An open letter to Mike Pence, umm great blog post, about the ridiculous societal discourse in certain circles re: women’s clothing, appearance, and simple act of being female in the presence of men.

This kind of socialization, as the blogger describes it, has so many consequences for women: body-shame, low self esteem, wage and promotion inequities, victim blaming in cases of rape and sexual assault. The list goes on and on. The consequences are real.

Let’s not raise our boys to think this is normal. Especially important now since our President perpetuates one extreme where men get a free pass for any kind of behavior, even criminal acts, if they happened to be ‘turned on’ by a woman and our Vice-President perpetuates the other extreme wherein merely being alone with a woman might cause him to have feelings of arousal so he won’t do it.

http://weareezer.com/2017/06/26/i-dont-accommodate-uncontrolled-men/

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To ring in the new year!

We decided to throw a last minute holiday event recently mostly owing to the fact that I had a blazer and shoes that NEEDED to be worn. This a a ball drop outfit to be sure, especially the heels. Happy New Year! 
Blazer: Rebecca Minkoff Silk with Sequined shawl collar (Nordstrom Rack)

Top: Pleione tuxedo ruffle sleeveless blouse (Nordstrom) 

Pants: St John Tuxedo pants Knit with leather (Nordstrom)

Shoes: Michael Kors Leather platform sandels with vero cuoio sole and bedazzled heels (Nordstrom Rack)

Why I changed my mind about Colin Kaepernick, and you should, too.

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I, as an individual, am as pretty WASP-y as you can get. I am white, middle class, Protestant, grew up mostly in the South, and come from a military family – my grandfather was in the Army, my brother was in the Marines, and I have 3 uncles who served in the Navy.  So, when I first heard about and subsequently saw Colin Kaepernick’s response to the National Anthem, it stung. 

Okay, I’m hedging. It more than stung. I thought it was disrespectful and I flat out disagreed with it. 

Yeah, yeah, my family members served to preserve his right of free speech, I get it. Now, I am not in any way going to condone his other choices, but I am going to specifically address his choice to kneel during the National Anthem. I thought what he was doing was wrong.

I now realize I am the one that was wrong, and here is why.

I have written previously regarding my feelings about the current state of our country, working alongside members of law enforcement every day, being married to a black man, and being the mother of two biracial boys. The current level of violence in this country, American citizen on American citizen, is nauseating. And we are scared – black, white, police, non-police. 

WE ARE SCARED. 

For each other, our neighbors, our friends, our husbands, our wives, our sons, our daughters. And we are letting that FEAR WIN. I have realized… even in 2016, we are still very much of country of “us” vs “them”.

I have listened to so many people talk about how Colin Kaepernick is being disrespectful by kneeling. Military, non-military, men, women…. but all mostly white. 

And that got me thinking. I started thinking about race relations in this country, and I started thinking about my own family, and my fears for my children. If I had something to say, once my children started driving and I began to pray for them to come home safely every night… not just in fear of a car accident, but in fear of them getting shot… How could I draw attention to it? How could I get my voice heard? How could I start a national conversation to actually help the situation, and make some progress?

So I had to ask myself, how do “we” (White America) want “them” (Black America) to protest? To show their fear? To demonstrate their pain? 

We complained in the 1960s with sit-ins and boycotts (“they are interrupting businesses”), we judge harshly with riots (“they are being violent”), and the church prayer meetings largely get ignored. So how, in this day and age, are we going to allow a population of people in the United States, the “land of the free” be heard? How are “we” going to allow “them” to start a conversation with “us”?

My guess is, Colin Kaepernick is scared for this country. I know I am. 

As a trauma surgeon, I am the one behind the scenes, with my hands covered in the blood of the injured. Their blood not only stains my skin, it stains my soul

The patients I have lost live forever in my mind. Enough blood has already been spilled onto our streets. With all the violence that is happening, why can’t we prioritize our feelings and support a non-violent means of expression? He is nonviolently expressing his fear, his anger over what is happening by kneeling. He’s not turning his back. He’s not burning anything. He isn’t breaking into a building, or throwing rocks at police. He is kneeling, which is still a position of respect. A man kneels to ask a woman to become his wife. People kneel to pray. And he is bringing attention to an issue that should be in all of our minds and on all of our hearts.

As Americans, regardless of race, we should be encouraging non-violent means of communication, and kneeling during our National Anthem, is one of them. I’m not saying everyone should sign up for the Colin Kaepernick fan club, but what I am saying is that we should stop focusing on the how of the protest and start focusing on the why of the protest. The only way for there to not be an “us” and “them” is to allow each other to not only speak, but also to be heard.  

So, White America, I encourage all of us to put on the hearing aids, and start listening.

If only we treated our parents like our pets – Death, Dying, and Dignity in America

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Otis was our first baby. He was covered in a caramel colored fur, weighed 150 pounds and was the best Bullmastiff dog anyone could ask for. He protected me from my husband’s incessant tickle attacks and thought that my lap was the best place for him to try and sit.

Two years ago, I was walking Otis and he suddenly collapsed. After an extensive workup including an EKG, blood work and an ultrasound of his heart by the doggie Cardiologist (yes, they do exist), we started him on a new regimen of medications for his heart failure. It cost $300 a month but was worth every penny – almost overnight he was a new dog, back to his usual daily routine and enjoying all the activities he loved most in the world.

About a year later though, he started declining again. His favorite spot to sleep was on the floor, right next to my side of the bed. But our bedroom was upstairs, and he just couldn’t make it anymore. He had to sleep by himself. He couldn’t go on walks. He slowly but surely began to get left out of family activities, and for a dog who was as much a part of our family as a pet could be, this was life-altering. He couldn’t participate in any activity which had previously given him joy. He was becoming more and more isolated, becoming physically separated from the people he loved most in the world.

That’s when I knew – it was time to say goodbye. It still hurts, but I know it was the most unselfish and loving thing I could do – focus on him, his wants and his needs, instead of me and my own.

As a trauma and critical care surgeon, all too often I see families struggle in the intensive care unit with loved ones who have devastating diagnoses and injuries.

Now if only most of us treated our parents and loved ones as we do our pets – knowing and respecting their wishes, valuing the quality of their life over the quantity.

Granted, I never had to ask Otis what he enjoyed in life, what his priorities were or what kind of life he wanted to lead – it was pretty self-evident. Your loved ones are clearly more complicated than that, and that’s even more reason their wishes should be known. Do they want to be kept alive by machines with no hope of a recovery that would allow them to participate in their favorite activities? Or be able to participate in relationships with their family? Do they want you to try everything no matter what the outcome might be? If they cease to enjoy eating and can’t communicate anymore, do they want you to put a feeding tube in them? These are the types of questions and conversations that I implore you to ask and have with your family members – no matter their age, no matter how healthy they are at this very moment, because things can change for any of us… in an instant.

In situations like these, my role as the intensive care physician caring for your family member is to find out what HE or SHE would want if they could speak for him or herself, not what anyone else wants. But I’ll never know your loved one like you do. I don’t know what they value in life, what they hold most dear. That’s why I need YOU to help me help them live or even die in the manner they’d want. Because let me tell you, there are a lot of things I can “do”. But your job is to help me make sure I’m doing these things for your loved one, not to them. I’m not asking you to make a decision, I’m asking you to tell me more about them. You aren’t “turning off” any machines, you’re telling me what kind of life your loved one wants… or doesn’t want, and it’s my job to help make that happen to the best of my ability.

Many of you may already know the answers to these tough questions, but I know just as many of you may not. Nope, it’s not going to be a fun conversation. You’re not going to enjoy it. But don’t let your fear of the conversation prevent you from being able to speak for your loved one because they physically can’t. Don’t let your discomfort then put you in a situation whereby you’re not honoring your loved one’s wishes, simply because you don’t know how they’d want their life to end. The greatest sign of love is selflessness – be selfless enough to have the conversation. Be selfless enough to honor their wishes. And know, when the time comes, you’re showing your love in the most profound way possible.

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The police lights flashed, and the 2012 Yukon Denali immediately pulled over.

The police officer got out, and began to walk to the vehicle.  As he approached the driver’s side of the vehicle, he saw the large black man behind the steering wheel and moved to put his hand on the butt of his gun.  The driver, sensing the change in dynamic, immediately shoved both hands out through the open window and called out it was okay for the officer to approach the car.

That “large black man” is my husband.

I was just featured in an article in Forbes, and I was chiding Americans for not discussing end of life topics with their loved ones just because it is uncomfortable.  However, I am ashamed to admit that I have fallen victim to this myself.  Dr. Brian Williams, a friend and colleague of mine, recently had an interview on CNN that reminded me of my own failure, because I have not addressed this aspect of my life before now.  And this was consciously done because I found it to be uncomfortable… But no more.

The situation occurring in America now can not tolerate any more non-discussion because the topic is “uncomfortable”… So here we go.

As a trauma surgeon, I have a wonderful and unique relationship with law enforcement. We work side by side, and a day never goes by without some interaction between myself and an officer or detective. We testify at trials and all too often we take care of them when they are injured. I treasure this relationship with the people who keep us safe. It is important to me, and one that I enjoy immensely. However, I know that I live in conflict.

I am married to an amazing man who has been my best friend for the past 16 years.  He happens to be black, and I happen to be white.  Although I know him to be the wonderful husband and father that he is, that he has so many accomplishments both from the football field and now in law school, I also know he is “just” a black man to the police.

I fear for him.  

Right after the shootings occurred in Dallas, I called him with tears in my eyes, and reminded him to be careful.  To make sure his tail lights always work.  To not go a single mile per hour over the speed limit.  To do everything in his power to prevent any encounter with law enforcement…  Because I know that his 6’6″ 300 pound frame makes people, and especially the police, nervous.

When we were in college together, I got sick with a terrible stomach flu, and he took me to the emergency department.  It was 3:00 in the morning because he was in 2 a days for football and we needed to get home before his early morning run.  Shortly after we arrived, another black man, approximately 5’10” and 160 pounds, entered the emergency department with blood on his face and shirt.  Two police officers entered the emergency department about 15 minutes later… One white, and one black.  The white officer beelined to my then boyfriend, now husband and began to question him, while the black officer watched.

Which leads me to my point… How can we make this better?  How can we prevent more innocent lives from being lost-  regardless of gender, race, or occupation? Because yes, All Lives Matter.

It has been a campaign in inner city communities “If you see something, say something”.  This is an effort to encourage community members to tell the police if they see illegal activity, to make their community better.

Well, quite frankly this movement needs to move across not only racial lines, but the Blue Line.  Police shootings should be investigated by an agency other than their own.  When a police officer sees another officer acting in an inappropriate way, or begin to question clearly the wrong black man, they need to be able to say something- to that officer, to their superior, whomever.

Far too many young black men fit an unfortunate stereotype.  We need to educate, provide opportunities and invest in their future so this stereotype no longer exists.

We need to engage each other… Black, white, law enforcement officer and civilian.  We need to have these difficult and uncomfortable conversations, and even more importantly as Dr. Williams so eloquently stated, we need to start Listening to each other, really listening.

I not only see, hear, and understand both sides of the coin, I live them.  I am in pain over the losses that our law enforcement agencies have suffered, as I view them all as friends and colleagues.  I relive in my mind my own patients that I could not save-law enforcement and civilian alike.

And I also fear for my husband.  I fear that one day he will get pulled over, and won’t come home to me.  We have got to start listening to one another, trying to view this situation from a perspective other than our own, and most of all…

The Shooting Has to Stop.

I am the proud mother of 2 boys, who are biracial.  My 4 year old looooves police cars.  Recently we were in Chicago, and these amazing CPD officers (thank you!) happily engaged my child who was so excited to see their vehicle.  They invited him to not only sit in the car, but to turn on the lights.  My son still, over a month later, talks about this day.

It breaks my heart that if things don’t change dramatically in our country, that I will one day have to tell him some things that will change his love for those flashing lights.

Although I have never posted any personal pictures on this page before, and certainly not of my children, I am going to change that today, for a reason.  I want to leave all of us with some hope, an image of innocence…

The image of a little boy in love with a police car.

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To my friends and colleagues in Dallas, to the victims and their families- my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Now, let’s all get uncomfortable, and change the conversation.

September 2014 Stitch Fix Review

 

I’m a little late posting this one, but this is my review for my September Stitch Fix box.  If you are not sure how Stitch Fix works, click here and read my first review. Jenny L was my stylist again, and did an awesome job… again 🙂  It was another perfect mix of requested pieces and surprises and everything fit well.

 

On to the fix…

 

 

1. Pixley June Polka dot skirt $58

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I’m starting with the only “miss” in the fix.  The fit was great, and the material was a thicker cotton with stretch.  However, the polka dots and navy and white color scheme were screaming spring and summer to me, instead of heading into fall, and overall the look is a little too preppy for me.

 

2. Pomelo Alan French Terry Asymmetrical Zip Cardigan $68

 

This was a requested piece, and I wanted to love it.  The material was amazingly soft and comfortable, but unfortunately much thinner than I had anticipated – so you can see every wrinkle from the overlapping fabric and every line from the jeans I wore with it.  This was a return.

 

3.  Amour Vert Alessandro Abstract Print BUtton Up Blouse $118

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Is it or is it not a 3/4 sleeve?  That is the question.  Well, let’s start with the positives – this is a very high quality piece – well made, seriously luxurious fabric (100% good quality silk)- and I believe worth the price tag.  I am usually not huge on prints, but I loved this one and the colors.  However, as you can see by the picture, it is waaay too long.  If you changed the material to a white cotton, it could be a nightgown.  Also, because I’m so petite, the sleeve length was not quite 3/4 and also not quite full length.  Unwillingly, this went back into the bag.

 

4. Kensie Shannon Lace Back Short Sleeve Blouse $68

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This was one of my surprises, and Jenny L. really hit the nail on the head with this one.  I loved it.  The lace detail on the sleeve and the back was beautiful.  I tried so hard to convince myself to keep this one, but it just wasn’t flattering.  I don’t necessarily mind a boxy cut, but the darts at the bust hit me below the bust and overall was just a little too big.  The sleeves although beautifully done, hit my arm at an awkward place also.  This is the piece that I tried on at least 4 times, and most reluctantly put back in the bag.  I am feeling a case of “Stitch Fix regret” coming on, I loved the style of this so much, but it just wasn’t flattering, dang it.

 

5. Margeret M Emer High Waisted Cropped Trouser $98

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So I received the blue version of these a few fixes ago and although I liked the fit, I wasn’t crazy about the blue color.  I asked to try these again in black, and so glad I received them!  The inseam is perfect, the pants fit perfectly for both work and play – fitted, but not tight – and they are comfortable!  I have already worn these twice since receiving (on a plane and for work) – perfect for traveling!

 

Overall, I am still so happy Jenny L. is my stylist and think she did a great job.  I loved all the pieces she sent except for the polka dot skirt.  This fix was again a perfect mix of requested pieces and some “surprises” that were awesome.  Ugh, there I go again thinking about the black lace shirt….

 

I am still enjoying Stitch Fix, and if you would like a “fix” yourself, here is my referral link to get started!