Bosom Buddies

Bosum Buddies Moms tend to put themselves last on the list of things that need to be taken care of and maintained.  Too many women put off regular health screenings as a result, but that can put you at even greater risk for more serious problems.  For example, if breast cancers are caught early, they have a 100% five year survival rate but if they start to grow and metastasize, the amount of treatment required and outcomes begin to change.  It becomes important for women to know what risk pool they are in for breast cancer and when they should start screening, and whether your doctor recommends yearly or bi-yearly screening.

Every year, I get together with a great group of women, and we get mammograms in the morning, followed by lunch and a bit of a celebration.  We’ve called this group a variety of things, including “Mimosas and Mammograms” for the year we had mimosas while waiting for our turn; “Thanks for the Mammorys”, and other silly puns, but Bosom Buddies has stuck.  (Those of us on ‘every other year’ screenings just come along for the fun, without the testing.)

The group started a few years ago when my OB GYN and I went and got our mammograms done together.  It then expanded with a group of OB-GYN physicians I know: Dr. Arlene Smalls, Dr. Estelle Whitney, Dr. Maria Soler, Dr. Lisa Phillips and myself, and grows a little bit each year.

The best part of this whole idea is that it gets us all to take care of a task no one really looks forward to, and you also have a great group of friends there to make the process more of a fun event- So much so, I barely remember the mammogram part- just how much fun we had getting together.  Plus, on the off chance anyone gets less than a clean bill of health, having your friends there for support is incredibly important and reassuring.

This year, on May 17th, at the Breast Center at Christiana Hospital, we’ll be continuing this tradition, and I invite you all to join us.  Call and make your appointment Saturday morning with the Breast Center at (302) 623-4200, and drop me an email at LDpodcast@gmail.com and let me know you’d like to join in.  Afterwards, Dr. Arlene Smalls has arranged for us to go out and have lunch at Deerpark Tavern, which will be a lot of fun as well.  We just need to know if you are coming so we have enough tables reserved for lunch!

Even if you don’t live in the area, consider starting your own group with your friends.  Call a local mammogram provider, and see if they will allow “block scheduling” for your group.  Send out invitations, and have folks schedule their appointment.

On the day, seeing all your friends in the waiting room and catching up makes any wait go by quickly.  Afterwards, go out to brunch or lunch at a nearby restaurant, and you can even celebrate a birthday or two- I know we usually have a few to celebrate as well.  I promise this will make the process of getting your annual mammogram a whole lot more enjoyable, and will even make it something to look forward to, instead of dread.

I’ll post pictures here and on Facebook of the Bosom Buddies get together this year, and let me know if you start your own group.  I love to see more women find a way to take care of themselves while taking care of their community at the same time- and this is a great way to get started.

 

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What Do We Want From Government?

photo 3Before I decided to run for office, I was pretty content sitting on the sidelines, complaining about the various decisions made by governmental officials at every level.  Politics was a sport, and I viewed it mostly from the cheap seats, although when the elections came around, I volunteered with our local democratic committee, making phone calls, doing some canvassing, and working as a poll watcher on election day. I’ve been sympathetic to friends complaining about our taxes, and what they were being used for; worrying that the money often seemed wasted or used on projects that seemed to have little direct value.  But I also know that many functions of Government, whether it’s supporting first responders, emergency management, taking care of road maintenance, providing assistance to the poor, and more- are just not as efficiently done without governmental organizations there to coordinate a response. For example, Kennett Township  has done an exemplary job during the ice storm this year keeping citizens apprised of road closures, emergency shelters,  progress made on restoration of power, and advice on when to shut off water supplies.  They continue to use email to keep folks informed of upcoming community meetings and issues before the township in a non-partisan way.  It is such an improvement in communication, I think many other townships should take this as an example of how to keep folks informed and help them see their tax dollars at work.  This sort of communication is hard to do in a crisis, but that’s exactly when you need it, especially in our area when we don’t get that much attention from the major media outlets located in Philadelphia and Lancaster. When folks are disaffected with Thompson Road, Kennett SquareGovernment, it’s often because we take for granted what it provides in our everyday lives.  For example, my opponent in the PA House of Representatives race, Steve Barrar , was the only State Representative in Delaware County to vote against the Transportation Bill that helps provide money to repair roads and bridges. We had two bridges closed this week in the Kennett area- one on Thompson road just in front of the Golf Better CenterDSC_0047 – which has got to be devastating for this business just as Golf Season really gets underway. DSC_0072 You can even see the depression of the roadway and a hole through the bridge into the small creek below. The Burnt Mill Bridge closure will be redirecting school busses and increasing commute times, even before the flooding that has occurred this week.  This will also force more traffic over other smaller bridges, like the Spring Mill Bridge, making it more susceptible to damage as well. The bridge over the Brandywine Creek in Pocopson- a popular “back way” up into West Chester, has such a rough surface, it looks more like a test track for four wheel drive vehicles, and has about a 50/50 split between road surface and pot holes.  I called our current State Representative, Chris Ross’s office, and they said that the whole bridge would need to be taken down to the deck and resurfaced in order to be repaired, but in the meantime, this is causing plenty of traffic delays for anyone heading to and from West Chester. Even conservative US Senator Pat Toomey has said that funding road and bridge repair is an essential government function, and Pennsylvania has the highest number of structurally deficient bridges- 23% – in the Nation.  Plus, anyone who lives locally knows we have bridges of all shapes and sizes just about everywhere- many which have not fared well in recent winters and severe flooding. We are all inconvenienced when roads are closed, detours put in place, and traffic on just a few roads becomes almost impossible. We all know you can’t simply privatize infrastructure repair, and that we all benefit from having functioning roads and bridges. We clearly need better representation in Harrisburg, and to have someone who is willing to support funding for much needed infrastructure repairs.  It’s times like these that I simply don’t understand what my opponent was thinking when he made that vote, against the clear interests of his constituents.  It certainly helps me to know that I am doing the right thing running for office, and that I can, and will, do better.

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Contacting the Campaign

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Running for office is like starting a new business.  You need a new website.  You need business cards, head shots, and more.  And you need to define your business and what makes it great.

We’re working on making all of these things happen as soon as possible.  My wonderful treasurer, Rachel, is in place, and our political committee is in place and ready to accept donations.  We should have an electronic option available shortly, but in the meantime, any and all donation can be sent to:

Friends of Whitney

PO Box 801

Mendenhall, PA 19357

You can always call me on my cell at (302) 562-6507, or at our campaign number (484) 775-0401.

The campaign email address is : WhitneyforPA160@gmail.com

We’ve found that it’s going to be important to separate the campaign out from my regular website, here.  The new site is in process and should be available by May 1, if not sooner.  In the meantime, feel free to contact me through social media as well.

You can find me on Twitter: @LDpodcast or @WhitneyHoffman

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Brand Loyalty, Trust and Politics

My friend, C.C. Chapman, wrote a great blog post today about brand loyalty.  He wrote about how companies just giving away free stuff is often not enough to buy loyalty.  What these gifts and freebies buy is exposure to people who may be interested in your products, and it lets them kick the tires without making a huge financial commitment.  The product itself, and whether it delivers on its promises, ultimately, will be what earns trust and ultimately, loyalty for a brand.

I’m currently running against an incumbent for the PA House of Representatives, and in essence, I am trying to convince people to switch brands.  Like any good marketing campaign, it will be about asking the voters/consumers to take a look at what they currently have, whether they like what they have, or whether they are willing to have a look at an alternative.  The alternative has to make promises and show a vision for a different sort of future, and then deliver on those promises, as soon as possible.  Building that trust is a long term process, which is why being involved in communities, in person and online, is so important.  That trust has to start from somewhere, and it starts with your reputation.

Unlike the retail or business spheres, in politics, it’s much harder to prove you can deliver on promises in advance of “purchase” or choice.  You have to be elected to the position in order to start delivering, but we have some ideas we’re going to try in the coming months to see if it’s possible to start delivering on promises in advance.

One of the things I want to try is setting up a regular time where we can meet and discuss issues important to you.  Taking an evening out to meet a candidate is hard for many people with kids and busy lives, so we will try to do this virtually, through open online chats and calls, so you can ask me questions face to face, even if it’s over the internet.  I’ll be at all sorts of events, knocking on doors, and making phone calls, but with the internet, we can meet online, too, making it easier for us to meet and for me to hear your concerns.   I want to meet as many of you as possible in person, to hear what’s most important to you, and how we can make our community stronger.   That involves making sure our kids are college and career ready, and that there are jobs available to them as well as everyone in the community.

We need to help make it easier for entrepreneurs to start new businesses, and find ways to make the pathway to starting a new business easier and more streamlined, saving time and money.  We need to make sure everything from roads to schools are well funded and maintained.  We need to continue to help our local treasurers, like the Brandywine Battlefield, the Brandywine River Museum, and the recreational opportunities surrounding them, continue to attract visitors, both locally and from around the Country.

We live in a wonderful community, and we need to make sure everyone sees it not only as a convenient place to live to get to the larger cities that surround us, but as a great place to raise families and build a sense of place our kids will want to return to to raise their own families- a place full of opportunity, now and in the future.

 

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Women and the Banning Bossy Campaign

This week (and it’s only Wednesday!) has been a study in contrasts.  On Monday, I attended Senator Chris Coons’ Opportunity Africa Summit, attending sessions on business opportunities in Africa for small and medium businesses, and a session on women and power in Africa. In one session, the used a quote from Nelson Mandela, saying “As long as outmoded ways of thinking prevent women from making a meaningful contribution to society, progress will be slow. As long as the nation refuses to acknowledge the equal role of more than half of itself, it is doomed to failure.”

Yesterday, while I was filing paperwork to run for public office, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of “Lean In“, launched an initiative yesterday to “Ban Bossy“, which is already stirring up many debates online and in the news.

There’s a good argument to make that on some level, Mandela and Sandberg are talking about the same thing- empowerment of women. Mandela looks at the problem as one of raising all boats and one where the success of all depends on the success of women.  In contrast, I think the blow back facing the Ban Bossy campaign is read as “Here’s another tirade about how men are oppressing women, or there aren’t enough women doing X” by some folks, and it has a bit of a whiny undertone that I think grates on some people.

Back in law school, I had a debate with my roommate.  She thought some of the teachers weren’t calling on the women as much as the men in the room, and some of the other female students agreed. I countered with “Every time I raised my hand, I’m called on” which didn’t seem to settle well with her. Was I delusional?  Didn’t I see the discrimination that was happening? While there certainly were more men than women in class, I didn’t see anything that looked or felt like discrimination to me, and when I wanted to talk to a professor, in or out of class, they treated me like an engaged student.  My experience was that if you wanted to be called on or express your opinion, you needed to help make that happen, not wait to be selected at random from a crowd.

In the tech and social media world, we often hear people talking about making your own opportunities and doing what you love without waiting to be “discovered” by chance by a Hollywood producer while sitting at a lunch counter.  This is true in all walks of life.  You need to be always doing what you love, if you can, or working towards that goal, maximizing your talents along the way.  That way, even if you do get asked or picked to do something that seems outside your usual comfort zone, say, running for political office, you are ready.  You are ready to step up and take your turn at leadership.

I almost never hear the word bossy.  When I do, it’s usually when someone is impatient, and whats something done NOW and in the EXACT way that they want, no deviations.  Bossy is a close cousin to nagging,  which is what I get accused of when I remind the kids for the fourth time that the garbage won’t take itself out and it’s better to take it out before rather than after dark.  But even in this mundane circumstance, I’m imposing very specific constraints on my request, after I have already made the initial request and it just isn’t getting done to my liking or preference.  I have to remember when asking for something to be done, to be specific about the task and the time frame, as well as any other parameters, if they are important.  If not, I also need to let go, and give the other person a chance to do it, do it their way, on their time schedule, and be satisfied with that, rather than trying to micromanage the situation at hand. That’s being a good manager, and avoids the negative pitfalls that make other people roll their eyes in the background.

Women can step up- but we also have to take the opportunities when offered, and be willing to raise our hands and participate.  We can’t wait for an engraved invitation all the time.  We need to make sure we’re going to conferences where we want to speak, and get to know the people in charge, so we become part of the list of people they think about when looking for speakers.  We need to put in applications for jobs we know we’d be good at even if our skill sets don’t match the job description completely.

In every way, small and large, we need to help teach girls of all ages, that it’s okay to be in charge.  But it also means tolerating that everything might not be done to our exacting standards, and then we have to make a choice- is the job done good enough, or do we really need to critique versus coach the person towards improvement?  With kids, often the coaching approach works so much better, working towards goals, rather than grading everything on a pass/fail curve.

Leadership should always be about consensus building versus coercion- in any sphere.  No one group or person has a monopoly on good ideas, and we have to work together to find solutions.  As Bill Clinton said at the Opportunity Africa conference on Monday- the places in the world that are working together to creatively solve problems are prospering; where conflict reigns, progress is slow or nonexistent.  That’s true whether we’re talking about countries, governments, classrooms, or families.

Remember, we’re all playing on the same team for the human family here in the long run.  Let’s make sure we act more like a family, including taking turns running the show, and stepping up to solve problems or make a difference, when and where we can.

 

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