Monthly Archives: October 2014

An Open Letter to Medical Professionals

Dear Medical Professional,

When you treat me— or any other patient— you are entering into a health partnership with a human being and not a set of symptoms. Your ability to recognize and value this partnership will make the difference between providing real health care and just going through a checklist at best, or possibly causing more pain, distress, and ill health at worst.

I am very glad that you went to medical school. Your medical training gives you an expertise that I appreciate to keep me well, especially when I am sick. You are an expert on human illness and this is why I turn to you for help. But you are not an expert on me or my body. I am an expert on me. And you need our partnership to help you to provide quality health care to me.

We have to work together if I am to get and stay well. I welcome you as my health care partner and wish/hope that you reciprocate. Sadly, this partnership has not always been recognized when I have needed your colleagues. Please do not be offended when I tell you that your medical expertise is only as good as your ability to acknowledge our partnership in my health care. Unfortunately I have encountered medical professionals who have bullied me with their (mis)understanding of how far their medical expertise extends into the healing process.

Luckily, I have worked with plenty of great doctors. The quality of my life has been vastly improved because of their ability to work with me to overcome cancer and other scary diseases and injuries. Unfortunately I have also had a few who arrogantly treated me as a checklist of symptoms and not a person. They did not welcome my questions or my specific expertise on me. In other words, they did not recognize our partnership. This is not health care. This is the opposite of health and care.

Here are two recent examples:

During a routine colonoscopy, the doctor bruised me internally and then insisted it was impossible for me to be in pain from it. But the pain was so overwhelming that I ended up in the ER the next day. He refused to acknowledge that my pain was from his work, even though he had explained to me that he had been unable to finish the procedure after trying to for an extended period of time—think of being repeatedly poked inside your colon. Thank goodness this was my second colonoscopy, so I knew that his inability to complete the procedure and the resultant pain were not normal.

The second example came from in the ER, where I was rushed to after going to urgent care due the pain from the colonoscopy. After determining that I was not bleeding internally (yay!) the doctor prescribed the pain killer Vicodin. When I told her that I get nauseous from Vicodin, she insisted on prescribing it to me anyway. How does it help my pain to make me nauseous? Who treats a partner like this?

Both of these doctors insisted that their perspective was more beneficial to my health, even though this was obviously not the case. It is not routine to end up in the ER doubled over in pain after a colonoscopy. It is not routine to prescribe a medication that will make someone ill. Why did these two doctors maintain that their expertise on “human illness” was more valid than my ability to know myself?

So Medical Professional, if you want to provide both health and care to people, please, please, please listen to them. Welcome the health partnership that you are in with your patients. Do not insist that your medical training and knowledge is more valuable than what they are telling you about their own body. You are an expert in the general human population, but each of your patients has a vast array of experiences that will help you heal them. Ignoring their/our information will cause harm and ill-health—the opposite of why I assume you chose the medical profession.

Sincerely yours,
Heidi Sloss

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

My Mosaic Journey

Have you ever felt called to do something outside of your norm? I did last summer while I was attending my annual Women’s Initiation Retreat. In one of the meditations I had a vision of being called to put broken pieces together so when I returned home I came up with the idea of taking a class in mosaic making. I found a mosaic workshop about 20 minutes away and last month spent a day learning how to create a mosaic piece at the Mosaic Garden.

Me with the Visionary Goddess alter I built this year at the retreat that inspired my mosaic piece.






Here are the photos from my project.

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Step One:

The first step is to decide what you want your piece to be. It can be anything: abstract or not. I wrestled with this and finally decided to use symbols from the Visionary Goddess Robe from the retreat. The symbols I chose to use were wind, smoke (from the caldron) and feathers.




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Step Two:

Nancy Meyer showed me how to take my line drawings and transfer it to my piece using old fashioned carbon paper. Next up was layig out the broken tile pieces that she taught me how to break using her tile cutters. I chose various glass tiles that would show movement for the feathers and the smoke.



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Step Three:

I placed broken tiles on the piece in and around the “wind”, “feathers” and “smoke” and glued them down. This was one of two messy parts and I had to overcome my discomfort for having sticky stuff all over my fingers.





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Step Four:

All placed and glued. I must admit that when I looked at it at this point I wasn’t ‘seeing’ it that way I had been before, but I trusted that it would turn out the way it should.





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Step Five:

After mixing a little bit of blue colorant into the white grout, it was now time to add it to my piece. I used a sponge and my fingers to spread the grout all over the tile pieces. It wasn’t sticky so wasn’t as bothersome as the glue.




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Step Six:

All grouted, time to dry. Took only 5 to 10 minutes in the sun.






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Step Seven:

After scraping the grout off the tiles, I glued brown paper on the back and added a wall hanging hook.





Step Eight:

All Done!

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As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

45 Questions – Insider info on Heidi BK Sloss

Last summer I met Melisa Wells at the San Jose BlogHer 14 conference. Her blog, Suburban Scrawl is one that I like to read; she is a witty writer. Recently she posted a piece that I found fun: 50 Questions. So here is my version: 45 Questions, Just for Fun.

 1. What are you wearing?
A sundress from Fresh Produce. I bought it a few years ago and now have three different versions of the same dress. They are all cotton and comfy and perfect for the heat wave we are having in northern California.

2. Ever been in love?
Yes, lots of time. Last major time with a man was with my husband of 25+ years. Since then I have fallen in love with each of my kids when they were born.

3. Ever had a terrible break up?
Yes, many with guys before marriage; and several sad friendship breakups with women friends over the years. Some dramatic, some just drifting away.

4. How tall are you?
5’9” after a chiropractic adjustment.

5. How much do you weigh?
55 lbs less than I did on my 50th birthday!

6. Any tattoos?

7. Any piercings?
Yes, both ears, originally when I was 13 for my birthday. I then added two more when I was 16 or 17, but the later ones closed up years ago.

8. OTP (one true pair, favorite fictional couple) 
I am a sucker for love stories and sappy movies. I love watching couples who don’t have a clue at the beginning and then grow, through learning about themselves, to understand their need and capacity for loving. Like Monica and Chandler in Friends or any of Sandra Bullock’s or Hugh Grant’s characters in their romantic comedies.

9. Favorite show?
I have a VERY hard time with choosing a favorite anything. The minute I am asked my brain freezes up. I have watched every episode of Friends at least 4 times. My husband and I watch Parenthood and Scandal. I am also up to date on Downtown Abbey and wish they had shot more of Doc Martin.

10. Favorite band(s)?
I listen to classic rock radio stations and turn on jazz stations when we entertain. I also have a weakness for gospel music. In the car I mostly listen to the news stations and NPR.

11. Something you miss:
My kids, my family and friends who no longer live nearby. I also miss feeling connected to a community.

12. Favorite song:
I love listening to lots and lots of Broadway show tunes and 70s women’s music. But picking a favorite is too hard for me!

13. How old are you? 
Turning 54 on October 22

14. Zodiac sign?
Double Libra with a moon in Scorpio

15. Quality you look for in a partner?
I chose a man who is intelligent (picked the smartest man I knew with whom to have kids), great looking (he still rocks my world), can handle my intensity and has a great sense of humor (check on both!).

16. Favorite quote?
My all time favorite is: “Life is too short for this shit.” And: “No regrets!”

17. Favorite actor?
Really can’t do a favorite for this one. Not how I think. See my thoughts on favorities above.

18. Favorite color?
I love teal and wear it a lot. I also stitch a lot with teal and purple and pink.

19. Loud music or soft?
Question makes me feel old. If I like the song, then very, very, very loud.

20. Where do you go when you’re sad?
Home to my stitching or out to the yoga studio. Sometimes a long walk amongst old trees helps too.

21. How long does it take you to shower?
About ten minutes.

22. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
Depends on what I am getting ready for, the other day I was able to roll out of bed and be out of the house in less than 20 minutes.

23. Ever been in a physical fight?
Not really. But in 5th grade I told a boy to shut up (he was getting us all in trouble) and he punched me in the stomach.

24. Turn on?
Too personal.

25. Turn off?
Cruelty and prejudice.

26. The reason I started blogging?
I started blogging to connect with other people. There are tons of women writing their hearts out. Reading and commenting on their blogs is a great way to connect. I get a real thrill every time someone leaves a comment on my blog. Someday I might use my ramblings to write another book. At the end of the month I will be meeting up with several women friends for the first time. One I met through her blog and the other two through an online parents’ page for Syracuse University.

27. Fears?
Losing my kids, wasting my time, missing out on meaningful relationships.

28. Last thing that made you cry?
A movie we watched the other night.

29. Last time you said you loved someone?
I said it to my husband when we hung up the phone after talking. I say it to my husband, kids and both parents every time we hang up.

30. Meaning behind the name of your blog?
I came up with the Magic of Mothering because when we mother ourselves or our friends or our kids in giving and loving ways it can produce real magic. A little over a year ago, my son told me that I should help other women become better mothers because he appreciated all that I did for him growing up. These words were magic to my ears!

31. Last book you read?
I read at least a book a week. This past month I have read: The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns by John Green all of which I highly recommend. I also finished just finished Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain which I thoroughly enjoyed and I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50 by Annabelle Gurwich, which didn’t live up to its title.

32. Book you are currently reading?
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

33. Last show you watched: 
The news. I am a news junkie. CNN, Headline news, local news, bring it on!

34. Last person you talked to?
My husband, on the phone.

35. The relationship between you and the person you just texted?
My son’s girlfriend, Gabby. We are going over to their house for dinner tonight and I was just checking in.

36. Favorite food?

37. Place you want to visit?
Anywhere in Spain. And Machu Picchu. And I would go back to Australia, we had a great time living there earlier this year. See the Australia button on my blog for posts on our travels there.

38. Last place you were:
Since getting back from Australia this summer I have been to: Washington, DC, Princeton, NJ and Carmel, CA.

39. Do you have a crush?
Yes, on my husband.

40. Last time you kissed someone?
My husband, when he got home from work. We kiss hello everytime.

41. Last time you were insulted:
By a family member who assumed that I was insensitive to her problems.

42. Favorite flavor of sweet?
Dark chocolate. Is there anything else?

43. What instruments do you play?
Nothing anymore, although I can peck out a tune on a piano is I have to.

44. Favorite piece of jewelry? 
My wedding rings.

45. Any regrets:
Plenty of small ones: yelling at my kids too much, losing my temper with my husband, not having made enough time to hang out with friends over the years. I also have some bigger ones: not having the harder conversations with my mother and not being the best mother for my daughter. I wish I had found a mother-daughter yoga class for the two of us when she asked for one 10 years ago.

Have a response to my answers? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

It Takes a Village: A Community of Mothers

In my last post I wrote about Longing for a Community in which to feel at home. While I haven’t quite found it yet I know that it is out there. I know because I have experienced it several times in my life when I have found groups of people who were nourishing and stimulating – both of which I need to feed my soul.

One such group was the volunteer Leaders of La Leche League International (LLLI). I became a Leader in 1991, and was most active with them up until I retired from being a member of their International Board of Directors in 2007, even though technically I am still considered an active Leader.

During the time I was most active I came in contact with other volunteer Leaders from all over the world as well as in my own backyard. When we lived in the bay area in the 1990’s it was these women who sustained me during hard times and with whom I shared many wonderful, joyous times too. They helped me move into four homes, held my hand during two terrifying health scares, nursed me through two surgeries, and celebrated one pregnancy and all sorts of other events.

Together we raised our kids while learning how to help other mothers get breastfeeding off to a good start. We took workshops to learn better communications skills that we then applied to help tearful mothers on the phone at 2 am with a crying newborn who wouldn’t latch, or with a biting toddler who is wild with teething pain, or with a baby on a nursing strike. We brainstormed insightful questions to help us ask the right questions so that we could provide the help these mothers wanted. And in the process we developed close and intimate friendships with each other. In other words, we mothered each other as we mothered our growing families.

We hung out at parks and zoos and beaches and as our kids ran around, we shared our inner thoughts and dreams and hopes and sometimes nightmares. Even when I had a hard time getting pregnant while everyone around me seemed to be able to do so effortlessly, I found other League Leaders experiencing that same aching heart and empty arms.

Quilt blogg 44

When my longed for second pregnancy turned out to involve abdominal surgery at 25 weeks gestation –one of the scariest times of my life — it was my LLLI friends who stepped in, cooked meals, watched my active firstborn, and comforted me on the phone at all hours of the night. After the surgery I held my breath for my last trimester, only letting out little bits of air when these women scooped up my energetic 5 year old son took him off to playdates and field trips while I was on bed rest. It was a group of them who organized a Blessing Way Ceremony right before I gave birth and presented me with a beautiful handmade quilt that I still hang on our bedroom wall 19 years later.

After the birth these same woman once again brought meals, did laundry, and mothered me as I mothered my new daughter and young son. And then eighteen months later these same women stepped in to hold my hand, bring us meals again, and distract us with love as we faced my husband’s cancer.

I had high hopes that our son’s private school community would also help us out during my husband’s cancer, but they let us down. I was so disappointed from their lack of support during our time of crisis that we moved him to a new school. Staying in that community was not healthy for me or my family after being let down like that.

A community that will rally round the wagons for you when you are sick and tired and then throw a party for you to celebrate the good times is an important part of how I define community. So many of us live isolated lives, separated from extended family, we need a community of people to step in and help us out at times. It has become a bit overused, but we really do need a village as our community. It is up to us to find and create that village for ourselves and for our families.

What kind of community do you have to help you get through the hard times and to celebrate with during the good times?

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!