If not for my son

A simple reflection

if not for my son I’d have less awareness of my body & the beauty of being a woman

if not for my son I would not have explored my community and all it has to offer

if not for my son I’d have less to little appreciation for the outdoors (snow included)

if not for my son “self-care” would be an empty mantra

if nother for my son I’d have less meaningful friendships

if not for my son….I cannot imagine…

WOMAN Know Thy Body!

health

My mom’s ongoing deteriorating health and my own recent medical situations have led me into deep reflection about women, especially women of color being aware of our bodies and knowing what is “normal” for you and then being able to intelligently and calmly yet strongly advocate with medical professionals when you want/need something.

I think that women of color in particular have been shamed when not feeling well.  The whole myth of the “Strong Black Woman” or the “Tough Latina” who keeps working and caring for others through aches and pains is so bad for our health and psyche! So many of us suffer in silence.  We don’t tell our partners, family, or friends what’s happening with/to us and we end up coping in ineffective and unhealthy ways.

ALL women need to take control of their bodies and learn to speak up and advocate when things are not feeling “normal!”

In no particular order, here is a quick list of how to know yourself and get prepared to advocate when needed:

  1. Know the names of your body parts and organs and what their purpose/function is.  When the doctor asks you “Where does it hurt?” You can specifically and definitively say “I am experiencing sharp pain in my lower abdomen that has not been resolved by taking any over the counter pain medications for the last 24 hours….” I learned that doctors & nurses perk up when you have sound and solid information about yourself…
  2. Get healthy so you can have an appropriate baseline from which to judge “malfunctions” and “ailments”  If you are always “sick” or “hurting” or tired or weak…how do you know when you need medical attention and intervention? If you are healthy (well-rested, engage in light to moderate exercise, eat balanced) then your body regulates to a healthy baseline so you have a starting marker for when things go awry.Find a health care professional you like and trust and can depend on; then make & keep regular appointment with her or him.
  3. Find a health care professional you like and trust and can depend on; then make & keep regular appointment with her or him.
    1. Ask friends and family who they see; do some research; find the right practitioner for your personality and needs and see them even when all is well.
    2. Don’t be intimidated by a busy doctor or nurse or their medical jargon. Write down questions/concerns before and go in prepared. Ask for an extra 15 minutes when scheduling if you think you’ll need it.
    3. Don’t allow doctors or nurses to stereotype you and your habits based on your race or ethnicity. Educate them on who you are and your habits.

4.  Speak up! Do not be afraid or shy to say what is wrong or what hurts or does not feel right.

5.  Take a holistic approach. Don’t just get physically healthy – get mentally & emotionally healthy as well.

        6.    Be a role model. If you get & stay healthy then your significant other, children, family, friends will be inspired   into getting & staying healthy.   Teach your children, significant other, and family & friends how to know their bodies and encourage them to keep regular appointments, eat healthy, and speak up!

For me, September is back-to-school (work) and it also means new resolutions for staying on track with healthy living!

Black Women’s Health Imperative: http://www.blackwomenshealth.org/

Black Women’s Health: http://www.blackwomenshealth.com/

National Alliance for Hispanic Health: http://www.hispanichealth.org/about/legacy.aspx

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health: http://latinainstitute.org/

Asian Women for Health: http://www.asianwomenforhealth.org/

National Indian Women’s Health Resource Center: http://www.niwhrc.org/

Updating My Summer List of Fun

Inspired by a blogger who just started following me (always nice), I thought I’d post an update on my Taking Time off List:

  1. I have had the opportunity to sleep in only once. In fact, the toddler has had insomnia most of the summer and wakes up frequently during the night AND then has the audacity to wake up on time in the morning! Oh well…
  2. We have been eating lots of ice cream and Popsicles and taking walks by the Merrimack River AND playing in the park and at the playground often!
  3. We have not yet made it to the farms, but I’m hoping we’ll go later this month OR that while we’re in Atlanta we’ll get to the aquarium.
  4. No public spray parks, but plenty of time in the kiddie pool with friends!
  5. LOTS of mommy-time with friends and then plenty of mommy and kids time with friends also.
  6. Train ride on hold until October…
  7. WGBH Fun Fest and Lowell Folk Fest were a HUGE hit with the toddler. Now he thinks every weekend is a festival!
  8. Have yet to go see the ducks in Boston…
  9. Read a couple of new books with the toddler (no new books for mom or dad) and have piles of stuff to make our summer book…just piles right now…
  10. Sister will not be able to visit cuz like me, she’s sandwiched and taking care of grandma…but she is going to send me some tamales, which is a good 2nd place replacement.
  11. Unplanned:  Heading to Atlanta to check in on ailing mom, which is an adventure for the toddler to be on the plane and an opportunity for us to share that experience with him and for him to see grandpa whom he LOVES and granny who he thinks is his peer!
  12. Not necessarily fun but necessary: Potty-training…anyone have good tips?

At the Crossroads of Victim and Victory

Sometimes our grief and pain can take over what we might consider to be our “normal” self.

Signpost in blue sky with clouds

You know that place between “I’m a victim” and “I’m victorious!”?

You know that space between 1 pint of ice cream every night and a brisk walk every morning?

It is a small space that you can easily and quickly fit/fall into if you allow yourself to do so.

Grieving is important.

Self-care is a must.

Pity should be managed.

Be victorious over your situation in a healthy way:

  1. Don’t’ be afraid to engage with a therapist. Call your insurance company to find out the options. Talk to your primary care physician.
  2. Call your close friends – the ones who accept you unconditionally,  and offer lots of positive support.
  3. Talk as much as you feel you need to – to yourself, a therapist, friends, a significant other.
  4. Cry if you want. It can be cleansing and therapeutic.
  5. Be reflective about why you feel how you feel (grieving a loss, recovering from physical pain, trying to find meaning). This can include prayer and meditation.
  6. Read other people’s stories of victory and use the lessons you find applicable.
  7. Find an activity to keep you busy/distracted. That scrapbook you’ve been meaning to put together, gardening, cleaning the attic, exercise, lunch with friends, journal…

Decide TODAY to be victorious over your grief and pain! TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!