A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Dr. Ellen Killebrew (Retired)

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Dr. Ellen Killebrew (Retired)

Astoria mom makes Mommy’s Yummies: fresh, nutritious ready-to-eat food for tots

Astoria mom makes Mommy’s Yummies: fresh, nutritious ready-to-eat food for tots

Women’s Health: Why Friendships Are Good For You

Women’s Health: Why Friendships Are Good For You

Cyndi Lauper: Don’t Say A Woman Looks Too Old, And Then Call Her A Cougar

Cyndi Lauper: Don’t Say A Woman Looks Too Old, And Then Call Her A Cougar

A Message From The Creator

Negativity sucks away energy. If part of the negativity stems from your attitude or perspective, commit yourself at the beginning of each day and each activity to find something positive in yourself and in others around you. If the people around you are negative and you can’t change that, either remove yourself from the situation or view it simply as one obstacle you face in pursuing your own potential. Stay focused on your own goals and make the best of the situation.

-Terry Orlick

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Dr. Ellen Killebrew (Retired)

By Kate Scannell, MD

This is from Dr. Ellen Killebrew retirement ceremony.

Historical Context
Within a broader historical context, Ellen also embodies something compelling for all of us. When we look around this room, we see an intergenerational group of women doctors who span the period of the last half-century of American medical history. Some of the women sitting at these tables have recently completed their medical residencies. In 1968, when Ellen finished hers at Colorado General Hospital, no other women sat at the commencement table. In 1983, when I completed my own residency in Chicago, my residency group included a total of six other women; at our commencement ceremony, we were “treated” to a female striptease dancer as the main entertainment. As we embark on a new millennium, it is fitting that we honor Ellen Killebrew, both for her stellar individual accomplishments and for her obstinate insistence on being a physician. Each time Ellen challenged the barriers excluding women from medicine, she made things easier for the next group of women who came up against these barriers.

Career Facts and Barriers
The “official and usual” facts of Ellen’s career are these: Tonight we celebrate an outstanding clinician and teacher, a gifted cardiologist, a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, a long-standing officer of the American Heart Association, a published author of medical works, and a respected colleague who has worked 28 years for Kaiser Permanente.

However, as always, the facts are never simple, and they are inherently thin. What expands the facts of Ellen’s career into an experience that has affected each of us is the particular way in which she negotiated her career through the difficult history of women in American medicine. Most of Ellen’s medical career was lived through periods of time when professional barriers to women were blatant and prejudice was inarguably overt. Remarkably, Ellen not only endured those times; through her persistence and her perennial mentoring and support of other women physicians who followed her, she also helped to reshape the landscape for other women entering medicine.

In 1955, Ellen entered Bucknell University in Pennsylvania to pursue a business major and to become an executive secretary, one of the few acceptable academic majors available to women then. However, during her sophomore year, Ellen decided to enter premedical training. Her decision was a radical act at the time. In fact, the university mandated that Ellen obtain written permission from her father as a strict prerequisite for her enrolling in premedical courses. How many of us here tonight can imagine being told that our fathers had the right to determine what we could study and what we could become?

Women in Medical Training
An instructive passage in Hedda Garza’s book, Women in Medicine, gives us a picture of this time in history: “By 1955, a new low point had been reached. Many medical schools that had welcomed women during the war no longer had a single female student. Now that women were no longer needed, polls were published to justify the sudden change. In 1949 and 1957, hospital chiefs of staff and male physicians gave familiar answers to the questionnaires asking them their opinions of female doctors. Many of them commented that women doctors were “emotionally unstable,” “talk too much,” and “get pregnant”! One dean actually declared that he preferred a third-rate man to a first-rate woman doctor.”

Ellen’s Academic Experience
When I asked Ellen about her experiences in premed, she relayed that she frequently had to endure dreary, misogynist attitudes. Among the most painful memories she recalled was being accused of cheating on her biochemistry exam because no woman was expected to excel as she had. Male students raided her dorm room looking for evidence to support their accusationswhich were, of course, false.

 In 1960, just one year after Ellen completed her premedical training, Jefferson Medical College in Pennsylvania finally opened its doors to women, becoming the last medical school in the United States forced to do so. Still, at her medical school interviews, Ellen was asked why she wanted to “take a man’s place.” She was queried as to whether or not she had thought about having a family and, consequently, of dropping out of medical school. In 1962, while Ellen attended New Jersey College of Medicine, historian Frederick Rudolph congratulated male colleges like Yale and Harvard for “preserving the liberal inheritance of Western Civilization in the United States by protecting it from debilitating, feminizing, corrupting influences which shaped its career where coeducation prevailed.”

Despite this formidable climate, Ellen graduated from medical school in 1965, when, still, only 4.6% of all women with an MD degree had become full-time medical school faculty members. When she completed her internal medicine residency at Colorado General and Denver General Hospital three years later, three fourths of the three million health care workers in this country were women, whereas nearly all administrators and physicians were men. Only 7% of physicians were women, a negligible difference from the 6% figure in 1900.1In 1970only after The Women’s Equity Action League filed a class action suit on behalf of all women against every medical college in the countrythe United States Congress finally held its first hearing on the incontestable gender inequality in medical school admissions. And in 1970, while these difficulties prevailed, Ellen Killebrew finished her cardiology Fellowship at the Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

Kaiser Permanente
In that same year, Ellen’s first venture into the job market brought her to the doors of Kaiser San Francisco, but she was told that they were not hiring “women cardiologists.” The physician members of two private practices told her the same thing. Ellen persevered and ultimately broke through several additional barriers at Richmond and Oakland Kaiser to obtain employment. In true pioneering fashion, Ellen’s successful fight to secure employment immediately preceded passage of the Equal Opportunity Act in 1971, legislation that forced open the doors of professional education for all women in this country.

While Ellen was on her way to becoming one of the most respected physicians at Oakland Kaiser, formidable odds continued to mark the general medical landscape for women. In a study published in 1974, two thirds of practicing male physicians did not accept women as peers. That same year, another study revealed that 80% of New York City medical patients stated their preference for a male physician, although half had never been treated by a woman.4 In 1982, JAMA published an article, “Attitudes toward women physicians in medical academia,” which reported that almost 50% of male medical students and physicians agreed with the statement: “Women physicians who spend long hours at work are neglecting their responsibilities to home and family.” In a survey published one year later in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 30% of male physicians felt “there was a significant risk to the optimal functioning of a department that hired a woman of child-bearing age.”

Many women in this room remember arriving at Kaiser Oakland in the late 1980s and feeling immediate reassurance from Ellen’s welcoming presence. Senior women physicians were scarce in the ’80s. By 1981, but for a single post that had been held at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1955, no woman had yet to hold a chief administrative position (for example, full deanship). As late as 1985, only 5% of medical school professors were women, and in 1988, only 15% of active physicians were women.

Perhaps as remarkable as her struggle is the style in which Ellen practiced medicine. She bore no malice for the hardships that she endured, and she never begrudged the success of other women who did not have to suffer these hardships. On the contrary, Ellen always took time to mentor any woman who approached her with professional or personal issues. She was a rare exception to Janet Bickel’s proclamation in “Women in medical education,” published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1988: “There are few departments in any school in which a student can readily find a woman physician in a senior position who is happy with both her professional life and her personal life and available to give the student pointers and support.”

New Millennium Statistics
We enter the new millennium with some new “facts.” In the 1998-9 academic year, women comprised 44% of medical school entrants and 15% of cardiology fellows. One prediction estimates that, by 2010, women will comprise 30% of practicing physicians. Still, in 1995, a national cohort study showed that after 11 years, only 5% of women had achieved full professorship status, compared with 23% of men with similar initial rank, type of tenure track, and Board certification. Also, women comprise only 7% of all full professorships in internal medicine.

Although the numbers of women in medicine and in leadership positions continue to lag behind men, other forms of gender discrimination also continue within the experiential realm of being a physician. In her book, Walking out on the Boys, Dr Francis K. Conley of Stanford University wrote about these modern-day varieties of sexual inequality in medicine: “I have learned that universities, in general, no longer function as agents of societal change … [that their] liberal environment is a masquerade.”13 In 1994, a report in the New England Journal of Medicine documented a harassment rate of 73% among women responding to a survey of sexual harassment in medical training.

To Ellen: in Conclusion
Within the sociopolitical context of women in medicine, Ellen has been a genuine heroine. She braved formidable barriers in her path to becoming a physician, and in so doing helped to pave an easier entry for other women who followed her. When we look to Ellen and recognize her brilliance and her rightful place in medicine, we are pained to think about the abuse and the misogyny she was made to endure.

Each of us has arrived here in a long procession of women, which widens in rank by the years. And near the leading edge of the procession is Ellen Killebrew pioneering, pulling many of us along. We honor Ellen tonight for her courageous and generous leadership, her inspired mentoring, her indisputable clinical skills, her unself-conscious wisdom, and her personal and professional integrity. We thank her for being one of the rare women in a senior position who was happy with her career and life and who offered her own happiness as a beacon for many of us who were looking for some light in our own careers. We thank her for helping us to create and integrate a professional identity.

Finally, on a personal note, besides thanking Ellen for all of these things, I also want her to know how much her vivacity and wit delighted me. And, simply, how much I will miss her.

Astoria mom makes Mommy’s Yummies: fresh, nutritious ready-to-eat food for tots


Vanya Petkova’s one-woman operation delivers organic, preservative-free toddler meals to busy city moms
When Vanya Petkova’s little boy Theodor cut his first teeth, she didn’t want to feed him the sometimes preservative-laden jar foods that commonly line grocery store shelves.

“For me, I prefer fresh,” said the 35-year-old Astoria mom.

And she’s banking on the fact that time-strapped New York City moms feel the same way.

Petkova, a native of Bulgaria, launched Mommy’s Yummies in April. The one-woman operation makes organic, nutritious, ready-to-eat meals for children between the ages of 10 months and 3 years old.

She chops meals like chicken paprikash and eggplant pasta with goat cheese into itty, bitty pieces to make it easier for baby teeth to chew.

All food is made without salt, sugar or artificial flavors. Wheat, soy, nut, meat and dairy-free options are also available.

Moms can order the meals, sold in three-day supplies, at mommys-yummies.com. Deliveries are made twice a week to ZIP codes in northwestern Queens, Manhattan and Park Slope, Brooklyn.

The food is prepared within 12 hours before delivery and stays fresh if refrigerated for up to three days.

“It took a lot of my time to cut and prepare the food,” she said. “I decided I could help other parents.”

In Petkova’s native Bulgaria, businesses like hers are much more common, she said. But the fresh kiddie meals aren’t cheap — each three-day supply costs $50.

Though she has no formal chef’s training — she learned how to cook from her mother — Petkova takes recipes from cookbooks and online and puts her own spin on them. To know whether or not the meal is pleasing to the toddler palate, she feeds it to 14-month-old Theodor.

“He’s the taster,” she said.

Moms like Anastasia Kovaleza say Mommy’s Yummies help them balance a hectic life with trying to provide young children with a balanced diet.

“My busy schedule doesn’t let me do cooking every day,” said Kovaleza, a working mom who is 28. “I’m trying not to buy any processed foods for myself, so why would I buy it for my kids?”

Petkova cooks the tot-sized meals at the Entrepreneur Space, a business incubator in Long Island City.

Tenants like Petkova opt for the subsidized kitchen space to get their businesses off the ground without a heavy investment upfront. For many there, the end goal is to get their product picked up by a major food supplier, or to open their own shop.

“Considering the way we live in the city, I think she’s on to something,” said Rob MacKay, director of public relations, marketing and tourism for the Queens Economic Development Corp.




Women’s Health: Why Friendships Are Good For You

Suzanne Braun Levine

First editor of ‘Ms.’ magazine, Writer on ‘Second Adulthood’; Author of ‘How We Love Now,’ ’50 Is the New Fifty,’ and ‘Inventing the Rest of Our Lives’

The surest route to decline as we age is isolation. Older people fade away psychologically, physically, and socially, if they don’t have the emotional or intellectual stimulation we take for granted earlier in our lives. So the post 50 version of “an apple a day” is “nurture your friendships.”

During our first adulthood, frantically balancing the multiple demands on our lives was (over)stimulation enough. Many of us neglected important friendships other than those that develop out of common interests (parents of kids your kids’ ages) or shared space (workplace colleagues). Now that we are starting to think about the rest of our lives, though, the notion of close friends comes to mind. When we ask ourselves what matters going forward, most of us would agree that a “circle of trust” is a clear priority.

You know who your friends are. They are the support group that will see you through the changes that lie ahead; they will accept your eccentricities and show up when you need them. And they will make you laugh. (If this doesn’t sound familiar, you’ve got some serious upgrading to do.)

What you may not realize is that they can also contribute to a longer life. Here are some of the ways being among our girlfriends makes affects women’s health:

* Research shows that when women are sharing an experience with other women, their bodies produce oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone” (because it is released in nursing mothers). Unlike husbands or kids (who can also bring about this chemical response but are often the cause of anxiety), our friends consistently elicit that warm glow, which feels good and soothes anxiety.

* Studies of female primates conclude that the company of a small but trusted band of other females reduces damaging spikes in stress hormones, which can affect women’s health. Having a circle of trust to “mop up the cortisol spills that can weaken the immune system” (as The New York Times writer Natalie Angier puts it) may contribute to the fact that women live longer than men.

* Laughter, our most precious gift, is a powerful elixir — in fact, the act of laughing releases endorphins, those feel-good brain chemicals. No matter how intense the conversation gets, it is very rare to spend more than a few minutes with a girlfriend where there isn’t a burst of laughter.

Gestalt therapist and mind-body pioneer Ilana Rubenfeld calls humor “a martial art” because it cuts a frightening situation down to size. In addition, the physical exercise of a hearty laugh, not unlike an orgasm, is a good workout. Summarizing the physiological benefits, Rubenfeld points out that laughing “improves blood circulation, increases the oxygenation of the blood, enhances digestion, reduces pain…and best of all strengthens the immune system” — all key to women’s health.

* Women are inclined to respond to danger — particularly emotional or psychological threats — as a mutually supportive group, while men show a “fight or flight” surge of adrenalin. (On those occasions when adrenalin is called for, there is no one faster on her feet than a rescuing mom.) It used to be thought that all humans responded that way, but recent work (by women scientists) found that women are wired somewhat differently, so that our reaction to a crisis is more likely to be a “tend and befriend” approach, which again reduces tension.

* This conciliatory response may also make a group of women better and more creative crisis managers, because the fight or flight response is produced in the primitive (“reptilian”) part of the brain, which shuts down more rational resources in order to concentrate on physical strength and agility.

Interestingly, the scientists who first identified the “tend and befriend” response, first observed it in their own lab; when something went wrong, the men would storm into their offices and slam the doors, while the women would come out of their offices and make coffee. We didn’t need scientists to tell us that an old-fashioned coffee klatch with the girls is one of the many ways we tend and befriend each other, but it is nice to know that along with our lattes we are getting a biochemical boost.

Cyndi Lauper: Don’t Say A Woman Looks Too Old, And Then Call Her A Cougar

Hillary Reinberg

BuzzFeed Staff

Cyndi Lauper still wants girls to have fun — but she’d like for women to be able to do the same.

Speaking the night before her 59th birthday at a Kiehl’s event in honor of Pride Week, New York’s annual gay pride celebration, Lauper said the expectations and contraditcions that older female performers face are troubling. “You can’t turn around and say oh, she looks so old and then say what’s she doing, she’s a cougar,” Lauper said when asked about the criticism 53-year-old Madonna faced for exposing her breast at a recent concert.

“I think the most important thing is what you think about yourself. That’ll help you achieve anything that you want,” she added. “I don’t really give a hoot what anybody says or thinks about me.”

She admitted that being so self-assured is easier said than done. “Do I sometimes see myself on camera, and say I don’t look so good? Sure. When I was doing my autobiography” — Lauper’s memoir comes out this Fall — “I looked through [the old photos of myself] and I thought, what was I thinking?” she added. But she’s learned not to get too down on herself: “You have to be here now, in this moment.”

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