Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Life hacker has collected all the tools, done very little hacking

Have you tried tapping? Apple cider vinegar? The one perfect exercise, which according to some click-bait health site, is squats? The abs challenge? Oh, everyone else is doing green juice and planks, silly me.

Topiary cats are all the rage. 

I've just been realizing that in my zeal to collect all the tools, I'm not really using any of them. Or, maybe I'm just using them ineffectively, and maybe even for the wrong job. Squats will not reform my pathetic finances, even though I had a pretty fantastic ass for a month or so there. But
apple cider vinegar did kind of attract some clicks to this blog, for some (Dr. Oz tag!) reason. 

But it's so hard to focus on just one project! And so many of these "hacks" are about removing parts of your life (perhaps they're for literally hacking, like a machete!) that are maybe a little awkward, but not exactly unsightly. I think that I'm a little more motivated by adding things. (Today's cockamamie idea: sew my own wardrobe using Built By Wendy book. Still considering this one....)

I have been doing the Anna Kunnecke's Queen Sweep for a little more than 2 months though. And I'm really impressed by it. She offered it for free, and I am the lucky girl that won even more free Mastery session. I love her outlook and approach on these things (time, money, beauty, - the important stuff). Another sign that it was destiny - she loves peonies. I love peonies, which if you are typing really fast, comes out people! And that means something, right? Even though free things can be taken for granted, I am not wasting THIS opportunity.

So I was kind of shocked to realize that some of my tools are contradictory. You can't use a hammer and drill at the same time, you know? Anna was able to talk me down from the toolbox, and convinced me that I could pick which tool I liked, using my own criteria (most beautiful and badass? fun and useful?) AND IT WOULD BE FINE TO NOT USE ALL THE TOOLS AT ONCE.

Wow wow wow wow.

For example, of all the home de-cluttering programs that I am aware of, I get to pick the one I think is the most useful and badass? (That would be most of UFYH, by the way.) I can still check out new ideas, but I don't need to keep them?

The answer is yes. Always the best answer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

No worries, vs. NO, worries!

I was puzzled when I learned that the protagonist of the Fault in Our Stars (from here on, known as FIOS, just like all the cool blogs) has the cancer that I had. Except that it spread to her lungs. And she's a teenager. And she dies (I think. I haven't read the book or seen the movie, sorry). So, that's nothing like me, in every way. Right? Less than 2% of all thyroid cancers are in persons less than 18 years of age. And even then, Stages I and II of most types of thyroid cancer have a 100% 5 year survival rate (somewhat obvious, but this is the term for the rate of patients still alive 5 years later). Some literature even suggest that "cancer" is kind of an overstatement. It's usually a growth, which may or may not metastasize.

I'm only 4 years out, so maybe I shouldn't be so confident.

I have also been fascinated with the debate about mammography guidelines, for similar reasons. Here's another cancer that terrifies women, despite the fact there are much more likely ways to die. Annual screening keeps it on our radar, though, even when we have no risk factors.

So basically, we need to remain terrified because THEY (the medical industrial complex, where I have spent my entire career) only know how to diagnose cancer. They don't really know how to prevent it, and sometimes they don't even know how to look for it, nor do they know exactly how to stop it. But they know how to diagnose it. Because it's not cancer until someone codes it.

I like to be an obedient patient, and I've got insurance, so why not follow all the recommendations? I went for my annual physical, like a good girl. I confidently informed my physician that I didn't use the mammography order for last year because I don't have any risk factors. She did not agree or disagree, but gave me another order. My blood work came back right in the recommended ranges, woo hoo! So I thought I owed her the compliance.

I went to the appointment, put on the thin cloth robe, and followed the technologist's directions. She got it in two shots per breast (which might have been my first clue. Other times there have been multiple attempts.) I went in to work, barely 30 minutes past my usual start time.

The following day, I got THAT call. The woman on the phone emphasized that they do several call-backs every day, so it's not necessarily anything to be concerned about. Oh, and the radiologist recommended a tomosynthesis (new procedure, not necessarily reimbursed by insurance, 3-d images versus 2-d, from what I can google). That was a little disconcerting.

So I'm back in cancer terror. I've spent the last 24 hours wondering, would I be more concerned about an area of concern, or an all-clear? What if they want to biopsy? What if they find something, and remove parts of my body and try to poison the rest and it's all because they don't want to watch it forever? What if they don't see anything? What if I get hit by a Cadillac in the parking ramp? I was totally plotting on living until I was 90, or out of money, or both.

Because we are all going to die, eventually. When I listen to my gut, it says, no biggie sis, relax, which is what it said when I went through the thyroid terror, so I no longer trust it. Or I should have trusted it all along?

I am going to try to trust it. This is the time to think of Shantideva, and remember, "If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?"

Sunday, June 15, 2014

10 Things I Learned from my Dad.

1. You can learn anything and everything from a book.
2. We are not lost. We are right here. 
3. Only boring people are bored. (This was especially infuriating to hear when I was a pre-teen, but it's true.)
4. There's no reason to commit to only one instrument (or in my case, hobby).
5. But there is true love. And you should hold out for it, but if it's not right there, it's okay.
6. If you say no to opportunities, they will go away. So always say yes. Just in case. (I didn't say all this advice as useful....)
7. Learn some good jokes, so you can tell them over and over to perfect them over time. If you forget the punch line, sometimes you can remember it if you just start telling the joke anyway. If not, time to make up a new punchline! Funny voices are always helpful. 
8. Take care of the wood, and it will last forever. 
9. If you're going to do it, you might as well do it right. 
10. Cooking is fun. But McDonald's is handy, too. 

These might not be what he intended for me to learn, but that's I heard / observed / absorbed. 

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Earliest memory of street harassment: I was probably 10. I had just bought from the neighbor's yard sale a sparkly glass heart necklace, and my mom needed me to run to the grocery store. Could this be the best day of my life? I had on kelly green scoop neck t-shirt and a floral print skirt (I wore skirts every day of childhood unless I had to go to Girl Scouts camp until the mean girls of 7th grade bullied it out of me.) I put on my sparkly necklace and walked down the driveway. The store was maybe 2 blocks away.

I much prefer wolf birthday horns to wolf whistles. 

I was cutting a diagonal across the huge parking lot of the grocery store. My necklace was dazzling in the sunlight, shooting prisms to the pavement. I heard a man yelling, and assumed it must be because of my amazing necklace. I entered the store, feeling responsible and helpful and like a good girl, the best daughter that I could be. I got the milk. I put the change inside the paper bag.

As I retraced my steps across the parking lot, the man was still yelling. I started to feel a little scared. I couldn't really hear what he was saying, because he was far away. But he was heading towards me, and I would have to drastically change my very short route to get away from him.

So I stayed on target. He walked right up to me, and told me horrible things about my chest. I didn't look at him, but I said no. He didn't have a car, didn't offer me candy, so my school training was useless. I kept walking. I crossed the street, and he followed me. I looked into the passing cars for help, started to run a little. He got tired of yelling, or something, and stood on the sidewalk while I ran towards home.

I was crying when I brought the milk into the kitchen. Should I remind you I was 10 years old? I was pretty sure I had done something wrong, perhaps by wearing such a pretty necklace. I didn't want to tell my mom what the man said. I should not have gone by myself, or should not have been so proud, or should have run the whole way. I was the worst daughter.

And this has continued through most of my life. It was worse when I was a young woman. I am going to hope it's because I look less harassable now, but realistically I probably no longer look as much like the fantasy (young, busty, easily intimidated). But highlights (or rather, low points) include being harassed while jogging (so much so that after one particularly harrowing incident I didn't run again for 10 years), and having a man in a car nearly run me over to cut off my path, so he could tell me how good looking I was. (I still see that man at the bar. I am hoping that I remember it wrong, that he's a separate creepy starer, but it's a pretty small town. I am pretty sure it's the same guy, and I continue keep my distance.)

Until mass murder, it somehow never occurred to me that this was wrong, nor did I realize that there were men that didn't believe these things happen. It's just the way things work. Right? Do I prefer it this way? Oh, fuck no. I would much rather be able to move around town as needed, without consideration for time of day or looking "too good". Wouldn't it be great to be able to banter with strangers?

But no. That is not the way it works right now. I will, and would recommend that you do too, continue to judge each situation as it occurs. I am told the gut always knows, but I haven't ever been successful in using it in a useful fashion. I always remember to notice after the fact, oh, that didn't seem right.

I think that maybe the real danger here is the broad paintbrush, and the misguided painters that use them. It's the stereotype hammer, squashing all nails indiscriminately. It's not all all men, or all gun owners or all the mentally ill, or just the kids with Asperger's, or the politicians, that are the problem or solution. It's realizing that you can't paint them with the same broad brush, and you have to pay attention and be lucky in knowing when to defend and when to withdraw.

I do know we have to adjust the systems that make undesirable behavior easy. I believe that's called, society? I think it's important that so many women have been able to tell their stories and illuminate the crazy framework. We can't just keep telling the victim story, though. So am I going to encourage younger women to stand up for themselves, and we will always decline the pick-up artist, and dance wherever and whenever we want.