Friday, August 8, 2014

What a Difference a "Day"-sy Makes. Step Up and Shine!

Last evening, (August 7, 2014) Steve Champagne and I  had the opportunity to experience first hand what a few women, when they network together can do. We have had the privilege at ArtSees Productions, to feature Step Up, on our radio show. We were also guests at last night's Shine & Dine event held at the Bridgeport Art's Center, Skyline Loft.

Through the preliminary exploration into the Step Up, I was able to glean a pretty good understanding of what it was about, why professional women networking on behalf of under-resourced girls was needed, and how it works. But, last night I witnessed first hand what this program is doing for the 250 girls found at four neighborhood schools.

Upon arrival at the Bridgeport Art's Center, we were greeted with a sea of finely dressed women and young ladies all adorned with an orange daisy, which represents the organizations logo. We were also greeted by young women wearing the official SUWN t-shirt. All greeters were gracious and exuded an air of gratitude that we were there. As well as a belief in the program. We were delivered to the "Skyline Loft"  by way of a chic "service elevator" and it was there that I met Miss "Daisy" a beautiful young woman who immediately responded to my presence. I graciously asked her where the ladies room was and not only did she show me, she escorted me there. We had a nice little walk ahead of us, so I was able to explain to her why I was there and what I do as a profession. I shared with her that I am a radio show host, blogger, writer with ArtSees Productions.  She was interested and then I shared my  other profession, education. It was then that she became intrigued with my role as a high school educator. She was an interested listener, gracious, poised, and very engaging and filled with questions.

As I exited from the ladies room, there was Daisy, waiting for me. I was glad to see her as I wanted to talk with this beautiful flower ( perfectly named for the evening and as a representative of the endeavor) a little more. I was deeply touched that she waited and that she wanted to walk me back to my companion. All the way we talked and shared our passion for education.

It was in that moment that I was reminded of how valuable we are to one another. Daisy made me feel comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings and I sense that our commonality availed a sense of well-being for her too. I felt valued as a woman, and important as a professional educator. Our conversation ended with a shaking of hands and a "pleasure to meet you" farewell. But, what I walked away with was an assurance that this program works. I spent the rest of the evening witnessing the collaboration, passion, camaraderie and friendships that have emerged by way of Step Up. In addition to the aforementioned, I realized how important it is to lead, guide and impress upon each other how valuable we are to the bigger picture.

Thank you Daisy, you "stepped up" and you Shined!

Friday, July 25, 2014

On Being a MeMe (Grandmother)

This is why grandchildren are so special;" it takes all the most beautiful moments of parenting all the most precious attributes of our children and bundles them up into a new generation. Grand parenting is our opportunity to look back on those precious moments that we rushed past as we were so busy being new parents." mlaluna (2014)
Last night as I watched my precious granddaughter dancing it was like being a young mother again, only this time I just got to watch in a very different way as an observer. I was the celebrity chosen to watch a performance of a lifetime. More precious than the dance that my granddaughter insist that she would do while I was singing, was the planning. There I was, hand in hand with my Bella. She had something so special to talk to me about. So special that we had to escape downstairs away from prying eyes and ears numerous times. So special that she had to choreograph/produce how it would all play out. Listening to her little mind, (not little at all, genius mind) discuss all the aspects of how it would play out. She asked if I had any ballet songs I could sing as she had the perfect dance for that. She asked if I do any hip-hop. She insisted that we announce that she had a special dance planned for the guests at her Great-Aunt Missy's benefit.

Imagine this little peanut coming up with her check list to ensure that all of the food was being prepared correctly.

Equally  beautiful was to be able to experience the 2 grandmothers holding hands with their only granddaughter and dancing. All 3 of us dancing while BeBe was singing a Beatles' cover. That image of what it is to be a woman will be forever etched on her heart and on our's.

Sharing in the dance of life...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Online Professional Portfolios;Guess what HR, Highly Qualified people use them!

After much discussion, frustration as well as pulling out our hair, Steve and I have decided to just laugh at the joke that HR has become in the 21st century. I remember in 1998 whilst taking a technology integration course that I would have to ultimately create an online portfolio in order to obtain a job. It was identified as the wave of the future! 

Yeah, so? So, both Steve and I have put to good use our technology integration and created online portfolios. Guess what? We are still required to do the mundane task of applying on line over and over again, to become one of the thousands who are incapable of creating online portfolios, leaving us at the bottom of the abyss of online application processes. In other words at the bottom of said, application stack! It is beyond tiring, it is absurd! What ever happened to the other suggested requirement in my days of schooling which was not that long ago? Whatever happened to creativity and open-mindedness of HR? "Mary, you must always create fine linen papered resumes that will be sent off to the hiring bodies as that is the way to get hired." That has become a major untruth. I find it hard to believe that true transformational leaders want cookie cutter applicants! That they want people who only spew out words that a computer program wishes to see. That is not trans-formative or creative!

Today if you send your resume on fine linen paper you are asked to go to the website fill out the spyder crawling, code word watching application systems that only serve one discriminate to the point of major labor violations! This is truth. The only one's making any headway off of the new, 21st century application processes is the creator of said application processes! If you want to hire high quality applicants do what we do when looking for high quality job opportunities, search on the web. Chances are high quality organizations can find many highly qualified people with their appropriate online portfolios available for hiring. Go ahead give it a try, you'd be surprised.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Taking It In Stride, Too Young, Too Soon

One of the realities of being me is that I grew up under the shadow of cancer. My mother's mother died of uterine cancer when she was only 16, my mother died of ovarian cancer when my baby sister was only 16. My father's sisters, his mother, my mother all died too young, too soon, painfully and yes, from cancer.

I remember signing on with the American Cancer Society door to door drives when I was barely old enough to leave my yard. I recall collecting dimes, dollars, whatever my kind neighbors would give. I recall putting it in an envelope and sending it on its way. I had no idea what that money was used for, or even where it really went. I just knew it might be the thing that would keep my mom and dad from crying. I recall laying next to my grandmother as her health was failing. I was six.

I have grown up in fear. I became as some would say, mildly paranoid. The idea of leaving my children behind without me was more than I could bare. I could not accept the idea that my children would feel the pain I felt when I buried my mother, too young, too soon. My doctor realized my fear. He sat me down when I was about 28 and said, Mary, worrying about developing cancer, will not keep it from happening. But, we can be proactive and if we come to that bridge we will cross it. I listened and I became as proactive as I could be. Now this is not to say that those I love in my lifetime didn't care, or were not proactive. I just means that being as aware of the genetic connection as possible is wise. It is like having a high occurrence of diabetes or heart disease.

I became involved a few years back with the American Cancer Society, this time as a grown woman.My partner Steve and I held a "Making Strides" awareness raiser. A concert where many of my friends came together and we celebrated life with music. We wrote a song titled, "Strides." I wrote for all women and those who love them. Little did I know that within just a couple years I would discover that a cousin was a breast cancer survivor, our first born niece would be a sarcoma survivor and that two of my sisters would be diagnosed with cancer. Too young, too soon.

Here are videos that capture the song and the speech I made for a "Making Strides" kick-off event. The "Strides" video is reflecting my sister Marissa. Please read the article that was so generously written by The Kankakee Daily Journal.

Please consider helping me help my sister.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

(to a familiar song) Goodbye to the Hotel Infofornia!

Every now and then, I get tired of it all.

And, of course, "all" pertains primarily - if not utterly - to internet information.

Which, of course, I'm hypocritically contributing to simply by referring to it.

And that's a strong component of my weariness: to touch it is to necessarily be infected by it.

And thus continues the spiral of the absence of peace of mind also known as information, and thus the weariness.

Information is perhaps the most addicting drug of all, being not merely a chemical affecting the brain that arguably generates the mind. It, swirling about in juxtaposition to other slightly different instantiations of itself, *is* the mind, for there is no mind without mind content.

Which suggests that letting it go is essentially losing your mind.

Or, in the case of online information (mind stuff), most of your modern mind.

Peace of mind, as it turns out, is quite simply absence of mind.

This mind - hopefully soon, I pray - will check out of the sleazy Hotel Infofornia, and once again become more engaged with life than with *about life* (aka information), which is to say return to being its ineffable source than its ephemeral, tumultuous content.

Friday, July 11, 2014

My Mammary of a Medieval Grip!; My Mammogram Memory

Prelude: I am 100% behind annual testing of breasts from as early as 21 if the woman has any form of medical issues and especially if the woman drinks, smokes and/or uses oral contraceptives. I am also 100% behind medical science discovering a better way to diagnose other than the Medieval Mutilators that mammograms can be! What follows is my response to a thread posted at "Women Against Stirrups." While I do reprimand one of Lynn Sage employees, I would still go there again if I were to have any advanced breast issues. 

I begin my post with a picture that was so cleverly posted by the blogger. 

"WOW, these testimonials are frightening. I recently had a diagnostic mammogram, actually I have had many over the past 15 years as I have lost too many to breast cancer and ovarian. 

So, this last one scared me as I have developed chronic regional pain syndrome from a fall I had 18 months ago. I too was considered as hysterical, crazy and workman's comp sent me to a shrink instead of dealing with the massive soft tissue injuries and joint injuries that I sustained. I am wondering if many of the women in this thread actually have RDS, or CRPS which is the way the body reacts in some people, 20% of injuries and trauma result in varying degrees of CRPS, mostly women. YAY hormones! Anyway, we need to remember that a mammogram is a traumatic experience on many levels. You are absolutely right, women's breasts should not be flattened at such and what I underwent this last time is unforgivable on many levels. 

I went to Lynn Sage Breast Center with the Northwestern Medical Center, Chicago. I was very anxiety ridden as 2 of my sisters had been diagnosed with breast cancer the month prior, (how is that for a double whammy!) Knowing Lynn Sage's reputation, I acquiesced and went. I filled out the forms and waited. I was brought back to the cattle trough and told to put on a very unattractive gown, (seriously? After the millions upon billion dollars spent on mammograms can't they come up with something better?) All of these things do not help a woman who is concerned about her tata's! The mammo-techie came out and got me and immediately she laid into me, literally reprimanding me because I did not answer the questions to her satisfaction. I could tell in an instance that she was singling me out for whatever reason...maybe her lover left her for a blond? Who the hell knows. Anyway, after listening to her minimization and making me feel stupid, she conducted the mammo, which was the most painful I have ever experienced. Now, before you go to "you were anxiety ridden that is why it hurt so bad" stop, because while I was emotionally heightened and did not trust her to treat me well, it was the way she did the mammo. Right breast first: She kept tisking as she cold not get enough of my breast up on the shelf. Then she openly complained that my hair was getting in the way. (I have long blond hair which is why I referenced the wounded lover earlier) Next the left: She not only kept complaining that my hair was in the way, but, she pulled my breast so hard that I could feel the skin on my face being pulled. She got it into place, lowered the boom and left me there for way longer than I have ever felt before. "Don't breath" no worries lady, I cannot move. I was told to wait until she got a comparison from prior films, which she also complained about! I saw her come out and get other women and she treated them like they were long lost friends! This only added to my displeasure. Fortunately no identifiable cancer, and the breast health nurse was amazingly kind. 

Later that day I went swimming, on about the 3rd lap, I suddenly got this excruciating burning pain under my left breast. I seriously had to stop in the middle of the pool and feel my breast, I was almost in tears. The chlorinated water, the buoyancy of my breasts, and the rapid movement revealed a massive skin tear under my breast! After I got out of the pool, I showed my partner and he said, "my god, you have a huge tear under there, it was blood red! I applied anti-biotic ointment and it healed after 3 days, however, it is still a little red. No people we are not cattle going to the milking machine. We are human beings and no man would ever inflict this on his penal tissue. There are better diagnostic tools. #1 event if a mammo shows something a woman then undergoes an ultrasound, then a biopsy, further invading her cellular structure and health, then they go through lumpectomies and in many cases only then do they perform more specific advanced diagnostic means. This is all WRONG! My little sister's BC was diagnosed in May and while she went through a biopsy, lumpectomy, she has still not undergone any treatment! She is awaiting an MRI to find out how widespread it is. It is ALL WRONG! What has happened to our medical field? 

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