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The marriage box

We are celebrating 24 years of married life this month. And like all married couples we sometimes get on each other’s nerves. There are days when if I said it’s sunny out, he would swear it is cloudy. And if he says something is white, I make it my life mission to say it is black.

We are also empty nesters and know that these are supposed to be the best years of our lives winding down towards retirement. Finding our selves without the kids, we have been spending more time reflecting on our marriage.

I recently came upon this passage by an anonymous author – “most people get married believing a myth that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for: companionship, intimacy, friendship. The truth is that marriage at the start is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage. Love is in people and people put it into marriage. There is no romance in marriage; people have to infuse it into their marriage. A couple must learn the art and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising- keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty. ”

This gave us a framework for discussion. Marriage will essentially bring two people together. Love for the most part initiates this union except in arranged marriages. But in either case, every couple starts with an empty box and the life we build over time, is what we fill the box with.

So what is in our box?

We have filled our box with respect, trust, communication, friendship and compromise.

Marriage is not easy and being married for 24 years has certainly not been smooth sailing. There has been ups and downs but at the end of the day what makes it work for us is that we both want it to work.

We have always said divorce is not an option.

While we are not marriage experts, these are some of the things that we came up with that works for us.

⭕️We make time for each other but still give each other space to have different interests.

⭕️We make each other and our family a priority.

⭕️ We compromise often and are not in competition with each other.

⭕️ We support each other’s hopes and dreams

⭕️ We are not afraid to say ‘I am sorry’

⭕️ We listen and accept critique knowing it comes from a place of love.

⭕️ We talk to each other not at each other.

⭕️ At the end of the day we are each other’s best friend.

⭕️ He alone knows all my secrets and where the bodies are buried and vice versa.

Marriage is most definitely not for the faint of heart. If anyone ever told you it was easy, they lie. Being able to live with another human that was not raised in the same household as you takes a lot of work and effort on both sides. And I would go on record to say that a lot of divorces can be prevented only if people were willing to put in that work.

As we reflected, we concluded that we have veered off course for a minute. We have recently made work and outside activities and social engagements a priority over us.

Does this mean we need to stop working, socializing and not have outside interests?

Well, no, it does not. It just means that we need to shift our priorities a little bit.

Our date nights need to be set in stone and not cancelled for work or anything else unless we absolutely have to.

We need to not take romance for granted. As people get older, romance can often stall or become stale. It requires constant work and fanning. We will re dedicate to texting or talking to each other during our work day to check in. We also find that getting back into the habit of giving your partner a random compliment and sending occasional sexy text messages or leaving notes is very important.

And at the end of the day, it is important to sit or lay down side by side with your partner and recap your respective days.

Marriage is hard work. We know this and are both willing to put in the work as we know the rewards are so worth it!

I think it is important for married couples to reflect together from time to time on where they are in their marriage. What is working or not working? And how and what can you improve? You should always make sure you are not taking more out of your box than you are putting in.

Please comment below and share what’s in your box.

As always, thanks for reading.

J

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Are we all hoarders?

I really believe that to some extent we are all hoarders. I would never have even put myself in that category one month ago, were it not for recent events.

So background: I am a prototypical type A personality. I am a self diagnosed obsessive compulsive and neat freak. I am the oldest child, which means that I grew up with the job of herding six younger siblings and organizing our household when my parents were working which was often.

Subsequently, I am never quite settled if things are not in order. Everything has a place in my house. I go through the house often and throw away things regularly.

Recently, my siblings and I started the arduous task of trying to downsize my parents from the large home where we grew up to something smaller since there are no longer kids at home and they are now retired. This has been quite the work so far because we discovered my father is a hoarder. We have all known this for some time but did not know to what extent until we started trying to ‘clean up’/declutter and get the house ready for sale. Needless to say, we would submit him to be featured on the television show, ‘Hoarders’, if we wouldn’t die from the embarrassment of it.

By coincidence, I decided to embark on a challenge for the new year of giving up shopping for 3 months. In those 3 months, I would shop in my closet. I was also instead of giving up something during lent, I was going to take out one thing a day during the 40 days from my closet to donate.

What I have learned doing this challenge is that I have way more than I thought I did. And I can ‘shop’ in my closet for another 3 months if I wanted to. I found clothes and shoes that I had even forgotten that I owned or for that matter bought. I found clothes with tags still on them. I have so much that I have started putting off season clothes and shoes in another closet downstairs. Even with doing this I still have not much room in my closet.

With this realization and going through my parents house I started to worry and wonder whether I too had the same hoarding problem.

I looked up the dictionary definition of hoarding and it is defined as -to accumulate or store something for future use. Is this not what I have been doing with the clothes and shoes that I buy?

My psychiatrist husband then tells me that hoarding has been classified as a psychiatric disorder, so now I am definitely worried and felt compelled to do some research to look it up.

From psychiatry.org:

‘People with hoarding disorder excessively save items that others may view as worthless. They have persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions, leading to clutter that disrupts their ability to use their living or work spaces.

Hoarding is not the same as collecting. Collectors look for specific items, such as model cars or stamps, and may organize or display them. People with hoarding disorder often save random items and store them haphazardly. In most cases, they save items that they feel they may need in the future, are valuable or have sentimental value. Some may also feel safer surrounded by the things they save’

From Mayo Clinic:

‘Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs. Hoarding often creates such cramped living conditions that homes may be filled to capacity, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. Countertops, sinks, stoves, desks, stairways and virtually all other surfaces are usually piled with stuff. And when there’s no more room inside, the clutter may spread to the garage, vehicles, yard and other storage facilities’

Wow! This is serious.

I then watched an episode of the show ‘Hoarders’ and was done.

As I examine myself and my habits, I admit I buy (collect) a lot of clothes and shoes. But they are valuable even if I don’t wear them all. They are arranged neatly in my closet. I have no problems nor am I distressed over giving them away and I am most definitely not to the point where I need to clear pathways to get around my closet or home.

Many of us have items in our home that we are ‘saving’ for some day. You may have old furniture in the basement that you have not been able to part with. Or old clothes because you just know that bell bottoms will come back someday. Or an old treadmill or bikes that you have not used in years. What about all those books that should have been donated to the library? Or like me you have more shoes and clothes than you need. When does this become a problem?

Well according to my research, that happens when it becomes unsafe. When the your space becomes unsanitary to the point where there are infestations of mice, rats, cockroach and the like that can lead to health issues. To the point where it becomes a fire hazard. It is considered a problem when most of the things being saved are judged to be junk by most people and has no value. When it leads to inability to use certain parts of the home or furniture in the home because it is covered with stuff. And finally when it causes arguments with family members.

This, like all illness is very serious and I’m so happy to say I most definitely do not fit any of this category and therefore I’m not a hoarder. So I retract my earlier statement that we are all hoarders.

Is it possible then that I and many of you out there hoard but are not hoarders.

If you hoard like me, what do you hoard?

Do you know any hoarders?

If so please refer them to a psychiatrist – it is an illness.

Please leave comments below.

As always thanks for reading.

J

Why does my breast hurt?

As a breast cancer doctor one of the most common problems that I see in the office, believe it or not, is not breast cancer but breast pain.

This can actually be the bane of any breast surgeon’s practice because a)pain is so subjective, b)the reasons for breast pain are multifactorial and c)we may not be able to figure it out or fix it.

Breast pain is usually a result of a surge in the female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) that stimulate the breast and cause discomfort.

For this reason we see it most often around a woman’s menstrual cycle but it can also occur independent of the menstrual cycle. Therefore, we classify breast pain as either cyclical (related to the monthly cycles and more common in younger women) or non cyclical (unrelated to the cycle and more common in older women).

The most common reasons for breast pain are:

1- Hormonal. Related to changes in hormone levels during menstruation, pregnancy, breast feeding, while on birth control pills, hormone replacement drugs or fertility drugs. Some antidepressant medicines can also cause breast pain.

2- Caffeine sensitivity. We don’t know why but for some reason excessive caffeine (from coffee, tea, sodas or chocolate) can be associated with breast pain in some women.

3- Cysts. These are benign fluid filled lumps that develops when fluid accumulates in the breast glands. It can cause pain and tenderness as it enlarged. Changes in the monthly hormone levels may contribute to them.

4- Musculoskeletal. The pain starts deep in the chest wall or pectoral muscle and can mimic breast pain. It can arise from a pulled muscle from exercise or certain strenuous activity.

5- Fatty acid imbalance. These are found in certain foods and oils and can increase breast pain in some women by making the breasts more sensitive to the hormones.

6- Breast structure. Larger breasted women and those that don’t wear good supportive bras can have more breast pain than typical

7- Breast trauma. This can be from actual trauma to the breast or scar tissue from previous breast surgery or radiation therapy to the breast

8- Breast infections. This is also a common cause of breast pain.

Rarely is breast pain related to breast cancer. But pain can occur as a breast cancer grows from the pressure on surrounding tissue.

Quick things you can do at home to manage the pain:

-Stop or decrease caffeine intake

-Stop or decrease birth control and hormones(under your doctors direction)

-Consider switching to a low fat diet

-Pain medications like Tylenol or Ibuprofen may be helpful

-Wear a good supportive bra or a sports bra

-Try warm or cold compresses as tolerated

If you have breast pain that lasts more than 2 weeks, or through 2 menstrual cycles, please make sure you see your doctor or a breast specialist. We would want to examine you, get a mammogram and/or ultrasound of your breasts and then make some recommendations.

NOTE:

All of the information provided here is for educational purposes only and not meant to be a substitute for seeking care from your doctor.

I am happy to answer your questions

As always, Thanks for reading

J

 

Freedom to Live and let live

 

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Live and let live.

This is one of my favorite sayings. Not just because I am a big James Bond fan but rather because I am a big fan of every human being having the right to live their true god given life. I recently took my first trip ever to Ellis Island and the statue of liberty, despite driving past it for many years while living in New Jersey.

Seeing this great lady really got me to thinking about what this meant to all those people that came into this country many years ago in pursuit of freedom. Freedom from religious persecution, freedom from their rulers, and freedom to start all over again,

Now think about these words:

Hate,Prejudice, Racism, Homphobia, Sexism, Xenophobia, Privilege,Ethnocentricity, Nationalism, Tribalism, Religious belief, Classism, Level of  Education

These are all words that express reasons why a person would not be free to live their true lives. All of these words and many more not listed here, serve to separate and distinguish one person from the other. In the end, this will cause division and subsequently loss of personal freedoms. What gives any one individual the right to tell another how they should live or who they should be.

At the end of the day, we are all members of the human race. If I choose to worship a certain god, that should be my right. If I choose to love someone of the same sex that should be my right. This right is my freedom to be whom ever I want to be.

The fact that I am a certain ethnicity or have a certain level of education or come from a certain country should not make me any worse or any better than someone else.

If we all choose to live and let live, the world would be a better place.

The only caveat to this is if your choices are affecting someone else’s right to be. For instance, if you are racist and burn crosses in front of someone’s home you are not letting them be. If you are using derogatory slurs against a neighbor in a relationship with someone of the same sex then you are not letting them be. If you overlook a qualified person for a job because of their sex or color of their skin or their religion, then you are wrong. This is because at the end of the day, they are not doing anything that affects your ability to live your life in any way, or anything that affects any of your freedoms.

I have no problem with racists or sexists or homophobes, because they too have a right to their own opinions except when their actions can physically or emotionally harm others.

I do believe we all have some inherent prejudices or biases. It may not be the big ones, but maybe we’ve looked at someone with less money a little differently. Or thought a little less of someone of a certain religion. Or looked at a handicapped person without compassion or judged a homeless person.

I urge you all to take this opportunity to examine some of your practices and beliefs. You probably don’t think you have any prejudices, but you may be surprised. Remember if you have the freedom to be you, then so should everyone else

What are some of your prejudices or biases? How do you think you can go about changing it for the better.

As always, thanks for reading

J.

Bidding Adieu to a legend

The 3 day long celebration of my grandfathers long life started with the slaughtering of cows and goats. These were gifts given to the family from various family members, in-laws and well wishers.

In keeping with tradition the different parts of the cow is given to different family members and groups. These are all traditions important to the Igbo people of Imo state Nigeria. The first day was a wake-keeping with service of songs. During this time the family was inundated with visitors all day coming in to offer their condolences. The following day our family gathered early in my grandfathers compound. There was a pilgrimage of his children, grandchildren, and extended family to the mortuary to collect his body. His coffin was then ushered home from there by family and well wishers all wearing white T-shirts with the inscription ‘adieu papa’ and carrying enlarged photos of him.

We were in a mile long vehicle caravan with many village youth following on foot, accompanied by masquerades, singers and dancers and several military grade cannon shot salutes.

The first stop was to the council of Elders hall. There the Elders said some prayers and performed some traditional rituals over his body. We then continued on with his body to the family compound. Once home, before anyone could see him, he was dressed by his fellow Elders and they readied him for viewing. The immediate family is allowed to see him followed by extended family then the rest of the village. After the viewing, all of us including my 99 year old grandmother, escorted in her wheelchair, proceeded to the funeral mass which took place at his local parish Catholic church. At the end of mass, he was eulogized by my father, his first son. We returned to the compound after church, where my grandfathers body was laid to rest in the newly dug gravesite in front of his compound. As the oldest grandchild I was asked to be one of the few people to throw in a shovel of sand and I was asked to say some words and lay the wreath on the newly filled grave on behalf of all the grand children.

By now the street where the compound is located and the next street have been transformed by over 30 canopy tents and chairs. Each tent is occupied by a different group. There is a tent for the various in-laws from different villages, the age mates of my aunts and uncles, different organizations my grandfather belonged to, dignitaries, church groups, the youth of the village, the unmarried women of the village and so on. There were over 700 people gathered to eat, drink, dance and celebrate a long and very well lived life. The festivities concluded the next day with a thanksgiving/outing mass where our family attended church wearing white to symbolize a new beginning.

My grandfather was the best man I know. He was a man of God. A man of peace. A man that went by so many adjectives. Loving. Loyal. Peaceful. Religious. Jovial. Magnanimous. Infectious. Fantastic. Phenomenal. He equally studied the Bible and the Koran and knew both well.

He died at age 105- a centenarian. Although plagued by dementia in his last few years he was still very strong physically and continued to attend morning mass regularly until the end.

He was a man without enemies. He believed in the power of education and that anyone could be anything they wanted to be. He imparted this belief to his children and grandchildren. He wrote and spoke the queens English like an Oxford graduate and had the best penmanship that I have ever seen.

He had a full career as the Manager of a Nigerian based British company for many years in post colonial Nigeria and he continued to be a consultant for them for several years after retirement from the company.

He was conferred the ‘Oha’ of Owerri which loosely translates to a tribal leader/ruler of sorts of his people. In this role he was very involved with town goings on and very well respected by all in the community. This is evidenced by the turnout for his burial and the commentary given by those that attended.

He is survived by many.

A wife of over 80 years, 4 sons, 3 daughters (he just lost one daughter 3 months prior),

27 grand children, over 20 great grand children and one great great grand child. He had many nieces, nephews, grand nieces/nephews, cousins, 2nd and 3rd cousins

Whatever he was not able to achieve in life has been and will be accomplished by his offspring. Amongst whom are doctors (MD and PHD), lawyers, engineers, nurses, nurse practitioners, professors/lecturers/teachers, accountants, policemen, musicians, business owners/ entrepreneurs, pharmacists.

His offspring reside all over the United States, United Kingdom and Africa, where he too has travelled.

Of note is that during the entire 3 days, I did not see anyone cry. Not even my grandmother. I had some tears as the grave was being filled with sand as there was a finality about that to me. I think we were all sad in our own way but we all were unanimous in understanding that we were there to celebrate a long and well lived life. One worthy of emulation and want his soul to rest in forever peace looking over the incredible legacy he leaves behind.

As always, thanks for reading

J

Life hacks by me #2- cooking

I have a love-hate relationship with cooking. I really do love to cook, but what I resent is the amount of time I have to spend in the kitchen that I could spend with my family. Generally I am the one doing the cooking with no help from the peanut gallery so I’m usually so annoyed by the time I’m done that it becomes not enjoyable for me or them. These days since the kids are both away at school, I only put in hours in the kitchen for holiday meals, when we are entertaining guests or on special request. Over the years, I have figured out different ways to make quick healthy dinners and meals in little or no time avoiding those long lost hours in the kitchen that I now get to spend catching up with the hubby. My family is frequently astonished at how I can get home after a full work day and whip up a full dinner in 30 minutes or less.

These are my tips

1- do keep a well stocked pantry

Always have in your pantry or fridge different spices ( my faves are regular old iodized salt, onion and garlic powder, onion and garlic flakes, garlic butter, chopped garlic, seasoned salt, sea salt, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, lemon pepper, curry powder, jerk seasoning, adobo seasoning, bouillon or Maggi cubes, ginger, thyme, bay leaves, cumin, turmeric). You also need to have rice (medium or long grain, basmati, jasmine and brown), beans (I like Goya canned black eyed peas, black beans, red beans- because beans take a long time to cook). I try to stock different types of pasta, rice noodles, canned diced tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, soy sauce, sirrachia sauce, Asian fish paste, chicken broth, vegetable and olive oil. For baking on the fly you must have on hand flour, milk, condensed milk, eggs, bread, sugar, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, vanilla, baking powder/soda, yeast, corn starch.

2- do prep ahead.

I always have these items on hand in the freezer at any given time.

Pre chopped vegetables, cooked rice, sauces/stews, soups, grilled or rotisserie chicken and large bags of frozen peeled and deveined shrimp from SAMS/COSTCO. These are all things I can easily defrost and whip together in no time because when all else fails, stir fries are super easy, healthy and tasty.

3- do invest in these kitchen gadgets.

A rice cooker is a must if you like rice. Talk about set it and forget it. No more checking to see if the rice is cooked. That way you can run around and do other things while the rice is cooking.

An air fryer will change your life if you have committed to healthier eating. For me I hate to fry anything but enjoy the flavor. So this has been a great healthy alternative. Think fried chicken, French fries without the oil.

A spiralizer for healthy alternatives to carb heavy pastas. The veggie pastas are also sold frozen pre spiraled at some super markets or grocers like Whole Foods or Trader Joes (zucchini, squash, cauliflower)

The Instapot or crockpot is also a must although, I have to admit I’ve used mine maybe twice. But I know people who swear by this to make awesome quick meals ahead.

4- do stock up on pre made meals.

A lot of grocery stores have fresh cooked whole meals that are ready to go. I also like the pre packaged ones from trader Joes. These are easy on the fly and are delicious. You just need to be conscious of making healthy choices and supplement with quick easy steamed vegetables or salads.

5- do bulk cook

Every once in a while, when I am in the mood, usually on weekends I slave over the stove and make those meals that would normally take a long time. For me it’s the ethnic food. I make it in large quantities and put it in freezer friendly containers and leave it in my freezer. I have 2 large deep freezers in my basement full of such dishes. Then when we have the hankering for that particular type of meal I would defrost it and serve it like I had slaved all day in the kitchen.

6- do eat out.

I personally don’t think it is practical to cook 7 days a week unless you enjoy doing it and have time to do so. In that case it is okay. We eat out or get take out at least twice a week and one day a week everyone is on their own- thats when we do left overs for the most part. Be aware when ordering out that it’s not license to eat badly. You can still make good choices. A lot of restaurants today are on board with healthier alternatives as more people become vegetarian or vegan. So we have no excuses

  • 7- do meal subscribe
  • There are a couple of ways to do this. First you can subscribe to have meals delivered to you several times a week and all you do is heat it up. The second way is to have ingredients and cooking instructions delivered to you to make on your own. This is fine if you and your family want to try different recipes and meal ideas. They are generally easy to put together quick meals. We did not like either of these too much as I found the meal options limited. We ended up canceling because we never felt like preparing the meals they sent. But again I know many people that swear by this. And there are so many different companies out there now that you may find one that works for you- Blue apron, Hello fresh, Freshly to name a few.

    These are my cooking hacks for now. I’m sure I left out a few. Please feel free to add to

    this list and comment below.

    PS:

    Check expiration dates from time to time and discard and replace items as needed.

    As always thanks for reading.

    J

    Taking stock

    As 2018 comes to a close, it is a time to take stock of what you’ve accomplished and what you hope to accomplish in the new year.

    My year started with the celebration of a milestone birthday and ended with laying my 105 year old grandfather to rest. Both are celebrations of life of sorts. I turned 50 which is the midway of my life and he a centenarian.

    People call it an end of the year analysis or taking stock or making resolutions for the new year.

    So first off, taking stock of 2018, and reviewing what I have accomplished and what I am most proud of.

    -I got my son off to college and embarked on my new empty nest life with my husband

    -I gathered together different groups of women through the year to strengthen bonds of sister friends and family. This was done in the form of a monthly dinner club, trips and a few fun activities through the year

    – I listened to several audio books and read quite a few books this past year

    -I started a blog live-balancinglifewithjovita.com as a stepping stone to fulfill my love of writing

    -I started my @lifewithdrjovita Instagram account to help promote my message of healthy living and living your best life

    As far as my resolutions, that’s a little more challenging. To me a resolution implies making a promise. It is something that you have to do and I really hate putting so much pressure on myself.

    Instead, I like to call it goals, aspirations and intentions for the new year. I then do my best to see it through.

    So here it goes. My Goals for 2019 are:

    – I want to continue to blog. I have not been able to do it weekly as I wanted when I started, so I will do my best to stay on once to twice monthly schedule.

    -I want to read more. My goal is 20 books this year

    – I will attempt a goal of 20 days of exercise each month

    -I will continue to attempt to cut out more carbs, eat more plant based and continue a food diary

    -I will continue my instagram message of health and wellness. And continue to preach disease prevention

    -I want this year to do my best to connect with more extended family

    -I want to travel more – with hubby, with family, with girlfriends

    -I want to do more community outreach work

    -I want to definitely run another 1/2 marathon. Maybe a full marathon?

    That is all for now. Hopefully with it written down for all to see, you will all hold me to it.

    What do you hope to accomplish this year? Please, do comment below.

    And a very Happy new year to you all!

    And as always, thanks for reading.

    J

    Why do I Instagram?

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    Those who know me know that I am a very private person. I had to be dragged kicking and screaming plus a whole lot of peer pressure into the social media craze. I started tentatively with LinkedIn as this was professional, then ventured into Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Honestly I don’t even understand some of the popular social sites like Snapchat that my kids and their friends love. I have slowly stirred away from Facebook as I don’t appreciate some of its malignant potential. I find that there is lots of showoffiness (is that even a word?) , bullying and political grandstanding. Instagram I really like because you can post a photo with little or no words and it tells a story. It is so much easier for me to navigate and has become my go to social site.

    I initially started to Instagram just to share family photos and various activities and trips. Earlier this year after a lot of soul searching that can only happen after a milestone birthday, I decided to shift the focus slightly.

    As a cancer doctor, I see so many young women with young children diagnosed with breast cancer. Many survive and many still do not. I started to think of what else I can do for these women. Medically, I have done all I can. Their families and friends I know do so much else for them with home care and childcare.

    When you are faced with a potentially fatal illness all you can think about is ‘am I going to die?’ And the answer is yes we are all going to die. But you don’t want it to be at a young age before you’ve seen your kids graduate from school, get married, have grandkids etc. No one wants to die before they have actually had a chance to LIVE.

    So with that Live! Balancing life with Jovita was born. My instagram handle changed to @lifewithjovita. pexels-photo-276923

    The idea being that I want to live the life that some of my patients and many others suffering from debilitating or fatal illnesses cannot. So I Instagram my various activities and outings because I want to encourage well, able bodied, healthy women to go out there and LIVE.

    I want my platform to be living a healthy lifestyle and living your very best life. I hope to educate, inspire and motivate.

    Life is too short and you only live once is not a cliche. It is reality. I know this because I see it daily in practice. Live with no regrets. Travel when you can. Hug your children often. Have fun with your girlfriends. Make time for your spouse or significant other. Don’t get caught up in the minutia of life. Don’t judge others, they too are living their lives.

    As always thanks for reading and comment below.

    J

    Having it all

    Can a woman have it all?

    Do you know any woman that has it all?

    What does it even mean to have it all?

    Well let me break it down for you.

    You have it all when you are on top of the world. At the top in your job. You are perfection in all aspects of your life. You are the best mom ever. The best wife. The best friend who never forgets birthdays. You send home baked cookies to school instead of store bought. You never miss school meetings or the kids after school games and activities. You volunteer at school. Your marriage is perfect. You have time for date nights with your spouse. Your home is always clean and organized. You are very good at your job and well respected by your colleagues. You get constant promotions and accolades at work. And… you are home every night to make a home cooked meal for your family.

    Wow! This is a lot. I want to be this woman! Is this actually attainable? Do people like this exist?

    I honestly think that this is not attainable. And if attained, will never be sustainable.

    Hear me out.

    A woman who works full time, and is married and has children can have it all but it will not be 100% in all areas. Put another way, a woman can have it all but not all at the same time. It is not humanly possible to give it your all at work and then go home and do the same.

    I believe the only way to have it all is if you have help. Help in the form of spouses that pull their weight, nannies, drivers, house cleaners, landscapers, personal assistants. All the stuff that really wealthy people have. In that case then do you really have it all if you are getting help and not doing it yourself.

    In my opinion- heck yes!

    Having it all to me means that you are present for your children, your spouse, your friends and your job in a way that makes sure none of them feel they are neglected. For this to happen, you have to be okay with having help and you have to be okay with everything not being perfect all the time.

    What this means is that, you must learn to prioritize your obligations.

    So you can have your marriage be the priority. Or your children. Or friends or the job. But you can’t have it all be a priority all at the same time. You must give up the idea or ideal of perfection as this does not exist. And the stress of trying to do it all is not healthy.

    It is okay miss a work deadline from time to time or cancel a meeting, so that you can make it to the kids game or parent teacher conference. And likewise you can arrange for someone else to drive the kids to school or miss a dance or piano recital so you can be the lead lawyer in that big court case.

    Cooking every night? Not necessary. It is okay to order food in sometimes so that you spend that extra time you would have been cooking, doing homework with the kids or chatting with your spouse about your respective days.

    It is okay to miss one night of helping with homework so you can go to happy hour with girlfriends to celebrate a birthday.

    Having it all really requires that you have help. And rich people are not the only ones that can afford help. There are many low cost ways to get help. Instead of driving the kids to and from school yourself or getting a driver, why not car pool with other parents or put them on the school bus.

    You can’t afford a house cleaner or landscaper? Make it a family weekend activity and get the whole family to help. Teach your kids early on how to clean their rooms/spaces and how to do their laundry.

    Plan out the kids activities and social calendar a month in advance. Try to schedule work meetings around it. If you can’t be there, make sure your spouse is there. If there are grand parents, aunts, uncles, best friend they can also fill in for you. The idea is for the kids to look out at the stands and see a friendly face cheering for them.

    I may not be the ‘perfect’ woman described above, but I truly feel that I have it all. I have a career that I love, a good marriage, well adjusted children and great group of friends. I’m I perfect in all of it? Of course not. The goal is balancing my obligations (with help) in a way that none of them suffer.

    What are your thoughts? Do you think a woman can have it all?

    Please leave your comments below and as always thanks for reading.

    J

    Life hacks by me -travel

    As a working mom I am always looking for easier, less stressful, quicker ways to do things. We all know that time spent doing minutiae is time wasted that we will never get back. And that quality time with husband and kids is what life is all about, right? These are some of the things that have really helped me in those years that my kids were growing up. Some I still use now.

    MY TRAVEL HACKS

    Travel is important to me and my family. Whether it is local, out of state or out of the country, we have a need to pack up and go somewhere often. Preferably at least once a year out of the country.

    1-What I started doing some years ago to alleviate the stress of coming up with a big chunk of money when we decide where we are going, is saving all year long. We call it our vacation fund and put money into it monthly. By the end of a year, you have a tidy amount that goes to pay for vacation without breaking into your bank. I am by nature a saver and do this for most things- I also do a college and Christmas savings.

    2-We also get the kids involved in choosing our next travel location. This gets them involved so they don’t act like bratty ungrateful kids who are being dragged to vacation. They actually enjoy it as they get to do a little research ahead of time into currency, cuisine, customs, history, popular sites. When they were younger we made them write reports upon return.

    3-I have a suitcase just about always ready to go. A toiletry bag holds duplicates of all the makeup, lotions, perfumes, hair care items, that I use at home. So I don’t have to run around trying to put my bag together before we travel. There is always workout clothes and sneakers in my ready to travel bag. Same with underwear and pajamas. Once the basics are done, all you need to come up with is your day to day attire. If you have younger kids, do the same for them.

    4-An easy packing tip is BLACK. Black can be dressed down or up. Always pack a dress, jeans, a pair of heels. This way you are prepared if you have to go out to dinner or somewhere fancy

    5-If going someplace far and especially if connecting flights, you need these in your carryon. Your medicines. A toothbrush and toothpaste. Deodorant. Your contact lenses and or glasses. Hand sanitizer and wipes. A charger for your devices. Earphones. A universal electrical plug. A change of underwear. A change of clothes. A big scarf that doubles as a blanket. A neck pillow. Your laptop, iPad, kindle, reader, book, playing cards, magazine. Snacks. You never know when your flight will be delayed or your suitcase won’t make it.

    What about you? How do you keep efficient when traveling? Please do share your tricks or suggestions with me.

    And as always thanks for reading ,

    J.

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