Author Archives: Paola Maldonado

Des complexes

before my climbing accident

before my climbing accident

When I was toddler in Ecuador, I tried to climb a wall shelving unit full of my dolls—and fell. The entire unit then fell on top of me. My mom tells me my face swelled up for days. I have no memory of the event, but it affected me for much of my life. And it wasn’t just the small scar on my nose that was left behind once the swelling went down.

I can’t remember when I first noticed my nose. I don’t know how old I was or what my initial thoughts about it were. What I do remember is that a few years later, my plastic surgeon uncle, during a short visit to the States for a medical conference, told me that once I was of age, he would fix it. Naturally, this caused me to pay an unusual amount of attention to my nose. I’d stare at it in the mirror from different angles. I’d pinch it and push it up, imagining what it would look if it were thinner, longer, less sloped and without the scar or the bump on the bridge. I became convinced  my childhood accident had ruined my nose, and that it was only a matter of time before my uncle would give me a new one.

selfie

one of the other 20%

At 18, I took a family trip back to the mother country, and as promised, my uncle was ready and willing to perform the long anticipated rhinoplasty for an insanely discounted price (about $120). I must be the only person who has turned down an almost-free nose job. And it’s not because I grew out of being  so self-conscious. Nope. I still think my nose looks awful in about 80% of photographs. I definitely considered the surgery, but in the end, I deemed it unnecessary. In my entire life, no one had ever cared about my nose as much as I’d had. In fact, most are unaware of the scar until I bring it to their attention, including boys I dated. Plus, the thought of waking up with a different face really freaked me out. And there was no guarantee that I’d not obsess over the new nose or find something else to obsess over. Thanks, but no thanks.

Recently, I suffered a bad fall that left me with a very swollen nose which I feared might be broken. It was probably the first time in my life that I longed to have my nose back to normal. Thankfully, it’s going to be just fine.

Do you have any facial features or body parts that you don’t love? How about scars or birthmarks? Would love to hear about your experiences dealing with them, and your journey toward acceptance.

F.Y.I.: “Des complexes” is a phrase I learned in my very first French class in college. It translates to “hangups” or, for those familiar with psychology, “complexes.”

Make Time for Social Media

Social Media Explained

I often hear from friends and family the many excuses for not having a social media presence. They don’t have the time. They think it’s pointless. They can’t stand the garbage that most people post. They can’t figure out how to use it. I could go on, but I’m sure you’ve all heard these, and maybe some of you even feel this way.

Well, I have some thoughts on this topic, but first… I am not ashamed to admit that I love social media! I thoroughly enjoy both writing and technology, and I love the idea of being able to communicate with anyone in the world at any time. So naturally, I would advocate for the use of social media. But the fact remains that I know so many who do not take advantage of this medium of communication. And surprisingly, many of these folks could really benefit from it. I’m referring to people in, or attempting to move into, areas such as technology, advertising, public relations, sales, entrepreneurship, anyone seeking employment, and many others. I’m baffled to hear these people don’t use Twitter, because they “just don’t like it,” or because they think hash tags are stupid. Or that somehow being active in social networks means you have no life or that you are self-absorbed. I recently had a friend tell me that she desperately wants a new job, but she does not have a LinkedIn account, because she’s too busy with her kids.

Like it or not, this technology not only isn’t going anywhere; it is becoming prevalent in almost every field. Many employers expect you to have some kind of online presence. Recruiters scour through LinkedIn for viable candidates. I’ve been asked for my Twitter handle on more than one occasion in applications. How else do you expect to be found? Why miss out on the many career and business opportunities, on the wealth of information, on blatant self-promotion (no shame in it!)?

I say, make the time! Think of it as an investment in yourself. Share on the topics that matter to you. Read the items you find interesting and relevant. Make it your own. Try to enjoy it if you can. But definitely build an online presence.

Hydration Experiment – Update

Something you always hear when trying to shed some weight is that you should drink plenty of water. I have such a hard time with this. I often forget, and when I remember, it’s because I’m already parched and only then realize I’ve had maybe one glass of water all day. I wonder how much this is really affecting me. It can’t be good. There is only one way to find out: Science!

I’m starting an experiment to see what happens when I suddenly drastically up my water intake to the recommended amount for my weight. I will follow up with the results in a couple weeks. Any tips on how to stay hydrated?

Update (8-8-13): I’ve had little success with this experiment, and that’s because I just can’t seem to stay hydrated. I don’t know why this is such a struggle for me.  I’ve tried carrying around a canteen. I’ve tried alternating with green tea for some variety. I even tried a mobile app that reminds me to drink water throughout the day. Nothing has worked for even a week.

A few weeks ago, I had the worst leg cramps in the middle of the night for several days due to dehydration. I think my body has become so used to being in a dehydrated state that I don’t even recognize when I’m thirsty anymore, which is obviously all the time. Any advice would be much appreciated. Water is so essential to proper functioning of the body that I worry about how much harm I may be doing by neglecting my water intake. And then I think about people who don’t have fresh water available to them like I do, and I feel worse about it. Is this what people refer to as a “First World Problem”?

Fun Fact: My Big Fat Family

My office puts out a monthly “Fun Facts” on the department website. Given that I work for a home health care agency, and that we deal with the  evaluation and analysis of patient data, these posts can be interesting, but I would hardly call them fun. So, I decided to put together fun facts about myself. Hopefully, they’re entertaining, and it can turn into a series of fun facts in the weeks to come. This is all in the spirit of keeping me writing, despite my suddenly very busy life.

HPIM0104

When I tell people that I have five younger siblings, their eyes usually pop out of their heads. I suppose it’s impressive, but for me it’s just a fact of my life. The age differences between us is what I find more shocking. The youngest of my siblings, my little sister, is 19 years younger than I am. She just turned 13 a couple months ago, and a couple weeks after that, I turned 32. Needless to say, there was always a battle for my mom’s attention at home, one that I usually lost to my younger and more demanding siblings.

But, there were some benefits to being the eldest sibling, and I would say the most significant was being able to watch my younger siblings grow up. I have a ton of great memories of them doing and saying hilarious things. Like the time the youngest of my brothers got a battery stuck up his nose, and then expelled it by using what he called “the force.” Or the time the middle brother became so upset after getting a haircut which he felt made him “look ugly.” He must have been 3 or so years old, but even then he had a sense of style. And then there’s my little sister, who hasn’t stopped chatting since the moment she learned to talk, and somehow always manages to be hysterical.

One interesting fact is that they see me as an adult, and not just a big sister. When we were younger, this meant that they were fascinated by everything I did and were especially intrigued by my belongings. I once asked them in a rage why they insisted on sneaking into my room all the time and touching my stuff, and they told me: “It’s because you’re so cool!” and really meant it. It made me laugh, because I realized that I had never placed myself in their shoes and imagined what it would be like to have a much older sibling. It was a very strange setup indeed.

I lived at home until I was about 27. The lack of privacy and the incessant sound of children playing drove me bananas. Nowadays, I miss my siblings seeing me as a “super-sister,” (like a super-senior in high school) before they became teenagers way cooler than I am. Thankfully, I have a bunch of memories (and pictures) of their less cool days to deflate their big heads. Above is my youngest sister during her Hannah Montana phase, which she is now so over. The picture was taken on her 8th birthday.

Snowy Day in New York City

Snow Day

The view from my 20th floor office