Category Archives: Home & Family

Learning with TechWomen Team Tunisia

TechWomen Team Tunisia in San Jose, CA 2022-10-1
TechWomen Team Tunisia in San Jose, CA 2022-10-1

I am honored to help mentor five TechWomen Emerging Leaders from Tunisia during their visit to the USA. The U.S. State Department – Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs – TechWomen program connects and supports the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by providing them the access and opportunities to advance their careers and pursue their dreams.

So far, our team has spoken online, been to a kickoff event hosted by Twitter at their San Francisco headquarters (I got to wear the embroidered cape I bought in Tunisia in 2015), and enjoyed dinner together at my house in San Jose. We are learning about each other, and working on the project again online, Tuesday night! This term, I am happy to be a TechWomen Co-Mentor with Darpana Pendyala (Hardware Design Engineer, Marvell), and Priyanka Sahay (Director, Product Marketing, LinkedIn).

TechWomen Team Tunisia 2022-09-23
TechWomen Team Tunisia 2022-09-23
TechWomen Team Tunisia in San Jose, CA 2022-10-1
TechWomen Team Tunisia in San Jose, CA 2022-10-1

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Filed under Home & Family, Mentoring & Other Business, Mentoring Standard, News & Reviews

Last Day of Beatles Year

The lyrics of “When I’m Sixty-Four” by Paul McCartney of The Beatles start, “When I get older losing my hair, Many years from now, Will you still be sending me a Valentine, Birthday greetings bottle of wine. If I’d been out till quarter to three, Would you lock the door? Will you still need me, will you still feed me When I’m sixty-four?” Tonight, I end my Beatles Year!

I start my new half-decade tomorrow. Such a delightful adventure!

Jessica and Matthew wedding 2011
Jessica and Matthew wedding 2011

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Weight – Keeping Steady

Katy Dickinson, 22 Sep 2022
Katy Dickinson, 22 Sep 2022

I am about three months into my weight maintenance program. As I wrote earlier, I started using the Noom program for weight loss and wellness in October 2021 and lost about sixty pounds by July 2022. Last month, I realized that Noom does not really offer a weight maintenance program, so I shifted to using the free Fooducate nutrition and weight tracker.

Fooducate is working well for me. I like that the home page displays how many calories I have left to spend each day, and that I can save a regular meal so I don’t have to reenter the information if I eat the same selections again. I am trying to keep within two pounds on either side of my target weight (and not to get stressed if my weight bounces up and down a bit).

One surprise with this health improvement journey is that in some areas, my skin has contracted at a slower rate than my muscles and other parts. Sometimes, this feels like being inside a deflating balloon. However, with regular walking and weight maintenance, my skin has continued to contract, so I hope to reach equilibrium in time. While losing weight, I bought successively smaller sizes of Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda jeans – for sale prices – so I could compare progress. I started at size 18. In July when I reached my goal, I was a size 10 but have now shrunk to a size 8, at the same weight.

My son Paul and I put together list below for a friend who recently started a weight loss journey using Noom. (This only represents our experience – your mileage may vary. Use a program that works for your health and way of doing things and you will be more likely to stick with it.)

  • Remember to drink / log plenty of water daily, makes you feel more full (at least ten cups of liquid per day)
  • Drink water 30 minutes before each meal
  • Read the Noom daily lessons, take advice that makes sense to you, ignore the rest
  • Noom’s group discussion function can help you be accountable for taking regular walks
  • Figure out a portion size metric (volume vs. weight) that works best for you, stick to the one metric for simplicity
  • Weigh in every day, expect lots of fluctuations (even five pounds up or down in one week) because of water retention
  • Write down your key body measures at the start so you can compare later (bust, waist, hips, around upper arm and upper leg), and to help you know what size you are
  • Weigh in, & log water and food on Noom daily, even if you are frustrated, or stuck/ plateaued. Getting stuck at one weight for weeks or months seems to be a usual part of the journey.
  • Drink a big glass of water after you weigh in each morning.
  • If you are on vacation or away from a scale, you can just repeat you last weight each day to keep the pattern going
  • Buy some clothes that fit as you reach each new size so you feel good about making progress. Thredup online consignment and thrift store is a good choice – for both cost and fashion choices. If you don’t love a clothing item, or it does not fit properly, do not buy it. If you bought it online, return it! You need to be happy with yourself and how you look.
  • Buy clothes by measurement, not size. My key measures and shape are different than they were when I was last at my current weight.
  • Some Noom (and Fooducate) food database entries are unrealistically low or high in calories – I think these are user-entered. When in doubt, break it down – log not a whole “serving” portion but the components (for example: green salad “serving” may be made up of mixed leafy greens + dressing + croutons, you can find individual calorie counts for each)
  • Walk or exercise every day and carry your smart phone so the steps count, to give you a better idea of how much you actually move. I use the Apple Health app on my iPhone which can share information with both Noom and Fooducate.
  • Add extra exercise under Noom’s “Track More Progress” if you do yard work, or exercise without your smart phone
  • On Noom, you can set “weight loss speed” under Noom settings (three lines at upper left of screen) from tortoise to cheetah, in case you want to go slower or faster

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2 Summer Trips

John Plocher, Katy Dickinson, Loon Lake, Wisconsin June 2022
John Plocher, Katy Dickinson, Loon Lake, Wisconsin June 2022

Our family went on two short trips this summer. John and visited the Plocher family at Loon Lake, Wisconsin, in June. At the end of August, John and I and our kids took a road trip through Northern-Northern California, including a ride on the Skunk Train from Willets. John and Paul and I were in one car and Jessica and Matthew were in another.

Loon Lake, Wisconsin

Plocher family, Loon Lake, Wisconsin June 2022
Plocher family, Loon Lake, Wisconsin June 2022

California Road Trip

Dickinson family, Willits, California, August 2022
Dickinson family, Willits, California, August 2022

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Filed under Caboose Project and Other Trains, Home & Family

Fixing What Doesn’t Show

Starting construction, 19 July 2022
Starting construction, 19 July 2022

John Plocher and I are in the process of fixing up our 90-year-old Spanish Mission style home in Willow Glen (San Jose, California). One of the duties of homeownership is maintenance, particularly fixing what does not show. We just completed Phase One of a maintenance project, including adding new French drains to redirect water away from the house, repairing some rocky tiles on the side porch, replacing a front porch post, adding better support for the ground floor so that the front door opens all the way, and replacing a walkway-with-a-step with a ramp. This work will not meet the realtors’ goal of “increasing the value of your home” for resale, but since this is our family’s forever home, it is enough that the work increases its comfort and value to us. We got virtual tours of the ongoing work under the house using FaceTime.

Some of maintenance challenges come from ours being an old (if well-built) house, and others from the land being part of the original Willow Glen swamp of the Guadalupe River. The ground shifts annually with seasonal moisture changes, causing stucco cracks and sometimes making doors stick. The most unhappy person with the construction has been Princess, our porch cat, who resented the disruption of her royal domain. Phase Two is being planned now!

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Reached My Weight Goal!

Katy Dickinson, 17 July 2022
Katy Dickinson, 17 July 2022 (with earrings erased by John‘s iPhone Portrait setting)

As I wrote in April, I have been using the  Noom program for weight loss and wellness. I am proud of myself that as of today, I met my 145 pound weight goal – hooray! Changing my eating patterns, losing over 60 pounds, and reducing my size from extra large (XL) to small (S) was not easy. There were many frustrating weeks when nothing seemed to happen. When I started in October 2021, Noom’s original estimate for my completion date was months ago. Nonetheless, today I am in the new phase of weight maintenance rather than loss. I had fun buying new clothes for my changed figure, since nothing but my shoes and scarves still fit. I have discovered by trial and error that I am now a Talbots size 8, Chico’s size 1, t-shirt size small, Gloria Vanderbilt size 10, Land’s End size 12 swimsuit but size 10 shirt, and Zuri medium size dress (but small shirt).

Read to the end of this post for a funny poem by my Grandma…

Katy Dickinson, 11 Oct 2021-17 July 2022 Noom Weight Graph
Katy Dickinson, 11 Oct 2021-17 July 2022 Noom Weight Graph

Weight management is a family problem, as illustrated by the following poem written by my Grandma, Evelyn Van Gilder Creekmore. I expect to work on maintenance for the rest of my life but am happy to have reached today’s milestone. Thank you to friends and family who have patiently supported my journey toward better health.

Visiting Grandchildren

Katy came first, a slender girl
Afraid to gain one ounce of weight,
Her diet worried me no end –
Grapefruit was almost all she ate.
But next came Pete, a teenage boy
Who loved roast beef, and cake, and pie,
Milk by the gallon, ham and steak –
(We gained a few pounds – he and I)
Then after Pete his brother came,
I stocked the freezer well with meat,
But Mark’s a vegetarian now –
So I fixed salads and cracked wheat.
Then after Mark came Rip whose diet
Consists of steaks (by choice T-Bone)
So we lived high on rare cooked steak,
(I couldn’t let him eat alone.)
My budget fluctuated much,
As likewise did my weight,
In matching menus day by day
To choice of food each grandchild ate.

(p.58 in Day’s Journey by Evelyn Van Gilder Creekmore, Copyright 1985. All Rights Reserved.)

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Graduations

GTU Commencement 7 May 2022
GTU Commencement 7 May 2022

Spring is graduation season and this year, I joyfully walked the stage in-person for my Graduate Theological Union – Master’sTheology degree, as well as graduating three of my own student-mentees from the University of the South – School of Theology – Education for Ministry (EfM) extension program.

My GTU – MA and Master’s hood were officially presented online last year* but GTU offered the 2020 and 2021 pandemic-years graduates an opportunity to walk in-person this year. I was hooded by Associate Dean of Students, Dr. Wendy Arce in a ceremony at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley. I was also awarded the Interreligious Chaplaincy Certificate, as only the second person to complete the new GTU – ICP program. Part of ICP is completing a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), which for me meant working part-time as a Chaplain Intern for five months at Stanford Hospital during a pandemic surge. Several of us from Stanford Hospital – Spiritual Care Services graduated from GTU together this year. I was happy that my family which lovingly supported me during my long educational journey was present for my graduation.

Co-Mentor Karen LeBlanc, with whom I have led EfM seminars together for over twelve years, celebrated with me the graduations of Joel Martinez (graduated 2020, diploma presented 2022) and Beth Hopf at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, CA), and Mark LeBlanc (Karen’s husband) at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church (Cupertino, CA). Joel, Beth, and Mark faithfully completed four years of EfM study and theological reflection on the Bible, church history, theology, and ethics.

*Read my thesis here: “Range of Chaplain Engagement with Prisoners”

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Filed under Chaplain, Church, Home & Family, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews