You are the special occasion

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If you are anything like me, and having surgery after surgery or illness after illness or maybe you have mishap after mishap. Maybe you are going through rejection, or a divorce and you are feeling a little like “why am I here?”

Did you know the probability of you being you (and being born) is over 400 quadrillion? That’s just the probability of the right sperm and the right egg to make you! That doesn’t include the probability of your father and mother getting together to make you, or even the probability of all your ancestors living long enough to successfully reproduce. There is a whole lot of math involved and I am not sure if I could really explain it clearly but I think 400 quadrillion (which is only taking into consideration one aspect of the probability), is a large enough number to help you understand how amazing (and miraculous) your presence is.

You were meant to be here! Even if you were told you were a “surprise” or “an accident” (Hopefully no one tells you this), the probability of you being here – reading this blog is quite the miracle (maybe the fact that you are reading this blog is my miracle – ha ha). So what am I asking you do with this information?
Well, don’t save the fine china for the Queen to arrive at your home. Use the good glasses at the back of the cupboard. Use the fancy shampoo, sleep in your fancy bedsheets, and use your good towels (don’t save them for guests).
Basically – don’t save things for a special occasion when YOU ARE THE SPECIAL OCCASION.
So take care of yourself because there is only one of you – and treat yourself like the king or queen that you are!

Don’t have anything special?Find what you are looking for below.
Fine China
Fancy glasses
Fancy bedsheets
Fancy Bath Towels

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How to pick the right doctor…

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Sometimes it’s hard to explain this to someone – especially when they are desperately in need of help but it’s you as the patient who gets to be choosy! For you to choose the right doctor you need guts to stand up for yourself.
One of my favorite doctors would say “Jenny, doctors may be experts in textbook cases and what they have experienced – but only you are the expert of you.” He went on to explain why it’s important to listen to the patient… so If I could choose the first criteria for the right doctor:
1. The doctor must listen to you – They must listen respectfully, and they must be more interested in your voice over hearing their “own expert voice”.
The right doctor realizes they don’t know everything and there may be things they have never encountered or understood. In fact, I was explaining in my last most recent checkup to my surgeon – that I have been told a lot of my symptoms (now explained) was all in my head by previous doctors. He cringed as he had proof and and offered to send them proof (ha ha) but then he said “Try not to be too hard on them Jenny, you have a very VERY unique case – most doctors wouldn’t know what to do with you.” My response… in which he seemed to agree with a nod was “Well, don’t tell me it’s in my head tell me you don’t know. A good doctor will not be so concerned about his ego that he/she that they would rather tell you it’s in your head than explain that all their many many years of training hasn’t prepared them for you. So my second criteria to look for:
2. A good doctor wont be afraid to tell you that they don’t know – This also goes for multiple times you might be misdiagnosed. It is so easy to diagnose someone that might fit “most” of the categories instead of thinking that maybe it’s something different. For years I was diagnosed with “ANA negative Lupus”. Then one day a doctor told me “don’t be silly – do your research! There is no such thing – they just told you that because they couldn’t figure out what you had”. This doctor didn’t stay with the clinic for long – but I liked that she gave me a bit of a kick in the right direction – and realizing that I had been misdiagnosed.
3. Don’t have a doctor who is always going to think worst case scenario – sure – it’s their job to THINK of the worst case scenario but if that’s the ONLY scenario they are telling you – you don’t want that. Run away. Your doctor needs to be aware of risks (if you are going through surgery etc..) but also stay positive in what good could come out of it. My surgeon kept telling me that the odds were not in my favor but he kept saying “if you can keep thinking about – if you get through this – that you will feel better than you have ever felt in your entire life, then that would be a good thing to focus on”. (Robin Roberts talks about this in her book link here and below)
AND MOST OF ALL – most favorite one is:
4. A good doctor wont tell you it’s all in your head. A good doctor actually gets distressed when they have patients who come in and tell them this is what they have been told. A good doctor will see your pain as valid. I had a horrific incident where I was having seizures and the doctor who saw me tried to tell me that I was under a lot of stress and that I just needed to see a psychologist. She then said I could walk to the CT room myself if I was determined to get one. I was so desperate to get some help I tried walking (they had separated my husband from me – in case it was a “case of abuse”) and with no help or even anyone watching me – I remember running into the wall and not able to see straight. DIS. GUS. TING. I wish I knew then what I know now, I would have told the doctor to shove it. You see when you are desperate – some (horrible narcissistic) doctors will see that as a sign that you have to do everything they say – YOU DO NOT. She could have told me to bark like a dog and I probably would have done it – and that is a serious abuse of power. I kept asking people for her name (after I got better and had energy to fight for myself) as I was going to write a complaint – but all I got told was that she was a doctor in training etc etc and she was no longer here at the hospital.  I shudder to think that there are doctors out there lose in the world out there treating patients like that. The only thing that saved me that day was a man who was working with her, he bent down and whispered in my ear “get help somewhere else”. He was afraid to stand up to her – he could lose his job but he had this look of absolute pain of seeing the way I was treated and helped me realize I had a choice. Doctors like that should be locked up. ANYONE – including animals – deserve better than that treatment. I saw a similar doctor in a different hospital – who quite literally treated the woman in the bed next to me horribly. The woman next to me was suffering a miscarriage (and it obviously wasn’t her first by what the doctor said next). The female doctor came in and said to the patient “Do you get this emotional with all your miscarriages or is it just this one?” Don’t get me started….

The other problem is – there is sexism – as a woman you are several times more likely to be told it’s in your head, also, doctors are willing to downplay your symptoms more especially if it’s related to the female illnesses. Science has proven this bias (although it is improving) – but please…. Please know that you deserve to fight for yourself and only you are the expert of you. YOU have a choice.

Want to read more about someone who had to be choosy with her doctors? I love Everybody’s Got Something by Robin Roberts.

When you are “too white”…

kids

Yes, you read that right. I’m taking about being too white.
This blog entry is dedicated to those that understand the comments you get if you are super-pale.
Once again the subject of my children’s skin color came up in conversation today. It happens. One shade whiter and I’m sure they could be mistaken for being albino.
I had an Asian man who would work in my house a couple of years ago and he would stop and stare at the pictures of my kids and  I would say “What?” and he would say “your kids are so white! I have never seen kids so white before”.
Umm.. so that’s a conversation starter.
He had to mention how he has never seen children that white every single time he was in our house. So I got used to it… and learned not to take it personally.
My daughter also passes out every once in a while and we don’t know what the cause is – but every time she has ended up at the hospital they look at her and say “Oh, she is super white, is she always this white?” Uhh… yes. That’s how white my kids are – so white they look sick. In fact doctors are always sure my daughter has undiagnosed anemia as she is so pale… and they are always shocked she isn’t anemic. That’s how white my daughter is – “We’re shocked she isn’t anemic” white (see how many shades of white there are?).

Anyway, once again today it was discussed… “Wow, I could tell your daughter was sick today – she looked even whiter than normal… is that even possible?? I thought she was pretty white already, but I guess she can get whiter”.

And with that I’m done… if anyone else has hilarious white comments to share (I don’t take these personally and they are pretty funny to tell friends over a beer or wine) please write them in the comments.

Either way – if you can tan, my family is in awe that you don’t blend in with a white-painted wall and we kind of envy that there is a bit of color to your skin.

Hope I was able to make you giggle at the start of your week.
Jen

Tired of blending into a white wall? Buy yourself a dark T shirt so people can spot you.

Writing should make you feel like Royalty…

art carving close up crown
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I love to write and it  has been my first love since I can remember.
I have a friend who is obsessed with pens and paper more than I am (which is hard to believe).
Being part American he asked me why Americans have yellow pencils with yellow legal pads. After responding with “because they have yellow school busses?” I explained that this isn’t knowledge I carried around with me about my home country.
After doing a bit of research we discovered there are many theories behind the legal yellow pad but no real facts about why legal pads are yellow. The pencils, however, had definite thought put into it (Have I lost you as a reader already?? I can’t believe this – surely this information has you on the edge of your seat).
The first pencils had Chinese lead, and YELLOW was the color associated with royalty in China. The idea was, that when you use a pencil, you were meant to feel like royalty.
Gives a whole different meaning to that beautiful pencil quote from “You’ve got Mail”:
pencils

As we talked about pencils (I know… thrilling isn’t it?) it hit me that there are feelings I wish we could feel for the first time again. One of them was the innocence of getting excited about the “technology” of a mechanical pencil – and how you can carry .05 or .07 lead around in that pencil with replaceable erasers. I remember thinking how sophisticated I was when I got my first mechanical pencil. This feeling just doesn’t exist anymore…
Times have changed where we are in the age of the internet. MySpace was a huge NEW concept – that changed the world for writers and now it is a common thing for many people to have a blog.

The thing is, I still get a smile on my face when I see a sharpened pencil – maybe because I think of all the possibilities of what I could write or draw with it. It’s the idea of possibility that comes into my mind when I see a pencil of unspoken words and thoughts and ideas. I certainly don’t get that feeling when I text someone.

Anyway, the humble little yellow pencil may not mean or be worth as much as an iPad or iPhone these days – it’s still lovely to remember that when pencils was all we had (before all this amazing technology), that the intention of a yellow was to make you feel as special as royalty when you used it. What could make you feel more rich than the possibility of communicating your ideas and thoughts onto paper?
Happy Blogging…

(Get yourself a set of Yellow Pencils here)

Stress isn’t actually bad for you…

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One of my favorite shows is Todd Sampson’s show Body Hack 2.0. Todd (in all of his shows) displays how amazing the body really is – and really showcases how much the brain has control over. I wasn’t a huge fan of the episode in India – but the most intense and amazing show I have seen to date is the episode where Todd Sampson spends time in the most dangerous part of the world with the Iraqi Army. He shows how the soldiers’ bodies have become used to stress and how his body responded differently to that stress. He sites a study supporting the level of stress the soldiers endure explaining that stress isn’t  bad for you unless you think it is.

This agreed with part of the philosophy I have had in life – which is telling myself “I can handle it”, and “stress will only bother my health if I let it”. When it registered to me I was going through a stressful situation (i.e. when doctors warned me I probably wouldn’t survive very long), I told myself “to bring it on” and that I would get through it because I believe I will. I changed my perception of the situation by telling myself that when I overcame the odds given to me and LIVED that it would be a great story to tell my friends at a pub with a beer…

I found this study published in Forbes, and the statistics linked to it with further examples of the power of the mind. I loved this because I really cannot change the stress that is in my life – I am not sure even if there is a way to cut a lot of stress out. There are just stresses that are so high that I just have to accept or I would be abandoning everyone – including myself. That isn’t an option. So for me to cope, I’ve had to accept that life is stressful – and I just have to think differently about it – and change my perception.

I find this study so encouraging because a lot of us cannot get away – we have to look after an ailing parent or a disabled child, or a death of a loved one. However if we BELIEVE that stress isn’t going to hurt us – that we welcome it and accept it and learn to live with the perception that stress is helpful (which it can be), then this changes the game for us.

I, for one, am so exhausted of hearing how stress can shorten one’s life, with their immune system or toxicity etc etc.  The understanding that my brain actually has control over whether stress hurts me or not gives me freedom – and I hope it does for you too.

You can find out more about your control of the perception of stress in the book The Upside of Stress by Dr Kelly McGonigal. I hope your week is not stressful, but if it is… I hope you have the chance to welcome it.

Have a great week.

Change of Attitude

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A huge revelation came when I was working through writers block:
I often talk about how we need to change ourselves to change our world, and I often do challenge myself with changing when I set goals and figure out how to do better and be better.
There are times when a situation can trigger an “old tape” that plays in our head that feeds on the insecurity or hurt of a memory. This happened without me being aware, that resulted in writers block.
Having had to deal with health problems since I can remember, I have felt at times a burden. I have people literally tell me when I have taken on a new project “You can’t do that, you are sick!” It hits me that some people who have never really dealt with real health issues may not be able to express empathy to those who have health challenges. They also cannot view those with health challenges clearly or see what they can offer and treat those people with limitations as limited. This is a challenge on top of physical and/or mental health issues.

Recently a poorly organised project actually saw me being excluded with helping someone who I know and care about. The thing is, it wasn’t personal, there were a few people who wanted to be included in the project that didn’t even get asked (I was at least asked – just asked at the very last hour in which it was too late). Even though logically I knew it wasn’t personal, it really fed on the insecurity of being overlooked or being perceived as “too sick” to help and serve others and started edging to the insecurity of feeling like a burden.

Serving others is a privilege. It is absolutely necessary for mental health to know you can do something for other people. When you are physically unable to help others – you can start feeling like a burden which is the number one red-flag feeling that causes people to fall into depression and suicidal thoughts.

One of the most interesting suggestions for people who deal with depression is to start doing things for other people.

As I started realizing that I was more upset about this than I should be, because it triggered thoughts of not being helpful and being a burden – I was able to tackle these feelings head on. I, for one, am quite sick those insecurities – and I was determined that a situation in which I had no control of was not going to control me.

I remembered times when I felt like I was giving back, even when I am not financially able to help people out in the way that I would like. I used to write more cards, call people, or visit those that can’t get out of their house or nursing home. Sometimes just sending a text saying I was thinking of them was enough. I had stopped because of the recent procedure and all the hospital stuff I had to go through. I had stopped because I was the one who was in need and I needed to take care of myself, but you can only be in need for so long before you have to change that attitude and realize it’s time to change. It’s time to find ways of giving back, and no matter what our limitations – to help others.

One of the most amazing women I have ever met who is no longer living, had severe MS. It was So bad that she had nurses around the clock to do everything for her. She would make her nurses sit down and write cards for her while she dictated them. I have a couple of her cards. They would say how she was praying for me and I was in her thoughts. Some of the most thoughtful people are the sickest people. Why? They can’t do anything there but sit and think about everyone else. It was humbling to think that a woman who was bedridden would still find a way to make the effort to encourage others.

So with giving myself a good kick (you know where), I realized I don’t need to wait to find out if I am included on “big giving projects”. Depending on your ability (and financial situation)- you can use your skills to organize your own projects – big or small, to help others. It takes your mind off of whatever your brain is telling you what you can’t do… and reminds you of what you CAN do.
So my challenge to you is to find a way to brighten up someone else’s day! Please let me know how you go!

Writers Block

design desk display eyewear
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So, Lately I’ve been writing blogs and then deleting them. I don’t feel right, and I don’t feel genuine about my work. It just doesn’t feel good to publish. Which is a weird thing for me, I love publishing my work, I love just writing, even if no one reads it. It’s soothing to me to write everything on my mind.

However, lately I have been kept awake at night, my mind racing with words as I have not written them out or even found a way I feel comfortable with expressing them at the moment.

I usually can think of 2-5 different blogs in one day, but lately if I think of anything I become seriously in doubt with myself. I have been silent on here a while – not wanting to write a mediocre blog – and yet when I publish – within minutes to hours of publishing I press the trash button as I have convinced myself that what I have written is stupid.

I don’t like feeling this way, but I am sure most of the actual readers (not the spambots) will relate and I just wanted to be honest with my readers.

Please share in the comments section if you have any thoughts on how you deal with writers block and ways you have gotten yourself out of it.

Thanks for still being loyal.
Jen