She’s worth every penny.

Sharon, my gynecologist, doesn't take insurance either. Thank goodness for my flexible spending account. But, she is worth it too. A good friend referred her to me and she never disappoints. She is up on the latest facts that pertain to my age and body, and she takes action quickly when it is needed. I also like that she never over reacts and lets me make decisions with her about whether to I should stay on hormones or not. She and I never believed the results of an early study that resulted in millions of women giving up hormones, so I stayed on them, and I’ve never been happier. Even so, she makes me have regular tests to make sure nothing untoward is happening as a result. She shows her respect for me as an individual and professional – quite a contrast from male doctors I’ve experienced who treated me a know-nothing little girl. Also, she respects my time. She always is ready to see me at my allotted appointment time.

Marlene is the gentlest dentist I have ever known or experienced. And, believe me; I know what a sadist dentist is like. She always asks during a procedure if it hurts. Any little grimace or look from me will concern her. I feel like Marlene and I have grown old together. I started seeing her in the mid 1970s when we were both in our mid 30s. She’s also gained a lot of new knowledge along the way. (However, she still has the same hairdo – long hair, graying now, pushed back and into a French roll in the back.) I like that she continues to go to school and is up on the latest procedures. What will I do if she ever decides to retire?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is speaking in public really worse than death?

The public speaking trainer at my company actually said some people think it is. And, come to think about it, it could be true for me.

I’ve been paralyzed for the last couple of weeks obsessing over having to present a training module this morning. Now really I’m at choice about whether to take on this kind of assignment so, why did I do this to myself? I don’t need to do it. I could easily have opted out of today’s assignment. But I didn’t. I still want to keep my hand in. And in my book proposal I state that I have public speaking experience. If I have to promote my book, I’ll have to be well practiced in presenting skills.

I guess that's a good enough reason to get over my fear and go for it.

Another basic question is, once I've decided to accept the assignment, why do I obsess so much? I’ve presented in front of big groups many times over the last few years – and in front of very high level people. And, as usual , as soon as I stand up in front of the room all my angst, my rapid heartbeats, my sweaty arm pits go away. Today, I didn’t even need to hide in the corner. I just stood in the middle of the room, introduced myself and waded right in – without my cheat sheets that I usually have at the ready just in case.

I think what made me feel better was forcing myself to do a rehearsal last Monday morning. I wanted to make sure that was I was going to say passed muster with my colleagues – the folks in charge of the training. After that, I really began to relax a bit.

That is a good lesson. And it’s one I tell orals teams over and over – rehearsing is the key. If you know your stuff cold, if you’ve gone over it a time or two, there is no reason to feel any trepidation at all.

Ironically, I spent the last couple of days critiquing others at their customer briefing rehearsal. And they listen to me as if I’m an oral presentation guru. Well, I have helped many orals teams become successful. In fact, the leader of the team I worked with this week learned a lot of her skills from me. But, like all else, it’s easier said than done.

Well, I'm happy to report I lived through my presentation today -- yet again!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Calling for votes

I participated in a calling bank today, and I keep asking myself, did it really make a difference? The calls came in electronically, so I had no idea with whom I was speaking -- except someone who lives in Missouri. And, more times than not, my call was either aborted by a hangup before I even had a chance to speak or I was greeted by a hangup as soon as the responder found out whom I was supporting.

However, there were several who responded favorably to my questions. That, I think, made it all worthwhile. In fact, one women who was reluctant to share, said she felt comfortable sharing whom she planned to vote for because she liked my voice.

But, today I didn't get a chance to change anybody's mind or get anyone who wasn't in favor of my candidate to listen to me past my first introductory statement. In fact, I got some guff because I interrupted someone while he was watching his football game.

Oh well, I was calling on a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Quote of the week -- or maybe the century

I went to the Governor's Women's Conference last Tuesday (October 22, 2008) hosted by Maria Shriver. It's my third time going to this event held every year at the Long Beach Convention Center, and each year the line up of celebrities and the numbers of people attending get bigger and better. This year we heard Warren Buffet, Madeleine Albright, Gloria Steinem, Condeleeza Rice, Billie Jean King, Bonnie Raitt, Bono, Cherie Blair, and a host of others who were on panels in the smaller break-out sessions. I had to practically push my way in to hear the panel Madeleine Albright was on, but it was well worth it. One of the topices was women serving as both vertical and horizontal mentors and helpers to other women just starting out and trying to make a success out of their lives.

Madeleine said: "There should be a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."

What a concept. I've seen so many women at my company hold back other women from advancing. I've seen so many women be mean to one another. I've seen so many not take their women colleagues seriously. These are crimes worth going to hell for. Madeleine sure was right on in my book.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The women in my life

I am supported and served by over 20 women in my life. They maintain my home and garden, take care of my body and teeth, pamper me with beauty treatments, keep me physically fit, provide services in the retail arena, and serve me as mentors and teachers. This list of women doesn’t even include work colleagues, friends, and family who are always there when I need them.

I’ve wanted to write a little essay about each of these wonderful women for a while. This is a start. And, as I write more I’ll post them here.

The at home support group:

Elma is a cute little woman who seems to fly around the house from one room to the other, cleaning and doing the laundry and sweeping the driveway and garage floor. Plus, when she has time, she’ll clean out a drawer or two, and it doesn’t even matter that I have to rearrange things after she puts them away. She walks in saying Ola and leaves saying Adios and always calls me Mrs. Madeline. And, as a result of all her hard work, she has raised three beautiful sons , all high school graduates. And two are now in college. She is truly a pure gem.

Janet, a former gymnast, climbs up huge ladders to wash the high windows in our third-level family room. She also climbs up on the roof to wash these windows on the outside. She is fearless, and like a monkey – short and spritely. She also power washes our front porch and path and cleans all of our hanging light fixtures. She has a wry sense of humor and is a good business person.

Ann and Mimi are my creative and green arborists and gardeners. Ann knows just what to plant when and how to take care of the many trees we have in our garden. I know how much she cares about how our yard looks. She also has helped us get rid of the raccoons who have been visiting my little pond ever since it first appeared in our side yard. When she and Mimi were designing my garden they would come into my new office – before it was even finished – and squat down as if they were sitting at my desk so they could see the view I’d have. Now, little blue, orange, and yellow birds regularly come to my little round cement pond and take a dip.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Man plans and God laughs"

I've always liked that quote. My mother said it all the time. John Lennon wrote it another way in one of his songs: "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

So, what all that means to me is there is no sense in planning to do anything right now. No trips, no year in Rome, nothing really beyond today and maybe tomorrow until I know how this financial train wreck is going to turn out. Luckily, I still have a job. Right now any and all thoughts about leaving it are on hold.

Here's a poem about one of my favorite diversions - working out. I definitely need to keep it up now.

Across the Parking Lot, Into the Gym

5:30 A.M.
in the dark, the cold rain,
lines of cars jockey for the space
closest to the door.
The huge gray flatbed
always in the compact section
just to piss me off

blinding light reveals every pore,
frown, furrow,
sleepy eye, yawn, bed head
every drop of sweat,
every added inch
gained chomping on chips,
shoveling in the cookies
pizza pies, McAnythings.

The same folks line up
like race horses
in rows of stairsteppers
rows of treadmills
rows of elliptical trainers
rows of bikes
rows of rowers
ab crunchers, thigh shavers,
hip slimmers, arm deflabbers, chest expanders
dumbbells, barbells, bars with no bells
and no whistles.

They’re on slantboards, flat boards, balance boards,
wood floors, carpeted floors, balls, bozus
You ask what’s a bozu – it’s a half ball.
You have to be there.
They wear
baggy tees, baggy sweats,
long shorts, short shorts, tight shorts,
skin tights, tight tights,
bra tops, tank tops, see-through tops, no tops –
whoops, did I say that?
Really, they all wear tops.
Guzzling, suckling like babies
their sports drinks
from those ubiquitous plastic nipples.

They’re plugged in
to iPods, CDs, cassettes, radios, TVs.
Anything to drown out the drone
the cacophony of weights bouncing off the floor,
feet clip clopping on the treadmill,
Anything to miss
the macho guys yelling across the room,
ridiculing, riling up their buddies,
exposing their pecks
and their sex lives.
Anything to erase
the voice of the brunette with glasses
still gloating over W’s win –
The I told ya sos
And so what?
Others running, climbing, cycling, walking,
flexing, flaunting, strutting their siliconed stuff
The old geezers checking out the babes.
The comes ons, turn ons, hard ons and on and on.

They’re all there when I’m there
every morning
Day in, day out.
5:30 A.M.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Old flames; old souls

I recently went to Winnetka, IL -- just north of Chicago -- for my 50th high school reunion. It was a good time though it seems like no one has changed -- the same cliques have prevailed since our high school days. But I saw some good friends -- from our New Trier News clique plus a few relatives and friends while we were there. Being in Chicago always brings back memories of growing up -- especially of being a chubby little girl, having a wonderful grandpa with thick white hair, and a first crush who had a face more handsome than Paul Newman's.

Chicago Days

My grandpa would hoist me high
on top his shop counter
caked and shiny with the glues and polishes
he used to cobble and repair shoes
on Chicago’s West side.
Once he let me try out his pipe
and I decided to leave it alone after that.

My dad got too big for that scene
and we moved north
near Lake Michigan.
Our home had a huge living room
where I dreamed of marrying
in front of the fireplace.

But, too soon we moved again
further north into the suburbs
thick with foliage
that turned bright oranges and reds in the Fall.
I rode my bike to school
played team sports,
lost my baby fat,
and fell in love for the first time.

That guy, with a face like Adonis
and a line I bought too cheap,
gave me my first cigarette.
I kicked the smoking habit early.
He didn’t.
And now he’s with Persephone
permanently underground.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Always something

Bob’s brother, Richard, had a triple bypass surgery this morning. He had had no symptoms. He just went in for a checkup in preparation for knee replacement surgery, and his doctor found a blockage that couldn’t be fixed with a simple angioplasty.

Bob talked to the hospital folks a couple of hours ago, and the surgery seemed to have gone well. Richard was still sleeping and in intensive care.

But the bottom line here, is that there is always something. Bob is very worried. As am I. Richard is a great guy. Unfortunately, he abused his body by smoking three packs of cigarettes for most of his life. However, he’s been cigarette free now for the last two or three years. He quit right after his wife, Vera, died of lung cancer. Now there’s a lesson learned!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Four generations

My aunt has been hosting a Rosh Hashanah lunch for the family for about the last 20 years. Here we are -- four generations -- last Tuesday posing for our annual photo. Auntie is front and center -- 92 years young and still gorgeous!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What happened to Fall?

This is the first day of October and it is hotter today than any of the days of summer, 2008. The same was true yesterday. It was even hot in Chicago – over 80 degrees – when we were there last weekend. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to some crisp and drizzly fall days.

And, the air conditioning is out of order at my office. Every once in a while I break out in a sweat – like I’m having a constant hot flash when I don’t even have hot flashes anymore.

Well, Sarah Palin is right about one thing. Now that we have global warming, no matter what the cause, we need to do something about it.