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).

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.

There have also been things that have made me raise my eyebrows, though, in other aspects of my life separate from work. Ted and I have been discussing similarities to Nazi Germany, and it’s (pardon my French) fucking frightening.

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! ❤️

Fashion, Makeup, Accessories, and More!

Welcome to my new endeavor called @JoannaAfter40, where I review stuff, like clothing, shoes, bags, jewelry, makeup, skincare, and more. The skies the limit!

My modus operandi (m.o.) is to be kind and compassionate, but honest so you can trust that if I provide a review, it is an authentic opinion, whether the brand provided the product to me or not. I will make sure you know how I received a product or item – whether I purchased it myself or received it complimentary to review – so you can assess from there. You can find these reviews either in “All Posts” or simply click on “Posts by Topic” and then choose the link for “@JoannaAfter40.”

Would you like me to review a specific product? Do you have a brand or store you’d like me to feature? Please reach out on the Contact page and we can discuss!

More to follow!

Tuckered Out

Anyone else just feel pure exhaustion by the end of the day these days? It’s amazing how sitting at home all day – alone – in front of your computer can wipe you out? Granted, I’m in the middle of many conversations throughout the day, whether it is on social media, starleaf (my new job’s version of zoom), zoom in the evening with friends/family, facetime, email, face-to-face with neighbors through our windows. You see, we’re so not alone! We’re actively working, doing, thinking, writing, creating, and mostly, feeling.

And when I briefly check on Boston.com or NY Times online – or the news – it is march after march, protest after protest for George Floyd, for #blacklivesmatter. I support it. I support the way we all need to stick together. I certainly do not want anyone treated differently or unfairly or unjust simply because of their skin color. Don’t get me wrong.

But I’m drained. I’m worried about my mom’s health. I’m worried about my dad’s health as he cares for her. I feel guilty for not marching, for not fighting the cause because I’m consumed with my own needs. I’m consoling the kids when they freak out because I got a Covid-19 test so I can visit my folks. I hate how I’m so incredibly consumed in my own shit that I can’t worry about mankind. It just makes me feel selfish. How do I absolve myself from this? The truth is, I can’t. But I do know that I’m raising money for a hospital (as I said yesterday) and we’re serving a large population of people who can’t afford big hospital bills. Today I learned that we’re working on a food donation because our patients are hungry. So that’s where I’m focused. I’m not marching or protesting but I hope I’m helping in the way I can.

I don’t even know who to ask if I am doing enough. It never feels like enough. Do I make a donation? Do I make a sign? I don’t want to stay silent, but what do I do? It’s a rhetorical question, but one that’s top of mine.

Swirling Thoughts 6/2/20

The world is literally on fire. From coast to coast, there are peaceful protests, riots, and fires burning in response to the injustice of the brutal murder of George Floyd. But we know it is more than that. As all of us were tinkering on the edge of anxiety from being cooped up in our homes, watching small businesses close, an unprecedented unemployment percentage, this was the nail in the coffin for so many Americans – people of color, the under served, and frankly, anyone with a feeling heart.

I have so many mixed feelings – but likely guilt is the largest because I am having a hard time not focusing on my own issues right now. Between getting adjusted to a new job, worrying about mom’s health, trying to sort through being a part-time (pseudo) parent for the boys, and trying to stay healthy, it’s hard to put myself in the shoes of George Floyd’s family, who clearly have so much on their plate. I’m thinking of the police – those of the good ones who are standing with the protesters, and the looters, who are stealing from the small businesses who are struggling to stay open post-Covid, and of course, I am thinking of the centuries of persecution & injustice in this country towards minorities and people of color who, frankly, are no different than me. We’re all humans. I keep seeing Caucasian friends writing about their “white privilege” on social media and it just feels wrong. Or, writing that posting nothing on social media means your complacent. That’s silly. Of course I’m angry and frustrated. I just don’t need to publicize it. I have this as a forum for my thoughts, and if someone wants to know them, they can seek them out. I don’t necessarily feel that posting a black square on my Instagram account is making a difference. It feels passive. What I’m going to do is raise money for the hospital system that I work for – that serves a large population of those protesting these days – and help keep access to quality healthcare as accessible as possible. It just all feels a bit overwhelming so I am going to focus on what I can control and where I have the loudest voice and biggest impact.

I’m getting tested later today for Covid-19, which is top of mind today. I want to go visit my parents and while I have no symptoms, I want to make sure I’m not a carrier or someone who may spread it to those who are more vulnerable. Not looking forward to get a large swab shoved up my nose, but c’est la vie.

Anyhow, those are this morning’s thoughts, which could change by this afternoon!

What’s good, ok, and kinda ugly these days in the world

We’ll start with the good:

New job: I like it!

Life with Ted: he’s a keeper.

Ted’s kiddos: getting to know the twins more & more, understanding how their brains tick, and I enjoy their company.

My apartment: Ted helped me set up a super cute home office. I’m decluttering, selling clothes to ThredUP & Poshmark. My cleaners return this week.

My kitty Nermal

The Ok:

My Parental units: Mom hasn’t been feeling well so that’s top of mind. I’m trying to get rested for covid so I can visit my folks.

Covid: listen, we all know it sucks. We’re trying to get our lives back. But what about the 100k people who lost theirs to this terrible coronavirus? Can’t quite wrap my brain around it.

The Ugly:

George Floyd: George was a man who was brutally murdered by at least one police officer who suffocated him. It appears that if George broke the law, it was by passing counterfeit money. Definitely not worth losing your life over something like that. There are riots happening in most of the major cities around the United States, focused on black lives matter. I’ve never been a big protester type, but I fully support peaceful protests to get a point across that this brutal murder that should never of happened.

This is another thing I have such a hard time wrapping my brain around. No one, especially an innocent African American man, should ever lose their life in such a terrible manner. Plain and simple. Something’s got to change. A young person of color should never have to worry about being around a police officer because they’re afraid that their life might be in jeopardy. The only thing that I can personally compare something like this to is the Jews ultimately perishing in the Holocaust.

First Day

Just wanted to share a little bit about my first day of work. It was definitely not your typical type of on boarding, as there were only four people in the office, but it went well. I definitely feel gratitude for my last job as it definitely helped prepare me for this job. We are using the same database and a similar system for tracking project management. My boss was very gracious, and I feel very valued, which I didn’t always feel at my last job.

I am very happy to be back in the working world. I am not taking this for granted, as I know so many people are out of work right now. I feel as though someone has been looking out for me. But I will say that I’m exhausted! After sitting on my butt for months, it will take an adjustment to get back to working full time!

Big Week Ahead!

I start my new job tomorrow! Pretty excited, despite the crazy times out there. And on Wednesday, Ted & I celebrate our 2-year anniversary. Today, we discussed that during these 2 years, lots has happened in our lives: he got divorced, I had gastric sleeve surgery, mom was diagnosed with & beat cancer, and his dad had a (mild) stroke. We’ve conquered these things together. I can’t wait to see what the next umpteen years bring!

Thunk: An Ode to Nermal

I woke up this morning to this sight (and pretty much every morning these days):

Nermal the Cat

My cat Nermal makes this “thunk” sound as she hops from my bed to her favorite perch in my bedroom, the right corner of my long dresser that offers her full access to my window overlooking my suburban landscape.

If you’ve been following along, you know that I took over care of this feisty feline last July when my boyfriend Ted moved into his cat-free abode. When she first moved in, I was concerned about how the heck I would care for her but by now, just shy of a year later, I’m smitten.

I should say “we’re smitten.” There’s a definite love affair going on between me & Nerms. She hates it when I hug her or hold her, but if I’m out of her sight for 5 minutes, I can hear her waddling along to my destination. Yep, she follows me to the bathroom. She sleeps on my bed. She naps with me on the couch. And when I get out of the shower, my great protector is waiting for me outside the door. Sometimes I expect her to hand me my towel.

Ok, so I’m the keeper of her food, so I have the upper hand. But the joy she provides to me is unprecedented. I really have never known what is like to have a pet unless you count Katie, my trusty tadpole. Or, those poor goldfish you’d get year after year at the Purim Carnival. Sadly they barely even made it home in those rubber banded plastic baggies.

Nermal can be mean. She tries to escape every time I take out the trash. She scratched me the other night for changing the sheets on my bed. But, when she’s behaving, she’s so loving. I wouldn’t trade her for anything!

Feeling Gratitude amongst the Furloughs & Layoffs

I knew it would be a hard night. This morning, I woke up to a text from my former assistant that she was laid off due to COVID-19. And, later this evening, I learned that 16 others were laid off from my last place of employment. Many of them are people I consider friends. I have this aching in my heart, a pit in my stomach thinking about where we are in the world these days.

I mentioned in my last post that my start date has been pushed back for two weeks. I spoke with my new boss yesterday, and by the grace of you know who, they are still bringing me on as a new employee come Monday the 18th. They have furloughed people in the department but they believe in me and want me to come fundraise for them. I feel so much gratitude. I want to perform well for them because they put their trust in me.

I’m having flashbacks to when I worked for WGBH back around 2009 during the last recession. I personally had to take a furlough back then and it wasn’t easy to go without pay. I was making much less money back then and every penny counted. It took me a long time to bounce back. These are not easy times.

In other news, my mother and father are doing well. My mom has been repeatedly getting blood tests, and while her numbers have changed, they are not to the point of panic or no return. She is working hard to live her best life. What more can you ask for?

On May 20, Ted and I will celebrate our second anniversary together. For those of you have been reading my blog for a period of time, you’ve been following along our relationship, our journey together. We still have a good thing going.

So many thoughts flurrying in my head. But it’s time to go to sleep so I bid you farewell.

Covid-Somnia

Today should’ve been my first day at my new job but last week, I found out my start date was pushed back 2 weeks. As long as it is only 2 weeks, I can handle it. Granted, I have no income or health insurance but I am working on it. I applied for unemployment and MassHealth, which is free insurance for unemployed or low income folks. It’s only 3 weeks without insurance but in MA, if you don’t have health insurance for 11 out of 12 months, you get fined on your income taxes. Plus there’s that whole virus thing going on.

I’m not happy about it but I understand everyone is impacted by COVID-19. I had a furlough back in 2009 and it took me a while to overcome the financial burden. I have savings now – and got a loan from family members – but it’s crazy how having 2 unplanned weeks off can mess with your head. I should be out fundraising for my local hospital right now. To me, it’s a waste of a good fundraiser!

I’m trying to use my time productively. I’m going to do some home improvements, read, catch up with friends. But I also have what I call “covid-somnia.” I can’t sleep at night. I lie there, wide awake with my thoughts, and then I can’t stay awake during the day. Coffee. Lots of coffee.

So that’s what’s going on here. How’s by you?

Quarantined

We’ve all been quarantined at home to cut the spread of the coronavirus for about a month now. It hasn’t been that hard for me. Ted comes to visit, and I go to visit him and the kids when I can. I honestly like being alone at home so the isolation doesn’t bother me that much. I’ve had other things on my mind, like wrapping up my job. I’m going to gather the emails I received from colleagues and donors at my job, and post them on this blog so I have a nice retrospective of my time served (names excluded, of course).

It’s funny, the one person I believe that stepped in front of my potential bigger promotion hasn’t said a word to me since I announced I was leaving. I think it would’ve been nice if he acknowledged my contributions, but alas, I don’t see that happening. I know that I did a good job and I have to be OK with my own sense of worth when it comes to my contributions.

In other news, Ted and I are starting conversations about buying a house together. We had a virtual conversation with my former realtor, and now we need to start implementing what we learned. It’s exciting and a bit overwhelming all at once. Ted has very good instincts when it comes to my reactions to things, and he acknowledges that this will really change my mindset from being “single“ to being “taken.” I know it seems silly because we’ve been together for almost 2 years, but I spent my entire adult life on my own until the age of 43 so it’s an adjustment. But I think it’s going to be good!

I have two days of work left, and then I am taking two weeks off! During that time, I have to head over to my new job for some blood tests. I’ve been ordering some craft projects online to keep myself busy and I’ve been saving left-handed crocheting videos in my YouTube account 🙂 Let’s see if I actually do any of them! I’ve been also working hard to keep my apartment clean. Tonight, I did some spring cleaning and threw out a bunch of old stuff so that felt good! I’m working on setting up my spare room as a home office, so I need to find a good inexpensive desk. If you have any suggestions of where I can buy something nice but not expensive, let me know in the comments or email me!

Tomorrow night I head to Ted’s to watch Fantasia 2000 and get Dairy Queen with the kids. Should be fun! I made a stupid mistake of commenting, “Shouldn’t we be watching this while on drugs?,” while we watched the original Fantasia and the kids won’t let me forget it! Sometimes I have to remind myself that they’re only 11. For those of you who are wondering, no, I wasn’t serious. The hardest drug I’ve been taking these days is Zquil!

For those of you who made it to the end of this post, I hope you are healthy and happy right now. If you’re struggling with loneliness or feeling helpless, reach out and we’ll set up a zoom!

New Job & The Covid

It’s March 31, 2020, and we’re still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. For the most part, most of us in the USA are in a “shelter in place” recommendation, where we are encouraged to stay home as much as possible. I’m at home alone with occasional visits from Ted (on his weeks when he doesn’t have the kids) and I only leave the house to go to the pharmacy, supermarket/ take-out, and walks. I went to Ted’s on Sunday for a movie and dinner, namely to see the kids because I hadn’t seen them since our spring break trip in Feb to Florida.

In the middle of this illness, a lot has happened on a personal level. On Thursday, I gave my notice to my job that my last day will be April 17th. I am leaving for a new position at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA as a director of development on the “grateful patient” team. It’s bittersweet. I’ve really enjoyed my time at my current job, but since they wouldn’t consider me for the senior role there, I knew I had to move on. As one of my donors said to me today, “You’re nobody’s number 2!”

I have so many thoughts and emotions right now, but not quite ready to put them out there. Still mulling things over. All I can say is that my new job is a great next step in my career. I can tell I’m going through the stages of grief with my current job. I’m working towards “acceptance.”

More to come!