Archive for November, 2010

If you have been following my blog, I am telling a story about myself and my marriage to my husband, the father of  my son J.O.  If you want to start from the beginning please read my post called Another story begins . . . ,  Hard times: a need to relocate . . .  and There are good people in the world . . . or to learn a little bit more about my son, read:   And then it begins .

We lived in Dallas during the 80’s. There was a lot going on in Dallas at this time. It was a booming city. These were the years of J. R. on the show called Dallas. Mary Kay lived in a pink mansion. Ross Perot was beginning to make noise. Billy Bobs was a famous bar in Fort Worth. Two women from Dallas started a children’s PBS show called Barney. And the Dallas Cowboys won the super bowl.

One of the other big events happening in Texas and elsewhere in the country was the failed Saving and Loans institutions (S&L). Just before this occurred I got a job at a saving and loan bank, which was owned by a commercial real estate company. My job was to create delinquency reports for the mortgage loan department.

Keep in mind I was a country girl who happened to go to college and ended up in Dallas, which was a big city for me. I think at that time the population of Dallas was about 1 million people.

Within a month, after being hired, the bank was having their Christmas party. A formal Christmas party. The party was in a huge ballroom of a hotel. Free food. Free drinks. Music.  And surprising entertainment. The opening act was Diane Carol singing.  She was known for her role in a sitcom called Julia.  This party was becoming very impressive. Then the main entertainment started, which was a comedy act starring Bob Hope. Yes, the real Bob Hope. I was a little shocked and thought, what have I got myself into.

Now as you have probably already guessed this S&L bank was one that was took over by the federal government. The feds came in their black sedans, with their black suits, and gathered everyone in a big room declaring the company insolvent. But then they announced that a new bank had been created and two other S&L’s were merged together.  We were no longer a  S&L.  Instead, we were a federal savings bank.

The real estate company, that owned the S&L, was owned by two men and they were charged with 10 counts of bank fraud.  Both men were 36 years old and I heard they were going to be prison for 20 and 30 years, which was the longest conviction of the S&L crisis.  Later I heard that one of the men tried to leave the country.  He did an OJ Simpson and attempted escaping authorities on a Los Angeles freeway. The authorities caught him, and his prison time went from thirty years to sixty years.

Lucky for me I still had a job. Shortly after the federal take over of the S&L, new management came in. Prior to all this happening I was working on a special technology project for the vice president of the lending division. So when the management came I reported to the new VP, who was also the chairman of the Cotton Bowl.

I stayed with this bank for ten years. My boss was pretty good with me.  He let me choose what projects I wanted to participate in. I did all his budget reports and created a department doing analytics for CRA (Community Reinvestment Act). The purpose of the department was creating analytics to ensure that we fairly made loans to all of the locations where we had deposit customers. This VP taught me that loyalty is everything.  Every one that worked for him was very loyal to him.  He also showed me that it was a good old boys world, especially in Texas.

Near the end of my ten years I went on a business trip to Austen, Texas. On the day we were returning, we stopped at the hotel to get our luggage. I was getting out of the back of the van, stepping onto a cobble stone road when I twisted my leg and fell. I don’t really know how I did it, but I was on the ground in excruciating pain. It hurt so bad I wouldn’t let anyone touch me. Once the waves of pain reduced I got up with the help of one of my co-workers, and I tried to step on my foot. Something was seriously wrong. I could not walk on that leg.

My co-workers got everyone in the van and took me to the nearest emergency room. To this day I don’t know what the name of the hospital was. The emergency room took x-rays, and yes my ankle was broken and I needed surgery. Unbelievable.

They did the surgery and put a plate and screws in my ankle. I stayed in the hospital for three days. They put a temporary cast with an open front because they were concerned about swelling. I would get my permanent cast in one week.  So I had to fly home to Dallas with a broken leg. As a result of this, I was off from work for about four weeks.

All this time while I was off, I did not get one phone call from my boss. I can not tell you how angry that made me. I could guarantee that if it had been one of his “good old boys” who had broken their leg he would have called them and probably would have visited them. So I stewed about it for four weeks. I went back to work in a wheel chair. The very first day I rolled into his office and told him I was resigning from my job.

My husband and I were tired of Dallas, and tired of Texas in general.  When we first moved there I was surprised they still referred to northerners as “damn Yankees.”  By the time we left, I was pretty proud of being a damn Yankee.  The people were arrogant.  The state was hot and went through two seasons.  There was a brief spring with blue bell flowers and then eleven months of brown and gray.  I missed my home state.  I missed the winter.  In winter if you are cold you can always put on more clothes.  But in Texas when it was hot you could only take off so much and then you were still hot.

Well my boss was shocked that I was resigning.  He asked me where was I going, and I told him I was moving back to the north, probably Chicago.  He said I should hold off until I was back on my feet, and in the meantime he would reach out to some companies that he had connections with and see if he could refer me for a job.  Wow.  That was nice.  In the end, he arranged an interview with a mortgage company in a suburb of Chicago, which ended up with a job offer. 

At the same time a friend of mine was working for a consulting company and the owner hooked me up with an interview in a bank in Chicago.  In the end, I had offers from both companies.  I ended up taking the bank technology job.  Finally my cast came off and I was ready to move.  My VP threw a going away party and gave me a gift of $1,500.  That was pretty remarkable.  I resigned, and the bank gave me a good-bye bonus. Sweet.

So off we went.  Good bye Dallas.  Hello Chicago.

Continued from:   https://snowflakesofwinter.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/how-do-i-rank-in-getting-my-life-in-order/

This is an evaluation how well I rank with the list on a post called  50 Ways to Get Your Life in Order written by Mark Foo in his blog called Litemind: Exploring ways to use our minds efficiently.  See my comments below:

PART 2:  (11-20)

11.  Take a career test that will help you identify your strengths. If you are unhappy with your career but don’t even know where to begin in the process of moving on, this can be a good way to identify strengths and new possibilities. 

I have been working for over 36 years.  I don’t think it is time for a career change.  I am too old and couldn’t change careers if I wanted to, especially without losing some earnings.  Plus after 36 years and having a successful career, you already know what your strengths and weaknesses are.  How do you think I survived this long?

12.  Meet with a professional counselor if there are issues you need to discuss. Many people are struggling with dead weight from the past or emotional baggage that is holding them back. Deal with them and move on with professional assistance. 

I must say this is the funniest thing I have seen in this list so far.  In my life I have seen at least 9 “professional counselors.”  Believe me, I don’t need a counselor to help me identify the “dead weight from the past.”  It is very clear to me.  The hard part is  dealing with it and moving on.  I have yet met a counselor who can tell me how to do this.  Typically the session goes like this…. I say, “It was a horrible thing and I wish I could just let it go.”  The counselor says, “So how do you think you could do this?”  You have got to be kidding.  Why am I paying a counselor to ask me to come up with my own solutions.  I really don’t need a middle man. 

13.  Work out a clear exercise plan with an activity that you enjoy such as dancing or biking. My girlfriend loves yoga, and I am a soccer enthusiast. As long as it’s active, it counts. 

Wow this one has me rolling on the floor.  Oh, I wonder if that counts as “active.”  Once again there is this planning thing.  I can plan until the cows come home.  It is putting it into action is the hard thing.

I have actually implemented this suggestion.  Over the summer I started a walking program and it has been a great experience.  I can’t believe I am going to say this but I have more energy when I get some exercise.

Now there is snow on the ground and I am not sure if I can continue the program.  I need to transition to indoor waking, either on my treadmill or walking at my job.  I work in a six floor building which is actually three buildings chained together.  We will see how this goes.  It is not the same as walking outside with our dog. 

14.  Set appointments you’ve been putting off. It’s easy to put off going to the doctor or dentist until we are sick, but preventive care is extremely important in overall health levels. 

Preventive care takes money!  If I could afford it and had the time, don’t you think I would be doing this?  Plus I am not sure this is all what it is cracked up to be.  I think this is another plot by the health industry.  Annual physical.  Dentist every 6 months.  Pap test every year.  Eye exam every year.  Breast exam every year.  Colonoscopy, you have got to be kidding.  Sounds to me like an industry with a guaranteed revenue. 

I don’t think if you had all of the money and time in the world that these appointments and exams would guarantee you a life with no health issues.  Sometimes you need to use some common sense about this.  I know there are a lot of people right now with pink ribbons in their hands that are gasping in outrage. I am not stupid.  If there is breast cancer in your family, it probably is a good idea to get a mammogram.  This is probably true for any disease that has heredity type characteristics.

Earlier this year during a physical, my doctor was caught off guard when I refused to take the “routine” tests he wanted to conduct.  As he kept reciting the lists of tests he wanted to do, I kept saying no, no, no.  Finally he asked me why I was so reluctant to do these tests.  I looked at him and said.  “Do you really want to know ? [dramatic pause]  The medical industry has not done a very good job with my family, and you are tied to this industry.  I am not sure if I like you so much.”  Rude?  Stubborn?  Probably.  But it is what it is.  And he got the message loud and clear.

15.  Go through cabinets and throw out expired medications or food items. The last time I did this, I found everything from 3-year-old curry powder to 5-year-old aspirin. Throw them out.

Now this is when that assistant would come in handy, but I am afraid if I threw out everything that was “expired,” I wouldn’t have anything left in the cupboard or the medicine cabinet.  Don’t you know that expiration dates are a plot to make you buy more product?  The manufacturer is counting on you not using up the whole product, and the best way to make you buy more is to slap an expiration date on it.  Kidding.  Or am I?  I love conspiracy theories.

16.  Make a clear diet plan with an emphasis on whole grains, fruits and vegetables. A healthy diet plan has a tremendous effect on your overall energy levels. 

This is trickier than it sounds.  I can make a clear diet plan full  of grains, fruits and vegetable.  I think most people can tell you what is good for you to eat and what is not good for you to eat.  The hard part is transforming the “plan” into reality.  That is really what I need advice on.

I will admit, along with added exercise, I started a diet program.  I had a wake up call this summer when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  I shifted my diet toward healthier choices.  So far I have lost 30 pounds.

17.  Add vitamin pills to your daily diet. Vitamin supplements can help reduce the possibility of cancer and osteoporosis, among other disorders. 

If I am not currently eating right, do you really think I am going to take vitamin supplements?  Not.

18.  Take up a mental exercise. Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or other word games along these lines are more than just a good way to pass time. They have been shown in studies to help improve overall mental capabilities. 

Another waste of time.  I have a family that has needs.  I have a full-time job.  I have a child who needs to be taken care of and needs to be educated.  I sure as hell am not going to use my precious free time moments doing Sudoku. 

Any way, my job keeps me keen.  Employers these days want more from their employees.  We have to daily think creatively how to get the job done in a shorter time frame and with less money.  If not, you are out of a job.  Someone in Bangalore will be doing it instead.  I think that is enough mental exercise for me.

19.  Publish your own book. This is easier than ever before with Internet publishing. You can get your ideas out there and start making money from them. I’ve published my own eBook, The 77 Traits of Highly Successful People, check it out. 

Here comes that spare time issue again.  Believe it or not, since I was a young girl I wanted to be an author.  That is why I went to college and studied literature.  But there came a day when I woke up and faced reality.  I needed a job that provided me with money, and that was more important than doing what I wanted to do. Yes I sold my soul to the big rat race of life. 

But, who knows, it may happen yet.  I think this is one item I will consider as good advice.  Four thumbs up for me.

20.  Make a reading list and join a book club. Most people state that they want to read more, but without an actual plan you may not make the time to do this. Joining a book club not only serves as a social activity but also keeps you up to date with your own reading list. 

Here is another one that takes up time that I really don’t have.  Take a look at my comments on item 18 and 19.  The same is true here.  I used to love to read.  I used to own hundreds of books.  Used to.  Then motherhood came and other things became a priority.  This is one more thing I would like to do.  I really don’t know what my problem is with reading.  Last year I even bought a Kindle.  I have downloaded many books that I want to read.  I have had the best intention, but I don’t think I have read four books since I bought it.  I may try to work on this.

To be continued . . .

Note to Mark Foo:  “I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it.” Frank A. Clark

 

 

Dear Friends

 As we send best wishes to each of you and your families for a very Happy Thanksgiving, we are especially thankful to report that it has been another exciting year at the Epilepsy Therapy Project — and 2010 is not over yet! Again this fall we received a record number of grant applications. The quality and number of applications are exciting and perhaps even more so is the great diversity of technologies and approaches reflected; these include traditional drugs and biologics, a range of drug delivery approaches, wearable seizure and physiological monitors, and a range of other device and imaging advances. We would love to encourage each of these project teams though with our current resources, we can only support a handful. We are working around the clock to finish the year with another outstanding fourth quarter and increase the resources we can bring to bear in accelerating the best of these creative new therapy initiatives. As you may know, for ETP this is not a theoretical exercise, but a very personal commitment. Our daughters and sons, other loved ones, or we ourselves live daily with the challenges of epilepsy – as do so many of you.

ETP’s mission is to make new treatments a reality for the 50 million people throughout the world living with epilepsy and seizures. In the U.S., one million of the 3 million people living with epilepsy suffer persistent seizures despite all available therapies. You or a loved one may be one of the 3 million, or among the one in three with uncontrolled seizures. Many others tolerate serious side effects, including fatigue and diminished cognitive function, as the price of seizure control. One out of every ten among us will have a seizure and 3% will have multiple unprovoked seizures (epilepsy) over their lifetime. SUDEP or Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy is a startling and too little discussed reality for those with epilepsy that presents as much as a 9% risk of death in high risk groups over the course of each decade. Epilepsy remains a devastating and unsolved puzzle for far too many people and families.

Notwithstanding ETP’s efforts, funding today for new therapies remains systemically, structurally and unacceptably limited. Insufficient government, philanthropic and commercial resources are available. The financial challenges facing academic and industry labs and enterprises create a barrier that impedes the progress of promising research ideas. ETP grants, investments and programs are designed to accelerate the most important new research through critical junctures in a leveraged manner working with partners. We seek to achieve the greatest possible impact with every dollar invested. And in today’s financial environment, ETP’s role has never been more important.

At ETP, our work to accelerate new therapies into treatments is having an impact. We are heartened that progress is underway. Yet despite this, too many continue to have seizures, too many more experience unacceptable side-effects and too many are lost each year to SUDEP and other epilepsy related causes of death. Only work to accelerate the development of more effective and safer treatments can make time a friend and not an enemy of the patients and families living with epilepsy and seizures. Please join us. The first $150,000 raised between now and December 31 will be matched dollar for dollar by 3 anonymous Angel donors. Your help means a great deal to a great many.

Warm regards and best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.

Warren

About the Epilepsy Therapy Project

Epilepsy Therapy Project, sponsor of epilepsy.com, is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization founded by parents and doctors caring for children with uncontrolled seizures by supporting the development of new therapies that offer freedom from seizures and side effects. Read more about the Epilepsy Therapy Project and how your donations can help support our mission to accelerate ideas into therapies for people living with epilepsy and seizures.

If you have been following my blog, I am telling a story about myself and my marriage to my husband, the father of  my son J.O.  If you want to start from the beginning please read my post called Another story begins . . . and  Hard times: a need to relocate . . .  or to learn a little bit more about my son, read:   And then it begins . .

The drive to Texas was miserable. It was hot, it was long, and my car did not have air conditioning. Driving straight through, took little over 18 hours to get to Dallas. Over the next ten years my husband and I made that trip twice a year, once in the summer and once at Christmas time.  Luckily, we had cars with air conditioning.  Unfortunately, the trip was still long. 

As soon as we got to Dallas we started searching for jobs. At first I got a job with a temp agency. Having typing skills was a big advantage in those days. I was still a little apprehensive about putting my masters degree on a job application. In fact I didn’t want to admit I had a bachelor’s degree.  I guess I had a little shell shock from trying to get a job in my home state.

Soon I got a permanent job at a stock brokerage company. I was an administrative assistant to a group of stock brokers. One of my most important duties each day was to heat up a can of clam chowder soup precisely at 10:30 for the most prominent broker of the office.

I had been working there for a week and I had no money to buy gas so I could get to work. It would be another week before I would get a pay check. We had moved to Texas with only $300 to our name and it was all gone. I was really desperate. So I called the Salvation Army and told my story to a man. He asked me to meet him at an area near where I was staying. He gave me $25 of his personal money so I could get to work. I was so happy and surprised. He proved there were really good people in the world.

Eventually, the brokerage trained me to run the telex for buying and selling stocks.  This task was so stressful, especially on busy market days.  The telex was a texting device without a visual screen.  Along with the telex was a printer which would print the confirmed stock transaction, or inform you of an error on the order by ringing a bell along with the printed error message.  So when there was dramatic shifts in the market, my desk, which was like a fishbowl, was surrounded by the brokers.  They would stand there and chant “go, go, go.”  I typed as fast as I could and I would pray I wouldn’t hear a bell, which indicated an error was made in one of the transactions.  I think everyone prayed.  There was no stopping to fix an error.  I had to just keep typing one transaction after another.  Oddly enough, when I did make an error, the brokers took it pretty well.  I guess the risk of my typing skills was considered as part of the equation of the buying and selling process.

 As I said, we had a friend we stayed with when we first got to Dallas.  Well that didn’t last very long.  So we slept in the car for about two weeks until we had enough money to get a studio apartment.

We stayed at our first apartment for about six months.  When we moved all we had was our clothes, some kitchen stuff, toiletries, and a mattress.  The only reason I had a mattress is one of the brokers arranged for me to get $300 of credit from Joskes Department Store, which was enough to get a mattress.  Once again, I was fortunate to meet a good person.

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month.

In 2002 I found our 3 ½ year old son having a convulsion and not breathing. Then we were off to the Emergency Room. This is how our struggle with Epilepsy began. And since then we have seen many neurologists, endured numerous neurological tests, been on multiple types of seizure medications, had surgery to implant the Vagal Nerve Stimulator device to prevent or reduce the intensity of his seizures.  And now my son still has seizures and is facing serious issues at school as a result of the seizures and the learning disabilities that go along with the disease. 

Unfortunately this is a common scenario for many parents. Epilepsy has little warning. Suddenly a perfectly healthy child is stricken with seizures.  My wish is for a national effort to spread understanding and support for those with this heartbreaking disease and their families.  Before you presume that Epilepsy has not touched your life please consider this:

  • As many as 1 in 100 people have a form of Epilepsy
  • Epilepsy is a neurological disorder
  • Epilepsy effects all ages, races, and countries equally
  • Epilepsy can be caused by strokes, brain trauma, brain tumors or scarring, and infections like meningitis or encephalitis.
  • But more often there will be no clear cause or reason for the patient to be afflicted.

Most people are afraid to talk about their disease due to the stigma of epilepsy.  When most think of a seizure they picture a “Grand Mal” type event. The terminology grand mal is not even used any more.  Often a person with Epilepsy will suffer from other types of seizures. They can range from brief absence seizues which are moments of “blanking out.” Or they could have drop seizures that cause a person to fall violently to the ground. Or they could have myoclonic seizures which are quick muscle jerks.

In most cases epilepsy can be controlled with appropriate medications. When medications fail some will have to resort to surgery. Specially designed diets have also been successful in treating difficult cases.

 Despite how advanced the world has become the stigma of epilepsy still exists. People still have old world ideas about epilepsy. It is my hope that when you think of epilepsy you can imagine the person, not the disease. Let’s change the face of epilepsy.  My son is a  child who struggles every day to overcome a disease that can rob him of his basic ability to learn and thrive. 

Please visit http://epilepsyfoundation.org/ for more information and provide support.