Parenting is challenging from the onset, but spurred by the awe-inspiring perfection of a new baby, most new parents embrace that challenge with excitement. From the very first moments, we want to give the best of everything. We want to protect them from harm. We want them to have a good life.
If there is an exemplary illustration of ignorance as bliss, it is our first day of parenting. Except in cases of births marked by complications, most new parents are filled with unprecedented optimism. Full of high hopes, but knowing little of the realities of parenting, new parents imagine their child’s bright future, but there is always a chance the future won’t turn out as hoped.
There is the chance of realizing the child has challenges are too big to be conquered by good intentions, or the possibility parenting will make us more vulnerable, than the child we’d vowed to protect. We can no more guarantee the future of our children, than determine our own.
Recently, in my community, two tragic and unexpected, deaths reminded parents of our that vulnerability. The deaths of these two young men, forced every mother and father to think about things they’d rather not. For the parents of Tommy, a promising high school senior who died unexpectedly after an afternoon at the pool, or the parents of Taylor, the 16-year old who collapsed and died at school on his birthday, there was a grim realization, that as parents, we are sometimes powerless. Read the rest of this entry »
I was with an animal activist friend recently. She devotes her time and resources to rescuing and caring for abandoned animals. On a recent beach walk, she found a dog buried in sand and debris. Somebody had cut and forced a milk jug on to the dog’s head. When she found him, the jug was partially full of sand and salt water, because the dog, now starving, was too weak to move away from the edge of the water. This detestable cruelty to an innocent creature, left her feeling violated and emotionally weak. When she recounted the event to me, she was still having difficulty with the troubling images in her head.
Anybody would have been disturbed by this detestable act, but to her it was especially painful. Someone had attacked what she works so hard to protect. She was left desperately struggling to answer questions.
Why would somebody do this?
How could anybody do something so hateful?
Why would anyone want to harm the harmless?
Just days after the Sandy Hook shooting, many of us are asking the same questions. Somebody attacked the very beings we most care for and want to protect. In a desperate attempt to answer those questions, there is a flurry of speculation about causes, motives and solutions. There is clamor about guns and gun control. There are calls for better intervention for the mentally ill. Many blame society, problems like bullying, the decline in morality, or the rejection of God. Read the rest of this entry »
A cool thing I learned from my brother is how to snare a lizard and make him walk on a leash. It’s simple. Make a small leash with a slip-knot–a long piece of grass works well. Put it in front of the lizard. He walks right into it, because moving backward is unnatural to him. Voilá! A lizard controlled on a leash, for the amusement of all.
The biggest misconception about The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that it was crafted by people who cared about healthcare. Like a prom dress on a drag queen, the ACA hides what is really underneath…MONEY. The ACA was a cunning way for government to take a bigger piece of America’s income, by promising to fix our healthcare system. Never mind, that many reasons costs are so high, are the direct result of government meddling. Despite the dubious ethics of FDA drug approvals, regulations governing what insurance we can purchase, mandates forcing employers to promote HMO’s, OR the creative accounting required by doctors and hospitals to cover the cost of treating those who are already on the pathetically underfunded government healthcare known as Medicaid, we trust them to make halthcare more affordable.
Conservative wonky-chick Ann Coulter said it this way, ” As usual, the solution to a problem created by government intervention, is more government intervention. This is like trying to sober up by having another drink.”
We are to believe the same government that has rarely been able to do anything in an expedient and cost-efficient way, can now make healthcare more efficient and affordable. We are to believe a plan which provides for 16,000 more IRS agents, but not a single doctor, will be more patient-friendly. We are supposed to believe even though two of the people closest to the President, Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett, were previously implicated in “patient dumping” schemes, their motives are pure. Read the rest of this entry »
Whether you are bungee jumping, or buying a home, before you are allowed to take the plunge, you are required to sign papers acknowledging you understand the terms. Agreeing to a deal with another party, without having any idea of the risks or conditions, would be like purchasing expensive concert tickets, without knowing if the music featured would be panpipes or gangsta rap.
Even if we don’t like laws passed by our government, as Americans we have the right to know the implications of those laws. Generally, they are not beyond our comprehension, because the conditions and enforcement are usually written into the language, when they are passed by our legislative bodies. This is not the case with the newly adopted legislation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which will change everything about American healthcare.
Nancy Pelosi immortalized herself, when she said, we had to pass the bill to find out what was in it. This was perhaps the most misleading political understatement in American history. Even now that it’s passed, it is STILL impossible to know what is in it, because it was purposely written with vague to-be-determined-later provisions. What Ms. Pelosi should have said, is that we will have to LIVE this bill to understand what was in it.
The length of the bill was astounding when it was passed, but nothing compared to what it will be in the future. Like an evil creature in a Sci-Fi flick, it isn’t finished growing. It will continue to grow and morph into something most have yet to imagine.
Why? Because it was passed with rules to be decided later.
The bill that was promoted as the answer to our healthcare woes, gives authority over your body to The Secretary, because The Secretary will determine how it will be enacted and enforced. In fact, the language of the bill mentions the power of “The Secretary” over 3,000 times. The Secretary would be The Secretary of Health and Human Services–a presidential appointee who need not have medical experience.
Certainly, someone has to decide what kinds of treatments will be provided, but say goodbye to the days when your medical decisions were made by you and your doctor. It will now be up to The Secretary to determine what drugs will be paid for, which treatments are cost-effective, and whose treatments will be denied.
We were told we would no longer be denied care. We we will no longer have to worry about not being able to afford treatment, having coverage denied because of pre-existing conditions, or the lifetime caps that insurers impose. We were told if we liked our insurance, or our doctor we could keep them.
All of those things ARE true. Insurers will no longer be able to turn down those with pre-existing conditions, impose lifetime caps on benefits, and we will no longer have to worry about the cost of treatments. Like many of the statements made to convince us of the virtues of this plan, these statements are technically true, but deliberately misleading.
Perhaps,you’ve seen the compelling stories of those sharing how ACA saved a life. I saw one the other night. A woman shared the story of how her son, Travis Turner had medical expenses exceeding $1million dollars in his first year of life, causing them to exceed their insurer‘s lifetime cap. He is now 8 years old, and thanks to “Obamacare”, he is insured again. The story was poignant to be sure, but the hopeful picture it paints is misleading.
Like Ms. Turner, many optimistically attribute improvements in their healthcare to the ACA, but others are aware of how their healthcare is already being adversely affected as changes are implemented. On either side of the issue, many are confused about how much of this bill has been implemented. All the provisions of the bill will not be enacted until 2018. By then, The Secretary may not even have finished defining those yet-to-be-determined provisions.
However, there are things we know.
- We were told if we liked our doctor OR our insurance we could keep them, but The Secretary will be able to dictate how your physician can treat you, and what your insurance can cover.
- The Secretary will determine whether or not your insurance meets the regulations as a “qualified” plan. If The Secretary determines it doesn’t, you WILL be forced to choose another plan.
- Your plan will only be allowed to pay doctors approved by The Secretary.
- That provision above shouldn’t matter much. With The Secretary determining how even the privately-insured can be treated, there won’t be much difference between doctors.
- You will no longer enjoy doctor/patient confidentiality, as EVERY detail of your health will now become part of a government database on each citizen. EVERY detail. (ACA provisions override that pesky pre-existing condition known as privacy law.)
- The cost of your plan will change as The Secretary determines what qualified plans will cover, and what they will cost.
Costs will rise, ,as the burden of providing coverage to all, increases costs for individuals and families.
- Though claims that ACA would result in rationing of care were denied by its proponents, the bill is full of Patient Care guidelines (some still under construction) as to who will get care–and what care they can get.
- Additionally many of the provisions in the plan are exempted from judicial review. Translation: If your care sucks, you can’t seek legal recourse.
Those between the ages of 15 and 40 are to be given priority over children and the elderly. This might come as a surprise to aging baby boomers, their children and any parent of a child needing life-saving treatments. Those in their “golden years” will find less care available to them than those who fall between these golden ages–the period of life when most of us are at peak health and fitness.
Perhaps the mother and child featured in this ad will be lucky. Travis will be turning 15 around the time the ACA is fully implemented. If he stays healthy, he can expect at least 25 years more of priority healthcare–unless The Secretary determines treating a child with a history of liver cancer to be less than cost-effective. His mother, on the other hand, appears to be around 30, which means she can only look forward to about ten years in that preferred patient group.
As she moves closer to Medicare age, I hope she realizes, ACA allows for changes to Medicare without further approval from Congress. She looked like she might be a little overweight–God help her is she develops diabetes, because priority for scarce treatments like kidney transplants and dialysis will be given to those in the 15-40 age group. Let’s hope she doesn’t develop breast cancer, because she won’t be eligible for regular mammograms until after she turns 50. If she should develop heart disease, she may find The Secretary has determined her too old to warrant the cost of a pacemaker, or open-heart surgery.
It is true, we will no longer have worry about the costs of treatments, being being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, or not being able to afford our medical expenses. This is a new era, in which our only concern will be getting good medical care.
Deb’s Note: This is the fourth post devoted to explaining the Affordable Care Act–aka ObamaCare. I have chosen to write about this subject because I believe women need to know how it will affect their families and/or loved ones. The subject is extensive, but I hope to wrap it up in a couple(?) more posts.
In the aftermath of an event like the shooting in Aurora, many are glued to their televisions, trying to make sense of what has happened. I avoid the ongoing news coverage, but it is nearly impossible to avoid being over-saturated by the information surrounding such an event. Regularly scheduled news breaks on the radio, the news ticker on my e-mail account, or the chatter of social media, assure that I’ll learn more than I need to know.
Most in the Denver area were still sleeping when I heard the first reports of the massacre, but in those early morning hours, I learned all I needed to know: Innocent people were victims in a tragic shooting. I wasn’t interested in hearing the unfolding coverage, because in the immediate hours after such a happening, what is presented as news, is mostly speculation.
Without ever tuning into a news broadcast, my head got its fill of hearsay and unsubstantiated details–or what we used to call gossip. Some speculated that James Holmes was a right-wing crazy, others were convinced he was a pawn or operative in a left-wing plan to disarm America. Some suggested he had an accomplice, others said he acted alone. Some held him up as evidence of a Godless society, some blamed bullying or the failure of parents to raise their kids properly. Still others attributed the act to American economic powerlessness, because James Holmes failed to find a job after graduate school. Many placed the blame on the movie producers, and/or society’s desensitization to violence. People speculated on whether he was mentally ill, under the influence of drugs or just the product of too much video game violence. Most of those who put forth theories, were no more qualified than I to comment on his mental health or the cause of his actions,
Only one thing was clear.
When things like this happen, we seek to make sense of them–but things like this don‘t make sense. Something went chaotically wrong in a theater in Aurora, Colorado, when what should have been an escape into movie fantasy, became a frightening reality with few chances for escape. Knowing why it happened, will do nothing to make us feel better about this senseless attack. No law could have prevented it. There is nothing that can guarantee we won’t see something like this again, and nothing we learn will make this tragedy make sense.
Despite this, the media disseminates information in an effort to help answer questions as to why it happened. Anyone whose opinion might shed light on the event, is given a microphone. Reporters dig up neighbors, colleagues, classmates or whomever is available to comment on what they knew of the suspect.
What I find troubling (and ironic) is that the people who knew the suspect, usually inadvertently admit they didn’t know the suspect. Typical they say things like, “He kept to himself” “He was a loner.” “He minded his own business“. Then they express their shock at the actions of the person they didn’t really know, a person nobody really knew.
What we don’t hear are close friends talking about the many hours they’d spent with that person. I’ve yet to hear anyone talking about the memories and the laughs they shared, or how much they valued the friendship. We don’t hear those things, because often the person(s) who commit this type of senseless violence live in an isolated world of emotional turmoil.
James Holmes played team sports in high school, surely some of those teammates interacted with him. It seems likely he would have made connections to those with whom he shared an interest in video games, or the people in his academic program, yet sadly he lived his life in strange and solitary way. Maybe something in his make-up made it hard for him to make friends, or maybe something had caused him to be distrustful of others. He may have been a mad man or a sad man, but for some reason he felt no normal connection to the people who would become victims. He was disconnected from those around him, long before that disconnect in his head, caused him to do what he did.
We all face loneliness, frustrations and despair, but if life is hard, it is harder for those who have no one to talk them down from a tree, or off a ledge. If the world is sometimes lonely for those who have close friends and family, how much more so it must be for those who don’t. I don’t mean to be so simplistic as to suggest that if Holmes had some homeboys, this wouldn’t have happened. Dylan Klebold had Eric Harris, and both of them had other friends, yet they both felt like outsiders.
Americans live more isolated lives now, than a few generations ago. The internet, e-mail and smart phones make it easier for us to stay connected, but we often spend more hours connected to our electronic devices, than to the people around us. When I was a kid, we didn’t turn to reality TV to get a glimpse into other people’s lives. If we wanted to know what was going on in other people‘s lives, instead of inviting strangers into our living rooms via television, we’d pile into the car and drop into the living rooms of those we knew. We didn’t call ahead or set a time, we just showed up. Before there was Yahoo, there was Yoohoo, as in, “Yoo-hoo, anybody home?“.
Back then, instead of feeling imposed upon, by an unannounced visit, the host would welcome the unexpected disruption. The host(s) would fall all over themselves apologizing, if they didn’t have anything to offer guests, as expressed in the very popular 1950s hit “If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d've Baked a Cake”. Even if inconvenient, they’d insist you come in and sit down, and everyone would settle in for a visit.
There isn’t much to a “visit.” Talk, listen, talk listen. Not much else. We dropped in into see a new baby or to meet a friend’s out-of-town visitors. We dropped in on those who were going through hard times. We dropped in when we learned somebody had lost a loved one. On those occasions, we brought the cake–or a casserole, but mostly, we dropped in for no particular reason.
Visiting was a good pastime, but more importantly, it was a way of staying connected to the people in our communities and cultivating relationships with them. It was offering and getting support, without joining a support group. We knew our neighbors, and they new us. Back then, those who kept to themselves were considered to be odd or at least unfriendly. Now I live in a city, where most social visits are by appointment only, but where I come from a car in the driveway, is still as good as an invitation.
It is unlikely close friends could have stopped the thoughts in Holmes head, but what if Holmes had the kind of friends who drop in unannounced? If one person had realized how deeply troubled Holmes had become, what could he have done? Who could they have turned to for assistance? Even if one person had sensed Holmes was a time bomb with a short fuse, the authorities probably couldn’t have done much, because Holmes had yet to commit a crime.
It does no good to wonder. It is too late for the his victims, but they serve as a reminder to us all, we don’t live in a vacuum. We don’t always make the effort to get to know the people around us, but perhaps we should. If there is anything to be learned from this tragedy, it is that we need each other. We all need others to help us make sense out of what we go through, and to help us get through the things that don’t make sense.
The turkey is awaiting final preparation as the holiday season has officially begun. The sights, the sounds and the smells of the fall & winter holidays are alive with tradition. Whether the gathering of loved ones, sentimental rituals, or the taste of a a favorite family recipe, the romance of the season is in our memories of those past, and our hopes for those to come.
Traditions are merely memories. Memories we attempt to relive. Whether the smell of turkey in the oven, the magic of holiday lights, or the suspenseful wait for Christmas morning; our holiday celebrations attempt to recapture the best we can remember, and grab hold of the best we can imagine.
I love honoring old traditions, but believe each holiday is an opportunity to birth new ones. That is why, I was disappointed to realize that in my frantic preparations for this year’s new Thanksgiving tradition, I had forgotten the tradition I started a few years ago with my family. Each year on the eve of Thanksgiving, I prepare a very special meal.
Gratitude is a virtue worthy of celebration and practice. Ironically, my sense of gratitude causes me to have less enthusiasm for the holiday of Thanksgiving, than the act of giving thanks. We gather at tables set with plump birds and rich gravy. There will be stuffing made from bread and hot rolls with butter. There will be two kinds of potatoes, numerous side dishes and probably two kinds of pie. Thanksgiving is a feast of excess, in which we barely pause to consider all that we have. Many are the years, I’ve sat at tables listening to those assembled, list things for which they were thankful. If we truly took the time to acknowledge all the things for which we should be grateful, there would be no time to carve the turkey or cut those pies.
It is because of this, I started the tradition of serving my family a very special meal. It is a meal which might be served in any country on earth–a special dish which truly puts me in the proper mindset for the rest of the holiday season. I look forward to this meal each year, but not nearly as much as others who might eat this same meal today. This meal prepares me for a happy holiday season, by reminding of things taken for granted.
Our very special meal is rice. Not ordinary white rice like what might accompany Moo Goo Gai Pan, nor is it the fragrant Byrani basmati of Indian cuisine. It isn’t the creamy risotto from a trendy bistro, nor a tasty pilaf hiding flavorful treasures.
It is rice, simply rice. Barely substantial, no special preparation. Just rice.
The first time I served it my children were barely old enough to understand it.
The second year, they had already forgotten the previous year, and anxiously looked to see what would accompany the rice.
By the third year, they were beginning to better understand the meal. I am very thankful their understanding is the abstract type–not the kind had by those, for whom this bowl of rice would be a luxury.
In our country tomorrow, our garbage cans will be overflowing with food scraps–remnants of a feast, tossed, when those who ate it, had too much. We will try to figure out what to do with the leftovers, never considering the many in the world who live for weeks on less than what we discard. Alas, tomorrow, across our planet others will search garbage dumps to find food enough to stave off hunger.
Whether it be food we mindlessly waste, clothes we cast off for charity, or money we squander on unnecessary things, we hardly consider all that we have. We are more than fortunate, we are blessed beyond what those in many countries could even imagine.
Today as we sit down at our tables, I wish for you the kind of gratitude that is appropriate for the bounty on our tables, but also for all that we have in America.
I am truly fond of the older vehicle I drive! People might wonder why I like my ride better than anyone else’s. I can’t explain it–the old gal fits me, we go together.
I feel exactly the same about my gals–the ones on my chest. I’ve seen bigger, better and more expensive, but I like these. They fit me, we go together.
When I was younger I didn’t think beyond size and shape. It was all about appearance. Back then, I didn’t realize they would come to be a reminder of the wonder of motherhood or the vulnerability of womanhood.
I love mine. They are so much better than a hanger for showing off sweaters. I’m still amazed that they nourished the newborns. I love that they’ve often often provided a wonderfully soft place for a kid who needed comfort to rest a sad head. Unfortunately, just as with old cars, sometimes they go bad. Inherent with having breasts is a threat of breast cancer.
Having spent the first third of my life without breasts, it’s not like I couldn’t live without them. Sure, I’d miss them, but I’d be okay. Given a choice, I’d rather not have to say goodbye to mine. I spent more than the first half of my life without children, but unlike the breasts, I couldn’t bear saying goodbye to them—which is why I never skip the mammogram.
There are always questions about the worth of routine screening tests like mammograms, but they can and do save lives by diagnosing cancer in its earliest stages. Not a sure thing, but a good bet. I’ve won poker with a lesser hand–which in this case is nothing more than holding two of a kind.
The calendar having reminded me, it was time for my annual photo-shoot again, I had mine yesterday. It took less than an hour of my life–20 minutes of which was spent browsing a copy of ESPN’s NFL Preview. Except for the marginal magazine selection, I can’t understand why women avoid mammograms.
Had to take of my shirt. I’ve done that before.
Had my breasts handled and squeezed. Not the first time for that either.
What’s the big deal? Granted, I would have preferred a gentle fondle, but the big squeeze was over quickly, and still preferable to a prostate exam.
As the technician reviewed my latest series of B/W glossies, I was thinking about the reasons some of my girlfriends give for avoiding the procedure.
It’s unpleasant. Valid argument, but life is filled with little unpleasantries. Chemotherapy and radiation are more unpleasant.
If I have cancer, I don’t want to know.
Sorry, but if you have cancer at some point, you will not have the luxury of not-knowing. If the prospect of having cancer frightens you, it makes no sense to avoid something that might afford you the chance to eliminate cancer before it eliminates you.
It’s a personal choice.
Yes–dumb choice, but okay. If you’re a fan of making your own choices, consider how a terminal illness would limit yours. Are you the only one who gets a choice? Run this one by your kids: “Given the choice would you rather have Mom around or watch her die a painful death?” I’m guessing the kids won’t have any trouble making a wiser choice than you.
I’m going to die anyway.
No arguing that one, you have nothing to lose.
Maybe you won’t lose your breasts, maybe you won’t lose your hair, maybe you won’t lose your sense of well-being or your future, but the people around you will lose sleep over losing a person who plays an important part in their lives.
It’s my life.
Yeah, about that. Your life overlaps with those around you. Nobody wants to see you sick. Nobody wants to see you suffer. You may never be diagnosed with breast cancer, but refusing to have a mammogram shows a selfish disregard for those whose lives overlap with your own.
It’s your choice. It’s your life. You’re gonna die anyway.
Those raised on Snow White and Cinderella believe marriage to be a “happily ever after”. Sadly, sometimes “forever and ever“ is short-lived. There are lots of fairy tales, but alas life isn’t one.
This is the tale of a friend of a friend–I know it sounds suspect, but it‘s true. Though I’ve never met her, I know her story well. Like a school play, recast and re-enacted season after season, I’ve heard this one before.
She was married–married a respectable long time. Everyone who knew her, believed she was happy. She wasn’t. Her marriage was stagnant and she was lonely. She might have stuck it out longer, had it not been for the other man. She wasn’t looking for someone else, but before long she had fallen in love with someone who was not her husband.
I’d tell you her name, but it’s immaterial–and unless you are living in one of the better zip codes of Utopia, you can probably insert a familiar proper noun into this, not so far-fetched, real-life Mad Lib.
It was never her intent to start something else, it just happened.
(Yeah, I know it’s cliché, but Hans Christian Anderson would assure you it is perfectly true.)
Her husband was too preoccupied to notice that she was unhappy and too preoccupied to notice when she became preoccupied. What followed was unintended. She fell in love. Fortunately, or unfortunately for her, he fell in love too.
The double lives they lead left them both conflicted. She eventually she left her husband. She didn’t leave to be with this other man, she left because she was unhappy. She left because her husband had failed to make her feel loved. Nevertheless, the other man gave her the motivation and courage to give her former king the goodbye-look.
Then they lived happily ever after.
Did she love him? Wholeheartedly.
Did he love her? Absolutely.
While both were still married, they had envisioned a fantasy life together. So what was the deal breaker that turned this fairy tale into an unpleasant fable? Was it just another case of “Why sell the cow , when you can get the magic beans for free?”
You might surmise that they moved in together and found out they were incompatible, or that perhaps the spoiled princes and princesses from the previous unions became a contentious issue, or maybe he lost interest when the object of his desire was suddenly available, like a knight, who once in possession of the holy grail, begins to seek a new conquest? None of these is true.
Did he suddenly discover that he loved his wife more than his lover? Maybe, but I don’t think so. Before I share my own conclusion, let me tell you how the story ends.
She started over financially, emotionally and was ready for her prince to take her to a castle somewhere–except for one itsy-bitsy little detail–he was still married.
When she had made the decision to leave her husband, they had planned to marry. She would be free, he would leave his wife–they would live happily ever after. A Grimm’s fairy tale in the making, except this one becomes grim in a most unfortunate way.
Grimm and his other tale-telling pals forgot a couple details–the ones usually spelled out in pre-nupts.
Her knight had stuff. There were the heirs to his kingdom to consider, there were castles and lands to be divided, and there was a royal legacy of past memories. He loved this woman and would have loved to have made her his wife, but in short, it was too complicated. He had too much to lose. His castle wasn’t perfect, but it was more attractive than renting a thatched-roof cottage in a village far away.
Being a believer in fairy tales, I am convinced he had at least as much fondness for his lady-in-waiting, as for his wife, but he wasn’t ready to sacrifice half his kingdom. Leaving her meant giving up half of all he’d spent his life building. Not only that, but the honorable part of him, filled him with a sense of duty to the woman who had been there when he’d been out conquering and building his kingdom.
As lonely as Rapunzel locked in a tower, she lays awake at night crying for this Jack of Hearts who jacked her heart and her well-being.
He still lives in his castle, perhaps at night he lays awake dreaming of the damsel he distressed.
She has nothing. He has everything he had before. She has become Sleepwalking Beauty, with her life on hold, while everything around her goes on as before.
I wish the story were unique, but I have been privy to the tales of more than one woman who lost her heart in this kind of joust.
Sometimes the story has a different ending. There are men who leave their lives for their lover–especially if the princess comes with a dowry better than the stuff they stand to lose–you know, jewels, riches, cattle, or a better castle. Men who promise to leave their wives often don’t, and the ones who do may not be as gallant.