We Defy Definition

Hello Friends,

I hope you are well and are enjoying some New Year’s Eve peace and joy. As we bring this year to a close I know many of us are hoping that 2021 brings a little more lightness and brightness than 2020.

As someone who treasures time alone or in small groups, this was a year of relative freedom for me. While being released from a job can be stressful for many, I was grateful to have solid savings and unemployment funds to tide me over during the transition to my next venture.

I began a team coaching certification program in September at The Medici Group, which I will complete in February 2021. I enjoyed teaching yoga online through Healing Within Acupuncture & Wellness Studios. I provided personal coaching services to a few 1:1 clients, and I had lots of time for my favorite things: reading books, writing and snuggling on the couch with my hubby, with no pressure to be social.

I co-taught yoga sessions like “De-Stress for the Holidays” (available free on YouTube) with yoga sisters Amy Klous and Krista Steinbach, and connected with other wellbeing professionals at Ikigai Lab. I worked with my lovely coach, Stephanie, founder of Our Natural Wisdom. And I re-discovered my sense of purpose and mastery that led to me leaving a corporate position in 2018 to pursue my own endeavors.

One day, upon being asked (once again) for a bio prior to a presentation I was about to give, I threw up my hands in despair. Why do people keep wanting me to define myself based on my past? Seriously, it is an existential and also a practical question. I prefer to define myself based on my vision for the future. So I wondered if I might create community and offerings around embracing everyone’s gifts, not defining people based on roles, job titles or diagnoses. 

As someone with variable attention (which I do not consider a deficit, as a diagnosis might suggest) I struggle to BE just one thing. I enjoy so many things, and my creativity is enhanced by my ability to see the connections between things. And while I am “mexi-minnesotana,” it is only ONE aspect of my personality, not the totality of me.

And I know this is true of YOU also! You are not just a mother, a sister, a teacher, a writer, a caregiver, an employee. You are a multi-dimensional, beautiful human being! Can we all take a moment to celebrate that? Okay, now carry on with your day. 🙂

While I know my business will evolve over time, for now I plan to write, speak and advocate for those of us that refuse to be tamed and tethered by the terms others use to define us. We will together Unleash, Unlearn & Enliven. The world needs us, and it is time to step out of the shadows and be our full selves.

Grateful for the supportive community here that has actively championed my contributions here for 3+ years. Much love to you all!

cristy@wedefydefinition.com

P.S. To learn more, or to participate in a weekly free yoga series I will offer in 2021 called Body Love Yoga (Tuesdays 7:30-8:15am Central time), email me for a Zoom link. We will practice radical self-love, breath work, gentle soma yoga and meditation.

You knew I couldn’t resist, right?

I watched the final debate on Thursday night, and I can’t resist a few comments.

You know that would happen, didn’t you? I am a feminista, and a woman who believes in racial justice and equity for all.

I want to encourage you to vote early if you can in Minnesota. This is an option for us, and because we are in a pandemic, extending the ability cast ballots safely is an important consideration.

I want to ask you to consider, no matter what party you are in, please VOTE. You know which way I am voting. I can’t hide it. I vote pro-choice, pro-woman, pro-family.

This 4-button pack is available at the Team Joe website.
I’m partial to the Kamala shirt.
Anything you can do to help would be appreciated, I am sure.

The harasser in chief has called Mexicans rapists and drug dealers (and some of them are good people, he conceded). I’ll let you guess which one I am.

I am a Mexican American woman. Women are shouldering a much higher burden during this pandemic. Latina women are facing unprecedented levels of job loss.

This pandemic is not showing any signs of slowing in this country. In fact, the infection rates are spiking in many states. Our economy needs support, and the President is intent on getting a Supreme Court nominee in place rather than committing to helping the American people.

This 4-year nightmare needs to end. It is bad enough that this presidency continues into January, even if the American people win in November. And he must be defeated. Biden has the good sense to steer us into better days. His experience, empathy and judgment have never been more crucial.

The ultimate “mute” button for those of us who are tired a constant stream of lies is to vote for Joe Biden.

End of PSA/rant. Love you all.

cristy@meximinnesotan.com

I am not convinced

There are a few vaccine trials that have started in the United States in the Phase 3 stage. I tried to find out more about one of them that was covered by NPR about the COVID-19 Prevention Network. To be honest, I hoped to see some reports on the preliminary results of the Phase I and II parts of the trial.

I could not find any such reports on the website, or any indications of possible adverse effects that could occur in the phase III trial. I signed up to be part of the screening for the trial (and did not receive a confirmation email). There is not a research site near me, so that is probably why. I could not find relevant scientific information, even on the Clinical Trials.gov site where such reports are required to be posted.

COVID-19 prevention network

Quite frankly, I am skeptical. I believe that the only way we can get back to a “new normal” and something like a post-COVID-vulnerable era is to be sure that a vaccine is developed. And at the same time, I would not recommend that friends or family members sign up for a trial conducted by Moderna. According to my sources (which include Wikipedia), Moderna has has mostly unsuccessful trials. In addition, it has been criticized for being secretive and not publishing peer-reviewed papers for its trials.

This is a warning flag to me. It seems like a company that is good at raising a lot of funds, without a lot of results. Science takes time to advance, and it also requires collaboration, not secrecy, in order to work well.

What troubles me is that science that is rushed is not subject to peer review. In fact, I learned of a study in the Lancet that was completely suspect due to the methodology was retracted, and that was shocking given their reputation. I remember reading it and wondering how the data were compiled so quickly given the difficulties in aggregating  from different instances of EPIC and other health data systems. As it turns out, Surgisphere, the company that provided the data was not able to “show their work” and methodology to validate their conclusions.

If you plan to sign up for a trial, my advice is this: be wary. Ask a lot of questions. Make sure you have time to think it over before signing up. Do research on the company and their background. If you are not convinced, do not sign up. Have your own “friendly clinical researcher”* reviewer take a look at the materials you are provided. I am very sad to say that in this era of misinformation and disinformation being published, the public needs to be even more careful.

Wear your masks when in public spaces, wash your hands and take good care, friends.

-cristy@meximinnesotana.com

*And if I do have fellow clinical research colleagues reading these studies and coming up with different conclusions, I would love to hear your feedback as well. 

 

Why did it happen this way?

It did not have to happen this way. But a lack of competent leadership will do that. The U.S. has about a quarter of the worldwide COVID-19 cases. This puts “we’re number one” in a new light, no?

Daily cases July 16, 2020
Snapshot from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center 7/16/2020

Don’t do it for yourself. Masks are not worn to protect you. Masks are worn to protect your community from small micro droplets that are released when you talk, cough or sneeze.

They don’t protect people completely, but they do slow the spread. And the main reason we want to slow the spread is so that hospitals are able to deal with the influx of cases. Also, maybe some of us care about human life and dignity.

My sister is a nurse. I don’t want her to have to deal with the results (y)our carelessness. Rural hospitals do not have the supplies that leaders claimed they would have. They must reuse the supplies they have. This is not a good situation.

Humans have difficulty with exponents. We think in linear ways, so these “hockey stick” curves work are not easily grasped. We saw this with the last big recession in 2008-2009. One minute it seemed things were fine: everyone was making money on flipping houses. And the next minute: financial disaster. Some saw the signs and warned us. But most people partied until they got laid off.

I get it. Or I try to be patient anyway.

Things don’t become serious until they are, well, SERIOUS. 

With nearly 14 million cases as of this writing, and almost 600,000 deaths so far attributed to this virus, one might think we could get a clue.

I know this is a rant.

I try to be more measured than this most days. My anger and disgust at the self-centered behavior I keep seeing, particularly in national leadership, is usually something I control. I’m a yoga teacher, for cripes sake. I meditate daily.

And yet.

My rage at incompetent leaders. Cannot. Be. Contained. Some days.

Wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your distances when possible. 

Your community thanks you for thinking beyond yourself.

***

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trials and tribulations

Hi Friends,

I have been wondering how best to use my expertise and skills to be of service during the COVID-19 situation, and brainstorming ways to put my experience to good use in a new job.

Offering yoga online has been very fulfilling, and it has allowed me to contribute to keeping a small business running that had to close acupuncture operations for 2.5 months. I love getting to know my students better and the Sunday (Re)treats have been my favorite.

It has also occurred to me that clinical trials are running for treatments and for vaccines to help save lives and stop the spread of this infection. I have 12+ years of experience as a clinical researcher, and I am good at explaining technical concepts to non-scientists in a way that makes sense. Mission taking shape…

Web MD coronavirus picture
Photo credit – WebMD (COVID-19: What You Should Know)

I have noticed that Universities have difficulty explaining clinical trials to potential participants in ways they understand. Many of their resources are text-heavy and use a lot of technical terms. It is a chronic problem for the informed consent process as well, which is required before volunteering to participate in a trial.

In service to helping people understand which trials might be the best fit, I am considering a series on de-mystifying the clinical trial process. It may be a matter of curating the best content that is available and sharing it. I am strongly committed to advocating for participants who may be confused and want clarification of their questions.

The ACRP (Association of Clinical Research Professionals) explains that with the pandemic looming large at hospitals, many trial sites are not recruiting participants and face the danger of not completing their enrollments. This could have devastating effects on the development of other life-saving therapies outside of this virus.

My questions are these:

  • Have you ever thought about volunteering for a clinical trial?
  • What are your reservations about participating in a trial?

For now, since the biggest question people seem to have for the news media on vaccines and trials is: why will this take so long? I am posting an info-graphic from St. Luke’s which nicely summarizes the process. I’ll be back later this week or next to follow further in bite-sized stories if there is interest in this topic.

phases of a clinical trial
Credit to St. Luke’s Cancer Clinical Trials Center for this graphic

Stay well and safe. Wash your hands. Wear your mask. Be kind.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com