Friday, July 25, 2014

"Everybody knows new mothers are exhibitionists..."

A friend from high school recently posted this to Facebook. 
I'm really sorry if I offend anyone with this post, but it's been showing up on my Facebook feed more and more lately and I feel like I'm entitled to my own opinion... If it isn't polite to show your breasts in public without kids, why do the rules change once Kids come into the picture? It still makes people uncomfortable. Shouldn't some things stay private and sacred? I believe in evolution and progress too, but some things should remain intimate and private. Again, I'm EXTREMELY sorry if I offend anyone, but it keeps popping up on my feed and it's hard to avoid. Just thought I could speak freely about my own thoughts.
I'm not going to lie, upon reading this I found myself, quite literally, seething. I debated ignoring the ignorance. I debated throwing around brilliant videos or articles on the subject. I debated a string of profanities. I debated listing a million reasons why she was wrong. Instead, I let my itchy fingers take to the keyboard and responded.

" I personally don’t think there’s anything private and sacred about eating. Sure, ideally, I like to have my meals at an “appropriate” table, but often while I’m on-the-go, I’m hungry and I still have to eat. So sometimes, I snack on the bus, while I’m at the mall, or I may even stop on a park bench and grab a bite. 
I don’t mean to offend anyone for eating outside my dining room. I don’t wave my sandwich around and announce it to the world. I’m generally pretty quiet and discrete about it; often people aren't even aware I'm eating. I’m sure no one else cares that I am anyway (or at least they shouldn’t…it has absolutely nothing to do with them). 
I have heard blankets are a perfect solution for making everyone else comfortable with me eating. Unfortunately, I tried that last July. The humidex was 37. I nearly suffocated. My hair was a mess. I got lettuce everywhere, and I looked like I had gotten in a tussle with a broad-snouted alligator. 
I do find it frustrating sometimes, though, when friends (who quite often participate in disgusting [IMO] PUBLIC eating competitions nonetheless!) are the ones who are very quick to tell me it’s inappropriate to eat in public, when I’m actually hungry. That’s what you’re supposed to do, isn’t it? It’s not like I’m doing it just for fun or the amusement of others; it’s the very core of why we even have hunger, no?  
And don’t get me started on the hypocrisy of people constantly posting those damn pictures of their FOOD (or other people’s food!), yet turn around and become furious when pictures are posted of people actually eating by themselves or with some girlfriends (do they not realize that’s what food is actually FOR?). A discrete picture of me in the act of eating lunch actually offends them; yet, they have no issue plastering their newsfeed with pictures of food-filled blankets at the beach, appetizers waving around at the bar, or even them with beautifully crafted sandwiches lazing around on a Sunday afternoon enjoying some sunshine. 
Now, make no mistake, I’m no militant eater’s rights activist. I’m not a card-carrying member of the Lunching Ladies League. But I do believe in the right of all humans to eat wherever they want, whenever they want, whenever they’re hungry."
I managed to resist posting a link to this video.



ETA:
Interestingly, there were numerous responses; some uneducated and asinine (one mutual friend, A NURSE NONETHELESS, commented basically equating breastfeeding in public with having sex in public). Many shared the same views as me. Others were a little more vocally aggressive. Others where somewhere in between. I went back to add a last comment, but it seems she deleted the thread. I'm not sure whether I'm thankful, or sad it won't be there for anyone else's education. My final comment was going to be:

"The two cases in the original post are exactly that, two cases. Breasts in public without a child, and breasts in public with a child are two different circumstances. You cannot say that if something is wrong in circumstance A, it is also necessarily wrong in circumstance B.  Bearing your breasts to feed a child is not targeted at other people, whereas bearing your breasts to show off your breasts is specifically targeted at other people. These are different circumstances.

Oh, and the laws say that public nudity is only illegal for a sexual purpose, which is why breastfeeding in public has never been illegal.
 
Oh, and the laws say that public nudity is only illegal for a sexual purpose, which is why breastfeeding in public has never been illegal. When you go into a public forum or a public place you go into a space that includes the complete spectrum of everything that is a part of the wider human community. If you wish to shelter yourself from parts of that wider community, it is up to you to leave that space. You cannot change someone else's (legal) presentation in a public forum. The only person you can change is yourself. "


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Make your meal count.


Today is McHappy Day and $1 from every Happy Meal, Big Mac, or hot beverage goes to support the Ronald McDonald House.
During our two month stay at the IWK we spent a lot of time in the Ronald McDonald Room – whether to escape the stress and emotional time of the NICU, empathize with other parents, or eat yummy baked goods and meals provided by volunteers (all free to the families with children staying at the IWK). We spent additional time there with NJ during his stay for surgery in November of last year.
PLEASE support this home away from home - I can appreciate it isn't the healthiest choice, but their coffee is great. Most of all - it's a great cause. We benefited greatly from this organization and so did many of our friends.

Friday, May 2, 2014

“To insure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.” W.Londen

About a month ago I committed myself to healthier eating and making smarter food and lifestyle choices. Not neurotically. I'd gotten to that point of being uncomfortable in your own skin. I'm lucky that discomfort can be alleviated with a little effort on my part.

I'm very, very grateful that a local hotel (across the street from my work nonetheless) is allowing me to use their gym...for FREE. This allows me to be able to increase my active minutes (more on those later) during the day (when I'm otherwise sitting at a desk from 8-4). Don't get me wrong. I hate the gym. I loathe every moment. I hate going. I internally whine during it. I push and taunt myself through the entire thing. The only satisfaction I get is when I'm DONE and exiting the building. But I know it's good for me. I know it's nice to be able to walk further than the refrigerator without getting winded.

Almost two weeks ago I discovered a new gadget - the FitBit Flex. It's a band you wear on your arm and it tracks your steps, kilometres, calories burned, active minutes, and sleep. You can get it in a bunch of fun colours. Of course I'm painfully practical and got black. You leave it on 24/7. Bonus? It synchs with myfitnesspal and gives you a recommended caloric intake based on your up-to-date activity for the day and your goals. The preset goal it gives you is 10,000 steps a day. Which is challenging for anyone with an 8-4 desk job. But, I've been hitting and exceeding the mark. Sometimes that means at 10 pm I'm doing laps around the inside of my house. But hey, motivation is motivation. So far I love it. I love the data, I love the accountability, but mostly I love the motivation.

I do need to crack down on meal-planning. My husband hates meal planning with the logic of "What if I don't FEEL like having fajitas on Wednesday." So, I usually plan without him. I need to make healthy living easy and meal planning and prep for me is a big part of that. I love planning. I love spreadsheets. I love organized anything. And I hate chaos. This includes the chaos that ensues when we rush home after a full day at work and a ravenous two-year old just wants time with Mama (and perhaps a full belly!), but Mama has to figure out WTF we are going to eat for supper. And prep it. And wait for it to cook. Just so you know, two-year olds are not patient. So planning and prep saves my sanity.

What are YOUR favourite guaranteed-to-love-it healthy recipes?

Oh, and how many steps is a piece of birthday cake?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Strike 1

A local nurse strike is filling the news today. NSGEU (Local 97) Nurses were in contract negotiations and the sticking point were patient-ratios; neither side would bend on the issue. So, after passing essential service work legislation, Nurses are participating in an illegal strike. Kudos, I say. I have a friend participating in the strike. She's a charge nurse for the ER in our city; the largest level 1 trauma centre east of Montreal. She is, understandably, passionate about advocating for patient safety and keeping the ratio issue on the table. She is also gutted at the notion of striking, but does so with a whole heart and a commitment to ensuring patient safety is not compromised. I asked how I could help. She directed me to write. So I furiously wrote (I didn't edit, so remove your grammar judging hat).

April 1, 2014

Please include the following as a written statement for Law Amendments: 

In March 2012 my son decided to unexpectedly arrive ten weeks early. We spent two months at the IWK in the NICU. While in NICU 1, there is one nurse for one baby. At the time, it boggled my mind that my little 2.5lb boy had one nurse designated to watch HIM and him alone. But my son, and all of the other children in NICU1, were in for the fight of their lives. Some of the little fighters were not so lucky. But those who were lucky enough to move on to NICU 2 did so because of the constant care; their nurse literally watched over them and fought for them just as hard (if not harder) than I did as a mom.

As we progressed through the NICU, ratios climbed. Patients became less critical and with that came increased workloads. As parents, we felt the shift immediately. One nurse was now responsible for two or three babies. When their colleague went on a break, they were responsible for double that. It was during these regular breaks that my heart would race and I would be on high alert. Bells and alarms would sound simultaneously. Babies would have apneas and need stimulation to restart their breathing.  I’ve seen babies turn blue. Regular medications needed to be dispensed. Beds needed to be changed. Babies needed to be changed, fed every three hours, bathed. Not to mention the constant barrage of questions from worried parents. And I’m certain that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve seen nurses juggle it all with expert skill and composure.

While I appreciate the IWK nurses are not affected (today!) by this strike, the same sentiment extends to all corners of healthcare - I cannot fathom ratios being compromised. If my son did not have the constant care he received, he literally might not be here. I know the same holds true for the remainder of the hospital and care we all receive. This isn’t a casino where the guest service agent is responsible for helping to make your stay more enjoyable. These are nurses and care that is keeping the people in our lives ALIVE.  Patient ratios are worth standing up for; they are quite literally the difference between life and death. I commend the NSGEU for being outspoken advocates for patient safety and demanding an adequate standard of care. Taking away their right to collecting bargaining to advocate for that safety is certainly not appropriate or cooperative action.  

My friend's piece she submitted to the paper also illustrates the importance of ratios and how that translates to the care we receive. Why we sometimes have to wait 9 hours in an ER when there are beds available. Why some patients are sitting on a stretcher in the hallway for hours. 

It is quite amazing there aren't more deaths, truthfully, when you consider all they are juggling and the resources and support that keeps being taken away. You can periodically run on burnout, but just because it CAN be done, doesn't mean it should be the new normal. The expectation should not be that nurses perpetually have to work at 150% because they are terrified someone is going to be missed and potentially die on their watch. Demanding that intensity of work is a recipe and guarantee for mistakes and misses. 

Ultimately, the argument against keeping the ratios on the table is the cost to do so; the cost of hiring more nurses and keeping the staffing levels where they SHOULD be. Of course the total cost is drastically inflated for argument sake. 

Interestingly enough, our healthcare system is about to get hit HARD. The baby boombers who all hit the education system and created the need for additional schools in the 60s/70s and the shortage of jobs in the 80s are now just STARTING to stress the healthcare system. With an ageing population that are living longer than ever before, they are entering the system with a MUCH more complex care plan. With an onslaught of retirements and the increased demand for services for the next 20-30 years, the healthcare system cannot afford to alienate and put unrealistic expectations on staff...therefore putting everyone at great risk.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Today, I needed this.

Today, I needed this.

Like every day, today I opened up Facebook. Like every day it was flooded with updates and shares and pictures with inspirational sayings. Occasionally something catches my eye and I'll open it. Sometimes it is a post in the midst of becoming viral. I'll see it a million times in the coming days. Sometimes it's a story I've seen periodically posted and after the 1,000 post, I finally click.

This morning, with a death grip on my coffee, I clicked.

Today, I needed this.

My husband has been sailing. A lot. And not a standard sail where he is gone for a couple of months. Since November, essentially, he has been gone Monday-Friday. Home on the weekends (for the most part). A couple of longer stretches where he was home for a little while. It's very unpredictable. I get it; he's in the Navy. It's what he signed up for. Sailing is as much a part of our lives as grocery shopping is for most families.

Shorter unpredictable sails are harder than the long ones. It's constant disruption. And surprisingly for some, the shorter sails are much, much more trying on a relationship. There is a light at the end of our current short-sail tunnel; he is preparing for an upcoming long sail. A very long eight-month sail. I'm equal parts preparing and in denial about this impending sail, but I know (despite how prepared I will be!) it will come on us like a freight train.

I'm very fortunate that my husband is an involved dad and partner; he pulls more than his fair share around the house. I do not do laundry. Period. I do not touch the floors in our home. Or the garbage. Or the green bin. He does bath time. And he builds a killer block-tower and makes a mean lasagna. And that's wonderful. But it does mean that when he's away...it's a bit more of a shock to our house. It's a LOT more on my plate. The adjustment is exhausting. I'm it. I'm on 24/7. Our closest family member is four hours away. The bulk of our family is an ocean away in another province. There is no one for me to call at 3 am if the shit hits the proverbial fan. I mean, there are friends, SURE, but I'm a little reticent to call my fellow mommy friends at 3 am when they have lives and families of their own. I manage to figure it all out along the way. 

My son will turn two in a week. Every night usually around 330 am he will wake and ends up in my bed. I'm too tired to fight at 3 am and I have to get up at 6 and head to work for the day. And function. Like a normal human being. Like many parents, I'm no stranger to waking up with feet in my face or almost falling off the bed because of toddler-sprawl. But somehow, when you wake up at 6 am to a grinning almost-two-year-old who grabs your face in his hands and plants the sweetest kiss on your nose, the 3 am wake-up call is almost forgiveable.

I don't feel like my experiences or circumstances are any more difficult than anyone else's. Hard is hard. Tired is tired. I AM awesome. Some days I'm not-so-awesome.

Today, I needed this.


to the tired mom

Rachael M. Martin

Last night my 4-year-old decided to sleep next to me.
He slept amazing.


I didn't sleep. Sleeping with a 4-year-old is like sleeping next to the hands of a clock. As the night wore on I was inevitably met with feet in my face then hands and then back to feet.
I woke tired. More than tired. I woke wondering why I don't have my red mini Keurig set up in my room waiting with a mug underneath and all I have to do is hit brew.
He woke up happy.
I love you mommy.
He had no idea how tired I really was or how my back was sore or how I really just wanted to sleep for five more minutes -- he just was grateful to see me.
And you?
Are you a tired mom?
Are you waking up wishing for more hours in the day? Are you pushing yourself to limits that you didn't have? Working? Cleaning? Mothering? Wondering? Dealing with kids that are fighting over whose turn it is to play Club Penguin on the computer? (or maybe that's just me) Are you wondering whether what you're doing every day makes a difference? Are you tired of the same routine?
Sometimes being a mom means simply being tired.
Sometimes being a mom means feeling a bit lonely. Like no one else notices what we're doing. After all, no one would know that I had maybe a solid 42.4 minute chunk of sleep last night except that I wrote about it. Well, the gals at Starbucks might know when I come in and ask for a venti caramel macchiato. (Be ready, my Barista friends.)
Motherhood is so often this giving of self in our homes that no one sees. We work. We make macaroni and cheese and forget to take the noodles off and so they become mushy. We pick up Little Tikes toys in the backyard again and again and wonder why we have so much plastic. We fold frayed towels, match socks, call doctors, wash walls that have handprints on them, wash sticky faces, help with long division (is it ever easy for any child?), clean the kitchen, wipe down the microwave after our 9-year-old decided to zap something for too long, we go to work, come home from work, we work at home, we mother all day, we do whatever that each of our stories are, and then we go to bed.

Yeah, we could argue that it's just motherhood. And it's just what moms have had to do forever.
You know what? We have. Since the beginning of time moms have had to get up, had to deal with kid issues, money issues, teaching issues, health issues, and so on.
But, just because we've always had to do something doesn't mean it doesn't need to be celebrated and honored. Motherhood, parenthood, they're amazing things. It's not just roses and sunshine and skipping though the meadows holding hands. It's real hard stuff. Stuff that doesn't seem like it will push us to our limits and yet it does. Stuff that gives us great joy and puts a smile on our face and an hour later has us wondering why in the world the 4-year-old is making us want to pull our hair out.
We go into the world and do our jobs and smile at the other preschool moms and order our lattes and drive down the interstate and get groceries and we smile.
You're not alone. Do you hear me?
You. are. not. alone.
The other moms in preschool, at the grocery store, at work, at school, at co-op classes, at the doctor's office, at where ever you may be, well chances are that they might feel tired as well. Wondering about all this motherhood stuff. Yet, still giving of self for those kids that you love.

So today, today, I stand up and salute you the tired, and yet amazing, mom. You, the mom with no sleep. You, the mom who needs encouragement. You, the mom who works and works and works for her family and it feels like no one notices. You, the mom with those three kids under 5 who never gets a break. You, the mom with the newborn who never gets sleep. You, the mom staying up late waiting for the teen to come home. You, the mom. Plain and simple. You, the mom.

Motherhood is a brave journey. It's always been this brave thing to raise another independent, pushing the limits, melt your heart at night, love them forever even when they drive you crazy, human.
That's what you're doing. Even on those tired days.
You. The amazing, brave, empowered, no sleep yet fighting, awesome, cool, mom.
Who needs sleep anyway, right? (Oh yeah, and get that extra shot at Starbucks.)


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

This is what 30 weeks looks like.

Someone I know recently had a friend who was only 30 weeks into a pregnancy (and knowingly high risk for preterm labour) trying to encourage labour and wishing her baby would arrive. Obviously someone grossly ignorant and immature. But it made me angry. And, when I'm angry I write. I just came across what I wrote in response...

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Tell your friend this is what 30 weeks looks like.  30 weeks is two months (if you're lucky!) living in a NICU cubicle that barely has enough room for a chair. It's not eating for days on end. It's perpetual crying and worrying. It's watching your baby stop breathing and hoping they start again. Watching nurses start a central line in their head because their little arms and feet are too tiny to find another vein. It’s waiting with baited breath every night to see how many grams they’ve gained or lost; celebrating every gram gained and mourning every one lost. 

It’s being terrified to hold your own baby. Scared of unhooking a wire or misplacing a tube. It’s watching your partner gently lift your tiny bundle with four fingers so the nurse can change the bedding underneath. It`s a baby diaper that is smaller than any cell phone you`ve owned. Fingers that can`t quite wrap around your pinky finger, but have strangulated your heart. It’s watching babies around you go home and feeling your heart both swell with excitement and turn green with envy. It`s sometimes watching parents learn their baby will never go home. 

Thirty weeks doesn’t end on discharge. It follows you home. It makes you twitch and frantically look for your baby when the microwave alarms. You are perpetually terrified. Of apneas. Hernias. Asthma. Heart conditions. Cystic Fibrosis. Blindness. Intestine development. Cardiac disorders. Mobility. Cognitive development. Motor development. Colds. Influenza. Pneumonia. 

The discomfort of pregnancy does not compare to the gut wrenching, life-changing reality of a thirty week baby. Any mom of a premature baby would happily take on stretch marks and hemorrhoids for full term pregnancy. Any mom wishing away the discomforts of a 30 week pregnancy should go and spend a day, an hour, or five minutes in a NICU and ask if they still wish their baby would come early.

As we near NJ's second birthday, I still find it emotionally hard to think about our NICU days. He's a busy, happy, healthy boy now, but I can still smell the antiseptic handwash

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"I show up. I listen. I try to laugh." - A. Quindlen

Excuse me while I blow the dust off my keyboard.

I wish I could offer an inspiring story of blog-neglect because I was off making change in this beautiful world.  I’m happy my excuse isn’t a sad story of devastation and shitty circumstances. Like so many of you, I’ve been knee-deep in…life. Being a mom. Being a friend. Being a wife. A sister. Daughter. Niece. Making efforts to be present and give my time, love, and energy to those in my inner circle.

Sure, we’ve had shittiness.  I’ve had many nights (and a few mornings!) of sobbing in my bathroom. But it’s all relative. In the grand scheme of things, I’m pretty fucking lucky and life has been pretty fucking awesome.

My pint-sized boy wonder is nearing his SECOND birthday.  Boggles the mind. NJ will be my one and only little. I feel like this decision has made me a more patient parent. Any stage I’m going through is literally the only time I’ll be going through it. Don’t get me wrong, I still get frustrated and tired and end-of-my-rope-ish. I wrestle with being good mediocre at everything – wife, mom, employee, friend. 

Knowing he is the one-and-only slows me down in a stop-and-smell-the-flowers kind of way. We laze in our pyjamas. I let him walk at the grocery store. Stickers periodically cover my back door window. We sit and play with pots and pans when I’m supposed to be getting supper.  I only momentarily seethe when I get my fifth night wake-up at 3am. I scoop him up and sometimes we fall asleep in the comfy red chair next to his crib. I’ll wake at 430. Hoist him over my shoulder and snuggle him in our bed until we have to start our day. I’m tired 90% of the time. But I try not to whine about it. He’s a great reason for a sixth cup of coffee during the day.

january life notes

- Blizzard warnings give me anxiety more than anything in my life right now (my husband is currently in the middle of the Atlantic). It would be fine if I didn’t have to actually DRIVE in them.  I am crippled by fear I will get stuck at the office unable to pick up NJ. Or stuck and stranded in a snowbank WITH NJ. Or hit by another vehicle. OR…god help us all STUCK AT HOME AND UNABLE TO GET TO WORK. I don’t actually mind the latter, but despite the fact it is easy for me to work from home, I am overwhelmed with guilt for not attempting to try to get to work.  My boss HATES when anyone is not at work (whether for legitimate reason or not-so-legitimate reasons. SHE doesn’t have a commute in the am (she lives 5 minutes from the office). So, yes, enter severe anxiety when we get shitty (driving) weather. We live in Atlantic Canada. This should be expected and not cause me eczema flair-ups and canker sore outbreaks.

- Three years ago on January 20th A and I started a lifestyle reboot. Going to the gym every.single.day. and eating very healthy. I LOVED it. I mean, I hated the gym, but LOVED how I felt. By May of that year I had lost over 45lbs. It was awesome. By August, I was pregnant.

I’ve been struggling to get back to a more active and healthy lifestyle. I managed to pull the reins back in on my eating in the fall. I went a little astray during the holidays and ultimately decided to reboot on my previously successful date of January 20th. I’m trying to figure out how to realistically fit-in the activity portion of the equation. But I’m back in full force on myfitnesspal. I love meal planning. Admittedly, I like planning ANYTHING.

- I will likely do a more elaborate post on this, but my friend, Natalie, has had somewhat of a life refocus. A single (significant) loss shook her world in 2013. She has refocused 2014 on changing the world; one small random-act-of-kindness at a time. She has fully committed to making her little corner of the map a little more thoughtful and positive. Her commitment to this “be the change” initiative is inspiring and has certainly made me much more conscious of my attitude, thoughtfulness, and energy. I love having people in my life that inspire and encourage me to be a better person. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

"You'll get your turn in the center ring. You can count on that."

A friend of mine recently had the very unexpected passing of her father. A mutual acquaintance decided to somehow turn this around and make it about her. Bizarre.

However, it did immediately remind me of the Ring Theory. I'll admit, I'm not perfect (shock!) and likely guilty of dumping in, too; I'm human. But, I try to check it when I catch myself being a little "dumpy."

So, in my pattern of internet regurgitation (don't worry, I still have at least one more regurgitation post planned!)...I present you:


---
How Not to Say the Wrong Thing. 

It works in all kinds of crises – medical, legal, even existential. It's the 'Ring Theory' of kvetching. The first rule is comfort in, dump out.

April 07, 2013|Susan Silk and Barry Goldman

When Susan had breast cancer, we heard a lot of lame remarks, but our favorite came from one of Susan's colleagues. She wanted, she needed, to visit Susan after the surgery, but Susan didn't feel like having visitors, and she said so. Her colleague's response? "This isn't just about you."

"It's not?" Susan wondered. "My breast cancer is not about me? It's about you?"
The same theme came up again when our friend Katie had a brain aneurysm. She was in intensive care for a long time and finally got out and into a step-down unit. She was no longer covered with tubes and lines and monitors, but she was still in rough shape. A friend came and saw her and then stepped into the hall with Katie's husband, Pat. "I wasn't prepared for this," she told him. "I don't know if I can handle it."
This woman loves Katie, and she said what she did because the sight of Katie in this condition moved her so deeply. But it was the wrong thing to say. And it was wrong in the same way Susan's colleague's remark was wrong.
Susan has since developed a simple technique to help people avoid this mistake. It works for all kinds of crises: medical, legal, financial, romantic, even existential. She calls it the Ring Theory.

Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. For Katie's aneurysm, that's Katie. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. In the case of Katie's aneurysm, that was Katie's husband, Pat. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order. One of Susan's patients found it useful to tape it to her refrigerator.
Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, "Life is unfair" and "Why me?" That's the one payoff for being in the center ring.
Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.
When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you're going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn't, don't say it. Don't, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don't need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, "I'm sorry" or "This must really be hard for you" or "Can I bring you a pot roast?" Don't say, "You should hear what happened to me" or "Here's what I would do if I were you." And don't say, "This is really bringing me down."
If you want to scream or cry or complain, if you want to tell someone how shocked you are or how icky you feel, or whine about how it reminds you of all the terrible things that have happened to you lately, that's fine. It's a perfectly normal response. Just do it to someone in a bigger ring.
Comfort IN, dump OUT.
There was nothing wrong with Katie's friend saying she was not prepared for how horrible Katie looked, or even that she didn't think she could handle it. The mistake was that she said those things to Pat. She dumped IN.
Complaining to someone in a smaller ring than yours doesn't do either of you any good. On the other hand, being supportive to her principal caregiver may be the best thing you can do for the patient.
Most of us know this. Almost nobody would complain to the patient about how rotten she looks. Almost no one would say that looking at her makes them think of the fragility of life and their own closeness to death. In other words, we know enough not to dump into the center ring. Ring Theory merely expands that intuition and makes it more concrete: Don't just avoid dumping into the center ring, avoid dumping into any ring smaller than your own.
Remember, you can say whatever you want if you just wait until you're talking to someone in a larger ring than yours.
And don't worry. You'll get your turn in the center ring. You can count on that.
Susan Silk is a clinical psychologist. Barry Goldman is an arbitrator and mediator and the author of "The Science of Settlement: Ideas for Negotiators."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"...caught in a two billion way tie for Best Mom in the World."

Yes; I fully appreciate I've been regurgitating the internets. Actual thoughts to come. I promise. 

In the meantime...enjoy the following from the Huffington Post. There are lots of "Mom" writings out there; hell, there are a lot of feel-good writings out there in general. For the most part, I'm not a forwarder of those types of posts; however, some writing resonates. And those, I share. 
---

Dear Less-Than-Perfect Mom
By Lea Grover 

Dear Mom,
I've seen you around. I've seen you screaming at your kids in public, I've seen you ignoring them at the playground, I've seen you unshowered and wearing last night's pajama pants at preschool drop-off. I've seen you begging your children, bribing them, threatening them. I've seen you shouting back and forth with your husband, with your mom, with the police officer at the crosswalk.
I've seen you running around with your kids, getting dirty and occasionally swearing audibly when you bang a knee. I've seen you sharing a milkshake with a manic 4-year-old. I've seen you wiping your kids' boogers with your bare palm, and then smearing them on the back of your jeans. I've seen you carry your toddler flopped over the crook of your arm while chasing a runaway ball.
I've also seen you gritting your teeth while your kid screamed at you for making him practice piano, or soccer, or basket weaving or whatever it was. I've seen you close your eyes and breathe slowly after finding a gallon of milk dumped into your trunk. I've seen you crying into the sink while you desperately scrub crayon off your best designer purse. I've seen you pacing in front of the house.
I've seen you at the hospital waiting room. I've seen you at the pharmacy counter. I've seen you looking tired and frightened.
I've seen a lot of you, actually.
I see you every single day.
I don't know if you planned to be a parent or not. If you always knew from your earliest years that you wanted to bring children into the world, to tend to them, or if motherhood was thrust upon you unexpectedly. I don't know if it meets your expectations, or if you spent your first days as a mom terrified that you would never feel what you imagined "motherly love" would feel like for your child. I don't know if you struggled with infertility, or with pregnancy loss, or with a traumatic birth. I don't know if you created your child with your body, or created your family by welcoming your child into it.
But I know a lot about you.
I know that you didn't get everything that you wanted. I know that you got a wealth of things you never knew you wanted until they were there in front of you. I know that you don't believe that you're doing your best, that you think you can do better. I know you are doing better than you think.
I know that when you look at your child, your children, you see yourself. And I know that you don't, that you see a stranger who can't understand why the small details of childhood that were so important to you are a bother to this small person who resembles you.
I know that you want to throw a lamp at your teenager's head sometimes. I know you want to toss your 3-year-old out the window once in a while.
I know that some nights, once it's finally quiet, you curl up in bed and cry. I know that sometimes, you don't, even though you wanted to.
I know that some days are so hard that all you want is for them to end, and then at bedtime your children hug you and kiss you and tell you how much they love you and want to be like you, and you wish the day could last forever.
But it never does. The day always ends, and the next day brings new challenges. Fevers, heartbreak, art projects, new friends, new pets, new fights. And every day you do what you need to do.
You take care of things, because that's your job. You go to work, or you fill up the crock pot, or you climb into the garden, or strap the baby to your back and pull out the vacuum cleaner.
You drop everything you're doing to moderate an argument over whose turn it is to use a specifically colored marker, or to kiss a boo-boo, or to have a conversation about what kind of lipstick Pinocchio's Mommy wears.
I know that you have tickle fights in blanket forts, and that you have the words to at least eight different picture books memorized. I've heard that you dance like a wild woman when it's just you and them. That you have no shame about farting or belching in their presence, that you make up goofy songs about peas and potatoes and cheese.
I know that an hour past bedtime, you drop what you're doing and trim the fingernail that your 3-year-old insists is keeping her up. I know that you stop cleaning dishes because your kids insist you need to join their tea party. I know you fed your kids PB&J for four days straight when you had the flu. I know that you eat leftover crusts over the sink while your kids watch "Super Why."
I know you didn't expect most of this. I know you didn't anticipate loving somebody so intensely, or loathing your post-baby body so much, or being so tired or being the mom you've turned out to be.
You thought you had it figured out. Or you were blind and terrified. You hired the perfect nanny. Or you quit your job and learned to assemble flat-packed baby furniture. You get confused by the conflict of feeling like nothing has changed since you were free and unfettered by children, and looking back on the choices you made as though an impostor was wearing your skin.
You're not a perfect mom. No matter how you try, no matter what you do. You will never be a perfect mom.
And maybe that haunts you. Or maybe you've made peace with it. Or maybe it was never a problem to begin with.
No matter how much you do, there is always more. No matter how little you do, when the day is over, your children are still loved. They still smile at you, believing you have magical powers to fix almost anything. No matter what happened at work, or at school, or in playgroup, you have still done everything in your power to ensure that the next morning will dawn and your children will be as happy, healthy, and wise as could possibly be hoped.
There's an old Yiddish saying: "There is one perfect child in the world, and every mother has it."
Unfortunately, there are no perfect parents. Your kids will grow up determined to be different than you. They will grow up certain that they won't make their kids take piano lessons, or they'll be more lenient, or more strict, or have more kids, or have fewer, or have none at all.
No matter how far from perfect you are, you are better than you think.
Someday your kids will be running around like crazy people at synagogue and concuss themselves on a hand rail, and somebody will still walk up to you and tell you what a beautiful family you have. You'll be at the park and your kids will be covered in mud and jam up to the elbows, smearing your car with sugary cement, and a pregnant lady will stop and smile at you wistfully.
No matter how many doubts you might have, you never need doubt this one thing: You are not perfect.
And that's good. Because really, neither is your child. And that means nobody can care for them the way you can, with the wealth of your understanding and your experience. Nobody knows what your child's squall means, or what their jokes mean, or why they are crying better than you do.
And since no mother is perfect, chances are you are caught in a two billion way tie for Best Mom in the World.
Congratulations, Best Mom in the World. You're not perfect.
You are as good as anybody can get.
With love,
Lea

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Susan Cain: The power of introverts

"In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.
Our world prizes extroverts -- but Susan Cain makes a case for the quiet and contemplative."