Thursday, August 30, 2007

Making Cliches Meaningful Again

You remember: Your high school English teacher warned you against using cliches, and so you rewrote those papers carefully editing out those hackneyed phrases, lest she come at them with a red pen. Now, we're adults, and cliche-free, right? Sadly, no. Think about all the well-intentioned yet substance-free goals we adults set for ourselves, (and yes, many of these are from my own life-script): I want to be a better parent. I want to deal with racism. I want to find balance. I'm looking for a soul mate. I want to be healthier. I want to be less stressed out. I want to feel better about myself.

All good ideas, yes, but the problem is they're so over-used, they've lost their meaning. Yet, these cliches can be meaningful again if you follow my English teacher husband's advice: Specific is terrific. If, for example, your goal is to be healthier, how will you know that you are healthier than you are now? Is there a goal that can be measured, as in weighing 5 pounds less, or running a nine-minute mile? For some, outcome measurement is an important means of substantive goal-setting. For others, process is more important. In wanting to be healthier, one might join a softball team or sign up for a yoga class. The specifics giving the cliche meaning will depend on the person, but if they are helpful in moving one toward a life intention, all are terrific.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Beyond the Birth

For those in the Seattle area, Postpartum Support International of Washington's upcoming conference Beyond the Birth: Trends in Treating Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorders is worth checking out. (Full disclosure: I'm on the Board of PSI, but biased though I may be, I still think it will be a good conference). Shaila Misri, Rex Gentry, and a panel of PPMD survivors and partners will be speaking. The conference is Sept. 21 at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. To register, click here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Family-Leave and the Family Values Set

During summertime, I find it difficult to read anything beyond the headlines of Us Weekly and People magazines while waiting in line at the supermarket. An article by Eyal Press in the New York Times Sunday Magazine (July 29, 2007) not only held my limited attention, but left me outraged. The Family Medical Leave Act guarantees caregivers time off from work to care for family members in the event of a medical crisis. More and more, employers are passing over for promotions--or in some cases, firing--mothers or others who care for dependents based on the assumption that they will perform less adequately at their jobs than those without such family obligations. Mr. Press details the cases of several caregivers who were passed over for promotions, demoted, or fired because they took a family medical leave of absence. In one case, a man who was caring for his newborn daughter and wife who was undergoing a difficult recovery from delivery was told by his employer that unless his "wife is in a coma or dead, you can't be primary care provider." He sued, and won.

While I generally find the litiginous nature of our society to be detrimental to families (see my earlier post on divorce), I think workers must take a stand that there are times when a family member's care will require a leave of absence WITH the expectation that one will return to work at full capacity as soon as one can. I think it is also high time to disabuse employers of the notion that mothers are less dedicated workers than non-mothers. (Press notes that mothers are paid a starting salary $11,000 less than non-mothers.) As our society ages, more and more workers will require some leave to care for aging relatives. This issue, thus, affects all of us, parents and non-parents alike, for we all are children and grandchildren of people who are aging. Press also notes in his article that if employers are able to flex to help employees meet their familial and work obligations, they are rewarded with employee loyalty unmatched by other companies'. It shows how a little compassion can go a long way.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Baby's Got Brand-New T-Straps

All right, folks, look out because I'm about to indulge myself in a wholly unserious yet near-and-dear-to-my-heart topic of shoe shopping. Yes, I realize that this blog was started to address more serious topics of depression, anxiety, identity crises, parenting, and the like, but sometimes in life some situations cry out for a little retail therapy. Such as the situation I found myself in the other day when my darling daughter was walking around in sandals that fit her at the beginning on summer, but now her little toes are sticking out over the edge of her soles. (Good thing they're open-toed shoes, or I'd have nothing for her to wear). Fortunately, we were up in Ballard during side-walk sales where I discovered these adorable Umi t-straps on sale for $20 at Market Street Shoes. I was entertaining buying her a pair of See Kai Run shoes because a. they are super cute and well-made and b. the company was started by a local Seattle mom, but I couldn't resist buying these fantastically-priced t-straps from a great independent shoe store. So, here's to all the great independent, local, and mom-owned businesses out there who keep our feet well-appointed and our consciences clean.