Friday, May 12, 2017

Currently + Single Lady Sign Off!

Oh hey, we are a week out from our wedding!!!  Say what??  Here's what is currently on my mind these days (cliff notes version: not much besides the wedding!)

Reading:  Mercies in Disguise: A Story of Home, a Family's Genetic Destiny, and the Science That Rescued them by Gina Kolata. I can't remember how this ended up my request list at the library but I must have heard about it somewhere! It's a really fascinated read about a family plagued by a genetic mutation that resulted in a disease that is like a horrible combination of ALS and Alzheimer's.  It's been a fascinating read as it delves into how they determined some diseases are passed on through genetic mutations. It's kind of like a real-life version of Still Alice or Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Geneva as part of the book talks about the decision to determine if you carry the genetic mutation.

Loving: sunshine and longer hours of daylight! It has such a huge impact on my mood!

Struggling:  with sleep. I tried using the sleep aid that my rheumatologist prescribed to help me sleep while I'm on steroids to keep my flare contained.  But it made me so dizzy that I felt I couldn't drive...  so after 3 days of feeling uber dizzy, I gave up.  But then I was not sleeping well and I need sleep BADLY so I have resorted to taking Tylenol PM.  This is not a habit I want to establish but right now I just can't afford to not sleep so taking Tylenol PM is the lesser of the two evils.  I can't wait to go off steroids after the wedding - they are a miracle drug for RA flares but I hate being on them!

Feeling: SO EXCITED.  I can't wait to marry my best friend a week from today!

Thinking: about the remaining to do items on my list.  Most of the big stuff is done but all those little to dos add up.  I'm so glad that I'm only working Monday of next week as I have a lot to get done on Tuesday/Wednesday. I mean, there's just a few things on my calendar for next week.  ;)

Anticipating: our wedding and really anticipating our honeymoon in Hawaii.  Obviously getting married is the most important thing next week but I am just sooooo ready for 9 days away in paradise with Phil. I've been so busy at work and so busy with wedding planning details.  I can't wait to unplug and relax with my best friend!

Watching: Season 2 of Master of None tonight!  The 2nd season comes out today and we are sooo excited to watch it as we loved season 1.  I have the biggest crush on Aziz Ansari - I love his sense of humor.  

Grateful:  for lots of things right now.  But I'm especially grateful that 176 friends and family members from 16 different states will join together to witness and celebrate our marriage next Friday!!!

Listening: to my body and trying to rest when I'm feeling extra tired. My to do list is long and I'd like to work out as much as possible right now but I also know that I need to take care of myself. Listening to my body meant skipping a run with my sister last Sunday. I so badly wanted to run with her but I just felt a bone-crushing sense of exhaustion when I woke up that morning, so opted to stay back and drink coffee on the couch. It was the right choice, even though it was a hard one to make.

Wishing: for a rain-free wedding day!  Up until Wednesday of this week, the long-range forecast was showing sunny and 72 degrees for our wedding day.  Then yesterday it switched to rain and wind.  After seeing that/freaking out a bit, I deleted the weather aps from my phone.  I don't need the temptation to obsessively check the wedding day forecast. Our ceremony and reception are indoors but we are hoping to do all of our photos outdoors since we are getting married in such a beautiful area of Minneapolis.  Fingers are crossed that the weather cooperates!  


And with that, I'm doing my last sign off as a single lady!  I'll be off the map for the rest of the month between the last minute wedding prep + the wedding + the honeymoon!  I'll catch up with all of you in June when I am Mrs. Segner!!!  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wedding Wednesday: Pre-Wedding Celebrations

This is my last Wedding Wednesday post before the big event!  The wedding is 9 days away! We started off the weekend with a party that my colleague/long-term mentor, Paul, and his wife hosted at their house. All of the people in my department at work were invited, plus we included some others that Paul and I had worked with at our previous employer. I think we had about 25 people there so it was a large group! Since the party was on Cinco de Mayo, we of course had Mexican food (which is my favorite!).

Here are Phil and I at the beginning of the night, drinking margaritas out of glasses that matched our outfits!

It was such a fun evening of celebration. Paul and his wife gave a toast to us and I gave a mini speech about how thankful I am to work with such a great group of people.  I said that about 75% of my job satisfaction comes from the people I work with. I've had several jobs in departments with cultures that were not a fit for me, so I really really appreciate how well I fit in at this company!  I also had a mini-celebration in Chicago yesterday when I was there for a day trip, complete with delicious GF cupcakes!  I am feeling very spoiled by my co-workers!

Back to the weekend of fun!  Saturday was my bachelorette party! My sister came to our house on Saturday morning and we started the day with a barre class!

Sisters that sweat together, stay together
Afterwards we got to work putting together a Mexican feast. Abby and my friend Courtney co-hosted the party and did a great job planning it!  I should have taken pictures of all of the food we made, but I was too busy soaking up time with all the ladies in attendance!  We had pork and veggie tacos, 3 kinds of salsa, guacamole, a jicama and mango salad, cilantro lime rice, black beans, and grilled pineapple and bananas with ice cream for dessert!

Since our wedding is book-themed and the theme of my party was "Girls Gone Mild," I had wear a book-themed shirt from my favorite book store - Powells!

Here I am with the co-hosts, Courtney and Abby! I love these girls!

My sister-in-law, Julie, came early to help with some of the last minute preparations. She's been part of our family for so long (since 1997!) so she truly feels like a sister!

I tried to take picture with all of the girls that came.  One of my favorite pictures is the silly one I took with 2 of the members of my book club!

My bachelorette party could not have been more awesome.  I had 13 of the important ladies in my life in one room. We ate delicious food, drank wine and palomas (a drink made of grapefruit juice and tequila), laughed lots, and ended the night with a couple of games of Cards Against Humanity. I am so very, very lucky to have so many wonderful women in my life. I can't imagine going through the peaks and valleys of life without these ladies by my side!

If you are married, what did you do for your bachelorette party? If you aren't married, what is your ideal bachelorette party?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Activism Through Reading: Strangers in Their Own Land Book Review + Next Read

I'm back with another Activism Through Reading book review. In April I read "Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right" by Arlie Russell Hochschild. In this book, Hochschild, a sociologist from Berkeley, spends time in Louisiana with Tea Party members to try to understand why they vote against candidates who policies they would benefit from.

I read this book to try to understand the thoughts of Tea Party members. In the words of Hochschild, I wanted to cross the "empathy wall." In her words, an empathy wall is "an obstacle to deep understanding of another person, one that can make us feel indifferent or ever hostile to those who hold different beliefs or whose childhood is rooted in different circumstances (p.5)."  Here are a couple of the main points I am taking away from this book, along with my thoughts:

- The Tea Party members she spoke to feel like they have been victims of "line cutters." Wage growth has been non-existent for many. According to Hochschild's research, real wages of high school educated American men have fallen 40% since 1970. For the bottom 90% of workers, average wages have flattened since 1980. Many people who are unemployed or lacking wage growth feel they have been waiting in line for more prosperity for a long time, and all of a sudden, there are all these people cutting in line. Hochschild sums it up by saying: "Blacks, women, immigrants, refugees, brown pelicans - all have cut ahead of you in line. But it's people like you who have made this country great. You feel uneasy. It has to be said: the line cutters irritate you. They are violating rules of fairness. You resent them, and you feel it's right that you do. (p. 139)."

Thoughts: In my opinion, wage growth is lacking because our economy has drastically changed. We are not the manufacturing powerhouse we used to be.  We cannot compete with countries like China. You cannot solely get a high school education and expect wage growth that is on par with those with a technical or college degree. You need an education and a skill set that will allow you to thrive in this new economy. I have compassion for those who are living in dire circumstances. It would be awful to not be able to provide for your family. But I do believe that some that have been left behind think that things should be the way they were before globalization took hold.  That is just not possible.  I cannot imagine our country ever going back to being a manufacturing powerhouse. I understand the source of frustration toward 'line cutters' but some/many of those cutting in line are experiencing even more dire circumstances. There should be room for all of us to prosper.

- Since the author focused on the Louisiana oil region, there is a heavy emphasis on the environmental devastation of that area. Many of the people that Hochschild interviews cannot swim in or eat fish from the waters they live near due to the pollution by oil and other chemical companies. In an extreme case, some people's homes have even been swallowed up by a massive sink hole caused by drilling by oil companies. Birds, fish, and turtles have died. And yet - the Tea Party members Hochschild meets with want to do away with the EPA because they think regulation is not the answer. They want oil companies to continue to build plants in Louisiana because of the economic prosperity that should result.

Thoughts:  I think there is such a thing as over-regulation, but when our environment is at stake, I don't think we can eliminate environmental regulations and expect corporations to act in the best interest of the citizens of the communities they operate within. Clearly having environmental regulations in the first place didn't prevent the devastation that has occurred, but it seems like that should put fuel to the fire of having more monitoring to ensure companies meet the regulations. It seems like the views of the people Hochschild speaks to can be summed up by saying "capitalism is more important than our environment."

Closing thoughts:

I'm still struggling to relate to the views of the Tea Party members the author interviewed. I recognize that the people she spoke to are a small % of the Tea Party, and the Tea Party is just a small part of the Republican Party. But these kind of views seem to be the loudest views and they seem in line with Trump's views. I'm struggling to have hope that our political parties will find a way to compromise in the face of such differing and catastrophic views.

I'm glad I read this book, though, even though I didn't make as much progress in crossing the "empathy wall" as I wanted.  Hochschild did a really good job of telling the story of the people she met with in an engaging way. This book definitely read like narrative non-fiction. Hochschild really got to know her interview subjects and she became friends with them even though her views were very different.


My next read for my activism project will be "An American Sickness:  How Healthcare Become Big Business and How You Can Take it Back" by Elisabeth Rosenthal.

Excerpt from Goodreads:
Our politicians have proven themselves either unwilling or incapable of reining in the increasingly outrageous costs faced by patients, and market-based solutions only seem to funnel larger and larger sums of our money into the hands of corporations. Impossibly high insurance premiums and inexplicably large bills have become facts of life; fatalism has set in. Very quickly Americans have been made to accept paying more for less. How did things get so bad so fast?

Given the vote that occurred in the House last week, healthcare has moved up the list of things I need to become more informed about. I am disgusted by the bill that was passed by the House. The Senate will likely modify the bill but I can't believe that something so awful was passed by all but 20 House Republicans. Whatever form the final bill takes, it will potentially impact every person in this country - including those who have employer-provided health insurance. Outside of being concerned for the high number of people that will lose insurance coverage (which will result in more ER visits, which does not solve the problem of the escalating costs of providing medical care to the uninsured), I am particularly concerned because the cost of treating my RA is incredibly expensive (one of the slew of drugs I take costs $1,000 PER WEEK).  If lifetime or annual caps come back, that could have severe consequences for me.

I listened to the author of this book on the NYT Book Review Podcast recently. She was an emergency room doctor before moving into journalism so she has seen the healthcare system as a provider. I think it's going to be a really interesting read. I really wish that our Senators and Representatives could get to the heart of the problem of our healthcare system - the high cost of healthcare - instead of penalizing people, like myself, who have no control over the high cost of the drugs and treatments we need. Hopefully this book will help me become more informed on the topic.

If you made it this far, CONGRATULATIONS!  This was a lengthy post. Have you read any great non-fiction books lately?  Do you find yourself seeking out more non-fiction books given the state of our world and political system? That has definitely been the case for me as I feel like I need to read more about different issues that matter to me.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Podcasts, Books, Workouts and Looks of April

Oh boy, April was a total blur. Between 2 wedding showers, lots of wedding tasks and appointments, and a super busy month at work, I feel like my head is spinning. I know that May will fly by, too, but I am going to really try to soak up the joy and excitement of the weeks leading up to the wedding! We'll see how well I do at that!


On Being - Resilience After Unimaginable Loss. In this episode, the host of On Being, Krista Tippett, interviews Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, the authors of the new book Option B. Sheryl Sandberg lost her husband nearly 2 years ago. He had a cardiac event while they were on vacation in Mexico. In this book, she shares what she and her co-author have learned about resiliency after a tragic loss and how to support others going through tragic losses. Sandberg talks about how lonely she felt after the loss of her husband because people avoided talking to her at work, at school and in social settings. Or if they talked to her, it was small talk. People were afraid to ask her how she was doing out of fear that bringing up her husband would remind her that she lost him. But Sandberg says that no one needed to remind her that she lost her husband - it was on her mind every day. So by not talking about her husband, the loss of him felt unacknowledged. Our culture is so terrible at dealing with loss or difficult diagnoses. I'm planning to read this as I want to be better at supporting people that are going through difficult things.

With Friends Like These - Being Called Racist is White People's Kryptonite. In this episode, the host of With Friends Like These, Ana Marie Cox, interviews Criminal Defense Attorney Greg Doucette. Since he works in criminal defense, he has witnessed the racial profiling that happens in his county of NC first hand in his work with clients. However, the discussion about racial profiling is not anecdotal - it's supported by the details of arrests that have been made public. He also talks about leaving the Republican party and filing as an independent after being a very involved member because he feels he cannot support a party that supports Donald Trump (I feel the same way). You only need to listen to the first 45-50 minutes of the podcast to hear about the racial profiling as after that it delves into interracial dating.


April was a stellar reading month for me! Despite being super busy, I managed to read 8 books. People often ask me how I find so much time to read. The answer is that I make time for it! I watch very, very little tv and read for at least an hour before bed each night. I also was able to read more this month as I wasn't able to work out as much as I normally do thanks to my 2 RA flares. It's tough to pick a favorite - any of the 5-star books are worth checking out! My least favorite was Luckiest Girl Alive. It seems like this is a book that you will either love or hate. I hated it because I felt the protagonist was such an unlikable, manipulative person. If you can enjoy books with unlikable characters then you might like it, though!

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson - 5 stars (for book club with a coworker)
Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild - 5 stars (advocacy read)
Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider - 4 stars
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - 5 stars (one of my best reads of 2017)
March:  Book Two by John Robert Lewis (amazing 2nd book of his Civil Rights Trilogy)
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll - 2 stars
The Mothers by Brit Bennett (another one of my best reads of 2017)
Letters to a Young Muslim by Omar Saif Ghobash - 4 stars


When I wasn't flaring, my workouts were great and were a combination of running, sessions with my personal trainer and barre classes. When I was flaring, my workouts were non-existent. It was tough to miss nearly 2 weeks of working out the month before my wedding as I need workouts to relieve stress and to make sure I look my very best on my wedding day. Since I wasn't able to workout as much as I would like, I tried to be very careful about what I was eating which is way less fun than managing your weight by working out.


You've seen 2 of these 3 looks as they were from my bridal showers.  I didn't buy either of these dresses as I already had them in my closet! I need to make a point to wear them more often as they are flattering silhouettes.

My other favorite look from the month was from the day of my haircut and color. We went with a lighter shade of brown that is closer to my natural color as I think it will photograph better with my untanned skin than the darker color I usually have my stylist use. My hair girl curled my hair so I would feel extra pretty when I left my appointment. In this photo I'm also wearing a new rain coat I bought in April! My friend got the same coat in green and then another coworker loved it so much that she bought it in navy!  I got it on sale at Macy's and would highly recommend it if you are looking for a rain coat!  Although you might want to buy it elsewhere as they are out of many of the sizes in navy online.