May 3, 2007, Vol. V Issue 9
Tired of being tired? That’s the main reason over 600 women showed up for Providence St. Peter’s “Heart to Heart” program with Mary Ann Bauman, MD, in Olympia, Washington, last month. Dr. Bauman is the author of Fight Fatigue: Six Simple Steps to Maximize Your Energy. As a medical doctor, she’s seen her fair share of tired women. Surprisingly, she didn’t talk so much about the physical stresses that might ail us but more about the emotional stresses that drain our tanks. “We lose our energy bit by bit by bit. We over-extend, juggle balls, and don’t pay any attention to ourselves. We make assumptions about how someone is going to react to something. We cause our own stress,” she told us. Hmm, that got my attention. I’m glad I was there and I’m happy to share a few of her ideas with you in this issue.
May is a month for celebrating women. Mother’s Day kicks off National Women’s Health Week and nurses (men, too, of course) will be appreciated during National Nurses Week, May 6 -12, at hospitals nationwide. And there’s a brand new day to commemorate — May 15, 2007 is the first Freedom from Self-Improvement Day. Now that may sound like a strange recommendation from someone who promotes motivational speakers. Read on – you’ll find out why I’m on board!
I realize this a long issue, but it’s all timely, so hang on. My goal is always to make it worth YOUR time and I welcome your comments.
Tired of Being Tired?
“Fatigue is the number one reason women come to the doctor,” Dr. Mary Ann Bauman, told the women in Olympia. “As a primary care doctor, I have done the medical evaluations for fatigue on hundreds of women who are tired. After doing all the tests that might explain the symptoms, the tests usually all come back normal.
“However, I am still left with a woman who is tired and who is looking to me for an answer. She wants to have the energy to satisfy her obligations and enjoy life. It’s frustrating for the patient to be told all is fine and it’s frustrating for the doctor when we can’t help our patients to feel better.”
It was this mutual dissatisfaction that led her to search for an approach that would help women re-claim their energy. Although she is an internist, she had always been drawn to the mind and its immense influence over our well being. Repeatedly, both in the studies she read and in her own on-the-job experiences, she was struck by the clear links between emotional and physical health.
“The mind-body connection is happening in your body whether you like it or not,” she said. “If you don’t feel good emotionally, you won’t feel good physically.
While fatigue is the number one reason women go to the doctor, that’s not true for men. She wondered why. In looking at the differences in how we approach our tasks, our relationships and the challenges in our lives, she discovered that the very same nurturing spirit that makes women such devoted moms and caretakers is also responsible for our energy crises. Just as she was observing this, the medical literature on the importance of the mind-body connection began to explode.
“Putting this altogether, I began to look at my patients’ energy woes in a different light. I began to explore not just the demands on them but also how they interpreted those demands, how they felt about them, and why they continued to do things they didn’t want to do for people they didn’t like.
“Self-esteem, is probably not what you were expecting to hear about tonight,” she said, “but self-esteem and energy are intricately linked. Men learn it comes from accomplishment. Women learn it comes from relationship. Neither is right or wrong, but because women get their self-esteem from relationships, we risk being people-pleasers — at the risk of our physical and mental well being. Identifying and understanding your reactions to people and situations has practical consequences to your energy balance.”
In her book, Fight Fatigue, Mary Ann outlines a six-step process for re-claiming and maximizing your energy. With acute awareness that women already have more than enough to do in our lives, she designed the steps as something to fit into your life, not something to add to it. It does require commitment, but it’s designed to be implemented during your regular daily activities.
“We’re on a journey to figure out why we do what we do, so we can take the behaviors we do well and nurture them, and take the bad ones and change them. It’s important to know why you do what you do. You will never change behavior if you are not aware of it. You have to discover why you do what you do.”
Providence St. Peter’s Heart to Heart events are held at the Washington Center, a performing arts center in downtown Olympia. For an hour before the talk, women enjoyed healthy munchies, informational displays, screenings and chair massages. Janice Ewing, Public Relations Coordinator, told me how much she appreciated Mary Ann’s responsiveness during the planning process. “She was so easy to work with. I always got an answer from her right away and the evening of her appearance was totally carefree.”
And, from Deborah Shawver, Marketing and Communications Director: “Mary Ann Bauman provides unique insights into causes and solutions for fatigue that so many women experience. She is a high-energy, inspiring speaker.”
Personally, I was impressed that (as a medical doctor) her talk was enhanced by stories, and it was delivered without PowerPoint, both notes- and podium-free. I admit a preference for speakers who prefer to walk around on the stage and engage with the audience rather than stand behind a podium. That isn’t to say there aren’t some very fine podium speakers. It’s simply a distinction I notice as a professional. Learn more about Dr. Mary Ann Bauman on our website.
Mary Marcdante: National Spokesperson for American Greetings Mother-Daughter Cards
You may hear a familiar name in the news in the next few days as author and inspirational speaker Mary Marcdante hits the airwaves. She’s been named national spokesperson for American Greetings Mother-Daughter cards for Mother’s Day 2007, and launches a national satellite radio tour today.
As the author of My Mother, My Friend, Mary is a natural for the role. In the research for her book she found that of all the feedback women receive in their many roles in life, “appreciation” is the one-quality moms crave most from their families. “Ideally, mothers and daughters should make it a point to express appreciation for each other every time they connect — through words, actions and just spending time together,” Mary said. “So often, women don’t fully realize how important this relationship is to both of them until the daughter becomes a mother herself, or one of the two experiences a major turning point like a divorce, a job relocation or a health issue.”
Mary speaks from experience. For her, it was the diagnosis of her mother’s ovarian cancer that drew the two closer together and increased their mutual awareness of the special bond they shared. “From the moment I learned of the diagnosis until my Mom’s death, I felt like I was in graduate school, cramming the night before finals for a course called: ‘Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Your Mother and Forgot to Ask,’” Mary said. “This experience prompted me to write my book and reach out to other daughters to help them build their relationships with their mothers.”
Mary said Mother’s Day provides daughters with a perfect opportunity to build on their relationships with their mothers, and that often cards are a great way to break the ice. “Cards can really help out, because often, they express words that are in our hearts but we may have trouble communicating,” Mary said. “They provide a very tangible way to let mothers know just how much they mean to us. Ultimately, the gift of time and acceptance of each other — flaws as well as strengths – is the most meaningful gift mothers and daughters can give each other on Mother’s Day.”
In addition to My Mother, My Friend, Mary also has written Living with Enthusiasm and Inspiring Words for Inspiring People. A resident of San Diego, California, she is a contributing author to five Chicken Soup books and A Woman’s Way To Success in Business, and a contributing relationship expert on www.iVillage.com. She has spoken to over 250,000 people and presented more than 1,500 speeches, seminars and workshops worldwide. Learn more about Mary Marcdante on our website.
National Women’s Health Week
The 8th annual National Women’s Health Week runs from May 13 through May 19, 2007 with the theme, “It’s Your Time: Pamper Your Mind, Body and Spirit.” Two of the goals are to celebrate extraordinary progress in women’s health and bring attention to and create understanding of women’s health issues.
At Oregon Health Science University’s (OHSU), 12th Annual Women’s Health Conference last Saturday, Joanna Cain, MD, Director of the Center for Women’s Health said in her introductory remarks, that we’re reaching a tipping point in women’s health. She pointed out that we now have ten years of gender-based research — research that wouldn’t exist if a law requiring the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to do clinical trials for women had not been passed ten years ago.
“The fruits of that kind of research are just beginning to be picked,” she said. “This is a critical time in women’s health – when the new information from studies that women fought so hard to get instituted are beginning to come out and should change how women should be taken care of.” Dr. Cain also urged the attendees to continue taking action by letting our legislators know our concerns and interests in women’s health and passing on what we learn at conferences to others who couldn’t attend.
Other goals of the national women’s health week are to encourage women to get regular check-ups, provide free or reduced fee screenings for women nationwide, and educate women about steps they can take to improve their physical and mental health and prevent disease. If you go to the website, you’ll find a link to The WOMAN Challenge, an 8-week program, starting Mother’s Day, to increase physical activity. It has online support similar to the “Lighten Up America” that I wrote about in our last issue.
May 15 — Freedom from Self-Improvement Day
When I first read about “Freedom from Self-Improvement Day,” I was intrigued – and inspired. Images of cleaning my shelves of half-read self-help books danced in my head. I had to know more. This is the brainchild of Jennifer Louden, bestselling author of all of the Woman’s Comfort Books – including The Woman’s Retreat Book. Make a note of that, retreat planners, Jennifer is a skilled retreat presenter and facilitator.
I met Jennifer for the first time just a couple of months ago when she was on book tour with her newest book, The Life Organizer: A Woman’s Guide to a Mindful Year. I thoroughly enjoyed her workshop and have been working on and off with my own life organizer — but that’s another story for another time. Back to that freedom day she’s declaring for us self-help junkies: “Self-improvement is a one-way ticket to misery,” Jennifer says. “Instead, the path to happiness and fulfillment starts with acceptance of who and where you are.”
“Beating ourselves up because our thighs aren’t thin enough, or because we still haven’t perfected the art of ‘positive thinking’ hasn’t made us happier or the world a better place,” says Jennifer, “Inner peace through endless self-improvement only serves to make us endlessly dissatisfied and disappointed. The biggest paradox in trying to change ourselves is that nothing happens until we embrace who and how we are right now, imperfections, perceived flaws and all.”
Oh, yes, now. NOW. That thing I keep trying to be in, which of course, I can’t possibly be in if I’m TRYING to be in it. If you’ve read any self-help books, you know, like I do, that trying is worthless. Okay, sign me up NOW for “Freedom From Self Improvement Day.” If I call you that day, do not take my call.
“I want to give people a taste of freedom from the constant litany of ‘shoulds,’ ‘don’ts,’ and ‘musts’ that fill our brains,” says Jennifer.
As for me, I think I’ll clean my bookshelves. How about you? What do you think? Until next time, be good to yourself for your good health and those you love.
Yours truly in good health,