As a person who has been on this earth for over a half-century, every new “methodology” or “way of thinking”, I have usually met with skepticism. Now maybe it’s because I am a born and bred New Yorker, but that’s me. Excuses for bad behavior never went over well with my family and there was a plethora of behavior that fell under the “bad” category.
That being said, everyone these days talks about “self-care”. As the COVID-19 pandemic began, we were told to stay home, “flatten the curve”, they said. I sewed our first masks together in March of 2020 and we wore them when suggested. Vaccines came out – how fast could we get an appointment? Vaccinated twice, boosted, wearing masks when in large settings, staying away from those who we know are unvaccinated.
Here’s where the self-care comes in. On the growing list of identified “pre-existing conditions” that made one more susceptible to infection with COVID-19, I seemed to be checking off more of them as we went through 2020:
Older? (Really? I didn’t think I was that old…) – Check
Obesity? (I like to think of it as “fluffiness”) – Check
Pre-diabetic? (Jury still out on this one – endocrinologist says “no”) – Possible check
As the yes went on and more and more issues made me nervous, High Blood Pressure? – Check
Blood Type A? – Check
Besides the fact that I have been a somewhat closeted Germaphobe since the age of 8 (thanks to my dad and an inundation of poinsettias at Christmas), this pandemic and the thought of catching some “could-be-deadly” virus had me beside myself. My wife’s business was completely impacted as the shutdown of the restaurant industry led to her (thankfully) being home for long periods of time but put a tremendous strain on an already strained business.
Oh yes, you might think that washing hands, using hand sanitizer, wiping everything that came in the house down with Lysol sprays and cleaners and staying home might have been the best steps in self-care one could have taken. Staying away from large gatherings of people, meeting friends and neighbors outside, cooking every meal at home, shopping with home delivery – all privileges we took as the various surges hit our area.
With older parents, being an only child, running my own business and commuting an hour both ways every day to that business, I didn’t have a lot of time, nor did I have the inclination to invest any time in “self-care”. Maybe an errant massage once or twice a year but no regular doctor’s visits, no meditation, no retreats, no journaling – just a lot of running around and appointments and expectations to be met. I am not telling you this to have you feel sorry for me – only to give context to what I will say next.
With this pandemic, I finally chose to worry about ME; to take care of ME; to keep ME (and my wife) somewhat safe; for ME to be a responsible member of the human race and keep others safe as well – this was my way of saying, “Enough! I want to make sure I’m still here to see another day”. But with events scheduled at the very beginnings of the Delta surge (which we didn’t attend – 150 people, mostly unvaccinated – one having to be postponed due to COVID infections; another “indoor-outdoor” with about 70), we became highly aware of the vigilance necessary around rising infection rates. Other events were outdoors; we even celebrated my wife’s 60th birthday in August when almost all numbers in New York were down – we did a small family gathering – 30 people and outdoors.
And yet, it has caused nothing but trouble with family and in a community that are (for the most part) diametrically opposed to science, the world community and the “Golden Rule”; dressing-downs referring to what we should do and how we should behave have been vocalized loud and clear; I have encountered push back from friends and family alike – those that I always considered close but now realize (or maybe just solidified the thinking that…) if I don’t play the game by their rules and compromise myself, I’m not going to be considered or respected or remembered.
Definite on the respected. And with every passing day, remembered less and less.
I know I missed things and if you knew me well, you know, I live with the regret of missing things, so I try my best to NOT miss things. No one has asked why I am doing the things I am as far as COVID is concerned – no one has asked me if I am concerned about others I consider “family”. No one has asked if I’ve been able to see my family during this time – no one has inquired about loss. Keeping myself safe, keeping my wife safe and also, not wanting to be responsible for bringing a germ that I might be carrying to someone else and making them ill was how I chose to choose ME first this time.
That time I chose self-care? I’d do it again – regardless of the opposition. There’s a bigger picture here and when self-care broadens itself to community-care or worldwide-care, I’m always going to come down on the side of responsible and safe.
Science has always led the way to save us, not divide us.
I don’t get it.
I have said this so many times before, but I mean I really don’t understand people’s thinking.
As we have sat through one of the worst periods in our collective history as a WORLD, the divide in this country over vaccinations is mind-boggling.
Conspiracy theories abound and my nephew and I can always go back and forth on the plausibility of any one of them, but when public health and the survival of one’s loved ones is in question, do we really need to keep up an argument as people die?
I love science. In grammar school, as a child, camping and following the Park Rangers and Naturalists all over Emerald Lake State Park in Vermont, whenever there was a salamander to pick-up; I became somewhat of a science geek in high school, service in the Chem Lab (which is funny on many levels as I hated Chemistry); in college, Anatomy & Physiology, Kinesiology and Exercise Science – Professor Carpenter & Professor Acosta and countless others – my love for science culminated in a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science in Physical Education. I taught Physical Education and Health for two years and General Science, Life Science and Earth Science for three more.
I love science.
I TRUST science.
I TRUST medicine.
I TRUST educated professionals. And I don’t care what field they are in. I have been called a “Jane of all Trades” in my lifetime, but I am smart enough to know when I am out of my league – let the professionals handle the tricky stuff. I will learn, study, read, inhale may a science base video, book, TEDx talk and more. But my money is on SCIENCE.
Recently, someone said that the don’t trust Dr. Anthony Fauci – “All he wants to do is be on TV”.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m 80 years old, I would like to look back on the things I have done in my lifetime and career and reflect poetically. I don’t know that I want to be working full throttle at that point in my life and be targeted and bullied by conspiracy theorists, trust-fund-raised-TV-personalities, and certain political figures, not to mention one very agitated pillow salesman and many, many people in the general population. I still have a couple of years before I hit 80 – I’m hoping that retirement might be a possibility for me. But at 80, to think that anyone would be looking to be the target of what this man has become is ridiculous. He is an accomplished, Cornell-educated, award-winning physician with more accomplishments than you can shake a stick at.
We have been through pandemics before – in my lifetime, many that didn’t reach our shores here in America and one that decimated the LGBTQ+ community. I lost an uncle at a very young age to the AIDS crisis in the 1990’s; I lost the opportunity to meet “in-person” a grandfather I didn’t know I had to COVID, two cousins in Europe, a woman whose child I taught years ago who was always the “one you’d know would be at the game – Mets or Cyclones”. I now live worrying day to day for members of my family, my friends, my business connections that are all over the globe. A friend in Brazil, a cousin in Italy, a colleague in the Carolinas…
Makes me think that the vaccine is really a no brainer.
We don’t live in a bubble.
Hence, we really don’t know if getting the shot led to some people becoming ill, some dying. Too many other factors.
We really don’t know if getting the shot will lead to an issue with reproduction. Too many other factors.
We really don’t know because things have happened too fast.
But we do know basic science, or at least we all should. It amazes me how many of this country’s population were not paying attention in science or health class – viruses kill, viruses reproduce, and science is ever evolving. That’s why what the scientists and doctors say changes from time to time.
Perhaps we need a dose of what it meant to parents who watched their children die of “simple things” like polio, the flu, Scarlet Fever, and the like – back when they prayed for a quickly found and effective treatment. The old “Little House on the Prairie” episode when they bought meat off the back of someone’s wagon, only to have half the community be sickened with natural Anthrax poisoning, with several townsfolk dying. If it was some devastating diagnosis for which there wasn’t a cure “right now”, wouldn’t we grasp onto the hope if there was one coming down the road a bit?
My hope for the world and everyone in it is that this COVID pandemic subsides, goes away completely would be even nicer. Worry about your family, worry about your community, worry about those you don’t even know yet. And in the meantime, please don’t be one of the ones that say “Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve” when it is too late.
#COVID19 #science #conspiracytheory #camping #EmeraldLakeStatePark #BrooklynCollege #physicaleducation #healtheducation #teaching #DrAnthonyFauci #Fauci #at80 #LGBTQ #AIDS #pandemic #viruses #apolitical #LittleHouseonthePrairie #shouldacouldawoulda
I was duped.
I thought that after many years, an issue had been resolved. Finally, once and for all, not to be an issue again.
You see, I was told from a very young age that if you could not add to something through monetary means, you needed to work your hardest, do your best and show whoever was “in charge” of you, that you were of value – hard-working, never backing down from a challenge, getting the job done. My family instilled this in me, and I always believed it to be true. It had served me well all my life; I was always considered to be a great worker and as my experience grew, one with leadership qualities and a fine work ethic.
When that mixes with a supervisor/boss who is a narcissist; one who has a truly fragile ego and must be the star of the show, you will have a toxic workplace. Nervously being at work every day – never knowing when you would be called to the “principal’s office” to be chastised and for what. The smallest incidents would blow up without warning, resulting in mayhem when it was least needed. In fact, I have been in this position several times throughout my careers.
When I say that I thought the issue has been resolved, I meant my internal issues. I was raised to be respectful. Yes, I am sarcastic with my humor, when I am comfortable with someone, I will share many laughs and comments, but I never want to be disrespectful – any one of my relatives would have eagerly given me a swift kick in the pants if I behaved badly. But my issue is truly wrapped around the respect I have for myself.
When I say I was duped, I did it to myself. My younger self did not possess respect for me to allow getting out of that situation quickly. Somehow, I continued to put myself in similar situations – a narcissistic boss who cannot handle someone who does what they say they have come to do, working well with people, and getting the job done. I finally realize that I need to respect the value I bring to the table, stand my ground and stop being disrespectful to myself.
And in that respect for me, I will not make apologies to the way I have worked, nor how easily I work anyone else, and the results achieved. Whether it is a 97% passing rate amongst my students on a final exam or completion of a business plan to help a startup, teaching business foundations to my balloon decorating competitors or becoming a published author, I will not allow someone to diminish me and everything I can do.
The old saying of “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” is to be considered at its face value – it will not happen again. For that, you can be sure!
It’s backwards from the usual but it makes sense here.
In a year when so many of us have experienced loss, 2020 gave me the opportunity to find. I have been able to find my focus in business, I have found understanding of some of my life’s situations. I found the woman who chose an adoption plan for me and better understand the magnitude of her sacrifice and the gift she gave to my parents.
I must believe that finding her was made easy through technology, government intervention and divine reason. I always believed that the search was going to be long, drawn out and would probably not end the way I hoped. Within a year of searching in earnest, mission complete and I now have an extended, new part of my family that can only enhance the person I am, through our connecting and sharing of our lives’ stories.
I have found not only my birth mother, but her wonderful husband and some people close to them (not easy in a time of social distancing and lockdowns). I am learning about my grandmother and what an amazing life she led, “Dahlink”. When beginning my search, a DNA test connected me with a gentleman whose last name I tried not to mess up, who was kind enough to take time from his busy life to help me connect some dots. Almost too good to be true, he is extensively involved in genetics and history, his understanding and contacts made the search end quickly.
Through DNA, a finally opened adoption record and his colleagues who knew what questions to ask, we determined that said gentleman was my uncle, he had two sisters living in New York and his father was still alive.
Once names were determined, my uncle asked his father who remembered a young post-war love – “She was beautiful!” He recalled, over seventy years after they parted. He knew of their daughter, but timings and circumstance did not allow them to meet. He was still living overseas after a well-traveled life, successful career, and long marriage.
My original contact with my birth mother arrived at her door at a complicated time. When I didn’t receive any correspondence right away, I of course assumed that this was indeed not going to go the way I hoped. I contacted my uncle and said, “If nothing else happens on my end, if we could at least get her to meet her dad – that would be great.” Life of course always has other plans and over the summer, my uncle and I both held off trying to contact my birth mom again. I knew that my grandfather was well into his 90’s and I felt bad that we had gotten this far – I feared for a lost opportunity.
Technology being what it is now, a Zoom call with my uncle and two aunts was an amazing introduction to three incredibly fascinating people. Millions of questions will be asked when we can all gather safely down the road, but we all wanted their father to meet his daughter. At the beginning of September, my second letter went out – as only I could – with a copy of the first (in case it was never received), some pictures and all the legal papers. Within a day of receiving that letter, I was on the phone for an hours long phone call with my birth mom.
Among the gifts I was able to be part of, my uncle and aunts got to “Zoom meet” their sibling (my uncle is happy that he’s no longer the oldest!) and arrangements would be made to have their father on a call with all of us ASAP.
A birthday video conference with all of us (with new cousins for me as well) and we were able to make a connection over seventy years in the making. Grandfather was very sharp and knew exactly who the two new faces were. He ended the call telling us he loved us and was happy to see us. An amazing day indeed!
Now for the lost… Grandfather’s brother died in the 1918 Flu Pandemic. He commented to his children how he lost him to something we were now going through once again. I had so hoped that we all would have been able to take a plane ride and meet in person, but COVID had other plans. Reading a Presidential memoir in French a few weeks ago, even surrounded by his books and papers when diagnosed, vibrant and sharp with clarity of a brilliant mind until a virus changed his course.
Grandfather passed last Friday. My new family celebrates the life of a father they knew, and I look forward to connecting with them and hearing of his life well-lived.
Jane connects powerful women with an international network of “Phenomenal Message Makers”. Resources, connections, opportunities and trainings to help them clarify their message or brand, increasing their visibility, and growing their audience. Join her Facebook Group, Phenomenal Message Makers, for tips & downloads on focusing & promoting your message. Read more of Jane’s writings at BrainzMagazine.com, in her upcoming collaborative book, Voices of the 21st Century: Resilient Women Who Rise (release date February 23, 2021) or at janeparmel.com.
A “speed limit” birthday – what a ride to 55 and for all that lies ahead!
Here we are on November 21, 2020.
National Adoption Day is a collective effort to raise awareness of the more than 120,000 children waiting to be adopted from foster care in the United States. A coalition of national partners — the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Alliance for Children’s Rights and Children’s Action Network — founded National Adoption Day.
My 55th birthday AND National Adoption Day – how appropriate that they land together – especially this year. 2020 has been a unique year, to say the least. And this birthday, has been, for me, the most unique of all.
I didn’t see the TWO voice messages on my cell that morning in September. Then a few hours later, my house phone rang. Thanks to “Caller ID”, I saw the caller. I so wanted Rae to be home when I called because I had no idea what the outcome would be (I will take a risk but I am more comfortable with a plan!). My curiosity won – I couldn’t wait for her to be home. I called back.
I wish I could have recorded the call, but I didn’t. I was excited, apprehensive, nervous and petrified all at the same time I was convincing myself that in the end, this wouldn’t change my day-to-day, or maybe it would; this would be a defining moment in my life, of that I was sure.
She picked up. “This is Jane”, I said. And we began a conversation that lasted over an hour. Details about her and her mom, how they wound up in all the places they did, and how I came to be. I told her of her half-siblings located not too far and her father, whom she had never met. I started this journey to possibly make a connection then realized that my connection was secondary to my birth mother connecting with her siblings and father, most of all. We planned a call with the siblings which was one of the most amazing calls I have had – a collection of amazingly intelligent, accomplished, warm and welcoming people. My uncle was happy that he was no longer “the oldest” and we shared many questions and laughs along the way. My grandfather’s 96th birthday was upcoming and a Zoom celebration would be planned. Ninety-six and completely aware that he was speaking to his oldest daughter for the first time as well as a granddaughter he even imagined. It was the most amazing call!
With COVID restrictions (at the time) being somewhat eased, I met my birth mother. Masked protocols followed, we could not help but to embrace each other and she said to me, “I waited 54 years to do that!” We talked and talked and shared details about our separated lives. I told her about my parents and she explained why she chose an adoption plan for she and I.
She told me she struggled with her decision and that was why I was adopted at five months old. I never thought that was different, but she explained that it was time she needed. Did she think of me? Yes. She didn’t know if I was told of my adoption and she held back from contacting me because she did not want to upset the life I had. And the biggest question? The why.
An answer so truthful – “I wanted you to have a mother and father – a family.” She had grown up with an amazing mother but did not have her father in her life. She wanted a different way and she was in control of that narrative for me; she also had to make the best decision for her as well. My birth mom was sure to tell me that she knew my mother was my mother – who raised me, changed diapers and who did every other thing for me. She always respected that.
There has been levity in my series of posts and I appreciate every one of you who have read along. I want to be quite clear in a few things – first, my parents, my family are MY FAMILY. All the scrapped knees, school events, music lessons, and family gatherings are the indelible marks on my life that make me who I am. Secondly, know that in no way was this search an attempt to disavow, disrespect or forget who my mother and father were and will always be to me. My love for them will never change, as the love for my extended family, cousins, aunts, and uncles will always remain. Finally, this was something I needed for ME – to answer questions that only a few of my friends (Frann, Frank, Dolores, to name a few) and my cousins (Matthew, Kristen, Christopher and Annalisa) could share as fellow adoptees. Things have been made clear for me and I finally acknowledge the good in everything that has happened over these five and a half decades. Anyone who has ever rattled me by questioning who I was, the character I have or the motives behind my deeds is now just a mere blip on the screen – I have been made complete in this final piece of the puzzle.
I am looking forward to many years ahead getting to know a whole new set of my aunts, uncles, and grandparents, through talks, pictures, and memories. I hope for a time when we can all be in the same room to do that. I am so excited to have been blessed with the connection to my birth mother – I truly thank her for making my life possible. It may sound cliché, but it really was the most amazing gift someone could give another.
For my birthday this year, I received a very early morning text from the one person who was there when I came into this world – something so many people take for granted. It will be in my opinion, the best birthday ever!