#Throwback Thursday: It’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (Shhhh, No One Speak About It)

Originally published 5/19/13       Dedicated to my mom.

A bright spotlight shines on breast cancer. Pink saturates everything. Marathons are held to find a cure. Mammograms are encouraged to detect it.

Ovarian cancer lurks in the shadows hoping no one will notice it. And no one does. It’s free to go undetected and slowly kill thousands of women each year.

You can’t catch it. There is no test for it even though most women think a pap covers it.

No one knows that the signs mimic those of IBS. People usually jump to conclude it’s just digestive problems. Bloating, change in bowel habits, indigestion, nausea, abdominal fullness, fluid in the abdomen, or lump in the abdomen.

Most people don’t know that having breast cancer increases your chances of getting ovarian cancer. And vice versa.

Almost no one realizes that it’s the deadliest gynecological cancer there is.

Women are unaware that the CA125 blood test is the closest thing we have to a screening for ovarian cancer. And it’s not even reliable.

Little headway is being made. The five year survival rate for ovarian cancer has not changed significantly over the past 40 years. That means there are almost never survivors. Only loved ones you have to watch wither away over 1,2,3,4 or 5 years.

In 2008 the American Cancer Society awarded $572.6 million for breast cancer research. Ovarian cancer, $6.2 million.

I’m not trying to pit one disease against the other. Or to say one is more important. But damn. Where are our mammograms? Where are our pink ribbons? Where is our race for the cure? No one seems to notice this silent killer. And so it just goes on killing.

#Throwback Thursday: You Seemed So Perfect On Paper, But Then We Had Date #2

Originally published 5/26/14

I keep thinking I know what qualities I would like in a mate, but the last two men really have me second guessing myself.

I met Mark on Match.com and he was nice, smart, funny, self aware (a big thing with me), a good listener, thoughtful and cute. Ok, I thought, this time I have all the bases covered! This is going to be easy.

Then the self awareness turned into him telling/texting me his every thought and insecurity. All day long. By the second date, he was asking me if I was into this thing long term (uhhh, I don’t know?) and then proceeded to tell me that he was just scared and insecure about where this was headed.

I always thought I was an open minded and compassionate person, but I found myself wanting to yell “Man up!” So, I’m thinking don’t share that stuff so early. It feels a little pressure-y and makes me feel like he lacks confidence which is a turn off. I don’t want to be responsible for anyone’s emotional well being if I decide to bow out on date 3.

So one night after a few drinks (nothing good was ever said after a few drinks), I said to Mark, “Mark, it’s good for a man to be sensitive, but they don’t need to express every single feeling and insecurity all the time…” Who knows what else I added to that way too informative comment. So we quit talking soon after. Shocker.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I met Adam. Again, perfect on paper. All the “right” qualities on the surface. He did almost the exact same thing Mike did. First date was awesome and then second date I felt like I should invite him to lie down on the couch and ask him for a copay.

I always thought I was evolved enough to let men get into their junk and not be put off. Turns out, it’s very offputting. It feels like they are constantly analyzing their baggage and then handing it off to me for checking. I can understand sharing things when you’re a bit into a relationship, but it can sure suck life out of the second date.

So. I don’t know what it is I should be looking for anymore. It obviously goes way beyond “perfection on paper”.

#Throwback Thursday: It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

Originally published 11/18/14

 

“There were times in my life when I had one thing to do all day, but I still couldn’t get to it. I gotta go to the post office, but I’d probably have to put on pants. And they’re only open till five. Looks like I’m going to have to do that next week.” —Jim Gaffigan

People think when you’re laid off that you have all the time in the world to accomplish all kinds of cool stuff. And, theoretically, you do. King of Queens’ Carrie thought she was going to read the Great Gatsby and catch up on assembling all of her photo albums. Turns out she mostly just played chopsticks on the piano and watched Dr. Phil.

Yeah. That’s reality.

I have all kinds of ambitious plans, but a few minor roadblocks.

#1 You’re supposed to be looking for a job. Time spent doing anything else seems complacent. You want to be able to tell people you have leads when they ask. And they will. Repeatedly.

#2 Or at least be worrying about looking for a job. You can’t really enjoy anything else you’re doing because you keep remembering you have no job. Images of Hannah and I living in a cardboard box flash through my mind as pages on my mental calendar fly off at an unstoppable pace.

#3 You can’t spend any money. Catching up with friends for lunch, taking care of long put off home improvement projects, working on your crafts, getting ahead on Christmas shopping—all cost money and can hardly be justified when mama ain’t workin.

#4 Turns out exercising isn’t any more fun now than it was when I was employed. I still hate it only now I can feel twice as guilty for not doing it when, clearly, I have plenty of time!

#5 Some days depression = frittering = nothing accomplished = compounding feelings of uselessness. I really wish I could go back to work just so I wouldn’t have to feel bad about not using my time off wisely.

I was going to add the events of a typical day of a laid off person, but eh. I don’t feel like it. Friends is on.

photo by memecenter.com

#ThrowbackThursday: Getting Old is Hell, Obsessing About it is Even Worse

Originally published 6/15/14

I do not know how to accept getting older. I would love to be laid back and carefree about it, but I can’t seem to swing it.

Almost constantly, my thoughts run in a loop. What if no one loves me when I’m old? What will I do when I can’t get around anymore? What if I run out of money? What if I have to go live someplace awful? What if I get cancer/heart disease/have a stroke? But most importantly, WHAT CAN I DO NOW TO ENSURE THOSE THINGS NEVER EVER HAPPEN?

At least that is way in the future. Short term, I focus on vanity. I spend lots of time pondering anti aging products, procedures and tricks. Examining my reflection, trying to determine my body’s next move and how I can head it off at the pass. Am I losing eyelashes? Are my pores bigger? Is my neck getting mushy? “Everyone gets old and gets wrinkles,” says my uncle. Uh huh, everyone but me!, I think to myself.

Not very Growing Toward The Sun-nish, but an impulse that is hard for me to resist.

I asked my sister the other day, “Do you think when you’re old and wrinkled that you just become attracted to old and wrinkled men? Or do you just go along because you have to at that point?” She said, “I think your tastes change. Just like you’re not attracted to 18 years olds anymore.” I don’t know. I might have to poll some seniors.

I pin everything I can find about health and nutrition and all of those anti-aging superfoods. I listen as Dr. Oz (who is really all over the map with his advice, but ok) explains inflammation in the body and how to decrease it. I make it my life’s work to do so.

But still, I feel creaky. My back goes out. My forehead wrinkles. My hair turns gray. My neck starts to…I don’t know what my neck is doing. But I hate it.

#Throwback Thursday: Once Upon A Time, We Went To See Oprah

Originally published 10/28/14….I love remembering this trip…

For as long as I can remember, my mom and I had always wanted to attend an Oprah show taping. So this summer when I saw tickets to her “Live Your Best Life Weekend” go on sale, I had to snag some. Sure they were expensive. Sure it was a 6 hour drive to Atlanta. Sure we’d miss work and school. But hey. It’s Oprah. I booked the adventure.

After we arrived and checked into our fancy Oprah weekend hotel, Hannah and I headed over to O-Town. O-Town was a little neighborhood of tents and booths filled with all things Oprah. Everything from her OWN network to O Magazine to activities promoting all of the Oprah teachings was showcased. We saw a very long line to register for a Wells Fargo VIP package to the show. It was super hot and we were sweating up a storm.

Hannah said, “Let’s register”. I replied, “It’s toooooo hot and the line is toooooo long and the chances of us winning are one in a million.” We declined to enter.

That night Oprah spoke of trials and tribulations she’s experienced in her life. It was so exciting to watch Hannah as Oprah spoke about intention, gratitude, surrender and the golden rule because I could see it all clicking with her. She was the only kid I saw in the entire stadium.

The next morning we dined on fancy Oprah weekend french toast room service and headed off for day two. In a stadium that seats 18,000 people, our seats weren’t the worst and they weren’t the best, but they were ours and we were excited. Suddenly a woman’s voice over the loud speaker.

“And the winner of the Wells Fargo VIP package is Jennifer ***** and guest!”

Huh? A light shined on us and people around us were shouting “Congratulations!” as one of Oprah’s producers whisked us away. We walked the long walk down to the floor and were stopped in front of two seats that said “RESERVED”. They were reserved for us! Necklaces with “VIP” on them were put around our necks. We kept looking at eachother in disbelief. It was like we had won the lottery.

When Oprah came out on stage, we could just about touch her. I could not believe that we had won this contest (we’d somehow entered unbeknownst to me) and were sitting in front of someone I had watched on my TV screen for over 20 years.

When we broke for lunch, the loud speaker lady came on again instructing those with VIP Saturday tags to stay put. Oprah’s producer appeared again and asked us how we were enjoying the seats. I took that opportunity to ask him what we were waiting on. He pointed us in the direction of a small group of people who were heading upstairs and told us to follow. By the time we caught up with them, the group of people were standing at the elevators waiting for the next one to arrive.

Everyone was quiet as I asked the lady next to us, “Where we were going?”

She replied, “To meet Oprah!”

“Get out!” I exclaimed not fully believing her.

The elevator transported us upstairs and behind a velvet curtain was a beautiful world of yummy buffet food, free drinks and beautiful centerpieces on white linen table cloths. After we ate and took many pictures of ourselves, it was time to get pictures with Oprah.

As our turn came up, one of the producers asked me if we were the mom and daughter who won the VIP package. I said yes as she relayed the info to Oprah. Hannah walked up to her first and said, “Thank you for inspiring me” to which Oprah replied, “Awwwww thank you for inspiring me” and gave her a big hug. They let us each have a photo alone and then one with the three of us. I couldn’t even think of a single thing to say.

As we walked around the stadium, it was like we were famous. Everywhere we went people were congratulating us. On the way to the car, a lady yelled across the parking lot, “Are you the mom and daughter who won the VIP tickets?” Yep, that’s us. And life is amazing.

#Throwback Thursday: Where Perfectionism Exists, Shame is Always Lurking

Originally published 5/19/14

My good friend and I were taking our lunchtime stroll when I mentioned how my recent 3 week cough had gotten me to the point where if I coughed too long and hard—I peed a little. What’s that about, I pondered, since I had a C-section birth. Is it just typical aging? I’m only 40!

“They say we are supposed to be doing those kegel things,” my friend noted.

“Yeah, in the car at red lights or whatever,” I said, “I never remember to do those things.” Why can’t I remember to do things, I thought silently.

My friend sighed and unknowingly answered, “There are just too many things to do!”

I agree. There are too many things to do. And it’s pretty overwhelming when you insist on trying to do all of them. I’m in awe that we even try.

Recycle or prepare to see your face on the wall of awful citizens.
Don’t use too much electricity and get those green lightbulbs, too.
Don’t eat too much sugar. Or carbs. Or meat. Or dairy. Or fat.
Eggs will ruin your life. Oh nevermind, eggs are awesome.
Drink tea but not coffee..oh wait coffee adds years to your life..who knew.
Walk 5 minutes every hour or come to terms with an early death.
Use sunscreen and make sure it has SUV protection..oh I mean UVA.
Get teacher gifts but no more apple items for pete’s sake.
Moisturize. Exfoliate. Condition. Floss.
Use glass, not plastic everyone knows plastic contains BPA.
Eat organic. You know, if you want to live and all.
Keep your photos archived, backed up and printed if you want to be a good mom.
Get your oil changed every 3000 miles ok how about every 5000.
Do your breast exams or it will be your fault when you get cancer.
Change your air filter do you want your kid to get asthma?
Clip the cat’s nails or you’re going to suffer the consequences.
Lift weights because you know you lose muscle mass every year after 40.
Read or stay completely ignorant.
Don’t watch too much TV because then you’re just wasting your life.
Keep up your gratitude journal because people who journal have happier lives.
Back up your files and if you don’t, your hard drive will definitely go bad.
Update your iOS if you want to be in the know.
Rotate your tires or you’ll have no one to blame but yourself for that blowout.
Cut the grass or the neighbors will think you’re bad lazy people.
Take these vitamins but not these or these, but yes these, no not those, these.
Register for PTA but only if you’re a good parent.
Remember birthdays or just be a thoughtless sucky person.
Meditate or just have that heart attack instead.
Drink 8 glasses of water and no diet soda doesn’t count.
Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.

“You don’t have to do all of those things.” —People who live what must be a wonderful and peaceful existence.

Yeah. But.

Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment and blame.” —Brené Brown

Nailed it! That’s exactly how I operate.

I have often been criticized for being bossy, uptight and wanting things “just so”. Part of that I attribute to a bit of a roller coaster home life. I had no control then so, in order for me to feel ok as an adult, I need to have as much control as possible now.

But the other part, I had not considered. The not wanting to be judged. Not wanting anyone to tell me I messed up. Not wanting to look like I don’t have a handle on things. Because if I have a handle on things, then that means I am worthy and I am good enough for people to want me around. I am worth spending of their time and energy.

I know I am not alone in these feelings.

How many of us think:
If I don’t lose this last 20lbs, I am clearly not datable. If I don’t get these photo albums made, I won’t have any proof that I love my child. If I don’t remember a to ask my friend about their surgery, I am a self involved loser. If I forget to get back to a colleague, clearly I am incapable of handling my job. If I have a car wreck, it must mean I am a half wit. If I don’t play that game with my child, I am a terrible parent.

Brené talks about the usual “I am enough” type things, but what she says about permission slips caught my attention. She said a lot times, in order to stop beating herself up about things, she has to write permission slips for herself. I give myself permission to _______________.

I give myself permission to:
Be lazy.
Cry.
Take a break.
Let things go.
Be too tired to finish.
Not read a book.
Watch trash TV.
Slip up and yell.
Forget things.
Not be in the mood to deal with certain things all the time.
Let go of guilt.
Be ok with knowing I did my best.
Just get by sometimes.
Be silly.
Not sweat the small stuff.
Complain.

We are supposed to live in the moment. But plan for our future. And also learn from our past. Let’s give ourselves permission to do all or none of these things any time we damn well please.

#ThrowbackThursday: Online Dating is a Pointless Endeavor With No End in Sight

Originally published 5/19/14
“Me. You. Tonight.”

Oh brother.

I sign in for 1 month. I sign off for 1 month. I sign in for 1 month. I sign off for 1 month. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s a vicious cycle that begins with optimism and ends in loss of all faith in humanity.

Once you sign up, you’re immediately engulfed by a sea of profiles. None of which tell you anything. All blend together.

I love to laugh. Who doesn’t? I can go from jeans to dress up. I ponder if there are any men out there who stomp their foot and refuse to take off their jeans. I enjoy snowboarding, water skiing, rock climbing, surfing, scuba, biking, skydiving… Ok I’m already exhausted.

You begin to realize that online dating is both helpful and harmful. Advantages: quantity. Disadvantages: quantity. It’s way too easy to pass by an unflattering photo. Maybe one thing in their “About Me” turns you off. They don’t have this thing or that thing. And even though I am aware that this is a jackass way to be, I can’t seem to stop myself. I see one comment or observe one attribute or hobby and then start making up this whole story about that person.

Likes sports. I bet his whole life is sports and I do not want every Sunday swallowed up by football. Works in IT. I bet he has no sense of humor and is a huge know-it-all. Spend most of my time hunting and fishing. His politics are probably a nightmare. Love motorcycles. He couldn’t possibly be family oriented.

I try to look for people whose profiles show effort, like mindedness and a sense of humor. I’m honest in mine and forthright about the fact that I have a daughter. Still, once I find someone appealing, the invitations I get to meet are usually incredibly last minute.

Me: I’m free Wednesday.
Him: I have to move my kayak.
Me: Ok
Him: Tell you what…I’ll text you after I move my kayak and we’ll see if that leaves us time to meet up after.

Thanks for squeezing me in (maybe) and making me feel soooo special. And like I have nothing else to do but wait around for kayak movers. Pass.

So we all hang in a little bit longer…just in case…someone might have their kayak already moved and be able to plan a date…and maybe make that connection that will pave our way out of the world of online dating.

Until then, we keep growing toward the sun with our valiant efforts and never ending faith, open to…whatever happens.

photo credit: Cab over water via photopin (license)