Posted in #Future, Diabetes, Education, Life, Uncategorized

Diabetic Ramblings from a Friday

So it’s Friday, and it has been a weird, busy, and highly productive week.  Some days with diabetes are harder than others; some weeks are better than others.  This week has been a little rough.

One thing currently happening; I’m still fighting to get a new insulin pump.  The process has been frustrating and I’ve been denied four times already.  That said, my CDE, doctor and I have worked together to come up with a plan for how to get more documentation and show my insurance company that I really do need this!

The artificial pancreas technology looks AMAZING.  It looks like a new life; like one that makes me a little less inconvenient.  It looks like I might get a better chance at a normal mid-life; something I was hesitant to even day dream about before now. But here we are, and here is this great opportunity…and here is this insurance company trying to take away the awesome.  Sigh.  What is with this people?!

That said, I feel it is so important to remember that these individuals that are tasked with telling me no are not really telling me.  I let myself get out of control with my emotions a couple of weeks ago about it; I sat in my car and sobbed and screamed and interrupted my parents’ date day with a crazed phone call where I told them I was going to be done with insurance companies and just pay for the damn thing myself.

In that moment, my dad (who is notoriously hyper-focused and driven; much like I was in that moment),  shared an important note.  “This is not the first fight.  It’s not the last fight.  They just don’t see it yet.  You’re going to need to do a lot more fighting and make some clear decisions you can live with forever here. ”

He didn’t realize it completely, but I needed him to be my voice of reason.  I needed him to say it was okay to step back.  I needed him and my mom to share that they understood I was doing everything possible and that it was okay for me to refocus, try again, and take the weekend off from the craziness.

They gave me an important gift with that phone call and the ones following.  They reminded me that my ability to stay strong, upright, and kind, even in the most frustrating of situations, is one of my best qualities.

Thursday I was sitting in a meeting with a supervisor of mine, who shared that he could “See the leader in me”.  I like to think that the leader in me is someone who has bad days, but knows when to step back, take a deep breath, and re-assess the attack.

Today, I had to recognize that I was losing. I had to reassess my attack.  I was losing the week. I needed help; managing and trying and problem solving on my own wasn’t as productive, focused, or intelligent as I needed it to be.  I pride myself on getting things under control and on keeping myself focused and here I was, all week, fighting blood sugars that could have sent someone to the hospital. They really could’ve sent me to the hospital.  Thank goodness for a support system, technology, medication, and some solid math skills that kept that from happening!

But I called the hospital today, requested an appointment, explained that it was really important, and managed to get in with my CDE at the end of the day. Together we problem solved and she helped me figure out what tiny steps I could take to regaining control after having no control for about a week.  Tiny steps, but BIG steps in feeling like myself (which I haven’t, in at least week).

One of those steps was admitting that I’m not feeling well and that it’s not my diabetes. Even “normal” people get colds and the flu sometimes; it’s apparently a human thing.  I have been trying to power through.  I have not allowed myself the space, time, or mental relief of admitting that my body has been getting in the way of me doing and being my best self. I’m always just powering through. I’m forever living the “fake it til you make it” lifestyle that comes from a chronic illness others can’t see.  Sometimes I struggle to tell when I “genuinely” am sick and when it’s “just” a diabetes problem.  Today, and this week, it turns out it’s a little of both.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I suspect there are a lot of us who don’t feel amazing every day. I suspect most of us carry on and don’t say anything. I assume some of us feel guilty about complaining because there are so many moments we should be thankful for. I hear you folks! I’m with you!

So here’s to a weekend of relaxing, getting some much needed rest, and trying my best to recuperate and regain control of my blood sugars.  Happy weekend everyone!

 

 

 

Posted in #Future, Education, Professional Experiences, Uncategorized

Women & Work-Life Initiatives

In the modern world, a larger percentage of women work outside of the home than ever before resulting in unique demands from work and home.  While the contributions these women make to their families financially have changed, the amount of responsibility for their homes and families are often still higher than their partners.  For many women the demands of their household conflict with the demands of their professional lives making the work-life balance more challenging than ever before.  Due to these increased demands on women for work-life balance, it is necessary for the field of human resources to implement work-life balance initiatives such as shared jobs and increased options for flexible hours and compensation programs to meet the growing needs of women in the workforce.

Women still play a primary role in the care of their homes and families.  One study, conducted by Schiebinger and Gilmartin on female scientists in some of the top research facilities in the country, states that “…despite women’s considerable gains in science in recent decades, female scientists do nearly twice as much housework as their male counterparts” (Schiebinger & Gilmartin, 39).  Although this study only researched women in the science field, the trends of women completing more domestic tasks than their heterosexual partners is relatively consistent throughout the history of women in the workplace.

The impacts of higher levels of stress and demands from home have challenging and detrimental effects on the workplace as well as the workforce.  Workers who cannot find a work-life balance struggle with “higher rates of absenteeism and turnover, reduced productivity,decreased job satisfaction, lower levels of organizational commitment and loyalty, [and] rising health care costs” (Hobson, Delunas, & Kesic, 39). These issues lead to businesses losing some of their best work and result in further issues for businesses that could have been solved through work-life balance initiatives. For female workers especially, who are often primary caregivers for their children and responsible for a large part of the daily functions of their homes, these initiatives are particularly important.

Women are socially expected to be present at their children’s functions, keep up with their housework, care for their aging parents and “drop everything” when their spouses or family need them.  When women do not meet these expectations, they often feel a sense of push back from the people around them, including other women in the workplace.  This idea of being everything for everyone leads to a challenging conundrum when women are working outside of the home; how can businesses help women find a balance between their careers and their lives?

Some organizations have begun taking this into account through programs such as job sharing.  Unlike flex time positions which may still require full time hours condensed into a smaller work week and part time positions, which provide limited benefits and often make it difficult for professional advancement, job sharing allows for more full time benefits and opportunities while still providing coverage and scheduling flexibility (Kane, 28).  For women in job sharing roles, Kane found that women were happier in their positions, had a better overall sense of well-being and had a better sense of balance in their lives.

The well-being of employees and their families and the impact that household demands have on women may also be combated through additional services and benefits being offered by employers.  In combination with more flexible hours and job sharing opportunities, including benefits packages that “provide benefits to support housework” (Schiebinger & Gilmartin, 40) and offering additional benefits and assistance in times of need or stress may be a solution for improving work-life balance for women.  “Employer recognition, acknowledgement, and understanding of these challenges, coupled with effective support programs can be invaluable in helping employees cope successfully,” particularly in higher stress times of need for families (Hobson, Delunas, & Kesic, 40).

While many businesses have begun to take the concerns of all employees, the impact that work-life initiatives could have on women’s ability to juggle the demands of their lives and their careers is absolutely necessary for the improvement of women’s work conditions, general well-being, and their productivity. Schiebinger and Gilmartin proposed in their study that “…institutions provide a package of flexible benefits that employees can customize to support aspects of their private lives in ways that save time and enhance professional productivity” (40).  This flexible benefits option would be beneficial to all employees, and the customizable options would provide female workers the opportunity to build a plan which works best for them and their family’s needs.

 

These flexible benefits and scheduling hours have particular importance during times of stress for families.  In a study performed by Hobson, Delunas, & Kesic, three thousand one hundred twenty-two working individuals in the United States were surveyed about what they considered to be the most stressful events in their life and explored how work-life balance initiatives must be implemented to support employees and build loyalty and productivity within the companies.  The research also provided a case study, which supported the research that by offering managerial support in times of grief or familial strain, and supporting employees with whatever time and efforts could be afforded by the business, employees were more productive and had a much larger amount of loyalty for their organization (Hobson, Delunas, & Kesic, 41).

Combining flexible benefits and scheduling options with a better understanding of the demands placed on women in developing work-life balance will benefit all employees, workplaces and our society. Work-life balance results in happier and healthier female employees who are able to focus on their work and still care for their families, resulting in better productivity and healthier, happier individuals and families.

 

Work Cited

Hobson, C.J., Delunas, L., & Kesic, D. (2001). Compelling Evidence of the Need for Corporate Work/Life Balance Initiatives: Results from a National Survey of Stressful Life-Events.  Journal of Employment Counseling, 38 (1), 38-44.

Kane, D. (1996). A Comparison of Job Satisfaction and General Well-Being for Job Sharing and Part-Time Female Employees. Guidance and Counseling. 11 (3), 27-30.

Schiebinger, L., & Gilmartin, S.K.  (2010). Housework Is An Academic Issue.   Academe, 96 (1), 39-44.

 

As originally submitted for credit at Elmira College in the Corporate & Community Education program. 

Posted in Education, Uncategorized

Community Education: Then & Now

In every society around the world, adults are the primary decision makers and contributors to the communities they belong too.   Community education has always acted as a necessary and vital part of giving individuals the resources, knowledge and experiences necessary to be active and connected members of their society. Community education’s impact is easily seen by investigating the differences in the past from modern community education opportunities on a formal, informal, and non-formal levels.

Throughout American history, adult education and community education have been closely tied in formal, informal, and non-formal settings.  In the past, formal education’s role in community education has been geared toward the upper to middle class individuals and has primarily taken the form of intellectual, academic, post-secondary education.  Opportunities for adult learners to benefit from these higher education programs have been severely limited by a variety of demographic factors, but especially the adult learner’s place in the higher education community (Kasworm, Sandmann, & Sissel, 449).

Today’s society has “heightened perceptions of the importance of the role of higher education in developing knowledgeable, literate citizens for a postmodern global society” (Kasworm, Sandmann & Sissel, 449). While the limitations posed by adult learners continues to “deemphasize this new majority and neglect adult learners” (Kasworm, Sandmann & Sissel, 449), there is far more opportunity today for increased diversity amongst the formal community education setting than there has in the past.  This diversity offers unique perspectives and the sharing of experiences between learners that would have been limited by similar backgrounds and demographic information, such as age and race, in the past.  According to Kasworm, Sandmann, and Sissel, “Universities are faced with embracing diverse groups of learners, new sites of learning, new forms and contents of learning and expectations to become engaged with the society that funds them” (p. 460).  Community education’s place in formal adult education “can be the forum for adults to “acquire their political knowledge and skills” (p.146)” (Merriam & Brockett, 206). The increased demand for adults in the community to hold certifications and degrees provided by formal education opportunities are often necessary for career advancement, personal development, and impact the decisions made by community members in their everyday lives.  In today’s world it is more important than ever to hold higher education degrees and certificates in order for adult community members to compete in the changing workforce.

The increased emphasis on formal education aside, informal experiences offered in a community of learners have shaped adult lives for all of time.  From the beginning of time individuals have learned survival skills, societal expectations, and built relationships within their communities based on their informal learning experiences. The simple act of walking into a luncheon with other adult individuals is an informal community education experience.  In the past, when formal community education opportunities were not as easily accessible to a majority of adult learners, informal community experiences helped individuals to find their role in a community, make decisions to support themselves and their families, and learn social skills that allowed them to contribute to their community.  In every interaction and action performed throughout the day, adult learners are learning by experiencing.  Nod Miller states that in the past, “A common assumption underlying much of the theory and practice of adult education is that adults learn throughout their lives, from their work and leisure, from their experience in social and domestic contexts, and from their personal relationships” (p. 72).  Although this assumption was made, the importance of informal community education experiences as the first form of education, was neglected, offering very little support to the importance of the informal community learning experiences that shape adults (Miller, 72).

Informal adult education in relationship to adult education is more difficult to measure than the other two education forms but today is argued as having the largest impact on the community as a whole.  Every experience an adult has is educating in some way, and this education in the community setting affects how adults interact, cope, communicate, function, and participate in their community environment.  The change in attitude towards informal education is evident in Miller’s descriptions of “learning from experience” as he cites some of the functions that this informal learning leads too, including how individuals “make decisions about jobs, holidays, or life partners as a result of weighing up and processing elements of their life experiences and behavior” (Miller, 74).  Without these educational experiences, adults would have little basis for many opinions that shape their contribution and relationship to the communities they participate in.

While informal education is the most common form of adult and community education, and formal education is often the most easily identifiable form of community and adult education, nonformal education is the form of community education that people are most likely to explore in a post-secondary development manner.  In the past, many adult learners who completed secondary education relied on nonformal community education for professional advancement, personal growth, and a better understanding of the communities and world they lived in.

Nonformal community education takes a variety of forms.  In the past, nonformal education was for some adults, the only way of receiving marketable skills which would assist them in procuring jobs and participating in the workforce.  Nonformal community education programs offered at churches, agencies, shelters and libraries offered adults the opportunity to learn about their passions, interests, professional skills, religion, etc. These programs all had a functional objective and individuals gained skills and competencies they may not have otherwise learned. In many ways, nonformal community education results in “Communities…[becoming] the site of individual and social learning” (Ewert & Grace, 329).

Today, nonformal community education continues to be the most common form of community and adult education.  Local libraries assist adult community members in learning how to use modern technology, assisting different generations in connecting with each other and local professionals in acquiring the skills needed to perform modern job functions.  Community members of all ages are encouraged to take first aid courses in nonformal workshop settings, resulting in better prepared communities in the face of medical emergency.  Voters are encouraged to attend forums where they can ask questions of candidates and gain more information about their party’s beliefs and objectives. The opportunities presented by these nonformal community education experiences are vastly diversified and are incredibly important in helping adult community members to grow personally, professionally, and also in assisting adult learners in forming opinions and making decisions. These community education opportunities “underlie development practice” and create “dialogue, critique and local ownership of the development process” (Ewert & Grace, 330).  This form of community education “can be the forum for adults to “acquire their political knowledge and skills” (p.146).” (Merriam & Brockett, 206), resulting in communities that are better able to problem solve and make decisions.

Separating adult and community education is nearly and impossible task.  All adult education is community education, and all educational experiences impact the individual’s community, whether in direct action or adult interaction.  The impact of community education then and now has been an integral part in developing strong communities of well rounded, engaged and informed adults better able to be contributing members of the communities they belong too.

 

Work Cited

Ewert, D., & Grace, K. (2000). Chapter Twenty-One: Adult Education for Community Action. In Handbook of adult and continuing education (New ed., pp. 327-343). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kasworm, C., Sandmann, L., & Sissel, P. (2000). Chapter Twenty-Nine: Adult Learners in Higher Education. In Handbook of adult and continuing education (New ed., pp. 449-464). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S., & Brockett, R. (2007). The profession and practice of adult education: An introduction (Updated ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Miller, N. (2000). Chapter Five: Learning from Experience in Adult Education. InHandbook of adult and continuing education (New ed., pp. 71-86). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Wilson, A. (2000). Handbook of adult and continuing education (New ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

As originally submitted for credit as part of the Corporate & Community Education program at Elmira College.