Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Finding Dr. Right

Image courtesy of : Naypong/
For me, one of the toughest things about moving has been having to switch healthcare providers. It's been two years since we moved from suburban Chicago to suburban Nashville and yet I still haven't committed to a primary care physician and an OB-GYN.  My son has his doctor, and so does my husband.  I, on the other hand, have been putting it off for as long as I could, and just praying I would be healthy enough to stay doctor-free.

Why?  Well, my husband insists it's the perfectionist in me, looking for that perfect combination: doctor with excellent patient reviews and within reasonable driving distance.  I suppose you can add that I also need to like how the doctor looks.  'Not creepy' would be a good start, and unfortunately I've found some doctors online who had pictures that totally creeped me out. No amount of stellar ratings would entice me to choose them.  

I'm sure it doesn't help that deep down, I know I'm still having a hard time letting go of my previous doctors in IL who took excellent care of me.  As 'sad' or 'amusing' as this may sound, I miss and adore them.  And yes, they were all very 'easy on the eye'.  

I'm beginning to think that finding a doctor is like dating.

I need to like the way they look, first and foremost.  

And then once you get used to someone and the relationship ends, it's not always easy to move on and replace them, is it?

Ideally (though I've been known to not mind long-distance relationships at all), my doctors also need to be geographically accessible.  I would think twice about choosing a doctor who I would have to drive more than 30 minutes for, and then wait some more at the office before being finally seen. That kind of stress would make me even more sick.  Or impatient and annoyed which would still make me sicker in the end.  So, no thanks.

I also do some research about their background.  I try to see where they graduated from, what sort of expertise they have, medical certifications, as well as accolades.  Good on paper has always been important to me, and no I don't believe in that 'good on paper, bad in (medical) bed' saying.

Oh, and before you get any grandiose ideas about finding the most perfect doctor out there for you who gets all the items on your non-negotiables list checked off, remember that your pool of potential doctors are limited by who's in your health insurance network.  Not every doctor out there is available for you to 'date', sorry to say.

Seeing a new doctor for the first time always causes me anxiety, I suppose the way first (especially 'blind') dates go. Whether it's going to be a male or female doctor doesn't make much difference to me.  I know they will ask a lot of questions, and I would have to reveal a lot of things, and all that isn't always easy.  And who likes being touched or poked by someone you just met?  To make matters worse, I'm also not a fan of taking my clothes off right on the first 'date'! I'm just not that kind of girl!  Unfortunately, much of this is inevitable especially when it involves your gynecologist!

In dating or meeting someone new, there are rules pertaining to just how much you should divulge.  I'm guessing this is why I'm having such a hard time right now sorting through my medical records, the ones from my previous doctors. I know that these records need to be seen by my new doctors.  It would serve me well to let them know of my 'past'. However, how much information is too much information?....especially on your first 'date'?  I don't feel comfortable revealing everything too soon, especially when I'm not sure if this is someone I want to commit to in the long term, if indeed he/she could be 'the one'.  Is it enough to give them the general results of tests done in the past?  Or do I need to let them see my 100+ pages of lab results, doctors' notes and all the skeletons in my closet, this early in the relationship?  If it doesn't work out and I find myself needing to move on again, how do I get all that information back now that I've revealed all of it? Tricky isn't it?

At the end of the day, deep down I know I just need to stop over-analyzing this.  I know I need a doctor.  I really can't do without one and chances are, he/she won't be perfect.  It's all a leap of faith and you just hope and pray you find someone you can trust, someone who can take care of you, and who has your best interest at heart.  If they have all that, I'm sure it won't be difficult for them to grow on you, eventually.  And hopefully, you will live (and not die too early, under their care) happily ever after!

What do you look for in a doctor?  Are you also the 'picky' type?  Any horror 'dating' stories to share?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

He Rolls Away With My Heart In Tow...

Love and Anxiety are inseparable.

I know that now, and though it sounds kind of depressing, it’s probably one of my most enlightened pronouncements to date.

You meet someone who can potentially be ‘the one’ and you become anxious that it might be unrequited. 

You both fall in love, enter into a relationship and you feel anxious that your partner might not be as committed as you are. 

We go about our daily lives doing our best to suspend all sense of anxiety that something bad might suddenly happen to our friends and family.  It’s worse if they live far away from you.

I can belabor the point I’m making but I’m sure you get my drift. 

As a parent I know that no matter how I want to rid myself of anxiety when it comes to my son, I know it can never be possible.  Sure we all have varying degrees of anxiety, and by no means am I saying that good parenting requires it.  All I’m saying here is that love implies vulnerability.  As such it’s natural to feel some degree of fear or discomfort.  After all, it IS your heart (and soul) that’s on the line.  The key is simply to not be defeated by that fear and learn to focus, as best you can, on the far greater rewards of surrendering openly to love, with all its messy sidekicks.  This is a lesson I feel I’m perpetually working on and fortunately, Life doesn’t seem to tire of giving me exercises.

Just last weekend, one of my son’s classmates hosted a skating birthday party.  Noah doesn’t know how to skate but he was excited about it.  It was to be his second time at a skating rink.  At first, my husband and I insisted that he use a skate mate to help him balance a bit and maybe give him some confidence.  He tried it for a while.  After a couple of laps though, he decided to do without it.  I thought he was done and getting too tired but then he said, “No Mama.  Just skate with me and hold my hand.”  

I was proud that he wanted to persevere, that he wasn't overcome with the fear of falling or being embarrassed even.  But I was also afraid that he might hurt himself.  We started out holding each other’s hands.  I kept giving him reminders.  

Go slow”.  “Don’t lean back”.  “Bend your knees and try to find your balance”.  

After a while, he said, "Don't hold me anymore, but stay there".  

I complied.  

I let go of his hand slowly as I assured him, "Mommy's just here okay?  Just grab my hand when you feel you need to.  I'll be here."

At that point, I knew I was having a parenting lesson moment, a lesson on loving.  I'm not doing my son any favors by never letting him go.  I'm not doing him any favors by overprotecting him and keeping him from all falls and bruises and pains.  It's not even at all possible for me to do that.  The loving thing to do is to release him and let him experience things, while giving him whatever guidance I can offer and assure him that I will be close by when he needs me; that when he reaches out, my hand will be there.  We might fall together, or it might just be him who'll get hurt. (Sometimes, what we all need is to experience the fall in order to learn).  But still, I will be there to help him, or at least comfort him and say, "I'm still here, no matter what".

The truth is, it wasn’t only Noah who was conquering his fears.  I was probably more afraid than he was, as I let go of his hand and let him go without me.  Letting go is never really easy, for anybody.  But seeing him conquering his fear helped.  And maybe him seeing my willingness to let him go helped fuel his courage as well.  

In love and relationships, that’s really all we can do, isn’t it?  When we know we have each other’s hearts, all we can do is give those hearts as much care as we can while at the same time, treading forward, going on our respective paths, taking care not to fall and shatter ourselves and our loved ones to pieces.  There’s no such thing as a fall- and bruise-free life, especially when you love.  

And when you love, you are connected; even when you let go; even when your paths diverge.  One’s fall, or pain, is as much the other’s.  Connection, or vulnerability, dictates that.  But it truly helps to know that a hand will be there to support you, or cushion your fall, if possible.  It always helps to know, it always gives us courage when we are certain that there is someone there who trusts us with their heart and who holds our heart in turn. And if you still fall, it still helps to know that there’ll be someone there to say, “I’m still here, no matter what."  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

...And The World Makes Sense Again!

Yesterday morning, while watching the morning news to keep myself updated on the US debt ceiling crisis, I saw an interesting news ticker at the bottom of the screen.

"Study shows that Oreos are as addictive as cocaine".


At that point I realized that this bit of mind-blowing information rocks my existence to the core, even more so than the possibility of the US defaulting on its debt or when the scientific world decided that Pluto was not a planet. 


Yes, Oreos are just as addictive as cocaine.  At least now I have a solid excuse and explanation for why I can't stop dunking those suckers in milk and munching away.  Or how I can never say I'll only eat 3 and stop.  Now life makes sense once more.

I'm still waiting for other breakthroughs that would hopefully explain a few more realities.  Seeing the following headlines would definitely make some things in my life more comprehensible: 

1.  "Secret psychiatric hospital in Texas claims Sen. Ted Cruz as an escape patient"

2.  "Study on assholes/one-uppers/jerks finds anomalous brain cell          mutation as culprit"

3.  "Elliptical machines linked to increase in belly fat"

4.  "Chocolate and Peanut Butter consumption lowers greenhouse gas  emissions"  

5.  "Alien subliminal hypnosis uncovered behind Facebook and Pinterest mass addiction"

Who knows?  Maybe in a few more months we'll see at least some of these come true?  For now, let's be happy with the Oreo findings and give in to our genetic predisposition.  There's no point blaming ourselves.  Resistance is futile.

What sort of headline do you want to imagine that will help you make sense of YOUR world?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Your Signature Kiai

In martial arts, there's a practice called the 'Kiai' (kee-yaahhhhh).  My son's sensei is so good at it that when he does it, parents like myself who are just sitting on the side benches shudder and startle to death.  Every. Single. Time.

The Kiai is a yell that's done mostly before and during a technique.  As was explained in my son's karate class, you do it to intimidate or scare the opponent, as well as help add some force to your technique as it forces you to breathe out and punch or kick from the gut.  

It's a useful technique that really makes a difference.  But as tempting as it might be to do a Kiai in our daily lives, we all know we'd be put in straight jackets in no time if we did so.  However, I believe we do practice a saner version of the Kiai in our daily lives.  We just call it impression management.

My husband often wonders why I bother to put some make up on, fix my hair and 'get all dressed up' when we go out, especially on weekends.  Other than the fact that as a stay-at-home parent, those are really my only opportunities to feel and look 'different' (translate: not keep looking like I just swept the chimney ala cinderella in sweat pants and torn up shirt), trying to look 'nicer than usual' also helps me put some 'Kiai' in my social interactions.

Let's face it.  First impressions count.  No matter how much we deny and reject superficiality, we see first and foremost, and construct situations initially based on what we (think we) see.  The way we respond to strangers is largely shaped by how they appear to us, what qualities we attribute to them based on how they appear, speak and act.  This is why I find myself adjusting my 'Kiai' based on where I'm going, or what situations I anticipate finding myself in.  It makes sense for me to dress differently when I'm just casually running errands, versus those days when I know I'll be in the more affluent side of town (filled with snobs and old money...yes, they exist where I live).  I also make sure I look respectable and 'smart' when I know I'm meeting my son's teachers, without looking unapproachable and uptight. When I go to church (which is in the 'rich' side of town), I've also learned that dressing 'appropriately' doesn't only mean 'semi-casual' but more importantly 'tasteful with just a subtle hint of expensive'.  Think Brooks Brothers, J. Crew or Banana Republic with a hint of Eddie Bauer (not that all my clothes come from the above stores...I wish!).

We adjust the way we look and behave based on situations we find ourselves in, not to deceive, but to be received better, and therefore be more effective in our social interactions.  Practicing impression management (or your signature 'Kiai') helps us set the tone, define the situation to our advantage, as well as gives us greater self-confidence.  When you know you look good and you look the part, somehow it helps you deliver.  But just as in martial arts, a loud or forceful Kiai won't do much without proper technique and execution.  As one of my favorite university professors taught me, 'It's important to be cute.  But after five minutes, you need to be competent'.

What social situations do you find yourself practicing the most 'Kiai' in? Do you feel it's effective? 

When do you most employ impression management?  Has it become effortless for you at this point, or do you still give it much thought and energy?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Is He Worthy of Me?

When I began blogging, roughly around four years ago, my purpose was to explore ideas or feelings that may be occupying me and have some sort of release, hence the title 'Catharsis'.  Not in a million years did I expect that a reader would actually write to me and ask for advice.  (I must admit I have fantasized about it though and secretly wished it!)

Well, that day has come and I thank this dear and fabulous reader for giving me an interesting material to explore this week.  She wants to remain anonymous so I'll just refer to her as "Rarity", just because my son is currently watching 'My Little Pony'.
*Photo Credit: Master isolated images/*

Anyway, Rarity wants to know:  "How does a woman know that her man is for real?  How does she know (not feel) that the man she's in love with is being true to her and isn't just playing a game or sticking around until the next good thing comes along?"

Oooohhh, this is a tough one.  But I'll do my best so just bear with me because there are a lot of things here we need to break down...

The first point I want to make to Rarity is that with this question, what I actually hear you asking is this:  How do I know this man is worth my time, attention and investment in feelings? Can you give me signposts so I can easily identify which men won't be a waste of my time, which men are truly worthy of me?  How can I be sure that this man's intentions are true?

I definitely hope you are not asking what to look for in terms of spotting men who will not hurt you because that's a totally different field, I believe. Someone can be 'for real' and 'worth your time and feelings' and still end up hurting you, whether inadvertently or otherwise.  So for now, let's separate that issue, shall we?

Rarity, do you remember the story of the Velveteen Rabbit?  In this story, the rabbit learned what 'being real' meant. Do you remember that it had only to do with love and being loved?  That things (or we) become 'real' once we are loved and that it's something that can't be ever undone.  I will apply the same here to try to answer your question.  I think that finding someone 'real' has to do with someone who possesses love and is capable of truly loving, and so most of my answers below will ultimately have to do with what loving means or how it is to give love.

Now, I want to be clear that I don't have a ton of experience when it comes to relationships with men.  What I'm going to share now is knowledge gained from personal experiences, others' experiences shared with me, as well as insights gained from books.  These are subjective and here it goes...

I think someone is 'for real' when ---

...he makes your happiness a priority; when he shows that your happiness is important to him even if, or especially if, it presents no clear gain for him.  I believe it's important to be with someone who really wants to make you happy, wants you to BE happy and he shows a clear willingness to make that possible for you.  (Note that this assumes that both of you know what can make you happy so you need to know your self, and allow him to really know you).

...he shows a clear, unwavering certainty that he wants to be with you; that it is YOU he wants to be with and that he's willing to move heaven and earth to make that achievable.

...he will never allow you to challenge your sense of self-respect; will never push you to sacrifice your personal boundaries in terms of values, and dearly-held beliefs / morals (e.g. spirituality, your moral compass, people who have always been important and supportive of you, etc).  Someone who truly loves you, and therefore is 'for real', will never demand that you sacrifice something that has always been integral to your healthy sense of self and well-being. Someone who really loves you will only endeavor to enhance your self-love and not the other way around. When you have some discomfort about a person who wrongly or unhealthily challenges you in this way, listen to your gut and walk away.

...he truly sees you for who you are (with all your flaws, insecurities, and demons) and still wants to be with you, not to change you but to journey with you.  

(and by the same token)---
...he trusts you enough to be able to expose the inner layers of his life to you (details about his family and meeting them; his past, whether good or bad; his intimate thoughts, dreams, disappointments, pains and joys).  In other words, once you feel that he is willing to engage in genuine intimacy with you (not just physical, but a real opening up and willingness for transparency and mental and emotional 'nakedness') can you see him as being 'real'. 

...he is consistent, reliable and self-assured.  You wouldn't want to be with someone who is hot and then suddenly cold, and then hot again; someone who is completely unpredictable and has no sense of constancy.  Such a person will not only drive you mad, but also exhibits a sense of uncertainty whether about you or himself.  Either way, you don't need to participate in that confusion.  Remember that it is not your job to convince him of anything. You want someone who is already sure, secure and mature, instead of someone who still wastes time playing games.

...he is able to put his ego aside for you, and, to borrow a line from '10 Things I Hate About You', would be willing to 'sacrifice himself in the altar of dignity'. I'm not asking that you expect him to humiliate himself and demand that he forsake his self-respect.  But someone who has true intentions and really wants to offer his love knows that his ego is not as important as being able to honor you, and express to the world just how much you mean to him.  To love is to be vulnerable and embracing that vulnerability is only possible when the ego is put aside.

I think those are some of the 'sign posts' I can give you, Rarity.  That said, I still want to emphasize that as much as you probably hate hearing this, it is true that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to love and relationships.  Two important things to remember at all times, though, is to know yourself/ your boundaries, and trust yourself / your intuition. Experiences are subjective and you don't want to be perpetually second guessing yourself. I'm afraid that the reason why you want 'sign posts' is because you have somehow lost the ability to simply trust yourself to just know, to simply feel and believe in the saying that 'when you know, you know'.  But there is wisdom in that saying although it does assume that you trust yourself enough.  You also need to trust that no matter how things end up, you will be fine, that you will survive; that no matter how painful things turn out, you will not be forever broken and that you can still feel whole and come out of it stronger and wiser.  As they say, Love is not for the fearful, but only for the brave.  It always is a risk, and one that is worth taking.

There's one last note I'd like to make.  If you noticed, I did not include the element of time on my list.  I was tempted to say that time is the only good predictor for someone's sincerity; that you should stay clear of whirlwind romances. But that would be hypocritical of me, wouldn't it?  I only had two romantic relationships, both extremely serious, and both developed very quickly.  Was I just lucky?  Maybe.  I don't know.  So you need to understand that though GENERALLY, time is a good predictor and that it is almost always wise to wait and take it slow, I also won't deny the possibility of exceptions.  

I hope I made sense to you, Rarity, as well as to anyone out there who might have found this useful.  Thanks again for the opportunity and if you guys think I did not entirely suck, please feel free to send in other interesting questions that you might want me to mull over!  Here's a link to my 'Contact Me' form if you want to send something over privately.  

If anyone else wants to add any other advice for Rarity, please feel free to comment below!