Category Archives: Raising Awareness

Top Women’s Newspaper Journalists of Past and Present

helenthomas

In honor of Women’s History Month, last week I took on the daunting task of listing some top women television journalists that deserve our support. I would like to continue to honor this month by attempting to list top political newspaper journalists, columnists and editors who deserve the same kind of respect, support and place in history. And for a final tribute next week, I will tackle my list of top twenty liberal women political bloggers.

Women are now expected voices during political dialogue – speaking their minds and taking names, so to speak. But how did we get here? After all, we have only had the right to vote since 1920 (a mere 90 years ago) and finally had our first shot at a woman President only in the past year. Wouldn’t you know it, women have been affecting the political scene long before we were voting and have been fighting for their spot on the soapbox in the male dominated field of journalism ever since. Did you know that the International Federation of Journalists reported that only of 38% of working journalists are women?

So as a woman blogger, political junkie and proud feminist, I would like to tip my laptop to the following women of note:

  • Marguerite Higgins was the first woman to win a Pulitzer prize for international reporting in 1951.
  • Ethel Payne covered the civil rights movement and became the first African American commentator employed by a major news network (CBS) in 1972.
  • Ida M. Tarbell was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her historical investigative reporting about the Standard Oil company at the turn of the century.
  • Margaret Fuller was the first writer for the New York Tribune in the mid 1800s and was also the first female foreign and war correspondent.
  • Nellie Bly is famous for her undercover work as a journalist who faked her insanity so that she could report on the inner workings of a mental institution in the late 1800’s.
  • Katherine Graham was a Pulitzer prize winning author and managing editor of the Washington Post during the explosive early 70s when the Post unearthed the truth about Nixon.
  • Nancy Hicks Maynard was the first African American female reporter for the New York Times and former owner of the Oakland Tribune.
  • Ellen Goodman is a Pulitzer prize winning columnist who has focused her career on bringing attention to the women’s movement while writing a nationally recognized syndicated column.
  • Anna Quindlen is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist who, in 1990, became the third woman in history to write a regular column for the New York Times Op-Ed page.
  • Helen Thomas was the first female member and president of the While House Correspondents Association and has been in the white house press corps since JFK, sitting front and center of every white house press conference. (See image above.)
  • Arianna Huffington was named as one of Time’s worlds 100 most influential people and  is the co founder of the Huffington Post.
  • Margaret Carlson was the first female columnist at Time magazine and is now a columnist at Bloomberg News.

IN 1937, the National Federation of Press Women was founded. For a list of accomplished women journalists found in their Hall of Fame, please visit their site.

With such amazing journalists and inspiring women preparing the ground for future female writers, it is no surprise that such a fabulous crop of political bloggers have sprung forth today, enlightening, demanding and questioning the political arena at large. So who are my favorites? You’ll have to wait until next week when I will finally reveal my top twenty favorite political bloggers. Until then, happy Women’s History Month!

Cross Posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Bloggers, Communication, Educating myself, Feminist tendancies, Giving respect, Inspiring people, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Women

Toms Shoes: A Review and a Give-away

shoes3

By now you should know that I won’t do a review on Morningside Mom unless there is something about that product that truly impresses me. Well, I have another one for you. Toms Shoes approached me and asked that I review a pair of shoes for them. But these aren’t just a pair of shoes. In case you don’t know about Toms Shoes, I am going to tell you what makes this specific shoe company so very special.

shoe4The Toms Shoes company was started by Blake Mycoskie after he visited Argentina and noticed how many children did not have any shoes. His dream for this company was to create a shoe that he could sell and give away. Let me explain further. He wanted his company to make it possible to donate one pair of shoes to a child in need with every one purchased. That’s right. And he did. After one year, he and his family and friends were ready to donate over 10,000 shoes to children in Argentina. Next stop was South Africa where he and his crew dropped off 50,000 shoes. And in 2008 it was planned that they donate over 200,000 shoes worldwide.

Ok, now watch this.

Pretty amazing, right?

Ok, so lets get down to the shoes themselves. What did I think?

shoes1

Well, in terms of style, I was a liiiittle nervous. I’ll admit, I was worried they’d be kind of like grandma shoes. I am just being honest here. I wasn’t sure they’d really be my style. So I looked through all the various patterns available online and went for a fun “Element” shoe style. At least I knew these shoes wouldn’t look anything like what Grandma would wear.

shoes2But here’s the thing. When I got them, they actually looked a lot cooler than I expected. I was pleasantly surprised. And my favorite part about the shoes? When I slipped them on, I didn’t want to take them off. Because, my friend, they’re like butta. So dang comfy. Granted, they don’t have a ton of support – these are flat shoes made of canvas. But they are well made and I really, truly never want to take them off. (Maybe I should get Grandma a pair, I think she wouldn’t take them off either.)

Now down to the fun part.

It’s giveaway time!

I have the DVD of their award winning documentary about their first shoe drop in Argentina and a coupon code worth $50 in Tom’s Shoes to give away to a Morningside Mom reader.

How do you enter? Leave a comment below about a time you’ve given back to your community or something you would like to do for your community. Real answers please, don’t just respond with some general Ms. America “I want to save the world” comment. Think about it for the sake of making change happen – like Toms Shoes has.

I will pick a winner at random on Monday March 16th.

Thanks and good luck!

**UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER!!**

Ilinap from Dirt and Noise was picked at random and has won the Toms Shoes giveaway! Congrats Ilinap!

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Filed under Africa, Causes, Children, Contests, Gifts, Philanthropy, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Reviews

My Thoughts on the Presidential Address to Congress

The other night after putting my children to bed, I settled onto my couch with my laptop and switched on MSNBC. I was ready to hear from our President. I was looking for hope, for answers, for any sign that there will be a light at the end of this very long and difficult tunnel. Homes in my neighborhood stand empty, friends are losing their jobs, funding for my son’s education is being cut drastically and I’m getting nervous about affording even groceries right now. This speech needed to assure me that eventually everything is going to be alright. And did it? Here is my reaction to the President’s address to congress.

After thunderous opening applause and a quick introduction by Pelosi, President Obama launched enthusiastically into his speech. Right away he recognized just how bad it’s gotten. He explained that he didn’t need to rattle off any more statistics about this recession since we are all experiencing it first hand.

With my arms folded and my heart sadly resigned, I certainly agreed. As much as I support our President whole-heartedly, I know the reality and can’t help but worry the obstacles in front of us are impossible to overcome.

He then reminded us that we are all responsible for our economy, for our environment, for our children’s futures. After years of excessive spending and with no regard for the consequences of bad loans or oil dependence, we’ve wound up where we are. His words were strong, he spoke plainly and he spoke right to me.

All this time, I’ve been smugly blaming the previous administration and everyone else for this mess. But it was at this moment when I realized that this problem is all of ours. We have all played a part in this mess and we all need to make an effort to fix it.

“Now is the time” he demanded. Ok. You’re right. I’m listening.

He then went on to explain this recovery plan will do the following:

  • Create 3.5 million jobs
  • Give 95% of Americans a tax cut by April 1
  • Give families paying for college tuition a $2,500 tax credit
  • Allow unemployed Americans extended unemployment benefits

Honestly? These promises practically make me giddy with hope. I was ready to leap to my feet during this part of his speech faster than Pelosi herself. But I didn’t. I was still holding myself back. These are promises and certainly look great on paper – but I am still waiting and seeing.

Obviously, this recovery plan means that a lot of money (read: trillions) will be floating around. Considering our reckless past, I appreciated the President explaining that careful tabs will be kept on every dollar spent. Americans can go to recovery.gov to see where our money is going. This is good. Actions and process have to be kept transparent if we want if regain any economic confidence.

The next points he brought up were about banking, credit and loans. The message came across loud and clear that our money in our banks is safe and that we cannot stop loaning to individuals and businesses. This will stop economic growth in its tracks. Clearly, trust needs to be rebuilt again.

He also pointed out that “responsible” families struggling to hold on to their homes will be assisted. He said that:

“…the average family who refinances today can save nearly $2,000 per year on their mortgage.”

For a family like ours who followed the rules, bought a home within our means but are still scraping to pay our mortgage – this was very encouraging to hear.

Further into his speech, I was thrilled to hear the three priorities of the recovery plan:

 “…the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.”

He explained that ignoring these areas will change the future of our country if we do not give them immediate support and attention.

This was where my cautious “we’ll see” grumblings gave way to affirmative exclamations. I was emotionally on board then. All I could think about was my child’s school staying open, my $150 co-pays to treat my son’s flu that never responded to his $25 flu shot, and the empty homes scattered all over my neighborhood. Maybe? Could it be? Well, it seems there actually is hope.

As our president concluded his speech, he mentioned the stories of individuals who have made differences in their communities. He then introduced us to the young high school girl who reminded our congress that “We are not quitters!”

You see, that is exactly it for me. I am scared right now. I am nervous that from the bottom of this economic hole, these promises are just too good to be true. I want to hide my head in the sand and wish it all away. Or maybe just wait for someone else to fix it. But we are not quitters. No matter what side of the tracks you fall on: get up, get out and do something. This is everyone’s problem. Not just Wall Street’s or Congress’s or our President’s.

No doubt about it, our President is a fantastic speaker. But he is also an extremely smart and capable leader. The impossible is ahead of us but instead of moaning about what can’t be done, I will follow his lead and consider all that can be done. He is inspiring me to take responsibility, move forward and do my part. It was an excellent speech and I’m excited and ready to see what our future has in store.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Communication, Economy, Getting green, Government, Inspiring people, Obama, parental fear, Parenting, Partisanship, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reality check

Morningside Dad: Thoughts from a Liberal Father

I am guessing that by now you are fairly familiar with my perspective as a liberal mom. Well, how about a father’s perspective? What is it like to be a liberal father raising children today? Wouldn’t you know it, my husband just happens to be a liberal father. So I sat him down tonight and asked him what his thoughts were on freedom of speech, equality, stereotypes about white men and the future of the Supreme Court. Come see what he has to say, his answers may surprise you.
brad
Now to give you some background about my husband, he is a 6 ft, 4” white college athletics coach. He grew up in a privileged town in Connecticut; he just completed his MBA and might be one of the smartest people I know. We’ll call him B. for the sake of this interview.

Caroline: As a liberal father, what issues are most important to you?

B: I am pretty straightforward about my values. I believe in civil rights, civil liberties, freedom of speech and every citizen having an equal opportunity to succeed.

C: And what about how your values relate to raising our children?

B: Well, our sons are part of a privileged class as two white males. I just hope I can raise them to have the same values I do.

C: So what about being a white male? What are your thoughts on affirmative action and our son’s future’s as white males?

B: It’s a topic I struggle with. I mean, why am I the bad guy? I know my race and gender give me a certain privilege but I wrestle with legislated equality sometimes. I realize sometimes we have to manufacture equal opportunity – and I get it – but I’ll admit that I struggle with this issue.

C: What have been some challenges for you as a liberal father?

B: I think I am most frustrated with the assumptions people make about me. I am a white, male coach – stereotypes are immediately drawn up. I mean, come on, even on the most progressive college campus, the Athletic department is assumed to be the last conservative bastion. As a result, comments are made around me since folks may presume I may have a certain value system which I don’t.

C: So how do you deal with that?

B: If I am at work and someone says something that I disagree with, I usually walk away or say nothing. I’ve got work to do and I am not going to start something then, but my silence usually clues them in. If I am outside of a work environment though, I do usually say something or try to start a constructive conversation about the topic. I make no apologies for my politics, take them or leave them.

C: With the new administration, what is the most important issue for you as a liberal father?

B: Apart from the obvious issues of establishing economic and global security for this country (and in turn, for our family), the appointment of the next Supreme Court justices is an extremely important issue for me. The current liberal appointments are not getting any younger. Whoever Obama chooses will leave a lasting impression on this country – probably longer than his own administration will. Do you know what kind of Supreme Court justices I want in there next?

C (smiling because I already know – and love – this answer): Tell me.

B: I want a purple haired, pierced nosed, extremely bright, straight talking lesbian from Northampton, Massachusetts appointed next. In fact, I want three of them in there!

I paused here to give him a big ol’ kiss. I love this guy.

C: Ok well gay adoption is illegal here in Florida. And you’ve heard all the threats about how legalizing gay marriage would ruin our marriage. What are your thoughts as a liberal father?

B: What in the world does my marriage have to do with two gay individuals who decide to be married? The success or failure of our marriage is strictly our responsibility. I have yet to hear one good cognizant argument against gay marriage. It is an equal rights issue that needs to be granted finally. If my sons grow up and decide that they want to love and marry another man, that is their right and I think it should be recognized, supported and protected.

C: Any final thoughts about being a liberal dad?

B: Florida is an interesting place. As far as I can tell in our area, I would say that being a liberal father is not particularly common. One morning a few days after the election, I was sitting at a red light. I mean, here I am, a white guy, with my kid in his car seat, on the way to kindergarten drop off with an HRC and Obama sticker on my bumper. I just don’t see that too often around here. All of the sudden, a guy in the car next to me (with his own collection of Obama stickers) started waving and honking at me, giving me the thumbs up. I saw that he too had kids in car seats in his backseat. I think it was a unique moment to see another guy like me so fired about this election. It was an interesting moment for me.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Boys, Equal Rights, Fathers, Florida, Marriage, parental fear, Parenting, Politics, Presidency, Racism, Raising Awareness, sons, Teaching kids

Will the Lilly Ledbetter Act Affect Equality in the Workplace?

obama_ledbetter

So I’m a woman. And many years ago, I was a working woman. I earned a nice-ish little income, I had a title, an office with a view, I wore suits and shared smart ideas about important stuff with other smart, important people around lacquered cherry wood conference tables. There were women and men in our office. And I assumed our pay was equitable. Or was it?

According to Women on Business, women nationally make 77c to every dollar men earn. That is not equitable. And let’s say a woman has proof that she does not make as much as a male counterpart, does she have the resources, the support – heck – even the laws in place so that she can file a lawsuit arguing inequity in her office place? Well sort of – and not until very recently.

So who is Lilly Ledbetter and what does she have to do with this issue? Last week, a new Fair Pay Act was named after her. Why? After working almost two decades for Alabama Goodyear Tire, Ms. Ledbetter filed a suit against the company with proof that she was being paid inequitably compared to her male counterparts. However, she could not win compensation due to some fine print found in the Civil Rights Act. That fine print stated that if 180 days had passed since an employee received a paycheck, a complaint regarding inequitable salaries could not be filed.

What? After working with Goodyear for almost two decades, how was she supposed to know if her pay was considered inequitable and thus know when her 180 days had expired? Why was this situation her fault?

Last week, President Obama signed a bill to change this, allowing workers to more time to file such types of law suits. It seems an obvious change and one that should never have been over-looked – and yet this bill was only signed days ago.

The reality remains, however. Inequity in the work place will not just go away now that companies have to watch their own backs more carefully.

So how do other bloggers feel about the new Fair Pay Act? Do they feel this Act enough? Martha Burk at the Huffington Post feels more is needed and that we should look to New Mexico as an example:

“Not only will the state as an employer have to study and report its own pay practices when it comes to gender and race, so will private sector companies that want state contracts. Richardson [Governor of New Mexico] has declared overcoming pay inequity and job segregation a priority, and established a high-powered task force to implement the needed changes.”

Emily Douglas at The American Prospect argues that this Fair Pay Act isn’t enough. In fact, it isn’t getting us that much further ahead. Rather,

“…the truth is that the Ledbetter Act simply restores employment-discrimination law to its pre-Ledbetter v. Goodyear standard. It doesn’t actually create new protections for workers, protections Ledbetter herself could have used — like a prohibition on employer retaliation if workers compare salaries.”

Punditmom agrees that this Fair Pay Act is a step in the right direction but questions whether the President is overlooking many other important issues in need of immediate attention for women such as increased health services. This apparent “tip of the iceberg” step towards fair pay seems to smack a bit of a quick fix, something to tide women’s rights activists over for the time being.

Sua Sponte is optimistic, however. She writes:

“This is not only an Act that will protect women like Lilly Ledbetter, but also countless other people paid less because of their race, national origin or religion. This Act clearly won’t be the remedy for all discriminatory pay decisions, but it’s a good start and sends a great symbolic message as Obama’s first law.”

Clearly, passing the Ledbetter Act alone will not solve discrimination issues in the work place. It seems simply the clarification of a detail. There is still so much more work to be done to truly establish equity amongst employees. But I suppose we all need to consider this a “glass is half full” moment. Thanks to this new Act, women can file a discrimination complaint and actually have a chance at compensation. Even if the Ledbetter Act is only considered one symbolic deckchair tossed impressively off the Titanic – it is still one step closer to a little something we all consider more American than apple pie: equal rights.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Equal Rights, Feminist tendancies, Government, Obama, Politics, Raising Awareness, Women, Working moms

Honoring Dr. King’s Dream

We can never take for granted how far we have come to ensure equality for every citizen in our country. Thousands of people have suffered so that the rights of our people are upheld and preserved. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech has lived in our minds for decades. It has remained alive in our hearts, reminding us to work for a dream, to accomplish the impossible. And tomorrow, with the election of Barack Obama, we are so close to realizing Dr. King’s dream.

But we can’t assume we have accomplished his dream entirely. We can’t assume equality comes simply with the election of an African American president, because it hasn’t. But we’re getting so close. And as we watch President-Elect Obama be sworn in tomorrow, there can be no doubt in our minds that the impossible can happen. Now, we have every reason to believe that Dr. King’s dream may soon be entirely realized.

I think it is all of our responsibilities to watch this speech, read this speech, and experience this speech before tomorrow’s inauguration. Amoungst everything that it represents, every one of us should understand the significance of this new presidency and the effect it will have on our hopes for equality in our country.

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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Filed under Equal Rights, Giving respect, Inauguration, Inspiring people, Martin Luther King Jr., Obama, Patriotism, Peace, Presidency, Racism, Raising Awareness

Yes, I Blogged my Mammogram

mammogram

Well, we’re still talking about the girls here on Morningside Mom. As you know, I have been stressing about a mystery pain in rightie, so I went to the doctor last week. Two days ago, I had a mammogram. And in the name of promoting breast health everywhere (well… at least here on this humble little blog), I just gotta do it. I gotta blog the whole dang experience.

Now I shouldn’t get you too pumped up. It honestly wasn’t nearly as heart stopping of an experience as its reputation might lead you to believe. I think it took longer to fill out the paper work than to actually go through the entire mammogram itself. No, in fact, I am sure it did. But I do think it is worth sharing how its done. There are plenty of friends of mine who have yet to have their first. And I also think there are plenty of women who are afraid of going through with one. As my dear blogger friend Ilinap has described it, “who wants to go have a car door slammed on your breasts?” While I had a good laugh at her description, I swear on my left breast (the good one) that it’s really not that bad. So here we go…

Once my paper work was completed, I waited. And there is no doubt about it. Even though this was my second rodeo (I had a baseline mammorgram at 32 due to my family’s history), I was nervous. In fact, I had been nervous all day. What if while their scanning, the tech sees something? What if the tech, calls the radiologist and the radiologist calls a doctor and they all mumble in hushed tones from across the room behind my file, glancing over at me now and then, shaking their heads back and forth? What if? So I was all kinds of worked up.

And do you know the most irksome part of the whole process? I couldn’t wear any deodorant (powders and lotions are not allowed either). So there I sat in the waiting room, my stomach a pit of nerves, and generally feeling “not so fresh”. Thank goodness it is Florida’s version of winter. Can you imagine getting a mammogram in the dead of summer?

But I digress.

So, after staring at the same page in my book for about 10 minutes, the tech opened the door and called my name. In I went and I followed her to a dressing room where she asked me to take my top half of clothing off and put on a pepto-bismal pink gown, opening in the front. Once dressed, she lead me into the room where the mammography machine loomed before me. Ok, I am being dramatic. It was just a machine – a digital x-ray machine actually – that stood taller than myself, and across the room was a monitoring station where the technician can view each digital image.

It was thankfully fairly warm in the room. The technician was very kind and professional. She led me right up to the machine and asked me to lean forward while she adjusted the machine to my height. There is a horizontal plate that is chest hight and then there is a plastic plate above which is lowered down also.

Now, all I did was stand there. She did the adjusting and arranging. To get a good, comprehensive picture, every bit of me needed to be resting on that plate. And… well… let’s just say it didn’t take very long to get me all on there.

Once I was set, the plastic plate above was lowered slowly. That’s where the “car door” analogy comes in. But there isn’t any slamming. Its just lowered enough to… pancake you a bit.

How does it feel? How did I react? Well, it didn’t hurt. At all. Neither mammogram that I’ve had have hurt. But both times, my reaction has been to giggle. Its all a very strange situation, you know? And I would advise you not to do what I did and look down at the plastic square pancaking your chest. Oh goodness. I had to bite down on my cheek to keep from breaking into a long belly laugh. You know that “face pressed up against the glass” kind of look? Yeah, it’s worth a laugh in my book.

She took two pictures of each breast. I got the “pancake” first horizontally and then vertically. After each take, she checked the monitor (I assume) to be sure that the picture was clear. Once she was done, she lead me back to the dressing room to wait while she spoke to the radiologist. She said that she wanted to be sure he didn’t need any other shots taken before she could let me go.

Ok. So I sat again. And my wheels starting turning again and my heart rate jumped right back up. And I stared at the same page in my book. If the radiologist wants to take more shots, that must mean they see something… Right? So they are looking right now. They could see something at this very moment…

“You’re all set!” They didn’t need any more pictures? I was free to go? Ha! As I got dressed, I rationalized that this meant one of two things. Either there was a mass there so obvious that no further pictures were needed. Or there was nothing there that the radiologist could see. Or. The radiologist wasn’t very good at his job and he missed something that is there after all! There goes the heartbeat again. Cheese and crackers, get me home to me deodorant.

So that was that. Not so bad, I swear to you. I am going to call my doctor by the end of the week if I haven’t heard anything. I usually assume that no news is good news – but still. Peace of mind is a very valuable thing. Obviously, since I felt nothing and he felt nothing and the radiologist (assuming he or she is capable) didn’t need more shots, I am assuming all will be well. As always, I will keep you posted.

Now to those of you who have put off your mammograms? Make an appointment already. It’s not so bad. Besides, you could probably use a good laugh.

Further desciptions and FAQs about mammograms can be found here:

 

***UPDATE***

Best words ever to read in a letter from a Radiology facility:

“NO MAMMOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE OF CANCER”

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Filed under Breast cancer, Dr. Visits, Health, Mammograms, Raising Awareness, Reality check, Women