Women, your stress may be killing you

I lost one of my favorite aunts in 2005. She was a beautiful 63-year-old woman who many would say looked younger than her years. She was slender, exercised regularly, never smoked, paid attention to healthy eating and was in a happy marriage for 40 years at the time of her death. She died from cancer, and although she was able to fight it for just under a year, it won the battle. ...

Help! I am a busy working mom and wife - how can I balance it all?

Another question from a reader. 

Stress and my Gyn history

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with an abnormal pap smear. My work life is very stressful. As you know, there is a constant struggle with trying to balance home life (with toddlers) and husband and I often wonder what my sleep deprivation and stress are mutating on a cellular level. What are some of your attempts to balance work and home life?

 

Dear Reader,

As a busy professional woman I find achieving work life balance is always a work in progress.  That being said I am always mindful of my goal.  Yes I need to continue to work to contribute to the finances of the household but I also need time for my children, my husband and myself.  There have been times in my career when I think all were cheated to some degree but I have always maintained the goal in mind.  This is what I have learnt.  Whenever possible find a work position that provides flexibility.  Sometimes the amount of work hours is not always the problem but the hours during which you have to deliver the work. For example if I am able to attend an important daytime activity at the children’s school they are more comfortable if I come home a little later in the evening.  At other times I will do a night shift so that I can be with them more in the day.  To be honest sometimes I may spend many of those hours in the bed resting if it has been a busy night but they know that they can easily find me if they need me.    I also use my resources to get help when needed.  I know that for example cleaning the house is not an activity I enjoy and that I am also very inefficient at it so for me it is more beneficial to work a few more hours in my career and hire someone to clean from time to time. This allows more of my home time to be spent in more relaxing activities.   I have certain times of day, which I deem family time when I try to unplug so that my attention is not divided between them and my cell phone.   I choose to exercise at home and to be honest my children look forward to me exercising to music videos in their presence. My husband and I try to go out alone at least once or twice per month or catch a movie at home after the children have gone to bed.   For my personal self-care in addition to attempting to eat a healthy diet and exercise I try to have a few minutes of quiet time each night, which I prefer to spend in reading, reflections and meditation specific to my faith.   I cannot pretend that I can do this every night but I am always mindful of the need to make it a priority so more often than not it is done.

Thank you so much for your question and I hope this helps.   

 

How I Know I was meant to be Married

I have met some married women over my lifetime who have told me that they just happened into marriage. Meaning they never had a burning desire or even a plan to be married.  Well not me.  I definitely did not just happen into marriage.  It was part of my plan and I had a burning desire for it. The only hard part was that the journey to marriage was way more difficult and longer that I could ever have imagined.  But it certainly did not dissuade me.  Even though I was sometimes low on hope, my desire for marriage never ceased and if anything it got stronger. 

Perhaps it is not surprising that I felt marriage was for me. Growing up as a Roman Catholic girl I saw only two clear choices for my adult life, become a nun or get married.  Like perhaps many Catholic girls I thought about being a nun but this was fleeting and I knew this life though admirable was not for me.  My calling was to marriage.   I must admit I had a good role model.  My parents had and still have a happy successful marriage and at least in my earlier childhood years it seemed like many of their friends and our relatives did too.  As I grew older I realize that many of those other“successful marriages” were far from successful.  There was infidelity, unhappiness, some divorces and some long suffering situations.   However was I put off or turned off from marriage in anyway? Oh no!  I just knew that I wanted to get it right.

So how does it feel for a single woman who is meant for marriage?   It’s like an unshakeable emptiness despite every effort to fill a void.  It’s like living the best life that you can but still knowing that something is missing.  It’s like a small shadow over happiness.    I sometimes felt envious or disconnected from my married friends, especially those who happened easily into marriage or relationships.  They just didn’t get it.  I sometimes felt lonely in family gatherings.  Holidays and Valentine’s Day were often difficult.   A break up had an added dimension, not just the loss of a relationship but the realization that despite another relationship I was no closer to my goal.  I could not retreat and safely keep away from getting hurt by avoiding a relationship because I would never achieve my goal – being a happily married woman.  It was almost as important as the air I breathed. Yes that may sound a little melodramatic but that’s how it felt for me at times.   

I remember my married girlfriend telling me that the pain of a woman who could not get pregnant was worse.  But I could not see it that way; I thought at least she could adopt a child.   I could not just adopt myself a husband.   At times I felt I was experiencing either punishment or torture.

But now I realize that it is ok to be meant to be married just as much as it is ok to be meant to be single.  Single women who want to be married should not need to apologize or explain themselves if they are dissatisfied with their single life any more than single women who do not want to get married should conform to other people’s standards.    I think the only job for her or for you is to decide which are you.

Be proud of who you are and what you are called to be. Know that it may take longer than you hope but trust that you will be better for the wait.  Be confident that if you walk in faith you will get to your planned God given destination.  Forgive the people who do not feel you or hear you.   They just wouldn’t understand.

 

The #Bachelorette Who Got it Right

I remember I was very much single when the first episode of the Bachelorette aired.  I even remarked to my family that I would love that option of choosing a mate (except for the part that all the details of each of your relationships become public knowledge.)  Each week I watched as Trista got closer and closer to her choice and ultimately she made a choice that I found somewhat surprising at first but a choice that has served her well. Her other choice seemed to have it all together, had all the right words and presented a “perfect” package.  Ryan did not appear to have all that fancy packaging but his sincerity shone through.  Ryan and Trista have been one of the few successful couples from the series and after more than twelve years of marriage, they appear to be still going strong. 

So what do I think Trista did differently or perhaps what did she do particularly well in selecting the right man for herself?   Well she learnt from her past relationship.  She was the first runner up on the first season of the Bachelor and she had to endure all the pain of being rejected by someone for whom she cared deeply.  But instead of wallowing in self-pity she ventured out again to find love armed with important lessons from her past relationship.  She was able to see beyond the superficial.  She also took full advantage of her time dating to get to know each person better.  Lessons that could be useful for any woman who is dating in the hope of finding a life partner.

I sincerely wish Ben and Lauren well for the future.  But my message is really for JoJo, another courageous woman who despite being heartbroken publicly has decided to risk it all again for love.  I hope she has learnt from her most recent experience and any experience that she has had in the past.  I hope she remains open to the men who will try to win her heart but to be discerning and separate their words from their actions.  I hope that among her options is a man that truly loves and deserves her.  I hope she is able to fully enjoy each of her experiences without any care of the impression she is making on her suitors and I wish her all the best on her journey that could lead to one of the most important decisions of her life.

What is Love ?

My husband is not the romantic type - at least not in the traditional sense. In fact we often joke about his almost complete “lack” of a romantic bone in his body.  For example if he has ever bought me flowers, the occasions have been so few and far between that they have been forgotten.  His idea of buying me a treat of dark chocolate will usually be the selection that our grocery store checkout has to offer (not that I don’t enjoy Dove).  And in our nine years of marriage he has never planned a spontaneous romantic getaway (not saying I would have gone anyway since for many of those years we had young children).

On the other hand, although he is a definite meat lover he has learned to prepare a tofu dish for me that would rival those in many restaurants.   He never fails to take my car for servicing when necessary and he will regularly do our laundry. Recently my mother’s Internet phone was not working.  She lives in Jamaica and we depend on this phone for our frequent conversations.  My husband remained persistent and spent several hours determining the cause and ultimately finding the solution to fix the phone.  He smiled when he told me that it was fixed and he knew how important it was for me to speak with my mother regularly.

My point?  Don’t worry if your husband does not live up to your idea of romantic.  Many of them won’t.  But try not to miss the many ways that he shows his love for you. Then you may actually discover that your husband is more romantic than you ever realized.  

Movie Lessons in Love

With very few exceptions I never met a romantic comedy that I did not enjoy.  A few months ago while doing a 24-hour in hospital shift(part of my Ob/Gyn) responsibilities,            

I had some down time and I was able to re-watch parts of the movies Hitch and The Wedding Planner.  I had watched both movies years earlier, I enjoyed them at the time and I still found them both very entertaining.  However this time having researched and written my book I was able to have a more critical eye and I was reminded of two important lessons in the road to find the right mate that I would like to share with you.

The man of your dreams can be very awkward.  All the fairy tales of old were filled with handsome debonair men who swept the innocent women off their feet and they lived happily ever after.  Based on my research I think many women still secretly yearn for that type of man.  The problem is – he is not real.   None of us really have it all together and I would suggest it is much better to know your potential mate with all his faults rather than falling for a nicely dressed veneer who you realize you don’t like when the veneer fades.  Hitch (the character) could not maintain his game when he was around the woman he really cared for and she was able to have the luxury and the good fortune to get to know the real person. Although they had their bumps, as any relationship will, the knowledge of each of their true selves was able to ultimately unite them.  If a guy is too easily able to maintain his game with you I suggest to you that he really is not that into you and beware because if you are into him, heartbreak is likely in your future,

As I emphasized in my book, Please God Send Me a Husband make sure that you know the man that you are about to marry well before you take the plunge -without the facade.   Because that lack of knowledge could potentially lead to the demise of your relationship.

This leads me to the second lesson that was emphasized in The Wedding Planner. Don’t be afraid to back out of your wedding, even if it is at the last minute.  I would suggest that all the inconvenience and embarrassment that you may face by ending it even on the day pales in comparison to the pain that you would experience by being married to the wrong person and having to go through the failure of the marriage. I have spoken with many women who lived to regret their choice to go through with their wedding despite the warning signs. 

So if you are a fan like I am, go ahead and enjoy those romantic comedies and you may even have the added bonus of gaining some lessons in choosing the right mate. 

If you don't think you will be #happier if you get #married, do yourself and your potential future spouse a favor- Stay #Single

Back in my single days I remember comments from individuals mostly single men expressing that they would be just as happy single as they would be married.  So if that’s you, do yourself and your potential future spouse a favor and don’t get married.  I am not suggesting that people who decide to get married need to be unhappy in their single state.  Rather they should expect that their life and the life of their partner will be enhanced by marriage.  They should expect to be happier because if not what is the point.  What is the point of entering an institution as important as marriage if you don’t expect that it will make your life better or if you are unwilling to do what it takes to enhance your partner’s life.  A simple analogy would be like changing jobs for the same pay and the same satisfaction with all the discomfort of and additional stress that comes with change.  So if you are satisfied being single and don’t think that your life will be improved by marriage embrace it, accept it, and continue to enjoy your single life.  Avoid the temptation to get married because you think it is the right thing to do. Such a decision will likely lead to disappointment for both you and your potential spouse and could be a set up for the failure of your marriage.