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healthcare

I had a stroke at 29

5:20 a.m., ICU

Sean fills the basin with hot water and places it nearby. He’s still bleary with sleep and questioning my sanity, my need to do this—now. He brings the comb he picked up on his way in one night and the conditioner we use at home, and that’s what it smells like. Home.

Slowly, painstakingly, he wets each tendril of hair and lathers it with conditioner. I feel flattered and helpless. Inch by inch, ends to scalp, I comb the tangles. It hurts. And it takes a long time.

When I’m done, he combs it all back and watches me maneuver a ponytail despite the tubes in my arm. I think the doctors won’t recognize me. Maybe a nurse will say, “You have such pretty hair.” I feel somewhat restored, a little less in crisis. “I love you,” Sean says. And I smile tiredly through the pain.

I hadn’t combed my hair in three days.

And on a basic level that mattered. But after being shipped from one hospital to another, one room, one machine to another, it mattered less.

It was tangled, messy, sticking up in strange places. I barely recognized it as my own; I barely recognized me as myself.

This Professor’s Secret Could Save Your Life

Professors lead cushy lives. They get to stroll the grounds of stately, ivy-covered campuses, tailed by flocks of eager students who revere them as intellectual giants. Or so I’d always thought.

Then I met Susan. Susan is a smart, highly educated professor. She lives in the Tacoma area where she works hard preparing lessons, grading papers and quizzes, and faithfully responding to every student inquiry.  Students praise her teaching skills.

But none of these things matter to her employer.  Despite high performance reviews, Susan never knows if she will see another paycheck.  Unlike the tenured academics who enjoy secure jobs, steady pay, sick leave and good health benefits at many traditional universities, Susan is a so-called “adjunct professor” with a for profit corporation that runs an online university. She is paid a low hourly wage and her income fluctuates quite a bit from month to month.  She receives no benefits, or sick days. Her name has been changed to protect her innocence.

My Speech on Women and Work

Tomorrow I will be giving a speech about the state of working women. The event, which is sponsored by the National Women's Law Center, takes a look at both the progress we have made and what is left to be done to ensure women have equality in the workplace and our daily lives. Here are some excerpts in advance:

Ideas to Encourage Each Other to Use Preventive Care

3 John 1-2 (NIV) says, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” Hum… in the household of faith, we recite that scripture so often. I think most of us truly believe the Word of God is true and we believe God to be faithful but I wonder if we really think about and internalize that verse like we should. I’ve been thinking more and more about health every day - the blessing of good health versus the havoc that poor health can wreak on us, our families, our caregivers, our finances and our overall quality of life. 

 

Are you at a threshold, too?

Yesterday we attended a moving "Ceremony of 13" at our church for my teenage son. Cultures around the world share a tradition of marking the transition from childhood to adulthood beginning at age 13 (in the Jewish tradition this is called a Bar or Bat Mitzvah). Our ministers shared why it's key to pause and honor this threshold or "crossing over" with ritual--just like we honor other thresholds such as baptisms, births, weddings, deaths, turning 18 and more.

After each youngadult received a blessing and anointing, parents took turns sharing what they loved and honored in their young teens. It was powerful and moving.

Tears streamed down my face for most of the short ceremony and it dawned on me that my 13 year-old and I are at a very similar place. I'll be 50 in January and I too, am at a threshold. My midlife transition has amped up in the last 18 months--physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually-- and just like my son, I too am at an axial time. A time that calls for more self-compassion, self-acceptance and time/space to digest and integrate all these internal--and external--changes so I can prepare for my second course.

7 Back-to-School Tips to Help You Stress Less and Find Your Center

Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, the start of a new school year offers the opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to do things differently.

If you’re feeling some anxiety around all the transitions, scheduling, juggling and driving that usually accompany a new school year, take a deep breath, you’re not alone. Then, pause and consider the following ideas. Adopting even one of these strategies could make a huge difference in how you experience this potentially hectic time. Start with compassion and a “baby steps” mindset as you consider the following:

7 reasons I practice self-care

I was recently at a dinner party and found myself in a corner with a heart surgeon discussing the concept of self-care. Like many in healthcare, she saw self-care as something you “should do” for your physical health (exercise, eat well, get enough sleep), but that’s where it ends. She became curious when I shared that I define self-care as the art of attuning and responding to your needs and desires, moment to moment. You could see the wheels turning as she contemplated my definition.

Pick up an onion and hold it in your palm. For me, self-care would be the outer layer, then a few layers deeper, you’ll find self-acceptance (as you learn to accept yourself warts and all), then self-compassion, and then a few layers beyond that you arrive at the holy grail: self-love. I see self-care as the first doorway we go through to begin to truly accept who we are, and ultimately, to begin to love ourselves.

What does the employer mandate dispute have to do with moms?

A lot. A 2013 Pew Research study found that nearly half of all moms polled said, “that their ideal situation would be to work part time.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. When you add a 40-hour workweek to the demands of being a primary caregiver, the dual (triple? quadruple?) roles can leave you exhausted. And the reality is that for many parents, a 40-hour workweek just isn’t a legitimate option.

Some years ago I worked with an amazing mom who, because of the excellence of her work, was offered an increase in her hours by our company. But when asked, she told us she couldn’t work 40 hours a week even if she wanted to. As the parent of a special needs child, between bi-weekly (sometimes weekly) doctors’ appointments, therapy, specialized parent/teacher meetings, in addition to her regular parental responsibilities—there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done if she also worked a 40-hour week.

10 things I tell clients in transition

In 1999 I combined my 14 years of experience and training in organizational/leadership development, communications strategy, corporate coaching and personal branding and launched my first business—a career coaching and consulting firm dedicated to helping men and women integrate who they are with what they do. Career Strategists is still alive and well and our coaches are serving clients around the globe, but I stepped away from individual coaching years ago to focus my energy on my passion: work/life alignment and life balance. However, lately, I have so many close friends and family that are in the midst of big career changes, I’ve been drawn right back into the career coaching trenches.

My friends are up late at night worrying about interviews, financial stability, re-positioning and re-inventions, negotiations, relocating, life purpose and in many cases, they're looking at leaving behind everything they know to step into a wild, new, very foreign frontier. What do I tell them?

Dear friends in career transition:

My 4 must-ask questions for 2015

I love the time before and around New Year’s Day. As a coach/speaker/author who has spent almost 30 years studying, writing and teaching in the area of human potential, this window of time–ripe with possibility and potential–always excites me. Yes, January 1 is just another day, but it also represents an invitation to step into new ways of seeing, being and relating to one another–and to ourselves.

The Austin weather looks chilly, so my family will probably end up spending a cozy night cooking at home this New Year’s eve. Right now it’s a tossup whether we’ll watch a comedy chosen by my 12 year-old or do a burning bowl ceremony (!), but regardless of what we do, some reflection will be on the menu.

Here are four questions I’m asking myself, my husband and my clients as we move into this fresh, New Year:

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