Sunday, December 28, 2008
Part of the problem is that infants don't really have a set routine, no matter how much you try to create one for them. Their sleep patterns can change from week to week or even day to day; they become more active with each passing hour; and you never know what's going to set them off and have them crying and in need of their mothers' arms.
In short, your life is not your own when you're a mom.
When my first child turned six months old, I decided to devote my days to her. Outside of her nap time and the hour she spent in the babysitting room at the YMCA while I worked out, she was my constant companion, and her needs dictated almost every move I made. I still intended to write, but there wasn't time in the day for that, so it was time to make a few adjustments.
The beauty of working from home is that you can do it anytime you like and in whatever clothes you choose. As long as you make your deadlines, you could be working at 3 in the morning in a bunny suit and your employers wouldn't care.
So my workday became my work night. At 10:30 p.m., once the baby and my husband were safely in bed, I would slip into my pajamas and start my writing assignments. Those were my younger days, when there was no internal clock telling me it was way past my bedtime. I would simply work until the work got done.
Some evenings I wrote from 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. At other times, when I was faced with more than one deadline at a time, my work night was much, much longer. I distinctly remember several occasions when I dragged my exhausted body to bed, only to hear my husband's alarm sound off five minutes later. Luckily, the baby was past getting up in the middle of the night, and because we put her to bed late, she usually didn't stir until at least 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning.
The work got done, my child's needs were being met, and all seemed right with the world. Except for one thing: If I didn't get more than five hours of sleep in a night, I was...well, I guess you could say mean. Or moody. Or forgetful. Or crazed. Or all of the above. In short, as I look back, I was a mess several days out of the week.
At the time, I certainly didn't see myself as a sleep-deprived lunatic. I was just doing what I thought was natural: taking care of a house and a child during the day and working all night. That sounds completely natural and doable, doesn't it?
My husband appreciated the extra money I was bringing in, but not the extra doses of mania and hormonal imbalances. "No one asked you to stay up all night writing," he said to me on more than one occasion after I had ranted and raved about how tired I was. Well, no, but I had to stay up to get the work done, didn't I?
Who knows. Before we saw just how crazy I could become from my nutty schedule, the situation changed. Another baby plopped into our lives. And then another. And soon I found myself with three children under the age of four, a big house to care for, a husband to keep relatively happy and a workload that would have been doable if I didn't also have the full-time career of motherhood.
Instead of throwing in the writing towel and choosing to focus on the ultimately more important, albeit less financially rewarding, job of being a housewife, I changed my schedule again. And again. And again. Each time a new child arrived or one child developed a new sleeping habit, I adjusted my work schedule to accommodate.
The process worked, for the most part. I made sacrifices in a lot of areas, missing a deadline to care for a sick child, or worse, missing the opportunity to play "Simon Says" with my children so I could complete a project. No matter how I rearranged, I couldn't stay caught up with everything. One thing always managed to catch up with me, though: GUILT. Oh, the guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt.
But we'll save that story for next time.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
"I'm going to keep writing from home after I have the baby," I told a friend of mine nine years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child.
If I remember correctly, she dropped the receiver and made loud snorting noises.
When she finally returned to the phone, slightly more composed, she had only one line for me: "Good luck, honey."
"Why?" I asked, filled with indignation and pregnancy hormones. "I can write from home; I'm doing it now."
"You'll see. It's hard," she said. Humph, what does she know, anyway?
For the first six months of my daughter's life, I praised myself for being the mom who could care for an infant, cook, clean and earn a paycheck at the same time. "I am woman, hear me roar," I found myself happily singing.
Then Mia learned to reach for things, like the computer keyboard, and to grab my attention by yelling at the top of her lungs. Hard to conduct a phone interview with that in the background. And that was the beginning of the end. Mia learned how to push my buttons faster than a fish learns how to swim. She knew how to distract me from my work, and how to get me to throw my hands up in the air, take her on my lap and start to hum the annoying songs of "Barney."
Of course, I had to admit to my friend that she was kind of right. She knew what lots of mommies know: Working from home while caring for young children is both a blessing and a curse.
A blessing because...
1.) You are there to see all the "firsts": sitting up, crawling, walking and talking. You don't have to hear about them from the babysitter or the daycare provider.
2.) You can spend time teaching your child in a relaxed atmosphere. I can remember sitting on the floor and connecting two blocks over and over again. "Together, apart. Together, apart," I'd repeat to help Mia connect what I was doing with the words I was saying. Not that I couldn't have done things like that if I had worked outside the home, but I probably would have been so tired at the end of the day that I would have fallen asleep with the blocks in my hands.
3.) When they get older, you are there as the children get on the bus in the morning and get off in the afternoon. (Except for those afternoons when you are trying to finish up a deadline project and praying that the bus is a little late, but it arrives six minutes early and your children show up at the back door with their hands on their hips asking over and over, "Where were you?" So you make it up to them by plying them with chocolate chip cookies.)
A curse because...
1.) You feel guilty that you are constantly putting the child aside to do work or putting the work aside to take care of the child.
2.) You give up nice work clothes for drool-stained sweatpants, and you can't remember if you brushed your teeth or washed your hair this morning.
3.) No matter how hard you try, you feel that you will never accomplish a single task--from folding the laundry to fulfilling an order for a client--for the rest of your life.
A working mom is nothing if not flexible, and so you find yourself rearranging your days--and your nights--to make things work. And that will bring us to the next post in this series: "Time for a Few Adjustments."
Monday, December 15, 2008
None of the kids knew that circulating such photos was illegal. Even more surprisingly,none of them seemed to know it was just plain wrong.
Schultz's column encourages parents to talk about the dangers of circulating naked photos because, if caught, they could be labeled sexual predators, a title that will follow them for years into their adulthood.
No parent wants his or her child going to juvenile court and possibly having a horrible moniker attached to his or her name. So how best to keep this from happening: Do you first explain that acts such as distributing nude photos is illegal, or do you start by explaining that such acts are immoral? Do you stress that it would be unfortunate to be labeled a criminal, or is it more important to stress the disrespect they are showing their own body or someone else's?
Here's the difference between my working class, ethnic upbringing and what seems to be going on today: If I had done something as stupid as distribute naked photos of myself to others when I was a teenager and my parents had found out, they would have slapped me upside the head and told me I had disgraced our family name and greatly embarrassed them. Believe me, I grew up believing that embarrassing my parents was far worse punishment than having to appear in juvenile court.
And if I had gotten tossed in JD or been held by the police, my parents would have left me there for a good long time in order to get their point across: What you did was really wrong and we are really, really, really upset. I imagine that it would have been safer for me to have spent a few days in a prison cell than go home and face my parents if I had committed a crime, especially one that involved exposing my naked body to others.
If my father's sisters did something deemed imprudent by the family, my Italian-born grandmother would say to them, "Non you shame-a youself." It was a simple sentence that, translated from broken English, means don't do something that you'll regret or that will cause others to look down on you.
Is there any action out there today that is deemed immoral or embarrassing? Increasingly, our moral code has been shot to hell. If it feels good, do it. Oh, but it could be illegal, so watch out.
Certainly there will be people who will say that if you tell a girl or boy that it's immoral to be nude then you're also telling them they should be ashamed of their bodies. Please note the difference: The human body in and of itself is a beautiful thing, but when someone (especially a young person) exposes the naked body to taunt someone else or to get a few kicks, that is degrading and demeaning.
Yes, we have to teach our children about right and wrong through the eyes of the court, but what about through our own eyes? What do you think about this?
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Even my mother was a bit perplexed by this. "Nobody speaks Italian in this church anymore," she complained to me the other day. But I had a feeling that most people in that beautiful church still recalled the wonderful Italian traditions and songs, and would be happy to relive them.
The service brought tears to my eyes, especially the priest's homily. He talked about the beginnings of the 70-year-old church, and the dedication of the people who founded it and made it strong. These were the same people who labored in the steel mills and fought in world wars. They spoke Italian in their homes and in their church, but they were Americans through and through. Their dream was to build a foundation in Campbell, Ohio, that could be carried on to their children and grandchildren.
But, as the priest said, by the 1970s, their dream began to crumble, through no fault of their own. The steel mills began to close, and young adults moved away in search of their own American dream. This, of course, was good on some levels. First- and second-generation Americans who otherwise might have stayed close to home were able to move to new locations, get a higher education and build their own foundations. At the same time, little Campbell and the other suburbs of Youngstown still stood, proud as ever, but gradually shrinking in population and in opportunities.
Through the decades, schools have closed, churches have closed and people find themselves traveling to far-off areas to visit their children and grandchildren. But the foundation is still there. Not everyone recognizes it, because they are so busy with daily issues. Yet every time I return to Campbell, Ohio, and that church with the elegant stained-glass windows (some bearing the names of my relatives who helped establish the church), I see the foundation, and I still believe.
At the Mass for the feast of St. Lucy, the priest said that the parish was still there for its children, even though they now live far away. He said the church still stands ready to greet them and welcome them home. I feel at home every time I enter that little town and that church. In their own small way, Campbell and St. Lucy and all the other ethnic Catholic churches that dot that landscape act as beacons guiding everyone toward family and worship, patriotism and charity. Inside St. Lucy, there is no disdain for one's country or fellow man; there's no rush hour traffic or pressing business meeting. It's as though life is like it was 70 years ago, full of hard work and simple pleasures. It is, I think, the way life was meant to be, although it didn't last.
Looking back on my eagerness to flee the Youngstown area in 1982, I feel a sense of sadness and guilt. Sadness because I gave up the comfort of that small-town love and hard work in search of something else. Guilt because maybe if I had stayed there, I could have carried on the dream that my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents helped to build. I wasn't the first or the only one to leave, of course, but I carry my share of the responsibility of what happened to my hometown like a heavy cross that I'm forced to shoulder alone.
And so I try in my own way to take a piece of that dream with me and share it with my children. We go back to my hometown often and visit St. Lucy for a dose of small-town humility and strength, and to be hugged and kissed by people who have known me since I was a chubby, shy, (natural) red-headed girl. I'm determined to teach my kids the bits of Italian I know, and to impress upon them the significance that communities like Youngstown once held in our country.
And then there's the message of St. Lucy herself. As children, we would sometimes giggle at the statue of St. Lucy, who holds a dish with a pair of eyeballs. The story goes that the young Lucy refused to marry a pagan and refused to forsake her Christian faith. Roman guards tortured her and gouged out her eyes. What they couldn't take away from her was her clear vision of what was good and true.
Martyr stories today don't seem to hold our attention. How can we relate to someone like this? The priest put it into perspective. Lucy, he said, is a symbol for us to see what's really important, and to realize that what we're looking for is within our reach. "We're all searching for the same thing," he said. "Happiness."
I've lived in large cities and traveled to places around the world, and it turns out that the "happiness" I seek always leads me back to my hometown and my hometown church. Small towns like Youngstown may be shadows of what they once were, but their basic values, principles and dreams are things we should never forget and instead try to emulate.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I love layaway. It's how I bought my first coat when I lived in New York City. There was no other way a dirt-poor, recent college grad making $15,500 a year and paying $500 a month for rent could afford one. I distinctly remember going to the Strawberry store by Grand Central Station and selecting a knee-length jean coat with a flannel lining. The price tag was too high for me, so I put down a modest sum and vowed to pay a little more every few weeks until I could finally call it mine. Imagine the pride and joy I felt as I walked out the door of Strawberry on the day I had finally paid off the coat! I purchased it without bleeding my bank account or incurring credit card debt.
Layaway has been a friend to my family for years. My mom frequented the layaway counter at the old Hills Department Store in Youngstown. Not only was it a good way to buy furnishings and other items that were needed but immediately necessary, it was also an excellent way for my mom to buy new clothes a little at a time without my dad hitting the roof.
So what happened to layaway? Did we all suddenly get rich and able to pay on-demand for everything we wanted? Of course not. Unfortunately, our parents' quest for us to have a better life than theirs led to our "I've gotta have it now" mentality. Why should I wait three months for a new coat, stereo or whatever when I can put it on my credit card and have it TODAY?
This is not a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I freely admit that I fell victim to this attitude more than a time or two. You see the newest item on the shelves, then see someone you know walking around with it and -- BAM! -- you find yourself coveting that thing and eventually making your way to the store to get one for yourself. Credit card fees be damned!
Now, as we find ourselves in a major financial pinch, layaway is making a comeback. According to a recent article in the New York Daily News, many department stores are reopening the layaway counter to encourage customers to get a jumpstart on Christmas shopping. (See )
Putting money down a little money at a time for items you can't necessarily afford right now is sensible and practical. We don't have to deny ourselves everything, but we can plan to acquire them when we are ready. This is an old-fashioned idea that we shouldn't pooh-pooh. Instead, we should recognize the situation we currently face (and probably will face for awhile), and embrace the options available to us to weather the storm.
Welcome back, layaway, we really need you!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Veterans Day is not unique to the United States. On November 11 of each year, other countries celebrate the armistice that ended World War I. We called it Armistice Day, too, when it was declared a legal holiday in 1938. About 15 years later, President Eisenhower signed into a law a bill that declared November 11 a tribute to all veterans.
My father is a veteran. He served in Germany in World War II. He has stories about his time in the army--what went right and what went wrong, what it felt like to hold a gun and how he got conned into becoming a mess sergeant and, as he says, "the only idiot who would deliver food to the front lines."
But to truly understand what being a veteran means to my father, you have to see his eyes become moist every time he hears "The Star Spangled Banner." Listening to those words clearly reminds him what he and others fought for. He did his part-- whether it was cooking food for battle-weary and frightened soldiers or taking his turn on the front lines to face the enemy--to secure freedom, and I believe he continually prays that his great country will remain free.
My father passed along his nostalgia for the National Anthem onto me. I get emotional for different reasons. Sure, I'm proud of my country and I want it to be the best it can possibly be. But every time I hear the National Anthem, I also think about my father. I think about the sacrifice of fighting in a foreign land, the sadness of losing fellow soldiers and the fear of wondering if you'll be next.
I'm glad I am able to know so much about my father's time in World War II, and I'm thankful for what he did. And even though I don't have the day off, I'm happy that we have Veterans Day so we can honor those who did so much for us and for others.
Monday, November 10, 2008
"New York prepares its own Medical Mart"
Does everyone get the significance of this headline? If New York City goes ahead with a proposed $1 billion World Product Centre, Cleveland will once again be an almost-ran. We almost won the World Series in 1997. We almost became a world leader in medicine, healthcare and biotechnology. Unlike baseball, there will be no "wait until next year."
If this Medical Mart doesn't get built in Cleveland, it will be a lost opportunity to unite all of our medical prowess: major hospitals, innovative research, dynamic products. We will have pieces, but not the whole puzzle. Professionals in the medical industry will have to continue to travel the globe to convince people to invest in Cleveland, instead of people coming to us. Added jobs, greater traffic for downtown restaurants and hotels and heightened tourism are at stake.
We need our local leaders to feel the fire that's been placed beneath them, decide on a definite site on which to build and get this Medical Mart up and running. Let's go Cleveland!!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
There was a time, not all that long ago (I'm not THAT old), when the victory of someone like Barack Obama might have sent me out into the street to rejoice. What a breath of fresh air! A man who really embraces "change" and knows that we all "hope" for a better future. He's young, he's amiable, he's got a beautiful family. So what if he's going to raise taxes for 5% of the country; look what he's going to do for the rest!
So what's my problem?
It's not that I've suddenly become a card-carrying Republican. In fact, I don't feel that I belong in either of the major parties anymore. It's definitely not race, because I think this should be viewed as the victory of the right man, not merely the black man. I am a little worried about that top 5% thing, because my husband just happens to be a hard-working, successful professional who is creeping closer to that magic number. And because we are by no means "rich," taxing us as though we were might have drastic consequences.
Nevertheless, that's not the real problem either. At my core, I am a product of the working class and all it stands for, so if it's my family's duty to "be more patriotic" and pay more taxes, I can try to embrace that.
Yet, after this momentous victory, I don't feel victorious. I feel...hollow. And I'm upset that I feel that way. So many people around me are talking about the dawning of a new day, a great time for change, a time when we can restore our significant place in the world and in history. Believe me, I pray that all of those ideas become a reality. I also pray that our economy recovers, that we're able to create new jobs that will make us world leaders and that we never again fall victims to a terrorist attack.
Obama talks about all of these things, and I want with all my heart to shout, "Yes, we can!" But I can't find depth in his words. I can't visualize his plans. I can't feel the magic.
Maybe I'm trying too hard. Maybe I'm not cerebral enough to truly comprehend all this man is promising to do. Maybe, just maybe, I am a little slow coming out of the gate. Perhaps, like doubting Thomas, I need to see with my own eyes what the man can do before I can believe.
If that's the case, then I'll eagerly await January 20, 2009 and the Obama presidency. In the meantime, I'll just keep trying to feel that magic.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
I wrote a little email to Mr. Greenberg this morning. It goes like this:
Dear Mr. Greenberg:
On the front page of today's Plain Dealer, an article announced that Cleveland's West
Side Market was named one of the "10 Great Public Spaces in America" by the
American Planning Association, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit group that promotes urban and
According to you, Mr. Greenberg, no one from outside of Cleveland should ever visit the
West Side Market, or any other area landmark, because you've deemed Cleveland one of 12
"must miss" destinations in the world.
Your reason for putting Cleveland on this unglamorous list supposedly has to do with
certain areas in the city, including the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood and a stretch of
Kinsman Road. Not sure if you know this, but there are not really any tourist sites in
those areas! Nevertheless because of these spots, you are discouraging people from taking
in treasures such as Severance Hall, where the Cleveland Orchestra plays; the Rock Hall;
Playhouse Square, one of the most beautiful collections of theaters in the country; and
the above-mentioned West Side Market.
Let's see. The American Planning Association also names New York City's Central Park as
one of the best public spaces in the country. Indeed it is, but there are certain parts
of that beautiful park where I wouldn't walk after dark if you paid me. And aren't there
some pretty dangerous areas in New York City itself, even some a few blocks away from
You say you want people to "know what they're getting into" when they come to
Cleveland. But if you're telling people not to visit, there's no need to warn them about
that, is there? Most big cities have areas touched by poverty, decay, drugs or intense
crime. While it's imperative that cities work to clean up these areas, that doesn't mean
you can put a giant black eye around the whole city!
Why do you single out Cleveland as being a dangerous place to visit? I can't help but
wonder if some Steelers fans put you up to this.
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
P.S. They put the fire out on the Cuyahoga River a few decades ago.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“Miracles Happen” benefit to raise funds for Recurrent Breast Cancer
Research fund started in honor of cancer patient Diana Hyland of Shaker Heights
Cleveland, Ohio; October 23, 2008 – Miracles Happen, a new benefit to raise funds for recurrent breast cancer research, will be held Saturday, November 8 at Shaker Heights Country Club, 3300 Courtland Boulevard in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
The Diana Hyland Miracle Fund has been established with the mission to advance research for recurrent breast cancer -- focusing on new theories, trials and treatments aimed at managing the cancer and extending lives. University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center is focused on becoming a leader in recurrent breast cancer research. Ongoing research will ensure that Ireland’s physicians and scientists can continue to develop tomorrow’s innovative therapies.
Ned Hyland of Shaker Heights, said, “We have created this fund and benefit in honor of my wife, Diana, who, after recovering from her first bout with breast cancer 10 years ago, is again battling the devastating disease. Our two children, along with our many friends and relatives, have been very supportive throughout Diana’s illness, however, we feel the need to do more. Our goal this year is to raise $1 million to partially establish an Endowed Chair in Metastatic Breast Cancer Research for Dr. Paula Silverman.”
Diana’s doctor, Paula Silverman, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Director, Breast Cancer Program and Ambulatory Services, Ireland Cancer Center, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, will make brief remarks at the benefit.
Beginning at 7:30 p.m., the night of celebration includes dancing, a silent auction and a gourmet menu designed by: Michael Symon, Iron Chef America and Owner of Lola and Lolita; Paul Minnillo, Owner of Baricelli Inn; and Michael Klocinksi, Head Chef at Shaker Heights Country Club. This will be the first of many events aimed at spreading awareness and raising funds for this critical research at University Hospitals.
Some of the latest statistics and facts state:
ß In 2008, approximately 40,480 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S.
ß Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer.
ß New research will potentially give hope to hundreds of thousands of women that are affected by this disease.
Tickets are $125 per person. Sponsorships are also available. Cocktail attire is suggested. For tickets or more information, contact Kate Werner at 440-995-4229 or visit www.dianahylandmiraclefund.org.
MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Patton; Phone: 216-321-6746; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Clearly, some folks think that equality means you can speak to a woman with the same vulgar words you might reserve for a drunken guy trying to strike up a fight in a bar. Take, for example, the comment Jon Stewart had for vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
According to the Weekly Standard, "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart spoke before a college audience in Boston, and at one point reflected on Sarah Palin's comment that small towns are "pro-America."
"She said that small towns, that's the part of the country she really likes going to because that's the pro-America part of the country," Stewart told the crowd, then he added: "You know, I just want to say to her, just very quickly: [expletive] you."
There was a time not all that long ago that if a man said such words to a woman--to her face or behind her back--he would be ridiculed and probably punched in the face by another guy. Today, however, trashing a woman who does not reflect your personal views is not only okay, it's expected and applauded.
There was also a time when a "working mom" would be saluted, especially one who embraced life, including that of a child with special needs. Now, it seems, those aren't respectable traits at all.
I am a lifelong Democrat who is quickly moving into the Independent category. I do not agree with everything the Republicans stand for, but I am embarrassed by the way many Democrat supporters have been acting toward Palin. You don't have to be in accord with all her policies, but do you have to completely rip the woman apart, politically and personally?
A few weeks ago, someone sent me a column by Roger Ebert, in which he expressed rage over McCain not looking Obama in the eye during one of their debates. "Obama is my guy," Ebert wrote. "If you are rude to him, you are rude to me." Fair enough.
I don't know if Palin is "my woman" (what does that exactly mean, anyway?), but I have oodles of respect for her and her refusal to cave into others when it comes to her political positions. If you disrespect her, you disrespect all women, including me. Someone should wash out Jon Stewart's mouth with soap, probably his mother.
Monday, October 20, 2008
She let out the biggest gasp I've ever heard. "But I always thought you were." After that, we had a very civil 15-minute conversation about the subject before returning to less controversial issues.
After we got off the phone, I was ashamed of myself. Ashamed because I have known this person for 22 years, and I've never revealed my belief to her. I had to wonder: How many other of my family and friends assume I'm pro-choice? And what was keeping me from sharing with them something in which I so strongly believe?
I'm assuming there are others out there like me: Silent folks who hold a pro-life stance deep in their hearts but don't utter it in too many conversations. What exactly is our problem?
After a lot of soul searching, I've come up with some reasons why many pro-lifers keep their opinions to themselves. Some I can definitely relate to, others I can't, but I think they're all relevant:
1.You Don't Want to Offend Anyone. As Rodney King said, "Can't we all just get along?" And since we want to get along with everyone and respect everyone's opinions, we don't want to offend anyone with our own. But when we do this, we run the risk of allowing ourselves to be offended. Is it fair to yourself or others if you sit there in silence? Why carry a heavy heart just so others won't have one?
2.You Don't Want to be Seen as 'Anti-Feminist.' This one has always been surprising to me. By supporting the greatest privilege and gift a woman has--the ability to give life--you are somehow being anit-feminist? Some argue that you want to deny a woman control over her body? Actually, she has the greatest control before she gets pregnant!
3. You'll be Labeled a Religious Fanatic. Heaven forbid someone thinks that your belief is based on your faith! Keep in mind, though, that saying "It's against my religion" is not enough of a reason to be pro-life. Why does your religion oppose abortion? Do you agree with the reasoning and not just the declaration?
4. You'll Have to Get Into the Sticky Topic of Under What Circumstances, if Any, Abortion Should be Allowable. This is indeed a sticky situation. Do you believe it's okay in cases of incest or rape or when there is a potential threat to the health of the mother? Again, you have to have some basis for your argument, and you have to be sympathetic to the rare but nevertheless very real circumstances in which some women find themselves.
5. You're Afraid You'll Lose Friends or Family Members Who Disagree With You. What if you say something about being pro-life and your friend doesn't want to talk to you anymore? But your friend is pro-choice, and you haven't abandoned her, right?
I have known all along that many of my friends are pro-choice. That hasn't stopped me from being friends with them. I wouldn't expect anything less from them.
The shame is that if I had vocalized my opinion, we might have had a meaningful discussion about life and abortion.
It's not too late. After my friend got over the shock that I was pro-life, we talked a lot about both sides of the controversy. And we actually found common ground. We concluded that with all the talk that goes on about abortion, not enough is being said about how to avoid the situation in the first place. Maybe when opposing sides come together in a humane and dignified way, they can find common ground about how to solve a problem. But that can't happen unless we overcome our fear and speak up.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Imagine, then, learning that you have an "orphan disease," one that is rare and receives little direct funding for research. What is known about this disease? Is it brought on by environmental or internal conditions? How is it best treated? Is there a cure?
Aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) are orphan diseases. They are noncontagious, life-threatening illnesses together known as bone marrow diseases. Within a body's bone marrow, blood-forming stem cells produce red and white blood cells and platelets. When production is disturbed, problems can occur, such as severe anemia, infections and the inability for blood to properly clot.
If you aren't familiar with the names of the particular bone marrow diseases, it is probably because they are very rare. Approximately four new cases of aplastic anemia per one million people in the United States arise each year, for example. Nevertheless, you probably have heard of some of the people who have fallen victim to a bone marrow disease: According to the Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation, former Senator Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts, former Congressman Robert Matsui of California and writer Susan Sontag all died from complications related to MDS.
The only known "cure" for a bone marrow disease is a bone marrow transplant, but a patient must find a suitable donor. Even then, the body's system can choose to reject the transplant, causing further complications.
It's no wonder that many people with bone marrow diseases express frustration. Writer Mark Schreiber described his personal struggles in a January 2008 issue of Newsweek. "During my first trip to the oncology ward--oncology because there are no wards for aplastic anemia--four successive roommates, all leukemia patients, returned to their lives after receiving treatment while I stayed and reflected on mine...When you're an orphan you envy people with families, even such horrific families as cancer."
In the midst of Schreiber's grief over being diagnosed with an orphan disease, he found a father figure of sorts: Dr. Jaroslaw Maciejewski, a researcher at the Cleveland Clinic. The Polish-born Dr. Maciejewski (pronounced ma-SHEFF-ski) is head of the Experimental Hematology and Hematopoiesis Section of the Clinic's Taussig Cancer Center, and his specialty interests revolve around bone marrow failure syndromes such as aplastic anemia, MDS and PNH.
Dr. Maciejewski is currently working on a study to investigate the viral causes of aplastic anemia.There is a great deal of evidence that at least a proportion of cases of aplastic anemia can be triggered by a virus that is as of yet unknown. In this study, bone marrow failure researchers will use a "viral chip" containing little pieces of DNA to identify a virus responsible for aplastic anemia and ultimately develop diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive measures.
The results of the study could prove beneficial to a variety of diseases, according to the doctor. "This could have a tremendous impact...on the improvement of care across the board of all [bone marrow failure] diseases," he says.
While the study brings hope to people like Schreiber, Dr. Maciejewski cautions that results may not be immediate. "Science is all about delayed gratification," he says. "The value could be quickly obtained, but it could result in a scientific lead that needs to be followed for years."
Those affected by bone marrow diseases understand what the doctor is saying; they also know that this study provides a great opportunity to get out of the "orphan" stage and determine real ways to fight the illnesses.
Two people who passionately believe in Dr. Maciejewski's work are Jeff and Sherri Kitzberger of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Their youngest daughter, Annalyse, was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and PNH when she was five years old. She endured chemo and missed out on most of her kindergarten year.
Three years later, Annalyse acts like your average eight year old. She plays soccer, sells Girl Scout cookies and dreams of some day owning a dog. But the aplastic anemia and PNH that dragged down her immune system when she was five could rear their ugly heads again without warning. Every bruise or bump on Annalyse's body, every sore throat or persistent cough is a cause for concern for the Kitzbergers. With the help of Dr. Maciejewski and other doctors at the Clinic, the Kitzbergers feel less like "orphans" and more like part of a family of caring practitioners.
To lend support to the viral chip study, and raise awareness of bone marrow diseases, the Kitzbergers created Jungle Jam, a benefit taking place Friday, October 17 at Cleveland House of Blues. Five local bands will play: Blues de Ville, Eclyptic, Heart and Soul, Horizontal Party and Rusnak Jarrett Jazz. There will be an auction, hors d'oeuvres and drinks. Proceeds from Jungle Jam will go directly to Dr. Maciejewski's viral chip study.
In creating this benefit, the Kitzbergers have embraced all people diagnosed with bone marrow diseases, thus expanding the network of care, compassion and education. In their way, the Kitzbergers are helping to remove the "orphan" stigma from these diseases, with the hopes of someday completely wiping them off the map.
You have an opportunity to be part of the "adoptive family" for those with bone marrow diseases. Tickets for Jungle Jam are still on sale. You can also make a donation. For information, call Sherri Kitzberger at 216.312.3109, or visit www.makeithappen4bmd.org.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Two weeks ago, she missed two words on her spelling test. In one word, her "v" looked like an "r"; in another, the "v" looked like a "w." In other words, she spelled the words right, but she wrote the letter "v" wrong.
At first I felt bad for her. What a shame, to know how to spell a word but miss it because you're having trouble with one of your cursive letters. I believe I even said something embarrassingly old-fashioned like, "When I was a kid, we never had spelling tests in cursive." (Why didn't I just go all out and announce that they hadn't even invented cursive when I was in grade school?)
Then it dawned on me that it wasn't I who was deciding what my daughter did and didn't need to know. It was the teacher; the person with whom I trust my child five days a week. If she thinks that a third grader should be comfortable enough with her cursive letters to use them on a spelling test, she's probably right.
Thus, the attitude at home immediately changed to, "Well, you just have to practice your "v." Which she has been doing. But she's still not doing them the right way.
And after an hour of frantic erasing, pencil-throwing and screaming, my daughter sits before me crumpled and defeated. Which leads me to do the only thing I can think of at this desperate point: Fix the letter for her. This is on her weekly homework assignment where she must write all of her spelling words twice, in cursive of course.
I wrote the "v" on the first word for her, certain that my little bit of assistance would no doubt help her to master the letter. "Do it just like this the second time," I tell her. She tries. She fails. The word "divide" looks like "diride." She passes the paper to me and looks at me hopefully, but she knows she's missed the mark. And again she crumples.
"It's fine," I assure her. "You tried your best. Let's step away from it for now and come back to it later." But she doesn't want to come back to it later. She now hates the letter "v" and every word that contains the letter, and she wants to rid herself of all memories of "v" for the evening. I decide to leave her alone.
This morning, I opened her yellow homework folder and stared at her spelling assignment. How easy would it be for me to correct the "v" again? Wouldn't it be helping her to see what a proper "v" looks like?
But I realized, while changing the letter might help her to receive a check-plus on her paper, it wouldn't help her to take responsibility for her work, nor would it allow her teacher to see that she has a problem that needs attention. I can't be right beside her on the day of the spelling test, quietly erasing her flawed letter and replacing it with a more proper version.
Looking at the bigger picture, I won't be right beside her down the road, when she's studying for college exams, applying for a job or raising her kids. She's going to make mistakes, but hopefully she'll learn from them. And maybe learning the hard way to write a proper "v" is just the beginning of lessons that will make her a strong, responsible person, who hopefully also has great penmanship.
Learning to let go when your child is about to make a mistake: That was my big lesson of the day.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The article ran as a news brief in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Monday. The article titled, "Dispatcher Tried to Warn Engineer," about the deadly train collision in California last Friday, states the a dispatcher supposedly tried to alert the engineer of the commuter train that there was danger ahead, namely, an oncoming freight train. The call supposedly came too late.
Buried near the bottom of the news brief was this chilling piece of information: "A teenager told CBS2-TV that he had exchanged a brief text message with the engineer shortly before the crash. The Los Angeles station said the teen was among a group of youths who befriended the engineer and asked him questions about his work."
Now there are more reports surfacing about an investigation into whether the engineer for the commuter train was text messaging while on duty.
Let me just say this: Even if you are operating the old-fashioned cars at an amusement park--you know, the ones that run on a track--you should not be text messaging.
Does it take a train wreck that kills 25 people to scare everyone about this?
Many cities and states across the country have banned the use of cell phones while driving. . Only a handful also ban text messaging while driving, including New Jersey. (And if you've seen people drive in New Jersey, you know this is a good thing.) California has a new no-cell-phone law pertaining to drivers that went into effect earlier this year. Currently, there is no ban on text messaging in that state. And all of this refers to car and bus drivers. There is no mention of train drivers.
But doesn't it just seem like common sense that someone in charge of a train carrying hundreds of passengers should not be allowed to chat on a cell phone or send text messages? No doubt, if it turns out it's true that this engineer was texting while on duty, swift action will take place to keep this unfortunate event from happening again.
It seems, though, that some people may still not understand the potential risks of text messaging in certain circumstances. So here is my personal list of people who should not text message:
• Drivers behind the wheel-- this includes car drivers, truck drivers, bus drivers, train drivers, grocery cart drivers and tricycle drivers
• Airline pilots-- commercial or private, it doesn't matter
• Cyclists, joggers and roller bladers-- this should be a no-brainer, but allow me to beat the obvious to death
• Doctors performing surgery-- I don't care if you're only removing a wart from someone's finger; your texting can wait
• People seated at dining tables with other people-- in other words, how rude
Please feel free to add to the list.
P.S. Photo courtesy of download-free-pictures.com
Sunday, September 14, 2008
WORDS with MEANING
A newsletter for small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to build their companies one word at a time
Diane DiPiero has written extensively about and for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Diane's copywriting services target every aspect of content—both in print and online—that small business owners and entrepreneurs need to tell their story and grow their business.
Diane DiPiero, Copywriter
QUESTION: What makes your website so good? Killer graphics? Awesome content? User-friendly design? Tell us what makes it great (include the web address), & be featured in the next newsletter!
LET YOUR CONTENT SING!
To capture the attention of visitors to a website or readers of a brochure or newsletter, the content must “sing.” That doesn’t mean you need to employ trite slogans. The words should be conversational and catchy without being corny, and there should be a clear message.
When your content sings, readers end up humming your company’s tune, which can lead to greater awareness and increased business. Here are some ways to create content that sings. For more, visit www.dianedipiero.com/blog.
A.) Grab interest with sharp headlines (Just like memorable song titles. Think “Strangers in the Night,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or maybe “Dude Looks Like a Lady.”)
B.) Highlight great quotes from customers; give credit when possible. (Powerful words make for a powerful song.)
C.) Avoid telling your company’s whole story, especially on the home page. Tell an engaging but short story. (If they like this song, they’ll want to hear your whole repertoire.)
D.) Keep paragraphs on the short side, about 3-5 sentences. (Make it a tune they can stick with.)
E.) Avoid technical jargon as much as possible. (Wordy songs never catch on.)
F.) Be creative when appropriate; for example, when telling your company’s history or sharing employee bios. (Don’t be afraid to belt it out in an unusual way.)
SNAIL MAIL: IT’S STILL GOOD FOR BUSINESS
If you’ve never Tweeted; you’re not LinkedIn, and you believe that Face Book is for teenagers, you’re probably someone who still believes in the power of the postal system. Many a small business continues to get its message to prospective customers, vendors or partners through “snail mail.”
When targeting through direct mail, you’ll want to create the best possible effect to impress your audience. Here are some tips from Entrepreneur.com:
• Hire a professional copywriter and graphic designer
• Have an objective 3rd party read your piece
• Personalize as much as you can
• Break up copy with bullet points and graphics/white space
• Use a "P.S." because those are frequently read
• Use easy-to-read typestyles
• Put a call to action at the beginning, middle and end of your copy
WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU?
Diane DiPiero’s copywriting services are customized for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
• Newsletters (print or online)
1.) Editorial Content: Researching, interviewing and writing all newsletter articles; proofreading all copy
2.) Full Newsletter Package: Writing and layout, maintaining database and sending out newsletters
• SEO Writing
Strategic Writing: For strong SEO Results
• Web Content
1.) Writing and Researching: For new or updated websites
2.) Ongoing Content Updates
3.) Complete Web Content Package: All of the above
Regular Contributor: To your company's blog.
• Press Releases
1.) Writing Press Releases: Based on company news
2.) Complete Press Release Package: Includes writing and distributing press release + follow-up with media
1.) Speech Writing
2.) Consultant Services: Advice on content, grammar, etc.
• Article Writing
1.) Bios & Company Stories: For industry publications
2.) Ghost Writing: For small business execs + entrepreneurs
• B to B and B to C Communications
A variety of print and online options
• Case Studies
Interviewing, researching + writing of case studies
Note: Fees vary based on project scope. To receive a rate sheet with general price ranges for each package, call 216/551-1764 or email email@example.com.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Wow, am I suffering from Catholic guilt. I had mentioned that I was looking for some scuttlebutt on Sarah Palin, woman extraordinaire and presumptive vice presidential nominee for the Republican Party. All I wanted was to find out that her pantry wasn't well stocked, or that she hadn't cooked a meal for her family in seven months or that her closet was a mess. I didn't want or expect to hear that she had a pregnant teenage daughter.
The pundits were already laughing their heads off yesterday about this situation. But so far, Palin seems to be handling it with dignity, and I wish her the best. And if I find out that her house is a little messy during this time, I promise to let it slide.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
A day after the anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the historic acceptance speech by Barack Obama, on the birthday of both John McCain and Michael Jackson (could we find two more disparate people born on the same day, by the way?) and on the day before my 44th birthday (at which point I will begrudgingly agree to call myself middle-aged), I happily post my first blog on this site.