Wellness Wisdom: Thermography, Getting Older, and the Beautiful “I Touch Myself Project”

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This past week I received the results from my first thermography exam and it was very eye opening. For women who haven’t had the benefit of thermography to assess their breast health, I highly recommend it (click HERE for a previous blog post on it and my wellness strategy). It can find things years before mammograms do, and are especially recommended for women under 50 in safely detecting changes in denser breast tissue, typical for younger women. In addition, unlike mammography, it is non-invasive and doesn’t fill your body with radiation to assess where changes are occurring in your body (they can assess you head to toe, both men and women). Even though I had the thermographs taken by a wonderful ND, the results are actually analyzed and reported out by an MD, and then sent to the office that did it, myself, and my fantastic naturopath at Bloom Natural Healthcare.

Being that this year I turned 40, I am really conscious about the changes in my body as it starts to occasionally look, act, and feel a bit different. I got my first gray hairs last year – just a few but enough to pull out the tweezers initially in a slight panic.  Not any kind of disgust, just a shock to the system that I could possibly be old enough.  (Then of course I was quickly chided by my girlfriends who got their grays at a much younger age!). I noticed when I do cat/cow in yoga that I need to put the blanket under my knees. I stare at the skin on the top of my hands that is starting to move around more when I touch it, and it reminds me of how much time they’ve put in helping me live my life. I’ve fallen in love with the wisdom of Christiane Northrup’s Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdomand it’s inspired me to get even more holistic with how I look after myself.

My thermography results look somewhat similar to the top image in the above sample, with the red as areas to keep an eye on (potential fibrocystic changes, although I don’t have any symptoms). There is also indication of hormonal (estrogen/progesterone) imbalances which may or may not be attributed to recently getting off birth control after many years.  Fortunately, since this is my first thermo, the initial exam is to create a baseline, and I’ll be getting another one this summer for them to compare against before any in-depth recommendations are made. Simply knowing there are things going on in my breasts, however, has made me particularly thoughtful, being that both sides of my family have a history of breast cancer and I had gotten mammograms almost yearly since I was 28 until two years ago. I feel much more connected with my own body than I ever did with a nameless radiologist and an ob/gyn who spent maybe 15 minutes with me once a year. I *love* this piece, by the way…

So, for anyone and everyone, below is a beautiful video my fiance shared with me that is part of Australia’s Cancer Council paying tribute to Chrissy Amphlett of The Divinyls who passed away from breast cancer last year and encouraging women to do breast self-exams. Check out the article on it for more details and to get connected with the project.

EcoGrrl-icious

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So much for dark blue with green! Final results from my first (and last) ceramics class.

So much for a brilliant cobalt blue glaze! Final results from my first (and last) ceramics class. Glad I tried, but pottery (with exception of the painting, which I enjoyed) just isn’t my thing I learned.

* China is pushing fracking and, not surprisingly, wreaking havoc on its people and environment. Ugh.

* Why did they not have farm camp when I was a kid?  Oh yeah, it was called working in my mom’s garden. But still, farm camp! How rad is that!!

* Reminders are good. NRDC’s Nine Ways to Save Water. Time for me to get that bucket in the shower!!

* Eating for Optimum Fertilitygood food for thought as our thoughts over the rest of the year will include preparing for that possibility…

* An awesome bible for basic gardening – How to Plant.

* Ooh la la, Stella McCartney’s gorgeous line of eco-friendly lingerie.

* And finally, music to boogie to as you start your weekend, woo hoo!

Workin’ 9 to 5 (and understanding the bias of reputation)

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“Women who take on informal leadership roles are going against the gender-based grain by behaving assertively and decisively – qualities more traditionally associated with men…Men are traditionally defined by words like aggressive, forceful, independent and decisive. Women, on the other hand, are stereotypically expected to be kind, helpful, sympathetic and concerned about others…But, despite the widespread notion of women as social specialists, perceptions of the network positions of women will be distorted because of the expectation that brokerage is men’s work.”
~ Phyllis Korkki, from the New York Times article The Leaders Who Aren’t Always Followed.

It finally makes sense. This article helped explain a lot about the role many women are given as informal leaders, in roles where they are not managers but expected to influence organizational or departmental change, then are subject to the hypocrisy of gender bias.

We’re told we’re empowered to make decisions, then torn down for being “difficult”.

We’re asked to come in and make big changes, then pulled aside for being “disruptive”. 

We’re hired for our knowledge, yet when we voice our expertise, we’re thrown under the bus.

I’ve watched this happen over and over again with so many strong, smart women – kickass women who are unafraid to be wholly themselves and not roll over, “lean in”, or otherwise feel the need to change their awesomeness to fit into the clique of women adapting to the norms of the typical cultures where women are told to mimic the style of men in order to be successful.

I have witnessed it first hand as well as dealt with it myself when I was in the corporate world, watching both men and women who claim to celebrate diversity, encourage free thinking and push innovation in their organizations then go right ahead and discriminate, punish or otherwise piss all over those who think differently and aren’t obsessed with playing the people-pleasing good girl role.

“Women who display competence are too often seen — by both men and women — as unlikable, unfeminine, aggressive, conniving and untrustworthy. Although some competent women may get credit for their achievements, men who may be less accomplished are seen as likable and are more likely to be hired or promoted. Such perceptions are a major roadblock for women as they try to climb the career ladder.”
~
Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers, from the LA Times article, For women, it’s not a glass ceiling but a plugged pipeline.

So…what are you doing to change this in your work? What are you doing to open your mind as a leader to those who think and behave differently from you and are equally effective at bringing in results? What are you doing to call out those who discriminate against the awesome forces of nature called women? What re you doing to assess your own biases?

Are you going to change the world or are you going to go along with the status quo?

Weekend in Pictures

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Tulips are still everywhere - one of my favorite parts of spring :)

Tulips are still coming up in the garden – one of my favorite parts of spring :)

I forget what these are called, but they're another groundcover that keeps spreading happily every year...

I forget what these are called, they’re another ground cover spreads happily every year…

Invested in a couple new organic towels that are not only made from organic cotton but also use azo-free dyes, which is a chemical many in the textile industry use that has been proven to be a carcinogen.

Invested in new organic towels after my last two 20+ year old towels (yep, got ‘em in college at Costco, pre-NAFTA when towels were still made in the USA) finally were turned into rags this weekend (the fella will be happy about this as we never have enough it seems!). They are not only made from organic cotton but are also free of  azo dyes, a carcinogenic chemical used in the textile industry, and is OE 100 certified.

My usual Sunday morning breakfast and New York Times at Woodlawn Coffee took a bit of a turn as I tried the special, pork belly with poached egg on lentils with chimchurri. Very interesting and pretty tasty, but I'll probably return to my regular dish next week :)  Gotta love Kelly the barista who always has my coffee ready for me by the time I reach the front of the line!

My usual Sunday morning breakfast and perusal of the New York Times at Woodlawn Coffee included the special, pork belly with poached egg on lentils with chimchurri. Very interesting and pretty tasty, but I’ll probably return to my regular dish (GF of course) next week :) Kudos again to Kelly the barista who always has my drink ready for me by the time I reach the front of the line!

gloria-steinem

Completely immersed in Gloria Steinem’s Revolution from Within. I’d always thought I’d already read this, so realizing I had not was a wonderful surprise. My friend Amy will appreciate that I am marking the hell up out of this book as there’s so much inspiration!! It sparked a conversation with my fiance as well about how women grow up reading books by male and female authors but men rarely are reading female authors. Needless to say, Toni Morrison and Gloria Steinem are now on his list of authors to get familiar with :) (source)

 

The Green Wedding Chronicles: Remembering the Real Investment

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“What if, as a society, we celebrated other milestones instead? Wouldn’t it be amazing if college graduations were given the wedding treatment? If the commencement ceremony included a $3,000 dress and a $70-a-plate dinner for friends and family who came in from all over the country? Photographers, flowers, dancing, a band? “You’ve got to see my graduation video. It was so beautiful!” What would be the outcome if little girls had 32 television shows to watch about that? Would that give them something else to aspire to? To dream about?”
~ Valerie Alexander (from her article in the Huffington Post)

As I’ve mentioned before, our wedding is intentionally green both in how we respect the earth AND how we choose not to buy into the media and societal frenzy about what makes a wedding (AKA, spending tens of thousands of dollars). I’ve been reading a lot of blogs about weddings lately, and most are the same story – traditional wedding obsession, massive spending, and making it less about the two of them and more about spending six months’ income for a few hours of partying and a whole lot of waste left behind at the end. Some even express feeling conflicted about it, yet don’t seem to dare veer away from the status quo.

Calling Out the Overspending

Some say you shouldn’t say anything if others choose to spend tens of thousands on their wedding. Being this is me, I call bullshit on that. Your parents fronting the bill so you think it’s no big deal if you spend all that money? You have so much money on your own that you say it’s your prerogative? See, to me that’s still a problem. Just because they will doesn’t mean they should. Just because you can doesn’t mean you must. If your parents or you have $30K lying around and you choose to spend that all on that one occasion? It just is a bit too telling about what’s so, so wrong with our society. I’m not trying to take away anyone’s right to do what they want, just trying to get people to stop for a serious reality check about following what others say your wedding should include.

If you don’t have to worry about retirement, a rainy day fund, kids, or other plans for your future that requires financial means, at least think about how many people you could help with thirty thousand bucks.

And trust me, I get it. I have a Pinterest board. I had dreams as a little girl, playing MASH as I was taught by society to think of boys as the top priority of growing up, while none of my the boy friends had anything even remotely similar to play or look to. They were looking at careers and adventures.

So first, I’m not talking about not having a special day, I’m just saying, is your day not special if you only paid a couple thousand bucks for everything rather than twenty or thirty times that?? Will you regret in ten years that you didn’t spend more on fancy invitations or floral centerpieces?

Food for Thought

Here’s some food for thought from this CNN article, Don’t Waste Money on Your Wedding

  • “On one hand, it’s a once in a lifetime occasion. On the other, it’s just that — once — that you’ll only be wearing your wedding dress, so do you really want to spend a couple of mortgage payments on it?”
  • “Your guests’ presence is a present, indeed, but you don’t have to pay them back with custom-printed tchotchkes that you might end up lugging home or tossing in the trash.”
  • “It’s bubbly, elegant and oh so festive, but truth be told, champagne is a lousy pairing with cake, and half-filled glasses and barely eaten slices end up littering the tables.”

It’s pretty amazing at how much cleanup happens after a wedding. We thought about all the leftovers that might occur just from our simple small dinner we have planned, and the fact that with so much dinner that folks may not have room for dessert! And with that, I contacted the restaurant and cut our food order by a third. (Dude, the pies that Gretchen makes? Worth saving room for.)

Priorities, Priorities!

A great piece of advice I have seen out there was to pick three things when making a big decision, which for this would be the top three priorities for the wedding for the two of us – then not worry about the rest. For us, it was to say our vows at our favorite little spot on the coast (where we have beautiful memories), have a good photographer document our special day (neither of us have had a professional photographer since senior pictures in high school and as a photographer myself, it’s been kind of a dream), and take a honeymoon trip right here in the Northwest (a chance to explore our surroundings in a way we normally don’t afford ourselves).

Our venue cost nothing, our photographer’s fee was reasonable (we paid cash), and our honeymoon is set for autumn when less tourists are about, fall colors are kicking in, and so we can use a portion of an upcoming inheritance to finance a bit nicer hotel selection. (Nope, not spending the entire inheritance on the honeymoon – the majority is being used to pay down our mortgage). Who said you need to rush off on a trip the day after the wedding? After all the traveling we have done, we’re looking forward to a quiet summer enjoying each others’ company, working on the house and in the garden, and growing my business while Dan volunteers at local nonprofits until his employment authorization is processed.

But What About the Dress?

Yes, yes, I want to look pretty for my sweetheart when we exchange vows, yet the longer I looked at dresses, the more I realized how simple I wanted this to be and how awkward I would feel in a big fancy gown.  Not to mention how silly it was that most dresses are made in sweatshop conditions, and the fancy boutiques usually require a minimum of 6-12 months. To me, that’s crazy! I can’t imagine getting engaged then not getting married fairly soon thereafter – never would we allow a vendor to determine when we say “I Do”. A friend here in town is making my dress, honoring my love of vintage fabrics and eco-style, and refuses to charge me an arm and a leg for it.

Rethinking Gift Giving Traditions

The quote at the top that I included really hit home with me. When I got my degree at age 31, I didn’t receive any cards or gifts or parties. I got a piece of paper in the mail and a mountain of student loan debt that no one offered to chip in on. Imagine if I had created a gift registry for student loan payments – would anyone take that seriously? Kinda doubt it. Yet I received so many inquiries about if I had created a registry for my wedding that I finally did, but made it explicit that we are not expecting gifts.  And the stuff we did put on the list? Gift cards. We couldn’t think of anything and felt kind of silly making a list of specific things out. Maybe it’s getting married in our 40′s, but all we are looking for from our friends is their presence in our lives.

It comes down to this: we are making an investment in each other. Our marriage is more important of a focus than any one day. Our life we have built and will continue to build is the investment. So with that, we choose simplicity.

“Try to make the life decisions your 37-year-old self would want you to make, not the ones the seven-year-old you fantasized about. Want the marriage, knowing all that it will demand of you. Want the child, realizing that her needs will come first for the next 20 years. Choose the man who will take care of the laundry and change the baby’s diapers when you’ve got the flu, rather than the one who spent a month choreographing his proposal so that the video of it would go viral. Understand what you’re getting into and put your energy into planning your union, not planning your wedding. That’s the key to a happy marriage and a happy life.”
~ Valerie Alexander (from her article in the Huffington Post)

Wellness Wisdom: Remembering the Breath

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This week’s theme in my yoga class, taught by our wonderful instructor Pamela (who happens to be one of the rad women of YogaAnne – their videos and app are kinda awesome, y’all), was all about the breath.

As most of us know, when we stop to take a breath, to get quiet, it can help us feel so, so much better. For many years, I’ve been practicing ujjayi breath when I am in poses, and also during those moments where I just have to stop and get myself centered.  Isn’t it funny how during moments of tension our breathing can change so dramatically?

My fiance and I always giggle when she has us do lion’s breath, so much so that while he’s been back in Oz, our skyping always includes one because neither of us can do it with a straight face. But hey, laughing relaxes, which is totally a major point of why we do yoga. Today’s class focused on alternate nostril breathing, always surprising me because we tend to breathe primarily out of one nostril depending on the time of day (for me, it’s the left one). It may sound silly but when you do it, and really focus on it as you start your meditation and/or yoga practice, it can totally put you in the zone.

Below is a pretty awesome infographic I ran across the other day that discusses some of the many health benefits that occur when we focus on our breathing…namaste, y’all :)

EcoGrrl-icious

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my columnar apple is blossoming :)

my columnar apple is blossoming :)

Woo hoo – the sunshine is amazing this week here in Stumptown!! I actually had that first moment of the year in the garden where I thought, uh-oh, I’d better get some sunscreen on my back and shoulders! Pretty cool how the seasons still manage to make us giddy when they come around each year.

Here are a few things that drew my attention this week…

* AWESOME news here in Portland this week announcing that we can now return to recycling rigid plastics (things like lids and clamshells and prescription bottles that can’t go in the curbside bins)!!!! While we all need to reduce our use of plastics, this is great to hear there is a market for what does exist.

* Some of you have seen the video about how to peel garlic by shaking it between two stainless steel bowls, but what if you don’t have a ton of garlic to peel? Check this awesomeness out.

* One mile of bike lane is 100x cheaper than one mile of roadway. ’nuff said.

* Can you believe Earth Day is right around the corner? Here’s a ton of ways to make a difference in Portland, and here’s a ton more ways to get involved anywhere in the world!!!

* The arugula is growing like crazy in the garden – not long til the first harvest!  Thinking about trying this arugula quinoa risotto, substituting my vegan cashew ricotta for the dairy and almonds for the walnuts. YUM.

* LOVE this tool shed made out of repurposed doors…and we just happen to have four old doors in the garage and a fella with a love of carpentry…hmm….

* While I’ve been blogging as EcoGrrl for 5 1/2 years, today marks two years blogging on WordPress! Yippee!! So glad I moved over from Blogger – the ease and customization are both SO much better, not to mention the app. :-)

“There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.”
~Mirabel Osler

Workin’ 9 to 5 (and advancing your career in tech)

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womenintechbanner

Ok this week is more of an advertisement for a cool event that I’m attending and speaking at, but for those of you in or near Portland, it’s seriously worth putting on your calendar – and it’s FREE! Brought to you by the Technology Association of Oregon, my alma mater Puppet Labs, ChickTech, Webtrends, and more, this is a great opportunity to get a lot of views on all things career. Hope you can come!

Psst…Look for me giving a lightning talk entitled, Lean Whatever Way You Want: Tips For Building a Career in PDX Tech.

Advancing the Careers of Women in Technology

When:  Thursday, April 17th
Time:  4:15 - 8:30 PM
Where:  Puppet Labs, 926, NW 13th Ave., Portland, OR 97209
Price: FREE! Free to attend however registration is required

The Green Wedding Chronicles: Planning A Life (not a day)

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“In the end there doesn’t have to be anyone who understands you. There just has to be someone who wants to.”
~ Robert Brault

In a little over a month, I’ll be getting married, and the first thing of course everyone asks is, “how’s the wedding planning going?”

It kind of makes me giggle, as the planning is done, and for me, these last few weeks are just about helping my fiance coordinate immigration & relocation logistics as he prepares for tomorrow’s visa interview in Sydney. Hearts are racing we are so excited!!! Our wedding next month is the icing on our cake, a rite of passage as we write our next chapter together.

But seriously, we are planning a life together, and getting married is a tiny, tiny moment in a lifetime together, if we’re all being honest. My thoughts are much more on the lines of being a good partner, getting through the challenges, learning how to be a family, all that stuff that no number of past relationships can teach you because every partnership, every marriage, every dynamic is unique.

Our wedding is simple, green, creative, and about us. So is our marriage.

  • I love this couple’s dedication to going through a yearly relationship summit, to really dig deep into how the past year has gone and what each of them wants for the future, the challenges they’re facing, and how they want to move forward successfully. And while as a couple you want to always be having these conversations, like the author said, this commitment to renew your contract of sorts can really help along the way with the intensity that can occur. Like she said, “These are the big issues. Ones that can’t be solved when things are heated and doors are slamming. Ones that won’t resolve themselves with makeup sex.”
  •  And the site this article was on, Offbeat Home (the follow-up website to Offbeat Bride), has so many great resources and real-life stories and interviews as they talk to couples after the big day to see how they’re getting through the day in and day out of living this life together.

We’re smarter doing this in our 40′s.  But we’re still constantly learning.

I love this man like no other, but he still can make me batty sometimes, and I him. But we have found a way thus far to focus on the good, not battle to the end, be vulnerable with each other and protect what we have in the fiercest ways. Getting married at 40 is much different than at 26, as you can imagine, and as the saying goes, “the things I know now…” But that’s the beauty of life – everyone is a rookie at it. Everyone has the power to reach out and ask for help when things are befuddling or frustrating.  And that goes for relationships.  No friends or parents or classes or television shows or self-help book can give you all the answers or examples for how your marriage should work.

He reads to me stories and poetry, both his and that of others. As he works on projects around the house, he sings in this gorgeous deep voice that gives me happy chills. He questions me fearlessly and not only apologizes when he’s fucked up, but takes meaningful steps to repair and rebuild trust – and vice versa for me. He tells me he loves me all the time, and asks me to dance as we get up from a table at a restaurant. He loves learning as do I – about the natural world, about humanity, about philosophy, about food, so much…and with no ego or attitude. He sees all sides of me yet as he said loves me because every day he discovers new facets of me that intrigue him – and I think the same of him. I always learn something from him – how to be, how to think, how to do, yet never feel like I’ve lost myself, as we both protect and adore each other’s uniqueness.

It’s been worth the wait.

Weekend in Pictures

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Love the miracle of rhubarb - seeming to die into the ground at winter only to be reborn every year in brilliant red...

I love the miracle of rhubarb, with it seeming to die into the ground at winter, only to be reborn every spring in this most brilliant red…

Eagerly awaiting the spinach to get big enough to become a salad!

Eagerly awaiting the spinach to get big enough to become a salad!

time to thin the onions!

time to thin the onions!

Gotta love the beauty of the first leaves of future spuds :)

Gotta love the beauty of the first leaves of future spuds :)

red wine, great conversation, and movie with a friend (source)

awesome chill Saturday girls’ night with red wine, great conversation, and netflixing Mona Lisa Smile with one of my favorite girlfriends (source)

bringing the seed starts of basil and tomatoes out for hardening during the day in our coldframe made from repurposed windows.

bringing the seed starts of basil and tomatoes out to start hardening off during the day in our coldframe made from old repurposed windows from my house.

my honey skyping me from Sydney before his immigration interview on Sunday night. Since then he's had the interview and the visa has been approved, woo hoo!!!

my honey skyping from Sydney where he had his immigration interview today – it was quickly approved and we’re good to go – processed at a breakneck speed of 2 months from start to finish – thanks feds for your efficiency!!