Monday, October 08, 2012
If your child was facing a life threatening illness, would you take action? Of course you would. Yet, seemingly little action is being taken to confront childhood obesity. It’s common knowledge that there is a significant increase in childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes in children; this was nearly unheard of a decade ago.
A quick observation of children today makes this clear. Few would argue that we see far too many overweight, even obese children. Teenagers with the fat rolling over their waistbands and exposed stomachs walk around as if this is the new “in.” As a society we cannot be fooled by this. It is not “in” to be an overweight or obese child or teen.
Most importantly, obesity is not healthy. Obesity is a grave health concern, especially in children. Childhood obesity leads to the higher risk of poor health, and contributes to becoming an unhealthy adult. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease are linked to obesity.
Despite the well known health concerns, some mothers have cautioned that we need to be very “gentle” in dealing with our child’s weight issues. No authority figure has a right to tell you how to speak with your children about their health. Remember, you are the gatekeeper of your health and your children’s health. This is more than your right; it is your duty to help your children.
Recently, a mother shared with me that her youngest daughter was overweight. She herself was fit and ate well. However, her daughter ate like her “husband’s side of the family;” all of them are overweight. She continued to tell me that an article she read said parents should be careful, and even discouraged them in speaking with their children about being overweight.
Her dilemma was that she knew her child should not eat as much. She knew her daughter was on a bad trend. But more importantly, she didn’t want to “hurt” her daughter’s feelings or dampen her self-esteem. This mother was clearly struggling within. Her solution was to do nothing. I suggested that she not buy junk food and snacks and not bring them into the house. Her excuse was her husband purchased junk foods, and brought them home.
This is one example of a common situation in which a mother is conscientious about what she eats, but her children are overweight. The truth is children who are obese have more issues with self-esteem than those of normal weight.
Heckling, laughing, being left out, and being the “brunt” of children’s jokes are far worse for a child’s self-esteem than a mother’s intervention to help her child with weight issues. The earlier in life you intervene, the better it will be for your child.
Mothers are in charge of their children’s health. You are in charge of the food that comes into your home. When you grocery shop make sure your choices are healthy ones. Prepare healthy meals with fresh foods instead of fast foods. The time to teach your child healthy choices, good diet and the positive outcome is at a very early age.
A poor diet of high fat, high sugar, and high calorie foods that taste good, “fill” children’s stomachs on a budget, or make them “feel good” takes hold for life.
At the first sign that your children are on an unhealthy eating trend, communicate with them. Help them get back on track. Go over choices they make inside and outside the home. Speak to them about negative consequences of continued poor choices. Appeal to their intelligence and their desire to feel good and be healthy.
Teach your children the skills to choose and prepare healthy food early in life. Help them associate the pleasure and benefits of eating healthy, tasty food with the pleasure of good mental focus, and sustainable physical energy that will follow. This is something children want; it is up to you to help them make the connection to eating well and feeling well. With this will come a healthy self-esteem.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Many of us have been so busy raising children and doing all that goes along with this that we often don’t have the time to think about ourselves. Raising healthy, intelligent, and productive children is no small task and is a major contribution to society. Along with raising children we often balance some type of career, friendships, and social contribution.
In our high-paced world and doing what it takes to just keep up, it feels as if we may be spending our health and well-being trying to do all the right things for everyone else. Many of us have trouble with boundaries and great difficulty saying no to another request of our time and energy. The totality of all these activities oftentimes runs us ragged and wears us down – even compromising our own health.
In talking with so many women over the years I’ve noticed far too often that the eventual outcome is feeling energy depleted, which invariably goes along with a poor mood, feeling stuck, and in many cases feeling rather depressed – as if life has somehow passed them by. It just wasn’t how we thought it was going to be as young girls reading our childhood stories. Where is that knight in shining armor? Where is the man who was going to swoop me off my feet, romance me, and treat me like a queen? When I was a little girl, I never dreamed that I would be the one that needed to be so much in charge.
These feelings leave many of us searching for answers, meaningful answers. Yes, there comes a day when all the children are out of the house and the burden of making sure those you have brought into the world are doing well is somewhat lightened. Now what?
There are really only two choices. One is to look at your life and keep thinking about how it isn’t what you expected it to be – a view that invariably makes you feel that others lack appreciation and still do not give you the recognition for all that you have done for them. This view also carries with it the rather uncomfortable feeling that your life is somehow irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
Then there is the other choice, the one where you are your own knight in shining armor, and you are sweeping the world off its feet. Well, O.K., your plan doesn’t have to be that grand, but your attitude does.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there are only a few simple keys to a relevant life.
The first requirement is to put more into society than you take out. Most of us have already done that and yet still feel something is missing – so the issue is continuing to do that in a way that is self-gratifying. Be certain that you do not succumb to what it is that you feel you are supposed to do at this time in your life, or what others feel you should do. It is important to take the time to reflect within and find what it is that will truly make you happy. What could you do that would help others and be fun for you? Or, what could you do that would just be fun and help you to become a happier, healthier you? Others will see you as an example to follow.
The next question is simple, but the answer may not be clear at first. What do you want to do now to make a difference? How do you want to be remembered when all is said and done?
We need to go back into our past desires and wishes and look for a dream or a purpose worth pursing. Or maybe we just need to come up with something brand new. It has to be fun, it has to present a challenge, it has to be self-fulfilling, and it has to be worthwhile. That is a tall order, yet it is essential to move your life in this direction.
Remember, this is a path and an attitude. Small steps count. You just have to get started and get moving. Take that bold first step. Why not? Even if you do not fully succeed at it, at least you tried thus there will be no regrets. The chances you will succeed are very high if you follow this path. You are given this day, use it fully, accept it as a gift. It is your day to do what you can do and create your life so that you are able to do more and more in this regard. It is never too late to follow your dreams.
When you consistently follow your dreams that make a benefit and statement in the world, large or small, then you will have no problem answering the question as to whether or not your life is relevant. And, that will make you very happy.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
I have always said that I have learned the most in my life in the school of “hard knocks”. The song from Little Orphan Annie comes to mind, It’s a Hard Knock Life. At age eight I was cleaning floors, cleaning bathrooms in full, scrubbing our bathtub, sink, toilet and floor from top to bottom. On Thursdays I cleaned the upstairs, Friday the downstairs. Our kitchen floor seemed very large, on my hands and knees cleaning it, wiping it from one corner to the other.
I was taught reading, writing and arithmetic but did not have a teacher in what I call “street” smarts. I was quite sheltered as a young child working to fend for myself in a very large family.
Much of what I learned was from trial and error. Yes, I had guidance and rules to follow but some of it did not make sense. When it came to making decisions in my life, I depended largely on myself to make quick decisions in each and every situation. I either sank or swam. If I did not succeed I contemplated the process and learned better ways to do things. I learned what to do and what not to repeat.
Looking back on my life I see that my past decisions have made a large impact on who I am today. If I had not gone through one tough situation or another, I would not have learned the many valuable lessons. Like many of you, I feel I could write a book based on wisdom, on how to avoid unnecessary mistakes, and how to make the most of life as smoothly as possible. I wish I had read such a book as a young girl.
Where are the wise words of today? Many of the youth of these days seem to have the idea that they are smarter than adults. Look at the programming they have received. As a child I watched Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best where the father was portrayed as the leader of the family, with the mother showing common sense as well. Our children have been exposed to shows such as Married with Children where the family is dysfunctional with parents that are far from good parental role models. Then, there is The Simpsons whereby the daughter, Lisa, is depicted as quite a bit smarter than her father, Homer. And, the mother, though brighter than he, seems out of control. Do younger generations who grew up with this and other such shows, really feel they are smarter or know better than their parents? Is it worse now than when we were kids?
We, now more than ever, need to take on our responsibility and impart our wisdom – our lessons to those younger. It feels good to help another person to avoid the same kind of mistakes and to make their lives flow more smoothly.
As a parent I have seen the cycle that my children went through, where many times especially through their teens, I thought they did not listen to me. I see them now as kind, helpful young adults and realize they did hear me.
In June of this year I will be a grandmother, this is hard to believe. I still feel like the little girl at my grandparent’s farm helping my grandfather to harvest his vegetables. They were so good. Those were the days. From my grandmother, Helen, I learned that being a strong and skilled young woman would ultimately bring me much happiness later in my life. Now at the doorway of grand-mother hood, what message will I impart to my grand-child?
I will suggest, always be true to yourself and your own convictions. Do not let others sway you and do not feel compelled due to external pressures to do something that you do not want to do.
Remember that the one person that you will live with for the rest of your life is you. You need to be able to face yourself each and every day and be proud of who you are. Love yourself for being the strong, helpful person that you are.
Make it your day, your week, your month, and year to share your wisdom with another. Write that poem, share your story, your inner wisdom that makes you who you are today.
Leave your enlightened footprints for others to learn from and follow.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Back in 1963 I was sound asleep when all of a sudden I was awakened by a white light that seemed to flicker in front of my face. Startled, I sat up in my bed and with my eyes wide open followed the light around my room. It was floating as if dancing a ballet.
It was vivid and clear, I pinched myself to see if I was dreaming. To my dismay I was indeed awake. I wished I had been sleeping as it would have been easier if I had not had to figure this out.
There had to be a logical explanation, I knew. Could it be my pesky brother playing a trick on me – shining a flashlight from outside my bedroom to fool me? No, my door was closed and my blinds were shut. The light was not coming from outside my room.
An eerie feeling began to settle in. I pulled my blanket closer as if it would protect me. I listened and noticed that all of my six siblings and my parents were sound asleep. The house was quiet; the only one awake was me.
But, what could this be? This was not a figment of my imagination. I saw what I saw and I knew it. I did not ask to see it or never imagined I would see it. It was just there.
I began to study its movements more closely. The brighter light had softened to a warm glow. Gracefully it danced from one side of my bed to the other, to one corner of my room and back again as if it were trying to engage me in conversation.
Surely it could not be a ghost. But what else could it be? How could I think this? After all, ghosts were fictional. Everyone knows ghosts only exist in ghost stories. Was it the notorious “boogie man” that my older brother told me that lay under my bed at night? No, I ruled that out quickly. It was not mean, it meant no harm, and in fact it was to the contrary as it seemed playful.
So, was this a ghost? At age ten, I should have known better than to think this way. Minutes passed and I was still hoping this was all a dream, but I could not escape, I could not awake. I was already awake! I knew I had to try to find the answer.
I bravely decided to make my way to my parent’s room. There I was sure to find security and safety and tell them what I saw. I was hoping in my heart they would be able to explain it to me. I felt the wood of the floor under my bare feet as I walked softly down the dark hallway and into my parent’s room.
This was a first for me; I have never walked in my parent’s room when they were sleeping. Since being an infant I have not woken my parents, and then it was because I was hungry or just wanted my mom. Now, it was because something strange was happening to me and yes, I did want my mom.
Hesitantly, I walked over to her and tapped her on her shoulder. “Mom, I need you.” She awoke in an instant and with deep concern she gently asked, “What is wrong? What do you need?”
I told her I was scared, that I had just seen a white light in my bedroom and it was flickering and moving all around my room. I told her I thought it was a ghost. I told her I was sure I was awake and that I knew I saw it.
My mother began to comfort me and she confidently told me, “You are safe and nothing bad will happen to you.” As she spoke my father began to rustle around and half asleep he spoke, “I am sure it was not a ghost.” But then what was it I asked? He said that it was probably just a dream. I knew he was trying to let me know that it was nothing to be worried about but he still did not explain it as I had hoped. He then told me to go back to bed, everything would be OK.
Even though I had no more answers, I began to reluctantly walk back to my room. I wondered if it would still be there when I returned. Then, in a moment and to my surprise, the light soared by me and drifted slowly behind their tall mahogany headboard, right behind my mother.
I said quiet loudly, and very happy to have proof, “There it is! I just saw it again; it went behind your bed. Right here, it is here", I said excitedly. I ran over to my mother’s bed and looked behind it – but the light had vanished.
Standing by my mother’s side, torn between feelings of disappointment and fear of the unknown, my mother tenderly reached up to pull my ear close to her mouth and whispered as if intended only for me, “I believe you. I believe you saw the light. Everything will be fine. You have nothing to be afraid of.” But what was it that I saw? I asked her again. “I can not explain it,” she replied, “but I know you will be alright.”
Her gentleness and belief in me was enough to calm my soul. I gave her a hug goodnight and walked back to my bed and went fast asleep.
The next morning we all came to the breakfast table, ate our breakfast and off onto our day as usual. I wondered if they even remembered last night. We never spoke of this again.
As I have gotten older I have not thought of this often, but from time to time I have told the story to those close to me.
This past summer I visited my mother; age eighty-three, at a rehab center in her home town of St. Louis where she was now staying in hopes of recovering from a fall earlier in the year. Her body was struggling but her mind and her spirit were still there in tact.
That morning before my visit with her, I told my father that I would like to look at some old pictures with mom today. He directed me to their basement where I found boxes and boxes of picture albums all neatly arranged from their childhood through college years and beyond. There were albums full of pictures of birthdays, anniversaries, and of each of their seven children, and of their sixteen grandchildren’s special times.
I was drawn to one particular album, a book of my mother as an infant, a young girl, while in high school and her early nursing years. This is it, I was sure, this will bring her joy.
When I arrived I gave my mother an affectionate hug and kiss and slowly pushed her in her wheel chair out into the gardens of the home where she stayed. We spoke of happy memories; I made sure to include times that I was so thankful for and I pulled out the album I had brought that day.
With the clear skies above us and sitting side by side, my mother with a slight tremble in her hand, turned the pages one by one. Picture by picture, newspaper clippings and letter by letter, she told me the story of each.
With a gentle smile on her face and a few little chuckles I noticed her brighten up even more when she showed me pictures of her grandmother who like my mother had a distinct sweetness in her smile.
She shared stories of how her grandmother helped her go from a little farm town of less than a hundred to the big city, Westphalia, Missouri, to attend high school. This gave her opportunities, she explained, that she would not have had if she would have stayed in her small town.
She showed me letters that she had received from her grandmother, so endearing, so adoring. I could see so clearly how much my mother cherished these times spent with her.
This was the first that I realized just how close my mother had been with her grandmother. I had a clear vision of my mother as the little girl being loved by her, being protected and encouraged to be more than she thought she could be.
Today, I sit here and write my story of my mother and me and of the light. I was not even sure why I chose this one, there were so many possibilities.
And then as I moved further in my story, typing away, there was a time when a sense of sweeping calmness came over me. It was the answer to the question I asked many years ago. What was it that I saw in the middle of that night? I now know!
It was my mother’s grandmother, my great-grandmother that visited us that night! I recognize the gentle smile, the gentle energy of her essence, and her kind, tender message. She came that night to tell my mother and me that she is with us and so lovingly.
I remember that night when my mother whispered to me that she believed me and how much that meant inside my heart. Perhaps she herself had a similar earlier experience she also could not explain, I now thought. Or maybe, just maybe, she recognized her grandmother’s presence. Did that night help her to put some clarity into her life?
Those many years ago I struggled to make an unusual event fit into acceptable certainty. I never doubted myself, yet I had no answer. I believed, but I did not know.
And in the bonding of love that exists between mother and child, and between grandmother and granddaughter, I now have come to find that there is more meaning in life than any simply explained reality. And, yes, there are answers to our questions.
“What did I see?” Now I do know. The wait was well worth it. The dancing light and my mother’s spirit and their love will always be with me.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
It never ceases to amaze me how readily a male doctor is to remove female body parts. Men certainly don’t allow their male organs to be removed en masse.
Why is this happening? Is it that male doctors think they can control women easily? Is it that women have been indoctrinated to believe that men are the authorities and disciplinarians? Is it some sort of intimidation or control factor? Do male doctors have an inappropriate self-perception of power? Is this a form of abuse?
I remember talking to a number of women in tears, browbeaten by their physician to take estrogen replacement therapy. They were told if they didn’t they would lose all their bones and have a heart attack. These women knew the advice wasn’t right, but often took the medication anyway. After battling and educating on this issue for over a decade, the long overdue day came when doctors did an about face on this issue. Just think of all the lives this bullying cost.
I find it interesting that men will ignore the advice of their doctor and can’t be dragged to a doctor in the first place unless they are half dead. Then there are women who can’t make the easiest decision about their own health on their own. They have to get agreement from their doctor before they can start the most basic natural health program, as if their doctor’s blessing somehow makes the program legitimate. They live haunted by their own doubts and uncertainties – appearing quite weak to anyone analyzing the situation.
When I was 20, I took rounds with a team of doctors and interns along with some other nursing students. This was part of my internship and I was expected to listen and observe. I was familiar with one of the patients that we visited. I had worked with her, read her charts, knew her diagnosis, and her medications. She stated that she was feeling anxious, this was new for her. The young doctor on her case hardly had time to review her current medications and immediately prescribed an anti-anxiety medication.
Being familiar with the patients’ medications and the side effects of each; thinking I could help her and naively not considering the real consequence, I asked the doctor very politely, “Do you think that the anti-depressant that she is taking could be causing her anxiety?” Abruptly, and in an instant, the doctor without an answer scolded me, “Don’t you ever question me or any doctor again!”
I went on in my life to become a natural health educator as I saw that my role in life was to help others know that it is very important that they take responsibility for their health. Yes, listen to your doctor, but understand all aspects of what they are telling you to do and know your options before making major decisions about your health care.
I taught everyone I could that it is very important to understand how to prevent illness and disease, this is your job, do not expect to learn how to do this from your doctor. Pull out your Physicians Desk Reference and use it as a tool. This book can now be found on line and lists all contra indications of medications (PDRHealth.com).
Be in the know when prescribed a medication by your doctor. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to a medication or surgery that you know is not in your best interest. Know your natural options, it is your right, you have the wherewithal to do this.
It hasn’t always been this way for women. After all, many years ago, it was women who were the gatherers while men were hunters. As gatherers women needed to know the nutritious and medicinal value of plants. They needed to know the toxic ones, the ones to avoid, and the ones to use to stay well and often time to save lives. Women were the healers, the doctors. This was their job to keep their children and themselves healthy.
Then, as time went on, men became more dominant, no longer with the sole role of hunters. As the agricultural society evolved men were needed to stay back and protect the land, the women and children.
Women eventually lost their role as the medicine woman, the doctors of their day. As science progressed it was men who got the higher education which was now needed to officially be a doctor. Women continued to be expected to stay home to care for the children. Patriarchy changed the role of women as healers.
I see that the many times that I have stood up for myself and my children with doctors regarding our health care has been well worth my effort. I have spent countless hours over the past 35 years educating myself on health and natural health options that work. I came up with health, dietary, nutritional supplementation, exercise, and activities protocols that worked so well in our family.
Our four children, now all grown adults, went through their childhood with virtually no medications or surgeries as I took the time to learn about health in general, the incorrect information that I had been told during my childhood and in nursing school, and I took the time to learn the other health and health preventative information that I had not been taught. Doing this has helped our family stay well, naturally.
Going outside the box, taking the initiative to dig to find the information I was missing was so important so that I could then make informed decisions and with confidence when communicating with doctors, nurses, dentists and the public school system.
I had the knowledge and the confidence to say “No, I do not want you to give my child all of those vaccinations. No, I do not want that antibiotic; I want to try natural remedies that work first. No, I do not want silver nitrate put in my child’s eyes after birth, he does not need it. No, I nor my children want x-rays every time we get our teeth cleaned. No, I do not want a flu shot and my children do not either. We do not get the flu, our immune systems are strong.”
Thirty-two years ago I had the knowledge and strength to also say, “No, I do not want drugs during childbirth, I want a natural childbirth.” At the time this was daring and cutting edge.
You may have similar stories and how you educated yourself and proactively stood up for you and your children. If so, you are one of the trail blazers, a leader, and an example for other women.
Educated women will be in the know and be empowered with comprehensive and accurate knowledge. When your doctor tells you something that you do not understand, or you do not have enough information about it to know if it is your best option, remember that you can always find access to the full information.
Instead of coming into a doctor’s office ready to “be a good student,” as Dr. Oz directed millions of women on the Oprah Show in early January of 2009 to do, know that assigning yourself your own homework is an essential part. Then, as an informed consumer, you will have the confidence to make the right decisions for you and your children and you will live a healthier, happier life.
If you have not yet taken such steps, it is not too late for you to take this approach. You may need some time to catch up on your health information. But you can certainly discard your subservience to male doctors in an instant. Beware of some of the women doctors who seem inclined to continue the dominance and were trained in the mold that caused MDiety Syndrome in the first place.
Now is the time for us women to team together and as one collective voice strengthen our responsibility and take an active role in our health and that of our children. This is what it really means to take charge of your health. It is our duty to be the real healers.
Friday, January 16, 2009
This is her message:
How can a young woman in America be prepared and prepare herself for all that life will bring to her? America is a country where, to its own undoing, individualism has reigned supreme.
The first period of a young woman’s existence is a period of preparation. The most extreme of our modern educators feel that it is not the education which is given that is of any value in the development of the individual, but that which is created and developed from within. So far is this principle carried by some advanced teachers that no student must be urged to follow any line of established fact or principle. Her imagination is chiefly fed by the recurrent thought of self-study and self-development; everything must come to her in a subjective form. Discipline is unknown because, in modern eyes, discipline is blind acceptance of what is, rather than what might be.
There can be but one result of this development: the miserable little victim, taught only to follow her own whims, comes face to face with life as it really is, and finds herself utterly unable to cope with its problems and difficulties. The essentials of all character-building must be developed in early life along lines far different from these. Discipline and order must be the foundations of any creative individualism.
Freedom of choice is indeed one of the greatest gifts possessed by mankind, but it must come to a well-trained and spiritually developed character, not to an ignorant and uninformed child. The young woman who faces her problems with high-souled courage and profound thought is generally the one who can look back to a childhood where order and discipline were accepted and understood, because of a great faith and a great love that lay behind and beyond all physical manifestation of law and order.
The young woman, then, whose early environment has taught her the necessity of self-control and self-discipline is ready to take her place in the general scheme of the universe. What a glorious sense of growing strength develops in the young woman who is constantly learning to understand her environment rather than herself!
The problem now facing the young woman of America is her utter inability to realize that her future can only be a logical development of her present. Her mental attitude pictures the distant years as a flowery period when the man of her destiny shall place at her feet the fruits of his toil, so that together they may wander through the sunny paths of life.
The average young woman does not really come into her own until she reaches the stage when the present ceases to be a desire for the possession of some coveted object, and the future ceases to be a vague dream of accomplishment without effort. With her maturity comes the growing sense of the enormous value of the immediate present and the conscious discarding of that rule of life which never does today what can be put off until tomorrow, and which, until now, has governed her every action.
Suddenly comes the awakening, the consciousness that no day is long enough to accomplish what should be done here and now. This desire to see something develop into immediate existence brings with it, however, an intolerance of the wasted hours of the past. The moment of discouragement and discontent with the past must be faced with a true courage which quickly leads to a present determination for other and better things.
Here we come back again to the habit of sustained effort acquired in our young woman’s early education. Once having established the doctrine of thoroughness, the value of hard, honest work becomes apparent. Never mind the nature of the work itself, the young woman’s responsibility lies in her own individual relation to it, to her home, and to the community as a whole.
Her power is the power of creation, but she must learn to receive before she can freely give. She must become clear of understanding before she can become forceful of expression; she must develop individuality before she strives for a freedom in which it may be expressed. She must be sure of having an open-minded and interested hearing for her own thoughts and ideas, so that they in turn may deepen and develop.
A woman’s appeal is supposed – it is said with scorn – to be an emotional appeal. Let us accept the fact and glory in it. Let us train our quick instincts and emotional reaction to be the biggest and best force in the community. As a motive power it is unsurpassed; its idealism, when used properly, can conquer any difficulty; its strength of purpose knows no defeat.
The individualism that has run riot in the last decade is neither cooperative nor creative. It is a form of egotism pure and simple. It causes the young woman to break down all standards of taste or consideration in her treatment of her own contemporaries or her manners towards older people. Manners are really nothing more than a sympathetic understanding of other people’s point of view. The young woman of the future will have too fine a self-respect to fail to recognize the rights of others.
What women throughout the country still need is a freer association with other women whose standards, social, intellectual and moral, are higher than their own. As a people we are too inclined to seek a lower standard for our recreation, to level down. Many a popular magazine secures a large circulation by fiction which is utterly valueless in quality; other publications containing literary and historical articles written by serious authors reach but a few homes.
In our recreation, as in our work, we want immediate results with minimum effort; to be entertained generally means to be relaxed. The splendid rest and refreshment that comes with a great, but different, intellectual or physical effort are known only to a few.
The ideal life would be for the daily existence to be so ordered that no definite holiday time would be necessary – each twenty-four hours would bring its own period of work, play, and rest. In our complicated civilization, this is well-nigh impossible.
The young woman whose leisure hours are spent amongst the precious works of art that the ages have provided will be less interested in spending her hard-earned salary in vying with her companions to dress in the most extreme and the most inappropriate of the season’s fashions.
The young woman whose taste has led her to seek for companionship the best writers and musicians of the past will create in her own environment and every-day life an opportunity for satisfying her hunger.
The newer and better liberty which has come to her will give her a deeper appreciation of the eternal feminine within her soul; she will learn to use and not to waste the love of the beautiful, the eternal desire to please. Her dress, her language, her accomplishments will fall into their natural positions, forming the attributes of a rounded and developed personality.
Our young women of the future will work as they have been created to work – with fearlessness, honesty of purpose, courage and determination, and with trained intelligence and moral integrity, ready to cope with life’s problems as they present themselves.
But above all and beyond all will be within her the woman, with a standard and an ultimate ideal, the woman who bears within herself the life of the generations yet unborn.
Anne Morgan – 1914
Excerpted from The American Girl
About Anne Morgan:
Anne Morgan is the daughter of J.P. Morgan, regarded by many as the greatest businessman of all time. He is in no small way responsible for raising the standard of living of Americans above the rest of the world. In his strong vision of corporate growth the rights of the individual worker were often overlooked. However, he was known to get a powerful earful from one of the only people who could stand up to him, his daughter, Anne. He once described her as “the woman who runs me.”
Anne was a woman of integrity who grew up in a life of privilege. Though she believed differently on many issues than her father, she never publicly dishonored him. She thought of him as “a man filled with the splendid spirit of the pioneer, a man of great vision and infinite capacity.” She saw her duty in life was to make good that which her father created.
She was a powerful advocate for women’s rights in the workplace, and played an active role in helping women secure the right to vote. In 1903 she helped create the Colony Club, the first women's social club in New York. She also established a clubroom in the Brooklyn Navy Yard so that workers could receive nutritious meals. From 1928 – 1943 she was president of the American Woman's Association.
During the peak of World War I (1914 -1917) she took up residence along the French front and established the American Fund for French Wounded, which after the war evolved into the American Friends for Devastated France. This was the first large-scale relief effort funded by a private citizen. In 1932, in honor of her relief work, she became the first American woman appointed a commander of the French Legion of Honor. She also led efforts to rebuild France after World War II.
Anne Morgan dedicated much of her life and virtually all of her wealth to helping others.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
These are points of integrity that often vary from person to person – yet have a profound influence on your sense of self-honesty. How you set your priorities on this topic will have a significant impact on the quality of your relationships and your ability to truly be happy and live with yourself.
I notice that I have a particular disdain for individuals who are not up front and honest – often having a hidden agenda of one type or another. They pretend to be your friend when instead they are calculating how they can use your good heartedness or control you to get what they want while also working hard to get you and others to think highly of them. It is quite a feat they seemingly have mastered.
Whatever the reasons or motivations, these people eventually get stuck in the web of their own deceit. They come in all sizes and shapes – passive-aggressive, Jekyll and Hyde – what you see is seldom what you really get.
On the top of my list of such personality traits is the goodie-two-shoes – sometimes quiet, sometimes a slick talker, sometimes friendly, appearing to be so well meaning – yet ready to stab you in the back when you least expect it.
I feel that children who grow up without other siblings have some disadvantage. Siblings offer early exposure to many life lessons. In my opinion, the more lessons you can learn at home the better you are prepared to deal with life.
My sister, a year younger than I, has been a classic goodie-two-shoes personality; doing whatever she could to appease and please my father. In his eyes she could do no wrong. I had a much more outspoken and direct approach to life, stating out loud when I felt something that was not right, not fair, or not true.
I shared a bedroom with my sister as a young girl. One day, when I was about age 10 years old, I went to my bedroom after school to begin my homework. My sister was at her desk working away. I noticed that the window in our bedroom was broken and I asked her what happened. Her response was that she did not know.
Suddenly our father entered our room. He asked in an upset tone of voice, “Who broke the window??” I responded that I did not know, at which point my sister boldly stated, “Mary told me that she broke it!” My eyes bugged out of my head, as all of a sudden according to her I not only broke the window, I even told her I broke it. It was a double whammy. I stood there and reputed this as both of her statements were untrue.
My sister continued to insist that her story was in fact what happened. She was so convincing and had a long running reputation with my father as being the quiet “perfect” daughter that caused no trouble. That is as far as he could see, unaware of what really went on when he was not around.
I stood there and took a punishment for breaking the window and for lying.
It hurt me so much; I remember crying more from the pain of not being believed. Why wouldn’t my father believe me? Was it because I spoke up? Was it because at times I questioned what I was being told? Was it because he equated a verbal daughter who had opinions and who stood up for herself with someone who was wrong?
I knew right then and there that I never wanted to be like my sister. I could never behave a certain way just to please someone. Nor put someone else in jeopardy to save myself from an undesirable consequence. I would have nothing to do with being fake, manipulative, or coming across with a goodie-two-shoes façade.
That day taught me a lesson that has remained with me: that my happiness would be what I created in my life and it would be based on actions that were held to a certain level of integrity and honesty. My acid test was to strive to be the same person on both sides of the door. I would be the same person in public that I was in private. I would stand up for myself even though it may not be popular at the time with others.
While I certainly didn’t like what my sister did that day, the lesson I learned gave me a valuable heads up on what was coming in the “real world.” For one thing, as an adult I have been able to recognize this personality trait in others more easily. This has saved a lot of time and unnecessary stress. For this, I am thankful.
Holding myself to a higher standard of behavior has made a big difference for me. Think about it – how true are your actions to what you know is right? It is often harder to do the right things, but in my experience it has always benefited me in the long run.
What I did not know then but do know now is that this trait is also fundamental to a sense of personal strength and commitment. There is no virtue in being seen and not heard, the lesson my father and my schooling sought to instill in me. There is virtue in doing what you know is right and living your life so that all your actions are consistent in this way. This often means standing up and speaking out, regardless of the consequences. You have a choice.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I am a nature enthusiast, I always have been. When I was a child the times I remember most are times that I spent outdoors; swimming, fishing, water skiing, walking, hiking, camping out, and singing around a campfire. The sound and smell of a crackling campfire was a favorite.
I have kept up my outdoor activities even as an adult. One time comes to mind as a very memorable moment. One beautiful day, when our youngest son Trey was about 12 years old, we decided to go on a hike together. We had done quite a bit of hiking and that day we went to an area where we heard was breath-taking; with red rocks and cliffs.
As we hiked up the red rock, some areas were fairly tricky as we climbed seemingly straight up the rocks at particular points. We reached a high point; several hundred feet above where we began. The sky was bright, beautiful and clear – we could see forever.
As we began our descent I realized this hike was a bit more challenging than I had anticipated. Trey went ahead of me, and had little trouble scampering down the mountainside. At one point, in my effort to keep up, I hurried a little more than I should have and my foot slipped. I lost my balance and fell forward, out-of-control. I was heading straight over the edge of a steep cliff – and I knew I was in real trouble.
I had only one chance, in front of me, by the grace of God, stood a majestic sahuaro – king of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. In a millisecond I had to choose between plowing into a very prickly cactus at full speed or going over the edge of a cliff.
I put out my right hand to brace my impact into the sahuaro. In an instant I hit it straight on, falling backward to the ground. Stunned, I looked around and saw the certain injury and likely death that would have resulted if the sahuaro had not been there. Looking around, it was the only sahuaro in the near vicinity.
Amazed, I looked down at my right hand that had taken the full cactus impact. There was not a single prickle puncture anywhere on my hand, just a little redness from the impact and no pain. My heart was racing, I could not believe what just happened, I was in awe – I knew God had intervened. It was not my time to go.
My attention quickly went to Trey, he was just below me and saw what had happened, he frantically called, “Mom, are you alright??” My heart sank as I thought about what would have happened if instead of falling into the sahuaro I had gone over the edge. There was no one around within miles; this was a number of years before cell phones were prevalent and it would have taken him at least an hour to get to the bottom in a normal descent. I know he would have been devastated. The thought of such a thing happening was a nightmare. Pondering what might have been caused an overwhelming feeling of sadness, and knowing what happened brought a great feeling of joy and appreciation for life.
I knew in that instant that I had more to do; that I was here on a mission and that I was being watched over. This lesson put special emphasis on valuing my life and not taking anything for granted. There is no need to get hung up on the trivial stressors of day-to-day life. I am grateful to be alive; there is so much beauty and good in life, in our surroundings, in nature. That day I learned a very valuable lesson: enjoy each and every day but no need to participate in high risk activities as I am meant to be here to do even more to help others.
Monday, November 24, 2008
When I look back at my life as a young lady the career options of the time were to a large extent the expectations of society. I was supposed to be a teacher, a nurse, or a Mrs. and that was how the system was rigged. Pondering these options I first decided on teacher.
I had my own ideas about what I would bring to the teaching profession. I wanted to be an elementary school teacher who would let children know how important it was to help others, the virtues of being smart and bright, and how this would lead to having fun in life. With all the enthusiasm of a young person bursting with boundless energy I was certain this fresh and innovative approach to learning could have a huge impact.
During my first year of college, while I liked the idea of being a teacher very much, I kept getting this nagging feeling that I was supposed to follow a different path. I knew I wanted to help others, but now I was thinking that I was supposed to be helping adults in some way. I went down the list in the career options book and looked at every career, and didn’t see anything that clicked into place.
I had a friend in the nursing program who really enjoyed it, so I thought: “Why not, I’ll give it a try.” I approached my nurses training with the goal of being as helpful as possible to others. I worked as a nursing assistant that summer and was accepted into nursing school that fall. I really enjoyed working as a nursing assistant, helping the patients and spending time talking with them.
I remember one lady in particular who was about 40 years old was and in the hospital because, as she told me, her husband and doctor thought she was “crazy”. She was on a floor with others much older than her for the most part, and she did not have a terminal illness. As I chatted with her in the course of my duties I quickly found out that she was a warm and loving mother of five who was simply worn down from endless work. Her exhaustion had lead to anxiety and sadness, but not in my mind was she remotely crazy.
I looked at her patient chart and saw she was on a long list of drugs to treat her supposed condition, many of which were given to treat the side effects of the drugs she was on. I was simply appalled. Her husband saw her as nothing but a workhorse, and when the workhorse finally broke down he dragged her to the doctor who medicated her without any consideration of her situation.
I didn’t know what I could do as a 19-year-old nurse’s assistant but I sure knew I had to do something. This just was not right. It was two arrogant men against a defenseless mother of five. I told her the medications she was taking were making her feel worse and that she was just tired from being overworked. I told her she was not crazy. I told her she just needed to take more time for herself and get her kids to help out more. I will never forget the look on her face as I spoke with her. The life came back into her eyes, the color back into her face. She clutched my hand and thanked me.
I told her the first thing I would do is to go over the medications one by one, understand them, understand their side effects, and ask her doctor to explain them to her. She really like the idea of getting off all the drugs and was eager to work with her doctor to wean off what she could. It was her life after all. I told her if she did not stand up for her rights, her health, no one would. She agreed, as this had been the case. She “recovered” so fast she was out of the hospital several days later!
As I went through nursing school this experience inspired me in several ways. First, it showed me the power of being a patient advocate and standing up for the rights of a patient. This sense of empowering someone who had lost hope seemed a great virtue to me. Second, it sent me on a rather odd path for a young woman – that of being a student of the PDR (Physicians Desk Reference). In nursing school I was learning how to dispense drugs correctly and how to follow doctor’s orders. In my own time I was learning what the drugs actually did and what their side effects were.
As I made my way through nursing school and on to the final home leg, my internship, I was bursting at the seams with knowledge and eager to put this to work helping patients with their health. As my internship went on the more I realized my goals were in direct conflict to that of the medical profession.
I remember one patient in particular, who was suffering from both a bad drug combination and doses that were too high. She was discussing her symptoms with her doctor who assured her the medications he prescribed were just right and that he would be prescribing yet another to handle her “complaint”.
In the hallway I approached him and suggested that the combination, side effects, and doses were likely causing some of the symptoms she was having and that he should consider adjusting the medications to see if it would help her. He became furious and told me to never question a doctor. I was shocked. He was more concerned about his ego than the health of the patient. And this attitude wasn’t just his, it was the prevailing culture. I learned first hand the meaning of MDiety syndrome, and it jolted me to the core. I knew at that moment, and so very close to completing my nursing internship, that a career in traditional nursing was not for me.
I bring up these stories to illustrate a few important points. The set of circumstances in our lives, such as environmental pressures or societal expectations, often provide us a path we can follow even if we aren’t sure what our calling may be. There are lessons to be learned from such experiences that may help us understand our true calling. In my case, these experiences forged my passion for being a woman’s health advocate and helping to educate society on the dangers of medications and the safe options that are available. I love to empower others with knowledge that fosters true hope and a path to better health. I have continued to do this throughout my life.
I also find it interesting that I always end up taking on a leadership role in whatever endeavor I am involved in. When I ponder why this is the case, I think back to times in my childhood, as the oldest girl of seven children. I remember playing school with my younger siblings, and sure it was fun being the teacher. I really liked being in charge of the classroom. In my neighborhood I used to love to organize carnivals and plays. My goal was to be a leader in something I thought was worthwhile. As I grew older I typed business correspondence for my father, who was a successful entrepreneur. I also had the opportunity to visit one of his client’s facilities and learned first hand the ins and outs of how professional business and customer service was conducted. I loved to watch him as he worked his business magic.
I see all too often that many women, especially after the children are raised, are looking for new meaning in their lives. This is not unlike the same feelings we had as young women embarking on life. So how do you start something new without throwing out the old?
My advice is to begin with an inventory of the things you enjoyed most when you were growing up. What did you think you wanted to be, and more importantly, why? What role were you playing in the activities you enjoyed most? What are the various lessons in your life that impassioned you to be a certain way? And lastly, what can you do in your future that will enable you to be more in harmony with what is really important to you?
Monday, November 17, 2008
Keeping track of sins was quite a burdensome task for a child. I tried various strategies, such as keeping a running list under my pillow. Minimizing sins in the first place was a top priority, but there were many grey areas that kept me pondering. Was it a lie or was it just a minor stretch that didn’t really qualify? Or was it that I saw it one way and another saw it differently? Did I really not honor my mother or father or did I just do a little something that I wasn’t supposed to? Was arguing with my sister and brother a sin? And if so, which commandment did I break? Stealing was more straightforward, and totally out of the question.
One thing was certain; the day of confession was never too far off. I attended a Catholic elementary school called Holy Redeemer. My 5th grade teacher was a rather stern Dominican nun who took the subject of sinning very seriously. She had a way of looking at you that made you feel there must be more sins. I learned early on it was not good to have no sins – sins were expected. If you didn’t have any you weren’t good, you were hiding something. This situation caused its own set of problems, as my sin list was pretty slim but there had to be some.
Each and every month the time for confession rolled around. She would have the class put our heads on our desks and close our eyes. She would read each of the Ten Commandments one by one while we looked inside ourselves and noted down how many times we broke that commandment or sinned against it since our last confession.
I usually wrote down a few extra sins, at least beyond those of my actions I thought might fell into the sinning category; just to cover all my bases. This strategy posed its own moral dilemma. Was the overestimation of sins a lie? Was I overestimating one of the sins I was not reporting? I have recollection of adding another for that, but then where did it stop? It was not an easy task to accurately figure out a sin total.
This was a very personal process, to be shared only at the time of confession. I felt I had struck a balance in this process. There was a certain feeling of safety in erring on the high side.
One day, as our teacher read the Ten Commandments and all in the class reflected on our lives, I completed my list and dozed off a bit. This was not uncommon, as it was quite easy for many in the class to go from soul searching to sleep. I was awoken by a tapping on my shoulder and a quiet voice from the boy sitting behind me, “Mary, you dropped you sins on the floor.”
I was aghast as my heart raced. A rush of embarrassment went through my body. How many of my sins did he see? Did I have more than him? Did I even have a normal amount? Confession, this most personal experience, had now been thrust into public view. I reached down and grabbed my sins off the floor, vowing to make sure that next time I would really work to be more accurate in my reporting as it sure did not pay to just put sins down for the sake of feeling covered. This is when I decided to put the sheet of paper under my pillow and go to my room to mark any whenever I felt I had committed a sin.
Looking back on these times I feel that the exercise given to my conscience was a bit over done. After all, I was basically a very good little girl. On the other hand, the idea of being morally responsible was firmly implanted in my developing mind and thought process. Throughout my life I have made every effort to do the right thing. Did that come from the strict discipline of my childhood? Or was that a decision I would have made for myself anyway?
While this early training may have left some scars, it was really all part of a learning process. And now, looking back, I am actually glad I had to learn to live in harmony with myself based on a sense of rightness and wrongness. I see that so many of the problems people have today interacting with each other, as friends, in relationships, and even in larger groups are rooted in the fact that their consciences just didn’t get to the gym often enough when they were younger.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
No one would mistake me for the average little girl. I was decked out with a beautiful hat upon my head, a dress with lace and frills, little white socks and patent leather shoes, and a beautiful spring coat to finish off my outfit.
This was all in thanks to my aunt who was a well-to-do woman and had two daughters of her own that in my lucky stars happened to be a few years older than I. Virginia liked my mother as she was a beautiful humble woman from a small farming town in Missouri. My mom was brave enough to marry Virginia’s youngest brother, a man of the big city. To show my mother that she was happily welcomed into their family, she shared her daughters beautiful clothes with our family.
It was a special feeling when Virginia’s finely wrapped box came to our door a couple times a year. I soon realized that being the oldest daughter did have some advantages, as I was always the first to wear these beautiful clothes. And so it was, with my Easter basket in hand and dressed oh so nicely, I ran out in my grandmother’s yard at the sound of the bell to begin my hunt for my first Easter egg.
The world seemed perfect that day and with full enthusiasm I set about my journey to find the Easter eggs. There was just one problem in the way of my perfect day – it appeared that my older brother, who was faster than I, had an incredible zeal for snatching Easter eggs from my grasp.
Seeing that the odds were stacked against me, I quietly set out in a different direction to secure my first egg. And there it was, a little green egg under the bushes. I thought to myself, “I found one!” I knew it was my egg, as it was talking to me, “Come find me, Mary, I am here for you.”
Being careful not to announce my find triumphantly, as my brother was doing, I focused on my goal and started making my way. All of a sudden a big breeze came rushing upon my face and I stared. It was my brother racing by to grab that green egg before I arrived. He shouted my shout, as loud as he could, but with a little variation, adding a word, he said, “I found another one!”
I stood there and watched, I could not believe my eyes. The look on my face spoke hundreds of words. That was my egg, I thought. That is not fair. I saw it first. I got no help from anyone, as my mom was occupied with my younger sister. And my dad, who must have thought this was a bit humorous, took a picture of me at that exact moment in time.
I quickly realized that if I was going to have any fun at all, I would need to be faster and smarter. And then I saw another egg, but this time I took a different approach. I yelled out “I see one, it’s mine” and pointed across the yard into some bushes. My brother took off after it and I then quickly went over to where I saw the real Easter egg and proudly plucked it into my basket. Yes indeed, the sweet taste of success.
I learned that beautiful spring day to be thankful and appreciate your good fortune for those things given to you in life. But in the competitive game called life I was going to need to be smarter and faster to be successful. And so from this early experience, which is so clear in my mind to this day, I committed myself to being a strategic problem solver. I realized that in times of great need I would have to count on myself to come up with an answer, a way. It was a lesson that has resonated throughout my life.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
When I was a very young girl, about two or three, I realized that I needed to be my own best friend. I needed to be reliably kind to myself. I knew if anyone would stand up for me, it would be me.
It is interesting to me that such a strong impression about my life would be forged at such a young age. I found myself sandwiched between an older brother who weighed in on the bully side and a younger sister who was a master at manipulating my father in her favor. Somewhat cut off from the loving attention of my mother (just because she was so busy with 7 children), and with no sense of comradery with siblings, I oftentimes found myself standing alone looking around to see how this game of life should be played.
It quickly became apparent that I had two choices, sink or swim. I chose swim, which meant I had to stand up and defend my right to be me. This of course applied to everything - my opinions, speaking my mind, my actions, and a sense of integrity about being true to what I knew was right.
At the time this seemed like quite a burden for any one person to have to shoulder. Looking back, I see this was a time for establishing a solid way to solve problems that would be a great asset to being successful.
My brother and sister turned out to be excellent practice in dealing with those who attempt to get what they want by controlling others for their own selfish reasons.
I learned first hand the meaning of “walk softly yet carry a big stick.” In my case the big stick was a tenacious outspokenness, wherein the best defense was a good offense, but used only as needed to ensure that fairness and rightness were upheld. Thankfully, my lessons for fairness were learned from my mother, and rightness from my father, two people with high standards and a strong sense of morality.
Now today, with four children of my own, a husband, a business and a career, I still live with the commitment to myself, to take care of myself and stand up for me.
I take care of my health, my physical, my mental and emotional health. How do I do it? I take actions that result in better health all around. I keep company with those that I find are genuine, good people, helpful to me and me to them. I keep company with those that are sincere about their motives, based on their actions and deeds (not words). I am true to myself and what I know is right. I don’t compromise – I persist.
My story is a story of a young girl who turned adversity into advantage and how the many lessons learned in life helped to make me a stronger more loving and giving person. I have come full circle and decided that at this time, that I would like to share some of my thoughts, tips, and life’s lessons in hopes that some of these may be of help to others.
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