Friday, July 2, 2010

What's Stopping You?

I know it has been a while since I’ve blogged. A lot of life has come swirling in and turning things in different directions. I’m finally on the right path again and am looking at the path I want to take. But, boy oh boy, is it scary!

Like many others, I was laid off recently. And like many others I have been trying to replace my insecurity with a variety of things: cleaning, exercise, mental worrying, insomnia, junk food, resume after resume sent out. It’s a very unsettling feeling to know that in one minute you are no longer worth the salary you had. Your skills and experience are now worth half of what they were.

It’s times like this that people emerge into two categories – those who see the opportunity to try something new, and those who wallow in self-pity. Changing careers can be uncomfortable, but that usually means you are doing the right thing. If it felt safe and you didn’t have any butterflies in your stomach, then you aren’t really living life to the fullest.

According to Bruce Barringer and Duane Ireland, in their book “What’s Stopping You?”, we use the term “risk” to indicate the probability of a loss. The two terms used in conjunction with risk are endowment effect and loss aversion.

Endowment effect refers to the fact that we value something more once we posses it. (Didn’t care about grandma’s china until she was gone and it passes to you) Loss aversion is the tendency that people have to prefer avoiding losses rather than acquiring gains. (Game shows are good examples of not giving up the money now for the chance of a bigger prize) These concepts also explain why we would rather keep our bad job than jump out to find or start a new one.

The three activities we can all do right this minute to make objective decisions about our careers are:
1. Determine what you want out of life. This is actually the hardest step and must be done thoroughly. Write in a journal, make a picture wish list, but get everything on paper so you can see it and connect with it.
2. Be realistic when answering “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” There are lots of things that I could say would suck, but is it really life and death? So what if I fail? Will the world stop rotating? I highly doubt it. And you can replace “things” if you loose them.
3. Research, research, research. Whether it’s starting your own business, or changing careers, you need to know what is out there. Knowledge is power.

So, I am at a crossroads in my life. I lost a good job. I want a career that I love. I need flexibility for my family and a decent salary. I’m tired of sacrificing my life’s joy for everyone else’s comfort. I need to feel proud of myself.

As I progress through my life’s career change, I’ll keep you posted, so if any of you are on the fence you can know what is coming. See you on the other side,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Massage Therapy

Recently, I came across an article in Natural Health magazine explaining a few different types of massage. I had no idea what I was missing! So I did some research and found there are over 160 different types of massage…

What if massage therapy was considered as normal, routine care paid for by insurance like a chiropractor or family doctor well check visit? I would be first in line to pay my co-pay! Massage is deeply healing for depression, pain, immunity problems, diabetes, cancer, and the obvious = stress. When your body is in Dis-Ease it harbors disease. Your circulation slows and your body shuts down. Massage keeps your body flowing.

Here are a few different types of massage you should try out soon…
1. Swedish – moderate pressure and long strokes that run along the grain of the muscle; good for beginners and relaxation
2. Deep Tissue – penetrating kneading, cross grain strokes and trigger points; can be painful during the process but worth it afterwards; for chronic tension and muscular injuries. Hot stones are sometimes used to pre-treat an area first.
3. Shiatsu – you may have a hand-held massager at home but therapists apply acupressure and gentle stretching to work with your body’s meridian system (organ system); good for stomach issues, PMS, insomnia, headaches
4. Thai or Breema – you keep your clothes on and the therapist works your body through a series of stretches, “passive yoga”
5. Abhyanga – using herb-infused oils and stroking to address imbalances in the doshas (energies that govern life); good if you need a balance in your life
6. Lomi Lomi – Hawaiian massage; long flowing rhythmic strokes and forearm pressure; releases emotional tension stored in the musculature
7. Craniosacral therapy – ultra-light touch to balance pressure in the spine between your cranium and sacrum; helps muscle release by working with the nervous system; good for headaches, allergies, sinusitis, or mental freak outs
8. Reflexology – each of the body’s organs are connected to an area on the bottom on the foot so applying pressure can change the body functions

I think we need to demand massage becomes part of routine maintenance care! Though, if you were getting massages on a regular basis you probably wouldn’t need as many pharmacy visits or joint replacement surgeries or depression drugs and I don’t know how those people would make a living. If you were healthy, the CEO’s of our insurance companies wouldn’t be able to get their millions of dollars of bonuses each year. How sad.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just Do It

Today’s blog is sort-of stolen from Nike, “Just Do It”. There are so many times when we talk and talk so much about things – dreams, passions, giving, adventures – that little action is ever actually attached. Which I guess you could say that no action is an action, and the deed you say you wanted to do is not really big enough in your heart to begin with to start you moving.

I wonder sometimes if the words, “Let me know if there is anything I can do” are said because the person really wants to help you and has no clue how to do it, if they are afraid of offending you by volunteering something specific, or if they are just said to be nice but secretly hoping you never ask for anything difficult. Many times I have found people off-guard when I respond, “Great, can you ______?” There is always this silence, then slowly “Ummm, well, sure” or “Oh, sorry, we are totally booked up this weekend.” Which both responses may be okay, but counter to the “anything” that was offered. So the person needing help now feels rejected, as well as overwhelmed, and guilty for asking for anything in the first place because they just now put their friend out….and the friend is uncomfortable for being put on the spot and feeling guilty for not wanting to, or being able to, help.

And in the end, no action is taken. Really? Nothing? Why?

What if we volunteered, and did, exactly what we could give? What if we were specific in our actions and not general in our talk? Remember when babies were born and everyone brought over dinners? Or when a husband died, someone sent over their oldest son to take care of the yard? There was no asking, help just arrived and everyone in the community felt good about it. Those who received felt blessed with kindness and friendship. Those giving were honored to share their wealth with others, whether it was food, physical labor, or laughing company. Each day brought a new surprise from people who cared.

So if you keep saying, “I want to make a difference” then Just Do It. Plain and simple, put some actions behind your words. Stop asking (and making excuses) and put your body to work. Whether it’s for your dreams and passions or giving to another person, nothing will ever happen unless you take a step forward. It’s not always the thought that counts if there’s nothing to pair it with. No one will complain to come home from work to a yard that is mowed or flowers planted. No one will say no to a home cooked meal or basket of groceries. No one will reject a funny card or movie. No one will give up a free babysitter. And if they do, then you know in their hearts they really need a lot more loving attention from you, because their soul has hardened over time.

Your actions really can make all the difference in someone’s life. For those who have helped me, I thank you with all my heart!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wishbone and Mother's Day

In honor of Wishbone Day, here’s Sami story….
The morning of September 24, 2003 was so full of opposing emotions that my heart still races and my chest feels like it’s full of lead almost five years later. I was sending my daughter to death, on purpose.

It started in May with a routine ultrasound. I was so excited, since I didn’t have an ultrasound with my son. It was like being pregnant for the first time all over again. Afterwards, the nurse was quiet and left the room. A long while passed before a doctor came in. As he viewed the screen in the darken room, moving the wand over my belly, he too was quiet and I knew something was wrong.

“Her arms and legs are too short, and they are very bowed. You’ll need to see a specialist.”
What? But I’m a healthy mom! Maybe it’s just dwarfism. Okay, we can adapt to that.
But the specialist didn’t have better news. I had to undergo a very painful amino to run the 5 tests our insurance would pay for. We discovered there are 200 different types of dwarfism, and we weren’t lucky enough to get a “run of the mill” variety. The high tech ultrasound machines they had showed much more detail than the clinic’s that was used previously…more details like fractures and deformities.
“She either has campomelia or osteogenesis imperfecta type II. Either way, she will only live 24 hours.”
24 hours. One whole day. Will she suffer those 24 hours? Do I end the pregnancy now so she won’t suffer? Why do I have to make that decision? How horrible for a mother to decide that! Which is better – to die now or to keep breaking and die later? Am I being selfish by procrastinating the decision?
At 7 months pregnant we made her funeral plans. A friend of ours, who operates a funeral home, took care of all the details. All the while I could feel her kicking my belly in protest. I cried for hours in my three year old son’s room that night, trying to hold on to his precious life while mourning the loss of the other still inside me.
Do I finish the nursery? Can I stand to walk by it everyday if she’s not there? Will that torture me everyday? Am I giving up on her if I don’t finish it? Each time I picked up my son, or bumped my belly on a chair or the steering wheel, she would break, and I would see it on the ultrasound that week.

D-Day. Delivery Day. The last day of my old life. The c-section was scheduled for 9am on the 24th of September. How could I willingly take her from her safe haven inside me and watch her die? I could feel her alive and moving and it would soon stop. Why couldn’t I have just one more day with her? Because if I went into labor I’d kill her right away – contractions puncturing lungs with cracked ribs, brain damage with a cracked skull – and that would lose the last bit of hope I was holding on to. It was so hard to be the rock for everyone else while I carried the emotional and physical, but delicate, burden each day. I knew that if I crumbled, the rest of my family would as well. And I had a small fairy of hope that she would live. I was practical enough to brace myself for the worse, but faithful enough to know that hope wasn’t completely lost. I also had a son to care for, so I wasn’t allowed to rest, I had to push forward.
By 9:30am she was out and the count down was on. I still had a lot of sewing up to do, as they had to cut me from top to bottom to get her out as best as possible, and I hated every minute of being on the table when my daughter’s minutes were passing in the NICU. Didn’t they understand we only had 24 hours together?
As soon as they would allow me to fall into a wheelchair, I was in the NICU with her. She was hooked up to every imaginable device and I didn’t think there was any more room on her body to attach anything else to. The nurses let me hold her on a pillow until I started to get too pale. I had to leave. I had to leave my baby alone. What if she died while I slept? What kind of a mother leaves her child for sleep? But I had another child to think about as well. I wouldn’t let her be alone, so I told every member of my family to rotate turns staying with her. I was in the NICU as much as I was allowed. Back and forth, back and forth. Which child do I choose?
And then, without any fan fare, the 24 hour mark passed. We watched the clock and we made it! Could life be a second chance? Or would it come crashing down now? The weight started to lift from my chest and I could breathe again little by little.
48 hours, 72 hours. Could we make it a week?

She was finally transferred to the Children’s Mercy Hospital so a plan could be made. I could go home. My husband and I traded off days and nights spent at the hospital and home with our son for a week. My incision wasn’t healing, probably because I was standing next to her crib, driving to and from home, and tending to my son, but I didn’t care. We passed the day of emotional hell and we were all alive! Our whole future lay ahead of us with prospects. We were sent home with a “good luck” and I know the luck has stuck with us.

The saying “life is too short” has been ingrained into my heart since that day and I now live each day to the fullest; no matter how tired I am. In no way do I pamper either of my children (we later discovered that our son has Aspergers, a high functioning autism). I believe in Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s thought that “a mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary”. Disabilities aside, I require politeness and clean rooms just like all other moms. Everyday brings a new challenge (could be a bone break, or a field trip at school, or hurt feelings from another child who doesn’t understand autism or brittle bones) so our family has to stretch ourselves, learn on the fly, and be five times more prepared for the unknown. Some people are overly generous, some ignorant, and some just plain stupid – c’est la vie!
From that first 24 hours of hell, Sami is now in Kindergarten, taking the school district by storm, and opening all new buckets of wrenches. She’s been in ads for the Children’s Hospital of Omaha (the little ballerina on the huge billboard) and was given the wonderful gift of a Disney vacation by the Dream Factory of Kansas City.

For mother’s day I have to reflect that I’m a different kind of Mom. I’ve learned to take care of myself first or I’m a horrible mother. Being a martyr didn’t get me anywhere but tired, depressed and resentful. The fear of a small bump doing major damage to Samantha is always there and some days I still cry in the closet because life is overwhelming. Most days, though, I see my kids doing extraordinary things (Sami crawling up on the tub ledge or Carter remembering how to interact with a friend that isn’t off-putting) and smile with gratitude for each emotion, good and bad, I was allowed to experience on September 24, 2003, and every day since. I am the Diamond, strong and beautiful, because of the pressure I’ve been put under.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bucket of Wrenches

Sometimes life is just a bucket of wrenches. Not that I’m against Forrest’s Mama and her box of chocolates, but the bucket can at least have more uses….like for puking when you overeat the whole box of said chocolates.

Wrench #1 = My hubby has torn his Achilles tendon playing basketball. His surgery is tomorrow. He’ll be on crutches for 8 weeks, then a boot for 8 more weeks, then PT for 6 months. Timing is not so good….Sami’s surgery is in 2 weeks (Wrench #2). Wrench #3 = Neither of us can afford to take time off work (we just now paid off a doctor’s office visit back in Oct to Omaha), neither of us can afford to make it look like our employers don’t really need us by being gone too much, neither of us is sane/patient enough to be a stay-at-home parent (or recovery patient in his case).

So, what’s a college educated gal to do? I’m smart, right? I should be able to handle all of this. And the eureka moment arrives…..I think I finally found out how to use my college degree….it’s time organization. The actual classes were, well, dumb. The Theory of Education did nothing to help me teach 7th graders, but did teach me how to manage my time and what is worthy of skipping (classes) and what is worthy of attention (test dates). You learn quickly in college who takes the best notes (that was actually me) and who is just so good at bullshit they can pull 5 more pages out of your paper to make the professor’s requirements (20 pages on Yugoslavia, really?!?! I said everything I could in 10. Thank you Pat and Karen).

Here’s the plan =
1. Stocking up the freezer. We are not eating restaurant food for weeks on end. I’ve been asking friends and family if they could make a few things for my freezer, as well as making double recipes myself. Target is having a sale on Breyers Natural Ice Cream and I bought a bunch last night (plus you get a $5 coupon if you buy 5). If you’d like to donate to my freezer, I’d gladly accept.
2. Hire a housekeeper. No, I’m not Superwoman; I can only do so much in a 24 hour period. Having someone come 3 times while Sami is recovering will be such a blessing I almost want to cry just thinking of everything being sparkly and smelling fresh without me losing sleep to accomplish it. Yes, this will cost money, but what doesn’t, and my sanity is worth it. My children will thank me later.
3. Finding friends that can visit Sami at home and friends Carter can go to visit someplace else. He already feels that Sami gets a lot of attention so play-dates will be essential for him. It’s extra hard for him with his Aspergers (wrench #4) to understand that his moods are what make others not want to hang around him….not so much that his sister is that great.
4. Do a board game/card game/movies exchange with some friends. After a week, we’ll have gone through all of our games and movies.
5. And pamper myself!! I will continue to play volleyball on Wed nights, finding a “sitter” for hubby and the kids. I’m going to run and do yoga as much as possible. I will take long baths at night. I will get hot chocolates from Quik Trip. I will get my eyebrows waxed. I will hide in the library. Because, let’s be honest, if I go down my family is in a world of hurt. So pampering me is very important!

I’m sure I’ve left something out. It’s probably at the bottom of my bucket just waiting for me to lift one of my wrenches so it can be released to pop up, but oh well. That’s life. It will be another good reason for me to stop, count my blessings, and say “thank you for the lessons… get away from those chocolates or you die.”


Friday, April 23, 2010

Neck and Back Pain

How many of you are in the same boat I am right now……disgusted with yourself for not taking care of yourself to the point that now you’re in deep trouble?

Basically, I’ve let stress and overused muscles go ignored (pushed aside really) and now I can’t turn my head, sleep, or lift anything without my neck/upper back/shoulder/and arm screaming in pain. But, what are the honest alternatives?
1. Rest (hahaha),
2. Non-use (right, having a non-ambulatory child really doesn’t mix with that one),
3. Massages (at $100 a pop, who has that extra money for splurges),
4. Alternative medicine (which I would love to try, but insurance won’t pay for), or
5. Loads of pain meds that will basically deteriorate your internal organs over time.

I have found, though, a doctor who says posture is really the number one problem and I have to admit mine is horrible….has been since I was a kid. I wanted to fit in so bad that I hunched over to 1. Not be taller than the other cute, petite girls, and 2. To hide the fact I had no boobs. Now that I’m an adult and I fixed those self image problems, the bad habit of slouching is hard to break, especially when I’m dead tired from taking care of the kids. I carry my stress in my upper back and I’m sure there’s a huge blockage of chi going on there as well. I wish I could say that yoga was helping, but it hurts too much to do it.

So this week, besides applying heat pads, I’m consciously reminding myself to line up my head, shoulders, and hips. Guess what, it actually helps!! At least at work where I’m sitting….being home with Samantha is a different story. Healing my muscles will be a long and slow process, I understand that, but I’m hoping to be feeling better by Sami’s surgery in May – and I hope to not slide back down the healing ladder with the stress and overuse that surgery and recovery bring.

This is a prime example of the fact that I didn’t take care of myself first, so now I’m suffering big time. I’m just disgusted with myself for breaking my own rule. But, as usual, I’ve learned the hard way and have had to let many things go so my stress level can come down.

Here is the Neck/Back Pain article I read in case you are wondering….

To your great health,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

C'est La Vie

C’est La Vie. That’s life. Besides being one of the only phrases after four years of high school French I can remember, and a popular song by Robbie Nevil, it’s an extremely hard concept for Americans to grasp.

Let’s just be honest here. As a nation, we are very uptight people. We like answers, all the answers, in a neat little box with a bow on top. We are sex obsessed, yet aren’t having any, and despise those who do. We are very prudish about natural things and discourage any passion in our lives. Fear and Guilt are our biggest emotions and Cleanliness is almost Godliness. Our lives are full of extremes – all or nothing, black or white, heaven or hell, “he loves me, he loves me not”, success or failure, St. Theresa or Lady Gaga, prom queen or porn queen. We have no middle ground, no gray areas, no mystery, no pleasure in just being. Living as the days come just isn’t allowed here because it means you’re not in control.

So we are back to c’est la vie and living with what comes. Facing real life, not the extremes of reality show life. I’ll admit this is a hard concept for me too. It’s very ingrained into children to be perfect and the disappointments of not living up to expectations are overwhelming. And what are we afraid of? Not being liked. We aren’t raised to not give a shit, to have confidence in ourselves through our own accomplishments, to be self-possessed. We are raised to double check with everyone before making a decision on what we should wear.

I recently spoke to a lady who will become a grandma in May. The baby has OI, just like Sami. The mother, who I haven’t spoke with, seems to be going through a very hard time of adjustment. This I can relate to completely. There is a lot of grieving that happens for many of us for the loss of ideals, dreams, and the “perfect” life your friends are living. Being the mother of a fragile child is daunting – I won’t lie to you. Being on alert 24/7 is taxing on your mind, body, and soul. So there is a lot of readjusting of how you think about yourself as a woman and mother now that life has thrown in the wrench. This grandmother is in complete denial of what her child (the mother) is emotionally going through, constantly saying how blessed Mom is, how Mom won’t need any more help than what family will give her, and how Mom’s strong faith will cure everything. Ummm, that’s not real life, that’s reality show life….hell, that’s actually a Donna Reed and June Cleaver life.

Who can truthfully say they are blessed each time their innocent child breaks a leg? Geez! Yes, Samantha and Carter are both huge blessings to my life, but their disabilities are a pain in the butt. I’m not afraid to say that, it’s true. Does that change how much I love them? NO. Does it change my “glass is half full” mentality? NO. My money and my time schedule? Quite a resounding YES! C’est la vie, so be it. I live with the reality of everyday life. I’m a damn good mother who makes tons of triumphs and mistakes every day. I like my shade of gray life; some days more blue, some more silver, some days no fractures or questions about death (or Pokeman), some days full of tears from other kids’ teasing, some days the house is clean, some days I cry in my closet from exhaustion and binge eat Girl Scout cookies, some days I get to park in the closest parking spot. I admit having the answers would be simplier and nicer, but not as much fun.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Challenge Results

Okay, I’m laying it on the table. The “Eat 5 Fruits/Veggies a Day” challenge kicked my booty!

WOW!!! I never realized how much protein and grains I eat a day. I had to consciously think about eating my fruits and veggies to get all 5 in and only made it on one day. Usually I got to 4. I wasn’t counting juice to make sure I was getting all the rawness I could handle.

So, I’m doing it again this week and being a better planner about it. Granted, last week was semi-hell with Sami’s broken ankle, birthday cakes, and Easter (how do you eat carrots when there is so much chocolate?) I found that if I have the stuff already cut up, I’ll nibble on it throughout the day as I go about my business. If I don’t, I’ll find something else to eat while I’m moving from one thing to another. Unfortunately, I don’t live in France and can’t take the time to sit while I eat for longer than 10 minutes. Yes, I know this is a huge issue, but I’m tackling one thing at a time here. (Think that wolfing food comes from our school days of only having 17 minutes to eat and socialize….now it’s a habit.)

How did you do?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Food Challenge

Spring time makes everyone want to chuck things and decluttering is a great habit to be in….but here’s a little something you can add into your life. Try this week to eat (not drink) five straight-from-the-garden fruits/veggies each day and journal about it. Believe it or not, this is a tough one for many of us grain lovers. You don’t have to give up your sandwiches, pasta, cereal or crackers – just make sure you eat your five real, natural fruits or veggies as well. Plus, it’s only for one week, so I think you can mentally get yourself to reach this goal.

If you are already whimpering, and trying to find ways to get around this challenge, let me tell you that ketchup and spaghetti sauce don’t count unless you make them from scratch. Same goes for fruit smoothies. What we are doing here is going for RAW food = the least amount of touching to Mother Nature’s perfectly packaged gifts of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. The great thing is that you probably won’t have enough room in your belly for the grains or processed stuff after you get the good stuff in first.

Part 2: I also want you to journal this week as well. Write down what fruits and veggies you consumed and how your body feels. You don’t need to journal all the bad stuff. We are taking our life changes one step at a time so I don’t care about all the other junk right now. We are working on a pace to snowball into the life we want. Just write down the good things: number of fruits/veggies, if you worked out or parked farther away to walk, if you took a long bath or pampered yourself in anyway, things you are grateful for, if you threw out a bit of clutter….anything and everything you feel is a positive addition to your life.

Next week’s blog I will share my journal, and some of your entries, in order to inspire us to go further. This will be a solid piece of evidence that you can look back on when you need a pick me up. It says for seven days you proved you are a great person and contributed to the betterment of the world around you. Who knows, it might become one of your wonderful habits in the future.

In peace this week,

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Health Care Reform

It’s all the buzz this week. Healthcare Reform is everywhere in the news, all over Facebook, and getting people rankled. There isn’t a news media outlet you can trust with all the facts because they aren’t given all the facts to start with or they want to skew the facts so they look good. The Democrats and Republicans in Washington are fighting like kids on a school playground: just trying to win and not really caring about the central issue. Yes, I know they all say “we care about the people of the United States” but let’s just be honest for a few minutes and say they long ago forgot what their real jobs are, and are now only feeding their own egos. If they weren’t, there wouldn’t be any pork added into anything….every item up for vote would have its own line, no bundled votes. Time consuming, yes, but then again, isn’t that their jobs? What else do we pay them to do?

The second biggest issue I see is the ability of the insurance companies to do whatever they want as a group monopoly. It’s just like the gas companies. Technically they are all separate companies, but in reality they work together to set prices and policies. As a group, they don’t have a single company who stands out by not denying claims and paying for benefits without hassles. On the other hand, I understand the insurance companies’ primary job is to make money. They really aren’t a service organization.

And so the main crux is upon us as a country. Do we want to be sure everyone has basic needs like a socialist society or do we want to preserve capitalism in its most pure form of Survival of the Fittest? Or wait - can’t there be a middle ground with healthcare? We already have it in the postal service and in education. You can use the US Post Office or you can go to UPS, FedEx, or Goin Postal. Public and private working in the same market. You can send your child to the public school or pay for a private one. The choices come in what you consider your priorities. Of course the basic system isn’t as well funded or fancy – that’s the definition of basic. I agree we need improvements in our basic systems, but at least they are there and that’s really a different topic altogether.

So the rest of today’s blog is a fact day from No opinions (except mine). I figure this will help in our effort to come up with some real discussions and solutions without the extra ego crap getting in the way of progress. This is our country and we need to take care of it. Let’s begin our education with the recent Health Care Reform Bill just passed in the Senate. Please remember that not everything in this bill starts the minute the President puts his signature on the paper. Some of these are years in the future.

1) The Congressional Budget Office (CBO as their friends call them) thinks that for those in the group market — those who get insurance through their employers — premiums would largely stay the same (which has been a steady increase each year for many years). The average premiums for those who buy insurance on their own would go up, however, by 10 percent to 13 percent. The reason is that benefits could become a lot better for this section of the market under this bill. Also, most people buying their own coverage could receive subsidies that make their net costs for these plans substantially lower than they otherwise would be. Those people, though, could not be on Medicare, Medicaid, or on their employer’s insurance plan.
2) Despite the fact that the federal health insurance plan (a.k.a. the “public option”) is now gone from the bill, Republicans and conservative groups have continued to claim that the bill institutes a system like the one in the United Kingdom, Sweden, or Canada, or otherwise amounts to a government takeover. It doesn’t. A pure government-run system was never among the leading Democratic proposals. Instead, the bill builds on our current system of private insurance, and in fact, drums up more business for private companies (as if they need more money) by mandating that individuals buy coverage and giving many (but not all) subsidies to do so. There would be increased government regulation of the insurance industry, however, not enough to really help the overall situation the industry has sunk our country into in the first place. These “government-run” claims have also included heavy criticism of health care in Canada and the U.K. = such as the assertion by former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop that seniors would be “too old” to qualify for artificial joints and pacemakers in the U.K. If that is true, why are the majority of those getting joint replacements and pacemakers in the U.K. seniors? Someone is qualifying.
3) “If you like your plan, you can keep it.” Obama has repeatedly made this claim, and it’s true for the most part. But not for everyone. Employers could still drop coverage under this bill — just as they can do now. Basically, this is just talk because it changes nothing. Though all employers with over 50 employees must provide some kind of health insurance for their employees, it really could be cheaper for them to just pay the fine ($2000/employee) annually…and that only counts if an employee has to use the federal subsidies to get their own insurance. I can see a ton of ways to get around that fine. Another time…
4) Medicare cuts or Medicare savings…whatever you want to call them, it’s a $500 billion reduction in the growth of future spending over 10 years, not a slashing of the current Medicare budget or benefit. It’s true that those who get their coverage through Medicare Advantage’s private plans (about 22 percent of Medicare enrollees) would see fewer add-on benefits; the bill aims to reduce the heftier payments made by the government to Medicare Advantage plans, compared with regular fee-for-service Medicare. The bill also boosts certain benefits: It makes preventive care free and closes the "doughnut hole," a current gap in prescription drug coverage for seniors.
5) As for Medicaid….eligibility level is expanded to $29,327 as a household income. The Federal Poverty Limit for a family of four is $22,050. (Freaking SAD!!!) It’s also stated that some adults with no children will be able to qualify, but not illegal immigrants.
6) “The health care plan would be the largest middle-class tax cut for health care.” Note the “for health care" part of this claim that has been made. This may be technically true, given the qualifier. But who would even maintain a list of the biggest “middle-class” tax cuts, since there is no agreed upon definition of who is “middle class.” (The vast majority of Americans say they’re "middle-class," making this a popular buzzword for politicians.) This grandiose-sounding assertion, however, is only being made about tax cuts for health care. The bill includes about $460 billion over 10 years in subsidy money. Incidentally, President Bush’s 2001 tax cut totaled about $1.3 trillion over 10 years, with about 42 percent of the benefits going to the middle 60 percent of all income earners, according to a breakdown by the Tax Policy Center. That amounts to $566 billion over 10 years, a bigger cut for the middle earners than the health care tax cut.
7) Economic studies simply do not support the claim that medical malpractice suits are a major driver in health care spending. Many Republicans strongly back limiting liability awards in medical malpractice cases, and it’s true that doing so would save some money = about 0.5 percent (roughly $11 billion in 2009)." That’s real money, but it’s a very tiny part of the more than $2 trillion spent on health care annually in the U.S. There’s disagreement over what exactly the biggest drivers of spending are, but medical malpractice doesn’t top the list. About 75 percent of spending, for instance, goes to taking care of chronic disease.
8) Here’s a bit of hub-bub about the “Union/Cadillac plans”. The bill places a tax on high-cost employer-sponsored plans – specifically there’s a 40 percent tax on the value of plans above $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families, starting in 2018. The tax falls on insurers, but we all know it would be passed along to policyholders one way or another. The thinking behind it isn’t to raise money by slamming workers with a 40 percent tax…the existence of the tax will supposedly prompt employers and employees to choose less expensive health plans (as if there are some to choose from – see second paragraph). In lieu of the higher cost benefits, employers would raise salaries. And that’s how the government really makes its revenue here: on payroll and income taxes on those higher paychecks. My question is…who said the employers will raise salaries for the commoners? And if given a choice, would you rather have greater benefits or a higher salary? Those healthy youngsters without kids want money, where most moms and dads are begging for benefits. Again, it’s all about your priorities.
9) The insurance companies are getting a bit of a slap on the wrist in that they can no longer deny coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, and starting in 2014 can’t deny coverage for anyone at all for a pre-existing condition. WOO HOO!!! That’s not saying they can’t charge you into premiums and co-pay bankruptcy, only that they can’t deny you coverage.
This is nowhere near the whole of it. As usual, the bill is full of crap that really has no purpose or bearing on healthcare but is bribes for votes. Disgusting, I know. It’s not a Democrat or Republican lonely practice, they both do it every day. As you might tell, I wouldn’t do well as a politician. “Kids need healthcare? Well, give it to them damn it! I don’t care if your bonus will only be $1 million instead of $2 million.” I have an attitude problem. I’m okay with that. I like me.
What are your thoughts?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Welcome Spring

Can you feel that Spring is just around the corner? Besides the fact that we just celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, Cesar’s death on the Ides of March, and Easter is around the corner. Walking out of Core Training last week was a new experience because the sun was rising….even with Daylight Savings Time jolting me ahead an hour. Since I started my workout classes January 4th, I’d arrive and leave in the dark, breathing the frigid air. But this week has been different. I walk in through the dark but walk out into the light. I’ve moved down from my “Nanook of the North” 20* below 0 winter coat to a lined/padded 22* above 0 sweatshirt from Old Navy. Things just feel lighter; physically, mentally, and spiritually. (Okay, Saturday’s forecast is for an ugly winter storm. This is the Midwest and our weather has ADHA. I’m enjoying the light sun until then.)

I want to clean and organize. Gather the house and life clutter and recycle. I want to start fresh and move forward without all the past junk holding me down.

I really think it’s time to pull out one of my favorite books, “Throw Out Fifty Things” by Gail Blanke. ( Gail is great at helping you finally part with the psychological side of your physical clutter. And don’t kid yourself, you’ve got plenty, everyone does. Your past is what makes you who you are today, but it doesn’t have a say in who you are tomorrow.

So, what are you doing to welcome Spring? It’s coming and it’s a great time to start fresh on something new.


Friday, February 19, 2010

port-cath update

When Sami's nurse, Ellen, came over do to her port flush, Sami started screaming! Her skin on top of her clavical swelled and bruised immediately. We took her to the ER after talking with a surgeon. Found out that her port tube was torn. It's not unusual for ports to only last 2 years in kids because they are so active.

Well, last Friday the 12th, we had surgery to replace it. Quite the ordeal! This is her 3rd port. We didn't know if we should go to Omaha for the surgery or just trust the drs in Kansas City who don't work on OI kids much. We opted to stay in KC and crossed our fingers. It was same day surgery so we were home by 2pm.

Luckily, Ellen came out and gave Sami her Pam. at 4pm while she was still groggy.

The difference in this surgery was that Sami was well aware of what was going on. At age 6 we can't trick her anymore. She understands pain and fears it. Her anxiety of having surgery was hard to deal with as a mom...sometimes you have to hurt them to protect them.

Of course, Sami is a trooper, demanded ice cream and princess movies with her grandpa, and shopping for shoes with her grandma (silver sparkles with hot pink butterflies from Target). That girl can work it! And more power to her!

Now, if I can just get my sinuses to clear up....

Learning New Skills

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well, phuey to that! I just learned how to sew. It’s a rare day that I can sit for a few hours to devote my attention and learn something new, but Sunday was the day and I made curtains! In no way were the seams straight, but they are hanging in my bathroom all the same and I’m bursting with pride.

Sewing is a skill I’ve wanted to learn since high school but never found the time. My life has been the college- marriage- and- kids whirlwind like many others I know. But with Sami needing alterations on almost all her clothing, especially in winter, it’s essential I learn this skill. She won’t want to wear children’s clothes forever (and even those are too long on her dwarf arms and legs).

So, what else can I learn? I feel on top of the world right now and am looking to perfect my sewing abilities, as well as find other things to learn….skills that are forgotten in our fast paced, disposable society. I just couldn’t believe how centered I felt while running the material through the machine! I am reading books about the Victorian age right now and the skills they had in embroidery, sewing, languages, music, etc… amaze me. I understand they weren’t going to work all day in an office or raising their own children, which just shows how skillful we are today in different areas.

Maybe you need to take the time to re-hone your skills, or break out of your mold and learn some new ones. What could a little freshness in your life hurt? Brag to me what you’ve learned lately!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Absolutely Beautiful

Have you ever turned your head and saw the most beautiful, breathtaking scene? One you could stare at for hours? No, no, not George Clooney.

It just happened to me on Monday (yes, a Monday). It was 5:40am and I was walking into the Community Center for the Power Yoga class, tired with my head down, thinking that if I was hit by a car, maybe just tapped a bit, I could sleep in the hospital bed. (Yes, I admit I have those thoughts.) But just then I looked up and stopped dead in my tracks.

The sky was pitch black, the air was thick and hushed. The snow was so fresh I could feel the blanket of it on the earth around me. I was in this cotton envelope that was clean and pure. Every tree was outlined in white, blinged out in nature’s sparkles. This was Mother Nature’s beauty and I was blessed to be in the middle of it.

I just stood there, transfixed in wonder, awed that little me was given this gift to experience. Eventually I did go into my class and during each resting stretch I said “thank you” over and over again. It was the best yoga session I’ve ever had! My body felt strong and flexible during and afterwards.

Today I’m thinking about how many more absolutely beautiful moments I can have in my life if I will just open myself up to seeing them. I could have kept my head down or saw the snow as a pain in the butt to shovel or drive in, but the majesty of it is all that possessed me. And I’ve have a truly wonderful week. Giddy even!

So I thought I’d share my good luck with you. Maybe you can pass along one of these moments from your life with your friends. Bragging is a great thing if you use it to inspire yourself and others. Shout it if you need to. I AM BLESSED! I HAD A SUPER MONDAY! TARGET HAS YOGA PANTS IN TALLS! Whatever your joy is, it’s a gift to be thankful for.

Send your great moments and good thoughts to me this week. Sami is having surgery on Friday to have her port-cath replaced. She’s very nervous about it, so I need to be extra calm and centered to help her anxiety. Thank you so much for your support!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Plop and Drag No More

How many of you are dragging through your day? It’s been a hell of a week for me and I’m exhausted, yet there is no time or place to just hole up and rest. Love my husband and kids, but I retreat to the library for my relax/think time each week. Books don’t talk back or ask questions, everyone is quiet by default, and my decisions aren’t required or even wanted….so it’s a feeling of being invisible.

But reality always returns or some weeks I’m running too many errands to linger in the library. When stressed, your body shuts down stuff it doesn’t think necessary to run. It also stores fat to be sure you have plenty of fuel. This is why you are eating less but still gaining weight and your middle (tummy, hips, thighs, and butt) is expanding. How rotten is that?

When I’m tired I crave fast food….McDonalds Fish sandwich with extra tartar sauce or Wendy’s Baja wrap. Fast food is my crutch because I don’t have to fix it and my tongue wants the carbs. Apples just don’t satisfy. As I eat I get this calming feeling wash over me (darn those additive chemicals). But soon my stomach revolts, and my brain crashes, making me more tired than before….and I’ve added 20 more cellulite dimples….all for the fact that what I really need is some peace and rest to rejuvenate.

We all know getting more sleep is not a viable option or we’d be doing it already. Here’s some simple tips of what you can do to help with the daily energy drain :
1. Get a complete set of lab tests done. You could be low on iron or estrogen, or high on other stuff (don’t we wish sometimes). If your natural body chemicals are off you can’t be balanced anywhere else in your life. Sorry, no getting around this one or faking it until you make it.
2. Boost your vitamins and omega’s. You need more than the average joe because you are outputting more all day. You want to go as RAW as you can to get the most benefit. If your body isn’t absorbing the needed vitamins, then it’s a waste of time and money. There’s been plenty of studies of sewer systems that are loaded with multivitamins that have just passed right through our bodies.
3. Stop dieting! If you are eating diet foods you are adding more nasty additives and disgusting preservatives to your body….many are as bad as junk food. Natural foods with fat and flavor (real, pure butter for instance or Breyers Ice Cream) fill you up so you can eat less and feel fuller longer. This helps with giving you a constant energy source. Diets give me migraines!
4. Chocolate is my secret weapon. You want the darkest chocolate to get the flavonoids (disease fighters) to pull you through. Like a glass of wine, a small bit works wonders. Here, more is not better. One or two squares a day can do the trick of boosting you a little in the afternoon.
5. If salt is what you need, combine it with some protein, like peanut butter/cheese/tuna on crackers, or popcorn and nuts, or pita chips with hummus. Drink loads of water to balance out the retention the salt will naturally do.
6. Stretch your whole body. Really reach your arms, legs, neck, point and flex your hands and feet, to all sides. You don’t have to do a whole yoga routine at the office, but keep the circulation going so the blood can reach your brain and work to your advantage. I wish I could bring my inverse table to work!!!
7. Try spraying Zum Mist or Arbonne’s Rejuvenating Mist. Just breathing in their spicy and citrus scents wakes you right up.
8. Because I don’t wear foundation, I can splash a little cold water on my face for a quick shock.

Here’s to you and your energy this week! I know I’ve been struggling to find little boosts throughout the days. I’m very much looking forward to sleeping tonight (fingers crossed!!) If you have any healthy energy secrets, be sure to pass them along.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Your Wish List

Have you ever been disappointed because someone didn’t, in your opinion, listen and think about you enough to come up with a nicer gift? Whether it’s flowers or diamonds, yard work or massages, you don’t think you are so hard to give to if others would just put in the effort to think.

Which, I have to say is true, but not going to happen. The ultimate result you want is the gift, so why not help others out by making a list or chart. I’m thinking more on the lines of 5 things your spouse/friend/whatever-you-call-them can do for you each month. They get to choose one of the activities/gifts each week. It’s a win-win = you don’t know exactly what is coming but you know you’ll love it and they are sure to please you, which is what they are striving for in the first place.

Here are some examples:
FEB: 1. Volunteer for a charity
2. Go to a matinee
3. Breakfast in bed plus clean up
4. Draw a bath
5. Give CD or iTunes of favorite music

MAR: 1. Clean light fixtures and ceiling fans
2. Send a funny card
3. Tour “memory lane”
4. Bring you your favorite drink
5. Professional shampoo and style

APR: 1. Bring a friend to town
2. Do one of your chores
3. Play a board game
4. Buy/borrow a book
5. Massage

Feel free to repeat your favorite things on your list in different months. If you want flowers once a month, but sure to put it on there each time. Make sure the activities and gifts are within your budget and things that will really make a difference in your day and spirit. You don’t have to be typical. A friend of mine gets all hot when her hubby cleans the garage – no kidding! So make each choice count. You can give them more choices if you want each month if you are really creative but know that only one will be done each week (or whatever you as a couple decide the frequency will be).

You should make a separate list for birthday, Mother’s Day, whatever holiday you celebrate in December, that can also be shared with anyone else who might buy you something (Mom, In-Law, Sibling). Who knows, they may pick up something off season for a good discount, so put those Jimmy Choo shoes and trip to Paris on there without blinking an eye.

It’s not your job to worry about how they will accomplish the wish list tasks. You are only to be grateful each and every time you receive, and then pass along the overflowing love.

I know you are thinking, “But, I’m still doing all the brain work and they get off easy.” Okay, so what? You’re getting very little now so I can’t see how them following your directions is going to make you worse off. The only factor is the actual action. That you can’t do and if they can’t seem to get themselves together enough to show you appreciation in the exact manner you want to receive it, then there are other issues you need to address in your relationship. Either way, you’re going to know more about yourself and your partner.

Enjoy making your list. Be excited when you give it to your partner because you really are giving them a very personal gift….insight into your happiness.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Giving Praise

Last night I was running errands and stopped in at Sephora in JCPenney to pick up a free eye cream sample from the coupon I received in the mail. This was at 8:40pm and they were closing at 9. I had planned on just sweeping in to get my sample and bolting out to do more errands at Target. (Obviously, I had no children with me. Wed night is my night out to dink around.)

Well, I didn’t leave until 9:20. Julie, the wonderful girl at Sephora, was so pleasant and helpful that she and I chatted about skin care and perfume for 40 minutes! She answered all my questions about the Korres line (it’s all natural) and recommended other products for my beauty issues (like the lip gloss from Juicy if you have flakey lips – gives you a slight mint plump too) and which fragrances really stay on and which smell like your great grandma. All the while, Julie made up tons of samples for me to take home and try.

This was an example of super-over-the-top customer service! So today I called her manager, Kathy, at the store as well as left a compliment on the corporate website. I wanted those in charge to know how great of an employee they have.

We can all find the time to register a complaint, but how often do you take the extra minute to return the go-beyond treatment someone gave you? Whether the sales/customer service rep works on commission or not (Sephora does not) doesn’t matter. All people want to be recognized for their good work and money isn’t recognition.

When I worked at the Brass Buckle (now just The Buckle) in high school, I had the lowest sales on my team. I rarely ever made enough in sales to bonus above the legal minimum wage of $3/hr. But, I also had the lowest returns in the company. My customers were always very satisfied because I was nice and honest. I was proud when the company reports would come in…though I was told to try to sell more.

Your challenge for this week is to pay it forward with compliments. Look people in the eye, stop, and sincerely speak to them. Call or send notes to managers and corporate offices. Pass along this challenge to all your friends. Let’s lift the spirits of those who service us! Be the pebble that starts the wave!!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Core Training Bragging

On Monday of this week I started a Core Training class at the Community Center. On Mondays we do Power Yoga, Wednesdays are stomach and back strength training, and Fridays are whole body strength training. The crazy part is that the class is at 5:45am and it’s only 2 above zero right now here. I am NOT a morning person so this class is a huge commitment for me. And I’m excited as heck for it! I look forward to bundling myself up and driving to class with my red eyes.

I love taking classes with an instructor. Someone who can tweak my form and push me harder than I would on my own. Would I get up and go to the gym at dawn by myself? NO. But knowing I can rely on someone else to motivate and push me is a wonderful feeling. I love working out with other people. I didn’t love seeing how out of shape I was. My husband was very nice and said that was the point of the class, to show a marked improvement.

It’s been a week since many of you looked at 2010 and made new plans. How are you doing? Do you have someone to push and motivate you? Are you bragging to anyone?

(Screeching wheels) What? Bragging? You read that right. Are you bragging to your peeps about how great each step you are taking is going? If not, why? You can’t expect people to think you’re great if you don’t tell them what you are doing that is great. Let them take on the task of supporting you, giving you kudos, being excited about your new talent, telling you the wagon is better than the hard ground, distracting you from that cigarette…. Let them help you reach your goals.

Here are my brags for today:
1. I’ve arrived early to both my classes this week and enjoyed getting my butt kicked because I can feel the pain in my muscles and know I’m stronger already.
2. I painted stripes in my bathroom which needed many touch ups (I’m not a painting pro) but look fabulous now.
3. I spent last night reading all evening. No cleaning or chores, not even dinner….just me in bed with the new Dan Brown book not worrying about the blizzard outside. A rare treat I wasn’t going to pass up!

What are your goals? What are you going to brag about today? Toot your own horn (not your kid’s)!!! You deserve it. It will take some practice because women are not used to bragging about ourselves. It’s training we never received growing up, to our detriment. But this is a new year, a fresh start, and you can do it if you really want to. I really want to strengthen my muscles so it’s not an issue getting up this time. It’s been an issue the first 37 years of my life but this time is different in my soul. Be honest with yourself. You are made of greatness in your own way and we all need to know how wonderful you are. BRAG TODAY!