Monthly Archives: February 2009

One For The Ages

I’ll be 40 years old in a month and I got my first birthday present: an age spot on my arm.

According to this guy, it will be hard to remove.  Thankfully it isn’t large or pronounced, nor is it obvious.  But I know it is there.

For the past eight birthdays, my body has given me a new “You Are Aging!” birthday present.  One year, the skin next to my eyes wasn’t a smooth.  Another year, my backside seemed to have dropped 2 inches (guess I was paying too much attention to my not-flat abs).  Last year, the skin on my hands and arms was missing some elasticity.

I have a friend who spends an incredible amount of money on anti-aging programs.  He has the money to do so – adult children, no spouse.  He had a facelift (and can I tell you it turned out great! He looks like a regular person, just fewer wrinkles) and he gets hormone shots.  I complained in front of him about aging and he said skin is the one area no one has been able to truly turn the tide on.  Which is sad because it is the part every one sees.  Who cares of my heart is the age of a 30 year old if my face looks 50.

My parents gave me the most important anti-aging tool: good genes.  Both my father and mother look extremely young for their age – my dad still has all of his hair at 71 years.  But it is what I have done with those genes that makes the difference.  I have never been much of a sun worshiper since I burn and once I turned 30 I got very serious about my skin.  But, again, the tide can’t be turned once it comes in.  Lines don’t actually fade.  Skin can’t get more taught once it loses its spring.  Brown spots stay brown.

Can you tell this bothers me?

I could go into my psychology about beauty, my personal looks, my mother, etc.  I don’t know that it would help though.  I could blame it on “society” and the pressure to look young.   I do, actually, look young…for 40.  Isn’t that the game?

Here’s my real problem: I focus on what could have been but wasn’t.  My lifestyle has changed but my mind-set hasn’t.  I’ve been married for 8 years but I still want to be attractive – to men.  I am no longer someone in any kind of spotlight but I continue to worry about being presentable.  I don’t have to compete for anything using my looks, but I still want to be envied for them.  If I give up these tendencies, though, will I let it all go to Hell and be just another mom in a pair of sweatpants at the park?  Perish the thought!

I’ll never be one of those moms that looks amazing in a bikini – not my body type.  But I’d like to be pretty for the rest of my life.  I’d like to strive for turning heads when I walk into a room, like my mother does.  You are welcome to judge me as shallow and self-focused.  That won’t be anything new and is unlikely to change.  What I would like to change is worrying about every new case of aging evidence without giving up completely.  How have you dealt with growing older, or other transitions that are indisputable? Or how have you tried to fight it?

UPDATE: I’ve had lots of views (awesome!) but almost no comments.  Really want to know how you are dealing with aging.  Really!

Take Care of My Mommy. She’s The Only One I Have


My mom is going to have open heart surgery in April.

A couple of years ago she had a heart attack – not the “grab your heart kind” but a “didn’t know I had one” kind that health experts keep talking about.  As a result, she had a stint put into one artery.  My mom got a wake up call and began to exercise 4 days a week and eat a little healthier.  Doctors kept saying everything looked good.  But recently, fluid gathered around her heart making breathing difficult and after 300 cc’s of the fluid was removed from her chest, the doctors discovered the culprit is a bad valve.  Plus they found two other not so good valves.  And two arteries that really need to be bypassed.  So they are going in.

I am scared.  I understand that operating on a beating heart is common these days, yet I am having trouble getting over it being done to my Mommy.  That’s my Mommy we are talking about.  I feel so young and helpless.   I am terrified of her dying on the operating table, leaving me without a Mom and my daughter without a Nana.  I just found out yesterday, so the news is pretty raw, but I can’t live like this.   This level of worry isn’t healthy for anyone.

Your advice is greatly needed.  I can talk to the many doctors our family knows and get lots of information.  I can read about the surgery online, probably even rent a movie about the history of the operation from Netflix (I saw the one about how bypass surgery was discovered, actually).  I could not learn anything and just hope the worry goes away.  I’ve got 6 weeks before it happens, and then I’ll be going in to help care for her as she heals (Mom is in Michigan, I’m in Texas).  What do I do with myself for 6 weeks? How do I manage the fear and worry?  How have you handled major family operations like this?

Give me what you got.  I am going to need it.

Sales Job Moving Forward, My Soul Still Intact

Quick Update on the Sales Job: I set one meeting for April and my boss set another meeting (will be my account if we get a project) in March.

It’s something.

An Affair to Avoid

I work out at a gym and see lots of very fit people.   One woman, I don’t know her name, is a sight to behold.  She obviously works out every day and eats nothing with fat.  Always dressed in skimpy, stomach-bearing work out clothing, she seems to shine while she exercises.  Hell, I would shine, too, if I knew that every person who walked by looked at me and said “Wow” under their breath.

J and I recently rehired our trainer, Steve, and on our first day of forced strenuous exercise, we walked by this woman.   Once we all whispered “Wow” to ourselves, Steve said, “That woman worked out with a trainer for 9 months.  She was 190 lbs. after her second child and now look at her.  She is in here twice a day.”

My first thought was, “Who is taking care of her children while she works out?”  (I know she has kids, I’ve seen them.)  Then I had another opinion: all that focus on her body is going to be exaggerated in her children.  Kids don’t understand moderation.  They simply mimic and mostly they mimic their parents.  Any child who sees her mother fret over calories will begin to fret over calories without the understand of what that means.  I expressed something like this to Steve but he thought I was nuts.  “But she’s so healthy!”  He doesn’t have children, so he doesn’t get how children think.  I simply shook my head.

At home, J made a comment about how flirty the woman acted.  “Maybe she comes to the gym so much because she’s having an affair,” J threw out there.  I didn’t think it was fair to assume that flirt equals affair.  And an affair is a heavy accusation to make.

In our next meeting with Steve, I brought up this woman again to make my point about her parenting skills (because I just can’t let go) and Steve interrupts me. “Oh!  Didn’t I tell you?  Her husband called the next day and canceled her membership when he found out she was having an affair.  She’s done at the end of the month.”  That put our conversation to rest.  But I didn’t stop thinking about her.

As J and I walked out of the gym, I became very, very sad for the children.  For the first time, the impact of an affair on the kids hit me in visceral way.  A child’s world is made up of the adults who care for him/her.  In this case, Mommy and Daddy.  To process the affair (“Mommy loves some other man?”), their world view will have to be destroyed.  And the destruction of that world made me sad for those kids.  And if they don’t know about the affair, they will have to make up reasons why Daddy is so mad at Mommy that even if she apologizes, it won’t “make it better.”  That is a scary world to live in.

I explained this to J and his response was enlightening. “Well, insecurity is costly.  Obviously, this woman was insecure about herself, and when working on her body wasn’t enough, she had an affair to feel better about herself.”  Whether or not this is true, we don’t know.  But I thought about my own insecurities and how they effect our family.  When I am feeling insecure, I get angry and lash out.  That makes me unpredictable, another fear children have.  They need security, and for them that comes in the form of predictability.  That hit me hard.  I thought about L’s sweet little face and how much she needs me to be Mommy so she can develop her own confidence.  I can’t be perfect, but I can be honest when I am feeling lousy about myself and not take it out on my family, something I tell Lillian not to do.

The experience of seeing myself in another person with different circumstances isn’t new to me.  But I was surprised how much the cost of her (assumed) insecurity hit home and how it changed me.  I guess I have her to thank for helping me be a better mom.  I hope that she has a similar insight about herself someday.  And for the sake of her kids, soon.

I’ll Be There If He Will Let Me

Thanks to all who commented on my latest post. Your thoughts and experience gave me a lot to think about.

First, how sad that we have friends and family who are addicts in some way. I don’t mean, “Addicted to Chocolate.” I mean, real, diagnosed addicts. I am fortunate that my addict connection lives far away – I am not impacted like most of those who commented. You all are strong and smart in how you dealt with it, Thank you for shared your story with me.

Second, you commentators really cut to the chase on this one! I love that.  I took away that I can offer my support and my perspective and Uncle D will do with it what he will. Once I communicate, my part is done. He will get help, he will continue on this path…it is up to him.

With that in mind, I have decided to write him a letter that asks him to get help for himself. I will address his relationship in the barest of terms so as not to make him feel defensive and to focus on the person I actually love: him. I am going to share with him my fears (on his behalf), express regret that we are not closer, and tell him, under no uncertain terms, that I love him dearly.

I will send the letter (not email) with hope but no expectations. It is the least I can do to help someone who struggles to help himself.

Don’t I Need To Be There to “Be There”?

My mother’s brother is my favorite uncle.  We will call him “D.”  He lives in the South.

When I was three years old or so, D lived with us for a spell, apparently sleeping in our basement.  I suppose that his time living with our family brought us closer because I was so young – I didn’t go to school so I was around to play with.  However it happened, we created a bond.  His nickname for me was “Peanut,” and only he used it, which suited me fine.

D is the kind of uncle that gives love whenever requested.  He is still a Hippie in many ways – always wanted to use his creativity to support himself and even as he has gotten more business savvy over the years he never gave up that goal.  He set an example of us of following what is in your heart even when the world disagrees.  Whenever I needed to know that going up against my parents was okay, he was there to reassure me.  “Find your own path,” D would say softly.  “It is okay to be your own person.”

D had a first wife who was ill for most of their relationship.  This woman was very vocal about me being my own person – I suspect my parents thought it was to my detriment, but I loved her spirit.  Were they the perfect couple? No.  But I loved his first wife for herself, even if she wasn’t a fabulous partner.  A few years ago, they divorced.

After the divorce, D met another woman.  We were all hopeful that she would provide the kind of tenderness and support my uncle needs.  Unfortunately, it has not turned out that way.  Most disturbing is she is an alcoholic.  To be very, very clear, I do not judge her on this fact.  I even have sympathy for her disease – I have seen enough “Intervention” episodes to know that drug addicts are diseased, not simply lacking in self-control.  She has problems and those problems need to be addressed by professionals.  Problem is, they aren’t.

In December, I visited my parents with my daughter and Uncle D came up for a few days.  My mother prepped me with his supposed determination to end the relationship. Unfortunately, my uncle is no less co-dependent than this woman.  While we would like nothing more than for him to toss her out with a few hundred dollars and a shelter bed reserved, he won’t do it, or anything close to asking her to leave no matter how many times he tells my mom he is planning to.  He just puts the date off.

When a big dust-up occurred during my mother’s birthday weekend, where D’s girlfriend became severely intoxicated and said insulting things to our family, I communicated with him about the situation.  He said that his ex-wife’s family is more his family than we are, since we haven’t lived near each other in 30 years.  It was hard to hear, but I understood.  Still, it also caused me to move away from him and be less involved.

Now he says he wants out and I know he can’t do it by himself.  I worry that he will live with this woman until he dies, never having the peace and love he deserves (from someone else or simply from himself).  I help my mother with what to say to him for support, but is that enough?  Should I offer my advice or my shoulder to cry on, or stay out of it completely?  Do I honor him by asking to be involved or honor him by saying nothing?  How can I express my deep, deep love for him if I pretend like nothing is happening, or is that the same thing?

Back to Reality (Update from Sales post)

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on the “sales” post. Most of the comments were about how people are in the same boat. That helped, actually. Knowing I am not alone (and getting a couple of pointers like, “deep breath before each call”) got me over my worries.

Yesterday, I made my calls. I don’t have too many, and I made them with loads of confidence. Even when I got someone on the phone and, after greeting me with much enthusiasm, the potential client asked me what project we had previously talked about and I COULDN’T REMEMBER! (Perhaps the next step is to prepare for each call.)

Also, I emailed a member of my book club and asked her to connect me with her husband who works for a consumer product company right here in my city. I had been promising myself to do that for 6 months. Did it! She agreed to the introduction and now the husband asked me to call him to help. This is a huge company that we have been trying to get into for years now.

A girlfriend gave me some perspective that was kind of hard to hear because I hate to sound ungrateful for what I have already. But it was good perspective. She reminded me that I am fortunate to have the choice to work or not (basic needs like a roof over our head are covered). That comment got me on the phone, calling. See, if I have the opportunity to do something that will move our family forward, I owe it to our family and to myself to do it. I know that we are very fortunate on this very day because my husband has a job. Tomorrow, well, who knows, right?

I am turning my focus from me and my fears and on to what is important to our family. And next week, when I go back to call these same people again, I will read your comments for courage and perspective (cuz you know I would rather be watching Scrubs).

And when I get my first project of 2009, I will let you know!

Apparently, A Soul is Worth One House.

I have only owned one home, for 7 months in Illinois.  My first night in it, I never felt more relaxed and satisfied.  Regardless of boxes to unpack or being strangers in the neighborhood, I had an overwhelming feeling of happiness.  I was in MY home.  It was luscious.

Soon after that we had to move again.  I cried for days.  While desperate to buy a new home in Texas, my husband and I decided to wait until we felt the economy (and thus his job situation) felt stable enough to make buying a home a safe idea.  That was a year and a half ago.  We continue to rent.

Since moving here, J and I have participated in “real estate porn”:  We look online at housing prices, we even got an agent and looked at used homes, and we’ve probably seen every new housing development in the county.  At some point, I couldn’t take the tease any more.  We would look, but J would say we aren’t financially ready.  So I asked: How much money would we need to have for him to feel comfortable?  His answer: double what we have in our savings.

Now for the reality check: J has a job but his salary won’t be increasing any time soon.  My book idea that could be an entire motivational products empire is still in draft form.  My brand design and marketing communications company is extremely quiet and needs to be revamped.

And then there is my sales job (and the point of this post).

Before I had my daughter, L, I worked for a Creative Marketing company.  I began as a leader of their focus groups but, on the great advice of J, I took on other responsibilities and made myself indispensable.  Until 4 years later when I was laid off.  I continued to perform some duties as a freelancer, but over time these duties were given to others.  When I announced to my boss that I was moving to Illinois, he offered a sales position.  Chicago is home to many consumer product companies (think, “Anything I can buy in a grocery store”) and since I know the business and his particular process inside and out, it seemed like a perfect fit.

I have been at the job for two years now (even after moving to Texas) and have only landed one project.  My problem is I hate cold calling.  I hate the nervousness before picking up the phone, having to be eternally grateful for having 30 seconds of their time and then having only 30 seconds to tell them why they should answer my call in the future.  I hate grovelling to them for their attention.  And I hate being blown off.  I feel like an idiot.

On the other hand, the money is goooooood.  Seriously good.  And I am fine once we set a meeting.  And I love working on the projects.  I get to be a part of a project, do a little creative work, go to meetings, get out of Mommy mode.

If I sold four projects, we would be at our savings goal (that includes withholding for taxes).   Doesn’t sound like a lot, right? But I have only sold 1 in 2 years!  Sometimes we gain momentum with contacts, but no momentum in selling.  So it takes a lot of cold calling, or extremely luke warm calling.  I already mentioned how much I hate that, right?

I find other things to do, knowing I am breaking my promise to myself, my husband and my boss.  I write my book, I work on my blog, I clean the bathroom.  And yet, I complain about what I don’t have.  I said I was going to give the job 3 months after the holidays and then, if no momentum is building, quit.  But how can it build momentum if I don’t do the work?

Here’s what I want to know: have you ever, in your deep, dark past, done a job you really didn’t like for a bigger long term goal.  Is it worth it?  What have you done that didn’t itself bring you joy in order to achieve joy later?