Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tell Me YOUR story!

I had an interesting experience yesterday... a job interview gone frightfully wrong.
Once I see how things turn out I'll share more of the details here.

But for now, just to get a bit of perspective, I am inviting any and all to share their stories of job interviews - no matter which side of the table you were on. What weird things have happened to you when you were either interviewing someone else or being interviewed yourself?

Come on gang, bring on your tales!

Saturday, April 04, 2009


I grew up with brothers and I raised sons. I now live with just my male mate. I've often said I've seldom been in a house with the toilet seat down.

Maybe because most of my socialization has been with males, many of my close friends over the years have been guys. I like the linear way guys tend to think and communicate. I celebrate the quality males I have been privileged to know throughout my life. There are quite a few special men in my life right now that I truly cherish. I can talk on the phone to my younger son, Aaron, for hours at a time. I often engage in facebook chats with a colleague of mine who shares wisdom and humor that I really appreciate. I've written before about how much I adore my husband, and then there's all the rest from blogger pals (Hey Kelly!) to my brothers to faith leaders... I could sing their praises and beyond.

HOWEVER...there is just something structurally different about the way women relate to one another in friendship than even the best of friendships that I enjoy with men.

In honor of all the women in my life (you know who you are!) I share the following article and a challenge....let's NOT put our bonds on the back burner. Granted life gets busy and demanding. But we need to acknowledge the magic and healing we bring to each others lives. So shout out to all of you, my dear women friends. Thank you for the blessing you are in my life!


UCLA Study On Friendship Among Women
An alternative to fight or flight ©2002 Gale Berkowitz

A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. By the way, they may do even more. Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis.

A landmark UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. It's a stunning find that has turned five decades of stress research—most of it on men—upside down. Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible, explains Laura Cousin Klein, Ph.D., now an Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University and one of the study's authors. It's an ancient survival mechanism left over from the time we were chased across the planet by saber-toothed tigers. Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just fight or flight; In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is release as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect.

This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone—which men produce in high levels when they're under stress—seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it. The discovery that women respond to stress differently than men was made in a classic "aha" moment shared by two women scientists who were talking one day in a lab at UCLA. There was this joke that when the women who worked in the lab were stressed, they came in, cleaned the lab, had coffee, and bonded, says Dr. Klein. When the men were stressed, they holed up somewhere on their own. I commented one day to fellow researcher Shelley Taylor that nearly 90% of the stress research is on males. I showed her the data from my lab, and the two of us knew instantly that we were onto something. The women cleared their schedules and started meeting with one scientist after another from various research specialties. Very quickly, Drs. Klein and Taylor discovered that by not including women in stress research, scientists had made a huge mistake: The fact that women respond to stress differently than men has significant implications for our health.

It may take some time for new studies to reveal all the ways that oxytocin encourages us to care for children and hang out with other women, but the "tend and befriend" notion developed by Drs. Klein and Taylor may explain why women consistently outlive men. Study after study has found that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. There's no doubt, says Dr. Klein, that friends are helping us live longer. In one study, for example, researchers found that people who had no friends increased their risk of death over a 6-month period.

In another study, those who had the most friends over a 9-year period cut their risk of death by more than 60%. Friends are also helping us live better. The famed Nurses' Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life. In fact, the results were so significant, the researchers concluded, that not having close friends or confidants was as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight. And that's not all. When the researchers looked at how well the women functioned after the death of their spouse, they found that even in the face of this biggest stressor of all, those women who had a close friend and confidante were more likely to survive the experience without any new physical impairments or permanent loss of vitality.

Those without friends were not always so fortunate. Yet if friends counter the stress that seems to swallow up so much of our life these days, if they keep us healthy and even add years to our life, why is it so hard to find time to be with them? That's a question that also troubles researcher Ruthellen Josselson, Ph.D., co-author of Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls' and Women's Friendships (Three Rivers Press, 1998). The following paragraph is, in my opinion, very, very true and something all women should be aware of and NOT put our female friends on the back burners. Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women, explains Dr. Josselson. We push them right to the back burner. That's really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have unpressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they're with other women. It's a very healing experience. _________________________________________________________________

Taylor, S. E., Klein, L.C., Lewis, B. P., Gruenewald, T. L., Gurung, R. A. R., & Updegraff, J. A. Female Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight"

Psychol Rev, 107(3):41-429. Geary DC, Flinn MV. Sex differences in behavioral and hormonal response to social threat: commentary on Taylor et al.
Psychol Rev 2002 Oct;109(4):745-50; discussion 751-3 Cousino Klein L, Corwin EJ. Seeing the unexpected: how sex differences in stress responses may provide a new perspective on the manifestation of psychiatric disorders.

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2002 Dec;4(6):441-8.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Bucket List - REVISED

I did this list a while ago when I first got it as an e-mail. Since then a few other versions have floated across my screen. I just got tagged again with an updated one on FaceBook with a lot more categories to respond to, so I figured I'd add the items I left on the first time around...

I'll BOLD the ones I've actually done and put occasional comments in italics.

Gone on a blind date.
(I've made many blind choices in my life...but done very little formal "dating" blind or otherwise.)

Donated Blood

Skipped school.
(way more than I should have....)

Watched someone die
I've been touched by death several times, but not been there at the exact moment.

Been to Canada I have GREAT memories of taking my boys to Niagara Falls when they were little and then there was a fishing trip to Thessalon once that was pretty fun.

Been to Mexico

Been to Florida I really enjoyed Ft. Lauderdale, had a blast at Key Largo but I DESPISE Orlando and would feel blessed never to return. I lived in Juno Beach (just north of West Palm) for a few months one winter...lessons learned there are a story for another day.

Been to Hawaii

Been to Africa

Been on a plane
I am always a bit surprised how many people have NOT been on a plane. I've done lots. My first experience was on a little prop plane at the fair grounds when I was a kid. The pilot took people up for a nickle per pound of their body weight and took a few spins around the town so you could look down and see your house, the school, the church and all those people you knew looking like ants. This was back before air travel had become common and felt like an exhilarating rush at the time. (Yep, I'm THAT old). Since then I've been on LOTS of commercial flights. My absolute favorite was the Lufthansa flight that took us to Frankfurt, Germany on our way to Cairo. Now THAT is an airline that knows how to treat passengers like valued guests!

Been on a helicopter

Been lost

Gone to Washington, DC

Hugged a homeless person
(Did that today, as a matter of fact. One of the women in the shelter my agency runs just got a job and is taking steps toward independence. I'm really proud of her!)

Swam in the oceanAtlantic, Pacific, and Red Sea

Swam with Stingrays
Thank you NO. I admit I get a little creeped out when wild fish or other swimmy critters come close in the ocean. I once got mugged by a school of something or another at Hanauma Bay in Hawaii. Totally weird.

Been sailing in the ocean
Well, not EXACTLY. I've been on a variety of water crafts, but not a sailboat.
One of the more interesting was a "water bus" we took from the main island of Fiji out to the remote out islands of the Yasawas. Quite an interesting ride.

Broken a bone

Been in a traffic accident.

Cried yourself to sleep

Been on TV

Stole traffic signs

Played cops and robbers
Well, not exactly. But as children following the Chicago convention in '68 my sibs and I played demonstrators and police. Those taking on the "police" role wore football helmets and carried improvised billy clubs. Those being the rioting demonstrators got to run around the yard carrying placards and chanting slogans until they were chased to the ground.......

Recently colored with crayons

Sang Karaoke

Volunteered at a soup kitchen

Paid for a meal with coins only

Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch

Seen the Northern Lights

Been Para sailing

Done something you told yourself you wouldn't
from consuming one more piece of pie than I should have to engaging in a relationship that led to a seven year marital nightmare.

Made prank phone calls

Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans
Yes, I was blessed to spend time in the town PRE-Katrina.

Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose & elsewhere.

Fed an elephant

Caught a snowflake on your tongue

Fired a gun

Danced in the rain

Been to the opera
I've seen lots of live stage plays and some excellent musicals, even the symphony but never the opera.

Written a letter to Santa Claus

Serenaded someone

Seen a US President in Person
Jimmy Carter came to my college and gave a fascinating presentation. Although I voted for him I was not the least bit impressed by his performance as commander in chief. Still, I've always respected him as a humanitarian and diplomat. He was a lousy president IMHO, but quite a remarkable human being.

Watched the sunrise with someone

Driven a race car

Been to a National Museum

Been to a Wax Museum

Eaten caviar

Been kissed under the mistletoe

Watched the sunrise with someone

Blown bubbles

Gone ice-skating

Been deep sea fishing

Driven across the United States

Been in a hot air balloon
My beloved and I had an appointment to go but flight got cancelled due to high winds. RATS! That's something I still want to do.

Gone skydiving
Why would I jump out of a perfectly good airplane?

Gone snowmobiling

Lived in more than one country

Layed down outside and admired the stars while listening to crickets

Caught fireflies in a jar

Seen a falling star and made a wish

Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser

Seen the Grand Canyon

Seen the Statue of Liberty

Gone to the top of the Seattle Space Needle
Nice view, but highly over-rated and not really worth the price IMHO

Been on a cruise

Travelled by train

Travelled by motorcycle

Been horseback riding

Ridden on a San Francisco Cable Car

Been to Disneyland AND Disney world

Truly believed in the power of prayer

Been in a Rain Forest

Seen whales in the ocean

Been to Niagara Falls

Ridden on an elephant

Been to the Olympics

Walked on the Great Wall of China
Someday, I hope.

Saw and heard a glacier calf
Nope, only saw the papa glaciers.

Been spinnaker flying
I don't have any idea what a spinnaker is

Been water skiing

Been snow skiing
Cross Country only

Been to Westminster Abby

Been to the Louvre

Swam in the Mediterranean
One of the few oceans I've missed

Been to a major league baseball game

Been to a National Football league game

Swam with sharks
Good gracious NO!

Been white water rafting

Written a book or a screenplay

Been skinny dipping outdoors

Gone to the movies
Yep. Plenty of times.

Have a nickname

Body piercings
Only if ears count

Other Questions:

1. Favorite drink? hot chocolate or Good Earth tea.

2. How much do you love your job? This week, things are going well. Some days, not so much.

3. Birthplace? Flagstaff, AZ

4. Favorite vacation spot? Can't pick just one...have had some great trips!

5. Ever eaten just cookies for dinner? Cereal yes, cookies, no.

6. Favorite pie? For EATING I prefer fruit pies, cherry or peach. For face splatting obviously the cream pies are best - something like coconut or Boston cream.

7. Favorite holiday? 4th of July

8. Favorite food? anything I don't have to cook.

9 Favorite smell? my husband just out of the shower, baking bread, ozone in the air mixed with grease wood and sage after a rainstorm in the desert

10. How do you relax? reading, writing, walking through wheat fields, hanging out with friends.

11. How do you see yourself in 10 years? I'll be 61, my husband will be 73. Depending on health and economics...hopefully living life with passion.

So that's my answers. How about you?

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