Hey 47

Today I may have ruptured heretofore unknown internal organs from laughing so much over the last 24 hours, and quite possibly my heart, which is bursting from all the love I’ve been getting from nearly everyone I know, everywhere.

Today I started a novel that kicked down the door of my inner life and finally spilled into words made of letters.

Today I bought myself the prettiest and most meaningful ring I’ll ever own.

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Today I had ice cream for breakfast with one of my best girlfriends. We tried on glasses at the hipster eyewear store and diamonds at Tiffany’s, where the salesgirl asked us if we are best friends. Goddamn right we are. And goddamned ice cream. For breakfast.

11021157_10152688055113015_7142242394920091283_nToday I had soup in the bath.

Today I brought my kid to her very first-ever mani.

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Tonight we ate what passed for dinner, and then dove into three kinds of cake I’d stored in the freezer. Plus popcorn, plus tea.

Tonight we watched Fantasia–all of it. I had forgotten most of it, as it had settled on a back shelf of my brain, a faded impressionist painting of Micky and a broom and all that water. Maybe I just needed to see it in the mellow metaphoric light of my 47th birthday.

Ave Maria indeed.

 

Vanessa McGradyHey 47

Podcast: Quitting Your Job, Starting Your Business

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 1.41.44 PMI was recently invited to be on career/personal coach John Tashe’s podcast as one of his inaugural guests. It’s a piece about things to remember before you quit your job and start to work for yourself. I loved talking to him. Have a listen if you’re so inclined.

Vanessa McGradyPodcast: Quitting Your Job, Starting Your Business

The Girl Who Got Mad at Flowers

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A: Love is a pink hula hoop!
B: Love is a blue umbrella!

A gives B pink hula hoop
B gives A blue umbrella

A: Why did you give me this blue umbrella?
B: Why did you give me this pink hula hoop?

Both sulk.

Valentine’s Day is loaded. Coupled, uncoupled, madly swiping dating profiles–so many of us carry the heavy baggage of expectation. Many years ago I worked with a girl named April who was dating a Very Nice Man who sent her a bouquet at the office. Not any cheap grocery store number, either. It was a mixed bouquet of dramatic, thoughtful blooms. April burst into tears and practically hurled the flowers into the trash. I asked her what was wrong.

“It’s Valentine’s Day! I wanted roses,” she sniffed, and then stormed off to fix her mascara.

I’m thinking a lot about love and its expectations. What I expect of it, and what it expects of me. And how we brush up against each other the unlikeliest of ways. I was sick last week and my ex-boyfriend had a bag of vitamins, ginger, tea and horrific-tasting natural remedies couriered over to me. I had a small dinner party last night and one of my best girlfriends, Meghan, brought over the most beautiful white roses; Linda arrived with Year of the Goat prosperity envelopes and decorations. I finally found a worthy home for Grace’s soft white cotton baby dress with the lace sewn on by her grandmother. As I handed it to Erika, who is hugely pregnant with her first child, we both got unexpectedly teary. And Grace made happy red and pink construction paper hearts and some kind of Dixie-cup butterfly thing that we’ve taped proudly to our window to signify that Love Lives Here.

Hoping you find your love somewhere tucked away in a corner where you forgot to look.

Vanessa McGradyThe Girl Who Got Mad at Flowers

Measles: A Battle of Love and Fear

Who would willingly subject their own kid, or an infant who becomes exposed, to the same fate as this little guy suffering through measles? Credit: CDC

 

I’ve spent a lot of time in recent weeks going berserk  raging marveling at how our first-world public health accomplishments could spiral so horribly out of control with recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough, dangerous diseases that were nearly eradicated for at least a generation due to high vaccination rates and the ensuing herd immunity. Even a couple of my coolest, smartest friends somewhere along the way read something or heard something that causes them to doubt the safety of vaccines. People believe what they want to believe. But last week, when my daughter’s preschool had a measles scare, the threat became very personal. Even though Grace is fully vaccinated, my mind reeled at the thought of what a school closure or quarantine might mean for all the school’s families, not to mention the suffering of one or more exposed children because somebody along the way chose not to vaccinate their own. (Fortunately, the child in question did not have measles.)

Today I posted a two-part story on Forbes.com: The first is how much measles costs (answer: up to $142,000 for a single case) and the other is how even highly educated, affluent parents don’t understand vaccine information they’re sifting through on the internet.

I know everyone loves their kids, and what we do for them (or don’t do, in the case of not immunizing), is because on some subterranean level, we’re scared every second of every day, and all the spaces in between the seconds, that something bad will happen to them. Anti-vaccers have the belief, which is not supported by any science, that vaccines are more harmful than the diseases against which they protect. I spoke with the exceptionally smart Dr. Courtney Gidengil, MD, at the RAND Corporation, an expert on pediatric infectious diseases, and she told me that studies show the course NOT to do something seems less harmful than DOING something, such as giving a vaccine, when parents are scared or confused.

Doing my research, I felt a lot of anger and disbelief that people would willingly risk the lives of babies and those who medically can’t tolerate vaccines because they have a “feeling” that vaccines are toxic. A 2014 vaccine safety study in Pediatrics reported a few adverse affects with vaccines, notably, ferbile seizures. My blood ran cold when I read this, because I’m not sure the anti-vaccers are aware of this. It seems like such a dangerous simplicity: “Fortunately, the adverse events identified by the authors were rare and in most cases would be expected to resolve completely after the acute event. This contrasts starkly with the natural infections that vaccines are designed to prevent, which may reduce the quality of life through permanent morbidities, such as blindness, deafness, developmental delay, epilepsy, or paralysis and may also result in death,” the report states.

Anyway, these stories are packed with science and lead directly to the reports and abstracts, which I hope you can use to show your friends–or make yourself less afraid.

Vanessa McGradyMeasles: A Battle of Love and Fear
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To The Left, To The Left: Why I Swiped You Out of My Life

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Never in my life have I consumed an alcoholic concoction to get rid of a hangover; this to me sounds like an express pass to a deeper circle of hell.

But after a recent ridiculous, disproportionate heartbreak, complete with Beyoncé on repeat, I decided to go for a little “hair of the dog” and go back online to date. OK, binge swipe, to be more accurate.

If there’s ever a game that taps into your most basic fight or flight instincts, Tinder is it—you evaluate people based on their attractiveness, the stories their pictures tell, plus a few choice words they may or may not include on their profile. You swipe right when you like someone, swiping left is “ta-ta, weirdo.” Some of you, of course, are completely lovable—diamonds in the pants pocket of a rummage sale.

But for the rest, here are just a few reasons why I swiped left:

 

 

Vanessa McGradyTo The Left, To The Left: Why I Swiped You Out of My Life

See me over at forbes.com

I’m thrilled to announce that this month I’ve started a new gig: Personal finance columnist at Forbes.com. I’ll be covering family finance, savvy shopping and spiritual prosperity. I hope you’ll come over and read me from time to time. OK, that’s not entirely true. I hope you’ll come over and read me ALL THE TIME.

 

Vanessa McGradySee me over at forbes.com