Saturday, September 23, 2017

My Body is Changing, I'm Getting Older

I'm officially past 47.5 now. I hit the halfway mark last month. It was at 47 that I started feeling my body change and looking in the mirror and seeing the changes in my face, in my skin. I'm getting older. I love a quote that says, "Do not regret growing older. It's a privilege denied to many."

Me at 34 and 47. 

In the top picture I had just had Seth. I sure bounced back pretty quickly at that age! I was still young enough to have kids and my face looks radiant, like someone who just created a life. In the bottom picture, taken a few months ago, most people would say I still look great. Believe me, I appreciate it. I know I look younger than some people my age. However, I also know the reality that I'm growing older.

I feel like we aren't always allowed to talk about aging. Either people are embarrassed to acknowledge it or we're told to shut up, age is just a number, be grateful for what you have, etc.  I get both those points of view. Sometimes aging is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. And I get being grateful. My older sister passed away at 42, my mom at 69, and I've had family, friends and acquaintances who have died young. I get that I should be grateful to be alive and I AM. I try to practice gratitude every day and I think about something that I'm grateful for.

None of this changes the fact that I am getting older and that yes, it is happening to me. I don't know why it's such a big deal to acknowledge that. It's a fact. It's happening to all of us and there's nothing we can do about it. I find it hilarious that even the word "perimenopause" is highlighted in red on this blog program as if the word doesn't even exist. Yes, it's real and all women with two ovaries and a uterus are going to go through it.

I miss my mom. I miss being able to ask her questions about menopause and when did she first see the signs. All I can do is try and remember events and conversations I overheard from my childhood and I do the math as to how old she was then. I guess she started heading towards menopause at 47 based on a very clear memory I have of her having an embarrassing incident out in public. I remember conversations I overheard about her going through "the change." I was around 8 years old and that would make her 47. I'm 47.

They say that often women start menopause around the same time as their mothers. Based on that math I'm pretty much on target and I can feel the signs. There's the irregular periods, the super long periods that don't make sense, and how hot my body feels very often. I've never been irregular since I started having kids at 31. That was something that used to happen to me in my teens and early 20s.

Of course all this has to happen right when my OBGYN of over 20 years retires. So I went to see my primary care physician right after a two week long period. She sent me for blood work to see if I was pre-menopausal but instead of focusing on that she was distracted by other things she wanted to check, like my blood sugar and my cholesterol. When she called me with my results she told me those and then promptly hung up. I had to call her back to ask her, "Hey, what about menopause?" She had forgotten that was the main reason I had gone in. (Once again I wished that Dr. Miro hadn't retired.) She told me that the blood work didn't show signs of pre-menopause. She had already said to me in the office that if that was the case she recommended that I find a new OBGYN. Exactly what I didn't want to have to do.

I know my body. I know what's happening. I'm so ready for it too! I'm ready to embrace this new phase of my life. I just wish it didn't come with the discomforts that come along with it. Like why do I have to feel warm all of a sudden? And why do I have to feel anxiety? Nobody told me that was a side effect until now. It's either one of those secrets or one of those things I ignored when it didn't pertain to me. Surprise! As I've gotten older I started feeling anxiety and I didn't know why. It probably started a couple of years ago, well now that I'm moving towards menopause I feel it even more. Apparently it's the hormones.

Then there's my face. I look at myself in the mirror when I'm washing my face or putting on my make up and I can see the elasticity of my skin changing. It's so weird! I see it in some pictures more than others. I see the skin under my eyes has changed too.  I think, "Here I am. I'm getting older." And it's amazing. Where did my youth go? It was over in the blink of an eye.

In the words of Colette all I can say is, "I love my past. I love my present. I'm not ashamed of what I've had, and I'm not sad because I have it no longer." I will just have to roll with it and ride this crazy wave.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Post Hurricane Harvey from Houston

A lot happened between my last post on August 20 and today. The kids did not start school on August 28 as planned and they are now starting on Monday, September 11. Hurricane Harvey is the reason.

Although Houston was not directly hit by Harvey when it made landfall on Friday, August 25 the rain started out slowly that night. It was so slow in fact that some people were fooled on Saturday into thinking that maybe it wasn't going to hit us as hard as they had been saying. Some even went out to watch the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight on Saturday night and were trying to get back home when the deluge happened.

Downtown Houston- Photo by Edward Isamu Nicholas
People found themselves stranded on bridges or they had to turn around and go back to friend's homes. When we woke up on Sunday this is what our city looked like. People had to evacuate their homes and some were rescued in boats by the fire department and first responders. As they day went on ordinary citizens called the "Texas Navy," like my friend Kim Maraldo took their personal boats out and helped save people from their homes. They were amazing.

Stude Park off I-10 & Studewood- Photo by Mary Ann Marucci

In the aftermath of this horrible devastating storm the city and state has really come together. People have been tearing their houses apart, cutting out the wet sheet-rock, throwing out all the damaged things in their houses. 

Yesterday I took Miranda to volunteer at one of her lacrosse teammate's home. The neighborhood I was in was filled with people's belongings, wood, sheet-rock, basically, their homes. It broke my heart. All these people out there working on their homes. 

A Home in the Braeswood neighborhood

I parked on the side of the street to see if she was going to stay there or go to another home and as I was sitting there a woman came up and asked me if I needed anything. She and her husband were out dropping off food and water to people working on their homes. When I went back to pick up Miranda the mom of the home told me one of the mattress companies had just donated 4 mattresses for them.

Ordinary people have been out helping where they can. A friend of mine's home was flooded and a group of my friends went out to help her. I found out too late because I was taking Miranda out to help her friend. When her sister, also my friend called me she was telling me how a woman from the neighborhood just stopped by and asked how she could help. Just like that. 

Businesses all over the city are doing extraordinary things. Jim McInvingvale, or Mattress Mack as he's also known, has opened up two of his locations as shelters. He's letting people sleep on his brand new furniture and providing them restrooms, showers and his restaurant. He also volunteered his company moving trucks to rescue people from their homes and highways. His trucks were out from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday rescuing people. Amazing! 

We were extremely blessed. I woke up on Sunday morning to the downpour. I'm not an early riser but I was up at 6 a.m. and I went out into my foyer, between my back door and my garage, to film the rain and our street. The video is dark but you can hear the water coming down hard and you can kind of see how full the street is. The water only got that far and never even filled my yard. It was like a regular heavy rain day for me. Our neighborhood, Lindale Park, is built higher, our homes are built even higher, and many, like mine, are on pier and beam. I know I have so much to be grateful for. Others, like friends of mine, have not been so fortunate. If you can, please consider giving and donating what you can to the shelters or to people you know. Giving gift cards to people you personally know is a great idea and the money will go further because you're giving directly to them.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Another Summer Is Gone, Welcome Fall

Another summer is come and gone! Where did the time go? Summer flew by between Miranda at Kinkaid EMSI and our Germany trip.

Miranda and I in the Black Forest

I finished the blog about Miranda's Sweet Sixteen trip or #GermanySweet16. Go check it out if you haven't. It's just a few blog posts chronicling our adventures through Germany.

Life has been good and I've been feeling very grateful. I'm so grateful for the trip that we had and for the time I got to spend with my girl. I can't wait to do the same thing for the boy in 3 years but his dad will take him on that trip.

Between now and then I'm hoping to take a trip to Canada with the kids and somewhere really cool in the US. Maybe Chicago in November.

I've also been very happy at work lately and really happy with my recent promotion. I have been very lucky to get another awesome manager in my career. I know that isn't always the case so I am very thankful for that.  Life has been good.

It's the weekend before the last weekend before school starts. Uniform shirts for Seth have been purchased via Amazon, ordered 2 different size pants from Target and will find out which ones are better when I receive them, but thank goodness he has 3 pairs I bought him in the spring when he grew. Bought Miranda some khaki pants today and a skirt online and buying her all her uniform shirts on Thursday when we go pick up her textbooks and laptop at the new school. I also bought basic school supplies today so they have something for the first day. I'm almost done with Back to School shopping! All I need now are M's shirts and her white tennis shoes for hospital visits.

The beginning of school also means a couple of important things. One is that fall is on it's way! The second big thing is that it's time to start our applications for high schools now. Even though he's only in 8th grade the boy goes to high school in exactly one year. Unbelievable.

Waiting for fall, scarves, boots and lattes!

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Miranda's #GermanySweet16

The first time I went to Europe I was 17. Now that I think about it, that's pretty amazing that I was that young and that my parents let me go alone with my older sister. What's even more amazing is that one of my best friend's parents also let her go alone with just us and no family.

Me at age 17 in a German pub in Frankfurt.

This summer I will be in Germany for only the second time in my life. Exactly 30 years after my first time and what makes it so special is that I'm traveling with my 16 year old daughter. Hard to believe that it's been 30 years! I can't wait for her to have the same experience that I did when I traveled outside of North America for the first time.

Years after my first trip to Europe, and after I had gone back to visit Italy and Spain, I remember reading a wonderful passage in one of Maya Angelou's books about travel:
“It is necessary, especially for Americans, to see other lands and experience other cultures. The American, living in this vast country and able to traverse three thousand miles east to west using the same language, needs to hear languages as they collide in Europe, Africa, and Asia.”
When I read this I couldn't agree more. Visiting Europe for the first time was such an eye-opening experience about so many things. I realized how young our country is and how there is a big wide world out there to explore. My sister, friend Cynthia and I explored five countries in two weeks. We arrived in Germany and then traveled to France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland.  It was a whirlwind trip but the best part was that I found that I really loved Spain an Italy and I went back to both those countries later when I was older. 

When I went on that first trip we spent very little time in Germany and I think we were only in Frankfurt. I remember very little so it's going to be great to go back and visit other cities like Munich and Berlin. I'm really intrigued to visit the concentration camps near those two cities. It's exciting to plan our trip and our itinerary knowing that in just a couple of weeks we will be there. 

Miranda chose to go to Germany in lieu of a party and I'm glad she took us up on that offer. In society young girls have coming out parties at 16. Their family introduces them to society. This is like a "coming out" of sorts for Miranda too, but it so much more than that. Instead of introducing her to the world or society we will be introducing the world to her. 

I've created a blog called Miranda's Sweet Sixteen. I'm going to upload pictures from our trip there to record our adventures and to share. So visit us there in the next couple of weeks to hear about our travels. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

How Do You Create Your Own #WIN?

In my last blog I talked about creating my own #WIN in life. I was referring to this ven diagram that many people share on social media. How do you find what you love, what pays and what you're good at, all at the same time? Sometimes, if you're really lucky you do find it. I did once. I wonder if those people who do find it realize how fortunate they are. Do they appreciate it or do they find something else to complain about? It seems like it's human nature to do that because I did.

So what am I doing? I'm trying to find all 3 again, even if they are 3 different things. Or 2. I love social media and I love writing. I love communications. I can do that here, blogging, volunteering as the social media manager for my daughter's lacrosse team and other non-profits. I can partner with TreviƱo TodaMedia on their app GritoBlast that we're really trying to get off the ground. Those are things I'm both good at and that I love.

What I do for pay is sell advertising. I was very lucky for many years because I loved it, I was good at it and it paid me very well. Sometimes I don't have all 3 any more, it depends on the month and what I'm doing. I'm in sales so honestly, it also depends on how much money I'm making. Other days I feel super passionate about it because it's my career, not my job.

Then there's the writing, that I love, but I somehow never make room for it. I never give it a chance and I hate that. It makes me question my love for it. Do I really love it? If I love it so much why am I not doing it? I keep telling myself that I need to take a weekend retreat alone so I can kick start my writing and get going on my new novel. Excuses, excuses, I know. I don't need a retreat, I need to just do it. Nobody is holding me back except me. That's all...

So how do I create my own win? How do I find time in my life to do all the things that I love, that pay me well and that I'm good at? How can I do this while raising two kids and taking care of my dad? Those are the questions that only I can answer in order to create my own #WIN.