Dancing

It was a wonderful weekend with Ted. On Friday night, he cooked us dinner and afterwards, we danced to different songs that we’re considering for our wedding song. I think we picked a winner.

I played a song for him that I used to sing with my dad at the piano as a kid. Mom would be getting ready to go out, putting on her makeup, and we’d sit on the piano bench, playing & singing while we waited for the babysitter. I started dancing with Ted to this song and started weeping. It was an ugly cry, likely a culmination of the stress and joy I’ve been feeling, as my mom finishes chemo, we plan a fall 2021 wedding, and I think of my sweet dad taking it all in.

We danced for about an hour – maybe longer – and we laughed as we snuck in a few other songs, like disco & of course, Erasure. I tried to convince him that the acoustic version of Always would make the “perfect wedding song” but we both knew it wouldn’t. “This is so 80s,” he said.

We awoke on Saturday and headed to downtown Boston where we met with our jeweler, who is designing our ruby ring, in remembrance of mom’s side of the family. The surrounding diamonds come from a ring that mom gave us – our own heirloom. When the ring is done, Ted will pick it up & formally propose. I think it’ll all feel real then.

I cooked Saturday night after a long nap, and then on Sunday, we cleaned out my fridge in prep for my new appliances coming this week. With a fresh coat of paint, my condo will soon be ready to sell, and off we’ll be on our next adventure: cohabitation when we find the right home.

Everyone keeps commenting on how shitty 2020 has been, but if you ask me, it’s been pretty remarkable on a personal level. Mom is healing, I have a great job, and if the timing works, I’ll be soon engaged to the love of my life at the age of 45. I’m not trying to be flippant and say that it’s been a great year on a global scale, but my point is that it has been good for me. And let’s not forget that I’m going to be a stepmom to two remarkable boys.

Here’s to more dancing. 💃🏻

When to ask for help

There are lots of wonderful changes happening in my life. Ted and I are working with a jewelry designer on a ring, we’re looking at purchasing a house together, and in short, we are merging our individual lives into a family. As my dad would say, it really is a beautiful thing. I have a great, meaningful job. Mom’s health is in check. Overall, things are good.

But there is this underneath malaise. My muscles are tied in knots, I am eating more sugar than I have in years, I wake up at 2am and 4 am every night, and apparently, I have cracked several teeth during the night from teeth grinding, causing potential future issues. So, why am I reacting this way to all that happiness? Well, there’s Covid. And the election. And while I am thrilled at my new life, it means saying goodbye to much of my current life, including my home and solace. I’ve been living alone my entire adult life. In 2019, I added plants that remained alive, and then I added Nermal the cat into the mix. Phew, all still alive! Now I’m adding in husband and stepsons, plus new home, new routines, new commute, a lot of newness all at once. It feels exciting and scary all at once.

It’s natural to feel this way, and trust me, I have zero interest in changing anything (except maybe the whole Covid thing, the mom illness thing, and the Trump thing) but in terms of my own life, I like the direction it is headed. But it is a lot to process and I’m seeing some reverting to bad old habits, like overeating and overspending. I want to nip those things quickly. So I reached out to my longtime therapist today and asked if we can meeting weekly for a while. I am aware enough to catch things before they escalate. Her compassion and encouragement to take care of myself really helps. There’s no judgement, but rather, she points out patterns, trends, and is quick to remind me to be kind to myself. I need that right now.

So I’m writing this to get out my thoughts but also knowing that my many subscribers will also be reading this. It’s ok to ask for help.

2 more weeks

Election Day is coming up in about 2 weeks.

I don’t say too much on my public social media, but here, I can be free to speak my mind without the repercussions of backlash.

I am secretly praying in my head that Trump loses the election. He is very worrisome to me. I truly believe he is a crook, bigot, and chauvinist. I have deep rooted fears that he has been secretly tricking our government by not appropriately paying taxes like the rest of us (or some of us, at least). I think behind closed doors he says racial slurs and comments about women. I know he also says them in public! Do I think he believes them? Some. I see footage from his campaign rallies and I believe he is telling lies, such as that he believes Covid-19 isn’t that bad (I think he believes it is THAT bad but doesn’t want his followers to think that). I bet he even talks smack about his followers behind closed doors. A friend of mine posted on FB this morning that he believes the Trump family is secretly funneling money to places where they can’t be prosecuted by the US. It is a conspiracy theory that I buy into, despite trying so hard to be very disciplined in only basing my comments in fact.

But, if I can watch Dateline or 48 Hours, and see that one man is able to convince 8 women to marry him and steal all of their money, then anything is possible.

I have another friend who recently said she’s a Trump supporter. There’s something I admire about my friends who can do that. I want her to vote for the person she supports. It’s the people who secretly will vote for Trump that bother me more. If you’re going to support him, speak your mind and tell me why. If you make it seem like you’re undecided but you know you’ll vote for Trump, for some reason, that bothers me. It’s not right – I know – because no one has share their vote. It’s a right to privacy. But I want to know why people are voting for Trump (or for Biden).

Why did I vote for Biden?

  • He has a long track record in politics. I like that he is experienced.
  • He recruited a very capable VP candidate who I believe is smart, fair, and wants the best for the country.
  • While he was VP, he had a bit of a reputation of being loud and passionate. I like that. But I’ve also seen that he can be thoughtful and mind mannered, which I also like.
  • He is not as liberal as Bernie Sanders. He believes in capitalism over socialism. So do I.
  • (although…) He doesn’t want to get rid of ACA, which I DO believe in. Why? Because I’ve utilized it when I needed insurance. I’ve gotten free healthcare as a result.
  • He is committed to getting us back on track as a good neighbor and partner with our ally countries. He is not a nationalist, but he does believe that immigration reform is important. I agree; I am all for welcoming everyone to our country as long as they do so legally or apply for protection as a refugee. Just because I am a 4th generation American doesn’t mean my family didn’t begin as immigrants in this country. Who am I to keep people out who want to be here?
  • He’s lived through some serious hardships, like losing his first wife and a child, and then losing another child to illness. He also has a son with substance abuse issues. He has overcome a disability of his own. This likely makes his more sympathetic to the plight of others. He is also not afraid to show how far he has come through hard work and perseverance.
  • For some reason, I trust him. I don’t think he’s lying about his taxes or squirrelling money away if he loses the election.

I mailed in my ballot last week so technically, I voted. But the above are some of the reasons why I voted for Biden.

Thanks for reading! I have absolutely no problem if you disagree with me. Just my thoughts!

It’s our turn, Claire!

I’m watching the season premiere of The Bachelorette on Hulu, and I got a bit teary when Claire, aged 39, said she’s been on the sidelines, rooting on her friends and it’s now her turn.

I said the same thing to Ted this week as we talk seriously about taking the next step.

If you consider we start dating around 15, I’ve been rooting my friends on for 30 years now. Granted, I’ve dated but other than my college boyfriend, nothing has been as serious as my relationship with Ted. I’ve never felt jealous or threatened about my friends’ relationships. I’ve always embraced their joy, rooting them on as engagement and marriage came for them.

I dated a flurry of decent (and not so decent) guys but no one serious. When Ted and I first dabbled in marriage talk, like “small or big wedding,” I realize that I had subconsciously given up on meeting “the one.” I had no secret wedding dreams or ideas about rings. I hadn’t thought about where I’d reside with my husband. I had quietly come to peace with my life – being a single, independent career woman and “auntie.”

And now, what am I? Not single but otherwise, still career oriented, independent, and the best auntie out there! But now I’m more. I’m future step mom. I’m independent and part of a couple. I’m now also a home cook and someone’s partner. I’m still me but my priorities have naturally shifted.

It’s my turn. 🥰

Goal weight

I just saw this article on Rebel Wilson and it says she’s “6 pounds from her goal weight.” And recently, when a friend heard I had gastric sleeve surgery, she said that she too had it and asked me if I had reached my “goal weight.”

So, really, what is a goal weight? Is it the amount of weight you should be based upon your BMI? Or, perhaps the number a diet program tells you where you should be? Or, an arbitrary number you create in your head?

Ok. So say you hit your “goal weight.” You could be 2 pounds away, go to the restroom, and – surprise! – you’re there. Or, you could take off your jeans, put on shorts, and “eureka!” You’ve made it.

Listen, I’m as goal oriented as the next gal, but putting a random number out there in the universe isn’t always the best strategy for weight management.

When I’m asked about goals for my surgery, I simply state that I had no specific weight loss goal, but rather, I wanted to help set my body up for success as I age, by lowering my blood pressure, reducing the amount of weight on my fragile, arthritic knees & ankles, getting out of the “prediabetic” scale, and much more. I’ve ditched my cpap. Yes, I lost roughly 75-80 pounds but more so, I can walk up a set of stairs without panting. I can walk up the stairs period!

This is why I don’t love the concept of goal weight. It’s really hard to stay one weight. And what happens if you creep back up, as bodies tend to do until they’re at the “set point” for your body chemistry at that moment in time. No one ever says, “oh, look, you’ve gained weight!” Unless you’re recovering from an eating disorder.

When I gained 80 pounds, no one complimented me or asked me if I hit my goal. “Yes, I’ve had a sufficient share of ice cream and pie this year! Thanks for noticing.”

Probably best just not to ask or comment. Poor Rebel Wilson. What’ll page 6 says if she gains it back? ☹️

10/12/20

It feels as if 2020 has been going on forever! Happy Monday, all.

It’s Columbus Day today, or as it may be known in the future, Indigenous People Day. I like that concept.

My office never closes so when it is a holiday, we have to use ETO (earned time off) so alas, I’m working (or taking a break, and writing this post). I’m in Panera for a few minutes to grab a coffee and work a bit before I head to lunch with some colleagues. My wonderful cleaners come on Mondays now so I try to get out of their way if possible. Poor Nermal sees their vacuum cleaner and immediately bolts for the basement, hiding behind my very dusty washing machine. After they leave, I gently call her name and like a good little cat puppy, she comes running up the stairs, skeptically but hopeful that the evil vacuum cleaner is gone.

As I look out of the window, it’s a dreary day but the leaves are almost fully changed to beautiful shades of orange and red. It’s always a bit sad when they fall to the ground because then I know that winter is upon us.

Mom is doing well. She has (hopefully) one more round of chemo in November, and then they will discuss the next course of action, which we all hope will be a break from chemo. Unfortunately, NJ has been removed from the list of “approved” travel states via MA so if I go there now, I will have to get tested before and after I visit, and then quarantine at home – alone – for 2 weeks. I don’t know if I can be alone for 2 straight weeks right now so Thanksgiving plans are up in the air right now. It may be a Zoom Thanksgiving this year 😦 I am sure I am one among many who will have to do that this year.

Perhaps the most exciting news is that Ted and I are talking about getting married. Like, for reals this time. We’ve looked at some rings and have the names of a few jewelers that we’re going to visit. Since we’re not kids and don’t care too much about tradition, we’ve discussed getting me a ruby ring. My mom’s family are the Ruby’s, so it is a nice homage to my grandparents and my own roots. It makes it feel a lot more special, like the blending of our two worlds. With no end of Covid-19 in sight, we’ve discussed having a small wedding, perhaps in his parent’s backyard, and very low key. I am so glad because I never wanted a big wedding where I have to spend so much time planning and worrying about everyone else. I want simple, low key, and it to be focused on us. We’ll likely do something later on via zoom or small group gatherings. And, we are hoping to move in together in 2021 after we find a house that we like (and can afford!). I may hold onto my condo for an investment, but it is a little daunting to think about being a homeowner times 2!

That’s the latest news. More to come!

Prez has the Covid.

President Trump has Covid-19. I woke up at 2am and saw the news. I went downstairs, had a spoonful of ice cream, and climbed back into bed.

I don’t like the guy but it doesn’t mean I want him to have Covid. I feel as though our country is unstable enough that we don’t need this on top of everything else.

I can’t help but feel like we may stabilize a bit if Trump doesn’t win the election. I am so fearful he’ll win again and we’ll have 4 more unstable years.

Mom said there are theories that Trump is making it up. It’s possible. CNN said he had a fever. Who knows?

All I know is that I’m going apple picking tomorrow and that’ll be nice! 🥰

Undecided

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts this morning, The Daily, from the New York Times, and they were talking about undecided voters.

It’s so hard for me to think of someone being undecided in this year’s Presidential election. I feel like they’re both pretty different in terms of their political views. I guess one could be undecided if they agree with some of Trump’s and some of Biden’s choices, or vice versa – dislike a little of each, so they’re stuck in the middle.

I had a lively and fascinating conversation a few weeks ago with a Trump supporter who is also a very dear friend, and frankly, someone I admire. Her points were valid. She said she likes how Trump supports Israel, which is very important to her, and she likes how he has helped the economy. According to the Daily, Trump leads when voters asked about the economy – he definitely has a lead when it comes to financial perceptions. That’s when I like to see the numbers. Perception is that he is a businessman, and therefore, he has helped the economy. But he also bankrupt many companies and real estate, which is usually only discussed by the “left.”

I told my friend that she should absolutely vote for Trump since he is her choice. But, I told her it is very simple for me. I could never vote for Trump because of how disrespectful he is to women. I never got over that Extra video of him behind the scenes with Billy Bush when he talked about “grabbing by the p….” That was it for me. I don’t care if he was being “playful” or “silly” or “braggadocios.” It offended me to the core.

I don’t want him to win, but I also want Americans to feel like they can vote for whomever they want. It’s one of the reasons I love this country – our freedom to vote, to speak openly, to oppose openly, and to be who we are. And this is why I can’t ever vote for Trump. I am watching him slowly eliminate some of these freedoms.

I wish I could talk to some of the undecided voters and find out why they haven’t decided yet. If you read any good articles on this, please post them in the comments below.

What if…

There are all of these “what if” scenarios bopping around in my head so I thought it would be fun to think about some alternate universe situations. It’s good to sometimes write these things down to get them out of floating in my head!

…Covid arrived in a non-election year.

Do you think President Trump would have handled it differently with the public? Do you think he would have encouraged people to wear masks since he wasn’t trying to put on re-election rallies? Or. would he acted the same way, downplaying how bad this pandemic actually is? Would the other Democratic nominee hopefuls – Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Pete, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, etc – have withdrawn their candidacy against Biden when they did? I assume President Obama called them all on the phone and told them they needed to come together as a party. Would that have happened so soon, or would it have dragged on longer?

…Covid never happened at all (big picture)

Let’s be honest. The entire world has been forever changed due to Covid. How would it be if we never experienced this pandemic? We’d still be commuting, traveling, socializing. Schools would have started a while ago in most states, and kids would be dragging those huge backpacks on their backs through the hallways, on route to their lockers. Likely many unhappy marriages would still be dragging on due to lack of quarantine where they realized, “I can’t anymore!” The economy would probably be trucking along with a healthy stock market. Many restaurants that have closed in 2020 would still be in business. The supply chain would still be functioning, and there wouldn’t be a lack of Clorox wipes throughout the country. We probably wouldn’t be seeing toilet paper brands written in Spanish in our local CVS because there be plenty of Charmin to squeeze. And nearly 200k (and counting) people may still be alive (some may have died regardless of Covid) here in the US. And 956k people may not have died worldwide.

…Covid never happened (in my world)

Work:

I may have started my job sooner than mid-May, so I’d be further along in my progress. I’d be working in the office, so I would know my colleagues much better, but I would also likely be more caught up in the gossip and drama.

Home:

I’d still be stressed about when I would be able to find the time to clean, do laundry, organize my guest room – all things that happen(ed) as a result of Covid.

Relationship:

I don’t think it would be any different. 🙂

@JoannaAfter40

I probably wouldn’t have the time to make my videos, which have become so much fun for me and I love making them!

So, here’s what I’ve learned. My life has been A-Ok during Covid. I’ve had good health and happiness regardless. I like my new job and despite the gossip, I like it and the projects I’m working on. Plus, many of my colleagues are awesome (there are a few mean girls, but ignoring them).

The rest of the world? Not sure it’s A-OK!

Unrest

Just put on CNN for 5 minutes & had to shut it off. Hurricane Laura is coming, the Republican National Convention speakers keep referring to Biden & Harris as “socialists,” and another person was killed by police (and caught on video), this time in Kenosha. Holy shit.

No wonder no one is sleeping. This country is in a state of unrest. Oh, and did I mention we’re still in the middle of a Covid-19 pandemic.

I keep wondering how this period of time, how 2020, will be remembered in terms of our nation’s history. Will we look back and reflect on this era as we do with the Flu Outbreak of 1918 or the Great Depression? We think we’re so much more advanced now with our technology and vaccinations but in the meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people – in first world countries (and others, mind you) – are dying.

There’s been a series of articles on BuzzFeed about college students complaining on social media that they aren’t getting proper meals delivered to them at NYU. Um, you’re in the middle of NYC. Put on your mask & step outside your front door. There’s a world of cuisine there for you. I understand it isn’t a cheap city but people on low incomes make it work. Figure it out. I just get so annoyed by this helpless mentality. How are these kids going to survive in life if they can’t figure these things out?

I seriously sound like a crotchety person! But it’s the unrest that’s so unsettling. Speaking of, I think my doctor and I have figured out the root of my insomnia so let’s hope that one tiny glimmer of hope is on the horizon. 😉

Thanks for giving me a safe space to kvetch! Onto brighter & happier days ahead! 👍

Tired.

It’s 8am and I woke up tired. I’ve been dealing with a bad episode of insomnia. I’ve been trying everything to conquer it: OTC medication, baths, new curtains, unplugging early, you name it. Last night, I was in my living room around 3am just wandering around. My cat is very confused why I am awake during her “day.”

The next step is to try my CPAP again. Ugh. Before I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, I was very restless and even think I dozed off while driving to work. At least now I’m at home. Honestly, besides the stress, I think I’m just too sedentary. I need to go outside & walk. Even though I’m technically “quarantined,” I think I need to do this for sanity purposes!

How do you get a restful night’s sleep, assuming you do?

DEI

Today, I participated in several conversations about racism and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). I was late in learning about the term “DEI.” In fact, I remember the first time I was heard it. It was at last year’s She+ Geeks Out conference here in Boston, where, quite frankly, much of the conference was devoted to this topic. It was also the first time I received a name tag that asked me to also include my “pronouns.” At first it felt strange, but then, there was something empowering about it. I felt like it would be helpful to see other’s pronouns so I was able to address them appropriately. Now, I’ll be honest, I initially thought it was such a “Millennial” or “Gen Z” thing to encourage. But, like I said, I bought into it as could see the value.

A few months later, I had to participate in our annual sexual harassment training at work. I thought the video they asked us to review was actually quite helpful. It very clearly defined what sexual harassment in the workplace is, and it also clarified the differences between “sex” and “gender.” It also gave a clear overview on what non-binary means, and again, I really understood the importance of knowing someone’s pronouns. I have several acquaintances with children who have transitioned from male to female at a fairly young age. Again, knowing their pronouns – even now – are super helpful to be inclusive and respectful.

If you’ve been following along on my blog, you’ve probably seen my early post about my unsettled feelings about the burgeoning racial tensions happening here and abroad. I find some of the things I’m hearing and reading a bit off putting, a sort of “crowd mentality” towards equity. Did people always feel this way, or did they just on the bandwagon since “everyone is doing it”? You remember – I had a hard time with the whole “black square” thing on Instagram. It felt like lip service. I’ll simply put this black square on my instagram and now I’m woke. It just felt like empty promises.

From 2004-2007, I worked at our local aquarium as the manager of volunteer programs and internships. I interviewed either in person or via phone over 2,000 people each year for about 1,000 opportunities. I had to learn quickly about HR best practices, which were somewhat applicable to volunteers, but more importantly, I had to educate others partnering with me on the “dos” and “don’ts” of interviews. I still remember coaching a new manager on how he could not discriminate against an applicant because of her age. “But she may not have the physical qualifications,” he said. I asked him to reconsider that comment and judge her based on her abilities. She ended up being an excellent volunteer. Around late 2005 or 2006, I was asked to co-chair a new initiative at the Aquarium: the diversity council. I accepted the position, and began to work with a diverse group of colleagues on how we could do a better job of hiring people other than white men in all of the senior roles. They’ve had female CEOS since then. We also wanted to advance our outreach so that our audience reflected the community we were serving. We expanded our marketing, employment and volunteer recruitment outreach. We moved the needle a bit.

But, that wasn’t my first foray into thinking about inclusion. In fact, I wrote an article on this very subject for my high school newspaper back in 1993. My friend shared it with me recently. I blurred out the racially-insensitive word that apparently, in 1993, you could still print as a “quote.” But I’m just not comfortable putting that word on my blog, so you can infer. Anyhow, here goes:

1993. Let that sink in for a moment. When my friend shared this photo with me, I realized why I was feeling so unsettled. A: not much has changed in 27 years, and B: this shit’s been bothering me for at least 27 years! So pardon me if I am annoyed with this bandwagon mentality. I am not saying that I am not supportive of moving the needle a LOT MORE in support of DEI, but my point is that I’ve cared about these important issues for 27+ years.

Ok, so you’re reading along and you’re thinking, “Well, isn’t that self righteous of you, Joanna? You’ve cared for 27 years. So what? What have you done to help?” And in some ways, you’re correct. I can admit there have been times I may have been complacent in my “white privilege.” But I think I have been sensitive to these issues because of the anti-semitism I experienced in middle school and high school, & the sexism I experienced in the workplace (as recently as last year).

There have also been things that have made me raise my eyebrows, though, in other aspects of my life separate from work.

Back to today’s conversations about DEI. I’m now working for a fantastic medical center, affiliated with Harvard, and we’re working hard to take what’s going on in the world seriously, besides finding a cure for Covid. I’m pleased with what I’ve heard so far on how thoughtfully the leadership are handling things.

My final thought is this: we’ve been going in circles. Let’s do better this time. Let’s progress to the point where we really feel a significant change. I wish I knew concretely what that change is, but I am committed to helping to be part of the solution. If you made it this far in this lengthy post, I salute you. You may completely disagree with my thoughts and that’s totally fine with me. As I said to my dear friend this week, we’re all handling our reactions to Covid differently. We certainly can react differently when it comes to a charged topic like DEI. We tend to react based upon our own experiences, so mine may be WAY different than yours. I’m open to your feedback so please share in the comments or privately.

Veep

At some point during yesterday afternoon, Joe Biden announced his running mate – Kamala Harris. I know very little about her so far. I told Ted that I didn’t want to get into a discussion about her until I research and learn more. I haven’t had time to do that yet other than listen to 2 podcasts this morning – Up First (NPR) and The Daily (NYT). These are more left-leaning so I need to find some more middle of the road resources in order to learn the facts. I have such a hard time finding those these days – the news tends to be so polarizing. I don’t want to go to Fox News or the like as those will be too right leaning. So, where do I go? NPR says doesn’t lean one way or the other, but in my opinion, it feels a bit more liberal to me.

I’m going to be upfront and say that the likelihood that I vote for Trump is 0.0%, so Biden/Harris will get my vote, but I want it to be educated. I don’t want to be one of those people who votes “against” Trump/Pence, but rather, I’d prefer to say I voted “for” Biden and Harris. It’s all semantics, really, but in my heart and mind, I want to know that I made a decision that sits right with me at the end of the day. If you recall, I unaffiliated with any political party a while back because I was so fed up with choosing a side, but I do tend to connect more with the Democratic party in most ways.

With that said, I prefer to be a voters based upon policy rather than party, but there isn’t much choice out there these days. And while I don’t verbalize this publicly, I am deeply concerned about the state of affairs in this country under Trump’s leadership. While I understand that you need to have a healthy ego to run a country, he appears to be a Narcissist, which is a mental disorder that doesn’t provide much thought towards others’ well being.

But, I do want to address something to my readers who are hopeful for a Biden win. It is very clear to me that, despite a downfallen economy, the rich are still pretty rich under Trump. Even I moved into a new tax bracket twice under Trump. Listen, my colleague just told me that her daughter received a lot more in unemployment than while she was actually working full-time. If there is any hint that the stimulus money – whether it be for small companies or individuals – will decrease under Biden, trust me – he will lose the election. People – in VERY general terms – often vote with their wallets. So I just want those of you who think there is no way that Trump can win again may be in denial. Just want to be real. I do not want him to win, but he may if he positions himself correctly at his fundraising dinners. So, if we want Biden/Harris to win, we need them to reinforce that they will continue supporting Americans and American companies financially as we pass through this Covid-19 crisis. By all means, if you disagree, put it in the comments. I really want to hear your thoughts.

And while you’re at it, if you can recommend some non-biased reading material on Harris, please send me links or ideas!

We’re all in this together!

I am feeling very lethargic today. It’s likely because I really don’t think I slept too much last night. It may be the extreme heat, or the general malaise that is blanketing the entire world population due to Covid-19. Numbers are up ticking slowly but it has caused some necessary delay in progress. For example, my friend from New Zealand said that because of 4 new cases there, they’ve taken a step back towards lock down until they determine the cause of the new outbreak. This virus isn’t a joke!

How do I deal with it? I try to focus on what I can control within my life. Ted is coming over tonight and tomorrow, so that’ll be nice to have his company. Tomorrow night, my neighbors will join us for an outdoor, socially-distanced BBQ, and then a group of us from college will reunite this weekend for some strategically-planned festivities, namely outside. I will then be taking another Covid test so I can go visit my parents. My mom is in the middle of monthly chemo – and handling it quite well – so I will visit them a bit and work remotely from their place in NJ.

In my spare time, I’m busy making videos for JoannaAfter40. Here is a link to the channel if you want to take a peak.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_zEmTfbi0OUEdnfsZlCOfA

(Let me know if that link gives you an problems – it’s a little wonky from my end to test it out).

My new job continues to go well. I’m getting busier, and feeling more connected to the team, despite on-boarding virtually. My colleagues have been very welcoming and helpful, which is always a delight. I’ve been keeping up with my colleagues from my last job as well, which is great because they’re such a lovely bunch of people!

So that’s it for today. I hope wherever you are, you and your family are hanging in there! Remember, as much as it sucks, we’re all in this together!

Our New Normal (?)

When I first starting writing about Covid-19 on this blog, I seriously thought it would be “over” by now. It’s been about 6 months, and we’re still dealing with living during a pandemic. It is such a strange time. Sometimes I describe it as feeling like an alternative universe. I know I’ve written that here before, but it just feels so appropriate.

The current dilemma is making decisions about whether or not to open schools, or just continue to home school children to keep them safe from catching Covid, or spreading it to others. I think Ted’s kids’ school is heading towards a hybrid-model, with a mixture of in-person and online learning. While it seems like a great option to keep kids socialized, I imagine it is scary for parents and teachers (and the kids) to think about being together in a classroom. They’ll wear masks, which will help, but it sounds like a very stressful situation all around. Then again, if students are home all of the time, many parents will have to work remotely with them at home, and I’ve heard lots of people may need to quit their jobs in order to be a parent. It’s a messy, unprecedented situation.

I have to say that I am really glad that I live in Massachusetts, as I have been continually impressed with the level of mask wearing among the public, and the leadership that our governor, Charlie Baker, has demonstrated. As you know, I voted for him, and I’m very glad I did, as he has been doing a really terrific job navigating these uncharted waters. My parents live in NJ and they seems to be doing a good job there, too, so that’s reassuring.

I visited with Ted’s friends (well, technically now, our friends) last weekend in Rhode Island, and I noticed that we were among the only people outside wearing masks. And, wouldn’t you know it – residents are now banned from visiting other states without a Covid test. I am not surprised. The masks work. I know, broken record!

More thoughts on this to come!

Herman Cain, where was your mask?

“Herman Cain died,” my brother told me earlier this afternoon. I searched around my brain for a recollection on who he was. My brother then said, “From Covid. He was at a recent Trump rally.”

Then I said, “Wait, the doctor who ran for President?” My brother nodded.

My immediate response was: “This shit is no joke.” If you’re in your 70s in a crowded auditorium without a mask, you can contract this virus and die. Hell, you could be in your 20s or 40s, catch it, and die.

This whole mask wearing thing is not a hoax. I’m so frustrated that people are politicizing it.

“Being told to wear a mask removes my rights. Being told to wear a mask means I’m a Democrat. Being told to wear a mask is silly; they don’t help.”

No, wearing a mask can help save the life of others. I witnessed a crowd of people today aggressively trying to get their Greek food order before the other people on line. If we didn’t all have masks, who knows how many of us could’ve contracted the virus by the close proximity? I sadly will not frequent that food place again because of it. Not worth the risk.

Why didn’t you just wear a mask, Herman?

Updated on 8/6/20:

Herman Cain was not a doctor, but rather, he was a businessman. My apologies for the error.

7/22/20

Just a quick update. Spent Sat – Tues (am) was n Rockport, MA & fell in love with the town! Ted & I stayed at an Airbnb right on the water, and we celebrated my brother’s in laws’ 50th anniversary, which was so enjoyable.

Right outside our door!

My job is really starting to pick up and I’m liking it very much! We are one of the 5 places researching a vaccination for Covid-19 that are considered in the running tone successful so we’re in the press a lot. Lots of pride already!

I’m busy with my fashion & makeup channel called @joannaafter40. Any excuse to rationalize my online shopping!

Not much else to report. More photos/videos, instead!

Life Update 7/8/20

It’s been a minute since I’ve written. I keep composing posts in my head, but then I don’t get around to writing them. Perhaps it is because I’m busy with my new job and @JoannaAfter40, my new fashion/makeup/lifestyle brand or whatever you want to call it.

I’m on a new medication – temporarily – that makes me a bit hyper for most of the day, but around this time – 5:30pm – I crash and get really sleepy. I’ve also been trying to train my lovely cat, Nermal, to stop waking me at 3am or 5am for food. She is clearly just bored and wants attention. She’s been fast asleep on the rug next to me all day, which is adorable, but means she’ll be well rested for her night roaming!

I am really liking my new job but it’s hard to onboard virtually, especially when I can’t get into the hospital to see the space and get the lay of the land. I need to be more patient with myself. I want to raise lots of money, but the truth is, I need to learn the content first. I didn’t really start fundraising at my last job for about 6 months in so I need to remind myself to be patient.

Mom has her second round of chemo tomorrow – it’s a monthly process now – and she seems to be adjusting well to it. I hope that continues. Dad is in good spirits as well. My brother and sister-in-law will visit them this weekend so they’ll be in good hands.

I’m heading with Ted and the boys to the Cape on Saturday to see his entire family -parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, and kiddos. I met this entire group last summer as well so it will be nice to reconnect, one year later.

Trying to think of what else is new and interesting. Not a whole lot! Ted and I are talking about buying a house together in about a year or so, so that has been a big conversation. I am working on getting my finances in order so I can put myself on a budget & save for that. I’m considering keeping my condo as an investment so there are many “grown up” decisions to be made.

Sometimes I forget I’m 45 years old and an adult – perhaps it is from the abundance of Hello Kitty paraphernalia around my apartment -and then I have to remind myself that, “Yes, Joanna, you are indeed in your 40s and an adult and the like.” Because I have this adventuresome spirit, I sometimes want to just jump on a plane and visit Rome. And then I remember it’s Covid-time and we aren’t allowed into Europe. I told my dad that it feels like we’re living in an alternate universe. I’m pretty sure I’ve written that before – when Trump was elected -and now with quarantine and all of the mask-wearing, I am still waiting until I wake up from this collective nightmare.

I think I mentioned this at some point, but I am working with an executive coach and that is stirring up a whole new set of new thoughts – trying to change lifelong behaviors is hard! We are working through something called the Kantor profile now, where we look at our behaviors in relationship to our family life -past & present. Fun, right? It stirs up all sorts of stuff! And because she’s a coach and not a therapist, there isn’t that sugar-coating the way a therapist may use to ease you into your flaws. Stirring up all sorts of perfectionism challenges! I think I may need to bring out my copy of the Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown!

Ted is on route with dinner (delicious burgers) so I am going to sign off now. I hope all of you readers are happy, well, and Covid-free. Or, if not, on the mend…

New week!

Finally starting to feel better today! While I’m sure it was allergies, I did a drive-thru Covid test today just in case. But I’m 95% sure it’s just allergies. Thank you to those of you who checked in on me!

Got a really nice response to a work email today from a prospective donor so I feel like I’m on the right track. It’s so nice having time to actually do my job well – get everything documented and followed up on time – versus in the past where I had so much on my plate. Really enjoying my job!

That’s all for today. ❤️

Covid or allergies?

I’m feeling very “off” again today. I came home with a sore throat and feel exhausted so I’m getting another covid test on Monday just in case. Hoping it’s just allergies but in the meanwhile, I’ll stay at home. I talked to my boss about the work incident I wrote about earlier this week and now I regret it. I don’t want to cause problems. Ah, stress. It rears it’s ugly head. More later.

Anyhow, just wanted to document today.

2 years + 1 day

June 22, 2018 was a life changing day for my whole family. If you’ve been following along on this blog, then you remember. Mom and dad arrived early at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Soon thereafter, mom was taken into surgery and about 12 hours later, her surgeon emerged with the news that she had removed all visible cancer.

During those 12 hours, we waited. We paced. Strolled to admire the photo gallery on the walls. Talked. Played games on tablets and phones. Read. And waited.

The next 2 weeks were challenging as we watched mom navigate her new body, rebuilt by a team of physicians in an operating room. Visitors came and went. There was a constant flow of texts and calls. We came to love the team of nurses and staff at the hospital.

Eventually I had to get back home to my job, my home, and my new relationship with Ted. But I quickly returned, to help my parents at home and settle into our “new normal.”

The next year was incredibly challenging with the highest highs and the lowest lows. Mom had complications with Cdiff and we watched her wither away.

She mentally gave up. We said our goodbyes. “Do you want me to speak at your funeral?” I asked her in January 2019. Our favorite clergy sang songs of peace on the phone to us.

And then mom’s doctor said it wasn’t her time to go. We encouraged her to fight. She went home; Dad and our aide Sophia nursed her back to life. She grew stronger and stronger. She started coming back to us.

By the summer, we celebrated 50 years of marriage between my parents. Our favorite clergy (minus 1) celebrated with us. It was a beautiful day.

Then we heard a magical word: remission. We had kicked cancer’s ass.

Life began to feel calmer. We started getting our lives back, whatever that means. But, I’m not going to lie. I had the word “reoccurrence” in the back of my mind. So, when mom’s test numbers began to elevate this winter, no one was surprised. Ovarian cancer is chronic; it usually returns. And it did, as demonstrated by a cat scan. Even though it wasn’t a surprise, I still cried to Ted. It’s not fair, I thought.

Now we are here again – 1 chemo session down, many more ahead. But mom is handling it better this time and despite Covid, she’s staying social, mostly on the phone, between the naps caused by chemo fatigue.

I’ve been wondering why my sleep is so disrupted lately. Probably Covid- related? No, I think it’s because I try to carry the weight of the cancer on my shoulders so my parents don’t have to carry it.

So, what now? I look at this time as precious with my mom and dad. I may be 5 hours away but we’re in each other’s hearts.

Here are the lessons I’ve learned during these last 2 years:

1. You realize quickly who truly cares about you when you’re going through something like this.

2. Sadly, you also learn who doesn’t care enough or is “too busy” to support you.

3. Don’t wait to share your will, funeral requests or the like with your adult kids. Be open and honest, like my folks.

4. It is crucial to practice self care while also supporting a sick loved one. You will be a way better support for them if you also take time for yourself.

5. Caretakers must have an outlet to talk, vent, cry, laugh. Clergy, significant other, therapist, friend – or all of the above!

6. Taking a sleep aid or medication to get through things is not a weakness nor does it mean it is a permanent solution.

7. Having a supportive boss/job is crucial, but it doesn’t mean you don’t need to put in the work to balance it all.

8. Find your catharsis. For me, it’s writing. For dad, it’s nature & photography. For mom, it’s helping others in need. For my brother, it’s picking on me (just kidding!).

9. It’s ok to be vulnerable with your sick loved one. It’s ok to share you’re sad, mad, frustrated, and whatever else you’re feeling. It’s better to just be honest.

10. We can’t control everything. So, sometimes, you just have to accept being dealt a shitty hand, and hope for a good one next round.

❤️

If we didn’t have to deal with other people at work, it would be perfect.

I was on Zoom call today with 3 new colleagues and something upsetting happened. Mind you, this call was initiated by them, not me, as part of my on-boarding. I do tend to ask a lot of questions during a training -namely, things that pertain to my work – so that I can learn once and become self sufficient. I usually operate by the “tell me once and you’ll never have to tell me again” theory. Besides, I don’t share this often, but I have close to a photographic memory, so if you should me something visual, I usually remember it. This is why I like to write things down. So, if someone schedules a “talk, talk, talk” meeting, I take copious amounts of notes because I retain information 5 more times if I see it than if I hear it (visual vs auditory learning). Anyhow, I digress…

Anyhow, we’re almost done with the call and granted, I asked many questions, but this was a training set up for me, so why not, right? Well, just before we signed off, the leader of the meeting messaged one of the participants on our internal instant messenger, “She’s kinda exhausting.” I thought it was on my computer first so I was confused, but then I realized it accidentally popped up on the shared screen so I saw it too. I stopped talking. They asked me if I had any more questions. I quickly said, “No, we’re done here.” I was stunned, embarrassed, and mortified. Here I am, taking my work incredibly seriously, and I was being punished for it.

I messaged her after the call and wrote:

I apologize for all of the questions. I am trying to learn so I don’t need to lean on your team. Thanks.

She immediately responded with:

No No no no no no no!!! I APOLOGIZE. I am so cranky right now.

Then she called me and profusely apologized. She explained that her frustration had nothing to do with me, but rather, a series of internal work politics she is dealing with. She took out her frustration on me. I explained to her that I am trying hard to learn quickly as I know my boss is tapped out, so that I can identify where I can find resources, etc. She apologized again, probably around 20 times, at which point I told her she was off the hook, and didn’t need to apologize anymore. I told her I got it, that Covid-19 and the protests and working from home and the like, were wrecking havoc on her. She thanked me profusely for “being an adult” and for being so understanding. I explained to her that I am incredibly sensitive to being too chatty and that I realized I had asked many questions. She assured me that she has no problem with it or me, but she stupidly took out her frustrations on me. And she clearly was sorry for it.

So, there you have it. I’m not going to deny I had tears in my eyes from the initial sting. But I’m going to let it roll off my back (after writing about it, clearly). I told her that she has no idea what shit I’ve gone through at various jobs and this is nothing comparably. But the reality is that ever since mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I’ve worked hard to not sweat the small stuff, like a clearly stressed out colleague who (pardon my French) fucked up and feels bad about it. I mostly worry about my parents as they age, how I can help Ted’s kids deal with their anxiety, and when I’m going to be able to get a pedicure again (ok, just kidding).

I often say to Ted: “If we didn’t have to deal with other people at work, it would be perfect.” I say this tongue in cheek, clearly, since my job is all about relationship building, but I mostly mean it in relation to the cranky folks. I love what I do for work and find so much personal satisfaction in it. But sometimes, you come across someone who clearly needs a vacation.

Us VS Them

I’ve been feeling very unsettled lately. Between Covid-19, the protests, new job, aging parents, and the like, things don’t feel settled; rather, they feel uncertain. I said to Ted that I feel like I’m teetering on a point and I could drop down on either side – the positive or the alternative (the place that we shall not mention!).

But, I think a large part contributing to my uneasiness is the great divide we are experiencing in this country. At first, I just thought it was political – you’re either a Democrat or a Republican. No middle ground. But now it feels like it is “black” vs “white” and “mask” or “no mask” and so much more. It feels very “us” vs “them.” If you don’t agree with one side or the other, you’re wrong. There is no room for a middle ground. Back in 2018, I unaffiliated with either political party here in the US (post about why linked here). So, I am neither Democrat nor Republican. So I am in the middle; where do I fit in? I would say I identify far more with the Democratic party, but I do not like the constant push for me to stand behind a candidate simply because he or she is a Democrat. We know I don’t like the current President. He has a track record of treating women inappropriately and mocking those with disabilities, and that bothers me.

There is also a lot of tumult going on regarding race relations in the US. I’m 150% supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement, the removal of historic statues of slave owners, and standing up for those who need my voice. When people argue about statues being part of our history, I can see their perspective, but then I think about how I’d feel if there were statues of Adolf Hitler and Nazis around me. I almost feel like we should put those statues in a museum to show up what our history was like in an effort not to repeat it – place them somewhere with a notation that this is our past – we acknowledge it -but we do not want to see it repeated. We have Holocaust museums for that purpose. We have African American museums that may be receptive to displaying these statues for the purpose of historical documentation – a sort of “never forget” mentality.

I wrote a few weeks back about how I felt a discomfort in posting a black square on my Instagram because I didn’t think it would make an impact. I guess people posted it to show a solidarity but I didn’t see how it would impact much change. It felt like “lip service.” But, it feels like when someone posts a differing opinion on social media these days, there are 20, 30, 100 people there to quickly jump down their throat for thinking differently. I’m not talking about folks who are writing about “all lives matter” and the like, but someone like me who may not see the impact of the black square posting. I just chose not to do it, and instead, wrote about it here. It doesn’t mean I don’t stand in solidarity; it just means I have chosen to make an impact in other ways.

You can see this is something I am clearly struggling with – if I don’t choose one side or the other, then I am fearful I will get attacked for not taking a stand. It’s “us” vs “them” and I refuse to take part in something other than a “grey area.”

I told me executive coach that I haven’t been sleeping well and she said many of us aren’t due to Covid-19 and the unrest in our country. Yes, she’s right. But I find some of the unrest also exciting as it may actually make an impact and force a change to racism in our country. Trump hosted a big rally this weekend and it wasn’t well attended. This gives me hope that we’re making progress in this country. His White House doesn’t demonstrate the change I want to see. The unrest may be helping move the needle in the right direction. I stand with that!

P.S. You may disagree with my thoughts posted and that is totally fine with me. These are just my thoughts and I am open to hearing other perspectives so email me, post comments, and push back as you see fit.

1970s Flashback

Imagine seeing yourself as a baby for first time. Granted, I have seen plenty of photos but never “live action” moving pictures of baby me. Recently my brother digitized my dad’s old home movies and put them on his YouTube channel. I finally sat down to watch them last night.

The first 20 minutes or so are mostly featuring my brother, and it was surreal to see all those baby photos I’ve seen for years “come to life.” I got choked up when I saw both of grandmothers – grandma & nanny – on screen. And, later, our dear sweet Elaine was there—my “second mom” who died of ovarian cancer about 5 years ago. I still miss her every day.

About 30 minutes in, you can see my 3rd birthday. What a treat to see! Towards the end I’m crawling around, furiously, and you can see the Carvel ice cream cake box in the forefront. It is still mine & my dad’s favorite birthday cake!

My dad had the sense, as far back as the early 70’s, to capture these moments of our family. I doubt he imagined his 45-year-old daughter gong back to watch them 40-50 years later. They’re a true treasure to have!

All the news from 6/15/20

Launched @JoannaAfter40 Facebook group today. If you’d like to join, just let me know and I can add you. Just a place for silliness & fun with fashion, makeup, and anything else under the sun. It’s also an excuse for me to justify all of my online purchases! 🤔

In other news, mom started chemo again. I hope she doesn’t mind me writing it here. Like she says, ovarian cancer is like a chronic illness. It can return and you just keep knocking it down with chemo. This one is monthly, so fewer side effects and that is a good thing, especially with covid. I was there last week & can say that I think my folks are in a good place. #optimism

And I’m loving my new job! It’s so great to be at a place where I feel appreciated. My new colleagues are cool and I like my new boss very much. I’m able to save a lot more now for retirement and invest in things, like a great new home office. Of course, the hospital I work for is terrific and serves a great need in Boston. I feel like all of my hard work is finally paying off!

Then there’s the love of my life, Ted. I don’t write a lot about him on social media and stuff because he’s a private person. However, I will just say that my love for him grows more & more every day! ❤️