Friday, January 30, 2009

It's a Man's World

One of the things I love about my job is communicating to our employees about the various community service activities the company supports. Right now, we happen to be supporting the American Heart Association's annual Heart Walk campaign, just in time for National Wear Red Day which is next Friday, Feb. 6.

Earlier today an employee complained because an announcement about National Wear Red Day failed to mention that heart disease was the number one killer of men, too. It's a national event that I thought was well known and because we've promoted it for the last couple of years, I didn't include information about the origins of the event. (For the record ... that wasn't in last year's announcement either, but I guess that one got by him.)

I usually let things like this go because you can't please everyone all the time, but today I became quite angry about it. And when I'm angry -- I cry. And that messes up my eye makeup, which just makes me even madder! (And I probably wouldn't have cared if I hadn't lost my grandmother to heart disease last summer and this will be the first year I walk in memory of her instead in honor of her.)

Because Mother raised me right, I'm going to give this man the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he's never heard of the Go Red for Women movement. Maybe he's never seen a red dress pin. Maybe he doesn't know that almost 500,000 women died from heart disease last year. Maybe he doesn't know that the symptoms of acute heart attack are slightly different in women. Maybe he doesn't know that women are more likely to have neck and shoulder pain, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and shortness of breath in addition to chest pain. Or, that silent heart attacks are more common in women and because these symptoms aren't normally associated with heart attacks that women seek medical care later than men. Maybe he doesn't know that because of the Go Red for Women movement, many people are losing the perception that heart disease is a "man's" disease, women are becoming more informed and lives are being saved.

To make a long story short, I revised the announcement to provide background on the Go Red for Women movement. To do that, I had to use the word "women" several more times. (Okay, that was snotty of me, but I was a tad bit emotional.)

I've drawn the conclusion that this man has obviously not gone through the pain of losing a woman he loved to a heart attack or stroke. Perhaps he lost a male loved one and that made him as passionate about my exclusion of men as I was about my inclusion of women.
Whatever the case, I hope he never has to feel the pain of a 10-year-old girl who awakes one Sunday morning to find her Mom unresponsive in the bathtub because of a stroke that caused her to fall unconscious and drown. And I hope he never has to visit the hospital room of the woman who means more to him than life itself knowing that she is drawing her last breaths because congestive heart failure has caused liquid to fill her lungs. I wouldn't wish either of those on my worst enemy.

So on Friday, Feb. 6, I hope that everyone will join me in going red for women, including my fellow complaining coworker.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's potty time ... oh, it's potty time!

Okay, I think I've been sailing through this whole Mom thing for the past two years. Preston really hasn't given me more than I can handle or figure out with a phone call or two. And when he did, I could always refer to one of my handy books most of which I purchased before he was born. (A source of laughter for all the women in my family with children, especially my grandmother.)

Last week, Preston's daycare teacher asked me if I had been putting him on the potty. And I told her the truth -- not like I should. It's actually been in the bathroom for a couple of months and he likes to put his blocks in it while I'm running his bath water. Don't worry, he's never actually used the thing so that's not as gross as it sounds.

The truth is. I haven't the faintest idea of "how" to potty train a child, especially one with different parts from me. I've gotten a word of advice here and there ... use the toilet, don't bother with a potty ... don't worry about it until he shows an interest ... let him go to the bathroom with his Dad ...
So, tonight I decided maybe it was time for a book! I went to the Barnes & Noble website and did a search for potty training. In case you're wondering, there are 362 books about potty training on the site. Here are some of my favorites:

I know that he's not going to wake up one day and be out of diapers. I also know that I'm going to have to pray for patience because I'm sure there will be accidents. I'll keep my sanity by repeating over and over again ... this too shall pass. And if all else fails, I'll buy the cat book.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What's in a name?

This cartoon made me laugh. I also predict that there will be versions of Sasha and Malia, too.

It also made me think about how people get their names.

Everyone has a name. Some names are more original than others. Growing up, I always thought my name was a little unusual. I was in the 8th grade before I met or heard of anyone else with it. (Most kids would find that unbelievable these days, but there was no Internet or Google back then.)

I often wonder how my mother decided to name me Keela. Unfortunately, no one in the family remembers. When I get bored, I make up stories about it. I saw in one baby book that Keela was a form of Keely, which is Irish. Since I was born on St. Patrick's Day, maybe my Mom decided on an Irish name. Too bad we'll never know.

I was always fascinated with my grandmother's story. She had 10 kids and she didn't name any of them. She let neighbors, relatives and eventually the other children name each and every one of them. She said that the only thing that mattered to her was a healthy baby.

I was a little different when it came to naming my child. First of all, I had been dreaming of having a daughter since I found out where babies come from. And I'd been naming her every year since then, including the day I found out we were having a baby. Kendall Grace was going to be her name. We'd have the same initials.

Well, everyone knows how that story ended -- she was a he. And the name game began. First it was Jaden, because that was cute, but how cute would it be on a grown man. Then there was Malcolm. A strong name with some history to it, plus he'd have his father's initials. Then the dreams started. The dreams of my grandmother and grandfather.

You might think that was normal, but I'd never met the man before. Only heard stories and saw him in a picture. He died when I was young. But there was no doubt that it was him in my dreams. And he and my grandmother were happy. He was named after his father. And after that final dream his name was the most beautiful name in the world to me. And no matter what anyone else, including my poor husband, suggested I knew that my son's name would be Preston. And I can't wait to tell him the story of how he got it. As Biggie would say, "It was all a dream ... ."

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What if ... Special Agent Keela Glover?

I often run by the grocery store to pick up a few things before picking Preston up from daycare. Monday was one of those days. In the store parking lot I passed a female law enforcement officer of some type. She was wearing a sweater, pants and stilettos. I would have taken her for any other kind of worker had it not been for the badge and gun clipped to her waist. I couldn't help thinking what a strange combination that was ... stilettos and a gun. (I guess I'll have to stop talking about the females on the CSI shows who always have on heels since apparently some folks do it in real life.)

That image and the ongoing media coverage for the upcoming inauguration made me remember something that I hadn't thought about in a very long time. 1n 1992, just before my college graduation I attended a job fair. I was stopped by a recruiter for the United States Secret Service. Apparently at that time they were really in need of minority females to join their ranks. (And you might even say a little desperate to be stopping me. Actually, I guess I could have passed for someone who was in good shape back then.)

I was sucked in. Before I knew it, I'd taken the materials and consented to filling out an application, which I did. I was convinced that I was going to join the Secret Service and live a life of adventure and excitement. Well, needless to say once I realized that I would have to learn to shoot a gun and be willing to put my life on the line to protect someone else I withdrew myself from consideration. Call me selfish, but I'm not taking a bullet for my employer. My child and on a good day, my husband, but that's about it.

But what if I had chosen a life with the Secret Service? Right now I'd be Special Agent Keela Glover. With more than 15 years of experience would I have worked my way up to the presidential detail? Would I be learning code names for the Obamas? Talking to Sasha outside a restaurant like the pictured agents? Driving Sasha and Malia to school? Escorting Michelle on speaking engagements?

That would have been cool; however, I doubt it would have happened. I've never seen a female agent in any of the photos of presidents or presidential candidates. But you never know, there's a first time for everything. Right, Barack?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Yes, Bob. I'm Ready!

It's 2009! Hard to believe another year has come and gone, and once again we are making resolutions to be better, stronger, nicer, leaner ... and all that other stuff.

I've decided that 2009 is going to be a year of prepartion for me. (I have a big milestone birthday next year, and I want to be fabulous!) And I picked up this book in the library last week that is going to help me. It's not the first time I've started the year out with some kind of "diet and exercise" book. But this time, the book includes information about the emotional aspects of weight gain. I know for sure that's something that I need.

Last year my coworkers and I had a couple "Biggest Loser" contests. And the cash pots should have been incentive enough for me to shed the pounds, but after a week or so, I always went back to the unhealthy, comfort foods that made me feel better. I did manage to lose 10 lbs, and could see a difference in my clothing and the way I felt.

Unfortunately, my reaction to my grandmother's sickness and eventual death put an end to my efforts. I gained back the 10 lbs. I lost and 10 more. I've never eaten as much junk or moved around less in my life. I told someone last year that I hadn't really shed any tears, but I have eaten enough to mourn the deaths of a hundred people.

My grandmother wouldn't have wanted that. In fact, she told all of us to take better care of ourselves so that we would have a better chance to fight high blood pressure and other diseases that are more likely to strike overweight, sendentary people.

This book by Bob Harper, a trainer from one of my favorite shows, The Biggest Loser" starts with working through the "why" of eating. I think that's a good place for me to begin. I especially like the fact that Bob admits to being an emotional eater -- even though he's in phenomenal shape. He's just found a way to recognize and overcome the habit of overeating.
I got a gift card from Barnes and Noble for Christmas, so I think I'll buy my own copy of this book. Hopefully by the end of this year, it will be worn and a bit tattered from use. And there will be no question about my readiness!