Treat YoSelf&Plan #1

I am joining a brand new challenge called Treat YoSelf&Plan hosted by Italian Hurricane!  This challenge involves taking a few minutes for yourself every week to a) treat yourself and b) plan and set some goals for the upcoming week.

I don’t have a lot of time for myself with my job, commute and two kids so this challenge is a good thing for me. This past week, I did take some time for myself on Saturday morning. I slept in and relaxed (which for me means spending some time downloading music and perusing the internet). I also made a little splurge at the grocery store: cookie dough swirl klondike bars AND red velvet fudge stripe cookies.

Goals for next week:

  • Get to bed earlier… I have been staying up way too late lately. Starting next week with my new job, I will have to be up and out the door by 6am.
  • Setting aside time every day to write… even if it is just 20-30 minutes. Even if it is just during my lunch half-hour. Even if it is just writing down random thoughts from my commute when I get home from work. I should have been doing this for a while. Many days I just get busy and lazy.
  • Drink more water… in an effort to be healthier
  • Meal plan for lunches… my anxiety has been flaring up my food issues lately. Aside from the splurges mentioned above, I have been restricting food lately and that is not good. I do not want to backslide into that place. So I want to plan good, healthy lunches and snacks to take to work to keep my energy up and improve my  health.

What have you done lately to treat yourself? What are your goals for the upcoming week?

Go here to read more about the Treat YoSelf&Plan challenge and add your own post to the link-up.

Casual Fridays 6/26/2015

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Happy Saturday! That means it is time for the latest installment of Casual Fridays (Saturday morning edition), my weekly chat post – no structure, no rules, no prompts, anything goes.  And please also check out Casual Fridays over at Helen’s blog, Good Woman.

Let’s get random…

Last night was a typical Friday night at our house. My husband and I rented a redbox movie and had a quiet evening. He picked the movie this week and graciously selected a “chick flick”. He reserved it in the afternoon and so when the redbox email appeared on my phone revealing the movie title, I was excited. After work, filled with anticipation, I made popcorn and we settled in. It was a love story – a good story – and I was invested in it… until the end. What a disappointment. I actually yelled “Are you kidding me?” at the screen. There may have been an expletive thrown in there too. Ever followed a story through it’s highs and lows and gotten attached to characters and then watched, horrified, as the author steers the story off in a direction you don’t want it go? Like right off a cliff? Frustrating.

Lazy Saturday mornings are the best. I’ve downloaded some songs that I’ve been crushing on lately. I’ve perused the kindle store on my app. I visited facebook and watched a hilarious buzzfeed video – the one about the guy who wears high heels for a day (because he obviously thinks that women are just whiny complainers and finds out that high heels are the devil). I’ve given belly rubs to my cat, Gracie, who is curled up next to me. A good morning, all in all.

Things are all set for my transition at work. My new coworkers are excited that I am coming back. My soon-to-be old coworkers are sad but wishing me well. They have planned a farewell party on Wednesday. It’s all a little exhausting for this introvert, to be honest. And while I am excited about my new position, I am also scared and nervous. Change always breeds anxiety. A crafty demon, anxiety. It robs me of sleep, good humor and creativity and makes me focus on negatives. So my goal for the upcoming weeks is to focus on positives.

On that note, the kids and I tried something new this past week: Geocaching. Any geocachers out there? It is basically a real-life treasure hunt, the caches are hidden everywhere. Though this official website, the caches are registered and assigned GPS coordinates. You can find caches near you and then log your finds on your profile page. Some caches are quite small and just consist of a log to sign. Other caches are larger and contain little items to swap (take an item, leave an item). We started doing this because my older daughter found a lost cache item (quite by accident) at camp recently. It was a little eagle statue and it was a trackable (travel bug). That means that it has a code that you can enter on the website so that it’s location can be tracked. The purpose is to keep the item moving to see how far it can go. So when we found this little lost guy, we felt obligated to get him back in the game so he could keep traveling. Complete muggles (what geocachers call non-geocachers), we went online and figured out how to set up an account and locate a cache near us where we could place the trackable. This is a long and kind of funny story, maybe fodder for another post. Anyway, the trackable is back in a cache and waiting for the next person to find him and send him further on his journey. Now the kids want to find other caches in our town.

What have been the highlights of your week? Did you try anything new?

Have a good weekend everyone!

Casual Fridays 6/19/15

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It’s Friday! That means it is time for the latest installment of Casual Fridays, my weekly chat post – no structure, no rules, no prompts, anything goes.  And please also check out Casual Fridays over at Helen’s blog, Good Woman.

Let’s get random…

First, my thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. Senseless tragedies like this always break my heart. I just can’t imagine what the victims’ families are going through. I went to grad school in SC and spent a lot of time in Charleston for both personal and professional reasons. It is a wonderful, beautiful city full of diversity and history. I send all of my love to the people of Charleston as they heal and move forward from this terrible incident.

My big news for the week is that I got a new job! I am going to stay at the same university but move back to the OB/GYN department as a clinical genetic counselor (read more here). I worked at that same position for six years before it was eliminated (budget reasons) in 2011. I have been in the genetics lab since. I was a little hesitant to go back to this OB position, given what happened in the past. However, it is a good move for me professionally. I have a lot of experience and training in clinical counseling and that is where my heart is. I am excited to get back to serving patients. There have also been staffing changes in OB that make me believe that there will be a more positive environment. Most of my old coworkers are still there so I am hoping for a smooth transition. I will be starting there right after the 4th of July holiday.

I just officially accepted the position yesterday. I had to give my notice at my current position, which was stressful. My supervisor was so kind and understanding. The rest of the day was spent fielding a flurry of emails about my offer and various transfer details that I must take care of.

This morning I had to perform a drug test. It was a hair drug test. I have never done that before. A lab worker actually sectioned my hair and pinned it up on my head like a hairdresser. Then she snipped off little clumps from the underneath. I have a lot of hair but it makes me wonder how they perform this test on people with very short hair!

I am not sure how my new job will affect my writing time (which is quite limited as it is). My daily schedule won’t change much except for getting to work earlier and leaving earlier. I still have a long commute and my evenings will still be devoted to my kids. There just aren’t enough hours in the day!

That’s all of the news for me this week. Have a good Friday, everyone, and a great weekend!

What I do

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photo: pacgenomics.com

I am 40 years old. What are the odds my unborn baby could have a chromosome condition?

My nephew has cystic fibrosis. Will my baby have it?

My mom had breast cancer at 35. What are my cancer risks? Should I have BRCA gene testing?

“So, what do you do?” I get that question a lot. It’s a good question when meeting someone new, an icebreaker of sorts. When I answer “I’m a genetic counselor,” I often get a blank look followed by the inevitable question “what is that?” It’s always refreshing when I meet someone who actually knows what a genetic counselor is. Fortunately, this happens more often now than it did 16 years ago when I started this career.

Genetic counselors communicate complicated information about genetics, heredity, risks, statistics and genetic testing to patients and families. The goal is to help patients understand their risks and make educated decisions about testing that are best for their situation. Genetic counselors work in many areas including prenatal, pediatric and cancer. Genetic counselors work as part of a team with nurses, doctors, radiologists, social workers and other healthcare professionals. They are also involved in physician education since they are a current resource on the rapidly changing field of genetics and genetic testing.

I was a clinical counselor for 12 years, mostly in prenatal. The field of prenatal genetics is evolving quickly and patients need counselors now more than ever to help them navigate the pros and cons of screening and diagnostic tests. I enjoy helping couples process this information and make decisions that are best for them. Unfortunately, I have had to work with families whose unborn children were diagnosed with birth defects or life-threatening conditions. I have worked with many families during a prenatal or infant loss. This is always difficult. Most of the time, however, babies are healthy and I am able to reassure patients and give them good news.

For the last four years, I have been working in a cytogenetics laboratory. This is where tests like chromosome analysis, chromosomal microarray and fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) are performed. I have learned to read these tests but I also do interpretation, report writing and communication with doctors.

I will be returning to a prenatal counseling position in a couple of weeks. I am excited to get back into the routine of a busy ultrasound clinic. I enjoyed being in a laboratory but I am most in my element when I’m doing direct patient care.

So that is my career in a very small nutshell. I could talk about it all day but I tried to keep it brief. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

For more information about genetic counseling services and careers, check out the National Society of Genetic Counselors.

Casual Fridays 6/12/15

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It’s time for Casual Fridays – Saturday morning edition! Casual Fridays is my weekly chat post – no structure, no rules, no prompts, anything goes.  And please also check out Casual Fridays over at Helen’s blog, Good Woman.

Let’s get random…

So I’m a little late this week. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Friday was busy for me. I had to work and I had a job interview. Then I had a night out with my husband without  the kids (and parents, you know how precious that is).  I’m not going to call it a “date night” because two of my friends and I don’t like that term and we secretly laugh at our other friends on facebook who use it. So, what does a kidless night out look like after 15 years of marriage, you might ask? Well, last night it was a quick dinner and grocery shopping. (Again, parents, grocery shopping sans kids is awesome, am I right?). We’re not always that boring, I promise. But last night we were. I was also exhausted because I haven’t slept well all week. So I am pretty sure I was snoring by 10pm.

I’m not sure if it was my exhaustion but I had weird dreams last night. Have you ever woken up from strange dreams and thought “what the heck was that??” That was me this morning. My coworkers were all there and we were having some kind of party (which isn’t actually that unusual) but we weren’t at work. And there were other people there that I didn’t know. And then I was trying to get home to my parents – who had my kids – but I was stuck and couldn’t leave. Then at the end Blake Shelton showed up. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t invited. ha ha. The dream may have been a headscratcher but I do feel refreshed this morning.

Yesterday, I took the campus shuttle to the medical school campus for my interview. After I was finished, I got to spend some quality time at a very busy metro stop waiting for the shuttle bus to take me back to the biotech building. Very interesting. I love people watching. And there is no better place to people watch than a city metro stop. I did strike up a conversation with a fellow employee. We saw each others’ badges and commiserated on the atrocious shuttle system and the never-ending campus construction. It made me miss the main campus a little. I’ve gotten somewhat spoiled out in the cushy biotech building.

Summer has definitely arrived here in the STL area. It has been hot and humid all week. I’m not a fan of having to turn on my car a/c at 7am but I do love summer. I am trying to keep it all in perspective.  At least it is not ice and snow.

I have things to do so it is time for me to start my day. Life calls.  Have a good weekend, everyone!

 

Let the music play

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “On the Edge.”

We all have things we need to do to keep an even keel — blogging, exercising, reading, cooking. What’s yours?

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Keeping myself on an even keel is not an easy task. I wish I could say that exercise does it for me. At my age and with my aching back, exercise is no longer fun. My husband and kids probably wish cooking was my vice. Alas, it is not. I used to be a voracious reader. I don’t read as much as I used to or as much as I’d like to. I would say reading is my #2.

I have to have my daily dose of music to stay sane. I stream music during my commute (which is over 2 hours total). Depending on what tasks I am doing at work, I may be (and often am) listening to music through my ear buds most of the day. I am known to plug in while I am doing housework. And my favorite is dance nights in the playroom with my girls. We stream music through the computer, turn it up loud and just dance it out.

I am a streaming junkie. It started with Pandora. I also love spotify and slacker. On my phone, there’s also Milk. These are so addictive because there are tons of stations to choose from (and flit between) OR you can customize your own station. Thousands (tens of thousands?) of songs at my fingertips? Yes, please.

My playlist is diverse. There’s pop, rock, country, alternative. There’s oldies and newbies. Every song on my playlist is there because it speaks to me in some way. Being a writer, I am drawn to lyrics. So most are songs that I particularly connect to the lyrics for one reason or another. My new favorite is Photograph by Ed Sheeran. So beautiful. I also love to rock out so there are some songs that I just love the catchy beat.

Music influences my writing. It lifts me up. It makes me think. It can reflect my mood or it can change my mood. A day without music would be like a day trapped in a windowless room devoid of sensory input. I would probably freak out.

What keeps you on an even keel?

photo credit: Thomas Hawk – flickr

Breaking Free (Friday Fictioneers)

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Tripp shouted joyfully as he hurtled through space, turning somersaults. He shot through the portal and sped toward Earth.

As a retriever, Tripp had the coolest job in the afterlife. Working with the newly departed wasn’t always easy, though. Some resisted. He didn’t understand why people wanted to stay anchored to such a dreadful place. Death was the best thing that ever happened to him.

He flew into Kaya’s drab hospital room and immediately knew she was a kindred spirit. After a long, hard battle, she was ready and eager. He smiled, took her hand and led her to freedom.

 

 


 

Photo credit: C. Hase

This is my offering for Friday Fictioneers. Hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, this group of writers meets weekly to share flash fiction stories (around 100 words) based on a photo prompt. Go here and click the blue froggy button to read the other stories.

 

 

 

Casual Fridays 6/5/15

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It’s Friday! Time for the latest installment of Casual Fridays, my weekly chat post – no structure, no rules, no prompts, anything goes.  And please also check out Casual Fridays over at Helen’s blog, Good Woman.

Let’s get random…

June?! How did that happen? Seriously. How did that happen?? We’re nearly to the middle of the year. Let that sink in for a moment.

My kiddos are officially out of school. I am enjoying an easier morning routine because I can now let them sleep and let their dad deal with them when  he goes to work (ha ha – and you would think this means I am leaving earlier for work but it doesn’t). This also means they want to stay up later at night, which cuts into my writing time. I love my kids, I love my kids, I love my kids. (No, really I do).

The campout last weekend was a success, I suppose. It rained on us all weekend so it was soggy and messy. And muddy. I am not an outdoor person (and even more so not an outdoor-in-the-rain person) so I was miserable. The kids, however, had a blast. We had fun activities and lots of crafts and music. And my younger, impish daughter (Caitlin) had so much fun getting covered in mud.

My husband has adult ADD. If you have this or know anyone who does, you know what a struggle this can be. I am an extremely organized and focused person. Type A+. There are days I want to kill him (I’m only half joking). He recently started taking Adderall and it is like living with a different person. I came home yesterday to a surprise – he had decided to clean the carpet in the playroom. So he shampooed the carpet. Then he decided to clean up and organize the toys. He cleaned up the area around his desk. He put the doors back on a closet – something I’ve been asking him to do for at least a year. He took unnecessary boxes to the basement. Then he moved to the kitchen. He did dishes, cleaned the counters and cleaned the floor. When I walked in, he had the stove top propped up and he was cleaning under the burners. With a scouring pad. I almost passed out from shock. He said he just got started cleaning and got focused and he just couldn’t stop. Welcome to my world, buddy.

I love this change in him. Love, love, love it. Don’t get me wrong, it has taken some adjustment. At first I gave him some major side-eye. I wondered if pod people had stolen my real husband away and replaced him with this 2.0 version. It really is a good thing though. He says his head is so much clearer and his thoughts are so much more organized. It’s like a veil has been lifted. Win-win.

I am working on a flash fiction piece but it is taking on a life of it’s own and being completely stubborn about fitting into the 100 word guideline. Off to work on that.

Have a wonderful Friday and a great weekend, everyone!