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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Coffee, A Keyboard and Kids: Work/Life Balance...The Answer - Question Mark...

Coffee, A Keyboard and Kids: Work/Life Balance...The Answer - Question Mark...: 1 work   noun   \ ˈ wərk\ : a job or activity that you do regularly especially in order to earn money : the place where you do your ...

Work/Life Balance...The Answer - Question Mark...

 noun \ˈwərk\
: a job or activity that you do regularly especially in order to earn money
: the place where you do your job
: the things that you do especially as part of your job


 noun \ˈlīf\
: the ability to grow, change, etc., that separates plants and animals from things like water or rocks
: the period of time when a person is alive
: the experience of being alive
Definitions from Merriam Webster Online Dictionary

We've been having a lot of discussion lately about "work/life balance"...what does that mean?  How does one achieve it?  After pondering for many an hour on this, and talking with a lot of people, it always comes back to one thing:  You.  Or, me, in my instance.  Work/Life Balance is unique and sometimes, all too often, feels unattainable.  We spend most of our wakeful hours at our "Work"...trying to fit in our "Life" around the edges.  What we fail to recognize is that Work is truly part of our, what we make of it really depends on each of us individually.

I've always followed this philosophy:  people seem to follow one of two paths, they either find a job where they LOVE what they do, or, they find a job to be able to afford to do what they LOVE.  I've been pretty fortunate that I have found jobs that brought me both...I've always enjoyed the job I've had and seen the opportunities to grow, change, etc. (see:  Life), and it worked out that I was also able to have time to do a lot of the things I truly enjoy outside of Work.  Many times, these things would overlap, and I was okay with that.

Once I had children, my focus, my Life, changed to include more than just me and where I was going to catch a pizza with friends on a Friday night.  Children afford us the great opportunity to see beyond ourselves and we have the fantastic perspective of seeing Life not only through our own aging eyes, but from the fresh perspective of our children's... absolutely incredible!

Often times, this opening of the perspective platform brings about a new challenge.  Work becomes Work...more-so than part of our Life.  We separate it...hashing out the minutes we spend away from the things we would rather be doing...or torn because we enjoy our Work but need the Life to be "equal"...and there just aren't enough hours in the day.

So what of this Work/Life Balance everyone talks about?  We recently had the opportunity to talk with someone who was 'known' to have this Work/Life Balance down.  We wanted answers, my co-workers and I, HOW do you do it?  What I realized while talking with this professional was that her idea of Balance was not mine.  And that's okay...for her.  My Work/Life Balance needs to be defined for Me, is what I learned.  I have to define what my Life is going to look like, what my Balance is...and so do You.  For You.

The picture you paint is the beginning.  The way you achieve that is through your own choices, thoughts, and actions.  You are the only one who can make your Life what you want it to be.  You are the only one who can say yes or no to the opportunities and challenges before you.  Work/Life Balance is yours to choose.

Right?  Question mark...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

For those of you interest in the type 1 community posts I write, I urge you to follow my new blog, "Footsteps of Hope".

I've decided to branch off to a special blog for my thoughts and journey through the life of diabetes and hope to continue to add content to both blogs.  For a preview of what my new blog is like, here is the first post:
Footsteps of Hope

There’s been something I’ve wanted to write about for a while now…as the journey goes on, the learning never stops, the morphing into whatever I need to be at the time, that time just keeps ticking away…without a cure.
My daughter has had Type 1 Diabetes now for 13 years.  The “they should have it figured out in ten years” milestone has come and gone…then the “who told you that?” phase was short, moving into, finally, acceptance.   I sit and let the word resonate on my palate like a fine wine.  Then I cry.  For a moment, it seems that hope is lost.  Hope, is gone.
No cure, no end in sight, night after night of praying and tending to the ghost of what might happen if I let my guard down.  More number crunching, more juice boxes bought for the “lifesaving shelf” (I should have bought stock in Juicy Juice!) , more number crunching, an eye on what the next best thing will be to make her life just that little bit more “normal”.  My emphasis switches from relying on hope to relying on the practical items that will get her through the day, make her life better, the practical of Living with Diabetes.  I hate it.  Is this what it is going to be?  Hearing day after day about another child passing away, another struggling with diagnosis and asking, “why?” … The day in and day out of working to make a difference…until, when, exactly?  Bitterness, exhaustion…defeat.
But then…wait…what is that???  If I listen closely enough, I can hear the pitter patter of little feet in the back of my mind…as the steps grow louder and bolder, I recognize this old friend that has helped me time and time again…HOPE.  Oh…I have missed you…HOPE…HOPE!  Hope for a Cure, Hope for a better life, HOPE!
If there is one thing I’ve learned through this journey, it is that without my side-kick, Hope, I am truly lost.  And I will HOPE.
A short story to share the Footsteps of Hope:  We were fortunate enough to be able to include a glucose monitor in our toolbox of “the next best thing to make life better, a little more “normal”…if sticking another device into your child is acceptable to you as “normal” in this life we call diabetes! We received our Dexcom on a Wednesday and decided to wait until Saturday to start so that we could both watch the video and learn together, and, not rush the process.  We were both a little concerned about the “plunger” – manual insertion – as the Minimed had a spring loaded device and that had hurt terribly.  Caitie decided to ice the spot while we watched the video of how to insert the sensor.  (2 minutes,tops!)  I helped with the first one and, being the first time, it was awkward and we didn’t hear the two clicks right away…but got it done.  Caitie said it did not hurt at all! Caitie went to a friend’s house to hang out that evening while we were out with friends.  We picked her up and got home around midnight.  We looked at the CGM and it said 130 with an arrow down.  We tested and the meter said 141.  We discussed a snack, or, were we at the “bottom of the arrow” since her BG was 141.  Caitie said she didn’t feel like she was dropping.  I stayed up another ½ hour to check her again, to see where she was.  At that time the CGM said 140-something (I can’t remember right now!) and so I went to bed and she was asleep. At 4am I heard an alarm and went in to check on her.  I don’t think I heard the alarm the first time, and, Caitie was sleeping right through it all.  I cleared the alarm and got her test kit.  The CGM said 48!I tested and she was 52.  I grabbed two juice boxes and got her to drink them (still sleeping).  I waited 15 minutes and tested her again…51… got another juice box and had her drink that one … she finally started to rouse and was drowsy.  She gave me that teenage look like, “Why are you sticking that straw in my face?!”  Another 15 minutes or so she tested at 78.  I waited a little while longer and she finally was in a safe range.  I think that the CGM saved her life that night.  The very first night of wearing it.  If it wasn’t that, I certainly believe it saved her from having a seizure.  I got goosebumps.  As a parent, I was breathless.  This CGM is a step in the Hope that I have for a Cure…it is a step in the right direction…that there are people out there working to save my daughter. I have been asked, recently, what I wish for my daughter…without hesitation but with tears immediate to my eyes, I whisper, “A Cure”.  I clear my throat, allowing my voice to strengthen, and I again say, to anyone who asks that question, “A Cure.”  Hope brings me closer to that Cure, Hope lifts me out of bed in the morning, through the challenges of each and every day, and Hope is there when I drift off to sleep.  Hope is what I share with my daughter.  How different life would be for all of us if … … …
And, so, I say, Hi, Hope.  Thank you for being beside me until that day comes.  Please don’t ever leave again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Coffee, A Keyboard and Kids: The Power of Dew

Coffee, A Keyboard and Kids: The Power of Dew: Hmmm...I'm not sure I should write about this, but, if it is making me chuckle ironically in my head, I think it may be worth sharing... R...

The Power of Dew

Hmmm...I'm not sure I should write about this, but, if it is making me chuckle ironically in my head, I think it may be worth sharing...

Recently my youngest (12 yrs old) has been involved in an extra-curricular activity that has taxed her beyond anything we could have imagined.  She has practice four days a week for hours at a time.  It is for what I call, "the Olympics of the brain" and this year, the kids are having a tough time of it.  The solution to their quest is not coming easily and the personalities are strong.  She's wiped.  She's burned out.  She's emotionally, physically and mentally on fumes.  Add to that the homework and every day middle school life and she's struggling, to say the least.

I've encouraged, I've cheered, I've coached on the strategies of life...but yesterday, even I was wiped out...and it was 7:00 in the morning!!  So I pondered througout my day, regained my strength and when I got home from work I was ready for a good old fashioned pick me up speech.  And then, I saw her on the couch, trying to sink in so I couldn't make her out from the pillow behind her...and I went for the Hail Mary of kid-pick-me-ups (at least, in our house, where the kids are doomed to healthy snacks and drinks as much as I am able!).

I sigh, "Okay, kiddo, we gotta get you ready to go!"  She comes over and buries her head in my shirt.  I rub her back and start my peppy engine, "How about some chocolate milk?!"  no response  "orrrrr," (and this is when I throw in the towel) "rrrr, a Mountain Dew?!"  Her head pops up!  "Really?!!"  I think to myself, "yeah, really?!"  "Yep, you've earned it, don't you think?"  "OKAY!"  She runs downstairs to our "stash it here if you want it to last" 'fridge.  I hear the pop of the can on her way back up the steps. 

Yes, I have given my Type 1 daughter a Mountain Dew.  I feel crushed inside, but, then I see her face as she emerges from the steps...oh my gosh, who would have thought that one little can could bring so much joy!  "I've never had one of these before, you know!"

I know.

"Sweetie, test and dose yourself ... right away ... (I almost want to say, "and make it a double!" but that is just silly, I know!) 

To the average joe, I know soda isn't a big deal and you all may be thinking that we really need to live a little more at our house, but, there are certain things that we just don't partake in if they hold no nutritional value long as we can hold out, anyway.  My teenager is the one who has the stash of Dew in the 'fridge, since, as I've been told, "Milk is not cool, Mom" and she would never offer it to her friends when they are over.  Dew, on the other hand, is a home run with teenagers and certain adults who might just need that jolt of sugar and caffeine somewhere in their day as well!

Well, let me tell you, that throwback can with the "made with REAL SUGAR" label on it was all my daughter needed to have a perma-grin on her face as she stepped out of the car for another practice last night!  I picked her up two hours later and she was still perky!  Working hard and standing upright...huh, I thought to myself, "there ya go".

We got in the car and I asked how things went.  Usually, lately, it has been "ugh, can we not talk about it?!  I have to live this life, you know!!" or something like that.  Tonight, I got a "Pretty good!  And, I still have energy!"  ...uh-oh, she now knows the power of the Dew... I cautiously tell her, "Now you know honey, that was a special ... "  She interrupts me, "I know, I know...but now I get why Sarah likes it!"  I think to myself...add to list, buy padlock for downstairs 'fridge!  But, I cannot help but's almost like Rusty getting his first beer there out in the desert...a right of passage of sorts...and she's still smiling!

Perfect parent?  NO WAY.  Good parent?  Not necessary all the time or on any given day...but, sometimes, it is fun to give in ... this is a small thing, I know, but, it did make me laugh at myself, so...I thought I'd share...a smile on your face is worth it!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Coffee, A Keyboard and Kids: What is Your Gift?

Coffee, A Keyboard and Kids: What is Your Gift?: Recently, at work, I was asked to take part in an exercise to determine my "Behavioral Style".  We've got a consultant who is working with o...

What is Your Gift?

Recently, at work, I was asked to take part in an exercise to determine my "Behavioral Style".  We've got a consultant who is working with our organization and she came to interview me and have me take this test.  I was fascinated.  I guess that says something about my "Behavioral Style" right there!!  I was eager to see what the "test" revealed and yes, somewhat apprehensive...what would this say about me?  Would I like what it said??!

I immediately went back to a moment in time that I learned something about myself that I thought was not good.  I was working for a major NBA franchise and the President of the company held our Christmas party at his home.  It was meant to be a wonderful, warm, engaging affair with a potluck theme brought into this beautiful, stylish, expensive home.  It was something out of a storybook...people milling about, someone sat down at the piano and started to play...others really did gather around and start to sing carols.  It was something to behold!  I am not a singer.  Did you see the period at the end of that sentence?!  I am NOT a singer.  So, I found myself with a bit of fear in my belly...slowly I backed away from the merriment...please don't let anyone see me and scoop through my arm to drag me back in...please don't make me mouth the words because if I sing just one note, that party is going to be over, baby!!  Backing away, I found myself by the buffet...but, I was not hungry anymore, at all, stuffed.  So I meandered my way into the kitchen and weaved my way through the few that had found comfort in quiet conversation.  I looked around and saw the piles and piles of dishes that covered the beautiful granite countertops.  I, without really even thinking anything more but "sheesh, somebody's going to have to clean up this mess...and it shouldn't be the Prez or his wife..." picked up a washcloth, started some water and started to wash the dishes.  I was happy.  Content even, in finding my place and doing something constructive to help the evening go well.  Then the President of the franchise, of the home, came over to me (we share the same home state and were transplants at the time, so I felt a nice bond with him and trusted his judgement) and said, "Sue!  You really are a type A, aren't you?  Stop that, you don't need to do that!"  Seriously, I am laughing right now, because that was the first time I had heard that phrase, "Type A" and I didn't know what it meant!  Did he just give me a compliment or ... well, it didn't feel quite like that...he was telling me to stop.  Ugh.  What do I do?

Well, on the drive home I asked my boyfriend what "type A" meant.  He gave me some vague answer of it meaning "being uptight" and I got irritated, "I am NOT uptight!"  So when we got home, I looked it up.  "Driven, work oriented, competitive, multi-tasker, over-achiever"...okay...I can live with that!  What's wrong with that?!"

For years, my life went on and I kept that in the back of my mind and tried, sometimes really hard, to be "FUN".  Tried to be laid-back...married someone who's name was always mentioned in the same sentence as "laid back"!  I worked hard, still, and things still got to me, but, I tried not to show it...Type A seemed UN-fun, unlikeable, not someone I'D want to hang around with!!  And life went on.

About ten years later, hundreds of miles away from where that singing was drifting into the kitchen while I washed (yes, I kept washing the dishes!), we had a beautiful baby girl, and then another.  I had found myself a niche in being the supporting role to a successful professional and I took my job very seriously, I found strength in doing it right, and I worried at night that I had forgotten something.  This was a constant.  I worried about my family, whether I was doing right by my daughters, whether I was making the right choices for them from breakfast until reading books before bed.  Then,

Diabetes Happened.

I found myself in a sea of unknowns.  I had to learn, and learn quickly.  I had to make decisions.  I had to make sure they were the right decisions.  There were complications.  More decisions, more acting quickly.  In the end, I went before the board of the hospital to express my gratitude for the care her doctor had given but scolded and reprimanded them for not having the most up to date equipment to treat my daughter.  That complication nearly cost her her life and it was inexcusable.  Strength in the details...

As life has presented itself, I've had to manage a household, manage a disease...if you do not manage this disease meticulously, there are consequences.  Add to that the consequences to be paid would be by my daughter, with her health, and I was driven to details, multi-tasking, get the picture.  My picture was, and sometimes still is by those that care to share their opinion, I am not always "FUN".  My kids come just short of calling me a "FUN-SUCKER" which, in our house, is The Worst!  (I think they may say it in their minds, though, I really do...)

So, present day, I sit down to take this, what did I call it?  (scrolling up now) "Behavioral Style" test.  Uh-oh.  The four descriptors are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness.  And, after all is said and done, I come out a "C", description:  Motivated to achieve high personal standards".  There's more, but, that's me in a nutshell.  I look at it again, and, again, I think to myself, "okay, I can live with that."  Then we start to go through things and it is clear to me that the "I's" are the FUN ones.  And that story comes up in my mind.  I want to be a fun one.  I SHOULD be a fun one.

As the interview goes on the consultant is amazing...she is describing how not a single one of the D's, I's, S's or C's can really function or survive without the support of the other three.  Each brings their gift to the table (or organization, or life, for that matter) and once we embrace our Gifts, we really can achieve great things.  We can learn to assess and interact with each other based on our strengths.  Realizing the difficulties in style match-ups...someone who is detail oriented and process driven might find the care-free attitude and disorganized desk of an "I" irritating and uncomfortable, but that "I" is getting the job done, just the same!  There is no "right" way, just a "right way" for each of us to embrace.  It is a lesson in acceptance not just of others and their characteristics, but of ourselves and saying, "it's okay, these things are important to me."  Somewhere out there, there is someone who IS saying, "Thank heavens she is focused on the details, we need that!" That consultant shared with me that she is an "I".  She thought it was apparent, but, I wasn't sure until she said it...then I could see it full-on.  She was influential and colorful and engaging, a real joy to talk to.

The exercise gave me a few a-ha moments, especially about that evening long ago and where I have journeyed since then.  Life throws things our way and we innately react to them the best we can.  Diabetes changed our lives.  It has taken me places I never dreamed of going, it has brought me friendships I don't see how I could do without, it has shown me kindness in friends I thought had forgotten me.  LIFE has shown me that surprises are around every corner, and, how we choose to deal with them, how we react to them, that is when our Gifts shine through.  Even if it takes us a while to get there, we all have gifts to share, and those that make us whole within.  What is your gift?  Embrace it and share it.  Others WILL appreciate it.

I always thought I should be an "I" but now, I think I am really on my way to being okay with "me".