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I haven’t written in my blog for a while. It took months for me to get my thoughts together and be as raw and honest about what I’m writing.

Yes, I’m already a stepmother, which in itself is a journey. But this is different. I am actually pregnant. Almost 8 months to be exact. Pregnancy didn’t seem like a possibility because I couldn’t get pregnant the natural way.

Let me explain….

Around 30 years old, my menses went AWOL. It would come infrequently like every 3 months and last 3 days at most. By the time I was 31, it was just gone. I didn’t go to the doctor right away. I felt free not being burdened by Aunt Flo. Just let me say clinicians are the worst at being patients. We know most of the outcomes of neglecting our health and we ignore it. I’m just as bad. My GYN doctor yelled at me when I decided to tell him I haven’t had a normal menses in over 6 months. I knew the consequence of not intervening was endometrial cancer. I was in denial. I would have rather not thought about it. I started hormonal therapy and was on it for years.  Being on hormonal therapy was also scary because it put me at increased risk for breast cancer. I already had a cousin succumb to this horrible disease.

This was my life for years. I had met my future husband who had two kids and if I couldn’t have kids, I was satisfied with being with this wonderful man who was okay if more kids weren’t possible. I had seen an endocrinologist who informed me what I had already suspected. I had Premature Ovarian Failure.

Premature Ovarian Failure or POF is a condition where the ovaries no longer function usually occurring before reaching the age of 40. Only 5-10% of women can get pregnant with POF. Others need additional methods to become pregnant. This disease occurred in me when I was 31 but can occur in girls as young as 14. There are two types. One can be treated by giving a hormone called follicle stimulating hormone or FSH to help the ovaries make follicles where the eggs are kept. The other type is if your body is working overtime to help your ovaries work (high levels of FSH), then the ovaries have just failed. Hormonal therapy or hormone replacement therapy helps regulate menses and reduce symptoms of menopause such as osteoporosis, hot flashes and heart disease to name a few. The exact causes of POF range from genetics to environmental to previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy. But in 90% of cases, the cause is unknown.

I decided to wait and really ponder if I wanted to proceed with having children. It was suggested I freeze my eggs. I was already 38 years old and my eggs were probably not going to be great anyway. After getting married, I was still unsure if I wanted to have children. I just had gotten married and wanted to enjoy being a wife before becoming a mother. What didn’t help with the anxiety over making a decision and the if I could indeed become pregnant was the constant nagging from other people – mainly women.

Okay, here is where I vent for myself and others….

Women (family, friends or strangers) can be extremely insensitive when it comes to asking about children.  Here are some of the insensitive things women say:

1.What are you waiting for?

First, how do you even know a woman wants to have kids.  She may not. I’ve heard young women say, I’m too young and/or I just started my career.  I’ve also heard young women say they are too selfish to have kids.  These are honest statements in my opinion.  If you know you don’t have the time/money/desire to take a care of a child, why should you be chastised for not wanting a child. Also, for a young woman who is not married or even in a serious relationship; why should she be forced to feel she is doing something wrong because she decided to wait or decided she doesn’t WANT any children?

2. You’re how old? Better get on that!

If you only knew my story. It should never be assumed that a woman hasn’t tried or isn’t actively trying to have a child.  A woman going through the struggles of infertility shouldn’t have to share her story with EVERYONE just to get other women to back off and just stop asking inappropriate questions.  If if the infertility issues lies with the man (e.g. low sperm count), it’s still no one’s business.  Just because you know of 10 women who pop out kids like candy from a pez dispenser, does not mean every woman has success stories.  Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen and Gabrielle Union are examples of women who tried to have a child multiple times and weren’t successful until as of recently. Even former FLOTUS Michelle Obama recently admitted her daughters were the result of IVF. This has to be the 2nd most frustrating thing I’ve heard since I was 25 years old.

3. Just relax. It will happen.

This is the MOST frustrating statement to me.  I could have been the least worried person in the world and my estrogen was not going to come back.  Can stress and anxiety prevent a women from getting pregnant? Absolutely! There is no doubting stress plays a huge role on our physical health.  However, when there is a medical reason for why a woman can’t get pregnant, telling her to relax just doesn’t help.  Especially if infertility treatments are required.  Many of these treatments are expensive and some women just don’t have the finances for it.  Even if there is no medical reason for the infertility, a woman has to find her center of calmness. Hearing this over and over (to me) just creates more anxiety and anger. I believe in and have heard of miracle children, but that’s not everyone’s story or happy ending.

Anyway, vent over. I decided to do IVF (Invitro Fertilization) with donor eggs.  My first time was not successful.  I didn’t even get pregnant. I was heart broken and cried for months.  I kept my feelings shielded as much as possible because everyone doesn’t need to know your story. I tried a second time and it was successful. I’m currently expecting a baby girl. Its truly a blessing to be able to conceive as there are so many women who have tried multiple times and were unsuccessful until their 8th try or not at all.

As I anxiously await her arrival, I pray she is healthy and God blesses me to be a great mother.

I would love to hear from women who have gone through this or who can just relate. Please leave any comments below.

If you are not ready to have children and want to consider freezing your eggs, here are good articles for you.

https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5656344

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/freezing-your-eggs-the-pros-cons/

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My cousin is getting married in November. My fellow PA is getting married next year. Another coworker got married two days ago.  With all these weddings happening, I thought I would write what I’ve learned in the past 3 years since I said “I do”.

DISCLAIMER:  MARRIAGE IS WORK!!!! What I’m writing, of course, doesn’t apply to every marriage.

The Wedding

Unless your fiance is super involved, the wedding is meant for the woman. Its all the bells and whistles to show everyone “This is who I’m going to marry and how I’m going to do it!”. New brides put tons and tons of cash towards this event and forget there needs to be money later for a new house, children, and just BILLS. Don’t drown yourself in debt for this one event. The marriage is what lasts not the wedding. The day of your wedding will be a distant and hopefully fond memory. (I seriously hated the DJ at my wedding – long story!)

Communication

Its been said over and over again, COMMUNICATION is key. Men are not mind readers. They really don’t know what the hell is going on with us UNLESS we say something. Prior to getting married, have a conversation about how you would like to discuss issues that may arise.  Whether you write down your issues or just set aside time once or twice a week, form an open ended conversation to address any problems. Without communication, the smallest problem (leaving the toilet seat up for example) will cause a huge argument because of a snowball effect of everything. Holding your anger and slamming down a pot (or whatever) is not a good way to translate you are pissed off about something. Since some men never talk, you might have to find ways to pique his interest in a subject before directing the conversation towards what’s bothering you.

SSDD (Same Sh*t, Different Day)

My cousin referred to her fiance as an “asshole”. LOL.  I was shocked and laughed. She has accepted his ways and is moving on knowing he can be a complete “asshole”.

MEN DON’T CHANGE. If you were expecting your then fiance now husband to become this amazingly romantic, sweep you off your feet, always bringing you flowers Superman that he was NEVA before, keep holding your breath.  MEN DON’T CHANGE.  UNLESS your then fiance was doing ALL of this before you got married, he probably won’t start now.  If your then fiance didn’t help around the house or left you to take care of the children by yourself, he’s not going to change. Men reveal who they are little by little. Its a discovery of who he is.  My grandmother would always say after 54 years of marriage,  she found out new things about my grandfather every day.

Before I got married, I asked both men and women who were married for 5+ years for advice.  A member of my church told me one of the big problems in marriage is unrealistic expectations.  He mentioned never to have overly great expectations from your spouse.  Who your husband is before he married you is who he is after you are married. Also, realistically as women, will we change because we are married? Will our responsibilities change? If I never cooked for my husband before marriage how could he expect me to transform into Martha Stewart?

You must take the good with the bad.  There are some things about him you will never like but accept them. As long as his faults are not a danger to you or your family, grow with him.  Besides, we usually expect men to accept us as we are. Early in my marriage, I would get so frustrated with trying to get my husband to not procrastinate and be proactive. Almost a year into marriage, I asked a friend who had been married for three years before me about this. “Give up and let it go” was her response. “There are just some battles you can’t win”. Its so true. I can’t change him so why frustrate myself trying.  It frustrates him as well and just adds unnecessary stress to our lives.

Its A Date

Date nights should be mandatory in marriages. Its so important to carve out just some time away from work and kids to see each other again. Life can get in the way and force wedges between you. Take one night a week or, even better, a weekend to reconnect. Lock yourself in a hotel room if need be. Fresh air is overrated anyway. Time alone is so important to build intimacy. NOT just sex but intimacy. Plan ahead and occasionally be spontaneous. Spontaneity is the chipotle pepper of marriage. One of my favorite attributes of my husband is that he can be spontaneous and have wonderful ideas.  I usually suck at being spontaneous because I’m so type A. I have to plan everything to the T. It usually drives him crazy, but hey I’m a work in progress.

Its OK to say Sorry

Funny enough, this was just a topic of discussion in a women’s Facebook group. Some women just don’t want to say “I’m Sorry”. I was surprised how many don’t, refuse to or appear to say sorry but are not really sorry. It can’t be one sided.

I will admit, I dont like being wrong, but who does? To keep the peace in a marriage you need to know when to say “I’m sorry”. Sometimes, we have to be the bigger person to just get things done and keep it moving.

Keep Your Business, your business

Communication is best between you and your spouse. Yes, there are times you need advice. But limit advice to a very select group of people. I talk to my grandmother about wifely duties because she was married for over 50 years. I talk to a friend and my mom about motherly duties because, well they are moms. Keep your circle small. Don’t discuss your husband with other women or men for that matter. This can open all types of doors and before you know it the person you talked to is more involved than you would like.

Know when to be the “damsel”

“I’m sorry I won’t be here this weekend. My husband planned a trip and I must go.”

“Why?”

“Because when a man plans something, which he almost never does, you have to be supportive. Men have easily shatterable egos. ”

This was a conversation between myself and a Sunday School teacher who was married at least 20 years. I remember because it really stuck out in my mind. My father didn’t teach me this about men.

You are independent and you have your own money. You’ve been taking care of yourself before he came into the picture. You do things in a very timely manner and in a very specific way. Oh wait, that last one is me! -so TYPE A! Anyway, some times you have to let men take the lead. As women we are nurturers by nature but we shouldn’t mother our husbands. It’s ok to take a step back and just let a man be the provider and protector. Our support means so much.

As a former Pastor told me, Marriage is not a bad thing but its important to marry the right person. You don’t always meet the right person immediately but when you do it just clicks.

Share your thoughts with me. I would love to see what you have learned in your marriage.

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4c hair care

NATURALSISTA

When you have 4C hair texture like mine, you are constantly looking for ways to reduce dryness, breakage and maintain moisture (MY LIFE AF). So one sunny day I was searching for  the most affordable way to co wash my strands (Yeah yeah I’m cheap af haha) I came across an interesting co washing method that involved Coconut oil and I gave it try and the results were so AMAZING I had to share it with you guys.

CO WASH? WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

A co-wash is a way to cleanse and nourish your hair with conditioner. Some people find co-washing to be so effective on their curls they’ve completely stopped using traditional shampoo.  So an effective co-wash should leave your scalp feeling clean, hydrated, and moisturized . With a co-wash, the goal is to simultaneously wash and condition your tresses. That means you don’t want to just smother your…

View original post 189 more words

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Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. Many well wishes were given to me celebrating my step-mothership (I know it’s not a real word) but I accepted them feeling empty. It hasn’t gotten easier being the “stranger” who married their father.

As of recently, the children’s mom appeared to be nicer to my husband in reference to me. But, in my eyes, the damage has been done. For the past 6 years, I (and my husband since he decided to move on with his life) have been treated as the enemy. The kids were undoubtedly told they were unloved by their father and I would never be their mother and need not be respected.  How do I know this, you ask? The children’s awkward stares and questions tell us much. Although my husband suspected this to be the case, it has been manifesting itself little by little.

Soooo after much back and forth and their mom literally being a barrier between them, his son is now living with us. Primarily because her hand has been “bitten”. Hence why she is being nice. (Old people saying alert: “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”). The son whom she spoiled, kept away from his father, gave extensive freedom to and stood in the way of fatherly wisdom and discipline now has a 16 year old mouth and an inappropriate amount of disrespect to use it. Like I said earlier, the damage was done. And now, she wants the father who loses sleep over not being able to see his kids to get involved. I wonder if other men would have said ” you created this, you deal with it!”. I’ve read countless stories of fathers who fought with their children’s mom so much, it just became easier to let go of their kids. My husband was ready and willing to bring his son to what he referred to as a “balanced home”.  This showed me how much he loved his son despite everything and I knew that whatever was going on at his mom’s house was not happening with us.

I watched Jada Pinkett-Smith first episode of her show “Red Table Talk” on Facebook. I was amazed (and admittedly a little jealous) at the conversation she had with Tre’s mother. It played well to my current position except I had no table or conversation. There was no table or any platform for her and I. I remember a time when the children’s mom was yelling in the  phone to my husband I should have kids of my own if I wanted to help with math and english assignments.  They were 7 and 10 years old. Or when one of the kids would say their dad was home with them when I was the only adult present at the time. That was about 2 weeks ago. So, yeah, there were no conversations to be had. My husband took the role of Will Smith and was helping me find my place in the aftermath of their breakup.  Although, I feel, it was a learning experience for him as well.

I saw in her show the importance of having all parties involved in raising children. Old people saying No. 2: “It takes a village to raise a child “. Children form their own ideas when their parents split: blaming themselves, identifying causative factors and finding ways to get parents back together a la “Parent Trap” style. Guiding children on the path to understanding requires everyone to be involved and committed to the well-being of the children. I look forward to learning more.

The children are now older, 14 and 16. I wonder if I really need to have a conversation with their mom. Is it really necessary at this point? (Mrs. Pinkett-Smith would LOVE your viewpoint on this!). Now that his son is with us, I’ve decided to have a seat at my figurative square table with its sharp pointy edges. Its definitely not as smooth as Mrs. Pinkett-Smith’s lovely red round table which speaks completeness and understanding. I divulge as much information and teaching about life as gently as I can on our platform. Thankfully, hubby and I are a united front.

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Today I worked my ass off….

I first assisted in 5 surgeries and covered two operating rooms. It’s tiring but it’s also hella exciting. I love what I do.

I love being a Physician Assistant.

A Physician Assistant, to those who are wondering, is a mid-level health practitioner also known as a physician extender.  In 2017, Forbes magazine listed Physician Assistant as #7 of the 25 Highest Paying Jobs in the U.S. We are trained in a medical model (like a doctor) and function as an independent practitioner.  (https://www.forbes.com/pictures/feki45eigdm/7-physician-assistant/#113418977c98).

PAs can:

  • See and examine patients
  • Prescribe medications
  • Order and interpret diagnostic tests
  • Formulate diagnoses and treatment plans
  • Perform surgical procedures: e.g. suturing wounds, placement of access catheters, place casts
  • First and second assist in surgeries

Everything we do is under the direction and supervision of a physician. It’s a promising career with many benefits but choosing the right position in the right area is essential.

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

Education

When I started as a PA almost 15 years ago, there were 7 PA programs in NYC.  At that time, most programs were offering Bachelor’s Degrees, some were combined degree undergraduate programs and maybe one or two offering Master’s Degree programs.  Now, there are 21 programs in New York. Most programs now offer a Master’s Degree.

Entry requirements vary from program to program. To obtain a Master’s degree, a bachelor’s degree is required.  Prerequisites for admission include, but are not limited to the following coursework:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Chemistry (Inorganic and Organic)
  • Statistics
  • Psychology
  • Social Sciences
  • English Composition

In addition, a minimum of 500 volunteer hours in an observed patient care environment are required for admission. Some programs require 1000 hours. Volunteering is not limited to shadowing a physician assistant. Shadowing a physical therapist, medical doctor or even a medical assistant counts towards observed patient care. An applicant can also volunteer in an office or a hospital setting.

The duration of a PA program is from 24 to 36 months. The program is usually split in two sections didactic and clinical. Didactic is primarily learning basic and medical sciences. Clinical is a hands-on environment in a hospital or clinic with direct patient care. Every program organizes their didactic and clinical years differently.

Physician Assistant Pay

The Bureau of Labor Statistics websites states in May 2016 the median annual wage for physician assistants was $101,480. Pay varies by state and discipline.  A PA in surgery and surgical sub-specialties will likely earn more than a PA in internal medicine, family practice and pediatrics.  (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physician-assistants.htm)

Photo by Martin Shreder on Unsplash

Career Outlook

As the need for mid-level providers increases, the need for physician assistants becomes more pressing.  Physician assistant employment is projected to grow 37 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

The role of PAs are more prevalent. Years ago when I was asked by my patients, family, friends or a stranger on the street what I did, no one really knew what a physician assistant was. I was asked if I was a just a nurse or medical assistant. I was asked if I can really see patients AND write prescriptions.  I was asked if a physician could really trust my judgement. I would need to explain what I did and what I was qualified to do over and over again.  My grandmother, one of my biggest cheerleaders, would readily say “Well, my granddaughter is a Physician Assistant!” when everyone else was still trying to understand.

Now….

I don’t need to explain as much anymore. Most people now have been seen by a physician assistant in lieu of or before being seen by a physician. Now with states allowing physician assistants more autonomy there shouldn’t be as much hesitancy as in the past.

PAs work in many fields including internal medicine, family practice, pediatrics, surgery and even anesthesia.  As I said previously, finding the right place to work is essential for a PA.  In my case, I was always looking for autonomy and working with the right physician that would trust me enough to do what I was trained to do.

The Nitty-Gritty

There are some very good and not so good things about being a PA. What it boils down to is what YOU want. I’m speaking from my experience only. But  read this first.

PROS

1. Flexibility

One of the best perks of being a PA is the ability to switch careers without going back to school. If a physician decided to leave the world of surgery behind and become say a psychiatrist (I know someone that did this) a fellowship is requires in that field. That’s an additional 1 to 2 years of a person’s life not to mention the drop in salary.  As a PA you can switch careers from Emergency Medicine to Otolaryngology or Surgery to Pediatrics. Being a PA is an on the job kind of learning and there are definitely steep learning curves when switching specialties. However, if you are motivated, eager to learn and have a good work ethic then switching should be a breeze and easy on your pocket.

2. Salary
The pay of PAs has improved dramatically in the last 10 years. As the PA field increases as well as the autonomy, the salary is expected to go up. A new graduate can easily make $90,000 right out of school. This is far more than a medical or surgical resident will earn in their training. Fifteen years ago PAs were making about $55,000 out of school. Newly graduated Registered Nurses were making about $65,000 to $70,000. PAs have come a long way!

3. Autonomy

As written above I can see patients, formulate diagnoses and direct treatment as well as prescribe medications. I can discuss all with my supervising physician but every step doesn’t need to be followed or discussed. I’m not attached to the hip of my physician but he is a phone call away. PAs can be Directors of a service e.g.  surgery, anesthesia or purely administrative like a Chief Operating Officer.  There are PAs that are freelancers. For example, a surgically trained physician assistant can travel and work locum tenems as a first assistant in the operating room at various hospitals.  The scope of practice for PAs has definitely increased.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

CONS

1. MD vs PA

As much as PAs are being recognized as mid-level providers or physician extenders, there are still many who have reservations about working with PAs or even accepting a working diagnosis/treatment plan from a PA. There are many doctors whom I have come across who feel that a PA is “acting like a doctor” and therefore trying to replace a doctor.  FALSE!!! This is so far from the truth.  We are trained to think like doctors but we cannot replace a doctor. PAs can have their own practice but will still require a physician to review charts. PAs can deliver care in a private office setting but notes are still signed by a supervising physician. We can’t replace doctors.

There are also doctors who will not listen or accept a PAs diagnosis or treatment because the MD is not behind that PA’s name.   Unfortunately, this mindset does not stop with MD. It can come from nurses and even patients. I remember doing an ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) class in a class full of nurses. PAs weren’t trusted or even seen as providers. I’ve also had patients refuse to be seen by me and wanted a doctor. When this first happened to me, I was offended and upset. Eventually, I learned and understood the patient has a choice on whom he or she wants to be seen by. Its not something I could control however, I could take a moment to educate this patient about a PA’s role in their care. I also got some small joy having the patient leave my clinic room and tell him or her to please wait when the next physician became available :)).

2. Being a PA ≠ Medical Assistant

As much as I hate to say it, being a PA can border on a medical assistant, depending on where you are working.  To be fair, being in the medical field definitely requires a good deal of paper pushing. There are so many FORMS to fill out. From disability forms to return to work letters, there are a plethora of forms.  When working in a clinic, I was given forms to fill out ALL THE TIME. Even when its not a patient I’ve seen or treated. I would fill out the form and give it to my supervising physician to sign (his hand was broken up until that point). Also when you are working with Resident physicians (physicians who are learning), the forms get pushed to you more because the residents don’t have time (not really) to fill it out. (This is a SUPER sore subject with me).  I will say this doesn’t happen everywhere BUT be aware depending upon where you work, its a strong possibility that you may become the Physician Medical Assistant.

Ultimately, its important that once you are a PA, find a position that allows you have as much autonomy as possible (if you want autonomy, that is).

Featured Photo by: Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

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As a physician assistant, I’m a big fan of wellness. I try to teach wellness in my church and promote it to my family and friends. The state of wellness is in my opinion very important for your body. Wellness improves your mind as well as your spirit. It reduces stress which is a known contributor to multiple issues e.g weight gain, overeating and poor sleep just to name a few.

Wellness, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal”.  Yoga, for example,  promotes wellness because it brings focus. Exercise along with healthy eating promotes wellness.

My wellness outlet is going to a spa.  In fact this past weekend, I just returned from Viana Hotel and Spa in Westbury, NY. This was part of my annual spa getaway weekend with my mother and grandmother.  For the past two years we went to the Spa at Forrestal in the Princeton Marriott in Princeton, NJ.  It took a long time to convince myself and then my mom the idea of getting a massage and (gasp!) a facial.  My grandmother, the bad ass that she is, was always into pampering herself.

While in college and living off of Taco Bell and Cup of Noodles, I remembered hearing about my colleagues going to get a massage and how enjoyable it was.  I was concerned because I thought it was just too expensive ($120 and up? What??!!) Also I didn’t think I knew how I felt about some stranger touching my body. When I worked a Harlem Hospital, an administrator told me she went to get a massage at least once a week and it was necessary for her peace of mind.  I was intrigued. I wanted to treat myself as well. I was working like a dog and  feeling like after a week I hadn’t done a damn thing to make myself feel better.  Plus, I was getting paid!!  Long were the days of the struggling college student. I was a full-fledged Physician Assistant.  It was time to do me.

Photo by 贝莉儿 NG on Unsplash

Massage Therapy has shown to be beneficial for anxiety, reducing blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion, headaches and insomnia. I tend to carry my stress in my shoulders and because of that I usually suffer neck and upper back pain. In addition, I have plantar fasciitis in both of my feet (not sure what this is, read about it here ).  Having a massage forces me to relax and clear my head. I just let everything that bothers me roll off my shoulders.  My pain is much improved and my stress is reduced.

Facials are part of my wellness treatment as well. Massaging the face helps to promote blood flow as well as drain lymphatics. Most aestheticians, use cleansing and moisturizing treatments to open pores and get deep cleansing of the skin.  Facials have been known to decrease the signs of aging and overall improve the health of your skin.

Most people shy away from going to a spa because of expense.  There are a variety of spas available that offer specials and reduced pricing especially around special moments like Mother’s & Father’s day as well as holiday specials.  Girl’s weekend getaway are golden times to snatch a great deal.  When searching for spa deals, Living Social and Groupon have great deals.  I found many spas via both. If you are into traveling, try a massage abroad.  Getting a Thai massage in THAILAND is not only amazing but economical as massages can be as little as $8.

  

Here are my suggestions for local spas in the New York City Area:

  • Tai Chi Daing Spa,  76-16 Woodside Avenue, Elmhurst, NY 11373, best massage deal ever!! $40 for 1 hr massage and includes hot stone
  • Laura’s Beauty Touch, 97-20 66th Ave, Rego Park, NY 11374 – prefer the facials here and has deals on Groupon
  • Origo Spa, 49 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013, unassuming hidden gem, excellent facial and massage

Beyond NYC, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • The Spa at Forrestal at Princeton Marriott, 100 College Rd E, Princeton, NJ 0854
  • Viana Hotel and Spa, 3998 Brush Hollow Rd, Westbury, NY 11590
  • Minerals Resort and Spa,  1 Stonehill Dr, Vernon Township, NJ 07462
  • Elements Spa, Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountain, 1 Great Wolf Dr, Scotrun, PA 18355
  • Element 5 Day Spa, 1 Market Square, Saint John, NB E2L 4Z6, Canada

If you are new to massage or haven’t had a massage in a while, be aware that you may have muscle pain. This is normal and resolves in a couple of days to 2 weeks.

SPA AT HOME

If for any reason you are not able to get a massage, consider creating a spa at home.  Aromatherapy is an awesome method of creating a spa environment in the home.  Natural oils like lavender,  lemongrass, lemon, eucalyuptus are wonderful to relax and heal. Here of some of the properties of the oils above:

  • Lavender: reduce anxiety and stress, treat insomnia, anti-inflammatory, soothes dry irritated skin, hair growth
  • Lemongrass: elevates mood, boosts immune system, relieves anxiety, stimulates the nerves
  • Lemon: brightens skin, relieves stress, reduces insomnia, aids in weight loss, assists in digestion and reduces acid reflux
  • Eucalyptus: improves breathing, reduce stress, relieves muscle pain and soreness

These oils in addition to rosemary and peppermint are great for use in burning as candles, oil diffusers. Oils can be mixed together to create a wonderful atmosphere of relaxation.

Hand in hand with aromatherapy is meditation. Meditation allows calming of our mind and elevation of our mood.  To meditate in you house, find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. Sit in a comfortable chair and make sure your back is straight. Take 10 minutes and close your eyes. Play soothing music if needed and take 10 deep breaths through your nose and release air through your mouth. Allow yourself to drift away in the quiet. Do this as often as needed to achieve relaxation and reduce stress.

Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

In lieu of facials, consider finding a great regimen of cleansing, toning and moisturizing your skin. In addition, treat yourself to a masque and deep cleansing once a week. When applying your cleansing product and/or deep cleaner/scrub, it’s important to apply the product to your face in a circular motion. As stated previously, this increases blood flow and gently removes dead cells. There are many products out there to try, however I like Origins brand. There is a great deal of trial and error to find products you prefer and that work well for you.

With any products there is always a chance of allergic reaction so be careful of your choices in oils and facial products.

Where are your favorite places to get a massage and/or facial? Has having a massage helped you?

***Sources:

  • Mayo Clinic, Stress Management, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/massage/art-20045743
  • Organic Facts, https://www.organicfacts.net/
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Two years ago, I read a blog of a UK woman who was sharing her story about being a stepmother. She was so earnest about her feelings about her stepchildren as well as not being a mother herself. Her emotions were raw and unapologetic. It was a relief to see someone who expressed what I felt. I didn’t feel so guilty. But I also had a feeling of tremendous sadness of seeing my feelings written in black and white.

She wrote about the disappointment when the kids were there with her and their father.  The kids were stealing time away from her that she should be spending with her husband. She also explained she did not mind when they left to be with their mother.  She admitted to herself that she not only did not but could not love these kids as her own because she didn’t give birth to them. There was a fondness for the children but not the agape love a mother would have.  The difficulty of acceptance especially from her stepdaughter was especially trying. At the end of the article, she did not ask for forgiveness for what she had written.

Being a stepmother is not easy especially when you don’t have kids of your own.  The “type” of stepmother you decide to be is a choice. You can either act like you are not involved or you can act like you actually give a shit about the kids you are helping to raise. The difficult part of when you care is how the kids (and their mother) see you.  In my case, I’m the stranger/odd woman out/intruder/destroyer of relationships. The maid/cook OR just someone not important enough to engage in conversation beyond the forced “Hellos” and “Good-byes”. Sometimes I feel like I’m shut out of  the kids lives completely. Whatever that is going on with them is their business yet includes their mom and dad.  I may walk into a situation where there is something brewing and not know what the hell is going on. Totally caught off guard.

The other part of being a stepmother is that you won’t get the love from your stepchildren that their father and mother receives. Maybe it will happen with time. I don’t know. Not having a child of your own, in my opinion, adds to that weight and hurt. Is just being nice and talking sweetly enough to grow that love?

First let me say, the kids are good kids.  I met them when they were 7 and 11.  Generally, they have manners (although that often required reorientation with me) and behave well around others.  We didn’t have to worry about yelling  “get down” or “don’t do that” when out in public.   Not surprising, I wasn’t readily accepted by the kids when I first entered my husband’s life.  I was seen as stealing their father and, worse for his daughter, I was stealing her “DADDY’. His son liked me well enough and often hugged me when I first came around.  His daughter was and still continues to be a struggle.  My husband, thankfully, made sure the kids knew I was going to be a part of his and their lives. He would also rectify the moment he noted any disrespect.  But what can I say these are kids. Their emotions run anywhere and everywhere.  I tried to put myself in an understanding mode and wonder what their thoughts were:

  1. Mom and dad are no longer together. Their questions would be: why? and why can’t you get back together? what did we do?  I was question #4 – is she the reason you can’t get back together?
  2. Who is this new woman in your life? Do we have to like her?
  3. Why are we moving between 2  households?
  4. How does mommy feel about your new woman? (more about this later….)

AAANNNNNDDDD now they are teenagers! So there is much more to deal with.

THE ROLE OF THE BIOLOGICAL MOTHER

When dating my husband in 2011, a woman at my church spoke to me about her experience with being a stepmother to her husband’s children.  They were, in her words, difficult. They did not like her and would not speak to her. Despite everything their father did, the kids would not bend.  Enter their mother: she spoke to them about how she and their father would no longer be together and they had both moved on. In addition, she demanded her kids respect their father’s new wife. It was after the kids became more accepting of their stepmother. The woman at my church explained there must be a level of maturity with the biological mother to allow for this.

Jada Pinkett-Smith, wife of Will Smith, wrote an open letter on Facebook about “Blended Families” in 2013.  Essentially she mentioned that when three parents are involved in raising children, everyone has to put their differences aside to do what’s best for the kids. Once again maturity was discussed.

Header Photo: Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash  Photo above: by Nathaniel Tetteh on Unsplash

The takeaway from all of this is that your life as a stepmother is incumbent upon the biological mother and her level of maturity. There are definitely other factors but I can only speak on what I know and experienced.  I’ve NEVER formally met the children’s mother. She’s never introduced herself. When our paths cross, I say a quick “Hi” for which the response is an eye-roll and turned up lip. I would expect a woman would want to know who is else is involved with raising her kids. NOPE I got nothing!

Things were already strained between my husband and his ex when we were in the dating stage. The lingering idea of us getting married just made things worse. There were accusations of taking the kids away from her although the kids were more with my husband prior to me entering the picture.  The kids would leave one week and come back two weeks later looking at me as if I had done something wrong. All types of eye-rolling and fake smiles. The interactions were different. If I built a great repertoire in a short period of time I was with them, I had to start from scratch when they came back. Worse yet, the kids were coming over less and less and my husband would not see his kids for days or even months.  When I read the article from Jada Pinkett-Smith, it had been two years that my husband and I were dating and were making plans to get married in 2015.  I already knew to get to “Blended Family” status was not an easy road and would take years to achieve.

Its 2018…. it’s getting worse.

For whatever reason, the children’s mom are not allowing their father to take an active role in their lives. She is secretive about what the children are doing. When she no longer has any control that’s when she calls for my husband’s involvement. But then the secrets start again. The children are in the middle. Lying because they don’t know what to say or not to say. Trying to keep everything quiet as instructed. Dropping comments that only an adult would say. Its like psychological warfare on the kids. It’s indirect baby mama drama.

As a stepmother, you have to take a step back and realize your role.  I must play the good parent throughout the lying, disrespect and falsehoods being imprinted in the children’s minds. I’ve had to bite my tongue more times than I can count. And honestly, I never speak a word of evil of the children’s mother in front of them or to them. I encourage respect, responsibility and discipline because that was how I raised. My role also includes supporting my husband.  My feelings aside, this is a man and father who is not allowed to take a role he desperately wants to fill. I have to help uplift him when he is tore down.

So this is an unraveling story. Only time will tell what happens next.

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Just my jumbled rambled thoughts of the day…

Today is my first day with this blog. I have so many things I want to write about being a stepmother, a wife, a Physician Assistant…

Stay tuned

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