Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day, Female Cancers, and A Brief Revision

First, I have to respond to super nice Sarah's comment. She said: 

Hi! Found your blog through the power of moms and been reading for awhile. Love that you show the "real" side of life. I leave your blog feeling uplifted instead of envious or less than good about myself, as when I read so many others.
Anyway how did you determine you had SAD? When the time change rolls around, it's like someone flips a switch in me. I'm usually okay throughout the holidays but once January rolls around, forget it. Just curious."

I really, really, REALLY appreciate your comment because I have my own issues with other women's blogs. Other than a few close friends, I stopped reading them altogether for the reason you mentioned. (And for the sake of time.) While I do think it's the reader who injects and interprets meaning into whatever they are reading (due to their own insecurities or whatever, which I admittedly have), there is a certain flavor to some women's blogs that does feel a bit "braggy"--even if it's unintentional. While it's hard to turn away from the blogs of the overachieving, it doesn't always feel good after. I never want to be that blog. While I would describe my childhood as idyllic, and my current life leaves nothing to complain about, my family hit some rough patches during my teen years and into adulthood that have had a big impact on me, teaching me empathy for others who struggle with similar stuff. But until I grew up and figured things out, I spent a lot of years wishing things were different, or better--basically envying other's peoples lives. That went with me into my early years of motherhood as I compared myself unfairly to others and often wished away my challenges, weaknesses, and the "toughness" of the early years of motherhood. It's no way to spend your energy. The first two articles I ever wrote for The Power of Moms (The Perfect Mom and The Other Mothers) and one of my class series for moms at BYU-I education week all focus primarily on the damage we do to ourselves by coveting other mother's stuff/lives/talents and give suggestions for how to KNOCK IT OFF! (Incidentally, when I did a presentation on "The Compare Snare" at a Power of Moms retreat, almost every mom in the room agreed that the place they find themselves comparing themselves the most is while blog hopping!) For whatever reason, one of my passions in my writing and teaching is to help other mothers learn to love themselves and love their lives--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because of this, I do make a conscious effort to share my life in a way that doesn't leave people feeling like their own life is somehow "less than". I have a very sensitive spot in my heart for the underdog, for those with more than their fair share of hard knocks. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make everyone see the good in themselves and their marvelously ordinary lives. Everyone has something to offer, and we can all learn from each other. I have a favorite saying I always think about wether I'm preparing a class, an article, or even something as simple as a class party in one of my kids' classes. It's this: SEEK TO BLESS, NOT TO IMPRESS. It's the difference between making your efforts all about the people you're doing them for vs. all about you. My absolute least favorite characteristic in a person is arrogance, and people who try to set themselves up as better than, or worthy to be envied, or too-sexy-for-their-shirt because they have money, social status or some other meaningless criteria . . . that drives me nuts. This is seen everywhere to lesser and greater degrees, but I do have a hard time with blogs that seem to me like they are trying to IMPRESS rather than BLESS. I never, ever, EVER want to live/write/act in a way that would leave someone else feeling depressed about their own perfect life, because I truly believe that whatever the circumstances, our lives are tailor made for us to grow in the ways we specifically need if we are only willing to embrace the here and now and be taught by our unique challenges. In this way, everyone's life is "perfect" for them. The end. (This is all MUCH easier said than done.)

Oh! I've never been diagnosed with S.A.D. I'm a self-diagnoser (kind of like my fake heart attack turned panic attack last February), though I did mention my potential for S.A.D. to the P.A. today and she was ready to hand over the Prozac if I wanted it. Holy smokes! I told her about SAM-e, googled it on my phone for her, and she said she'd check it out later. I just get really down in the winter. Maybe that's not technically S.A.D. but that's what I'm calling it. Thanks again for the comment, Sarah. 

I'm in between a day of doctor's appointments, cello and piano lessons, and a Veteran's Day concert with the kids tonight performed by the amazing Lyceum Philharmonic with guest artist Peter Breinholt (followed by some Sub-Zero). I've got Will in the Junior Strings group in the same orchestra program, and if he eventually made it into the high school group I would be ecstatic. The kids in this orchestra are all between 14 & 18 years old and they are AMAZING! I have no idea if Will has the talent or drive (only time will tell), but he's enjoying where he's at for now.

To be continued . . . off to the concert. 

Wow! What a concert. The music, the narration, the slide shows, the family members of slain soldiers in attendance . . . all very, very touching. So much so that poor Elizabeth was weeping uncontrollably on my lap--I had no idea she was so sensitive! (And I never remember how patriotic I am until I attend something like this and find myself choking back my own tears.) Meanwhile, Rachael was cleaning the floor with a "wup wipe" (wet wipe) and making announcements about passing gas. To add to the drama, we were in the second row in the middle and Brandon was sick at home. I give myself marks for trying to expose and train my children to love and appreciate the arts from the time they are young, but I think more than a few of my grey hairs have come from taking my kids to concerts and museums. I do love people who love music, though. I feel the same about the people we run into in the mountains/out in nature. I like those people. (But I don't really like mall people. Just sayin'.)

Now, if the men in the room could please step outside for just a few minutes. I need to talk to the ladies about some female health stuff.

Nothing like a pap smear and having a foreign body removed from your cornea to get the weekend started! (I had a teeny tiny something stuck in my iris/cornea as of last night, so I mentioned it to the P.A. today and she got me into an ophthalmologist between cello lessons and piano lessons. Not very fun, but I feel 150% better. And he checked my vision. Still 20/20!) 

Since I have quite a bit of cancer in my family history, I was really drilling the P.A. today so I could get it all straight in my head. (And you should know that I made an appointment at this particular office specifically because they had a female P.A. doing the pap smears. I'm weird that way.) 

In case you're too busy, poor, or chicken to go in and see your doc about all this stuff, I thought I would give you the Reader's Digest version of what I learned today. I was surprised to find out recently that a pap smear only checks for cervical cancer. So how do you even check for the other major female cancers? Here's what I learned: 

Uterine/endometrial cancer. This is what my mom and her oldest and only living sister both had. It's slow growing and usually stays confined to the uterus until you remove the whole kit and kaboodle. (That's why they're both still alive.) Signs are periods getting heavier and closer together. Or having periods at all when you should be well into menopause.
Cervical cancer. This is what the pap smear checks for, but symptoms are also random spotting.
Ovarian cancer. This is the ugly one without many symptoms, and can be fast moving. She told me symptoms are bloating, digestive issues like constipation, and generalized pain. Not very helpful, right? And the only way to check for it is ultrasound, and even then it's not always accurate. Lovely.
Breast cancer. Obviously you need to do your monthly exams. Look for pinching/pulling skin or skin that is dimpled like an orange. Tumors are usually painless and hard.
Bladder cancer. Not a female cancer, but I asked her about it too (guess I could have asked my husband who specializes in bladders for crying out loud) because I had an aunt with bladder cancer who ended up having it removed, but not before the cancer spread to her ovaries and eventually took her life. Tell-tale sign is blood in the urine. 

That's all I've got!  Okay men, you can come back in now. 

Last but not least, a brief revision of my TOP TEN ways to deal with S.A.D.:

4) Phototherapy. In addition to the happy lamp, I put daylight bulbs in my kitchen where I spend the most time and have the most recessed lighting. It makes a HUGE difference. Replace all your dingy, weak yellow bulbs with bright, white daylight bulbs. Also, I plan to slather on the sun screen and go to a tanning bed for a few minutes each week. I might even just keep my clothes on. Yes, I'm totally serious. 
8) Just put all 3 supplements under #8 and change #9 to . . .
9) Prayer/Meditation/Yoga/The Bhagavad Gita/Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Whatever it is you want to do for your spirit, but turning your mind to that place for a few minutes every day is essential in my opinion.  

My cornea is hurting, so I'm outta here. And I ate too much frozen cinnamon custard with dark chocolate flakes at Sub-Zero. Right after preaching about the effects of sugar on my mood!


  1. I think you are amazing and an inspiration. I'm lucky to have you as my friend and I plan on saving some room in my suitcase to stick you into when we move to Vegas.

  2. Oh Allyson-I really wish we had reason to see each other more often. We have so much in common. (Well not orchestra concerts, they bore me. There has to be singing for me. But I am very patriotic, so perhaps I would have enjoyed that Veterans concert.) Way too long of a comment to simply say, I like you a lot.


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